Jungkook has impulse control issues and a big heart, and those two things in combination are more dangerous than he'd like to admit. Not dangerous like, life-threatening, because usually his friends are there to audit his choices in real time, but dangerous in terms of consequences. Consequences are the silent killer, he's pretty sure.
His latest consequence starts on Dinner Night after the dinner part, when they're all full and a little wine-tipsy and cordoning themselves off to catch up in the pods of people who see each other least. Jimin's cornered Yoongi on the couch to grill him for secrets about the girl group he's producing an album for, Taehyung's sitting on Namjoon's lap on the recliner to keep him from escaping as they scroll through all of their fashionable selfies, and Seokjin and Hoseok are having a normal conversation at the breakfast bar like boring adults, though Hoseok's wine flush is very strong.
Jungkook, for his part, is starfished on the living room floor testing his jaw strength against Yeontan, Taehyung's dog. It was Yeontan's idea, really, since he'd brought his growly pull rope over to him without even being prompted, though from the looks Namjoon's shooting him he gets the feeling that most people don't stick dog toys in their mouth.
But he never backs down from a challenge, and honestly Jungkook could easily be destroying this dog but he likes Tannie to feel like he's doing a good job, so every once in awhile he lets go and makes a disappointed sound until the Pomeranian trots back over to give him the rope and try again.
The conversations happening around him are mostly background blur, really, like overlapping speech fragments on the bus, and Jungkook doesn't make the effort to try to parse them out. He doesn't need to catch up with them all because as the only one who's still in college he sees them constantly as he rotates through their apartments for nicer showers, well-stocked cabinets, and cuddling whenever the pressures of memorization are too much to handle.
But every once in a while distinct words come to him, buffeted on alcoholic winds, and he smiles at the snatches he hears. Or he mostly smiles, until Jimin's voice floats over on a tequila buzz and narrows his focus. "You have to stop going out with losers, man."
"My last three dates were ones you set up," says Yoongi dryly.
Jimin doesn't miss a beat. "And why would you trust me? I haven't had a long-term relationship since college. And you know I save all the good men for myself!"
Yoongi laughs, dark and harsh and slightly cynical, and Jungkook clenches so hard he accidentally rips the rope away from Yeontan's grip. That wasn't a good laugh, not from Yoongi, and his personal threat assessment levels are rising.
"Yeah, well, desperate times," says Yoongi. "But honestly, it's not even the relationship shit. I'm too fucking busy for one anyway. But is there anyone left on the planet who knows how to do a decent first date?"
"No," says Seokjin, interrupted from his conversation with Hoseok. "You'll recall that Taehyung took me to a children's tap-dancing recital. We didn't even know any of the children involved. We almost got arrested, plus the kids were all really lousy dancers."
Taehyung grins and twists around. "You loved every minute of it. Especially when you thought you were going to get for-real cuffed."
Seokjin falls suspiciously quiet, and Hoseok giggles into his wine glass.
"I would rather be for-real arrested than sit in another coffee shop listening to a melancholy guitar and trying to remember the name of whatever guy is talking to me about the Avengers," says Yoongi. He looks down at the floor and adds, "Unless it's Iron Man. He's the only good one."
"Damn straight," says Jungkook, smiling, though it's absent as a plan begins to coalesce in his brain. It's hazy, still, just the beginnings of ideas, but it goes a little something like this:
Jungkook's friends are all older, and they're always taking care of him. This is good, because Jungkook likes to be taken care of. But when he can he takes care of them back, like lifting Jimin up to reach high shelves, or finding Namjoon's missing earbuds at random places around his apartment, or being Hoseok's choreography guinea pig. That's also good, especially because it means he can steal as much food as he wants and he doesn't have to feel guilty about it.
But there have always been two tough nuts to crack, Seokjin and Yoongi. Seokjin he'd eventually come to a tenuous understanding with, which was that Seokjin won't accept any form of actual care but he will accept a lot of surprise boxing matches, so Jungkook has gotten very inventive with his ambushes. It's not exactly the right exchange, and doesn't fully make up for the amount of food Seokjin has personally cooked for him, but at least it's something.
Yoongi remains a complete mystery. He helps Jungkook maybe more than any of the rest of them, with advice and meals out and giving him quiet places to study or proofreading his papers whenever he needs a set of eyes, but he never seems to need any help himself. Yoongi's too competent, Jungkook's come to realize, and when he's not competent he's inventive. Before Jungkook can swoop in to carry his newest heavy piece of production equipment up the stairs, he's located several dollies and charmed his way into the service elevator. If he gets hungry and Jungkook takes him to barbecue, somehow Yoongi's always paid for it before Jungkook's aware that the meal is over. He won't even accept piggyback rides on the way home from the bar, no matter how sleepy and small he looks.
It's very irritating to be thwarted so constantly, especially because Yoongi always smiles and says, "Don't worry about it, Jungkook-ah," whenever Jungkook voices his complaints, but this. This is something that Yoongi can't do on his own, and probably can't laterally think his way out of and stop Jungkook from helping him. A true problem. His chance!
He picks up Yeontan and rolls onto his back, rubbing his nose against the dog's in quiet glee until Namjoon asks if he's okay.
"I'm great," says Jungkook, laughing when Yeontan barks at him and wiggles free. "I'm great!"
"You're certifiable," says Seokjin. "Anyway, Yoongi, there's a guy who works at the restaurant that I can set you up with. He goes to the same school as Jungkook -"
"No way," interrupts Yoongi. "No college kids. They've either just discovered Ayn Rand or want to become idols and either way I end up having to climb out of a bathroom window to escape."
Jungkook frowns, both in concern for his mission and in the effort of figuring out if he's ever had classes with this Ayn Rand person. He doesn't know a lot of foreigners.
"Jungkook is the only college kid worth knowing at all," Yoongi finishes, and Jungkook relaxes very slightly and goes back to his brilliant idea ball.
Jimin sighs with him, shaking his head. "If he's your benchmark for quality, I think you're really in trouble."
"Hey!" says Jungkook, doing a 360 degree floor spin to kick Jimin in the shin, and then there's a pillow in his face, and the conversation is gone for the rest of the night.
Despite the fact that he's impulsive he's trying to work on it for the sake of Hoseok's blood pressure, so he gives himself a full twelve hours to turn the idea ball over in his mind before he shows up at Yoongi's building with coffees and a smile.
The receptionist takes his coffee and waves him back - Jungkook is a familiar enough sight in the building that they don't even give him a visitor's pass anymore - and he keys himself into Yoongi's studio without bothering to knock.
"Special delivery!" he yells.
As always Yoongi tries very hard not to be terrified by the sudden noise, but Jungkook sees him twitch in his chair before turning around. He takes his headphones off nonchalantly, which Jungkook knows is just covering the time he's taking to get his breathing back to normal, then says, "Good morning. Did you use the company's Starbucks card?"
"Yep," says Jungkook, setting the Americano down on the desk before flopping onto the couch. "And I got something for the desk guy. And I got myself something, but I drank it on the way here."
Yoongi nods, pleased, then takes a sip. "So why are you here? IVY isn't in the studio today if you wanted to meet them, plus you're not allowed to meet them."
"You'd let me if I wanted to," says Jungkook with confidence. He picks up one of Yoongi's trophies and turns it over in his hands, looking at his distorted reflection. "But that's not it. I'm here to ask you something."
"Shoot," says Yoongi. "I've got a busy couple of days but I can read a paper if you need me to. Or you can crash in here today if you need the quiet, I don't have anything on schedule."
Jungkook shakes his head. "Nothing like that," he says. "No, I want to know if you're busy on Saturday night. Around seven."
Yoongi grabs his phone and scrolls through it, then shrugs. "Nothing I can't miss. What's going on?"
"A date," says Jungkook. "With me."
He's still looking at the trophy, captivated by the bend of its light, so he can't see what Yoongi's face is doing. The silence stretches out so long that he picks up a second trophy, clacking them against each other in jagged rhythm, until Yoongi's hand reaches over and gently separates them. "You're asking me out?"
"Mmm," says Jungkook, nodding at the trophies.
There's more quiet, and Jungkook's toes curl up inside his shoes. This is the dangerous part of his plan, the part where Yoongi might just say no outright. It's a real risk, since Jungkook knows perfectly well that he hasn't technically leveled up enough to take on this challenge.
Because the thing is that Jungkook's personally selected main quest has been active for a while, namely: boyfriend Min Yoongi. It started a few months ago, though not in any kind of way. They'd all gone out one night, their standard bar crawl with Jimin leading the way and Hoseok riding drowsily on Jungkook's back after a couple of beers, and Jungkook hadn't really known that anything special was going to happen. He certainly hadn't been looking for it to happen.
But then Yoongi had been teaching him pool in the corner of their last stop, brow furrowed as he said endless words about angles and putting English on the ball that blurred into each other the longer they went on. Jungkook knew even then that it was probably nonsense just by the way Yoongi tapped his fingers on the table as he talked, but he really liked when Yoongi became an expert in something in the span of five minutes. So Jungkook listened happily, and sunk a few balls on his first break, and Yoongi clapped him on the back and told him that it just went to show what good mentoring could do for a youth.
And Jungkook looked down at him, this guy who'd flawlessly rapped an entire Epik High song on their walk here then scolded Namjoon for not doing enough ad libs, and had a smile the size and strength of a jet engine whenever he was unguardedly happy, and Jungkook's brain pinged with the sudden knowledge that he had to boyfriend him, as soon as possible.
Which wasn't immediately, of course. Jungkook is impulsive but he's also great at tactical awareness. There's nothing he's not aware of, and that extends to the dating arena and where he does and doesn't measure up. And a truth about Yoongi is that he's a total catch, way out of Jungkook's league insomuch as he has a league. He's got the coolest job on the planet, and he's really good at it, good enough that he's been talking about getting his own place which is a cost of living level that only Namjoon has achieved so far, and Namjoon is almost famous.
Jungkook is still just in college, not even the best college, and getting middling grades at that. He has a hunch that he's exactly the kind of going-nowhere student that Yoongi really doesn't want to date.
Plus Yoongi is handsome, a quiet and steady kind of handsome that lives on both sides of his skin. It might be the confidence, or it might be the competence, but he's a person that people linger over as he leaves, just to have those few extra seconds of experiencing him. He's handsome when he smiles, and he's handsome when he's serious, and he has a way of looking at someone that makes it really hard to breathe.
