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Jimin hangs his trench coat on the clothing rack in his office and runs his palms down his emerald green turtleneck, smoothing out the wrinkles. He’s running a little late, but he tries to not let that upset him; he’s known the Chinese ambassador for a few years and Jimin is sure that Mr. Liu isn’t going to mind him being slightly late—especially not with the traffic he’d just gone through. Still, Jimin prides himself on his time management and consistency is key to keeping a good reputation, so he tries to hurry.

He takes off his beret, running his fingers through his hair as he glances at the mirror beside his desk and making sure he looks presentable. He brushes through his roots, clicking his tongue at the darkness that’s started peeking through the blonde strands and makes a mental note to schedule an appointment with his hairdresser, his hair a little too long for his liking.

Jimin picks up his soaked umbrella from where it’s leaned up against the door and shoves it into the umbrella stand as he makes his way out of the office, eyes flicking toward the mirror one last time. Satisfied that he doesn’t look like a flustered mess, he leaves the office and makes his way to the VIP dining hall, greeting his staff while he walks, politely smiling at the guests dining in the main area as he swerves past their tables. 

Jimin takes a deep breath as he stops before the entrance to the VIP area, pausing for a couple of seconds to collect himself before he opens the heavy wooden doors.

Mr. Liu is already inside, snacking on the appetizers and drinking chardonnay, and there’s another untouched glass of wine on the opposite side of him, waiting for Jimin. Jimin lets out a breath of relief, heading toward the wonderfully set table and smiles, pleased with his employees.

He quietly clears his throat, smile widening when Mr. Liu tilts his head up to meet his gaze.

“Jimin-ah,” he says, corners of his lips pleasantly curling upward. “Glad you could make it.”

Despite living in Korea for at least the past ten years, Mr. Liu’s words still come out with a light accent, syllables drawn out for a little too long. Jimin finds it endearing; Mr. Liu’s been a long time supporter of Jimin’s businesses, and he’s one of the first more important people that have become regular guests at Jimin’s restaurants.

“Sorry I’m late, Your Excellency.” Jimin bows politely, then takes a seat on the opposite end of the table, hand immediately latching onto the untouched wine glass. “It’s pouring outside, and the traffic is insane.”

Mr. Liu waves his hand dismissively, taking a long sip of his drink. “Jimin-ah,” he begins, placing the glass back down on the table. “I told you a million times, no need for honorifics.”

Jimin smiles apologetically, but both of them know he will never drop the formalities—he was raised to know better than that.

“To what do I owe this dinner invite, your Excellency?” Jimin questions, crossing his legs.

Mr. Liu frequently dines with his wife or his colleagues from the embassy—it’s not often just him and Jimin sitting down together for some dinner and wine. There must be something Mr. Liu is looking forward to discussing, and suddenly, Jimin is eager to hear it as well.

“Ah, yes.” Mr. Liu reaches down beside his chair and pulls out his briefcase, setting it onto his lap as he clicks it open. He takes out a few sheets of paper and Jimin furrows his brows, straightening up in his seat. 

Jimin leans over the table just as Mr. Liu puts the copies down, sliding them toward him. He blinks down at them a couple of times before he realizes—they’re proposals. 

“As you know, my wife is an interior designer, and I know you’ve been looking into opening another restaurant—Italian—if I’m not wrong?” Jimin nods his head. “She’s found this spot in Myeongdong. You might want to look into it. It’s very spacious and modern, but she’d be more than willing to transform it to your liking. Is that something you’d be interested in discussing, Jimin-ah?”

Jimin’s heart flutters with excitement and he angles his head, taking a better look. It’s always exciting discussing new projects, and Mr. Liu’s wife is one of the most successful interior designers in both China and Korea—Jimin has always admired her work. Mr. Liu presenting him with an opportunity like this is a dream come true.

Ever since Jimin was in college, he’d wanted to be a business owner. Now that he is, he’s more than grateful for opportunities like these basically falling into his lap.

One could argue Jimin had grown up having everything he ever wanted; his parents were upper middle class, and Jimin had never felt like he was missing anything through his childhood or young adult life. Still, he worked hard to succeed despite the luxuries in his life, and now that he owns not one, not two, but three of the most exclusive restaurants in Seoul it’s easy to say that Jimin really, truly has it all: the money, the security, the status, the connections, all of it. 

The only thing he doesn’t have is a life—a personal life, time to spend with friends and family, away from business. Sure, he sees Taehyung every Saturday and Namjoon and Seokjin work for him, but it’s just not the same as it was when he was fifteen years younger and finishing up college. 

Jimin barely has any time for himself nowadays; he’s constantly focused on making sure his business is running smoothly, that his staff are pleased as well as his guests, and he works ridiculous hours, sometimes staying long after the restaurant has closed and everyone has gone home.

Jimin doesn’t mind, because he doesn’t exactly have anyone to go home to. His apartment is too spacious and too empty, aside for when Taehyung comes to spend the day with him. The maid comes two times a week, but Jimin barely ever crosses paths with her—he’s usually at one of the restaurants when she arrives, and she’s long gone by the time Jimin returns home from work.

Sometimes, Jimin might bring someone home with him on nights that he and Taehyung go out together—and he’s okay with that. For the most part.

Jimin would never say he’s unhappy—he’s been in quite a few happy relationships, has even recently tried dating again, but it had quickly fallen through. Truly, Jimin doesn’t mind. He’s focused and driven, with his priorities straight, and though his parents would prefer for him to be settled down with someone by now, they’ve come to terms with the fact that the only thing Jimin is going to be settling down with is his business. And that is fine, because things are going so, so well, and he’s never been happier.

Sometimes, though, he’s overcome with the thought of how nice it would be to have someone that’s just his .

They’re in the middle of discussing Mr. Liu’s proposal and eating dessert when there’s a knock on the door, and the main host, Hoseok, is sticking his head inside with an apologetic look on his face.

“Sorry to disturb you both,” says Hoseok with a polite bow, nervously looking at Jimin. “But, um, there’s been an issue that requires—”

Jimin politely smiles at him, despite being irritated by the disturbance. “Hoseok-ssi, I’m sure you can have the manager handle it.”

“Uh, not really. This actually requires your attention.”

Jimin blinks. “My attention?” he asks, confused. “Are you sure?”

“Positive.” Hoseok nods. His eyes flick to Mr. Liu, and he bows again. “I’m really sorry for interrupting.”

“Sir, I’m really sorry about this,” Jimin says, sighing impatiently. “I’ll be back in just a minute—”

“Nonsense, Jimin-ah,” Mr. Liu smiles sympathetically, sliding out of his seat. “Don’t be ridiculous. We can pick this up some other time, when my wife is present. How does that sound?”

Relief floods through Jimin and he breathes out, rising to his feet and turning toward Hoseok as Mr. Liu gathers his things.

“Please make sure Mr. Liu is escorted out properly,” Jimin orders and Hoseok frantically nods, rushing toward the coat hanger to grab Mr. Liu’s coat. “Where do I need to go?”

“Right out front,” replies Hoseok. Jimin narrows his eyes, confused. What the hell would he need to go out front for? “We didn’t want to make a fuss…inside.”

Jimin’s stomach nervously knots but he still nods, heading out of the dining hall and entering the main area. His eyes quickly scan the room and much to his relief, everything seems to be running smoothly; quiet jazz music is circulating around the room, just slightly below the low noise of the chatter and cutlery hitting against the plates. Jimin rushes toward the front, briefly wondering if he should’ve stopped by his office to grab his trench coat.

The moment he sets foot outside, he realizes he definitely should have; it’s freezing. Jimin doesn’t have much time to focus on that, though, considering that his manager is talking to two police officers and a tall guy standing beside them, one who Jimin’s never seen before.

He furrows his brows, rushing toward them.

“Seokjin hyung, what is going on?” he asks as he approaches them, growing more confused by the second.

“There you are,” says Seokjin, turning on his heel to greet him. “We’ve got a situation.”

Jimin’s gaze slides toward the two policemen, and he cocks an eyebrow. “A situation?” he questions. His eyes briefly dart toward the guy that’s standing beside them; he’s dressed nicely and it’s the first thing Jimin notices—maybe not in designer clothes, but he’s still well put together and his expression doesn’t give out much, other than the fact that he’s slightly irritated. The second thing Jimin notices is that he’s young. “What’s going on?”

“Jimin-ssi,” the policeman starts and Jimin focuses his attention on him, tilting his eyebrows. “This kid right here and his friends decided it’d be fun to make a ridiculously high tab in your restaurant and then leave without paying.”

Jimin can’t help the snort that escapes him. “Excuse me?” He looks at the guy again, then back at the cop. “They tried to do what?”

He swallows the laugh which bubbles up in his throat because he shouldn’t be finding this as funny as he does, but this has never happened to him before. Jimin’s restaurants are too expensive for anyone to even try doing this and booking a table—unless you personally know Jimin or Seokjin—takes weeks in advance. Nobody’s ever bothered going through that much trouble before.

“Leave without paying,” repeats Seokjin impatiently, glancing back toward the restaurant entrance.

And Jimin gets it—Seokjin has work to do. It’s a busy night tonight, and he shouldn’t be dealing with this. Jimin rubs the side of his face with a sigh, rolling his eyes.

“Let’s go inside,” he says, turning around and gesturing for everyone to follow behind him. “We can deal with this in my office, it’s freezing out here. Hyung, you can go back to work. I’ll take it from here.”

“Thank fuck,” Seokjin mutters only so Jimin can hear, and Jimin giggles as they walk back inside, shaking his head.

Seokjin rushes off and Jimin points everyone to his office, closing the door behind them.

“So,” he walks over toward his desk, leaning against it as he folds his arms over his chest. “What exactly happened? Where are the rest of his friends?”

“Well, from what one of the servers told us, they all left one by one,” the policeman says and his partner nods. “That’s how they noticed something was up. The booth started emptying up until it was just this one left—” the cop nods toward the kid who makes a sound of protest but doesn’t really say anything “—and the servers alerted the manager who immediately contacted us, and we caught him just as he was trying to get out.”

With a sigh, Jimin runs his hand through his hair. He’s not happy about his dinner being interrupted, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t find the situation at least a little entertaining. This has never happened before and Jimin just—he should be angry. He should probably be revolted too, but he’s not. Frankly, he doesn’t exactly feel bothered by this.

Jimin takes another good look at the kid, quirking an eyebrow. He can’t be a day older than twenty-five, Jimin thinks, eyes carefully studying him, taking him in. He’s tall, lean and nicely built, long hair framing his face, cheekbones sharp but his cheeks unusually soft-looking, making Jimin realize he might not even be that old. The kid is in his twenties for sure, but twenty-five might be a stretch.

“Would you like to press charges, sir?” the policeman asks and Jimin raises his hand, signaling him to be quiet.

He taps his index finger against his lower lip, thinking. Does he want to press charges? He definitely should, that’s for sure. That’s what any good restaurant owner would do.

“What’s your name?” he asks, voice quiet and gentle, like he’s talking to a guest of his.

“Jeon Jeongguk,” the kid replies and his soft voice echoes inside Jimin’s office, making his cheeks feel strangely warm. Alright, Jeon Jeongguk.

Jeongguk looks him straight in the eye, not a hint of shame or guilt in his big, round eyes. Jimin shouldn’t be wasting time asking questions but somehow, he can’t help himself.

“And what do you do, Jeon Jeongguk?”

“I’m a college student,” Jeongguk replies confidently, and the tone of his voice has chills running down Jimin’s spine. Jeongguk’s lips curl into a slight smile and Jimin catches himself almost smiling back. “On weekends I work at Burger King, though.”

Jimin narrows his eyes. It’s possibly been around ten years since he had last set foot into Burger King, but if Burger King employees look like that, maybe he should reconsider.

“Sir?” the policeman presses and Jimin turns to him, irritated. “The charges?”

Jimin sighs, running his hand through his hair, frustrated that he doesn’t have more time to think about this. It’s not like him to be impulsive, but it’s not totally unlike him to be weak for a pretty face. And this kid in front of him—he’s more than just a pretty face. He’s gorgeous.

“No,” he finally says, watching the way Jeongguk’s eyes light up and the way he harshly bites into his lower lip, holding back a victorious smile. “I won’t be pressing charges.”

The decision seems to catch the policemen off guard and Jimin watches them exchange judgmental glances, making Jimin’s skin feel all hot and itchy.

“We really advise you to reconsider—”

“I said I won’t be pressing charges,” Jimin repeats, tone icy and stern. “You’re free to go, gentlemen. Thank you for your services.”

“But we ins—”

“Let me show you out.” Jimin smiles sweetly, gesturing toward the door. He ignores Jeongguk’s eyes on him as he walks the two policemen out, signaling for one of his staff to take over so he can return to the office.

Once one of the hosts approaches them, the policemen hand Jimin the copy of the report and Jimin huffs in annoyance as he walks back, only then realizing he’s still going to have to deal with that kid.

When he walks back in, Jeongguk is getting ready to leave.

“Not so fast,” Jimin says, closing the door behind him again. Jeongguk freezes mid-step, eyes darkening as he looks back at him. “Where’d you think you’re going?”

Jeongguk pauses, sucking his bottom lip between his teeth. He looks at him with dark, wary eyes and Jimin walks back toward his desk, dumping the report on it and leaning back against it. There’s something interesting about this kid apart from the obvious good looks, and Jimin thinks it’s probably the way he carries himself; he didn’t look one bit bothered that the police had caught him trying to sneak out without paying the tab, and now he just seems…wary of him. Jimin, of all people.

“You said you won’t press charges,” Jeongguk finally speaks up, shoving his hands into the back pockets of his dark pants. “Not sure why I should stick around here any longer. Thanks for that, by the way.”

Jimin scoffs, narrowing his eyes at him. “You didn’t think I was just going to let you go, did you?”

Maybe, for a split second, Jimin did consider it, but this kid doesn’t need to know that.

For the first time, there’s a flash of uncertainty in Jeongguk’s eyes and he uncomfortably shifts his weight, biting harder into his bottom lip. “I was kind of hoping you would.”

“Not a chance, kid.” Jimin walks around the desk and then settles into his chair, crossing his legs and propping his elbows onto the wooden surface, clasping his hands together and resting his chin on top of them. He nods toward the small armchair that’s leaned up on the left side of the wall. “Sit down.”

Hesitantly, Jeongguk does. He looks more irked than scared, which makes Jimin feel a certain type of way, but he’s possibly too busy looking at the way Jeongguk’s dark curls fall into his eyes to think about it much.

“So—”

“How old are you?”

Jeongguk opens, then closes his mouth. Then opens it again. “Twenty-three,” he says, furrowing his brows. “Look—”

Jimin ignores the way his stomach swoops. He’s young, but he’s not that young. He’s old enough to know better.

“And what were you thinking, at the age of twenty-three, booking an expensive restaurant and trying to bail without paying?” Jimin asks, just a hint of amusement in his voice.

Jeongguk reaches to rub the back of his neck and Jimin’s eyes involuntarily glue to the way his arm muscles flex as he does so, making him feel only a slight twinge of shame for being so superficial. But, the more Jimin looks at him, the more he’s aware of just how ridiculously attractive this guy is and if Jimin ever had a type—this guy would be it.

“So?”

“Well, my friends and I were celebrating my birthday, for one—”

Jimin tilts his head back and bursts out laughing, not bothering to cover his mouth with his hand. “Your birthday?” he asks, eyes widening. “And your friends all got out and left you to take the fall on your birthday?”

Jeongguk glares at him and presses his lips together, vividly pissed off. It makes heat spread down Jimin’s neck, makes tingles run down his spine and claw at the dip of his back. He shifts in his seat, uncrossing and crossing his legs again.

“You asked,” Jeongguk accuses and Jimin holds his hands up defensively, still quietly laughing. “It’s tradition.”

“For the birthday boy to get caught?”

“For us to bail without paying,” Jeongguk explains impatiently, letting out a huff. “Whenever it’s someone’s birthday, we book an expensive restaurant, we order as many things as we can, we eat and then we bail.”

Jimin scrunches his nose. “Why do you do that?”

“Because fuck capitalism,” Jeongguk says, lips curling into a smile. “And fuck rich people.”

Jimin cocks an eyebrow. “Interesting.” He runs his fingers through his hair, then leans back into his chair, clasping his hands over his lower stomach. “Alright, well. Guess it sucks to be you today then, huh?”

Jeongguk’s jaw tightens. “I guess you could say that. Look, I’m sorry or whatever. But our tab was what—a few hundred thousand won? I assure you that your asshole of a boss won’t even feel it—”

“My asshole of a boss is, I’m afraid, me.”

Jeongguk stops mid-sentence, jaw falling slack, eyes widening. “You—um. You own this restaurant?”

Jimin tilts his eyebrows, teeth sinking into his lower lip. “This one and two more.” He nods into the general direction of his other restaurants. “You might have tried to rob me at one of them as well, who knows.”

Jeongguk’s cheeks flush a bright shade of red and he squirms in his seat, aggressively rubbing the back of his neck. “I—uh—I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that you’re Park Jimin. I didn’t realize that the owner—”

“Is present?” Jimin supplies.

Jeongguk pauses, hands dropping into his lap. He twiddles his thumbs, nervously bouncing both of his legs. “Yeah, something like that.”

“Well, I am.” Jimin says, not unkindly. “I like to make sure everything is running smoothly. This one is my favorite restaurant because it’s French and also because it’s the first one I opened, so not-so-luckily for you, I’m here pretty much all the time. I take one day a week to go to the other two and check if everything’s going fine.”

Jeongguk looks at a loss for words. Jimin can’t entirely fault his logic; he has a few acquaintances in the business and the majority of them prefer staying at home while their managers run their restaurants, but that’s never been Jimin. He’d always been very hands-on, very involved, and he’d not once allowed anyone to make an executive decision for him, let alone without him.

“I’m sorry,” Jeongguk says. It’s hard to say he looks guilty, but he doesn’t look smug anymore and if anything, he’s mostly just uncomfortable. Jimin doesn’t want to make him feel that way, but he also doesn’t want to just let him off the hook so easily. “We just…” he trails off, gesturing vaguely. “It’s stupid. We do this a couple times a year for my and a hyung of mine’s birthday. We’re not like—criminals. We’re just broke college students.”

Jimin nods. He can understand that. Maybe twenty-three-year-olds aren’t children, but they’re still prone to making stupid decisions. Hell, Jimin makes stupid decisions too, and he’d probably just made one by not pressing charges on this kid and teaching him a lesson, but it’s too late to think about that now.

“I get that,” Jimin says. “You don’t regret doing it though, do you?”

After a pause, Jeongguk shakes his head no. “No,” he admits, and Jimin can appreciate the honesty despite it not being what he had wanted to hear. “It sucks that I got caught, though. And I am sorry for inconveniencing you. I didn’t realize you’re the owner, so—I’m sorry for that.”

Jimin sighs and gets up, biting the inside of his cheek as he circles around his desk and gets closer to Jeongguk. He’s handsome, really handsome and Jimin’s cheeks flush as he gets closer, able to see his features more clearly. He stares at the pretty curve of his cupid’s bow, the blemishes on his skin that somehow make him even more attractive.

“Okay, well,” Jimin begins, clearing his throat. “Listen. I’m not trying to be an asshole here, but I also can’t just let you walk away and pretend like nothing happened. You did try to steal from me, essentially, so I really don’t have much of a choice here. You’re gonna have to pay this off.”

Jeongguk swallows, not saying anything. Jimin walks over to the desk to grab the police report he’d left there earlier, grabs his glasses and scans through the page, trying to find what the exact amount of the tab was.

“Alright, so,” Jimin says, eyes lingering on the sheet of paper for a moment longer before he looks at Jeongguk again. “You guys made a bill of one million and two hundred thousand won. That’s…well. Neither here nor there but considering the deal I’m going to propose to you, it’s going to take around two months to pay that money back.”

Jeongguk’s eyes widen and his jaw tightens, but he doesn’t say anything, rather allows Jimin to continue. He probably didn’t expect the amount to be that high—but Jimin’s restaurants are expensive.

“You said you work at Burger King on weekends, correct?”

Jeongguk nods. “Yeah. Saturdays and Sundays. Afternoon shifts.”

“Alright. Well, add four more days to those two. You can work in the kitchen. Wash the dishes.” Jimin shrugs.

Jeongguk gnaws on his bottom lip, processing. “I have classes during the day,” he finally says, shoulders slouching in defeat. “I can work afternoons or evenings, if that’s okay.”

“Fine by me,” says Jimin. “You can work evenings, afternoons, mornings whenever. I don’t care. You don’t have to do full hours if you have a lot of work to do for your classes, but just know that the less hours you work, the longer it’s going to take you to pay this off.” He reaches for the phone on his desk, signaling Jeongguk to wait. “Hold on one second.”

Jimin grabs the phone from his desk, dialing a familiar number he already knows by heart. Seokjin answers almost immediately.

“Jimin-ah. Everything gone well with the cops?”

“Perfect, hyung.” Jimin replies. “Can you get over here, though? There’s some paperwork we need to sort out quickly.”

Jeongguk looks at him with a blank face, and it’s easy to tell he’s not happy about this, but Jimin doesn’t care. Maybe he won’t teach this kid a lesson, but he’s still going to get his money back.

“Now what?” Jeongguk asks when Jimin hangs up the phone, crossing his legs in an attempt to calm his nerves.

“Now we wait for my manager to come draft you a contract,” Jimin smiles sweetly, leaning back against the edge of the desk. “You might be into illegal shit but here, we do things by the book.”

Jimin suppresses a giggle that almost escapes him when he hears Jeongguk audibly swallow.

 

 

The entirety of next week turns out to be super busy. Jimin barely manages to pop by his other two restaurants and sit down for a coffee with Namjoon—he even has to cancel plans to go shopping with Taehyung, despite the fact that there are two weddings both of them have to attend—one in two weeks from now, the other in a couple of months.

So, when Jimin gets a free moment on a busy Friday night, he makes his way to Seokjin’s office, looking for an unopened bottle of Marcassin chardonnay he’d gifted Seokjin for his birthday last year. Seokjin isn’t going to mind—Jimin will get him a new one, anyway.

“Where’s that Marcassin I gifted you?” Jimin asks, barging in through the door. Seokjin looks up at him from where he’s seated behind his desk, going over some papers. “Hyung. I know you keep it in here.”

“Behind me in the cupboard,” Seokjin says with a sigh, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Jimin rushes past him, letting out a victory hum the moment he opens the cupboard and gets his hands on the wine bottle. “Drinking on the job?”

“I’m exhausted,” Jimin complains, holding the bottle close to his chest. “And if you’re here, that implies that everything over there—” Jimin nods his head toward the door, “is running smoothly. I just want to take a breather; I’m done for tonight.”

“Then go home,” Seokjin says. “Jimin-ah. Take the damn wine and go home.”

“Yeah, not happening,” Jimin says, shaking his head and tightening his grip around the wine bottle. “I’m closing up tonight. So much shit’s been going on lately, I’ve not closed a single day this week.”

“Speaking of shit,” Seokjin starts, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms. “That little shit’s here tonight. Working.”

Jimin narrows his eyes. “Little shit?”

Seokjin nods. “Yeah, that Jeongguk kid.”

“Oh,” Jimin says, blinking. “Oh.”

“Yeah, he’s down in the kitchen right now. No problems with him so far, though I have heard from some one of the boys working with him that he had complained about having to wash the dishes despite us having an actual dishwasher to do that, which I thought was funny.”

Jimin tilts his head back and laughs, teeth biting into his bottom lip. With everything that’s been going on this past week, he’d completely forgotten about the kid who’d tried to leave his restaurant without paying merely a week ago.

Suddenly, something inside of Jimin itches to see Jeongguk and he’s restless on his feet. He waves Seokjin off and leaves his office, heading toward the bar to grab a huge wine glass and pour himself a drink, chatting to Hoseok in passing and making sure everything’s going well.

He takes his glass and shoves the cork back into the bottle, tucking it underneath his arm as he walks over toward doors which lead to the kitchen, opening them with his hip. He greets the chefs and some of the staff, walking through the kitchen, avoiding the busy waiters which rush back and forth with trays in their hands. He gets to the stairs, carefully navigating his way down and sighing in relief when he realizes there’s not nearly as many people in the dish washing area.

Quickly enough—he spots Jeongguk. He’s broader than the other two boys working beside him, definitely a lot taller, and maybe Jimin is biased, but he’s definitely a lot more handsome as well. He’s wearing a loose black long-sleeve top, sleeves pushed all the way up to his elbows, and the small gap between the rubber gloves he's wearing and the fabric of his shirt reveals a whole sleeve of tattoos.

Jimin feels something curling at the base of his stomach and takes a long gulp of his wine, not letting himself get too flustered. So he has tattoos. Big deal.

“Kim, Park,” he addresses the two boys beside Jeongguk, making all three of them jump up in surprise and turn to him. Jimin refuses to let his eyes immediately dart to Jeongguk so he fixes his gaze on the Park kid instead, softly smiling at him. “Two of you go up to the kitchen and help the servers clean up faster, yeah? It’s a busy night.”

They quickly take their gloves off and rush upstairs after a ninety-degree bow, leaving Jimin and Jeongguk all alone. Jimin’s pulse quickens when his eyes settle on Jeongguk and it’s only his second time seeing his kid, but Jimin’s forgotten just how easy on the eyes he really is.

“Hey,” says Jimin and Jeongguk bows in return, then quickly turns to rinse off the plate in his hands. Jimin walks over toward the counter and leans up against it, placing the bottle beside him and curling his fingers tighter around his glass. “How’s it going?”

“Good,” replies Jeongguk, blowing up at his bangs and wiping his forehead with his forearm. “Today’s probably the busiest day of the week.”

“You’ve been here this past week, yeah?”

Jeongguk glances over at him and Jimin takes a sip of his wine, carefully studying his face.

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says, patting the plate dry and putting it to the side. “Every day since Tuesday. Four days a week, like you said.”

“Good,” Jimin hums. He stares down at his glass, feeling the warmth of the chardonnay settle down in his stomach. If Jimin drinks fast enough, his cheeks will soon be flushed red and he’ll no longer feel so awkward. He doesn’t even know why he came down here in the first place, but Jeongguk is just…too nice to look at for Jimin to just take his wine and leave now.

Silence awkwardly hangs between them as Jeongguk continues doing the dishes while Jimin quietly sips on wine, watching him move. For a moment he wonders if he’s overstepping a boundary, if he’s being weird or patronizing in some way, but the moment Jeongguk tilts his head to the side and smirks at him once Jimin downs his drink, he realizes that’s probably not the case.

“Wine that good, huh?”

“One of the best,” Jimin agrees, gradually feeling the way heat floods his cheeks. “I’d let you try it, but you’re working.”

“I don’t like wine,” replies Jeongguk, shrugging carelessly.

“Oh, yeah?” Jimin asks, cocking an eyebrow. “Could’ve fooled me, considering you and your friends ordered one of the most expensive bottles we have on the list.”

Jimin watches as Jeongguk’s cheeks color a bright shade of pink, and it’s not the first time Jimin sees him blush, but it stills makes his heart weirdly flutter. Jeongguk ducks his head down and continues rinsing the dishes as Jimin pours more wine into his glass, then jumps up to sit on the counter.

“My hyung loves wine,” says Jeongguk, and he sounds only a little guilty. “So maybe that had something to do with it.”

Jimin hums. “Smart hyung.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk huffs, blowing up at his bangs again. “He is.” He looks at Jimin, lips curling into a smile. “He’s also the one who told me that rich people suck ass.”

Jimin makes a face, sticking his bottom lip out. He takes a sip of wine, shrugging. “And he’s also the one who managed to get out and leave you here to potentially get arrested.”

Jeongguk lets out a strangled noise, cheeks darkening. Jimin crosses his legs, dusting off his expensive slacks as he props his elbow onto his thigh and brings the brim of the glass to his lips.

“Okay, point taken.” Jeongguk finally says, sighing. He finishes the load and takes the rubber gloves off, finally turning around to fully face Jimin, smoothing his hands down his apron. “So, what brings you here? Haven’t seen you around the past few days.”

“Been busy,” Jimin says, gesturing vaguely. “You see how it gets. Luckily, I have Seokjin to help run things perfectly. You’ve mostly been in contact with him, no?”

“No.” Jeongguk folds his arms over his chest. “Hoseok hyung, the main host.”

“Hyung already, huh?” Jimin asks, not holding back a smile. “That’s good. Means you’re getting along with the staff.”

Jeongguk quirks an eyebrow, biting his lower lip. “What did you think was going to happen? That I was gonna try and rob the place and cause trouble with everyone?”

Jimin pauses, swirling the wine glass in his hand. Truthfully, he didn’t think that—not at all—but he didn’t really know what to expect, either. He doesn’t know this guy; anything is possible. “Maybe,” he says. “Who knows.”

Jeongguk tilts his head back and laughs, running his fingers through his hair. “Maybe?” he asks, shaking his head. “I’m a college student, Jimin-ssi. Not a high-class criminal.”

“Nobody said anything about you being high-class. Don’t flatter yourself, kid.” Jimin jokes and Jeongguk’s face flushes again. Despite this guy in front of him looking drop-dead gorgeous even in the ugly restaurant apron he still, somehow, manages to be cute, too.

They stare at each other silently for a while, and Jimin can’t figure out the look on Jeongguk’s face; the flush in his cheeks has faded and he’s staring at Jimin with dark, intense eyes, just a hint of something behind them, something Jimin can’t really figure out.

Maybe it’s a little awkward and Jimin has no business being here, but Jeongguk doesn’t look like he minds at all. If anything, he looks slightly amused, and there’s even a smirk tugging at the corner of his lips.

“Alright, maybe not high-class,” Jeongguk chuckles, rubbing the side of his face. “Still, not exactly a criminal. Just a dumbass who got caught.”

Jimin can agree with that. “So, what do you study? In college, I mean,” he clarifies, unnecessarily.

“I’m not telling you.” Jeongguk’s eyes suddenly widen, cheeks burning hot again.

Jimin blinks. “Why?”

“You’re gonna laugh.”

“Um.” Jimin presses his lips together, narrowing his eyes. “Why would I laugh?”

