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Cocoa Puffs

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Jimin doesn’t know what he was expecting when he volunteered to be a camp counselor over his summer break this year.

Except, strike that – he knows exactly what he was expecting. He was expecting to become the bright mast of a heavy ship on the waters of youth, a pirate's chest beneath his feet and the glittering gold of juvenile respect crowning him as he bravely led his tiny toddler and twelve-year-old crew through two months of adolescent bullshit that had once crippled him (and still cripple him now, what with the small feet, squeaky voice, and awkwardly timed growth spurts).

He knows exactly what he was expecting. And he knows, for a fact, that it was not this.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” he says aloud when he opens up the little envelope they’d given camp names out in and sees the word Puff written in curly-q font across the bottom line of the paper. Congratulations! is stenciled at the top, right next to the overexcited smiley face and the doodled bouquet of flowers.

Congratulations. His. Ass.

One of the older ladies in the room turns and throws him a dirty look, and it takes him a moment to realize that he is no longer free to drop S-bombs and foul language because he's a role model now, and role models must be dapper young men with good hair and properly sanitized mouths. He bows his head in apology because he has achieved none of these things so far, but she ignores him in favor of clicking down the hallway in her heels as if she were Yertle the Turtle and owned all she could see.

It must be the haircut. The middle part hadn't been his brightest idea, although he'd once thought it would make him look classier. Maybe next time he'll wear highwaters and a newsboy cap and the kind of shoes you have to shine. Grandmas really seemed to dig him in that old-school schoolboy wear. It's something about his face.

They're told to take their seats again because Hoseok still has announcements to go over and fingers to shake at future naughty behavior (more towards the 16-year-old counselors with their relationship goggles on than volunteers like Jimin, but he cowers in the presence of Hoseok's mom voice all the same). He tries to listen. He really does.

It all goes to shit the second he looks back down at the paper and the name glares up at him with its gaudy swirls and infuriating happiness. He almost curses all over again because he's still not over it.

Puff. Christ on a cracker, man.

Seokjin has been the overseer of camp names for as long as Jimin can remember, so once their advising meeting is adjourned, he walks straight up to where he's still lingering onstage and waves the piece of paper in his face. “What the fuck is this, Seokjin,” he hisses under his breath so no wandering supervisors will hear him and beat him upside the head with a ruler. Seokjin shushes him anyways.

“My name is Princess Peach here,” he says authoritatively. “Don’t let me or any of the kids catch you using my real name, got it?”

Princess Peach,” Jimin corrects sarcastically, “tell me why the hell you thought naming me Puff was a good idea.”

Seokjin brightens at this, taking the paper from Jimin’s hands and holding it up like a banner. He really doesn't understand what irritation sounds like. “Isn’t it the best? It fits you so well. I’ve honestly been waiting for years for you to join as a counselor so I could give you this name.”

“You mean you’ve been sitting on this name for years?” Jimin wants to be surprised by the fact that Seokjin hasn’t even considered that this name is, y’know, the worst name of all time, but it is coming from someone who named himself Princess Peach, after all. That says a lot. “Seok—Princess Peach. I don’t know if you know, but this name totally blows and I want a new one.”

Seokjin frowns. “You don’t like it? I thought it suited you, what with your cheeks and all.”

“That is really not helping.”

Seokjin blows his bangs out of his face, looking a little strained. “Well, I mean, I could try to talk Hobie into letting you change it, but you know how he is…”

"Are you kidding?" Jimin groans and drags a hand down his face because it's true. He knows exactly how Hoseok is. He rules this place with a toothy smile, but only to distract from the iron fist he's swinging from the other direction. What he says goes.

And apparently, what he says today is that, from now onward, Jimin will be known to all the kids and other counselors as Puff.

Jimin bemoans his entire existence.

“Are you sure there isn’t any way to convince him?” he says through his palm.

Seokjin shrugs. “Probably not. But you can try.”

“As rewarding as that sounds, I think I’d rather fight a bear with a dead fish.” He opens his fingers and looks at Seokjin through the cracks. “Do you think I’ll get a lot of shit for this?”

Seokjin shrugs again, and Jimin really just wants to sit on his shoulders so he won’t be able to move them. “I think the name is really cute.”

Yup. Jimin is doomed. There is no doubt about it.

He leaves the campground dejected, padding slowly to where he’s parked his car in the lot by the swimming hole. Tomorrow is his first day. Hoseok totally planned this so no one had any time to change their name if it was migraine-inducingly awful, Jimin is completely sure of it.

He thinks again about calling Hoseok later that night. He’s been friends with him for a few years now. He’ll take a little pity on him, right?

Then, he remembers the time that he'd broken his leg falling off the bleachers during a football game and Hoseok had laughed until he'd peed and told the entire school that Jimin had shit his pants on the way down.

People had believed it. He'd never apologized, but he did later sign Jimin's cast with a doodle of a penis.

Jimin decides he'd rather take his chances with the bear.

It’s as he’s mulling over how to erase himself from the time-space continuum via Spirit Grizzly that someone crashes into his side and knocks him to the asphalt.

Ow,” he exclaims as his hip connects with the ground. He rolls over with a groan and rubs his assaulted area, frowning at the dirt marking the exposed part of his black gym shorts. Man, he'd just cleaned these, like, a week ago.

Suddenly, there’s a shadow winking in his vision. “You okay?”

Jimin looks up into the face of a blonde kid holding a frisbee, and his mind draws blanks.

“Um.” The guy’s eyes droop, but he doesn’t seem all that sad, and his mouth hangs open to heave in air. He’s heavy breathing through the sweat on his upper lip, and it makes Jimin think he must have been running for a while. The wet cling of his clothes to his skinny body serves as confirmation. He taps his foot as he waits for Jimin’s reply, reaching up with his free hand to wipe the sweat from his bangs, and Jimin is not nearly as grossed out as he should be. “I’m…fine?”

The guy cocks his head. “Why are you saying it as if it’s a question? I don’t know if you’re fine or not.”

“I…” Jimin trails off when someone runs up behind the guy, breathing even harder than he is. He's a lot less sweaty, but a lot more red in the face.

“Are you okay?” the new person repeats, sliding his hands down to rest on his knees and peering into Jimin’s face. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know the frisbee would go that far—”

“It was my fault,” Guy #1 interjects, rolling his head to crack his neck and staring down at Jimin with something between curiosity and apathy. It's a strange look. Jimin can't say he's ever seen it before. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Jimin mumbles, finally sitting up long enough to wipe the rocks off his palms. “I was…walking.”

The two stare down at him uncomprehendingly. “That’s nice,” Guy #1 says. “Great observational skills.”

Jimin hides his face by staring down at the ground, heaving to push himself up into a stand. He winces at the stretch in his hip but doesn’t raise his eyes from his shoes, even when he says, “Sorry for being in your way. I’ve gotta go—”

“Are you a counselor here?” Jimin looks up, eyes a little round, and is surprised to see that the question came from Guy #1, who Jimin had honestly thought was also probably wondering how to erase him from the space-time continuum via Spirit Grizzly. When Jimin doesn’t answer immediately, he raises an eyebrow. “Well?”

Jimin clears his throat, shifting his eyes to Guy #2, who is looking at Guy #1 with just as much confusion. “I…yeah. I start tomorrow.”

“Could have mistaken you for one of the kids, honestly.” Jimin's eyebrows furrow, and he makes to protest, but Guy #1 cuts him off again. “What's your name? Your camp name. Since Hoseok will probably gut me and serve me to his cat if I wheedle out your real one.”

Jimin’s brain short-circuits because Guy #1 looks like the kind of guy who would shred someone named Puff if given the chance, even though he’s kind of short and kind of lanky and kind of sounds like liquid honey marked with a lisp when he talks. He holds his face in a limbo between lethargy and mild annoyance, sweat still dyeing his hair orange at the tips, and it makes him look like he's surrounded by a ring of fire. One that could burn Jimin worse than spilled bacon grease or the sun.

Maybe it’s because Guy #2 stands behind him, moving seamlessly through strange, distracting facial expressions as if he were a computer screensaver, and comparing the two of them makes Guy #1 seem even more intimidating. Or maybe it’s because Jimin is Jimin, and he thinks basically anyone is capable of kicking his ass, years of martial arts training be damned.

In hindsight, that is probably most definitely the case.

“I’m…White-Out,” Jimin blurts. He really doesn’t know where that name even came from - maybe some first-person shooter he sucked at in middle school or something - but Guy #1 nods coolly as if he believes him.

“I’m Suga,” Guy #1 says without missing a beat. Jimin nearly faints in relief as Suga turns to Guy #2, who very visibly snaps back to attention once eyes fall on him.

“I’m V,” he says a little too loudly, saluting. “It’s nice to meet you! Even though it was because I accidentally threw a frisbee at your face.” He grins sheepishly. “Sorry again.”

“It’s…okay.” Jimin takes a step backward, waving his hands in front of his chest in a clear sign of farewell. “Well, I do actually have to go now, so, uh…I’ll see you guys tomorrow I guess?”

V nods eagerly, and Suga tips his head in confirmation. “I’ll find you at snacktime!” V announces, and Jimin tries his best to put on his queen face - keep the peasants happy, remember that you get to eat croissants after this, just smile and wave, smile and wave - so they won’t suspect that he’s .5 seconds from high-tailing it across the country to make sure that never happens.

When he finally gets in his car and slams the door behind him, he slumps into his steering wheel and sighs loudly at himself. “Why am I so awkward?” he whines to nobody in particular, meeting his own eyes in the rearview mirror and sticking his bottom lip out defiantly. Socializing really shouldn't be so hard. You just say stuff, and then people say stuff, and then you say stuff back. Seriously. It's supposed to be a cakewalk.

Jimin blames it on the fact that he woke up at 6:45 in the morning for this. He conveniently ignores the fact that he's going to be doing that for the entire summer and that they're probably going to continue to exist when he wakes up at 6:45 again tomorrow.

When he musters up the self-worth to finally turn his car on and start backing out, he catches a glimpse of blonde hair in his side mirror. He swears it's the color that makes him pause to stare, the way it almost blends in with Suga's skin and a pale strip of sunlight glinting off his reflection.

It’s as if Suga knows. He turns from where he still stands in the parking lot and seems to look straight on into Jimin’s soul as his figure floats over the Objects may be larger than they appear sticker in the corner of the mirror. He pauses, body completely still, even as V runs circles around him and yells about something that Jimin can’t make out. He's still holding the frisbee between two fingers, shoulders straightening out from their slump as if he's aware of being watched.

Just as quickly as it happens, it's over. He turns to Taehyung, who has taken to trying to snatch the frisbee out of his hands without him knowing, and whacks him across the head with it. Jimin can't figure out the words exchanged, but he hears Taehyung's pathetic yelp, even from behind his windows.

He puts his car in gear and pumps the gas. Summer and his need for a quick getaway will forgive him for ignoring the school crossing signs.

*******

When they make nametags, Jimin writes his name on it as small as physically possible.

He draws bright yellow stars and deep mauve hearts around it as distractions, drowning it in glitter shaped like dinosaurs and tribal sharpie markings. It’s not exactly the most artistic thing in the world, like some of the others he sees (Namjoon’s is actually an extremely detailed Pokeball with “Rap Monster” written in the Pocket Monster font across the top that he custom-ordered from Etsy), but he's not exactly artsy anyways. He supposes it suits him.

And...Puff. It definitely suits Puff.

He thinks seriously about writing a different name on his, but Hoseok comes around to check on everyone with his fake ass principal’s smile like the micro-manager he is. He’s already started calling Jimin Cheese Poof and Pufferfish and various other puns on his name, anyways. As if this were a fucking joke.

It’s too late. He can hear his funeral bells already.

He notices Suga and V sitting across the room making theirs together - not that he was looking for them (unless it was to blatantly avoid them, in which case, he definitely was). They haven’t noticed him yet, thank God, although he’s caught V craning his neck to survey the crowd more than once. He’s not entirely sure if it’s him that he’s looking for, but he ducks anyways because he’s also not taking any chances. He does find himself watching them, half in paranoia, half because Suga’s hair is hella blonde and really extremely distracting, much like his actual face. Especially when it isn't drenched with sweat.

Jimin just so happens to be watching when Suga finishes his nametag and holds it up to the light. It’s a pretty impressive cartoon basketball, silly face etched on with a pen and a jersey that says “Suga” across it in block letters. It doesn't seem to have much to do with his name, but V seems to think it suits by the way he lights up at the sight of it. He snatches it out of Suga’s hands to admire it better, too, running his fingers all over it as if he could trace its colors and grinning like an idiot.

It's almost cute. If cute were a manic 19-year-old with fucked up depth perception, as Jimin's still-bruised ass is a testament of.

Jimin is smiling unconsciously when V looks up, past the nametag, and, by some work of divine intervention, makes eye contact.

It isn’t until V breaks out in the widest smile Jimin has ever seen and cups his hands around his mouth to yell “WHITE-OUT” at the top of his lungs that he considers the mistake he's made. Reddening, he tries to look away and busy himself with the bottles of glitter glue in front of him, coating the ink of his name with an extra layer of purple sparkles, but it’s too late yet again. V has started a chant of Jimin’s fake counselor name, and everybody is looking around now, confused by the sudden commotion from the back of the room. His funeral bells get progressively louder as V raises his voice.

Jimin notices that Namjoon has left his nametag behind to mingle with a group of friends near the bathrooms. Jimin sucks it up, grabs the forgotten spoils (cringing internally because he is going to come off as such a geek), and stands up to walk towards V, who immediately starts whooping the second he takes his first step.

“White-Out!” he exclaims when Jimin finally makes it to their table. The other counselors are watching them subtly, noses turned up in mild disgust, and Jimin feels very, very small. “I’ve been looking for you all day! I thought you’d quit or something.”

“Nope,” Jimin says, smiling tightly. “I haven’t. Not yet, anyways.”

V doesn’t catch the double meaning, but Suga does. He raises both eyebrows in question, and Jimin flickers his eyes toward him, silently asking for help. V continues, oblivious of the interaction. “Do you want to sit with us? It’s kind of lonely with just Suga. He doesn’t talk much.”

“I don’t talk much because you never stop talking,” Suga says, but V ignores him in favor of looking up at Jimin hopefully. Jimin doesn’t know how in the world to go about denying V politely, so he opts to shuffle on his feet and pretend he didn't hear the kid's request. Suga turns his eyes to him, too, and Jimin feels doubly lost. “I swear he’s a lot more normal when you catch him calm. He’s usually like this in the morning.”

“Mornings are the prettiest times of the day!” V protests. “I still think everybody should be a morning person. There’s nothing to not like about mornings.”

“Besides the lack of sleep you have to suffer through to see them?” V makes a face at Suga, but he gets no reaction. Suga holds his face in that same blank way, even when V wiggles his shoulders in a full-bodied pout. He seems remarkably used to V’s antics. “All I’m saying is you should be a little more low-key about your boner for sunrises, that’s all.”

“Don’t say that at camp, you sicko,” V says, sticking his tongue out. Suga pretends to pinch at it, and V withdraws with a yelp and an arm-smack that has Suga threatening him with nothing but a flick of the fringe over his eyes. Jimin is left standing, watching them interact, trying to think of any conceivable way to get himself out of the situation.

Then, Suga remembers him all at once, and gestures to the empty bench across from them. “Well, don’t just stand there all day. Sit down.”

Jimin, despite having stayed up literally all night to think himself out of it, is still intimidated by the both of them. So he does as he’s told, sliding onto the edge of the bench and immediately withdrawing into himself when he accidentally bumps his legs into Suga’s.

“Have you made a nametag?” V asks abruptly. He holds out what seems to be his own, which looks like just as much of a disaster as the one Jimin left back at the other table. “Swap with me, I want to see!”

Jimin swallows hard and obliges, holding out Namjoon’s badge with only mildly shaking fingers. V takes it gingerly, replacing Jimin’s empty hand with his, before holding it up like he did with Suga’s, mouth in a small ‘o.’ “Wow,” he breathes, inspecting it from every angle. He runs a finger along the dried paint in the middle, eyes wide and impressed. “You’re really good at drawing, White-Out.”

Jimin shifts in his seat. He sucks at drawing. “Thanks,” he says uncomfortably, appraising V’s nametag. It’s got every conceivable color of glitter glue on it, even though they only have blue and silver on the table. He probably went table hopping to find all the rest of them while Jimin was hiding himself in the backroom earlier specifically to prevent this. There’s a tiny hand-drawn stick unicorn cut out from notebook paper and glued next to the gigantic “V” that takes up most of the space of the nametag. “This is…uh...nice.”

“It is my masterpiece,” V says seriously. He takes it back with great care, as if scared that he’ll accidentally rub the glue off, and returns Jimin’s equally as carefully. “But why doesn’t yours say White-Out?”

Jimin gulps. He’d been scared of this question. “I, um. I didn’t like my name, so I asked for Hobie to give me a new one.”

V looks up all at once, nametag completely forgotten in light of what is apparently huge news. “Hobie actually let you have a new name?"

Jimin fidgets. "I've known him for a few years. We're...close."

Suga is staring at him, mouth open in question, but V beats him to speaking. "Dude, what kind of saint are you? He’s like a dictator. He must be in love with you. There’s no other way he’d be that soft.” Suga resigns himself to crossing his arms and letting V rattle off like a machine gun, even though Jimin is still glancing at him in a silent invitation to speak. V doesn't notice, instead reaching over the table with his elbow to knock Jimin in the shoulder, loud grin racing across his face. “How do you feel about Hobie, then? Are you guys dating?”

“Gross,” Jimin says, wrinkling his nose. “I wouldn’t date him if a giant octopus rose out of the sea and told me it was the only way to stop Armageddon.”

V frowns. “Well, that was extremely specific, but okay. Be a heartbreaker. It suits you with a name like—” V leans over the table to look at Jimin’s fake tag again, eyebrows scrunched in concentration. “—Rap Monster.”

Jimin nods, hoping his agreement will bring an end to the conversation. It technically doesn’t because V opens his mouth to speak again, but then his eyes widen and he’s ducking underneath the table, hissing something like, “Oh, shit, motherfuck, god damn, he’s here.”

“Who’s here?” Jimin asks, bewildered, glancing over his shoulder. He sees Seokjin standing in a corner talking to Hoseok and the other admiral-like camp leaders, and Namjoon is still stationed by the bathrooms with a mob of girl counselors that he doesn't recognize, but other than that, he recognizes nobody. He tries to look for someone abnormal, but everyone seems to be pretty cookie-cutter suburbia camp volunteer. Well, except for maybe that emo-looking guy by the punch—

“The one that looks like he stole Mayday Parade’s attitude,” Suga says, patting V’s back from where it sticks out from under the table.

Jimin makes a noise of understanding. So yes to the emo-looking guy by the punch.

Jimin watches him as he lingers by the glass bowl, even after he pours himself a cup, looking for all the world like that friendless loser at prom. He scans the room, and Jimin turns before he can catch him staring because like hell is he going to make accidental eye contact with another person and get catapulted unwillingly into Awkward Social Situation Pt.2.

“What’s wrong with him?” Jimin asks in a whisper. He’s not even sure why he’s being quiet because said subject of their conversation is all the way across the room, but V peeks over the table like he appreciates it.

“Nothing,” V mutters. “He’s just a god on Earth. No biggie.”

Suga rolls his eyes. “He looks like he belongs in Fall Out Boy.”

“He looks like he belongs in heaven, right next to the giant bowls of lollipops and the Cat Fancy magazines.”

“Your version of heaven sounds like a hospital waiting room.”

V glares in response, but then Fall Out Boy Reject moves, and he squeaks and ducks again. “Oh my God, is he walking this way?”

Jimin turns back around to squint at him. He’d literally taken one floundering step towards the dessert table before backtracking back to the punch. “No.”

“One of you. Go distract him so I can escape.” V pushes Suga from where he sits at the edge of the table, whining when he doesn’t budge. “Come on, what kind of friend are you?”

“The kind of friend who knows you’re going to bitch and moan for the rest of your life if you don’t go up and talk to him,” Suga responds. Jimin's internal matchmaker cheers him on. “You already talked to him once.”

“You mean I hit him in the face with a basketball and apologized on my knees in front of him once.”

Suga nods toward Jimin, who shrinks back at the gesture. “That’s basically how we made friends with him, isn’t it?”

V finally unearths his entire face again, staring down Jimin curiously. “I guess you’re right.” Jimin is two seconds from breaking eye contact when V turns his full attention on him. “Hey, White—oops. Rap Monster. Would you date one of us after we ran into you?”

Jimin has to stop his mouth from unhinging and falling open. “Would I what?

“Come on, honestly. I’m not actually asking you out. I just want to know.”

Jimin knows that V just wants to know, but his attention is fighting its way to Suga, the one who had actually run into him, who still has his arm draped comfortingly over V’s shoulder. He doesn’t really react to V’s question, but Jimin also gets the feeling that he doesn’t react to much of anything, and that makes him feel significantly less safe about answering truthfully. Let's face it - gossipy topics like this can be terribly misconstrued, and Jimin, brave 19-year-old conqueror that he is, has already fought his way through his own fair share of rumors. The last thing he wants is Suga thinking he's a thirsty high school junior, considering he's already equated his physical appearance to that of a pre-adolescent.

He finally braves a look at him, but all the guy does is nod subtly, as if that should be some kind of cue. It helps 0%. Jimin wants to hide again.

“Um. Sure?”

V sits all the way up, dislodging Suga’s arm in the process. Suga takes the opportunity to flash a subtle thumbs up from behind his back, although Jimin is hesitant to believe it's actually for him. “Really? You would? Do you think he would, too, then?”

Jimin shifts, and his knee knocks against Suga’s again. He tenses and draws his legs back, crossing them at the ankles. “Sure. I don’t see why he wouldn’t.”

V hops up without a second thought. “Great, so it’s settled. I’m going to go talk to him and set the date for our wedding.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Suga calls as V speedwalks away from them, and V mouths back an “I was just kidding” before he turns fully towards where his person of interest still stands, tracing the rim of his drink idly with his pinky finger. He pauses right before he takes the last few steps, taking a deep breath by a table of counselors who are unabashedly staring at him, and Jimin turns back to face the front before he gets there, choosing to watch Suga’s reaction instead.

Suga smiles almost imperceptibly, something like warmth marking the crinkle of his eyes. V must have made it. Jimin heaves a sigh of relief, and Suga’s eyes flicker to him almost instantly.

“Thanks for the save,” Suga says, and Jimin is a little taken aback that he’s actually talking to him. “I actually thought for a second there that you might say no and deflate his tiny ego.”

Jimin shakes his head. “I was just answering his question. It’s nothing to thank me for.”

“Oh, so you meant it?”

“I mean—” Jimin stops. Suga’s eyes are dancing with amusement, and Jimin wants to cover himself with dirt and grass so his dumb red face can’t be seen anymore. “I guess? I wouldn’t say no based on that, anyways.”

Suga cups his cheek in his hand and leans forward on his elbow, staring Jimin dead in the face. Jimin leans back unconsciously, but Suga doesn’t seem to notice – or maybe he does, because his smile gets a millimeter wider. “What kinds of things would you say no based on, then?”

Jimin swallows, unsure of how to answer. He’s not all that versed on dating, and none of his friends are very keen on getting him to. Seokjin sometimes tries to wheedle his ideal type out of him, but Hoseok has as much interest in Jimin’s romantic tastes as he does in noona romance dramas, and Namjoon just pats his shoulder and tells him to be open to anything because you never know when love will strike you.

Jimin guesses he’s right, to some degree, even though he hates to admit it because Namjoon sometimes talks like he thinks he’s the second coming of Buddha. “I guess just if someone isn’t nice,” he says slowly. “If they don’t like my friends, or they think I should spend less time with myself, or if they don’t like the fact that I like making banana-peanut butter protein shakes in the morning even though the blender is loud.”

Suga snorts. “You have depressingly low standards. Although, I gotta admit, waking a guy up in the morning when he’s trying to sleep is some kind of evil.”

“Well, maybe we could compromise,” Jimin mutters, more to himself than Suga, but Suga catches it anyways and laughs. It’s weird because Suga is as emotive as an unpainted brick, and seeing him smile is…not really something Jimin is used to. Not something he’s sure he could ever get used to. When he’s gathered himself again, his eyes flicker behind Jimin, and his tiny smile comes back.

“We’ve got company,” he whispers. He then shifts his gaze back to meet Jimin’s. “But before that, while we still have two seconds of alone time, I'd like to inform you that I know the name White-Out never existed.”

Jimin sputters. "What?"

Yoongi shrugs, looking far too pleased with himself. "Databases," he answers simply. "Even camp's got 'em. Now wipe the scared look off your face, you're on."

