Actions

Work Header

permanence

Work Text:

It's a day like any other. Jimin's feet ache - in a distant sort of way, like he can't remember where the ache is coming from and it's taking mercy on him. Lying in wait until he's in the comfort of his home before setting in. There are bodies on every side of him, packed in too close, too tightly. The smell of sweat and musk permeates the tiny box - he feels like a sardine, cooking in the July heat.

 

A woman is seated across from where he stands. She won't stop staring, eyes firmly fixed on the arm stretched above his head. His hand tightens around the strap he holds onto, willing himself not to shift, not to glare back. He's annoyed, uncomfortable.

 

There's a jerk, a collective stumble. Someone's elbow wedges into his back. A man in a business suit sidesteps in front of him, trying to regain balance, and the woman is cut off from his line of vision. His chest tightens a little, claustrophobia tickling at his ankles, yet his shoulders still manage to lose a bit of tension now that there aren't judgmental eyes following him.

 

Jimin should be used to the attention on his arms, on the tattoos that scrawl all over, spilling out onto the back of his hands. It's a normal occurrence. It's a day like any other, after all.

 

The train begins to slow to a stop, the horde of bodies swaying in sync. Jimin's stomach gives a flip, a tumble, the familiar pressure of motion sickness lodging itself in his throat. Swallowing thickly, he looks away, attempts to convince his body that the rumble of the train beneath his feet and the swaying of the car are wholly natural. He shuts his eyes tight for a minute and when he opens them, looks up and out, his breath is taken away.

 

Sunlight catches on lavender hair and the swoop Jimin's stomach gives is of an entirely different category, his heart flying away from him far too quickly. Far too easily. There's a slant to the boy's mouth as it twists down. His eyes look lazy, bored, a tiny furrow carved between his brows.

 

Jimin's thumb twitches, he wishes he was there. To smooth it out and away. Maybe lift the drooping slope of the boy's shoulders.

 

The world seems to stop, the quickly slowing train no longer a bother to him. All the bustling around Jimin disappears. For a few seconds he's anything but trapped, the only things existing on his plane are him and this boy with golden-tan skin and fairy hair. The only thing that registers in Jimin's mind is the way this stranger glows.

 

The heat of summer isn't sweltering anymore, the sweat on the back of his neck cools. A different heat, more familiar and sizzling, creeps up on him. His heart beats double time and every inch of his body tingles, verging on painful. Jimin wonders where the newest tattoo has appeared; acknowledges, almost defeatedly, that he's fallen once again.

 

And just as quickly as it all began, it comes to an end. The train pulls to a stop and the doors open. The crowd moves together, a rush of bodies coming in and going out, stepping into Jimin's field of vision. This time he isn't so grateful. It takes him a moment to decide but he's quick afterward - to push his body against those all around him and squeeze his way through to where the boy once stood. The walls that he'd managed to forget about reappear around him, squeezing all the oxygen out of his body.

 

It's all for naught. There's nothing but an empty space for Jimin to sag against, the newest love of his life having disappeared already.

 

It's a first, definitely. To have fallen and lost so quickly. But not entirely new.

 

The set of his shoulders is dejected, as if it's habit for his body now, but it's still real. He stands in the spot left for him and ponders his luck.

 

Sighing, he rolls his neck back, looks up to catch the gaze of a man side eyeing him, tracking the patterns on his skin. Jimin rolls his eyes, straightens his back.

 

The tingling along his skin, the unnatural but comforting heat is finally dying down as he does. It's a day like any other, he thinks. And he's fallen in love.

 

( Again. )

 

 

 

 

"I'm in love ," Jimin announces with a slumping into his apartment. He shucks his shoes haphazardly, dropping his bag by the entrance. Hoseok hyung will no doubt give him the evil eye for it later.

 

Jeongguk doesn't even look up from his spot on the couch, attention focused completely on the drama he's watching with bated breath. He's got a thumb held up to his mouth, biting his nail in anticipation as he waits for the obviously-going-to-happen kiss to unfold. Jimin flops down beside him, slapping his hand away. Disgusting habits always seem to be dealt with through tiny acts of violence in their home.

 

He announces once more, pointedly, " Jeonggukie, I'm in love. And slightly heartbroken."

 

Jeongguk snorts, still doesn't look at him, "You did sound slightly more put out with this declaration."

 

Jimin frowns, jabs him in the side. " Asshole ."

 

" Hyung, " Jeongguk huffs, still not tearing his eyes away from the tv, "Your love life is more predictable than this drama." He reaches over and picks up Jimin's arm to shake before his eyes. Finally turning to look at him, or rather, his tattoos . "How many more do you need to show up before you stop getting surprised?"

 

The drama continues to play in the background, unpaused. The characters whisper their confession as the music reaches a crescendo. Jimin can't help but look, can't help but watch as they reveal the inked marks on their skin, branding them as each other's for all the world to see. He sighs. Pouts. Pulls his arm away.

 

"If only it were that easy," he groans. " My love interest just became the one that got away. I didn't even get to say hi! Now I can't stop thinking about him."

 

Jeongguk reaches over to pat his back. The gesture goes un-thanked. Jimin shoves him away with a scowl. "You have to help me find him."

 

Now Jeongguk's the one that's scowling. "No way." At Jimin's glare he rolls his eyes and continues with a shrug, "You'll find someone new soon enough." His attention flits away once more, back on his drama.

 

 

 

 

"You'll find someone new darling," his mother had told him, brushing his hair back from his forehead as he had sat nestled into his father's side. "There are plenty of fish in the sea."

 

It was horrible phrasing and Jimin let out a hiccuped, little sob. His gaze fixed down, looking at the goldfish etched on his knee. His parents cringed above his head.

 

"But I don't want other fish," Jimin had whimpered, glassy eyed, lips trembling. He traced a finger over the tiny fish before looking up at his mother. "This means I love her. Like you and Abeoji love each other! Why do I have to find someone new?"

 

"Jimin-ah," his father said, firmly but not unkindly. Jimin remembers how he had moved away slightly so he could bend down, speak to Jimin on his level. "Not everyone we love will always love us back." He rolled up his pant leg slightly to show a bit of his own collection of tattoos. "See? I had a lot of people I loved before I found your mother. Just like our mother had a lot of people she loved before me. It doesn't always work out and we can't always force it to. And that's okay ."

 

Jimin had sniffled, stared. He hadn't understood. "Is there something wrong with me?"

 

"Oh, honey, no," his mother had wrapped him up in her arms, pulled him into her lap like he had stopped letting her after he turned seven. He'd become a big boy after all. But at that moment, it was exactly what helped him begin to feel better. She looked Jimin in the eye, gave him her serious look, the one he knew meant business. "There's nothing wrong with you, not at all. You're perfect but that doesn't mean you're perfect for her. Sometimes people don't click. But that doesn't mean it's your fault or that you're not good enough."

 

Jimin sniffled again. It still wasn't aligning in his head properly but he nodded and looked down. He had smacked a hand over the fish tattoo and refused to look at it - the next day and for the following week, he had sported a Toy Story bandaid over it.