Jeongguk shifts his weight, gnawing on his bottom lip as he awkwardly clears his throat. Jimin tilts his head to the side, ignoring the hair that falls into his eyes as he looks back at him. The tension dissolves slower than Jimin would like it to and it only makes his confusion grow. Still, he sits there quietly, patiently sipping on wine as he waits.

“Just—because.”

“You’re a college student,” Jimin says, brows pinched together. “I’m pretty sure that whatever it is you’re studying, I wouldn’t laugh at that. But you don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to.”

“No, just.” Jeongguk rubs the side of his face, sighing. “Promise you won’t laugh.”

“I won’t laugh.”

“Hospitality management.”

“Hos—” Jimin’s voice cuts off and his hand quickly rushes to cover the laugh threatening to escape him. He swallows it down and shakes his head, rubbing his temple with his fingers. “Hospitality management.”

“You said you wouldn’t laugh,” Jeongguk says, sounding so accusatory it makes Jimin smile warmly at him.

“I’m not laughing. Just—the irony.”

“Whatever,” Jeongguk huffs, making a face that reminds Jimin just how young he is.

There are footsteps coming from the stairs and Jimin figures it’s a new batch of dishes for Jeongguk to wash, so he hops off the counter, collects his bottle and greets the waiter who dumps the dishes onto the pile beside Jeongguk. Jeongguk lets out a tired sigh.

“Well, I won’t keep you anymore,” Jimin says, turning over his shoulder to smile at him. “I just came to check in on you, anyway. Have a good night, kid.”

“The name’s Jeongguk,” Jeongguk grumbles and Jimin laughs as he makes his way up the stairs, shaking his head.

Jimin knows exactly what his name is.

Jimin’s stomach flutters as he makes his way back to the office; maybe it’s just the fact that he’d drunk two glasses of wine in a short amount of time, but something about Jeongguk makes Jimin feel a bit light-headed. Obviously—Jimin isn’t trying anything. He’s not going to keep looming around him, and hell, the guy is probably as straight as a pole. It’s not even about that.

It’s just…interesting. That’s the word he’s looking for. It’s unexpected because Jeongguk appeared out of nowhere, trying to get away with something Jimin’s never had anyone try to get away with in any of his restaurants during all these years and if Jimin is just a little intrigued, well—he can’t help it.

He’s passionate about running his restaurants but he wouldn’t exactly call the job refreshing, not after just over ten years he’d spent doing this. But, last week’s situation with Jeongguk, no matter how unexpected and maybe even uncomfortable, was a breath of fresh air and oddly enough, after the week Jimin’s just had, Jeongguk feels like a breath of fresh air, too.

Young and reckless—two things Jimin isn’t. At the age of thirty-seven he’s proud to say that he’s accomplished so many things, but only because he’s planned hard and worked harder. Jimin isn’t used to anything unexpected happening—much like Jeongguk happened—and he definitely didn’t expect the kid to say that of all things, he studies hospitality management. It’s so close to what Jimin used to study fifteen years ago, when he realized his true calling was the business side of things, and here Jeongguk was, washing the dishes in an attempt to pay off the tab he and his friends made, studying to essentially become something Jimin is today.

As Jimin closes the door to his office and leans back against it, pouring more wine into his glass, he has an odd feeling seeping through his skin. Something tells him this kid will have a much bigger impact on his life than he’d ever let himself believe.

 

 

“God, I love that color on you,” Taehyung says, waving his hand toward Jimin’s suit.

It’s a classic black suit and Jimin wrinkles his nose in response, running a hand through his hair. “It’s just black,” he says simply.

“Exactly.” Taehyung nods vigorously, tipping his head back and downing his champagne. He leans further back into the sofa of their dressing room, dramatically crossing his legs. “When was the last time you wore all black? You’re always in those—” Taehyung waves his plastic champagne glass around, gesturing vaguely. “Creams. Whites. You know?”

“Guess that’s true,” Jimin agrees, plopping down onto the sofa next to him, also taking a champagne glass from the tray beside it.

“You were so much more fun in college,” Taehyung sighs, slumping further down the sofa. “Damn it, so was I. What happened to us, Jimin-ah?”

Jimin snorts into his glass, a bit of champagne messily dripping down his chin. He wipes it with his thumb and takes another sip before he shrugs, tapping his foot against the floor.

“We got old, Taehyung-ah,” he says dully, eyes locking with Taehyung’s. He reaches to trace his fingertips right along the slight wrinkles around Taehyung’s eyes which immediately earns him a smack on the hand. Jimin tilts his head back and laughs, ignoring the way Taehyung glares at him. “Seriously, we’re pushing forty. We’re both business owners. We barely have any time to be fun.”

“I know, I hate it.” Taehyung grimaces. “You’re getting that suit, aren’t you?”

Jimin looks down at the suit he's wearing, pursing his lips. “Yeah. You getting yours?”

“Yeah.” Taehyung takes the glass from Jimin’s hand and downs the rest of the champagne, humming contentedly as he swallows it down. “I honestly don’t even give a fuck about this stupid wedding.”

“Me neither, but we RSVPed and we did use to be friends with both of them in college,” Jimin says, but still makes a face. “Did you get a plus one?”

Taehyung nods. “Did you?”

“Yeah,” Jimin says absentmindedly, gnawing on his bottom lip. He stares off into the large mirror in front of them, studying his and Taehyung’s reflections. Objectively, they’re both very attractive. Taehyung with his silver hair and slender figure, his doll-like face with features so beautiful and delicate he makes every person in his presence starstruck. 

Jimin knows he’s an attractive man, too. He’d never had issues getting dates or getting laid, he’d attract a lot more attention that he would give, yet here they both were, a couple years away from turning forty, both successful yet both alone. 

“You taking anyone?”

“Actually, yes,” Taehyung says, suddenly perking up. Jimin hates the way his stomach drops, but he still smiles supportively at his friend, arching an eyebrow. “Are you gonna take that—” Taehyung pauses, pressing his index finger to his lips, brows furrowing as he tries to remember. “That one. What was his name again?”

“Taehyung, I found out he was married, remember?”

“Oh, right.” Taehyung slams his palm against his forehead, shaking his head. “Shit, Jimin-ah. But the two of you have only gone out like, what? Twice? How’d you find out, anyway? It totally slipped my mind.”

“Three times,” Jimin says, not-so-fondly recalling the dates. “Wasn’t even that good. Turns out my host, Hoseok, lives in the same building he does. Knows he has a wife and a kid and all that good stuff.”

It’s been a few months since that fiasco, and Jimin regrets ever giving the guy a chance in the first place. He wasn’t his type, at all. He was a lot older than Jimin would usually go for; fifty-something with a nasty divorce behind him—or so he said—when it turned out that the guy was still married and had a kid. Jimin usually goes for people around his age or in their early thirties because younger men are just more fun , more eager to please and do well, but he’d been lonely and gave it a chance. 

The worst part of it all is Jimin doesn’t even want to date. He never wanted to, even with this guy, but Seokjin thought he was too handsome to allow Jimin to just pass up an opportunity like this, and Jimin thought it might be a good time to try and get out of his comfort zone.

Jimin’s comfort zone is being alone and doing what he wants and who he wants, when he wants.

“Right. What a fucker.” Taehyung huffs, blowing up at his silver bangs. “And I’m taking my assistant, to answer your question.”

Jimin’s eyes widen. “You’re dating your assistant? Taehyung-ah! He’s like—he’s like—” Jimin gestures vaguely, running out of words to say. “He’s like twenty.”

“I’m not dating him.” Taehyung rolls his eyes. Jimin gives him a look. “Okay, I’m not dating him yet. And he’s not twenty, you fool, he’s twenty-four.”

Somehow, against Jimin’s will, his thoughts immediately dart back to Jeongguk. It’s been two days since he’d paid Jeongguk a visit while he was working and much to Jimin’s dismay, he hasn’t exactly stopped thinking about the kid for longer than a couple of hours. It’s stupid because Jimin isn’t necessarily into younger guys, not that much younger at least, and he’s not even into Jeongguk but he just—he just won’t stop occupying ‘s thoughts. 

If it doesn’t stop soon, Jimin’s going to find that to be a problem.

“He’s way too young,” Jimin huffs and looks away, the collar of his dress shirt feeling too tight around his neck. “Twenty-four.”

Taehyung quirks an eyebrow, unimpressed. “Twenty-four is young, but it’s not too young. He’s an adult, with a job. You weren’t twenty-four that long ago, so stop acting ancient. We’re getting old, but we’re not the elderly, Jesus Christ.”

“We’re gonna be thirty-eight real soon,” Jimin sighs, though he appreciates the sentiment. He yawns and rubs his eyes with his knuckles, thoughts still sticking to Jeongguk, refusing to leave his mind. “We’re not that old, but we’re still old. Besides, since when are you into younger men?”

Taehyung shrugs, sweeping his bangs away from his forehead. “Since I realized that age doesn’t matter as far as we’re both grown, consenting adults. You know I thought he was super cute for months. I told you that.”

“Yeah, I just didn’t think you’d act on it, I guess.” Jimin shrugs. He’s not the one to judge, he really isn’t. If anything, he’s happy for Taehyung—just a little taken aback. Jimin doesn’t think he’d ever gone for lower than twenty-nine but to be fair, Taehyung is right. It’s just odd entertaining the thought now that Jeon Jeongguk has entered his peripheral and won’t leave his head.

“I mean I wasn’t going to unless he approached me first, which he did,” Taehyung explains. “And he’s just—he’s cute. He gets nervous around me and I think he’s a good guy, so I’m gonna take him to the wedding and see how things go. There’s no pressure and if it doesn’t work out, you know me. I’m not going to hold it against him and make his life a living hell or anything like that. That’s not the kind of person I am.”

“Yeah, no, I know,” Jimin agrees, feeling a twinge of guilt for reacting the way he did. “I know that and you’re right. Guess I’m just a little frustrated that I’m going to this wedding alone.”

“That you’re going alone or that you’re going to a wedding, period?”

Jimin’s stomach churns and he tilts his head back and lets his eyes fall shut, a groan slipping past his lips. Taehyung’s got a point.

“And not just one wedding. Two weddings. The other one’s too soon, if you ask me.”

Weddings aren’t as frequent of an occasion nowadays, when he and the majority of his ex-classmates and his friends are nearing forty. They used to be unavoidable in his late twenties and early thirties but now—they’re rare, and Jimin is less fond of them than he ever was before.

“So, you’re not taking anyone?” Taehyung asks and Jimin shakes his head no. “Oh, come on. You could take whoever you want. Live a little, Jimin-ah. Or just, I dunno. Take Namjoon, or whatever.”

Jimin scoffs. “Don’t be ridiculous. Namjoon has to work, and even if he had free time, we all know he’d be spending it on a weekend getaway with Seokjin hyung.”

Taehyung makes a face and rolls his eyes, clicking his tongue in annoyance. “I keep forgetting about those two. Well, whatever. Don’t you have like, a bunch of hot servers? Last time I was at the restaurant there was that really hot one, what was his name—ah—Hoseok. Take him. The restaurant will survive a day without him.”

Despite Taehyung mentioning Hoseok, all Jimin can think about is Jeongguk. It’s the only thing that occupies his mind and Jimin’s cheeks burn hot; it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing that he’s unable to shut his brain off. Jimin is not going to allow himself to drool after some possibly straight kid, and he’s especially not going to drool after a twenty-three-year-old. If only his brain would cooperate.

“I know that face,” Taehyung interrupts his thoughts and Jimin looks at him, eyebrows knitting in confusion. “You—you have something with Hoseok. Oh my god. You think he’s hot. How did I not notice this before, what the fuck?”

“What?” Jimin’s eyes widen, mouth popping open. “No. Absolutely fucking not. I’m not even thinking about Hoseok. Besides, he’s taken. What is wrong with you?”

“Then, who is it?”

“Huh?”

“Don’t give me that, Jimin-ah.” Taehyung rolls his eyes, irritated. “I’ve known you for over twenty years.”

Jimin groans and runs his hand through his hair, glancing over at his reflection so he doesn’t have to look at Taehyung.

“Spill.”

“I’m not actively thinking about anyone. It’s just that—there’s this kid I met the other week,” Jimin sighs, giving up. “He and his friends had dinner at my restaurant and then tried to leave without paying. The police only got one of them and asked me if I wanted to press charges, which I didn’t.”

“Oh?” Taehyung asks, perking up.

“But I didn’t just let him go. I had Seokjin hyung draft him a contract and so he’s working at the restaurant washing the dishes, for the time being.”

“How come you didn’t press charges?” Taehyung questions, but there’s no judgment to his voice. In all honesty, Jimin’s been asking himself the same thing—but the answer is too superficial for him to just flat-out admit it.

Instead of answering, Jimin just shrugs.

“Oh,” Taehyung says, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “Oh. I get it.”

Tingles run down Jimin’s spine, but he refuses to squirm in his seat. “What do you get?” he bites back, though he already knows.

“He’s hot, isn’t he?” Jimin doesn’t say anything. “Oh my god, he’s really hot. How old is he?”

“Oh, god.” Jimin covers his face with his hands and laughs, feeling stupid. “Twenty-three.”

Taehyung almost squeals and Jimin can feel him straightening up. Next thing he knows, Taehyung’s fingers are curling around his wrists and moving his hands away from his face. Jimin laughs despite the dreadful feeling of embarrassment curling in the pit of his stomach.

“So that’s why you got all funny about me and my assistant,” Taehyung says, smile widening. “Jimin-ah, that’s so cute. You think your twenty-three-year-old employee is hot. And he tried to rob you. A bad boy.”

“Stop.” Jimin squeezes his eyes shut.

“Ask him to come to the wedding,” Taehyung suggests and Jimin immediately shakes his head. “Who cares.”

“First of all, I don’t even know the guy.” Jimin reminds him, his lips twitching in disapproval. “I’ve spoken to him only twice. Second, I don’t even know if he likes men. And third of all, it doesn’t even matter if he likes men or not, he’s my employee now and he’s twenty-three.”

Taehyung fake yawns, getting up from the sofa and walking over toward the mirror to check out the way his ass looks in the suit he’d tried on earlier. “I think you think too much, Jimin-ah. Your brain is all just work, work, work. You don’t plan on employing him permanently now, do you?”

Jimin presses his lips together. “I don’t.”

“Well, what’s the issue then?” Taehyung asks and gestures for Jimin to be quiet as Jimin opens his mouth to reply. “And don’t even say it’s the fact that he’s twenty-three. You had your shit together by the age of twenty-three.”

Jimin narrows his eyes. “Not everyone does.”

Taehyung shrugs, waving his hand dismissively. “True, but not even men much older than us do. So, your argument is invalid. Besides, nobody’s telling you to marry the guy, Jesus Christ. Ask him out on a date. Bone him. Live a little.”

Jimin hates to admit that Taehyung has a point. He’s been with men his age and older who were far from having their life together and Jimin realizes that maybe it’s not something he should be using as an excuse to correlate with age. Still, Jeongguk is young and most importantly, Jimin feels weird even thinking about him when he doesn’t even know if Jeongguk likes men or not. 

Even if he did—Jimin still feels odd being so in awe with his looks, especially when looks aren’t something that have played a big role thus far in his life.

“I don’t even know if he likes men or not,” he says out loud.

“That’s the only fair point I’ve heard you raise so far,” Taehyung says, winking at him. He finally walks over to the dressing room door, calling out for the shop assistant. Jimin rises to his feet, ready to take his suit off, pay for it, and get out of there. “So, I suggest you find out sooner rather than later.”

Jimin’s stomach flutters and he swears he’s not going to indulge himself. He’s going to let Jeon Jeongguk pay off his tab and leave for good, and Jimin is going to do his best to focus on anything that’s not him.

 

 

One thing Jimin has never been particularly good at is following the rules he sets for himself. Goals and ambitions were one thing—but rules, do’s and don’ts, were a whole other thing Jimin really wasn’t the best at sticking to. He spends the next couple of days running around the restaurant, helping Seokjin with whatever he needs as well as entertaining his VIP guests without a single bump in the road, despite being hyper aware of the fact that Jeongguk is right downstairs, working.

Jimin would be lying if he said it hadn’t occurred to him to go and just check up on Jeongguk and see how he’s doing, but he doesn’t. Within a matter of days, Jeongguk is out of sight and out of mind, and it brings a huge amount of relief. Jimin doesn’t even know what came over him in the first place—he’s not one to become obsessed with someone else.

The wedding is tomorrow and he’s sitting behind the computer in his office, making sure his gift will arrive just in time for him and Taehyung to pick it up before the reception, when there’s a knock on the door, startling him and making Jimin jump in his seat.

He glances at the clock, brows furrowing as he realizes it’s almost closing time and everyone should be leaving shortly.

“Hyung?” he calls, assuming it’s Seokjin. “Come in.”

“Hey,” comes a voice which doesn’t belong to Seokjin, making Jimin’s eyes immediately dart up. “Um, am I interrupting something? Hoseok hyung said it was okay if stopped by.”

Jimin is going to have to kill Hoseok. His pulse quickens when his eyes meet Jeongguk’s—mostly because he’d startled him, he swears—and despite his stomach tying into a knot, Jimin’s face remains impassive, not giving anything away.

Jeongguk nervously shifts his weight as he waits for Jimin to invite him in, and Jimin takes a few long moments to think about whether he should. Finally, he gestures for Jeongguk to come in, watching him as he gets inside and closes the door behind him.

The first thing Jimin notices is that the sleeves of his shirt are pushed all the way up to his elbows, revealing a whole sleeve of tattoos on Jeongguk’s right arm, and then his eyes settle on Jeongguk’s face, studying the hint of dark circles underneath his otherwise bright eyes. Jimin hadn’t forgotten what he looks like, yet he still has to swallow when he takes Jeongguk in.

“I thought you were Seokjin hyung.” Jimin clears his throat, shifting in his seat. “How can I help you, Jeongguk-ssi?”

“Just Jeongguk is fine,” Jeongguk says sheepishly and Jimin scoffs, rolling his eyes.

“Thanks for the permission,” he says, biting back a smile.

“You’re welcome,” Jeongguk grins, looking a lot more comfortable than he did just a moment ago. “Can I sit down?”

“Go right ahead.” Jimin nods toward the armchair in front of his desk, clasping his hands together as he leans forward.

He gnaws on his bottom lip, watching as Jeongguk settles down in front of him, pushing his hair out of his eyes before he looks at Jimin again, still smiling. Without giving it much thought Jimin smiles in response, unable to hold back.

“So, I’m sorry to come in this late, but Seokjin hyung isn’t here and Hoseok hyung said you wouldn’t mind if I came to you directly,” Jeongguk starts and Jimin quirks an eyebrow, tilting his head to the side. “What?”

“Seokjin allowed you to call him hyung?” Jeongguk nods. “Interesting. Go on.”

“I was wondering if it would be okay for me to come work tomorrow,” Jeongguk continues. “I have an exam on Wednesday and so I’d like to skip work on Tuesday and have more time to revise.”

Jimin blinks at him. He’s going to be at the wedding tomorrow anyway, so Jeongguk working doesn’t really impact him all that much. He doesn’t take long to think, shrugging nonchalantly, and nods his head in approval. “Yeah. That’s totally fine with me. Just make sure to put your shift down into the system and delete the one for Tuesday on your way out. If you don’t know how, I’ll do it for you on my way out.”

“I know how to do it,” Jeongguk quickly assures him. “Thank you, um, Jimin-ssi.”

Jimin sighs, rubbing the back of his neck. “Hyung is fine,” he says and regrets it almost instantly.

It’s too soon for Jeongguk to be dropping honorifics and there really is no need for him to be calling Jimin hyung; Jimin is the owner of the restaurant Jeongguk works at and Jeongguk may not exactly be an employee, but he is considered one for now. Soon enough, Jeongguk will be gone and it’ll be like he never even existed. If only Jimin manages to keep himself away.

Just as he’s about to take back what he said, Jeongguk’s face brightens up, eyes glittering as his smile widens. Jimin swallows the words down, feeling his cheeks burn hot. It is what it is now—it’s not like he’ll give Jeongguk many opportunities to call him hyung, anyway.

“Thank you, hyung,” says Jeongguk softly, and Jimin’s heart jumps inside of his chest.

Jimin’s eyes dart back to the screen of his computer and his mind is totally blank as he pretends to go back to what he was doing. Frankly, Jimin doesn’t even remember what it is that Jeongguk interrupted and it takes him a solid second to get back into it. It takes almost a full minute and Jeongguk lowly clearing his throat, for Jimin to realize he’s still there, sitting opposite to him.

“You’re free to go, Jeongguk-ah,” Jimin says, tilting his eyebrows.

“I know, just—” Jeongguk gnaws on his bottom lip.

“Just?” he encourages.

“I’ll be the only one working tomorrow night,” Jeongguk says, eyes darkening. His gaze is piercing, and it makes Jimin’s heart flutter inside of his chest. Jimin ignores the way his pulse quickens, and he keeps his expression neutral, crossing his legs to buy himself some time before he responds. “You should—um. Come by, if you’re not busy. Like you did the other night.”

“Why?” Jimin asks, confusion settling underneath his skin. His voice is breathy—but not breathy enough for Jeongguk to be able to tell. “You need help washing the dishes?”

Jeongguk giggles and it’s so bright and adorable; his entire face scrunches, hair falling into his eyes as he tips his head forward and Jimin’s mouth parts, a laugh almost escaping him.

“No, I think I can manage that one myself,” Jeongguk finally says. “It’s just that—it gets boring down there.”

Jimin’s breath hitches in his throat and his fingers pause on the keyboard, eyes glued to Jeongguk’s. “And what am I supposed to do about that?”

Jeongguk’s eyes glimmer with something Jimin can’t quite put his finger on, but it makes him feel hot, like he needs to open a window and air out the room.

“Just… come hang out.” Jeongguk gestures vaguely, slowly getting up from his seat. “If you want to. Like you did the other day.”

“I’ll be busy,” Jimin replies after him, watching Jeongguk make his way toward the door. “I won’t be here tomorrow.”

Jeongguk pauses with his hand on the door handle, looking at Jimin over his shoulder. “I guess that really sucks for me, then,” he says, biting his bottom lip before smiling at him one more time, then disappearing out the office.

Jimin sits stiffly in his chair, mouth open as he watches the door close behind Jeongguk. He’s played enough games in his life to know exactly what this means—Jimin knows flirting when he sees it. It’s not outright nor aggressive, but it’s still flirting, and it makes Jimin’s stomach twist with adrenaline, his pulse quickening despite his efforts to remain calm.

Now, it’s no secret that Jimin is into men. He’s a semi-public person; he’s easy to look up on Naver, and with Taehyung being a well-known fashion designer and both of them appearing together at a lot of public events, Jimin’s love life hasn’t exactly been a secret throughout the years. So if most of Korea knows, then Jeongguk might know, too.

And that’s more than fine, especially considering Jimin is the last person to hide something like that, but Jeongguk—he’s the enigma here. Is he flirting with Jimin because that’s just what he does? It’s fun to flirt with the boss; Jimin’s had his staff try it with him on multiple occasions, especially waiters, regardless of whether they were into men or not, it’s happened many times and for a lot of different reasons. Some wanted a bigger salary, some wanted a sugar daddy and others—they just wanted to get their dicks wet.

Jimin is used to that, it’s how business works. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t guilty of flirting back—more often than not, maybe—but this is a bit different. Jeongguk is a stranger, he’s young, and from what Jimin has seen, very fucking reckless. So that little comment right there—it’s probably just a game, and Jimin is an idiot who’s pushing forty, allowing a kid to get into his head like this.

If only he wasn’t so goddamn good looking .

When Jimin gets home that night, he falls asleep thinking about the mess of dark, unruly hair, and a pair of big, bright eyes.

 

 

“It’s not so bad, is it?” Taehyung asks, back slamming against the bar, damp hair sticking to his forehead as a hazy smile spreads across his lips. His eyes are glassy and unfocused after countless glasses of wine, lips stained red and bitten raw because ever since the actual party started, Taehyung hasn’t stopped making out with his date. “God, he’s so hot.”

Jimin scoffs, throwing back his drink and shaking his head. He’s not even drunk; Taehyung had urged him to drink more the entire day but Jimin had only managed to stomach a couple glasses of wine, though ever since Taehyung and his date left him alone behind the bar, getting plastered did seem like the best option.

He’s had multiple guests from the wedding approach him and try to spark up a conversation, and though Jimin had replied with as much politeness and interest he could muster, his head truly wasn’t in it.

Or rather, how none of the men who had approached him didn’t spark nearly enough interest in him as Jeongguk does. How none of them are nearly as attractive and captivating as Jeongguk is. And Jimin wants to slap himself because obviously, none of the people here are twenty-three.

“Jimin-ah?” Taehyung waves a hand in front of Jimin’s face. “Earth to Jimin.”

Jimin blinks up at him, shuddering. “Yeah. Sorry.”

“I said it’s not so bad, is it?”

“Well, I’ll be real with you, it’s not like I’m exactly having a blast,” Jimin says honestly.

Taehyung rolls his eyes, running both of his hands through his damp hair. It’s too hot in here, Jimin realizes.

“You should have brought that pretty little dishwasher of yours. What was his name again?”

“Jeongguk,” mutters Jimin, giving Taehyung a death glare. “Stop. I already told you that’s not happening.”

“We still have two weeks until we have to attend another wedding,” Taehyung informs him, as if Jimin hasn’t spent the majority of this one resenting the fact that he’ll have to watch Taehyung suck his assistant’s face off at yet another one.

Truth be told, Jimin does have to admit that they make a good couple. Yes, the guy is young, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue; he and Taehyung get along effortlessly, understand each other even when they’re not speaking and even Jimin can feel their chemistry being off the charts.

The more he thinks about it the more restless he gets, and all he can think about is downing another glass of wine and getting a taxi to his restaurant. If he leaves now, he’ll be able to make it an hour before closing and let Seokjin go home early. And that’s—it’s Saturday. Going in and letting his staff go early is a good deed.

“I think I’m gonna go,” Jimin announces and Taehyung looks down at him, brows furrowing.

“Seriously?” he asks, expression morphing into something more serious as Jimin nods his head. “You’re okay, though, right? You’re not like—pissed at me?”

“I’m not pissed at you, Taehyungie.” Jimin laughs and reaches to pinch Taehyung’s cheek, just like he used to do when they were younger. “I just want to get out of here. It’s too hot and I’m bored. I’ll call you tomorrow, yeah? You go have fun.”

Reluctantly, Taehyung nods and Jimin downs another glass of wine before he leaves, grabbing his things from the coat check and hailing himself a taxi in record time. Luckily, the traffic isn’t too bad and Jimin manages to get to the restaurant a solid hour before his staff have to close, and so he’s met with Seokjin talking to one of their main hosts behind the bar as soon as he enters. There are only a couple of guests left, talking quietly over dessert as the rest of the staff patiently waits for them to finish so they can be escorted out.

“Jimin-ah,” Seokjin calls, surprise evident in his voice. “What are you doing here? I thought you weren’t coming in today.”

“Change of plans,” Jimin says, shrugging his coat off and folding it over one of the bar stools. “I left early so I can close up. Are the guests done?”

“Yeah.” Seokjin nods, looking over Jimin’s shoulder. “They’re paying and Miyeon is going to escort them out. The chefs are gone, and the kitchen has already been closed. It’s just us and whoever’s left doing the dishes.”

Jimin’s throat tightens, pulse quickening. “Alright, that’s fine. After the guests are gone, you can go home and get some rest.” Jimin looks at the bartender and the couple of waiters behind Seokjin. “Guys?” He waits for them to acknowledge him, then dismissively waves his hand. “You’re free to leave. Count your tips and get going.  I’ll close by myself.”

Seokjin looks at him for a moment longer but then nods, clapping his hands together and dismissing the staff. Jimin’s employees work hard—they’re not going to question him letting everyone go home early. It doesn’t happen too often but Jimin does it as much as he realistically can. Besides, there’s something peaceful about the way he feels when he’s left all alone in the restaurant, able to fully take it in without anyone around.

“Oh, by the way, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin calls as Jimin starts making his way toward the kitchen, ready to go dismiss Jeongguk as well. “Come to my office, please? It’s about the chefs who are lined up to interview here in the next few weeks. I need to schedule the exact date for each one of them and I can’t do that without you. It’ll take a second.”

Reluctantly, Jimin follows behind Seokjin, wanting to get this sorted out sooner rather than later. Only, a second turns into twenty minutes and by the time they’re done and Seokjin leaves the restaurant, there are only two waiters left, carrying the last of the empty dishes and glasses down to the dish washing station.

Jimin’s stomach knots, realizing there’s only Jeongguk left there.

“Hey,” he gently calls behind them, gesturing for them to stop. “Give those to me. You guys can go home. I got it from here.”

The servers exchange tentative looks but soon enough they’re placing the trays with dishes onto one of the tables, giving Jimin ninety-degree bows as they head back to their changing rooms. Jimin smiles at them, wishing them a good night before he picks up one of the trays and takes a deep breath, kicking the kitchen door open with his foot.

The kitchen is clean and empty, the only noise filling the room being the low hum of running water from the dish washing station downstairs. Jimin’s stomach flutters as he carefully navigates down the stairs, throat tightening once he spots Jeongguk in his usual attire, humming under his breath as he rinses the plates off.

Without a word, Jimin walks over and dumps the tray beside him, and Jeongguk mutters a quick thank you, not taking his eyes off the dishes in his hands. Jimin quickly makes his way back upstairs, smiling to himself as he goes back to grab the other tray. It seems like mostly everyone had left, and Jimin happily goes back downstairs, placing the second tray next to the first one, audibly clearing his throat.

“You can go home, Jeongguk-ah,” Jimin says, making Jeongguk startle. “You’re done for the night.”

“Hyung,” he says, eyes widening for a moment before his gaze darkens, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “I thought you said you weren’t coming in today.”

Jeongguk’s smile widens as he speaks and he wipes his forehead with his forearm, pushing his hair out of his eyes. His eyes shamelessly skim down Jimin’s suit and Jimin does his best to keep his expression neutral, despite feeling the heat creep up his neck, making his suit feel much tighter than it actually is.

“Change of plans. I came in to let everyone go early,” Jimin shrugs, loosening his tie and giving himself more room to breathe. “You can go, too.”

