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maybe in another universe

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INTRO

“You’re staring,” Yoongi deadpans.

“Am not,” Jimin retorts weakly.

Where: The dance practise room where BTS are currently holed up rehearsing for end-of-year shows.

When: December 21, 2015, 1:52AM.

Who: Kim Seokjin, lovely domestic big hyung, Jimin’s source of nutritional sustenance; Min Yoongi, rapper extraordinaire and pain in the butt, sprawled on the couch playing Neko Atsume; Kim Namjoon, philosophical mastermind and Jimin’s go-to for Life Problems; Jung Hoseok, Jimin’s dance partner; Park Jimin, self-professed cutie number one, currently sitting on the sofa next to one disgruntled Min Yoongi; Kim Taehyung, hot, sexy, sweaty, lost in his own world, currently trying to break the record for water imbibement as he downs his third bottle of water; and Jeon Jeongguk, the little insolent shit who always manages to push Jimin’s buttons just so (but he’s cute so Jimin forgives him every time).

What: Cutie number one Park Jimin has just been caught salivating over the bobbing of Kim Taehyung’s Adam’s apple by a sharp-eyed Min Yoongi.

Can’t blame Jimin. Taehyung has a stellar Adam’s apple. What would be more stellar is Jimin’s tongue on it sucking bruises into the skin of Taehyung’s neck.

Wait, what?

Yoongi snorts, and Jimin groans into his hands. “If you say so,” Yoongi says, unconvinced. He goes back to scrolling through his phone, thoroughly engrossed by the array of cartoon kittens napping on his screen. “If you ask me, you look like a little lovesick puppy.” Jimin throws a cushion at him half-heartedly, missing by a whole arm’s length.

They barely have a week before end-of-year shows start, and they have to display months of backbreaking labour in four minutes in front of cameras which may or may not even capture the whole thing properly. They’re barely getting three hours of sleep a week, and tensions are running high, but that’s not what’s causing the majority of Jimin’s problems right now.

“Jiminnie!” The Problem shouts, bounding across the practise room.

“What?” Jimin asks, startled. He rakes fingers through his hair as Taehyung examines him. Taehyung stares at him for a beat longer before breaking out into that sunny smile of his that never ceases to make Jimin’s knees go wobbly.

“Heh. Nothing. Just wanted your attention. Pass me the water.”

“Bastard,” Jimin says with a grin, punching Taehyung on the arm and lobbing the water bottle in Taehyung’s direction. “You’re going to wake up in the middle of night with either a wet bed or a burst bladder if you drink any more.”

“You know you can die from water poisoning?” Jeongguk quips helpfully from where he’s stretching his legs against the mirror. Seokjin raises an eyebrow, and slowly lowers the bottle of water from his lips, causing Jimin to let out a bark of laughter. “I learnt that the hard way. After I drank that entire trophy of water. And our Twitter was bombarded with messages of worry for my bladder.”

“Don’t care,” Taehyung says, nuzzling into Jimin’s side. He rests his head on Jimin’s shoulder, and Jimin has to bite down a whimper when Taehyung’s hand snakes across his back and grips his waist. Taehyung is sweaty and sticky and gross, and by all means, Jimin should be making a face and shoving Taehyung off, but all Jimin can think about is how this feels so warm and comforting and right, Taehyung snuggled in by Jimin’s side like this.

Next to Taehyung, Yoongi’s staring right at Jimin, eyebrows slowly rising into his hairline.

“Get off me,” Jimin almost yells, shoving Taehyung a little too hard into Yoongi. Hurt flickers across Taehyung’s face momentarily before settling into bemusement, and Jimin licks his dry lips. “Uh, I mean, sorry, didn’t mean to shove you that hard, you’re gross and sweaty and—we should go back to choreography, huh?”

“Yeah,” Hoseok shouts, and grunts as he gets up from where he’d been lying on the hardwood floor. “We don’t have much time. Let’s gun it!”

Taehyung shoots Jimin one last weird look before walking to the middle of the room, where their dance teacher Son Sungdeuk’s clapping his hands for them to gather, and Jimin lets out a long breath he didn’t know he’d been holding.

Okay. So maybe Yoongi’s right.

 

 

Here’s the thing: Jimin might just have a tiny little massive Code Red Do Not Pass Go Do Not Collect $200 boner for Kim Taehyung.

A boner which extends to little tingly feelings in his heart and an overwhelming flood of euphoria and giddiness when Taehyung laughs and holds Jimin’s hand in his and tugs him around to partake in his shenanigans.

And maybe, maybe more than once, Jimin has wanted to say fuck it all and shake off his fear, walk up to Taehyung and wrap his arms around Taehyung’s neck and give him cuddles and cute kisses. Or, y’know, pull him into a passionate, open-mouthed kiss, complete with crotch-fondling and maybe (hopefully) the lead-up to a little cock-sucking, Taehyung moaning his name as Jimin presses him against the wall and hollows his cheeks while he works his tongue against the underside of Taehyung’s dick. Either or.

Jimin’s imagination gets a little overactive sometimes.

But as vivid and graphic as his imagination is, Jimin’s also not a complete idiot, meaning he’s exercised his self restraint many, many times—especially when he and Taehyung are pushed into the showers together to ‘save water’.

Most of those showers are filled with Jimin angling his body away from Taehyung’s so his questionably erect Jimmy Junior doesn’t make things Awkward.

“Just tell him so you’ll stop pestering me,” Jeongguk says, rolling his eyes from where he’s watching the newest episode of Haikyuu!! on his laptop. Binge-watching anime is Jeongguk’s way of destressing, and, as the end of year approaches, Jeongguk lying on the couch with earbuds in is a more and more frequent sight. Jimin’s sitting on the couch next to Jeongguk, freshly-showered, brain flying haywire with a jumble of end-of-year choreography, Japanese song lyrics, and dirty fantasies of Taehyung. He splutters, shooting Jeongguk an indignant look, and Jeongguk just sighs and pulls out one earbud. “God knows you need to get that pent-up sexual energy out somewhere, and trust me, your own hand isn't doing the trick.”

“Shut up, Jeongguk,” Jimin grits out.

“Be honest,” Jeongguk says, a tired but shit-eating grin on his face. “How many times have you jerked off to him now? No, wait, how many times a day do you—”

“I swear to god, Jeon Jeongguk—”

“Ah, so that means you have done it, I knew those sounds from bathroom next to the dance studio couldn’t be just—”

“Shut up while I’m still being nice. And call me hyung.”

“Maybe in another universe,” Jeongguk jibes, sticking his tongue out. Jimin moves to whack him on the arm, and he defends himself with the cushion on the sofa, giggling as Jimin heaves a large sigh and shakes his head. “Nice try, hyu—hyu—hy—nope, can’t do it.”

“You little shit,” Jimin says, as Jeongguk laughs silently. “Hey. Get some rest soon. Staying up late’s not good for you.”

“I could say the same for you, hyung,” Jeongguk shoots back. He slides his earbud back in. “Hey. Just save us all from grief and tell him already. We’re all waiting for it.”

Jimin rolls his eyes, lobbing a sofa cushion at Jeongguk, and retreats to his room for another session of biting into the pillow with his hands down his pants, trying not to whimper out the name of the very roommate he’s jerking off to.

Park Jimin, professional sinner. Maybe he should invest in some Jesus soap.

Or maybe, like Jeongguk said, if he had more courage, he’d be able to tell Taehyung without panicking about destroying their friendship. And everything else.

Maybe in another universe.

 

---

 

Jimin opens his eyes to a sight which is definitely not the ceiling of the dorm room he shares with Taehyung.

“What the—” he splutters, sitting up, only to whack his head on the metal beams of the bunk above him. “What the hell?”

“Morning, sunshine,” a familiar voice booms from above him. An upside-down face pops in front of Jimin, scaring the bejeezus out of him. Taehyung, currently upside down, hair standing on end, has a mischievous grin plastered to his face, and is waggling his eyebrows. “Sparring really knocked you out yesterday, huh? Who got their ass kicked by me, myself, and I? That right, it Park Jimin! Hoo! Ha!”

“Taehyung?” Jimin shakes his head. The room is tiny, walls made of rusted metal and bolts fastening down a large screen displaying a holographic map in green, beeping every so often. “Wh—where are we?”

“What? We’re in our room…” Taehyung squints, then his head disappears from Jimin’s vision. Moments later, Taehyung lands on his feet with a whump, having jumped down from the top bunk. He walks over to hold Jimin’s face between his hands, squishing Jimin’s cheeks so Jimin’s effectively immobilised, lips are forced into a pout and looking like a pufferfish. “Jiminnie? Did you hurt your head yesterday? I did roundhouse you pretty hard… Do you need to go to the first aid centre?”

“No, no, I’m…” Jimin shakes his head, wincing as pain shoots through his spine. “Um, where’s Jeongukkie? Seokjin-hyung? Namjoon-hyung?”

Taehyung tilts his head. “Jeongguk? Seokjin? There’s no one working in this Shatterdome by that name. Jiminnie, are you—”

Shatterdome? “How about our manager?”

“Manager? Uh, you mean Marshal Hansen? Yeah, he should be in LOCCENT Mission Control, running tests on some of the Jaegers—”

“Oooooookay.” Jimin swings his legs over the side of the bed, rubbing the side of his head. “Very funny, Taehyung, is this a hidden camera prank? How did you and the others manage to move me when I was asleep? Where are the cameras?”

Taehyung levels Jimin with a look, eyebrows furrowing.

“Jimin. This isn’t a prank. The world is ending, and we’re humanity’s last hope.”

 

 

“Wait, wait,” Jimin says, holding his hands up. They’ve just spent the last two hours in the first aid centre, Jimin strapped to strange and dangerous-looking machines, being questioned with bright lights shone in his eyes. The nurses had run series of tests on Jimin to check for brainwave abnormality, concussions, spinal injury, and abnormal radiation levels in Jimin’s blood, only to announce that he was perfectly fine and that Taehyung needed to stop fucking around with the staff and pulling stupid jokes like a 5-year-old. They’re now in the cafeteria, some kind of gross mush of potato and carrots with canned peas in front of Jimin’s face, along with cuts of spam and something with way too much MSG in it to be healthy. “Wait. Let me get this straight. We’re the pilots. Of a Jaeger. Called Encanto Wolfpuppy?”

Taehyung nods, shovelling a spoon of peas into his mouth and chewing happily.

Wolfpuppy?”

“Mark-5, baby,” Taehyung croons, waving his spoon in the air and flicking a remnant pea into the face of a passerby. The man shoots Taehyung a dirty look before wiping said pea off his face, and Taehyung smiles at him hesitantly before turning back to Jimin. “Only two Jaeger pilots from South Korea with that honour. The only other Mark-5 in operation’s the one piloted by the Japanese duo Hinata and Kageyama, and they almost got their asses kicked in the Breach a year ago.”

Jimin sighs.

Taehyung shovels the bland mash into his mouth. “Hurry up and finish eating. We gotta get you into Encanto Wolfpuppy so I can see inside your brain and figure out what the hell happened here and why you don’t remember anything.”

This is how Jimin ends up with terrible bloating and gas while being strapped into really fucking heavy full-body armour in what Taehyung informs him is the Drivesuit Room.

His brain sure makes his dreams weird—and painful—as hell.

“Test run!” Marshal Hansen is shouting to the technicians in Mission Control. Jimin gulps. Marshal Hansen oozes an aura of someone who absolutely will not take any shit, face drawn and solemn, scar across his eye providing a gruesome focal point to what would have been an otherwise ruggedly handsome face. “All systems ready for pilots Kim and Park to board Encanto Canis to—”

“Canis?” Jimin hisses to a giggling Taehyung. The final bolt of the Spinal Clamp is secured on Jimin’s armour suit, and Jimin holds back a yelp as Taehyung pushes him forward, up the platform to the Conn-Pod. “You told me it was Wolfpuppy!”

Taehyung grins. “I always wanted to name her Wolfpuppy. So much cuter. But also a lot less intimidating. I got outvoted. Unanimously.”

“I can see why,” Jimin murmurs.

“Ahem.” Marshal Hansen clears his throat, his arms behind his back, looking sternly at Taehyung. Taehyung salutes with a grin, putting his helmet on. “Nice to know you’re with us here, Kim. Ready for initiation?”

“Ready, Cap’n!”

This is something out of a sci-fi movie, Jimin muses, as he steps into the footholds, his armour clicking into place and securing him in the pod of the Jaeger. Well. Probably because it is. He vaguely recalls watching a movie called Pacific Rim when it first came out, at Taehyung’s strong insistence and pestering, curled up in the dorm room with his head on Taehyung’s lap and munching on popcorn while intermittently feeding Taehyung whenever Taehyung poked him in the side and opened his mouth like a baby bird. Taehyung had yelped and clapped loudly during every single fight scene, mimicking the Jaegers’ movements, mouth hanging open every moment that could possibly be interpreted as sexual tension between the two leads.