Jimin doesn’t know how to respond without completely outing himself. It's fortunate that V pops out of nowhere when he does, bearing down on Suga’s shoulders and grinning blindingly. Mr. Black is the New Black is standing off to the side, looking like he’d rather be anywhere but here.

“Guys, guys, guys,” V chants as if he doesn’t already have their attention. “This is Pete Wentz. He wants to sit with us.”

Suga doesn’t even bother to hide his disbelief. “Pete Wentz.”

The kid shifts. “It wasn’t my choice, okay,” he says defensively. “My real name is Jungkook—”

“Hey, hey, hey, Pete Wentz,” V scolds, clucking disapprovingly. “We are not supposed to shatter this delicate reality by revealing our final forms. Don’t do it again or I’ll turn you in to Hobie.”

Jungkook looks between Suga and Jimin helplessly. Suga shrugs, and Jimin gives him what he hopes is a look of sad understanding because he sadly understands. “Fine,” he finally manages, pointing towards the spot on the bench next to Jimin. “Can I sit here, uh—?”

Jimin blanks trying to remember his fake name. He actually almost says Puff out loud. “Rap Monster,” he answers, a little strained.

Jungkook frowns. He gestures behind him somewhere. “But I just met a—” he starts, and when Jimin realizes what he’s about to say, he nearly leaps out of his seat in an effort to shut him up.

“Oh, sorry!” he says from where he’s clutching Jungkook’s black shirt, having missed his mouth by a good four inches when he’d tried to jump and cover it. Jungkook is staring down at him like he’s not of this world, and Jimin coughs and smooths out the wrinkles his fist had left behind. “I’m just—I have to pee.”

He wastes no time hopping up and scurrying over to the bathrooms. When he drops Namjoon’s nametag back into his hands without any context, Namjoon gives him a confused look. He clasps both hands in his, looks into his eyes, and says, "If a Pete Wentz tells you that there's a you impersonator walking around, don't be afraid. He's just misunderstood."

He leaves before Namjoon can answer, sitting in a bathroom stall until it’s time to split into groups and get their kids assigned to them. He doesn’t see any of his three new acquaintances before he leaves, and he crosses his fingers that he won’t run into them again for a very, very long time.

*******

Well, he does run into them again, but he chalks it up to the fact that V is a low-key stalker.

“Rap Monster!” he calls from where he’s got his kids at the playground. Jimin is across the way, out in the field, and his kids are all turning to look at the weirdo counselor who has a tiny girl riding on his shoulders. “Come play with us!”

“We’re playing football!” Jimin calls back, ball resting beneath his foot, but V’s suggestion has incited a rebellion in his kids. They all complain about how they’ve played two whole games already, and I wanna ride the slides, I wanna climb the jungle gym, I want to swing so high I go upside down, so Jimin gives and kicks the ball towards V, who is still facing him expectantly. He stops it with his own foot, careful not to jostle the child perched on his shoulders, and gestures with his hands for him to join.

Jimin shakes his head and smiles when V turns, holding out his arms and pretending to fly off like an airplane, the little girl holding tight to his head and giggling maniacally.

Jungkook, on the other hand, is standing with his arms crossed out to the side again, nearly swimming in his own black aura. The kids stay far away from him, as if they’re all scared, and Jimin isn’t sure what possessed this guy to become a camp counselor of all things. Jimin jogs up to him, counting his kids as they take off for the playground until he reaches twenty, and then stops by Jungkook’s side. “So you ended up with V as your co-counselor?”

“He insisted. He’s kind of hard to say no to.” Jungkook watches V drop to his knees and bend over so the girl can hop off him. Three other kids immediately cluster around him, demanding to be next. Jimin doesn’t miss how Jungkook’s hands grasp tighter at his own arms when V smiles. “What about you? No co-counselor?”

“No, I have one.” Jimin thumbs at the nametag he has around his neck. He’d swapped with his co-counselor, honestly, just in case something like this happened. It was under the guise of it “being a joke” to “confuse the kids,” but he figures that joke will become stale after a few days of using it, and then he’s not sure what he’ll do when he runs into Suga.

And the other two, he reminds himself belatedly. Yeah. Them too.

"Did he ditch you?" Jungkook continues as he watches the kids run. A girl tackles a boy, and they both fall to the ground in fits of laughter. (Jimin will swear until the day he dies that Jungkook almost, almost smiles.)

"No. I ditched him, actually. One of our boys scraped his knee, so he took him in."

"Ah." Jungkook glances at him. "Actually, I have another question for you."

Jimin already knows what it is. "Yeah?"

"Are you Rap Monster, or is the other guy Rap Monster?"

Jimin puts his hand over his forehead dramatically. "We both are. It's complicated."

He expects Jungkook to call his bullshit and ask what the real reason behind Jimin stealing Namjoon's name is, but he just nods instead. "I'll pray for you both to solve your identity crises."

Welp, Jimin isn't about to deny himself a Free Pass out of explaining away his embarrassment. "You're too kind, Pete Wentz, my friend."

Jungkook facepalms. "I hate that name."

Jimin almost feels bad that Jungkook hadn't thought of hiding his own, too, but hey, not everyone can be a genius-turned-idiot like he is.

“Where’s Suga?” he finally asks, ever the one-track mind, as he swivels his body around to check that he isn’t hidden somewhere. Jungkook raises an eyebrow.

“Well, he’s on the leadership committee, so probably off doing something important."

Jimin's jaw drops. "Leadership? That guy?"

"Yeah. He's super famous here or something for being a wizard with kids." Jungkook rubs at his neck. "He and Princess Peach have been co-counselors for a couple years now, I think.”

Jimin’s heart deflates like a popped balloon. “Wait. He knows Princess Peach?”

Jungkook nods, still watching V as he scales the rock wall that he's already almost as tall as. “Yeah. Why, do you know him?”

“Yeah,” Jimin says. “Yeah, I do.”

Jungkook shrugs. "It's okay. According to V, Princess Peach doesn't really seem to know him back. No one does."

*******

When Jimin confronts Seokjin about Suga, he doesn’t deny anything. In fact, he acts kind of surprised that Jimin is interested at all.

“Why are you asking?” he questions, leaning back on the side of his car. Jimin had followed him out to the parking lot before approaching him, just to make sure he wouldn’t be caught by Suga or V. Or both. But mostly V. “I didn’t even realize you knew Suga.”

“I—don’t. Not really. I just met him yesterday.”

Seokjin nods slowly, considering. “Suga’s been a counselor for a long time now. He’s one of the best at what he does. He’s kind of grumpy, but he's more than decent with kids.”

Jimin thinks about how he handles V with eye rolls and sarcasm alongside soft smiles and bitchy-but-well-intentioned encouragement. “I could see that.”

“Should I be concerned that you’re asking about him?”

Jimin shakes his head as convincingly as he can manage. “Why would you be concerned? I just heard from someone that you knew him, too. That’s all.”

The grin that spreads across Seokjin’s face is slow and kind of scary. “Should I mention a ‘Puff’ and see how he reacts?”

Jimin tenses. “No. Absolutely not. Never in a million years.”

“Why not?”

“Well.” Jimin kind of sighs because he knows he's about to get a lecture, but Seokjin is already giving him the eye. Resistance is futile. “I may have given him the wrong camp counselor name. Twice.”

Seokjin frowns. “Why would you do that?”

“Because!” Jimin struggles for words that won’t offend him. (He gives up on that route within two seconds of thinking.) “Because…he just seems too cool to hang out with somebody named Puff, you know?”

“I don’t know why you keep suggesting that Puff is an uncool name. Puff is the coolest name.”

“Seokjin, you are old and you understand nothing about my generation.”

“I’m not that old!” Seokjin uncrosses his arms, pushing at Jimin’s shoulder. It’s supposed to be threatening, but it’s just kind of soft and gentle because Seokjin is more like a stuffed animal than a person. “Besides, Suga’s not cool. And he’s only a year younger than me. You’re a child compared to him.”

“Am not. I’ve been legal for a whole year now.”

Even Jimin is aware that he sounds like a huffy toddler, but he’s too strangely offended by the insinuation that he is too young to be friends with Suga to care.

“Fine, whatever. I won’t mention that you have the best name of all time if it offends you that badly.” He opens his car door and hesitates. “But…Jimin.”

Jimin pushes himself off of the car hood, shoving his hands in his pockets. His own shitty Cruiser is just across the lot, but he lingers because Seokjin is looking at him like he's concerned. “Yeah?”

“Suga is…” Seokjin rolls his words over his tongue for a moment, as if trying to pick out the right flavor. “He’s a bit of an enigma. Just…don’t be too hurt if he does something not so stellar, okay?”

Jimin doesn’t really get what he means, but he responds with “okay” anyways. His car is an inviting barrier against the chill of the summer night, but he stays to watch Seokjin’s backlights wink through the trees until they’ve disappeared behind the bend.

*******

When Jimin walks in the next morning, Namjoon is talking animatedly to Seokjin and Hoseok. They’re the only ones there – it’s hella early, even for the camp counselors like Seokjin who wake at the crest of sunrise to sing to the birds and prechew Grandma's food for her – so Jimin drops his stuff against the wall and wanders over to see what the fuss is about.

“And then I asked him what his real name was,” Namjoon is saying when Jimin tunes in from behind him. “He told me that he hadn’t said his real name, so I wouldn’t know it, and that he must have gotten the wrong number or something. It was so bizarre. I don’t even know where that came from.”

“What’s going on?” Jimin pipes up to announce his presence. Namjoon turns around to peer at him before stepping aside to let him into the circle.

“Namjoon was just talking about how one of our head counselors texted him last night,” Hoseok says, and he doesn’t look very enthused by it. “He apparently got his number from the rosters we keep of everybody. Not exactly the most professional thing he’s ever done.”

“Suga is usually one of the most professional people we have,” Seokjin says calmly. He shifts his eyes towards Jimin at the mention of the name, who, just as expected, has lit up in curiosity. Seokjin clears his throat. “There must be some reason he texted him. Maybe he received a complaint or a word of advice or something?”

Namjoon looks skeptical. “He just asked me if I remembered him,” he says dubiously. “Said something about how he wanted to thank me for setting up V and Billie Joe Armstrong. Whatever that means. That was around the time I figured he thought I was someone else, but I’d heard enough stories about him to be curious.”

“What kind of stories?” Jimin asks again. Seokjin is outright staring at him now, but Jimin finds it incredibly easy to just avoid his attempt at eye contact the exact same way he does with his actual mother.

“Do you not know about Suga?” Namjoon asks. “He’s, like, the ultimate hero of this camp. He got outlawed from getting Counselor of the Week once back in ’09 because he got it literally the entire summer. Kids just gravitate towards him, and nobody knows why.”

Jimin just holds his gaze for a minute. "Seriously? Him? Are we all sure we're talking about the same person, 'cuz I am pretty sure one of us is mistaken."

"It's true," Seokjin says, sounding a little defeated. "He may not look it, but he's really good with the campers."

Namjoon snorts. “Yeah, well. That would explain why he’s apparently bad with everyone else.”

Jimin frowns. “What do you mean? Is he not good with people?”

“Not exactly. I’ve been at this camp for a couple years, and he’s never bothered to introduce himself.” Namjoon shrugs. “He just really hangs out with that other guy. The loud one. V, right?”

“Yeah,” Jimin answers, too fast, too sure, but Namjoon doesn’t notice. He just nods and shrugs again.

“Whatever. It was just weird is all.” He glances up at the clock on the wall, cursing. “Shoot, everyone’s gonna be here in five minutes and I haven’t even started making breakfast.”

“I was wondering if you’d ever get around to doing that,” Hoseok says. For once, it sounds more like a joke and less like him being the Adolf Hitler of the archery range. Namjoon flips him off while he still can without getting ticketed by camp rules, and Hoseok laughs and waves him off, stepping away with Seokjin to head back to their offices and get ready for the day.

This leaves Jimin to do…well, nothing, considering he's a noob with no real responsibilities when his kids aren't around, so he decides to go outside and lay on the basketball courts and maybe take a nap before he has to channel all his energy into entertaining children for the day.

It’s cloudy. Jimin usually likes this kind of weather when he’s watching the speckled sky from inside a car or behind the walls of a house, but at times like this, when he’s trying to sleep with the warmth of the sun as his blanket, it mostly just means random cold spots ahoy whenever one decides it's more important than his body temperature. He rolls from one side to the other, curling up and stretching out as the clouds permit, until he hears the sound of a rubber ball bouncing at the far end of the court. Squinting, he lifts his head up just in time to see the outline of Suga’s body against a far-off veil of trees as he shoots in perfect form.

A basketball falls from the sky and lands with a quiet swish in the hoop above his head, and Jimin yelps and rolls out of the way before it can bruise his face.

Suga laughs as he walks up to him. “Nice rolling. You’ll live for a long time with reflexes like those.”

“I’ll live for a long time if people don’t kill me, too,” Jimin grumbles, but he sits up anyways, rubbing dirt out of his hair. He hits at his shirt and coughs when a whole attic's worth of dust spirals up into the reach of his lungs. “Is everyone starting to show up now?”

Suga shrugs, wandering off to grab his basketball. “Probably. I didn’t see anyone, though.”

Jimin frowns. “Seok—I mean. Princess Peach and Hobie were inside earlier.”

“Yeah, they were,” Suga confirms, making another shot. It falls in just as effortlessly as the first. “Rap Monster was there, too.”

Jimin freezes, but Suga’s attention isn’t even on him. He’s jogging after the ball again, but there’s something in his gait, something in the back of his blonde-ass head, that says that he’s laughing at Jimin somehow. “Yeah, I know about him. And about you. Although one thing I still don’t know is your actual counselor’s name.”

Jimin closes his eyes slowly. "Why do you want to know so badly?"

The sound of the basketball continues. "Isn't it normal to want to know a friend's name?"

Friend. The word is kind of weird. "It's not even my name."

"Same difference."

Well. He’s already gotten caught twice. He fingers his co-counselor’s badge again. Looks like it’ll come in use, after all. “It’s…Dunkaroo. My name is Dunkaroo.”

“I don’t even know if I believe you.”

“It is," Jimin says defensively. He tries to counter his own terrible lying skills by throwing the question back. "Why would I believe that your name is Suga? You could have lied, too.”

Suga makes a face. “If I lied about it, I would have come up with a way better name than Suga. I’m not a complete idiot.”

Jimin snorts. “What’s the story behind that, anyways?”

Suga steps back to half court, dribbling the ball a couple times. He chucks it with all the power he has in his little biceps, and this time, he misses. Jimin breaks into robust applause from his spot on the ground. “When I first joined as a counselor, I didn’t want to do it at all. It was volunteer work for my school, and my mom insisted that I be around kids to ‘lighten me up.’ So when they gave us those papers to fill out to help name us, I filled out an entire page of things that I hated.” He walks lazily after the ball this time. Jimin draws his knees to his chest and watches. “Most of them were kids and stuff kids do, so I’m sure they had a great first impression of me.”

“Excuse my lack of understanding, but how the hell did Suga come out of that?”

Suga smiles wryly as he fishes the ball out of a bush and turns back around, tossing it in Jimin’s direction. Jimin almost falls over from the surprise, but he catches it, thankfully. “Hobie is a sarcastic bitch. That’s how.”

Knowing Hoseok for years makes Jimin very quick to agree with this. “So it wasn’t Seok—er, Princess Peach that named you?”

“Nah. Seokjin didn’t join til the year after I did.” Suga gestures for Jimin to stand, so he does, awkwardly dribbling the ball with clumsy palms. Suga watches from the sidelines as Jimin shoots (probably exactly like a middle schooler, but Jimin’s hoping he won’t say anything) and misses by a mile. He does manage to smoothly catch the ball before it can run off somewhere it doesn’t belong. “I wish he had, though. He may come up with lame names, but at least they aren’t passive aggressive.”

Jimin bends over to fake tie his shoe so Suga won’t throw the ball back to him. “Trust me when I say you definitely do not want him to think you up a name.”

“Sound a little more bitter, why don’t you. Dunkaroo isn’t that bad.”

Jimin bites his lip and says nothing.

Jimin is bent over his shoe for way longer than is socially acceptable, but Suga doesn’t comment. He doesn’t say anything at all, really, until they both hear someone calling in the distance. “Yoongi! Min Yoongi, I swear to God, where are you—”

“Over here!” Suga calls without turning around, shooting another basket. (He misses and curses under his breath.) “And can you not use my real name right now? We’re at work, asshole.”

“We’re also not allowed to curse. Don't make me write you up—” Jimin finally looks up as Hoseok approaches. Hoseok stops immediately once he spots Jimin. There's a look of unbridled confusion swirling in his expression. “Wait, what are you doing here?”

“I was just leaving,” Jimin says hurriedly. He knows for a fact that, if he stays back long enough, Hoseok will most definitely call him Puff because it’s his new favorite pastime. Heck, everything that makes Jimin jut out his bottom lip and whine is Jung Hoseok’s new favorite pastime, really. He turns back to Suga, who has let his ball roll off somewhere in favor of observing the two of them. “I’ll—see you around?”

Suga nods once, glancing at Hoseok, who is still squinting at them like an overprotective mother. It's not exactly clear which one of them he’s wanting to shelter. Maybe both. “See you around, Dunks.”

Jimin kind of wishes his name really was Dunkaroo. Suga seems all too pleased with the nickname once it rolls out of his mouth.

*******

Hoseok doesn’t let it go, to Jimin’s unsurprise. In fact, he doesn't let it go so hard that he breaks his own rules (what a fucking dictator) to pull Jimin away from his kids outside of the mess hall. Once they're relatively out of earshot, he looks at Jimin, who is still bearing a paper plate full of food and a giant frown. “You. How do you know Suga?”

Jimin holds the plate stacked with pizza and sweets out in front of him so that Hoseok can’t get too close. “He ran into me, and then suddenly he and V were my friends, and I don’t really know how that happened.”

"Only you would make friends without meaning to."

"Only you would somehow make that a bad thing." Jimin steps to the side, but Hoseok follows from the front. "Come on, I'm hungry."

Hoseok gives him a hawkish look before staring down at the contents of his meal. “Park Jimin, nobody needs four cookies with their lunch.”

“They looked tasty!” Jimin protests. "Stop being Seokjin. It doesn't suit you."

“Princess Peach. And you’re setting a bad example for the kids.”

"Yeah, well. Your face scares the kids, so really, who's the villain here?"

"Park Puff," Hoseok says warningly. Jimin rolls his eyes.

"Fine. I give. Can I eat?"

Hoseok stares with squinted eyes. He still looks a little off, curve of his lips tugged towards the ground, but he steps aside to let him pass anyways. As he regains his footing and makes to step forward, though, he grabs his arm. Jimin is about to complain about the fake-out when he speaks. “You know, Min Yoongi doesn’t make friends easily.”

Jimin knows for a fact that using Suga’s real name means this is serious. He would never break his own rules of conduct otherwise. Not where the kids could hear. He looks down at Hoseok's fingers clasped around his elbow. “I’ve heard.”

Hoseok nods as if he’s satisfied with this answer. “Good. Then you know that once you’re his friend, you’re his friend for life.”

When it’s put that way, it sounds almost…intimidating. Jimin tries to think himself out of that, too. “I guess that’s fair to expect out of a friendship?”

He finally lets him go, eyes still wandering to the confections on his plate. “Just treat him right. And share your goddamn cookies, Jimin, Jesus Christ.”

Treat him right. Jimin kind of knows why the words are making him defensive, but he doesn't know why they're making him tense.

When Suga walks in a few minutes later with his kids, Jimin fights the urge to wave because Hoseok is still watching. So he ignores him.

Jimin doesn't know what he was expecting, but he feels a teeny bit hurt when he gets ignored right back. Until he feels a paper plate swat at the back of his head, that is.

He turns and sees blonde hair disappearing to the other side of the room without stopping, and he smiles.

(By the end of lunch, he's given away all his cookies to kids in an indirect apology because Hoseok is still staring.)

*******

When Dunkaroo comes up to Jimin a week later with this totally hilarious story about how one of the committee counselors had texted him up asking if his hip had healed from being trampled by a pack of Swags, Jimin knows he’s been caught again.

By the time he's physically caught, it's been a long time coming. He's been avoiding Suga all day under the pretense that he hasn't even found time to breathe beyond the kids attached to the back of his neck, let alone brainstorm a new realistic-sounding name that will keep him off his back for a couple more days.

He can only really blame himself for not being prepared. Suga wastes no time cutting to the chase when he runs into him as he’s escorting his kids to their cars at the end of the day. He doesn’t even seem to mind that Jimin is currently sat in a chair with a girl on his lap, rocking her as they wait for her mom to come and speaking in little whispers as if they own the world, and everyone else is their imaginary friends.

They stop murmuring to each other shortly when he just stalks up and goes, “So what name do you have for me today?”

The girl blinks up at Yoongi with big eyes and turns to Jimin. “Puffles, what is he talking about?”

Suga literally chokes.

“Um,” he starts wildly, bringing his hand up to cover her mouth before she says anything else embarrassing while Suga tries in vain to gather himself before he explodes. “Counselor Suga is…he’s just…hey, is that your mom pulling up?”

He points to a van in the distance, and she squints before brightening and licking his hand to make him pull away. (He's not particularly grossed out by that anymore, but he decides to let her have her fun.) “Yeah, that’s mommy!”

“Why don’t we take you over to her, huh?” He stands, adjusting her against his hip, and tries hard to meet Suga’s eyes without chickening out and looking away. “I’ll be back in two seconds, okay?”

Suga nods, one hand clamped over his own mouth and the other gripping the railing lining the porch Jimin sits on. He actually looks like he might be having an asthma attack minus the faint shake of his shoulders.

Jimin hurries away before his laughter actually forces his way out of him. He honestly would rather not hear it. The weenie side of him tells him to go straight to the parking lot and drive away once he's delivered the girl into her booster seat with a tiny smile and a promise of more fun tomorrow, but the side of him that never fails to get him into trouble wins out over it, bringing him back in the direction of the cabin where Suga's blonde hair is floating like an apparition in front of the bleak-colored wall.

He doesn't know why that instinct always manages to express itself. One would think that evolution would have gotten rid of all of Jimin's self-destructive qualities by now.

Suga is stoic again. He has sat himself down in the chair Jimin had vacated, legs crossed and hands poised delicately over his thighs. He almost looks like a doll, posed as if one of the five-year-olds had pushed his limbs into place and told him to stay like that. When Jimin approaches, he looks up at him without flinching and goes, “So Puffles, huh.”

It’s dark enough for Suga not to notice Jimin’s blush, but that doesn’t mean that Jimin doesn’t feel it. “It’s just Puff. Only a few of the kids call me Puffles.”

“Is it safe to assume it’s the real one this time?”

Jimin shrugs. “Considering you almost burst a blood vessel laughing about it? Probably.”

Suga stares at him, as if gauging whether or not he’s telling the truth. Jimin meets it with a raised chin and a puffed up chest in a desperate attempt to overcome the shade that his real name has probably thrown on him, but Yoongi's face shows no indication of how successful he is.

He finally stands, wiping his hands on his pants. Jimin straightens just a little more. “Good. I was getting tired of texting wrong numbers.”

Well, at least he's not going to beat him up for lunch money. That's news.

Jimin doesn't know what comes over him then. He'd read somewhere that smiling can make you actually happy and frowning can make you actually sad, so it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to say that maybe his faked confidence somehow inspired in him a fit of real bravery. Before he can stop his mouth from running, he finds himself saying, “You know, I could just give you my number so you could stop snooping around the office for it.”

Suga raises an eyebrow. It is the most powerful eyebrow Jimin has ever faced in his entire life. Final Boss Lvl 900. “But where’s the fun in that?”

Jimin juts one hip out and inspects his nails. “I mean, talking to me in general is pretty fun, so.”

Suga taps his chin exaggeratedly, eyelashes fluttering past the electric light of the patio that Jimin had left on. Then, he fishes around in his pocket for a pen and holds out his entire arm like a canvas. “Alright. Write it down, and I’ll text you later.”

Jimin hesitates, but he takes the pen. His fingers aren’t shaking this time, which is good, considering his handwriting sucks shit when he's perfectly calm and writing on an actual piece of paper instead of penning down a makeshift tattoo on somebody's forearm. He scratches out his number, doodling a tiny version of his face next to the last digit, and, after a moment’s thought, writes “Jimin” beneath it. Suga peers down at it, and there it is – that tiny smile, the one that he'd gotten when V had talked to Jungkook and when he'd been asking about Jimin's boyfriend reservations. Jimin feels a little out of place, being the reason behind his smile, up until he opens his mouth and says, “You really suck at drawing.”

Jimin gives him the most heartfelt bitch face he has ever made. “I already knew that.”

