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Don't Think, Don't Speak, Just Smile for Me

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[I'd like to thank each and everyone for coming to the concert.]

"I, I can do more hours-"

[I hope you guys all had a great time, because I know I did.]

"I swear I'll have more next month-"

[I wish I could've done more...]

"N,no, next week, I, I s,swear, next w,week...I'll have-"

[...and I wish today wasn't the last day of the concert, and um, hopefully, there will be another one soon. Thank you ARMY for supporting me and making this possible. I love you guys, have a safe trip back home!]

 

 

-

 

 

Jimin hates Fridays.

People might think he's crazy for saying it, but he really, really hates Fridays.

Fridays are the worst when it comes to his father's temper. The man never failed to spend his weekends raising his blood alcohol level well past the average lethal dosage, and it was up to Jimin to bring in enough money from this part-time job to fuel that kind of reckless behavior.

Jimin's trying. He really is. He is working wherever they are willing to hire a small, introverted teenager with little skill in any field. Usually, it's cleaning or doing repetitive tasks in the back of shops, where customers won't find him. He can only work limited hours, since he still has to go to school and everything. but he makes sure he spends just enough of that money to keep him from dying of starvation. He doesn't need fancy clothes. He doesn't need nice shoes. He doesn't need a nice haircut or a sleek new phone. He doesn't need any of those things, because no one ever pays attention to him. Sure, a couple of bullies find it entertaining to push him around a bit, but it's nothing compared to what he has to endure at home so he lets that pass.

Jimin wakes up and finds himself on the cold, tiled floor of his kitchen.

Oh, so that's where he passed out. His father was not happy about the amount of money he made this month and had made it quite clear. Jimin has to force his right eye to open, because blood had dried over it and kept it shut over the course of his unconsciousness. He's used to it, though. The first time it happened, he thought he had lost his vision, but it was just blood from the head wound he got when he hit it against the bed post in his room.

Jimin gets up.

He knows better than to linger, because he never knows when his father might come back.

He can't do this again. Not today. He can hardly move his limbs, but he tries anyway. He half crawls, half stumbles back to his room and collapses onto his bed. He regrets it immediately when his ribcage protests the sudden impact.

He hates Fridays.

 

 

-

 

 

It's Saturday. His entire body aches. His sprained ankle isn't doing much to support his weight, and the nice head wound be received isn't helping either. He's washing dishes, making each and every one is squeaky clean, but from time to time, he almost loses his grip on them. He can't afford to break anything. Especially when he has to ask the manager for more hours. 

He doesn't mind working. In fact, work is the safest place he knows. His favorite is this diner, because the manager lets him play his own music in the kitchen. He has to keep it down for obvious reasons, but it's still something, and this way, he can listen to Jungkook's voice without being worried about his father barging into his room and beating the living shit out of him. He doesn't know Jungkook personally, but he likes to think that the singer is his guardian angel protecting him until he can leave the house as soon as he turns 18. It's absurd, he knows.

Jungkook just released a new album last week, but he wasn't able to save up for a copy yet. Today, however, he will be getting paid and will be able to set aside some loose change to have just enough. 

"It's break time, Jimin," the diner's manager Seokjin announces as he walks into the kitchen. Jimin likes Seokjin. Seokjin is not like the others. He doesn't judge. He doesn't pry. Seokjin nevers asks why he walks into the kitchen with a different bruise every day, but instead tells Jimin to talk to him when he's ready. Jimin appreciates that about the other man, because getting the police involved is never a good idea for someone in his situation. 

Seokjin feeds him well. In fact, Seokjin is probably the only reason why he hasn't died of malnutrition. Today's no exception. As soon as the teenager walked into the building, Seokjin was ready with a small bowl of salad, a sandwich and today's soup. Jimin does his best to finish everything the other man gives him, but it's difficult, because his stomach simply isn't prepared to take that much in. 

"You really like Jungkook, don't you?" Seokjin continues with a mock roll of his eyes. 

"I like his voice."

"I can tell. He's the only one you listen to," the manager says before pulling something out of one of the cabinets. "So today's your birthday."

"Oh. Really?"

"Yes, really. Don't tell me you forgot your own birthday."

"Um...H,how did you even know...?"

"Your application for this job. It's not much, but I got you something."

"What? No, no, no. I can't. You already give me too much..."

"Your meals come with your work, silly. Now, here," Seokjin explains as he hands the other the gift. "I was going to wrap it, but it seemed a little cheesy."

"No. Way," Jimin squeaks as his eyes take in the cover of the album. It's the same album he's been saving up for. He looks up with his mouth wide open, which has Seokjin chuckling. "I...How did you..."

"Not that hard. You're a little obsessed. And judging by your look, I'm guessing you haven't gotten yourself a copy yet?"

"I...wow, thank you...thank you so much..."

"Why don't you go ahead and listen to it for the rest of your shift?"

Jimin slowly opens the album and takes a step back in surprise when something black falls onto the floor in front of him. Seokjin picks it up and examines it, turning it around a couple of times.

"What is it?" Jimin asks cautiously, worried about the sudden changes in the other's expression.

"Well damn, I think I just got you another birthday gift."

 

 

 

-

 

 

Jimin thinks he might throw up. 

It turns out that Seokjin had somehow been lucky enough to buy a copy with a surprise ticket to Jungkook's secret fan meeting a week later. 

At first, he had been ready to give up the ticket, because Jungkook is, for the lack of a better word, stunning. He is a gorgeous man, and Jimin can't help but be a little ashamed and intimidated by it. He's sure that Jungkook wouldn't want to see someone as hideous as he is.

However, a part of him, the more selfish part of him, couldn't let the opportunity pass. 

 

Jungkook is only a short distance away, dressed in all black with two silver rings on his right hand. His hair is slightly messier than usual, but Jimin likes it like that. It's more natural. More Jungkook (whatever that means). Jungkook is all smiles like always. His pearly whites almost blinding and his huge, expressive eyes glistening under the spotlight. He waves at the 30 people gathered in the room and thanks everyone for coming. His voice is even better in person, and Jimin's sure that his heart might leap out of him if he dares to open his mouth. 

He's the only male fan in the vicinity, which isn't at all surprising, but luckily, no one is paying attention to him. Why would they? Jungkook is in the room.

He waits patiently for the first row to get their albums signed.

When it's his turn, he checks to make sure that the black mask he's wearing is completely covering his nose and his mouth. He touches his hair and pulls them down lower so that his eyes are hidden behind his locks. He tries to keep his trembling to a minimum as he forces his feet to eventually align themselves in front of Jungkook.

Jimin dares a look. The singer is watching him with an unreadable expression, and instinctively, Jimin pulls the mask up higher. 

"Hi," Jungkook greets softly with a tilt of his head.

"H,hello," Jimin greets back as he slides the album across the table. 

"Name?"

"J,Jimin..."

"Why the mask, Jimin? Are you sick?" Jungkook asks as he sends the pen in his hand gliding across the smooth surface.

"Um. Yeah," Jimin lies, hoping that he's convincing enough.

"Thanks for coming all the way here. You must be tired."

"N,no, I'm OK..."

"Why aren't you looking at me?" Jungkook asks suddenly, and Jimin jumps at the question. He had been staring at his own hands, afraid to make eye contact with the singer. Jungkook was even more beautiful and charismatic in person. His eyes were full of pride and liveliness, his nose dignified and his lips full and curled into the most stunning smile a man can create. He was everything Jimin wasn't, and the truth was enough to make Jimin feel too insignificant to be in the other man's presence.

"Can I at least see your eyes? I want to remember you when I see you again," Jungkook continues when Jimin remains silent, his fingers grasping the hems of his hoodie tightly. 

Jimin hates his eyes. His father had told him that his eyes were the most disgusting part of him, and his father is right. That's why he makes sure that his hair covers them at all times. Especially at home. 

"I...I don't think that's a good idea..."

"What makes you say that?"

"I uh...I,I should...go.."

"Hey, I'm sorry if I offended you. Will you show me next time though?"

"Y,yeah...maybe..." Jimin answers quietly, knowing that there will be no next time. There's no way that he will ever get this lucky ever again. He dares a quick glace through his hair and sees that Jungkook is staring at his hands now. His hideous hands that are cracked, torn and bruised, with a fourth finger that was never set properly and thus is at an odd angle. He shoves his hands into the pockets of his hoodie and then remembers the letter he wrote for Jungkook when his fingers brush against it.

He had written the letter last night. He knows that Jungkook would never get around to reading it, but he had written it more for himself than anything else. He wanted to write down in words how much Jungkook's music meant to him. He wanted to reach out to someone. Someone who was basically a stranger.

He knows he'd be risking showing his ugly hands again, but he pulls out the letter and quietly places it on the table diving them. The singer cocks his head to the side but takes it anyway and smiles at his name written neatly across the front of the envelope.

"I'll make sure to read it, Jimin."

"T,thank you," Jimin stutters before rushing away from the singer. He doesn't look back. He doesn't wait around for the rest of the meet. He leaves the hall to return to his part-time job. Seokjin told him that he didn't mind if Jimin stayed through the whole thing, but he couldn't do that. Seokjin had already done so much for him.

He got an autograph. He got to meet Jungkook in person. 

That's more than enough for him.

 

 

-

 

continue?

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jimin is having a hard time paying attention to where the bus is going as he remains still in his seat, thinking about what had just happened. Never in a million years did he consider the possibility of meeting Jungkook in person as anything more than a fantasy. Jungkook's voice was deeper in person, with an air of friendliness and playfulness that had not been so apparent from his music. He had been kind to Jimin even when he acted like a complete idiot. He didn't look at him in disgust. He didn't frown at his ugly hands. He even took the letter that he had written with a smile and promised to read it. A part of Jimin knows that Jungkook is nice to all his fans, but it doesn't damper his mood.

Jimin takes the album back out of his bag and opens it. He pulls out the booklet which Jungkook signed only a few minutes ago and runs his fingers across it. The glossy surface feels pleasant against his skin. He flips through it, page by page, and traces the outlines of Jungkook's face with his eyes.

Jungkook's eyes were bigger in person. With more depth. Jungkook's nose was a bit higher too. His skin was slightly darker than the photo, and he seemed taller. Jimin finds himself smiling fondly and feeling a little bit silly for doing this on the bus, but he doesn't care. He eyes eventually land on the page with the autograph on it.

 

 

To Jimin,

I'm sure your eyes are beautiful

 

 

Jimin inhales sharply at the simple words. He knows that Jungkook's only being polite and that nothing changes the fact that his eyes are hideous, but there is a swelling sensation in his chest that makes him squirm in his seat. He wishes he was just as beautiful as Jungkook. If that were the case, he would be able to talk to Jungkook with ease without wearing a mask. They would make eye-contact and say something silly and just laugh about it. But it's OK. He has this now.

"So how was it?" Seokjin asks as soon as Jimin comes through the door. He doesn't comment on the ridiculously oversized mask or how the teen is holding the album tightly against his chest.

"It was...amazing," Jimin replies softly as he places the album gently back into his bag. "Thank you so much. Really, like really, thank you," he continues to thank the older man, because really, he is so grateful. He makes a mental note to save up to buy something for his manager. He knows that he won't be able to get anything nice, but he hopes that Seokjin will understand.

"Stop being so dramatic, Jimin," Seokjin replies with a grin and ruffles the smaller man's head, being careful not to be too rough. Seokjin grimaces inwardly at how brittle the smaller's boy hair feels.

Jimin nods timidly and quickly rolls up his sleeves to get ready to wash the pile of dishes that had accumulated during his absence. Seokjin doesn't miss how there is an alarmingly black and purple bruise right above Jimin's right wrist and how Jimin keeps the mask on. Seokjin feels a bit sick. Why is the mask not coming off? What's underneath it? A bruise uglier than the one on his arm? A gaping wound that he doesn't want to show? A broken nose?

Seokjin knows he should be doing something about Jimin. He's not clueless or dumb enough to miss the red flags everywhere, but what can he possibly do unless Jimin is willing to let him?

He swallows hard as he watches Jimin silently begin washing the dishes.

 

 

-

 

 

Seokjin finds himself back in the apartment a few hours later with a raging headache. It's been a while since he has felt so completely, utterly useless. He had spent hours trying to figure out the right thing to say to his favorite employee to get him to open up or at least some way to keep Jimin sage until he can come up with a viable solution. Jimin continued to thank him until the very end of his shift, and that somehow made Seokjin feel worse.

"Baby, you alright?"

Seokjin jumps at the sudden voice and then relaxes when he sees his boyfriend of three years enter the bedroom with his hair wet and a towel slung around his neck.

"Namjoon-ah," Seokjin begins lazily as his boyfriend climbs onto the bed next to him and kisses his temple

"Something's on your mind. What is it?" Namjoon asks gently, wrapping an arm around the other man. Seokjin pulls his lips into a thin line, not sure where to begin. He had been keeping the whole issue related to Jimin a secret, only because he was never a fan of talking about someone's private life without his or her permission. However, the entire situation is clearly beyond him. He trusts Namjoon with everything he has, and there's no question that Namjoon is the smartest person he knows.

Namjoon is watching him patiently, so Seokjin sighs and opens his mouth again.

"Remember that kid from the diner I told you about?"

"The one in the kitchen?" Namjoon asks after a brief moment.

"Yeah, that one. I don't know what to do about him."

"What do you mean? Is he causing trouble?" There is a small frown.

"I wish. He's too good. He's such a good kid."

"And that's a bad thing because...?"

"Joon, you know I don't like talking about other people's business, right?"

"Of course I do..." Namjoon slurs slowly, his frown deepening. Seokjin recognizes that look. It's the same one he gives everytime he feels protective.

"But I have to ask for your advice, because I don't know what to do."

"Okay...well, you know you can talk to me about anything."

"Here goes nothing," Seokjin begins and sighs lowly. "So this kid...I'm not sure where he's getting it from, but he always has these cuts and bruises. At first, I thought maybe he's picking fights with other kids, and I know that you told me to be careful with assuming things about people, but I know there's no way this kid is going around starting fights."

"Uh huh..."

"I thought maybe he was being bullied at school, and maybe he is, I don't know, but something tells me there's more than that. He's too quiet. I can barely hear him when he speaks and you would think that his parents would have said something if he came home all bruised up like that...but no, nothing, it only gets worse, which makes me think that maybe his family is the problem."

"Uh..wow, Jin, that's a lot of information all of a sudden..." Namjoon starts after a brief pause. Seokjin appreciates how Namjoon isn't freaking out on him. "Baby, why didn't you call the cops?" Seokjin knows that the tone Namjoon is using isn't meant to elicit guilt. He can only read curiosity and concern.

"I've been waiting for him to say something, and you know these things don't end well when you get the cops involved."

Namjoon remains silently, so Seokjin knows that he's right. They weren't naive children anymore. They were both well past the stage of beliving that the police can solve everything. There were priorities. There were hardly enough cops to handle murder cases and high-profile crimes. People simply didn't have enough time to pay attention to another kid who is
"probably being disciplined."

"What should I do? What's the right thing to do here?" Seokjin asks softly, his tone almost pleading. Namjoon looks both sympathetic and extremely bothered by the information, and Seokjin's not surprised. Namjoon has always believed in justice and helping those who are in need, and knowing that there is an actual kid who's likely a victim of child abuse is not going to settle well with him.

"I think I'm going to need some time to think about this...but in the meanwhile you're going invite him over for dinner."

"Are you being serious?" Seokjin asks slowly as Namjoon takes his hands into his own.

"Yes, I'm being serious. If we get to know him better, maybe he'll open up to you more," Namjoon explains sagely, rubbing a thumb against the back of his best friend's hand. "And I know you're worrying a lot, but it doesn't help the kid if you're being like this. For now, take care of him the best you can, and we'll find a way together, alright?"

"Why are you so awesome."

"I aim to please," Namjoon purrs with a grin.

"I'll definitely ask him. You sure you're OK with this?"

"Of course I am. It's just dinner, and plus you're cooking."

"Obviously. You're banned from the kitchen."

Seokjin laughs when Namjoon climbs on top of him and tickles him.

 

 

 

-

 

 


"Good work today, Kookie!"

"Stop calling me that!" Jungkook growls in mock anger and playfully kicks the back of his manager's seat.

"Why? It's so cute. Kookie, Kookie, Kookie!" His manager Hoseok cooes as he starts the car.

"Sometimes, I have a really hard time believing you're older than me," Jungkook mumbles and then yawns. His schedule has been hectic recently, with fan sign events, rehearsals, performances and TV show appearances, all one after the other. He loves his career, that's not up for debate, and he genuinely enjoys getting to meet his fans in person, but right now, he feels like he can sleep for the next month or so.

Jungkook takes the time to go over today's event and remembers a particular fan that had refused to show him his face. He has seen fans with ridiculous costumes or stuff on their heads that stood out, but never has he seen a fan who remained completely faceless. All he caught was a partial glimpse of the other man's eyes when the fan had jerked his head in surprise at something he had said. He was small. Probably a student. 15? 16? Maybe even younger. His voice was soft. Almost inaudible, but something in the voice made him feel strangely calmer.

He remembers the fan's hands. The nails were brittle and torn, with scratches and unidentifiable marks on his fingers. There was a finger that stood out because of its strange angle, and he found himself accidentally staring at it for too long. He knows he shouldn't have done that, since the fan hid his hands as soon as he found out.

Jungkook's not good with names, but he remembers "Jimin."

 

 

Jimin.

 

 

"I had a strange fan come today," Jungkook starts before be can stop himself. He has gotten so used to telling Hoseok everything, that sometimes, he just blurts out whatever is on his mind. Hoseok's cool though. He's not like other managers who try to control every aspect of their celebrity's lives. Hoseok is like a brother to him.

"Why, did another one try to make you sign a slave contract?" Hoseok asks nonchalantly. Both Jungkook and Hoseok are not strangers to not-so-typical fans. There have been countless efforts to kidnap the singer and even a couple attempts to put a tracking device on him, so nothing quite fazes Hoseok anymore. Of course this doesn't mean that Hoseok doesn't care. In fact, he does his best to make sure that Jungkook is safe, but he also resorts to playfulness and jokes to keep the young singer from becoming too paranoid. He knows what happens to celebrities once they get paranoid. They act out, they distance themselves from everyone else, and the next thing you know, they're found unconscious in their bathroom with a needle in their arm or white powder all over their faces.

"No, nothing like that. I couldn't see his face. He was wearing this mask and I couldn't even see his eyes through his hair."

"Oh, yeah I saw him too. Not the weirdest moment for you, but yeah, unusual," Hoseok replies, remembering the strange fan. He had been standing behind Jungkook during the whole event and had almost called for security when the man with his face completely hidden walked up to the singer. The only thing that kept him from totally freaking out was the fact that the kid was tiny. Tiny enough for both Hoseok and Jungkook to tackle down with ease. "What did he say?"

"Not much. He wouldn't even look at me."

"Oh. Probably just shy. A lot of your fans are."

"Yeah...I guess. I dunno," Jungkook mumbles as he playes with the letter the strange fan had given him. Usually, Hoseok collects all the letters and gives it to him once they arrive at home, but he kept this one in his own pocket. It's a simple, pale-blue envelope. No stickers, no fancy handwriting. Nothing on it other than his name written in tiny letters.

"Hey how long do we have 'till we r back home?" Jungkook asks, crossing his legs and sinking further into his seat.

"Uh. I'd say about 40 minutes. Why?"

"Nothing," Jungkook replies and opens the letter, figuring that he might as well spend the time wisely. Hoseok glances at the singer through the mirror but doesn't comment on it.

 

 

Dear Jungkook,

I can't believe I'm writing this letter. I can't believe I'm going to see you tomorrow. I know you're never going to get through reading this, but...I guess I just wanted to write one anyway. I'll be honest. I didn't get to buy your new album. I really was trying to save up for it as quickly as possibly, but a hyung gave it to me as a birthday gift...and well, here I am. I don't think I've ever been so lucky in my life. I swear I'll buy your next album. I'm going to start saving up for it now.

I'm not good with words, and I'll probably never be able to say what I want to say if I'm standing in front of you. So here it is. Your music has literally saved me. Thank you. Thank you for your music and everything you do. I don't know when I'll ever be able to save up to go to one of your concerts, but one day, perhaps one day, when I get away from all this, I might be able to. Hopefully I will be alive to see you on stage.

Sometimes, I listen to your music at night and pretend I'm not where I am. I imagine that I am like everyone else. When it hurts so much, your music helps me forget the pain. I know it's silly. I know that I can't be the only person who appreciates your voice, but I really, really do. I know I'm not in any position to make that kind of request...but I sincerely hope that you'll continue to sing for a long time. At least until I can escape. I should probably burn this letter. I don't even know why I'm still writing. Yeah...I should stop now.

Thank you again, and I'm very, very happy to see you.

 


Jungkook closes his eyes once he's finished reading the letter. He's gotten thosands of letters telling him how much they like his voice or his music, but this is the first time he's gotten one so...he doesn't know what to say. There's something about this letter that's bothering him. He doesn't know if it's all made-up or meant to spook him or something, but his brain is now definitely playing around with the possibility that something is wrong here.

And the hand.

The hand that was so...damaged. That couldn't have been made up. He doesn't know how Jimin's hands ended up that way, but he knows it's not normal.

 

 

What the hell...

 

 

 

-

 

 


For a moment, Jimin doesn't know where he is. He only sees white, and a flash of pain in his head that he's not entirely sure where it came from. He blinks furiously to focus his vision as he blindly and frantically reaches out for anything around him. There is a ring in his head now. It's a high-pitched sound that makes him feel even more disoriented. His vision slowly comes back, patch by patch, and there's just enough light to let him know that he's in his room. On the floor of his bedroom to be exact.

Before he can react to the new information, there is a blow to his stomach that sends him spine first into the nearest wall. He doesn't even have enough time to inhale before another blow is sent directly into his right ribcage. Jimin knows it's father, but he doesn't dare raise his head to make sure. He curls up, making his body as small as possible and instinctively wraps his head with his arms. He can't breathe. He knows he should force his body to inhale and exhale, but it feels as if his airway has given up on him entirely.

His father is screaming. He's shouting something at him. It's angry. It's menacing, but he can't seem to understand any of the words. Maybe it's the ringing in his ear or the relentless pain.

Then just as abruptly as it started, it all stops.

He hears footsteps fading away.

He checks to make sure that his lungs haven't collapsed. He inhales slowly, even if his body is telling him not to. He exhales slowly. It doesn't hurt as much as inhaling.

The pain is both dull and sharp. His entire body is throbbing to the point where he can't pinpoint where it's all coming from. What time is it? He wonders, because his brain is somehow incapable of thoughts any more complicated than that. It's dark outside. He had fallen asleep as soon as he got home. He had been a fool to think that he had escaped his father's wrath successfully for the day. It's probably around three in the morning. Shoot, he has to return to the diner in a few hours. He doesn't need to look in the mirror to see he looks like shit.

Jimin doesn't know how long he's been on the floor, but he eventually forces his limbs to move. He always checks his wrists first, and then his fingers. They all seem fine. He then moves his ankles. Not broken. Good. It hurts like hell, but it's still moving.

Jimin somehow manages to pull himself into a sitting position against the wall behind him. He knows that his spin hasn't snapped, but it damn well feels like it. He carefully places a hand on his stomach in an lame attempt to check that nothing has ruptured. His father has always been a big man. He's tall for a man his age, with broad shoulders that Jimin used to climb on as a child. His father wasn't always so angry. Jimin doesn't know exactly what happened. He was too young to comprehend the changes that were occuring in his life. It started with screaming. Bottles shattering. Then one day, when Jimin was still a small child, his mother held his hands and told him to stay strong. Jimin nodded and promised her that he would, because it made her smile. She was usually crying to herself for staring blankly at nowhere in particular. The next morning, Jimin found her still, cold body on her bed.


He wonders if she's much happier where she is now.


Jimin doesn't even realize that he' crying as he slumps back onto the cold floor.

 

 

-

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Seokjin thinks he's going to have a heart-attack when he sees Jimin walk through the door. The mask is gone, so now Seokjin knows that there isn't any hideous, gaping wound on the boy's face, but that thought is roughly pushed aside when his eyes land on what a terrible mess Jimin is. The boy looks to not have slept for the last decade, with bags under his eyes and his cheeks sunken. It's like seeing a ghost entering the building, and in all honesty, Seokjin is a bit scared.

He doesn't miss the limp either. Jimin usually limps, which at one point made Seokjin wonder if the kid had an actual condition, but the limp he's sporting now is so much worse. He's basically dragging his right leg across the floor. This, in turn, brings his eyes to the tattered shoes the boy is wearing, and he can clearly see that his parents are not willing to buy him anything nice.

Now that has him go from scared to plain angry. It's already bad that Jimin shows up to work wearing the same black hoodie all the time. The kid now can't even get shoes without holes in them? Seokjin isn't married and he's far from having children, but he knows that one day he will and he will do everything in his power to make sure that his son or daughter is well-fed, well-clothed and loved every single day.

"Jimin-ah..." Seokjin starts, hoping that Jimin misses how strained his voice sounds right now.

"Oh. Good morning, manager-nim. I'm so sorry that I'm late..." Jimin greets and apologizes weakly, bowing down and visibly flinching while doing so. Seokjin can't believe that the first thing out of the boy's mouth is an apology. He glances at the clock on the wall and sighs lowly when he sees that the boy is only a minute late. Jimin is such a good kid that he goes full-blown apology mode because he's a little over 60 seconds to the restaurant. Seokjin finds this especially frustrating, since the first half an hour of Jimin's shift is basically set aside for chit-chat while having breakfast.

"You're only 1 minute late, Jimin. Come on, have some breakfast with me," Seokjin begins gently and turns on his heels before the boy can protest. His chest tightens at the sound of awkward footsteps fumbling to keep up with him. He hates this. He hates pretending all of this is OK. That he doesn't see how much Jimin is hurting. But for now, he only slows down and waits for Jimin to enter the kitchen at a comfortable pace.

He spends the next few minutes watching Jimin eat. Jimin usually wolfs everything down, but right now, he's taking careful bites and chewing slowly. Almost too slowly. He doesn't miss how Jimin's eyes or lips twitch as he does so. Seokjin can physically feel his patience wearing thin. Very thin.

OK, that's it.

"Jimin, open your mouth," Seokjin commends with a tone that is perhaps a bit harsher than he has intended. He has to make an effort to push the anger and frustration out of his voice for the sake of the small boy sitting across from him.

"...I'm sorry?" Jimin asks after forcing his bite down his throat. Seokjin can hardly see the boy's eyes, but he guesses that they are probably wide open.

"Open your mouth. Right now," Seokjin presses on, making sure he keeps his tone firm enough to discourage the smaller man from coming up with some lame excuse to get out of situation.

"I,I...I don't u,understand...d,did I do s,something w,wro-wrong?"

Jimin's stuttering badly now, which is concerning. From experience, Seokjin knows that Jimin stutters when he gets nervous. The last time he stuttered so badly was when Jimin had accidentally dropped an old mug and broken the handle right off. Seokjin didn't even care about that mug, but Jimin had freaked out on him so badly that the boy spent the rest of his shift stuttering.
But what makes Seokjin more concerned is the fact that Jimin thinks he did something wrong. All Seokjin asked was to check the inside of the boy's mouth, and Jimin automatically assumes that he's at fault.

"No, that's not it. Jimin, will you please open your mouth for me?" Seokjin tries again with a gentler tone. He even forces a strained smile. "I just want to check something."

Jimin looks absolutely terrified, but listens anyway and opens his mouth slowly. Seokjin takes a hand to the boy's face, being careful not too be too quick or forceful, and keeps the mouth open wide enough to take a peek inside. He has to bite back a curse when he sees how badly the inside of Jimin's mouth is cut and swollen. It's a mess or angry, red flesh.

Seokjin very badly wants to just drag the boy to the nearest hospital and lock him up until he's treated, but the way Jimin's trembling under his fingers makes that train of thought come to a halt. He knows forcing Jimin to see a doctor is the logical choice, but it's clearly not the right choice. He can't risk Jimin never coming back to the diner. For now, he needs to take his boyfriend's advice and just get him to open up. He needs to slowly teach Jimin that what he's going through is not OK and that he deserves a safe home.

"Jimin," he starts slowly, releasing his grip and leaving Jimin to watch him in confusion. "We've been working together for some times now, right?"

Jimin nods unsurely, wondering if he's about to be fired. He can't get fired. He needs this job. his father will kill him if he brings in any less than he did last month.

"So, I would like to invite you for dinner. At my house."

"D,dinner...?" Jimin repeats, feeling uneasy about the sudden chance in topic.

"Are you cooking?"

Seokjin blinks in confusion. That was not Jimin's voice, and that definitely wasn't his words. He turns around to find his younger brother standing with a toothy grin. Where the hell did he come from?

"Taehyung? What are you doing here?"

"Was around. Decided to stop by. So, are you cooking? Please tell me Namjoon hyung isn't going to cook."

"Of course I'm not letting him cook," Seokjin replies with a roll of his eyes, almost forgetting that Jimin is still right there, listening to the conversation. Jimin looks lost and honestly a bit antsy as he fidgets in his seat.

"Ah, sorry, that was rude. Jimin, this is my brother Taehyung, Taehyung this is Jimin, he works here."

"Hello," Taehyung greets with one of his trademark boxy smiles and a wave of both his hands. Jimin manages to squeak out a "hello" before slumping lower into his seat. Taehyung cocks his head to the side, glances at his older brother and then frowns. This all make Seokjin extremely nervous, since Taehyung has a habit of not filtering his words. He crosses his fingers and hopes that Taehyung doesn't say anything stupid along the lines of "wow, you look like shit" or "what happened to your face?"

"How come you never cook for me?" Taehyung asks instead, which has the older man thanking higher power that his younger brother generally has the attention span of a hamster with Alzheimers.

"Because you never come around, you brat."

"Well, that's because you and Namjoon hyung's always suc-"

Seokjin kicks Taehyung in the leg. Hard. Taehyung yelps and goes down dramatically, yelling something about attempted murder. Jimin is staring at the two, and Seokjin knows that he's made a huge mistake when the smaller man begins visibly trembling. Why did he have to be so stupid? What made him think that displaying violence, albeit friendly, would be a good idea? Taehyung is the only person who knows that his brother is in a relationship with another man. Everyone else knows Namjoon as his sort of roommate and nothing else. He's worked very hard to keep it that way, knowing that people finding out about his sexuality will cost him everything.

So naturally, when Taehyung almost let that information slip, Seokjin instintictively went for the quickest way to shut him up.

"You're mean," Taehyung grumbles as he gets up. Jimin is leaning away from Seokjin with his fingers wrapped tightly around each other. Seokjin sighs and takes his palm to his forehead. This is not turning out well for anyone in the vicinity.

"My bad," Seokjin mutters lowly, knowing there's nothing else he can say to delete that memory from Jimin's head.

"So he's having dinner at your place?" Taehyung asks all of a sudden, eyeing Jimin.

"Well, I was asking him until you so rudely interrupted us."

"Oh. You should totally eat at hyung's place. He's really good."

"I don't w,want to in,intrude..."

"How would you be intruding if he invited you?" Taehyung asks blankly, and Seokjin almost appreciates Taehyung's blunt approach.

"I d,don't know..." Jimin replies dumbly, knowing that the strange boy in front of him has a valid point.

"So you're eating at hyung's place. Cool. Can I come?"

"Seriously, Tae?"

"Yeah. Free food. Duh." Taehyung replies as if it's the most natural thing in the world. Seokjin gives up.

"You're such a brat," Seokjin mumbles but smiles inwardly, quite pleased that his weird younger brother is somehow helping him with this. Jimin's gnawing at his lower lip, and Seokjin almost feels bad enough to say that Jimin doesn't need to listen to Taehyung, but he really, really needs the boy to come for dinner.

"So when's dinner?"

"I don't know. I have to ask Jimin right here."

"When's dinner, Jimin?" Taehyung asks instead, maintaining that blank look he wears everywhere.

"I d,don't mind..."

"So tonight? Awesome."

"Taehyung, come on," Seokjin chides, resisting the urge to punch his younger brother in the arm. He is very close to ruining the whole thing.

"Why? Why not tonight? Are you busy?" Taehyung asks Jimin, who now looks like he's going to vomit all over the floor. Seokjin gives his brother a warning look that effectively shuts him up.

"Jimin, take your time. You can tell me when's the best for you later, alright? Here, I'll let you finish your breakfast while I go talk to this brat."

"Bye Jimin! It was nice talking to you! I'll see you at dinner!" Taehyung is all smiles and waving at Jimin with a level of enthuasiam that seems almost too much for Sunday morning. Seokjin's not too surprised. Taehyung has always been that one kid who believes that saying "hello" to each other meant becoming friends for life.


Jimin watches the two figures retreating and then turns to stare at the half-eaten breakfast before him.

Jimin doesn't know what to make of the dinner invitation. He doesn't think that Seokjin is capable of bad intention, but he also has no idea why anyone would voluntarily spend any more time with him than necessary. Especially someone like Seokjin. Jimin knows that people like Seokjin is on a league of their own (the same one Jungkook's in). Seokjin is ridiculously good-looking. He's tall, with broad shoulders and eyes that melt customers' hearts. Seokjin is, without trying, both motherly and alpha-male in nature. In other words, Seokjin is an amazing human being who is probably drowning in people wanting to spend time with him. So why is he inviting him to his own house and volunteeting to cook dinner for him?

It doesn't make sense, and Jimin does not do well with things that do not make sense.

Then there's Seokjin's younger brother. Taehyung was it? Taehyung was strange too. He didn't comment on how bad he looked. There wasn't a hint of disgust or nervousness in his eyes. He sort of treated Jimin like someone he was already quite familiar with and apparently had no problem with having dinner with him as well.

A small part of him wants to go. He wants to take the hand that's reaching out and be a part of something that's not his father angrily kicking him around. Yet, he knows that his actions are not without consequences. His father would be furious if he ever found out.

"Hey, Jimin, sorry about that." Jimin jumps at the sudden voice but relaxes when he sees Seokjin walking back into the kitchen. "Taehyung's a little strange, but he's a good kid."

"You...don't look alike," Jimin comments softly. Seokjin's glad that the stuttering is gone.

"We get that a lot. Sometimes, I have a hard time believing we're related. Anyway, he seems really excited about the whole dinner thing," Seokjin adds with a soft smile. He's not lying. Taehyung, for some reason, had taken a liking to the quiet boy and had babbled on and on about how Seokjin needs to make this dinner happen pronto.

"C,can I go tomorrow?" Jimin blurts out and inhales sharply. He has no idea where that came from. "I'm s,sorry..t,that was du-dumb..."

The stuttering is back.

"Not dumb at all. In fact, you're saving me from having to listen to Tae badgering me to invite you more quickly."

"Oh..."

"Good. Tomorrow's Monday, right? When can you come to the restaurant? I don't even know when kids finish school these days."

"I...I c,can come by five..."

"Excellent. Tomorrow, five, I'll pick you up from here, alright?" Seokjin confirms, wondering if Jimin picked tomorrow because the diner closes on Mondays or because he's actually eager to have dinner with him. Either way, he's not about to complain.

 

 

 


-

 

 

 


"OK, you look like shit, what the fuck."

Jungkook grimaces at his stylist's sharp tone and flashes what he hopes is an apologetic smile.

"Seriously, what the fuck man. I thought your schedule finished early last night."

Jungkook lets only a handful of people talk to him that way, and Min Yoongi, the currently angry stylist, is one of them. Yoongi is one of the best in the field and also notorious for his language and bluntness. Jungkook doesn't mind it though. He needs someone like Yoongi and Hoseok to tell him like how it is and keep him humble.

"I had a lot on my mind."

"Like what," Yoongi mumbles, taking out his collection of concealers to hide the bags under the singer's eyes.

"I just met this fan, and I dunno, I can't stop thinking about-"

"You're in love with a fan?" Yoongi asks with a not-so-elegant snort.

"No, not like that. Jesus. Long story short, there's this male fan with this black mask and long-ass hair, and I can't see his face, and he has these fucked up hands, and he gave me this letter that's all cryptic but all dark and-"

"...Are you high? Goddamn it, Jeon Jungkook, what the fuck did I say about drugs?"

"No, I'm not high, what's wrong with you," Jungkook replies with a scowl at the look of utter disgust and disappointment on the stylist's face. Yoongi simply shrugs and begins dabbing concealer under the singer's eyes.

"Anyway, I got the feeling that his life is in danger or something."

"Not the first time a fan has done some weird shit to get your attention."

Yoongi does have a point. Most fans were quite normal in that they said HI, told him how much they love him, gave him presents and letters with a shy smile. There there were a few who were a lot more creative. One time, a fan handed him a collar with a leash attached to it and told him to put it on her and make her his bitch. Surprisingly, not the weirdest thing he's seen, but still quite strange.

"But it wasn't like that...it was...I don't know. It's hard to explain."

"I see where you're coming from, but what the hell's the point. You're never going to see him again," Yoongi counters lazily and then cusses while looking for the right foundation.

"You don't know that," Jungkook retorts, and it's true. Many of his fans come to multiple fan signs or performances. He knows for a fact that some show up to pretty much everything he's in. Perhaps the strange boy will come back and hopefully be less cryptic?

"True, but I think you have more important things to focus on. Like how you look like total shit right now and I'm going to need more time. Why are you on such tight schedule? Where the fuck is Jung Hoseok? I'm, going to bitch-slap that piece of shit."

Jungkook laughs at this. Both he and Yoongi know competely well that Hoseok isn't responsible for the hectic schedule. In fact, Hoseok has been doing his best to persuade the company to go a little easy on the schedule, and Yoogi and Hoseok are actually really close friends in real life.

"Are you talking shit about me again?" Hoseok chooses that exact moment to enter the room, furiously typing away at his phone.

"When the fuck am I not?" Yoongi retorts with a smirk, making Hoseok roll his eyes dramatically. "And can you please take care of your singer? Look how shitty he looks."

"Don't listen to him, Jungkook. You look perfect, as always."

"Why are you so gross," the stylist grumbles, moving onto layering on foundation.

"Why are you such a dick?"

"Fuck off, Jung Hoseok," hisses Yoongi but there's no actual malice in his voice. Jungkook, having gotten used the two's bickering only chuckled lowly at the interaction.

"See?"

"It's just you. Your face just brings this side out of me."

"What are you talking about, I'm adorable." Jungkook glances at his manager through the mirror and see that Hoseok is putting on those puffy cheeks again. He's almost certain that Hoseok does that just to annoy Yoongi.

"This is why you're single."

"So mean. And you're single too, in case you've forgotten."

"By choice."

"I beg to differ."

"Your opinions don't matter here. Why do you not understand that?" Yoongi's condescending tone is back, and Jungkook has to bite back a laughter.

"Jungkook! Yoongi's being mean to me!"

"Sorry hyung, can't really help you there," the singer says with a shrug, because really, nobody wants to get on the stylist's bad side. Especially when Yoongi is his only hope of going on stage in the next hour with a face that is somewhat presentable.

"Smart choice, Kookie. Always remember that I'm totally capable of fucking up your face."

"Why is no one here on my side?" Hoseok cries out dramatically, throwing his arms out for good measure.

"Why don't you go think about that in that corner over there."

"Nah, I'd rather stay right here and be adorable."

"Seriously, fuck off, Jung Hoseok"

 

 

 


-

 

 

 

Jimin is so nervous that it takes everything in his power to stop himself from either puking all over himself or run away from the vicinity as quickly as possible. Seokjin had picked him up as promised and they are now standing in front of Seokjin's apartment. The older man is watching him wordlessly, probably giving him a chance to collect himself before entering the building. Jimin appreciates that Seokjin isn't forcing him to do anything, but at the same time, he can't ignore how pathetic he must seem in Seokjin's eyes.

God, he's such a loser that he can't even enjoy dinner with some (hopefully) nice people.

Jimin exhales slowly and forces his shoulders to relax. Seokjin, seeing this, smiles encouragingly and then opens the door. The first thing Jimin hears is the sound of two people laughing. He trails after the older man and see Taehyung and another man watching something on a phone and cackling like a pair of lunatics.

"Guys, Jimin's here!" Seokjin calls out to the oblivious duo. Jimin swallows hard when both eyes turn to focus on him. He has already seen Taehyung, so his eyes naturally land on the other man. The man's tall. Perhaps even taller than Seokjin. He's quite different from his manager. The man's features aren't as soft or motherly, and this makes Jimin nervous.

"H,hello..." Jimin manages to squeeze out as he hangs his head low. He's been invited to this dinner. The least he can do is be polite.

"Welcome, welcome. I've heard so much about you, Jimin. I'm Namjoon. I live with Seokjin right here," Namjoon greets, and somehow, Jimin feels a lot more comfortable when the low voice reaches his ears. He looks up and waves shyly. He only jumps back when he sees Taehyung march towards him with his arms wide open.

"Taehyung, calm down," Namjoon reaches out with a long arm and pulls the hyperactive boy behind. Taehyung whines but is promptly ignored, and Jimin is grateful that he doesn't have to deal with sudden physical contact.

"Ba- I mean, Seokjin, how much time do you need in the kitchen?" Namjoon asks and coughs nervously. He had almost let the word "baby" slip. He really needs to be more careful around guests.

"15? 20 minutes? I got most of the things ready. Tae, come and help," Seokjin answers and practically drags his protesting younger brother out the living room, leaving a determined Namjoon and nervous Jimin to themselves.

"So Jimin, I hear that you've been helping Seokjin out a lot at the restaurant," Namjoon starts, motioning for the other boy to take a seat on the couch. Seokjin has told him countless times how much Jimin doesn't just stop at washing dishes. No. The boy keeps himself busy by organizing the kitchen, volunteering to run errands, helping out with preparing ingredients and generally making sure that Seokjin isn't overworking. Namjoon, without having even seen the boy, had taken a liking to him.

"M,me? N,no..I ju-just...I just wash the d,dishes..." Jimin replies modestly and asks himself why Seokjin would say something that nice about him.

Namjoon watches the boy and grimaces internally. The kid apparently has no idea how useful he is around the diner. And then there's the stuttering. The boy looks absolutely terrified just speaking to him, and Namjoon wonders if it's his face or his demeanor.

"I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit here," Namjoon replies with a sad smile. "Anyway, I hope you're hungry. Jin's been spending the whole day cooking up something in the kitchen. I wish I knew what he's been making, but I'm banned from going into the kitchen."

"B,banned? Why?"

"Uh, let's just say that the last time I tried to cook, we had to spend a month's salary redoing the entire kitchen."

"O,oh..."

"Yeah, I don't know what it is. Seokjin and I are still trying to figure out how I managed to burn everything down but not the food."

To this Jimin cracks a smile, and Namjoon doesn't miss it.

"Are you two...re,related?"

"Nah, friends. We've known each other for some time, but we only started living together a little over a year ago."

"That must be nice..."

Jimin's voice is barely above a whisper, but Namjoon hears it loud and clear. So there is hope for this little man afterall. Namjoon had been worried that Jimin might have shut himself off completely from everyone else, but it seems that a part of Jimin is still seeking social interaction. Good. It might seem like such a little, insignificant thing, but it's at least something Namjoon and Seokjin can work with.

"You should come over more often. It gets boring with just the two of us being lazy as hell," Namjoon continues, hoping that it sounds inviting enough. Jimin nods shyly, and Namjoon is satisfied with that for the time being.

"So which school do you go to, Jimin?"

"Um...Bang,Bangtan High."

"Oh, so you'll see Taehyung around then. He's actually moving into the nighborhood next month and is transferring to that school. Please watch out for him and make sure he doesn't do anything stupid. And by stupid, I mean attempting to start a disco party in the middle of class or testing how many gums he can chew at once."

Jimin blinks, registering the new set of information. So Taehyung will be in his school. How old is Taehyung?

"Seokjin tells me Taehyung and you're the same age. Hopefully you two will have be in the same class, huh?"

Jimin is both excited and nervous about going to the same school as Taehyung. He's been so alone at school that knowing someone sounds like something he can definitely get used to, especially since Taehyung seems like a genuinely nice guy. But the problem here is also that he's a total loser. Taehyung will pick up on this and probably tell Seokjin, and he doesn't want Seokjin being disappointed in him. Nobody wants to hire the school loser.

Plus, what guarantee is there that Taehyung will want to be friends with him?

"Y,yeah.." Jimin answers lamely, fidgeting with his fingers. Namjoon's eyes are automatically drawn to the crooked finger, but he averts his eyes just as quickly. He doesn't want to make Jimin feel self-conscious. Well, anymore self-conscious than he already is anyway.

"I'm counting on you Jimin to keep Tae out of trouble. Seokjin is already freaking out about sending his brother to a new school," Namjoon says with a wink, making Jimin smile sheepishly and nod in agreement.

"Dinner's served!" Taehyung announces dramatically as he enters the living. Jimin follows Namjoon to the dining area and inhales loudly when he sees the array of plates which greet him. Seokjin must've really spent the entire day cooking, and now he just feels guilty.

"Sit, sit," Seokjin orders, motioning for everyone to take a seat. "Eat before the food gets cold!"

Jimin sees Namjoon put a hand on Seokjin's back and lean in perhaps a bit too closely but doesn't comment on it. He just assumes that the two must be very close.

"I wanna sit next to Jiminie!" Taehyung basically shouts, rushing to grab the chair next to Jimin. Jimin jumps at the sudden noise but otherwise remains quiet. Taehyung sits down and pats the seat next to him with a boxy smile, eagerly waiting for the other boy to sit as well.


"Good news, Tae," Namjoon starts as he picks up his chopsticks. "It seems that Jimin right here might be your classmate starting next month."

"Really? Sweet. Which class are you in? I wanna be in the same class."

"So you can bother him?" Seokjin asks with a roll of his eyes, and to this, Taehyung very maturely sticks his tongue out. "But anyway, that's good news! Jimin, please take good care of him. He's my brother, but he's a total weirdo."

"Am not!"

"You are," Namjoon and Seokjin counter simultanously, making Taehyung slump in his seat with a pout.

"I'd feel so much better knowing you'll watch out for him," Seokjin says to Jimin, who blushes at the responsibility. He's sure that Seokjin is just being nice, but he can still feel good about it, right?

"How come you cover your eyes with your hair?" Taehyung asks point-blank. The couple sitting across physically winces at the question. Goddamn it, Tae.

Jimin doesn't answer, but instead sinks lower into his seat.

"But your eyes are so pretty," Taehyung continues, oblivious to the shift in mood. Seokjin opens his mouth to stop his younger brother, but Namjoon holds him back with a gentle squeeze of his thigh under the table.

Jimin looks mortified.

Taehyung, being Kim Taehyung, stretches his hands out and push the smaller boy's hair back, revealing the eyes Jimin had been trying so hard to hide. Jimin blinks owlishly, trying to register what's happening. Both Seokjin and Namjoon are watching him, and he wants to die in embarrassment.

"Taehyung's right, you really do have pretty eyes," Namjoon begins without missing a beat. Seokjin just nods dumbly, because really, he has to fight the urge to teach his younger brother about basic manners, personal space, and all that stuff. He agrees with his boyfriend though. Jimin does have adorable eyes.

"See? You look so much better like this," Taehyung continues, refusing to let go of his new friend's face. Jimin struggles to break free, but he soon finds out that Taehyung is a lot stronger than he looks.

"OK, let Jimin go, Taehyung, you're being rude" Seokjin chides, trying his best to keep his tone from sounding too harsh. Jimin's already looking very nervous as he is. He doesn't want to make it worse. Taehyung obliges with a pout but doesn't forget to flash Jimin a grin, which has Jimin quickly covering his eyes with his hair again.

"I'm sorry. You can have my shrimp," Taehyung offers, pushing his plate towards the other boy. Jimin shakes his head wordlessly. He feels lightheaded. He doesn't trust his voice to let out anything more than a squeak. It's been forever since anyone's touched him like that, and he doesn't know what to do with himself.

"Taehyung, finish your food. There's more for Jimin if he wants any," Seokjin moderates and rolls his eyes when Taehyung shoves the shrimp into his mouth.

"Jimin, is there anything you need?" Seokjin asks with his trademark motherly voice.

"I...m,may I use...use t,the rest..restroom?"

"Of course. It's right over there," Seokjin points out, his smile not faltering. He knows that Jimin isn't even looking at his face, but he keeps it up anyway. Jimin manages to remove himself from the chair and make a beeline to the bathroom, blushing when he hears Namjoon commenting about how polite he is.

"Kim Taehyung!" Seokjin whisper-hisses as soon as he hears the door click.. Taehyung looks up from his plate with a look that clearly reads "huh? what's going on?"

Seokjin pinches the bridge of his nose. God, he still doesn't understand how both he and his brother are the results of the same gene pool.

"Taehyung, you do not go touching people like that!"

"Why not?"

"Because it's rude!"

"But you guys touch each other all the time," Taehyung counters with a serious look. Jin doesn't even know where to begin with his brother.

"That's because we're dating, Tae. You two are not dating."

"But we're friends!"

"No Tae, you guys just met, and maybe you guys will become friends-"

"Best friends," Taehyung corrects with a look of determination.

"-but not yet, Tae. You need to respect his personal space."

"But I was curious! And his eyes are pretty."

"That's not the point here, Tae. You can make people feel uncomfortable by doing something like that," Namjoon tries, putting a calming hand on his boyfriend's back.

"But he does have pretty eyes, right?"

Both Seokjin and Namjoon open their mouths to reply but stop when they hear the bathroom door opening and closing again. The rest of the dinner goes by a tad bit more smoothly. Taehyung kept his limbs to himself and managed to say something stupid only three more times. Namjoon faciliated the conversation like a pro, encouraging Jimin to join them. Seokjin continued to be the mom of the group and watched Jimin eat with a swelling sense of pride.

Once dinner's over, Seokjin and Namjoon mutually decides that it might be a good idea to let Taehyung and Jimin spend some time together. They ignore Jimin's plea to at least let him do the dishes and instead sends the two boys to go chill elsewhere. Taehyung, glad to be off dishes duty, drags his new friend to the guest room, which is basically Taehyung's room.

Jimin watches as Taehyung rummages through a drawer and pull out a notepad.

"OK, so which class are you in? I need to make sure I'm in that class too," Taehyung begins with a look of determination and opens to a blank page. "Wait, I need a pen. Hold on. OK, found one, cool. So which one?"

"...A,are you sure?" Jimin asks quietly, because really, why would Taehyung want to spend all day at school with him? Not to mention that it would be social suicide to be seen around with Jimin. Other students know Jimin as "that one creepy kid." Taehyung, on the other hand, has such potential.

"Yeah I'm sure. Unless you're in some super advanced class. Then I'm not sure I can..."

He's not in any super advanced class. It's pretty much impossible to get ahead when he's spending so many hours working part-time or hiding from his father (or getting beaten). He hopes that Taehyung doesn't think he's a dumbass on top of everything.

"OK good, awesome, I'll make sure they put me in this class," Taehyung announces with a boxy grin once Jimin's tells him. He looks so excited that Jimin almost gets excited as well, but he doesn't get his hopes up. Taehyung's probably just being nice because he's working for his brother. Yeah, that must be it.

 

 

 

-

 

 


Jungkook's amazed that he can still move his limbs.

He knows he's walking, but he doesn't know how. Hoseok is watching him warily, with his hands flailing about as if getting ready to catch him if he falls. Usually, he can't wait till comebacks, because nothing in life is better than being on stage, but this particular month has been nothing short of utterly hectic. He knows that Hoseok is doing his best to bargain with the company, but the company is getting greedy. It knows that Jungkook needs to rake in as much as possible, as soon as possible, before his fame runs out, and so the company is not above forcing the singer to perform, meet fans, record videos to post online, go on talkshows and also find time to practice. All this while he eats less than 800 calories to make sure that he isn't caught on camera bloated or gaining weight. He fucking hates that cameras make him look fatter.

"Jungkook, just wait till we get to the car, alright? There are fans taking pictures. Smile," Hoseok whispers. Jungkook nods and looks up and smiles at the fans, forcing his arms to move and wave at them. Hoseok hates that he has to make the singer do this, but he has no other choice. Expressionless singers caught on camera start rumors. Rumors about how the singers have become cocky. That gets the company involved, and that's never a good thing.

They safely make it to their van, and Jungkook all but collapses onto his seat. Hoseok is seriously concerned but doesn't comment on it and stays quiet to give the other a chance to fall asleep. It doesn't take long. Jungkook's out cold in no time, and Hoseok drives especially slowly back to their dorm.

Hoseok has to half-carry, half-drag the singer into their place, and the managers finds it to be a lot harder than it seems. Jungkook's not fat by any means, but he is tall and all lean muscles, and Hoseok isn't exactly well-built for a man his height.

"Kookie, I know you're tired as hell but you need to eat something. You haven't eaten all day," Hoseok begins, setting the singer onto the couch. Jungkook watches his blearily and shakes his head slowly. "Kookie, come on. Please?" he tries again.

"I...I really just wanna sleep," Jungkook drawls out, his voice tight. Hoseok nods and guides the singer to his bed. He doesn't bother telling Jungkook to wash the makeup off his face or to get changed. Instead, he tucks the singer in and thank the heavenly spirits that Jungkook's schedules doesn't start till 7pm the next day.

When Jungkook opens his eyes again, he finds it impossible to keep them open. He knows he's in his room. Everything, from the pillow he's lying on to the blanket he's snuggled in are familiar enough. He instinctively reaches for his pocket and sighs in relief when he find his phone. The screen goes on and he winces at the sudden lumination, but does his best to read the time anyway.

It's almost 3pm. Jungkook needs to recap the events of last night to figure out why he's waking up so late. He had gotten 3 hours of sleep the previous night. That was followed by an early morning rehearsal, actual stage recording, a quick fansign event in Ilsan, a talkshow recording, a radio guest appearance, a live music performance and recording a new drama series. It all finished at around 4 in the morning and he remembers getting on the van. Everything else after that is wiped from his memory. He naturally assumes that Hoseok must have hauled him in.

It's 3. He knows he needs to get his ass up soon and get to his next schedule, but the bed feels so nice and he doesn't hear Hoseok getting ready to burst through the door and drag him out of bed. So he remains lying down, burrowing deeper into his blanket.

Then his stomach reminds him that he's starving to death. There is actual pain in his stomach now. He is about to ask Hoseok for food when he receives a message from Hoseok saying that he's at the company and that Jungkook needs to feed himself for the time being. Well damn.

Jungkook doesn't have the patience or the stamina to get properly ready, so he simply puts on a snapback and a mask and makes his way out the apartment. He checks to make sure that he has his wallet and his phone and march right out. He doesn't care where, he just needs to find something with a lot of carbs and fat. The company and their strict dietary guideline can go fuck themselves for the time being.

As soon as Jungkook is outside, he looks around to check that there aren't any fans waiting for him. No one. Nice.

He purposefully avoids big restaurants or places that are by the main road, because he can't risk being spotted looking like a total bum. He instead meanders into the alleyway and then finds himself cursing under his breath when he finds that all the restaurants are either closed on Sundays or closed until dinnertime. He's about to give up and dare going to a bigger place when he spots a small diner that he somehow had completely missed until now. It's strangely welcoming, and from what he sees through the windows, there's no one else around. With a quick fistpump, he enters and is greeted by a man who looks to be way too handsome to be working at a diner.

"Welcome, take a seat where you'd like. I'll get you the menu."

Jungkook takes a seat, glad that the place isn't waited by a young woman. It's not that he doesn't like them. Again, he can't be recognized looking like this.

The man brings the menu as promised and Jungkook fights the urge to order everything on it. He compromises by ordering what seems to be the most fattening and waits for his food to arrive. The diner really is quiet, with only music softly playing in the background. He likes the place already and thinks hopefully he can become a regular here if the food is any good.

The food eventually arrives and Jungkook is pleasantly surprised. He's now confused as to why the place isn't bustling with people. He wolfs it down, savoring every bite, because this is exactly what his body needs right now.

From the corner of his eyes, he sees the good looking man at the counter, filing through some paper. The man then calls for someone in the kitchen. Jungkook doesn't really focus though, because food. He however doesn't miss another figure emerging from the back. He's much smaller than the good-looking waiter and has hair that's covering most of his eyes. The kid's almost paperthin, and Jungkook briefly wonders if this place is some kind of a cover for a slave ring.

He watches the interaction between the two men, now that he can afford to slow down with his fork. He's developed a habit of paying attention to his surroundings, because he needs to always know if anyone is taking a picture of him or if there is a deranged fan waiting to jump him or kidnap him. The taller man is telling the smaller man something with an apologetic smile, and the smaller one nods before taking what seems to be a credit card and making his way towards the tables.

Jungkook watches and notices a slight limp.

The boy, man or whatever walks past him and then stops just before reaching the door. He turns around and asks the taller man "Should I get an extra just in case?" to which the taller man answers, "Yeah, Good idea."

Jungkook frowns. He's heard that voice somewhere. It's strangely familiar and inexplicably unsettling. Jungkook's very sensitive to people's voices since he makes a career out of his own. He's sure that he's heard it before.

The smaller man reaches for the door handle and that's when Jungkook sees it.

The crooked finger.

Not many people have a fourth finger crooked at an angle like that.

Jungkook wants to give himself a pat on the back for being so observant, but he's too busy trying to process what had just happened. It's the fan. The voice and the hair and the finger. It has to be that strange fan. The singer is reeling now, and he has an out of body experience once the realization hits him. What are the odds of randomly stumbling across the one fan that has been on his mind for the past few weeks?

Jungkook's excited, but he doesn't even know why. It's not as if he's going to introduce himself to the fan (always a bad idea), and he's definitely not going to ask him about the letter (even worse). So why?

"Will you be needing anything else?"

He jumps at the sound of the tall man's voice and shakes his head vigorously. He was very close to asking if the boy that just ran by works here, but he has no way of asking that without sounding like a total creep. So he just continues to shove food into his mouth and wait for the fan to come back.

About 10 minutes later, when Jungkook is slowly sipping his water to buy more time, the teen is back in the building with a plastic bag in his left hand and a credit card in his right.

"Thanks, Jimin," the tall man says, and Jungkook now knows for a fact that the guy is indeed that fan. He cranes his neck to take a better look but with no luck.

 

The boy scurries right into the kitchen, out of his sight.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text



 

The next time Jimin's in Seokjin and Namjoon's apartment, Jimin is sporting a rather concerning bruise on his jaw. The couple pretends to not notice, in an attempt to make the teen more comfortable in their home. Fortunately, despite the bruise, Jimin looks visibly more comfortable than his last visit. Seokjin, having heard that Jimin's father would be out of town for the weekend, invited the boy home for a sleepover (despite knowing how creepy it all might seem to those who had no knowledge of the teen's circumstances). Namjoon had been on board with the idea and even handpicked a few movies they can watch together, all with popcorn, fancy chocolate truffles, three different bags of gummy bears/worms and a bowl of chips. Seokjin doesn't approve of having so much junk food at home, but he makes an exception just for Jimin.

Jimin's on the couch with them, his eyes fixated on the screen before him. The couple's fairly sure that the kid has never seen a movie before, judging from how utterly fascinated the teen is by the first Avengers movie. Namjoon and Seokjin exchange glances and smile at how cute the teen is, hogging the popcorn bowl and robotically shoving popcorn into his mouth. Seokjin sees that the bowl is almost empty.

"Hey, Jimin, do you want another bowl?" the older man asks and stifles a laughter when Jimin almost drops the bowl in surprise.

"H,huh? Ca...can I?"

"Of course you can. Namjoon decided it would be a good idea to buy a huge box from Costco, and now we have way too much. Pause the movie for me!" Seokjin and Namjoon have watched the movie a couple of times already, but they pretend that it's their first time for Jimin's sake.

"Oh...OK. Y,yes please..." Jimin says shyly and hands the bowl to Seokjin, who takes it and retreats to the kitchen.

"You like popcorn, huh?" Namjoon asks in a teasing voice as he hands the other a bag of gummy worms to keep him occupied until a new batch of popcorn arrives.

"Y,yeah...I've never had it before...but it's really good," Jimin replies with a smile, taking the bag of snacks eagerly. Namjoon has to fake a cough to stop himself from blurting out "You've never had popcorn before??" because really, who hasn't had popcorn? Namjoon is starting to imagine Jimin being held captive at home in a cage, and it is not a pleasant image.

"Well, you're free to microwave some everytime you come over. You heard Jin. We have way too much."

"R,really?" Jimin asks hopefully, and Namjoon can't help but chuckle.

"Yeah really. You'd be doing us all a favor."

"Thank you," Jimin replies with a smile, and the way the teen's lips curve and stretch across his face catches Namjoon off guard. Who would've expected the boy to have such a radiant smile hiding beneath all the bruises and nervous lip-biting?

"So Jin tells me that you're a fan of Jungkook."

"Oh...yeah," Jimin answers, suddenly embarrassed. He knows that it's quite unusual for a guy to be so obesssed with a male singer, but he can't help it. He's more surprised that Seokjin would share information about him with Namjoon.

"Have you ever seen him live?"

"No...I don't think I ever will." It's true. Jimin doesn't think that he'll ever be given the opportunity to see the singer live on stage. First off, concert tickets have jumped too high (alongside Jungkook's popularity), and from what he's seen on blogs, tickets become sold out in a blink of an eye. He doesn't have the skills or the right internet connection to compete against devoted fangirls.

"You don't know that."

"Y,yeah...maybe."

Seokjin enters the living room with a fresh batch of popcorn and hands the bowl over to the younger man. Jimin takes it, not forgetting a sincere thank you, and the three resumes the movie.

"You up for the second one?" Namjoon asks once the first movie is finished. Jimin nods timidly while also taking the half-eaten bag of gummy bears the older man hands him. The three of them begin the second movie, and halfway in, Seokjin feels something against his shoulder. He looks down and sees Jimin fast asleep against his shoulder, his hands still wrapped around the bowl of popcorn.

"He's sleeping," Seokjin announces quietly, drawing Namjoon's attention. Namjoon cranes his neck to check and then lets out a low chuckle.

"Seems like he had a rough week, huh?" Namjoon asks with a father-like smile. "We should probably put him in the guest room."

"Yeah. Alright, help me out?"

Namjoon nods and makes his way towards the teen. He picks the boy up with relative ease and makes a comment to his boyfriend about how light the kid is. Too light. A growing teenager shouldn't be so easy to pick up.

They tuck him in bed and re-enter the living room. Seokjin sighs and puts his head against his boyfriend's shoulder.

"I think tonight went well," Seokjin whispers and smiles when Namjoon wraps his strong arms around him.

"Yeah. I'm starting to think that the kid might open up. And I know I'm supposed to be nice and all, but I really, really fucking hate his parents."

"...Me too," Seokjin sighs into the other man's neck. "I just don't understand how anyone can treat that boy like that. He's so, so sweet."

"He really is. I told him he can have popcorn whenever he comes over. Hopefully, that's enough to make him come around more, huh?"

"You're sweet," Seokjin purrs and gives his boyfriend a quick kiss.

"Did you know he's never had popcorn before?"

"What do you mean?" Seokjin asks with a frown, because that just doesn't make any sense. Everyone's had popcorn.

"I know. It's hard to believe, but apparently the kid's never had popcorn. I don't even know how that's possible."

"This is all so messed up."

"Yeah...it really is. At least he's getting some sleep, right? We should probably head to bed too if the two of you want to get to work on time."

"Is it totally weird that I want to take Jimin out for a movie or I dunno, an amusement park or something like that?"

"Not that weird. I'd do it," Namjoon replies earnestly, because something about Jimin brings out the fatherly side out of him. In fact, he's sure that Jin's undergoing the exact same thing. "But yeah, let's just sleep for now and we can plan that for the future, deal?"

"Deal. We'll clean up in the morning. Oh, and tomorrow, you get your special pancakes for being so awesome."

"Are you being serious? 'Cause you can't get my hopes up and then not give me your special pancakes."

"I'm very serious. Now, carry me to bed."

"Yes, your highness."

Seokjin laughs as Namjoon lifts him up bridal style and makes his way to their bedroom.

The next morning, Jimin finds himself at the breakfast table staring at a legitimate stack of chocolate chip pancakes, topped with fresh berries and maple syrup. He quietly watches Seokjin offer Namjoon orange juice and nods when he's offered a glass as well. It's so peaceful and picture-perfect that Jimin doesn't know what to do with himself.

"This right here, is the real deal," Namjoon begins, pointing at the pancakes with his fork. Jimin whole-heartedly agrees as he takes a bite.

"Oh, stop it," Seokjin chides playfully and pours himself a cup of coffee. "Do you like pancakes, Jimin?"

"Y,yeah," Jimin answers. He's never had pancakes before, but it's amazing.

"So Jimin, anything you want to do after work? We can catch a late night movie if you want," Namjoon suggests, shoving a forkful into his mouth. Seokjin nods alongside the taller man.

"A,after work?"

"Yeah. You guys both get off at what, 10-ish? I'll pick you two up and we can go watch something. Let me check the schedule after breakfast. Then we can come back here, pig out on something and get some sleep."

"...I...I can stay here to-tonight?" Jimin asks timidly, because there's no way that the two men are inviting him for another sleepover, right? He is still trying to wrap his head around the fact that he was allowed to sleep over last night.

"Yeah, of course," Jin replies, as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. "Unless you don't want to."

"N,no i,it's not, not th,that..."

"So we're on for a late night movie?" Namjoon confirms with a grin. "Been a while, huh, Jin."

"Yeah, we've been so lazy. Should we call Tae too?"

"You better, before he finds out we left him out of this."

"Good idea. Jimin, would you like more orange juice?"

"Y,yes please."

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

Jungkook thinks that perhaps all the dieting and lack of sleep have rendered him stupid.

There's no other explanation for why he's back at the diner again, ordering the same fatty food he really shouldn't be eating and waiting to get a glimpse of the mystery fan. It's, in all honesty, pointless and absurd, especially when he should be taking a nap to recover before his insane schedule tomorrow.

Instead, Jungkook finds himself tapping his fingers against the table and watching the ridiculously handsome man wiping the counter. Forget the fan, why the hell is someone that good looking even working here? He should be on TV.

Jungkook eats as slowly as he possibly can, ignoring how cold the food has gotten. He's waiting for the good-looking man to retrieve his fan from the kitchen or something along that line. He doesn't even know why he's so intrigued by the other man, but he just is, and he's always been the type of person to seek answers.

Jungkook almost drops his fork in surprise when another person enters the otherwise empty diner. The man's tall, with blond hair and a dimple on his smiling face, and as soon as he enters, the man at the counter perks up and greets him with an equally bright smile.

"What are you doing here already?" the handsome man asks, and the other man replies that he wanted to come early and help out with closing the shop. Jungkook holds his breath to listen to the conversation better, because he hears the handsome man call for Jimin.

The fan is back in the hall, and Jungkook can see that the three of them are quite familiar with each other.

"Alright Jimin, here's the deal," Namjoon begins, leaning against the counter. "There's no good movies out so I planned something else for tonight."

"O,oh..." Jimin seems slightly disappointed, but Namjoon promises him that they will go when something worth watching opens next week.

"So, instead, I bought a DVD we can watch together while we pig out."

"What are we watching?" Jin asks, handing Namjoon a glass of orange juice.

"Jungkook's newest concert DVD," Namjoon replies with a dimpled grin and barks out a laughter when he sees Jimin blushing furiously besides his boyfriend. "Managed to snag a copy on my way here. I'm curious what this Jungkook's all about, with Jimin here being obsessed with him and all," he continues to tease mercilessly as the teenager shuffles around nervously.

"Oh, be nice," Seokjin chides playfully and ruffles the boy's hair. "But I've been curious too. I guess we'll find out what's so great about him, huh?"

Jungkook shoves a now cold fry into his mouth to keep himself from choking on his own saliva. He was not expecting to become the topic of their conversation. While he's not a stranger to his own fame, he has always found is super awkward to listen to people talk about him public.

"And maybe we can fanboy together," Namjoon adds with an exaggerated thumbs up.

"Definitely," Jin cooes, making googly eyes at the teen. Jimin is bright red now, all the way to his ears, and the couple finds it absolutely adorable.

The singer jumps when he feels his phone vibrate in his pocket. He checks that it's of course Hoseok asking where the hell he is. Jungkook knows that this means he needs to go back and that he's going to have to pay for his meal and leave the diner without being recognized by the fan, because ugh, the DVD. He makes his way towards the counter, where the tall man is standing with a polite smile, hands the man some cash (he's learned that it's usually not a good idea to hand people his card with his name on it), takes the change and leave the place swiftly with his head down.

"Well, that guy's awfully mysterious," Jin mumbles with a shrug and then goes back to their conversation.

 

 

 


-

 

 

 


"Where were you?" Hoseok asks as soon as Jungkook enters their apartment. Jungkook knows that Hoseok isn't trying to be a control freak or anything. He understands that it's Hoseok's job to know that Jungkook is safe and sound.

"At this..." Jungkook, for a split second, wonders if he should lie, but he doesn't want to start lying to Hoseok now. "...diner."

"Diner?" Hoseok asks with a confused frown. Jungkook's been sticking to his deadly-strict diet quite well without much complaint, so he can't begin to fathom why the singer would venture out to a diner of all places.

"Yeah, a diner."

"Which one?"

"I'm not sure. It's not that far from here."

"Kookie, you know I don't like prying information out of you, right?" Hoseok begins after a moment of stern silence.

"I know..." Jungkook replies, slumping onto the area next to the manager on the couch.

"What's going on? You've never gone off to diners or anything else alone during comebacks. Are you seeing someone? You know I don't mind if you do...I just want to be able to help you not get caught."

"It's nothing like that," the singer stops his worried hyung with a soft smile. "Promise you won't freak out?"

"Of course. I mean, wait, it's not drugs, right? Please tell me it's not drugs," Hoseok pleads, and the singer briefly wonders what's with everyone and drugs. Yoongi's always going on about it too.

"No, it's nothing illegal. You know me."

"OK, whew, good."

"Remember that fan I talked about?"

"The short, mysterious one?" Hoseok asks after rolling his eyes in thought.

"Yeah sure, that one."

"Where are you going with this?" Jungkook doesn't miss the way his manager's eyes are narrowed now.

"So...Remember that one time you told me I had to go and eat by myself?"

"I think so."

"So I went outside to get something, 'cause I was starving and you know how I avoid big restaurants and the main road. Everything was closed except this one diner, and so I went in, and I ordered and was eating and all, and then...I saw him."

"Saw who?"

"The fan."

"Eating there?"

"No, he works there. In the back. In the kitchen, I think."

"Uh...and you've been going back to see him?"

"OK, see, when you say it like that, it sounds weird."

"Because it is super weird!" Hoseok wails dramatically, flailing his arms around. "I mean...I guess it'd make more sense if you were going after some super hot fan, but this? What are you even trying to achieve here?"

"I don't know..." Jungkook answers, and it's true. He has no idea where he's going with this strange obsession. It was by complete chance that they encountered each other at the diner, but from that point on, the singer had made actual effort to run into him again and half-stalk him like a total creep. But for what? Was it the mystery? His innate need to find answers to everything?

"You don't know?"

"I really have no idea," the singer replies with a shrug and scratches his sheepishly when Hoseok rolls his eyes dramatically and flop onto the couch next to him.

"God, you're weird."

"...yeah, I know."

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

The next time Jungkook sees the fan catches him completely off guard.

Jungkook had wanted to get some fresh air, because he's spent the entire day either cooped up inside a building or on stage with strong light burning through his skin. He had waited till it was well past 2 in the morning to venture out around his neighborhood, to a small, secluded playground he visits sometimes to just get a breather.

A series of soft tapping noise reaches his ears as he nears the playground. He soon finds out that the sound is coming from a person slowly dancing on the small area of pavement next to the swings. Jungkook is immediately captivated by how the stranger's arms glide across air like fluid, and how his legs carry him with grace that he did not know possible. The man spins slowly, his hands coming together over his own heart, and then he stretches his arms over his head, and the singer has to resist the urge to take a step forward to get a better look.

Jungkook remains out of the dim lighting just to observe from a distance. He knows that the smart thing to do would be to turn around, walk back and find somewhere else to get some fresh air, but a bigger part of him can't seem to move away from the sight.

He continues to watch and only exhales when the man comes to an eventual stop. He squints and takes a few quiet steps forward, because he is really, really curious about who this amazing dancer is. Perhaps someone in the industry? Someone famous?

Then he sees it. The familar jawline, lips and nose. The crooked finger. The only thing different is the fact that the limp is gone and that the fan has pushed his hair back with his hands to reveal the pair of eyes Jungkook had been obsessively curious about. Jungkook now can't understand for the life of him why the boy had been hiding his eyes, because there's absolutely nothing wrong with them. In fact, they're quite beautiful.

But more importantly, who would've thought that the mystery fan would be such a talented dancer?

Jungkook watches in silence as the fan thumbs through his phone and then begin dancing again. The moves are less artistic this time, and instead more powerful, with his thin arms cutting through air, his bruised hands sliding against his taut body, and his frail but strong legs carrying him across the pavement. The moves are both sensual and powerful, and Jungkook has to fight the urge to jump in and dance alongside the fan. They would look wonderful together. Jimin's fluidity and grace would complement his structured and powerful moves. He can see the two of them dancing together for hours on end in his studio.

Before Jungkook can decide between continuing to watch or initiating a conversation, Jimin slowly comes to a stop and then leaves the vicinity, leaving a still much stunned singer alone in the dark.

 

 

 

-

 

 


The following weekend, Jimin's back at the diner and he finds someone else in the kitchen with the manager. Their usual cook is gone and standing in his place is someone the teen finds alarmingly tall and intimidating. The man's pale like snow, his eyes fixed into a cold stare. The only thing keeping him from scurrying away to another corner is Seokjin walking in with a bright smile.

"Oh, Jimin, I see you already met our new cook. Taekwoon, this is Jimin, he also works in the kitchen, Jimin, Taekwoon. Taekwoon, how old are you again?"

"22."

The voice comes off as a total surprise to Jimin, because it's so much higher and like a brush of wind against his ear. Jimin dares a solid look at the newcomer and finds that the man is also ridiculously good-looking. He feels awkward. It's as if he's the only ugly person in the vicinity.

"Well, I think you guys will get along just fine since you're only what, 5 years apart?"

Jimin nods and shuffles about nervously. The way the new cook is watching him in silence is nervewrecking.

"W,what happened to, to Mr. Lee?" Jimin asks about the original cook. The man was much older and kept to himself for the most part, so they didn't talk much, but he's still a little bit disappointed that the man left without a good-bye.

"His family suddenly had to move, so had to go on a short notice. Taekwoon here started working here yesterday so help him around the kitchen, okay?"

"O,of course..."

"Now, I will let you guys get ready. Taekwoon, if you have any question, feel free to ask, alright?"

"I will."

Seokjin returns to the hall, leaving Jimin and Taekwoon to themselves. Jimin doesn't like that Taekwoon is still watching him, his cat-like eyes practically burning a hole through his skin. Jimin coughs a couple of times and makes his way to his usual side to make sure all the equipments are clean.

The two work in silence, and Jimin decides it's for the best.

 

 

 

-

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Jimin finds that Taekwoon is surprisingly nice. Beneath the cold exterior was a man who loves kittens and sweet desserts, and they soon found themselves bonding over leftover cakes Seokjin let them eat at the diner before closing. Taekwoon's older, but he's never condescending. They're both quiet, so they don't talk to each other much, but they fall into a comfortable pattern of Taekwoon trying out a new recipe and asking for Jimin's opinion and Jimin giving honest feedback.

Jimin is wiping the fridge when he feels a gentle tap on his shoulder. He turns around and finds Taekwoon standing with a plate of what appears to be pilaf and a fork in his hand. The teen has come to realize that Taekwoon is usually too shy to verbalize his requests and would simply remain still and wait for others to figure out his intentions. Jimin takes the plate, guessing that Taekwoon wants him to try his new recipe.

"Oh...this is really good," Jimin praises earnestly as he swallows a mouthful of the kimchi-shrimp pilaf. Taekwoon smiles shyly and decides that his hands are suddenly a lot more interesting to look at.

"Oh I see how it is, trying out new recipes without me again huh," SeokJin enters the kitchen with a mock look of hurt, leaving Taekwoon blushing furiously until the tip of his ears are bright red as well.

"Taekwoon's very talented," Jimin says with a soft smile, handing the plate to Jin, who takes a bite and let out an appreciative moan.

"You're right. Taekwoon, we really should feature more of your work on the menu." Seokjin commences to wolf down the rest of the pilaf, and Jimin wonders yet again exactly how much the man is capable of eating. "So I was wondering," the manager continues after setting the now empty plate down. "If you guys are free to go for a movie after today's shift? My roommate and brother were talking about catching a late night movie and were wondering if you two would like to join as well?"

Jimin perks up at the idea and glances at Taekwoon. The tall man blinks a couple of times and nod silently an affirmation, leaving Jin to clap his hands and then return to the counter.

"Have you met them?" Taekwoon asks softly, watching Jimin take the plate and utensil to the sink.

"Who? Oh, yeah, they're really nice people," Jimin replies as he turns the faucet on.

"I can do the dishes," Taekwoon volunteers, taking a couple of steps forward.

"It's fine. It's my job anyway," Jimin answers and hums to himself, excited that he will finally be watching a movie on the big screen.

 

 


-

 

 


"JIMINIE!!"

Namjoon and Seokjin sigh side-by-side when Taehyung all but screams his new friend's name, while Taekwoon looks around and blushes at how the rest of the building are watching them with their mouths open. Taehyung wraps his arms around Jimin and pulls him into a tight hug before finally looking up at the newcomer.

"Who're you?" Taehyung asks blankly, which Seokjin guesses is a sign to intervene.

"This here is Taekwoon. He's the new cook. Taekwoon-ah, this is my younger brother Taehyung, excuse him in advance, and this here is Namjoon, my roommate."

Taekwoon bows politely, which has Namjoon waving his hands and telling the other man to relax and drop the formalities.

"Wow, you're really hot," Taehyung blurts out, taking a step forward to get a better look. The couple has to stifle a laughter at how flustered Taekwoon becomes, his hands furiously fanning himself to cool down.

"So, we should probably get tickets now, and Taehyung, no we're not sitting in the first row. Taehyung! Stop going off alone, come back here, we'll get popcorns later," Seokjin yells, effectively stopping his younger brother from wandering off and staring at popcorn being made.

Namjoon buys tickets for everyone, while Seokjin buys a tub of popcorn and drink each. They situate themselves towards the back and wait for the movie to start.

"It's nice to be out with the kids huh," Namjoon jokes, leaning towards Seokjin so only his boyfriend can hear him. Seokjin giggles and taps the other's shoulders lightly. They've been together for years, but Namjoon still finds it absolutely adorable when Seokjin lets out his high-pitched giggle while crinkling his nose. Namjoon has to fight the urge to plant one right on his boyfriend's lips and instead takes advantage of the fact that the others are mesmerized by the trailers to give Seokjin's thigh a squeeze.

Next to the couple is Taehyung who is mechanically shoving popcorn into his mouth while watching the scenes flashing in front of him.

Next to Taehyung is Jimin. He watches the movie's beginning credits in awe but then slowly realizes that most of his popcorn is gone already. He sighs, looking every bit like a sad puppy as he stares at the almost empty tub. Then all of a sudden, the tub is taken out of his hand and is replaced with one that's barely touched.

Jimin looks up and finds Taekwoon holding what was his tub.

"Wh-" Jimin starts but is stopped when Taekwoon simply says "I'm not hungry" with a shrug. Jimin smiles sheepishly and hugs the tub, quietly thanking the taller man for the popcorn. Taekwoon shoots the smaller man a sideway glance but doesn't make any other comment.

After the movie, Jimin walks out, smiling from ear to ear, because watching an action movie on a big screen with loud booming sound was completely different from watching something in Seokjin and Namjoon's living room. He likes listening to their silly commentaries and louging on their comfy couch, but watching something at a theater is something he can definitely get used to. Taehyung is right besides him, using his empty popcorn tub as a drum, and Taekwoon is behind the two, trailing the rest in silence.

"I saw that," Taehyung whispers into Jimin's ear as they approach the bin.

"Saw what?"

"Taekwoon giving you his popcorn."

"Oh, yeah, he said he's not hungry."

Jimin scratches his head in confusion when Taehyung deadpans, shakes his heads and then bounches off towards Seokjin and Namjoon.

 

 


-

 

 

Jungkook finds it extremely difficult to focus on anything as the image of his fan dancing under the dim light overrides all other thoughts. He himself is an extremely talented dancer (so people say), but the fan. He was something else altogether. He would never have expected such strength and grace to come from someone so shy and awkward, and he has yet to witness anyone who can put so much emotions onto their movements.

Right now, he wants nothing more than to just be able to see the fan dance again.

So naturally, he's back at the diner right before closing time. He wonders if he will catch a glimpse of the fan, but the question is answered as soon as he enters the building. The good-looking waiter is gone and instead, the singer finds his fan manning the counter. Unfortunately, his fan doesn't look at all thrilled about him coming into the shop, but it's already too late.

Jungkook takes his usual seat and waits nervously as Jimin approaches him with a menu held tightly in his hands. Jimin fumbles nervously and places the menu down before saying "I,I'll take your order whenever you're ready."

Jungkook already knows what he wants to order but takes it anyway to give himself a moment to collect himself. He pretends to be completely absorbed in the menu he's holding as Jimin approaches him again with a glass of water and utensils. He gives himself a couple more minutes before motioning to order, and when he does, he uses his best fake voice to ensure that his anonymity is maintained.

Jimin takes his order and disappears behind the counter, only to appear with the glass of orange juice the singer ordered a moment later. Then it all happens. Jungkook watches in horror as the fan trips over nothing in particular and comes tumbling down towards him, the glass of liquid still in his hand. Jungkook instinctively shuts his eyes and braces for impact and is greeted with the wet feeling of juice soaking through his shirt and a body slamming against his shoulder. Jungkook can hear his chair scraping against the hard floor, so he grips down and stretches his arms down to catch the body to prevent the both of them from tumbling down.

When he opens his eyes again, he sees that he's somehow embracing the fan in his arms. He doesn't get any time to ask if the fan is OK, because the teen jumps back up just as abruptly and is staring at his own feet. Jimin is visibly trembling, which has Jungkook growing equally nervous.

"I,I,I'm so,sorry....I'll p,pay for, for-"

"Are you OK?" Jungkook cuts in, because he's now genuinely concerned. The fan is an absolute mess in front of him, looking as if he had commited the worst crime known to mankind. "Are you hurt anywhere?"

"P,phone num,number, I, la,laundry, I w,will p,pay..."

The words are so truncated and shaky that the singer finds it nearly impossible to understand what the other man is saying, but he assumes that the teen is volunteering to pay to get this shirt dry-cleaned. Jungkook opens his mouth to tell him it's no bother but then realizes the implication behind Jimin's words.

They would be exchanging phone numbers.

And while that would normally be foolish and borderline suicidal for his career, he can't pass up on the opportunity to get to know more about this mysterious fan. So he nods and pulls out his phone and asks for Jimin's number. He then pays for his food (and even leaves a hefty tip despite Jimin's protest) and leaves the building swiftly before the more rational part of him can convince him to change his mind.

 

 

-

 

 

[Jimin] 23:12

Hello

Im sorry about the shirt

Ill pay

I promise

 

23:27

I know u said u would

but theres no need

its fine really

 

[Jimin] 23:28

No I really should

 

23:28

How about u get me free juice or something

the next time im there?

 

[Jimin] 23:29

I can do that

but i still want to pay to get the shirt cleaned

 

23:29

 

its no big deal

its just an old shirt

 

 

[Jimin] 23:30

but

 

23:30

do u work at the diner everyday?

 

[Jimin] 23:30

um

now i do

but im usually in the kitchen

 

23:31

ic

r u a student?

im not trying to be creepy or anything

u just looked a bit young?

 

[Jimin] 23:31

o

yeah...

im a hs student

but please dont tell anyone

im not supposed to work there on weekdays

 

23:31

who would i tell lol

well anyway it was nice talking to u

if u dont mind we should talk more

and maybe hang out or something

i swear im not trying to be a creep

 

[Jimin] 23:32

o but the shirt

btw can i get ur name?

im Jimin

i cant remember if i told you already

 

[Jimin] 23:38

hello?

 

[Jimin] 23:52

ok i promise to at least get you free juice

good night

 

 

-

 

 

04:02

sorry

I think i fell asleep

my names Yoongi

 

 

Jungkook already feels bad about concealing his true identity and feels even worse when he has to lie about his own name. He's sure that Yoongi wouldn't approve of his name being used like this, but he figures that it's a lot safer than using his actual name or Hoseok's. Plus, it's not like Jimin's ever going to meet his stylist anyway, right?

 

[Jimin] 06:52

wow youre up early

its nice to meet you Yoongi

 

13:12

yeah

I usually get up early i guess

did u have lunch?

 

[Jimin] 14:01

um

no

not hungry i guess

did you?

 

14:02

same

im starving

 

[Jimin] 14:02

you should eat something

 

14:23

will do

as soon as i have the time

 

[Jimin] 15:01

may i ask what u do?

u seem busy

 

17:31

just an office workers

nothing interesting

 

 

[Jimin] 17:31

sounds nice 

 

23:51

r u sleeping?