“Dammit!” Taehyung had cursed at the end, when there was no ~magical romantic kiss~ to declare Mako and Raleigh’s undying love for each other. Jimin had rolled his eyes, muffling a giggle as Taehyung shook all his limbs, akin to a toddler tantrum. “Kiss! Kiss! Arghhhh.”

“If you wanted a mushy love story you should’ve picked a Disney movie to watch instead,” Jimin had said, looking up at Taehyung from where he’s still lying in his lap. “Not all love stories need a revelation to be a love story, you know.”

“When did you become philosophical like Moni-hyung?” Taehyung had harrumphed, hitting the pause button on his laptop. “And what would you know about love?”

I know that I love you, his traitorous brain had supplied, and Jimin had spluttered violently and excused himself out of the room faster than he could say ‘fuck you very much, brain’.

“Initiating neural handshake,” a robotic voice informs them, and Jimin jolts back to his current reality. “Relay Gel circulated.” The yellow fluid obscuring his vision drains from the helmet, and Jimin can see in front of him again.

“Hey, Jimin,” Taehyung says quietly, locked into place next to Jimin. “Just in case you can’t remember… Don’t chase the rabbit. Let the memories flow on, don’t hang on to them, or you’ll get stuck. Stay in the Drift.”

Jimin gives a little nod. “Yeah. Thanks.”

Marshal Hansen’s voice booms over the earpiece. “Establishing neural handshake in 3, 2…”

Jimin swallows a gasp and he’s sucked into a vortex of blue.

A series of flashes. Taehyung, a little kid, crying. He’s lost his parents and his brother, and he’s alone, all alone. Massive monsters—kaiju—in front of his eyes, about to devour him, howling until his eardrums are sure to burst. Fear, chilling his veins, bringing him to a standstill. Jimin, little Jimin, six years old, discovering a shivering Taehyung under the bridge, smiling and reaching his hand out. Them, aged ten, giggling and causing trouble at the orphanage, a distraction from the kaiju attacks raging on. Not naughty to cause trouble, but naughty as a defense mechanism; a distraction. But Jimin’s with him. Together, always. Growing up awkward, gangly teenagers. Flash to Jimin’s own memories, the cold practise rooms, taxing mentally and physically, slaving until the break of dawn, Taehyung was always there to offer a beacon of light and positivity when even Jimin got down on himself. Scouted into the Jaeger Program. Youngest graduates. Debuting with BTS, the adrenaline coursing through Jimin’s veins as he stood on their opening stage, hand clasping Taehyung’s, warmth grounding him. The first time they’d established a neural handshake. Jimin crying under the pressure that one night when it all got too much, the cameras and scrutiny and back-to-back schedules driving Jimin to breaking point, Taehyung coming to comfort him and hug him tight in their shared room, silently, no jokes, just comfort. The neural bond so strong, transcending family, brothers, lovers, to each other’s, melding into titanium links so strong that Jimin can’t discern where he ends and Taehyung begins. Kim Taehyung. Park Jimin. Kim Taehyung, Park Jimin’s everything.

“Whoa,” Jimin chokes out, as he’s launched out of the blue and back into his heavy metal suit. His head is spinning, and he’s nauseated.

“Neural handshake strong and holding,” Marshal Hansen’s voice crackles over the earpiece. “You alright there, Park? Looking a little pale. Better not collapse on us, next time you might actually have a Category 5 kaiju to fight.”

“Oh,” Taehyung breathes, staggering. He turns to look at Jimin, gaze piercing right into Jimin, all the secrets in his brain unlocked. “Oh.

 

 

“So, let me get this straight.” Taehyung clears his throat, pressing his fingers to his temples. He’s rolling around on Jimin’s bunk, back in their shared room. “I know I saw it, but I wanna be sure, where you come from, in this alternate reality, you’re…”

“We’re,” Jimin corrects with a lopsided grin. “We’re part of a Korean idol group called BTS. Bulletproof Boy Scouts. We, uh, dance and sing onstage. And write songs, sometimes. For fans all over the world.”

“Yes, that. And also,” Taehyung waggles his eyebrows, “you want to bone me.”

“And—wait,” Jimin splutters as Taehyung cackles and slaps his thigh in mirth. “No—I—just—why is that relevant?”

“It’s not,” Taehyung says, rolling over so he’s lying on his belly, chin cupped in his hands, legs kicking behind him, “but I’m curious. You’ve kept it to yourself for almost a year. Why haven’t you confessed to him? Me. Him-me. I don’t know how I should call him. Me. Me-him?”

“Because I don’t want to ruin what we have,” Jimin says, sigh slipping out his lips. “It’s…” He shakes his head. “It’s too complicated. My feelings will pass, but reality won’t. We’re part of the same group. If a scandal broke out, if fans were to find out, if we were to break up, it would ruin everything. People aren’t as accepting when it’s no longer a fantasy.”

“I guess things really are different when the world is about to end, huh,” Taehyung says gently. “Before our first kaiju battle. You didn’t even have to say anything; I saw it all. Well. Not you, exactly. Him. You-him. Him-you. My Jimin.”

Jimin’s heart lurches in his chest. My Jimin. Hearing those words from Taehyung’s lips just makes the ache more unbearable.

“Tell me about the Jaeger program,” Jimin says, closing his eyes.

“Okay. Well, you’ve seen most of it, but…” Taehyung takes a deep breath. “The kaiju attacks started thirteen years ago. The Jaeger program was born when people realised they weren’t going to stop. Wall of Life never held a chance, the Breach was apparently sealed when Gipsy Danger went in with Marshal Pentecost and current Marshal Hansen’s son, but…” Taehyung lies back in the bunk, blowing air out of his lips. “The kaiju came back. They’re persistent, those bastards. The masters of their colonies wanted Earth for themselves, and one failed attempt wasn’t enough to deter them. New fissure, new portal, more kaijus. Atlantic Ocean the first time. Then a second one, the Indian Ocean. Marshal Hansen had to reopen the Jaeger Program, build more Jaegers, train more pilots, but they’re coming faster than we can contain them.”

“And we’re here to fight them?”

“Not just fight them. Capture them, send what we can recover of the primary and secondary brains to the processor unit for Drifting. Management, they’re coming up with the bigger plan. We just fight, for now. Disable the kaiju, save lives.”

“...Damn.” Jimin shakes his head. “And—and your Jimin was okay with all this? Tell me about him. Your Jimin.”

“Well. Where do I start? He has a cute little curved dick which I just love to have in my mouth,” Taehyung says with a mischievous glint in his eyes, cackling ferociously when Jimin sits up and whacks him hard on the arm. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Maybe. But seriously. Stroke game bomb. We’re always together. Can’t live without him. He’s the one who encouraged me to sign up for the Jaeger training. Said we had to conquer our fears or die trying. Life’s too short for regrets, especially when we could be eaten by a kaiju tomorrow.”

“Right,” Jimin says. An alarming thought flashes across his mind. “Hey, wait…” Jimin sits up straight, chills going down his spine. “If I’m here, then does that mean…”

Taehyung stiffens up next to Jimin. “Oh no.”

“Can uh,” Jimin licks his lips. “Can your Jimin dance and sing?”

“Can you do five types of martial arts and hold your breath underwater for a minute while inside a metal armour suit?” Taehyung asks. Jimin lets out a heavy sigh. “Houston, we have a problem.”

“I’m guessing my modern dance skills are not going to be of any use here,” Jimin says, laughing nervously. “Just like… Jimin’s abilities to power a Jaeger won’t do any good on an end-of-year awards stage.”

“Definitely not. Okay. Okay. Shit.” Taehyung jumps up from the bed. “You’re going to need to battle and keep our asses alive when we’re in the Jaeger. We need to… Okay, come with me. We’re going to the Kwoon Combat Room.” And before Jimin can say anything, Taehyung’s stripped down to his tank top, darting out of the room.

“This cannot be good news,” Jimin mutters, but follows Taehyung out of their room anyway, twisting the wheel crank of their door closed behind them.

No matter what Jimin says, Taehyung will get his way with Jimin.

Taehyung will always get his way with Jimin.

 

 

The Kwoon Combat Room is imposing and Jimin has never felt so small before. He’s standing between the entrance, two barriers, with hanja up and down the beams, gazing up at the wooden slats in the roof, then turns his gaze to the padded mat in the middle of the room.

“Prepare to have your ass kicked, Padawan,” Taehyung says. In the dim light, Jimin can see the outlines of Taehyung’s muscles, well defined but not bulky, and definitely more toned than that of Taehyung’s back in his universe. Taehyung adjusts the headband, tucking his black tank top into his pants and picking up a wooden stick, spinning it in his hands.

“Whoa,” Jimin breathes as he watches Taehyung perform a series of intricate spins and kicks. “Now that is awesome.”

“That’s nothing,” Taehyung says, barely breaking a sweat as he walks back up to where Jimin’s standing. He pats Jimin lovingly on the butt as he pushes Jimin into the centre of the room. “I gotta get you up to speed for next training session. Mako will kick your ass if you’re not careful,” Taehyung whispers, “but also, if you hurt Mako, Raleigh will poke your butthole into a new dimension.”

“Not if you do it first,” Jimin jibes back, and flushes a shade of tomato when Taehyung fixes him with an amused look. “Um. But I guess that can wait. Let’s… Teach me what I need to know.”

A thorough ass-whooping later, Jimin’s panting, bruised from the thirty odd different places Taehyung’s managed to whack him with the combat rod. He’s used to long hours and strenuous dance moves requiring extreme flexibility and lots of stamina but this, this is on a completely different level.

Taehyung lies down with a whump next to Jimin, also panting heavily. He turns his head to look at Jimin, grinning, hair matted to his forehead from the sweat, chest heaving as he breathes. “Not bad, imposter. You’re more flexible than I gave you credit for. You dodge well.”

“Ballet,” Jimin explains, turning to grin back at Taehyung. “I can do the splits.”

“Well I’ll bet that’s useful,” Taehyung says, waggling his eyebrows. There’s a moment of silence, before Taehyung rolls on his side, reaching up to brush a strand of hair from where it’s fallen over Jimin’s eyes. His hand trails down to graze Jimin’s cheek, before resting on Jimin’s bicep. Taehyung catches his lower lip in his teeth, fingers burning hot against Jimin’s skin as they brush down Jimin’s arm. Jimin shifts, so he’s lying on his side too, and he catches Taehyung’s eyes, dark and pupils blown wide. Taehyung darts his tongue out to wet his lips, and he slides closer to Jimin. “Can I?”

“Yeah,” Jimin breathes, and Taehyung’s lips twitch into a smile. It’s not like he hasn’t wanted this since forever. “Yeah, just—”

Jimin’s words are cut off by Taehyung clambering on top of Jimin, pressing his lips to Jimin’s, and the tingling jolt it sends through Jimin’s body is close to indescribable, intoxicating and electrifying. In the back of Jimin’s mind, he knows that this isn’t the real deal, that this isn’t how it’s meant to go, this isn’t his Taehyung, but then Taehyung moans against his lips, parting them to slip his tongue into Jimin’s mouth, and his brain short-circuits, and Jimin’s moaning against Taehyung’s lips, pushing his body up against Taehyung’s, hips stuttering as he arches his back for more leverage.

“Fuck,” Jimin chokes out, as Taehyung does something completely illegal with his tongue. Jimin’s got his hands on Taehyung’s waist now, tugging Taehyung’s tank top up, fingers skimming over the bare skin of Taehyung’s back, and Taehyung’s pinned Jimin down, fingers of his left hand gripping tight around Jimin’s arm. His other hand travels down, resting on Jimin’s hip, and Jimin grinds up, pressing his crotch against Taehyung’s, in a way he knows would have thousands of fangirls bleeding out of their noses if they were ever to witness this series of events. “Taehyung, just—”

“Kim? Park?”

Taehyung scrambles off Jimin in a flash, grabbing the wooden rod which had been thrown away to the side. Jimin barely has time to register the cold air where Taehyung had been before a woman walks into the room, arms crossed. Jimin sits up, wiping at his lips, and Taehyung clears his throat. “Um. Present, Sergeant Mori.”

Sergeant Mori—Mako—fixes her gaze at Jimin, who’s still panting, before her eyes dart back to Taehyung. “Sparring?” Mako quirks an eyebrow, the corner of her lip lifting. “You look pretty flushed for just some routine sparring.”

“Not routine, Sergeant,” Taehyung answers, tidying his hair. “New, uh, close-quarters hand-to-hand combat. Krav—Krav Maga elements.”

“If you say so,” Mako says in her quiet voice, still smirking. “Just wanted to let you two know, Marshal Hansen’s called a meeting this evening. Plans for sealing the Breaches have been finalised. We launch tomorrow morning.”

