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 Note:

Character Intros will be posted 3 days apart

A chapter will be posted every week

 

Main Characters:

 

 

 

Name: Kim Seokjin (김 석진)

Age: 24

Relationships: Boyfriend of Kim Namjoon, close friends with Kim Taehyung, Park Jimin and Min Yoongi.

Occupation: CFO at Samsung Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

  

Name: Kim Namjoon (김 남준)

Age: 24

Relationships: Boyfriend of Kim Seokjin, close friends with Jung Hoseok

Occupation: Carpenter

 

 

Name: Min Yoongi (민 윤기)

Age: 23

Relationships: Boyfriend of Park Jimin, close friends with Kim Seokjin

Occupation: Song Writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Name: Park Jimin (박 지민)

Age: 22

Relationships: Boyfriend of Min Yoongi, childhood friend of Kim Seokjin

Occupation: Works in HR

 

 

 

 

Name: Jung Hoseok (정 호석)

Age: 23

Relationships: Close friend of Kim Namjoon

Occupation: Cleaner/Waiter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Name: Kim Taehyung (김 태형)

Age: 20

Relationships: Close friends with Kim Seokjin

Occupation: Unemployed

 

 

 

Name: Jeon Jungkook (전 정국)

Age: 18

Relationships: Boyfriend of Kim Yukwon

Occupation: Unemployed

 


 

 

Minor Characters:

 

 

 

Name: Kim Yukwon (김 유권)

Age: 30

Relationships: Boyfriend of Jeon Jungkook

Occupation: Zico's right-hand man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Woo Zico (우 지코)

Age: 30

Occupation: Leader of drug gang

 

 

Chapter Text

석진



I



“My mother always use to say that life was nothing but a series of tragedies wrapped neatly in false promises of happiness. She told me that it wasn’t how well you evaded the misery, but how well you persevered that defined you as a person. I just never realised how hard it would be to do so...” - Jin

 

 

Fate is a funny concept. Just when you think you have everything figured out, life has a tendency to prove how horribly wrong you are. Jin used to think his life would be clear-cut and simple. He would have a good education and a more than happy childhood; he would graduate, go to a top-notch university, get his degree and then start working at one of the hospitals his parents own as a certified CFO.

 

And he had been right.

 

All those things did, in fact, occur, but only because he was determined enough to bend fate to his own will. After the matter of his occupation and financial status had been indefinitely secured however, he hadn’t given a thought to what would happen after. He likened to the thought of meeting a sweet girl, getting married, having children – the whole shebang, but it was never a necessity like his other goals in life. He had decided – for his earlier years of adulthood, to simply let life take him where it may.

 

What he hadn’t fathomed was how fate had plucked him one of the most unlikely of soul mates, and he was lucky enough to meet his other half at quite a young age.

 

Twenty-two and still relatively new to the scene at Samsung Medical Centre, the last thing on his mind had been romance or companionship. He’s aware that he’s fairly attractive. The swooning nurses and doctors made things blatantly obvious, particularly to someone as perceptive as Jin, but he was too focused on building his new career to really give it much thought. Too many years he had spent slouched over a desk, nose buried in an array of books and knowledge his brain could barely contain. His parents had worked hard in ensuring he would have a good education, and it had been time to prove his worth as the decent, hard-working son his parents desired for him to be. They would never push him or hound him like some mothers and fathers would do, and if anything it only made Jin all the more determined to prove himself, that all their efforts hadn’t been in vain.

 

His parents are doctors, his father a pediatrician, his mother an oncologist. As human beings one cannot compare. They are the sweetest and most generous people Jin has ever known, and likely ever will know. As parents they were admittedly - a little lousy, but only because their lives were dedicated to their jobs and endless patients. Their deep desire to care for others is heavily reflected in their line of work, and they strive to help as many people as they possibly can, offering hope when there seemingly is none. They love him dearly, and always found time to spend with him as a child, however limited it may have been. His father would take the day off work to go to his swimming tournaments when he was in middle school and high school, and his mother always used to have his lunches packed and waiting for him when he got up in the morning. They were caring and sweet - if only a little absent, but Jin is a solitary person, and he didn’t mind the silence in his home.

 

He had moved out after he had gotten a job at Samsung Medical Centre (it’s likely his parents pulled some strings to get him such an executive position straight out of university, but Jin likes to tell himself it was his charm and intelligence that landed him his dream job). He now owns a penthouse looking over the Han River in Shinsa, big enough to accommodate a large family. The day he had given his parents the grand tour of the rather modern but tasteful apartment, his mother had jokingly commented that it was “a home fit for a dozen grandchildren!” He had awkwardly laughed it off, as any child would do, and no further discussion was made.

 

After his ambitions were satisfied, he had found himself sinking into a sort of clockwork routine. He would wake up, eat, go to work, come home, eat, sleep and repeat. On the occasional friday night he would go to a bar with some friends after work, but otherwise his life was a simple, mundane routine. He never really stopped to question this at first, because to question his life would mean to question all the hard work and study he had put into getting to where he was then. However, doubt - like a tiny little woodpecker - started to rattle at the back of his mind, until he realised that perhaps a companionship wouldn’t be all so hazardous. Instead of returning to a dark and cold apartment, he could return to one humming with life and warmth. These thoughts only came to him on the nights he couldn’t get to sleep, tossing and turning amongst of the sheets of a bed big enough to cradle more than three people. Work was a good distraction though. He has very little time to let his mind wander, so the vacancy in his house never grew to become anything but an occasional ponder.

 

It was only when his significant other came into his life that everything changed. Jin wouldn’t say it was drastically changed, but he sure looks forward to returning home after work now.

 

As far as romantic, love-at-first-sight moments go, Jin wouldn’t classify his first impression of his soul mate as the best. As the CFO he’s often on the hospital scene assessing and supervising the business and financial aspects, and the night he met his other half had been no exception.

 

He had been looking over some forms with the receptionist particularly late that night. He hadn’t known what had compelled him to work overtime, only that he was keen on working through it until it was all properly sorted. It was a quiet and slow evening. He could tell the receptionist was eager to finally clock out by the way she kept checking her watch, but single, hard-working Jin hadn’t given her any mercy.

 

The commotion echoed down the hallway as he had snapped his folder shut and started making his way back to his office. He hadn’t given it much mind at first. It was common for sudden commotion to occur when someone badly injured was wheeled in, so he had respectfully kept close to the wall as he walked, mindful of the shouting that was getting louder and louder. He could hear the wheels of the gurney screech against the floor, the patter of feet hastily in tandem. Voices were shouting back and forth, assessing damage and determining the best and most efficient course of action.

 

“Bullet-wound” was what caught Jin’s attention. It could have been one of two people - a policeman who had gotten caught up in the line of duty, or someone involved with trouble.

 

The second the gurney whizzed past him, Jin had received his answer.

 

Bleeding through wounds in the shoulder and leg, his significant other had come to him in the form of a younger and fearful-looking man. He had shock silver hair as sleek as a newly minted dime, and black tattooed patterns climbing down the expanse of his tanned arms. From what Jin could tell, he was barely conscious - likely to have lost enough blood to make him delirious. For a split second though, his partner’s half-lidded eyes had flickered to him.

 

He saw a man who had lost his way. He saw a man who had made some poor decisions. He saw a man in excruciating pain, and Jin had a feeling it wasn’t from the bullet wounds.

 

Jin had caught where he was being taken just before the gurney rounded the corner and vanished, and for some unknown reason, he had tucked that little piece of information to the back of his mind as he continued forth to his office.

 

His significant other had recovered (obviously), and he had been making discreet visits to the man’s hospital room whenever he found the time. He’d never admit it aloud, but he would sometimes find himself wandering to his area of the hospital more than twice a day - just for a peek.

 

He had been curious. As a man raised in high society, he saw very little of the underground scene or anyone involved with it. Only celebrities would ever dare to dye their hair something so outrageously outspoken, and tattoos were out of the question. There was just something about the man Jin couldn’t ignore. He isn’t a thrill seeker or attracted to danger, but his other half had been the very definition of trouble. It’s funny how such a threatening-looking man appeared so peaceful when he slept. It had been awfully unprofessional of him - to go visit a patient he had no relation to, but what was a single man with free time to do?

 

On the fifth day, he had gone to the recovery ward during his lunch break to check-up on the patient he definitely did not already visit that morning. As standard procedure, he had made sure no nurses were snooping around to catch him in the act before subtly opening the hospital room door just enough to peek inside. To his surprise, the tattooed man is out of bed and hastily throwing on the bloodied clothes he had been discovered in.

 

Without even thinking, Jin had stumbled inside, his mouth agape and his eyes wide. The silver-haired man had averted his gaze sharply in his direction, and Jin momentarily forgot to breathe. He had expected a verbal-lashing or a glare at the very least, but in hindsight he knows he had been too quick to pass judgement.

 

Against all expectations, his significant other had smiled. He had a heart-stopping grin that coaxed dimples at the edges, and his deep brown eyes spoke of a sad kindness that shouldn’t belong there. Jin had, admittedly, found it very charming.

 

“If it isn’t my personal stalker,” the man had joked. Jin’s face had gone up in flames. “It’s a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, Seokjin.”

 

Of course, it was only later Jin found out that he had known about his (mild) curiosity, and that the man had inquired about him to one of the nurses. Hence why he knew his name.

 

“Seokjin is my name, yes,” he had recovered quickly, smoothing over his tie like the true professional that he is. “But everyone calls me Jin.”

 

“Jin,” the silver-haired rouge had repeated, and Jin was immediately smitten for the deep timbre of his voice. “Nice to meet you,” he had said casually as he scrunching up his hospital gown and tossed it aside. He turns to him fully then, giving Jin a good look at the dried blood splattered all down the front of his tank top. “I’m Namjoon.”



Chapter Text

남준

 

II

 

Namjoon presses his forearm against the cool tiles of the shower wall, body hunched and forehead pressed lazily against his arm. The spray of steaming water streaks across the corded muscles of his broad shoulders and back. He closes his eyes and focuses on nothing but the soft patter of water as it hits his skin, casting all other thoughts out of his mind in an attempt to relax his tense body.

 

After a moment he rolls his shoulders, tilting his head back into the stream of water. Rivulets of liquid trail down his cheeks and drip from the tip of his nose.

 

It is hard for him, unwinding alone after a stressful day. For as long as he can remember, he has always sought out others when he needed to relax. He doesn’t know why, there is just something about the quiet presence of another that calms him. Whenever he had a test in primary school he would always spend that afternoon in the kitchen, just happily sitting there in silence and watching his mother prepare dinner.

 

His eyes snap open, head shaking slightly as if the physical movement that would force the memory to disappear.

 

He lifts his gaze, eyes drifting towards the black ink that adorns the expanse of his outstretched arm. His fingers curl into a fist against the wall, teeth clenching painfully as he stares at the swirling patterns and symbols, acting as a constant reminder of what has been and what will never be forgotten.

 

He remembers back to when he spoke to Jin about getting the tattoos removed, thinking that it would allow him to finally move on. But Jin, his beautiful Jin, had just smiled softly at him and gently held his arms as he whispered, “Removing them will not ease the burden you feel. They are a part of you, Namjoon, whether you like it or not. You don’t need to forget your past to move forward into the future. You only need to forgive and remember that no matter what, I will always be by your side.”

 

So he kept them, and of course there were bad days where he just wanted to claw the inky lines off of his skin, but Jin was always there to help him through it, reminding him that they were only remnants of past battles that he should wear with pride. Namjoon always chastised Jin when he says that, claiming that he stole that line from him. That being said, the majority of days are good ones, where Namjoon feels comfortable and confident and thinks positively about his future.

 

Today just isn’t one of them.

 

He sighs loudly, harsh breath echoing in the confines of the shower as he roughly presses down on the handle, abruptly shutting off the water. He has wasted enough time in here anyway and his body is still tense.

 

Steam swirls around the ceiling as he steps out, yanking his towel off the rack and dabbing at his body in quick, imprecise strokes before wrapping it loosely around his waist. His hand swipes across the clouded mirror, revealing his reflection. Strands of wet, silver hair are plastered to his forehead. Droplets of water are caught by his fluttering eyelashes as he stares at his reflection. The bright, warm light of the bathroom gives his tan skin a healthy-looking glow, illuminating his defined and muscular chest. He smiles at the contrast of his well-built reflection now compared to the one of his sixteen year old self, which was all gangly limbs and cheeks that were too big for his face.

 

His fingers press into the mirror, softly touching the puckered skin of his reflection’s shoulder. For all the shit he has done and the lives he has ruined, Namjoon sometimes wonders why, out of all people, he has been given a second chance at life? To him, it doesn’t make any sense, but what he does know is that he’s not going to waste one moment of it.

 

He pulls back from the mirror and runs a hand through his hair, pushing the wet strands into a semi-controlled shape before pushing away from the counter and strolling towards the door. He pauses when he notices a pair of fresh underwear, shirt, and track suit pants folded neatly and laid out on the counter by the door.

 

Namjoon smiles fondly to himself.

 

He never remembers to take in a change of clothes when he goes for a shower, but luckily for him, Jin never forgets. He must have snuck in when Namjoon was still in the shower. The smile remains on his face for the entire duration of getting dressed.

 

He forgoes the shirt and heads out of their bedroom, feet padding softly against the hardwood floor. He makes his way down the hall, movement faltering slightly at the blinding sunlight that streams through the floor to ceiling windows of Jin’s - or their - penthouse apartment. Jin’s back is to him when he finally enters the kitchen, the smell of bacon and eggs permeating the air and making his stomach grumble loudly.

 

He leans against the door frame and takes a moment to appreciate the view of Jin’s muscles under his loose bed shirt, broad shoulders rippling as he flips the eggs. He steps forward quietly and wraps an arm around Jin’s narrow waist, lips pressing against the side of his neck. Jin jumps slightly, surprised at Namjoon’s sudden appearance.

 

“Good morning, beautiful,” he mumbles softly into Jin’s ear, lightly nipping at his jaw. He’s tempted to suck a hickey into his lover’s skin but restrains himself, knowing the teasing Jin would get from his staff and parents at the hospital.

 

Jin beams a smile at him and turns to nuzzle into the side of Namjoon’s face. “Good morning. Did you sleep well?”

 

Namjoon leans back to allow Jin to tend to the food, shuffling over to the coffee maker. He pours himself a steaming cup of the dark liquid, not bothering with sugar before taking a sip. “Alright I guess. I had another dream, but they’re getting better, less intense.”

 

Jin furrows his eyebrows, placing the spatula on the kitchen counter. He walks over and cups Namjoon’s face between his delicate hands, his thumbs caressing the swells of Namjoon’s cheeks, lingering over the dips of his dimples. “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

Namjoon shakes his head, pressing a chaste kiss to Jin’s lips and tasting the lingering, sweet flavour of Jin’s coffee, who unlike Namjoon, prefers to load his with sugar. “Honestly, there is nothing to talk about. I’m fine and the bacon is burning.”

 

Jin’s eyes widen as he spins and rushes towards the crackling pan, trying to salvage their breakfast. Namjoon hugs his warm mug to his chest and leans against the counter, edge digging slightly into his hip. He knows better than to try and help; last time all he got was a slap with an oily spatula for his efforts, so he stands back and lets Jin handle the cooking. Jin says that it’s because Namjoon’s cooking skills are horrendous, but Namjoon suspects that Jin likes taking care of him. Well that, and his cooking skills are actually quite terrible.

 

They sit down at the dining table, fresh fruit salad and yoghurt already set out. Namjoon places his coffee down, mug clicking loudly as it comes into contact with the glass table top. He makes sure that his legs and feet are thoroughly tangled with Jin’s underneath the table before he begins to dig into his breakfast. They eat in a comfortable silence, gazes flickering up occasionally to stare into each other’s eyes like the love-sick birds they are.

 

It’s not until Namjoon finishes his meal that Jin speaks. “I got a call while you were in the shower.”

 

Namjoon cocks an eyebrow and takes a loud sip of his coffee, knowing that it irritates Jin. “Hmmm…?”

 

Jin sends his other half a playful glare and scrunches his nose before continuing. “They said that the painting will be finished today. So now all we need to do is go and pick out some furniture and you’re ready to go.”

 

Namjoon almost spits out his coffee in excitement, body thrumming with eagerness. “Seriously!? I thought they said it was going to be another week?”

 

Jin laughs at Namjoon’s excitement, reaching forward to grab the mug from his hands before he spills it everywhere. “I know, but apparently the painter had a cancellation so he was able to come in today.”

 

Namjoon springs up from his seat and rushes around table, pulling Jin out of his seat and enveloping him in a bone crushing hug. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening! Thank you so much for doing this for me Jin, I know how much it’s costing you.”

 

Jin snorts playfully, pulling his arms free from Namjoon’s tight grip and winding them around his neck. “Please, like I don’t already know that you only love me for my money.”


Namjoon smirks and presses his forehead against Jin’s, noses brushing lightly against each other. “And don’t you forget it.”

Chapter Text

태형

 

III

 

These fingerless gloves just aren’t working for him anymore. It’s well into autumn and the winds have started to take on a wintery chill. The sun doesn’t show itself all too often, and if it does, it’s not doing it’s job of warming the planet properly. Taehyung curses under his breath as he leaps out of another dumpster, shrugging off the bits of garbage determined to cling to his raggedy old jacket. He had managed to score some pizza crusts that hadn’t moulded over yet, but stiff pieces of bread could only do so much to settle his stomach. He’s still hungry, his tummy demanding a more substantial meal that the city dumpsters just aren’t willing to satisfy this afternoon.

 

He kicks an empty can of soup and watches it spiral up ahead, getting caught in a stray garbage bag dancing its way across the damp, concrete alleyway. Taehyung ventures closer to the street, peeking his head out and scanning the slums of Seoul’s poverty-stricken district in hopes of spotting a nearby restaurant. The back of restaurants are always a goldmine for scraps. It’s astounding what cooks will throw away, although around here he guesses it is significantly less than what he would find at the upper-end. People are quite stingy, even when he’s on his knees in the rain, a piece of cardboard in his hands begging for a few dollars.

 

He spies a Chinese restaurant he’s quite familiar with and figures he’ll give it a go, crossing the street without a care to the traffic. So what if he gets hit? It’s not like anyone is gonna miss him anyway.

 

The restaurant has a trashcan waiting out near the gutter, so filled to the brim with glorious trash that it’s basically spewing its contents onto the sidewalk. He practically throws the tin lid to the gutter before ripping open the plastic bags like a sewer rat to cheese, careless to the bits of discarded plastics raining down upon his feet. He’s so preoccupied that he almost doesn’t hear the car pull up near him, but he’s definitely attentive to the loud, exasperating honking that dares to disturbs his scavenging.

 

“For fuck’s sake,” he growls, snapping his head to the side with a string of profanities tingling at the tip of his tongue. He doesn’t verbally go off though, the fire in his gut fizzling and dying once he realises who is behind the wheel, smirking amusedly at him.

 

The window rolls down and Jin pops his head out the window. “Oi!” he calls. “Get in!”

 

Taehyung feigns innocent confusion, looking behind him as if it wasn’t totally obvious who the man was talking to. “I’m sorry Mister, I don’t get into cars with strangers.”

 

“Don’t be an asshole,” Jin rolls his eyes. Taehyung grins before throwing down the garbage bag in his hands and sauntering over to the passenger seat of the sleek, black audi. He hops in, throwing his feet up on the dashboard and getting comfortable against the leather seat. It’s nice and warm in the fancy-pants car, as expected.

 

“Going to take me back to your place to have your wicked way with me, Mr. Grey?” he teases cheekily, and all the older man does is cock an eyebrow at him.

 

“Hilarious,” Jin rolls his eyes as he pulls away from the curb. “I’ve always had a thing for insufferable brats.”

 

“Ya! I’m not a brat!”

 

“Could’ve fooled me,” Jin smirks. The asshole doesn’t even take his eyes off the road. Taehyung crosses his arms over his chest and pulls a pout, evidently unimpressed.

 

“What the hell do you want, hyung? I was just about to score some pretty good leftovers back there - I could feel it.” The heater emitting from the dashboard softly caresses his greasy hair. It’s a luxury he tells himself not to get used to.

 

Jin’s eyes soften. “Thought I’d buy you lunch. How does McDonald's sound?”

 

“Oh hyung,” Taehyung sighs dramatically, draping an arm around Jin’s broad shoulders and nuzzling into his bicep, “where would I be without your generosity?”

 

“Probably ten-feet under by now,” Jin teases. Taehyung growls and slaps him none-too-gently on the arm. “Oi! Not while I’m driving dammit!”

 

“Please. I didn’t even hit you that hard.”

 

“You’re stronger than you think, brat.”

 

“Sorry hyung, I forgot Namjoon wears the pants in your relationship.”

 

“If you keep at it I won’t get you dessert,” Jin singsongs evilly.

 

“But hyung,” Taehyung whines, pulling a rather hideous expression, his nostril flared and his bottom lip pulled down to his chin, “you know McFlurries are the highlight of our fast food trips!”

 

Jin sighs, running a hand through his immaculate brown tassels. “I suppose I can’t resist spoiling you.”

 

They arrive at the drive thru and Taehyung orders about half the menu. Jin gets a sundae. He parks in the carpark and rolls down the windows, praying that the drive thru smell doesn’t impregnate his leather seats. Taehyung turns up the radio as he tears through a Big Mac, the mayonnaise getting onto his fingers and clothes.

 

“Don’t get sauce on the seats,” Jin reminds sternly. Taehyung rolls his eyes exaggeratedly.

 

“Hyung, when have I ever?”

 

The wealthy business man pins him with an accusative look.

 

“Okay, okay,” Taehyung relents. “I promise not to this time.”

 

Jin nods in satisfaction before shifting in his seat to fully face Taehyung, looking a little silly sitting indian style in his pricy suit. Not that Jin has ever been a stereotypical rich boy, but Taehyung finds it amusing nonetheless. He’s pulling that face he always makes when he’s about to ask a serious question, and Taehyung mentally prepares himself as he works through his second burger.

 

“You know winter is approaching, right?” Jin starts, and Taehyung mentally rolls his eyes. Of course he’s going to mention that. Why wouldn’t he? “Don’t pull that face Taehyung, winter here is no joke. You could get frostbite or die from exposure.”

 

“You think I don’t know that? I lived through the past four winters out on the streets, haven’t I? Trust me hyung, I know what I’m doing.” Taehyung gets a little defensive, it’s painfully clear in the volume of his snappy voice.

 

“At least stay with us for the winter,” Jin persists. Taehyung opens his mouth to immediately decline, but Jin continues, “Three months. That’s it. When the snow stops and the temperature gets warmer again you’re more than welcome to leave, but please - I want to make sure you’re safe this winter.”

 

“Hyung,” Taehyung sighs. He knew he wasn’t going to get a free meal without some sort of bargain. “I’ll be fine. I’ll go stay at a shelter this winter, okay? I do it every year. I’ll have a roof over my head and blankets to keep me warm.”

 

“Why do you have to be so difficult?” Jin frowns, looking perhaps a little bit offended. “At my place you’ll have your own room - the floors and walls are insulated so you won’t even be able to tell it’s winter. We can feed you and clothe you, I just - I’m having a hard time understanding why you won’t let us help you, Taehyung. You’re like a brother to us… All we want is to protect you.”

 

Taehyung stares into Jin’s desperate eyes and his heart clenches. It’s true. Jin and Namjoon are like his family - which is more than what could be said about his actual family. The look of sorrow almost makes him want to give in, to finally relent to the man’s ceaseless pleas. But he can’t. It wouldn’t be right. Not when Jin and Namjoon have finally settled into their happy little household as an official couple. Taehyung couldn’t ruin that. He’d be a nuisance - despite what Jin and Namjoon may say otherwise. He’ll feel like a nuisance, like he’ll constantly be owing the couple every scrap of nothingness he has to offer, and he just doesn’t think he could live with that hanging over his head.

 

He could accept the occasional hot meal - a man’s gotta eat after all, but to take him in and disrupt the peace of their household? It’d be absurd.

 

“Hyung…” he shakes his head, wrapping up his half-eaten burger and stuffing it back into the brown paper bag. He’ll save it for later. “It’s not that I don’t want to live with you guys - I’d want nothing more than that, really, but I just wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt of mooching off of you two. You work hard for your money, hyung, I know that. Namjoon has just started up his own business and you’re always at the hospital, everything is finally going smoothly for you guys. And I know - I know you’re going to say I won’t be a burden, hyung, but I’ll feel like one, regardless of what you say… so just let me make my own way, okay hyung? I’m smart. I’ll figure something out eventually.”

 

He smiles reassuringly, and Jin tries to mirror the gesture, albeit miserably. The older shakes his head, chuckling defeatedly. “I guess I’ve failed to convince you once again, eh? I wonder what it will take for you to finally cave.” Jin sounds less serious now, and it relieves some of the tension in the air. Taehyung is inwardly thankful.

 

He cracks a box grin, his eyes folding into cheeky crescents. “I’d have to be pretty desperate to want to live with you two lovebirds. Watching you two together is disgusting.”

 

Jin chuckles, shaking his head. “Wait until you’re in love, Tae. You’ll be exactly the same.”

 

Taehyung snorts, rolling his eyes. “I seriously doubt it.”

 

Jin just shifts back into a proper sitting position, a knowing smile plastered on his plump lips. It irks Taehyung, but he refuses to show it.

 

 

Chapter Text

정국

 

IV

 

The morning sunshine gleams off the tap as he leans over the sink, fingers gently coiled. He watches the water escape down the sink and makes a point of avoiding his faint reflection in the window overlooking the city streets below. The glass of water hadn’t done much to settle his stomach, which has been coiled since last night. He’s determined to ignore the reason behind this feeling - why he’s feeling so ill, but in a nonclinical sense. It’s nauseating, but he doesn’t need to throw up. It’s somewhere between guilt and bitterness, but he can’t decide which feeling is more powerful than the other.

 

He thought he could sleep it off, he thought he could wake up this morning and forget about what happened, yet it’s still determined to linger. Maybe it’s because he didn’t get much sleep at all last night. Maybe it’s because he lay wide awake, staring blankly at the ceiling while his boyfriend lay next to him, sleeping like a baby.

 

He doesn’t hear the front door open, but he hears it close, flinching him out of his thoughts. He bites down on his bottom lip and squeezes his eyes shut, focusing on controlling his breathing. Footsteps thud heavily into the kitchen, immediately heading in his direction.

 

His joints grow cold and stiff.

 

He presses his palms against the counter, forcing his limbs to stop from trembling. Ignore the doubt. Ignore the fear. Ignore it.

 

Lips brush against his ear.

 

“Jungkookie,” Yukwon whispers tenderly, and he tries to relax. He doesn’t sound mad. “Baby,” he croons.

 

Jungkook’s shoulders slowly start to sag. He sees Yukwon’s arm come into his peripheral, his arm sleeve tattoo contrasting against his pale skin, the roman numerals counting his thumb and fingers. The ink is so sinister in comparison to the beautiful bouquet of flowers placed on the counter. He forces a smile that he knows is painfully strained, but it’s unlikely Yukwon can read his expression from this angle.

 

“Tulips!” he exclaims weakly, trying to conjure as much merry surprise as his mood permits.

 

“You’re favourite,” his boyfriend clarifies as he nuzzles into the side of Jungkook’s neck.

 

He’ll probably never have the courage to confess that tulips aren’t his favourite flower. In fact - he can’t stand the colour yellow. It’s blinding and harsh to look at and it reminds him of bananas - gross.

 

“You shouldn’t have,” he says modestly, staring down at the sink. He feels Yukwon wrap his arms around his waist and they feel so strong and safe; it’s fucking with his better judgement.

 

“It’s just a little compensation for what happened last night.” Jungkook stiffens, inclining his head away from the lips that nibble at his sensitive skin. He feels tears prick at the corners of his eyes and he swallows, pretending that his stomach didn’t just twist nastily.

 

“I’d rather not talk about it,” he replies softly.

 

“Fine by me.” Yukwon sounds too casual, like last night’s events were about as mundane as a change in the weather.

 

He peppers a few lazy kisses down the column of Jungkook’s neck, almost apologetically, but somehow the teen knows his boyfriend is mocking him. He steps away and Jungkook feels like he can breathe again, if only slightly. Yukwon turns away, but not before giving the boy’s bottom a few good-natured taps. “Make me some coffee, will you?”

 

Jungkook looks over his shoulder just in time to catch Yukwon disappearing into the lounge room, where he’s likely going to watch television. He knows his boyfriend doesn’t need a reply, because he’ll do anything Yukwon says. If he was told to transcend into the fiery pits of Hell itself, even if the bells of Heaven were calling to him, he wouldn’t think twice about his choice. He can’t disobey Yukwon. Doing as he’s told has become a natural dynamic in their household, and the way Jungkook sees it, the more compliant he is, the more merciful Yukwon will be.

 

He prepares the coffee - a smidgen of milk with two sugars, medium temperature, just like it’s always been. He shuffles into the lounge room where Yukwon is relaxed into the cushions, his arms resting along the back with his legs crossed on the coffee table. He’s watching television, as Jungkook had suspected, a comedy variety show that has been at the pinnacle of the Korean entertainment industry for years, mostly because they never fail to produce new and hilarious material. Yukwon laughs at something one of the comedians says, and Jungkook absently admires how handsome his laugh is. He doesn’t hear it often enough. Jungkook isn’t the funny type, so he never bothers to try and crack a joke around his boyfriend. Rejection or belittlement is a likely outcome, so he keeps his sense of humour to himself.

 

Yukwon sees his approach but doesn’t move, eyes still glued to the television screen. Jungkook says nothing, humbly dropping to his knees and snatching up a coaster to place the coffee at Yukwon’s feet. He moves to turn away when Yukwon’s voice cuts in. “Where are you going?”

 

Jungkook snaps his head up, eyes wide, his heart jumping into his throat. “I wanted to go shower. Is there anything else you need?” He replies a little too quickly, and he inwardly cringes at how suspicious he sounds. He is only speaking the truth.

 

“Sit with me,” Yukwon says, and it almost sounds like a request, but Jungkook knows better.

 

He sits himself down next to Yukwon and lets the arm snaked around his waist pull him closer. He rests his head on Yukwon’s chest hesitantly, his hand on the man’s taut solar plexus. He wants to relax, he wants to calm down and get comfortable, but he’s tense and uncertain. If his boyfriend notices it, he doesn’t say anything, because he continues to watch the program with hyped enthusiasm. Jungkook doesn’t pay attention, sitting there for a full hour and thinking about how wonderful it would be to shower.

 

Yukwon forgets about the coffee. By the time the program ends, it’s gone cold.

 

“May I go shower now?” he asks in a small voice. Yukwon hums indulgently in contemplation, casting his eyes to the ceiling.

 

“Yes, but only after you clean the sheets first.”

 

“The sheets,” Jungkook echos, his stomach dropping. He can feel Yukwon staring at him, daring him to say something audacious, but Jungkook has been doing this for far too long to be careless. He nods, pressing a fleeting kiss to his boyfriend’s jaw before getting up. “I’ll do that now then.”

 

Yukwon nods in approval. “Oh - and while you’re up, dump the coffee in the sink. It’s cold.” At least he isn’t asking him to make another one.

 

Jungkook does as he’s instructed - though he washes and dries the mug before putting it away in the cupboard. He knows better than to leave it in the sink.

 

The bedroom is a little messy. He knows Yukwon will give him hell for it after he’s done showering, but he’s too exhausted to care. He throws off the doona and starts gathering up the sheets. A shudder passes through him as his eyes flicker over the tiny specks of blood contrasting alarmingly against the white fabric.

 

His blood.

 

Last night had been particularly ugly, but he’s endured worse.

 

He throws the tainted bedspread in the washing machine before fetching fresh sheets from the linen closet. After re-doing the bed to hotel-standards and cleaning up a bit around the room, he seizes a towel from the drying rack. He avoids the lounge room on his way to the bathroom, conscious that Yukwon might ask him to do something else before his long anticipated shower. When his feet make contact with the cool tiles he sighs with relief, dumping the towel on the counter and locking the door behind him. He shimmies out of his clothes, neatly folding them and placing them atop the toilet seat lid.

 

He avoids the mirror.

 

He doesn’t need to see himself. Not when he can feel the bruises pulsing on the surface of his skin, aching with every movement, black and violent blue. He can feel them on his neck, his shoulders, his arms and his wrists; his thighs and his hips.

 

It really was a terrible night last night.

 

He had been foolish. What had he been thinking? He should’ve known better than to go next door to borrow some rice from their neighbours, especially when one of them is a handsome businessman in his early thirties. Yukwon had been livid with jealousy. He had even had the audacity to yell at him in front of their neighbour, who looked about ready to slam the door and bolt himself inside.

 

Jungkook, regretfully, hadn’t been given the chance to even apologise to their neighbour before he was dragged back into their apartment. Yukwon has always been fiercely jealous. He can’t even leave the house without being escorted - and talking to strangers, especially men, is out of the question. But what was he to do? If he doesn’t have dinner ready by seven, Yukwon gets angry, and he didn’t have time to wait for his boyfriend to get home then go to the grocery store to buy more rice. Either way, Jungkook was going to get in trouble. He just hadn’t expected his boyfriend to catch him outside the apartment, talking with the neighbour.

 

The downpour of water is smoldering hot. He keeps his head down to avoid hurting his eye. The swelling is starting to lessen, but it’s still unbelievably tender. His bruised skin screams at him in protest, but he vehemently ignores it, closing his eyes and embracing the scalding heat that embraces him. This way he doesn’t have to think or ponder what happened.


This way, Jungkook can simply pretend.

Chapter Text

호석

 

V

 

Bloody hell, I should have worn earmuffs,’ Namjoon thinks to himself, one hundred percent sure that his poor ears are going to fall off. It isn’t even winter yet and there are already days of frosty winds and iced grass.

 

Namjoon hates winter, he much prefers the sweltering heat of summer, where he and Jin just lie down on the cool tiles of their apartment and whine about how hot it is even with air conditioning. It didn’t seem that cold when he’d left the apartment, but as soon as he turned onto the main street he realised what a terrible mistake he had made.

 

Namjoon zips his jacket up to his chin, tucking his gloveless hands into his armpits to try and conserve heat. The pavement is wet from rain the night before, puddles lurking around every corner, and because of Namjoon’s famous luck, of course he steps in one. Now he’s sulking aloud and stomping towards the cafe with soaked sneakers. Jin would laugh if he could see him now, just rubbing in the fact that Namjoon has the worst of luck.

 

A trail of steamy breath follows him as he nears the small café he’d asked Hoseok to meet him at. The front window is almost completely fogged up from the amount of people trying to escape the chilly wind. Namjoon slips inside quickly, body rejoicing at the sudden rush of warmth inside the café. He wipes his feet on the welcome mat, not that it’s going to help, seeing as the entirety of the shoes are soaked. He rubs his arms as he scans the café for his friend, looking for the scraggly mop of hair amongst the sea of people.

 

In the far right corner he sees a solitary figure sitting at a booth, back facing him. As Namjoon carefully manoeuvres around other patrons and moves closer, he sees the figure is hunched over a steaming mug, tapping on the floating marshmallows that are bobbing in the liquid.

 

“Extra marshmallows, that’s daring. I thought you told me that you’d gotten your sweet tooth cravings under wraps.” Namjoon jokes as he comes up to Hoseok’s table.

 

Hoseok snorts loudly, popping a marshmallow into his mouth before standing and enveloping Namjoon in a tight hug. “You’re hilarious, you judgemental ass. It’s nice to see you too.”

 

Namjoon slips into the seat opposite Hoseok just as a waiter brings over a small short black.

 

Namjoon arches an eyebrow at Hoseok, bringing the small cup to his nose. “Double strength?”

 

Hoseok nods, wrapping his fingers tightly around his mug. “Bitter as shit. Just the way you like it.”

 

Namjoon hums in delight as he sips his coffee, enjoying the strong flavour. They sit in silence for a little while, enjoying each other’s company and basking in the nice ambiance of the quirky café. Namjoon glances up just as Hoseok puts down his cup, upper lip covered in foam from his drink.

 

Namjoon smirks, leaning across the table to wrap his hand around the back of Hoseok’s neck and pulling him close. “You seem to have something on your face. Let me just kiss it off.”

 

Hoseok barks out a laugh, shoving his moronic friend away as he licks his upper lip. “You’re a dick.”

 

Namjoon’s face lights up in a smile, tucking his hand under his chin and tries his best aegyo act. “But you love me anyways.”

 

Hoseok just laughs at his friend’s antics, fingers dancing along the rim of the mug. “I’ve missed this, you know? You’re the only one I can be like this with.”

 

Namjoon’s features soften to a less comical expression, fingers fiddling with the spare sugar sachets. “I’m only a phone call away. You know that. Even if you call and I’m busy, you can always go and annoy the crap out of Jin. He’s been missing you as well.”

 

Hoseok nods languidly, fingers tightening on the handle of his mug as he avoids Namjoon’s gaze. “I’ve just had some stuff going on. Been busy and all that jazz.”

 

Namjoon furrows his brow at the vagueness of Hoseok’s words, setting off alarms in his mind. His eyes narrow, focusing and analysing one Jung Hoseok. His bangs are sitting limply against his forehead, now at a length that covers his eyebrows and dangle into his line of sight. The warm chestnut hair that he usually takes pride in sits unstyled and lifeless on his head. Deep set, bruise-like circles sit underneath his bloodshot eyes, which are darting around at high speed. His lips are dry and cracked, masked slightly by the hot chocolate he has been drinking. The shoulder of his cardigan is sitting askew, revealing the hole-riddled shirt underneath.

 

But the sign that tips the scales is the small tremors that rack Hoseoks body. The slight shakiness to all of his movements. If you aren’t looking for it, it’s easy to miss, but for Namjoon it’s a sign he knows all too well.

 

There is no doubt. Jung Hoseok is using again.

 

Namjoon’s hands clench against the table, knuckles turning white. He glances around the packed café and decides on his next move. Last time Hoseok had turned up high and Namjoon had confronted him about it, he and Jin had to pay for property damage at the restaurant they were having dinner at. Plus a couple of small assaults where Jin managed to sweet talk the victims into not pressing charges.

 

‘It’s way too busy here,’ Namjoon thinks to himself, not prepared to handle another clean up alone.

 

Namjoon reaches across and stills Hoseok’s trembling fingers on the edge of his mug. “Hobi, are you okay?”

 

Hoseok bites down on his tongue, copper taste of blood flooding his mouth as he thinks to himself, ‘Fuck, he’s noticed. Fuck fuck fuck.’

 

He jerks his head in a nod, still not able to look Namjoon in the eyes. He doesn’t even know why he came today. He should have said no when Namjoon called and ask to set the date for next week. That way he would have had the opportunity to stay off his regular dosage and appear clean. But he really had wanted to see Namjoon, he was craving it. They hadn’t seen each other in months and Hoseok just really wanted to sit with his best friend for a while and forget about the world.

 

His eyes flicker up to see Namjoon’s unwavering stare before shooting away again, unable to meet Namjoon’s eyes. “It’s been...rough. I don’t know. I’m trying to work past it though. Just leave it alone. How about you? What’s new in the life of Kim Namjoon?”

 

Namjoon leans back in his seat, eyes narrowed at the sudden subject change, but lets it go this time. “My office is finally finished. Jin and I went to put in the finishing touches on the weekend. I officially have a business.”

 

Hoseok’s eyes dart up, giving his friend a congratulatory look and patting his hand supportively. “That’s amazing, Namjoon. I’m so happy for you.”

 

Namjoon nods absentmindedly, fingers tapping restlessly against the table. “Things are finally starting to look up, you know? I feel like I can finally move on. I was talking to Jin the other day about selling the gas station. I think I’m ready.”

 

Hoseok tenses, brows furrowing and eyes drifting away again. “The gas station? Why would you sell it? I mean Zi-...” He barely has time to catch himself, almost letting it slip.

 

Namjoon arches a questioning eyebrow, confused at Hoseok’s reaction. “What about it?”

 

Hoseok closes his eyes, exhaling deeply and thinking over his words carefully. “Nothing, it’s just…what good would selling it do? That place is important to you.”  

 

Namjoon inhales sharply through his nose, teeth worrying softly at his bottom lip. “There’s nothing left for me there, Hoseok. I don’t need it to remember them and I certainly don’t need it to remind me about all the shit I did there either.”

 

Hoseok gives a slight nod, not knowing what to say without tipping Namjoon off. “Well okay. If you’re sure. Just make sure you’ve thought it through.”

 

Namjoon offers Hoseok a beaming smile, nudging him fondly underneath the table with his foot. “I’ll take your advice under consideration, oh wise one.”

 

Hoseok snorts, downing the remainder of his now cool hot chocolate. “Of course you should. I’m a fucking genius.”

 

A loud chime comes from Namjoon’s pocket indicating a text message. He fishes the phone awkwardly out of his jean pocket, offering Hoseok a quick apology at the interruption.

 

Namjoon’s face lights up in a smile as he scans the text message. Hoseok doesn’t know if he wants to stare fondly at his lovesick friend or throw up at how cutesy he’s being.

 

“Jin wants to know if you’re free next Saturday for lunch. He wants to have a little gathering at the apartment to celebrate the opening of my business.”

 

Hoseok narrows his eyes suspiciously, waiting for the catch. “A little gathering? So you, me, Jin, and…?”

 

Namjoon shoves playfully at Hoseok’s shoulder, thinking about how similar Yoongi and Hoseok are, being anti-social shits. “It’ll be fine. It’s just some of Jin’s closest friends. They’re really nice. They won’t bite, I promise.”

 

Hoseok hums, not believing Namjoon for a second, but agrees nonetheless. “Fine, I’ll come. But if I don’t like them I’m going to hit you, Namjoonie.”

 

Namjoon just offers his friend a toothy grin before calling the waiter over to order another diabetic hot chocolate as a thank you.

 

Namjoon glances over at Hoseok, who is once again playing with the floating marshmallows in his drink and can’t help but think, ‘I’m going to need to keep a closer eye on him.’

 

 

Chapter Text

지민 & 윤기

 

VI

 

Jimin has never had much in his life. When asked what he has to his name, he always has the same answer. The basic essentials. He’s not complaining though, he would never complain because he knows that others have it a lot worse than him.

 

From a young age his parents had begun to teach him the true value of money, and he remembers seeing it time and time again whenever he so much as looked at his parents. Working sunrise to sunset, and often working overtime every day to ensure they would have enough money to feed and house Jimin and his sick younger sister.

 

They are working class people, doing what they can in an elitist society to ensure that their children don’t have to undergo the hardships that they do, to ensure that their children can work and live comfortably.

 

Jimin holds a tremendous amount of respect for his parents and isn’t afraid to admit it. They are honestly the best parents anyone could ask for, always having time for Jimin when he’s feeling down, and forcing him to come over for dinner every Friday with Yoongi to catch up. They are the reason Jimin never takes anything for granted, the reason why he loves his shitty little apartment in downtown Seoul. It may not be much, but he has worked hard to support himself financially and have something to call his own. All those hours spent at shitty restaurant and customer service jobs were all worth it for the proud smiles he received from his parents when he told them he was moving out.

 

A shrill beeping noise jolts Jimin from his thoughts, his vision slightly blurred as his eyes refocus on the stir-fry in front of him. His grip on the pan handle tightens, expertly flipping the food around like a chef.

 

Jin, his fake second mother, had taught him how to cook when he was younger to make sure he was eating properly and not ramen for every meal, which he no doubt would have been doing otherwise. His actual mother had tried to teach him once, but he could never sit still enough to learn, always trying to drag her outside to play with him at the small park around the corner from their home.

 

He smiles to himself over the fond memories, mind drifting away once again.

 

The sound of crackling oil and hissing steam echo in the small kitchen, getting louder as time passes. Jimin adds the sauce to the pan and steps back, leaning against the kitchen counter as he lets the stir-fry to simmer. His gaze wanders around his small kitchen, eyes squinting slightly at the harsh sterile glow emitted by the single white fluorescent bulb that hangs crookedly from the ceiling. Jimin tilts his head in thought, adding the light to the endless list of things he needs to fix. Maybe he could mooch off of Namjoon’s new carpentry business and get some pro bono jobs done.

 

I’m sure Namjoon would love that,’ he thinks to himself with a laugh. Jimin doesn’t even know why Namjoon decided to become a carpenter. He breaks more things than he fixes, but each to their own he supposes.

 

His gaze wanders, skimming over the peeling wallpaper and cracked tiles to the lounge room, which he can see a sliver of through the narrow doorway. The dark blue sofa that they found on the side of the road takes up most of the room, only allowing a small amount of space for a television and some bean bags for when they have people over for a movie. A sad-looking potted plant sits on the small side table next to the sofa, leaves drooping slightly because Yoongi keeps forgetting to water the poor thing.

 

A small glint of light shines into Jimin’s eyes from besides the plant, drawing his attention. He squints slightly, trying to figure out what this new addition is. After making sure their dinner was alright on simmer, Jimin shuffles into the lounge room and towards the little table.

 

It is a sleek photo frame. Min Yoongi, the cheeky devil, has framed Jimin’s university degree without telling him. His fingers trail gently along the glass, travelling over his name. He can’t believe that it had only been a month ago that he’d completed his degree in business management and graduated. The whole experience had been so surreal, most likely because it was doused in tears. Tears from his family, from him, and even from Yoongi, though if you ask him about it now he’ll vehemently deny it.

 

Thin arms weave their way around his stomach, pulling Jimin into an embrace. A soft breath caresses the back of his neck as a cold nose nuzzles into the exposed skin of his shoulder. Jimin reaches down and tangles his tan fingers with the pale ones clenched in the fabric of his shirt, smirking at the colour difference.

 

“It wasn’t here last night. When did you do this?” Jimin asks, head leaning back and resting on Yoongi’s sharp shoulder.

 

Yoongi presses a soft kiss to his jaw, hold tightening around Jimin. “This morning, after you left for work. I wanted it to be a surprise and congratulations for your first day on the job.”

 

Jimin smiles, tears welling up at the thoughtful gesture. He turns around, not disrupting Yoongi’s hold, and presses his lips against Yoongi’s in a deep kiss. “You didn’t have to, but thank you.”

 

Yoongi smirks lazily, leaning in for another kiss. “You know how fucking proud I am of you right, Jiminnie? I just wanted to make sure that the world can see that I’m in a relationship with a genius. There’s no point keeping the certificate in your drawer, now is there?”

 

A faint blush creeps across Jimin’s cheeks at the compliments. He leans back to look at Yoongi, smile slipping from his face when he notices the dark circles underneath Yoongi’s eyes.

 

His thumbs lightly caress over the swell of Yoongi’s pale cheeks, noting the sickly tinge of his skin. “Have you eaten today?”

 

Yoongi jerks back slightly, away from Jimin’s soft touch. “I had breakfast. Don’t worry about me.”

 

Jimin’s expression drops, a frown now marring his features as he reaches out. “Yoongi…”

 

Yoongi flinches and turns toward the kitchen, soft voice barely audible. “I’m fine. Just leave it, please?”

 

Jimin sighs loudly, fingers tangling stressfully in his hair. He hates it when Yoongi is like this, distant and elusive, it pains him to his core. He cautiously shuffles into the kitchen, careful not to bump into Yoongi, who is standing in the doorway sipping on a glass of water. The silence between them is awkward, all words and questions lost in the tense atmosphere. Jimin shoves his shirt sleeves to his elbows, regretting not changing out of them before preparing dinner. He had been so excited about his first day at work that he had forgotten.

 

His grip on the spatula tightens as he prepares to speak. He clears his throat softly, noise cutting through the dense silence. “Dinner is ready.”

 

Yoongi doesn’t say anything, only moves to set up their wobbly dining table with cutlery. Jimin remains in the kitchen, body rigid as he distributes the serves of steamed rice and stir-fry. Yoongi is sitting at the table when he brings the food, absentmindedly twirling his chopsticks around.

 

Jimin tries to be light with his voice in an attempt not to startle Yoongi as he places a plate in front of him. “I made pork bulgogi, your favourite.”

 

Yoongi mumbles out a soft “thank you” before nudging the food around on his plate, still not making eye contact with Jimin.

 

Jimin eats slowly and quietly, savouring the spicy flavour of pork. He pauses a couple of times, mouth opening and closing, trying to find words.

 

Yoongi sighs after Jimin’s fifth pause, bringing a small piece of pork to his mouth. “What is it Jimin?”

 

Jimin offers him a weak smile, slightly stunned that he’d been caught. “Uhm. Well…Namjoon and Jin called me during my lunch break today and asked if we wanted to go to theirs for lunch this weekend. I said I’d ask and get back to them.”

 

Yoongi furrows his brows in confusion. Namjoon and Jin are like their brothers so he doesn’t know why Jimin needed to confirm. “Of course we can go. Why do you need to ask me?”

 

Jimin chews on his bottom lip nervously, looking up into Yoongi’s puzzled eyes. “Because it’s not going to be just us. Namjoon wanted to introduce a friend of his.”

 

Yoongi freezes, chopsticks hovering at the edge of his plate. “Jiminnie, you know I don’t like meeting new people. You know how anxious I can get sometimes.”

 

Jimin wets his bottom lip, looking back down at his food. “Of course I know. But I thought it would be nice, you know? Go out and socialize a bit. Jin tells me that Hoseok is a good guy and you know how Jin is with people.”

 

Yoongi snorts and rolls his eyes dramatically, chopsticks digging around in his food again. “That’s not saying anything. Jin likes everyone.”

 

Jimin smiles at the description of their friend, not being able to find fault in his statement. “Okay, so he does like everyone, but he doesn’t speak highly of someone unless they’ve earned it. Remember how he spoke highly of you to Namjoon when they started dating?”

 

Yoongi lets out another critical laugh, eyes crinkling as he smiles. “Which is why I don’t trust his judgement.”

 

Jimin playfully slaps Yoongi in the arm. “Stop it. You’re amazing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, beautiful.”

 

Jimin curses to himself as he watches Yoongi’s expression fall, an awkward silence settling over them once again.

 

“Hey…”

 

Yoongi pushes his chair back, legs squealing loudly as they scrape along the tiled floor. He speaks softly, body already turned and inching towards the hallway. “Tell Jin and Namjoon, yes, but I’m only doing this once and if I don’t like him I’m going to leave.”

 

Jimin swallows the lump of food in his mouth and croaks out a small “Okay.”

 

Jimin mentally chastises himself. ‘Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why did I have to say that?

 

He tears his gaze away from Yoongi’s retreating form and glances down at the table, noticing Yoongi’s barely touched food.

 

Jimin blinks, whipping his gaze back up to see Yoongi just about to round the corner. “Yoongi!”

 

Yoongi pauses, hand gripping the doorframe as he glances over his shoulder at Jimin.

 

Jimin softly gestures at Yoongi’s full plate. “Your dinner?”

 

Yoongi offers Jimin a small smile. “I’m not hungry.”

 

Jimin glares at the table cloth as he listens to Yoongi’s light footsteps down the short hallway, not moving until he hears the loud click of their bedroom door.

 

He leans back in his chair, chopsticks falling off the edge of his plate and lying haphazardly on the table, white table cloth now stained with lines of chilli sauce.

 

Jimin carries both plates back into the kitchen, scraping the bulgogi into leftover-containers and stacking them in the fridge.   

 

Pork bulgogi is also one of Jimin’s favourite foods, but tonight it has only left a lingering taste of ash in his mouth.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

 

The sun sits high in the cloudless sky, golden rays sweeping over the calm and relatively empty streets of Seoul. People are no doubt at home enjoying the luxury of sleeping in on the weekend, or perhaps nursing a hangover from the wild night before. But unfortunately, and much to Namjoon’s disdain, the Kim household is doing neither.

 

“I swear to god, Jin. Sit the fuck down,” Namjoon groans, head lying limply on the armrest of the couch as he watches Jin, dressed in an apron and wielding a feather duster, dart around the lounge room for the thousandth time today.

 

His other half has been panicking since the moment they awoke, cleaning, cooking, and smacking Namjoon away when he tries to help.

 

“They’re going to be here in ten minutes Namjoon, and I haven’t even polished the windows yet!” Jin blurts out in a breath, words only barely comprehensible as he dusts frantically at the coffee table.

 

Namjoon blinks repeatedly, staring at the ceiling and contemplating tying the stressed man down before he wears a line into the expensive carpet from the amount of running around he’s doing.

 

‘Who even polishes windows?’ Namjoon didn’t even know that was a thing. He for one, has certainly never done it before.

 

Namjoon waits patiently for the next time Jin rushes past the couch and shoots out an arm, grabbing onto Jin’s wrist and pulling him onto the couch. He wraps his legs around a flustered Jin’s waist and traps him to his chest.

 

Jin wriggles, trying to escape Namjoon’s vice-like grip. “Namjoonie, let me go or I swear to god…”

 

Namjoon smirks and peppers Jin’s face with gentle kisses, enunciating each word between each kiss. “What. Are. You. Going. To. Do. About. It?”

 

“I’ll…I’ll,” Jin begins to protest lightly, but gets distracted by Namjoon’s lips, which are brushing lightly at his jaw.

 

Namjoon leans back in victory, eyebrow arched and mouth twisted up in a grin. “Hmmm… What was that, Seokjin? I couldn’t quite hear you.”

 

Jin huffs out an annoyed breath, but inches forward in an attempt to catch Namjoon’s lips in a kiss. The other just leans further out of reach despite Jin’s protesting groan, and slips a hand down to squeeze the curve of Jin’s ass, making him jump. Scarlet streaks across Jin’s cheeks, wantonly arching back into the touch.

 

The feather duster slips from his grip and thuds softly as it falls off the couch and onto the fluffy carpet, the notion of cleaning now entirely forgotten. Namjoon unwraps one of his arms and gently cups Jin’s face, tilting his face and finally pressing a kiss to his waiting lips. The couple stay there for what feels like hours, languidly kissing and pawing at each other.

 

It’s not until the doorbell rings that they both remember that they actually have guests coming over. Jin falls off the edge of the couch in a stunned panic, landing painfully on the abandoned feather duster. He jumps up and rushes towards the front door, the doorbell ringing nonstop.

 

He flings the door open to a beaming Jimin and a disgruntled Yoongi, who has his finger pressed firmly on the doorbell button. Yoongi pulls his hand away and arches an eyebrow at Jin’s appearance, tousled hair and swollen lips, an appearance that Namjoon is undoubtedly sharing at the moment.

 

“Seriously, you couldn’t wait until after we left to jump each other?”

 

Jin’s blush deepens as Yoongi breezes past him, hand linked with Jimin’s, whom hasn’t yet noticed Jin’s state and skips happily past, singing a quick, “Hello hyung.”

 

As predicted, Namjoon is sitting on the couch when they enter, cushion placed suspiciously in his lap.

 

Yoongi smirks and crosses his arms, nodding at Namjoon. “You know it’s disrespectful to greet your guests while sitting down.”

 

Namjoon glares at the pale pain in his ass. “Ha ha. You’re hilarious. You know why I can’t get up.”

 

Yoongi smirks, eyebrows wiggling suggestively. “Oh please. It seems like you’re not having any trouble getting it up.”

 

Jimin, still seemingly out of the loop, rushes over and presses his hand to Namjoon’s forehead. “Why can’t you get up? Are you sick?”

 

Yoongi barks out a laugh, chest rumbling fondly as he lightly tugs on the back of Jimin’s shirt. “Namjoon is hard, Jimin. We walked in on them about to fuck.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widen as he whips around to glare at Namjoon and then at Jin, who offers him a sheepish smile. “Oh come on guys. Remember last time when you caught Yoongi and I and gave us shit about it? You’re such hypocrites!”

 

Namjoon buries his face in his hands, trying to physically block the images out. “But you were actually fucking and I saw parts of Yoongi that I never wanted to see, nor ever want to see again.”

 

Jimin slings an arm around Yoongi’s shoulder, eyes crinkling up into a smile. “He’s just jealous of what we have, Yoongi. Your pale ass is amazing.”

 

Namjoon suddenly stands, chucking the cushion back onto the couch. Much to Yoongi’s teasing dismay, his hard-on gone. “Would you look at that? The wonderful trip down memory lane has solved the problem.”

 

Jin snorts loudly at their antics, pressing his hand over his mouth in an attempt muffle the sudden outburst of noise. “We should do this more often. I missed having you guys around.”

 

Namjoon groans, shuffling over to wrap an arm around Jin’s petite waist and pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Don’t encourage them. They’re bad enough as it is.”

 

Jin turns and nudges Namjoon’s jaw with his nose. “Be quiet and act like a host. Go and set the table.”

 

As Namjoon grudgingly stomps away to do as he’s told, Jin glances back at the duo. “Anything to drink? I’m pretty sure we have just about everything, beer, wine, juice.”

 

Yoongi looks up at Jimin, eyebrow arched in question. “Beer?”

 

Jimin just smiles and nods as he rests his chin on Yoongi’s shoulder, warm breath dancing across Yoongi’s collarbones and distracting him momentarily.

 

Jimin links his fingers with Yoongi’s, tugging him towards the couch as Jin’s leaves to retrieve their drinks. The plush leather couch is vastly different to their shitty canvas sofa, which has one too many holes in it, and Jimin can’t stop the comfortable moan as they sink into the cushions.

 

Yoongi snorts at the noise, tightening his grip on Jimin’s hand as he tilts his head back. “If you make another sound like that, I’m going to have to put the cushion in my lap.”

 

Jimin smirks flirtatiously, leaning fully into Yoongi’s side and swinging his legs up to rest on the couch. “Would that be such a bad thing?”

 

Yoongi’s response is cut off by another long moan from Jimin, whose eyes are now closed.

 

Yoongi narrows his eyes, glaring at Jimin for being… well… Jimin. “For fuck’s sake. You’re such a comfort whore.”

 

Jimin presses his hand over Yoongi’s face, covering his mouth. “Shhh… Let me enjoy this while it lasts.”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes at Jimin’s antics, pulling Jimin’s hand away from his mouth before pressing a kiss to his palm, letting their entwined hands fall into his lap.

 

Yoongi sits in silence, leaving Jimin to bask in this moment as he glances around the large, open space of the lounge room. He’s knows Jin’s apartment like the back of his hand, always there with Jimin on the weekends or after a night out, but he can never get over just how large the scope of Jin’s wealth is. Sure, his hyung never flaunts it the way most of the wealthy do, but Yoongi can’t help but feel a little awe stricken whenever he’s in the apartment. It makes his heart clench a little if he’s going to be honest. With Jimin just having started the probationary period at his new job, and Yoongi only getting paid when inspiration decides to make an appearance, they are only just managing to scrape by.

 

Yoongi hopes that it will get better when Jimin becomes an official employee with a stable salary, but even then he wishes he could contribute more. It was Jimin’s savings, Jimin’s hard work that got them the apartment in the first place, with little to no contribution from Yoongi himself. And seeing Jimin now, never asking for anything and always working without complaint, enjoy something as simple as a comfortable couch tears him up inside. Jimin deserves the world, and it pains Yoongi to know that he can’t give it to him.

 

Yoongi is jerked from his thoughts when a foot lightly taps his leg. Namjoon stands in front of him, eyebrow arched and holding out two beers.

 

“Thanks. I thought you were setting the table?”

 

Namjoon scowls, flopping unceremoniously onto the beige couch opposite them. “Well I was, until I got kicked out because I put the napkin on the wrong side of the plate. Like you guys would be able to tell the difference.”

 

“It’s basic dining etiquette, Namjoon,” a frustrated voice calls from the kitchen, paired with the light clinking noise of cutlery.

 

Namjoon tilts his head back, staring at the ceiling for the second time today. “Honey, we are having chicken wings and corn cobs for lunch. This is not a dining etiquette required event.”

 

A string of incoherent, garbling noises travel into the lounge, Jin no doubt protesting against Namjoon’s words.

 

Nonplussed, Namjoon directs his gaze back to Yoongi, who takes a long swig from his beer. “So is domestic life treating you wonderfully, like it’s been treating me?”

 

*~*~*

 

Hoseok’s fingers worry nervously at the hem of his black t-shirt, tangling slightly in the loose material. The air is chilly, but not enough for him to move from his favourite cardigan to a leather jacket. He sucks in a deep breath, glaring at the towering apartment complex and willing himself to stop trembling. He skipped his weekly dose in an attempt to placate Namjoon, but if his shaking doesn’t stop then it would have been just a fucking waste of time.

 

He slowly makes his way up the polished marble steps, nodding a polite thanks to the doorman. He has been to Jin and Namjoon’s apartment before, but not often enough to be recognised by the receptionist and security guard.

 

He fiddles with the hem of his cardigan when he gets stopped at the front desk. “I’m Jung Hoseok… I’m here to visit Kim Seokjin.”

 

The receptionist scans Jin’s approved visitor’s list and confirms Hoseok’s photo before apologising and waving him towards the elevator. Hoseok nods politely again, used to the treatment. From his no brand, baggy clothes, to his shrunken posture, it is obvious that he is out of place in somewhere as fancy as this. He gapes unbelievably at the ostentatious chandelier that hangs from the ceiling of the foyer, casting a warm glow across the marbled floors and expensive artworks adorning the walls.

 

‘That sure as fuck wasn’t here the last time I came,’ he thinks to himself.

 

His eyes dart around the room as he scurries forward, sneakers squeaking loudly as he runs to the elevators. Even the interior of the elevator screamed‘rich people live here,with its golden railings and mirrors.

 

The ride up is short, thankfully, being off his usual dosage has left him quite nauseous at times, and standing inside a small moving box doesn’t help. He almost threw up on the bus on the way over, having forgotten to take a Panadol before leaving his friend’s home, and ended up getting off early and walking the final two blocks.

 

Hoseok steps out of the elevator and shuffles towards the only apartment door on this floor. He takes another deep breath before pressing the bell, listening to the loud chime as it echoes through the apartment.

 

The door swings open to reveal a flustered Jin, eyes slightly manic. “Hobi!”

 

Hoseok gets dragged by the hand, barely having the time to haphazardly kick off his shoes before he’s in the lounge room, Jin wrapped around him as if he were climbing a tree. He rolls his eyes at the elder’s behaviour, certain that the mighty and intelligent Seokjin actually has the mental capacity of a cute child. Jin untangles himself and skips into the kitchen, no doubt organising the food now that Hoseok has arrived.

 

His eyes drift past Namjoon, who is lazily lounging on the couch closest to him, and lands on the palest person Hoseok has ever seen in his life. The intense eyes stare at him from across the lounge, making the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. The stranger wets his lips, tilts his head slightly to the side and gives Hoseok a critical up and down. Hoseok can’t help but feel exposed under the unwavering stare, as if the gaze could see right through the sober façade he is trying to maintain.

 

A loud shout startles Hoseok, causing his eyes to break away from the stare and stumble back slightly.

 

Before he has a chance to react, muscular arms wrap around his thinner frame and he gets a mouthful of chestnut hair. “Hoseok! I’m so happy to meet you. I hear you have known Namjoon for years.”

 

Hoseok stands there frozen, unsure as to where to put his arms. He almost wants to wrap his arms tightly around the strange and embrace the warm body that smells of springtime, but he restrains himself and settles on patting the boy tentatively on the back instead.

 

Hoseok clears his throat, mumbling a quiet “Hello” as the boy backs away slightly. He is almost blinded by the smile the boy is giving him, and it warms his heart to see someone genuinely happy to meet him.

 

“I’m sorry… What was your name?” Hoseok asks politely, mentally cursing himself for not asking Namjoon beforehand so he was a bit more prepared.

 

Jimin’s eyes widen, hand shooting out towards Hoseok in a handshake gesture. "I’m Park Jimin. I’ve known hyung since he was fifteen.”

 

Hoseok gently shakes the hand offered to him, not really seeing the point as Jimin was all but wrapped around him moments ago. “Well it’s nice to meet you, Jimin. I’ll be excited to hear all the embarrassing stories you have of Jin.”

 

Jimin beams at Hoseok with another smile before shuffling back over to the couch and flopping down beside the man who has yet to say a word. His eyes are still peering at Hoseok like he’s trying to put together a puzzle, and Hoseok honestly doesn’t know how to feel about it.

 

The silence stretches on. Jimin, who was distracted by his beer, realises there is a tense silence and elbows the man harshly in the ribs, eliciting a frosty glare that Hoseok thinks would send him into a panic attack if it were directed at him. Jimin, unaffected by the murderous glare, just nods towards Hoseok and continues ripping off the label of his beer bottle.

 

The man glances back up at Hoseok, lips pursing slightly before opening. “Min Yoongi.”

 

"Yoongi," Hoseok mumbles, testing the way the name sits on his tongue.

 

In Hoseok’s opinion, the name didn't seem to fit the face or first impression of the man. He could easily see a name like Namjoon’s for him, tough and manly, even if his pale skin and platinum hair made him look like a fucking cloud.

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow in question, draping an arm around Jimin’s shoulder, his fingers gently caressing the exposed skin of his bicep. Hoseok’s eyes linger for a moment before darting back to Namjoon once he realises that he's been caught staring.

 

A deep rumble settles in his chest as he clears his throat. "What do I have to do to get a drink around here?"

 

Namjoon rolls his eyes, knowing full well that Hoseok knows where the drinks are. He inclines his head in question "Beer?”

 

Hoseok gives Namjoon a small nod and lowers himself to perch on the edge of the expensive couch, next to Namjoon’s vacated spot. He takes a moment to glance around the apartment. Not much has changed since he’d last come by besides a couple of decorative ornaments that litter the room. He wriggles his sock-clad toes against the plush carpet, fingers tapping restlessly against the edge of the couch as he thinks of something to say to fill the awkward silence.

 

"So hyung, how long have you known Namjoon?" Jimin asks, leaning forward and just out of Yoongi’s touch, earning a scowl from his boyfriend. His elbows rest on his knees with his head cradled by his hands as he looks across at Hoseok innocently, his eyes curious.

 

Hoseok rubs the back of his neck absentmindedly, nerves jumping at the question. "Since high school."

 

Jimin claps his hands excitedly and almost spills his beer over Jin's expensive carpet. Not that Hoseok notices, his attention being drawn to Jimin’s arms as he moves. The corded muscles of his arms clench softly under tan skin, rippling in a way that makes Hoseok’s mouth run dry. Sure he's seen muscle, Namjoon always flexing narcissistically whenever Hoseok praises his body, but he's never seen a body like Jimin’s before.

 

His mind drifts back to the hug Jimin had given him when he had entered, strong arms surrounding him completely in a tight embrace. A slight flush moves across Hoseok’s cheeks, thinking about how far across Jimin’s body the muscles reached. Would he be rippling with muscle all over? What would it feel like running his fingers across the boy’s defined chest and abdomen?

 

"Hoseok?" A soft voice drifts into his thoughts and makes Hoseok jerk his gaze away from the tight fabric stretched over Jimin’s chest.

 

"I'm… I'm sorry. What was the question?" Hoseok stammers out, catching a glimpse of Yoongi smirking over the neck of his beer bottle as he takes another sip.

 

The flush spreads like wildfire, staining his cheeks and neck crimson with embarrassment as his fingers clench. What was Hoseok thinking, ogling Jimin with his boyfriend sitting right beside him?

 

Hoseok may be a lot of things, but a home wrecker isn’t fucking one of them.

 

Jimin, apparently still oblivious to Hoseok’s lingering glances, repeats the question. “Has Namjoon always been so serious? Because I really want to know if there is any blackmail material you could generously pass along from crazy shit he may or may not have done during his younger years.”

 

Hoseok snorts a laugh, reclining back against the couch cushions. “The dude has been a douche bag since the moment we met.”

 

“Yah! You’re an asshole. Jin, why do we even bother inviting him to anything?” Namjoon yells from the doorway, having caught the tail-end of their conversation.

 

Jin pokes his head around Namjoon’s towering frame and pokes him softly in the ribs. “I don’t know. He’s your weird friend, and please remember that you’re the one who invited him, not me.”

 

Hoseok squawks indignantly, hand splayed dramatically across his chest as he glares at the duo. “Fine then. I see how it is. It’s nice to know where I stand with you guys.”

 

Jin laughs fondly, fingers curling slightly against the soft fabric of Namjoon’s shirt. “Don’t worry Hobi. We’ll feed you before we kick you out.”

 

Hoseok rolls his eyes, arms crossing as he stands and strides towards the couple. “You better or else! And you never got me a fucking beer, Namjoon.”

 

He wedges himself between the two, pushing his way into the kitchen, but not quickly enough to avoid Namjoon rustling his hair condescendingly.

 

Jin glances back over at the couple on the couch and calls out over his shoulder as he turns. “Come on guys. Lunch is ready and you better come quickly, before this freeloader eats all of the food.”

 

Jimin smiles softly at the garbled sounds of protest that strew from the kitchen, his fingers delicately tracing patterns over Yoongi’s clothed thigh. “Did you see that?”

 

Yoongi sits forward, lips brushing over the shell of Jimin’s ear as he murmurs, “What part? How good he looked leaning against the couch, or the way he inconspicuously eye-fucked you?”

 

Jimin bites down on his lower lip, eyes sparkling mischievously as he turns his head to look at Yoongi. His lover is sitting so close that his nose bumps into the swell of Yoongi’s cheek and his breath gently passes across his lips. He watches Yoongi’s eyes narrow, pupils dilating as his hand on Yoongi’s thigh inches upwards to dip and caress his inner thigh.

 

“Both.”

 

Yoongi smirks and presses a brief kiss to Jimin’s lips before standing and readjusting himself in his tight pants. “Come on. There’s plenty of time to do that later. Let’s go eat first.”

 

Jimin pouts, plump bottom lip sticking out defiantly as he presses his palm into his crotch in an attempt to rid himself of his semi. Yoongi rolls his eyes, bringing his sexual deviant of a boyfriend to his feet and untucking the tank top from his pants so that the fabric covers his crotch. “There, problem solved. Now come on.”

 

Jimin eyes the back of Yoongi’s head suspiciously as he’s being dragged into the kitchen, fingers entwining with Yoongi’s. “Why are you so eager all of a sudden?”

 

Yoongi doesn’t look back as he scoffs, fingers tightening around Jimin’s. “I’m not. I just thought we should go before you jump me.”

 

Jimin doesn’t get a chance to respond as they step into the kitchen dining area, feet padding softly against the beautiful hardwood floors. The glass table is set up like they are dining at an expensive restaurant, fine bone china plates, intricately folded fabric napkins, wine glasses sparkling softly from the streams of sunlight coming from the wide windows. Jimin would have thought it’s a table set for a king until his eyes come to rest on the pile of chicken wings sitting in the middle of the table. He can’t help but laugh at the juxtaposition.

 

Yoongi presses a hand gently against the small of Jimin’s back and guides him to the empty seat beside Hoseok before settling in the seat opposite him.

 

A crease forms between Hoseok’s eyes as his features sink into a frown, catching sight of Yoongi and Jimin tangling their legs together through the glass of the table. He glances across at Jin and Namjoon to see they are doing. He tilts his head forward, staring intently at his plate. His fingers worry at the fabric napkin that Jin had draped across his lap, much to his chagrin.

 

Hoseok doesn’t think about relationships often, his own only lasting a week or two before he gets bored and moves on. But being here now and watching the couples, who are so clearly and madly in love, makes his heart clench in want. Just for this moment he wants someone to sit opposite him and tangle their legs together, just for this moment he wants someone to call his so he doesn’t have to fucking choke on the love that lingers in the stifling air.

 

A piece of chicken is brought into his field of view and sits innocently on his plate. He glances up confusedly to see Jin holding some tongs and smiling down at him. “How many pieces would you like?”

 

Hoseok clears his throat, reaching up towards Jin’s hand and gently plucking the tongs from his fingers. “That’s okay hyung. I can serve myself. Thank you.”

 

He chews on his bottom lip as he picks up various foods that Jin has prepared and places them onto his plate. Once he’s finished, he turns toward Jimin and is met with a beaming smile, and with not knowing what to say he just quietly offers the tongs. Jimin’s fingers lightly brush against the back of Hoseok’s hand as he grabs the tongs, head inclining in appreciation.

 

A jolt of electricity jumps up his arm at the contact, his muscles tensing as Jimin’s touch lingers for a moment before pulling away. Hoseok averts his eyes, hand reaching up to seize his chopsticks and push the food around on his plate. He is physically attracted to the boy, there is no denying, but his body’s reaction is startling. The boy’s innocent personality paired with that fucking body makes Hoseok shiver with desire, he wants nothing more than to wreck Park Jimin.

 

Yoongi on the other hand, has something primal about him. Hoseok saw it when he had stared into his dark eyes, which glinted with rebelliousness but also, strangely, vulnerability. The duo are an enigma, seemingly so different from each other but together nonetheless.

 

He lifts food up to his mouth in jerky, robotic movements, so lost in thought he doesn’t taste anything as he chews. Either way, his thoughts are only thoughts and he’ll never know what it’s like to actually be with either of them. All he does know is that he has to sit here with the couple for the next couple of hours and make small talk without blurting out that he wants to fuck them.

 

He’s so screwed.

 

Namjoon watches his friend carefully out the corner of his eye, noting the tense posture and set of his shoulders. He had expected Hoseok to be a bit reserved, seeing as he’s around strangers, but even after meeting Yoongi and Jimin he still has yet to relax. His eyes rake over his friend. Hoseok is undoubtedly less jittery than the last time Namjoon saw him at the café, face now flush with colour and no longer deathly pale, but that was no official indicator as to whether he is on something or not. Namjoon has asked Jin on his opinion about Hoseok’s situation after returning from the café, and he had just told him there was no use trying to ask Hoseok about it because if Hoseok is good at anything, it’s lying. But there are only so many lies that can be told before they are betrayed by his body.

 

Hoseok’s hand clenches around his chopsticks, knuckles turning white as the skin stretches.

 

Namjoon gently nudges Hoseok’s foot under the table, eyebrow arched in silent question as their gazes meet. ‘Are you okay?

 

Hoseok bites down softly on his bottom lip, head jerking in a hesitant nod at Namjoon’s prodding. His wispy bangs fall forward at the movement, partially shielding his eyes from Namjoon’s concerned gaze.

 

Something is off, Namjoon can feel it, but he doesn’t know what. He’s known Hoseok for nearly a decade and during that time he’s never seen his friend be so docile. It’s unsettling, seeing him sit there quietly and not prance around, high on life.

 

And possibly high on other things,’Namjoon’s mind growls bitterly, causing him to frown. But, putting that particular issue aside, even around strangers, Hoseok usually has enough snark to equate to a room full of moody teenagers. Namjoon thinks he could even give Yoongi a run for his money.

 

Namjoon tears his eyes away from Hoseok and glances across at Jin, who apparently has noticed the situation as well. Jin presses a hand into Namjoon’s thigh, eyebrows furrowed in confusion and worry at Hoseok’s behaviour. He seemed fine moments ago, but as soon as Jimin and Yoongi entered his body coiled, eyes refusing to look anywhere besides his plate and cutlery.

 

The soft noise of chopsticks clacking and chewing echo in the room, each individual engrossed in their food or thoughts, though the silence doesn’t last long.

 

“Hyung! This chicken is amazing!” Jimin exclaims, completely forgoing his chopsticks and picking at the food with his hands, much to Jin’s glare of disapproval.

 

Jin and Namjoon’s attention is now on Jimin, allowing Hoseok to let out a small sigh of relief. He lets his shoulders sag slightly, relaxing now that eyes are off him and the awkward silence has been filled.

 

Jimin moans, like he’s having an out of body sexual experience, oily fingers reaching across Hoseok’s field of view and grabbing another piece of chicken with his hand.

 

Jin’s mouth falls open in horror, spluttering as he waves the tongs angrily at Jimin. “These are here for a reason, you Neanderthal!”

 

Jimin ignores Jin’s comment and continues to blissfully obliterate the chicken wings, licking his fingers after every piece. Hoseok nearly has a heart attack, watching Jimin’s small pink tongue slide across each of his fingertips before sucking briefly on the pad of his thumb. Hoseok wants to stare at the ceiling and question why this is happening to him.

 

Hoseok’s body jerks slightly as Jimin leans across him again, muscled arm so close to his face he can trace the bulging veins with his eyes. Their thighs press together tightly, and Hoseok is seriously considering making up an excuse to get the fuck out of the apartment.

 

So much for relaxing. That lasted a whole of what… five minutes?’ Hoseok thinks as his body tenses again, hyperaware of the intense warmth radiating from Jimin’s body.

 

Jimin’s tongue peeks out, running lightly over his bottom lip in concentration as he serves up more food for himself and Yoongi, who remains silent as though Jimin handing him food with his hands is a normal occurrence. Though Hoseok isn’t sure if Jimin’s table habits are usually like this or he’s just doing it to piss off Jin, because god knows if he wasn’t trying to mentally undress the couple, it’s what he would be doing at this very moment.

 

Yoongi’s nose twitches fondly at Jimin’s antics, toes wiggling against his lover’s under the table. He looks down at the food sitting untouched on his plate, chopsticks still and hovering over the piece of chicken Jimin has just given him. Jimin reaches across the table at Yoongi’s hesitation, fingers smearing oil over the back of Yoongi’s outstretched hand as he rubs it encouragingly. The elder shoots him a small smile, tentatively taking a small bite out of the wing and chewing thoughtfully on the flavoursome meat.

 

He hums in delight, taking another small bite. “I’m going to have to agree with Jimin here. This is amazing, Jin.”

 

Jimin laughs, ecstatic that Yoongi is eating, and digs into his own food again with vigour. His thigh is still pressed firmly against Hoseok’s and it’s all too amusing to see him squirm at the fake accidental touch. Jimin almost wants to ask Yoongi if they can keep him, but restrains himself, not wanting to scare the adorable man away. Though that being said, he keeps his leg pressed against Hoseok’s for the duration of lunch, throwing in a couple of light grazes with his arms just to watch the blush creep further down Hoseok’s neck. He half listens in to the conversation Jin is having with Yoongi about his music, offering small comments and praise for his boyfriend's work along the way, but his focus is mainly on Hoseok, who has yet to say a word.

 

He wipes his oily hands on the napkin and takes a sip from his beer, making eye contact with Yoongi opposite him. His lover has undoubtedly noticed the feather light touches and the lingering gazes Hoseok gave in return. Jimin smirks and places the bottle down on the table, cocking an eyebrow at Yoongi mischievously, hoping that he understands the signal Jimin is trying to send.

 

Yoongi’s eyes darken as his gaze flits over to Hoseok, scanning his profile and tracing his features. He clears his throat abruptly, sound cutting through the silence and making Hoseok flinch in surprise, as if he were lost in thought. “Later.”

 

Jin and Namjoon peer over at Yoongi in confusion at the sudden comment, having no context for Yoongi’s answer to Jimin’s silent question.

 

Jimin barks out a laugh, eyes sparkling with amusement as he reaches over and entwines his fingers with Yoongi’s on the table top. “Don’t worry about him, hyung. He can be weird sometimes.”

 

Namjoon lets out a small laugh, poking Jin in the arm. “Hoseok may be my friend, but these idiots are yours.”

 

Jin only rolls his eyes in exasperation, making no attempt to correct his boyfriend because in all honesty, he was right, they are idiots at times. But they’re his idiots.

 

“Are you all finished?” Jin asks, motioning at the food on the table as he stands, chair sliding smoothly back.

 

Jimin leans back in his chair, back arched and hands rubbing soothingly at his stomach. “Hyung, I’m so full I don’t think I need to eat ever again. Thank you for cooking for us, it was delicious!”

 

Jin smiles brightly at Jimin, eyes crinkling with happiness that his friend enjoyed the meal. Namjoon stands as well, helping Jin stack the plates and carry the left overs into the kitchen. Jimin catches sight of Yoongi’s plate as it’s being taken away and sends his boyfriend a proud and love-filled smile, noting that majority of the food on his plate had been eaten.

 

They sit in silence at the table, Jimin making lovey-dovey eyes at Yoongi over the table. Hoseok can’t help but think it’s cute, albeit a little bit sickening watching the couple interact. The trio listen to the soft clinking of plates and watch as Jin and Namjoon pack away the food, Jin’s soft voice travelling throughout the room as he speaks to Namjoon. “Do you think I could get Tae to take the leftover chicken?”

 

Yoongi leans forward onto his elbows, mischievous smirk marring his features. “So Hoseok. What do you do?”

 

Hoseok’s hands fiddle unconsciously as he considers the question, not certain how to answer. “I’m… kind of between things at the moment, you know? Like I’m sorting some stuff out.”

 

Yoongi hums, fingers tapping lightly against the table top. “Well then, what do you want to do?”

 

Hoseok doesn’t even hesitate in his answer, an answer always sitting on the tip of his tongue, but never told because no-one had ever wanted to know, no-one besides Namjoon and Jin that is. “Dance. I want to dance.”

 

Jimin notes the way his eyes sparkle with life and passion as he speaks about his aspirations. “Really hyung!? I like to dance too! Maybe we could practice together sometime?”

 

A small smile graces Hoseok’s lips at Jimin’s excited outburst, finding the boy’s innocent and carefree nature refreshing. “Sure.”

 

He glances back at Yoongi and accidently meets his intense stare, causing Hoseok to quickly avert his eyes.

 

‘Right, Yoongi.’Hoseok didn’t know what to make of the pale man. Every word, every question is short, clipped, controlled. Hoseok doesn’t think Yoongi has spoken more than two sentences since he’s arrived. Jimin he can make out, Jimin he can read, but Yoongi… not so much.

 

Yoongi’s posture screams meek and docile but his eyes, his eyes glint with something that reaches into Hoseok and churns his insides. They carry experience, they carry the world. Hoseok doesn’t know what Yoongi has been through to earn such solemn eyes, but there’s an itch lingering in the forefront of Hoseok’s mind that demands he find out.

 

Hoseok stares at the floor, silence settling over them once again. The soft sound of rustling fabric invades his thoughts as the couple continue to play footsie under the table. He is about to ask them a question when Jimin presses his foot against Hoseok’s, toes wiggling against his ankle. Hoseok’s eyes widen as he whips around to stare at Jimin, mouth agape in surprise.

 

Jimin flashes him a tentative smile before pulling his foot away, not breaking eye contact with Hoseok until Jin accidentally interrupts the moment.

 

Jin steps around the counter holding a bottle of wine and some glasses. “What say we watch a movie?”

 

*~*~*

 

A hand rests lightly on his knee, fingers gently swirling patterns on the exposed skin and playing with the frayed fabric of his ripped jeans. Soft hair tickles at the sharp edge of his jaw as hot breath dances across his collarbones, the feather light sensations making him shiver in want. Two warm bodies are pressed up against him, so close he can feel each subtle rise and fall of their chests as they breath. His eyes are sharp and his breath laboured as he watches the hand on his knee inch along his thigh before reaching towards his groin.

 

The soft crackle of popcorn makes him snap his gaze back to the movie, a frustrated scowl marring his features.

 

Hoseok curses his luck as he glares at the television screen, having not been able to focus on the movie at all since the moment it started. ‘Of course this has to happen. Of fucking course.’

 

He looks down again and glares daggers at Jimin’s hand, which is buried in the bowl of popcorn in his lap. As soon as he had sat down, Jimin was immediately pressed against him on one side and Yoongi on the other. They claimed they needed a middle man because they always fight over the popcorn, but Hoseok is convinced that they are both messing with him.

 

After the first movie, Jin had suggested watching another so they ended up staying for dinner. They are now watching their fourth movie, surrounded by darkness and illuminated only by the dim light emitting from the television screen. The sun had set a couple of hours ago, while they were eating dinner. Hoseok couldn’t believe his eyes at the spectacular sight of Seoul doused in rays of sunset. Red and orange hues danced and reflected off the windows of surrounding skyscrapers, dimming into shades of purple and blue as time passed. It was beautiful.

 

Yoongi shifts restlessly, pressing further into Hoseok, as if that were even possible. A small smirk graces his lips, watching Hoseok’s adam's apple bob nervously as he gulps. His eyes travel over Hoseok’s profile, tracing over the curves of his eyes and the bow of his upper lip. Maybe Jimin was right about Hoseok, there was definitely potential in him, but he needs to discuss it with Jimin in depth before they do anything. He remembers the conversation they had many years ago, when they were still trying to figure out what they liked, and Jimin had asked him about threesomes.

 

In all honesty, he hadn’t thought about it until Jimin had brought it up, completely happy and in love with Jimin with every fibre of his being. Though Yoongi knows that it is something that Jimin has always wanted to try, even if he never brought it up again after that initial mention. Yoongi wasn’t against the idea, thinking about how beautiful his boyfriend would be, laid out and completely wrecked by another man. How he would squirm, back arching as he chased his orgasm.

 

No, Yoongi was not against the idea at all, as long as it is him that Jimin loves in the end.

 

Yoongi rests his chin on Hoseok’s shoulder, so close that his nose almost touches his jaw. He clears his throat softly to capture Hoseok’s attention. “What do you think of the movie?”

 

Hoseok gulps again, stumbling over his words, unnerved by Yoongi’s proximity. “It’s… alright.”

 

Yoongi exhales a laugh, removing himself from Hoseok’s personal space and reaching for his wine glass that’s sitting on the coffee table. He takes a small sip, leaning back against the cushions as he swirls the expensive liquor around in his mouth. Jin always bought the most delicious wines, though Yoongi suspects that one bottle would cost him four months’ worth of wages. He glances over, eyes sparkling with fondness at the sight of Jin and Namjoon all but wrapped around each other on the opposite couch.

 

Jin, feeling a gaze on him, lifts his head from Namjoon’s chest to meet Yoongi’s eyes. “Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi takes another sip of his wine before placing the glass down and falling back against Hoseok, earning him a grunt of surprise.

 

“Nothing. I just forgot to ask before, how work is going for you? Is that receptionist on the fourth floor still trying to fuck her way to the promotion of becoming your personal assistant?”

 

Hoseok snorts in laughter at the completely blunt and careless comment, biting down on his lip in an attempt to stop further laughter from escaping. Yoongi smirks in approval, glad that someone enjoys his humour.

 

Jin sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose in exasperation. “Her name is Taeyeon, and she is not trying to seduce her way into a promotion.”

 

Jimin, with eyes still focused on the movie and hand in the popcorn bowl, offers a running remark, “Hyung, I’ve seen her at the office around you. She so wants to ride you in your office or in the janitor's closet. You have got to be blind if you can’t see it.”

 

Namjoon quirks an eyebrow, gazing down at the wide-eyed Jin in his lap. “Is that so? Is this something I need to be worried about?”

 

Jin raises his hands defensively, shaking his head quickly in denial. “I swear Namjoon, nothing is going on... I would never.”

 

Namjoon smiles, cupping Jin’s cheek with his hand and pressing a soft kiss to his quivering lips. “I’m just tugging your chain, honey. I trust you. You know, you’re cute when you’re flustered.”

 

Jin’s bottom lip juts out, nose scrunching playfully at Namjoon’s teasing. “For that, I might have lunch with her tomorrow.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes narrow suspiciously, eyebrow quirked in challenge. “You wouldn’t dare.”

 

Jin squirms, looking like he’s trying to remove himself from Namjoon’s lap. “Watch me.”

 

A hand clasps his wrist tightly as he’s about to lift himself off of the couch and pulls him back down into Namjoon’s lap, his arms flailing wildly. Lips crash down onto his own, the deep kiss stealing his breath away. Jin lives for this, the mini fake banters that they have. It’s just become a natural part of their relationship dynamic, always messing around with each other, pushing each other’s buttons. It’s a playful side of him that he hasn’t been able to show much in his life, always holding himself with polite seriousness.

 

If you were to ask any of his university friends or work colleagues, they would all say he’s the nicest guy in the world, but he’s not really that fun to hang out with. No, this side of him is reserved only for his closest friends, those he trusts and is completely comfortable around. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Hoseok staring at the television screen, averting his gaze from the intimate moment between Jin and Namjoon. Yoongi and Jimin on the other hand, blatantly watch them and even go as far as to cheer them on, Jimin whistling catcalls.

 

Jin pulls back and chucks the group a cheeky smirk, lips swollen from the force of Namjoon’s kiss. He gives Jimin an exaggerated wink before winding his arms around Namjoon’s neck and pulling him in for another kiss.

 

He is so distracted by the movement of Namjoon’s hands as they slide up his back that he almost misses Yoongi’s comment. “I didn’t know you guys were into exhibitionism.”

 

Namjoon pulls back, eyebrow arching smugly as he grins at Yoongi. “Well if you don’t want to see it, look away.”

 

He wraps his large hands underneath Jin’s slender thighs, lifting him up as he stands. Jin’s legs hook around his waist as he clings to Namjoon, arms wrapped tightly around his neck. Jin’s face nuzzles into Namjoon’s jaw, nose sliding gently across his cheek. He throws a look over him shoulder at the trio on the couch as he begins to walk towards the stairs. “If you’d excuse us, we’ll be back in a minute.”

 

Yoongi snorts loudly, sipping on his glass of wine. “Only a minute, Namjoon? Old age must be disagreeing with you.”

 

Jin giggles into the side of Namjoon’s neck, hot breath fanning across his collarbones. “Trust me, Yoongi. You don’t need to worry about his stamina.”

 

Yoongi barks out a laugh, leaning back into a flustered Hoseok, who has no idea how to react to the sexual banter between friends.

 

Just as Namjoon steps into the hallway, a shrill tone coming from the couch echoes throughout the lounge. Namjoon pauses, glaring over at the couch with hateful intensity. ‘Of course Jin has to get a call now. It’s probably someone from the hospital wanting to annoy Jin about a small issue that could have waited until morning.’

 

Jimin rushes over to check Jin’s phone, his brow furrowing when his eyes trace over the caller ID. Jin lightly taps Namjoon’s shoulder at the sight of Jimin’s expression, asking to be put down. “Who is it Jimin?”

 

Jimin licks his lips, holding the phone out towards the hallway. “It’s Tae.”

 

Jin’s eyes widen, quickly rushing over to grab the phone, nodding in thanks before answering the call. “Tae? Is everything alright?”

 

Namjoon watches from afar, worry etched into his features. In all the time, since Taehyung accepted the phone from Jin, he had only ever called twice, and both times he desperately needed help.

 

Jin’s voice rises in panic, words tumbling out of his mouth almost incoherently in panic. “Where are you? What happened?”

 

Namjoon quickly crosses the room, hand pressing against Jin’s bicep at he stares into Jin’s widened eyes.

 

Jin’s next words send shivers of fear down his spine, body stock still. “Is he breathing?”

 

Jin’s heart pounds in his chest, the lump sitting in his throat, making it hard to speak. “Call an ambulance. Tell them to take you to Samsung Medical Center. Namjoon and I will meet you there.”

 

Namjoon rushes off to retrieve his keys, hearing Jin’s soft, “Stay strong, Taehyung,” just as he enters the kitchen.

 

Jin’s hands shake, breaths coming out quickly to the point of near hyperventilation. Jimin wraps his arms around Jin’s shaking frame, pulling him in for a tight hug. “What’s going on? Is Taetae okay?”

 

Jin shrugs, not entirely sure as to what just happened. “It’s not him. It’s someone else, someone else on the street that he’s helped. But Jimin, what if it were him?”

 

Jimin coos softly, fingers tangling in the short hairs on the nape of Jin’s neck. “I know, but it’s not. Just focus on that. Tae’s okay.”

 

Namjoon’s keys clink loudly as he emerges from the kitchen, shrugging on his jacket. “Sorry guys, for running out on you.”

 

Yoongi stands and wanders over to stand beside Jimin, shaking his head and waving his hands dismissively. “No it’s fine. Go make sure our boy is alright, yeah? Jimin and I will make sure Hoseok gets home.”

 

Jin pats Yoongi’s forearm gently, eyes glistening with unshed tears. “Thank you.”

 

Yoongi’s head jerks in a nod before nudging Jin towards Namjoon. “Go. We’ll clean up.”

 

Jin and Namjoon shout out a short goodbye to Hoseok before quickly rushing out of the door, leaving the trio sitting in the lounge in silence. Jimin automatically gathers up the wine glasses and carries them into the kitchen to load into the washing machine. Yoongi moves to switch off the television. He wasn’t even sure if anyone had watched the movie, all too restless and caught up in each other.

 

Hoseok taps his fingers anxiously against his knee, watching the couple whirl around and tidy up the lounge. He offers to help, but is immediately shut down because he is the “Guest of Honour,” according to Jimin.

 

It’s almost midnight when they finish up, lounge and kitchen spotlessly clean. Jimin gently shakes Hoseok’s shoulder, waking him from his light sleep. “Sorry we took so long. We didn’t want Jin coming home to the sty we made of his penthouse.”

 

Hoseok shakes his head, slightly disoriented as he slowly becomes coherent, his voice thick with sleep. “That’s fine. I didn’t mean to drift off. I must be more tired than I thought.”

 

Jimin holds out a hand and pulls Hoseok to his feet, touch lingering for an extended moment before backing away. “Well then, let’s get you home.”

 

*~*~*

 

The trip to Hoseok’s place is long, living in the same area as Yoongi and Jimin on the other side of town. Jimin and Yoongi generally crash at Jin’s whenever they’ve stayed late or they’ve drunk a little too much alcohol, but Jimin has a meeting that he needs to attend in the morning. They weave through the fairly empty streets of Seoul, illuminated by yellow street lamps and neon signs. Hoseok is sitting in the back seat, head lolling from side to side as he fights to stay awake.

 

Hoseok’s forehead is pressed up against the foggy window, eyes fluttering softly as they pull up to the block of dilapidated apartments that he currently calls home. He hopes that his friend wouldn’t be too pissed off with him for coming home this late. He remembers the look of disappointment his friend had given him when he stumbled in at 3 am, shirtless and making a shit load of noise. The arrangement they have is standing on its final legs, and Hoseok knows he’s going to need to find somewhere new to stay soon.

 

Always drifting from place to place, always a burden.

 

He lifts his head weakly from the window, unclipping his seat belt before glancing up at the duo. “Thank you so much for the ride. I had fun today, we should do it again sometime.”

 

Jimin flashes Hoseok a flirtatious smile over his shoulder, fingers tapping softly on the steering wheel. “Oh definitely.”

 

Yoongi turns in his seat, body facing Hoseok. “We’ll see you soon. Don’t worry.”

 

Hoseok offers a tentative smile before stepping out of the car and heading up towards entrance, pausing to glance over his shoulder as the car speeds off. He stands there for a moment, in the frosty wind, and pulls the cardigan closer to his shivering frame, wondering what the hell just blew into his life.

 

*~*~*

 

Jimin watches Yoongi get ready for bed with hesitant eyes, fingers playing nervously with the edge of the doona. The elder pads across the room before turning off the lights and slipping in beside the tense Jimin, hands automatically reaching out and pulling Jimin to his chest.

 

His nose nudges into Jimin’s temple as he waits for his boyfriend to find his words. “Ask, Jimin.”

 

His fingers tangle in the fabric of Yoongi’s oversized bed shirt, face buried in his neck. “You know I love you yeah? That I’ll always love you no matter what?”

 

Yoongi hums in acknowledgement, legs tangling with Jimin’s and fingers gently carding through his hair. “I love you too.”

 

Jimin’s hands tighten in Yoongi’s shirt at the words, mild flush dancing across his cheeks. He will never tire of Yoongi saying those words to him. If he had a choice he would ask Yoongi to say it all day, and he would say it back. “Can we try? With Hoseok? The three of us?”

 

Yoongi’s hand rubs Jimin’s back supportively, encouraging him to voice his desires. “Okay.”

 

Jimin pushes on Yoongi’s chest, rearing back to look at his boyfriend incredulously. He couldn’t make out any of Yoongi’s features in the darkness, but he could feel the soft caress of his breath. “Okay… That’s it?”

 

Yoongi reaches out and pulls Jimin back, embracing him tightly. “I love you and I trust you. This is something that you want, and it is something I can give you. So, okay. We just need to make sure that Hoseok knows what the deal is going in.”

 

Jimin nods frantically, doubtful that Yoongi has agreed so easily. “You are the best boyfriend in the world, Min Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi breaths out a laugh, pressing a kiss to Jimin’s forehead. “I know.”

 

Jimin snorts in laughter, burrowing into Yoongi’s side. “While we were watching the last movie at Jin’s, I thought up an elaborate plan to convince you to agree. There was even a blowjob in there if things got desperate.”

 

Yoongi groans deeply, swinging his leg over Jimin’s hip. “You are a menace, Jimin. The biggest thorn in my side.”

 

Jimin chuckles, fingers brushing against the skin of Yoongi’s calf as he leans forward and aims to kiss Yoongi on the lips, but ends up catching the tip of his nose instead. “So… that’s a no on the blowjob then?

 

Yoongi growls, rolling over to straddle Jimin and rip at his bed shirt. He throws the offensive fabric off to the side, pressing his palms against the rippling muscle of Jimin’s abdomen. He pushes and holds Jimin’s wrists over his head and leans in for a bruising kiss, Jimin’s eyelashes fluttering and brushing against his own.

 

Jimin is late to the meeting the next morning.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 2

 

 

His eyes glaze over as he stares blankly at the upturned hat sitting miserably next to his feet, nurturing in its hollow pouch all but a measly hundred won. It wouldn’t be enough to buy a can of hot chocolate from the vending machine down the street. He’ll have to wait out the rest of this tiresome afternoon in the hopes of someone generously sparing him some change. He doesn’t blame the people who barely cast him a glance, in their shoes it’s likely he would have done exactly the same thing. They don’t understand his situation, nor do they want to, immersed in their own problems that far outweigh the likes of a homeless teenager like himself.

 

It’s strange to think it’s been like this for a year now. He couldn’t stand the overbearing presence of his father any longer, and with the absence of his mother there was little tying him to the family household. Someone must’ve been watching over them, because it’s dumb luck his parents had decided against having another child before his mother packed up and all but left them behind. Taehyung doesn’t think he could’ve left if he had a younger sibling. The thought sickened him. There are benefits to being an only child – the only person he has to look out for is himself, and Taehyung likes it that way.

 

He’s got issues that any sane person would avoid at all costs. Being a lone wolf meant that no one could judge him, no one could know him long enough to realize he’s not all quite there in the head.

 

He blames his father entirely for his problems, of course. If it weren’t for his father, his mother wouldn’t have left. If it weren’t for his father, he wouldn’t be out on the street where it’s safer than in the confines of what he used to call “home.” His father fills him with chilling anger that’ll never find closure. He has to live with this resentment hanging over him, following him like an invisible phantom, whispering to him in the darkest hours of the night.

 

His stomach churns painfully and he clutches his stomach, squeezing his eyes shut. Starvation is one of life’s worst realities. It feels as though his insides have become toxic, and with every sharp twist and demand for food, his head feels a little lighter and little fainter. He’s passed out from starvation before, and he almost always awakens with a pounding migraine and ironically, nausea. How masochistic of his own body to want to throw up the nonexistent food inside his stomach. For the most part, it’s nothing more than dry heaving and occasional bile – if he’s lucky.

 

“Long day?” a warm voice asks him.

 

Taehyung conjures what little energy he has to look up into the softly smiling face of a stranger, standing before him in relatively casual attire for a spring evening. He can’t see with much clarity, but he can tell the man is well built and handsome – the type that usually wouldn’t bother to take the time out of his busy life to acknowledge street scum like himself.