 

"It'll be alright Jimin," his father said, "You'll move on. It won't hurt forever. And we'll always love you, see?" He shows Jimin his forearm, where a dark brown wolf stares up at him. Jimin's mother had an identical tattoo. It's Jimin's wolf. The one people will get for loving him, his parents had explained to him.

 

He couldn't help another little sob blubbering out of him. Not because he was sad but because he had felt warm, overcome with gratefulness and love for his parents. He felt happy and he'd thrown himself into their embrace.

 

The next week, Jimin came home with a cluster of daisies imprinted onto his shoulder, speaking a mile a minute about a boy he met. He was over the moon, all over again. His puppy love had actually been returned this time. It was the start of a spiral that landed him with all the artwork he has at age twenty, wrapping around his body in little stories.

 

He literally wore his heart on his sleeve.

 

 

 

 

Jimin yanks the sleeves of his sweater down as the wind bites at his fingertips. September has come to an end, ushering in the drop in temperature. The leaves are changing color, Jimin's clothes are getting thicker, Starbucks starts rolling out its pumpkin spice lattes. Fall is in the air.

 

And Jimin loves it. But he hates being cold.

 

He's quick to rush to his apartment building at the edge of campus once his shift at the bagel shop is over. The sudden cold keeps him from being distracted by friends or coffee and he makes his trip in record time. He stumbles through his door, his body giving a shudder at the drastic change in temperature and making his spine tingle when warmth finally envelopes the tips of his ears.

 

He's alone for a blessed five minutes before Jeongguk comes crashing in, teeth chattering, shaking out his limbs. Jimin had told him not to go out in just a t-shirt. But Jeongguk had just said that he wasn't his mother and left, so the gleeful snicker Jimin lets escape at his expense can't really be blamed. Jeongguk huffs at him to shut up but comes to a stop halfway to his room when Jimin goes to pull off his sweatshirt.

 

The shirt below gets dragged up and Jeongguk is quick to dart forward. He places too-cold fingers against the large piece of muscle tape along Jimin's side, making him yelp and jump away.

 

"Hyung," Jeongguk says before Jimin can complain, voice sounding worried. A little bit of guilt leaks into Jimin's heart. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"

 

Jimin bites his lip, swallows, shoves his shirt back down. His ears feel like they're burning an angry red.

 

"I'm fine, Jeonggukie," he waves him away, flopping down on the couch, "Just some aches, I probably pushed myself too hard yesterday." He bats his lashes, and cranes his head back against the couch to look up at Jeongguk with a grin. "If you're so worried though, why don't you take over dinner for tonight?"

 

Jeongguk squints at him and Jimin thinks he buys it, prays he didn't notice the strategic placement of the tape. How it covers up one of the bigger questions currently haunting his life. There for his sanity rather than to alleviate pain. His luck must be turning for the better - Jeongguk shrugs, starts walking away again.

 

"I'll tell Hoseok hyung to pick something up," he calls back over his shoulder. His door clicks closed before swinging open again only seconds later so he can tack on, "Don't go to the gym tonight! Old man."

 

Jimin sighs and stretches out, arms reaching far above his head. Groaning, he rolls over and resists the temptation of stuffing his face into the couch cushions and falling asleep. He's fairly certain the couch isn't clean enough for that. Jeongguk has probably done unspeakable things on it.

 

Hell, he's probably done unspeakable things on it.

 

A hand drifts down to feel the tape on his side through the fabric of his t-shirt. He frowns at the ceiling. It's been two months since the mystery boy came in and out of his life within the span of a few stuttered heartbeats. And Jeongguk was right . He did find someone new. And then found another someone new after that.

 

And now he needs another someone new because his luck in love is dismaying.

 

"You're so stupid, Park Jimin," he mumbles to himself, letting go of his side and folding his arms under his head. A small nap would help him not feel like he was stuck in the least funky of funks. Nasty couch be damned. "Hung up on a stranger. Stupid."

 

 

 

 

"You're so stupid, kid," Yoongi says, throwing an arm around his shoulder to pull him back against his chest. A half hug. In public . Yoongi is always touchy, no matter how much he pretends to hate it, but he saves the hugging for private at least. Either he's feeling extra fond today or he looks extra pitiful, Jimin thinks. "You got rejected by Seulgi an entire month ago. You still can't talk to her without making that face?"

 

"What face?" Jimin sniffs. He knows what face. It's the same expression he's been sporting for the better part of the past week, stuck too deep in his slump. Faced with Seulgi, he's sure it's made a reappearance.

 

Yoongi's hand is heavy on his shoulder and he remembers the conversation they had one month back. Jimin was holding back tears, devastated. Yoongi had given him a look that said he was tired, that it was time to get his shit together . But he'd opened his arms to him all the same, patted Jimin's head, and repeated words he hadn't needed to hear in a long time.

 

"It's not you, Jimin-ah," Yoongi's arms tightened around his shoulder. Jimin feels his voice rumble where his head is pressed into Yoongi's chest. "Sometimes things just don't work out."

 

"But it never works out." He rubbed his forehead more insistently against Yoongi before sitting back, scrubbing at his face. "I'm just...frustrated."

 

"Have you thought, maybe," Yoongi pauses, trailing off. He scratches at his sideburns a little, pinning Jimin with a considering look. Jimin stares back, frowning. He's not too delicate for this, he hates when people look at him like he's delicate at all. Yoongi sighs, pats his knee. "Have you thought it's not you but the way you go about this whole thing? Life isn't a fairy tale. You can't just fall in love with every person you lay your eyes on and expect it to work out like some shitty Katherine Heigl romantic comedy."

 

It stuck with Jimin. Is still sticking with him. Reminding him that he always does the same thing over and over - that he really does fall in love with anyone that smiles in his direction. It's stupid and ridiculous and makes him feel embarrassed, makes him flush and want to keep his head down. Makes him feel like it's idiotic to even feel heartbroken over Seulgi or Mystery Boy or anyone.

 

"There you go," Yoongi says, elbowing him, "Pulling that face again ."

 

"Sorry hyung," Jimin smiles, trying to banish the heavy thoughts. He thinks about puppies and his grandmothers cookies and the cute goldfish on his knee. "It's not about noona, I swear," he lies, a little. It's a little bit about her, a little bit about a lot of people. "I'm just... feeling funny this week." He shrugs, doesn't meet Yoongi's eyes when they get a little bit sharper, stare a little bit harder. "School and stress and stuff, I guess."

 

Yoongi hums in understanding but probably doesn't believe him, if the way he grips Jimin's wrist and pulls him into the coffee shop is any indication. Or maybe he does believe him, Jimin hopes, maybe he just feels sympathy for once instead of typical upperclassmen glee.

 

"Alright then, I'll buy you coffee. Let's see if that can get you smiling properly instead of your forced diner smile," Yoongi says, tone gruff. There are worry lines at the corners of his mouth though.

 

Jimin throws himself forward into Yoongi's side. Feeling a little brighter because even if he can't find love love, he's got lovely friends. There's an owl sitting on his calf proving as much. "You're the best hyung a brat like me could ever ask for."