“You clean up nicely,” says Jeongguk, entirely ignoring what Jimin had just said, making chills run down his spine. “That suit—”

“Are you implying I usually look like shit?” Jimin questions jokingly, cocking his eyebrow and folding his arms over his chest. “That’s no way to talk to the owner.”

“I’m sorry, owner-nim.” Jeongguk bows a deep, ninety-degree bow, eyes mischievously glittering once he straightens up and looks at Jimin again. Jimin hates how it makes heat flood his cheeks and his stomach swoop, so he just rolls his eyes, huffing out a laugh. “It won’t happen again.”

“Yah, stop that,” he says, forcing himself to be serious. “I mean it. You can go wash up and change, you’re free to go. Park and Kim will be here bright and early tomorrow morning, they can wash the loads that are left.”

Jeongguk hesitates for a moment, then shakes his head. “No need. I’ll finish up here.” His eyes slide toward the trays filled with dishes and he shrugs, biting his lower lip. “It’s not much and besides—it wouldn’t be fair. I’m here to pay off the tab, aren’t I?”

“Yeah, but I’m letting you go early.” Jimin says, narrowing his eyes at him. “Aren’t you gonna take that and bolt?”

“I’m not,” Jeongguk says. “I’m gonna finish my work. You can stay here and keep me company, if you’d like.”

Jeongguk looks at him and Jimin swears his gaze is suggestive and that it’s not just that last glass of wine he had playing with him. There’s a smugness to Jeongguk which makes Jimin jittery and a lot more nervous than he’d imagine himself to be at this age around someone so young. He takes a good look at Jeongguk and just like every time Jimin sees him, he’s in awe.

“You know what—” Jimin’s voice cuts off and he ignores the way Jeongguk stares at him, taking off his suit jacket and unbuttoning the cuffs, rolling his sleeves all the way up to his elbows. He doesn’t know what’s taken over him but Jimin doesn’t care—if Jeongguk’s going to stay here until he’s finished, then Jimin is going to stay, too. Besides, Jeongguk is the only employee left and there’s nobody but Jimin here left to supervise him.

So, Jimin’s going to do just that. Supervise.

“What are you doing?” Jeongguk asks, an amused lilt to his voice.

“Move,” Jimin orders, waiting for Jeongguk to shift so he could stand next to him. He grabs an ugly, stained apron from the station, putting it on as Jeongguk moves to the side to give him space. He stands beside him, shoulders almost touching, and tingles run down Jimin’s spine as he properly assesses their height difference for the first time. “I’m helping, what does it look like I’m doing?”

“Do you even know how to wash dishes?” Jeongguk teases and Jimin clicks his tongue, shaking his head. This fucking kid.

“I know how to wash the goddamn dishes,” Jimin huffs, rolling his eyes. He grabs a plate and turns the tap on, wincing as the cold water hits his skin. Jimin grabs the detergent and dumps it onto the plate, eyes searching for the dish scrubber, grabbing it once he spots it.

Jimin uses as much force as he can, focusing hard on scrubbing all the food off of the plate. Truthfully, Jimin doesn’t remember the last time he’d washed a dish—in college, maybe—but he knows the principle of it. Water, dish soap, then scrub until it’s clean. Only the water is so goddamn cold and Jimin can feel his fingers freezing under it.

It takes him a little while to realize that Jeongguk is just standing beside him, doing absolutely nothing. When Jimin lifts his gaze up and lets their eyes meet Jeongguk is staring at him with an amused glint in his eyes, teeth sunk in his bottom lip, holding back a smile.

Jimin blinks up at him. “What?” he asks, confused. “Why are you looking at me like that? Get to work.”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk starts but Jimin focuses on rinsing the plate off and reaching for a new one, too busy muttering about how cold the water is to listen to him.

He’s hyper aware of Jeongguk’s presence beside him and he just needs to…not be.

“Hyung.”

“What?” Jimin’s eyes snap to Jeongguk and he’s now fully smiling as he stares down at him, shaking his head.

“You’re not doing it right,” Jeongguk says softly, shifting so he’s standing closer.

Jimin’s breath catches in his throat as Jeongguk steps beside him, their shoulders bumping together and making Jimin’s stomach swoop. He pauses, feeling Jeongguk so close his nostrils fill with the scent of soap and bubblegum, a mixture so oddly comforting that Jimin’s brain short-circuits for a moment.

“I—”

“Here, let me show you,” Jeongguk interrupts, taking the plate and the dish scrub out of Jimin’s hands, placing them both to the side. Jimin stands nearly frozen, heart beating faster and faster as Jeongguk’s fingers brush against his skin, and then he’s leaning over Jimin, his chest pressing to Jimin’s back.

Jeongguk reaches for a pair of rubber gloves neatly sitting by the sink and then Jimin’s entire body floods with embarrassment because gloves are the first thing he should have reached for—he knows that. He stands there in silence, water running as Jeongguk then takes Jimin’s hands into his own, sliding the gloves down his fingers, making him shudder.

“And the water needs to be hot, hyung,” Jeongguk mutters so close to his ear that Jimin’s entire skin breaks into goosebumps, face heating up as Jeongguk’s breath tickles his skin.

Jeongguk adjusts the faucet and within seconds there’s steam rising from the sink, hitting Jimin’s face. He feels hot, the apron and the dress shirt under it feeling too tight and suffocating, and Jeongguk’s proximity is too much for Jimin to handle—maybe that last glass of wine he’d downed before coming here really did hit harder than he’d like to admit. All Jimin was supposed to do was come here and let his staff go early, and now it’s only him and Jeongguk left at the otherwise empty restaurant, and Jimin is helping him with the dishes.

And he doesn’t have a good reason as to why.

“I told you Kim and Park could do it in the morning,” Jimin mumbles and Jeongguk chuckles behind him, breath still hot in Jimin’s ear.

It’s only then that Jimin realizes how unbearable this feels; Jeongguk’s chest is pressed to his back, the strands of Jeongguk’s hair tickling the side of his face, hands still on Jimin’s. With the steam rising from the sink, it’s hard to breathe, and Jeongguk practically caging him from behind feels suffocating. Jimin doesn’t think he can move.

Or rather, he doesn’t want to.

“That’s okay,” Jeongguk says, voice low, deep. “You got it now.”

“Jeongguk,” Jimin huffs, tone flat and even despite the internal struggle and the way his throat closes up at their proximity. “Get to work.”

Jeongguk laughs but still grabs a dish from the tray and moves, making Jimin let out a breath of relief. He tries his best to shift his attention to what he’s doing, keeping a safe distance and barely allowing their shoulders to touch.

Unlike Jimin, Jeongguk seems to be relaxed, humming under his breath as he rinses the plate in his hands. There’s just a hint of a smirk tugging at the corners of his lips and he looks a little too amused for Jimin’s liking.

Jimin tries his best not to stare—it’s too distracting. This close to Jeongguk, he’s able to see the small scar right underneath his cheekbone, the slight dewiness of his skin, the pretty curve of his lips, the thickness of his lashes.

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says and Jimin blinks, a lump rising up to his throat.

“Yeah?”

“You’re staring,” Jeongguk chuckles, eyes meeting Jimin’s.

Jimin clears his throat, focusing his attention back to the task at hand, shaking his hand.

“I’m just making sure I’m doing what you’re doing,” Jimin finally says, cringing inwardly. “I’m not going to let my guests eat from dirty dishes tomorrow. Two of my restaurants are eligible for a Michelin star, I’m not about to fuck up the dish washing.”

“Eyes on my hands, then, not my face.” Jimin catches Jeongguk grinning at him with a corner of his eyes and he refuses to smile back, rather just lets out a half-hearted snort, too busy on simmering down his pulse to be able to focus on the mortification that crawls underneath his skin.

Then, Jeongguk’s lips are pressed to his ear and Jimin almost jumps, breathing so difficult Jimin doesn’t even think he can manage it.

“Though I don’t mind them on my face, either.”

“Is that so.” Something snaps inside of Jimin and he turns to face Jeongguk, looking up at him with as much intensity as he can muster.

They’re standing close, merely inches apart and Jimin’s heart is in his throat, million thoughts going through his head. It’s late and he’s sure the wine from the wedding has gotten to him, because it’s impossible that this kid is making Jimin feel so on edge when he’s not even doing anything.

“So, where were you tonight?” Jeongguk asks casually, a smile still present in his voice but the tension in the air immediately dissolves into something much more relaxed, and Jimin is thankful for that.

“A wedding,” Jimin replies, heartbeat simmering as he shifts his focus back to the dishes. “An old college friend of mine was getting married to another college friend of mine.”

“Did you have fun?”

“No,” Jimin replies honestly, aggressively scrubbing off the food remains off the plate. “I left just as everyone was starting to get decently plastered.”

“Are you?” Jeongguk questions and Jimin furrows his brows, pressing his lips together.

“Am I what?”

“Plastered,” Jeongguk chuckles.

“No,” Jimin replies, glancing up at Jeongguk. “Do I seem drunk to you? It would be very unprofessional of me if I was.”

“You look a little flustered,” says Jeongguk, causing Jimin’s cheeks to feel even hotter. “But don’t worry, you don’t sound drunk. At all.”

Jimin laughs it off, not saying anything. He’s definitely not drunk—that’s more than clear—but Jeongguk’s presence does have a strong effect on him. Jimin is almost mad at himself for putting himself in this situation, for allowing Jeongguk to make him this nervous by just standing close to him, leaning into his space from time to time and touching him. Jimin wonders if he’s reading too much into it because of how attractive Jeongguk is, though ultimately, it shouldn’t matter. This is a no-brainer; Jeongguk could simply be a flirt. Jimin would be too, if Jeongguk didn’t make him so nervous.

There aren’t many things anymore that make Jimin nervous the way this does, to the point where he can’t tell if it’s all him or just Jeongguk or both, but he’s not exactly welcoming the feeling with open arms. It’s not all that unfamiliar but it’s still strange, and Jimin isn’t quite sure how to deal with it. He’s not used to not being sure , no matter what the issue is.

“You look really good in that suit, though. Really good.”

And there it is again; Jimin tenses, straightening his shoulders as his stomach flips, breath catching in his throat. He looks at Jeongguk who’s now fully staring down at him, bottom lip bitten between his teeth, eyes dark and intense. The air between them sifts and it’s too thick and too hot—sticky, almost—making it harder for Jimin to breathe yet again.

“So, how’s school going?” Jimin immediately changes the topic, not wanting to entertain this for a moment longer.

Jeongguk seems to take the hint and just so he just lets out a low laugh, shrugging. “Not bad,” he says. “I should be graduating in the summer.”

“That’s good,” Jimin says. “Do you like it?”

“Yeah, I do. My mom always says she’s not sure how good of a manager I’d be considering I’m not very good at ordering people around,” Jeongguk laughs, getting more dirty dishes and dumping them in the sink. “But I’m quite organized, so I guess that balances things out. And I’m efficient. Which I think is far more important.”

Jimin pauses, thinking about it. It’s the most personal thing Jeongguk’s told him thus far, and it’s not like they had many conversations or chances to really talk—but it’s a little exciting, uncovering just a fraction of a new layer.

“Ordering people around,” Jimin repeats, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “It’s not just that, but I’d be lying if I said you don’t ever have to do it. I guess it’s something you grow more comfortable with as time passes, and you get more experience. Sometimes you gotta hurt someone’s feelings in order to get shit done. It’s for the greater good of the business.”

“Well look at you, speaking like the professors at my university,” Jeongguk hums, looking down at him. “Maybe you should come teach. My professors are all old.”

Jimin’s gut twists, brows furrowing against his will. “I’m not that old,” he mutters defensively, making Jeongguk’s smile widen.

“I didn’t say you are, I said they are,” says Jeongguk, making relief flood through Jimin.

He doesn’t know why he cares about whether or not Jeongguk thinks he’s old and the comment was blurted out against his will anyway, but Jeongguk’s eyes glitter with amusement and it just makes Jimin grow more annoyed at himself.

“You’re not that old,” Jeongguk jokes. “You’re what—thirty? Thirty-two?”

Jimin snorts, shoulders tensing. “Thirty-seven. Going to be thirty-eight in less than a month.” He shifts uncomfortably, avoiding Jeongguk’s gaze.

“Oh, I knew that,” Jeongguk says sheepishly, bumping their shoulders together. “I looked you up on Naver when I got home that night on my birthday. It’s just funny to see you all tense and serious. Relax.”

“I am all tense and serious,” Jimin retorts, narrowing his eyes at him. He shoves his elbow into Jeongguk’s ribs, making him double down with a yelp.

“I highly doubt that,” says Jeongguk, scrunching his nose.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Jeongguk shrugs nonchalantly, blowing up at his bangs. “Oh, I dunno. Just saw a few pictures of you and Kim Taehyung together looking a lot different than tense and serious.”

Jimin blushes, gaze dropping down to his hands. He clears his throat and shakes his head, hoping to move the hair out of his eyes as well. He knows exactly which pictures Jeongguk is referring to—they’re one of the first to pop up alongside Jimin’s name on Naver. It’s him and Taehyung wine-drunk at Taehyung’s store opening, having an absolute blast with the guests; it was one of the best days Jimin’s had in the last six months, and Jimin even took a really good-looking guy home that night.

“Ah,” Jimin says, slightly embarrassed. “Taehyung’s my best friend. He was opening a store that night, I’m still a little mortified that those pictures won’t leave the internet, months later.”

“Why? You look a—you look really good,” says Jeongguk, covering his mouth so he could cough. “In the pictures, I mean. Both of you do.”

“Yeah, Taehyung is gorgeous,” Jimin agrees. “He’s like a real-life doll, only without having any work done. It’s kind of unfair.”

For a moment, it seems like Jeongguk wants to say something, but he doesn’t. Instead, he swallows it down, taking his bottom lip between his teeth.

“So, he’s not your partner?” Jeongguk asks suddenly, after a long moment of silence. Jimin’s eyes dart up toward him, widening in surprise. It’s not the first time someone’s asked this question, just—Jimin hadn’t expected it. “Kim Taehyung, I mean.”

“I—no.” Jimin presses his lips together. “No, he’s not. He’s my best friend. We’ve known each other since college.”

“Oh,” Jeongguk says, features softening. He relaxes his posture, almost like Jimin’s answer comes as a relief. “Good. I thought—good.”

“It’s none of your business, either way, now is it?” Jimin quirks an eyebrow, putting the plate he’d just washed on top of the pile of clean dishes. He takes his gloves off and leans his back against the sink, folding his arms over his chest. “Technically, I’m your boss. My personal life is none of your business.”

Jeongguk stares at him with his mouth parted, and then he’s dropping the dishes from his hands back into the sink, taking off the rubber gloves and standing in front of Jimin. He leans slightly into Jimin’s space, hands clutching at the edge of the sink behind him, and Jeongguk’s never been this close to him and it’s dangerous.

Jimin’s head spins, heart pounding against the inside of his chest at the dark intensity of Jeongguk’s eyes on his and he’s so—he’s so beautiful, it’s difficult for Jimin to swallow. Without thinking, Jimin curls his fingers underneath Jeongguk’s chin, touching him for the first time. He tips Jeongguk’s head back and Jeongguk lets him; he doesn’t move, doesn’t protest—just keeps his eyes fixed on Jimin, the corner of his lips quirking into a smirk.

“What are you doing, Jeongguk?” Jimin asks, voice firm despite his entire body fluttering with adrenaline. “Aren’t you supposed to be doing the dishes?”

“I would much rather be doing something else instead,” Jeongguk replies shamelessly and Jimin’s heart jumps inside of his chest, skipping a beat.

Jimin stares back at him with just as much intensity, pressure building up in the air between them with each passing beat. Jimin drops his hand away from Jeongguk’s face, deciding to stop thinking—just for a moment—and take the bait.

“And what would you rather be doing, Jeongguk-ah?” he asks, voice low and velvety, muffled by the running water behind him.

“This.”

Jeongguk leans in without hesitation, his hand sliding alongside Jimin’s jawline to the nape of his neck, noses brushing together and making Jimin’s brain short-circuit, Jeongguk’s skin feeling scorching hot against his. Jimin lets his eyes fall shut, shuddering as he feels Jeongguk’s breath on his lips, waiting.

Jimin’s muscles tense, nails digging into his forearms as his arms remain crossed over his chest. It’s like a wave of electricity shakes through Jimin’s entire body when Jeongguk brushes their lips together, slow and tentative, like he’s testing out the waters.

And then—Jeongguk kisses him. His hand is pressed firmly against Jimin’s nape, holding him in place as he moulds their lips together. Jimin uncrosses his arms, hands traveling up to cup Jeongguk’s jaw, fingers digging into the skin and angling Jeongguk’s head so he can kiss him with ease.

Jeongguk kisses him slowly and determinedly, tongue licking into Jimin’s mouth with intent, arms tightening around him. Jimin sighs into Jeongguk’s mouth, struggling to breathe as he takes Jeongguk in, hands moving to tangle in Jeongguk’s hair.

They kiss for what feels like hours; Jimin’s mind is blank and it’s only his body that’s responding, kissing Jeongguk back with as much force as Jeongguk’s kissing him. Jeongguk doesn’t stop to take a breath, doesn’t pause, doesn’t say a word— presses himself against Jimin, nips at his bottom lip and then kisses him even harder and Jimin just… melts .

Jeongguk kisses like he’s going to devour him, like he’s been thinking about this a lot more than Jimin has, like he’s thought this out . Jimin’s hands slip down to Jeongguk’s shoulders and pushes his tongue harder against Jeongguk’s, making him smile into the kiss.

“Wow,” says Jeongguk, pulling back just enough to look down at Jimin. “I—wow.”

Jimin doesn’t know what to say. His chest heaves as he stares at Jeongguk, breathes still ragged and heavy, stomach coiling with heat, heart beating so fast his hands feel numb. Jimin doesn’t know if he ever felt something like this—with his whole entire body—so much his knees are weak and his chest almost hurts, fingers itching to reach out for Jeongguk again, to reach out for him.

“Jeongguk,” Jimin begins in a low voice, unsure of where he’s even going with this. “Jeongguk, I don’t think this—”

“Let me kiss you again,” Jeongguk says and it comes out a lot breathier than Jimin expects it to. His mouth parts, ready to say that this might not be a good idea but—he doesn’t want to. Jeongguk kissing him feels different, feels good, and Jimin is going to be responsible and think about this later. Right now, the damage has been done and so, it doesn’t matter. “Hyung, let me kiss you again.”

Jimin swallows heavily, fingers twisting at Jeongguk’s apron as he pulls him close, their lips crashing together. This time around, Jimin allows himself to be more aggressive, more demanding, and it’s so new, so different and exciting that Jimin doesn’t want to stop himself—not yet, at least.

He doesn’t think whether this is right or wrong, just goes with how good it feels to have Jeongguk’s rough hands on his face, fingers ghosting over the skin as Jimin struggles to catch his breath. Jeongguk slows the kiss down, like he’s trying to savor every moment of it, and Jimin lets him; he allows Jeongguk to tangle his hands in Jimin’s hair and deepen the kiss, allows him to entirely press their bodies together so Jimin can feel every shift and every clench of Jeongguk’s muscles. 

Jimin grips at Jeongguk, swallowing a gasp that escapes him as Jimin smiles into the kiss, feeling dizzy with the thickness of the air around them.

When Jeongguk pulls back for the second time, Jimin has regained sensation in his hands and his entire body is vibrating, and even though he shouldn’t be—he’s smiling up at Jeongguk.

“You’re a really good kisser,” Jeongguk says, his thumb reaching to wipe away the saliva at the corner of Jimin’s mouth. “You—yeah.”

Jimin collects himself much faster than Jeongguk does, tilting his head to the side, ignoring the heavy pounding of his heart against his ribs. He bites the inside of his cheek, thinking what to say back but drawing a blank. He’s still kiss-drunk and high on whatever the hell all he felt just now, and his feelings just—don’t translate into thoughts. He can’t even translate them into words, because this was stupid and reckless but also felt so right .

The silver lining is that there is nobody else here; everyone’s gone home, and tomorrow is a Sunday, meaning Jimin won’t be at the restaurant at all. Jeongguk is not going to be in the restaurant until Wednesday and even then, it will be easy to avoid him. And Jimin needs to do just that, despite every fiber in his body opposing the very thought of it.

Jimin doesn’t get it. He’s been attracted to people before, he’s been with attractive people before—gorgeous, even— but somehow, none of them made him feel the way he feels right now: lost. In more ways than just one.

“Say something,” Jeongguk tentatively says, lowering himself so he can level his gaze with Jimin’s. “Should I not have done that?”

Jimin breathes out, eyes fluttering shut, smile fading. “Probably not,” he says, pinching the bridge of his nose. He opens his eyes, gaze meeting Jeongguk’s, studying the way his expression shifts into something softer, maybe even a little regretful. Jimin’s gut sinks. He doesn’t want Jeongguk to regret kissing him yet somehow, he knows Jeongguk probably should.

Jeongguk shifts his weight, looking, for the first time since the night they met, uncertain. Jimin doesn’t blame him—he’d kissed Jimin and Jimin had kissed him back, and by the way Jimin was gripping at him and silently demanding more, it’s not hard to tell that he’d wanted it.

“I’m confused,” Jeongguk admits, gnawing on his bottom lip. “You—”

“I know,” Jimin interrupts, waving his hand. “I know. It was—a lapse in judgement. I’m your boss, Jeongguk-ah. You’re not even working here because you want to be.”

Jeongguk narrows his eyes, confusion washing over his features. “I’m pretty sure nobody does this job because they want to,” he says dryly, “but because they have to.”

“You know what I mean.”

Jeongguk rubs the back of his neck and Jimin unties his apron, carelessly throwing it onto the counter as his throat tightens. It’s uncomfortable saying this when all he wants to do is grab Jeongguk by the collar and kiss him again and again until both their chests are heaving and they’re struggling to catch their breaths.

“Do I?”

“Come on, Jeongguk,” Jimin laughs, and it seems to tick Jeongguk off. Jimin doesn’t mean for it to, doesn’t mean to sound mocking or accusatory, but he’s aware how it comes out. “I don’t think you know what you’re doing.”

“And why is that?” Jeongguk asks, brows knitting together, jaw set tight.

“Just.” Jimin sighs, rubbing the side of his face. As moments pass, Jeongguk’s expression gets more difficult to read and Jimin’s stomach ties into a knot, and everything inside of him is telling him to shut up and just kiss him again. But Jimin’s brain knows better, and this was poor judgement on his part.

Jimin remembers wondering if Jeongguk was into men, and this is his answer. The answer that proves to make things a lot more complicated than Jimin would like.

Jeongguk is twenty-three. Jimin is going to turn thirty-eight in less than a month. It’s probably not as big of a deal as Jimin presents it to be in his head, but it also is. Jimin got this guy off the hook with the police for trying to eat for free at his restaurant, and no, Jimin doesn’t think Jeongguk’s a criminal and he doesn’t think he's a bad person, but the whole thing just goes to show just how mature he is. 

It all comes down to this moment right here—or rather, why Jeongguk is doing this.

Maybe they both got caught up in the moment—Jimin sure did—or maybe, Jeongguk is trying to get on his good side, get Jimin to tell him he doesn’t have to pay his tab off or maybe—Jimin is thinking too much.

He’s thinking too much and looking too heavily into it, and that’s why it’d be best if he just left. This should’ve never happened in the first place but Jimin has never been good at denying himself things, and so he couldn’t help himself. He let himself have this, just for a second.

“Just what?”

“I should go,” Jimin finally says, grabbing his suit jacket. “You should go, too. It’s late. You don’t have to finish up. Like I said, Kim and Park can handle that in the morning.”

Jeongguk looks taken aback, the crease between his brows deepening as Jimin slips his suit jacket on. Jimin clears his throat, tilting his eyebrows at Jeongguk, forcing himself to stay put for a moment before he gets the hell out of here.

“I just,” Jeongguk begins, gesturing vaguely before he gives up, letting his arms drop down by his sides, jaw set so tight Jimin can see the defined muscles. “I’m sorry. For doing that.”

Uncomfortableness claws at the low of Jimin’s back, the knot in his stomach twisting and sitting heavily like a pile of bricks. Guilt washes through him and despite there being nothing he should feel guilty for, Jimin still does.

“No, look.” Jimin sighs, running his hand through his hair. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m the one who shouldn’t have let —that— happen. You’re a kid, you didn’t know any better and—it’s fine. I’m the one who’s sorry. Just—please go home. This was a mistake. I’m gonna close up.”

The moment Jimin calls him a kid, he regrets it. The bewilderment on Jeongguk’s face is obvious, too; he stares at Jimin with a darkening gaze, so piercing and intense it makes a shudder run through Jimin’s entire body. He looks—displeased. To say the least.

It’s all wrong . Jimin wants to walk over to him and kiss him again, hard enough for Jeongguk to forget that he’d said it was a mistake and that he’d called him a kid but— Jimin can indulge himself with a lot of things.Jeongguk shouldn’t be one of them.

“A mistake.” Jeongguk repeats, voice more stern than disappointed. Slowly, he nods his head. “I see. Well, I’m still sorry. I’m the one who kissed you.”

“And I’m the one who allowed for it to happen,” Jimin hears himself say, words coming out unauthorized, knot in his stomach only tightening as he speaks. “I should have known better. Let’s just forget about this, yeah?”

Jeongguk falls quiet, eyes trained on Jimin for a long while before he speaks. “I don’t think I can do that, no.”

Jimin’s entire body feels hot and the intensity of Jeongguk’s eyes on him make his hands feel clammy, his palms sweaty and he needs to get out of here. He needs to get out of here now.

“Alright, well,” Jimin stammers, tripping over his words. “I’m gonna go to my office. Go home, Jeongguk-ah.”

Jimin doesn’t wait for Jeongguk to speak, rather turns on his heel and starts walking toward the staircase, his heart pounding as he turns away from Jeongguk. Just as he’s about to reach the first step, Jeongguk speaks again, making Jimin freeze on the spot.

“One thing before you leave.”

Slowly, Jimin looks at him, and Jeongguk still looks as displeased as he did moments ago. Jaw still set tight, gaze still piercing and unreadable.

“Yeah?”

“Just because you say I’m a kid,” Jeongguk says, expression flattening to match the tone of his voice. “Isn’t going to make me one. And it’s not going to convince you I am one, either.”

Jimin swallows, not saying anything. Instead, he stares at Jeongguk for a few long seconds, unable to process the words. Slowly, he nods his head, feeling entirely detached from the situation when he looks away, making his way upstairs and locking himself into his office for the night.

 

 

Jimin spends the entirety of his Sunday thinking about Jeongguk and what had happened between them. He debates calling Taehyung and venting about it, but ultimately decides against it; Taehyung’s going to do nothing but get in his head about this and somehow make him think he’s made a mistake. Only Jimin doesn’t need Taehyung to make him feel like he’d made a mistake leaving Jeongguk when he had kissed him; he feels that way all on his own.

He can’t stop thinking about the last thing Jeongguk had said to him; how he’s not a kid, despite Jimin referring to him as such. And the more Jimin thinks, the more he sees it, the more he realizes and hell, he even knows it. Still, it had been wrong of them to do what they did and Jimin shouldn’t have allowed for it to happen, though if he could turn back time, he’d do it again. He wouldn’t stop Jeongguk, just like he hadn’t stopped him before.

The days to come prove themselves to be just as difficult; Jimin can’t shake off the thought of Jeongguk, can’t get rid of the tension in his shoulders and the unsettling feeling in the base of his stomach every time he sets foot inside of the restaurant. He busies himself with work, arranges a meeting with Mrs. Liu to discuss the location she’d found in Myeongdong and tries to memorize the schedule for all the chefs that are starting their interviews this week, trying his best to shut down any arising thoughts of Jeongguk and what happened that night.

Jeongguk not working until Wednesday comes as somewhat of a relief and Jimin is thankful that he has at least some room to breathe and not be super aware of Jeongguk being in the same building as him. Simultaneously, he tries to convince himself that it was a kiss— just a kiss —and that he shouldn’t be making it into a bigger deal than it is. That he shouldn’t be thinking about it this much, because Jeongguk surely isn’t. He can’t be. If Jimin were to guess, all of this was just a silly little game to Jeongguk; kissing the owner of a high-end restaurant, getting the boss’s attention, just—meaningless, reckless fun.

However, once Wednesday rolls around, Jimin feels just as tense and unsettled as he did the last few days, and it’s like the intensity of their kiss still burns on his skin, even stronger now when Jimin knows that Jeongguk is here. Jimin tries to not think about it. 

He buries himself in work and doesn’t go anywhere near the kitchen or frankly any place he knows Jeongguk might pop out of, figuring he should be safe. It’s almost cowardly, how he hides from someone who’s fifteen years younger than him, like he’s the child and not Jeongguk. But if Jimin had learned anything in the past thirty-plus years of his life, it’s that if you want to avoid an uncomfortable situation, don’t put yourself anywhere near it. And Jimin is already dangerously close.

“Are you going to close tonight or should I?” Seokjin asks on Wednesday night, making Jimin jump in his seat as he barges into his office. “It’s late. Everyone’s pretty much left by now.”

Jimin clears his throat, lifting his gaze from the computer screen. “I’ll lock up. Who else is left, aside from you?”

Seokjin furrows his brows at the unusual question, but still takes a moment to think about it. “Just the bartenders, I think. Yeah. Everyone else is gone.”

“Okay, perfect. You can go, hyung. I got it from here,” Jimin says and Seokjin nods, waving him off before he walks out of the office.

Jimin hates the relief that washes over him, knowing that everyone but his bartenders have gone home by now. He waits a few more minutes to give them time to leave too and then he’s shutting his computer down and stretching in his chair, yawning sleepily before he makes himself get up and put his coat on. 

It’s dead quiet when Jimin makes his way out of his office and he lets out a breath of relief, making sure everything’s in place before he closes up for the night. He turns off the light in the kitchen, clicking his tongue at whoever it is that left it on. He checks the bar, walks between the tables and makes sure everything is properly cleaned, despite already knowing that it is. Jimin has the best team of professionals around and the cleaning company will be here bright and early before the restaurant opens anyway, but some old habits die hard.

He’s just about to set up the security system when he hears someone behind him clearing their throat quietly, almost tentatively. Jimin twists to look into the direction of where the noise is coming from, face immediately paling as his eyes meet Jeongguk’s. 