And sometimes his eyes crinkle up into this perfect fondness, a soft expression that could make anyone fall in love, so Jungkook's very clued into the fact that Yoongi could do a lot better than the current him.
But even if Jungkook's not at boyfriend level yet, even if he's still gaining life experience and growth potential and a college degree, one date should be doable. A side quest. A night that gets Yoongi out of his cynical space and puts a smile back on his face. It's basically compartmentalization, Namjoon taught him about that, just keeping all the boxes separate. Jungkook can keep all the boxes separate. He's going to do great.
If only Yoongi doesn't turn him down.
He sneaks a glance, and Yoongi's looking right at him, eyes crinkled, and Jungkook's stomach swoops.
"Great!" he says, sitting up and putting the trophies back. "I made reservations at that French place you said you wanted to try. You haven't tried it yet, right?"
"No, but it's kind of expensive -"
Jungkook frowns, and Yoongi stops talking. "Don't worry about it. I've got it handled."
"Sure," says Yoongi. His mouth lifts in a half-smile as he leans back in his chair. "You already made the reservation, huh? That sure of yourself?"
Jungkook puts the trophies back and rubs his hands on his pants before he stands and throws his bag over his shoulders. "A failure to plan is a plan to fail, that's what Hoseok always says. I'll see you Saturday! You can meet me at the restaurant. Seven. I said that, right?"
"You said that," confirms Yoongi.
"Great. Okay. Have a good day. A good week. I hope IVY's tracks all come out the way you want," says Jungkook, backing towards the door. He waves with both hands and reaches behind him for the handle.
"Me too," says Yoongi. He's still watching Jungkook closely, headphones around his neck, and he already looks a little happier than he did the night before which means the plan is working. "Thanks for the coffee, Jungkook-ah. Learn well today."
Jungkook escapes with another goodbye, jogging down the hall and grinning at people as he passes. He takes the stairs down instead of the elevator, full of energy from all of the coffee, and bursts out of the glass doors and onto the sidewalk with a whoop of excitement.
A man in a suit glares at him disapprovingly, but Jungkook just laughs and sprints down the road to the bus stop, backpack bouncing with him. The sun is shining, the dust levels low, and he's got six days to perfectly prepare an entire night.
It's four-thirty on Saturday, and the restaurant isn't technically open, which wasn't part of the plan. Who knew that fancy restaurants closed down in the middle of the day? No wonder they had to charge so much money for their food.
"I'm sorry, sir," says the hostess through the crack in the door. "We're setting up our dinner service now. If you come back in an hour, we can let you in for drinks. But the chef isn't here until six-thirty and we're fully booked tonight…"
She's giving him a sad, pitying look, even though Jungkook is wearing his absolute best shirt and his nice jeans with no holes, and he bristles. "My reservation is at seven. I just wanted to set some things up first. At the table. You know."
"For two and a half hours?" she asks, and he has to admit she has a point. He's got a sketch he did of Yoongi, and a few flowers in a nice vase he stole from Taehyung, and a candle to put on the table, which isn't really two and a half hours of work. Plus as he's looking through the window he can see they already have candles, which is an overlap in resources.
"Do those table candles work?" he asks, pointing.
The hostess looks over her shoulder, and says slowly, "Yes?"
"Okay that's great. I'll just be out here. Oh wait! Can you tell me which table is going to be mine?"
He blinks as she considers, until she eventually sighs and reaches over to her stand to grab a tablet. "Name?"
"Jeon Jungkook," he says.
"Seven o'clock for two? You'll be near the bar. Over there."
She gestures, and Jungkook studies the table carefully. It's against the wall, which means a nice romantic window view, and there's good lighting. It's a bit crowded up against other tables, but that's okay. Yoongi is small.
"Nice. Can you shove it a little bit to the left? Our left, I mean. So that it's centered with the light fixture," says Jungkook. Yoongi loves light fixtures, and this one seems expensive. The hostess looks like she's going to say no, so he hastens to add, "I can do it when you let me in, that's fine. Just let me know when it's time."
He turns around, holding his vase carefully as he scoots away from the door, then bounces up and down as he waits. An hour isn't so long, really. It will just give him more time to visualize the night. Taehyung is big into visualization techniques, swearing that they manifest brighter outcomes, and Jungkook would love to have a bright outcome for Yoongi and his mission today.
It's been about fifteen minutes, he thinks, when he hears the door crack open again. "Are you just going to stand out here?" asks the hostess.
"Yep," says Jungkook, still focused on the image of Yoongi laughing really hard at one of Jungkook's jokes. "Don't worry about me."
"I wasn't -" she says, then stops and swings the door wide. "Look, why don't you just come in? It's fine."
Jungkook slides in and makes a beeline for his table. There are waiters around, polishing and adjusting things, and they give him strange looks that he ignores to focus on his work. He moves the table first, getting it perfectly positioned under the sconce with minute adjustments, then arranges his first date gifts with equally careful precision. When he's done he steps back and surveys with a critical eye, then frowns.
"It's not enough," he says to himself. It looks good, nice and neat, but it's sparse in a way that's making him unhappy.
He thinks hard, pulling together everything he knows about Yoongi and turning it over in his mind like a shiny stone, then snaps his fingers and goes back to the hostess station. "I have to go get some more stuff. Please don't move anything, okay?"
"Sure," she says, barely paying attention as she inspects rolls of silverware. So Jungkook heads out the door, orients himself to a nearby mall, and starts to improvise.
By the time he gets back the place is open, so he doesn't have to ask anyone to let him in. There are people at the sectioned off bar having fancy drinks and appetizers, but the place isn't that full which is lucky for the hostess who says, "Holy shit," as he muscles his way in.
"I'm back," he says. "Thanks for waiting."
"Let me take that," she says, running forward to grab the large plushie that's making it slightly hard for him to see. She looks at it, then him, then says, "Is this your date?"
Jungkook doesn't bother to answer, heading back to the table with all of Yoongi's favorite things. The coffee-smelling air freshener goes next to the flower, which goes next to the extra flowers that he got which are taller and more voluminous, and then underneath his drawing he puts architectural magazines with features on older houses, and next to that some recipe cards for adventurous chefs. The last is maybe not exactly Yoongi, but he was working with limited options and limited funds, so he's doing his best. He'd had to leave the vinyls he'd found behind if he wanted to pay for dinner and also eat for the rest of the month, so that was already non-optimal.
He spins around and takes Kumamon from the hostess, settling it against Yoongi's chair and arranging it at the cutest angle. He checks his phone and sees that it's half past six, which means it's officially go-time.
"Thank you," he says to the hostess. "Can I sit in the front until my date gets here?"
She nods, then smiles and says, "This must be some anniversary for you two."
"Oh no, it's a first date," says Jungkook, and her eyes flick to the table and back to him a few times before the door opens and she has to go do her job.
Yoongi is ten minutes early, which makes Jungkook drop his phone on the ground when Yoongi says hello. A bad start.
But there's no resets here, so he picks it up with a flourish like it was intended all along. It gives him a few extra seconds to get the dry out of his mouth because Yoongi looks really good, hair soft and lightly styled, pressed slacks that fit him perfectly under a nice dress shirt and jacket. He's not wearing a tie, which Jungkook is glad of, since Jungkook's attempt at putting on a tie had ended in general failure, but he looks sleek. Well-groomed. Fancy.
Jungkook shakes his head and focuses on this quest: a perfect first date, beginning right now. "Good evening," he says, very formally, and Yoongi smiles. "You look really nice."
"So do you," says Yoongi. His eyebrow quirks. "I rate the good jeans, do I?"
Jungkook can't stop a laugh before he schools himself into the appropriate solemnity and turns to the hostess. "Is our table ready? Jeon Jungkook, for two."
The hostess looks at Yoongi, almost like she's going to say something to him, but seems to change her mind. "Of course, sir. This way."
She leads them through the tables, Yoongi behind her and Jungkook bringing up the rear, and he shakes his legs to get his extra energy out as he walks. He also monitors Yoongi carefully for the minute he sees the table, but he doesn't need to because Yoongi stops in his tracks the second they're in range.
"Here you are," says the hostess. "Please enjoy your dinner."
Yoongi doesn't move, and Jungkook dashes around him to pull out the correct chair. It dislodges the plushie, which he picks up and stuffs against the window, then gestures at the seat in invitation.
He can see Yoongi's face now, which is wide-eyed and very pink, and Jungkook falters. "Is it okay?"
"Is this -" says Yoongi, then falls silent.
Jungkook shrugs like things are chill even though his hands are excruciatingly sweaty. "I got here a little early and I wanted you to have some things you liked to see you through dinner in case I'm a terrible date."
Yoongi's eyes soften as he looks over everything again. "I don't think that's going to be a problem," he says. "But thank you, Jungkook-ah."
He finally lets Jungkook settle him in his chair, then sit across from him, and then they're just looking at each other over a candle glow and Jungkook knows his smile probably looks goofy but he just can't help it. Yoongi touches the petals of his bouquet with a long, curious finger, and Jungkook gets a couple of goosebumps.
The hostess waits a beat, then says, "Would you gentlemen like a glass of wine to start? On the house."
She winks at Jungkook, who's suddenly realized he forgot to research wines before he got here like an idiot, but luckily Yoongi rattles off some French-sounding words that gets her nodding and leaving, and then it's just them.
"So," Jungkook says, reading off of his mental index cards of first date questions. "What are your hopes and aspirations?"
Yoongi chuckles and plays with his earring, a medium dangle that Jungkook's never seen before. "We're not strangers. You don't have to play a part," he says. He lifts one of the magazines. "A stranger wouldn't have known to get me the special edition of Architecture Today. So why don't we just talk? How did your anatomy exam go this week? I haven't seen you since Monday."
Jungkook lights up, and by the time the wine and menus come he's filled Yoongi in on all of his academic pursuits, making him laugh twice, and he's doing an excellent job of witty conversation if he says so himself.
The rest of the dinner unfolds just as perfectly, though Jungkook has to admit that's largely due to Yoongi. Yoongi is cool, and Yoongi is sophisticated, and Yoongi knows all about French dishes and which ones Jungkook would like. He also knows more about wine than Jungkook realized, which is a very lucky break. Their conversation flows easily, just the same as always, and Jungkook even gets to learn a little bit about traditional Korean architecture when he prods Yoongi into flipping through his magazines.
