Once upon a time, Jimin fell in love.
Once upon a time, it all faded. And all that's left was a memory.
Jimin stares at the code in front of him. He scrolls up a bit and starts re-reading the comments for the function’s purpose. Lost, he tries to open the requirements documentation and rereads the lines stating what he needs to do.
He reopens the text editor and opens a different tab, scrolling through the update comments to see if he could work on this one first. He’s been stuck on this piece of code for two days, and if his boss finds out that he hasn’t done anything productive in two days aside from fixing the grammar in the comments and updating the flowcharts for the documentation, he’s going to have to start learning how to pray in binary codes.
“Whatcha doing there?” He suddenly feels hands on his shoulders, and he hits his knee on the table when he involuntarily jerks in surprise.
“Would you stop doing that?” Jimin yelps, rubbing his knee. He swivels his chair to find the culprit muffling his laughter behind his hand, faces only inches from his. He backs away in complete panic, only to hit his knee on his desk again.
“Sorry, sorry.” Seokjin says, grabbing the chair from the desk behind him and taking a seat so that he’s sharing Jimin’s desk space. “My bad.”
“You don’t look apologetic enough.” Jimin sniffs derisively.
“I am! Look, I’m going to kiss it better.” Seokjin leans down and holds Jimin’s knee in his hands. Jimin’s mind turns up blank when Seokjin actually kisses his knee, and he stares at Seokjin for what feels like forever until slowly, he starts feeling blood rushing to his cheeks. His face is burning and his knee is throbbing and it’s all Kim Seokjin’s fault.
“Are you okay? You’re looking very...red.” Seokjin says, squishing Jimin’s face between his hands and tilting his head to have a better look.
"It's the heat," Jimin says, fanning himself as proof. Seokjin blinks, hesitating a bit before pulling his hands away. Jimin involuntarily tilts his head forward, missing the warmth of Seokjin's hand on his cheeks. It's completely embarrassing, but at least Seokjin doesn't seem to notice.
"The air conditioning isn't broken." Seokjin says. He blinks again. Jimin wishes he would just stop blinking so much--it just makes him look cuter than he already is (or alternatively: Jimin just wishes Seokjin would stop being so cute at all).
"Uh yeah. Did I say the air conditioning's broken? Pff. I didn't say anything, stop blaming the poor air conditioning." Jimin shakes his head. He brushes his hair back, not knowing what to do with his hands before having a moment's realization and putting his hands on his lap instead. "I just went outside a while ago to buy an energy drink and it was so hot." It wasn't a complete lie--he could feel his shirt sticking to his skin because of his sweat, but he knows it's not that convincing.
“I guess that’s why you’re always so jittery.” Seokjin nods in understanding, and Jimin somewhat feels slightly guilty about partially lying to him. But how can he even say that his face just turned completely beet red when Seokjin suddenly surprised him from behind with a mere touch of his shoulder, only to end up facing Seokjin with his face inches from him? "You should be careful, you could get a heatstroke."
"Yeah," Jimin says, still feeling the warmth of Seokjin's hand on his face. "I will."
“You should really stop drinking those energy drinks though, I read somewhere that they’re bad for your health.” Seokjin adds on, and Jimin just sighs and mumbles in agreement.
Seokjin is nice, handsome and reliable and good at cooking and he talks just like he gets Jimin.
But Seokjin is also a nagger and hates sharing his gummies and makes Jimin’s heart skip a beat every damn time that Jimin doesn’t know what to do with himself.
Seokjin yawns, stretching his arms over his head, and Jimin knows that he purposefully reaches over to lightly hit Jimin’s ear with a knuckle just because he can. Seokjin is older, but in a sense, he is still kind of the same age as Jimin at heart. "Hey, you done for today?"
"Supposedly." Jimin ignores Seokjin's jab and squints his eyes at his monitor, skimming through the email he just received instead. It's 7PM and his eyes are burning from (unsuccessfully) having to script automated tests the whole day and running them. "But apparently they're requesting more scripts. I might need to work overtime." he says, his voice sounding smaller until he trails off. He's been working overtime for two weeks straight, even working on the weekends just so he could meet their manager's demands. Suddenly, joining the workforce right after graduation seems like the dumbest idea he's had in forever.