“Jeongguk,” says Jimin, heart traveling up to his throat. “What are you doing here?”

Jeongguk approaches him, eyes glinting as the streetlights coming from the outside hit the side of his face in the otherwise dark restaurant. He studies Jimin’s face for longer than Jimin would like, his expression so unreadable it makes Jimin feel uneasy.  

“I forgot my sweatshirt in the changing room,” Jeongguk replies. “Sorry, I thought Seokjin hyung was closing today.”

Jimin stares at him, mouth open and his hand frozen on the security system. He doesn’t know why he’s so stunned and he definitely shouldn’t be, but it’s just him and Jeonngguk in the restaurant again and all Jimin can think about how he kissed him only a few days ago. Jimin’s skin itches to feel Jeongguk’s, hands aching to reach out and grab Jeongguk by the jacket and pull him close. It’s ridiculous how strong the pull he feels is and how bad he feels for walking away the other night but the rational part of Jimin’s brain knows he’s done the right thing. It’s just—doing the right thing doesn’t always feel right.

“No, I sent him home,” Jimin explains, unnecessarily. 

Tension rises, both of them growing more awkward as they just stand there, looking at each other. Just like last time, Jimin is the first one to collect himself, setting up the alarm and holding the door open for Jeongguk.

“You’re free to go, Jeongguk-ah,” he says, gesturing for him to exit. “You’re finished for the night.”

Jeongguk shifts his weight, chewing the inside of his cheek as he tentatively looks at Jimin. Jimin tilts his eyebrows at him, ignoring the way a knot in his stomach tightens. Slowly, Jeongguk nods, walking through the door and throwing Jimin a look over his shoulder.

“Have a good night, hyung,” he says, tension between them so high Jimin doesn’t even dare to breathe. “It’s, uh...good seeing you.”

“Good night, Jeongguk-ah,” says Jimin quietly, closing the door behind him and making sure he’s disappeared down the street. Then, Jimin finishes turning on all the alarms and gets the hell out of there.

That night, something inside of Jimin’s chest doesn’t allow him to fall asleep with as much ease as he usually would. Once he does, Jimin drifts off thinking about the way Jeongguk’s lips felt against his.

 

 

The entirety of that week is almost an agony; Jimin spends the majority of it hidden in his office under the excuse that he has a lot of paperwork to be sorted and the best part is—he’s not even lying. Things start looking up once he has a meeting with Mrs. Liu and the two of them go location hunting; Jimin ends up falling in love with the space she’d spotted all those weeks ago. Jimin doesn’t think twice before putting down the deposit for it. Like with every massive business move he makes, Jimin feels an all-time high once he closes the deal and makes arrangements for Mrs. Liu to design the interior and send him ideas throughout the next couple of months. 

If everything goes according to plan, in the next year or so, Jimin should be opening a new restaurant.

The high of it helps subdue the dreadful feeling of seeing Jeongguk, knowing he’s around but that Jimin has to stay away. Besides, Jeongguk won’t be working here much longer. He’s already almost done with his first month, and if Jimin busies himself enough, the second one will pass in the blink of an eye, and then Jimin never has to see him again. The thought of that makes something bittersweet settle underneath Jimin skin, and so he tries not to think about it too much.

It's another late night at the end of the week and Jimin is sitting inside of the office, replying to long overdue emails and sorting out his schedule for the next month. Seokjin had done most of the work for him and as appreciative as Jimin is, he still has to go through the itinerary on his own, just in case.

When Jimin looks down at the clock it’s way past one in the morning and he figures everyone but Seokjin has already left; it’s usually how it is at the end of the month. He and Seokjin stay extra-long hours to check this month’s profits, to distribute the salaries and check everyone’s work hours. Until there’s a knock on his door. 

It takes him a moment to register, too focused on making sure the numbers are right. The knocking intensifies and Jimin finally lifts his gaze.

“Come in,” he says with a sigh, taking his glasses off and rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms.

It takes a second for his vision to clear as he tiredly blinks toward the direction of the door and once it does—his heart almost stops. Jeongguk.

Jimin straightens his shoulders, hair on the back of his neck standing up, mouth going dry. He just started feeling at peace with the entire situation, especially because he hasn’t seen Jeongguk in days, and the sight of him—the way Jimin’s body betrays him—comes as quite a surprise to him.

“Can I come in, please?” Jeongguk asks. He’s changed out of his uniform, leather jacket on and his backpack hanging off his shoulder—he’s clearly ready to leave. “I know it’s late, but I’d really like to talk to you. There’s nobody else left in the restaurant. Just me.”

“Jeongguk—”

“Please? I really feel like we should talk.” Jeongguk stands with his shoulders straight and head slightly tilted back, holding his gaze with so much confidence it pushes Jimin to nod and gesture him to come in.

Jeongguk doesn’t ask for permission to sit down; he slumps into the armchair in front of Jimin’s desk, dumping his backpack onto the floor beside him.

“Look,” Jeongguk begins, crossing his legs and leaning slightly over the table. “That was painfully awkward the other day.”

Jimin blinks. “What was?”

“The other day when I ran into you, when you were locking up,” Jeongguk explains. “I could tell how uncomfortable it was for you. I just want to clear the air, hyung.”

“I wasn’t expecting to see you,” Jimin says. It’s partially true—Jimin hadn’t expected anyone to be there. “I was just caught off guard, that’s all.”

It’s clear that Jeongguk’s not buying it, and Jimin knows he doesn’t sound very convincing, either. He shouldn’t even be entertaining this conversation, but it’s too late now. Jeongguk is already here, sitting across from him.

“Can I be honest?”

Jimin’s gut sinks, throat closing up. He inhales, buying himself some time before he reluctantly nods. He’d rather Jeongguk not be honest or be here at all, because all that’s going to do is mess with his head even more than the kiss did, even more than meeting Jeongguk that very first day had.

“Go ahead.” Jimin clasps his hands together, palms sweating.

“Look,” Jeongguk begins and every muscle in Jimin’s body tenses, heat flooding his cheeks against his will.  “I’ve tried my best to give you space because I’ve seen the way you panicked that night, but I also don’t want things to be weird or uncomfortable between us.”

Jimin lets out a breath. “Jeongguk. I don’t think you should be worrying yourself about whether or not things between us are weird,” he says, deciding to ignore Jeongguk’s remark about him panicking. “We barely know each other. We met under very…unusual circumstances. All you have to worry about is showing up to work, completing the hours and making sure that tab you and your friends made is paid off. You don’t have to worry about me or whether I’m uncomfortable around you or not.”

Jeongguk presses his lips together, eyes darkening as he stares at Jimin, carefully studying his face. Jimin feels like he’s under a magnifying glass, all of him exposed for Jeongguk to see.

“But I do,” Jeongguk finally says. “Worry, I mean. I don’t want you to be.”

Jimin looks at him, expression blank. “And why is that, Jeongguk?” he asks, confusion settling underneath his skin. There’s no reason for Jeongguk to think about that and Jimin doesn’t understand why he would. “I’m an adult, I can look after myself.”

“I worry because I care,” Jeongguk says, not blinking an eye. Jimin’s stomach swoops, the sensation so unexpected it makes him slightly jerk and straighten up in his seat. “I hated seeing you uncomfortable. I’d hate seeing anyone uncomfortable, but you—I definitely don’t want to see you like that ever again.”

Jimin furrows his brows, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger, squeezing his eyes shut. “I’m not sure I’m following,” he admits. “Jeongguk, it’s honestly fine. I’m good. We barely see each other, anyway. Your contract will be up before you know it, and then you’ll never have to see me again. It’s really not a big deal.” Jimin opens his eyes, letting out a laugh. “I’ve had people kiss me before and never kiss me again. Seriously. Forget it ever happened.”

“Did you kiss them back?” Jeongguk asks. Jimin tilts his eyebrows in question. “People who’ve kissed you before and then never kissed you again. Did you kiss them back the same way you kissed me?”

Jimin’s pulse quickens, mouth going dry. It’s a bold question but Jimin can’t deny it; he’d kissed Jeongguk back with as much force as he could muster, and he’d been thinking about doing it again ever since.

“No,” he replies honestly. “But I told you that what happened was a lapse in judgement. Jeongguk, I’m fifteen years older than you. I’m not sure what it is that you’re even doing.”

Jeongguk looks satisfied with Jimin’s answer only for a brief moment before he frowns, scrunching his nose. “What does age have to do with anything? Is that what this is about? Age?” he huffs out a laugh. “I’m well aware of how old you are, and I still stand by what I did. I don’t give a fuck about your age. I like you.”

Jimin’s heart pounds even harder. “You don’t even know me.”

“That’s true,” Jeongguk agrees. “But that’s what I’m trying to do here—get to know you. If you’ll let me.” Jimin opens his mouth to say something but Jeongguk stops him with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Look, maybe I came on a little too strong,” he continues, voice wavering with the first hints of uncertainty. “I’m really sorry about that, if that’s the case. I might have misread the situation and picked an entirely wrong moment but I just—you did kiss me back. I think you felt that tension as much as I did.” Jeongguk pauses, sucking in a sharp breath. “Fuck, I felt it the first night we met, even with the police around and the entire situation being beyond humiliating. I saw the way you looked at me. I don’t know if you noticed, but I was looking at you the exact same way. Why the hell do you think I didn’t resist much when you suggested I work here to pay off the tab?”

Jimin’s head spins, overwhelmed. On one hand, hearing all of this feels so good, makes Jimin feel wanted and validated in a way he’s been craving for so long. He’s not crazy, and he’s not the only one who’s felt this strong pull but—he’s also the one who knows better than to let this happen.

“Jeongguk.” Jimin tries his best to rationalize, letting out a breath and squeezing his eyes shut again. “What happened between us was a mistake.”

“I tend to regret mistakes,” says Jeongguk and Jimin’s brain short-circuits. He opens his eyes to find Jeongguk still looking at him just as intently as he was moments ago. “I don’t regret kissing you, hyung.”

Jimin’s hands are clammy, tingles running down his spine. It’s a lot to process all at once, and Jimin is struggling he doesn’t know the last time he’d been in a situation similar to this one. As he got older, conversations like this became less frequent, either because he was always on the same page as people he was with, or because no one really mattered or cared enough to take anything further, clear things up.

He wonders why it is that Jeongguk cares. Somehow, it doesn’t feel like it’s because it’s fun to fuck with the boss, despite it being the first thing that comes to Jimin’s mind. The more he thinks about it, the more it just seems like Jimin is older, wiser, hard to get and what Jeongguk is attracted to isn’t him— it’s the challenge. It’s the difficulty of it. Jeongguk is sharp; he’s young and gorgeous and he could have whoever the hell he wants. But he can’t have Jimin.

“Just because you don’t regret something doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mistake.” Jimin says calmly, trying to regain control of the conversation. “You don’t regret what you and your friends tried to do either and yet it proved to be quite the mistake. You’ll come to learn mistakes and regret don’t always go hand in hand, Jeongguk-ah.”

Jeongguk’s nostrils flare, his jaw muscles more prominent as he clenches his teeth. Jimin doesn’t mean to lecture, though it does come out that way, but just because neither one of them regret the kiss happening doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mistake. Or rather, Jimin does regret it, only in a different way than he should. He regrets it happening because now he wants more, and if the circumstances were different, if Jeongguk was a few years older and Jimin hadn’t met him the way he did, he probably wouldn’t think twice about any of this. That’s his regret—not the kiss itself. 

Not that he wants Jeongguk to know.

“I just need to know—is it the age thing?” Jeongguk asks, tilting his head to the side. He doesn’t look discouraged but the confidence he’d walked in here with is nowhere near as strong as it was. “Or is it how we met? Because if it’s how we met, I swear it’s just a dumb thing my friends and I do a couple times a year and yeah it’s wrong and stupid but it’s not like I’m—fucking— harming anyone or that I’m this terrible per—”

Jimin’s heart unexpectedly twists inside of his chest at that and he immediately shakes his head. “No, no, no,” Jimin immediately says, cutting Jeongguk off mid-sentence. “That’s not it. I don’t think you’re a terrible person. I do think you were dumb and reckless, yeah, but I don’t think that makes you a bad person. I’ve done stupid shit when I was your age, too. I’m not going to hold this over your head.”

“It is about the age, then.” Jeongguk isn’t asking, he’s stating. Something like disappointment settles in his eyes and they don’t glimmer as intensely anymore. For some reason, Jimin feels more upset by that than he’d allow himself to admit.

“Jeongguk-ah,” Jimin huffs. “It’s much more complicated than that, I don’t think that you—”

“That I what?” Jeongguk interrupts, but it doesn’t irk Jimin. It should be considered rude and disrespectful, especially with the snappiness in his voice. If anything, there’s a relief that comes with Jeongguk taking over, because Jimin isn’t sure where exactly he was going with that. “Won’t understand because I’m too young? I’m twenty-three, hyung. Not thirteen.”

“I know that,” Jimin says, swallowing heavily. Jeongguk doesn’t look like he believes him. “I do,” he insists defensively. “I don’t think you’re fucking— thirteen— Jesus Christ. Don’t say it like that, you’re making it worse.”

Jeongguk gives him a small smile, but it fades the moment he opens his mouth to speak again. “You know what I mean. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, it’s just that you’re acting like I didn’t know what I’m doing because I’m too young, and it comes out disrespectful toward me. I’m an adult, hyung. You’re what, fourteen-fifteen years older than me? And I happen to find you incredibly attractive. Big deal. It happens.”

Jimin can feel his cheeks turning red and there’s a pleasant flutter in his stomach as the words sizzle underneath his skin. Jeongguk is so blunt and open, completely unafraid, entirely opposite to how Jimin is feeling right now. Immediately, Jimin thinks it’s because he’s young , but he quickly pushes the thought right back down where it came from—it’s the exact kind of thing Jeongguk doesn’t want Jimin to think.

Jimin’s thoughts then dart back to Taehyung and how casual he is about dating his much younger assistant, how he’s not putting pressure on himself or the development of their relationship. Jimin wishes he was as open-minded and causal about it too, and he wishes Jeongguk wasn’t so difficult to reject. Most of all, Jimin wishes Jeongguk didn’t make him feel the way that he does—like he actually cares.

“I just—Jeongguk-ah. You’re twenty-three,” Jimin says and Jeongguk narrows his eyes, opening his mouth to interrupt but Jimin waves his hand. Jeongguk presses his lips together and waits. “I’m not saying that to disrespect you or to treat you like a child. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around what it is that you’re looking for here. Is this fun for you? Challenging?”

“What?” Jeongguk’s expression softens, confusion washing over his features. “What do you mean?”

“Just.” Jimin gestures vaguely, shrugging. “You know.”

“I don’t think I do. I’m not a mind reader.”

Jimin clicks his tongue but decides to not address the brattiness. “It’s just…It seems like a game, Jeongguk-ah. I can’t tell if you’re serious or not with what you want or if you even know what you want.”

“I want to stop thinking about you, hyung,” Jeongguk says, voice low and smooth, sending shivers down Jimin’s spine. “But that’s not happening. So, I’m trying to give myself a fair chance here, and I’m asking if you would do that, too.”

Jimin doesn't know how to reply. Everything Jeongguk says is so tempting, as though all Jimin has to do is say yes and he can have this. Have him. But as much as Jimin wants it, to believe it, he can't—because it's too simple, too easy, and it’s going too fast. Something this important shouldn't be reduced to sound like this, and that's why Jimin's walls stay up. He'd like to give in, but he won't.The thought of it is terrifying.

“And it’s not a game,” Jeongguk continues, not waiting for Jimin’s reply. His tone softens into something almost tentative and it makes Jimin heart flutter. “There’s no reason for me to play you—”

“I’m not saying you’re trying to play me, Jeongguk-ah,” Jimin says with a sigh, growing more tired as he rubs his eyes again. “And even if you are trying…well. Good luck with that. But that’s not what I think . I think you’re playing yourself. I’m not trying to sound like a pretentious asshole, Jeongguk, but I’ve been in this business for quite some time now and I’ve been very successful at it, too. It’s not the first time I’ve had my staff hit on me or try to get in my pants for various reasons. You’re not the first, and you probably aren’t the last.”

Jimin doesn’t regret the words once they leave his mouth, but they do make the air between them unsettling, almost hostile. Jeongguk awkwardly shifts in his seat and Jimin realizes how narcissistic he might have come off, but it doesn’t matter—not if his point gets across to Jeongguk. Judging by the look on his face, Jimin’s not entirely sure it has.

“Okay,” Jeongguk says after a long moment of silence. There’s a wavering undertone to his voice despite his efforts to keep it flat and it makes guilt seep through Jimin’s skin. He didn’t mean to come off harsh or rude, but he doesn’t know Jeongguk well enough to throw all his fears away for a chance —as much as he’d like to. 

Admittedly, he did kiss Jeongguk back and if he didn’t know any better, Jimin would be leaning over the table and tugging Jeongguk in by the collar of his leather jacket and pressing their lips together right this second. Maybe Jeongguk really wants to get to know him, and Jimin isn’t a paranoid person—but this is the best excuse he can come up with for the inexplicable uneasiness he feels around him.

“Okay?” Jimin blinks, realizing Jeongguk is not going to say anything else. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Jimin knows he’s only looking for excuses because he’s afraid of the unknown, and Jeongguk meaning every single word of this would force Jimin to face every single flutter of his heart, every single swoop of his stomach along with that odd, inexplicable feeling of being seen every time Jeongguk stares at him with those big eyes of his.

No, Jimin isn’t quite ready to deal with that yet.

“Okay,” Jeongguk repeats, this time followed with a nod.

A knot rises up to Jimin’s throat; it’s hypocritical of him to feel as disappointed as he does, but it’s still what he’d wanted. So, he nods back, lips pressing into a firm line. “That’s it?”

Jeongguk shrugs, expressionless. “I—yeah. If that’s really how you feel, I’ll respect that. Despite that not being the case, I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you otherwise. If I make you feel the same way your other employees make you feel when they flirt with you, then I guess that’s more than I need to know.”

Jimin’s stomach sinks, his mouth goes dry. It clicks, then, that Jeongguk isn’t kidding around and that Jimin—Jimin really doesn’t want him to be. The last time he’d felt like this, he was in his early twenties and about to start dating his first serious boyfriend whom he’d pined after for two years, until he finally got drunk enough for Namjoon’s birthday and asked him out.

Panic is quick to morph into the sheer terror of realizing that he’d never even had never put in the time or the effort to pine after Jeongguk, and still, Jeongguk had sought him out, tried his best.  

Jimin hadn’t wanted to give Jeongguk any ideas of pursuing him further, but now, with Jeongguk accepting Jimin’s excuse—the wrong excuse—Jimin’s terrified more of the thought of Jeongguk letting him go than he is of his own feelings. 

“I don’t regret kissing you back,” Jimin blurts, head flooding his cheeks. Jeongguk’s mouth parts in surprise and Jimin shakes his head, letting out a defeated sigh. “I don’t. It’s been a while since I wanted to kiss someone back the way I wanted to kiss you.”

Jeongguk’s face lights up—but it’s only for a moment. His expression is quick to morph into a confused from, brows knitting together as deep crease sets between them. “But you don’t want to give me a chance?”

Jimin stares at him. He’s uneasy and on edge, his foot anxiously bouncing underneath the table. It’s late and Jimin doesn’t want to be having this conversation, he doesn’t know what the right thing to do or say is and if this kid is sincere, Jimin doesn’t want to string him along. He’d done that plenty when he was in college and it wasn’t until the same game was reversed on him that Jimin swore, he’d never do it again. He knew better.

“I don’t—”

“Do you need more time to think, hyung?” Jeongguk asks and it’s so hopeful it makes Jimin’s chest painfully clench. “Is that it?”

“I don’t know.” Jimin replies honestly, hating that he’s not as stern and set on saying no as he was when Jeongguk had first walked in here. He doesn’t want to fight himself—he’d never been good at that. “I really, really don’t. I’m not sure that me thinking about things is going to change much.”

“When you look at me, hyung, do you want me?” Jeongguk’s question comes out so blunt and unexpected that Jimin winces in his chair, back immediately straightening. “I look at you and I really, really want you. Do you want me, too?” Jimin’s mouth pops open, but no words come out. “I’m not asking you if you want to give me a chance or not. I’m being honest with you and so I’m asking for some honesty in return. When you look at me, hyung, do you want me?”

Jimin swallows heavily, every fiber in his body screaming at him to say something. He stares at Jeongguk long and hard, bottom lip bitten between his teeth as he gnaws on it, his brain working a thousand miles an hour.

Suddenly, Jimin feels too tired to think. Jeongguk just wants Jimin to give him a chance, and Jimin is making things harder for the both of them—and he doesn’t want to do that. He doesn’t want to resist anymore.

“Yes,” he admits, watching as Jeongguk’s lips curl into a barely noticeable smile. “I do want you.”

Jimin doesn’t know what to expect, but it’s not for Jeongguk to let out a breath of relief, shaking his head as he reaches down and grabs his backpack.

“In that case, that’s all I need to know,” he says, throwing the backpack over his shoulder and getting up from his seat.

Jimin watches him, his heart in his throat, beating so fast and loud it’s hard to process what just happened. He watches Jeongguk brush his hand through his hair and then head towards the door, throwing Jimin one last look as he stands at the threshold.

“I’m going to give you all the space you need, hyung. The ball’s in your court. If you want me, come get me. If you decide you don’t—I respect that, too.”

As Jeongguk closes the door behind him, Jimin releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

 

 

Jeongguk occupies every waking moment for the next week, despite Jimin trying his best to avoid him. He’s successful for the most part and they don’t exactly cross paths, but they do exchange a few long looks across the restaurant when Jeongguk arrives for his shifts and Jimin happens to be out of his office.

It makes it hard for the lump in Jimin’s throat to dissolve and for him to move on swiftly with his day, and so he catches himself entertaining the thought of the two of them together more often than he should. As days pass, Jimin finds less and less reasons to not give Jeongguk a chance.

Soon, he’ll be out of the restaurant and won’t even be an employee anymore, which makes half of Jimin’s initial argument invalid. There is the age thing still, of course, but Jimin can’t shake off all of what Jeongguk had told him and frankly, he’s not so sure he wants to anymore.

“Twenty-three is young,” says Namjoon and Jimin nods, pressing the brim of his teacup to his lips and taking a small sip. “But I don’t see why you wouldn’t give it a try. I think you’re making a lot bigger deal out of it than it has to be.”

Jimin is much more inclined to agree with this now than he was a few weeks ago, and so Namjoon’s words don’t come entirely unwelcome to him. Jimin had decided to sit down with him since he didn’t consider Taehyung his voice of reason and was too embarrassed to ask Seokjin—and was worried about Seokjin’s potential bias toward Jeongguk, too. So, Namjoon seemed like the best option; they’ve known each other for half of Jimin’s life. Besides, Namjoon was one of the most level-headed people he knew aside from Seokjin, and his advice truly meant something important.

“That’s what Taehyung said, too.”

“I think you don’t give Taehyung enough credit.” Namjoon shrugs, crossing his legs and tapping his fingers against the table. They’re sitting in the guest area and it is fairly busy, servers rushing back and forth with trays and there’s a pleasant noise of cutlery against porcelain filling out the room. They’d just had lunch and Jimin had caught him up to speed with everything that has happened between him and Jeongguk and much like everyone else around him, Namjoon thought Jimin was blowing things out of proportion. “If you want something, you should allow yourself to go for it. I don’t see a single real reason for you to deny yourself this.”

“I’m scared,” Jimin admits for the first time, out loud. “He’s so blunt and open and he came out of nowhere. He didn’t wait to kiss me. He saw an opportunity and he took it. Don’t get me wrong—I wanted that, too. And then when I left, he had no problem seeking me out and confronting me about things being awkward and laying all of his cards out on the table. I don’t know what to think, hyung. I’m afraid that it might be a game.”

“Okay.” Namjoon nods. “And if it was a game—what would he be getting out of it?”

Jimin takes his bottom lip between his teeth, staring off somewhere behind Namjoon’s shoulder as he thinks.

“I have no idea.” Jimin finally settles on saying. Namjoon gives him a look. “I really don’t. He hasn’t—I haven’t gotten a feeling he wants anything. But what do any of my employees want from me? Money? A higher position at the restaurant? I don’t know, it could be anything, hyung. He studies hospitality management, for fuck’s sake.”

Namjoon raises his eyebrows, tilting his head to the side. He curls his arms around his coffee cup and sighs, the soft strands of his brown hair falling into his eyes. Jimin notices he looks tired and there’s an immediate twinge of guilt he feels at the base of his stomach, despite knowing that both Namjoon and Seokjin willingly work overtime because the restaurants are just as important to them as they are to Jimin—they’ve been with him ever since the very beginning.

“Jimin-ah, if you’re afraid of him having ulterior motives all you ever have to do is say no when and if the topic ever arises.” Jimin knows that—what he’s afraid of is not being able to. Not because he’s weak, but because he’d fall too hard too fast and he’d want to do anything for Jeongguk. This thought makes his throat close up. “I understand where you’re coming from, but if you look at it from an outsider’s perspective, it doesn’t make much sense. This kid—Jeongguk—he didn’t even apply to work there. All of this was a massive accident, he never even planned on meeting you, right?”

Jimin nods.

“So, I don’t think you have much to worry about, honestly. It seems to me that the both of you are just very much attracted to each other, and that’s fine,” Namjoon continues. “Things like that happen. Seokjin and I slept together the first night we met, and we’ve been together for what? Almost twenty years now. I’m not saying that’s going to be the case with you and Jeongguk, but what I’m saying is that what you’re feeling and what he’s feeling is perfectly fine.”

Jimin swallows, nodding along to Namjoon’s words. He knows Namjoon is right—he usually tends to be, when it comes to these things.

“When you put it that way, hyung,” Jimin sighs, staring down at his teacup. “It’s just—been a while since I was this attracted to someone and the age difference is a bit intimidating. I don’t think I’ve gone lower than twenty-nine ever since I turned thirty.”

The corners of Namjoon’s lips twitch in amusement, but he nods sympathetically. “I get that. Doesn’t hurt to give it a try though, right? I’m sure it’s something you can get easily adjusted to, especially if you start spending time together. He’ll be out of your restaurant before you know it and besides—it doesn’t have to be anything serious. You can just have some fun, no? If he turns out to be an immature little shit, you can always end things. Besides, Seokjin hyung says he’s a good kid, despite the reason why he ended up working there to begin with.”

Jimin snorts, rolling his eyes. “Of course he would say that. Hyung likes anyone with a big mouth.”

“Jimin-ah, seriously. Live a little.” Namjoon grins at him and Jimin can’t help but smile back. “There’s more to life than just business, but speaking of—tell me all about that new restaurant you plan on opening.”

Jimin snorts at the irony of it, but he appreciates the change in subject. He continues processing Namjoon’s words even when he gets home later that day; the more he thinks about it, the more open he is to giving Jeongguk a chance. Besides, as difficult it is to admit, Jimin is itching to see him, to talk to him again.

He can’t stop thinking about the intensity of Jeongguk’s gaze, the certainty of his words, like he carefully thinks about what he says—it gives Jimin a spark of hope, that maybe he’s put as much thought into this as Jimin has. 

Jimin decides that maybe, just maybe, he should allow himself to entertain the idea of him and Jeongguk together and admit it wouldn’t be nearly as wrong as he initially thought it would be. Namjoon is right; all he has to do is overcome the anxiety that comes when he remembers the fifteen-year age gap between them, but maybe it’ll go away all on its own if Jimin just gives Jeongguk time to prove they can work.

That night, he comes to a decision that makes his stomach flutter and his heart beat faster: the ball is in his court, and he’s going to take the chance.

 

 

“There you are,” says Seokjin, walking inside the VIP dining area where Jimin is sitting behind a massive wooden table that’s meant to fit at least fifteen people. “Thought you might be at your office, so I checked there first.”

“I’ve been in here all day,” Jimin replies, pushing the half-eaten chocolate dessert away from himself, frowning at all the ones that are left to taste. “Wanna try some?”

“I don’t think so.” Seokjin shakes his head, throwing his coat on. “How did it go? Sorry I had to leave you all alone earlier.”

Jimin and Seokjin have spent the majority of the afternoon interviewing chefs; one for a position here and others for positions in the restaurant that has yet to open. It’s been a stressful few days and Jimin has barely had time to breathe, and things were only about to get busier with all the interviews he has lined up.

“It’s all good. You had work to do,” mutters Jimin, rubbing the side of his face. He glances over at his iPad where he’d been taking notes then at the desserts, then back at Seokjin. “I’ve been trying to take a bite of each, but ended up eating the first four because I was starving, and now I’m so full I don’t think I can finish the rest.”

There are almost ten left and Jimin feels sick just by looking at them, but he has to go through them all otherwise they won’t taste nearly as good tomorrow, and he’ll have to invite the chefs back to make them again.

“Should I tell Hoseok to come and help you out? I think everyone else has pretty much left,” Seokjin suggests and Jimin leans back in his chair, letting out a long sigh.

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess that’d be helpful. I took a bunch of notes.” He hands the iPad over to Seokjin, watching the crease between his hyung’s brows deepen as he stares down at the screen.

“Good,” Seokjin says as he skims through. “Yeah, okay. Good. We’ll go over these tomorrow.  How many interviews do we have lined up?”

“Only six,” Jimin says. “Can’t believe we went through twenty people today. I’m exhausted.”

“Take a day off on Thursday, yeah? There’s that dinner KIA Motors CEOs’ are organizing—it’s going to be full of chaebols, and since the staff will be setting up the place the whole afternoon, you really don’t need to come in.”

Jimin breathes out, stretching his arms and legs out and tipping his back against the backrest of his chair. He doesn’t tend to take many days off, but he could use it to go suit shopping for the wedding he has coming up and so Jimin reluctantly nods his head, humming noncommittally.

“Yeah, I have to go suit shopping. I have another wedding to attend.”

Seokjin narrows his eyes at him. “Did you not go to a wedding just a couple of weeks ago?”

“Yep,” Jimin huffs, popping the syllable. “And I have another one lined up.”

“What is it with people and getting married?” Seokjin rolls his eyes, taking the leather gloves out of his pockets and sliding them on, getting ready to leave. “Don’t they know the amount of marriages that end in divorce? They’ll never be happy.”