 

Taehyung blinks at him slowly, his cracked lips parting, wanting to respond, but can’t seem to find his own voice. He’s so tired, too tired. He can barely keep his eyes open.

 

The stranger seems to understand, because he shuffles over and sits down beside him, impervious to the putrid smell he’s no doubt permeating. He hears the rustle of a plastic bag he doesn’t even realize the stranger has, and he slowly inclines his head to the side, still blinking stoically. The man’s large, flawless hand plucks a sandwich wrapped in plastic and humbly offers it to him, and with a small bow of his head Taehyung accepts it, murmuring a small “thank you” he isn’t quite sure reaches the stranger’s ears.

 

Contrary to his crippling hunger, he eats slowly. He doesn’t have the energy to tear through the sandwich like he ordinarily would, and it’s probably for the best. Eating too fast can end in some nasty regurgitation he would rather avoid.

 

“My name is Seokjin,” the man talks as Taehyung silently eats, propping his arms on his knees and leaning back against the brick wall. “You can call me Jin though, that’s what everyone else calls me. I’ve seen you around here a couple of times. I would keep telling myself I’d approach you, but I could never properly convince myself until now. I’m sorry about that. I guess I was being a bit of a coward.”

 

Taehyung wants to reassure him that he isn’t a coward, and that he completely understands, but he doesn’t want to stop eating. He settles on shaking his head, hoping Jin will be able to understand what cannot be vocalized.

 

Jin is staring at him, smiling kindly. He seems like an upstanding Christian boy from a wealthy background and happily married parents. This should make him envious, or perhaps even a little resentful, but honestly Taehyung is too grateful for the existence of this sandwich to truly spite Jin for his fortunate upbringing.

 

“What’s your name? You seem pretty young – too young to be out here on the streets.”

 

“Taehyung,” he mumbles after gulping down a particularly sizable piece. “I’m sixteen.”

 

“Sixteen.” It’s sounds like all the air has left Jin’s lungs. “You’re just a kid.”

 

Taehyung snorts before taking another bite of his sandwich. He’s never really seen himself as all that young. After all that he’s been through, he feels decades older than his actual age. He feels like he’s seen too many things, experienced too many hardships to see himself as still a minor.

 

“How long have you been on the streets for?” Jin is an awfully curious man, isn’t he?

 

“About a year now.”

 

“That’s a long time.”

 

“Not really. The old man outside the liquor store two blocks from here has been on the streets for fifteen years. That is a long time,” he speaks truthfully, unwilling to swallow any of the pity Jin is offering him. He’s happy to accept charity, but sympathy can take a hike.

 

Jin hums thoughtfully. “I suppose you’re right.” He’s glad the other agrees. Taehyung really isn’t in the mood to argue with a stranger at the moment.

 

The tussling of plastic seizes his attention as he chews on another mouthful, side-eying Jin curiously as he starts emptying the contents of the bag. “I bought some stuff for you. I’m not sure what you have on you, but I’m hoping these will help.”

 

He places down a toothbrush with toothpaste to match, a couple of packaged lunches and some disposable chopsticks. “I’ll be back tomorrow to bring you some more food.”

 

“You really don’t have to do this, Seokjin-ssi,” he assures politely, admittedly a little overwhelmed at the selfless generosity.

 

“I don’t have to, but I want to,” the young man replies simply. “I’d convince you to come live with me as well, but I already know you’ll decline that offer. You have stubborn written all over your face.”

 

“You’re damn right I won’t. Are you insane? I don’t even know you,” Taehyung scoffs, ripping off a piece of bread and stuffing it into his mouth. He feels a little better with food finally settling his upset tummy.

 

“Then I guess you aren’t willing to tell a stranger why you’re on the streets instead of at home, with your parents, like a normal child should be?” Jin’s curiosity truly is admirable.

 

Taehyung lets the ‘child’ thing slide because, well, he did buy him all this stuff, and he isn’t asking for any sexual favors or any of that crap in return, so he seems trustworthy. But then again, most sociopaths seem harmless in the beginning, crafting a façade that people don’t even realize they’re falling for until it’s too late.

 

He shakes his head. He’s being ridiculous. If Jin were a serial killer his radar would be going off the charts. He takes pride in his perceptiveness, and Jin honestly just seems like the kind of guy who wants to help and make new friends.

 

“My dad is an alcoholic and used to beat me. I’d rather be on the streets than spend another day with that asshole,” he says honestly.

 

He doesn’t have issues talking about his troubled past, even to a complete stranger like Jin. As a matter of fact, it helps that he doesn’t know Jin all that well. It makes him more passive to his situation.

 

“And your mother?” Jin’s voice is wavering, as though he’s struggling to maintain nonchalance.

 

“She left when I was young. I guess she got tired of being my father’s punching bag.”

 

“That still doesn’t excuse leaving you behind.” Jin’s voice is every bit as responsible as Taehyung thought him to be. A handsome man with looks, wealth and integrity. He wouldn’t be surprised if this guy is engaged to his high-school sweetheart and is currently studying some stereotypical degree like law or medicine.

 

Taehyung shrugs, finishing off the last of his sandwich. It would have tasted bitter with the thought of going hungry again in a few more hours, but thanks to the extra meals he’s assured that he will persevere for the next week. “Nothing I can do about it. I was just unfortunate enough to be born into a crummy family.”

 

“Things will improve,” Jin promises him.

 

Taehyung, of course, doesn’t give his words much thought.

 

As promised however, Jin shows up the next day with another plastic bag. This time he’s brought more than just food, but also tube socks, a blanket and a phone – of all things.

 

“You can use it for emergencies or if you just want to talk,” Jin tells him, showing him on the phone where his contact number has been incorporated. He hands over the charger too and tells him he can use the power points at the local library to charge it if it ever runs low on battery.

 

Taehyung thinks Jin is a bit ridiculous and crazy for being so open to a homeless stranger, but at the same time – deep inside himself – he really is touched by the warm sentiment. Jin talks to him casually, and it’s easy for Taehyung to find out that he’s twenty and a university student doing a double Major in Business and Commerce.

 

Surprisingly, he’s single – although Taehyung definitely doesn’t express his surprise to avoid explaining why that is. He’d rather not come across as the creepy perverted hobo so early into their friendship, as it would surely ruin it.

 

He doesn’t see Jin after that day, because Taehyung likes to move around. He never stays at the same place at the same time, and since he doesn’t receive any sort of message from Jin on his disappearance, he only presumes Jin is understanding and willing to give him the space he needs. Taehyung appreciates that. He doesn’t fancy the thought of getting tied down by a bond that’s so loose it could break at the slightest tremor, but Jin does cross his mind often. His kindness has affected him more than he would outwardly admit, and as the weeks drag by he’s beginning to realize how uncommon generosity and kindness truly is on this godforsaken planet.

 

The snide civilians kick him or spit on him if he gets too close for their liking, and forget grabbing at people’s clothes. One would think the very air he breaths his contaminated with viral AIDS and he’s capable of passing along a fatal infection at the mere contact of another person.

 

About three weeks after first meeting Jin, he dares to send a text message. It’s just a simple, lame, ‘how are you?’ but he couldn’t think of anything else to say. What does he say to a man who has shown him nothing but pure, compassionate regard when he has so little to give back to him? He stresses that perhaps he should’ve messaged him sooner – struck while the kettle was hot or something. It seems so random to be texting him now, after three weeks.

 

What if Jin has already forgotten him? It’s likely, being in his third year of university he probably has a lot of responsibility on his plate at the moment. Shit – what was he thinking, burdening Jin like this?

 

‘I’ve been well, how about you? :)’

 

Taehyung blinks at the screen once, twice, before a large, beaming grin stretches across his face. He’s struck with the feeling that this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 

 

*~*~*

 

 

The city of Seoul hits its prime when the sun goes down. It becomes a wonderland of flashing lights and speeding cars, with its cafes open till midnight and its shopping centers running well into the early hours of the morning. It can be both enchanting and aggravating at times – depends on who you are. For Taehyung, a scavenger of the streets for a solid five years now, the constant noise and never dwindling lights are all but a hindrance to him when he’s scouring for a place to sleep for the night. He’s certain he could find plenty of quiet areas to slumber further out of the heart of Seoul, but less people meant less food, and less food meant likely starvation.

 

He rubs his hands together and breathes hot air into his cupped fingers. The days are cool but the nights are cooler, as harsh and unforgiving as the winter looming in the near distance, ready to lash out its icy tongue.

 

Taehyung will be ready though. He’s endured four winters out on the streets and he’s endured through every one of them kicking and determined. If there’s one thing about his measly existence Kim Taehyung can brag about, it’s his will to persevere. He doesn’t believe he’ll be on the streets forever. He’ll find his own way in this world, but first he has to trudge through all the hardships life throws his way. In the end, he’s positive he will be rewarded.

 

He had checked the usual sleeping areas under a couple of bridges and a small pocket of space between a mall and a grocery store, but found them to be occupied by either junkies, other homeless, or stray animals. He knows better than to take his chances. He’s better off finding an abandoned alleyway, which fortunately, the city of Seoul is abundant with. Junkies are generally loud, some dangerous, and although most homeless people are kind and understanding, they can be rather possessive of their few possessions, food or sleeping spaces alike. Stray animals are out of the question – the last thing Taehyung needs is to get himself bitten or scratched. That motherfucker will kill.

 

The street he scours runs off a major road. It’s quiet and surreal, with steam stringing up from chimneys and potholes, the city noise numbing to a minimum. Taehyung deems it a perfect sleeping area and immediately goes about peeking into alleyways to see if he can find a relatively clean place to sleep. He has a ratty blanket rolled up under his arm and half a can of coffee he bought with the spare change he had made earlier in the day. He intends to finish it as soon as he finds somewhere comfortable to settle for the night.

 

Across the road he hears the ring of a restaurant door opening and it seizes his attention. It comes from one of those cheap Chinese take-out eateries with a red neon light out the front saying: ‘Open.’ Of course it is a place he recognizes, but it's the people who step out of the joint that pique his curiosity.

 

There’s an infamous gang known among the homeless and the poor, but Taehyung refers to them as ‘people to avoid on the streets.’ He knows all their names and their faces, and he also knows what they’ve done to gain their graceless reputation. He sees them around from time to time, and knows well to steer clear of them at all costs. He doesn’t like what they’re involved with or the stories and legends that follow them, and for the most part, Taehyung has been able to live in peace.

 

When he sees Kim Yukwon walk out of the eatery, he isn’t surprised to see his little toy in tandem. Yukwon is a typical-looking street gangster, with a stylish, bleach-blonde combover, claws for earrings and sleeve tattoos that annex his skin from shoulder to wrist.

 

Taehyung rarely sees the gang members individually loitering around. They’re almost always with each other, but whenever Taehyung spies Yukwon separate from his posse, he has his toy with him – the toy being a young boy. He looks to be in his late teens, his head always bowed demurely as he’s being strung along by his less than gentlemanly boyfriend, whom no doubt smacks him around when no one is looking.

 

It is a bold presumption perhaps, but Taehyung knows all the telltale signs of an abuse victim. He’s seen it before – Hell, he’s lived it. He’s seen the marks Yukwon leaves on his toy, the bruises, the scars. The poor thing is like a lifeless ragdoll in Yukwon’s presence, void of opinion, void of light, void of anything.

 

He remembers that feeling of hopelessness, it almost seems like a distant dream nowadays, but he still finds it difficult to look at the boy. He’s been with Yukwon for a while now – Taehyung can tell by how broken he has become, so utterly lifeless. It’s hard to watch. It’s kind of like witnessing a train slowly barreling towards a car parked on the railway tracks, waiting for its inevitable doom.

 

Yukwon is snapping something in his toy’s ear, clutching him by his bicep harshly. The boy squirms, his downturned expression twisting with fear, but Taehyung can’t look.

 

He keeps searching for a place to sleep. He wanders into a few of alleys, but the first one he investigates smells ghastly and the second one is all wet.

 

A masculine voice picks up volume, echoing off the walls of a confined space. His eyes wander over to the opposite side of the street again. Yukwon and his toy are gone, but the booming voice from a nearby alleyway tells him they haven’t strayed far. Taehyung glances around to see if anybody is nearby, only to find prickling isolation.

 

He’s the only other person in the street.

 

He’s tempted to just keep searching somewhere else, there’s likely to be heaps of other quiet streets running off of this one.

 

But curiosity sings to him, coaxing him across the road toward the dreaded alleyway.

 

The voice is louder upon approach, riddled with so much thunderous anger that it elicits a shudder down his spine. It’s eerily similar to a ghost from his past, but he immediately shoves away the correlation as he peeks into the alley from behind a brick wall.

 

Yukwon has backed his toy up against the wall, a hand next to the boy’s head, making him look smaller and weaker than he probably is. The boy cowers slightly under his boyfriend’s presence, never once lifting his head as he hides behind a tuft of silky black strands, nibbling nervously at his fingernails.

 

“- is there that you could possibly want? Isn’t the money I make good enough for you? Why would you suggest something like that in the first place, huh? Answer me you little bitch!” Taehyung flinches at the same time the boy does beneath the derogatory slur, but he still doesn’t dare to look up.

 

“I just – I’m sorry – It was just – just a suggestion,” the boy is near incoherent and seems to be on the verge of hyperventilating. His hands are trembling as he presses himself against the wall, tempted to get as much distance between himself and his aggressive boyfriend.

 

Suggestions always stem from desires – you’ve been thinking about this for a long time, haven’t you? Haven’t you?” Yukwon snarls, inching their faces a little closer. He’s sure the boy has just been on the brunt of some serious spray.

 

“O-only since Tuesday,” Yukwon’s toy admits in a small, meek voice – so small in fact, that Taehyung almost misses it.

 

“Is this because of the argument I had with the landlord?” Yukwon’s voice takes a dive. Now it sounds low and dangerous.

 

“You – you were struggling to pay the bills Yukwon I just – I wanted to help out – ”

 

“You think finding a job will help? Look at you – you’re pathetic. You couldn’t hold up a job even if your life depended on it. Why would anyone want to hire you? You’re dumb and lazy and above all – you’re inconsiderate. You don’t appreciate all the shit I do for you.” Yukwon’s voice is so nasty and demeaning that Taehyung feels small just watching him from a distance, he could only imagine how the young boyfriend feels.

 

“No!” The boy snaps his head up for the first time, eyes wide and glassy, his tiny mouth falling agape. “I do appreciate you Kwonnie, I do – I really do!”

 

“Bullshit!” the gangster snaps and his toy withdraws. “I feed you, I clothe you, I pay the bills and let you live under my roof like the freeloader that you are, and somehow – you still find it in yourself to strut around like we’re equals. I’ve half a mind to strap a collar around that neck of yours because you’re no better than a mangy, useless dog.”

 

Taehyung can’t watch this any longer.

 

From what he’s gathered, Yukwon is being horrendously irrational. He can tell, even from a distance, that every insult he throws in his boyfriend’s face is like another twist of the knife embedded into his self-esteem. It’s obvious that the boy’s confidence is about as stable as a house of cards, teetering precariously upon a table Yukwon has all but smashed into little, tiny splinters. It’s painful to watch the exchange, because Taehyung knows he shouldn’t emotionally invest in a situation that has nothing to do with him in the first place. He sees a lot of tragedy and horror on the streets, and the best course of action is to remain passive.

 

He turns away just as the toy squeaks out some sort of frantic response, but as he takes a step, a gruesome snap has Taehyung freezing mid-step.

 

A cold chill caresses the back of his neck. Silence blankets the heavy atmosphere, and he slowly looks over his shoulder to see the boy clutching his cheek, Yukwon standing over him like a looming shadow. It’s clear to see that Yukwon had slapped him.

 

The fucking monster had slapped his boyfriend.

 

“Please – I’m sorry I – ” the fist comes next; snapping forward so fast that the boy doesn’t see it coming, colliding with his jaw and cutting off his apology. Yukwon has become immune to whatever his toy beseeches, because even as the boy shakes his head and begs for mercy, he punches him again, and again.

 

The teen tries to jerk away but Yukwon’s fingers tangle in his black hair, holding him up so that he lands a few more punches on his face before aiming lower. Taehyung stands there rigidly as the gangster strikes at the boy’s stomach, forcing him to double over and cry out softly, too winded to find volume in his voice.

 

“What’s this about you skipping school again? I thought I told ya – there’s no point paying for your bloody education if you aren’t gonna even show up for class!”

 

“P-please! No – I won’t do it again – ”

 

“Ungrateful little slut,” Yukwon spits angrily, shoving his boyfriend hard against the brick wall. “What else could you possibly want that I can’t afford?” He punches. “A mansion?” He punches again. “A diamond watch?” Blood starts trickling down from the boy’s nose, so eerily stark against his pale skin. His bottom lip is wobbling and his eyes are brimmed with tears, but he bravely attempts to hold them in against the onslaught of abuse.

 

“You’re just like your fucking mother – you don’t give a fuck about your old man, do ya? The whole fucking world revolves around you.”

 

“Dad… have you been drinking again…?”

 

“Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

 

“Yu-Yukwon I’m sorry – I’m sorry – ” Yukwon pulls his fist back all the way, and this time his boyfriend sees it coming, but he doesn’t even try to stop it from slamming against his solar plexus. The impact is so horrendous that the boy’s jaw drops and his eyes roll to the back of his head. He falls to his knees, and Yukwon let’s him with an ugly sneer.

 

Taehyung still can’t move, his entire being frozen in a time that isn’t entirely present.

 

“A B-minus? What’s this piece of crap? Are you planning on pissing away the education I work so hard to give you?”

 

“Dad – I’ll try harder – it’s just, I’ve never been good at English. It’s really hard.”

 

“Do you think I give a rat’s ass? How can you amount to anything if you don’t get straight A’s?”

 

The boy folds onto his side on the cold, merciless ground, sobbing hard. His crying seems to spur Yukwon’s fury on, because instead of stopping he lifts his knee and starts kicking him. The gangster’s leather boot makes a loud thud as it collides with the boy’s body, and the toy whimpers and continues to spout out strings of broken apologies that Taehyung isn’t entirely sure make sense.

 

But when Yukwon starts to stamp down on the boy’s side like he’s no better than the dirt beneath his shoes, Taehyung’s finger twitches. He gradually starts to gain control over his own body again, and with it, a cold, embedded wrath that has his limbs trembling precariously.

 

Instead of Yukwon standing over his boyfriend, he suddenly sees his father and a younger version of himself in much the same situation. His father’s hands are balled into fists and he’s crying and screaming and begging for it all to end, but no matter how much he pleads it never seems to quench his father’s rage. He’s young and he’s vulnerable and he can’t protect himself against the tormentor that he has to live with day in and day out. There’s no one around to protect him – no mother to hold him as he cries, no savior to take away the pain and the hatred and the resentment he carries.

 

He can’t remember entering the alley, nor can he remember throwing Yukwon down and punching him over and over and over again until his fists are streaked with his blood. It’s like his memory has blacked out his bursting fit of rage and skipped to the end, when the anger has fizzled down to a slight pounding in his temple and Yukwon is stumbling away, throwing curses over his shoulder like the pitiful coward that he is.

 

A small breeze lets Taehyung know that his cheeks are streaked with tears he doesn’t remember shedding. His surroundings become white noise as he processes the mess of crimson on his knuckles and the dark splatter on his clothes. His breathing is raspy and thick and he starts to cough violently, forcing back a dry wretch.

 

The small movement out the corner of his eye reminds Taehyung that he isn’t alone in the alley.

 

He snaps his head to the side – to the boy that's lying not too far away, his expression marred with pain as he struggles to breathe. He doesn’t think twice against crawling over to the boy’s side, placing his hands gently on the boy’s face and assessing the damage. His pretty face is starting to swell, his lip is busted and his nose is still gushing blood that trickles down over his chin. His eyes are closed but he’s still shedding tears, his breathing mostly just wheezing by this point.

 

“Oh shit – hang on – hang in there,” Taehyung starts searching his pockets hurriedly for the phone Jin gave him. “I’ll – I’ll call my hyung, he’ll know what to do.”

 

The boy doesn’t respond – not that he is really expecting him to, but it’s scary. He’s so eerily motionless that, if not for his ragged breathing, he could’ve been mistaken for a dead body.

 

He finally manages to fish out his phone with fumbling fingers, hitting Jin’s speed dial and holding the phone up against his ear. He stares at the boy as the tone rings, wanting to provide some sort of comfort but not knowing how. He’s scared to take the boy in his arms, scared to hold him in case he causes any damage. He doesn’t know the amount of damage Yukwon has inflicted, but he’s certain something is broken.

 

“Tae?” He sighs with relief when Jin picks up after the fifth ring. “Is everything alright?” He sounds worried.

 

“Hyung…” his voice catches in his throat. Why won’t the boy open his eyes? “I need you, hyung…” a sob wrenches past his lips and he’s shaking, he’s shaking so violently that he can barely maintain his grip on the phone.

 

“Where are you? What happened?” The panic escalates in Jin’s tone. If his hands weren’t covered in someone else’s blood, perhaps he would’ve found the will to smile at how much his hyung cares about him.

 

“I… I witnessed something, hyung… I’m here – I’m here with a boy. He’s hurt… he’s really hurt, hyung,” he whimpers, reaching out to brush the fringe of raven hair out of the boy’s eyes. He responds with a subtle but cute frown. How could Yukwon be so cruel to someone so harmless? “What… what do I do?”

 

There’s a pause on the other end of the line. “Is he breathing?”

 

“I… it’s hard to tell… I think something’s wrong. He was… he was beaten up pretty badly,” Taehyung frowns, fighting off the scene playing out in his mind. It’s a memory he’d rather not revisit so soon – if ever.

 

“Call an ambulance. Tell them to take you to Samsung Medical Center. Namjoon and I will meet you there.”

 

“Yes OK… I – I’ll see you soon, hyung,” he responds slowly, reluctant to hang up and be left alone to deal with the situation.

 

“Stay strong, Taehyung,” then he hangs up.

 

The boy starts coughing and it’s clear by his countenance that he’s suffering greatly. Taehyung cards his hand through the boy’s soft hair as he dials 119, murmuring soft reassurances he isn’t sure can be heard. He stares at the face of the teen and absently thinks about the abuse he went through, wondering if it was anything close to the horror this boy has endured.

 

Probably not.

 

“Hello 119, what is your emergency?”

 

“I need an ambulance… my… my friend is badly hurt…”

 

 

*~*~*

 

Taehyung waits anxiously in the waiting room, fiddling with the fabric of his baggy pant legs that billow around his ankles. His eyes sporadically glance towards the large double doors at the end of the hallway, the very doors where the boy had been wheeled away on a gurney, surrounded by ER nurses.

 

The situation had been terribly dramatic – more so when the ambulance showed up and whisked them off in a frantic hurry. One of the paramedics attempted to assess him, but Taehyung had vehemently insisted that they aid the injured boy. He could only imagine how it looked, with his hands all bloodied and the teen beaten to a sickening pulp, but at the time he hadn’t cared what the paramedics might have presumed. He hadn’t cared about anything but the welfare of a boy he doesn’t even know the name of.

 

He doesn’t know why he cares. He doesn’t even know why he bothered to help. If he were to ask Jin, he’d probably pat him on the back and tell him it’s because he’s a decent human being, but Taehyung thinks it’s a little more complicated than that.

 

When Yukwon had taken things a step further, when he had breached the threshold between yelling to physical violence, something inside of Taehyung had geared into motion. It was like he was watching a scene from his past – the past he had left behind a long time ago. His father is standing over him, overbearing, aggressive, authoritative; and he’s cowering, vulnerable, defenseless, young. He saw the fear in the boy’s eyes as Yukwon brought his fist down upon him; he saw the anguish and pain on his face when he fell to the cold, hard ground.

 

Taehyung thinks he cares because he can relate to this boy, he can relate to his fear and his vulnerability better than most people, because he has walked in his shoes before. He knows what it’s like to be scared of someone he should be able to trust. He knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of wrath, coiling into a ball and hoping to God that he doesn’t get hit in the face, because then he has to think of an excuse to tell his teachers the next day.

 

It’s awful, to live under the same roof as a monster. As much as he hated his father, he had, on some level, relied on him for food and clothes – even if it meant going to school without his lunch some days. He had found his escape though – taking to the streets for salvation and never once looking back. Not when it was subzero degrees and he was freezing his ass off, not when it was sweltering hot and the sidewalk burned the soles of his feet – not once did he ever contemplate returning to the Hell his father had created.

 

As for the boyfriend’s situation, Taehyung could only guess the nature of the relationship without any solid facts. The only thing he knows for sure is that Yukwon bashes his boyfriend over trivial disagreements.

 

“Taehyung! Oh thank God!” He lifts his head in time to see Jin and Namjoon entering the waiting room. The wealthy CFO speed walks over to him hastily, squatting in front of him and taking his face into his nurturing hands. Jin is worried; it’s obvious by the scrunch of his eyebrows and his thinned lips, his eyes jumping around Taehyung’s features attempting to detect any damage.

 

He removes Jin’s hands, shaking his head. “Hyung, I’m fine – ”

 

“Your hands!” the older man seizes his wrists and flips them over, his mouth falling agape. Namjoon comes up behind Jin, peering over with a concerned frown.

 

“The Hell? Did you try practicing martial arts on a tree stump again?” Taehyung shoots the silver-haired carpenter an unimpressed look.

 

Jin rolls his eyes, bouncing back to his feet and settling down in the seat beside Taehyung, his bloodied hands still securely in his own. Namjoon crosses his arms over his chest and regards Taehyung expectantly, and it takes him a moment to realize they’re waiting for an explanation.

 

He sighs. “I was just looking around for a place to sleep when I stumbled upon a man yelling at his partner.” He doesn’t mention Yukwon’s name – he came to this decision before the couple had even showed up. The less the gangster is mentioned the better, in Taehyung’s street-professional opinion. “He’s… he’s young… younger than me, I think. He was scared and apologizing and trying to calm his boyfriend down but he just kept getting angrier and angrier and then – and then just out of nowhere the bastard starts whaling on the kid and I – I just…”

 

Jin squeezes his hand reassuringly. “Take your time, Tae. There’s no rush.”

 

“I froze, hyung.” He buries his face in his hands, ashamed that he had allowed the abuse to go for as long as it had. Maybe if he had stepped in sooner, the boy wouldn’t be in the Emergency Room at this very moment.

 

“It’s normal,” Jin says gently, rubbing circles into his back. “You were thinking of your father, weren’t you? It’s miraculous that you even found the will to step in. Most people would have just run away.”

 

“I wanted to run away,” Taehyung says quietly, gritting his teeth. “I was a coward.”

 

“Are you kidding me? What you did was heroic, Taehyung. You probably saved the boy’s life.” Taehyung has a hard time believing Jin’s words, but he keeps his mouth shut. He’s too tired to argue.

 

Namjoon sits down on the other side of him, seizing one of his hands to graze his thumb of the damaged knuckles. “You did more than just freeze, didn’t you?” he asked calmly.

 

Taehyung exhales sharply.

 

“Something happened to me… I… It’s hard to explain, but one minute I’m standing there, watching everything unfold, and then the next minute – I’ve beaten up the man and my hands are all bloody…” he stares at his hands. The blood has since dried and cracked on his skin, turning a repulsive burgundy that’s difficult to even look at. “I… I blacked out for a bit… I don’t remember interfering…”

 

Jin and Namjoon share a glance that doesn’t slip past Taehyung’s observation.

 

“Maybe we’ll come back to that later, OK?” Jin says slowly, cautiously, and Taehyung numbly nods his head in response.

 

They sit in the Emergency Room for a while – an hour or two at the most, he doesn’t know, he can’t bring himself to glance at the clock. Namjoon goes and gets them coffees from the hospital café and Taehyung is reminded of the things he must’ve dropped at some point earlier this evening – his blanket and half a can of coffee. Had he dropped it when he confronted Yukwon, or had it been when the assault first began? He mentally sighs. He’s never going to see that scraggly, worn-out blanket of his again, he’d bet his clothes on it.

 

Taehyung releases a breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding when the doors to the waiting room finally open, revealing a nurse skimming over the pages on her clipboard. Automatically, he stands up, Jin and Namjoon following suit. The nurse scans over them before settling on Jin, a spark of recognition passing over her face.

 

“Oh! Seokjin-ssi! What are you doing at the hospital after hours?” She appears pleasantly surprised, and the CFO of the hospital takes a step forward, bowing slightly in greeting.

 

“Hyorin-ssi,” he acknowledges warmly. “I’m here with my friend,” he makes a gesture towards Taehyung, who lingers patiently in the background, blatantly uninterested in the friendly exchange.

 

“Ah, are you Kim Taehyung? You were with the young male patient paramedics picked up an hour ago?” She peers curiously over at him, and Taehyung sees it as his cue to step forward, nodding seriously.

 

“Yes, I’m Kim Taehyung,” he confirms passively.

 

“Your friend has been moved to ICU, you’re free to see him now.”

 

Nurse Hyorin told them which room and Jin lead the way, knowing the hospital and its layout better than anyone else. They take the elevator up a floor and Taehyung can barely contain his anticipation, drumming his fingers against his thigh, gnawing on his bottom lip and breathing so heavily Namjoon had asked him if he had picked up a cold. He bolts ahead of them as soon as the elevator doors open, almost tripping over an older man with a walking stick and causing chaos. It only took a couple of corridors for Taehyung to realize he has no idea where he’s going and begrudgingly regrouped with Jin and Namjoon, who were patiently waiting for his inevitable return.

 

“That’s the room,” Jin indicates towards a door to the far right and Taehyung jogs to get there, as though his very being depended on getting there sooner rather than later. Namjoon writes off his odd mannerism as Taehyung simply being Taehyung. The kid has always been a bit four-dimensional. Jin finds it a little disconcerting.

 

Just as his fingers graze the knob it opens from the other side, and a surprised doctor greets them, clad in a white coat and a stethoscope around his neck.

 

“Who – ”

 

“Baemin-nim,” Jin greets with a charismatic smile. Taehyung mentally rolls his eyes, taking a step back to let the doctor step out of the room. Is there anyone in this damn hospital Jin doesn’t know?

 

“Seokjin-ssi!” The doctor bows.

 

“How’s the family?” Jin just has to be polite, doesn’t he?

 

“They’re good, they’re good. My daughter has come down with a cold though – winter truly is on it’s way.”

 

“It really is,” Jin agrees with a modest smile.

 

“Is there anything I can do for you? Have you come to visit my patient?” The doctor’s eyes slide to Taehyung, who is quite rudely tapping his foot with his hips cocked to the side.

 

“Yes we have, if that’s OK?” Taehyung wants to scream at Jin for his formalities because of course it’s OK the nurse said we could see him what are you doing –

 

“Yes it is. Although Seokjin-ssi, I must ask you whether I should report what I have found to the police,” the doctor says in a low voice, eyes glancing around to ensure no one could hear them.

 

“Why’s that, Baemin-nim?” Jin frowns, alarmed by the sudden suggestion.

 

“This boy has suffered through long-term abuse. I have a moral duty to report it.”

 

“No.” Three pairs of eyes slide to Taehyung, whose staring at the closed door like it's the single most important thing on this earth.

 

“I beg your pardon?” The doctor looks confused, and Jin is quick to swoop in.

 

“I think it’s best we talk it over with him first. If he wants to press charges against the man who did this to him, we’ll be sure to get the police involved,” Jin explains dutifully. The doctor’s suspicious leer lingers on Taehyung for about half a second before he succumbs to Jin’s trustworthy personality.

 

He gives a small smile, tucking his clipboard under his armpit. “If that is what you think, Seokjin-ssi, then I trust you will take care of it.”

 

“I will.”

 

Once the doctor is out of sight Namjoon takes it upon himself to slap Taehyung upside the head.

 

“Ow! What was that for?” He exclaims grumpily, rubbing tenderly at the stinging sore spot.

 

“Do you not realize how suspicious you came across? Or are you just that clueless?” Namjoon hisses. “You were found with the victim, your knuckles are bloody and you just denied police involvement – what’s wrong with you?”

 

“You don't get – you don’t know what it’s like!” Taehyung snaps, shoving past Namjoon and boldly marching into the hospital room before Jin can snatch him back into the hallway to inevitably give him a lecture.

 

“Hey-!” Jin and Namjoon stumble in after him, but the couple fall silent on any further complaints once they see Taehyung turn still, standing a few feet from the hospital bed. The younger is eerily silent, his frame rigid and his shoulders tense. They can’t see his expression.

 

“Jesus,” Namjoon mumbles under his breath, pausing once he’s reached Taehyung’s side and venturing no further than that. Jin immediately goes to the chart hanging at the foot of the bed and starts skimming over the details, his expression grave.

 

“Hyung,” Taehyung chokes, eyes never leaving the boy lying motionless on the bed, breathing into an oxygen mask hooked up to a machine that’s making strange noises. He hadn’t thought it would be so serious, but he had a sick feeling in his gut while waiting to see him, a little qualm that something wasn’t right.

 

“He’s going to be fine, Taehyung,” Jin assures with a sigh of relief.

 

Namjoon shuffles over to peer at the chart. “What’s the damage?”

 

“Broken ribs on his left side, collapsed lung, internal bleeding and multiple bruising… nothing appears to be life threatening, but it’ll be a painful recovery,” Jin sighs, slotting the chart back into its holder. He notices Taehyung hasn’t moved yet and places a hand on his shoulder supportively. “Do you need to sit down?”

 

Taehyung doesn’t need to say anything before Namjoon pulls up a chair from the corner of the room and beckons him to sit. The younger sinks onto the seat, scooting a little closer to the side of the bed, but still being attentive to the wires and the IV drip. The boy’s face is swollen in places that disfigure his youthful countenance and is beyond recognition. From experience Taehyung can deduce that the swelling should be gone in a couple of days, but the sight is gruesome nevertheless. It disturbs him greatly.

 

“Do you know his name?” Jin attempts conversation, finding the silence somewhat unbearable.

 

“No, but I’ve seen him around with his boyfriend,” Taehyung replies quietly. “I knew he was being abused the moment I saw him… He always had bruises and would only ever look at his feet… His boyfriend is a pig. No matter what the boy did his boyfriend would get annoyed or angry, but this was the first time I actually saw the abuse. It confirmed my… my suspicions, I guess.”

 

Jin nods in understanding, crossing his arms over his chest. “Now that your suspicions are confirmed, what are you going to do?”

 

“I don’t know,” Taehyung answers honestly.

 

“What can he do?” Namjoon interjects. “He doesn’t even know the kid’s name. What’s the point of getting involved in something that has nothing to do with you?” Jin shoots his partner a reprimanding look. “What?”

 

“No. I’ll do something,” Taehyung decides firmly. “I don’t know what yet, but I’ll figure something out. It’s my business now – I’ve made it my business. I can’t just walk away, I can’t ignore it any longer – I won’t.”

 

“Taehyung,” Jin says softly, “are you sure about this?” His voice is neither disapproving nor supportive, simply curious.

 

“Yes. Yes I am.”

 

Taehyung stays by the boy’s side for hours, Namjoon and Jin coming and going, sleeping on the couches or taking turns to go down to the cafeteria for food and coffee. He doesn’t leave his seat, slouching against the backrest with his hands laced over his tummy, weaving in and out of a light slumber that occasionally gets disturbed by his friends or the nurses. Thanks to Jin’s connections he’s been able to hang around so long as he doesn’t get in the way, so he supposes Jin’s socialite disposition isn’t that bad after all.

 

The morning sun starts peeking in through the curtains when the boy’s lashes start to flutter. Taehyung is thankfully awake to witness the spectacle, but unfortunately Jin has already left to start his shift early and Namjoon has gone to get them breakfast. He straightens up in his chair and vehemently ignores the kink aching at the back of his neck, grinning uncontrollably when one of the boy’s eyes crack open – the one that hasn’t swollen itself shut. The teen squints under the harsh light, letting out a small groan before slowly lifting his hand, his fingers brushing over the oxygen mask. Taehyung immediately snatches his wrist, stopping him from trying to take it off.

 

The boy is so exhausted that he barely reacts to the dirty homeless boy. Taehyung doesn’t know why he finds this amusing.

 

“Hey, hey,” he greets gently, leaning over and totally invading the boy’s personal space. The boy makes a funny gurgling noise and his eye widens, attempting to jerk away only to flinch violently. “No – don’t move! You’re gonna hurt yourself!”

 

It looks like the boy wants to say something – likely a complaint of some sort, but it comes out as nothing but a small groan. Taehyung leans even closer, the tip of his nose brushing the oxygen mask. This time the boy doesn’t bother jostling away, obediently lying still and staring at him curiously.

 

“Can you speak?”

 

The boy considers this for a moment, making experimental guttural noises before rasping out a small, “yes.”

 

“Can you tell me your name?” Bombarding the victim with questions as soon as he awakens is probably not the wisest thing, but it’s a question that has been taunting him all night. He’s sick of referring to him as ‘Yukwon’s boyfriend,’ because he knows he’s so much more than that. He’s an individual with a story and a past, and Taehyung needs to place a name to his face – it’s become an absolute necessity.

 

The boy blinks at him slowly, saying something that he doesn’t quite catch.

 

“What?”

 

The teen groans before circling his fingers around the mask – against Taehyung protests, creating a small gap so that his voice could be heard clearer. Taehyung leans so close that his ear brushes against the boy’s cheek, but if the other is uncomfortable he doesn’t show it.

 

He speaks in barely over a whisper, but he catches the name “Jungkook” just before his fingers slip and the mask snaps back into place.

 

“Jungkook,” he repeats, testing it on the tip of his tongue. He likes that name.

 

Jungkook.

 

 

*~*~*

 

 

During Jungkook’s brief time in ICU (twenty-four hours, give or take), Taehyung had introduced him to his friends Seokjin and Namjoon. He didn’t know who they were or why they were with Taehyung, but then again, Taehyung had yet to explain why the hell he is here as well.

 

He doesn’t really get around to talking all that much, mostly just nodding or shaking his head to questions as he struggles to keep the lone eye open long enough to piece together what happened to him.

 

Of course he doesn’t need prompting to know who put him in this hospital bed, but he was more worried about why Yukwon hadn’t shown himself yet. He can’t recall what happened after he blacked out - only a few snippets here and there that don’t quite add up in his head. He’s tempted to interrogate Taehyung, who seems to be avoiding what had happened last night like leprosy, but the nurses keep scolding him whenever he tries to remove the mask. He swears they’re like blood hounds, always knowing when to show up and scold him.

 

Taehyung doesn’t leave his side though. His friends come and go - they appear older and have obligations and responsibilities that they can’t ignore, but Taehyung seems to let the hours waste away like he has nowhere else to be.

 

He talks a lot, igniting the hospital room with his pleasant voice. He likes the sound of his voice. It’s deep and it’s soothing, with the occasional spike whenever he starts babbling about something he finds interesting, like dogs wearing bowties or playing Friday Night at Freddy’s on a Thursday night because “life’s too short to play by the rules!”

 

Ordinarily Jungkook would find Taehyung weird, but since he finds himself unable to reciprocate much of the conversation, he simply lies there for the most part, taking in the spectacle that is Kim Taehyung. He might just be the weirdest person Jungkook has ever met.

 

That being said, he would have fit in well with his middle school friends.

 

‘Friends…’ He’s forgotten what it’s like to have a friend. He lost contact with the ones he had after he dropped out of school.

 

When he’s moved to the Recovery Unit he can finally take the stupid oxygen mask off. Taehyung comes with him and Jin oversees the transfer for some reason - he has a feeling Jin works at the hospital but hasn’t gotten around to asking him yet.

 

With the freedom to speak he finally has the opportunity to sate his curiosity, only, he’s exhausted. He was transferred so late, and the day has been anything but relaxing with strangers coming into his room every so often to check his vitals and his condition.

 

About the only person that didn’t exasperate him was Taehyung, which is odd, because he was constantly with him throughout the day. His interest and level of care should concern him, but it doesn’t. He likes how Taehyung treats him - like he’s normal, like he isn’t in the hospital because he suffered a serious assault.

 

In spite of his wishes, he falls asleep. It’s a wonderful, dreamless sleep, void of any stress or insecurities festering at the back of his mind. When he wakes up it’s only a few hours later.

 

It’s still dark outside, and the room is relatively dark with the exception of the lights emitting from the machines. He tries moving his legs, which have started to ache from lack of stimulation, but the blankets have caught under a mysterious weight. He groggily lulls his head to the side to find Taehyung sleeping, resting his head on top of his folded arms on the edge of the bed. He looks a lot cleaner than he had back in ICU. He must’ve had a shower at some point while he was asleep.

 

Jungkook dares to lean over and sniff the young man’s hair. Yes, he definitely had a shower. Instead of garbage, Taehyung now smells like cheap shampoo - a pleasant upgrade, in his opinion.

 

A husky chuckle gives Jungkook a fright. Taehyung peeks out from under his arms, amusement glistening in his pretty crescents. “I smell better, don’t I?”

 

“Y-You were awake?” Jungkook looks away, attempting - and failing - to fight down his flustered embarrassment.

 

“I’ve always been a bit of a light sleeper,” Taehyung divulges humorously, “being homeless and all.”

 

“You never told me that,” he says softly.

 

“Oh?” the brunette looks up at the ceiling thoughtfully. “I guess it must’ve slipped my mind. Hope it doesn’t bother you or anything.”

 

“Wh-what? No! Of course it doesn’t!” Jungkook denies a little too quickly and a little too loudly, and he instantly slaps a hand over his mouth, his face positively glowing with humiliation. “I - I mean - ” Taehyung leans forward before he can make an even bigger fool of himself, ruffling Jungkook’s raven locks with a wide grin.

 

“You’re cute!”

 

“I am not,” he grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

Taehyung snickers, not in the least bit convinced, leaning back in his chair. It dawns on Jungkook that this is the first time they’ve actually had a proper conversation - not just Taehyung chatting his ear off while he patiently listens. He kind of… likes it. “You haven’t told me why you’re here.”

 

“Huh?” Taehyung looks confused.

 

“You know… why you’re here… with me… You’ve been here the whole time, haven’t you?” Jungkook is admittedly a little flustered at the concept. Why would Taehyung insist on staying by his side? He doesn’t owe him anything, does he?

 

Taehyung scratches the back of his head, looking charmingly sheepish. “I guess I left that part out too, didn’t I?”

 

“You mostly talked about how cute otters were… and Japanese pudding…” He smiles fondly.

 

Taehyung throws his head back and lets out a laugh, clapping his hands goofily before falling forward, nuzzling his face into the blankets by Jungkook’s leg. He has a nice laugh. It’s deep and harmonious.

 

“I got a bit carried away. I’m sorry,” he rests the side of his face against the mattress, toying with the fabric between his long, graceful fingers. He has some dirt under his fingernails that need attending to, but since he’s homeless it’s a miracle that Taehyung has been able to keep them so clean.

 

“I saw it,” his face becomes serious quickly, his handsome smile vanishing. Jungkook instantly misses it. “I saw what happened to you… in the alleyway.”

 

Oh.” Jungkook looks away, his hands fisting at the blankets.

 

“I’ve seen you around with Yukwon before.” Jungkook glances at Taehyung.

 

“You know Yukwon?” he asks curiously.

 

“I know of him, yes. He’s made quite a name for himself on the streets.” Ah, of course Taehyung has heard of him before. He probably knows all about the gangsters.

 

“That doesn’t surprise me,” he responds quietly, dropping his gaze.

 

“I… I stepped in and chased him off,” Taehyung continues apprehensively. It seems Jungkook isn’t the only one who isn’t keen on recalling the incident. “You were hurt so badly that I had to call an ambulance. I came with you because… because I wanted to make sure you were OK, I guess.”

 

A small smile twitches at the edge of his lips. “That was… kind of you. Th-thank you.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t say anything, he seems to have fallen captive to his own thoughts. Jungkook lets him wonder for a while, leaning back against his pillow and squirming to get a little more comfortable. It isn’t easy, constantly lying on his back. Part of him just wants to roll over onto his side, but he knows even attempting such a thing could cause more damage than good.

 

Everywhere hurts. He hasn’t had a chance to see himself in a mirror yet, but he knows he isn’t going to like what he sees. He can feel the bruises on his torso, and the ache in his side is becoming a little hard to ignore. The nurses have been giving him pills to take every couple of hours. Apparently he has quite violent internal bleeding.

 

“Where will you go?” Taehyung suddenly asks him. Jungkook blinks, averting his gaze back to the boy resting his head.

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

“Where will you go, after you’ve recovered?” There’s nothing in Taehyung’s eyes that reveal what he’s thinking. He’s a total mask of nonchalance that Jungkook has difficulty reading.

 

“Back home,” he answers honestly.

 

“Back to Yukwon?”

 

“Ye-”

 

“I can’t let you do that.” Taehyung doesn’t even let him finish. Jungkook’s eyebrows shoot past his fringe in surprise.

 

“And why not?” He doesn’t care if he sounds defensive. He barely knows Taehyung. He’s not in a position to make that call.

 

“If you go back to him, he will kill you, Jungkook.” He straightens in his chair, propping his arms up on the cradle bars that cage him in.

 

“You can’t know that for sure,” Jungkook fires back.

 

“I do, actually.” The finality in his tone matches Taehyung’s actual age.

 

For the most part, he has been chatting away like a bubbly twelve year old since Jungkook had woken up, but now he’s showing a side to himself he hadn’t alluded to before. The sharpness in his gaze, the clenching of his jaw, it all makes him look infinitely manlier.

 

“How…?” Jungkook can feel his resolve weakening. He already knows he isn’t going to win this argument. Maybe because deep inside himself, he already knows it to be true.

 

“Because I know what you’ve been through,” Taehyung confesses, his gaze never wavering. “I know what it’s like to be abused by someone you love. You want to trust them, you wait for the day they’ll finally stop hitting you but you know what, Jungkook? That day is never going to come. If you go back to Yukwon, things will only get worse. I can’t let you do that to yourself… I can’t let you go back to your abuser.”

 

The sincerity in his tone has tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. He frowns, gritting his teeth and trying so hard to will them away. “I… I have nowhere else to go, Taehyung. I have nobody. There’s only Yukwon.”

 

“I’ll figure something out.”

 

“Why are you doing this?!” he yells, fisting the blankets so tightly that his knuckles have turned white. He feels the tears rolling down his face. He couldn’t stop them. “You don’t owe me anything! You saved me in that alley - isn’t that enough? Haven’t you done enough!?”

 

Taehyung doesn’t so much as bat a lash at his outburst, his features hardened with determination. He shakes his head slowly. “When you’re safe it will be enough. It’s true - I don’t owe you anything, but I want to help you, Jungkook.” His hands slides across the blankets to clutch one of Jungkook’s limp ones, encasing it in a warm, nurturing hold. “Please… let me help you. Let me protect you.”

 

Jungkook scrunches his eyes shut, his bottom lip quivering as he desperately fights back a sob. “You-you’re going to do it anyway, aren’t you? N-no matter what I say.”

 

Taehyung chuckles, his eyes gleaming mischievously. “How very perceptive of you, Kookie!”

 

Jungkook tries to laugh, but it comes out as a choked sob. He sits there, crying, because he doesn’t know what else to do. He can’t decide whether he’s overjoyed or confused or anxious, perhaps it’s all three.

 

What he does know for sure though, is that he’s glad Taehyung showed up when he had. He’s finally found a way out.

 

He’s finally found an escape.

 

 

*~*~*

 

 

Jin is surprised when Taehyung shows up at his office. It isn’t a terribly long trek from the Recovery Unit, but the fact that Taehyung even left Jungkook’s hospital room at all is nothing short of a miracle. It’s been days since Jungkook was brought in, and although his injuries are horrendous, he’s been making a speedy recovery. Baemin-nim has informed him he should be eligible for a discharge by the end of the week, which is both fantastic and daunting news.

 

“Tae, you should’ve just texted me,” he chides gently as he sets aside his pen, watching as the younger closes the door behind him. “You didn’t have to leave Jungkook.”

 

“Namjoon-hyung is with him,” Taehyung shrugs, dragging over a chair and sitting himself down in front of the desk. “I also wanted to speak with you in private.”

 

Jin grins amusedly. “You only ever say that when you want something from me.”

 

“Well that’s the thing,” Taehyung rubs the back of his neck. “I do want something from you, but it’s a fairly big ask.”

 

“I’m sure it’s nothing I can’t manage,” he prompts encouragingly.

 

Taehyung sighs, fiddling with his fingers. “I want to know if… you know… the offer still stands? Living with you and Namjoon - I mean.”

 

“Of course. The offer has always been there for you to take, Taehyung.”

 

“Well I’ll take it… on the condition that Jungkook lives with us too.”

 

Jin chuckles, lacing his fingers together. “I’m surprised you even needed to clarify.” He shoots the younger a knowing look and Taehyung blushes. He crosses his arms over his chest and scowls, glaring at his feet.

 

“Shut up, old man.”

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

His heartbeat drums like thunder in his ears. His lungs are taut and he’s short of breath. His ankles scream with every leap and bound he takes along the cracked sidewalk. His ratty old sneakers weren’t designed for this sort of strenuous activity, and neither were his lanky limbs either, apparently. The wind whistles past his ears and his skin is copping a serious case of windburn, but despite the ache and discomfort, he continues on, stumbling around a corner and very nearly tripping over a stray dog in the process. Behind him he hears the screeching of tires as they skid along the bitumen, the mighty roar of an engine causing his heart to do a frightful flip.

 

Curling his clammy hands into fists, he starts swinging his arms vigorously, desperate for any sort of momentum to gain some distance. He’s shoving random people out of the way, ignoring their exclamations and curses thrown back at him. He shoves a couple of trash cans onto the road and their contents spill out and get caught up with the elements, and he prays – oh he prays it did some good at slowing them down.

 

He makes the mistake of looking over his shoulder and watches in horror as the car speeds up, expertly avoiding the strewn trash cans and continuing to stay hot on his heels. He comes to a sudden halt just as the car swerves and bounces up onto the sidewalk before him, successfully blocking his path. He lets out a curse and ducks into an alley, the distinct sound of a car door opening caught in the wind.

 

He lets out a frustrated shriek when he runs straight into a fence, kicking it aggressively.

 

“We can do this the easy way, or the hard way, Tae,” he hears over his shoulder. He turns with dramatic attitude, facing the figure blocking the only exit with a fitting scowl.

 

“I’m not coming with you, Jin. You’re not going to win this battle.” Seokjin crosses his arms over his chest, pulling a face Taehyung presumes is supposed to be serious. “Not today,” he mutters to himself, straightening his posture in challenge.

 

Jin’s eyes narrow indignantly. “You can never do it the easy way, can you?” he sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

“You’ve never succeeded in the past.” Taehyung smirks. “What makes you think you will succeed today?”

 

“Well, from the way things are currently,” Jin takes an intimidating step closer, “you’re currently trapped here, with no way of escape. I think my chances are looking pretty good, wouldn’t you agree?”

 

“Ah Jin-hyung, I thought the elderly were supposed to be wise?” Jin’s left eyebrow twitches before he makes his move, striking while Taehyung is basking in the light of arrogance. However, since the younger man is quick on his feet, he spins around and starts hastily scaling the wire fence.

 

By the time Jin reaches Taehyung he’s about halfway up the fence, and when the older makes a grab for Taehyung’s waist, the street wanderer uses Jin’s face as leverage to kick himself up and over the other side of the alley. Jin grunts, his hands going to his stinging face, blinking in shock.

 

“Did you just step on my face?!” he screeches incredulously, his voice going hilariously high for a man his age.

 

Taehyung lands on his two feet with a mega-watt grin, puffing out his chest to make a Superman pose. “You’ll never catch me alive, Seokjin. Not today, not ever!” he singsongs comically. Jin rolls his eyes. Taehyung then drops his arms and suddenly becomes serious. “But you’re still gonna buy me Froyo on Wednesday, yeah?”

 

Jin’s shoulders sag with defeat, surpassing the urge to sigh. “Yes. I’ll pick you up around lunchtime.”

 

“Awesome!” Taehyung claps like a chimpanzee. Jin isn’t sure this is Taehyung mocking him or simply Taehyung being Taehyung. He’s inclined to believe that it’s a bit of both. “See ya ‘round, hyung! This was fun! I hope you have more success catching me next time, but I wouldn’t count on it!”

 

Taehyung swivels around and starts striding away, throwing a wave over his shoulder as a poorly initiated gesture. Jin runs a hand through his hair and watches on as Taehyung disappears around the corner, a face-splitting grin adorning his dirt-smudged features.

 

He curses at the clouds before turning and making his way back to the car, kicking a can and watching it ricochet off a brick wall and startle a family of rats. He gets back into the passenger seat of the car and sinks sulkily into the leather seats, tinkering with the heater to crank it up full blast.

 

“He got away, huh?” Namjoon asks from the driver’s seat, one hand resting on the wheel with his other arm resting on the car door.

 

“Yes.” Neither of them care that they’re parked on the sidewalk and people are giving their fancy car weird looks.

 

Namjoon grunts as he turns the key sitting in the ignition, turning the engine back on. “I told you the kidnapping idea wasn’t going to work, just like I told you last time.”

 

“I know, I know,” Jin waves off tiredly. “I just really want him safe off the streets, you know? I keep hearing reports on the radio and on the news – ‘such and such was stabbed outside such and such. There was a shooting downtown yesterday with a number of casualties’ and everytime I hear it or read about it, I’m always praying it isn’t him.”

 

“Yeah I get you,” Namjoon backs out of the sidewalk and back onto the road, giving zero fucks for the cars that beep at his reckless integration back into traffic. “Taehyung is pretty smart though. He’s crazy, but he knows to stay away from danger. He’s been on the streets for what – three years now? If he wanted our help he would’ve said something by now. I say we wait until he comes to us, wouldn’t you agree?”

 

“You’re right,” Jin shakes his head. “Of course you’re right. But still – I won’t sleep well until Kim Taehyung is off the streets for good.”

 

Namjoon smirks, chuckling under his breath. “Then I guess they’ll be a lot of sleepless nights coming for you.”

 

“I know,” Jin groans, rubbing his face. It still stings like a bitch. He thinks it’s safe to say Kim Taehyung will not be getting any toppings on his Froyo on Wednesday.

  

 

*~*~*

 

 

Jin steps out of the car and trusts Namjoon to go find a parking space close to the entrance. He double checks the plastic bag in his hands to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything, and flippantly waves to a pair of nurses who were passing by. It’s refreshing to enter Samsung Medical Centre without being bombarded by paperwork and occupational duties, because, as known to those it does concern, he has taken this particular day off to deal with more necessary matters. The doctors, the nurses and the employees manning reception still greet him with the same morning cheer that they do everyday, and Jin returns the same sentiment. Instead of numbly dragging his feet towards his office, he strides confidently towards the Recovery Unit, his head held high and a smile stretching across his countenance.

 

He’s in a good mood. Today marks the day of Jungkook’s official discharge from hospital, which means he can finally take both Jungkook and Taehyung home with them.

 

He has been anticipating this day since Taehyung had requested the favour. He’s been keen to have Taehyung safe off the streets since they first met, but Taehyung being the stubborn lone wolf that he is, refused most of the help he had to offer. He had settled on buying him food and necessities for the past couple of years, pained at watching his friend fend for himself on the harsh streets of Seoul. Now, he can finally rest easy knowing Taehyung is housed safely within their domain, with food waiting for him in the mornings, and a cozy mattress ready for him in the evening.

 

Not only that, but he’ll be sheltering Jungkook as well. He’s practically killing two birds with one stone here.

 

He knocks twice before entering the hospital room. It isn’t any surprise that Taehyung is perched on the foot of the bed, his legs tucked under him as he faces Jungkook. They’re playing a card game, and judging by the look on Taehyung’s face, he must be losing… and badly.

 

“It’s about time you showed up!” Taehyung exclaims as he throws down his cards, making them scatter haphazardly over Jungkook’s lap. “I was about to get my ass kicked.”

 

“For the fifth time this morning,” Jungkook snickers, quite blatantly amused by Taehyung’s childish behaviour.

 

“Sorry,” Jin scratches the back of his head sheepishly. “I had trouble getting Namjoon out of bed this morning.” Taehyung wiggles his eyebrows suggestively, opening his mouth to no doubt make a dirty comment, but Jin ensures he smacks Taehyung hard enough to effectively silence him. Jungkook just smiles at them softly, not quite understanding what’s going on - thankfully.

 

“Are you happy to finally leave the hospital, Jungkookie?” Jin inquires to deliberately change the subject, dumping the plastic bag on the bed.

 

“I think so - yes,” the younger nods, his fingers toying with the rim of the blanket. Jin smiles softly. Jungkook is such a shy boy. A stark contrast to the idiot grinning at the end of the bed.

 

“It must’ve been boring, lying in bed for a whole week,” he sighs, shaking his head. “I wish I could’ve made it more entertaining for you.”

 

“It’s alright, hyung,” the boy’s eyes settle on Taehyung, a glimmer of warmth swimming in his large, bright eyes. “Taehyung made it bearable.”

 

Taehyung cracks a large, rectangular smile and upturns his thumbs in a ‘nice-guy’ pose, looking a little ridiculous.

 

Jin rolls his eyes, clipping the brunette’s ear. “Don’t encourage him.”

 

“Hey!” he bats away Jin’s hand, looking highly offended.

 

“Anyway, we better not keep Namjoon waiting. I’ve brought along some clothes for you to change into, Jungkookie,” he presents the content of the bag by fishing out a shirt, a hoodie, jeans and a pair of shoes.

 

“They’re Namjoon’s clothes so they’re going to be a little big on you,” he sighs listlessly. “We plan to go shopping for you and Taehyung soon, but unfortunately you’re just going to have to settle for hand-me-downs at the moment.”

 

“That’s OK,” Jungkook reaches for the hoodie, feeling the material between his fingers. “I like baggy clothes. Thanks hyung.”

 

Jin helps Jungkook out of bed while Taehyung cleans up the mess the two of them have made, snatching up the cards and throwing all the cans of soft drink and take-out boxes in the bin.

 

Jin tries not to gawk as they help Jungkook get changed.

 

He can’t move his limbs easily without putting strain on his injuries, so they have to help him out of his hospital gown and into the clothes Jin has brought for them. It’s hard not to stare at the marks of brutality spanning Jungkook’s body though. The bruises are ten times darker and uglier than the ones sustained on his face, and even looking at them makes Jin grimace. They’re particularly gruesome around his ribs and torso, where most of the damage has been inflicted, and he can hardly believe how furious it makes him feel.

 

He very rarely allows himself to succumb to rage. He’s a level-headed, peacekeeping man who favours rationality over impulse. To see the result of such violence though - to see it so blatantly in the flesh, has his stomach burning with anger.

 

Jungkook doesn’t look at either of them, his eyes cast shamefully at his feet, and all Jin wants to do is bring him into his arms and tell him that none of it was his fault. Despite his natural, maternal urges though, Jin doesn’t attempt to intervene. He knows mentioning it is likely to make the situation harder for Jungkook, so he chatters lightly about Namjoon’s new business and how he’ll often be around at home to help out.

 

Taehyung helps Jungkook into the oversized shirt, and his dark expression certainly doesn’t make it past Jin’s keen observation. Their eyes meet, and Jin gives him a reprimanding look. He can see the wrath brewing in Taehyung’s gaze, sullen, sinister and ugly. Taehyung needs to learn how to control himself. He’s charming and witty and peculiar, but he’s also dangerously impulsive.

 

Thankfully, the anger in Taehyung’s eyes dissipates once Jungkook is fully dressed, commenting on how the sleeves sag over Jungkook’s hands and make him like a twelve year old. Jungkook pouts, but doesn’t make a move to roll up the sleeves like a normal person would, instead allowing his limbs to remain hidden under the thick material. If Taehyung notices, he doesn’t mention it, gently seizing Jungkook’s wrist and tugging him towards the door.

 

“Freedom at last!” Taehyung punches the air with a merry skip, the sudden movement jerking Jungkook forward roughly. Jin, concerned that Taehyung might be treating Jungkook a little too carelessly, places his hand on the boy’s back to steady him.

 

“Taehyung!” he scolds, whacking him over the head.

 

“Hyung!” Taehyung whines childishly, rubbing the back of his head. “What was that for?”

 

“For being an idiot,” he grumbles, beckoning the two of them over to the elevator.

 

He tells reception to leave the release forms on his desk for him to fill out later. It’s technically breaching mandatory release procedure, but since he works at the hospital and knows everyone on a first-name bases, reception is willing to make the exception.

 

As planned, Namjoon has parked the car near the entrance, leaning against the boot as he fiddles with his phone. Jin takes a moment to admire how handsome he looks, his lovely silver hair swept over with his eyes hidden beneath a pair of pricey sunglasses. He can hear the rings on his fingers clink as he types away on the touch-screen, embroidered with gothic skulls and rebellious symbols. He’s tucked away in an army green parka, protecting his lean body from the autumn chill.

 

Namjoon looks up when he hears them approach, smiling in greeting. “Everything sorted?”

 

“Yes,” Jin nods, ruffling Jungkook’s hair. “He’s ready to be taken home.”

 

*~*~*

 

The drive back to Jin and Namjoon’s apartment isn’t terribly long. Jungkook mostly occupies his time admiring the leather seats of the fancy Audi as Taehyung keeps leaning over between the driver and passenger seat to tinker with the radio.

 

It’s overcast outside, the sun hidden behind a blanket of clouds as wind picks up speed, sweeping the autumn leaves across the damp roads and into the grimy gutters. For the most part, Jungkook just looks out the window, admiring the populated streets filled with hard working citizens marching like ants towards work. It’s peak hour in the morning and the traffic is slow and bulked, but neither Jungkook nor anyone else in the car really cares for the delay. There’s no rush after all, Jin had declared today an official “lazy day,” simply because both him and Namjoon had taken time off work specifically to get Jungkook and Taehyung settled.

 

This would be around the time he would wake up back at home… his old home, anyway. He would get up half an hour before Yukwon to make them both breakfast, so that when his boyfriend awoke, there’d be a hot plate full of food waiting for him. The mornings were probably the simplest back at Yukwon’s apartment. Yukwon would be too drowsy to get upset over the little things and usually brush them aside. He was also a more tender lover. He’d be too lazy to be violent or vigorous, so it’s the only time during sex where Jungkook actually feels anything close to pleasure.

 

The buildings get taller as they take the main road alongside Han River, the streets more cleaner and the people more polished and presentable. Jungkook had a vague idea of what to expect when Jin told him they lived in Shinsa, a very wealthy area smack bang in the heart of Seoul, but as they draw further into the centre of wealth he gets a little fidgety. He’s never been to this part of town, not even when he was younger. His family had been financially comfortable, but that’s about as far as he could boast. His family couldn’t afford to send him to a private school or give him extra tutoring lessons for the classes he struggled with, but they tried their best to accommodate him and his older brother.

 

Namjoon takes a turn into an underground car park and Taehyung almost bumps his head on the roof of the Audi. Jungkook grips the car door nervously as they roll down a hill into darkness, a little confused as to what’s going on. They halt beside a small stand with a black keypad on it, and Jin hands Namjoon a set of keys. The driver’s window is rolled down so Namjoon can punch a code into the pad before pressing a black disc against the slate. There’s a beeping noise as the light flashes green, and the large gates in front of them start opening to grant them entrance into the private parking space.

 

Staring wondrously out the window, Jungkook gazes in awe at the line of expensive cars parked side by side, all with personalized number plates and glistening, renown car symbols sitting proudly on the front. Jungkook has never really been big on cars to begin with, but it really is a sight to see both a Lamborghini and a Ferrari parked side by side, so shiny it’s a wonder if they’ve ever actually left the threshold of this car park before. Compared to most of the cars in the parking lot, Jin’s sleek black Audi almost appears modest.

 

They pull up into an empty space with a number printed on the concrete – Jungkook presumes has something to do with their apartment number, right next to a white Ute that looks a little out of place amongst the show-worthy cars surrounding them.

 

“That’s Namjoon-hyung’s car!” Taehyung points out cheekily as Namjoon kills the engine. “It’s the cheapest car in this car park.”

 

“It is not, you brat,” Namjoon grumbles, though he doesn’t sound in the least bit offended. “I need it for my business.”

 

“Namjoonie is a carpenter,” Jin explains proudly. “He’s new to the trade.”

 

Jungkook smiles and nods politely, not really knowing what to say. He doesn’t know anything about carpentry; both his parents worked in hospitality, an entirely different form of labor. It’s nice to know that Namjoon isn’t something a little more fitting to the bourgeois class though; he hardly thinks Law or Medicine would suit his character.

 

He waits patiently as the others get out of the car. He can’t quite lift his own weight just yet, so he has to rely on others to help him for now. Jin is the closest; so naturally, he goes to open Jungkook’s door, only for Taehyung to spring out of nowhere and shove Jin out of the way.

 

“Taehyung what the – ”

 

“I’ll help you Kookie!” His door is suddenly yanked open and Jungkook is left to gape at a grinning Taehyung, Jin flopped unceremoniously over the hood of the car. His face heats up when he processes the nickname, but if Taehyung notices he doesn’t say anything. He offers him a hand and Jungkook takes it, wobbling slightly as he struggles to stand properly. “Careful,” Taehyung murmurs in his ear as he wraps an arm around his waist, his voice deep and husky. “I got you.”

 

“T-thanks,” Jungkook coughs, ignoring the tingle in his stomach.

 

Taehyung guides him through the car park in tandem with Namjoon and Jin, who are a walking side by side a few feet in front of them, speaking in hushed tones. They take the stairs up to the lobby, and Jungkook gawks at his surroundings with an abashed astonishment. His parents once had to cater for one of Seoul’s grandest hotels, and Jungkook, as a young twelve year old, never forgot the thrilling opulence of it’s grand exterior. Now, he is struck with that very same nostalgic bewilderment, blinking up at the crystal chandelier as though it were one of life’s many mysteries.

 

“Myungsoo-ssi, remember when we discussed the two new residents that would be moving in with us?” Jin starts conversing with the elderly man perched behind a desk by the main door. Namjoon guides them over and the man assesses them critically through his spectacles, his expression never changing. “This is Kim Taehyung and Jeon Jungkook, I’ll be having keys made for them, but I just wanted to introduce you so that there won’t be any mishaps in the future.”

 

“They will have to be added to the photo book, Seokjin-ssi,” the man grunts. Jungkook tenses and Taehyung squeezes his hand. The bruises haven’t fully disappeared yet. The last thing he would want is for someone to photograph him in such a state.

 

“I’ll give you photos of them a little later,” Jin assures with a pleasant smile, and it appears to be enough to satisfy the doorman for now.

 

They take the elevator, Namjoon pressing the highest possible number available on the apartment list, the button lighting up in a warm, yellowish glow. Jungkook looks around, only for his eyes to hastily fall to his feet when he realizes the walls of the elevators are giant mirrors. A single glimpse of his face has his heart deflating. The swelling is gone and he can see through both eyes without the left one hurting every time he blinked, but the bruises… they linger. The ones on his face are considerably lighter than the grotesque ones scaling his torso, but they’re still hard to miss.

 

They let Taehyung guide Jungkook out of the elevator first before Namjoon walks ahead to unlock the single door at the end of the hallway. Jungkook is silent as he steps through the door, his eyes scanning the wide and spacious surroundings that dwarf them. The ceilings are high, the floors are hardwood and the furniture is modern and coordinated. Namjoon’s sneakers are so big that Jungkook could have easily stepped out of them without any fuss, but he had been so sidetracked by his new surroundings that Taehyung beats him to it, squatting down in front of him and pulling off the shoes. He almost chides Taehyung for being so unnecessarily considerate, but it dies on his tongue. He knows Taehyung will do what he damn well pleases whether Jungkook likes it or not, so he settles on a small ‘thank you’ instead.

 

Jungkook shuffles further into the main room, clutching his arm awkwardly as he stands there in clothes too big for his frame. There is an overhead light hanging from the ceiling, with large windows spanning one wall of the room, looking over the Han River. There are white, pristine couches, a fireplace and a large flat screen television that’s likely to rival Jin’s height if it were tilted vertically towards the ceiling. There’s a large, fluffy rug in the centre adorning a glass coffee table on top of it, and the image looks as though it’s been plucked straight out of an interior design catalogue.

 

Jin checks his watch pensively as he steps out of his loafers, closing the door and locking it behind him. “We have time to give the kids a tour before we leave,” he calls after Namjoon, who has lazily strutted through an arch doorway. He gives a grunt of acknowledgement to let his partner know he heard him.

 

“Where are you going?” Taehyung chirps, coming up behind Jungkook and slinging an arm over his shoulder.

 

“Shopping,” Jin smiles excitedly. “We’re likely to be a couple of hours, so the two of you can just sit back and relax.”

 

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Taehyung singsongs, inhaling dramatically before speeding across the living room and disappearing into the hallway. “I call the biggest guest room!”

 

“They’re all the same size!” Jin yells after him indignantly, rolling his eyes before smiling at Jungkook, who’s still standing there awkwardly. “I suppose Taehyung won’t be needing a tour, he comes here a lot to play video games.” He offers his hand to the boy, and Jungkook stares at it apprehensively. “Come, I’ll show you around your new home.”

 

Jungkook isn’t sure he knows Jin well enough to hold his hand, but given that the man has shown nothing but generosity and kindness towards him, he accepts the hand and allows the older to navigate him through the grand penthouse. Like the living room, the kitchen is also modern, with two stainless steel stoves squashed side by side, a large refrigerator with an ice and filtered water dispenser, a marble island accommodating a couple of stools, and overhead cupboards where the plates, bowls, glasses and mugs are located. There’s a dining room connected to the kitchen, accommodating a long, tinted glass table with eight chairs, three occupying the sides and one on either end.

 

They eventually get around to the hallway Taehyung had mysteriously disappeared down. The first door to the right is a bathroom, and the door opposite is a guest room. There are three guest rooms in total plus a master bedroom at the end of the hallway where Jin and Namjoon sleep.

 

“If you need anything during the night, please don’t be shy to bother us. I want you to feel as comfortable and safe as possible,” Jin assures him after revealing the master bedroom, squeezing Jungkook’s hand. He smiles shyly and nods, despite knowing that he’ll probably never willingly disturb the couple, even if he was scared shitless.

 

“I want this guest room to be your room, Jungkookie,” his hyung says as he opens the door closest to the master bedroom. “Taehyung is in the room opposite yours,” he gestures towards the slightly ajar door to his left, “and our room is right next door. I’d worry less if weren’t too far away.”

 

Jungkook realizes that Jin is actually giving him the option to decline, which he finds a little weird. He’s so used to being told what to do, that the concept of making his own decisions are almost baffling.

 

“Okay hyung,” he accepts anyway, because truthfully he would prefer to be as close to the others as possible as well. He doesn’t like to be alone.

 

Jin nods happily before guiding him into his new room. Jungkook looks around, and just when he thinks this strange and incredible environment couldn’t prove to overwhelm him any more, he’s once again left speechless. It isn’t as big as the living room or the master bedroom, but it's still too big for one person. The bed is a queen-sized mammoth positioned on the wall to his right, dark wooden nightstands on either side of it. The sock draw is made of the same wood, retaining three large drawers with the sleek handles stainless silver. Sitting above the drawers on the wall is a flat screen television and in perfect alignment with the bed facing it. There’s a set of double doors next to the nightstand that lead into a walk-in wardrobe, and the wall facing them is one large, giant window, the Han River still well within view.

 

“There are three remotes for this room,” Jin continues cheerily as he saunters over to the cradle sitting on top of the drawers. “The little one is for the lights,” he picks it up and presses a button, turning on the overhead lights, “and if you press this one,” he presses a different button, “the lights dim.”

 

Jungkook stares up at the ceiling owlishly. “Cool.”

 

“This one is for the blinds,” he picks up a silver one and points it at the window, and a set of blinds start lowering. “Lastly,” he pops the other two remotes back in the cradle before pointing to the largest one, “the television remote.”

 

“This is… wow,” Jungkook swallows thickly. What else can he possibly say? Are there truly enough words in the Korean language to express his gratitude towards Jin? He doesn’t think so. Jungkook would have been just fine with a futon mat to sleep on, if he was going to be honest. This whole incident, from the assault, to the recovery, to being welcomed into this loving home all seems so surreal to him. He’s scared it’s all just a dream, that he’ll wake up soon and be back in Yukwon’s apartment, and Taehyung and Jin and Namjoon never existed to begin with.

 

“Jungkook? Are you OK?” Jin places a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder, and he blinks, smiling weakly.

 

“Yeah hyung, I’m just… really happy,” he answers honestly. Jin chuckles and pats him on the shoulder, right before Taehyung comes barreling into the room. He stops short of tackling Jungkook, as though he thought better of it, instead slinging his arm around the younger boy’s neck to bump their heads together.

 

“You’ve got the better view!” Taehyung pipes, not a hint of envy in his tone. “The view from my ensuite is good too – it’s of a park that isn’t too far from here. Maybe we could go there sometime, ‘eh Kookie?”

 

“Sure hyung.” He lowers his head, fighting back a smile as Taehyung nuzzles against him. The quirky street wanderer doesn’t shied away from affection, and he’s certainly let Jungkook know since the day they formerly met.

 

Jin and Namjoon leave shortly after that, being rather hush-hush about the whole shopping trip. They won’t divulge where they are going or what they are buying, and Taehyung is neither pushy nor curious enough to care. Instead he sits Jungkook down on one of the couches in the living room and turns on the television. He tells him to pick whatever channel he wants while he goes off to raid the cupboard for snacks. Jungkook isn’t surprised to find that Jin and Namjoon have satellite TV, and upon this pleasant discovery proceeds to sift through channel after channel to see what’s on.

 

He stops at a particular channel and purses his lips, glancing behind him to check if Taehyung is still occupied before settling back into the couch, his thumb hovering cautiously over the channel button.

 

“Girl’s Day huh?” Jungkook shrieks and immediately hits the power button, turning off the television. Taehyung stands in the doorway with bags of chips nursed in his arms, grinning amusedly.

 

“I-I…” Jungkook hides his face in his hands. He had been caught. Taehyung had caught him on the K-Pop music channel, featuring Girl’s Day. Lord, kill him now.

 

“Turn the television back on you big goof. I don’t care if you’re a total fanboy,” Taehyung snickers, slumping down beside Jungkook on the couch. When he doesn’t make a move towards the remote, Taehyung casually flicks the television back on, settling back against the cushions and kicking his feet up on the coffee table.

 

“Girl’s Day are alright, but I think I like 4Minute more.”

 

“Their… their songs are better, but I like Girl’s Day’s choreography,” Jungkook confesses apprehensively, peeking out from between his fingers to find that Taehyung isn’t judging him. He casually opens up a bag of potato chips, offering them to him. “Thanks…”

 

“Yeah, I guess Hyuna can be a bit in your face at times,” Taehyung grins. “But Jihyun gave me ten thousand won once.”

 

“What!” Jungkook straightens, almost toppling over the armrest. “How – ?”

 

“She volunteers at a soup kitchen sometimes. I guess she took pity on me,” Taehyung shrugs, his grin so wide his face might as well split in two.

 

“Aw man, you’re so lucky,” Jungkook pouts, “you kept the money, right?”

 

“Nah man I bought dinner with it.”

 

“You spent the money that Nam Jihyun gave you?!” The younger gasps, as though the very concept is death-inducing.

 

“Calm your panties you little pansy,” Taehyung leans over, ruffling Jungkook’s silky mop of hair. “I was hungry.”

 

“Oh,” he looks down guiltily. “Sorry.”

 

“Don’t be silly,” Taehyung waves off, sticking a chip in his mouth. The music video ends and is leads on to Kara, and Jungkook immediately straightens, clapping his hands enthusiastically.

 

“Oh I love this song!” Taehyung just grins to himself. He doesn’t pay much attention to the television like Jungkook does; instead admiring how pretty Jungkook looks when he smiles.

 

Jin and Namjoon return three hours later with bags upon bags – majority of them clothes. They dump them all in a big pile in the living room, Namjoon wandering off to the kitchen, mumbling something about shopping making him hungry. Taehyung dives in with a boisterous battle cry, pulling out item after item of clothing and making weird, sexual noises. Jungkook lingers by the hallway, shifting on his feet and biting his lip. He turns and walks away, heading towards his new room.

 

“Jungkookie!” Jin plants a foot in the door just as Jungkook is about to close it, presenting his winning smile. “Can I come in?”

 

Jungkook blinks before nodding. He doesn’t really understand why Jin needs to ask in the first place. It’s his home, after all. He steps aside to let the older in, and to his surprise the man is carrying two bags in each hand, filled to the brim with clothes.

 

“These are your new clothes,” Jin tells him proudly, setting down the bags on the bed. “I was sure to buy you heaps of baggy clothes – just how you like it, but also essentials for winter. I can’t have you getting frostbite when you go out now can I? There’s also underwear, socks, gloves – and I found this adorable beanie that I thought would suit you – Jungkookie?” Jin pauses when he realizes how quiet Jungkook is being. He turns to find the boy still standing by the door, his head lowered to hide his face.

 

“Jungkook…?” he paces towards him, planting his hands on Jungkook’s shoulders. He tilts his head to try and see his face, only to see tears rolling down his face. “Jungkook!” he exclaims in panic, crouching slightly to see the boy’s face better, grabbing him between his hands. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying? Hey – look at me.”

 

Jungkook does as he’s told, and Jin gets a better look at his teary eyes. “Jungkook…? Did you want to come with me to choose your clothes? If you don’t like anything I bought I can always return them.”

 

“N-no it’s just…” His breath hitches, his bottom lip wobbling. “You’re being so nice to me.”

 

It’s all Jin needs as an explanation, and it soon dawns on him that Jungkook probably isn’t used to acts of kindness towards him. His shoulders sag slightly and he straightens, swallowing down the emotions getting clogged in his throat. He reaches out and winds his arms around the boy, bringing him close against him. Jungkook releases a muffled sob against his shoulder, and Jin’s heart sinks a little.

 

He likes to think that there is good in everybody, that anybody is capable of kindness, but sometimes reality likes to prove Jin wrong. Sometimes, reality shows just how cruel other human beings can be.

 

He thought the only other person on this earth he could truly hate was Taehyung’s father, but another man has just been added to the list.

 

*~*~*

 

“Hyung, are you sure you don’t want me to help?” Jungkook inquires as he sucks on the straw of his juice box. He sits comfortably on top of a stool as he watches the older man teeter around the kitchen preparing dinner, clad in a questionably fluffy apron that contradicts his masculinity. Taehyung is sitting on the stool beside Jungkook, his eyebrows drawn into a frown and his tongue sticking slightly out the corner of his mouth as he concentrates on the screen of his brand new laptop (courtesy of Namjoon). For someone who's been on the streets for five years, he sure handles advanced technology like a pro.

 

“Don’t be silly, Jungkook-ah,” Jin brushes off flippantly. “You shouldn’t be doing anything that puts stress on your injuries, you know that.”

 

“But hyung - ”

 

“You can cook?” Taehyung cuts in before Jungkook can protest, suddenly a lot closer than he was before. His face is completely blank, but Jungkook has learnt to identify the curious twinkle in the corner of his smoky eyes.

 

“Y-Yeah.” He can’t help but blush. He hates it when Taehyung gets this close. “I had to learn.”

 

Taehyung leans back on his stool then, processing his choice of words before turning back to the computer, making no further comment. His fingers tap a little harder on the keyboard, more so than Jungkook would think necessary.

 

It’s been a couple of days since they settled in to Jin and Namjoon’s extravagant penthouse. Taehyung had taken it all in stride, as though he were secretly a prince all along and had expected nothing less of absolute luxury. Jungkook, in contrast, had been less prepared to process his new home. Yukwon made enough money for them to live just above the borderline of poverty, although Jungkook can’t say he ever fancied the neighborhood they lived in. His boyfriend argued that he had to be closer to work in case of emergencies, but Jungkook knew that in reality they couldn’t afford anything better.

 

To Jungkook, the penthouse is like a modern wonderland that still retains the ambience of a warm and loving home. For the first time in a long time, Jungkook feels safe. Not to mention Namjoon and Jin have done a magnificent job of making him feel right at home here. Both he and Taehyung now occupy two of the guest rooms, their wardrobes filled with clothes Jin had bought for them. His room is large and spacious, so much so that he could do cartwheels from one side of the room to the other without bumping into anything. He honestly couldn’t have asked for a better setup.

 

Only, there’s too much space for one person. He doesn’t like sleeping in his bed alone, but he won’t be mentioning the tiny dilemma anytime soon. The last thing he wants is for Jin to invite him to sleep in their bed - because God only knows what Namjoon and Jin do behind closed doors.

 

He’s considered mentioning it to Taehyung, but is a little embarrassed. What if he just laughs at him? What if he teases him?

 

The clothes Jin bought for them are top quality. He was thoughtful enough to buy him baggy, comfortable wear that kept him snuggly and protected. At least now he doesn’t have to worry about any bruises showing - although the ones on his face are unfortunately unavoidable. They’re on the road to disappearing, but for now he’ll just have to deal with the blotchy brown marks marring his features.

 

Namjoon enters the kitchen from the open-arched doorway, coils of paper rolled up in a cluster under one arm and a wireless phone in the other. He places down both items on the marble island bench before sneaking up behind Jin, draping his arms around his partner and planting a kiss to his ear.

 

“I just got off the phone with Hobi,” Namjoon informs him, “he said he’s definitely free tomorrow night.”

 

“Oh that reminds me - ” Jin pivots out of Namjoon’s hold to face Jungkook and Taehyung, beaming with enthusiasm. “We’re having the gang over tomorrow night to meet Jungkook and welcome the two of you into our home!” he’s mostly facing Taehyung when he says this, and Jungkook clears his throat, unintentionally choking on his orange juice.

 

“‘The gang’?” he echoes.

 

“No way!” Taehyung’s eyes divert from the laptop screen to shoot Jin an excited grin. “I haven’t seen them in months!”

 

“They’re excited to see you again too - and apparently Jimin now owes Yoongi twenty-thousand won. Can you believe it? They bet on whether you’d end up living with us in the end!” Jin huffs, shaking his head as though he could hardly believe the concept.

 

“Curse that Min Yoongi,” Taehyung tsks, eyes falling back to the screen. “He’s always right.”

 

“I know! I should’ve gotten in on that bet - I knew you’d come around, didn’t I Namjoon?” Jin looks over at his other half, who is leaning against the counter with his arms crossed, watching the exchange with knowing amusement.

 

“Yes dear,” he chuckles, unwilling to start an argument.

 

“Um,” Jungkook squirms awkwardly, his gaze downcast to the juice box in his hands, “who?”

 

“Close friends of ours,” Namjoon chooses to answer, sensing that Jin and Taehyung are too caught up in their own little worlds to even hear Jungkook’s tentative queries. “There’s only three of them - Jimin and Yoongi have been close friends of Jin since he was fifteen, and Hoseok and I have been friends since high school.” Namjoon senses that Jungkook isn’t all that enthused, judging by the way he squirms on his stool and doesn’t look up from his straw. “Don’t worry, Jungkook-ah, they’re all really friendly. They’ll like you.”

 

“Yeah,” Taehyung surprisingly interjects without looking away from the computer. “Jimin will probably fall madly in love with you and Yoongi will seem like a bitch at first, but once they calm down they’re pretty cool. Hoseok is batshit crazy though. Watch out for him.”

 

“Oh don’t listen to Tae,” Jin shakes his head, emptying the vegetables into the boiling pot sitting on the stove. “Jimin is… enthusiastic, but he loves to spoil people - especially his dongsaengdeul. He will treat you well.”

 

“And the others...?” Jungkook asks hesitantly.

 

“Yoongi might take some getting used to,” Jin chuckles, and Namjoon joins in. “He’s cynical and a bit introverted, but once you get to know him, he’s the nicest person in the world. Hoseok…” Jin takes his chin, eyebrows drawn together in a thoughtful frown, “help me out here, honey.”

 

“He’s eccentric,” Namjoon grunts.

 

“Yes - eccentric! He’s one of a kind,” Jin chimes, planting a kiss on Namjoon’s cheek.

 

“Eccentric, huh?” Jungkook mumbles quietly to himself, still apprehensive.

 

“Don’t worry.” He inclines his head to the side to see Taehyung staring at him, his lips pulled into a grin. “They’ll love you. And - if they don’t, I guess I’ll just have to make them love you, okay?”

 

It’s easy for Jungkook to smile at Taehyung, because despite his anxiety, his friend does make him feel a little better.

 

*~*~*

 

The breath-taking sunset washes the interior of Jungkook’s bedroom with red and orange hues, dulled only slightly by the tinted windows. It has taken a while for Jungkook to get used to having a wall made completely of glass, that paired with being on the top floor and having unrestricted views of the distance to the ground did nothing to soothe his nerves. His toes wriggle against the plush carpet as he stares out of the window, basking in the spectacular sight of the Han River rippling and glinting from reflected sunlight. His shadow grows larger for every minute that passes, the sun eventually disappearing from sight over the horizon.

 

He shuffles away from the window and sits down at the foot of his bed, fingers running over the deluxe Egyptian cotton of his doona cover. Back at Yukwon’s place he hadn’t been afforded such luxuries, often rolling around restlessly in the middle of the night because of their itchy bargain bin sheets that had been bleached one too many times. His fingers curl, hands clenching against the luxurious fabric as his thoughts drift. What is Yukwon doing now? Is he missing him? Is he looking for him?

 

The last thought sends a rippling shiver down his spine, his breaths becoming rapid. What if Yukwon is out there, right now, searching for him? What if he finds him? He reaches across and gently cradles his ribs, hissing at the slight jostling of his broken body. Tears well up in his eyes, blurring his vision as they threaten to fall. He inhales a shaky breath, barely able to suppress the sobs that threaten to wrack his body.

 

If Yukwon came for him, he’d have to go back. Even now, he doesn’t think he has the strength to say no to that man, and probably never will. Finding Jungkook meant finding Jin, Namjoon and Taehyung as well.

 

Taehyung.

 

Jungkook bites down on his lip hard enough to draw blood, the coppery taste of blood sitting heavily on his tongue. God knows what Yukwon would do if he ever saw Tae again, but Jungkook doesn’t doubt for a second that it would result in only one of them coming out of the confrontation alive. Yukwon never leaves loose ends, especially ones that have beaten him at his own game.

 

His gut churns in dread, thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong. Maybe it is best if he were to just leave now, before everyone he cares about gets hurt. Because he does care, he cares for the rag-tag bunch of his new family with the entirety of his heart. He may have only known them for a couple of weeks but during the short period of time he’s started to trust them and trust is something he hasn’t had since Yukwon turned his world upside down.

 

He reclines back slowly so he’s lying on the bed, legs still dangling limply over the edge as he stares at the blindingly white ceiling. He should probably go and find someone to sit with, to distract him from the thoughts that plague his mind. He doesn’t know how to handle being alone, having Tae spend every waking moment with him to ensure he doesn’t stress his injuries. The only time he’s been alone is when he goes to bed at night, and it’s been a struggle.

 

He used to be allowed only a small section of the bed to sleep on, Yukwon generally liking to spread out and take up most of the space. So being here alone, in a queen-sized bed, and buried under the mountain of sheets and a plush doona, he can’t help but feel like a little kid, swimming in the fabric of his parents clothes. As much as he didn’t miss Yukwon’s heavy weight on him as he slept, he can’t help but feel a little touch-starved.

 

He lays on the bed in darkness, illuminated only slightly by the city lights coming in from the window. His eyes drift shut, lashes fluttering as tiredness washes over him. He’s about to drift off when he hears the soft pad of footsteps coming down the hallway, stopping just outside of his door.

 

There’s a soft knock before the door cracks open, letting a sliver of light into the room.

 

“Kookie?” Taehyung calls out tentatively, sticking his head through the small gap to check if Jungkook is awake.

 

Jungkook sits up slowly, waving his hand dismissively as Taehyung rushes over to help him like he’s physically crippled. “I’m fine.”

 

Taehyung steps back, allowing Jungkook the space to get up on his own. “Jin asked me to come and get you. Dinner's ready and the others should be here soon.”

 

Jungkook freezes at the mention. Nervousness has been swirling in his stomach ever since Jin mentioned that his friends were coming over to meet him. His body ripples in disgust as he thinks back to when Yukwon used to invite his “friends” over. While Jin is the nicest person he’s ever met, there’s no way to determine whether the company he keeps is just as pleasant. What if he stuffs up and does something that offends the friends and they ask Jin to throw him out? What if they just don’t like him?

 

He follows closely behind Taehyung, slowly shuffling down the hallway. As soon as they reach the lounge, a melodious chime rings through the apartment, almost deafeningly loud to Jungkook’s ears. He stands in the centre of the lounge, playing nervously with the hem of his oversized shirt as he tries to control his breathing. He can hear the muffled “hello’s” coming from the front door, and the soft slapping noises of shoes as they are removed and dropped onto the floor.

 

He sucks in a breath as a short man rounds the corner and starts barrelling towards him. Before he has a chance to run away, he’s being engulfed in a tight hug. Muscular arms strategically wrapped around him so his injuries are avoided. ‘Jin must have filled them in about my injuries.’

 

His arms are glued to his sides, where they were sitting in preparation to make a formal bow in greeting. His eyes widen at the forwardness of the short man’s affectionate greeting, confused on what to do.

 

The man suddenly pulls back to stare into Jungkook’s eyes, hands coming up to cup his face with a small smack.

 

“Aren’t you just the cutest thing ever? Look at how adorable this face is, Yoongi!” the man calls over his shoulder, squishing Jungkook’s youthful cheeks between his palms.

 

A man with platinum blonde hair and pale skin snorts out a laugh, lips quirking in a small grin. “Don’t scare the poor boy, Jimin. Remember what I said about meeting people for the first time.”

 

The man, Jimin, removes his hands and steps back a bit further, but still within Jungkook’s reach. “Personal space.”

 

Yoongi saunters past Jimin and stands in front of Jungkook, offering the wide-eyed boy a soft smile of reassurance. He reaches up and ruffles Jungkook’s hair comfortingly, careful to not make any of his movements too quick or sudden. “I’m sorry about him, kid. He thinks everyone is fair game when it comes to hugs. I’m Yoongi and that idiot over there is Jimin.”

 

Jungkook leans forward stiffly in a polite bow, trying to maintain his manners. “That’s fine, Yoongi-ssi. I was just a little bit startled.”

 

Yoongi arches his eyebrow at the younger’s use of formal honorifics. “Yah, kid. Call me hyung.”

 

Jungkook lets a smile creep over his face, small blush dusting his cheeks from happiness. He doesn’t know why he was worried before, having now met the friendly duo. His eyes glance over Yoongi’s shoulder at the final friend, still standing by the entryway. The smile slips off Jungkook’s face when he notices the expression of disgust the man is giving him, his hands clenching angrily at his sides.

 

‘Maybe I spoke too soon.’

 

Hoseok’s heart stutters in his chest, his lungs still as he holds his breath. A pressure radiates from his sternum, his ribs feeling like they’re constricting and compressing his organs.

 

‘No. Please, no.’

 

He stares into the endless depths of the boy’s eyes, drowning in the pools of sorrow. His fingernails dig into the flesh of his palm as he clenches his hands, almost drawing blood. He loses control of his body, unwanted emotions flickering across his face as his mind drifts away.

 

‘Hoseok-ah. What are you still doing up? Come on, noona will read you a story.’

 

He doesn’t move as the skinny boy approaches him cautiously, only inching towards Hoseok after an encouraging nudge from Jimin.

 

‘Hoseok-ah, clean up and get ready for dinner. Noona made your favourite.’

 

Hoseok thought he would never have to see those eyes ever again, not in reality anyways. The memories still haunt him, gruesome images burnt onto the back of his eyelids so that even sleep offers no refuge. Every moment of every day, the sight of her lingers at the back of his mind, slowly eating away at him like a disease. He will never forget her face, her hugs, her love. But most of all, he’ll never forget her eyes. That is his punishment, one that he will carry for the rest of his life because he deserves it.

 

Silence hangs in the air as Jungkook stops in front of Hoseok, peering at Hoseok’s shyly. “Hello, I’m Jungkook.”

 

‘Hoseok-ah, did you lock the back door after you finished playing outside?’

 

He exhales sharply, glaring daggers at the boy. He flinches back when Jungkook takes a small step forward, extending his arm for a handshake. Hoseok doesn’t move to greet the boy, only staring blankly at the hand offered to him like it’s dangerous.

 

‘Hoseok! Noona needs you to go and hide in your room. Don’t come out until Noona comes to get you.’

 

The atmosphere grows tense, and no-one is sure as to the reason behind Hoseok’s lack of reaction. He can see Taehyung shifting offensively in the background, ready to interrupt if things get out of hand. Even in his peripheral, he can immediately tell why Taehyung is acting in such a way, the boy’s tense posture screaming it.

 

‘Possessive… Well fuck. Looks like Tae’s gotten a new attachment.’

 

Namjoon steps up behind Hoseok, slinging his arm over Hoseok’s shoulder as Jungkook drops his outstretched arm awkwardly.

 

“Hobi, have you lost your words in the presence of this adorable cutie?” Namjoon coos, nudging Hoseok’s hip with his own. “Has Hobi fallen in love at first sight? Hoseok and Jungkook, sitting in a tree, K-I-S - ”

 

Hoseok turns his blazing glare to Namjoon, hands shaking angrily as tries to keep himself from running away. “Oh for once, would you just shut the fuck up, Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes flash with hurt and confusion at Hoseok’s harsh words. He hesitantly unwraps his arm from around Hoseok’s shoulders, not knowing what to do in the now awkward situation.

 

Hoseok, realizing who he has just snapped at, glances back up at Namjoon apologetically, but the other is staring off into the distance. He brings his hands in front of him, fingers fidgeting nervously with regret. He doesn’t make eye contact but he turns his body towards Jungkook and tilts his head forward in a small bow. “Hoseok. I’m… I’m sorry. If you would please excuse me.”

 

He doesn’t wait for Jungkook’s response, rushing off down the hallway and towards the main bathroom. He all but slams the door, body slumping back against the polished wood as he shakily stares up at his reflection. He slides down the door until he is sitting on the cool tiles, arms tightly wrapped around his legs with his forehead resting against his knees. He sucks in deep breaths, trying to replenish his lungs with oxygen, having nearly held his breath for the entire interaction.

 

Out of all people it could have been, it just had to be Jin’s new ward. If it had been a random stranger on the street, fine… Hoseok could have avoided that street for the rest of his life but not now, not when the person is living with his best friends. He’ll have to see Jungkook again, there’s no way to avoid it. The only way of ensuring that he doesn’t see Jungkook again is if he cuts off all ties with his best friends, his only friends in the world.

 

Startled by the thought he slams his head back against the hard wood of the door, physically trying to remove the thought from his mind. He leans forward and slams back again, punishing himself for even considering cutting ties with Namjoon and Jin. When he and Namjoon had become friends, Hoseok was in a dark place. He wasn’t dealing with his issues, choosing to let himself waste away, and while he is still fucked up in the head, there’s no way he would still be alive if it weren’t for Namjoon. For that, he owes the man everything, he owes the man his life.

 

His fingers knot in his hair, tugging harshly at the roots in frustration. He is so caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t hear the footsteps approaching until someone knocks softly on the bathroom door.

 

He sucks in a breath through his nose, tears clouding his vision as he tries to keep his voice steady. “Namjoonie, I just need another moment, please.”

 

The soft voice that travels underneath the door startles Hoseok, making him flinch in surprise. “It’s not Namjoon. It’s Jimin. May I please come in?”

 

Ever since meeting the couple a few weeks ago, they have been texting him regularly. Small things like how his day has been, if he had any exciting plans for the weekend, if he needed a ride over to Jin’s apartment today. To be honest, they have become the highlight of his day, knowing that there’s a text message waiting for him every time he checks his phone.

 

Hoseok slowly stands, hand resting against the door handle in hesitation before opening it enough to allow for Jimin to enter. He shuts the door gently this time, soft click echoing in the small space.

 

Jimin is leaning against the counter, thick arms crossed over his chest as he regards Hoseok. “Hyung, what’s going on? You were fine during the car ride over.”

 

Hoseok clenches his jaw, tendons in his cheek twitching at the pressure. “Have you ever run from your past, Jimin?”

 

Jimin’s expression softens at the comment, uncrossing his arms and stepping forward to press a comforting hand to Hoseok’s shoulder. “Of course I have, hyung. Everyone’s run from something at some point or another.”

 

Hoseok’s lashes are wet as he glances up into Jimin’s eyes, devastation and agony marring his expression. “I’m still running.”

 

The remaining five stand in the lounge in silence as awkward tension sits in the atmosphere. Jin presses a gentle hand against Namjoon’s chest, trying to get his boyfriend to look at him. “Namjoon?”

 

Namjoon startles at the sound of his name, wrapping an arm around Jin’s waist and pulling his boyfriend closer. “I haven’t seen him like that since high school, Jin. He hasn’t snapped at me in ages.”

 

Jin hums in acknowledgement, eyes trailing off to glance in the direction of the hallway. “Maybe he’s just having a particularly bad day, honey.”

 

Crimson stains Jungkook’s cheeks with embarrassment, only two minutes in and he’s already offended Namjoon’s best friend. He looks up slowly, meeting Namjoon’s confused gaze. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble. I’ll just go back to my room and stay out of the way.”

 

Just as he turns, a large hand gently wraps around his wrist. He can’t help but flinch at the sudden contact, even knowing that it was one of his friends. Namjoon drops his hand immediately, palms facing outward in apology.

 

“You will not go to your room. You have done nothing wrong here, it’s just Hoseok being a dick.”

 

The bathroom door opens, causing everyone’s heads to snap up, all but Jungkook who keeps his eyes trained on the floor as he trembles with worry. Taehyung wraps a protective arm around his waist, ready to jump in if Hoseok is anything less than amicable. Jimin steps out, guiding Hoseok with a hand pressed gently at the small of his back. Jimin shuffles towards Yoongi, leaving Hoseok to pause hesitantly at the other end of the lounge.

 

Jin quirks his brow, voice razor sharp. “Apologise right now, Hoseok.”

 

He looks up at Namjoon, apology ready and sitting on the tip of his tongue but is stopped before he has a chance to voice it. “No, not to me. Apologise to Jungkook. This dinner is set up for him. I don’t care for whatever excuse you plan on giving me, it’s no reason to be rude, Hobi.”

 

Hoseok gulps, steeling himself and shuffling forward until he’s standing in front of Jungkook, arm outstretched like Jungkook had before. “Jung Hoseok. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I’ve just been having a... shit day.”

 

Taehyung tugs at Jungkook’s waist gently, pulling the small frame towards his body protectively. His sharp eyes are trained on Hoseok, his critical stare boring into into the other’s in warning. “Careful with your words, Hoseok. I won’t hesitate if you’re anything less than polite.”

 

Jungkook wriggles nervously in Taehyung strong grip, anxiety settling into his bones at Taehyung’s dark promise. He taps lightly at the arm looped around his waist, asking to be released from the tight grip. Jungkook reaches out and shakes the hand firmly, noting the way Hoseok refuses to meet his eyes. He doesn’t know what’s going on with Hoseok, but he knows it hasn’t got anything to do with having an off day.