He leans on the table and covers his eyes with his hands, feeling the toll of stress working its way to him. He really should have agreed to his project lead convincing him to apply for a vacation leave for at least a day off before this new project started.
"I can help you with that." Seokjin says, and Jimin hasn't had the time to process this before he feels Seokjin reaching over and turning his laptop to face Seokjin. "Huh, I've done some of these before."
"Hyung, I--" Jimin tries to protest, but Seokjin's already beaten him to it with a firm shake of the head.
"It won't take that long, Jiminnie." Seokjin says, reaching over to pat him on the head. "Trust me, I've done this several times before."
"I hope I'm not being a bother to you." Jimin says, sheepish. This isn't the first time Seokjin's helped him with his workload, and this isn't the first time Seokjin's moved over to sit next to him while working instead of staying in his assigned desk. Jimin feels something wrench in his gut, like his feelings growing or something.
"Of course you're not." Seokjin says, and Jimin sees him forward the email containing the test procedures to his own email address. "And we can go home together!" Seokjin presses send, and gives Jimin's laptop back to him. "It's more fun to go home when you're with someone."
Go home when you're with someone.
Jimin feels that thing in his gut again. Maybe it's a heart boner.
There’s just enough room for 8 people in the van, and yet Jimin tries to make himself small by squishing himself next to the window. Right next to him is Seokjin, and he could smell Seokjin’s perfume that he could only do so much to stop himself from hugging Seokjin and cozying up to him.
“Aren’t you excited to be back in Busan?” Seokjin asks him, and Jimin hates how he’s just so casual and calm about everything while Jimin is suffering in the background just because he wants to kiss Seokjin’s pretty lips and hold his pretty face.
Jimin takes a deep breath, looking at the window instead. “I am.”
“You don’t look like it.” Seokjin observes. Jungkook says something from beside Seokjin, but Jimin doesn’t quite catch it. Seokjin turns around for a moment to tell him something and Jungkook goes back to rummaging through his backpack, yelling in victory a moment later when he finds a bottle of sunscreen. “You’re literally gritting your teeth.”
Jimin shakes his head. Behind them, Namjoon and Yoongi are arguing about the history of Lego and in front of them Hoseok drives while Taehyung helps him navigate with his phone. “It’s nothing.” He says. Seokjin’s bare knee brushes against his thighs as Seokjin moves around to look for his bag, and Jimin clenches his fists. He should have done something to knock himself out right away so that he doesn’t have to suffer from having to convince himself that he is getting more than just butterflies in his stomach with Seokjin next to him. Or maybe Seokjin shouldn’t have made it so that he smelled so good and looked so good, even in khaki board shorts and a tank top.
“Want some jellies?” Seokjin procures a bag of gummy bears from his bag and offers Jimin some
“T-thanks.” Jimin says, taking a few gummies despite his initial surprise. Gummy bears and gummy worms were Seokjin’s comfort food and he would eat them whenever he needed to calm down and think, which is why nobody messes with Seokjin’s gummies. He must be in a really good mood today to the point that he’s sharing them with everyone, passing it up to Hoseok and Taehyung in the front seat and Namjoon and Yoongi at the back.
Minutes later, the van is quieter. Taehyung is playing some lo-fi music up front while Namjoon and Yoongi have started to talk in lower, quieter tones. Seokjin and Jungkook are involved in a mobile game. With nothing left to do except control his urge to hold Seokjin’s hand and kiss him maybe, Jimin leans his head against the window and lets the constant rumble of the car engine lull him to sleep.
“Hey, Jimin. I think we’re here.” Jimin is woken up by Seokjin’s breath in his ear, and his breath hitches in his throat when he realizes that Seokjin’s face is only inches from his.