Yoongi knows how to make things he's interested in interesting to other people, it's one of his pieces of magic, and by the main course Jungkook's half-convinced to give his kinesiology degree a miss and switch to civil engineering just to give him the tools to make Yoongi wave his hands around in the air in excitement when he speaks.
When they're done they're both a little overfull of wine, and Yoongi's getting very passionate about the evolution of Joseon sensibilities in roofing design when the waiter stops by to ask if they'd like dessert.
"No, we have other plans," says Jungkook. "We'll take the check please."
"We do?" says Yoongi.
Jungkook bites his lip. "Unless you want the night to be over."
The waiter pauses in his collection of their plates.
"No," says Yoongi, very quickly. "No, not at all. I just didn't realize you'd planned anything else."
Jungkook rolls his eyes. "Of course I did. This is going to be the best first date you've ever been on."
The waiter makes a noise and scurries away, but Yoongi only smiles and excuses himself to go to the restroom. He takes Jungkook's sketch and folds it gently into his inside jacket pocket before he leaves, which makes Jungkook's chest swell up like a bird's.
As soon as he's out of earshot, the hostess swings by the table. "I hope you had a good dinner."
"Yes!" says Jungkook. "Really good. Thanks for all the help."
"My pleasure," she says. "But I've been told you're planning to go elsewhere?"
"Sorry," says Jungkook. "This is a super nice restaurant, but you don't have ice cream cones or a river walk."
She smiles, really big, and Jungkook doesn't know what it means so he smiles back.
"That's true," she says. "But I was thinking that all of your… gifts might be difficult to carry around for the night."
Jungkook's eyes widen, and he looks down at the plushie in horror. The plan! Kumamon hadn't been in the plan, and now Jungkook's going to have to carry around a big stuffed animal all night, which will occupy all of his hands. His hands are essential to a successful gold star mission rank, and for holding ice cream.
"If I may," she says soothingly, "we could keep them here, in the back, and you could retrieve them before you go home. Assuming you're here before eleven."
"Yeah, yeah, we can be back by then," says Jungkook, checking his phone. "That's so nice of you, thank you! You don't have to be so nice."
"Nonsense," she says, waving her hands, and their waiter and a busboy appear to carefully scoop up all of the gifts and give him the bill. She smiles at him again as she picks up the flowers, then adds, "Good luck in wooing your young man, Jungkook."
She leaves before Jungkook can explain that this isn't the wooing quest, it's the one where he gives his friend a perfect first date, and Yoongi's back on silent feet. He blinks down at the table, a little owlishly, and says, "Where are my gifts?"
His lips push into a pout as he looks around, and Jungkook's breath comes slightly shorter when he hastens to explain. "The restaurant is holding onto everything while we do the next part. We'll come back and get them later."
"Ah," says Yoongi. "Good thinking. You really planned this out."
"I did," says Jungkook, carefully not mentioning all of the things he didn't actually plan. "I've already paid, so we can head out. How does ice cream sound?"
"Good, as long as I buy."
Jungkook protests, saying that's not how a date works, but Yoongi stands firm. "My ancestors will haunt me if I don't," he says stubbornly, poking Jungkook in the sternum. "I don't have time to be haunted."
He looks up, eyes glassy, and Jungkook laughs. "You're drunk!"
"I'm not drunk," says Yoongi. "The wine was good. Let's go."
He marches out of the restaurant, thanking the staff as he passes, and Jungkook rushes to follow so that he can open the door for him as he should. He calls out another thanks to the hostess, who gives him a discreet encouraging gesture, and Jungkook leads Yoongi out into the night.
"I should have gotten you a dog calendar," laments Jungkook as they walk. The river is pretty tonight, dancing moonlight and the glow of high rise windows gleaming off its surface, and the slight breeze is almost as cooling as the ice cream. "I can't believe I didn't think of dogs! Biggest failure ever."
Yoongi takes another kitten-lick of his cone and laughs. "You thought of a lot of things. Don't worry about it."
"At the very least I could have asked your brother for a picture of Holly to show you. That would have been so good."
"Text him now, if you want," says Yoongi, shrugging.
Jungkook tightens his grip on Yoongi's hand and shakes his head. "My hands are occupied. I'll just have to live in shame."
Yoongi looks down at their intertwined fingers and swings their hands experimentally. "Yeah, I guess they are, aren't they?"
His voice is curious, and maybe a little pleased, and pride courses through Jungkook despite his dog mistake. "Are you having a good time?"
Yoongi hums. "I am. Not that that's a surprise. I always like spending time with you."
The moon is strong enough that his pink cheeks are visible, and Jungkook has to resist the urge to pinch them and make a joke, like he'd do if it were all of his friends together. Instead he takes a bite of his ice cream cone, regrets it when his teeth explode in pain, then mumbles, "Me too," around the mouthful like he's not in agony. "Do you want to sit on the benches for awhile? Watch the boats?"
Moonlit bench-sitting is the final phase of a great date, as everyone on the internet apparently knows. And if he's brave he'll put his arm around Yoongi's shoulders, and tuck him into his side, and play with the dangling earring that's been taunting him all night. He's not sure he'll be that brave, but in the name of creating a perfect first date he's at least going to give it a shot.
Yoongi's hand squeezes an agreement, and it's getting a little sweaty in there but Jungkook wouldn't have it any other way. When they get to the bench and settle in, still just holding hands, Jungkook says quietly, "So what are your dreams and aspirations?"
There's a long moment of silence - after Yoongi snorts a laugh anyway - and Jungkook watches a party boat floating past as he waits. A snatch of music travels across the water, something bright and cheerful, and Yoongi settles back against the bench and kicks his foot towards the sound. "That, I guess. Make more music. Better music," he says. "It's where I feel most at home."
"You're really good at it," says Jungkook. "That's so cool, you know. That you have a job where you feel at home doing it. I don't think a lot of people get that."
"It's still hard sometimes, but yeah. I'm lucky," says Yoongi. He finishes off his cone delicately, then takes his and Jungkook's napkins and wads them up in his free hand. "What about you? Still worried about your degree?"
"Always," says Jungkook mournfully. "There are parts of it I like, and parts I don't. I wish I were smarter."
"You're very smart. Don't talk yourself down, Jungkook-ah."
Jungkook blushes. "Thanks. But it's not just that. It's just… I don't feel like I'm a whole person yet. Like I see all of you guys, you and Seokjin and Jimin and even Tae, and it's like, wow. You've got it all figured out. But I don't have anything figured out. I'm always behind."
Yoongi hums. "I think that's inevitable, since you're the youngest. Life stages come with age, and you don't have to rush them. Be twenty-three as hard as you can. You'll be twenty-seven soon enough, and then I'll be ancient."
He smiles as he says it, looking over at Jungkook, and Jungkook wrinkles his nose back.
"For what it's worth, I don't feel like you're behind," says Yoongi. "You have things way more together than I did when I was your age. I didn't even go to college. I just had my music, and somehow it turned in to other people's music, and now I have a career but it wasn't any kind of plan. I didn't have anything figured out. I still don't. I just keep working, hard, and things fall into place. And you work just as hard, on a steadier path, so things will work out for you, too."
"You can't know that," complains Jungkook.
"Sure I can," says Yoongi. "You're that kind of kid. Golden."
"I'm not a kid," says Jungkook on reflex, but his mind is busy puzzling over something. "You said 'other people's music' in a weird way. Your voice got weird. What's up with that?"
Yoongi mutters something that sounds like, "Perceptive brat," and Jungkook preens inside. He waits, watching Yoongi closely until he sighs. "I might do something with Namjoon soon. Something original. He asked me to feature on his next album."
"Wow, really? Oh my god that's incredible!"
"I'm considering it," says Yoongi defensively. "I don't know if it's a good idea."
"Um, of course it's a good idea," says Jungkook. "Mostly because every idea you have is a good one, but also because your original stuff is awesome! Taehyung still listens to your mixtape whenever he games, he says it gives him energy. He knows all the words. So do I!"
"So I'll have two listeners, at least."
Jungkook laughs. "You'll have way more than that. I hope you do it. Namjoon and Yoongi, rap legends."
"Hardly," says Yoongi, but when Jungkook hugs him he doesn't resist. "Don't tell the rest of them yet, okay? I haven't decided anything."
"Okay," says Jungkook. He waits a beat, then says, "Do you want to have kids?"
Yoongi chokes against his chest, coughing for a few seconds until he pushes away and comes up for air. "What the fuck?"
"It was on the list of first date questions to keep the conversation going!"
"That is a very shitty list," says Yoongi, enunciating carefully. "Throw away that list."
"I already memorized it," says Jungkook. He checks his phone again. "We have to go back to the restaurant soon to get your stuff. Maybe ten minutes."
Yoongi leans a little more firmly into his side and Jungkook reaches up to play with his earring. "Then let's sit here for ten minutes. It's nice."
A bird calls behind them, more couples passing by on their way to nowhere, and Jungkook wonders how many of them are on their own first dates. They're definitely not as good as this one, he's pretty sure. "It's really nice," he says, and when Yoongi's hand finds his again he doesn't even mind the crumpled up napkins between them.
The hostess gives them Yoongi's gifts back when they return, and Jungkook gives her the ice cream budget he didn't have to spend in gratitude. She wishes them a good night, giggling at the sight of Yoongi clutching his Kumamon, and Jungkook orders them a cab back to Yoongi's place. He's not going to go in, even though he usually would, because despite how Yoongi keeps reminding him that they know each other too well to follow standard first date rules Jungkook is definitely going to follow this one.
But he also has to kiss Yoongi goodnight, and alarm bells blare louder in the back of his head the closer they get to the building.
"Are you okay?" asks Yoongi once, looking at him doubtfully. "You're… vibrating."
"I'm fine! Must be the ice cream!" says Jungkook, laughing too loud, and Yoongi's eyes do the crinkle thing before he looks back out at the night. Jungkook's knee jiggles up and down rapidly, and he sits on his hands to stop himself from punching the headrest in front of him. The driver seems more than happy to be rid of them by the time they're there, and Jungkook pays and sends him off while jumping from foot to foot.