 

Despite the thick tension still in the air, Jin ushers everyone towards the kitchen. He rushes behind the kitchen counter while everyone takes their seats at the dining table, removing the trays of food from the oven. Hoseok takes the middle seat, flanked by Yoongi and Jimin. He watches as Jungkook takes a seat off to the side, next to Taehyung at the end of the table.

 

Now all that Hoseok has to do during the dinner is not look to his right and he’ll be fine. Hoseok pops open the bottle of beer Yoongi passes him, taking a long sip as the group prepare their servings. Various expensive meats and vegetables litter the table, looking more like an expensive catering event rather than a friendly dinner. “Jin, you’ve really outdone yourself this time.”

 

Jin’s face flushes at the complement, hand coming up to shyly shield his face. “It’s just that, we’re all here, together. All of the people who matter most to me. I just wanted to make it a little bit special.”

 

Namjoon nudges Jin with his shoulder, knife and fork clinking softly as he cuts up his steak. “Don’t let your mum hear you say that. You’ll never hear the end of it if she finds out that you had a close dinner and didn’t invite her.”

 

Jin’s eyes widen at the comment, realising that if his mother ever did find out, she’d skin him alive. Hoseok digs into his juicy steak, idly watching Yoongi out of the corner of his eye, noticing he only has steamed vegetables on his plate. He cuts off a portion of his steak, picking it up with his fork and sliding onto Yoongi’s near-empty plate. The other looks up in surprise, eyes softening at the gesture before tentatively cutting into the tender meat.

 

Hoseok smiles to himself, eyes drifting back to his own plate when he feels a hand gently rest on his thigh. His head snaps up to face Jimin, who is staring at him fondly as his thumb rubs circles into his thigh. A light blush dances across Hoseok’s cheeks at the touch, not quite knowing what spurred the caressing touch. He clears his throat softly, attempting to focus on his food. Jimin keeps his hand resting on Hoseok’s thigh while he uses his other one to eat.

 

Taehyung reaches across and helps Jungkook cut up his steak into bite size pieces, attempting to reduce the jostling of his injuries through repetitive movement. Jungkook wants to insist that he is perfectly capable of cutting his own food but when he glances up at Taehyung, the words die in his mouth. The boy has his tongue poking out the side of his mouth in concentration, brow furrowed as he tries to pull the meat off the bone.

 

Jungkook’s heart swells in his chest, so used to doing things on his own that having someone willing to help him feels foreign. While Yukwon had told him what to do, he would never offer any help, leaving Jungkook to act as he pleases. But the tender care, the consideration that Taehyung is displaying makes Jungkook feel cared for, it makes him feel loved.

 

Taeyhyung stabs a piece of meat with the fork, cheek-splitting grin stretched across his face. “Open wide, Kookie.”

 

His cheeks glow crimson as Taehyung uses his nickname at the dinner table, in front of the others. He eyes the piece of meat hovering in front of his face for a moment, deliberating how embarrassing it is being fed by another. He quickly glances around the table to see everyone engrossed in their own conversations and food, most likely having heard Taehyung’s comment and giving them some space. He tentatively leans forward, teeth pulling the meat off of the fork and chews on the tender meat slowly.

 

Taehyung’s eyes crinkle up in triumph, doing a little victory wiggle in his seat. Jin snorts from across the table, rolling his eyes at Taehyung’s antics. “Don’t get too excited, Tae. Don’t think that Jungkookie is going to let you feed him after he’s healed. I don’t even know how he’s putting up with you right now, to be honest.”

 

Taehyung shoots Jin a cheeky grin, draping an arm across Jungkook’s shoulder. “Kookie, tell the mean old hyung that you’ll always let me feed you.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widen, glancing at Jin for assistance as he chews furiously at the piece of meat still in his mouth before swallowing.

 

Jin only holds his hands up in surrender, small laugh spilling from his lips. “Don’t look at me, kid. Taehyung doesn’t ever listen to what I say. You’re on your own.”

 

Namjoon reaches across and gently ruffles Jungkook’s hair, serious expression on his face. “I believe in you. Fighting!”

 

Jungkook can’t stop the laughing snort that erupts, hand reaching up to cover his mouth. “You make it sound like I’m going off to war.”

 

Namjoon presses a hand against his shoulder, his demeanour still displaying mock seriousness. “When dealing with Taehyung, you might as well be.”

 

“Yah! Take that back!” Taehyung yells, trying to reach behind Jungkook and smack Namjoon, who evades his hand easily.

 

The table settles down again after Taehyung’s outburst, everyone tucking back into their food. Jin plays with the fabric of Namjoon’s long sleeve shirt, fingers tangling at the sleeve opening before rubbing soft circles on the pale skin of his wrist.

 

Hoseok notices the movement and turns to Yoongi, making gagging gestures at the couple’s cuteness. Yoongi smiles, nodding his head in agreement. He waits for Hoseok to take a sip from his beer before leaning over and whispering into his ear. “They’re going to fuck like bunnies as soon as we leave.”

 

Hoseok nearly sprays the beer over the table at the blunt comment, brow furrowing as the image of his friends having sex enters his mind. “Ugh, dude, why would you say that? I don’t want to imagine that shit.”

 

Yoongi snorts, bringing his own beer up to his lips and leaning back in his chair. “Then why don’t you imagine something else?”

 

Hoseok’s eyes run down the length of Yoongi’s lean torso, covered by a pristine white dress shirt. His gaze flitters down to Yoongi’s left hand, which is playing with the hem of his shirt. His eyes rake up to meet Yoongi’s, lust clouding his vision as he stares into the smug chocolate orbs.

 

Jimin pokes him in the ribs, causing him to flinch back guiltily as Jimin asks Yoongi to pass the vegetables. Hoseok is so confused. They seem so happy together, and yet both times he’s met up with them there’s a sexual tension that lingers in the air, a hunger that the duo emit.

 

Yes, Hoseok is very confused.

 

He bites his lip thoughtfully, pushing the food around his plate with his fork. He glances up to find Taehyung staring at him, eyes narrowed into slits momentarily before slipping his gaze back to Jungkook. Hoseok knows a warning when he sees one, Taehyung being protective and affectionate towards the newcomer. He knows that he’ll need to tread carefully around Tae, especially if he doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of Taehyung’s… fits.

 

*~*~*

 

Yoongi, Jimin and Hoseok stand by the front door as they say their farewells. Jin exclaiming they should stay longer but Jimin politely declines, insisting that Jungkook should get some rest. They had stayed for a movie after dinner, but Yoongi saw that Jungkook’s eyes struggled to stay open, curled up on Tae’s lap.

 

“This was fun. We should do this again some time,” Jimin announces happily, seemingly ignoring the tense start to the evening.

 

Jungkook smiles in return at Jimin’s enthusiasm, nodding tentatively. His fingers play with the loose fabric of his shirt, itching to reach out and hug the kind-hearted boy. “I would like that, hyung.”

 

The trio wave in goodbye and head towards the elevator, pressing the button for the garage. Jin had organised a visitors’ spot for them to park their car.

 

Hoseok makes conversation during the car ride back, asking the couple what their jobs are seeing as he forgot to ask the last time they’d met. Yoongi speaks enthusiastically on his boyfriend’s behalf, constantly praising Jimin on his achievements and university degree. Hoseok smiles at the way Yoongi speaks about Jimin, his eyes crinkled happily with a gummy smile plastered on his face.

 

Yoongi turns in his seat as they approach their neighbourhood, looking over at Hoseok. “Did you want to come over to our place? It’s still pretty early.”

 

Hoseok glances over at the glowing 8:15 on the dashboard and notes the way Jimin’s hands clench against the steering wheel.

 

He looks back up at Yoongi’s soft gaze, wetting his lips subconsciously. “I don’t know if I should. I don’t want to impose.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head, dismissing Hoseok’s hesitation. “It’s fine. We’re just going to chill anyway.”

 

Hoseok glances over at Jimin once more before nodding his head slowly, carefully. “Al-alright then.”

 

Jimin’s shoulders relax, sinking into the driver’s seat. His eyes flicker up at Yoongi in thanks, having tried to work up the courage to ask Hoseok during the ride home. They pull up to their small apartment building, parking the car in their designated spot which is hard to distinguish from its faded lines and number. Jimin’s eyes catch Hoseok’s in the rear view mirror, he offers the other a small smile before stepping out of the car and into the cool breeze of the night. Hoseok fights back a shiver, pulling the lapels of his jacket closer to his neck in an attempt to evade the icy winds.

 

They walk in silence, listening to the soft chirping of crickets in the overgrown garden in front of the complex. Half dead foliage spills over onto the pathway, the dry leaves crackling loudly under their feet as Yoongi leads Hoseok up the main path to the entrance, a cracked glass door with a rusty lock. Jimin trails behind them slowly, enjoying the sight of Hoseok’s ass shifting in the tight material of his jeans as he walks. His mouth waters in anticipation at the sight, praying that Hoseok would agree to their arrangement.

 

Yoongi shoves the door open, loud scraping noise echoing in the concrete foyer and bouncing up the gray-scale staircase. A fluorescent tube washes the entry way with a stark white light, the sterile brightness irritating Hoseok’s eyes as they step into the tiny elevator.

 

The interior of the elevator is all metal bars and exposed wires, contrasting heavily with the opulent elevator back at Jin’s building. It’s funny how similar Yoongi and Jimin’s building is to the place he’s staying at, which is also broken and mouldy, but at least here the elevator works. He has to walk up five flights of stairs to get back to his friend’s apartment.

 

They tread down a narrow hallway, walls covered in a peeling mint green wallpaper, reminding Hoseok of a hospital. A subtle but foul mouldy odor permeates from the cheap maroon carpet that lines the floor, permanently buckled and swollen from the humidity of summer’s past.

 

They listen to the muffled conversations of other tenants as they pass their doors, conversations almost distinguishable through the thin walls. They come to a stop at an off-white door, scuffed and faded golden number 24 nailed to the front. Jimin flicks through his keys, soft clinking noise travelling down the hallway as he fumbles. He pushes the door open, feeling around the wall blindly for the light switch. Yoongi steps back, arm resting against the doorframe by his head and waves Hoseok in, closing the door behind him as he follows.

 

Hoseok glances around the small apartment as he enters, kicking off his shoes haphazardly by the front door. The black and white checkered pattern of the linoleum is faded, obvious black streaks tracking along the floor from the scraping of furniture legs.

 

Yoongi taps his shoulder questioningly and makes a sweeping gesture over his form, asking for his jacket. Hoseok gives Yoongi a shy smile, shrugging off the piece of clothing and leaving him with only a thin t-shirt to cover his torso. He rubs his arms with his hands, trying to warm his skin and rid himself of the pebbly goosebumps that run down the length of his arms as Jimin flicks on the thermostat.

 

He taps the little screen a couple of times, waiting for the light to switch on. It was the deciding feature for choosing the apartment, despite being shitty in all other aspects. The heating and cooling worked fairly well. Mainly during winter, Yoongi struggles with maintaining his body temperature, falling cold very easily. Jimin needed to test the thermostat features before signing the lease, burden lifted off of his heart when he found that it worked fine.

 

A soft, warm breeze blows out of the small vent as it heats up, almost making Hoseok shiver in delight as it caresses over his exposed skin. Yoongi shrugs off his own coat and presses a hand to the small of Hoseok’s back, nudging him forward until they reach the lounge area. His eyes trace over the various framed photos of the couple that litter the shelves and streak the walls, each photo different and unique. Hoseok thinks he sees a picture of a much younger Jimin with ice cream in his hair and an upset Yoongi in the background, but misses the opportunity for a closer look as Yoongi gestures at the sofa.

 

He lowers himself onto the sofa, Yoongi sinking down into the mismatching cushions beside him while Jimin lingers by the entryway to the kitchen, hesitation marring his features. Hoseok furrows his brow as his eyes flicker between the two in confusion, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans nervously.

 

Yoongi nods once at Jimin supportively, head lolling back against the sofa and thigh brushing against Hoseok’s. “Ask, Jimin.”

 

Jimin’s fingers fiddle apprehensively as he chews on his bottom lip, unsure as to how to start the conversation. “Uhm…Yoongi and I have been together for years, since the start of high school basically. We’ve know each other for much longer. He uhm…”

 

Hoseok tenses, not knowing where Jimin’s vague words are leading.

 

“We spoke about something a while back and after meeting you we spoke about it again. You see… we’re both attracted to you, Hoseok.”

 

Hoseok gulps at Jimin’s confession, hands clenching against his knees in surprise. Yoongi leans over, lean fingers rubbing soothing circles into the back of his hand, trying to loosen his grip.

 

“We’re both attracted to you, and we wanted to know if you’d like to join us… in bed.” Jimin anxiously stutters over his sentence, blush travelling down his neck at the embarrassment of his own words. Thinking of his sexual attraction towards Hoseok is easy, voicing his desires… not so much.

 

Hoseok holds his breath, completely startled by the offer. He’d honestly thought that the couple had been playing with him over their past two encounters, but they were only testing the waters, to see how he would react. But why? Why would they want this from him?

 

Jimin is at the top tier in terms of physical attractiveness, exquisite body rippling with finely toned muscle, cheeky smile, and a voice that Hoseok doesn’t doubt sounds amazing when he comes. That being said, Hoseok also finds Yoongi’s lithe and lanky form to be as equally attractive, though he could stand to gain some weight, his pale cheeks a little too gaunt for Hoseok’s liking.  

 

Yoongi reaches out to brush his cheek bone with his fingers, bringing him out of his thoughts. “You don’t have to, there’s no pressure. It’s just something Jiminnie has always wanted to try. He picked you, and I have to say, I wholeheartedly agreed. If you don’t want to do this though, it’s perfectly alright, we’ll drive you home and we can forget this ever happened. We’ll just be friends.”

 

Hoseok’s gaze flicks rapidly between the two, not knowing where to keep his eyes. “And if I say yes?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes darken with lust, the fingers on Hoseok’s cheek caressing down his neck and resting heavily on his pulse point. “Then we fuck. No strings attached. No commitments. Just fun for tonight.”

 

Hoseok glances back over at Jimin, searching the boy’s hopeful eyes as if they held the answers to all of Hoseok’s questions. Jimin inches towards the couch, gnawing gently on his bottom lip as he waits for Hoseok’s answer.  

 

Hoseok stares down at the carpet of the lounge, deep in thought as he considers the proposition. He can easily go and find a quick fuck at the clubs he regularly goes to without the risk of tangling himself in someone else’s relationship. He’s had a threesome before, though there aren’t many opportunities for it on the casual scene. Hoseok thinks back to the tangle of sweaty bodies, unable to determine where one person started and the other ended. It was rough, painful even as he got fucked, mind clouded and not fully comprehending the situation he’d gotten himself into. But here, there are so many things that can go wrong when feelings are involved. Luckily for them, Hoseok is good at drowning his emotions out. Well… most of them, anyway.

 

He reaches out, entwining his twitching fingers with Jimin’s. “Yes.”

 

A blinding smile stretches across Jimin’s face in excitement, pulling Hoseok up to his feet gently. Yoongi stands as well, trailing after them as Jimin leads Hoseok down the dimly lit hall by the hand. Hoseok’s heart beats furiously in his chest, blood rushing to his ears until it’s all that he can hear. Jimin pushes the bedroom door open, glancing back at Hoseok, offering him another chance to back out.

 

Hoseok smiles, and decides his fate with a nod of his head. Jimin tugs on his hand softly, drawing him into the darkness of the room. Yoongi turns the bedside lamp on, enveloping the trio in a warm, yellow light, their shadows mingling on the floor. Jimin leans forward, nose brushing against Hoseok’s and warm breath dancing across his cheek as he presses a gentle kiss to Hoseok’s lips.

 

Thousands of sparks dance across Hoseok’s skin at the contact, a deep moan rippling from his throat as he opens his mouth, allowing Jimin’s seeking tongue access. Yoongi presses himself fully against Hoseok’s back, half-hard length pressing into the swell of his ass as he languidly kisses and bites his way up the column of Hoseok’s lightly tanned neck. Without removing his mouth from Jimin’s, Hoseok tilts his neck, giving Yoongi more room to work with.

 

Yoongi’s grip on Hoseok’s hips are tight, holding him still as he grinds forward, seeking friction for his growing arousal. Jimin pulls back to watch his boyfriend rock against Hoseok and mouth sloppily at his neck, turning a blotchy red at the love bites Yoongi is sucking into Hoseok’s skin.

 

His eyes flicker to Hoseok’s half lidded ones, tracing over his swollen lips and the deep rise and fall of his chest. Hoseok’s pupils are fully dilated, his body shaking with anticipation as Jimin stares at him like a lion would its prey. Jimin’s body sings with arousal at the sight, demanding more.

 

He reaches down, tugging at the hem of Hoseok’s shirt before pulling it over his head and throwing it onto the floor. He takes a moment to appraise Hoseok’s body as it’s revealed, the smooth stretch of lightly tanned skin makes Jimin lick his lips in want. His fingers caress down the length of Hoseok’s lean torso, pausing briefly to brush a thumb over one nipple and taking the other into his mouth. Hoseok sucks in a quick breath at the sensation, body arching into the pleasurable touch. His hands shoot out, desperately pulling at Jimin’s shirt.

 

Jimin smirks, pulling back and allowing Hoseok to frantically pull the fabric off and chuck it onto the growing pile on the floor. He freezes when he’s greeted with the sight of Jimin’s defined abdomen, the younger filling out exactly, if not better, than Hoseok imagined. He reaches out slowly, feather light touch brushing over each bump of Jimin’s abs in delightful disbelief.

 

He sucks in a sharp breath as his fingers dance over the sharp V-cut of Jimin’s pelvic muscles, trailing down to the waistband of his tight jeans. He hesitates, knuckles brushing against the soft trail of hair on his lower stomach before tearing at the opening of Jimin’s jeans.

 

Jimin chuckles at Hoseok’s impatience, Hoseok licking sloppily across his collarbones as he struggles with the zipper. Jimin basks in the man’s eagerness, going to undo Hoseok’s pants as he kicks off his own along with his socks.

 

His eyes flicker over Hoseok’s shoulder as he shoves Hoseok’s jeans down his hips, searching for Yoongi’s eyes. His boyfriend catches his gaze as he yanks his shirt over his head, revealing an expanse of unblemished, pale skin that Jimin wants bite and bruise. Yoongi leans back against the bedroom wall, watching the two rip at each other’s clothing as he palms himself leisurely through his jeans.

 

Jimin thrusts against Hoseok, now only separated by the thin layer of their underwear. He groans at the friction of the fabric as they grind together, inching backwards towards the bed as Hoseok leans in and steals Jimin’s breath away. The back of his calves hit the foot of the bed and Hoseok gently lowers him down onto the mattress, crawling up to straddle his powerful thighs.

 

Hoseok’s hands trail down Jimin’s chiselled chest adeptly, like he’s known the body all his life, eliciting stuttered breaths from the squirming body below. He tugs at the elastic of Jimin’s boxer briefs, letting the material snap against Jimin’s skin playfully.

 

Hoseok nudges the hardness with his nose, mouthing at Jimin’s length through the underwear and admiring the damp patch of precum that wets the fabric. He licks his lips as he tugs the boxer briefs over Jimin’s hips and down his legs, chucking the fabric carelessly over his shoulder. He can hear Yoongi moving around behind him, breath closeby and quickening at the perfect sight of Jimin’s naked body.

 

Hoseok can’t help but take a moment to admire the physique on display beneath him, Jimin’s torso rising and falling deeply with every harsh breath, the deep hue of red dusting his cheeks as he relishes in each of Hoseok’s fleeting touches.

 

Jimin’s arousal, now unrestricted by the fabric of his underwear, rests heavily against his stomach. Hoseok bites his bottom lip in concentration, wrapping his hand around the base of Jimin’s length and pumping the warm flesh once. He watches as the flushed, red tip leaks precum, using his palm to spread the slick substance over Jimin’s erection, easing the glide as he pumps again. Jimin’s eyelashes flutter shut as he tilts his head back in pleasure, fingers clenching against the sheets.

 

Hoseok stares up as he jerks Jimin off, eyes trailing hungrily over the stretched column of his neck and slight bob of his adam's apple. He leans forward, licking a broad stripe on the underside of Jimin’s cock, causing the younger to buck his hips up in surprise as he traces over a particularly large vein with the tip of his tongue.

 

Hoseok’s lips curl up in a smug grin as a string of expletives spew from Jimin’s plump lips, his head thrashing from side to side. “Hos-Hoseok…”

 

Jimin hears the soft thump of pants hitting the floor, peeking through one eye at the feeling of the mattress dipping from added weight. Yoongi crawls across to him, now completely naked, and captures Jimin’s moan with his mouth as Hoseok continues to stroke him. Jimin can’t help but admire the way that Yoongi’s skin glows in the soft light, eyes raking over his thin form.

 

‘Beautiful.’

 

Yoongi hisses as Jimin reaches over and runs his thumb over the slit of Yoongi’s cock, spreading the precum like Hoseok is doing to him. “Yoon… Yoongi… I want you in my mouth.”

 

Yoongi chokes at the comment, thumb caressing the swell of Jimin’s cheek lovingly. “Okay, sweetie.”

 

He presses a brief and final kiss to Jimin’s panting mouth before glancing over at Hoseok, whose eyes are clouded with lust. He turns on his knees, reaching into the bed side table for a small bottle of lube as Hoseok’s eyes eat up the sight of his lanky body. He quirks an eyebrow at Hoseok in question, not sure as to whether the man preferred to top or bottom.

 

Jimin reaches up and grabs Hoseok’s hips, pulling him down so that they are pressed against each other again, making the decision for him. “Please, Hoseok. I want to feel you. Please, fuck me.”

 

Hoseok gulps loudly, hips thrusting up once uncontrollably at Jimin’s pleading words before hesitantly reaching over to take the lube from Yoongi’s outstretched hand. He searches Yoongi’s eyes for any doubt, any reluctance for what's about to come. Yoongi had already said that he was okay with giving Jimin the whole threesome experience, but Hoseok just needs to be sure. The last thing he wants is cause trouble between the two, doing something he hasn’t got permission to do.

 

Yoongi, noticing Hoseok’s hesitation, gives the boy a small smile, nodding in approval. Hoseok sits back on his knees, pulling his underwear off awkwardly and staring down at the flushed body beneath him that is shaking with need.

 

He wets his lips, looking over at Yoongi. “Condom? I think I’m clean, but I’m not sure. I need to get tested.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes soften at Hoseok’s consideration, reaching back into the draw and pulling out a condom. He crawls over to Hoseok, pressing his chest against Hoseok’s back like before as he rips the foil package open and rolls the condom down Hoseok’s length. Yoongi presses a hand against the soft skin below his belly button, caressing the smooth skin as the other hand fists at his cock. Hoseok reaches up, tangling his fingers and tugging gently at Yoongi’s platinum tassels. His nose slides against the line of Hoseok’s jaw, lips brushing the corner of his mouth when he turns his head.

 

Jimin props himself up onto his elbows to watch the two, heart pounding in his chest at the sight of Yoongi running his hands over Hoseok’s body, teasing him.

 

‘Fucking hell, that’s hot.’

 

At the feeling of Jimin’s eyes on him, Yoongi backs up, turning to pull Jimin up against his chest as Hoseok pours some lube onto his fingers. He rubs his fingers together, warming the slick substance before reaching down between Jimin’s legs. His fingers brush against the sensitive skin behind Jimin’s balls before pressing against his entrance, massaging the area as Jimin squirms under his touch.

 

He slips one finger in to the knuckle slowly, eyes trained on Jimin’s face to detect any discomfort. He thrusts the finger in and out a couple of times, allowing Jimin a chance to get used to the intrusion before slowly adding another finger. Jimin bites his lip at the slow friction, body arching for more. It’s been so long since he’s bottomed and he can’t help but feel a little impatient, not minding the subtle burn from lack of preparation. He shoves down against Hoseok’s gentle, scissoring fingers, enjoying the dull burn, demanding more.

 

Hoseok raises an eyebrow at the boy, drizzling more lube onto his fingers before pressing three digits into the tight heat of Jimin’s entrance, disregarding the boy's impatience. He doesn’t want to rush and risk making it painful for Jimin if he can avoid it, rather taking his time to properly prep him.

 

Yoongi’s hands caress up and down Jimin’s sides, mouthing at his jaw as he watches his boyfriend fall apart at the hands of another man. His eyes trace over the skillful fingers thrusting into Jimin’s pliant body, eyes travelling up Hoseok’s arm and across the glistening skin of his sweat-slicked brow. He can’t help but note the tenderness in Hoseok’s advances, never pushing, taking his time to ensure Jimin is comfortable. His heart swells knowing that they made the right choice picking Hoseok, that they are safe with him in this vulnerable and intimate moment.

 

Jimin reaches up and yanks at Hoseok’s hair impatiently, fingers curling against his scalp. “For fuck’s sake, Hoseok. Get on with it. I’m going to die of old age before I get to come.”

 

Hoseok rears back slightly, an amused smirk on his face as he thrusts his fingers a couple more times just to irritate the boy. He reaches over and grabs the bottle of lube, drizzling some of the clear substance over his arousal, stroking so it is evenly spread. “Jimin. Can you get up onto your hands and knees for me?”

 

Jimin flips over as soon as the words leave Hoseok’s mouth, back arched and legs spread wantonly. As soon as he’s in the new position he leans down and takes Yoongi into his mouth, sucking down his boyfriend’s length until the tip of Yoongi’s cock nudges the back of his throat. His nose brushes against Yoongi’s pubic bone as he swallows around the length, enjoying the way Yoongi’s fingers tug at his hair and he chokes out his words. “Fuck! Jimin, give me some warning will you?”

 

Jimin pulls off, licking the tip with the flat of his tongue before smirking mischievously up at Yoongi. “But where’s the fun in that?”

 

Hoseok lets out a soft laugh at their banter, happy to see that their playfulness extends into the bedroom. His hands slide up the back of Jimin’s thighs, fingers grasping at supple skin and tracing the delectable curve of his ass. Hoseok wants to bite into the swell of Jimin’s ass cheek, mark him so he remembers their time together, but Hoseok restrains himself, leaving a trail of open mouthed kisses instead.

 

He spreads Jimin’s cheeks, revealing his stretched opening. Hoseok leans forward, hot breath caressing the sensitive area, causing Jimin to tense as he deliberates what to do. “Do you want me to rim you, Jimin? Do you want me to fuck you with my tongue until you come?”

 

Jimin pulls off Yoongi’s length, gasping at Hoseok’s blunt words as it sends another ripple of arousal down his spine. “I want… I haven’t prepared, Hoseok. Please, just fuck me.”

 

Hoseok grabs the base of his arousal, rubbing the slicked tip over Jimin’s twitching entrance a couple of times before pressing forwards, watching as the head of his cock slips into Jimin’s tight heat.

 

Jimin moans, taking Yoongi into his mouth again and moaning irritably when Hoseok stills. Hoseok glances up and stares into Yoongi’s eyes as he continues to press forwards, filling Jimin until his hips are flush against Jimin’s ass.

 

Yoongi’s eyes flutter shut under the intensity of Hoseok’s gaze as he bottoms out in Jimin, causing the younger's mouth to tighten around Yoongi’s arousal. He runs his fingers through Jimin’s soft hair, cooing in praise at Jimin’s eagerness.

 

After a long moment, giving him a chance to adjust to the burning stretch, he thrusts back against Hoseok. Hoseok grips his hips tightly, fingers digging crescents into the skin and drawing back slowly before thrusting forward roughly, jostling Jimin and causing Yoongi’s length to slip even further down Jimin’s throat. The trio groan, loud moans and the sound of slapping skin echoing off the walls of the bedroom. Hoseok snaps his hips forward repeatedly, purposely avoiding Jimin’s prostate to delay his orgasm.

 

He leans forward, stomach pressed against Jimin’s lower back and arms gripping supportively against the bed on either side of Jimin’s body. He watches Yoongi grab a fistful of Jimin’s hair, his hips thrusting shallowly into the warmth of Jimin’s mouth as he fucks his throat. Hoseok’s eyes widen in surprise at how well the boy takes it, relaxing his throat and controlling his breaths.

 

‘Besides wanting to try a threesome, maybe the boy is more kinky than I thought.’

 

Jimin’s hand curls up towards his cock, trying to relieve the pressure of his oncoming orgasm, but his hand is slapped away by Hoseok. “No, you don’t get to come until I let you.”

 

Jimin whimpers around Yoongi’s length, fingers clenching at the denied release. Hoseok continues his relentless pace, sweaty forehead pressing against the sweat-slicked skin between Jimin’s shoulder blades, the salty flavour assaulting his senses as he licks a stripe across the heated skin.

 

For the first time since he’s started using, Hoseok feels glad that he’s off his regular dose. He knows that he’ll remember every sound the couple makes, the taste of their skin, their lips and the ghost of their touch. It’s a little slice of happiness he can keep tucked away in his mind when he tortures himself by thinking about what he can never have.

 

Fingers tangle loosely in his hair, causing him to look up at Yoongi, who is staring down at him intently.

 

He turns his head, pressing a soft kiss to Yoongi’s wrist before rising up, thrusts slowing down when he realises he hasn’t kissed Yoongi properly yet. Jimin pauses, breathing through his nose as Hoseok slows, giving him a chance to recuperate as he runs his hands soothingly up and down Yoongi’s tense thighs.

 

Hoseok leans forward, careful not to jostle Jimin too much as he slams his lips against Yoongi’s, his hand stroking down his throat and chest. Yoongi pulls back, nudging Hoseok’s cheek with his nose and his fingers tangling in Jimin’s hair once again. “Finish it.”

 

Hoseok head jerks in a nod, hips slamming forward again rapidly, searching for Jimin’s prostate. Jimin lets out a surprised muffled groan and Hoseok smirks, pounding relentlessly against the spot over and over again, causing sparks of pleasure to shoot through Jimin’s body. He reaches underneath Jimin and grips his arousal, allowing the force of his thrusts to push Jimin’s hips forward and his cock through the tight ring of Hoseok’s fingers. “Jiminnie, baby, come for me.”

 

Yoongi shouts, fingers tightening in Jimin’s hair as he comes. Jimin swallows every drop of Yoongi’s orgasm, savouring the slightly bitter but completely unique and addicting flavour of his boyfriend, the taste flaring on his tongue. He pulls off Yoongi, breathing heavily and coughing slightly at the sudden emptiness of his throat. Yoongi strokes the side of his face tenderly as his body shakes, needing something to push him over the edge. Yoongi reaches across, fingers rubbing firmly around the stretched ring of Jimin’s entrance around Hoseok cock as he thrusts into him, knuckles brushing against Hoseoks stomach every time he bottoms out.

 

Jimin yelps at the intimate touch, fingers curling against Yoongi’s hips and back arching as he comes undone, orgasm spilling over Hoseok’s fingers and onto the sheets beneath him. Hoseok chases his own pleasure once he knows he’s taken care of Jimin first, body rutting into Jimin’s now pliant body, which is twitching from hypersensitivity.

 

Jimin’s soft voice reaches Hoseok’s ears, “Hyung. Come for me.”

 

Hoseok groans loudly, spilling into the condom, his hips jerking and slowing as he rides out his orgasm.

 

Heavy breaths dance across skin as time slowly passes, Jimin’s body beginning to slump against Yoongi’s in exhaustion. Hoseok slowly pulls out, Jimin hissing at the loss as Hoseok removes himself, entrance clenching around air.

 

Hoseok sits back on his knees, removing the condom, tying it, and chucking it into the bin beside the dresser. He runs a hand through his sweaty hair and gazes at the couple, Jimin leaning heavily against Yoongi’s chest and their lips pressing together tenderly, gripping each other like lifelines. Hoseok’s heart clenches at the scene, eyes darting away at the intimate moment. He slips off of the bed, reaching for his clothes on the floor.

 

Jimin peeks over his shoulder, eyes sparkling with confusion as Hoseok picks up his clothing. “What are you doing?”

 

“I… I need to go so I can make the last bus home,” Hoseok mumbles, eyes glued to the floor and not wanting to see the indifference in Jimin’s eyes.

 

Tentative fingers entwine with his, tugging softly and making his head snap up in surprise. Jimin sits perched at the end of the bed, eyes gazing up sadly as if Hoseok leaving after their agreed one-time fuck would upset him. “Stay?”

 

Hoseok sucks a sharp breath through his nose, eyes flickering up to Yoongi, who is reclined back against the pillows of their small double bed, sated smile stretched across his tired features. “Stay.”

 

Hoseok hesitantly drops his clothes, knowing that staying is a bad idea, but slips in beside Jimin anyway. He rests his arm against the curve of Jimin’s waist as he spoons the younger, breath fanning over the back of his neck. Jimin hums contently, both pressing back against Hoseok and snuggling forward into Yoongi’s chest at the same time.

 

Yoongi presses a kiss to Jimin’s forehead, the younger’s eyes already shut as he drifts off to sleep. He glances over Jimin’s shoulder to meet Hoseok’s eyes, giving him a sleepy smile before draping his arm over Jimin’s bicep to stroke at Hoseok’s neck softly. Tears well up in Hoseok’s eyes at the tenderness of the touch, a tenderness that he hasn’t felt since he was a child.

 

It’s in that position they fall asleep, forgetting about the lamp, Hoseok’s mind drifting and thinking about whether he’d ever be stable enough to have someone like Yoongi or Jimin to call his own.

 

*~*~*

 

Hoseok’s hand reaches up, trying to block the rays of sunlight shining through the ratty holes of the curtain. He squints as he gazes around the room, slightly disoriented at the unfamiliar setting. It’s not until he looks down to see a mop of platinum hair and a pale arm slung over his stomach that he remembers the events of last night. He’s never stayed the night before after his night time ‘activities,’ but something made him stay last night.

 

He gently runs his fingers through the soft tendrils of Yoongi’s hair, careful not to wake him. He looks so peaceful when he sleeps, like he hasn’t got a care in the world. His fingers indulgently trace over the curve of Yoongi’s lips, freezing and removing his fingers when Yoongi rustles in his sleep.

 

Hoseok quietly extracts himself from Yoongi’s arms, slipping out of the bed and searching the floor for his clothes. He notes the neatly folded pile on top of the dresser.

 

‘Jimin must have cleaned up when he’d awoken.’

 

He reaches for the clothes when he sees a note sitting on top of the pile.

 

‘You can put these back on or feel free to put on something comfortable. Trackies and t-shirts are in the top draw. ~Jiminnie’

 

He hesitates for a moment before pulling the draw open, putting on the first pair of tracksuit pants that he sees, almost moaning at the feel of soft material. He quietly steps out into the hall, pulling on the shirt as he heads towards the kitchen, following the delicious smell of breakfast.

 

He holds back a laugh as he leans against the door frame, gazing fondly over Jimin’s form. Jimin is swaying his hips softly, singing along with the K-pop song that’s playing from the radio, but that’s not what catches Hoseok’s attention. Jimin is wearing a short, pink frilly apron… and nothing underneath. The bow he’s haphazardly tied himself dangles loosely just above the swell of his firm ass. His delicious muscular thighs clenching and shifting as he sways along with the beat.

 

Hoseok clears his throat, catching Jimin’s attention. “Now, when you said you liked to dance, I didn’t think you meant this.”

 

Jimin startles at the voice, but gazes flirtatiously over his shoulder once he realizes that it’s Hoseok. “I do look hot like this though.”

 

Hoseok crosses his arms, not minding the sight of Jimin in traditional female clothing. Maybe it could be something they could explore if the couple ever decided to invite him into their bed again. “You are hot.”

 

A small blush dances across Jimin’s cheeks as Hoseok crosses the room, wrapping an arm around his waist. “I – we – had fun last night, Hoseok. Thank you.”

 

Hoseok presses a chaste kiss to Jimin’s jaw, not wanting to overstep boundaries and peers down to watch him make breakfast. “It was my pleasure, but please, call me Hobi.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

 

The afternoon sun lights the endless hallways, empty save for the cleaners that diligently mop the floors. The students finished school around half an hour ago, vacating the school grounds in a matter of minutes, all eager to return home. All except for Namjoon, grumbling under his breath as he makes his way to detention. He pushes the heavy door with more force than necessary, handle banging against the wall loudly as it swings open. Namjoon winces at the noise, cautiously looking up at the detention supervisor in apology before slipping into an empty seat.

 

The teacher arches her eyebrow at the newcomer. “Well, well, well. I never thought I’d see you here, Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon offers the teacher a sheepish smile, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “Trust me, I didn’t see myself here either.”

 

The teacher lets out a small laugh, having had Namjoon in her class before and knowing his normally outstanding character. “Try not to make a habit of it. I’d hate to see you end up like Mr. Jung over here.”

 

 It’s only then that Namjoon notices the other boy that’s sitting nearby, his forehead resting against the graffiti-riddled desk. His chestnut hair is thoroughly rustled, like fingers have raked through the mess a thousand times today.

 

A soft groan erupts from the mass at the mention of his name, sitting up and leaning heavily against the chair. “Please. You’d miss me if I stopped coming to detention.”

 

The teacher shakes her head disapprovingly, but still has a small smile on her face. “You boys behave. I’ll be back in exactly one hour - and you’d better be here when I get back or you’ll have an extra week of detention to look forward to.”

 

Namjoon slumps in his seat after the teacher leaves the classroom, listening to the soft click of her shoes as she walks down the hallway.

 

“Kim. Nam. Joon.” The boy sings mockingly, face cradled in his hands as he leans on the desk with his elbows. “Fancy seeing you here.”

 

Namjoon snorts loudly, startling the boy as he tilts his head back in a rough laugh. “I think you’ll find that it’s ‘Sunbae’ to you. Jung. Ho. Seok.”

 

Hoseok’s eyes widen at the over-achiever’s snark, not pegging him to be someone with the balls to talk back, especially to someone as notorious as Hoseok.

 

‘My, my. The guy’s got a spine after all.’

 

“My apologies. Good afternoon, sunbae-nim.” Hoseok smirks, emphasising the honorific and watching triumphantly as the tendon in Namjoon’s cheek jumps in irritation.

 

Namjoon stares forward, attempting to ignore the boy as he mentally counts down the seconds until he can leave this hellhole, but Hoseok is having none of it. He chucks a scrunched paper ball at the side of Namjoon’s face, causing the elder’s nostrils to flare in exasperation.

 

“What?” Namjoon hisses through clenched teeth, swivelling around in his seat to glare at Hoseok.

 

“Do you know that you’re quite easy to piss off?” Hoseok laughs, twirling a pen with his nimble fingers. “What are you in for?”

 

Namjoon purses his lips, raking a hand through his silver hair. “Skipping class. You?”

 

“Rookie,” Hoseok sniggers at his attitude and the seemingly basic nature of his offence. Hoseok points to himself, wide grin stretched over his face. “Destruction of school property.”

 

Namjoon rolls his eyes, not understanding the boy’s need for petty rebelliousness. “What, did the table look at you strangely?”

 

Hoseok lets out a sarcastic laugh, hand coming up to hold his stomach dramatically. “Sunbae-nim, you’re so funny.”

 

Namjoon doesn’t dignify the teasing remark with an answer, turning back in his seat to face the front of the classroom.

 

“It’s refreshing, you know? You talking back at me, unfazed by my shitty personality. It’s been awhile since someone’s been able to do that. You’re not scared of me.” Hoseok muses thoughtfully, the lightness to his voice makes Namjoon hesitantly glance over his shoulder.

 

“Please. I deal with much bigger and scarier fish than you, Jung Hoseok.” Namjoon states simply, disregarding the curious look Hoseok sends him at his words.

 

Hoseok rises from his seat, slipping into the desk next to Namjoon’s, despite the elders vehement protests. “Well, you can’t say that and then not elaborate. You’ve piqued my interest.”

 

Namjoon smirks, leaning in closely so that their faces are inches apart. “Do you really want to know, Hoseok? Can you handle it?”

 

Hoseok nods hesitantly, eyes peering into Namjoon’s piercing gaze almost nervously as he awaits Namjoon’s words. “I want to know.”

 

The elder boy only smiles, unbuttoning the cuff of his white long-sleeved school shirt and shoving the fabric to his elbow. 

 

Hoseok’s eyes trail up the newly exposed skin, admiring the lean cording of muscle up Namjoon’s arm, the elder obviously working on his physique. But what catches Hoseok’s gaze is the dark ink that adorns Namjoon’s skin. The large symbol nearly runs the length of his forearm, red highlights and black lines highly visible without the protection of a sleeved shirt.

 

Hoseok stares in awe, mouth gaping at the sight of a symbol he’s only ever seen on the news. His eyes jump up to meet Namjoon’s, unable to speak from a loss of words.

 

Namjoon sends Hoseok a cheeky grin, pressing a finger to his lips in a secretive manner before pulling his sleeve back down, hiding the tattoo from sight.

 

Hoseok sits up straighter in his seat, fingers tapping excitedly against the table. “You’re… You’re one of them?”

 

Namjoon nods confidently, slumping back in his seat. “So whatever games you wanna play with me kid… don’t. Because trust me, you’ll lose.”

 

The two sit there in relative silence after that, Hoseok interjecting with small questions about Namjoon’s life and general small talk. Namjoon learns that Hoseok likes getting detention just so he can have some time to himself, his entourage not hanging off of his shoulder for the brief hour he’s locked away at school.

 

“I just get tired with all the shit that happens you know? Why can’t everything just be quiet for once?” Hoseok mumbles, fingers tracing over the graffiti on the desk.

 

Namjoon may not know much about the boy, but his words cut Namjoon to the bone. There’s a sadness that lingers in his voice that no sixteen year old boy should have.

 

Namjoon’s brow dips into a frown, lips curling downwards as he watches the boy pick at the peeling paint of the desk, lost in his own mind.

 

The teacher takes this moment to return, opening the door and poking her head inside. “Good. You didn’t kill each other. Time’s up guys, beat it.”

 

They stay seated until they can no longer hear her footsteps, rising slowly from their seats and heading towards the school entrance. The sun is beginning to set, the sky darkening at every passing minute. They walk in silence to the front gate, backpacks slung over their shoulders and sneakers kicking at the gravel path.

 

Hoseok hesitates at the front gate, noticing Namjoon turning to walk in the opposite direction. “You’re not so bad, sunbae-nim. Once one gets to know you. You’re not the soul sucking, bore everyone makes you out to be.”

 

Namjoon laughs at the description, reaching out to ruffle the boy’s hair playfully. “I’m glad I’ve gotten your approval. Now hurry up and go home, your parents must be worried about their delinquent of a son.”

 

He knows he’s made a mistake when Hoseok’s shoulders tense, eyes darting away rapidly. “Yeah… like they’d notice I’m not there. They’re probably not even home.”

 

Namjoon doesn’t know how to respond, but he understands. Having job-focused parents, it doesn’t leave much for the affectionate side of the relationship. He counts himself luckier than others though, having a business in the family meant they could spend a little more time with him.

 

Hoseok sighs deeply, fingers gripping at the straps of his backpack as he turns and starts heading off home. “I guess I’ll see you around then, sunbae.”

 

He pauses when Namjoon calls out his name, casting a glance over his shoulder at the older boy. “Yah! Call me hyung!”

 

The small smile doesn’t leave Hoseok’s lips for the entire walk home.

 

*~*~*

 

It’s a brisk autumn night, according to the weather reports, but Jungkook wouldn’t of known either way, because he’s toasty under a bundle of blankets, protected from earthly elements by impeccable insulation. The floors are heated, the walls are heated, and best of all – his bed is heated. He can’t recall a time he’s ever felt so cozy. His head lies on goose down pillows and his bed sheets feel as though they’ve been woven from cotton so fine it could lull the most delicate of angels. He’s basking in absolute silence, the walls soundproofed to the point where the silence is deafening, and the darkness is so dense he wouldn’t be able to see his own hand even if he waved it in front of his face. He should’ve been able to get to sleep within minutes with how unbelievably comfortable he is.

 

So why can’t he…?

 

He’s been tossing and turning and fidgeting and contemplating for over an hour now, snug but blatantly dissatisfied. He can close his eyes and pretend, but the emptiness beside him is still there, murmuring at him through the darkness, toying with his deeply rooted anxieties.

 

In his eighteen years on this earth, Jeon Jungkook has never once had a room to himself. As a child he shared his room with his older brother, and after leaving home he shared a room and bed with Yukwon. As much as his ex-boyfriend used to hurt and torment him, there was no denying the warmth he felt when they spooned. It’s comforting to have the warmth of a body lying next to him, and although he’s been sleeping in this bed for well over a few days now, he cannot bring himself to sleep properly. He feels hollow when he’s left alone. He can’t stand the silence, he can’t stand the solitude, because it feeds the little voice in the back of his head that whispers to him when he’s paying attention.

 

He lets out a frustrated sigh and rolls over, turning on the light on the nightstand before sitting up. He squints to adjust to the sudden brightness, however dim it may be, feeling around amongst the sheets before his fingers curl around a familiar limb. He pulls out the soft toy that had gotten lost amongst the sea of material at some point during his nightly struggle, running his hand over the plush surface of it’s face with a small smile.

 

Jin had bought him and Taehyung a plushy each when he went out on his shopping expedition the day they moved in. Taehyung had been given a Rilakkuma plushy and Jungkook had been given a Korilakkuma plushy. Jin had excused the generosity as a simple “welcoming present,” when they both knew it was just Jin spoiling them rotten. Taehyung had been over the moon in expressing his appreciation, practically leaping onto their hyung to pepper his face with kisses. Jungkook had also been appreciative of the sweet gesture, but in his own, timid manner. He had thanked his hyung as best he could before tenderly tucking his Korilakkuma doll into his bed sheets.

 

Alas, this symbol of his hyung’s affections still proved useless in the late hours of the night. A mere toy could not replace the comfort and warmth of an actual being.

 

“What should I do, Korilakkuma?” he murmurs, squishing the bear’s cheeks roughly. Whatever answers there are, the bear sure as hell doesn’t have them.

 

‘What would Iron Man do?’ he wanders listlessly, kicking away the blankets and sheets to stare absently at his feet. He knows what he wants to do, or at least – he’s contemplating doing, but he cannot help but stress over the consequences of his own actions.

 

He gnaws on his bottom lip for about half a minute before finally slipping out of bed. He steps into the hallway and shuffles past Namjoon and Jin’s room. He thinks he hears a television on, and maybe their voices inside – but he doesn’t linger long enough to check. He makes a direct line towards the door opposite his own, Korilakkuma’s arm still clutched within his trembling grip. He lifts a fist, as if to knock, but he thinks better of it. What were the chances of disturbing Taehyung if he knocked? Almost inevitably? It’s best if he enters soundlessly. It’s likely Taehyung is already deeply asleep.

 

Jungkook is virtually soundless as he sneaks inside, closing the door behind him with a soft click. He wriggles his toes against the soft carpet and presses his lips together, unexplainably nervous.

 

Making his way over to the bed isn’t too difficult. Despite it being pitch black; Taehyung’s room is relatively identical to Jungkook’s, with the exception of an ensuite, so he is less likely to bump into anything. He feels his way around before his fingers skim across the flat plains of a mattress. He presumes Taehyung is sleeping on the other side of the large bed, making Jungkook’s objective all the more easier for him to deal with emotionally.

 

He’s as quiet as a mouse as he slips under the blankets, rigidly keeping to the edge of the mattress just incase Taehyung is a kicker in his sleep. Jungkook holds Korilakkuma close to his chest, snuggling into the warmth of his plushy. He might not have a body to cuddle with, but knowing that he isn’t alone anymore is enough to ease his anxiety.

 

Jungkook feels himself start to drift off, the clutches of a decent sleep finally taking him captive. He’s so close to teetering over that slumbering edge that he barely registers the shift of the blankets until there is warmth conspicuously pressed up against him.

 

He lets out a gasp and his body jerks, very nearly panicking, but the arms that snatch him are not only strong, but tenderly familiar. He lets himself be maneuvered and positioned more comfortably against a firm body, and he hides a smile into Korilakkuma when soft breathing fans his forehead.

 

“Rilakkuma was missing his Korilakkuma,” Taehyung murmurs as he shamelessly tangles their legs together and toys with the hair at the back of Jungkook’s head. “It made me sad when they had to be separated.”

 

Jungkook isn’t sure what exactly Taehyung is implying, but he thinks Taehyung is talking about the bears metaphorically. Although, having thought this, Taehyung isn’t conventionally-minded.

 

“Korilakkuma missed Rilakkuma too,” Jungkook responds sleepily, nuzzling his face further into Taehyung’s warm and comforting chest.

 

 

*~*~*

It’s been a stressful day. Winter is rolling in and the temperature is dropping, ice slicking the busy roads of Seoul. It’s the season for accidents and therefore the season of additional mounds of paperwork for Jin, each department at the hospital demanding more funding due to the influx of patients.

 

Rain patters heavily against the windows in the study, thunder booming and lightning crackling in the grey skies as Jin’s face scrunches into a frown. He rubs the back of his neck in frustration, restraining himself from tugging at his hair. Namjoon watches silently from the door as his other half wastes away his well-earned weekend, working himself to the bone.

 

Namjoon steps into the room and kneads Jin’s tense shoulders comfortingly, trying to draw the stress from his body as he pours over the financial plans, searching for an outcome where everyone will be satisfied. Namjoon leans down and presses a soft kiss to Jin’s temple, nose turning to bury in the soft hair behind his ear. “You’ve been sitting at this desk for hours, Jin. Take a break, just relax for a minute.”

 

Jin places the folder he’s holding onto the desk, hand reaching up to rest atop of Namjoon’s on his shoulder. “The deadline for the allocation proposal is this coming Monday, Joonie. My parents and the department heads are waiting for my plan. I don’t have any time to relax.”

 

Namjoon sucks in a sharp breath through his nose, linking his fingers with Jin’s. “At least have something to eat.”

 

Jin hums in acknowledgment, glancing down at the clock and already shuffling through his papers once again. “I will in a moment. I still need to call some people before lunch.”

 

Namjoon brushes a thumb down the side of Jin’s neck, not wanting to become a distraction and leaving his boyfriend to work in peace. The door to the study shuts with a soft click, echoing through the quiet apartment. He glances down at his watch before back up at the closed study door, making a decision on what to do.

 

Namjoon pads down the hallway towards their bedroom, picking up his car keys from atop the dresser. He slips some socks on and grabs a thick coat, heading towards Tae’s room. He knocks once before pushing the ajar door open, peering up towards the bed. Jungkook is snuggled up against Tae’s side as they watch something on his phone, one earphone in each of their ears.

 

Namjoon clears his throat, pulling the zipper up on his large jacket. “I’m going to the bakery. Do you guys want anything?”

 

Taehyung sits up excitedly from his reclined position, ripping the headphone out of a startled Jungkook’s ear with the movement. “The really, really nice and yummy one near Jimin’s place?”

 

Namjoon nods, cheek splitting smile stretching over his face at the boy’s enthusiasm, a long and excited chant of ‘Doooooonuuutttttsss’ spilling from Taehyung’s lips.

 

Namjoon rolls his eyes and glances over at Jungkook, who has yet to say a word. “Can… can I have a donut too, hyung?”

 

Namjoon’s eyes crinkle as he answers, pleased at Jungkook’s tentative question.

‘We’re making progress.’

 

“Of course. I shouldn’t be too long. If Jin tries to cook while I’m away, you have my permission to lock him in our room. He needs to relax.”

 

He waves a quick goodbye to the duo, shutting the door before heading towards the elevator, keys clinking in his hand as he spins them around his finger.

 

*~*~*

 

The roads are fairly empty as Namjoon drives across town. Everyone is at home due to the mood dampening weather. He drives slower than usual, more carefully due to the slippery road conditions, determined not to end up in the ER again. He winds through the streets, fingers tapping against the steering wheel as he listens to the song playing on the radio, some pop group that he’s heard Jungkook play before.

 

He pulls into an empty car park across the road from the bakery, pulling a compact umbrella from the glove box and grumbling under his breath when he’s realised that Jin’s given him a light pink one. His work boots splash in puddles as he rushes across the road, hands gripping the umbrella tightly to prevent it from breaking in the forceful, chilly wind.

 

They had found the little café slash bakery when they were helping Jimin and Yoongi move into their apartment. They had just happened upon the little place by accident when Jin had sent him and Jimin off to find lunch. It’s nothing like the fancy cafés around their apartment, but it's Namjoon’s favourite.

 

He pushes the door open softly, listening to the soft jingle of the bell above the door. He shakes off his umbrella before stepping fully inside. The warmth inside the little bakery encourages Namjoon to unzip his coat, basking in the comfortable temperature. He waves in greeting at Jinhyung, the owner of the little bakery, as he wipes his feet on the small welcoming mat and places his umbrella in the bucket by the door.

 

He’s about to head over the counter when he notices a familiar figure across the room, clothes damp from the rain and standing by the community notice board. “Hobi?”

 

Hoseok’s head snaps up at his name, staring over at Namjoon in surprise. “Namjoonie. What are you doing here?”

 

Namjoon waves a hand towards the display of desserts, soft smile on his face. “Jin’s working hard, so I thought I’d get him his favourite.”

 

Hoseok flashes Namjoon a small smile, hands burying into his cardigan pockets nervously. “Hey, about the dinner. I’m really sorry, Namjoon. Truly. I didn’t mean to be like that.”

 

Namjoon places a hand on Hoseok’s bicep, squeezing the arm gently. “It’s alright. Just try not to be too much of a dick next time, yeah?”

 

A small chuckle spills from Hoseok’s mouth, the corner of his lips tilting up cheekily. “I’ll try, but no promises. It’s hard to deviate from my natural state of being.”

 

Namjoon laughs as he guides Hoseok to one of the tables, waving over at Jinhyung. “Can we just get our regulars please, hyung?”

 

He turns back to Hoseok as their drinks are being prepared, arms crossed and leaning against the table top. “What are you doing looking at community notices, Hobi?”

 

Hoseok’s eyes fall to the table, fingers fiddling with the flimsy lapels of his cardigan self-consciously. “Well... uhm… about that. It doesn’t matter.”

 

Namjoon leans forward, tugging at the stretchy fabric of Hoseok’s t-shirt in a semi threatening manner. “Just spit it out, Hobi.”

 

Hoseok wets his lips, biting down on his bottom lip in embarrassment. “I’m looking for somewhere to live.”

 

Namjoon slumps back in his chair in shock, so sure that Hoseok’s living arrangements were secured. “Why? What happened?”

 

A sombre expression crosses Hoseok’s face, a large contrast to his usual bubbly self. “I guess the guy I’m living with has had enough of my shit. Told me he wants me out by the end of the week. I know it’s hard living with me. People can only put up with so much before they snap. I’m just surprised he lasted as long as he did.”

 

Jinhyung interrupts Namjoon’s incoming outburst briefly, placing the drinks onto the table before whizzing back off to the counter. “Who cares!? Just because he’s annoyed or pissed or whatever the fuck he is, it doesn’t give him the right to just kick you out! And from the way you’re scouring local ads, the asshole hasn’t even waited for you to get something sorted out before telling you to leave.”

 

Hoseok shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly, pulling the hot chocolate towards himself and plopping the marshmallows into the steaming liquid. “He gave me a week, which is longer than some, Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon only curses under his breath, ripping at a sugar sachet angrily and pouring it into his coffee, uncaring that he usually drinks it black. “Why didn’t you come to me for help? You could come and stay at ours while we sort something out for you?”

 

Hoseok snorts, taking a sip of his steaming drink. “Namjoonie… I know how excited you were to move in with Jin, to have a place for just the two of you. Now, you’ve taken in Tae and Jungkook, who are going to be living with you for the indefinite future. I’m not going to come along and ask to stay with you as well, you’re not running a fucking day care.”

 

He omits the fact that he can barely stand being in the same room as Jungkook, let alone live with him. He’s nowhere near ready to face that skeleton in his closet.

 

Namjoon huffs in frustration, fingers curling tightly around his mug. “So what? There’s plenty of room in our apartment. We have one more guest room that is perfectly empty and available for you to use. I’d rather you live with me and know that you’re safe, then to have you staying with strangers, especially in this neighbourhood.”

 

Hoseok shakes his head, fringe tousling at the action. “No. I’m not okay with living with you. Plus if I move to your place, I won’t be able to keep my job. I’ll figure something else out.”

 

Namjoon arches an eyebrow at his weak argument, mouth twitching in irritation. “You’re only a casual worker as kitchen hand, Hobi. We can get you another job.”

 

Hoseok’s jaw twitches in irritation, a definite and final “No” falling from his lips.

 

They sit in awkward silence as they finish their drinks, Namjoon trying to think of how to convince Hoseok that he’s being a stubborn ass.

 

An idea clicks in Namjoon’s mind as he takes the final sip of his coffee, snapping his fingers in realization. "So you don’t want to live with us, fine. But what do you say about living with someone else I know?”

 

Hoseok arches an eyebrow, confused as to where Namjoon is going with this. “Sure. If you just happen to know someone who lives over in this shitty part of town and has a couch free.”

 

Namjoon smirks, fishing his phone out of his pocket and pressing speed-dial number 3. “Hey, Yoongi? Yeah, sorry but I need to ask a favour.”

 

Hoseok’s eyes widen at the mention of Yoongi’s name, realising what Namjoon’s plans are. He waves his hands frantically, trying to snatch the phone away from Namjoon’s ear before he gets a chance to ask Yoongi.

 

Namjoon stands, restraining one of Hoseok’s wrists as he struggles against the grip. “You remember Hoseok, yeah? Well he’s going to be kicked out of his apartment soon by his shithead of a roommate and I need to know that he has somewhere safe to stay… Yeah couch is fine and he can help with rent as well… Yeah he’s just being stubborn while we try and figure something out… okay, get back to me when you decide. Thanks heaps, Yoongi.”

 

Namjoon glances down at a heavily breathing Hoseok, still trying to pry his wrist from Namjoon’s deathly grip as he glares daggers. “Yoongi’s going to ask Jimin and then get back to me.”

 

Hoseok slumps back in his seat in defeat, eyes darting around nervously. “Thanks, Namjoon. Now your friends know that I’m a hopeless adult that can’t support himself. Great.”

 

Namjoon kicks him under the table, making him flinch in pain, bruise most likely already forming on his shin. “Ow! What the fuck was that for!?”

 

Namjoon stands up, pulling his wallet out. “Trust me. Yoongi and Jimin are great guys, they won’t judge you. They understand.

 

He shuffles over to the counter, paying for the drinks and getting some donuts for the boys, and a custard tart for Jin. Hoseok, who has yet to get up, jumps when Namjoon tugs on his ear. “Come on, I’m driving you back to your apartment.”

 

Hoseok is about to argue but stops when he notices the unrelenting rain outside. It hadn’t nearly been as heavy when he’d left his apartment. “Thanks, Namjoonie. I appreciate it.”

 

Namjoon hums in acknowledgment, walking over to pick up his umbrella from the little basket. “Yeah, so don’t be an unappreciative brat and listen to your hyung, okay?”

 

Hoseok gives Namjoon a sheepish smile, linking their arms together and darting across the road under the small shelter of the umbrella, confused as to how he’d managed to get a friend as amazing as Namjoon.

 

*~*~*

 

Jimin is sitting between Yoongi’s thin legs on the sofa, head leaning back against his boyfriend’s shoulder as they half watch the movie playing on TV. “So what do you think?”

 

Jimin traces small patterns on Yoongi’s knee with tentative fingers, thinking over Namjoon’s request. “I’m fine with it. It just depends on what you think?”

 

Yoongi sighs, conflicted as he presses a soft kiss to Jimin’s pulse point and tightens the grip around his waist. “I’m alright with it as well, I guess. If you want to do what we did the other night again, marvellous, he’ll be right here waiting on our couch.”

 

Jimin tenses at the mention of that amazing night, his fingers reaching up to brush his lips subconsciously at the memory. “You… you want to do that again?”

 

He can feel the curve of Yoongi’s smile against his neck, his boyfriend pressing lazy kisses along his jaw. “I don’t know how much you remember from that night, Minnie, but I very much enjoyed myself.”

 

Jimin bites his lower lip shyly. He turns so he can straddle Yoongi’s lap and run his fingers through his platinum hair. “So then, what’s the problem?”

 

Yoongi’s brow furrows, entwining his fingers with Jimin’s and resting their foreheads against each other. “I don’t care if we have some fun. But, I’m scared of you getting attached, Minnie.”

 

‘I’m scared that you’ll leave me for him.’

 

‘Well, if you’re already thinking like that and doubting him, maybe he’s better off without you.’

 

‘Shut up.’

 

Jimin’s jerks at Yoongi’s insecure confession, fingers untangling with Yoongi’s and reaching up to delicately cup his face, pulling back so he can stare lovingly into his boyfriend's eyes. “Never, ever, think what I know you’re thinking right now. I will never leave you, nor will I magically fall in love with another. You’re it for me, the salt to my pepper, the icing to my cupcake, the missing sock to my pair. You are my everything, my world, Min Yoongi. I love you.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes well up with tears at Jimin’s heart wrenching words, head trying to pull away from Jimin’s soft palms but Jimin only slides his hands down to cup his jaw, holding him in place. He leans forward, peppering Yoongi’s face with kisses, leaving no skin untouched before capturing Yoongi’s lips in an intimate kiss.

 

‘Don’t say yes. Don’t agree. You’ll lose him if you say yes. You’re not one for martyrdom are you, Yoongi?’

 

He closes his eyes, hands coming up to press against Jimin’s and enjoying the feeling of Jimin’s soft breath fanning comfortingly across his face. “Yes. Okay. I’ll call Namjoon.”

 

‘Look at that. I guess you are a martyr after all.’

 

*~*~*

 

It’s a tremendous relief stepping out of the frosty elements and into the protection of the apartment lobby. Taehyung makes comical, incoherent noises as he shuffles like a madman across the polished marble, receiving an unimpressed glare from their Scrooge of a receptionist, who regards them from above his flimsy spectacles with a wrinkled frown. Jungkook is in nervous tandem, only pausing to respectfully bow to the withered coot before hastily tailing his companion. Taehyung flops up the stairs like his feet are made of jelly, his donkey-like groans echoing off the Sistine Chapel worthy ceiling and causing an outright disturbance.

 

“T-Taehyung!” Jungkook fusses, his face is beet red with embarrassment as a wealthy looking couple pass them, both expressing various degrees of horror. Taehyung strolls around the indoor fountain lifting his fists with every exaggerated step, a goofy grin on his face. “People are staring!”

 

“So what, Kookie?” Taehyung suddenly halts and Jungkook very nearly crashes into him. He doesn’t expect his hyung to swivel around and throw an arm around him, so he unintentionally flinches at the sudden motion. However, if Taehyung notices the negative response he doesn’t acknowledge it, guiding the both of them over to the elevators humming Girls’ Generation’s ‘Oh!’ under his breath.

 

Jungkook stuffs his hands into the pockets of his navy and white Varsity jacket, nuzzling his face into his scarf because he isn’t quite sure how to answer Taehyung’s query. ‘So what?’ He doesn’t know. Why should Taehyung care that people are staring, or that the receptionist was giving them disapproving looks? Taehyung is just being himself. His confident, bright, quirky self. Who is Jungkook to deny Taehyung that right – or anyone else, for that matter? Being true to himself is probably what makes Taehyung’s personality, it’s what makes him shine brighter than the rest. Jungkook wouldn’t want to extinguish that – as a friend he’s obligated to encourage it.

 

Tentatively, he snakes an arm around Taehyung’s waist, resting his hand just above the older man’s hip. Taehyung blinks and bites the inner line of his cheek, desperately fighting down a giddy smile. He knows if he acknowledges Jungkook’s rare display of public intimacy, he’ll immediately withdraw into himself and won’t ever come out again, so Taehyung chooses not to make a big deal over it, even if he’s celebrating on the inside.

 

They enter the first elevator that presents itself, Taehyung swiftly jabbing at the highest button on the selection key before draping himself against the gold railings that line the interior. Jungkook takes this time to pull out the Iron Man keychain he had purchased from the locksmith.

 

Taehyung smiles softly as he watches Jungkook admire the piece of plastic with his favorite Marvel character on it. As a contrast, he had gone with the Joker keychain with Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of Batman’s ultimate nemesis. Although he had loved the Avengers just as much as the next fanboy, he found Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy to be more gripping and engaging.

 

Also, the Hulk keychain he had been eying looked kind of weird.

 

“I can’t believe we’ve finally got our own keys to the apartment,” Jungkook murmurs incredulously. “This arrangement… it’s official, isn’t it?”

 

Taehyung laughs, ruffling Jungkook’s pretty hair. “It was official the day I asked Jin, silly.”

 

“I know but…” he pauses. Taehyung takes the time to admire Jungkook’s cute little frown as he ponders over his words. “I couldn’t help doubting it, you know? Like it’s all too good to be true? Stuff like this… it only ever happens in movies and fairytales, doesn’t it?”

 

“Maybe we’re in a fairytale,” Taehyung suggests jokingly. “We’re all just figments of some child’s wild imagination.”

 

“I’m being serious, hyung,” Jungkook grumbles with a pout.

 

“It’d be a good thing though! Fairytales always have happy endings!”

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook whines. Taehyung nudges him with a silly grin, eliciting a small smile from his younger companion.

 

“But, I should tell you, Jin was always dead serious about this whole thing from the beginning. I know it kind of seems like we’re burdening him – freeloading off of his wealth and all that, but to be honest he wanted this more than we did,” Taehyung explains sincerely. “I seriously lost count of the amount of times Jin asked me to move in with him. He wanted me off the streets so badly – but I guess in the end he got his way, huh?”

 

“It’s different with you,” Jungkook argues softly. “You’ve known him longer. You’re friends.”

 

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean Jin favors me being here over you. You weren’t… conscious when Namjoon and Jin first saw you, Jungkook, but you should’ve seen their faces…” Taehyung rubs his chin thoughtfully, aware that Jungkook is listening intently. “I’ve never seen Jin get angry – like, legit angry before, but the face he made when I told him what happened… he came pretty damn close. He wanted to save you just as badly as he had wanted to save me – Namjoon too, I think. So, you should have a little more faith in them.”

 

Jungkook absorbs this information quietly. Taehyung waits patiently for his response, but they make a speedy arrival to the top floor and Jungkook gets away without a response.

 

They stand in front of the door with fancy, silver numbers nailed to its pale exterior. Jungkook clutches Taehyung’s wrist as he fiddles with his DC keychain, admiring it between his fingers. It’s been a long time since he’s owned a key to a place he can call home, and he must be channeling some of the sentiment onto Jungkook, because Jungkook gives him an eye-crinkling grin.

 

“Are you ready?” he asks excitedly, and Taehyung smiles.

 

“Yeah.” He jams the key into the keyhole and turns it until the lock clicks open. There’s a rush of satisfaction as he steps through the door, basking in this moment of closure as Jungkook closes the door behind them. His eyes immediately fall to Namjoon and Jin, who are sitting on the couches in the living room, hunched over something splayed out over the coffee table.

 

“Oh!” Jin straightens as Namjoon hastily starts rolling up bits of paper adorning some sort of blueprint design. He thinks he might have cursed too, but Taehyung ultimately disregards the suspicious behavior. “You’re back! How did everything go?”

 

Taehyung holds up his key and Jungkook does the same, wearing matching grins on their ecstatic faces.

 

“The locksmith was really nice. He let us pick out these key chains from the display box!” Jin gets up and makes his way over to them, effectively blocking their view of the lounge room.

 

“Hyung?” Jungkook peers over Taehyung’s shoulder on his tippy-toes, as though attempting to look past Jin. “What were you guys doing?”

 

“Oh, we were just looking over some of Namjoon’s carpentry plans. He’s meeting an important client on Monday.” Jin doesn’t falter in his explanation, leading both younger men to simply shrug their shoulders before handing him the key chains to admire.

 

“They’re very cute,” he chuckles.

 

“But not as cute as our couple keychains, surely,” Namjoon comes up behind him, circling an arm around Jin’s waist as he peers down at the little trinkets. “Nothing could beat the cuteness of salt and pepper.”

 

“Really hyungs? Salt and pepper shakers?” Taehyung rolls his eyes. How lame.

 

“What? They’re cute! We got them when we were on vacation in Japan. They have cute little eyes and mouths!” Jin justifies defensively, handing back the keychains to their respective owners.

 

“Still doesn’t beat Iron Man,” Taehyung hears Jungkook mumbles quietly under his breath. He smirks.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 5

 

 

It’s moments like these that Seokjin realizes he’s in a sophisticated and mature relationship. He’s young – so very young, and with majority of his educational years spent with his nose buried in a book, he never had time for a serious relationship before. Now that he’s finally given himself the chance to immerse himself in one wholeheartedly, he’s starting to feel like a true adult. And this revelation adorns him in quite a simple manner.

 

They’re just sitting on the couch in Namjoon’s apartment, boxes of empty take-out strewn across the wooden coffee table because Namjoon accidently broke all his plates earlier in the week. They hold glasses of wine in their hands as they watch television and make casual conversation, occasionally stealing a kiss here and there. It’s so simple and yet, so mature at the same time.

 

Namjoon is the kind of guy that is both knowledgeable and serious, but not brooding or quiet in any sense of the word. He has a great sense of humor, and an even more infectious laugh that sounds harmonious to Jin’s ears. He kind of wishes Namjoon would laugh more often instead of settling for the barely audible chuckle that occasionally wisps past his lips. But Namjoon just isn’t the kind of guy to throw his head back and laugh uncontrollably – unless elicited by something appropriate to the situation.

 

Out of everybody, Jimin is probably the person who can make Namjoon laugh the most – as much as Jin hates to admit it. He doesn’t blame him really, seeing as Jimin has a dorky charm about him that any sane person would love, but Jin inwardly envies Jimin’s effortless humor. In comparison, Jin feels sort of awkward, as though his stiff and proper personality had been ingrained into him since birth. Perhaps it had been. Perhaps his wealthy upbringing and adolescent solitude had made him humorless and boring. Yet, here they are, him and Namjoon, seven months into the relationship and still going strong.

 

He often ponders what it is that Namjoon likes about him. They’re so different – opposites really, so much so that he had been nervous to introduce him to his parents, which is strange, because his parents are quite open-minded and accepting people. Of course, they had welcomed Namjoon like they would their own son. Jin had found it mildly unsettling because by that point they had only been dating a couple of months and were definitely not at that stage in the relationship, but Namjoon had taken it all in stride. Despite the tattoos and roguish disposition, his parents had found him to be perfectly polite and agreeable. His mother had even gone as far as to compliment Namjoon’s silver hair, which had been pleasantly surprising, albeit a little disturbing. His mother’s eyes had shone with a teenage fixation, which he found unsettling to say the least.

 

“This drama is creepy,” Namjoon complains as he finishes off the rest of his wine, setting it down next to a pair of used, disposable chopsticks sitting lazily over a half finished spring roll. “They’re obviously long lost siblings, and they’re kissing in this scene. Shouldn’t there be some sort of incest warning? How is this more socially acceptable than homosexuality?”

 

Jin chuckles as he draws invisible patterns on Namjoon’s knee. “I guess it says a lot about our society, huh? They would much rather see siblings get it on than two men who have no genetic correlation.”

 

Namjoon runs a hand through his hair. “I’m going to need more wine,” he groans as he leans over to snatch the bottle. His eyes narrow and he swirls it around a bit in his grip before pouring the content into the glass, only to be granted a lousy portion that promptly drips from the rim of the bottle. “Damn. I should’ve bought two bottles – if only I had known this drama was going to be airing tonight.”

 

“We could just watch something else you know,” Jin shakes his head, finding his boyfriend’s behavior rather ludicrous. “It’s a Sunday night. I’m sure something better will be on.”

 

“I’d change it, but it’s just so addictive,” Namjoon rubs his face in frustration, leaning back against the couch cushions and whirling what little wine he has in his glass. “There are so many questions I need answered. Will they find out before they have sex? What will happen once they realize that they’re siblings? What will the parents do? What will their exes do? There are just so many things I need to know.”

 

Jin rolls his eyes, lips twitching with amusement. “First off, there’s no way there’s gonna be incest sex in a Korean drama. Secondly, majority of your questions are likely to go unanswered. That’s just how these things go.”

 

Namjoon shrugs. “Well, there’s just no way of knowing until we’ve watched every episode, right?”

 

Jin sighs before leaning over to kiss the corner of Namjoon’s mouth. Namjoon tilts his head to kiss him on the mouth, his lips tainted from the wine he’s been sipping all night. There are no accurate words in Jin’s extensive vocabulary to properly describe just how addicting he finds Namjoon. His sweet kisses, his warm hugs, his tender touches and beautifully flawed personality – dare Jin say he can’t get enough of it? He wants to be around him all the time. He loves it when Namjoon surprises him at work – or when he can’t make it, rings him on his phone to talk about random things.

 

The clock on the wall catches his eye as he’s pulling away. The hand at the back of his neck is coaxing him in for another kiss, and as much as Jin wants to melt into Namjoon and simply indulge himself, time really has gotten away from him. He plants another, reluctantly brief kiss on Namjoon’s plump, soft mouth before pulling away altogether, straightening on the couch and placing down his wine glass.

 

“I’m really sorry, Namjoonie. It’s late and I have work tomorrow.” Out of everybody, Namjoon knows how dedicated he is to his job. He also knows that his boyfriend finds it cutely irritating at times.

 

“Stay here,” Namjoon whines, pulling Jin closer by the waist to bury his face in the crook of his neck. Jin resists the blush fighting its way onto his cheeks and sighs, kissing Namjoon’s forehead.

 

“You know you live too far away from the hospital.” It’s so tempting to stay, to just bask in Namjoon’s warmth and kisses and cuddles and forget about his responsibilities for once, but he knows he can’t. He wants to save up his sick days for the necessary events – like Namjoon getting sick and needing his care, or if they decide to go on holidays. Jin knows that it isn’t worth sacrificing a single day at the expense of laziness. “I’m really sorry.”

 

Namjoon exhales warm breath against the flesh of neck as he sighs, eliciting a small shiver from Jin. “I guess there’s no way of convincing you, hm?” His voice is so sinfully husky that Jin sort of resents him for it. How dare his boyfriend use his heavenly voice against him? The audacity.

 

“Nope,” Jin all but squeaks, squirming out of Namjoon’s hold with great haste. Any longer in his embrace and he might as well stay in his arms for eternity.

 

Namjoon walks him to the door, his hand brushing the small of his back almost teasingly. Jin isn’t certain if he’s doing it on purpose to entice him to stay or is just expressing regular, boyfriend mannerisms. Namjoon likes to be quite affectionate with him, publically and privately, so Jin doesn’t think much of it as he opens the front door. Namjoon leans his forearm against it and presents him with a lazy smile. Jin smiles back adoringly, cupping the sides of Namjoon’s cutely dimpled face before planting a kiss square on the lips. His boyfriend leans forward as if to deepen the kiss, but Jin is smart enough to step away, his expression apologetic.

 

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” Namjoon murmurs dreamily and Jin blushes, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “See you around.”

 

“I love you.”

 

There’s a pause. Jin’s world tilts sideways.

 

‘Did I just say that?’

 

Jin doesn’t look up from his feet because oh god – Namjoon is too painfully quiet and he just doesn’t know how to recover from saying something so unbelievable stupid. He turns and starts walking down the hallway at a frantic speed, his heart hammering wildly against his ribcage and his thoughts speeding at a mile a minute. He can’t believe he said something so careless – confessed something so intimate even though he knows that Namjoon isn’t even close to that point in their relationship. Namjoon is the kind of guy who likes to play it casual and slow – seven months of a relationship to him is like the equivalent to maybe three months for a normal person, and Jin knows it’s too damn early. He should’ve at least waited a year to say that – at least the ten month mark!

 

Ah crap, now his eyes are getting watery.

 

Namjoon isn’t going to call him ever again, is he?

 

Fingers snatch his wrist just as he’s turning into the parking lot, and he knows it’s Namjoon but he doesn’t dare to look back at him. He won’t be able to handle his pitiful, apologetic expression.

 

“Jin.” Here is comes. This is the part where Namjoon apologizes because he’s not at that point yet. “Jin, look at me.”

 

“I’m not sure if I can,” he responds honestly, his voice low. His chest feels heavy, like someone has strapped an anchor to it and gravity is doing its job of weight him down. His legs feel so weak they might give out at any moment.

 

“Jin… Seokjin,” Namjoon’s voice is so deep and soft. Too bad he won’t have the chance to hear it for much longer, not when he breaks up with him because he thinks Jin is too clingy and desperate. “Why did you walk away like that?”

 

“I’m sorry – I take it back – I didn’t – I wasn’t – ”

 

“Please don’t say you didn’t mean it.”

 

Jin snaps his head up, his eyes wide and glassy with unshed tears. “What?”

 

Namjoon’s face is serious, but his features are undeniably gentle and sincere. “I said, don’t say you didn’t mean it. Because I believe you meant it – I want to believe you meant it.”

 

“Again. What?” Jin blinks. This isn’t actually happening, is it? These words aren’t actually leaving Namjoon’s mouth, are they? Or is he so delusional that his brain is purposely tampering with his ears so that he’s hearing what he wants to hear?

 

Namjoon grasps his shoulders before leaning forward to connect their lips – hard. It isn’t like the sweet, chaste kiss they shared back at Namjoon’s door, but rather a desperate, demanding one, with teeth biting down on his bottom lip and making him whimper. When Namjoon pulls back, he doesn’t let go of Jin’s shoulders, staring deep into his teary gaze, and he forgets how to breathe.

 

“How could you even think I wouldn’t say it back?” Namjoon sounds almost disappointed, and Jin’s stomach churns guiltily. “You are the single most important thing in my life, Kim Seokjin, and you’d be a damn fool if you didn’t realize this. But I guess I should apologize then too, because I clearly haven’t been doing a good job of showing you just how much you mean to me.”

 

Namjoon leans forward and kisses him again, and this time, Jin fully reciprocates, wrapping his arms around his neck and licking his way into his boyfriend’s mouth. He ignores the tears that start to escape the corners of his eyes and simply enjoys Namjoon’s essence surrounding him, intoxicating him, assuring him that their relationship is far stronger than he originally perceived.

 

“Tell me you love me,” Jin whispers breathlessly as they break apart, desperate for air.

 

“Only if you stay the night,” Namjoon jokes, earning him a sharp slap to the arm. “Ow!”

 

“I’ll call in sick,” Jin mumbles carelessly, peppering his boyfriend’s face with kisses. Maybe sacrificing one sick day won’t be all that bad. Just this once.

 

Namjoon wraps his arms around Jin and holds him tightly, humming victoriously.

 

“I love you so much, Kim Seokjin,” he growls against Jin’s cheek. “Allow me to take you back inside and show you just how much I fucking love you.”

 

Jin chuckles, wiping away his tears and tugging aggressively at Namjoon’s sleek hair. “I’d expect nothing less you ass.”

 

*~*~*

 

Sweat gathers on his brow, droplets sliding down his temples and along his jaw from exertion. The frosty wind is doing nothing to cool his body down, face glowing bright red and his hot, heavy breaths coming out as steam in the air. His muscles ache from the heavy weight of the medium sized box in his arms, jostling uncomfortably every time he takes a step and digging painfully into the soft flesh of his stomach. He should have just asked Namjoon for a lift to Jimin and Yoongi’s apartment instead of deciding to walk, but he didn’t want to inconvenience his friend over just one box.

 

The pavement is damp underneath his worn sneakers, water threatening to seep through one of the many holes in his shoes as he shuffles down the street and towards the bus stop. The heavy rain from when he had awoken has thankfully let up, now only a light drizzle to slightly dampen his clothes. Though he doesn’t know if his clothes are sticking to him because of the rain, or because of the mass amounts of sweat leaking from every pore of his body.

 

He stands under the small shelter of the bus stop, box placed carelessly on the damp ground as he stares at the cars that whiz past. A soft melodious chime rings from his pocket, ‘Namjoonie~<3’ flashing across the screen as he pulls his phone out. “Hyung?”

 

“Hey, I’m just calling to check up on you. How is everything going?” Namjoon’s soft voice asks, slight rustling noises following his words as if he’d just woken up and is still rolling around in bed.

 

A small smile graces Hosoek’s face, touched at Namjoon’s concern. “Wow. I’ve got you so worried that you’ve even interrupted your beauty sleep and woken up at eight in the morning to check on me. You sure know how to make a girl feel special, Joonie.”

 

Namjoon groans loudly in exasperation, sound muffled by what Hoseok assumes to be his pillow. “I’m just playing. I’m waiting at the bus stop. I should be at Jimin and Yoongi’s place in about twenty minutes, half an hour max.”

 

He can hear the murmur of Jin’s quiet voice in the background, speaking to Namjoon. “Jin says you’re an idiot and should have asked me to drive you there.

 

Hoseok barks out a rough laugh, frame shaking as he nods his head, forgetting for a moment that Namjoon can’t actually see the action. “Yeah, I was starting to think that while I painfully waddled down the five flights of stairs with my stuff. I’m so unfit it’s not even funny.”

 

Namjoon snorts in reply, Jin’s laughter ringing in the background, having heard his comment. “You should dance more and stop eating ramen for every meal. I guess it’s a good thing you’re moving in with Jimin and Yoongi. Jin cooks a shit load of food for them once a month and stocks up their freezer so that they always have food in case of emergencies or laziness. I just think that it’s Jin being a fussy mother and trying to get them to eat healthily.”

 

A loud smack echo’s in Hoseok’s ear, making him jerk the phone away from his head in surprise. He stares at the phone for a moment and then brings it back to his ear hesitantly, listening in cautiously to the loud rustling of fabric and sheets.

 

“You take that back!”

 

“Never! Stop teasing me about my maternal instincts.”

 

“Then stop acting like an overbearing mother hen.”

 

“Make me.”

 

“Oh, I’ll gladly make you.”

 

“Nam… Namjoonie? Ahhh… ”

 

Hoseok’s expression turns into one of horror as he sputters, trying to get the words in before the situation on the other side of the phone escalates. “For fucks sake, guys… I’m still on the phone. Could you like, wait a minute or at least hang up the goddamn phone before jumping each other? Fuck.”

 

Namjoon’s words come out in a rush, trying to get all the words into one breath. “Call us when you’re settled. Jin and I will come visit. See you later, Hobi.”

 

Hoseok snorts, barely getting enough time to answer a soft ‘fuck you too’ before Namjoon hangs up on him, mind obviously elsewhere. He stares down at his phone fondly, low laugh bubbling over his lips at his friends antics. If this is what they’re like now, he wonders what they’d be like if they ever got married.

 

Hoseok’s brow furrows at the thought, tucking the phone into his back pocket and staring aimlessly at the rush of passing traffic once again. If they got married, not that it’s legal in South Korea, but the idea behind it all makes Hoseok’s heart stutter. He could easily see Namjoon and Jin spending the rest of their lives together, happy and taking on the world, one step at a time. And as much as Hoseok wants to be around to see it happen, he can’t help the dread that settles into his bones, the dull ache of his heart as it beats wildly in his chest.

 

The sight of his friends, the random couples in the street, are a constant reminder of the bitter loneliness that consumes him, piece by piece, day by day. If a time comes where someone might actually accept his broken soul, he wonders if there will be anymore of his tainted heart to give, or will it have wasted away to nothing? He presses a shaky hand to his chest, rubbing tenderly at the area over his heart as he feels his warmth and the steady thump of his heart.

 

‘Hoseok-ah! When you find the right person, love them with all your heart and never let go, okay?

 

Noona wants you to be happy!’

 

His fingers clench in the fabric of his shirt, head tilting down and bangs rustling softly in the wind as he wets his lips with his tongue. Why is it that a heart that physically beats so strongly in his chest can make him feel so empty? So dead inside?

 

A blaring honk jerks him from his thoughts, making him jump in surprise. He looks up, wide eyed at the impatient bus driver, yelling at him to get on or he’s being left behind.

 

Hoseok quickly scoops up the box, careful of the now soggy bottom as he steps onto the bus. He shuffles his way over to an empty seat. He eyes the couple sitting near the front of the bus, heatedly making out, completely and blissfully oblivious to the disapproving glares from the ajumma across from them.

 

Happiness. He snorts at the idealistic concept. No, he doesn’t deserve happiness, and nor does he want it. You can’t lose what you don’t have, and Hoseok has nothing. Namjoon and Jin do well to distract him, to keep his mind somewhat occupied, but once he lets his mind wander… it’s all over.

 

He casts a glance at the box in his lap, fingers twitching against the lid as the bus rounds a corner. He thinks about the packet of powder he has rolled up in one of his socks, hidden from curious eyes. Oh, how he wants to do a line right now, just a little to calm his rampaging nerves.

 

Jimin and Yoongi will no doubt give Namjoon updates about Hoseok when asked, so he needs to be careful as to how much he lets the couple see, how much he lets the couple learn about him. All things considered, he gives the arrangement a month, two at most before they kick him out like everyone else in his life. Having already slept with the beautiful couple complicates things more than necessary, it makes the atmosphere tenser compared to meeting a stranger.

 

The fact that he’d kissed them, touched them, and fucked them lingers in his mind. Would they despise him for hanging around like a bad habit? Would they keep their distance because they don’t want him getting any deluded ideas? Would they ask him to join their bed again?

 

As much as Hoseok wants that to be true, he knows logically that the chances are very low. He knew the conditions going in, Yoongi making it very clear that it was a one time, ‘just for fun’ arrangement, but it was the most intimate, most considerate sexual experience of his life. Slow but fast, rough but gentle, too much but not enough. It made Hoseok greedy for more, and he indulged himself by staying overnight. It was one of the most calming and peaceful sleeps he’d gotten in a very long time, pressed up against Jimin’s sated and relaxed body, Yoongi’s fingers stroking gently at his hair.

 

‘If only it were real.’

 

Despite Namjoon’s praising words, he can’t ignore the little voice in the back of his head telling him that his life is just a fucking sob story that isn’t worth pitying, and that’s why the couple agreed to house his worthless ass. They’d gotten what they wanted from him already, they have nothing to gain from giving Hoseok a place to stay, and it feels more of a friendship obligation between them and Namjoon than anything else.

 

Hoseok snorts at the thought, nerves growing as the bus gets closer to his destination, fingers tapping restlessly against the edges of the box. Maybe when it all goes south he’ll pack his bags for good and move to somewhere where he can forget his sorrows, somewhere he doesn’t need to worry about Namjoon waking up one morning and finding his dead body on the floor of the apartment.

 

He gathers the box up in his arms, cradling it to his chest thoughtfully as the bus comes to a stop. He nods his head in thanks before stepping out into the light rain, gazing up sadly at the grey sky as droplets drip from his hair and slide down his cheeks. His eyes drift shut, thinking about how insane he must look right now, standing there alone in the rain, damp box in his hands and a defeated expression marring his face.

 

He takes a deep breath, the chill of the weather finally beginning to settle in his bones as a shiver ripples through his body, his teeth chattering softly. He settles on a hurried pace, not slowing down until he sees the silhouette of Jimin and Yoongi’s apartment complex amongst all the others in the urban concrete jungle. The rain gets heavier as he rounds the final corner, stepping through the rusted and torn wire gate entrance, his clothes now plastered to his skin and weighing down his body as if he were carrying a bag of bricks.

 

He bows his head in apology at the janitor who is half-heartedly mopping in the foyer of the building, dripping more water onto the wet floor as he shuffles towards the elevator. He presses the button for Jimin’s floor with a bent knuckle, hands still slotted underneath the cardboard box that has all but fallen apart. The ride up feels like an eternity, his breaths growing quicker at every passing moment. Maybe he should just leave and tell Namjoon that he’ll figure something else out. But, there’s an itch, a desire to see if the couple act like he predicts.

 

The elevator jerks roughly, static-ridden beep ringing out as the doors slide open to reveal the mint green walls of a familiar hallway. He takes a shaky breath, stepping out hesitantly and slowly making his way towards apartment 24. The dewy smell of rain lingers in his soaked-through clothes, smell seeming to spread and linger in the air around him. He loops an arm underneath the box and uses his other hand to knock gently on the door with his knuckles. His teeth chatter loudly as he waits, the noise seemingly deafening in the eerily quiet hallway.

 

He can hear the soft murmur of conversation and the quiet pad of feet as someone walks towards the door. He bites down on his lip just as the door swings open, a soft rush of warmth brushing across his face as heat escapes the apartment.

 

Jimin’s exuberant smile falls when his eyes land on Hoseok, scanning over his dripping clothes and shivering body in surprise. His hand shoots out, grabbing Hoseok’s forearm gently and pulling him inside the warm sanctuary of the apartment. “Why the hell aren’t you wearing a thicker jacket? Or at least a waterproof one? You’re soaked to the bone!”

 

Jimin pulls the box from Hoseok’s grip and places it on the floor by the entry way, bending over to help the older untie his shoelaces. “It… wasn’t… raining as much… when I… l-left.”

 

Jimin shakes his head in disapproval at the lack of concern towards his own health, standing up and ushering Hoseok towards the bedroom, rushing past a confused Yoongi sitting in the lounge room.

 

Hoseok’s voices of protest about the trail of water he’s leaving behind dies on his tongue, cut off by the concerned glare Jimin is giving him. Jimin pulls him into the small room, retrieving a fluffy towel from the bottom draw of the dresser before tugging at the hem of Hoseok’s t-shirt. “Off.”

 

Hoseok shrugs his jacket off, handing it to Jimin before peeling his shirt away from his body. As soon as he’s free from the soaked material, a warm towel is draped over his head, strong hands rustling the fabric and drying out his hair. Hoseok’s body is frozen as Jimin continues to dry him off, wiping tenderly across his shaking body. He watches silently as Jimin walks back towards the dresser, this time pulling out some clothes alongside another towel before handing them to Hoseok.

 

Jimin gestures towards the open door of their bathroom, warm hand pressed against the now dry skin of his lower back. “Here. Go finish drying yourself off and change into these. I’ll go make you a cup of tea.”

 

Hoseok steps into the bathroom, dazed from Jimin’s gentle care. He absentmindedly removes his pants and underwear, leaving the wet clothes in the bathtub before wiping at his body and slipping on the jumper and track pants Jimin has given him. He stares at his reflection, lips twisting in a soft smile at the sight of his fluffed and uncontrollably spiked hair. He reaches up and flattens the slightly damp tendrils into something more presentable before stepping out of the bathroom, heading towards the lounge.

 

He turns the corner to come face to face with Yoongi, holding his box of belongings. “Are your other boxes in the foyer? Do you need us to go down and get them?”

 

Hoseok rubs the back of his neck, embarrassed flush dancing across his cheeks. “No… uhh… That’s all I have.”

 

Realization flashes in Yoongi’s eyes as he glances down at the soggy box in his arms, a sad smile contorting his features. One small box. All of Hoseok’s life is contained within this one small box of possessions. Yoongi’s heart clenches in his chest, compassion settling in his thoughts as he places the box onto the coffee table, fingers linking with Hoseok’s and tugging him towards the couch.

 

Hoseok allows himself to be led, avoiding Yoongi’s pitying gaze as he sits down on the sofa. His shoulders slump forward at the sudden weight of a heavy material, making him look up confusedly. Yoongi’s hands rub soothingly at Hoseok’s tense shoulders, wrapping him tightly in the doona they had prepared for Hoseok. “Keep warm, yeah? We don’t want you coming down with a cold.”

 

Hoseok head jerks in a nod, teeth still chattering softly as his body begins to warm up. Yoongi doesn’t remove his arm from around Hoseok’s shoulder, thumb brushing gently through the thick material of the doona as they watch the morning news in silence. Hoseok can hear the muffled bubbling of water as the kettle boils in the kitchen, the soft banging as Jimin opens and closes cupboard doors. He relaxes slightly, his warm and cocooned body slumping against Yoongi’s as he revels in the moment of domesticity.

 

Rain patters heavily against the cracked window, thunder booming and echoing throughout the apartment. Hoseok turns his head quickly in surprise at the noise, lips brushing accidently against Yoongi’s cheek. Hoseok’s body tenses, waiting for Yoongi pull away and scold him for crossing boundaries, but the older just pulls Hoseok tighter towards his body, his nose brushing against Hoseok’s as they semi-cuddle on the sofa.

 

Hoseok can hear Jimin’s soft cooing from the kitchen doorway, holding two mugs and having paused, seeing the scene unfold. “You guys are so cute. Look at you, Hoseok. You look like a fluffy marshmallow in that doona.”

 

He places a steaming mug on the coffee table in front of Yoongi before crouching down and handing the other to Hoseok, a gentle smile on his face. Hoseok accepts the mug, a small ‘thank you’ spilling from his lips as he wraps his fingers around the mug and cradles the warmth to his chest.

 

Jimin stands, running his fingers comfortingly though Hoseok’s hair. “No problem. I need to head off to work now, but Yoongi will give you a rundown about the apartment and answer any questions you might have. When I get home, Yoongi and I would like to talk to you about… the other night.”

 

Hoseok stares up at Jimin tentatively, wary at the sudden mention of their previous time together. “I… hope that it doesn’t cause any troubles between us. If you guys feel awkward about me staying here, I can tell Namjoon to fuck off and find somewhere else to stay. It’s no big deal.”

 

Jimin, realizing how his words might have sounded, waves his hands frantically in denial. “No, nothing like that. We want to help, Hoseok. It’s no problem having you stay with us. It’s just that, we wanted to say that if you would like to do it again, our bed is open to you. But don’t feel like it’s an obligation because you’re staying here. That’s the last thing we want you to think.”

 

Hoseok’s mouth snaps shut at Jimin’s words, processing the offer in his head over and over again. “You want me in your bed again?”

 

Yoongi nudges his knee with his own, drawing his gaze. “It was a great night, Hoseok. An experience that Jimin and I have talked about many times since last week. We didn’t see the harm in asking you, so long as you wanted to do it again for some fun.”

 

‘So long as you know that it means nothing.’

 

Hoseok notes the small message in Yoongi’s words, expecting nothing less from the man who has someone like Jimin in his life.

 

Hoseok plasters a smile on his face, head nodding in agreement. “Sure. I don’t see why not.”

 

Jimin beams at Hoseok, doing a little victory dance at his approval of their proposition. “Awesome! We’ll talk about it more when I get home, because I am super late at the moment.”

 

Jimin pats Hoseok’s cheek once and leans over to press a brief, chaste kiss to Yoongi’s lips before prancing happily towards the door, picking up the briefcase that Hoseok hadn’t noticed coming in.

 

He whirls out of the front door, waving frantically in goodbye before shutting the door with a soft click. The apartment is left in silence once again. “He seems… excited.”

 

Yoongi snorts at the mild description, leaning forward to pick up his cooled mug of tea from the coffee table. “You have no idea. We’ve been anticipating your arrival since we gave Namjoon the OK.”

 

Hoseok places his mug down, fingers curling into the fabric of the doona. “I know you said that you were okay with the onetime thing. But this… this is something different. Are you really okay with me living here with you and sharing your bed as well?”

 

Yoongi takes a sip from his tea, enjoying the fragrant flavour of warm liquid. “As long as we’re all getting the same thing out of it. I trust Jimin.”

 

Hoseok nods.

 

‘But you shouldn’t trust me.’

 

*~*~*

 

Kara’s ‘Step’ thumps along with the movements of Jungkook’s feet as he dances in front of the television, a sheen of sweat breaking out on his forehead. He has the biggest, silliest grin on his face that Taehyung has ever seen, and it couldn’t of been more beautiful to bare witness to. He’s just lounging on the couch next to Namjoon, his legs and arms splayed out in a comfortable position on the corner as he watches his friend. Jungkook knows all the moves and the words, matching the girl group on the screen as they sing and dance their hearts out on stage. Jungkook has loosened up a little on his guilty pleasure for girl group songs, freely expressing his adoration and enthusiasm for their choreographies without fearing judgment. Taehyung likes to think he had a hand in building the boy’s confidence – even just a tiny bit. His goal is to let Jungkook know that it’s OK to be himself, that he’ll be accepted no matter how quirky or weird he is.

 

Namjoon has his glasses on, his elbows propped up on his knees as he regards the laptop on the coffee table in front of him. Technically, Namjoon is working. It’s eleven am on a Wednesday after all, and ordinarily Namjoon would be at his new office downtown, but since Taehyung and Jungkook had moved in the former gangster has spent most of his time around the apartment. Most people would prefer to work in silence so that they can properly concentrate, but Namjoon is a man who prefers the presence and laughter of others. What majority would find disturbing or distracting, Namjoon finds to be peaceful and therapeutic. Also, Taehyung suspects that Jin has had a say on Namjoon’s presence at home. It’s likely his hyung doesn’t feel comfortable leaving him and Jungkook alone and bored.

 

When the song ends Jungkook places his hands on his knees and tries to catch his breath. Taehyung claps his hands animatedly and attempts a wolf whistle, encouraging Jungkook to twirl around and bow dramatically. The next song comes on and it’s a boy band, but Jungkook is equally as excited because it’s Big Bang. To Jungkook, G-Dragon is probably set above all the other idols he worships, possibly because he’s about as flamboyant and out there as a man can get without being blatantly homosexual – but it could be the music too, Taehyung supposes. He likes K-Pop, but not to the obsessive extent of one zealous Jeon Jungkook. The boy sits himself down in front of the television with his legs folded, his knee bouncing with anticipation, kind of like when a puppy wags its tail because it’s happy.

 

He turns his attention from Jungkook being a cutie-pie because he wants nothing more than to just walk across the room and pounce on him, averting to Namjoon instead, who has yet to look up from his laptop since he came and sat down. Taehyung takes a moment to appreciate how handsome his hyung is, and contemplates what his imaginary children would look like if Jin magically grew a uterus (he doesn’t find this concept impossible for someone like Seokjin, but the odds are unlikely). Out of everything, he probably likes Namjoon’s hair the most. It’s silver and reminds him of the pretty drapery of the curtains in the dining room, also lined with shiny silver stitching. It contrasts well with Namjoon’s lightly tan skin, and gives him an extra dose of rebel that his covered tattoos cannot presently satisfy.

 

“Taehyung,” Namjoon mutters in his deep baritone, “remember when we talked about personal space?” Taehyung blinks, realizing belatedly that his face was right up close to Namjoon’s, his nose very nearly bumping against the carpenter’s cheek. Namjoon doesn’t even look away from his screen, his face a completely calm and blank slate.

 

“Oh, sorry hyung,” he bounces back on his heels, licking his lips. “What are you doing?”

 

Namjoon starts typing something on the screen before he answers, “I’m sending out emails to clients. Mostly boring stuff at the moment.” Indeed, Namjoon does look awfully bored, although it can be difficult to tell when his natural resting face makes him look like a dope user.

 

“Interesting,” Taehyung drawls with a tinge of boredom, resting his elbow on the back of the couch.

 

“What’s up, Tae?” Namjoon can sniff out Taehyung’s weirdness from a mile away. He learnt earlier on that it was best just to ask what the four-dimensional Martian was pondering rather than write it off listlessly. Taehyung’s way of thinking can lead to some weird and awkward situations Namjoon would soon rather avoid.

 

“Nothing, just – your hair is cool, hyung. What made you decide to dye it that colour?”