Jimin snorts out a laugh, shaking his head as Seokjin shrugs innocently. “You and Namjoon are happy and you’ve been together for ages.”

“But we’re not married.” Seokjin taps his index finger against his temple and winks at him. “Not that we could be, but that’s not the point. Marriage is for losers.”

“You’re a loser,” says Jimin playfully, a giggle bubbling up in his throat. “Go home, hyung. I gotta finish up here and go home, too.”

“Alright, I’m out. I’ll send Hoseok over to help out if he hasn’t left.”

“Thanks, hyung. Have a good night.”

Seokjin leaves and Jimin forces himself to try a few more of the desserts, rubbing his eyes every now and again as he takes notes, trying to be as detailed as possible. He doesn’t flinch when he hears the dining hall door open and instead gestures for Hoseok to come over, not taking his eyes off the iPad in front of him.

“Come in, I’m getting sick of chocolate. I’m gonna need you to try at least five of th—” Jimin’s voice cuts off as he lifts his head and he’s met with a pair of big, glittering eyes and Jeongguk’s soft, beautiful features.

Jeongguk’s hair falls in waves and frames his face, and he’s still wearing his work apron; Jimin notices a few wet spots on it. Jeongguk doesn’t have his gloves on, so Jimin is fully able to see his tattoos as the sleeves of his shirt are rolled all the way up to his elbows.

“Jeongguk,” Jimin says, lips curling into a smile. His heart flutters when Jeongguk smiles back, walking over toward where Jimin is sitting and tilting his head in question as he looks at all the cake on the table.

Despite wanting to talk to him, Jimin hasn’t gotten the chance to see him yet, and the fact that Jeongguk is here instead of Hoseok makes the tiredness suddenly fade. Jimin catches himself straightening up in his seat.

“Hey,” Jeongguk says softly, still smiling at him. “Seokjin hyung said you wanted to see me.”

Jimin can’t help the snort that leaves him. Of course he did. Jimin should have known better—it’s not unlike Seokjin to meddle, at least a little bit. After his conversation with Namjoon’s the other day, Jimin figured Seokjin would find everything out but right now, he’s actually grateful.

“Seokjin knows a thing or two, I guess,” Jimin says, shaking his head in amusement. “Hi.”

Jeongguk arches an eyebrow. “Hi.”

Tingles run down Jimin’s spine as Jeongguk stares at him intently. He doesn’t look confused or uncertain, rather just waiting for Jimin to make the first move.

“I didn’t know you were still here,” Jimin says. “Thought only Hoseok was.”

“Hyung left two minutes ago,” replies Jeongguk, pausing as he wrinkles his nose. “Actually, he couldn’t have gone too far. If you need me to go get him—”

“It’s fine, Jeongguk.” Jimin smiles reassuringly, trying his best to hold up his confidence. Jeongguk’s presence makes him so jittery that Jimin is barely able to recognize himself, but judging by the way Jeongguk is looking at him, he’s not able to tell a thing. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Oh?” Jeongguk cocks his eyebrow again, tone pitchy with surprise. “Really now?”

Jimin rolls his eyes and laughs. This kid is really pushing it, but Jimin likes it.

“Actually, yeah. I’ve been meaning to come talk to you, but I haven’t had much time these past few days.”

Jeongguk leans down to place his hands onto the table, lowering himself so their gazes are almost leveled. He chews on the inside of his cheek as he watches Jimin with an amused glint in his eyes, making Jimin’s breath catch in his throat. It’s like Jeongguk is carefully studying him, looking more smug than Jimin would like him to, but god— it’s so attractive Jimin doesn’t know what he was thinking leaving that night when all he should have done  was kiss Jeongguk more.

“Does that mean you were thinking about me?” Jeongguk asks and Jimin’s stomach involuntarily swoops, kicking all of the air out.

“I was,” he replies, shrugging nonchalantly. He leans forward, elbows sliding against the wood of the table as he entirely levels his and Jeongguk’s gazes. “Quite a lot, actually.”

He watches Jeongguk’s expression shift, mouth parting in surprise for a split second before Jeongguk recollects himself, the smugness flashing over his features again. His eyes glitter in the dim overhead lights and his smile brightens as they continue staring at each other; the look in his eyes makes something within Jimin settle.

Yeah, he’s more nervous around Jeongguk than he’s been around any other person in years, but something about Jeongguk being here right now brings a certain tranquility with it, too.

“Good. Because I thought about you every single day.”

Heat floods Jimin’s cheeks and his entire body flushes. He lets out a quiet huff as he shakes his head.

“C’mere.” He gestures for Jeongguk to come closer, pulling out a chair so Jeongguk can sit next to him. Jeongguk straightens up in a split second and walks over to him, close enough to make Jimin’s pulse quicken. “Are you hungry by any chance?”

Jeongguk settles down next to him, running a hand through his hair. He smells like dish soap and bubblegum, the softness of it matching the gentle look in his eyes. Jeongguk wrinkles his nose, tilting his head to the side as he stares at all the desserts in front of him.

“Not really. But there’s always room for cake,” he grins and Jimin smiles, covering his mouth with his hand.

“Good, because I need help,” Jimin admits, shifting in his seat and crossing his legs. “I was really hungry earlier, and ended up finishing a few because they were too good and I couldn’t stop. But all of these are left too, and I can’t just put them in the freezer and do the taste test tomorrow. It’s just not going to be the same. You think you can do this for me?”

“You trust my taste?”

“You say you like me, don’t you?” Jimin quirks an eyebrow and ignores the way his heart jumps in his chest as he says that, grabbing one of the desserts laid out in front of them in an attempt to distract himself. “If that’s the case, your taste can’t be that bad.”

Jeongguk tilts his head back and laughs, a soft, airy sound with just a little pitch to it. It’s light and it makes Jimin fill up with warmth, and he has to make a conscious decision to not just clutch at Jeongguk’s apron and pull him close.

There’s confidence building inside of Jimin with each second he spends beside Jeongguk, and despite the heaviness in the air between them, Jimin doesn’t feel pressured . Jeongguk had said he’d wait, and Jimin Jimin trusts him that he will.

He grabs a fork and cuts into the cake, slightly leaning toward Jeongguk and bringing the fork closer to his lips. “Come closer,” he urges quietly, gently tapping his fingers against the armrest of Jeongguk’s chair. Jeongguk moves, bringing the chair so close to Jimin their shoulders end up touching, making a shiver rip through him. Jimin refuses to let his body give him away; instead, he smiles at Jeongguk who stares at him with his mouth popped open half in surprise and half in anticipation, and carefully feeds him a piece. “There you go.”

Jimin giggles when Jeongguk makes a face while chewing, furrowing his brow as his lips form into a slight pout.

“Not good?” Jimin asks, grabbing the tablet.

“S’too much coffee in there,” Jeongguk muses with his mouth full. He swallows and then shakes his head, dark waves of his hair falling into his eyes. “I don’t like it. Yeah—too much coffee. It totally overpowers the chocolate.”

Jimin nods, noting it down on his iPad. “So, you’d say it’s bitter?”

“Yeah,” says Jeongguk. “I don’t like bitter. I don’t like sweet either—but this is just—” his voice cuts off, nose wrinkling even more as he stares down at the piece of cake in front of him, “too much. And I only feel a hint of cherry in it. I think it adds to the acidity, but the coffee mixed with it makes it yeah, too bitter.”

“Noted,” Jimin smiles, typing in the last few words. “You’re good at this.”

“I’ve done this before,” says Jeongguk with a shrug and Jimin raises his eyebrows in question, semi-impressed. “My hyung’s parents own a restaurant. You know, uh—my hyung who thought of the whole tradition thing. They had a series of interviews with chefs and then their staff would do taste tests a lot, so we’d often be invited to come eat a bit here and there. I learned to give useful feedback pretty quickly.”

Jimin stares at Jeongguk blankly before he bursts into laughter, shaking his head in disbelief as he sweeps his bangs away from his forehead. “Please tell me you’re joking,” he says and Jeongguk huffs, rolling his eyes. “Please tell me that you’re fucking with me.”

“I wish,” Jeongguk says and tingles run down Jimin’s spine, his laughter immediately dying down at the implication of his words. “But I’m not kidding. Hyung never wanted to be in the business, though. I think doing that sometimes is his way of saying fuck you to his parents.”

“And what is it that your hyung does, then?”

Jeongguk grins at him sheepishly. “Works at Burger King with me.”

“Works at Burger King with you,” Jimin echoes and Jeongguk nods, failing to bite back his grin. “Your friends are ridiculous, Jeon Jeongguk. You’re ridiculous.”

“We’re not that ridiculous,” Jeongguk complains, but it’s followed by a laugh. “He’s getting his Master’s in urban planning. You know, like, architecture shit.”

“So, what you’re trying to tell me is that your hyung is a rich kid rebelling against rich people a few times a year, and you’re on board with it?” Jimin asks, leaning back into his chair and staring at Jeongguk with so much interest he barely even blinks.

This kid—he’s something else.

“How do you know he’s rich?”

Jimin snorts, dismissively waving his hand as he rolls his eyes. “Please. His family has a restaurant and they do a fuckton of taste tests. I think it’s safe to assume the restaurant does pretty well, no?”

Jeongguk grins at that. “You’re right. But he pays for everything on his own. His parents cut him off when they realized he won’t be getting into culinary school and taking over the business.”

Jimin stretches his legs out before he crosses them, propping his elbow on the armrest of his chair and leaning slightly toward Jeongguk, enough to get a little closer, but not enough to make himself too flustered. “Well, culinary school is no joke.” Jimin says. “At least the one I went to wasn’t.”

“Mine’s not either,” Jeongguk mumbles, eyeing a piece of cake to Jimin’s left. “They’re demanding as hell, but you get used to it pretty quickly. You studied the same thing I’m studying, right?”

“Some Naver search you did,” Jimin snorts. “Wrong. I studied culinary arts. I was supposed to be a chef.”

“So, you can cook, but you don’t know how to do the dishes?” Jeongguk teases and Jimin’s cheeks flush a bite shade of pink, embarrassment settling underneath his skin. “That’s okay. I’m a shit cook.”

“Are you implying that I’m a shit dish washer?”

Jeongguk blinks. “Yes?”

“I should fire you right now,” Jimin says flatly, taking the fork into his hand again and cutting into another piece. He brings it to Jeongguk and watches his lips wrap around it while his eyes are dead set on Jimin, making Jimin’s skin feel hot all over. Jimin puts the fork down and reaches to wipe the remaining bit of whip cream from the corner of Jeongguk’s lips with his thumb, making a small gasp slip past Jeongguk’s lips. “How is it?”

Jeongguk makes a pleased sound, eyes dark. He nods his head in approval, swallowing down the bite and breathing out in content. “S’good,” he confirms and Jimin nods, tilting his eyebrows and encouraging him to go on. “Way less coffee, and the milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate was a good choice. I can taste the cherry in it and it’s sour just enough that you don’t immediately have to reach for a sip of water.”

Jimin types it all into the iPad, nodding vigorously as Jeongguk continues explaining in detail. “You just… continue surprising me,” Jimin mumbles under his breath as he reaches for a different plate.

“What did you just say?” Jeongguk asks, leaning forward so he can hear him better.

Jimin smiles to himself and cuts through a new piece of cake, bringing it to Jeongguk’s lips. “Nothing. Open up.”

Jimin shouldn’t be enjoying this as much as he does. There’s something about feeding Jeongguk dessert and listening to his snarky but insightful comments that makes Jimin feel less tired as time passes, despite it getting really late. Instead, he catches himself laughing more and more as Jeongguk talks, feeling more at ease as the night goes on. 

Jimin is a confident person; he knows what he wants, and he doesn’t have trouble going after it. But with Jeongguk, it’s entirely different. There’s a feeling of uncertainty that seeps through his skin despite the obvious attraction, tension so thick between them that feels like it can be cut with a knife. Jimin is hesitant to make a move, so instead he just— waits .

He reaches to gently wipe the corner of Jeongguk’s mouth and his skin immediately breaks out into goosebumps as Jeongguk gives him that look, the one that makes Jimin want to both kiss him and cover his own face with his hands.

The tension between them grows. Soon enough, Jeongguk is entirely in Jimin's space, bumping their shoulders every time he laughs, knees pressed together beneath the table. Jimin can't get enough of it, can't get enough of Jeongguk's laughter and his warmth, can't stop his eyes flicking down to Jeongguk's lips no matter how hard he tries to stop—and Jeongguk notices. Jimin knows he does.

It becomes evident that Jeongguk won’t make the first move, though, no matter how many times Jimin runs his thumb over his lower lip, and with the smirk on his face it’s even clearer that Jimin is going to be the one who’s going to have to do something this time around. Any other time—he wouldn’t mind. In fact, Jimin is usually the one to make the first move anyway, especially when it will give him a better control of the situation, but right now Jimin is tentative and nervous , despite Jeongguk having laid all of his cards on the table, and he hasn’t felt this way about anyone in so long.

He’d missed this feeling; the butterflies, the goosebumps, the rapid beating of his heart inside of his chest. Jimin had missed it, but he’d spent too long thinking he wasn’t going to feel it again. As silly as it might sound, Jimin thought things like that went away with time and experience, but with Jeongguk sitting next to him, it’s so clear that’s not the case.

“Hyung, we’ve tried them all,” says Jeongguk breathily when Jimin finishes making notes, face suddenly too close to his. He’s been aware of their proximity the entire time and now that the business is all done, Jimin doesn’t know how much longer he’s going to be able to contain himself.

Jimin gets up from his seat and leans against the table, looking down at Jeongguk as he folds his arms over his chest. Jeongguk doesn’t seem tired; if anything, he’s looking at Jimin with the same look in his eyes that night they kissed. Excitement and anxiety swirl inside of Jimin’s stomach as Jeongguk stares up at him, almost if he’s trying to push Jimin to make a move.

It works—Jimin has spent too much time thinking about Jeongguk to just…not do anything.

“You’ve done well, Jeongguk-ah,” Jimin says, a smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. “Thank you for staying. I’ll make sure you’re paid extra for this.”

Jeongguk’s eyes darken and he gets up, too, making panic briefly flood through Jimin. If Jeongguk is going to leave, Jimin’s not going to say anything—but he can’t help the disappointment that settles in almost immediately.

“I don’t care about getting paid extra, hyung,” says Jeongguk, placing his hands by Jimin’s sides, gripping at the table. He’s dangerously close now, lowered just enough to still stare up at Jimin, and yet Jimin is the one whose knees feel weak. “I’m happy I got to spend more time with you. I like hearing you talk. I like looking at you while you talk. You’re…”

“I’m what?” Jimin asks, holding his breath. His heart hammers against the inside of his chest, breathing suddenly too difficult of a task.

“Hard to take eyes off of,” Jeongguk simply says, making heat trickle down Jimin’s spine. “If you’re in the room, I can only focus on you.”

Jimin swallows audibly. “There’s only us in the room, Jeongguk-ah,” he says airily, dropping his arms back to his sides, almost touching Jeongguk’s. “There’s nobody else to shift your attention to.”

Jeongguk lets out a low hum, making shivers rip through Jimin’s body. “And yet even if there was, my attention would still be on you,” he says, shrugging.

“Come here,” Jimin chokes out, fingers twisting at Jeongguk’s apron as he pulls him close.

Their lips crash together and Jimin doesn’t fight the strangled moan which comes out of him, just lets his hands slide down Jeongguk’s sides and grip tightly at his waist. Jeongguk grunts into the kiss, one hand gripping at Jimin’s side while the other travels all the way up to the nape of Jimin’s neck, gently pressing so he can deepen the kiss.

Desperation washes over Jimin and he kisses Jeongguk like he hasn’t kissed anyone in years, like he’s the one who’s starved this time around—and maybe he is. Jeongguk lets Jimin take charge, lets him lick into his mouth and swallows down every single one of Jimin’s moans, all while pressing their bodies together and making Jimin breathless .

The room is at least ten degrees hotter than it was moments ago and Jimin pants into Jeongguk’s mouth, gasping as Jeongguk pushes him further against the table. Jimin lets go of Jeongguk’s waist and reaches behind himself, messily pushing the plates away so he can sit against the edge. Once he does, he tugs Jeongguk closer and cages him between his legs, hands tangling in Jeongguk’s hair.

Jimin feels his cock getting harder as Jeongguk runs his fingers down his back, Jeongguk’s nails scraping down the soft fabric of his dress shirt, and every touch feels scorching hot against Jimin’s skin.

“You make it so hard for me to stay away,” Jimin mumbles between kisses, mouth latching onto the side of Jeongguk’s jaw as Jeongguk lets out a huff of laughter. “Fuck—what are we doing?”

“Whatever you want to do.” Jeongguk kisses him again, then presses their foreheads together, allowing both of them to try and catch their breaths. Jimin’s mind is hazy; he’s tired, aroused and kiss-drunk all at the same time, and he can’t get enough of Jeongguk. He can’t get enough of the way Jeongguk’s mouth feels against his—soft and determined—can’t get enough of the way Jeongguk grips at his waist and presses their bodies together. Jimin’s not about to do what he’d done last time—he’s not about to let go. He doesn’t think he could, even if he tried. “We’re doing whatever you want to do, hyung.”

Jimin is still breathless, blinking up at Jeongguk as his arms stay firmly linked around his neck. “What do you want to do, Jeongguk-ah?”

Jeongguk’s gaze darkens and he kisses Jimin again, tongue feeling hot and heavy against Jimin’s lower lip. “You, hyung,” Jeongguk says and the words go straight to Jimin’s groin, kicking all air out of his lungs. “Wanna do you.”

“You’re so fucking— god,” Jimin mutters, sucking Jeongguk’s bottom lip between his teeth, hands sliding to grip and Jeongguk’s ass. “Fucking shameless. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about that more than a couple of times.”

Jeongguk dips his head and runs his nose alongside Jimin’s jaw, leaving kisses right underneath. He nibbles on the skin just enough to rile Jimin up even more until his cock is throbbing in his underwear, but not enough to leave any marks. “Yeah?” he murmurs, pulling Jimin’s dress shirt from where it’s tucked in his slacks, smiling against the skin. “What did you think about?”

“You,” Jimin replies, letting out a moan as Jeongguk’s warm hands slip right underneath his shirt. He realizes it’s a cop out answer and Jimin’s never been a coward—he’s just never felt this intensely before. “You bending me over. Filling me up.”

“I thought about that too,” Jeongguk admits, taking Jimin’s face between his hands and kissing the corner of his mouth. “Since the first night we met. Fuck—I can do that, hyung. I can fill you up as much as you want, bend you over and fuck you raw if you want me to, I can—”

“Jesus fuck, Jeongguk,” Jimin pants, pressing his palm against Jeongguk’s chest and gently pushing him away. Jeongguk pauses, looking down at Jimin with his pupils blown wide, eyes dark and breathing ragged. “I swear to fucking god, you can’t just say shit like that—”

“I mean it,” Jeongguk cuts him off, dipping his fingers into the soft flesh of Jimin’s sides, making shivers run down his spine. “Every single word. Tell me what you want, and I’ll do it.”

Jimin doesn’t have too much time to think. His cock is aching in his underwear and he just wants to release the pressure that’s built up at the base of his stomach, but—

“Do you have mommy issues?”

Jeongguk blinks. “What—”

“Yes or no, Jeongguk-ah.”

“No, I—”

“Daddy issues?” Jimin asks, breathless. Confusion floods Jeongguk’s features and his brows knit together, the crease between them deepening as he processes Jimin’s question. “Do you hate your father? Is this your way of getting back at your parents because if it is, I swear—”

“Hyung.” Jeongguk’s voice comes out a lot more leveled and gentler than it was just moments ago. “I’m not doing this to get back at anyone. I love my parents. No mommy or daddy issues. What I do have an issue with, though, is that my dick is hard as fuck and you’re out here talking about my parents.”

Jimin lets out a soft laugh, hands fisting in Jeongguk’s apron and pulling him down for a kiss. Jeongguk laughs against his lips, hands traveling up his ribs and making Jimin’s skin break out into goosebumps. His breath hitches in his throat as Jeongguk touches him, and Jimin’s pants suddenly feel too uncomfortable. He presses his crotch to Jeongguk’s thigh, shivering at the electric feeling that runs through him as Jeongguk moves his leg.

“What do you wanna do?” Jeongguk asks, wiping the saliva string from Jimin’s mouth as he pulls back.

“I don’t have lube,” Jimin huffs out frustratedly, Jeongguk’s fingers feeling scorching hot against his skin as he ceases all movement. “Fuck, I really want to, but—”

“Let me eat you out.”

Jimin blinks, his cock twitching in his pants. “What?”

“Right on top of this table. Let me eat you out. Let me make you feel good, hyung.”

Jimin is sure there are plenty of reasons why he should say no and why this is a stupid idea, but none come to mind. Instead, he hops off the table and kisses Jeongguk, letting him unbutton his pants. Jimin presses his palm to Jeongguk’s cock, smirking as he realizes Jeongguk is just as hard as him.

“We’re gonna have to do something about this as well,” Jimin murmurs, gasping as Jeongguk manages to unbutton his pants and slips his hand underneath the waistband of his underwear, fingers curling around the head of Jimin’s cock. “Fuck—”

“Don’t worry about me,” Jeongguk says, running his thumb over the slit and making Jimin’s eyes roll to the back of his head. “I want to take care of you.”

Jimin won’t say no to that. Jeongguk looks eager to please and Jimin—he desperately needs to get off. Despite the rational part of his brain telling him to not do this here, Jimin doesn’t care. He’s too driven by the need to feel Jeongguk inside of him and thinking about anything else can wait.

“Wanna get on the table?” Jeongguk asks, sheepishly quirking an eyebrow as he smears precome all over the tip of Jimin’s cock. “Let me properly eat you out.”

Jimin huffs out a laugh as Jeongguk takes his hand out of his underwear, turning around and pressing his ass against Jeongguk’s crotch as he hooks his thumbs underneath the waistband of his pants and pulls them down.

“We’re not going to do that on the table,” Jimin laughs, tilting his head back as Jeongguk buries his face in the back of his neck and runs his hands down Jimin’s sides, pressing his crotch against Jimin’s bare ass, making him shiver all over. “But you can make me feel good while you’re on your knees instead, how about that?”

“Such a prude,” Jeongguk teases but he still drops down to his knees, making Jimin gasp for air once he feels his hands on his bare ass.

“Just trying to—”

“Holy shit.” Jeongguk’s voice comes out low and gravelly, his hands spreading Jimin’s asscheeks and Jimin feels Jeongguk’s breath against his rim, making him let out a muffled whine before Jeongguk even does anything. “I’ve been thinking about this for fucking weeks.”

Jimin’s face flushes a dark shade of pink, pressure building up in his stomach as he steadies his grip on the edge of the table and pushes his ass further back. The noise he lets out when he feels Jeongguk hot, wet tongue against his rim is downright embarrassing—but he doesn’t care. Jeongguk licks around the rim and Jimin lets out a shaky breath, curling a fist around his leaking cock.

Jeongguk’s tongue pushes past his rim and Jimin lets his eyes fall shut, his grip tightening around his cock as electricity runs through him. He breaks out into sweat at the pressure of Jeongguk’s tongue inside of him, and the wet sounds that fill the room are obscene— but Jimin loves it. Jeongguk fucks into him nice and steady, and Jimin is just getting used to the sensation when he feels Jeongguk’s finger press against his rim, slowly pushing into him.

“Oh fuck,” Jimin lowers his head, his hand picking up the pace as it slides up and down his cock. “Oh my god, deeper, Jeongguk, push it deeper—”

Jeongguk immediately does so, pushing his finger deeper inside and curling it alongside his tongue, just enough to brush against Jimin’s prostate. The sensation ripples through Jimin and his entire body trembles, pressure building up in his gut embarrassingly quick.

He strokes himself as slowly as he can manage, pushes his ass back into Jeongguk’s face and moans loudly when Jeongguk’s nails dig into his skin, his grip holding Jimin firmly in place.

“Does that feel good?” Jeongguk asks lowly, his voice strained as he speaks and doing all kinds of things to Jimin.

“So good,” Jimin frantically nods, a moan forming at the back of his throat as Jeongguk’s fingertip circles around his rim again. “Add another one—please.”

“You don’t have to beg, baby,” Jeongguk teases and if Jimin wasn’t so far gone and the pet name didn’t go straight to his dick, he would’ve smacked Jeongguk for being a smartass. “I’ll do whatever you want to make you feel good.”

Jeongguk adds another finger and the familiar stretch pleasantly burns until Jeongguk soothes it with his tongue, making Jimin fuck harder into his own hand. Jimin is distantly aware of the way his moans fill out the room; Jeongguk eats him out and fingers him hard and fast, hitting all the right spots and making it hard for Jimin to keep it together.

“God that’s so good,” Jimin sighs, eyes squeezing shut. He slows down the pace and loosens the grip on his cock, coming dangerously close to the edge and Jimin—he can’t just come all over his hand and the floor. “F-Fuck, Jeongguk, keep going.”

Jeongguk does—and the feeling is incredible. Jimin forces himself to stop jacking off and instead pushes his ass further onto Jeongguk’s tongue, reaching behind himself to tangle his hand in Jeongguk’s hair.

Jimin doesn’t tug at the strands but he does slightly angle Jeongguk’s head, letting out a moan as Jeongguk curls his tongue inside of him. Jeongguk lets out a pleased grunt, laughing quietly and licking around Jimin’s hole before pushing his tongue back in.

“Taste so good,” Jeongguk mutters and Jimin is so lost in the feeling of his fingers buried deep inside of him that he almost misses it. “Are you close?”

Jimin shakes his head then nods, not even sure anymore because that’s how good Jeongguk feels inside of him.

“Y-Yeah, fuck, Jeongguk, I can’t come all over the floor, w-wait,” he says weakly, realizing that his orgasm could hit at any moment if Jeongguk keeps going. “I-I’m gonna make a mess.”

“C’mere,” Jeongguk mutters, suddenly pulling his fingers out of Jimin, making his hole clench around nothing. Jimin gasps and the next thing he knows he’s being turned around and pushes against the table, clumsily grabbing the edges to keep himself balanced.

Jeongguk is down on his knees and when their eyes meet, Jimin’s brain short-circuits. Jeongguk’s lips are swollen, jaw spit-slicked, hair messy, and Jimin thinks he looks absolutely gorgeous. He watches Jeongguk curl his hands around his cock and without breaking eye contact he surges forward, making Jimin’s breath catch in his throat.

“Come in my mouth,” Jeongguk orders, wrapping his lips around the tip, sending shivers down Jimin’s spine.

Jimin’s eyes roll to the back of his head, the warmth of Jeongguk’s mouth feeling unreal around him. His hips twitch and he doesn’t think twice about fucking into Jeongguk’s mouth as he swallows him whole, the tip of his cock hitting the back of Jeongguk’s throat.

“J-Jeongguk,” Jimin sputters breathily, fingers twisting in Jeongguk’s hair as a whine escapes him when Jeongguk dips his tongue into the slit. “Jeongguk, I’m gonna—gonna come.”

Jeongguk lets out something between a hum and a grunt, tongue circling around Jimin’s length and the next thing Jimin knows his vision spots white and his hips are jerking forward as he comes full force into Jeongguk’s mouth.

Jimin pants and moans as his orgasm rips through him, hand slipping away from Jeongguk’s hair and weakly gripping the table edge behind him. For a moment, Jimin doesn’t feel his knees; all he feels is the wet heat of Jeongguk’s mouth around him as he sucks Jimin dry and swallows down every single drop of his come.

“You taste so good,” Jeongguk rasps as he pulls away, still on his knees and staring up at Jimin. Jimin’s chest heaves, mind still hazy with arousal as he comes down from his high, but he still reaches for the collar of Jeongguk’s shirt and tugs him up to his feet. Jeongguk stumbles forward and Jimin pulls him into a kiss, their lips messily crashing together as Jimin takes his face between his hands. “Fuck—hyung.”

Jeongguk wraps his fingers around Jimin’s wrists and moves his hands away from his face, gently grabbing Jimin by the jaw instead. “You’re so fucking gorgeous, hyung.”

Jimin shivers at the words, lips curling into a dazed smile as he stares at Jeongguk’s dark eyes and swollen lips, surging forward to kiss him again.

“I can’t believe we just did that.” Jimin shakes his head and laughs, regaining sensation in his legs. He pulls his pants back up, his breathing finally evening out as he tucks his dress shirt back in. Jeongguk wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, grinning at him sheepishly as Jimin softly snorts at him, still shaking his head. “I should take care of you, don’t you think?” Jimin quirks an eyebrow, gaze dropping down to Jeongguk’s crotch.

“No need,” Jeongguk replies happily, helping Jimin smooth out his dress shirt.

“Jeongguk, I want—”

“Another time, okay?” Jeongguk asks and Jimin looks at him, blinking at him for a brief moment before he realizes. Jeongguk’s eyes are wide and hopeful—and he wants to do this again.

Something melts inside of Jimin and he smiles, a warm feeling taking over him.

“Another time, then,” Jimin agrees, heart tightening with fondness when Jeongguk’s grin widens.

It should be awkward, Jimin thinks, but it’s not. The tension between hasn’t dissolved but it’s not uncomfortable, and Jimin is overcome with exhaustion but he feels so, so content. A pleasant buzz runs through his body and Jeongguk’s proximity makes him calm and settled and Jimin—he wants to do this again. He wants to spend time with Jeongguk.

“We’ve made a bit of a mess,” Jeongguk notices, pointing at some of the desserts Jimin’s tipped over on accident, making Jimin’s face flush.

Jimin bites his lips and looks down at his watch, eyes widening at how late it actually is. “The cleaners should be here in a couple of hours.” Then, reluctantly, adds, “We should get going, though. It’s really late.”

Jeongguk seems disappointed with that statement but he doesn’t protest. Instead, he helps Jimin pack up his tablet and a couple of other things and make their way out, Jimin only briefly wondering what the cleaners will think when they see the mess they left behind. Ultimately, Jimin decides he doesn’t care, despite the slight twinge of shame he feels in his gut.

“Well, I guess I’ll—”

“Jeongguk, I’m taking you home,” Jimin says as they near the exit and Jeongguk tentatively glances toward the doors and then looks back at him. “I’m getting us an Uber, a taxi, whatever. I’ll drop you off.”