 

"Ain't that the truth. Brat." The fingers around his wrist get a little tighter. Jimin feels a little better.

 

 

 

 

Cold fingers wrap around his wrist, tapping an easy beat against his pulse, one Jimin knows too well. He shivers and jerks his hand away, shooting Jeongguk a questioning look. He's sitting cross-legged on the ground beside Jimin, on top of the ridiculously large number of blankets they've spread out, giving him a warm, if slightly tight, smile. He nods his head, pointing his chin toward the couch.

 

Jimin rolls over to stare at Shiah and Mihyun, all wrapped up in each other. His smile dims. A small part of him regrets inviting them over for a movie, even though it's been ages since he's hung out properly with his friends. They're just so--

 

Shiah leans over to place her head on Mihyun's shoulder. Mihyun's fingers tighten over Shiah's.

 

--Gross. Grossly in love. He's jealous. Happy that they found love in each other but totally jealous.

 

"What?" he sighs, scrunching his nose.

 

Mihyun rolls her eyes at him, "I asked if you're gonna go to the bowling thing with everyone."

 

Before he gets a chance to even open his mouth, Hoseok and Jeongguk respond for him, simultaneously calling out a, "He is."

 

"What, no I’m not," Jimin blinks, sitting up so he can shove at Jeongguk's shoulder. "Who said I am."

 

"Me," Hoseok says, pointing at himself. "And I'm your hyung so you have no choice but to come along. You've been cooping yourself up in here for the past week, anyway. Everyone thinks you're dead."

 

"Ha ha," Jimin squints at him, "No thanks. I don't wanna."

 

"Oh come on, " Jeongguk says, wiggling away when Jimin tries to shove at him again. "A ton of people will be there! I can introduce to some new friends."

 

"Yeah, Jimin-ah," Shiah pipes up, sticking her feet up by his face and wiggling her toes. He falls back trying to avoid her, reaching under to pinch at her calf. She sticks her tongue out at him. "Stop being a hermit, it's no fun."

 

"Everyone's gonna be a couple and be gross and annoying the whole time," he huffs, glaring pointedly at the two girls on his couch.

 

"Is that why you keep moping," Shiah rolls her eyes at him. She throws a chip at his face. "Stop. Just come, you're going to have a good time. Besides, we haven't hung out in ages--" he attempts to interrupt her but gets another foot in the face "-- outside of this apartment or work."

 

"You're all probably just going to try to introduce me to psych majors that give me the third degree and tell me what all these tattoos really mean," he sniffs, looking in Mihyun's direction. One of the mentioned psych majors. She at least has the decency to hide her snickering behind her hand, avoiding Jimin's gaze, unlike the rest of them.

 

"Psych majors will be minimal," Hoseok says, standing to get himself a refill of his soda, tugging on Jimin's ear as he passes. "Besides, like I said, you have no choice."

 

Jimin sighs, flopping back down. Jeongguk pats his back, ever the sympathetic friend that never gets any thank yous -- Jimin just rolls away from him.

 

They've clearly got him outnumbered and out-willed on this so Jimin sighs. Shrugs. It's the closest they'll get him to assent. He doesn't like losing. But it's good enough, if the way Shiah's face lights up says anything. She shares a gleeful smirk with Mihyun, Jeongguk throws a pillow at his face, and Jimin wonders why all his friends are actually enemies in disguise.

 

 

 

 

"You're not walking into some sort of enemy territory here, Jimin," Shiah rolls her eyes at him.

 

Jimin feels jittery, his shoulders up by his ears, trying not to trudge as they walk along to the bowling alley. Shiah's attached to his side, arm hooked through his as Mihyun and Jeongguk walk behind him, seemingly attempting to work out a battle plan slash pick up technique. He needs one. Last time he faced Jiho, he dropped his coffee and ran away. Or at least, that's the gist Jimin got of it.

 

Ahead of them, Hoseok and Yoongi are loudly complaining at the couple leading their little ragtag group for excessive PDA aka Seokjin and Chorong holding hands too tightly. Jimin snorts at a particularly loud complaint, turning his attention back to Shiah. He hip checks her for the eye roll.

 

"I don't know what you want from me, woman," Jimin says, and accepts that the harsh pinch he gets for that is well-deserved. He still fights back with a few pokes to her side that get her giggling and wiggling away. "I'm not ditching, am I?"

 

"No, but," Shiah makes a face, latching back on like a leech . Her touch is calming though, resting over his nape where her tattoo lies so he forgives her. "You could stand to look at least slightly less tense. I feel like if I touch you the wrong way you'll break in half and then who will we have to rag on everyday?"

 

Jimin scoffs at the sentiment but his shoulders still lower and his gait becomes more comfortable, natural.

 

"Much better," Shiah says, fluffing his hair. Jimin doesn't even know why he feels so tense in the first place. Strangers make him nervous but he can usually fake it til he woos them into loving him and being his friends. His palms are actually sweating today.

 

His chest twinges as he thinks about the looks he always gets for his tattoos. He thinks about falling for someone again and how his friends would call him predictable, a cliche, and his gut twists. He doesn't want that, for once. It's been days . Weeks, even. He's starting to think he's changing.

 

There's just a thorn sticking in his side, the one Shiah isn't pressed against. A little seed attempting to poison him with self-doubt. But he's been through this phase already, he reminds himself, he's gotta stop. He's not in high school anymore.

 

Jimin sighs and shakes out his limbs, shaking Shiah along with him. She gives him a pleased smile, a skip added to her step. He skips along with her. His friends wanted him to be with them tonight and he doesn't want to bring the mood down anymore than he already has -- for him or anyone else.

 

The others must see the change because seconds later, a heavy arm is being thrown around his shoulder, making him buckle under Jeongguk's waist. He doesn't even have much time to recover before Mihyun is hopping onto his back.

 

"Is my little Jiminie smiling now?" she coos at him over his shoulder, poking at his cheeks as they approach the entrance of the bowling alley.

 

"Menace!" he hoists her higher, fake annoyance not sticking to his voice as laughter forces its way out, "You're a total menace!"

 

Shiah pulls him away after they've checked out shoes and passed around the new pairs of socks because bowling shoes , ew. Her hand feels heavy upon his skin once more and Jimin is grateful.

 

"I promise we're not ambushing you this time," she tells him, face serious in a way he doesn't see too often. He can't help but raise his hands to squish her cheeks together, nodding his head in understanding even as his eyes squint from his smile.

 

 

 

 

"Nice strike," a voice comes from behind him, deep yet somehow chirpy.

 

Jimin turns, a smile ready on his face but it disappears as he blinks at the unexpected sight. A boy that looks around his age, standing a couple of inches taller than him, looking absolutely golden. There's something familiar, something that sits right within grasp but flits away before Jimin can fully formulate the thought. But what takes Jimin aback is the wide smile stretched across his face, an endearing square, and the way that his eyes twinkling, squinting from the force of his smile. Cute . Jimin's stomach flips and he has to remind himself, sternly, no .