 

 

“Tomorrow morning.”

Marshal Hansen had been straightforward when explaining the plan. The nuclear team had been busy making similar bombs to what was in the heart of Striker Eureka when they detonated themselves, and they’d just been completed. Two major and three minor Jaeger units were to be sent to collapse the breaches in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, in order to seal the current kaijus coming through the Breach, and buy the analytics team enough time to analyse the kaiju brains to come up with a way to exterminate them for good.

“It’ll be okay. We just need to defeat the kaijus patrolling the Atlantic Breach and drop the bomb into the fissure. It’ll collapse the bridge between us and the kaijus and we’ll be okay for a while, until the next fissure emerges. We’ll have backup with us. It’ll be okay.”

Even though Taehyung should be the one freaking out, stuck with a close to incompetent partner, about to be sent into the battlefield, here he is comforting Jimin. Always selfless, always there when others need help. It seems to be a trait that’s common in both worlds. Jimin offers a weak grin, lying back into his bunk. Taehyung lies down next to him, interlacing his fingers with Jimin’s.

“Hey, it’ll be okay. Really. Just follow my lead.”

“I know, Taetae. I will.”

 

 

The shrill blaring in Jimin’s ears rouses him and sends his heart into overdrive. His eyes fly open, and he comes face to face with Taehyung, whose expression is equally panicked.

“Movement in the Breach,” Taehyung whispers, as he stares at the panel in their room, now red and flashing. Jimin can feel Taehyung’s heart thumping against his chest, where Taehyung had been pressed up against him while they were asleep. “They’re here. Earlier than anticipated.”

“Pilots,” Marshal Hansen’s voice crackles over the intercom. “Movement in the Breach. Proceed as planned. Jaeger pilots to the Drivesuit Room, stat. We’re dropping the bomb on their kaiju asses.”

Taehyung’s face is grim as he pulls away from Jimin and chucks on his shirt. “Jiminnie,” he says, hand resting on Jimin’s chest, “we’re up.”

“Oh,” Jimin croaks out. He hasn’t even had time to get his head around things here. Hasn’t even had time to properly finish off what he and Taehyung had started just the day before. Hasn’t had time to properly consider his own heart, own feelings, and now he’s being thrust into battle. “Oh.”

Jimin moves in a dreamlike state, following Taehyung to the Drivesuit Room, gearing up and locking into place in the Conn-Pod, before his mind catches up with his body. There’s complete silence as they’re sucked into the vortex of the Drift, Taehyung’s every thought flooding through Jimin’s body, before he’s spat back out from the blue.

“Neural handshake established,” Marshal Hansen barks. “Let’s do it boys, kick some kaiju ass out there!”

The thump of the Jaeger reverberates in Jimin’s chest cavity as he and Taehyung march out, step by step, together, moving as one entity. Jimin can feel that Taehyung wants to say something, can hear and feel the fluctuations in his brain waves as they march further out into the black ocean, but the images never stabilise enough for Jimin to get a clear picture.

“Hey,” Jimin croaks out, when they’re deep enough into the ocean that they can see the kaiju bleeping on the screen in front of them. “Hey, what are we?”

Taehyung turns his head towards Jimin. He smiles, the curve of his lips hopeful, yet trembling at the edges. “You’re not my Jimin. But you feel the same. Even the way you talk and pick at your vegetables. So I’ll treat you as mine, because that’s what we need.”

Jimin shivers, focusing his attention back to the front. He feels the same for Taehyung. This Taehyung, even different, is the same. “Thanks, Taehyung.”

Taehyung raises his leg, and Jimin raises his leg simultaneously, and at that moment, it doesn’t matter that they’re from two universes. They move in sync with each other. Breathe in. Breathe out. Jimin’s one with Taehyung, and Taehyung’s one with him. It’s right, and wrong, because it’s Taehyung, but it’s not his Taehyung. But the strangeness and familiarity makes it work better; the electric spark here.

The surface of the water in front of them breaks.

“Fuck,” Taehyung spits out, whipping his head to the front and halting his step. Jimin stalls, eyes focusing on the gigantic beast in front of his eyes. Taehyung raises his arm, Jimin’s arm following, and the plasma cannon charges halfway, before unloading three shots from the clip. “Kaiju!”

A blinding flash of light blasts from their left side, and Jimin almost raises his arm in reaction before realising the unnecessity. Another Jaeger comes into view, and Jimin vaguely recalls the two women operating the Jaeger from the rushed meeting in the Drivesuit Room. Mark-4, apparently. Special tornado blade attack.

“Do not engage. You have the nuclear detonator,” Marshal Hansen’s voice sounds over the earpieces. “Prisma Skylar will disable the kaiju. Continue on to your end goal.”

The kaiju in front of them roars, bloodcurdling, and lunges—at which point Taehyung freezes, only barely reacting in time to avoid the thrashing of the kaiju’s limb.

“Cat 6…” Taehyung whispers, when Jimin takes his arms away from shielding his head. “Marshal! Kaiju is Category 6, sir!”

“Impossible…” the Marshal’s voice crackles over the system. “Back away! Encanto, do you hear me?”

“Oh,” Jimin breathes, ignoring the Marshal as his eyes focus on the beast afront. Oh. What he’d thought had been the body was…

The kaiju roars, ear-splitting, and rises out of the water. It’s ‘body’ emerges from the ocean, to reveal a second body, three times the width, making the former body look like a simple head or limb.

“Plasma cannon!” Taehyung chokes out, raising his left arm. Jimin’s left arm locks in place alongside Taehyung’s, and he can feel the phantom heat on the tip of his fingers. “Fire!”

“I said do not engage!” Marshal Hansen’s voice roars over the earpiece, but Jimin is no longer paying attention. There kaiju hasn’t been the least affected by the plasma cannon blast, even at full strength. Taehyung empties two more rounds into the kaiju’s belly, to no avail.

Then the kaiju raises one tentacle-like limb and slams right into the Conn-Pod.

“Taehyung,” Jimin chokes out, as he’s thrown to the side. There’s a boomerang of light, and the kaiju thrashes in the water, but one limb still reaches out to whack Encanto Canis on the side, sending a whole body jolt through the Conn-Pod piece. “Taehyung, we—we can’t fight this.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says back to Jimin, stabbing several buttons on the control and stretching his shoulder. “Yeah, we can’t. But we can't go.”

"Why not?" Jimin's voice is coming out high and choked now. He's not even trying to hide his panic at this stage. "Taehyung, you'll get hurt."

“We have…” Taehyung grits his teeth as another bone-shuddering impact comes from the side of the Conn-Pod. “We have nowhere to retreat to. We need the… We need to set the nuclear detonator at the target. It's our mission. As Jaeger pilots.”

Before Jimin can form a coherent response, the kaiju gives off an unearthly roar, stabbing its fingers directly into the Conn-Pod.

There’s an indescribable shock of pain, mourning, and grief as Taehyung screams next to Jimin, what used to be his right arm a bloody stub from where the Category 6 kaiju has dismembered him.

“Retreat!” Marshal Hansen commands, and this time around, Taehyung is obedient enough to listen to the Marshal’s commands to back away, the pain muddling Jimin’s mind as well as Taehyung’s own. Jimin can only watch on in horror as the kaiju attacks Prisma, metallic screeching and the sound of crunching pounding into Jimin’s ears. There’s another impact from the back, and Jimin lets out a breath he’d been holding as he’s thrown forward, sparks flying in the Conn-Pod. The screen of the control pad fuzzes as they plunge headfirst into the water, saltwater rushing into all the consoles.

“Taehyung!” Jimin screams, as a flash of pain stabs right into his right arm. Taehyung’s injured, and he hasn’t so much as let out a whimper. “Taehyung, your arm—”

“I’ll be right,” Taehyung croaks out, even as his blood is spurting out the wound, and he’s holding it closed with his left hand. There’s a final bloodcurdling screech as the kaiju raises Prisma Skylar into the sky, spinning the Jaeger around above its head. Fuck. They’re going to die. This is how they’re going to go, six feet underwater inside the Conn-Pod of a Jaeger.

“You’re in my head, Jiminnie,” Taehyung whispers. “Don’t think like that. We’ll make it out.” Through the helmet, Taehyung looks pale, shaking, lips blue and eyes bloodshot. “The pods.”

And at this moment, on the brink of losing everything, Jimin can’t move. This Taehyung knows. This Taehyung’s seen everything, his memories, his pain, the secrets he’s never told anyone.

Jimin meets Taehyung’s gaze, and there are no words needed. They don’t need words to know, to understand, because they have a perfect connection.

But even if it’s just a dream, Jimin still has to say it out loud for it to be real.

“I love—”

 

---

 

“Patient has a liver problem. Hepatic encephalopathy would explain the symptoms.”

Jimin blinks, choking on the breath of air he was about to take in, almost jumping out of his seat. This isn’t the inside of Conn-Pod of the Jaeger. They’re not about to made into kaiju mash by a massive Category 6. He’s not inside Encanto Canis, and Taehyung—

Is staring at him from across the glass table, dressed head to toe in a doctor’s white gown.

Jimin rubs his eyes. “T-Taehyung?”

Taehyung shoots Jimin a puzzled look before snapping his fingers and pointing to the front, where a grouchy-looking greying man is sitting. “Normal pressure hydrocephalus!”

“Oh, come on,” the grouchy man says with a roll of his eyes. “Does anybody read the patient logs here? Patient has low opening pressure on his L.P. Can’t be hepatic encephalopathy or normal pressure hydrocephalus.”

Jimin looks around. There are five people apart from him sitting at the table, one blond man, a balding guy with a massive nose, a woman with her brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, the grouchy man, and Taehyung.

“Okay, so he’s hypokalemic. Could indicate a problem with his heart, which—”

“EKG was normal,” grouchy guy says, tapping his cane rhythmically on the carpet. “Anything else?”

Jimin squints. He looks familiar. Like… Like he’s from one of those medical dramas Taehyung had been addicted to two summers ago, when he’d decided the best way to study for the biology unit he’d mistakenly chosen when registering for cyber university was to marathon American dramas with even the slightest relation to biology. Watching things in English would teach him English too. Two birds with one stone, he’d said.

“Could I, uh,” Jimin wets his lips. “Could I go to the bathroom?”

“Park,” the man says. Everyone at the table turns to stare at him. “Park, I thought you were just dumb, but apparently you’re incontinent too. What do you think our patient has?”

“Um,” Jimin stutters, voice going up several octaves. The only medical knowledge he has is how to treat a cut with antiseptic, how to change the bandages on a fractured arm, and how to ice pulled muscles, all from his dancing days. “Uh, um, l-leprosy?”

There’s a beat of silence. “You idiot,” the man says.

“Could be thyrotoxic paralysis,” the blond man supplies.

The head guy nods. “Start him on steroids, PTU, and beta blockers. And Park?”

“Y-Yes?”

“Go do something about that brain damage of yours. Don’t want it to infect the team.”

 

 

“What’s up with you?” Taehyung asks, washing his hands with antibacterial soap. Jimin’s slumped next to him, heart thumping out of his chest. They’ve just administered the medication to their sick patient—well, more like the rest of the team administered it while Jimin stood there gaping like a goldfish—and he’s in the sanitation room with Taehyung. “You can usually deal with House and his mind games. What happened?”

Hospital. He’s in a hospital. He’s been transported from a world of kaijus and Jaegers to a hospital, where he’s apparently a doctor on one of the world’s best and brightest medical teams. Great.

“I, um,” Jimin breathes weakly. Taehyung’s examining him with those inquisitive puppy eyes, chewing at his lower lip in worry. “I’m just...tired?”

“And the sky is blue, and the grass is green,” Taehyung says, rolling his eyes. “We’re on the diagnostics team. House’s diagnostics team. We’re always tired. Taub’s got no time for his babies, Chase is stressed enough to be considering celibacy, and Adams is close to stabbing House in the liver with a bone marrow drill. None of us get a full night’s sleep without being paged into the ward on some whimsical and intermittently life-saving revelation House has. You’re not just tired. What is it?”

Jimin looks into Taehyung’s eyes. To heck with it. It’s just a dream anyway.

“I’m actually from an alternate reality where you and I are members of a popular Korean idol group?”

Taehyung goes still for a moment, processing, before pressing a hand to Jimin’s forehead. “No sign of fever. How many shrooms did you take last night?”

“I’m not high, Taehyung, I’m just telling the truth.”

“Mhm,” Taehyung says, pressing fingers to Jimin’s neck to feel for his pulse. He pulls up Jimin’s eyelids one at a time, inspecting Jimin’s eyes. “I know you’re still trying to get back at me for replacing the meat of the fried rice in your fridge with Ddosuni’s canned dog food—can’t believe you fell for that—but do I need to admit you to the psych ward?”