“Sorry!” He says, hurriedly pulling himself away from Seokjin’s shoulder. Suddenly he’s very awake and very aware of every nerve on his body, every fiber of his being.
When their team’s van pulls up in front of his house, Jimin momentarily forgets himself and just flings the door open, hurrying over to meet his parents.
“Appa! Eomma!” He runs up to the old couple waiting for them by the gate, pulling both of his parents into a hug. “These here are my teammates!” He says, and introduces them as they start exiting the van one by one.
“Why don’t you all come inside first for lunch? We’ve prepared some food.” Jimin’s dad says, ushering them in.
“Ah, you didn’t have to.” Jimin says, but he’s grinning. He really loves his dad’s roasted fish and his mom’s seafood pasta and he wishes to share those with his teammates. As a kid, he believed that if more people could only taste his parents’ cooking, the happier the world would be.
“Of course we had to. It’s not always that our eldest son comes back home to visit!” His mother hugs his side, and he puts his arm around her to squeeze her shoulder. He smiles at her apologetically. He hasn’t been home much since started working, most of his time spent working in his cubicle in the office. He does text them everyday and calls them at least once a week, but technology couldn’t be suffice to replace the warmth of his parents’ hugs.
It’s in his rush to become independent and successful that he’s forgotten how much he missed home and having that quick reassurance that his family has his back.
“Say, why don’t you just stay here instead of camping outside? It’s much more comfortable.” She says in a hushed tone.
“It’s okay mom, we’ve been wanting to camp out for a long time.” Jimin smiles. “ Besides ,” Jimin thinks as they head inside. “We don’t have much space inside and Jihoon would hate me if we so much as move the table aside in his room.”
"I can't believe you were able to convince my dad to let us use the grill. He won't even let me touch it, ever!" Jimin marvels as he helps Seokjin load the griller his father lent them in the van so they could take it to the beach.
"A part of my charm." Seokjin winks, and it's kind of uncharacteristic for a guy with a face of someone who came straight out of a shoujo manga to make cheesy winks like that, but Seokjin was Seokjin, and no matter what cheesy antics he’s always up to, Jimin's already fallen for him anyway.
"And you also somehow managed to convince my mom to lend us two ice boxes?" He gestures at the ice boxes Jungkook and Taehyung are carrying. Behind them, Namjoon and Yoongi are talking to his parents, looking like they’re in a PTA meeting discussing their kids.
"Oh that--well I didn't need to tell her anything." Seokjin laughs, before being cut off by Jungkook’s and Taehyung’s loud grunts as they load the ice boxes in the back of the van. Hoseok leaps out of the front seat and runs toward them to check on their baggage.
"Kim Seokjin, you work like a charm." Jimin remarks.
"Maybe I am a charm." Seokjin winks again. Jimin rolls his eyes and playfully slaps Seokjin on the arm, but he knows Seokjin wins this time (as he always does)
It wasn't a cosmic kind of love--like when his eyes meet Seokjin's, everything starts to make sense. As if the planets begin to align, and he realizes that everything that had happened was all that led up to this moment.
It was more of like a summer's day--how Seokjin's smile is always warm, and how his touches, light and feathery, leaves something electrifying under Jimin's skin; his gazes, always leaving Jimin flustered and feeling hot.
"Woah, I can't believe there are still fireflies in this part of town!" Seokjin says, and Jimin can't help but smile at the look of wonder on his face. Seokjin's smiles are genuine, his reactions so pure and full of life.
After a long day of swimming at the beach and playing, they wound up resting by the trees while waiting for the meal that Yoongi and Jungkook promised to cook for them.
Namjoon is up ahead, still trying to skip rocks with Taehyung’s help. Hoseok is going around taking pictures and videos of them, like little mementos that they can keep for this trip. They don’t look like they’ve noticed the fireflies yet.
Sometimes Jimin wishes he could be as carefree as Seokjin. He wishes he didn’t live his life so fiercely, persevering to graduate with honors from grade school until college and getting his hands on all of the extracurricular activities to get more brownie points on his resume. He wishes he could find it in himself to just sit back and enjoy the moment, like Seokjin always tells him to do.