"You coming in?" says Yoongi, watching the taillights of the cab fade away. "Hoseok's home tonight, we could watch a movie."
Jungkook frowns. "No. You don't end first dates watching movies with your date's roommate."
"Oh," says Yoongi. "Right. Well, help me carry these things up anyway."
The elevator ride is silent, Yoongi calm and Jungkook ready to bounce off the ceiling. When they make it to Yoongi's door, he sets Kumamon on the ground and looks up at Jungkook, his eyes clear and sparkling. "Thanks. I had a great time."
"Was the restaurant good?" asks Jungkook anxiously.
"Definitely," says Yoongi. He looks around him with a smile. "Plus I don't think I've ever come back from a date with so much loot before."
Usually Jungkook would celebrate that win with a victory dance, but for now he just swallows heavily. He's executed his entire plan nearly flawlessly, but this is the real test. The final boss. The moment where he can finish off the best first date Yoongi's ever had and give him something back for all the things he's given Jungkook over the years. And get Jungkook's attention back on the long-term goal, which is leveling himself up to boyfriend material.
Yoongi's lips are very pink, smooth and soft against his pale skin, and Jungkook stares at them with growing confusion as he tries to keep his compartments separate.
"So," they say. "I guess this is good night."
The mental klaxon sounds again because that's too soon. That's the ending line, when they haven't reached the ending yet, so before Jungkook can think about it he steps forward and lowers his mouth to Yoongi's with lightning speed.
Yoongi makes a surprised noise but doesn't pull away, tilting up to meet him instead. He's good at this, better than Jungkook, and this was supposed to be a gentle good night kiss but Jungkook's already deepening it. Making it last. Yoongi relaxes into the pressure, sighing softly, and Jungkook suddenly feels very awkward because his hands are full of things and he can't reach out to draw him closer. It's just their lips touching, like a high school dance, and he flushes with embarrassment while Yoongi keeps kissing him.
Eventually Jungkook shifts the vase to one hand so he can reach Yoongi's waist and tug himself a half-step nearer. To hold Yoongi in place. His hipbones are sharp and sexy under his palm, knobbly in a way that makes them easy to grab onto, and Yoongi hums and opens up just a little bit more. He's inviting Jungkook in, and Jungkook has him pressed against the door with purpose, and holy shit he's making out with Yoongi right here in the hallway of a mid-rise apartment building.
But Yoongi's so sexy, and he doesn't seem inclined to stop, and it's only the knowledge that Hoseok is home and could open the door at any moment that gets Jungkook to break the kiss and take a long step back.
It's almost more unnerving to look at him, because Yoongi's formerly pink lips are red and puffy and a little open as he pants, and the high color on his cheeks is magnificent. Jungkook swallows, then thrusts the flowers between them like a shield. "Here, don't forget these."
Yoongi reaches out and takes them, and Jungkook half-bows as he backs away to the elevators. "Good night. Thanks for coming on a date with me."
"You're welcome," says Yoongi solemnly, but there's amusement hidden inside him. Jungkook did that, put that sparkle back in his eyes, and he hopes he killed that stupid, cynical laugh forever. It's just a date, the only date they'll go on for now because Yoongi doesn't have time for relationships and Jungkook's not high enough level for him anyway, but at least he made him sparkle. Yoongi should always sparkle.
Yoongi keeps watching him as he waits for the elevator to come back, motionless, and when it arrives Jungkook steps in. He gives into temptation and peers around the doors for a last look at Yoongi's back, then squeaks when he's standing with his hand on the doorknob, still looking.
"See you later," says Jungkook, kind of lamely, and then he waves with both hands which is definitely lame.
"Later," echoes Yoongi.
The last thing Jungkook sees, before he pulls his head back into the elevator car and the achievement unlocks, are Yoongi's perfect little teeth as he flashes them goodbye.
Jungkook manages not to think about the mission at all on Sunday, throwing himself into his studies with a manic energy that startles his roommate, but by Monday he can't push it away anymore and texts Hoseok to grab coffee.
By the time he gets to their place Hoseok is already seated, two cups of coffee on the table and his nose in his phone. He shrieks when Jungkook plops down and grabs his with a cheery, "Thanks Hobi!"
"I told you to make noise before you're right next to me," says Hoseok, his hand pressed against his heart. "Thank god I wasn't holding my coffee. Here, I got you some fruit."
He pulls a fruit cup out of the bag next to him and sets it on the table, along with a spoon, and Jungkook lights up. When he opens it, he offers Hoseok the grape on top, which he takes with satisfaction.
"We've raised you well," he says as he pops it in his mouth. "So, what can I do for my favorite bro today, besides give you food and caffeine?"
Jungkook blinks, his mouth full of mango that he hurriedly swallows. "Nothing! Just wanted to say hi. Catch up. See how it's going…"
"Uh huh," says Hoseok. He grins big and leans his head on his hand, his hair falling neatly across his forehead. "Nothing else? Not a single thing on your mind? No questions for me?"
A teasing Hoseok is a twitchy Hoseok, and when his eyebrows waggle up and down and his smile gets even broader Jungkook whines, "Stop it."
"Stop what?" says Hoseok, big eyes shining with mischief. "What do you want me to stop, little Jungkookie?"
"Making fun of me!"
"I would never! So, did you do anything fun this weekend?"
Jungkook scrunches down in his seat and Hoseok laughs, reaching over to ruffle his hair with both hands. "Gah, you're so cute. No wonder Yoongi spent all day yesterday humming to himself."
"He did?" asks Jungkook, perking up.
Hoseok nods, grinning, and says, "Seems like someone gave him a hell of a date. A hell of a good night kiss, too."
Lightning shoots down Jungkook's spine as he remembers those long moments, and he shakes the sparks away with irritation. Yoongi's soft lips are not the point of this exercise. "So he liked it? He had fun?"
"Said it was the best date he'd been on in a long time," says Hoseok, a little more sweetly. More gently, and Jungkook smiles down at his fruit cup. "You did a good job."
"Thanks," says Jungkook. "I'm glad."
"So if, for example, you asked me for coffee to see if you should ask him out again…" says Hoseok, back to mischievous, "in my opinion, you should have done it before you got back in the elevator."
"Oh," says Jungkook, blinking. "No. That's not… I mean, I'm not going to ask him out again."
Jungkook shakes his head, fishing out more mango. "No, of course not. I just wanted to make sure that, you know, it was good. That the date was good. Since it's going to be our only one."
He feels very small under Hoseok's stare, like Hoseok can see right through him. Like Hoseok can see how much he would love to go out with Yoongi every day, to give him a million dates like that first, to wrap him up in the complete boyfriend experience. But Jungkook isn't the complete boyfriend experience yet, not by a long shot, and he's down to convenience store ramyeon and this fruit cup in terms of meals he would be able to provide, monetarily. He doesn't even have a second date outfit, unless he wears his job interview suit.
So that's the reality of the situation, but he's working on it. He's always working on it, and he'll graduate in two months and then he'll hopefully have a job and move in with Jimin and can take Yoongi out to an even fancier restaurant with his first paycheck on a real first date. It's all under control, and the thing with all those little feelings inside his chest is that they've been there for awhile, and they'll probably be there forever, and so he's just going to bide his time until he's grown up a little bit more.
He does wish he didn't know quite so much about the sweet noises Yoongi makes when he kisses, which is a distracting thing to know. But those are the consequences that they're always trying to warn him about, whenever Jungkook decides to do pretty much anything, and he's good at consequences by now. He can wait them out.
But his worst fears come to pass when Hoseok leans forward onto the table and fixes him with a piercing, too-knowing gaze. "Don't you like him?"
"Oh my god," says Jungkook, staring down at his empty wrist, "I totally forgot I have a thing. I have to go."
He stands up quickly, grabbing the fruit cup in one hand and the untouched coffee in the other, and heads for the door. "Thanks for the meal!" he calls over his shoulder. He doesn't dare to glance back, though he can hear the scrape of the chair as Hoseok scrambles to follow him.
"Jungkook!" says Hoseok as Jungkook hits the door, and yep, he's close. "Jungkook wait! What the fuck do you think you're doing? You can't just… Jungkook!"
The last is nearly a scream because Jungkook is now sprinting down the sidewalk, cups bouncing in his fists, and he rounds the corner and accelerates as Hoseok's outraged shrieks fade into the distance.
He avoids Hoseok and Yoongi for a couple of days, and Namjoon too just to be safe. They all talk to each other about everything, and by the next biweekly Dinner Night probably the whole group will know how hopeless Jungkook is but he thinks he's got a few days of cushion before the mockery begins
Instead he goes to Taehyung and Seokjin's place and has dinner, where Seokjin complains about how much Jungkook eats with his chest puffed out. Seokjin even fights with him a little, hits him with various objects, and much like Yeontan Jungkook could easily destroy him but that's not the point of Jungkook and Seokjin so he lets himself get beat up to Seokjin's satisfaction. Taehyung also takes him to an art exhibition the next day, winding him through the halls with their arms linked and making up stories about all of the sculptures they pass.
Spending time with Taehyung and Seokjin is nice, because Taehyung and Seokjin do most of the talking and Jungkook can just sort of follow along and nod, like nothing at all is different about his life or his inside parts. But when he's not with them he's with Jimin, because Jimin is the best at cuddling and sadness. Not that he's sad, Jungkook thinks as he snuggles into Jimin's side on his couch. Not really sad. He's just misplaced his happiness for a moment, left that piece of himself on a bench by the river in another compartment. It will come back eventually.
Jimin's hand strokes through his hair and down his back in gentle rhythm, and he doesn't say anything, and Jungkook can breathe.
By Thursday he feels recovered enough that he can probably see Yoongi again, despite the twist in his stomach at the thought. And really he has to see him now, because he can't have the first time he sees him again in front of everyone else. Not if they'll all know that he impulsively took Yoongi on a date, and kissed him like he's a little bit in love with him, and cracked his own heart down the center in the name of being helpful. And especially not if Yoongi is going to keep looking like he does, and talking like he does, and maybe smile at Jungkook and thank him again for a perfect first date.
No, that seems like too much to handle in front of a group, so he picks up coffee with the company card and heads to Yoongi's studio in the middle of the day. The receptionist greets him like nothing's different, which is a good start, and by the time Jungkook reaches Yoongi's door he's almost convinced himself that nothing is. Side quest over, main quest reactivated, and Jeon Jungkook is back on track.