“Haha,” Jimin laughs, not really laughing. “Might be a good idea before I kill one of our patients.”

 

 

Taehyung does not take Jimin to the psych ward. Taehyung lugs Jimin out of the doors of the hospital into a cab, back to a nondescript grey apartment five minutes downtown—apparently, this is Jimin’s apartment.

“Okay,” Taehyung says, rubbing his hands together as he unloads several packets of IV fluid, needles, and other sharp and frightening looking medical contraptions onto the couch. “Let’s figure out what the hell is going on.”

Jimin bites his lips and stays quiet as he lets Taehyung hook him up to a heart monitor and measure his blood pressure. His eyes wander around the room in the silence. There’s an array of dog toys on the floor, and the interior is plain but cozy, the way Jimin likes it. Jimin stares at the photos on the wall. In more than half of them, Taehyung’s got his arm around Jimin, and they’re both flashing huge smiles. Alaska. Canada. A picture in front of the Opera House in Australia. Taehyung pretending to carry the Taj Mahal on his palm.

“Do we…” Jimin clears his throat as his voice comes out husky. “The photos. Did we travel around the world together?”

Taehyung stops what he’s doing, tilting his head to look at Jimin with a pensive look. “You wanted to do it before you were thirty. We took a couple of months off together and went backpacking. Do you—do you remember?”

“No, it just...” Jimin grins. He’s talked about this with Taehyung before, in between stabbing the controls of their game consoles back at the dorm. They all want to travel, without it being on tour or for fansigns or concerts, and Jimin had resolutely said to Taehyung that he’d do a world tour before thirty. Taehyung had jumped on him with a bone-crushing backhug and made Jimin promise he’d take Taehyung along. Some things don’t change, even across worlds. “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

“And we have done it,” Taehyung says quietly. He takes the stethoscope out of his ears. “Okey dokey, I’m going to call the rest of the team, have an impromptu DDx.”

“Where’s—” Jimin starts as Taehyung takes his mobile out and dials a number. “Where’s Ddosuni?”

Taehyung’s mouth falls open momentarily before he grins widely, pressing the phone to his ear. “Of course you’d remember your pup. He’s on a playdate with my Soonshimmie! They’re at my grandma’s for the week. Oh, Chase, you there?” The line connects, and Taehyung presses the speaker button, setting the phone on the coffee table. “You got Taub and Adams there with you?”

“Sure do,” a man’s voice sounds over the phone. “We’re in the labs doing some bloodwork. How’s Park? You ran out with him before we could ask. What’s the go with him?”

“I can’t figure it out. Long-term amnesia, hallucinations, elevated heart rate, but everything else seems fine. He remembers me, and apparently his dog, but none of you, and…” Taehyung looks at Jimin with a quirked eyebrow, “has also forgotten everything we learnt in med school and beyond.”

There’s a crackle over the phone. “Lupus?” Chase suggests.

“Apparently you’ve also forgotten everything we learnt in med school,” another man—Taub—supplies dryly. “Do you listen to House at all? It’s never Lupus.”

“I’m obviously kidding,” Chase says, as Taehyung turns to the sofa and starts preparing some bags of solution. “Could be a concussion, stroke, tumours, encephalitis, dissociative amnesia… Viral damage to the temporal lobes and thalamus works too.”

“Park, did you go out clubbing again over the weekend? One of the girls you picked up might’ve slipped you something, or given you an STI,” a woman says.

“He was with me all weekend,” Taehyung says, shaking his head and looking into Jimin’s eyes. Jimin offers a shaky smile. “And no, before you say anything, Adams, we did not go clubbing, and I did not give him an STI. And I know what’s coming next so also, no, we did not engage in any kinds of extreme sports which may result in concussions or brain injuries. Unless you count petting dogs extreme sports.”

“Did you do a CT scan?” Taub supplies, voice dry. “First thing you do when you suspect neural abnormalities, Kim.”

“I couldn’t book the room without House getting suspicious,” Taehyung says helplessly. “You know what he’s like.”

“Yeah, like he’s not already suspicious after Park suggested leprosy as a diagnosis,” Chase says. “Look, just stick him on a IV for now and we’ll sort the room out for you. We should be able to get something for tomorrow.”

“Unless our patient turns out not to have thyrotoxic paralysis in which case, we’ll all be in House’s office being verbally berated,” Adams tacks on.

“Kim?” Taub adds, when there’s a long silence. “Kim, I know you’re worried about your best friend, but Park’ll be fine. He’s part of our team, too, and we’ll figure it out. We gotta get back to the bloodwork now so you just take care of Park and we’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thanks, team,” Taehyung says quietly, “I’ll let you know if there are any changes.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Jimin says as Taehyung hangs up and starts preparing the needle of the IV. “Taehyung, stop worrying, I’m fine, I told you.”

“I swear you’re still trying to get me back for the dog food prank,” Taehyung mumbles as he takes Jimin’s arm into his hands and clenches Jimin’s fist, feeling his arm for the vein. “Or for… Hey, Jiminnie, what do you remember about me? What’s uh, who am I to you?”

“You’re, um,” Jimin winces as the needle slides in his arm. “You’re my best friend? You, uh,” images of Taehyung, his Taehyung, fill Jimin’s mind. “You love animals, and little kids, especially your nephews. You’re a pig when it comes to food. We probably snuck out of our dorm—uh, med school dorms at the break of dawn to eat chicken and go to the PC room.”

Taehyung smiles, but his eyes look a little sad. “Glad to know you still haven’t forgotten the basics, at least,” he says, adjusting the dial of the IV. “And that one time we did sneak out of the dorms, we got caught by campus security.”

Jimin grins. “We must’ve been the rowdiest ones on our floor.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes. “That hasn’t changed. Anyway, we’ll get you into the CT room tomorrow. But we’ll need to go into the hospital for work soon. We can’t let House find out you’ve completely lost your memory or he’ll kick you off the team. Just follow my lead and don’t talk.”

 

 

Both Taehyung and Jimin’s pagers beep as they’re on the way back to the hospital. They rush into the patient’s room on the fifth floor, only to see him practically coughing himself to death and vomiting up blood.

“Oh, shit,” Jimin breathes, a little squeamish. He averts his gaze as the team rushes around treating the patient, Taehyung snapping on a pair of latex gloves to administer a relaxant and shove a tube down the guy’s throat. “Oh my god.”

Jimin clings to Taehyung’s arm as they march to House’s glass office, gripping Taehyung tightly, as Taehyung pulls Jimin close to him by the waist, patting him to calm him down.

“It’s not thyrotoxic paralysis,” House singsongs as they walk in and sit down at the conference table. “Now, children, why is our patient hacking up his own lungs and drowning in his own blood?”

“He—he inhaled an extra-large dose of vaporised hydrofluoric acid from a science experiment gone wrong, burned his lungs, which is why he coughed up blood,” Adams says, tapping her pen against her clipboard.

“If only burnt lungs explained the passing out and paralysis.” House’s voice is laden with sarcasm, and he opens a little orange bottle to tap out two pills, swallowing them dry. “Next!”

There’s a silence as House peruses them all, before his line of vision lands on Jimin. “Park, cat got your tongue?”

“Um,” Jimin stutters, fumbling and dropping his pen on the floor. He mumbles an apology and reaches to get it. “Er, I—”

“Patient smacked his head against the wall,” Taehyung says. Jimin looks at him, and Taehyung smiles comfortingly at Jimin, reaching for Jimin’s hand under the table to calm him. “If that caused swelling in his brain stem, it could explain the loss of consciousness and eventual paralysis. And chemical burn explains the blood in the lungs. So chemical burn still fits.”

“Good. How do we treat chemical burns inside the lung?”

“Maybe we could use a bronchoalveolar lavage to wash them out with water?” Adams suggests.

“Sorry. Should’ve clarified. How do we treat chemical burns inside the lung without killing the patient?”

“We could try pressure control ventilation and treat with corticosteroids,” Chase offers.

“Park? Did the cat viciously attack your mouth and chew off your tongue to feed to her young leaving you mute? Speak up!”

Taehyung exchanges a look with Jimin before jumping in. “Or, um, silver sulfadiazine works well on chemical burns—”

“Not you, Kim, I asked Park. I know you two got a little,” House curls the fingers of one hand and sticks his index finger into the gap, making mock moaning sounds, “rub-a-dub-dub going on, but don’t let your teeny tiny boners and rampantly gay sex lives ruin a diagnosis. Not that Park can give you a blowjob any longer, considering he’s without a tongue.”

“We didn’t—” Taehyung blurts out, at the same time that Chase facepalms, and Jimin’s ears go red, blush creeping up his face. “Have sex.”

“Right,” House says, “and I’m not using the elephant soft toy Wilson got from one of his sappy dying cancer patients to jerk off to Disney Hotties: Featuring Booty and the Beast, Sinderella, and Grinding Nemo every night.” Jimin blinks several times. “Oh, did you not know that? Now you know not to touch Wilson’s stuffed toys. For future reference.”

“Aerosolised heparin,” Taub says after an awkward silence, clearing his throat. Chase is muffling a giggle into his closed fist like a 5-year-old, and Adams is doing a stellar job of pretending nobody else in the room exists and she is in a place of Zen.

“Me likey. Treat him with aerosolised heparin.” House turns to look directly at Jimin. “Park, you do the honours.”

 

 

“This is, uh, heparin, it’ll…”

“Soothe your airways and clear the chemical burns from the hydrofluoric acid you inhaled,” Taehyung says, finishing off Jimin’s sentence for him. The patient looks at the two of them, bleary-eyed, breaths rasping on the respirator, and gives a slight nod. “We’ll inject it now.”

The patient calms and falls into a gentle sleep after the medication takes effect, and Taehyung grabs Jimin’s arm as they’re walking out of the room.

“Hey, Jimin-ah,” Taehyung says, and when Jimin turns to face Taehyung, his face is completely serious, all of the playfulness gone. “Jimin-ah, if this is still a joke, if this is because of—” Taehyung closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “Because of what happened last weekend, it’s not funny anymore.”

Jimin stops in his tracks, inspecting Taehyung’s face. His lips are downturned, and his eyes are shining, like he’s tearing up. Jimin’s heart aches. He never meant to make Taehyung sad like this, never wants to be the reason that Taehyung is upset. “I’m sorry,” Jimin mutters, reaching for Taehyung’s hand. “I promise I’m not pulling any pranks here. What happened last weekend?”

“You really don’t remember, do you?” Taehyung says with a gentle laugh. “I thought that maybe if it wasn’t for the dog food trick, this entire thing was an elaborate excuse to get out of acknowledging—” Taehyung motions between himself and Jimin, and he licks at dry lips. “Us.”

Jimin balks. The cogs in his head turn. “Did we…” Jimin starts, hesitant. Taehyung’s looking at the floor, ears a telltale red. “What House said before. Did we actually… You know. Sleep together?”

“We...” Taehyung looks around him to make sure there’s no one watching them with hawk eyes before opening the door to an empty patient room and dragging Jimin inside, locking the door behind them.

And before Jimin can get a word in, Taehyung’s pushing him against the closed door, hands gripping Jimin’s shoulders and pinning him towards the cold metal surface, and Taehyung’s lips are on his, warm and insistent. Jimin freezes for a split second before a choked moan comes out of his own voicebox inadvertently, as Taehyung parts his lips to swipe at Jimin’s with his tongue. Jimin relaxes into the kiss, bringing his arms up to hold Taehyung, pull Taehyung closer to him, the sound of his heart hammering in his ears just as loud as the first time this had happened in the Kwoon Combat Room, and he groans as he parts his own lips and invites Taehyung in, arching up off the metal to meld their bodies closer together. It feels like he’s being sucked into a vortex yet again, a vortex that exists only of Taehyung and him, and his chest constricts like an iron hand is squeezing his lungs.

“Oh,” Jimin breathes, heart hammering thunderously in his chest as Taehyung pulls away. Taehyung looks into Jimin’s eyes, licking his lips like he always does when he’s nervous, and Jimin lets out another shuddering breath. “Oh.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says back, voice low and husky, his gaze burning and sending electric shivers across Jimin’s skin. Taehyung releases Jimin’s shoulders, bringing his hands down to the sides of Jimin’s arms, then places them on Jimin’s hips and brings him in closer in a gesture too intimate for Jimin’s brain to process right now. “I guess that’s my answer.”

“And I don’t remember it,” Jimin whispers, realisation dawning on him. He puts his hands around Taehyung’s hands on his hips and interlaces their fingers. “You thought I was—I made the memory loss up so I could pretend it never happened. That we didn’t have sex.”