Jeongguk’s mouth parts in surprise and Jimin can’t help but think how it’s almost as if Jeongguk expects him to freak out and leave. Only, Jimin’s not a teenager and though there are many doubts in his head and he took his time to reach a decision, now that Jimin’s decided to give this a try, he’s in this seriously. For however long of a ride this might be.

“Really? If you’re tired you can just go, and I need to change out of my uniform anyway. I’ll just catch the bus back home, it’s not a big deal.”

Jimin pulls out one of the chairs and sits down, spreading his hands and tilting his eyebrows. “I’m fine waiting, Jeongguk. Take your time.”

He makes it a point to pull his phone out of his coat and order an Uber, smiling to himself as Jeongguk finally leaves to go get changed after a few moments of hesitation. Jimin lifts his chin as he hears the door of the locker room slam shut behind Jeongguk in an otherwise entirely quiet restaurant, and he takes a deep breath, giving himself a moment to process what just happened.

There is not a single ounce of regret settling underneath Jimin’s skin—just content and happiness, his cheeks still slightly warm with the thought of what just happened. Jeongguk had been so eager to please him—enough to not even ask for anything in return despite Jimin being more than willing to give it to him—and it’s something Jimin’s been yearning for without even being aware of it.

Jeongguk comes as a breath of fresh air; he’s blunt and open, yet careful enough to not push Jimin’s boundaries or overstep in any way. It’s something Jimin can appreciate, despite not knowing much about Jeongguk. It just makes Jimin want to uncover things, makes him want to spend time with Jeongguk, listen to him talk about his life, pick up on his mannerisms and figure out how or if they click. And if not—tonight’s been a good night. A fun night. A much needed one, a night that’s been long overdue.

“I’m ready to go.” Jeongguk comes out in his usual attire—ripped jeans and a leather jacket—and if Jimin hadn’t tapped out a short while ago, he’s sure he’d feel a certain way just by looking at him. Jimin never really thought he had a type, until he saw Jeongguk. “You okay to go, hyung?”

“Yeah,” Jimin smiles, grabbing his bag and walking toward the security alarm to make sure it’s turned on before they leave. “The Uber is outside.”

Jeongguk holds the door open for him and Jimin rolls his eyes while walking past him, though deep down, he finds the gesture absolutely adorable and wouldn’t mind getting used to it.

“How are you feeling?” Jeongguk asks quietly as they walk out, his mouth almost pressing to Jimin’s ear as he stands right behind him, startling him. “You good?”

“I’m good.” Jimin turns over his shoulder, smiling comfortingly at Jeongguk. “We’re good.”

Jeongguk’s eyes soften at that, glittering brightly underneath the streetlights. Jimin reaches the Uber first, opening the door and gesturing for Jeongguk to get inside, watching as his cheeks flush prettily.

Jimin slides into the seat next to him, urging Jeongguk to give the driver his address first and leaning back into the comfortable seat. He watches the way Jeongguk chews on his bottom lip and then Jimin does something he hasn’t done to anyone in ages—he takes Jeongguk’s hand into his own.

Jeongguk tilts his eyebrows in surprise but tightens his fingers around Jimin’s, slightly tilting his head to the side. “My contract is up next week,” he says and Jimin’s stomach twists, brows slightly furrowing. He’s sure the information should come as a relief to him but somehow—it doesn’t. “After that, I’m done working.”

Jimin looks at him for a long second, almost letting a giggle escape him as he untangles their fingers and watches Jeongguk’s face fall. He forces himself to sit still and not kiss Jeongguk in the backseat of an Uber like a hormonal teenager.

“In that case,” Jimin says, reaching to take his phone out of his pocket and handing it to Jeongguk, “I’m going to need you to give me your number.”

Jeongguk’s eyes shine so brightly Jimin can barely contain himself.

 

 

In the next week, Jimin doesn’t see Jeongguk nearly as much as he would like; Namjoon gets sick and Jimin is forced to spend time at his other restaurant, though he does make it a point to text Jeongguk and let him know that Jimin’s has been thinking about him. 

Jimin’s been thinking about him whole fucking lot.

Admittedly, they do text as frequently as they can. Jimin has never been a big texter—but talking to Jeongguk, even if it’s just through a few messages during the day—feels good. Makes Jimin feel settled and light, sometimes even suspiciously giggly throughout the day—but thankfully, Namjoon isn’t there to judge him or ask questions.

“I think I’m drunk.” Taehyung’s voice snaps Jimin out of his thoughts, and he watches Taehyung as he frowns, staring at his wine glass intently. He hiccups, pressing the brim of the glass to his lips. “Okay, no. I’m sure I’m drunk.”

Jimin slumps further into the couch, laughing at Taehyung and shaking his head. They’ve been drinking since late afternoon and it’s close to ten o’clock now; Jimin has been tipsy for what already feels like hours, and it feels good to unwind after a hectic week, despite the circumstances under which they’re doing this.

Taehyung had shown up to his doorstep in a sour mood, carrying a few bottles of wine, letting Jimin know that he and his assistant were no longer together.

“Are you feeling a bit better, though?” Jimin asks, reaching for the bottle that’s sitting on the floor between his legs.

Taehyung thinks about it for a moment, then shakes his head. “No,” he sighs. “I’m not.”

Jimin sticks out his bottom lip, staring sympathetically at his friend. He takes a few sips of wine before putting the bottle back down, letting out a breath as Taehyung downs the rest of his drink. Jimin’s phone buzzes next to him and it takes everything inside of him to bite back the smile once he sees Jeongguk’s name pop up on the screen. He decides to ignore it for the time being and flips it screen-down, eyes flicking back to Taehyung.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I thought—he seemed super into you, Taehyungie.”

“And he was—he is,” Taehyung whines, hiccupping again. “But it’s not like I can fault him for not wanting anything serious. He’s in no rush.”

“Neither are you,” Jimin points out.

Taehyung shifts, huffing as he reaches to pour himself more alcohol. He clumsily spills a bit onto his silk shirt, lips twitching in annoyance before he puts the bottle back down. Jimin is thankful he’d brought white wine and not red—otherwise his cream couch and fuzzy carpet would be a mess by now.

“That’s not what I mean,” Taehyung complains. “I don’t want to—I don’t know. I want to be exclusive and I want a partner. I don’t have the will to fuck around anymore, I’ve been doing it for the past twenty years. It gets old.”

Jimin rubs the side of his face, itching to check the message Jeongguk sent him, but he decides to wait just a little a bit longer. He empathizes with Taehyung, though—now that he and Jeongguk are talking, he realizes how easy it is to fall into the desire of wanting something more than just a casual hookup.

“I get that,” says Jimin. “I’m still sorry. You deserve better, Taehyungie.”

Taehyung snorts. He taps his index finger against the wine glass and folds his legs underneath himself, straightening up a bit.

“I’ll be over it by tomorrow.” He shrugs and Jimin lets out a laugh, finally picking up his phone. He opens the messages, this time unable to stop himself from smiling.

Jeongguk [9:42pm]

can’t believe i’m back here and not working weekdays anymore

which means i can’t just see you around or stop by your office

i want to see you again

i know you’ve been really busy but when can i see you again

Jimin bites his lip, warmth flooding his cheeks. Reading the text makes Jimin’s heart flutter and his fingers hover hesitantly over the screen before he types out a reply.

Me [9:44pm]

Tomorrow?

The reply comes in almost instantly.

Jeongguk [9:45pm]

tomorrow then, hyung :)

i gotta go back to work but i can’t wait to see you

“You know what, I’m just gonna flirt with every single decent looking person at the wedding and then I’ll be fine,” Taehyung announces and Jimin lifts his gaze from the screen, putting his phone to the side. “I wasn’t even hung up on this guy, I just thought he was cute. Hey—since when do you text?”

Jimin glares at him. “I text.”

Taehyung makes a noise of disagreement, shaking his head. “No, you don’t. I don’t remember the last time you’ve texted me. You always call.”

“Because it’s easier than to type out a message.” Taehyung tilts his eyebrows. “Okay, maybe you have a point. But I do text, just not you.”

Taehyung snorts. “Okay, so who’s the non-me that’s got you smiling like that while I’m over here all devastated and miserable, huh?”

“Jeongguk,” Jimin replies, cheeks slightly flushing. “That guy I was telling you about a few weeks ago.”

Taehyung knits his eyebrows, thinking. It takes a few moments for him to recall his and Jimin’s conversation but once he does, his eyes widen in surprise. “Oh. Wait. You two are texting now? Is he still working for you?”

“He’s not.” Jimin shakes his head and Taehyung hiccups in response. “He got the last of his hours done this week.”

“So, what’s the deal with you two, then? Did you talk to him?”

“He kind of ate me out in the VIP dining area a week or so ago,” says Jimin and Taehyung chokes on his wine, wiping it away with the sleeve of his shirt as it dribbles down his chin. “While no one else was at the restaurant, obviously. So, we’ve been talking ever since. I like him, Taehyung.”

“Holy shit. That’s so fucking hot, what the fuck? I wanna fuck at work. Is he any good?”

Jimin snorts. “Fuckin’ excellent.”

“God, I figured he would be,” Taehyung says with a sigh. “The young ones usually are, especially if they tend to like older men.”

“I’m not older men, you fucking asshole,” Jimin whines, taking a pillow and hurling it at Taehyung. It makes Taehyung jolt and he spills more wine onto his shirt, clicking his tongue in annoyance.

“Look at what you’ve done,” Taehyung mumbles, tipping his head back and taking a large gulp of his drink. He doesn’t look particularly bothered, though, rather just scrunches his nose as he looks down at his clothes and waves a dismissive hand. “Whatever. You’re fifteen years older than him. You’re practically the elderly.”

Jimin covers his face with his hands, reaching to jam his toes into Taehyung’s thigh. “Stop saying that. Why are you saying that? You’re the one who encouraged me to go for him in the first place.”

“I’m lonely and bitter now, Jimin,” says Taehyung, tapping his index finger against his temple. “Let me complain about something. All jokes aside—do you like him?”

Jimin nods. “I do.” His cheeks heat up at the confession. “Never realized I had a type until I met him.”

“Jimin-ah, you like like him.”

“There’s no such thing as like like. How old are you, twelve?” Jimin scoffs, rolling his eyes. “He’s just—yeah. I’m really into him, Taehyung. I’m almost a little frustrated he won’t be around the restaurant anymore, despite the fact that I’m going to see him like, tomorrow.”

“Maybe you can hire him full time,” Taehyung suggests.

“He already has a job,” Jimin explains, drinking more of his wine. “The only position I have open part time is dish washing, which I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to be doing. He has classes during the week.”

Taehyung snorts. “Lame. What does he do?”

“He works at Burger King on the weekends.”

Taehyung’s eyes widen and another loud hiccup escapes him as he straightens up in his seat. “Burger King? Oh my god. Burger King. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had Burger King?”

“I’m pretty sure I haven’t had it since college,” Jimin laughs, running his fingers through his hair. He feels light and happy, and maybe craving Burger King just a little bit.

“Fuck, I’m so hungry right now. Are you hungry?”

“No,” Jimin replies, wetting his lips. “But we can order something to eat.”

Taehyung huffs, clicking his tongue in annoyance. “I want Burger King. Man, I could really eat some fries. Can we please go to Burger King?”

“Burger King. Really?” Jimin laughs in disbelief, shaking his head. “Of all places we can get food from right now, you want to go to Burger King. You’re drunk, Taehyung, not stoned.”

“I’m so tired of eating at fancy restaurants, Jimin,” says Taehyung dramatically, clumsily getting up from the couch. “I want fast food. Come on.” He walks over to Jimin, offering his hand to help him up. “We’re going to Burger King. I want food and I want to meet Jeongguk.”

“Absolutely not, we can’t just go there,” Jimin gasps, smacking Taehyung’s hand away. “That would be so…inappropriate.”

Taehyung furrows his brow, sticking his bottom lip out. “Inappropriate how? I just want food.”

“We can get food—”

“I also want to meet Jeongguk, so I’m going to do just that. Is he working?”

Jimin pauses, sighing. “Yes. He’s working.”

“Do you know which Burger King he works at?”

Jimin thinks for a brief moment before answering. “Yeah,” he finally says. “I do.”

“Then come on, let’s go. I’ve had a bad day; I’m drunk and hungry, and judging by the look on your face while you were texting him, it’s safe to say you wanna see this kid.”

Jimin blushes, stomach fluttering with nerves—mostly because he knows Taehyung is right. He does want to see Jeongguk and he’s drunk enough to give in because Taehyung has always been persuasive, to the point where Jimin had difficulties denying him anything.

Maybe it’s the wine that’s hit him a little too hard, encouraging him to just do whatever he feels like doing, but he definitely feels like seeing Jeongguk, even if it’s just for a bit, and the more he thinks about it, the less of a bad idea it seems. Once Jimin sets his mind to something—he has no problem going for it and this time around, his mind is dead set on Jeongguk.

“Fine,” says Jimin, taking Taehyung’s hand and allowing him to drag him up. “But I need to change out of these clothes.” He stares down at his sweatpants, wrinkling his nose. “I look disgusting.”

Taehyung lets out a victory hum as Jimin walks toward the bathroom, shaking his head and running his fingers through his hair.

Jimin is quick to get ready and look at least somewhat presentable; he puts a bit of foundation on to conceal the wine-induced redness and dewiness of his skin, and he’s thankful he washed his hair that morning. Aside from being a little drunk and his eyes being somewhat unfocused, Jimin cleans up well.

Before they know it, they’re cramped up in the back of a taxi, Taehyung drunkenly going off on one of his employees who’d messed up one of the fabric orders she’d been in charge of. Jimin doesn’t bother trying to take Taehyung’s phone away; it’s entertaining to listen to him struggling to sound professional while he’s drunk and seething, and it helps divert attention from how hard his heart is beating against his ribs as they get closer to Jeongguk’s workplace.

Admittedly, Jimin hasn’t thought this through, but he doesn’t think—or at least he hopes—Jeongguk isn’t going to mind. Besides, they’re not going to disturb him, they’re only going there to eat and for Jimin to see Jeongguk because maybe—he can’t wait until tomorrow. Or he can, but he doesn’t want to. The wine’s got him feeling a little bold, but he thinks Jeongguk’s going to appreciate him taking the initiative this time around.

Jimin’s heart travels up to his throat as he and Taehyung get out of the taxi and stand in front of Burger King, staring up at the bright neon sign. He wishes he had more time to collect himself before Taehyung tugged him by the sleeve of his coat, pushing the heavy glass doors and walking inside. Jimin has no choice but to follow; he’s hit with a wave of hot air that’s blowing from the heater, and he isn’t sure if he’s relieved or even more nervous about the entire place being mostly empty.

He spots Jeongguk immediately, throat tightening as he looks at him. Jeongguk is leaned over the cash register, dark hair falling into his eyes and bottom lip bitten between his teeth. He gives change to the girl behind the counter and smiles politely at her, his eyes glittering prettily even underneath the cheap neon lights. Another guy comes up behind Jeongguk and hands her the tray with her order, but Jimin’s eyes stay glued to Jeongguk even after she walks away.

Even in that ugly Burger King uniform, Jeongguk somehow manages to look good. Jimin’s pulse quickens as he walks behind Taehyung to the cash register, lips curling into a smile even before his eyes meet Jeongguk’s.

“Welcome to B—hyung?” Jeongguk looks stunned, eyes widening when they meet Jimin’s. His mouth hangs open and he confusedly blinks a few times before his expression morphs into something softer, eyes crinkling as he smiles wide at him. “This is a surprise.”

“A good one, I hope,” says Jimin, ignoring Taehyung’s intrusive eyes on them.

“The best,” Jeongguk hums, gaze sliding toward Taehyung. There’s an immediate flick of recognition in Jeongguk’s eyes and he quickly bows to him, grin fading into a polite smile. “You must be Kim Taehyung. I’m Jeon Jeongguk.”

“Nice to meet you, Jeongguk-ssi,” says Taehyung, bowing back. “Heard a lot about you.”

“Good things, I hope,” Jeongguk says, quickly throwing Jimin a look.

“The best.” Taehyung winks at him and Jimin shakes his head, impressed at Taehyung’s ability to compose himself and be charming even after a couple bottles of wine. Taehyung is a sloppy drunk but when it comes to wooing people, no amount of alcohol can get in the way of that, and it’s a quality Jimin had always been a little jealous of.

“Oh, I see Jeongguk wasn’t lying when he’d said the owner of Le Manoir actually does like him back,” says the guy Jimin had spotted moments ago.

He’d never seen him before but somehow, he figures it must be the hyung Jeongguk had mentioned before. His dark red hair is swept away from his forehead to reveal a set of strong eyebrows, narrow eyes and gaze so cunning it makes Jimin immediately look into Taehyung’s direction. The reaction is there—just like Jimin had predicted; Taehyung has forgotten all about Jeongguk and is staring at the guy in front of them, Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallows heavily. Taehyung has always been a sucker for faces like that, sweet and fierce at once, and despite being in a terrible mood earlier, Jimin is relieved Taehyung’s not hurt enough to ignore it.

“Min Yoongi,” the guy says, holding his hand out over the counter. Jimin immediately takes it, tightening his grip around it. He can’t help the smirk that tugs at the corner of his lips; much like Jeongguk, this kid seems bold, despite looking a few years older.

“Park Jimin. This is Kim Taehyung,” Jimin says, waving his hand into Taehyung’s direction.

“So, what can we get you guys?” Jeongguk asks, more so Jimin than anyone else.

Jimin’s heart flutters the entire time he and Taehyung place their orders, and Jimin isn’t drunk enough to reach over the counter and pull Jeongguk in for a kiss, but he wishes he were.

“Hyung.” Jeongguk reaches to grab him by the wrist before Jimin walks away to sit with Taehyung, making his stomach swoop.

“Yeah?” Jimin smiles at him, quirking an eyebrow in question.

“I’m not going to bother you and your friend while you eat, but you are going to stop by before you go, right?”

“You got it,” Jimin says, squeezing his hand for a brief moment before letting go and walking away.

Taehyung has already begun eating when Jimin joins him at the table, appreciating the fact he’d chosen a secluded table at the back of the restaurant. Jimin isn’t sure he’d be able to focus on anything other than staring at Jeongguk and despite it being something he really wants to do, he’d still like to eat something and not look like an absolute idiot, too.

“What do you think?” he asks, grabbing his burger to take a bite. “Of Jeongguk, I mean.”

“I was a little too busy staring at the other guy, if I’m being totally honest,” says Taehyung, shoving fries into his mouth. “Who is he? He’s fucking gorgeous, Jimin, have you seen him? I need his number.”

“I think that’s Jeongguk’s hyung—the one who’s very anti-rich. The one whose idea it was to come to my restaurant and eat for free.”

Taehyung snorts, shaking his head. “God, that’s so hot. Anti-rich people, huh? I’d let him hatefuck me. Fuck all my money out of me. God, have you seen—”

“Hey, focus,” Jimin snaps his fingers in front of Taehyung’s face, letting out a sigh. “Jeongguk. What do you think?”

Taehyung pauses, sweeping his silver hair away from his forehead. “He looks at you like you’re the only person in the room. He’d barely acknowledged me—and even when he did—he did it to be polite. It’s obvious he’s into you from a mile away, and we’ve only spoken for a few minutes. Not to mention he’s gorgeous. And, he’s ripped. Like, holy shit.”

“You think?” Jimin muses, content blooming inside of his chest at Taehyung’s words. Taehyung wouldn’t lie to him and he’s observant even when he’s drunk—if there’d been anything even slightly off in Jeongguk’s demeanor, Taehyung would have picked up on it. “I’m terrified of the way he makes me feel.”

Taehyung hums with his mouth full, nodding his head. “I get that,” he says, swallowing down the food. “You know what the best way to get over that fear is?”

“What?”

“Exposure. The more time you spend with him, the less scared you’ll be.”

Jimin smiles. “You’re a smart drunk, you know that?”

“Oh, I know,” Taehyung says, wiping the burger sauce from his chin. “I’m serious, though. I know you feel a strong pull toward him and that you’ve not felt that in a long time, but the kid seems very much into you. You look a lot more reserved than he does—so just spend time with him and see how things go. Have you asked him to be your date for the wedding?”

Jimin’s face falls. “Shit, I forgot about that.”

Taehyung tilts his head back and laughs, crossing his legs under the table and accidentally kicking Jimin in the shin. “Whoops. So, you haven’t. Fuck are you waiting for?”

Jimin isn’t entirely sure. He’d been so lost in thinking about Jeongguk and seeing him again that the wedding had slipped his mind. Jimin isn’t exactly known for bringing people to events with him—his date had always been Taehyung.

If he and Jeongguk are going to explore things, Jimin can’t deny that Taehyung has a point; the more time they spend together the easier it will be for Jimin to process all of this, and there’ll be less room to overthink. He and Jeongguk are nowhere near dating or being exclusive, but Jimin doesn’t have the patience to wonder and guess how Jeongguk would fit into his life, into his surroundings, his routine—he wants to know if things are worth pursuing further as soon as possible. He should know. Asking Jeongguk to accompany him to the wedding would be a step in the right direction. There’s an obvious age gap that isn’t exactly small, and Jimin wants to know how Jeongguk can blend into his world.

“I’ll ask him before we go. He told me to stop by before we leave.”

Taehyung finishes his food and breathes out in relief, smoothing his hands down his stomach. “I’m sleepy,” he announces, making Jimin laugh. “And I want a milkshake.”

“You want to go home?” Jimin asks, immediately pulling his phone out when Taehyung nods his head, fingers hovering over the Uber application. “Want me to get you an Uber or hail you a taxi?”

“I can get myself an Uber, you fool,” says Taehyung, gesturing for Jimin to put his phone away. “Before I do that, I think I’m going to ask that Yoongi guy for his number.”

“Taehyung. You’re drunk.”

“Exactly. So, I won’t care if he rejects me or if he’s not into guys or whatever. I can just leave and get myself a milkshake, contemplate my existence in the shower and pass out. Tomorrow’s a new day, it’ll be like it never happened.”

With that, Taehyung gets up, dusting off the crumbs from his silk shirt, tying the belt of his trench coat. He sweeps his silver hair out of his eyes, looking at his reflection somewhere above Jimin.

“How do I look?”

Jimin looks at him, chewing on a fry like he’s got all the time in the world. “Like a very well put-together drunk.”

Taehyung grins at him, eyes slightly unfocused, but glittering with intent. “Excellent, that’s what I was going for. Okay. I’m gonna ask that guy for his number, and then I’m getting the fuck out of here and letting you and your boyfriend suck each other’s faces off.”

Jimin’s cheeks flush, tingles running down his spine. “He’s not my boyfriend.”

“Yet,” Taehyung says knowingly, collecting his wallet and phone from the table, getting ready to leave. “Don’t forget to ask him about the wedding. And call me when you get up in the morning.”

Jimin waves him off and focuses on finishing his meal, nerves kicking in again once he’s left alone. It hasn’t been long since his birthday passed but Jimin feels more eighteen than thirty-eight in this moment, and his heart is still beating too fast for his liking. He takes his time eating, wanting to buy himself as much time as he can before he goes and faces Jeongguk. The wine in his system doesn’t really help calm him down much; if anything, Jimin feels quite sober, the most of his buzz went away with all the greasy food he’d just consumed.

“Your friend just left.” Jimin’s eyes snap upward to find Jeongguk standing in front of him, smiling down at him. “Figured you’d be here.”

“I was just finishing up,” says Jimin, cheeks flushing a bright shade of pink. “I was going to come get you in a second.”

“Beat you to it, then.” Jeongguk grins, holding his hand out for Jimin to take it. Almost hesitantly—Jimin does—throwing his napkin onto the tray and grabbing Jeongguk’s hand. Jeongguk collects the tray as he pulls Jimin somewhere toward the back of the restaurant, disposing the remains into the trashcan as they pass it by. “Let’s go to the back, I need to grab my jacket. Yoongi hyung is going to cover for me, we have about twenty minutes before I have to go back to work.”

“Not a busy night tonight, hm?” Jimin asks, hand still in Jeongguk’s, even as he takes his jacket and tugs him toward the back exit.

“Not quite,” Jeongguk replies, holding the door for Jimin to walk out into something that Jimin would possibly call a courtyard—if the open area’s purpose wasn’t trash disposal. “This place doesn’t exactly get busy. Maybe on Friday nights, but I rarely work Friday’s.”

Jeongguk stops, letting go of Jimin's hand so he could put his jacket on. Jimin slides his hands into the pockets of his coat, a slight shiver rippling through his body as he’s hit with the cold. Jeongguk still curls his fingers around his forearm and takes a step closer, letting Jimin gently lean against the brick wall behind him.

“Is that Yoongi guy the hyung you were telling me about?” Jimin asks and Jeongguk nods, smile widening.

“He is.”

“Taehyung’s got his eye on him. Let me apologize to your friend for that later. We’ve been drinking quite a bit today.”

Jeongguk snorts, letting out a giggle as he tightens his grip around Jimin, making tingles run down his spine. He’s close enough to kiss Jimin, but he doesn’t—and Jimin doesn’t mind. He appreciates the closeness itself, the proximity, and the nerves within him settle just a little bit.

“There’s no need for that, Yoongi hyung gave him his number.” Jimin’s mouth hangs open and he blinks up at Jeongguk.

“Wait, for real?”

Not that Taehyung is unattractive by any means, Jimin just figured he wasn’t exactly being serious. Or—he hadn’t expected Jeongguk’s hyung to actually be interested, for whatever reason. Mostly because of his fuck you rich people agenda he’d heard about.

“For real.” Jeongguk nods, eyes glittering brightly even in the dim lights coming from the inside. “Yoongi hyung came over to introduce himself because he wanted to take a better look at your friend, not because he wanted to meet you, no offense.”

Jimin laughs at that. “None taken. I’m sorry if it’s weird,” he says, shrugging.

“If what is weird?”

“My best friend coming onto your hyung while we’re trying to date,” Jimin says, immediately regretting the words as they come out. “I mean—not like that.”

Jeongguk beams, eyes crinkling as he leans into Jimin’s space. “You trying to date me, hyung?” he teases, cocking an eyebrow.

Jimin scoffs, softly swatting at Jeongguk’s chest. “You know what I meant.”

“Do I?” Jeongguk wiggles his eyebrows and Jimin finds it so stupidly endearing he could melt right then and there. The wine didn’t make him any less nervous but it sure did make his tongue a lot looser.

“I’m not trying to date you. I’m trying to ask you to be my date for this wedding Taehyung and I have to attend next week.” Jimin does his best to brush his comments off, still feeling slightly uncomfortable. “What do you think? You up for keeping me company? Though I have to warn you, you’ll need a tux.”

“I own a tux,” Jeongguk says, his hands traveling up Jimin’s arms and settling on his shoulders, making him shiver. “A wedding, huh? I hate weddings.”

Jimin smiles up at him, taking his hands out of his pockets, placing them on Jeongguk’s waist and pulling him even closer, until their bodies are almost entirely pressed together. “Me too. That’s why I want you there with me.”

“The things I’m willing to do,” Jeongguk sighs dramatically, but the glint in his eyes tells Jimin he’s more than eager to go. It’s flattering and it makes warmth settle underneath Jimin’s skin and make his cheeks flush a bright shade of red. “You’ll have a hot date, you’re so lucky. I look really good in a suit.”

“Oh, I bet you do,” Jimin laughs, tugging at Jeongguk’s jacket and titling his chin up. Jeongguk immediately pushes forward, pressing their lips together as his cold hands slide up Jimin’s neck, making Jimin’s skin break out into goosebumps.

He links his arms around Jeongguk’s waist, pulling him as close as he can and sighing into the kiss, letting himself melt into Jeongguk’s touch. Jeongguk smiles into the kiss, gently nips at Jimin’s bottom lip, fingertips drawing soothing circles into the skin of his neck as he kisses Jimin deep and slow. 

Jimin feels like he can’t stop shivering—not because of the cold—but because of how deliberately Jeongguk kisses him. How electrifying his touch is, how it makes Jimin want to burst with content.

“You’re so gorgeous, hyung.” Jeongguk takes his face between his hands, kissing the corner of his mouth before slightly pulling away. He brushes his thumbs over Jimin’s cheekbones, then leans in to kiss him again. And again. And again.

Jimin is dizzy, kissing him back with as much force he can muster, knees feeling weak as he grips tighter at Jeongguk’s waist. He’s leaned up against the wall, Jeongguk’s hands all over him, feeling scorching hot despite all the layers of clothes between them.

For a moment, Jimin feels like he’s in college all over again. Not in a bad way—at all— it’s just that he’s more kiss-drunk than drunk on wine, his head is spinning with how good Jeongguk tastes, his heart is hammering against the inside of his chest, stomach swirling with butterflies. He’s somehow both hyperaware and hazy at the same time. It reminds Jimin of the drunken nights he and his friends would spend at parties, then go down to the Han river and stay up until the sunrise, drinking and laughing and just having fun.

That’s how Jeongguk makes Jimin feel, just by being close.

“You’re a really good kisser, you know that?” Jimin asks, pulling away and looking up at Jeongguk.

His lips are red, spit-slicked and swollen, eyelashes fluttering prettily as he blinks down at Jimin. “You think so?”

“Like you’ve not been told before.” Jimin rolls his eyes, pulling Jeongguk down for another kiss.

“Maybe I have,” Jeongguk says sheepishly, kissing Jimin’s cheek. “But it’s different when you say it.”

Jimin narrows his eyes. “Yeah? Why’s that?”

“Because I want you to say it.” Jeongguk explains, making Jimin’s heart skip a beat. “Same way I want to see you. I want to kiss you. I want to go to that wedding with you. I want you.”

“Jesus fuck, Jeongguk,” Jimin’s says, shaking his head in disbelief. “Stop saying shit like that.”

“Why?” Jeongguk asks innocently, ducking his head and dragging the tip of his nose against Jimin’s jawline, then pressing a kiss right underneath his ear, making him shiver. “You don’t like it when I say that?”

“It’s not—”

“I think you like it a little too much,” he interrupts, making the words die out on Jimin’s tongue. “God, you’re so cute.”

“Cute,” Jimin snorts, tangling his fingers in Jeongguk’s hair. “That’s offensive.”