“Just thought I’d confirm it.” He withdraws, pulling his long-sleeved t-shirt back down over his forearm until it covers half his hand. (Suga with sweaterpaws is about the strangest thing Park Jimin has ever seen. He wonders if Min Yoongi with sweaterpaws would be any different.) “I’ll catch you later, Puffles.”

Suga seems just as pleased with this nickname as the last one. Jimin watches him as he crosses the parking lot with his hands in the butt pockets of his jeans and chin tipped towards the undercover stars and tries in vain to pretend that it's a good thing.

*******

Chapter Text

Suga, surprisingly, doesn’t text Jimin immediately. In fact, he doesn't text him for days, and Jimin begins to feel like that chick in old teen romance movies who got stood up to prom after a while. They don’t see each other at camp much, either, which is great because Jimin doesn't even know how to even begin to talk to him, and when they do, they share nods. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing in between.

He runs into V and Jungkook regularly, though. V talks about Suga a lot when he's absent – enough to make it feel like he’s there, lingering like a ghost, all but ready to make a snarky comment about how Jimin is chewing on his lips like the sound of his name is making him nervous.

Which it is. Sort of.

He does get a message from an unknown number a week and a half later, but it isn't Suga. His heart jumps into his throat for the two seconds it takes for him to open it, but there’s a lot of emoticons and strange, middle-school-level abbreviations that Jimin could never picture Yoongi sending.

As it turns out, it's V. Go figure.

puffles!! hey hey suga gave me ur # and may or may not have told me abt ur name hehe it’s rly cute :-) why’d u hide it for so long? i could just squish ur cheeks w/ a name like that omg

but thats not the point oops, the point is that sugs n petey are coming over to my house this weekend for Camp Fun Boyz initiation n if i don’t see u there i will actually be pickin up my heart frm the floor

so u better come :-) :-) :-) i’ll send u my address in like 2 sec i have to go look @ the mailbox bc i forgot it

Jimin stares at the message so long his eyes cross. Decoding electronic correspondence should not make him feel this old.

That’s how he ends up at V’s house that Saturday, nursing a Red Bull because V had insisted that, if he refuses to drink alcohol for initiation, he has to drink something mildly unhealthy and kind of hardcore. Jungkook has a matching one because he’s still underaged, and V, being a well-trained camp counselor and a professional wannabe cop, is a stickler for the law. Suga has been sipping from the same concoction of vodka and aloe juice all night, but V has gone through three full-to-the-brim red solo cups in the same time span. Not only is he toeing the line between tipsy and drunk, but he has had to pee five times in an hour. Jimin doesn’t even know how he lives.

Suga starts subtly swapping his drinks with nonalcoholic ones around 9p.m., and Jimin is thankful for him yet again.

“So,” V starts well into the night, tongue just the tiniest bit heavy. “I’m sure you’ve all been wondering why I decided to do this this weekend!”

“I’m not,” Suga says.

“That’s because you already know.” V clears his throat theatrically, holding a fist up in the air and almost tipping backwards. Suga presses gentle hands against the small of his back to keep him upright. “So, a millennium ago—”

“Three years ago.”

“Shut up, Sugs,” V says authoritatively, squinting at him. “A millennium ago, Suga basically camp-adopted me when I joined as a real stupid sixteen-year-old, and we made the camp subset Fun Boyz because we're the funnest people this side of the whole wide world.

Both of Suga's hands slowly creep up to cover his face as V speaks. “It was his idea,” he insists.

“We’ve been just the two of us for a long time,” V continues uninterrupted, “but this year, we met two of the coolest cats in the universe, even on the moon, so we had to take this opportunity to snag ‘em before someone else did!”

“You make this sound like some kind of cult initiation,” Jungkook says with a grimace. “I’m not cutting my hand open and putting a spell on it.”

Suga raises his eyebrows in genuine surprise. “You mean you don’t already do that?”

“Just because I like Linkin Park doesn’t mean I worship the devil!”

Guys,” V says. "Petey, Sugs, my main brochachos, we can't be fighting right now when there's important stuffs to do." He hiccups once, and everyone falls silent. “The initiation, which me and Suga but mostly me decided, is to say your real name. Then, we’re like brothers.” He coughs, looking at Jungkook. “Well, not real brothers. Like, there's no blood between us, y'know, so it wouldn’t be weird if something kiss-related happened—”

“Okay,” Suga interrupts, sliding his hand over V’s mouth as Jungkook stares in horror, “Puffs, you go first, before the hole he’s digging becomes his grave.”

“Um.” Jimin looks at Suga, whose eyes are flickering in the candlelight V had set up for mood lighting. His hair looks gray without the sun glinting off it. “I’m…Jimin? Park Jimin.”

Suga nods, but he doesn’t react besides that. Jimin finds himself fighting back disappointment when he immediately turns to Jungkook to continue.

“Jeon Jungkook,” Jungkook says. He looks relieved to be able to use his real name. Jimin feels that on a four-dimensional level.

V says something that’s muffled by Suga’s palm. Suga removes it belatedly, staring at him in amusement. “Kim Taehyung!” he announces again, grin blinding. “And Suga is—”

“Min Yoongi.”

Everyone turns all at once. Jimin realizes a beat too late that he was the one who'd said it.

Wow, what the fuck, he isn't even drunk, though.

“Um.” He rubs the back of his neck. “Sorry, I…heard Hobie say it once.”

Suga’s lip twitches. “Glad to know once is all it took.”

Jimin plays with his hands. “It might have been twice,” he says softly, and it really doesn't help the stares he can feel burning the top of his head. Nobody speaks for a second. The world is basking in their awkward, the night ricocheting off the window in a quiet plea for noise, and it is in this moment that V decides to sit up and reach for his drink. It's a shame that it gets knocked down, really, and it's absolutely tragic what it does to Jungkook's shoes, but all Jimin can think of is how grateful he is to V for being a drunken moron. All attention falls off Jimin as Jungkook swears and stands. Suga crawls out of the way of the trailing puddle he's made, and V just stares up at Jungkook like a beaten puppy until his face softens and he mutters something about cleaning it up.

When Jungkook disappears to get paper towels and V is left grinning sheepishly at the aftermath on the floor, coughing like he might puke, Suga is still staring at Jimin, something caught in his eyes that isn’t the wick’s flame.

*******

“Hey, Puffles. Could you help me with this?”

It’s been a good week or so now, and Jimin is still not used to Yoongi both a) using his stupid as shit camp name regularly, and b) talking to him at camp at all, considering Yoongi is an independent string bean who don't need no scrawny, fresh-out-of-high-school Q-tip as a friend. In this instance, however, he is doing both from behind a large stack of cardboard boxes balanced unsteadily in his arms. Jimin hops up immediately and scuttles over to heave the top two off the stack, nearly toppling when he realizes they are full to the absolute brim with water balloons. “Um. Yoongi?”

“It’s Suga here,” Yoongi deadpans, even though Jimin can only see the top of his eyes from over the boxes he still holds. “Keep the personals in check.”

“Sorry.” He shifts the boxes in his arms, and one balloon jumps out like a sentient being, landing on the floor with a splash of water that gets itself all over his shoes. He mentally forces himself not to jump. “Can I ask what these are for…?”

“Think about who I’m friends with and make a wild guess.” Yoongi straightens himself and sets off in an uneven gait towards the main cabin. Jimin follows after only a little more gracefully, huffing past the strain in his arms. Man, who ever said water balloons should be this heavy? “V is in the process of organizing a camp-wide water balloon fight.”

“I didn’t hear about this.”

“He hasn’t actually pitched it yet. He just thought having the materials would make them more likely to say yes.” As they approach the doors, Yoongi pauses, shuffling on his feet. “Okay. Door. How do you door.”

Seokjin pops his head out from the inside as if he’d heard them, eyebrows raised. He looks Yoongi up and down before letting his gaze travel back to where Jimin is awkwardly poised. “Um. Why?”

“Taehyung,” Yoongi answers begrudgingly, and Jimin feels a little cross that he can drop the camp formalities with Seokjin. (Not that it matters. Nope. Seokjin is his co-counselor, of course they'd be able to do that.) “Can I just put these in storage for now? He went a little nuts.”

Seokjin eyes him dubiously, but he steps aside nonetheless, holding the door for the both of them to make their way through. Yoongi drops his boxes unceremoniously in the closet, where Jimin can see the outlines of water gun stacks and arts-and-crafts boxes full of macaroni pasta on all the shelves. Jimin waits patiently until he moves, settling his gently beside them and clapping his hands off.

“He must have gotten up really early to fill all those,” Seokjin says, voice a little awed. Yoongi grimaces and kicks at the side of one of them.

“He called me at four in the morning until I woke up, asking if I would help. I told him to fuck off.” He turns to Jimin, hands on his hips, and nods. “Thanks for the help, Puffs. You’re hereby released from duty.”

Jimin pauses, a bit taken aback. “I mean, I wasn’t really doing anything before, so…”

“Then find something to do,” Yoongi replies, a little callously, before turning back to Seokjin. Jimin gapes at the back of his head. “Let’s talk kids. If this whole water balloon thing works out, I do not want Kim Minwoo anywhere near one. You know he’ll pop it in his sister’s hair, and she’ll cry.”

“Yeah,” Seokjin says, only half paying attention as his eyes slot to where Jimin has been somewhat brutally dismissed. He shrugs helplessly and somewhat apologetically as Yoongi starts walking towards the conference room, still talking a mile a minute, before following him.

Jimin leaves the cabin more than a little deflated and decides to try to take another nap on the basketball courts.

(Yoongi doesn't show up that day. Jimin is definitely not disappointed.)

*******

The water balloon fight doesn’t happen, but when Jimin catches Taehyung lingering on the outskirts of the playground, he doesn’t look all that disappointed.

In fact, he looks a little manic. Not exactly what Jimin had been expecting. The second he catches sight of him, he abandons Jungkook with his kids to run up to him and grab his arm. “Jimin, have you heard the plan?”

“If you’re talking about the failed attempt at a water balloon fight, then yes.”

“It wasn’t failed,” Taehyung says, rolling his eyes. “Everybody here is a party pooper. They agreed to do it in two weeks because apparently spontaneity is of the devil. But!” He holds a finger up, diabolical grin on his face. It's scary how the kid can transition so easily between creepy facial expressions. It's even scarier that Jimin is still listening while he's looking at him like that. “I have an extremely awesome idea for it.”

“Do I really want to be in on this?”

“Absolutely.” He glances behind his shoulder as if checking on Jungkook, who is currently being addressed by a very adamant five-year-old about something and looking very scared. Taehyung seems to take this as an a-ok, though, because he turns back around and drops his voice to a whisper. “We’re going to troll the heck out of Suga.”

Jimin’s stomach drops at the sound of his name. “What? How?”

“Well, they said that the fight would be during superhero camp. And I thought: hey, what if there was a villain creeping around, scaring the bajeezus out of the kids?” Taehyung snaps his fingers, looking extremely pleased with himself. “And so, Suga. He has the scariest face out of all of us, right?”

Jimin looks behind him at where Jungkook is now standing alone with his arms crossed, watching the kids with a look of stony impassiveness to cover up the fact that a toddler had just almost made him shit his pants. He questions whether he even has a heart. “Well—”

“Not the point. So I asked Suga to do it, he said yes, happy ending. But then I thought, ‘hey, what if I armed my kids with a little extra something to annihilate the villain with and told them to be on the lookout’?”

Jimin screws up his face. “Please tell me you’re not giving them actual grenades or something.”

“That’s a health hazard, Puffs!” Taehyung giggles and repeats the name two more times, staccatoed "Puff Puffs," and Jimin has to bite back a groan. “No, I’m talking about the king of all kid war zone weapons. The life of the birthday party, the essence of all childhood Spidermen, whose aftermath is the bane of every parents’ existence.” He leans forward, eyebrows wiggling. “I’m talking about silly string.

Jimin stares blankly. “Okay. So you want to die is what you’re saying.”

Taehyung gives him a childish look. “Suga would never kill me. I’m his only friend.”

Only friend. The words almost sting.

“Besides you, of course,” Taehyung amends gracefully, but it somehow doesn’t make Jimin feel much better.

“So what are you wanting me to do?”

“Easy. You tell your kids the same thing I told them and give them extra silly string. The more sentries we’ve got against Suga’s villainous wrath, the better.” He grins, elbowing Jimin’s side. “What do you say?”

“I don’t know,” Jimin says dubiously. “Suga hasn’t acted very happy to see me since Saturday. I’d rather not get on his bad side.”

Taehyung’s eyebrows furrow at this. “What? Why would he not be happy?”

Jimin shrugs, toeing at a rock underfoot. “Dunno. He just doesn’t ever talk to me for long.”

“That’s just Suga. He’s all business all the time. You've gotta catch him when he's Yoongi.”

Jimin doesn’t mention the basketball courts or the three failed times that Yoongi had tried to get his number and the one successful time that he’d never used. Maybe he'd just been Yoongi then. Maybe Jimin has never really met Suga. “I don’t really see him outside camp.”

“Then why don’t you?” Taehyung asks, as if it’s as simple as that. Jimin looks up, eyes wide. “That’s how we became friends. I just started inviting him to my house, and he just…showed up.”

“Because,” Jimin splutters, “because I—I don’t have his number.”

“Easy! I’ll do it for you.” Taehyung whips out his phone, hands flying at the speed of light, and Jimin makes a noise of protest and wildly grabs at it. Taehyung skips away easily, cackling and holding his phone up above his head. “Sent! Now you can prove to yourself that he doesn’t hate you and join me in my quest to vanquish him. You have no excuse.”

“I have the excuse of ‘you just betrayed me,’” he accuses flimsily. “I didn’t ask you to do that!”

“Yes you did. You did it with your eyes.” Taehyung pockets his phone again, giving him a meaningful look. “You know, Suga probably does like you. He doesn’t talk to anybody here unless it’s about the kids, but I see him nod at you, like whoa. Heck, I've even seen him stop you before.”

“He doesn’t stop me,” Jimin mumbles. “When he does, it’s for, like, two seconds.”

Taehyung looks a little wistful. He pats Jimin’s shoulder, nodding like he knows. “Suga isn’t talky unless you make him be. That two seconds could become two hours, if you let it.”

*******

Yoongi finally, finally texts him. It’s after camp has ended and Jimin has long since gone home, eyes downcast when he'd passed him in the parking lot. Yoongi had stared him down (he could feel it crawling somewhere under his skin), but he’d kept his gaze steady on his shoes as he made his way to his car and left without a word.

It’s pretty much self-explanatory. So V says you want to see me.

Jimin scoffs at the text message. It doesn't take the second coming of Sherlock Holmes to figure out who it is. It’s after hours, holy hell, there is no reason he should still be using camp names. Yeah, Taehyung gets his head stuck on things and won’t budge, so.

Any reason why?

Jimin bites his lips, fingers hesitant over his onscreen keyboard. I dunno. I just haven’t gotten to talk to you much lately. Is that weird?

The response takes a painstakingly long time, and it sees Jimin throwing his phone down in frustration and pacing around his kitchen. (His mom is immediately on him until he tells her it's not her business and to go back to doing momly things instead of butting into his life all the time. Jimin likes to believe he's older than 19 sometimes, but he's really not.) Nah. Tomorrow after camp?

Jimin flops back down on his couch belly-down, blowing his fringe out of his face. There's a heavenly smell coming from the kitchen now, and it almost makes him feel better. Do I get to call you Yoongi?

When he gets a reply, he snorts, but he smiles, too. Sure. But I’m still going to call you Puffles.

*******

Yoongi insists on driving, even though Jimin had brought his car, too.

“Just leave it in the lot,” he orders as he walks in the direction of his own car. “We’ll come back for it. I have special privileges for being the camp favorite, anyways.”

Jimin is pretty sure that’s a lie, but he’s not above making Yoongi pay if he gets towed, anyways, so he obliges and climbs into the passengers’ side of his too-tall car. (Seriously, Yoongi is one of the shortest people Jimin knows besides himself. There is no need for those big ass wheels.) Yoongi hops up behind the steering wheel with a grunt as Jimin buckles himself up and settles into the cloth seat, hands placed neatly by his sides so he won’t accidentally smudge his finger grease anywhere or something. Yoongi raises an eyebrow at the stiffness in his shoulders, but he says nothing as he puts the car in drive and pulls out.

“So where are we going?” he asks conversationally, eyes on the road. Jimin subtly observes the side of his face until Yoongi turns his head to look out his window for a turn. He drops his eyes to his lap.

“I dunno. You’re the one with the car.”

“You’re the one who asked me out.”

Jimin’s hands fly up before he can even think about it. “It’s not like—”

“I’m just kidding. Lighten up, kid.”

“I’m perfectly light,” he says grumpily, dropping his hands to rest on his thighs. He plays with the edge of his shirt and tries to morph his face into something a little more stoic. “I want ice cream.”

“Shouldn't you eat dinner first?”

Jimin spares him a glance. “I don’t have to be wined and dined, you know. Seriously. Just give me sugar.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, but there it is. The smile. “Alright, did I pick up Puffs or one of the kids in disguise? I can’t tell.”

“I’m 19!”

Yoongi ignores his outburst, clicking on his turn signal and slotting the car onto the sidewalk outside of a convenience store. He puts it in park. Turns off the engine. Jimin stares at him, waiting for the punchline. “Alright. We’re here.”

“You are not actually taking me to a convenience store to get ice cream.”

“It’s cheap. The strawberry sauce ones are pretty good.” Yoongi gestures for him to open the door. “If I’m buying, I decide where we go.”

“You’re older than me, you’re supposed to buy.”

“And you’re younger than me, so you respect my decisions.”

Jimin squints. He finally pops the car door open, telling himself it’s because he’s hungry and not because he’s been defeated. “Fine. But I’m buying two.

“Go nuts. Hell, buy a Milkis while you're at it. Let'sreally break me.”

Jimin doesn't buy a Milkis (even though he does seriously consider it, purely out of revenge) but he does take Yoongi's advice and buys one of the strawberry sauce sundaes. He impulsively grabs a Drumstick, too, opening both at the same time because he is impatient, and ice cream is not something you wait to eat.

When Yoongi exits the store, he immediately turns right into an alleyway beside the store instead of going back to his car. Jimin almost falls trying to follow him. “Wait, whoa, where are we going?”

“You’ll see.” He drags them farther in, and if Jimin weren’t so busy licking melted ice cream from between his fingers, he’d be hella suspicious.

Until he sees the giant sign with the dog on it, anyways. Yoongi gestures to it calmly, as if that should serve as the answer to the questions in Jimin's eyes.

“Is that a dog café? Are you taking me to a dog café?

Yoongi nods blandly as if it isn’t the best thing ever. “I usually likes cat cafés better, but you seem more like a dog person.”

“Was this the secret plan along? I feel tricked.”

Yoongi smiles as if they’re both in on something. Jimin thinks that maybe they are. “Maybe it’s been the plan from the first time I met you.”

And there it is. Jimin doesn’t know what to do with that. No, really. If it weren't for Yoongi looking at him expectantly, he'd drop it like a hot potato. “Are you saying you always knew I was a dog person?”

“Are you kidding?" Yoongi snorts, and Jimin swats at the air beside his arm because he's pretty sure they're not quite at that level. "Your entire aura screams ‘give me a puppy.’”

“Nuh uh,” Jimin retorts, but he's already scaling the staircase to the second floor like a madman, two and three steps at a time. He makes it in a good ten seconds before the front door sees hide or tail of Yoongi, and as he steps towards the entryway, he can hear the telltale chorus of barking filtering through the walls.

The first set of ears pop up from behind the gate, and he audibly gasps.

“Hello,” the cashier greets after a few seconds of Jimin having an aggressive staring battle with the husky who's sniffing at the air in front of him, as if in challenge. Yoongi finally steps in behind him and toes off his shoes. The cashier glances unsurely at him. Jimin doesn't even acknowledge the fact that she’d spoken. “Um...how can I help you today?”

“I’d like to buy all your dogs,” Jimin says seriously. “All of them.”

“What he means to say,” Yoongi interjects, throwing a pouty Jimin a warning look, “is that we’d both like a matcha latte and a cinnamon honey toast.”

Yoongi pays again before escorting them to a place in the back corner (after instructing Jimin to take his shoes off before he bolts in, Jesus Christ) and settling down on a mattress pad. Jimin follows five steps behind because he gets distracted by every single dog that approaches him to sniff his feet, hands flying everywhere to touch everything until he isn't even sure which dog he's petting. By the time he joins Yoongi on the floor, he’s recruited a small army. They all cock their heads in unison as Jimin grins down at him.

“Dog whisperer in a past life?” Yoongi asks as Jimin finally settles down cross-legged and welcomes a fluffy Pomeranian into his lap.

“Maybe a Wild Thornberry. Cats like me, too.”

Yoongi whistles. “Impressive. What about people?”

“I think most people think I’m okay.”

“Fair enough.” When the cashier steps out with their order, Yoongi waves her over, even though they’re the only customers in the café as it is. “Wish I could be like that.”

“Do people not like you?” Jimin sniffs at the toast when it’s set in between them, licking his lips. Yoongi sticks the latte in his hand before curling his fingers around his own and shooing off a couple strays who look far too interested in their food.

“Probably.” Before Jimin can ask anything else, he points accusingly at his chest. “You just had two ice creams, and you’re still salivating over sugared toast?”

“Keyword being sugar,” Jimin reminds him, holding back his laprest from the bread. “Sugar is my favorite thing.”

Yoongi leans back, one hand propped behind him to keep him up as he sips at his own drink. “What about Suga?”

Jimin tries out a scathing look, but Yoongi is unphased as always. (He doesn't mean it, anyways.) He pretends to count on his fingers instead. “Eh, might be a close tenth or twelfth.”

Yoongi kicks at Jimin’s feet from over the bread. Hey, at least he'd reacted. “Brat. See if I ever buy you food again.”

“See if I ever care,” Jimin declares, pawing off a piece of bread and skittering out of the way when Yoongi throws a loose pillow at him. He shares it with his Pomeranian, who is yapping excitedly by his feet at all the sudden action. Yoongi raises his fist in threat, but it’s feeble, and he’s shaking his head like Jimin’s an idiot, but he also isn’t leaving.

Jimin and his pups destroy the bread in a matter of minutes, but when he finally sits back down (because Yoongi had mellowed out again after a grand total of two minutes and thirty-seven seconds), he sips idly on his latte for the better part of an hour and a half because there are dogs and his love for dogs cannot be tamed by green tea. He runs off more than once to chase a puppy around, barking back when one of them gets a little too loud, and he does, at some point, completely lift a squirming Spanish terrier into the air with a laugh. (The cashier tells him to put it down near-immediately, and he does, sheepish and embarrassed, but the dog licks his hand before it runs off.)

Yoongi doesn't join him, really. He just watches, lethargic and sated, scratching the pale flash of skin on his stomach where his shirt rides up and smiling when Jimin turns to him to exclaim something irrelevant about how incredibly fluffy one of them is, like, oh my God. There’s an old toy poodle that’s decided to lay its head on his lap and sleep like the dead, so he cards his fingers through its curly hair and half-ass cheers Jimin on when he ends up wrestling with the golden retriever and playing tug of war with the Chihuahua.

(He loses both rounds, but it's not without smiling.)

By the time they leave, it's even darker than before, and Jimin has become one with the dogs. Even the cashier has stopped reprimanding him for roughhousing because it is an effort wasted. He is napping lightly on the back of a sleepy German Shepherd when Yoongi shakes him awake and tells him in a whisper that it’s getting late. He rises with a stretch and a tired mewl, and his pillow looks up at him with sad puppy eyes that beg him to stay.

He can’t, sadly – not with the cashier smiling a little hesitantly as she tries to close up and Yoongi reaching out to hurry him up by tugging at his wrist. He casts the dog a similarly pathetic look as he leaves with a small "bye" and a wave that they won't understand.

When he gets in the car, he sighs loudly in content. Yoongi slams the door behind himself and looks at Jimin for confirmation. “Good choice?”

Great choice. Although I wonder how in the world you found that place.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m not fun?” He puts the car in drive and pulls out onto the empty street. It’s late enough for only taxis to be out, lazily puttering around corners in search of drunken patrons and college students lost on their way home. “You find some creative places when you’re looking for field trip ideas.”

Jimin’s eyebrows raise. “You took your kids there?”

“Once. The combination of twenty kids and twenty dogs is way past my abilities as a human being, so I never brought them back, but I liked it enough.” He glances out his own window to turn, and Jimin follows the flick of his hair. “Most of them are too hyper, but the poodle’s great.”

“You should get a dog like the poodle,” Jimin says with a small smile, playing absentmindedly with the lock on his door. He flicks it up. Pushes it back down. “Since you apparently have no friends.”