“I’m sorry, I thought—” Taehyung bites his lip and raises a hand to cup Jimin’s face. “Jimin-ah, you’re my best friend,” Taehyung continues, “and I don’t want that to change. You’re my best friend, my best bro, and—and when neither of us said anything about it the morning after I thought you wanted to drop it. You can let me know if us sleeping together crossed the line or made it uncomfortable for you. But don’t pretend to forget about it. We can go back to what we were before. I don’t want to lose you.”

“No, I…” Jimin shakes his head vehemently. His body is buzzing with a mix of euphoria and giddy tension. “No, Taehyung, I feel the same way. I would never—never pretend to forget about it so I could avoid it.”

There’s a long pause as Taehyung studies Jimin closely. Jimin looks back with the same intensity, finds his line of vision trailing from Taehyung’s eyes to his pink lips, feels his entire body flush hot and cold.

Taehyung must sense it, sense the buzzing tension in the air, because he’s leaning in again, slower this time, never breaking his gaze as he meets Jimin’s lips with his, slow and sensuous, moaning this time as he slides his hands down Jimin’s body and presses his thigh against Jimin’s crotch.

“Do you want to?” Taehyung breathes out as Jimin lets out a choked moan, throwing his head back so hard he hits it on the metal of the door. Jimin’s never felt this needy before, this desperate, and he can only manage a nod before Taehyung’s back on his lips again, deepening the kiss as he fumbles with the buckle of Jimin’s belt. Jimin can feel himself straining in his pants already, half-hard from just making out with Taehyung, and he lets out a little sob when Taehyung succeeds in sliding the belt off with an ‘aha!’ and inching Jimin’s pants down past his hips and thighs.

“Holy shit,” Jimin chokes out, as Taehyung slides off his medical robe and gets down on his knees. The sight is unbelievable, Taehyung looking up at Jimin with twinkling eyes as he rubs his palm against Jimin’s growing erection, still constrained by the fabric of his underwear, and Jimin practically keens as he bucks up into Taehyung’s touch. “Holy shit Tae-Taehyung—”

“Shh,” Taehyung says, and the next second his mouth is hot on Jimin’s cock through the fabric, and Jimin swears his brain is going to short circuit. “Let me do this, Jiminnie, I wanna—wanna make you feel good.”

Taehyung hums against Jimin’s cock, pressing his cheek to it and hugging Jimin tight to him before he hooks his thumbs behind the elastic band of Jimin’s underwear and shimmies it off, Jimin’s hard cock freeing itself and standing erect as Taehyung drops the underwear to Jimin’s ankles.

Taehyung grins up at Jimin as he presses a kiss to the tip of Jimin’s cock, and Jimin weaves his fingers through Taehyung’s hair and clenches. “Your cock is so cute. Just like you.”

“Haha,” Jimin laughs weakly, fists clenching harder, and Taehyung places one more kiss on the side, gently, lovingly, before taking Jimin’s entire length into his mouth in one go, whole, and Jimin practically yells out all the curses that flash in his mind, because it feels so good, so right, it’s Taehyung deepthroating him, Taehyung flicking his tongue kittenishly across the tip of Jimin’s cock, collecting the pre-come and savouring it like it’s his favourite dish.

Taehyung, his best friend, the one he shares everything with, the one who knows Jimin better than he knows himself, there on his knees in front of Jimin giving him the best blowjob he’s ever had in his entire life.

Jimin’s close, so close, the sudden surge of affection running through him making tears prickle at the corner of his eyes. He bends down, grabs Taehyung by the arms, and hauls him up from the floor, drawing him close and kissing Taehyung again. Taehyung seems surprised by the ministrations but doesn’t complain as he melts into Jimin’s kiss, only breaking apart when they both need air.

“You don’t,” Taehyung manages to say as they’re catching their breathe. “You don’t want me to suck you off?”

“I do! I just…” Jimin blushes as Taehyung pecks him again and gets back on his knees. “I just—I just wanted to kiss you. Suddenly.”

Taehyung grins and gives Jimin’s lower body a gentle hug before curling his fingers around Jimin’s cock and pumping twice, putting his plump, pink lips back on the tip, swallowing Jimin down whole again.

And this time, it doesn’t take much, Taehyung’s fingers fluttering against Jimin’s thigh, the little moans Taehyung makes when Jimin’s cock hits the back of his throat, Taehyung looking so beautiful and wrecked, mouth stretched around Jimin’s cock, that Jimin only manages to choke out a garbled warning and tighten his grip in Taehyung’s hair again before he comes, right into Taehyung’s mouth, body shuddering several times as he rides the waves of his orgasm. Jimin pants as the stars in his vision clear and he sees Taehyung there, looking proud as he wipes the corners of his mouth where Jimin’s come is trickling down.

Taehyung stands up, knees wobbly, and he collapses into Jimin’s embrace. They kiss again, messy, and Jimin can taste himself in Taehyung’s mouth, tangy and bitter, can smell the musk of Taehyung’s cologne and sweat, a scent that’s so homely and familiar.

It’s only when Taehyung whines and presses flush against Jimin that Jimin feels Taehyung’s hard-on rubbing against his thigh and remembers that Taehyung hasn’t had his release yet.

“Taehyungie, let me,” Jimin murmurs as he slides his hand in between them, reaching into Taehyung’s pants to palm at Taehyung’s erection. “Taehyungie, you’re still so hard. Let me—let me suck you off too.”

A persistent, high-pitched beeping sounds from the gowns discarded on the floor just as those words leave Jimin’s mouth, and Taehyung groans, peeling himself away from Jimin to rifle through the coats, pulling out their pagers.

“Shit,” Taehyung says as he reads the message, running his hand through his hair. “We’re gonna have to take a raincheck. Patient’s just gone into psychosis.”

 

 

“What the fuck happened here?” Taub is shouting as Jimin and Taehyung rush into the patient’s room. A plastic food tray smashes into the ground, the patient screaming incoherently as Chase and Adams are trying to incapacitate the man and get him back into the bed. “Adams?”

“We thought House was wrong,” Adams shouts back, “we thought corticosteroids were the right treatment so we gave him that on top of the heparin. We didn’t know he would have a psychotic break!”

“Park, help me get him down to the bed!” Chase shouts as he grapples with the man, breath getting knocked out of him as he’s slammed against a window. Jimin gapes, before running forwards to take the man’s other arm, pulling him away from Chase.

“Get away from me!” the man screams, thrashing out, and one of his hands slams right into Jimin’s face as he’s trying to escape. Jimin holds his cheek, wincing, as the patient stumbles back into a surgical cart and the trays clang onto the floor, metal harsh against Jimin’s ears.

“Code grey!” Taehyung shouts into the corridor, running towards Jimin to help him get up. “Get haloperidol!”

“You’re tryna kill me!” the man continues roaring, ripping out all his IVs, as Taub prepares a needle of sedative in the back with shaking hands. “You—You’re gonna shoot me—”

“You’re in a hospital, sir, calm down,” Chase tries to reason, but the man will have none of it, stumbling into the cart and grabbing the first thing he can get his hands on.

Two things happen at once.

Taehyung yells and pulls Jimin up, trying to get him to a corner so Jimin’s safe.

Jimin spins around, trying to shield Taehyung, and it’s at that moment the man charges towards them, hands raised.

There’s a stabbing pain in Jimin’s chest, and for a moment, the entire world is still.

“Oh my god,” Adams is whispering as the man backs away from Jimin. Taub sticks the needle into the man’s neck, injecting the tranquiliser, and the man collapses in a pile on the ground next to Jimin. Adams’ hands are covering her mouth. “Oh my god.”

There’s a scalpel sticking out of Jimin’s chest. There’s a scalpel in Jimin’s chest.

“He’s been stabbed…” Taehyung breathes. “He’s—”

Jimin takes a step forward, stumbles towards the bed, and the scalpel falls out, blood dripping from his chest in a small leak before it splutters out in a mist, gushing out in time with his heartbeat.

“Jimin, don’t move,” Taehyung yells, lunging towards Jimin. His hands are trembling as he presses them to Jimin’s chest, fingers delving into the wound to find where the puncture is. “Shit. Shit!”

“Which artery is it?” Chase asks.

“It’s not an artery,” Taehyung’s saying, voice shaking. Chase looks at him, puzzled. Taehyung's hyperventilating. “It’s his heart.”

It’s his heart.

He’s been stabbed in the heart, and he might die. Three words flash in front of Jimin’s eyes, and his lips fall open, vocal cords constricting.

He’s got to say it now, before it’s too late.

“Taehyung,” Jimin gurgles, dropping to his knees. He can feel his vision going blurry, blackness in the edges.

“Don’t talk!” Taehyung’s sobbing, shaking his head. “Shit, Jimin, don’t talk, don’t move, we’ll get you into surgery, okay? Just… Stay with me."

Jimin coughs weakly. “No, Taehyung, I love—I love—”

The air punches out of Jimin’s lungs, and Jimin collapses to the ground, vision going blurry.

“Jimin!” Taehyung yells, hands still pressed to Jimin’s wound. Hot tears are running down Taehyung’s face, and Jimin can feel them, just barely, drip on his skin. “Fuck, prep the O.R, get a gurney, start an IV…”

 

---

 

There’s a stabbing pain in Jimin’s chest when he comes to.

Jimin winces as he sits up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, but stops mid-motion and doubles over when the pain migrates to jab sharply in his nether regions.

Oh, Jimin notes, as he’s gingerly cradling his testicles. This isn’t the hospital. This is a… A bedroom, looking like it belongs to a teenage boy.

“Jiminnie!” Taehyung shouts, bounding rudely into the room, and Jimin practically loses a lung coughing in surprise. “Are you okay? I’m sorry about, uh, spiking the ball at your…” Taehyung motions to Jimin’s crotch, “balls.”

Jimin levels a bewildered gaze at Taehyung. Now that he’s more awake, he’s almost certain that he’s in an entirely new world—what he and Taehyung are this time round, he’s both excited and terrified to find out.

Taehyung takes his silence as sulking and splutters. “It was an accident! Noya’s ass was in the way and I lost balance. You forgive me, right? Of course you do. Okay, now that you’ve forgiven me, come on, let’s go, it’s morning practise!”

“Let me guess,” Jimin says tiredly, rubbing the back of his neck. Now he’s part of that dumb volleyball anime that he’s seen Jeongguk and Taehyung watching on Jeongguk’s phone in their spare time in the dressing rooms. Jimin would join, wants to press up against Taehyung and watch together with him, except Jimin has no interest in sports animes and if he ever did that, Jeongguk would just smirk and give him that Knowing Look, the one that says ‘I know what you’ve been doing at night with your right hand’. “We’re high school volleyball players this time.”

“This time?” Taehyung asks, cocking his head to one side. “Nevermind, Jiminnie, get your butt out of bed, we’re going to be late and if we’re late we can’t kick Oikawa in the ass!”

Jimin shakes his head incredulously. “What is with you obsession with asses?”

“I dunno,” Taehyung says, shrugging as he tugs on Jimin’s sleeve. “Maybe coz you’ve got a nice one?” Before Jimin can respond, Taehyung’s upending his drawer, pulling out an orange and black volleyball uniform and throwing it at Jimin’s face. When Jimin doesn’t move, Taehyung sighs and jumps on Jimin’s bed, grabbing Jimin’s t-shirt and forcibly pulling it over his head. Jimin yelps and tries to bat Taehyung’s hands away, but Taehyung just rolls his eyes and moves to throw Jimin’s blankets off, hands on his pyjama shorts and pulling down.

“I can get changed on my own!” Jimin yelps, trying to hold his pants in place lest Taehyung get a faceful of his morning wood. “Oh my god.”

“Three days!” Taehyung says, bounding up off Jimin’s bed to skip around Jimin’s room, clapping his hands together. Jimin shakes his head as he pulls the uniform on. Trust Taehyung to be loud and incomprehensible in every single universe Jimin is thrust into. It stumps Jimin why out of everyone, Taehyung is the only permanent fixture in this series of very confusing world-changes.

Maybe his subconscious is trying to tell him something.

 

 

“What took you two so long?”

There’s a very busty girl standing at the door to the gym, tapping her shoes and frowning behind her square-rim glasses. Taehyung laughs sheepishly, and bows, then pushes Jimin’s head down to bow too. “Sorry Shimizu-chan! I was trying to put his pants on!”

“What the—”

Shimizu sighs and uncrosses her arms. “Never mind. You two are always up to no good. Go, go inside and get warmed up, we start drills and then a practise game.”

Jimin blinks as they step inside, letting his eyes adjust to the dark from the morning sun. There are ten other guys inside, all dressed in the same uniform, except for a short kid with a streak of blond in his hair whose uniform colours are reversed.

“Nice of you to join us,” the tall, blond boy with glasses smirks as Jimin and Taehyung walk up to the court, “dumb and dumber are here, we can start.”

Taehyung sticks his tongue out. “Shut up Tsukki. You’re just jealous because your best friend is a cat.”