“Cute,” Jeongguk repeats, kissing him. “Gorgeous. Hot as fuck.”

Jimin laughs, shaking his head and pulling Jeongguk back down. “That’s more like it,” he mutters against his lips, taking Jeongguk’s bottom lip between his teeth.

Jeongguk grins, kissing him hard and deep, so languid, like they have all the time in the world. Soon enough, though, Jeongguk is pulling away with a whine, sticking out his bottom lip like a child being denied something by their parents.

“I have to go back to work,” he says reluctantly, resting his head on Jimin’s shoulder. “I have a couple more hours until I’m done. I’d tell you to wait up for me, but it’s too long and it’s really late.”

Jimin sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Yeah, no. I have to get up and do some shopping tomorrow. I’m happy I stopped by. Sorry for just showing up out of nowhere, though. I should have texted you.”

“Show up whenever you want. I’ve been dying to see you after we—yeah.” Jeongguk’s face visibly flushes even in the dark, and Jimin laughs softly, tugging him toward the door. “We’re still on for tomorrow though, right?” Jimin nods. “I’m done by two. I’m free for the rest of the night and the afternoon. Anything specific you wanna do?”

Jimin looks over his shoulder, stomach swooping as he looks up at Jeongguk. He grins, eyes darkening as he looks back at him. “I know exactly what I wanna do.”

 

 

“I can’t believe Taehyung decided to bolt,” Jimin says, opening the door to his apartment to find Jeongguk standing there, hair parted and exposing his forehead, waves loose and his tux fitting so well, Jimin’s jaw drops. This guy is going to be the death of him. “Holy shit.”

“Hi, hyung,” Jeongguk says, beaming. “Is it okay if I come in?”

“Stop acting like you’ve not been here for the past three days,” Jimin mutters, cheeks heating up. “Come in. I have to get the gift, but other than that, I’m ready to go.”

Jeongguk stays in the hallway while Jimin goes back into the living room, ignoring the appreciative whistle Jeongguk lets out under his breath as he walks away.

They’ve managed to see each other four times this week, and Jimin had only felt slightly guilty that it was always Jeongguk making the trip to his place. Both of them were always  busy during the day and Jimin is often the one working until late—and so Jeongguk has been coming over once Jimin gets home.

Admittedly, Jimin would feel a lot guiltier if the sex hadn’t been so fucking great. Jeongguk has too much stamina for his own good, and Jimin’s legs and lower back felt sorer than ever and yet—he’s also never felt better. The stress of opening a new restaurant, picking out designs and slowly starting to put together a menu and hiring staff has barely been there as Jimin has had something to look forward to at the end of each day. He had Jeongguk to look forward to.

Now, standing in the middle of his hallway in broad daylight and a tux that makes Jimin want to salivate, Jeongguk looks like a dream. Jimin doesn’t want to be superficial, but he can’t help admiring the obvious. He can’t help how attracted he is to Jeongguk, how heat twists at the base of his stomach every time Jimin looks at him.

Still, Jeongguk continues to surprise him. He’s open and honest with all of his cards laid out on the table.Jimin would be lying if he said all of his concerns magically disappeared, because he’s still slightly wary, but his guard has lowered ever since they started sleeping together and he’d let Jeongguk into his home. Conversely, Jimin holds his cards close to his chest, but Jeongguk doesn’t seem to mind. He’s patient and understanding, and despite his bluntness and openness, he still manages to let Jimin have his space to grow more comfortable with him and Jimin—he appreciates that.

“Done,” Jimin announces, returning to the hallway and shoving the nicely wrapped box into Jeongguk’s arms. “I’m ready to go if you are.”

“Not even gonna kiss me hello, hyung?” Jeongguk asks as Jimin grabs his wallet and holds the door open for him.

Jimin rolls his eyes when Jeongguk snickers while leaving the apartment, gently kicking Jeongguk’s calf but making sure he doesn’t mess up his tux.

“Get out,” he says fondly, shaking his head when Jeongguk leans in and presses a sloppy kiss to his cheek as they stand together, waiting for the elevator to arrive.

Jimin had deemed it best to skip the whole church ceremony and go straight for the wedding reception—that’s usually what he and Taehyung would do, unless they were close to the couple. Only this time around, Taehyung had mysteriously backed out last minute, letting Jimin know he’d come down with something. Jimin’s known Taehyung long enough to not buy a single word of that poorly thought out excuse.

The car is waiting for them as they step out of the building, and they wordlessly get in—Jeongguk holding the door open for Jimin before slipping in after him.

“Can’t believe Taehyung ditched us like this,” Jimin sighs as he stares out the window of their Uber, eyes flicking toward Jeongguk when he lets out a chuckle. “What’s so funny? Taehyung is a blast at parties, we’re going to be bored out of our minds without him.”

“I’m just laughing because your friend ditched us because of Yoongi hyung,” Jeongguk laughs and Jimin straightens up in his seat, eyes widening.

“What the fuck? How do you know that and I get the fake ass coming down with something story?”

Jeongguk laughs again, reaching to massage the nape of Jimin’s neck. “Yoongi let it slip this morning when I called him. I think they’re having fun, so let them be.” He then leans into Jimin’s ear, his breath hot and making Jimin’s breath hitch in his throat. “And I’m sure you and I will find something to do to make sure we’re not bored. I can be a blast at parties too, hyung.”

With that, Jeongguk pulls back and Jimin can no longer feel his fingers on his skin. Jeongguk smiles at him, eyes dark and gleaming while Jimin’s left with his heart racing, squirming in his seat as he struggles to catch his breath and keep his cool.

A couple of hours later and Jimin has to admit, Jeongguk is a fun date. They mostly keep to themselves, aside from congratulating the couple and having a few more people come talk to them. Jimin hadn’t considered that he’d be put on a spot and that some of his acquaintances will actually flat out ask if Jeongguk is his boyfriend—but Jimin is a people person and he’s quick to dismiss them and divert the conversation into a different direction. Jeongguk seems to stiffen beside him every time someone asks the question, though he remains polite and goes with whatever Jimin is saying—which is the truth. Jeongguk is not his boyfriend, he’s just his date.

For now. 

Jimin doesn’t want to think too far ahead and get carried away. He’s going to enjoy himself with Jeongguk by his side.

They don’t drink much—Jeongguk sticks mostly to beer and Jimin has a glass of wine, but Jeongguk’s company is enough to make him have a good time. Jeongguk is funny and smart and he gets Jimin and his humor, teases him just enough to keep him on his toes but doesn’t overstep. Jimin likes the way Jeongguk’s hand stays placed on the low of his back at all times, something about the gesture making him feel both secure and wanted. Like Jeongguk wants to make sure everyone in the room knows they arrived together.

Jimin thinks bringing Jeongguk here is the best decision he could have made. He doesn’t even feel Taehyung’s absence; Jeongguk is more than enough to fill in anyone’s shoes. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Jimin thinks Jeongguk might be enough to fill any void, too.

A few hours in, Jimin can’t quite say he’s bored—the party is good, the food is excellent and there’s plenty of alcohol to go around—but he’s getting a little jittery. Almost everyone around them is drunk and having the best time; to Jimin’s surprise, the music is really good and mostly everyone is dancing, he and Jeongguk are talking and laughing to themselves, but as time passes, Jeongguk gets closer, gets touchier, kisses Jimin more often, leans into his space every chance he gets.

Jimin’s hand is resting on his upper thigh, moving closer to the inseam of his trousers every time Jeongguk shifts to get closer to him. It’s too hot and Jimin’s dress shirt is clinging onto him and maybe there’s just too many sweaty drunks around them, but every single time Jeongguk touches him heat twists inside of his stomach, and Jimin wants to jump out of his own skin.

“Keep doing that and we’re gonna have to have a problem,” Jeongguk presses his lips to Jimin’s ear, sending chills down his spine. Jimin straightens up in his seat, nails jamming into Jeongguk’s inner thigh. This has been a problem for about an hour now, and Jimin can’t take it anymore.

They can’t even leave—it’d be inappropriate to go just yet, especially when the bride has made Jimin promise they’ll stay until she makes her rounds and manages to properly talk to them both.

“You’re the one causing problems here,” Jimin mutters, huffing out a breath. He takes a sip of his sparkling water in hopes it will help cool him down, but it doesn’t. Jeongguk is too close, snickering into his ear, and Jimin feels himself getting a semi just with the proximity.

“Then I should be the one to solve them, no?”

Jimin almost chokes on his water, puts the glass back onto the table and looks up at Jeongguk, cocking an eyebrow.

“And how are you going to do that, Jeongguk? I promised we won’t leave just yet.” Jimin licks his lips, mouth slightly parting as he watches Jeongguk’s eyes darken.

“Nobody said anything about leaving,” Jeongguk says, giving him a knowing look. Jimin’s eyes widen, breath hitching in his throat.

“No,” he immediately replies, breathless. “We can’t do that.”

Jimin means everything but no. His heart is already pounding despite not giving Jeongguk the green light yet, but—god. Jeongguk will be the death of him. He’s staring at Jimin with smoldering eyes, so much lust built up in them that Jimin’s blood pressure skyrockets. He’s had sex at weddings a ton of times, especially when he and Taehyung were younger and would attend them almost twice a month, but Jimin hasn’t done that in years. Possibly since his late twenties.

Just thinking about it gives him a rush of adrenaline, but he’s not—he’s not against it. Fuck, maybe Jimin should live a little.

“Why not?” Jeongguk questions, though it’s clear he’d read Jimin’s silence exactly for what it is.

“Fuck—Jeongguk, you’re gonna be the death of me, do you realize that?” Jimin breathes out, running his fingers through his hair. “I’m not having sex in the bathroom, though. It’s gonna be full of gross, sweaty looking men and wait—we don’t even have lube—”

“Relax, I had something else in mind, anyway.” Jeongguk grins, tilting his eyebrows. Jimin feels like he’s about to explode. “And don’t worry. You’re still loose from last night so you’ll be good to go, and I’ve brought lube.”

Jimin’s eyes widen. “You did what?”

Jeongguk shrugs innocently, leaning to kiss the corner of Jimin’s mouth. “Dunno, figured it wouldn’t hurt to bring it. Turns out I was right.”

Jimin looks around. “Where the fuck are we gonna go?”

Jeongguk stands up, holding his hand out. There’s a cocky smirk plastered across his face and it’s such a turn on that Jimin could possibly jump him right then and there, and by the way things are going—he will. “Do you trust me, hyung?”

“Absolutely not,” Jimin says breathlessly, taking Jeongguk’s hand and getting up from his seat.

He lets Jeongguk drag him toward the exit, and it doesn’t take him very long to figure out what it is that Jeongguk’s had in mind and frankly—it’s genius. The venue hallways are empty aside from people smoking in the courtyard, but all the corridors leading to the exit are bare, meaning that if this works, they’ll be safe from intrusive eyes, at least for the most part.

They get to the coat check and there are two girls sitting behind the big counter, and Jimin’s heart travels all the way up to his throat. He pushes Jeongguk to the side, leaning up against the counter as the two girls look up at him, their gazes immediately softening when they meet his.

“Hi,” Jimin says, flashing them one of his best smiles. “A slow evening, huh?”

They look at each other, then up at Jeongguk, their eyes widening even further. The vain side of Jimin fills with content—they look good. Admittedly, these girls probably think the two of them are here to pick them up, but Jimin thinks they’ll be happy with what he has to offer regardless.

“Very slow,” one of them says and Jimin hums in response, not really listening. All he can think about is getting Jeongguk to bend him over behind one of those coat racks and fuck him deep and fast, just to get the edge off. “We’ve been stuck here all day, we’re starving, too.”

The other girl nods vigorously, lips twitching downward into a pout. She’s got her eyes set on Jeongguk and the twinge of jealousy in Jimin’s stomach comes as a welcomed surprise. Jimin isn’t a jealous person, hasn’t felt jealousy in what feels like years and yet right now—it’s there. It’s there and it almost makes him want to laugh.

“You poor things,” he mutters sympathetically, letting out a sigh. He reaches for the inner pocket of his blazer, taking his wallet out. Luckily—he’s got cash on him, which isn’t exactly a frequent occurrence, but it makes relief flood through him. He takes two fifty thousand won bills and offers them to the girls, watching as their expressions morph into confusion. “Why don’t you take these and grab yourselves something to eat? Take a break. My friend here and I can watch the coat check for you guys.”

The girls look at each other, visibly confused. Jimin sighs, rolling his eyes. He takes another fifty thousand won bills and slides them over the counter, adding, “you can come back in thirty minutes. Take your dinner break, girls.”

The surprise on Jeongguk’s face is evident when the girls quickly take the money and bolt, and Jimin takes his hand and tugs him into the coat check room, making sure to pull the curtains over the counter to signal that whoever is working the coat check now is on a break.

“That was hot,” Jeongguk says and Jimin shushes him by pressing their lips together, sliding his suit jacket down his shoulders. “Hyung, you’re so hot.”

“Stop talking,” Jimin mutters, pulling Jeongguk closer, pressing his crotch against Jeongguk’s cock. He laughs into the kiss when he realizes Jeongguk is already hard, heat coiling at the base of his stomach because of how good that sole fact makes him feel.

Jeongguk smiles against his lips, pulling Jimin’s dress shirt out of his pants and unbuckling his belt, pulling the zipper of his pants down and running his palm over Jimin’s cock through the underwear. It’s electrifying; Jimin’s brain short circuits and he lets Jeongguk slam him into a wall and bury his face into the crook of Jimin’s neck, nearly tipping over one of the racks and making them fall down.

Jeongguk leaves kisses down his throat, hand slipping into Jimin’s underwear and curling around his cock, thumb running over the head. It makes the hair on Jimin’s nape stand and he breathes out, trying to be as quiet as possible, but failing. Even though they’re in the corner of the coat check, if anyone were to pull the curtain from the counter and take a peek, it would be easy to spot them—but Jimin doesn’t care. Jeongguk’s hand around him feels so good, and Jimin doesn’t want him to stop.

“What do you want hyung?” Jeongguk mumbles against his neck, kissing the dip right above Jimin’s collarbones, tightening his grip around Jimin’s cock. “What do you want me to do? Want me to get you off with my mouth? My hand? Tell me what you want.”

“You’re gonna have to fuck me, handsome,” Jimin says, tangling his fingers in Jeongguk’s hair and tugging on it so he could face him. “Make us both come, yeah?”

Jeongguk’s eyes darken, teeth sinking into his already bitten lip. He takes his hand out of Jimin’s underwear, grabs him by the waist and turns him around, pressing Jimin’s front to a wall instead. 

Jimin gasps, lips curling into a smile as he looks over his shoulder and watches Jeongguk slide his underwear down, then fumbles with the buckle of his own belt, making Jimin swallow heavily. Before he knows it, Jeongguk is pressing him further into the wall, nipping at the skin of his neck while he takes the lube from the inner pocket of his tux and squirts some onto his hand, slicking up his cock before he slips it between Jimin’s asscheeks.

Jimin gasps for air but Jeongguk doesn’t push inside right away. He circles the head around Jimin’s rim, slicking it up and making a shiver rip through Jimin, gently biting into his shoulder as he does so. Jimin tilts his head back and leans it against Jeongguk, letting out a muffled moan as Jeongguk continues teasing him. He presses his palms firmly against the wall to keep balance as Jeongguk breathes down his neck, leaving wet kisses all over. Jimin pushes his ass further back, swallowing down a gasp.

He doesn’t remember the last time he didn’t need prep before having sex but he and Jeongguk have been doing it so often these past few days that this comes almost as a relief, because Jimin doesn’t want to wait—he wants it hard, he wants it fast, and he wants it now.

“Jeongguk, we don’t have much time,” Jimin warns as Jeongguk huffs out a laugh in his ear, pressing the head of his cock to his rim, not yet pushing in. “You want to make me feel good, don’t you?”

He feels Jeongguk nods against his shoulder and Jimin’s lips curl into a smile, his skin feeling hotter and hotter with each moment that passes. “Then fuck me, yeah?” Another nod. “Get to it, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk kisses the corner of his mouth and then he’s lining his cock with Jimin’s rim, slowly pushing past it. Jimin holds his breath, hole clenching around Jeongguk as he pushes inside, hands curling into fists against the cool wall. The stretch feels good and Jeongguk doesn’t ram into him, but Jimin knows he will and is  already looking forward to it.

“Move.”

With that, Jeongguk does. He starts slow at first, waiting for Jimin to entirely adjust despite Jimin not really needing him to. Jimin pushes his ass back as far as he can, until he meets Jeongguk’s hips. He takes his cock into his hand, loosely curling his fingers around, slowly stroking it as Jeongguk works up the pace.

“Can’t believe you’re letting me do this, fuck,” Jeongguk mutters, cock slamming into Jimin with a lot more force now. “Been—been thinking about it since I saw you in that suit.”

“Would probably let you do anything,” Jimin mumbles back, voice mostly muffled by Jeongguk’s low grunt. He’s full of Jeongguk’s cock, his own throbbing in his hand as he works his fingers around it and fuck— this kid makes Jimin go all weak at the knees, and it’s not just because he’s getting stuffed full of his dick.

It’s so much more, but now isn’t the right time to think about that.

Jeongguk slams into him and Jimin struggles to keep his own pace, struggles to catch his breath and stay as quiet as possible. Jeongguk fucks him hard, deep and fast—just how he’d wanted, and Jimin feels so in sync with him he could actually burst. Jimin’s eyes roll to the back of his head just as Jeongguk starts hitting the right spot, bursts of electricity and heat running under his skin, spreading like wildfire.

Pressure builds up inside of Jimin, his stomach twisting and turning with pleasure, skin breaking out into goosebumps each time Jeongguk thrusts his cock all the way inside. Jimin feels sweat starting to trickle down his spine, hair sticking to his forehead as he presses it against the wall in an attempt to cool down. Jeongguk runs his hands down his sides, fingers dipping into the skin, making Jimin tilt his head back and moan.

He doesn’t even care if anyone can hear them—though he’s still hoping there’s no one on the outside—because Jeongguk hands on him feel electric, every friction feeling ecstatic and making Jimin’s mind a blur. He’s lost in the way Jeongguk feels inside of him, the way his hands run up and down his sides and Jimin’s orgasm builds up fast, just like he’d hoped he would.

“Pretty, you’re so pretty , hyung,” Jeongguk chokes out, picking up the pace. “Fucking gorgeous. A motherfucking masterpiece .”

Jimin snorts, teeth sinking into his bottom lip as his eyes roll to the back of his head. By the way Jeongguk’s grip tightens on Jimin’s waist, Jimin knows he’s close, too.

“Jeongguk, Jeongguk—I’m gonna come.” Jimin’s words come out strained and desperate, and Jeongguk fucks even deeper into him and god— it feels unreal.

Pressure builds up and Jimin frantically works his hand up and down his cock, Jeongguk mercilessly slamming his hips into him and with every motion of his hand, Jimin is closer to tipping over the edge.

The moment Jeongguk slides into him all the way, hips twitching as he presses his lips to the back of Jimin’s neck, Jimin is coming all over his hand, vision spotting white as his orgasm rips through him. They’re both heavily panting and Jimin vaguely registers that Jeongguk is spilling into him as well, too lost in how good and oversensitive his body feels to be able to focus on anything else.    

“Hyung.” Jeongguk’s voice is right in his ear, ragged and barely above a whisper. “Hyung, you okay?”

“I think I blacked out for a second,” Jimin sighs, vision clearing up. Jeongguk laughs against the side of his face, chin resting on Jimin’s shoulder. Jimin smiles too, feeling blissful and fucked out, reaching to brush his hand through Jeongguk’s hair. “You did good, handsome.”

“Gotta do my best to keep up with you, you know?” Jeongguk teases and Jimin scoffs, bumping his back into Jeongguk’s chest. “It’s hard when you want to jump my bones all the time. We’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks hyung, geez. Relax.”

“Is this what comes with seeing a younger guy? Was I this annoying at twenty-three?” Jimin nudges him again. “Pull out, we gotta go.”

Jeongguk snickers, placing his hands on Jimin’s hips and carefully pulling out, making him slightly twitch at the sudden emptiness.

“No,” Jeongguk replies, pulling Jimin’s pants up before he focuses on his own. “Just comes with dating me.”

Jimin cocks an eyebrow, staring at Jeongguk with infinite fondness blossoming inside his chest. Jeongguk’s eyes are bright, there’s a fucked-out smile plastered across his face, skin slightly flushed and dewy and he just—he’s the most gorgeous man Jimin’s ever laid his eyes on.

“Tell me you have a tissue,” Jimin says, nose wrinkling as he looks at his come-stained hand. Jeongguk tilts his eyebrows, grabbing Jimin’s hand with a glint of amusement in his eyes, bringing it to his mouth and then just—licking it.

Jimin’s eyes widen as Jeongguk laps at his palm, sucking on his fingers and licking them clean, eyes trained on Jimin the entire time.

“There. All done,” Jeongguk says, winking at him as Jimin’s heart jumps inside of his chest. “Don’t look so shocked. I swallowed the first time around too, didn’t I?”

“Jesus Christ.” Jimin has no other words, just stares at Jeongguk in awe as he shyly smiles at him.

For the millionth time that night alone—Jimin thinks Jeongguk will be the end of him. 

They make their way out of coat check and are happy to find the hallways still empty, the party inside going full force. If there’d been anyone to catch them in the act they are long gone, and with one glance at his watch, Jimin figures the two girls will be back quickly. He’s absolutely right; after just a couple of minutes of waiting, they’re back, giving the two of them odd looks which in Jimin’s opinion, might as well be judgmental. He couldn’t care less—not with Jeongguk by his side.

“I really gotta take a piss,” Jimin announces as they walk back inside, suddenly feeling drained. God—he’s too old for this shit. All he wants to do is cuddle up next to Jeongguk and put on a movie, and he hates how distinctly louder the venue has gotten. It tends to happen the later it gets and the drunker the guests are. “I kind of wanna go home, to be honest. Do you want to go back to my place?”

Jeongguk seems to pick up on Jimin’s sudden mood shift and his features soften as he nods, leaning down to kiss the side of Jimin’s face. “Yeah. Want me to go get our stuff?”

“Please. I’ll tell the bride something came up and that we’re leaving.” Jimin smiles up at him and Jeongguk walks away, leaving Jimin to make his way to the bathroom.

Finding the bride isn’t too difficult of a task, but getting to speak to her is, as it turns out.  Jimin has to wait ten full minutes for her to finish speaking to a group of people sat at one of the tables, and it’s only when she gets up that Jimin manages to get a moment alone with her.

“Jeonghwa-yah,” Jimin calls and she quickly turns to face him, beaming as she approaches him. “Sorry to interrupt, I know things must be hectic.”

“Nonsense,” she says, taking his hands into her own. “I was looking forward to talking to you all night. Where’s that handsome boyfriend of yours?”

“Ah, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Jimin says in the most apologetic tone he can muster, shifting his weight. “We have to go. Something came up and we must leave, even though I was really looking forward to staying.”

Her face falls, bottom lip sticking out into a pout. Jimin feels only a little guilty—he doesn’t even like weddings, but he does like Jeonghwa. They were quite close at a certain point in time, especially during their college years.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” she says, tone low and sincere. “Really quick then, are you happy? Is he treating you well?”

Jimin lets out a soft laugh, squeezing her hands. “He’s not my boyfriend, don’t worry. I’m happy, you don’t need to worry.”

Jeonghwa gnaws on her bottom lip, looking uncertain. Somehow, it irritates Jimin and he cocks an eyebrow, encouraging her to speak. “He’s just so…He’s so young, Jimin. Too young. Of course I’m worried. I don’t want him using you to…I don’t know. Fulfill a fantasy? What if he hurts you?”

Jimin’s stomach uncomfortably twists, lips twitching downward. “You don’t know him, Jeonghwa,” Jimin warns, tone cold and even. “Maybe it’s best not to speak on things you know nothing about, no?”

“I’m sorry,” she says apologetically, but her expression implies otherwise. Jimin doesn’t fault her much for worrying or prying—he faults her for hitting a nerve. “Just—you know how it is with younger men. I’ve tried it and just—it never ends well. I’ve got to get back to my other guests but…be careful, yeah?”

“I’ll do my best,” replies Jimin, jaw set tight. “Enjoy the rest of your night and oh—congratulations.”

Jimin’s light, almost ecstatic mood, has shifted into something more sour, something Jimin would rather have avoided. Jeongguk is waiting for him right at the exit, Jimin’s coat folded over his arm. His brows slightly furrow as he watches Jimin put it on, eyeing him like a hawk.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jimin says, tone flatter than he wanted it to be. He pushes the door open and Jeongguk follows down the stairs, but pulls Jimin’s hand down right as he’s about to hail a cab. “What are you doing?”

“Hey, wait a second,” Jeongguk says, taking Jimin’s face between his hands. “What’s wrong?”

Jimin blinks up at him, his irritableness suddenly fading. He looks at Jeongguk for a few long moments, surprised at how fast he’d managed to pick up on this. Jimin wasn’t going to bring anything up. Jeonghwa had no business saying what she did and though her comments did strike a nerve, Jimin wasn’t about to bother Jeongguk with it—he was going to deal with it on his own.

“Did something happen while you were in the bathroom?”

Jimin’s features soften and he places his hands over Jeongguk’s, shaking his head. “No,” he replies. Takes a deep breath. “No, just—talked to the bride on my way out and she…had a couple of comments I didn’t take too kindly to.”

“Oh?” Jeongguk blinks, confused. “What did she say?”

“Just told me to be careful, basically. Because you’re too young.”

Jeongguk narrows his eyes, clenching his teeth and poking the inside of his cheek with his tongue. “Huh.”

“It doesn’t matter, right Jeongguk?” Jimin asks, curling his fingers around Jeongguk’s. “It doesn’t matter that you’re twenty-three and I’m thirty-eight, right? You—it’s not just…mindless fun, right? It’s not—I’m not saying it’s not casual, just…you’re not fulfilling a fantasy or whatever, are you?”

Something like anger or hurt flashes through Jeongguk’s eyes and Jimin can’t exactly tell which it is—but he also wants to put this to bed once and for all. He wants to pursue something serious with Jeongguk and he just wants to feel settled.

“Hyung, I don’t think this is mindless fun, and I don’t want this to be casual either, okay?” Jeongguk asks, lowering his head so their foreheads are almost touching. “The only reason I’m not saying anything is because this— I— feel like an adjustment for you. So, I’m being patient. I don’t want to push you away, and I certainly don’t want you to think I’m not serious. I want to date the fuck out of you, hyung, not just be your date. I like you. I like you a whole fucking lot, and I want to take this as far as you’ll let me. What do you want, hyung? Do you want that, too?”

Looking at Jeongguk’s wide, sincere eyes, Jimin has never felt more settled and at ease. With that, he cracks a wide, wavering smile, pulling Jeongguk down for a kiss.

“Yes, Jeongguk-ah. I want that, too.”

 

 

Jimin tries his best to not have walls up around Jeongguk, but it’s easier said than done—Jimin is thirty-eight and has done things a certain way for a very long time. Certain habits are hard to break, but Jeongguk is like a breath of fresh air and as weeks pass, Jimin is convinced he’s exactly what Jimin needed in his life.

He’s far from perfect; Jeongguk snores, leaves his hair stuck in the shower drain, forgets to return cereal back into the cabinet, at times has a sense of humor of a twelve-year-old, but…Jimin somehow manages to grow fond of all those little things, too. Jeongguk’s level-headedness, bluntness and sincerity are qualities Jimin grows to love more and more each day, and there is a lot more to Jeongguk that initially meets the eye. He’s observant and caring, honest about his feelings, works hard and rarely ever complains, and Jimin just...admires him, in a lot of ways.

Their dynamic exceeds any expectations Jimin might have had; after the wedding, Jeongguk makes it abundantly clear what his intentions are, and Jimin does his best to reciprocate that. It gets a little rocky at times, but as they grow more comfortable with one another, conflicts get easier to solve and they don’t arise that much to begin with. Jimin is just— happy.

Jeongguk isn’t defining his happiness, but Jimin’s not afraid to admit that he contributes to it. It’s rather that Jeongguk completes it. Jimin thinks maybe all he was missing in his life was Jeongguk.

Jeongguk insists on taking him out on dates and at first, Jimin lets him. They’re not grandiose or expensive, they don’t dine in lavish restaurants or go to overpriced bars—something Jimin has gotten used to doing over the years—but they still have an amazing time. They eat street food and walk by the Han river, Jeongguk buys him ice cream despite it being freezing cold outside, claiming that he’ll be a lot less cold if his temperature on the inside matches the one out. Jimin thinks it’s the most absurd thing he’s ever heard, but still happily eats it.

By the time their—according to Jeongguk—sixth official date rolls around, Jimin is done having Jeongguk take him out, and he’s determined to take initiative this time around. So, he calls in a favor and gets him and Jeongguk a table at the best Italian restaurant in Seoul.

“Would you kill me if I told you that Yoongi hyung and I planned on coming here for one of our friend’s birthdays in a couple of months? Hyung was supposed to make reservations and everything.” Jeongguk whispers as the host leads them toward their table, and Jimin is too busy having the host suck up to him to reach behind himself and smack Jeongguk.

“Thank you,” he smiles up at the girl who hands them the wine list before bowing and walking away. Jimin puts it away and shoots Jeongguk a glare, but there’s no bite to it. “I will kill you.”

“I figured you would say that,” Jeongguk sighs dramatically, pretending to be overly focused on reading the wine list. “All of these are in Italian.”

“It’s an authentic Italian restaurant,” Jimin says, waving his hand. “I’ll order us something good, just tell me if you want red, white or rosé. We can also get something entirely different, if you’re not feeling wine.”

“Oh, I’m feeling wine,” Jeongguk nods, scrunching his nose. “White?”

“Prosecco it is, then,” Jimin laughs, making eye contact with the server as he approaches them.

Once they order, Jimin leans over the table, tilting his head to the side as he carefully watches Jeongguk. He looks different than he usually would for their dates—it’s usually just Jimin who’s the dressed up one, but tonight, Jeongguk exceeds all expectations. He’s wearing a silk teal shirt with dark, tight pants, and Jimin would be lying if he said he wasn’t drooling a little on their way here. Jeongguk cleans up well, and Jimin is in luck that this is not what he chooses to look like every single day—he has more than enough difficulties with Jeongguk looking casual.