Yoongi gives him a crippling look. His is a lot more effective than Jimin's, unfortunately, and Jimin avoids it by shrugging innocently and looking out the window. Jimin’s car is still there when they pull back into camp, sitting harmlessly in its designated parking spot, just like Yoongi had said.

"Thanks for taking me there," Jimin says quietly as he unbuckles himself. "It was...fun."

"Fun? You acted like you just won a free trip to heaven."

"Only because that's basically true."

Yoongi nods affirmatively as he shuts his car off and jiggles his keys in his hand. "It was fun watching you run around like you'd just learned how to walk."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

Yoongi pops his door open and jumps out, landing solidly on both feet. “Let’s just say there’s a reason Seokjin named you Puff. Besides the fact that you’re like the human embodiment of an unroasted marshmallow.”

“Yeah, well. You should have been named Bitter.

"Nice. So clever. I've just been 1000% owned."

Jimin feels like he's jumping to his death when he gets out of Yoongi's car, but he manages, shutting the car door behind him and taking two steps out into the lot before stopping. Yoongi leans back on his own trunk and crosses his arms, watching him. “Hey, we should…we should do this again sometime. You know, if you ever want to buy me more food.”

Yoongi smiles the smile. It's become almost commonplace, really. He shakes his head. “If I keep this up, you’ll have me broke in a matter of weeks.”

“Then next time, I’ll cook for you. I make some mean mandu.” He shifts awkwardly on his toes. He’s closer to where Yoongi stands than where his car is parked. It would only take him three long strides to stand chest-to-chest with him. “If you’re into that, anyways.”

Yoongi nods like he approves, pushing himself off the car. “I’m into any and every form of free anything.”

“Then how about tomorrow?” Jimin blurts before he can think. Yoongi looks a little surprised before his face shifts into pleasant amusement, and Jimin almost wants to eat his words.

“Our first date isn’t even over and you already want another one?” Yoongi teases. He cuts Jimin’s frantic not-a-date protests off with a flick of his hand before they can even start. “Sure, you can feed me tomorrow, Puffs. But I expect high-quality meats and lots of sides.”

“I can do that,” Jimin says, one shade too eager, before coughing into his hand. “Then…I’ll see you tomorrow?”

Yoongi laughs, just a little chuckle, a shake of his shoulders that makes Jimin bubble up but not quite overflow. “Why are you saying it as if it’s a question?”

*******

So Jimin may have worked himself up into a bit of confusion.

He and Yoongi have hung out six out of seven days this week - half at his own insistence and half because of Yoongi's much less frequent offers of bubble tea and company. It's not quite a habit yet, but it's well on its road to becoming one, a natural reaction that has Jimin stuck with half-written invitations to hang out right after he's off the clock and no memory of how they got typed up in the first place. When he finds it in him to hold himself back, Yoongi initiates instead, almost as if they work on some sort of unspoken pattern of existence.

This aside, he still somehow manages to feel nervous when he sees him with his kids.

He doesn’t really understand himself. Yoongi smiles at him and waves when they meet eyes around camp, albeit in a lot cooler a way than the dorky, overexcited flail of arms that Jimin returns with. Maybe it's because he's supposed to be Suga here, and Suga doesn't know Jimin. He always hesitates before he tries to catch his attention, sometimes choosing to duck out of sight instead of dealing with the tragedy that is his social capacity on four hours of sleep.

Yoongi doesn’t seem to notice this inner conflict, although Jimin is notorious for being painstakingly obvious about everything. He texts him a lot, anyways, even on the days they don’t see each other (three times out of five because Jimin has spotted him in advance and crossed the entire world to avoid him). He sometimes even messages him during hours (sound of Hoseok dramatically gasping here), just to tell him a story about what weird thing one of his kids has done and how eerily similar said weird thing probably is to Taehyung’s daily behavior. Jimin sneaks texts back, even though Dunkaroo gives him dirty looks when he catches him impulsively checking his phone, and Yoongi usually answers them once they’ve both gone home, which inevitably leads to conversations that last until early mornings.

Jimin is a slug when he comes in that entire week, thanks to Yoongi somehow keeping up with him until 1a.m. Sometimes, though, he catches him on the courts without a basketball before camp opens, while he's not yet Suga and his sleepy eyes still blink slowly in recognition, and it makes it kind of worth it.

But he’s still confused. Taehyung really doesn’t help, either.

“Jimin, have you seen Yoongi lately?” he asks one day, lip jutted out like he’s about to complain. Jimin side eyes him, unsure of whether honesty really is the best policy when Kim Taehyung pulls a face like that.

“Yeah. We’ve been hanging out after camp.” A football rolls over to where he stands, and he kicks it back obediently to the kid that’s been assigned to retrieve it. There’s a whooping yell that comes from the others across the field, and Jimin laughs.

Taehyung doesn’t laugh, though. He looks absolutely scandalized. “Is that why he won’t hang out with me? What the heck, I was his best friend first!”

Jimin frowns. “What do you mean, he won’t hang out with you?”

“I’ve been trying to get him to come to my house and make me hot chocolate, but he always says he’s busy.” Taehyung looks genuinely distressed about this. Jimin actually feels bad. “It's been weeks. How can you be busy hanging out for whole weeks?"

"I don't know," Jimin says, bewildered. "I didn't know he was even doing that. He never mentioned it."

Taehyung spares him a pouty look. "You're not allowed to get close without me. It's a Camp Fun Boyz rule.

“You're the one who forced me to hang out with him outside of camp in the first place!"

"Still."

"Look, okay, I’ll tell you what." Jimin pats at the top of Taehyung's head amicably in a blind attempt to calm the lines on his forehead. “I’ll come over and make you hot chocolate, okay? And Yoongi can join, if he wants, since he won’t be busy with me, anyways.”

Taehyung squints at him. “Fine," he says, less bitter this time, "but if he comes because you’re coming, I’m going to kick him."

Jimin smiles as reassuringly as he can. "I wouldn't dream of stopping you."

Yoongi ends up coming, thanks to the fact that he'd texted Jimin asking if he wanted to go get samgyeobsal and bingsoo, as per usual. Jimin informs him of the plans, and he agrees, albeit not before asking how mental Taehyung was acting on a scale from one to ten. Jimin lies because he's pretty sure Yoongi will forgive him later.

He ignores the fact that Yoongi had texted him to hang out, even with a persistent Taehyung trying to get his attention for a straight week, because it’s fucking confusing.

Taehyung kicks him, as promised. He takes it like a champ, but this only serves to make Taehyung frown harder. Yoongi takes him aside while Jimin is setting himself up in the kitchen for what he assumes is something like a peptalk. When he's finally gathered three mugs and a bag of chocolate chips, they return, Yoongi immediately sprawling out on the livingroom floor like he owns it. Taehyung seems a little better when he settles himself on the couch, but he’s still not talking. Just staring lethargically at the ceiling.

“Why didn’t you bring Jungkook?” Jimin asks from over the counter as he measures cups of chocolate and milk over a pot. Taehyung pulls an extremely displeased face.

“He had a birthday party to go to or something. I don’t know.” Taehyung sighs, stretching his body to touch the side tables with both his hands and feet. “Maybe he just didn’t want to come.”

Yoongi snorts. Loudly. Loud enough for Jimin to hear it over the milk boiling. “Right.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Taehyung accuses, but the bright red flush of his cheeks gives him away. Jimin snickers, and Yoongi lifts his head just enough to meet his eyes from across the room and grin conspiratorially.

“Nothing,” Yoongi says as he lays back down, settling his hands over his chest. “You’re just an idiot is all.”

“Am not,” he huffs, but he doesn’t protest any more than that. Jimin giggles from the other room, which elicits a look of betrayal from Taehyung. He responds by sticking out his tongue. “You two are dumber.”

Jimin’s about to laugh and refute the statement with a yeah, right, and Nicolas Cage is my dad, but when he looks over at where Taehyung is sitting, he becomes suddenly and uncomfortably aware that he is staring hard at Yoongi. Hard enough to shatter glass. Hard enough to break the space-time continuum that some alternate form of Jimin is probably still hiding in.

Yoongi stares hard right back.

(Jimin goes back to his cooking without speaking. Some things are better left unsaid. Or unstared, in Taehyung’s case.)

“Jimin,” Taehyung says suddenly. Jimin grunts in acknowledgement but chooses (intelligently) not to turn around. “Is the hot chocolate ready?”

“Hold your horses,” Jimin mumbles, measuring melted chocolate carefully into the colorful little mugs Taehyung had gifted him with from the top of his cabinet. (Yoongi’s mug, decorated with a reindeer wearing a neon colored tutu, somehow ends up with the most chocolate. Jimin is not guilty.) He fumbles with them as he tries to make his way carefully to the livingroom, and Yoongi, despite currently laying in full-on Floorboard mode, hops up immediately to take the one he’s got tucked in the crook of his elbow. He spares him a grateful look before kicking at the side of the couch where Taehyung’s head is. “Hey.”

“There’s no need for violence,” Taehyung says, but he brightens when Jimin balances his cup on top of his forehead. He sticks out his tongue as if trying to taste it, but when Jimin lets go, he yelps and makes a wild grab to keep it from falling. He just barely manages to catch it before it slops out onto his face. “Wow, okay. You are a dastardly man, Park Jimin.”

“If by dastardly, you mean handsome and sharp,” Jimin responds with an exaggerated hair flip. Taehyung looks utterly unamused, but Yoongi pats him once on the back. If that's not success, then nothing is.

“Jungkook’s texting me,” Taehyung announces nonchalantly after Jimin’s settled on the floor next to Yoongi, just a hair’s breadth from touching knees, and blows on top of his mug. Yoongi mirrors his action. Neither of them look up. Taehyung clears his throat again. “He’s coming over later.”

“See? I told you,” Yoongi mutters into his cup, chocolate lining his upper lip. Jimin masks his urge to wipe it off by pointing at it. Yoongi crosses his eyes trying to look at it, and Jimin crosses his eyes trying not to laugh.

Taehyung rolls over to face the couch cushions, holding his drink to his chest. “I’m glad. You guys are gross by yourselves. When did that even happen?”

Jimin makes a face. “I didn’t—”

“Not as gross as you after Jungkook’s finished annihilating five-year-olds at basketball,” Yoongi says over his mug. “When he’s all sweaty, and—”

“Jimin gets sweaty too!” Taehyung squeaks, rolling over just to flail in Jimin’s general direction.

“Taehyung,” Yoongi says, narrowing his eyes. Taehyung holds his gaze.

Jimin is really, really confused.

“Whatever,” Taehyung says, rather pointedly. He rolls back over, all but dumping his entire cup of hot chocolate all over himself when he tries to take a dramatic gulp of it. He sputters, and Yoongi rolls his eyes as he gets up to get paper towels.

Taehyung glares after him. Jimin has to cough to get him to stop. He sighs, defeated, and turns back to his cup, and Jimin almost asks what is even wrong with him.

He doesn't, though. Taehyung stirs at his hot chocolate, dipping his tongue in it like a cat, and Jimin moves so his back is against the couch.

It isn’t until Jungkook shows up on his doorstep that Taehyung’s mood lifts back up into its normal mode. He carts him in by the wrist, frowning at where Jimin and Yoongi are still sitting a little too close. “They’re being lame. Come to my room?”

Jungkook looks at the fiends in question. Jimin shrugs helplessly, and when Taehyung pulls impatiently at his arm, he follows after him without a word. Jimin hears a door shut upstairs.

“Is he actually mad about something?” Jimin asks, turning to Yoongi. Yoongi is staring in the direction they went in, but he flicks his eyes down to meet Jimin’s.

“He’s…” Yoongi mulls over his words. “He’s just…yeah. Yeah, you know what, he's mad. As mad as Kim Taehyung can possibly be.”

“Is it because we were making fun of him over Jungkook?” He sips on his hot chocolate. It’s lukewarm by now, but it's not disgusting yet. “He knows we don’t mean that, right?”

“Nah, he doesn’t care about that.” Yoongi leans back. “Don’t worry about it. Taehyung is shit at keeping secrets. He’ll tell you eventually.”

Jimin tries to bite his words down, but he fails. “Does that mean you already know?”

Yoongi shrugs. “If it means anything, he’s mad at me, not you.”

It doesn’t help. Jimin feels himself shrink a little.

He guess he shouldn’t have expected to beat out years of friendship so fast as this – although, in his defense, the two of them have a tendency to make people feel extraordinarily special. He stands up. “Maybe I should just—”

“Are you leaving?” Yoongi stands with him, brushing off his pants. “If you’re leaving, let’s go somewhere. Since Taehyung’s decided to conveniently turn this opportunity into a date.”

“I…” That was really not the point of him standing. He’s supposed to dramatically walk out or something, he's pretty sure. “I don’t know…”

“I’m coming with you,” Yoongi says again, this time less of a suggestion. “You’re not leaving me alone with a sassy Taehyung and Jungkook. That would be a new level of evil.”

No. This was really not the point. Seriously. “I mean, I guess we could—”

“Great.” Yoongi walks over to grab where they’d left their jackets, tossing Jimin’s towards him. He forgets to catch it. It lands on his head. “Finish your cocoa and meet me in the car.”

Yoongi leaves before Jimin can respond from beneath his coat. He pulls it off his head and stares at the door where Yoongi had exited.

Not the point. Not even a little bit. Jimin follows after him, more confused than ever.

*******

It takes until the Civil War for Taehyung to stop being irritated and for Jimin to stop being confused.

He’s prepared his kids with extra silly string at Taehyung's reminder. He's been running around setting up posts at Seokjin's request, and he even helped Jungkook fill up water guns and even more balloons because he's been sucking up hardcore to Taehyung to keep him in his good graces.

He’s prepared himself, too, by donning a pointy hat and a red cape and calling himself a wizard. It’s apparently a much bigger deal than he'd previously thought. Every counselor is wearing a get-up and a brand new personality today.

(Seokjin is given an actual Princess Peach costume. He loves it, and Jimin is left questioning who the real hyung is here yet again.)

Jimin runs into Yoongi that morning, all dolled up in a black cape and something like Darth Maul facepaint, and almost jumps out of his skin. Yoongi spins passively for him, holding his hands out like claws. “You scared?”

“A little.” He takes a step backwards because Yoongi is still reaching out like he’s going to grab hold of his shirt, and there's red paint on the tips of his fingers. “Everyone else is a lot less scary. What the heck is with your costume?”

“I’m the villain, here to make everyone join hands and unite against evil.” He brushes off stray pieces of grass clung to his cape. “Or that’s what Taehyung told me, anyways.”

"Is he talking to you?"

"He never stopped." Yoongi shrugs. "I apologized."

"For what?"

"Nothing you should concern yourself about." He draws his cape over his mouth. "I have a feeling he just really wanted me to be the lowlife for the kids to whomp on."

Jimin knows for a fact that this is true. “Well, you look plenty evil to me. I'm sure he's more than ready to watch kids wipe that make-up smirk off your face.” He jokingly holds up the water gun he’d been given by Taehyung as a reward for his hard work. “Don’t get too close, or else I’ll do it myself.”

Yoongi gives him a dead look and clutches the fabric over his chest. “Oh, no,” he says in monotone. “How will I ever survive.”

Jimin sighs loudly. “Stop being a funkiller, before the kids see.”

Yoongi gives him the smile. Jimin makes an even uglier face. “You’ll have to catch me on the field, Puffs. Stop me from stealing little kid’s souls.”

“That sounds like a challenge.”

“Oh, it’s most definitely a challenge.”

Jimin sticks his tongue out and pretends to aim. “Y’know, I could destroy you now, and then nobody would have to worry about your villainly wrath.”

Yoongi crosses his cloaked arms expectantly. “You could. But what’s a story without a good bad guy?”

Jimin stays paused for a moment, considering. Then, he lowers his weapon. “You've got me. I'm defeated.”

"Thought so." There's the sound of a car rolling over gravel behind them, and they both turn. Yoongi curses under his breath. "Shit, first kid. I've gotta hide. I'll see you, okay?"

When Yoongi hurries off to hide in the trees, Jimin wonders who the bad guy of his story could be.

He guesses, for right now, it’s him. He wanders off to crouch behind some bushes, too, as kids filter in. Seokjin starts yelling out orders in this almost military voice that Jimin has never heard from him once there's enough kids to start getting ready. Probably has to do with the fact that Taehyung has cost him his co-counselor.

A few minutes before war, Jimin peeks out over his covering and scans for Taehyung.

He sees him hidden behind a tree two paces from Jungkook. Jungkook’s got the full tresses of a Jedi, from his head to his toe, minus the lightsaber because Seokjin had been sincerely worried he’d whack a child with it. (He wouldn’t. He's got some strong-ass eyebrows, but that is the only really intimidating thing about Jeon Jungkook. His own kids have already figured this out.

Besides, a plastic sword and a scary expression are nothing against a bloodthirsty toddler armed with a Super Soaker. Jimin knows from secondhand experience.)

Taehyung, on the other hand, is working a much different "superhero" angle - one with a fluffy white tail and two powdery kitty ears.

He honestly looks like a rich lady's Persian kink come to life.

“Taehyung!” Jimin yells. Taehyung whips around at the noise. “When does the thing start? My knees are starting to hurt.”

Taehyung holds a finger to his lips, shooting Jimin a glare that’s louder than his voice could ever be. Jimin rolls his eyes. They aren’t even hidden that well, especially given the fact that Taehyung has a pink collar on.

“This is supposed to be a superhero battle, by the way,” Jimin calls again. Taehyung looks about ready to strangle him for giving away his clever hiding place. “No cats allowed.”

Cats can be heroes just as well as people can,” he finally yells back.

“Pretty sure Jungkook could magic the fluff out of you is all I'm saying,” he says through his hands. "Watch out for my fire later, it might singe your fuzz off!"

Taehyung flips him off as Jungkook covers his face to laugh.

Success.

Jimin sees the first kids trickling onto the field before he can say anything else condescending (and frankly hilarious). He bends down further, pushing his hat’s tip down so that it doesn’t give him away, and holds his gun close to his chest.

He peers around the side of the bush to see Taehyung and Jungkook taking on similar stances. One of the kids takes off without warning towards where they’re hidden, and they both tense.

“LET THE BATTLE BEGIN,” Seokjin bellows from somewhere Jimin can’t see. The kids stop, confused – up until Taehyung unearths himself with a battle cry and shoots the closest kid in the face with a pathetic stream of water.

There’s a lot of screaming. Jimin stands up and chucks a water balloon from the pyramid he’d made by his covering, and from there on out, it is on.

If there’s one thing Jimin can say about kids, it’s that they’re brutal. They turn on their friends. They turn on their family. They turn on their counselors especially, which Jimin finds out real quick when half his kids conspire together and attack him all at once with shrieks of laughter and entire water bottles. Jimin laughs with them, curling up defensively with yells of “Okay, okay, alright, I’m wet, go find the criminal!”

Taehyung is equally as brutal. He dumps the entire contents of his water gun on him while he's down and runs away cackling. Jungkook stops just long enough to squirt him in the face again, and all Jimin can do is give him a dead look. He's beyond wet enough for it to matter, anyways.

Yoongi doesn’t show up until half the battle has been won and lost by pretty much everyone.

Jimin is blinking water out of his eyelashes when he spots him, red face swimming behind the trees. Namjoon is off to the side, working with his small liege of campers on strategic measures to take out the rest of the kids, and even Hoseok is shaking water out of soaked tendrils of hair with a bray of laughter. Everyone is too busy to see him lingering at the outskirts, maybe considering whether or not he really wants to get in on this mayhem.

Maybe it’s the kids around him. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s standing in a soaked wet robe while Yoongi is over there perfectly dry. Maybe it’s because he wants to see the kids tackle a giggling Yoongi, too. In any case, Jimin is feeling particularly cruel, so he points in the direction of the trees.

“Guys!” he yells. A bunch of kids stop destroying each other to turn and listen. He sees Taehyung pause from where he’s latched onto Jungkook’s back, and he shoots them a wink. “I see the villain!”

A lot of the kids look really weirded out, but Jimin can tell who his and Taehyung’s kids are by the evil glints in their eyes. They unsheathe their cans of silly string from their belts and scream in synchronization, all of them holding their weapons up and taking off towards the woods.

Jimin runs after them. He will not miss this. Jungkook is close behind him, still piggybacking a whooping Taehyung. Jimin can only hear half of what he's saying past the water in his ears, but what he does hear has him laughing loudly. “GET HIM! DESTROY HIM! WIPE HIM OFF THE PLANET!

Yoongi pauses in his steps, suddenly aware of the mob coming after him. He raises his blackened eyes to look at Jimin, who pitters off a few steps away to make sure he’s not in the line of fire of his kids’ silly string or Yoongi’s future wrath.

There it is. There it fucking is. The smile. It's almost resigned to its fate. Maybe even happy about it. Yoongi gets sprayed in the chest by the fastest kid, red swirls sticking to the front of his robe, but he’s looking straight at Jimin. He’s looking straight at Jimin and laughing.

Jimin’s heart jumps into his throat and falls into his stomach in one smooth motion. Oh.

Suddenly, he understands. Yoongi falls to the ground as the kids all tackle him, and his laughter is the loudest out of all of them, even though he’s probably a billion times more susceptible to getting silly string in his mouth like that, and Jimin understands. He watches the kids crawl on him like parasites and cover him head to toe in colors, Taehyung pointing and laughing like an animal from his seat on Jungkook’s back, and he understands. Even Jungkook is smiling like an idiot as Yoongi gets mobbed by preschoolers, and Jimin is just frozen in his revelation, caught somewhere between laughing and screaming because oh my God, he understands.

The kids get bored with their attack a few minutes in, when Yoongi gives up on struggling and lays there like a limp noodle. They hop up and go back to spraying each other, running away with strings of yellow in their hair and smiles like beacons on their faces, leading them to better and brighter conquests. Yoongi stays on the ground, his makeup smeared all over his hands and his hair sticking up in a million different cowlicks. There's a raised rainbow all down his shirt and the smell of chemicals flooding the air. He looks like he just got attacked by a clan of piñatas.

Jimin walks over to his fallen body and kneels. “Would you like flowers for your funeral?”

“You fucking traitor,” Yoongi breathes through another laugh. Jungkook is by them in the next second, Taehyung dropping off his back to point at Yoongi.

“You just got annihilated,” he says excitedly. Yoongi rolls his eyes, but he’s still smiling. Jimin feels a knot of anxiety drop off that he hadn't even known he'd had at the sight of Taehyung's boxed-in teeth. “Oh my God, that was the best idea I ever had. This was the best thing. Wait, I need a picture.”

Yoongi sits up while Taehyung is rummaging through the waterproof bag on Jungkook’s back for his phone and runs his hand through his sticky hair, dislodging several tangles of silly string in the process. “I should have known this would be your idea, you little prick.”

“Language,” Taehyung says mildly as he pulls out his phone and unlocks the camera with a grin. Yoongi obliges without protesting, giving the camera a peace sign and a docile smile. Taehyung takes multiple before waving at Jimin. “Okay, now take one together.”

“Me?” Jimin glances at Yoongi, who shrugs. “But I don’t have any silly string on me.”

“Yeah, but you’re still totally soaked.” Taehyung points at the ground by Yoongi again, a little more demandingly this time. “Besides, you helped me plan this. This is a memory that involves all of us.”

“Shouldn’t you be in the picture then?” Jimin grumbles, but he obeys anyways, squatting down next to where Yoongi is. Yoongi sits up a little more, just high enough to throw his arm around Jimin’s shoulders. Taehyung holds his phone up.

“Baaaaa,” Taehyung cheers as he takes the pictures. “Okay, now selfies with me and Yoongi!”

Jimin rolls his eyes and moves as Taehyung bends himself over and holds his front camera up with a cheesy grin. He walks to join Jungkook, who is scanning over everything with a tiny, close-lipped smile. “I think Taehyung might be the lamest person I’ve ever met.”

“Yeah.” Jungkook doesn’t sound quite as exasperated. Jimin glances up at him, but he’s still watching Taehyung with that smile. That smile. “Yeah, he is.”

Jimin turns forward again because Jungkook looks exactly like Yoongi like that. Taehyung is helping Yoongi up off the ground, even though Yoongi is wailing on his forearm as punishment. When they rejoin, Yoongi takes his place next to Jimin and punches him once, too.

“What was that for?” Jimin says, rubbing the tender spot.

“For being you.” Yoongi turns to Taehyung. “Hot chocolate at your place later?”

Taehyung’s eyes sparkle. Yoongi gets the smile, too. “Yes. So much yes.”

Yoongi glances at Jimin, and Jimin will swear until the end of time that his smile gets more…smiley. “You’ll be there, right?”