 

00:12

Im guessing u r

 

 

"And who are you texting at this hour?" Hoseok asks curiously as they enter the elevator to their apartment. 

"No one," Jungkook replies almost too quickly, shoving his phone into his pocket. He's way too tired to deal with Hoseok right now, considering he spent the entire day being shipped off all over Seoul to bounce between fan signs, TV appearances and a V app recording that actually took too many hours to rehearse for. Then there was the whole problem with his outfit not arriving on time, which had Yoongi lose his shit and cuss for an hour straight on the phone. 

"You know I'm all for your making friends or girlfriends or whatever, right?"

"Stop being so dramatic. It's nothing like that," Jungkook grumbles with a roll of his eyes.

"Sure, sure, whatever you say Kookie."

"Stop calling me Kookie!"

 

 

 

-

 

 

"Jiminie!"

Jimin has never, ever has been called Jiminie at school, and no one has ever called him with that level of friendliness and enthusiasm. In fact, other students at the school either didn't know his name or had a range or not-so-friendly nicknames they used while shoving him against a wall.

He turns around and sees Taehyung literally sprinting towards him, his hair everywhere and his unifrom untidy. Jimin wonders for a sec if the boy is greeting someone with a similar name behind him, but he is quickly corrected when he finds himself with Taehyung's arms wrapped around his neck. Taehyung is jumping up and down now, and Jimin can feel his brain rattling against his skull.

"T,taehyung?"

"We're gonna be in the same class!" Taehyung yells with glee and finally lets the other go. Jimin instinctively looks around to make sure that other students aren't watching him, but unlucky him, many of them are staring at the two in shock. Jimin knows that he should push Taehyung away for the boy's own sake, but he doesn't have to heart to do so, with how excited Taehyung looks.

"T,that's great," Jimin replies softly and takes a couple of steps back.

"I'm so excited! We should walk to school together everyday now," Taehyung continues with a boxy grin as the two boys make their way to their homeroom. Jimin nods slowly, unable to turn Taehyung down, because again, he looks way too happy about the idea. Jimin figures that time will teach Taehyung to stay away, and eventually he won't even have to worry about going to school together.

All it takes is Taehyung's goofy introduction for the entire class to basically fall in love with him. Jimin's not surprised. Something about Taehyung is just so friendly and likeable, not to mention that clearly, the Kims were blessed with amazing looks to begin with. Taehyung and Seokjin were different kinds of handsome, but both ridiculously attractive regardless, so naturally, most of the girls are already giggling to themselves as they watch Taehyung bow.

"Taehyung you can sit over-"

"Can I sit next to Jimin?" Taehyung interrupts his teacher, and Jimin can hear the entire classroom go dead silent.

"Oh..do you know Jimin?" the teacher asks suspiciously, because she knows that Jimin's been spending all day at school completely aloof. It's not that she hasn't tried to get the boy to be more involved. The problem was that, the more she pushed the idea, the worse others reacted, so she opted for letting Jimin be for the time being. But then this new boy transfers to the school and basically demands that he sit next to Jimin?

"Yeah, we're like best friends," Taehyung says proudly, and Jimin fights the urge to bury his face into his hands, because now others are glaring daggers at him, as if saying "how dare you be friends with Taehyung."

"Very well then...since the seat's empty anyway. Go ahead."

"Thank you!" Taehyung chirps before hopping towards Jimin and taking the vacant seat. "This is so cool. We get to sit together too."

"Y,yeah..." Jimin swallows hard, because he can't brush off the guilt burrowing a hole inside his chest.

"I hope the food here is good," Taehyung mumbles as they make their way towards the cafeteria later that day. Jimin usually doesn't eat, ever since the bullies made it their mission to taunt him and throw his food at his face everytime he's there, but Taehyung had been so adamant about eating, that he reluctantly tags along.

Taehyung doesn't complain too much about the food as they get their tray. Jimin's all too aware of the stares they are receiving, but he pretends as if nothing is bothering him. They take their seats at an empty table, and as soon as they settle down, Taehyung's going through his food as if his life depends on it. Jimin watches with his mouth opens and begins eating only when Taehyung asks if anything's wrong. It's strange. He can't believe he's eating at school again.

He's halfway done with his lunch when he sees the usual group of bullies across the cafeteria. Jimin flinches when they simulatneously turn to look at him and Taehyung, but continues to shove food into his mouth. He really, really wishes they would just ignore him. He knows this odd friendship with Taehyung is bound to end soon, but he doesn't want it ruined day 1.

Fortunately, the bullies leave him alone (for the time being anyway). However, the fear doesn't leave him as quickly, and he finds himself only half-listening to whatever is coming out of Taehyung's mouth. That is, until he catches Jungkook's name.

"Huh?" Jimin asks dumbly when he sees Taehyung watching him intently.

"I said, I heard you're like a huge fan of Jungkook. We should go to like a thing together. I don't really know him, but if you like him, he must be pretty cool," Taehyung repeats, taking a fry off of Jimin's plate.

"Oh...uh...A,are you sure?" Jimin thinks about the proposal for a moment. He's gotten so used to just listening to Jungkook in the confinement of his room alone that the thought of fanboying with someone else had never crossed his mind. Then all of a sudden, Taehyung wants to share the experience with him, and frankly, the idea is a bit too alluring.

"Yeah, why not? I can go over to your place and listen to some songs together," Taehyung suggests innocently, and Jimin feels something catch in his throat. He can't let anyone near his home. Especially not Taehyung, Seokjin-hyung or Namjoon-hyung.

"C,can we g,go to your place?" Jimin asks shakily. Taehyung doesn't pick up on it and agrees to it just as easily. He also seems quite pleased about inviting someone to see his new place. Jimin wonders why Taehyung doesn't just live with his brother when they are less than 10 minutes apart but decides to keep the question to himself.

"Oh actually, today I promised to chill at hyung's place. Wanna come?"

"B,but I'm not invited..."

"Ohmagawd Jimin, they're not gonna care. Plus they practically wanna adopt you anyway. Let's just go, steal their food and chill. Plus it's just gonna be Namjoon hyung and I can guarantee that he'll be cooped up in his room the whole time."

"Oh...I can't stay long though. I have to go to the diner," Jimin informs, remembering he has part-time job to get to. However, he feels much better about it, since Seokjin offered him to give him hours during weekdays as well, which let him quit his other jobs which were so much more demanding and stressful (not all bosses were as nice as Seokjin).

"You work during weekdays too? Man...I feel lazy now. Anyway so you can still stay for a bit right?"

"I...I guess so..."

 


-

 

The boys arrive at the Seokjin/Namjoon residence and indeed finds only Namjoon around. And just as predicted, Namjoon greets them with a friendly wave and goes back to his room to leave them to raid the kitchen. Taehyung manages to scavenge a bag of chips and popcorn they can munch on while watching Jungkook's music videos on the spare computer in the guest room.

"I'm impressed," Taehyung mumbles through his mouthful of popcorn. "He's really good."

Jimin is having a hard time hiding his swelling sense of pride.

"And man, he's really good-looking. I bet he has a lot of girls after him huh."

"I guess so."

"It's so not fair," Taehyung whines, lying flat on the bed they've be lounging on. "He's hot and talented and probably making like a buttload of money. So not fair."

Jimin smiles softly as he turns to look at Taehyung rolling around lazily while going on and on about how people like Jungkook shouldn't exist.

"Would you date him?" Taehyung asks all of a sudden, and Jimin has to make sure that he's not hearing things.

"Um...J,Jungkook's a man..." Jimin begins uncertainly, because why else would Taehyung ask that question?

"I know," Taehyung replies, blinking owlishly at him. "But would you?"

"Oh. Uh...I'm...I'm not g,gay..."

"I never said you were," Taehyung says while laughing. "Wait, you're not against gay people, are you?" His expression turns serious so quickly that it almost gives the other teen a whiplash.

"N,no of course not," Jimin replies and he's being honest. Actually he's never given much thought about same-sex relationships and thus has never associated homosexuality with any kind of positive or negative connotation.

"That's good." Taehyung's smiling again, and it helps alleviate the tension in Jimin's shoulders. "Oh I think you have to start heading out if you want to get to work on time," he continues, glancing at the time on the computer screen.

They say their quick goodbyes and Jimin leaves the house wondering if Taehyung's gay.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Jungkook finds Jimin to be somewhat of a breath of fresh air that keeps him afloat in his current storm of performances, rehearsals and other events. He knows he's deviating from any logical thinking, but talking to Jimin keeps him feel grounded and more...normal. He likes the anonymity. He enjoys being able to talk to someone without being the famous idol-sensation Jungkook. Without all the bias, without the need to please anyone. He hadn't realized that he had missed the life before his fame until he talked to Jimin. He had long lost contact with all his old friends, thanks to his company confiscating his old phone and not letting him own one for the first 18 months of his career. He was under constant surveillance, with no way to reach anyone outside the music industry (he was rarely allowed to talk to or see his own family), and when he finally did get his own phone, it was too late. So little by little, the industry swallowed him up, until he became dependent on it for all social interactions. That's not to say that he doesn't have friends. He has met many wonderful people, including Hoseok and Yoongi, but there were also many who wanted to take advantage of his fame or wanted to see him fall so they may have a chance in the limelight.

He thought he had gotten used to it, but apparently, it wasn't the case. 

Jimin was simple. Jimin was comfortable. They talked about nothing and everything, from silly things like which cheese was the best and how nice the weather is. They couldn't hold and deep meaningful conversations or those that lasted for a long time, thanks to Jungkook's irregular resting pattern, but it was still nice regardless. Jungkook liked coming down from the stage to read Jimin's response to his questions. 

He's extremely busy, but he takes the time moving between schedules to always send a message or two, hoping that the teen would text him back so that they can hold a short conversation between he falls asleep in the van. He's careful though. He knows that Hoseok is always keeping a keen eye on him and has his way when it comes to making the singer confess all his secrets. He's not ready to have his manager be a part of whatever it is between him and Jimin.

 

 

 

15:32

So

What kind of music do u like?

 

[Jimin] 15:39

o

i have this singer i like

 

15:40

o

who

 

[Jimin] 15:40

promise u wont laugh?

 

15:40

y would i laugh

 

[Jimin] 15:41

i dunno

its unusual for a guy to like male idols

 

15:41

its ok

i listen to male idols too

so who?

 

[Jimin] 15:45

um

Jungkook

do u know him?

 

15:45

yeah

ive heard a couple of his songs

hes ok

 

[Jimin] 15:46

hes really talented

 

15:46

i heard he sleeps around a lot

 

 

Jungkook types and sends before he can stop himself. He cringes, thinking that perhaps he's being stupid. He knows that Jimin is a fan, but he can't help but feel a bit flustered when he sees the actual words. There is undoubtedly a swelling sense of pride at being recognized for his work, but he has this need to hear that Jimin doesn't follow all the rumors. He knows that it's a twisted way of validating himself.

He may be busy, but he spends all the time he can online, figuring out what his fans think about his music and what the rumor mill is up to. He's had a string of absurd rumors follow him since his debut and sudden rise to fame. He knows that popularity doesn't come easy and that there will always be haters. He fully understands that it's impossible to be rumor-free in the industry, but some were downright offensive.

The one he hated the most was the one that claimed that he impregnated a female idol last year and forced her to get an abortion. It started an online frenzy, with people trying to guess who the poor victim was and "witnesses" talking about how they spotted him at a clinic, walking out with a woman. The rumor was vile and disgusting, and honestly discouraging, because he can't fathom why anyone would make up something so unethical about him. His parents had raised him to be so much better than that, and he has yet to engage in an act that would warrant that much hostility.

The most popular one was that he got himself a new girlfriend slash one-night-stands every week. He thought that was quite funny, because he doesn't even have time to jerk off, let alone meet someone and spend quality/sexual time with them. All the time he did have on his own, he basically locked himself up in the studio, writing a new track or practicing his dance moves. Hoseok would gladly testify to that. 

 

 

[Jimin]15:47

hmm

well i dont actually know him

but

i try not to pay too much attention to rumors

i dont think it be fair to assume

 

 

 

Jungkook stops and stares at his phone.

 

 

15:47

ic

but what if he really is?

 

[Jimin]15:48

honestly

none of my business i guess

i just really like his music

 

15:48

interesting

have u seen him?

 

[Jimin]15:48

I went to a fan sign once

and saw him for a few seconds

 

15:49

o

how was it

 

[Jimin]15:54

i dont remember much

i was too nervous

i did give him a letter

but he probably didnt get to read it

 

15:56

maybe he did

 

[Jimin]15:56

im sure hes too busy

 

15:57

u never know

 

[Jimin]15:57

i guess

actually i kinda wish he didnt

 

15:58

y

 

[Jimin]15:58

its embarrassing

i wrote some personal things on it

 

15:59

personal?

 

[Jimin]16:02

yeah

its nothing

but

i dunno

 

 

 

 

"Hey, Kookie, we're here," Hoseok calls out to the backseat as he parks up to the studio. The singer looks up with an exasperated sigh, because the conversation was going somewhere towards the realm of having his questions answered. "Well you look happy," the manager continues, glancing at him through the mirror.

 

"Sorry, I guess I'm just tired."

 

"I know kid. I don't know how you do it sometimes."

 

"You're up when I'm up too, hyung."

 

"Yeah, but I don't have to spend all those hours dancing, and I definitely don't have to watch what I eat."

 

"Yet you somehow remain so slim," Jungkook grumbles, because he knows for a fact that Hoseok is a pig and will not discriminate when it comes to shoving food into his mouth. Hoseok laughs and hop out of the van.

 

"I had a friend once who's worse than I am," Hoseok begins once they are both out and making their way towards the elevator. "He ate so damn much but he always stayed so skinny. Eating was basically the only thing he talked about and did, it was kinda insane. But then again, he always cooked for us and gave me free food, so I guess I can't complain."

 

"Is he fat now?" 

 

"Who knows. We lost contact years ago."

 

Jungkook frowns and decides to drop the subject when he spots a sad glint in Hoseok's eyes. 

 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

"I hate exams."

 

Jimin nods in agreement as he listens to Taehyung criticize the very institution of exams and complain about how they actual hinder one's learning. Taehyung's quite passionate about the subject and surprisingly well-versed in his explanations, which has Jimin thinking that Taehyung is probably a lot smarter than he makes himself seem.

The school's exam period is approaching, will less than two weeks left, which has all the students scurring to form study groups or organize notes to get ready for cramming sessions. As for Jimin, fear begins building up, because break means spending more time at home, and spending more time at home never results in anything positive. He just wishes that he can get himself a day-time job during the few weeks he has off in hopes that his father may leave him alone when presented with extra cash. More money, more alcohol, more time his father spends intoxicated in his room. 

 

"We should study together," Taehyung suggests hopefully, balancing a textbook on his head.

 

"R,really?" Jimin asks uncertainly, because he has never had the opportunity to study before exams. Exam scores did not mean anything to his father. Time for studying was a waste, when he could be making more money, and his father had already told him numerous times that he wouldn't amount to anything so he shouldn't even bother applying to a university. He knows that his chance at college is basically down the toilet, considering he's barely passing his classes. Some of his teachers were sympathetic and let him do extra credits to keep him from failing, and he appreciated their help, but he was nowhere near having a shot at higher education.

 

"Yeah really. I can't study very well alone. Hyung says it's because I get distracted too easily, but studying alone is so boring, you know? We should study at hyung's place. They always have food we can steal, and plus, we can probably ask Namjoon-hyung if we get stuck on something."

 

"Isn't he busy?"

 

"Usually is, but he'll help us. He's super smart."

 

Jimin realizes that he has no idea what Namjoon does for a living but decides not to ask.

 

"We should start today!" Taehyung starts enthusiastically, slinging an arm around Jimin.

 

"Oh..I have work all week..."

 

"Dang it, I keep forgetting. We can work at the diner. I'm sure hyung won't mind."

 

"Oh...I'm not sure..." Jimin mumbles lowly, not sure how Seokjin would react to the idea of Jimin working during shift. He knows that his manager is very lenient when there aren't many customers around, but he doesn't want to take advantage of that.

 

"Actually I'm just gonna text hyung now," Taehyung whips his phone out, ignoring Jimin's awkward protest.

 

So they both end up at the diner a couple of hours later, and Seokjin puts Taehyung in charge of watering the plants and stacking up on napkins while they wait for the dinner rush to pass. Jimin works hard, making sure each plate and utensil is squeaky clean and everything in the kitchen is in order, because he doesn't know any other way to thank Seokjin for letting the two of them study at the diner.

 

"Alright boys, get studying," Seokjin announces as he enters the kitchen once the hall is almost clear.

 

"Are you sure..?" Jimin asks, because really, he's being paid to do work, not study for his own exams.

 

"Of course I'm sure. You and Taehyung are first and foremost students and I expect you two to study hard and do well on your exams," Seokjin replies with a motherly smile and pats Jimin on the head. Jimin can see Taekwoon watching the two of them with an unreadable expression.

 

"I can help...if you want," Taekwoon offers softly, returning his gaze to the pot in front of him.

 

"R,really?" Jimin asks and then smiles sheepishly when Taekwoon nods quickly twice. "Th,thank you..."

 

"Now, off you go, Taehyung's waiting for you."

 

Jimin makes his way to the tables and finds Taehyung already settled with textbooks open in front of him. 

 

"This is so cool," Taehyung squeals, swinging his feet beneath him. "I've never had a study buddy. OK, what should we tackle first? I say math, because I hate it the most," Taehyung continues mile a minute, pointing at the chair across from him to motion the other teen to join him. Jimin nods and takes his textbook out as well and then grimaces when he realizes that he doesn't own a single notepad to organize his notes. 

 

"Oh, you can have one of mine," Taehyung says while handing him a bright neon green notebook, and Jimin wonders again just how observant Taehyung really is. "I think I bought too many," he continues, pulling out an impressive stack, all of different neon colors.

 

"It's so...bright."

 

"Makes it easier for me to find them. If you don't want green, you can pick a color. But not the blue one. That one's my favorite."

 

"Green's fine, thanks, Tae," Jimin replies softly with a smile, taking it into his own hands.

 

"Ohmagod! You called me Tae!" Taehyung says with his eyes wide open, and Jimin's unsure if the other is pleased or angry, so he remains still with abated breath. "We're best friends now, just so you know," he continues with a boxy grin and begins humming a strange tune before picking a hot pink notebook from his collection.

 

"We...are?"

 

"Of course we are. You called me Tae, I call you Jiminie. We're best friends."

 

"Oh...uh..."

 

"Alright, let's get started. I wish Namjoon-hyung's here. I'm already stuck."

 

"Taekwoon said he'd help if we need it," Jimin informs, remembering the tall man's offer.

 

"Oh, did he now," Taehyung replies with a smirk, which has Jimin cocking his head in confusion. "I'm sure he'll be very happy to help."

 

"Yeah...he's really nice."

 

Taehyung watches Jimin carefully and then rolls his eyes before slamming his forehead against the table.

 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

"I did it. Worship me."

 

Jimin looks up from his lunch and leans back when he finds Taehyung watching him with his head held up high and his nose flaring.

 

"..What happened?"

 

"I got us into one of his recordings."

 

"What recording and who are we talking about?" Jimin asks as he takes in Taehyung sneaking a spoonful of rice from his tray.

 

"We're going to watch Jungkook live. Tomorrow. After school at, I kinda forgot which music show it was. Could be M Countdown, Music Bank or something else, I can't remember, but we're going there and watching him perform, on stage, and it'll be awesome. Mostly for you, but I'm kinda curious too."

 

Taehyung fires away smugly, taking one of his friend's sausages into his mouth. He waits for a reaction, and when he gets none, he waves a hand in front of the other eyes. He's slightly concerned that Jimin isn't even blinking anymore.

 

"Are you being serious right now?" Jimin asks, his voice barely above a whisper. His heart is thumping in his skull, because there's no way that he is being given the opportunity to see Jungkook actually performing one of his songs.

 

"Dead serious."

 

"...but, how?"

 

"Trade secret, but let's just say that I'm a genius."

 

"Are we really...I mean...really?"

 

"Yes really. I even told hyung and he said he'll let your take the day off. Pretty neat, huh."

 

"I...wow....thanks Tae...wow..."

 

"Anytime, Jiminie. Now, can I have the rest of your sausages?"

 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

The next day, Taehyung's excited mood is quickly dampened when he sees his friend with a busted lip and a bruised cheek. He wants to ask so badly, because he's ready to knock the teeth out of whoever is responsible for hurting his Jiminie, but his brother had strictly told him to not bring it up. Not yet, anyway. He had protested and even yelled at Seokjin and Namjoon for being ridiculous, but once he heard their plans, he found that there was no other way than to go along with it. He would have to wait and just be a good friend for now. 

As soon as school's out, the boys are running out of campus to the nearest subway station. On their way, Taehyung makes fun of how flustered and nervous Jimin is, and Jimin does his best to appear as if he's not ready to burst open in excitement. The fansign was amazing, that wasn't up for debate, but being able to see Jungkook actual dance and sing...Jimin doesn't know if he'd be able to handle it. Taehyung explains that they would be in the first row and would be only a short distance away from the stage and that Jungkook will be performing a few times, since it's a recorded rehearsal. 

They arrive at the TV station, and Jimin is immediately intimidated by the large group of girls who has gathered around to wait to be led inside. They find their place in line and do their best to remain unnoticed. Jimin does anyway, but Taehyung's face alone is enough to have girls whisper among themselves. Taehyung, seemingly completely oblivious to the attention, continues to poke fun at his friend, laughing whenever Jimin squirms uncomfortably with his face burning red.

 

 

-

 

 

Jungkook stretches his neck as he enters the stage and smile when he hears his fans cheering loudly. He knows that he has a few minutes before the cameras go on, so he takes the time to wave at his fans and make sure there's nothing slippery on the floor. He can't see all the individual faces clearly, because the spotlight is almost blinding, but he can usually make out the first few rows if he walks towards the edge of the stage. 

"We'll begin now." He hears someone announce, so he moves to the center of the stage and stands still as other dancers take their positions as well. The song starts with a loud, heavy beat, and with it, Jungkook begins moving, switching back and forth between locking his shoulders, to swaying his hips. He makes sure his eyes are on the right camera and even smirks from time to time. With his final move, the song comes to an end, and he finds himself slightly out of breath. He waits for the PD to check the video and audio and takes this time to pay his attention to his fans. His eyes scan the crowd and then stops abruptly when he sees a familiar figure in the first row. 

Jimin.

Jungkook thinks he's hallucinating. It wouldn't be too surprising if he was. He's sleep-deprived, hungry and has spent an unhealthy amount of time either talking to the fan or thinking about him. His strange obsession with the engima that was Jimin was probably messing with him, but as he takes in the familiar features, there's no mistaking it.

Even with the hair covering most of his eyes, he knows with certainty that it's Jimin.

Next to him is another man (teenager) who is leaning towards the fan and whispering something into the other's ears. Jimin tilts his head to the side, shakes his head and smiles sheepishly, and Jungkook can't help but wonder what the other man had said.

But none of this matters, because Jimin's watching him. 

Jimin's here.

And he doesn't know why it bothers him so much, because surrounding Jimin are a handful of fans he recognizes as well. Some of them were famous for coming to all of his schedules, taking flattering pictures of him and posting nice, photoshopped versions online for other fans to enjoy. Some of them, he has spoken to before on a number of occasions and even knew them by their twitter account names. So why was it that having Jimin watching him got him feeling so nervous? As if he's auditioning for the first time?

 

 

 

-

 

 

"OK, I gotta give it to that guy. He's pretty awesome," Taehyung comments as they are being led outside the studio after four consecutive performances. Jimin can't agree more. Seeing Jungkook on stage up so close, dancing and singing like he was born to do just that, was exhilarating. Jungkook looked so at ease, so confident. He looked like he could control the world, and Jimin found is absolutely captivating. 

 

For a minute, he thought that they were making eye-contact when Jungkook remained completely still while facing his direction. He was hopeful, but knew that Jungkook was probably scanning the crowd. Taehyung even whispered to him that Jungkook was surely watching him, but he denied it. Jungkook wouldn't spend time watching him. There were probably other fans around him the singer recognized.

 

"Yeah...he really is," Jimin replies proudly, glad that Taehyung enjoyed the performances as well. 

 

"We should go say hi."

 

"Huh?" Jimin asks dumbly, but before he can come up with a more coherent response, Taehyung is taking him by the wrist and bolting around the corner, splitting away from the rest of the fans. Jimin instinctively knows whatever Taehyung is about to do is borderline, if not actually, illegal and they would get into so much trouble if anyone found out, but at the same time, Taehyung is proving yet again that he's a lot stronger than he seems. Jimin almost crashes into Taehyung when the teen comes to an abrupt stop. 

 

"Act cool," Taehyung whisper screams as they enter a hallway, where only a handful of people are walking around. Jimin thinks they're going to get caught, but surprisingly, everyone's too busy on their phones to pay attention to two male teens wandering about the hallways. 

 

"I'm pretty sure this is where the singers are. I can smell them."

 

"...what?"

 

"Shh. Look," Taehyung whispers, pointing at a piece of paper taped a couple doors down.

 

 

M COUNTDOWN

Jeon Jungkook

 

 

"Found it," Taehyung says smugly before rubbing his hands dramatically and approaching the door. Jimin however has the good sense to pull his friend back with wide eyes. He can't get in trouble like this. They will call the cops on him, and he will have to explain to his father that he skipped work, and if there's one thing that got his father really fired up, it's anything that leads to his son making any less money.

 

"You can't just go in!"

 

"Why not?"

 

"Because we're not allowed. Plus, I'm sure he doesn't want to be bothered," Jimin replies lowly, and it's true. Besides his fear of his father's wrath, he is actually concerned about intruding what must be Jungkook's private space and time. Jungkook must be so tired after all that dancing, and it would incredibly rude to interrupt that without permission. He doesn't need to interact with the singer up close. He's content with just being able to see him perform live.

 

"It'll be a quick hello and bye. I'm sure he'll he chill about it," Taehyung counters with a determined look, and Jimin's not sure if he will be able to persuade the boy otherwise.

 

"Tae, I can't..."

 

"Sure you can."

 

"No, I really shouldn't. Lets, go," Jimin says, tugging at Taehyung. He grabs his friend by the arm and turns around to guide him out the building when he instead crashes right into a hard surface. There is a flash of pain and he sees white. He instinctively ducks and covers his face with his hands. He lets out a pathetic sound of pain as he hears Taehyung gasp loudly besides him. He's half certain that his nose is broken. His face was already hurting from his father's outburst last night, but now he's sure that half of it is broken and damaged beyond repair.

 

"Uh, Jimin?" Taehyung rasps, tapping his friend on the shoulder.

 

"J,just...just a sec..owww..." 

 

"Jimin. Look up."

 

"Ho,hold on...oh this hurts..." Jimin doesn't know why Taehyung is being so persistent, but he can't bring himself to open his eyes, let alone move forward, because it hurts so much. How did he not know there was a wall right behind him?

 

"Jimin, seriously."

 

"Are you OK?"

 

Jimin freezes, because it's definitely not Taehyung's voice asking if he's OK.

He would recognize that voice anywhere. It's the same voice that sang to him when he needed hope. The same voice that put him to sleep when fear gripped him by the throat and kept him red-eyed and fatigued. The same voice that made him believe, even for a little bit, that he could make it out alive.

But how can it be?

Jimin dares to look up and comes face to face with Jungkook watching him with unmasked concern. There's a thin layer of sweat covering the singer's face and neck. His face is slightly flushed from the physical exertion, and a tiny bit of his eyeliner is smudged, giving him a much darker look. The man's pouty lips are parted, his brows furrowed ever so slightly, and Jimin finds himself just staring in shock at how beautiful the singer in front of him really is.

Taehyung is saying something besides him, but it's all white noise as Jungkook takes him by the wrist and drags him towards the door with his name on it.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

"Hey, you alright?" Jungkook cringes inwardly at the sound of Hoseok's voice laced with concern. The manager is approaching him with his usual lazy strut, a hand in his pocket and another holding his phone. Hoseok's usually a lot more cheerful and congratulatory after performances, but at the moment, the singer can only read worry. Jungkook smiles politely when the assistant stylist approaches him with a towel in her hand. He wipes the sweat off of his forehead with it and slumps on the couch behind him.

"Of course I am, why?" he asks and stretches his legs out as Hoseok sits next to him cross-legged.

"You sorta stopped for a minute on stage. What were you looking at?" Hoseok asks in a hushed voice. Jungkook continues to look ahead to make sure than none of the dancers or members of his entourage are listening in on their conversation. He trusts Hoseok and Yoongi, but he's always been a firm believer that others are prone to sharing not-so-public information with other people. Plus, he already knows that talking to the press is easy money, and what better way is there to make extra cash when the industry pays so little?

"Nothing," Jungkook answers with a huff, sinking lower onto the couch. He hates the feeling of fabric clinging to his sweaty back. He wants a shower really badly, but he knows there's no time if he wants to make it to their next schedule. He wonders for a brief moment if Jimin is on his way back home, but quickly brushes that thought off. Focus, Jeon Jungkook.

"We're going to talk about this later, just so you know," Hoseok says with a definitive edge to his voice that Jungkook can't easily ignore. "This isn't the first time you've blanked out this week. And don't try to bullshit me, alright? Here, let's get moving or else we're going to be late," Hoseok continues, getting off the couch first. Jungkook opens his mouth to protest, but knows he might as well save that energy for something useful rather than make a pathetic attempt at trying to get off Hoseok's hook. When Hoseok used that voice, it meant business, and Jungkook can't argue that perhaps it might be a good idea to come clean with his strange obsession with a particular fan.

Jungkook and his entourage make their way out the dressing room, and as soon as they're out the door, Jungkook is stopped by a member of GOT7.

"Hey, nice performance today," Jackson Wang says with a wide grin, holding his hand up. "Was watching from the waiting room, and man, I wish my fans loved me as much as your fans loved you," he teases and lets out a high-pitched laughter.

"Jealous my ass, I heard a couple of your fans passed out last week while watching you guys," Jungkook says with a mock roll of his eyes.

"That's all Jaebum and his hip thrusts," he counters playfully with a laugh, which has Jungkook chuckling as well. "You heading to your next schedule?"

"Yeah, I think I'm already late."

"Better get going then. We should definitely hang out soon. I gotta talk to you about something...important."

"Yeah, I'll text you later."

"You better!" Jackson shouts as Jungkook makes his way down the corridor. Both Jackson and Jungkook had debuted around the same time. At the time, Jungkook had been a lot more reserved, a lot more carefully and perhaps even too introverted for someone in the industry. Then there was Jackson. Jackson from Hong Kong was a ball of energy and puppy-like friendliness. They had shared the same waiting room a few weeks into their careers, and Jackson had approached the solo artist with a hug (yes, an actual tight hug) while talking about how much he loved Jungkook's singing and dancing. Surprisingly, and perhaps not so shockingly, they became friends quite quickly, and Jackson helped Jungkook break out of his shell little by little. 

They sometimes practiced together and share dance moves. At times, they would hang out at Jungkook's apartment and talk seriously about music, cry over soju or take embarrassing selfies while drunk. Jackson would watch a lot of his performances and give him sound advice or whine "you're so awesome, why are you so awesome."

Thinking about performances...

He wonders if Jimin liked his performance today. He couldn't read the fan's expression. The teen had been completely still, unlike his other fans who screamed and shouted and jumped to the beat. He wonders if Jimin's a bit disappointed by the performance, but he pushes that thought aside, because hell, he can't let one fan get to him like that, right?

They enter the parking lot, and that's when Jungkook realizes that his phone is missing. Damn it all to hell. It's never a good idea for someone like him to lose his phone. He knows a few who have, and they had to suffer through monumental scandals, blackmailing and all sorts of crazy rumors online. He doesn't have any compromising pictures on it, but he has contact information of too many famous people.

And his conversation with Jimin. Yeah, he really doesn't want that being made public.

"Shit, I think I left my phone at the dressing room," Jungkook mutters, effectively stopping Hoseok.

"Oh, I'll go get it," Hoseok volunteers, but the singer stops him.

"Nah, it's fine. I'll just run and get it if you get the car started."

"You sure?"

"Yeah I'm sure, I'll be right back," Jungkook calls out as he runs back into the building, hoping that the janitor hasn't started cleaning the room yet. He's nearing his destination when he sees two figures huddled together by the corner. He's spent enough time in the building to recognize people who do not belong, and those two definitely do not. He figures it's probably two boys trying to get a peek of their favorite female idol and chalks it up to being someone else's problem.

He's about to ignore them and just get to the room as soon as possible when one of them turns around abruptly and smashes right into him. He stumbles back from the impact and has to suppress the urge to cough, because his chest feels as if someone's punched him with intent to murder. Who would've guessed that someone's head can hurt so badly? He resists the urge to tell whoever bumped into him to watch where the hell he's going by reminding himself that he's famous and easily recognizable. He does not need some loser going back home and posting a hateful comment online about how Jeok Jungkook is actually a total douche in real life.

However, the pain is forgotten as soon as his eyes take in the two figures in front of him. He recognizes the person staring at him with his mouth open. It's the man that had been next to Jimin during his performance, which means...

It's Jimin.

Jimin's the one who's crashed into him. Jimin's the one holding his nose and groaning in pain.

He knows what he's about to do is reckless. He's heard a million times over that he should never, ever personally engage with a fan in a setting outside of actual performances or other staged events, because it starts a lot of bad, horrible, ill-advised things. Yet, he finds himself grabbing the boy by the wrist and dragging him to the dressing room. He just hopes that no one is paying too much attention to them.

Jimin's wrist feels hot against his own fingers. He doesn't know if it's the thrill of engaging in a behavior so reckless or his shock at seeing Jimin again, but he can feel his heart hammering against his chest. He hasn't felt this nervous in such a long time. Even when on stage or getting ready to record for a new album. But here he is, feeling light-headed as he shuts the door behind him as soon as he pulls Jimin inside. 

Jimin is watching him now, his eyes a lot more visible close-up, and he's startled by the depth of emotions in those eyes. 

"I, I'm so,sorry" Jimin blurts out as soon as they are in the room, and the words somehow bring Jungkook back to his senses. He lets go of the teen's wrist and fakes a cough. Hoseok would kill him if he ever found out and Yoongi would cuss him well into next year. But is it so horrible? That he brought a fan into one of the rooms? 

"I know you," Jungkook says after a moment of silence, because he feels as if it's the only appropriate thing to say. Jimin looks so nervous in front of him. So small and worried that Jungkook wants to alleviate the tension in the room somehow. "We met at the fansign. You gave me a letter, and I asked you to show me your eyes the next time I see you," he continues in a soft tone, not wanting Jimin to think he's lying.

As the words leave his mouth, he sees the bruises. He sees the way Jimin's lips are torn and swollen.

And something in him stirs in a way that makes him want to tear something apart. Violently. 

Jungkook is not an aggressive person by nature. He prefers to avoid confrontation instead of going head-on. Perhaps it's because he has a tendency to be lazy when it comes to anything other than his career, but the point is that he rarely experience urge to physically express his aggression.

He doesn't know Jimin personally. He has only spoken to Jimin online, but he's met enough people to recognize someone with a good heart, and he has long deduced that Jimin is one of them. Thus he rules out the possibility that Jimin got those from stirring up trouble or aggravating someone. So how did he end up with those bruises? He figures someone had made it his or her mission to hurt Jimin, and the thought is highly unsettling. 

Was this the reason why he wore a mask to the fansign? 

Before his brain can truly comprehend the course of his actions, Jungkook's fingers are brushing against the sensitive patch of bruised skin on Jimin's jawline. Jimin jerks at the touch, which has the singer recoiling as if he's been electrocuted. He should know better than to touch someone without permission. He needs to calm down, focus on the matter at hand and make sure the two make it out of the building without getting caught. Jimin is not his problem. He's sure that Jimin can take care of himself and probably has other real friends and family looking out for him.

"Um...you're not allowed to be here," Jungkook starts, hoping to distract Jimin from the disastrously awkward moment that his tired brain somehow allowed to happen. "I mean, in this part of the building. You might get into some trouble if they find you here."

"Oh, shit, are we going to get arrested?"

Jungkook jumps at the sudden low voice. He had been so absorbed in Jimin that he completely overlooked the fact that another person is occupying the room. It's the guy who had been next to Jimin. Jungkook finally takes a good look at the other teen and almost laughs at the look of utter panic laced onto his features.

"I don't...think so. I think they just ban you from ever coming to any of my performances or show appearances..." Jungkook answers uncertainly, because he's only heard rumors about these things.

"Oh, we can't let that happen. Jimin here will die," Taehyung says with a serious expression, and Junkook almost lets out an amused grin when he sees Jimin turn bright red and duck his head in embarrassment. "He's like a huge fan of yours. Like huge. He basically converted me, too," Taehyung continues, oblivious to his friend's silent plea to stop.

"So how can we get out of here without being blacklisted?" Taehyung asks seriously, rubbing his own arms.

"I guess if you guys walk out with me, it should be fine. Just...don't look too suspicious?"

"That's no problem. Thanks for being so chill about this," Taehyung replies gratefully, because there's not doubt that his brother would go apeshit if they were ever caught doing something like this.

"I obviously can't go out the main door," Jungkook explains. "So I'll take you to the parking lot, and there is an staircase that takes you to the lobby."

"Sounds like a plan."

They leave the door together and remain silent. The singer sees that Taehyung looks almost too comfortable with their sneaking, while Jimin looks as if he's accidentally murdered a stray puppy. Jungkook takes pity and gives the teen a light squeeze in the shoulder, which has Jimin jerk and look up in surprise. The singer flashes what he hopes is a reassuring smile.

They eventually arrive at the entrance of the parking lot without drawing too much attention. Jungkook points to the staircase, which has the boys thanking the singer quickly before rushing towards it. Jungkook watches the figures disappear into the staircase before heading to the van. 

"What took you so long?" Hoseok asks as soon as the singer gets on the van. "Just ran into someone." Hoseok shoots him a look but makes no further comment on it before they drive out the parking lot.

 

 

 

-

 

 

22:47

u up?

 

[Jimin] 22:49

yeah

 

22:49

how was ur day?

[Jimin] 22:50

it was

interesting

i dunno if thats the right word

im not even sure if it actually happened

 

22:51

y?

r u ok?

 

[Jimin] 22:51

i saw Jungkook again

 

22:52

o

where?

 

[Jimin] 22:52

i went to see him live with a friend

i sort of ended up bumping into him

literally

 

22:53

really?

then what happened?

 

[Jimin] 22:53

umm

he took us to his dressing room

and helped us escape the building

 

22:54

o wow

did u guys talk?

 

[Jimin] 22:54

not really

i was too nervous

 

22:55

sounds like a good exp

lol

 

[Jimin] 22:55

he was really nice about it

i just wish i didnt look so bad

 

22:56

what do u mean?

 

[Jimin] 22:56

nvm

how was ur day?

 

22:57

busy

same ol

 

[Jimin] 22:57

how come u dont come to the diner anymore?

im supposed to give u free juice

 

22:58

lol

so u remember

 

[Jimin] 22:58

of course i do

i still feel really bad about it

 

22:59

i told u theres no need

 

[Jimin] 23:00

i know

but i still feel bad

 

23:01

lol

u can make it up to me some other way

 

[Jimin] 23:01

how?

 

23:02

this is nice

just talking

 

[Jimin] 23:02

that doesnt make any sense

 

23:02

y not?

 

[Jimin] 23:03

hmm..

but we r just talking

 

23:03

exactly

its what i needed

 

[Jimin] 23:03

o

do u not have a lot of friends?

wow

im sorry

please ignore that

that was very rude

i didnt mean it like that 

im so sorry

 

23:04

lol relax

 

[Jimin] 23:04

im sorry

 

23:05

i have friends but

its nice to just be able to talk to a sort of a stranger

 

[Jimin] 23:05

o

i guess...

 

23:06

 

lets say that 

i had a secret i couldnt tell anyone i know

i could talk to u about it

and feel a lot better

u know what i mean?

 

[Jimin] 23:07

that makes sense i guess

 

23:07

 

i should head to bed

early day tomorrow

 

[Jimin] 23:08

gnight

 

23:08

ttyl

 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

 

 

"How did you do?" Taehyung asks as soon as they're let out of the classroom. Jimin slumps onto the desk, because he has zero energy left inside of him after six straight hours of exams. 

"Better," Jimin mumbles into his own arm and flashes his friend a smile. It seemed that studying with Taehyung for the past few days have been very effective. He only found a couple of questions difficult for each subject, which is a huge improvement from his last big set of exams. He had turned most of his test papers blank and had gathered much disdain from his teachers. But things were different now. Taehyung always managed to keep their study sessions entertaining enough to keep Jimin focused, and both Taekwoon and Namjoon were wonderful tutors. They were quick to explain in a way that was the easiest to understand, and Seokjin had continued to let the boys study at the diner.

"Finally done. Any plans for summer break?" Taehyung asks, stretching his arms above his head. 

"Just...work, I guess," Jimin answers, knowing that he's going to have to look for a daytime job now. He's not sure how many places would be willing to hire him, but he's going to have to try his best. He's been collecting a bit of money on the side so that he can get everyone a small gift for helping him out, but it's been difficult with his father's habit becoming increasingly worse. He's going to need a lot more money if he wants to get everyone something remotely presentable.

"What about today?"

"Not sure...probably should start looking for a job."

"Aw come on, it's day one. We should all just chill at my brother's place. Maybe invite Taekwoon-hyung, too."

"Can we?"

"Why do you always ask that question? Of course we can," Taehyung says before letting out a loud yawn. "Come on, let's go." Jimin follows the other teen out the classroom once everyone else has cleared out. The two make their way to the Kim residence, going over test questions and trying to figure what scores they got. That particular conversation doesn't last too long, because Taehyung gets distracted and starts listing off all the things he wants to eat during summer break. 

"We should have sleep-overs and stuff," Taehyung says once he's done figuring out what he's going to be eating for the rest of the week. "I heard that's what bros do."

"Bros?"

"Yeah bros. We're bros, so we have to do bro-things. Hey, you've never come to my place yet."

Jimin nods, because surprisingly, he's never gone to Taehyung's new apartment yet. He still wants to ask why Taehyung lives alone despite the fact that he's underaged, but doesn't ask. 

"You should come over sometime during the break."

"I will."

"What else do bros do?" Taehyung asks, balancing his backpack on top of his head. 

"...I'm not sure..."

Instead of going to the Kim residence, they decide to go straight to the diner, because they're starving and Jimin has to work in a couple of hours anyway. As always, Seokjin greets them with a wave of a hand and lets his younger brother pester Taekwoon into making something for them. The tall cook always obliges and lets Taehyung basically boss him around. Seokjin finds it absolutely adorable and sometimes pinches the taller man's cheeks, which has Taekwoon flushing deep red. 

"Is there anything you want?" Taekwoon asks Jimin, who remains quiet while Taehyung continuously asks for more cheese, more sauce, less onions, more salt, more seasoning and so on and so forth. 

"I'll have whatever you're giving Taehyung," Jimin replies with a small smile, knowing that Taekwoon is always looking out for him. 

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

"I'll make yours without carrots. I know you don't really like them," Taekwoon continues while grating more cheese onto the skillet. Jimin has no idea how Taekwoon knows this particular piece of information, since he's never told it to anyone. 

The two boys take up a table and eat blissfully before Jimin's shift starts. Taehyung does his best to be useful and even begins serving tables with his boxy smile. The customers, both male and female, adore him, and a couple of high school girls even ask for his number. Taehyung politely declines, saying that he has a girlfriend, even-though he feels bad about lying. 

 

Jimin figures that Taehyung is a bit of a lucky charm, because the diner is bustling with customers from all over the neighborhood. The teen has to work extra quickly to get the plates washed and make sure Taekwoon is getting all the help he needs. He rushes too quickly, because one moment, he's piling on dry plates to the side, and next, his elbow hits the glass jar behind him. The jar goes down and hits the tiled floor with a piercing noise, with shards shooting to all directions. Jimin, without thinking twice, instinctively goes down to pick up after the mess he's created. The first shard his fingers comes in contact with cuts him deep before he can even register the pain. There's blood seeping through the crack, dripping down onto the white floor, but he doesn't even stop. His hand is already reaching for another large piece next to it. 

It's Taekwoon who stops him by pulling him up roughly.

"What do you think you're doing?" Taekwoon nearly snarls as he grabs the teen's wrist with perhaps a bit too much force and begins assessing the damage. Jimin squirms uncomfortably under the touch, because Taekwoon is staring at his messy hand. The one with the bad finger.

"T,the g,glass..."

"You can't pick up glass shards with your bare hands. Are you crazy?" Taekwoon hisses lowly before dragging Jimin to the other side of the kitchen and opening up one of the drawers to pull out alcohol and bandages. 

"This might sting a bit," Taekwoon warns before dousing the cuts with the liquid. Jimin hisses but clenches his teeth to keep from making a sound. The pain dissipates as quickly as it appears, and Taekwoon is putting a bandage on in a swift movement. 

"It looks deep. You might want to get it checked by a doctor, just in case."

"I,I'm f,fine..."

"You need to be more careful," the taller man says before going to the storage room to retrieve a broomstick. Jimin rushes over to take it from the cook but is stopped by the other. "I got this."

"But, I-"

"I got this," Taekwoon repeats a bit more gently this time and commences to sweep the shards off the floor. Jimin stands awkwardly, shuffling his feet nervously as he watches the cook clean up after him.

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

14:31

hey

 

[Jimin] 14:45

hey

 

14:45

how r u?

 

[Jimin] 14:46

im alright

u?

 

14:46

quick question

which color do u like better

brown or blond?

 

[Jimin] 14:47

??

 

14:47

im trying to dye my hair

i cant choose which color

 

[Jimin] 14:47

but i dont know what u look like

 

14:48

still

just pick for me?

 

[Jimin] 14:48

this sounds like an important decision

id feel too responsible

 

14:48

its just hair

lol

pick

 

[Jimin] 14:49

um

id say brown but

blond sounds nice

ive never had light hair

 

14:49

good choice

was hoping for something different

blond it is

 

[Jimin] 14:50

??

wait what?

r u serious?

 

14:50

yup

:D

 

[Jimin] 14:50

no

dont do it bc i said so

 

14:51

like i said

its just hair

if i hate it

ill just dye it again

 

[Jimin] 14:51

i feel bad already

 

14:52

might be the best choice ive ever made

who knows

 

[Jimin] 14:52

um

 

14:52

i think ill look good

 

[Jimin] 14:53

r u going to show me?

when ur done?

 

14:53

probably

we'll see lol

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seokjin loves a lot of things about his boyfriend. The list is extensive, yet he continuously finds new reasons to love the man he's mentally chosen to spend the rest of his life with. Namjoon's perfect. He's loyal, strong, both fearless and gentle. He puts Seokjin before anything else and does everything in his power to make sure that Seokjin is as happy as he can be. The first time they went to a party together, Seokjin had remained a wallflower because he has always been self-conscious about his horrible dancing. Namjoon, knowing this, dragged Seokjin to the dance floor and began flapping his arms about and locking his joints in all the wrong ways until Seokjin was laughing with tears in his eyes. Since that moment on, Seokjin never feared dancing, because Namjoon would always be there to be just as bad and just as silly, and just as supportive of Seokjin as he's ever been.

Namjoon gave him the life he has now. Namjoon's everything to him. 

Right now, he finds it absolutely adorable that Namjoon's hair is all over the place. He looks endearing with his over-sized glasses hanging on the top of his nose. He's mouth is hanging open, his pouty lips even more prominent, and Seokjin has to fight the urge to just kiss him right there. Instead, he settles for just watching from the doorway as Namjoon continues to furiously type on his laptop.

"Baby," Seokjin interrupts after a couple of minutes. Namjoon looks up, his mouth still open. "It's getting late. We should go to sleep."

"Oh, what time is it?"

"Already past 2 in the morning, Joon-ah," Seokjin answers while draping his arms around Namjoon and sitting on the man's laps. 

"Mm, yeah, I can definitely finish this tomorrow," Namjoon says with a lazy smile and places his hands on the other man's waist. Seokjin leans forward to kiss his boyfriend in the lips and help him get off the chair. Seokjin grabs the other man by the collar and pulls him towards the bedroom, smiling seductively as he does so.

"Can we have some fun, or are you too tired?" Seokjin purrs as they enter the bedroom, and Namjoon lets out a fierce growl as he pushes his boyfriend on the bed.

"I guess we can have some fun while the kids are away," Namjoon murmurs into Seokjin's neck, eliciting a high-pitched laugh from the other man. It has become a sort of an ongoing joke for them to refer to Taehyung and Jimin as their kids, since they spend so much time at their apartment. 

Seokjin shivers when he feels Namjoon fingertips against his bare stomach, and Namjoon playfully nips at his boyfriend's neck. Seokjin wraps his long legs around the other's waist, urging the other man to move at a faster pace. Namjoon's just about to pull back and take his shirt off when Seokjin's phone goes off. 

"Tell me you're not going to get that," Namjoon growls, practically ripping his shirt off of his body and throwing it onto the floor before unbuttoning his boyfriend's shirt as well.

"Sorry, but I should probably get this," Seokjin says with an apologetic smile. He wants to ignore it, but it's very rare for him to get a phonecall so late.

"You're killing me here."

"This probably won't take long." Seokjin squirms out of his boyfriend's weight and takes his phone from the night table. 

As soon as Seokjin registers the name on the screen, his blood turns into ice. There is gripping fear clawing at his throat. 

 

 

It's Jimin.

 

 

Jimin is calling him at 3 in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Seokjin's always been a firm believer that's he's quite a calm person by nature. He knows that he can be a bit of a mother hen at times, but he does it because he likes taking care of people, and not because he's fretting. In fact, between him and Namjoon, he was always the more composed one. Even when his boyfriend burnt the entire kitchen, he had sort of found it hilarious as soon as he saw that Namjoon wasn't harmed. But there are a few things that send him to overdrive into panic, and the very short list includes a member of those he holds close to his heard being hurt.

His fingers are trembling. He knows that Namjoon has already picked up on his panic, yet he can't bring himself to relax as he answers the phone.

"Jimin?" He calls out uncertainty, hoping that the boy has accidentally dialed him in his sleep. He does his best to keep his voice leveled, because Namjoon is now right behind him, leaning forward to listen in on the conversation. There is only silence on the other line, so Seokjin raises the volume. He hears what sounds like wind in the background. There's sound of rustling, but not much else. Namjoon gives his voice a questioning look, which Seokjin reciprocates.

"Jimin, are you there?" Seokjin tries again, and this time, he hears what has to be someone breathing into the phone. It's heavy. It's erratical. And it's enough to send Seokjin freaking out.

"Jimin! Are you OK?" He nearly yells into the phone, straightening his back and sending Namjoon back in the process. He can't pay too much attention to that, because the breathing is louder now.

[I...I'm so,sorry....I d,didn't know who,who else to c,call...]

Jimin's voice is strained, and the stuttering added to the sound of rustling and wind blowing makes it difficult for Seokjin to understand the boy perfectly, but he knows Jimin's in trouble, and not the silly kind that Taehyung gets himself into. Something is seriously wrong, and his need to protect those he cares for kicks in so strongly that his gut clenches at the sudden shift.

"Jimin. Where are you," he asks, and he surprises himself with how composed he sounds. Namjoon is already getting off the bed and putting his shirt back on, his eyes fixed into a hard stare.

[I,I'm sorry...]

"Jimin-ah. Listen. You have nothing to be sorry about. I just need you to tell me where you are so we can go get you, can you do that for me?" He continues, getting up as well. He can see his boyfriend retrieving his car key from the corner of his eyes, and he's thankful that Namjoon's doing his best to help in his own way without asking questions. 

[I....d,diner....I d,didn't know...where else to,to go...]

"That's good, Jimin. Now can you stay on the phone for me? Until we get there?"

[N,no, there's no need.....I'm okay...]

"We're going to pick you up, whether you're OK or not. Are you in the diner?" Seokjin asks, suddenly remembering that he had given Jimin a spare key just in case he needs Jimin to open the diner on weekends. He's glad that he did it, because otherwise, Jimin would be outside, probably shivering the chilly night air.

[P,please don't co,come...]

"Jimin-ah, we're heading out now. Don't hang-" Seokjin is stopped when the line goes dead. He stares at the screen incredulously and dials back, only to listen to a message about how the person he's trying to dial cannot be reached. This sends him into full-blown panic mode as he turns to look at Namjoon in shock.

"He..."

"Baby, listen to me. You're going to calm down for Jimin and I'm going to get us there as soon as I can possibly can with my car, alright?" Namjoon says, holding his boyfriend steady by his shoulders. Seokjin nods dumbly before he's practically being dragged out the apartment and to the parking lot. He continues to try to reach Jimin, all to listen to the same dumb message again and again, and his heart is pounding against his chest thinking of all the horrible things that could have possibly happened to Jimin. He sounded like he was in pain. He sounded scared out of his mind. His voice was trembling and strained, and Seokjin has to pray to all higher powers that Jimin is OK right now and hasn't decided to run away.

Namjoon stays true to his words and pushes his car to move as fast as it possible can. Seokjin would normally be against the idea of breaking traffic laws, but right now, all he can think about is how he's not getting to the diner quickly enough. As soon as Namjoon pulls up the building, Seokjin is bolting out the door. The diner is dark, which has him thinking that perhaps Jimin has left the vicinity, but he clings onto the hope that Jimin listened to him. He finds that the door is unlocked, so he goes in, turning on the first light switch he sees. No one is in the hall, so he runs to the kitchen, doing his best to ignore the sensation of ice running up and down his spine. 

He slams the light switch into the kitchen and nearly falls onto his knees when he sees a small figure huddled in the corner by the sink. It's Jimin, and Seokjin, despite the shock and panic and all the turmoil of emotions his body is being forced through, for the first time sees truly how small Jimin looks with his knees drawn to his chest and his face buried between them. He hears Namjoon's heavy footsteps behind him, but he fixes his eyes on nothing else but Jimin.

"Jimin-ah," he calls out softly, resisting the urge to run to the boy and pull him into a tight embrace. Jimin flinches at the sound but otherwise remains still, as if he's oblivious to the presence of the other two men. Seokjin approaches the other and slowly lowers his body so that they're eye-level. He can already see blood on Jimin's hands. He doesn't know where the blood came from, and he's not entirely sure if he wants to know as he takes in dark,dried blood caked under the teen's nails.

Jimin is trembling now, rolling his shoulder in even more. Seokjin breaks his gaze and turns to look at his boyfriend helplessly, because he's at a complete loss as to what to do. Namjoon nears them with an expression that border lines anger more than anything else, and Seokjin knows the other man well enough to know that he's doing everything in his power to not break something and find out who did all this.

"Jimin, hey," Namjoon starts, his low voice ringing in the kitchen. "Hey buddy, don't you wanna say hi?" He asks, doing his best to sound a lot more friendly than he's actually feeling. He can put aside his homicidal urges for the sake of Jimin at the moment. He can do that, right?

At that, Jimin looks up, and both Seokjin and Namjoon have to make a physical effort to not move away from the teen or gasp too loudly. Seokjin's heart twists painfully in his chest as he finally sees Jimin's face. He doesn't know what to feel anymore or what to believe in, because everything is so wrong. He shouldn't be seeing any of this. None of this should've ever happened.

Jimin's left eye is swollen shut, and where his eyes should be is a mess of angry purple and red. His right eye is doing only marginally better, with a cut dangerous close to his pupil and what is sure to be a nasty black eye already forming around it. There's dried blood smeared all the way from his nose to the bottom of his chin, and Seokjin can only guess that's where the blood on Jimin's hands must've come from. There's small cuts and angry red marks everywhere, and distinct hand marks around the teen's neck. Seokjin feels sick now. He's sure he's going to hurl any minute now as he takes in the tangible evidences of violence before him.

He ventures a glance at Namjoon, who's clenching his teeth tightly enough for veins to start popping up on his neck. His knuckles are white from grabbing onto his own knees so tightly. Yet, surprisingly, it's Namjoon who breaks the silence.

"Buddy, let's get you home. Our home," Namjoon says in a shocking display of calmness as he places a gentle hand on Jimin. The boy flinches visibly but lets Namjoon help him stand upright, only to double over and start coughing painfully. Seokjin has to cover his mouth with his hand when specks of blood comes out of Jimin's mouth and lands on the white tiles of the kitchen. Namjoon shoots his boyfriend a wary look but doesn't say anything.

"Hey kiddo, you're not gonna like this, but bear with me alright?" Those are the only words Namjoon gives as a warning before he lifts Jimin off the ground bridal style and wrap his right arm protectively around the trembling teen. Jimin surprisingly doesn't put up a fight but instead hides his face in his own hands as if he's ashamed of what's happening. The couple makes their way out the building and Seokjin takes the wheel as both his boyfriend and Jimin ride in the back. He has to force himself to drive slowly as to not give Jimin another reason to be scared, even though all he wants is for them to return to the safety of their apartment.

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

Seokjin doesn't cry. 

He knows that crying is probably the most appropriate reaction to undergoing something like this, but he only feels hollow. There is an aching gap in his chest as he exits the guest room which is now housing Jimin, who has fallen asleep after Seokjin patched up the worst of the damages.

He sees his boyfriend in the living room, looking absolutely livid. Seokjin knows what his boyfriend is thinking and he whole-heartedly agrees with the sentiment. Someone is going to pay for what they did to Jimin, and they're going to make sure it happens. 

"How is he?" Namjoon asks softly, suddenly looking worn out. His shoulders slump, his hands hanging limply between his knees as he slouches forward in the chair. 

"Sleeping..." Seokjin replies with a defeated sigh, taking a chair for himself as well. Their dining table has never felt so lonely and depressing. "He wouldn't make a sound. Not even when I was disinfecting him. Not even when I had to make another cut over his eye to drain the blood. Nothing," he explains, burying his face into his hands. He knew it must've all hurt. Just remaining in a sitting position at the condition he was in should've been painful, but Jimin had remained expressionless and soundless through it all. And frankly, it was a lot more concerning than the actual cuts and bruises.

"We should give him some time," Namjoon says solemnly, nodding slowly to himself. 

"Should we call the cops?" Seokjin asks, even though he already knows the answer to that question. Namjoon gives him a look and in that brief instance, there's a mutual understanding. They would have to wait for Jimin to talk and tell them what happened before they jump to anything and make Jimin's life worse than it already is.

"I just...I just don't get it," Seokjing continues, his voice barely above a whisper, and Namjoon understands the vague statement with clarity. He's been saying the same thing over and over in his head while his boyfriend was in the guest room dressing the boy's wounds. 

"We know it's coming from his home."

"...Yeah," Seokjin replies, even though he hates admitting it. The word home was supposed to elicit a sentiment of happiness and safety, but that was clearly not the case for Jimin. He himself didn't have a normal family, so he knows that not all homes are rainbows and butterflies, but he never had to worry about bring beaten. 

"What do we say to him tomorrow?" Namjoon asks, already dreading the morning. He's not prepared to handle a situation like this. He's gone through a lot in his life, but nothing like this. 

"I think we just have to wait until he talks to us..."

"Yeah, maybe you're right..."

 

 

-

 

 

Neither Seokjin nor Namjoon gets any sleep that night. Seokjin decides to close the diner for the next few days and calls Taekwoon to let him know. The cook detects the fatigue in the other man's voice but doesn't comment on it. The couple decides to deal with Taehyung when the time comes, although they both know they don't have much time before Taehyung comes crashing into the apartment freaking out about how Jimin can't be reached. 

The couple forces breakfast down their throats, because they both need a sense of normalcy after what's happened only a few hours ago. Namjoon does his best to keep the atmosphere from becoming too heavy, and Seokjin is grateful for that. Seokjin does try to peek into the guest room a few times to see how Jimin is doing, but his boyfriend stops his every attempt. Namjoon explains that Jimin probably needs all the rest he can get and doesn't want to risk waking him up, but Seokjin knows that the other man also wants to just let the boy be for now, even if he is up. 

As expected, Taehyung's flying through the door with his phone in his hand, whining about how Jimin's not answering his texts. Seokjin swiftly drags his younger brother into the bedroom and motions for him to lower his voice.

"Jimin's here," Seokjin says once the door is closed behind them. Taehyung scrunched up his nose in confusion and scratches his head.

"Huh? Really? Why didn't he tell me? Did he sleep over?"

"Something like that, but...not really like that."

"Why are you being so cryptic?" Taehyung asks, crossing his arms. He doesn't like it when Seokjin does it, because it never meant anything good. He knows his brother well enough to read all the signals of anxiety the older man's giving off. 

"Tae, I need you to do something for me, and it's important you do this for me, do you understand?" Seokjin begins seriously before raking his fingers through his hair.

"Shit, did father find you?" Taehyung lurches forward, his eyes wide. Seokjin shivers at the statement but denies it immediately for the sake of his brother.

"No, it's nothing like that."

"You scared the shit out of me for a second," Taehyung breathes out, his shoulders relaxing. 

"I would've called you if that happened. Anyway, this is about Jimin. Tae, you care about Jimin right?"

"Obviously," Taehyung says with a huff, as if he's insulted by the question.

"Then can you not contact Jimin until I tell you to?"

"What?" The younger man lets out incredulously, staring at his brother as if he's asked him to jump off the nearest building.

"I can't explain anything to you. Not yet. But Jimin needs to stay with us, and I can't just, shit, this is really difficult to explain. Look, Tae, the point is, Jimin needs to be left alone right now, and I'm sorry I can't tell you anything more than that, because it's not for me to share. And frankly, I don't know much myself, but just trust me on this," Seokjin pleads, hoping that his usually stubborn brother would just let it go. He can't deal with this right now.

"Wait, that makes no sense. He's here and you get to see him, but I can't? What the hell is going on?" Taehyung growls, throwing his arms out in frustration. None of this is making sense, and none of this sounds fair. What can Jimin possibly be hiding from him? He thought they were friends, bros for life or whatever,

"I know it sounds crazy. Namjoon and I think it's crazy too, but just do this for Jimin," the older man tries, shaking his head slowly. "Tae, we all have secrets we aren't ready to share with anyone. Even those we are so, so close to. You should know that better than anyone else."

Taehyung doesn't say anything to that. He can't. 

"You haven't told everything to Jimin yet, right?"

"....No."

"Jimin will tell you when he's ready. He'll tell all of us when he's ready."

"Hyung..." Taehyung begins after a moment of silence. His voice is a lot softer now. A lot more vulnerable, and Seokjin's almost taken back by it. "Is Jimin going to be OK?"

 

 

Seokjin's not sure how he should answer that particular question. 

 

 

-

 

 

Namjoon's back on his laptop, doing his best to focus on the matter at hand, because he feels that otherwise, he will lose his mind and break everything in the room. He can't seem to erase the image of Jimin cowering in the diner kitchen, his frail shoulders trembling, his already torn hands covered in blood, and the absolute fear that permeated through every pore of his small, weak body. He had felt so much anger. Hot, intense, white anger that was blinding. All his life, he's believed in the good in people. He's seen ugly things. He's experienced how low people can get, but he's never witness such brutality against someone so vulnerable. 

From what he's heard and seen from Jimin, Jimin was basically an angel. Sure, he was awkward most of the time and was quite horrible when it came to expressing his thoughts and feelings, but there wasn't an evil bone inside the boy. He didn't have much, but he did his best to help and took everything Seokjin and Namjoon gave him with such gratitude that it made the couple almost feel guilty. 

Namjoon was hoping that he had been wrong about Jimin's own family being involved in the abuse of the boy. He had hoped and wished that it was just dumb high school kids who did not know better. That he could handle. That he could handle easily without even getting Jimin's parents involved, but the current situation was so much worse than that. 

"Baby?" He hears Seokjin call out for him. He turns to look at his boyfriend, who is walking in with a tired smile on his face. Namjoon's heart clenches. It's been a while since he's seen his partner like this. He didn't think he would ever see Seokjin look so defeated again. 

"Yeah?"

"Jimin's not coming out of the room," Seokjin says quietly, sitting on the edge of the bed next to Namjoon, who checks the time on his computer and sees that it's nearing dinner time. The couple had waited. Waited patiently for Jimin to wake up and leave the room so they can start talking. Yet, hours passed, and not a single sound could be heard from the guest room.

"Maybe we should check up on him," Namjoon says after a minute of consideration.

"I think we should," Seokjin agrees before heading towards the guest room with his boyfriend following closely behind him. Seokjin inhales and exhales slowly a couple of times before opening the door, and they're both surprised to find Jimin sitting on the bed, his back to the wall and his knees drawn to his chest again. There are bandages covering his face, and while his left eye is doing a lot better, it's still visibly swollen, and as expected, the teen is sporting a black eye to his right side.

"Hey, Jiminie," Seokjin begins, forcing a smile onto his face. Jimin turns to look back at him with a weak smile, and the way the boy's eyes falter breaks the man's heart.

"Hey kiddo, good to see you're up. Wanna join us for dinner?" Namjoon says, doing a lot better job than his boyfriend at pretending that nothing's out of the ordinary. "I think Seokjin needs some help in the kitchen, and you know I'm not allowed inside," he continues in an attempt for some humor. Jimin nods slowly and climbs out of the bed, wincing as he does so. Yet neither of the men jump to help him, because they have decided that's not what Jimin needs. They are going to have to wait for Jimin to initiate the conversation they desperately need. They are going to give him the time he needs to collect himself.

Jimin flashes them another weak smile, and Seokjin is dangerously close to telling the boy to stop doing that, because it physically hurts to see Jimin trying so hard to act as if everything is OK.

"What's for dinner?" Namjoon asks as they enter the living room, and Seokjin chooses chicken-noodle soup, figuring Jimin wouldn't be able to stomach much. He comes up with some excuse about how he's found this authentic chicken-noodle soup recipe from an American website that he's been dying to try out. 

Seokjin and Jimin work side by side, with the younger man being given the task of chopping vegetables while Seokjin handles the chicken. Namjoon turns the TV on in the living room to provide the two with some background noise to keep the atmosphere from becoming too heavy. 

"The recipe asks for carrots, but Taekwoon tells me you're not a big fan," the taller man says with a grin. "I think we can do without."

Jimin nods and takes the onion Seokjin hands him.

"It smells so good," Namjoon says as he enters the kitchen some time later. "Are you guys almost done?"

"Almost," Seokjin answers and glances at Jimin, who's stirring the pot with a blank expression. The couple changes desperate looks before Seokjin asks his boyfriend to help him set the table. They finish the meal with the older men exchanging comments about the soup and Jimin forcing the soup down his throat. The awkwardness and tension make Namjoon want to scream, but he maintains his composure and thanks Seokjin and Jimin for the amazing soup. 

"I should get going," Jimin speaks the words so quietly that both men almost miss them. Seokjin almost drops the empty bowls he's carrying to the sink as the words hit him squarely in the chest.

"Where?" Namjoon asks, his shoulders tense. Jimin can't possibly mean...?

"Home. I bet my father's worried about me," Jimin continues, staring vacantly at his own hands. 

"Jimin, you can't go back," Namjoon says lowly, leaning forward against the table.

"I have to. He'll be worried..."

"Well, if he's so damn worried then he shouldn't have-" Seokjin blurts out angrily, practically throwing the empty bowls into the sink with a loud clatter. He wants to finish the sentence but he stops himself by gripping tightly against the counter until his knuckles are white. 

"Jin-ah," Namjoon says gently towards his boyfriend's shaky figure. "Kiddo, none of what's happening at home should ever happen to anyone, do you understand that?"

Jimin says nothing. 

"What your family is doing to you is not OK, and you need to tell us so we can help you," he continues softly, hoping that Jimin's listening. 

"I should go, father will be worried," Jimin repeats like a broken record instead, and both men find themselves at a complete loss for words. Namjoon feels helpless, because he knows that eventually, they are going to have to let Jimin go, because they can't risk Jimin's father calling the cops and filing for missing child. That will end up in all the wrong ways, including never being able to see Jimin again. Not only that, Seokjin can't get involved like this. He doesn't care if he himself has to enter a legal shitstorm. But Seokjin...not Seokjin. 

Namjoon glances at Seokjin and realizes that his partner must be on the same train of thoughts. They're helpless right now. They have no legal custody of Jimin. Jimin is going to have to return to his father sooner or later, and the cops are not going to investigate until their under pressure. 

Before they can come up with an excuse to persuade Jimin to stay, the teen gets out of his chair and bee lines towards the guest room, where he picks up his things swiftly and re-enters the living to bid the others good-bye. Seokjin watches the boy leave the apartment and breaks down, sobbing like a child who's lost his mother. Namjoon's startled, because it is very rare to see Seokjin crying. His boyfriend had been so strong even when they had to go through everything a couple years back. Namjoon doesn't say anything. He doesn't bother with words of consolation. He instead wraps his arms around the other man and let's him cry into his shoulder. 

"Why can't I do anything!" Seokjin shouts in between sobs. He's a mess of overwhelming sense of anger and frustration, so much so that it leaves Namjoon swallowing hard. "Why is it that I can't do anything anymore!"

"Jin, Jin, come on, look at me," Namjoon tries, cupping the other man's face and gently urging the other to make eye contact. "This isn't your fault."

"...But I could be doing something...If I didn't run away from it all...If I still had-"

"Jin, don't ever for a minute regret the choices you made that day," the taller man continues, his voice firm. "That wasn't the life you wanted. You worked so hard to come this far. You being at that diner led Jimin to us. That must mean something, right? We'll find a way, just like we always have."

Seokjin watches his boyfriend through red, puffy eyes and nods. He will have to trust his boyfriend once again. Like he always has.

 

 

-

 

 

"What the fuck is wrong with you today?" Yoongi asks with a scowl and throws a used makeup sponge at Jungkook's face. The singer jerks at the sudden contact and glares at the stylist.

"Did you just throw a sponge at me?" He asks incredulously, checking his face in the mirror to see if the sponge managed to smear anything on his face.

"Yes. Yes I did, and this foundation bottle is next," Yoongi hisses, flashing the glass bottle in his hand. 

"What the hell? Why?"

"You've been antsy as fuck and won't stop moving in the goddamn chair."

Jungkook narrows his eyes at the other man but doesn't comment on it, because it's true. He's been overly anxious in the last couple of days, thanks to Jimin ignoring all of his texts. There were pictures of him with blond hair all over the Internet, with Twitter going insane over how much his fans love the new look. Hell, there were even official online news articles about the change, yet Jimin hadn't said a single word to him about it. He knows Jimin doesn't know who he is, but he was at least expecting the other man to make a comment about what a coincidence it is or if he's dyed his hair too or demand a picture or something, but no. Not a peep. And when Jungkook straigh up texted the boy and said he got his hair dyed, still nothing. Jungkook even sent some emoticons, whined and asked if he's OK, but not a single reply came his way. 

He normally wouldn't be too worried. After all, people lost interest in strangers quickly, and he wouldn't blame Jimin if he did, but the bruises and cuts on the man's face that day...and the way Jimin hid his face the first time they met...

There is an inkling in his gut that tells him something must be dreadfully wrong. Maybe it's not that Jimin isn't texting him. Perhaps Jimin can't text him back. Once that idea was planted in his head, he couldn't get rid of it no matter how hard he tried. It didn't matter if he was on stage or making a guest appearance on a TV show or talking on the radio. The idea kept gnawing at him until he found himself glued to his phone, waiting for a word from Jimin. 

"Does this have anything to do with you dying your hair blond?" Yoongi asks, pumping some of the skin-colored liquid onto the back of his hand. "Which I'm still trying to figure out why, cause now we have matching hair and it's annoying as fuck."

"I'm offended," Jungkook says with a roll of his eyes. Yoongi's hair had been mint colored. Yes, mint as in mint chocolate chip ice cream mint but more pastel, which had made him very visible in crowds. When Jungkook had called him to ask to dye his hair blond, Yoongi flat out refused, because the stylist had gone and dyed his hair platinum blond earlier than day. Jungkook didn't exactly find the idea of having matching hair so thrilling, but he had told Jimin he would dye it blond, so he forced the stylist to do it anyway. The only difference between their hair now was that Yoongi's was border lining white in paleness, while Jungkook was a slight more spring-like yellow.

"Fuck it, I'm dying mine pink," Yoongi growls, dabbing the singer's skin with a foundation brush.

"You're going to fry your hair if you keep doing that."

"Little shit."

"And why pink?"

"Why not pink? And stop trying to change the subject. What's with you today?"

Jungkook lets out a miserable sigh, because he still has at least an hour left with Yoongi, and the stylist is probably not going to let this go.

"Someone's not texting me back."

"Are you dating?" Yoongi asks with a quirk of an eyebrow. He hasn't heard anything from Hoseok, so he had figured that the younger man was still too busy to be seeing someone. 

"No."

"Family?"

"No."

"I know you don't have friends."

"Wow, that's fucking rude," Jungkook scoffs, but doesn't make any valid effort to deny the other. It's true. Both Hoseok and Yoongi know Jungkook's social network is very limited. Which reminds him, Jackson had wanted to talk to him...he should probably get back to him soon. 

"So who is it?"

"Just someone."

"See, I would ask again, but I don't give enough shit to bother. OK, so someone isn't texting you back. What did you do to the person?"

"Why would you assume that I've done something wrong?" Jungkook asks with a scowl, earning himself a bark of laughter from the other man. 

"Because you're you."

"Jesus, I've always known you're a dick, but you're really stepping up your game these days aren't you."

"Is that any way to talk to your hyung?" Yoongi says with a gummy smile as he pumps more foundation. "But seriously, what did you do?"

"I didn't do anything! He just...stopped texting me back."

"Maybe he's busy, what the fuck is the big deal?"

"I just...have a bad feeling about it."

"Stop being paranoid. That's just your fatigue talking. You hardly text people back too, remember?" The stylist says calmly, and Jungkook just shrugs before staring at his reflection in the mirror again.

"Maybe...Yeah, maybe..."

"I'm still trying to get used to the two of you with blond hair," Hoseok says, sauntering into the room with an iced Americano in one hand and his phone in the other. "It's fucking weird. Yoongi, you look the evil version of Jungkook."

"Fuck off, Jung Hoseok, and what the hell, you didn't get me anything?"

"You never asked," the manager answers nonchalantly, taking a long sip of his drink.

"You never said you were getting coffee, dickbag."

"Too bad, get your own."

"God, you're fucking useless," Yoongi hisses through his teeth. Jungkook just rolls his eyes, because he's seen this too many times. Hoseok commences to dance in front of the stylist with the drink in his hand, singing a song with made up lyrics about how amazing his coffee is. Yoongi raises a hand, which has Hoseok running away while letting out a high-pitched giggle.

"Oh yeah, blondies, what you guys up to after today's schedule?"

"What do you mean?" Jungkook asks, finding it weird that his manager is asking him this question. "You mean after this performance?"

"Yeah, I know for a fact you have nothing, because well, I'm your manager and everything, but Yoongi, what about you? I know it's not like you have a social life to attend to or anything."

Yoongi elegantly puts a middle finger up before going back to working on Jungkook's face.

"Why?" The singer asks, glancing at the reflection of Hoseok in the mirror.

"My brother got a job at this diner and I was thinking of dropping by to say hi," Hoseok replies before taking another long sip. "Thought maybe you idiots wouldn't mind tagging along for some real food. He's really good."

"You have a brother?" Jungkook asks, because during his partnership (he likes to call it that) with Hoseok, he has never ever once heard the other man talking about having a sibling other than his older sister.

"Half-brother," Yoongi answers, trying to find the right shade of eyeshadow.

"You knew?" Jungkook's only slightly offended by the fact that Yoongi knows while he doesn't. He thought Hoseok and he were closer than this. 

"Yeah, of course I do. I've known that shithead since we were like five," the stylist answers and Jungkook has no option but to accept the fact that Yoongi knows Hoseok a lot better than he does. He's known that the two men were very close friends, but he never knew how long they've known each other.

"Pops got re-married last year and kinda dragged in a step-brother into the picture. I mean, we don't talk much, because it's all awkward and shit most of the time, but I'm trying to make an effort to get to know him better for the sake of everyone else," Hoseok explains as he plops down onto one of the empty chairs besides Jungkook. The singer knows that his manager's parents had gotten a divorce when Hoseok was in high school and that Hoseok grew up with just his father and his sister. But he wasn't aware of the man's father getting married again.

"Wouldn't it be weird if we all march in?" Jungkook questions, not entirely on board with the idea of meeting someone new at the moment.

"Nah, it's awkward if it's just me and him. He's not much of a talker."

"I'm sure you talk enough for the both of you," Yoongi drawls, shaking his head.

"It's all a part of my charm," Hoseok replies, fluttering his lashes. 

"Disgusting."

"So you guys in or not?"

"Yeah, why not," Jungkook says, figuring perhaps it'll help him keep his mind off of Jimin, and Yoongi shrugs, which the manager takes as an affirmative. 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The apartment is quiet.

Perhaps too quiet.

There's no sound of Seokjin chopping vegetables coming the the kitchen. There's no calming sound of Namjoon typing away on his computer. There's no sound of pages turning with a delicate flick of Seokjin's wrist. There's no heavy footsteps of Namjoon or Taehyung roaming around the living room. There's absolute silence as the two men sit side by side on the couch, lost in their own thoughts. 

Both Seokjin and Namjoon had looked up information online from both Korean and English sites (Namjoon did a lot of translating) to come up with the best way to approach the issue at hand. The English sites weren't as useful as they had hoped, since most of them directed the two to calling the cops or other professional hotlines. Only if it were that easy, they thought. So they had to rely on Korean sites, which pretty much said the same thing, but were more pessimistic. They read posts by actual victims of domestic abuse, and most stated that they just waited until graduating from high school to run away. Jimin still has a whole year and a few months left before that's even a possibility, and both men aren't exactly certain that Jimin will be alive until then. Even they can see that the abuse is getting worse, and there's no telling when punches and kicks will turn into bats and knives. 

Namjoon thinks that perhaps they should hire a private investigator to find out more about Jimin's parents. He knows it's illegal, but it's not like that's going to stop either Seokjin or him from doing it. If they can find out more about Jimin's home, then maybe they can gain some kind of leverage. The only problem is that Namjoon can't shake away the feeling that he'd be reading into part of Jimin's life without permission, and he's not sure if he wants to risk losing Jimin's trust.

However, he's starting to feel like maybe the trust issue isn't the number one priority anymore. Especially because he's tried to call Jimin a few times and found out that the boy's phone's turned off. He doesn't know if Jimin turned it off voluntarily or something's happened and Jimin's phone is broken somewhere, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that Jimin's not here and safe with them.

Seokjin, on the other hand, is slightly more drastic with his thoughts. He wants to just kidnap Jimin and keep him at home until the boy turns legally of age. After that, he'll let Jimin decide what he wants to do with his life. The idea itself is very attractive, yet he's not dumb enough to think that the police aren't going to come looking for him. Hell, he should be more worried about if Jimin is even coming back to the diner after what had happened. What if Jimin doesn't come back? Then what? 

Namjoon looks up with a jerk when his boyfriend abruptly gets off the couch. Without a word, Seokjin rushes out of the living room and into their bedroom, so Namjoon follows. He expects to find the other man crying on the bed, but instead finds him changing. 

"Uhh...where are you going?" Namjoon asks dumbly, watching Seokjin buttoning up a pale grey shirt. 

"Diner," the other man replies curtly, rummaging through the closet for a pair of black skinny jeans.

"What?" Namjoon yelps out, rushing towards Seokjin with his mouth open. "What do you mean you're going to the diner?"

"I need a distraction."

"You're not going to work today, Jin. Not today, not like this," Namjoon counters with a firm expression, his lips fixed into a straight line. He knows Seokjin has a tendency to do this when he's under stress, and he understands that, because he himself drowns himself in work when he has too much on his mind. However, he also knows that it's each other's job to make sure his partner doesn't bottle up his feelings by doing exactly that.

"Joon-ah, I can't stay here," Seokjin says, pulling out a pair of jeans. 

"OK fine, I get that, but promise me you won't work. We can both go to the diner and I dunno, clean or whatever, but we're not going to be cooking or serving customers," Namjoon negotiates, beginning to change as well. Seokjin glares at him for a brief moment before taking his sweatpants off in a single, swift motion. 

"You can't stop me, Joon."

"Yes I can, and I'm going to," Namjoon says with a look of determination. He's not about to let Seokjin force himself to smile the whole day for his customers when he's probably dying a little bit inside. He knows what happens when Seokjin bottles up his emotions, and he would rather avoid that storm if he can.

"Kim Namjoon!"

"Kim Seokjin!"

"Ya!"

"Don't ya me! We promised to not do shit like this!" 

"Shit like what!" Seokjin screams, putting on the pair of jeans and zipping up. 

"Acting like nothing's wrong when something is clearly wrong!"

"I'm not acting like nothing's wrong!"

"You're going to have to when you work, and I'm not letting that happen. Seokjin, don't do this," Namjoon finishes softly, finally taking a hold of the other man's shoulders. "Please?"

Seokjin lets his shoulders slump in defeat as he nods slowly. He knows Namjoon's right. The man usually is, yet sometimes, he can't help be stubborn. 

 

 

 

-

 

 

"Oi, blondies, ready to go?" Hoseok asks as the last of the staff members leave the waiting room. Yoongi scowls at the nickname and shoots a dirty look at the singer as well. Jungkook rolls his eyes, because Yoongi's been a dick to him the whole day for his hair color choice. 

"Am I even allowed to eat?" Jungkook asks as he gets off the chair. He knows Hoseok's supposed to keep him under constant dietary surveillance, so it's very unusual for his manager to ask him to eat anything other than lettuce and tomatoes. And bananas if he's had a particularly tough day. 

"I know you're not going to pig out, and considering your schedule today, I think you deserve some food," Hoseok replies nonchalantly with a shrug of his shoulders. He goes around the room to make sure that nothing is being left behind. 

"It's a miracle they haven't fired you," Yoongi says, closing his makeup box after a final check. Last time, one of his favorite eyeliners had gone missing, and he was not a happy man about it. 

"What are you talking about, I'm the best the company has."

"I worry about your company."

"We work for the same company, dumbass."

"Maybe it's time I start looking for another job."

"You'd miss me too much."

"Fuck off, Jung Hoseok."

"Are we going or not?" Jungkook asks in a irritated tone, having had enough of the bickering. He's both tired and hungry and would rather be just one of them. While the more professional side of him is yelling at him for even entertaining the idea of consuming calories, the more human side of him can't wait till he puts something in his system that's more than rabbit feed. 

"Well someone's being grumpy," Hoseok sing-songs. "Yeah we're going, as long as your evil twin is done packing his shit."

"Call me that one more time and see what happens," Yoongi hisses, holding the makeup box threatening over his head. Hoseok only laughs and marches out the door, and the other two follow the lanky man. 

"What's your brother like?" Jungkook asks as they pull out the parking lot. 

"Tall. Quiet. What else...he seems really nice. Likes cute things even though he doesn't-"

"He's a lot better looking than Hoseok," Yoongi cuts in with a lazy grin as he pulls his seat back. "I mean, Hoseok's ugly as fuck to begin with so that's not hard, but the guy's a good-looking guy."

Jungkook laughs when Hoseok punches Yoongi in the arm. Yoongi scowls and punches the other man right back. Hoseok whimpers like a kicked puppy which has Yoongi telling him to stop being a little bitch. 

"I should've washed my face," Jungkook grumbles randomly as he dabs at his forehead. He hates the feeling of heavy foundation on his skin and eyeshadow around his eyes. He knows they help him look that much better on camera, but right now, all he wants to do is to wipe it all off, get some fatty food, go home and sleep in nothing but his underwear. A lot of his fans assume that he's a bit of a fashionista and probably sleeps in silk pajamas, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Usually he's in just a plain tee and a pair of jeans, but Yoongi makes it seem like he knows what he's going when it comes to looking like a k-pop star. 

"Don't touch your face. You're going to make it look like shit," Yoongi chastises. "Stop being a baby and just wait till you get home."

"Do you have one of those wipes?"

"I do, but I'm not letting you near one. The last time you tried to use one, you looked like the fucking Joker," the stylist says with a delicate roll of his eyes.

Hoseok barks out a laughter, remembering the incident. It was after a TV show recording, where Jungkook lost the game and had to dress like a woman. He didn't exactly make an adorable girl, since he was way too bulky for that, but his fans had gotten a kick out of the heavy eye shadow and bright red lipstick. As soon as the recording was over, the singer had insisted that he gets a makeup remover wipe from the stylist ASAP because he can't be walking around looking like a clown. Yoongi eventually gave in, and what he found later was Jungkook walking around with his red lipstick smeared all over his cheeks and his eyeshadow blurred all around his eyes. The sight itself was frightening, but Hoseok found it absolutely hilarious and had taken multiple photos of the confused singer.

"OK, first of all, that was because of the red lipstick," Jungkook growls, crossing his arms across his chest. 

"I don't care. You're banned from using those wipes."

"Why is nobody on my side?"

