Jimin walks into his apartment, whatever resolve he’s using to hold back his tears wavering with each passing second.
He lets out a shuddering breath, his door shutting behind him and despite the thousand and one promises he’s made himself, he pulls out his phone and stares down at Jeongguk’s contact ID. Jimin doesn’t even consider it, he hits dial, sniffling and exhausted and god, he hates himself right now.
He hates himself so much.
Jeongguk picks up on the third ring, voice already laced with worry. “Hyung?”
Jimin does his best not to cry, the back of his hand pressing against his left eye. “Jeongguk.”
He prides himself on how his voice doesn’t crack.
“Hyung, what happened? It’s 2 am,” Jeongguk says, and Jimin knows this is unfair. After all, he’d been the one to suggest they get their own places. “Didn’t you have a date?”
“Um,” Jimin starts, sucking in a breath. He pushes himself to take off his boots, hates how he still feels dirty and used. The guy hadn’t even used a condom. “It — It didn’t go very well.”
Jeongguk doesn’t say anything for a moment, the line going completely silent, and then, “Go shower and I’ll be there in fifteen okay?”
“You don’t — ”
“I was up, hyung, and you knew I would be. Isn’t that why you called? So don’t worry about it.”
“Thank you,” Jimin mumbles out and the hatred only intensifies, stabbing him in the heart over and over. Jeongguk must be so tired of him.
“Anything for you,” Jeongguk says. Jimin swears he can hear his smile, eyes squeezing shut. “See you soon.”
The line goes dead and Jimin stands there for a moment, listening to the dial tone, wishing he didn’t make one stupid decision after the other. Somehow he gets himself to the bathroom, and then he can’t get out of his clothes fast enough, skin crawling as he attempts to block the whole night out.
For every step Jimin takes to move on, to forget his stupid, awful feelings, life seems to drag him right back to the one person he is trying so desperately to grow out of. He doesn’t want to ruin eight years of friendship, heart lurching in his chest at the very idea of losing Jeongguk.
Jimin cries in the shower, and it isn’t a dam breaking, but his heart aches and aches and aches . The feeling throbs through his body until Jimin can feel it all the way down to his fingertips. He doesn’t step out from under the spray until he hears the footsteps, knowing Jeongguk’s let himself in.
Jimin probably shouldn’t have given the object of his every romantic fantasy a key to his apartment but he’d made that mistake, too.
It takes Jimin a moment, towel pressed against his face as he tries to compose himself. He doesn’t want to cry in front of Jeongguk, doesn’t want to worry him even more. Guilt gnaws at him for even calling him in the first place but Jeongguk had been right. He’d known Jeongguk would be up; he always stayed up until god knows when on Friday nights playing Overwatch .
When he finally wraps himself up in his bathrobe, Jimin opens the bathroom door. He’d been too impatient to get clean, wanting to get rid of any trace of his shitty date, and had forgotten completely to grab something new to wear.
Jeongguk’s waiting right outside, his jacket lying over top the back of Jimin’s couch. Jimin wills himself to smile and Jeongguk just closes the distance between them to wrap Jimin up in a hug.
“My hair’s still wet,” Jimin mumbles into Jeongguk’s shoulder, but he can’t find it in himself to pull away. The ache in his chest throbs outward, Jeongguk’s chest so solid and firm against him.
“’S’okay,”Jeongguk says and Jimin’s fingers just twist into Jeongguk’s t-shirt, clutching him tighter. “You wanna talk about it?”
Jimin never wants to talk about anything. He just wishes endlessly that somehow he could sink into Jeongguk and disappear, that this distance he keeps trying to put between them would become an impossibility.
Jimin is so tired of running.
“I’m sorry I called you so late,” Jimin says instead, which is answer enough. Jeongguk is fluent in Jimin, after all.
Jeongguk pulls back, hands cupping Jimin’s face, and it feels like Jimin is squeezing the life out of his own heart. Everything is so hard.
“You were crying,” Jeongguk says simply, lips pursing. “Of course I’d come.”
Jimin flushes, brushing Jeongguk’s hands away. It’s too much, a tenderness that is undeserved. How can he keep taking from Jeongguk when he’s the one asking for space, not answering texts where Jeongguk asks him to hang out, slipping away as quickly as possible when Jeongguk somehow does manage to get him alone.
He’s the one going on date after date, and then feeling like shit about himself when they just want to sleep with him. Jimin had even tried to say he wasn’t interested but the guy hadn’t really cared and then Jimin had done what he did best, he’d lied there and taken it.
And maybe it’s just the culmination of everything, of yearning for something he’s resolutely told himself he can’t have, of his horrible date, of all the decisions he regrets so deeply but Jimin can’t stop the words from slipping out.
“We should probably,” he pauses, swallowing, “probably stop being friends.”