 

Namjoon leans back against the cushions and cards his fingers through his hair, removing his glasses with lazy recollection. “Lighter hair suits me better – it always has. But I guess the reason I decided to dye my hair was because I needed a change. It got a little tedious having black hair like everyone else.” Namjoon blinks before sliding his gaze towards Taehyung, acknowledging how intently he’s listening before asking, “Why? Were you thinking of dying your hair? Because if you want I could take you down to the chemist today and we could pick out a colour.”

 

Taehyung shrugs. “I’ve been thinking about it. I figure if I’m going to be a spoiled rich kid from uptown I might as well look like one too.”

 

Namjoon chuckles, crossing his arms over his chest. “What colour would you go?”

 

“Purple – or maybe orange, I haven’t decided yet.”

 

“Please don’t go orange!” Jungkook calls over his shoulder, never once breaking his hypnotic gaze from the television screen. Namjoon chortles out a laugh and smacks his knee, and Taehyung grins widely.

 

“Then I guess it’s decided, I shall go purple!” Taehyung leaps up on the couch and does his Superman pose, but instead of a fist in the air he strikes a peace sign, his lips stretching into a rectangular shape.

 

“Get off the couch you stupid monkey,” Namjoon scowls playfully and shoves Taehyung, causing him to flop gracefully over the back of the couch and land with a muffled thud on the rug.

 

“Ah hyung, why you do dis to meh,” Taehyung whines as he lays there on his back, feigning agony.

 

“Because you’re a dumbass,” Namjoon dignifies as the most appropriate response, leaning over to close his laptop. “Come on, go get your shoes on. We’ll go now so I don’t have to deal with your nagging later on.”

 

Taehyung pouts, sitting up to shoot Namjoon a pitiful look. “I do not nag.”

 

“Of course you do. You’re Jin’s son after all,” Namjoon teases with a grin.

 

“But hyung, wouldn’t that make you my appa too? Or are you implying that Jin has done the nasty with someone other than you?” Taehyung fires back challengingly, his eyes creased with playful laughter.

 

Namjoon slaps a hand over his chest and makes dramatic noises as he pads his way out of the room, screaming, “Oh the scandal! Oh the adultery!”

 

Taehyung leaps up from the floor and makes his way over to the shoe rack, slapping on the first pair he sees that aren’t flip-flops or leather dress shoes. He peers over at Jungkook, who is still glued to the television like his life depends on it, his lips slightly parted and his eyes blown owlishly in wonder. It’s cute how childishly innocent Jungkook can sometimes be, even after the hell he’s been dragged through.

 

“Kookie,” he calls and Jungkook snaps his head towards him, looking a little disorientated, as though he hadn’t notice Taehyung and Namjoon move from the couch.

 

“Eh?”

 

“Hyung and I are going out for a bit. Do you want to come with us or…?” He figured he would offer. They would be gone twenty minutes tops, but Jungkook technically hasn’t been left alone in the apartment since he moved in. He watches his dongsaeng cast his eyes around the room, as if only just realizing how spacious it actually is, his features changing to what Taehyung thinks is pale anxiety.

 

“I – can I come with you guys?” Jungkook is so adorable. Taehyung grins widely, nodding his head. Jungkook switches off the television and races into his room to get his socks, while Namjoon reappears with his keys and sunglasses handy.

 

Even though his hyung is wearing sunglasses, he can tell by the tilt of his head that he’s staring down at his feet. “Are you wearing my high tops?”

 

“They’re yours? Huh, they’re a little too stylish for someone like you, aren’t they?” Taehyung teases and Namjoon clips him over the head with his ringed hand, making him whine exaggeratedly. “Dammit hyung! That hurt!”

 

“Well think twice about disrespecting your seniors, you brat.” Namjoon doesn’t sound like he truly cares though. He owns about six pairs of high tops anyhow.

 

Taehyung opens his mouth, ready to slide in a joke about senior citizens when Jungkook bounds back into the room with a bunched up pair of socks in his hand. He practically slides onto his bottom by the shoe rack and very nearly barrels both Namjoon and Taehyung over in the process.

 

“Jesus Jungkookie, calm down. We aren’t leaving without you,” Namjoon grumbles as he steps into a pair of Converses, which match horribly with his pair of beige khakis, but Taehyung decides to respectfully keep his mouth shut. Hyung is buying the hair dye for him, after all.

 

“I know, I know,” Jungkook answers sheepishly as he starts wriggling on his socks. Taehyung’s heart sinks a little when he realizes that maybe Jungkook didn’t know that they would wait for him. Had his ex-boyfriend been patient enough to let him get ready at his own pace? It’s unlikely.

 

Jungkook shoves his feet into a pair of Timberlands that are way too big for his feet, but for some reason the boy has a chemical fixation with the brand of shoes. Why, Taehyung will probably never understand, but he’s not one to be too critical of someone else’s fashion preferences – aside from Namjoon-hyung of course. He just makes teasing him so painfully easy.

 

They were back from the store within half an hour. They took longer than Taehyung had anticipated, because instead of going to the modest little chemist on the corner of their block, they ended up going to a corporate franchise pharmacy marketing every hair dye product known to man. There wasn’t just plain purple – there was also violet, and lavender, and lilac and plum – the list could go on. He ended up standing in that godforsaken aisle for over ten minutes deliberating whether or not he was going to go for something darker like byzantium, or something festive like mulberry.

 

Eventually Namjoon had gotten fed up and picked for him – which happened to be wisteria. Taehyung certainly wasn’t complaining. He had asked for Jungkook’s input, but in the end he hadn’t been much help, wandering off to the makeup section because he would soon rather browse through different types of the same eyeliner than make the decision for Taehyung. Jungkook would be a pain to shop with, because he’s the kind of person that no matter what you buy, he will completely go along with it, even if he isn’t all too keen. Damn pushover.

 

“Jungkookie,” Taehyung slings an arm around his dongsaeng’s neck and starts pulling him towards the main bathroom. “Help me dye my hair?”

 

“Do I have a choice, hyung?” Jungkook laughs as he pulls off his beanie.

 

“Not really,” Taehyung chirps.

 

“Don’t get any of that shit on the tiles!” Namjoon calls after them. “Jin will have a fit if you ruin his bathroom.”

 

“Don’t worry hyung, we’ll be extra careful!” Despite his words Taehyung doesn’t sound all too assuring. But nevertheless, Namjoon’s protests and warnings are sedated – for now, anyway.

 

Taehyung drags a chair into the bathroom and sits down in front of the large mirror situated above the sink. Jungkook carefully tucks a towel around the collar of Taehyung’s shirt and starts reading aloud the instructions in a clinical voice.

 

“So we need to bleach my hair first huh?” Taehyung scratches his chin contemplatively. “I’m sure Namjoon has some around here somewhere – hang on.” Taehyung is back in less than a minute with a bottle of peroxide, tossing it to Jungkook, who catches it effortlessly. He sits back on the seat and makes faces at his reflection as Jungkook starts preparing the mixture, tentatively reading the warnings printed on the back to make sure he doesn’t end up burning Taehyung’s scalp off.

 

Jungkook pulls on a pair of disposable gloves before clapping his hands together, meeting Taehyung’s grin in the mirror. “Let’s get started!”

 

*~*~*

 

It’s been a long day at work. Since daylight savings ended it’s always dark once he leaves the hospital, making him feel all the more tired – even if it is only five o’clock in the afternoon. He does his routine goodbyes to the staff who will be working late into the evening, sorts his paperwork so he knows what is finished and what will need his attention tomorrow, and then heads to the car park. The traffic is always a pain at this time, so he tries to fill the dead air with music from the radio and the low hum of the heater.

 

He looks forward to returning home now. It used to only be the excitement of seeing Namjoon, which was a treat in itself, but now he has two extra people waiting for him as well. He’s content that he no longer has to peer around the streets in the hopes of maybe spotting Taehyung, and he’s happy he was able to take Jungkook in before his abusive ex had been given the opportunity to inflict serious, permanent damage. It’s harrowing to think that some run-of-the-mill psychopath could’ve murdered Taehyung at any moment, or that Jungkook’s ex could’ve taken it one punch too far the night Taehyung heroically interfered and saved him.

 

His face drops as he moves at a snail’s pace through the city. He thinks of their smiling faces. He thinks of Jungkook fanboying over the idols on television, or Taehyung playing video games with passionate vigor. They’re adults, but they’re still kids. Hell, Jungkook isn’t even legal to drink alcohol or go clubbing yet, and Taehyung is just shy of a twelve year old mentality. It’s sickening to think about what they’ve both been through. They’ve seen and experienced things kids shouldn’t have to endure.

 

He knows a lot about Taehyung’s situation. The kid has never been shy about his past or the dysfunctional relationship with his father, but Jungkook is the opposite. He’s tight-lipped on anything to do with his ex, but if Jungkook’s relationship is anything like the textbook abusive relationships he’s read about, he could only imagine the horrors he has endured.

 

His eventual arrival is routine. He parks his car in his allocated parking space, greets the receptionist and the occasional neighbor on his way to the elevators, he presses the button to the top floor and he waits in composed anticipation.

 

It’s surprisingly quiet when he walks through the door, which is mildly unsettling, because Taehyung isn’t running around half-naked yelling battle cries and Jungkook isn’t on the Nintendo Wii attempting to get better at tennis. He puts down his briefcase and removes his shoes and scarf, looking around cautiously as though expecting one of the cheeky munchkins to randomly jump him.

 

They don’t.

 

He narrows his eyes and pokes his head into the kitchen, only to find his partner there, sitting on a stool with his laptop, a coffee in hand. Namjoon looks up from the screen, his eyes magnified by his black-rimmed glasses as he presents a dimpled smile. He stands up from the stool and meets Jin halfway for a kiss, wrapping his arms around his lover with the utmost of tenderness.

 

“Welcome home,” he mumbles against Jin’s lips, and smiles softly.

 

“It’s good to be home,” Jin answers honestly before leaning in to plant another kiss on Namjoon’s soft lips. “I’ll go change and get dinner started. Where are the children?”

 

Namjoon smirks, he knows something that Jin doesn’t. Jin hates that. “They’re in the main bathroom.”

 

Perplexed and a little intrigued, Jin leaves Namjoon to do his work and makes his way over to the other side of the apartment, shrugging out of his jacket and folding it over his arm. He comes up to the main bathroom, noticing the light streaming out from under the door. He leans in, listening closely for any sounds. He hears a giggle.

 

“This is awesome!” Taehyung’s voice is distinctive as it bounces off the walls. “I look like something out of an anime! You did an amazing job, Kookie!”

 

“It was nothing,” Jungkook’s modest response is less audible, but the tiles help to exaggerate the volume of his mellow voice.

 

“What do you think? I look cool, yeah?”

 

“Y-yeah. You look beautiful.” Jin blinks, staring at the door in surprise. Taehyung must have found this response surprising as well, because there’s a pause.

 

“Thanks Kookie,” Taehyung says gently. “You’re the best.”

 

Jin then takes the opportunity to interrupt, curiosity getting the better of him. He knocks twice before opening the door. “Hey guys how – oh my god what have you done to my bathroom?!” His face turns white at the mess of dye all over the sink and bench, with foils of aluminum scattered all over the floor and a towel that has completed discolored. It’s like he just stepped into a horror scene.

 

“Oh, hey hyung!” Taehyung waves his hand animatedly. Jungkook gives a small smile in greeting and Jin finds that he can’t get angry. Not at the kids, anyway. “Do you like my new hair?”

 

Taehyung’s hair has gone from his natural, rich brown to an electric purple colour that, oddly enough, suits him quite well. If anyone is going to pull off purple hair, it’s going to be Kim Taehyung.

 

Jin sighs. “Yes Taehyung, your hair is very nice. Just remember to clean all this mess up before dinner is ready.”

 

“Aye, aye, cap’n!” Taehyung solutes him with a grin, and Jungkook bows in apology. Jin rolls his eyes before closing the door, trudging his way to the master bedroom.

 

He knows Namjoon had a hand in this. He’s sure to give his partner hell about it later tonight.

 

*~*~*

 

There’s a faint ring of sirens that echo through the streets of Seoul and harmonize with the urban traffic of cars, buses and trains. The city seems like a whole other universe when Namjoon and Jin are cuddled up on the couch, Jin’s head lying in Namjoon’s lap with a thin cupboard blanket draped lazily over his coiled form. The television is on but neither of them are truly paying much attention to it, and there’s two empty wine glasses on the coffee table they’ll likely forget to wash until early the next morning, but they don’t care. The quality of each other’s company far outweighs any other domestic obligations, and Jin is far too comfortable to move just yet.

 

It’s a starless night tonight, with the moon nowhere to be seen. The urban smog settles over the skyscrapers like an ominous cloak, and he wonders how cold it is outside. The temperature is dropping with every passing day and pretty soon winter will be upon them, which means the seasonal celebrations lurk at the back of his mind, waiting for him to heed their festive calls. He doesn’t want to think about the holidays just yet. It feels too early for Christmas or New Years, but the months keep rolling by him and time is a force that no one can stop.

 

Namjoon plays absently with his wrists, the soft, tender pads of his fingers soothing across the silver scars etched across them like little reminders of his past. His partner likes to do this often when they’re alone. It used to churn an unwilling sickness inside of Jin when they first started dating, but over the years, he has made peace with his demons. Namjoon helped him realize that his scars are not something to be hidden, but to be worn with pride. They are his battle scars; they are proof of his recovery and his strength. Without Namjoon, it’s likely Jin may have never come to terms with the mistakes he made as a silly teenager, but all he needed was a little encouragement and care to finally change his self-perception.

 

He is a survivor.

 

There’s a faint noise coming from the hallway and Jin blinks, averting his gaze towards the source with narrow eyes. Is he imagining things, or had he heard voices? Jungkook and Taehyung should be asleep by now – they went to bed over an hour ago.

 

“You know,” Namjoon breaks the peaceful silence with an idle voice, “Jungkook has been sneaking into Taehyung’s room these past couple of nights. I see a lot of potential between them.”

 

Jin rolls over to get a better look at his other half, his eyebrows creased. “What do you mean?”

 

Namjoon shrugs nonchalantly. “I dunno, they’d just be cute together. I know Tae is usually all over everybody, but haven’t you noticed the way he is towards Jungkook? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so protective over somebody.” He chuckles in his deep, husky voice that Jin always adores.

 

“Well,” Jin pauses contemplatively, “now that you mention it, he was quite handsy with him when the others came around. I figured it was because of what Jungkook has been through… Taehyung witnessed the assault after all, I’m sure it traumatized him just as much as it did Jungkookie.”

 

The silver-haired man shrugs, running a hand through Jin’s hair and gently massaging his scalp. “It was just a thought,” he excuses offhandedly.

 

“You don’t think they’re moving too fast though, do you?” Jin persists, the concept concerning him more than he’d be willing to admit, but that doesn’t stop him from pestering Namjoon about it.

 

“Honey, we had sex on our third date. I’m sure they’ll be perfectly fine.” Jin’s face turns pink and he slaps his hands over his face.

 

“I can’t believe you brought that up.”

 

“Well you went there baby,” Namjoon chuckles, seizing one of Jin’s wrists to place a kiss on the plush curve of his palm. “Why does it bother you so much though?”

 

“Because you make it sound as though I’m a slut,” Jin huffs, squirming to get back into his previous position with his back strategically facing Namjoon.

 

Namjoon hums in amusement. “That’s not what I was referring to.”

 

“You mean Taehyung and Jungkook together?” Namjoon hums again, this time in confirmation, tucking a stray lock behind Jin’s ear. The other man sighs. “It’s just a little… concerning, that’s all. Both of them have a lot of emotional baggage that I’m not sure will mix well. I don’t want to see them get hurt, Namjoon, and most of all; I don’t want to see them hurt each other.”

 

Namjoon continues to stroke his hair, and much to Jin’s irritation, does not offer him an immediate response. When it’s clear that his partner won’t provide his personal input without prompting, he gives in. “What do you think, Namjoonie? Am I being crazy?”

 

“A little bit,” Namjoon teases. Jin pinches him in the thigh hard enough to make him wince. “Ouch – okay no, you’re not being crazy.” He sounds more sincere than Jin had expected. “I think you care a lot about those two, and that’s fine, but I personally can’t agree with you.”

 

Jin squirms to once again face Namjoon, his eyes challenging yet curious. “How so?”

 

“Well, I think for one, their personalities balance out,” Namjoon divulges. “Taehyung is loud and boisterous and weird, and Jungkook is reserved and quiet and shy, so they cancel each other out, in a way. But also – in regards to the baggage you mentioned – I think that they couldn’t be more well matched. What better person to understand Taehyung’s past than someone who has been through the same thing? Who better to deal with their problems than each other? Sweetie, they understand each other on a level we could never possibly understand. Don’t you see? Their weaknesses become their strengths when they’re together.”

 

Jin huffs, still unconvinced. “My psychology books would say different. They need someone well grounded and able to handle their problems effectively and calmly. Jungkook would never be emotionally strong enough to handle Taehyung, and Taehyung will never be calm enough to handle Jungkook. They’re a recipe for disaster.”

 

Namjoon simply shrugs, smiling effortlessly. “Whatever you say, baby.”

 

“I’m right about this!” Jin stresses indignantly, annoyed at his partner’s lack of concern. How could Namjoon not be worried about the relationship between two emotionally dysfunctional kids? Doesn’t he care about their wellbeing? Doesn’t he care about their futures?

 

“I think,” Namjoon starts before pausing, his eyes drifting from Jin’s scowling face to the hallway. “I think we should go to bed. I don’t want you to be tired working tomorrow.”

 

As if his partner had read the qualms of Jin’s subconscious, he involuntarily yawns. He mentally sighs. If he’s going to convince Namjoon that his conviction is the plain and factual shade of this argument, tonight, it seems, will not be the night to do so. They forgo stacking the empty wine glasses in the dishwasher, as Jin had predicted. Instead Namjoon switches off the television and disappears into the main hallway, expecting him to follow. And he does, but at his own, contemplative pace.

 

He finds himself pausing in front of Taehyung’s door. Namjoon is already in their room, likely stripping down to his boxers and half-heartedly disposing of his clothes in the hamper, so Jin doesn’t have to worry about an inquiry. He leans to press his ear close to the door, listening intently for any sounds. He can hear the faintest of whispering, like fairies that hide in the hollows of trees. There’s not a chance in Heaven or Hell he is going to be able to make out any words, but it’s obviously two voices.

 

He sighs before leaning away, casting the door one last look of worry before disappearing into the master bedroom.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 6

 

 

It's like pixie dust as it enters his veins, his thoughts, his nerves. His muscles clench and the magic comes alive, the shadows of his reality melting away to give his world light and hope once again. He feels the music thump like a heartbeat across the dance floor and it sets his senses alight, the warmth of twirling bodies like magma beneath his twitching fingertips. Smoke and sweat is heavy in the atmosphere, enclosing around his sweaty skin, invading his lungs like a toxic gas. The shift of technicolour lights cast mystery and anonymity upon the hoard of party-goers, making them all faceless, making them all the same.

 

Smoky eyes meet his own, trapped in a layer of killer eyeliner that accentuates her curiosity and desire. Her hair is tousled from dancing and there's sweat lining her brow, but her makeup has otherwise held itself together. There's a languidity to her movements that give away the influence of alcohol, though her controlled and certain expression leads him to believe she couldn't be anymore than a little tipsy. She makes her way over to him, weaving between the dancing bodies to press herself up against him, bold and daring. He puts his hands on her hips and they sway together, his head lolling forward to press his face against the junction of her warm, soft neck. She holds and guides him, every touch with an agenda, every look twinkling with unsaid promises.

 

She takes him back to her place and they tangle between the sheets, naked, trembling and drunk on the ecstasy of one another's company. He stays for the night because he has nowhere to return to, leaving in the early hours of the next morning with his jeans unzipped and his shirt lazily slung over his shoulder. He probably looks like a mess, he knows he does, but he'll be back at the club again tonight, repeating the same shit all over again.

 

He’s been sleeping on his friend’s couch for the past month, mooching off of whatever food he has stocked in the cupboards and fridge before heading out for the evening. Hoseok can feel the sway of their relationship, tolerance wearing thin, just like all the others, but he can’t find it in himself to care. He embraces the spray of water that pours down upon his lanky body, brittle and thin from tiring mistreatment. He doesn’t care much for how pasty his skin has gotten, or how thin his wrists have become, so long as there’s a vein visible for the release he isn’t going to be up in arms about it. He scrubs half-heartedly at what he can, feeling the energy start to gradually seep away from him, leaving a queasiness he would rather keep buried underneath the sugar of adrenaline and the kisses of sweet desire. Reality is starting to crawl its way back to the surface. He can feel it in his bones.

 

He surpasses a shiver as he steps out of the shower, towelling himself off hastily before draping it lazily around his hips. He approaches the mirror, its cool surface obscuring his reflection with a thin veil of fog. He leans over the sink and wipes it away, daring to gaze into the eyes that once belonged to him. They’ve become twin shells of what were once lively brown irises, now bloodshot and angry and sad. He hates himself enough to continue staring, to continue acknowledging his crippled reality. There’s exhaustion darkly aligned beneath his eyes, making him look a decade older than he actually is. He finds himself gripping at the edges of the porcelain sink - anything to keep him from slumping over and losing it completely. God, he is pathetic.

 

Is this what she would have hoped for him? Is this the future she would have wanted him to lead?

 

Probably not, but it’s the only way of living he understands anymore. It’s like he can’t function as a normal human being anymore. It’s as though he has lost touch with the sanity that used to be there inside of him, working as a mask to help him integrate into society’s norm. But he couldn’t grasp onto it forever, no matter how vigorously he tried. He tried for his family, he tried for his friends - especially Namjoon, but he could only maintain the facade for so long before it all went spiralling down into an abysmal pit of despair. It’s hard to joke, it’s hard to smile when the guilt is there, festering and growing inside of him like an incurable cancer. It’s eating him alive, and the only escape from the pain and regret is pure, adulterated sin.

 

He goes out again, different club, different scene, same people. He enters the men’s toilets sluggishly, and he comes out a few minutes later completely energized and flighty. Suddenly the smell of ash and poison is like flora to his senses, and the bass of the music is no longer headache-inducing, but seductive and sensual, settling into his limbs and guiding him through the crowd. The bad feelings he had felt earlier were chased away by his reliable saviour, singing into his ear, playing with his blood until it’s louder than the music in his ears. He feels arms wrap around his waist and he allows the fingers to wander and grope him. The hands are larger and rougher than the touch of an average woman, and the bulge brushing teasingly against his backside is enough to dispel any mystery of the person’s gender. He decidedly leans back against the board shoulder, his lips curving into a smirk as the man behind him starts thrusting with the rhythm, fast and rough and passionate.

 

The faceless man takes Hoseok back to his place, he’s impatient and careless and everything Hoseok needs at the moment. He doesn’t like it when it’s slow, he doesn’t like it when it’s intimate, because that leaves room for meaning and thoughtfulness he doesn’t care for. He doesn’t want to have any individual thoughts, he doesn’t want to have individual emotions, just the feeling of being weightless. The friction of the man who pounds into him is euphoric, he can experience every muscle and nerve aching to accommodate the girth that penetrates him, and he screams and he claws like a feral animal until the pleasure has hit its climax. Then there’s a shuddering pause where they’re both breathless, caught in a pleasure that is neither here nor there, but beyond the scopes of their reach.

 

Then the feeling is gone and there’s cum oozing down his inner thigh. He rolls off the side of the mattress and hits the floor with a groan. He feels no pain there, only boneless intoxication. He shuffles out of the apartment with his jeans still pooling around his ankles and his shirt knotted around his arm, a cigarette between his fingers. The lady looking for her keys outside a nearby apartment screams when she sees him, but all he does is sway to lean against the wall and do up his pants.

 

She’s still frozen in horror, even as he loiters past her, but he has the sober audacity to snort before taking a long drag of his coffin nail, his body humming with sinister delight.

 

*~*~*

 

He runs his hands through Jungkook’s silky hair in a tender manner, amused at how he shyly snuggles up against his affectionate touch. His hair had lost a bit of shine back when they were in the hospital, the discount shampoos not quite nurturing enough to accommodate the delicacy of Jungkook’s mop of tassels. It’s been a solid couple of weeks since they moved into Jin’s pent house though, and the expensive shampoos and conditioners proved be to just what Jungkook’s hair needed to achieve a captivating, soft shine.

 

It’s quiet in his bedroom. He thinks Jin and Namjoon might still be watching television in their room, but other than that, the whole apartment is relatively peaceful. Jungkook had snuck into his room about half an hour ago, but neither of them are in the mood to sleep just yet. Taehyung isn’t quite sure why Jungkook bothers to sneak into his room instead of just coming with him to bed, but he supposes Jungkook isn’t forward enough to be so presumptuous. He could only imagine how much courage it took for him to initially admit that he needed to sleep in the same bed with someone before confiding in him.

 

“Thanks again for cooking dinner, Kookie. The food was delicious,” Taehyung praises as he starts sweeping his fringe of out the younger boy’s eyes. Jungkook smiles at him, it’s small but it’s sweet. It never ceases to take his breath away.

 

“You know Jin-hyung only let me tousle the salad, right? I didn’t have any part in the actual cooking or preparation.”

 

“Now, now Jungkookie, no need to undermine your role as Jin’s little helper,” Taehyung chides off-handedly, grinning from ear to ear. “You didn’t have to help at all, but you did anyway. I think you’re on your way to becoming Jin’s favourite – and definitely don’t repeat that to Jimin. Jimin has to be everyone’s favourite.” He rolls his eyes, but the amusement rings definitively in his deep, smooth voice.

 

“You think so?” Jungkook hums. “He didn’t seem to want me helping him. He kept fussing over how I might exert myself if I lifted anything.”

 

“He isn’t wrong,” Taehyung chuckles, his hand slipping down from Jungkook’s hair to play with his earlobe. “Your ribs haven’t fully healed yet. You try to hide it but I know they still hurt you.”

 

Jungkook flushes. “Only a little bit,” he tries to argue, albeit weakly. “It’s really not as bad as it looks.” His tentative insistence doesn’t sound convincing in the least. Taehyung is ninety-percent certain that Jungkook doesn’t even believe his own words. It’s likely he doesn’t want to be a bother – the boy stresses about the value of his own company more than anything else. It’s painful how much Jungkook lacks in self-esteem, and it only makes Taehyung angry whenever he ponders the reason behind his friend’s anxiety.

 

He dares not even think of the name. He’s certain his whole demeanor is bound to change into something quite hideous.

 

He feels something poke his cheek and he blinks. Jungkook is frowning at him, his soft features scrunched with uncertainty. “What are you thinking about?”

 

“Something from my childhood,” Taehyung lies without missing a beat. He knows Jungkook will never ask any follow-up questions to this answer, and sure enough, regret flickers across the boy’s expression. He almost feels bad for eliciting such a response, but not enough to retract and confess the truth. He didn’t want to talk about Jungkook’s ex; it’d ruin the happiness of this moment.

 

“Oh.” As predicted, Jungkook clamps up. Truthfully, Taehyung hasn’t told him much about his childhood, only that his mother left when he was young and he didn’t get along with his father, but he knows Jungkook has an idea of what he’s been through. He knows he was a street kid for years, and it’s likely Jungkook put two and two together with the information he had.

 

“Kookie?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“If you could go somewhere – anywhere, where would you go?” Jungkook blinks slowly, but isn’t surprised at the spontaneity of the question, not when the question is being asked by Taehyung, at least.

 

He takes this moment to admire the sharp curves of Jungkook’s eyes and how picturesque they truly are. They say eyes are the windows into a person’s soul, but Taehyung doesn’t think the saying is applicable to everybody, only a special, selective few. They’re pretty and dark, and with the help of a little eyeliner he could certainly have the smoldering look down, but the innocent glimmer in them is what Taehyung adores the most. It’s like all his childish naivety is trapped in the twinkle of his eyes, like twin stars that swim through the abyss of the night sky.

 

“I would go to the beach,” Jungkook answers after a moment of contemplative silence, the edges of his pouty lips curling into a small, nostalgic smile. “My family moved from Busan to Seoul when I was ten, but I always enjoyed the weather back in my hometown. The summers were nice too. My brother used to take me down to the beach, which was only walking distance from our home. He used to buy me ice cream with the money eomma had given him and we would sit on the rocks with our feet in the water. When we were finished my brother used to push me into the water – and it somehow caught me off guard every single time,” Jungkook chuckles, his eyes glazed over. “I used to scream because I couldn’t swim. But then I’d stand up and the water would only come up to about my waist. My brother would laugh at me and call me a pansy.”

 

Taehyung is watching the movement of Jungkook’s lips as he talks, noticing how soft and pink they are under the gentle light emitting from the lamp on his nightstand. The playful little mole just under the curve of his bottom lip teases him, and he tries not to pay it too much attention. Jungkook looks so pretty and happy, the corners of his eyes crinkled just the tiniest bit to give away his contentment.

 

“We could go back there someday,” Taehyung murmurs. “To Busan, I mean.”

 

“That’d be nice,” Jungkook comments softly, toying idly with Taehyung’s fingers. “It’d be nice to go back and enjoy the warm weather. I’ve always felt a little out of place in Seoul, you know? It’s over-populated and people are a lot more unforgiving here – well, except you guys, of course. I guess luck was finally looking down upon me the day I met you, Taehyung. You and your friends are the best thing that has happened to me in a long time – I mean it.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t even realize that he’s leaned forward until their noses bump together. Jungkook blinks in surprise, but he’s not at all uncomfortable with the close proximity. It’s likely he finds normality in Taehyung’s odd mannerisms, having lived with him for a few weeks now. Perhaps on the day they had met Jungkook would have found it extremely unsettling for another person – a man to have his face so close to his own, but Taehyung’s ever inviting presence eventually grew on him. Nowadays, such behavior barely fazes him at all. He’s observed how Taehyung interacts with Jin and Namjoon and their friends, and it hadn’t taken him long to deduce that the man is affectionate. It’s simply Taehyung being himself, and Jungkook likes him enough to accept that.

 

Though, if it were anyone else, he’d be severely uncomfortable.

 

“Aigo, Tae,” Jungkook zeros in on a patch of white clinging to the corner of Taehyung’s mouth. He licks his thumb before reaching out. “You still have some toothpaste on your face.” He scrubs it away, his tongue slightly sticking out from between his lips in concentration. The tiniest crease forms on his brow. “There. All gone.”

 

Taehyung doesn’t respond or even blink. He has that look on his face that Jungkook can’t quite read – it’s the same one he always wears whenever he catches the man staring at him.

 

“Tae – ” the softest brush against his cheek silences him instantly. His jaw slackens slightly and his eyes go owlishly wide, but Taehyung does nothing at first, only stares, gorging his reaction. ‘Did he just kiss me on the cheek?’

 

“Ah,” Taehyung’s serious expression suddenly turns soft and apologetic, his eyes swimming with sincerity. “I’m sorry Kookie, I didn’t mean – ” Taehyung chokes when lips peck him chastely on the chin. Now it’s his turn to gape.

 

They stare at one another as though it’s a contest, each of them trying to figure out the thoughts of the other person. When Jungkook slowly starts to move forward again, Taehyung copies him, meeting the boy half way in a hesitant but meaningful kiss. Taehyung hovers there for a split second in an attempt to gather his thoughts. It’s difficult to process that he’s actually kissing Jungkook, his dongsaeng, his friend, but he couldn’t have thought of a more ideal person to do this with. Jungkook doesn’t push him, waiting patiently for Taehyung to make the first move.

 

With a sigh he presses a little harder against Jungkook’s soft lips, and he can feel the tension start to seep away from the younger, as though he had been expecting Taehyung’s rejection. A cold hand plants itself against his bare chest and Taehyung can’t bare the thought of any space between them, not now, not when he’s kissing Jungkook’s sweet, sweet lips. His hands are at the back of his head and waist, dragging the boy closer, tangling their legs together. Jungkook whines and slips his hand up Taehyung’s chest to rest at his shoulder, squeezing it slightly as the man nibbles at his bottom lip.

 

Jungkook isn’t at all dominating. He’s pliant, supple and shy. He’s everything Taehyung imagined him to be and more, and it lights up something inside him, a sizzling hunger that wants nothing more than to ravage him beyond repair. Taehyung knows better though, keeping the kiss chaste and pure for Jungkook’s sake. He wouldn’t want to jeopardize what they have at the expense of his selfish inner demons.

 

Taehyung is unsurprisingly the first to break apart the kiss. It’s likely Jungkook would have kept going for as long as Taehyung desired, even if he was getting short for breath. Taehyung brings his hands up to cup Jungkook’s adorable, pretty face, satisfied at the mild swelling on his bottom lip. Jungkook’s eyes are hazy and surreal, as though he had just copped a dose of morphine, and it warms him inside to know he has that kind of effect on him, because he’s certain he looks the same.

 

“Kookie… Jungkookie…” Taehyung murmurs, nuzzling their noses in a small but sweet Eskimo kiss. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.”

 

“Me too,” Jungkook admits in a small voice, still undeniably flustered.

 

“I didn’t… I didn’t want to do anything about it but… I guess I suck at listening to common sense, huh?” He laughs sheepishly. Jungkook breaks into a beautiful grin.

 

“You wouldn’t be Taehyung if you were logical,” he tells him teasingly. He feels his heart skip a beat.

 

“No… no I suppose I wouldn’t be me, would I?” He pauses to idly trace his thumb along the plush of Jungkook’s lips, mesmerized by how small and plump they are. “Jungkook… Little, adorable, squishy, baby Jungkookie.”

 

Jungkook whines exasperatedly and flicks him in the jugular, eliciting a chuckle. “I’ve heard enough of it from Jimin. Please, don’t follow in his footsteps.”

 

Taehyung hums, kissing a trail of butterfly kisses from the tip of Jungkook’s nose to the square of his forehead, entertained by the skin that flushes beneath his adoring touch. “Would it be inappropriate to want to call you mine?” he mumbles with just a hint of apprehension in his tone. “I know, I know your last relationship was awful, Jungkookie. Your boyfriend… the way he treated you…” Taehyung shakes his head. He couldn’t allow his anger to take over now. It wouldn’t be appropriate. “I need you to understand that I’d never do that to you – ever. I just… want to hold your hand and cuddle with you at night and chase away your nightmares because sometimes you have them even if you pretend you don’t. I want to take you on corny dates like the ones on television, and give you my jacket if you’re cold – which is definitely likely, because it’s winter and I know you always under dress for this kind of weather – ”

 

“Taehyung.” He bites his tongue for being such an idiot. Had he said too much? He feels fingers caress the side of his face, and the look in Jungkook’s twilight pools are coy but doting. He kisses him square on the mouth, brief, and subtle and very much Jungkook, and Taehyung forgets to breathe. He forgets to think. “I want to do all those things with you too,” he murmurs softly. “I know you’re nothing like Yukwon,” Taehyung shoulders stiffen, “you’re so much nicer and more genuine. I feel undeserving of you.”

 

“No,” Taehyung shakes his head quickly, wrapping his arms around Jungkook as though expecting him to disappear. “Don’t say that.”

 

“But it’s the truth,” Jungkook says softly. “I am undeserving. There is nothing I can offer you in compensation for the happiness and security you have given me this past month.”

 

“But you’ve already compensated for all of that,” Taehyung whispers softly, affectionately. “You gave me the pleasure of your company.”

 

Jungkook winces. “Tae. That was the single most cheesiest line I have ever heard. Please don’t ever say anything like that ever again.”

 

Taehyung grins, unapologetic. “So that’s it then? We’re official? I can hold your hand and feed you whenever I please?”

 

Jungkook rolls his eyes, but his face hurts from smiling so much. “You already do all those things anyway.”

 

“I know, but instead of feeding Jeon Jungkook I’ll be feeding my boyfriend.” Jungkook’s hands come up to cover his face, his countenance igniting in a dusty pink.

 

“Ugh. I hate you.”

 

“There’s a very thin line between love and hate,” Taehyung recites poetically as he nuzzles his face into Jungkook’s hair. “You, my dear, are teetering towards the former end of the spectrum.”

 

“What have I just signed myself up for?” Jungkook groans.

 

“Insanity!” Taehyung chimes. “You’re gonna love it!”

 

*~*~*

 

Warmth.

 

That’s all Jimin feels as he wakes, overheated and squished between two sweaty naked bodies. His eyes crack open, peering around the darkened room blearily as tendrils of Hoseok’s hair tickle at his nose, making him want to sneeze. The lingering scent of sex and sweat is heavy in the air. Jimin can taste it on the tip of his tongue as he wets his lips, his thoughts flashing back to the night before.

 

Skin on skin. Lips pressing against every of his inch of his body. Gentle touches and bruising grips.

 

Jimin bites his lip softly, arousal stirring at the memories and the phantom touches against his heated skin. He can feel a warm flush bloom through the entirety of his body, his breaths becoming shallow as he fully awakens and registers the sensation swirling under his skin. His hips move at their own accord, stuttering forward softly in the search for friction. He hesitates for a moment, weighing up the risks of being caught before rolling onto his back. The movement causes Hoseok to stir in his sleep, rolling onto the edge of the bed with his back now facing Jimin. Jimin waits a moment, afraid of waking Hoseok up to the sight of him jerking off beside him. He remains still, lingering until Hoseok’s breaths even out and then maneuvers to his side so that he’s facing Yoongi.

 

Jimin’s eyes slip shut, fingers slowly tracing down his own side and brushing against each slight dip of his ribs. His skin is still sticky from the night before, the feeling of it only arousing him more. He writhes underneath his own touch, need flaring in his lower stomach as the becomes even more heated. Jimin sucks in a quiet breath, hesitating briefly before slowly reaching behind. His fingers tentatively probe at his stretched entrance, still slick with lube and cum from the night before. His breath stutters as he slips two fingers in, thrusting shallowly and enjoying the barely there burn at the sudden intrusion.

 

He thinks back to Yoongi’s fingers last night, the way his boyfriend held him down and prepped him open for Hoseok. The way he raked his nails down Yoongi’s back, leaving trails of angry red as he stared at Hoseok over his lover’s narrow shoulder. He bites down roughly on his bottom lip, preventing the moans from escaping as his fingers twist and search for his prostate.

 

His arousal grows with every thrust of his fingers, dull ache building in his wrist at the awkward angle of his arm and hand. He reaches down with his other hand to palm at his erection, hips rocking gently up against his touch and back against his scissoring fingers. He’s so close, he can sense his orgasm bubbling just underneath the surface, ready to explode. He grips his dick tighter, pulling a sharp whine from his lips as he flicks his wrist.

 

“Fuck.”

 

He freezes at the breathy exhale, eyes flying open to meet Yoongi’s half lidded stare and catlike grin.

 

Yoongi’s darkened eyes trace across Jimin’s flushed face as he gently lifts the doona, revealing inch by inch Jimin’s debauched body and more importantly, the placement of his hands. He reaches out and pulls Jimin’s body flush with his own, nose brushing against Jimin’s forehead as his lover’s hard cock smears precum on Yoongi’s lower stomach. “Why didn’t you wake me?”

 

Jimin makes a high pitched keening sound at the contact, hips grinding forward. “It’s too early. I didn’t mean to interrupt your sleep. I just really needed to get off. I was going crazy.”

 

Yoongi brushes Jimin’s fringe back intimately, palm caressing across his cheek before reaching down, pressing a finger into Jimin’s entrance, alongside Jimin’s scissoring fingers. “Sleep can wait. I’d much rather help you.”

 

Jimin’s breath is hot against Yoongi’s cheeks, coming out in stilted gasps and exhales at the feeling of their combined fingers. “You… you… can I?”

 

Yoongi removes his fingers from Jimin, laughing softly at Jimin’s devastated expression as he rolls over to get the little tube of lube sitting on the bedside table. “I should still be stretched a little from the last night but…”

 

Jimin takes the tube with shaky hands, manoeuvring so he’s kneeling between Yoongi’s spread legs. The first rays of sunlight peak out from underneath the curtain, illuminating the room with just enough light for Jimin to make out Yoongi’s delicate silhouette and the soft glow of his pale, alabaster skin. Skin that Jimin wants to mark and bruise with possessive hickeys and love bites.

 

His eyes trace sadly over the outline of Yoongi’s ribs and the growing concave of his stomach, his hip bones jutting out almost sharply against the skin. Jimin’s heart stutters at the sight of his boyfriend’s weakening body, not knowing what to do to make him stop, other than trying to convince him through love.

 

He runs his free hand up the smooth expanse of Yoongi’s inner thigh, feather light touch making him squirm in want. “You’re so beautiful, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi’s hands jerk up at the words, arms pressing against his chest in an attempt to shield his exposed torso from view. “Jiminnie… don’t. “

 

Jimin drops the small bottle onto the bed, his hands gripping gently at Yoongi’s thin wrists before pulling them away from his chest and pressing them into the pillow above his head. “Don’t hide from me. Why won’t you listen to me? You, Min Yoongi, are the most beautiful person in the whole world. You don’t ever need to change, not for me or anyone else for that matter. I don’t want you to change.”

 

He presses kisses along the length of Yoongi’s jaw, grip tightening on his wrists as Yoongi struggles to break free. “Let go, Jimin.”

 

Jimin shakes his head, lips trailing down the column of Yoongi’s throat and the centre of his chest. “No. Not until you know how much I love you, how much you mean to me.”

 

Yoongi’s breath hitches at Jimin’s words, tears welling in the corners of his eyes and wetting his eyelashes. “N-no.”

 

‘You know he’s only lying to you. Who would love your ugly self anyway?’

 

‘Shut up.’

 

‘Don’t want to face reality, Yoongi? Don’t worry, we’ll always be here to remind you.’

 

Yoongi shakes his head, yanking a wrist from Jimin’s hold and tugging at his boyfriend’s tousled hair, pulling him up for a deep kiss. “Show me.”

 

Jimin leans back, picking the bottle of lube up and smearing some of the substance onto his arousal and his fingers. His fingers probe gently at Yoongi’s entrance, dipping one finger in before quickly adding another at the ease of entry. “Yoongi… “

 

Yoongi’s hips buck up impatiently, arousal thrusting against air. “Ahh… I’m fine, Jimin. Just go.”

 

Jimin sits up on his knees, one hand pressed against the mattress beside Yoongi’s head for support, the other lining up his cock with Yoongi’s entrance. He presses in slowly, Yoongi’s tight heat clenching around him deliciously as he works his arousal in, pausing when his hips are flush against Yoongi’s. The room is quiet, the only sound being their gasping breaths and Hoseok’s quiet snores.

 

Jimin lowers himself down, distributing his weight onto his knees and elbows so he doesn’t crush the fragile body beneath him, but enough so Yoongi can feel his solid weight pressing into him. Jimin reaches up with one hand, fingers entwining with Yoongi’s against the pillow beside his head as he presses their foreheads together.

 

Warm breath fans across his face as Yoongi’s legs wrap tightly around his waist, heels digging into the muscles of his powerful thighs. Yoongi’s other arm loops around, his nails scratching at the soft flesh at Jimin’s shoulder blades, no doubt leaving trails of red, irritated skin. “Minnie… ugh… move.”

 

Jimin doesn’t thrust straight away, rolling his hips so he grinds into Yoongi’s pliant body, eliciting soft gasps from his boyfriend. He takes his time, making sure Yoongi can feel every caress, every shallow thrust. His nose slides tenderly across Yoongi’s flushed cheek before burying into the soft platinum tassels on the side of his head. “I love you.”

 

A tear escapes out of the corner of Yoongi’s eye as Jimin thrusts gently against his body, Jimin’s lips coming up to kiss away the salty tear trailing across his temple. Jimin leans in and captures his lips in a kiss that steals his breath away, peppering featherlight pecks across his cheek.

 

‘That’s right. Let him use your body. You’re no good for anything else.’

 

‘Shut up… please…’

 

‘Be quiet and take it, like the useless piece of shit you are.’

 

Yoongi’s body curls up against Jimin’s as he snaps his hips forward, face burying into the side of Jimin’s neck as he tries to control his breathing. Jimin’s hand reaches down, palm running along the length of Yoongi’s body before resting on his hip, thumb rubbing soothing circles against the heated skin. “I love you.”

 

‘No he doesn’t.’

 

“I love you so much.”

 

‘No he doesn’t.’

 

Yoongi’s fingers tangle in Jimin’s hair, his head nodding frantically into Jimin’s neck as if he would miss the opportunity to respond. “I - I love you too.”

 

Jimin breathes out a sigh of relief at the delayed answer, head turning and lips pressing tenderly against Yoongi’s temple.

 

The couple don’t notice that Hoseok’s soft snores have stopped, nor do they notice the soft dip of the mattress as he rolls over.

 

Hoseok stares wide eyed at the couple, unsure as to how to react. His eyes trace over the soft thrusting of Jimin’s hips, the boy’s tender hold on Yoongi’s body. He wants to avert his eyes, roll back over and pretend he’s asleep so he doesn’t interrupt the intimate moment between the two, but he can’t seem to look away. He watches as hands grip desperately at flesh, soft breaths coming out in stuttered moans as Jimin’s pace quickens.

 

Hoseok wants to slide his hands up Jimin’s sides and suck love bites along his spine as he fucks into Yoongi. He wants Yoongi’s fingers to tangle in his hair and kiss him over Jimin’s shoulder, the group of them moving in tandem with Jimin’s thrusts. A small smile graces his lips at the thought, his hand reaching out to run a hand through Jimin’s chestnut hair but freezing when he hears the boy murmur out a continuous string of ‘I love you’s against Yoongi’s skin. His hand jerks back like he’s been shocked, his arm tense against his chest.

 

This time he actually does roll over, trying to make his mind wander and distract him from the soft moans of pleasure… of love. His body curls up, fingers clenching in the sheets as he wonders what it’s like. To have someone hold you so gently, to have them tell you ‘I love you’ and light up your world everyday.

 

Hoseok squeezes his eyes shut.

 

Maybe he’s just destined to live in the dark.

 

*~*~*

 

Sundays are generally lazy days in Jin’s household, or at least from what he’s observed over his stay here. Jin would usually spend his time in his study, catching up on the work he hadn’t bothered to finish that week, and Namjoon would either be watching television or talking on the phone to clients or friends.

 

Today it is Jin who sits with him on the couch though; his leg crossed one over the other in a feminine posture that contradicts how he lazily drapes his arms over the back of the couch. They’re watching some sort of discovery program on the cable – a luxury he never had the pleasure of having, even when he was still living with his family. Ordinarily Jungkook wouldn’t be all that entertained by an educational program, but the British zoologist on the screen is talking about creatures he hadn’t ever seen or heard of before in his entire life. He actually finds himself leaning forward in fascination as the peculiar creatures pop up on the high definition television, boasting peculiar and extravagant pigments that could give Taehyung’s colourful personality a run for its money.

 

He can see Namjoon enter the lounge room out the corner of his peripheral, his shock silver hair unmistakable to the eye, but he doesn’t turn to acknowledge him at first. He approaches from the main hallway, where he had likely come from washing up in the bathroom.

 

“What are you guys watching?” He can feel Namjoon’s presence pause a few feet away, but he still doesn’t stray his attention from the screen. Not when the charismatic British man has just moved onto a segment about Tree Frogs.

 

“David Attenborough,” Jin answers with a dash of amusement in his tone. “Jungkookie is particularly interested in the cinematography.”

 

“I don’t blame him,” Namjoon chortles. “The images can be pretty mesmerizing.” A large hand reaches out to ruffle his hair, and that’s when Jungkook finds a good enough reason to draw his eyes from the television and regard Namjoon’s grinning, dimpled expression. He freezes, however, when he realizes Namjoon isn’t wearing a shirt, his face dropping as he stares.

 

Namjoon, noticing Jungkook’s change in demeanor, blinks before misinterpreting why the boy has become so suddenly serious. “Oh. Sorry, I actually came in here to ask Jin if he’s seen my pink dress shirt,” he smiles apologetically, but Jungkook’s expression appears to have cemented.

 

“The one I gave you for Christmas last year?” Jungkook hears Jin’s voice from somewhere over his shoulder, but he doesn’t turn to look.

 

He’s frozen.

 

Namjoon gives some sort of answer, but his surroundings start to melt away from his reality as he tightly clutches his knees. Namjoon’s upper body has an exclusive collection of tattoos inked from his arms to halfway across his chest. The ragged design of his tribal tattoo engulfs his left shoulder and stretches down across his left pectoral, as black and sharp as the claws of a demon. His right bicep adorns the side profile of a detailed skull nurtured by a bed of tragic roses and emphasized by the twin birds flying away from it, as though departing from the throes of death. They aren’t, however, the tattoos that sway Jungkook’s very being and chills him to his core though. They aren’t what coax fear from his heart, and poison from his memories.

 

No – it’s the tattoo on his right forearm, so distinct and so familiar that his stomach does a sickening flip. The King of Roses, Zico’s gang tattoo. Jungkook would know it anywhere, from the faceless skull of the king to the red roses that contrast to the card’s grey exterior. It’s a symbol of underground royalty, a symbol of evil, death and lawlessness. How many times had he gazed upon the very same tattoo on Yukwon’s arm? He saw it when he woke up in the morning; he saw it before he went to sleep at night. He’d see it in the darkest corners of his most fearful nightmares.

 

The doorbell rings.

 

“Jungkook, go answer the door.” He doesn’t have to think twice before jumping up from the couch, Yukwon’s arms falling from his frame as he approaches the front door. His pace is even and he acts confident, but on the inside he can feel his insides churn unsettlingly. He hates having visitors over – they’re always Yukwon’s friends. He hates Yukwon’s friends.

 

Opening the door, he’s met with his least favourite hyung, biting down on his tongue when the man greets him with a lazy smirk and a woman under his arm. She looks distracted, her eyeliner alluding to a nasty attitude and an impatient fortitude. Her messy hair and skimpy clothing make him want to slam the door in the grinning asshole’s face, but by god he would get the beating of a lifetime if he ever dared to disrespect the leader of Yukwon’s gang.

 

He folds his hands in front of him before bowing politely in greeting, just like he had been ‘trained’ to do in such situations. “Hyung. Welcome.” It’s as polite as he’ll allow himself to be in front of this man.

 

“Jungkookie,” Zico drawls with an ounce of amusement, his grin Cheshire and menacing. He takes a step forward but Jungkook doesn’t dare to lift his gaze from the floor. To do so would be an act of defiance and equal standing – neither of which he is at liberty to express to anyone in Yukwon’s gang, much less the man in charge. A hand ruffles his hair roughly and he bites down on his lip, seizing control of every nerve to ensure he doesn’t flinch. “Still walking I see. I guess Yukwon didn’t follow through with his threat to cut you down to size eh?”

 

His fingers twitch. “My legs still haven’t fully recovered,” he answers in a small voice, stepping aside to let the man and his companion through.

 

“Zico,” Yukwon greets from the couch, his eyes drifting from the leader to the woman he is guiding by the wrist with a hint of indignation. “You didn’t mention you were bringing a friend.”

 

“Nah she’s cool. She ain’t a chatty chick, she’s just here for a quick fix.” Jungkook closes the door as Zico approaches the couch, sitting the woman down before settling beside Yukwon – the spot Jungkook had previously occupied before their unannounced drop in.

 

“Jungkook, get us two beers,” Yukwon calls offhandedly, not even glancing up to acknowledge his boyfriend’s presence. Jungkook inwardly huffs before skittering off into the kitchen to do as he’s told.

 

He returns quickly. It’d be a rookie’s mistake to keep Yukwon waiting more than he has to. He kneels down on the floor by Yukwon’s feet to pass him the bottles. Yukwon places one in front of Zico on the coffee table as the leader busies himself with something – a syringe, from what Jungkook can tell, flicking experimentally at the glass casing. There’s an unlit cigarette between his teeth that Yukwon dutifully lights. Zico gives a nod in thanks before leaning over to the woman on his other side, who is all but slouched up against the cushions with her palms facing the ceiling.

 

She regards Zico with expectancy as he injects the needle into her bruised skin, and Jungkook has to look away, bile climbing up the base of his throat. The woman gasps as the liquid is inserted directly into her bloodstream, her limbs starting to tremble vigorously and her eyes rolling to the back of her head. She gives out a funny moan that kind of sounds like a constipated goat, and Jungkook can’t seem to drag his eyes away from the peculiar sight. Her chapped lips fall agape and her lashes vibrate with the movement of her glazed eyes. Then, the trembling suddenly stops, and she flattens against the couch as though she could meld herself into the cushions, releasing a loud, exaggerated sigh that has him wincing.

 

Zico has been staring at him, gorging his reaction with a twinkle of sinister amusement. Jungkook only notices a fraction too late for him to turn away and pretend he hadn’t witnessed it.

 

“Curious, Jungkookie?” The deep scrape of Zico’s voice is like gravel to his ears. He has half the mind to shudder and run away as the dangerous man reaches out for his beer, fully exposing the gang tattoo on his forearm. “It’s my new variation of cocaine. I call it ‘Jackpot.’ Wanna try it?”

 

Zico has always found amusement from the blatant distaste Jungkook has for him, not that he would ever know why that is, but Zico isn’t exactly normal. Unfortunately, this lead to some unwanted attention he would soon rather avoid, particularly from someone as powerful and dangerous as a gang leader. Most of Yukwon’s other friends – particularly those apart of the same gang, barely spare him a second glance before continuing to treat him as though he isn’t there. Truthfully, Jungkook would much prefer being disregarded than acknowledged – and he had all but succeeded with the unfortunate exception of Zico.

 

“No thank you, hyung.” He doesn’t make eye contact and he doesn’t move from where he is by Yukwon’s legs.

 

Yukwon is probably the only thing stopping Zico from coming over and sticking a knife down his throat. It’s likely the leader would have done it by now if Yukwon hadn’t been quite so adamant on keeping him around as a house pet.

 

“See that,” Zico tsks, exhaling a whiff of smoke as he settles back against the couch, averting his attention to Yukwon. “Here I am being a generous guest and what does your thing do? It rejects me. No manners, no manners. You should really consider giving him some of our new supply, Yukwon. One fix and he’ll never leave you – he’ll be as loyal as a dog.”

 

Yukwon scoffs before leaning forward, patting the side of Jungkook’s face with misleading tenderness. “Jungkook-ah would never leave me, would you? You know who you belong to, don’t you?”

 

He feels the pulse in his neck quicken and his eyes widen slightly. “O-of course I’d never leave you. Not now, not ever.”

 

“He’s a liar,” Zico snickers in Yukwon’s ear.

 

He can feel tears pricking at the corners of his eyes and he gulps, shaking his head furiously. He latches onto Yukwon’s hands, his lower lip wobbling because he can’t seem to hold down the fear building in his chest. If he can’t convince Yukwon that he’s truly loyal to him and only him, then maybe he’ll listen to Zico – maybe he’ll consider turning him into an inconsolable drug addict that can’t even control his own limbs. He doesn’t ever want to become that. He knows the effects of drugs and how lethal they can be; he knows what an addiction can lead to and why his mother always used to warn him as a kid.

 

“Yukwon – Yukwon I’d never,” he pleads desperately, clutching at Yukwon’s hands until his knuckles turn white. “Please don’t make me take drugs I love you – please I don’t ever want to leave you, believe me! Zico – he doesn’t know what he’s talking about – ” he sees the hand coming before it strikes him, but he lets it collide with his cheek anyway.

 

He can hear a cackle from the woman as she lolls her head to the side, a crazy grin plastered over her sweaty face. He falls back on his bottom, a hand on his reddening cheek as he gazes up at his boyfriend’s exasperated face.

 

“Quit your bitchin’,” he snaps. “You sound like a needy whore.”

 

“Such a disrespectful little runt,” Zico sneers, bringing the rim of his beer to his lips. “If he was my bitch I would’ve done more than slap him for that.”

 

Yukwon and Jungkook don’t break eye contact, and he can tell his boyfriend is trying to figure out whether he’s telling the truth or not, as though he’s picking away the layers to try and find sincerity. Jungkook, still nursing his aching cheek, mutters, “I won’t ever leave you.”

 

“Prove it.” They both snap their heads towards Zico, who’s staring at Jungkook challengingly.

 

“Wh-what?” Jungkook grits his teeth, eyes narrowing.

 

Zico smirks. “Prove your loyalty.”

 

“I don’t need to prove my loyalty – ”

 

“Actually, I think Zico is right.” Jungkook slowly averts his attention back to Yukwon, who is staring at him darkly, his bleach blonde fringe falling over his right eye. “I think you need to prove it to me.”

 

Jungkook’s breath hitches. He almost can’t believe his own ears. He has to prove himself? He has shown nothing but loyalty to Yukwon from the very beginning of their relationship! He waits on him hand and foot, he does what he’s told without question, he practically worships the very ground he walks upon, and he wants him to prove himself?

 

He bites down on his tongue. Hard. Saying something defiant is going to earn him another slap.

 

“How?” he inquires thinly, refusing to even look at Zico and his cocky-ass expression.

 

“You’re shy, aren’t you Jungkookie?” He’s starting to think Zico had planned this little stunt from the beginning just to spite him. The fact that he’s orchestrating the entire situation at this very moment leads him to believe he’s doing this out of pure, sadistic self-pleasure. “Why don’t you show Yukwon a good time, hm? I bet he’d appreciate it.”

 

“What?” Jungkook growls. “Right here? In the fucking living room?”

 

“Sounds like your mouth needs a thorough cleansing,” Zico chides sharply, shifting in his seat to once again to regard Yukwon. “What do you think, Yukwon?”

 

“There has to be another way to prove myself, surely,” Jungkook splutters, his cheeks going red and his eyes becoming watery. Even the thought of doing something so demeaning in the presence of Zico – and the totally spaced out lady – makes him light-headed with humiliation. Yukwon looks dangerously contemplative, and he can feel the last speck of his pride ride away with the wind when he starts rolling up the sleeves of his shirt.

 

Yukwon’s tattoos are revealed and his heart sinks. Yukwon only ever rolls up his sleeves when something insidious is about to happen, and he bites down on his bottom lip, refusing to let it quiver. His boyfriend squirms to get comfortable, spreading his legs and asking Zico to hand him a cigarette. The leader does so happily, his smirk stretching from ear to ear with sickening delight.

 

“Go on, Jungkook. Prove it,” Yukwon hisses expectantly. “Prove that you're my loyal little bitch.”

 

He’s going to be sick.

 

The world spins around him and he feels dizzy. He trips but catches himself as he starts stumbling towards the hallway. He thinks he hears Jin call out after him but he doesn’t dare to stop, using the walls to keep him balanced as he rushes towards Taehyung’s room. The door is closed but he pushes in anyway, despite his ingrained mannerisms screaming at him to at least knock first. His head is pounding and his insides constrict painfully. He slaps a hand over his mouth as he sprints across the room towards the ensuite, missing Taehyung entirely.

 

He falls to his knees and they collide loudly with the tiles. He throws up the toilet seat. He hears a voice echo from somewhere behind him but it’s all background noise, deafened by the ringing in his ears.

 

“Prove it.”

 

He heaves.

 

Taehyung hadn’t known what to think when Jungkook had so suddenly barged into his room. He had been lying on his bed listening to music with the headphones Namjoon had gotten him, tapping his feet against the plush bedspread and humming along with the melody. It’s weird how easily the situation turned once Jungkook ran in, stumbling straight towards his bathroom with a clumsiness he hadn’t seen before. He had tossed away his headphones before following after Jungkook, calling his name as though expecting him to respond.

 

When he calls Jungkook’s name for the third time, however, he ends up choking because his cutie little patootie is throwing up, his whole body shuddering violently. He stands there, gaping in the door frame for a fraction of a second before he seizes control of his flailing limbs, rushing forward and kneeling down by Jungkook’s side. He wraps an arm around his shoulders and pushes away his fringe, eyebrows drawing in a concerned frown. His skin is clammy and his lips are trembling, but what hurts Taehyung the most is the tears running down Jungkook’s face. He hates to see him cry.

 

He rubs Jungkook’s back as he vomits, his hands clutching at the porcelain bowl as he sobs between intervals of regurgitation. He doesn't ask Jungkook why he’s vomiting or why he’s crying, because deep down he somehow already knows the answer – or at least the gist of it anyway.

 

He stays by his side until there’s nothing left but bile to throw up, and by that stage the worst of the nausea has already past. Taehyung takes Jungkook carefully into his arms as the boy continues to whimper, letting him curl up against his chest as he gently rocks them back and forth.

 

Taehyung is patient because he has to be, waiting out the whimpers until nothing but small gurgling noises reach his ears. He hums under his breath the very tune he had been listening to before Jungkook had entered, ironically it had been EXO’s ‘Baby Don’t Cry.’ It seems to work miracles in calming his boyfriend down though, because eventually the bathroom is filled with nothing but silence. Glorious silence.

 

It’s almost deafening.

 

“Kookie,” Taehyung chokes out thickly, clutching at the boy’s hand. “Let me run you a bath? I’m sure it’ll make you feel better.”

 

Jungkook just clutches the front of his shirt, as though he’s afraid to pull away from his arms.

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” he assures gently. “I’ll even join you if you’d like?”

 

He takes Jungkook’s silence as a ‘yes’ and proceeds to manoeuvre them over to the bath, the younger still clinging to the front of his shirt. He manages, with great skill, to reach over and turn on the tap with his other arm still around Jungkook, adjusting the temperature of the water.

 

As the bath slowly starts to fill he’s hit with the daunting realisation that he’ll probably have to undress Jungkook. He knows he’s going to be overstepping some major boundaries, and could possibly trigger a panic attack, so he leans forward, brushing his lips against Jungkook’s ear before kissing the edge of his jaw.

 

“Kookie, I’m going to take your clothes off now,” he murmurs calmly. “Is that OK?”

 

Jungkook looks up at him for the first time since he came into the bathroom, his big eyes red from crying and his face deathly pale. Through the pain and doubt though, he can spy a glimmer of trust, and with a small, tentative nod, Jungkook gives him the permission he needs to proceed.

 

Gulping thickly, he starts with Jungkook’s sweater before working his way down. Once his shirt is removed, Jungkook wraps his arms around his neck and shyly clings to him, shuddering when Taehyung accidently brushes across bare ribcage. He disposes the rest of his clothes quickly, respectful enough not to let his eyes linger on Jungkook’s vulnerable form before helping him into the bath.

 

The water gets up to about the younger boy’s waist once he’s settled, leaning heavily over the edge of the bath with his eyes threatening to droop closed. Taehyung strips quickly before slotting himself in behind Jungkook, wrapping his arms around the boy’s middle before dragging him in between his legs. Jungkook is so exhausted that he doesn’t even mind resting against Taehyung’s bare chest, with perhaps just the slightest blush giving him away.

 

He uses the washcloth to clean the dry sweat from Jungkook’s face and around his chest, continuing to hum. He moves in very languid and slow movements, scared that anything sudden might startle Jungkook, particularly in such a fragile state of mind.

 

“Tae,” Jungkook murmurs in a small voice, and Taehyung pauses from swiping the washcloth over the boy’s defined collarbone.

 

“Hm?” He’s a little surprised Jungkook has chosen to speak, but continues his ministrations just in case Jungkook finds the stillness off-putting.

 

“What if Yukwon finds me?” Taehyung accidently grips the washcloth too tightly and water spills over Jungkook’s collarbone and runs down his chest. The arm around Jungkook’s waist tenses.

 

“And how would that be possible?” he continues, totally avoiding the question.

 

“Yukwon… he has connections… more than you or I could ever imagine,” Jungkook sounds so scarcely resigned that now Taehyung feels nauseous, but he keeps his cool, if not for Jungkook’s sake. “He’s going to find me, Tae. He’s going to take me away.”

 

No,” he chokes, dropping the washcloth and snatching Jungkook up, holding him as close against him as humanly possible. “D-don’t say shit like that. He won’t find you, he won’t.”

 

“But what if – ”

 

If Yukwon finds you,” Taehyung mutters lowly, “he won’t be able to take you away, Jungkook. You don’t belong to him, you never did.”

 

“I want to believe you,” Jungkook’s breath hitches. “But I can’t.”

 

“Jungkook,” he rests his chin on the boy’s shoulder, brushing his lips against the damp curve of his neck. “What are you afraid of? Why won’t you believe me?”

 

“I…” Jungkook’s voice drops, his lips pressing together. “I’m scared I’ll be taken away from you.”

 

Taehyung shudders, lifting his head up slightly before pressing a kiss to the other’s temple, his lips trembling slightly. “I won’t let that happen,” he whispers softly. “That’s a promise.”

 

*~*~*

 

It’s well after noon when Jimin wakes up, the deafening sound of each heavy drop of rain against the window making his ears ring. The noise echoes loudly in his head alongside the increasing volume of his heartbeat, temples throbbing as it pounds against his skull. He clenches his eyes shut, room exceedingly too bright for his light sensitive eyes as he tries to bury his face further into the pillow.

 

Maybe Yoongi opened the curtain just to spite him, just to teach him a lesson for being such a light weight. If so, his boyfriend is going to regret it. A deep groan rumbles from his throat, his body curling into itself as a dull pain settles in his tense muscles. Why? Why did he do this to himself last night? Why on god’s earth did he trust Hoseok?

 

“Just one more drink. Then we’ll leave.”

 

“Come on, Jimin. You’ll be fine,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said.

 

What complete and utter bullshit.

 

‘I am never going out with Yoongi and Hoseok again.’

 

He thought Yoongi was bad whenever they went out, but Hoseok… Hoseok is so much worse. The excited energy he emits as soon as he’s got an inkling of alcohol in him is infectious, so much so that it made Jimin forget about the consequences of the morning after and drank himself to an almost blood-poisoned oblivion. He tries to wet his chapped lips, his cotton mouth and dry tongue doing nothing for the situation but help him realise just how dehydrated he is. Another deep groan escapes his lips, one eye tentatively opening to face the burningly bright room.

 

His cheek twitches as he glances up to the bedside table, searching for the glowing red numbers that will tell him what the time is of this apparently torturous day. The bright 2:27pm burns onto his retina as he rolls over, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and pushing himself up unsteadily with one arm. Cracks sound from his stiff joints as he sits up, room spinning wildly and nausea churning at his stomach.

 

‘This is not how I wanted to spend my weekend.’

 

He reaches up slowly, carding his fingers through knotted hair. The burning scent of spilt alcohol and smoke clings to his clothes, which he hadn’t bothered to remove before passing out in bed last night. The sickly smell makes his stomach grumble loudly, its liquid contents threatening to make a reappearance at another wave of nausea. He clenches his eyes shut, hands fisting against the bed sheets as he breathes deeply through his nose. Not that it fucking helps.

 

He rolls his neck, fingers rubbing at the twinge in his tense muscles and the dull ache in his bones. He breathes out a sigh, pushing forward and trying to balance on wobbly legs. If anyone saw him, they’d probably think he looked like a toddler trying to take his first steps, stumbling around and completely uncoordinated. He rubs soothing circles into his temple with his palm, shuffling towards the door. He can hear the dull muffle of the TV as he approaches, the daytime drama spitting out declarations of love and bitter arguments.

 

Hoseok is lounging lazily on the sofa, one leg hanging limply off the side and a mug of coffee perched on his chest. His eyes flicker up when Jimin rounds the corner, staggering slowly like a braindead zombie and bypassing the sofa completely, without acknowledging Hoseok. He sits up, eyes sparkling with mischief as he peers over the sofa and makes eye contact with the suffering Jimin. “Good morning, sunshine!”

 

Jimin glares at the seemingly unaffected asshole through narrowed eyes, nursing the glass of water tenderly against his chest. “I hate you.”

 

Hoseok sits up on his knees, face cradled by his hands on the back of the sofa. “No you don’t, Jiminnie.”

 

Jimin takes another sip of water, wetting his mouth before sneering half-heartedly at the other. “I hate you with the passion of a thousand burning suns.”

 

Hoseok snorts at the analogy, standing and making his way towards the grumpy boy. He pulls Jimin away from the counter, carefully wrapping his arms around the boy’s firm waist and playfully nipping at his neck. “Come on, don’t be like that.”

 

Jimin places the glass onto the counter behind him, reaching up and looping his arms around Hoseok’s neck, nuzzling into the warmth of his neck. “What do I get if I forgive you?”

 

Hoseok hums, fingers stroking languidly through Jimin’s hair and rubbing soothing circles into the small of his back. “How about a massage later?”

 

Jimin lets out a guttural moan at the suggestion, muscles tingling in excitement at the promise of relief. “With an offer like that, who am I to refuse?”

 

Hoseok smirks, lips trailing along Jimin’s jawline before pressing a chaste kiss to his cheek. “Who knows… there may even be a happy ending to the massage if you’re lucky?”

 

Jimin snorts in amusement, pressing lazy kisses along the slope of Hoseok’s neck as his fingers tangle in the fabric of Hoseok’s shirt. “I’m going to hold you to that.”

 

Hosoek pulls away slightly, laughing softly at the small pout that Jimin gives him and gestures to a small box by the sink. “Yoongi got some Panadol out for you, said to make you take it before you get too grumpy.”

 

Jimin shuffles over to the small box, picking up the note that’s sitting on top of it as Hoseok makes his way back over to the sofa.

 

Morning, party monster! Hope you’re feeling alright this morning. Take some Panadol and have something to eat, it’ll make you feel better.

Love you,

Yoongi~’

 

Jimin smiles down at the note lovingly, heart swelling at his boyfriend’s caring words as he takes two tablets from the packet.

 

There’s not much food in the fridge, his eyes scanning over the limp vegetables and almost out-of-date milk before deciding to go grocery shopping when his head isn’t pounding. He pulls out one of Jin’s pre-made meals from the freezer, sticking the glass container into the microwave and leaning against the counter as he waits for the food to heat up. The spicy aroma of satay chicken permeates the kitchen, making his mouth water in anticipation and his stomach grumble loudly in demand.

 

He wraps the hot container in a kitchen cloth and takes it into the lounge room, falling onto the sofa and curling up against Hoseok’s side. “Where is Yoongi anyway?”

 

Hoseok automatically wraps an arm around Jimin’s shoulders, nose nudging softly at his temple. “Said he needed to go to the studio. Apparently seeing you passed out drunk and drooling gave him a spark of inspiration this morning.”

 

Jimin smacks Hoseok on the cheek playfully with the flat of his clean spoon, eyes glaring at him again. “Don’t be a dick.”

 

Hoseok barks out a laugh, arm tightening around Jimin as his eyes trail back to the TV. They sit in silence, basking in each other’s company and half watching an over dramatic melodrama about flower boys. Hoseok manages to coerce Jimin into feeding him some of Jin’s satay, peppering kisses against Jimin’s cheek in thanks after every bite.

 

Jimin’s brain has thankfully stopped throbbing by the time he’s finished eating, stomach full and settled after the hearty meal. “Did Yoongi say when he’ll be back?”

 

Hoseok shakes his head, lips quirking up in a small smile. “He only said that he’d be back before dinner. Why?”

 

Jimin glances away, lip worrying at his bottom lip as he shrugs off the question. “No reason.”

 

Hoseok’s brow furrows at the nonchalant answer, fingers lifting Jimin’s chin so their eyes meet again. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

 

Jimin’s eyes dart around nervously, fingers tangling in worry. “I just… I just wanted to go for a shower… I prefer having someone else in there with me.”

 

Hoseok leans back, mind travelling back to all the times Jimin had gone for a shower and realising that every single time, Yoongi had gone with him. “I can shower with you if you’d like?”

 

Jimin tenses in Hoseok’s arms and he mentally chastises himself for crossing boundaries. He shouldn’t have said anything. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean… Yoongi might not be OK with it.”

 

Jimin presses a hand against Hoseok’s blushing cheek, thumb caressing at the heated skin. “Yoongi will be fine with it, trust me. But you… you want to shower with me?”

 

A small smile plays on Hoseok’s lips, nodding softly in Jimin’s hold. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

 

Jimin beams a smile at Hoseok, jumping to his feet and dragging Hoseok into the bedroom. He pulls a couple of fresh towels out of the dresser before pulling the alcohol-reeking clothes off of his body. Hoseok’s eyes rake over Jimin’s nude form as he removes his own clothes, awestricken every time he sees the boy’s perfectly defined body and the coiling of muscles. Jimin leans into the shower, turning on the handle and letting the water heat up as he hangs their towels up.

 

Hoseok picks up their discarded clothing, turning to throw them in a pile by the toilet when he notices a small sheet draped over the mirror, blocking it from view. His brows furrow in confusion as Jimin pulls the fabric away without a word, folding it roughly and shoving the fabric in the cupboard underneath the sink. A steady rise of steam swirls against the ceiling and is already condensing against the exposed mirror, the small bathroom fan not doing much to clear the air.

 

Hoseok is lost in thought when he feels fingers entwine with his own, tugging him towards the shower gently.

 

Hoseok notices the slight hesitation on Jimin’s face as he stares into the shower, his eyes watching the heavy stream of water warily. Hoseok wraps an arm around his waist, pressing a kiss to the back of his neck. “After you.”

 

Jimin’s head jerks in a nod, tentatively stepping into the small cubicle and moving slowly enough that Hoseok can step in without removing his arms from Jimin’s body. “Can you do me a favour? Can you not let go of me while we’re in here?”

 

Hoseok nods, unsure as to why, but happily obliging to Jimin’s request, his arms tightening around Jimin’s waist as he leads him underneath the hot spray of water. He hesitates for a moment when he feels Jimin’s body tense suddenly at the contact with the water, but after a minute his body relaxes a little. Hoseok’s arms loosen slightly to allow him to move around in his hold.

 

Jimin moans in delight as the hot water beats down on his sore muscles, relaxing his tense body almost immediately. Hoseok smiles softly, manoeuvring them both so it’s a bit more comfortable in the small space of the single person shower, Jimin standing under the spray and Hoseok by the glass panelling. He stares as rivulets of water trail over Jimin’s closed eyes and streak across the plump of his cheeks, dripping off the sharp edge of his jaw.

 

Hoseok tentatively presses a kiss to Jimin’s pink lips, head dipping underneath spray as arms circle his neck. Jimin’s fingers trail down Hoseok’s chest, pressing and pinching softly at the hardened nubs of his nipples. Hoseok sucks in a small breath at Jimin’s travelling hands, arousal growing as steam swirls around them and caresses his skin. Jimin’s tongue stripes across his collarbone, hand reaching down towards Hoseok’s semi-hard cock.

 

Hoseok catches his hand before it reaches its destination, fingers entwining. “Hey. We’ll have plenty of time to do that later, when Yoongi gets home. Let’s just focus on you at the moment.”

 

Jimin’s eyes soften at Hoseok’s words, his thumb brushing over Hoseok’s white knuckles. “You do know that Yoongi doesn’t need to be here every time we mess around, nor do I have to be there if you and Yoongi decide to have some fun.”

 

Hoseok bites down on his lip at the statement of permission, confusion marring his features. “But that is the arrangement, what we agreed on, that I share your bed with the both of you.”

 

Jimin grabs the soap from the small holder and lathers it between his hands, running them tenderly down Hoseok’s neck and shoulders. “Yes. That is the agreement, but there are three people involved and it’s not fair if Yoongi and I make all the rules. Hobi, if you want to try something new, let us know. If you want to spend time with just one of us, just tell us and we’ll make it work. It’s only if you play favourites that we’ll have a problem.”

 

Hoseok nods and thinks over Jimin’s words, thinks over all the possibilities but also all the things that can go wrong as Jimin’s hands delicately wash his body.

 

‘What if things get too deep? I don’t want there to be any jealousy or cause any problems for their relationship, it’s… I’m not worth it.’

 

They remain silent, Hoseok returning the favour and washing Jimin’s body gently and revelling in the soft purring noises that Jimin makes when his fingers dig into a particularly tense muscle.

 

He makes a quick job out of washing Jimin’s hair, trying to get it done while the water is still hot before turning so his body is under the cooling water. Jimin gives him a small, thankful smile and lathers shampoo into his hair, scratching lightly at his scalp and making shapes with his hair.

 

Jimin snorts as he directs the soapy tassels forward, stroking them into a pointed shape that Hoseok can see above his head. “Look, it’s a gay unicorn.”

 

Hoseok snorts, dipping his head back into the lukewarm stream of water to rinse out the soapy suds. “Out of all things. Why would you say that?”

 

Jimin smiles to himself fondly, squirting some conditioner onto his palm before reaching towards Hoseok’s hair once again. “It’s just something Tae said once.”

 

Hoseok closes his eyes and relaxes as fingers card through his hair. “Yeah. Definitely sounds like something Tae would say.”

 

He’s rinsing out the last streak of conditioner from his hair when they hear a deep groan and rumble travelling down the wall. Hoseok looks up in confusion as Jimin’s eyes widen, shoving open the shower door and yanking a surprised Hoseok out. It’s not quick enough to completely escape it though, a stream of icy cold water hitting Hoseok’s ass and the backs of his legs, making him hiss. They almost slip over on the wet floor, Hoseok’s arms flailing out and grabbing the doorframe before they fall.

 

Hoseok looks down at the wide-eyed Jimin in his arms, laugh bubbling and spilling over their lips in unison. “What was that?”

 

Jimin wipes away a tear that slips from the corner of his eye with the back of his hand, standing and wrapping a towel around Hoseok’s dripping frame. “The apartment above us flushed the toilet.”

 

Another round of giggles spill from Hoseok’s lips at the ridiculous situation, tears gathering in his eyes from the force of his laughter. He doesn’t know how long it’s been since he’s laughed like this, carefree and just generally being happy. He reaches into the shower, shutting off the icy flow of water before rustling his hair with the towel.

 

He looks up when fingers pinch at the hair dangling into his eyes, pushing them up to reveal his eyebrows. “You really need a haircut. Like, it was long when we met but this is just ridiculous. How do you even see?”

 

Hoseok gives Jimin a sheepish grin, towel falling down to hang around his neck. “I don’t really have the money to get it cut at the moment.”

 

Jimin pats at the tousled hair, letting Hoseok reach around for his towel and dry Jimin’s back in long strokes. “I could cut it for you if you’d like. I can’t do anything fancy, but I can do basic trims. I do Yoongi’s hair all the time.”

 

Hoseok’s hands freeze, eyes coming up to Jimin’s with a soft gaze. “I would like that. Thank you.”

 

Jimin smirks before pinching at the soft flesh of Hoseok’s ass cheek, making him jump in surprise. “Come on then. Put some clean clothes on and I’ll get the stuff ready.”

 

 

*~*~*

 

 

Yoongi fumbles with the keys in his hands, searching for the apartment door key. He doesn’t even know what the other keys are for to be honest, but he’s too lazy to try and figure it out. He kicks off his shoes to look around the semi-dark apartment. None of the lights are on in the lounge room. He shrugs off his heavy raincoat and hangs it by the door to dry out, water dripping off into a small bucket.

 

The sun is beginning to set but is hidden by the dense clouds that line the sky, casting shadows across Seoul. He wanted to stay in bed today and just cuddle with Jimin, possibly invite Hoseok in if they all weren’t too hungover, but he woke up with a spark, an inkling of inspiration that only comes around every so often. So he left for the studio, trying to capture lyrics and compose before the feeling left him.

 

He shuffles into the lounge room, flicking on the small floor lamp situated beside the TV to envelop the room in a warm, yellow glow. He drops his keys into the small bowl on the coffee table, carrying the dishes into the kitchen and tries to wash them in the sink, but the water doesn’t become hot. His eyebrows furrow in confusion. He only had a brief shower this morning and unless Hoseok has had a super long shower he can’t think of a reason why there is no more hot water.

 

He freezes, ideas slinking into his head. Unless… unless Jimin had taken a shower with Hoseok. The thought makes Yoongi’s heart clench in both happiness and dread. Jimin, who usually can’t take a shower without clinging to Yoongi, has found someone else that he trusts enough to shower with. And while this is an enormous step for Jimin, Yoongi can’t help the bitterness that plagues his thoughts.

 

‘Look at that. You’re being replaced. What did we say?’

 

‘No, you’re wrong.’

 

‘Don’t hold your breath. Time will tell.’

 

His fingers clench against the tap as he shuts off the cold water, leaving the dishes until the hot water returns tomorrow. He dries his hands on the kitchen cloth, flicking off the light and going to look for the duo. He can hear soft laughs travel down the small hallway as he gets closer to his room, light spilling out from underneath the door.

 

He pushes the door open softly, heading towards the bathroom and peering in. His heart stutters at the sight, soft snipping noises echoing in the bathroom as Jimin cuts Hoseok’s hair.

 

He leans against the doorframe, watching the duo in silence for a moment. “Don’t fuck it up, Jimin. Don’t want to mess up pretty boy’s hair.”

 

Jimin jumps at the sudden voice, placing the scissors down before wrapping an arm around Yoongi’s thin waist. He presses a deep kiss to his lips. “Hey, gorgeous. How was today? Did you get some stuff done?”

 

Yoongi nods jerkily against Jimin’s cheek, nose sliding down to nuzzle at his neck. “I got the two songs I’ve been working on done. I sent it in and the company said that it’s some of my best work and they’ll be anticipating my next song.”

 

Jimin pulls back, squishing Yoongi’s cheeks between his palms and yelling out incomprehensible noises in excitement. Yoongi reaches up and cups Jimin’s hand with his own. “Looks like your drunk face is a good point for inspiration.”

 

Jimin pouts and slaps at Yoongi’s arm playfully, turning around and picking up the scissors before returning to Hoseok, who is waiting for him patiently. “No, but really, Yoongi. I’m proud of you. Let me listen to it later?”

 

Yoongi hums in agreement, eyes drifting over and catching his reflection in the exposed mirror. Jimin doesn’t notice the way Yoongi’s body tenses, fully concentrating on Hoseok’s hair, but Hoseok sees it, sees the way his eyes lose focus as he stares at himself in the mirror. He reaches up and pats Jimin’s hand, pointing towards Yoongi’s reflection once he’s gotten the boy’s attention. Jimin’s lips turn down into a scowl, wrinkles forming between his eyes as he frowns.

 

Hoseok watches quietly as Jimin gently reaches out to rub at Yoongi’s bicep, shaking him to pull him from his thoughts. Yoongi’s eyes come into focus again, his gaze darting away from the mirror and staring down at the floor. “I’m really tired. I’m just going to lay down for a while.”

 

Hoseok sends Jimin a questioning and slightly panicked look in the mirror, glancing up to meet his pitiful eyes.

 

Jimin only nods softly, biting down on his lip as he finishes up on Hoseok’s hair, making the last couple of snips. “It’s fine. We’re done. What do you think?”

 

Hoseok eyes soften, questions bubbling in his mind but he lets it go, not wanting to upset Jimin further. His eyes travel over his neatly trimmed reflection, soft laugh spilling from his lips. “My eyebrows! I almost forgot what they looked like. Good job, Jiminnie.”

 

An exaggerated smile stretches across Jimin’s face. “I’m awesome. I know.”

 

Hoseok stands, collecting hairs to puddle at the base of his cape so he can toss the clippings into the bin. Jimin’s sweeps up and packs away the hair kit, pushing the chair into the corner of the cramped bathroom so it’s somewhat out of the way.

 

The duo linger in the bathroom awkwardly for a moment, Hoseok seeing Yoongi’s form tucked under the doona on the bed. “I’m going to the sofa. I guess I’ll see you guys tomorrow?”

 

Jimin hesitates, chewing on his bottom lip in deliberation before shaking his head. He grabs Hoseok’s hand, pulling him towards the bed and gesturing him to slip in beside Yoongi. He walks around the double bed and lifts the doona, making a ‘scoot over’ motion with his hand before slipping in beside his boyfriend, who is now firmly pressed in between Hoseok and Jimin.

 

He cards a hand through Yoongi’s slightly rain dampened hair, coming down to rest soothingly on his neck. Hoseok’s hand tentatively rests on Yoongi’s hip, thumb rubbing circles against the cold skin and his nose burrowing into the soft hair on the back of Yoongi’s head.

 

The older boy takes a shaky breath, body curling slightly at the comfort that Hoseok and Jimin are providing as his eyes slip shut. It doesn’t take long for the trio to drift off to sleep, lulled by the soft inhale and exhale of their combined breaths.

 

 

*~*~*

 

 

 

Hoseok regrets it, he shouldn’t have fallen asleep so early.

 

He glares up at the glowing numbers of 5:45am on the bedside clock, fully awake and with nothing to do besides stare down at the sleeping couple beside him. He lays there for an hour, listening to soft songs of the morning birds as they sing to the rising sun, eyes tracing over every feature of the couples’ faces. This is the first time he’s slept in their bed without having actually slept with them the night before. He threads his fingers through Yoongi’s platinum hair, suspiciously soft for the amount of bleach treatments needed for the colour. 

 

He hears a soft sigh, drawing his gaze up to find Jimin’s staring at him through half lidded eyes. “Morning.”

 

He smiles softly, nodding his head and murmuring a gentle ‘good morning’ in return.

Jimin moves in his spot, in what Hoseok assumes is an attempt to roll over and check the time, but misjudges the space he has on the edge of the bed. He tumbles onto the floor with a heavy and loud thud, making Yoongi startle awake at the sudden noise. He peers over his shoulder at Hoseok blearily, who is holding in a laugh, before flailing and wriggling over to the edge of the bed. 

 

He rests his chin on the mattress as he grins down at a fuming Jimin, hand waving lazily at his boyfriend. “Minnie… you don’t know how long I’ve waited for you to fall in love with me.”

 

Jimin snorts loudly at the lame pun, grinning up at his nerdy partner as he rubs the back of his tender head. “I swear to god, Yoongi. It’s too early for your bullshit. Also we are saving up and buying a bigger bed. Especially if Hoseok is going to stay with us, I don’t care what you say.”

 

Yoongi smiles softly, head lolling to one side as he extends an arm, offering a helping hand to Jimin. “Alright. Whatever you want, sweetie pie. Now hurry up and get back up here so we can all cuddle.”

 

Jimin eyes crinkle up and grips the offered hand softly, jumping back onto the bed and rolled so he’s in the middle.

 

They don’t get out of bed until the sun is shining brightly in the middle of the sky.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

 

The overhead fluorescent light flickers sporadically and makes his eye twitch. The light, along with the stingy atmosphere of the relatively deserted diner, is beginning to induce a headache that pounds relentlessly against his temple. His eyes continue to glance over at the entrance, his fingers thrumming against the surface of the linoleum tabletop as he contemplates bailing. Coming early probably wasn’t the best decision he’s ever made, because it’s left room for him to consider backing out of the deal. The waitress has come by his table three times to ask if he’s ready to order, and every time she leaves with a scowl because he’s told her he can’t decide what he wants. Which, evidently, isn’t the case.

 

He had talked to the man over the phone the day before, having snagged his number from a friend with extensive contacts. His fingers had been trembling as he’d dialed the number; his breath shaky as he’d held the phone against his ear. But against all odds, he had managed to get through the conversation quite well. They arranged a time and a meeting place and now here he is, pondering.

 

He shouldn’t be here, associating himself with the wrong kind of crowd, but he can’t help but think he doesn’t have much of a choice by this point. The lousy pay at the fast food joint is mediocre at best, and with him still trapped in high school, he has very few skills handy to land him a decent paying job.

 

His jaw clenches and he ruffles his hair in frustration, once again glancing at the entrance to the diner. This is a bad idea. He should just leave before he shows up.

 

Just as he’s about to slide out of the booth the bell chimes. Without looking, Namjoon suspects immediately that it’s the man he’s been waiting to meet, and calmly settles back down in his seat, relaxing with a soft sigh in an attempt to slow his heart rate. He hears the thudding of footsteps, steady and deliberate, as they make their way towards him – only, it’s quite distinct that there are two pairs of shoes, not one, as he had been expecting.

 

He remains steeled and unfazed as two men slide into the seats opposite him, their faces cold and their eyes even colder. They’re younger than he was expecting – perhaps just embarking into their early twenties, with tattoos up and down their arms and outrageously bleached hair that Namjoon – admittedly, kind of likes. They have piercings up and down their ears, and smoky eyes that make them look menacing. Namjoon inwardly congratulates himself on maintaining a straight face.

 

“Namjoon?” the man on the left asks, his ripped denim jacket rolled up to his sleeves and arguably the more vicious-looking.

 

“Yes,” is all he can manage to say, regarding them both with a semi-bow. “Thank you for meeting with me.”

 

The same guy waves the formalities off with a ringed hand before pointed towards his companion. “This is Yukwon, my right-hand man.” The man with the impressive side-sweep nods his head, composed and calculating. “And I’m Zico.” He doesn’t reach over the table to shake his hand, not that Namjoon is expecting him to.

 

Zico then leans forward, hands clasped in front of him, looking suddenly interested. “What’s your situation.”

 

“Uh well – I’m a highschool student – ”

 

“No, no,” Yukwon rolls his eyes petulantly, “I didn’t ask for your life story. Yukwon – did I ask for his life story?”

 

“You didn’t ask for his life story.”

 

“I didn’t ask for your life story.” His licks his lips, appraising Namjoon critically. Well this is worse than any spelling bee he’s had to participate in. “Why did you contact us? What’s the reason? You look well dressed and well fed – you ain’t got no bruises so your folks aren’t beating you. Why did you call me, huh? Is this some dropkick attempt to prove you're a man? ‘Cuz I gotta tell ya, this shit ain’t some casual-ass job your eomma gave you at the deli down the street.”

 

“No. No – I,” he pauses to collect himself, gulping. “My parents own a gas station just outside of town. It hasn’t been getting a lot of business, and I heard they might be selling it along with our family home… I need a job to help them stay in the city. It’d be a real inconvenience for my family if we had to move.”

 

Zico picks at his teeth with the long nail of his pinky finger, tsking condescendingly under his breath. “Hm. Financial trouble. Drives you to do crazy shit, doesn’t it?”

 

“I-it’s why I’m here. It’s why I want to work for you.” Namjoon hopes he doesn’t sounds quite as desperate as he thinks he does.

 

Zico and his right-hand man share a glance before Zico sits back, his hands still clasped together on the table. “This gas station – your parents run it?”

 

“No, they have to work. They employ two people – and sometimes myself, to manage and maintain the place.”

 

“Where is it located?”

 

“Just outside Jangam.” Zico and Yukwon share another glance and Namjoon is starting to get uncomfortable.

 

“That’s pretty close to Yangju,” Yukwon mutters. Namjoon doesn’t understand what Yangju has to do with anything, but Zico gives an understanding nod before sliding his gaze back to the high school student.

 

“Listen kid,” Zico claps his hands together. “We’ll let you work for us – but only under the condition that you let us manage the gas station. Make something up for your folks so that the current people you employ are no longer needed, and we’ll deal with the rest.”

 

“Fine,” he answers hastily, straightening in his seat. “When will I start selling the stuff?”

 

Zico and Yukwon simultaneously chuckle, and Namjoon is left lost and confused. “I like your enthusiasm kid. Tell ya what – if you can prove to us in the next year that you’re loyal and trustworthy, I’ll invite you into our gang. Once you’re apart of the gang – you start making the real doe.” Zico makes a money gesture with his thumb and forefinger, his lips twisted into an unsettling smirk.

 

Namjoon’s coils his hands into fists in his lap, stiffening his lip with strong conviction. “I’ll do whatever it takes. I will gain your trust.”

 

Zico looks pleased. “’Atta boy.”

 

*~*~*

 

Jungkook casts his eyes towards the horizon and admires the sun setting over the buildings of Seoul. The night chill hits his face as he steps out of the revolving doors, his mitten-clad hands instinctively sliding into the pockets of his jacket. Taehyung is a foot in front of him, adjusting the rim of his woolen scarf. He has a slight skip to his step, alluding to an excitement that he’s barely containing. Jungkook finds it adorable, especially when the warm glow of the setting sun hits his wisteria mop of hair and makes him look almost angelic.

 

Taehyung looks back at him with his handsome rectangular grin and his heart flutters. His boyfriend offers him one of his gloved hands and Jungkook dutifully accepts it, smiling shyly up through his lashes.

 

Taehyung has guided them halfway across the deserted street when Jungkook suddenly stops, causing Taehyung to halt and look back at him questioningly.

 

“What’s up?” Jungkook doesn’t answer him at first, his eyebrows knitting together in a frown. He starts feeling around his pockets and patting down his pants, becoming more frustrated with each passing moment. Taehyung cautiously moves them onto the sidewalk as a speeding motorcycle approaches, waiting patiently for Jungkook to answer his query.

 

“It’s not here,” the younger mutters, finally looking up at his boyfriend with a slight pout.

 

“What?” Taehyung blinks.

 

“My phone – I think I left it at home.” His eyes quickly divert to their apartment complex just across the street, his youthful features marred with worry. Taehyung shrugs and pats the top of Jungkook’s head affectionately, once again seizing the boy’s hand in his grasp.

 

“We’re only going to go check out the park, Kookie. And – if anything happens – I have my phone to contact Jin.” As if to prove himself, Taehyung reaches into his pocket and presents his phone, shaking it slightly for comedic emphasis.

 

Jungkook bites his bottom lip and glances back at the complex, still looking apprehensive. He’s never been one to deny though, and with the way Taehyung is expectantly regarding him, who is he to say no? Slowly, he nods his head. Taehyung’s grin is as bright as the dwindling sun as he tugs Jungkook along, bouncing flamboyantly as he walks.

 

“And so the adventures of Taetae and Kookie continue!” Taehyung narrates in a cheesy voice that reminds him of a documentary from the 30s. “Ugh – it feels so good to be able to go out by ourselves! Mama couldn’t tie us down forever!”

 

Jungkook smiles softly. It’s true; Jin had been quite protective of them. It’s the first time they’ve left the apartment – just the two of them – since they officially became apart of Jin’s welcoming household, with no dorky Namjoon to supervise them. Although they love Jin and Namjoon to bits, the coddling can get a little agitating, especially now that they’re dating. It feels like nighttime is the only time they ever get to have some quality time with one another, where they get to talk and communicate on a level more intimate than simple friendship.

 

Their somewhat adoptive parents haven’t been officially informed of their relationship yet. Taehyung has been keeping the PDA to a bare minimum in front of the others – Jin in particular, for reasons Jungkook is too afraid to question. Without a doubt, he knows Jin suspects something between them. He hasn’t touched his bed in a week. It has become habit to just join Taehyung in his bed instead of trying to sleep by himself, and it’s likely Jin is wondering why Jungkook’s bed has remained untouched. He tries not to think about it too much though. He couldn’t bare the thought of Jin’s disapproval, not when he’s started to think so highly of him.

 

Seokjin has become an inspiration to Jungkook. He’s strong and intelligent, but he has the sweetness of a provider and the nurturing hands of a doting mother. He’s become a replacement for the estranged mother he hasn’t seen nor heard from for years. So he’d hate it if Jin didn’t approve of his relationship with Taehyung – he would consider it the emotional equivalent of his real mother’s disapproval.

 

His hand feels warm and safe enveloped in Taehyung’s. Even though he’s out in public, even though he hates being outside and exposed, he feels nothing but security when Taehyung is with him. Taehyung is like a lighthouse out in the middle of a black ocean, guiding him protectively through a sinister abyss. The twinkle in his eyes and the flash of his gorgeous smile remind him of the stars, and he likens to the idea that one day they can lie down and gaze upon the night sky. It would be nice to do something like that – Taehyung would chatter away about something, and Jungkook would listen and give the occasional input. And Taehyung will keep him warm, even if it’s cold outside. Just like he is right now.

 

It doesn’t take long for them to find the park that can be spotted from Taehyung’s bathroom window. It isn’t big – the parks never are in the centre of Seoul, not with the limited spacing their capital provides. There’s a baseball pitch that can be seen on the other side, and beside it, a middle school – from the looks of it. The park is surrounded by a perimeter of trees that stand tall and leafless in a straight line, autumn having ravaged its summer vibrancy and scattered it orange and brown across the beaten walkways. The grass is crunchy under their feet but neither of them care all that much.

 

Taehyung swings their arms as he urges Jungkook over to the swings, his free hand latching onto one of the chains with a stupid grin. “Kookie, sit down! I’ll push you!”

 

“Hyung this is so cheesy. You have got to stop watching those dramas.” He rolls his eyes and crosses his arms over his chest. He pins Taehyung with a defiant look that lasts all but ten seconds before Taehyung wiggles his eyebrows, patting at the seat of the swing enthusiastically. And like that, his resolve crumbles.

 

“Fine,” he grumbles as he sits down on the swing. Taehyung squeezes his shoulders and kisses the top of his head sweetly before giving him a gentle push.

 

“Don’t worry, Kookie! I’ll never let you fall!”

 

“Stop it you’re so embarrassing!”

 

 

*~*~*

 

“What’s that noise?”

 

Namjoon perks up from his spot on the couch, glancing over his shoulder to find Jin standing in the arched entrance of the kitchen, clad in his frilly pink apron and a spatula in his hand. His handsome features are scrunched slightly in concentration, his eyes gazing off into the distance. He absently turns back to the glow of his computer screen, frowning to himself.

 

“I heard it before,” he tells Jin, tapping away at the keyboard with slight frustration. “I think it might be Jungkook’s phone.” It’d be hard not to recognize the Avengers’ theme song blaring from the dark hallway. It’s been going off continuously for more than two minutes now.

 

Jin’s eyes narrow suspiciously. “Who would be calling Jungkookie at this time? Don’t people know it’s rude to call when dinner's almost ready? There’s no time for silly chit-chats!” Jin huffs and vanishes back into the kitchen, despite the concerned undertone in his voice.

 

Namjoon inwardly asks the same question, no longer paying attention to what he’s typing on the screen. There’s only a handful of people who would call Jungkook. It can’t be Jin or himself, and Jungkook is out with Taehyung, so who the hell is calling Jungkook – and so persistently at that? Any normal person would have given up by now and stopped trying, but Namjoon has heard the Avengers’ theme song playing on repeat at least three times over by now.

 

The dull commotion from the hallway abruptly cuts off, leaving the apartment to once again settle into relative silence. Namjoon sighs with relief, easing back against the cushions. It’s rare to get any peace around here since the kids moved in. Jungkook is fine – more than fine, he’s quieter than a church mouse on a Monday evening, but Taehyung is another story. He has the quirkiness to compensate for Jungkook’s reservation. He’s the kind of idiot that’ll make noise for the sake of it, slapping the palms of his hands against walls and flat surfaces just to fill the silence, and crow siren noises just to see if the neighbors downstairs can hear him. They can’t, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.

 

Jungkook is a blessing to live with. He’s not too loud, he’s always obedient and respectful, and above all he hates to intrude. It’s endearing and adorable, and both Jin and himself have grown to be overly fond and protective of him.

 

Although, that being said, the kid has been acting a little strangely around him lately. Jungkook doesn’t meet his eyes when he’s talking to him, at least less so than usual. Whenever the four of them are sitting together, whether at the dining table or on the couches, Jungkook sits furthest away from him. He flinches when Namjoon tries to touch him, he cowers when Namjoon tries to approach him, but he wouldn’t dream of confronting Jungkook about it. He’s too fragile.

 

When Taehyung had finally convinced Jin to let him take Jungkook to the park nearby, Namjoon had mentally cried out with relief. The kids have been driving him nuts. He adores Taehyung – he well and truly does, but sometimes he just wants to strangle the stupidity out of him. Not to mention Jungkook’s apprehension is getting a little ridiculous. If this is God’s way of training them for future parenthood, then he’s made his damn point already. They’re not ready to have kids – not as long as housing Taehyung is a strenuous effort. At least, on his part it is. Jin, on the other hand, was born to be a parent. This shit just comes naturally to him. If anything goes wrong, Jin takes care of it without blinking an eye. Namjoon is convinced witchcraft is behind it, but he hasn’t found any physical evidence to confirm his suspicions – yet.