 

He quickly remembers himself and has to fight to not cross his arms over his chest, sticking his hands in his pockets instead. He offers a polite grin in return, completely unable to look away from how the boy's blond bangs fall into his large eyes. Eyes that are focused solely on him. It makes a flush rise along the back of his neck.

 

"Thanks," he rolls onto the balls of his feet and back, "But I'm sorry to say a strike is never less than amazing, excuse you very much." He can't help but tack on the embarrassed laugh, wants to hide his face a little bit.

 

But this golden boy just nods seriously, says, "You're right, my bad completely. That was a magnificent, beautifully executed, awe-inspiring strike."

 

Jimin's smile widens into a grin, his mouth opening a little and he lets out a surprised giggle. Cute, he thinks again, and a total loser. "Now that's more like it," he says, swaying a little in his spot.

 

"Kim Taehyung," the boy says, sticking out his hand, "It's nice to meet you. I saw you come in with Hoseok hyung and Yoongi hyung earlier."

 

Jimin tries to quickly and discreetly wipe his palm against his jeans but Kim Taehyung glances down and he gets the feeling that he's failed miserably. His lips quirk a little more but he doesn't call him out on it, so Jimin decides he likes him. He slips his palm against Taehyung's, keeping his grip firm and is pleasantly surprised, once again, when Taehyung does the same. As if this very official introduction were happening in a very official place and not in a bowling alley past midnight.

 

"Oh, you know Hoseok hyung? He's my flatmate!" Jimin thinks he sees Hoseok look over at the mention of his name. He doesn't expect to be so happy when he chooses not to come over. No , he tells himself again, at the familiar twinge in his chest, no .

 

"Then you must be the infamous Park Jimin," Taehyung grins at him, "I know Jeonggukie too."

 

"Don't believe anything they've said, they're big liars," he's quick to respond with and thinks, after a beat, that it must make him look all the more suspicious and all of their claims all the more valid.

 

"I guess you're not a good friend and roommate even though you're a little messy, then?" Taehyung teases, shifts a little closer, feet scuffing the ground. Jimin's fingers mess with his rings as his ears flame red.

 

"Definitely zero percent messy but one hundred percent everything else," it sounds like a question. Taehyung laughs, it's hiccuped, going silent, and contagious. Jimin's cheeks threaten to start aching with how much he's smiling.

 

"I think I saw you with Mihyun too, right?" Taehyung asks, gesturing to two empty seats. Jimin follows him to sit, leaning back and feeling himself relax more and more. His palms aren't even that sweaty anymore. Taehyung crosses his legs under himself, seemingly perfectly at ease.

 

"Wow, okay, you know everyone apparently," Jimin nods, "I'm guessing you know Shiah, too?"

 

"Your girlfriend?"

 

"What," Jimin splutters, shaking his head and waving his hand no, "No, definitely not."

 

Taehyung bites his lip, it's his turn to look sheepish. His hand rubs at the back of his neck and he rocks to and fro. Jimin taps a random beat against his knee, rubs at his nose, resists the temptation to rock forward a little as well, move slightly closer.

 

"It just looked like you guys were more," Taehyung offers, slightly awkward. "I mean you just seemed," he waves his hand around, "Close. I shouldn't have assumed!"

 

"She was just giving me a pep talk," Jimin's shaking his head, "She's dating Mihyun actually."

 

"What! No way? I didn't even know Mihyun was talking to anyone," Taehyung twists around, craning his neck until he spots Mihyun and Shiah. It's great timing, Shiah's got a hand on Mihyun's ass and they're way too close to look like just friends. "Ah, okay."

 

"Yep."

 

"So, pep talk?"

 

"Oh, it's silly," Jimin runs a hand through his hair. Taehyung glances up before his gaze drifts back down. "I just hadn't really felt like coming out tonight."

 

Taehyung nods, humming in understanding. "I'm glad you did."

 

Jimin knows he's blushing at that, can feel his face warm up and bleed all the way down into his neck. He hopes it's not too noticeable in the terrible, neon lighting of the bowling alley. It probably is, he thinks, since he can see the faintest hint of pink along Taehyung's cheekbones. Jimin clears his throat, rubbing at his nose again. "So, who did you come with?"

 

"I don't know if you know them but at this rate," Taehyung half turns, searching through the large group of rowdy college kids, jabbing his thumb at some howling boys, "Sungjae and Sanghyuk."

 

"Oh god," Jimin says immediately, dropping his head, "I'm so sorry, damn."

 

"I know right!" Taehyung laughs that hiccuped laugh again, Jimin's chest feels warm, "It's okay. I put up with them because that's what best friends do right?"

 

"Um, excuse me," Jimin puts a hand out, stopping Taehyung in his tracks, "They're definitely my best friends."

 

Taehyung's mouth drops open in surprise before morphing into mock-betrayal. "I can’t believe they've been cheating on me this entire time."

 

"Or maybe," Jimin gasps, clutching at his chest, voice sounding like there's a laugh trapped in his throat, "They were cheating on me. "

 

Taehyung manages to look serious for all of two seconds before he bursts into a fit of giggles. "I'm sorry," he gasps, "But your acting face is horrible . I mean still good but you definitely look constipated." Jimin tries not to linger on the still good . "I hope this isn't what you do for a living."

 

Jimin snorts, reaching over to flick at Taehyung's knee. If they hadn't just met, he would have aimed for the forehead. The way Taehyung's eyes shine when he looks up at Jimin, small bouts of laughter trickling out of him now and then, gentles the insult.

 

"Nope, I saved myself, I guess," Jimin pulls back, "I'm a sociology major. You've got a pretty good acting face though." He doesn't add that he thinks Taehyung has a good face, period.

 

"Too bad," Taehyung grins, lopsided, "I'm doing econ."

 

"Did you have to take that shitty research design class?" Jimin leans forward, blurting the question out. His smile dropping slightly to make room for the scowl that accompanies his complaint.

 

Taehyung pushes a finger between his brows at it. Jimin realizes he's just that kind of person. He feels no hesitancy with strangers at all. He probably doesn't adhere to personal bubble spaces. Jimin doesn't mind, he usually doesn't either - just not this quickly. Still, his frown melts away.

 

"I'm taking it right now. Super shitty."

 

Jimin double-takes. "Which section are you in?"

 

"The eight a.m."

 

"No way ," Jimin's chuckle is incredulous. "I'm in that class this semester too!"

 

"Okay so let me get this straight," Taehyung says, "Not only are all our friends the same, we're also in the same class."

 

"How have we never run into each other before?"

 

The sheepish smile is back in place across Taehyung's features. He fidgets with his sock. Jimin thinks he spies Oscar the Grouch on them. "That might be my fault," he says, a lilting hum to his voice where holds back embarrassed laughter, "Waking up at eight a.m. isn't my forte." Before Jimin can get in so much as a typical-hypocritical-college-student wow, Taehyung continues, " But! I think it was just fate wanting to keep us apart."

 

Jimin is quiet for a moment, blinking at Taehyung slowly. "I can't believe," he starts, straightening his shoulders and letting all his breath out in a whoosh, "That we're totally messing with fate right now."

 

A grin splits Taehyung's face. "We're just adding spice to our lives, you know. Some adventure . Besides we gotta make those old ladies work for it."