Tsukki rolls his eyes. “At least my cat’s still smarter than you.”

“Will you three stop bickering and start running,” buzzcut dude says, going up to Jimin and giving him a little shove in the ass. “We got three days! We gotta crush Aoba Johsai’s smarmy asses!”

Jimin’s breaking out a light sweat after warmups, whether from the activity level or his eyes flitting back and forth between the shirts trying to remember everyone’s name, he’s unsure, but he’s worn out after only fifteen minutes of drills. Taehyung collapses next to Jimin, chucking him a bottle of water, which Jimin gratefully accepts.

“Right, game plan for Saturday,” Sawamura—who Jimin presumes is their captain—says. He rattles off some things written on a whiteboard, which goes completely over Jimin’s head. “You two.” Sawamura points to Jimin and Taehyung suddenly, and Jimin jolts in Taehyung’s arms. “You remember all your formations, right?

“Yessir!” Taehyung says with a grin, saluting Sawamura. He brings Jimin close to him hugging him so he’s almost squishing Jimin, and Jimin has to whack Taehyung on the chest so he’ll let go before he spits his mouthful of water onto Taehyung’s face or chokes on it. “We’ll show Oikawa the ~Power of 95z~.”

“Power my ass,” Tsukki mumbles. “Just don’t let them stomp all over us like they did last season.”

Taehyung growls playfully. “Is that something you should be saying to this club’s ace combo? Jiminnie and I are the Best Bosom Buddies. We can practically read each other’s minds. Hey Jimminie, what am I thinking about?”

“Uh,” Jimin replies, laughing, “kicking Oikawa’s ass?”

“The delicious, delicious meat we’ll be eating for dinner, actually, but close enough!” Taehyung says, sticking his tongue out at Tsukki, who just rolls his eyes. “Kicking Oikawa’s ass was number two.”

“Okay, shut up all of you,” Noya says, whacking Tsukki on the back of his head and jumping up. “Let’s get back on the court.”

“Let’s goooooo!” Taehyung whoops, clapping his hands, and jumps up from where he’s sitting to grab a volleyball and twirl it on his finger.

“Oh boy,” Jimin mutters to himself. Time to become a volleyball pro.

 

 

“Finals, Jiminnie,” Taehyung breathes as they arrive at the sport dome. “Finals!”

Jimin should be more worried about this. Three days ago, he’d barely even touched a volleyball before, but the moment they’d started official practises, it was like his body moved on its own, receiving every one of Taehyung’s sets and spiking it perfectly over the net every time. The way he worked together with Taehyung was so smooth that Jimin had felt like they were still connected with a Neural Handshake, that they were still Drifting together in the Conn-Pod of the Jaeger.

So, Jimin guesses, he’s now a volleyball player, playing in his first state tournament.

“Hey, hey,” Taehyung says, grabbing Jimin’s arm and pulling him into the changerooms with the rest of the team. He sticks his head out the door and quickly ducks back in when footsteps sound around the corner. “That’s them, That’s Aoba Johsai. Oikawa and Iwaizumi aren’t with the rest of the team. Hmm. Hey Jiminnie. Jiminnie!”

“Hmm?” Jimin opens a locker, pulling his uniform out from his bag. In the changerooms, all their other teammates are stripping, getting their uniforms ready, and while Jimin is used to this sight—Namjoon walks around the dorm stark naked some days, for Christ’s sake—he doesn’t really know these people, so he keeps his eyes averted, focusing on changing his own shirt.

Taehyung closes Jimin’s locker door, and Jimin splutters because he’s currently shirtless, with only a pair of shorts on. Jimin draws his arms to him, self-conscious, but Taehyung’s not looking, instead grinning at Jimin like a mischievous puppy with a terrible idea. “Let’s freak them out a little before the game.”

“Bad sportsmanship,” Tanaka yells from across the room, and Taehyung just sticks his tongue out at Tanaka. “We’ll crush them to a pulp fair and square.”

“I personally forbid you from stepping out of this changeroom until it’s our turn on the courts,” Sawamura deadpans, and Taehyung pouts before sighing in resignation and stripping his shirt off in one action. Jimin chokes a little at the sudden action, hiding it with a cough, but Taehyung, ever observant, turns to him with a quirk of his eyebrows.

“Checking me out, Jiminnie?” he jokes, waggling his eyebrows, then flexing his shoulders and raising one arm to show off his biceps, and Jimin just scoffs and whacks him on the back, hard. “Ow! Don’t blame ya, hot stuff here.”

“The only thing hot here is the water you’ll be in from Shimizu-chan if you don’t shut up and get changed,” Tsukki says with a snort, and Yama hits him on the arm and gives him a warning look. “I’m just saying!”

Taehyung throws his shirt on with an eyeroll, and walks up to whack Tsukki on the back of his head. “All done. Meet me at the court, bitches!”

“Language!” Azumane shouts out after Taehyung, but he’s already one foot outside the room, dragging a barely-clothed Jimin along with him.

“Whoa, whoa, where we going?” Jimin asks as he tucks his shirt in, stumbling after Taehyung. Taehyung just looks at him with glinting eyes before making a ‘shhh’ signal in front of a changeroom on the other side of the dome. Jimin’s eyebrows furrow. “Hey, isn’t this the Aoba Jo—”

Taehyung pushes open the door, grinning as he sticks his face in, and a boy with styled brown hair holding an aqua and white shirt with OIKAWA emblazoned on it heaves a large sigh.

“Taehyung, here to cause trouble again?” Oikawa asks, tsking and shaking his head. “Gonna kick your ass on the court!”

“Well, I’ll chew your face on the court,” Taehyung shouts at Oikawa, before fake gasping. “Oh no wait, I guess that’s Iwai-senpai, he must’ve been doing that last night!” Taehyung makes some smoochy motions before breaking out into giggles and hiding behind a helpless Jimin’s back, and a boy behind Oikawa—Iwaizumi, Jimin presumes—shoots them a Look. “Ah, young love.”

“Mmm, quite. He’s good in bed too,” Oikawa drawls back at them, unfazed, and Taehyung shrieks a little as he blocks his ears and drags Jimin away from the door. “Aw, don’t want to hear all the details?” Oikawa’s voice floats from the Aoba Johsai changeroom as Taehyung’s cackling and dragging Jimin down the corridor to the courts entrance. “You tried!”

Jimin splutters as he jogs after Taehyung to the courts. “What was all that about?”

Taehyung giggles again as they join back up with their team. “Remember? We caught them making out in the changerooms the last practise game we had. They’re totally sucking each other’s dicks. It’s so grossly cute.”

“I thought you didn’t like Oikawa,” Jimin says, bemused, but Sawamura shoots them a stern look, and Jimin shuts up, rushing up to the rest of the group.

“I’m kicking you two off the team if you sneak around like that again,” Sawamura says with a sigh. He throws Jimin a ball, which Jimin barely catches, caught off guard. “Five minutes warm-up, let’s go!”

“Don’t you think it’s so cute?” Taehyung gushes as he stretches. “Teammates dating.”

“Are you going around giving Oikawa and Iwaizumi hell again?” Noya deadpans as he jogs on the spot. “Like you two aren’t exactly the same.”

“Hey,” Taehyung says, waggling his finger, “they were totally making out. Jiminnie and I aren’t making out. I’ll never stop giving them shit.”

“And neither of them are even on our team,” Azumane says with a sigh. He exchanges a look with Noya. “Imagine the hilarity that would ensue if Taehyung found out, I don’t know, that Tsukki and Yama were secretly dating.”

“They’re secretly dating?” Taehyung’s voice goes up an octave, while Tsukki holds his hands out in front of him, waving them vehemently. “Tsukki! Are you and Yama-chan dating?”

“If we are then you’ve been married to Jimin for ten years with three kids,” Tsukki says back, flicking Taehyung on the forehead. “Has anyone told you dating someone from the same team is a bad idea?”

Taehyung harrumphs, rubbing the red mark on his forehead. “What’s wrong with that?”

Tsukki rolls his eyes. “If you break up, you screw up the team. Which… would be a favour for us if Oikawa and Iwaizumi are really dating, because when they break up…” Tsukki pushes his glasses up. “We’ll have a winning chance.”

“But who says they’ll break up?” Taehyung asks, as he finishes stretching his arms. He shrugs. “Hey, I think that if you love someone, it doesn’t matter if they’re on your team or not, you just be upfront about it. Life’s too short for what ifs.”

“I kinda agree with Taetae,” Noya says, shrugging. Tsukki tsks in annoyance. “Sorry!”

And by this stage, watching Taehyung talk animatedly, Jimin’s starting to understand why it’s Taehyung for him.

In every single universe, it’s the same. Everything else might be mutable, but Taehyung’s there, his constant. It’s not just that he has a massive boner for Taehyung, which, okay, he will admit that he does, but that it’s like there’s a red string of fate tied around their ankles, drawing them together, destined to be by each other’s sides. Brothers, family, a shoulder to lean on, something more, something dark and lustful in the shield of night but there for each other in every step of their lives during the daytime.

Two halves of a whole, a connection far stronger than simple friends or casual boyfriends.

This is what people spend their whole lives searching for, and Jimin shouldn’t let it slip between his fingers because of cowardice.

“Heads up!” a voice sounds from behind, and Jimin turns to see Oikawa on the court opposite them, spiking a ball across the net.

The ball whacks Jimin straight in the face with the force of a truck, and for a split second, Jimin swears he can see all the galaxies and stars of the universe.

“Oikawa, you ass!” Taehyung screeches indignantly, before Jimin’s world fades to black.

 

---

 

It’s pitch black.

Jimin blinks a few more times. He’s lying down, and it’s definitely a bed, because he can feel covers on him. He grunts as he sits up, moving the pillow out of the way as he swings his legs over the side of the bed.

He’s in a room he doesn’t recognise, again—this time a small and under-furnished bedroom with one cabinet, a rack of clothes in the corner, and a computer desk where a laptop rests. Jimin flicks the lamp on the nightstand on, and the room floods with tungsten light.

Huh. Jimin’s eyes find very familiar albums stacked neatly on his bookshelf. BTS albums. There are ten...no, eleven of them, and Jimin only recognises the cover designs for half of them. The first world where BTS exists, but something’s still off.

Jimin’s eyebrows furrow as he spots the calendar hanging on his wall.

February, 2030.

“2030?” Jimin whispers. “What the hell happened in these fifteen years?”

Powering up the laptop, Jimin finds all the answers to his questions.

The Naver page displaying the BTS logo burn bright into his eyes and Jimin scans over the description, heart thudding in disbelief.

BTS: Award-winning idol boyband debuted by BigHit Entertainment in 2013. Disbanded 2019.

The acid churns in Jimin’s stomach. It’s not like BTS were going to be together forever. He scrolls down to the ‘Disbandment’ section, the glow of the computer screen making him squint, and reads the entire section.

Jimin closes his eyes, trying to process the information, and lets out a breath he’s been holding. Right.

It started when Seokjin had been called up to military service in 2018. They’d gone on for one more year without Seokjin, before the letters came for Hoseok and Yoongi, and by then their popularity had started to wane and their contracts were up. Namjoon left BigHit, starting up his own hip-hop label with Yoongi before voluntarily enlisting, and Jeongguk had decided to stay with BigHit, embark on a solo career—he was the youngest, and a triple threat after all. Jimin had signed to become one of the dance instructors for BigHit trainees until he’d gone to the army, too. There’s no information on Taehyung or his whereabouts after disbandment. He disappeared as fast as he appeared in BTS, overnight.

Jimin runs his hands through his hair. This is closer to his reality than any of the other worlds he’s been thrust unwelcomingly in. Disbandment is a real issue that has flitted across Jimin’s mind on more than one occasion, but also something that he’s dismissed without much thought, all of them still young enough for their idol life to last at least five or so more years. And to be quite honest, Jimin hasn’t considered far enough into the future to know which direction he’d be going after his idol shelf life was over.

“What the hell am I doing now, then?” Jimin mutters to himself as he opens the calendar application. Doesn’t seem like he’s married, if he’s sleeping in this room in a single bed by himself. He didn’t notice any couple items in his room either, or photos on the walls.

Jimin rubs his eyes as the calendar loads.

21 February, 2030

  • 9am: IMPT meeting, 10 year reunion discussion @ BH new office
  • 2pm: coffee w/ hyung PS bring mum’s kimchi containers for refill
  • 4pm: teach JFH @ dance academy
  • 6pm: teach popping @ dance academy
  • 10pm: choreo routine 4 next week’s workshop

“Reunion discussion?” Jimin breathes. He checks the time displayed on the laptop. 20 February, 10:13pm. That means the meeting is tomorrow.