 

Just as he rolls up his sleeves and leans forward to continue working, the damn theme song blasts from the hallway again. His buries his face in his hands and groans loudly.

 

“Will you just go and answer it already?” Jin snaps irritably from the kitchen. Namjoon sighs.

 

He drags his feet down the dark hallway, not bothering to turn on the light as he trudges over to Jungkook’s door. He frowns; standing there in the doorway for a moment before he realizes the tune isn’t coming from Jungkook’s room. He turns around and frowns at Taehyung’s door, as though it had fabricated itself out of plain, thin air.

 

The ringtone is louder inside Taehyung’s room. It isn’t hard to locate the phone vibrating rhythmically atop the sock drawer, the music blaring and the home screen lit up. He glances briefly at the caller ID, frowning at the single syllable of ‘Yu’ glaring back at him.

 

Without giving it much thought, he swipes to answer, holding the phone up against his ear with an insult sizzling at the tip of his tongue. He is ready to let loose the verbal beating of a lifetime, but the words get caught in his throat when the caller immediately starts to talk.

 

“Baby.” His jaw slackens. It’s a man’s voice. “Why haven’t you been answering my calls, Jungkookie? Were you afraid I’d be mad at you?”

 

Where has he heard that voice before? He frowns.

 

“I’m not mad at you, baby. I’m so sorry for what happened before – I’ll never do it again.” The voice sounds faker than Barbie. His ear feels waxy just from listening to the guy’s pathetic excuse for an apology. The man pauses and waits for a reply, but since Namjoon is still caught up with trying to pinpoint where he’s heard the voice before, the man continues, “Didn’t you hear me? Yukwonnie is sorry, please forgive him.”

 

Yukwon.

 

His heart stops.

 

Kim Yukwon.

 

Oh God – oh please no. Please don’t let it be him.

 

“Jungkookie,” the man’s tone of voice takes a turn. It’s suddenly deep and sinister, a hiss of evil caution. “If you don’t come back to me, I’ll find you. I’ll find you and when I do – I swear I’ll beat you till your eyes bleed, Jeon Jungkook.”

 

Oh fuck it’s him.

 

It’s Kim fucking Yukwon.

 

He hangs up. He gapes at the phone as though he can’t believe what he just heard, greeted by the home screen background of Taehyung and Jungkook’s smiling faces. His feet seem to work on autopilot as they guide him back into the living room, the phone still clutched tightly in his grasp. His expression is blank as he slowly sinks back onto the couch, staring stoically at the glowing screen of his computer.

 

Jin pokes his head through the archway, this time without a spatula or any other cooking utensils in his grasp. “Honey…? Did you check to see who it was?” Namjoon doesn’t answer him, so he shuffles over to Namjoon and places a hand on his shoulder, sensing that something isn’t right. “Namjoonie…?”

 

It’s then he notices Namjoon’s hands are trembling.

 

“Yukwon,” his partner says suddenly, his voice rough and small.

 

“I’m sorry…?” he blinks in confusion.

 

“Kim Yukwon,” Namjoon repeats in a harsher tone, like the very name takes effort to force out. “That’s who Jungkook’s boyfriend was. It was him the whole fucking time and I didn’t even have a clue.”

 

“Yukwon,” Jin repeats thoughtfully, eyes upturned to the ceiling with his fingers rubbing his chin. “Why does that name sound so familiar?”

 

“It’s because he’s in Zico’s gang,” Namjoon growls, tossing the phone haphazardly onto the coffee table. “He’s Zico’s right-hand man – and he’s also an A-grade jackass. I just – I can’t believe it. Kim fucking Yukwon. Of all the people in fucking Seoul – ”

 

“Namjoon, calm down.”

 

“How can you ask that of me?” Namjoon suddenly turns around to meet Jin’s gaze, and Jin can see all the hatred and resentment burning like a cool fire within his pitch-black orbs. “You don’t know Yukwon like I do, Jin. He’s cruel and sadistic – he’s almost as bad as Zico, and only because I’ve seen Zico gun down a child!” Jin’s hand slips from Namjoon’s shoulder, wrapping them around himself with a sad expression.

 

“Namjoon,” he whispers softly, and Namjoon looks away, slightly ashamed that he had raised his voice.

 

He gets up from the couch, and for a brief, hopeful moment, Jin thinks Namjoon is going to embrace him and kiss him and tell him he’s sorry. But he doesn’t. He watches Namjoon disappear into the hallway, and he watches his lover leave with his lips downturned. Namjoon returns a moment later, the steel baseball bat they keep under the bed grasped in one hand, his car keys clutched in the other.

 

“Where are you going?” Jin asks, daring to reach out and seize Namjoon’s wrist, halting him from walking out the front door.

 

“Out.” Namjoon doesn't look back at him. He’s so stunned by the blunt answer that his hold falters, and Namjoon’s slips through his fingers.

 

The silver-haired man pauses just as he’s about to step out the front door, half-heartedly looking over his shoulder at Jin. “I’ll be back before dinner,” he mutters passively. He then closes the door, and the silence he leaves behind is deafening.

 

Jin rolls his eyes and huffs indignantly, feeling a slight sting that he doesn’t bother to acknowledge. He looks out the large, wall-length window. The sun can no longer be seen. He hopes his boys make it home safely before it gets too dark.

 

*~*~*

 

The city atmosphere is starting to come to life with the disappearance of the sun. It’s easy to tell as he burns down the freeway with his foot glued to the pedal. He weaves through traffic with carelessness that would could put Jimin to shame, and perhaps give Jin an early heart attack. The smooth jazz playing softly from the radio does little to calm his nerves as he grips the steering wheel. Hard. His knuckles are turning whiter than the rage brewing in the pit of his gut. It’s a miracle he hasn’t been pulled over by trafficking police yet, because he’s pretty certain he’s doing double the speed limit. Cars are honking at him, but they do nothing to stop him from cutting them off, and the beauty of Seoul’s urban life rushes past his window in a neon blur.

 

Before he knows it he’s at the other side of town – the kind of area he used to roam naively as a kid, the kind of neighborhood Taehyung used to scour in search of food, and apparently – the very neighborhood Jungkook had been living in previously. The steam rises from potholes in the ground and creates an urban scene ripped straight from the Batman comics. He barely misses a stray animal skittering across the road before he pulls up to the gutter, his tires screaming to a sudden stop.

 

He glances out the window at the stingy apartment complex across the street, and then slowly drags his eyes to the back seat, where he had unceremoniously thrown the baseball bat when he got into the car.

 

He pauses, wondering how he should go about this. But then he thinks of Jungkook – shy, sweet Jungkook – and any ounce of rationality he has left is catapulted through the windshield. He snatches the bat and gets out of his car, slamming the door with more force than necessary.

 

A few street wanderers loitering suspiciously outside the apartment complex scatter like rats as he approaches, his demeanor aggressive and malicious. The lights are irritable and florescent inside the building, and every crack and every kink in the tiled floors starts slowly bleeding back into his memories. There was a time when he used to come here for meetings. Yukwon, being the right-hand man, used to host gatherings for the members a lot of the time.

 

His lungs constrict painfully. If that was still the case when Jungkook was with Yukwon, there isn’t a doubt he would’ve met Zico and the others at some point.

 

He wants to pretend that Zico hasn’t hurt Jungkook and simply pin all the blame on Yukwon, but he has a tiny suspicion that it isn’t necessarily the case. Zico is like a cat. He tortures mice just to hear them squeal.

 

He reaches Yukwon’s apartment two floors up, the door a murky pale green with mould starting to fester at the bottom right-hand corner. The double-digit numbers sit just above the tiny peephole, once gleaming and silver now rusted into a coppery hue. Nothing has changed. It’s all the same from what it was like years ago. Yukwon hasn’t done shit to fix the damn door; he could only imagine the lack of maintenance inside.

 

He sidesteps out of the peephole’s peripheral and starts banging his fist against the wood. The walls are so thin he can hear Yukwon curse and shuffle around inside, the pads of his bare feet walking briskly towards the door.

 

Yukwon is smart enough not to immediately open the door.

 

“Who is it?” Yukwon calls out. Namjoon mentally rolls his eyes. Yukwon better hope what he says next works; otherwise he’s going to be kicking the goddamn door down with his foot.

 

“Monster,” he answers just loud enough to reach the other side of the door.

 

It works.

 

The door swings open and Yukwon immediately plants his hand on the doorframe, pulling a skeptical frown that mars his pretty-boy features. He’s gotten a new tattoo since Namjoon saw him last, a spider’s web that climbs up from the dip of his collarbones to span the column of his throat. His cross piercings swing with the rush of air, but his side swept tassels remain perfectly undisturbed. He’s wearing a singlet with coffee stains on the front, and ripped jeans that he’s probably worn four days in a row. Nothing else has really changed about him. He still has that obnoxious lip piercing, the tattooed sleeves that tell tales of death, pain and sin. Namjoon was hoping he’d never have to see his face again – not after he defected from the gang. He never thought he’d see the day where he’d be standing before Yukwon, at his crummy apartment, in this crummy area, willingly.

 

“And here I thought my ears deceived me,” Yukwon sneers, appraising Namjoon’s appearance with a critical gaze. “I see you’ve cleaned up. Word on the street is you found your ass a rich bitch. Tell me, what’s it feel like to drop your pants for a shiny penny?”

 

Namjoon’s free hand shoots out to fist the front of Yukwon’s tank top, shoving him backwards and up against the adjacent wall. He kicks the door shut with enough force to have it groaning on its hinges, but he’s satisfied so long as no one is around to witness what he’s about to do.

 

Yukwon doesn’t even bother to struggle. There’s an amused twitch on his lips, he knows he’s touched a nerve. Namjoon hates him. The bastard opens his mouth to probably make another petulant comment, but this time he doesn’t give Yukwon the satisfaction. He pulls back his hand and coils it into a fist, striking Yukwon’s jaw and sending him tumbling down onto his hands and knees. He kicks him in the stomach for good measure, watching him fall sideways before rolling onto his back.

 

Yukwon clutches his stomach, wheezing slightly from the pain. He doesn’t let it show on his face though, his brow scrunched and his glare resentful. “So,” he coughs harshly. “You finally put two and two together.”

 

“You’re sick,” Namjoon spits. Yukwon sneers, jerking away when Namjoon readjusts his grip on the baseball bat.

 

“Why the fuck are you giving me hell for it? It wasn’t my idea – it was Zico’s.” Namjoon expression falters before hardening, his features twisting into a scowl.

 

“Zico’s?” he breathes out in confusion.

 

“Well duh – I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the fucking gas station, it’s not even close to my area!”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

They stare at each other for a solid five seconds before Namjoon takes a step forward, roughly placing his foot on Yukwon’s stomach and holding the end of the bat against the other’s knee.

 

“Explain, or else I’m going to bust your knee cap,” Namjoon growls, his gaze hard and unyielding.

 

Yukwon puts his hands up in front of him in surrender. He knows Monster doesn’t play around. “Zico still uses your parents’ gas station to stash and sell the drugs. He’s been keeping it very low key so you wouldn’t get suspicious and start investigating.”

 

What!?” he yells, gritting his teeth so hard that his jaw hurt. “How long has this been fucking going on? I would’ve known there was a spike in my bills if it was still being used!”

 

Yukwon winces at the pressure being applied to his abdomen, licking his lips nervously. “Zico has been intercepting the bills so you wouldn’t find out – he’s been doing it ever since you left the gang and I swear I had nothing to do with the decision!”

 

Don’t fucking act like you're blameless!” He snaps.

 

“Well why the fuck are you here then? Huh? You should be all up in Zico’s ass not mine!” Yukwon has the audacity to yell at him, even when staring down the end of a baseball bat being held by a very dangerous and angered man.

 

For a single moment, Namjoon had forgotten why he came here in the first place, but Yukwon’s question elicits the memory of Jungkook in hospital, in bed with an oxygen mask on. He’s reminded of the bruises that were so large and dark, that just looking at them made him feel queasy. He’s reminded of all the times Jungkook would flinch when someone touched him, or how long it took before Jungkook would go off to the bathroom without asking permission beforehand. He’s come so far from when he first moved in with them, but he might never overcome his apprehension or his insecurity, he might always be a little broken – and he has Kim Yukwon to thank for that.

 

This coward. This pathetic excuse for a man.

 

He’s seen Yukwon do a lot of terrible things, but hurting Jungkook will be the biggest mistake he’ll ever make. He’ll make sure of it.

 

“Jeon Jungkook,” he breathes in a low voice, angling the baseball at Yukwon’s face. “That’s why I came here.”

 

“Jungkook?” Yukwon repeats incredulously. “The fuck? How the hell would you know Jungkook?”

 

“That’s for me to know, and for you to never find out,” he snaps indignantly. “You sick, twisted, cradle-robbing son of a bitch.”

 

“Why are you acting so surprised?” Yukwon asks bluntly, tilting his head to the side. “We’ve known each other for half a decade. Do you really think I was a saint?”

 

“No.” He swings the bat and strikes the side of Yukwon’s torso as hard as he can, a distinctive snap reaching his ears. Yukwon clutches his side and cries out a string of profanities, the pain finally showing itself on his expression. “I don’t know why, but I was under the impression you were at least above pedophilia.”

 

Despite the pain Yukwon throws his head back, barking out a laugh that rings bitterly in the air. “Pedophilia?” he chokes out. “Have you met the kid? He has the body of a man!”

 

“But the mind of a child!” Namjoon thunders, bringing down the bat once again, this time striking Yukwon’s collarbone.

 

“Ah fuck!” Yukwon screams, slapping a hand over his collarbone – his broken collarbone. “Fuck you! Fuck you and that little brat!”

 

Jungkook’s shy smile. He swings.

 

Jungkook’s large doe eyes. He swings again.

 

Jungkook’s laugh. He busts Yukwon’s left kneecap and crushes his sternum. He beats him with the bat until Yukwon’s is coughing blood and cackling hysterically through copper teeth.

 

“Hyung!”

 

He pulls back and hits Yukwon one last time in the stomach, watching as he doubles over as though a child is tickling him. It wouldn’t matter how vigorously he beat the man, Yukwon would still suffer through it with a maniacal grin. That’s the kind of psychopath he is, it’s the kind of personality that lands you as the right-hand man of a drug dealer with a soul as black as coal.

 

He steps back, baseball bat hanging loosely in his grip as he gazes upon the result of his anger, and all he sees is madness. The glimmer in Yukwon’s eyes is daring him to continue, to finish him off.

 

“What are you waiting for, Monster?” he mocks. “Aren’t you going to finish what you started? Aren’t you angry for what I did to poor, sweet little innocent Jungkookie?” Blood trickles down the side of his mouth and gathers at his chin, but his sinister gaze is as steady as a mountain.

 

“He’ll come back to me you know. You won’t be able to keep him from me forever.” He starts violently coughing, his blood getting splattered all over the wooden floorboards. “You watch – he’ll come crawling back on his hands and knees, begging me to take him back. He can’t live without me. He needs me.”

 

Something catches his eye as Yukwon rants, and he lifts his gaze to spot the leg of a stuffed animal peeking out from under the couch, a discoloured, baby blue that reminds him of a toddler. He steps over the bloodied dealer and slowly approaches the couch, his boots thudding loudly against the creaking floorboards. He crouches, reaching out to pull the toy out from under the couch. It’s an elephant, raggedy and mangy but still in tact after years of love and cuddles.

 

His heart sinks into his stomach as he turns it over in his hand to find stains, dried, dark - a sickening burgundy. He knows it belongs to Jungkook - he doesn’t have to check the small tag on its back leg where “Kookie” is written in messy hangeul. Yukwon doesn’t care for the sentiment of such things, and the fact that it hadn’t been thrown out by the cruel man yet comes as a surprise to Namjoon, but he sure is glad he found it.

 

Tucks the toy under his arm, willing his rage to settle before he does something outrageously stupid.

 

Namjoon turns his back on Yukwon, gripping the bat tightly. It’s taking everything in him not to beat him to death, to show him just how much of a monster he truly is.

 

But then he thinks of Jin. He thinks of Jin’s disappointed face. He thinks of the fear in Jungkook’s eyes. He knows he can’t stoop to that level again, not after he’s travelled so far down the road of redemption. If he’s ever going to make Jin proud, if he’s ever going to gain Jungkook’s trust as a friend, he knows he has to be stronger. The old him might have turned around and finished Yukwon off – given him what he deserves. But he knows it's not going to do any justice. Not for him, and certainly not for Jungkook.

 

“Tell Jungkook I’ll be waiting!” Yukwon yells after him, but Namjoon doesn’t so much as look back as he walks out the door. “Jungkook belongs to me and he always fucking will! You’ll never be able to save him, Monster! Not after how badly I broke him in!”

 

He slams the door behind him.

 

He cards his fingers through his hair as he jogs down the stairs, his breathing labored and his hands trembling. A lone tear escapes the corner of his eye and he quickly wipes it away. He’s devastated and furious all at the same time, the drum of his heart beating loudly in his ears as he exits the building. His shoulders are rigid, and it’s taking everything not to turn around, to march back inside. All the power is there, clutched in the palm of his hand, but he doesn’t use it – he can’t.

 

He throws the baseball bat and stuffed animal in the backseat.

 

Namjoon doesn’t immediately start the car when he gets in. He sits there in the darkness, staring out into the deserted street. If he hadn’t of left the gang, would their paths have crossed at some point? What would he have done, if he had known Yukwon was messing with a minor, abusing him and hurting him day in and day out? He would’ve seen the bruises on Jungkook – just like the ones he had seen in the hospital. He’d be shuffling around Yukwon’s apartment, Zico would be making obscene comments and Yukwon would be bossing Jungkook around like a dog.

 

What would he have done? What would he have said? Would he have intervened?

 

He knows the answer, and it makes him feel like shit. Because he knows if he had still been in the gang, if Jin hadn’t come into his life and saved him at the right time, he still would’ve been the obedient dirt bag that he was back then. He wouldn’t have raised a finger to stop the abuse; he wouldn’t have said a damn thing.

 

He would’ve let it happen.

 

He punches the wheel and accidentally sets off the horn. A nearby homeless woman pushing a shopping cart gets startled and skitters away. He hides his face in his hands, focusing on his breathing to try and slow down his heart rate. He glances at the dashboard and sighs, jamming his keys into the ignition.

 

Dinner would be almost ready. Jin will have a fit if he isn’t home in time.

 

*~*~*

 

It’s a relief to be home. He sighs contently as he kicks off his shoes, trailing after Taehyung as he races into the kitchen where the delicious smell is emitting. They were out for longer than anticipated. Who knew two young adults could find amusement from playing on playground equipment? By the time Jungkook suggested they return home, it was already dark and they could barely see if not for the streetlights that guided them back. Admittedly, Jungkook had been a little scared. Walking around the neighborhood he used to live in at night was a death wish.  There were lots of druggies out on the streets ready to gut anybody with a healthy kidney to sell – at least, that’s what Yukwon used to tell him. Taehyung had assured him that Jin’s neighborhood is safe, and that he was there to protect him if anything went wrong.

 

Jungkook had weakly argued he didn’t need protecting, but they both knew better. If a stranger came up to them with a knife and asked for his liver, Jungkook wouldn’t even question it.

 

Instead of following Taehyung into the kitchen, as tempting as the aroma is, he goes to his room to change into something more comfortable. Nowadays it’s so cold outside, he has to bury himself in layers upon layers of clothing to retain at least some of his natural body warmth. He can feel quite heavy once he’s ready to leave, so it’s a relief to finally come home and peel them all off.

 

He slips on a plain white shirt two sizes too big for him, and a pair of pajama pants that bundle slightly around his feet because they’re a little too long, but Jungkook likes them because they have rabbits on them. Jin isn’t strict about wearing pajamas at the dinner table; so getting changed so early shouldn’t be a problem.

 

After cleaning his face in Taehyung’s bathroom he shuffles back into the living room, only to pause by the hallway entrance when he spies Taehyung sitting on the couch, fiddling with his phone.

 

“Aigo Jungkookie,” Taehyung calls in a light tone of curiosity. “You have like, five missed called from someone by the name of ‘Yu’. What’s that about?” Jungkook’s heart slams against his chest and it’s suddenly hard to breathe. He leans against the wall, hit with a wave of nausea that he’s having trouble hiding. Thankfully, Taehyung doesn’t look up from the phone fast enough to see his reaction, still tinkering with the screen.

 

“I…” he panics when he realizes he doesn’t have an excuse. Taehyung looks up when he senses Jungkook’s hesitance, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.

 

There’s a clinking noise just before the front door opens, and Jungkook feels relief when Taehyung’s attention is averted. Namjoon walks through the front door, and suddenly Taehyung isn’t the person he’s afraid of anymore. The only clothes Namjoon is wearing is a pair of slacks and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and he can hardly believe the man dared to leave the building with so little protection from the cold. Then Jungkook’s eyes drop to what he’s holding in his grasp, and he takes an unconscious step back.

 

‘Is that a baseball bat?’

 

“Hey hyung!” Taehyung calls from the couch, flapping his hand cutely from side to side. “Where did you go?” The purple-haired boy pauses, squinting at Namjoon’s appearance. Instead of asking the obvious, like why he isn’t wearing a coat, or why he’s holding a baseball bat, Taehyung asks, “Is that blood?”

 

Jungkook hadn’t seen it at first, but upon a closer look, there is indeed blood on Namjoon’s collar. He stares, cold sweat breaking out on the back of his neck. His eyes flicker to Namjoon’s forearms where the gang tattoo can clearly be seen and his stomach does a summersault.

 

Namjoon doesn’t answer Taehyung as he takes off his shoes, but when he turns he looks straight at Jungkook. He feels his heart drop.

 

“Jungkook.” Namjoon’s voice is gravely serious, and he automatically assumes Namjoon is mad at him. “How come you still have your boyfriend’s number on your phone? I thought Taehyung told you to block him, remember?”

 

The air rushes from his lungs. He feels like he’s just been punched in the gut. “How did – how did you…?”

 

“Yukwon was calling you while you were gone,” Namjoon answers sharply, but when Jungkook flinches his eyes soften. “Jungkook – why did you keep him in your phone? He still has control over you if you allow him to contact you.”

 

“Wait – hold up!” Taehyung stands. Jungkook’s heart twists. Oh no. Oh no please – “You didn’t block him? ‘Yu’ as in Yukwon? The man who almost killed you?!” Taehyung takes a step forward and Jungkook can’t help but notice the tightness in his jaw, or the strain in his shoulders, or the way he’s gripping his phone. “I told you to block him Jungkook – why didn’t you?”

 

“I – ”

 

“Why do you still have him on your phone? Huh? Is it that you still have feelings for him? Are you still in love with him?!” Taehyung reaches out, probably to seize his wrist, but Jungkook flinches back so violently that he falls, hitting the hardwood with a loud thud. “Look at you!” Taehyung screams, his eyes glassy and desperate. “Look at what he’s done to you! How could you still keep him on your phone? How could you still let him contact you? I thought – I thought – ”

 

“H-hyung – ”

 

Taehyung throws Jungkook’s phone at his feet with such force that the shattering sound bounces off the walls and the ceiling. Jungkook screams and clutches his head, even though the phone didn’t land anywhere near him.

 

“Taehyung!” Namjoon yells, taking a step in their direction, but pauses when Taehyung clutches his head and turns his back on Jungkook, pacing across the room.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry – Taehyung I’m sorry!” Jungkook whimpers, tears cascading down his cheeks and running across the sharp angle of his jaw. But Taehyung isn’t listening. He’s inconsolable.

 

“I thought you moved on!” Taehyung yells, but it’s more like he’s screaming to himself than at Jungkook. He reaches the other side of the room, leaning against the wall as though it could carry all of his burdens and sorrows. “I thought you liked me – I thought you wanted to be with m-me.”

 

“I do – Taehyung I do!” Jungkook starts crawling forward on his hands and knees in Taehyung’s direction, reaching out for him like a child would to their mother. But then Taehyung strikes the wall with his fist, and Jungkook drops to the floor like he’s just been hit, coiling into a ball. Namjoon is at loss on who to approach first – Taehyung, who is clearly unstable, or Jungkook, who is falling apart.

 

Taehyung pulls his fist back again, and punches the same spot over and over and over again. Jungkook starts sobbing hysterically, and flinches every time Taehyung’s fist meets the wall. Namjoon makes the decision then to go to Jungkook first, gathering him into his arms even as the boy screams and begs Namjoon to let him go.

 

“What the fuck is going on here?” Taehyung and Namjoon freeze, snapping their heads up towards the entrance to the kitchen.

 

Jin stands there with his hands on his hips, his expression colder and harder than ice. His appraising eyes quickly sweep across the scene before him, and he’s able to understand the gist of what’s happened just from the giant hole in his wall. Taehyung is stunned, because he’s never heard Jin swear before – not in their four years of solid friendship. It seems unnatural for the words to leave his mouth, and yet he was able to single handedly catch every one of them off guard.

 

“Namjoon, take Jungkook to our room,” Jin commands calmly. Jungkook hasn’t even noticed Jin’s entrance, babbling incoherent nonsense that none of them can understand.

 

Namjoon nods dutifully before slotting his arm under Jungkook’s legs and picking him up princess-style. It doesn’t take an immense effort, since Jungkook is quite light, but he almost expects a struggle from the distressed teen. Jungkook, however, clutches at the front of his shirt and continues to sob. It’s like his emotional stability has completely crashed and he no longer knows how to function.

 

Jin watches Namjoon carry Jungkook out of the room, confident that his partner will be able to handle things on his end. His eyes slide to Taehyung, his eyes narrowing in disapproval.

 

“Are you happy?” His tone is drowning in disappointment. “Look at what you’ve done, Taehyung. Look at how much damage you’ve caused.”

 

The younger boy’s shoulders slump and he stares at the gaping hole in the wall, as though he’s only just processing that it’s there. He then looks at his fist, flexing his fingers as though he’s only just processing the pain. “I – I’m sorry hyung. I didn’t mean to punch a hole in your wall.”

 

“You silly child,” Jin shakes his head, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’m not talking about the hole. I’m talking about Jungkook.”

 

His eyes widen and he snaps his gaze up to Jin, his jaw slackening. “I- ”

 

“Wait here.” Jin doesn’t give Taehyung the chance to start pointlessly spitting out apologies, disappearing back into the kitchen.

 

He returns seconds later, an old green bucket in his grasp with what appears to be dried paint spilled over the side of it. It has tools peeking out, and Jin sets on the ground before picking out certain items and handing them to Taehyung to hold. The younger stands there awkwardly as Jin starts fixing up the wall with premixed putty from a tube, using a steel tool to smooth over the damage.

 

“Living with someone as clumsy as Namjoon has taught me a few tricks about damaged plaster,” Jin explains flippantly. “Actually, hiding it might cause more of an issue though – I’ll either have to hang up a picture frame or repaint the entire wall.”

 

“Hyung I’m sorry – ”

 

Jin waves him off. “Don't give me that. Please, spare me the bother.”

 

“But I am sorry!” Taehyung defends agitatedly.

 

“I know you are,” Jin answers calmly, still acutely focused on smoothing the putty. “But it’s not what I want to talk about right now.” Taehyung looks away, blushing shamefully. “I want to talk about how you behaved back there, in front of Jungkook. Do you think it achieved anything? Do you feel better after yelling at him?”

 

Taehyung gulps, his eyes wet with renewed tears. “No,” he says in a small voice, fearing that if he spoke any louder he might just break down too.

 

“I heard some of the things you said from the kitchen. You two… you’re more than just friends now, aren’t you?” he asks seriously, slowly averting his attention from the wall to Taehyung’s expression, his eyes demanding an honest response.

 

“Yes.”

 

“You really like him, don't you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You’re a good person, Taehyung. I know you’ve been promising Jungkook things, haven’t you?” Taehyung looks away. Jin knows he’s hit something a little too close to home. “You’ve promised to protect him? You’ve promised to help him? You have, haven’t you?”

 

“… Yes,” he says in little over a whisper.

 

“And what do you think you proved just then, when you lost control?” Taehyung can’t hold back the tears. They start to fall and make small stains on the front of his sweater. “You showed him a different side, Taehyung. You showed what happens when you get angry. You showed him that you’re capable of violence.”

 

“I didn’t hit him!” Taehyung cries, his fists shaking at his sides.

 

“But you didn’t have to, did you?”

 

Taehyung chokes and fists at his hair roughly. It all went wrong so quickly that he can’t even remember why he was angry anymore. He broke Jungkook’s phone, he made Jungkook cry, he punched a wall and he disappointed Jin. When had his rage gotten so out of hand? At what point was he capable of inflicting so much damage?

 

“If you’re going to be with Jungkook, if you’re serious about loving and protecting him, you can’t continue to let your emotions dictate you.” Jin tosses the tube and the spreading tool back into the bucket before turning to face Taehyung. He places a hand on the boy’s shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “You have to realize that he isn’t normal. You have to realize that being with him means taking certain things into consideration. You can’t afford to act this way in front of Jungkook – even if you don’t lay a finger on him, he’ll lapse back into the state he was in when he was with Yukwon. He’s fragile, Taehyung. You have to treat him with care.”

 

“I-I know… you’re right… fuck. What have I done, hyung? I’ve really fucked up.” Jin smiles softly, dragging Taehyung to his chest.

 

“If there’s one thing I know for sure, Jungkook will forgive you.”

 

“How could he? I’m no better than his fucking ex,” Taehyung sobs, his voice muffled against Jin’s shirt.

 

“But you are, Taehyung.” Jin softly caresses the boy’s wisteria locks, his smile brightening. “You’re willing to change for him. You’re willing to become the better person. That’s more than what could be said for Yukwon.”

 

Taehyung chuckles sadly, clutching at Jin like he’s become a lifeline. “What did I do to deserve you, hyung?”

 

“You went to Hell and back,” he answers, “and you survived.”

 

*~*~*

 

It’s quiet in the master bedroom. It took a very long time for silence to finally blanket the peaceful ambience, with the exception of the occasional hiccup from Jungkook. He had been crying ceaselessly and trembling like a leaf caught in the blaze of a hurricane. Namjoon is convinced that his shirt is officially ruined. Not only does it have Yukwon’s blood on it, but also the front is now covered with tears and snot. He isn’t complaining though. Jungkook is entirely blameless, even if he shouldn’t have had Yukwon’s number still in his phone. He’s known Yukwon long enough to understand that he’s a manipulator. Jungkook has never divulged how long he was with Yukwon, but he makes the assumption that it was long enough to get hooked under his control.

 

He’s calmed down now, at least enough to properly console. Rocking him back and forth gently had helped. Jungkook is coiled up against his chest now. He’s still, very still. His breathing is soft and a little nasally because his nose is blocked, and the only indication that lets Namjoon know he’s still awake is the occasional flutter of his lashes when he blinks.

 

“Jungkook…?” he dares to disrupt the quiet ambience, sweeping a hand across Jungkook’s fringe to get a better look at his face.

 

“Yeah?” Namjoon sighs with relief when Jungkook actually responds. At least the kid hasn’t completely shut down.

 

“I… I want to confess something,” he says apprehensively, his hand dropping from Jungkook’s fringe to squeeze the boy’s hand. “I used to know Yukwon, a long time ago… we used to be acquaintances.”

 

Instead of verbally answering, Jungkook absently reaches out to trace his fingers along the man’s forearm, sweeping across the faded ink. “Zico’s gang,” he whispers thickly, and Namjoon nods slowly. “I saw it – the tattoo… I thought that… I thought…” he trails off, leaving the sentence to hang in the air.

 

“You thought I was still associated with them, didn’t you?” Namjoon sighs when Jungkook nods his head. That’d explain why he was acting so strangely around him lately. He’s half surprised Jungkook didn’t set him on fire and run away screaming considering the circumstances. “I left years ago – before you had even met Yukwon, I think. I never liked how they operated, but I didn’t get out until it was too late. They’re horrible people, but I guess you already know that, huh?”

 

“Yeah…” Jungkook whispers, his grasp on the front of Namjoon’s shirt tightening as he says this.

 

“Did you ever talk to any of them?” Namjoon inquires gently.

 

“I… I was never introduced to them properly… they were always just there, around Yukwon’s apartment… I’d have to prepare drinks and snacks whenever they came over, and then afterwards I used to just stay out of the way.” Jungkook pauses, his lips pressing together. “But… one time Zico made a comment about me that Yukwon didn’t like, so he started locking me in the bedroom whenever they came over.”

 

Namjoon rubs circles against Jungkook’s arm soothingly, bottling up the rage starting to build inside of him. “What was the comment Zico made?”

 

“He said…” Jungkook bit his bottom, his cheeks reddening with embarrassment. “He said I was pretty enough to… to make a lot of m-money out on the streets.”

 

Namjoon inhaled sharply through his nose and gathered Jungkook closer against him, tucking his head under his chin. “Zico is a bastard.”

 

“He is,” the younger agrees quietly. “I don’t think Yukwon locked me up for protection – he said it was for my protection, but he was lying.”

 

“He was jealous,” Namjoon muses. Yukwon has always been predictable.

 

Jungkook nods in affirmation. “He doesn’t like to share.”

 

*~*~*

 

Taehyung sets the emptied glass of water down on the marble counter, releasing a heavy sigh. His chest feels heavy; like he’s strapped an anchor to it and it’s weighing him down. The guilt has been eating away at him, keeping him wide-awake. His conscience has been cruel and won’t let the sweet embrace of sleep pull him under. All he wants to do is wish away this evening and pretend it never happened, he wants to crawl up next to his boyfriend and pepper kisses all over his face and act like there isn’t any sort of tension between them. But he can’t – he hasn’t seen Jungkook since Namjoon took him away. Namjoon said Jungkook was drained and didn’t feel like eating dinner, and honestly, neither had Taehyung. He had offered to go talk to Jungkook, but Namjoon insisted that Jungkook needed space.

 

Jungkook is sleeping in the master bedroom with Namjoon and Jin. He knows because he checked Jungkook’s bedroom not five minutes ago, only to find the bed empty. He should have known, really. Jin would have insisted that Jungkook sleep with them, especially after all the emotional stress he’s been through.

 

He releases another sigh before dragging himself out of the kitchen, languidly turning off the lights as he goes. He glances at the television and contemplates turning it on, just until his body is merciful enough to shut down for the night, but he decides against the idea. Only cheesy dramas that are too horrible for the peak hour time slots air at this time, along with repeats of past classics. What better way to make him feel even worse than to watch two people get together and be happy, even if only a while before something or someone gets in the way and challenges the relationship. More often than not, the couple triumph over whatever stupid wrench has been thrown into the plot to hinder their happiness, and Taehyung would ordinarily be all for crying and gushing over the program. But there’s a time and a place for everything, and watching cheesy dramas to distract himself wouldn’t be appropriate. This is real life, not a television drama. The problems are real, the pain is real.

 

His gaze drifts over to the hallway. His heart clenches. He forgos rationality and simply allows his feet to sweep across the hardwood floorboards, carrying him through the darkness to the doors at the very end of the corridor. He licks his lips as he places his hand on one of the silver doorknobs, only indulging in the slightest moment of hesitation before quietly opening the door. He slips inside and closes the door behind him soundlessly, the carpeting making it easy to be discreet. The master bedroom is bigger than his and Jungkook’s bedrooms combined, with a large ensuite to his far right and the large, king-size bed to his far left.

 

He sneaks across the room, almost tripping over a pair of trousers he knows belong to Namjoon, because there’s no way in hell Jin would ever leave his clothes lying around so hazardously. He trips on the plush footrest at the end of the bed, having forgotten it was there, and lands face-first onto the mattress. He curses under his breath, immediately straightening when he hears the rustle of material breaking the quiet ambience. He stretches out like a cat and feels around atop the blankets. His hands enclose around a pair of feet.

 

“Taehyung I swear to god.” It’s Namjoon.

 

“Sorry!” he whispers before continuing to feel around, locating a leg that doesn’t so much as twitch when he squeezes it. He knows immediately that the leg belongs to Jungkook. His boyfriend doesn’t so much as move while he’s sleeping. He’s probably the quietest sleeper Taehyung has ever known. So, without further delay, he climbs up the body in the centre of the bed and swiftly slips under the covers. Namjoon pinches him in the side and he scowls, slapping away the man’s hand.

 

“Fuck off.”

 

You fuck off.”

 

Both of you fuck off.” A small voice groans, and Taehyung grins through the darkness. His arms reach out and snatch up the body on the other side of him, ecstatic that the boy isn’t struggling against his hold.

 

“Kookie,” Taehyung croons, tucking the younger under his chin and nuzzling against his fluffy, raven locks.

 

“Tae,” Jungkook mumbles, his voice trembling slightly as he snakes his arms around Taehyung’s neck and buries himself in the junction under his chin. “Taehyung I’m sorry.”

 

“No. Don’t be sorry.”

 

“But I am sorry.”

 

“Well you shouldn’t be sorry.” Taehyung kisses the top of Jungkook’s head. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I promised to protect you, but I couldn’t keep that promise. I… I can’t even promise that it won’t happen again. I’m sorry, Kookie.”

 

“I just…” Jungkook starts to quiver, and Taehyung can do nothing but hold him tighter against him. “I just don’t want to fight,” he chokes out. Taehyung can feel wetness against his skin and he knows Jungkook is crying silently, which only make him want to cry.

 

Taehyung feels the blankets getting ruffled around as Jin, who had been resting quietly on the other side of Jungkook, turns around to embrace Jungkook from behind, reaching out with his hand to cup the side of Taehyung’s face. He can feel Namjoon snuggle up against him from behind, his face buried in the hair at the back of his head. The comfort triggers something, because Jungkook starts to sob and Taehyung quickly follows suit. Neither Namjoon nor Seokjin say a word as they cry, and he thinks it’s probably for the best. Because no words are needed. Just pure, unadulterated comfort.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 8

 

 

 

The humid summer breeze from the hallway window gently tousles his raven hair, loose tendrils falling forwards and becoming damp from the sweat lingering on his brow. He reaches up, pushing the hair back and wiping his forehead with the back of his palm, attempting to remove some of the sweat that clings stubbornly to his skin.

 

It’s on days like these that he misses his hometown, the soft calls of seagulls and the salty breeze wafting off of the ocean. He misses the summers spent at the beach with his family, the endless plains of burning hot sand under his feet as he chased his older brother along the shoreline, flinging seaweed at each other.

 

Life was much simpler back then.

 

Soft cheers and claps sound from underneath the front door, the celebration echoing softly down the modest hallway. Jungkook pulls his knees to his chest, ignoring the growing heat from his curled up position and silently listening in on the small cacophony of overlapping voices.

 

“This is such an achievement, Junghyun! You’ve honoured the family name.”

 

“Your father and I are so proud of you.”

 

“I can’t believe we are going to have a lawyer in the family.”

 

“Come. Let aunty give you a hug. My little smarty pants.”

 

“Top marks. Full scholarship. It’s amazing. You should let Jungkookie in on your secret.”

 

Jungkook cups his trembling hands over his ears, eyes clenching shut as he tries to block the praising voices out.

 

The letter had come in the mail three days ago, an expensive envelope with golden embossing and stylized, handwritten characters on the front reading ‘Jeon Junghyun.’

 

Reading over his brother’s shoulder, he couldn’t quite catch every word as the paper shook in Junghyun’s excited hands, but he saw enough to know what it meant.

 

‘Junghyun. Star pupil. Example to all other students. Full scholarship. Bachelor of Law with Honours. Seoul National University.’

 

The words repeat over and over again in his head on an endless loop, like a faulty record player. He wants to be inside, cheering his brother on for his achievements because he knows how hard Junghyun has worked for this. Spending weeks upon weeks revising for finals, barely talking to friends and family, barely eating because he was fully engrossed in his textbooks. He knows how much Junghyun wants to make their family proud, to ensure that the Jeon family is financially secure enough for them to live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

 

But there is a dark voice inside of his head, a slither of hatred that’s festering in his heart towards his ‘perfect’ brother. It tears up his insides like an ugly sickness, manipulating his thoughts and feelings. He doesn’t want to feel this way, but with every praising word, every comparison between Junghyun and himself, the hatred spreads just that little bit further.

 

Tears gather in his eyes and wet his eyelashes, his body shaking as he desperately tries to keep himself together. Have his parents even noticed that he’s not in there? Or are they so caught up in his brother that they can’t even spare him a thought? As soon as they had read the letter, his parents called every relative that lived nearby, spreading the good news and issuing invites for a celebratory lunch.

 

After five minutes of everyone arriving, Jungkook escaped to the sanctuary of the empty hallway, unable to listen to any more congratulatory speeches.

 

He’ll never be what his parents want, never be able to achieve the things his brother has. He’ll always be two steps behind, standing in Junghyun’s shadow and trying to fill the large shoes his brother has so graciously left him.

 

He’s so caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t hear the footsteps approaching the front door until it’s too late, the door swinging open just as he rubs quickly at his eyes in an attempt to remove the evidence of tears. His uncle steps out into hallway, brows furrowed and lips turned downward in a grimace. “So this is where you ran off to. Come inside, we’re about to cut the cake.”

 

Jungkook tightens the hold around his legs, knuckles turning white as they grip his elbows. “I don’t want to.”

 

His uncle exhales a sharp breath through his nose, eyes glittering with frustration as he sneers down at Jungkook. “Don’t be a brat. This is your brother’s day, don’t try and make it about yourself by acting out like you have over the past couple of weeks. Don’t think your parents haven’t told me what you’ve been doing, talking back and sneaking out at all hours of the night.”

 

Tears well up in his eyes again, his head shaking in denial at the claim. “No… I’m not. I just needed some fresh air. I’ll come in soon, just please… give me a minute.”

 

His uncle only shakes his head furiously, stepping out into the hallway and pushing the door open. “Everyone is waiting on you, Jungkook. Stop acting like a jealous, attention-starved child and get inside.”

 

Something about his uncle’s words strikes a chord within Jungkook, pushing him over the fine ledge he is walking on. He jumps up to his feet, arms flailing out widely as he yells at the tall man. “What difference does it make!? It’s not like anyone fucking wants me here anyway.”

 

His uncle’s nostrils flare furiously, face turning red in anger at his outburst.

 

His uncle is about to yell again, but his mother’s stern voice calls out from inside the apartment, abruptly cutting him off. “Jeon Jungkook. Just what do you think you’re doing?”

 

Jungkook turns and steps into the apartment, Yukwon’s words ringing in his head.

 

He faces his mother as the words spill uncontrollably from his lips, like the filter between his thoughts and mouth has been removed. “I’m doing what I can to stay out of the way of your ‘perfect’ son. Don’t want an underachiever like me hanging around and ruining the party.”

 

Junghyun steps forward, sad expression marring his face. “Jungkook… “

 

Jungkook doesn’t let him finish, words refusing to stop. “I’m sick and tired of hearing about how amazing Junghyun is, about how he’ll do good things for the family name. I don’t want to be compared to him, I don’t want you telling me how much better I could be if I put in some effort. It’s not easy for me like it is for Junghyun, and I can never be what he is. I’ll never get a job that you’ll be proud of, I’ll never be able to be the son you brag about to others. Why can’t you just let me be me? Why can’t you just let me do what I want with my life and be happy?”

 

His mother’s eyes widen at the thoughts that have been plaguing Jungkook, arms reaching out to comfort her distraught son as tears gather in her eyes. “Honey... Kookie… where is this coming from?”

 

His uncle’s hand comes down roughly against his shoulder, the man’s fingers curling and digging into his skin. “Jungkook that is enough. You couldn’t hold yourself back for just one day, could you? You have to go and ruin the celebration.”

 

Jungkook’s father clears his throat, voice sharp as he speaks to his brother-in law. “Jihwan. Let go of my son. This is a matter that doesn’t concern you.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t hear anything else, jerking his body out of his uncle’s tight grip and rushing off to his room. He pushes the door open, handle banging loudly against the wall and undoubtedly punching a hole in the plaster. He grabs his backpack off the floor, frantically shoving some clean clothes and his favourite elephant plush toy into the small bag before grabbing his Iron Man wallet. He can hear the harsh hiss of voices travelling down the hall from the kitchen, arguments brewing between his relatives. He slings the bag over his shoulder, snatching up his mobile phone and slipping his sneakers. He then sprints out of his room.

 

His mother gives a surprised shout as Jungkook rushes past, arms reaching out to grab at her son before he has a chance to leave. “Jungkook, please. Where are you going?”

 

Jungkook doesn’t hesitate and ignores her desperate pleas, shoving the front door open and foregoing the lift. He heads directly for the stairs.

 

His father's panicked voice echoes in the stairwell, bouncing off the concrete walls as he cries out for his son. “Jungkook!”

 

Jungkook can hear heavy footfalls one flight up and the heavy breath of who he assumes is Junghyun chasing him. He quickens his pace, taking two steps at a time to try and evade his brother. Sweat pools between his shoulder blades, staining his shirt and making it cling to his body as he makes the final leap into the apartment foyer. He wastes no time, bursting through the door and barrelling down the crowded street.

 

His brother’s fearful voice draws the attention of the pedestrians as he screams out to his little brother, now a fair distance away. “Please, Jungkook! We don’t think that of you! Please, come home so we can talk about it!”

 

Yukwon’s voice whispers in his mind: ‘Lies.’

 

Jungkook makes a sharp turn into a deserted alleyway, vaulting over and crouching behind a putrid smelling dumpster. His breaths come out in heavy pants, lungs trying to draw in oxygen. The muscles in his leg tense up, wobbling unsteadily beneath him. He can’t hear anything over his pounding heart, the quickened beats pulsating in his ears.

 

He doesn’t know how much time has passed, still pressed up against the dumpster and leaning against the brick wall of the building behind him, but it’s not until the sun touches the horizon that he emerges. He peers around the corner of the alley into the main street, eyes scanning the crowds for any of his family that still might be looking for him. Not that they would be, they’re probably glad that he left home. Just another burden they no longer have to deal with.

 

He scurries along the sidewalk, fishing out his small flip phone and dialling a number that he’s all too familiar with. “Yu… Yukwon.”

 

The cooing voice on the other end of the line calms his nerves immediately, body relaxing as he weaves through the crowd. “Hey, baby boy. What’s going on with my little angel?”

 

Jungkook sniffles loudly, hand clenching around his phone as he stops at the lights. “I… I did it. I left home. I can still stay with you, yeah?”

 

His boyfriend hums in approval, breath hitching and voice croaking slightly over the line. “Tell me where you are baby and I’ll come and get you.”

 

Jungkook’s head spins around, searching for a street name and repeating it for Yukwon. “Okay. Don’t worry, I’ll be there soon. It’ll all be alright.”

 

Jungkook sits on the curb, knees to his chest, mirroring the position from the hallway. The tears that have been building all afternoon finally spill over, streaking down his plump, youthful cheeks. He sobs quietly in the busy street, earning some strange glances and questioning stares. Empty chip packets and disposable coffee cups swirl around his feet, swept across the curb by the soft wind.

 

He yanks open his small backpack, fishing out the plush toy that even as a teenager, he can’t fall asleep without.

 

“Podo,” he whispers gently, nuzzling into the soft material of the toy and hugging it delicately to his chest, “we’re moving to a new home. Everything is going to get better.”

 

The sky darkens as the sun sets, roads now illuminated by the harsh artificial light of street lamps and headlights from passing cars. Jungkook’s eyes follow every car as they whiz past, waiting patiently for his boyfriend to arrive, even though it’s already been an hour. He’s about to call Yukwon again when a car pulls to a stop in front of him, door opening and almost whacking him in the legs.

 

Jungkook gingerly places Podo back into his bag, only half zipping it shut before springing to his feet. He jumps into the car and slams the car door behind him, his arms automatically reaching out and winding around Yukwon’s neck tightly. “I’ve missed you.”

 

Fingers reach up and tangle in his hair, pulling at his soft tassels to the point that it’s almost painful. “I know, baby boy. But I’m here now, Yukwon will take care of you.”

 

Jungkook sniffles, nose nuzzling into Yukwon’s neck and fingers clenching in the fabric of his shirt. “Do you really mean that, hyung?”

 

Yukwon’s hand slides down the boy’s back slowly, hand rubbing firm circles into his lower back. “Yes. Do you know how proud I am of you for getting away from your parents? You’re ready to move into the world and be your own person. Their opinions and expectations of you don’t matter anymore, Jungkookie. You don’t have to live in your brother's shadow.”

 

Jungkook sniffles loudly, fingers coming up to rest against Yukwon’s cheek. “Really? I can be who I want to be?”

 

Yukwon nods his head, sharp stubble rubbing at the soft, unblemished skin of Jungkook’s damp cheek. “You can be anything you want. Your family are the stupidest people on the planet, taking someone as amazing as you for granted. They are so consumed by wealth and social status that they don’t appreciate you, they don’t see just how perfect you are.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widen and his cheeks flush red at the statement, gazing lovingly at Yukwon as he leans forward and presses a soft kiss to his boyfriend’s chapped lips. “You think I’m perfect?”

 

Yukwon gives the boy a predatory grin, one that Jungkook will undoubtedly mistake as being loving. “You’re perfect for me, Jungkook. My perfect boy. I’ll take care of you.”

 

Jungkook gives the older boy a shy smile, slinking back into the passenger seat and doing up his seatbelt, but keeping their fingers tightly entwined. “Will you stay with me forever, Yukwonnie?”

 

Yukwon smirks evilly, glad that the stupid boy hasn’t noticed his wrongly buttoned shirt or the scent of sweat and sex that clings heavily to his skin. When his boy toy had called, his fingers were buried in the hair of some blonde slut that Zico sent him as a gift, telling him he needed to get laid. His fingers dug into her scalp, pushing her head down and choking her on his cock as the boy cried pathetically on the other end of the phone. He hadn’t left the apartment until he’d fucked her into the mattress, kicking her out as soon as he had come before going to pick up Jungkook.

 

Stupid fucking boy. At least the naïve piece of shit was now his.

 

He pulls into traffic, steering with one hand and bringing the one entwined with Jungkook’s to his mouth, pressing a chaste kiss to the back of Jungkook’s hand.

 

“Forever, baby boy. Trust me, I’ll never let you go.”

 

*~*~*

 

Taehyung wakes to the sensation of fingers carding through his violet hair. They scratch comfortingly at his scalp before coming to a rest on the column of his neck. The room is almost completely dark, sun blocked out by the activated tinting on the windows and light curtains that surround them.

 

Taehyung peeks out of one eye at Jin, who is staring across at him over Jungkook. "Did you sleep okay?"

 

Taehyung groans loudly, stretching his arms above his head and rolling onto his side to face Jin. "Fantastically. I hope you know that Kookie and I will now be having sleepovers with you guys every second day."

 

Jin ruffles his hair affectionately, a gentle smile stretching across his shadowed face.  "Don't push your luck, kiddo."

 

Taehyung rolls his eyes but leans into the comforting touch, nuzzling into Jin’s hand, a movement similar to that of a house cat.

 

Jungkook stirs at the sound of soft voices, wriggling in the tight space between Jin and Taehyung. He rouses, peering up at Jin with his large doe eyes.

 

Knowing the boy’s horrible background and experience with violence, Jin wasn’t too sure if he should have kept Tae away for the night and stayed with him in the other room. But as soon as he saw Tae crawl up to the boy timidly, saw him worm his way between Namjoon and Jungkook, he knew there was no way he could separate them. There’s no way he would want to break the two boys apart, not after witnessing the way they clung so desperately to one another.

 

Jin leans forward and rests his forehead against Jungkook’s, making the boy go cross eyed to look at him. "Good morning, Jungkookie."

 

Jungkook's mouth opens to reply but is interrupted by a squirming Taehyung, who is trying to push his way into the non-existent space between Kookie and Jin to create a distance between the two. "Hyung. Keep your hands to yourself.”

 

Jin arches an eyebrow condescendingly, covering Taehyung’s face with his hand and pushing him away. He makes a point of snuggling closer to the boy in his arms. "Wait your turn. I'm showering Kookie with well-deserved love."

 

Taehyung barks out a loud “Yah!” at Jin's comment, startling a loud snore out of Namjoon. The three of them pause comically and turn to stare at the unconscious mass on the other side of the bed, the lumped figure rolling over restlessly to face the window.

 

A small giggle spills from Jungkook's lips at the endearing sight, a hand coming up to his mouth to try and muffle the noise as to not disturb Namjoon more than they already have. "I guess dad isn't a morning person."

 

Jungkook’s body freezes, his fingers fiddling nervously with the edge of the doona at the beat of silence that follows his comment, eyes drifting away from Jin’s startled ones.

 

Why would I say that? They probably think I’m weird now. Who says something like that to their friends?’

 

Jin breaks the silence by making a semi-high pitched keening noise, arms suddenly wrapping around Jungkook's small frame in a tight embrace and rocking the younger gently from side to side. "I'm a mother!"

 

Taehyung shoots Jin an unimpressed look before turning to lay on his back, his hands coming up to give a sarcastic clap toward the ceiling. "Congratulations, Kim Seokjin. It's a boy."

 

Jungkook flushes red, tips of his ears growing hot in both embarrassment and happiness from the reaction. It’s been so long since he’s been able to call anyone mum or dad, the built up need in his heart finally fulfilled after so many long years, even if he’s said it in a joking manner. He wonders if his actual parents ever miss him, if his brother ever wonders what happened to him after he ran away. Are they still searching for him? Did they mourn his death when there was no news in regards to his whereabouts? He wants to check in on them and tell them they don’t need to worry anymore, but he doesn’t think they would want to see him ever again. Not after all the pain he’s caused them.

 

Jungkook’s thoughts are disrupted as Namjoon rolls over suddenly, stretching his arm and flinging it heavily across the trio, trying to pull them all in closer. "Excuse me, but I think you'll find that it's two boys."

 

Taehyung barks out a laugh, nose burying in the soft, obsidian hair behind Jungkook’s ear and breathing deeply. “You’re not wrong there, dad.”

 

Jin reaches up and entwines his fingers with Namjoon’s, their clasped hands hovering over the duo cuddling in the middle. Jin closes his eyes, snuggling further into Jungkook and letting the blissful moment wash over him, hoping in the depths of his heart that it will never come to an end.

 

*~*~*

 

Jin lifts the stack of dirty plates from the dining table and carries them to the sink, Jungkook trailing behind him as he animatedly waves the empty glasses around, hips swaying gently along to the soft music coming from the TV in the lounge room. Namjoon takes the moment of silence and reaches across the table, fingers lightly grazing against Taehyung’s tense forearm.

 

Taehyung’s eyes linger on Jungkook’s retreating form for a moment longer before turning his gaze to Namjoon, not prepared for the considerate glance the older is giving him. He knows Namjoon can see the regret buried in the depths of his eyes, see the anger that’s festering away at his insides and his mind. “Hyung?”

 

Namjoon leans back in his seat heavily, fingers tapping softly on the glass as his eyes trace over Taehyung’s youthful face, travelling over his confused expression. “You’re going to spend the day with me today.”

 

Taehyung’s jaw twitches, hands clenching in his lap as he stares down at the table. “I’m okay, hyung. I’m not angry anymore so you don’t need to babysit me. I promise it won’t happen again.”

 

Namjoon’s soft voice reaches his ears, but he refuses to look up, refuses to face the concerned gaze of his friend. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Taehyung. You know as well as I do that your anger is something you cannot control, and while I do believe that you would never physically hurt Jungkook, your rage-filled words do more than enough to hurt the poor boy.”

 

Taehyung clenches his eyes shut, trying to prevent the tears of frustration that well up in his eyes from falling. He’s angry at himself for his lack of control. He’s angry at his mother for leaving and his father for turning him into this monster.

 

Namjoon tears his gaze from Taehyung, eyes finding Jin’s across the kitchen as his other half speaks quietly to Jungkook, the younger completely absorbed in Jin’s words. Namjoon jerks his head in a small nod, sad smile drifting across his features as he stands, his calves pushing the chair back. He quietly steps around the table, hands pressing supportively against Taehyung’s tensely set shoulders and rubbing soothing circles with his thumbs.

 

“Come on, get dressed. We’re going for a ride.”

 

*~*~*

 

Taehyung stares aimlessly out of the window, fingers playing with the electrical switch for the ute’s passenger window and watching blankly as the sheen of glass slides up and down. Namjoon remains silent, keeping his words locked up inside himself until they arrive at their destination. His eyes are completely focused on the road, but they occasionally flicker over to check on Taehyung and to make sure that the boy is doing alright.

 

Namjoon pulls to a stop at a red light, fingers tapping softly against the steering wheel in time with the fast rap that spills from the ute speakers. After years of relentless hounding and badgering, Yoongi had finally given up and dropped off a copy of his mixed tape and composed works the week before. Namjoon had known his friend was skilled in music production, but after hearing Yoongi’s rasping and sultry voice on some of the demo tracks, layered with complexly composed beats, Namjoon was stunned into complete silence.

 

He hadn’t hesitated showering his friend with praise and acting like a complete and utter fanboy the next time he saw him. All his compliments were worth the bashful flush that stained the younger’s cheeks, his hand rubbing awkwardly at his neck at the attention and praise. 

 

Namjoon doesn’t realize he’s drifted away into his thoughts until a loud honk sounds from the car behind them, the driver gesturing wildly at the now green light. Namjoon waves an apologetic hand out the window before turning onto the side street, slowing down and parking on the driveway of a modest but modern looking building.

 

Taehyung steps out of the car without a word, unsure as to where they are or what they are doing in this part of town. His nerves jump slightly as he looks up at the building, the heavy industrial roller doors that cover the front windows contrasting with the modern and stylish exterior of the building.

 

He kicks at a stone on the floor by his foot, watching it scurry across the newly paved driveway and into the pristine, landscaped garden. He buries his hands into his pockets to escape the chilly wind, his nose burying into the soft material of his favourite oversized scarf.

 

Maybe Jin and Namjoon had gotten sick of his burdening self and decided that he needed to leave their home. He shakes the thought from his head as soon as it forms, disregarding the slightest possibility that Jin, or Namjoon for that matter, would be capable of doing something like that to him.

 

He’s known Jin for over four years and he spent all of those long four years arguing with Jin about his living arrangements. There’s no way Jin would - could do that to him, but as he walks alongside Namjoon towards the non-descript building, he can’t help the feeling of dread that settles in his bottom of his stomach, like a sack of stones weighing him down.

 

Namjoon, oblivious to Taehyung’s mental breakdown, walks leisurely towards the front door, whistling softly and twirling his keys around his index finger, making them clink softly. He unlocks the deadbolt on the reinforced glass door, arching his eyebrow as he opens the door widely and waves Taehyung into the shadowed space. Taehyung keeps his eyes on the ground as he steps past Namjoon, fingers fiddling nervously with the fabric on the inside of his pocket as Namjoon locks the door and flicks on the light switch.

 

With all the mental set up during the car ride over, Taehyung is all but expecting a dingy, concrete-walled room with a metal interrogation table placed in the centre. Somewhere where Namjoon will slam his fists down on the table as he rescinds Taehyung’s housing offer and tells him to get out of their lives.

 

His eyes squint as the lights come on, the dimmer allowing for the brightness intensity to grow slowly until fully on. Expensive hardwood lines the floor, cherry stain glistening softly in the warm, yellow light. There are two seating areas, both with a small table surrounded by comfortable-looking cushion chairs. Various ornamental pieces are placed within the room, large opulent paintings and floating cube bookcases, filled with magazines and brochures, line the walls. A beige, furry rug sits in front of the reception desk, contrasting heavily with the dark stain of hardwood.

 

Taehyung’s eyes widen comically when his eyes finally trail over the counter, reading over the plaque on the wall, realising with sudden clarity where Namjoon has brought him.

 

Kim2 Carpentry’

 

He gapes stupidly at the large sign, tension leaving his body almost immediately at the sight of the words. Namjoon drapes a heavy arm across his shoulders, giving his bicep a reassuring squeeze as he directs him towards a door at the far end of the space. Namjoon fiddles with his keys again, pushing the door open and disrupting the fine layer of sawdust that lines the floor. Taehyung blinks once, nose twitching cutely at the dust particles that swirl up into the air as he hesitantly steps forward.

 

Namjoon follows in after him, shrugging off his heavy winter jacket and carelessly slinging it onto the nearby workbench as he allows Taehyung a moment to look around. The younger slinks around the room curiously, like a small child in a new environment. His eyes widen in awe, inspecting the various tools and half completed projects that litter the benches in the industrialized space.

 

Taehyung walks along, fingers trailing through sawdust and wood shavings before turning to face Namjoon, who is leaning against the adjacent wall and leisurely unravelling a length of fabric in his hands. “Why did you bring me here, Namjoon? I mean it’s nice and all, seeing where you work and what you do, but why?”

 

Namjoon raises an eyebrow and gestures towards the back of the room, where Taehyung has not yet explored. A heavy punching bag hangs from the ceiling on a thick industrial hook, swaying softly as Namjoon walks over and nudges it with his knuckles. “This is what we are here for.”

 

Taehyung stares at his friend, completely unimpressed with the reason for their journey and leaving Jungkook at home. "That’s it? You brought me here to watch you box?”

 

Namjoon rolls his eyes, stepping in front of Tae and reaching for his hand. “Stop whining. We’re not here for me. We’re here for you.”

 

Taehyung remains silent, unsure with what to say as Namjoon pulls off his heavy jacket and begins circling his hands with the worn, white cotton wrap. The material is tight around his knuckles and wrist, enough to be supportive but not too tight to cut off blood circulation. He glances up at Namjoon’s face, eyes trailing over the creases in his forehead as he furrows his brows in concentration. 

 

Taehyung clenches his hands experimentally once Namjoon is done, getting used to the constricting fabric on his skin. Namjoon walks over to a nearby shelf, picking a set of beaten boxing gloves and slipping them onto Tae’s hands, adjusting the Velcro around his wrists.

 

“Back when I was younger, after all the shit had gone down, I had a really hard time dealing with everything. The pain, the devastation, it all built up inside and wore away at me every day. I didn’t have an outlet, internalizing all of my emotions and negative thoughts.”

 

Taehyung listens quietly as Namjoon speaks, soaking in every word of his friend’s haunted past as they step up to the punching bag. “I got angry a lot, blaming the world - blaming me for everything that had happened. I pretty much wrecked my apartment the night I got back from hospital, I smashed up the kitchen table, broke my TV, ripped my stitches open too while doing it.”

 

Namjoon absentmindedly rubs at his shoulder as he remembers, the memory still clear in his mind as his other hand comes to rest on the bag. “That’s why the scars are so puckered now, because I didn’t get them fixed straight away. I sat in my room for days until the pain got to be too much, and I ended up calling Jin, believe it or not. He came over and patched me up as best as he could, because I stubbornly refused to go back to the hospital.”

 

Namjoon steps around the bag so he’s opposite Taehyung, holding the bag still between his hands. “I know that I’ve told you about some of my past before, but what you don’t know is that the beautiful, kind man that took you and Kookie in from the streets, saved me as well. He held me as I cried that night, cleaning up all the debris from my rampage as I slept and he stayed until morning to ensure that I was alright. That wonderful man changed my life completely. He sorted my shit out, got me into boxing lessons as a way to vent my anger safely.”

 

Taehyung’s broken whisper reaches his ears, making him look up at the vulnerable boy, “Hyung…”

 

Namjoon reaches across, cupping Tae’s cheek and wiping away the stray tear that falls from his eye with a swipe of his thumb. “That’s why we are here, Taehyung. I know you don’t mean to get angry, that it’s not within your control, but I’ve seen how you are with Jungkook, how gentle you are with the boy and I know that you want to change. So whenever you feel that itch, that need to release your anger, whenever or wherever you are, I want you to call me. I’ll bring you down here so you have a safe environment to vent your emotions.”

 

Namjoon purses his lips playfully at the growing wetness at Taehyung’s eyes, in an attempt to lighten the serious mood. “Yah! I meant angry emotions, not touchy-feely crying ones.”

 

Taehyung barks out a laugh, bringing his forearm up to dab lightly at his eyes. “Thanks, hyung. For everything.”

 

Namjoon gives the younger a fond smile, stepping back to hold the swaying bag still again. “Anytime, Taetae. Now put one foot forward and balance your weight, you don’t want to be falling onto your ass when you throw that right hook.”

 

*~*~*

 

Dinner is ready and set out on the table by the time they get home, Jin’s timing impeccable as always. Sweat lines Taehyung’s back and makes the fabric of his shirt cling uncomfortably to his skin, the day’s workout leaving an unfamiliar fatigue to settle in his muscles. He rubs at his tense neck, knowing that he’ll need to do a shit load of stretching and have a hot bath tonight, otherwise he won’t be able to move tomorrow. There’s a small grimace on his lips as Namjoon slaps him lightly on the back, walking ahead to enter the kitchen first. The grimace slips off of his face and is replaced with a beaming smile as soon as he sees Kookie, rushing over to greet his boyfriend.

 

He pulls the boy into a tight embrace, nose burying in the soft hairs of his crown as he breathes in the boys warm scent. “I missed you.”

 

Jungkook hums in agreement, arms tightening around Tae’s back as he nuzzles into his neck, uncaring of the sweaty skin. “I missed you too.”

 

Taehyung keeps an arm wrapped around Jungkook’s shoulders as he slips into the seat next to him, fingers playing softly with the hairs on his nape. “What did you and mum get up to today?”

 

Jungkook blushes at the choice of Taehyung’s words before twitching excitedly in his seat, words spilling quickly from his lips. “It was amazing! He took me to Big Bang’s signing today in the city. I got an album signed by all of the members and some posters too. G-Dragon is so dreamy.”

 

Taehyung leans back at the last comment, narrowing his eyes playfully. “Am I being replaced? The end is nigh! Farewell, Jungkookie!”

 

Jungkook snorts at his boyfriend’s antics, entwining their fingers together on the table. “Don’t be silly, you are my everything, Tae. Besides, I don’t think he’s gay.”

 

Taehyung only smirks, shrugging his shoulder nonchalantly. “Please. He and TOP are totally doing it.”

 

Jin smacks Taehyung in the back of the head softly with a serving spoon before placing the bowl of rice onto the table. “Dinner table conversation, please.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes flicker up at Jin, small laugh spilling from his lip before glancing back down at Taehyung. “Anyway, what did you and Namjoon do?”

 

Taehyung shoots Kookie a mischievous smirk, laughter erupting from his body at Namjoon’s swearing to his response. “Father-son bonding time.”

 

*~*~*

 

“Yes of course I know that… No Jimjam, you are not going to convince me that the Bount Arc in Bleach was necessary… Well yeah, they were necessary in propelling the plot, but there were so many other directions they could’ve gone in… um no. The Shinigami Arc was the most epic… Don’t give me that Jimin! We are never going to agree on that and you know it!”

 

The volume of the television has been put on low and proves to be nice background noise for the argument Taehyung is having with Jimin over the phone. Jungkook rests sleepily on his boyfriend’s chest, content with simply listening to the rhythm of his heart beating beneath his ear. Their legs are tangled, and Jungkook appreciates that Taehyung isn’t jostling around like he usually would when having an argument – particularly with Jimin. They are talking about an anime Jungkook has heard of before, but has never seen. A part of him wants to watch the series, just so that he can be apart of the conversation, but he’s too much of a coward to ask Taehyung to watch it with him.

 

Taehyung’s bed is in slight disarray from what it was like this morning. Jin always makes a point of making their beds with love and care, but at some point in the afternoon, they had gotten into a spontaneous pillow fight and things got a little ugly. Jungkook had been getting a little frustrated because Taehyung was so obviously going easy on him, and although the consideration made his heart soar, he had landed a hit to the side of Taehyung’s face and sent him plummeting off the edge of the bed. Jungkook, being stupid enough to think he actually caused Taehyung harm, had started apologizing, only to get tackled and tickled halfway to purgatory. The blankets were kicked off in the scuffle, and the sheets are bundled up at the foot of the bed, but they don’t need covers so long as they have each other to keep them warm.

 

Suddenly, the actress on the screen slaps the main love interest and Taehyung practically flinches, nudging Jungkook accidently and causing him to whine. “Oh my god, Hyuyeon just slapped Daeseok! Oh my god, oh my god – this is amazing! I’ve been waiting for her to do that since he cheated on her with her long lost half-sister Hyuseon!”

 

Jungkook can’t tell whether Taehyung is saying this to Jimin or the phone, or just talking to himself, but that doesn’t stop Jungkook from slapping his boyfriend in the chest for his overexcitement. This reminds Taehyung of the extra weight on his body and he blinks, a wide, apologetic grin stretching across his handsome features.

 

“Sorry Kookie. I didn’t mean to disturb you,” he says sincerely, patting the top of Jungkook’s head as he settles back into a comfortable position. Jungkook understands that his boyfriend can get a little overzealous at times, so he doesn’t give him hell for it. If anything, he adores Taehyung’s enthusiasm. His optimism is one of his more admirable qualities.

 

“No I will not let you talk to Kookie,” Taehyung growls into the phone. “Why? Because you’re so obviously head over heels for him you creep!”

 

Jungkook slaps a hand over his mouth to stifle his laugh. Jimin loves to get a little affectionate with him whenever he comes to visit with Yoongi and Hoseok. Yoongi couldn’t care less that his boyfriend is all over Jungkook, but Taehyung gets comically pissy about it. Jungkook is half certain Jimin does it just to get a rise out of his friend, but so long as he’s the one getting pampered he doesn’t see a reason for complaint.

 

Taehyung sighs. “Fine. Jungkook,” he tilts his head to meet Taehyung’s gaze curiously, “Jimin told me to tell you that he loves you and next time he comes over he’ll bring milkshakes.” He can hear Jimin say something else on the other end and Taehyung pulls his ear away from the phone, making a disgusted face. “There’s no way in hell I’m telling him that! He’s my boyfriend you perv!”

 

Jungkook loses interest in the squabbling and relaxes back against Taehyung’s chest, feeling like a purring cat as Taehyung idly cards his fingers through his hair and massages his scalp.

 

He hadn’t heard the footsteps coming down the hallway, so he gets a small shock when the door to Taehyung’s room suddenly opens. He calms down quickly when he recognizes Namjoon’s sturdy silhouette in the doorframe, the light from the hallway cutting through the darkness in the bedroom.

 

“Dinner’s ready,” Namjoon announces with a smile.

 

“Jimjam I gotta go,” Taehyung says hurriedly. “Hyung says dinner is ready and my stomach is eating itself… Yes I’ll tell them you love them… okay, okay – byebyebye.” He hangs up and throws his phone to the foot of the bed, the device just shy of toppling over the edge.

 

Jungkook starts crawling across the bed, but flinches once he gets to the edge, clutching his side.

 

“Aigo – Kookie, you exerted yourself too much today!” Taehyung fusses as he hops off the bed and makes his way around to the other side, hooking his arms under Jungkook’s and helping him to his feet.

 

“And who do I have to thank for that?” Jungkook teases lightly, not wanting Taehyung to stress too much on the state of his weak body.

 

“Are you guilt-tripping me?” Taehyung accuses with a glimmer of amusement, caressing his knuckles down the expanse of Jungkook’s arm to weave their fingers together.

 

“Maybe,” Jungkook smiles shyly, allowing Taehyung to lead him to the dining area.

 

The placemats and chopsticks have already been set, and Taehyung and Jungkook assume their usual spots side by side with their fingers stick laced together. Namjoon distributes the bowls of Udon and Jin fusses over the paper towels, ripping them off one by one and folding them neatly next to all four placemats. Once everything is in order Namjoon and Jin sit themselves down directly opposite Jungkook and Taehyung. It’s their usual places at the dining table when they don’t have guests over for meals.

 

They all wait patiently until Namjoon starts eating, and then the rest of them follow suit. Taehyung by far makes the most noise, slurping up his noodles like it’s nobody’s business, while Jungkook is the quietest, as if making the slightest noise while he eats will disrupt the very ambience of the household.

 

Udon isn’t really a conversational meal. Nobody bothers to make conversation until the bowls contain nothing but broth, Taehyung going a step further and inhaling the contents of his bowl. Some of the broth gets on his shirt and Jin scolds him, but Taehyung only spares the stain a glance before taking off his shirt and hanging it on the back of his chair, much to Jungkook’s embarrassment.

 

“Would you like us to clean up, hyung?” Jungkook asks once he’s certain they’ve all finished, observing how Namjoon leans against his chair languidly, patting his stomach in satisfaction.

 

“Actually,” Jin clears his throat, setting down his chopsticks. “I’d like the talk to you and Taehyung about something.”

 

Jungkook’s stomach coils with dread.

 

“What’s up hyung?” Taehyung tilts his head to the side, resting his cheek on his fist.

 

“Namjoon and I have been discussing certain things,” Jin reaches out to squeeze Namjoon’s hand, a gentle smile on his face, “about your futures.”

 

Jungkook’s throat constricts and he grips the underside of the table. Has he overstayed his welcome? Are they going to ask him to move out so soon?

 

Taehyung glances at Jungkook, pressing his lips together. “About what?”

 

Jin chuckles, shaking his head. “Why do you both look so serious all of a sudden? I just want to make the suggestion of sending you two off to university. It’s important to get a decent education to secure your futures, and Namjoon and I agree that it’d be a good way for you two to make friends and integrate back into society.”

 

“Y-you’re offering to send us to university?” Taehyung blinks incredulously. “You mean – pay for our tuition fees and everything?”

 

“Yes. Whatever it takes for you to get your degrees,” Jin affirms with a warm smile.

 

“Hyung… this – this is insane!” Taehyung laughs, standing up so quickly that the legs of his chair screech against the floorboards. “I’ll actually get to go to university? To study?”

 

“Of course – ” Jin doesn’t get the chance to say anything more before Taehyung has run around the table and enveloped him in a hug. Jin laughs, wrapping his arms around Taehyung’s middle to return the embrace.

 

After a moment, Taehyung pulls away, his grin splitting his face in half. He turns to face Jungkook facing opposite him, his eyes twinkling with eagerness. “Isn’t this amazing, Kookie? We get to go to university! Oh – maybe we can get into the same courses and we can be classmates! We can go to lunch together, make-out in the back of lectures – the whole university experience!” Jungkook looks down at his broth wordlessly, pressing his lips together.

 

“Kookie?” When he doesn’t look up, Taehyung makes his way back around the table and kneels down beside Jungkook’s chair, placing his hands on his boyfriend’s lap. “Baby, what’s wrong?”

 

“I – I don’t think… I’m ready,” he explains awkwardly, his face positively pink with embarrassment. Taehyung cups his hands in his own, caressing them gently.

 

“What do you mean?” Taehyung softly prompts.

 

Jungkook gulps. “I get… anxious when I’m in public. I can’t even leave the apartment without someone with me. How – how can I go to university? How can I pretend to be a normal student when I’m so... so…”

 

“So what?”

 

“So inept.”

 

“But – ” Jin doesn’t give Taehyung the chance to argue.

 

“Jungkook-ah.” Both of the younger boys snap their heads up to meet Jin’s kind eyes. “If you don’t feel like you’re ready, then that’s fine too. It was only a suggestion to let you know you have opportunities available to you.”

 

“How about starting with something smaller?” Namjoon asks, calling attention to himself for the first time since the conversation was initiated.

 

“Like what?” Jungkook squirms uncomfortably, suddenly feeling the pressure settle on his shoulders.

 

“Calm down, Kookie. They only want to help you,” Taehyung says softly, his features scrunched with concern.

 

His shoulders slump and he bites down on his bottom lip. “You’re right. Sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologize,” Jin chimes carelessly. “It’s all apart of the healing process. Maybe finding a part-time job might suit your needs better? I could always find an easygoing job for you at the hospital cafeteria? I’m on good terms with the café management if you’re interested. That way I can be there to drive you to and from work, and if you ever need anything I’m only a flight of stairs away.”

 

Jungkook fiddles with Taehyung’s fingers, thinking the suggestion over. “That might be better,” he answers tentatively, still sounding uncertain.

 

“Just think it over,” Namjoon says. “There isn’t any pressure – no one expects you to be ready for this kind of responsibility just yet.”

 

“O-OK. I’ll think about it,” he nods, meeting Jin’s approving gaze. Taehyung stands up with a bounce, grinning happily.

 

“We’ll finally have something to do!” he punches the air like an anime character and Jungkook smiles at him softly.

 

“The entrance exams are being held at the end of the year. I’ll have to hire a tutor to coach you for the next couple of months,” says Jin. Namjoon takes this as his cue to start stacking up the bowls. Jungkook immediately jumps up to start helping, snatching up all the napkins and chopsticks and sauntering off to the kitchen. “Have you given any thought into what course you might want to do?”

 

“Science!” Taehyung exclaims, his loud voice echoing through the dining area.

 

Jin laces his fingers together, propping his elbows on the table with a grin. “Oh? Are you sure, Taehyung? Science is a competitive field of study. The competition will be fierce.”

 

“You’re forgetting, Seokjin-hyung. I’m Kim Taehyung. No one can outsmart me!”

 

“Are you OK, Jungkook?” Namjoon keeps his voice to a minimum as he starts pouring the broth into the sink, side-eying his dongsaeng, who is stacking the chopsticks into the utensils compartment of the dishwasher. “It wasn’t our intention to hound you. You don’t have to do anything at all if you don't want to.”

 

Jungkook glances up through his lashes, smiling coyly. “No, it’s fine. I was just caught a little off guard.”

 

“Maybe just try working at the café, for Jin’s sake at least? If you don’t like it, you can always tell us and we’ll pull you out straight away. The last thing we want is for you to feel scared or uncomfortable.”

 

“Yeah, I guess I could give it a go...” Jungkook says tentatively. Namjoon reaches out to ruffle Jungkook’s hair, smiling softly.

 

“We’re very proud of you. Don’t forget that.”

 

The corners of his lips twitch upwards. “I won’t.”

 

*~*~*

 

Hoseok wakes up alone in the master bedroom, curled up comfortably under the warm doona. The sheets are cool either side of his body, an indication that he’s been alone in bed for a while. He stretches his arms above his head before rolling over to the edge of the bed, swinging his legs around so that they're pressed against the scratchy carpet that lines the floor. He pushes himself to his feet and shuffles over to the wooden dresser, opening the second draw and pulling out a jumper and some pants.

 

Jimin had cleared some space for him in the dresser, since sleeping in their room has become a regular occurrence. He hardly spends any of his nights alone on the couch anymore, usually waking up overheated and wedged between Jimin and Yoongi on their tiny double bed.

 

Hoseok steps into the bathroom, flicking on the fluorescent light and turning the basin tap on. He cups his hands under the cool stream of water, bringing it up to splash lightly on his face. He turns the tap off, glancing up at his reflection in the mirror.

 

A small smirk plays on his lips as his eyes trail over the constellation of small, purple bruises that line the column of his neck. His fingers rise up and press softly against the marks, enjoying the dull ache that radiates from his skin at the pressure. The couple went overboard last night, Yoongi sucking marks down the length of his body as Jimin fucked into him roughly. The memory of hands on his body makes him shiver in delight, fingers ghosting across his skin and lips pressing sloppy kisses against his.

 

He’s so fucking screwed.

 

If he keeps going the way he is, he’ll need to start worrying about another addiction. This one ten times more dangerous than his substance abuse, and with a more painful outcome as well.

 

He pushes away from the sink, feet padding softly across the floor as he makes his way to the lounge. Yoongi is sitting on the sofa, pale legs crossed and journal balanced on his knee as he fiddles with the laptop on the coffee table. There's a pen perched between his lips and a smear of ink across his cheek where he's accidentally drawn on himself. He's so engrossed in what he's doing that he has yet to realise Hoseok’s lingering presence in the doorway.

 

Hoseok smiles at the cute little furrow in his brow and the way his lips purse slightly as he concentrates, making him look like a frustrated child. He’s never actually seen Yoongi work on his music before, always running off to his small studio in the city whenever creativity decides to strike him. There’s a peaceful air around him as he works, consumed in his own little bubble with no regard for the rest of the world. Hoseok can see why he can spend all day at the studio, often forgetting to come home until Jimin calls him and gently reminds him. He quietly slinks up to the older boy, sinking down onto the couch beside him.

 

Yoongi’s eyes dart to meet Hoseok’s at the sudden dip in the sofa cushioning, fingers coming up to remove the pen from his lips. "Hey, good morning. Sorry I didn't stay in bed. Some ideas sprung to mind and I needed to get them down before I forgot."

 

Hoseok hums in acknowledgement, absentmindedly licking his thumb and reaching over to tenderly wipe the ink from Yoongi’s cheek, fingers lingering and caressing down the side of his face. It's not until he's pulling his hand away that he notices Yoongi’s strange stare, realising how intimate his action was.

 

A soft blush dances across his cheeks in embarrassment, nails scratching at his neck awkwardly at the now tense atmosphere. Yoongi clears his throat and returns his attention back to the computer screen, soft flush tinting his own cheeks. Hoseok hesitantly inches closer, his side pressing against Yoongi’s as he peers across at the journal balanced on the edge of his knee. Black ink lines the white page, words scrawled out messily in incoherent clumps of sharp-edged characters.

 

Hoseok’s view is obstructed when Yoongi presses his spread hand over the page, blocking all of the characters from sight. "I'm not done yet. It's still a work in progress so it's not any good at the moment."

 

Hoseok grins at Yoongi’s modest words, stretching out his arm and making a grabby hand gesture at the journal. "Please. I promise I won't laugh at your lyrics no matter how corny they are, because I know you're a fucking closet romantic under that tough exterior. You may have Jimin convinced, but I see straight through it, mister. Admit it, you’re a huge softy at heart, aren't you?"

 

Yoongi breaths out a laugh at the escalation of Hoseok’s playful words, cocking an eyebrow at the other. "I vehemently deny it."

 

Hoseok pouts dramatically, leaning forward until he’s basically draped across Yoongi’s lap as he reaches for the journal. “Please, Yoongi… I’ll make it worth your while.”

 

Yoongi narrows his eyes at the boy suspiciously, quirking a brow in challenge. “Really now?”

 

Hoseok leans forward, eyes sparkling mischievously as he presses a chaste kiss to Yoongi’s lips, snatching the journal from his hands as soon as he’s distracted. Yoongi groans loudly but doesn’t make a move to take the journal back, he only wraps an arm around Hoseok’s waist and pulls him closer to his side. He picks up the laptop from the coffee table, bringing it to his lap and continues to fiddle with the controls on his music editing software.

 

They sit in silence as Hoseok’s fingers trace across the page, following the characters as they swirl and morph together into a verse. Hoseok’s eyes widen at the sheer depth of Yoongi’s words, the meaning behind every sentence.

 

Yoongi jumps slightly at Hoseok’s sudden words, chewing on his bottom lip nervously. “You’re a liar, Min Yoongi. Not any good my ass. This is amazing! The way you’ve constructed the lyrics for the first and second verses are beautiful. The amount of emotion you’re conveying through just words is incredible.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes remained glued to the laptop screen as his fingers pick at one of the stickers besides the touchpad, uncomfortable with the high praise leaving the other boy’s lips. “You really think so?”

 

Hoseok places the journal down onto the coffee table, hands reaching up to squish Yoongi’s cheeks in his palms and turns his head so that they’re looking into each other’s eyes. “Yes! I can’t wait to hear the song when you’re done. It’s going to be breathtaking, I already know it.”

 

Yoongi presses a hand against Hoseok’s, fingers sliding over his knuckles before coming down to rub tenderly at skin of his tan wrist. “Thanks, Hobi.”

 

Hoseok shoots him a small smile before wriggling around so Yoongi’s arm is draped over his shoulder and his arms are wound around Yoongi’s thin waist. “Now show me how you make your music.”

 

Yoongi presses a kiss to Hoseok’s temple, laughing at his childish nature and using his free hand to click on various controls on the screen. “So I use this function to get a base beat...”

  

*~*~*

 

It’s the soft patter of the shower that wakes Jungkook up. Ordinarily, he’d sleep right through such a subtle noise, but when he turns over to glance at the digital alarm clock, it’s revealed that it’s already well into the morning. It’s so late in fact, that Jin likely left work hours ago, and Namjoon too, if he chose to go into his office today. He rolls over with a groan and tangles in the sheets, pulling them tighter around his form, unwilling to leave the confines of his cocoon just yet.

 

They had no plans for today, although Taehyung will be meeting his new tutor tomorrow to discuss study habits and learning criteria – stuff that Jungkook has no motivation to even begin to understand. But Taehyung seems excited to start this new chapter in his life, despite how much has already changed in such a short period of time. He wishes he had the same motivation as his boyfriend to go out and discover the world, to seize every opportunity and milk it for all that it’s worth.

 

But he’s not that kind of person. Maybe his younger-self might’ve been – before Yukwon came into his life. He used to want to be a singer, or an artist; he always had a passion for the arts. He liked to draw cartoons and sing in the shower, and his piano teacher used to tell him he had a lot of potential to be somebody someday. What has he amounted to now though? He can’t step outside the apartment without falling apart. He can’t so much as look an angry person in the eyes without bursting into tears or scuttling away like a spooked pussy. He’s pathetic and he knows it. He’s such a burden to the people around him, and nobody seems to want to acknowledge it, not even himself at times. He so badly wants to prove that he can be something, that he can make Jin and Namjoon proud of him, that Taehyung won’t be ashamed to introduce him as his boyfriend.

 

‘Tae.’

 

He glances sadly at the closed bathroom door. There’s another concern that he hasn’t voiced to Taehyung, but he isn’t even sure where to begin to explain himself. His boyfriend is a naturally charismatic person. He’s open and warm and sunny like the first day of spring, and people respond to him in a positive manner. He’ll make heaps of friends when he starts university, there’s no denying it, and that kind of scares Jungkook. It’s not that he wants his boyfriend all to himself – no, not at all, but he’s afraid that Taehyung might meet someone more worthy of his love. A prettier girl or boy that hasn’t been broken by the monsters of their past, that don’t flinch whenever he moves to hug them, or hold them, or caress them. Every time Taehyung pulls away Jungkook hates himself a little more. He wants to love him unconditionally, trust him unconditionally, but no matter how hard he’s tried to get a grip on his own anxieties, they seem to get the better of him every single time.

 

He hears a loud groan echo from the bathroom and he nearly topples over the edge of the bed. He sits up, eyes wide and glued to the bathroom door.

 

‘Taehyung…?’

 

He slips out of bed and takes a hesitant step towards the door, biting down on his bottom lip. He falls to his knees and presses his ear against the door, listening carefully to what is happening on the other side.

 

He hears another groan and he winces.

 

“Jungkook.” He freezes, his jaw slackening. “Oh god… J-Jungkook.”

 

Blood rushes to his cheeks and he inches away from the door, unbelieving to what he’s hearing inside the bathroom. It’s so difficult to picture someone like Taehyung doing that in the shower – while he’s in the other room no less!

 

“I-I’m almost there – fuck Jungkook – ugh!” Jungkook slaps a hand over his mouth to stop himself from squealing with embarrassment, jumping to his feet and somersaulting over the bed to get out of the room as quickly as possible. His face has become too hot and he’s too flustered to really tell where he’s going. He races straight toward the lounge on instinct, entering just in time to see Namjoon coming through the front door with a couple of shopping bags in his hands. There’s a small paper bag rolled up between his lips, quite clearly needing a hand with all the items he’s lugging through the door.

 

“Hyung!” he yells with relief, jogging over to help take some bags from his arms. “Let me help you!”

 

Namjoon takes the paper bag from his lips. “Thanks kid – why do you look so flustered? Were you running around?” Namjoon kicks the door closed behind him as he speaks. “You know the doctor told you not to exert yourself. You should be taking it easy.”

 

“I-I am!” Jungkook defends, ducking into the kitchen before Namjoon could make any further comment about his current state. The last thing he wants to explain is why he’s so obviously embarrassed.

 

Once he has the bags set up on the counter he proceeds to start unpacking them and putting them away – that is, until Namjoon interferes. “Don’t be silly. Let me make you some breakfast and I’ll take care of the groceries. Do you have any idea what Jin would do to me if he found out I actually let you do manual labor? He’d cut my balls off!”

 

Jungkook is ushered over to a stool by the island and he sits down obediently, watching as Namjoon starts fishing around for bowls. “Wanna have the rest of Tae’s heart-attack inducing cereal? It’s drowning in sugar to ruin your cholesterol,” Namjoon says in a comically cheesy voice, like the ones on the commercials.

 

Jungkook smiles softly. “I think I’ll just have the bran.”

 

“Bran? Jungkook, you gotta live a little,” Namjoon lectures as he pulls out a suitably sized bowl and places it in front of the teen. “You’re a twig. I mean – so is Taehyung, but at least he’s trying to gain weight. You saw the way he inhaled that box of donuts, didn’t you? It was impressive for someone of his size.”

 

“I’m fine, hyung. Bran is healthy and good for your cholesterol,” Jungkook insists.

 

Namjoon’s eyes soften. “You know, Tae doesn’t care about your body weight, right?”

 

Jungkook stares down at his bowl of cereal, leaving Namjoon’s query to hang in the air.

 

“Jungkook. He’s not like Yukwon.”

 

“I know,” murmurs Jungkook, his voice little over a whisper.

 

“Then please – ”

 

“Good morning, hyung!” They both whip their heads around in time to see Taehyung stroll through the archway, a towel hanging loosely around his waist and the other he uses to towel off his wet hair. Jungkook wants to burst into flames at the alluring side, burying his face into his hands to hide his reddened features.

 

“Morning Tae,” Namjoon smiles. “I was just about to feed Jungkookie some of your Lucky Charms.”

 

“Hyung!”

 

“Oh stop playing by the rules, Jungkookie,” Namjoon chides without any real bite, whipping out the cereal box and placing it in front of Jungkook’s bowl. Taehyung claps his hands excitedly before settling down in the stool to Jungkook’s right, sweeping in to briefly steal a kiss from his boyfriend’s cheek.

 

“Please, it’s too early in the morning for this,” Jungkook groans. His face couldn’t get anymore red with embarrassment – particularly when he remembers what his boyfriend was doing before he got out of the shower.

 

“It’s never too early in the morning for love,” Taehyung emphasized dramatically.

 

“Which reminds me,” says Namjoon as he’s placing another bowl on the counter for Taehyung. “I got what you wanted from the pharmacy.” He reaches into the disarray of plastic grocery bags to present a small paper bag, the very one he had been carrying with his mouth before.

 

“Oh,” Taehyung blushes, snatching the paper bag and hiding it in his lap. “Thanks.”

 

“What is that?” Jungkook’s eyes narrow suspiciously. It isn’t like Taehyung to be so secretive.

 

“Oh it’s cream for his foot fungus,” Namjoon explains easily, teetering over to the fridge to get the milk.

 

“Foot fungus?” Jungkook straightens. “Why did you associate love with foot fungus? And Tae, why didn’t you tell me?”

 

Taehyung scratches his cheek; leering at the back of Namjoon’s head as though he’s hoping it’ll catch fire. “I was embarrassed. It’s… kind of gross…”

 

There was a time Jungkook used to be gullible, but time has taught him to be skeptical, and he’s definitely suspicious of Taehyung’s excuse. There has been no mention of irritation in the past – no prior mention or allusion to the issue up until this point. Taehyung would’ve let something slip about it by now – whether to tell Namjoon and Jin about it, or when he’s pulling off his socks before hopping into bed at night.

 

But, Jungkook doesn’t push any further on the topic. He reluctantly eats the Lucky Charms, much to Namjoon’s satisfaction, and afterwards watches Taehyung disappear back into his room with the paper bag. When he returns minutes later, the paper bag is nowhere to be found.

 

 

*~*~*

 

Jin stirs the pasta sauce languidly with a wooden spoon, glancing at Jungkook as he picks out a strand of spaghetti with a pair of tongs from the bigger pot and sticks it in his mouth. He appraises the boy’s facial expression as he chews, trying to anticipate his response before he expresses it verbally.

 

When Jungkook’s expression alludes to nothing, Jin asks, “Is it ready?”

 

“Yeah, I think so. Do you want me to pour it into the strainer?”

 

Jin rolls his eyes. “Don’t be silly. It’s far too heavy. Just go clean your hands in the bathroom and I’ll take care of the rest.”

 

Jungkook nods obediently before wandering into the living room, finding Namjoon immersed in whatever is on his computer with Taehyung sitting beside him, flipping through the channels in boredom.

 

“Dinner's almost ready,” he announces in a quiet voice. They both look over at him before Namjoon rises from the couch, working away a kink in his neck. Taehyung jumps up too, throwing the remote onto the couch cushions as though he’s been waiting to do it all evening.

 

“Finally!” Taehyung exclaims, sauntering over to Jungkook to give him an Eskimo kiss before entering the kitchen. “Aren’t you coming, Kookie?” Taehyung calls over his shoulder, teetering over to the overhead cupboards and starts pulling out bowls.

 

“In a minute,” he answers. “I’m just going to go wash my hands.”

 

Namjoon reaches out to ruffle his head of hair before following Taehyung’s example in setting up the table. Jungkook takes one last glance over his shoulder before disappearing into the hallway, only to speed walk straight past the main bathroom and towards Taehyung’s bedroom.

 

It’s been bothering him all day – that silly little paper bag. He’s never been one to be nosy or curious – he’s been trained to keep to his own business after all, but there’s just something about the discretion of Namjoon and Taehyung’s exchange that bothers him greatly. Why would Taehyung feel the need to keep anything secret from him? Granted, Jungkook hasn’t been completely open and honest either – at least, not to the extent he wishes he were. Perhaps pursuing his curiosity may be a tab bit hypocritical, but once he’s snuck into Taehyung’s room he can’t really find it in himself to care too much.

 

He starts with the obvious hiding spot: the wardrobe. He knows he has to be quick or else the others will start to suspect something. He can only be washing his hands for so long. After whisking through the clothes in Taehyung’s closet and checking the sock drawers, he starts checking the nightstand drawers. When he comes up with nothing, his eyes scan around the room for any place Taehyung could have potentially hidden the bag – he knows it’s in here somewhere. The fact that Taehyung even went to the effort to hide it so well only piques his interest further.

 

His eyes slowly settle on the bed, and he mentally slaps himself for not suspecting sooner. He drops to his hands and knees and checks under the bed. Luck is on his side. Amongst the crap that Taehyung has strategically shoved under the bed lies the small paper bag, rolled up behind a stash of lollies that look about a month old. He makes a face before snatching up the bag, peering over the bed just to make sure no one is coming before opening it.

 

He nearly chokes on his own spit at what he discovers. The first thing that comes to mind is lollypops – it was silly of him to jump to such a thought, but the plastic wrappers and flamboyant colors are what elicited the initial assumption. Upon further observation though, it’s clear that they’re nothing of the sort. They’re condoms – and there are a lot of them, covering the bottom the bag. There’s a tube lying on top of them that he’s almost scared to pick up, but he does anyway, turning it over to read the print strewed along the side.

 

He bites down on his tongue. Lubricant.

 

‘Strawberry flavored for your enjoyment.’

 

He throws the lubricant back into the bag and shoves it back under the bed. He hadn’t even known when he started to hyperventilate, only that he suddenly felt dizzy and needed to lie down. He’s flustered and warm as he flops down onto the bed, curling up against the blankets and fisting at the sheets. Taehyung wants to have sex with him. Why else would he buy all those condoms? Jungkook knew eventually they’d be doing that kind of stuff, he just hadn’t known it’d be so soon.

 

What should he do? Should he be honest with Taehyung? No, that’s not how things go. If he confesses that he isn’t ready, Taehyung might get mad at him, he might not want him anymore. What good is he if he can’t offer Taehyung pleasure? He has nothing else to offer him – no benefits whatsoever. Should he show Taehyung that he’s willing to do anything to keep him happy? He wants Taehyung to be happy – so, so badly. But lately, he feels as though all he’s caused is drama and confusion. Maybe this could be his opportunity to make it up to him? If he initiates sex, then there won’t be any surprises, will there?

 

There’s a knock at the door and Jungkook almost flinches. He turns his head towards the door, a little fearful that it might be Taehyung, but it’s Jin.

 

“Are you OK, Jungkookie?” Jin asks softly, entering the room. He slowly kneels down by the bed beside him, his face contort with concern. “Why are you lying down?”

 

“I… I don’t feel like dinner,” answers Jungkook, biting down on his bottom lip. If Taehyung wants sex tonight then he shouldn’t eat carbohydrates, it’ll make him bloated and gross.

 

“Are you sure?” Jin asks quietly. He reaches out to feel Jungkook’s forehead, frowning. “You have a slight fever.”

 

Jungkook blushes and nuzzles his face further into the blankets. “I-I’m fine. I’m just tired, that’s all.”

 

“If you say so,” Jin sighs, withdrawing his hand with great reluctance. “I’ll prepare some rice balls and put them in the fridge, that way if you get hungry they’ll be something there for you to have.”

 

Jungkook smiles shyly. “OK, thanks hyung.”

 

“If you need anything you know where to find us,” Jin reminds dutifully. “Please don’t hesitate to ask. Namjoon and I care about you deeply.”

 

“I know, hyung.”

 

“Good, good. I’ll have Taehyung check up on you later on.” Jungkook clutches the sheets a little tighter, pressing his lips together.

 

“Okay.”

 

Jin turns off the light and closes the door, leaving Jungkook to contemplate alone in the dark.

 

It’s hours before Taehyung finally comes to check up on him. It’s after Namjoon and Jin have already turned in for the night – he knows because he could hear them talking in the hallway. Namjoon was informing Jin that he couldn’t be around tomorrow because he had to go into the office, and Jin was deliberating whether or not to cancel the tutor because he wasn’t comfortable with a stranger in their house without either of them around. They had disappeared into the master bedroom before he could hear the verdict – not that he truly cared. He stayed in Taehyung’s room whenever the tutor came around, which was about twice a week. He couldn’t understand the things Taehyung was being taught, and he felt a little stupid when he tried, so he just stayed out of the way and let Taehyung enjoy the throes of learning.

 

Taehyung enters quietly, tiptoeing over to the nightstand to turn on the bedside light, casting the bedroom in warm shadows. Jungkook pretends to be fast asleep, barely twitching when Taehyung leans over to feel his forehead and press a soft kiss to his lips. His heart twists painfully, but he doesn’t respond to the sweet affection, not wanting to destroy the plan he had gone over in his head a thousand times already. He hears Taehyung release a soft sigh. Maybe Taehyung is annoyed with him? He has been a bit of a pain recently. How does Taehyung even tolerate him?

 

As anticipated, Taehyung vanishes into the bathroom to go get ready for bed. As soon as Jungkook hears the bathroom door close, he snaps his eyes open and shoves away the blankets. He struggles out of his socks and saunters over to the door, biting down on his lip before turning the latch to lock it. He can’t risk Jin or Namjoon walking in on them – he’d probably die. He wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of humiliation – forget ever looking either of them them in the eyes again.

 

“Kookie?” Shit. Had he really made that much noise?

 

He slowly turns around to find Taehyung by the bathroom door, clad in sweatpants and a t-shirt that he regularly lounges around the apartment in. He looks lost, his hair slightly tasseled and his eyes narrow. He looks quite handsome under the glow of the light. Jungkook knows that luck alone won’t keep Taehyung around for long. He’ll get bored of him eventually if he doesn’t do what’s expected of him.