Jimin doesn’t have to look at Jeongguk to know he’s just broken his heart but he can’t keep doing this. He can’t keep pushing and pulling. How had he ever thought he could just stay Jeongguk’s friend when he is so hopelessly, irrevocably in love with Jeongguk? When he needs so much more than that?
Jimin’s heart clenches in his chest, tears already burning in his eyes. He doesn’t think he’s going to make it through this. “I’m — I’m always asking so much of you. It’s not fair, so I think, I think it’d just be best, you know?”
“Jimin, what the fuck are you talking about?” Jeongguk’s tone is so confused but the hurt lashes out at Jimin like a whip, and he wants to collapse, wants to go back to the very moment he told Jeongguk they should find their own places, that they couldn’t be roommates forever. He wants to say what he’d really hoped to say.
I love you, Jeon Jeongguk.
Except Jeongguk isn’t gay and Jimin’s a coward.
“You can’t — You can’t treat people like this Jimin,” Jeongguk continues, sounds livid and Jimin’s not expecting him to turn away, hands coming up to rub at his face. He whips back around, his eyes wet with tears and Jimin can’t breathe. “You can’t fucking decide for me what’s asking too much! What the fuck? Do you think I,” he takes in a shuddering breath, eyes slipping shut.
“Am I just a fucking joke to you? It’s 2 am, hyung.” Jeongguk’s voice cracks and Jimin rushes toward him, incapable of stopping himself. “Do you think I’d be here if I didn’t want to be?”
“I’m — I’m sorry, I don’t — ” Jimin stumbles with the words, doesn’t know what he wants to say. But everything hurts and he’s tired. He’s so tired and he doesn’t want to hurt anymore. He doesn’t want to hurt Jeongguk anymore.
“I should never have agreed to getting our own apartments,” Jeongguk cries, jaw clenching as he turns away from Jimin. “Did you hate living with me that much? Did I do something wrong, hyung?”
“No! No, you could never,” Jimin answers, words catching in his throat, the wind knocked right out of him. He reaches for Jeongguk, hand curling around the back of Jeongguk’s neck as he tugs his robe’s sleeve up to wipe at Jeongguk’s tears. “You could never do anything wrong. I’m sorry. I’m — I’m being stupid.”
“Then why would you say you don’t want to be friends?”
Jimin doesn’t have an answer.
“Because I’m an idiot,” Jimin finally says, attempting to pull away from Jeongguk only to have his hand caught by Jeongguk’s. “I shouldn’t have called you. I’m sorry.”
Jeongguk’s eyes are still wet but there’s a look of determination there that frightens Jimin, his gut twisting. “What aren’t you telling me, hyung?”
“I know there’s something,” Jeongguk insists, his hold on Jimin’s hand tightening. “There’s always been something, right? I didn’t want to push but I should have.”
Jimin’s mind goes blank, heart dropping right to the ground.
No no no, he thinks. He can’t tell Jeongguk. Not now, not ever.
He’s so afraid that Jeongguk will want nothing to do with him, he’s been so afraid for so long. Jimin doesn’t know how to say he’s been in love with Jeongguk since the first time they met where Jimin had mistook Jeongguk as his hyung.
That he’d been in love a week later when Jeongguk had introduced Jimin to his girlfriend. That he’d been in love three years later when Jeongguk had broken up with her. That he’s been in love every second of eight, long years.
He doesn’t know how to say it’s always been you. It could only ever be you.
“I was just upset, Jeongguk. There’s nothing — ”
“Please don’t lie.”
Jimin’s breath shudders in his chest. He can’t look at Jeongguk.
“Not to me,” Jeongguk adds so softly that Jimin nearly doesn’t catch it. “I thought — I thought we were best friends.”
“I don’t want to be best friends,” Jimin hears himself say, a tear slipping down his cheek. It feels like he’s been pinned to the ground, some impossible weight crushing his chest.
And maybe there is a threshold for this sort of thing. A threshold Jimin has been desperately holding together, his arms stretched past their limit as his body screams in agony.
Jeongguk’s hold on his hand almost slips and Jimin swallows.
He doesn’t want to be a coward anymore.
Jimin lifts his head up, meeting Jeongguk’s gaze, and he scrapes together every ounce of courage, gathers every sigh of Jeongguk’s name he’s ever uttered, every tremble of his hands as they reached out for Jeongguk’s.
“I — I love you,” Jimin says, and he knows Jeongguk doesn’t get it. Not the way Jimin wants him to. “I’ve loved you for so long I don’t — I don’t know what it’s like not to love you. I can’t be your best friend, Jeongguk.”
The dawning moment of realization settles on Jeongguk’s face, his eyes widening so big, tears still clinging to his lashes.
Jimin gives Jeongguk’s hand one last squeeze before he drops it, heart breaking one last time.