He balances the coffee in his left arm and keys in the code, then blinks when it beeps angrily at him. He frowns at the panel, thinking back over his movements, but he's pretty sure he entered it right. His next presses are more deliberate, slow and emphatic, and when he gets to the end of the sequence and it beeps at him again he kicks the door in warning.
"Stupid thing," he says, his toes throbbing. "Let me in!"
He tries again, and again, enough times that the system does a series of ten beeps that says he's locked out, and then he gets really mad. This dumb door is broken, and Yoongi's probably mixing something with his usual concentration and doesn't even know Jungkook's out here, and how is he going to get his coffee to him? Yoongi needs his coffee, and Jungkook needs to see him for just a few minutes to make sure that he doesn't throw up or anything, and this door is thwarting him!
He's just settled cross-legged and grumpy on the floor mat, looking up at the camera over the door so Yoongi can see his face whenever he glances at the screen, when the door opens and Yoongi's on the other side. He seems curious, his head cocked to the side, and Jungkook thinks he must look pretty dumb in the giant black hoodie he's swimming in, sitting on the floor of a hallway after being outwitted by a door.
But Yoongi doesn't look dumb. He looks intensely like himself, delicate and fragile around all the strength in his heart, and Jungkook's throat closes slightly as he absorbs him. He looks away as he shoots to his feet and with the coffee, and Yoongi takes it with a very soft thank you.
It's so soft that Jungkook's eyes flit to him in surprise, and he realizes that Yoongi actually looks kind of terrible, despite looking so good. His hair is clumped up and greasy, and the skin under his eyes is bruised and puffy, and his cheeks are sallow instead of their usual porcelain.
"Are you sick?" says Jungkook, suddenly worried. He's not wearing a mask so he's probably not sick, but also he looks sick. "Can I bring you medicine? You shouldn't be working if you're sick."
Yoongi steps back in the room and leaves a space for Jungkook to enter, and he shakes his head. "I'm fine. Just a lot of work this week. Don't worry about me."
He doesn't look at Jungkook when he says it, and Jungkook's anxiety spirals to new heights. "Okay," he says, sitting on the couch and tapping his feet on the floor rapidly. Normal. He needs to be normal to allay suspicion. He looks around for inspiration, then sees the door and remembers. "I think your door is broken. I might have broken it. I put in the code a bunch of times but it wouldn't let me in. And I kicked it."
"I changed the code," says Yoongi. He takes a sip of his coffee and clicks around on his computer, saving something probably. "Company request. With IVY in and out so much they asked everyone to update them."
"Oh," says Jungkook, relieved. "Sure, okay. That makes sense. I'm glad it's not broken. What's the new code?"
He pulls out his phone expectantly, opening the Notes app to Yoongi's section.
"We're not really supposed to tell anyone outside the company."
Yoongi's own phone buzzes, and he looks down at the notification, and Jungkook sees Hoseok's name above it. Or more accurately he sees Hoseok's emojis, and he drums his feet against the ground some more.
"Sure, that makes sense," says Jungkook. "You don't want a bunch of randoms coming in off the streets. So what is it?"
There's no answer, and Yoongi cuts a quick glance at him, and Jungkook realizes with a sinking heart that Yoongi means him when he says he's not supposed to tell people.
Which maybe should have been obvious, but Jungkook isn't people. He's Jungkook. He's always known Yoongi's door code, from the first day he got the job, even before Hoseok. Even before Namjoon, who's in and out all the time. One of the universal constants is that Jungkook has the code to Yoongi's favorite, most comfortable place, because he brings him coffee, and it has a couch, and also Yoongi likes having him around. He says Jungkook helps him think.
But not anymore, maybe. Now that Yoongi knows that Jungkook isn't just his youngest friend that he takes care of more than he should but is also a dumb half-baked kid full of mushy admiration and hard-to-describe heart contractions and the desire to boyfriend, maybe he's figuring out that it's not helpful to have him around so much. He's putting just a little bit more distance between them, which is to say any distance at all, and Jungkook might not have compartmentalized as well as he thought.
"Ah, okay," says Jungkook, trying not to sound too small, and he stands up and hefts his backpack over his shoulder. "Anyway, you're super busy so I'll just, I'll get out of your hair. I hope things calm down. And that you get some sleep. Let me know if you need me to bring you medicine, okay? I can do it. Whatever you need."
"Thanks," says Yoongi.
Jungkook's at the door when Yoongi calls his name, and he spins around so quickly he almost falls over. Yoongi's drumming his fingers on his desk, the way he does when he's working through a really difficult problem, and he mutters something under his breath that Jungkook can't hear before he looks up. "You came here for a reason. What can I do for you?"
The words are harsh but his tone is soft, and Jungkook has a sudden urge to sniffle which he shakes his head to dispel. "Nothing. Just to bring you some coffee."
"Nothing?" asks Yoongi, his eyebrow arched perfectly.
And Jungkook suddenly gets it, that this is Yoongi's way of getting them back on track, back into their normal dynamic. It might even mean Jungkook can know the code again someday, can start working that main mission again, so Jungkook casts around for anything to offer up. "Um, I have this paper for my philosophy elective due next week, and I was wondering if you could maybe take a look at it? Only if you're not too busy. Work comes first!"
Yoongi smiles, a reserved, tiny one but still the first smile Jungkook's gotten today, and Jungkook nearly pumps his fist in the air.
"I'm not too busy," says Yoongi. "Send it over. Or bring it to Dinner Night, if it's done."
"It'll be done," says Jungkook with unearned confidence considering he hasn't even started it yet. "Thanks. Okay. So I'll see you Sunday."
"Sunday," Yoongi confirms, and Jungkook walks out with a cautious spring in his step. It disappears when he sees the terrible keypad again, the reminder of the things he's lost, but he reminds himself that he still has hope as he heads to the library to write the best philosophy paper any human has ever written in their life.
Dinner Night is at Yoongi and Hoseok's this week, which Jungkook hadn't considered when he'd worried about what was going to happen. As the elevator opens up to the very hallway where he'd kissed Min Yoongi on the whole mouth - with tongue! - he punches a few times to eradicate his sudden nerves. He keeps jabbing down the carpeted hall, shadow-boxing his past self away from the scene, and by the time he gets to the door and pushes it open he's definitely not thinking about how it felt to press Yoongi against it.
He takes off his shoes and rounds the corner to the living room, where he can hear voices. He's unsurprisingly the last person to arrive because he'd deliberately left fifteen minutes late, but it is a surprise the way they all fall silent when he comes into the room.
Almost like they'd been talking about him.
The silence stretches out uncomfortably, and Jungkook can't really read the mood but also he doesn't need to, because he knows better than anyone what they were saying. He feels transparent, like his feelings are all laid out on the coffee table for them to rummage through, which he really, really hates. So he fidgets, pulling on a loose string from his backpack strap, and tries and fails to say hello.
"Hey, Jungkook-ah, welcome," says Yoongi eventually, and Jungkook tries valiantly to look him in the eye. "You're just in time for dinner."
He gestures to the table, laden with delicious food because when they eat at Yoongi or Seokjin's there's always delicious food, then mumbles, "Just need to go grab some stuff," and bustles off to the kitchen.
"Can I help?" says Jungkook automatically, but before he can move Taehyung gets up and follows, and Jungkook's left with the rest of them. Statues that blink.
Jimin eventually stands and approaches, his eyes full of something like sympathy and something like irritation, but his hug is strong and grounding. Hoseok, Namjoon, and Seokjin continue to stare at him with varying degrees of judgment, so Jungkook buries his face in Jimin's hair and holds on when he tries to pull away.
"Why do you have your backpack?" asks Jimin, slightly muffled by his chest. "This hug is difficult. And painful."
"Oh," says Jungkook, looking towards the kitchen as Yoongi and Taehyung emerge empty-handed. "I brought my philosophy paper for you to look at, if you still have time."
He'd finished it as the sun rose this morning, with the spellchecker doing a lot of heavy lifting, but he'd had a couple of other people read it over just in case and they'd assured him it was coherent. Yoongi nods and holds out his hand, but Jungkook doesn't get a chance to extract himself from Jimin and open his bag before Hoseok is suddenly on his feet.
"You're giving him your fucking homework?" he says, not quite a yell but getting close. "Are you shitting me?"
"Um," says Jungkook, frozen with his hand on the zipper.
"What is wrong -"
"Hoseok," snaps Yoongi. "Don't."
"No," says Hoseok, turning to his roommate. "No. I know what you said, but this is just, no."
Yoongi flicks a glance at Jungkook, just a single one, and his eyes don't crinkle at all. "I asked him to bring it."
"If - if you're busy you don't have to," says Jungkook quickly.
"I'm not busy," says Yoongi, words clipped and short, and Jungkook's not a rocket scientist but he knows better than to believe that.
He shuffles his bag behind him so it's invisible, and he wishes he could shuffle himself behind himself too. Hoseok sounded angry, really angry, and the whole mood of the room is displeased, and Jungkook has a terrible feeling that it's all because of him. Hoseok's not looking at him anymore but Namjoon is, a stern look in his eye, and Seokjin, who's shaking his head. Taehyung's expressionless, but Taehyung's always expressionless when he's feeling the most. Even Jimin's exasperated, his hands on his hips, and the orientation of the room shifts until it's Jungkook on one side, and all of the rest of them on the other.
Yoongi's fists are scrunched up inside his hoodie, and Jungkook doesn't look at them. "No, no, it's okay. A couple of people read it today and they said it was fine, so…"
"Oh," says Yoongi.
Hoseok makes a noise like a teakettle boiling over, and Namjoon puts a hand on his arm. "Maybe that's for the best," he says. "Let's eat."
Seokjin laughs, a little hysterical. "You think we're just going to sit down and eat together? And that's going to be fine? Read the room, Joon."
"Yoongi's made us all a very good meal," says Namjoon, emphasizing the words heavily. Strangely. "He wants us to eat well. Right Yoongi?"
"Yes," says Yoongi, rubbing a hand over his face. "Before it gets cold."