 

"Wait, what," Jimin stops him, fingers just barely touching his knee, "What old ladies?"

 

"You know," Taehyung gestures vaguely, "The ones from Hercules."

 

"Oh my god."

 

 

 

 

It's late into the night, closer to morning, when their group troops its way outside. The night air bites at Jimin's skin and his teeth chatter, nose turning red. He jumps in his spot, waving goodbye to friends. Hoseok is pulling Yoongi away and Jimin hides a snort behind his hand. Jeongguk is fake retching next to him, muttering, "Oh my god."

 

Jimin turns to look over his shoulder. Taehyung's behind him, waving like a madman at Seokjin, shouting out a few more, slightly hoarse, goodnights. A grin breaks out over Jimin's face almost immediately. Distantly he thinks that he must look like a fool. He feels like a fool, the goosebumps on his skin possibly not caused solely by the sting of the night.

 

He glances back at Jeongguk who raises a brow before rolling his eyes. He steps off to the side with a long-suffering sigh, turning to the side in the most unsubtle of ways. It doesn't really count as privacy, not when half the group is still only a few feet away and Jeongguk would still be able to hear everything but it's enough that Jimin doesn't feel like he's standing center stage when he says goodbye.

 

Taehyung retreats on himself, crossing his arms over his chest and rubbing warmth into his arms. It's cute, Jimin's smile gentles. It feels like Taehyung's spreading warmth into him , sparking flames against the flint of his bones.

 

Taehyung pants a bit, from the almost-jumping jacks he fashioned into what could only be a goodbye dance, arms having been waved frantically above his head. He comes to stand in front of Jimin, grin back in place. Jimin wants to press his cold palms to his cheeks, ask if they hurt. He holds himself back.

 

"It's a bummer," Taehyung pouts. Jimin raises his brows in question, swaying on his feet to bring himself heat. He realizes too late that he's swaying closer to Taehyung, unable to bring himself to stop. "Everyone's heading home and I'm nowhere near tired."

 

Jimin huffs a small laugh, "Me neither. I guess this is what happens when we start getting old."

 

"Speak for yourself," Taehyung pokes him in the shoulder, "If you're feeling up to it, maybe, we could... I dunno, go get an early breakfast slash late dinner?"

 

Jimin takes a moment to just gape, in surprise. The invitation is welcome but wholly unexpected. His mouth opens and closes a few times, unsure of what to say. "Just us?"

 

There it is again. That faint, pink flush against the gold of Taehyung's skin, spreading across the tops of his cheekbones. "I mean, yes? Why not. You seem cool. I'm pretty cool," Taehyung shrugs, Jimin snorts. The pretty flush gets a little deeper, "Let's be cool with waffles."

 

Jimin grins wide, dimpling, pretending to mull it over. He turns on his heel, "Jeonggukie." Jeongguk turns to him, expression tired and unamused. "I'm gonna go get some food with Taehyung. Do you want to come along?"

 

He sends Jeongguk vaguely threatening faces, forcing his eyes wide and gritting his teeth. The offer is completely empty. Jeongguk purses his lips like he's trying not to laugh. "Nope, I think I'm full," he says, voice higher than usual. Jimin owes him coffee. "You two have fun."

 

Jimin grins, body sagging slightly with relief that's probably embarrassingly obvious. "Text me when you get home!" he calls after Jeongguk's retreating back.

 

When he turns back to Taehyung, there's a soft smile on his face. "What?" Jimin asks, hand automatically coming up to touch at his face, suddenly self-conscious.

 

"Nothing, that's just cute," Taehyung gestures behind him, "The way you take care of him. It's sweet."

 

"Be nice to me and I'll be sweet about you too," Jimin says, but his fingers feel tingly where they clutch at his own shirt and he feels like bouncing in place all over again.

 

"I look forward to it."

 

 

 

 

"I can't believe I was looking forward to unraveling all your mysteries only to find out that you're  almost practically the same person as me," Taehyung whines, laying his head down on the table, beside his plate of food. He looks up at Jimin through his lashes and Jimin doesn't want to think about how that makes him feel, decides to assign "uncomfortable" to the refuse-to-be-acknowledged emotion instead. He shifts in his spot, knee bouncing, and the plastic of the booth makes uncomfortable noises beneath him. Taehyung snickers. Jimin can't really blame him for it.

 

"Excuse you," Jimin snorts, affronted, throwing a ketchup packet at Taehyung's head. Right on cue, he opens it up to start mixing it with more mayo to dip his waffles into. "I'm not the one with gross eating habits." Jimin stares with raised brows and a grimace on his face, pushing his own plate away.

 

"You're just willfully ignorant, Park Jiminie," Taehyung tears off a piece of his ketchmayo covered  waffle, shoving it into his face, "Don't knock it ‘til you've tried it."

 

Jimin tries to lean away as much as he can but he's trapped. He regrets letting Taehyung talk them into a booth instead of sitting at a table.

 

"Get away from me, you nasty," he tries batting Taehyung's hands away, a giggle in his voice, but Taehyung is insistent. Jimin only acquiesces when the waffle is shoved right against his lips, smearing over them, and closes his mouth over it with a huff. He sees the way Taehyung's throat bobs, feels pleased even though he tries to deny it. Tries to pretend he didn't see it happen at all.

 

"You missed a spot," Taehyung says, clearing his throat after Jimin's attempted to lick all the dressing away, reaching over to swipe at his face. It would be romantic if it weren't so rough and if Taehyung didn't pull a face of disgust, grimacing as he wipes his hand on a napkin.

 

"You're really going for this I-could-be-the-lead-in-a-drama thing aren't you," Jimin teases, willing the embers under his skin to die away.

 

"Why? Did I make your heart flutter?" Taehyung shoots back, throwing a crumpled napkin at him.

 

Jimin groans, kicking under the table, "You're horrible."

 

He stretches his arms overhead, a cross between a whine and a yawn leaving him, as Taehyung moves to slide out. "Come on, we should go," he says, "That's like the fifth time you've yawned. I'm starting to think you lied to me when you said you weren't tired."

 

"I wasn't ," Jimin insists, following him out, bumping their shoulders together, "Stop trying to make up a drama in your head Kim Taehyung."

 

"Make up ," Taehyung scoffs, "Whatever you say." They slow to a stop outside the restaurant, in front of one of the big windows facing the street. The neon blue and red of the open sign casts its glow against Taehyung's face. He looks surreal, ethereal, like someone that couldn't possibly exist outside the realms of sprinklings the sandman leaves for him.

 

"I had fun," Jimin says, hands back in his pockets, once more rocking to and fro on the balls of his feet. "Thanks for paying, you didn't have to."

 

"It's fine," Taehyung shrugged, "You can pay me back next time."

 

Next time . A smile stretches across Jimin's face, he pats down his pockets looking for his phone. "You can count on it," he says, extending it out for Taehyung to put his number into.

 

They say their goodbyes and Jimin feels giddy . Like he's stepping on air rather than a cracked, stained sidewalk with too much fresh gum stuck to it. He only makes it a few feet, barely suppressing the borderline manic grin that's threatening the edges of his mouth before his feet stutter to a stop. He glances beside him to see Taehyung glancing back, looking at him with amusement.