 

“I-I’ve been waiting for you,” he announces coyly, mentally kicking himself for stuttering. He shouldn’t sound so nervous.

 

“You have?” ask Taehyung, his voice suspicious. “Jin told me you weren’t feeling well. Baby, are you feeling OK?”

 

“I’m fine,” Jungkook assures, his hands coming up to toy with the buttons of his pajama shirt. “I just wasn’t hungry,” he brushes aside flippantly.

 

“Then why were you waiting for me?” Taehyung inquires slowly, noticing how Jungkook is fiddling with the buttons of his shirt as though contemplating something.

 

Instead of answering him, the younger starts to tug the buttons loose, one after the other. Taehyung automatically assumes that Jungkook wants to show him something, like a bruise that isn’t healing or a scratch that wasn’t there before. He takes a step towards the boy, but his step falters when the shirt slips from Jungkook’s shoulders to pool seamlessly at his feet. Jungkook is looking at him through his lashes, nibbling at his bottom lip bashfully, and he takes this moment to appreciate how beautiful his boyfriend is. He wants to reach out and run his fingers down the pretty expanse of his skin, but he doesn’t move. He remains rooted, waiting for Jungkook to make the next move. It isn’t like Jungkook to strip so shamelessly in front of him. Back when he needed help changing, he’d kick up a mighty fuss about covering himself in a sheet while he changed. Which was ridiculous, but Jungkook had gotten his way all the same.

 

Taehyung tries not to react when Jungkook shimmies down his pants and steps out of them, leaving him in nothing but a pair of Iron Man boxers. He keeps his eyes leveled, unwilling to let them wander where they shouldn’t.

 

“Jungkook. What are you doing?” Jungkook again, doesn’t answer him.

 

Tentatively, Jungkook approaches, crossing the stretch of the bedroom to stand in front of Taehyung. His breath hitches as the younger cups his face, leaning forward to press their lips together in a soft, tender kiss. Taehyung isn’t sure how he should respond, nor is he certain of where to put his hands. Touching Jungkook’s bare body almost feels wrong, and he can’t quite determine why that is.

 

“You know my body belongs to you, right?” Jungkook whispers against Taehyung’s lips. “You can use it however you please.”

 

He frowns, pulling back, but not entirely from Jungkook’s loving touch. “Don’t say that. You don’t mean that.” Why does Jungkook speak of himself as though he’s no better than a toy?

 

“But I do,” Jungkook’s voice trembles as his hands drop to grasp Taehyung’s, pulling them to the small curve of his waist. “I’ll do whatever you ask – please, let me prove it.”

 

It’s wrong. It’s so very wrong, and yet – Jungkook’s words are turning him on. His body is responding on its own accord, hot blood coursing through his veins like an electric pulse. He leans forward on the balls of his feet and kisses Jungkook softly. As soon as the younger responds he deepens the kiss, seizing a firmer grip on the boy’s waist and nibbling tentatively on his bottom lip. Jungkook gasps gently, like the sigh of an angel, and Taehyung gets a little greedy and works his tongue inside the cavern of his boyfriend’s mouth. Jungkook is only compliant, always compliant, wrapping his arms around Taehyung’s neck and moving his tongue lazily against his, but never engaging in a battle for dominance.

 

Taehyung starts backing him up until his legs hit the bed and he falls back with a small squeak, and Taehyung looms over him, wedged between Jungkook’s spread legs with a dark look in his eyes. Jungkook shudders as Taehyung starts to hastily pull off his shirt, casting it aside carelessly. The younger props himself up on his elbows and admires his boyfriend’s physique, noticing how the previous skeleton of his frame has softened out quite nicely, despite still being terribly lanky for a man his age. But Jungkook doesn’t care because Taehyung is gorgeous, inside and out, and he wants to reach out and run his hands along his torso, but he decidedly keeps his hands to himself. He shouldn’t touch Taehyung without his permission.

 

“What are you thinking, sweetheart?” Taehyung asks tenderly, reaching out to cup the side of Jungkook’s face. Jungkook looks away with a blush.

 

“N-nothing. Do you want me on my back or my hands and knees?” Taehyung blinks. He’s caught off guard by the forward inquiry, especially when it’s spoken from someone as modest as Jungkook.

 

“Your back, I want to see your face.” Jungkook’s blush is positively endearing and it never fails to bring a smile to his face. He kisses him square on the lips before pulling at the shoestrings of his sweatpants, the loose material easily slipping down his legs.

 

“T-Tae,” Jungkook gasps, his eyes dropping to the bulge inside his boyfriend’s underwear. Taehyung grins, placing his hands on the boy’s bare shoulders and swooping down to pepper kisses all over his face.

 

“You turn me on so much, Kookie,” he says cutely, nibbling at Jungkook’s chin. “You’re pretty and sexy and so beautiful. You make me feel things that I’ve never felt before – things that I didn’t even know I could feel until now.”

 

His hands slip down Jungkook’s arms and glide across his chest, his fingers enclosing around the buds of his hardened teats. He pinches them softly and he feels the boy tense beneath him, gripping at his elbows. His lips brush against the shell of Jungkook’s ear, his breath fanning the pinkening skin.

 

“Does that hurt, baby?” he croons. Jungkook’s grip on his elbows tightens.

 

“No – ah!” Taehyung pinches harder, his teeth latching onto Jungkook’s earlobe.

 

“How about now?” he growls seductively.

 

“N-no,” Jungkook insists, and Taehyung believes him.

 

He starts to play with the boy’s nipples until they’re blushing and swollen, his thighs trembling as they grip at Taehyung’s hips, drawing him flush against Jungkook’s clothed arousal. As entertaining as it is to watch Jungkook writhe beneath him from nothing but the torture of his teats, the confines of his underwear has become too constricted for him to bare, especially by the time he has Jungkook hot and bothered from the teasing.

 

He steps out of Jungkook’s legs, despite how adamant his boyfriend is on keeping him in place. The younger watches him keenly through half-lidded eyes, his eyebrows drawn into a frown that Taehyung can’t read properly. He thinks that Jungkook might be nervous, so he presents him with a reassuring smile.

 

“Don’t worry, Kookie. I’ll take really good care of you.” The frown on Jungkook’s face disappears and he nods slowly, a glimmer of trust passing through his hooded gaze.

 

Satisfied, Taehyung hooks the elastic of his underwear and pulls them down, leaving him fully exposed to Jungkook. He stands there for half a second to gorge the boy’s reaction, frowning to himself when Jungkook takes one look at his nudity and turns his head away, closing his eyes as if mentally preparing himself. Taehyung ignores the little voice in the back of his head that’s telling him to stop, assuring himself that this is what Jungkook wants as well.

 

He removes Jungkook’s boxers in one fluid movement, and as if on instinct Jungkook immediately spreads his legs further apart, exposing everything to Taehyung’s hungry gaze. Taehyung doesn’t stop to think of why this had been Jungkook’s first response, or why he has thrown his arm over his face to hide his expression. He’s probably just embarrassed – as anyone would be in his position. He places his hands on Jungkook’s knees and kisses down the boy’s inner thigh, biting down on the supple flesh and eliciting a small cry.

 

He encloses his fingers around the shaft of Jungkook’s length, giving it a few experimental tugs. He’s confused when Jungkook jerks back, sitting up with a look of panic marring his expression.

 

“What’s wrong?” asks Taehyung in slight alarm.

 

“What were you doing?” Jungkook accuses, panting slightly.

 

“Pleasuring you?”

 

“Don’t,” Jungkook says softly. “Please, just get the lube.”

 

“O-Okay…” he frowns to himself as he rolls off the bed. He feels around for the paper bag he had stashed under the bed earlier that day, shoving away some lollies he should really throw away before finding what he wanted. He tosses the lubricant on the bed before stuffing his hand back into the bag to retrieve a condom.

 

“No.” He looks up to see Jungkook staring at him, his expression desperate. “No condoms. I want to feel you inside of me.”

 

A shudder passes down Taehyung’s spine and he practically trips onto the bed he’s in such a rush. He doesn’t even stop to question how Jungkook knew he was looking for a condom. He seizes the lubricant, only for fingers to snatch his wrist. Jungkook gazes at him heatedly, slowly taking the lubricant from his fingers.

 

“I can stretch myself faster,” he says, and Taehyung has to bite back a moan.

 

He sits back on his heels and watches Jungkook squirt lubricant onto his fingers, the translucent, pinky substance reeking of strawberries. The gel seeps over the digits in a rather lewd manner, but it's the way Jungkook slips them between his spread legs that really turns Taehyung on. He wants Jungkook to look at him as he traces the rim of his entrance, but the younger has his eyes scrunched shut, his lips pulled into a grim line. Without further hesitation he watches Jungkook shove his fingers inside of him, all three of them at the same time.

 

“J-Jungkook,” he hisses, snatching the boy’s wrist to stop him from moving. “What are you doing?”

 

“Stretching myself,” Jungkook gasps, tears collecting at the corners of his eyes.

 

“Baby you don't – ”

 

“It’s fine!” Jungkook insists, pulling out of Taehyung’s grip and pumping his fingers slowly. “S-see? N-no pain.”

 

Despite his instincts telling him to stop Jungkook, he sits back and allows Jungkook to take control of things. Jungkook knows his own body better than anybody, so he should know his own limits.

 

“O-okay. I’m ready.” It feels as though no time has past at all and Taehyung looks skeptical, but Jungkook doesn’t give him the chance to protest before he’s sitting up and squirting more lubricant onto his hand.

 

Jungkook reaches out and coats Taehyung’s arousal with the cool substance. He hisses at the temperature contrast, automatically clutching at Jungkook’s shoulders to keep him steady and composed. His boyfriend presses a kiss to the underside of his jaw before guiding him between his legs, the tip of his pulsating cock nestling between the moulds of Jungkook’s perk bottom. Taehyung runs his hands through Jungkook’s soft raven hair, brushing his lips across the boy’s forehead.

 

“Are you sure you’re ready? Are you sure you’re prepared enough?” Jungkook nods frantically, winding his arms around Taehyung’s neck and burying his face into his collarbone.

 

Taehyung frowns, placing his hands on the boy’s waist and easing him back against the mattress. Jungkook’s doesn’t let go, his entire body rigid. Taehyung rubs his thumb against the boy’s hipbone in an attempt to calm him, his other hand guiding his erection to prod apprehensively against Jungkook’s puckering hole. He wants to ask one more time – just to make sure that Jungkook is certain about all of this, but doesn’t want to delay the anticipation any longer. His boyfriend is waiting for him patiently, so, with great caution, he slowly starts sinking into Jungkook’s tight, constricting heat.

 

Jungkook whimpers and bites down hard on Taehyung’s collarbone, causing him to lose control and jerk his hips forward, tearing his way through rings of muscle until he’s halfway inside. His boyfriend sobs against Taehyung’s skin and it takes a deafening moment to realize what just happened. He removes Jungkook’s grip from his shoulders and pins him to the mattress, only to find that the boy is crying – big fat tears streaming down his face. He looks like he’s in agony, and Taehyung looks down and notices that Jungkook has gone soft as well. He isn’t aroused anymore.

 

Slowly, he pulls out of Jungkook completely, the pulse of his arousal slipping through his fingers as he tumbles down from that blissful moment of euphoria. Jungkook cries, because it feels like roots are being ripped from inside of him, and Taehyung doesn’t know what to say, how to respond to such a situation. He calmly contemplates his next course of action before rolling off the bed, vanishing into the bathroom for a couple of seconds before quickly returning, a wet washcloth in hand. He snakes an arm around Jungkook’s middle and manoeuvres him against his chest, using the cloth to gently wash the lubricant on on his boyfriend’s fingers, thighs and entrance. Once he has Jungkook cleaned up, he sets aside the washcloth on the nightstand to deal with tomorrow, pulling Jungkook close against his chest. The boy clutches onto him tightly, his bottom lip trembling.

 

“I-I’m sorry –I didn’t mean to start crying – we can still do this I promise! J-just give me a minute,” Jungkook whimpers between sobs and Taehyung sighs, feathering his fingers through the boy’s hair.

 

“No. We won’t be trying again,” he says firmly. “Kookie, tell me why you didn’t prepare yourself properly – you were clearly in pain.”

 

“B-because… because if I’m too stretched then you won’t feel pleasure. I-I have to be tight for you, it doesn’t matter if it h-hurts,” Jungkook hiccups.

 

Taehyung mentally berates himself for not reading the signs earlier on. Of course Jungkook is going to have a warped idea of what sex entails, there’s no way a low life like Yukwon would’ve treated him properly, especially in the bedroom.

 

“What about your pleasure though, Kookie?”

 

“It doesn’t matter,” answers Jungkook miserably.

 

“It does matter, baby.” Taehyung presses a kiss to the top of Jungkook’s head. “Of course it matters. You shouldn’t feel pain during sex. It’s supposed to be enjoyed by both consenting people. But… I guess Yukwon didn’t teach you that way, did he?”

 

Jungkook shakes his head and Taehyung sighs. “You weren’t ready, were you?”

 

“… No,” the younger answers honestly. “I’m sorry – I shouldn’t have started this – it’s just – I saw the bag with the condoms and the lube and I thought you were expecting it so I tried to please you but I couldn’t do it properly – Tae, I’m so, so sorry.”

 

“Please don’t be sorry.” Taehyung sighs, his fingers drawing patterns idly along the boy’s back. “I had a feeling you might freak out so I hid them. Hyung only bought them so that when we are ready, we’re prepared.”

 

“Oh…”

 

They lay in silence for a long time, neither saying anything, both lost in the crevices of their own thoughts.

 

“Promise me you won’t force yourself,” Taehyung murmurs, his breath fanning the younger’s scalp. “Promise you’ll tell me when you’re in pain, so that I can chase it away for you. I don’t like to see you in pain, because when you’re in pain, I am too.”

 

“I…” Taehyung can catch the hesitance in Jungkook’s voice and he shifts, cupping the side of the boy’s face and tilting it upwards so that he can look the boy in the eyes.

 

“Jungkook,” he says firmly.

 

“I promise,” the younger whispers, his eyes drooping slightly from tiredness.

 

“Good. Let’s get some sleep then.” He reaches over and turns off the bedside lamp, maneuvering the both of them under the protective embrace of the doona cover.

 

“G-goodnight,” Jungkook says hesitantly. Taehyung leans down and smashes his lips against the younger’s, the sudden contact stealing away with his breath. He makes a point of pouring all his emotions and thoughts into the kiss, holding Jungkook firmly in his arms. When he finally pulls back, mostly to give Jungkook a chance to catch his breath, he sneaks in an Eskimo kiss.

 

“Nighty night!”

 

“You suck.”

 

Taehyung chuckles.

 

*~*~*

  

Jimin paces around the lounge room nervously, eyes flickering up to the clock and keeping track of every minute that passes. Yoongi is sitting tensely on the sofa, eyes struggling to stay open as he tries calling Hoseok’s mobile again for the hundredth time over the past three hours. It’s well into the early hours of the morning, almost time for the sun to make its daily ascent into the sky.

 

Jimin’s fingers curl into his hair in frustration, tugging at his roots as the call goes straight to voicemail. “Fuck!”

 

Yoongi rises from the sofa, arms wrapping tightly around Jimin’s shoulders to still his boyfriend’s stressed pacing. “Hey, I’m sure he’s alright. Don’t get too worked up.”

 

Jimin loops his arms around Yoongi’s neck, burying his nose into the soft platinum tassels behind Yoongi’s ear as he tries to get his breathing under control. Jimin wants to calm down, he wants to go to bed thinking that everything is fine but even with Yoongi’s nonchalant words, he can see the fear and worry lingering in Yoongi’s eyes. He’s as worried for Hoseok as Jimin is, even if he refuses to show it.

 

Thunder booms loudly outside of their window, the steady loud pattering of rain as it hits the ground and the heavy tick of the clock is the only thing that can be heard throughout the apartment. Hoseok had left straight after dinner, pressing a quick goodbye kiss to each of their cheeks before calling over his shoulder that he was meeting a friend at a club in the city and that he wouldn’t be long. That was ten hours ago, and they haven’t heard from him since. When he didn’t come home at his usual time of two am, Jimin had started to get worried, calling up Namjoon to see if he’d gone to their place, but no-one had heard from him.

 

Jimin’s hands are shaking as they grip at the fabric of Yoongi’s bed shirt, voice croaking softly as he speaks into Yoongi’s skin, “What… what if he was hit by a car on the way home? What if he was mugged and is lying unconscious in an alley somewhere? Yoongi-”

 

Yoongi hushes his distraught boyfriend, hand stroking the back of his head and running his fingers through Jimin’s chestnut hair. “Don’t let your imagination get to you. You’re just making it worse for yourself. He’s probably just gone to stay at his friends place because of the rain. It would be the smart move seeming as how much it’s pissing outside.”

 

“But then why hasn’t he called? He should have called! We just can’t assume that he’s alright.” Jimin shakes his head, not listening to Yoongi’s words.

 

Yoongi opens his mouth, ready to protest when his mobile rings, the shrill tune echoing in the lounge. He releases his hold on Jimin and goes to pick up his phone, hesitating when he sees an unfamiliar number flash across the screen. He glances up once at Jimin before accepting the call, pressing the phone to his ear. “Hello?”

 

The stern voice that spills from his phone makes his spine stiffen, panicked eyes coming up to meet Jimin’s. “Hello, Min Yoongi? This is Senior Constable Ok Taecyeon, I have a Jung Hoseok in custody at the moment and he’s named you as his emergency contact. Is this correct and if so, can you please confirm your relationship with Mr Jung?”

 

Yoongi’s mouth opens and closes, words refusing to form as his hand clenches tightly around his phone.

 

“Hello. Sir?”

 

He forces the words out, “Yes, sorry. Hoseok is my roommate.”

 

He can hear a soft scratching noise on the other end of the line as pen scribbles on paper, the officer undoubtedly jotting down information. “We’re currently at the police station beside Hongdae University, it’s a 24 hour station if you wish to bail Mr Jung out now, or you can come later in the day as well, that’s fine too.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head quickly before realizing that the officer can’t actually see him. “No! That’s fine, we'll come and get him now.”

 

The officer hums in acknowledgement, sound of papers shuffling loudly in the background as he speaks again. “No problem. Please drive safely in the rain on your way over. I’ll see you when you get here.”

 

Yoongi mumbles out a soft ‘thank you’ before ending the call, fingers automatically dialling Namjoon’s number. Jimin’s brow furrows in confusion, not yet understanding what exactly is going on. Yoongi holds up a hand, silencing Jimin’s question before he has a chance to ask it and waits for Namjoon to answer. He’s about to give up and call again when the call connects, a sleepy and slurred voice spilling from the speaker.

 

“Yoongi, do you know what fucking time it is?”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes at the grumpy response, mouth set into a firm line. “We found out where Hoseok is.”

 

He can hear the rustling of sheets as Namjoon rolls over in bed, sharp breath huffing into the phone. “It’s 5:13 in the morning, Yoongi. Why are you calling to tell me this useless information? I told you not to worry, that he’d turn up eventually. He always does.”

 

Yoongi sighs loudly, slightly pissed at Namjoon for the lack of worry towards his supposed best friend. “Namjoon. He’s at Hongdae police station.”

 

There’s silence on the phone, the only sound being Jimin’s startled intake of breath at the revelation of Hoseok’s location. “What? Why? Is he hurt? Did something happen? He got mugged, didn’t he? Oh my god.”

 

Yoongi places a hand on Jimin’s shoulder, trying to calm the almost hyperventilating boy down. “Namjoon?”

 

Namjoon lets out a shaky breath. “Fuck… I’ll be there half an hour.”

 

*~*~*

  

Hoseok sits on the cold metal bench, head cradled in his hands as he works himself into a panic, breaths spilling rapidly from his lungs as he realizes just how much trouble he’s in.

 

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. How could I have been so stupid?’

 

Rain soaked clothes cling to him like a second skin, having lost his jacket at some point during the brawl. Shivers rack his body as he sits alone in the temporary holding cell, goose bumps lining his forearms as he rubs the pebbled skin, trying to retain some heat. It was meant to be an easy night, meet up with his dealer, pick up his monthly supply, maybe have a drink or two, and then go home. But of course, it all fucked up.

 

A girl started grinding on him on the dance floor as he was walking across towards the exit, ready to leave. He politely peeled himself away from her but not before her boyfriend came over and it all just went to shit. He doesn’t even know how they got outside, it was all a flurry of flailing limbs and macho displays of anger. Punches were thrown and clothes were torn, the girlfriend’s grating, high pitched screams echoing down the street. That’s how he ended up face down on the ground with a pair of metal handcuffs biting into the skin of his wrist, pink water dripping freely from his face as rain washed away the blood from his split lip.

 

He was lucky enough that they didn’t grab his jacket when they took him into the station, leaving the soaked fabric on the sidewalk as they shoved him and the other guy into the backseat. Luckily, most of his supply was in his jacket, but he still had a line’s worth in his pant pocket which they had found straight away when they frisked him at the station. He just hoped that they would be lenient towards him.

 

The guy’s girlfriend bailed him out pretty much as soon as they put his details into the system, waving her credit card around angrily and yelling at the officer at reception to hurry up.

 

His arresting officer had come into his holding cell afterwards, pulling Yoongi and Jimin’s details from his hesitant lips. He didn’t want to involve them at all, but he knew they were going to find out eventually anyway. Hoseok deliberated giving the officer Namjoon’s information, but he knew how that would look. Him, with drugs on his person and causing a fist fight at a club, getting picked up by a man that has known ties to the local drug gang.

 

Yeah, that would have gone down well.

 

Yoongi and Jimin were his safest bet, he only hoped they didn’t hate him afterwards.

 

His bangs are plastered down onto his forehead with water, droplets sliding down before getting caught by his eyelashes. He is so cold, but he didn’t dare risk asking the supervising officer for a blanket, like he needed to anger them more. His teeth chatter softly, eyes stinging in the harsh, sterile light and the sour smell of urine wafting from the metal toilet in the corner of the cell. 

 

He doesn’t know how much time has passed, it was already three in the morning when he was leaving the club, phone in his hands ready to text Yoongi that he was on his way home seeing as he forgot to do so when he decided to stay later. He never got the chance to send it though.

 

He hears the heavy thump of boots travels down the hall, heading towards his cell. His arresting officer unlocks the door and waves him out, leading him back towards the reception area. “Your roommates are here.”

 

Hoseok doesn’t think he’s ever been more relieved in his life to see the duo, even if Yoongi is sending him the darkest glare he’s ever seen as he fills out his release forms and bail payment schedule. Before he has a chance to react, Jimin removes his coat and drapes it over Hoseok’s shaking shoulders, enveloping him in warmth. “Do you know how worried sick I’ve - we’ve been, Hoseok? I thought the worst.”

 

Yoongi slams the pen down on the counter, startling the young desk officer with the sudden movement and noise. “We’ve been up all night wondering where you were and why you haven’t come home, only to come here and find you’ve been arrested on assault and minor drug possession charges. What. The. Fuck. Hoseok!?”

 

Hoseok inhales a shaky breath, fingers clenching and worrying at the hem of Jimin’s heavy jacket as tears pool in his eyes, making them glisten in the harsh light. “I’m… sorry.”

 

Taecyeon steps around the corner into the reception area, holding some paperwork in his arms. “Ah. Min Yoongi, I assume? Thank you for coming.”

 

Yoongi snaps his jaw shut, nodding politely in greeting before gesturing at Hoseok. “How much shit is he in?”

 

The constable only laughs at Yoongi’s blunt words, thankfully not taking any offence to his swearing. “Seeing as it’s his first offence we’ve decided that we’ll let him off with a warning. Security footage at the club shows that the other party initiated the fight and Mr Jung here was only acting in self-defence, even if he did go a little too far. The other party also didn’t move to press any appealing charges, which makes my life a whole lot easier. As for possession, there was only enough cocaine on his person for one small dose, and while we no way condone this behaviour, we understand if it’s just a onetime offence and will let you off with a fine. In other words, don’t let us catch you again with cocaine Mr Jung, or you will be doing time. Understood?”

 

Hoseok can only nod his head profusely, tears spilling from his eyes and tracking down his cheeks. Yoongi reaches out and shakes the constable’s hand. “Thank you very much, Taecyeon.”

 

Taecyeon nods, handing the paperwork to the wide eyed reception officer before heading back towards the holding area. “Let’s hope we don’t see each other again.”

 

Jimin rubs at Hoseok’s shoulders soothingly, trying to calm the sobs that wrack his body as Namjoon strides in the front door. Yoongi’s angry stare swivels towards the silver-haired man, his voice lethal as words spill from his lips. “Did you know?”

 

Namjoon’s eyes flicker up to the receptionist before returning to Yoongi, waving towards the door he’s just entered from. “Maybe we should continue this conversation outside?

 

Yoongi’s eyes narrow before storming past him, coming to a stop in the car park beside Jimin’s car. The rain has let up since they arrived, now only a misty drizzle rather than a full downpour. “Did you know, Namjoon?”

 

Namjoon sighs, hand coming up to rub the back of his neck. “He was arrested for drugs, wasn’t he?”

 

Yoongi nods, breathing heavily through his nose as he watches Jimin help Hoseok into the backseat of their car. He steps closer to Namjoon, pushing at his shoulders as he speaks. “All the nights he goes out to clubs and doesn’t come home until late, all the places he’s been kicked out off, how he struggles with work and money. Hoseok is a junkie, isn’t he? Please tell me you wouldn’t let us house a crack addict without telling us, Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon remains silent, the tendon in his jaw twitching as he clenches his teeth, no defence to Yoongi’s accusations.

 

Yoongi’s hands come up to his hair, pushing the damp platinum tendrils away from his face. “Fucking hell, Namjoon! You should have told us!”

 

Namjoon’s hands clench at his sides, eyes coming up to meet Yoongi’s. “I couldn’t risk you saying no. He’s got nowhere else to go, Yoongi. He won’t stay with me and Jin and he won’t get help. Last time something like this happened he was deliberating selling his body on the streets so he would have somewhere to sleep every night.”

 

Yoongi sucks in a breath at the last revelation, turning to look at the vulnerable boy curled up in Jimin’s arms. “You should have just told us, Namjoon. We would have taken him in anyway because he’s someone that means a lot to you. Sure we might have been a little hesitant to begin with and probably wouldn’t have gotten as close to him as we have now, but for you, he would have been welcome in our home.”

 

Namjoon’s voice is small when he speaks again, fingers twitching nervously as he looks up. “Please don’t kick him out. I’ll get him to work on it. He was fine until a couple of months ago and then he suddenly relapsed. I was waiting for the right time to talk to him about it, he can be very… sensitive about the topic. Something horrific happened when he was younger, I don’t even know the full extent as to what happened exactly, but you need to know that it weighs down on him, every second of every day. He’s broken, Yoongi. And I’m trying to figure out how to fix him without making him worse.”

 

Yoongi presses a hand against Namjoon’s shoulder, squeezing it gently. “Hey, we won’t kick him out, don’t worry. But I just need you to know that we would have appreciated some warning, Namjoon. This is not a surprise we needed in our lives.”

 

Namjoon nods softly, hand coming up to rest against Yoongi’s outstretched forearm. “I’m sorry. Thank you, for everything, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi gives the silver-haired man a small smile, patting his shoulder once before stepping back. “Go home, Namjoon. Get some sleep.”

 

Yoongi walks towards the car, opening the driver’s side door and slipping into the seat. He meets Jimin’s soft and compassionate gaze in the rear view mirror before sliding across to Hoseok’s fearful stare. Yoongi puts the key in the ignition, starting up the car and pulling out of the lot, embarking on their journey home as the sun begins to rise in the distance. “We need to talk, Hoseok.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 9

 

 

 

Seokjin meets him on the corner of a busy intersection on a perfect, spring day. The sun is out and the weather teeters along a fine line between warm and cool, never venturing into either extremes. The wind is gentle as it brushes against his face, and it’s weather like this that makes Taehyung appreciative. It only ever shows itself one season a year after all.

 

He stuffs his hands into his pockets and leans against the tiled walls outside a local ice cream parlor, the business only just starting to gain more momentum after the eventless seasons of winter and autumn. He spies a couple walk past hand in hand, the girl chatting her boyfriend’s ear off as he half-heartedly listens. They look happy, and it brings a smile to Taehyung’s face. He watches them disappear into the parlor right before Jin shows up, his attire scarcely casual for a man whose general wardrobe consists of suits, suits and more suits. It’s almost strange to see him in jeans and a white t-shirt, but he looks handsome all the same.

 

A pair of girls whisper to each other and giggle as they shuffle past Jin, likely commenting on how attractive the man is. Jin doesn’t pay them much mind though. The second his eyes spot Taehyung he presents an angelic grin, sauntering his way over to him. Taehyung kicks himself off the wall with a smile; opening his arms to accept the hug that Jin greets him with. It’s nice to have human contact. People have a hard time stomaching the sight of him let alone ever daring to touch his filthy self. He supposes that’s why Jin and himself get along so well though, because Jin isn’t afraid to touch him and treat him like a normal human being. It allows Taehyung to forget about his current status as a street dweller, and to simply immerse himself in the normality of pleasant company.

 

“How are you feeling today?” Jin asks as they start walking away from the intersection. The older man has picked a place for them to meet up with the rest of his friends, so Taehyung is simply letting Jin lead him where he may.

 

“My answer hasn’t changed since you asked me yesterday,” Taehyung grins amusedly.

 

“Well, you never know,” Jin shrugs. “Your health may have drastically changed overnight.”

 

“It’s unlikely,” he scoffs. “I have the immune system of an ox!” He beats his fist against his chest, pulling his ‘real man’ face. “Ain’t no common cold penetrating this exterior let me tell you!”

 

Jin rolls his eyes with a skeptical smirk. “Alright, well let me know if you’re feeling OK anyway. I don’t want that arrogance getting the better of you.”

 

“Speaking of arrogance,” say Taehyung. “Why are you introducing me to your snooty rich friends anyway? Are they looking for a charity to make themselves feel less greedy?”

 

“They aren’t snooty,” Jin defends. “Nor are they rich, either. You shouldn’t be so quick to judge, Tae. Not all my friends are from the local yacht club.”

 

“Right.” Taehyung rolls his eyes dramatically. “How else would someone like you make friends? When you aren’t busy with work you’re out bothering me.”

 

Jin smirks. “I’m surprised how little you think of me. Surely I deserve some credit for the generosity I’ve shown you?”

 

Taehyung matches the older man’s smirk, crossing his arms over his chest. “Not even slightly.”

 

They reach a small café that doesn’t particularly differentiate from all the others in Seoul. Unlike most though, this particular café is small, cozy and less crowded than the ones Taehyung usually walks past when he’s in the mood to venture further into the city. There’s a blackboard stand out the front advertising two for one deals and seasonal specials that ‘you simply cannot miss!’ A little bell chimes as they shuffle into the café, and almost immediately a figure jumps up from one of the booths tucked away in the corner, a short male with a grin that could rival his own.

 

“Hyung!” The man – or at least Taehyung presumes is a man – exclaims before barreling across the room, heading straight in their direction. He has the body of a bull and the face of a child, and Taehyung can’t determine whether he’s manly or not.

 

He pounces on Jin, but Jin is prepared, his arms spread and ready to absorb the impact of the man’s tackle. Their arms wound around each other and they laugh in unison, and Taehyung is so mesmerized by the touching exchange that he almost misses the figure that casually approaches them out the corner of his eye. He inclines his head to appraise a second man with equally youthful features, the locks of his hair a rich peachy color, and his skin as flawless as a child’s. He has a white cap on back to front and a pair of headphones resting around his neck, his jeans torn in a manner that Taehyung suspects was done manually. He has a black shirt on with white English text that Taehyung could never hope to understand, and a lazy essence about him that he finds oddly charming.

 

“Forgive him,” the peach-haired man drawls as he stops beside him, half facing Taehyung, half facing the exchange between Jin and the mysterious man-child. “It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Seokjin. Jimin has been anticipating today for weeks now.”

 

“And you are?” Taehyung appraises the stranger curiously.

 

“Min Yoongi,” he holds out a hand for Taehyung to accept, and he doesn’t think twice before shaking it.

 

“Kim Taehyung,” he grins. “How old are you?”

 

“From what Jin has told me about you, I’m older and Jimin is around the same age.”

 

“Ah, so you’re my hyung!” Taehyung bows politely and Yoongi waves it off.

 

“I’m not really strict on formalities. You can call me whatever you want.”

 

Taehyung is ready to insist upon calling Yoongi ‘hyung,’ because he really should be polite towards him, but is interrupted by Jin. They turn their attention towards Jin and the zealous man-child. It’s apparent that they’ve gotten the soppy reunion out of the way.

 

“Taehyung, I’d like you to meet Park Jimin, one of my oldest and closest friends – next to Yoongi, of course.” Taehyung goes to bow, but the man-child – Jimin, takes a step forward and draws him into a bear hug. Taehyung blinks, his composure slipping for about a fraction of a second before he returns the embrace with a silly grin. He has a feeling he’s going to get along just fine with Jin’s friends.

 

“Hyung has told us so much about you!” Jimin steps back and releases Taehyung. His hold had been so tight that he had ended up holding his breath for a moment there. The man-child is strong.

 

“Well,” Taehyung scratches the back of his head sheepishly. “Hyung hasn’t told me anything about either of you.”

 

Jimin turns to Jin and slaps a hand over his chest, his mouth falling agape. “Oh hyung, how could you? My heart – it hurts! It hurts!”

 

Yoongi pinches the bridge of his nose at the dramatic display before turning his back on them. “Anyway, we saved a table while we were waiting for you guys.” They follow Yoongi over to the booth with Jimin hanging off Jin with a big fat pout. They sit down in their seats almost automatically, Yoongi and Jimin scooting onto one side, Taehyung and Jin on the other.

 

It takes them less than five minutes to determine what they want to order, although granted, Jimin and Yoongi already had a look at the menu before they arrived. When the waiter came around to take their orders, Jin did most of the talking. Taehyung politely ignores the judgmental once-over the waiter flashes him just before disappearing into the kitchen. Jin makes a face of disapproval.

 

“So, what’s it like living on the streets?” Yoongi certainly doesn’t beat around the bush. Jimin nudges the other shyly, but Yoongi’s expectant gaze doesn’t waver from Taehyung. “What would you say is the most challenging?”

 

“Well,” Taehyung scratches his chin, rolling his eyes up to the ceiling in thought. He doesn’t take offense to Yoongi’s forwardness. If anything, he appreciates it. There’s no point skittering around the fact that he’s homeless, it’s apart of his unfortunate reality. Why disregard it? “I think dealing with the weather is the hardest, I guess. I mean – it’s not too bad at the moment, being spring and all, but summer and winter are just the worst.”

 

Yoongi nods in understanding. “I could imagine.”

 

“So what’s your situation? You two certainly aren’t the champagne sipping businessmen I was expecting to meet today.” Jimin throws his head back and laughs, his palm thumping against the table and causing an outright disturbance in the café. Yoongi smirks, leaning back in his seat.

 

“We live off paycheck to paycheck. Jimin just started university so we’re juggling tuition fees as well as the usual bills.” Yoongi has no shame in admitting this; even to a stranger he’s only just met.

 

“Oh,” Taehyung straightens. “You two live together?”

 

The edges of Yoongi’s lips twitch upwards. “Jin didn’t tell you? We’re partners.” As if to make a point the man slings an arm around Jimin’s shoulders and presses a kiss against his cheek. Taehyung bets his clothes his blush is darker than Jimin’s, and only because he had been caught off guard.

 

“That’s uhm… nice?” He isn’t quite sure how to respond.

 

“What’s wrong,” Yoongi cocks an eyebrow. “Do you have a problem with gay people?”

 

“A problem?” Taehyung scoffs, making a waving gesture with his hand. “Pah-lease, I’m gayer than a unicorn sunbathing on top of a rainbow of vibrating dildos. I was just checking out that waiter’s ass even though we both know he’s a catholic church boy who’d soon rather go into cardiac arrest than take it up the ass.”

 

Jimin grins. “I like you.”

 

Yoongi slides his gaze to Jin, who’s scratching the back of his head confusedly. “Where the hell did you find this kid?”

 

“Wait – ” Jin turns to Taehyung with an incredulous expression. “Since when were you gay?”

 

“Well it’s not like you ever asked,” Taehyung shrugged, pouring himself some water from the jug. “But I thought it was pretty obvious. I’ve only spat out every excuse under the sun to feel you up.”

 

Jin splutters, scandalized by the sudden revelation. “I knew you didn’t have a rare condition that makes you sensitive to the cold!”

 

“Yeah I can’t believe you bought that one,” Taehyung grins. “Don’t you have medical knowledge?”

 

“Yes but I don’t know everything. I’m not a doctor!”

 

“Calm down, hyung,” says Yoongi. “Your voice is going all high-pitched and whiny again. It makes you sound like a girl.”

 

“I do not sound like a girl!” He slaps his hand over his mouth when his voice cracks, his face going bright read. Jimin and Taehyung burst into laughter and Yoongi cracks a gummy smile, crossing his arms over his chest and pinning Jin with his ‘I told you so’ look.

 

“Taehyung, I feel like we’re going to get along just fine,” Jimin says as he wipes away a tear from the corner of his eye. Taehyung grins his signature rectangular smile.

 

“Jimin, I was thinking exactly the same thing.”

 

*~*~*

 

The sun shines brightly on the horizon, not a single cloud in sight on this rare winter day as morning settles over the bustling city of Seoul. The breeze is bordering warm and Jimin can’t help but feel like he’s ready for the season to change, shifting to a more pleasant temperature. Floral springtime air filled with laughter and joy is what everyone needs right about now, a change of pace in their hectic lives that the endless rain seemed to emphasise, dampening the mood further. He stops at a set of red traffic lights, head turning to peer over at Taehyung through the tortoise-shell Wayfarers that are perched on the end of his nose.

 

The younger boy is reclined in the passenger side seat, legs bent and converse clad shoes pressing against the car's dashboard. His arm is resting along the edge of the door where the window has been rolled down, the palm of his outstretched hand facing the sky in an attempt to catch some of the sun's warm rays.

 

A small smile graces Jimin’s lips at the sight, pushing his foot against the accelerator as the light turns green. “That’s fine. You know, just make yourself at home in my car.”

 

Taehyung gives Jimin his signature box smile and apologises, but makes no move to put his feet down. Taehyung had knocked on his door at the crack of dawn, fist pounding relentlessly against the brittle, old wood. He had pulled himself from bed, grumbling about weekends being for rest and how he was going to murder whoever was on the other side of the door. In all honesty, he should have known it was Taehyung. Who else has no regard for sanctities such as weekend sleep-ins unless it were his own? He’d barely had enough time to pull on a shirt before Taehyung was shoving him out the door, his arms tangled in the light blue, knitted jumper that he was trying to pull over his head.

 

There was a suspicious spring in Taehyung’s step, enough to warrant some hesitation from Jimin as they stepped into the elevator. Whenever Taehyung drags him off onto one of his schemes, Jimin is always the one that ends up getting the blame. It’s that or he does something he regrets… So many regrets. But another side of Jimin is curious, he hasn’t been out with Taehyung since Jungkook had become a constant in their lives, and he had started to think that he had been replaced by the younger boy.

 

Though, he’d be lying if he said that he hasn’t fallen for adorable boy as well, all cute smiles and pinch worthy cheeks that Jimin exploits to the maximum. He loves overplaying his affection towards Kookie and watching how protective Tae gets, always trying to place his body between the two to prevent Jimin from getting too handsy. He’s pretty sure Jungkook likes the attention, reluctant at first but always becoming mush in Jimin’s tight hugs.

 

A soft voice brings him out of his thoughts, “Hyung, is everything alright with you and Hoseok? Namjoon told us about what happened, about how he was arrested.”

 

Jimin’s teeth worry at his bottom lip at the mention of Hoseok, not knowing how much of the specifics Taehyung actually knows. “It’s… It’s been a bit tense. We had a talk when we got home and cleared the air slightly, but things are still a bit tender.”

 

Taehyung hums, fingers tapping against his knee as he stares out of the window, eyes scanning over the pedestrians as the car whizzes past. “I met Hoseok a while back, he and Namjoon would join Jin and I on our fast food runs when I was still on the streets. After meeting him, I started noticing him and seeing him around town. He gets his stash from one of Zico’s guys, down at the club ‘Insomnia’ in the centre of the city.”

 

Jimin sucks in breath at the mention of drugs, his head still reeling over the fact that Hoseok -  Hobi is a user. “So it’s been going on for a while then?”

 

Taehyung cocks his head to the side as he tries to remember, his violet bangs swaying softly at the movement. “He’s had his ups and downs. One year he was pretty much at the club every night, the next year I didn’t see him even once. It changes, something must have triggered him to start using again.”

 

Jimin’s heart clenches, remembering Namjoon’s desperate words outside of the Police station the other night. Something terrible had happened to Hoseok when he was younger, something that managed to steal Hoseok’s smile. Jimin knows that it shouldn’t be any of his business, that he hasn’t known Hoseok long enough to meddle with his affairs or have any say in his life choices, but he also doesn’t want the poor boy to suffer alone. Hoseok has been sleeping on the couch again, not having shared their bed once since the incident. Jimin can sense Yoongi’s wariness whenever he is in the room with Hoseok, still trying to determine whether the boy is a threat to Jimin’s safety.

 

Jimin can only hope that Yoongi will let up soon, looking past the label of ‘addict’ that he unfalteringly placed on Hoseok. Jimin wants to call his boyfriend out on it, wants to call him a hypocrite for stigmatizing Hoseok’s drug use when he himself suffers from something that society would frown upon. He hates waking up in the mornings to see Hoseok curled up on the couch alone, clutching at the doona with tight fists when he should be wedged between Jimin and Yoongi in their bed.

 

“Was he ever violent?”

 

Taehyung rubs his chin thoughtfully, finger tapping against his upper lip in contemplation. “To be honest, I’ve seen him lose his shit before, took on group of seven guys outside of a club while high off his face. Like I said though, his stability changes but trust me, Hoseok at his worst is nothing like me at mine. I’m pretty sure Snow is his choice drug and with all things considered, it could be a lot worse.”

 

Jimin shoots Taehyung a quick, confused glance before turning his gaze back to the road, puzzled expression on his face. “Snow?”

 

Taehyung barks out a laugh at Jimin’s naivety, wiggling his fingers at his friend as he counts off all the street names he can think of. “You know… blow, coke, nose candy, aunt, cocaine. Compared to a drug like Ice, and especially the batch of Ice that Zico sells, coke is a much better option. Hoseok probably just gets a mood boost, you know… chasing euphoria and that sort of bullshit. He’d more likely want to fuck you rather than beat you up, hyung. You’re safe with him.”

 

Jimin laughs awkwardly, Taehyung’s final comment hitting close to home. It’s not that they’re hiding their arrangement with Hoseok, but more like keeping it on a need to know basis. Jimin doesn’t need his friends knowing just how kinky he is, for the moment. Jimin drives silently as he thinks over Tae’s words, weight lifted off of his shoulders knowing that Hoseok isn’t dangerous and that he finally has some compelling information to convince Yoongi to stop being so cautious.

 

“So you’re not that close to Hoseok?”

 

Taehyung shakes his head, hand coming up to fiddle with the red beanie that he stole from Jimin’s apartment this morning. “Not as much as I am with everyone else, but I still consider him a friend. Even if he has been acting like a dick towards Kookie.”

 

Jimin hums, eyes squinting slightly at the glare on the road as he looks around through the windshield. “You never told me where we are going. We’ve almost reached where you told me to go and there’s nothing on this street, Tae.”

 

Taehyung finally pulls his feet off of the dashboard, adjusting his seat so it’s back in its proper position. Jimin is instantly suspicious again, for the second time this morning. “Kim Taehyung. Where are you taking us?”

 

Taehyung’s body is stiff, hands sitting in his lap modestly as he picks at the distressed material of his jeans, mentally preparing himself for Jimin’s reaction. “The beach, hyung.”

 

Jimin slams his foot down on the brakes, earning a cacophony of honks from the startled people in the cars behind them. He waves a hand out of the window in apology before jerking the steering wheel to the left, parking haphazardly on the side of the road to stare incredulously at his so-called ‘friend.’ “The. B-beach? You have got to be fucking kidding me, Taehyung!”

 

Taehyung winces Jimin’s sharp voice, biting down on his bottom lip to prevent the apologetic squeak from escaping his lips. “Hyung… “

 

Jimin jabs his finger roughly into Taehyung’s bicep, cutting him off. “No! You do not get to speak. Out of all places, the beach!? How did you think this would go down, huh? That I would be OK going to that place? You know that it’s the last place I would ever want to go, Taehyung! Or have you forgotten?”

 

Taehyung whimpers softly at being the subject of his friend’s anger, regretting surprising Jimin with their destination instead of just asking him to begin with. “I k-know, hyung. I wouldn’t ever forget about that.”

 

Jimin sucks in a deep breath, eyes widening and hands gripping at the steering wheel pathetically as fear washes over him. “Then why!?”

 

Taehyung’s arms wrap around himself tightly, trying to stop himself from falling apart as words spill from his lips. “Because I need you, hyung! More than I’ve ever needed you before. I didn’t want Jin or Namjoon with me for this. I love them with all of my heart but they always act like they need to protect me from the world. I wanted you, my closest friend, to help me deal with the things I’m going through at the moment because I trust you to give it to me straight.”

 

Jimin’s nostrils flare as he tries to get his breathing back under control, grip loosening on the wheel before slumping back against the seat. “I am and always will be here for you, Taehyung. But why does it have to be at the beach?”

 

Taehyung reaches over tentatively, hesitant fingers entwining with Jimin’s as he thinks over his next words.

 

“I’ve been working on my anger issues, for Kookie, and for myself. Namjoon has been teaching me how to box at his office as a way to let my rage out in a safe environment without harming anyone. He suggested I go to the place I feel the calmest and think things over there, you know? Self-reflect and come to terms with all the shit that’s gone down in my life. That place is the beach for me, Jiminnie. I feel most at peace when I’m near the water and I’m sorry - I’m so sorry that I’ve dropped this on you and that I’m asking you to take me there, but please hyung. You don’t even need to get out of the car, or even park near the beach. I just need you to hold me afterwards and tell me that I’m not the biggest fuck up in the world.”

 

Jimin’s thumb rubs soft circles against the back of Tae’s hand, eyes softening at his friend’s desperate cry for help. He hasn’t been to the beach in nearly a decade, not since his accident. He struggles getting into the bath tub, let alone trying to approach the endless depths of blue that make up the ocean. That single moment of panic and fear haunts him to this very day, altering his life on a daily basis. He’s a grown man and he can’t even take a shower by himself, how fucking pathetic is that? Maybe he should take a page out of Tae’s book and try to get better, try and fix the part of him that is broken.

 

Jimin sighs, pulling his hand away from Taehyung’s and putting the car back into gear, pulling into traffic. Taehyung’s hands are back in his lap, head hanging in sad acceptance as he waits for Jimin to turn the car around and take them back home. It’s not for another five minutes that Jimin finally speaks up, soft voice meeting Taehyung’s ears. “I am not getting closer than the barrier in the car park. You’re going out there by yourself. Understood?”

 

Tears spring into Taehyung’s eyes at Jimin’s kindness and sacrifice, blurring his vision as he leans across and nuzzles into the warmth of Jimin’s bicep, fingers curling into the soft material of his jumper. “Thank you so much, hyung.”

 

*~*~*

 

Jimin stares at the sparkling azure ocean through the windshield, the water rippling and glinting like a field of diamonds from the reflected sunlight. Jimin would almost call it beautiful if he wasn’t on the edge of a panic attack, his entire body frozen in place as the soft sound of crashing waves reaches his ears. His hands are clenched against the steering wheel, his knuckles white as the skin stretches tightly over bone.

 

The slight scent of salt drifts in through the open car windows, warm breeze swirling around Jimin and making him feel even more nauseous than he already is. Taehyung presses a comforting hand to the back of his neck, softly squeezing the tense muscles once in reassurance as he opens the car door.

 

“I won’t be long. I promise.”

 

Jimin doesn’t bother replying, not sure that his voice would even work if he tried. Taehyung removes his sneakers and socks, leaving them on the hood of Jimin’s car before stepping past the barrier onto the sand and slowly approaching the sparkling shoreline. Jimin’s eyes follow Taehyung’s retreating form like a hawk, body tensing further as his friend finally reaches the water, his toes dipping in the foam as the tide momentarily retreats.

 

Jimin knows he’s being completely irrational, they’re not at the surf, Taehyung is not actually going for a swim, and there are many lifeguards stationed on the sand. But he can’t help the dread that settles in his churning stomach, the spark of fear that shoots up his stiff spine as Taehyung pulls up his pant legs and wades into the shallow water.

 

Jimin clenches his eyes shut, the high pitched squeals of children playing in the water echoing across the beach.

 

“OK, kids. Everyone don’t go too far. Stay where we can see you.”

 

“Jimin-ah. I dare you to jump off of the pier.

 

“What are you, a scaredy cat?”

 

“You’re no fun, Jimin.”

 

“Hey, has anyone seen Park Jimin?”

 

He can remember the accident with perfect clarity, the humid temperature of the summer air, the sweat that clung to his skin as he played with his school friends on the grass of the lake bed. It was the school’s annual summer trip to the campgrounds, which he had been looking forward to all year, constantly pestering his parents about having all the things on the packing list and annoying Yoongi with how excited he was.

 

It was the last summer camp he ever went on.

 

He remembers the heavy pressure in his chest, the excruciating burn within his lungs as they filled with water, no longer able to take in air. His limbs thrashed uncontrollably and frantically as he tried to stay afloat, tried to keep his head above the water. Loud gurgling and sputtering noises spilled from his lips as he tried to scream for help, noises muffled by the constant influx of water in his mouth.

 

Hysteric panic consumed his thoughts as he drifted further away from the old, rickety pier, his wild thrashing movements disturbing the once still and peaceful water of the lake. He had honestly thought that it was the end, that he would never get the chance to see his family or Yoongi again. He counted the seconds in his head until he started to get dizzy from the lack of oxygen, losing consciousness in the body of water just as an arm wrapped around his waist and pulled him to the surface.

 

He has never been more afraid in his life. Now he doesn’t waste an opportunity to tell his parents, his sister, Yoongi, and all those that are close to him how much he loves them and how much they mean to him. He’s learnt that life’s too short to squander, doing what he can to live his life happily and without regret. It’s that mind-set that gave him the courage to finally voice his feelings for Yoongi during high school, developing their relationship from long-time best friends to lovers.

 

Jimin’s thoughts drift to that day.

 

The rain had come out of nowhere and Jimin hasn’t been prepared, deliberating on whether he would be able to run home from the bus stop or if his muscles would lock up in fear under the pelting rain. He is late coming home, having stayed back at school to finish his group project with some friends. He glances down hopefully at his mobile phone, wondering if his parents would be able to come and pick him from the dry sanctuary of the bus shelter, but he already knows the answer would be no. They would still be at work at this time, and Jimin does not want to inconvenience them and make them leave work just because he’s scared to walk home in the rain.

 

His nerves grow as the bus nears his stop, eyes widening in panic as the rain becomes heavier and thunder booms in the grey sky above. There’s a lone figure standing at the bus stop, dressed in a large black hoodie and holding an open umbrella over his head, hiding his face from view. The bus pulls to a stop, Jimin waving awkwardly in thanks to the bus driver before sucking in a large breath and stepping out onto the wet pavement.

 

It takes a moment for him to realize that he isn’t getting wet, peering out of his clenched eyes to find a black umbrella propped up protectively over his head. His eyes trace over the metal foundations of the umbrella, following down the central pole to find thin, pale fingers wrapped tightly around the handle. His eyes flicker up to meet the warm chocolate eyes that he’s known all his life, slightly obscured by peach-pink bangs that tousle softly in the wind.

 

“Hyung.”

 

Yoongi reaches across and ruffles the younger boy’s hair comfortingly, flicking away the stubborn droplets of rain that cling to his chestnut tassels. “Yah. It’s almost winter, you should know to always carry an umbrella.”

 

Jimin turns his head, nuzzling into Yoongi’s soft hand. “How did you even know to come, hyung? That I wouldn’t have an umbrella?”

 

Yoongi wraps an arm around Jimin’s waist, pulling him close and ensuring that he is fully shielded from the rain before starting to walk in the direction of Jimin’s home. “You said that you would finish at four and it started to pour at quarter to. I figured that you wouldn’t have taken an umbrella seeing how nice of a day it was this morning, so I looked up the bus timetable to come and walk you home.”

 

Jimin freezes at Yoongi’s comment, making the older boy stop as well at his sudden lack of movement. Tears well up in Jimin’s eyes at Yoongi’s thoughtfulness, at his thought and consideration towards Jimin’s biggest fear. “Yoongi… Thank you. “

 

Yoongi’s smile softens, entwining his fingers with Jimin’s and tugging softly so that they are moving again. “It’s no problem. I mean, what are best friends for?”

 

They walk in silence, Jimin sneakily glancing up to observe Yoongi’s profile, the sharp line of his jaw and the cute arch of his nose. It’s not until they reach the front gate of his apartment complex when he realises that Yoongi’s entire right side is drenched with water, having put himself into the rain to ensure that Jimin was fully covered and protected. He is about to exclaim in protest when Yoongi drags him inside the foyer of the building, shaking off his umbrella before stepping in after Jimin. “Do you want me to come up? Or will you be okay?”

 

Jimin just stares at the boy, teeth biting down softly on his plump bottom lip as Yoongi cocks his head to the side in question. “Jiminnie...?”

 

So many thoughts are running through Jimin’s head about how much Yoongi means to him, how he will never find someone that understands him more than this pale boy standing in front of him, and how he’d be an idiot to waste the opportunity of becoming something more. He quickly rushes forward, not giving Yoongi a chance to react before pressing a kiss against stiff and surprised lips. Yoongi doesn’t react at first, lips unresponsive under the pressure of Jimin’s. It’s not until Jimin begins to pull back, face and ears flushed red with embarrassment, that Yoongi finally reacts, dropping his umbrella onto the tiled floor and pulling Jimin back so he can crash his lips back down against the younger’s.

 

Jimin releases his hold on the steering wheel, leaning back in the car seat. So much has changed since then. Yoongi and himself have continued to grow and venture out into the world together.

 

Jimin opens his eyes, bright light of the sun blinding him slightly from having his eyes closed for so long. He lets out a deep breath, eyes scanning the shoreline until he finds Taehyung’s silhouette, making sure he’s still alright. He glances across the expanse of sand, skimming over the multitude of families and couples out on the beach, seizing the rare weather and spending the day outside.

 

His gaze falls on a couple chasing each other along the shore, not too far from where Taehyung is standing, laughing in delight as they fling water at each other, kicking at the seaweed that has washed up onto the sand. Yoongi had absentmindedly said that he missed the beach once, not that he went often, but he still would like to go and relax on the sand again. Jimin’s heart clenches in his chest. He’s meant to be the stable and consistent one that Yoongi relies on, the one that is meant to stop Yoongi’s suffering and help him get better, and here he is, shaking in his boots over some water.

 

If Yoongi wants to get better and is making an effort, then why shouldn’t he? His hand yanks at the door handle, shoving it open and jumping out before he has a chance to regret his decision and chicken out. The breeze is stronger outside of the car, his hair waving wildly as it’s tousled by the wind. He marches up to the small knee-height concrete barrier that separates the pavement from the sand and sits down on it stiffly, unable to get closer to the ocean. He’s not facing the water, but he can see it in his peripheral, the subtle movement of the tide lapping at the sand. It’s not a huge leap of success towards facing his fear, but it’s a start.

 

Taehyung turns around every so often to check on Jimin, his friend having surprisingly left the comfortable sanctuary of the car to sit on the barrier to the beach. An ecstatic smile stretches across his face at his friend’s courage, happy that Jimin had gotten out of the car.

 

In all honesty, and it was a long shot, but this is what he’d been hoping for when he’d asked Jimin to the beach. Namjoon would have surely taken him if he’d asked, but he wanted to go with Jimin, wanted to help Jimin as much as he wanted to help himself.

 

He turns back to face the endless expanse of glittering azure, his hands resting comfortingly in his pockets as takes a deep breath, the salty smell of the ocean overtaking his senses. The air may be warmer but the water is still pretty cold, his legs growing slightly numb as time passes, though he barely notices.

 

He closes his eyes, drowning out all the background noise of squealing children and laughter, and focuses only on the sound of the small tide as it laps at the sand and the soft call of birds flying above.

 

Unlike Jimin, he’s always found comfort in the water. He didn’t have many opportunities to visit the beach or the pool when he was living on the streets, but when he did have time and the change to spare, he would catch the bus down and spend the entire day just staring across the ocean and into the distance. He doesn’t know what makes it so appealing, or why it calms him down, there’s no particular or specific reasoning, it just does.

 

He times his breathing, not thinking and just enjoying the moment. Namjoon was right, he’s really needed this, somewhere to relax and unwind, somewhere to both distract him and to allow him to reflect properly. He’s been boxing with Namjoon at his office around three times a week, just working out his frustrations and having a chance to hang out with his hyung. The silent silver-haired giant has an aura about him, a feeling of authority that Taehyung can’t help but trust. He’s pretty sure that Namjoon has learnt more about him in the past couple of weeks than in the two years he’s known him.

 

Taehyung knows that there’s still a fucking shit tonne of anger inside of him, bubbling under the surface of thinly veiled rage, but he always feels so much lighter after his sessions with Namjoon, like a huge weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

 

Taehyung thinks back to what started all of these calming ventures, the breaking point as to where he actually wanted to get rid of the anger and resentment that eats away at him every day. When he’d found out that Jungkook was still in contact with his long time abuser, all Taehyung had seen was red, blood staining his vision as the unsteady lid on his emotions came off with a bang.

 

Taehyung knows that when he’s angry he becomes an entirely different person, his usual laid-back and playful personality replaced with a monster. He doesn’t black out, and he remembers everything that happens during his fits, but he can’t control it. He can’t control the fury that powers his limbs, physically acting out and beating the poor soul who was unlucky enough to anger him to a bloody pulp. He can’t recall how many times he’s calmed down to find blood stained fingers and the broken skin of his knuckles, before falling into a panic attack at the damage he’s inflicted.

 

During his time on the streets, his anger was a horrible asset in some cases. Other regular street dwellers and punks that crossed him from time to time knew to keep their distance, all of them not wanting to be the subject of Kim Taehyung’s wrath and fury. It had kept him safe, but he would’ve traded in that security and reputation in a heartbeat if it meant he didn’t have to forever live with it now. He’d rather be beaten and starving on the streets than live on the edge of insanity.

 

He can’t control the way his tongue twists his usual cheerful words into weapons of degradation and maliciousness, which is what he had done toward Jungkook. Turning what should have been caring and supporting words into spiteful verbal abuse, beating Jungkook down just like his abuser had done. Taehyung remembers how sick he was, and still is, at how he reacted, how he treated his boyfriend no better than the man who broke him. How could he do that to someone he cares so deeply for, someone that he may someday love?

 

He wants to say that he got his anger from his father. It was pretty much all that his father did give him besides a broken soul and a deep mistrust towards others, but hey, who’s counting?

It’s moments like these that Taehyung just wants to be normal, wants to have had a normal childhood with a loving family, where the only pressure was preparing for the future. He could have gone to school with a brother or sister and with a full stomach, come home to a safe and argue-free environment, graduated from high school with distinctions because he’s quite intelligent, finished his university degree and gotten a high paying job. He could have saved and cared for Jungkook without help from Jin and Namjoon, being mentally and financially stable. He could have been normal.

 

What was it about him that made people hate him? What about him was so terrible that his own mother decided she could live without him and leave him in the hands of his abusive father? Why couldn’t she have taken him with her when she’d left? Why was he never good enough to earn praise from his father, even when he excelled in school? Why was everything he ever did wrong and worth punishment? Why was he so unworthy of love?

 

Taehyung sucks in a stilted breath, body shaking as all the thoughts that he’s locked away in the back of his mind for so long come rushing back to consciousness. His knees wobble unstably as he’s mentally assaulted by all the regrets and insecurities that he’s tried so hard to forget, pulling his hands out of his pockets before his clenched fists rip the fabric.

 

He knows that he’s being unreasonable, that everything that has happened is because of his irregular childhood. If not, he would never have had the opportunity to meet Jin and, by extension, everyone who are now his closest friends. Nor would he have been exposed to the scene of Jungkook being beaten in that alleyway. If Taehyung had a normal childhood, Jungkook would probably be dead in that alleyway right now, body rotting away on the piss stained ground amongst the dumpsters, and no one would even care.

 

Jungkook.

 

His precious Jungkook, whom life has dealt with a shittier hand of cards than Taehyung himself, not that he’d thought it possible before he met the boy. He watches the boy constantly, always keeping an eye on him in his peripheral when Kookie doesn’t think he’s looking. He notes every flash of doubt that crosses the young boy's face, every hesitation and expression of defeat, every flinch when Taehyung moves just a little too quickly. He wants to cuddle the younger in his arms and protect him from hate and disappointment, which seems to be all that life has to offer.

 

He wants to hold onto the boy and never let go.  

 

Taehyung sighs, the soft noise carried away with the breeze as he reaches up to fiddle with his lilac bangs, pushing them up into the red beanie so that they’re out of his eyes. He wiggles his toes, feet digging into the sand underneath him as the waves lap softly at his calves. Why does he need to be so bitter? Why does his past have to dictate his future?

 

He going to try and get better, try to get a handle on his rage so that he can be the boyfriend that Jungkook needs, the boyfriend he deserves. He’s going to try and get better for himself, so that he’s never afraid of getting angry and hurting those he cares about, so that he doesn’t have to worry about losing himself completely to the rage that consumes him.

 

No matter how long it takes, no matter how many setbacks he experiences, he is going to get better.

 

All he can do is hope that Jungkook will still want to be with him when he finally does.

 

Taehyung takes a final deep breath, eyes soaking in the beautiful sight of the horizon before turning around and makes his way back to Jimin, his inner self lighter after having some time to reflect.

 

Sand clings to his wet feet, sticking to every possible crevice of skin and chafing uncomfortably as he walks. He smiles down at some children who are making sandcastles on the beach, playing around with their little spades and buckets. His jeans are tight around the tops of his calves where he had pushed them up, the folded denim soaked through and clinging to his skin where the waves were a little stronger than anticipated.

 

He finally reaches Jimin, who is staring in the direction of the ocean, brow furrowed in contemplation as he regards the sparkling ripples of water. Taehyung runs a hand through Jimin’s soft hair, making him jump softly at the sudden contact, having not seen Taehyung approach. “Hey. You got out of the car.”

 

Jimin nods jerkily, hands coming up to wrap around his middle as he stares up at Taehyung. “You’re trying to get better, Yoongi’s trying to get better, so I thought why the hell not? No time like the present to start dealing with my stupid fears.”

 

Taehyung’s hand slides down to cup Jimin’s cheek, thumb stroking soothingly at the swell of his cheek. “Don’t say that, hyung. Don’t downplay your problems, they’re just as important as everyone else’s.”

 

Jimin only hums in reply, reaching out to entwine his fingers with Taehyung’s free hand. “And how about you? Did you have an epiphany? A moment of sudden realization of how much of a dick your angry self is?”

 

Taehyung snorts loudly at the half reference, huge grin spreading across his face. Trust Jimin to make a Simpsons reference in a tender and sensitive moment such as this. But this is exactly why he came with Jimin, his friend always knows what to say to him to make him feel better, to diffuse the tense atmosphere and make him smile again. “Yeah, I did. Don’t worry Jiminnie, we’re fighters. We’re going to get through this and live happily ever after, riding off into the sunset with our true loves.”

 

Jimin stands and pulls out a drink bottle from the back seat of the car, leaning over and rinsing the sand off Taehyung’s feet. “You promise?”

 

Taehyung takes a final wistful glance at the ocean, lips pursed in determination as pulls his friend to his feet and pulls him into a bone crushing hug, nose burying into Jimin’s soft chestnut locks. “Yeah, Minnie. I promise.”

 

*~*~*

 

Fingers tug roughly at the roots of Hoseok’s hair, nails scratching streaks of red down the length of his sweat covered back and digging small crescents into the skin. Sharp breaths fan across his collarbones as he thrusts into Yoongi’s pliant body, the other writhing needily underneath him as he chases his orgasm. “Yoongi-ah.”

 

It had been almost a week and a half before Yoongi had let Hoseok back into his and Jimin’s bed, barely talking to Hoseok when they were in the same room. It made Hoseok realise how much he enjoys the couple’s company, how much he’s come to rely on them. In all honesty, he’d begun to feel like a neglected child, craving affection from the two people who refused to give it. Jimin tried to be civil, offering supportive touches and hugs, but was often pulled away by a protective Yoongi. It wasn’t until Jimin had come back from his outing with Taehyung that Yoongi had begun to let up, speaking to him again, cuddling on the couch, and not long after, inviting him to join them in bed.

 

He hates to admit it, but he knows that Taehyung played some part in it. The younger boy must have said something or reassured Jimin in some way that swayed the couple’s decision. Hoseok knows that there is still some tension in the air, that their relationship isn’t exactly the same as it had been before, but he isn’t complaining, he’ll take anything he can get. 

 

Yoongi hums breathlessly, licking and biting his way up the column of Hoseok’s tanned neck, leaving behind a trail of small red hickeys before biting down roughly, his teeth almost breaking skin. Hoseok’s hips jerk uncontrollably from the pain radiating from his neck, pushing him over the edge. Yoongi’s clenching body draws out his orgasm, his body trembling from the shocks of his climax. Yoongi whines loudly, hips swivelling desperately and legs tightening around Hoseok’s narrow waist to prevent him from pulling out. He wants to cum while Hoseok is still inside him.

 

Hoseok’s shallow thrusts begin to slow as he rides out his orgasm, his hand coming to wrap around Yoongi’s arousal to help him reach his own. He brushes a thumb over the leaking head, his hand tightening around Yoongi’s flushed length. He pumps the hot flesh with quick flicks of his wrist, twisting his hand on every upstroke and aiming his softening member to rub relentlessly against Yoongi’s prostate. It’s not long until Yoongi follows Hoseok into oblivion, back arched off the bed as spurts of cum streak his lower stomach and slide across Hoseok’s fingers.

 

Hoseok breathes heavily into the pillow beside Yoongi’s head, trying to catch his breath as he gently pulls out. His fingers rub comforting circles into Yoongi’s hip. He sits back onto his knees and keeps his eyes glued on Yoongi’s as he licks his cum covered fingers clean, pink tongue sliding slowly and seductively over each subtle bump of his knuckles. Yoongi’s hips give a small jerk at the arousing sight, hints of interest already stirring again in his lower stomach, but his body isn’t ready for another round just yet. His chest rises and falls quickly with every breath, appreciative eyes following Hoseok’s bare backside intensely. Hoseok saunters into the bathroom in search of a washcloth to clean up the remnants of their passionate exertion.

 

Yoongi’s fingers trail through the slick mess on his stomach, spreading his cum around slightly with his fingertips as he listens to Hoseok fiddle around in the bathroom. Hoseok had spent half an hour teasing him, bringing him to the edge before denying him release. Yoongi thought he was going to go crazy from the barely there touches and pressure growing in his nether regions. He was close to threatening Hoseok with calling Jimin and getting his boyfriend to come home and take care of him if Hoseok didn’t stop messing around. He bends his leg, pulling it up slightly. He relishes in the dull ache radiating from his stretched hole as cum leaks out and slides down his crack, undoubtedly leaving a wet patch on the sheets.

 

Hoseok slowly approaches the bed, bones cracking softly as he manoeuvres across the small mattress towards Yoongi with a warm washcloth in his hand. He wipes softly, almost affectionately as he cleans up the mess on Yoongi’s stomach and between his thighs, tossing the dirty cloth haphazardly onto the bathroom floor once he was finished. Yoongi smirks, rolling over and pulling a small packet from the bedside drawer. Hoseok settles on his side next to Yoongi, arm propped supportively under his head as he watches the other curiously.

 

“I’ve been meaning to ask you, with the way you act in bed and your general personality, I would’ve pegged you to be be a top? But every time we’ve done something, you always bottom. Jimin is the most beautiful bottom I have ever seen, the way he moans as he pleads for his orgasm. I would have thought that you would at least switch occasionally, knowing where Jimin’s preferences lie.”

 

Yoongi settles back against the pillow, the packet crinkling in his grip as he thinks over Hoseok’s words. His fingers tap against his sternum, his eyes gazing wistfully at the ceiling. “I… I prefer topping, but it’s just not an option at the moment. I can’t be what Jimin needs, I don’t have enough energy to keep up with him anymore. Later on, maybe it will go back to the way that it was. But for now… it’s just going to have to stay in this arrangement.

 

Hoseok narrows his eyes at the vagueness of Yoongi’s words, taking in the way that his lover doesn’t meet his eyes and the stilted tempo of his words.

 

Yoongi slips a cigarette between his swollen lips, flicking the metal lid of the lighter open with a loud clink and lighting the end. The cigarette tip flares red as he inhales, the small puff of smoke drifting almost sensually between his lips as he exhales. He glances over at Hoseok, packet outstretched towards the other. “Want one?”

 

Hoseok tentatively reaches out and grabs one from the offered packet with furrowed brows. He knows that Yoongi is trying to distract him, that he doesn’t want Hoseok to ask any more questions about the matter. And Hoseok won’t, because it’s none of his business what the couple decide to do, what arrangements or agreements they may have between them.

 

He places the end of the cigarette between his lips and leans forward so Yoongi can light the end, letting the question go and allowing Yoongi to steer the conversation. Hoseok inhales softly, holding his breath until he can feel the burn of toxic smoke in his lungs. He exhales through his nose, streams of smoke billowing from his nostrils as he looks overs at Yoongi. “You know… I never pegged you for a smoker. Isn’t it a bit stereotypical to have a cigarette after sex? Wanna be a cliché, baby?”

 

Yoongi lets his head fall back onto the pillow, licking his slightly chapped lips amusedly as he exhales. “I used to be a chain smoker, but Jimin doesn’t like it so I’ve tried to cut back. I don’t smoke nearly as much as I did last year. I only have one here and there now.”

 

Hoseok hums in acknowledgement, taking another drag of his cigarette and watching as the smoke drifts up to swirl around the peeling paint of the ceiling. “I’m not much of a fan either.”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes incredulously, snorting mockingly at Hoseok’s comment. “You, who is addicted to cocaine, looks down on one of the most common addictions in the world?”

 

Hoseok shrugs a shoulder, flicking off the ash into the small tray that Yoongi has placed on the bed between them. “I know it seems a bit hypocritical, but I got into coke because it gives me an escape, it lets me run away and forget about my problems… well, for a little while anyway. Smoking just seems like a waste, all it does is makes your clothes smell and fucks up your lungs.”

 

Yoongi looks at the thin cigarette propped delicately between his fingers, eyebrows drawn down in contemplation. "They also get rid of your appetite.”

 

Hoseok pauses, cigarette pressing softly against his bottom lip as he thinks over Yoongi’s words, eyes trailing sadly over Yoongi’s bony silhouette. “Then I guess we’re both running from something.”

 

Yoongi nods slightly, taking a final drag before putting the small remainder of the cigarette out, twisting and smothering the burning end amongst the ash. “I guess we are.”

 

Hoseok puts his cigarette out as well, the taste of smoke in his mouth too overpowering for his palate. “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

Yoongi barks out a laugh, arm coming up to rest above his head as he regards Hoseok. “Do you want to talk about your sister?”

 

Hoseok tenses, the barrage of words dying on the tip of his tongue as he rolls onto his stomach, his arms burrowing underneath the pillow. “Touché.”

 

Yoongi rolls onto his side to face Hoseok, his feather light touch trailing down the expanse of Hoseok’s back, appreciating the agitated, red skin from where he’d clawed. His fingers run along Hoseok’s spine, feeling the soft bump of every vertebrate before coming to rest on the dimples at the small of his back. “Why do people like us get to experience such things? Why does life reward us with these pleasures when we, as people, are so wrong?”

 

Hoseok peeks out from under sleepy eyelids, teeth worrying at his bottom lip. He understands what Yoongi is trying to say, it’s a thought that has crossed his own mind many times. He thinks about all the people that he’s slept with, how lucky he is from the amount of times he’s gotten high and hasn’t overdosed, how he has people as amazing as Yoongi and Jimin in his life.

 

“I think that if we didn’t have these things… we would be long gone by now. Life is only a compromise, a choice. You either decide that it’s worth staying or if it’s better to go. These things keep us grounded, they give us a reason to stick around on this hopeless fucking piece of rock and endure the suffering. I mean… you have Jiminnie. If that’s not reason enough to stick around, then I don’t know what is.”

 

Yoongi sucks in a breath, watching as Hoseok’s eyes widen in surprise at his own words. He stumbles over his words, stuttering in attempt to justify his words. “I don’t – I mean – Jimin is just an amazing guy and… “

 

Yoongi leans forward and presses lips against Hoseok’s chastely, cutting off the boy’s nervous rambling. “Hey. It’s alright. I understand. If you had Jimin, I’d be jealous too.”

 

Hoseok’s teeth worry at his bottom lip, trying to not get upset at Yoongi’s words. Another reminder that he is the outsider, the third wheel in this relationship.

 

A reminder that he is only temporary.

 

Yoongi’s fingers tangle softly in the sweaty hair at the nape of Hoseok’s neck, bringing him closer to deepen the kiss, leg swinging over so his thigh is draped across the muscular swells of Hoseok’s ass cheeks. They kiss languidly, arousal growing as lips slot against each other. Hoseok’s hand caresses down Yoongi’s chest, fingers dancing across the sharp edge of his hip bone just as the bedroom door opens.

 

Jimin steps into the room, chestnut hair tousled like he’d been running his fingers through it and tugging at it all day. He drops his briefcase by the door with a deafening thud and loosens his tie, tired eyes tracing indulgently over the naked duo lounging in his bed. He pulls off his dress shirt and slacks, kicking the dirty clothes into the corner of the room to deal with later. He crawls up the centre of the bed lazily, situating himself in the small space made for him between his two lovers.

 

Yoongi’s hand rubs up and down his side soothingly, thumb rubbing gentle circles into the skin just above his boxer briefs. “Rough day at the office?”

 

Jimin sighs loudly, eyelids already beginning to flutter from exhaustion as his mouth stretches widely in a yawn. “I’m working so hard to try and close this deal. If I do, the manager said I’d be in the running for the big promotion that’s coming up.”

 

Hoseok hums softly as he listens to Jimin, fingers carding delicately through the younger’s tousled hair and nuzzling into the soft skin between his shoulder blades. “I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully. That promotion is totally yours.”

 

Jimin peers over his shoulder sleepily, small smile gracing his lips as he presses a light kiss to Hoseok’s plump, awaiting lips. “Thanks, gorgeous.”

 

He turns back to face Yoongi, eyebrow arched scoldingly as he nudges his boyfriend’s nose with his own. “Also, don’t think I didn’t smell the smoke as soon as I walked in, Min Yoongi. You know how much I don’t like it. You could have at least opened a window.”

 

A sheepish expression crosses Yoongi’s face as he leans forwards, pressing a brief kiss to Jimin’s forehead. “You’re home early, we literally just finished and had one cigarette. Only one.”

 

Jimin’s eyes flicker up to the small ashtray that Yoongi had moved back onto the bed side table, eyes lingering on the half smoked cigarettes for a moment before tracing down the length of Yoongi’s flushed and exposed body. “Just finished? Does that mean I’m too early for round two?”

 

Yoongi smirks, eyes darkening as his fingers play with the elastic of Jimin’s underwear. “I thought you were tired.”

 

Jimin rolls so that he’s lying between Yoongi’s spread legs, strong arms pressing against the mattress at either side of Yoongi’s head as he leans down for a long kiss. His tongue traces Yoongi’s bottom lip before licking into his mouth lovingly, his arm curling up to bracket Yoongi’s head. “I’m never too tired for you. Though I would appreciate it if you would be able to ride me because I literally have no energy to move right now.”

 

Hoseok watches the exchange quietly before softly clearing his throat, drawing the attention of the distracted couple. “I can stretch myself out if you’d like. I worked Yoongi pretty hard today. I’m not sure how much energy he’s got left.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes soften at Hoseok’s offer. He’s thankful that Hoseok didn’t just offer up his already stretched body, because he doesn’t think he has the energy to be able to sit up, let alone ride Jimin. He really should have eaten more than half a slice of toast for breakfast. His limbs are moving slowly and twinging in protest from fatigue. “That would be great actually, thanks Hoseok.”

 

Jimin beams a smile at Hoseok, leaning down to press a final kiss to Yoongi’s lips before rolling away and tangling his limbs with Hoseok’s. He moves to straddle Hoseok’s waist but his knee slips off the edge of the bed, causing him to accidentally slam his hips painfully against Hoseok’s. They both groan loudly as Yoongi bursts into laughter, hand reaching across to tug lightly at Hoseok’s bicep in an attempt to get him to move closer to the centre of the bed. “I think we should seriously consider what you’d said that other time, Jimin. I think it’s time for a bigger bed.”

 

Jimin rubs apologetically at Hoseok’s hip before glancing over at his partner, lips pursed softly in contemplation. “There are still some things that we need to pay off, but we can start saving for a new bed if it’s something we want and agree on.”

 

Hoseok tugs at Jimin’s arm softly, free hand shaking in refusal. “No – you – no, don’t do this just for my sake. You guys should be saving for you, not spending money on stuff for me.”

 

Jimin frowns, fingers pinching at Hoseok’s ear painfully. “Yah, don’t be stupid. It’s an old mattress and it’s about time to get it replaced, so this is for us as much as it is for you. Even when we don’t fuck, you end up sleeping in our bed nine out of ten times. Trust me, it’ll be better for everyone if we get a bigger bed.”

 

A soft flush works its way across Hoseok’s cheeks, touched at the small gesture.

 

‘What am I doing?

 

I should be keeping my distance for when I need to move out.  

 

I’m getting too comfortable, too attached.

 

This needs to stop before it goes too far.’

 

Hoseok links his fingers with Jimin’s, eyes sliding over to meet Yoongi’s briefly as his lips curl into a tentative smile. “In that case, I think it sounds like a great idea.”

 

*~*~*

 

Jimin’s hands wring at the plush towel in his grasp as he shuffles down the hall, nerves growing slowly after every small step. He’s been noticing it a bit more lately, Yoongi asking Hoseok to step in rather than joining Jimin himself. At first it was once a week and then it just steadily grew. Now Jimin seldom showers with Yoongi if Hoseok is around. Is Yoongi finally fed up with his bullshit? Is he happy that Jimin now has someone else to bother with his stupid fears?

 

Jimin steps around the corner into the lounge area, fingers now thoroughly tangled and twisted in the fabric of the towel. Yoongi and Hoseok are cuddling on the couch, limbs languidly entwined as they watch the news on TV. Hoseok’s eyes flicker up at the movement from the doorway, gaze meeting Jimin’s. “Hey, what’s up, Jimin?”

 

Jimin reaches up and rubs at the back of his neck anxiously, eyes darting continuously towards Yoongi, who has yet to look over. “I just wanted to see if Yoongi would come and shower with me?”

 

‘Please say yes, Yoongi. Please.’

 

Yoongi’s body tenses at the question, eyes glued to the TV and refusing to make eye contact with Jimin as he answers, like the coward he is. “Can you join him please, Hoseok?”

 

He doesn’t need to look at Jimin to know how his boyfriend’s expression falls, how his lip trembles softly from Yoongi’s rejection. It hurts him so much to leave Jimin in Hoseok’s hands. He should be the one taking care of Jimin, he should be the one that helps Jimin through his worries, but he can’t because he’s so fucking weak.

 

‘What did we tell you? You’re losing him.’

 

‘No, I’m not. I just need some space at the moment.’

 

‘How does it feel to know you’re pushing the one you love into the arms of another?’

 

‘I’m not. I just need some-’

 

Yes, space. Have fun being alone, Yoongi. When everyone leaves your worthless ass, we’ll still be here. All you have to do is look in the mirror.’

 

‘No…’

 

‘We’ll be waiting.’

 

Yoongi’s jaw clenches and his eyes slip shut, an awkward silence settling over them. The deep baritone of the news reporter speaks softly in the background. Jimin averts his eyes, staring intently at the floor in an attempt to stop tears from welling up and spilling over. Hoseok’s eyes flicker between the silent couple, unsure of how to react to the tense atmosphere. He showers with Jimin nearly every day now, Jimin and himself growing closer from the intimate moments.

 

That being said, the last thing that Hoseok wants to do is overstep his boundaries, Yoongi may have agreed, but after seeing Jimin’s devastated face, he’s reluctant to comply. “Jimin, would you be okay with it being me again?”

 

Jimin’s hands still, fingers curled tightly in the towel as he turns and begins to make his way back down the hall towards the bedroom. “It’ll have to be, won’t it? It’s not like I have a say in the matter.”

 

Hoseok feels Yoongi’s body tense even further beside him at Jimin’s hurtful comment. His body curls slightly as he watches Jimin’s retreating form disappear from sight. “Why are you doing this to him? It should be you that’s in there with him, not me. He needs you.”

 

Yoongi inhales a shaky breath, glancing up at the wall as the pipes begin to moan from the faucet being turned on. “I’m dealing with some stuff at the moment. I just need you to do this for me for a while, just until I sort myself out.”

 

‘Stop trying to run, Yoongi. You can’t avoid us forever.’

 

Yoongi untangles himself from Hoseok, standing abruptly. His hands shoot out to grab his belongings off of the coffee table, shoving his beanie on and wrapping his thick scarf loosely around his neck. His hand hesitates briefly on the front door handle as he speaks over his shoulder, “I’m going to the studio. Tell Jimin that I won’t be home until late. Don’t wait up for me.”

 

Hoseok doesn’t get a chance to reply as the front door closes with a loud click, leaving him alone in the lounge room. Hoseok runs a frustrated hand through his hair, leaning back heavily against the cushions on the sofa. He wants to call Yoongi out on being a dick towards Jimin, wants to yell at him for neglecting the younger boy, but that would just make Hoseok one of the biggest hypocrites in the world. After all, Hoseok is the master of letting people down. He is the King of Disappointment.

 

He sighs loudly, finger jabbing roughly at the TV remote’s power button before shuffling down the hall, his fingers pulling at the bottom of his loose t-shirt as he approaches. He chucks his shirt onto the bed and goes to remove his sweat pants when he glances into the open door of the bathroom. He rushes forward at the sight of the frozen boy, his arm wrapping loosely around Jimin’s waist before pulling him away from the filled bathtub.

 

He pulls the shaking boy to his chest, arms winding tightly and embracing the terrified Jimin. He coos softly into Jimin’s slightly oily hair, lips pressing tenderly against his sweaty temple. “Why are doing this to yourself? It’s hard enough for you to have a shower. Why would you try and subject yourself to a bath? You don’t need to prove anything, Jiminnie.”

 

Jimin clenches his eyes shut, his hands pawing desperately at Hoseok’s bare back as he holds back sobs. “I need to do this, for Yoongi. He’s getting upset with me. I don’t want him to be more upset than he already is.”

 

Hoseok stills against the distraught boy, pushing Jimin back slightly to allow for some room to move his arms. He reaches up slowly, hands gently cupping Jimin’s flushed cheeks and thumbs brushing softly against his trembling lips.

 

“Don’t worry about Yoongi. You need to make sure you are OK first before thinking about him. He may be distant at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you need to do something as extreme as this to try and fix the situation. I mean look at you, you’re literally shaking in fear. This is all on Yoongi, not you.”

 

Jimin nuzzles into the Hoseok’s warm hands, eyes opening to glance up at the other, his eyes glistening with unshed tears under the soft light coming from the bedroom. “I know that I’m being an inconvenience though. Why do I need to be like this? Why can’t I be normal and do something as simple as showering without breaking down?”

 

Hoseok leans forward, brushing his lips against the swell of Jimin’s cheek. “There’s nothing wrong with you. I don’t know the full story, but I’m sure whatever happened in your past was traumatic enough to make you this way. I had something like this after… my sister. Trust me, jumping head-first against your fears is not the way to go, especially by yourself.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widen in surprise, caught off guard by the mention of his sister. He knows a little bit about Hoseok’s sister from Namjoon, but Hoseok refuses to talk about it when it’s brought up, let alone mentioning her himself. “How did you stop it, hyung?”

 

Hoseok gives Jimin a wry smile, not really the person to give inspirational advice. “I tried to force myself to forget and became dependent on cocaine.”

 

Jimin bites down gently on his bottom lip, shaking his head slightly. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think that would be right for me.”

 

Hoseok breathes out a silent laugh, hands sliding down Jimin’s muscular arms to entwine their fingers. "Yeah, it’s not a method that I would recommend. Now come on, let's get you cleaned up.”

 

Hoseok tugs at the strings on his pants, adding them alongside with his underwear to the growing pile on the bed. He grips Jimin’s hand and guides him towards the bathroom, moving to remove the plug from the bath when he’s stopped by Jimin. “Can we still have a bath though?”

 

Hoseok levels Jimin with a sceptical stare, narrowed eyes searching the younger’s. “You don’t need to do this, Jimin. A shower is perfectly fine.”

 

Jimin only shakes his head, stubbornly gesturing towards the filled tub. “No. I want – need to do this. Just don’t let go, okay?”

 

He gives Jimin a final, lingering glance, searching for any sign of hesitation before carefully stepping into the hot water, hissing softly at the slight burn. He holds out a hand towards Jimin, who is staring down at the water. He sucks in a deep breath and clenches his eyes shut, gripping onto Hoseok’s hand tightly, relying on the other to guide him safely into the water. Jimin’s muscles tense as the first leg becomes submerged in water, the steam licking softly at the backs of his knees. He breathes deeply, inhaling and exhaling sharply out of his nose as he tries to calm himself from the growing panic.

 

Hoseok doesn’t make any move to rush him, tenderly holding onto his arm to ensure that he doesn’t fall over and to reassure him that he isn’t alone. Jimin sucks in one large breath before pushing himself off the ground with the other leg and pulling it into the bathtub, now fully standing in the water. Hoseok hums soft encouragements into his ear as he turns to face away from Hoseok, leaning back so that he’s is pressed against the other’s bare chest.

 

His eyes remain closed, his nose tickled by the swirling steam as he counts down in his head. Hoseok wraps his arms around Jimin’s torso, hands coming up to rest supportively against his stomach and sternum. He moves in time with Jimin as the boy begins to lower himself into the water, his hands clenching, causing his fingers to dig into the soft skin of Hoseok’s forearms. His grip tightens the more his body is submerged in the hot water. If Hoseok is feeling any pain from his deathly tight grip, he’s keeping it to himself.

 

After a slow decent, Jimin finds himself fully seated in the tub, the water lapping softly at his sharp collarbones. Hoseok rubs his chin soothingly against the side of Jimin’s head, hands not moving away from their hold on Jimin’s shaking body. He can’t believe that Jimin trusts him enough to help him through this, to be his anchor in the moment. But he also can’t help but think that he shouldn’t be here, how it should be Yoongi here comforting Jimin.

 

They sit in silence for five minutes, Jimin’s shaking growing more and more severe as time passes. Flashes of images jump to the forefront of Jimin’s mind, the feeling of water filling his lungs, the pain of suffocation. His vision unfocuses, like when he was in the lake, the water distorting and blurring his sight.

 

He can’t do this, he’s not ready.

 

He can feel the panic building, his heart pounding against his ribcage. His lungs are beginning to seize up, refusing to take in air. Jimin’s whole body begins to shake, hysteria gradually taking over his consciousness.

 

Hoseok doesn’t say a word, only scooping Jimin up into his arms and stepping out of the bathtub. He places Jimin down gently, arm still wrapped tightly around Jimin’s waist to prevent him from falling as he reaches over to turn on the shower tap. Hoseok nudges Jimin’s nose gently with his own, trying to get him to open his eyes. “Hey, you’re okay, I’ve got you. Let me just wash your hair and then we can go to bed. How does that sound?”

 

Jimin’s eyelids flutter open softly, pupils constricting from the sudden influx of light. He nods his head in response to Hoseok’s question. “That’s good.”

 

Hoseok slowly manoeuvres Jimin so that he’s standing under the warm spray, squirting some shampoo into his hands before lathering up Jimin’s now damp hair. Tremors still wrack Jimin’s tense body, fear dancing underneath his skin. He’s such a fucking coward. No wonder Yoongi can’t be bothered humoring him any more. “I’m sorry, for not being able to handle it. I thought it would be okay.”

 

Hoseok shakes his head quickly, fingers still massaging comfortingly at Jimin’s scalp. “Don’t be silly. You did amazingly. Whenever you want to try again, let me know. I’d be more than happy to help.”

 

Jimin smiles appreciatively, lips pressing tenderly against Hoseok’s as he moves to rinse the suds out of his hair.

 

Hoseok notices that Jimin doesn’t mention Yoongi again in the time between their shower to when they slip into bed, the younger already drifting off to sleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. Hoseok holds Jimin close to his chest, fingers tracing delicate patterns against the skin at his waist.

 

“Hoseok. I - we care for you so much, you know that right?” Jimin all but whispers into his collarbones.

 

Hoseok sucks in a quiet breath, stroking at Jimin’s damp hair soothingly. “And I care about you guys as well. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”

 

“Thank you… for being here for me. You don’t understand how much I appreciate it, Hobi,” Jimin mumbles tiredly, his fingers curling into a fist against Hoseok’s chest. “I’m sorry for how we neglected you, how we alienated you when we found out about your vices. We should have been more understanding.”

 

Hoseok presses a kiss to the boy's temple, not verbally acknowledging the sheen of tears that make Jimin’s eyes glisten in the soft light coming in from the window. “It’s alright, there’s nothing you need to apologise for. I shouldn’t have hidden it from you two.”

 

Jimin shakes his head, his forehead bumping softly into Hoseok’s chin. “That doesn’t give us the right to treat you like we did. Here you are, comforting me because I’m feeling down, and we barely gave you the light of day when you were struggling. That’s wrong, Hoseok.”

 

“You don’t owe me anything, Minnie. I’m just grateful that you guys have forgiven me. You’re thinking too hard about it, beautiful. Just accept that it’s happened and move on.”

 

Jimin’s eyelashes flutter, gaze becoming unfocused as he battles to stay awake. “But you matter, Hobi.”

 

Hoseok frowns, his heart fluttering at the words. He doesn’t answer, only humming softly in reply. He doesn’t have it in him to tell Jimin how much the boy’s words are affecting him, how much he wishes for them to be true.

 

Hoseok knows that whenever he gets the chance he’s going to need to talk to Yoongi about it and get the stubborn dick to get his head out of his own ass before the distance between him and Jimin grows to unamendable lengths. Because as selfish as Hoseok is, he doesn’t want to be the reason that their relationship crumbles.

 

No matter how tempting it may be.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

 

 

Namjoon is sitting on an old, rickety fold-out chair in the garage, fingers moving rapidly against the controller as he plays a RPG shooter on the PlayStation. The sound of gunshots echo loudly against the metal walls of the garage, joysticks snapping from side to side as his character runs around on the screen. There is a fine sheen of dust lingering in the air, making Namjoon’s nose twitch in irritation. There’s no other light in the garage besides the dull glow emitting from the TV, washing the immediate area in an eerie blue. His parents are in the main service area, counting up the money in the till from the day’s sales and preparing the shop for closing.

 

Namjoon’s eyes flicker over to the small clock on a nearby shelf, bright red ‘2:07am’ shining from the small device. He’d been sitting here since 5 pm, having been called in suddenly by Zico with no other explanations other than “something big is going to go down.” That was 9 hours ago, and Zico has yet to make an appearance, no calls, no texts, nothing. Namjoon knew better than to try and leave though, he did not want Zico giving him shit about it later on when he does finally turn up.

 

His grease-stained dress shirt sleeves are pushed up to his elbows, fabric bunching uncomfortably at the crease in his arm. He had long given up on trying to hide the tattoos from his parents, the black ink adorning his forearm isn’t exactly easy to conceal from people that you live with and see on a daily basis. He still remembers his mother’s shock when she finally saw the well-known symbol that is permanently etched into his skin, her eyes widening with fear at the realization of where Namjoon had been getting all the extra money from, money that had kept the family out of bankruptcy.

 

They tried to talk him out of it of course, tried to get him to leave the gang, insisting that the money wasn’t worth it. But their protests had fallen on deaf ears. He had simply told them not to worry, that he had it under control because he knows what he’s doing. Over the past couple of years he’s been working himself up the ranks, becoming one of Zico’s top dogs with a ranking nearly on par with Yukwon’s. His reputation has all but steadily grown during his time with the gang, ‘Monster’ they call him, a nickname that everyone in the neighbourhood both knows and has learnt to fear.

 

Namjoon can’t help but smirk smugly at the designation, ego swelling with superiority and arrogance. He is feared, he is envied, he’s fucking untouchable.

 

A flash of light suddenly illuminates the garage as a car pulls up onto the neighbouring lot, tires loudly flicking up rocks and litter as the speeding vehicle struggles to stop, skidding across the loose gravel. Namjoon presses pause on his controller, placing it down on the floor beside his seat before standing. The sound of a slamming car door reverberates throughout the tin garage, echoing slightly as Namjoon cautiously inches towards the entrance.

 

Before he has a chance to reach it, the heavy, metal door swings open, rusty handle slamming against the wall and denting it. Zico’s shoes slap loudly against the concrete floor. He stumbles in and almost falls face first, pushing aggressively past Namjoon with a glinting silver briefcase pressed protectively to his chest.

 

Namjoon can hear screeching tires and the faint echo of gunshots in the distance, eyes widening and rushing over to where Zico was clearing out their stash. “What the fuck did you do?”

 

Zico doesn’t stop what he’s doing nor does he reply, the only indication that he’s heard Namjoon’s question is the shark-like grin that spreads across his face.  Namjoon’s eyes flicker back the entrance door which is still splayed wide open, his heart pounding furiously in his chest as the roar of engines get louder, indicating their closing proximity.

 

Namjoon tugs on Zico’s arm, forcing his boss to look at him. He stumbles back from the manic expression in Zico’s eyes. Hysterical giggles bubble over the gang leader’s lips, fingers twitching against the handle of the metal case. “I got it, Namjoon. Their latest shipment and cash.”

 

Namjoon flinches back violently, mind working in overdrive as he puts the pieces together. “Y-you stole Beast’s stash? Are you out of your fucking mind!? They’ll fucking kill us for this! Fuck!”

 

Zico smirks sardonically, hands working in a flurry to stuff the packets of cocaine into the empty duffel in his hands. “That’s why we gotta be quick. Yukwon’s distracting them for now but they’re coming here. Grab your shit and let’s go. We’re going to be fucking rich, Monster.”

 

Namjoon grabs onto the collar of Zico’s dirty, blood-stained shirt, shaking the delirious man violently. “Zico, my parents are still here. Why would you lead them here!?”

 

Zico kicks Namjoon in the shin with his steel capped boots, shoving the younger boy to the ground as headlights shine into the garage, the cars speeding towards the lot. “You said they’d be gone by now so it’s not my fucking problem. And you should’ve thought about that before making this place our HQ. It was nice knowing you kid. If you don’t die, come find me and I’ll give you a cut of the score.”

 

Namjoon scrambles to his feet, shoes struggling to find purchase on the slick concrete flooring as he splutters expletives. He glances up just in time to see Zico run out the back door, bags slung securely over his shoulders and silver briefcase in his hand. Namjoon bolts out of the garage as a car pulls into the parking lot, his legs pounding quickly against the asphalt in an attempt to get to his parents. He needs to get them the fuck out of here.

 

He shoves the glass door open, the customer bell ringing tauntingly throughout the service area as glances around the shop, trying to locate his parents. His mother is at the counter, laughing loudly at his father, who is struggling with the buttons on the calculator, both of them oblivious to the approaching danger.

 

Namjoon’s mum looks up at the noise, confused smile gracing her lips at her son’s sudden and panicked entrance. “Namjoon? What’s going-”

 

Time slows down, almost coming to a complete halt. Each tick of the clock is too loud, echoing loudly alongside the deafening beat of his heart. Every step that he takes too painful, feet slamming uselessly against the off-white linoleum floor as he tries to warn them. His eyes glance out of the window just as a hooded figure steps out of the car, small submachine gun visible in his hands.

 

The windows shatter, glass shards flying in all directions and embedding into his skin. He watches helplessly as his parents dive onto the floor behind the counter, trying to evade the onslaught of heavy fire. Bullet holes line the back wall where they’ve punctured and passed through the plaster. Oil spills down the shelves and streak across the floor as the bottles are hit. The smell of it makes his eyes water, choking on the stench of motor oil and acrid smell of smoke. He tries to call out, to tell his parents to run and hide, but is hit before he gets a chance.

 

A bullet slices through the meat of his thigh, a clean shot, through and through. His body drops heavily to the floor, muscles in his injured leg spasming and no longer able to support his weight. He presses a hand against the gushing wound, trying to keep pressure on it. His other hand curls against the floor, nails clenching and biting painfully into the linoleum. Tears fall freely from his eyes, rivulets tracking down and staining his cheeks as agonised tremors wrack his body.

 

He sucks in a deep breath, propping himself onto his forearm and dragging himself across the floor while simultaneously keeping pressure on his wound. He keeps his head low as he crawls, attempting to avoid the never ending spray of bullets. Oil seeps through his clothes, saturating his body in the pungent, viscous liquid.

 

“Mum!? Dad!?”

 

His arm slips out from underneath him as he turns the corner, chin smacking against the floor and causing pain to shoot up his gums. He glances up at the counter with unfocused, teary eyes, so consumed with trying to locate his parents that he hasn’t yet realised that the air is still, that the men outside have ceased fire.

 

His bloodied fingers grip onto the edge of the counter, muscles tightening in preparation to pull him the final length when a heavy, steel-capped boot slams into his side. He flips onto his back from the sheer force of the kick, breath forced out of his lungs as the tall man towering over him presses his heavy boot against Namjoon’s sternum. He can only hope that his parents will stay hidden and quiet behind the counter, not revealing themselves to whoever is attacking. Namjoon blinks, tear-blurred vision coming into focus as he identifies the figure.

 

Yoon Doojoon. Leader of Beast.

 

The gang leader gives him a critical look, eyes raking over the length of Namjoon’s shaking body, from the oil matted mess of his silver hair, to the stained converse shoes adorning his feet. He shakes his head, bitter smile gracing his lips. “Tsk tsk. I seem to have caught myself a Monster.”

 

Doojoon removes his foot, squatting down besides Namjoon, careful not to dip his coat into the mess on the floor. “I’m disappointed. I had hoped that Zico would be here. His car is still in the lot. Be a good little boy and tell me where your imbecile of a leader has gone.”

 

Sweat dots Namjoon’s brow, fear spiking at the leaders proximity as he barely manages to wheeze out, “He fucking ran like the coward he is. Grabbed all of our shit and bolted. Why the fuck would he steal from you!? Fuck!”

 

Doojoon’s grin falters slightly, eyes shooting up to meet the younger’s. “You’re telling me you had no idea that Zico was coming for our shit? You. One of his closest confidantes.”