A melodic bell tolls, and Jimin’s head turns towards the front door of the apartment. Doorbell. Someone must be looking for him—but at this time? Jimin peers at the security panel near the door, pushing buttons and waving at it until the screen flickers and displays an image of a man standing at his door. The man’s wearing a grey hoodie, face obscured, but those features—Jimin would recognise them anywhere.

Jimin yanks the door open, gaping. Taehyung. It’s Taehyung, ten years older, but Taehyung.

“Heya, Jiminnie,” Taehyung says, softly. “It’s been a long time.”

 

 

“Elementary school teacher by day and saxophonist by night?”

Taehyung grins, shovelling a piece of fishcake in his mouth. Jimin laughs quietly, and refills Taehyung’s glass of soju. “Of course you would be.”

They’re at the local pojangmacha, and while Jimin is antsy, expecting hushed whispers from passerbys recognising them, or fansite masters lurking around the corner with their massive telephoto lens, this isn’t real-time anymore. Their fame has waned, and they’re just ageing has-beens.

“What happened to you?” Taehyung asks, stabbing a rice cake with his chopsticks. “You went to the army, and… I tried messaging you so many times. Calling you. But you just dropped off the face of the earth. I had to find out your current address from your parents.”

“Oh.” Jimin downs a shot, following it up with half a dumpling. What could’ve happened in fifteen years that would lead him to break off contact with Taehyung, his best friend? “I don’t know. I must’ve lost my phone or something?”

Taehyung levels a judging look at Jimin. “How can you not know? Did you hit your head in the army and lose your memory? That’s the only explanation I’ll accept.”

“Quite possibly,” Jimin jibes, grinning. Taehyung smiles back and picks at his beansprouts, but the smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “Are you mad?”

Taehyung doesn’t say anything. Jimin stares at Taehyung’s chopsticks, watching as he pulls the beansprouts apart and brings one to his mouth. Taehyung’s the same, but so different. Fifteen years have done a lot to him—his hair is back to black, a simple yet stylish cut, and the baby smooth skin of his is scattered with stubble and the first signs of wrinkles. His jawline is strong as ever, though, and the golden glow of his skin is a sight Jimin’s sorely missed, the company having forced him to use whitening soaps and BB cream three shades too light. It’s not just his appearance that has changed, though—he’s more reserved in his actions, the boyish bubbly enthusiasm long gone, replaced with a heaviness and maturity that’s so foreign to Jimin.

“No,” Taehyung finally says. “No, just confused. You enlisted right after being best man at my wedding. And then I never heard back from you. Radio silence. I thought something must’ve happened, but then six years went by without contact. Was it something I did?”

“Your…” Jimin’s glad he’s sitting down, because otherwise his knees would’ve buckled under him. Of course. This is 2030. Things are different. “Your wedding. You’re married.”

“Was that it?” Taehyung blows air through his lips. “I asked you, the night before. If I should marry Soojung. And you told me you were really happy for me and to go ahead with it; gave me your blessing.” Taehyung looks down at his hands. “I was expecting another answer.”

The world is spinning. Whether it’s from the bottle of soju he’s downed, or from the sheer shock, Jimin can’t discertain, but it’s spinning in front of his eyes, and he has to press a hand to his forehead to stop himself from collapsing onto the table.

“Do…” Jimin finally croaks out. “Do you have kids?”

Taehyung pauses for a split second before nodding. “Yeah. Two kids, three and five. Taeeun and Taewan. I wanted to tell you.”

“Oh.” Jimin looks up, straight into Taehyung’s eyes. It hurts. This feeling… Jimin doesn’t know what it is, but it hurts, like his insides are being shredded to bloody ribbons, his heart drawn and quartered and sewn back together, the needle pricking into it a thousand times. Despair and bitterness and jealousy and loss and regret, balled into one. “Congratulations?”

There’s another pause, and Jimin tears his eyes away from Taehyung’s, moving to refill Taehyung’s glass with soju. Anything to keep him occupied. Of course, what else did he think would happen? Taehyung wouldn’t wait forever for him. Especially if Taehyung didn’t even know about Jimin’s feelings. Taehyung would move on, get married, have kids, be happy without Jimin in his life.

“Hey, Jimin-ah.” Taehyung takes the glass and downs it in one shot. “I’m only going to say this once. Back then… I loved you.”

Jimin stares at Taehyung blankly. He tries to keep calm, emotionless, composed, but the bottle of soju in his hand clatters to the table before rolling and smashing on the ground, alcohol splashing everywhere. Fuck. His hands are shaking.

“Sorry—sorry, I—” Jimin scrambles out of his seat, gathering the glass pieces and bowing to the other customers in the pojangmacha. He hisses as the glass slices through his skin, bringing his finger to his lips and sucking.

“Hey,” Taehyung says, squatting down and reaching a hand out. Jimin gives Taehyung his injured hand instinctively, and Taehyung presses a handkerchief to it, tying it around Jimin’s hand. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

“I—” Jimin’s still shaking as he sits back on his seat. “You loved me?”

“How could I not?” Taehyung says, smiling sadly. “You were always there for me. And stupidly, I was hoping you did too. But it was just a fantasy. I was stupid to think you thought of me as anything but a friend. So I let it go.”

“Taehyung-ah,” Jimin says, shaking his head, the bile in his stomach churning and threatening to travel up his throat, combining with the leftover metallic tang of his blood in his mouth. Oh god. How could he fuck up this badly? “No, it’s not that, I…”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s over.” Taehyung gets up from his seat, chucking a bill on the table. “Go home, treat your cut. I should get back home too, put Taeeunnie to bed. We’ve got that meeting tomorrow morning. We’ll see everyone again. It’ll just be like old times.”

 

 

Jimin’s nursing a hangover when he arrives at the entrance of BigHit, having drunk himself almost into a stupor last night. He takes his sunglasses off, squinting up at the building. It’s not longer on the fourth floor of some worn-out building in Sinsa-dong, but an entire building in Apgujeong, where all the other entertainment companies are located. Seems like BigHit’s upgraded, built off BTS’ success and used their profits to expand and invest in other groups.

“Park Jimin. I’m here for the meeting,” Jimin says to the receptionist, who pulls up a file on the computer complete with profiles and photos, looks at Jimin, and smiles. Another receptionist leads him to the lifts where he’s buzzed up to the boardroom on level six.

Jimin takes a deep breath as he pushes open the double doors to the boardroom.

“Jiminnie!” It’s Hoseok sitting at the back of the room, looking exactly the same as he did when he’d first joined BigHit as a trainee. He’s got an ageless face and also an endless source of enthusiasm, apparently. A flabbergasted expression crosses his face. “You’re here? We didn’t know if you were going to come or not. Where did you disappear to these past few years?”

“Did you go back to Busan?” Jeongguk’s sitting next to Hoseok, brushing his bangs out of his eyes. Jimin can’t help but grin as Jeongguk tilts his head and quirks an eyebrow at Jimin. Still as impertinent as ever. Jeongguk is gorgeous—of course he is—chiselled and well-built, probably still breaking fangirls’ hearts, considering he was the only one who continued on the idol path. He’s lost a lot of his baby-ish innocence, gaze harder now, replaced with a charisma more fitting to that of a man in his 30s.

“That’s hyung to you, brat,” Jimin says with a gentle laugh, taking a seat next to Jeongguk. None of the others are here yet, and Jimin’s kind of glad, because he doesn’t know what his traitorous heart will do when Taehyung walks into the room again. Jimin sinks into the seat, closing his eyes. “And you? Didn’t go back to Busan to visit family?”

“You know how it is with schedules,” Jeongguk says with a shrug. “I saw them a couple of times before enlisting. Hey, I heard Taehyungie-hyung visited you yesterday.”

Jimin opens his mouth to answer, when the door creaks open, and Namjoon and Yoongi walk in. Jeongguk’s eyes flick to the door, and he almost bursts out laughing. Namjoon has a disgusting goatee, while Yoongi looks like he couldn’t give two shits—which he probably can’t, considering his idol life is far, far behind him by this stage.

“Wassup kids,” Yoongi says, sitting down closest to the door. “Think this meeting will take long?”

“Depends on if you wanna do this reunion comeback thing or not,” Hoseok says with a yawn. “I think it’ll be fun. For old times sake.”

“We’re just waiting for Seokjin-hyung and Taehyungie, right?” Namjoon asks, taking a seat next to Yoongi, and Jeongguk nods. “Hey, Jeongguk, congrats on getting Daesang at Seoul Music Awards. Your album deserved it.”

“Thanks, hyung,” Jeongguk says, grinning. “I mean, you did help produce some really great tracks for it.”

“Speaking of producing, I got a bunch of songs I need to finish mastering back at the studio for my mixtape,” Yoongi grumbles, but takes his sunglasses off and reclines in the seat anyway. “And Namjoonie and I are debuting a mixed hip-hop group soon. Swag Kidz.”

“Swag Kidz,” Jimin repeats slowly. Oh boy.

The door swings open one last time, and both Taehyung and Seokjin walk in.

“And we have the whole crew,” Hoseok exclaims, getting up from his seat to spread his arms open in welcome. Taehyung rolls his eyes and walks up to Hoseok, giving him a big hug, patting his butt. “Now it’s just Bang-PD and the others on the board of directors we’re waiting for.”

“Jiminnie!” Seokjin greets, taking the empty seat next to Jimin. Jimin smiles, eyes moving to Taehyung, who hesitantly smiles back and sits next to Namjoon. “Jimin-ah, what happened to you? You stopped replying to our group chats and then you disappeared into the military after Taehyungie’s wedding.”

“I wish I knew,” Jimin says, shrugging. Really, what the hell happened to him? It’s not possible that he had a breakdown and broke off contact with everyone just because Taehyung had gotten married. That’s not like him to do. Something big must’ve happened, something of a large enough scale to force Jimin to cut off contact with six of his best friends. “I guess I stayed in the army for a little longer than I needed, on active service. Lost my phone and when I was discharged, decided to have a fresh start and travel around the world to teach dance?”

“Huh.” Seokjin scratches the back of his next. “Still, should’ve told us. Gukjoo-nuna and I wanted to invite you to Jinhee’s doljanchi, but we couldn’t get hold of you.”

“Oh, you…” Jimin blinks. “You married Gukjoo-nuna. And you have a daughter. Ah.”

Jimin’s saved by the double doors opening one last time. Seven pairs of eyes dart to the doors, where Bang Sihyuk walks through the doors, followed by three other company directors, and all the members stand up, bowing politely.

“Ah, good to see you’re all here,” Bang Sihyuk says with a shark-like grin. “Thanks for coming. Sit down, sit down, let’s get straight to it.”

In short, Bang Sihyuk wants to get them together again for a 10th anniversary album and tour. Of course, he says, it would be unreasonable to expect them to promote actively as a group again—they’re no Shinhwa, and most of them have moved on from the limelight—but having them all work together again, put their creative minds and developments together as a present for the fans who still think back upon their youthful days wistfully, would be a great milestone. Revisiting their golden days, quenching any disappointments they had when they’d disbanded and went their separate ways. A step to relaunch their entertainment career for any of them who might want to step back on screen after their time in the military.

Jimin zones out an hour in, his gaze falling on Taehyung, seated diagonally opposite him. Taehyung’s fiddling with his hands, picking at the skin around his nails, while he nibbles at his lower lip absently as he nods every now and then to something one of the directors says.

He’s sitting barely two metres away from Taehyung, but they’re practically strangers.

Taehyung loved him. Taehyung wanted him back. But Jimin’s pride, his reticence, his fear of making everything go wrong, stopped him. And this—this is the result.

It doesn’t matter whether Jimin had confessed or not. It all went bad anyway.

Jimin closes his eyes. Something selfish stirs in him, deep in the pit of his stomach.

Why… Why should he be sacrificing his personal happiness for something that isn’t even a guarantee? That is just as transient as if he made the other choice? BTS isn’t forever. Even the best friendships aren’t forever. Nothing is guaranteed, just as nothing will change if he doesn’t take a chance. Why should he be living in fear, throwing the words ‘I love you’ meaninglessly to all the members, the staff, the fans, but not be able to say it when it’s actually important, when he truly means it in every sense of the word?

His resolution, smoky particles of stardust painting swirls of maybes inside his mind, gathers into a supernova.

 

 

The parking lot of the BigHit building is silent and echoes with every step Jimin takes.

The contract’s been signed. All seven of them had agreed to a comeback album, to be produced in collaboration with Namjoon and Yoongi’s agency, with choreography by the instructors at the dance academies that Hoseok owns. Each member to contribute a solo track. Four months preparation time, with a comeback date the same as their debut, June 13. They’d be signed for a year in total, inclusive of comeback preparations, with a 50/50 profit split between the group and the company for domestic activities, and 70/30 for overseas promotions—more of a cut than their old contracts. Rough plans for an Asia comeback tour, along with a selection of countries they’d visited during their first world tour.