"It's Busan." Jimin says, as if it is enough of an explanation.
"There's so many things here that you can't find in Seoul. I wish I grew up somewhere like this." Seokjin says, leaning back on his arms. He looks up as a firefly zooms past his face, flying upwards.
Jimin hugs his knees closer to his chest, observing the way the soft glow from the fireflies light up Seokjin's face. The sounds of the city seem so far away now, the light of his computer screen waiting for him to start his day with another work item feeling like a distant thing from the past. "Funny how us kids from around here wished to get away from here our whole lives, while city kids want to live a life like ours."
Seokjin shrugs. "A part of being human, I guess. Wanting the things that we don't have, or can't have, and ignoring the things that we already do have."
Seokjin is handsome--that is probably an undeniable fact. Jimin hasn't met anyone who ever dared say Seokjin wasn't handsome. Even Seokjin knows how handsome he is; is aware of how, when people look at him, they sometimes think he's a model, or an actor. The last thing on their minds would probably be Seokjin working from 9 to 6 everyday in a software development company.
And yet somehow, when the fireflies flit past him, highlighting his side profile in red and blue and green, Jimin stops to look, his breath caught in his throat.
He blames it all on the fireflies.
Thankfully Jimin and Jungkook have already set up their tents earlier and after dinner, it’s straight to bed for Yoongi and Namjoon (who looked like they’ve been joined at the hip ever since they started drinking), while Taehyung calls Hoseok over to help with washing the dishes.
“Now’s your chance.” Jungkook nudges Jimin, pointing at Seokjin who’s sitting under the shade of a tree, looking at something on his phone.
“What?” He tries to look innocent about it but Jungkook only laughs, nudging him towards Seokjin’s direction.
“I know you like Seokjin hyung.” He whispers.
Jimin whips around in surprise, grabbing Jungkook’s arm and shaking his head. “I--”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell.” Jungkook grins, and Jimin is grateful that out of all the people to notice, it’s Jungkook. He may purposely annoy them at times just for fun, but everyone knows he has a kind heart. “I’ll just keep the other hyungs out of your way.”
“Thanks, Kook.” Jimin says, bumping his fist lightly with Jungkook’s arm.
“You owe me some snacks though.” Jungkook laughs, and Jimin does too. “Go on.” He nods at Seokjin’s direction.
Jimin takes a deep breath. If there’s something he learned from their team’s maknae, it’s to try and take a risk.
There’s nothing much to lose anyway, right?
“Hey hyung.” Jimin takes a seat next to Seokjin under the tree. In front of them, the waves are angrily lashing out at the shore, lapping up the sand.
“Hey Jimin.” Seokjin looks up from his phone and tucks it back in his pocket. There’s that look in his eyes again, like there’s some great distance between where his thoughts are and where he is right now.
“Whatcha thinking about?” The thing with Seokjin is that at work he is full of life and is encouraging of everyone. But beyond their cubicles and pantry talks, Jimin realizes that he doesn’t know much about Seokjin. Sure he knew Seokjin’s favorite color is pink and that he likes playing online games on the weekends, and that he has an older brother.
The team has gathered in Seokjin’s apartment once before, and even after seeing Seokjin’s childhood photos, there’s still a lot about Seokjin that Jimin still hasn’t found out. Somehow, it made Jimin want to get to know him more.
“Not much, I just…” Seokjin sighs, leaning back against the tree. “I guess even though I try to deny it, the truth is living life as an adult is so not cool.”
“Not up to your expectations?” Jimin pulls his knees up to his chest, eyes focused only on Seokjin.
“Not really. You know, when I was a kid, I always thought I’d be a cool adult; that I’d never lose sight of the things I wanted even though I’m working to make money. That I won’t lose sight of the things that are actually important. But in the end, I guess I still turned out to be one of the things I promised I wouldn’t be.” Seokjin sighs deeply, looking at the sea as if he’s missing something or someone. Like an old lover, or a past self. Jimin could feel Seokjin’s words touch him even if their eyes didn’t meet.