Jimin definitely, definitely understands. He understands because Yoongi’s smile is making him forget the drips of water still rolling down his stomach and the squish of his sneakers on the grass. He understands because Yoongi is looking at him, and Jimin can’t see Taehyung or Jungkook anymore because all he sees is Yoongi’s stupid blonde hair, tinged black at the ends because of his smeared makeup, and Yoongi’s stupid cape that’s wrapping around his legs in the wind like prison shackles, and Yoongi’s stupid tiny teeth, still stained with the remnants of silly string that he hasn’t managed to lick off yet, but still bright with that flash of sun that always seems to crown him.

Jimin understands that his heart is fluttering, has been fluttering, and he understands why. “Why are you saying it as if it’s a question?”

*******

Chapter Text

Once Jimin understands, it’s really just a matter of telling Yoongi that he understands, and that they should totally do something about it now.

Or, at least, it should be.

Except it most definitely isn't. There's still the problem of Taehyung being approximately 12% jealous of their constant and unwavering frienditude, and Seokjin and Hoseok’s words haunting his fricking sleep, and the sweaty palms and shaky fingers he still gets when he's within two feet of Yoongi, and god dammit, rejection is scary as shit.

When Jimin says he understands, he will admit that it’s only 75% that he understands. He understands that he feels something akin to vibrating in his stomach when Yoongi seeks him out in between breaks to wrap him up around the shoulders and laugh against his ear, and he understands that when he traces the outline of Yoongi's lips with his eyes, it's not exactly because he wants to give him chapstick and tell him to stop fucking chewing on them.

What he doesn’t completely understand is why Yoongi finds him when he isn't trying to be found and shoots the same look at the outline of his collarbones through his camp shirt.

He has an idea, though. (He’s been putting a lot more hope behind this idea than he’d like to admit lately.)

Getting some kind of secondhand opinion is a must, in any case, because Jimin is a bit more inexperienced than he ever wants Yoongi to know. He immediately crosses out Taehyung because Taehyung seems like the type who’d have a big mouth if he thought it would end in kissing and happiness, and the last thing he wants is Yoongi hearing tall tales about how Jimin's heart is a big mushy ball of processed feelings from anyone but Jimin himself. He thinks about Jungkook next – he seems reserved enough to keep it to himself, and he and Yoongi don’t seem too very close – but he also seems to have the emotional capacity of a burnt cabbage leaf and the romantic expertise of a newborn tadpole. (Jimin keeps him at the end of his list in case he gets desperate, but he means it when he says end of the list.)

Hoseok would complain about the lack of professional boundaries – not to mention that the last time he’d talked to him about Yoongi, he’d essentially gotten some weird freeform threat and a guilt trip about chocolate chip cookies. Namjoon could be a solid choice, but Jimin is also pretty sure he’d go philosophical as shit on him, and Jimin needs more of a teen advice column than a theory book that makes him question the foundation of his existence and all his emotions, Yoongi-related and otherwise.

That leaves…well, Seokjin.

Jimin is already grimacing at the thought.

Like, okay, Seokjin is pretty much the best choice, but that doesn’t make him great. He’s totally going to coo over Jimin getting his first real crush (not true – Jimin most definitely liked his fourth grade teacher, and he will hold onto those feelings until he dies) and probably pinch his cheeks and ruffle his hair and do other embarrassing, second-aunt-twice-removed kinds of stuff.

Come on. It’s the guy who named him Puff. Jimin is pretty much crazy for even considering it.

Still, Seokjin has been Jimin’s friend the longest. He’s been the most supportive of Jimin’s endeavors, and he’s been the most understanding of Jimin’s mistakes. He’s always been great at keeping secrets, and he’s Yoongi’s co-counselor, so he must have some kind of dirt on him that Jimin can use to his (VERY hesitant) confession’s advantage.

That’s how he finds himself hanging out in Seokjin’s car after hours one day, a couple weeks after the Great Water War. He’s clicking Seokjin’s glove compartment open and closed when Seokjin finally ducks in a few minutes late, shutting the door behind him.

“Sorry. Staff meeting ran late.” He looks Jimin up and down. Jimin responds by opening the glove compartment again. “What’s up, buttercup?”

“You wanna know something great? I'm going to let you use your old person euphemisms today. They might help me for once.” He sighs heavily, ignoring the epic bitchface Seokjin is giving him. “I wanted to talk to you. About something kind of important.”

Seokjin raises an eyebrow. “Jimin…are we about to have the talk?”

“The—what?”

“I've been preparing myself for this since I met you," Seokjin starts, nodding sagely. "You know, boys can’t get pregnant, but they can still get STDs if you don't use protection. You can get it from seedy convenience stores pretty easily, although I'd recommend doing research because some of them sell expired ones. Hold up, I actually have a book for this in the glove compartment—”

“Oh my God, no,” Jimin hisses, slamming the glove compartment shut again as Seokjin reaches for it. He pulls his fingers back, looking a little miffed. “No, no, no, no, I am not sexually active and I don’t want to be. I like someone. Innocently.”

“Oh my God, is it finally time for Jimin’s first crush?” Totally fucking called it. Seokjin wipes his dry eyes, lips fake-trembling, and Jimin fights the urge to give him something to cry about. Like global warming. "You’re growing up so fast. Just a couple years ago, you were talking about how you’d rather dance than date.”

“You were about to give me impromptu sex education and you’re weirded out by this?

Seokjin shrugs. “Sex and dating are two very different things.”

Jimin covers his face with both hands. “I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know, don’t ever tell me, you absolute shit.”

“Hey. Watch your language with your hyungs.” Seokjin crosses his arms over his chest. “Who’s the lucky person?”

Jimin drops his forehead onto the dashboard. “I don’t—”

“Don’t want to tell me?” Seokjin taps his chin in thought. “It isn’t that V kid, is it? He seems fun enough, I guess. Kind of cute, if you're into that probably-got-rabies-as-a-child type.”

“Ew, no, Taehyung is lame. I'd rather date a dirty pinecone.” Jimin bangs his head once on the dashboard. “It’s…it’s—”

“Jimin.” Jimin rolls his head so that he’s looking at Seokjin. He’s smiling softly and nodding, and Jimin is getting extraordinarily uncomfortable. “You realize I already know, right?”

Jimin colors. “You do not.”

“Really? Because I think everybody is aware you have a huge thing for Min Yoongi.”

Jimin groans and covers his face again. “Shit, am I that obvious?”

“Not obvious enough for Yoongi to get it. Which is surprising, considering that guy is the best at reading people that I’ve ever met, and you’re the worst at hiding things.” Seokjin uncrosses his arms and reaches over to pat at Jimin’s back. “It’s okay. Yoongi is selectively oblivious. It probably means he’s hiding his own stuff.”

“What could he possibly be hiding?” Jimin knows exactly what. The same thing Jimin’s hiding. The same thing almost everyone hides when it happens to them. “I just don’t know what to do about it. I keep thinking about telling him, but I mean, I’m too lame, and he’s the camp angel—”

Angel. That’s a new one.” Seokjin blows his fringe out of his face. “Yoongi is not an angel, Jimin. He’s great with kids, but he’s not exactly…great in general.”

“This is the second time you’ve told me that,” Jimin says with a frown, lifting his head up. “Why do you think Yoongi sucks?”

“I don’t think he sucks. I just…think he needs some work.” He smiles gently, apologetically, and Jimin can feel his stomach sinking. “You haven't known him as long as I have. Things happened here before you came."

Jimin wants to say something along the lines of well, you don't know him as well as I do, but he reigns in his petulance and settles on, "What kinds of things?"

Seokjin purses his lips, running a hand over the steering wheel. "He had an out with a co-worker once. They had a thing, sort of like yours, but something happened, and he broke it off. Pretty coldly, honestly. She ended up quitting.”

Jimin looks at him. “Did you ever find out exactly what happened?”

Seokjin shrugs. “Not really. Yoongi was pretty awful for the next few months, though. Great with the kids, as per always, but the counsel? Please. We didn’t waste any breath talking to him for a while because he’d just give us blank stares and used-up excuses about them.”

Jimin plays with a loose string on his shirt and doesn't meet Seokjin's eyes. “He doesn’t seem like he’s like that anymore,” he mumbles.

“Yeah...yeah, I guess not. Taehyung came along, and he sort of came back out of his shell, but not entirely.” He taps the center of the steering wheel distractedly, heaving a sigh. “I’m not saying not to do what you want, Jimin. If you like him, you probably see something in him that I can’t as his co-counselor. He’s professional with me.” He glances at Jimin, eyes slanted into question marks that Jimin can't find answers to. “He’s...not with you. Not really. Not at all, actually.”

Jimin draws his legs to his chest. He doesn't know what to say to that, so he opts to switch gears, glancing at Seokjin through a curtain of hair. “Seokjin, is Hoseok close to Yoongi at all?”

Seokjin puckers his lips. “Aren't they roommates? I'm pretty sure they're roommates.”

Jimin's eyes widen. “Wait, really? Shit, I knew Hoseok had a roommate, but I didn't realize...wow, wait, I spent practically my whole winter break there, what even.”

“Yoongi is a recluse. He spends all his time in the music rooms. Sleeps there a lot, I think. Must be music major life.”

Music major, huh. Maybe he doesn't know Yoongi all that well after all. “Hoseok told me not to hurt him.”

Seokjin looks just as surprised as Jimin was. “Really? Wow, are we talking about the same Yoongi? He doesn’t seem like the type to get his ass handed to him by boys barely 170 centimeters tall.”

"I'm a hundred seventy-five." Jimin quiets, staring out the windshield. He draws a flower with his fingertip before wiping his entire hand across it. "I thought so, too, though."

“Well. Don’t take my word for it, then.” He leans back, staring calculatedly at Jimin’s profile. “In that case, if we're going to do this, we're going to do it right. You're going to tell Yoongi, and it's going to be big.

Jimin looks up. There's an ember of hope underneath the ashes of his future regret. "What do you mean?"

A sly look crosses Seokjin’s face. In hindsight, Jimin should have known better than to trust that face. “You ever listen to the shout-outs?”

*******

The only thing you need to know is that people put shout-outs in a jar every morning for people to draw out and read.

They can be anything. Maybe a praise for a counselor who did something really right that week. (Taehyung had gotten quite a few after his water fight.) Maybe a comment about something that can be improved. (Jungkook gets these pretty regularly about his blank face.) Sometimes even suggestions for what foods to have on the lunch menu. (Jimin puts in “sugar cookies” basically every day.)

Conveniently for Jimin, they can also be used for confessing one’s fierce, undying love to another.

This is the only thing you need to know. What you want to know, however, is much different. And if it were up to Park Jimin, you would never know what you want to know.

As it is, he is not in charge. (You’re welcome.)

Jimin comes in that morning dressed in his nicest clothes and his best nervous smile. Hoseok comments on how great it is for him to look so professional coming to work, everybody look at Jimin, he's setting an example, and Jimin neglects to tell him the real reason why his hair is slicked back and he’s wearing his favorite tie over a crisp gray button-up.

Yoongi raises his eyebrows when he walks in. He coughs when they make eye contact, and Yoongi gives him an impressed thumbs up, which he returns with a nervous fidget and a laugh that Yoongi can’t hear because Jimin doesn’t have a single ounce of subtlety in his entire body. He tugs at his lapels as he sits in the farthest chair from the podium. Maybe nobody will see him this way.

Taehyung materializes out of empty space and plops next to him. He jumps. “Hey, Puffles. Why are you dressed so fancy?”

“Why are you sitting here?” Jimin hisses as Hoseok steps up to the microphone at the front. “You always sit with Yoongi.”

“Yeah, but you’re dressed fancy,” Taehyung comments plainly, neglecting to drop the volume of his voice. Jimin winces. “I wanted to know why.”

Jimin wants to cover himself up with paper and dirt, but Hoseok has already cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. There’s no going back now. “Well, I guess you’ll see by the end of this.”

Taehyung cocks his head, but Jimin shushes him before he can ask any more stupid questions. He tries to pay attention for the two minutes Hoseok is talking before Jungkook walks in late, pausing at the front and visibly panicking when he realizes Taehyung isn’t there. Taehyung nearly stands in his effort to be seen, waving both arms above his head to get Jungkook's attention.

(Hoseok sees him too and stops talking in confusion as Jungkook very noticeably sneaks over and sits down. He only resumes when Taehyung gives him a thumbs up and a grin. Jimin decides that paying attention is futile.)

“And now, for shout-outs,” Hoseok finally says after the mundane we need more smiles and less attitudes lecture he has beaten to death every morning since Jimin joined. He brings up the little fish bowl that the paper slips are in and rummages his hand through it.

Jimin can see his from all the way in the back. He’d put glitter glue and sequin hearts on the outside of it in a fit of manic energy at three this morning, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. On a marsupial. Not including koalas. (He’s now regretting this decision.)

And of course Hoseok would peek in and get distracted by the pretty colors. Of fuckin' course. “This one looks special,” he says with a laugh as he plucks it out and works at unraveling it. Jimin’s resolve is getting smaller by the second. He almost jumps up and screams to stop him from reading it.

The crinkle of the paper is loud in between Hoseok's fingers. “To Suga,” he starts, and Jimin shrinks in his chair because he’s fucking doomed.

“One time, you almost squished my head with a basketball, and I’m still kind of pissed about that. You know why?”

Jimin wants to die. Holy shit he wants to shrivel up and die.

“It’s because, if you killed me then, I wouldn’t have lived until now, and your basketball wouldn’t have squished my heart.”

The entire room erupts full of laughter. Jimin covers his face. It seemed funny at the time, okay. It's still kind of funny.

(It's not funny at all. Jimin regrets everything.)

“That was a joke. A really gross one. Anyways.” Hoseok clears his throat before he continues. “I realized the other day that looking at you made me really happy, and that I wanted to do it for a long time. A long, long, long, long time. You've got kind of a nice face. Did you buy it on the black market?”

Hoseok stifles a laugh in the middle of his sentence, and Jimin wants to destroy him. “In any case, whether it’s making hot chocolate or terrorizing V, whether it’s dog cafes or basketball courts, whether it’s silly string or water guns, let’s do stuff together.” Hoseok’s eyes widen as he nears the end, as if he’s just now realized something. “Suga, I would be extremely…happy…if you’d go out with me, puffy cheeks and all.”

This is Jimin’s cue. He’s still hiding his face when he stands up and shuffles out from in between the rows of chair. Taehyung is watching him with wide-eyed confusion, and Jungkook looks equally as shocked (and, frankly, disgusted). Jimin rips his hand away by force, mentally commanding himself to stop being a complete wuss, and looks up at the front where he knows Yoongi is sitting.

Yoongi isn’t looking at him. As a matter of fact, he hasn't so much as moved since Hoseok started talking. He’s just staring at him in shock, and Hoseok is returning the look with an uncertainty that makes Jimin want to throw up and run away. Preferably not at the same time, but if it happens, it happens.

Yoongi stands slowly. Everyone turns to watch him, anticipating his response. The sound of silence is heavy in the air as lungs hold in air. He turns around to face the back.

When he meets Jimin’s eyes, there is nothing there. No indication. No sign. His face is a whiteboard wiped blank, arms hanging low and limp at his sides.

“Jimin. Can we go outside?”

Jimin swallows hard and looks down at Taehyung for support. Taehyung shrugs helplessly before nodding at the door as if it were the only option. Jungkook, on the other hand, is straight up avoiding all eye contact, covering his face with one long-fingered hand as if he, too, is suffering from secondhand embarrassment.

Jimin looks back up at Yoongi, who is still staring.

“I…yeah. Sure.”

It doesn’t occur to him until he’s following Yoongi out the door that he’d used his real name.

They make it to the basketball courts before Yoongi turns abruptly. He doesn’t speak at first – just gives Jimin a look that is definitely not the smile.

Jimin shuffles on his feet. “The kids are going to be here soon.”

“You think that’s going to get you out of this?” Jimin winces at his tone, a little taken aback. Yoongi's eyes have grown exasperated, hands held out in a what the fuck gesture that Jimin is both grateful for and scared of. “Of all the ways, Jimin. Of all the ways to tell me, in public? In front of everybody? Seriously? Do you even know me?”

“I thought—” Jimin bites his lips. “I thought it would be more special. I thought you’d like it.”

Yoongi drags a hand down his face. “Was this Seokjin’s idea?”

Ouch. Jimin plays with his fingers. “Maybe.”

“Figures. He's so theatrical, goddamn.” Yoongi sighs hard, running his hand through his hair. “Look, okay. I don’t like public debacles. I don’t like being the center of attention, and I don’t like having to have emotional moments in front of crowds. Therefore, by proxy, I don’t like public confessions. Period. They’re gross.”

Jimin stares at his feet. “I'm sorry.”

"God, Jimin, don't apologize, that's not the point, just—" He grunts low in his chest. Jimin keeps staring at his toes wiggle through his shoes. "Just...I don't know. Just don't do that. Spare me the public humiliation."

"I didn't think me liking you would be humiliating," he breathes. Yoongi stills at that, hands curling into balls.

Jimin tries to stop the word vomit from spilling out again. He really does. Valiantly. He deserves a silver medal for how hard he tries to stop himself from speaking.

Of course, he fails. (Maybe he should shoot for bronze next time.) "Do you hate me?"

Yoongi doesn’t answer for a second. Jimin is fully prepared to accept this as an answer in and of itself and to resign himself to living out the rest of his days as a Couch Potato in the garden of his twin-sized bed until an unbelieving “What?” pierces the air.

This is what makes him finally look up. He's met with a completely bewildered Yoongi, frozen in place.

“Are you kidding? Me? Hate you? Holy shit, that’s, like, the equivalent of kicking a puppy that’s been in the rain all day.”

Jimin frowns. Hard. “I’m not a puppy.”

“Yeah, okay. And I’m not 2015’s take on Ebenezer Scrooge.”

“Well, at least you admit it.”

Yoongi gives him a look, and it’s still not the smile, but it’s closer to that than it is to anger. That's a step in the right direction. “Moral of the story is that I’d never hate you, so you can fuck off if you’re going to ask questions like that. Got it?”

Jimin nods probably a little too enthusiastically. He’d honestly take anything as long as it wasn’t an upset Yoongi. Or a blank one, like before. Man, that was scary. (His heart is still a little sore, sure, but it’s better than being frozen.) “I’ll keep them to myself next time.”

“No, you won’t. Because you won’t even think them.”

“I’m hoping you have the human decency not to read my thoughts.”

“Don’t try me.” Yoongi turns so that he’s facing the goal. He has no basketball this time, but he bends down and pretends to dribble, anyways. He shoots. If Jimin closes his eyes, he can pretty much still see a ball go in. “Hey, Puffs.”

Jimin looks at him expectantly. Yoongi glances over his shoulder and then mimics tossing the basketball from between his legs. Jimin pretends to catch it (a lot smoother than he would have in real life, if he’s honest).

There it is. The smile. The world has come to life again. Jimin barely has time to sigh in relief that it still exists before Yoongi talks. “Ask me out again.”

Jimin stops completely in the middle of fake-dribbling. It’s not a conscious decision. It’s more of a reflex than anything. “What?”

Yoongi leans on one leg, gesturing towards the hoop. "Shoot, and then ask me out again."

"...what."

Yoongi rolls his eyes. "For the love of God, I'm trying to help you out here. Just do it before the kids get here."

Jimin still has no clue what's going on. His hands extend awkwardly to wrap around a ball that's not there. "Um."

Yoongi edges him on with a finger.

"Okay, uh. Suga—"

"Wrong."

It takes a few long seconds of Jimin looking into Yoongi's face to realize his mistake. "...Yoongi."

Yoongi nods.

Jimin forgets, for a moment, that he's supposed to shoot. Yoongi points at the air between his fingers, and he snaps back to reality, turning to the goal. The rim seems closer than usual. "Yoongi, would you...like...to go—"

"Yes."

Jimin wants so badly to turn around, but he doesn't. He dribbles twice and shoots. A breath releases itself from where it was caught in his throat. "Okay."

There's a voice next to his ear. "See. That wasn't so hard." It pauses, contemplative, as Jimin tries not to shiver. "You missed, by the way."

Jimin turns in time to see Yoongi's figure retreating back towards the cabin, hands shoved in his pockets and jeans scraping the ground as he walks.

He eyes the net again before chucking the fake basketball at Yoongi’s stupid piece of shit blonde head.

*******

Jimin will not say he is above punishing Seokjin for giving him that awful fucking idea by avoiding him for the next few days.

By the time he's finally ambushed with an unspoken peptalk and three pounds worth of apology cookies, though, he’s long past that stage of his life and much further into the stage of freaking out because he has a date that weekend with the camp’s resident not-angel.

Seokjin, bless his soul, doesn’t know about it. He even brings a cake stenciled with the words Sorry For Ruining Your Not-Relationship. (Where do you even make those? Jimin has a billion ideas of ones he'd get for Taehyung.) He sets it in front of Jimin with a look that begs for forgiveness.

“You realize he said yes, right?” Jimin comments as he stares into the rolling landscape of frosting. It's completely Instagram-worthy. He scoops up the top layer with his finger and pops it in his mouth.

Seokjin’s eyes are round. “Wait. Wait, he did?”

“Yeah. We’re going out this weekend.”

“Then why the hell have you been avoiding me like I ruined your life? I thought he'd actually taken you out to the forest and murdered you for a good three days!”

"Don't be so dramatic."

Seokjin huffs into the collar of his shirt. "I totally hooked you guys up. You should be grateful."

“Did not. You sabotaged what could have been a simple and effective proposal.” Jimin starts scooping entire chunks of cake out with his finger and nibbling. “Besides, he said yes to my charm, not your dumb idea.”

“Charm my ass. You have as much charm as a dead lizard.”

“Manners, Princess. Manners.”

Seokjin glares as Jimin calmly takes an M&M cookie from the top of his plate and bites into it, but he takes the seat across from Jimin anyways. He looks tiredly at his offered gifts. “You don’t deserve any of these.”

“No takebacks.”

Seokjin sighs. “I know.” He looks up at Jimin hopefully, and Jimin stops chewing to narrow his eyes. He already knows what he’s going to ask. “Soooooooo…”

“No, I am not telling you about how it goes with Suga.”

“You are such a brat,” Seokjin whines, draping himself across the table (and almost across the snacks, which Jimin would have probably killed him for). “Come on, if I’m ever going to change my mind about Suga, I need to know things like this.”

“Your judgment shouldn’t hinge on me. You’re the one who shares his kids.”

“That means next to nothing.” Seokjin pillows his cheek on his hand. “C’mon. C’moooooooon. Give your favorite hyung a break.”

“I’m pretty sure, given the fact that I’m going out with him Saturday, that Yoongi has cemented himself as ‘favorite hyung.’”

“Oh my God, you’re already so gross about him. I love it.” Seokjin wags his finger. “You're still not allowed to replace me, though. I’ve known you since you were in middle school, and suffering through junior high first-year Park Jimin required the patience of a saint.”

“Thanks, Jin. Glad to know my friendship was your sacrifice.”

Seokjin smiles sweetly, snatching a cookie from the top of the pile and shoving it completely in his mouth. “Tell me how it goes or I’ll hunt you down,” he says through his full cheeks, pointing about as menacingly as Kim Seokjin possibly can. “I mean it.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Jimin shoos him away with one hand before stuffing his face with more cake.

It's as Seokjin is leaving that Yoongi passes by. Jimin, upon remembering what is written on his cake, instinctively smears his hand across the top.

Yoongi stops to look at his soiled fingers questioningly. Jimin tries to train his face into impassiveness. "Hey."

He meets Jimin's stare, amusement playing behind his eyes. “Nice hand lotion. Vanilla cupcake scented?”

He’s gone with a laugh before Jimin can even comment, so he wipes his hands on the table and fumes at the holes in the wood in his stead.

*******

By the time Yoongi shows up on Jimin’s doorstep Saturday morning (and on time, too, which is honestly not something Jimin was expecting, given his sleep schedule), Jimin has already given his mom a rundown on all the things not to say to keep embarrassing interactions to a minimum.

That goes entirely down the drain when she throws the door open to an extremely lethargic Yoongi holding a tiny bouquet of baby’s breath and squeals, “No wonder they call you Suga, what a sweetie!”

She hugs Yoongi on the spot, squishing the flowers to his chest, and Jimin watches him tense up. He meets his eyes from over her shoulder in apology. (She doesn’t let go for two good minutes. Yoongi laughs uncomfortably, but he’s decent enough to let her smother him without squirming too badly.)

Yoongi offers the ruined flowers to Jimin once he’s free with a lazy shrug, and Jimin accepts them, even though they make him sneeze a little. (“Jimin, don’t touch those, you’re allergic,” his mom says. Yoongi frowns, and Jimin facepalms.) He follows close behind Jimin with his hands in his pockets, whistling. “Nice house you got here. Better than my rundown little shack.”