"Cry me a river, Kookie," Hoseok says before turning the handle. Jungkook shoots the man a dirty look, even though he knows that Hoseok can't see. They soon fall into a comfortable silence, with soft music playing in the background. Normally, the three would have some loud hip-hop playing in the background, but Yoongi chose something a bit calmer for the evening. 

"How far's the diner from here?" Yoongi asks randomly, playing with his phone now. Jungkook peers over the other man's shoulder to see if the stylist is playing any fun games he might want to download onto his phone as well.

"Not that far, actually. Think we got like two more minutes to go. It's actually right by our place."

"Seriously?" This time, Jungkook's the one that's curious. "How come you didn't take us sooner?"

"One, we were all busy as hell, and two, I only heard about it a few days ago. Like I said, he doesn't talk much, and I actually heard about it from pops," Hoseok answers as they pull up to a red light. Yoongi cusses into his phone when his character dies. 

"Does he know we're coming?"

"Nah. Thought I should keep it a surprise."

"Why?" Yoongi asks with a scowl, his eyes still fixed onto the small screen. 

"Why not? I think it'll be nice."

"What if he doesn't want to see your ugly ass face?"

"Everyone loves me, you know that."

"Why are you so gross."

"What are you talking about, I'm so lovable I can't believe it sometimes. Like I wake up every morning, look in the mirror and surprise myself at how lovable I am, " Hoseok counters with an exaggerated smile, which earns him a look of utter disgust from the man in the passenger seat. 

"Why doesn't our company run psychiatric evaluation?" Jungkook mumbles with a shake of his head.

"I heard that!" 

"I know. You were supposed to."

"You used to be so cute," Hoseok lets out with a sigh. "Oh, we're here," he continues as he begins parking his car in the alleyway. Jungkook lets out a yawn while stretching his limbs before hopping out the car.

"Where are-" the singer starts and then stops when he feels his blood drain from his entire body and leaves through the tip of his toes. 

Now, Jungkook has seen some unbelievable shit during his career as a singer. He's seen the most innocent looking faces losing their career over drug-induced orgies. He's witnesses PDs blatantly asking for sex from under aged boys and girls who are blinded by their need for fame. He's seen love triangles, quadrangles, pentagons, hexagons, you name it, he's seen it all. He's fallen during performances, had a camera hit him on the head during live television. There was a time when an especially enthusiastic fan had hopped onto the stage and tried to drag him to the back. However, he had somehow remained calm through it all, and it's gotten to the point when nothing fazes him much anymore.

But right now, as he stands in front of a particular diner, he's at a complete loss. It's the same diner with the ridiculously good-looking waiter. The same diner he liked to sneak away to. The same diner with Jimin in it.

While he's never gone inside as Jungkook, he can't help but feel a bit naked and vulnerable as he follows the other two men towards the building. Would he be able to act well? As if this is the first time he's ever been here? Will the waiter or Jimin recognize him somehow? And what if Jimin really is in the diner? What if nothing has happened to Jimin and the teen has just chosen to ignore him because he got bored of him or found him creepy? Jungkook's basically immune to people posting nasty comments about him, but he can't help but feel that finding out Jimin's ignoring him might sting a little.

Jungkook holds his breath when he catches the "closed" sign hanging on the door. Perhaps this is his lucky day.

"It says it's closed," Yoongi drawls as he shoves his hands into his pockets, which is a sign that he's not pleased.

"But the lights are on," Hoseok says, squinting to get a better look inside. "I can see someone at the counter."

"But the sign says it's closed. Stop being a weirdo and let's go."

"Well, at least let me say hi," Hoseok counters stubbornly before yanking the door open. Jungkook curses inwardly when the door does indeed open and he sees that someone is indeed at the counter. He recognizes the tall figure and the hair immediately. It's not the waiter, but the same guy that had teased Jimin about his concert video. 

"Sorry, we're clo..." The man starts as he turns around but stops and stares with his mouth hanging open. Jungkook, for a fleeting moment, thinks that perhaps the man recognizes him, but soon realizes that the man's eyes are looking to his right. Where Hoseok and Yoongi are standing. There is a deafening silence in the diner, and Jungkook almost takes a step back at the sheer weight of it.

"Kim....Namjoon...?" Hoseok's the first to break the silence. Jungkook turns to look at his manager, who is now standing with his features contorted in what looks to be...pain? 

Before Jungkook can ask his manager if they know each other, Hoseok is rushing towards the counter at full speed, and before the singer even has time to register exactly what's happening, Hoseok is punching the other man in the face. Hard. Hard enough to send the tall man stumbling back and crashing into the wall behind him. Jungkook gasps in horror, because he has never ever imagined Hoseok to be capable of violence. He instinctively shifts his attention to Yoongi, hoping that the stylist will deal with the situation, but Yoongi is only watching what is unfolding before him with his mouth fixed into a thin line and his eyes narrowed. 

"You fucking asshole! You piece of shit!" Hoseok's yelling now, veins popping in his neck and his face red. His fists are shaking besides him and his shoulders are so tense that Jungkook thinks that the man might snap. "How could you just disappear like that! You let me think you were dead!" 

Jungkook jumps when he hears loud footsteps coming from the kitchen and for a second thinks that Jimin might be in the vicinity as well. However, he sees the good-looking waiter rush in with his arms flailing in panic. The singer thinks that the man is going to call the cops and his face is going to end up on some gossip site again when Hoseok throws another punch at the waiter instead. Jungkook can hear himself gasp at the sudden movement and this time, he actually tries to reach out to stop Hoseok from being a violent maniac. However, Namjoon gets to the waiter first and takes the blow instead. 

"I deserved that," Namjoon says lowly, nursing his bruising face. "But don't hurt Jin," he continues, his eyes downcast.

"Jung...Hoseok...?" The waiter stammers, a hand rising to cover his own mouth. 

"Kim Namjoon! Kim Seokjin! You fucking assholes! How could you do this to me!" Hoseok's back to full-blown screaming mode, his entire body nearly vibrating from the hurricane of emotions building up inside him. Jungkook wants to just leave the diner, because this all feels way too personal. He doesn't belong here. He shouldn't be witnessing any of this. It feels as if the air's gotten too heavy for him to breathe properly.

He glances at Yoongi, who begins moving at his usual slow pace towards the other three men. Jungkook lets his shoulders relax a little, figuring that the ever logical Yoongi will finally calm Hoseok down, but he soon finds out that he's mistaken when Yoongi slaps the waiter loudly enough for the sound to continue ringing in the otherwise quiet diner. 

Jungkook physically takes a step back when Yoongi backhands Namjoon just as hard.

Then as if on queue, Hoseok throws himself at the two men with bruising faces and pull them into a tight hug, all while wailing like a little child. The sound is pitiful against Jungkook's ears, and he slowly makes his way out the building while everyone's distracted, because as curious as he is, he shouldn't be here. So he leaves and walks towards his place, not forgetting to send a text to his manager.

Back at the diner, both Hoseok and Seokjin are quivering mess, their loud sobbing and sniffling masking the other's. Namjoon has his arms wrapped securely around the two, and Yoongi is watching the three from a short distance away with his eyes looking pained. 

"You have a lot of explaining to do," Yoongi says softly once the crying died down. Both Seokjin and Namjoon nod and lead the other two to a nearby table. 

"How did you find us?" Namjoon asks carefully once they're situated. 

"We didn't. His brother works here and he wanted to drop by," Yoongi answers for Hoseok, who's too busy blowing his nose into the tissue handed to him by Seokjin.

"Brother?"

"Step-brother."

"Oh..." Namjoon lets out dumbly. He's starting to see that a lot has happened and changed since the incident, and the guilt that had been eating away with him only multiples as he listens to Yoongi.

"Taekwoon. He works here, right?"

"Yeah," Seokjin answers this time, his hands rubbing up and down Hoseok's back. 

"Should've known you would be working in a diner," Yoongi says with a bitter smile. "You've always liked food. Hoseok and I looked through every cooking school in the country to see if you decided to go pro."

"I'm sorry..."

"We weren't even sure if you guys were together anymore after what happened. Thought maybe one of you died...or both of you," the stylist says with a long sigh. "And here you are...a walking distance from where we live."

"You live around here?" Namjoon asks with his eyes wide open. He doesn't know how they've never crossed paths all this time. Both Hoseok and Yoongi nod.

"Now explain," Yoongi demands, crossing his legs and leaning back against the chair. He doesn't care how long the story's going to take. He doesn't care that he needs to be up early the next day. He needs answers now, and he's not going anywhere until he gets them. 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text


Seokjin looks out the window of the sleek black limousine and watches the bright lights of Seoul tear past him. He was born and raised in the bustling city, but he has never quite grown fond of it. The buildings are too tall, too new, too clean, and the people surrounding him are either too busy or bored out of their minds.

His personal assistant next to him throws him a wary look but doesn't say anything. Seokjin takes pity on the man and forces a small smile on his face.

They are on their way back to the mansion after yet another dinner appointment set by his father. He had to sit through another grueling fancy course meal in one of his father's hotels with some girl from a rich family. The girls are always pretty, with their large, doll-like eyes with lashes that aren't clearly theirs. Their skin is flawless and their teeth perfect. Only the most expensive of lipsticks adorn their lips and only the prettiest of dresses are worn. They are polite and they giggle behind their perfectly manicured hands, yet he can't bring himself to be attracted to any one of them, because he has long found out that he's into men.

Seokjin lets out a long sigh. He knows that he will never be given the opportunity to come out to his family. He knows that he's supposed to be the good heir everyone expects him to be, marry a nice girl from a rich family and continue his father's legacy.

"Seokjin-nim?" His personal assistant slash bodyguard asks cautiously. Seokjin puts a hand up and shakes his head weakly to let the other know that he doesn't need anything. Or does he...?

"Actually, I'd like to stop by Hongdae," Seokjin says after a moment of careful consideration. He's heard so much about Hongdae but was never allowed to go, because his father deemed the place suitable only for plebeians pretending to be cultured. Seokjin doesn't particularly buy into the pompous bullshit but had obliged to keep his father happy.

"Hongdae, sir?"

"Yes. Hongdae."

"I don't mean to be rude, Seokjin-nim, but-"

"You don't need to tell father about it. It won't be too long. I just want to get a look around the area. Let's call it research," Seokjin cuts in, doing his best to keep his voice from becoming too biting. The man next to him gnaws at his lips nervously but nods and tells the driver to take the car to Hongdae. Seokjin leans back against the leather chair and crosses his legs. Yes, some change in scenery may do him some good. Especially after all the greasy French cuisine and fake laughter.

 

-

 

Seokjin's immediately blown away by the sheer energy and noise that is Hongdae. There are people everyone, literally everywhere. They are all young and so carefree, their mouths open in laughter and their eyes twinkling in excitement. Seokjin almost doesn't know what to do with the overwhelming energy as he stands in the middle of the crowded streets and takes it all in.

He is immediately regretting the fact that he's in tailored black suits. He looks so out of place.

He hears music coming from everywhere. From the stores, from random speakers, from the streets and the mouths of people all around him. He's mesmerized by the harmony and the cacophony the sounds create, and he finds himself walking deeper into Hongdae to see where it is all coming from.

He stops every time he sees a group of people huddled together. He uses his height to his advantage and spends time watching young people on their guitars or other instruments, playing pieces he has never heard of before. There are a number of talented singers too, as well as street dancers that blow his mind away.

Then he spots an especially large crowd of people all cheering and bouncing to what he gathers is hiphop music. He peers over the sea of people and find three people dressed in black, and currently, one with pink, yes pink, hair is rapping into the microphone. Seokjin doesn't know whether to be appalled or impressed by the choice in hair color, but the thought is quickly erased as he watches the man perform. The man's hands move with the beat, his eyes focused in concentration, and his passion radiates from every inch of his body. Seokjin doesn't realize that he's holding his breath until the man stops rapping to give room for a lanky man to start dancing. Seokjin sees that the dancer is absolutely amazing, and he wonders just how many talented people exist in Hongdae.

Then a smaller man goes center-stage and starts rapping with the dancer. Seokjin watches, captivated by how the three work together so perfectly and at ease. Seokjin's never known that people can be so passionate about something, and he feels like a lost little child as he continues to take the performance in.

The performance comes to a stop, and the crowd cheers so loudly that Seokjin misses most of what the three men say. The rappers start cleaning up, which Seokjin figures is a sign that the show's over. He lets others dissipate into the busy streets of Hongdae, but he himself is grounded to where he is standing, unable to move away.

"First time a man dressed in suits watched us perform."

Seokjin jumps when he realizes that the man with pink hair is addressing him with a dimpled grin. Seokjin blushes slightly at the attention and scratches the back of his head sheepishly.

"So, what did you think about the performance?" The pink-haired man asks, playing with the mic in his hand.

"It was...it was great," Seokjin stutters out, feeling self-conscious under the gaze.

"Just great?" The other man questions in a teasing tone, and it somehow helps Seokjin relax a little bit.

"Better than great," Seokjin corrects with a soft smile.

"Kim Namjoon," he introduces himself, putting a hand out for Seokjin to take. Seokjin takes it carefully with a shy smile.

"Jin," he answers, having been taught to never reveal his full name unless it was under controlled setting. He knows not much good can come from letting his real identity be known to a complete stranger.

"Just Jin?" Seokjin nods. "I kinda like it. It's like a stage name."

"Goddamn it, that fucker is being all friendly and shit again. Wanna help with cleaning, asswipe?"

Both Seokjin and Namjoon turn to look at the source of the voice, which Seokjin finds out is the shortest of the bunch. The one with dizzyingly bright light blue hair.

"That's Yoongi. Don't worry about him, he's always like that. And that over there is Hoseok," Namjoon explains pointing at the dancer, who looks up from the bag he's zipping to give a quick wave to Seokjin.

"So we're all planning on grabbing a drink. Wanna join?" Namjoon asks with a good-natured grin, and Seokjin doesn't know what the appropriate course of action would be. Danger aside, would it be considered rude to join or to decline? How do people handle these situations in Hongdae?

"You don't have to if you don't want," Namjoon continues once he sees the other man's expression. "But you look like you can use a drink or two."

"....Yeah, maybe you're right," Seokjin replies softly, which has Hoseok jumping towards them and talking about how Seokjin should definitely join by spewing something about the more the merrier. Yoongi just rolls his eyes but doesn't protest the idea and instead kicks Namjoon in the leg to get him to help with the clean up. Seokjin stands around awkwardly, because he doesn't know how any of the equipments should be handled or where they go.

They all make their way to a small bar in the basement of the many buildings of Hongdae. Seokjin is sure that he's bound to catch some kind of an infection in a place like this, but he smiles politely and let Namjoon find a table for the four of them. Namjoon orders a round of beer for everyone, and even though it's his first time drinking beer, Seokjin takes the glass he's handed with excitement buzzing through his system. The four of them talk about everything and nothing. Seokjin does his best to engage, while Namjoon does his best to involve the other man into their conversations. Seokjin likes the way Namjoon barks out laughters as if he's the happiest man alive and the way the taller man wraps his lanky arm around him and pull him into a bro hug every once in a while. Seokjin likes Namjoon's dimpled smiles and the way he isn't afraid of making a complete fool out of himself.

Less than an hour later, both Yoongi and Hoseok are wasted and sleeping against each other, with Hoseok giggling every once in a while and scaring Seokjin.

"We should do this more often," Namjoon says, finishing the last of the drink in his hand. There's empty glasses littering the table, and Seokjin has to fight the urge to clean them out of his sight.

"...Yeah, maybe," Seokjin replies shyly, a tinge of pink dusting his cheeks.

"Here, let me get your number. That way, we can hang out when you come to Hongdae next or I dunno, whenever you're up for it," the pink-haired man continues, pulling his phone out and handing it to the other man. Seokjin bites his lower lip, not sure of what to do. He knows how dangerous it is to give away his private number, but the way Namjoon is watching him with that dimpled grin has him taking the phone into his own hands.

Once Namjoon saves the number under "Jin," he calls Seokjin's phone as well to leave his own. Seokjin saves it under "Namjoon" and puts his phone away.

"So, do you feel better now?" Namjoon asks softly, leaning back against the chair he's sitting in. Seokjin looks up with raised eyebrows. "You looked like you weren't having a good day. Usually beer and some company helps, so was wondering if it did anything for you."

"I...I guess it did," Seokjin answers with a smile and plays with the empty glass in his hands. He had completely forgotten about his duties and responsibilities during the time he had spent with the three strangers. It was nice.

"Man, these guys are such lightweights. Hey, you mind giving me a hand with these idiots? We live like two minutes away from here."

"You live in Hongdae?"

"Yup."

"And you guys all live together?" Seokjin asks in awe. He had assumed that they were just really close friends.

"Yup. I mean, the place we live in is a completely shithole, but we don't mind. Here, I'll take Hoseok, can you help with Yoongi? I promise he weighs near nothing so he should be much easier."

Seokjin laughs and does his best to pick Yoongi off the chair. Yoongi protests the movement by cursing continuously under his breath, and Seokjin sort of finds it hilarious and endearing. Hoseok, on the other hand, is giddy as he is given a piggy back ride by Namjoon. Hoseok has his arms wrapped around the other man so tightly that Namjoon struggles to breathe properly during they short journey back home.

Seokjin dumps Yoongi in front of the apartment, and when asked to come in for a while, he declines politely. He knows it's bad manner to go in unless invited properly ahead of time. Namjoon scratches the back of his head a few times before telling Seokjin to wait for him. The man then drags the half-asleep men inside while muttering something about "fat fucks" and then returns back outside with beads of sweat across his forehead.

"Let me take you home," Namjoon volunteers as they make their way outside the building.

"Oh, no, no, there's no need. I can find my way back home."

"Nah, I'd feel bad letting you go home alone at this hour," Namjoon says with a slow shake of his head. "With you being so pretty and all."

There is an awkward silence as Seokjin diverts his attention to his own toes. He can feel heat rushing towards his own ears at the words.

"I said that loud, didn't I," Namjoon lets out with a loud groan and smacks himself in the forehead. "I'm sorry, I'm a weird drunk. Shit. I didn't mean it like that, Jesus..."

"It's fine. I'll take it as a compliment," Seokjin replies shyly and plays with his fingers.

"Well um...I'll let you find your own way back home but...don't be a stranger, alright? Seriously. We should hang out more. It was fun."

"Yeah. Definitely. Thanks again for...everything."

And with that, Seokjin disappears into the still crowded streets of Hongdae.

 


-

 

The next day, Yoongi is surprisingly the first to get up. Luckily, he isn't suffering from any hangover, so he proceeds to bother Hoseok and Namjoon until they are awake as well.

"How did I get home?" Yoongi asks, his right foot still poking at Hoseok, who's telling the other man to fuck off and leave him alone.

"Seokjin carried your light weight ass here, and I had to give this asshole a piggy back ride."

"Oh shit, I had a dream I was riding a unicorn. That must've been you," Hoseok mumbles into his pillow with a lazy grin. Namjoon rolls his eyes and kicks the other man squarely in the ass.

"Where is Seokjin?"

"Home. I'm guessing."

"Huh. You probably scared him with your ridiculous flirting," Yoongi grumbles, now just lying on top of Hoseok, who protests the weight with a loud groan.

"I was so not flirting!" Namjoon counters with a blush, suddenly remembering telling the other man that he's pretty. He really shouldn't drink around good looking men. "But he was really, really fucking hot."

"OK, I accept your sexuality, yay rainbow pride, yay go gays, but can you tone down the gay so early in the morning?" Hoseok mutters before he manages to push Yoongi off of him. Namjoon shoots the man a dirty look but grins, because he knows that Hoseok is just teasing him.

All three of them had grown up in the same neighborhood for as long as they can remember. They were the best of friends, always eating lunch together, hanging out after school together and talking about how they are going to become the greatest hip hop artists Korea has ever seen. Then middle school came around, and Namjoon started to keep his distance, with excuses that he had a lot to study for or that he wasn't feeling too well. Both Hoseok and Yoongi had been hurt by the sudden change in their best friend, but they never gave up on him.

One day, Namjoon broke down and found himself crying and sobbing like a baby in front of his two other friends. Hoseok and Yoongi were confused, but they gave Namjoon the time he needed to collect himself. That was when Namjoon confessed that he was gay and that he didn't want Hoseok and Yoongi to hate him for it. That he was afraid of what they might think of him. At the time, both boys weren't entirely on board with the idea of homosexuality (and frankly, didn't give it much thought), but as always, they weren't going to give up on Namjoon. So they did their best to understand, did their research, and only a couple of days later, they were the bestest of friends again.

Since that point on, Namjoon slowly opened up as well, and once they graduated from high school, Yoongi and Hoseok even took a visit to a gay bar in Itaewon with their friend to show him their support. Surprisingly, Yoongi was hit on by half the bar, which had Hoseok and Namjoon teasing him mercilessly for the rest of the month.

"See, I fucking told you that fucker was gone the moment he saw Seokjin," Yoongi says, getting up into a sitting position. "Called it."

"So that's your style?" Hoseok asks, getting up as well. "You made us go to a gay bar like ten times to find someone for you and each time you didn't like any of 'em. We thought maybe you weren't even gay," Hoseok complains, remembering the awkward trips to Itaewon. He and Yoongi had to walk around holding hands just so that others won't hit on them.

"You guys make it sound like I'm obsessed with Seokjin. Calm down."

"I think the word is smitten," Yoongi points out, crossing his legs in front of him.

"He's just a cool guy, alright? And I'm sure he's very heterosexual as well."

"Oh boy," Hoseok says under his breath and laughs when Namjoon throws a pillow at him. "Alright, I'm hungry. Who wants to order something in?"

The other two raise their hands immediately.

 

-

 

"Where were you last night?"

Seokjin looks up from his book and finds Taehyung watching him curiously from the doorway. He motions for his younger brother to come inside.

"I went to Hongdae."

"Hongdae? The Hongdae?" Taehyung asks with his mouth wide open as he climbs onto Seokjin's bed. "How was it? How come you didn't take me?"

"I'm sorry, I promise I'll take you next time," Seokjin says with a chuckle. "It was...it was nice. People everywhere, music everywhere. I had beer with some of the performers there."

"Beer? You had beer?"

"Crazy, right? Don't tell father."

"Why would I tell him anything? Tell me more about these performers."

"They rapped and danced. There was a pink-haired guy named Namjoon, a really good dancer named Hoseok and another guy called Yoongi. They were really, really talented and surprisingly nice."

"Are you going to see them again?" Taehyung asks, squirming in excitement. Seokjin shrugs his shoulders and glances at his phone. Maybe he will try texting Namjoon later. "Can I come? Please?"

Seokjin nods and pats Taehyung on the head.

Seokjin knows that things had always been worse for Taehyung. Their father was impossible to please, but Seokjin had done his best to get somewhere near the impossible standard set by his parents. His grades were perfect, he did well on the small projects handed by his father's company, and he treated guests to the mansion with hospitality and charisma. He did as he was told and never spoke against his father like the good boy he's supposed to be. Even then, he was always criticized for tiny mistakes or not being able to do everything even better.

Then there was Taehyung. Taehyung wasn't as smart as Seokjin no matter how much he tried. His grades were nowhere near perfect. He was terrible at anything related to business, and he was too hyper and "strange" to be allowed anywhere near guests. In short, their father treated Taehyung as if he doesn't exist and keeps him locked up in the mansion for the most part in fear of bringing shame to the family name. Seokjin knows that Taehyung understands his position in the family. He knows that Taehyung's cried himself to sleep countless times when he was younger. Taehyung has grown used to the treatment, but the hurt is still there, and Seokjin does his best to keep his little brother happy as much as he can.

"In fact, why don't we ask if we can hang out with them tonight?" Seokjin suggests and watches as Taehyung physically swells with excitement. Taehyung doesn't have any friends. Sometimes people around his age do come around the mansion during their holiday season balls or other social events, and Taehyung has a way of sneaking around to "befriend" them, but the friendship is usually one-sided and not very long lasting.

Seokjin holds a finger up to his lips to keep his brother quiet as he calls Namjoon.

[Hello] Namjoon's low register answers the phone, but there's too much music in the background for Seokjin to clearly understand the other man.

[Guys, guys, shut the hell up, I'm on the phone!] The music dies down, and Seokjin can vaguely make out Yoongi cussing at Namjoon in the background. [Hey Jin, what's up?] Namjoon asks as if they've been friends forever, and this has Seokjin giggle just a little bit.

"Hi, are you busy?"

[Nah, just making some music with the guys. Everything alright? You got home alright?]

"Everything's OK. Hey um...I know this might sound strange, but...my brother and I were wondering if we can maybe all hang out?"

[Oh, the younger brother you were talking about? Tae something, was it?] Namjoon asks, and Seokjin's surprised that he had given that information away last night.

"Yeah. If you're busy I understand-"

[No, we're cool, actually we wouldn't mind a couple of fresh ears to listen to our new songs. Why don't you guys stop by the apartment and we can figure out what to do from there?]

"You sure?"

[Yeah I'm sure. Just drop by when you're ready, and uh, sorry ahead of time. Our apartment is a shit hole.]

Seokjin laughs at that and tells Namjoon that he'll be there in a few. He tells Taehyung to get ready and watches as his younger brother hops off the bed and dash towards his own bedroom, singing a made-up song about making new friends.

 


-

 


"Hey, thank you so much for inviting us. Taehyung really wanted to see you guys after I told him about you," Seokjin explains quietly as he enters the apartment and hands Namjoon a box of pastries he picked up on his way.

"Damn, you're polite. Chill, just friends hanging out, no need for all that," Namjoon replies with another dimpled grin and takes the box from the other man. "And you even got us stuff."

"Hi! I'm Taehyung!" the youngest of the group announces with a boxy smile as he peers from the doorway, and this has Hoseok, the lover of all things adorable, letting out a high-pitched scream before practically picking Taehyung off the ground in a bear hug.

"You're so cute!!! Call me Hoseok hyung!!!" Hoseok continues to yell, twirling the boy around, and Taehyung continues to laugh before complaining that he might throw up.

"Let the boy go, you fucking weirdo," Yoongi grumbles as he enters the living room. Seokjin greets the other man and then takes a look around the apartment. The place is quite small, with a living room that is littered with takeout boxes and empty soda cans. There's piles of paper covering the coffee table and dumps of clothes on the couch. Seokjin swallows visibly at the mess but puts on a polite smile just as quickly.

"Sorry about the mess. Sometimes we get lost in the zone when we write music," Namjoon explains sheepishly as he begins picking up some empty cans off the floor.

"Oh, no it's no bother. Here, let me help with the clean up," Seokjin volunteers, picking up some empty boxes as well.

"No, you're a guest."

"I thought we were just friends hanging out," Seokjin counters playfully with a grin, which has Namjoon chuckling with a shake of his head.

"Good one, but no man, can't let you help with the clean up."

"Can I help?" Taehyung asks, bouncing towards them with his eyes twinkling in excitement. "I wanna help."

"Ohmagawd like why are you so adorable!" Hoseok squeals, pinching Taehyung's cheeks until Taehyung whines that it hurts too much. Yoongi kicks Hoseok in the leg and retreats to the kitchen to bring out an empty garbage bag.

"I guess it's clean up time for everyone," Yoongi mumbles, and the five men begin picking up garbage from the living room. Taehyung ooh and ahhs at every empty bag of chips and drinks, since he has never seen junk food his entire life. Seokjin stops his brother just in time before he tries to shove a stale pizza into his mouth to see what it takes like. Namjoon laughs and promises Taehyung a fresh box of pizza after the cleanup.

Once they are finished, the five men gather in the nice clean living room, with Taehyung waiting expectantly for the pizza promised.

"What do you want on your pizza, Taehyung?" Namjoon asks, with his phone on his hands.

"Pizza."

"Yeah, but what do you want on it?"

"I don't like rucola."

"What the hell is rucola?" Namjoon asks at his two housemates, who all give him a blank stare back.

Seokjin blushes, remembering that the only kind of pizza Taehyung had was the traditional kind, topped with fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and rucola. Taehyung had spat out rucola that time, much to the horrors of his parents, who had sent him back to his room for such display of bad manners.

"He'll have whatever you guys are having," Seokjin cuts in with an apologetic smile. Namjoon scratches his chin as he looks through his phone and then snaps his fingers.

"Here, this menu has pictures on it. Choose which one looks the best," Namjoon says, handing his phone to the teen. Taehyung takes it with a look for adoration in his eyes and then scrolls through the images, with Hoseok explains what ingredients are on each of them.

They end up ordering a meat-lover and classic cheese pizza, and Seokjin volunteers to pay for the meal, despite Namjoon, Hoseok and Yoongi's protest. While they wait, the three rappers let the two guests listen to some of the newer songs they have made, and both Seokjin and Taehyung are immediately captivated by the beats and the rhymes.

"You guys are really, truly talented," Seokjin compliments from where he's sitting, his mouth agape. Taehyung nods dumbly besides him before he stands up and claps like a little child.

"Are you famous?" Taehyung asks in awe, which has Hoseok barking out a laughter.

"Not yet, but hoping to be."

"Can I learn how to make music?" Taehyung asks with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Oh course you can. I can teach you, if you want," Namjoon replies as the other two nod. Seokjin sends Namjoon a grateful look and blushes when Namjoon winks at him.

"That's so cool," the youngest lets out, bouncing in his seat at the thought of being able to make awesome songs like the three hyungs.

The pizza arrives, and it takes Taehyung forever to choose which one to eat first. The five eat while making jokes and getting to know more about each other. Seokjin learns that Yoongi is a lot more considerate and nicer than he appears to be on the outside and that Hoseok has a side to him that is much more serious when it comes to music. He learns that he's never smiled or laughed so much in his life and that he can't seem to tear his eyes away from Namjoon.

Once they are finished with the pizza and the pastries Seokjin had brought with him, Seokjin coaxes his younger brother to leave with him. Taehyung is very reluctant to go, but obliges when Namjoon promises fried chicken next time.

Seokjin doesn't forget to text Namjoon to thank him for everything,

 

-

 

The five continue to hang out whenever Seokjin's parents are not in Seoul, which is most of the time. Taehyung learns the basics of music making from the three rappers, which has him on cloud nine. Seokjin and Namjoon spend a lot of time together just chatting on the couch when Hoseok and Yoongi coach the youngest one.

Months pass, and Seokjin continues to see Namjoon, even though he knows that whatever he's feeling towards the other man is more than friendship. Before he knows it, he's in love with everything about that is Kim Namjoon.

Namjoon is everything Seokjin is not but wants to be. Namjoon is carefree, passionate, not afraid of mistakes and failures and never self-conscious. He laughs like he means it and swears when he feels like it. He's a horrible dancer but doesn't even try to hide it and he is so sweet to Taehyung that it melts Seokjin's heart.

His heart aches every time he sees Namjoon, and he knows that what's his feeling towards the man is so wrong, but he doesn't think he can live as himself without the other man anymore. Namjoon was a pillar. Someone that kept him grounded when the pressures became too strong.

He's so in love with Kim Namjoon, he doesn't know what to do anymore.

 

-

 

"It's beautiful," Seokjin whispers as he lets the headset down. Taehyung, Yoongi and Hoseok were all sleeping in the bedroom, piled on top of each other, but the two were out in the living room unable to fall asleep. Namjoon took the opportunity to have Seokjin listen to a new song he finished just the night before. The song was unlike anything Namjoon normally wrote. It was much slower, tittering between sad and hopeful, and it left Seokjin breathless at how incredibly beautiful the song was.

"You like it?"

"I love it."

"I made it...thinking about you," Namjoon breathes out, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Me?" Seokjin asks cautiously, willing his heart to not jump out of his throat at the words. Namjoon can't possibly mean what he's saying, right?

"Yeah...I just....I dunno..." Namjoon trails off, playing with the phone in his hand. Seokjin swallows hard, and his eyes are busy watching Namjoon for some kind of a sign or a hint. Namjoon looks up from his phone, his eyes more serious than Seokjin had ever seen. Namjoon shifts his body so that they are facing each other, and Seokjin remains rigid as Namjoon leans towards him slowly, not breaking eye contact.

"I'm sorry"

The words are the only warning he gets, before Namjoon's warm hands are cupping his cheeks and his soft lips are colliding with his.

And just as quickly, Namjoon pulls back, and Seokjin's heart clenches at the look of pain and horror on the other man's face.

"I'm so sorry," Namjoon whispers, dropping his head. "But I had to. I'm sorry."

Namjoon gets up to leave the room but is stopped by Seokjin's strong hand on his wrist. Seokjin pulls himself up as well and kisses Namjoon with more courage than he thought he thought he was capable of. His entire body trembles at the contact and his lips quiver at the uncertainty of kissing someone for the first time in his life. He feels light-headed as he feels Namjoon's hands against his face, pulling him in closer. Their breath is hot against each others' and Seokjin feels that he might just die from the overwhelming sensation building up inside his chest.

He clings onto Namjoon desperately, and the other man reciprocates with equal desire. It's only when they're completely out of breath that their lips part and they are panting against each other.

"You have no idea how many times I've wanted to kiss you," Namjoon whispers breathlessly, brushing a lock of the other man's hair back. "I was so afraid that you would hate me for being gay."

"Does Hoseok and Yoongi know?"

"They know. They also know I'm in love with you."

"You told them?"

"Didn't have to. They already knew."

"So...what does this make us?"

"I'm hoping boyfriends, although I understand if you're not into the whole commitment or labeling or-"

"I am."

"You're what."

"I'm into the whole commitment thing."

 

-

 

The two keep their relationship a secret from everyone else except for Yoongi and Hoseok. Yoongi reacts with a shrug and "should've figured," while Hoseok whines about how Seokjin never told him that he's gay. Hoseok pulls everyone, including the protesting Yoongi, into a group hug before telling the new couple to keep the PDA down to a minimum when everyone's present because he's single and bitter. Yoongi calls him an idiot.

Seokjin and Namjoon continue see each other whenever they have the opportunity. Seokjin feels guilty for not telling Namjoon about who he is exactly and what kind of life he leads, but Namjoon is patient with him and tells him to take his time.

One day, Seokjin decides that he can no longer keep this secret from his own younger brother, so he calls Taehyung to his room one night, hoping that he will not lose Taehyung forever.

"Tae, I have something to tell you," Seokjin begins seriously, holding his hands together to keep his fingers from twitching nervously.

"Is something wrong?" Taehyung asks, sleep suddenly gone from his eyes.

"No. I uh...Tae, you know I love you, right? I care about you more than anyone else in this world."

"I know. We're the best brothers in the world, aren't we?"

"Yes...yes, we are. Look, Tae....I've been hiding something from you, and it's not because I don't trust you. It's because I've been so scared to tell you. Tell anyone, actually."

"What is it? Did you break up with Namjoon hyung?"

There is deafening silence as Seokjin stares at his younger brother with his mouth wide open.

"You knew?" Seokjin squawks, his brows furrowed.

"You guys really broke up?"

"No, not that. You knew I was dating Namjoon?"

"Yeah," Taehyung answers nonchalantly.

"How?"

"I saw you guys kissing."

"When!?"

"Can't remember. And it's kinda obvious the way you two look at each other. I like Namjoon hyung. He's nice to us. He's nice to you, and he makes you happy."

"Tae...you're not...freaked out?"

"I would be if you were dating Yoongi hyung. He's too grumpy for you."

"You don't care that I'm gay?"

"He makes you happy, doesn't he?"

"He does, but..."

"I thought we were best brothers in the world. Doesn't that mean we're only supposed to care about what makes each other happy?" Taehyung asks with a small frown, as if he's confused by what Seokjin is saying. Seokjin stifles a sob and pulls Taehyung into a tight hug before letting himself cry.

 

-

 

"Jin-ah"

"Mm?"

"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?"

"What is this, a job interview?"

"Ugh, just answer."

"Well...if I had everything my way, I'd be running my own restaurant with pictures of my famous boyfriend up on the wall."

"You better be talking about me."

"Who else?"

"Are you going to dump me when I become famous?"

"Isn't it usually the other way around?"

"Maybe. But not me. I'm never letting you go."

"And I don't plan on letting you go either."

"Cool. Would I get free food?"

"Always. Do I get signed albums?"

"I would dedicate an entire album to you."

 


-

 


Namjoon quickly becomes quite famous in Hongdae's underground hiphop scene as do Yoongi and Hoseok. The three are constantly invited to performances and free-style battles, and their mix tapes receive much praise from the online community. Seokjin is so very proud of his boyfriend.

 


-

 

"You guys are so fucking gross," Yoongi spits with a scowl as he walks in on the two men kissing on the couch. Seokjin gets off of Namjoon, his cheeks flushed red and his eyes wide in embarrassment.

"Damnit Yoongi, we were having a moment!" Namjoon whines, missing the warmth of Seokjin's body against his.

"I better not see traces of those moments on the couch or else I will kill both of you."

"I think I have more class than that," the pink-haired man counters will a roll of his eyes and laughs when Seokjin smacks him in the arm hard.

 


-

 


"You should definitely open your own restaurant. This is really good," Namjoon says, his mouth full of the pasta Seokjin made.

"Yeah? You think so?"

"When did you learn how to cook?"

"Not sure."

"God, this pasta is so good. How did I get so lucky to get a boyfriend who's also awesome at cooking?"

Seokjin laughs and kisses Namjoon on the nose before wiping away the sauce on the corner of the man's lips.

 


-

 

It's Yoongi's turn to pick a movie for their movie night.

Everyone laughs when Hoseok starts crying and begging Yoongi not to make him watch a horror film. Yoongi doesn't listen, and the rest spend the entire night cracking up at Hoseok screaming like a girl and covering his eyes with his hands. Taehyung takes pity and asks to change the movie. Yoongi lets the youngest one put on a Disney film. Hoseok stops screaming.

 


-

 

Seokjin and Namjoon are lying on Namjoon's bed, facing each other. Namjoon plays with Seokjin's soft locks while Seokjin excitedly talks about a new recipe he came up with last night. Namjoon's mesmerized by the way Seokjin's eyes twinkle and how his pink lips are quickly moving against one another. He can't help it. He leans forward and kisses the man.

"I love you so much," Namjoon whispers against Seokjin's lips.

"I know. And I love you, too."

 

-

 

"You're being serious?" Yoongi asks as he stares at the screen in front of him. Namjoon nods enthusiastically, rubbing his hands together nervously.

"Holy shit, man. This is...wow. I mean, congrats, I guess?" Hoseok says, eyeing the picture of the simple ring.

"You think he's going to say yes?"

"You sound like you're going to propose," Yoongi mutters, slumping on the chair besides him.

"But it's not! Not yet anyway. It's like a promise ring. Is that what they call it?"

"So you're going to give him this ring to tell him to wait till you propose?" Hoseok questions slowly, turning to face his friend.

"Yeah, because Seokjin deserves a proper proposal when I get rich and famous."

"I mean, I guess. Why not. Honestly, he'd probably say yes now if you ask him to marry you," Hoseok continues with a wistful sigh. "Since you guys are soul mates or whatever. Man, how is it that you of the three of us gets into a serious relationship first?"

"What does that mean? Is it because I'm gay?"

"Yes. Exactly that."

"You fucker."

"Think about it. What are the odds of you coming across this human being that's perfect for you who ends up being gay too? In Korea, not so high."

"We're just meant to be."

"Gross," Yoongi groans from his seat. "Shut the fuck up, seriously."

"Stop being so single and bitter," Namjoon counters with a grin and earns himself a kick from the shorter man.

 

-

 


All five of them are gathered around the living room to celebrate Taehyung's birthday. It's the first time the day's celebrated by more than just Taehyung and Seokjin. Seokjin has to fight the urge to cry as he watches Hoseok smash the birthday cake against Taehyung's face as soon as his brother blew out the candles. Taehyung shrieks in surprise and then laughs with cream and bread all over his face and hair. Yoongi ties a ribbon around Taehyung's head before taking a group picture. The three rappers break out into a hip hop rendition of the traditional birthday song, which has Taehyung dancing with the ribbon still tied around his head.

Seokjin doesn't think that he's ever seen his baby brother so happy.

 


-

 

 

It all comes crashing down one evening, when Seokjin's father summons him to the main study. His father doesn't say a word of greeting after not having seen his son for months. Instead, he throws a few photos at his son's face.

Seokjin picks up a photo off the floor with a shaky hand and inhale sharply when he see himself and Namjoon holding hands and laughing at each other. They seem so happy. Not a care in the world.

It feels as if someone's dumped a bucket of ice water over his head. He knows that he should be spewing out some excuse about how this is all a misunderstanding, but panic has rendered him unable to move his lips. Fear is gripping at his throat, squeezing more and more tightly with each passing second.

"You disgust me."

His father's words hit him in the chest with enough force to make him take a step back. He had been found out. He and Namjoon had been found it. He should've been more careful. How could he think that his father would've allowed him to roam around so freely without surveillance?

"You have a dinner appointment with the daughter of SL Industries tomorrow at 6. Do not disappoint me. And as for Kim Namjoon, it'd be a shame for his entire career to go down the drain just because you wouldn't listen to me. Now leave."

Seokjin leaves as he is told, holding the photo tightly in his hands. He wants to cry, but no tear would come out. He wants to scream, but his body won't make a single noise. He retreats to his room and stares at the two faces in the photo. It hurts. Everything hurts so much, but he can't hurt Namjoon. Not when Namjoon's been so excited about possibly signing with a label. Music was everything to Namjoon, and he can't take that away from him so selfishly.

He knows his father too well. The man wouldn't think twice before ruining Namjoon's life. He would take everything from the man and still break them apart. His father was ruthless, and the reputation had served him well in the dog-eat-dog world of business.

He tells himself that it had all been nothing more than a dream. Tomorrow, he will go to the restaurant and meet that girl. Tomorrow, he will break it off with Namjoon. Tomorrow, he will go back to being Kim Seokjin, the heir to one of the most powerful companies in all of Asia. But right now, just for today, he will let himself brush his fingers across the dimples in the photograph before him and whisper Namjoon's name before he falls asleep.

 


-

 

Yoongi is not a happy man.

He wants to break something, but he chooses to remain calm as he watches Namjoon's still figure on the bed.

He doesn't get it. No, he doesn't want to understand it. One moment, they were the happiest couple alive, and next, Seokjin is breaking it off. None of it makes sense, because he could see the obvious love and adoration in Seokjin's eyes whenever they two were together.

He doesn't pretend to understand gay relationships, but he would have to be a fool to think it'd be any different from any other heterosexual ones. They were meant for each other. So incredibly into each other. They completed one another, and both he and Hoseok could see that Namjoon wouldn't be able to function with Kim Seokjin.

Hoseok's gone off to buy porridge and some juice in an attempt to force feed Namjoon. The tall man has become a ghost of his previous self, his cheeks sunken, his usually vibrant eyes now dull and his plump lips now dry and cracked. Namjoon no longer writes music and refused to eat, and Yoongi's starting to get more angry than hurt. It's been weeks, and Namjoon is nowhere on his way to recovery.

How could Seokjin do this? He doesn't want to believe that the other man's capable of being so cruel. Yoongi doesn't trust people, but he had come to trust Seokjin. Hell, Hoseok was just as heartbroken with the news when he had found out and was in complete denial that Seokjin could abandon them like this.

Yoongi doesn't know what to believe in anymore.

 


-

 

It's two months later.

Namjoon's as miserable as he was two months ago. He can't bring himself to erase any of the pictures they had taken together. Seokjin looks so beautiful in each one of them, and he can almost hear the other man's soft laughter in his head. How he let himself fall so deeply in love with Seokjin, he has no idea. He had believed they were meant to be. It was more than just attraction. Seokjin was like the last piece of Namjoon that made him complete, but now he was gone.

He had planned an entire future with Seokjin in mind. No matter how he imagined his future to be, Seokjin was always there. Namjoon wanted to become successful quickly so that he can make Seokjin proud and happy. He had this plan in his head to move to American one day and get married and start a life there. Seokjin was his muse and his future, but they were ripped out of his hands. He knows that Yoongi and Hoseok have been patient with him, and he had tried to get to writing to music, but not a single note would come out. The worst thing is, it doesn't even bother him, because all he can think about is how much he misses Seokjin.

Namjoon's so lost in his thoughts that he doesn't hear soft knocking coming from outside. He waits for the knocking to stop, but it continues. He wishes he wasn't alone in the apartment so that Hoseok or Yoongi can take care of it, but no such luck.

The door opens to reveal Taehyung, who's looking uncharacteristically nervous and sad. He doesn't think he can breathe as he takes in Seokjin's brother standing right in front of him. The last time he had seen Taehyung, Seokjin was right besides him.

Namjoon wordless lets the boy in.

"I came to tell you something," Taehyung begins, his fingers tapping against his thighs nervously. "Hyung will get mad at me, but I need to tell you before he kills himself."

Namjoon looks up from the couch and chokes on air.

"I want to save hyung. I don't want him to die."

"Who's dying?" Namjoon asks slowly, getting off of the furniture. His fingers are trembling uncontrollably besides him. The very idea of Seokjin hurt is enough to send his nerves on an overdrive.

"Jin hyung. He can't live without you, but he's being stupidly stubborn about it, and I think he's going to die if he doesn't see you again. I need your help," Taehyung fires away hurriedly, his voice quivering as if he's about to cry.

"Stop. Tell me everything, from the beginning."

 


-

 

Namjoon's not sure if he's ever ran so hard in his life.

His pushes his muscles past their limits and ignores his body's protest as he turns another corner.

Then he sees him. He sees Seokjin and Taehyung standing in an empty playground. Seokjin is so much skinner than he had last remembered. The man's pump cheeks are nowhere to be seen, and his eyes are lifeless as he lets Taehyung drag him towards the swings. His heart clenches painfully at the sight of the other man, and every fiber of his being is aching to reach out and hold Seokjin in his arms.


"Kim Seokjin."

Seokjin looks up at the sound of his name and freezes when he sees Namjoon watching him from a short distance away. He blinks a few times, because he must be imagining things again. There's no way that Namjoon would be standing in front of him, calling for him.

"I'm sorry!" Taehyung blurts out before he dashes away, leaving the two men to themselves. Seokjin remains glued to the swing, his fingers wrapped tightly around the chains to his either sides.

"Nam...Namjoon-ah..." Seokjin manages to breath out, and his eyes feel hot as tears threaten to come out. He promised himself that he'd never cry over Namjoon again, because he doesn't deserve the sadness. Because there is still so much guilt inside him for dragging Namjoon to his side of the world and thinking that it would be OK. He had foolish done what his heart had told him to do, and everyone was suffering from it.

"Kim Seokjin," Namjoon repeats before he walks over to the other man and pulls him into a crushing hug. "Why...why didn't you tell me anything," he continues harshly, inhaling the familiar and comforting scent that was Seokjin. "Why did you make that decision on your own? Why did you..."

"Joon-ah..."

"I heard everything from Taehyung."

"Joon-ah, we can't. I can't put you in this position. Please."

"I don't care about any of those things. I don't need to become famous if you're not around to see it with me. So stay with me."

"You don't understand. That's not how any of this works. You can't be with someone like me. He will destroy everything you have. He'll hurt Yoongi and Hoseok, and plus...I'm getting married next month," Seokjin breathes out heavily after he pushes Namjoon away with his hands.

"You're what?"

"Father picked out someone for me. I don't have a choice. I'm sorry. It's better this way."

"Do you love her?"

"No. But I don't need to," Seokjin answers truthfully. He knows it would have been better if he had lied to Namjoon and said that he's in love with the girl. But he doesn't want lie anymore to Namjoon.

"Bullshit, Jin. Stay with me. You don't have to do any of those things. You don't need to marry someone you don't even love or run a company you don't even want in the first place. We can stay together and we can open a small restaurant somewhere and live like that happily."

"Why don't you understand, Joon-ah? I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to hurt any of you. He will ruin everything you guys have worked for. He will hurt you and your friends and families and still keep me away from you!"

"Then run away with me."

"What are you even saying!"

"Let's disappear and start fresh somewhere else. We'll get out of here. Away from all this."

"I can't just run away from everything and expect things to be OK!"

"Jin, I love you and I'm never letting you go again," Namjoon says quietly, and the words are enough to make Seokjin break down in tears that he had tried so hard to hold back for the past months. His entire body shakes at the weight of his sobs, tears running down his face freely.

"I love you too, God, I love you so much. I've missed you so much, I love you, Joon-ah, I love you so much," he confesses between sobs and let's Namjoon hold him close.

"Run away with me. We'll disappear. We won't even tell Hoseok and Yoongi. That way, they'll hate me, but at least they'll be safe."

"You're really going throw away everything for me?"

"Yes. Yes I am."

And those were the only words Seokjin needed to hear.

 


-

 


There is a deafening silence among the four men gathered around the diner table once Namjoon finishes his story. Hoseok is crying softly into the sleeves of his shirt, while Yoongi is staring at his own hands with a grim expression that is a combination of helplessness and pain. Seokjin and Namjoon remain still, waiting for either of the two men to break the silence.

"So you're telling me that Seokjin is the son of BH Industries?" Yoongi begins quietly. Seokjin nods, bowing his head down, because he's too ashamed to face Yoongi or Hoseok. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"I didn't know how to," Seokjin replies honestly. "I thought you would treat me differently..."

"Namjoon told me he likes dick and I accepted for who he is. Why the fuck would I treat you any differently because your father has a lot of money," Yoongi growls angrily, raking his hair back with his fingers. "I mean, OK, fine. I get it. Whatever. But Namjoon, you just left. You just fucking left. You left your laptop behind, your notes behind, you left everything behind. We thought you had been murdered. We thought you were dead somewhere. You let me and Hoseok think something had happened to you," Yoongi continues, his voice wavering.

"I'm sorry...I thought I was protecting you guys."

"Protect us? That wasn't your fucking choice to make," Yoongi hisses and wipes at his eyes furiously when a single teardrop threatens to come out. "What did you think was going to happen? That we continue our career without you? We were a team, Kim Namjoon. We were supposed to get to the top together."

Namjoon looks so pained, Yoongi almost takes pity on his friend, but the anger is too much to contain. He kicks one of the diner chairs and let's it fly across the floor. Seokjin flinches at the sound but remains still.

"Where's Taehyung?" Hoseok asks, his voice still quivering.

"He's here. In Seoul," Seokjin answers quietly.

"You guys kept in contact?"

"Yes and no."

Seokjin explains that he had handed Taehyung his new number in case of an emergency on the day that he disappeared off the grid. Taehyung cried but didn't stop Seokjin from leaving. Taehyung held his brother's hands and pleaded that he be happy. Seokjin promised to come back for Taehyung once he's settled and made the other promise him to call him if his father ever did anything to Taehyung.

Time passed. Months passed without the two brothers contacting each other. Seokjin had wanted to hear Taehyung's voice so badly but stopped himself every time. The guilt of having left his brother in that horrid mansion killed him inside, but it also drove him to save up money more quickly.

Then one day Taehyung called him. Seokjin began crying into the phone before Taehyung's voice even came on. Taehyung began sobbing as well, and the two cried and cried until there were no more tears left in them. Taehyung then explained that their father had unofficially disowned Seokjin, saying that he can't have a freak like that ruin the family's image. It all came down to Taehyung to continue the legacy, but Taehyung had put up a fight. His father had eventually given up on trying to turn a failure like Taehyung into anything and let the boy live his life however he wanted.

The next morning, Taehyung was all smiles as he stood in front of Seokin and Namjoon's place, with a large suitcase in one hand.

"I missed you guys so much," Hoseok breathes out hoarsely, his face red and blotchy. "Seokjin, I thought you were such a fucking asshole for leaving Namjoon...and I thought maybe Namjoon killed himself because he couldn't stand not being with you," he confesses, dabbing at his eyes again. Seokjin's heart breaks at the sight and he jumps from his chair to pull Hoseok into a comforting embrace.

"Where the fuck did you guys go off to anyway?" Yoongi asks, his eyes still fixed on the two men hugging each other.

"Busan first. Seokjin started working at a restaurant there. I became a writer."

"A writer? Shit. I mean, you always liked to write."

"Yeah...and helped me stay off the grid with using a pseudonym and all."

"And this diner?"

"It's ours. I mean, we still have to pay the rent and it's small, but....Seokjin's happy here."

"Are you?"

"...Yeah."

"Why did you come back to Seoul?"

"To find you guys again...but it wasn't as easy as we thought it'd be. You guys weren't in Hongdae anymore."

"We left Hongdae shortly after you left. Hoseok couldn't stand being in the apartment."

"I'm sorry."

"Hoseok and I stayed in the industry. Hoping that maybe you'd make it big from somewhere else and we could find you. I mean, we couldn't continue rapping without you in the picture, but...I became a stylist and Hoseok became a manager for this singer."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah, seriously."

There's a pause.

"We kept trying to call you guys. They were never on, and then one day, both numbers were no longer in service. I think....I think that's actually what got me thinking perhaps you guys might still be together somewhere."

"Oh..."

"Yeah."

"I don't know what else to say other than I'm sorry. I know I've ruined everything for you guys. Shit...I fucked up."

"Yeah, well not the end of the world. But just know what if you pull that shit again, I'll find you and murder you. I don't need anyone's protection, Kim Namjoon."

"We weren't thinking straight. I was scared, so was Seokjin."

"Obviously...but...I'm glad to see you guys alive and happy. You look good. Seokjin looks good. He feels...different."

"Yeah. He's a lot more comfortable with himself now," Namjoon comments as he watches Seokjin wipe the tears out of Hoseok's eyes, even though he himself is crying in buckets as well.

 

 

 

Finally, he's home again.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The four men head to Seokjin and NamJin's apartment, because Hoseok insists that they have a giant sleepover in celebration of the reunion. Seokjin calls Taehyung over, and the teen is barging through the door a few minutes later, his entire body covered in sweat and his hair all over the place. Taehyung always has tears welling in his eyes, which he brushes away furiously with the sleeve of his hoodie.

"Hoseok-hyung? Yoongi-hyung?" He bellows as he runs towards the two men standing in the living room. Both Hoseok and Yoongi turn to find the teen standing only a short distance away, his lips stretched into his trademark boxy smile. Hoseok is immediately bursting into tears, which has Taehyung running towards him with his arms open. The two men grab hold of each other, and the sound of their crying fills the otherwise quiet space.

Hoseok pulls back to get a good look at Taehyung. Taehyung's gotten so much bigger, his features much more distinctive and mature. The innocent twinkle was still evident in his eyes, but there were now more strength and conviction in them. Hoseok can't help but feel proud at how much the teen had grown in the time of their absence.

"Look at you, all grown up," Hoseok says with a teary smile as he watches Taehyung sniffling like a little child.

"I missed you, hyungs," Taehyung begins, wrapping his arms around both Yoongi and Hoseok. Yoongi does his best to appear calm, but both Namjoon and Seokjin can see clearly that Yoongi is struggling to keep his emotions at bay.

Seokjin feels a familiar wave of guilt washing over him as he watches his brother crying so pitifully against his friends. He had missed both Yoongi and Hoseok dearly, but somehow, he had overlooked the fact that Taehyung would miss them just as badly. He had deprived Taehyung of the strong presence of the two hyungs, and he's not sure if he can ever forgive himself for doing it so selfishly.

He knows that he had put Taehyung under a lot of pressure by leaving everything behind. He had left Taehyung alone to fend for himself, and even though Taehyung acted so brave and strong, Taehyung was still a child back then and still is. He had to fight his father's disapproval all by himself, and Seokjin is forever grateful for his brother's sacrifice.

"You've grown a lot, Tae," Yoongi comments with a pat on the teen's head once he realizes that Taehyung is taller than him now. Taehyung flashes the older man a boxy grin, and Yoongi returns it with one of his rare gummy ones.

"Tell me everything," Taehyung says, dragging the two men to the couch. "I want to hear everything. What do you guys do now? Where do you live? Do you guys still live together?"

"Tae, calm down," Namjoon says gently, putting a hand on the teen's shoulder. "One at a time."

"We sort of live together. Yoongi's a stylist. I'm a manager. We work with the same singer."

"That's so cool! Who?"

"Jungkook. Have you heard of him?"

Seokjin, Namjoon and Taehyung all stare at Hoseok with their mouths open.

"The Jeon Jungkook?" Taehyung asks, his eyes widening. "No way! My best friend likes him a lot. We even saw him perform one time."

"Oh fuck," Yoongi groans all of a sudden, wrapping his head with his hands. "We lost Kookie. Where the fuck is he?"

"Oh shit," Hoseok mirrors, once he realizes that they had entered the diner as three. He had been so caught up in the situation that he had completely forgotten about the singer altogether. "Oh shit, oh shit. I didn't even see him go, did you?"

"No, I was too busy watching you punch the fuck out of Namjoon."

"You punched Namjoon-hyung?" Taehyung asks in fascination but is quickly ignored.

"Shit hold on, let me check my phone," Hoseok asks, pulling the long-forgotten device out of his pocket. He sighs in relief when a new text reads that Jungkook is back in the apartment. "OK, whew, he's alright. He's back at the apartment. Shit, I thought I lost a k-pop idol for a second."

"They let you in charge of another human being?" Namjoon asks with a teasing grin as he takes a seat next to Taehyung.

"Shut the hell up, I'm still mad at you, you dickwad," Hoseok counters just as playfully.

Namjoon puts his hands up in surrender as Seokjin rests his chin on his right shoulder with a laugh.

"I see that you two are as gross as ever," Yoongi mumbles, crossing his legs in front of him.

"Hyung, are you sleeping over tonight?" Taehyung asks, bouncing in his seat. "Can you? Because if you are, I'm going to, too."

"Yeah, I mean, I have to leave at like 4 so that sucks, but yeah, I'll be here until then."

"Can we all sleep in the living room? I still wanna hear everything," Taehyung asks his older brother, and while Seokjin would normally be against the idea, he nods and drags Namjoon to help him collect all the blankets in the apartment to dump into the living room.

 

 

-

 

 

Jungkook looks up to find Jimin watching him with a small smile across his lips. A strong gust of wind pushes the singer to take a step back, and this is when he realizes that they are standing at the rooftop of a skyscraper. Jimin is standing dangerously close to the edge of the building, and Jungkook tries to push the sinking feeling building inside him as he slowly motions at the smaller man to come closer. Jimin shakes his head and remains still. The teen's smile becomes bigger, and Jungkook can't help but think how beautiful it all seems amidst the tension surrounding them.

Jungkook calls out Jimin's name, and the word sounds strange on his lips. Jimin tilts his head to the side and blinks slowly. The teen takes a small step towards the edge, and this has Jungkook's palms sweaty and knees weak. Jimin's going to jump and he needs to stop him.

"Jimin. Come here. Walk towards me."

Jimin turns around to look at him again, the smile unwavering.

Then Jimin jumps.

Jungkook lurches forward, screaming Jimin's name.

And the next thing he knows, he's sitting on his bed, his right arm stretched towards nothing but thin air. There's a thin film of sweat covering his entire body, and the fabric of his tee sticks to his skin in the most irritating way possible.

Jungkook doesn't remember the last time he had a dream. Usually, he's so far out or getting short naps throughout the day as opposed to a solid 8-hour rest that he doesn't have the chance to dream. Yet, for the first time in many months, and perhaps even years, a dream is vivid on his mind and chilling in its realness. He brushes his damp locks of hair back, hating how it's sticking to his forehead.

It's a good few minutes later that the singer realizes that his phone is blinking besides his pillow. He swipes the screen on and winces at the sudden illumination. There, on the screen, he sees a text from Jimin.

He doesn't read it immediately, because he spends some time wondering if he's still dreaming or if this is in fact reality and Jimin decided to contact him again. He then opens it and frowns at the simple words that read "Are you awake?" He checks the time and sees that the message came hours ago. Despite the lateness of his reply, he quickly texts back that he is awake, because the same sinking feeling that had dominated the dream is now back and creeping towards him.

He waits and waits but doesn't get any text back from the teen. Figuring that Jimin's probably asleep again, he lies back down and stares at the ceiling. The nagging feeling however doesn't dissipate and continues to bother him mercilessly. He eventually accepts that sleep had long left him and decides to go grab himself a glass of water. He's halfway out the room when his phone vibrates loudly.

For a second, he wants to ignore it, figuring maybe it's another fan who's gotten a hold of his number. Yet, the chilling dream, added with the text, is enough to send him back to his bed.

He doesn't recognize the number. And it starts with 02, so he knows that it's a Seoul landline number. Now why would any office or whatever be open at this hour and calling him? He answers and winces when his voice comes out more a croak than a coherent "hello."

[Hello, this is BT University Hospital. We're calling because we have Park Jimin here as a patient.]

Jungkook swears that something just slithered down his spine.

"Did you say Park Jimin? What happened?"

[He's in the ICU at the moment. There has been a car accident. We weren't able to find any legal guardian to contact and this is the last number any call or message was sent out to. May I ask what your relation to Mr. Park Jimin is?]

"...Car accident?"

[Yes, Mr....Min Yoongi. What's your relation to Mr. Park Jimin?]

Jungkook furrows his brows at Yoongi's name and then remembers that he had lied to Jimin about his actual one.

"Friends. We're friends," he answers after a moment of hesitation. As he says those words, all he can think of is how Jimin is in the ICU. Jimin's in critical condition. Jimin's been in a car accident. Jimin has no legal guardian to contact. He needs to go, but he's not Min Yoongi. He needs to go, but he's Jeon Jungkook. He can't be seen in public going to a hospital in the middle of the night.

[Mr. Min, if you can-]

"I...I'll be right there," Jungkook says and then hangs up as he bolts out the room to find Hoseok. Then he remembers that Hoseok's not in the apartment with him. Neither is Yoongi, because apparently they were sleeping over at an old friend's house.

He fumbles with his phone and dials Yoongi, not giving a shit that he's going to have a lot of explaining to do and that Yoongi's probably going to kill him when the cat's out of the bag. The phone rings about 7 times before Yoongi picks up with a groggy and clearly irritated voice.

[Jeon Jungkook, I'll fucking kill you if this isn't a matter of life or death]

"It is. Not mine, but it is. Yoongi hyung, I need you to go to BH University Hospital ICU for me."

[What the fuck. Am I dreaming or did you have some weird ass dream. Do you know what time it is?]

"You're not dreaming, I'm not being weird. Hyung, I'm serious. I need you to go to the hospital for me. I'll tell you everything on your way," Jungkook answers desperately, hoping that Yoongi would just listen to him and do as he says.

[You want me to drive to a hospital at this hour and you're not going to tell me why?]

"Can you just go, please? Where's Hoseok hyung?"

[Next to me. Why.]

"I dunno why I just asked you that. Habit. Maybe he can go with you too."

[Listen up, you little shit, you can't just-]

"Hyung. Please. Go and ask for Park Jimin."

[Who the fuck is Park Jimin?]

"I swear I'll tell you everything. Just say your name and tell the nurse you're his friend."

[Are you in some kind of trouble you asshole?]

"No. I'm not in any trouble. Jesus, hyung, just this one, just do this for me. Please."

[Fine. BH University Hospital. ICU. Park Jimin. Friend. Fine.]

"Thank you. Seriously, thank you. Let me know when you get there."

[I fucking hate you.]

Jungkook breathes a sigh of relief and then slumps back onto the bed. All he can do now is to wait patiently for Yoongi to arrive at the hospital and then tell him how Jimin's doing.

 

 

-

 

 

"What's that about?" Hoseok asks from the floor, rubbing his eyes tiredly. He, like Jungkook and Yoongi, have become light sleepers, thanks to the nature of their work, and Yoongi's angry hissing is more than enough to pull him back into consciousness.

"Jungkook. He wants me to go to some hospital to ask for some guy named Park Jimin. Any idea?"

"Park Jimin? No...doesn't ring a bell. I know most of the people he hangs out with, but I don't know any Jimins...but wait, hospital?"

"Yeah, something about ICU and how I have to ask for that guy and pretend I'm his friend. He says he'll explain later. Fuck. It's like ass 'o clock in the morning what the fuck. I don't have time for this bullshit," Yoongi mutters with a frustrated sigh as he gets back up on his feet. He's entire back is aching from sleeping on the floor, no matter how many blankets he layered underneath him.

"Shit. Alright, I'll go with you," the manager says, once the words finally register. He's not entirely sure about what's happening, but he knows it's emergency if Jungkook is making a personal request like that.

"You can't. You have to pick Jungkook up in like an hour."

"I'm pretty sure we have enough time," Hoseok mutters as he picks up Taehyung's arm that's draped around his middle. Taehyung makes a noise of protest before falling back into deep slumber.

"I'm going to kill him."

"Nah, we need him for our salary," Hoseok says with a chuckle as he pushes himself into an upright position.

"You guys going already?"

The two men turn to find Seokjin up as well, his eyes puffy from all the crying from hours earlier. They had forgotten that Seokjin is a fairly light sleeper unless he's drunk.

"Yeah. Oh hey, any idea how far BH University Hospital is from here?" Hoseok asks, carefully stepping over the teen while checking for his phone and his wallet.

"BH University Hospital? I think like...half an hour? 20 minutes? Why? Someone hurt?"

"Not sure, but apparently we have to check up on a Park Jimin from the ICU," the manager replies with a yawn and then turns to face Seokjin when he finds that the taller man is watching him with a look of panic.

"Did you say Park Jimin?" Seokjin breaths out, his hand instinctively reaching over to his heart. It's suddenly going a mile a minute, and the sensation alone is enough to make Seokjin want to cry again.

"Yeah. Why?"

"No...nothing. Just...we know a Park Jimin," he explains lamely as he tries to regain composure.

"Jimin's like the most common name in Korea, and Park's like the third most common last name" Yoongi grumbles as he taps his jeans to make sure his wallet is intact.

"How...do you know this Jimin?" Seokjin asks carefully, trying to ignore the feeling of dread building inside the pit of his stomach. He has to remind himself that Yoongi's correct. Jimin's a fairly common name, shared by both men and women alike, so the Jimin he's looking for can't be the one in ICU, right?

"Oh, we don't know him personally. Someone's making us check up on him."

"Oh. Um. Right. Well, if you need anything, let us know," Seokjin continues unsurely, fidgeting with his fingers. He sees them out the door and then returns to the living room, where he spends the rest of the night willing himself to just calm down and stop imagining Jimin lying on a hospital bed.

 

 

-

 

 

"Is he alright?" Jungkook asks as soon as Yoongi calls him to tell him that they are leaving the hospital and are on their way to pick him up. Yoongi, still grumpy from being deprived of well deserved sleep, answers that they weren't able to actually see Jimin because one, they are not family members or legal guardians, and two, it's outside visiting hours anyway.

"Well, what was wrong with him?"

[Car accident. They said something about drunk driving, but won't go into details.]

"Shit...How badly was he hurt?"

[I don't remember everything exactly, but something about punctured lungs and...metal going through his stomach?]

"Did you just say through his stomach?"

[Yeah, like a piece of metal went right through or something. The doc refused to be too specific because we're not family or some bullshit like that. OK, now you better explain what the hell this is all about.]

Jungkook contemplates lying through his teeth but gives up, because really, who is he trying to fool? And given that he made Yoongi go all the way to the hospital at well past two in the morning, he can't bring himself to not tell the other the truth.

"He's...he's the fan."

[He's what?]

"The fan. The guy fan I told you about."

[...are you fucking shitting me right now?] Yoongi sounds both confused and angry, and Jungkook knows from experience that the combination is never good news when it comes to Min Yoongi.

"Now I kinda wish I was."

[What the actual fuck, Jeon Jungkook. How the hell did you know he's in the ICU?]

"I might have...been contacting him," the singer admits defeatedly, realizing that there's no point in hiding anything anymore. Yoongi's going to be pissed off at him no matter what he says, and he's rather not endure that storm twice by having the stylist find out the truth on his own later.

[You what?]

"He doesn't know who I am. It's a long story-"

[Oh I have all the time in the world, asshole. Do tell.]

"Can we...can we talk about this later? I swear I'll tell you everything, but just...is he OK? Like, is he going to be OK?" Jungkook asks desperately, once he remembers what Yoongi had told him about Jimin's condition. Punctured lungs and metal going through stomach. He feels sick just thinking about an accident that would warrant that level of damage. How does one survive an impact like that?

[God, you're a piece of shit. I dunno. The doc said something about surgery and ventilator and that he's being stabilized. Jeon Jungkook, what the fuck have you been doing with this fan? Are you out of your mind?]

"He doesn't even know who I am! I swear."

[We're definitely going to talk about this after your schedule.] Yoongi finalizes in a low voice before he hangs up, and somehow, Jungkook doesn't even care, because his mind is buzzing with the image of Jimin inside a crushed vehicle with blood everything.

 

-

 


Seokjin paces around in the bedroom until he can no longer take it. Yoongi had gone off after talking about a Park Jimin in the ICU. Seokjin had called Jimin's number, but it was turned off. Yoongi had told him that Jimin is a common name, but he can't ignore the minute possibility that they might be talking about the same Jimin.

He hates being pessimistic. Namjoon's always telling him that he needs to stop with the negativity and be more hopeful in life. Seokjin knows that he worries too much, enough for the both of them, and he's really been trying for the past year or so to be optimistic, but right now, his gut instinct is screaming at him that something is wrong.

He pulls out his phone and searches for the number for BH University Hospital's ER with trembling fingers. He waits impatiently for someone to pick up and then jerks when a woman's voice answers.

[BH University Hospital ER.]

"Hi. Hello. Is there a patient by the name of Park Jimin in the ICU?"

[Hold please.]

There is the sound of someone typing away on a keyboard.

[Yes, we have a Park Jimin currently in the ICU.]

"Born on October 13th?"

[Uh...yes. Are you related to the patient?]

Seokjin's hand flies to his mouth, because he suddenly feels violently sick, as if someone's wrenching his guts.

"What, what happened! Is he OK?" The man shouts into the phone frantically, and he barely registers the sound of heavy footsteps, followed by Namjoon bursting through the door in panic.

[There has been a car accident. We weren't able to find any legal guardian to contact so far. May I ask what your relation to Mr. Park Jimin is?]

The lady on the other line is awfully calm, and this irritates Seokjin. How can she be asking this question right now?

"Employer. Just...is he going to be OK? How badly hurt is he?" the man asks, doing his best to suppress the frustration and anger he's feeling towards both the woman and himself. Jimin's in the ICU and he hadn't known about it. Jimin's been in a car accident, and he had been completely clueless. "Never mind, I'll be there as soon as I can," he continues abruptly and then hangs up. There's no point in staying on the phone asking if Jimin's OK. He needs to physically see Jimin right now.

"Jimin's in the ICU," Seokjin whispers hoarsely as He finally looks at Namjoon. He watches as his boyfriend's expression quickly turn from confusion into that of shock and then horror.

"ICU?"

"They said something about a car accident. We need to go."

Namjoon doesn't need to hear anymore, because he's already reaching for his car key.

During the entire ride to the hospital, Seokjin is a complete mess besides the taller man. He doesn't cry, but instead wrings his own hands and bites his lips until he can taste blood. Namjoon looks ahead grimly, his fingers tapping nervously against the handle. Both men can't understand how everything can go so wrong for Jimin when something so wonderful had happened to them only a few hours ago. They can't bear the thought of Jimin going through more pain than he already has. Life can't possibly be so unfair and cruel for a boy so sweet and innocent. 

As soon as they arrive at the hospital, both men are bolting towards the ICU. They have never been to the particular hospital, so they have to depend on the signs, but they do eventually arrive at the ward, where a few nurses and doctors are walking around the otherwise quiet hallway.

"Excuse me," Seokjin calls out as he stops a nurse passing by. "Park Jimin. He's at the ICU, may I see him or at least talk to the doctor who treated him?" He continues desperately. The nurse looks a bit taken back by the sudden intrusion but nods patiently and leads them to a desk. She begins typing away and then speaks softly into her ear piece. She nods a couple times, begins typing again and then listens in on someone else talking to the small device.

"Visiting hours are not until tomorrow morning, and I'm afraid I cannot let anyone in until then...even then, only family members are allowed, and records say Jimin's only remaining family member died during the same car accident."

"...What?" Seokjin breathes out hoarsely.

"I'm sorry...what remaining family member?" Namjoon asks for his boyfriend instead.

 

 

It feels as if there's not enough oxygen left in the atmosphere for him to inhale as he listens to the words that come out of the nurse's mouth.

 

 

 


"His father."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"His father was driving drunk," Namjoon explains quietly to Seokjin, who's been waiting for Namjoon to finish speaking with the police while he remained at the hospital to hear any more news about Jimin. The words force Seokjin to shut his eyes and exhale slowly, because his chest feels as if invisible weight is pressing against it. Of all the things that could possibly have happened, Jimin's father had to drive drunk, kill himself in the process and put his own son in the ICU. Seokjin can not fathom how anyone can be so reckless, and while he should be mourning the death of another human being, he's overwhelmed with anger.

"He collided with a freight truck. Died on the spot," the taller man continues, recounting what the police had told him. The officer had given him details about the accident. Jimin's father's car had swerved to oncoming traffic, and the man wasn't even wearing seatbelt. Jimin, on the other hand, had, and it was probably the only thing that had kept him alive.

"God...I can't..." Seokjin exhales as he buries his face into his hands. He shudders at the image of the poor boy inside the crushed vehicle, blood everywhere and sitting helplessly with a piece of metal spearing him. Jimin must have been in so much pain. He must have felt so scared alone in that car. Seokjin can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be put in that situation. He wants nothing more than to embrace Jimin and tell him that everything will be alright.

"Did the doctor say anything about Jimin?"

"Apparently a piece of metal punctured right through his stomach and the impact broke three of his ribs. One of them split into his lungs. They don't know how long he'll be in the ICU," Seokjin reiterates what he's heard from the doctor less than half an hour ago with a solemn look. Even as he repeats the words, he doesn't fully grasp the weight of them, because they wouldn't even let him see Jimin.

"Shit..."

"He had to undergo intensive surgery and is currently on a ventilator. He's not allowed outside the ICU unless he's off of it, and no one knows exactly when that will be."

"Is anything permanent?"

"They don't know yet. They did say that he's young, so his organs are probably going to heal over time, but...they don't know what effect his head wound is going to have on him," Seokjin continues, resting his elbows on his Knees and slumping over.

"Head wound?"

"The collision sent his head into the window next to him. They didn't detect any internal bleeding, but...the doc says they can never be sure when it comes to head wounds."

"How...What kind of damage are we talking about?"

"Could be anything. Loss of vision...memory...or loss of certain motor skills. I just...I just really, really need it to be none of those things."

"This is all so fucked up," Namjoon murmurs with a huff as he takes the seat next to his boyfriend.

The two men sit in silence, side by side. Seokjin looks drained, and Namjoon looks like he's tittering on the edge. They remain like that for some time, before they hear rushed footsteps heading towards them. They look up to see Taehyung, his eyes darting out frantically in search of what they assume is Jimin.

"Where's Jimin? Where is he? Why is he at the ICU? Where's Jimin!" Taehyung's yelling now, and a nurse gives him a pointed look but doesn't make an active effort to stop him.

"Taehyung, Tae, calm down," Namjoon says, getting off the bench and grabbing the teen by his shoulders. "He's hurt pretty badly and we're not sure when we can see him."

"What do you mean? When's the next visiting hour?"

"Tae, we can't go in. We're not his legal family."

"But...but we're his best friends. We're basically his family, aren't we?"

"Yes, but not legal ones."

"Where's his parents then? Are they inside?"

Namjoon bites his lower lip and glances at Seokjin, who looks anguished at the question.

"Jimin only had his father, and his father died in the accident."

"....I don't understand."

"We don't either, but for now, all we can do is wait till Jimin wakes up."

"Why though? I mean...I wasn't allowed to call him and then now you're telling me that he's in the ICU? What are you not telling me?" Taehyung says, uncharacteristically angrily, hot tears swelling in his eyes.

"Tae," Namjoon tries, trying his best to ease the boy.

"What are you not telling me! Did you know this was going to happen?" The boy continues, seething now. Seokjin balks at the misdirected anger and gets up to make a retort but stops himself. He tells himself that his younger brother is probably acting out on his confusion and swallows his words.

"Tae, of course I didn't know this was going to happen."

"Then why! Why didn't you let me see him? Why!"

"Tae, you need to calm down," Namjoon says lowly in warning. Taehyung looks up at the older man and pulls himself out of his grasp.

"I thought we didn't have secrets anymore, hyung."

"We don't. But Jimin did, and it was not my place to tell," Seokjin counters firmly, his eyes fixed into an uncharacteristically stern gaze.

"But...I have so many things to tell him...what if he doesn't wake up?" Taehyung whispers, and this sends both men gathering the teen into a tight hug.

"He's going to wake up," Seokjin says as he tightens his arms around his younger brother. "Jimin's going to wake up. We're just going to have to be patient."

 


-

 

 

"Talk."

Jungkook shuts his eyes as Yoongi's voice cuts through the otherwise silent apartment. The singer knows that he's going to have to have the talk sooner or later, but he's not sure if he'll ever be ready to face Yoongi's wrath.

"Well," he begins after clearing his throat. "So I've been stopping by that diner."

"What diner?"

"The diner that you took me to. That wasn't the first time I was there."

"You mean Seokjin's diner? How do you know Seokjin?" Yoongi asks with a confused scowl. Jungkook had already heard from Hoseok that Seokjin and Namjoon, the hot waiter and the DVD man, were their old friends, although Hoseok didn't go into all the drama that was apparent from the encounter.

"I don't. I only know Jimin, who works there."

"The fan? He works there? Hoseok, did you know about this?" The stylist questions with a somewhat accusatory glance at the manager.

"Um. Yup," Hoseok says from the other side of the couch, his long legs folded underneath him. He does his best to ignore the way his friend is looking at him by choosing to stare straight ahead at Jungkook instead.

"What the fuck? You've been stalking that fan?" The stylist accuses with an even deeper scowl, and Jungkook has to fight the urge to roll his eyes.

"No, I haven't been stalking the fan, Jesus, you make me sound like a creep. I accidentally came across the diner and Jimin happened to be working there, and well, he's all mysterious and I've been looking for...answers."

"And none of that sounds creepy to you?" Yoongi counters with a look that makes the other man feel like a complete waste of space. Jungkook has yet to figure out how a man so small can be so goddamn intimidating.

"Do you want to hear the story or not?"

"Oh do tell."

"And then one day, I was there, and then he spilled a drink of me and we exchanged numbers because he wanted to pay to get it cleaned. He didn't recognize me, and I'm sure he still doesn't know it's me."

"Kookie, do you have any idea how dangerous that is?" It's surprisingly Hoseok's voice that chastises him first. "You know you're never supposed to contact a fan with your private line!" The singer sulks for a bit, because he knows that his manager is right. The company had made it quite clear that all singers are to communicate with their fans through public SNS accounts and nothing else. There had been a male singer who had gotten perhaps too close to a female fan and were exposed online, and that had eventually led to the company kicking the particular singer out.

Jungkook likes to think that his case is a bit different.

"I know...but it happened."

"What I want to know is why the fuck did I have to go and pretend to be this guy's friend?" Yoongi butts in, his fingers tapping the fabric of his jeans.

"I may have told him that my name's Min Yoongi."

"...What?"

"Well, I couldn't tell him my real name-"

"You little shit!" Yoongi snarls as he throws a cushion at Jungkook, who lets it hit him squarely in the face in hopes of easing some of the stylist's anger. He pretends that the blow had hurt.

"I'm sorry for doing that but it sort of happened and...I was the last person he contacted before the accident."

Both Hoseok and Yoongi are watching with unreadable expressions, and it makes Jungkook wish that they would just shout at him or hit him or something.

"What the hell is the deal with you and that fan?" Yoongi asks in a much quieter voice, his eyes narrowed in scrutiny. The singer shifts nervously in his seat as he mulls over the question. He doesn't think he has an answer. He doesn't think there is an answer to why he cares so much about the particular fan. Park Jimin had started off as a riddle and ended up being more than that. Jungkook liked talking to Jimin. He considered Jimin a small piece of sanctuary. A small something to return to after a long day of work.

"I'm not sure...I just like talking to him."

The other two exchange glances and sigh simultaneously.

"Look, Kookie," Hoseok begins lowly. "I know you're lonely and you need friends. I mean...most people do in this industry. We get that. It's just that we worry about you doing that with a fan. You understand, right?"

Jungkook nods slowly. He knows where Hoseok is coming from, but he doesn't think that he's going to stop talking to Jimin any time soon.

 

-

 

It's about 10 days before Seokjin hears that Jimin has been moved to regular ward since he's been stabilized. The two close down the diner immediately and rush to the hospital once they are told that they can visit the boy. Taehyung, who had been spending every second with them since the phonecall also tags along, asking the two men every other minute if he can buy Jimin flowers or a get-well teddy bear. Seokjin says no to everything, because all he can focus on is getting to the hospital as quickly as possible.

He arrives at the hospital to find Jimin lying lifelessly on the hospital bed, a mask put over his mouth. There are scabs and bruises all over Jimin's face, with a large bandage covering the boy's nose. Jimin had always been thin, but he looks painfully thin now, with sunken cheeks and collar bones that jut out unnaturally.

Only the even sound of beeping from a machine welcomes them.

"He's been sedated for over a week, because he needed a ventilator. It'll take him a while to regain full consciousness, and when he does, he'll be very disoriented. He may have a difficult time recalling events in order or speaking in coherent sentences, especially because we suspect head trauma as well," the doctor explains once he makes his way into the room.

"How long until he's awake?" Namjoon asks, his eyes still fixed on the small figure on the bed.

"Technically, he'll be drifting in and out of consciousness even as we speak and will even pick up sounds around him, but I'd give him at least the next three days. He's very weak now, so let him get as much rest as possible."

"Thank you."

The doctor nods curtly before making his way out the room and leaving the two men to Jimin's bedside. Seokjin carefully places his hand on top of Jimin's frail one and lets his fingers curl around it. He squeezes gently and shuts his eyes, trying to detect any sign of movement or a reaction from the boy. When none comes, Seokjin gives up and settles for just watching him instead.

"He's so small," Seokjin whispers, and Namjoon grimly nods besides him. "I can't believe I knew so little about him," he continues, remembering the nurse's words during the initial phone call. "If I had known that he was living with just his father...if I had know that the man was behind everything..." He trails off, his eyes downcast in guilt.

"This isn't your fault. It's no one's fault except for that bastard's."

"I know...I know, but I can't help but think maybe there was something else I could've done. Perhaps I shouldn't have just waited."

"We had no other choice."

"Did the police check to see if Jimin has any other relative?" Taehyung asks from behind Seokjin. The couple is surprised to find Taehyung standing so calmly, his eyes fixed on his best friend.

"Nah. Apparently his mother passed away years back and he's been living with just his father since. No information on his grandparents or any aunts or uncles. None on record anyway," Namjoon answers, playing with a hem of his sleeves.

"What are the odds?" Seokjin mutters bitterly, watching Taehyung nearing the bed and hold Jimin's other hand.

"Not even surprised, considering the state the kid's in right now. How is it possible that after all that shit, he ends up in the ICU because the fucker decides to drive drunk? It's like...everything that can possibly go bad has gone bad for him."

"Yeah..."

"You think he knows his father's dead?" Taehyung asks, and both men are taken back by just how sad Taehyung looks.

"Dunno. But probably not. I can't imagine that he would have been conscious after the impact. The police did say that he was unconscious when they found him."

"Joon-ah."

"Hmm?"

"Jimin's going to be OK, right?"

"Of course he is. He's a tough kid."

"Yeah. You're right."

 


-

 


Seokjin is putting coins into a vending machine to get himself some chips when he finds Yoongi across the hallway.

"Yoongi?" Seokjin calls out, surprised to find his friend in the hospital. He had been so caught up with what's happened to Jimin that he had forgotten that Yoongi was the reason behind him finding out about the accident in the first place.

"Seokjin?" Yoongi reciprocates with a quick twitch of his eyebrows. "What the hell are you doing here? Oh wait, shit I forgot, it's about Jimin isn't it."

"How...how do you know Jimin?" Seokjin asks as his friend approaches him his usual lazy scowl.

"Long story, but let's just say that I know a guy who knows Jimin. He works at your diner right?"

"Yeah...wow, that's...weird. Are you here to check up on him?" Seokjin has a lot of questions, but he recognizes the look on Yoongi's face. He knows he's not going to get any answers from him at the moment, so he settles for trying again some other time. 

"Yeah, that someone's making me. Apparently he got a phonecall saying Jimin's been moved to the regular ward. You know where he is?"

"Yeah. Of course," Seokjin replies with a curt nod and picks up his bag of chips before guiding the other man towards the appropriate room.

"How's the kid? Heard his organs got all fucked up because of the accident. I don't know the kid but...shit..."

Seokjin winces at Yoongi''s words but remain calm. "He's...off the ventilator now. He hasn't woken up yet. We're all just waiting at the moment. Anyway, we're here."

Seokjin watches as Yoongi enters the room and come to a stop by the bed. Yoongi stares at the figure on the bed in silence, his eyes watching and his expression unwavering. Seokjin has always known that Yoongi is a big softie when it comes to anyone who's weaker or more vulnerable than he is. Yoongi is quite resilient and even perhaps aggressive to those who were oppressive and maintains his cold aura to make sure no one messes with him, but Seokjin knows that he has a huge heart. It was one of the many qualities of Yoongi that the man had come to admire.

"So this is Jimin," Yoongi begins softly, taking in the small boy. "He's...young."