“Someone who codes for a living?” Jimin supplies.
“Close, but not quite.” Seokjin glances at him this time, head cocked to the side and eyebrows furrowed. “I’m a boring adult.”
“I don’t think you’re boring at all, hyung.” Jimin says, a small smile on his lips.
Seokjin blinks, like he wasn’t expecting Jimin to say that at all. “Really?”
“Really. I think you’re the coolest person I’ve ever met.”
It wasn't a cosmic kind of love--like when his eyes meet Seokjin's everything makes sense.
But what Jimin does know is that when Seokjin holds his hand, lips curved into an amused smile and eyes never leaving his, everything feels right.
Jimin leans in, and Seokjin hesitates for a moment before swooping in and kissing him, urgently, fervently, like all they have is today.
Jimin holds Seokjin’s face in his hands as Seokjin’s hands slip down his waist, rubbing up against his sides.
When they finally pull away for air, gasping for breath, Jimin buries his face in Seokjin’s neck, inhaling his scent. “I’ve always wanted to do this.” And then, because he’s feeling a bit braver now, he says, “I’ve always liked you.”
Seokjin freezes in his arms, and when he looks back up at Seokjin’s face, Seokjin’s expression is unreadable.
“Shit, Jimin. I’m--I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He covers his face with his hands, groaning.
“What’s the matter?” Jimin asks, slightly shaking Seokjin by the shoulders.
“I shouldn’t--we shouldn’t have done that.”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
Seokjin runs his hands across his face, looking completely distressed. “You’re a nice guy, Jimin. That’s why I like you. But you don’t deserve this.”
“Tell me.” Jimin pleads.
“I just broke up with my girlfriend a few months ago and to be honest, my feelings are kind of all over the place right now. I--” Seokjin looks away, back at the sea, and Jimin could feel a rift between them starting to form, forcibly ripping them apart. “I’m not sure if I’m ready yet.”
Jimin is quiet for a moment, his brain still trying to absorb this information. All this time Seokjin had a girlfriend and he didn’t know; didn’t have any idea at all.
All this time, Seokjin probably didn’t think of him as more than a colleague, and he didn’t know. He feels like he’s on a different scale for a fool right now. “Is that it, then? Am I just a coworker to you?”
“Jimin…” Seokjin’s eyes are asking for Jimin to understand him, but when he reaches out, Jimin flinches.
“I like you, hyung.” Jimin licks his lips and runs his fingers through his hair, disbelief still clear in his system. “I like you so much I don’t even know what to do with myself sometimes.”
Then, in a quieter voice, he adds. “Did you really regret what happened?”
“I’m sorry.” Seokjin says again. It doesn’t take Jimin long enough to realize that it’s never going to happen. He stands up and starts walking away, knowing now what it feels like to have loved and lost.
His heart is heavy and his eyes are glassy, but he manages not to look back.
Jimin could only wish it was some cosmic kind of love.
But it wasn't.
Jimin is almost late for work and he rushes to the elevator, barreling through the closing doors.
Seokjin reaches for the elevator button to the 20th floor at the same time, and they stare at each other for a beat before Jimin realizes where he is and looks away a beat too late.
"Hi," Seokjin presses the elevator button to close the doors but sticks to his side of the elevator, and Jimin moves farther from him to the other side.
"Hi." He says in response, not risking another glance back at Seokjin because he knows he’s too weak and he might end up staring longer, and falling even harder.
It was awkward. Too painfully awkward. And Jimin’s not even halfway through getting over Seokjin that it kind of physically stings, his hands twitching and his lips itching from wanting to talk to Seokjin or acknowledge him in any way possible.
"See you around." Seokjin says, waving at him before walking out of the elevator first.
"Yeah, see you." Jimin says quietly to his retreating back.
Once upon a time, Jimin fell in love.
Once upon a time, he wished he hadn't.