 

Namjoon laughs bitterly, head lolling back against the floor. “Like he would tell me about something like this. He knew I would’ve been against it. And closest confidante? I don’t think so, he’s left me here to die, hasn’t he?”

 

Doojoon half-heartedly shrugs a shoulder, pushing himself to his feet and pulling a sleek handgun from the waistband of his pants. “Well… I can’t argue with you there.”

 

He manoeuvres so he’s standing on the other side of Namjoon, gun pointing down at the centre of Namjoon’s forehead. Namjoon catches the leader glancing over the counter just before shutting his eyes, fists clenched at his sides as he awaits death.

 

He hears the click of the safety and prays to god that his parents won’t rush out, he prays that they stay hidden.

 

‘I’m sorry, Mum. I’m sorry, Dad. Please forgive me.

 

There’s a soft squeak as Doojoon’s finger tightens on the trigger, loud bang slicing through the air of the early morning. Crippling pain erupts from his shoulder, causing his eyes to fly open and stare incredulously at Doojoon’s retreating form. His hand automatically shoots up to press against the gushing wound, head spinning and dizzy from the amount of blood that he’s lost.

 

His teeth grit together, eyelids drooping as he stutters, “w-why?”

 

Doojoon shoots the boy a steady look over his shoulder, tucking the handgun back into his pants. “It’s not you we want. Plus… it seems like we have taken enough from you anyway. Get out of the business, kid… while you still can.”

 

Namjoon stares up blearily before glancing over to the counter, realisation and dread settling deep into the bottom of his gut. With a surge of adrenaline, he manages to push himself onto his stomach, wound maintenance forgotten entirely as he frantically scrambles the final distance to the counter. There’s really no point though, he already knows what he’s going to find.

 

Bile rises up his throat, his dinner making a reappearance as he heaves violently, body shaking with sobs and devastated screams.

 

Blood. The entire area behind the counter is slick with blood, the coppery scent of it only making him gag further. He falls forward again, arms unable to hold himself up at the brutal and gruesome sight.

 

He stretches his arm out, fingertips brushing through the thick puddle of warm blood before reaching those of his mother. Blank, lifeless eyes stare back at him as he nudges her softly but desperately with his hand. “E-eomma?”

 

Pathetic whimpers escape his throat when there’s no response. It’s ironic how his physical pain is now completely forgotten. He would take the pain of a gunshot any day, every day if it meant that he would never have to feel what he’s feeling now. The visceral and raw emotion is tearing him apart on the inside, leaving only anguish and torment in its wake as he flirts with the edge of sanity. His mind is collapsing in on itself and he can’t do anything but stare into the dead eyes of his parents, their bodies mangled and littered with bullet holes.

 

His eyelids become heavy, body slumping as he loses the final burst of energy that his body had managed to muster up from thin air. He curls his fingers against his mother’s cooling one's, eyes watching sleepily as the store illuminates red and blue from the flashing lights of the police and ambulance.

 

He mutters repeatedly to himself, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

 

He can barely hear the panicked voices of people that are standing in the lot. He’s barely able to process the snapping of the gurney as the paramedics gently pry his fingers from his mother's.

 

All he can hear are the final words that slip from his lips just before he loses consciousness, the lull of eternal sleep calling out to him seductively.

 

“Please… Just let me die.”

 

*~*~*

 

Taehyung starts automatically cleaning up the plates and side bowls once everyone has finished eating, purposely brushing his fingers along Jungkook’s arm when he reaches over to collect his dishes, eliciting a shy blush.

 

Jin watches the exchanges with a small smile, quietly thanking Taehyung as he teeters around to his side of the table to take his empty plates and bowls. It’s been a relatively peaceful evening, with Taehyung dictating most of the conversation around the dinner table while the rest of them make occasional input. Jin had, with great subtlety, noticed Namjoon’s less than engaging behavior whenever he was prompted to respond, and although Taehyung and Jungkook thought nothing of it, Jin knew Namjoon better than anyone. He’s preoccupied, and he ponders whether he’ll be bothered to mention what’s on his mind or simply let it simmer.

 

Jin doesn’t get up from the table, even when the table is cleared, sitting back in his seat and waiting to see what Namjoon will do. Jungkook glances between them and blinks slowly, perhaps wondering why neither of them have moved to leave the table yet. But, like the quiet boy that he is, Jungkook says nothing about it.

 

Taehyung returns to the table after cleaning up the dishes, also noticing how neither Namjoon nor Jin have moved, and seems to understand the situation better than Jin had anticipated. Taehyung leans over to whisper something in Jungkook’s ear before taking the younger’s hand and guiding them out of the room, throwing a casual “Thanks for dinner!” over his shoulder before vanishing.

 

The two of them allow silence to settle into the atmosphere for a bit, right before Jin, as usual, takes the first step in initiating conversation. “What’s on your mind, Namjoonie?”

 

Namjoon considers this question for a moment before stretching out his arms, the joints in his shoulders snapping. “I think I’ll go for a walk. I have some… stuff to take care of.”

 

“’Stuff’?” Jin’s eyes narrow accusingly. “What kind of ‘stuff’?”

 

“Business stuff,” Namjoon grunts, weaving his arms in front of him and meeting his boyfriend’s stare.

 

“Is that so?” Jin drawls slowly, arching an eyebrow with skeptical grace. “Does this ‘business stuff’ have anything to do with carpentry? Or will I be expecting you to return covered in someone else’s blood again?”

 

“It’s…” Namjoon hesitates. “It’s not something that concerns you.”

 

“Not something that concerns me?” Jin’s voice gains a little more volume. “Then why, all of a sudden, do I feel concerned? Kim Namjoon, don’t you start keeping secrets from me! We’ve told each other everything up until this point, why would you shut me out now?”

 

Namjoon exhales sharply, as though his patience is waning thin. “Because – ugh. I – what I’m planning to do… It’s, well, not exactly legal. I don’t want you getting involved. It’s too dangerous.”

 

“Seriously? If I had a nickel for every time you’ve told me that throughout our relationship – ”

 

“I know, I know. You’d be ‘richer than Oprah’.” Namjoon rolls his eyes because he’s heard it too many times to count. “But I could get into serious trouble for what I’m about to do. Do you really want to get involved if the authorities catch me? You could wind up in jail too you know.”

 

“Wouldn’t that be an adventure,” Jin hums, not at all phased by the unfortunate possibilities. “How about you get what you need and I’ll meet you down in the carpark in ten?”

 

“Jin, you aren’t listening,” Namjoon sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You can’t afford to get arrested – you’ll lose your job and ruin your reputation. No one is going to hire you with a police record, and then what will happen? We’ll lose the apartment, Taehyung won’t be able to go to university – ”

 

“You’re being dramatic,” Jin waves off flippantly. “First rule of doing something illegal: don’t get caught. You go do what you have to do and I’ll be the driver, that way if you need a quick get away, I’ll be there to make it happen.”

 

They stare at one another unblinkingly, Namjoon trying to pinpoint any doubt or hesitance in his partner’s expression before sighing heavily. “I’m going to be taking my gun, Jin.”

 

“That serious?” Jin licks his lips, but keeps his cool.

 

“Yes. I’ll be taking it as a precaution, just in case they aren’t… cooperative.”

 

Jin nods in understanding. “Then you’ll definitely be needing me to drive. Go get the gun and make up some excuse to tell the kids. I’ll go warm up the car.”

 

Namjoon runs a hand through his hair, releasing another sigh. He can’t believe he’s letting Jin get involved in this. “Fine. I’ll see you in ten.”

 

Jin nods seriously. “See you in ten.”

 

The car engine hums as Jin waits patiently in the driver’s seat, the seat warmers turned on high with warm air blasting through the heater. He pulls his leather jacket tighter around his frame as he waits for Namjoon, the keys wedged into the ignition with his saltshaker keychain hanging down loosely. It’s easy to spot Namjoon entering the carpark, his frame hidden beneath the thick layer of a winter coat that fits him quite snuggly. The buttons are all done up, and Jin would bet that his handgun is buried somewhere beneath the material, out of sight and away from curious eyes.

 

His boyfriend carries himself with an air of both confidence and danger. He makes his way to the passenger seat of the car, and it reminds him of that night not too long ago when he went to pay Yukwon a visit.

 

There’s no denying that Kim Namjoon is on a mission, and if he knows anything about the determination of his own partner, it’s that he will complete what he’s set out to do – and by any means necessary.

 

“Where are we off to?” Jin asks as he pulls out of their designated parking spot, looking anywhere but his at boyfriend.

 

“Jangam.” Their eyes meet and Jin’s lips pull into a thin line. “My parent’s gas station.”

 

*~*~*

 

They don’t speak on the car ride over to Jangam. Jin doesn’t ask any further questions about Namjoon’s intentions or what he’s planning to do, and Namjoon, in turn, divulges nothing. He simply stares out the window, getting lost in the view of the city at they cross one of the bridges over the Han River. The city lights reflect off of the water’s surface like a seeping palette of colors, shadowing the tiny boats that sail across its calm expanse. The overcast of clouds elude to a rainy day tomorrow, maybe even showers as early as tonight if they’re unlucky. The moon and the stars cannot be seen, making the city seem all the more darker and bleak.

 

Namjoon can tell they’ve reached the burrow of Jangam when the streets get narrower and less people are loitering around. Hazy smog settles just above the buildings, likely birthed from Seoul’s heavy pollution. Discarded newspapers dance like tumbleweed in the gutters, and water leaks down from the side of apartment complexes, making them look unappealing and unsanitary. The roads aren’t as well constructed here as they are in the center of the city, and as Jin backs his sleek Audi between the crevice of two tall and narrow buildings, he ensures that the expensive car is out of temptation’s way. Neither of them would put it past the residents to scavenge and pull apart the car’s exterior and sell the parts for money.

 

When Jin shuts off the engine, Namjoon steps out of the car. Jin goes to pull off his seatbelt, his other hand on the handle of the car door, when Namjoon leans down to poke his head inside. “Honey, you can’t come with me.”

 

Jin glares. “Why not?”

 

“I let you come this far with me, didn’t I? Baby please just stay in the car. I’ll be back in less than half an hour, all right? I’ve got to do this alone.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes bore into Jin’s, letting him know that he isn’t playing around.

 

Jin’s looks contemplative, as though he’s weighing all the possibilities in head to determine the best course of action. It’s aggravating, to have his lover tell him to stay behind, to distance himself from the events that are about to unfold. He doesn’t want to go with Namjoon because he thinks it will be exciting or thrilling, he mostly just wants to be by his boyfriend’s side and help as best he can. They do everything together, and he takes pride in knowing that they don’t keep secrets from one another, which makes it difficult for him to settle back into his seat and remove his grip from the handle. He whips off his seat belt and crosses his arms over his chest, his expression every bit as serious as his boyfriend’s.

 

“You will return safely to me,” he says sternly. “Don’t take any unnecessary risks, and be back here within half an hour or so help me Namjoon I will get out of this car and drag your ass back.”

 

Namjoon’s eyes soften. He climbs over the passenger seat to cup the side of Jin’s face, guiding him into a gentle but sweet kiss that the other immediately reciprocates. Jin grabs the front of Namjoon’s coat to deepen the kiss, his tongue swiping along his bottom lip, but instead of succumbing to Jin’s silent command, Namjoon reluctantly pulls back.

 

“I will return to you,” Namjoon says softly, his breath fanning his boyfriend’s lips. “I swear on my life.”

 

“You better not,” Jin bites out saucily, but they both know he’s just incredibly worried.

 

Namjoon flashes a reassuring smile before climbing back out of the car, this time slamming the door behind him. Jin watches him leave, rounding the corner of the alley with his hands stuffed into his pockets, and he just prays this isn’t the last time he’ll see his boyfriend alive.

 

Namjoon’s eyes scan the secluded streets with the utmost of caution. He hasn’t walked through this neighborhood in two years, and yet if feels like only yesterday he last cast his eyes upon these towering apartments and stingy alleyways.

 

There isn’t a soul in sight, not at this time of the night. The residents of Jangam know better than to go wandering around this area after dark, especially since Zico and his gang opened up business here six years ago. It attracted the most dangerous of street dwellers, and they had him to thank for it.

 

He had thought, naively, that it had all ended two years ago, when he had finally walked away from the business for good. He had no idea that Zico would be audacious enough to continuing running the drug trade through his parents’ gas station, especially after all the tragedy that had occurred. But he shouldn’t be surprised. He shouldn’t have even faltered when the information was delivered to him. Zico was never respectful. He thinks because he’s the leader he can do what he pleases, but Zico is only a small fish in a big pond. There are more dangerous people out there, scouring the streets of this city, and Zico still has the cheek to act like he still owns it – like he ever did in the first place.

 

It was foolish of him, to think that he’d never have to see the faces of this godforsaken gang again. Fate has a funny way of toying with him though. Maybe the gang has nudged its way back into his life because the death of his parents was never truly settled. He’s still haunted by their untimely deaths, still riddled with guilt for the loss he endured. Maybe this is life’s way of giving him the chance to settle things once and for all? He’d delivered to Yukwon the beating he so rightfully deserved, and now it was Zico’s turn. He cannot, with all honesty, see himself getting into a fistfight with someone as unpredictable as the gang leader though. The man doesn’t play fair. The second he has his back turned he’ll bet Zico will draw out his gun, which is why Namjoon is taking his along as a precaution.

 

He walks a considerable amount of blocks away from where Jin parked. He had made sure that his boyfriend would park as far away from the gas station as possible, because as much as he trusts Jin to keep a promise, he just knows that at some point he’s going to get out of that car. And he would much prefer Jin to be as far away from the damage as possible.

 

He rounds a corner and the gas station comes into sight, sitting in the centre of a secluded area with a wired fence stretching around the perimeter. He approaches the gate and reaches out to find that the bolt put in place has been cut, the chains that once bound the gate hanging loosely from the wired gaps. He pulls out the bolt and chain and casts it unceremoniously aside, tugging at the gate until there’s a wide enough gap for him to fit through.

 

His boots hit the dirt as he walks along the deserted distance, the light emitting from the gas station like a beacon glowing through the chilled darkness of the night. He sees movement inside the building, a shadow flitting behind the glass windows and he slowly starts to unbutton his jacket, slipping his hand into the material to coil his fingers around a cold, familiar object. He hides himself between a garbage bin and a drainpipe, squatting down to fist a handful of tiny rocks that have chipped from the gravel.

 

All at once he tosses the rocks at the window, creating enough racket to have the noise echoing throughout the hollow amplitude. He presses himself up against the wall, his grip on his gun tightening as he peers cautiously around the corner, his eyes focused solely on the glass door. His heart beats heavily in his ribcage, but he keeps his breathing under control. He can hear the footsteps of someone inside the building, the patter of their feet growing quieter as they approach the door. It’s pure luck that Zico, out of everybody, is the person to step outside, his hand curled around the gun he has strapped to his side.

 

Their eyes meet and Zico freezes. Namjoon already has his gun pointing straight at him.

 

“Drop the fucking gun and step the fuck away from it,” he growls.

 

Zico’s grip on his gun slackens and he sighs, slowly reaching up to unlatch the shoulder strap. The strap comes loose and the holster, along with the gun, hits the dirt with a dull thud. With his hands lazily up in the air, he takes a few steps away from his gun, and in turn Namjoon skitters towards it, snatching it up without his aim wavering from the gang leader.

 

“Should’ve known you’d come round at some point,” Zico sneers. “Yukwon told me about the little visit you paid him, and all for that slut Jungkook.”

 

“Enough,” Namjoon snaps indignantly. He hates hearing him talk about Jungkook like that. He couldn’t stomach it from Yukwon and he definitely cannot tolerate it from someone like Zico. “I don’t want to hear another word about Jungkook from you or Yukwon. I settled that shit.”

 

He removes the gun from the holster and tucks it away in the back of his jeans, lowering his aim. Zico isn’t much of a threat when he’s unarmed.

 

“So this is it, huh?” Zico reaches into his pocket and pulls out a packet of cigarettes, slotting one between his lips before lighting it. “You finally wised up and figured out I was still using the gas station. It only took you what, two years? You know for a genius you ain’t that smart, Namjoonie.”

 

“You have Yukwon to thank for that,” says Namjoon, tugging off his coat to wound the strap around his frame, slotting his gun into the empty holster before pulling his coat back over it. “I didn’t want to believe you were low enough to continue coming here, especially after all that’s happened. I can’t say I’m surprised though. You always were the lowest of the low.”

 

Zico exhales a cloud of smoke through the nose, the corners of his lips curving into a smirk. He shrugs. “What can I say? Money is money no matter what angle you look at it. This dump would’ve rotted away if I didn’t continue to use it as a rendezvous point. You should be thanking me.”

 

“Somehow I doubt I’ll be thanking you for anything, Zico.” Namjoon’s glare intensifies. “Haven’t you taken enough from me already? Why couldn’t you have just found a different place to rendezvous with your clients? When I left, I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with this bullshit any longer.”

 

“When you left?” Zico laughs bitterly, shaking his head. “That fucking tattoo is still on your arm, and it always will be. You can’t just walk away from the gang and expect us to accept it.”

 

“Well I’m expecting it now,” he cross his arms over his chest, his stature exuding authority. “You will walk away from this gas station and never return. If you don’t, I will track down your old rival gang and hand over every secret and every hideout our gang has ever used and I will let them destroy you.”

 

“Ha! You’re threatening me? Are you fucking for real? You are threatening me? Don’t be a fool. You think I haven’t been keeping tabs on you since the moment you decided to walk out on us? You think I don’t know about the pretty boy you have in your life? Or the fact that you took in two strays off the street like you’re fucking Mother Teresa?” Zico is cackling like the true maniac that he is, and Namjoon stands there rigidly, refusing to respond to his taunting.

 

“Please. If you dare to go against me I will ruin your fucking life. You think losing your parents was bad? Watch me take away everyone you love in your life, Namjoon. One step out of line and I will kill your boyfriend. I will beat him till he can’t move and – better yet, I’ll make you watch. Then I’ll take that little homeless kid you’re so fond of, rip him open and sell his organs on the black market. And Jungkook – he won’t be going back to Yukwon. No, no – I know a guy from the human trafficking syndicate who’ll make good use of him. You’ll never see any of them ever again. Mark my words, Namjoon. I’ll make it my top priority to destroy you.”

 

His stomach coils and he feels disgusted on the inside, but on the outside he doesn’t so much as blink. With lightening speed he draws out his gun and pulls the trigger, blowing a hole in Zico’s foot.

 

“Ah fuck!” Zico howls, bouncing on his other foot as blood gushes from the wound.

 

“Listen carefully, Zico.” Namjoon says calmly, putting away his gun and walking past the wailing man to approach the gas pumps on the other side of the station. His hands coil around the handle of the closest one, pulling it out of its cradle. “I don’t doubt that you would try and do all of those things if I dared to cross you, but you know what? I won’t let it happen this time. I thought I lost everything when my parents were killed, but I found purpose again. I’m at a stage in my life where I couldn’t be happier, and I’m not going to let you take that away from me. Not again.”

 

“Quit it with your self-pity,” Zico spits, hobbling over to the curb beside the entrance and collapsing onto his bottom. “Your parents’ deaths weren’t my fault. If anything it was yours. You knew the risks when you first came into the business, and you knew you couldn’t leave unscathed either. If your parents hadn’t of shown up all that shit never would’ve happened in the first place.”

 

“You fucking ran. You left me there to die with my parents. There was never any cohesion in your stupid gang, it was every man for himself. If you had managed the deal better there wouldn’t have been a shooting and my parents wouldn’t have died. It was your fault,” Namjoon accuses firmly, despite the ache in heart telling him that he is at fault too. He doesn’t show weakness to Zico – to do so would be a serious mistake. “My parents… they were blameless. They didn’t deserve to die.”

 

“Spare your cliché bullshit,” Zico snaps irritably. “What would you have done differently that night, huh? Would you have taken their place instead? To spare them from their deaths?” He asks tauntingly.

 

“No.” His grip tightens on the handle of the gas pump. “It’s selfish, but I wouldn’t have taken their place if I had the choice. If I had died that night I never would’ve met the love of my life, I never would have made the irreplaceable friendships that I cherish to this day. You may have taken my life away from me once, Zico,” he starts walking around the dust-ridden asphalt, leaking petrol on the ground, “but I won’t let you take it from me again.”

 

Zico’s eyes narrow, gritting his teeth from the pain shooting up his leg. “What do you think you’re doing?”

 

“I’m doing what I should have done a long time ago,” says Namjoon.

 

He sprays petrol until the ground is soaking in it, the smell so intense that it burns his nostrils. He casts aside the gas pump and it clinks against the ground. He turns and starts making his way towards Zico, who all but starts backing up until his back hits the wall, his eyes flashing with fear. Namjoon relishes in this rare display of raw emotion from the criminal, all the power and all the control surging through his vein and tingling at his fingertips. He stops in front of Zico, leaning down to pluck the cigarette that’s still burning away between his teeth. Zico is so stunned that he doesn’t move, he doesn’t even seize this moment to try and grab at Namjoon’s gun.

 

When he turns around and starts approaching the damp asphalt, it becomes clear of what Namjoon intends to do.

 

“You’re fucking insane!” Zico squawks. “You’re going to blow it up? What about everything this place stands for, huh? What about the memory of your parents?”

 

Namjoon knows Zico possesses no real care for what this gas station means to him, he’s only looking out for the good of his own business.

 

“There’s nothing here but ghosts,” he answers stoically, halting a foot away from the puddles of petrol.

 

He hears Zico struggle to his feet and throw open the door to the building, but he doesn’t bother to turn around and check what he’s doing. He already knows. He’s going for the stash. He’s going to salvage what he can. Namjoon doesn’t move to stop him. Zico can do what he pleases so long as he stays the fuck away from him and his family. He thinks this will set a good enough warning for Zico and his little friends.

 

No one messes with Kim Namjoon.

 

He takes a drag from the cigarette, just to feel the toxic smoke consume him before he flicks the it and walks away. He thinks he hears Zico cursing as he drags his ass away from the blaze that lights up on the bitumen, but Namjoon refuses to turn around. He refuses to give this cursed place even one last glance before he slips out of the wire gate.

 

He gets a good distance away before the explosion happens. Just for that, he does turn around, watching with deep satisfaction as the place goes up in flames.

 

*~*~*

 

Jin’s fingers tap nervously against the tight leather of the steering wheel, eyes flittering repeatedly towards the glowing numbers of the clock on the dashboard. Half an hour. That’s the time he said that he’d give Namjoon before going in to get him, but he can’t help the growing anxiety that settles in his stomach, the sense of dread creeping up his spine. It’s been twenty minutes and there is still no sign of his other half, only a couple of drunk teens and a homeless man wandering down the small side street and conspicuously eyeing off the luxury car that doesn’t belong on this side of town.

 

Jin sighs loudly, head lolling back against the headrest and mind running overtime as he thinks over all the possible scenarios that could be taking place at this moment. A shudder wracks through his body, eyes clenching shut at the thought of Namjoon getting injured again. He remembers back when he’d first seen Namjoon, a bloodied, young boy splayed out on the hospital gurney, dancing on the edge of life and death. It’s not a sight that Jin ever wants to see again.

 

He stares out of the windshield, eyes tracing over the steady rise of steam from a nearby pipe, causing the passenger side window to fog up slightly. There aren’t many people on the street, only a couple of people walking across the main street to a dingy, little take away restaurant sitting on the corner.

 

Newspapers and varying forms of rubbish skitter along the road and sidewalk, pushed by the gentle breeze. A bordering foul odour seeps into the interior of the car, making Jin change the vent settings to recycled air in an attempt to prevent any more of the smell from entering. He suspects something in the small street behind him is in the early stages of decomposition. He looks at the run down housing commission blocks, eyeing off the metal bars stapled over everyone’s windows and the rusty gutters that line the roofs.

 

This is where Namjoon grew up.’

 

Jin is always surprised whenever he comes to that realisation, despite the fact that he had been in this part of town many times when he had visited Namjoon’s old apartment. It didn’t stop the sight of it from being any less shocking.

 

Jin knew he was well beyond privileged, never having to worry about whether there would be food on the table or a roof over his head. He is never short of awe when he thinks about the situations that those closest to him have experienced, the violent and unstable backgrounds that they have endured and survived. Besides his parents, there’s no one he respects more than his friends.

 

Jin is suddenly jerked from his thoughts when the still atmosphere of the car is disturbed, a thunderous boom echoing down the empty street and causing various car alarms to be triggered. Dog’s in the neighbourhood can he heard barking, the boisterous yips escaping from the apartment windows. Jin’s hands clench tightly against the wheel, knuckles growing white as a steady line of fire trucks and police cars speed past him, sirens blaring loudly and cutting through the once peaceful air of the night.

 

‘No.’

 

With shaky hands, Jin puts the car into gear, slowing inching out of the small crevice that he’s been sitting in for the past twenty-five minutes. As soon as he pulls into the main street he sees it, off in the distance. He slams his foot down on the accelerator, engine roaring loudly in protest as he speeds past the pedestrians that have come out to see what all the commotion is about. The smog that hangs low in the sky is now tinted red, the thick, smoky air and blood-like glow painting the street like a scene from the depths of hell.

 

‘No.’

 

The gas station. Namjoon’s gas station is up in flames, the blaze of the inferno burning through the final remnants of the charred building.

 

It was an explosion. That’s what he had felt. The blast wave was what gently rocked the car.

Jin’s stomach churns, clenching so violently that he almost throws up. He skids to a stop besides a police car, gravel crunching under the pressure of his tires. He flings the car door open, his body instantly assaulted by a gust of blistering heat and the pungent smell of burning gasoline.

 

‘No.’

 

He flings himself forward, not bothering to shut the car door as he tries to push past the barricade of police officers. Arms shoot out to wrap around his waist, preventing him from nearing the blaze. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

 

Jin struggles in the officer’s tight grip, tears blurring his vision as he stares at the remaining burnt vestiges of the station that are currently being doused with jets of water from firefighters. One charred brick wall is all that remains of the building, fire licking steadily against it from the remaining debris. Ash flits through the air, carried away from the blaze by the soft wind of the night. The air is so thick with smoke and chemicals that Jin nearly chokes, the tainted air filling his lungs like melted tar, weighing him down.

 

“M-my boyfriend. H-he was i-inside.”

 

The officer tightens his restraining hold but his expression softens, sympathy marring his features. It makes Jin’s heart sink into his stomach. Pressure builds up in his chest, heart pounding furiously against his ribcage as he prepares himself for the officer’s next words. “I’m sorry. But there is no way he could have survived that. The place was pretty much torn apart by the blast and the fire has burnt away everything that was left behind. Please accept my condolences for your loss.”

 

Time comes to a halt.

 

‘No. Condolences for your loss. Lies. It can’t be.’

 

Jin shoves the officer away, stumbling frantically towards his car as he turns his back on the burning wreckage, unable to stomach the sight of it for a minute longer. He can hear the officer calling out to him worriedly, asking him to stay so that another officer can escort him home. It’s probably a good idea, Jin is nowhere near in the right headspace to be operating a vehicle at the moment, but there’s no way he can stay.

 

He doesn’t think on the drive home, barely paying attention to his surroundings as he speeds through the streets of Seoul on his route home. If he thinks, he’ll have to acknowledge what has happened. He would much rather linger in the blissfully ignorant pools of denial for the time being, keeping his rational thoughts and emotions locked away in the back of his mind.

 

He runs several red lights on the way, completely disregarding his usual safety orientated personality and the possibly lethal consequences of his reckless actions. His mind is blank, banishing any inkling of thought from his mind and focusing only on the sound of his heart and the steady rush of blood in his ears. Even now, he can barely breathe, every breath he takes tasting of cloying ash and death.

 

He almost drives straight through the boom gate at his apartment complex, barely coherent enough to scan his key card. He stumbles towards the elevator, feet working on autopilot. He’s barely conscious, all mental and physical processes working passively and without thought. Jin stares aimlessly at his reflection in the mirrors that line the opulent elevator, gaze drifting across the blank and emotionless expression that stares back at him.

 

His keys clink loudly in his hand, unseeing eyes staring at the polished door of his apartment as he inserts the key. The deadlock snaps open with a deafening click, heavy door opening with a drawn out creak.

 

‘I should get Namjoon to fix that.’

 

It takes so much effort to step over the threshold into the apartment, his feet refusing to move the final distance. He braces a hand against the doorframe, fingers curling painfully into the wood as he pushes himself forward. The door slams behind him, the bang echoing throughout the apartment and alerting Taehyung and Jungkook to his presence. He mindlessly kicks off his shoes, socks sliding against the glossy hardwood floors until he reaches the spacious area of the lounge, his legs giving out from underneath him as he falls heavily onto the plush leather couch.

 

He stares owlishly around the lounge, eyes drifting over the various photo frames that line the walls before coming to rest on the coffee table in front of him. A random hammer and a small pile of nails sits mockingly atop the glass table, no doubt from whatever Namjoon was doing this morning.

 

‘I told him to put it away. He never listens when I tell him to clean up after himself.

 

Namjoon’s thick, winter work jacket is draped over the back of the adjacent couch, his laptop sitting atop a cushion from where he’d been working just before dinner.

 

Taehyung and Jungkook stumble out from the hallway, arms slung lovingly around each other as they come to check on their hyungdeul. Jin looks up to meet Taehyung’s confused gaze, his lifeless eyes making Jungkook freeze in his tracks. “Hyung… Where’s Namjoon?”

 

Jin’s head falls into his hands, anguished sobs spilling from his lips as it all comes crashing down on him. Everything that he suppressed on the car ride home snaps to consciousness, like broken floodgates, the thoughts washing through him violently. Jungkook whimpers brokenly at the devastated expression that crosses Jin’s face, body curling against Taehyung’s for support as he feels his hyung’s pain like it were his own.

 

He knows that Namjoon-hyung isn’t coming home.

 

Jin’s fingers clench in his hair, tugging at the roots as large tears streak down his cheeks, dripping off the edge of his jaw onto the carpet beneath his feet. Namjoon had picked this carpet when they had renovated the penthouse. His other half had picked out a lot of things, the TV, the lights, the fucking decorative pot plants that sit in various places around the lounge, and Jin can’t stand to look at any of it. This place wasn’t a home without Namjoon.

 

Jin cries harder, the strong arms that wrap around his waist doing nothing to calm him. His arms flail out violently, trying to push Taehyung away from him, but the younger only clings to his grieving friend tighter. “Hyung.”

 

Jin shakes his head furiously, the soft tendrils of his fringe swaying from the movement. His fingers curl into the fabric of Taehyung’s loose night shirt, breath coming out in laboured gasps and hysteric hiccups. “No. No. No. Namjoon. Tell me that it’s not true, Tae. Tell me that I’m dreaming and that when I wake up everything will be normal again.”

 

Tae glances over his shoulder at Jungkook warily, not knowing how to reply in a way that won’t make matters worse. “Shh… you’re okay hyung - we’ll be okay.”

 

Jin’s body shakes, swaying from side to side in Taehyung’s hold. “He can’t be gone. He promised, Tae. Thirty minutes, thirty minutes and then he’d come back to me. Why did he lie, Tae?”

 

Taehyung only hums, rocking his hyung soothingly as he shushes him, whispering empty reassurances into Jin’s ear. If Namjoon is actually dead like Jin believes, Taehyung doesn’t know what will happen. He fears that Jin will shut down, the two love birds so dependent on each other. He knows that Jin calls Namjoon his other half, but what will happen if that other half is gone?

 

They sit in silence, the only sound being Jin’s harsh breaths and sobs in the quiet apartment.

 

Jungkook eventually comes around next to Taehyung, reaching out and rubbing Jin’s back in a feeble attempt to comfort his hyung, even though he knows there is nothing he can do to relieve the agony that Jin is feeling. An hour comes and passes, the trio still huddled up in the lounge and Taehyung’s shirt now thoroughly soaked with Jin’s tears.

 

He’s about to suggest moving to the spare bedroom when sharp knocks ring through the apartment, the quick tap of knuckles against the front door drawing their attention. Jungkook gives Taehyung a hesitant glance before inching towards the door, cautiously opening it to peek out into the hallway. “N-Namjoon-hyung?”

 

Jin freezes at the name, head snapping up in time to see his other half shuffle into the lounge area, apologetic expression on his face and arms swaying limply at his sides.

 

Fury courses through Jin’s veins, the burning rage inside of him enough to override all the feelings of relief at seeing Namjoon alive. “You fucking asshole!”

 

Taehyung jerks back against the coffee table just as Jin leaps from the couch, narrowly missing being barrelled down by the taller man. Namjoon holds his hands up in surrender, tears forming in his own eyes at the sight of his distraught lover.

 

‘How could I have been so selfish? I should at least called him.’

 

He doesn’t move to defend himself when Jin swings a fist, the right hook hitting him straight in the jaw and causing him to stumble back into the wall. The picture frames rattle from the force of his fall.

 

Jin moves to throw another punch, but Namjoon catches his thin wrist easily, restraining his lover. “Y-you were fucking gone, Namjoon! How fucking hard could it have been to pick up your phone and call me? Even a text of ‘Hey Jin, by the way I’m not dead’ would have been fucking enough!”

 

Namjoon coo’s softly, trying to wrap his arms around Jin and pull him into an embrace. But Jin lashes out, his fists beating painfully against Namjoon’s chest as he tries to pull away. “No. You do not get to do that after what you just put me through!”

 

Namjoon clenches his eyes shut and keeps his arms wrapped tightly around Jin’s narrow waist, stuttered breath splaying across his lover’s neck as he refuses to let go. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Jin. Please.”

 

Jungkook tugs on Tae’s wrist, biting his lip nervously at the growing violence between the couple. “Tae, do something.”

 

Taehyung only entwines his fingers with Jungkook’s, gently guiding the younger boy back to their shared room. “They need to sort this out themselves. Jin won’t hurt him, trust me. Come on Kookie, you don’t need to see this.”

 

Harsh breaths spill from Jin’s lips as his limbs tire, fatigue spreading throughout his body from the sheer emotional rollercoaster he’s been on in the past hour and a half. His fists slow down, now only tapping lightly against Namjoon’s muscled chest. He gradually begins to calm, finally able to comprehend the words that his other half is breathlessly repeating into his ear.

 

“I’m sorry. I love you. Please forgive me.”

 

His fists stop, allowing Namjoon to finally pull their bodies together, his body curling around Jin’s almost protectively. Jin can smell the lingering scent of gasoline and smoke that clings to Namjoon’s clothes like a morbid reminder, making him nauseous all over again. He can see the soot that stains Namjoon’s once vibrant silver hair with black, particles of ash sticking stubbornly to the dirty tendrils that hang over his eyes.

 

The fight suddenly leaves Jin, his body relaxing in Namjoon’s hold. He finally allows the relief to sweep over him, allows for the feeling of elation for the fact that his lover had not perished in the blaze. The tender moment between them doesn’t last long though, a carnal emotion beginning to stir in his gut as he abruptly shoves Namjoon back against the wall. He draws the moment out, panting heavily as he watches confusion and hurt cross Namjoon’s face before slamming his body against his lover’s.

 

His fingers curl around Namjoon’s thick wrists, pressing them roughly against the wall beside his head, crashing their lips together. It’s too quick, too rough, their teeth clicking from the sheer force of the kiss, but Jin doesn’t care. He wouldn’t trade the feeling of it for anything else in the world. Namjoon doesn’t struggle against Jin’s hold, allowing his lover this moment of dominance because he knows that Jin will be begging for it before the night is through. It’s not as if Jin would need to beg though, Namjoon himself is dancing on the fine line between desperation and restraint.

 

Jin’s nails bite into the tender flesh of Namjoon’s wrists, cutting red, agitated crescents into the skin as he continues to ravage Namjoon’s mouth, barely giving the other a chance to breathe. Jin pulls back, the pause allowing Namjoon to turn the tables and switch their positions, slamming Jin against the wall and eliciting a long moan from Jin’s throat. The two lovers stare at each other, chests rapidly rising and falling with every rough breath that escapes their lungs.

 

Namjoon pulls his blackened shirt from over his head, chucking the ruined material carelessly to the ground and allowing Jin’s assessing eyes to travel over his defined and surprisingly unharmed body. A moment is all Jin gets before Namjoon’s fingers tear at the fabric of his shirt, tossing it onto the floor besides his own. He presses another deep kiss to Jin’s swollen, spit-slicked lips, his lover automatically winding his arms around Namjoon’s neck and leaping up to wrap his legs around his other half’s waist.

 

Namjoon stumbles back slightly, hands coming down to wrap supportively around Jin’s supple thighs. He carries Jin back to their room, his powerful legs able to support both of them. Jin’s fingers tangle in his oily locks, his hands turning black as he displaces the ash and soot. Namjoon presses open mouth kisses along the column of Jin’s neck, tongue lapping up the salty and slightly bitter flavour of his smoke-laced, sweaty skin.

 

Jin groans deeply at the sensation, his nails digging into Namjoon’s scalp before tugging roughly at his hair. Jin’s lips come down against Namjoon’s as they enter their room, his lover kicking the door shut behind them.

 

Namjoon lowers Jin to the ground before gripping his hips tightly and shoving him back until his body presses fully against glass wall beside their bed, the glimmering lights of Seoul’s nightlife visible in the distance below them. Namjoon’s thick fingers tear at the button of Jin’s designer jeans. He tugs the zipper down hastily, pulling both the denim and his underwear down his thighs at the same time in one long sweep. Jin hisses softly as his erection is exposed to the warm air of their apartment, his clothing bunching uncomfortably around his calves as Namjoon turns him so that his torso is pressed against the window.

 

He squeaks at the frosty temperature of the glass, his nipples hardening as he tries to push away from the cold surface. Namjoon doesn’t let him though, hands pressed firmly against his hips and holding him still against the window. Namjoon plasters his body against Jin’s, jean clad hips rocking forward and causing Jin to smear precum against the glass. He bites into the meat of his lover’s shoulder, sucking a purple bruise into the skin.

 

Jin gasps at the sensation coursing through his heated body, trying both to seek friction for his arousal and press back into Namjoon at the same time. “Don’t t-tease me, Namjoon. Take me to bed.”

 

Namjoon unlatches his mouth from Jin’s skin, teeth nipping lightly at the curved shell of Jin’s ear. “No. We’re staying here. I’m going to fuck you here, pressed up against the glass and exposed to the city. I’m going to show the world that you’re mine, that you’ll always be mine. I’ll never leave you.”

 

Jin can’t help the shudder that travels through his body at Namjoon’s gritty voice, the dirtiness of the words only working to increase his arousal. He knows that no one can see them from this height, the penthouse towering over all the surrounding complexes, but nervousness still shoots down his spine at being so exposed, so on display.

 

Namjoon drops heavily to his knees behind him, fingers kneading at the pale skin of his ample buttocks before pulling the cheeks apart to expose his puckered opening. Namjoon presses the pad of his thumb against the fluttering hole, prodding teasingly at the sensitive area and causing Jin’s breath to hitch at the touch. “You had a shower before dinner. Did you clean here?”

 

Jin whines, wriggling uselessly in Namjoon’s grasp as he realises what his lover is planning to do. “N-Namjoon… “

 

Namjoon pulls his fingers away when Jin doesn’t answer, slapping the voluptuous swell of his ass with an open palm. He then rubs soothingly at the reddened skin, reducing the sting of the hit. “Answer the question, baby.”

 

Jin manages to choke a small ‘yes’ out, his body shaking in anticipation. As soon as he answers, Namjoon licks a stripe across his hole with the flat of his tongue, making every nerve ending in Jin’s body flare to life. His fingers curl against the glass as Namjoon eats him out, his tongue applying more pressure with every lick until he finally pushes through the tight ring of muscle.

 

Jin bites back a sob, resting his forehead against his crossed arms on the window. He tries to spread his legs further to allow Namjoon more space, but his pants are still bunched around his ankles, preventing him from moving. With every stab and swirl of Namjoon’s talented tongue, his legs start to weaken and his knees begin to shake from the pleasure that threatens to ruin him.

 

Namjoon pauses, his fingers coming up to prod experimentally at the wet entrance, causing Jin to hiss in warning. “Get the lube, Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon only noses at the dimples of Jin’s lower back, hair brushing teasingly against the skin as he shakes his head. “Trust me.”

 

That’s all the warning Jin gets before a finger slowly slides into his entrance, the tight muscle clenching down at the intrusion. Jin bites down on his bottom lip to stop the whimper that sits in his throat, his hips jerking back to take the digit deeper. This is the first time they’ve done something like this, Namjoon usually taking his time to ensure he is properly stretched and prepped before trying anything.

 

Jin relishes in the burning friction of every pump of Namjoon’s finger, the digit brushing against the softness of his inner walls ever so lightly. After ensuring that Jin has relaxed enough around the first finger, Namjoon licks around it before pressing a second one in. The burn is much more substantial this time, a small amount of pain radiating from his clenching entrance, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. He wants to feel it, every drag of Namjoon’s fingers, every bruise sinking into his skin.

 

He wants to feel the lingering pain of being roughly fucked tomorrow, while he’s at work. He wants a constant reminder that Namjoon is still alive and with him. Namjoon’s fingers pump into him at a rapid pace, the digits curling and pressing unrelentingly into his bundle of nerves. His words come out as stilted hiccups, toes curling against the plush carpet as he desperately pleads, “No - you can’t. I’m going to come. Namjoon – I want you inside.”

 

Jin can feel the subtle curve of his lips as Namjoon smirks against his skin, his lover’s fingers relentlessly abusing his prostate. “Come then. Don’t worry, I’m nowhere near done with you.”

 

Jin falls over the edge at the weighted promise, hips stuttering and coming untouched against the window as he climaxes, the thick spurts of his release smearing and sliding down the glass. He breathes heavily, goose bumps pebbling his skin as Namjoon backs away and moves to retrieve what Jin assumes to be lube from the bedside drawer. He’s coherent enough to finally kick off the restrictive material around his legs, now able to move as he likes.

 

Namjoon’s forearm wraps around his front, supporting him as he tries to balance on shaking legs. The cool liquid on Namjoon’s fingers elicit a startled gasp from Jin’s lips, his lover wasting no time in pressing his digits against Jin’s semi-stretched entrance. The glide is a lot smoother this time, enabled by lube that Namjoon had inconsiderately not warmed up before pressing into him.

 

It doesn’t take long to stretch him out, his body relaxed and languid from his previous climax. His eyes slip shut, focussing on nothing but Namjoon’s intimate touches and the soft brush of lips against his sweaty skin. Namjoon moves to add a fourth finger, but is stopped by Jin, his delicate fingers wrapped tightly around Namjoon’s thick wrist. “No – let me feel it. I need to feel it.”

 

Namjoon glances up, gazing lovingly across his partner’s body, admiring the beautiful arch of his back, the broadness of his shoulders, the lean muscles that line his gorgeous body. How on earth did get so lucky? How could someone like him deserve someone like Kim Seokjin?

 

Namjoon licks a long stripe between Jin’s shoulder blades as he softly kicks at Jin’s ankles, making him spread his legs a little bit wider. Jin is close to yelling at his lover, urging him to hurry the fuck up before they die of old age when Namjoon braces a hand against the glass beside his head, suddenly thrusting into him. His back arches severely, silent scream falling from his lips as Namjoon pounds into him relentlessly, each word punctuated by a thrust. “Is. This. What. You. Wanted?”

 

Jin’s cheek slides against the glass as he nods his head frantically, savouring the sharp twinge and painful burn erupting from his abused entrance. “Yes – yes. Fuck, Namjoon!”

 

Namjoon’s fingers curl into the skin of his hip, the ones braced against the window entwining with his on the cool glass. Their bodies are bathed in the sparkling lights of the city, each glimmering light illuminating their skin a different colour. Jin’s eyes struggle to stay open, glancing down at the barely visible masses of people wandering the streets below them.

 

The slap of skin against skin is violently loud, Jin’s teeth digging into his bottom lip as he tries to keep quiet.

 

“No, don’t do that. I want to fucking hear you.”

 

Namjoon breathes heavily against his shoulder, his hand gliding from Jin’s hip to wrap around his lover’s semi-hard cock. Jin groans deeply at the pressure on his sensitive arousal, the overstimulation bordering painful as Namjoon tries to coax another climax from his body. 

Flustered whines and moans now spew freely from Jin’s lips, no longer working to restrain the sounds and becoming more vocal after Namjoon’s request. Jin turns his head, the glass fogging up from the harsh breaths that spill from his lips as he tries to move his hips in time with Namjoon’s, meeting the rough thrusts.

 

Namjoon mouths at the nape of Jin’s neck, placing sloppy, open-mouthed kisses against the flushed skin. “Come on, baby boy. Are you close?”

 

Jin’s body freezes, whimpering pathetically at the pet name as Namjoon smirks knowingly against his neck, teeth scraping across the curve of his shoulder. “Answer me, baby. Tell Daddy if you’re ready to come again.”

 

Jin fingers twitch against the glass, hips shifting tentatively as he refuses to answer, not ready to give Namjoon what he wants. “N-Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon’s fingers run through his hair gently before tugging, snapping his head back so that his lover has access to his throat. Namjoon’s hips still, hand unwrapping from his arousal and coming up to tease at the hardened nubs of his nipples, pinching them gently. “Hmm… what’s that baby boy? I didn’t quite hear you.”

 

Jin groans, maddening need spreading through his body as he tries to fuck himself on Namjoon’s cock, hips snapping back and forth in jerky movements, unable to get a smooth rhythm. Namjoon forgets what he’s meant to be doing for a moment, completely transfixed at the sensual sight of Jin’s desperate movements. It’s not long before he snaps out of it, hands gripping Jin’s hips tightly and drawing a frustrated grumble from his chest. “You know the word. Say it and I’ll give you what you want.”

 

Jin doesn’t want to give in, doesn’t want to give Namjoon the satisfaction of winning, but he’s too restless, too desperate to try and fight against it. He knows his stubborn boyfriend won’t give him what he wants until he complies, all attempts of resistance are futile. “D-Daddy… please let me come.”

 

Namjoon grins in victory, eyes staring at the reflection of Jin’s face in the glass, admiring the embarrassed flush that tinges his cheeks red. His hips pick up the pace again, snapping forwards brutally as he chases his orgasm. His hand wraps back around Jin’s arousal, pumping in time with his thrusts and twisting his hand on every upstroke.

 

Jin chokes out a moan, repeated words erupting from his lips as he nears his second orgasm. “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.”

 

Namjoon’s lips brush against his ear, hot breath fanning across his face. “Such a good boy for Daddy. Come for me, baby boy.”

 

It’s all that Jin needs, Namjoon’s raspy voice and the rapid snap of his hips pushing him over the edge. Jin comes with a startled shout, body clenching as the hot spurts of his release spill over Namjoon’s hand and down onto the carpet. Namjoon follows him not long after, the force of his orgasm making his hips stutter forward, coming inside of Jin’s tight heat. He rests his sweaty forehead against Jin’s shoulder, hips gyrating slowly as they come down from their climaxes.

 

They stand there quietly for a while, Namjoon’s hands coming to caress down the length of Jin’s body. His fingers worship every inch of lightly tanned skin he can get his hands on as they stare out at the beautiful lights of the city. He pulls his softening member out of Jin, dribbles of cum leaking from the stretched entrance and streaking slowly down Jin’s inner thighs. It’s not before Jin begins to sway, unsteady legs wobbling from exhaustion, that Namjoon sweeps his lover up into his arms, carrying him the small distance to their neglected, luxurious bed.

 

He lays Jin gently on the lavish mattress before rushing off to the bathroom to retrieve a warm washcloth, eyes widening when he finally sees his own reflection. His hair is disgusting, streaked black and sitting limply against his forehead from all the sweat that’s gathered on his scalp. His eyes are dry and bloodshot from being exposed to the sweltering heat of the fire, a smudge of black streaking across his cheek.

 

He splashes some water across his face in a half-assed attempt to clean himself, no energy left to even consider a shower. He wipes his face on the towel hanging over the top of the shower, staining it black, before pulling the little hand towel from the ring on the wall, dampening it under the warm stream of water. He flicks the bathroom light off, softly padding back towards where Jin is lying patiently, eyelids heavy with sleep as he glances up blearily at Namjoon.

 

Namjoon hops onto the bed, kneeling between Jin’s legs and tenderly cleaning up the mess between his thighs. Jin hisses softly when the wash cloth rubs against his entrance, the area still too sensitive and painful to touch. Namjoon furrows his brow, hand brushing against Jin’s stomach to get his attention. “I hurt you. You should have told me to stop.”

 

Jin smiles at Namjoon lovingly, a long yawn flowing from his lips. “Don’t be silly. I wanted it like that, trust me.”

 

Namjoon does one final swipe across Jin’s lower stomach before tossing the dirtied rag onto the bedside table to deal with in the morning, lowering his body down to lay beside Jin and drawing the other close to his side. “You’re not going to be able to sit down tomorrow at work and I think you’re going to need to wear a scarf.”

 

Jin groans loudly, fingers coming up to brush lightly against his neck, feeling for the small purple bruises that litter his neck. “Fuck it. They asked me to come in and review something tomorrow but I’m calling in sick. It’s meant to be my weekend, I don’t care what they say.”

 

Namjoon snorts, only feeling slightly guilty at his actions. “Now that we’ve calmed down. Why did you just assume that I was dead? Don’t you think that you jumped to an extreme conclusion?”

 

Jin sighs softly, propping his chin up on Namjoon’s hard chest while his fingers trace along the tribal tattoo that spans his lover’s shoulder. “The police and the fire brigade were already there by the time I arrived. A policeman told me that the shop had been ripped apart by the explosion. You were inside, Namjoon. What other conclusion was I meant to come to? Especially when there was no word from you after the accident.”

 

Namjoon pulls Jin in closer, nudging their noses together as he apologises, “I’m sorry, my mind drifted away and I didn’t realize, I didn’t think. I never meant to worry you. I’m so sorry.”

 

Jin’s fingers brush gently over the sharp edges of Namjoon’s collarbone, pressing a chaste peck to his other half’s waiting lips. “You’re lucky I happen to love you as much as I do, but if you ever do that to me again Kim Namjoon, I’ll kill you myself.”

 

Namjoon hums in acknowledgement, arms curling around Jin’s waist as they lay there silently, reveling in the presence of each other. He’s on the border of sleep when he hears Jin’s soft, teasing words, making him groan in exasperation.

 

“By the way, you’re cleaning the cum off of the window and out of the carpet tomorrow. Think of it as your punishment for being such an asshole.”

 

*~*~*

 

A mist blankets the streets in the early hours of the morning. The ambience is almost tranquil inside the apartment, the anger and the pain washing away with last night’s endeavors and making way for a peaceful weekend. It’s toasty under the heavy doona, and the fine Egyptian cotton feels magical against his naked skin. The tiniest rays of light filter in through the gaps of the blinds, but they don’t at all disturb Jin. He cracks open his eyes and blinks a few times, the swollen irritation a mild set back to an otherwise beautiful morning. He turns over onto his stomach and stretches his limbs like a cat, his big toe brushing against Namjoon’s calf and causing him to groan and roll away.

 

“Your feet are freezing,” Namjoon grumbles, nuzzling into his pillow with every intention of going back to sleep, but Jin has other plans.

 

He winds his arms around his lover’s middle and bear hugs him, his legs winding around Namjoon’s thighs to press his cold feet against his heated flesh. Namjoon makes high-pitched whining noises that make it sound as though he’s sobbing dramatically, but he doesn’t move away. Instead he rolls them over until he’s lying on top of Jin, and it’s Jin’s turn to make high-pitched whining noises.

 

“Get off. You weigh a tonne,” groans Jin as he shoves his boyfriend off of him.

 

The silver-haired man chuckles as he squirms to properly face Jin, his lips stretching into a lazy grin. He places his arms on either side of the other’s torso, leaning down to press sluggish, open-mouthed kisses along Jin’s prominent collarbones. Jin makes an appreciative humming noise, carding his fingers through his boyfriend’s hair and admiring the gentle shadows splayed across his tan skin. He thinks morning Namjoon is probably his favorite, but only because he has a weakness for the man’s ruffled bed hair. His eyes appear smaller from the tiredness and his blinking is slower and more lethargic, making him look extra cute.

 

“Let’s just stay in bed,” Namjoon murmurs softly, his lips brushing lower to kiss Jin’s left pictorial. “We could just sleep the day away,” he suggests. He kisses back up to the side of Jin’s neck, eliciting a loving smile. “And maybe some other stuff, if you’re up for it,” he breathes, his breath caressing the underside of Jin’s ear.

 

He feels Namjoon move a hand down along his ribs before slipping behind him to grope at his buttock. Jin moans, his hands slipping down from Namjoon’s hair to cup his face and bring him up for kiss. Namjoon keeps his hand there, cupping his mould and rubbing his thumb into the plush, taut skin. Their tongues dance languidly, twirling and pushing against one another without any passion or heat needed to goad arousal. Namjoon’s fingers slip between Jin’s sculpted buttocks to brush the tips against his twitching entrance, the hole clenching at the warm contact.

 

Jin nips at Namjoon’s bottom lip before pulling away, panting and slightly flushed from the lazy foreplay. “Namjoonie,” he croons softly, regarding his boyfriend with a hooded gaze. “We can’t stay in bed. Tae’s tutor is coming today, remember?”

 

Namjoon drops his head between the junction of Jin’s jaw and shoulder, releasing a frustrated groan. “Whose idea was it to have him around on a Sunday?”

 

“Yours,” Jin smiles gently, his fingers starting to idly wander along the tattoo on Namjoon’s shoulder. “We cancelled his Thursday appointment because you couldn’t be around to supervise, remember?”

 

Namjoon exhales sharply. “I’m an idiot.”

 

“You’re not an idiot.” Jin inclines his head to press his lips against the man’s temple. “You’re just protective.”

 

“Yeah,” mutters Namjoon, “I hate that.”

 

Jin giggles, patting him lightly on his shoulder blade. “I want to have a shower before the kids get up. God forbid they see me like this.”

 

“I’m only allowed to see you like this,” Namjoon growls, his tongue lapping over a hickey he had imprinted on Jin’s skin the night before.

 

A dusty blush adorns Jin’s cheeks, flashbacks of last night’s events flitting across his thoughts before he starts to squirm, lightly nudging Namjoon’s off of him. He would rather not get aroused now and run the risk of never leaving the bedroom for the entire day, because lord knows once Namjoon gets going there’s no stopping him. Namjoon moves easily, flopping down onto his back with his arm thrown across his eyes. The doona has slipped down to hug the man’s waist, exposing his deliciously toned upper body. Jin takes a brief moment to admire his boyfriend before slinking off to the bathroom in all his naked glory.

 

He’s smart enough to lock the ensuite door behind him on the likely chance Namjoon will try to sneak in a quickie before breakfast. It’s amazing, the feeling of warm water hitting his skin once he’s stepped into the shower’s glass casing. Even though he thoroughly enjoyed last night’s conclusion, waking up with dry sweat clinging to his body isn’t the best feeling in the world. It’s nice to wash away the scent of sex along with all the stress that had occurred. That moment, when he thought he had lost Namjoon forever, had been the coldest he had ever felt. He shudders at the thought of ever losing the love of his life. Yesterday, it had very nearly became a reality.

 

What would he have done if he had actually lost Namjoon? He doesn’t know – he doesn’t want to know. Even contemplating the thought makes him want to cry. He shoves all the insecurity to the back of his mind and focuses on simply bathing. He doesn’t take incredibly long, washing his hair and body in little under five minutes before stepping out. He toweled himself dry and ruffles his soaking locks, appraising himself in the mirror before lightly cursing. Namjoon had worked a number on his neck. He isn’t sure how he’s going to cover that up inconspicuously.

 

Namjoon hasn’t moved from his position on the bed when Jin re-enters. He flashes the man a loving smile before padding over to the wardrobe, fishing out a pair of comfortable sweats. He saunters back over to the bed to plant a kiss on Namjoon’s lips, causing him to remove his arm from his eyes and blink at him slowly.

 

“Get up, or else you’ll miss breakfast.” Namjoon whines, reaching out and snatching Jin’s wrist, dragging him down into his arms and locking him tightly in an embrace.

 

“Stay. Sleep,” Namjoon mutters into Jin’s hair, and Jin laughs, squirming in the man’s strong hold.

 

He somehow manages to maneuver himself so that he’s straddling Namjoon’s hips, planting his hands on either side of the man’s head as Namjoon rests his hands on Jin’s waist.

 

“You know,” Jin leans forward, his lips brushing against his boyfriend’s lips teasingly. “For an ex-fugitive you sure are needy.”

 

Namjoon chuckles as he welcomes the lips that press against his own. His grip tightens on Jin’s waist and he’s very tempted to flip Jin onto his back and show him just how needy he can be, but the moment shatters when a loud banging rattles against the bedroom door. Namjoon groans agitatedly.

 

“Oi! I’m happy that you two old birds have rekindled the passion in your relationship or whatever, but we’re starving out here!” There’s little doubt on who has disrupted their perfect moment. It will almost always be Taehyung. “Hyung!” Taehyung whines obnoxiously. “Make us pancakes! Pancakes on Sunday are a tradition!”

 

“Since when has it been a tradition?” Namjoon grumbles under his breath. Jin smiles apologetically before slipping off his body.

 

“I guess it was fun while it lasted?” Jin chuckles, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and padding over to the door.

 

The moment he opens it, an overzealous Taehyung tackles him. The younger is lucky Jin is strong, or else they both would have gone tumbling to the floor. He accepts the boy’s embrace wholeheartedly, nuzzling into Taehyung’s soft bed hair. He must have just gotten up himself, because it’s quite obvious that he hasn’t gone to the bathroom to clean up yet. When Taehyung steps away, he’s wearing his signature box-grin with a fiendish glint in his smiling crescents.

 

“I’m loving the look,” Taehyung says, gesturing flamboyantly at Jin’s neck. Jin blushes and slaps a hand over the hickey, his eyes narrowing.

 

“Stop being a brat,” he growls, ushering Taehyung out into the hallway. “Where’s Jungkookie?”

 

Taehyung grins, flicking his wrist in the direction of his room. Jin pushes away the half-opened door to find Jungkook sitting up in bed, the doona pooling around his thighs and his usually perfect raven locks tasseled and charmingly messy. The boy blinks at him before smiling, but something distracts him and he quickly ducks his head, biting down on his bottom lip.

 

Jin is confused by the bashful display, but smiles nonetheless. “Jungkookie,” he holds out of his hand, inviting him over, “Come. I’ll make you and Tae some pancakes.”

 

Jungkook nods slowly before slipping out of bed, treading over to the door and accepting Jin’s outstretched hand. Taehyung claps his hands goofily and leads the way, a slight bounce in his step. He makes hooting noises that echo throughout the house and Jin cringes. It’s too early for this shit.

 

He glances at Jungkook to see if he’s thinking along the same lines, but is unsurprised to find him smiling after Taehyung fondly, his big doe eyes swimming with undeniable warmth. Jungkook adores Taehyung just as much as Taehyung adores Jungkook. Jin had thought, initially, that their personalities would conflict and it could never work, but perhaps Namjoon was right after all. Perhaps they balance each other out and make them stronger as a couple. He just hopes it all works out for the best – he prays for their happiness every passing day, because happiness is all they deserve.

 

Taehyung sits down on one of the stools and Jin starts pulling out the ingredients. Jungkook helps by preparing the mixing bowls and frying pan, doing it without even needing to be asked. Jin fetches two aprons from the cupboard. He supposes there isn’t any harm in letting Jungkook help this time. He’s been healing quite nicely this past month or so. His check up is due soon, but from what he can deduce from his medical knowledge, Jungkook will make a full recovery.

 

Taehyung chats away as Jin and Jungkook make the batter, something about a new game coming out – which, Jin dutifully reminds, will be bought as a present if he passes his entrance exams. He couldn’t have the kids turn totally spoilt after all.

 

Namjoon joins them in the kitchen once the batter has been prepared and the first pancake is frying away on the pan. He sluggishly drops down onto a stool beside Taehyung, rubbing his eyes and quietly sulking. No one questions it, knowing that it will certainly make way for a heated rant they would all rather avoid.

 

“You look pretty in an apron,” Taehyung comments, his eyes following after Jungkook as he adds another cooked pancake to the gradually growing stack. The raven-haired boy blinks, looking over his shoulder at him as though he can hardly believe the compliment left his boyfriend’s lips.

 

“O-oh!” Jungkook’s voice piques when he actually processes the words, fighting down a blush that everyone can plainly see. “Th-thanks.”

 

Jin grins, ruffling Jungkook’s head of hair before pouring more batter onto the hot pan. His dongsaengdeul are adorable. “Tae, can you go set the table? I think we’ve almost made enough pancakes to feed all of us.”

 

Taehyung grins, saluting the man before jumping off the stool. Namjoon slips off his stool and goes off to fetch the cutlery, not needing to wait around to be asked by his boyfriend.

 

“It looks delicious,” Taehyung hums as Jin places the stack of pancakes in the centre of the table, the aroma rising to sit comfortably in the domestic atmosphere. Jungkook brings the syrup and sugar, placing them down before assuming his seat at Taehyung’s side, allowing his boyfriend to distribute the pancakes to him. “Though, that’s exactly what Jin was saying to Namjoon last night as well.”

 

Jin’s jaw slackens and he almost drops the pancake he has piked on the end of his fork. Jungkook buries his face in his hands, most likely to hide a raging blush, and the corner of Namjoon’s eyebrow twitches, his hand paused in mid-motion to seize the syrup.

 

“Taehyung!” Jin yells in shock, unable to hide his clear embarrassment.

 

“I never knew you were the screaming type, hyung. I could pinpoint the exact moment you were taking it up the ass – multiple times throughout the night, actually. And go Namjoon-hyung! That stamina of yours really lives up to your street name.” Taehyung hums happily to himself as he sprinkles a scandalous amount of sugar onto his pancakes, unfazed by the stares he is receiving from his hyungdeul. “Daddy – Oh, I mean, Namjoon-hyung, can you please pass me the syrup?”

 

“Why were you shouting ‘daddy,’ hyung?” Jungkook asks almost panicky. “You two aren’t related, are you?”

 

Namjoon pushes away his plate of pancakes. He’s lost his appetite.

 

No,” answers Jin, his face stiff with horror. “No, no, I assure you, Jungkook, Namjoon and I are not related.”

 

“Then why were you – ”

 

“There will be no further references to last night thank you!” Jin squawks. Jungkook cringes, shrinking into his seat as Taehyung presents a Cheshire grin.

 

“Whatever helps you sleep at night, baby.”

 

They eat the pancakes in silence. It’s so awkward that it’s suffocating; almost all of them feel the tension in the air – well, all of them except Taehyung. He ended up enjoying most of the pancakes while the rest of them picked at one or two, appetites ruined. When the pancakes are gone Jin stands and starts clearing. Jungkook moves to do the same, but Taehyung places a hand on his shoulder, kissing his temple lightly.

 

“I’ll do it sweetheart. It’s Sunday morning, remember? M-Countdown is probably on. Why don’t you go watch it with Daddy – I mean Namjoon-hyung, and I’ll join you in a minute, hm?” Taehyung meets Namjoon’s glare with a wink before snatching up some of the plates and sauntering away.

 

Namjoon sighs, pushing away from the table and standing. He makes sure Jungkook is following him as he drags his feet out of the kitchen, leading him over to the couch to start tinkering with the channels.

 

Jin starts running the hot water in the sink and applying some detergent, waiting for the sink to fill as Taehyung stacks the plates beside it. Jin turns his back to the sink and leans against it, his palms pressed against the rim with his wrists fully exposed. The silvery white scars catch Taehyung’s eye and he rests his hip against the bench, cocking his head slightly to the side.

 

“You know, hyung,” he starts, seizing the man’s attention. “I never asked you about your scars.”

 

Jin follows Taehyung’s line of sight to his wrists. It’s true that in all the years Taehyung has known Jin, he has never once asked about his wrists, even though the boy has undoubtedly seen them on numerous occasions, because it isn’t as though he makes the effort to hide them.

 

“I had clinical depression as a teenager,” he sighs, shaking his head. “I didn’t fully understand what was wrong with me, and I thought cutting myself would be the answer. I wasn’t always a rational person.”

 

Taehyung blinks in surprise, his eyebrows disappearing past his fringe. “You had clinical depression?”

 

“It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?” Jin smiles gently.

 

“Well it’s just… you’re usually so… normal. I guess I just never pictured you as the kind of guy to have issues.” Taehyung scratches the back of his head sheepishly, avoiding Jin’s gaze.

 

“It’s understandable,” Jin chuckles, not at all offended. “We met after that time in my life had past. It’s no longer something that plagues me, nor is it something I’m still ashamed of. Namjoon helped me come to terms with what I used to be, and I was able to move on.”

 

Taehyung smiles before taking a step forward, prancing up on his tippy-toes to wrap his arms around Jin’s neck. The older man chuckles, returning the embrace with a gentle smile touching his lips. “I’ll always be here for you hyung!”

 

Jin pecks Taehyung’s forehead. “I’ll clean up. You go join Jungkook and Namjoon.”

 

“You mean Da-”

 

“Please, spare me the torment.” Taehyung grins and steps away, saluting Jin before skittering out of the kitchen.

 

It doesn’t take an awfully long time for Jin to wash and dry the dishes. He makes sure to stack them back in the cupboard before cleaning up the kitchen entirely, refusing to leave until he has it as spotless as it was before breakfast rolled around. He puts his hands on his hips, appraising his hard work with a sense of self-satisfaction before the noise emitting from the lounge room distracts him. Jin drifts over to the archway, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the frame with a small but fond smile.

 

Namjoon is sitting on the couch with his arm splayed along the back of it. Jungkook is sitting next to him with his legs crossed, bouncing his leg against the older man’s thigh as they watch Taehyung trying to match the dancing on the screen. Surprisingly, Taehyung isn’t as bad as Jin would’ve thought, matching up with Krystal as she sweeps across the stage in her converse clad feet. Jungkook is cheering him on, swaying to the beat of Rum Pum Pum Pum. Namjoon is chuckling and making lazy criticisms about Taehyung’s sloppy footwork, even though Jin knows his boyfriend wouldn’t be able to do much better.

 

It’s beautiful, this moment. The whole scene is so wonderfully domestic that Jin cannot comprehend how lucky he is. Even though him and Namjoon aren’t married, and even though Taehyung and Jungkook aren’t related to him biologically, Jin can’t help but look upon this moment think: this is my family.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

 

 

The straps of his backpack bite heavily into his shoulders as he wanders through the clean lobby of the hospital, a tray of two bubble teas balanced firmly in his hands. His high school isn’t far from the hospital, only 10 minutes walking distance, and it was one of his mother’s rare half days so she could actually drive him home. The receptionist at the desk recognises him instantly, enthusiastically waving him over with an exaggerated hand gesture.

 

He smiles warmly, shuffling around the busy doctors and nurses that scurry across the hospital towards the polished wooden desk. “Good afternoon, Sooyoung-ssi. How has your day been?”

 

The blonde woman leans over the counter, playfully squeezing Jin’s youthful cheeks with her dainty fingers as he places the drinks down onto the counter before he drops them. “Such a young gentleman, aren’t you Seokjin? And how many times have I told you to call me noona?”

 

A faint blush crosses Jin’s cheeks at the familiarity between them, still a little self-conscious and awkward at using casual speech. “I’m sorry… noona.”

 

A satisfied grin crosses her face, red lips curling upwards as she sits back into her swivelling desk chair. “See, that wasn’t too hard was it?”

 

Jin breathes out a soft laugh, readjusting the straps of his backpack and rolling his eyes in a jokingly sarcastic manner. “Have you seen my mum?”

 

She lets out a playful laugh, fingers sifting through and shuffling the files stacked on her desk. “I think her and your father were called to the paediatric ward.”

 

Jin nods his head in thanks and picks up the tray, pushing away from the counter and heading towards the lobby elevators. It’s always hard trying to find his mum or dad in this behemoth of a hospital, never being in their offices and jumping from floor to floor. He jabs at the elevator button with his elbow, gazing up patiently as the numbers count down to the ground floor.

 

It doesn’t take long, the shrill beep echoing through the lobby as the elevator doors open and a swarm of bustling interns, who are completing their residency, pile out of the tight metal box.

 

Jin steps back, bowing politely as they walk past before slipping into the now empty elevator, again clicking the button for the fifth floor with his elbow. Cheesy background music spills from the speakers, whistling and chiming calmly in the contained space. Jin almost laughs at how whimsical the tune is, bobbing along to the music.

 

His spine stiffens though when he reaches the correct floor, fingers tightening on the drink tray before stepping out into the sterile hallway. Colourful paints streak the walls, swirls of rainbows and various characters lining the long corridor. He pauses for a moment in the busy hallway, just to admire the joy and cheerfulness of the artwork, having not been on the floor since it had been renovated.

 

He’s overjoyed that his parents took his proposal seriously, having commented on the possible improvements to the paediatric ward over dinner one night. He remembers when the walls used to be a boring and borderline sickly pale green, offering a bland and rather depressing environment for the healing children.

 

A small, soft voice startles him out of his thoughts, “Do you like Pokémon too, ajusshi?”

 

Jin turns to find a young girl standing beside him, gazing up at the wall that had stolen his attention. “I’m not an ajusshi just yet. Please, call me oppa.”

 

The girl comically scrunches her tiny, button nose, gazing up at Jin with critical eyes. “You’re older than my brother, so that makes you an ajusshi.”

 

Jin laughs loudly at the girl’s sure declaration, finding the blunt statement quite amusing. “And just how old is your brother? How old are you?”

 

The girl crosses her arms, giving Jin a toothy grin, well a half toothy grin seeing as she was missing two of her baby teeth. “I’m eight, thank you very much. My brother is twelve, though he looks younger because he’s too short for his age. Anyway, you didn’t answer my question. Do you like Pokémon?”

 

Jin nods, wispy bangs of his side fringe swaying softly as he moves. “Yeah, I do. I mean, I’ve only played a couple of the games, but I’ve watched all the movies.”

 

The young girl’s eyes twinkle with excitement, hands clapping enthusiastically at Jin’s affirmation. “Ohh, What’s your favourite Pokémon?”

 

Jin’s eye flit back to the wall, shrugging half-heartedly as he considers his options. “Jigglypuff, I guess.”

 

Jin jerks back in surprise when the girl blows a raspberry at him, dissatisfied with his choice. “Really!? You couldn’t have picked a more boring and overrated Pokémon. Absol is definitely the best. She’s so beautiful and graceful.”

 

Jin’s about to argue on Jigglypuff’s behalf, defending its honour, when a boyish voice exclaims down the hall, “Jiyeon! What are you doing out of bed? Doctor Kim said you aren’t meant to be up and about for another day!”

 

The girl, Jiyeon, freezes and glares over her shoulder at who Jin assumes to be her brother. “I got bored, Jiminnie! I needed to get up and move around.”

 

It’s only then that Jin takes in Jiyeon’s appearance and realises that she is a patient of the ward, his eye tracing over the red dot attachments and wires that peek out the top of her hospital gown, and the IV pole that she is clinging onto tightly for support. His heart drops into his stomach when he notes the distinct lack of hair on her pale head, her baldness partially hidden by a pale orange bandana.

 

She’s one of his mother’s cancer patients.

 

Jimin, having only just registered Jin’s presence, glances up at the slightly older boy before looking back at his sister, who he has yet to finish scolding. “Who is this, Jiyeon?”

 

Jiyeon rolls her eyes with too much sass for an eight year old, crossing her arms across her chest, but careful not to agitate her IV. “It’s just some ajusshi with a crappy taste in Pokémon.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widen comically, eyes flickering nervously between his sister and Jin as he splutters. “J-Jiyeon. You can’t just say that to people. It’s not polite because he’s not an ajusshi and he’s entitled to like whatever Pokémon he wants.”

 

Jiyeon only waves off Jimin’s etiquette lesson, already turning and heading back to her room. “Whatever. You two are boring. I’m going back before Doctor Kim catches me, she’s due to do her rounds soon.”

 

Jimin stares after his sister’s bony form, shaking his head in exasperation before turning apologetically towards Jin. “I’m sorry. She can be a bit snarky sometimes, it’s a bit worse at the moment because she had a chemo treatment yesterday.”

 

Jin shakes his head quickly, “It’s no problem. We had quite an amusing conversation. I’m Kim Seokjin, Doctor Kim’s son.”

 

Jimin’s eyes alight with recognition at the name, rushing forward to wrap his arms around the older boy’s waist in a hug. “Jin-hyung! Your mum and dad always talk to us about you, our parents are quite close.”

 

Jin blankly stares down at the unruly, chestnut mop of hair, brain working quickly to try and remember the name that his parent’s had mentioned a couple of times over the past months. “Park? Mr and Mrs Park?”

 

Jimin doesn’t let go, nodding furiously against his chest as his fingers curl into Jin’s shirt. “I’m so happy to finally meet you. My mum keeps saying that you’ll come and hang out with me one day, when they have time to do a dinner get together, but we haven’t had the chance to plan one yet.”

 

A melodious and elegant laugh, that Jin knows all too well, dances down the corridor, paired with the sound of softly clicking heels as his mother walks towards the still embracing duo. “Looks like you’ve finally met Jimin. I knew you two would get along.”

 

Jimin finally unwinds himself from Jin, turning to smile evilly at his mother. “Jiyeon was wandering around before. Just to let you know… maybe you can talk some sense into her.”

 

Doctor Kim’s eyes arch into crescents as she smiles brightly, hand reaching out to ruffle Jimin’s long hair fondly. “Don’t worry. I saw her trying to sneak back into her bed. I’m going to tell her off. Anyway, I’ve just finished my shift, shall we head off, Jin?”

 

Jin nods softly, body dipping in a polite, farewell bow for Jimin when the boy’s arms wrap tightly around him again. “I hope I get to see you again soon, hyung! Come and visit us again, yeah?”

 

Jin’s eyes soften, hand reaching up to pat Jimin’s shoulder in reassurance. “Sure, I will. I’ll come and visit you guys in the ward whenever I drop by.”

 

Doctor Kim’s laugh tinkles down the hallway once again, plucking one of the bubble cups from the tray in Jin’s outstretched arm and sipping on the large straw. “You two are going to be the best of friends, I can already see it.”

  

*~*~*

 

Hoseok isn’t sure how he got roped into sitting in the middle seat. Jin had been all ambiguous, calling them up randomly during the day and tells them to wait outside their apartment complex. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t have been a big ask, but snow was falling down hard yesterday and the temperature dropped to below zero degrees. Waiting outside in the warmest clothing that they had, the snow coming to about halfway up their shins, had demanded more effort than it really should have. When Jin finally did pull up on the curb in his fancy black Audi, it had came as an even bigger (and rather unfortunate) surprise to see Taehyung roll down the window from the backseat and poke his head out with a large grin. Because wherever Taehyung goes, Jungkook is never far behind.

 

“This is definitely illegal,” he grumbles, his arms crossed over his chest.

 

Yoongi had practically dragged Namjoon out of the passenger seat and took his place, forcing the silver-haired man to cram into the back with the rest of them, wounding up with Taehyung sitting in his lap. Jimin is in the same position on the other side of Hoseok, his arms wound around Jungkook’s waist as the younger clings to him nervously. Hoseok politely ignores the two pairs of legs that are strewn across his lap as he adjusts his seatbelt, being the only one lucky enough to wear one in the backseat.

 

“Jungkookie,” Jimin coos as he nuzzles into the side of Jungkook’s head. “Have you changed shampoos? You smell different since last time we saw each other.”

 

“Quit sniffing my boyfriend!” Taehyung whines, squirming on Namjoon’s lap with a childish pout.

 

Namjoon grips Taehyung’s hips tightly, pinning the younger with a warning glare. “Stop moving.”

 

Taehyung flashes him a devilish smirk before grinding down on Namjoon’s pelvis, causing Namjoon to choke. “Sorry daddy, is baby being bad? You gonna punish me?”

 

“Taehyung I swear to god I’m going to pull over and leave you on the side of the road if you don’t behave!” Jin reprimands from the driver’s seat, meeting Taehyung’s mischievous grin in the rearview mirror.

 

Yoongi’s eyes slide to Jin, his eyebrow cocked accusingly. “Why is Tae calling Namjoon ‘daddy’?”

 

Jin groans, hitting the back of his head against his seat and leaves the question sitting in the air. The awkward vibe lasts about two seconds before Taehyung starts squirming again, this time to take off Jungkook’s shoes. He unashamedly sits them on Hoseok’s lap – because apparently he’s a shoe rack now – and starts toying with Jungkook’s toes. Nobody bothers to question it, not even Jungkook, who is enraptured by Jimin’s right earing.

 

“What made you decide to get your ears pierced?” Jungkook blinks, his eyes wide and curious.

 

“Eh – they’re pretty cool aren’t they, Jungkookie?” Jimin grins proudly. “I got them done a couple years ago, but I’m only allowed to wear them on the weekends. Work can be a bit of a stickler for dress code.”

 

“They look great,” the younger compliments with a shy smile.

 

Jimin reaches up to squish the boy’s cheeks, his eyes arching into happy crescents as he paws at Jungkook’s face. “Well aren’t you just the sweetest, cutest lil jelly bean ever. I just want to wrap you up in blankets and feed you marshmallows.”

 

“This is why Jungkookie never calls you,” Yoongi chuckles from the front seat. “Your obsession with him is an illness and you need to see someone about it.”

 

“Stop trying to oppress me!” Jimin wails dramatically, his bottom lip jutting out. “What Jungkookie and I have is real! Jungkookie, tell them you love me.”

 

“Um.” Jungkook meets Namjoon’s gaze and he looks a little desperate, so, like the decent paternal figure he is, Namjoon steps up with a heavy sigh.

 

I love you, Park Jimin,” Namjoon announces in a cheesy voice, causing Taehyung and Hoseok to bark with laughter. “Your woollen beanie to your red converse shoes, ah – you just get my heart racing.” Namjoon makes a point of clutching his chest and biting down on his bottom lip, but everyone knows he’s just trying to maintain his composure. “Your laughter reminds me of wind chimes, and your abs are sharper than any cheese-grater ever made. You are my love, you are my life.”

 

“EWW!” Taehyung shoves his hand against Namjoon’s cheek and starts rolling down the window. “Pull over, I’m going to throw up!”

 

“Me too,” says Yoongi, poking out his tongue and pretending to gag.

 

“We cannot be together, Kim Namjoon!” Jimin cries dramatically, throwing his arm over his eyes. “For I am… your grandson, sent from the distant future to prevent the impending zombie apocalypse!”

 

Hoseok gasps dramatically, throwing a hand over his heart with his jaw slack and his eyes wide. “Bless my pearls!”

 

“The end is neigh!” Taehyung flails.

 

“The love of my life is my own grandchild!” Namjoon howls.

 

“I’m friends with a bunch of idiots,” Jin sighs, keeping his eyes on the road.

 

“You never told us where you were taking us,” Yoongi inclines his head to the side, as though only just being hit with the revelation. The three of them were just so relieved to get out of the cold and into Jin’s car that it never occurred to him why Jin had come around to pick them up in the first place.

 

“You’ll see,” is all Jin provides.

 

Jimin and Taehyung’s eyes meet, their pupils comically dilated. “Well,” Jimin sighs. “I knew it was only a matter of time before Jin took us all down to his secret meat locker and cut us all up. I was just hoping I’d get to see my daughter down the aisle before it was my time.”

 

“Jimin, we don’t have a daughter,” Yoongi deadpans.

 

Jimin gasps, his nostrils flaring. “You mean to tell me Abigail was a figment of my imagination the entire time?!”

 

“Abigail?” Namjoon cocks an eyebrow. “Why would you give her an English name?”

 

“Because Yoongi and I like to be different – big whoop, wanna fight about?”

 

“One v one me I’ll meet you out in the alley in ten.”

 

“You’re on, punk!”

 

Jungkook flinches at the tightened grip on his ribs and Jimin’s ‘tough guy’ demeanour lasts about two seconds before he’s clutching Jungkook and wailing loudly. “Jungkookie I’m sorry I forgot about your ribs baby please forgive me I don’t know how I’ll live on knowing that I’ve hurt you I’m so, so sorry!” He rocks them back and forth, stroking Jungkook’s head, and Jungkook is pulling a face that makes Taehyung choke back laughter.

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook whines. “Are we almost to your meat locker? I think I’d like to get chopped up right about now.”

 

It’s another ten minutes of constant banter, mostly from the kids in the backseat, before Seokjin finally pulls up outside a building, the sidewalk blanketed in snow. They all pile out of the car, their expressions a mix of curiosity and confusion. Namjoon opens the boot of the car and pulls out speakers that he carries under his arm, the other cradling his laptop and charger. Jin approaches the entrance to the building, punching in a code to properly unlock it.

 

Inside there are stairs, one going up and one going down. They follow Jin down the concrete steps, the horrible insulation making it all the more frigid. There’s a door there, looking a little worse for wear with a keyhole engraved into the doorknob.

 

“Oh dear lord,” Hoseok cries, his breath coming out as fog. “He really is leading us into a meat locker.”

 

“Yeah, and Namjoon is probably gonna drop some sick beats with his speakers to drown out our screams!” Taehyung shrieks.

 

“Oh stop being assholes,” Jin grumbles as he sorts through his ring of keys to locate the right one.

 

Yoongi regards the older skeptically. “Did you just ask us not to be true to ourselves?”

 

“You brats are going to be the death of me.”

 

Namjoon rolls his eyes. “Tell me about it.”

 

Seokjin finally gets the door open, and to everyone’s surprise, they walk from concrete onto polished floorboards. It’s a spacious room with every wall aligned with mirrors. There are small, rectangular windows positioned on one side of the room, looking out onto the sidewalk where feet of the occasional civilian can be seen strolling past. Namjoon squishes past his five friends frozen in the doorway and makes his way over to the power point in the corner. He starts setting up the speakers and plugging in the charger for his laptop.

 

As Namjoon preoccupies himself, Jin takes a few steps into the room before turning to face his friends, a large, proud grin spreading across his handsome features.

 

“So? What do you think?” he asks in a hopeful tone, spreading his arms out in a sweeping gesture to his surroundings.

 

“It’s a… dance studio?” Jimin blinks, appraising his surroundings with confusion written all over his face.

 

“Not just any dance studio. It’s our dance studio.”

 

Hoseok blanches. “Hyung… what…?”

 

“Namjoon and I – awhile ago – discussed purchasing a space separate from our home where all of us could hang out. You know – a place where we could come and go without it having to be formal. Namjoon got busy with his new business and I got caught up at the hospital, so the idea sort of fizzled a bit. But then Taehyung and Jungkook moved in and Namjoon and I started making plans – and this time we followed through with them.” Namjoon joins Jin’s side and wraps his arm around him, planting a kiss to the brunette’s temple.

 

“We bought this space and I made it into a dance studio,” say Namjoon. “It used to just be a storage space where the landlord kept all his junk, but he sold it to us for a reasonable price and we got to work.”

 

“Yes. We decided on a dance studio because we know how much Jimin and Hoseok love to dance. Which is why I had keys made for each of you.” Jin steps forward, pulling out a small velvet box from his jacket pocket and opening it to reveal five identical keys. “Namjoon and I already have our own so…”

 

“Hyung…” Jimin stares at the keys as though he’s been stunned, his face frozen in shock. Everyone else is relatively similar, at loss on how to properly respond to this display of immense generosity.

 

“How much did the construction cost?” Yoongi’s eyes narrow. “We’ll pay for half of it.”

 

“Don’t be silly,” Namjoon waves off. “This is on us. Consider it a late New Year’s present.”

 

“This is one big present,” Hoseok comments, taking a few steps forward to have a better look around, his hands stuffed into his pockets. He whistles. “This is really neat! The floors are smooth, the mirrors have pristine clarity – it’s like I’m standing in a legitimate studio! Hats off to the carpenter.”

 

Namjoon does an exaggerated bow, his lips pulling into a dimpled grin. “Thank you, thank you. You have my card if you ever need anything done.”

 

“And when Namjoon means anything, he means anything,” Taehyung whispers in Jimin’s ear creepily, eliciting a loud snort from the shorter man.

 

Jin distributes the keys amongst the five of them, getting tackled into a hug left, right and centre from mostly Jimin and Hoseok, who appear to be the most ecstatic about the new arrangement. Yoongi is less enthused; keeping his gaze mostly fixed to the polished floorboards than anywhere else, but forces a smile for the occasion and accepts his key without complaint. He’s doubtful he’s ever going to use this space, not when there are so many mirrors around, but he thinks it’s best to go along with it instead of kicking up a fuss. He doesn’t want to be a killjoy after all.

 

“Show us some of your skills, Hobi! I’ve been dying to see you dance since you told me you were good at it!”

 

“I never said I was good at it. I just said I like to dance,” Hoseok blushes, scratching the back of his head as the attention is so suddenly turned on him – courtesy of a bouncy Jimin. ‘Thanks a lot, Jim Jam.’

 

“Well you’re still going to show us!” Jimin insists, sliding onto his bottom and crossing his legs, his back straightened and his eyes hopeful. The others join Jimin’s side with equally hopeful expressions, and Hoseok can hardly find it in himself to say no to any of them, especially when they’re regarding him in such a way. It’d be rude as well, if he doesn’t use this space for what it has been built for.

 

He starts shedding off his layers of clothing, throwing them all at Jimin to ensure he is buried under the pile of material. The younger doesn't complain, grinning widely and wriggling his eyebrows suggestively. Hoseok rolls his eyes with a smile before making his way over to the laptop and speakers.

 

“The laptop is connected to the speakers so you can choose any song from my playlist,” Namjoon calls after him. “There’s also wifi connection if you want to play something from the Internet.”

 

Hoseok hums in acknowledgement as he scrolls through Namjoon’s playlist for a song that he can work with. Majority of it consists of Hip-hop and Rap, which is just Hoseok’s style. Having similar music tastes is something him and Namjoon regularly bond over, so he’s thankful that Namjoon was thoughtful enough to bring along his laptop. He grins and bites down on his bottom lip when he comes across a song he particularly loves dancing to, double-clicking on it before jogging to the centre of the room, roused by the enthusiasm of his audience as they holler and hoot at him. His eyes meet with Yoongi, who is critically appraising him with a smoky gaze Hoseok has come to be familiar with. He winks at him, and the corners of Yoongi’s lips quirk upwards in amusement.

 

The beat drops and he swivels into motion, his muscles tensing and his body flexing with the rhythm that pounds through the speakers. Jimin howls and Taehyung joins in, punching the air as Hoseok bleeds into the music, becoming one with the pulse and tempo. His feet are feathery light as they sweep across the floor, creating the occasional squeaking noise when he twirls or slams his foot with the right amount of pressure. His heart is pumping in his ears and he’s spurred on by the encouragement of his friends. On one particular turn his eyes meet with Jungkook’s and he very nearly loses his footing, but he manages to recover without anyone actually noticing.

 

He concludes the song with a girly pose and a V-sign, contrasting to the sensual body rolls and powerful movements he had displayed throughout the performance, earning a round of applause. Jimin jumps up and tackles him in a hug, one that he reciprocates with breathless laughter.

 

“Jim Jam you go next!” Taehyung shrieks, squirming up onto his knees and howling to rouse enthusiasm from the others.

 

Jimin’s face drops slightly at the suddenly suggestion, and Hoseok cracks a grin, clapping the shorter man’s shoulder. “Looks like you’re up, Jim Jam,” he whispers hotly in his ear, eliciting quite the pleasing shudder.

 

He steps back with a sultry smirk before strolling over to assume the space Jimin had once occupied between Yoongi and Jin. Jimin laughs nervously at the six pairs of eyes that are giving him undivided attention. He definitely walked right into this situation though, especially after throwing Hoseok under the bus. He loves to dance, but after the performance Hoseok just gave he’s having a hard time believing he could ever hope to match the other’s sheer skill.

 

His eyes meet Yoongi’s, and he’s smiling at him kindly. “Show them what you’re made of,” the blonde says, all the confidence and faith incorporated into his choice of words.

 

Jimin’s chest swells and he quickly skitters off to the laptop to try and find a song. Him and Namjoon clearly don’t have the same tastes. He has no idea who half of these artists are, most of them written and composed by amateur rappers that haven’t become big enough to be household names. He goes the alternative route and opens up YouTube, typing in a song he perfected years ago out of sheer obsession.

 

Yoongi leans back on the support of his palms as he watches Jimin teeter nervously into the centre of the room, toying with the hem of his shirt. He thinks his boyfriend looks adorable when he’s shy, because he honestly has no reason to be. He’s performing in front of friends without the pressure of criticism, and Yoongi knows that his boyfriend has quite the talent for dancing. Yet, Jimin still nibbles nervously on his bottom lip as the song starts to play. His movements are adorably stiff at first, the confidence and sex-appeal he usually exudes slipping from his composure to make way for shyness Jimin rarely shows in public.

 

Taehyung hoots and yells out words of encouragement and Jin and Hoseok quickly join in. It isn’t long before Jimin starts to relax, snatching back the confidence he had momentarily lost. His movements start to ease and become more fluid, and Yoongi’s lips quirk upwards in approval as his boyfriend sweeps the floor with his raw movements. Yoongi’s gaze darkens at the ripple of Jimin’s muscles with every flex, his eyes flittering over the bulge of muscles in his arms and neck. Sweat starts to break out on Jimin’s brow as he slips into total concentration, his eyebrows drawn into a sexy frown that Yoongi wants to kiss away with his lips.

 

It’s easy to sit back and pretend that Jimin is giving Yoongi his own private performance. Jimin keeps looking up to make sure he’s watching, and Yoongi is sure to give the man his undivided attention. It always gets him going when he sees Jimin dance, because it’s away magnetizing, sensual and passionate. This is when Jimin is in his element. He sheds all the anxiety and he lets go of his worries, immersing him in the rhythm on a deeply emotional level.

 

When the song ends Jimin is panting heavily, his lips slightly parted with a bead of sweat dripping down the side of his face. He wipes it away with a large grin as everyone claps, Taehyung throwing in a lewd comment about “Jim spreading those Jams” that Yoongi pretends he doesn’t hear.

 

“Jungkookie why don’t you go next?” Jin suggests with a kind smile, ruffling Jungkook’s locks.

 

“I-I…” Jungkook looks away, his face positively glowing at the mere thought.

 

“Yesss,” Taehyung moans, throwing his arms around his boyfriend’s shoulders dramatically. “Show them one of your girl group dances! Come on Kookie you’re amazing at it!”

 

Jimin squats down in front of Jungkook with a stupid grin on his face. “Jungkookie! You never told me you could dance!”

 

“I-It’s not really dancing,” the younger insists shyly.

 

“Never underestimate the skill of feminine dancing,” Jimin holds up a finger as though he’s dropping a bead of golden wisdom. “Now get your sexy little butt up there and show me your dancing!”

 

Jin rubs Jungkook’s back supportively and Jimin and Taehyung are grinning at him expectantly. He could hardly say no. Yoongi watches Namjoon crawl over to Jungkook and whisper something in his ear. Jungkook blushes before subsequently nodding, allowing the silver-haired man to help him to his feet. Jungkook shuffles into position as Namjoon squats in front of the laptop, already knowing what song the boy wants. Jimin sits down where Jungkook was previously between Taehyung and Jin, and Yoongi thinks that it’s probably for the best. If Jimin had come and sat down next to him, he couldn’t promise keeping his hands to himself after witnessing such a seductive performance.

 

A familiar tune starts pumping through the speakers and a smile twitches at the corner of his lips. Taehyung howls with enthusiasm, kicking it up a notch, if that’s even possible, all for the sake of his extremely shy boyfriend. ‘Genie’ by Girls’ Generation, a classic girl group K-Pop song. Jungkook looks down at his Timberlands nervously and Yoongi finds it cute. He cannot help but draw a difference between Jimin and Jungkook’s adorableness though. Looking at it from a purely objective view that is in no way bias, Jimin’s cuteness is the sexy kind of cute – the kind you would kiss passionately before bending him over a desk and fucking him silly. Jungkook’s cuteness, on the other hand, is on par with kittens and puppies – the kind you would read a bedtime story to before peppering his face with platonic kisses. Maybe it’s just because the boy is so much younger that he has trouble sexualising him, or it could be his history of abuse that Jin had warned them about – he doesn’t know.

 

When Jungkook dances his movements, surprisingly, are on point. He isn’t afraid to move his hips like the girls do on M-Countdown, and, just like Jimin, he gains a little more confidence as the song progresses. By the time the song hits the chorus he’s going all out, and Taehyung and Jimin can’t get enough of it. Taehyung keeps constantly bellowing out things like: “that’s my baby!” or “yeah work that cute little tooshie!” while Jimin pretends to make it rain. Jin and Namjoon occasional shout as well, though they aren’t nearly as loud and annoying as the younger ones.

 

Jungkook is smiling, and Yoongi feels happy for him. He doesn’t smile a lot – at least, not whenever they’re around. It’s obvious that Jungkook isn’t good at meeting new people, but the fact that he’s gotten up to dance in front of them proves he’s grown comfortable enough around them.

 

With all the racket that’s going on, Hoseok’s silence beside him is quite obvious. Yoongi slides a glance at the man to see him picking at his shoelaces with a blank expression. It was clear from the get go that Hoseok isn’t fond of Jungkook, and for reasons he has yet to indulge, but Yoongi hasn’t questioned it thus far. Hoseok is a grown man with a few issues. Unless he wants to open up about them, Yoongi feels he isn’t in a position to really prod.

 

When ‘Genie’ finally ends Jungkook is grinning from ear to ear in satisfaction – and so he should, he managed to pull off every move flawlessly, maybe even better than the girls do themselves. Taehyung hops up and flings himself at Jungkook, the two of them laughing so freely that it infects most of the others – except Hoseok, who hasn’t cracked a smile since the conclusion of Jimin’s performance.

 

“He’s good, isn’t he Hobi?” Hoseok slides his gaze from his feet to Jin, who is regarding him expectantly. Yoongi is trying to telepathically advise Hoseok to respond positively, even if he didn’t look up once at Jungkook the entire time, but it appears him and Hoseok are on totally different wavelengths.

 

“Not really,” Hoseok responds hollowly, sliding his gaze back to his feet. “‘Genie’ is like, the easiest choreography from Girls’ Generation.”

 

Jungkook must have overheard because the smile splits from his face and it reminds Yoongi of a vase shattering against marble. He bites down on his tongue because he doesn’t know what to do, what to say to undo the damage Hoseok has inflicted. He doesn’t know how on earth Jungkook was able to even hear Hoseok over the commotion Jimin and Taehyung are making, but he does. Those big doe eyes land on Hoseok and a flash of hurt swims in the deep pools of his dark irises. ‘Oh boy. Hobi really fucked up now.’

 

Jin scowls, about to say something in retaliation, but is cut off by Namjoon, who claps his hands together with a dimpled smile, oblivious to what had just occurred.

 

“Why don’t we all go out for dinner to celebrate? It’ll be Jin’s treat!”

 

*~*~*

 

They decide on a small joint that’s walking distance from the dance studio. Since Hoseok is the most familiar with this neighbourhood, having lived here for a while with a friend about a year ago, the group relied on him to choose a suitable place to eat. It’s only five-thirty in the afternoon and already the sun is starting to set. It gets colder, if that’s possible, with the disappearance of the sun, and they cling to one another to try and find balance on the icy footpaths. Jin releases a sigh of relief once they breach the threshold of the diner, the heat warming his frigid fingers and melting the tiny flecks of snow clinging to the tips of his hair.

 

It’s pretty early to be eating dinner, so the diner, which Hoseok insists is quite popular, is relatively quiet aside from a group of old men in the corner and a couple on the other side of the room. Jimin skips over to one of the bigger tables available and flops down. He waves them over enthusiastically and Taehyung is quick to follow suit, pulling along an apprehensive Jungkook who stops just shy of sitting himself down. He turns back to the rest of them, meeting Jin’s gaze as though asking for his approval. Jin gives a small nod before Jungkook allows himself to be nudged into the seat next to Taehyung, directly opposite Jimin.

 

A waitress spies them all settling down into seats and fetches the menus, tucking them under her arm before picking up a jug of water from the bottom of the refrigerator.

 

“I want jjajangmyeon!” Taehyung slams his palm down, startling the waitress, who was in the middle of distributing the menus.

 

“Would you… like to order now?” the girl asks slowly, giving Taehyung a weird look.

 

“I think we’ll just order some drinks first,” Jin clears his throat, pretending to appraise the menu before flipping it over to the drinks’ section.

 

Ordering for seven people is a real pain. Everyone kept talking over one another and changing their minds at the last minute, so the waitress just kind of stood there with an exasperated expression as she patiently let them sort it out amongst themselves. Jin had taken it upon himself to tally up who was ordering what, frowning when he realises that they’re one short of a person.

 

“Jungkookie? Do you want anything to drink?” Jin glances at the youngest to find him looking at the table, not really paying attention to his surroundings.

 

Upon hearing his name he perks up slightly, blinking over at Jin with a tired smile. “No thanks, hyung. Water is fine.”

 

“Are you sure? You know I’m paying, right?”

 

“It’s fine.”

 

Pressing his lips together and trying to keep his concern to a minimum, he finally turns to regard the waitress, who is about ready to walk away and continue her duties elsewhere. He tells her what they all want and she notes it all down on her notepad before leaving, her smile tight and her eyes unblinking. Jin makes a mental note to leave her a generous tip. It isn’t easy catering for seven misfits that can’t seem to make up their minds.

 

Jin keeps a watchful eye on Jungkook throughout dinner. He has a nagging feeling in the back of his head telling him that maybe Hoseok’s comment affected him more than he was letting on. Jin made conversation with the others, although for majority of the time it was mostly Jimin and Taehyung arguing over who would win in a fight, Ichigo or Superman. Hoseok, Namjoon and Yoongi were sharing a conversation a little more sophisticated, something about the influence of the underground rappers and the Korean music industry as a whole. Jin honestly knew little about Hip-hop or Pop culture, so he mostly focused on his food.

 

“It’s fucking cold!” Taehyung howls at the sky, his fists outstretched as though to prove his point.

 

Namjoon rolls his eyes. “It isn’t going to get any warmer with you shouting like that,” he says as he follows the younger out of the restaurant, the others subsequently following suit.

 

Jin silently mourns the weight loss of his wallet as he shoves it back into his pocket, but he can’t find it in himself to complain. It’s been a good night. Everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves, and what’s more is the dance studio has finally been revealed to his closest friends. It brings a smile to his face to know that they can all enjoy it now. He knows Hoseok has sorely missed being able to dance, what with his currently unstable living arrangements making it hard for him to find the time or energy. He hopes now that he can make good use of this gift, along with the others of course. He knows Jimin will be using it constantly on the weekends for as long as Yoongi will allow him. He has little doubt he’ll be getting calls at odd hours of the night from the songwriter, grouching about never having his boyfriend to himself now that he has full access to a dance facility.

 

He hopes Taehyung and Jungkook find the time to use it as well. Taehyung had just recently passed his entrance exams with exceptional results, landing him a position in Yonsei University, one of Seoul’s most prestigious universities, and notably one of the hardest to get into. Who knew Taehyung was a born genius? Jin and Namjoon have high hopes for what he will achieve in the future, and it warms his heart to know that things are finally looking up for Taehyung.