"Yeah. Only 17. Still in high school. Such a sweet kid."

"Jesus, I knew that accident must've been bad, but shit. Look at that kid's face," the stylist continues, scanning the still boy.

"Yeah...they say it's a miracle that he survived."

"Where's his parents?"

"He doesn't have any. He had his father...but he died in the accident."

"Then who's taking him in?"

"I...I don't know..."

"Shit. This kid...man..." Yoongi had only stopped by, because Jungkook wouldn't get off his ass about seeing how the fan's doing. While he knows that there's quite a bit of compassion inside him, it's usually reserved for only those closest to him, so he hadn't been too thrilled with the idea of having to use his own personal time to visit some person he doesn't even know. However, as he takes in the state that Jimin is in, he can't help but feel horrible for having thought so. He has never witnessed someone hurt so badly and he is starting to feel actually sorry for the stranger.

"Yeah...I'm going to have to explain everything to him when he wakes up. Not sure how I'm going to manage," Seokjin continues with a sigh, knowing that he's going to be the one who has to break the news to Jimin. Sure, a nurse or a doctor can do that for him, but he thinks Jimin deserves more than a quick announcement from someone he doesn't even know. He just hopes that Jimin won't be too devastated by the loss. He doubts Jimin can take much more.

"Well that's gonna suck."

"Yeah...it really is..."

 

-

 


Two days later, Jimin opens his eyes.

Both Seokjin and Namjoon are there when it happens. Seokjin calls out for Jimin's name as he hovers over the bed. Jimin blinks owlishly as if he's still heavily sedated. He looks confused more than anything as he tries to focus on Seokjin's teary face.

Jimin doesn't say anything. He continues to blink painstakingly slowly. He does this for a few minutes before he closes his eyes again and goes back to keeping them shut.

Seokjin slumps onto the seat besides the bed with a defeated sigh, as Namjoon squeezes his shoulder.

"The doc said he'd be drifting in and out of consciousness. Let's give the kid some time."

Seokjin has no other choice but to nod in agreement.

 

-


The next day, Jimin seems a bit more alert, but with that also came awareness of his pain. Jimin whimpers pitifully but doesn't form any words. Seokjin brushes back the loose locks of hair on Jimin's forehead and coos words of comfort until Jimin goes back to sleep.


-


A few hours later, Jimin is awake again. Both men notice that the teen still blinks slowly, but his eyes at least move around the room as if to check his surroundings. They wait patiently for Jimin's eyes to come back to them. Jimin makes incoherent noises, and Seokjin pretends to understand what the boy is saying.


-


The next day, Jimin is doing visibly better.

"...hyung," Jimin calls out weakly, and it's all that's needed to bring both men hovering over him.

"Hey buddy, how're you feeling?" Namjoon asks on behalf of Seokjin, because his boyfriend is clearly too emotional to be speaking with words.

"...hurts....where.....where...."

"You're in the hospital, kid. I know you have a lot of questions, but let's wait till you're not hurting so much, OK?"

".....'kay...."

"Try to get some more sleep, kiddo."

 

-


It's about three days later when Jimin's stringing words into sentences and moving his hands around. Taehyung is besides his friend, holding up a get-well card that he had slaved over for hours to perfect. Taehyung reads the words out loud and proudly flashes the pictures he had drawn, and the couple smiles when they see Jimin's eyes twinkling in glee for the first time in weeks.

"I tried to get you flowers, but no one will let me," Taehyung mumbles as he places the card next to Jimin's bed.

"That's cause it's a respiratory hazard, Tae," Namjoon explains sagely with a roll of his eyes. Taehyung shoots him a petulant look and then turns back to his friend.

"Thanks, Tae," Jimin says with a soft smile. His voice is still hoarse and weak, but it's still something. Just then, there is a knock on the door, followed by Yoongi standing in the doorway. Taehyung perks up at the visitor and the drags Yoongi inside. Jimin watches the blond man curiously while maintaining the soft smile.

"This is Yoongi hyung," Taehyung introduces with a boxy grin. "He's the one that got the phonecall from the hospital about the accident."

Both Seokjin and Namjoon cringe at the word accident. They had been trying their best to avoid the subject altogether until Jimin recovers a bit more but apparently forgot to tell Taehyung about their little plan.

"Yoon...gi..?" Jimin begins as he takes in the blond hair. His heart beats a bit faster as he takes in the man that he had been texting over the past few weeks. So this is Yoongi. It feels strange to know that now he can put a face to the mysterious man. Yoongi looks a bit colder and more distant than he had expected, but he doesn't think that the man can be horrible if he's familiar with Taehyung.

"Yeah. What a coincidence, right? Yoongi hyung's close friends with all of us and now he knows you too!" Taehyung continues to babble excitedly, tugging at Yoongi's arm and ignoring the scowl he gets from the other man.

Jimin's a bit confused but doesn't say anything. He didn't get the impression that this Yoongi knew Seokjin while at the diner, but he doesn't comment on it, because he doesn't want to appear rude. The particular thought doesn't last very long, because Jimin then remembers that he'd been texting the man about Jungkook and his life and all these small things and turns pink at the realization that he'd been telling this total stranger information about himself.

Yoongi, on the other hand, does his best to appear calm and collected, all the while avoiding direct eye contact with the boy. He knows Taehyung's just excited (as always), but he himself is a terrible liar and doesn't have the heard to continue to act like he is in fact the "Min Yoongi" that's been texting Jimin. He's gotten the gist of the full story from Jungkook and promised to pretend to be the particular Yoongi to keep the singer from getting involved, but damn it, he hates lying. Especially to someone that looks as innocent as Jimin is and who is going through some really tough shit. 

"How're you feeling?" Yoongi asks, to which Jimin shyly replies "better."

"Didn't know you were coming," Namjoon says, drawing Yoongi's attention away from Jimin.

"Just dropped by on my way after schedule. Hoseok's taking Jungkook back and he'll probably stop by too," Yoongi answers drolly and then shoots a careful glance at Jimin. He knows that he probably shouldn't have mentioned the singer's name in the boy's presence.

"Oh! Oh! I almost forgot! Jiminie, Yoongi hyung's Jungkook's stylist! Isn't that amazing?" Taehyung jumps in excitedly, and this elicits quite a response from Jimin, who's mortified upon hearing the words. It hits him hard that he had been talking about how much he loves Jungkook to who happens to work with the particular singer, and he wants to just crawl into a hole and disappear. Taehyung, however, remains oblivious to the embarrassment and begins to badger Yoongi into letting them see Jungkook in person sometime.

"Tae, come on, I'm sure Jungkook's very busy," Seokjin chides once he reads Yoongi's silent plea for help.

"But Jiminie is a huge fan!" Taehyung continues petulantly, and Jimin wants nothing more than to jump out of the bed and cover his friend's mouth with his hand.

"I guess I'll ask," Yoongi mumbles, even though he's fairly sure that he's not going to. He says it anyway to stop Taehyung from giving him the puppy dog look. He will never admit it, but he's a sucker for that particular look. "Well, it was nice seeing you Jimin. I should get going, guys. We should grab dinner or something soon," he says quickly, needing to get out of here. Jungkook owes him big time for this.

"Yeah, definitely," Namjoon replies, and Yoongi's making his way out the door.

"Jimin, are you OK? Do you have a fever?" Seokin's by the boy's side in a blink of an eye once he takes in the way Jimin's cheeks are tinged red. Jimin shakes his head slowly and then stares at his own fingers instead.

This was not how he had imagined he would see Yoongi again, but he figures it's good that they are finally meeting in person, face to face. However, he can't brush away the tiny tinge of disappointment at Yoongi's demeanor. He doesn't know what he had been expecting, but Yoongi had seemed a lot more talkative, caring and easy-going via text. He had hoped that Yoongi and he could become somewhat of close friends in real life, but he now sees that Yoongi seems almost bored of him, and the notion hurts just a little bit.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


Seokjin hates breaking bad news.

Especially to people he cares about.

Needless to say, he hates the fact that he has to tell Jimin about his father. Since waking up, Jimin hadn't spoken a single word about his own father, and Seokjin's not entirely sure why. A part of him thinks that Jimin simply doesn't like to talk about the man, while another part of him plays with the idea that perhaps Jimin's head trauma has wiped off some of the teen's memory. Frankly, he doesn't know which is worse, but none of it matters, because he's now sitting besides Jimin to break him the news.

"Jimin, there's something you should know," he begins gently, drawing Jimin's attention. Jimin looks up slowly, his eyes tired from all the sleeping and waking up to pain. Seokjin bites his lower lip and stalls, trying to find the best way to deliver the news, but then again, is there even a pleasant way to say "your father is dead?"

"Is it about my father?" Jimin breaks the silence with a hoarse whisper, and this has Seokjin physically reeling back in surprise. "I already know what happened to him," the boy continues, looking away from the older man.

"How did you-" the older man starts but then stops, because he's at a loss for words. Had the doctor told him? Had Taehyung accidentally let it slip while he wasn't around? He and Namjoon had been very careful not to break the news when Jimin was so fragile, and they had continuously told Taehyung to be careful as well, so how?

"He's dead, isn't he?" Jimin continues pitifully, and Seokjin's heart drops as he takes in what the other is saying. So Jimin had known all along. The poor kid had known all along that he's been left alone in this world without a single person to call family.

"You...you knew?"

"Yeah...I saw him," Jimin answers in a surprisingly calm and nonchalant demeanor, and this has Seokjin wondering if he had heard the teen correctly.

"You saw him?" Seokjin asks in a shaky voice, hoping that Jimin isn't saying what he thinks the boy is saying.

"I tried to close my eyes, but I couldn't. His head..." Jimin falters and shuts his eyes before continuing. "And I knew that there was no way he could be alive..."

Seokjin doesn't know what to say to that. He doesn't pretend to know what it's like to witness someone's death, not to mention that of immediate bloodline. He doesn't pretend to know what it must have been like to be trapped in the vehicle, surrounded by pain, blood and horror. Jimin, his poor little Jimin, had to endure it all until God took mercy and drifted him out of consciousness.

"I'm so sorry..." He whispers softly, not trusting his voice at the moment. Jimin looks up with a heartbreakingly sad smile and gives the older man's hand a squeeze.

"It's...it's weird. I had always been so....scared of him. I had wanted to just...run away from him. All this time. Then...now I feel....I don't know...empty. He's the only...family I had," Jimin continues in a hushed tone, his eyes glazing over with the words.

It's true that he had feared his father. He had feared for his life. His father never had any kind words for him and used him as his punching bag. He had to come home to anger and violence, yet his father was still his father, and sadly the only person he could call family. He still had a home, no matter how frightening it was, and now, he would be homeless, family less and well...he would have nothing to call his own. Should he be happy that his father's dead and that he's free? Maybe. It would make sense if he did, but there is only lingering emptiness and sorrow inside him.

"We're your family too, Jimin. Me, Namjoon and Tae," Seokjin says sincerely, looking straight into the boy's eyes. He, alongside Namjoon and Taehyung, has long considered Jimin a family that they have sworn to protect, and he needs Jimin to understand this. "I mean it, Jimin. In fact, I want you to live with us when you get out of the hospital."

It's Jimin's turn to look shocked.

"No, no, I can't do something like that..."

"Yes you can, and yes you will. We have a guest room we can decorate as your own, and Tae will be more than glad to help you with that. I know we can't...legally adopt you, but you have a home with us, Jimin. At least until you graduate, and then you can decide what you want to do and leave if you really want to."

"I can't-"

"Jimin. I'm not telling you to decide right this moment, but think about it. But just for the record, we would all love if you'd come live with us."

Jimin nods, and it's enough for Seokjin for the time being.

 

 

-

 

 

A few days later, Namjoon is in the hospital with Jimin to help with the teen. The doctor had ordered Jimin to start moving around the room in order to ensure that his muscles don't waste away. Jimin, having been forced to remain still on the uncomfortable hospital bed initially welcomed the idea, but soon regretted agreeing to it once he realized how painful simply walking can be. The hospital had put him off painkiller, and now Jimin has to practice walking with his entire body screaming in pain.

"That's good, kiddo, just a bit more," Namjoon urges as he holds Jimin closer towards him. Jimin nods, beads of sweat on his forehead and his face pale from the strenuous activity. Namjoon wants to let Jimin go back to bed, but Seokjin had strictly told him to make sure Jimin gets the amount of exercise required by the doctor.

Another short trip from one end of the room back to the bed has Jimin groaning in pain as he is hoisted onto the bed by Namjoon.

"You doin' OK? Do you want me to call a nurse? Some painkiller maybe?"

"No...I'm good. Just need some rest..." Jimin pants, blinking rapidly. His father's beating had hurt, but they were nothing compared to what he was feeling now. It felt as if someone was gripping him by his guts and pulling at it with intent to rip him apart.

"Jimin, if this is all too much for you, you need to let us know," Namjoon continues with a frown, knowing all too well that Jimin's not the type to complain. Sometimes, he wishes that Jimin would act more like his own age and whine so that both he and Seokjin can know what the teen's thinking. He knows that Jimin probably had to mature very quickly given his circumstances, but he still hates the fact that Jimin is so quiet about his needs and discomforts.

"I'm good," Jimin replies with a weak smile, and Namjoon's about to speak again when the door to the room opens and reveals Taekwoon shuffling awkwardly into the room.

"Oh, diner's closed already?" Namjoon asks before pulling his phone out to check for time. "Shit, time flies, huh. Where's Seokjin and Tae?"

"They went out to buy a couple of things. They'll be here in a bit," Taekwoon answers in his usual soft tone before closing the door behind him.

"Hey, I'm just gonna go and find something to drink. Want anything?"

"I'm good."

"Cool, see you in a bit," Namjoon says and leaves the room.

Taekwoon turns his attention back to the teen on the bed.

"How are you feeling?"

"Better."

"That's good."

Taekwoon heard about the accident three days after the actual event. Seokjin had explained Jimin's condition and asked that he come back to the restaurant the following day. Things were visibly tougher without Jimin in the kitchen to help him out, but none of that matter, because he was worried sick. He missed Jimin and his gentle presence. He missed having cake with the teen after hours. He missed cooking up new recipes and listening to Jimin's feedback.

Jimin looks up in surprise when he feels Taekwoon's cool hand against his sweaty forehead.

"...Taekwoon?"

"Have you been walking again?"

"Yeah..."

"You don't need to push yourself so hard," the older man continues before brushing some wet locks of hair back. Jimin blinks owlishly in response and then blushes at the physical contact.

"How's the diner?" Jimin asks shyly, slowing given into the touch. Taekwoon's cool skin feels good against his flushed one.

"Taehyung's been helping out."

"That's good."

"But...I really miss you," the usually stoic man says quietly, and Jimin's not entirely sure what to make of it. Taekwoon rarely vocalizes his own sentiments, and it feels strange listening to Taekwoon's words. At the same time, he feels happy that he's being missed somewhere and that there are people waiting for him once he's out of the hospital.

"Can't wait till I go back to working at the diner."

"Only when you're fully recovered."

"The doc says I'm making a speedy recovery."

"Still. I don't mind the extra work. I just need you to be OK."

"...Taekwoon?" Jimin calls out softly at the unreadable expression on the other man's face. Taekwoon just watches the smaller man in silence, his palm continuously brushing Jimin's hair back.

Just then, Namjoon re-enters the room with a can of drink in his hand. He glances at Taekwoon pulling his hand back rapidly and then shrugs before approaching the bed.

"The vending machine here sucks," Namjoon complains as he plops onto the edge of the bed. "Oh shit, sorry," he apologizes when Jimin groans as the weight forces his body to shift as well. "So, Taekwoon, anything new?"

"No. Just diner."

"Handsome guy like you should be living it up a little, right Jimin?" Jimin nods. "Anyone you're seeing at the moment?"

"No," Taekwoon answers and then shoots a quick glance at Jimin before looking at Namjoon again.

"No? Too many options?" Namjoon asks in a teasing tone before taking a sip of his drink. "Or someone on your mind?"

"Someone on my mind," the cook replies calmly.

"No kidding? Damn, that's one lucky lady."

Taekwoon doesn't say anything.

"Man, Seokjin and Tae should be here. They love romance related gossips. I'm guessing it runs in the family or something. Well, just make sure you don't bring her to the diner when Seokjin's around. He'll be embarrassing, I guarantee. Which reminds me...where the hell are they? Do you know what they're getting?"

"No."

"Better text just to make sure," Namjoon grumbles before pulling out his phone.

 


-

 

 

Jungkook has made very few bad decisions in his life. He became a trainee at an early age and was under constant surveillance, both by the company and his parents, so he never had the chance to run along wild like the other teens. He woke up, went to school, came back to the company to practice until late at night, then started the next day the same way. He continued to be a good kid. He was the hardest working among the trainees, and even now, he stays out of all sorts of trouble.

However, he can't stop himself from going to the hospital to see Jimin.

He's heard from Yoongi that the teen is awake and seemingly OK, and he knows very well that he should be satisfied with that piece of information, but curiosity gets the best of him, and he's making his way to where Jimin is, completely concealed behind his cap and mask.

It's nearing 2 in the morning, so there isn't too many people around. Hoseok thinks that he's out for a nice walk out, and while he feels guilty about lying to his manager, Jungkook would like to think that he's saving the older man from pointless arguing and restless night.

He enters the building and digs deeper into his coat. A couple of nurses send him a concerned look (and he doesn't blame them), but leaves him alone. He meanders through the hallways, searching for a particular room number that he's overheard from Yoongi's conversation with the hospital and stops in front of the door he's been looking for. He puts a hand up to knock and then stops, because he hears pained groan coming from inside.

He slides the door open in mild panic, worried that perhaps Jimin is in some imminent danger but stops when he sees the teen struggling to get off (or on) the bed, Jimin, on the other hand, comes to an abrupt halt, one leg dangling from the bed and the other still on it, his eyes wide open.

Jimin looks frightened, and Jungkook doesn't blame him. He must look like a criminal dressed like this and entering the room without permission at this hour. He swiftly takes off his hat and mask and then faces the teen. He watches as Jimin's expression turns from fear to confusion to utter shock.

"....Jungkook?" Jimin breathes out, frozen in the same awkward pose.

"Hey, Jimin," the singer greets with an awkward wave of his hand before rushing to help with the teen. "Here, let me help. Are you trying to get off the bed or back on?"

"Off...uhh..." Jimin falters when Jungkook wraps a strong arm around his waist and gently guides him off the bed. The singer waits till Jimin is standing on his own two feet before letting the teen go, his arms still hovering around to catch him if he falls.

"Are you really Jungkook?" Jimin replies hoarsely and then coughs a couple of times, which has him wincing and groaning in pain. Jungkook's chest tightens as he watches Jimin doubling over in pain. He knew that Jimin was in the ICU for a while, but he hadn't quite understood how hurt he must be. There were still fading bruises on the boy's face, especially a nasty one on his nose, which has him guessing that the impact must've broken his nose as well. Jimin feels bony to the touch, which makes the singer wonder if he can get away with sneaking the teen a burger or something, but suddenly remembers the punctured stomach and decides against it. He's not about to jeopardize Jimin's health.

"Hey, whoa, take it easy."

"What...what are you doing here?" Jimin eventually regains composure and settles for wheezing lightly instead.

"Um. Yoongi told me that you were here and I just wanted to come by and say hi to a good fan of mine?" Jungkook answers uncertainly, hoping that didn't come off sounding like too much of an obvious of a lie. Jimin nods dumbly, and the singer guesses that the teen took it for what it is.  "It's been a while, huh," Jungkook continues. Jimin nods and then looks away with a tinge of pink dusting his cheeks. The singer notices how much skinnier and worn out the teen looks since he last saw him after the performance, and the ugly bruises on Jimin's face serves as a reminder that Jimin's always battered or injured every time they meet.

"Am I dreaming?"

Jungkook lets out a good natured laugh before shaking his head.

"Nope. This is real. How're you holding up, Jimin?"

"Uh..." Jimin says dumbly, still star struck. He's still not entirely convinced that he's not dreaming.

"Did you need something? I can get it for you if you want," Jungkook changes the subject."

"I uh....I...I just wanted to practice...walking, practice, I mean, practice walking..."

"Oh, you mind if I help out?"

Jimin shakes his head slowly and lets Jungkook put a gentle hand on his back and another hand in front of him to take. Jimin carefully places his own into Jungkook's and blush furiously when the sound of Jungkook's low chuckle tickles his ears.

"Reminds me of the time I fell off a stage and broke my leg. My manager had to help me walk around like this."

"I...I remember," Jimin replies, referring to the concert in Malaysia the singer had performed in about a year and half ago. Fan cameras had captured the exact moment of a part of the stage giving into the weight and taking the singer down with it. It had been a chaos, since the stage itself was already quite high. Luckily, Jungkook was taken to the hospital with only a broken leg.

The two focus on Jimin's walking for the time being. Jimin is slow with his footsteps, but Jungkook doesn't seem to mind at all. Every once in a while, Jungkook would coo a word of encouragement, and Jimin would blush at the gentle words. He doesn't dare to look up at the singer. He focuses his sight only on his own two feet moving slowly across the hospital floor.

"Let me know if you want to go back to bed, yeah?"

"Yeah..."

"Just curious but...it's like 2 in the morning. Should you even be practicing?"

"Couldn't sleep. Slept too much during the day."

"Ah, I see."

"Um...not that I don't appreciate you being here but...aren't you busy? Shouldn't you be getting all the sleep you can get?" Jimin asks out of accumulating guilt. He knows all too well that Jungkook is a very busy man and probably doesn't have time for someone like him. Jungkook has a million and one fan, and there's nothing special about him.

"Nah, I'm OK. My schedule for this album is all wrapped up and I only have a drama series I'm filming at the moment."

"Oh, I've read about it. I...I think you'll be great in it," Jimin says with a soft smile, remembering how excited he had been about Jungkook starting his career in acting.

"Thanks. Guess I'm just trying to get used to acting. Kinda unnerving when so many people are watching you in complete silence. Let's do a turn and go to that side." Jungkook helps Jimin shuffle awkwardly and turn around to face another wall. "That's good. Seriously though, tell me when you've had enough."

"I think I'm done for now," Jimin answers shyly and then makes his way back to the bed. While his muscles were doing comparatively better, his lungs were still weak and struggled with even the slightest of exercise. The doctor had told him that it would take a while for the lungs to return to full capacity and he should be very careful. He also told Jimin that he's very lucky that the lung wasn't damaged beyond repair, because otherwise, they would have had to remove one.

Jungkook helps him get back up without too much fuss and does his best to not panic when Jimin lets out a pained groan in his arms. Once Jimin's settled in and Jungkook has tucked the smaller man in, he grabs a chair to drag next to the bed.

"Don't you...don't you have to go?" Jimin asks, wondering why on Earth Jungkook is now sitting next to him and watching him with those sparkly, expressive eyes of his. He plays with the fabric of the blanket nervously.

"Nah, I am all clear for tomorrow. I just want hang out and relax for a bit here, if you don't mind that is."

"I don't mind..."

"How's your...friend? The one I saw at the Mnet building?"

"Oh. Taehyung," Jimin begins and then goes red in embarrassment as he is reminded of the incident. "He's good. I want to apologize again for what happened that day."

"Nah, no need, no harm done. I once had a fan that hid in the closet with a bag read to kidnap me in. Compared to that, you're good," Jungkook says with a teasing grin and barks out a laughter at Jimin's hurried expression. "Next time though, I'll give you a pass and you can say hello without having to go through all that."

"A pa...pass?"

"Yeah, in case you decide to come to another one of my performances. After you recover of course."

"Really? You'd do that?"

"Why not?"

"Uhh..."

"Next time I come around, I'll bring some with me."

"You...you're coming back here? Why?"

"You don't want me to?" Jungkook asks with a playful twinkle in his eyes. Jimin shakes his head rapidly.

"No, no, no, it's not that..it's just...um..."

"Then it's settled. But let's just keep this a secret between you and me, alright? Pinky promise?" The singer continues with a chuckle as he puts up his pinky. Jimin curls his pinky around the other man's and then let's himself smile.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jungkook almost can't believe he's back in the hospital. He keeps telling himself that he's only keeping his promise with a dedicated fan as he walks into the room with backstage passes in his hands. Hoseok had been quite reluctant to give him the passes since the singer wouldn't tell him who the passes were for, but he didn't want to engage in another screaming match with the singer (which was just the two literally letting out high-pitched screams until one of them caved and told the other to shut the hell up already). Hoseok simply told him to always be on the watch-out for fans and cameras, because whatever it is, he doesn't want to deal with a PR disaster. Jungkook thinks his manager should have more faith in him.

As expected, Jimin's asleep on the bed, looking slightly better than he did last time. Jungkook checks his phone to see that it's almost 4 in the morning. While it would have been better to come at a more decent time, he can't seem to bypass both his drama filming and Hoseok's scrutiny until it's well past everyone's bedtime. The looks around to check that no one is around before letting himself wonder how anyone can not go insane from listening to the constant beeping and whirring of machines.

He quietly walks up to the teen's still form and sits down next to the bed. He keeps his mask and hat on, just in case a nurse decides to drop by. He really can't afford to have a member of the public leaving a post online talking about Jungkook's presence in the building. Especially in a hospital, because celebrities being spotted in hospitals start rumors ranging from a possible STD as a result of promiscuous lifestyle to terminal illness that will put an end to his career. He's seen it happen before, and he's not about to be another victim.

His eyes roam from Jimin's face to the teen's hand, where he finds a card between Jimin's fingers. Jungkook figures Jimin must have fallen asleep reading it. He gently pries it out of the still fingers and guiltily takes a peek. It's from Taehyung. He remembers Taehyung. Quite an eccentric kid, that one. Still, he's glad that someone had made an effort to make a card for Jimin.

Jimin begins stirring ever so slightly, and Jungkook waits with abated breath, waiting for the smaller man to wake up. However, Jimin continues to squirm uncomfortably, his brows furrowed and lips pulled into a tight line. A small whimper escapes Jimin, and while Jungkook knows he would be helping if he just woke the teen up from what seems to be a nightmare, he instead chooses to take Jimin's hand into his own and give a comforting squeeze.

Jimin jerks under the touch and lets out another whimper but eventually comes to a stop. The frown slowly disappears, as his lips relax again. Jungkook smiles to himself and lets Jimin hold onto his hands as he drifts back to soundless sleep.

Jungkook's not sure why he's just watching Jimin sleep. He knows his behavior is creepy and borderline illegal, but here he is, holding a fan's hand and just watching him breathe evenly. He doesn't think there is a possible explanation or an excuse behind his actions, but he can't seem to bring himself to tear his eyes away from Jimin. What was it about this particular fan that continued to bring him in? When was the last time he had made such an effort to see someone? Especially by risking so much?

The truth is, he missed texting with Jimin in between schedules. He knows that Jimin won't have access to his phone through the duration of his hospitalization, and franky, he's not sure if he can get away with texting him after introducing him to Yoongi. However, he wants to be able to talk to Jimin again when he's on the road or just before falling asleep, because Jimin was the warmth he had been seeking.

Jungkook takes in the contours of Jimin's features. Everything about Jimin is so much softer than he is. Jimin's eyes are gentle and innocent, his nose not as prominent as his. Jimin's lips had more volume and his cheeks still had traces of baby fat, eventhough the teen was painfully thin. He also remembers that Jimin has a tendency to not fully enunicate his words, and frankly, he finds it quite endearing.

Jungkook sighs lowly and lets go of Jimin's hand after telling himself that he really needs to stop being creepy. He takes the passes he had brought with him and pulls out a pen (he was always told to carry a pen in case he is faced with impromptu autograph session). He flips over one of the passes and writes a short message on it before setting the passes onto the small stand next to Jimin.

After one last lingering look, Jungkook makes his way out the room, hoping that Jimin will be happy with the passes.

 


-

 


By the time Jimin is discharged from the hospital, Seokjin and Taehyung had refurbished the guest room, complete with new bedsheets, pillows and even a new drawer for the teen to use. Taehyung had initially picked out a bright orange duvet, but was stopped by his older brother, who chose to go with a much more subtle navy instead. The older man does however let Taehyung pick a neon orange toothbrush for his friend. They don't put too many items in the rooming, hoping that Jimin will slowly begin filling up the space with his own posessions and decorations. They want the room to be more Jimin by the time the teen is finishing completely settling in.

It took a bit of persuading from Namjoon to have Jimin disclose his address so that the couple could go pick up Jimin's belongings. Seokjin and Namjoon took on the task of going to the place and told Taehyung to stay back, because they weren't sure what they were going to find in the apartment. In their heads, they were conjuring up images of used needles, empty beer bottles and half eaten food everywhere.

Surprisingly, what they found wasn't all that messy at all. Instead, nothing looked too out of the ordinary, minus the boxes of empty beer cans and other bottles stacked away to be ready to be recycled. They can't help wonder if Jimin was given the task of keeping the house so clean, despite his father's obvious alcoholism. Seokjin, unable to fight his curiosity, rummages through all the drawers, trying to find if the man had been under the influence of other drugs as well. Surprising, nothing much came up. In face, it seemed that the family didn't have too many belongings to begin with.

The eventually end up in Jimin's room, and Seokjin's immediately alarmed by the dark spots staining the room's wallpaper. He doesn't need to be explained what the stains are. Both Namjoon and he know perfectly well it's spatters of Jimin's blood on the walls. Seokjin dry heaves as he takes in the signs of violence and pain, from not just the blood-stained walls, but also the stained blanket and the broken items littered around the floor.

Namjoon is seething in anger besides him, but Seokjin can't bring himself to wrap a comforting hand around his boyfriend. He instead begins opening all the drawers to gather Jimin's belongings so he can leave the place as soon as possible. In the end, he manages to salvage only a handful of things to take back to their home. Just a few articles of clothes, textbooks, a backpack full of notes and not much else.

"We need to take this kid shopping," Namjoon mumbles lowly as he stares at the items collecting in his boyfriend's arms.

"Yeah...I just...I just don't see how anyone can treat their own child this way."

"We can start treating him right."

Jimin had been quite persistent about figuring out a place on his own to live in, but the Kims would have none of it. Seokjin, however, agreed to let Jimin take on a few chores to compensate for the supposed rent the teen wanted to pay. On the day of the discharge, Namjoon is given the task of driving the boys around, as Taehyung forces Jimin to get a haircut that actually reveals his eyes for a change. Everyone, including the hairdressers in the shop all comment on how nice Jimin looks with the new hair, but Jimin fidgets uncomfortable with the strands throughout the day.

Next stop is shopping for clothes. Namjoon just watches Taehyung pick out new shirts, jeans and shoes for his best friend, since he's also forbidden from choosing outfits for anyone else. He had taken Seokjin out on a date wearing olive colored cargo pants, bright pink tee and a black cap one time, and his boyfriend had banned him from ever picking out clothes for anyone ever again. Jimin looks uncomfortable with the idea of someone buying things for him, and while Namjoon understands where he's coming from, he pats the boy on the head with a gentle "Come on kid, you deserve to be spoiled every once in a while."

"Alright kiddos, we better get back home before Jin spontaneously combusts in worry or Jimin over there passes out from you dragging him around too much," Namjoon lets out with a good-natured smile before dragging Taehyung out of the shop. "We can come back shopping some other time, Tae."

"But those shoes!"

"They're not going anywhere," the taller man counters as he eyes the way Jimin seems to be struggling to keep up with them. He slows down his pace and motions Taehhyung to help Jimin get in the car. The drive back is filled with Taehyung chattering on endlessly about the new housing arrangement and promises of all the things they are going to do together. Jimin listens to everything with a shy yet genuine smile, and even lets Taehyung take a selfie of the two together to commemorate the special day.

Once they arrive, Seokjin greets them at the door and motions for everyone to come in. Namjoon carries the shopping bags inside and follows the others towards what was formerly the guest room.

"And this here is your room," Seokjin explains with a wide grin as he opens the door to Jimin's new room. He can hear a small gasp from besides him, and he lets the teen walk inside and have a closer look. Jimin brushes his hand against the soft fabric of the navy blue duvet and looks up.

"I can...I can really live here?"

"New rule. You're not allowed to ask that question ever again. Now, do you need any help settling in, or should I just let you be?"

"I'm fine. Thank you."

"Great! I'm just going to get started on dinner. You make yourself at home."

"I can help!"

"Nah, letting you off the hook for today, Jimin. But tomorrow, you're helping out in the kitchen."

"Alright kid, here's your stuff," Namjoon says as he places the shopping bags onto the floor. "We put stuff from the house inside the closet so you can figure out what to do with them. Alright, Tae, come on, you're helping out in the kitchen."

"Fine, fine," Taehyung mumbles and leaves the room, but not before flashing one of his boxy grins at Jimin.

Jimin waits till everyone is out of the room before he sits on the bed with a quiet groan. It still hurts a bit when he moves around but he finds it manageable without any painkillers. He rakes his new hair with his fingers and blinks a few times. He was so used to having his hair in front of his eyes that it was strange to be able to get a clear vision of his surroundings. He then makes his way towards the shopping bags and begins pulling out his new clothes one by one. Taehyung had been quite adamant about adding more color to his wardrobe, which is ironic, since Taehyung was a huge fan of black and white.

Jimin doesn't know how to feel as he starts putting everyone away. The moment is too surreal and perhaps too picture-perfect. Seokjin and Namjoon had zero reason to welcome him into their homes and even give him a room for himself. Jimin knows that most of it must be out of pity and that one day, they will grow tired of him, but he is still very grateful for everything the two has done for him. He just feels guilty that there's nothing he can do to pay back. Not for the time being anyway. For now, he must do his best to help around the house and not be a bother to the two men.

Once he's done with cleaning up, he ventures out into the kitchen and finds Seokjin, Namjoon, Taekhyung and even Taekwoon wandering around the dining table. Seokjin's focused on the pan in front of him, while Taekwoon seems to be mixing condiments togethers. Taehyung is busy setting the table, while Namjoon is being scolded for trying to sneak something into his mouth. Jimin hadn't even heard Taekwoon come in, which has him wondering if Taekwoon was inside the whole time or if he had been that lost in his thoughts.

"JIMINIE!" Taehyung all but shatters all the windows of the apartment with his screaming. The teen bounces to Jimin and pulls him into a tight hug and then lets go and apologizes immediately when Jimin groans in pain.

"Damnit Taehyung, you need to calm down," Namjoon says, ruffling Taehyung's hair.

"Today's your welcome back party. Kind of," Taehyung says gleefully as he waves around at the table. Jimin scratches his head shyly as he's led to the table by his excited friend. "We're almost done. I think. I don't know, I don't do the cooking."

"Yeah, we're done. Let's just get these to the table," Seokjin announces, pointing at the dishes on the counter with his chin. Taehyung bounces away to retrieve their food, while Jimin remains on his seat in a mild state of daze. He can't believe he's surrounded by so many people who want to celebrate his coming back.

"Taekwoon, tell Jimin how he looks with the new hair," Taehyung quips as he drapes an arm around his friend.

"It looks really good," Taekwoon says after a moment silence, and Jimin blushes at the compliment.

"See? I told you Jiminie, you look so much better with shorter hair."

"Tae does have a point," Seokjin comments with a bright smile and laughs when Jimin starts squirming in his chair. The boy really needs to get used to being told nice things.

After dinner, Namjoon excuses himself from the table and then returns with a white box in his hand. Jimin blinks in surprise when it's handed to him.

"For me?" he asks, hesitantly taking the box. He immediately recognizes what must be inside.

"Yeah, it's yours. I think yours got kinda lost somewhere in the accident, and well, we all thought you might need one. We all know what happens when Seokjin here can't contact you or anyone else," Namjoon replies and then earns a punch in the arm from his boyfriend.

"You got me a new phone?" Jimin questions, still in a state of daze. There's no way that even after all the things they have done for him that they would buy him the latest phone too, right?

"Yeah well, we can't communicate with walkie talkies, right?"

"Wow, you're old," Taehyung interrupts cheekily and then looks away when Namjoon shoots him a look. "Open it! We put all our numbers in it."

Jimin marvels at the shiny new phone in his hand and then turns it on in awe. He waits for the device to fully load before fumbling to find the address book. He opens it and finds indeed four names saved.

 

 

Jin Hyung


Joon Hyung

Taekwoon


TaeTae

 

 

Jimin doesn't want to cry. Not in front of anyone else. His father used to hate it when he cried and would beat him until he would stop. He doesn't want to cry. He can't cry. But why is it that tears keep running down his face uncontrollably.

"Oh jeez, if I knew you liked phones that much, I wouldn't gotten one sooner," Namjoon attempts at humor, hoping that it will lighten the mood. Seokjin slaps his arm and then gets off the chair to go wrap a protective arm around Jimin. Taehyung follows his brother's lead and wraps an around as well. Namjoon and Taekwoon exchange glances and both smile as they turn back to watch Jimin wipe his eyes furiously while sandwiched between the other two.

"Home sweet home, kid."

 


-

 


"Hey baby, what are you doing up?"

Namjoon looks up to the sound of his boyfriend's sleepy voice from the doorway. Seokjin is watching him, his eyes still droopy and his mouth open in an impressive yawn. Seokjin makes his way towards the other and drapes an arm lazily around his shoulders. It had been a long week getting ready to welcome Jimin into their home, and he hadn't been getting much sleep out of nervousness. He was afraid that perhaps he had pushed Jimin into living with them, but luckily, Jimin seemed to settle in better than he had expected. Both Taehyung and Jimin were sleeping in Jimin's new room, since Taehyung refused to go back home.

"I must've been out cold. Didn't even hear you leave the bedroom," Seokjin continues as he peers over to see what Namjoon's working on. Namjoon immediately closes the notebook in front of him and does his best to hide it under his big hands. Seokjin frowns, not because Namjoon is trying to hide something from him, but because he vaguely recognizes the wine colored cover with thick black writings scribbled all across it.

"Joon-ah, is that...?" Seokjin asks carefully, gently prying Namjoon's hands away from the article. "How did you....Hoseok? Yoongi?"

"Yoongi," Namjoon answers reluctantly, letting his boyfriend take the notebook from him. Seokjin doesn't open it. Instead, he holds it in his hands and stares at the aged cover for a long minute before he blinks furiously to stop himself from crying.

"They kept this..." Seokjin whispers, brushing his fingertips across its surface. How could Seokjin ever forget this notebook? It had been Namjoon's most prized gift. Seokjin had drifted in and out of sleep on Namjoon's laps while his boyfriend furiously scribbled away lyrics across its pages throughout the night. Namjoon would flash his dimpled smile and boast that the words would make him successful one day. The notebook included Namjoon's life, passion, inspiration and dream.

"Oh, Joon-ah, I'm so sorry," Seokjin lets out pitifully once the weight of their running away hits him again for the first time in so long. Namjoon had given up so much to be with him, and the guilt that he had tried so hard to keep locked away was all coming back to him.

"Hey, hey, we promised not to apologize for that, remember? Stop," Namjoon says gently as he takes the notebook back and sets it on the desk before pulling the now sobbing Seokjin into an embrace.

"I have you, don't I?"

"But being a rapper was your dream, Joon," Seokjin protests, trying his best to let the words out without crying and heaving too violently.

"A future with you is my dream, too."

"Don't say that, Joon. It's not the same thing."

"It is, to me," Namjoon replies with a gentle smile as he pulls them apart to get a better look at his boyfriend. He brushes Seokjin's hair back and then take the man's hands into his own. "I'm happy right now, Jin. I really am."

"Joon...have you considered maybe going back to rapping?" Seokjin asks after a moment of silence. He had played with the idea many times in his head before, but he never had the courage to bring it up with his boyfriend. Partly because he had been responsible for Namjoon giving up on it in the first place, and partly becaue he wasn't sure how the other man would react to the idea. But now that Yoongi and Hoseok were back in their lives and his father had given up trying to find him, what was stopping them now?

"What do you mean?"

"Start rapping again. All three of you. Do what you've always wanted, Joon. I mean...my father's long given up on me, so do what you need to do."

"Jin, I know what you're saying and I appreciate that but...I'm way too old-"

"You're not even 30, Joon. Don't start the whole age thing with me. Weren't you always telling me it's never too late to follow your dream and all that stuff? Isn't that the stuff you write about in that notebook?"

Namjoon doesn't quite have the words to argue Seokjin's point. He settles for dumbly staring at the notebook instead. Yoongi had given it back to him about a week after their fateful encounter, and he had spent agonizing minutes going over the words he had written. Things were different back then. Music was his life. There was no question in his mind that he would become a famous rapper. Both Yoongi and Hoseok would be right there with him on stage while the crowd goes wild.

Namjoon thought that he had long forgotten about that part of his life. He was happy with Seokjin. He was happy being a writer. Yet...

"At least try again. For you. For me."

"Jin..."

"I'm serious, Namjoon. We were young and maybe even stupid. I should never have let you given up rapping, hold on let me finish," Seokjin continues, holding a finger up. "And if there is even the smallest chance of you going back to rapping and doing what you do best, I want you to take it."

"Are you being serious?"

"What do you think. Talk to Yoongi and Hoseok. The three of you don't belong where you guys are right now. The diner is doing great. We can come up with the money to get you started, and I'm sure people remember you in Hongdae."

"Yeah...maybe. Maybe you're right."

"I'm always right."

"I know," Namjoon replies with a dimple grin, and Seokjin doesn't think he'd ever grow tired of that smile.

 

 

-

 

 

"You asshole," Jackson starts with a dramatic roll of his eyes. "I tell you I need to talk to you like weeks ago," he continues to mutter as he enters Jungkook's apartment with a plastic bag full of beer and roasted peanuts.

"I'm a busy man," Jungkook answers with a smug grin as he takes the bag from the other man.

"Yeah, yeah, sure, sure," the GOT7 members says with a wave of his hand as they settle in the living room. "Saw the first episode of your drama. Not bad, man."

"Thanks. I don't think I'm ever going to venture into the comment section," Jungkook replies idly, remembering the golden rule of never focusing on negative comments by people online, because it always ruins actual performance in the long run. He's already nervous about the fact that it's his first real acting gig, and he's just going to have to trust Hoseok who tells him that he's doing great.

"Want me to read them for you?" Jackson volunteers, reaching for his phone.

"No thanks."

"Suit yourself, but so far it seems like a hit. And who cares what some people say. They're going to troll no matter how good or bad your acting is. You know how it is," the GOT7 member says sagely, and Jungkook wholeheartedly agrees. Theres no question that haters exist for all celebrities. He himself has many fans, but he also has a number of haters who had left some nasty comments about he as a performer and as a human being without any particular reason.

"I know how it is, but I'm still not going to put myself in that position. You know how it is," Jungkook repeats Jackson's words as he opens a can of beer for himself. "So what did you want to talk about? Something tells me its not about your next album."

"I wish it was something about my next album. Man, I'm way too sober for this," Jackson groans before chugging a can and crushing it in a display of his manliness. "OK, so I'm only telling you all this shit because I know you can keep secrets and well, you're the least prejudiced person I know. Except for smell. I don't know what's your deal with certain smells but-"

"Will you just get to the point?" Jungkook asks with a quirk of his eyebrow as he pulls out a bag of roasted peanuts.

"Fine. Fine. OK. So. Man, this is hard, but I'm just going to say it," Jackson rushes before inhaling loudly. "Jaebum is dating. A guy."

"....Huh?" Jungkook lets out eloquently, with the bag of peanuts frozen midair.

"Jaebum, from my group, is dating a guy."

"...Jaebum's a woman?"

"No, you dumbass, Jaebum's gay," Jackson hisses with a frustrated groan, raking his hair with both his hands in the process. Jungkook just watches the display in mild fascination as his brain tries to catch up with the information he had just heard. Im Jaebum gay? The same guy who snarled during practices, laughed like a maniac whenever something was remotely entertaining and was actually one of the scariest idols when angered? That one?

"Uh....Really? Jaebum? I'd expect Mark maybe or...BamBam or...even Jinyoung, but Jaebum?" Jungkook muses,more to himself than anyone else. He had sort of expected either Mark or BamBam to be not as straight as Jackson, but Jaebum?

"Is that really what's important here? A member of GOT7 is gay!"

"How did you even figure this out?"

"Accidentally. I was trying to find Jaebum after our performance, and then I accidentally saw him sucking face with another man in oneof the staircases at the Inkigayo studio," Jackson explains, remembering the precise moment with perhaps more clarity than necessary. He had been running around the building trying to find the leader of the group, because an impromptu interview had been set up. He was just about to give up when he heard noise coming from a secluded staircase, and there Jaebum was, kissing another man as if his life depended on it.

"Are you sure it was him?"

"Of course I recognize my own band member."

"Who was the other guy?"

"I didn't get to really see."

"So how do you know it's a guy."

"How many women do you know that's taller and bulkier than Jaebum?"

"Fine. You have a point. I'm confused. Do you have a problem with the fact that he's gay or...?"

"I don't give a shit if Jaebum's fucking another dude. I just really, really don't want this getting out. I don't want Jaebum to be the first male idol to get outed."

Both idols know that there are many gays in the industry, but none dare to come out. This wasn't America, where such diversity was celebrated. A director had come out of the closet a few years back and announced his marriage to his partner. That hadn't gone down too well with the general public, and the voices supporting them were much smaller than that of hate. Then there was Hong Seokcheon, who was the only openly gay celebrity. The man had to endure years of losing his career before he was welcomed back, but even then, he isn't an idol. People had different expectations when it came to idols like Jungkook or Jackson.

"Shit..." Jungkook breathes out, pinching the bridge of his nose. It finally hits him what Jackson must have been worried about all along. It's already bad when idols are exposed being in a straight relationship. How would they react to a homosexual one?

"Yeah shit....fuck!"

"Does anyone else know?"

"No. I couldn't tell anyone else. I know Mark for sure would understand because he's from Canada and all, but...you know how Koreans are."

"I find that kinda offensive, but I'm letting that slide."

"Whatever. This isn't about you. Man, I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

"If I were you, I'd just talk to Jaebum."

"You think I should?'

"Yeah. At least let him know that you know. And maybe you can show him your support or whatever and help him not get caught. JYP is kinda cool with that stuff right? They're not going to kick him out if they find out right?"

"JYP the man is cool with that stuff. JYP the company, I don't think will be so forgiving. They'll probably kick him out the moment even the slightest rumor about him being gay gets out," Jackson answers sadly into his new can of beer, and Jungkook finds that he has no words of consolation to offer.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

It doesn't take much persuasion on Namjoon's part for Hoseok and Yoongi to be on board with the idea of continuing their rapping career. In fact, Yoongi almost punches Namjoon in the face for taking so long to come to the conclusion. Hoseok laughs and makes a comment about how they should just use the same stage names they came up with when they were young and silly (and a bit drunk).

Namjoon was Rap Monster, because he was both good at rapping and basically a symbol of destruction. Namjoon had broken too many things around the house when they lived together, including all the door handles at one point during their stay, and Hoseok had often joked that Namjoon's relationship with Seokjin is the only thing the rapper managed to not break.

Hoseok was J-Hope, because he was not only the optimistic of the bunch, but also because he was the one that ran around and got them most of their gigs, which had Namjoon saying that he gave all of their career hope. Then there was Yoongi with the name Suga, because he was so white and had a hidden sweet tooth. Yoongi had intially hated the name and had told them all to fuck off, but eventually gave up when Hoseok wrote down his name as Suga on all the forms registering them for competitions.

"SUGA!" Hoseok shouts with his arms wide open, and Yoongi gives him the stink eye, eventhough deep inside, it's good to hear the name again. He had missed being called Suga on stage.

"I still fucking hate that name."

"No you don't, you love it," Namjoon quips with a cheeky grin as he twirls around in his seat.

"Fuck you, Rap Monster."

They eventually set up a small studio where Namjoon's study room used to be. Seokjin helped them buy some of the required equipments, while Taehyung and Jimin spent the entire afternoon making the room as sound proof as it can possible get. Fortunately for Hoseok and Yoongi, they weren't too busy, considering Jungkook only had drama filming to attend to, and even more fortunate was the fact that Jungkook was a better actor than all of them had anticipated.

Jungkook was a bit of a natural. He could cry on cue, laugh maniacally when needed and even throw a punch as if he had gotten into multiple street fights before. There weren't too many bloopers on Jungkook's part, so the filming sessions ended relatively quickly. Hoseok, however, was a bit concerned that the female lead was trying to be perhaps a bit too friendly with the singer, but he just watched it from the sideline, hoping that the woman is just being sociable.

All in all, the two rappers now had quite a bit of time to themselves to write lyrics separately or gather at the studio to practice and record. It was as if none of them had ever stopped. Creating music was like second nature for the three, and in no time, many of the words from their notebooks were blaring through the speakers in the form of mixtapes.

Seokjin is happy, because Namjoon is happy. Sometimes, Seokjin just watches his boyfriend furiously writing down rap lyrics with his lips parted in concentration. At times, he listens to the other man freestyling while in the shower. He's not home most of the day, so he doesn't get a chance to see the three men in the making, but he knows with absolutely certainty that Namjoon must be having the time of his life in that small studio.

One day, Jungkook finally asks where Hoseok and Yoongi disappear off to when there's no schedule. The two were reluctant to tell the singer the truth, because they were afraid that Jungkook might think that the two are abandoning him in favor of rapping. Jungkook, however, is pleasantly surprised by the idea and forces them to give him a mixtape. The next day, the singer suggests that their talent be featured in his next mini album. He still has to clear it with the company, but Jungkook's quite sure that his producer would love the three of them.

Hoseok almost pukes in excitement at the idea (despite having once stated that he would never go mainstream), and immediately rushes to Namjoon's apartment to shared the news. The three of them, after their initially victory dances, relays the message to the others, who congratulate them whole-heartedly.

 

 

-

 

 


Days pass, with Jimin getting used to living in the apartment with the older men. He goes to work with Seokjin in the morning, helps around in the diner, although Taekwoon does most of the work for him, returns home after closing the shop and helps around with house-chores before falling asleep in his room. Taehyung tags along everywhere, claiming that he has nowhere else to go.

Twice a week, Taehyung and Jimin are glued to the TV screen to watch the latest episode of Jungkook's drama. Jimin has a hard time believing that the Jungkook he watches on TV is the same one that had visited him in the hospital. The singer has taken the role of a rather cold-hearted man who seeks to take revenge against a man but instead falls for the man's daughter. Taehyung comments on how cliche it all seems, but Jimin ignores it, because Jungkook both looks and acts amazingly.

"Alright boys, get ready to go out," Seokjin announces as he walks into the living room, where Jimin and Taehyung are arguing over the possible ending to the drama series. Taehyung is quite passionate about the idea that the best ending would include everyone doing a dance off to determine the winner of the feud, and Jimin doesn't care as long as Jungkook has a happy ending reserved for him.

"Where are we going?" Taehyung asks, bouncing off the couch and watching his brother grab the car key.

"Rap Monster," Seokjin starts, earning a loud bark of laughter from Taehyung. Taehyung still finds the name hilarious despite years of hearing it. "Suga and J-Hope are all recording at Jungkook's studio, and Jungkook's letting you guys come and watch."

"No way! Seriously? I've always wanted to go to an actual recording studio!" Taehyung all but screams at the news before he checks to see that his phone is intact and drags Jimin out the door. Jimin swallows nervously for two reasons.

The first is obviously the fact that he will be seeing Jungkook again. He was still disappointed by the fact that he had been sleeping when the singer had last visited him. He was touched by the passes and the short message bidding him speedy recovery, but he had wanted to talk to Jungkook for what seemed like the last time. He's not sure if he's ready to face Jungkook. The singer had asked him to keep their encounter a secret, so he was going to have to be a better actor than he usually is. But forget everything else. He's always nervous when ir comes to Jungkook. Always.

The second reason is Yoongi. Every since seeing each other face to face for the first time in the hospital, Yoongi gave no sign of ever wanting to exchange numbers again or to even engage in a conversation with him. Yoongi was quiet and reserved and seemed to almost avoid him when they cross each others' path in the apartment. Jimin, although hurt, doesn't comment on it and does his own best to not get in the other man's way. He's a bit confused and scared when it comes to Yoongi, and he doesn't know how Yoongi will react to him showing up at the studio.

They do eventually arrive at the studio and are allowed inside with much ease than expected. The three rappers and the singer are already in the spacious studio, with Yoongi editing on the computer alongside an unfamiliar man. The man gets up, shakes everyone's hands and introduces himself as Kim "Ravi" Wonshik, a producer. Taehyung does a quick online search and finds that the young up-and-coming producer had worked on Jungkook on his last album as well.

Jungkook leaves the booth and comes out greeting them at the precise moment. The singer is all smiles as he shakes Seokjin's hand and tells him that he's heard so much about him. Seokjin laughs and tells him "please take good care of Namjoon." The singer then waves at both teens and doesn't forget to lock eyes with Jimin before talking to the producer.

It's Namjoon's turn, and Seokjin can't hide his swelling pride as he watches Namjoon become Rap Monster before his very eyes as he raps into the mic. Jimin watches in awe, frankly quite surprised, because Namjoon had always been that easy-going, chilled out, sometimes lazy and teasing big brother, but right now, he was a star on his own.

"He's....really good..." Jimin breathes out. Taehyung grins besides him with a "I know right?" Jimin puts a hand against his chest to check that his heart is beating fast. So this is what a man with passion looks like, he thinks. Don't get him wrong. He's seen Jungkook enough times to know what passion looks like, but it's so much more apparent when he can witness the before and after. Namjoon looks so happy and powerful in the booth, and Jimin wonders if he'd ever look like that one day.

Once Namjoon is done rapping, it's time for a short break while the rappers look over their progress. Namjoon gives Jungkook a quick look before motioning towards Jimin and Taehyung with his chin. Jungkook picks up on this and makes his way towards the teens.

"Taehyung, Jimin, want to give recording a shot? For fun?"

"We can do that?" Taehyung blurts out with his mouth hanging open. He had been itching to go in and sing too, not that he's ever actually sang outside of the shower before. Wonshik turns around in his chair with a lazy grin and motions for Taehyung to go inside. Usually, Wonshik's quite strict when it comes to recording sessions, but he's in a good mood considering how well everything's going.

"This is so cool!" Taehyung shouts in the mic, which has everyone else wincing.

"Maybe not too loud or that close," Wonshik says while pushing a button. "Alright, which song do you want to sing to?"

"Someone Like You!"

"As in...Adele?" Wonhik asks in surprise. Not many people choose an Adele song as practice material. He exchanges looks with everyone else in the room before shrugging and searching for the MR. "Alright, here it is." Seokjin's already biting his nails nervously, expecting Taehyung to end up screaming for the next four minutes and break the mic.

The quiet piano melody begins flowing through the speakers and into Taehyung's ears. Taehyung closes his eyes and counts the beats before he openes his mouth to begin singing.

 

I heard that you settled down
That you found a boy and you're married now
I heard that your dreams came true
guess he gave you things I didn't give to you

 


Complete silence falls over the rest of the members in the studio as Taehyung's low husky voice fills up the space. Jimin instinctively wraps his arms around himself as goosebumps shoot up through his entire body. He had always known that Taehyung had a very unique voice, but never in a million years would he have guessed Taehyung to be such a talented singer. The sound was strangely comforting yet sad, filled with emotions that were unexpected of someone usually so happy and bouncy.

Yoongi turns to face Seokjin and mouths "what the fuck?" which Seokjin answers with a dramatic shrug, because even he did not know that his brother was hiding such a talent.

The song comes to an eventual end, and Taehyung finally opens his eyes with a twinkle in his eyes. Jimin has a hard time believing that this is the same Taehyung that considered a dance off a legitimate ending to a drama series only an hour ago.

"Uh, did I mess something up?" Taehyung asks with a small frown when he sees that everyone's just staring at him in silence.

"No, not at all, why don't you come back out and you can listen to it if you want," Wonshik is the first to recover. He had worked with enough artists to have come across many talented individuals (Jungkook included), but it always comes as a refreshing shock when such raw talent is found in the most unexpected circumstances.

"This kid is good," Wonshik says to Jungkook with a low whistle. "First you bring these three gems, and now him too? Where are you finding these people?"

"I should just open my own agency," Jungkook replies playfully, his eyes fixed on Taehyung gleefully leaving the booth.

"That was so fun! Jiminie, you should try!"

"I'm OK," Jimin says shyly, putting both his hands up.

"Come on, it's like once in a lifetime thing!"

"If this one's good too, we're definitely going to open up our own agency," Wonshik jokes, saving Taehyung's file.

"I'm OK, really," Jimin says meekly with a blush, and seokjin shakes his head slowly at his younger brother as a silent warning to stop pushing the teen. Taehyung takes the hint and instead moves towards the computer to listen to a playback.

"You got some talent, man," Wonshik says as they all listen to Taehyung's voice again. "You should consider a career in the field."

"Really?" Taehyung asks gleefully.

"I can put in a word to the company and have you audition. Only if you want to that is."

"You really should, Tae," Jimin says softly, a smile playing on his lips.

"I think the company would like you," Jungkook adds honestly. Any company would love to have someone like Taehyung as a trainee. He was young, had a unique voice and a face that teenage girls would adore to death, not to mention a generally bubbly attittude which is always a huge bonus.

"Alright, it's time to get recording again, rappers," Wonshik begins with a clap. Jungkook takes his time to offer to take the two teens on a tour of the building, but Taehyung grins and says he's going to stay, so only Jimin and Jungkook end up leaving the studio.

"How are you? You seem to be a lot better," Jungkook asks as soon as they are out the door. Jimin blushes and nods slowly. He was afraid that Jungkook was going pretend the hospital visit had never happened.

"That's good. Did you get the passes?"

Another nod.

"Good, I was worried that the nurse or whoever might have gotten rid of it accidentally. Sorry I stopped by while you were sleeping. Would've been nice to have talked a bit more, you know?"

"Oh..." Jimin breathes out and begins playing with his fingers nervously. He's not entirely sure why Jungkook is acting as if they have been friends for a long time. Again, Jimin knows that idols are trained to speak to their fans nicely, but somethine about the particular singer's demeanor makes Jimin want to think that perhaps Jungkook does like him as another human being, just a little bit.

"But I guess we can talk more when you come backstage, huh?" Jungkook continues with a toothy grin. "So um...do you still text Yoongi?"

"Oh...no," Jimin answers. He thinks its a strange and equally random question, but figures Jungkook is probably trying to make smalltalk. "I...lost my phone during the accident. I have a new one, and the number's not on it and...." Jimin falters, suddenly sad about Yoongi's shift in attitude. He had been so ready to be friends with Yoongi. It was very rare for the teen to find someone he can hold an actual conversation with.

"And?"

"It's nothing..."

"Is uh...Yoongi giving you trouble?" Jungkook asks with a small frown, worried that perhaps Yoongi had lashed out at Jimin to keep the fan away from him. He wouldn't be too surprised. The stylist was very not on board with the idea of the singer mingling with his fans.

"No, no, not at all," Jimin blurts out, even shaking his hands in front of him for good measure. "It's just...some people don't hit it off in real life, I guess."

Jungkook nods slowly and sighs inwardly. Judging from what he knows about Yoongi, the stylist slash rapper must have given Jimin the same cold treatment he gave everyone outside of his immediate social circle. He can't really blame the man though. Afterall, he had been the one to basically force Yoongi to lie.

"Yoongi's always like that. I wouldn't worry too much about it," the singer answers instead, playing with the phone in his pocket. He knows that what he's about to do is probably one of the stupidest things in his life, but he can't stand the dejected look on the teen's face.

"We can be friends though, right? Here, I'll give you my number. Just please don't make this public," Jungkook continues almost in a test of faith as he recites his number to Jimin.

"You're...giving me your number?"

"Yup."

"Are you allowed to?"

"Nope. Absolutely not," Jungkook replies with a cheeky grin. "Come on, take your phone out unless you just memorized what I told you."

"No, I can't. I shouldn't. What if someone gets hold of it somehow?"

Jungkook watches the other in silence and then bursts out laughing.

"You're seriously worried about that?" the singer says, almost touched by how much Jimin is worried about him. "You can save it under another name. As long as you know it's me, right? Considering you know 100% of the rappers I'll be working with for my next album and is friends with who's probably going to end up in my company, I'd say it's OK for us to be talking."

Jimin swallows hard and then pulls out his phone. He's fingers are slightly shaky as he fumbles to save the digits under the initials JK.

"Text me sometime, alright?"

"I...I will," Jimin answers as he stares at the screen in front of him, wondering why the numbers seem so vaguely familiar.

 


-

 

 

Much to Jungkook's surprise, it takes a whole week before he gets a text from Jimin telling him that he had really enjoyed the last episode of the drama. Jungkook chuckles to himself as he reads the message and texts back a "thanks" and adds a smiley face in hopes of having Jimin open up to him more. It was definitely different from when he used to talk to Jimin as Yoongi. Jimin had been much more talkative back then. More at ease. He would be lying if he said that he wasn't disappointed, but at the same time, he can't really complain. He will take whatever he can get.

The recording goes stellarly, and the company is pleased with the final result. At first, they had been reluctant to bring a "nobody" to the recording, but they soon agree that the three rappers were what Jungkook needed to create just the right amount of bad boy image needed for the upcoming album. The news of these new rappers spread like wildfire among the fan community, which had people searching up information about Rap Monster, J-Hope and Suga. There were even a few comments by people who saw the three live on stage in Hongdae years back, and a few hip hop enthusiasts who weren't too pleased with the idea of them going mainstream.

Time passes, and Taehyung and Jimin's break comes to a close. Their final year begins, and after much persuasion on Taehyung's part, the two boys end up in the same class again. There's no telling how, but news of Jimin's father spread among the students as well, which has Jimin doing his best to pretend as if the blatant stares and whispers aren't bothering him. Some of the teachers are sympathetic but don't explicit give him any words of consolation. The usual bullies don't seem at all sorry for the loss and seem more entertained by the turn of events than anything else.

Jimin's making his way into the cafeteria with Taehyung when the same group of bullies approach him with a smirk. Taehyung narrows his eyes and tenses when he sees the way Jimin seems to cower away from the other student's presence.

"Yo, Park. Heard what happened. So which orphanage drew the short stick and decided to take you in?" the biggest of the group asks tauntingly, and before Jimin can even turn away from it all, Taehyung's fist is already colliding with the other's nose. There is a sickening crunch, and the entire cafeteria goes silent in shock.

"Say shit like that again, and I'll fuck you up real good, asshole," Taehyung growls as the bully clutches his bleeding nose.

"You piece of shit!" he yells out and lunges at Taehyung, who ducks gracefully and lands another punch right into the asshole's stomach. The bully coughs and heaves before going down onto the floor.

Taehyung reacts with almost inhuman speed when the rest of the bullies come for him. He's almost like a ballerina in his grace as he dodges the punches and kicks and a savage in the way he deals blows with both speed and precision. Taehyung doesn't even break a sweat as he deals with the six of them, knocking them down one by one. The fight is over before Jimin can even register exactly what had happened.

"You pull shit like this once again with Jimin right here, and I will kill you. Do you understand me?" Taehyung says lowly, and Jimin's startled by the level of malice in his friend's harsh tone. "And I dare you to tell the teachers what happened. In fact, I dare anyone here to go ahead and tell someone," he finishes, looking up at around the cafeteria. The entire student population immediately go back to focusing on their food while the bullies scurry away in defeat.

Taehyung huffs before taking Jimin by the wrist and dragging him outside the cafeteria. Jimin follows his friend wordlessly as they pass the hallway, up the staircase and end up on the rooftop. They do get a couple of glances along the way, but no one makes a comment when they see the look of burning anger in Taehyung's eyes.

"Tae...?" Jimin begins uncertainly when he sees Taehyung staring out into nothing in particular, with what seems like regret marring his features. Frankly, Jimin had been a bit scared of his friend, because Taehyung was like a wild beast just now, but as he watches the particular expression on his best friend's face, Jimin can't help but reach out and place a hand on Taehyung's shoulder.

"Does...does that happen to you a lot?" Taehyung asks, his voice lower than usual.

"What do you mean?"

"People talking to you that way. Bullying. Harrassing. Whatever you want to call it. That wasn't the first time those assholes said shit like to you, is it?"

Jimin gnaws at his lower lip instead of answering.

"Why didn't you ever tell me?" Taehyung finally turns to look at his friend. Jimin shrugs and resists the urge to look away. "Well, anyway...Sorry you had to see that, Jiminie...I guess I should just tell you everything now," he continues with a low sigh, and Jimin opens his mouth to tell his friend that he doesn't need to but is stopped immediately. "Hyung and I are originally from a really powerful family. You know BH Industries?"

Jimin nods. Who hasn't heard of the company.

"We're the sons of the founder of BH Industries."

Jimin blinks owlishly in surprise but doesn't comment on it. He can't picture Seokjin and Taehyung being so rich and powerful, because he's always imagined such people to be arrogant and cold. The two were anything but that. They were so warm and caring, and even silly at times. Seokjin worked at a diner and lived with a roommate, so how?

"I bet you have a lot of questions, but long story short, we kinda left the house. Didn't want to be a part of that lifestyle, you know? I mean...hyung left first, and I still have ties with the family, which is why I live alone. My parents don't really know I stay in contact with hyung and still gives me a shitload of money every month thinking it's going to compensate for being shitty parents who are never around, but I guess I can't complain too much."

Jimin swallows visibly at the news. Taehyung waits for the questions to begin, but none comes his way. He had been so reluctant to tell Jimin everything, because he doesn't want Jimin treating him any differently. He wanted them to continue to talk about silly things, pig out on junk food and have Jimin convince him out of doing something stupid. He likes that Jimin tells him things. He likes their study sessions. He likes trying to sneak food into Jimin's room at 2 in the morning when Seokjin and Namjoon are both asleep.

Taehyung's used to people treating him a certain way. Ever since he was a young child, much older people would bow down to him. They would speak to him a certain way, as if there was a written manual for how to talk to Kim Taehyung. People his age would try to get close to him for his power and then run away as soon as he let his dorky, silly side show. He was both too good and never good enough for everone else.

He was so happy when he got to know Namjoon, Hoseok and Yoongi. Even when they found out who he used to be, none of them changed. They still made fun of him and scolded him when he did something wrong. They were all like big brothers to him, and he thought he would never get so lucky every again.

Then he met Jimin. Jimin wasn't like the others. Jimin genuinely liked that he talked so much and did stupid things no matter where he went. Jimin would listen to his every word and spend time with him, even when he had nothing to offer. Jimin wasn't interested in his money or his ties. Jimin likes him as a friend for the sake of friendship, and Taehyung vowed that he will do everything to make sure their friendship is an everlasting one.

"Father made us learn a lot of martial arts to protect ourselves in case of kidnapping and stuff. Hyung and I hate using it but...those assholes deserved it," he explains once the silence stretches on, and Jimin can't help but wonder how many surprises Taehyung still has up his sleeves.

"Oh. I was just...surprised, I guess. And thank you. For helping me out there and telling me everything."

"Lets hope that I got the message across to those morons. If they try something again when I'm not around, you gotta let me know, alright?"

Jimin nods with a shy smille. Taehyung returns it with his boxy one.

And somehow, they both know that nothing's going to change between the two.

 

 

-

 

 

"Thought you should know that I punched the shit out six people today," Taehyung announces nonchalantly as he greets Seokjin from the living room. Jimin winces as Seokjin stares at his brother quizzically.

"What?"

"I punched some people. Hard. I don't think I'm in any trouble though. I doubt they're going to tell anyone."

Seokjin sighs as he takes his coat off and throws it on the couch.

"Do I even wanna know what this is about?" Seokjin asks loudly as he goes into the bathroom to wash his hands. He knows pefectly well that his brother would never resort to violence with reasonable justification, and judging from the way Jimin seems to be nervous all of a sudden, he figures that his brother's been protecting his friend.

"Nope!" Taehyung yells from the couch and Seokjin just rolls his eyes before asking Taehyung if he wants any leftovers from the diner.

"What do you wanna know?" Namjoon enters the room with a mildly amused look on his face.

"Tae punched six students apparently."

"Outta boy!" Namjoon exclaims cheerfully while putting a hand up for a high five Taehyung gives gladly.

"Really, Joon?" Seokjin says with a huff before slapping his boyfriend in the arm.

"See, this violence here? This is where Tae learned that it's OK to hit people," Namjoon whines playfully, earning a death glare from his partner. Taehyung giggles as the rapper barks out a laughter and does another high five.

"Ayo, Jimin," Namjoon greets when he sees the teen standing awkwardly besides Taehyung.

"Ayo, really?" Seokjin snorts not so elegantly. "OK, Rap Monster."

Taehyung laughs again.

"Don't hate, Jin."

"Can you stop being Rap Monster for a second and be Kim Namjoon and clean up that mess?" Seokjin says, pointing at the pile of notes, sheets of paper and empty bags of chips scattered all over the dining table.

"Oh oops."

"Yoongi and Hoseok stop by?"

"Yup. Apparently they're gonna be busy for the next few days so we had a bit of a cram session," Namjoon answers, picking up loose sheets to create a more manageable pile.

"Cram rap session? That exists?"

"Obviously."

"OK, Rapmon, chop chop, off you go clean."

Both Jimin and Taehyung laugh at Namjoon sulking.

 

-

 


"Jiminie?"

"Hmm?" Jimin opens his eyes to the darkness to the sound of his friend's voice coming from the floor. It had almost become a routine for the two boys to work on their homework together and Taehyung to just crash in Jimin's room. Jimin had initially offered his bed, but Taehyung would have none of it, claming that he's prone to falling off beds.

"I was thinking."

"Yeah?"

"What are you into?"

"Huh?" Jimin asks, shifting so that he's lying his side and facing Taehyung.

"I mean, we never really talked about your interests in life, you know? Seokjin hyung likes cooking. Namjoon hyung likes rapping. I like singing. What about you Jiminie?"

"I'm not sure..."

"Come on, there's always something."

"I um...I like to dance," Jimin answers nervously. He's never shared that information with anyone and always considered it his own secretive way of coping with his problems. He doesn't consider himself a talented dancer at all. It was just something that came naturally to him and held a special place in his heart, since his mother used to teach him ballet when he was just a small child.

Jimin jumps when Taehyung suddenly sits up, and Jimin can faintly make out his friend watching him with his mouth wide open.

"You like dancing and you never told me?" Taehyung hisses, seemingly scandalized.

"Oh, it's not like I'm good at it or anything."

"I'm going to be the judge of that. Alright, let's dance."

"What? Now?"

"Yes now! Get your ass up, I'm turning the light on."

"No, wait-"

It's too late. Taehyung already has the light turned on, which has both boys howling as their eyes are assaulted by the sudden illumination.

"Shit, I should've thought about that. Nevermind though. Come on, show me what you got Jiminie! Here..." Taehyung continues as he reaches for his phone and looks through his playlist. He clicks on a random dance song and drags Jimin onto his two feet before clearling the floor.

"I've never danced in front of anyone..."

"Always a first time for everything."

Jimin stands awkwardly in the middle of the room as the beats continue. He can't believe he's about to dance in front of someone in his PJs. He really wants to just go back to bed, but the look of determination in his friend's eyes tells him he doesn't have much of a choice.

He inhales slowly, closes his eyes and lets the music take control over his senses. He begins moving, pretending he's in the middle of that one park he also goes off to dance when things become too much. He stops once the song comes to an end and openes his eyes to find Taehyung watching him with his mouth open. He blushes furiously, worried that he may have made a complete full of himself. He's half expecting Taehyung to roll on the floor laughing when the other teen stomps over to him and grabs him by the shoulders.

"What the hell Jiminie! You were hiding this all this time? You're incredible!"

"Huh?"

"I can't even- I don't even- Why aren't you on TV already!"

Jimin thinks Taehyung's just being polite, but Taehyung is genuinely impressed with his friend's talent. In fact, Taehyung's quite sure that Jimin rivals Jungkook in his dance skills, which is an incredible feat in itself, considering how famous Jungkook is for his moves.

Taehyung now just needs a way to cleverly way to have Jimin's talent be recognized.


-


Jimin comes back home afterschool on a Monday and almost falls flat on his ass when he sees Jungkook in the kitchen, holding a half-eaten apple in one hand and his phone in the other. The singer looks up at the sound of Taehyung calling his name and then flashes both teens a grin with a quick wave of his apple as if he's the owner of the apartment.

"What are you doing here?" Taehyung asks in place of Jimin, who's still too shocked and confused to speak.

"Wanted to check out what Yoongi and Hoseok hyung do in their little studio so I tagged along. Then I got hungry. Hope you don't mind."

"You're eating an apple."

"Yeah, hope you don't mind that either. Namjoon hyung said I was free to go through the fridge."

"No, like why would you be eating an apple. There's like a million other things in the fridge," Taehyung asks with a small frown, as if he's personally offended by the singer's choice in snacks.

"Still have to watch my figure," Jungkook replies with a grin before shoving his phone into his pocket.

"Oh yeah. We watch your drama every week. Can you tell us the ending?"

"I'm afraid I can't. And honestly, I don't even know for sure. We get our script basically on a weekly basis, based on how netizens feel about where the story is going. How are you, Jimin?" he asks, turning to focus on the smaller teen, who's partly hiding behind his bigger friend.

"I'm good," Jimin squeaks out and is immediately embarrassed by the sound he makes. Taehyung laughs and pinches his friend's cheek before announcing that he's going to take a quick shower because he feels gross, leaving the singer and the fan to themselves.

"You're....here. Wow," Jimin breathes out, playing with the straps of his backpack. He knows it's every fan's dream to have their idol come to their homes to just hang out or whatever, and he's not entirely sure that it's all happeneing in real life.

"Good to see you again," Jungkook says with a toothy smile before biting into his apple. "How come you don't text me so much?" he asks in a teasing tone, hoping that it doesn't come out sounding desperate, because come on, he's Jeon Jungkook. He chuckles when he sees Jimin blush even redder at the words.

"I thought...you'd be too busy..."

"Obviously not too busy if I'm crashing here," the singer replies with a soft smile and finishes his fruit in one big bite. "It's too hardcore in there for someone like me. Wanna watch TV or something?" Jungkook offers, throwing the core away in a single, swift motion before washing his hands.

"TV? With me?"

"Unless you have other things you need to be doing?"

"I uh..." Jimin scratches his head nervously before telling the singer he's just going to put his backpack away and will be right back. The teen returns to the living room, where Jungkook's already settled on the couch. The two sit side by side, with Jimin leaving a short distance between the two. They flip through channels until a re-run of the drama Jungkook's in comes on. The singer lets out a loud groan before taking the remote out of Jimin's hand and changing the channel.

"Is it...weird? Seeing your face on TV?" Jimin asks, genuinely curious.

"It was at first. Right now, it's a little bit embarrassing."

"How come?"

"I'm still awkward about acting, I guess," Jungkook answers truthfully, trying to find something decent to watch. However, he finds it insanely difficult to focus on what's on the screen when he can see Jimin watching him curiously in his peripherals.

"Really? I think you're very good at it, though."

"Yeah? You think so?"

Jimin nods with a tinge of pink dusting his cheeks. He finds it odd that Jungkook can be anything less than confident with everything he does, because he's so damn talented at everything. Plus, so many people must tell ever be self-conscious.

"What's the most difficult thing about acting?"

"Um...I would have to say...pretending to be in love when you're not? Pretending to hate someone is actually quite easy. For me, it is. But the whole romance thing with someone I barely know...it's strange."

"Oh," Jimin breathes out, remembering the scenes before Jungkook and the female lead. He was under the impression that Jungkook was playing the role of the man in love quite well. In fact, many people in the online community were already speculating about a potential budding relationship. "But it was so convincing..."

"Well, for starters, there are certain body language we're sort of taught or directed to do."

"Like what?"

"Here, let me show you," Jungkook says as he shifts his body so that he's facing Jimin. "Now, you face me too." Jimin does as he is told. "Now, I'm going to look straight into your eyes as if you're the most beautiful thing on the planet." The teen nods and blushes when the singer stares deeply into his own. "There's always the classic brushing hair back with a smile," he continues as he actually takes his fingers and tucks Jimin's loose locks behind his ears.

"Then the shy smile. Down, up, side." Jungkook looks down with a smile and then looks back up, before looking away with his eyes forming crescents. "Then of course, the leaning forward. This part is tricky, because I have to maintain a good angle for the camera, like this," and Jungkook leans in closer, until their nose is almost touching. "I have to act like it hurts to be away from the female lead. Apparently, the key is to blink slowly, like this, and to touch, like this." Jimin blinks owlishly when Jungkook brush his fingertips against his jawline so softly that it almost tickles. Just as abruptly, the singer pulls back with a shrug. "And yeah, that's pretty much it. Sorry about the touching. I should've gotten your permission ahead of time."

"It's...it's fine."

Jungkook smiles before returning his attention back to the screen, wondering why it was so much easier to do all those things with Jimin than it was with the female lead.

About ten minutes of TV later, Seokjin comes back home from buying groceries with Taekwoon in tow.

"Hey Jimin, hey Jungkook, Namjoon told me you'd be here. Welcome, welcome. Jimin, where's Tae?" Seokjin fires away rapidly, setting the heavy load he's carrying onto the counter with a dull thud. Taekwoon does so as well as he eyes Jungkook.

"He's taking a shower."

"Ah, I see. Oh, my bad. Taekwoon, this is Jungkook, you probably know all about him thanks to Jimin, and Jungkook, this is Taekwoon, he works at the diner with me."

"Hello, nice to meet you," Taekwoon puts a hand out, which the singer takes into a firm handshake.

"You'll be joining us for dinner, right?" Seokjin asks, to which Jungkook answers that he shouldn't be a bother. Seokjin tells the singer not to be silly and join them. "I forced Taekwoon here to help me out today, consider we have a lot of mouths to feed," the man continues, patting Taekwoon on the shoulder. Jimin approaches the counter and begins helping Taekwoon and Seokjin cook, despite Seokjin telling him that he can take the day off.

Jungkook watches the three work in harmony in awe, quite amazed especially by the way Taekwoon and Jimin seem to understand what each other needs without speaking a single word. Jimin volunteers to chop the onions and eventually finds himself tearing quite badly while doing so. Wordlessly, Taekwoon appears with tissues and dabs at Jimin's eyes gently, which has Jungkook narrowing his eyes. What's up with that Taekwoon guy? Does he think he's Jimin's mother or something?

Despite Taekwoon wanting to take over, Jimin continues to wrestle with the onion, until his eyes become too painful for him to see clearly and he ends up cutting his finger. Jungkook immediately gets up from the chair he's been watching from to go check that the fan is OK, but is stopped when Taekwoon's already by the teen's side, examining the cut.

"You really need to be more careful," Taekwoon murmurs gently before guiding Jimin to the sink to have the cut washed. He pulls out a bandage from his pocket (which has Jungkook wondering who the hell carries those around like that) before blowing Jimin's finger dry and putting it over the cut. Jimin lets the older man treat his finger with a blush but makes no movement to pull back.

Jungkook surprises himself when he realizes that he's been watching the entire interaction with his hands balled up into tight fists besides him. He doesn't understand why he's bothered by it, but something about Taekwoon is getting on his nerves.

For dinner, they decide that the table is way too small to accomodate 8 people and end up on the floor of the living room with the coffee table completely covered in food. The conversation is kept light-hearted, bouncing from talks about music to how Jimin and Taehyung are doing at school. Jimin eats and listens to everyon while seated between Taehyung and Taekwoon, with Jungkook sitting directly across from him.

"So you must meet a lot of hot girls," Namjoon says to Jungkook, once the singer is done answering Seokjin's question about if he gets to meet a lot of other idols.

"I guess?" Jungkook answers, although he's never quite paid much attention to other female idols.

"So what's your type? Anyone you're into? We promise not to notify a journalist." Seokjin's eyes are twinkling, and he slaps his boyfriend in the arm when the man lowly mutters "here we go again."

"As his manager, I'm uncomfortable with this conversation," Hoseok jokes while Yoongi cackles and shoves another spoonful of rice into his mouth.

"I like cute people, I guess," the singer answers slowly. "Someone nice. Someone who listens well, understands me well. Someone with a nice smile. Not into the whole double-eyelid thing, surprisingly...what else, shorter than me sounds nice, but not too short."

"That's super vague," Namjoon mutters, unhappy with the answer. "Everyone likes nice people with nice smiles. That's why Yoongi's single."

"Fuck off, Kim Namjoon."

"See?"

"Seems like you and Taekwoon hyung overlap," Taehyung comments almost off-handedly, not missing the sharp look the singer throws Taekwoon's way.

"Oh yeah, Taekwoon! I heard you like someone! What's she like! She must be so pretty!" Seokjin's long forgotten about his food as he leans forward towards the cook like a teenage girl waiting for some juicy gossip.

"More cute than pretty. Has a beautiful smile," Taekwoon begins softly, and Jimin looks up in awe at the way Taekwoon's expression softens at the mention of the mystery lady. "Amazing but doesn't know it. Has the most adorable laugh. Very caring. Always putting others first. Clumsy at times, but hardworking nonetheless. Makes me want to be a better person all the time..."

"She sounds...amazing. How long have you known her for?"

"Just a couple of months."

"Are you going to confess?"

"...I was going to wait a year...but I think I'll probably do it soon."

Jungkook, without bothering to figure out why, decides he and Taekwoon are probably not going to get along.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"You're seriously just going to crash here all the time now?"

Jungkook finishes yawning from the couch and looks up to find his stylist watching him with his usual lazy scowl. He had been dozing off in the living room while his manager, stylist and Rap Monster were furiously working on their latest track.

"Yeah, why not. Not like I have anyone else to hang out with," Jungkook mumbles sleepily. "Plus, the food here is awesome," he continues with a lazy smile, earning himself a dramatic eye roll from the blond man.

"Idol k-pop sensation Jeon Jungkook bumming at someone else's home?"

"What, idols aren't humans anymore?" the younger man counters cheekily before finally getting off of the furniture. There is some truth to what he's saying. He's been taking it easy since the end of his schedule for the latest album. The company had given him a couple of weeks to just relax and perhaps work on some songs if he's up for it (which he has been doing with the three rappers), and now that he has more time for himself, he finds that being at the Kim residence is the most entertaining thing he can do.

And of course, there's Jimin. When Namjoon first invited him over, he did not know that the fan lived in the house with the two older men. However, when Namjoon went around the apartment to give a small tour before they got started, the rapper briefly pointed to a closed door while mentioning that it's Jimin's room.

He wasn't planning on making a comeback to the apartment anytime soon. He knew better than to just crash at someone else's house (especially when it may get the rumor mill running), but then he found out that he likes spending time with Jimin...and that weirdo Taekwoon came into the picture...

"Is that Jeon Jungkook on our couch again?"

Both men turn to find Taehyung entering the living room while haphazardly throwing his backpack towards a corner.

"Hey, Taehyung," the singer greets lazily from where he's still lying down, while Yoongi rolls his eyes and leaves the vicinity after taking a bottle of water from the kitchen. "Where's Jimin?"

"Working. He basically works everyday, except Mondays, when the diner closes."

"Everyday? How does he get any studying done?" the singer asks in the most nonchalant tone he can muster in an effort to hide the annoyance he feels at the notion of Jungkook spending time with Taekwoon everyday. The image of Taekwoon putting bandage on the teen's cut pops up, and Jungkook has to physically shake his head to get rid of the picture. Taehyung throws him an apprehensive look but then shrugs.

"He somehow manages, but I think hyung is going to hire someone else so that Jimin isn't working everyday. Anyway, hey since you're here and all, can you do me a huge favor?"

"Yeah, shoot," Jungkook answers, secretly quite pleased with the piece of information. He knew he likes Seokjin the moment he saw the man.

"I don't think I have much to give you in return though. I have money, but I bet you have like a shitton of money already. I don't know what else to offer."

"I'm stealing all your brother's food anyway, so it's cool." And it's true. He's been helping himself to the diner leftovers and Seokjin's generously portioned cooking quite liberally and wasn't even ashamed of it.

"Cool. Anyway, it's about Jiminie."

Jungkook perks up and scoots, so that the teen can take a seat on the couch as well.

"What about him?"

"You dance a lot right? And know choreographers and dancers and stuff, right?"

"Um, yeah, I would like to think so. I thought this was about Jimin."

"It is. Trust me it is. So, I'm sure you're not aware of this but, Jimin is actually an incredible dancer. Like, incredible."

"Uhh..." Jungkook lets out slowly, trying to picture the usual timid Jimin dancing. At first, he can't, but then images of Jimin dancing in the park that one evening pops up into his head. To this day, he's not sure if he had actually seen the teen dance in real life or if he had imagined it all in his head or is recalling an all-too vivid dream. Jimin, since then, had no reason to believe that Jimin was indeed capable of dancing so well. Even when everyone talked about Jungkook's dancing or Namjoon's lack of that particular talent, Jimin never once included himself in the conversation.

"And I need you to somehow let him discover that talent by, let's say, taking him to your studio and making him dance with you or other dancers? And maybe you can tell him that he's better than you think."

"Um. I don't mind taking Jimin to my studio but...I don't know if I feel comfortable doing this behind his back?"

"You make it sound like I'm asking you to steal his life savings. You'll just be encouraging him to see that he's a talented dancer and hopefully pursue a career in the field."