 

"Are you stalking me?" he asks.

 

"Are you stalking me?"

 

"Jiminie, I think we've established that I make your heart flutter." There's too much truth to it and a small part of Jimin wants to panic.

 

"But this is totally a wannabe male lead move," he points out, beginning to walk again, steps slow.

 

Taehyung laughs. "We probably live in the same area, what with everything else being so similar," he falls into step beside Jimin, nudging him. There really was an incredible amount of similarity - years, age, interests. Two halves of a joke the universe was trying to play. The setup and the punchline. "University Village?"

 

"I'm sorry, Taehyung," Jimin shakes his head, "I don't think there's gonna be a next time. We can't hang out again."

 

"What?" Taehyung's head shoots up. Jimin feels unreasonably flattered. "Why not?" There's definitely a pout on his face and Jimin wants to reach up to pat it away. But they're not there yet, he thinks.

 

"Because we're definitely messing with the fates if we do," Jimin grins, bumping against Taehyung's side again to assuage any worries. "This is getting creepy. What building do you live in?"

 

"46."

 

"52."

 

"We're literally a street away from each other?" Taehyung's mouth gapes open. "This is wild." He bumps Jimin back, the rest of their steps far too close and entangled, their walk suddenly dangerous enough to have them crashing down. Jimin doesn't think he would mind.

 

It's still chilly out but he feels incredibly warm, the shoulder against his firing off his nerve ending until the heat spreads through his entire body.

 

 

 

 

When Jimin tiptoes through his door, dawn is pushing its long fingers against the horizon, peeking through the drapes of the sky, and Jimin is back to feeling as awake as ever. He shivers in the dark apartment, even though it's warm, the heater turned up. For a moment, he just stands there in the dark, toeing off his shoes slowly, goosebumps rising along his arm. He's overwhelmed, doesn't know what to do first, breath coming shallower, quicker.

 

The urgency in his bones resonates too loudly for him to deny.

 

Swallowing, he rushes to the bathroom. He hits the corner of an end table with his hip, hissing in pain but more because it sent a textbook crashing to the ground. He prays Jeongguk is sleeping as deeply as he usually does, that he didn't wake him, whining quietly to himself as he half-limps to the bathroom.

 

He yanks his clothes off without care, turning and twisting as he stares at himself in the mirror. Arms reaching around, pulling his skin taut and limbs in ways that are almost painful. Most of the tattoos painted across his skin, he knows well. All of them are familiar. Not a single new pattern meets his eyes.

 

A choked, shocked, desperate noise leaves his throat. His nails catch on the edge of the tape and he rips off in one go, without much thought, immediately turning to examine the slightly red skin. The same lion he's stared at for months glares back at him, the same, older tattoos surrounding it.

 

Nothing. There's nothing.

 

Confusion melts across Jimin's chest. He slumps, the wall cool against his back, doesn't understand the reflection across from him. This isn't the ending he expected, definitely isn't an ending he knows how to handle.

 

Messing with fate , his mind whispers. His throat constricts and he wonders why he feels so forlorn. So lost.

 

 

 

 

By the time Jeongguk wakes up for his morning run, Jimin is seated at their dining table. A bowl of soggy cereal sits in front of him, he pushes the food around every few moments with his spoon, metal clinking. There's a towel slung around his neck, hair dripping wet, slumped and tired. His entire figure gives off the feeling of dejection.

 

"What's up hyung?" Jeongguk asks, making his way to their kitchen. Jimin jumps, blinking away the approaching fingers of sleep. "You look...lost?"

 

Jimin shrugs, helplessly. Nothing's wrong. Nothing should be wrong. For all intents and purposes, he just had a wonderful night and made a wonderful friend. He should be sleeping away his day in bed right now.

 

Jeongguk settles at the table next to him with a frown, clenching and unclenching his hands around his water bottle. He waits for a solid minute. Internally, Jimin commends him for coming so far with his spotty patience.

 

"Come on," Jeongguk sighs, finally. The corners of Jimin's lips twitch up. Jeongguk reaches over to push at Jimin's forehead with his finger, hard enough to make him sway in his spot. "What's got you being all space cadet?"

 

"Nothing ," Jimin twists his mouth, frustrated and unsatisfied. It really is nothing. It feels like there's acid sitting in the center of his chest, he doesn't know what to do with himself. This is a new situation entirely. It's never nothing. "Just a weird funk, I guess."

 

Jeongguk squints at him but hums in understanding, settling back against his chair. He reaches out to steal Jimin's cereal and Jimin wrinkles his nose but lets it go. It doesn't take more than a bite for Jeongguk to stick his tongue out in disgust and shove it back, anyway.

 

"Okay, weird funk," Jeongguk nods, still trying to get the feeling of mushy cereal out of his mouth, working his jaw in a way that makes Jimin laugh at the sight. "Forget about that. How was last night?"

 

Jimin flushes at the waggle of Jeongguk's brows, rolls his eyes. "It was nice," is all Jimin offers. Until Jeongguk stares at him, dead eyed. "It was fun?"

 

"Fun ," Jeongguk wiggles his brows again - Jimin's going to have to help him break that habit or he'll never get another girlfriend. Creep. "Or just. Fun."

 

"Nothing happened if that's what you're trying to get at," Jimin sniffs, kicking at Jeongguk's chair leg beneath the table.

 

"Nothing?"

 

"Nothing, nothing. We talked, made friends."

 

Jeongguk stares at him strangely for a few seconds. "Huh," he says, and Jimin echoes it back.

 

 

 

 

Jimin and Taehyung are quick to develop their friendship and little traditions that come along with it. Jimin moves from his spot in his lecture to a seat beside Taehyung. The girl he stole it from gives him the stink eye that he valiantly ignores. Taehyung snickers behind his hand the entire time. It's nice, they make jokes and bump shoulders and knees and Jimin feels lingering warmth in all the places they've touched. Every laugh he gives is echoed back, every smile returned, and more often than not, he doesn't have to initiate. Sacrificing his notes is the only downside, as they become sloppier, corners strewn with Taehyung's handwriting when he wants to tell him something but the lecture hall is too quiet for even as much as a sniffle, but Jimin finds he doesn't mind much.

 

He doesn't mind much of anything at all with Taehyung.

 

After class, they trade off between heading to each other's apartments. Jeongguk gets used to the sight of the two of them on the couch, or their voices coming from Jimin's room, when he pulls himself out of bed in the mornings. Hoseok brings back an extra cup of coffee when he gets back from his own morning lecture.

 

Jimin finds out Taehyung rooms with Namjoon, another person they have in common and Namjoon starts mumbling at him to stop putting his feet on the coffee table even without looking. Jimin doesn't think it's fair - given that the coffee table was scavenged from a curbside and Namjoon puts his own feet up on it all the time.

 

It's comfortable and easy and Jimin thinks he and Taehyung just click .