Hoseok stomps over and yanks out his chair with force, muttering under his breath, and Seokjin casts a disappointed look at Jungkook before he follows. Taehyung and Jimin slink into their seats like they're the ones in trouble, and Jungkook is pretty sure his feet are rooted to the ground. He'd thought they were going to make fun of him, a lot, for how he felt about Yoongi, and that was going to be bad but this is so much worse. They're all angry at him, because he's messed up the group with his stupid crush, and that anger is crawling beneath his skin like fire ants, biting and burning wherever it shifts.
It doesn't help that Yoongi looks uncomfortable, too, uncomfortable and miserable. The reminder that Jungkook doesn't know his codes anymore bubbles up from the swampy pit where all his saddest thoughts reside, and Jungkook realizes that he's going to cry.
"Come on, Jungkook, sit down," says Namjoon after a minute, and he's always so gentle but there's an edge to his voice now. Like even Namjoon can't escape the ripples of Jungkook's impulsive decisions.
He reaches out to grab Jungkook's elbow, and Jungkook unroots as he dances away.
"I think I should," he says, taking a deep breath to steady himself as he backs toward the entryway. "I think I should probably go… study. Yeah. Study more. I think that would be good. For me. You guys can eat."
"Good idea," mutters Hoseok.
Seokjin huffs, and Yoongi glares at them both. "You don't have to go," he says. "Really."
"Uh," says Jungkook before his voice gives out.
He flees to the shoe pile and jams his on quickly, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand now that they can't see him. He doesn't bother to do up the laces before he heads into the hall, knowing the elevator will be good for that, and he's waiting for it to arrive when the door opens behind him.
He doesn't want to turn around, so he doesn't, until he feels Jimin's small hand touching his shoulder. That's the best of a lot of bad options, and when he twists he sees Jimin holding a fistful of money. "Make sure you eat something healthy," he says, shoving it in Jungkook's palm. "We'll see you soon, okay?"
"Okay," says Jungkook, taking the money, just because Jimin's face says he's not going to win an argument and it doesn't matter anyway. He's going to eat convenience store food in his room with all the lights off tonight and that's totally fine. "Soon."
Jimin goes back inside before the elevator comes, and Jungkook trips on his shoelace when he gets in but that's also totally fine.
For the next two weeks he doesn't see any of them, because Jeon Jungkook is a master of stealth techniques.
His first act is to hide his phone under his bed and only check it in the morning to make sure he doesn't miss any classes and at night to gather up classmates' messages. His friends he mostly ignores when they text, and because Jungkook never answers texts anyway this is surprisingly foolproof. It's so foolproof that he stops hiding his phone after three days, because he misses his music.
He's helped by the fact that not all of them try to text him in the first place. Hoseok and Yoongi are as silent as he is, and every time he wakes up the screen and sees a distinct lack of their names he feels a little more certain that he's doing exactly the right thing to heal them.
Jungkook's next strategy is quadrupling his number of study groups, both real and imagined. He develops this tactic after he comes home from a real study group one night, tired of thinking about the names of bones, and his roommate informs him that Jimin stopped by and waited for him for an hour before he had to leave. So Jungkook basically lives in the library now, and whenever he does respond to Taehyung or Jimin or even Namjoon asking if he wants to hang out he can just tell them sorry, but he's got a study group to go to.
A group of one person is still a group, he's pretty sure, so it's not even lying.
He also pretends he's hanging out with someone else, when he starts to worry that he's giving too many study-group excuses. Sorry, with Jimin, he becomes very adept at typing, and no one ever questions him even though he's curled up in a desk chair in the coldest corner of the stacks not hanging out with anyone.
He doesn't use that one with Jimin himself, because Jimin remains his toughest enemy and would probably see right through it, but Jimin is also responsible for the final stroke of genius when he messages Jungkook ten days into Operation Stealth Healing with a simple, Are you mad at me?
It's blatant manipulation, which doesn't make it any easier to resist, though Jungkook hangs in for a solid six hours before he replies. What gets him, in the end, is realizing that his friends might really think he's mad at them, when he's just giving them time to forget about being mad at him.
He solves this by getting them gifts that he can anonymously leave where they'll find them without ever having to see him at all. His fund levels are still low, but Jungkook knows how to work systems to his advantage.
Hoseok gets free cologne samples that Jungkook smiles out of the employees of five different stores, and Namjoon is even easier because he likes flowers out of the ground even more than flowers from a store. Seokjin's gift falls into his lap when he passes a martial arts studio with free pamphlets on how to punch, which Jungkook can carefully alter to depict him punching Seokjin in all of the pictures.
Jimin, the idea sparker, receives the face masks that Jungkook's roommate shoved in the back of a drawer and will never use, and Taehyung is gifted a sculpture that Jungkook makes out of the things on top of the dresser when he lets himself into their apartment to leave Seokjin's pamphlets. He signs his name with a flourish on a piece of paper next to it, then sees himself out with a sense of accomplishment that he almost feels like he deserves.
Yoongi is the hardest, though he'd usually be the easiest. Coffee is Jungkook's go-to Yoongi gift and never fails to land, but it's hard to give someone coffee that's delicious without interacting with them, at least when that someone doesn't brew their own. But all the other gifts he thinks of feel like taking his whole heart out and showing it to the world without any protection, and while Jungkook wouldn't mind the embarrassment if it needed to be done, he knows Yoongi is trying really hard to not look at Jungkook's heart these days.
But in the end he really has no choice, not after thinking about Yoongi for two straight days trying to come up with something he'd like. So Jungkook burns a physical copy of his old mixtape, then makes a case that he decorates meticulously, covered in all of the things that make Yoongi a person that Jungkook can easily think about for two straight days.
He signs the back, Always your biggest fan and feels like a complete loser, but the tears welling in his eyes blur the words away and make it better.
Jungkook hands it off to the receptionist in an envelope they supply him, asking them to give it to Yoongi, and when he heads back into the warm sunshine he lets out a shaky breath and walks away with a small ache in his heart.
Dinner Night returns again, obnoxiously, and this time Jungkook knows better than to go in the first place. Most of them sent him thank you texts for their gifts, some short and sweet and others more effusive, and that was nice. He knows that they know he doesn't hate them, and that was his goal. But none of them asked if he was coming this week, most of them giving up on asking him to do much of anything because of his study group situation, so he's going to give it another couple of weeks to finish the healing.
Also he never heard from Yoongi at all.
It's Namjoon's turn in the hosting rotation, which means takeout food and karaoke, and he thinks of it wistfully as he laces up his shoes for a run. His roommate's mom dropped off kimbap this week for both of them, so he's been eating better, but food always tastes nicest when he's with his best friends.
He'll be with them again soon, he thinks as he sets off into the darkening twilight. He just has to be patient.
Jungkook turns his phone off halfway through his run because it starts vibrating like crazy. Texts from all of them, including twenty in a row from Seokjin, and even some live call attempts that Jungkook's definitely not going to answer because he's weak. If they grudgingly ask him to come over, try to give him a cheat to get through the hard part more quickly, he might just take it. He's been lonely, and he wants to see them so badly that his muscles burn with it, but it's not right if he hasn't fixed it himself.
Yoongi fixes things himself, always, and if Jungkook knows anything he knows that he'll never be boyfriend-level if he's still being taken care of by the rest of them like a baby. Self-sufficiency is a part of the skill tree that Jungkook needs to handle if he wants to get to the end. And he's going to get to the end.
The last call he gets before he shuts off the phone is from Yoongi, and that makes him run even faster than he's already running on his route to nowhere.
He's not sure how long he's been going before he realizes that he wasn't going nowhere after all. He'd had a destination in mind, a genius destination to the obvious puzzle he's supposed to solve. A test he can take on to make everything okay.
Yoongi's office building has a night security person, but she knows Jungkook as well as the day shift because of how late Yoongi tends to work. She lets him in without question when he says he's picking up something for Yoongi even though he's sort of sweaty and it's a Sunday night, and Jungkook takes that as a positive sign. He gets in one last hit of cardio as he runs up the stairs, then approaches the studio door with a hammering heart and a focused mind. He finds his center, breathing in and out through his nose in circles like Seokjin taught him, then fixes his gaze on the keypad.
He's got seven tries to crack it.
Each attempt goes in slowly, and deliberately. Yoongi always uses a date as his password, so that helps narrow things down. Yoongi's birthday. Hoseok's birthday. The date of his mixtape release. The day he first got a contract with the studio. Namjoon's birthday. Christmas of this year. And finally, with a strange sort of bubbling in his heart and a fateful tingling in his fingertips, Jungkook's own birthday.
Nothing happens. Or, more accurately, the worst thing happens when he gets the angry, locked-out beeps, and he leans his forehead against the door in anguish. He'd thought for sure it would work. It made so much sense, didn't it? The answer coming to him like magic, an inspirational bolt from the sky to let him know that everything is okay. He really needs everything to be okay, for the consequences to be over and the path to be simple and clear, just like it was before.
He knows now that what he did was stupid, that convincing himself he could slide a single date past destiny when he's still so far away from the person he needs to be was stupid, but surely destiny knows that he didn't mean for it to be stupid. He just wanted to do something nice for Yoongi, who he never gets to do nice things for at all.
But destiny apparently isn't satisfied with that when it caused so much trouble, so Jungkook huddles up on the floor and leans against the door, too exhausted to move. His legs feel slightly wobbly from the long run, and despite the snack he'd had before he set out his stomach is letting him know that it wants some more food. He doesn't have any more food to give it, but that's not stopping it from its incessant wanting.
He's not sure how long he's there before someone shakes his shoulder with rough force and says, "Jungkook? Jungkook, are you okay?"
Jungkook opens his eyes in shock, and Yoongi's very close to him.
His expression changes from panicked to relieved as Jungkook blinks, and he raises his phone to his ear. "I found him. He's fine. Yes, yes, he really is, I - look, no, I've got it, you just tell everyone and get back to Nam - Jimin! Stop interrupting me. Everything is fine, get back to Namjoon's place, we'll be there soon. I don't know how long 'soon' is, if I knew then I would have said a time. Yes. Great. Bye."
He hangs up, rolling his eyes, and quickly dials another number. "Taehyung? I found him, he's fine. But look, Jimin's at Jungkook's student housing and he's being really you know, him, so could you go - right. Yes. Thanks Tae. We'll see you soon. No I don't know how long 'soon' is!"