"How is my telling him that's he's good going to suddenly boost his self-esteem?"

Taehyung laughs with a wave of his hand and then deadpans when he sees that the other man isn't. "Oh wait, you're serious."

"Uh..."

"Jimin thinks of you like some kind of a divine entity. Of course he's going to take your word for it. How do you not know this?"

Jungkook thinks over the words for a brief moment. He knows that Jimin's always been a fan of his, and yes, it's not entirely unusual for fans to place their idols on a pedastal, but he was under the notion that they were past that stage and were more like...friends? He's not sure if he should be happy or disappointed wih what Taehyung's just told him.

"You and Jimin are really close, huh," he says instead as he takes in the teen's expression. He's come to realize that Taehyung, alonside Seokjin and Namjoon are quite protective of Jimin. And well, Hoseok, the lover of all things adorable, are slowly joining the club as well.

"Yup. Best friends. Bros for life, whatever you want to call it. But that's not the important thing here. So will you do it?"

 

 

-

 


Jimin checks his phone after his shift at the diner to find that Jungkook had texted him. He opens it, guessing it's probably Jungkook being nice and checking up on him, but he is beyond shocked when instead, it's a text asking that they spend the next Monday together to grab dinner and just hang out.

Jimin texts the singer back to tell him that he messaged the wrong number. The singer texts back and says he's definitely got the right number. Jimin is both confused and excited.

When Monday does roll around, Jimin does find himself face to face with the singer, who had driven all the way to the Kim residence to personally pick him up. Ever since the accident, Jimin had done his best to avoid car rides, and Seokjin, knowing this, now walked back home with Jimin after closing the diner. Jimin knows that he can't continue to fear cars for the rest of his life, and yes, he's been in Seokjin's car a few times following the accident, but he can't help but be nervous as he gets on the passenger's seat.

Jungkook apologizes in advance as he tells the teen that they are going to have to eat in the car, because he doesn't want anyone taking pictures of Jimin while they're out. Jungkook does pull out a bag of takeaway food from the backseat, which Jimin gets started on as they start making their way out of the building.

"You...drive," Jimin comments quietly, surprised that Jungkook bothered to learn how to drive when Hoseok must take him everywhere with him.

"Got my license three days ago, actually."

"Seriously?" Jimin asks, almost going pale at the notion of being in a car with a novice driver.

"Yeah. Figured Hoseok is gonna need more time working on his music, which kinda leaves me all by myself. But at least I have you right?" Jungkook replies playfully but stops when he sees that Jimin is staring at his own hands in silence. "I promise to drive safely. Uh anyway, I was going to get your some burgers, but Jin hyung wasn't happy with the idea of me feeding you junk food. So I got you sushi instead. Well, I made my manager aka J-Hope get it for me, but whatever."

"You talked to Jin hyung?"

"Kinda hard to just kidnap you without him knowing, isn't it?"

Jimin scratches his neck at the notion of getting permission before leaving the house for anything. His father had never asked once where he's going. In fact, the man didn't care if Jimin was dying in a ditch somewhere as long as the cash for home safely. So Jin was kind of like his dad now?

"Hey, I'm sorry, I can still get you the burger. I didn't think you'd get so upset, shit, sorry," Jungkook fumbles with his words, doing his best to focus on the road instead of watching Jimin who had gone awfully quiet with a suddenly saddened look in his eyes.

"No, no, it's not that...thank you."

"You can get started. Sorry again for having to eat in the car."

"Oh, it's no problem. Do you....do you want some too?"

"I would, but I'm not going to venture into the whole one-hand driving realm just yet."

"I can...feed you, if you'd like?"

Jungkook knows for a fact that his calves twitched at the words, because he was overcome with the sudden urge to step on the breaks. Did Jimin just volunteer to feed him?

It would be incredibly rude for him to decline, right?

"Yeah sure, if you don't mind." Jungkook has never been more glad of his acting training.

"Oh, OK," Jimin replies awkwardly before opening up a pair of chopsticks and proceding to pop a sushi into the singer's mouth everytime the car comes to a stop. Jungkook finds it incredibly difficult to focus both on the road and swalling his food without choking on it, because Jimin's adorable look of concentration is surprisingly distracting.

"Hey, you're supposed to eat too," Jungkook comments when he realizes that Jimin hasn't put a single one into his own mouth.

"Oh, right..."

"We're taking turns now."

Jimin flashes the singer a smile before taking a piece of himself. Jungkook then lets himself a satisfied grin before turning back to face the road.

"So what kind of food do you like?" Jungkook asks, once they're done with the food. He's glad that there aren't too many cars around at the time.

"I'm fine with anything. Nothing spicy though."

"Oh that's good. I can't do spicy either. I love lamb skewers. You?"

"Never had em..." Jimin replies hesitantly, not even sure what lamb skewers are to begin with.

"Oh, you're joking! You've never had lamb skewers? Yeah, we're definitely going to have to change that. Next time, we taking a late night trip to this place I know."

"Next time...?"

"Yeah, next time. You know, you always seem to be surprised that we're going to hang out again. This is what friends do, right? Hang out? Talk? Eat together?"

"Friends?"

"Yes, friends. Just as a head's up, you don't have a say in the matter," Jungkook continues with a teasing toothy grin. Jimin laughs, and Jungkook almost shivers at the sound. Jimin sounds beautiful when he laughs, which has the singer wondering why the teen doesn't do it more often. "So you're up for it right? For some lamb skewers."

"I guess so."

"Be prepared to have your mind blown. Oh, I think we're here."

"Um...isn't this..." Jimin starts, looking up at the impressive building they're approaching. He remembers going into building to listen to the three rappers record (and of course Taehyung sing).

They enter the building, and the receptionist greets Jungkook pleasantly before going back to her computer. Jimin follows the singer timidly down the corridors until they stop at one of the doors. The singer pushes the door open and motions for the teen to step right in.

"Isn't this where you film your dance practice videos?" Jimin asks after taking a second to look around the spacious studio, with three sides covered in mirrors. He recognizes the place from the countless times he's replayed videos of Jungkook practicing in his casual clothes, with little or no makeup on his face.

"Yup. Here we are."

"Thank you for inviting me...and everything else."

"Again with the thanking me, we're just two people hanging out, aren't we? Anyway, since we're here, why don't we dance a little?"

"Uh, dance? We?"

"It's not fair you got to see me dance and I haven't seen anything from you, so come on, let me see what you got," the singer sing-songs as he heads to the audio system and plugs his phone to it. "Any specific song you want?"

"I can't dance."

"Anyone can dance," Jungkook yells over as he turns Sorry Not Sorry on, because it's the latest song he's been practicing to.

"I can't-"

"Hey, it's just you and me. Nobody else. Live a little, Jimin. Stop thinking and just dance."

"I really can't..."

Jungkook grins before he makes his way towards Jimin, swaying his hips a little playfully as he does so. He stands in front of the teen and pops his chest before falling into a body roll, his smile still teasing, his fingers slightly taunting, as if challenging the other man to join. Jimin watches the other singer in what seems like fascination before licking his lips slowly and moving to the beat as well. Jimin starts slow, almost timidly, before he's popping and sliding to the song, and it takes every fiber of Jungkook's being to not just stop and stare, because damn, Jimin can move.

Jimin's almost sensual in the way he moves, yet there is an undeniable air of child-like innocence and masculinity that overwhelms the grace. When the chorus hits, Jimin's in his own element, and the usual shy glint in his eyes are replaced by that of something almost feral. Jungkook continues to move harder, when his competitive instinct kicks in. They dance alongside each other, sometimes facing each other, sometimes side-by-side, and both of them are panting and heaving by the time the song comes to an end.

Jungkook isn't sure if it's the dancing itself or the way Jimin had danced that leaves him so breathless.

Just then, the door slams open, revealing none other than his choreographer slash dance coach Cha Hakyeon, who's pointing a finger straight at the currently alarmed teenager.

"I want him."

Jungkook raises his eyebrows as Hakyeon continues to march into the room, stopping only when he's mere inches away from Jimin.

"I don't know who he is, or where he came from, but I want him."

Jimin blinks owlishly at the stranger and then snaps to glance at Jungkook, who's doing his best to stifle his own laughter. He should've paid attention to the door to see if anyone's watching. Of course his dance teacher would be snooping around to see if anyone's practicing.

"H...hello..." Jimin squeaks out in his best effort to be polite, despite the man towering over him with eyes that are twinkling perhaps a bit too brightly.

"Oh, and he's so cute. I want him. How much for this one?" Hakyeon says, turning to the singer this time.

"Uh, this here is Jimin, a friend of mine, and Jimin, this is Cha Hakyeon, my choreographer."

At this, Jimin widens his eyes as he starts to look at the other man in awe. "I...I've heard about you. Your choreography is amazing..."

"Why thank you, Jimin. Jeon Jungkook, where have you been hiding him all this time? You knew I needed more dancers!" Hakyeon yells almost petulantly, stomping his feet for good measures.

"Actually, this is the first time I'm seeing him dance," Jungkook lies, doing the best innocent doe-eyed expression he can muster. He's not being entirely dishonest. The first time around hardly counted.

"How! With a talent like this? How old are you?"

"17..."

"And only 17!" Hakyeon continues dramatically, putting a hand over his chest. "You're joining my dance crew. Now. Time to get some papers signed."

"I uh..."

"Hyung, slow down," Jungkook mediates, holding a hand up. He knows how excited Hakyeon can get when it comes to good dancers, but from the looks of it, Jimin seems utterly terrified by the overwhelming man. "He's just here to chill out. We can talk business later, right, Jimin?"

Jimin nods dumbly, his eyes still fixed on the way the darker man is watching him.

"Fine, fine. But I expect to hear from you soon, Jimin. Seriously, it's a sin to not be showcasing that level of talent to the rest of the world."

"So dramatic."

"Shut up, Jungkook. I'm making the next choreography harder now."

"You can't!"

"I can, and I will. That's what you get for hiding something like Jimin over here. Seriously, Jimin, really give joining my crew a thought. You can ask Jungkook here all about how wonderful it is, right Jungkookie?"

"Of course," Jungkook mutters under his breath, knowing that going against the man's words is only going to lead to more hours of practice.

"Excellent, It was wonderful meeting you, Jimin, and welcome to the crew."

"He hasn't joined yet."

"You shut your mouth, Jungkook. Bye Jimin!" Hakyeon waves as he makes his way out the door with a twirl.

"I'm...sorry about that. He can be a bit much but he's a good guy," Jungkook says with a defeated sigh as soon as he sees that the door is shut.

"So that's your choreographer...I've always wondered who makes all the dance moves."

"Yup, he's the man behind all the moves. Bit of a genius, but equally...eccentric. Anyway, he's obviously very interested in having you join his crew."

"Huh? I thought he's being nice..."

"Oh trust me, Cha Hakyeon does not do being nice. You're lucky if he doesn't insult you with a smile."

"Oh..."

"So you gonna give it a thought? Joining his dance crew?"

"I'm not sure what that means."

"For one thing, it means a shitton of practice with that man and the rest of the members in his crew. It also means you'll be performing with me," Jungkook explains and then mulls over his own words. If Jimin joins the crew, Jimin will be spending a lot more time with him. Jimin will tag along to all his performances and concerts and practices. Jimin will be doing all those things instead of working in that diner with Taekwoon...huh...

"Oh...uh wow...that's...that's amazing, but I don't think I'm good enough-"

"Oh trust me, you're plenty good enough. Almost fell in love with you watching you dance," Jungkook says with a cheeky grin, leaning forward and putting a hand on the teen's head. He doesn't miss the way Jimin blushes furiously under the touch.

 


-

 


Seokjin falls ill, which has Jimin and Taekwoon closing the diner without their manager. They have Namjoon come and pick the older man up before they finish serving up last of the customers before spending the last half an hour or so cleaning up and preparing for the next day. Both Taekwoon and Jimin work in comfortable silence until it's time for them to leave. Taekwoon volunteers to walk Jimin home, and while he does protest, he lets the older man do as he wishes.

"You're going to the hyungs' performance next week, right?" Jimin asks, suddenly remembering that the three rappers are shceduled to perform in a quite sizeable venue in Hongdae to promote their new tracks.

Taekwoon nods.

"I still can't believe Namjoon hyung can rap like that."

"He's very talented."

"Yeah...he really is..." Jimin falters and then lets the silence stretch on for about a minute or so before continuing. "I've been meaning to ask...have you decided when to ask out that special someone?"

To this, Taekwoon gives Jimin a glance before looking straight ahead.

"Not yet. But probably soon."

"Have you...been in a relationship before?" Jimin asks, suddenly remembering Taekwoon's refusal to answer Seokjin's questions regarding his past girlfriends. That had initiated a heated conversation among Seokjin, Taehyung and Namjoon regarding what kind of woman the tall, handsome man must have dated. Namjoon's money was on sexy ladies with nice ass and plump lips, Seokjin's money was on small girls with nice wavy hair and big eyes. Taehyung's bet was on girls with dyed hair, tattoos and lip piercings who secretly like cute, fluffy things.

"No."

"No? Really? But you're..."

"I'm what?"

"....attractive..." Jimin finishes, a bit embarassed that he used that particular word. It makes him sound so shallow.

Taekwoon flashes one of his rare shy toothy smile before shaking his head slowly.

"I fell in love with the wrong person the first time around and never quite recovered until now," Taekwoon begins softly, his voice barely carried by the gentle breeze of the night air. Jimin looks up and waits for the older man to continue.

"I ran away from home when I was 13. I was a kid with nothing on me. I remembering just wandering around aimlessly for days and falling asleep behind one of the dumpsters of some diner. The owner found me and took me in for a nice meal and let me stay."

Jimin swallows hard, not sure what to do with the information. He was under the impression that Taekwoon had led a relatively comfortable life, judging from his gentle demeanor and overall calm personality.

"I began working there in return. Helped around the kitchen and eventually learned how to cook. They had a son that was around my age. We got along so well. We were both into music and food. He would write all these songs and have me listen to them."

Jimin's heart aches as he listens to the similarities between his and Taekwoon's life. It's just like how Seokjin took him in and he befriended Taehyung.

"Then I fell in love with the wrong person."

"...Who?" Jimin asks carefully when Taekwoon continues walking without another word.

"The son."

Jimin's entire body goes rigid as he registers the words. The son, Taekwoon said. The son, as in another guy.

"I couldn't stop myself. So I ran away, because I couldn't stand being in the same house."

Jimin's steps slow down until they come to a complete halt. Taekwoon follows suit and stops before he turns around and faces Jimin.

"It took me until now to promise myself to never run away again."

Jimin doesn't quite know what to do with the information Taekwoon's throwing his way. Is Taekwoon coming out to him? He is right? Jimin knows better than to discriminate, because his mother watching him from Heaven would be furious with him if she ever found out that her son is being anything less than accepting of everyone's differences. He's just shocked by the idea that Taekwoon can be anything but straight, because he's always pictured Taekwoon with an equally stunning woman with a smile that can blind people.

It takes Jimin a while to overcome the initial shock and realize that Taekwoon's letting probably what is his biggest secrets out to him. The older man is laying them all out, knowing he might risk having them stepped on. Jimin holds his breath, not knowing what to say or do. He wishes he had more experience with something like this. Why does he have to be so damn awkward?

He wills his mouth to move. He wills his brain to come up with something nice to say to wipe the sad look off of Taekwoon's face. None comes, so he instead walks up to Taekwoon and wrap his skinny arms around the bigger man in what he hopes is a comforting hug.

"I'm..." Jimin begins slowly once he feels Taekwoon relax against him. "I'm sure anyone would be very lucky to have you," he says, and even as the words leave his mouth, he's not sure if it's even an appropriate thing to say in a situation like this.

Taekwoon pulls back slowly while holding Jimin's gaze.

"I hope so," the older man says softly. "We're almost home. I'll see you tomorrow."

And with that, Taekwoon walks away, leaving Jimin confused and inexplicably sad. He doesn't think he can return home right now. He's so bad at hiding things from Seokjin and Namjoon, and he's not about to risk accidentally spilling a secret so deep. So instead, he makes his way towards the playground in front of the apartment and takes one of the swings for himself.

Jimin thinks. He thinks long and hard about what had just happened.

Taekwoon's gay. He's never seen a gay person in real life. He hadn't given much thought about what a gay person must look like, but Taekwoon definitely didn't fit the image he had in his head.

The small idea starts spreading within Jimin. One question leads to another and suddenly, Jimin has moved on from imagining Taekwoon with another man to he himself being with another man. The thought wouldn't be so alarming if he wasn't so OK with the imagery. Jimin frowns and pictures himself holding hands with an indiscriminate male figure. The idea isn't at all repulsive. He then imagines a more intimate moment, where he's kissing another man on the lips, with rough, big hands holding him close, and even then, he's not at all uncomfortable. In fact, it actually feels right.

Why, though?

Does this make him gay or just accepting of homosexuality? Jimin's not entirely sure if he wants to find the answer to that particular question. Why is it that he's never given a thought about his sexuality? He's never been intersted in anyone in his life, but he's always figured that it may be because he was always so busy trying to make enough money to keep his father from beating him into a pulp. He had built such a wall around him that dating had never been an option.

Come to think of it, Taehyung had talked about some girls on a number of occasions, but he had just nodded and agreed to whatever his friend said, thinking that was just the right thing for friends to do. He couldn't recall the names or faces of the girls mentioned. Not a single one of them. Then there is the fact that he had always been more fascinated by the strength in Jungkook's dance than the sensuality of that of female idols. Does this mean...?

Jimin is so caught up with pondering over his sexuality that he doesn't notice another figure sitting on the swing besides him. Jimin jumps and looks up to see Namjoon watching him curiously.

"Kiddo, Seokjin was freaking out that you hadn't come home and wouldn't pick up your phone and made me come out and find you. What are you doing out here?"

"Oh," Jimin says dumbly and then pulls out his phone to check that Seokjin had indeed called him a number of times. Had he been so out of it that he didn't even realize his phone was vibrating in his pocket? "I'm sorry..."

"Nah, it's OK. He's probably too drugged up on meds to remember. Something on your mind, kid?"

"It's...nothing..."

"I'm not going to push you or anything, but you're a hell of a terrible liar. Thought you should know that for future reference."

"Oh..."

"Is it anything I can help you with?"

"I don't...think so..."

"You know you can tell me, Seokjin or Taehyung anything right? We'll never judge. You should know that by now."

"I know...thank you..."

"Alright then, off you go. Let's head back in. It's gettin late."

 


-

 


The rest of the week goes almost shockingly well. Taekwoon doesn't act any differently, which has Jimin wondering if he had imagined the whole thing in his head. Jimin contemplates asking the older man about it but decides against it because really, what is he hoping to get out of doing something like that?

As days go by, Jimin continues to ponder over his sexuality and finally comes to a conclusion that he prefers the idea of being with a man more than he does with a woman. Once the realization settles, he's hit with another session of self-hate, because he can't be gay on top of everything else. He can't be the gay orphan loser. People at school already considers him the easiest target to unleash all their teenage angst and hate onto. What would they do to him if they ever found out that he's gay?

While self-loathing is expressed in the form of anger for most people, Jimin falls into a state of silence and depression that has him barely touching his food. He avoids Seokjin, Namjoon and Taehyung, because suddenly, he's ashamed of who he is. What if Seokjin and Namjoon ever found out? They wouldn't want a gay kid at their home right? What if Taehyung finds out? Taehyung hadn't given any indication that he's homophobic, but no one wants to be friend with a gay kid, right? Taehyung wouldn't risk social suicide like that. If anyone were to find out, he'd be left with no one, with no home or family to return to.

The poisonous thought continues to spread, and they are further confirmed when Jimin dares to do an internet search on the topic, just to end up reading hateful comments telling him that he's an abomination and should just die of AIDS. The internet is filled with such angry comments and absolute refusal to accept him as another member of society. In all honesty, he's frightened. He doesn't understand how Taekwoon could come out to him when he himself must know how the general population of Korean feels about homosexuality.

As time goes by, Jimin can't bear to look at Seokjin or Namjoon, or even Taehyung, because images of them angrily yelling at him in disgust keeps overlapping their usual friendly smiles. He wouldn't survive knowing they hate him. He can't.

So one day, Jimin decides that he's going to have to leave the house, just as Taekwoon had done years back. He packs his bag with everything he owns, which isn't much to begin with, and some of the cash that he had saved while working at the diner. He picks up the money and then shakes his head and places them neatly on the desk with a small note thanking Seokjin and Namjoon for taking care of him and thanking Taehyung for having been such a great friend. He wipes at his eyes furiously to stop the tears from coming out as he quietly sneaks out of the room. His father had been right. Nobody would ever love him.

Jimin stands in front of the main door and turns around to take one last look at the apartment. He's grown fond of the place. It was the first place that made him feel safe and wanted. Well, not anymore, but...

He's just about to open the door when a voice stops him.

"And where do you think you're going at this hour, kid?"

It's Namjoon again, his voice tired and his arms folded across from him. From the looks of him, Namjoon must have been writing lyrics instead of sleeping, and Jimin can't believe he had been so stupid to not check that everyone else is asleep.

"I..."

"I think we need to have a little talk. Give me that bag."

Jimin swallows hard and hands the older man the bag with a defeated slump of his shoulders. He follows Namjoon into the small studio, where Namjoon closes the door behind him with a sigh.

"Alright kiddo, we've all been worrying about you acting all down, but we left it alone, because we get it, we were teenagers once. We all got our issues, and you especially have every reason to be like that considering what's happened...but I get the feeling there's something else. So what is it?"

Jimin nervously plays with the hem of his tee. He knows that he's not going to be leaving the room until he confesses, and when he does, Namjoon will surely kick him out. But that's what he wants anyway right? To leave the house and let the Kims be, away from him, right?

"I...I..." Jimin begins, his eyes squeezed shut. "I think I'm gay."

There's a stretch of silence, and Jimin doesn't dare open his eyes in fear of seeing Namjoon disappointed in him. There is a sick sensation boiling in his stomach and he feels light headed as if he's being spun around the room. He half expects Namjoon to slap him across the face or kick him or something, but nothing comes his way.

Then out of nowhere, Namjoon is laughing, almost tears in his eyes as he gasps for air in between his loud laughter. Jimin's confused and briefly wonders if he had driven Namjoon into madness.

"I..I'll leave the house...I'm sorry for-" Jimin starts but is stopped when Namjoon, who is stil laughing, leaves the room calling out for Seokjin's name. Seokjin yells something back from the bedroom (something like shut the hell up) but eventually emerges from the bedroom when Namjoon insists that it's super important.

"What the hell can possibly be so damn important?" Seokjin asks in a grouchy tone, doing his best to keep his eyes open.

"Jimin here tried to run away."

"You what!? Why!" Seokjin looks wide awake all of a sudden, his eyes wide open and staring directly at Jimin. The teen cowers from where he's standing, feeling almost naked under the scrutiny.

"No, but that's not the important thing here. Guess why he tried to run away."

"Is it the sushi? Because I wouldn't let you have burgers? Jungkook told me you were disappointed but Jimin-"

"No, guess again," Namjoon says almost gleefully, and Jimin's utterly confused by the turn of events. Is Namjoon setting him up for something horrible? Is this how hate crimes against gays usually begin?

"I don't know! Just tell me!" Seokjin bites, slapping Namjoon in the arm in frustration. He thought Jimin was happy with them, and he would be lying if he said that his heart isn't broken just a little by the notion of Jimin ever wanting to leave them.

"Jimin here is on the same team as us."

"What? What team? Can you stop being so goddamn cryptic and just tell me?"

"Come on, Jin! He plays on our team."

"Our team, what? What the hell does that- oh....." Seokjin falters at the sudden realization, and Jimin just watches the two men in complete silence, wondering if this is where he gets hit in the face.

"Jimin, why didn't you just tell us you're gay?" Seokjin asks softly, approaching the small boy and lowering himself so that they're eye to eye.

"I....you don't...hate me?"

"How could I hate you for that?"

"Yeah, Jimin, especially when we're..." Namjoon begins and then grabs Seokjin by the face before kissing him deeply. Seokjin flails his arms about and then pushes the bigger man off of him with a roll of his eyes.

"There are better ways to make that point without PDA you dork," Seokjin complains before turning his attention back to Jimin, who's staring at him with eyes wide open.

"You and....Namjoon hyung...."

"Sorry kiddo, we've been a thing for like...years now."

Jimin gapes dumbly like a fish, staring back and forth between the two older man. Namjoon and Seokjin were gay? Not only gay but together? How had he not known this all this time? How?

"Alright Jimin," Seokjin starts with a clap. "Back to bed. We can talk about this all you want tomorrow, but right now, sleep for you mister. You got school tomorrow."

And just like that, they all went to bed as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.

 


-

 


"Tae? I have something to tell you," Jimin starts nervously as he watches Taehyung turn around to face him from the desk.

"What's up."

"I....I'm gay."

Taehyung blinks a couple times before going back to the computer with a shrug and a nonchalant "that's cool."

"That's it...?"

"What else is there supposed to be? My own brother's gay."

"You knew?"

"How would I not know. You're so silly, Jiminie. The only thing that's bothering me is that I'm the only straight one in this household. I think I kind of understand the ostracization homosexual individuals must feel at their homes," Taehyung continues seriously, furiously clicking away on his mouse and keyboard and then yelling "headshot bitch!" when he manages to take his opponent down.

"Uh..."

"Hey, at least now you won't be too shocked if you start hearing sounds from the bedroom. I know they're trying to keep their hands off of each other with you around, but now the cat's out of the bag, I doubt anything's going to stop them now," the teen continues, typing an equally scathing reply to someone throwing a your mom insult his way.

"What sound?"

"Jesus, Jiminie. You poor little, lost innocent soul. Sex sounds, young one, loud, passionate sex noises. Just a head's up, Namjoon hyung is pretty mouthy in bed. Oh shit! That fucker almost got me."

"They...do that...?" Jimin asks and he knows that his face must be burning red. It's not that he's such a prude that he's never watched porn or doesn't know what sex is, but it's super weird knowing that the two hyungs must go at it from time to time. He briefly wonders who must be top and then shakes that thought away, because it feels rude to think of them that way.

"They're two healthy men in their late twenties who are still obsessed with each other. Of course they're doing it," Taehyung replies and then makes a quick look of disgust before focusing on the game.

"Oh...um, Tae?"

"Mmm?"

"How come they never told me?"

"Probably for the same reason you didn't tell them. Ha! Headshot asshole!, I also think it's because they're just so used to not showing it to anyone else. And they probably didn't want to...I dunno, make you feel uncomfortable or pressure you. It's a lot easier for them to convince you to live with them when it's just two roomies as opposed to an actual couple."

"I should look for a place..."

"You do that and you'll just be proving them right. Don't be silly, Jiminie."

"But-"

"I know you're probably going to get this talk from hyung soon, but always remember to use protection. And prep. Always prep."

"What prep?"

"Wow, hyung is going to have fun with you. Nevermind all that. Now, you wanna learn how to play this game or not?"

Jimin spends the next hour or so listening to Taehyung calling him a noob.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

In all honesty, Jimin had expected his revelation pertaining to his sexuality to somehow turn his world upside down.

Yet, as he looks around the table at the familiar faces gathered around for breakfast, he sees that nothing has changed. Seokjin continues to cook up meals for them, Namjoon is still banned from the kitchen, and Taehyung shoves food into his mouth as if it's the last meal he's going to get before venturing into the jungle. Well, there is a bit of a difference. Namjoon would kiss Seokjin's temple or cheeks every once in a while, and Seokjin would lean into the other man's touch, and without fail, Jimin would blush each and every time.

He's quite amazed that he hadn't read all the body language before. Namjoon and Seokjin had always been comfortable around each other, and the way they spoke to one another should have been a clear indication of their relationship, yet Jimin had been blind the whole time. Because really, how was he supposed to have expected to live with a gay couple in Korea of all places?

"Hyungs, you might wanna tone it down before Jiminie spontaneously combusts," Taehyung comments idly, reaching for the pitcher of orange juice. Both Seokjin and Namjoon turn to face Jimin, who's digging deeper into the seat with his cheeks burning red.

"Kiddo, you're gonna have to get use to it. You'll be doing it soon enough yourself," Namjoon teases as he plants another sloppy kiss on his boyfriend's cheek for emphasis. Seokjin swats him away but laughs anyway, because the way Jimin's peeking at them in embarrassment is adorable.

"So what kind of guys are you into?" Taehyung asks once he's done refilling his glass. Seokjin's eyes are twinkling again, and Namjoon almost feels bad for the kid. The Kims are never going to let this go unless they get an answer from Jimin.

"I...I've never really thought about it..." Jimin mumbles into his bowl of cereal, hoping that the milk would somehow swallow him whole.

"What! How is that possible! Are you even sure you're gay?"

"I personally find that a little bit offensive," Namjoon jokes and ignores the pointed look Taehyung throws his way.

"OK, so tall or short?"

Jimin finally looks up from his bowl to face his overly eager friend.

"Huh?"

"Tall or short? Which do you prefer? My money is on tall."

Jimin imagines himself again with the indiscriminate male and surprisingly finds someone taller than him holding him close.

"Tall..."

"I knew it. Oh, what about me. I'm taller. Do you find me attractive?"

Jimin almost chokes on his own saliva, as Namjoon barks out a high-pitched laugh from across the table.

"Wh-what?"

"I'm not saying we're gonna date, calm down. I'm just wondering, would you find someone like me attractive?" Taehyung repeats his question, looking genuinely curious. Jimin throws a look Seokjin's way for help but only gets a shrug in response.

"Um...you're a good-looking guy, Tae..." Jimin ventures, hoping it's the right thing to say. He figures it is when Taehyung beams at the two adults.

"Heard that? I'm a good-looking guy."

"Yeah, yeah, you Kims are good-looking. Not the first time you heard that," Namjoon mumbles with a roll of his eyes as he grabs himself another toast from the table. Seokjin passes him the butter without even looking.

"Oh, by the way, our Jiminie here doesn't know what prepping is," Taehyung lets out with a grin, and Jimin looks around nervously when the two adults stare at him with their mouths agape.

"OK Jimin, prepping is-" Seokjin begins with a motherly and serious expression, but is stopped by both Namjoon and his younger brother, who yell at him to wait till at least breakfast is over. Taehyung makes a face and complains yet again about being the only straight one.

So after breakfast, everyone quickly clears the table so that they can get started on the actual sex talk. Namjoon sticks around just to enjoy the look of embarrassment on the teen's face, while Taehyung remains because all of a sudden, he's very curious about how gay people "go at it," since judging from the sounds Namjoon makes, there's some serious stuff going down. The couple tells him to never bring that up again.

"So, I'm going to assume you've seen porn so you know the basics," Seokjin starts seriously while Namjoon fails miserably at pulling a poker face.

Jimin nods, already crimson red at being the center of attention for something like this.

"Now, for two men, it's a little bit different. Prepping is very, very important. Jimin, I don't know if you'll be a top or a bottom in a relationship-"

"Bottom," both Namjoon and Taehyung yell out simultaneously and do a quick high-five like a child, which earns them a pointed look from Seokjin.

"Tae, that's ignorant, and Namjoon, I expect better from a fellow gay man," the diner owner says sternly, and Namjoon replies with a sheepish grin and a meek "but I can't imagine Jimin topping."

"I agree," Taehyung butts in. "Power bottom, maybe, but top? Meh...."

Seokjin smacks his brother in the head while asking how he even knows that word in the first place.

"Youtube," the teen replies and then cackles when he sees that Jimin's hiding his face behind his own hands.

"Tae, shut it, or you're leaving the table."

"Fine..."

"Anyway, regardless of if you're going to top or bottom, you should still know about prepping. The ring of muscle around the anus isn't as- "

"Ew, anus," Taehyung says and earns another smack, this time from Namjoon.

"Tae, seriously."

"Sorry."

"Anyway, it's not as elastic and will need some stretching before the actual event."

"Any by actual event, Jin here means penis going in," Namjoon interrupts, because he's not entirely sure if Jimin's following. He just looks like he's about to cry or spontanously combust or both.

"Jesus, Joon. Come on," Seokjin huffs in annoyance before turning back to Jimin. "Now, some couples choose to use butt plugs, which we can probably purchase for you if you choose to experiment a little."

At this, Jimin sinks lower into the chair, even the tips of his ears burning red.

"But normally, couples use fingers. Now, no matter what goes in, it's important to use lube because you don't want to hurt anyone."

"How many fingers are we talking about here?" Taehyung asks innocently, then squirms when he thinks about someone's finger inside him.

"Three's the magic number. Usually." Namjoon answers instead, putting up three of his fingers for emphasis. "But not at the same time. Start with one, move around a bit and then wait for your partner to ease into it. And then add another, and this when the actual stretching is done for the most part. And usually, another one just to get them ready for the penetration."

"It's weird when you say the word penetration," Taehyung muses as he takes in everything his brother's boyfriend is saying.

"Grow up, kid."

"Anyway," Seokjin continues. "Make sure you keep adding lube when you think it's necessary. You really don't want to start off wrongly. It ruins the entire experience, and always remember that it's supposed to make you feel good. Now...I think we're done with prepping?"

Namjoon nods and then covers his mouth with his hand, because he's so close to bursting out in laughter at Jimin.

"So moving onto the actual thing. I know people think condoms aren't needed for gay people, but always, always wear a condom unless you know for fact that your partner is completely clean. Even then, it does prevent a lot of mess to just use rubber. Oh, I almost forgot about rimming."

"Ri...rimming...?" Jimin asks meekly, finally looking up and making eye contact with Seokjin.

"That's when you lick someone's anus," Namjoon answers nonchalantly while leaning towards the teen, and Jimin lets out a strangled noise before he gets off the chair.

"I uh...I think....I think I know enough...for now...yeah...thank you....I'll uh...thank you," Jimin breathes out hurridly before nearly bolting out of the dining area and finding refuge in his room. Both Namjoon and Taehyung think it's the funniest thing on the planet and procede to laugh until they're in tears, while Seokjin rolls his eyes and starts worrying about Jimin. Jimin's a good kid. Such a good kid. And he really doesn't want Jimin to venture out into the gay wilderness out of curiosity and meet a total asshole that's going to force Jimin to have sex with him.

It's like raising a kid, and somehow, Seokjin finds it kinda nice.

 

 


-

 

 

 

The internet blows up the next day with news of Jaebum from GOT7. As soon as he spots the headline, Jungkook is quick to click on it, feeling sick that perhaps the singer had been outed. Yet, as he scrolls through the article, he realizes that its the complete opposite of what he had been expecting.

There are tens and hundreds of articles about Jaebum being in a relationship with a member from female idol group debuted by JYP. A lot of the fans seem angry that their oppa dared to date someone behind their backs, while many are criticizing the idol for not having been more careful. There are streams of fans swearing that they will no longer be a fan of GOT7, and somehow they speak out so much more loudly than voices supporting Jaebum.

Even as he reads the articles, Jungkook's not quite sure what he's reading, because Jackson had been so sure about Jaebum seeing another man. He has a vague idea where this is coming from but decides to call Jackson and ask him himself.

Jackson doesn't answer. The singer only calls back much later that night, when it's nearing 2 in the morning.

"Hey, what the hell's going on?" Jungkook asks as soon as he picks up the phone. There is a defeated sigh from the other line.

[The company found out...and they needed a way to cover it up before rumors start.]

"Are you telling me that Jaebum is in a fake relationship?"

[Yeah, and the company saw it as the perfect opportunity to promote the new group as well.]

"Shit. How is he?"

[I don't know. He's not coming out of his room, and frankly, I'm afraid to go in at the moment. I'm sure he's not going to do anything reckless but...man, this is all so fucked up, you know?]

"Yeah, it really is....how did the company find out?"

[Some sack of shit took a photo and blackmailed the company for money. Obviously, the company paid him off but...they're not taking their chances. It's a shitstorm here, man. Everyone's fucking losing it.]

"Your members know, right?"

[No. Only me still.]

"What!?"

[Clearly, the company isn't going to tell all the members that Jaebum's gay. They're not going to risk shit blowing up within the team.]

"Then how the hell did you find out?"

[I took your advice and talked to him last week about it, and well, he told me bits and pieces after talking to the company. Everyone else kinda told Jaebum that he should've been more carefully when dating other idols, and well, you know Jaebum and how he reacts to shit like that...]

"Holy shit...that's a fucking mess."

[Tell me about it. Youngjae and Jinyoung seem more pissed off that Jaebum didn't give them a head's up. BamBam's confused, Mark just looks sad, and poor Yugeom is busy running away from the other hyungs. Fuck me. Seriously.]

"I don't know what to tell you, man..."

[Just be glad you're not in my group. Fuck. I should go check up on everyone else. I'll talk to you later, man.]

"Yeah, alright. Take care."

Jungkook hangs up and then takes a seat on his couch. He's always been told to fear entertainment agencies and fans, but experiencing this second-hand through someone he actually knew quite well served as a stern reminder of just that.

 


-

 


Jimin enters the living room with Seokjin and Taekwoon after closing up the diner to find Hoseok and Yoongi lazily sprawled across the couch alongside Namjoon, who's slowly rolling across the floor.

"Guys, seriously?" Seokjin huffs as he eyes the three men sternly.

"We just had like a five hour rap session. We deserve this," Yoongi mumbles into the cushion his face is squished against.

"Yeah, OK, Suga. Just don't drool on the cushion," Seokjin commends and earns himself a delicate flick of the middle finger from Yoongi.

"Jiminie!" Hoseok cooes from where he lying and pulls himself up to a sitting position. Jimin waves shyly and lets Hoseok bounce towards him and pinch his cheeks. "So cute! So squishy!"

"What the actual fuck is wrong with you," Yoongi hisses from where he hasn't moved an inch.

"Don't listen to him," Hoseok counters, still playing with Jimin's face. "Call me Hobi hyung."

"Hobi hyung?"

"Aww so cute! Taehyung used to be cute like you and then he got all tall and big and shit and it's just not the same. But you!"

"Shut the hell up, you fucking pedo," Yoongi grumbles, managing to throw a cushion towards his friend but missing by a mile.

"I'm not a pedo for thinking Jiminie here is cute. Just look at him! Look at these cheeks!"

"Jung Hoseok, get off Jimin," Seokjin yells from the bathroom, where he's washing his hands. Hoseok reluctantly lets the teen go and finally decides to greet his stepbrother.

"Yo, Taek, what brings you here."

"Don't sound like this is your home, you dumbass," Namjoon says from the floor, where he's still inexplicably rolling across it slowly.

"Shut the hell up guys, I'm talking to my brother here. So what's up?"

"Seokjin hyung invited me."

"I still can't believe you and Taekwoon are related," Namjoon continues, finally stopping to get a good look at the two men standing next to the couch. Taekwoon is the more broody, soft-spoken feline type, while Hoseok is the essence of a human beagle, with big droopy eyes, energetic demeanor and a voice that carries on for miles.

"Clearly, I'm hotter," Hoseok says with a shrug and earns himself a look of disgust from his blond friend.

"Jiminie, tell everyone who's hotter here," Hoseok turns to Jimin with his eyes twinkling. Jimin jumps at the sudden attention and procedes to look back and forth between the two men before blushing furiously and staring at his own two feet instead.

"Obviously, Jimin can't lie and say you're the hotter one," Namjoon says while cackling and rolls over when Hoseok threatens to step on his groin.

"Kim Namjoon, what are you still doing on the floor. Get up," Seokjin commends as he enters the living room with his hands towel-dried. "How the hell do you guys manage to mess up the apartment this badly. You assholes are cleaning up before you go."

"Fine, fine," Hoseok mumbles as he checks the time on his phone. "Oh shit, Yoongi, we better get going. Kookie's radio is in like two hours."

"You two aren't going anywhere before you clean that shit up," Seokjin growls, pointing at the heap of wrappers and empty cans littered across his otherwise pristine coffee table. The two men whine but do as they're told before they rush out the apartment.

"Did Seokjin drag you here to do something?" Namjoon asks Taekwoon once his two friends are out of the building.

"We just wanted to discuss a couple of items to add to the menu, and he wanted me to try some stuff he made."

"Oh, that's cool. Have fun. I'm just gonna finish up in the studio. You're coming to our gig, right?"

Taekwoon nods.

"Cool. Hey, maybe you should bring that special lady over. I promise we won't make too much fun of you," the rapper finishes with a playful punch to the tall man's shoulder before retreating to his work room. Jimin stands around nervously and takes a peek at Taekwoon.

"I understand if you're uncomfortable," Taekwoon begins quietly. Jimin shakes his head vigorously.

"It's not that...I uh...can I talk to you before you leave?"

"Of course," Taekwoon smiles softly before putting a gentle hand on Jimin's head and then making his way towards the kitchen where Seokjin's waiting for him.

A couple of hours later, Taekwoon re-emerges from the kitchen, with what looks to be a very excited Seokjin in tow. After thanking Taekwoon for his hard work, he lets Jimin walk Taekwoon out of the apartment.

"What did you want to talk about?" Taekwoon asks as soon as fresh outside air hits them both.

"I wanted to first say thank you...for telling me."

Taekwoon nods slowly and waits patiently for the teen to continue.

"And I guess I kind of owe it to you? No, that doesn't sound right...I just wanted to tell you that...I'm the same."

"Same?"

"I...I'm pretty sure I'm gay too."

Jimin holds his breath as he watches Taekwoon watching him. He doesn't know why he's nervous. It's not like anything can go wrong by coming out to someone who's also gay.

"You're....gay?" Taekwoon's voice is a tad deeper than his usual high register.

Jimin nods and continues to hold his breath as he watches Taekwoon's expression switch from that of contemplation to something deeper. Then, Jimin doesn't think he can breathe when he sees Taekwoon break out into the most genuine and stunning smile he has ever seen the older man wear.

"I guess now I have zero reason to give up," Taekwoon says cryptically before letting his long legs carry him away from the apartment.

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

"Are you OK?"

Jungkook jumps at the sound of Jimin's soft voice coming from besides him. It had become a bit of a pattern for them to spend Monday afternoon together, and this Monday, Jungkook's back at the Kim residence. He finds it extrememly difficult to focus on anything ever since that phonecall with Jackson, and he's not even sure why. He doesn't know why he's even this bothered. The entertainment industry had always been notorious for publishing news of fake relationships to cover things up, so why?

He knows GOT7 will eventually get over it. Sure, their sales will take a hit, but it won't be lasting (usually). GOT7 will continue to perform and gather new fans, and Jaebum will learn to get used to the fake dating until the company deems it necessary to "break it off" when the time is right. It's not like this should come as a surprise to all the members either. So why can't he get it out of his head?

"Is something bothering you?" Jimin asks, to which Jungkook shakes his head weakly and makes up an excuse about not getting enough sleep.

"You can sleep in my room for a while, if you'd like."

"No, I'll be fine," Jungkook says and then sort of regrets it, because it sounded like the perfect opportunity for him to finally see Jimin's room. Not to be creepy of course. He's just curious if Jimin has posters of him on his walls. Obviously.

"Well...if you change your mind..."

"Don't worry. Hey, so, have you given joining Hakyeon's crew a thought?" Jungkook quickly changes the subject before he gives in and decides to explore Jimin's room like a creep. Hakyeon had been badgering him to ask if the teen's joining or not, because they really need to start training for the upcoming album.

"Oh...I...I'm not sure. I don't think I can-"

"Not asking if you think you can. Do you want to? Because I think it'd be nice to have you on stage with me," Jungkook stops the teen from delving into another session of self-confidence issue. He's still puzzled that Jimin can't seem to see his own talent. Jimin has to be blind if he thinks that he doesn't deserve a spot in Hakyeon's team.

"But school-"

"Don't worry about that. Hakyeon has a few other high school students under his wings, so he usually keeps all the training in the evening anyway. By the time you're finished with high school, you'll be ready to dance with everyone else full-time. If you're up for it, that is."

Jimin seems to be comtemplating his options, so Jungkook lets the boy be.

"Oh, the diner..." Jimin mumbles to himself, remembering that he simply doesn't have any free time.

"Can you at least talk to Seokjin hyung about it? Maybe that'll help."

"Maybe..."

"Promise me that you'll at least talk to them?" Jungkook asks, putting his pinky up with a toothy grin. Jimin blushes, then entwines his own with the singer's. "That's a promise. Now, do you wanna maybe go out somewhere else and chill?"

"Oh. I'd really love to but...I promised to hang out with Taekwoon today," Jimin declines apologetically, remembering that he was supposed to spend some time with the older man. Ever since mutually coming out, they've bonded over it and grew to be more open to each other. Jimin would rarely and shyly ask questions about what it's like to be gay, and Taekwoon would answer them to the best of his abilities, and sometimes, Taekwoon would open up to him about his past. For Jimin, it was nice to have someone other than Seokjin and Namjoon (because that was just embarrassing) to confide in and be understood by.

"Taekwoon? As in the same Taekwoon you work with at the diner? Everyday?"

"Um, yeah, that Taekwoon," Jimin answers almost unsurely, wondering if he's imagining the tinge of frustration in the singer's voice.

"I see...when?"

"In about..." Jimin pulls his phone out to check for time. "an hour ish."

"Hn. You guys doing anything fun?"

"He said he got us tickets to some play. We're going to watch that and maybe just talk for a bit."

Jungkook clenches his teeth. Now that was something he wasn't allowed to do. He's never allowed to go watch a play or a movie with anyone (especially female) in fear of not only gossip but because it's hard to keep the singer safe when a crowd of overly excited fans go after him. He imagines Taekwoon and Jimin watching a play together, seated in the small theater next to each other, laughing and whispering comments, and he's suddenly overcome with what he can only describe as....rage.

Yet, he keeps it down. He keeps it locked down and hidden behind a smile, because one, he has no reason to be angry, and two, it's not fair for Jimin if he does decide to just let the anger take over.

"That sounds fun," Jungkook says instead, and he hopes that the grin he's wearing is convincing. "Do you like plays?"

"Never been. First time but I think I'll probably like it," Jimin answers with a bright smile that Jungkook finds almost blinding. He wishes he was the one responsible for Jimin's good mood, but of course, it has to be Taekwoon...

 

 

-

 

 


"That was so fun!"

Taekwoon smiles softly when Jimin bounces next to him in excitement as they leave the theater. It was a small production, but undoubtedly well-written, with a sense of humor that even had Taekwoon laughing out loud. Taekwoon soon finds Jimin's giggling and open-mouthed laughter to be both adorable and mesmerizing. He's drawn to the way Jimin's eyes disappear into to crescents with every laughter, and he's quickly realizing that perhaps he's fallen for Jimin a lot harder than he had originally anticipated.

"You liked it?"

"Yeah! It was hilarious," Jimin says and then lets out another giggle.

"We should do it more often," Taekwoon comments, already creating a list in his head of all the ones they can watch together.

"Really?"

"Yeah. If you'd like."

Jimin flashes him another smile, and that's all Taekwoon needs. "Are you hungry?" The older man asks. They grabbed a quick meal before starting the play, but Jimin was a growing boy and undoubtedly needs constant intake of food.

"Umm...maybe just a little bit?" Jimin answers honestly, putting a hand onto his stomach. "We can grab pizza. My treat!"

"Today, it's all on me."

"That's not fair. You got the tickets!"

"I got them for free," Taekwoon lies, knowing that it's the best way to have Jimin listen to him. "And hyungs are supposed to pay, aren't they?"

"But..."

"What would you like?" Taekwoon asks quickly before Jimin can protest further. He doesn't miss the pout but pretends to not have seen it. "Or did you really want pizza?"

"I don't mind..."

"Pizza sounds good. I know a place a few blocks down that's pretty good."

Taekwoon is right about the pizza being good. The line is surprisingly long, given that it's nearing 10pm, but the two wait patiently while discussing the play. Taekwoon's quite surprised at the way Jimin speaks animatedly besides him, because Jimin had been somewhat reserved until now. He doesn't mind it though. In fact, he's glad that the teen's opening up to him more.

Once they're finished, Taekwoon insists on taking Jimin home again. Jimin lets the taller man be, because he's come to realize that Taekwoon is actually a lot more stubborn than he looks.

"Can I ask you something?" Jimin begins as soon as they leave the subway station and start walking towards the apartment.

"Yeah."

"You said you...ran away from home, right? Why?"

Taekwoon continues to walk in silence for a few steps before opening his mouth. "My father wasn't the nicest man. The day I came out to him, he beat me with his golf club. Broke my arm that day."

Jimin winces as the words hit him. He can almost hear his own father's angry voice screaming at him.

"It didn't stop. Mother couldn't do anything and I don't blame her. It just got worse and worse until my mother was sure I was going to be murdered. One day, he came home drunk and came into my room with the same golf club. She yelled at me to run, and so I did."

Jimin looks up with tears welling in his eyes and wonders just how Taekwoon can say those things without breaking down. He still wakes up every morning and checks the mirror to see if he has any new bruises to cover up. He still has nightmares about the abuse and the accident that keep him up all night.

"What happened afterwards?"

"It was exactly four days following my 18th birthday. My mother found me. Well, she had the police find me for her. My father had passed away from cancer a couple of months prior..." Taekwoon stops for a moment with an anguished look in his eyes. "She had wanted to find me to see father for the last time. To reconcile or whatever it was she needed."

Jimin swallows visibly.

"I thought I'd be happy knowing he's gone...but...I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I kept thinking, maybe if I had at least asked why he did all those things...If I had ever gotten some kind of an answer, maybe things would be different...."

"I...I know what you mean," Jimin begins carefully, and as soon as the words leave his mouth, it's as if a dam has broken. There's hot tears running down his face, and he can't seem to stop any of it. Taekwoon stops and wraps a comforting arm around him without a word, and it somehow makes Jimin want to cry harder.

Jimin knows he must look horrible. His entire face feels swollen and raw as they take the empty swings in the playground in front of the apartment. Jimin swings slowly back and forth, waiting patiently for his hiccups to die down.

"My father hated me...beat me all the time because I couldn't bring enough money for him. All I wanted was to get away but...then he died, just like that. In a car accident of all things. And I...I wish I knew why he hated me so much. Why he said all those things or did all those things to me. I even thought that...when I become an adult, I can somehow put him behind bars...but..I never got any of those things," Jimin starts again slowly, remembering moments from the accident and flinching at the memory. "He died without any explanation or an apology or...anything."

Jimin looks up when he feels Taekwoon's gentle hand on his head.

"I've come to realize that...an explanation or an apology wouldn't have made a difference," Taekwoon says sagely. "What he did was wrong. What my father did to me doesn't deserve an explanation or an apology. All I can do now is to find a place for myself that makes me feel safe. Loved. Happy..."

"You really think so?"

"Yeah. For a whole year after seeing my mother again, I couldn't sleep, because I felt as if I will never find the answer that I needed. But I learned to not dwell on it. To not let it control me even after his death."

Jimin continues to swing back and forth slowly, the toes of his shoes embedded in the sand beneath him.

"How are you with your mother?"

"Still trying to get used to each other. We've all changed so much during the years we lost contact."

"Do you...hate her?"

"At one point, maybe I did. But not anymore. Not since I realized she was just as miserable as I was. But she's happy now. Finally found a man who makes her happy."

"Hoseok's dad?"

"Yeah. He's a good man. Just like his son. To tell you the truth, I didn't know much about Hoseok up til now. I wasn't ready to welcome anyone into what I could hardly call a family, and he himself was too busy, so that was fine. But now I'm seeing more of him...I keep thinking that maybe everything's going to be alright."

"That's....I'm not sure what to say...Can I ask you about the son you fell in love with? Do you know where he is now?"

Taekwoon looks to be deep in thought for a moment. "No idea. To be honest, haven't thought about him much since..." he falters, suddenly looking abashed.

Jimin waits patiently for the older man to continue, suddenly curious about the sudden change in his expression.

"Nothing," Taekwoon says curtly before getting off the swing. "You should head back in before they get worried."

Jimin gets up with a confused frown, feeling just a little bit disappointed.

 

 


-

 

 


Jimin is perhaps a bit too excited for the three rappers' performance. Taehyung decides that going to Hongdae warrants getting "dolled up" and spends half the way dragging Jimin around for a new outfit that's more "underground scene friendly." About an hour later, Jimin finds himself at the venue, helping hyungs set everything up and do a last minute audio check.

"Wow, look at you!" Hoseok bellows as he hops towards Jimin. "You look so nice!" He procedes to pinch the teen's cheeks. "Maybe you'll find yourself a date tonight!""

Taehyung barks out a laugh next to him.

"Jung fucking Hoseok, get to work," Yoongi hisses from across the stage. The still blond man and Jimin make eye contact, but Yoongi quickly looks away, dampening Jimin's otherwise quite chirpy mood.

"Don't mind him. I'm sure it's just pre-performance jitters," Namjoon says softly when he sees Jimin's expression. The teen nods and then makes his way towards Seokjin and Taekwoon, who are talking to each other while pointing at the stage.

"30 minutes left," Seokjin muses as he sees the smaller man approaching him. "Are you excited, Jimin?"

"Yeah," Jimin answers sheepishly. The rest of them wait around and help around with the three rappers when needed. Taehyung is all over the place, tripping over wires and knocking things down, and eventually, Yoongi blows up and has the teen confined to a corner of the venue, away from everyone and everything else.

The venue quickly fills up with people. It's clear that many of them are excited to see the three rappers on stage again, and a few of them are newcomers to the whole hip hop scene. There are also a number of people who had heard about the three from their work with Jungkook, but whatever their reasons are, Jimin is swelling with pride. He finds it amazing that so many people would turn up to watch Namjoon hyung and the other two perform their own music on stage.

Jimin watches the performance sandwiched between Taekwoon and Taehyung. Taehyung is quick to get in the mood and starts shouting and rapping with the three, throwing his hands up and bouncing in his place. Taekwoon watches the performance with a look of concentration, while Seokjin watches with an undeniable twinkle of pride in his eyes. It takes Jimin a while for him to ease into the atmosphere and let himself go enough to enjoy cheering just as loudly as Taehyung.

Namjoon looks amazing as he raps into the mic, Yoongi looks absolutely badass, and Jimin surprised that Hoseok can look so...intimidating? The three perform as if they've been doing it all their lives, and it makes Jimin wonder if he'd be able to dance in front of such a crowd one day.

Jimin nearly jumps out of his skin when he feels a hand grab his wrist and then turns around to find a suspicious man standing with a snapback and a black masking covering what seems to be his entire face. For a fleeting second, Jimin wonders if he should run for it or scream. Would anyone hear him scream? Would he be able to run away in this sea of people. So instead he grabs Taekwoon with the other hand with a panicked expression, and in a blink of an eye, Taekwoon detects the distress and is ripping the stranger's hand off of the teen. Taekwoon looks almost menacing in the way he has the other man's wrist held at a painful angle.

Jimin watches in horror as the stranger tears the mask off of his face to reveal that he's Jungkook.

"Oh god! I'm so sorry!" Jimin apologizes as Taekwoon lets go with a frown. Jungkook gives the taller man a scathing look before turning back to Jimin, who's still standing with his mouth open and his hands hanging midair.

"I texted you, but I guess you didn't get to see it."

"You...uh you're here..."

"Yeah, wanted to show my support for my manager and stylist, but I had to talk to the producer before heading here so I'm a bit late. You look different."

"Oh...is it weird?" Jimin asks self-consciously.

"Not at all. You look good."

"Oh what the hell? When did you get here?" Taehyung asks, finally noticing the singer.

"Just now."

Taehyung nods before focusing his attention back to the stage and continuing to bounce to the beats. Jungkook stands behind Jimin and watch his stylist and manager hop around the stage and rap. He's seen them practice a couple of times, but this...He had always suspected Yoongi of being a rapper, because he's always dressed in hiphop clothes and listening to rap music, but Hoseok? Hoseok was supposed to be the happy-go-like guy that just likes cute things and dancing to girl groups. Hoseok's wearing eyeliner (which he guesses is Yoongi's handiwork), and has his hair styled in a way that makes him appear a lot more mysterious and badass. His voice is low and scratchy, almost angry in the way it leaves his mouth,

"Shit..." Jungkook lets out dumbly and is glad that no one can her him. He then glances at Jimin, who looks equally mesmerizied and wonders if Jimin ever watches his performance with the same level of awe and admiration.

The show eventually comes to an end, and it's easy to see that the crowd is captivated by the three with the way they roar and cheer. The three thank everyone for coming, and soon, the venue empties as still excited people leave while talking about the performance.

"OK, now I really don't know why you're my stylist and manager," Jungkook muses as both Yoongi and Hoseok approach him. "Shit, like I appreciate what you guys do for me, and yeah I'll say it, you guys are the best I can possibly have but...you two should just be on stage all the time, you know?"

Hoseok flashes Jungkook his usual grin before pinching his cheek.

"Thanks for coming, Kookie!"

"Thanks man," Yoongi adds gruffly, dabbing at the sweat covering his face. "Where's Joon?" All three of them look around and then find Namjoon on the other side of the room. Seokjin has his arms wrapped tightly around the other man, his face buried in the crook of his neck. Namjoon has one arm wrapped around Seokjin's waist, the other hand drawing soothing patterns on his back. Seokjin looks to be in tears, his shoulders shaky as he holds onto Namjoon as if his life depends on it.

"Damn it those two," Yoongi grumbles as Hoseok rolls his eyes, because it's so like Seokjin to get all emotional about Namjoon getting back on stage. They however, become a bit apprehensive when they realize Jungkook is watching the interaction with a confused frown.

"Are they...?" Jungkook falters, still eyeing the two men. He knows a bro hug when he sees one, and that is not one. Jackson is the touchiest person he knows and has a tendency to cling onto him (especially when drunk) and even kiss him on the cheek from time to time, but he could always tell it was friendly. However, the way Namjoon's holding the other man so tightly...

"Hey uh, so you up for the afterparty? Which is just all of us hanging out for a drink at this place we used to all go to," Hoseok begins in his attempt to distract the singer away fromm the couple currently in their own world.

"I'd love to go but..."

"We rented the place out so you don't have to worry too much about people filming you. Plus, you'll meet some of the other people we worked with in the past. That's always fun, right?"

"Can we come?" Taehyung asks, popping out of nowhere behind Hoseok and Yoongi.

"Sorry, Tae, underaged people aren't allowed," Hoseok replies apologetically, patting the teen on the head.

"What! Why?"

"Because it's the law."

"This sucks!"

"Yeah well, life is unfair," Yoongi mumbles and then looks away when he sees Jimin and Taekwoon approaching them as well. He knows it's not fair that he gives the kid the silent treatment slash cold shoulders, but he can't seem to bring himself to just talk to the boy without panicking about how they were supposed to have spoken to each other before.

"Does that mean Jimin and I have to go back home?" Taehyung whines, dragging Jimin next to him. "Jiminie, they're trying to go to the after party without us!"

"Yup," Hoseok says with a shrug.

"I'll take them back home," Taekwoon volunteers as Taehyung continues to complain to himself next to him. Jimin seems more glad that they will be going home instead of going to the afterparty, and Taekwoon gets it. He himself isn't fond of being in crowds or surrounding himself with loud, drunk people.

"Hey guys," Namjoon calls out as he approaches them, with still sniffling Seokjin following closely behind. Taekwoon glances at the two with raised eyebrows but doesn't comment on it. "So uh what's going on?"

"We're going to the afterparty and Taekwoon is going to take the two kiddies back home," Hoseok explains and then throws a quick warning look Seokjin's way. Seokjin looks away hiccuping and then glances warily at Jungkook and Taekwoon.

"Sounds like a plan," Namjoon says and taps Taekwoon on the shoulder. "Thanks man."

"We can get home just fine on our own, Woon hyung should go and have fun," Taehyung chirps, earning a sharp look from his brother.

"You want me to trust you alone with Jimin in Hongdae? But Taekwoon, are you sure about this?"

"I'm sure," Taekwoon replies and then places a gentle hand on Jimin's head.

"You know what?" Jungkook begins with a dramatic yawn. "I think I'll just follow you guys home and crash there for a bit. Think I'm too tired for a party."

Everyone else turn to face him, and he can read the different expressions on everyone's faces. Seokjin and Namjoon just look confused, Jimin seems surprised, Taehyung is grinning at him, Yoongi is frowning, and Hoseok looks to be deep in thought. Then there's Taekwoon, who's watching him with the same annoying pokerfaced eyes that somehow continuously gets on his nerves.

"Why the fuck would you go to their house to crash?" Yoongi asks with a scowl.

"I like the place better and I'm bored all alone back at the apartment," Jungkook answers casually, doing his best to avoid eye contact with the blond stylist without being too obvious about it.

"Yeah he should come and we can have our own after party," Taehyung chirps, putting his arms around the singer like a koala and flashing his boxy grin. Yoongi opens his mouth to say something but decides against it.

"Oh hey, how come you didn't bring your special lady?" Namjoon asks, suddenly remembering the tall man's crush. Taekwoon seems to mull over the words before answering "I did" and then procedeing to lead Jimin and Taehyung out the venue. The four grown men standing around glance at each other and shrug simultaneously, while Jungkook grits his teeth and follow them after telling the other he'll see them later.

"Is it just me or...?" Hoseok begins unsurely, draping the towel he's been holding across his shoulders.

"No, I don't think it's just you," Seokjin mutters with a frown. There is definitely something going on and he's already not a big fan of it. He doesn't know exactly what it is, but he knows he's going to be bothered by it until he figures it out.

"Whatever, come on, let's go. Everyone else is waiting," Yoongi huffs, and it's enough to have the others forget about the issue for the time being.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jungkook and Taekwoon eventually give in to Taehyung's plea to binge on junk food when the hyungs are away and find themselves at the Kim residence with a coffee table covered in enough chips, cookies and chocolate to make Jungkook cringe. He can't fathom why anyone would put that much carbs into one's body at any given point, because the company would kill him if they saw this. However, both Jimin and Taehyung find no difficulty clearing the snacks one by one, and it gets to the point where Taehyung is mixing everything in a blender just to see if it'd taste better.

Taekwoon watches (babysits) quietly, as Jimin timidly offers both adults things from the coffee table. Jungkook does not like the way Taekwoon keeps patting Jimin like some kind of a pet dog. He watches the interaction between the two men and then try to see if Taekwoon behaves the same way towards Taehyung. Less than an hour in, Jungkook starts to see a patten. Taekwoon doesn't lay a finger on the louder teen but is always watching Jimin, looking out for him, and doesn't hesitate to make "friendly" physical contact with the quiet teen.

There's no denying it. Jungkook's not even going to bother asking the question "Is Taekwoon gay?" because clearly, the taller man is in deep for Jimin. He'd have to be blind not to see it, and unfortunately for him, his vision is all too clear. What bothers him more is that Jimin seems a lot more comfortable with Taekwoon than with him. Jungkook wants to think that it's because the cook spends so much time around the teen, but it doesn't make him feel any better.

The two boys eventually goes into food-induced coma, and before Jungkook can even get off the couch, Taekwoon is already picking Jimin off the floor bridal style, his hand gently cradling the teen's head. Jungkook grits his teeth for the upteeth time that day and then silently takes Taehyung into the room.

The two adults return to the living after dumping the teens onto Jimin's bed and begin cleaning up in silence. Well, Jungkook had no intention of doing so, but Taekwoon did, and somehow he felt the need to as well. The silence stretches on for some time, until Jungkook snaps and abruptly stands upright. Always remain you calm, his company had told him. Never get angry at anyone outside the company. Always smile, always be polite and avoid any confrontation, because it always has a way of starting a PR nightmare. Yet, Jungkook thinks getting this done and over with is probably a lot better than losing hours of sleep down the road.

"Do you have feelings for Jimin or something?" Jungkook blurts out with a scowl just as Taekwoon is picking up the last of the empty cans from the floor. Taekwoon gets up slowly, his eyes surprisingly calm given the question. The singer had been expecting an angry ourburst or denial, but no, none of that.

"I don't believe I have to tell you anything," Taekwoon answers monotnously before heading into the kitchen to throw everything into the bin. Jungkook clenches his fist and then rushes after him.

"You do, don't you. Does he know?"

Taekwoon turns around slowly, his eyes narrowed and shoulder tense, like a feral animal getting ready to attack with teeth beared. Jungkook would be lying if he says that he's not intimidated by the other man. Taekwoon has a few good inches on him and has a build that can definitely be dangerous when provoked.

"What about you? Does he know?" Taekwoon asks instead, taking a step forward.

"Does he know what?" Jungkook asks flatly, remaining still in his place. He does not like the scrutinizing glint in the other man's eyes.

"The way you feel about him."

"We're friends," the singer answers lowly, anger slowly bubbling inside his gut. How dare Taekwoon. How dare he turn it around and attack him instead.

"Then so are we."

"Bullshit. Anyone can see your feelings towards him isn't exactly platonic," Jungkook counters cynically, watching a corner of Taekwoon's lips curve almost undetectably slightly upward.

"You would know, wouldn't you." Taekwoon looks more amused than angry now. His shoulders are wide and his stance strong, his eyes looking down at him and taunting him.

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"Why don't you figure that out on your own," Taekwoon hisses lowly before pushing past the singer. Jungkook watches the figure retreat, and he surprises himself with the gutteral growl that emerges from the base of his throat. He sprints after the taller man and wraps his angry fingers tightly around the other's wrist. Taekwoon whirls around with a scowl and pulls roughly free.

"Don't take your denial out on me," Taekwoon hisses. "Touch me one more fucking time and see what happens." And with that, the taller man is leaving the apartment, and Jungkook can't will his legs to move.

 


-

 

 

Jungkook is not a happy man.

Which isn't saying much, considering he's oftentimes displeased with sub-par performances or particularly scathing remarks by members of the online community. Overall, his quality of life isn't all that great to start with, since he has to wrestle between getting no sleep and dancing till he's ready to puke, but right now, he's dealing with something far worse.

He's having an existential crisis, and not the ones he's been having his entire career. This isn't about his upcoming album or his identity as an artist. Nope, this is significantly more disasterous, and he has fucking Jung Taekwoon to blame for it.

Originally, he wasn't going to give whatever that man said much thought or power. Afterall, he figured Taekwoon was just being a dick because he was shocked that he's been found out. However, Jungkook found it impossible to brush off the other man's accusation, and he's spent the last few days just mulling over the probability of the words being perhaps more than just empty ones.

And the whole Jaebum situation isn't helping too much, because being gay has become a reality for the singer now. If Jaebum is gay, what guarantee is that he himself isn't? Jaebum's not at all feminine. In fact, he's the most masculine of the group. He's a powerful dancer and a singer who likes to work out and make fun of people. Basically, Jaebum is the Jungkook of GOT7 and he turned out to be full-blown gay.

The most frustrating part of the crisis is that Jungkook can't seem to wholeheartedly deny the fact that his feelings towards Jimin isn't the standard one shared between a singer and a fan. Jungkook has continously made efforts to see Jimin without knowing it. Jimin smiling made him feel good, and Jimin spending time with Taekwoon pissed him off each and every time. Logically, he knows this is what being attracted to someone looks like. He's not going to accuse Taekwoon of the same thing and then put him under a different standard of scrutiny just to put his mind at ease.

Jungkook claws at his own scalp, because what the actual fuck. Is he gay? He finds women beautiful. He likes being with women, but he can't remember a single instance in which he felt a strong attraction towards them. He sort of dated one before his debut. She was the most popular girl at his school, and when she asked him out, he had said yes, beause why not? She was pretty. People loved her and envied her. So it seemed natural that he, being the most popular guy at school, would date the female counterpart.

Then he became a trainee, and his life was turned upside down, leaving him zero time to spare a glance at members of the opposite gender. He was a hit from debut and basically brainwashed by the company to never ever date during their contract, because they've invested way too much money for that shit. And then Jimin happened. Jimin caught his attention the first day they met at the fan sign. Then fate continued to bring them together in the oddest of situations, and soon enough, they are chilling under the same roof.

Jungkook doesn't believe in superstition or that mushy bullshit, but he would be a fool to think that there isn't some kind of high power bringing them together. Maybe it didn't start off as attraction. It started off as curiosity, and then yeah, he'll say it, maybe obsession. But now, it's neither of the two. It's something so much more powerful and longing.

So what if he is gay? What then? He can't even date a girl, what hope does he have of dating a man. He's seen what happened to Jaebum, and Jaebum got off the hook easily, because JYP is the most liberal agency in Korea. His company? Not so forgiving. And if Taekwoon's right about him wanting to to date Jimin, that's a shitstorm in itself already, because who ever said Jimin's gay? Jimin's a high school student who's probably pining after the cutest girl in class. That's what normal people do, right?

So basically, he's getting nothing out of this existentical crisis, so he needs to get his ass back to the studio and just dance until he can't think anymore. Jung Fucking Taekwoon.

 


-

 

Jimin does as he promised and talks to Seokjin and Namjoon about possibly pursuing a career in dancing. Jimin, who had been nervous that Seokjin may think of him as an ungrateful bastard for wanting to take time out of the diner, is surprised when Seokjin pulls him into a tight hug and tells him that he's very proud of Jimin finally making a decision for his own future. Namjoon cheers the teen on as well and tells him not to worry about the diner, because they have never expected him to remain at the diner for the rest of his life.

Seokjin also tells him that he's been meaning to find a replacement to give Jimin more time to study anyway so it's no bother. Jimin texts Jungkook the good news, and less than an hour later, the singer is telling him that they should get practicing for the "audition" to join Hakyeon's crew. Jimin takes up on the offer after much contemplation, and less than a week later, he finds himself back at Jungkook's studio, standing side by side next to the singer.

"Hakyeon clearly loves you, but the rest of the crew will watch you perform and it helps to impress them and earn their respect," Jungkook explains as he helps Jimin stretch. "We should come up with a diversified choreography that can showcase different types of dance."

Jimin nods as he lets the singer pull his legs further apart.

The two pick their first song and try out different moves. Jimin starts off nervously but quickly falls into a comfortable pattern of twisting and turning and even twerking as he lets the music take over his body. The two aren't afraid to be honest with their thoughts on each other's dances, and Jungkook's pleasantly surprised by the fire in the teen's eyes.

They dance and dance, perfecting each move and putting them into memory. Nearly three hours later, both men are panting on the floor, drenched in sweat.

"Thank you...for helping me out," Jimin says shyly, still breathing heavily. Jungkook rolls over and props himself up on his elbows and watches the way the teen's eyes smile at him.

Logically, he knows that it's a terrible idea to spend time with Jimin, considering the events involving one Jung Taekwoon. Their interaction is especially ill advised, since Jungkook has yet to figure out exactly how he feels about the teen and having another existential crisis is not on his list of things to do with a new album coming up.

Yet, as he watches the way Jimin's nose crinkles or the way the smaller man dabs at the sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand, Jungkook can't help but think that perhaps it's not the end of the world to be attracted to Jimin. He didn't have a choice. He was drawn to the boy's passionate dancing, kind smile and innocent eyes that make him feel calm at heart. He's not to blame. No one is. He never had a chance to start with, and it's not his fault that he wants to just continue to watch Jimin.

"Is something on my face?"

Jungkook's been conditioned to define beauty as a face full of makeup. Red listick, expensive eyeshadow, lash extensions, dyed hair and a stylish outfit. Yet, he can't help but think that Jimin looks beautiful with his face flush red and sweaty, void of any makeup and dressed in nothing but a plain white tee and a pair of black shorts.

He should be worried. He should be scared that he has such feelings for another man, and a teenage fan at that too. He should tear himself away and never contact Jimin again, but why is it that he feels at ease? He wants so badly to reach out and hold Jimin's hand and feel the teen's warmth against his fingertips. So he does. He reaches out and takes the smaller hand into his. Jimin doesn't draw back. He only watches him curiously.

"It's for good luck," Jungkook lies as he gives Jimin's hand a squeeze. Jimin's eyes shine a tad bit brighter. "I used to sleep here a lot. When I was a trainee," he continues, needing a distraction from how perfect Jimin's hand feels in his own.

"How come?"

"Sometimes I'd lose track of time and practice till it's well past midnight. I would be the only one around and I'd be scared of leaving the building. So I just slept in that corner over there with the lights on," Jungkook continues, remembering being the small, scared kid who believed in the ghost stories his seniors would tell him.

"I can't imagine you scared of anything," Jimin muses, because Jungkook always looks so confident and powerful.

"I'm scared of a lot of things." The singer lets out a small sigh.

"....Like what?"

"Sometimes, as an idol, I feel like it's our job to be scared." There is a pause as Jimin waits for the other to continue. "I'm scared of losing fame. Losing fans. Being forgotten. Paparazzis. Saying the wrong thing in front of the camera..." Jungkook's voice is almost scratchy now, and Jimin can read the raw emotion behind the words. "I'm scared because I know the ending is coming so soon."

"I don't think it'd be so soon."

"New idols happen. Old ones get forgotten. I know it's going to happen, but...sometimes, I can't help but worry about what I can possibly do when I basically retire at the age of...I dunno, 25? 26?"

"I can see you on stage even when you're 30. Maybe they won't call you an idol so much but..." Jimin starts hesitantly, not liking the dejected look on the other's face. "People won't be too quick to forget you," he finishes honestly.

"Well, I'm thinking of writing my own music. I don't know much about it, and it's going to take me some time to learn how, but, it'd be nice to create something I can be proud of even after I stop performing." Jungkook doesn't think he's ever told anyone this. Right now, an idol is all he is. He sings and dances to everyone else's work, and he wants something more than that.

"That sounds...wonderful."

"I guess I have to just try hard and wish for the best right?" Jungkook says with a weak grin. This time, Jimin gives his hand a reassuring squeeze.

"Any other fears?"

"I know you're going to laugh at me, but. I'm scared shitless of bugs. Especially ones that fly"

Jimin laughs, and his eyes disappear into crescents again.

"I think I remember seeing a video of you running away from a fly or a bee during an interview."

"Oh God, you saw that huh. OK that one, I was more surprised than scared," Jungkook answers with a roll of his eyes.

"I used to have a gif of that saved on my old phone," Jimin says with a giggle, which gets louder once Jungkook gives him a pointed look.

"Any picture of me without a shirt on in that phone?" the singer asks in a teasing voice, wiggling his eyebrows.

"Maybe one or two. But only because you're my ab role model," Jimin replies shyly, his face suddenly turning red. Jungkook finds it fascinating that the teen's expression can switch so quickly.

"Am I now. How is that coming along?"

"Not even close," Jimin lets out with a sigh. He knows for a fact that he'd never look as good as Jungkook, who has broad shoulders, lean waist, perfect set of abs and thighs that make girls cry. He himself is a tiny little thing, and he wonders if there's any chance of him growing any taller or getting any more masculine.

"Well, I think that if you join Hakyeon's crew, you're probably going to have a nice set of abs by the end of the year."

"You think so?"

"Yup. I'll be checking, so you better get going on it."

"You're going to check my abs?" Jimin asks with a laugh, rolling on the floor so that he himself is propper on his elbows.

"Definitely. I have high expectations. I might take a picture of it and save it on my phone. It only seems fair that way," Jungkook replies with a toothy grin, which has Jimin giggling again. "Hey I was thinking," he starts once the laughter dies down.

"Hmm?"

"How come you never call me hyung? Actually, I don't remember you even calling me by my name. I've heard you say Jungkook-ssi a couple of times, but you call everyone else hyung."

Jimin seems to be deep in thought.

"I can call you hyung?" the teen asks softly, as if he's afraid that he's asked the wrong question.

"If you're OK with it."

"OK, hyung. Hyung sounds nice," Jimin says with a soft, bashful smile.

Jungkook hates to admit it, but there's no longer denying it anymore. That bastard Taekwoon had been right all along.

 

 

-

 


"Who's the lucky lady?"

Jungkook lowers the sheet of lyrics he's holding and raises his eyebrow at his vocal trainer Jaehwan, who is watching him intently with a knowing grin on his face.

"Sorry?"

"I've been teaching you since you were this big," Jaehwan continues, putting his hand up next to his chest, and then lowers it to his waist with a tilt of his head.

"OK, I wasn't that small. I was already in high school," Jungkook replies with a roll of his eyes. Jaehwan always treats him like a baby and teases him, but it's not his fault that his vocal trainer just happens to be freakishly tall.

"Whatever. That's not important. So who is it?" the older man asks, leaning forward against the piano, his fingers tapping the instrument impatiently.

"Who are you talking about?"

"The special lady. The person you're seeing."

"Huh?"

"Don't play dumb with me. Remember how I always used to yell at you for not carrying enough emotions through your singing? Well...your singing has changed. A lot. And I can tell you're not faking any of it. Now, I know that a number of things can make that happen, but from experience, I know that there's nothing like romance to guarantee such a quick improvement."

Jungkook drops his gaze and stares at the sheet of music in front of him.

"Hey, I'm not going to pry it out of you. Just wanna say...whoever she is, you should hold on to her. It's rare for artists to find that special someone that can bring out so much emotions."

"You think so?"

"I know so."

"Can I...Can I talk to you about something private?" Jungkook asks as he plops onto the stool behind him. Jaehwan is one of the very few people he can confide in. The man has seen him at his worst. He's seen the idol cry like a baby when practice didn't go right or when he wanted to quit being a trainee. Jaehwan had listened to all his fears and problems and never spoke of it to anyone else.

"Of course you can."

"I...I have feelings for...someone I shouldn't."

Jaehwan looks to be deep in thought.

"I for one do not believe in such a thing. Unless it's someone married. Don't be a homewrecker, Jungkook."

"It's not that. Actually, it might be worse. Anyway, the point is...I have all these feelings for someone and I don't know how to stop it."

"As your vocal trainer, I want to say that you should pour all that angst out onto your songs, but between you and me, from one guy to another...why would you stop?"

"Because....I know it won't go anywhere," the singer replies honestly. He would have to be a fool to think that anything tangible can blossom between he and Jimin. Jimin likes him as a fan would their idol. But like all fans, Jimin will one day lose interest and find someone else to keep him entertained. Jungkook will become forgotten like all the other idols, and he'd be stuck with just memories of Jimin. He really, really hates being sappy and dramatic, but he can't seem to make himself stop.

"You endured all those years as a trainee without knowing if you were ever going to debut. That didn't stop you," Jaehwan replies slowly after a brief moment of silence.

"It's not the same."

"It's exactly the same. Love is all about taking that leap of faith blindly. No one falls for someone knowing it'll be happily ever after," Jaehwan counters sagely and then stops to watch the singer. "Jungkook...tell me if I'm wrong but...the person you have feelings for...is it a guy?"

Jungkook's entire body goes rigid. He tries to remember their conversation to see if he had let anything slip.

"Jungkook...if you are gay...you're not the first one I've talked to in this room."

"...What do you mean?"

"Welcome to the industry, Jungkook. I know a lot of songwriters, vocal trainers, singers and idols who are gay or bisexual. I know it looks like the end of the world for you as an idol, but...you're definitely not the only one. I'm obviously not going to tell you which ones are, but...there's a lot more than you think."

"But I..."

"Look, at the end of the day, you're feeling something special for another person. Cherish it. It's one of the most precious things you can experience as a human being during your stay on this planet. I don't think an artist can ever move forward without experience it. Just...be careful."

"Are you...gay?" Jungkook asks dumbly, almost hoping that his vocal trainer is gay so he can feel less bad about his own situation.

"Me? Nah. I've been straight so far, but honestly, who knows? Maybe down the road I'll find Mr. Perfect. I'm leaving that option open."

"Doesn't that make you bisexual?"

"Smartass. I'm not labeling myself as anything, and you shouldn't either. Now, back to practice. Continue to think about that special person while you sing."

 


-

 

 

Jimin is smiling at him.

They're standing in the middle of a field of pastel flowers that stretch on for miles. Jimin's standing at an arm's reach with the most beautiful smile he's seen. Jungkook watches in fascination as Jimin laughs. The sound rings all around him like chime bells against cool autumn breeze.

Jimin puts a hand out slowly, as if waiting for Jungkook to take it. The singer reaches for it gently and laughs lowly when the smaller man tugs at him and start running across the field. The flowers and the grass cushion the sound of their footsteps, so that only the sound of Jimin calling out his name fills the air.

They continue to run and run, until they are standing at the edge of a cliff. Jungkook can hear the sound of waves hitting against the rocks underneath. He can smell sea water and feel the salt against his skin.

"Are you ready?" Jimin asks besides him, his eyes no longer smiling but still peaceful. Jungkook shoots the teen a curious look.

"Ready for what?"

"To jump. With me."

Jungkook takes a step back and pulls the smaller man towards him.

"Are you insane? You'll die," Jungkook says harshly as he continues to drag Jimin away from the edge. The two stand closely against each other, and Jungkook can almost feel the other man's breath against his own.

"Would it be so bad?" Jimin whispers, looking up at Jungkook with those beautiful eyes of his. Jungkook can't resiste anymore. He takes his hands and envelope Jimin's face with them. Jimin's face feels soft and warm against his. He leans forward, their breaths now ghosting against each others' lips.

Then everything changes and Jungkook finds himself staring at the almost blinding fluorescent ceiling of his dance studio.

"What the fuck?" Jungkook croakes out as he pulls himself into a sitting position. He was so not prepared for a dream like that. It was way too vivid and had way too much Jimin for his current vulnerable state. He doesn't know if it's because he's been spending too much time with Jimin or if his brain had projected his internal turmoil regarding his sexuality in the form of a dream, but either way, he's not entirely pleased with the dream.

But first things first, how had he fallen asleep?

The door to the studio opens and reveals Jimin walking in with a plastic bag in his hand.

"Oh, you're up," the teen says as he walks in. Jungkook's not sure if this is a continuation of his dream or if it's really Jimin standing in the studio. Then he remembers why he was in the studio to begin with. Jimin and he were supposed to do their final practice before the audition. He had arrived at the studio early because he had nothing else to do after his vocal training and somehow dosed off while waiting for Jimin.

"Sorry, I must've fallen alseep. You should've woken me up," Jungkook says as he checks for time and realizes that it's already 20 minutes past their promised time.

"No, it's OK. Um, I went out and for some snacks...I'm not sure which ones you like or if you're allowed to eat any but..." Jimin says shyly before placing the bag of snacks and drinks between them.

"Thanks, I was actually gettin kinda hungry," Jungkook thanks with a toothy smile before going through the bag. He's quite surprised by the choices, because most of them are what he likes to sneak into his strict diet when his manager or other employees aren't watching. They open up a bag of crackers and share, while discussing their plans for the day. Once they're finished, they are standing side by side, watching their reflections in the mirror. The music starts, and they both dance in sync to their original choreography.

"I think you're ready," Jungkook says proudly while breathing heavily as the song comes to a stop. He can see that Jimin is a quick learner who can copy moves almost as soon as he sees it. Not only that, Jimin can turn it into his own and make everything even better. Hakyeon is going to love him.

"Do you really think so?" Jimin asks, wiping the sweat off of his face and neck.

"I know so."

"Um...hold on," Jimin says before scurrying to his backpack and rummaging through it. Jungkook watches with a raised eyebrow as the teen returns with a small package in his hands. He takes it when it's handed to him. It's wrapped in gold wrapping paper, with a white ribbon tied around it.

"What is it?"

"It's a small gift. For helping me out. I mean, it's really small and kinda stupid, and one day I might be able to get you a better gift-"

"Hey. I'm going to like whatever you give me," Jungkook stops the teen with a grin as he unwraps his gift. It's a silver USB that can be worn around as a necklace. He's seen a few producers and song writers with these, and they had told him they wear it around everywhere because they get too anxious without it.

"You told me you that you wanted to start making music. I asked around what's a good gift for someone getting started, and they told me every artist has their special USB they keep their songs in. Umm...I know you probably have a million USBs, but-"

"It's perfect," Jungkook says, effectively halting Jimin's rant. "I promise to put all my work in this. Thank you," he continues as he pulls Jimin into a tight embrace.

If Jungkook thought he already had it bad for Jimin, he was undeniably mistaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It's not hard to see that Jimin's having a near panic attack as he stands in front of the studio door. He's a nervous wreck, with his eyes darting frantically all over the place, his forehead sweaty and his fingers furiously tapping at his own thighs. Jungkook shoots the teen a sympathetic look. He knows that this is the first time Jimin's ever danced in front of people, all who are gathered to scrutinize his moves.

Jungkook remembers when he used to be like this. It was the first time he was due on stage. He could hear people screaming and cheering for whoever was currently on stage. There were cameras after cameras, with staff members bustling around busily. He couldn't mess up. This was it. Years of training, not sleeping, being lonely and crying by himself in the bathroom was all for that specific moment.

The singer wonders if Jimin's going through a similar storm of emotions. He smiles at the fond memory and takes Jimin's hand into his. The teen snaps up in surprise and then reciprocates the smile when their eyes meet.

"You'll be fine. Just remember what we did. Pretend it's just the two of us practicing again."

Jimin nods shyly before they walk in. Hakyeon turns around from where he's laughing with a few of his crew members and greets the two.

"Jungkook, you're here too! Alright everyone, this here is Jimin, Jimin, these are the best of my crew. This is Jaebum, aka Jay," Hakyeon introduces while pointing at a man heavily tattooed. The short man waves with a grin. "This here is Seunghoon and JunHong, aka Zelo," he continues waving at the two men standing next to Jay. Seunghoon puts out a hand, which Jimin takes shakily. "Last but not least, this is Yongguk. He's a bit shy," the choreographer finishes while pointing to a tall man with a rather intimidating expression.