 

Taehyung thinks so too. Or so he tells Jimin when they're lounging around in the quad, under the shade of a tree. They're cloud watching. Another tradition, Jimin thinks, feeling warm. This one is Taehyung's suggestion.

 

"I make a lot of friends, I guess," he tells Jimin, his head lolling to the side until Jimin can feel it brushing against his. They might be lying too close but Jimin's comfortable, his body feeling  of molasses. He doesn't want to move. "You're just... Special."

 

"Aww," Jimin coos at him, bringing a hand up to pat at his knee. "Are you gonna write me a love letter?"

 

"Shut up," Taehyung's laugh ruffles against Jimin's hair and Jimin turns his head slightly to meet his eyes. "I'm just saying . I'm glad we met and that we hit it off so quick, y'know?"

 

"Yeah," Jimin smiles, his eyes crinkling and toes buzzing, his fingers relax a bit, one hand stationary against Taehyung's knee. "Me too."

 

Taehyung coughs and looks away, wiggling in his spot a little. Jimin snatches his hand away too fast, hopes it wasn't noticeable. "Don't get sappy on me now."

 

Jimin just laughs, body jerking and legs kicking up, pushing Taehyung away with enough force to jostle him. He settles a little further but close enough that Jimin can still feel his warmth. He misses it, the lack of distance, but at least he can breathe a little.

 

"Look," he says, pointing up at two blobs in the sky connected by a thin tuft of cloud. Taehyung follows the line of his hand, Jimin sees him grin before he can even finish his thought. "It's us."

 

 

 

 

Hoseok grins at him, barely holding back laughter. "So basically, you're upset that you haven't fallen madly in love? What kind of romcom heroine are you?"

 

"Don't be a dick, hyung," Jimin frowns, throwing his empty water bottle at his head. The throw is terrible, misses Hoseok by a mile, and he points and laughs until Jimin's frown becomes deeper.

 

"Oh c'mon, I'm just messing around," Hoseok, says, coming to lie across Jimin's lap, reaching up to squish at his face. His legs kick out over Jeongguk in the process, jabbing him in the gut and Jimin's just happy he doesn't have to suffer alone. A smile coming over his face when Jeongguk wheezes a little.

 

"I'm moving out," Jeongguk huffs, shoving them both away from him, "I don't need your dramatics."

 

"You're the one that just said you're moving out and we're dramatic?" Hoseok asks, brows raised, pushing Jeongguk off the couch to take his spot against the arm. Jeongguk pouts, shuffling to sit in front of them, back against the coffee table, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

"It's okay, hyung," Jimin waves his hand at Hoseok, "This is only the second time this week. Clearly we've made a shit ton of progress, usually he's crying while pretending to pack a bag by now."

 

"I do not do that," Jeongguk raises his voice, leaning forward to pinch at Jimin and yank at his leg hair, "Besides we're talking about you and your ineptitude right now."

 

"Hey!" Jimin yelps, glaring, as Hoseok giggles in delight. "It’s not ineptitude ."

 

"You're failing to woo your new friend," Hoseok points out, "I think it is."

 

"That's not it," Jimin whines, falling back against the couch cushions. "I mean, yeah he hasn't really...made a move, I guess. But I haven't either, it's not like that. I think."

 

"Then why are you so upset?" Jeongguk asks, picking at his nails.

 

"It just feels different. With anyone else, I would have gotten a tattoo by now," Jimin sighs, messing with the socks on his feet. "Even if it's...just as friends, or whatever."

 

"So you don't wanna be friends," Jeongguk nods. "Knew it."

 

"It is weird, though," Hoseok says. "Maybe you're broken. Too many past loves."

 

Jimin's mouth droops down and Hoseok sobers a little, reaching over to ruffle Jimin's hair. Jeongguk bites his lip, patting Jimin's knee before wrapping his arms around his legs. "I thought it before too," Jeongguk says, shrugging when Jimin looks at him, "After you guys first met. That it was weird that you weren't shouting your love from the rooftops already."

 

"I thought I would be!" Jimin sits up again, "I checked everywhere when I got home that night."

 

"I dunno what to tell you hyung," Jeongguk cocks his head at him. "Maybe you're finally changing your ways."

 

Hoseok scoots closer until he can sling his arm around Jimin's shoulder, bringing him in against his side. "Maybe your heart's just learned its lesson after all that heartbreak and wants to take its time now. Or maybe your view of love is changing. It's not necessarily a bad thing, Jiminie."

 

"Just enjoy what you've got for now?"

 

"Yeah," Jimin sighs, burrowing against Hoseok's side. He prods Jeongguk to get him a bottle of water and lays there, letting Hoseok run his fingers through his hair until he relaxes and feels his body droop. There's still a strange feeling sitting on his chest though, a sensation of being a fish out of water. Not feeling like he belongs in his own body. He doesn't know how to deal with this.

 

 

 

 

It takes a long time for Jimin to realize Taehyung has never paid unnecessary attention to his tattoos, not until Taehyung finally brings attention to them. His eyes have never lingered on Jimin's arms or the backs of his hands, his ankles, anywhere that ink is visible. Even Jeongguk was guilty of that when they first met, though in his defense Jimin was a rare specimen at thirteen.

 

He's still a rare specimen at twenty but to him , Taehyung is even more so and he doesn't know how to take it.

 

Taehyung's fingers are light against Jimin's wrist. He traces his nail over the pair of black and white antlers that sit there. A smile breaks out on his face when he catches sight of the goosebumps appearing along Jimin's arms and Jimin flushes, high on his cheeks, up to his ears. His blood boiling pleasantly beneath the surface. He appreciates the light touch, even if it's embarrassing. At least Taehyung won't feel the way Jimin's heart is ricocheting against his ribs.

 

"Who was this from?" Taehyung asks, his fingers stopping their movements, tapping against the tiny tattoo before retracting. A breeze tickles at Jimin's limbs, the grass moving against his legs and he pretends that's why he shivers, curling up on himself.

 

"A girl in..." he trails off, thinking for a second, "Second year of high school."

 

"Do you remember her well?"

 

He hesitates, fidgets, "Well enough, I guess? I remember what she looked like and how pretty I thought her smile was. She was really clumsy and always kept Lion King bandaids on her. It was endearing."

 

Taehyung hums, watching him with a gaze he can't yet place. Jimin wants to think it's because they still don't know each other well enough but he knows that would be a lie. He knows possibly too much about Taehyung, has spent too much time during their short friendship watching every expression that pases over his face carefully. Jimin reads him fairly well, if for no other reason than practice. If for no other reason than that he's spent hours thinking about the tiny shifts and changes that come across Taehyung's face when the sunlight dapples over his skin through the leaves of the tree they always sit under, golden and glowing.

 

Jimin swallows thickly, worries at his lip. Wonders what this face he doesn't know could possibly mean.

 

Taehyung looks away to pick at the grass beneath him. He plucks a blade, tearing it into strips. Jimin watches his fingers, feeling hypnotized, out of body.

 

"How do you fall in love so quickly?" Taehyung asks, taking him by surprise. He blinks, slow to catch on, eyes still fixed on Taehyung's hands before they snap up to meet his, wide and unaware.