This time he shakes his head when he disconnects, then finally looks back at Jungkook who's quietly staring, waiting for him to be done so he can explain everything. Yoongi's face softens, and he reaches out to touch Jungkook's hair. "You are okay, right?"
"How did you know I was here?" says Jungkook.
"I get a text when there's a lockout on my studio door," says Yoongi, holding up his phone. "Part of the security measures, plus it lets me know to check the cameras to let someone in. I didn't know if it was you when I got it, but I was hoping. I guess."
"We've all been out looking for you. When you didn't show up to dinner, and we realized no one had seen you since the last one…"
Jungkook scrunches up. "I didn't mean to make you guys worry."
"It's our job to worry about you," says Yoongi.
He tries for a smile, and Jungkook tries for one back, and then his stomach gurgles and he looks away.
Yoongi doesn't comment, but he does stand up and extend his hand. "Come on, let's get inside. I've got snacks. Water."
Jungkook nods, just once, and takes Yoongi's hand. Yoongi's not really strong enough to haul him up, but Jungkook doesn't let him know that as he levers himself to his feet.
Yoongi types two series of numbers on his keypad - "one to override the lockdown," he explains as he keys in the first one - which Jungkook politely looks away from. He bustles around as soon as they're inside, settling Jungkook on the couch and dropping energy bars in his lap, then opening a bottle of water and shoving it in his hand.
Jumgkook eats and drinks obediently, and Yoongi sits next to him and watches him do it until each swallow feels like a lead ball hitting his stomach. Yoongi didn't flip the lights on so it's dark in the studio, not even the monitors to illuminate them, but Jungkook can still make out enough. Yoongi is somehow small, worrying the skin around his thumb until Jungkook reaches out and pulls his hand away for his own preservation. It's an automatic reflex, something they all do whenever Yoongi forgets himself, but Yoongi stops breathing as soon as he touches him and Jungkook withdraws as quickly as he can.
"Why did you come here?" asks Yoongi eventually. He opens his mouth like he's going to say something else, then falls silent.
Jungkook considers the question as he finishes the second energy bar, crumpling the packaging in his hands. "I thought if… I thought if I could just figure out how to get in, then maybe that would mean that no one was angry anymore. I just wanted things to be okay with us. With all of us. I just wanted everything to be okay."
He doesn't let himself look away, finding Yoongi's shining eyes in the gloom. "I'm so sorry, Yoongi. I'm really, really sorry."
Yoongi rubs a hand over his face, a tired sigh escaping him. "No, I'm sorry. I'm the older one. It was my responsibility to make sure - to keep things from spilling over. You have the right to your own feelings, and to your own happiness. No one should punish you for that. Especially not your friends. I should have made them be better. I should have been better, for you."
He frowns as he says it, lines creasing him, and Jungkook frowns with him. He's not entirely sure he's following, but he knows at least one thing. "You've always been the best for me."
"Ah," says Yoongi, furiously dismissive like he always is, and Jungkook loves him a little more for it. "Look, even if I'm hurting, that doesn't mean we're not friends or that I don't want you around. Or that everyone else doesn't want you around. We care about you. Our friendship is the most important thing, okay?"
"Okay," says Jungkook automatically. "Wait, what?"
"We're always friends," Yoongi begins until Jungkook cuts him off.
"You said you're hurting. What's going on?"
It sounds too eager, even to his own ears, but that's because it is. He'd thought this was all just like, Jungkook making everyone uncomfortable, but if there's something else going on maybe this is the puzzle he's meant to solve. Not the door code, but something much bigger. Maybe if Jungkook can fix whatever's hurting Yoongi, it will heal everything else too.
Yoongi blinks once, then again, then says slowly, "You didn't enjoy the date. Our date."
"Yes I did," says Jungkook, confused. "Of course I did. I planned it. Everything was perfect."
"You told Hoseok that there wouldn't be any more."
Yoongi's eyes narrow. "That generally means that people didn't enjoy themselves. Or the person they were with."
"Oh!" says Jungkook, wide-eyed as he shakes his head. "No. No, not at all. It's just… that wasn't the point, you know? I was giving you a really good first date. Since you said no one knew how to do one because you'd been on so many bad ones. So I thought I could do a better job. Get you an easy win. Well, not easy. It wasn't easy. But it was fun. I'm sorry if I made you think it wasn't fun. I really had a good time."
He blinks hopefully at Yoongi, who's much clearer now that Jungkook's eyes are adjusted to the dark, and whose mouth has fallen open as he considers.
"So you never wanted a second date? Or even a first one?" says Yoongi after a long silence.
"Uh," says Jungkook, trying to find a way around the gigantic elephant in the room. "I did want it. For, you know, to make you happy. And all that. But not because I thought we'd start dating or whatever!"
Jungkook caps it off with a laugh that sounds more like a wheeze, but he's pretty sure he nailed that one. Stealth techniques engaged all the way, because Yoongi doesn't give him a suspicious look, or really any look, just stares down at his hands in thought.
"I see," says Yoongi. He shrugs. "I guess that is better. To know that there was never…"
He trails off, then hauls himself to his feet with a brisk clap of his hands. "We'd better get to Namjoon's, or Jimin will have every cop in the city looking for us. Plus I'm starving."
Jungkook rises too, a little more slowly, and peers down at Yoongi's face. It's more confident than before, a standard Yoongi who's a master of his every domain. But he's still not looking Jungkook in the eye for more than a second at a time, and Jungkook says doubtfully, "So it's okay now? I'm okay? You're okay?"
He runs a hand through his hair as he says it, shaking it out, then tries to shove past Jungkook with limited success because Jungkook's been working out a lot and he's thinking too hard to move. Yoongi shoves him again, ineffectually, while Jungkook goes over every single word they've said tonight with the precision of an archaeologist excavating a dirt-covered bone.
By the time Yoongi makes a frustrated, quiet growl in his throat and leans back for a running start Jungkook's not doubtful but certain, and he grabs Yoongi's shoulders to hold him still.
"You're not okay!" accuses Jungkook. "What's wrong? What can I do? I need to fix something!"
Yoongi chuckles, a little wetly, and says, "Not everything is fixable just like that, Jungkook-ah. It takes time. But you don't need to worry about anything. Just come to Dinner Night, okay? That's what you can do."
"I don't understand," says Jungkook. He thinks back over their conversation one more time, every gesture and pause, and he frowns with the effort of piecing it together. "Did you want me to ask you out again?"
"I don't want you to do anything you don't want to do," says Yoongi firmly, which is definitely not a no.
"But… But… I'm just a college kid," says Jungkook, hopelessly lost. "You hate going out with college kids. And you don't have time for relationships, that's what you said, and anyway I still have to like, be a person. I'm working hard, but I have to finish that up first, and I can't even write a good philosophy paper. You have a job!"
He lets go of Yoongi's shoulders to wave his hands around the studio, which knocks Yoongi off balance, and there's a few moments of confusion as Jungkook tries to save him. Yoongi stumbles over his chair, yelping like Yeontan as he flails, and Jungkook has to engage all of his tactical awareness in the dim space to keep them both from being impaled on a stray mic stand.
By the end of it, somehow Jungkook ends up back on the couch with Yoongi in a tight grip on his lap, which is probably chill. He tries to convey that sort of attitude, rather than the one that's horrified to have nearly killed his crush in the middle of a puzzle-solving breakdown. But Jungkook's last words hang heavy between them, and Yoongi's studying his face like he's never seen it before.
And then his eyes move into the beginnings of a crinkle, and the tight band around Jungkook's chest start to loosen, along with his tongue.
"Sorry," he says quietly, not even sure exactly which thing it's for. Probably a blanket sorry. "It's just that if you could wait like, three more months, I have a plan."
"A plan," echoes Yoongi.
"Yeah," says Jungkook. Those sexy hip bones are under his fingers again, and he almost loses focus when Yoongi shifts, but he tries hard to maintain. "Or, you know, a quest. Because like, if I can graduate, and find a job, and some money, and an actual place to live, then I'm going to take you out for real. Try to convince you to take a chance."
"Right. On me. I've been planning it for, well, awhile. Improving my level," says Jungkook. "I knew I wasn't ready for you yet. But you needed that first date right now, so…"
"Hm," says Yoongi, and now the crinkles are bigger. He's not smiling, not around his mouth, but his gaze is bright and amused and so pretty that Jungkook's having a hard time breathing. "You have a level?"
"Of course I have a level," says Jungkook. "So do you. Yours is a lot higher than mine."
"I don't think that's true," says Yoongi, overriding Jungkook's protests. "But even if it is, it doesn't matter. Why would it matter what levels we are? You're not going to have to fight me. But I'd really like to go out with you again. Whenever you want. As many times as you want."
Jungkook's eyes widen. "Really?"
Yoongi finally smiles, really big, and Jungkook's grip tightens involuntarily. "Really. But also we can wait, if you're not ready. I don't want to rush -"
He cuts off with a muffled groan when Jungkook surges up to kiss him, his lips still soft and plush and everything distracting. This time Jungkook doesn't have anything in his hands but Yoongi, and he takes full advantage as he runs his fingers up his knobbly spine, and slides them into his fluffy hair, and tugs the strands to keep him in place as he starts to squirm.
The last elicits a sound that vibrates deep inside Yoongi's chest, a rumbling sort of purr, and Jungkook kisses him even harder to hold it inside himself forever.
It goes on for awhile, long and longer and even longer than that, because every time one of them breaks away Jungkook sees the messy shag of Yoongi's bangs, and his sweet little pout, and the way he looks perched on his lap and panting, and he has to kiss him all over again. It's a universal imperative, one of those things Namjoon's always talking about, because things that feel this good must be imperatives. And Yoongi doesn't discourage him, melting into each new touch like he's falling apart.
By the time he's giving Yoongi a huge hickey, Jungkook's honestly pretty sure that they're going to be here forever, until there's another vibration from Yoongi's pants that Jungkook sadly didn't cause.
Yoongi fishes out his phone while Jungkook nips at the pale skin of his throat, and he tries to shove Jungkook away but not really that hard so Jungkook doesn't bother to go. He hears Yoongi mutter a fond, "Brat," before he answers and says, "What do you want, Jimin?"
He sounds annoyed, and also a little turned on, but even Jungkook can hear Jimin's irritated voice on the other line asking where they are.
"We're coming!" says Yoongi.