"Hello. Please take good care of me," Jimin bows politely and fidgets when the rest of the crew clap.

"Alright, show us what you got," Jay says, and Jimin's glad that the man doesn't sound taunting. Jimin inhales and exhales slowly, just as Jungkook had taught him, as the music begins playing. He closes his eyes and tells himself that he's just practicing with Jungkook again. This is his thing. Dancing. He can do this.

Jimin wills his body to move. Then as if by magic, everything just falls into pieces. His arms and legs move to the beat as if they have a mind of their own. Jimin finds it exhilarating. There is a rush of adrenaline that keeps him moving, and for a moment, he forgets that he's auditioning.

Once he finishes, there is a quiet murmur among the small group of people. Jungkook is watching him with a proud smile and a thumbs up. Hakyeon listens to the rest of his crew with a giddy grin that has Jimin feeling hopeful.

"The kid's a natural," Jay says with a shrug. "I'm all for him joining."

"I agree. But we need to teach him to relax a little," Yongguk adds with a nod. He didn't miss how much of a nervous wreck the teen was before the music came on.

"He's good. We haven't had a guy like that audition in a while," Zelo muses as Seunghoon nods aggressively besides him. "Alright boss, I think we've made a decision."

"Welcome to the crew!" Hakyeon bellows out with his arms wide open as soon as Zelo finishes speaking. The rest of the crew simultaneously roll their eyes at their leader.

"I...I'm in?" Jimin asks hesitantly, back to his shy self as soon as the music is finished.

"Yeah you're in. You'll be training with us starting next week. I'll introduce you to the rest of the team then. There are a few people around your age as well, so you should be fine," Hakyeon cooes, quite pleased to have such a talented addition to the crew. Jimin beams at the words and then immediately turns to flash Jungkook a crescent-eyed smile.

"I think we should celebrate," Jungkook announces as soon as the two are outside the studio and heading out the building. He can't stop smiling as he watches Jimin do his best to contain his own happiness. Jimin's radiating with pleasant energy that has his spirits high as well.

"Really?"

"Yeah really. Hakyeon's crew is one of the best in Korea. You better celebrate becoming a part of it," he continues as they push past another door to the parking lot. "Anything you want to do?"

"Umm...I'm not sure."

"Well, in that case, I got a plan. Now, if you'll follow me, Mr. Park." Jungkook bows and points to his car with his hands. Jimin laughs as the singer even opens the door for him.

They drive out the building, into Seoul's night air. The audition has started late, after Hakyeon's crew's practice, so it's already quite dark out. There aren't too many cars around, which is surprising considering they're in the center of Gangnam.

They continue to drive past the tall buildings, while Jimin plays with Jungkook's phone and acts as the DJ. They playfully argue over which songs are good or bad and try to figure out which song Jungkook should dance to on his next practice video for his fans.

"We're here," Jungkook announces when they reach a secluded area that oversees the Han River. Jimin gets out the car uncertainly as Jungkook pulls a black duffle bag out of the trunk.

"It's so...quiet here," Jimin muses as he stares at the stretch of landscape in front of him. He can see bright lights from skyscrapers bouncing playfully across the water's surface as cars busily wheeze by them. He hadn't been aware that a place like this exists in Seoul, especially so close to Han River, which is usually surrounded by clusters of people either looking for a place to relax or wanting to escape the stress of their daily lives. From where they're standing, everything seems so much smaller and insignificant against the backdrop of the city.

"I know right? Another singer actually taught me about this place. Apparently it's this hidden gem only a few celebrities know about to to go on dates or whatever," Jungkook explains as he motions for the teen to follow. They go up a small hill that is decorated with small trees and tall grass. The smell of grass and wild flowers surround Jimin, followed by the much muskier scent of tree bark. He inhales slowly and lets the fresh air fill his lungs as they continue to walk.

"And this is my favorite place," the singer announces as he pulls out a picnic blanket from the bag and spreads it over a small area behid a particularly large tree. "I come here somtimes when I find everything too overwhelming. Come on," he motions for Jimin to sit besides him. The teen obliges, still in awe at the location.

"It's nice here..."

"Yeah. Here, I brought some kimbap and....a bunch of other things," Jungkook says as he pulls bags, boxes and bottles out of the bag. Jimin picks up a random bag and sees that it's the same brand of chips that he likes to snack on when Seokjin isn't watching.

"Is this...a picnic?" Jimin asks hesitantly. He's heard about picnics. He's seen it referenced in many of the American movies Taehyung shows him, but he's never expected to be in one in his lifetime.

"I guess? We're outside and having food so yeah, why not?" Jungkook replies with a grin as he offers the teen a roll of kimbap. "It's a bit cheap for a celebratory meal, but...I couldn't keep hot steak in the car," he jokes and watches as Jimin cover his face in laughter.

The two men sit side by side overlooking the bright night lights of Seoul scattered along the Han River while munching on their food. Jimin realizes that he's never had a chance to enjoy the city's scenery during his 17 years of stay on the planet. The past few years had been a storm of trying his best to survive, and never did he have a chance to simply stop and look around.

Jimin peeks a glance at Jungkook, who seems quite content with the view as well. Jimin swallows hard as he takes in the singer's profile.

Jimin's not sure exactly when it happened. Before he knew it, his idolization of the other man somehow turned into something more than that. Jungkook was kind and fun as he was beautiful, and come to think of it, who wouldn't fall for him? There are a million and one fans out there that would agree with him, and he happens to be one of them.

At first, Jimin was in awe. He was amazed that someone so rich and famous would want to spend time with him. Then, Jungkook said things that made him laugh. The singer would tease him like he would a friend. Then Jungkook would dance with him and actually do his best to perfect Jimin's craft. Jimin had thought that what he was feeling towards the singer was deep gratitude at best, but right now, as he watches Jungkook's lips curve into a content smile against the gentle breeze of the night, his heart drops with the realization that perhaps he might just be a little bit in love with Jeon Jungkook the person, not Jeon Jungkook the singer.

 

 

-

 

 

The next time Jungkook sees Taekwoon is at Kim's residence, where everyone is gathered around to celebrate their Jiminie getting into Hakyeon's dance crew. Hoseok whines about Jimin not telling him ahead of time, because he would've shown his support throughout the entire process. He even calls Hakyeon and tells him to take good care of Jimin for good measure, and Yoongi snaps at him to stop being so dramatic. Seokjin and Namjoon are like proud parents, and Taehyung's happy that finally people will be able to see Jimin's talent. As for Jungkook, he's a bit disappointed that they won't be needing to practice by themselves anymore.

It's no question that Jungkook hates the very existence of Taekwoon now, especially when the taller man is currently standing right next to Jimin as if he's glued to the teen. Taehyung watches the two from time to time, but soon finds other things to entertain himself with (namely Hoseok). Jungkook pretends to get along to not draw any unnecessary attention, but he finds it increasingly difficult as time goes by.

Everyone's gathered around the living room, talking about the Jimin and his future in the industry. They entertain the idea of the three rappers, Jungkook and Jimin all being on the same stage at a given time. Hoseok warns Jimin about things not to do or say in front of Hakyeon, because the choreographer can be a bit sensitive at times. Seokjin complains that they should stop creating a huge mess in his apartment. No one listens.

From the corner of his eyes, Jungkook can see Jimin laughing at something Taekwoon whispers into his ears, and he wants nothing more than to just push Taekwoon away from the smaller man. He's sure that Taekwoon is doing most of the things just to get on his nerves, because now the cook is ruffling Jimin's hair.

Jungkook roughly brushes his hair back before retreating to the kitchen. He knows he should have better self control than this, but it so hard to keep a smiling face everytime Taekwoon touches Jimin. Ever since he's come to terms with his feelings for Jimin, the nagging sense of denial has been replaced by that of frustration. He and Jimin have obviously bonded over the practices, he wears around the USB Jimin gave him like it's his lifeline and Jimin smiles a lot more often and talks significantly more around him, but fucking Jung Taekwoon and his-

"Jealousy doesn't suit you, you know."

Jungkook whirls around to find Taehyung standing a few steps away, his expression blank.

"What?"

"I said, jealousy doesn't suit you."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

Taehyung shrugs before walking past the singer towards the fridge. "You should bury that deep unless you're willing to do something about it," he continues, taking a can of pop out and opening it with a click and a fizz. "Just saying. Well...it seems to me that someone else is way ahead of you already." Taehyung throws him another blank look before exiting the kitchen. Jungkook frowns as he watches the figure retreat. There's no way that Taehyung knows, is there? He swears that he's not been obvious. Yoongi hasn't said a thing, and the stylist is undeniably the most perceptive person he knows.

"Taehyung!" Jungkook calls out, and to this, the teen turns around with the can still against his lips.

"How do you-"

"Jimin deserves more than being someone's dirty little secret," Taehyung says abruptly before Jungkook can even finish his sentence. "Thought you should keep that in mind." Jungkooks arms drop limply to the side as the words hit him with full force. It's as if Taehyung can see right through him. Just as Taehyung opens his mouth, Jimin approaches them with a puzzled expression.

"Is everything OK?" Jimin asks as he himself makes his way to the fridge.

"Yeah, just talking about his upcoming showcase," Taehyung lies with a boxy smile, and Jungkook's taken aback by the sudden shift in mood. Just a second ago, there was a dangerous glint of warning in those usually happy-go-lucky eyes.

"Oh, I see. Ah, did you need anything from the kitchen?" Jimin asks politely. Jungkook shakes his head, because he doesn't trust his voice at the moment. He can still feel Taehyung's piercing gaze on him, and he's overcome with guilt for a crime he hasn't committed.

"You need something?" Taehyung asks, turning to look at his friend.

"Oh yeah, I just needed to get a couple of things from the cupboard for the hyungs."

Just then, Taekwoon is marching into the kitchen, and Jungkook swears internally, because he just can't get a break from this guy. He doesn't need Taekwoon right now. He doesn't need Taekwoon and Jimin interaction right now. He needs to come up with an excuse that'll get him out of the apartment so that he can have some time to deal with all the shit Taehyung threw his way.

He casts a wary glance towards Jimin, who now tip-toeing and reaching almost blindly inside the top cupboard for whatever it is that he's seeking. He fumbles for a bit but then is stopped by Taekwoon, who gently pushes him aside to grab a couple of cup noodles out.

"You should just ask me next time," Taekwoon says softly as Jimin takes the articles into his hands with an embarrassed smile.

Jungkook's had it with Jung Taekwoon.

"I think he can handle things just fine on his own," Jungkook grits out, his hands tight around the edge of the counter he's leaning against.

Taekwoon turns his head slowly around to look at him. Jimin's also watching him with his eyes wide open.

"I never said he can't," Taekwoon says lowly, as if daring the singer to continue.

"Then stop treating him like he can't."

"I wasn't," Taekwoon growls, uncharacteristically loud in the way he hisses the words out. Jimin fidgets nervously besides the taller man, his eyes darting back and forth between the singer and the cook, yet Jungkook can't bring himself to stop. He's suddenly overcome with a territorial urge, like an alpha male wolf would feel against another one. He's not even sure what that means, but it makes sense in his head.

Jungkook takes a step forward, just as Taekwoon does as well, and in a blink of an eye, the two are eye to eye in each other's bubble.

"I remember telling you to not take your denial out on me," Taekwoon hisses lowly enough for just Jungkook to hear. The singer narrows his eyes as he pushes the older man by the shoulders.

"Well guess what, I'm well past that stage."

"And I also remember telling you, touch me one more time and see what happens," Taekwoon pushes back, harshly enough for Jungkook to fumble and take a step back. In a flurry of anger, Jungkook lunges forward, setting both them tumbling onto the counter and swiping all the items onto the floor. There is a loud clatter of plastic and cans as they hit the floor, but neither of the two men pay any mind. They are immediately lunging at each other again, all the while Jimin watches with a look of horror on his face.

"Hey! Hey! Break it off!"

It's Yoongi who rushes into the kitchen and pulls the two men apart. Jungkook is heaving, his eyes still narrow and his fists clenched tightly besides him, as Taekwoon glares back with equal malice.

"What the fuck is the matter with you," the stylist hisses as he pushes Jungkook back with a hard look. Hoseok rushes towards his step-brother and helps him up with a stern expression.

"Seriously, what the fuck is going on here," Yoongi demands, looking back and forth between the two men. Yet, neither of them open their mouths.

"Tae, Jimin, what just happened," Seokjin is now speaking to the two teens who are wearing two very different expressions. Jimin looks shell-shocked and is currently frozen in place, while Taehyung looks more amused than surprised.

"I would tell you, but I don't think it's my place," Taehyung answers quietly with a shrug. Seokjin opens his mouth with a frown but is stopped by his boyfriend, who holds him back with a shake of his head.

"Alright, Jeon Jungkook, you're coming with me," Yoongi hisses and then procedes to drag the singer out of the kitchen. "Jin, can I use your bedroom?"

"Yeah, go ahead."

Yoongi doesn't say another word until they're inside Jin and Namjoon's bedroom. The stylist roughly shoves the singer into the room and shuts the door loudly behind him.

"You." Yoongi starts and then stops to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Have you fucking learned nothing?"

"What's that supposed to-"

"All these years, all the lessons and me and Hoseok bitching at you and you've learned nothing?" Yoongi paces around the room angrily, and Jungkook's left to stand awkwardly as anger dissipates.

"What are you even-"

"No, you don't get to fucking talk," the stylist spits vehemently. "I was hoping you'd prove me wrong. I was fucking hoping that I was seeing things. That I was creating this all in my head, but you, you just had to prove me right." Yoongi's sort of laughing now, which has Jungkook a bit alarmed to be honest. The singer opens his mouth to retort but shuts it when the older man throws him a scathing look.

"I can't stop you from having feelings for someone else, but I can fucking stop you from making it so goddamn obvious and acting on it."

"...What?"

"Don't what me. You and Jimin. I know what's going on. You've been shooting lasers at Taekwoon everytime Jimin so much as goes near him. Fine, I can accept that. You're a human too, but you're a fucking idol, Jeon Jungkook. You do not start a fucking fight because you can't control your feelings. Today, it was in Jin's kitchen. You're lucky no one else saw. Tomorrow, you're doing the same shit in public. You fuck up your performances. You blank out during interviews. You say the wrong thing with fans around. Wake the fuck up, Jungkook."

Jungkook, who has been listened to the rant in silence, now is starting to see red again. He gets where Yoongi is coming from. Yoongi rarely says anything wrong, and logically, yes he knows that the older man is looking out for him. But he will not accept Yoongi acting as if he knows everything about him.

"I'm not that stupid," Jungkook spits, his shoulders tensing again.

"Oh yeah? I think you've just proven that you are. Where do you think you're even going with this? You and Jimin?"

"I never said I wanted it to go anywhere."

"Then snap out of me. Stop spending time around Jimin and wake up."

"You can't control who I spend time with," Jungkook growls, almost vibrating in anger. He respects Yoongi as both an older brother figure and a friend, but he will not tolerate the man acting as if he owns him.

"Oh I can, and I will. Bury that shit deep, Jeon Jungkook. You're not going anywhere with it. Now grow the fuck up and act civilized towards Taekwoon. You're better than this," Yoongi finalizes lowly before leaving the room with a huff.

 

 


-


Jungkook doesn't appreciate being treated like a child at his age. In fact, he's quite certain that Taekwoon, who's now sitting across from him, feels the same way. The two men have been forced into a time-out by Seokjin, who would not tolerate violence in his apartment, and Hoseok, who refused to have his baby Kookie be involved in altercations with his step brother.

So the two are sitting in the small studio, where it's appropriately sound-proofed. Jungkook knows that there's no escaping this room until some semblance of treaty is formed between the two, but it's nearly impossible when he's still itching to punch the taller man.

"I like him. Thought you should know," Jungkook grits out, because he feels like it's an appropriate first step to have Taekwoon back the hell up. He doesn't want to think he's staking any claim, because let's be real, both he and Taekwoon have no chance when it comes to Jimin. But damn it if Taekwoon thinks that he has an advantage over him.

"I see that you're past your denial stage," Taekwoon is surprisingly calm, as he sits with his legs crossed and eyes fixed into a cold stare. "Finally evening the playing field."

"There's no field to even out. What makes you think either of us even has a chance? Jimin's not even into guys."

"...You really have no idea about any of this, do you?" Taekwoon begins cryptically after a moment of silent scrutiny. Jungkook doesn't appreciate the way the taller man is staring at him as if he's the biggest waste of space anyone has ever laid eyes on.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"I think we're done here"

 

 


-

 

 

 


"Jiminie, you OK?" Taehyung asks as he peers into his friend's room. Jimin is on his bed, looking to be deep in thought while listening to music. Jimin pulls an earbud out and nods quietly. Taehyung takes this as a sign for him to enter.

"I think Taekwoon hyung and Jungkook hyung hate me..." Jimin starts sadly as he sits up cross-legged on the bed. Taehyung sighs and sits next to his friend.

"I highly, highly doubt that. In fact, I'm willing to bet anything that that's not the case. Why would you even say that?"

"Jungkook hyung thought I was being too much of a baby..."

"He said that?"

"No, but you were there."

"I don't recall him saying anything remotely close to that."

"He said I should be able to handle everything on my own...and I think he's right. I'm letting people do everything for me...and Taekwoon hyung must be so tired of me. He left without even saying good-bye..." Jimin falters, remembering how the older man had rushed out of the apartment without so much as a glance his way. It was the first time ever in which Taekwoon didn't acknowledge his existence, and it hurt a lot more than it should.

Taehyung doesn't know what to say to that. No, that's not right. There are a lot of things he can say, but he's not sure how he's going to get the right message across without inadvertently outing both Taekwoon and Jungkook. That would be a total dick-move, even if it's to comfort his best friend. But then again, is there any other way?

"I don't know many things," Taehyung starts carefully with a slight frown. "But I know for a fact that you're thinking this wrong. They weren't fighting over if you should do things on your own or not."

"What else would they fight about?"

"Jiminie, you're not being a baby. You never were," Taehyung replies. It blows his mind that Jimin would ever think that about himself.

"But it's true...Jin and Namjoon hyung let me live here for free and even pays me for the work I do at the diner."

"Well, they're not going to exploit you like some child slave."

"No, that's not what I mean. He wouldn't even let me work for free...I mean, I do some chores, but that doesn't mean anything..."

"I used to think the same thing. I thought that I'd never be good enough for my family," Taehyung says thoughtfully. "I wasn't allowed to be a kid, you know? Then Yoongi hyung once told me I should stop trying to grow up so quickly. Actually I think his exact words were, you're a fucking kid so start acting like one, let the adults do adult things while you kids fuck around like you're entitled to. And I guess I just started to think things differently after that."

Jimin shoots his friend a rather confused look. Taehyung smiles softly and places a hand on Jimin's shoulder.

"You're already a lot stronger than anyone I know, Jiminie. Everyone knows that. Let the hyungs take care of you for now. You're gonna miss it once you're an adult."

"You really think so?"

"Yup," Taehyung answers and then studies his friend's expression. Jimin still looks deeply bothered by something, and he feels that it's duty as his best friend to fix that. "Jiminie, you know we're like bros now, right? You can tell me things, just saying..."

Jimin sinks his head lower.

"Hey, don't let what Jungkook hyung said get to you. Especially when he didn't even mean it like that."

"But..."

"Hey, this is a totally hypothetical question, but, if you had to date either Woon hyung or Jungkook hyung, who would it be?" Taehyung asks, because he feels as if he should have some information before he lets one of the two men even try to snatch Jimin away from them. He likes Taekwoon and Jungkook, but he's going to make it his personal mission to keep the two at bay if Jimin isn't interested.

"W,what?" Jimin stammers, quickly turning beet red. Taehyung wonders when Jimin will ever get over being so shy over nothing. Like the time his brother gave that sex talk. Jimin had run off embarrassed, but he thought it was the most educational thing he's heard in the past year.

"Hypothetically. If you had to choose." Jimin starts fidgeting nervously. "Woon hyung?" Taehyung asks and watches as Jimin look down at his own hands. "Jungkook hyung?" This time Jimin almost flinches and bows his head down lower.

Taehyung sometimes wishes that he wasn't so damn observant and that Jimin wasn't so obvious.

"Jiminie...you....you like Jungkook hyung?"

Jimin doesn't say anything, but the taller teen can feel the guilt and shame radiating from his friend.

"That's cool...does he know?" Taehyung does his best to sound nonchalant, but it's difficult to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach. This had not been a part of his plan. He had secretly been waiting for Jimin to realize Taekwoon's feelings so that he can start rooting for the two. Taekwoon was a good guy. A good enough guy to be Jimin's first ever boyfriend. The older man would be good for him. He would protect Jimin and never push or demand anything. But Jungkook...that was a different story. Sure, he knows that Jungkook has feelings for Jimin, but he was hoping that Jimin wouldn't even consider the idea of being romantically involved with the singer, because really, Jimin doesn't need that much drama in his life.

But Taehyung knows from experience that people fall for the most unexpected counterparts. His own brother is a prime example of that. The rich, prim and proper supposedly future owner of the biggest corporation in the nation falling for the clumsy, loud street rapper with a tiny apartment shared with two others who society would label as "delinquents."

Who would've thought. Yet they're so happy with each other. And he wants Jimin to be happy.

"I could never tell him," Jimin answers almost pitifully. He can't possibly confess his feelings to the singer, who must be busy dealing with rows after rows of beautiful women. It doesn't even make sense that a plain guy like him would even dream of being with someone like Jeon Jungkook. 

"What do you mean?"

"He'd hate me..."

"Jiminie, you know that you'll be working with him in the future, right?"

"That's why I can't tell him...what if he never wants to see me again?"

"If you honestly think that he's going to be some dickhead homophobe that's that petty, maybe you should rethink your choice. You can't fall for someone like that Jiminie. You can't like a douchebag that makes you feel like it's a crime to like someone, man or woman," Taehyung reasons with a frown. Sometimes, he forgets that Jimin and laden with self-esteem issues, which has him worried that Jimin might go for the first guy that shows any interest.

"It's hopeless, anyway. It's Jeon Jungkook."

"Idols are humans too. Namjoon hyung is getting pretty famous, and one day maybe he'll make it big. But that doesn't change the fact that he'll always be the dorky hyung that destroys kitchens and loves the hell out of my brother."

"...Why are you so reasonable?" Jimin asks with a soft, sad smile. It's just like Taehyung to say the right think to bring him back to his senses.

"Just speakin' the truth. Look, I'm not saying go tell him how you feel or whatever. I'm just saying...don't go for a guy that makes you feel guilty for it."

"I'm glad you're my bro."

"You should be," Taehyung replies with a boxy grin as he ruffles the other's hair. Taehyung can't brush off the sinking feeling in his stomach, but he forces a laugh onto his face, because nothing's worse than seeing his friend so sad.

 

 

 


-

 

 

 

Everything hurts.

Jungkook's body is screaming at him to stop, but he grits his teeth and forces his limbs to continue moving. The music is deafeningly loud against his ears, the room suffocatingly hot. His shirt clings onto him like second skin and his feet are sore as they mercilessly pound against the hard wooden floor. But he likes it this way. It's exactly what he needs.

Then suddenly, the music comes to a halt. He whirls around and finds his choreographer by the audio system with his arms crossed. How had he missed the other man coming into the studio in the first place?

"You're going to regret this tomorrow," Hakyeon says in an almost motherly tone.

"Maybe that's what I'm going for," Jungkook manages to let out between gasps for breath. He hunches over and presses his hands against his knees for support.

"Maybe. But doesn't mean it's going to solve your problem."

"Who says I have a problem?"

"Don't be cheeky with me, Jeon Jungkook," Hakyeon chides with a disaproving frown before approaching the singer. "You're scared of something."

"No I'm not."

"You might not realize this, but you're really transparent when you're not on stage."

"I'm not scared."

"You are. Anyway, I get the feeling that you're not going to share why, so I suggest you just stop destroying all your muscles and just go get some rest."

"Shouldn't you be proud that I'm practicing?"

"This isn't practicing. Now go."

"You're throwing me out of the studio?"

"Yes. Yes I am. As your choreographer, yes I am," Hakyeon finalizes with an uncharacteristically forceful tone, and this has Jungkook picking up his things with a frustrated huff and rushing out the studio angrily. Hakyeon watches the retreating figure and sighs once the door is slammed shut.

Jungkook's anger slowly dissipates between leaving the studio and arriving at his home. He takes a quick shower and sprawls across the floor of the living room. Sure, the couch is a lot more comfortable, but it's not what he needs right now. He's dealing with too many emotions that aren't sitting too well with him.

Anger is definitely in there somewhere, especially when that stoic face of Taekwoon pops into his head to smugly remind him that he somehow has the upper hand. He calls bullshit, but something about the taller man's expression makes him believe that perhaps this is a losing battle.

Then there's frustration. He's well past the denial stage, but he's starting to see that doesn't quite help. He likes Jimin, so what? Jimin's not gay. Even if he was, Jimin would have to like him too. And even then, how the hell is he supposed to date someone, a guy at that too, while avoid everyone's eyes? He's sure Jaebum's been very careful. The man had always been like that. A bit of a perfectionist, really. And even then, Jaebum got caught and is currently paying for it.

Lastly, there is longing. He misses Jimin. He can't even believe it sometimes how much he misses talking to Jimin and listening to the teen's twinkling laughter. Damn it if he lets Taekwoon or anyone else take that away from him.

So he does what he needs to do and texts Jimin. He's an idiot, but somehow, he doesn't mind it.

 

 


-

 

 


Jungkook, being the lame person he is, invites Jimin to dance with him again, saying that he needs a fresh look at the choreography he's preparing for his next album's showcase. Jimin obliges without an ounce of suspicion, and the next day, Jimin is standing in the familiar studio, watching Jungkook's short choreography.

"It's really nice," Jimin muses with a silent clap as Jungkook comes to a stop. He's not entirely sure why he's even here in the first place, considering the singer's dancing is perfection as usual. Yet, he doesn't complain, because how can he? He'd never grow tired of watching Jungkook dance. Sure, his heart will take a hit for it, but what other choice does he have?

Jungkook glances at Jimin, who's watching him with those innocent eyes staring back at him in aw, his plump lips slightly apart and his hands adorable held together. The singer takes a determined step towards the teen, who only waits patiently for him to say something. Those eyes will be the death of me, Jungkook thinks as he clears his mind of everything but the smaller man standing in front of him.

They're only a few inches apart now, and Jungkook knows that a slight bow of his head is all it would take for him to have their lips meet. He's suddenly over come with the need. The want to have Jimin be his. He wants those eyes to stare at him lovingly. He wants those lips on his own. He wants to be Jimin's only center of attention. Where did the possessive streak come from, his mind vaguely wonders. Where did all the fear go, his brain questions.

Would it hurt so much to just tell him. Would it destroy him so badly to admit to his feelings? Would it be the end of everything for him to just kiss Jimin right this moment?

Yet, before he can do anything, Jimin takes a step back with his head bowed down. Even without his expression being visible, Jimin looks shaken. Troubled. Scared. Jungkook puts a hand forward to lay it on Jimin's shoulder, but is stopped when Jimin takes another step with both his hands held up fair.

"Why do you..." Jimin whispers harshly, and Jungkook doesn't miss the tremor in his voice.

"Jimin?"

"Why do you do this..." the teen continues, his voice raspy and bursting at the seams with unspoken emotions. Jungkook has no idea what he's done wrong. Everything seemed so perfect a moment ago. What had he done to make Jimin so upset? Or did Jimin figure everything out? Is that what's bothering him? That he has feelings for him?

Jimin then suddenly picks up his belongings in a single swift motion before bolting out the room as if ghosts are after him. Jungkook stands still in the otherwise empty studio, with hurt shooting through his body. It's sharp, stabbing at his heart and then the rest of his body. The pain continues dully as he stares at his own reflection in the mirror. Is this what rejection feels like? Jungkook asks himself dumbly.

It hurts.

More than hours of dancing. More than the strict diets. More than the nasty comments he's stumbled across.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

How convenient, Jungkook thinks sarcastically as he leaves the recording studio after a brief wrap-up with Wonshik "Ravi" Kim. The company decided to push forward his comeback and was on his ass about recording for the new album, getting ready for both the showcase and an upcoming concert, as well as perfecting the new insanely difficult choreography for his next title track. He's somewhat used to the hectic schedule, but it is especially infuriating when he can't find the time to go see Jimin, who has been actively avoiding him.

The singer's not sure what he should have been expecting. Jimin had basically flat out refused him and hasn't called or texted him since. He himself thought that perhaps Jimin needs some time to get over the incident and had waited patiently for the teen to get back to him. A week later, still not a single text from Jimin. He knows that Jimin must have already joined Hakyeon's crew's practice, but he himself won't be joining practice with them until a few weeks down the road. He wants to drop by and see Jimin, but his schedule won't cut him a break.

Jungkook doesn't handle rejection very well. Perhaps it was his competitive nature, perhaps it was because it was the first time it has actually happened. He's not conceited enough to think that everyone on the planet has to love him (he knows there are a lot of people who hate his very existence), and, he's not stupid enough to think that he can turn a straight person gay, but he had somehow expected Jimin to be OK with his feelings. Jimin was just nice like that. So caring and understanding. Did he do something so horrendously wrong or had he been wrong about Jimin all this time?

What's more, Hoseok and Yoongi were no longer officially his manager and stylist. He had persuade the company to let the two sign up as artists to the company, and after much consideration, the two rappers were now under his label as J-Hope and Suga. His new manager is a nice guy. Minwoo is a lot calmer than Hoseok and a bit older. He's friendly enough, but Jungkook soon realizes that no one is ever going to be like Hoseok. His new head stylist is a woman in her 20s named Hyejin, who is currently trying to legally change her name into Hwasa. She's bubbly and loud, kind of like Hoseok, and is a stark contrast to the usually sarcastic and biting Yoongi.

Jungkook glances at the time on his phone and sees that it's already past 2 in the morning. He had come back to the apartment straight after the recording with intent to catch some sleep before early practice tomorrow. However, as he lies in bed, he can't stop thinking about Jimin and the way he bolted out of the studio. Jimin had looked so small and scared, and he had never wanted the teen to be like that around him. He only wanted Jimin to smile and laugh in front of him, but of course, he had stupidly given into his urges and wants, and he's paying the price now.

He should at least talk to Jimin again. Before he goes insane.

 


-

 

 

Taehyung's not sure what's happening, and no amount of pretending to be Professor Xavier is helping him read his best friend's mind. He drops his hands to his sides, which had been pressed against his temples in a not-so-succcessful attempt at telepathy. Jimin is sound asleep, which Taehyung finds is quite rare these days. He can hear a couple of nurses chattering as they walk by the room, followed by a child yelling something incoherent.

Taehyung had been trying to locate his phone a little over a week ago, when Jimin stormed into the house, looking very close to bursting into tears. Jimin didn't even acknowledge his friend's presence as he ran straight into his room and slammed the door shut (well not exactly slammed it shut, because Jimin's apparently too polite to do things like that). Taehyung, being the best friend he is, went into the room after the compulsory three knocks and found Jimin sitting on the bed with his head buried in his hands. He called out for his friend, but didn't get any response. Not even a dramatic "get the hell out" or "leave me alone" or an attempt to initiate a conversation. Jimin simply sat still, looking utterly anguished as he hunches over.

Taehyung takes a seat by the desk and waits for at least 15 minutes before opening his mouth. This time, Jimin looks up, his eyes sad and miserable, and Taehyung has to fight the urge to call his brother or Joon hyung, because this clearly calls for more than one of his "bro talks."

"Jiminie...what happened?" Taehyung asks and then wishes it wasn't those bullies again. While the bullies have learned to stay the hell away from Jimin on campus, what guarantee was there that they wouldn't try some shit when Jimin was out alone by himself? If it is the bullies, the solution is quite simple, but his gut feeling tells him it has got to be something more complicated.

"Jiminie?" he tries again and this time carefully moves across the room so that he is sitting next to his friend. And then it happens. Jimin starts crying pitifully into his own hands, and Taehyung is at a loss for words. He stares and stares for at least a solid minute before awkwardly placing a hand on the other's shoulder to give equally lame taps that were supposed to be comforting. Taehyung doesn't think he's ever seen Jimin cry like this. Jimin never cried so pitifully. Not when he was in pain at the hospital or when his father died or when he hung around the house bruised and busted. Jimin kept all those things locked away inside and always did his best to smile.

Jimin never cries, but he is crying now, and Taehyung doesn't know what the hell he's supposed to do to make it stop.

Jimin continues to sob and heave, and Taehyung remains still next to his friend. Then Jimin tells him that he's going to sleep, and the sadness in his friend's tone makes Taehyung nod dumbly and leave the room to let him be. Taehyung spends the rest of the evening googling information on how to deal with friends who cry and go through a list of what he deems is useless advice. He falls asleep on the couch, hoping that Jimin will be OK the next day.

Tomorrow rolls around, and Jimin doesn't look any better. Seokjin and Namjoon through each other nervous glances at Jimin, who looks almost too weak to even be sitting upright. Jimin's eyes are puffy and red, his entire face swollen. Seokjin gives Taehyung a questioning look, to which Taehyung replies with an exaggerated shrug. Seokjin's not too happy with Taehyung keeping all these secrets, but he lets his brother be and waits patiently for either one of them to spill.

The week rolls by, and Jimin is more zombie than human. He goes to school, does what he needs to do in class, come back home and does his homework, goes off to practice, rarely eats and then spends the night either tossing and turning in bed or crying himself to sleep. Taehyung is hyperaware of what is going on with his best friend but doesn't comment on it, because he doubts Jimin would ever talk to him about whatever is making him so miserable. So instead, Taehyung spends his days hovering around Jimin, cracking jokes that make Jimin smile weakly, and forcing Jimin some food down his throat when the adults aren't around to do so.

Then it happens. Taehyung gets a phonecall from a nearby hospital with the news that Jimin had passed out in the middle of the street. Taehyung rushes to the hospital in panic and then listens as the doctor explains that Jimin is both malnourished and dehydrated, and it's probably what made him faint. Taehyung berates himself for not having been careful enough. Of course all the strenurous dancing was going to take its toll on his friend's body when he was getting neither enough food nor sleep. The doctor explains that Jimin should be fine with a few day's rest and some actual food and leaves the teen to tend over his friend currently on IV.

Taehyung is currently watching Jimin's figure. Jimin had always been on the skinny side but is now wasting away between demanding dance practice and minimal calorie consumption. He knows his brother and Namjoon are going to go apeshit once they find out, so Taehyung refrains from calling them for the time being. Jimin doesn't need the adults marching in and demanding him to tell them what's wrong. Jimin looks too weak for that, so he is going to have to take things into his own hands. He had been patient with his friend, but when Jimin is passing out in the middle of the street, it then becomes a different story.

Jimin stirs awake with a groan and then blinks furiously to adjust to the light in the room.

"...Tae?"

"Hey Jiminie," Taehyung greets weakly, leaning over the bed.

"...What happened?" Jimin asks hoarsely as he tries ot pull himself into a sitting position. Taehyung replies honestly as he gently pushes Jimin back onto the bed. "I'm such a mess," Jimin mumbles out almost inaudibly, and something inside Taehyung hurts listening to it.

"Jiminie, what's going on? Are you in trouble?" Taehyung asks abruptly, because he can't just wait around anymore.

Jimin stops to stare and the looks away in what he vaguely smells as shame, and this has Taehyung going through a list of things that could have possibly gone wrong? Drugs? Sex with a stranger? Alcohol? Other criminal activities? The list goes on rapidly in his head, and Taehyung wishes upon all higher powers he knows that Jimin hadn't done something so reckless and stupid.

"Jiminie, what the hell is going on?" Taehyung demands in a temporary state of panic.

"You'll laugh at me..." Jimin replies with a sad smile as he glances at the needle currently inside him.

"Why would I laugh?"

"I almost told Jungkook hyung I like him..." the smaller teen whispers with an anguished expression, his fingers gripping tightly around the blanket. Jimin closes his eyes as he lets the words out. Over a week of tormenting himself over it, it feels strangely good to just say it out loud and let Taehyung know what a fuckup he is.

Taehyung blinks once. Twice.

He thinks and thinks and picks at his own brain, but he can't see why that's a problem. What was Jimin torturing himself over? Jimin had said "almost told," as in he didn't actually follow through with it, which means rejection probably isn't the issue here. And let's be real, Jungkook wouldn't reject Jimin, especially when he's been pining after his friend for some time now. So what's the problem here?

"I'm not sure what the problem is," Taehyung admits slowly, hoping that his friend would elaborate.

Jimin looks up with tired eyes and then opens his mouth. "He would never go for me," he explains in a defeated tone. Taehyung stares, urging his friend to continue. "Even if, by some miracle, Jungkook hyung is gay, he wouldn't ever want someone like him...but he's so nice to me all the time that I keep stupidly thinking that I have a chance..."

Taehyung's not sure whether to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all or to slap some sense into Jimin.

Jungkook pining after Jimin not knowing Jimin's gay and Jimin pining after the singer thinking he doesn't stand a chance. Good lord, what is he supposed to do with this now? He knows he has no business revealing Jungkook's feelings on behalf of the singer without permission, and frankly, he's still not even sure if he wants the two to be together...

...but come on, this is just silly.

Taehyung fakes a cough.

"So uh, let me get this straight," Taehyung starts with another forced cough. "So you think Jungkook hyung is just being nice to you, but somehow you keep misreading them and that has you thinking that he might like you that way?"

Jimin nods sadly. Taehyung thinks he's friend is a moron. Both he and Jungkook are complete blind idiots, which he guesses makes them perfect for each other...? So being the best friend he is, Taehyung finds it that it's his responsibility to make whatever needs to happen between the two happen. The singer is going to owe him big.

 

 


-

 

 

Jungkook breathes heavily as he finishes up practice and marches to retrieve his things currently bundled up in a disheveled heap to the corner of the room. He absent mindedly turns his phone and sees a few texts. He scrolls through them without paying much attention and then stops when he lands on a text by an unknown number.

[You and I really need to talk. It's about Jimin. This is Tae btw]

His heart drops. Had something happened to Jimin? Something horrible? Jungkook doesn't think twice about dialling the number and waiting impatiently for the teen to pick up. He chews his nails, which he's sure he's going to get shit for later from the stylist, as he listens intently for the ringing to stop.

[Oh hey, I see you got my message.]

"What's going on? Is Jimin OK?"

[I dunno, how honest do you want me to be?]

"Just tell me," Jungkook grits out, quickly getting annoyed.

[Jimin was in the hospital yesterday.]

"What? Why? What happened?"

[This eager and you still haven't told him...] There is a sigh on the other line. [He fainted on his way back from dance practice. He hasn't really been sleeping or eating.]

"Why? Is he sick? Did something happen?"

[I dunno, why don't you tell me?]

"Will you cut it out?" Jungkook hisses angrily, having had it with Taehyung being both cryptic and taunting.

[You should talk to him, you know. Like really talk to him. About your feelings and all that stuff.]

"I thought you didn't even like the idea of me being with him."

[I don't] Taehyung answers honestly, and Jungkook's almost hurt by the firm tone. [But you make him happy. I don't really have a choice, do I?]

"What do you mean?"

[Look, I don't have to spoon feed you every detail, alright? I'm on his side, not yours. Just talk to him. Oh, and keep in mind that there's an army of people ready to murder you if you make him cry.]

With that, the line goes dead, and Jungkook is left asking himself what he's just heard. He stares at his phone for a full minute afterwards. Taehyung said a lot of things to him, but first and foremost, he's going to have to see if Jimin is OK.

 

 


-

 

 

Jungkook has never been a fan of uncertainty, which comes as a surprise to many people, considering the industry he's a part of. The singer likes things clear cut. Pass or fail, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, success or failure so on an so forth. He likes gathering as much information as possible beforehand and has developed quite a reputation for practicing an insane amount before all kinds of interviews and performances.

So as Jungkook waits on one of the swings in the playground situated near Jimin's apartment while waiting for the teen to come down and talk to him, he's not at all happy about the possible outcome of their pending conversation. Their last encouter ended quite horribly. Jimin had basically told him he wanted no part of Jungkook's feelings, and Jungkook had spent the entire day dancing until he was sure he was going to dislocate all his joints. Then Taehyung tells him to talk to Jimin and even sets up a time and location for them to meet.

This can go horribly, Jungkook thinks. He's prepped his mind to tell Jimin how he feels so there will be no regret in the future, but it doesn't mean that Jimin will accept his feelings this time around. He knows that he's being insane by physically putting himself in a position in which Jimin can vocally and definitively reject him, but being the masochistic idiot that he is, decides that he's going to do it anyway.

Well shit. A million and one people who love him and he can't even win the heart of one Park Jimin. The irony. Who would've thought that Jeon Jungkook could be reduced to this pitiful lovesick puppy.

"Hyung?"

Jungkook looks up and finds Jimin standing in front of him only a short distance away, with Taehyung standing besides him. Taehyung glances at the two and then runs off back towards the apartment without so much as a hello, and Jimin calls after him. Taehyung then puts both thumbs up wordless before darting away, leaving Jimin to awkwardly stand in front of the singer.

Jimin's heart aches again as he takes in the sight of the man before him. Jimin had thought that he had somewhat gotten over the singer over the past few days, but that was clearly not the case. Jungkook is watching him, his eyes almost sad and definitely uncertain, and as much as he hates the situation, he hates the sad look in the other man's eyes more.

"I'm sorry," Jimin begins timidly and takes the empty swing next to Jungkook. He should've know it was strange that Taehyung would drag him out of the apartment so late saying that he had something important to tell him.

"For what?"

"For running off like that...I panicked..." Jimin answers honestly. He closes his eyes tightly and rubs his sweaty palms against his jeans.

"I'm sorry," Jungkook cuts in before the teen can continue. He doesn't want to hear whatever is going to come out of Jimin's mouth next. He had been stupid to think that perhaps things would go differently. "I understand. I completely understand and there's no hard feelings. We can still be friends, right?" he asks with a fake smile to cover the hurt inside.

Jungkook's taken aback by how Jimin's face quickly falls. He feels as if he has kicked a baby deer that's learning how to walk for the first time. Why is Jimin watching him like that? Shouldn't he be happy? Or maybe Jimin didn't want them to even be friends?

Jimin suddenly gets up, sending the swing he's been on lurching behind him. The teen looks almost frantic as he fumbles with his words. "I should...I should get....um...going, get going..."

"Hey, wait, do you not even want us to be-" Jungkook starts, getting off the swing as well and reaching for Jimin's wrist. As soon as his fingers wrap around the frail wrist, Jimin jerks back as if he's been burned.

"I'm sorry," Jimin says almost in tears now, his hands covering his eyes. "I'm sorry..."

"For what?" Jungkook asks desperately, because he's quite sure that he's losing his grip on the situation at hand. Jimin rejected him. He just needed to eventually learn to get over it, no matter how long it'd take. So why was it that Jimin looked like the one getting his heart broken?

"I didn't mean to fall for you...it just happened...I'm sorry..." Jimin lets out in an anguished tone, his shoulder tense and small. "I don't know if we can be friends, not until I-"

Jimin takes a blind step back trips over the small ledge designed to keep the sand in. Jimin flails momentarily and goes down, landing right on his hipbone. He lets out a pained groan and flushes, once he realizes what an embarrassment he's being.

"Jimin!" Jungkook crouches down to help Jimin get up. The teen stays surprisingly complient and lets the singer hoist him back up, only to wobble when a sharp pain shoots up his right ankle. He must've sprained it quite badly, because he can't bring himself to add any weight to the particular foot. Jimin bites his teeth to keep the whimpering down but fails miserably when he stupidly tries to stand on his own again.

"Did you sprain something? Here, let me see it," Jungkook says, reaching for Jimin's right ankle.

"No, no, it's OK-" Jimin refuses, doing his best to pull away.

"I know a thing or two about sprained ankles. We have to check if it's serious."

"It's not seri-" Jimin starts but is stopped when Jungkook practically carries him back onto the swing. The singer kneels down in front of him and carefully applies pressure to Jimin's ankle while gauging for reaction.

"This looks serious. I don't think you can walk with this," Jungkook muses as he tentatively places the foot back onto the ground.

"No, I can walk..."

"Here," Jungkook says as he turns around and extends his arms behind him.

"Huh?"

"Come on, I'll carry you home. I don't want you walking with that ankle."

"I can't-"

"Up, up, come on. Are you seriously going to make me stay like this the whole day?" Jungkook asks with a forced grin. His head is still buzzing with trying to figure out what Jimin had said just before falling down. Was those words the product of his brain's wishful thinking or had Jimin just confessed to him?

Jimin, on the other hand, feels his heart sink to the ground and get trampled on. Jungkook first rejects him and then is nice to him again. It's actions like these that give him false hope and makes him wonder if Jungkook's like this to everyone else or if he's just so socially inadaquate that he confused decent human behavior with something more.

Jimin fidgets nervously and then wraps his arms shyly around the singer's neck. He's going to let himself this one. It'll probably be the last time he'll be so close to the singer, and he can't seem to pass up on the offer. Jungkook hooks his arms around the teen's legs and with a short "hua!" hoists himself up so that Jimin is in a proper piggy-back.

"Thank you..." Jimin mumbles into Jungkook's tee. The singer smiles and began walking towards the apartment. The cool night air is a sharp contrast to the warmth of Jimin on his back. The soft sound of Jimin breathing against him is almost masked by the loud thumping in his head.

"Jimin, what you just said..." Jungkook starts, and he can feel Jimin going tense against him. "Did you say that you...like me?"

Jimin's still. Jungkook takes that as an affirmative.

"As in...you want to be with me?"

Jungkook can feel Jimin's muscles twitch at the question. Jungkook's mind is buzzing so loudly now that he can no longer hear the soud of his own heartbeat or the sound of Jimin's soft breathing against him. If he's not dreaming, Jimin likes him. Jimin likes him the same way he likes the teen. Their feelings are mutual and they had danced around each other like idiots. The singer's jaw drops with a realization, and he has to fight the urge to do a double fist pump, because holy shit, Jimin likes him.

"You like me..." Jungkook muses again, the words sounding pleasant against his lips. "You actually like me..."

"I'm sorry..." Jimin apologizes again, clearly still mistaken.

Jungkook finds the situation almost humorous. Who would've thought that he'd fall for another man and put himself through a shitstorm of emotional suckage as his first ever real experience with romance by being a dumbass? How had Jimin not known about his feelings when both Yoongi and Taehyung knew? He thought he was being fairly obvious with the way he's treated Jimin.

They eventually arrive in front of the apartment, where Jungkook sets Jimin down with a toothy smile. He's about to burst at the seams with inexplicably overwhelming sense of happiness and relief. Jimin's looking up at him with his eyes still sad and nervous, and while it would be depressing before, it was utterly adorable now. Jungkook's eyes turn into crescents as he cups Jimin's face with his hands.

The teen flinches at the touch but otherwise remains still.

"I like you. I have feelings for you. I can't stop thinking about you, and holy shit, that feels good to finally say out loud. I'm into you, Park Jimin," Jungkook announces with a gleeful grin.

"I'm...I'm sorry? What's happening?" Jimin asks uncertaintly, blinking owlishly. He briefly wonders if Jungkook has gotten mad.

"I said, I'm insanely into you."

"I don't get it..."

Just then, the door flings open to reveal an agitated Taehyung dressed in his PJs and wearing a scowl on his face.

"Jesus, Jiminie, he likes you, you like him, you guys can date now, blah blah, stop being a dumbass and say your good byes and come on in before hyung wakes up and finds you out of bed," Taehyung spits rapidly before grabbing Jimin by the arm and pulling him inside. "Are you happy now?" he asks Jungkook and then rolls his eyes when the singer flashes him an excited grin. "OK, now go away," he says and then closes the door. Jungkook blinks a couple of times before throwing his arms out happily. He's not going to let Taehyung ruin his good mood. In fact, nothing is going to ruin his day right now.

Inside the apartment, Jimin is still in a state of daze, trying to wrap his around what had just happened. Taehyung is watching him with his arms crossed and a hint of a grin dancing across his features.

"Jiminie, aren't you happy? Isn't this what you wanted?" he asks, plopping onto the bed besides his friend. Jimin looks up with his mouth open dumbly.

"Did he...Did he just say...?"

"Yeah he did. I heard everything. I think you forgot that the only soundproofed part of this apartment is Joon hyung's studio."

"He....likes me?"

"Yup."

"Jeon Jungkook likes me?"

"Uh huh."

"Am I dreaming?"

"Off to bed, Jiminie."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jimin quickly finds out that Jungkook is a lot bolder than he seems. Jungkook's a lot less shy with expressing his feeling for him and would be surprisingly cute about it as well. Jimin had always expected the taller man to be a bit stoic, quite manly and nervous about being in a relationship with him, but he couldn't be more wrong. Jungkook was still a busy man, but he sent pictures of himself in the studio finishing up recording or getting ready for practice and always made sure to call him every night before going to sleep. Sometimes Jungkook would stop by and they would meet inside the singer's car in the parking lot to chat for a little before Jungkook has to go.

The two keep everything a secret from everyone else except Taehyung. Jungkook doesn't want Yoongi or Hoseok on his ass about the relationship, and Jimin wants to help the singer keep it a secret. Taehyung knows, only because he was sort of the one who made it possible in the first place. The other teen has promised to keep it a secret from both his brother and his brother's boyfriend only because Jimin asked him to. Taehyung doesn't fully approve of it, but figures it's not his business.

A couple of weeks after they start officially seeing each other, teasers for Jungkook's new album go online. Jimin reads through the comments and sees thousands after thounds of fans from around the world looking very excited for the edgier comeback. Two teasers are released back to back. The first is Jungkook's solo track, and the other is a track that features the three rappers. Jungkook, who he now is supposed to refer to as his boyfriend, looks absolutely stunning in the teaser with more eyeliner than he usually wears. The MV is a bit darker, the beat a bit stronger, and his voice is amazing as usual.

Jimin smiles softly as he plays the teaser over again. He doesn't think he'd ever get tired of watching it.

Just then, his phone rings. Jimin sees that it's Jungkook calling. He must be finished with his interview in promotion for his new album.

"Hi," Jimin answers shyly.

[Hey. Wait...are you watching my new teaser?] Jimin groans when he realizes that the video is still playing in the background. He knows he shouldn't be embarrassed, considering Jungkook knows that he's always been a fan.

"Maybe..?"

[So what do you think?] the singer asks teasingly, and Jimin and almost see the other man wiggling his eyebrows.

"It's...amazing."

[Oh, good. I wasn't sure if the whole bad boy image worked with me, considering my fans call be Jeon bunny.]

"It's different, but it's still nice. Makes you look more...dangerous? But in a good way!"

There is a laughter coming from the other line. Jimin facepalms. He really needs to stop fanboying like this.

[Hey, I should get going. I'll call you later, OK? This sucks that we can't spend time together.]

"It's OK. Your comeback is next week," Jimin says and then sulks when he remembers that he won't be joining the singer this time around. His sprained ankle had kept him out of practice for a few days, and Hakyeon, who had already been wary about adding Jimin into the mix too soon, decided to give Jimin more time to get ready before he was to be officially on stage.

[Yeah...which means I'll see you even less...but I did get all the passes for you if you're up for it.]

"Really?"

[It'd just mean a lot if you came and you know...cheered me on.]

"You'll have hundreds of people cheering you on."

[But it's not the same. Anyway, I'll call you later.]

"'kay."

Jimin hangs up and smiles to himself before going back to the computer screen. Jimin spends the rest of the day busily, going to practice, cleaning the house quickly before fixing himself some of the leftover food, finishing up homework and getting ready for bed. He checks his phone and sighs to himself when Jungkook hasn't contacted him.

He hopes the singer is eating alright and taking care of himself. He's read so many comments talking about how great Jungkook looks, but he knows that it's just all the weightloss. Jungkook has basically stopped eating altogether in the last week, nibbling on lettuce and apple if he's feeling particularly weak and dizzy. Jimin hopes that the promotion for his album finishes quickly so that Jungkook can get some break.

Just as he's about to fall asleep, he gets a text from Jungkook asking if he's sleeping. Jimin rolls over so that he's lying on his stomach and texts back [not yet]. A second later, Jungkook is calling him.

[I'm so glad you're not sleeping.] Jimin can clearly hear the fatigue in the other man's voice. Jimin resents the company for making his boyfriend work so hard with the comeback just around the corner. How was Jungkook supposed to deal with the crazy schedule if he starts it off feeling like a zombie?

"Why? Is something wrong?"

[No...I just really needed to hear your voice.]

"Is everything OK?"

[Yeah, just tired I guess. Always hectic right before comebacks, you know? I was wondering...I mean, I know it's late, but can I go see you?]

"Now?"

[Yeah...I just really want a hug from a certain Park Jimin.] There is a short laugh from the other line, and Jimin buries his head into the pillow shyly.

"Oh...okay...when will you get here?"

[Meet me in the parking lot in 30?]

"I'll see you then."

[Can't wait till I see you.]


Jimin's surprised to see Jungkook still with makeup on. He must be coming back from a photoshoot, because the makeup is visibly thicker and the artistically smudged eyeliner gives the singer a hard edge. His hair is styled in a way that clearly gives off the bad boy image the company is currently going for, but Jimin's heart clenches when he sees how much the singer's cheeks are sunken. He already knew that cameras added at least 10 pounds and he looked even skinny in the teasers, but this was ridiculous...

"Sorry about the makeup," Jungkook says with a grin as Jimin continues to stare at him from the passenger seat.

"Oh. Um, sorry. It's just...are you sure you're OK?" Jimin asks in concern. Jungkook smiles softly in response and then reached out to take the teen's hand into his. Jimin blushes furiously at the touch and wonders how Jungkook manages to be so composed.

"Just what I needed," the singer chirps cheekly as he lifts their hand and bumps his nose against the back of Jimin's hand. "Is practice going alright?"

"It's going great. Hakyeon hyung says I'll definitely be ready by your next album."

"He's been telling me how amazing you are," Jungkook says with a proud smile as he leans towards Jimin. "Can't wait till we perform together."

Jimin smiles softly. Just imagining the both of them being on stage together makes him feel ticklish inside. Jimin spends some time listening to how the photoshoot went and laughs alongside Jungkook when the singer talks about how Namjoon already managed to break three separate equipment in the recording studio in the past week alone. Ravi had not been pleased and blown up on the poor rapper into a fit of screaming rage which lasted only a full minute before the producer managed to find his cool and apologized for being mean. Yoongi was hit on by three different female idols already, even before his official debut, and apparently he ran away from each and every one of them while Hoseok filmed the whole thing. Jimin makes a mental note to tell Taehyung so that his friend can get his hands on the video.

About half an hour later, Jimin forces Jungkook to go back to his apartment and get some sleep, but he can't bear the sight of his boyfriend so drained. Jungkook puts up a feeble fight but then eventually gives in when his manager calls to ask for him as well. Jungkook waves Jimin goodbye before slowly making his way out of the parking lot, leaving Jimin praying that the singer doesn't fall asleep while driving.

 

 


-

 

 

Jimin is waiting for the showcase to begin as he sits at the VIP seats alongside Taehyung, Seokjin and Taekwoon. Ever since the kitchen incident, Taekwoon seems a bit wary around him, and while this hurts, Jimin doesn't comment on it. Taehyung picks up on the subtle change and does his best to cheer Jimin up by being extra hyper and talkative. To make things worse, Jimin can hear a few girls behind him talking about Jungkook like he's some kind of a sex toy. Jimin squirms uncomfortably at the way they are talking about his boyfriend but tries to ignore it, remembering that he's seen worse on forums.

The clock hits 7 and the entire place goes pitch black. The crowd goes wild, and the girls' screaming is deafening. Jimin watches in awe as music begins playing, which is quickly followed by the stage lighting up to reveal Jungkook centerstage and dancers behind him. Jimin vaguely recognizes some of the dancers as those he sees during practice, but none of that matters once Jungkook starts singing and dancing. The first song is the title track to his second album, which got the singer a number 1 spot on all the charts with its release. A lot of the fans seem happy to be able to see a live performance of it again, and Jimin he himself watches in both adoration and admiration.

Once the song finishes, Jungkook waves at the fans and greet them with his bunny smile. He jokes around a little bit, which has everyone laughing, and then he quickly moves onto his second song. Jungkook dances around the stage, even winking at the fans and making tiny hearts with his fingers. He looks so at ease and himself in the limelight, Jimin forgets for a moment that the singer is the same man that bids him goodnight and sends silly selfies. Things get a bit slower once Jungkook sings a ballad piece, which has the rest of the building singing with him. Then the pace picks up, and all of a sudden, Rap Monster, Suga and J-Hope are all on stage rapping fiercely into their respecitive mics. Seokjin has a difficult time containing himself and is screaming at the top of his lungs while bouncing on his feet, and Taehyung looks away in embarrassment and makes a face at Jimin. Jimin laughs.

Jungkook has somehow managed to persuade the company to let the three rappers get their own song in (the company thought it was a good idea to promote their new artists anyway). The three is an instant hit with the crowd, and Taehyung says he's not surprised considering how both talented and good-looking they are. Jungkook's on stage alone again, this time for a quick Q&A session with Jackson, the special host for the day. The fans all laugh when Jackson pokes fun at the singer with his ridiculous Korean.

"So, Jungkook, I think everyone here wants to know...what kind of girl are you looking for?" Jackson asks as he slowly reads the words from the card he's holding.

"Could you make it sound less like you're reading that off that piece of paper?" Jungkook jokes into the mic, which has his fans bursting in laughter. Jackson throws him a dirty look and threatens to leak an embarrassing photo of the singer if he doesn't just answer the damn question.

"I don't know if I have a specific type," Jungkook says, remembering what the company had taught him to say. "But I belong to my ARMY right here so," he continues cheekily while waving at the crowd. Girls begin squealing loudly and clap, which has Jackson rolling his eyes.

"So you're saying you're single?" the GOT7 member asks with a grin.

"I'm dating my beloved ARMY, obviously."

Jackson throws his arms out dramatically, making everyone laugh, as Jungkook winks at them. Unfortunately, not evenyone is finding the situation humorous, because Taehyung sighs next to Jimin, who has lips pursed into a thin line. He shouldn't be surprised. Jimin should know that there was no going public with their relationship to begin with, and Jungkook's always been very secretive when it came to his personal life. Jungkook has even mentioned that his agency had a manual to handle those kind of questions and that he'd be in huge trouble if he spoke out of script. He knows all of this and rationally, he knows that Jungkook adores him, but why can't he wipe away the bitter and sad feeling inside his gut as he watches Jungkook flirt with his fans?

Jungkook's an idol and he will always remain one to the hundreds of people gathered today. Jimin knows logically that he can't stake claim on his boyfriend, but it still hurts to think it sometimes. But surely, Jungkook will come see him again and tell him how much he's been missed, and things will be alright again, right?

"Do you guys wanna know what kind of girls Jungkook's into?" Jackson asks to the crowd this time, and the fans all scream "YESSS!!" The GOT7 member grins and shoots a glance at Jungkook as if to encourage him to talk. "Come on man, your fans wanna know."

"Well," the singer starts off slowly. "Someone shorter than me-"

"Most of them are!"

"I'm not done!"

"Fine."

"I like someone with a cute smile. Who's nice and caring. Who also likes to dance, just like me."

"Did you hear that ladies?" Jackson asks with a cackle. "Better get dancing! So cute smile, nice and caring and dancing. What else?"

"Not much else," Jungkook replies with a grin, hoping that Jimin knows that he's talking about him. He hates having to lie about being in a relationship with the beautiful man, but he needs to keep this up if he wants to maintain both his career and his relationship. He hopes Jimin understands. In fact, he's sure that Jimin will understand, because the teen had always been so considerate.

The showcase continues, and the last song is the title track to Jungkook's latest album. Fans, who are already familiar with the song, sing along and scream everytime Jungkook lets one of his pelvic thrusts be shown. Jimin knew from the teaser that the performance was going to be edgier and he had been right. Jungkook's hair was a styled mess, his eyes dark and mysterious. He can already hear some girls talking about the singer's insane bedroom eyes.

"Wow, he looks good," Taehyung comments absent-mindedly as he drapes his arm around his friend's shoulders. Jimin nods shyly as the girls behind him start making not-so-innocent comments about how wild Jungkook must be in bed.

After the showcase, the three rappers and Jungkook are taken to the "afterparty" with their managers and other staff members, leaving Jimin, Taehyung and Seokjin to head back to the apartment after dropping Taekwoon off.

"I get the feeling that Joon hyung is going to start getting super busy," Taehyung muses once they enter the apartment. Seokjin nods solemnly, feeling both proud and a little bit disappointed that he won't be seeing much of his boyfriend anymore. He's going to support Namjoon no matter what, but he's going to miss falling asleep with the man right besides him. He knows how his boyfriend can get when it comes to his music, and while he knows that Yoongi and Hoseok will take good care of him, he wishes that he would be the one to do so.

 

 

-

 

 

Jungkook has a day off just before the day of his actual comeback stage, and naturally, he spends it with Jimin. Jimin, as much as he hates it, has to lie to Seokjin hyung and say that he's going off to practice, when in reality, he's meeting the singer at the company dance studio. Jimin arrives at the studio to find Jungkook already inside, and the singer greets the teen by giving him a big hug that leaves Jimin blushing furiously.

"It's so good to finally hug you like this," Jungkook murmurs into the top of the teen's head. He likes that Jimin's visibly shorter than him, because it lets him hold the other man like a giant teddy bear. Jimin feels comforting in his arms like this, and it's as if the stress of weeks of merciless practicing, dieting and getting ready is dissipating as soon as he has Jimin in his arms.

"Did you enjoy the showcase?" Jungkook asks as he finally lets go of Jimin. He still holds onto the teen's hands as he guides them to the corner of the studio that isn't visible from the outside. They sit across from each other, with Jungkook staring into Jimin's eyes as if he's looking at the most stirking thing on the planet.

"It was amazing and you looked amazing," Jimin replies, remembering the noise and heat of the showcase. Although photos and all other recording were not allowed inside, plenty of fans managed to take pictures and videos of the singer and had posted them all over twitter and tumblr. The performance was also broadcasted live through vapp, so naturally, people were already going insane over how amazing Jeon Jungkook looked and performed. The critics were already posting positive reviews about the title track and praised the singer's collaboration with the three rappers. Things were looking great for the singer, and Jimin was undoubtedly proud.

"Thank God, I was hoping you'd like the new look and everything. I was kinda nervous, you know?" Jungkook says after a sigh of relief, and Jimin can't help but be surprised against by Jungkook's insecurities. Jungkook looks good in anything and everything. That was already an established fact, so to think that Jungkook would even worry about Jimin not liking his badboy look..."So, do you really like it?" the singer asks again, back to his bunny smiling self.

"I did. I really did."

"And did you get the part about me telling you my ideal type is you?" the singer asks with a toothy grin, sliding closer to Jimin so that their legs are touching. Jimin blushes. He was hoping that was what the singer was going for during the Q&A, but he hadn't wanted to get his hopes up. Jimin nods in response and Jungkook beams.

"Are you excited for your comeback?" Jimin brings up once he remembers why they're hanging out in the first place.

"As always, I guess so. It's good to be back on stage," Jungkook answers, playing with Jimin's fingers. Jimin instinctively pulls his hand back when Jungkook reaches for his crooked one. Jungkook stops and then wordless takes Jimin's hand again. This time, instead of playing with it, he leans forward and gently kisses the particular finger.

"I like every part of you Park Jimin," he murmurs softly, and Jungkook watches in awe as he reads the honesty in the other man's voice. He still doesn't quite get what about him makes him attractive to one of the most good-looking men in Asia, and a part of him continue to fear Jungkook coming to his senses and tossing his aside. "I think the company's going to make me do a lot of promo in other countries for this album, so I'm going to miss you a lot when I'm abroad," the singer changes the subject when he picks up on the teen's discomfort.

The company was going to go all out with this album and already had the Asia tour planned out in full for the singer. He will be starting in Korea then moving to China, Japan, the Phillippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and even as far as Kazhakstan. Clearly, the list was going to get longer, and there were already dates set for the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico and Brazil. Jungkook was going to be insanely busy since the performances are only a few days apart from each other, and a lot of them are also going to include the three rappers to promote them as well.

Jimin tries not to pout as he listens to Jungkook explain his schedule. Jimin isn't surprised, but it doesn't mean he's sulky about not being able to see Jungkook. For the time being, he's going to have to be satisfied with watching the singer's performances on youtube and vapp.

 


-

 

 

[Interview with CeCi]

CeCi: People have been going crazy over your new look. How do you feel?

JK: I hope it's good crazy (laugh) It was weird at first, because I'm so used to looking clean cut, but now I kind of like it.

CeCi: Congratulations on topping all the charts!

JK: Thank you, Thank you. I'm just so glad to have fans who support me and show me so much love.

CeCi: You created quite a stir by working with three rapper originally from Hongdae. How was it?

JK: It was amazing. I could learn so much from them and I have so much respect for them as artists. They're all brilliant songwriters who aren't afraid of speaking their minds, and I'm sure they're going to be mad at me for saying this, but they're actually super nice and friendly people, despite their badass image, so it was a great experiencing working with the three.

CeCi: Sources tell us J-Hope and Suga were actually your manager and stylist. How did that happen?

JK: I still wonder about it till this day. I had a chance to listen to one of their mixtapes one day, and I just knew they had to be on stage. I think there's a lot of insanely talented people around who just haven't gotten the chance to let it be shown.

CeCi: We hear that you'll be doing a tour around the globe. Not the first time around, right?

JK: Nope. I had the previlage of performing in a lot of the countries during my last album. It's always amazing to meet new people and connect with fans from around the world. I do try to memorize a lot of phrases in different languages, but it's surprisingly hard.

CeCi: Any favorite location?

JK: That's a difficult question (laugh) I mean, I love food, so wherever I can try new things, I'm happy.

CeCi: Speaking of food, did you have to go on a strict diet to create this new look?

JK: I think I naturally lost weight from dancing so much. I lose track of time when I practice.

CeCi: Any goals for this year following the success of this album?

JK: I would be lying if I'm not aiming for a Daesang. But more realistically, I hope to have another concert later this year and hopefully write my own songs for the next album.

CeCi: Wow, songwriter JungKook?

JK: One day. Right now, I'm just learning the basics and writing random lyrics down.

CeCi: What are some things you're inspired by?

JK: Honestly, everything and nothing. I've been playing with the idea of songwriting for some time now, and someone I know really encouraged me to just go with it. Coincidentally, conversations with that same person tend to help me stay inspired.

CeCi: Oh? Can we assume it's a special lady?

JK: (laugh) No, it's actually not a lady. Sorry.

CeCi: Your fans must be glad to hear that. Well, we'll be looking forward to your songs!

JK: Hopefully I won't disappoint anyone!

 

 


-

 

 


[I just arrived at the hotel. My manager is making me memorize a bunch of things in Chinese and I'm sucking it hard.]

"Why are you memorizing Chinese?"

[So I can talk to my fans. I really hope I don't mess up and embarrass myself.]

"They'll love you for trying."

[I hope so. Ah crap, someone's at the door. Hey, I'll call you later OK? I miss you.]

 


-

 


[It's so hot here in Thailand, holy crap. I think I might melt.]

"You better keep yourself hydrated."

[Don't worry about me. You better be eating though. I know you sometimes lose track of meal time when you practice.]

"I promise I'l eat. Three meals a day"

[Good. How's practice? I know a lot of the crew's here with me, but I heard that you guys still have practice going on.]

"Yeah, it's actually really fun. Hopefully I'll be performing with you on the next tour."

[You better. I'm counting on it. Anyway, I should go to sleep. Busy day tomorrow. I miss you Park Jimin.]

 

-

 


[It's already been two weeks since I last saw you. I might die.]

"When are you coming back?"

[I'm not even sure anymore. But I do have another performance scheduled in Seoul and Incheon next Tuesday so I should be stopping by Korea, but I have to fly back to Taipei right after so I don't think I'll be able to see you. Man, this sucks.]

"After all this is over, we can hang out, right?"

[Oh trust me, we'll be hanging out. Have you been watching my performances?]

"Of course."

[Oh good. I know it's not the same thing, but it's kind of like you watching over me. Hey, I have a performance tomorrow that's going to be live on vapp. I'm going to make a heart and that's for you, alright?]

"I don't think a heart goes with your new look."

[Don't care. I'm still doing it and you better watch and make sure you see it.]

"I will."

[That's a promise. Oh man, I gotta go. I miss you.]

"...Me too..."

[This is the first time you said me too.]

"Oh...umm..."

[Maybe one day you'll tell me you miss me first. Anyway, watch the performance, alright? Bye!]

 


-

 

Jimin, as promised, logs onto vapp and waits for the performance to begin. He absent-mindedly looks through the chat log and reads excited comments by fans all across the globe. Soon enough, the screen comes live, with the camera panning across fans screaming and chanting Jungkook's name. Jungkook comes on stage, and the camera zooms in on the singer. Right as the chorus starts, Jungkook smiles at the camera and makes a little heart with his fingers, and Jimin blushes just a little bit at the gesture. So Jungkook had kept his end of the deal after-all. Jimin unconsciously places a hand against his heart. The fluttering sensation inside his chest tickles him in the most pleasant way.

The first song comes to an end, immediately followed by the second song. Towards the end of the dance break, Jungkook frowns and sways for a fraction of a second before regaining composure and dancing again. Jimin think he's seeing things so he opens the chat again and sees that some of the fans picked up on it as well, but it's ignored by the thousands of others gushing over the performance.

Then, in the middle of a line, Jungkook suddenly sways again, and this time, fans definitely notice. The chatroom explodes in concern, as Jimin watches helplessly. Jungkook is clearly not OK. Even from the small screen, Jimin can tell that the singer is struggling to remain upright. Then Jungkook stands completely still, and in a blink of an eye, the singer collapses onto the stage as if he's made out of paper. The MR continues to play in the background, but there's loud commotion from the audience that overwhelms the music. The camera immediately switches to the one overlooking the entire arena and the feed comes to an abrupt end. Jimin almost drops his phone as he processes what had just happened.

He exits the program, paying no mind to the chat log rapidly filling up with fans freaking out just as badly. His fingers are shaky as he holds the phone in his hand. He wants to call someone but who would he call? The three rappers are back in Korea, which means they won't give him any more information that the ones fans are going to post on twitter. He should've known something like this was going to happen. His boyfriend was putting his body under immense stress by traveling nonstop and trying to adjust to new places in a couple of hours before he's due on stage. Not only did he have performances, he had to go on TV shows, do photoshoots for local magazines and engage in interviews.

Jimin knows calling Jungkook isn't going to help. He can only pray and hope for the best as he sends a hurried text to Jungkook asking him to contact him as soon as he can.

Not surprisingly, Jungkook's fan cafe is filled with angry fans demanding the agency do something about the singer's condition and let them know what's going on. News articles go up just as quickly, and even Taehyung calls to ask him if he's heard of the news.

Jimin's mind is going a mile a minute. What if Jungkook had hurt himself badly? Was Jungkook getting any proper medical treatment? Who's taking care of the singer? Will Jungkook be allowed back in Seoul to get some proper rest before picking up where he left off?

It's about 6 hours later that an official post goes up from the company spewing some bullshit about how Jungkook had a difficult time adjusting to the shift in climate and the country's humidity and heat. They claimed that Jungkook's awake and recovered, but Jimin knows they must be lying, since he's not getting any text from the singer. The fans aren't at all pleased and demand that they bring Jungkook back to give him some rest.

Jimin spends the rest of the night holding onto his phone, hoping that Jungkook will at least tell him that he's awake now. The teen doesn't hear back from the singer until the next day, when Jungkook explains that he received emergency care backstage and slept through the night back at the hotel.

[I'm sorry, did I freak you out?]

"Why would you even be apologizing...are you sure you're OK? Is the company letting you come back to Korea?"

[Nah...but they did cancel today's performance. I think they are going to reschedule it for some other time but go ahead with the schedule tomorrow in Malaysia.]

"They're still making you go to Malaysia?" Jimin shouts into his phone incredulously, suddenly overcome with rage at how the company is mistreating his boyfriend. Jungkook had fainted on stage, yet they are making him sing and dance again in Malaysia, where it's equally hot and humid. He hates how the company only cares about raking in the big bucks, not willing to invest a little money or time to send Jungkook to a proper hospital.

[Yeah...well I can't disappoint my fans. Besides, I promise I'll be alright. I just need to be a bit more careful.] Jimin sighs at the hint of determination in his boyfriend's voice. He knows that he doesn't have the power to change Jungkook's mind or to persuade the company to rethink their decision, so he sits still, a strong wave of disappointment, concern and frustration washing over him.

"Hyung...." he lets out, not knowing what else to say.

[Although I'd be a lot better if you were around to take care of me.]

"I wish I could," Jimin says honestly. He hates that he can't be on the tour with the singer. At least he'd be able to sneak food in or water when no one else is.

[Hey, I need to go but...I miss you, you know that right?]

"Yeah....and I miss you too."

[See? I'm feeling better already just listening to you tell me that.]

 


-

 


A few minutes later, there's an Instagram update of Jungkook apologizing to his fans for the incident, with a selfie of him smiling with a thumbs up attached.

 


-

 

 


A few minutes later, there's an instagram update of Jungkook apologizing to his fans for the incident, with a selfie of him smiling with a thumbs up attached.


-

 

The Asia tour comes to an eventual end, and Jungkook pulls through till the end of all the planned performances, despite fans' protesting against the company. He remain professional till the very last stage and nearly collapses on his way down the stage. He will now fly back to Korea for a couple of weeks before going to the US and Canada to participate in k-pop concerts. His bones feel like straws as he barely manages to make it back to the hotel. His new manager is sympathetic and tells him to get some rest before flying out. As for Jungkook, he can't wait till he's back in Seoul where he can see Jimin again.

Incheon International Airport is crowded with fans waiting for Jungkook's arrival, and the singer struggles alongside bodyguards to make it safely to the van. He appreciates his fans, but he's too tired to even walk, and by the time he's inside the car, it feels as if his entire body is bruised. Once he's back at the apartment and the manager is off to the company building to report a couple of things, Jungkook's on the phone dialling Jimin's number. When the teen doesn't pick up, Jungkook checks the time and rolls his eyes at his own stupidity for calling when Jimin must still be in class. The singer takes this time to quickly pull Jimin's gift out of his luggage and put them into his pocket. He's quite proud that he's managed to get his boyfriend something despite his hectic schedule, and he's a bit aware of his cheesiness, but he notes Jimin likes it.

Jimin texts him a bit later, telling him that he's almost done with school. Jungkook fights the urge to take his car straight to his boyfriend's school and instead asks Jimin to meet him in the parking lot again. The teen tells the singer to rest up for the day, but the older man refuses to listen. He needs to see Jimin, and he needs to see him now.

They do eventually meet in the parking lot again, and Jungkook wordless pulls Jimin into a tight embrace as soon as the teen's inside the car. Jimin blinks owlishly as Jungkook inhales slowly and then exhales loudly before pulling back slightly so that their noses are almost touching. Jimin swallows visibly and musters enough courage to touch Jungkook's cheeks with his fingertips.

"You got even skinnier," Jimin murmurs quietly, tracing his fingers against the contours of the man's sunken cheeks.

"Is that really the first thing out of your mouth after not seeing me for weeks?" Jungkook says teasingly as he catches Jimin's hands. "Oh, before I forget, we should take a picture together. You never send me any selfies and I think I need a few pictures of you to take with me to America."

Jimin grimaces at the idea of taking his pictures taken. He's never taken a selfie, because he's never quite liked the way he looked. His eyes were tiny, his nose too small and blunt and his mouth too big for his frame. He doesn't want Jungkook taking a picture of themselves and realize just how unattractive he is when compared to the singer. However, the excitement in the older man's eyes renders him speechless.

"Here, come closer," Jungkook says as he turns the camera on. "Closer, Jimin."

"Li-like this?"

"Yup. Now on the count of three, three, two-"

Jungkook snaps a picture of himself grinning widely and Jimin looking as if he's been told that an axe murderer is coming to get him. Jungkook barks out a laughter and then demands that they take another one, because this picture makes him look as if he's kidnapped Jimin.

"Come on, like boyfriends do!"

"Ummm.." Jimin fidgets and forces his lips to curl into a semblance of a smile. Jungkook takes another one and then laughs.

"Little better but you need to relax. It's just a selfie, Jimin-ah."

"Oh...okay..."

"Now, again, on the count of three. Three, two-"

This time, Jungkook turns around on one and kisses Jimin on the cheeks. In that split moment, the picture is taken, and Jimin is left blushing beet red at the image of Jungkook's lip on his cheek and he himself staring at the lense with his eyes wide open in shock.

"Yeah, this is more like it!" Jungkook yells out with a satisfactory smirk. "Look how adorable you look in this photo. Here, I'll send it to you."

"Oh...aren't you going to erase the other ones...?"

"Why would I?"

"Please erase em...they're horrible..."

"I promise to erase the first two if we take a picture with you kissing my cheek this time," Jungkook sing-songs playfully, waving his phone around with his trademark toothy grin. He's surprised when Jimin actually nods to the proposal, because his sole intention had been to tease Jimin until he blushes again.

"You're really gonna do it?" Jungkook asks slackjawed. He's come to realize already that expression his emotions isn't Jimin's forte. And he had been fine with it. He was OK being the one to tell Jimin how much he misses him or sending kissy emoticons and selfies or initiating any physical contact. However, Jimin was offering to kiss his cheek, whether as a byproduct of harmless teasing or not, and he'd have to be an idiot to pass up on it.

"Unless you...you don't want to?"

Wordlessly, Jungkook turns his camera again and juts his cheek out expectantly. Jimin bites his lower lip nervously before leaning towards the singer and gently pressing his lips against his boyfriend's soft cheek. Jungkook's finger twitches as he captures the moment, and just as quickly, Jimin pulls back, his cheeks flushed scarlet. The point of contact feels hot to Jungkook, and he can't understand for the life of him why everything seems so amplified when it comes to Jimin. Jungkook's held hands and kissed people while filming for his MVs and drama series, and none of them made his heart beat both too quickly and too slowly like this.

"I uh....I got you some things," Jungkook clears his throat and begins when the silence stretches on. He reaches for the small gift in his pocket. "It's nothing fancy but..." Jungkook pulls out a small box. "I saw this while walking around one of the markets in Malaysia for a photoshoot, and I just had to get it for you," he continues as he opens the box and reveals a simple silver band with embedded crystals to one side that create an illusion of the night sky and stars. "I know it's a bit lame but... I remember you telling me your name meant something like reaching for the sky with wisdom and...I couldn't get the wisdom part in, but I got the sky part at least, right?"

Jimin watches as Jungkook slides the ring onto the crooked fourth finger. "And now I want you to think about how much I think about you everytime you look at this finger," the singer finishes and kisses Jimin on the nose before pulling back. Jimin wants to say something. He wants to thank Jungkook for the gifts and the beautiful ring. He has so many things he wants to say, but instead, he's just staring at the ring like a complete idiot.

"You're welcome," Jungkook says, as if he's reading Jimin's mind, and for the first time, Jimin starts believing that they do in fact belong together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"So how's it going with Mr. Kpop sensation?" Taehyung asks one day as he idly plays with his phone on Jimin's bed. Surprisingly, Taehyung hadn't brought the singer up until now, minus that one time the singer fainted so publicly. Jimin's sincerely thankful that Taehyung hadn't mentioned their relationship to Seokjin or Namjoon, despite how difficult it must be to keep a secret from either of them.

"We're doing...well," Jimin answers as he writes the answer down to one of the equations from his math homework. Now that he didn't have to worry so much about his father beating him into a pulp and now that he had a study buddy (plus tutoring from Taekwoon or Namjoon), doing homework had become a lot easier and his grades were improving as well. He knows he's being dramatic, but seeing the positive changes in all subjects had him swelling with an indescribable sense of pride. His father would always tell him that he was just born stupid and nothing could be done to change that, but now he's finally able to prove the man wrong.

"I see that he already put a ring on it," Taehyung muses playfully, snapping Jimin out of his thoughts. Jimin looks up and finds Taehyung wiggling his eyebrows at him. Jimin blushes and takes a peek at the silver band. "So what's it like, dating someone so famous?" the taller teen continues, stretching his legs around.

"Not sure...sometimes, I forget that he's an idol, sometimes I forget that he's my boyfriend," Jimin answers honestly. It's an ongoing struggle to blur the line between Jeon Jungkook the singer and Jeon Jungkook his boyfried, and he's not sure when he'll exactly be able to completely see Jungkook as someone outside the spotlight.

"But things are going well, right?" Taehyung asks softly, watching his friend's reaction to the question. It's no big secret that he doesn't exactly approve of his friend's relationship, because he can't brush off the thought that nothing good can possibly come from dating an idol. He's sworn to protect Jimin, and nothing is going to hold him back as soon as he so much as sniffs one wrong move from Jungkook.

"I think so," Jimin replies with a slight smile, and Taehyung inwardly sighs in relief.

"Do you even get to see him around much? I know sometimes you say you're out to practice and then come home all blushing and not at all sweaty, so I'm guessing that's when you go see him. Where do you guys even hang out?"

"....Am I really that obvious?"

"To me, you are. Since I'm the only one who knows. Hyung's too busy fretting over Namjoon to keep up with what you're up to, I guess." Seokjin has indeed been a bit of a mother hen over Namjoon every time he stops by Korea. The company was quite adamant about promoting the three rappers every opportunity they got, and while Seokjin appreciates the effort, Jungkook fainting on stage made him reevaluate how he feels about the agency.

"Joon hyung's getting really popular."

"Yeah, he is. I think hyung's freaking out a little about it though."

"How come?"

"Well...for starters, I think he'll always be afraid of our father recognizing him and doing something out of spite. Then there's always that worry of their relationship being found out," Taehyung answers thoughtfully. He knows that the latter must apply to Jungkook as well and that Jimin must be aware of the possibility as well.

"...Do you think your father would do something about it?" Jimin asks carefully. Taehyung had spoken of his father's nature a couple times after the initial confession, and the teen had come to realize how much he should fear the man. He wants both Seokjin and Namjoon to have a happily ever after, and he gets the feeling that Taehyung's father meddling will end disasterously for anyone involved.

"Probably not, only because he would normally not give a rat's ass about any idols or singers or actors or whatever...but even if he did know, I doubt he'd link it back to hyung. He's got other important things to do...probably."

Jimin sincrely hopes so.

"So," Taehyung continues once the silence stretches on. "What do you guys even do? I'm guessing you guys aren't stupid enough to things in public."

"We usually just hang out in the company building. Just a lot of talking, I guess. Plus, he's so busy now, we hardly have the time to text or call each other," Jimin answers ruefully, sulking over the fact that he can't spend time with his boyfriend. He doesn't vocalize the particular sentiment to Jungkook though. He knows the singer is crazily busy and doesn't want to come off as a clingy, whiny boyfriend, and he also understands that Jungkook's doing the best he can given the circumstances.

"He hasn't...touched you yet, has he?" Taehyung asks with narrowed eyed, propping himself up on his elbows. Jimin throws him a confused look, which has Taehyung rolling his eyes dramatically. "Sex, Jimin. Have you guys had sex or not?"

"Oh god no, what the hell, Tae!" Jimin yelps with a furious blush. The teen's come to see that Jungkook's surprisingly touchy and will constantly hold hands, hug him or play with his cheeks, but that's where the singer drew the invisible line. Jungkook hadn't made any move to be sexually involved, and Jimin hadn't questioned why, because he had no idea what was considered a "normal pace" for a relationship.

"OK good, because as much as I support actively engaging in coitus under consent-"

"Coitus, really?"

"-we're still underaged and that man better have some respect for that kind of shit. But when you graduate, you can get all the dicking you want. Or give. You still haven't disclosed if you're top or bottom."

Jimin groans into his hands and then shoots his friend a pointed look. "Are you my mom?" Taehyung returns the remark with a boxy grin before going off about how they should go condom shopping together when Jimin is of age and decides he wants to get "frisky in bed." Jimin makes a mental note to never do that.

 

 


-

 

 

 


"Miss us?"

Jungkook looks up from his phone and sees Hoseok standing with his arms wide open. Yoongi is right behind him, dressed in a plain grey hoodie and a pair of tattered jeans. From the looks of it, the man seems to have just crawled out of the studio after a 24 hour songwriting session.

"Nah, it's good having peace around when I get ready," Jungkook counters playfully and laughs when Hoseok puts him in a headlock.

"Say it! Say I was the best manager ever!"

"Fine! Fine! You were! Get off of me!" Jungkook squeals as he slaps the other man's arm when the grip becomes tighter. "What bring you guys here?" he asks as he massages his neck once the older man lets go.

"We heard you were in the building and decided to drop by to say hi," Hoseok explains as he plops onto the empty lot besides the singer. "What brings you here anyway? Don't you have like a million performances this week?"

Jungkook watches Yoongi yawn and turn himself into a lifeless heap besides Hoseok.

"Today I just have a photoshoot and a fansign later. Yoongi hyung looks like death."