“Well, I do still live with my parents,” Jimin comments, eyeing his mom from where she’s zooming all over the kitchen, putting together a lunch for the two of them. "Unfortunately."

“It evens out.” Jimin’s mom emerges with a basket, and Yoongi takes it only a little awkwardly. She doesn’t notice, but she does finally leave them alone (not without leaving a wet kiss on Jimin’s cheek, though, which Yoongi mimics on the back of his hand for at least five minutes afterwards). Jimin puts the flowers in a vase on his counter before turning to Yoongi and coughing.

“Are you ready to go?” he asks.

Yoongi crosses his arms. “Well, I was, but then I got here, and your mom made free food, and I’m really curious about your room.”

Jimin stares at him. “You’re not actually suggesting we stay here for this.”

“If we don’t tell your mom we stayed, she won’t come in.”

“She’ll hear,” Jimin says, glancing up at the staircase she’d disappeared up. “She has megasonic hearing.”

“What kind of noise do you think we’re going to be making?” Yoongi says, amused look on his face. Jimin sputters and nearly spits all over Yoongi’s face.

Gross,” he says too loudly. “Why is everybody so gross.”

Yoongi is laughing, and Jimin wants to punch him where it hurts. “Kidding. Completely kidding.” He ambles over to the stairs, peeking up at the second story. He waves Jimin forward without looking. “Coast is clear. Engage spy mode.”

“I don’t want—”

Jimin doesn’t get to finish because Yoongi has already taken off. He’s faster than he looks, legs propelling him up the stairs two at a time, and Jimin curses under his breath before following suit. He almost crashes into Yoongi when he abruptly stops at the top of the stairs.

“You’re going to get us caught,” Jimin hisses, pushing Yoongi forward by the small of his back. Yoongi swivels his head to look at him.

“I don’t know where your room is,” he says simply.

“Well, maybe you should have thought of that.” He grabs Yoongi’s hand and pulls him down the hall, tiptoeing past his mom’s room and shutting his bedroom door with a click behind them. He turns the lock, and Yoongi, who is already poking through his closet, looks up at him with a grin.

“So where’s the T.V.? I want to watch Netflix.”

“This is so domestic. I feel like I'm forty.” Jimin flops down on his bed and searches the mussed comforter for his remote. He flicks on the tiny T.V. in the corner and gestures towards his Wii. “Turn the thing on. And if you so much as drop a single joke about Netflix and chill, I will tell my mom on you.”

“Who says I’ll be joking?” Yoongi says. Jimin chokes on his own spit.

I say you will, because if you aren’t, I will file for sexual harassment.”

“Fair enough.” He presses the power button with his toe and sits down at the foot of the bed, crossing his legs underneath him. He’s sitting just close enough to Jimin to brush the side of his foot, but not quite close enough for it to be accidental. “Put on Naruto.”

Jimin makes a face. “I want to watch Fantasia.”

“Too bad. Hyung. Naruto.”

“What kind of shitty date are you,” Jimin mutters as he flips through his account for the anime section. He picks Naruto with a loud, exasperated sigh, but Yoongi is unphased. He slouches forward, eyes riveted to the screen.

“You asked me out.”

“That was a mistake. You’re going to hold that over my head for forever.”

“That is correct.”

Jimin crosses his arms. “We’ll watch three episodes, and then we’re watching Fantasia.”

Yoongi glances over his shoulder and smiles, and Jimin almost takes back the demand. (His stubbornness wins out, as it almost always does, but it’s quite the battle.) “Call.” He turns back to the screen, adjusting himself. Jimin can’t see past his head from this angle, but he doesn’t move. “You’ll find that I am a very agreeable date when you actually compromise.”

“Right, okay. Is this why you and Taehyung never dated?”

“Pretty much. He throws too many tantrums.” Yoongi scratches the back of his neck. “‘M not his type, anyways.”

“You’re right. His type is apparently Sasuke.”

Yoongi actually cackles. It's an evil sound. (Jimin likes it, whoops.) “Oh my God. If only Seokjin had thought of that before. That would have been the perfect name for that Nikki Sixx wannabe.”

“Maybe to losers like you.” Jimin settles back onto the bed. Yoongi crawls up to join him, falling onto his back and pressing his chin to his chest so he can still see. “To think, I used to think you were cool. Next thing I know, you’re cracking up because of bad Naruto jokes.”

“It was funny.”

Jimin preens a little. “I know I’m funny.”

“I didn’t mean you.”

“Don’t be a jerk.”

Yoongi neglects to respond in favor of focusing on the opening credits, mouth hung a little open. Jimin settles down and closes his eyes because he doesn’t care too much about Naruto, honestly, and he can focus better on the heat pulsing off Yoongi’s skin this way.

It doesn't take long for Yoongi to make the first move. Jimin isn't sure what he was expecting from Min Yoongi on a date, but he had thought that it would probably take a couple of them to melt his Icy Cold Heart(tm). This proves to be untrue when it happens - a tiny brush of his finger down the back of Jimin's hand as Naruto is screaming something in his squeaky prepubescent voice. It could totally have been an accident. Easily. Maybe he was stretching or shifting his position or something.

Well. Until he does it again.

Jimin stills his entire body, holding his breath when Yoongi keeps his finger there. Then, he hooks a finger under his hand and turns it over, tracing the lines of his palm.

“What are you doing,” Jimin finally manages past his shortness of breath. Yoongi makes a noise somewhere between a hum and a grunt. Jimin wrinkles his nose but doesn’t open his eyes. “That’s not an answer.”

After a couple more seconds of skittering fingers across his skin, he wraps his hand completely around Jimin’s, and yup, that’s definitely an answer.

He finally cracks one eye, but Yoongi isn’t looking at him. He’s just idly shaking Jimin’s hand, scratching his pointer finger against the side of it as something stupid happens onscreen that Jimin doesn’t care about and that Yoongi shouldn’t care about, either.

There's a pulsing in Jimin's gut. His resolve flies out the window. Not that it was very strong to begin with. “Yoongi.”

“Hmm.”

“Is Netflix and chill still on the table?”

Yoongi snorts. “I’m not deflowering you on our first date. Try again later.”

“I didn’t mean like that, Jesus.”

Yoongi finally spares him a glance, his head falling back against the covers. His hair falls away from his forehead, and Jimin can see the full power of his eyes on him. “Then what’s our innocent little Puff's version of Netflix and chill?”

Jimin looks up at the ceiling. “I don’t know. Kissing. Or something.”

“Or something?”

“You know what, I take it back. I don’t want your face anywhere near my face.”

Yoongi laughs, but he doesn’t move. He turns his attention back to the screen. “Later. Naruto is about to turn himself into a naked woman.”

Jimin seriously considers removing his hand from Yoongi’s grip, but then Yoongi moves his thumb over his knuckles, and Jimin loses to himself again. “You’re literally the worst.”

“Take it slow, Puffs. We’ve got all the time in the world.”

Jimin quiets. The statement hits him right where it hurts.

Wow, he likes Min Yoongi a lot.

It takes him a moment, just a moment, but he carefully moves his hand from underneath Yoongi’s to twine their fingers together. Jimin's hand is dark in contrast to Yoongi's, but he still finds it hard to figure out where his stops and Yoongi's starts. A plaid pattern of skin on skin, fingers knitted together like bits of yarn. Yoongi smiles.

“Attaboy,” he says, squeezing his hand.

*******

They don’t make out, which Jimin is actually hella disappointed about because the thought of it had distracted him through all three episodes of Naruto and Fantasia. Yoongi pauses when they’re standing out on the porch like he’s considering it, hands still caught on the bottom of Jimin's shirt. Jimin leans back on the closed door and bites his lip because he’s pretty sure that makes him at least a little tempting.

Instead, Yoongi ruffles his hair and pulls his ear and says, “Let’s do this again.”

And then he leaves. He just. Leaves.

Fucker.

Jimin is still kind of pouting a week and a couple casual after-camp dates later. Seokjin really wasn't lying about Yoongi being selectively oblivious, at least, because he has neglected to notice his various attempts at "giving the cold shoulder."

(Well. It may also be because Jimin is bad at it.)

Jimin may or may not be sulking a little one morning as he shows up for camp, hands shoved into the pockets of his thin hoodie because it's a little chilly in the mornings. Yoongi spots him from an entire country away and makes a detour right in the middle of conversation with Seokjin to approach him, resting his pale twig of an arm across his shoulders in that old familiar way. Jimin nearly forgets he’s miffed. “Hey, Puffs. I’ve got a proposal for you.”

“Yeah?” he says, shuffling underneath Yoongi’s weight.

“Switch groups for the day? I already asked Hobie. He said it was fine.” He gestures behind him to where Seokjin is standing, abandoned and a little annoyed at being left. “Seokjin said he’d cover your kids.”

Jimin stares, eyes wide. Well, maybe he had noticed. “You want me to watch your kids with you?”

“Yeah, sure. Why not?”

“I mean—aren’t you and Seokjin, like, advanced counselors?”

Yoongi gives him the deadest look Jimin has ever seen on a living face. “It’s not like they’re advanced kids.”

“I just don’t think I’m good enough—”

“You’re past good enough.” Yoongi claps him on the back and detaches himself with an expectant look. “So? Yes or no? The clock is ticking.”

Pushy. “Fine, fine, fine. But if Taehyung sees us, you know he’s probably going to stomp himself to the center of the Earth for leaving him out.”

“I know how to calm him down. Don’t worry about it.” Yoongi looks over at Seokjin and shoots him a thumbs up, as if that’s supposed to be some kind of end to their conversation, before turning back to Jimin. Jimin can almost hear Seokjin’s noise of indignation. “Basketball and chill before the tots get here?”

“Sure. Even though I’m pretty sure you’re lying about the chill part.”

Yoongi gives him a sly look, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Maybe I’m saving it.”

Right. Jimin will not be convinced that easily. “Feel free to use it any day now,” he grumbles, mirroring his actions and tugging down the beanie on his head.

“I wouldn’t have pegged you for the impatient kind.”

Jimin squishes his cheeks between his hands. “I’m not impatient.”

“It’s okay. I rushed stuff when I was 19, too.”

Jimin could swear that there’s a hint of nostalgia in his voice. He takes the bait. “Stuff like what?”

Yoongi seems to debate with himself for a moment. “Later,” he finally says. There's something off, but before Jimin can even think to ask what it is, he turns around with a glint in his eyes. “Pretend basketball. You and me. Best two out of three.”

*******

Yoongi was right about his kids not being advanced. They’re absolute angels.

Jimin doesn’t have a bad group by any means. Sure, there’s a couple that probably need a little coal in their stockings and less money on their parents’ credit cards, but for the most part, his kids are respectful and gentle and pretty cute. They whine about as much as any other kid, but they’re also easy enough to distract. Jimin has gotten pro at making a big deal out of bugs he finds in the grass to keep them from complaining about their sugar cravings.

The thing is, though, that Yoongi’s kids are literally not of this world. They all say please and thank you, and they stand up tall during attendance to make sure Yoongi doesn’t miss any of them. When Yoongi smiles at them, they smile back, and when he frowns, they look about ready to fall to the floor in a fit of tears and apologies.

Jimin wonders if Yoongi earned his ban from Counselor of the Week, or if he just lucked out by getting the best gaggle of kids in the entire universe.

(The longer Jimin works with him, the more he realizes it’s the former. Yoongi is gentle but strict, dry but silly, and unafraid of embarrassing himself for the sake of a toddler’s laugh, even though he gives Jimin looks that say he is not above murder if his secrets somehow make it out to the general public.

Jimin is not above drooling after him a little more every time he sits all the way down just to be level enough with a kid to high five them.)

Taehyung catches them eventually (he still stalks Jimin. Jimin is pretty sure that will never change), but he doesn’t seem too upset about being left out. In fact, he stares really, really hard at the space between their hands, as if it doesn’t belong. Jimin has to draw his arm up to his chest to break the spell Taehyung has on himself.

“Where’s Patrick Stump?” Yoongi asks, swinging his arm where it’s attached to a little girl. She looks up at Taehyung expectantly, as if she wants to know where Patrick Stump is, too.

“Pete Wentz,” Taehyung corrects patiently. “He’s watching the kids. I went on a bathroom break, and then I extended the bathroom break because I wanted to find Puffles.” He looks at Jimin as he says it, cocking his head. “Why’re you here instead of with your kids? I saw Dunkaroo with Princess Peach earlier.”

“We switched for the day,” Jimin says with a small nod. “Suga wanted me to.”

“Awww, Suga,” Taehyung coos. Yoongi flips him off with his eyes, but it doesn’t stop him. “Why don’t you guys just be permanent partners? That would be so cute. The kids would love you.”

The girl tugs on Yoongi’s hand to get his attention. “I like Puff,” she says authoritatively. “I think Puff should be our counselor.”

“But won’t you miss Princess Peach?” Yoongi teases, reaching down to ruffle her hair.

“We can have Princess Peach, too. And V.” Taehyung beams down at her as she reaches her open hand towards him. He takes it without a second thought.

“That might be a unfair for the other kids, but I’ll make sure you get to visit them, okay?” Yoongi looks up at Jimin with a hidden smile behind his eyes. “You’ll come visit again, won’t you, Puffs?”

“Of course,” Jimin declares, squatting down to grin at her. “And you and me will go so high on the swingset that we’ll reach the moon. Sound good?”

Taehyung gasps. “You have to find the moon rabbits. They’re endangered.

Jimin looks at him before turning back to the girl. “Well, apparently, we’re going to find the moon rabbits.”

“Yeah!” the girl says, giggling and releasing Yoongi to press her palm into Jimin’s cheek. Then, one of the kids is calling for her, and she runs off with a wave.

Jimin straightens up as Taehyung watches her jump onto another kid’s back with a laugh. “You have the best group, Sugs,” Taehyung comments dreamily. “The best.

Yoongi shrugs, but Jimin can see the subtle undercurrent of pride. “I raise my kids right.”

“Yeah, that’s totally it.”

“I don’t see you instilling morals and fostering growth.”

“Yeah. That would be because I’m fun.”

Jimin watches them bicker, and something like fondness strikes him out of nowhere. Taehyung is in the middle of speaking when Jimin impulsively reaches out to muss his hair. He ducks down and away from his hand, facing him with a tiny frown. “Don’t touch me, I’m ranting.”

“I’ll touch Suga, too,” Jimin says with a grin. Yoongi raises a warning eyebrow, but Jimin is past being intimidated by him. Way past. “I can rest my elbow on top of his head, if you want.”

“You’re shorter than me,” Yoongi deadpans, but Taehyung is already giggling. That means it’s too late.

Taehyung answers by resting his own elbow on Yoongi’s head. Yoongi shuts his eyes in exasperation. "Thanks, but I already have it covered,” he says, and Jimin snorts.

“I will kill you,” Yoongi says. “I will literally kill you from the elbow up.”

“Awww,” Taehyung says, puckering his lips, and Yoongi mimes punching him in the shoulder. He jumps away towards Jimin, and they both laugh until even Yoongi isn’t scowling anymore.

When the end of the day comes, Jungkook and Taehyung’s kids all filter out early, so they hang behind with Yoongi and Jimin as they’re waiting on parents to show up. Yoongi gives them irritated looks for the first five minutes, but then they get caught up in each other, Jungkook in the rocking chair and Taehyung talking a mile a minute and making up for the words he hasn't said yet with his hands, and even Yoongi can’t frown at that. When their last kid goes home, he doesn't tell them. He just takes Jimin’s wrist between his thumb and pointer finger and gently pulls him to the side of the cabin where they won’t be seen.

Jimin eyes him up and down. “What are you doing?”

Yoongi tucks his hands into his pockets, shoulders slumped in the most obvious façade of nonchalance that Jimin has ever, ever seen. “Seeing Jungkook and Taehyung together was making me nauseous.”

Jimin raises an eyebrow. “You sure that nausea wasn’t jealousy?”

He expects Yoongi to quip back, but he doesn’t. He settles into silence, and it’s too dark to see his eyes, but Jimin can feel them raking up his body. He crosses his arms, waiting, trying his damnedest not to wobble.

Then. “Maybe it was.”

“Well, you might want to make your move quick. I don’t know which one of them you’re lusting after, but they seem more interested in batting their eyelashes at each other.”

Yoongi's eyes flick up to his. “You know for a fact I’m not interested in either of them.”

Jimin looks up through his lashes, stepping back subtly until his back just barely brushes the wall of the cabin. He tries biting his lip again like he had the first night, tugging at the bottom of his camp tee. “Then what is there to be jealous of?”

It works this time. Yoongi takes two sure steps forward, hovering just in front of Jimin’s chest. He runs his hands down both of Jimin’s arms, finding his fingers and entangling them together. He stops an inch away from his face, searching his eyes for something. “You still opposed to my face on your face?”

Jimin pretends to think. "Still considering."

"I'm serious."

Jimin stares at his chin. "You know, I haven't ever been kissed before."

Yoongi's breath gets a little quieter. "Then it'll only happen once you give the okay."

Jimin takes in a lungful of air. Then, "This is the okay."

Yoongi doesn't waste a single second.

At first, it’s weird. There’s pressure on a place Jimin has never felt pressure, and Yoongi’s lips are chapped by the cold air and rough, like he bites at them a lot. Jimin doesn’t know what he’s doing, so he stands completely still, holding his breath, as Yoongi draws away subtly just to dive back in again.

It isn’t until Yoongi licks softly at his bottom lip that Jimin’s nerves melt off his body. His mind goes completely blank as he lifts his arms up to rest them against Yoongi’s chest. He opens his mouth and meets Yoongi’s tongue tentatively, and he can feel Yoongi’s breath stutter before he tips his head and dips himself deeper, hands running up Jimin’s side to the tips of his shoulders and back down.

They’re like that for a long time – or what feels like a long time, anyways, bodies creeping closer in millimeters until Yoongi’s chest is aligned with Jimin’s. Jimin is having trouble breathing, but he’s having more trouble breaking away, and it almost feels wrong, making out in the same place he’d just seen off his last four-year-old, but Yoongi kisses like he definitely doesn’t have the same regrets. Jimin can feel his reservations taking taxicabs home one by one, and he’s pretty sure if he doesn’t stop soon, he’s never going to.

Honestly, Jimin will never forgive himself for being caught by Jungkook and Taehyung. Taehyung will always give him shit for this, always, until his last breath has filtered out of his lungs and his eyes have shut for good, and Jungkook will randomly pull a stank face for the rest of their friendship, as if he were still remembering the horrifying moment that he'd been forced to witness because of Taehyung's nosiness.

In hindsight, though, it’s a good thing. He would have tethered himself to Yoongi until eternity ended otherwise.

Taehyung’s laughter colors the night sky, and Jimin flinches away at the sound, pushing feebly at Yoongi’s shoulders.

“Holy shit, you guys waste no time,” he comments through giggles, wiping his eyes. Jungkook is watching with his arms crossed, his face torn between amusement and extreme displeasure. (Jimin thinks he’d feel similarly if he caught them making out, so he can’t very well blame him.) “Yoongi works fast.

“Shut up,” Yoongi says, and Jimin is surprised to hear a dangerous edge to the command. Taehyung holds his hands up defensively.

“Okay, okay, to each their own pace,” he says quickly. “No judgment. Although, Jimin—”

“Shut up,” Jimin says just as quickly.

“Fine. No more words.” He turns to Jungkook, elbowing him. “Come on, Petey. Let’s get you home.”

Jungkook spares them a look. Then, he follows after Taehyung with a sigh. “Stop calling me Petey after hours. It's annoying."

Their voices drop out a little at a time. Jimin watches from his place against the wall as their outlines get swallowed up by the spaces not lit by streetlights. Yoongi is still caging him in, both arms unconsciously resting along his sides. He turns to Jimin as if to talk, but his eyes fall immediately to his lips.

Jimin licks them. Yoongi follows the movement. “Wall and chill round two?”

Jimin leans forward without answering. He knows a little more of what he’s doing this time.

*******

If Jimin knows one thing, it’s that he almost always wants to kiss Min Yoongi.

If he knows another thing, it’s that Min Yoongi will almost always kiss him back until he feels like he doesn’t exist and his lungs are shriveled and useless in his chest.

If he knows anything else, it’s that he and Min Yoongi are definitely not boyfriends.

He’s pretty sure that, physical allure and stellar make-outs aside, he definitely wants to be boyfriends with Min Yoongi. He thinks hard about it after every shitty broke-ass-students date at free theaters playing Barbie’s Swan Princess and parks that have no workers to clean up the leftover pigeon shit. He thinks about it before he gets to work and after he leaves and between every touch of Yoongi’s lips that somehow manage to happen during those hours. He considers it from inside and outside and at every possible angle, and he cannot find a single shred of evidence that maybe he’s just in it for the blonde hair and the sweet lips and nothing else.

Because he likes Yoongi. He likes that he makes him watch things he doesn’t want to and pulls his ear like he’s a kid, even though he hates those things. He likes that he smiles at Taehyung the same way that he smiles at the kids, and that he smiles at the kids the same way he smiles at Jimin. He likes that he plays on the courts with a fake basketball because he’s too lazy to paw through storage to find the real one anymore, and that he constantly asks if something is okay, if he's going too fast, if Jimin is keeping up.

If it were up to Jimin, they would definitely be boyfriends by now. Really. They almost practically are anyways. Seriously, okay, why aren't they boyfriends again?

The reason, he realizes, is Yoongi. Just Yoongi.

They’re on the courts. It’s been a couple weeks of daily dates and progressively more handsy makeouts, but emotionally, nothing has really come into fruition. Yoongi has admitted nothing. Jimin has admitted nothing. They’re moving forward and staying in place at the same time, and Jimin is finding that his legs really just don’t stretch that far.

So he asks. It’s probably not the best time or the best place, but those never really seem to exist. “Hey, Yoongi?”

“Suga,” Yoongi corrects gently, eyes on the hoop.

“Suga.” Jimin takes a deep breath from where he’s starfished at halfcourt, scratching at the ground beneath him. Yoongi pretends to dribble, sound effects included. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Shoot,” he says before doing so himself. He winks, and Jimin rolls his eyes.

“I’m serious.”

“So am I.”

Jimin blows lethargically at his hair. “What…what are we?”

Yoongi pauses. His muscles are locked in position, his eyes in front of him. Instead of answering (or moving, for that matter), he says, “Jimin, have you ever heard my music before?”

Jimin looks up at him. “Like, your taste in music?” He shrugs, more to himself than anything, as he blinks up at the sun. “If it’s as bad as your choice in dates, I’ll pass.”

“Hey, I thought of the dog café.”

“That wasn’t a—”

“Anyways.” Yoongi shoots. Jimin makes it miss in his imagination this time. “I’m talking about the music I write.”

The sky stretches so far above him that he thinks it could stretch into the future. He tries to follow it to the end of time. “Seokjin told me you were a music major, but I somehow didn’t make the connection until now.”

Yoongi nods. “Concentration on music production. Hence, I write stuff.”

Jimin quiets. “You haven’t shown me your music, so I haven’t heard it.”

Yoongi doesn’t even try to dribble this time. He just shoots, his feet not leaving the ground. It misses again behind Jimin’s eyes. “This weekend. Come to my place. I’ll show you, and then I’ll answer your question.”

It sounds so serious. Jimin doesn’t know why it sounds so serious. The atmosphere has become heavy and dripping, running down his back like cold syrup. “Is this another date?”

Yoongi smiles wryly, but he doesn’t make eye contact. He shoots again. “No. No, it’s not.”

*******

Hoseok is, in fact, Yoongi’s roommate. When Jimin walks in that Saturday, Yoongi wandering ahead of him to a room at the end of the hall, he spots him sitting on the couch with his legs crossed. He looks up, but he doesn’t react to the fact that Jimin is there. He must have already known. He smiles softly, but it looks hesitant. “Hey, Puff.”

“We’re off-duty. Knock it off with the camp talk.” Yoongi is looking at him expectantly, but he doesn’t want to move yet. He feels kind of like he’s walking into a big black portal to nothing, and he hasn’t talked to Hoseok in a while, anyways. “Are you meditating?”

“Yes. I’m listening to my inner Yoongi. He’s telling me to stop leaving my socks on his bed.”

“You should listen to him,” Yoongi calls from the hallway.

“Maybe when I’m dead,” Hoseok answers back. Jimin laughs. It’s subdued and small, but Hoseok shoots him a smile, a real one, and gestures toward the hallway. “I think he might actually kill me now, so go distract him, okay?”

“Got it,” Jimin says. He knows it’s a dismissal, but Hoseok seems sorry enough, so he shoots him a thumbs up. “I’ll steal all his sharp objects.”

“Good boy.”