“So, you’re graduating in a couple of months,” says Jimin, chin in hand, watching Jeongguk as he straightens up in his seat. “You excited?”

“Kind of.” Jeongguk shrugs. “I’m mostly excited to start working.”

Jimin smiles, pleased. He doesn’t keep up too much with Jeongguk’s university stuff, but he knows Jeongguk is doing well, and he knows his graduation is due in a couple of months. Jimin makes a mental note to call Taehyung so he could help him brainstorm some ideas for a graduation gift.

“Good,” Jimin says. “I remember being very nervous. You have interviews lined up after you graduate already, don’t you?”

Jeongguk nods proudly, eyes glittering. “I do. Oh, I forgot to ask—you met up with Mrs. Liu last night, right?”

“I did,” replies Jimin, taking a sip of his wine, humming at the sour taste it leaves on his tongue. “It went well.”

“Are you excited?” Jeongguk asks, eyes sparkling with genuine curiosity, and it’s something Jimin’s grown to love about him. He doesn’t just ask things for the sake of asking, he asks because he genuinely cares.

Earlier that week, Jimin had taken him to the restaurant to show him progress and where they stand with renovations so far, and how in a few months—it will be ready to open. Jeongguk seemed truly interested, asking questions about the whole process, carefully listening and nodding his head along to what Jimin was telling him. It was rare for Jimin to date people within his line of work and though Jeongguk wasn’t exactly that—not yet, at least—he came quite close. Though there are years of experience Jeongguk needs to have under his belt to entirely understand this industry, it still feels nice to see the way a fresh pair of eyes look at things.

“I am,” Jimin says, stomach fluttering just at the thought. Years later, this feeling doesn’t go away. “Really. I’ve always wanted an Italian restaurant.” Jimin looks around, lips curling into a sly smile. “Gonna be a direct competition to this one.”

“Judging by what I’ve seen the other day,” Jeongguk laughs, “you’re gonna wipe the competition, baby.”

Tingles run down Jimin’s spine, making him slightly arch his back and straighten up in his seat. Jeongguk doesn’t use the word often but it slips up at times and Jimin always has the same reaction—flushed cheeks and tightened jaw, because everything inside of him feels like he might burst. He likes it way too much, especially likes how soft it sounds when it comes out of Jeongguk’s mouth.

Jimin is falling for this guy, and he’s falling hard.

The way Jeongguk looks at him, the way he listens and notices the small things—Jimin’s never had someone’s personality fit his own that well, never had someone who made him feel this much.

“You’re cute.”

Jimin looks up at him through his lashes. “Cute is not the word, Jeonggukie. I’m fifteen years older than you.”

“And yet you’re still cute,” Jeongguk says, smile widening. “Your face gets all red whenever I call you baby.”

Jimin presses the brim of his glass to his lips, heartbeat quickening. “Stop.”

“You like it though, don’t you?”

“A lot less than you think I do,” Jimin lies, biting his bottom lip between his teeth. “You’re the baby here, brat.”

“And yet you never call me that,” Jeongguk says, pursing his lips.

Jimin tilts his head to the side, cocking an eyebrow. “Would you like me to?”

Jeongguk shrugs nonchalantly, but Jimin can tell that despite this coming off as a joke, it’s not—at least not entirely. “Maybe.” 

“Okay then, baby,” Jimin says, word slipping past his lips so effortlessly, heart clenching inside of his chest at the way Jeongguk perks up.

They don’t talk much once their food arrives, and Jimin is mostly full just by watching Jeongguk eat happily. By the time they’re eating dessert, Jimin is slightly tipsy and judging by his glossy eyes, Jeongguk is, too.

“God, this cake looks so good,” says Jeongguk, staring down at a piece of chocolate cake in front of him. “Almost as good at the ones at your restaurant.”

“Since when do you like cake so much?” Jimin jokes, taking his fork and cutting into the piece.

“I like cake,” Jeongguk replies, licking his lips. “But I like what it represents for me a whole lot more.”

“What do you mean?” Jimin asks, narrowing his eyes.

Jeongguk stares at him sheepishly until it clicks, and Jimin can feel the heat as it spreads up his neck, all the way to his cheeks. “Jesus fuck, Jeongguk.”

“It was the best day ever, you know?” Jeongguk breathes out, leaning over the table. “I spent weeks wondering if you liked me or not, despite having an inkling that you probably did. Still, that whole night was just—it was amazing, hyung. I realized I was falling in love with you right then and there.”

Jimin stares at him, stunned. His stomach ties into a knot, throat closing up and he almost drops his fork onto the plate. Jimin’s mind is entirely blank, all he can manage is to open and close his mouth over and over again as he processes the words.

Jeongguk was falling in love with them. Which means—

“And the way you let me eat you out against that table hyung, god,” Jeongguk continues, lowering his voice. “I couldn’t believe you let me do that. I couldn’t believe you’re real.”

“Jeongguk—”

“Do you remember, hyung?” Jeongguk asks, cocking his head to the side. “Do you remember how god it felt when my tongue was inside you? When you came straight into my mouth?”

Jeongguk’s mouth is just—downright filthy. It’s filthy and it makes Jimin’s head spin, making arousal spike up within him. It never takes much with Jeongguk, and now he’d just caught him off guard and Jimin doesn’t even know what to think, let alone what to say.

“Yeah,” he stutters, breath hitching in his throat as heat seeps through his skin, making him squirm in his seat. Jimin looks around; the restaurant is full, but nobody seems to be paying attention to them.

“Yeah?” Jeongguk’s eyes darken and then Jimin feels the sole of Jeongguk’s foot push between his legs, pressing against his inner thigh. It almost startles him and makes him jump out of his seat, but something forces him to stay put, unmoving.

“Holy shit, Jeongguk.” Jimin covers his face with his hands. “You’re an idiot, and I’m an even bigger idiot for letting you do this shit.”

“You love it.” Jeongguk gently presses his foot against the base of Jimin’s cock, and it’s downright embarrassing how he’s already semi-hard.

They’re not going to do this in the middle of one of the most expensive restaurants in Seoul. They’re not.

“Why don’t you sit there and look pretty, while I get you off under the table, huh hyung?” Jeongguk purrs and Jimin feels like all air has been kicked out of his lungs. “Sit back, relax, and enjoy your dessert, while I get my dessert.”

They are so doing this in the middle of a restaurant. 

Jimin pushes forward and spreads his legs further, thankful that the tablecloth length is almost all the way to the floor. He breathes out as Jeongguk slides his foot up and down, friction just enough for Jimin to want more.

“You’re crazy,” Jimin breathes out, but moves forward again, right as Jeongguk presses harder against his cock.

“Eat up, hyung.” Jeongguk nods toward Jimin’s plate. Jimin looks down at it, swallowing down a moan as Jeongguk rubs his foot up and down his length, slow and steady, careful not to bring any attention to them. “I got you.”

Not knowing what to say or do, Jimin just nods, grabbing his fork again. He brings a piece of cake to his lips, gasping as Jeongguk picks up the pace, lips curled into a wicked smile as his eyes gleam underneath the low light of the chandelier above their table.  

He struggles swallowing it, hand shaky as he puts the fork back down and Jeongguk continues rubbing harder, faster, toes curling and pressing right at the tip, making Jimin consider unbuttoning his slacks. Not that he would ever—this is insane enough as it is. Jeongguk watches him like he’s going to eat him alive and makes Jimin shiver, every move of Jeongguk’s foot against his cock spreads tingles underneath Jimin’s skin and everything inside of him feels like it’s on fire.

Jimin does his best to focus his vision on the servers and people around them, and much to his relief—nobody’s picked up on anything. This is beyond inappropriate and Jimin’s never done anything like this in his life, and that’s exactly what makes all of this even more exciting. 

Adrenaline riles up in his stomach, pressure building as Jeongguk keeps the pace going, pressing harder in all the right places. Jimin’s chest heaves, breathing becomes more difficult with each stroke of Jeongguk’s foot and just with how exposed he feels, Jimin doesn’t think he’s going to last long.

It’s both humiliating and a relief; the faster he comes, the sooner he’ll have to stop pretending he has it all together, when all he wants to do is fall apart under Jeongguk’s touch. Jimin’s breath comes shorter each time Jeongguk moves his foot, and he tries to stuff his mouth with cake in order to suppress the moans forming at the back of his throat.

Jeongguk looks pleased, digging into his dessert as the sole of his foot digs into the head of Jimin’s cock, making him almost choke on his cake.

“How is it, hyung?” Jeongguk asks, voice low and teasing. He’s clearly referencing the dessert, but Jimin can’t think straight. “Is it any good?”

He has no idea what the cake even tastes like. Jimin is too lost in the way his orgasm builds up, too wrapped up in the way shame burns hot inside of his chest with the knowledge of how hard he’s going to come in his pants any moment now and so he just—nods. Speaking seems a little too unrealistic at this moment.

“Are you close?” Jeongguk asks as Jimin swallows heavily, trying to let out a quiet breath. “To finishing your cake, I mean.”

He grins devilishly, and Jimin feels himself leaking precome in his underwear, so close to his orgasm he can barely keep his eyes open.

“Y-Yeah.”

Jeongguk presses even harder and Jimin forces himself to chug the rest of his wine down in an attempt to stop himself from moaning, but it does little to help his case. A bit of wine dribbles down his chin as he jolts, quickly grabbing the napkin to wipe the alcohol away.

“Jeongguk, I’m—”

“Let go.”

And Jimin does, coming full force underneath the pressure of Jeongguk’s foot, biting down onto the napkin as he forces himself to stay still. He’s unable to control the way his eyes squeeze shut and god— he must look ridiculous, but his orgasm makes his mind go blank as it tears through him, making him twitch in his seat and Jimin isn’t able to focus on anything else other than how good it feels.

His chest heaves, a twinge of fear and humiliation twisting inside of Jimin’s stomach as servers rush past their table, sparing them a few glances. They haven’t noticed anything odd, Jimin knows, but he still can’t help but feel exposed.

Worst part is—it feels good. As he comes down from his high, breaths heavy and face flushed, Jimin feels so light. His lips spread into a dazed smile as he opens his eyes and looks back at Jeongguk who’s grinning back at him, eyes soft and filled with so much adoration it makes Jimin sober up almost instantly.

“You’re insane,” Jimin says quietly as Jeongguk removes his foot from his crotch, squirming in his seat as he tries to wiggle his foot back into his shoe. “I’m still struggling to catch my breath.” He leans in, lowering his voice. “My underwear is wet. You’re lucky I wore black slacks tonight.”

“You mean you’re lucky,” Jeongguk supplies, shoving the last of his dessert into his mouth. “I’m just happy you are happy.”

Jimin sighs, shifting uncomfortably as he feels his come dry against his skin. “I’m all sticky.”

“I’ll clean you up when we get to your place.” Jeongguk winks at him, sending tingles up Jimin’s spine. “You still want me to sleep over tonight, right?”

Jimin nods. They’ve been doing that a lot lately—Jeongguk sleeping over. It’s surprising how quickly Jimin had given up his bed and let Jeongguk in it, considering he took at least half of it up and often clung onto Jimin in his sleep a lot more than Jimin was used to. A week into Jeongguk sleeping over, Jimin couldn’t imagine sleeping alone ever again. So, Jeongguk continued to stay over every chance he got and Jimin—he loved it. 

He wasn’t used to having someone at home when he’d come late, but often he’d find Jeongguk studying and doing work for his classes exactly where Jimin had left him that morning when he went to work, and something about that felt…settling. Peaceful, almost.

“Of course,” Jimin says, only slightly blushing as he waves at the server, wanting to get the check. “I gotta return the favor, don’t I?”

Jeongguk insists they walk for a bit before they get a taxi despite Jimin’s protests, because all he wants to do is get home and take a shower. Still, he indulges him; the come has long dried and Jimin just feels gross, rather than uncomfortable.

“It’s not even that warm yet,” Jimin whines, but still walks alongside Jeongguk, arm linked through his. “And you seem to have forgotten you made me cream my pants less than an hour ago.”

Jeongguk lets out a low chuckle, but it comes out more nervous than amused. Jimin pauses, brows knitting together as he looks up at him. “Jeongguk?”

“Wow,” he says, seemingly out of breath. Almost instantly, Jimin’s stomach drops, the worst possible scenarios running through his head. “I don’t know how to say this.”

“Say what, Jeongguk?” Jimin asks, head tilted to the side as he carefully watches him. Jimin unlinks their arms as they come to a stop, gently grabbing Jeongguk by the elbows. “Is something wrong?”

It can’t be, though. Just a couple of hours ago Jeongguk had said that he realized he’d started falling in love with Jimin on that night, and now—

“I love going on dates with you. I love that you don’t care that I’m not as rich as you or as successful as you. I love that you recognize our age difference but don’t put pressure on me to just know the things you’ve already learned in life. You give me advice when I need it but other than that—you just let me do my own thing. You let me grow. Not that I’m a baby—”

“You’re my baby,” Jimin says softly, heart hammering against the inside of his chest but this time—not because of fear. “Breathe, Jeongguk-ah. What is it?”

Jeongguk runs his hand through his hair, huffing out a nervous laugh. “I just—I want you to know how much I appreciate you. As a person. As a businessman. As a date. And I guess what I’m trying to say is—I want to appreciate you as a partner, too.”

Jimin blinks, throat closing up. He takes a deep breath, gnawing on his bottom lip as he gazes up at Jeongguk.

He can’t stop the way his heart beats so hard against his ribs, and despite this sneaking its way into Jimin’s mind recently, he didn’t feel like it was something that was on the table just yet. Mostly because now that he was entirely okay with them two, he wanted to give Jeongguk as much space and time as Jeongguk has given him. 

Now, standing in the middle of the street and staring at each other, Jimin realizes Jeongguk doesn’t want time. He doesn’t want space. He never has. Jeongguk wants him.

“Are you asking me—”

“I’m telling you I’m in love with you, hyung,” Jeongguk says and Jimin melts right then and there, heart clenching and aching inside of his chest because it’s something he didn’t know he so desperately needed to hear until this very moment. He didn’t know he needed this until Jeongguk came around and somehow—it hurts. It hurts so good. “You make me feel appreciated and cared for, you make me feel like your happiness is my happiness. Every time I stay over and wake up next to you in the morning, I can’t help but think how ridiculously lucky I got, not because you didn’t press charges that night, but because you spared me a glance. I couldn’t believe someone like you would ever let themselves go for someone like me and yet, you continue to surprise me.” Jeongguk takes a deep breath, eyes filled with both uncertainty and determination as he decides to go on. “You let go of whatever reservations you had, and I can only imagine how difficult that must have been, especially when those are something that have built up inside you for years. You let go and you never projected, never made me feel stupid or less than I am and hyung—I’m so in love with you. I am so in love with you and I want you to know that. I want you to be with me, hyung. Really be with me. I know we’re already exclusive, but—I want more. I want the title. I want you to be my boyfriend.”

Jimin stands there, stunned. He doesn’t even notice his eyes well up with tears until the wind starts blowing and he shakes his head, letting out a laugh. He reaches to take Jeongguk’s face between his hands, his entire body feeling as if it’s on fire with the intensity of emotions he’s feeling right now. There are so many things he wants to say, but somehow, words don’t feel like they are enough.

So, Jimin kisses him. He kisses him full force, both of stumbling and almost slamming into a couple of people walking by. Jimin laughs into the kiss, skin breaking out into goosebumps as Jeongguk links his arms around his waist, pulling him close.

“You’re incredible, Jeon Jeongguk. Do you know that?”

Jeongguk beams, reaching to sweep Jimin’s bangs away from his forehead. “Is that a yes?”

“Of course it’s a yes,” Jimin says, biting his lip. “I didn’t want to put any pressure on you but Jeongguk—I want this. I want us to be together. I think we’re good for each other, baby.”

Jeongguk grins impossibly wide, his face scrunching in the cutest way possible, making Jimin want to burst.

“I’m so happy,” Jeongguk admits, pressing their foreheads together. “I’m so happy, hyung.”

“So am I,” Jimin says, breathing in. “And Jeongguk—I want you to know that I’m in—”

“Don’t.” Jeongguk interrupts and Jimin pauses, thumbs brushing over Jeongguk’s cheekbones. “Don’t say it—not yet. Don’t say it just because I did, even if you do feel it. I want you to say it when you feel like it’s time. When you’re entirely ready.”

Jimin tries his hardest to hold back the tears, pressing his lips to Jeongguk for a long moment before he pulls away. “Okay, baby. I promise I’ll do that.”

 

 

Months fly by in a whirlwind; Jimin is busy working on hiring staff for his new restaurant and helping create the menus, all while making sure his other restaurants are running smoothly. Jeongguk focuses on graduating and oftentimes when he stays over at Jimin’s place, Jimin finds him asleep on the floor of his living room late at night, textbooks scattered all over.

It fills Jimin’s chest with so much love and fondness that he can’t even remember what it was like not feeling that every single day. He doesn’t remember the loneliness, the void, the emptiness that followed even with every bit of success in his life. Now, Jeongguk is here with him every step of the way, and Jimin tries his best to be as good of a partner as Jeongguk is to him.

And it works. 

They work. 

Despite the age difference, Jimin feels like he’d learned so much from Jeongguk. For the first time, he realizes how a relationship truly works, how to properly communicate the good things and the bad ones, how getting hurt or hurting someone unintentionally doesn’t have to mean the end—but a way to move forward and grow together. Jimin learns so much every day, and he makes sure Jeongguk knows it.

The best part about it is that it doesn’t go to Jeongguk’s head. Nothing ever does, and it’s one of the things Jimin loves most about him. He’s grounded and level-headed, patient and willing to put in work for anything in his life. There is no perfect person but Jeongguk is close as anyone can get—at least for Jimin. 

Jimin  doesn’t feel the need to hide behind his walls anymore, and he makes sure that Jeongguk knows. He tells Jeongguk how wonderful and kind and patient he is, tells him that Jimin is so happy he decided to give this a try.

Despite having a huge argument about it, Jimin does end up going to Jeongguk’s graduation. It had been stupid, really, but upon realization that— obviously— Jeongguk’s parents would be there, Jimin changed his mind last minute and tried bailing. Jeongguk hadn’t taken too kindly to that, especially because Jimin already promised he’d attend. Being with Jeongguk was one thing, meeting his parents felt like a whole other world Jimin had hoped he’d never have to cross over to. 

Jimin felt safer in their little bubble with his friends and Jeongguk’s friends, both sides more than accepting, but exposing their relationship to Jeongguk’s parents was another thing entirely. It started off as a small argument and then turned into a full-blown fight, both of them crying and shouting but having valid reasons for not understanding each other. Finally, a couple of hours into the frosty silence that had settled between them, Jimin had decided to swallow his pride and dignity and face his fears—for Jeongguk.

It didn’t turn out great, but it went a lot better than Jimin had expected; Jeongguk’s parents weren’t over the moon, but they were civil and kind. They all had lunch in Jimin’s Japanese restaurant, and it left a good impression on both of them, and they left for Busan that night a lot less stiff than they initially were. Jimin deemed it a successful day, and it was worth every single bright smile from Jeongguk that day.

Later, Jimin realized that if they got through that—they would get through anything. Jeongguk was here to stay, and Jimin wasn’t going anywhere, either. No one—not his parents, not Jimin’s parents—could break or question their relationship. 

Jimin finally understands that just because people are wary doesn’t mean they’re judging or that they’re against it. It just means that much like him, they’re careful. Neither Jimin nor Jeongguk have to prove themselves to anyone else , they only have to prove themselves to each other .

It made Jimin solidify what he had already felt for quite some time now—his love for Jeongguk. He loved Jeongguk so much it made his chest ache, loved him so much that Jimin could never imagine himself with anyone else. 

Jimin loved Jeongguk so much he was ready to give him everything, all of him, as much as Jeongguk would need and as much as he would take. Jimin had loved before, but not with such intensity and burning passion, never to the point where emotions were almost too much to handle. Jimin loved Jeongguk so much he would trust him with anything, so much he’d offer him the whole world if he could.

Jimin had learned that despite all that, despite the number of things he would willingly give up for Jeongguk—he would never have to. He felt everything with so much intensity—but it was never tiring, it was never draining; if anything, it fueled and inspired him, made Jimin work harder in all aspects of his life.

“Hyung?” Jeongguk calls from the living room as Jimin walks through the door, toeing his shoes off and immediately breathing out in relief as he feels the cool breeze from the air conditioning. It’s too hot and humid outside and Jimin’s dress shirt is grossly sticking to his back; he’d been in meetings and going from one side of town to the other the entire day and he was just—exhausted. “Hyung.”

Jeongguk appears in the doorway, shirtless and with his sweatpants hanging low on his waist, messy hair falling into his eyes as he sleepily blinks at Jimin.

“Hi, baby,” Jimin says quietly, hand curling at the nape of Jeongguk’s neck and pulling him in for a kiss. Jeongguk softly presses his lips to Jimin’s, sighing into his mouth as he wraps his arms around Jimin’s waist. “Did I wake you?”

Jeongguk pulls back, shaking his head. “No,” he says, lips curling into a smile as he brushes his nose against Jimin’s. “I was just in bed watching a documentary and waiting for you to come back.”

Jimin glances at the digital clock on the stove, sighing. It’s almost eleven and he's been out since this morning yet somehow, now that Jeongguk is here and holding him, he doesn’t feel as tired as he probably should.

“I missed you,” says Jimin, kissing Jeongguk again. Jeongguk laughs, scrunching his nose in a way that makes Jimin’s heart clench inside of his chest and suddenly—it feels like he can’t hold himself back anymore. All of the feelings he has for this man feel like they’re about to flood over the surface, and Jimin just can’t keep it in .

“Missed you too,” Jeongguk replies, taking Jimin by the hand and dragging him toward the bedroom.

There’s still a dip in the mattress on Jimin’s bed where Jeongguk had been lying, TV still playing the documentary. The room is cool, just how Jeongguk likes it, and Jimin’s side of the bed remains intact, still the same as he’d left it this morning. Jimin’s never had his side of the bed before. He’d slept however he wanted and now, he knows the left side—closer to the bedroom door—is Jeongguk’s because the sun doesn’t hit as much there in the mornings, and Jeongguk tends to wake up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Jimin almost freezes in place as that realization hits him all at once, and he has thought about moving in with Jeongguk before, but he’d never actually realized they were halfway there already.

It’s not a conversation for right now, Jimin knows, but it’s a conversation to have sometime soon. Neither of them are going anywhere, and when Jimin comes back to the apartment after he’s done with work and Jeongguk happens to be there, Jimin really, truly feels like he’d come home. His home—it’s Jeongguk now.

“How was your day?” Jeongguk asks and plops back down onto the bed, eyes glued to the television.

Jimin walks into his closet and takes off his clothes, changing into something more comfortable, deciding to take a shower with Jeongguk later. He walks out and hops onto the bed next to Jeongguk, propping his elbow against the mattress, chin in hand as he stares down at his boyfriend.

“Hectic. I had seven meetings, the restaurant was so busy Seokjin hyung and I barely managed to say two words to one another.” He runs his hand through his hair, sighing. “Then I met up with the chefs I hired for Altrove—which opens in exactly a month , and we went over the menu options, but they had a disagreement over it so now I’m not entirely sure how the two of them will work together, but I’m trying not to stress over it until the restaurant starts working. Seokjin hyung is slowly making a full transition there too, so that’s going to be…different. How was your day, though? You had some interviews lined up, right?”

“Four Skype interviews and then in the afternoon I had three more in Gangnam.” Jeongguk says, reaching to brush Jimin’s bangs away from his forehead, gently carding through the strands. Jimin leans into the touch, leaning to rest his head against Jeongguk’s temple, closing his eyes as Jeongguk continues to soothingly run his fingers through his hair. “Can’t say they all seemed particularly interested in me, but two out of three Gangnam ones are going to send me contracts over on Monday so I can take a look at them and decide whether I want to sign one of them or not.”

Jimin hums noncommittally, clasping his hands together and resting his chin on top. “You know, I was thinking—”

“Oh, no, ” Jeongguk teases, grinning at him. “Nothing good ever comes out of that.”

“Hey.” Jimin smacks his thigh full force, making Jeongguk jolt as he lets out a yelp.

“Just kidding, babe,” Jeongguk says with a laugh, surging forward to pepper the side of Jimin’s face with kisses until they’re both laughing. “You were saying?”

“As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted, I’ve been thinking,” Jimin continues as Jeongguk settles back against the pillows, intently watching him. “Why don’t you just…Why don’t you just say fuck it and come work for me instead?”

Jeongguk furrows his eyebrows, opening his mouth to protest but Jimin is quick to cut him off, raising his hand and silencing him.

“Hear me out. It’s not something I’ve just thought of and it’s not a spur of the moment kind of thing,” Jimin explains. “I’ve been thinking about it for the past couple of months, basically since you graduated—and you wouldn’t be working directly under me anyway, I don’t think that would be beneficial for either of us. Besides, I may be a good businessman, but I am not a good teacher.”

“You’re damn right I wouldn’t be working under you,” Jeongguk says playfully and Jimin rolls his eyes, smacking him again. Jeongguk snorts, tilting his head back and laughing and Jimin can’t help but shake his head, unable to hold back a smile. God, he loves this kid. He loves him with his whole entire being. “Sorry, go on.”

“I was thinking maybe you could come work at Altrove. Seokjin is relocating there for obvious reasons and I would only show up only once a week, like I do with any of my other restaurants that are not Le Manoir.” Jimin sucks in a breath, biting his lower lip. “Seokjin could show you the ropes—he’s good at it, hence why I always have him handle the new staff instead of me. You’d work under him and there wouldn’t be any conflict of interest or whatever. If you decide you’re over it and don’t want to work there anymore for whatever reason, it would all go by your contractual obligations. You won’t have to go through me.”

Jeongguk pokes the inside of his cheek with his tongue, thumbs twiddling as he processes Jimin’s offer. 

“I’ve discussed this with Seokjin hyung. Namjoon hyung, too. They all think it could be a good idea. You have a lot to learn, and we all think you could learn a lot there. It’s a new restaurant, so you’d get to see how business gets built from ground up. It will be a good experience, especially if you ever decide to move on and go further.”

“Hyung. That’s…that feels like a lot.” Jeongguk says after a while, gnawing on his bottom lip. “You don’t have to offer me a job just because we’re together. You really don’t. I’ve been offered a few—I’m just taking my time and considering what my best option is. Please don’t feel obliged to offer me a work position because I’m your boyfriend.”

Jimin can understand where Jeongguk is coming from, so he doesn’t push any further. If he’d learned anything by now, is that there’s no use in pushing Jeongguk to do something—you can present him with facts, and he’ll choose what he wants to do all on his own. He’s independent, and Jimin adores that about him.

“Fair enough,” Jimin agrees. “How about I set up an interview with Seokjin and you see if you see what he has to offer, yeah? Then you can make a fully informed decision. No hard feelings either way.”

Jeongguk gnaws on his bottom lip some more until a smile tugs at the corners of his mouth and his eyes crinkle happily, filling Jimin up with warmth. “Okay, hyung. That sounds good.”

Jimin takes Jeongguk’s hand and kisses each knuckle until Jeongguk is laughing and trying to pull his hand back, claiming it tickles, but Jimin doesn’t care. He continues doing it until Jeongguk whines and rolls Jimin onto his back, climbing on top of him and surging down to kiss him long and hard, until Jimin is all out of breath.

“One more thing.” Jimin presses his index and middle finger to Jeongguk’s lips, gently pushing him away. “I’m not offering you this because you’re my boyfriend and I feel obliged. I’m offering you this because I love you and I want to.”

Jeongguk falters, his giggle dying out in his throat, smile fading from his lips. His eyes turn dark and serious and Jimin swallows, nerves bundling up in his stomach. It may not be the most perfect time to say it, but Jimin’s never felt it more than right in this moment. It’s late and they’ve both had a long day, they’re not wearing fancy clothes or dining in an expensive restaurant, but Jimin never felt the timing be more perfect than it is now.

“You—you what?”

“I know you know,” Jimin says and Jeongguk nods, mouth popped open and eyes wide. “I know you’ve known for a while. You told me to say it when I felt it was right, remember?”

Another nod.

“I’m sorry it’s not romantic with candles lit all around us and flowers everywhere, but I do love you, Jeon Jeongguk. And I’m never going to let you go.”

“I don’t—” Jeongguk swallows, eyes still wide. “What the fuck, hyung?”

Jimin narrows his eyes, confused.

“You think this is not romantic?” Jeongguk asks and Jimin bites back a smile, taking Jeongguk’s face between his hands. “This is—it’s everything I could have asked for. Hyung, I don’t give a shit about expensive restaurants or candles or flowers. This is when I love you the most. This is when I love us the most. When it’s just us existing like this. When there’s nothing on the outside to focus on. That’s what I think is the most romantic thing. That’s when I love you the most.”

Jimin’s heart tightens in his chest, a lump swelling up in his throat. It’s difficult to breathe and even more difficult to convey everything he feels right now; all he knows is that it aches, and it aches with so much love and passion and fondness that Jimin wouldn’t mind enduring this forever.

And he will—if Jeongguk lets him.

“I’ve been in love with you for a very long time. More than that, I love you. I don’t need anything else as long as I have you. As long as I have us—I’m good. And I’m so, so thankful for you. I have so much to learn still and knowing you’re here, just—it means everything to me, Jeongguk-ah. You mean everything.”

Jeongguk’s features soften and then he’s beaming, face scrunching so cutely Jimin can’t help but kiss the corner of his mouth.

“Even when I clog the shower drain with my hair?”

Jimin squirms under him and bursts out laughing, linking his arms around Jeongguk’s neck and pulling him close to his chest.

“Even when you clog the shower drain with your hair.”

Jeongguk lets out a pleased hum, burying his face in the crook of Jimin’s neck, leaving wet kisses all over the skin.

“I love you, hyung.” Jeongguk mutters, voice muffled and barely audible.

But Jimin hears—loud and clear.

“I love you too,” he replies, chest blossoming with warmth and content.

Jimin lets his eyes fall shut as Jeongguk nuzzles further into his neck, lips curled into a soft smile as he thinks he could stay like this forever.