"Don't mind him," Hoseok says with a roll of his eyes. "This guy's like a songwriting zombie. He won't stop until I physically drag his ass out."

Yoongi surprisingly makes an effort to kick Hoseok squarely in the shin. Hoseok yelps and nurses his what must be now bruised leg and throws the blond man a resentful look.

"You feeling alright?" Yoongi asks gruffly from where he's still crumpled into a motionless heap. "You fainted." Both Hoseok and Yoongi heard about the incident a couple of hours late. They had been recording and had no access to their phones. Only when they went outside the studio to get some fresh air did they find some employees running around in panic mentioning Jungkook's name. Yoongi had been furious that the agency had driven Jungkook to actually pass out, because he knows Jungkook. The kid was made of steele and could endure hours of dancing on zero calories and do this for days, all with a smile on his face. Yet, they made it so that even Jungkook fainted on live stage, and it had driven Yoongi into blinding rage. Hoseok, however, held him back from taking it up with the agency, but explaining that shit will only go worse for Jungkook if they intervene.

"That was ages ago."

"I'm pretty sure that was only like a week ago," Hoseok counters sternly. He had called up Minwoo as the former manager and gave the man an earful about how he should be more careful with Jungkook's health. As much as he loves pursuing his own music career, he hates Jungkook taking a downward spiral as soon as he's relieved of his past duty. He somewhat still feels responsible for the younger man, not only as the former manager, but because he genuinely likes Jungkook as a precious dongsaeng.

"I promise I'm perfectly fine. Which reminds me, how's your album coming along?"

"I think we're on the right track," Hoseok answers with a quick stretch of his legs. "Namjoon's been slaving over it too. He's all fired up, it's kinda insane. Which reminds me, we're all going to head over to Joon's house for dinner. Tae wanted me to invite you but, I'm guessing you're gonna be busy huh."

"Yeah...I probably won't finish till super late."

"Hey Hoshit," Yoongi calls out suddenly, drawing both men's attention. "Get me something to drink."

"Why don't you get it on your own, asshole."

"'Cause you dragged me out here and now I can't walk until you give me something to drink."

"God, you're such a princess."

"Say that again and see what happens."

"You're a bitch," Hoseok complains with a roll of his eyes before he stands up and leaves the room. As soon as the former manager is out the room, Yoongi is perfectly upright, his eyes sharp and narrowed. Jungkook should've seen this coming. The blond man very rarely bosses people around, even if it's his best friend Hoseok.

"Tell me you're not involved with Jimin," Yoongi hisses, looking every bit like a stern father. Jungkook is once again split between feeling annoyed and scared.

"What are you even on about."

"We already established you have a massive crush on the kid, and now that I know he's one of your dancers, you better not be starting funny business. You've worked way too hard to be ruining your career."

"What-"

"Just say it. Tell me that you're not involved with Park Jimin."

"I'm not," Jungkook lies through his teeth. He knows that being a good liar isn't exactly a stellar quality, but boy is he glad that he's been trained to do it. He can't have Yoongi finding out, because he knows there's no room for persuasion. He can probably persuade Hoseok to keep it quiet or talk him into making him accept their relationship, but Min Yoongi? No way.

He's just going to have to be extra careful and hope that his lying stays persuasive.

 

 


-

 

 

 


Two days before Jungkook's scheduled to fly to America, one of the dancers breaks his leg as a result of a biking accident. Hakyeon, after much consideration, decides to replace the particular dancer with Jimin. Jimin's over the moon with the fact that he'll finally be touring with the singer and even get a chance to travel abroad, and Jungkook finds the excitement absolutely adorable. Seokjin contacts the school to inform them Jimin won't be attending class for personal reasons, and the school doesn't even check to see if Seokjin's the teen's legal guardian or not.

The night before, Jimin's practically vibrating in bed, and Taehyung laughs at him. The next day, the dancers are all gathered at Incheon airport to take an early flight out by themselves, since Jungkook won't be joining them till later. Jimin sits besides Yongguk, who finds it hilarious that the small teen is gripping onto the chair with sweaty palms as the plane takes off.

"I've never been on a plane," Jimin admits as he calms down and chews on a bag of peanuts.

"Yeah? Better get used to it. You'll be doing a lot of it when you tour with Jungkook," Yongguk says with a grin and hands the teen his packet when Jimin stares at his own empty bag longingly. Jimin had become the adorable maknae of the group everyone loves, and even Jay, who's quite critical when it comes to new dancers, treated the teenager with unprecedented civility.

"I can't believe we still have over 9 hours left," Seunghoon grumbles from next to Yongguk, furiously tapping his index finger against the screen in front of him. He loves dancing and touring, but he hates being cooped up in planes for hours on end. Going to other Asian countries is somewhat bearable, but America was way too far.

"Stop whining. Even Jimin here isn't complaining," Yongguk scolds with a teasing grin and then ruffles Jimin's hair.

"That's cause Jimin's nice. I'm not. Oh yeah, I've been meaning to ask, how do you know Jungkook? I heard he's the one who introduced you to Hakyeon hyung."

"Oh...some hyungs I know are friends with hyungs he knows."

"Ohhh, man, we used to joke around that you guys must be dating 'cause he's always calling Hakyeon hyung to ask if you're doing alright," Seunghoon says and then chuckles at the memory. He's seen Jungkook enough to know that the singer remains quite professional with all of the dancers, but the man was exceptionally caring and attentive when it came to the teen. Later, he comes to realize that Jimin just brings that particular trait out of everyone. Hell, even he keeps on eye on Jimin to make sure that he's doing alright throughout their practices.

"Da-dating?"

"Relax, we're only joking around. I know you guys aren't," Yongguk comforts with a smile, but there is a lump in Jimin's throat now.

 

 


-

 

 

Jimin's freaking out quite badly as he watches the stadium from where he's standing. He, along rest of the dance crew is already standing on stage in their casual attire, getting ready for the rehearsal to start. Yongguk and Jay are playfully punching and kicking each other, while Seunghoon complains about how they didn't get to eat a nice burger before the rehearsal.

"Alright, we'll get started!" One of the staff members shouts once they're finished adjusting all the equipments. Jimin swallows visibly and then inhales and exhales slowly just as Jungkook had taught him.

"Relax, kid. You'll be fine. Just as we practiced," Yongguk says from besides him. Jimin attempts a weak smile and then gets into position. The song begins, and Jimin focuses on just his arms and legs. He can't mess up, not when it's Jungkook's stage he'll be performing on. By the first chorus, Jimin is a lot more relaxed and is dancing alongside the rest of the crew with zero problem. Some of the members pat him on the back for doing so well, and they wait for Jungkook to arrive to rehearse with him. About half an hour later, Jungkook's running onto the stage, dressed in a simple white tee and a pair of jeans. The singer catches a glimpse of his boyfriend and shoots him a quick wink before going to the center of the stage.

The rehearsal goes perfectly. Everyone's happy, and now Jungkook is dragged away to get his makeup done. The sun slowly sets as the concert begins. A few of the newer idol groups perform as fans gathered from America and rest of the world cheer. GOT7 performs, followed by Sistar. Jimin watches from where the crew is on standby and he marvels at how people run and shout between performances to make sure everything is going smoothly. It's their turn now, and Jimin jumps when Jungkook gives his hand a quick squeeze as he passes by. Jimin glances at his hand and smiles softly at the ring on his finger. He's ready. This is the first time he'll be performing on stage. He can do this.

Jimin hadn't quite realized how blinding and hot spotlights are until he's standing in it. He can vaguely make out the sea of people in front of him, all screaming Jungkook's name. There are blinking lights and cameras, and frankly it's all a giant chaos, yet Jungkook looks completely at ease. Jungkook shoots Jimin one final glance before the song begins. Jimin blocks out the crowd and the chants. He pretends the spotlights aren't there. It's just him and Jungkook dancing. Two songs later, he's being rushed off the stage with the rest of the crew, and Jimin finds himself standing in the hallway in a mild state of daze.

"Good job everyone!" Jay says with a clap, being the standin for Hakyeon when the man's not around. "Now we can finally get something to eat." All members cheer as they move past staff members, other dancers and EXO members, who are due on stage now. Jimin looks around and then sighs when he can't spot Jungkook anywhere. He figures Jungkook's probably being taken to his room.

"Jimin? You alright?" Jay asks when Jimin is looking around as if searching for something. The teen jumps at his name and then nods, making a mental note to himself to maybe not make his association with the singer so obvious. "OK, food time. We should let maknae decide."

"....Me?"

"Yeah you. Come on, we're in America, we can have anything we want, so what will it be?"

"I....I did hear about American burgers being good..."

"Say no more, good man!" Jay puts his arms up and then usher everyone out the hallways and out the building. Yongguk fills Jimin in and explains that there's a burger joint they stumbled across the last time they performed in LA. Jimin asks if they're going to at least change before they go and informs that he's not carrying his wallet with him. The other dancer ruffles his hair and tells him not to worry about it, because Jay's got it covered using the company card.

 

 

-

 

 

 

"Jungkook!"

The singer turns around to find Sehun from EXO waving at him. The two had first met soon after debut and somehow hit it off quite well. They were both incredibly busy, so it was hard to find the time to hang out, but they always ended up meeting at any kind of k-pop concerts both in Korea and abroad.

"Hey man, great performance," Jungkook says, raising his hand for a high five. Sehun meets him halfway and then drapes an arm around the solo singer.

"You flying out tomorrow?" Sehun asks and then waves when Kyungsoo aka D.O. walks by with a curious look.

"Nah. Tomorrow, I have a photoshoot. I'll fly out the day after."

"Where you off to?"

"New York."

"Haha, oh shit, already? But the Kcon concert isn't till...a couple of weeks, right?"

"We're doing another photoshoot and a couple of fan signs beforehand."

"Busy as always. But then again, we have to fly to Japan tomorrow and then go straight to New York after doing a small tour there. What you doing tonight?"

"Probably eat something. And then sleep. I need sleep."

"I know how that feels. Hey, wanna join us for a quick meal out?" Sehun asks as he watches Mamamoo scrurry past them while laughing at something one of them must've said.

"Wow, you're going to venture out into k-town right after this concert? Your managers OK with that?"

"Who said we're going to k-town. Come on, I know you don't have anything better to do."

"You dick."

"Managers let us eat whatever the hell we want only when we're in LA. Plus, everyone wants to see you." EXO and Jungkook were two of the hottest brands in k-pop right now, so it wasn't a surprise that they would continuously run into each other and become familiar with one another.

"Fine, fine, let me at least take all this makeup off."

"Don't be annoying and just come. We basically rented a place for everyone so it's not like anyone's gonna see you. Let's go, we're gonna head out now," Sehun explains and Jungkook suddenly remembers that an EXO meal after performance usually signifies all the members, plus four managers, a string of stylists and a whole army of other staff members who tag along. It usually ended up with the group renting out an entire restaurant instead of bothering to find a place that would seat over 40 people at once.

"Man, I hate you."

 

 

-

 

 


Jimin gets a text from Jungkook about half an hour after he's back in the hotel. The crew had wanted to hit up a bar while they were in LA, and Jimin stayed back, being the only underaged member in the group. Jay volunteered to bring the party back to the hotel, but he politely declined, because he wouldn't know what to do with a bunch of drunk hyungs to begin with.

Jungkook's asking where Jimin is, so the teen explains the situation and answers that he's back in his room. The singer then asks if Jimin's willing to come to his hotel room to hang out. Jimin quickly checks his hair, which hasn't dried yet from the shower, and puts on a thin hoodie before heading out the room. He looks around to make sure that no one is around before he knocks and is taken inside of Jungkook's room. Surprisingly, Jungkook isn't staying in one of the more expensive rooms, and Jimin's glad to see that Jungkook at least had a chance to wash all the makeup and sweat off.

"How're you feeling, Jimin? I never had a chance to really talk to you since arriving here," Jungkook says ruefully as he takes Jimin's hand. They make their way to the plush bed and lie comfortably on it.

"LA is so nice! We went to this burger place and it was the best thing I've ever had, I swear. Americans must be so happy they can eat stuff like that all the time," Jimin answers cheerfully, remembering the experience. Jungkook laughs besides him.

"Did you get a chance to look around?"

"A little bit. The city's so big though."

"That's true. It's a shame you didn't get to see much of it, but if it's any consolation, I don't get to see much of it either. Maybe one day we'll come back here and be tourists together."

"Really?"

"Yeah really. I've been to so many countries, but I want to see them again with you."

Jimin blushes and tries to hide his face into the pillow he's hugging. Jungkook barks out a laughter and then pulls Jimin's arms off so that he can see his boyfriend's reddening face.

"You know, when are you ever going to stop being so shy around me?" Jungkook asks playfully as he shifts his body so that they're mere inches apart. Jimin squirms and tries to move back but is held in place by the much stronger older man. "I don't get to see you enough as is. Please don't hide your face." Jimin nods slowly and lets his boyfriend cup his cheeks. "This is nice."

"What is?"

"Just being here with you on tour. Being able to touch you like this and look at you. Usually, it's just me bumming by myself in my room." Jungkook, on a number of occasions, had envied boy groups, because they seem to have so much more fun even when they're sleep deprived and being hurried from A to B. They always have someone to talk to or play with during standbys, and Jungkook had always thought it would be nice to have someone like that around. "You actually wear this ring around," Jungkook continues as he traces an index finger around the ring on Jimin's finger.

"...Should I not be?" Jimin asks self-consiously as he lets Jungkook play with his hand. He wonders if he should've left the ring back in Korea.

"No, no. I'm glad you wear it around," the singer answers with a grin as he sits up on the bed to look for the remote. "Since we're here, wanna watch a movie or something? We're free to go through everything in the fridge and basically anything in the room."

"Would you like anything?"

"You know what? Let's just grab everything and bring it to bed and we'll start from there. I probably shouldn't say this, but I'm kinda glad I passed out on stage that one time, because now the company isn't on my ass too much about staying away from food. And considering the concert today, I think I deserve this, don't you?" Jungkook asks playfully, gathering all the chocolate, gummy bears and nuts from one of the shelves. Jimin nods with a soft smile and then goes for the fridge to take out all the drinks. He plays with the small bottles of alcohol, not sure if Jungkook's up for drinking tonight or not.

"I think a can of beer is fine," Jungkook calls out from the bed, where he's putting down all the snack. He plays with the remote and scrolls through his movie options. Jimin returns to the bed as well and sits besides the singer, a few inches between them. Jungkook shoots his boyfriend a quick look before shifting his body so that they're now touching. Jungkook takes one of Jimin's hand and uses the other hand to continue to find a movie to watch. They eventually land on Guardians of the Galaxy, and they chat lightly about how adorable the Groot is and laugh at the jokes while snacking on the hotel's amenities.

Jimin feels sudden weight on his shoulder, so he looks over and see that the singer has fallen asleep. Jimin stills, not sure what he's supposed to do. He waits and waits for Jungkook to wake up, but when it doesn't happen, Jimin relaxes a little bit. He decides that it would be best to put Jungkook into a comfortable lying position before the singer wakes up to a bad neck.

Jimin squirms slowly and moves away while holding Jungkook's head still. He finds it incredibly difficult to move the singer into a comfortable sleeping position, given their weight difference. Once Jungkook's lying flat, Jimin picks up empty wrappers and place them swiftly into the bin before sitting next to the singer in bed. He knows he should probably see himself out, but he wants to spend a little bit more time with his boyfriend.

So Jimin lets the movie run as Jungkook breathes evenly besides him, and he can't help but think how tired Jungkook must've been. Once the movie comes to an end, Jimin turns the TV off and dares to brush a few loose locks of Jungkook's hair back. It's strange to see Jungkook sleeping so defenselessly, without a trace of makeup on his face. Jimin smiles fondly and then gives Jungkook's still hand a quick squeeze before walking out the room.

 

 


-

 

 

 

New York is considerably less eventful for Jimin in terms of his interaction with his boyfriend. The singer is constantly off to photoshoots and small fansign events held for fans in New York, while Jimin and the rest of the crew keep themselves busy by practicing with a couple of choreographers stationed in New York. Jimin's over the moon with being able to work with some of the big names in the industry, thanks to Hakyeon who organized the entire thing.

The concert goes well, as expected, and Jimin starts to feel a lot more comfortable with being on stage and coping with the hectic atmosphere associated with it. They're due back in Korea now, and as much as loves being abroad and being given the opportunity to do what he likes, he misses being back at home. He misses Seokjin's cooking and misses being lazy in his room while talking to Taehyung.


Jungkook and his entourage decide that they should finish up their short "tour" in America with a bang and decides to all go out for late dinner together. Jimin marvels at the dimly lit pub-styled diner, complete with savory appetizers, cheesy main dishes and fries that makes Jimin want to cry. He nibbles on the cheesestick that has now gotten cold as he watches some of the crew members chug beer. Truthfully, he still feels uneasy when it comes to being around alcohol, and Seokjin and Namjoon had gratefully made the apartment an alcohol-free zone for his sake, but he forces a smile, because he doesn't want people asking questions. Jimin glances nervously at Jungkook, who stops after half a bottle of beer in fear of bloating (he's not done with his album promotion yet), and the singer shoots him a quick wink when no one is watching.

The place is quite crowded, even when not taking into consideration Jungkook's sizeable entourage. Jimin eventually finds their presence overwhelming and decides to take a short trip to the bathroom to wash his hands and just find some peace. Jimin doesn't spend too much time in the small bathroom, because again, he doesn't want to draw attention to himself. When he does leave, he bumps into someone who says "excuse me" in English. Jimin looks up and finds himself standing in front of a towering black man who's saying something to him in rapid English he can't understand.

Jimin holds his hands up and stutters out a "sorry, no English." The man in front of him lets out a good-natured laugh and then starts speaking a lot more slowly. Jimin picks out the word name, so he answers "Ji-Jimin." The man extends a hand with a "Tony," which Jimin takes hesitantly.

"You with friends?" Tony asks with a quirk of an eyebrow.

"Friends? Oh...yes, friends," Jimin answers in English, pointing at the tables currently occupied by the dance crew.

"Oh! You live here?"

Live here. Jimin knows that one. "No, no, Korea."

"I've heard a lot about Seoul. You from Seoul?"

"Seoul? Yes."

"That's cool. How long are you staying here for?"

Jimin gives Tony a blank look. The man was speaking too quickly for him again. "Ah," Tony begins again with realization. "How many days are you staying in New York?" he asks slowly, using his hands for emphasis.

"Oh! Tomorrow, I go."

"Aww, that sucks. Was just thinking you're real cute, you know?" the much taller man says with a wink, and Jimin fidgets from where he's standing, because he only understood the word "cute" and is not wondering why this stranger is winking at him.

"C-cute?"

"Yeah, you're really cute."

"T-thank you," Jimin answers uncertainly when Tony points a finger at him with the word cute. He wonders if Americans just find him cute because he's so small. Afterall, this man in front of him looks like a pro basketball player with his height. Jimin's about to come up with some kind of an excuse to get himself out of this situation when he feels a strong hand on his wrist. He jumps and looks around to find Jungkook staring sternly at Tony, his lips pursed into a thin line.

"Oh," Tony lets out once he takes in Jungkook's challenging eyes and the way he's now pulling Jimin back towards him. "Oh shit, I didn't know he was taken, man," Tony continues with his hands up in surrender and a still friendly smile on his face.

"He's with me," Jungkook grits out and then tugs at Jimin, pulling him away from Tony. Jimin blinks in confusion at Jungkook's tone of voice but lets his boyfriend take him away back towards the bathroom.

"You OK?" Jungkook asks as soon as they're a good distance away from Tony. Jimin nods, wishing he had understood their conversation. "Be careful around strangers in New York, alright?"

"Oh...what did he want?" Jimin asks timidly and watches as Jungkook lets go of his wrist.

"He was hitting on you."

"....me? Are you sure? There's no way-"

"Why would you think that?" Jungkook asks, his tone perhaps a bit sharper than what Jimin's used to. "Jimin, anyone would be lucky to have you, and frankly I don't know how I got so lucky, so can you please be more careful?" Jungkook continues, raking his fingers through his fair with a frustrated huff.

"Okay..." Jimin answers timidly, taking a step back. Jungkook sighs, knowing he messed up. He shouldn't have let his frustration and insecruties out on his boyfriend.

"I'm sorry, I just got frustrated. I get scared, Jimin. I get scared that you're going to get sick of all this hiding and find someone else," Jungkook explains honestly, leaning against the wall covered in old posters and flyers. The particular thought had always plagued him from day 1 of their relationship. Jimin hadn't mentioned anything about it to him, but Jungkook isn't stupid. He knows how much it must be straining for Jimin as well to have to keep everything such a tightly-kept secret. Hell, he wouldn't even blame Jimin if the teen grew tired of it and breaks if off without so much as a warning.

Then he sees some guy hitting on Jimin so publicly (it's New York, he gets it), and it just makes everything so much worse. Jimin doesn't see him (he has no idea why), but Jimin naturally attracts people. He's not a person of conventional beauty, but Park Jimin is adorable and mesmerizing in the way he smiles, with eyes that are both expressive and beautiful, and Jungkook would have to be foolish to think that other people aren't going to want Jimin as well. Hell, he can think up of one particular asshole back in Korea who would love to take Jimin out on a date.

"You...you're scared of me leaving you?" Jimin asks uncertainly and watches in disbelief as his boyfriend nods. "But...I'm always scared that you'll find someone more...you."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not...rich or famous like you. I'm not as good-looking or special...yet you chose to be with me, and I worry about how you'll come to realize you want better..." Jimin answers truthful, eventhough it hurts to say the words out loud.

"We're both kinda silly, huh?" Jungkook says after a moment of silence with a lop-sided grin as he taps the wall behind him. "We both worry about the dumbest things. See? We're perfect for each other," he forces out a joke and brightens up when Jimin lets out a genuine laugh.

"Yeah, maybe we are..."

"Maybe it's about time we both stop thinking like that."

"Yeah, maybe it is..."

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

 

Jungkook is given a few days off to recover as soon as he lands in Korea, and while he does sleep through the first one, he gladly spends the next one with Jimin. They drive off to the same secluded area near Han River.

"Did you get over your jet lag alright?" Jungkook asks as he plays with a small twig, rolling it between his fingers. "It can get a bit tough."

"Not going to lie...I keep wanting to fall asleep in the middle of the day," Jimin says with a twinkling laugh. It was rough trying to pay attention to class when all he wanted was to just crawl into his bed, but lucky for him, Taehyung wrote down enough notes for the both of them. "How do you deal with it?"

"Usually I'm so tired all the time, I have no troubling falling asleep whenever given the chance, but sometimes I have to take sleeping pills. Not too fond of it, but it gets the job done."

"Isn't that stuff dangerous?"

"It is if you take too much of it too often. I've heard about a couple of celebrities addicted to it and it's ugly. I try not to go down that path."

"Promise me you'll be careful?"

"I promise. Plus, when I can't sleep, I can just listen to your voice on the phone to help me relax," Jungkook says as he taps the tip of his boyfriend's nose. Jimin giggles and leans against the older man. "I was thinking..." Jungkook continues quietly once everything goes silent again. "I feel like I don't know that much about you, like what stuff you like, what you hate, your goals in life or whatever, you know?" he finishes with a small frown.

Jimin doesn't talk much. That was already settled, and the singer had no intention of prying information out of the smaller man. However, the more he got to spend time with Jimin, the more he wanted to know about the teen.

Jimin listens to his boyfriend's words with his head hung low. He had been ignoring it until now, but he can't deny that he hadn't shared any of his personal life with Jungkook while the singer talked about his fears and goals in life so readily. He's afraid. That's what it is. He's afraid that Jungkook would come to the realization that he's a loser like everyone at school says he is, even though they already talked about it in New York.

Just at that moment, Jungkook reaches out and takes his hand and gives a gentle squeeze, and it gives Jimin just enough courage to speak.

"My mother died when I was young. Suicide," Jimin begins slowly, remembering the painful details of how he lost her. He was so young back then. Too young to understand everything happening around him. To this day, he wonders if there's anything he could've done to have prevented her death, and what eats him is the fact that the question will never be answered. "My father was...abusive. Used to beat her..and then when she died, he turned to me..."

Jungkook doesn't say anything.

"He was an abusive alcoholic. I see it now, but...I don't know why I never tried to find help back then. Jin hyung, Joon hyung and Tae all helped me see a lot of things. My father died during a car accident. The one that got me hospitalized and had you visit me. He was drunk. He was so drunk. He came into the room, beat me up and forced me into the car. And it all happened....the rest, you know. I live with the hyungs now and I am finally doing what I like..." Jimin finishes quietly and try not the let images of the accident get to him again. He doesn't want any more nightmares. He doesn't want to remember all the blood, the pain, the sharp sound of metal creaking and the way his father's dead, hollow eyes stared back at him.

His father had been so angry that day. The stench of alcohol on his breath had made him nauseous. The blows had been harsh and indiscrimanatory, slowly turning him into an even more helpless pile of flesh. His father had dragged him by his hair, and Jimin had struggled to break lose while crying at the burning sensation in his scalp. He was scared. So scared. He couldn't see properly through his own tears and the sound of the engine starting sent shivers down his spine. Where was his father taking him? Was he going to be killed?

Jimin doesn't realize that he's shaking uncontrollably until he vaguely registers Jungkook calling out his name. Jungkook is cupping his cheeks, staring into his eyes and telling him that he's safe and everything's OK. He's OK. His father can't touch him anymore. It's just Jungkook and him now, safe and away from everything else.

"Jimin. Say something," Jungkook pleads, worry evident in his eyes. He hadn't intended to force Jimin into gripping fear by asking him to share information about himself. He's overcome with so many emotions himself. The most prominent is anger. Red, hot anger that anyone had dared to hurt his Jimin. There's also a part of him that's finally understading why Jimin had shown up with the mask the first time they met and also why he always had bruises on his face. Another part of him is saddened that this beautiful, caring man would be subjected to so much emotional torture and scarring. He however overlooks all the turmoil of emotions, because right now, he needs to focus on calming Jimin down.

"H-hyung.."

"Good. Now inhale slowly with me," Jungkook starts, taking in air through his nose with an exaggerated sound. He waits for Jimin to copy him before he exhales. "Now breathe out slowly. Alright, good, can you do that three more times with me?" Jungkook continues, remembering Hoseok doing this with him when he got too nervous before going on stage.

"I'm sorry..." Jimin breathes out as soon as he regains full consciousness of the situation. Jungkook shakes his head and then brushes Jimin's hair back with his hands.

"Thank you for telling me everything. I know it must've been tough. Thank you for trusting me," Jungkook says sincerely, his hands back to cupping Jimin's cheeks.

"You don't think-"

"Park Jimin. This doesn't change anything. In fact, it only proves that you're one hell of a man," Jungkook replies with a hint of playfulness in his voice. "But from now on. From this point on, we're only going to be happy, alright?"

Jimin nods and watches as Jungkook leans closer. Their nose is touching, and their lips are only a breath apart. Jungkook holds his gaze for a brief moment, as if waiting for Jimin to back out. Jimin remains still, all his senses overridden by the loud thumping in his head and Jungkook's breath tickling his own skin. Everything feels hot and too sensitive, and it feels as if he moves, everything will engulf him whole. So instead, he entrusts Jungkook with everything he has and lets their lips meet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

11:27 AM

 

 

Jungkook's in the middle of an interview for another fashion magazine when one of the magazine's staff members runs towards him, shoots him a wary look and then whispers something furiously into the woman sitting across from him. She initially gives the singer an apologetic look with a hand up, but her face quickly turns to that of confusion, shock and a forced smile that is doing very little to mask her apparent discomfort. The woman clears her throat, brushing back her long wavy locks with her perfectly manicured fingers and then hurriedly gets off the chair she's been sitting on. "I apologize, but if you can wait just a second," she says, her voice professional yet constricted and her fiery red lips suddenly look very unnatural.

Jungkook tries to look for his manager to figure out what's going on and is instead met by the sight of the man in question running towards him. And in that split second, Jungkook can read the panic in the manager's eyes. Something's not going right.

Then it's chaos. The interviewer is on her phone while sprinting off somewhere in her heels, the cluster of people who had been waiting to get the photoshoot started are either watching Jungkook with their eyes wide open or whispering harshly among themselves. Hwasa, who had been on standby to begin makeup looks equally frantic as she gathers her makeup box and yells at some of the assistants to move more quickly. Jungkook feels a strong grip on his wrist, and as he turns around to see who it is, he's already being tugged rather harshly. He tries to keep up with his manager pulling at him, trying his best to not trip and fall as he takes in the way everyone is staring at him now.

He can vaguely make out Hwasa continuously yelling at everyone to hurry the hell up as she slings a bag across her shoulder and hugs the makeup box before bolting out alongside them. Phones are going off, and the mixture of different ringtones create a cacophony that makes Jungkook teetering over the edge. The sounds are shrill against his already confused state of mind. What's happening? Why is everyone freaking out?

They approach the van parked right outside the building, and Minwoo sprints forward to get the door open before he shoves the singer into the car. Hwasa hops into the car right after Jungkook and closes the door immediately as Minwoo crashes into the driver's seat. The car is off in a blink of an eye, as Minwoo's and Hwasa's phone continues to ring obnoxiously. Hwasa growls and pulls her phone out before turning it on silent and shoving it back into the pocket of her loose jeans. Her usually pristine makeup is smudged in places from all the sweat and wiping, and her usually bubbly attitude is nowhere to be seen.

"What the hell is going on?" Jungkook asks, once the car makes it out of the driveway. Everything had happened so quickly, and no one was giving him any explanation. He waits impatiently for the either of them to speak, but Minwoo only wordless pulls his still ringing phone out before putting it on silent as well and chucking it to the empty passenger seat. "Can anyone explain to me what the hell is going on!" he tries again, and only receives a wary glance from Hwasa in return.

"Wait, where's my phone?" Jungkook asks as he taps around for his phone. He's not wearing the same outfit he had arrived at the shoot with, and usually, his manager is in charge of his phone during scheduled events. However, he gets the feeling he won't be getting it back anytime soon, judging from the way Minwoo is remaining silent.

"Minwoo oppa has it," Hwasa answers solemnly and procedes to bite her nails nervously.

"What the hell is going on? Give me my phone," Jungkook demands while lurching forward and ignores the pleading look his stylist is giving him. Hwasa takes a hold of his arm and pulls him back.

"Is it true?" Hwasa asks, looking every bit concerned as she looks into Jungkook's eyes. Jungkook's both annoyed and furious at the turn of events, but he can't bring himself to lash out at the poor stylist who looks as if she wants to cry.

"What's true?"

"Hwasa!" Minwoo yells from the wheel, his voice harsh in warning. The stylist jumps at the sudden noise.

"He should at least know what's going on!" she argues angrily, but the manager would have none of it.

"The company told you to keep quiet until we get there, now stop stalking."

"Oppa!"

"Hwasa!"

"Both of you, what the fuck! If this involves me, I think I should know!" Jungkook screams out above both their voices. He's already had it with being kept out in the dark.

"Are you...Are you really dating Jimin from the dance team?" Hwasa's voice is shaky, and her eyes are pleading, as if asking the singer to deny everything and put her mind at ease.

For a brief moment that must only be a fraction of a second in real life, Jungkook's life comes to an eternal halt. Everything stops. The car ceases to move. The world outside loses all sound. His heart stops beating, and his blood no longer flows through his veins. There's only a blank white space in his head which used to be filled with thoughts, memories and inspirations.

At first, there's nothing. There's a void of emotions that leaves Jungkook feeling hollow. Then slowly, he starts feeling again, and he almost wishes he didn't have to, because it's fear. Fear comes for him and grips him by the neck with it's invisible hands, claws digging deep and cold against his skin. Hwasa is saying something to him. He can register her lips moving and her eyes staring at his with eyes wide in panic, yet he can't make out any of the words.

"-ook! Jeon Jungkook!"

Jungkook jumps. He can hear sounds again, and it's Hwasa's frantic shrill voice that assault his ears the moment it happens.

"...what?" His own voice is hoarse and unpleasant against his ears.

"Oh my God...you're really dating him, aren't you...Oh God..." Hwasa is more mumbling to himself than to anyone. She has her hand over her mouth, and another on her stomach. Jungkook's brain is going a mile a minute. Should he be angry? Should he ask more questions? Should he be demanding that he gets his phone back? Wait, how does she even know? Does everyone know? But how? Where's Jimin? Is Jimin Ok?

 

 


-

 

 

[Anonymous 1365620] I can't share information about who I am, but I work with Jeon Jungkook and I know that people aren't going to believe me, but he's dating another man. A member of his dance team.

> Lol so many trolls
> This dumbass is clearly jealous of JK
> Get a life
> OMG but imagine Jungkook being gay though lol I bet his bf is hot af
> All these ppl claiming to work with celebrities lol r u like 12
> a member of his dance team! LOL try again dipshit

[Anonymous 2837502] PHOTO

> WTF???
> The photo's too dark you can't even tell who that is
> WTF THAT'S JEON JUNGKOOK WTH??? WHY IS HE KISSING ANOTHER MAN WHAT
> Ppl come down, obv this is some troll photoshop work
> Where was this taken??? Who's that person with oppa??
> GUYS THIS IS CLEARLY FAKE
> [PHOTO] Jungkook wore the same jacket here too.
> holy shit is that really JJK? Who's the other guy? That's a guy right? Someone explain this to me!! I'm freaking out!!
> Daebak
> Is this real???
> lol professional troll right here
> Does anyone know who that guy is? Is he really from the dance team?? Someone find it!!

[Anonymous 6493665] PHOTO
GUYS I FOUND HIM HE'S REALLY A MEMBER OF JK'S DANCE TEAM. I'll upload more pictures of him while on tour.
> I'm so confused right now
> Wait is this real???
> Ppl need to calm down, we're not even sure if that's oppa or if this photo is even real
> If ur a real fan u need to just calm down and stop reading shit like this and believing in it. It's obviously not real. Kookie oppa isn't gay wtf
> [PHOTO] This is the same guy right?? I think this was taking in NY. OMG whats going onnnnnnnn someone explainnnnn

 

 

 

 

11:42

 


"Jesus fuck, why the fuck do I have 37 missed calls," Yoongi growls in annoyance as soon as he checks his phone as soon as he's done working on the latest track. He's gotten used to keeping his phone on silent while working and hadn't realized that his little device was going crazy. He doesn't even bother going through all the texts, because he's busy trying to deal with why so many people, including Seokjin, left so many calls. He knows it can't be about Namjoon or Hoseok, because they were in the room with him only a minute ago. They had gone out for a little break when Yoongi was finishing up. Even people from the company had called him. What the hell?

Just then, Hoseok runs into the room with eyes wide and chest heaving.

"What the fuck," Yoongi hisses, his hand on his chest. He doesn't like surprises. "Hey I got like a bunch of-"

"Did you know about this!?" Hoseok screeches, completely ignoring the words out of his friend's mouth. Yoongi scowls and gives the other man a hard look.

"Know what?"

"Jungkook and Jimin! Did you know about this?"

"Kookie told you?" Yoongi asks, wondering if Jungkook decided to be stupid and fess up to Hoseok about his feelings for Jimin. He's going to have another talk with that stupid boy...

"You knew? You fucking knew they were dating!?"

There's a stretch of silence as Yoongi's brain tries to process the words that just came out of his friend's mouth.

"They're what?"

"Dating! Going out! It's all over the fucking internet! Did you know about this?"

"What the fuck! What the actual fuck are you saying?"

"Fuck! Shit! The company wants to talk to us....God, this is going to be a shitstorm. Please tell me they're not dating and it's some hoax-"

Yoongi fumbles with his phone and furiously types in Jungkook's name. He was hoping Hoseok was playing a stupid prank on him, but as his eyes takes in all the news headlines and photo evidences, alongside a string of comments that seemed just as confused as he is, he's starting to see that something dreadful is happening. He wants to think that it's Dispatch being a dick again and posting fuzzy pics for clicks, but he himself knows how Jungkook feels about Jimin. This can't be happening...

"...What do we do," Yoongi lets out hoarsely, tightening his grip on his phone. He doesn't trust his brain to make a rational decision at the moment.

"We don't have a choice. The company already knows where we are. If we don't go, they're going to suspect things. Fuck, I tried to call Jungkook but no one's picking up. I think they got to him first."

"Where the fuck is Namjoon?"

"He's with them. I think they might be holding him hostage because of us. We need to go. Like right now."

 

 

 

 

 

 

12:01

 


Jimin listens to Taehyung talk about the lunch menu as soon as class is dismissed and the teacher leaves the room with a bored look on his face. All the students seem excited as always about their lunchtime break, but the tide quickly changes when one of the girls checks her phone for her daily Jungkook feed.

The change is so subtle at first that Jimin doesn't recognize them. It starts with the girl squinting at the screen, gasping, looking straight at Jimin and then grabbing her friend next to her. They stare at the screen together and then it's three more people who are gathered to see what's happening. There's a sudden commotion, filled with incoherent mumbling and audible gasps. Even the boys, who usually pay no attention to what the girls are doing, rush over curiously. That's when Jimin notices that all eyes are turned to him now.

And he freezes when he recognizes the look of disgust and mortification in some of their eyes. Something's wrong. Something is horribly wrong. He needs to get out of here. Jimin takes his shaking hands to grab a hold of Taehyung, who's too busy putting his notes away to pay any attention to the rest of the class. Taehyung looks up and gives him a curious look before following his friend's line of vision.

"What the fuck are you guys looking at?" Taehyung spits harshly, standing up and his shoulders squared as if challenging anyone to keep doing what they're doing. Ever since the cafeteria incident, people had left Jimin alone for the most part, so he can't fathom why they're starting funny business all of a sudden.

Then it all blows up. Everyone's yelling now, and both Jimin and Taehyung can pick up the words "disgusting" and "Jungkook" with acute clarity alongside the words "faggot," "cocksucker" and other variations of words that were both degrading and spiteful. Taehyung is in full blown anger mode, telling everyone to just shut the fuck up, but no one is listening. Jimin already feels disoriented by the shril sounds of angry girls screaming at him and the jeers and pointed fingers thrown by the rest.

"I...I need to...need to go...I..." Jimin fumbles with his words before barely managing to stand up. He needs to get out of here. He feels sick. He's sure he's going to have a panic attack, and he just needs something to grab onto or it feels as if he's going to go tumbling down an endless spiral into a pitch-black abyss. He flails around blindly, needing someone or something to hold onto and only breathes when Taehyung wraps a strong arm around him. Taehyung grits his teeth and rushes out the classroom, half-carrying Jimin with him.

There are a few students in the hallways who are clearly in on everything too. Taehyung shoots them a warning glare before continously his way out the building. Jimin is heaving now, his eyes rapidly losing focus, and Taehyung can only hope that he can make it out of the school campus on time. However, he isn't so lucky, because the same bullies that he had so kindly shown what a real ass-kicking looks like are now standing in front of them, creating a blockade. There were much more of them now, each one of them looking equally smug.

"Get the fuck out of the way before I kick your ass again," Taehyung growls, not having the time for this bullshit again.

"So protective. Does he suck your cock too? Or does Park Jimin have some grade-A ass everyone's all of a sudden into?" one of them jeers with a smirk, and everyone in the group laughs as if it's the funniest thing they've heard all year. Taehyung's now seeing red. He doesn't know what's going on exactly, and he normally wouldn't give a rat's ass if people thought he was dating Jimin, but he will not tolerate anyone speaking about his best friend like that. He wants to lurch forward and rip that smug look off the asshole's face, but Jimin's clutching to him for dear life, and he can't bring himself to let go.

"I'm going to tell you one last time. Get the fuck out of the way."

"Or what?" the boy challenges and then looks at the crowd behind him with a sly grin.

Taehyung knows he's outnumbered, especially when he has Jimin with him, but he's not going to go down with a fight. He needs to somehow take Jimin back to the apartment, back to safety, and if it's going to cost him a broken nose and an arm, then so be it. Taehyung braces himself for it and then tightens his fist, getting ready to deal the first blow when there's a commotion and some of the bullies are roughly pushed to the side from the back. The confused bullies turn around and part to see Taekwoon and Seokjin looking like a pair of feral animals with blood-thirsty fangs as they roughly slam each of the punks into the walls next to them. Taekwoon especially looks absolutely menacing, and even the bullies take steps back in fear of the towering man.

Taehyung watches as both adults finally approach them. He doesn't think he's ever been so glad to see the two men before him. Taekwoon gives the teen a curt nod before taking Jimin and gently picking the still shaking teen into his arms. There's furious whispering and chattering coming from the entire student body watching them, but none of them pay any attention. The four quickly make their way out the building, ignoring patrolling teachers' rapid questions.

 

 


12:07

 

The sting doesn't come for about a couple of seconds. Not until Jungkook realizes that he's been slapped across the face by the head of the agency standing in front of him, his usually perfectly tailored suit crumpled and his face red and blotchy from anger.

"You ungrateful piece of shit!" The man shouts, his voice booming and coarse. "I made you who you are and this is how you repay me? By fucking an underaged boy and getting caught! Do you know how many brands are trying to sue you right now! Do you know how much you're costing the company!" he continues to yell as he delivers another blow, this time straight into the singer's stomach. Jungkook takes a step back and coughs violently, but the man pays no attention.

"If this isn't fixed, you're going to cough up every single penny and then we're going to sue you right back, do you understand? Now be a good boy and do as you're told," the man finishes and then motions for two of his employees to take the singer away. Jungkook doesn't struggle. He doesn't have the energy to put up a fight as he's roughly dragged out of the office. All he can think about is Jimin. Jimin must be in school. He wants to know if Jimin's safe. He wants to tell Jimin to trust him and have faith in what they have. He wants nothing more than to just hold Jimin in his arms and tell him that everything's going to be alright.

But no one is on his side. Hoseok and Yoongi are no longer his manager and stylist, and he's not naiive enough to think that the company is going to let them see him. He has no one he can trust next to him. He feels so alone and pathetic, he just lets his body be thrown into a small room located on the fourth foor of the building, which holds a number of dormitory-like rooms for members of the building to get some shut eye. He listens helplessly as he hears a click from the other side of the door. How had he never known that there were locks on the outside? Or did they install it just for him? However, none of this matters, because now he's all alone in this room without a computer or a phone, while Jimin is out there all by himself.

 

 

 


12: 21

 


"T-Tae....W-what is...ha-happening...T-Tae..." Jimin stutters out from the couch, looking both panicked and confused. "I...I s-swear I h-heard J-Jungkook's na-na-name...wh-what..."

"Shh, Jimin just breathe for me, OK?" Taehyung stalls, not sure if he's up to the task of relaying all the information to Jimin. Jimin had been awfully quiet throughout the entire car ride, which had almost triggered a panic attack on Taehyung's part, because he was sure that Jimin had lost his mind. However, now they were back at home, Jimin seemed to somewhat collect himself again in the familiar surrounding.

Taehyung took the liberty of searching Jungkook's name and reading all the headlines during the ride back home. With Jungkook's name being mentioned and all the homophobic slurs, it wasn't too difficult for Taehyung to put two and two together, especially because he knew the two were dating. This right here, all the angry, hateful comments and ridiculous speculations and rumors, alongside Jimin's current state, is what he had been afraid of all along. Should he have at least tried to break the two apart? He can't help but feel at least partly responsible for bringing Jimin so much anguish.

"T-Tae, y-you kn-know don't y-you....Tae...." Jimin nearly pleads, his eyes wide and frightened. Taehyung looks away, because he doesn't want to tell Jimin anything. Jimin already looks so scared as is, how would he react to the news?

"Jimin, can you relax first for me. Please?" Taehyung tries, putting his hands on his friend's shoulders. "You'll be OK. We're all going to be OK." They both jump when Seokjin returns to the living room with a thin blanket that he promptly wraps around the small boy.

"I haven't told him anything yet," Taehyung supplies quietly.

"Jimin, is this true?" Seokjin asks, his voice wavering. "Are you really dating Jungkook?"

Jimin blinks slowly at the words, and Taehyung can visibly make out blood rushing out of his friend's face. Jimin is now staring at the older man with his mouth hanging open, his eyes wide in shock as the realization hits him like a two-ton truck.

"I-I'm sorry..." Jimin whispers guiltily, slowly standing up from the couch. "I'm so sorry..."

Taehyung watches as Seokjin's shoulders go limp and his face turns into that of utter anguish. "Oh god..." the older man lets out heavily, his hands twitching nervously. He had not seen any of this coming. He knew Jimin was gay, but he had no idea any of this was happening. Why hadn't Jimin told him? Did Jimin not trust him enough?

"Why didn't you tell me, Jimin?" Seokjin asks with a pained expression. He can't shake off the sense of failure seeping through the cracks. He had wanted so badly to be the guardian Jimin needed. He wanted nothing more than to protect Jimin and keep him safe. He wanted Jimin to be happy and enjoy life to the fullest and just do what any other normal teenager would do. Yet, he had been so caught up with Namjoon's sudden rise to fame, he hadn't recognized the subtle changes that were taking place right next to him.

"I'm so-sorry..."

"Hyung, it was his secret to keep," Taehyung interjects, stepping in between his brother and his friend. "You of all people should understand."

"Did you know about this?"

"...Yeah. I kind of found out about it, and yeah, I encouraged him," Taehyung states matter-of-factly, his expression almost defiant.

"You what!" Seokjin yells out, suddenly looking more angry than anything else. "You encouraged the two to be in a relationship? Are you insane? How did you think it was going to turn out!"

"Well, that didn't stop you from dating Joon hyung now, did it," Taehyung hisses out equally angrily. He doesn't get why his brother is acting like this. His own brother was under constant scrutiny from birth, yet he risked the relationship, so why isn't he more understanding of his friend's situation?

"This is different!"


"No it's not! You chose Joon hyung knowing you were going to have to give everything up!"

"That was my choice to make, Kim Taehyung. This isn't. Jimin didn't choose to make his relationship public and have an entire army of blood-thirsty people looking for him and spreading rumors about him! There's a different between making personal sacrifices and doing something reckless!"

"Bullshit hyung. Are you hearing yourself? Jimin needed Jungkook to be happy and so I helped him be happy. I expected you to be more understanding, hyung. You of all people. I even tried to understand you when you left me like that. You left me to fend myself. You left me without the brother I needed, and now you're going to criticize Jimin for his decisions?"

Seokjin falls silent. He watches his brother turn around with a noise of frustration as he lets the words sink in. Taehyung's right. Jimin was doing exactly what he had done back then. He hadn't even tried to understand Jimin's side of things. Maybe Jungkook was to Jimin what Namjoon was to him. But it still doesn't change the fact that everything's a total mess and Jimin's become a target.

"You're right...you're absolutely right..." Seokjin says defeatedly and then turns to Jimin. "I'm sorry, Jimin...I just wish you would've told me so I could at least...help you somehow."

"J-Jungkook....is-is he o-okay?" Jimin asks quietly, his voice coarse from trying to contain his emotions. Seokjin throws Jimin a wary look before glancing at his phone in his hand.

"I don't know...Namjoon's still at the company and he said he'll call back, but I haven't heard back from him..."

"Oh god...t-this is all m-my fault...oh god..." Jimin chokes out, his hands clutching at his own arms.

 

 


-

 

 

 

> Ewwww Jungkook's a homo? I bet army is going crazy lol

> thats disgusting

> that kid goes to my school. His name's Park Jimin. He's this fucking creepy ass kid that stutters all the time and shit

> Im burning all his albums

> WTF??? Jeon Jungkook is gay? WTF?? thats fucked up!!!

> I bet this is all photoshopped

> I bet they were fucking each other on tour like all the time. Gross

> Wow that faggot pulled off the straight guy act really well. I hope he dies of AIDS

> Homosexuality is an abomination. I better not see him on TV anymore

> I used to kinda like this music but nope nope nope

> How dare that piece of shit seduce my oppa! Look at his face. It's fucking disgusting. Someone go kill him now

> ppl fucking calm down. i support u Jungkook oppa!

> Ewww so JK's been fucking an underaged BOY the whole time? That's so gross i hope he gets arrested

> JKs gay whatever but he has horrible taste in men lol

> Idols needs to understand that they cant just go around fucking people like that. like wth at least be more careful. i cant believe i wasted all my money on that piece of shit

> Welp it seems like he just killed his career over fucking some guy in the ass

 

 


-

 

 


23:41

 

Seokjin thanks Taekwoon, who hands him a hot cup of tea. Taekwoon graciously volunteered to clean up the diner and put up a sign explaining to customers that the place will be closed for the rest of the week while Seokjin stayed home with the two boys. Taekwoon also choose to return to the Kim's residence to help out when needed, and Seokjin accepts the offer gratefully. Right now, Jimin and Taehyung are in Jimin's room, and while Seokjin would normally stick around, he lets Taehyung console his friend on his own. Plus, he needs some time to just think about the situation and come up with a way to fix it.

Namjoon hasn't returned his calls, and he's a bit freaking out about that too.

"Thank you, Taekwoon. For helping out," Seokjin starts once he's had a few sip of the tea in his hands.

"It's no problem. Plus, I care about Jimin too."

"I know...I can tell. I wish I knew what to do."

Taekwoon nods and slumps against the couch. Just then, the front door opens, revealing all three of the rappers who look like ghosts of themselves. Hoseok's left cheek is swollen, and the corner of his lips torn, and Seokjin's running towards his friend in surprise.

"What happened!"

"The fucking company's furious. They thought Hoseok knew about the relationship," Yoongi explains and then makes a face, as if the words left a bad taste in his mouth. Seokjin clicks his tongue and lifts Hoseok's chin to get a better look. Hoseok forces a smile and then tells the other man it's nothing serious.

"Oh hey, Taek, surprised to see you here, too," Hoseok lets out with a cheerful voice that sounds fake to even his own ears. The stoic man nods and makes his way to the kitchen to prepare more tea for everyone.

"Joon, what's happening," Seokjin asks as soon as they're seated in the living room.

"Is Jimin here?" Namjoon asks softly, taking Seokjin's hand into his.

"Yeah...he's in his room with Tae. I'm not sure if they're talking or crying or sleeping. I'm letting them be for the time being."

"Oh...good, I guess..." Namjoon mumbles and then wipes his brows with his fingers. "It's looking bad," he continues after a moment of hesitation. "All the companies Jungkook's been doing ads for are threatening withdrawal and lawsuit unless the company fixes the problem."

"They're suing him?" Seokjin asks incredulously.

"Yeah....and apparently they're entitled to. It's in their contract."

"And how do they expect the company to fix anything? I mean, the two are actually dating in real life."

"The same way they always fix scandals. They're going to make an official statement that Jungkook's actually dating his co-star from the drama series he filmed before the comeback."

"What! And the company thinks that the people are going to just accept that and move on?"

"Yeah..because it's probably what people want to hear."

"What about Jimin then?"

"...I'm not sure. They're trying to locate the original poster so that they can strike up a deal and make it seem like photoshop work or something. Jin, did you know about the two?" Namjoon asks carefully. Seokjin shakes his head no with a sad expression, and Namjoon sighs lowly. He had sort of expected Jimin to go out and explore with his newfound sexuality, but he didn't think the teen would end up dating Jeon Jungkook of all people. Both Hoseok and Yoongi seemed just as surprised to find Jungkook gay, especially because none of them were even aware that the singer and Jimin were even spending that much time together.

"What about Jungkook? Where is he?"

Hoseok clears his throat before speaking. "I'm pretty sure the company has him locked up somewhere."

"Locked up?"

"Yeah..they do that when celebrities get involved in huge scandals," Yoongi elaborates. "They don't want them doing some dumbass shit before the company comes up with a game plan and clears the air."

"They can do that?"

"What makes you think these agencies care about ethics? It's about the money. If this doesn't work out for Jungkook, then the company's going to blow this out of proportion and throw him under the bus."

Seokjin groans into his hands. Things are so much worse than he had expected, and his already weak mind can't even begin to find a way to untangle this web of events.

 

 

 


04:18

 

Jungkook blinks when the strain of staring blankly at the white wall in front of him becomes too much. He has no idea what time it is. Hours quickly bleed into each other when sleeping no longer becomes a tangible concept. There's no window here. No clock. He's alone in the small, white room, only the bleary fluorescent lightbulb above him providing company.

Jungkook digs the USB out of his shirt and holds onto it in his right hand. He's long given up trying to plead his way out of the locked room or at least allow him one phone call. It's not the confinement that's driving him insane. It's not knowing if Jimin's safe. Fans, although he's not sure if he can call them that anymore, must be furious, and there's no question that a lot of that anger was going to be misdirected towards Jimin.

Yoongi and Hoseok must be in trouble too. He fucked everything and everyone up, and he's sure he's lost Jimin as well. The guilt, frustration, anger and sorrow all blend and slowly take up the remaining empty space of the small room, until Jungkook's not sure if there's enough oxygen in the room for him to breathe in.

The singer buries his head between his knees. He wants to see Jimin again. He wants nothing more than to just hold his hand and tell him he's sorry for everything. He wants to tell everyone that he's at fault and to leave Jimin alone, because his sweet, innocent Jimin doesn't deserve all this hate. He wants Jimin to hear the songs he's written for him, saved onto the USB in his hand. He needs to see Jimin smile that beautiful smile of his.

Jungkook's never felt so helpless in his life.

 

 

 

 

 

09:00

 


The storm doesn't clear. In fact, it only gets worse.

Fans initial shock quickly and violently turns into betrayal and hatred, and twitter and instagram quickly fills up with photographs of fans burning or cutting albums and other goods they've purchased over the years. The company posts an official statement claiming that the photos are not real and that they will take legal actions against the original poster. Yet, fans remain skeptical, and even people who didn't even know who Jungkook was, are buzzing with the gossip pertaining to an outed celebrity.

The agency uses this time to locate the original poster, and they're willing to resort to both bribery and threat to cover up this story, because Jungkook brings in too much money for them to give up just yet. This is all publicity nonetheless, and if they can play it to their favor, there's no telling how much more they can profit off of it. The insane manhunt continues, and eventually they find the original poster to come from within the company. To be exact, one of the dance team members who had been blinded by jealousy. The particular dancer, who was four years older than Jimin, hated that Jimin was taking the spotlight so quickly after joining and despised the fact that he'd forever be a backup dancer for Jeon Jungkook. He, after overhearing their conversation in that diner in New York, made it his mission to find out the two in a compromising position and destroy their careers.

The entire crew blows up once the news goes out. Hakyeon is livid that anyone in his crew would dare hurt both a fellow member and Jungkook in such an atrocious way, and it takes all Yongguk, Seunghoon and Jay to stop their leader from going after the culprit and beating him into a lifeless pulp. Hakyeon and the agency naturally give the crew some time off, but not before warning them of the possible consequences of leeking information about Jungkook or the company.

Jimin takes back custody of his phone after much argument with Seokjin, who didn't want Jimin getting even a glimpse of some of the things people were saying about him. In the end, Seokjin succumbs, when Jimin makes a point that he knew the possible consequences of his actions and that he should he able to face them. Seokjin at first doesn't listen, but Namjoon eventually persuades his boyfriend to let the teen handle it, because it's not their job to shield Jimin from the real world. Namjoon argues that it's instead their job to just be there for the teen when everything becomes too much.

Jimin, against everyone else's advice, reads through the comments. At first, he reads them with a sense of detached curiosity. Afterall, it's hard to believe that all the love Jungkook received less than a day ago would turn into blind hate so readily. He continues to read through them, and it appears that people knew a lot more about him now. They already knew that both his parents were dead. They knew which school he goes to. There were yearbook photos of him circulating the web already. But more alarmingly, there were stories about both Jungkook and him that were both vulgar and demeaning. People were portraying Jungkook like a disgusting pedophile and him like a whore who slept his way into the team. None of it is the truth, but they're not after the truth. They just want to hate, hate and hate.

Then the phonecalls begin. Unknown numbers continue to assult Jimin's phone, followed by angry texts telling him to go kill himself, to die of AIDS and asking how sex with Jungkook was. There are death threats promising bodily harm and some of them even telling him how they know where Jimin lives. It comes to the point where Jimin can no longer keep his phone on, because the calls and texts become nonstop.

Jimin is scared. He's frightened of everything. The threats become too real in his head, and he can no longer brush off the feeling that he's putting Seokjin, Namjoon and Taehyung in danger as well. What if they come for him. What if they hurt any of them. And then it always goes back to Jungkook. He's long given up trying to contact Jungkook, and there's nothing online to indicate where the singer is or how he's doing. He's so afraid that something might have happened to Jungkook. What if he's reading all the comments as well? It'd break him. Jungkook had always been so afraid of losing his fame and letting the dream slip between his fingers. It's all his fault. Jimin knows that he's messed this up.

Jimin closes his eyes and thinks about his memories with Jungkook. He smiles weakly as he remembers the gentle touches against his skin. The way Jungkook always brushed his hair back or the way the singer flashed his toothy grin when Jimin got shy. He remembers the way they danced so perfectly together and the proud look etched onto Jungkook's handsome features when Jimin made it into the dance team. He remembers the excitement in Jungkook's eyes when he talked about wanting to write songs and the sincerity in his eyes when he talked about his fame and fans.

Jungkook has changed his life. Jungkook has encouraged him to be a better person and run after his goals. Jungkook showed him a world that he'd never even dream of. Jungkook showed him love and taught him what being in love felt like.

 

 

Jimin glaces at his phone.

 

 

He has to fix this. For Jungkook.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text


Following the release of the photo scandal involving idol Jeon Jungkook, the male high school student in the said photograph came forth this morning to explain the truth behind the leaked photo. "It's true that I'm in [Jungkook's] dance team," he stated in his video uploaded to his personal twitter account. "However, we're not in a relationship. The photograph is of me kissing him without consent, and it was just taken at the wrong time. I had feelings for him for some time and kissed him without permission, and he had been kind enough to forgive me for it. I'm sorry that it took me too long to admit it, and I sincerely hope that this no longer hurts Jeon Jungkook's career."

 


-

 

 

"What the fuck did you do?"

Jimin turns around and finds Taehyung seething in the doorway, holding his phone up and flashing its screen at Jimin. The smaller teen blinks, lets out a small "ah" in understanding as his eyes scan the headline on the screen. He knew Taehyung would find out sooner or later, but he had been hoping for after he was out of the house. Jimin throws his friend a weak smile and and simply returns to packing his things into the duffel bag in front of him. He doesn't have any real words to say to Taehyung.

There are a lot of sentiments inside him he wants to convey though. He wants Taehyung to know how much he treasures their friendship. He will forever be grateful for everything the other teen has ever done for him, and every moment spent him with has been a blessing. Kim Taehyung is a man of a beautiful spirit, and Jimin wants his friend to know this. Yet, he doesn't trust his words or his voice, so he pretends to busy himself with the packing process.

"Park Jimin, what did you do?" Taehyung growls, forcibly grabbing his friend's arm and roughly pulling him away from the bag. Jimin looks up in surprise. He doesn't think Taehyung has ever been so forceful towards him ever, and frankly, he's a bit initmidated by the angry energy in his friend's eyes. "Did you really do this? Why would you lie about this! Are you insane? Do you have any idea what you just did?" Taehyung bellows out, his brows furrowed in anguish.

Taehyung doesn't get it. He tries so hard, but he can't wrap his head around why Jimin would do something like this. People already hate him as is, and now his friend volunteered to take all that hate on his own while Jungkook hasn't said a single word. He knows Jimin is a good guy. Of course he knows that. That's why they're friends in the first place and that's the exact reason why Taehyung promised to always be there for him, but unfortunately, with that level of kindness and selflessness also came what he would call being downright idiotic.

"I can't ruin Jungkook hyung's life," Jimin starts off slowly, his voice surprisingly calm given the weight of the situation.

"What about your life Jimin? You don't think it matters?" Taehyung's so mad. Why doesn't Jimin get it? Why doesn't his best friend understand that his own happiness matters too? It's so frustrating sometimes, because Jimin's constantly putting everyone else's feelings and well-being before his own. Everyone knows this, including Seokjin and Namjoon, which was why they were so worried that Jimin was going to end up in a horribly manipulative relationship. Taehyung now sees why his brother had been so mad at him for encouraging Jimin's relationship with Jungkook. It wasn't that Seokjin hated Jungkook as a person. No, the older man knew that Jimin would take the fall if anything were to happen.

"Jungkook hyung has so much more to lose...you know that. And...I can't stand being responsible for making him lose everything," Jimin answers calmly as his friend lets go of his arm.

"It's not your fault! None of this is! It's not like you dragged him into this relationship! Why would you do this?"

"Because I want to. I can't hurt Jungkook hyung. I can't..."

"Why are you sacrificing so much for him anyway? He hasn't said shit about any of this and hasn't even tried to call you!" Taehyung blurts out and grimaces at the hurt that flashes across the other teen's features. Taehyung knows that a significant part of Jimin had been waiting for his boyfriend to call him or text him or somehow let him know where they're standing. Yet, hours went by, and not a single word from Jungkook, and Jimin was barely hanging by the thread of trust that bound the two together.

"I'm sure he has his reasons," Jimin counters. dropping his gaze. Taehyung hates this.

"Why! Why do you have to be the one to give everything up!"

"Tae...we're friends right?" Taehyung nods. "I'm OK Tae. I'm really going to be OK. Just...thank you so much for everything you've done for me. You and Jin hyung and Joon hyung...you all saved me. You have no idea."

"Why are you saying these things....what's with the bag? Jimin, you're not-" Taehyung finally notices the opened bag filled halfway with Jimin's clothes.

"I can't stay here. I'll end up hurting someone else too." Jimin contemplates lying to his friend for a second, but he remains honest, because he knows Taehyung's not stupid.

"You can't go! This is your home! We can all take care of ourselves!" Taehyung growls as he snatches the bag off the ground and pours all the content out before slinging the now empty bag over his shoulders.

"They can't find out that Namjoon hyung lives with me. It'll be bad for his career, and he's just getting started. Please, Tae, just let me go when they're not here."

"You can't go! Are you kidding me? Not only you make yourself a target to save Jungkook's ass, now you're going to just leave us too? And you think Namjoon hyung's just going to appreciate your effort and move forth with his career? Do you really think that little of us?"

Jimin purses his lips and averts his eyes. He can't argue against anything Taehyung is saying, because it's true. Namjoon wouldn't approve of any of this. Namjoon was righteous as he was talented, and the man wouldn't let Jimin do this to protect his career, which is why Jimin needs to get the hell out of the apartment before he comes back home.

"Please Tae, I don't want to hurt anyone else..."

"No! You don't get to just leave! You can't just leave like hyung did! You can't!"

"Tae-"

"I'm not losing you too, Jimin."

"Tae, you've seen what these people are capable of! It's only a matter of time before they link you and the hyungs back to me, and I just can't have that happen. I just can't. Please....let me go before they come back," Jimin pleads. He's witnessed first hand the hate and the anger. He can't even sleep anymore, because the threats keep him up at night. They figured out his phone number. It's only a matter of time before they figure out where he lives and come for him.

"No. You're not going anywhere. We're in this together."

"Tae-"

"No Jimin, you don't get to just give everything up just because some people are assholes. You still have us. Jin hyung and Joon hyung aren't stupid. They know the risks, but they're going to stick around with you because you're family. If you walk out now, you'll be hurting them a lot more. Stay, and let's figure this all out together."

 

 


-

 

 

 

Hoseok is sure that he would be finding this situation hilarious if the possible consequences of everything going wrong wasn't so severe. Perhaps a few years down the road, when all the dust has settled and everyone's happy again for a change, he'll look back at this moment and laugh about it. Operation GTFO, he would later call it. The first and hopefully the last time he has to pull some spy movie shit and perhaps quite literally risk getting killed.

He exchanges glances with Hakyeon, who looks surprisingly calm as he straights his shirt and cracks his neck.

"You ready?" Hoseok asks, which has Yoongi rolling his eyes and telling him that Hoseok looks like the most nervous one out of all of them.

"Can we please just do this before I change my mind?" Hakyeon grumbles, giving Hoseok a pointed look. "I'd rather use this time to beat the living shit out of that asshole if we're just gonna stand around." Hakyeon has yet to calm down from the initial shock and anger from finding out that his own crew member started this shitstorm.

"And I thought you're the pissy one," Hoseok whispers to Yoongi, earning a punch in the arm. "Alright, Hakyeon, you're up."

"Finally," the lithe man rolls his eyes and then walks over to where one of the staff members is standing in front of the door of the room where Jungkook is supposedly held captive. The staff member is quite young, and judging from the oversized badge he has hanging around his neck, he's either an intern or a newbie, and this was exactly what Hoseok, Yoongi and Hakyeon were waiting for.

"You can't go in there," the man states as the choreographer approaches the door. Hakyeon raises his chin and straightens up, using his height to his advantage.

"Wanna bet I can and I will?" the dancer hisses out vehemently, his arms crossed in front of his chest.

"Company order. I can't let anyone in."

"Move."

"I said-"

"You're clearly new to the company, so maybe you don't know. There's two people you don't want to fuck with around here - Min Yoongi and Cha Hakyeon, and I'm one of 'em," Hakyeon continues with a fake smile that sends a chill down the poor newbie's spine. Judging from the expression on the smaller man's face, he's clearly heard of both names.

"Why don't you take a quick break after giving me the keys so I can have a little talk with Jungkookie right here?" he gives the man's shoulder a not-so-gentle squeeze and watches in satisfaction as the man nods dumbly and scurries off after handing him a key. Hoseok watches the entire interaction and then does a fist pump. He's glad that Hakyeon is such a menacing little fucker when he wants to be.

The choreographer waits for the hallways to clear before unlocking the door and motioning for the other two to come.

"Jeon fucking Jungkook, you little shit!" Yoongi grits out as soon as he enters the doorway, because he has zero patience for the kid. He has so many questions and so much shit to say to Jungkook's face, because he's already warned the little shit about this possibilty. However, all words get caught in his throat once he catches a glimpse of Jungkook's withering form.

Jungkook used to be so vibrant, with cheeks that were always a bit full even with weight loss, but now the cheeks are sunken, and his usually twinkling eyes were hollow. His hair is a messy mop of brittle locks, his lips dry and cracked and his skin ashen. Hoseok insintinctively runs towards the dongsaeng and cups the singer's cheeks with his hands.

Yoongi freezes, a lump in his throat and a dull ache in his chest. There are images of younger Jungkook playing in his head. Jungkook had been so excited about every opportunity to perform, big or small. He'd crack his toothy bunny smile after a particularly well-done stage and talk about how much everything still feels like a dream. Jungkook had been so happy. So happy that the years of hard work did not betray him. Yoongi knows painfully well what it's like to finally be able to reach that goal in life, and Jungkook had it. He was there, standing with his dream already in his arms.

"Jungkook! Oh god! What happened to you? Are you OK? Have they not been feeding you?"

"....Ho...Hoseok hyung...?"

"Yeah, it's me, you're a mess, what-"

"Jeon Jungkook! What the fuck did I tell you! I told you to stay away!" Yoongi's outburst has everyone else jump, but the rapper doesn't care. He's so furious he doesn't know what else to do with the anger bubbling inside him. He can't believe that everything is such a mess. He never wanted to see Jungkook like this. He wanted the kid to always be happy and live his dream, but right now, the once confident and lively singer looks like a fragment of what he used to be, and it's driving him insane. He's so mad. He's just so, so mad at everything and everyone, himself included. He should've played a more active role in stopping this from happening. It was his responsibility as a hyung to keep Jungkook safe.

"...hyung.." Jungkook croaks out, his eyes pained.

"You dumb piece of shit!" Yoongi continues to yell and throws the first thing he gets his hands on. He doesn't even know what he's thrown, but it makes a dull noise as it hits the wall in front of him.

"Yoongi, you need to calm down," Hoseok tries, putting an arm on Yoongi, which the smaller man promptly brushes off.

"Don't tell me to calm down! Look what fucking happened!"

"I know, but there's no point yelling at him about it!"

"Hyungs...how is...how is Jimin?" The question throws both men off. Yoongi exhales loudly and then brushes back his hair with both his hands. Hoseok gnaws at his lower lip, debating whether he should tell Jungkook everything or not.

"How much do you know?" Hoseok finally asks after a stretch of uncomfortable silence.

"Nothing...they took my phone as soon as it happened and I've been here since..."

"First things first. I need to hear it from you directly. Were you two really dating?" Hoseok asks, hoping that perhaps everyone had been wrong about the entire situation. He's only heard Jimin's side of things, and especially following the very public video regarding Jimin's confession, he's not quite sure what to believe anymore.

"..Yeah."

"Since when?"

"Since...even before my comeback."

"Why didn't you tell me? Or Yoongi? You didn't even tell us you were into men to begin with. It's like...we knew nothing about any of this."

"I was afraid you'd try to break us apart...I was scared of anyone finding out," Jungkook lets out hoarsely and shuts his eyes as if it brings him physical pain to say those words.

"Jesus, Jungkook...Damn it..." Hoseok breathes out. He doesn't even know where to start to untangle this web of mess. He doesn't even have the energy to focus on the hurt he's feeling.

"What about Jimin? Is he OK?"

"He's uh....shit, OK, Jungkook, I don't know any other way to spin this so here it is...Jimin just publicly stated that it was a one-sided thing."

"...What?"

"He said that he had feelings for you and forced himself onto you and that's when the photo was taken. He apologized and everything for it, and now people are more sympathetic than anything else about you. I think the agency is going to talk you into releasing your own public statement agreeing to the story..."

"He...he what?"

"Look, kiddo-"

Hoseok is quickly stopped when Jungkook abruptly gets off the bed, sways a little bit and then rushes out the room. Yoongi curses under his breath and grabs the singer by the arm. Jungkook puts up a fight but is too weak and is eventually pushed back onto the bed by the two older men.

"What the fuck were you gonna do by just running out the room?" Yoongi asks, unimpressed. "Jimin gave you a way out. You fucking take it and do as the agency says. That's the only way you're going to save your career."

"I can't lose him," Jungkook lets out, his voice still coarse from lack of use.

"You already have. You'll live, wake the fuck up Jungkook, and don't make his efforts go to waste."

"I can't do that to Jimin!" Jungkook cries out, clawing at his own legs. He doesn't want Jimin making sacrifices for him. It's not fair that Jimin would take the fall for everything. None of this is Jimin's fault. He had made the decision to put his own career on the line, and he's not some dumb young kid who had been oblivious to the possible consequences of pursuing Jimin. He knows he's fucked up. The hours spent in solitary confinement was more than enough for him to see that he's straight-up, without question, fucked everything up, and sure, maybe years from now, he'll regret it. Maybe he'll hate himself forever for giving up on everything, but not now.

"You didn't do anything. He did it to himself. Now snap out of it and just do as you're told. You've come way too far to just let it all go to shit, Jungkook."

"No....I can't...I need to see Jimin..."

"Are you insane? Do you really want to fuck everything up so badly? You're not thinking straight! It's not the end of the world for you to not be with that kid!"

"It is! It is for me!" Jungkook yells out, back on his feet and his shoulders square. Yoongi narrows his eyes, not at all cowering under the intense gaze.

"Are you really willing to bet everything you've worked for for some kid that you don't even know if you're going to end up with for the rest of your life? I mean, the kid's only in high school. For all I know, it could just be a stupid fling. And plus, wasn't he your fan? You don't think he's just dating you because he liked you as the singer?"

"Don't. What we had was much bigger than that," Jungkook grits out with conviction.

"So you lose everything now and down the road, you two break up. Then what? You think you can pick up where you left off?"

"I'm not stupid."

"You're really willing to risk everything for him?"

"Yes. I can't continue being a singer knowing I've done something like this to Jimin. I can't be proud of who I am until I make this right. I'm proud to be with someone like Jimin, hyung. I didn't do anything wrong by falling in love with him. Please..."

Yoongi, for a split second, sees Namjoon's image overlapping with Jungkook's. Namjoon had been so stupid. That idiot had literally given up his hopes and dreams to be with the one man who had his heart. The whole time, Yoongi had seen the two mature together. He'd witnessed their love for each other grow and create a bond that couldn't be broken, so when Namjoon ran away with Seokjin, a small part of him simply understood that it was something that needed to be done. Afterall, Seokjin was the air Namjoon breathed and he would never try to take that away from his friend.

Is this what it was? This inexplicable bond between Jungkook and Jimin. And who is he to deny anyone the right to the air they breathe?

 

 

-

 

 

 


Taehyung refuses to go to school and insists on staying at home with Jimin, and Seokjin doesn't even try to persuade his brother to do return to the classroom. That day, when he went to school to pick Jimin up, he had seen how ugly their classmates could be, and he doesn't think he'd ever want Jimin or Taehyung to ever return to such a hateful environment. Seokjin curls himself into a tighter fetal position on the bed as he wills his brain to stop buzzing so loudly.

It's funny how something so insignificant as a photo taken at night with a cellphone can wreck the lives of so many people simultaneously. Jimin was doing so well. He was recovering from the accident and his father's abuse so well. Jimin had finally found a goal in life and looked so happy being able to dance and travel and do what he's always wanted to do. Seokjin had genuinely believed that Jimin had finally found a place for himself, but it was ripped out of his hands so easily. All because of jealousy. All because of one conversation at a random diner in New York. All because of one stupid photo.

All the anger that had been directed at both Jungkook and Jimin were now focused on just Jimin. If Seokjin thought people were nasty before, he was dreadfully wrong. People were threatening to literally kill Jimin for trying to sabotage Jungkook's career, and the company was just fueling the negative energy to gain sympathy from the general public for future profit. Jimin's photos and personal information (luckily nothing about the Kim residence yet) were spreading across the internet like wildfire, and macabre photoshopped images of Jimin covered in blood or his eyes cut out were circulating on all SNS platforms.

Jimin's stopped eating altogether. More accurately, Jimin tried to stomach food per Seokjin's request, but Jimin violently threw up everything he ingested and had stayed away from food since. Seokjin tells Taehyung to keep an eye on the teen to at least make sure that he stays hydrated. He wants to hate Jungkook, he really does, but he can't bring himself to once he hears that he's every bit of a mess himself as well. Hoseok had informed him that Jungkook will finally be released so he can confirm Jimin's story face-to-face. Seokjin is torn between trying to understand Jungkook's side of things and hating the singer's guts for letting Jimin take the fall. Frankly, he's leaning much towards the latter, but Yoongi and Hoseok keeps telling him to wait and give the kid a chance.

He knows that he needs to respect Jimin's decision, but he wishes that Jimin would have at least spoken to him about it beforehand. In all honesty, he hadn't expected Jimin to pull something like that. Jimin wasn't the type to make a public statement and become the center of hateful attention. Jimin was always the quiet kid who liked to keep things to himself. Was it the relationship that changed Jimin so much? Seokjin wonders. He tries to understand, because he himself went from the quiet, docile heir to a business empire to the independent and strong Kim Seokjin he is now.

He's about to venture into the kitchen to get himself a glass of water when his phone vibrates besides him. Hoping it's Namjoon with any kind of good news, he opens it and finds that Yoongi has sent him a youtube link and a short message asking him to make sure Jimin sees it too. He curiously opens the link.

Inside the video is Jungkook. Seokjin can't tell where it's being taken or who he's with, but he's too shocked by how worn out the singer looks. Jungkook smiles weakly, looks away from the camera for a split second before staring right back at Seokjin before speaking.

As soon as the video finishes, Seokjin fumbles to get off the bed and crashes into his own doorway during his process to get to Jimin as quickly as possible. It's going to bruise, but he doesn't care. He barges straight into Jimin's room without even bothering to knock and finds Jimin huddled over the bed next to Taehyung, looking like a lifeless doll.

"Jimin, Jimin, you have to see this," Seokjin manages to blurt out as he hands the phone to Jimin. Taehyung takes it instead with a curious look and plays the video, turning the sound up as he does so.

"Uh Jimin, it's Jungkook."

Jimin finally looks up at the name and shifts so that he has a clear view of Jungkook in front of him. Jimin grits his teeth, willing himself not to cry, because he's tried so hard to not let the tears win him over. He made the decision to help Jungkook and he was going to have to live with it. He can't break down and cry like this. He had to be strong for Jungkook.

 

 

"Hello, it's Jungkook...first and foremost, I'd like to apologize to anyone watching that I took so long to speak out about the situation. I'm sure a lot of you were confused, angry or even sad at the news. Before I say anything, I just want to get a few things off my chest.

I want to say that...I am and have always been the same Jungkook from the performances you've watched or songs you've listened to. Nothing's changed, but I also know that I can't do anything about how you feel about me. I know I'll probably never be able to perform again, but I know I'll always treasure every single one of the ones I did until now, and please know that I have always loved and appreciated every single one of my fans and those who've shown me support. Every single one of you made everything possible, and I'll never forget this gift I was able to experience.

I know there has been a lot of speculations regarding my relationship with Park Jimin, and I'm aware that Park Jimin has released an official statement explaining the circumstances behind the photograph. Well, I'm here to say it with pride that I've been romantically involved with Park Jimin and that he had only been lying to try to help me.

Again, I want to say...I'm the same Jeon Jungkook that I have always been, regardless of my sexuality. I know that there are a few of you who's supported me throughout this dark times, and I want to say thank you and that it means the world to me. Thank you, and to Park Jimin. Thank you, I miss you and I love you."

 

 


-

 

 

 

It's almost 4 in the morning when Namjoon returns home to a bleary-eyes Seokjin pacing across the living room. Seokjin opens his mouth to yell at his boyfriend to ask where the hell he's been but quickly sees that Namjoon's not alone. Behind him is another man, his face covered with a black mask and a hat drawn over his eyes.

The man slowly takes his hat and mask off, and Seokjin gasps when he realizes it's Jeon Jungkook. The singer looks up apologetically, and Namjoon guides him into the living room.

"What is happening here?" Seokjin asks hoarsely, his eyes still fixed on the celebrity. Jungkook looked quite worn out in the video, but he looked a lot worse in real life. The singer swallows hard and then glances at Namjoon, as if asking for permission. Namjoon nods and turns to his boyfriend.

"We had to get him away from the company as soon as he posted the video...and no one could find a safe place except...here. I'm sorry, I know I should've explained everything to you beforehand. He couldn't stay with Yoongi, Hoseok, or anyone from the company or any other singer," Namjoon explains frantically, mistaking Seokjin's look of shock and confusion with that of anger.

"Look, fine, that's fine...just...God, let me just process this for a second," Seokjin states with a hand held up. "OK, of course you can stay," Seokjin mumbles a moment later. He's grown a soft spot for the singer as soon as he finished watching the video. He had applauded the younger man's courage and his genuine feelings towards Jimin, and as far as he was concerned, Jungkook was family to him as well if he's willing to do so much for Jimin.

"Jimin..." Jungkook begins, his voice scratchy. "Is he here? Can I see him...?"

"He's in his room. Probably sleeping. Tae's in there too," Seokjin answers gently, waving vaguely towards the room's direction. Jungkook nods and shoots the man a grateful look before heading towards Jimin's room. His hand hovers over the doorknob. Just on the other side is the one person he had thought about during the entire time he had been held captive. His heart is beating so loudly in his head, he's not if he would be able to hear his own voice. He turns the handle and gently pushes the door open. There is a small lamp illuminating the vicinity, drawing a thin blanket of light across Jimin's sleeping feature. Taehyung is sound alseep as well behind the teen, his mouth ajar and his legs crossed.

There's a lump in Jungkook's throat as he takes careful steps towards Jimin. Jimin looks so small and fragile, his skin pale and worn, his cheeks sunken and eyes swollen. Jungkook kneels besides the bed and gently places his lips against the sleeping teen's temple, then his cheek and then the knuckles of Jimin's hands. Jimin stirs awake, and his eyes flutter open slowly. For a moment, there's nothing. Jimin is staring into Jungkook's eyes as the singer takes the teen's hand into his.

"....Am I dreaming again?" Jimin asks no one in particular as he blinks slowly. His lips curl into a soft smile, still believing that the Jungkook in front of him is nothing more that the byproduct of his wishful thinking. Jungkook shakes his head and kisses the back of Jimin's hand again before flashing a teary-eyed grin.

"No. It's really me. I missed you, Park Jimin," Jungkook replies and watches as Jimin's eyes enlarge before him. The teen hurriedly pulls himself up into a sitting position, his feet touching the floor next to the bed.

"Hyung..." Jimin breathes out, still not able to believe that it is in fact Jungkook in the flesh in front of him. He reaches out to touch Jungkook's face, brushing his fingers against the sharp and round contours of his features. Jungkook's skin feels warm against his cool fingertips, and for the first time in a while, Jimin reminds himself what warmth is.

"God, I missed you," Jungkook lets out before he leans forward and kisses Jimin as if his entire life depends on the very moment. Jimin wraps his arms around his boyfriend's neck and deepens the kiss, ignoring the trail of tears down his cheeks. He can't control the way his heart starts beating so loudly again, aching in the process as if whirs awake. He pushes his body further against Jungkook, needing the touch and wanting proof that this isn't another one of his dreams.

"What...how are you here?" Jimin asks once they finally pull apart. Jungkook has his arms woven tightly around Jimin's waist in a silent promise to never let go again, and Jimin has his fingers holding onto the fabric of Jungkook's tee.

"Did you see the video?"

Jimin nods and furiously wipes at the tears flowly freely.

"I had to run away after making it...and Namjoon hyung let me come here."

"Why did you do it," Jimin begins slowly, his voice all of a sudden sad. His heart had dropped as soon as he watched the video. Jimin had wanted so badly for Jungkook to just let him take the fall, but Jungkook publicly told the rest of Korea that he would have none of that. It hurt Jimin, because there was no going back from something so solid. Rumors were now confirmations, and the possibility of Jungkook making a grand comeback dissipated with it.

"Because I couldn't let you lose everything. Because I don't want to have to hide you or who I am. Because I couldn't stand the thought of losing you. I guess there wasn't any reason for me not to do it."

 

 


-

 

 

 

"...You're being serious," Seokjin breathes out, setting the glass filled halfway with water onto the counter so he doesn't drop it onto the floor. "You're actually being serious," he repeats, staring directly into his boyfriend's eyes. He searches and searches, yet he can find even a hint of hesitation in those eyes. "Joon..."

"I know. I know what you're thinking and...I gave it a lot of thought too, but it's something I want to do. It's something I should've done a long time ago. Now that I think about it, I don't even know why it took me so long to even think about doing it," Namjoon fires away rapidly, rushing over to grab a hold of his boyfriend's hands tightly. He needs Jin to understand him. He needs Jin to say yes.

"Joon, I love you, you know that. I love you with everything I have, and that's why I can't say yes to what you're telling me," Seokjin nearly pleads, giving the other man's hands a gentle squeeze. "You've come so far. This is what you've always wanted..."

"I know, I know it is, but this is what I've always wanted too."

"But why now?"

"Watching Jungkook and Jimin made me think a lot of things....they're so much younger than we are and you can't deny some of the similarties with what we faced years ago and yet...look what they're doing for each other. You can't tell me that you don't see it too."

Seokjin purses his lips into a straight line, wanting to argue against everything his boyfriend has just said, yet deep inside, he can't bring himself to do so, because Namjoon's right. He sees it loud and clear. Jungkook and Jimin, despite their differences and risks, each made sacrifices for each other and stayed true to who they are against the world. Jimin had been such a small, fragile child when they first met. Jimin would hesitate before asking for more popcorn and would bottle everything up. Jimin would avoid eye contact and shy away from people. Seokjin had watched the boy grow stronger, more independent. There was a small fire inside Jimin, and Seokjin had witness it happening from the very beginning.

Who would've thought the fire would grow and grow so big? When had it all happened?

"Joon, I know, but...I can't let you do that to yourself...I've already seen it happen once, you can't make me watch it again...There's no turning back from this, Joon."

"Maybe this isn't the dream I've wanted. Yeah, I love rapping and performing, but...now I see that my dream isn't hiding and running away. And plus, I want to do this for Jungkook and Jimin. I want them to know that I support them no matter what."

"What if you regret this?"

"I won't. I promise. But I know I'll regret it for the rest of my life if I don't do this, Jin. For me. For us."

Namjoon presses his forehead against his boyfriend's and wraps his arms around the other man's slender waist. Seokjin exhales slowly and pulls back slightly to look directly into Namjoon's eyes. This is it. This really is it.

"Fine, but you're not doing it alone. We do this together, as we always have."

 

 

-

 

 


"You're going to what?" Yoongi asks, lurching forward from the chair he's sitting on. Hoseok is staring at Namjoon with his jaws slack and eyes blank, and Namjoon can't help but wanting to run a way just a littie bit.

"Guys I know-"

"Are you serious or are you fucking with us?" Yoongi asks, subconsciously brushing his lips with his fingertips. He's already mentally and physically worn out from the endless shitstorm that had headed their way, and he just can't deal with Namjoon and one of his dumb jokes.

"I'm serious."

"You're serious. You're actually serious," Hoseok mumbles out, his eyes still fixed on his friend. Namjoon nods solemly, dropping his gaze, because he can no longer bear the guilt. He knows perfectly well what he's asking of the two men. Hoseok and Yoongi had stuck with him through thin and thick and had already forgiven him once for abandoning them years back. He understands perfectly well that he's being selfish, but he wants them to support him just this one last time.

"And I just wanted both your permission...and I understand if you say no. I can't force your careers down the drain too," Namjoon explains gravely. Persuading Seokjin was one thing. Persuading these two was a completely different thing.