Jimin sticks out his tongue, but he leaves anyways. Yoongi has already entered the room in his impatience. Jimin takes a deep breath before he walks in, glancing around furtively.

It’s mostly neat. There are CDs stacked as tall as Jimin in the corner, and the bedspread has been thrown haphazardly over the mattress. The floor is free of dust and clothes, though, and Yoongi’s desk is well-organized, a couple pencils and an open notebook sprawled out alongside his laptop. He’s sitting in front of it, spinning chair turned to face where Jimin lingers, still half in the hallway. “You can sit on the bed or you can stand here. Your choice.”

“You haven’t prepared a special seat for me?” Jimin jokes weakly. He opts to sit on the floor by Yoongi’s chair, a carefully chosen in-between, and Yoongi, despite looking all too tired, smiles down at him. “You made this feel like some sort of special event.”

“It’s…” Yoongi trails off, turning back to face his desk. He opens his laptop. “Well. Just let me show you.”

Jimin fidgets as Yoongi plugs in a password and clicks on a bunch of random shit that Jimin can’t see from the angle he’s sitting at. Something like a drumbeat starts up for a couple seconds before Yoongi pauses it and picks up his entire laptop. He pushes his chair aside and settles down next to Jimin, computer balanced on the knob of his knee. “I want you to listen really closely to what I’m saying in this, okay?”

Jimin nods. His fingers twitch towards Yoongi’s hand, but he stops them. “Okay.”

Yoongi nods and drags the song back to its starting point before he plays it.

Jimin listens. He’s concentrating hard on every beat as if it were what was speaking to him, and Yoongi is watching him out of the corner of his eye.

(Jimin is aware. He starts listening harder.)

Yoongi’s voice starts up twenty-four seconds into the song. Jimin is a little jarred because he’d become so focused on the music that he’d somehow forgotten to expect lyrical accompaniment - not to mention the fact that Yoongi’s voice is harsh, rough, almost angry in its delivery. He’s speaking so quickly that Jimin is having a hard time following in some points, but he can hear the gist of it.

Breakup. It’s about a breakup. A really bad one.

When that song ends, Yoongi sits back and waits. Another starts – a little different, a little less angry and a little more sad.

Still about a breakup. Still about a lost love.

Jimin sees the pattern.

Yoongi plays two more before he pauses the autoplay and looks fully at Jimin. “Did you listen?”

Jimin swallows. “Yeah,” he says quietly. “Yeah, I did.”

Yoongi shuts his laptop and sets it aside. “Tell me what you heard.”

Jimin crosses his legs and folds his hands in his lap. “I…” He chews on his upper lip, tightening his grip on his own fingers. “You were in love once.”

Yoongi nods.

“And…” Jimin stares at his thumbs, running them over each other in circles. “And they…left?”

Yoongi nods again.

Jimin frowns. “And…you still…love them?”

Yoongi holds his hand up. “Not that one.”

“Then what…?”

Yoongi sighs through his nose. “Well. You got most of it, I guess.” He turns his body fully, looking Jimin up and down before settling on his face. “Have you heard anything about me around camp before?”

Seokjin’s name almost comes out of Jimin’s mouth, but he stops himself just in time. “I heard…some things. About you and a girl.”

Yoongi nods thoughtfully. “Yeah. Yeah, that.” He stands abruptly and makes his way over to the bed, sitting at the edge of it and letting his legs dangle. Jimin watches him but doesn’t move. “I know that everything anyone has ever told you probably made me out to be an asshole. And I was. Completely. But I had at least half a reason to be.”

Jimin looks back at the ground. “What was the reason?”

“Simple.” He falls back onto the bed heavily, eyes finding the ceiling, and Jimin can only watch him. “She didn’t love me. Never wanted to. Never tried.” He pitters through a brief silence before saying, “I jumped into everything too fast. Confessions, gifts, whatever. Was an inconvenience to her after a while, didn't know until she told me so. So I ended it.”

Jimin gets up and walks to the bed. He stands a pace away from Yoongi’s legs, looking down at him, but Yoongi doesn’t meet his gaze. “I heard she quit.”

“She did. It was my fault.” He shrugs lethargically. “I was young. I was bitter. I was wrong, too.”

Jimin sits. He takes Yoongi’s hand in his. Yoongi lets him. “I think I know, but could I ask why this is an answer to my question?”

Yoongi finally looks at him. “You know, I don’t love her like I used to. It’s not that shitty warm first love, and it's not that obsessive, closer-to-hate kind of love that happens after it's over, either. But it’s still there.” He reaches out towards the ceiling, flopping his free hand around. Jimin thinks he’s trying to relieve the tension, but it’s not really working. “It’s like I left pieces of myself just laying around, and when I walked out, I forgot one or something. I don't know. Maybe I left it on the floor.”

Jimin plays with his hand. “Did you rip that straight from one of your songs?”

“Very possible.” He rolls onto his side to face Jimin. “You understand what I’m saying, though, don’t you?”

Jimin doesn’t really know whether or not to answer. “You don’t…like me?”

Yoongi pauses before punching him hard on the hip. Jimin yelps. “Wrong answer, fuckwad,” he deadpans. “Try again.”

“That hurt,” Jimin whines, rubbing his side. “If you pull that ‘I like you but we can’t be together’ angst bullshit, I swear.”

Yoongi stares at him. “Well…this is awkward.”

Jimin stares right the fuck back because no.

Yoongi sighs in frustration, rolling so that he’s facing away from Jimin now. Jimin is two seconds and one emo word from pulling him right back. “You know, I always had plans for the two of us. When I knocked you the fuck over the first day we met and you just laid there like a sack of potatoes, I swear to God, something broke inside my head."

Jimin frowns a little. "What are you saying?"

Yoongi gives him a flat look from over his shoulder. "Do I really have to say 'I wanted to bang you' out loud before you actually get it?"

Well, apparently he does, because he didn't actually get that until just now. Solid. A+ observational skills, Park Jimin. "Well...well okay then."

"It was stupid. I'm stupid. I didn't tell Taehyung because I knew he'd give me a talk about how I shouldn't go around seducing fresh meat, especially fresh meat that were friends, and I didn't want to hear it."

Jimin shifts to give himself a little room because he is feeling extremely claustrophobic right now. "So...you didn't like me? Is that what I'm gathering?"

A displeased grunt ejects itself from Yoongi's lump. "Nobody just starts out liking anybody, Puffs. I'll admit that I didn't pursue you because I wanted to get power-hugged by your mom and to hold your hand watching anime in your room like a fucking preschooler, but that's what ended up happening, isn't it?"

Well. He's not wrong.

"I just…" He sighs through his nose, tightening his hand around Jimin's. "After everything, I don’t know if I can. I just wasn't expecting... Well, you. That’s what I wanted to tell you. Before it went any…farther, I guess.”

Jimin scratches slowly at the inside of Yoongi's palm. “Farther being what? You actually admitting you like me?”

“Farther being—” Yoongi stops. “Farther being me admitting I like you the way I liked her in the beginning.”

That almost stings. Jimin gently removes his hand from Yoongi’s, and Yoongi pulls it back into his chest. He’s curled up facing the wall now, fingers tapping at the bedspread in an irregular beat that Jimin can’t recognize. Maybe his own heartbeat. “Is there any way I can convince you?”

Yoongi glances over his shoulder. “Convince me of what?”

Jimin crosses his arms. “Convince you that I'm perfect boyfriend material.”

There's a beat of nothing happening, Yoongi still sprawled across the bed and Jimin still staring down at him. Then, Yoongi sits up to level a stare at Jimin that says he wasn’t expecting an answer like that at all. Hell, Jimin wasn’t even expecting an answer like that. “What the hell are you on?”

“Give me two weeks. I swear to God I will change your mind.”

Yoongi’s expression is straight-up dead now. The blank face is strong with this one. “Are you shitting me right now?”

“Well, when the angsty misunderstood characters in the movies say this shit, the loving protagonist always changes their mind somehow,” Jimin says adamantly. “So I’ll start changing it. Starting now.”

This is it. The start of Jimin's life. He was made for this. He didn't learn every form of greasy aegyo in the books for nothing.

Yoongi shakes his head before he can even break out bbuing bbuing bunny ears. “You’re unbelievable. You know I’m not a story character, right?”

He tries out the classic alien invader instead, sticking his fingers on top of his head like antennas. "I know."

"So you realize it's not going to be that easy."

He squishes his cheeks together with both hands and speaks through his puckered lips. Pufferfish. "I know."

Yoongi presses his lips into a line. "It's going to be even harder if you keep doing that."

"Don't tell me you don't find this adorable."

"You caught me. I don't."

Jimin drops his hands onto his lap and sticks out his bottom lip. He looks up sadly through his lashes. "Oppa."

Yoongi immediately draws back like he's been burned, wrenching himself from Jimin's hand as if it were diseased. "Park Jimin, you have crossed a line. You are disgusting and you need to be stopped."

Jimin snickers and leans forward, pressing both his hands into Yoongi's knees. "Buy me ice cream, and I'll consider it."

Yoongi wrinkles his nose. "Fine. But it's going to be a plain vanilla cone from McDonald's, and you're not going to leave it on your lip like they do in dramas. Am I understood?"

Jimin nods obediently.

(He leaves it on his lip. Yoongi can grump and complain all he wants - he still ends up wiping it off with a strategically placed napkin, and that means it's working.)

*******

Park Jimin and Min Yoongi are definitely not boyfriends.

Jimin reminds himself this their first day back at camp after The Talk. He had texted Yoongi first that night, and the next morning, and the next morning. They've been sickeningly sweet messages full of tildes and asterisks about batting eyelashes, and Yoongi, despite expressing his intense displeasure every time he possibly can, still responds to every one of them with the same amount of enthusiasm. He's probably laughing and screenshotting everything for future blackmail when this phase of Jimin's life has ended, but Jimin is mostly beyond caring about his carefully maintained reputation at this point.

He is on a mission, and Park Jimin on a mission is not to be played with.

He has to remember not to go too fast, though. Stay vigilant, build from the basics up. Cute first, cool later, take it slow, Puffs, we've got all the time in the world. This is about constructing the right pace and coaxing Yoongi out of his big stupid head one teeny tiny baby step at a time. It’s not about big plans and wedding bells. It’s about the little things.

Jimin has never been in love, but he’s pretty sure it’s the little things that cause it. (Jimin has never been in love, but it’s little things about Min Yoongi that make him think he could.)

That’s why he shows up early that morning with an armful of ingredients for instant pancakes and a whole can of whipped cream. He has to scare off Namjoon and Hoseok with his spatula when they make appearances and take turns trying to drink the cream straight from the bottle (Namjoon gives up after one swat, but Hoseok, ever the dickhead, doesn't give up until he's successfully procured a mouthful), but minus a couple burnt edges, he's otherwise successful. By the time Yoongi comes, there’s already a small stack decorated with little dollops of cream shaped like a demented smiley face.

He raises his eyebrows at where Jimin is standing proudly with his Aunt Jemima’s syrup and his Kiss the Cook apron. “Did you cook for the kids?”

“What—no, it’s not for the kids, you dummy.” He carries the plate to a table and sets it down, freeing one of the seats from underneath it and gesturing. “For you, sir.”

“Ah, the old domestic route,” Yoongi says with a small, derisive nod. Jimin ignores it. “I see you’re abiding by the classics.”

“I’ve seen the classics work in more morning soaps than I can count.” He brings silverware as Yoongi settles himself into the seat and sits across from him as he cuts into it. He leans forward on his elbows, biting his lip as Yoongi takes his first bite. “Good?”

Yoongi wobbles his hand in a so-so gesture, and Jimin throws his dirty spatula into his lap. (He gets him paper towels afterwards, but he makes it clear that he's not apologizing.)

When they have to split up to go to their respective groups, Jimin pulls Yoongi aside, behind a tree where no one can see them, and kisses him on the cheek. “Go raise some prodigies,” he says, patting his head. "Teach them to cook like I do."

"But then they'll poison their future spouses."

Jimin punches him in the arm. "You aren't even worth making pancakes for," he says with a sniff, turning on his heel to walk off.

(One weak moment has him glancing back over his shoulder. Yoongi is still staring after him, small smile playing on his lips.

It's a small success, but small successes build up, after all.)

At the end of the day, he sits on top of Yoongi’s car and waits for him to get out of his after hours meeting. When he walks up, he gives Jimin a look of surprise before his face drops into amusement. “Hi there. How might I service you tonight, Mr. Pufflestuffs?”

Jimin hops down off his trunk. He reaches out a hand to smooth out the wrinkled top of Yoongi’s camp tee. It’s still a little damp with sweat (Jimin fights back the urge to break character and withdraw with an exclamation of “Gross, you sweaty gorilla”). “Take me somewhere.”

Yoongi takes Jimin’s wrist in his hand and holds it. “Do I look like an unpaid chauffeur to you?”

Jimin smiles sweetly. “No. But you do look like a guy who is going to eventually say yes.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Well, in that case, we can skip the theatrics.” He pulls away from Jimin and circles his car, popping into the front and slamming the door. When Jimin catches his eyes through the back window, he points exaggeratedly at the passenger’s seat.

Jimin laughs and obeys his silent commands, slipping into his car without a word.

“So where to tonight?” Yoongi says as he pulls out. “Ice cream parlor? California? The moon?”

“Anywhere where we'll be alone.”

“Pretty sure we’d be 100% alone on the moon, but hey, it’s your call.” He turns languidly, flicking his brights on. “I’m down with whatever.”

Jimin quiets. “How about we just drive?”

Yoongi glances at him, eyes lighting up just enough for Jimin to notice. “You know, that’s actually one of my favorite things to do.”

“Then it’s settled.” Jimin leans back in his chair and makes himself comfy. “Get us lost.”

Yoongi immediately swerves into an upcoming turn lane. Jimin has to grasp at his door handle to steady himself, but Yoongi just grins at him. “You’re on.”

*******

Park Jimin and Min Yoongi are still not boyfriends, but the kids seem to think they are.

Yoongi’s kids are especially brutal about it. Jimin doesn’t run into them much for some reason or another, but when he does, a good half of them take off like a pack of rabid deer and drag him over by the hands, feet, ankles and wrists. “Puff, Puff, Suga misses you!”

“Did he say that?” Jimin will say with a smile, and Yoongi will look anywhere but at them, lips curled like he could punt one if he wasn’t obliged to avoid physical contact. Or if he wasn’t so blatantly in love with them. “Gee, he never tells me that.”

“That’s because he’s a big scaredy cat,” one of the girls giggles. She wanders over to Yoongi and pulls at his hand, and he follows willingly – up until she reaches for Jimin’s hand, too, and links them together. “I now bond you in holy matter money!”

“Matrimony,” Yoongi corrects instinctively, and Jimin doubles over laughing at him. He frowns. “Look, grammar and education is important, okay.”

“That’s all well and good, but I’m pretty sure the bigger problem is being married.”

Yoongi makes a face. “Yeah, no, unless you’re going to make me pancakes every day, I’ll pass.”

“He’ll make you pancakes!” the girl wails, pulling at Jimin’s arm. “Right, Puff? Right?”

Yoongi gives him a challenging look. Jimin does not react well to challenge. “Heck yeah, I will.”

“Are you going to massage my feet after a long day of work, too?” Yoongi taunts.

“We have the same job. I have no sympathy for your feet.”

Yoongi places his hand over his heart with a pained noise. “I want a divorce.”

Jimin crosses his arms. “That's fine. I only like people who are willing to compromise.”

“Then why do you like me?” Yoongi asks, voice lilting in a half-joke. There’s an undercurrent of seriousness, of sincerity, that Jimin picks out somewhere under the show he’s putting on for the kids. He latches onto it.

“Isn’t that something you said on our first date? That you’d compromise?”

Yoongi doesn’t get the chance to answer because there’s a chorus of gasps from the children surrounding them. “I knew it,” one of the girls declares. “Now you have to kiss!”

“Not here,” Jimin says without breaking eye contact with Yoongi. He smiles. “That’s unprofessional.”

He doesn’t miss the knowing cock of Yoongi’s head, even as the girls grumble that they can’t be married yet until they kiss, anyways.

*******

The next day, Jimin leaves crushed flowers on top of Yoongi’s car and a note that says to my beautiful bride.

It’s the little things.

*******

Chapter Text

Taehyung is planning something.

Jimin can't even imagine what it could be. He can’t be bothered to worry too much because he is similarly planning something, but every time Taehyung gives him the eye from across the playground, as if they’re both in on a terrible secret, he gets wary. The last time he’d planned something, it had been to sabotage Yoongi, and he’d been more than eager to get anybody and everybody in on the plan, sans Yoongi himself.

Now, he’s got that same look, that same smile, that same manic energy, but he’s not telling Jimin a single word of it.

This is a very bad sign.

Still, Jimin is busy. He doesn’t have time to worry about Taehyung potentially gearing some kids up to teepee his house or hide booby-trapped gum packages in the front pocket of his backpack. He’s in full-on Woo Min Yoongi So Hard He Changes His Name To Min Woongi mode (a name that he himself came up with and a name that he alone will die knowing) and Taehyung, though precious as he is in Jimin’s heart, comes second until Yoongi admits that he totally wishes their kid-pastored marriage was legally binding.

Jimin has been working at him for a couple weeks now with daily breakfasts and more-than-daily kisses snuck in under the canopies of trees where the kids can’t see because Jimin is weak and Yoongi, it seems, is weaker. He’s been feeling the effect already, the itch of Yoongi’s hands staying steadfastly on his hips when they want to roam, the looks Yoongi shoots from across the mess hall, the notes Yoongi leaves on his car’s windows – don’t even think about going home, I’ve got plans for you. He’s made it under Yoongi’s skin, somehow, some way, whether he’s willing to admit it or not.

The last thing is to tell him. Again. Preferably in a more effective, less traumatizing way this time.

Jimin has spent enough time with Yoongi at this point to pick up a few tips and tricks about various things. Some of them are kind of irrelevant (no matter how much Yoongi likes Naruto, Jimin will never care about mastering bukijitsu) but some are useful – things like how to handle kids when they’re throwing tantrums, or when to actually trust the expiration date of milk, or where the cleanest 24/7 convenience stores are for 3am sugar fixes.

The most useful thing he’s learned as Yoongi’s unintended pupil, however, is how to mix a song.

When Yoongi first shows him, it’s as a joke. He warbles into his USB microphone and then fucks around with the onscreen knobs until it sounds something like shitty techno elevator music in an underground sex club. It’s supposed to make Jimin laugh, but he just watches wide-eyed through most of it, pushing Yoongi aside to play with the effects and see just how demented he can make it sound without creeping himself out. (It reaches a head around the time that he's leveled it up octaves into a high-pitched squeal. It's Yoongi who shuts the laptop, not him.)

When Yoongi leaves momentarily to grab a bag of chips from the kitchen that Jimin will later refuse to eat, Jimin pens down the name of the software Yoongi is using and tucks it in his back pocket.

(Of course, he doesn’t actually buy it. That shit is 160,000 won and intended for people who are already full professionals of producing wizardry. He does minimal research and settles for the 6,000 won iPhone app instead.)

Now, Jimin doesn’t claim to know how to write a song. He sometimes considers himself decent at writing, and his singing is very Not Bad. He can hear when notes are off and when they fit, and he knows the different between a fast beat and a slow beat.

If somebody threw a picture of the Circle of Fifths at him, however, he would probably stare at it, ask what the alphabet has to do with music, and then turn it into a paper airplane to throw at Jungkook’s head so his kids might finally have the chance to laugh at him.

That being said, he can definitely press buttons, and that’s all he needs to put together a rudimentary melody with a downloadable guitar and an 808 drum set.

He hums the skeleton of a chorus for a few days – consistently enough for Yoongi to tell him to shut up because he’s getting the wordless tune stuck in his head, too. The lyrics come to him in pieces - sometimes when he’s sat with Yoongi, back against the wall by his bed and eyes on the back of his head as he types madly on his laptop, and other times when he’s engaging in the Future Naughty Behavior Hoseok once outlined out in the woods on a picnic table. He scrabbles to write them down on the backs of receipts, on fallen leaves, on his own skin. They come together slowly, muscle to cover the bare bones of his shitty fake band.

The only thing left to put on is the skin. Without it, the only thing Jimin has created is an extremely terrifying, extremely morbid disaster, and this metaphor takes on a whole new level of creepy and fucking weird.

So he practices it. Mostly in the shower, if he’s honest, but sometimes in his room when his mom isn’t busting in every two seconds to ask what he’s doing, and if this is him finally agreeing to sing at Aunt Junghee's wedding. He finds out through Taehyung that Jungkook has a basement kept pretty much empty, so he starts going over to make adjustments and work his voice out. Jungkook is the only one he can currently trust (considering Taehyung is evil, Hoseok is the bossman, Namjoon lives for gossip, and Seokjin is an idiot), so he starts hanging around him more often in an attempt to both exhaust his resources and maybe make the kid smile more, like, goddamn.

“When are you planning on showing Yoongi?” Jungkook says one day as he’s knocking his way down the stairs, water bottle sweating in his left hand. He tosses it to Jimin, who immediately chugs half of it because he’s been singing for so long that his vocal cords are starting to take on the rough sound of sandpaper filing against wood.

“Whenever I have it mastered, I guess,” Jimin mumbles once he’s broken away for a breather. His voice is still scraping at the back of his throat. He winces. “I haven’t really thought about it. It still seems too soon.”

“I can think of a good day,” Jungkook muses, leaning back on the wall and crossing his arms. Jimin looks up from where he’s squatting on the floor over his phone where the words to the song are written.

Jimin is immediately weirded out. “What, have you been thinking about it, too?”

Jungkook wrinkles his nose. "Not any more than is absolutely necessary. I just heard something that made me think of you."

Jimin squints. "What day."

“Next Thursday,” Jungkook says with a flip of his hair. (It makes Jimin want to shave it off before he reaches the guyliner phase.)

“And what is so special about next Thursday?”

“There’s an event going on. Hoseok organized it.”

Jimin frowns. “I haven’t heard of it. And Yoongi hates public events, anyways. That would be a terrible idea.”

“I don’t mean show it to him at the public event.” Jungkook wags his finger like Jimin has said something wrong. It’s awfully patronizing for someone two years younger than him. 2130 more bowls of rice, bro. “You two should sneak off. Go somewhere private while Hoseok is probably bitching about professionality or something that doesn’t matter. Show him the song in the canyons of Whodaha for all I care. As long as you make it back in time to split into groups, you’re homefree.”

Jimin considers for a moment. “This sounds like there's a catch."

Jungkook holds his hands up to his chest. "What catch would I have? I'm honestly just trying to help you."

"Well..." Jimin taps his chin. "He does really hate sitting through Hoseok’s announcements. And he also really likes driving.”

Jungkook nods enthusiastically. “So you take him out for a spin, slide the CD in while he’s not looking, and boom. Suga gets his just desserts.”

Jimin pauses completely. “That was terrible. God, wow, why didn't you tell me you were that bad at puns, damn. I have secondhand embarrassment.”

“Shut up, okay. That's not even the point."

"You've been hanging around the kids too much." Jimin leans forward, scanning Jungkook's face. "Actually, do they know you're that bad at being funny? I think they'd be a lot less scared of you if they knew you were that bad at being funny."

"I'm not scary," Jungkook says, throwing his hands up. "Look, are you in or what?"

Jimin holds his challenging stare for a moment, and fuck, there it is. The sound of his funeral bells, vibrating in the back of his head like warnings.

“I’ll do it,” he says anyways.

*******

Taehyung’s still planning something, and Jimin is getting more and more worried.

It seems like almost everyone is starting to give him side glances now. Whispers start up at the drop of a hat when he passes, and he starts finding himself running into Yoongi’s group more and more often – almost as if it were intentional. Their kids are starting to misbehave, running off without warning and somehow just magically popping up in the other’s group with no explanation. Yoongi and Jimin both collectively suck at discipline, so nothing really gets done about it besides momentary panicking and half-assed scoldings that will more than likely turn into one of them carrying the kid back because their legs hurt from running.

When they see each other, they don’t just wave and pass anymore because they aren’t allowed to. The girls all shriek – “Suga, Suga, Puff, Puff, come play teahouse and make funny voices for our dolls!” – and they are taken in without a choice, slaves to the wills of seven-year-olds with no personal space and a lot of thoughts about relationships.

Jimin is pretty sure it's Taehyung’s doing. He’s shown more than once that he isn’t above manipulating the children to pull pranks and seek vengeance against those that have wronged him, and Jimin knows there is a high probability that he is still low-key bitter about being the third wheel in a relationship he once dominated, even if he now has Jungkook to even the score. There’s no other reason why the kids would be so adamant about sitting Yoongi and Jimin next to each other when they act out skits for them, or why, when any camper demands for Jimin, it is Yoongi that has to go get him.