 

He can spot Jimin and Taehyung are up ahead, Yoongi and Hoseok not that far behind them. Jin frowns and looks over his shoulder, noticing that Jungkook is lagging behind.

 

“Jungkookie, are you OK?” Jin asks, causing Namjoon to look over his shoulder to regard the youngest as well. Namjoon holds out his arm, beckoning Jungkook over and guiding him forth with an encouraging nudge.

 

“You’ve been quiet, kid. Something on your mind?” Jungkook blinks slowly at Namjoon before looking down at his feet, his hands stuffed into his pockets and his hood falling over his fringe.

 

“I’m just tired,” he answers distantly, as though he isn’t really paying attention.

 

Jin frowns, concerned, but Namjoon seems to accept this response with a flippant shrug.

 

They catch up to the rest of them who are standing by the curb waiting for a gap in the traffic. It’s picked up since earlier, as it’s now technically the ideal dinner peak hour. The cars speed past without really much regard for the speed limit, though with the current snowfall it’s really a wonder where all the caution has gone. It isn’t wise to be driving so fast when the ground is slippery. People can barely walk on the sidewalk let alone on the roads, why would tires have any more control?

 

There’s a small gap between traffic and Hoseok is quick enough to seize the opportunity, sprinting across the road and somehow making it to the other side without getting hit.

 

“You should’ve waited!” Jin yells grumpily, unashamed of the clear concern ringing in his voice. Hoseok grins at them, flailing his arm back and forth in a beckoning motion.

 

Jimin steps forward, looking left to right, only to take a step back when he notices the flash of lights speeding towards him. There isn’t a chance he’ll be able to cross, so he waits, but Jungkook is beside him and he isn’t really paying attention. His eyes are glazed over and he seems to be acting on autopilot. His feet leave the curb and he’s suddenly on the road. Jin’s heart drops as the screeching of tires rings in his ears. The natural thing to do would have been to reach out, but he’s so stricken with shock that his hands immediately shoot up to his mouth and he loses feeling in his knees. Jungkook turns his head but Jin can’t see past the hoodie to read his expression – and not that it would’ve matter. The way his entire body tenses says it all.

 

Taehyung screams and Yoongi and Namjoon take a step forward, but it’s Jimin who snatches up Jungkook just in the nick of time. The car continues speeding forth and doesn’t bother to stop, but it’s as though the weather has frozen time and allowed it to hang tensely in the air. Jungkook is still in Jimin’s arms, and Jimin is equally stunned that he was able to pull the younger boy out of the way in time. Everyone else has stiffened as though their hearts have stopped, and Jin knows because he feels much the same way.

 

Processing the whole situation has Jin sinking down to the ground on his knees, clutching at Namjoon’s arm as though it’s the only support keeping him together. Tears cling at the corners of his eyes and he feels nauseous, but he’s not the one who throws up. Jungkook does, all over his beloved Timberlands, and Yoongi is immediately by the boy’s side to comfort him along with Jimin.

 

“Jungkook what the hell?!” Taehyung yells, fisting at his hair as though he’s ready to rip them from straight from the roots. His eyes are watery, and Jin is assured that he isn’t the only one who was about ready to burst into tears. “Why weren’t you paying attention? Do you realise how close you just came to getting hit!?”

 

“Taehyung,” Namjoon says in a warning tone, stepping closer to place a hand on his shoulder. Taehyung is quick to shake it off, his jaw clenches and his eyes never wavering from his boyfriend.

 

“How could you be so stupid? You could’ve died just then!” Taehyung’s voice is getting louder and Jin knows that this could get ugly.

 

With a sharp inhale; Jin rises shakily to his feet, making his way over to Jungkook. He cups the boy’s face and tilts it upwards to find the boy’s bottom lip quivering and tears streaming down the side of his face. He looks just as shocked and dishevelled as the rest of them, and it comforts Jin to know Jungkook hadn’t stepped off the curb on purpose. He brings the youngest into an embrace and Jungkook clutches his jacket tightly. He’s trembling from the aftershocks of what just happened, and Jin wouldn’t be surprised if he was shaking just as terribly.

 

“I ruined my Timberlands,” Jungkook mumbles into Jin’s jacket and the older laughs, wiping away his tears of relief.

 

“Step out of them. We’ll throw them away,” he commands, and Jungkook looks up at him with a teary pout.

 

“But they’re my favourite.” Jin smiles fondly, brushing away Jungkook’s fringe.

 

“I’ll buy you a new pair, I promise.”

 

Jungkook steps out of his shoes, careful not to get any of the vomit on his socked feet before Jin lifts him up into his arms. As Namjoon dutifully takes care of discarding the ruined shoes, Taehyung steps forward, his features contort with a mixture of anger and pain. Jin doesn’t know what compels him to allow the unstable boy to get closer to Jungkook, but something holds him back from saying anything as he watches Taehyung cautiously. Jungkook shrinks away when he spots Taehyung’s approach, clutching at Jin desperately, and Jin understands this reaction entirely. Anger itself is something Jungkook fears the most, and there’s nothing more terrifying than an angered Taehyung. Jin bites down on his tongue, a verbal lashing ready to be unleashed if Taehyung so much as steps a toe out of line.

 

But he does the opposite of what any of them are expecting.

 

Taehyung reaches out to cradle the back of Jungkook’s head and presses their foreheads together, his eyes meeting Jungkook’s with severity. “Please be more careful,” Taehyung whispers harshly, as though he’s fighting to catch his breath after losing it all in his moment of panic. Jungkook hesitantly cups the side of Taehyung’s face, his thumb brushing over his high cheekbone.

 

“Tae, I’m sorry, I wasn’t – ”

 

“No, no – it was an accident. It’s nobody’s fault,” Taehyung murmurs, pressing a hard kiss to Jungkook’s forehead. Jin can feel Jungkook relax slowly in his arms, and his gaze softens upon the two of them.

 

Taehyung has really matured since the last incident. Jin can hardly believe he had it in him to hold back this time, but he had, and Jin thinks more of him because of it. He’s proud of him. Taehyung has come a long way from the uncontrollable streetwalker he used to be.

 

They make it over to the other side where Hoseok is patiently waiting for them. Hoseok looks tense and confused, as though he isn’t quite sure what just went down. It’s likely his vision was obscured by the traffic for most of it.

 

“Is he OK?” Hoseok asks hesitantly, chancing a glance at the boy being carried in Jin’s arms.

 

Jimin opens his mouth as if to say something, but Taehyung shoves past, shouldering Hoseok as hard as he can. “Like you give a damn,” he growls. Their eyes meet and Hoseok knows not to question any further, unless he wants Taehyung to sock him in the jaw.

 

He meets Jimin’s gaze and Jimin scratches the back of his head with a shrug. Jimin doesn’t really have a clue as to what’s happening between Hoseok and the two youngest members of their group, but he definitely doesn’t want to get involved, lest Taehyung gives him the cold shoulder too.

 

*~*~*

 

Jin lingers in the hallway after brushing his teeth, his arms crossed over his chest as he observes the younger boys lounging in the living room. Taehyung has his arm wrapped around Jungkook’s shoulder as he curls up beside him, paying more attention to his Oreos and glass of hot milk than whatever drama Taehyung has flicked to. Taehyung, in all honesty, doesn’t appear too attentive to the television screen either for once, his nose buried in the crown of Jungkook’s hair with a gentle smile on his face. Jin bites back a smile as he gazes upon them, happiness swelling in the pit of his gut. Namjoon was right – of course he was right, Jungkook and Taehyung are perfect for each other. He feels silly for not sensing the connection sooner. He had been worried – so very worried that everything would just blow up in their faces, but it seems their unlucky streaks have finally come to an end.

 

“I’m going to bed now,” he announces his presence, seizing the attention of the two boys who were so immersed in one another. They both wear matching grins as they rise from the couch, Jungkook setting down his glass of milk and cookies on the coffee table.

 

Jin pinches Taehyung’s sides before wrestling him into a chokehold, the younger giggling and struggling rather mildly as Jin kisses him on the crown of his head. Taehyung makes noises of disgust as he’s released, flopping back onto the couch as though he has just contracted a disease. With Jungkook, Jin is a lot gentler. He draws the boy into a proper embrace and pecks his forehead sweetly, causing Jungkook to smile softly and wish him a goodnight.

 

When Jin has turned off the lights in the kitchen and bid them sweet dreams, Jungkook settles back into Taehyung’s arms and picks up his glass of milk. He brings it to his lips and sips on it modestly, distrusting his own stomach to remain calm for the rest of the night. It had been regrettable to say goodbye to his dinner along with his treasured Timberlands earlier this evening, but Taehyung had been every bit as understanding of his needs than Jungkook himself. When they had arrived home, Taehyung had told him to change into his pyjamas. Jungkook had done so compliantly, returning to find his boyfriend with a glass of warm milk and a packet of Oreos waiting for him in the lounge room. It was probably the sweetest thing anyone could’ve done for him in that moment, because Taehyung was willing to provide him with what he really needed.

 

He doesn’t think he’s going to throw up again, although he’s still a little shaken from the incident. He isn’t entirely sure what came over him, why he had moved so listlessly into the line of danger. He had upset everyone. He hadn’t thought it was possible for faces to look so green with distress, but Jin and Taehyung had certainly proved him wrong.

 

“Kookie,” Taehyung croons, his breath softly fanning the younger’s fringe.

 

“Hm?” Jungkook looks up, an Oreo halfway into his mouth.

 

“Does eating that make you a cannibal?” Jungkook blinks, going slightly cross-eyed as he looks down at the cookie between his fingertips. He chuckles before slotting the biscuit through his teeth and munching on it happily.

 

“I guess,” he mumbles in amusement. “But how can I resist? My kind is delicious.”

 

Taehyung hums, brushing his lips lightly against the shell of Jungkook’s ear. “I’d like to have a taste sometime.”

 

Jungkook’s face goes bright red and he hates himself for it. He doesn’t really have the chance to respond before the dark glimmer in Taehyung’s eyes is gone and he’s leaning back against the couch cushions, his attention averted to the television. Jungkook slowly swallows the Oreo, his eyes wide and fixed on his boyfriend’s composed expression. It’s eerie how effortlessly Taehyung can go from sinful to innocent in under a second. He quickly downs the rest of his milk and sets aside the cookies, settling against Taehyung’s warm frame with his arms wrapped around the older boy’s middle.

 

“I apologise for earlier.” Jungkook blinks, peering up at Taehyung curiously. Taehyung hasn’t looked away from the screen. If he hadn’t known better, it were as though Taehyung hadn’t said anything at all. But there’s a seriousness in his gaze, and a slight crease in his brow that lets Jungkook know that his boyfriend is troubled by something.

 

“Apologise?” he echoes, his hold tensing around Taehyung as though he’s scared the other will pull away from him.

 

Taehyung cards his fingers idly through Jungkook’s midnight tassels, his lips downturned slightly. “I lost control. Again. I’ve been trying,” Taehyung’s breath hitches, “to get a better grip on my anger so I don’t lash out at you like that. I say things I don’t mean; I show anger that shouldn’t be there to begin with. I’m sorry – if anything I said or did tonight set us back in our relationship... I promise I’ll try harder.”

 

“Tae,” Jungkook frowns, squirming up onto his knees with his hands resting on Taehyung’s shoulders. Taehyung is still refusing to look at him. He looks ashamed. Jungkook cups the side of Taehyung’s face and inclines his head so that they’re gazing at one another. “You didn’t set us back in our relationship tonight. If anything, I think we’ve moved forward.”

 

“Forward?” Taehyung frowns. “But – I yelled, I got angry. I overreacted.”

 

“Maybe,” Jungkook agrees gently. “But you also showed restraint. You were upset but you managed to still be in control. That’s more than what you were capable of a month ago.”

 

“I… I guess,” Taehyung responds uncertainly.

 

Jungkook smiles pleasantly, snaking his arms around the other’s neck and planting a chaste kiss to his lips. “In fact.” He leans to press his lips against the curve of Taehyung’s jaw, nuzzling his nose shyly into the column of his neck. “I… I think I’m ready to try again.”

 

Taehyung inhales deeply through the nose, his hands clutching tightly at Jungkook’s waist. “Baby, are you sure?”

 

“Yes,” Jungkook leans away so that he’s looking Taehyung in the eyes, a dusty blush staining his cheeks. “I trust you.”

 

Taehyung grins stupidly before leaning over to kiss the boy breathless, holding him in an embrace that is both constrictive and protective. Jungkook shivers as Taehyung’s tongue sweeps across his bottom lip, requesting passage into his mouth. Of course, he is more than happy to oblige. Taehyung’s tongue wriggles past his teeth and nudges softly against his own, goading him to respond with a small moan. Taehyung accidentally kicks off the cookie packet from the coffee table and spills Oreos and crumbs all over the carpet, but neither of them seem to notice as the older rises to his feet. He seizes Jungkook’s hand and guides him out of the living room, down the hallway and into his room – though it’s more their room now. He doesn’t bother to turn off the television or the lights on his way, completely disregarding the hazard of an empty glass of milk and scattered cookies without a single care.

 

There are more pressing matters he must attend to.

 

Jungkook closes the door behind them and Taehyung is so desperate that he can’t even spare the last few seconds it would take to reach the bed, pressing Jungkook up against the door with his tongue licking its way back into his mouth. They moan, but it’s obvious that Taehyung is the loudest between the two, one hand sneaking up the hem of Jungkook’s baggy shirt as he locks the door with the other. Jungkook’s fingers are buried in his hair, pulling and tugging but never teetering into a silent demand. That’s just how Jungkook is. He won’t use any force – refuses to use any force, but the small hints he drops, and the quiet whimpers that escape his plush lips, are enough to let Taehyung know what he wants.

 

He takes a step back and Jungkook releases a small whine, his eyes still closed as he mouths the air for contact. Taehyung finds this adorable, and his grin disappears behind his shirt as he quickly pulls it over his head and casts it aside. Jungkook blinks, exhilarated, his eyes travelling down the expanse of Taehyung’s torso as though he’s seeing it for the very first time.

 

“Have you been working out?” he exhales breathlessly, and Taehyung grins, wriggling his eyebrows cheekily.

 

“I was hoping you would notice.” Jungkook doesn’t make a move to touch to him, so Taehyung takes the initiative and seizes the younger’s hands, placing them on his body. “You can touch me. I’m all yours,” he whispers in Jungkook’s ear. Jungkook smiles shyly, letting his hands wander down Taehyung’s flat chest, past the small ridges of his ribcage to the taut muscle of his stomach. He presses the palm of his hand against Taehyung’s bellybutton and Taehyung tenses, his silly grin never wavering.

 

“You have been working out!” Jungkook laughs, pawing at Taehyung’s torso with fascination.

 

Taehyung hums at the acknowledgment, a twinkle of pride evident in his crescent eyes as he drapes his arms around Jungkook and kisses down the side of his face. He manages to snag the edge of a prominent collarbone before the rest of Jungkook’s skin disappears behind his shirt, and Taehyung thinks that this simply cannot do. He lowers himself until he’s at eye-level with Jungkook’s tummy, and the younger clutches at his boyfriend’s shoulders with a questioning gaze. Taehyung sneaks his hands under the material and lifts Jungkook’s shirt slightly to reveal his flat stomach. With a hum, the older leans forward and licks a stripe up Jungkook’s tummy, causing him to squeak with confusion.

 

“W-why did you do that?” Jungkook slaps his hands over his cheeks to try and keep them from overheating.

 

Taehyung grins up at him with a shrug, showing all his teeth. “I wanted to see what you would taste like,” he answers simply.

 

Jungkook’s jaw slackens and he can’t seem to find the right words to respond. He somehow manages to ask: “And what did you find?”

 

“You taste soft.”

 

“I taste… soft?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Jungkook blinks, and Taehyung blinks back. The latter flashes Jungkook one last smile before stuffing his head completely under his shirt, causing him to gasp.

 

“T-Taehyung!” He squeals, his hands flying to the older boy’s shoulders again.

 

Taehyung only giggles mischievously, planting a trail of butterfly kisses up Jungkook’s torso with his fingers caressing the sensitive skin of his waist. Jungkook shudders at the gentle affection, but instead of struggling, his eyes flutter shut, immersing himself in the wonderful sensation of Taehyung’s lips on his body. Taehyung’s hands slide up, bunching the material along with it, and Jungkook doesn’t think twice before lifting up his arms and allowing his shirt to be pulled from him. He keeps his eyes closed, even when the shirt has been removed, his arms falling to his sides.

 

Taehyung kisses Jungkook on the lips. “Shall we move this to the bed?”

 

Jungkook shivers, slowly nodding his head.

 

He lets Taehyung guide him by the waist. Jungkook loses all sense of direction as he puts his faith entirely in Taehyung’s hands. He gasps softly when the back of his legs hit the edge of the bed. He would have fallen if not for Taehyung’s quick reaction, cradling one hand at the back of Jungkook’s head and the other on the small of his back, lowering him down carefully. His eyes flutter open and Taehyung is smiling above him, their faces so close that Jungkook can count all the lashes framing Taehyung’s pretty eyes.

 

Taehyung nuzzles into the side of Jungkook’s neck as his hands travel south, picking at the strings keeping the younger’s pants together until the knot comes loose. Jungkook’s nails dig into Taehyung’s shoulder blades as his pants, along with his boxers, are shimmied down to his ankles, getting a little more nervous as his bottom half is fully exposed. Taehyung doesn’t pull away from his neck, instead lapping his tongue against the warm skin and nibbling hungrily at the delicate flesh.

 

“A-ah!” Jungkook gasps, fisting the back of Taehyung’s hair. Their chests are pressed tightly against each other, and Taehyung slips his hands to the back of Jungkook’s thighs to help wrap them around his waist, his half-hard cock pressing against his abdomen.

 

“Tonight, I want you to let me take care of you,” Taehyung murmurs hotly against Jungkook’s neck.

 

“But – but all you’ve ever done since we met is take care of me!” Jungkook forces out, struggling to stay coherent he’s so unbelievably flustered.

 

“Then indulge me,” Taehyung coos, slipping further down Jungkook’s torso to twirl his tongue around a vulnerable teat.

 

Jungkook gasps and moans when fingers wrap around his arousal, stroking the tender flesh at a teasingly languid pace. Taehyung’s other hand tends to the nipple that isn’t getting attention from his mouth, tweaking at the blushing bud gently to elicit small mewls. He pulls back with an audible smack and blows cool air on the teat, watching with mild amusement as the exquisite skin hardens beneath his teasing affection. Jungkook bites down on his bottom lip, meeting Taehyung’s hooded gaze with equal arousal, and Taehyung decides to give the nipple one last tug with his teeth before moving further down.

 

He peppers kisses over the bumps of Jungkook’s ribcage, happy that they aren’t as scarcely prominent as they had been last time he saw them this up close and personal. He flicks his tongue out to lick Jungkook’s bellybutton, but only to elicit a delightful little whine from the bashful recipient. His hands go to Jungkook’s thighs and he spreads them out, the tip of his nose brushing the underside of his boyfriend’s hardened cock. He hums with approval as he fists the base, his tongue darting out to press against the leaking slit.

 

Jungkook gasps, jumping up onto the support of his elbows with his eyes comically dilated, his hair flopping over to one side hazardously. “What do you think you’re doing?” Jungkook asks in slight panic.

 

“I’m going to suck you off,” Taehyung states as plainly as the sky is blue.

 

“B-but-!”

 

“Shhhh,” Taehyung presses a hand to Jungkook’s chest and forces him back down onto the mattress, his other still wrapped firmly around the base of his shaft. “Relax, baby. Let me pleasure you.”

 

Jungkook’s pink lips part to protest, but the quirk of Taehyung’s eyebrow immediately silences him. With a heavy sigh, he eases back against the blankets and closes his eyes, his fingers tangling in the material with blind anticipation. Taehyung nods to himself, confident that Jungkook won’t continue to protest, before settling back down between Jungkook’s legs. He sprinkles kisses up and down the boy’s pale inner thighs, sucking and licking until he’s marred the olive plains with beautiful pink love-bites. Jungkook bites back a whimper as Taehyung sucks particularly hard at the supple skin just below his hipbone, knowing there will be a rather dark bruise waiting for him in the morning.

 

Once Taehyung has finished his marking expedition along the expanse of Jungkook’s delicious thighs, he reassumes his grip on the boy’s pretty cock. He applies slight pressure to the base whilst his mouth services the tip, swirling his tongue and lapping up any of the pre-cum that may have escaped his attention. His other hand cups his balls, fondling them gently as he takes a little bit more of Jungkook into his mouth. Jungkook trembles, fisting desperately at the sheets with his eyes squeezed shut, his front teeth digging into his bottom lip.

 

Taehyung watches this with fascination as he continues to take Jungkook deeper and deeper inside his mouth. Jungkook is doing everything not to make a noise, and although his struggle in itself is strangely arousing to watch, he would much rather be serenaded by his beautiful voice.

 

“Kookie, don’t hold back,” Taehyung murmurs as he pulls away from Jungkook’s dick, half of it glistening with his saliva. “I want to hear your voice. I want to hear you moan.”

 

“I’ll – I’ll try,” Jungkook pants, his fingers still fisting the sheets as though he’s refraining from touching Taehyung. He makes a mental note to work on that later – because of course Jungkook is allowed to touch him, but it was hard enough getting him into this position in the first place. Maybe it’s best to move one baby step at a time.

 

He wraps his lips around Jungkook’s arousal again, this time taking it in all the way. Jungkook throws his hand back and he moans beautifully, his entire body writhing with pleasure. It’s gorgeous, seeing Jungkook like this. His whole body has broken out into sweat and he’s panting profusely, his bottom lip quivering and his eyebrows knitted together. The strands of his fringe fall over his eyes, contrasting drastically to the paleness of his skin. He’s so pretty. He’s so pretty that all Taehyung wants to do is ruin him.

 

He sucks hard on Jungkook’s dick, causing the younger to arch off the mattress. The boy is so wonderfully receptive that Taehyung wonders if this is the first blowjob Jungkook has ever received, and his chest constricts at the likely concept. He drags his tongue along the underside of his cock, toying with the prominent vein bulging from the side. Jungkook’s legs tremble and clench as Taehyung takes another, drawn-out suck. He has to grip them to keep them in place. He comes back up to nibble at the tip before deep-throating him again.

 

Jungkook shoves a fist into his mouth, most likely out of habit, and Taehyung pinches him lightly in the thigh as a subtle reminder. The younger’s squeak is drawn out into a surprised moan as Taehyung hums, the vibrations sending tingles all the way down his pulsating cock.

 

“Tae – Tae I’m going – s-stop!” Jungkook gasps.

 

Taehyung smirks, slipping Jungkook all the way in until he’s hitting the back of Taehyung’s throat. The younger trembles, and it’s a wonder how he’s able to control himself for so long without thrusting up into his mouth, but Taehyung guesses it’s because Jungkook is so used to restraining himself that it’s become almost second nature to him. Frowning with determination, he sucks greedily on his boyfriend’s dick until Jungkook cries out, spilling uncontrollably onto Taehyung’s awaiting tongue.

 

Jungkook stares up at the ceiling with his mouth still slightly agape while Taehyung takes his time to suck Jungkook dry of all his post-orgasm release.

 

Taehyung kisses his way up Jungkook’s body until his lips brush against the tip of Jungkook’s nose, his lips pulled into a cheeky grin. “Your cum is sweet,” Taehyung announces, as though he were confirming something he had set out to discover from the beginning.

 

Jungkook’s lashes flutter as he blinks, bewildered and confused. “It – it is?”

 

“Yes! Here – have a taste!” Taehyung smacks his lips against Jungkook’s and Jungkook shrieks, pushing at Taehyung’s chest and rearing his head to the side in disgust.

 

“Gross!”

 

Taehyung giggles before brushing his fingers on the boy’s bottom lip, eyes twinkling with wondrous curiosity.

 

“What are you thinking?” Jungkook recognises that look anywhere. Taehyung has always been a curious man.

 

“Would you – would you suck on my fingers? It’s fine if you don’t want to – I was just – you know uhm – ” Taehyung chokes when Jungkook seizes his right hand and slowly nips at the tips of his fingers. His eyes never leave Taehyung’s, hooded and tempting.

 

Jungkook sticks out his tongue and Taehyung’s breath hitches as he slowly pushes two of his digits past the plush of Jungkook’s lips. The younger’s eyes flutter shut as he takes them into his mouth, tentatively twirling his tongue around the joints and lightly sucking. Taehyung gulps heavily, his mouth salivating at the arousing sight. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Jungkook knows a trick or two on how to use his mouth as well, and it breathes a fire inside of Taehyung’s stomach. He pulls the digits out of his mouth with a small ‘pop’ and laps them up and down with saliva, his lashes fluttering demurely.

 

“Will… Is this all you’ll be using?” Jungkook asks hesitantly, and it takes a moment for Taehyung to snap out of it and realise what his boyfriend meant.

 

“No, no – that was – that was just an experiment. We’ll be using lube,” he assures quickly, his cheeks glowing from what he had just witnessed.

 

He quickly reaches over and fishes out the strawberry lubricant from the nightstand drawer, spreading an excess portion of it onto his fingers and making them glossy. With his other hand he supports the back of Jungkook’s thigh and lets it rest at his hip, his lips attaching to the boy’s earlobe to nibble on it roughly. Jungkook tenses his shoulder and giggles, jerking away from Taehyung’s mouth with squeamish embarrassment.

 

“That tickles,” Jungkook murmurs, grinning shyly at his boyfriend. Taehyung grins back, laughter dancing in his beautiful crescents.

 

“Are you ready, Kookie?” he breathes against the boy’s lips, his lubricated fingers slipping between his legs and resting just on the curve of his buttocks. “We can stop at any time. Maybe we should establish some sort of safety word? You choose, baby. Anything you want.”

 

Jungkook rolls his eyes around the room, as though the ceiling and the closet held all the answers. His gaze lands on the stuffed toys sitting innocently by the pillows and he bites his lip, the corner of his mouth quirking upwards in amusement.

 

“Rilakkuma?”

 

Taehyung laughs, leaning forward to press a Jungkook’s lips. “You know it’s kind of dirty doing it in front of them. I feel a bit like an exhibitionist.”

 

Jungkook glances back at the bears and their emotionless faces, their beady eyes gleaming at them through the darkness. His eyes narrow. “You’re right. It’s creepy,” he shoves Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma off the side of the bed and Taehyung makes a cooing noise.

 

“Poor babies.”

 

“Would you rather they watch?” Jungkook quirks an eyebrow incredulously.

 

Taehyung grins. “I dunno. It’d be a little kinky but I could roll with it.”

 

Jungkook rolls his eyes; bringing Taehyung down for a kiss before he can make any further comments about the bears. Taehyung responds eagerly, nipping at the bottom of Jungkook’s lip.

 

“The safety word is ‘Rilakkuma,’” he growls.

 

“Right,” Jungkook agrees with a blush. He can’t believed he just picked Rilakkuma, of all things, to be their safety word, but it seems oddly fitting.

 

The tips of Taehyung’s fingers prod at Jungkook’s entrance and he does his best to try and relax. He exhales deeply, closing his eyes as Taehyung slips the first slicked finger inside of him. He wouldn’t have been able to feel it wriggling if not for the cool lubricant coating its exterior. Taehyung peppers his face with kisses and Jungkook smiles, accepting them wholeheartedly.

 

The second wriggles through and there’s a little bit of a strain. It’s been a while, so it’ll take him some time to adjust to the feeling again, but it isn’t all that bad. Taehyung scissors him open at a deliberate pace, never quite sinking all the way to the knuckle to boast the length of his well-endowed fingers. Jungkook silently encourages him, his fingers massaging the back of Taehyung’s scalp, whispering to him quietly through the silence of the room.

 

The third is inserted and Jungkook suddenly clamps up. He doesn’t know why, but when he feels that familiar burn his entire body tenses like it’s preparing itself for something horrible. He squeezes his eyes shut and buries his face in Taehyung’s shoulder, trying to concentrate on his breathing.

 

“That’s it baby, deep breaths,” Taehyung whispers softly, his fingers stilling inside of Jungkook. “Trust me. Don’t let that fear control you.”

 

Jungkook presses his lips together and exhales through the nose. Taehyung can feel his muscles loosen and he wriggles in the third digit halfway before pumping them cautiously. He goes a little deeper when he feels the muscles stretch to accommodate his fingers, rubbing the pads of his digits against velvety walls and feeling around for that special place in Jungkook he knows will make him see stars. In the meantime, he keeps Jungkook as distracted as possible from the uncomfortable intrusion by kissing him senselessly.

 

He presses against something spongy and Jungkook gasps, his nails raking up Taehyung’s back and he winces. His back is going to be an interesting sight to see in the morning; although he can’t say Jungkook is faring any better with the amount of hickeys he’s left on him. He can feel Jungkook’s cock twitch as Taehyung abuses his prostate, making him writhe and moan and kick restlessly.

 

“O-oh… Oh god.” Jungkook feels himself slowly getting hard again. He’s surprised that his body was able to recover so quickly, but with the way Taehyung is using his dexterous fingers there really shouldn’t be any sort of surprise at all. He’s using them in ways he’s never experienced before. He had thought sex was all about penetration, but Taehyung is showing him that it can be so much more than that.

 

“Tell me how it feels,” Taehyung rasps huskily against Jungkook’s temple.

 

He bites down on his bottom lip hard. “It f-feels… amazing.”

 

“Good.” Taehyung blows cool air on Jungkook’s ear, but this time Jungkook is too consumed in the pleasure of Taehyung’s fingers to notice and jerk away. “Are you ready for more?”

 

Jungkook gasps when Taehyung twists his fingers, his thighs trembling as they lock on either side of the older man’s hips. “P-please… I…”

 

Jungkook hesitates, but Taehyung is patient, rubbing circles into the boy’s waist. “It’s OK, Kookie. Use your words.”

 

“I w-want you,” Jungkook stutters, hiding his face in the junction of Taehyung’s neck as another blush creeps up his skin.

 

Taehyung giggles, kissing the boy’s inflamed cheeks with his large, rectangular grin. “You’re so cute.”

 

Jungkook pouts. “S-shut up!”

 

The grin doesn’t leave Taehyung’s lips as he takes a step back to untie his sweat pants. Jungkook props himself up on his elbows and watches with owlish eyes as Taehyung steps out of his pants, his cock standing against his stomach, flushed red with arousal.

 

Jungkook blushes. “Y-you weren’t wearing underwear,” he states bashfully.

 

Taehyung wriggles his eyebrows. “A smart man is always prepared.”

 

Jungkook slaps a hand over his mouth to muffle his laugh. Taehyung repositions himself between Jungkook’s legs and snatches up the bottle of lube, pouring some onto his hand before lathering up his dick with a notably generous amount. Jungkook isn’t sure whether he’s being considerate or egotistical. He hopes it’s the former.

 

Taehyung hooks his arms under the back of Jungkook’s legs and pulls him closer to the edge of the bed. He throws them over his shoulders so that the curve of Jungkook’s bottom hits the taut skin of his stomach. The younger groans as he’s practically folded in half, Taehyung being as gentle with him as he possible can. He seizes Jungkook’s hands and laces their fingers together. He adores how Jungkook squeezes his hands, smiling at him nervously. He kisses down the boy’s forehead to his nose, ending at the tip.

 

“Remember to relax,” he says gently.

 

“I’ll try,” Jungkook mumbles.

 

Reaching between them to coil his fingers around his slicked dick, he slowly guides the tip into Jungkook’s entrance. Jungkook inhales sharply and his face contorts. His eyes screw shut and he squeezes Taehyung’s hands tightly.

 

“Kookie… Kookie look at me.” The younger opens his eyes, finding Taehyung staring back at him with his eyes wide and unblinking. Taehyung presses their foreheads together, his breathing even. “Relax. I’m not going to hurt you… I’ll stop anytime you want me to.”

 

As he’s speaking he’s slowly sinking further inside of Jungkook. He can feel it, but he decides to focus on Taehyung’s voice as he guides him through it, his gaze never wavering from his boyfriend’s. He has to remember why he wanted to this in the first place – he has to remember that he trusts Taehyung completely and that he’s nothing like Yukwon in any way. Taehyung would never purposely hurt him.

 

Once he’s fully seated inside, neither of them move. Taehyung’s breath has picked up slightly, and there’s sweat trickling down the side of his face, but it’s easy for Jungkook to tell that he is in complete control of his own actions. He’s waiting for Jungkook’s permission to continue.

 

After a moment where Jungkook adjusts to the intrusion, he eventually squeezes Taehyung’s hands, producing a weak smile. “You can move now.”

 

Taehyung smiles and kisses Jungkook on the mouth before slowly rolling his hips. Jungkook can feel Taehyung pulsing inside of him, nudging up against his inner walls and inducing pleasurable shudders down his spine. He doesn’t know how Taehyung developed such skill and technique in the way he rolls his hips, but Jungkook certainly isn’t complaining. He thrusts in a way that makes him feel full without feeling uncomfortable; he angles his hips in a way that drives Jungkook dizzy with desire. He’s slow but he’s thorough, and it’s making him ache desperately with need.

 

“F-faster, please.” Taehyung smiles because even in the throes of passion Jungkook still finds it in himself to ask politely.

 

He pulls back before thrusting deeper, picking up speed a little bit. The delicious friction makes Taehyung moan loudly against Jungkook’s neck, his balls lightly tapping against the supple curve of his buttocks. He’s no longer meeting any resistance from Jungkook’s body, and the thrusts become more fluid than they had ever been before.

 

Jungkook sighs against Taehyung’s temple, clutching his hands impossibly tight, as though he never wants to let go. Honestly, Taehyung wouldn’t want him to. This sense of completion – this connection between them seems to be getting stronger by the day, and Taehyung can’t help but feel as though this is the happiest he’s been in a long time.

 

When was the last time his chest felt so heavy with feeling? When was the last time his stomach constricted with desire? He’s never bonded like this with anyone before. He’s never felt so whole or alive, and to feel it now – as Jungkook whimpers against his skin, as he moans and he growls as he thrusts repeatedly into Jungkook’s tight heat – defines their relationship on a much deeper and intimate level. He feels he knows Jungkook better than he had before. He’s starting to get a feel for what he likes, what he dislikes, what challenges him – and it’s all progressive information to Taehyung, because everything about Jungkook is important to him. As his boyfriend, it’s his duty to worship Jungkook the way he rightfully deserves.

 

A tingling down his spine is a warning that he’s getting closer. He starts picking up his pace until Jungkook’s legs are bouncing and his lips are parted in a silent ‘o’ shape. He reaches down between them and fists Jungkook’s arousal, starting to pump it in time with his thrusts. The headboard rocks against the wall and makes a slight thudding noise that neither of them care to acknowledge, and Taehyung’s moans are getting louder the closer he draws to his climax. He slams down a few more times, his eyebrows knitted together in concentration, and he finally relocates Jungkook’s prostate at the last moment, abusing it with all his might. Jungkook throws his head back and mewls, his eyes rolling at the sudden burst of pleasure overriding his senses.

 

Taehyung cums first, burying himself balls deep inside of Jungkook with a loud cry. His body wracks with tremors as he rocks back and forth through the aftermath, slicking up Jungkook’s insides with his release. Jungkook isn’t too far behind, whimpering as Taehyung continues to pump him to his climax, shooting streaks of cum over his stomach and abdomen. The high dwindles down and the room is filled with nothing but the sounds of their breathing, their eyes closed as they settle into a post-coital glow.

 

Taehyung eases Jungkook’s legs down from his shoulders before wrapping his arms around the boy’s middle. He rests the side of his face against Jungkook’s chest, and the younger watches him through a half-lidded gaze.

 

“What are you doing?” he asks softly, running his hands through Taehyung’s wisteria locks.

 

“Listening to you live,” Taehyung exhales heavily, still evidently trying to catch his breath.

 

“Listening to me live?” Jungkook blinks slowly, the corners of his mouth twitching with amusement. “What does that mean?”

 

“I almost lost you today, but I didn’t,” Taehyung pants, his forehead sweaty against Jungkook’s equally damp skin. “I just thought I’d take this moment to just appreciate that you’re here… with me… alive…”

 

It takes Jungkook a belated moment to realise that Taehyung has his ear pressed over his heart, listening to his heartbeat as well as the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes. Jungkook smiles adoringly, resting his eyelids.

 

“I’m glad I’m here too.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 12

 

He’s really done it now. Frustrated tears gather at the corners of his eyes as he shakily reaches for the wooden ornament lying broken on the floor, his chest heavy with incomprehensible guilt. He should’ve been more careful, he shouldn’t have thrown his Nintendo controller so aggressively when Mario landed on one of the turtles and died soon after. He had gotten caught up in the moment, filled with anger at the stupidity of his own lack of skill, and then next thing he knows, the controller is flying out of his grasp, soaring across the room to barrel over one of the two ornamental wooden ducks his mum had placed lovingly atop the mantle. The other one still remains untouched with its wings spread wide in a flapping motion, but its twin had hit the floor, its neck snapped in two.

 

He knows how much his mother loved those ducks. His father had made them for her for their anniversary one year, and every time she has friends over she would show them off and praise her husband’s craftsmanship. It’s true that his father is indeed quite skilled in carpentry, and he had crafted the ducks with as much care and thoughtfulness as any doting husband could show to his wife. So what would his reaction to this be when he finds out that he had broken his father’s gift to his mother? What will his mother do when she finds out she broke one of her most treasured gifts from his father? He’s doomed. Doomed. They’re going to disown him. They’re going to kick him out of the house and brand him a disgrace to the family name. He’s brought dishonour and shame. They’ll no longer love him anymore!

 

“Namjoonie?” His heart slams against his chest and he stands there frozen, unwilling to turn around and face the voice of the person behind him. It’s his father. No, no – he hasn’t even been given time to try and hide the evidence! “What are you doing?”

 

Lost on how to properly respond, he succumbs to his instincts and he bursts into tears.

 

“Aigo,” his father coos, coming up behind him and placing his hands on his son’s shoulders. “What’s the matter? What happened?”

 

“I – I…” he gulps down the lump caught in his throat before sniffing. “I threw the controller – and – and I didn’t mean to but I accidently hit one of – of mummy’s ducks and – and it fell and I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to break it!” he cries, his voice embarrassingly squeaky as he furiously wipes away his tears.

 

By now his father has probably noticed the broken ornament at his feet, remaining silent as Namjoon bawled dramatically. He hears his father tsk and ruffle his head of hair, and with a confused blink he looks up at his father through his tears, expecting to see anger and annoyance, but instead is met with his soft, smiling face.

 

“You know, you remind me a lot of your mother,” he chuckles, squatting down to start gathering up the remnants of what was once an impeccable ornament. “She always gets so worked up and emotional over the silliest things.”

 

“But – but I broke it!” Namjoon squeaks, his hands coiled into fists at his sides. “Mummy loves those ducks and you made them for her – she’s going to be so mad at me and – why aren’t you mad at me too? Why are you laughing?” he huffs.

 

“I can always make another one,” his father shrugs. “And since you broke this one, maybe you could help me make another one?”

 

“I…” he feels the tension slowly start to drain from his chest and his arms relax at his sides, his wails dying down to barely audible sniffles. “I don’t know how to make ducks with wood.”

 

His father grins, the corners of his eyes crinkling with a kindness Namjoon is quite familiar with. “Well, there’s no time like the present for you to learn!”

 

Wiping away his tears, he nods sulkily, his bottom lip jutting out as his father gathers up the broken duck and rises to his feet.

 

“Do you think mum will ever forgive me?” he asks in a small voice, his fingers toying with the hem of his shirt as he stares intensely at his bare feet.

 

“Why don’t you ask her yourself?” Namjoon looks up at his father questioningly before his eyes drift to the entrance of the kitchen, where his mother is standing in an apron with an amused grin on her face.

 

“Kim Namjoon,” she calls with her voice feigning authority. “What have I told you about throwing things inside the house?”

 

“I’m sorry – mum – I didn’t mean it I – ” his excuses are cut short by her charming laugh, her smile stretched from ear to her and her eyes twinkling with mischief.

 

“I’m just teasing, Namjoonie,” she chirps, sinking down onto one knee with her arms spread wide. “Of course mummy forgives you, why wouldn’t I? Now get over here!”

 

Namjoon pads across the room, stumbling clumsily into his mother’s arms. She catches him easily, tugging at his ear and eliciting a whine.

 

“What am I to do with you, eh?” she chides as she wraps her son up in her arms and kisses the crown of his head. “You’re clumsier than a baby deer. At this rate I’ll have to redecorate the whole house if you keep breaking everything.”

 

“Mum I’m sorry,” he sulks against her shoulder and the woman rolls her eyes.

 

“I know, I know. I forgive you sweetie – I don’t really have a choice but to, do I?” she teases, softly patting Namjoon’s back.

 

“You really loved those ducks,” he continues mournfully.

 

“I did really love those ducks – but at least you only broke one of them. And weren’t you listening before? Dad said he would make another one with your help, so not only will the duck be replaced, it’ll be brand new!”

 

“But it’s not the same!” Namjoon whines.

 

“You’re right,” his mother agrees. “It won’t be the same. Because the new duck won’t just be made from my husband’s love, but my son’s love as well. How lucky am I?”

 

Namjoon doesn’t answer, just tightening his hold around his mother’s neck and nuzzling into her loving warmth.

 

*~*~*

 

The light drizzle of rain patters softly on the windshield of their car, the wipers pushing the blurring drops off to the side with a quiet swish. There’s a constant hiss as the tires flick up water from the damp roads, causing a trail of cloudy mist to form in their wake. Namjoon gazes aimlessly out of the fogged up window as Jin drives the group of them downtown, the others that couldn’t fit in Jin’s sleek Audi trailing behind them in Jimin’s car. No one speaks as Jin drives, Jungkook and Taehyung sitting in the backseat quietly with their hands tightly entwined.

 

Namjoon meets Taehyung’s sombre gaze in the rear-view mirror, lips curling up slightly into a tight-lipped smile at Taehyung’s questioning gaze. He can’t find it in himself to speak, his vocal chords scratchy and tight. He gulps softly. His hands readjust the radiant bouquet in his hands, fingers tenderly stroking over the fresh, soft petals of the multi-coloured flowers. His mother had always loved splashes of colour around the house, the odd, out-of-place items would make his father’s head spin every time there was a new addition. He can remember the words she would say whenever he asked her about it.

 

“The world is so beautiful, Namjoonie. But people often get so consumed that they take for granted the smallest things that bring us joy, forgetting what makes us truly happy. Colours… colours make me very happy.”

 

His fingers curl around the beautifully wrapped stems, brow furrowing deeply at the nostalgic memory as it jumps to the forefront of his mind. He can still remember his mother and father’s voices like he’d only heard them yesterday, their scolding and praising words echoing in the deepest confines of his mind. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years since it happened, two years since he tragically lost his parents, two years since his world fell apart only to be glued together again.

 

Namjoon casts a glance at Jin, eyes tracing over his profile and the delicate features of his face. His lover’s brows are dipped in concentration as he tries to locate the correct turn off, his eyes flickering between street signs. Namjoon wonders if his parents would’ve liked Jin, whether they would accept the fact that Namjoon was in love with a man rather than one of the pretty girls his mother always insisted he meet. He wonders if they would have inclusive and supportive family dinners like Jimin’s parents and Yoongi, becoming a crucial part of the family.

 

Who is he kidding? Of course they would have loved Jin, there’s no one on the planet that wouldn’t love Kim Seokjin. He could imagine his dad jokingly trying to size Jin up, checking out what the older’s intentions were with his son like in all the stereotypical teenage movies. His mother would have instantly pulled him into the kitchen after finding out that Jin loves to cook, a partner in crime for her cooking escapades and marathons.

 

Gravel crunches loudly underneath the tires, car bouncing smoothly over the bump as they pull into the driveway of the lot. Taehyung and Jungkook hop out of the car as soon as Jin puts it into park, not waiting for their hyung to turn off the engine before going off to find where Jimin had parked his car. Namjoon sighs softly, staring up at the arched sign above the intricate, iron gate with slight apprehension, not really sure that he’s ready to actually do this.

 

‘Seoul National Cemetery’

 

Jin presses a comforting hand on his leg, fingers squeezing at his knee softly. Namjoon begins to shake, muscles twitching in reluctance. “Jin... I won’t – I can’t do this.”

 

Jin reaches up, tentative fingers brushing lovingly against Namjoon’s sharp jaw before bringing him down for a soft kiss, lips pressing delicately against his. “I’m here - we’re here. We’ve got you, Namjoon, and I promise that we won’t let you fall.”

 

Namjoon’s fingers curl into the soft hairs at the nape of Jin’s neck, scratching softly at his boyfriend’s scalp. He peers out of the windshield to where the others have gathered. His friends are clad formally in black suits, all of them crowded under the large arches of the golf umbrellas that Jin had bought them last winter. He sighs, the deep breath forming fog along the window as he prepares himself, fingers curling around the handle of the door.

 

With an encouraging smile, Jin pulls the remaining umbrella from the floor of the back seat before stepping out of the car. Namjoon watches Jin’s slim form as he walks around the car. The umbrella is balanced in his left hand as he opens Namjoon’s door, helping his nervous boyfriend out of the car.

 

Namjoon’s palms grow clammy as he approaches the entrance, sweat pooling uncomfortably against his skin and dampening his freshly dry-cleaned dress shirt. The group parts, each of them patting Namjoon comfortingly on the back as Jin leads him forward, directing him to the grave site. It’s the first time that Namjoon has had the courage to visit, always finding an excuse, never having the time. He knows that coming here and seeing the grave would only further solidify the fact that his parents are gone, as if the constant reminder of their mangled bodies wasn’t enough to torture him for the rest of his days. The reminder that he was the one that got them killed.

 

He’s been such a lousy and ungrateful son. Not visiting in two years only because he doesn’t want to be uncomfortable, unable to face the consequences of his actions and rather hiding from the things he doesn’t want to hear.

 

During his recovery, Namjoon got calls and messages every day from the morgue at the hospital, asking him for instructions in regards to his parent’s remains and whether he would like to hold a burial service or if he’d like to cremate them. He didn’t answer them for days on end, always rejecting the call whenever it popped up on his phone. He wanted to give them a proper burial, one that they deserved, but it all came down to the fact that he simply didn’t have the money.

 

For being an ex-con and co-leader of a gang, he certainly didn’t have much. Most of his money he gave to his parents for the business and the rent on their apartment, never keeping much for himself. He remembers reaching a point where he actually considered finding Zico and getting a cut from the big ‘score,’ but the thought of it only made him throw up, disgusted with himself for even considering that.

 

Pay for his parent’s funeral with the money that got them killed.

 

Great fucking idea, Namjoon.

 

In the end, Jin walked in on him one day, defeated body hunched over all the quotes and information pamphlets that he had collected over the week. Tears were running down his face as he gripped onto his phone with all his might, fingers tapping against the number of cremation centre that he’d scribbled, almost illegibly, on a small notepad. As much as he wanted to give them a proper burial, he simply couldn’t afford it, and it broke his heart. He couldn’t even afford to give them a cheap burial, the only option left being to reduce them to nothing but ash.

 

Jin had ripped the phone from his hands once he realised what Namjoon was going to do, eyes darting across the circled prices and numbers on the scattered papers in front of him and putting all the pieces together in his head. He cancels the call just as the person on the other end answers, cutting off the receptionist’s morbidly cheerful greeting.

 

Jin had curled his body around Namjoon’s crushed form, wiping the away the rivulets of tears that fell freely from the vulnerable gangster’s eyes. “Let me pay, Namjoon. Let me do this for you.”

 

He protested against it, but even his refusal sounded weak to his own ears. He would never exploit Jin for money, ever, but for this thing, this one thing, he couldn’t find it in himself to deny the offer of financial support. He only nodded frantically, a mumbled and slurred mess of repeated ‘thank you’ spewing from his chapped lips as he grabbed desperately at Jin’s shirt.

 

Since that day, Jin has handled everything, from the selection to the message written on their tombstones. Namjoon had told him to put whatever, seeing as that he planned to never visit, wanting to leave his parents in peace and allow them to move on without seeing the disgrace of his soul again.

 

Jin, of course, has tried to encourage him to visit the grave, but never pushed him more than a suggestion, not wanting to upset him or force him to confront his demons before he’s ready.

 

His custom leather shoes scrape against the gravel as the walk across the cemetery grounds, rain still spitting down softly on them and dampening the sleeve of his black Valentino suit.

 

Namjoon peers up at the joyless, grey sky, the dark clouds casting melancholic shadows across the cemetery and producing an appropriately bleak atmosphere for the given situation. Jin links his free arm with Namjoon’s, turning around a corner and guiding them down a side lane.

 

Flowers line the walkway, brushing against his ankles lightly as they shuffle down the aisle, his anxiety spiking when Jin comes to a stop. Namjoon’s afraid to look, afraid to turn and acknowledge his biggest mistake. The others come to a stop behind them, standing a small distance away to give Namjoon some time alone for this emotional moment.

 

He clenches his eyes shut as he turns to face the grave, body tense and on the borderline of pain. “Jin… “

 

Jin hums softly, leaning his head against Namjoon’s broad shoulder and rubbing his cheek against the fabric soothingly. “You’re okay, Namjoon. Just look, all you need to do is open your eyes and look.

 

Namjoon inhales a sharp breath, eyes snapping open before he has another chance to try and talk himself out of it. Air leaves his body as he stares incredulously at the beautiful grave, eyes tracing over the multitude of flowers planted around the polished white marble, the delicate composition and elegant setup is more than Namjoon could have ever of dreamed.

 

He stumbles forward, out from under the shelter of the large umbrella and onto the platform that leads to his parent’s large tombstone, the misty rain clinging to the strands of his shock silver hair. He collapses heavily onto his knees, hand coming up to press against his mouth and muffle the deafening sobs that are ripped from his chest as he finally reads the golden engraved words that Jin had chosen.

 

Kim Dongjun and Kim Eunhye

 

2013

 

Devoted husband and wife.

 

Forever loving and forgiving parents of Kim Namjoon.

 

May they watch over him and guide him for eternity.

 

Namjoon can’t breathe, the sobs wracking his body so violently that he can’t exhale. Jin restrains himself from rushing forward and comforting his distraught boyfriend, brushing roughly at the tears that spill from his eyes with the back of his hand, the others behind him doing the same from the sound of Jimin’s soft sniffles. Jin needs to let Namjoon face this, needs to let Namjoon come to terms with what has happened, even if it has been two years.

 

Namjoon falls forward onto his hands, head hanging loosely as he bows down, his forehead pressing against the wet marble, his suit now thoroughly soaked through. Sharp gasps and wheezes spill from his wet lips, fingers clenching against the slick marble. He rasps out repeatedly, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

 

Jungkook tears his eyes away from the agonising scene, fingers curling around Taehyung’s and burying his face into his boyfriend’s warm neck, not wanting to witness such a raw and intimate moment. Taehyung turns his head, nose nuzzling into the crown of Jungkook’s head and pressing kisses against the soft, obsidian hair. Jungkook can feel the dampness on his scalp, the drops of tears falling from Taehyung’s eyes and onto his skin.

 

Jungkook tangles his fingers in the back of Taehyung’s pressed suit, scrunching up the fabric in his fists as he openly weeps for Namjoon. He weeps for Namjoon’s loss, for his pain. He weeps for the intimidating man who has become one of his closest friends and has shown him nothing but warmth.

 

Taehyung’s fingers press lightly against the nape of Jungkook’s neck, gently rubbing soothing circles against his skin as the boy all but falls apart in his embrace. He can feel the cooling tracks of tears as they stain his face, leaving glistening streaks over his cheeks and jaw. His hand tightens around the grip of the umbrella, tear-blurred eyes drifting across to look at the others, the three of them huddled under the large umbrella.

 

Yoongi stands in the centre, supporting the umbrella above Jimin and Hoseok as they watch on. Yoongi’s head tilts forward, the black, wide-brimmed hat that’s perched atop his head hiding his face from view. But Taehyung can see the salty droplets as they fall from his pale chin and jawbone, pattering lightly against dark the lapels of his suit as they fall. Jimin’s nose twitches every time he sniffles, his eyes clenched shut and back of his hand pressed up against his nose as he sobs quietly, leaning heavily against Yoongi.

 

Taehyung’s arm tightens around Kookie’s waist as his eyes fall on Hoseok, the older boy seeming to be reacting the least to the mournful scene in front of them. His eyes are downcast, jaw tight and clenching as he stares at the damp ground and gravel. His hands are clamped shut by his sides, knuckles glowing white and contrasting greatly with the black of his suit. A large bag hangs limply at his side, swaying softly in the breeze that passes through the cemetery grounds.

 

There are no tears marking his face, no sobs that can be heard by others, only a deep set tenseness in his body that acts as an indicator that he is actually experiencing emotion right now. Taehyung doesn’t know if it’s because Hoseok is actually the complete asshole he thinks him to be, or if there are other factors at play. He is the one that knows Namjoon the best, the one that grew up with their friend, and the only one to have actually met Namjoon’s parents.

 

Maybe that’s why he’s able to keep a lid on his emotions, keeping his body stoic and preventing the tears from flowing from his eyes, the droplets collecting as a soft sheen in his eyes. Hoseok’s seen Namjoon like this before, he’s seen his friend fall apart at the seams as he’s lost everythin. He’s seen the pain and terror that haunts Namjoon’s mind.

 

Taehyung’s head snaps back towards Namjoon as the older slaps his hand against the slick, marble tombstone, his fingers tracing delicately at the golden writing and pictures installed on the wall. Namjoon’s fingers clench against the wall, finding the energy to pull himself off the wet floor to his feet. He gently lays the now limp and damp flowers at the head of the grave before settling back onto the steps, breaths stuttering as he tries to get his breathing under control.

 

Jin slowly steps up beside his shaking form, fingers tangling tenderly once again with his as they stare at the tombstone. He can hear the others shuffle closer, preparing themselves to listen and offer support if Namjoon decides to say any words.

 

He takes a deep breath, listening to the soft swish and crackle of branches as they tousle in the wind. He thinks of all the words that he’s wanted to say to his parents but has never had the chance until now, his mouth opening and closing as he tries to find how to begin. “I don’t know if you’re listening, or if you even want to listen to me right now. I know Jin means well, having your forgiveness inscribed on this wall, but I guess I’ll never know if you actually do forgive me…”

 

Jin’s gives his hand a tight squeeze, encouraging him to continue.

 

“I-I know that I haven’t come to visit, that I’m a coward for not wanting to face what I did to you, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not listening and staying with the gang. I’m sorry that I was selfish and wanted to stay in Seoul rather than being a supportive son and helping you move away to somewhere cheaper. I’m sorry that you were the ones that were… k-killed instead of me. I’m sorry for everything that I put you through. I could stand here and beg until my last breath but it will never be enough to earn your forgiveness, never be enough to undo all the wrongs I have done.”

 

Jungkook whimpers into Taehyung’s jacket, eyes peering blearily up at Namjoon as he speaks, soaking in every devastated word that falls from his hyung’s lips. Taehyung kisses his forehead softly, brushing away the bangs that begin to cling to his wet eyelashes.

 

“I’m getting better though, mum and dad. The days are getting easier as they pass, each morning a new beginning and a fresh start of a life that’s not mine to live. Jin, my boyfriend, saved me after the accident, you know? You’ve probably seen him around here a couple of times, he set all of this up for you guys and paid for everything when I could barely take care of myself. He got me back on my feet and has kept me on my unsteady feet for the past two years. He asked me to move in with him a while back, even helped me start up a carpentry business in your memory, dad.”

 

Jin coughs softly at the mention, his temple resting lightly against Namjoon’s shoulder.

 

“The nightmares still come and go, but it’s nothing like at the beginning where I couldn’t close my eyes without being haunted by your faces. I’m slowly moving on, cutting all ties and leaving my past where it belongs. This is the final thing that I need to face, you are the final tie to my past that I need to confront. That’s why I’m here, so I can finally let you guys go and live my life in peace...

 

“I still think about you all the time though, whenever I’m at work I think about all the days we spent in your workshop, dad, building those little wooden statues. Mum, I think about the chores I did with you during the springtime whenever Jin nags me to clean up after myself. I’ve even granted your wish, you guys now have two grandchildren, Tae and Jungkookie. They’re a bit older than you were expecting but I promise that they behave like children.”

 

Taehyung squawks indignantly behind him, the noise cut off by a snort of teary laughter spilling from Jungkook’s lips.

 

“Jimin and Yoongi are here too, Jin’s two troublemaking friends. They’re really great people, putting up with my bullshit takes a lot of patience, which both of them thankfully have plenty of. They’re both really hard working, a quality that I know you both really appreciate. Hobi’s here as well, much to your disdain. Though I did tell him that you guys actually loved him, even if he did raid our fridge for food every week and sometimes forgot to take his shoes off when he came inside.”

 

The floodgates open, tears finally streaking down Hoseok’s face as he remembers how Mr and Mrs Kim would cook him dinner and pack some food for him when his own parents were too busy working. He remember how exasperated they would pretend to be when he spent longer at their home instead of his own.

 

“I think you would’ve loved all of them, insisting on family dinners with everyone and pinching their cheeks whenever they walk through the door. They are amazing people and I’m sorry that I robbed you of the opportunity to meet them.”

 

Namjoon turns his head to gaze lovingly down at Jin, bringing up their entwined hands and pressing a kiss to the back of Jin’s hand. “I’ll come and visit again, and I’ll keep coming until it’s time for me to join you in the afterlife. I love you, mum and dad, and I’m sorry for not saying it to you enough when you were alive. I love you so much.”

 

Hoseok fiddles with the bag in his hand, the soft scrunching noise gaining Namjoon’s attention as he glances back at his close friend. Hoseok smiles softly, reaching into the bag and pulling out a single stemmed, golden ochre rose bud before passing it to Yoongi.

 

He walks around the group, passing each person a different coloured rose, emerald, violet, teal, russet, before pulling the final pumpkin orange one out for himself. He scrunches the now empty plastic bag into a ball, shoving it into the shallow pocket of his dress pants. “Namjoonie’s parents loved colours so I got everyone a little something to give in tribute.”

 

Namjoon whines softly, arm shooting out to loop around Hoseok’s neck before pulling him to his chest for a hug. “Thank you, Hoseok. For everything.”

 

Hoseok squeezes his friend tightly, hand rubbing soothing lines up and down Namjoon’s damp back. “No problem, dumbass. Now let go, I’ve got to suck up to your parents if I want them to ever forgive me for breaking the kitchen window.”

 

Namjoon snorts loudly, remembering the incident and how they tried to hide the evidence. He releases his hold on Hoseok, tugging softly on Jin off the platform to allow all the others to pay their respects. Namjoon’s heart warms, hammering quickly in his chest at the sight of his friends, each of them offering a flower and bowing down to pray for his parents. Doves coo from the nearby trees where they’ve sought shelter from the rain, the soothing noise being heard all across the cemetery.

 

He’s been struggling with this for two years, pushing it to the back of his mind and refusing to deal with the issue. But now, in this moment, he can see how much support he actually has, how many friends he can lean on when he feels like shit.

 

And so he walks away from the grave, the polished marble now adorned with vibrantly coloured flowers, hand in hand with the love of his life and his closest friends, and he can’t help but let out a deep sigh of relief. His shoulders sinking slowly from their tense, rigid set as he glances over his shoulder one final time before the grave is out of view, exhaling intensely.

 

For the first time in a very long time, Namjoon can finally breathe.

 

*~*~*

 

Jimin wakes to the sound of sirens, blaring loudly as they whiz through the narrow streets of the neighbourhood. He groans loudly, hand coming up to rub at his eyes with the heel of his palm as he sits up. The sun is low in the sky, creeping towards the horizon as the day slowly transitions into the darker hues of twilight. They had all fallen asleep in bed after they fucked, completely exhausted and drained of energy.

 

Jimin peers blearily around the room, one eye still glued shut as he stares down at the platinum mop of hair peeking out from underneath the doona. He reaches down to run his hand through the soft tendrils, the pads of his fingers rubbing soothingly at Yoongi’s scalp. He coo’s softly at his lover. “Yoongi, come on. You need to wake up, otherwise you won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

 

Yoongi groans loudly in displeasure, rolling heavily onto his back and splaying out his limbs like a starfish against the pale blue linen. Jimin smirks at his boyfriend, eyes tracing indulgently at the pale, milky skin that’s exposed as he stretches. He skims over Yoongi’s chest to the trail of hair underneath his belly button. Jimin rolls onto his stomach, torso propped up by his elbows. He tangles his feet with Yoongi’s freezing ones with a small hiss. “Hobi is already up, come on you lazy bum. We need to get dinner sorted.”

 

Yoongi groans again, stomach gurgling loudly at the mention of food. He hadn’t had breakfast or lunch, despite Jimin’s constant prodding and words of encouragement. He needs to eat something, if not for himself, then to placate Jimin because the constant nagging is starting to get a little old.

 

‘You’re not his ideal type. You’ll never be what he wants.’

 

‘I am. I’m getting skinnier. He’ll truly love me when I lose this last bit of fat.’

 

‘You keep telling yourself that. Do lies become truths when you repeat them enough?’

 

Yoongi glances up at Jimin’s bright and cheerful smile, brow dipping in confusion as he contemplates why Jimin is even with him now. Why the younger, beautiful, and popular boy wants to be with someone like Yoongi, someone with so little to offer. He reaches up, hand curling around the back of Jimin’s neck before drawing him down for a kiss, tongue tracing across the younger’s lips as he licks wetly into his mouth.

 

He doesn’t want to think about it, think about the day Jimin leaves him for someone better, smarter, prettier. Someone Jimin deserves. So he kisses Jimin like there’s no tomorrow, kisses him with all the love he has for his perfect boyfriend, enjoying the temporary relationship before it comes to its inevitably tragic end. Don’t get him wrong, he is going to fight tooth and nail when that time comes though, clinging to Jimin with the final remnants of his dignity because Jimin is it for him. Jimin is his world, and he doesn’t know what would happen if he were to ever lose him.

 

Jimin pulls back, making obscene kissing noises as he peppers kisses across Yoongi’s cheeks and nose. “What was that for?”

 

Yoongi shrugs a shoulder, staring into the other’s bright eyes. “I just felt like it.”

 

Jimin’s eyes arch into little smiles and joy lights up his face, his forehead pressing tenderly against Yoongi’s. “I love you, Min Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi audibly gulps, eyes slipping shut and pressing a chaste kiss to Jimin’s slightly swollen ones as he tries to calm his aching heart. “Yeah, I guess I love you too.”

 

Jimin sits up again, this time tugging gently at Yoongi’s frail wrist, egging him to get out of bed. He swings his legs over the edge of the mattress, the tips of his toes brushing lightly against the worn-out carpet of their room. He stands, picking up his discarded clothes from this morning off the floor, throwing them on haphazardly. He’s pretty sure his shirt is inside out, but he doesn’t have the energy to care, balancing on skinny, weak legs.

 

He stumbles forward, his hand running down the still exposed length of Jimin’s tanned and muscular back, fingers tapping gently along the subtle bumps of his spine. He manages to press a quick kiss between Jimin’s shoulder blades before the younger pulls a shirt over his head, concealing his perfect body from view.

 

Jimin gives his lover an apologetic smile at the sight of his small pout, entwining their fingers together before heading out into the hallway, their shoulders pressed firmly together. “So what do you want for dinner? I was thinking chicken teriya-”

 

Jimin suddenly freezes in the doorway to the lounge room, body tense as he stares over at the couch. Yoongi peers over the younger’s shoulder just in time to see Hoseok lean toward the coffee table. The 1,000 won note is rolled tightly, the shape of it providing the perfect instrument to slide across the small mirror. Jimin sucks in a sharp breath, hand clenching around Yoongi’s as Hoseok inhales. Hoseok snorts the powdered substance quickly, nose twitching as he drops the note onto the mirrored tray. He falls back heavily into the cushions of the couch.

 

They definitely knew about Hoseok’s reliance, about his addiction. They had come to terms with his decision to use, but knowing and seeing are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. They watch silently as all the tension, all the worry and pain escapes his body, leaving only a pliant and relaxed Hoseok behind. He stares up at the couple in the doorway, head lolling to the side as he smiles at them light heartedly. His pupils are fully blown, fingers moving at their own accord and tracing patterns into his clothed thigh. “Hey guys.”

 

Jimin swallows nervously, Adam’s apple bobbing as he stares at his other lover, splayed out on the couch and riding the ecstasy of his high. Yoongi recovers first, nudging the still stunned Jimin towards the kitchen. “You go get started on dinner. I’ll watch him.”

 

The tendon in Jimin’s jaw twitches as he nods, hesitantly shuffling into the kitchen to prepare their dinner for tonight. He peeks worriedly over his shoulder. Yoongi gives the doorway of the kitchen a lingering glance before turning his gaze onto the euphoric figure on the sofa. He cautiously sinks down onto the sofa beside Hoseok, his hand shooting out to entwine their fingers together when Hoseok reaches out to do the second line that he’d set up. “Hey, Hoseok. How are you feeling?”

 

Hoseok, now distracted by Yoongi’s touch, turns to face the other, his face propped up in his hand, which is leaning against the back of the sofa. Yoongi can feel the uncontrollable excited jittering, the increasing warmth of his body.  “I feel amazing, Yoongi. Do you want some?”

 

Yoongi sits back, startled by the sudden offer as Hoseok laughs in his face, lips upturned in mischief. “Don’t worry. I wouldn’t give any to you even if you asked. You don’t want to become fucked up like me, do you, Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes soften as a piece of cutlery clutters against the kitchen bench, Jimin seemingly listening in to the soft conversation. He runs his fingers through the soft strands of hair on the side of Hoseok’s head, thumb brushing the delicate curve of his ear. “Will you tell me what it’s like?”

 

Hoseok hums in deliberation, eyes still shining brightly with added light, bordering on maniacal. “You forget everything that you obsess about in the back of your mind. It disappears, it no longer becomes relevant and is pushed away from your thoughts. You only feel what you want to feel, all your senses are heightened as you live in the moment. What once felt so dead inside is now pulsating with life. It’s like I spend every day of my life asleep and it’s only now that I’m awake. I don’t see her. I don’t hear her. There is only tranquil silence.”

 

Yoongi listens to Hoseok’s explanation quietly, heart clenching as he shares some of his haunted mind with Yoongi. “Instead, I just feel everything that I usually don’t let myself feel, happy, excited, hopeful. It’s all that exists. I live only for joy, for elation, for pleasure. Even right now, all I want is to bend you over the back of this sofa and pound into you as Jimin watches.”

 

Yoongi can’t help the spark of arousal that stirs in his gut at the bluntness of Hoseok’s delirious yet completely coherent words, arousal growing at the predatory look in his lover’s blown eyes. “I want to feel the smooth glide of skin against skin, the closeness and heat between bodies. I want to fall into lust, experiencing nothing but the carnal instinct to fuck. Would you let me, Yoongi? Would you let me take you like this?”

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Hobi,” Yoongi swallows loudly, head turning to peer at Jimin, who is loitering in the kitchen doorway, tea towel scrunched in his hands.

 

Hoseok surges forward, swinging his leg over Yoongi and straddling his narrow waist. He winds his arms around Yoongi’s neck, breath hot against his lover’s cheek as he grinds down seductively in his lap, seeking release. “Am I not enough for you? Are you repulsed by seeing me like this? How about I let you fuck me instead then? You can pretend I’m someone else. Come on, Yoongi-ah. I’ll make it good for you.”

 

Yoongi reaches up to grab at Hoseok’s wrists, trying to manoeuvre the larger boy off of him, but doesn’t have the energy to move him even an inch. “When you come down, you can have me. But not like this, never like this.”

 

Hoseok pouts childishly, finally rolling off Yoongi to the other side of the sofa with mild dissatisfaction sparkling in his eyes. “Fine then, ruin my fun why don’t you? You’re such a buzz kill.”

 

Jimin saunters over to the sofa, tucking the tea towel into his back pocket before reaching out to cup Hoseok’s face. He brushes a thumb over the bow of his lover’s upper lip, pressing a soft kiss to the small mole to the left of it. Hoseok surges forward, frantically trying to deepen the kiss, but Jimin is stronger, holding the older in place against the sofa.

 

Hoseok struggles against the constricting hold, teeth bared as he growls at his lover. “Oh… Are you going to hold me down, Jiminnie? Make me beg for it?”

 

A crazed giggle spills from Hoseok’s lips as Jimin lowers himself into his lap, his arms wrapped tightly around the other. “Yoongi, can you please watch the cooking? I’ve put everything in there already, just make sure it doesn’t burn.”

 

Yoongi nods hesitantly, eyes glued on Jimin’s form as he retreats into the kitchen. He watches warily from the doorway at how Jimin manages to keep Hoseok still, how he tenderly runs his hand through the other’s tangled hair. He whispers soothingly, his lips brushing against the shell of Hoseok’s ear. As time passes, Hoseok stops trying to frantically rut against the heavy weight on top of him, body loose and pliant under Jimin’s loving caresses.

 

Yoongi’s blood runs cold at the thought, the sentence repeating over and over again in his head.

 

Jimin’s loving touch.

 

Hoseok nuzzles into sensitive skin of Jimin’s neck, mouthing lazily at his skin expertly, like he’s known the boy all his life. Jimin’s eyes slip shut, doing nothing more than comfort and embrace the man who is reaching the end of his high, basking in the effects of the afterglow.

 

‘Would you look at that… A crack head is more loveable than you.’

 

‘Jiminnie doesn’t love Hoseok.’

 

‘You keep living in that delusional world of yours, Yoongi.’

 

‘But I’m losing weight. I’m becoming beautiful for him.’

 

‘Hmm… maybe you’re just not doing it quickly enough. He’s not going to wait for your ugly ass forever you know.’

 

Yoongi sucks in a deep breath, fingers curling and biting into the brittle wood of the doorframe. Their dinner crackles loudly in the pan on the stove, sauce and meat popping as it cooks. The delicious smell of it turns bitter, his stomach churning and clenching, threatening to bring up the little amount of water and bile that sits heavily in his gut.

 

No, he won’t eat tonight either.

 

He needs to be perfect for Jimin.

 

*~*~*

 

They don’t talk about it for the rest of the night, pretending that seeing Hoseok getting high didn’t change anything between them. The small strain in their relationship is evident though, Jimin and Yoongi not too sure how to handle the sight of Hoseok physically taking drugs.

 

Hoseok is quiet as he comes down from his high, his limbs lethargic and eyes heavy with sleep. It’s completely opposite to his previously energetic and horny demeanour. There is a slight twitch to his fingers, an itching need to do the second line that Yoongi had denied him earlier, but he manages to restrain himself, not wanting to push the couple too far.

 

Yoongi pushes the food carelessly around his plate whenever Jimin looks over at him, concern plastered across his face at his lover's lack of appetite. Yoongi takes a couple of bites to appease Jimin, though he knows that the food won’t stay in his stomach for long, not if he can help it. He doesn’t taste anything as he eats, all the food flavourless and bland.

 

There’s no pleasure from eating food anymore, it acts only as a means to an end. He eats enough so that he has enough energy to get out of bed in the morning, but even that is pushing it. Every bite is an exhausting chore, every chunk of food is just another piece of added weight that he doesn’t need.

 

Hoseok doesn’t eat much either, missing the munchies stage of his high and left only with a growling stomach but no appetite. Jimin is the only one eating, the soft sound of his metal chopsticks clinking against the ceramic bottom of the bowl is loud in the small lounge. The silence is biting and awkward, no one able to find words to fill the void of nothingness that settles between them.

 

Jimin ends up giving up on his meal, standing abruptly and wandering off into the kitchen with everyone’s barely touched meals. He frustratedly scrapes off everyone’s bowls into Tupperware containers, left with enough leftovers to feed the three of them for the next two days. 

 

Not that his other two lovers eat much over the next two days.

 

After getting caught the first time, Hoseok is a lot less cautious about hiding his stash and doesn’t work to conceal the fact that he’s high. He now often shoots up in the presence of Jimin or Yoongi. They desensitize to the sight of it after the next couple of times, slowly learning how to support him and help him through it comfortably. They don’t fuck when he’s out of it though, it’s a line that the couple won’t cross. They’re worried that the decisions made whilst on a high may not reflect Hoseok’s actual desires, refusing to take advantage of their inebriated lover, even with his consent.

 

It actually works as an incentive for Hoseok to stop using, the need for their refused touch, and the desire for primal contact keeps his addiction at bay for the most part. But as time passes, the hunger grows, the shakiness of his tired limbs takes over, and his mind becomes foggy to the point where he can barely think straight. A prickling sensation creeps up his spine, growing stronger and stronger until it feels like claws are digging into his brain and he begins to lose himself again.

 

So he does the only thing he can to eliminate the pain, he dulls it with another dose.

 

It’s a vicious cycle, one that he doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to break.

 

But if it means he can stay with Jimin and Yoongi, he’s willing to try.

 

*~*~*

 

The grocery bags weigh down his arms like lead as he trudges up the cracked pathway towards their apartment complex, the chilly breeze causing goosebumps to pebble his arms and his muscles to tense.  Hoseok hobbles slowly beside him, nursing a brown paper bag in his arms of milk and bread from the local corner store that they frequent. They often go there on the way home to pick up items that they had forgotten at the grocers, Jimin always losing his shopping list at some point during the short drive to the store. “Fuck, Hobi. What did you buy that’s so bloody heavy?”

 

The paper bag crinkles in Hoseok’s hold as a sheepish smile crosses his face, eyes sparkling apologetically. “I may or may not have stocked up on chocolate blocks for our movie nights. I know how much you like all the different flavours so I got one of each.”

 

Jimin pauses, Hoseok looking back at him at the abrupt stop, head cocking to the side comically. “Should I have not bought them?”

 

Jimin shakes his head softly, hair swaying gently and eyes crinkling into arches as he laughs fondly at Hoseok’s gesture. “No, it’s just very thoughtful of you, Hobi. Thank you.”

 

A faint blush dances across Hoseok’s cheeks, tinging the skin crimson as he flushes beneath the praise. “It’s no problem, really.”

 

Jimin skips past his lover, pressing a quick, chaste kiss to his winter-chapped lips before continuing down the dilapidated path. The plastic bags rustle loudly at the jostling movement, handles biting painfully into the flesh of his fingers and leaving red welts. “Come on, slow poke! I’ve still got to make lunch.”

 

Hoseok breathes out a laugh, skipping forward to catch up with his lover. He carefully cradles his arms around the base of the flimsy paper bag, nudging his shoulder against Jimin’s as they reach the entrance. “What are we having today?”

 

Jimin turns, using his back to push open the heavy door. “I’m feeling something simple. Maybe some sandwiches.”

 

Hoseok slips in after him, sneakers scuffing softly against the concrete flooring. “Would you like some help?”

 

Jimin presses the elevator button with his knuckle, the clunking sound of the moving elevator echoing up the stairwell. “I quite like my kitchen intact thank you very much.”

 

Hoseok rests his chin against Jimin’s drooping shoulder, muscles straining and pulled from the weight of the bags. “Why do you have to ruin my fun?”

 

Jimin slowly leans forward and nuzzles his nose against Hoseok’s, weight shifting slightly as the ascending elevator wobbles from their combined weights. “Fine then, you can cut the lettuce. Be glad that I like you so much, Hobi. I barely let Yoongi into the kitchen unless it’s under dire circumstances.”

 

Hoseok’s body relaxes at the verbal display of affection, warmth spreading from his chest to the tips of his fingers. He bites down softly on his lip, eyes watching the numbers count up as they approach their floor.

 

‘Be glad I like you so much.’

 

It’s hard for Hoseok to not take it the wrong way, to delve into his own fantasy of a functional relationship. After Jimin and Yoongi had comforted him during his first high in their presence, he has to work to remind himself that he doesn’t matter, that he’ll never matter.

 

He remembers gentle fingers carding through his hair, the soft murmur of reassurances in his ear as his body was held in a tight embrace. He remembers Jimin, the subtle yet pleasant smell of spring and flowers, immediately recognisable despite his altered state. He remembers how instead of taking advantage of him during his vulnerable state like so many before them have, they comforted him and cared for him with a tenderness that he hadn’t felt in a long time. They gave him support and helped him through his pains and expecting nothing in return.

 

He wants more. He wants everything the couple is unable to give. He wants what happened on that day to become a permanent occurrence, he wants to stay by their side as an equal, someone that has a position in their relationship besides a casual fuck buddy.

 

He wants to be loved by them.

 

‘What a fucking massive ask that is. Why don’t I just ask them to marry me while I’m at it? Seems like I want to set myself up for rejection.’

 

The elevator dings loudly, static buzz drawing him from his painful thoughts and making his ears ring as they step off the rusty box.

 

Jimin glances back at him as they waddle down the hall, beautiful smile spread across his face. “Do you like salami?”

 

Hoseok stares at the younger boy, flustered by the adorableness of his face and the random question. He takes a couple of seconds to compose his thoughts, mischievous smirk settling over his features like a mask, hiding his actual emotions from view. “I thought you already knew that I like meat in my sandwiches.”

 

Jimin snorts loudly, placing a bag on the ground as he fishes his keys out of his jean pocket. “Well if you’re going to say it like that, then I might just hide the salami.”

 

The deadbolt on the door snaps open with a deafening click, temporarily drowning out the noise of Hoseok’s immature sniggers. He sweeps around the younger, picking the grocery bag off the dirty floor before Jimin has the chance to. Jimin kicks off his shoes, shutting the door behind them softly before locking it. “Thanks for getting that Hoseok, I feel like my fingers are about to fall off.”

 

Hoseok just flashes a cheesy grin in reply, slowly gravitating towards the kitchen in an attempt to not drop anything. The last thing they want is carpet soaked through with milk.

 

Jimin shrugs off his winter coat, hanging it on the free hook beside Yoongi’s favourite chunky scarf. “Yoongi? Honey?”

 

Hoseok pokes his head out of the kitchen and around the corner, gazing at Jimin questioningly at the lack of response he recieves. “Has he gone out? He was still here when we left.”

 

Jimin shakes his head softly, heading over towards Hoseok and ushering the older back into the cramped space of the kitchen to unpack their groceries. “I don’t think so. His stuff is still here. He’s probably in bed or in the shower.”

 

Hoseok wasn’t lying when he’d said that he’d gotten one of every flavour, the blocks of various chocolates stacking to compile into a massive heap. They work quickly and quietly, stacking and shelving efficiently as they move around the kitchen with familiarity, so in tune with each other’s movements that they never bump or crash into each other.

 

Hoseok shuts the kitchen cupboard door with a drawn out creak, his nose scrunching at the ear piercing noise as he places the final groceries away. Jimin leans against the counter beside him, legs crossed and inspecting a packet of salami in his hands. “Yoongi! Do you want salami in your sandwich? It’s almost out of date.”

 

Hoseok peers up questioningly when there’s no reply, noting the equally as confused expression on Jimin’s face at Yoongi’s lack of response. Jimin places the packet onto the counter gently, slowly shuffling out of the kitchen with Hoseok tentatively on his heels. Hoseok’s expression drops into a frown, cautiously approaching the bedroom door behind Jimin, his fingers reaching out to brush against Jimin’s.

 

Jimin sucks in a breath, twisting the handle of the wonky door before pushing it open softly with his hand. They’re instantly assault with the sour smell of bile and vomit, the foul stench of it almost making Hoseok choke and his eyes water. Jimin’s eyes widen, stumbling forwards just as Yoongi heaves again, empting the small amount of content in his stomach. The disgusting sound of vomit hitting the water of the toilet bowl is loud in their small bathroom. Yoongi’s body is draped uselessly across the cracked tiles of the bathroom floor, shaking and straining as he tries to force up the final remnants of toast that he’d had for breakfast.

 

“Yoongi!”

 

Jimin rushes forward into the bathroom, falling heavily to his knees with a painful smack, skidding to a stop beside his shaking boyfriend. He yanks frantically at the toilet paper roll, roughly folding it and dabbing gently at Yoongi’s saliva slicked lips and chin. “Yoongi… Why…? Why are you doing this again?”

 

Yoongi groans loudly, small rivulets of tears tracking over his flushed cheeks and chin. He tries to hide his face from Jimin’s view, his vulnerable body curling in on itself. The sterile light of the fluorescent bulb emphasises the sickly green tinge to his pale complexion, clammy skin glistening as a light shimmer in the harsh lighting. “D-don’t look at me. I’m disgusting.”

 

Yoongi’s breaths come out in rapid pants and gasps, his fingers curled tightly around the lip of the toilet bowl. His platinum fringe is matted and flat against his sweat dampened skin, body straining at the forceful heaves. Jimin shakes his head vehemently, arms trying to weave around and comfort his borderline hysteric lover.

 

“You’re never disgusting. Don’t say that, not to me. Why is it no matter how many times I tell you, how many times I show you that I love you, you still do this. You’re perfect, Min Yoongi. Perfect for me.”

 

Yoongi hunches forward, pained sobs spilling from his lips as Jimin continues to whisper loving reassurances in his ear. The words travel in one ear, swirling through his consciousness without being comprehended, before leaving out of the other. He can barely think, mind having shut down instantly when he realised Jimin had caught him. Deafening static screeches in his ears, Jimin’s repeating words not making any sense to him as he struggles to stay focused on reality.

 

Yoongi… you’re being a burden again. Look at how you’re making Jimin worry.’

 

‘He came home early. He usually takes more than an hour.’

 

‘You’re so irresponsible, Yoongi. Letting him see you like this.’

 

‘It’s not my fault. I tried to time it so he wouldn’t see me.’

 

‘Nothing’s ever your fault is it, Yoongi? Never taking the blame, always spouting excuses. Maybe that’s why no one loves you.’

 

‘No. I’ll try harder. I won’t let him see me like this again.’

 

‘This is the third time he’s caught you and you know how the saying goes, third time’s the charm.’

 

‘No. I’ll pretend that I’m not doing it. He’ll believe me. He always believes me.’

 

‘Only if he sticks around. He’s seen how desperate you are to keep him, Yoongi. No one wants an inept loser who resorts to puking up his stomach to look good as a boyfriend.’

 

‘I’m doing it for him. For us. He’ll love me more.’

 

‘According to whom?’

 

‘You.’

 

Hoseok stands in the bathroom door, hands clenched against his sides and frozen in shock at the scene playing out in front of him. Silent sobs tear through Jimin’s body as he cradles Yoongi to his chest, rocking the older gently. Comforting words spew continuously from his quivering lips. Hoseok stares at Yoongi’s lifeless gaze, the eyes he’s seen before whenever the older catches his reflection in a mirror. It’s like he’s not even conscious, retreating to some dark crevice in the back of his mind.

 

Hoseok can’t tear his eyes away, drowning in the agony that’s swimming in the depths of Yoongi’s unwavering, blind gaze. He’s done this to himself, forced himself to throw up his food. Hoseok noticed it at their first meeting, the small amounts of food that Yoongi forced himself to eat, the ecstatic and praising sparkle in Jimin’s eyes when he finally did.

 

After moving in with them Hoseok’s figured out that he seldom eats, only managing miniscule amounts of food here and there, just enough to stop him from passing out. Hoseok assumed that it had to do with weight, seeing some pictures of a slightly chubby Yoongi when he was younger scattered around the apartment. He never realised that it was this bad though, limiting what you eat is one thing, but forcing yourself to throw up is another.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

Jimin’s head snaps up, having forgotten about Hoseok’s presence in the doorway. He sniffles loudly, carding his fingers soothingly through the tangled mess of Yoongi’s hair, massaging his scalp. “Hey, can you wait for me in the lounge? I’ll explain it to you later, but I really just need to get him into bed.”

 

Hoseok lingers hesitantly, fingers twitching nervously at his sides as he batters down the urge to rush over and aid Jimin in comforting Yoongi. “There has to be something I can do to help?”

 

Jimin gives him a watery smile, his hand rubbing soothing circles against Yoongi’s back as the older’s rushed and stilted breathing begins to slow down. “Thank you, but there’s nothing we can do while he’s like this. If you could put the kettle on and make some tea though, that would be a massive help. Just something light to settle his stomach.”

 

Hoseok’s head jerks in a shaky nod, backing away slowly. “I’ll be in the kitchen then.”

 

Jimin stands quickly, filling up his cup with water before bobbing down again, pressing the cup gently to Yoongi’s lips. “Hey, I need you to rinse your mouth out. We need to get rid of the acid in your mouth. Can you do that for me?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes jerk to the cup in front of him, head cocked slightly as he regards and processes Jimin’s question. After a short while he slowly leans forward, taking a small sip of the cool water before swirling the liquid around in his mouth, spitting the waste into the toilet.

 

Jimin calms his breathing, cooing softly in praise.He leaves the cup on the floor beside the toilet, tucking his arms under Yoongi’s bent legs and lifting him up easily. He nuzzles into the side of Yoongi’s face as he carries him to bed, his wet eyelashes fluttering against his boyfriend’s pale cheek. “J-Jiminnie… you love me, don’t you?”

 

Jimin’s heart clenches at the question, wanting nothing more than to erase every doubt, every uncertainty that Yoongi has of himself and of Jimin. He leans in, pressing a soft kiss to Yoongi’s lips, uncaring of the sour remnants of acid on his lips. “I love you, Min Yoongi, with all of my heart, and nothing is ever going to change that. You’re my everything. You need to stop doing this, you’re hurting yourself.”

 

Yoongi leans forward as Jimin places him down on their bed, swinging his lover’s legs around so that he can tuck him into the comfortable sheets. “Okay.”

 

Jimin delicately sweeps the ratty tendrils of Yoongi’s fringe to the side, fingers caressing down and across the sharp cut of his jaw. “You rest. I’m going to talk to Hoseok really quickly and then I’ll bring you some tea and join you in bed. Try to relax, I’ll be right back.”

 

Yoongi nods languidly, rolling onto side and pulling their cheap doona up to his chin, his body curling into the fetal position with his back to Jimin.

 

Hoseok is sitting on the sofa, body coiled and tense as he waits for Jimin. The three mugs of chamomile tea sit on the coffee table in front of him, steam swirling up towards the ceiling. His hands are tucked underneath his thighs, using his weight in an attempt to stop his nervous jittering.

 

Jimin rounds the corner, shoulders slouched in defeat and worry as he approaches the couch. He lowers himself down onto the sofa beside Hoseok, head lolling against the back of the sofa. “I don’t have long, I need to stay with him for a while, until I’m sure that he’ll be alright.”

 

Hoseok nods slowly, his fingers entwining with Jimin’s as a sign of support. “Yeah. Don’t worry about it. You don’t need to tell me, just go back and comfort him.”

 

Jimin bites down on his lip, body struggling against the need to rush back to Yoongi’s side. “No, I need to at least explain a little bit. I can’t tell you the full story, because even I don’t know everything about this. It’s been going on for a while, almost four years now. You’ve probably seen how he doesn’t eat much, barely touching his food and using every excuse in the book to avoid eating. I thought he was getting better, he’s been eating a little bit more and has had more energy than usual lately. The last couple of times this happened he promised me that he’d stop going to this extreme, that he’d stop forcing his body to do this. I’m just wondering now how much of a lie that was and how many times he’s done it behind my back.”

 

Hoseok lifts their entwined fingers up his mouth, pressing a chaste kiss to the back of Jimin’s hand and rubbing soothing circles with his thumb. “Will he be alright?”

 

Jimin sighs, giving Hoseok’s hand a reassuring squeeze before standing, picking up two of the steaming mugs of tea. “He’ll be okay once he’s had a chance to calm down and rest a little. It’ll crash down on him when he wakes up, so I need to make sure that I’m there to help him through it.”

 

Hoseok calls out just as Jimin is about to round the corner into the hallway, croaking voice barely audible. “No. I mean will he be alright?”

 

Jimin shoots him wry grin, fingers clenching against the handles of the mugs as stares helplessly into Hoseok’s worried eyes. “When I find out… I’ll let you know.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 13

 

 

Yoongi drags his feet across unstable pavement, stepping over the cracks and attentively avoids the weeds sprouting out hazardously. He kicks a rock and he watches it skitter into the gutter, smacking against a gluttonous garbage bag sitting out in the middle of the street. He approaches the steps of a familiar building, not sparing the children that run past him much of a glance before ascending upwards. His legs start to ache once he’s climbed up the third flight of stairs, his hands gripping tightly onto the railing with its iron exterior supporting majority of his weight. He’s breathing heavily by the fourth flight, and sweating by the fifth. By the time he reaches Jimin’s floor he has to lean against the wall for support, wiping his clammy hands on the material of his jeans.

 

Why had he insisted on going to Jimin’s apartment complex again? He should’ve just arranged a meeting place somewhere in the city where they could’ve hung out. It had been a foolish decision on his part. He knows better than anyone that Jimin’s complex doesn’t have elevators.

 

He trudges tiredly down the hallway, his fingers trailing along the chipped wall just incase his legs suddenly decided to give out on him again. He feels his phone buzzing in his pocket and he knows it’s probably a text from Jimin asking where he is, so he doesn’t bother to check it before halting outside his friend’s front door. He fixes his fringe, ruffling it over his eyes and straightening out his jacket before reaching out to press on the doorbell. He stands there in silence for a grand total of five seconds before he hears feet thudding against the floor, rapidly approaching. A smile twitches fondly at the corners of his lips as the door is swung open, revealing his friend’s grinning face.

 

“Hyung!” he cries, practically leaping at him. Yoongi tries not to flinch under the force of Jimin’s hug as the boy’s strong arms encase around him, squeezing him tightly. “Whoa, did you lose weight while I was gone?”

 

Jimin had just come back from visiting family down in Busan. Although it was regrettable that the two of them couldn’t spend time with each other over the winter break, Yoongi had been in no position to ask the younger to stay. Jimin had even gone as far as to invite him along, as Yoongi is practically a second son to the Parks, but he had politely declined. There were certain… things that he had to sort out before they embarked upon their final year of high school together – things that involved him alone. He hasn’t seen Jimin in over two months, and it’s amazing to finally be reunited with him once again, but the way he was appraising his body transformation is making him a little uncomfortable.

 

“I… My mum signed me up to a gym,” he lies hesitantly, knowing his friend isn’t all that difficult to convince.

 

Jimin frowns, clear disapproval evident in his gaze. “That sounds like something your mother would do…” but he still sounds sceptical.

 

Yoongi smiles weakly, slinging his arm around Jimin. “Enough about me though. Tell me all about your trip to Busan.”

 

That’s how it started.

 

It was the little things, at first, that Jimin noticed about Yoongi’s transformation. He doesn’t know what had gone down while he was away in Busan, but something had changed over the winter that had affected his friend in a severe way. He’s a lot weaker than he used to be. Yoongi used to be quite good at sports, particularly baseball and basketball. He was even on the school basketball team until he quit to “focus on his studies.” Maybe Jimin would have accepted that excuse under normal circumstances, seeing as the older was entering into his final year and his grades actually mattered, but Yoongi had never really cared for study anyhow. He could’ve accepted it if he said his mother had forced him to quit, but Yoongi had voluntarily left the team, like he had just… given up.

 

Something was wrong. Jimin knew something was wrong, but for months he doesn’t say or do anything about it. How could he? His friend is slowly starting to deteriorate before his eyes and he has no idea how or why. He might have an idea about one of the contributing factors behind Yoongi’s sudden weight loss, but he’s too scared to speak out on it. He really doesn’t want to upset the older. For the longest time, Jimin has been Yoongi’s confidant – someone who has been there to support and encourage him through his darkest moments. His parents are useless – they don’t care much for emotional issues that they can’t understand, so often Yoongi turns to Jimin for guidance and help.

 

Yoongi has stopped eating. When they meet up during lunchtime and loiter around the empty classrooms, Yoongi always seems to have forgotten to pack his lunch for the day. It was never two days in a row – only about twice in one week, but Jimin was picking up more than Yoongi thinks he is. He’s unobservant – sure, but he isn’t an idiot. He knows an illness when he sees one, and the way Yoongi’s cheeks have shed all the baby fat and hollowed out is all but a little unsettling to witness as his friend. He wants to be supportive, but how can he help Yoongi when Yoongi doesn’t even want to help himself?

 

“I think you should maybe talk to Yoongi, dear,” his mother tells him as she’s chopping up the vegetables in preparation for dinner one day.

 

Jimin looks up from his homework to blink at her, dread building up inside of him. “Why do you say that?” he asks slowly, cautiously.

 

“He isn’t happy,” she says in a sad tone. “He looks tired all the time, and he hardly ever eats when he comes over. He used to smile a lot more, you know?”

 

“I… guess.” He bites the inside of his cheek, his eyebrows knitted with concern. So he definitely isn’t imagining things. “I’ll talk to him.”

 

The rain is pouring down outside when Yoongi comes over to chill with him for the evening. It’s a Saturday, and he should be studying, but neither of them care all that much. Yoongi lies on Jimin’s bed with his hands laced behind his head and his leg crossed over the other, his eyes closed as he hums along to the music playing from Jimin’s stereo. Jimin is on the floor playing Playstation, though his player keeps dying and regenerating because he’s unbelievably distracted. He doesn’t know how much longer he can remain silent on this. Does he mention it now? What if he ruins their friendship? What if Yoongi flips out and never wants to speak with him again?

 

Then he thinks about Yoongi’s weight loss though, and he sighs heavily, pausing the game. He wants to help his friend as much as possible, and the only way he can do that is to take a stand.

 

“Hyung,” he calls quietly as he sets aside the console, reaching over to turn down the volume of the stereo. Yoongi slowly opens his eyes and blinks down at Jimin questioningly. “I just… we need to talk, hyung.”

“You sound so serious,” Yoongi comments with a humorous drawl, languidly rolling onto his side to face him. “Are you breaking up with me?”

 

Jimin blushes before shaking his head. “It’s not that hyung,” he answers. “I was just wondering if you’ve… been having any problems recently. You haven’t really been yourself since I got back from Busan.”

 

The older shrugs casually, and it bothers Jimin how easily Yoongi is about to shrug off his concern. “I’ve just been occupied with school. You know, studying and stuff.”

 

“You’re lying to me,” he retorts exasperatedly. “When did you start doing that, huh? I thought best friends didn’t keep secrets from each other.”

 

Yoongi scoffs. “You’re overreacting, there are no secrets. I’m telling the truth. I’m sorry that I can’t be at your beck and call every hour of the day now that I’m in my final year. Some of us have responsibilities to uphold.”

 

“You never gave a damn about your grades and you know it!” Jimin’s voice gets louder. So suddenly, in fact, that Yoongi is momentarily stunned by the outburst. “You refuse to eat during meals – and when you do, it’s measly portions that I know aren’t filling. You’re tired all the time – more so than usual. It’s like you don’t have the energy to properly function anymore, hyung. What’s wrong? Why are you doing this to yourself? It isn’t because of what happened last year, is it?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes harden and his jaw clenches. Jimin knows he’s hit a sensitive nerve. “That’s quite the imagination, Jimin. Where did you pull it out from? Your ass?”

 

“Don’t give me that shit!” Jimin yells, frustrated that Yoongi isn’t listening. “You think I’m the only one who’s noticed? My mum’s wondering why you never come over for dinner anymore, my sister keeps asking me if you’re OK, they’re worried too! Stop writing this off as nothing when it’s clear something is wrong!”

 

“Why the hell should it matter?” Yoongi growls.

 

“Because you matter, hyung,” Jimin exhales sharply, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. “You don’t smile like you used to. I’m worried for you – and please, please don’t try and convince me that nothing is wrong. We’re best friends. I’m here to help you.”

 

“Jimin,” the older sighs, sitting up on the bed. “You can’t help me. This is something that I need to deal with alone.”

 

“No you don’t,” Jimin says softly, crawling over to the bed to lay a hand on top of Yoongi’s. “Whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone in this. I can help you – I want to help you. Please hyung, let me do this.”

 

Yoongi doesn’t look at him, something akin to pain marring his features as he takes keen interest in the rain outside. Jimin props himself onto his knees and clutches the older boy’s hand, giving it a tight squeeze. He tilts his head and tries to meet his friend’s gaze, but Yoongi has always been stubborn.

 

With a sharp exhale, Yoongi rips his hand from Jimin’s and throws his feet over the edge of the mattress.

 

“Hyung?” Jimin calls confusedly, a flash of hurt passing in his eyes as he watches Yoongi stand and move towards the door.

 

“I’ll see you at school on Monday,” Yoongi mutters, exiting without another word.

 

Jimin stares at the closed door in shock, as though he couldn’t quite comprehend that Yoongi had left him like that so abruptly. Contrary to popular belief, his friend isn’t quite as brash as he first appears; he’s just a little sharp around the edges. On the inside, he’s the most caring and compassionate person Jimin has ever known, and for him to leave like that – with his demeanour cold and his voice cutting, it’s just plain uncharacteristic.

 

He averts his eyes out the window, ignoring the single tear that escapes the corner of his eye. It occurs to him belatedly that it hadn’t been raining when Yoongi first arrived, and that he hadn’t brought along an emergency umbrella.

 

*~*~*

 

Jin mentally groans at the blare of his alarm clock, the morning radio automatically switching on to broadcast the chirpy voices that are so fucking happy at this godforsaken hour it should be a crime. He cracks open his eyes and swings his arm over to switch off the clock, the traitorous time of 6:01 glaring back at him through the cosy darkness of his bedroom. It isn’t long before he realises the extra weight he’s packing and glances down to find Taehyung’s arm strewn across his middle, drooling unabashedly onto his side. He makes a disgusted face before remembering that Taehyung and Jungkook had slept with them last night. With great caution he removes Taehyung’s arm and slips out of bed, placing the arm carefully down on the mattress.

 

He blinks before realising that Jungkook had slept on his side last night. His lips pull into a line when it dawns on him that Jungkook is no longer here, which explains why Taehyung had rolled over and taken his place at some point. He rubs his eyes tiredly as he drags his feet to the bathroom to have a shower and groom himself. It’s pretty much routine for a weekday, having to get up this early and get ready for work. As taxing as it can get at times, he finds he works a lot more productively in the mornings than he does in the evenings, unlike Namjoon, who prefers to sleep in and start working later in the day.

 

Overall he takes about half an hour in the bathroom. For a man he’s arguably quite attentive towards how he presents himself, which is nothing to be ashamed of. He thinks it’s important to make a visual impression, and he feels he’s able to carry himself with more confidence when he’s looking his best. Namjoon complains about it sometimes, even going as far as to question his true gender, but Jin remains impervious to his teasing. When he steps out of the shower and wraps a towel around his waist, he smiles as his reflection in the mirror. He moisturises his face and dries his hair, combing it to sit properly so that not a hair on his chestnut head is out of place. He’s a professional, and he ought to look like one too.

 

He gets dressed in the walk-in wardrobe so that he doesn’t have to turn on the lights in the master bedroom to navigate his way around. As tempting as it is to wake up both Taehyung and Namjoon grossly before their usual times, Seokjin is not a sadist – well, that and he’d never hear the end of it from either of them for the next week because they’re such babies.

 

He slips on his black socks and fixes his cufflinks, smoothing over his suit and appraising it critically in the mirror. His navy blue tie compliments well with his grey suit, and although his tastes in fashion are quite plain, the classic look never goes out of