He can’t stop crying, head being to ache, but he forces himself to continue, voice shaking. “Because I don’t love you like a best friend. I never have and I can’t — I can’t do this anymore.”
Jimin keeps waiting for Jeongguk to say something but instead of words, Jimin has a split second to ready himself for Jeongguk’s lips are crashing against his, his hands cupping Jimin’s face so hard it actually hurts.
Jimin’s so caught off guard he stumbles back but Jeongguk just follows and follows and follows. His intensity is so much that Jimin can barely suck in a breath, tears streaming down his face so fast he can’t even see and still Jeongguk kisses him, ravenous.
The euphoria of finally knowing the taste of Jeongguk’s mouth, of the softness of his lips is muddled by Jimin’s growing confusion, at the insistence that this couldn’t possibly be real, that Jeongguk couldn’t possibly be kissing him.
But Jeongguk is, his tongue meeting Jimin’s lips, and Jimin opens up to him so easily, hands clawing forward to reach for him, to hold onto him. Jimin’s fingers tighten into his t-shirt as he clings to him. The slide of Jeongguk’s tongue against Jimin’s feels so electric, his knees nearly give out but Jeongguk is drawing him in so close, arm winding around Jimin’s waist so that they’re flush together.
“You’re,” Jeongguk says, breathless, “you’re so stupid.”
Jimin’s delirious, feels the sob rip out of him even as Jeongguk litters kisses all over his face and eight years feels like a lifetime and the blink of an eye all at once.
“But, but you’re not,” Jimin tries, hiccuping through his tears. He’s pretty sure he has snot dripping from his nose and Jeongguk is still kissing him, hand wiping away Jimin’s tears as fast as they fall.
“Not what?” Jeongguk says, even wiping Jimin’s nose. He sounds a little mad. “In fucking love with you?”
Jimin nods his head, attempting to stifle his sobs.
“Maybe you should have asked me before you decided all on your own,” Jeongguk retorts, his cheeks ruddy. Jimin can only manage to suck in a quivering breath, sniffling.
“But I thought you were straight,” Jimin says wetly, rubbing at his eyes. He feels dizzy.
“Guess I’m not,” Jeongguk grins, leaning in to kiss Jimin again.
This time, Jimin gets to enjoy it. The shock doesn’t stand a chance against Jimin’s soaring happiness and it feels like someone’s set off fireworks inside of him, every nerve ending in his body suddenly screaming in joy.
Jeongguk kisses him slower this time, sucking on Jimin’s lip softly before meeting Jimin’s tongue with his own. Jimin whines, eyes still wet with tears as Jeongguk's tongue licks into his mouth until Jimin’s melting against him, arms winding around his neck. Jimin doesn’t want to stop but Jeongguk’s scooping him up and Jimin yelps as he’s hoisted up, legs wrapping around Jeongguk’s hips automatically.
“How long?” Jimin asks, holding Jeongguk’s face in his hands, thumbs stroking his skin. “How long have you...?” He doesn’t want to miss a single thing, wants to burn this moment into his eyes so it’s all he ever sees.
“After you decided we shouldn’t be roommates anymore and decided to date like, twenty guys in a row,” Jeongguk answers, carrying Jimin into his bedroom. They’ve slept on the bed together before, Jimin’s face buried into Jeongguk’s back seeking comfort.
But this is different.
Jimin’s nervous as Jeongguk yanks the blanket back so they can climb in, one arm still holding Jimin up.
“I guess I can’t blame you,” Jeongguk smiles, kissing Jimin’s cheek. He sets Jimin down, crawls in after Jimin only to pull him right back into his arms. “I took a damn long time to figure it out.”
Jimin thinks he’s going to start crying again so he only nods his head, face burying into Jeongguk’s neck so that the little sob that does escape him is mostly muffled. Jeongguk shushes him, hand rubbing up and down Jimin’s spine in comfort.
“I love you so much,” Jimin confesses, pulling back to look at Jeongguk’s handsome face. He doesn’t know what any of this means but he doesn’t care. He just wants to hear Jeongguk say it again.
“I love you so much, too,” Jeongguk says, hand coming up to cup Jimin’s cheek. “Can’t believe you wanted us to stop being friends. I’d die without you.”
“N-no you wouldn’t,” Jimin denies, but the words steal the breath right out of him. It feels too good to be true but Jimin thinks that there’s no way it wouldn’t.
“I would,” Jeongguk insists, pressing a kiss to the corner of Jimin’s mouth. “But we can argue about it later. You need to sleep and tomorrow, you’re telling me everything.”
“Okay,” Jimin agrees, head pillowing against Jeongguk’s chest as he wraps his arms around Jimin. And Jimin must be exhausted beyond belief because he falls asleep in minutes, the hum of Jeongguk’s breathing lulling him right to sleep.
He doesn’t dream but then, he doesn’t think he’ll ever need to. He has the one thing he wanted most already.