"Not yet," Jungkook whispers in his free ear, and Yoongi pinches him on the shoulder.
"Just hold your damn horses - I said we'll be there - he's fine!" says Yoongi.
Jungkook pulls away from his task for a moment and yells, "I'm fine!"
"See?" says Yoongi. "Okay, we're leaving right now. Yes! Fifteen minutes."
There's a really sensitive spot behind Yoongi's ear, Jungkook's learned in this very instructive and productive time, and he blows cool air against it which makes Yoongi's breath catch.
"Twenty minutes," he amends. "Just get whatever you want, we'll eat anything. Right, Jungkook?"
"Right!" says Jungkook happily. "Bye Jimin!"
He plucks the phone out of Yoongi's hand and turns it off, then gets back to those pink, delicate lips with all of the pent up desire of the last few minutes when he was denied access. From Yoongi's needy response, he's not exactly opposed.
"You're going to be -" says Yoongi, interrupting himself when he goes back in for a few seconds. "You're going to be hard to deny, aren't you?"
"That's what I'm hoping," says Jungkook, but when Yoongi pushes himself away with purpose Jungkook lets him go without protest. Just a bit of a pout, at least until Yoongi reaches down and grabs his hand to haul him up again.
Jungkook interlaces their fingers, looking down at them happily, then leans over to kiss Yoongi one last time. "You're really hot."
"Be quiet," says Yoongi. "We need to go. Give me back my phone."
"Okay," says Jungkook, handing it over and watching Yoongi order a cab with a scowl that Jungkook knows for sure isn't real. Yoongi wants to go out with him again, at least once, maybe more than once, and the boyfriend quest is officially back in the queue.
While he's typing Jungkook says, "So, in a relationship, are you the one who kills the spiders?"
"No," says Yoongi, confused but distracted. "I trap them and release them in a humane manner, or Namjoon never lets me hear the end of it. You know that. Why are you - oh my god, is that another one of your stupid first date questions?"
"Yes," says Jungkook, grinning. "But they're not stupid. How long do you want to wait before sex?"
Yoongi's expression shutters at the speed of light before he marches Jungkook towards the door, and in deference to his elders Jungkook doesn't ask again. In deference to his own nature, he does smack Yoongi lightly on the ass as they go.
The light of the hallway is nearly blinding after the gloom, a fluorescent hellscape that's not nearly so nice as the former dim room. The door shuts behind them with a final click, and Jungkook can't stop himself from looking at the keypad longingly.
"April 5th," says Yoongi. He clears his throat when Jungkook glances at him. "April 5th. This year. That's the code."
"Oh," says Jungkook, blinking, then whips out his phone as fast as he can.
A million more messages come in when he turns it on, but he ignores them to get his Yoongi Note updated. He checks his calendar to try to figure out what the date means, and his eyes get big. "Wait. That was our date night. That's the night we went out!"
Yoongi mumbles something inaudible, his cheeks dusted with pink.
"But you were… you thought I didn't like it," says Jungkook. "Which, in case it wasn't clear, I really did. But you didn't know that. So why would you…"
Their hands are still clasped together, and Yoongi pulls him towards the elevator before he can finish his thought. Jungkook follows willingly enough, but when Yoongi doesn't say anything he adds, slightly disappointed, "Or does it mean something else? Did something else happen that day?"
"No," says Yoongi quickly. He jabs the button with a long finger, a couple of times, and Jungkook pushes it too just because. "No. But they asked us for our new code numbers on Monday morning, and you didn't talk to Hoseok until Monday afternoon, so."
"So? So what?"
Yoongi looks at him from the corner of his eye, hair draped a little messily across his forehead, and Jungkook's heart flips over. "So I was thinking it might be our anniversary," he mumbles, all in a rush. "Don't laugh."
Jungkook cackles as he steps in the elevator, Yoongi trailing behind with an uncharacteristic whine. "I said don't laugh!"
"I'm not laughing at you," says Jungkook, laughing even harder. God he's so good. He's so good! "You're cute. You're really, really cute. Definitely the cutest guy I've ever had my tongue inside."
A strangled noise comes from the depths Yoongi's throat, incoherent but clear in its embarrassment, and Jungkook pulls him flush and wraps his arms around him as fully as he can. Yoongi meets his gaze with a small pout that Jungkook can't help but kiss.
"I'd never laugh at you. I'm just laughing because it turns out I finished my quest without even knowing it. Boyfriend Min Yoongi. Achievement unlocked."
Yoongi's still pink, and still cute, but he sounds a little more like his usual self when he says dryly, "Getting confident again, aren't you?"
"Yep," says Jungkook. "You're level boosting the hell out of me. I'm diamond rank. I'm -"
This time it's Yoongi who interrupts him with a kiss, more annoyed than any kiss that Jungkook has previously gotten in his lifetime of experience, but he loves it. He's into it, very into it, and when the elevator doors open onto the empty lobby he presses the button for the top floor, lifts Yoongi up against the wall, and gets his tongue back in there like the champion he is.
When they get to Namjoon's they're swarmed at the door by five giant balls of emotional energy, scolding and relieved in turn.
"I can't believe you used me as your hanging out beard and you didn't even actually hang out with me once," says Jimin, drying his happy tears on Jungkook's water-wicking running shirt. "That's some real bullshit, Kookie!"
So Jungkook gets slapped a few times, and hugged a few more, and even Yoongi doesn't escape the general wrath when Hoseok peers at his neck and says, "Hang on a second, were you two making out while we were sitting here worried out of our minds?"
"Congratulations," says Namjoon sincerely, followed by Taehyung, but the rest of them pummel Yoongi for a minute or two until the delivery man arrives and ends the chaos.
They have a lot of questions about what happened that Jungkook tosses to Yoongi, who's always been better at explaining things clearly and also can do a thing with his eyes that gets all of them except for Seokjin to stop questioning him when he's done being questioned about something. He doesn't give it to them until almost the end of the meal, which is an impressive amount of patience, Jungkook thinks. At least he thinks until Yoongi shoots him a secret smile, and he realizes Yoongi actually wants to talk about liking Jungkook as much as possible, which is such an enormous thought that Jungkook has to lay down on the floor for a minute just to process it.
When he gets up, mostly because Seokjin keeps kicking him, it's surprisingly Taehyung who asks, "But I don't understand what Jungkook was doing. He liked Yoongi. Yoongi liked him. They could have just done everything normally from the beginning."
He's so genuinely puzzled that Yoongi doesn't even give him the look again, just turns to Jungkook, and Jungkook realizes it's up to him.
"Yoongi is the final boss," he says. "And he's super OP. I needed to grind experience first."
Taehyung's face clears, and he nods. "Got it. Got it. That makes sense. Yoongi is pretty OP. I'm glad I fell for Jin instead."
"Hey! I'm OP too," says Seokjin.
"Nope," says Taehyung, leaning over with a grin. "You're basically a tutorial. Your face tells me everything I need to know about what I'm supposed to do next."
Seokjin sputters, ears turning red as Taehyung watches happily, then finally says, "I hope my face is telling you you need to sleep on the couch tonight."
Taehyung hums, considering. "No. No that's not it. It's telling me that you want me to -"
"Okay!" says Namjoon loudly, clapping his hands with the fervor of a man who's heard it all before. "Well that was a great meal. Jungkook, I'm very glad you're back, and I'm sorry you thought we were angry with you."
"We were angry with him," says Hoseok, shrugging.
"Angry enough that we didn't want you to come to dinner," adds Namjoon firmly, and Hoseok nods acceptance. "Now, who's up for karaoke?"
"Me!" yell Taehyung and Jimin in unison, then scamper up to race to the television, slipping across the wooden floor.
Jungkook decides to help clean, along with Hoseok, who gives him a hip bump by the trash can and says he's really happy he doesn't have to kick his butt anymore. "But if you ever make Yoongi that sad again, it's on the table. You got it?"
"I got it," says Jungkook solemnly.
He means it, because Jungkook would let his butt get kicked every day if he ever made any of his friends sad, and Hoseok smiles at him like he knows it.
"You really are a good one, Jungkookie," he says, reaching up to ruffle his hair. "You know, Yoongi put that CD you made him right in the middle of his desk. He looks at it all the time. I guess that means you're all grown up, aren't you?"
"Ugh. Not all grown up," he says, wrinkling his nose cutely to cover his deep embarrassment, and Hoseok laughs and messes up his hair again.
Once they're done they get settled on the couches and floor pillows, arrayed in comfortable little groupings that feel like coming home. Jungkook's missed them all, missed this more than he can express, but he's also not an idiot so he grabs the seat beside Yoongi before Seokjin can steal it like the interloper he is.
Seokjin tosses him a quick salute as he dashes in, which promises an excellent battle sometime in the future.
But not tonight. While Taehyung and Jimin finish seting up the machine, arguing about who gets to do the first song before they inevitably decide on a duet, Jungkook leans over to his small, overpowered boyfriend and murmurs, "Are you doing anything next weekend? Like, maybe the whole weekend? We can't do anything that costs money but they opened a dog park a few blocks from your place that I'd marked down for future wooing. Also I've got more kisses for you, if you want them."
Yoongi looks over at him, gums showing around a sweet, happy smile, and Jungkook thinks maybe this wasn't just a main quest obejctive. He thinks maybe he beat the whole game, wrapped everything up that a person could want to wrap up in pursuit of their goals. Because if boyfriending Min Yoongi isn't the end screen of life, he's not sure what else it could be.
"We'll discuss terms," says Yoongi. "I'd like to buy you a meal or two somewhere in there. The dogs sound good too. I didn't get any on our first date. Kind of a mistake, if you ask me."
Jungkook groans with the pain of his past mistakes, but he still pulls Yoongi back in his lap when a schmaltzy love song pours out of the speakers. Jimin and Taehyung sway in front of them like out-of-sync palm trees, staring deeply into each other's eyes while Jin heckles and Hoseok and Namjoon wave their hands in the air. And if any of them notice that Jungkook puts his mouth to Yoongi's ear and softly sings along with every word, that there are a few tears in his eyes as Yoongi rubs his thumb over the back of their clasped hands, they're kind enough to pretend not to.
For now, at least. More consequences will come later Jungkook knows, because that's how he lives his life, but that's okay. Consequences don't matter anymore, not really.
After all, he's already won.