Yoongi shuts his eyes, because the light in the room all of a sudden feels overwhelming. He tries to understand where Namjoon's coming from, and he gets it. The rational part of him gets it, but he can't readily agree to it as he thinks about all the efforts he's poured into making all their dreams a reality. But then he remembers. Remembers why this dream even started. It had always been Namjoon and Hoseok besides him to encourage him to write lyrics and create songs. Namjoon had always been honest with him and constantly motivated Yoongi to be better.

He recalls the dingy apartment in Hongdae where the three of them crowded together in that disgusting living room to write lyrics and poke fun of each other. The place was a dump, but it was their special sanctuary, and it was special because it was always the three of them together. Yoongi thinks about the spotlight and the thousands of fans who come to watch them now, yet those pale in comparision when he remebers all those stale pizzas, latenight recording and performing on streets....

"Kim Namjoon, you fucking asshole. The worst decision I've made in my life is becoming friends with you, you little shit," Yoongi hisses his eyes finally snapping back open. "But fuck it. I'm in. We started from the bottom twice already. Why not make it three."

"Shit, if great Min Yoongi says that, I can't argue now, can I," Hoseok adds with a lopsided grin.

 

 

-

 

 


The next day, the internet blows up yet again when Namjoon posts a picture of himself kissing Seokjin on his instagram. People go crazy trying to figure out if this is a parody of Jungkook's situation or real and who the other man in the photo is.

 

 

Just an hour later, Hoseok uploads a picture of himself kissing Yoongi full on the lips.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 


"Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, have you both lost your minds?"

The two rappers being addressed glance at each other and shrug before looking back at Seokjin, who genuinely looks like an angry mother scolding her children. The two are now at the Kim residence, deciding they might as well hide with everyone else now that the photos are out. The agency knew where they lived, and the safest place was with Namjoon and Seokjin, who surprisingly managed to keep their address a secret from the rest of Korea.

"What, it's OK for you to do it, but not us?" Yoongi retorts with a not-so-elegant snort before lying across the familiar couch. Hoseok chuckles and pushes Yoongi to make room for himself. Seokjin, however, doesn't look at all impressed.

"It's OK for us, because we're gay. You guys aren't."

"Will you just calm down?" Hoseok says with a roll of his eyes, motioning for Seokjin to sit down as well. "It's not the end of the world. Plus, it's not like Namjoon's going to stay with the agency after pulling shit like that, and frankly, we don't want to stick around unless he is," he continues as he pushes Yoongi harder. The blond rapper shoots the lanky man a scalding look before moving his legs.

"And I appreciate that but-"

"Jesus, will you just stop it already?" Yoongi hisses out, throwing a cushion at his friend. "It happened. Nothing we can do now. Get over it. Just be happy that I had to endure kissing Ho-shit for both you bitches."

"Endure? You mean have the pleasure of."

"Fuck off."

"He's just being shy," Hoseok cooes playfully and yelps when Yoongi's right foot connects with his left side. "You're just bitter because you secretly enjoyed it!"

"Shut the fuck up. I'm never doing that shit ever again," Yoongi grumbles and shuts his eyes. He hadn't gotten much sleep since the photograph leak, and the fact that Namjoon decided to go public with his relationship didn't help his state of mind too much. The decision to create a kissing selfie of their own was sort of a spur of the moment thing. They both knew that agreeing to Namjoon meant the end of their career with the agency as well, and they figured that if they're going to go down, they might as well go down with a bang and show their support.

Yoongi makes a face as he remembers what taking that selfie was like. Kissing Hoseok had been weird, even if it was without tongue and was strictly business. Hoseok thought it was hilarious, but Yoongi, not so much.

"Where's Joon and Tae?" Hoseok asks looking around the living room.

"Joon is taking a shower and Tae's out to get some stuff," Seokjin answers after a defeated sigh, knowing that there's nothing he can do about his two friends.

"Kookie is here too, right? Where is he?"

"With Jimin in his room. I think they're sleeping."

"How are they?" Yoongi asks, his eyes still closed. He wants to see Jungkook, but he's not sure if he's ready to face Jimin. Partly, because he can't help but feel that Jimin is partly responsible for shit hitting the fan, and partly because of the guilt of having wanted Jimin to take the fall to salvage Jungkook's career.

"Not sure. They just spend a lot of time in that room together and Jungkook doesn't talk as much...but at least they're eating again."

"What are you going to do about the diner?" Hoseok asks, suddenly remembering that Seokjin used to run that place. He doesn't think it's going to be possible for Seokjin to return to that place now that his face has been made so public.

"Not sure. It's closed for the time being...and I guess I can always sell it or...I don't know, hire someone else to take care of it when this is all over," Seokjin answers, not without a hint of sadness in his voice. Hoseok swallows visibly. He had been so absorbed in his own career being ruined that he had overlooked Seokjin's dream of owning a small restaurant where he can try out new menus and stay out of the spotlight. He knows that being under scrutiny was something Seokjin hated and he was probably risking his father finding out about him as well.

"How's Joon doing?"

"He's....doing surprisingly well. Or he's just hiding it, I'm not sure...but so far he's been OK. Maybe it'll hit him later."

Just then, the front door flings open, and Taehyung walks into the living with a bag of groceries in one hand.

"Oh, hey hyungs! Nice pic by the way. Frankly, I think it could've been a bit sexier, but-"

"Talk about the kiss one more time and I'll end you," Yoongi growls playfully as he pulls himself up into a sitting position. Taehyung laughs and sets the bag down on one of the kitchen counters before sauntering into the living room.

Seokjin and Namjoon had been quite afraid of breaking the news to Taehyung, because they were scared that Taehyung already had too much to deal with. However, Taehyung, against their expectation, thought it was a brilliant idea and told them that he will be proud of them no matter what they did. In fact, Taehyung volunteered to do a gay kiss selfie as well but was stopped by both Seokjin and Namjoon who explained that they can't put everyone on the line.

 


"Oh come on, it was a nice pic," Taehyung counters with a cheeky grin as he drapes himself over Yoongi and Hoseok like an attention-seeking puppy.

"I know, right?" Hoseok quips, patting Taehyung on the head. "Yoongi just wants to be a bitch about it."

"Fuck off. Both of you."

"Surprised you guys did it though...wait, you guys aren't dating, right?" Taehyung asks, suddenly wondering if it was the two rappers' way of coming out to the closet.

"God no, even if I was gay, I'd have better taste," Hoseok says with a roll of his eyes and a flick of his wrist. He ignores the way Yoongi is watching him with an impressive scowl on his face. All four men's heads turn when they hear a door closing, followed by loud footsteps they know must belong to Namjoon. As expected, the tall rapper enters the living room dressed in only a pair of boxers and a towel hung over his head.

"What the fuck? When did you guys get here?" Namjoon asks as he spots his fellow rappers on the couch.

"A few minutes ago," Hoseok answers and then makes a face. "And put something on. You're hurting my eyes."

"Dickwad," Namjoon quips and proceeds to towel-dry his hair. Namjoon, who hadn't expected Yoongi and Hoseok to upload a post as well had called them and demaded to know what the hell they were thinking. The two had simply answered that they're bros for life and that they don't give a shit what other people think. If people want to think they're dating, then be it, because some things mattered more in life than the opinions of close-minded douchebags.

"Hey, let me go get Jimin and Jungkook hyung," Taehyung says as he hops off the couch. Yoongi opens his mouth to protest but is stopped by Hoseok's enthusiasm and Namjoon's sage nodding. He's not ready to face Jimin, but it seems that things just aren't willing to go his way anymore.

A few minutes later, they hear loud and quick footsteps, followed by Jungkook, who looks as if he's just woken up. The singer's shoulders slump when his eyes land on Hoseok and Yoongi, and when Hoseok gets up to pull him into a tight hug, Jungkook starts crying uncontrollably. Both Seokjin and Namjoon are quite taken back by the sudden display of vulnerability, because throughout this ordeal, Jungkook had stayed so strong and fearless. But right now, crying in Hoseok's arms, Jungkook looks almost like a small child, and Seokjin sees that perhaps that's what Jungkook is and has been all along.

Despite his popularity, fame and achievements, Jungkook was still a young man in his early 20s still trying to figure out life. Jungkook wasn't some kind of a machine that performed on stage and endured hateful comments like a pro. He was so much more than that, and Seokjin wonders how he's missed it all.

Hoseok is smiling sadly, rubbing his hands up and down Jungkook's back while whispering soft words of comfort. Hoseok himself looks like he's about to cry, and Yoongi can see how hard his friend is trying to keep the tears at bay.

There are softer footsteps, and behind Jungkook is now Jimin standing with his eyes wide open. Yoongi looks away as soon as he catches a glimpse of the boy's fragile state, and the guilt of having wanted to take advantage of Jimin's goodwill gnaws at him. He's only cared about Jungkook's side of things, because frankly, he was never close to Jimin to begin with, but he's starting to see that he'd been wrong.

Hoseok, now a bit of an emotional wreck himself, pulls Jimin in for a hug as well, and the three stay huddled together, teary eyed and small. Seokjin looks away, his mouth covered with his hand, and it takes every ounce of his willpower to not start crying when Namjoon wraps a tight arm around him.

Yoongi waits for Jimin to calm down a bit before he makes his way towards the teen. "Thank you...for everything you've done for Jungkook," Yoongi says softly, ignoring the wide-eyed looks he's getting from everyone else in the room. Jimin blinks owlishly and stares. "It must've been tough to make that video and put yourself on the line like that...so I just wanted to say thanks. That's it," he finishes quickly before marching back to the couch and planting himself on it.

"Wow, did Min Yoongi just show his appreciation for something?" Hoseok says, wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand. Jungkook laughs in between hiccups as Jimin blushes and plays with his own hands.

"I think you transferred some of your happy virus to him when you two kissed," Taehyung comments with a boxy grin, earning himself a smack in the head from Yoongi.

And in that moment, among teary eyes and small laughters, all seven men begin to think that perhaps things aren't going to be as bad.

 

 


-

 

 

 

The three rappers, while not as famous as Jungkook, still cause a stir with the photographs, especially among those who are already seething at Jungkook's personal video. Ongoing debates come up with multiple speculations behind the photo, ranging from the possibililty of Jungkook's entire scandal being some kind of a PR stunt for an upcoming gay film to the possibility of all six of them actually being gay. People try to argue that it's not possible for four artists under the same label to be gay and the company to be OK with them coming out.

Nonetheless, people are still enraged by their actions and demand that they be banned from ever performing or showing their faces on TV ever again, and some churches take this opportunity to talk about whhat an abomination homosexuality is and how the Devil is using singers like Jungkook and the power of mass media to deviate all people from God.

It doesn't take that long for people to figure out that the man alongside Namjoon in the photo is the older son of one of the most powerful companies in Asia. Seokjin sometimes forgets how well he's known, because he has long forgotten about that particular past, but people who he's worked with in the company and business journalists who had kept a close eye on the heir recognize him immediately. In all honesty, Seokjin is afraid of being found out. It wouldn't take much for his father to locate where he is and hurt everyone involved, yet he stands strong besides his boyfriend, ready to face the storm head-on.

Journalists and gossip websites aren't sure what to focus more on. The fact that three more celebrities, especially in the hip-hop scene, have come out of the closet or the child of one of the most powerful people in Korea is dating another man.

 

 


-

 

 


"This is...nice," Jungkook murmurs against Jimin's temple and plants a lazy kiss against the small patch of skin. Jimin smiles sleepily and then slowly opens his eyes. The room's dimly lit from the particles of light that managed to pass through the curtains, and only the even sound of their breathing fills the room. Jimin's not sure what time it is or even exactly what day of the week it is. Everything's a blur without his phone or the spare laptop in the room to tell him what time it is. But he doesn't mind it. He likes it this way. Being away from the rest of the angry world and instead creating a space just big enough for the two of them.

Jungkook finds himself surprisingly calm as his brain slowly disconnects from everything outside of the apartment. Usually, he'd be woken up at God knows what time in the morning to get his hair and makeup done, just to be immediately hauled to a performance, an interview or a variety show, followed by hours of practice, just to get his makeup done again for another performance. There's none of that today. It's just him and Jimin in this cozy little room, each other's warmth providing company. Jungkook knows that, rationally, he should be scared out of his mind and worried until he can no longer function. He had single-handed flushed years of hardwork and sacrifices down the drain, and he has no idea what he's going to do for the rest of his life. Yet, as he inhales the familiar scent that is Jimin lying next to, he finds the courage to will the fear away.

After the video was uploaded, Namjoon spoke to him about his story regarding Seokjin. Jungkook always suspected that something must be going on between the two older man, but it was oddly shocking to hear it from the rapper himself. Then Namjoon told him the story about how they met and the sacrifices he himself had to make, and it all just made sense in his head. He had done the right thing. He had done right to choose Jimin over his career.

Jungkook knows it's only a matter of time before he has to really face the consequences of his actions. Brands will sue him, and so will the company. He's earned a lot of money during his career, but he's not sure if he'll be able to pay off all the lawsuits he's about to lose. But he doesn't want to think about that right now. Right now, in this moment, the only thing that matters is that he has made the decision to remain next to Park Jimin. Things will come. Things will happen. But he'll face them holding Jimin's hand.

 

 


-

 

 

The butterfly effect. They're all aware of what it signifies, yet none of them could have expected the implications of the theory in its full force.

It starts with GOT7.

Once Jungkook's video is released online, small changes began to happen within the GOT7 dormitory. Jaebum starts seeing things in a different light. He had tried so hard to hide who he is, and then Jungkook comes out of nowhere and proudly says that he's in love with another man. At first, Jaebum couldn't believe how utterly idiotic his friend is and is shocked that Jungkook of all people are gay. How had he not known? They had spent a considerable amount of time together, especially since Jackson used to drag him to their dorm all the time when they first debuted.

When the company forced Jaebum to break off his relationship with his boyfriend and pretend-date a girl group member instead, he took it as fate. He didn't even question the course of action, because he simply believed it was what had to be done. They took his phone away and gave him a new one and even monitored all his calls to make sure he wasn't contacting his now ex-boyfriend ever again. They made him take photos with the girl member instead, and even to this day, he doesn't know more than her name.

Then Jungkook comes out of nowhere with this nuclear bomb of a confession, and Jaebum is rethinking his entire life. Jungkook made a choice that he didn't even know was a possibility. Jungkook was able to show the world his true self with pride and dignity. Jaebum listened to his English-speaking members talk about fans responding from outside of Korea. American and European ARMYs were more than supportive, in fact quite outraged that Jungkook was being hated on so badly by Korean netizens. There was an overwhelming number of tweets and tumblr posts talking about how much they accept Jungkook for who he is and how much they appreciate his bravery.

Then Rap-Monster, Suga and J-Hope all simultaneously come out of the closet, and Jaebum's mind is blow. Three talented rappers who're just getting started on their big career all came out without a hint of remorse or hesitation. They had been so brave, all to fight for who they truly are.

The courage moves him, and he decides to tell the rest of the team about his sexuality that very evening. The members all act differently. The foreign members, as expected, are completely OK with it, as soon as they overcome their initial shock. Yugeom sort of just goes with it uncertainly, while Youngjae just nods quietly and Jinyoung musters enough courage himself to admit that he's bisexual, eventhough he's never actually had a chance to date a man.

Then Jackson and Mark takes it a step further and decides to show his support for both their leader Jaebum and their friend Jungkook by posting a selfie of them kissing as well. The entire GOT7 fandom blows up immediately, and it doesn't take long for GOT7 to start trending, alongside the tag #marksonisreal.

"Can you at least fucking tell us before your start doing shit like this?" Youngjae mutters with a roll of his eyes as soon as he sees that the photo is uploaded. He's not too happy about it initially, because having the team know is very different from having the rest of the world know. He knows that their company is going to lose their shit over this, but at this point, he figures, what the hell, if they're going down, might as well go down together.

So he grabs Yugeom by the collar and pulls him into kiss before quickly taking a selfie. Both men stick their tongues out in disgust and kick each other screaming, but Youngjae posts the picture anyway, much to the confusion of their fandom.

Jaebum, who had been trying very hard not to cry in front of the other members nearly breaks down when Jinyoung gives his hand a squeeze and dangles his phone in his hand with raised eyebrows. Jaebum laughs and then nod and waits for Jinyoung to turn the camera on before lean towards each other for a kiss. They both know the kiss is strictly platonic. Nothing will happen between the two even if it is between a gay male and a bisexual one, but they do it anyway and revel in the sense of liberation shooting through their bodies.

By the time all the pictures are posted online, the kpop community is left confused, trying to figure out if GOT7 is being serious or if they're trying to be funny.

Oh Sehun, who had been keeping an eye on the issue since the day Jungkook's photos were leaked, can no longer keep himself from speaking out. Jungkook was an amazing individual that he respected and genuinely liked as another human being. All this time, he had remained quiet on company's order, but he can't anymore. He doesn't know if any one of his team members is gay, and frankly he doesn't expect them to be open about it anytime soon even if they are. But right nowhere is an important matter at hand, and he needs to take actions. He needs to show Jungkook that he will support him no matter what.

It's no question that there is quite a number of gay celebrities in Korea. Most of them kept quiet about it, but the industry itself sort of functioned under a trust system that helped each other not be outed to the public. Jungkook just happened to be the unfortunate victim, and he's finding it all too unfair that everyone is choosing to remain silent in the manner. The only people who's spoken about the issue were Hong Seokcheon and a few other actors and actresses who applauded Jungkook's courage.

 


Then GOT7 released photos of them kissing each other, each with some variation with the phrase "gay and proud!" and he can no longer keep himself from speaking out. So he asks his partner in crime Chanyeol to do a kissing selfie with him, and although Chanyeol puts up a fight at first, he listens to Sehun's points and obliges in the end. The picture of Chanyeol and Sehun kisses takes blowing up the internet to a whole new level. Fans from all over Asia and the rest of the world who were already confused and shocked by the news of Jungkook, the three rappers and GOT7, are now going crazy.

EXO's leader is not at all pleased by the two's actions, but he doesn't make an active effort to stop anyone else from doing it, because listening to Sehun makes him realize that they're just doing the right thing to show support. What guarantee is there that no one in EXO is gay? And he loves every single one of them like a brother. Baekhyun, who already was under fire for his last relationship, is hesitant to jump in on the movement but shows his support by writing out a thoughtful message on his twitter on how people should be more accepting of others' differences. Jongdae is more than pleased about the positive online movement and basically drags the quiet Minseok in for a kiss selfie.

It doesn't just end with GOT7 and EXO. Between the two groups, they all call friends in other groups to encourage them to join in. Both Shinee and infinite are up next, and the two groups post some very saucy and enthusiastic kissing selfies with pride, some even taunting people with the caption "What, you didn't know?" The girls don't stay quite either. A-Pink's pictures go up, followed by Sistar and then Fx, and even rap diva Jessi posts a kissing picture taken with solo artist Ailee, which gets an exeptionally high number of retweets. The message is loud and clear to anyone seeing the photos. They are the same artists no matter what their sexuality is. They are both straight and gay simultaneously, and none of them care what people lable them.

It starts a nation-wide guessing game as members of all different fandoms involved try to figure out which ones are actually gay and which ones are doing it to protect other membrs. The news soon gets picked up by internation sources, and it's only a matter of time before it's featured on American and European news outlets as well. It starts a movement. Fans and non-kpop fans from across the globe jumps in, and their voices of support and positive movement immediately overwhelms that of negativity.

 


-

 


"You caused quite a stir," Wonshik muses quietly as he enters the living of the Kim residence and finds Jungkook on the couch with his boyfriend sleeping soundly next to him while cuddled against the singer's side. "I knew there was something going on between you two," he continues and then thanks Seokjin for allowing him to come to the apartment. Wonshik had done his best to stay off the grid and keep to himself in fear of exposing Jungkook's whereabouts and only just succeeded in staying in contact with Namjoon to arrange the meetup. Seokjin smiles politely and makes his way towards his bedroom to give the two men some time to talk.

Jungkook flashes his producer a sad smile and then brushes loose locks of Jimin's hair back.

"You guys look good together," Wonshik compliments as he takes a place on the couch. "Where's everyone else? I heard Yoongi and Hoseok's here too."

"Upstairs sleeping. They're out cold."

"Not surprised."

"I'm in big trouble, aren't I?"

"Not gonna lie and say it's going to be alright. They're already preparing a lawsuit against you. The agency, I mean."

"Yeah...I sort of expected it to happen..."

"I've always known you're a bit different," Wonshik begins after a pause. Jungkook looks up curiously. "You weren't like the other idols I worked with. There was always this air of...conviction, I guess is the word, around you. You were a good kid, but I knew that was going to be a problem for you in the long run, with how the industry is and all."

"Can't say you're wrong."

"As your producer, I should be telling you how much you messed up. But...seeing you and him together, I guess I see why you did it."

"It sucks we'll never be able to work together again," Jungkook lets out hoarsely, the reality hitting him again with full force. It had been amazing to work with Wonshik in that spacious studio, surrounded by equipments and devices all ready to produce the next best track. There were late nights. There were stressful hours. But every moment was beautiful for what it was, and Jungkook sees that he'll never get that back.

"Yeah...I guess that's the case as long as I'm with the agency and well...but that's why I'm here."

"What do you mean?"

"Look, the company is really trying to throw you under the bus, and they're going to focus on underaged sex and all that bad stuff to put you under even worse light. And you know what your contract says. Any illegal activity and they can terminate it and sue you."

"But I haven't-"

"I know. I know you're better than that, but they don't care. They just need a good reason to get rid of you without other brands suing the agency."

"...Fuck...." Jungkook groans into his hand. He knew that the agency wasn't going to stand around and lose money, but he hadn't expected something like this. But then again, who's going to believe him even if he denies all accusations?

"And that's why I'm here," Wonshik stops Jungkook's train of thoughts, and the singer sits up straight, ready to listen.

 



-

 

 


"Kinda wish we had a bigger place," Seokjin says softly against his boyfriend's neck as they lie cuddled against each other. Their three-room apartment has turned into a bit of a motel for those in hiding. Jimin and Jungkook had taken over Jimin's room, while Taehyung spent most of his time in the living room, alongside Hoseok and Yoongi, who moved back and forth between the living room and the studio.

"I know right? Maybe we'll find a place that can house all of us comfortably," Namjoon says with a chuckle before planting a kiss on the top of his boyfriend's head. "Can you imagine that though? All of us living together?"

"I think it'd be nice to be a part of a loud family," Seokjin replies, his eyes folding with his smile. "Joon?"

"Hmm?"

"Are you OK?"

"What do you mean?"

"You haven't really talked about the selfie or the agency...I don't want you to bottle anything, you know that, right?"

"I know. But right now, I just want to focus on us and how we've come so far. I can't believe I've been afraid to tell the world how much I love you," Namjoon answers honestly, a soft smile playing on his lips. He had expected things to be a lot more dramatic following the selfie. Perhaps it's because he had been steering clear of people's nasty comments, or perhaps it's because he feels that a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders, but right now, he's happy where he is. He belongs right here, next to Seokjin, and the more he thinks about it, he's realizing that he should be proud of having someone as wonderful as his boyfriend by his side.

"Joon..."

"Nope. Don't ruin this for me."

"Fine..." Seokjin mutters, but he can't help smiling. Namjoon had always been his polar opposite in terms of personality. Seokjin worried all the time, fretting over small details (a habit he developed while under his father's scrutiny), while Namjoon was a free-spirit who believed life's too short to have it be ruined by others. Seokjin had been used to obeying orders and kneeling before social norms, while Namjoon always had a defiant flare. Seokjin sees it now. Posting that kisssing selfie was such a Namjoon thing to do.

Just then, the doorbell goes off, and both men freeze instantaneously. As far as they were concerned, everyone was home, and they weren't expecting anyone to stop by. They wait in silence, hoping it's not a journalist or an angry fan who had gotten a hold of where they live. A few seconds later, the doorbell rings again. Seokjin hops out of bed and quietly makes his way towards the door. As long as he's standing in front of it, he hears a familiar voice that sends a chill down his body. He had been hoping to never hear the particular voice again, yet a part of him had expected to hear it following the selfie.

"Seokjin. I know you're in there."

Seokjin wants to say something, but he can't. He wants to run away, but his legs won't listen. He needs to call for Namjoon, but all he's doing is standing completely still, his own heavy breathing loud against his ears.

"Open this door immediately."

As if under hypnosis, Seokjin reached for the door handle and opens it, revealing a middle-aged man dressed in a pitch-black suit, his greying hair combed perfectly with not a single hair out of place. Seokjin swallows hard and winces at the lump growing inside his throat.

"...Father..."

"I let you and that trash live together in peace and this is how you repay me?" The man's voice is cold and unforgiving, and Seokjin drops his gaze immediately. "Did you really think I had no idea where you were? Did you really think I didn't know about that little diner?"

Seokjin wants to run away. He had foolishly believed that he had been perfectly in hiding. But no, his father just didn't have the time or the need to deal with him. He had underestimated his father, and now that the man is standing in front of him, he's scared to death thinking about what he will now do.

"Hey, who is-"

Seokjin tenses when he hears his boyfriend's voice from behind him. He turns around and see Namjoon standing behind him, his eyes fixed into a cold stare.

"You dare ruin my company's reputation over that thing?" his father scoffs, taking an intimidating step forward. Instinctively, Seokjin takes one back, his feet fumbling to keep him upright.

"Leave. This is our home," Namjoon snarls, immediately by Seokjin's side and supporting the other man with his strong arm behind Seokjin's back. Seokjin's father, however, doesn't seem at all fazed by the word.

"Won't be when I buy this place and kick all of you out."

"If that's what you want, go ahead," Namjoon shoots back defiantly, his shoulders square. He can feel the way Seokjin's trembling against his side.

"Kim Seokjin, look at you. Look at what you've become. So pathetic. You're coming back to the company immediately."

"....What?" Seokjin asks hoarsely, tightening his grip on Namjoon's shirt.

"The only way the company is going to recover from what you did is to gain sympathy by having you work under me regardless. Pack your things."

"F-father-"

"You don't want to know what's going to happen if you choose to not listen," his father continues dangerously, and Seokjin knows that the man isn't bluffing. Namjoon opens his mouth to tell the man to get the hell out but is stopped by his boyfriend's hand on his chest. Seokjin's mind is going a mile a minute, trying to process everything and find a way to keep Namjoon out of trouble. As much as he appreciates his boyfriend defending him, he knows that nothing good can come out of aggravating his father. 

"24 hours. Give me 24 hours," Seokjin says almost desperately, ignoring the look on his boyfriend's face. His father fixes him a hard stare but the nods before leaving the apartment without a single word. As soon as the man's out the door, Seokjin slumps onto the floor, his chest heaving. The man's presence alone had him feeling as if there was simply no more oxygen left on the planet. He's shaking now, yet he doesn't even try to stop it. He thought he had somehow grown older and matured and perhaps independent, but oh how he was wrong. He had no power. Nothing had changed. 

"Jin! Why the hell would you-"

"We don't have a choice. He knows we're all here. You think my father's above killing people? Well, he's not," Seokjin continues hoarsely, tears welling in his eyes. How could he have possibly thought that he could have a happy ending? He was doomed from birth, the moment he was born under his father.

"Hyung..." Both men look up to find Jimin standing awkwardly around the corner, gnawing at his lower lip. "I didn't mean to overhear..." he continues nervously. "..and I wasn't sure if I was allowed to intervene...I..."

"Jimin..."

"I'm so sorry," the teen lets out breathelessly. He can't help but feel responsible for everything going wrong. The guilt of ruining Jungkook's career had been enough to almost crush him, and now everyone else was suffering. He had heard from Taehyung how horrible his father had been and how much Seokjin had wanted to run away from the man. But now that was ruined, all because of that photograph of he and Jungkook kissing.

"This has nothing to do with you, Jimin," Seokjin answers sadly, trying to hide his tears.

"But it is...if I never got caught-"

"Jimin. This isn't about you," Namjoon interrupts with a hand up. "We made the decision to come out, not you," he finished firmly, because he's not about to let Jimin blame himself for this particular mess. They had run away that time, and the ghost of that decision was back to haunt them. It was the consequences of their actions, no one else's.


"....but what are you going to do now? Are you really leaving?"

Seokjin knows that the answer is yes, but he can't bring himself to say it. There's absolutely no way getting out of this, and he's not about to jeopardize everyone he now considers his real family. He had been afraid of ruining their career at first, but this was so much more than that now. His father had known all along where he was and what he did and who he was with, which meant that his father would also have access to everyone's family and friends. People always had something to lose, and his father knew that all too well.

"...Jimin, can you get everyone else to gather in the living room for me?" he says instead. This time, he's not going to leave everyone else in the dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Seokjin glances around the living room, taking in every detail of what he considers his real home. He memorizes all the little decorations he had put up, all the furniture he had decided on with Namjoon. He thinks about the time Namjoon had managed to destroy the kitchen so badly that they needed to redo the entire place. He remembers the way Namjoon looked at him like a sad little puppy getting ready to be scolded.

He hears a set of footsteps entering the living room, and both Yoongi and Hoseok walk in, clearly looking as if they had just gotten up. Yoongi's face is puffy, his eyes scrunched up in annoyance, while Hoseok's hair is all over the place. Seokjin knows that he's going to miss this so badly. He's really going to miss having everyone gathered around in the morning at the breakfast table, everyone looking like a mess. Followed by his two friends are Jungkook and Jimin, and Jungkook already seems to be in panic at the way Jimin's doing his best to not cry.

Everyone sits around the living room and stares at Seokjin expectantly. Yoongi isn't at all pleased to be woken up, but he quickly picks up on the waves of anxiety radiating from Namjoon, who's sitting next to him, and Seokjin, who's across from him. Seokjin sees that Hoseok picks up on it too, as well as Jungkook, who glances around nervously as if trying to figure out what the problem is on his own.

"My father came and left," Seokjin begins abruptly and straight to the point. He doesn't think there's any point in beating around the bush. He only has 24 hours before he's probably going to be forcefully dragged into a car to be driven off to his father's mansion, and he's going to make every second count.

Yoongi and Hoseok suddenly look wide awake. They both jolt upright as if they've been eletrocuted, and Yoongi's face immediately contorts into that of a scowl that effectively expresses the utter disgust and anger he feels at the statement. It's no question that both Hoseok and Yoongi hate the man's guts. Afterall they know all too well what a piece of shit the bastard had been to both Seokjin and Taehyung.

"Your father? What the fuck?" Yoongi spits out angrily, clenching his fist. "When?"

"Just now."

"Jesus, we didn't hear anything 'cause the room's sound-proof," Hoseok laments, subconsciously nibbling at his thumbnail. "How did he know you were here?"

"He always knew. He's always known where I was, who I was with. He probably knows about you two staying here as well," Seokjin explains, not leaving anything out. Normally, he'd lie to them to make them feel more at ease, but he figures what's the point anymore?

Hoseok knows that he should be shocked by the piece of information, but now that he thinks about it, it doesn't make sense that one of the most powerful men in all of Asia would struggle with tracking the whereabouts of his own son. They all knew that Taehyung had stayed in contact with his father, and they all believed that the man had no idea that Taehyung was spending time with his other son. Now he sees that the man had been simply letting Taehyung talk to his brother. That vile man was always ahead of the game, no matter how hard Seokjin tried.

"What did he want?" Hoseok asks hoarsely, praying that the man hadn't threatened Seokin to leave Namjoon again, because he's had it with heartbreaks. He's so done with all the drama that's been hitting him full force for the past few days, and all he wants is for people to just leave them the hell alone. He doesn't think his mind or body can take anymore pain.

 

 


"He wants me to return to the company," Seokjin answers rather calmly, his hands folded neatly on his lap.

"He fucking what? Has he not seen the photo?" Yoongi asks in disbelief. From what he's heard about the man, he wouldn't be too surprised to hear that the man came to this apartment to murder Namjoon, but he had not expected the man wanting Seokjin back.

"He's seen it. And that's why he wants me to return. He thinks the only way the company is going to recover is to paint a picture of him as the loving father who accepts his son no matter what."

"That's fucking bullshit," Yoongi hisses aggressively, throwing the first cushion he grabs against the wall across from him. He's just so mad now. Wasn't it enought that he tried to destroy his own son once already? Now he wants to use Seokjin as a puppet for his own benefit? "So what are we going to do?" Yoongi's ready to do anything at this point. He's just had it with people pushing them around.

"We're not going to do anything," Seokjin replies quietly, his eyes downcast. "I'm going to go back."

"You're what!?" Both Hoseok and Yoongi shout out simultaneously, both getting off the couch. Namjoon drops his head with a defeated sigh, because a big part of him knows it would be futile to persuade his boyfriend to rethink his decision. He knows Jin too well for something like that. Jin is selfless. Jin would never put anyone in danger like that. He loves his friends too much. He cares about Jimin too much. Jin would never risk Namjoon's life like that, and Namjoon can't bring himself to stop Seokjin.

"You can't go back! Are you insane?" Hoseok asks, grabbing his friend by the arm.

"I don't have a choice, Hoseok. He knows about all of you, and...this is my mess to clean up."

"No," Yoongi says defiantly. "We'll figure something else out. You're not going back."

"I'm going back," Seokjin counters with an air of certainty that no one else in the room knows where it came from.

"Umm," Jungkook begins slowly, raising his hand nervously. He's been listening to the entire conversation, sitting among the older men. He had remained quiet, because the conversation was undoubtedly getting serious and he didn't want to interrupt, but he feels the need to make them know that he's present as well before he hears anything he's not supposed to.

All eyes are on him now, and Jungkook sort of regrets his decision to speak.

"Sorry, Jungkook, you must be confused," Seokjin begins softly, his eyes sad and tired. Jungkook shakes his head and looks around nervously. "Have you heard of BH Industries?"

"Yeah, of course. I think I actually did an ad for one of their brands. Why?"

"Well...the founder slash owner is...my father."

".....What?" Jungkook asks breathlessly. He studies the other man's face to see if he's kidding, but there's only seriousness. The singer doesn't understand. As far as he knew, Seokjin owned a small diner and Taehyung was just...Taehyung. Jungkook's met enough rich and powerful people during his line or work to know how most of them behaved. They were quite arrogant and self-centered, and both Seokjin and Taehyung were anything but those two things.

Namjoon had spoken to him about how they had to run away from Seokjin's father, but the rapper hadn't mentioned anything about BH industries. He assumed Seokjin's father was just a strict, homophobic asshole (which wasn't too hard to find in Korea to begin with).

"He's being serious, in case you're wondering," Hoseok adds once he takes in Jungkook's dumbfounded expression.

"...Uh...wow."

Seokjin smiles sadly. "And...he's threatening to hurt all of you unless I go back to working for him. He gave me 24 hours."

"24 hours! What!" Hoseok's screeching now, and Namjoon sinks lower.

Namjoon doesn't know what to think anymore. He doesn't want Seokjin to go. No, that's an understatement. Having to let go of Seokjin feels like a death sentence. He can't imagine a life in which Seokjin is taken away from him, especially when Seokjin is guaranteed a miserable life as well. He hates that he has no power to stop this. He's nothing compared to that man. He has no significant fortune to call his own. He doesn't know other powerful people who can help him. There's nothing he can do, and that's what kills him the most.


"Jin, you can't just fucking go." It's Yoongi this time, and he looks utterly broken. Sometimes, Namjoon forgets how much the blond man cares about Seokjin, but Yoongi had always tried to understand Seokjin's side of things, because Yoongi always considered the other man his family. "I'm not going to let you just march right back there and live as his slave for the rest of your life."

"Hyung..." Jimin speaks up quietly, his voice wavering. He gets off the couch hesitantly and makes his way towards the older man. Then, for the first time since they've known each other, Jimin wraps his arms around Seokjin and pulls him into a tight embrace that catches everyone off guard.

"....Jimin?"

"Hyung, please don't go...please...." Jimin nearly sobs as he begins pleading for Seokjin to stay. Seokjin closes his eyes as he feels Jimin's small fingers clutching desperately at the fabric of his shirt. It hurts. It hurts so much that he's going to have to leave Jimin behind as well. Seokjin's never been a father, and frankly, he doesn't know if he will ever be one, but he's come to love Jimin like a father would a son. He had wanted so badly to continue to see Jimin grow stronger. He had pictured them grabbing a drink together while talking about their jobs years from now.

Seokjin opens his eyes again and looks around the room slowly. His eyes land on Jungkook, who's watching him equally heart-broken, and Seokjin thinks about all the crazy things they have gone through together. He might not know Jungkook as well as he knows everyone else in the room, but he knows that he will come to love the young man just as much as he loves Jimin.

His eyes roam to Yoongi, who looks split between losing his mind in blind rage or crying like a little child. Yoongi had always been so understanding. He was always wise for his age, with unprecedented patience when it came to all the stupid shit his friends did. Yoongi was the kind of man who would die for a loved one, and Seokjin can only hope that he will be able to protect Yoongi the same way.

Next to Yoongi is Hoseok, who's already crying pitifully, tears running messily down his face and his soft features contorted in sadness. Hoseok had always been the kindest and the sweetest of them all. He was too nice and too caring for his own good and deserved nothing but the best in this world. Seokjin remembers fondly how Hoseok had welcomed them with open arms and treated Taehyung as if he were his own brother.

His eyes finally land on Namjoon. The love of his life. The reason for his being. The man who had stood by his side through everything. The man who appreciated all things good and loved all things bad and ugly about him. The man who had literally given up his hopes and dreams just to be with him. Namjoon had taught him so much and changed him in a way he did not know possible. Namjoon...

Seokjin looks around the room again, taking in everyone's faces, and then something clicks inside him.

He's not going to let his father win this time.

He's not going to lose anyone ever again.

 

-


Once dinner is over, where everyone do their best to act as if Seokjin won't be leaving them in less than 24 hours, Hoseok and Yoongi retreat to the studio and Jungkook and Jimin retreat to their bedroom to give Namjoon and Seokjin some time to spend on their own.

"Do you really have to go?" Namjoon asks softly, holding his boyfriend's hands tightly. "We can just disappear again. We can all go to America."

"Joon...you know that doesn't solve anything."

"I don't want to lose you, Jin..."

"And you won't. I'm not just going back because he's telling me to. I'm going back to fix things. Have faith in me Joon. Everything's going to be alright. It might take a while, but...I promise I'm not letting you go."

"God...you have no idea how much I hate this. I really want to tell you not to go but..." Namjoon trails off with a defeated sigh. "Just promise me that you'll run away with me when everything becomes to much. We will all disappear together. All of us. You know where to find me, Jin."

"I know. I know," Seokjin whispers and pretends that he doesn't see the single tear drop rolling down Namjoon's cheek. Namjoon never cried. Not even when they had to run away the first time around. Not when money became a problem and they had to struggle between part-time jobs to make ends meet. Not when he had to give up on his dream for the second time. Namjoon's never shown a single tear, but here Namjoon was, letting the first sign of vulnerability show, and Seokjin pretends he doesn't see it for his boyfriend's sake.

"I love you. I love you so much," Namjoon whispers back, pressing his forehead against Seokjin's. "There's one thing I want you to take with you when you go," he says after a moment of silence as he pulls back. Seokjin watches as his boyfriend makes his way towards the small drawer to one corner of the room and pull something out. It's a small box, and Seokjin lets out an audible gasp when Namjoon opens it to reveal a ring.

"I was going to wait for the perfect time to give it to you. Maybe after I became rich and famous," Namjoon begins softly as he slowly begins to go down on one knee. "Kim Seokjin, will you marry me and make me the happiest man on this planet?" he asks, and behind his smile, Seokjin can clearly read the sadness but Seokjin focuses on the moment instead.

"Joon-"

"Wait. I want you to take this ring and answer me when we see each other next," Namjoon says with a forced smile as he gets back up again and takes the small ring out of the box. He reaches for Seokjin's hand and gently puts the ring on his boyfriend's finger. "Promise me you'll come back and say yes."

"...I will," Seokjin says and purses his lips in an attempt to not cry. He doesn't want the last moments spent with Namjoon to be filled with tears. They will be back together. Seokjin was going to come back for Namjoon. He's going to make this happy ending happen.


-

 

 

"Alright Joon, you're in charge of everyone till I come back," Seokjin says, slinging the bag over his shoulder. "Yoongi, stop skipping meals and get some sleep from time to time. You keep pulling shit like that and you're going to regret it by the time you hit 30. Hoseok, promise me you'll take care of everyone. I trust you...and promise me you won't cry. Jimin, promise me you'll stay strong and do what makes you happy. Jungkook, I know we didn't get to know each other as much as I would've liked but...please take good care of Jimin."

Everyone, including Namjoon, sees Seokjin off with a smile on their faces. It's painstakingly difficult to pretend as if everything is OK, but they force themselves to act as if nothing's wrong for each other's sake. Namjoon kisses Seokjin one last time before watching the man walk out the door. Seokjin looks back and waves at all of them, and as soon as the door closes, Namjoon crumples onto the floor like a lifeless heap of flesh, his eyes closed and a hand over his mouth.

He doesn't think anything had ever hurt so much. It feels as if his own rib cage is bent on choking the life out of him by crushing his lungs. He doesn't know what to do with his own limbs anymore. He knows everyone else is still standing around probably watching him, but he can't bring himself to get off the floor. Since when has gravity been so strong. Since when was it this difficult to support his own body?

Hoseok starts crying again and does his best to not make a sound for Namjoon's sake. Yoongi watches the closed door silently, his expression blank and his hands lying limply to his sides. Jimin hides his face in Jungkook's shirt, and the singer pretends he doesn't know that his boyfriend's tears are staining it.


-


"I would say welcome back but...who am I kidding?" Taehyung says ruefully as Seokjin enters the mansion. Taehyung had been dragged back to the house the same day his father had visited Seokjin and since then had been confined to the space, held as a hostage to ensure that the older son came.

"Not much has changed about this place huh." Seokjin says quietly, looking around the place that is both familiar and unfamiliar. The place is too big, too expensive, too perfect, and his skin crawls at the coldness of it. He already misses the small living room where everyone would gather around to talk. He misses their voices. The warmth they had provided. But right now, he's standing on imported marble floor, cringing at how cold and hard it feels against his feet.

"Yeah...hyung...I'm sorry this had to happen. I honestly didn't know father knew where you were. Maybe it's my fault-"

"Tae. None of this is your fault. I was an idiot for thinking he wouldn't know. He was only letting me be because I wasn't of any use at the time," Seokjin answers calmly and pats his younger brother on the head.

"We'll find a way back, right?" Taehyung asks sadly, slumped against one of the walls. Seokjin nods and then glances at the ring on his finger. He has to go back. He has to find a way back to Namjoon. It'll take time and patience, but he's willing to do anything to fix this mess for the last time.

His father doesn't waste any time sending Seokjin to the company. The next day, Seokjin finds himself in one of the cubicles, speaking to a few other employees to discuss the newest project. He doesn't miss the glances and whispering, but he soon finds that he's not even bothered by them. They can talk all they want and gossip until their mouths hurt, because nothing will hurt him as much as being away from Namjoon. So he stands proud, he stays strong and finishes all projects thrown his way successfully, all the while ignoring when people tell him that he must definitely have gotten his business acumen from his father. He doesn't want to be compared to that man, but he doesn't show it, because he has to keep up his facade.

Minutes blur into hours, hours into days, days into weeks. He no longer makes the distinction between night and day, slaving over projects, drafting reports and aggressively pursuing other potential projects with cold-cut rationality and drive. Taehyung watches from the sideline in worry, wondering when he should step in and stop his brother from simply losing it. Seokjin is no longer the smiling, caring brother he's used to. It's not to say that Seokjin is in any way mean to his younger brother. On the contrary, Seokjin makes sure that Taehyung is dealing with the change alright, but Taehyung doesn't miss how his brother's eyes have gotten harder, his shoulders more rigid, his words more concise and forward.

As expected, his father uses this to create the image of a loving, accepting father who has always had faith in his son. The general public, initially disgusted by Seokjin, starts sympathizing with the situation and even starts making comments about what an able son Seokjin is proving himself to be. Seokjin and his father are oftentimes seen together at important business events, where journalists take photos of them speaking and smiling at each other. Seokjin wants to throw up, but he endures it all, thinking about Namjoon.

He's dying to know how everyone's doing. He knows he can't trust the new phone given to him, and it's not as if he can google any of their names anymore. He does however keep a close eye on what Jungkook's agency is up to. No reports of pending lawsuit against Jungkook or any of the three rappers had surfaced, but he's not foolish enough to think that the coast is clear.

 

 


-

 

 

"Do you think Jin hyung and Tae are OK?" Jimin asks in the middle of the night, when it's just him and Jungkook who are awake. Jungkook rolls over so that he has a better view of his boyfriend's face.

"I'm sure they are. Seokjin hyung's strong..and I'm sure he'll come back for Namjoon hyung," Jungkook answers, idly brushing his fingers up and down Jimin's arm. The smaller man sighs and curls himself against the bigger man. Jungkook knows how much Jimin must be hurting inside. He's managed to lose a protector and his best friend in the span of less than 24 hours, and although Jimin may pretend everything's OK around everyone else, especially Namjoon, it's clear to anyone paying attention how miserable and heart-broken Jimin is.

They quickly find that Seokjin's number is no longer in use. They even try contacting the company to get a hold of Seokjin pretending they're clients, but nothing gets through. They wait and wait, hoping both of them are OK. Eventually, Seokjin's face is on the news again, and none of them even bother to hide the disgust at the headlines that praise Seokjin's father for sticking by his son. None of them also know what to make of Seokjin's apparent success as the heir to the company.

During this time, Jungkook terminates his contract with the agency. To be more accurate, he lets them terminate the contract under the condition that there are no lawsuits filed against him or any of the rappers. The company obliges, albeit disgruntled, because they are in desperate need to cut ties with the singer without angering international fans. The three rappers terminate their contract as well, and the three find it difficult to return to music for a while.

Jimin drops out of school, fully knowing that there is no way that he can attend any high school in Korea without being recognized. A part of him doesn't mind though. He's never had any real attachment to the institution, and he can't imagine going back without Taehyung by his side. Namjoon volunteers to teach the the teen instead so that he can be prepared to take an entrance exam for university, just in case Jimin decides that going back to school is what he wants in the future.

"I miss them," Jimin says quietly into the night, and Jungkook hates that the only thing he can do is to just pull the smaller man closer.

The next morning, Taekoon is at the apartment, unloading bags of groceries and paper bags filled with everyone's request. His expression is stoic as always, and the only difference is the way his hair a long now and draping partly over his features.

"Thanks, Taekwoon. Seriously. You have no idea how much we appreciate you doing this for us."

Taekwoon shakes his head wordlessly as he lets Namjoon take the bags of groceries out of his hands. Since the selfies incident, everyone in the house kept their visits outside the house to bare minimum, which meant Taekwoon dropped by every once in a while to stock up on groceries and other items that can't be delivered. He watches as both Jimin and Jungkook make their way towards him and carry more bags back into the kitchen.

The entire selfie incident came as a shock to Taekwoon, who had no idea that Seokjin and Namjoon were dating. Then before he can even properly react to the matter, Seokjin is sent off to his father's company, only leaving him a letter to explain his situation. Inside the letter were words of how Seokjin will forever be in Taekwoon's debt for all the things he's done for him. Inside are also words asking Taekwoon to please take care of everyone until he's back. While Taekwoon does begin working at a much fancier restaurant, he never cut ties with any of them.

Taekwoon would be lying if he said that he no longer had feelings for Jimin, because the truth is, it still hurts a little to see him. Yet, from the entire scandal breaking loose, he's learned that Jungkook and Jimin are bound by something that cannot be broken. Jimin smiles so beautifully when he's around Jungkook, and he'd be a fool to not see it, hear it and feel it. He doesn't stand a chance, and he's not about to try, so he chooses to stay by Jimin's side, doing the best to make sure that he's taken care of and as happy as he can be given the circumstances.

"Have you heard back from Seokjin hyung?" Taekwoon asks, tearing his gaze away from Jimin, who's busily organizing vegetables into the fridge.

"No...nothing yet," Namjoon answers with a sad smile that looks so forced that Taekwoon has to look away again. "I see him on TV sometimes, but I wish I had some way to telling him how much I miss him or how we're all still waiting for him," the man continues, doing his best to distract himself by reading the ingredients off the box of cereal in front of him.

"I think there is," Taekwoon begins after a brief moment of silence. Namjoon looks up with raised eyebrows, encouraging the other man to continue. "Do what you do best. He'll recognize your voice anywhere."

 

 


-

 

 


Months pass. It has been almost a year since Seokjin's last seen Namjoon, and the only thing keeping him together is the ring on his finger. Sometimes he sees Namjoon in his dreams, which has him crying when he wakes up. The dreams are so vivid sometimes, it's as if he can still feel the man's warmth against his skin when he wakes up to the cold morning air.

He would give anything to know how they're doing. He wonders if Namjoon's taking care of himself. A small part of him fears that perhaps Namjoon would have moved on, away from all this drama and found himself someone who can be by his side all the time. He has so much faith in Namjoon, but behind the closed walls, he can't help but waver.

In the meanwhile, Seokjin has moved up quite far up the corporate ladder. While a few were disgruntled with the young man quickly moving up the ranks, most welcomed the young, able man and followed his leadership. Seokjin knows that a lot of them are sucking up to the future owner, but he doesn't say anything. In fact, he gladly uses it to his advantage, because he needs power.

Seokjin looks up from the computer and cracks his neck. He's lost track of time again. Figuring he needs more caffeine if he's going to finish the day's work, Seokjin makes his way towards the lounge. On the way, he sees that most of the floor is empty, minus a couple of others who are typing away furiously on their computers, looking as if they can't wait till they go home.

Seokjin enters the lounge to see one of the interns humming a tune to herself while mixing her coffee. She jumps when she spots him and bows politely, immediately recognizing who he is.

"What song is that?" Seokjin asks, because something about the melody caught his attention. There was a sense of familiarity to it he couldn't quite pinpoint. Maybe he's heard it at a restaurant during a meeting with a client or company dinner?

"Oh, it's called Butterfly. I'm not sure who it's by, but someone uploaded this song on the internet and it's getting really popular," she answers, suddenly looking quite excited. "I'm not sure if you're into these things, Mr. Kim, but the song's really good," she continues pulling out her phone. "You can listen to it if you'd like."

"...Yeah, I'd like that. I think I can use a break. That is, if you don't mind."

"Oh no, not at all," she answers with a smile before scrolling through her phone. "Here."

A soft voice begins singing as soon as the song begins. Seokjin listens absent-mindedly, barely listening to the song, but as the song progresses, he can't help but think that the voices sound perhaps a bit too familiar.

Will you stay by my side
Will you promise me
I'm scared that you'll fly away and break
If I let go of your hand

The chorus continues, and Seokjin is pays close attention, not even realizing that he's gripping the counter he's leaning against tightly enough for his knuckles to turn white. Then another voice begins rapping, and his heart lurches forward. He knows this voice. He recognizes this voice, but he holds his breath, telling himself that he must be hearing things. It has to be the product of his wishful thinking. There's no way...

He continues to listen as the intern sways obliviously to the song besides him. The chorus begins again, and when the second rap verse begins, Seokjin lets out a strangled noise as he snatches the phone out of the unsuspecting girl's hand. His fingers are trembling, shaking so badly that he has a difficult time rewinding back to the second rap verse.

There's no denying. He'd recognize that voice anywhere. It's the same voice that used to tell him how much he loved him. The same voice that whispered sweet words and made him laugh. It has to belong to Namjoon. It's Namjoon. There's no denying it when he listens to it the second time around. He hadn't been hearing things. This was everyone's voice. It was a mixture of Jungkook and Jimin singing the vocals and his boyfriend and his two best friends rapping.

"Uh...Mr. Kim?"

The intern's worried voice snaps him back to reality.

"C-can you send me the song?" Seokjin asks, his voice wavering, and he doesn't even register the way the intern's blinking at him in surprise.

"Um, sure, of course. I'll send it through your company address, sir," she says politely and doesn't say another word as Seokjin leaves the lounge. He's surprised that he can walk, because his legs feel so weak. He waits impatiently for the e-mail to come, and he's plugging his earphones in as soon as the mail arrives. He opens it with shaky hand and listens to it on repeat, mulling over the lyrics and picturing all their faces singing. He knows he can't cry. He's still in office and there are still a few people around. He can't cry. He can't cry.

He listens to Namjoon's part over and over again.

 

My heart cries out a barren noise
I don't know if this is a dream or a reality
My Kafka on the shore
Please don't go into the woods over there
My heart still shatters over you
Breaking into a million dark pieces that drift away
(I just want to disappear into thin air)
My love is forever. It's all free for you baby.

 

It's Namjoon, and he hasn't given up on him.

 


-

 

 

Taehyung graduates high school, from a private school that's nowhere near Jimin's. Taehyung doesn't smile once during the graduation ceremony, and Seokjin's the only person celebrating with Taehyung. His father, who had long given up on Taehyung, doesn't even bother showing up or even texting him. The two grab dinner together and talk about everyone back at their old place. It doesn't take much until Taehyung is crying into his food, and Seokjin lets his brother cry for as long as he wants.

A couple months following the graduation, Seokjin's standing in front of his father, a small USB in his hand. This is it. This is the moment he's been waiting for all along. All those months of putting on a mask to hide the hurt inside. All the long hours spent in the office pretending he's nothing more than a machine that gets projects finished. The countless minutes spent watching his own brother wither away. The endless seconds spent missing Namjoon and his warmth.

The office is spacious, with imported furniture positioned neatly among each other. Each one of them must've cost an arm and a leg, and Seokjin wants to ask if all these pieces of wooden and all the wealth was worth ruining the lives of both his sons.

"What's this?" His father asks boredly as Seokjin slams the small USB onto the desk. Seokjin fixes the other man a hard stare, something he never knew he was capable of. The time spent at the mansion and at the company did things to him. It changed him in a way he absolutely hated, but he wants to think its necessary evil. All the gentleness inside him was replaced with fury, his smiles replaced with cold stares that were meant to intimidate others. He has nothing else to lose, and the thought alone is enough to make him tougher.

"All the data I've collected of all the things you were doing illegally for the past few years," Seokjin answers coldly, not ready to back out of this conversation now. The words were out. There's no turning back now. He initiated this battle with his father and now it was up to him to walk away the victor.

"....And?"

"And I'm going to go ahead and release all this information to the press and explain to them how you used me for the company image as well."

"And you think I'm going to let you do that?" His father taunts with a smirk, and Seokjin knows that the man isn't bluffing. His father basically owned most of the media outlets, whether it be by blackmailing or by bribery, and frankly, he's not surprised at his father's response. He's seen it coming. He has learned how his father functions during his time at the company.

"You don't have a choice. And let's just say that I've learned a couple tricks from you, father," Seokjin says the last word with a hard edge. "That is, unless you give me what I want."

"Is this about that stupid boy again?" His father asks with a scoff, leaning back against his leather chair. Seokjin squares his shoulders, keeping his eyes cool, not letting the man's words get to him. His father knows that it breaks him everything the man refers to Namjoon as anything less than who he is.

"Oh no. I want a lot more than that, and you're going to give it to me."

"Oh? And what would that be?"

Seokjin makes his demand, each and every word calculated. He doesn't waver, not even for a second. His eyes take in every twitch and curl of his father's features, his heightened sense of hearing assessing the steadiness of his own voice. Once he's finished, he stands tall and proud, as if daring the older man to refuse him.

His father continues to just watch him, and Seokjin knows that this is just one of the ways his father makes people cower under him. So he doesn't let the man win. Seokjin forces a corner of his lips upwards and leans back, trying his best to look confident despite the fact that his heart is going a mile a minute, making him dizzy with the loud beating in his head. He knows his father is probably thinking of a way to make him run with his tail between his legs, but he'd never give the man the satisfaction. He'd rather die than see him win.

However, completely unexpectedly, his father begins laughing. A booming laugh that's neither sarcastic or angry, and it throws Seokjin off guard. Seokjin frowns and stares at the older man, waiting impatiently for him to stop laughing and start talking.

"Finally decided to grow a backbone, I see," the man says once his laughter's died down. "I know you think you're nothing like me, but I see that my blood clearly runs through you," he continues with a smirk, taking the USB into his hand. "Look at you, blackmailing me to get what you need. Like father like son."

"Say what you want. If you think that's going to make me change my mind, you're wrong."

His father seens to be deep in thought as he plays with the small device in his hand. Seconds pass by. Minutes pass by. The sheer weight of the silence in the room is crushing, but Seokjin dares not open his mouth. It's a dangerous game he's playing, and he needs to remain patient and calculating. He's not the same son that used to cower under his father's every threat. He's grown up. He's going to have to do everything in his power and more to protect the people he loves.

"Fine," his father says, a ghost of a smile playing on his lips. "But only under the condition that you continue to work under me."

"Fine," Seokjin states, knowing this is as far he's going to get with the man, and he dare not extend the conversation in fear of his father changing his mind.

"This is why I chose you and not Taehyung. That boy's too stupid to pull something like this."

"Don't talk about him that way. You know nothing about him," Seokjin spits vehemently before turning on his heels and making his way out the office.

It's not until he's in one of the bathroom stalls that his legs give up him.

 


-

 


"Long time no see," Wonshik greets as soon as Jungkook opens the door for him. Jungkook quickly lets the man in with a smile on his face. "How are you?"

"As you can see, doing alright," Jungkook says, flashing one of his bunny smiles as he leads the taller man towards the couch. Jungkook notices that Wonshik's hair is now dyed a quite an phenomenal shade of light grey.

"Hello," Jimin greets from the kitchen, a glass of orange juice in one hand. Wonshik waves and takes in how the teen seems to be doing a lot better than the last time he's seen him. He doesn't know Jimin on a personal level, but he's taken a liking to the teen, seeing how much he made Jungkook happy. Plus, the kid was sweet as a baby kitten, and he's a sucker for all things cute and nice.

"Where's everyone else?" Wonshik asks stretching his legs in front of him.

"They're in the studio. They uh...still make music," Jungkook answers, waving vaguely towards the room where three men have been for the last few hours.

"That's good," Wonshik muses, a finger to his lips. He had been worried that the three men had abandoned music altogether, which would be a shame considering how talent they clearly were.

"So what brings you here?" Jungkook asks, drawing the producer's attention.

"Before I answer that question, I came here to ask you a couple of things," the producer begins, a sudden look of seriousness taking the former singer by surprise.

"Oh. What is it? Is something wrong?"

"No. But I need you to answer me honestly."

"Ok...sure."

"Given the opportunity, would you go back to singing?" Wonshik asks, his eyes levelled. Jungkook swallows visibly at the question, because now there's a lump in his throat. Of course he'd go back to singing. That's the only thing he knew how to do. Singing and dancing were his entire existence, and as much as he loves Jimin, a significant part of him misses being on stage.

But he's afraid to say it out loud, because it would mean admitting defeat. He'd never be invited back to the industry after what he's pulled. It's not even just the scandal. It's the fact that he disobeyed his own agency, and in the industry that was a death wish. No one wants to hire a singer that they can't control, and Jungkook knows this all too well.

"Well?" Wonshik pries, leaning back against the couch.

"...Yeah. I mean, I know it's never going to happen but...yeah," Jungkook answers softly, scratching the black of his neck. He can make out Jimin doing his best to pretend as if he's not listening while busily reorganizing all the condiments on the kitchen counter.

"If you do decide to go back, people aren't going to be as welcoming. You do know that right?"

Jungkook nods. He knows it all too well. While all the kpop idols putting kissing selfies up had cleared the air significantly in terms of general homophobia, the fact was that Jungkook was the only one identified as gay. For everyone, it was still a giant guessing game, and no particular singer of group took any damage from it. Despite foreign fans' efforts to turn everything around, the general public of Korea wasn't ready to fully accept him and still left negative comments about him whenever his name ever showed up.

"You might never be able to perform in huge stadiums again. People will still say hateful things about you."

"...I know. I just...I just want to make music and sing again," Jungkook says wishfully, dropping his head. "I mean, I know all my fans hate me now, but it's all I know how to do."

"And if you were given the chance you'd take it?"

"Yeah...except, we all know there isn't a single agency in Korea that's going to take me in."

"About that...I'm moving to a new agency," Wonshik replies slowly, a small smile forming on his lips. Jungkook nods and asks where. "It's a new place. I'm taking Hakyeon and Jaehwan with me too...and that's actually why I'm here. The boss man wants to sign you up as well. And the three rappers in that room."

"...What?" Jungkook asks hoarsely. The words caught him completely off guard, and he's not sure how to react to the piece of information. He can make out Jimin staring in shock as well from the peripherals. "What do you mean sign me up?"

"As their artist. They want to sign you up as their first solo artist."

"And who the hell is dumb enough to do something like that? Everyone knows I can't go back to singing."

"Well, this person believes otherwise. In fact, he's so convinced, he wants you and everyone else to come to the office to discuss new contracts."

"....I don't get it."

"Jungkook. Trust me on this. You're going to like this agency."

And Jungkook doesn't think he needs any more convincing.

 

 

-

 

 

"This is a really nice building," Hoseok muses as he marches past the door alongside everyone else. Yoongi, his hair no longer blond and instead pitch black, shoves his hands down his pockets, still believing that this must be some kind of a cruel prank. Namjoon looks only marginally better, his eyes darting back and forth between a few employees walking around the reception area.

"Mr. Kim will see you in his office," a lanky man informs as he spots Wonshik making his way towards him. Wonshik nods and motions for everyone else to follow. Jimin, who was told to tag along as well, follows the rest of the crowd. Wonshik had explained that Hakyeon had recommended Jimin as a choreographer slash dancer, but Jimin still can't believe that anyone would willingly hire him. Frankly, he wasn't aware that Hakyeon even thinks so highly of him.

They all get in the elevator and press the top floor, and Wonshik shoots them all an encouraging smile.

"Who is this guy, anyway?" Yoongi asks, still skeptical. "Does he not know about the gay selfie fiasco? Has he been living under a rock?"

"He knows all about that," Wonshik answers with a laugh and earns himself a scowl from the shorter man.

"And he still wants to sign with us?"

"He's very adamant about signing you guys up with the agency."

"Well, if he wants to be insane with his money, then that's on him," Yoongi grumbles, leaning against one of the bars. Namjoon remains silent throughout the entire ride, a small frown gracing his face.

"You OK? Nervous?" Hoseok asks from besides him, and Namjoon shakes his head.

"No...it's just...I dunno, feels weird..."

"I think you're describing nervousness."

Namjoon rolls his eyes as the door opens, revealing another hallways with an impressive door across from them. Wonshik takes the lead and knocks, and a soft "come in" is heard from the other side. Namjoon freezes up immediately, and it feels as if someone is twisting his guts. There's no pain, but he feels uneasy. His heart is beating way too fast and hard. This isn't nervousness.

He'd recognize that voice anywhere.

Wonshik pushes the door open, revealing a figure standing behind a big wooden desk, and it takes less than a blink of an eye for Namjoon to recognize the man in front of him. How could he forget? He'd recognized Seokjin in a sea of people anywhere.

"Jin..."

Everything stops. All sounds cease to exist. All color blur, washing into the background. The entire world disappears in front of his eyes, except for Seokjin. Then, as if a spell's broken, Seokjin smiles brightly, in the most beautiful way Namjoon has ever witnessed. Namjoon watches as Seokjin slowly raise his hand and flashes the engagement ring on his finger.

"And to answer your question...I do. Without question, yes, I'll marry you."

 

 

-

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"Baby, we need to get up."

Jimin opens his eyes slowly to the sound of his boyfriend's sleep-ridden voice stirring him awake. He can feel a warm hand against his shoulder, followed by a gentle shake.

"Mm..what time'sit.." Jimin mumbles into the pillow and then stretches his legs against the blanket.

"It's already 8:15. We need to start getting ready," Jungkook answers with a lazy grin as he buries his nose into the smaller man's hair. Jimin laughs at the ticklish sensation and then finally shifts his body so that he's lying on his back.

"How did I miss the alarm..."

"Well, you were in the studio 'till 2 in the morning. I'm not surprised."

"Oh...I shouldn't have done that..."

"As much as I love the fact that you love your work, you need to be careful with overdoing it," Jungkook says sagely as he bows down to kiss the tip of Jimin's nose before getting off the bed. "Go take a shower. I'll fix us something to eat."

"I can help."

"Nope. Now, go on." Jungkook pulls the smaller man by the arm into a sitting position. Jimin whines, unhappy with how sore his muscles are, but decides to oblige, since they really need to get going if they want to be ready on time. Jimin drags himself to the bathroom and smiles softly at the two toothbrushes standing next to each other in a cup. It's only been a couple of months since they moved to a small apartment not far from their new agency. Jungkook had already saved up enough money for them to afford a rather extravagant place, but neither of them wanted one. They wanted to start small to remind themselves to stay grounded. Plus, Jimin liked it better this way. The two bedroom apartment was perfect for just him and Jungkook.

Not surprinsingly, Jungkook wasn't nearly as busy as he used to be. He was still not invited to perform on broadcasted stages or be featured on TV shows, but he still had a fanbase big enough to come to see him during private stage appearances. Not being on TV as much gave him more time to work on songwriting, and with wonderful mentors like Wonshik and Yoongi, it was only a matter of time before Jungkook was releasing his own songs.

The first song he released to the public was Save Me, and while he released it under a pseudonym, it didn't take that long for people to recognize his voice. There were some angry outbursts at first, but people couldn't resist the raw emotions and honesty behind the words. Soon, people were dowloading it on their phones, and while he and the rappers weren't given the opportunity to perform it on stage, they were still proud of it nonetheless. Baby steps. They were going to have to be patient.

Jimin walks out of the shower, feeling a lot better than he did less than 10 minutes ago. He checks his reflection in the mirror and smiles. He had grown a couple of inches and his features were becoming a lot more prominent. His muscles were much more defined, thanks to hours spent dancing, and his eyes held an aura or something much akin to...happiness? Yes, happiness.

"Hey, you alright in there?"

Jimin jumps at the sound of his boyfriend's worried voice and then yells back that he's about to get out. He quickly grabs a towel and dabs himself dry before throwing on a tee and a pair of shorts. It's not until he has it on that he realizes that he's wearing one of Jungkook's many printless white tees.

"Breakfast first?" Jungkook asks as soon as his eyes land on his boyfriend walking into the kitchen, his hair still dripping wet. He laughs and the takes the towel out of Jimin's hands before towel-drying the smaller man's hair.

"You keep walking around with wet hair and you're going to catch a cold."

"But we're home."

"Nah, still. Here, breakfast sandwich. I learned how to make it from Jin hyung."

"Really?" Jimin asks with a raised eyebrow and then takes the plate handed to him. "When did you get to see hyung?"

"He dropped by last week to make sure we were eating alright. You were out practicing though."

"And I missed him?"

"Yup. Sorry."

Jimin sighs as he takes a bite out of the sandwich. Seokjin, staying true to the deal he made with his father, remained working for his father's company while also partly managing the new agency. Needless to say, the man could barely get any decent sleep, but Seokjin refused to give up. He wasn't about to show any sign of weakness to his father and was definitely not planning on giving up on people he considered actual family. He knew he had to stay strong for everyone, and everyone else did their best to succeed so that they will one day be able to declare true independence.

After quick breakfast, Jimin's back in their bedroom, getting dressed for the occasion. He now has butterflies in his stomach and he's not sure why, because it's not even his special day. Yet, he can't help but be excited, because the day means so much to him, and he's spent many hours helping everyone else make sure it goes perfectly.

"You look...amazing."

Jimin turns around to find his boyfriend standing in the doorway, he himself dressed in a well-fitting white shirt and slacks, his hair styled like during his idol days.

"You think so?" Jimin asks shyly, playing with the sleeves of his white shirt, wondering if it'd look better folded up or left alone. Jungkook walks to up to the smaller man and fixes up the collar for a bit before helping Jimin roll up the sleeves.

"Better this way. Plus, it's probably going to get a bit warm with everyone in the house," Jungkook explains and then leans forward to kiss Jimin on the cheek. "Now, here's your bowtie."

"How come I get the yellow one..."

"Well, that's 'cause Hoseok hyung and Yoongi hyung took the nicer ones. Now, are we ready to go?"

 


-

 

 

"Where the fuck is my shirt?" Yoongi growls at no one in particular, his usually soft features scrunched up into an impressive scowl. "Hoshit! Have you seen my shirt?" Yoongi yells from the closet, hoping that Hoseok is somewhere within the hearing range.

"Third drawer!" Yoongi hears coming from the living room. He saunters towards the drawers and opens the third one as instructed to find his shirt neatly folded inside. He knows it wasn't him, so it must have been Hoseok again. He pulls it out with a grin and then flings his tee off before checking for time. They still had a good couple of hours left.

The two began living together almost immediately after Seokjin's return. While they couldn't afford a nice place, Jungkook offered to help, and they managed to find a decent two bedroom apartment for themselves. Yoongi originally complained that he wanted to live alone, but Hoseok argued for saving money and sticking together since they're always working together anyway. Hoseok had a point, and Yoongi had no choice but to agree to it eventually.

"What would you do without me?" Hoseok teases as he enters Yoongi's room, where the small man is buttoning up his shirt.

"Live peacefully," Yoongi answers with a snort. Hoseok, unfazed as always, laughs and pushes a small bowtie towards his friend. "What the hell is this?" Yoongi asks, frowning at the offensive accesory in Hoseok's hand.

"A bowtie."

"Yeah, I see that, but why are you giving it to me?"

"We all have to wear it. Jin's order, and well, it's his day so..."

"That fucking-"

"Come on, you'll look cute," Hoseok teases in an exaggerated baby voice, earning himself a hard smack in the arm. "Ow! Why are you so abusive! Anyway, make sure you wear it before you leave!"

 


-

 


"Can we please go?" Wonshik whines, playing with his car key as he watches both Hakyeon and Jaehwan fretting in front of the mirror. "It's not your wedding, and you both look fine. We're gonna be late if you assholes don't get moving."

"Shh, do not interrupt perfection," Hakyeon chastises with a finger up and leans even closer towards the mirror to make sure that every single strand of his hair is where he needs them to be.

"I'm leaving without you guys."

"Will you calm down? We still have some time left," Jaehwan says, rolling his eyes and putting a hand on his hip.

"It's called traffic. I'm giving you guys five more minutes. Then I'm leaving with or without you idiots."

 

-

 

 

"I think these flowers should go over there," Jimin muses as he stares at the floral arrangement in the living room. Taehyung scratches his chin for a little bit before nodding in agreement and helping Jimin carry the arrangement towards the other side of the living room.

"You look a bit tired," Taehyung comments as he takes in the way Jimin's eyes seem to droop a bit more than usual. 

"Ended up practicing till 2am. I know, I shouldn't have done that, but I got so excited I couldn't just stay still at home," Jimin explains with a soft sigh. It's true. The wedding had gotten him so happy and excited for both Namjoon and Seokjin that he was practically vibrating when he was just sitting around doing nothing, so naturally, he stuck around even after Hakyeon left to dance for hours on end.

"Well that's real smart of you," Taehyung says with a laugh. Jimin rolls his eyes. 

"Yeah well, you don't look all that well-slept either," Jimin counters, pointing at the slight bags under his friend's eyes. 

"Fine, you got me. I ended up recording and practicing till late too. I got nervous, OK?"

It's Jimin laughing this time, his high-pitched giggle carrying across the room. "How's your album coming along? I know I always ask, but I'm always curious."

"It's going. I think we will have it released by the end of the year. Jaehwan hyung and Wonshik hyung are not a joke when it comes to their jobs."

"Oh, I heard," Jimin says, remembering the stories he's heard from Jungkook about his trainee days. Jaehwan, while happy-go-lucky, was very strict when it came to hitting all the notes correctly, while Wonshik was a well-known perfectionist. "Are you excited about debuting?"

"I guess. I mean...right now, I'm usually too busy to even think about it," Taehyung answers honestly, readjusting some of the decorations. "But sometimes I get nervous. But hey, your man gives me a lot of advice."

"Can you not?"

"What? He's your man," Taehyung continues with a teasing grin, and Jimin playfully kicks his friend in the leg.

"Wait, who has the ring again?" Jimin asks, changing the subject, and Hoseok wordless points at Yoongi, who's eyebrows are furrowed in concentration as he checks the playlist again.

"I was supposed to be in charge of the ring, but Namjoon hyung won't trust me with it," Taehyung laments, setting the flowers down. "Not fair."

"And Namjoon's correct to do so," Yoongi replies gruffly, still staring at the screen before him. "I wouldn't trust any of you in this room. Maybe except for Jimin."

Yoongi was the one to convince Jungkook to eventually come clean about the phone incident, because he needed it cleared up if he's going to continue to spend time with Jimin in and out of the company. Jungkook had been scared out of his wits, thinking that Jimin was going to abandon him once he found out. When he did muster the courage to finally confess, Jimin listened to him in silence and ran into the bedroom and locked himself up. It destroyed Jungkook, making the singer believe that Jimin was going to break things off with him. The truth was, Jimin had run away out of sheer embarrassment, remembering all the things he had told Jungkook, thinking it was "Yoongi." He had fanboyed big time, and that was not what he wanted Jungkook to know.

Eventually, Jimin was back out in the living room with Jungkook, who explained everything from the very beginning and why he had to do it. Jimin, initially embarrassed and quite frankly that it had taken his boyfriend so long to come clean, came to understand Jungkook's side of things. Afterall, he himself knew all to well what it's like being involved in a public scandal of any magnitude, and Jungkook had a career and reputation to protect. But he did pretend to be angry for longer, just to see Jungkook grovel and act cute until Jimin was smiling again. Yoongi eventually apologized to Jimin for being an accomplice, and since then, Yoongi and Jimin hit it off beautifully. Yoongi liked that he could talk to Jimin about his creative angst and have Jimin listen with a level of sincerity that he found astonishing. Jimin, on the other hand, liked that Yoongi was like a big brother to him. Yoongi gave him sound advice, told him straight up if he was doing something wrong and made fun of him like an actual brother would do.

"What are you talking about," Hoseok blurts out with a huff, "I'm so responsible. I keep you alive don't I?"

"I do fine without you," Yoongi replies gruffly, but everyone in the room knows that Hoseok's been responsible for keeping the rapper fed and making sure he gets enough sleep to keep him alive.

"Lies! Jiminie, Tae, do you now see what I have to live with?" Hoseok whines, finally moving away from the candles to check up on the rest of the flowers.

"You two just sound like an old married couple, to be honest," Taehyung quips and moves quickly out of Yoongi's arm's reach. Hoseok laughs and makes a joke about how he wants a divorce.

"What time's Taekwoon coming with the food again?" Hoseok asks, pulling his phone out, once his laughter dies down.

"He should be here any minute now," Taehyung answers. It was unanimously decided that Taekwoon be in charge of their catering, and while it would make sense to hire an entire staff load for normal weddings, this wedding was a very small one, with barely over 10 people attending. Seokjin and Namjoon decided to keep it minimal. Only between people they considered real family.

Everyone knows that this wedding doesn't legally count. Seokjin and Namjoon weren't going to be real husbands, but in everyone's minds, this wedding was just as official as any other. They were going to exchange rings, be pronounced as husband and husband and even go on a short honeymoon together. It was going to be beautiful and perfect, no matter how small the ceremony is.

"I'm just gonna go check up on the cake," Hoseok announces as he marches towards the kitchen. As soon as the man's out of the living room, Taehyung's eyes are on Yoongi.

"Hyung, what's the deal between you and Hoseok hyung? Are you two dating?"

Jimin nearly topples over the centerpiece.

"Just because your brother and your best friend are gay doesn't mean I'm gay too."

"Well then, what is it? I mean, you're friends with my brother and Namjoon hyung too, but you don't treat them like you do Hoseok hyung."

"That's cause the your brother and Namjoon are disgusting together and getting married."

"So you're saying that you guys are just friends? Only friends?"

"Yes. Now go make yourself useful elsewhere," Yoongi grumbles, shooing the younger man out of the living room. Taehyung flashes the other a toothy grin before hopping out of the room with an air of satisfaction. Jimin plays with one of the loose petals scattered around the centerpiece and clears his throat.

"I-I don't think anyone would mind...if you, you know," Jimin starts off timidly, trying his best to not turn to look at Yoongi. The older man lets out an annoyed sigh before scrolling through the playlist again.

"What is it with you and Taehyung," Yoongi mutters under his breath. "Hoseok's not gay," he adds, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Did you say something?" Jimin asks, leaning towards Yoongi. The rapper however waves his hand to shoo the smaller man away.

"No...now go make yourself useful somewhere else."

 

 

-

 


"Taekwoon hyung is here!" Taehyung bellows from somewhere in the house, which has Jimin rushing towards the front door to greet the taller man. Taekwoon nods in greeting as his hands are occupied with a pile of boxes.

"There's a few more things in the car," Taekwoon says lightly, and both Jimin and Taehyung nod and bolt out the room to retrieve them.

"Guessin' the traffic wasn't too bad?" Hoseok asks as he takes a few of the boxes. The two walk alongside each other to the kitchen, where they set everything down and wait for the two boys to come back with the rest.

"Yeah, it's not too bad...and the restaurant isn't too far from here."

"Man, how much stuff did you bring? You know you're catering for like...10 people, right?"

"Doesn't hurt to have enough food for tomorrow."

"Ha, that's true," Hoseok agrees with a grin as he opens one of the boxes to find a stash of appetizers. "Wow, these look amazing. Hmm, I better call Nam-" Hoseok's sentence is cut off by the sound of doorbells ringing through the apartment. He exits the kitchen and opens the door to find the producer, vocal trainer and head choreographer of Seokjin's agency standing with identical grins on their faces.

"Welcome, welcome," Hoseok says with an exaggerated bow as he lets them inside.

"The happy couple here yet?" Hakyeon asks, sauntering inside.

"The one getting married or Jungkook and Jimin?" Hoseok jokes with a grin and earns himself a playful smack in the arm. "They're not here yet. I mean, Namjoon's out with Jungkook, and Seokjin, I'm not sure. I know he was taking care of some business earlier today...he should be finished and getting ready soon though," Hoseok answers, remembering his friend's phonecall from the conference room.

"I'm starving," Wonshik mutters, remembering that he had to arrive at Hakyeon's house early to pick them up, only to wait another hour or so while the two got ready. He could've had breakfast, but nope, his friends would have none of that.

"Well, you're lucky, cause our caterer slash chef extraordinaire slash friend slash my brother is currently in the kitchen unloading all the food. We can probably mooch some off of him," Hoseok explains as he takes them towards the kitchen. "Hey Taek, you think you can spare Wonshik here some food?" he bellows out as he enters the vicinity, effectively drawing the taller man's attention.

Taekwoon looks up from the box he's opening and then stops as his eyes land on Wonshik, and Wonshik stops as well, the pang of hunger no longer in his system.

"...Have we....have we met?" Wonshik's the first to break the uncomfortable silence, his throat feeling dry and his fingers itchy. There is an undeniably strong sense of recognition as he studies the features of the man standing in front of him.

"....Wonshik...." Taekwoon whispers, dropping the lid he's been holding. How could he possibly forget that face? Wonshik had changed a lot over the years, but time couldn't erase the strong yet gentle eyes, his prominent nose or his sharp jawline. It was as if he was back in that house, seeing Wonshik for the first time in his 13 year old body. Wonshik had smiled at him and welcome him in with open arms. He had invited Taekwoon to sleep in his room while they shyly got to know each other.

"Taekwoon. You're Taekwoon," Wonshik calls out, taking a hesitant step forward. "You...you're alive. I thought-"

"Hey is this everything?" Taehyung's low register booms through the kitchen as the boys return. However, the two immediately come to a halt when they catch onto the tense atmosphere. Jimin quietly sets the bags down and looks back and forth between Wonshik and Taekwoon nervously before glancing at Hoseok. Hoseok only shrugs back, equally confused.

"Do you guys...know each other?" Hoseok asks hesitantly, pointing vaguely at the two of them. The question seems to break both men out of whatever trance they were in, because Wonshik jumps and turns to look at Hoseok.

"Yeah, uh...we used to know each other in like...middle school."

"Oh, really? Surprised you know my brother. What a small world huh," Hoseok muses with a forced smile, hoping that there isn't some beef between the two that's going to ruin this special day.

"Your...brother?" Wonshik asks with a frown, and Hoseok wonders if it was the wrong thing to say.

 


"Yeah, well, step-brother, but...so yeah, you guys should catch up after the wedding. I think Jin and Joon are going to be here soon any and we still have a lot of stuff to do," Hoseok says with a clap of his hands, hoping that they can put aside whatever is going on until after the ceremony. He knows that neither of them are volatile or irrational enough to start some dumb shit here when everyone's watching, but he can never be too careful. His best friends are getting married. He will not accept anything less than perfect.

Hoseok glances at Taehyung, who nods and puts the stuff he's holding onto the counter with a loud thud before nudging Jimin. Jimin fumbles for a bit before helping Taekwoon unload everything. Hakyeon, who's been watching the entire interaction from a short distance away, gives Wonshik a knowing look. He's heard about Taekwoon, minus the actual name, and judging from how completely out of it his friend look, he doesn't find it too diffcult to put two and two together.

"That's the guy who lived with you, isn't he?" Hakyeon asks quietly, only loudly enough for Wonshik to hear. The producer nods weakly as he makes his way out the kitchen. Ever since Taekwoon disappeared from his life without warning, he hadn't expected to see him again. He and Taekwoon were the best of friends. They would talk about music for hours on end, play outside in the sun when school was out and talk about what they were going to be when they grow older. He had believed that they were going to be each other's best men and drink beer together while talking about the memories of their shared childhood. Needless to say, Taekwoon leaving him had broken his heart, and it took damn too many years for the scars to fade.

So seeing Taekwoon again in the flesh was like a slap across his face. It left him in a state of daze at first, until the sting of it began spreading. A part of him is angry, remembering how heartless Taekwoon had been to just leave him like that. However, a much greater part of him is so incredibly happy and glad to see Taekwoon alive and well, and as he takes in the same gentle, shy eyes, he knows that they are still the same silly kids that used to spend so much time together. It's as if they're back in the old house, and Wonshik is suddenly overcome with a strong sense of nostalgia that's nearly paralyzing.

Hakyeon purses his lips for a brief moment before letting out a soft sigh. "You should talk to him. After the wedding. I'm sure he had his reasons."

"...Yeah...probably..." Wonshik lets out pitifully, and Hakyeon can almost physically feel the pain in the other man's voice.

"Till then, come on, smile. You don't want Jin asking any questions."

"...Yeah, you're right," Wonshik agrees with a small nod, making a mental note to speak to Taekwoon after the ceremony.

About half an hour later, they hear the main door open. Jungkook marches in first, followed by Seokjin and Namjoon who rush into the living room.

"Sorry I'm late!" Seokjin calls out with a wide smile. "The stupid meeting wouldn't end."

"Hey it's your day," Yoongi answers with a shrug. "You can be as late as you want. Alright, lets get you both ready."


-

 

 


A soft music plays in the background. Yoongi wrote the piece specifically for the wedding, and everyone stops to just take in the beautiful harmony the notes create. There is an underlying sense of hope in the otherwise mellow and slow beat, and Jimin has to fight the urge to cry, because it's just so perfect for Seokjin and Namjoon.

Jimin turns to find Namjoon and Seokjin walking down the living room, holding each other's hands. They are dressed in matching tuxes, wearing identically blissful smiles, and everyone in the room, for a fleeting moment, wish that they themselves can one day be so intensely and irrevocably in love for so long with that special someone. Jungkook gives Jimin's hand a firm squeeze, and Jimin knows that they must be thinking the same thing.

Now the two men are standing in front of everyone else, and it's their turn to read their vows to each other. Seokjin clears his throat before he begins. His voice never wavers. It's calm and sincere, laced with nothing but heartfelt love and trust. His eyes are fixed onto Namjoon, the words flowing out freely and beautifully.

"On this day, in front of our loved ones, I Kim Seokjin, take you, Kim Namjoon, to be my husband. I will be your eternal companion and partner through thick and thin, and I give you my hand, my heart and my trust until death do us apart."

"On this day, I Kim Namjoon, take you, Kim Seokjin, to be my husband, my partner in crime and my reason for living. I will forever be by yourside, storm or sunshine, in sickness and in health, and I promise you that nothing will ever take us away from each other ever again."

As Namjoon finishes, Yoongi approaches the two men and hand them their rings. As soon as the symbol of their love is on their fingers, Taehyung's jumping up and down shouting "Kiss kiss kiss!" and the rest of the crowd join in as the music changes into a much more upbeat one. Seokjin leans forward for a kiss, but Namjoon swiftly snakes his arm around the other man and drops him low before bowing down and kissing him hard on the lips. Everyone, even Taekwook, cheer loudly, throwing their arms up. Hoseok is crying again, and Yoongi lets him be, knowing it's tears of joy this time. Jungkook wraps his arm around Jimin and pulls him tightly against his side. The moment is perfect. Everything is perfect. And as Jungkook watches Jimin smile happily besides him, he doesn't think anything else in the world can ever be so beautiful.

 

 

 

-