It all feels very planned. Very, very planned.

At the same time, though, it never goes beyond the kids subtly sticking them together in various situations and telling them to kiss (which Jimin always politely refuses, even though Yoongi doesn’t). Jimin keeps waiting for it to get worse, for something big to suddenly strike, but nothing ever does.

Jimin doesn't know whether to wait it out or run away. Taehyung never leaves plans alone without a bang.

As it nears the day Jimin has affectionately named Next Thursday, Jimin spends more and more time practicing the song. It’s become an obsession of sorts, a distant hum that floods his brain every once in a while to remind him that yes, I’m still important, and you’re still not good enough. (Jimin’s funeral bells have even started to take on its tune. He might just have to leave Yoongi with the CD and tell him to play it at his procession when he dies.)

Jungkook seems a little put off by how frequently Jimin is in his basement. Sometimes, he’ll spend hours singing by the flickering overhead light that Jungkook’s parents still haven’t bothered to fix, and sometimes, the only time he’ll see Jungkook during the entire session is when he first gets there and occasionally when he leaves, if Jungkook hasn’t fallen asleep on him first.

Usually, though, Jungkook goes out of his way to make appearances with water bottles or tea with honey to soothe Jimin’s throat, sometimes with a snack or two and sometimes with an entire extra helping of dinner because Jimin will have forgotten that he hasn’t eaten yet. He's decent enough for a juvenile, even if he makes way too many horrible short jokes.

The day to record himself singing it comes too slowly and too quickly all at once. He’s exhausted, but he’s excited, too, because his mom had express-shipped out some home studio stuff to make it sound at least a tiny bit more professional. Besides, he needs to be excited – the song can’t be complete without the skin of his emotions, after all, and exhaustion can’t even take the hearts out of Jimin’s eyes at this point. He’s too far gone.

He has the bright idea to call Yoongi right before recording. The goal is to get him to say something cheesy so that Jimin will feel The Feelings and sing with his heart on his sleeve, but that honestly never happens. Yoongi answers with a sleep-crusted voice, low and scratchy, and it’s 8pm, what business does he have napping, but the tired hello from the other side of the line has Jimin's heart welling up in his chest before he works a single word in.

He doesn’t even actually say anything besides telling Yoongi in a soft voice to go back to sleep. (That’s also the most embarrassing thing Jimin has ever, ever admitted to himself.)

When Jimin has finally mixed his song to what he thinks is beginner’s perfection, he burns it onto two CDs – one for Yoongi and one for himself because damn it all, he worked hard on this. He’s even sort of been neglecting Yoongi lately to work on it (which, admittedly, is not great for the overarching plan of seduction, but oh well), so once he’s got it stashed away in his drawer, he asks Yoongi out on one final date before the Big Day.

It’s another driving date. Those kinds are usually impromptu, no destination in mind and no motivation to go back, but Jimin has found that Yoongi likes them the best out of all his suggestions. He seems perfectly content doing pretty much anything as a date – they’ve done their fair share of terrorizing the city and all its food vendors, and there’s that one time they tried to club together and Jimin got hit on, which hadn’t ended well for anybody – but there’s a calm that settles over him when he’s behind the wheel of a car with nothing demanding his attention. Jimin could almost be convinced that he knows where he’s going when he makes random turns and takes them down old, beaten highways and neighborhood roads that he’s never seen before. Yoongi is a confident person by nature, but he only ever seems completely sure of himself when he’s in the driver’s seat with one hand at the bottom of the wheel and the other tucked away in Jimin’s.

“What are you thinking about?” Jimin asks halfway through. He’s got his eyes on the road just the same as Yoongi does, but his mind wanders to Yoongi’s fingers skittering across his palm.

Yoongi purses his lips. “Latest song I’m writing,” he answers. Jimin’s eyebrows raise.

“You didn’t tell me you were writing another one.”

“Was a surprise. Now it’s not.” He flicks on his turn signal. Jimin has lost count of how many times he’s done that now. “It’s a happy one.”

Jimin fakes a gasp. “You actually write happy music?”

Yoongi looks at him, a little longer this time. Jimin almost forgets that, as the driver, he should probably be watching the road. “I write happy music when I’m happy.”

Jimin holds his eyes for the brief second Yoongi allows before he turns back to the front window and makes another turn. He smiles at his lap afterwards, running his fingers down Yoongi’s until he’s all but memorized the patterns of his fingerprints.

Yoongi kisses him on his doorstep that night the way he hadn’t the first time, and Jimin wraps both hands around his neck because he doesn’t want him to leave. Yoongi dislodges himself with an apologetic smile and a glance at the drawn curtains over the window to make sure Jimin’s mom isn’t creeping up on them. “Sleep well, alright?”

“You, too,” Jimin whispers. He’s not even sure why he hushes his voice, as if it’s some kind of secret that only the two of them can know, but Yoongi leans in to catch it on the bow of his lips, and it seems alright. He leaves Jimin lingering at the front door until the monster truck of a car he's become all too familiar with is long gone.

He fights the urge to call him again at one that morning. The heavy want to hear his sleepy voice before he goes to bed is strictly boyfriend territory, and he and Min Yoongi are definitely not boyfriends.

(He only has one more day, though.)

*******

Taehyung is planning something, and on Next Thursday, Jimin finally finds out what it is.

He’s a jittery mess, even worse than he had been when he asked Yoongi out the first time. He may not be wearing a tie this time, but his camp tee still feels like funeral wear. This is life or death, and depending on the timing, this could be the start of what could be or the end of what could have been.

Y'know. No pressure.

If Jimin could compare it to anything, he'd compare it to the CSATs he took last year. It was the end of schoolboy Jimin with his patterned ties and his tailored shorts, and a start of the free Jimin who has a real-person future and still doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing with it. Now, it's the end of Jimin who doesn't know what the hell he's doing, and the start of Jimin who doesn't know what the hell he's doing but is still kind of doing something.

It's worse, though, because Yoongi - well, it’s Yoongi who decides if what he’s doing is good enough, slow enough, fast enough, enough.

Yoongi is hard to impress, but he isn’t hard to please. Jimin knows this. It’s that juxtaposition that has him pacing his room, CD in hand, seriously contemplating calling in sick because his stomach is doing Things that definitely feel like the prerequisite to severe myocarditis and vomiting. It only takes one unchecked disease to die, you know.

Jimin has to physically force himself into his car when the time comes to leave, but once he’s there, he feels the sense of impending doom melt away to a much more manageable general anxiety. His muscles relax just enough for him to kick off the parking brake and get his car on the road. He just needs to survive the emotional turmoil that comes with confessing again.

Emotional survival shouldn’t be that hard, right? There’s a million things in the body that keep physiological homeostasis, so it’s not too much of a stretch to believe it’ll do the same for emotions. Right? Right?

When he gets to camp, he finds that this is very much not right. One of these days, he's going to sit down and tell his brain how much it sucks over tea and cookies.

He spots Yoongi from several paces away, hair shining with cloud-filtered sunlight, and he almost, almost runs away the way he used to way back when - back before he fell over more than just a well-placed frisbee.

But he doesn’t. Instead, before his muscles can either a) turn to jelly or b) jerk him involuntarily behind any bushes, he takes off running.

“Yoongi!” he calls in a burst of manic energy. Yoongi jumps, turning around with only slightly burning eyes.

“You scared—”

He stops talking when Jimin crashes into his chest headfirst, butting him in the chin with the crown of his head. His hands fall naturally over his shoulders, settling without thought, and Yoongi snorts into his hair. “What the fuck, Puffs.”

“We’re going on an adventure today,” Jimin declares into the side of his neck. “And we’re leaving now.”

“Now?” Yoongi glances behind him. “But Hoseok just asked me to—”

“Hey! Hey, you! Puffball!”

Jimin glances over Yoongi’s shoulder, removing himself from Yoongi’s front. Yoongi withdraws his arms as Jimin steps aside to take a good look at who’s calling him.

He makes a face. Taehyung. “What do you want, you creature?”

“I’m not a creature. I’m the twenty-second letter of the alphabet.” Taehyung stops right in front of Jimin, throwing his arms blindly around him and entrapping him. “You’re coming with me, mister.”

“No I’m not,” Jimin protests, struggling against Taehyung’s tight grip. “I’ve got plans.”

“Plans?” He grins, pressing a palm into his hair and twisting. Jimin leans up to bite at his fingers. "You're already at camp. What plans could you possibly have?”

“I’m not ditching," Jimin squeaks prematurely. He coughs and blames it on Taehyung's arm around is throat. "I mean, I’m just—”

“V, what are you doing?”

Jungkook is jogging up now, dressed in a suit and a little silver bowtie, and Jimin would be confused if he wasn’t so excited to see him. “Jungkook! I mean, Pete. I mean, whatever, okay, tell V I have plans.”

Jungkook stares at him blankly. “Plans?”

Jimin stares back. “You know. Plans.” He slants his eyes towards Yoongi before returning them to Jungkook’s face. Jungkook still looks lost. “You know? Next Thursday? Come on, don’t play dumb, you know.

“I don’t think he does,” Taehyung says smugly. He looks at Jungkook, and something flashes in the air between them.

Something like deceit.

“What’s going on,” Jimin accuses. “What are you two planning—”

“Shhhh,” Taehyung says, covering his mouth with a hand. He turns to Yoongi. “Hey, didn’t Hobie tell you to be somewhere?”

Yoongi looks between him and Jungkook. Taehyung bats his eyelashes, and Jungkook gives him a trained I know nothing face. “I don’t trust this.”

“Hobie’s the boss,” Taehyung reminds with a snotty little smile. Jimin licks at his hand in a fit of desperation. (It tastes like dirt and coconut. He doesn’t even flinch.)

“If this involves me getting bodily harmed,” Yoongi starts, but Taehyung interrupts him by waving a hand. Jimin tries struggling, and he immediately crushes him in a hug again. Yoongi watches the exchange with raised eyebrows. “Or him. He’d better come out unscathed.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Taehyung croons. “I wouldn’t dream of hurting your Jiminie Cricket. So long as he puts on his clothes without squirming too much.”

“Clothes—”

Taehyung is carting him away before Yoongi can finish the question on his tongue, giggling in his ear, as Jungkook hangs back to block him from following. Jimin is straight-up thrashing now, but Taehyung has more leverage, thanks to the three centimeters of height he has over him. He gets him through the door to the cabin without too much trouble, and Jimin pauses in his great quest for freedom to look around in awe.

Everything is white. There are frills taped up on the walls, tables set with plastic forks and plates shaped like polar bears. Taehyung drags him through it without stopping until they’re past the kitchen, where Jimin thinks he spots a blob of frosting on the corner of a little white cake.

Taehyung doesn’t let him breathe until they’re in the bathroom. He sticks him in a stall, blocking him in with his body and reaching to grab something from the towel rack on the wall. He shoves it in Jimin’s arms. “Change.”

“I’m not putting on anything you give me, it could be laced with poison—”

“It’s just a suit, jeez.” Taehyung grips the sides of the stall, swinging his legs in and out of the door. “Trust me. You don’t want your ratty camp tee on right now.”

“I refuse to trust you. I’m never trusting you or Jungkook ever again.”

“Pete,” Taehyung corrects lightly, shooting him a smile before forcibly closing the door. “You’ve got five minutes before the ceremony starts, and I need to change, too, so hurry up.”

“What ceremony?” Jimin whines, banging on the door. Taehyung doesn’t budge, so he sighs in defeat and looks over the suit.

It’s…bright white. Almost as bright as the room previous, almost as bright as the sun on a cloud, almost as bright as Yoongi’s platinum hair. It looks like something Michael Jackson would wear. “Taehyung, what the hell is this?”

“I’m not answering any of your questions until you are fully suited.”

Jimin grumbles to himself, but his resolution is weakening faster than he can grasp. He shimmies out of his clothing piece by piece and dons the white shirt, the silky white vest, the stupid white bowtie. He looks like a balding yeti, minus a few inches and some crucial upper body strength. “Okay, I’m in your dumb suit. Whose decision even was this? I look like a blizzard threw up on me.”

Taehyung throws open the door. He’s changed, too, apparently, somehow managing to pull on a coat and tie over his campwear while Jimin was struggling into this abomination of a tux. Taehyung whistles. “You look like a little puffy marshmallow angel.”

“I’m not a marshmallow, and I want to know what the fuck is going on—”

“Where’s the CD?” Taehyung asks impatiently. “Come on, we’re on in, like, thirty seconds. You’re wasting time with all this speaky speak.”

“How do you know about the CD?” Jimin accuses. “It was Jungkook, wasn’t it? Goddammit, my trust means nothing to you people—”

Taehyung rolls his eyes and shoulders past him, grabbing his pants from the floor. He fishes around in the back pocket, grinning as he pulls out the plain white case protecting Jimin’s pride and joy. “Is this it?”

Jimin colors. “Give it back—”

“Nuh uh uh,” Taehyung chastises, holding it out of reach when Jimin makes a wild grab for it. “This is very important to our ceremony.” He checks the time on a watch latched around his wrist and curses under his breath. “We’re late. The girls must be waiting.”

“The girls—”

Taehyung grabs him by the wrist and tugs before he can get another word out (not that he’s been able to do that properly at all in the past twenty minutes). The sun is particularly bright today, blue skies stretching past the odd cloud or two, and Jimin has to shield his eyes to stop himself from going blind. Taehyung is ruthless with his pulling, his footsteps getting a little bouncier with every step they take and excitement tightening his fingers against Jimin’s pulse. Jimin half wants to trip him and run away screaming for some form of police, but Taehyung's eyes are sparkling like there’s something waiting for them, and Jimin is just as curious as the next guy as to why in the world everyone’s in a suit.

He sees the arch tip up over the hill before he sees anything else. He sees the white flowers pasted on, the snow-colored ribbons cascading down the poorly-built cardboard painted in messy white strokes, the strands of white silly string sprayed over to drip down onto the grass like little chemical raindrops, and he wishes he had turned tail and ran while he had a chance.

The rows of plastic chairs in front of the arch are filled with counselors and kids alike, all dressed in varying forms of formal wear (some of them in nice shirts and clean pants, a rarity when it comes to campgrounds and children, and others like Jungkook in full tuxes and shiny shoes). Seokjin is standing by the arch, shoulders stiff and smile even stiffer, and—fuck.

Fuck it all, is that Yoongi up there?

Taehyung stops before Yoongi can spot them (not that he would, anyways – he’s too busy shooting glares at Hoseok, who is stood behind him with an ominous hand poised on his upper arm). He waves his free hand at where Jungkook stands with his arms crossed. He scampers over easily, a couple kids turning to follow his movement and gasping when they see Jimin stood there, looking extremely out of place. Maybe even more out of place than Yoongi. At least he’s wearing a regular suit instead of one that would literally blind a man if held under a blacklight.

(He looks damn good in that suit. Not that this is the time for that.)

Taehyung passes Jungkook the CD without a word. Jungkook runs back and gives a nod when he’s settled himself next to a little silver contraption that Jimin can’t make out.

There’s a sudden noise of static and the bleat of a microphone. Then, Jimin’s song starts up.

The funeral bells are absolutely fucking deafening.

Yoongi glances up from where he’s fiddling with his cufflinks. Hoseok and Seokjin both instinctively straighten, craning their necks to see over their audience.

Taehyung starts leading Jimin forward. Jimin digs his heels into the ground. “No fucking way.

“It’s too late, Puffs,” Taehyung whispers with that stupid shitty smirk on his face. Fuck that face, Jimin likes his stupid blank face better. “They’re already waiting for you.”

“No.”

Taehyung pulls. “Suga is waiting for you.”

Jimin’s feet falter for just a second. Taehyung notices, dammit.

Yoongi is waiting for you.”

“Stop lying,” Jimin snaps, but when Taehyung pitches forward without warning, Jimin finds his body following, his protests dying feeble and pathetic in his mouth.

When Yoongi sees him, it’s nothing short of a natural disaster. In one second, his eyebrows are raising, mouth falling open just enough for his tongue to peek out and wet his lips, fingers stilling on the edge of his coatsleeves as Jimin tries to convey that this is entirely Taehyung’s fault without speaking.

In the next, his entire face is covered by both hands, unheard groan sitting hard on Jimin’s shoulders, and only Hoseok’s grip is keeping him from bolting.

Well, at least the kids are cheering.

Jimin finds himself with a hand over his own eyes as well as he walks down what he now realizes is the aisle, Taehyung guiding him a little more gently now that the drag of his feet has become begrudgingly willing. There are girls and boys on either side of them screaming their approval, counselors interspersed to shush them if they get too rowdy, and Jimin can’t help but wonder at how meticulously this has been planned without him hearing a word of it. Even Hoseok is in on this shitshow, for Christ’s sake, his grin almost as white and blinding as Jimin’s fucking fairysuit.

(Everything that makes Jimin jut out his bottom lip and whine is Jung Hoseok’s favorite pastime, and fuck if that hasn’t changed since the beginning of summer.)

By the time Jimin makes it to the front, his song has ended. There’s a couple seconds of awkward, unplanned silence as Jungkook hastily removes the CD and puts in another one, shutting the contraption and pressing a button to start it up again. A new song starts playing.

Jimin recognizes Suga’s rapping almost immediately, even though he doesn’t recognize the song.

(Yoongi hadn’t been lying. It is happy this time.)

“Dearly beloved,” Hoseok starts without removing himself from Yoongi’s arm, “we are gathered here today to witness the union of Min Suga and Park Puff in holy matrix honey—”

“Matrimony,” Jimin hears Yoongi mutter as Taehyung positions him in front of him. Now is really not the time for laughing, so Jimin shoves his face in his arm to keep the manic giggles at bay. Yoongi looks up through his fringe at the sound of him choking.

He almost smiles. Jimin almost does, too.

Then, Hoseok continues, and they’re both glaring at the floor again.

“Into this estate these two persons present come now to be joined. If anyone can show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together—”

“If anyone speaks, you get detention,” Taehyung says loudly.

Jimin’s other hand finds his face, too.

Hoseok clears his throat. “Well, okay, no objections, then. In that case, who is giving away the bride?”

Taehyung raises his hand and waves it excitedly. “Me, me, me! I volunteer to be the dad.”

“No way,” Seokjin butts in, pushing his hand back down to his side. Taehyung juts his lip out, but Seokjin just moves him aside with his hips. “I’ve known Puff the longest. I get to give him away.”

Jimin looks up, wide-eyed and way past irritated. “What the heck, I am not the bride.”

Seokjin gives him a look before gesturing to his god-awful suit. “You’re the one dressed in white.”

“That’s because V—”

“I’ll do it,” Seokjin interrupts, turning to Hoseok. “I give this Puff to be married to this man.”

Jimin wants the ground to swallow him up and spit him back out somewhere where Kim Seokjin doesn’t exist.

Bonus if Taehyung is gone, too.

“Alright,” Hoseok says, beaming. “Now you get to say vows.”

Jimin stares at him blankly. “I don’t have any vows.”

“Neither do I,” Yoongi says. Jimin is surprised to hear that his voice has taken on a tone of...surrender.

He glances up and realizes with a start that Yoongi is staring at him.

Not even with disgust this time.

“You guys both wrote songs,” Hoseok supplies helpfully. “Why don’t you just give the lyrics?”

Jimin can feel his blush all the way down to his toes. “There’s no way I’m repeating that out loud.”

Hoseok shrugs and turns to Yoongi. “Suga?”

Yoongi purses his lips like he’s actually considering it.

You know what? Yoongi can stop existing, too. Just erase everybody that is making Jimin’s life unbearable right now. He’ll be fine without them. He'll be better off.

“The lyrics are…” He mulls over his words. “Not…appropriate for kids.”

Seriously. Now is as good a time as ever to destroy yourself, universe.

“But I can say something else.”

Where the hell is Armageddon when you need it??

“I want to say,” Yoongi starts, holding his hands together in the perfect show of tranquility and inner peace, “that I hate big public shows of emotion. I hate them more than anything else in the entire world.”

Jimin shrinks a little, readying himself for the blow.

It doesn’t come.

“I hate them,” Yoongi says, “but I guess, sometimes, they have their place."

What. What. No, this is bullshit, Jimin got yelled at for this.

"Park Puff has been a good friend," Yoongi continues. "He's been a good person most of his life. Better to me than I deserve." He glances at Taehyung, eyes narrowing. "Better to V than he deserves, too."

Taehyung just bats his eyelashes. Shithead.

"And, you know, I didn't mean to like him all that much. He's little and kind of dweeby and really, really bad at basketball."

A quiet snicker runs its course through the crowd. They can all get swallowed by the void, too, for all Jimin cares.

“It’s scarier when you don’t mean for it to happen, but it really shouldn’t be. Liking someone isn't a bad thing. It’s not something to be embarrassed or scared of.” Yoongi shoves a hand in his pocket. The wind blows his hair back so that his eyebrows are showing, and the look is so Yoongi it hurts. "Liking someone...it's okay. It's nice. Everybody can learn something from that."

He stops talking to the crowd and turns explicitly to face Jimin. It's like he's flipped a switch and turned the world off. Hoseok and Seokjin fall away, the murmurs of the crowd dying down to nothing, the beat in the background slowing to a crawl in the space between one second and the next, and Yoongi opens his mouth.

Jimin doesn’t know what he was expecting when he volunteered to be a camp counselor over his summer break this year.

What he does know is that it definitely wasn’t Min Yoongi shedding his skin in front of him, eyes too brown and lips too pink when they say, “I like you, Puffs.”

Alright, alright, hold off on the end of the world, please.

Yoongi turns to Hoseok. “That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.”

“…right,” Hoseok says. “Well, uh. That was eloquent. And more than I've heard you say in public in about three years. Congratulations." He turns to Jimin with a cough, straightening his tie. "What about you, Puff?”

“I,” Jimin says, but nothing comes to him. Yoongi is giving him an expectant look, his mouth open as if he wants to say the words for him.

The longer the pause, the harder Yoongi stares, and it occurs to Jimin all at once that he's still scared.

Is that what love is? Being scared all the time? Afraid that one small move will tip the balance and send it flying off the edge of your life again?

Maybe, in a sense, that's Yoongi's love. Yoongi's love makes him shake in his boots for fear of losing it at any moment, suitcase packed and red hearts leaving a broken trail in its wake. It's made him do stupid things, doubts cast aside until they piled up and spilled over into the rest of his life, and it's trapped him in his music and his studios and his unsaid words.

And, ultimately, it's caused him to turn down the somebody that he could love. Because liking comes first, and ‘liking’ is easier to watch walk out the door. After all, liking is the one night sleepover and the new sentences that aren’t quite complete enough to fall off your tongue, and loving is the toothbrush left in your bathroom because you know it’s coming back.

Until it doesn’t.

“I know you’re still…scared.”

Jimin picks his words carefully because there’s kids and counselors breathing in his sentences, sitting at the edges of their seats because holy shit, he spoke, this just got real. Yoongi looks a little tense, eyes searching, but he doesn't move. That’s something.

“And it’s okay to be. I give you permission to be. It’s kind of funny.”

Yoongi shakes his head, but his shoulders relax. That's something, too.

“But I hope you aren't forever, though. I want you to be comfortable. The way you are when you drive.”

With me.

Maybe, just maybe, Yoongi hears it. Unspoken, but still loud.

Jimin has never been in love, but if he were, his love would be the kind made of bricks and mortar and concrete foundations. It would be the apartment complex he could come home to that rattled when it rained but still kept him dry, and he'd fill it with stuffed animals and CDs and dance battles and all the dogs in the fucking world.

And in that love, that little one-room studio built of smiles and soft touches and loud barking, he thinks Min Yoongi would fit perfectly.

(And maybe Suga too.)

“Most importantly, though, I'm pretty sure my mom would kill me if I came home married. But I'll give boyfriends a try.”

Insert the sound of Hoseok gasping here.

All eyes are on Yoongi for the second time in his entire life, and this time around, he doesn’t give him the Blank Screen of Death.

Instead, he gives him the smile, his hair glittering like a halo, crow’s feet marking his face with lines Jimin has learned to love to see. He reaches out a quiet hand, wraps it up in Jimin’s, and presses his thumb to his palm until the funeral bells have died down to the tiny chime reserved for weddings and adoration.

“Attaboy,” he whispers.

*******

(A campwide chant of You may now kiss the bride starts up without warning as they wrap up the rest of the fake marriage. Hoseok, despite having planned this entire piece of shit surprise with Taehyung and Jungkook, still deems this as Inappropriate And Vulgar, so they don’t, to every little girl’s chagrin.

Jimin gets in his car after hours, though, stolen suit in his arms and both burned CDs on the dashboard, and when Yoongi scales the mountain of his car door, he kisses him like he hasn’t in weeks.

It’s the little things.)

*******