But that’s not what’s important right now.

The others had decided to go for lunch, catch up for the first time in years, all seven of them, and Taehyung had told them he needed to move his car first. Jimin had excused himself, citing bowel movements, but he’d actually followed Taehyung down to the basement carpark instead, hoping to catch him alone, hoping to speak to him.

There.

Taehyung’s walking up right ahead, towards a black car parked in the middle of the lot. Jimin purses his lips, and quickens his pace to catch up with Taehyung.

“Taehyung-ah.”

Taehyung turns around in shock, arms going up instinctively, then he sees it’s just Jimin, and he lowers his arms. “Jiminnie? Did you park down here—”

“No I—Taehyung, I have something I want to talk to you about.”

Jimin walks up towards Taehyung, counting his breaths, and he’s sure Taehyung can sense his shaky anxiety. Jimin stops in front of Taehyung, an arm’s reach away, then looks down at his feet, gathering the words he knows he needs to say.

“It’s about what you said to me last night.”

Taehyung’s expression goes stiff, steeled and guarded. He takes a step back, moving to turn away from Jimin. “Jimin, that was—It’s in the past. I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m sorry I brought it up. You must’ve had your reasons, and that’s fine. Let’s just leave it and go to lunch with the others, hm?”

“No, Taehyungie, you’ve got it wrong, just—just listen, hey.” Jimin takes a step closer to Taehyung as he backs away. Jimin takes Taehyung’s arm, spinning him around so Taehyung’s facing him. He reaches his other hand to take Taehyung’s hand, holding it tight. “I wanted to say that I fucked up. You hit the nail on the head yesterday.”

Taehyung pauses, gaping, before he snaps his mouth shut. “What do you mean?”

Jimin hangs his head again, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. It’s now or never.

“I love—”

 

---

 

“Jesus!” Jimin yelps, jolting awake. He blinks, breathing hard, as he pushes sweaty covers off himself, fanning his flushed face as his eyes dart around the room.

Dorm. The BTS dorm. The room he shares with Taehyung.

“You love Jesus?” Taehyung mutters, sleepy amusement tingeing his voice. “What’s wrong, Jiminnie? Dream of being forcibly baptised?”

Jimin swipes his phone screen alight with shaking hands. Dec 21, 2015, 4.31AM.

“Not—not exactly,” Jimin says, Taehyung turns over so he’s facing Jimin. Taehyung’s eyes gleam from the sliver of moonlight filtering through the curtains, dim light dusting over his cheekbones and bridge of his nose, so beautiful. Tears are threatening to spill from Jimin’s eyes. He feels like he’s just gone through several lifetimes of pain and suffering, and now he’s free, in the reality he should be in. “Am I still dreaming?”

“Do you want me to confirm?” Taehyung pushes his covers off himself, rolling to the floor and crawling over to Jimin’s bed. He grins up at Jimin, and before Jimin can protest he’s attacking Jimin with a tickle attack, sending Jimin squirming and trying to muffle his squeals with the pillow.

“Get off me, man,” Jimin manages to breathe out, and Taehyung cackles, settling in besides Jimin and taking all of Jimin’s blankets. “God. Okay. Not dreaming.”

“Mmm. You were mumbling some random shit though. Jaegers? Balls? Oikawa? Did you start watching Haikyuu!! or something?”

The corner of Jimin’s lips twitch into a smile as Taehyung makes a face of content, closing his eyes and burying his face into Jimin’s pillow. Taehyung cracks on eye open to look at Jimin, his own lips curling up into a cat-like smile before he reaches over to stroke Jimin’s hair.

It’s worth it.

Taehyung’s his best friend. His partner in crime. The one Jimin goes to whenever he has something he wants to show, something exciting, something he can’t talk to anyone else about. Taehyung’s someone Jimin wants by his side for the long run. Taehyung is everything he needs, and everything he wants, and he’ll be damned if he lets another second go to waste.

“Hey, Taetae?”

“Hmm?”

“I’ve got to say this before I get thrown into another parallel universe and die from massive kaijus or psychotic patients or stray volleyballs or age fifteen years. Taehyung. Kim Taehyung. I—I love you.”

Taehyung opens both eyes at this. He blinks. Jimin looks back at him, breaths too loud in his own ears. And then, a grin spreads on Taehyung’s lips. It spreads until it threatens to split Taehyung’s face, wide and brilliant, and Taehyung snuggles into Jimin’s embrace, pulling him into bone-crushing hug. “I love you too, you big sap.”

Jimin backs away slightly and looks at Taehyung with a puzzled gaze. Jimin’s heart is practically jumping out of his chest, and Taehyung’s acting like nothing even really happened. “I don’t mean like, haha, love ya bro, like I usually say, I mean, I love you, like, not like a bro—okay, I also love you like a bro, but—”

“I know what you mean, Jiminnie,” Taehyung murmurs into Jimin’s ear, pulling Jimin close again and pressing a gentle kiss to the shell of Jimin’s ear. “You’re a lot louder at night than you think you are.”

“Wait, you—” Jimin practically chokes on his own spit. Taehyung giggles. “You knew?”

Taehyung grins, placing a kiss this time on the tip of Jimin’s nose. “It means you want to bone me over everyone else. And I think that’s beautiful.”

Jimin hesitates for a moment, flabbergasted. “Actually, Seokjin-hyung’s pretty—”

“Shush. Everyone and their mother wants to bone Jin-hyung. My mom gushes over his superior genes sometimes with her friends and jokes about how if she were twenty years younger she’d pounce on him. It’s not fair he was born with a face like that.”

“Still wanna bone you more,” Jimin murmurs, snuggling up against Taehyung, feeling the blood pounding in his head, euphoria sending the jitters to the tips of his fingers. “You’re pretty fine for being as gross as you are.”

There’s a long pause, before Jimin clears his throat again.

“Hey, Taetae?”

“Hmm?”

“So, like,” Jimin swallows. “What now?”

Taehyung looks up at Jimin, stroking Jimin’s cheek with the hand not around Jimin’s body. “What now? We go on like before. It doesn’t have to change overnight, Jimin-ah. What we have, it’s—It’s good. Except, you know. We can…” Taehyung clears his throat in embarrassment. “If you want.”

Jimin laughs nervously, resting his head on Taehyung’s shoulder. He counts their heartbeats. Four. Five. Six. Looks back up at Taehyung. “Can I kiss you now?”

“Is that even a question?” Taehyung asks with a laugh, and his lips are on Jimin’s, hesitant at first, but more and more insistent as Jimin brings a hand up to cup Taehyung’s face.

Oh. Oh. This is it. This is the real deal, this is—everything that Jimin’s wanted, and more. This isn’t a Taehyung who’s been living as a Jaeger pilot in a dystopian world, isn’t Dr. Kim Taehyung, isn’t Taehyung the volleyball player, isn’t the 35-year-old Taehyung married to Soojung with two kids, but his Taehyung, the Taehyung he knows and loves so much with the whole of his heart. This feels right, so right, the way Taehyung melts into Jimin, the way he moans as Jimin parts his lips to drink him in, whining at the back of his throat as he lies back down so Taehyung’s on top of him, fingers threading through Jimin’s hair and cradling his face so gently, so lovingly.

Taehyung trails his fingers down Jimin’s arms, holding him down as he delves into Jimin’s mouth, letting out a low groan when Jimin wraps his legs around Taehyung’s waist and draws their bodies flush. Jimin exposes his neck, lets Taehyung press gentle kisses down his jaw and lave at his neck, bringing his arms around Taehyung’s neck and then scratching gently down Taehyung’s back.

“Can I—” Taehyung’s voice is low and gravelly, like he’s holding himself back. “Can I touch you?”

This time, it’s Jimin’s turn to laugh. “Is that even a question?”

Jimin takes Taehyung’s hand in his and guides Taehyung, lets Taehyung slip his hand under his tank top, draw circles on his torso, tease at the band of his boxers. Taehyung takes the lead from there, and he’s sliding Jimin’s boxers off, slipping a hand inside to palm at Jimin’s hardening cock, moaning into Jimin’s mouth when Jimin lets out a high-pitched whimper.

Taehyung’s thumb traces over the slit of Jimin’s cock, and it’s so much, so hot, Jimin’s entire body is on fire, so sensitive, he can’t help but rut up against Taehyung’s hand, begging for more.

Jimin runs his hands down Taehyung’s back, moving to strip his t-shirt off him, skin of his palm now against the smooth heat of Taehyung’s back, moving lower and reaching down past Taehyung’s own boxers to squeeze his ass. Taehyung lets out a laugh which quickly turns to a moan when Jimin moves to circle his hand around Taehyung’s cock, pumping slowly and deliberately.

“Fuck,” Taehyung growls out. “Feels so good.” Jimin licks at Taehyung’s lips, and Taehyung returns the favour, taking Jimin’s lower lip between his teeth and dragging them until Jimin’s lips are released, red and puffy. Taehyung fumbles, rolling them over so now Jimin’s on top of him, and he pushes the fabric of Jimin’s underwear down to let Jimin’s cock free. “You’re so hard already.”

“What can I say,” Jimin mutters, whimpering as Taehyung circles him and thumbs his slit. Taehyung’s also erect now, flushed and leaking. Jimin can barely circle him with his small hands, and he shivers, thinking about taking Taehyung into his mouth, having Taehyung inside him, filling him up. “I’m eager for you.”

Taehyung shudders, grinding up so their cocks are touching, and he takes them both into his hand, stroking them together. It feels so good, and Jimin’s so close from just this alone that he wants to moan, yell, shout Taehyung’s name, but they’re inside the dorm and—

“Ji—Jiminnie, wait, I—”

Jimin’s eyes flutter open, and Taehyung’s looking up at him with an apologetic expression. “What is it?”

“I, uh,” Taehyung lets go of both their cocks, shuffling so that he’s not half-sitting. “I need to pee?”

“What the hell,” Jimin chokes out, but he’s laughing as he gets off Taehyung, sitting to the side. “I told you you shouldn’t have had that much water.”

“I’ll be back!” Taehyung mumbles, patting Jimin’s dick, and scrambles off the bed, stumbling out the room.

Alone, Jimin bursts out into little giggles, unable to control himself. He’s trying to muffle himself with the pillow as the hysterics set in. He’s still so hard, but that can wait until later. This is just—just so Taehyung. This is what he loves about Taehyung.

“Okay!” Taehyung announces, slipping back into the room. “I’m, uh, back?”

“Come back to bed, you dummy,” Jimin says fondly. The mood’s broken now, and instead, Jimin just wants to sleep like this, with Taehyung in his arms, warm and close. Jimin opens the covers and pets the space next to him, Taehyung jumping in eagerly. Jimin, still giggling, wraps his legs around Taehyung’s body, clinging to him like a barnacle, and Taehyung groans as Jimin’s cock digs into his thigh. “Hey. I just thought of something horrifying while you were taking a whizz.”

Taehyung reaches his arm out so Jimin can use it as a pillow and reaches around, playing with a strand of Jimin’s hair. “What is it?”

“The others.” Jimin looks up at Taehyung, making a face of despair. God knows they’ve probably got a betting pool on whether Jimin and Taehyung would get together or not. “How are we going to tell them?”

“I can’t believe out of all the things you could’ve been thinking about, you were thinking about that,” Taehyung teases. Jimin hums, and the corners of Taehyung’s lips quirk up. “Would they get the clue if we started making out in front of them at breakfast tomorrow?”

Jimin whacks Taehyung on the chest, and rests his head down against it again. “Oh god. Is there a chance that Yoongi-hyung won’t give us shit for this?”

Taehyung laughs loudly and kisses Jimin again, chaste and sweet.

“Maybe in another universe.”

 

 

OUTRO

Jeongguk wins the betting pool.

“How the fuck could you predict that the way we’d find out would be through Hoseok barging into the room to look for his cap and shrieking his head off when he saw these two shitheads making out in Jimin’s bed?” Yoongi grumbles disgruntledly as he dishes out 30,000 won. Jeongguk smiles up at him sweetly. “Yes, you brat, I’ll buy you those lamb skewers too, god.”

“You even got the bed right,” Namjoon says in disbelief, shaking his head and handing Jeongguk his money. “I was sure it was going to be another three months, at least.”

“And I can’t believe you had a betting pool going on over this,” Seokjin says from the kitchen. “Really, you guys.”

Jimin buries his face in Taehyung’s back, flushing at the sheer horror and embarrassment of this entire proceeding. Taehyung turns around and presses a kiss to Jimin’s lips, grinning as he presses their foreheads together.

Hoseok shrieks again. Yoongi fake retches. Jeongguk cackles, slapping his thigh. Jimin sighs as Taehyung giggles. He’s never going to live this down.

(But as long as he has Taehyung by his side, he can get through anything.)