 

"What?"

 

Taehyung gestures at Jimin's arms, hand shooting out to grasp at Jimin's wrist when he goes to cover them. "No, it's not," Taehyung shrugs helplessly, tugging Jimin's hand back down, "It's not a bad thing. But you have a lot? And I just, was wondering... How you fall in love so much, so quickly?"

 

"I don't know," Jimin says, honest, voice open and confused. "I just do. Sometimes, I just see someone and... Fall, I guess."

 

"That's not possible though," Taehyung frowns. Jimin leans forward to press it away, earning a smile for his efforts. Taehyung rubs the spot after and Jimin wonders if he feels that same burn, that same itch, when they touch. "Love at first sight isn't really a real thing."

 

"Yes it is." Taehyung gives him a dubious look and Jimin sighs at him, crossing his arms over his chest. "You know, I never pegged you as a disbeliever."

 

Taehyung snorts and rolls his eyes, "I'm not. But this much is a little farfetched for me."

 

"Well if love at first sight isn't real," Jimin holds up a hand when Taehyung opens his mouth, "And I'm not saying that's the case! I'm just saying, if. Then how come I have all these tattoos, hm?"

 

"That's why I'm asking you," Taehyung pokes at him. This time Jimin frowns and Taehyung's the one to reach over, smooth it away, fingers lingering for just a second longer than necessary. A second long enough to have Jimin's shoulders straightening and his throat feeling warm.

 

"I just," Jimin, rubs at his nose, shifting and fidgeting, " Feel like I'm in love."

 

"What does love feel like to you?"

 

"What's with the third degree?"

 

"I'm just interested!" Taehyung pouts at him, "If it makes you uncomfortable we can talk about something else, though. I know I can get pushy so if I cross a line..."

 

Jimin's shaking his head before Taehyung can finish, shuffling over until they're sitting side by side, shoulder to shoulder. "No, it's fine," Jimin says, "But people usually tell me I'm wrong so I can get a little, uh, defensive."

 

"Sorry," Taehyung grins sheepishly. Jimin quirks a half smile his way, waving his words away and bumping against his side until they've built up a rhythm, swaying together.

 

"I don't know what it is exactly," Jimin says after a while, huffing a short laugh, "I don't know much about love at all, it seems. Ironic, huh?" Taehyung bites his lip on a laugh when Jimin glances at him. "My heart starts beating fast," he tells him, "It gets harder to breathe. Like someone's squeezing me from all sides. My imagination starts running wild and I'm halfway through the relationship in my head before the end of the first meeting sometimes, thinking about all the possibilities. Of how good we could be." A part of him feels guilty, like he's speaking about Taehyung. But he's been modest in this situation, has kept himself in check. Hasn't let himself be ridiculously head over heels - yet.


He's still holding himself back. He doesn't want to ruin it. Doesn't want to chase Taehyung away, doesn't want to disappoint himself. Doesn't want this to be another failed relationship that ends before it began leaving him unable to meet Taehyung's eyes for weeks.

 

"See, I don't know if that's love," Taehyung says. When Jimin sighs, he rests a hand on his arm, fingers fluttering, rushes to finish, "I'm not saying you're wrong! Granted, I haven't even been in love that much. Nowhere near as much as you have. But it's been... More than that?"

 

"So what's it like when you've been in love?" Jimin looks at him, studies Taehyung's profile as he looks down at where there hands have come to rest against each other. Taehyung presses his lips into a thin line, thinking back, his features softening.

 

"Like I'd be willing to fight a war for the person I'm in love with."

 

Jimin doesn't know how to respond, silence settles over them. They watch the people across the quad messing around with a soccer ball, hooting and hollering among themselves. Like he'd be willing to fight a war , those words ring over and over in Jimin's head, twisting up his mind.

 

"That's how you feel about Jeongguk and Sungjae and Sanghyuk and Yoongi and Shiah and everyone , right?" Taehyung says, turning a smile on him, counting the names off on his fingers before wiggling them into Jimin's side. Jimin laughs, smacking at Taehyung's wrists, shuffling away.

 

"Yeah."

 

"Yeah."

 

That night, Jimin thinks about whether he'd be willing to fight a war for Kim Taehyung. He lies in bed and stares at the ceiling, the fan spinning in slow circles. It rustles the papers on his desk and they provide the background music to his slow epiphany of yes. Yes, he would.

 

He knows it immediately but thinks it through over and over and over. Always coming up with the same answer. He tries again, after that. To find a new tattoo scrawled on his skin, one that can validate why his heart thumps so hard at the thought of a square grin and shining eyes, tan skin and long fingers. Why he's so quick to think that he could do just about anything for Taehyung.

 

There's nothing there, again. Jimin thinks everyone's right, for once, when he sits on the floor of his bedroom breathing hard and staring into his mirror. Maybe love at first sight isn't all that it's cracked up to be, maybe it's the slow, blossoming love that really matters. Maybe now, after all these years, he's finally learned that - his body and heart reaching the answer before his mind has, refusing to let him mar his skin with something less meaningful once more.

 

Even if he thinks whatever this is that he has with Taehyung is far more meaningful than most of the things he has in his life at the moment.

 

Jimin takes a deep breath, holds it in until his lungs feel like bursting before he sighs, expelling the thoughts that burn at the back of his eyes away. He crawls back into bed, rubs at his face. Decides to give up. Decides maybe this isn't something he's meant to figure out.

 

 

 

 

♡ ♡ ♡

 

 

 

 

It's a day like any other. Taehyung wakes up sprawled in an unnatural position, unsure how he got like this, shocked that he doesn't have a crick in his neck. He reaches for his phone, ready to shoot off a text to Jimin, before he remembers himself. Remembers where he is.

 

He pushes up onto his elbows, pushing away from the back of his couch to look over at the body stretched out across the floor beneath him. Jimin's snoring softly, half on his side and half on his stomach, holding his pillow tight to his chest rather than laying on it. Taehyung's lips slowly lift into a smile and he just waits for a moment, pauses and watches Jimin take steady breaths, illuminated by the cold glow of early morning and the Netflix screen still pulled up on the television.

 

The blaring of Namjoon's alarm from the other room snaps him out of it, makes him shake his head free of the soft thoughts that are invading. Jimin's eyes flutter open, his breathing stutters, roughens. Taehyung reaches out with his foot to poke at his upper arm, jostling him until Jimin's groaning and rolling onto his back, grasping his ankle tight and holding it away.

 

"Ah, ah, ah!" Taehyung groans, pulling away when Jimin pushes too far, "I don't bend that way asshole."

 

"Gotta start doing stretches," Jimin hums, reaching up to pat at his leg blindly, landing high enough on his thigh that a squeak threatens to escape Taehyung's throat. He bars it, clears his throat, sits up with a groan. Back cracking, yawning long.

 

Jimin's eyes keep falling shut and Taehyung leans over to poke at his cheek, grinning when Jimin smiles into it, a dimple appearing beneath his finger. "Cute."

 

"Shut up." Jimin rubs at his stomach, squinting his eyes open, leaning up on a hand. "Sleeping on the ground wasn't a good idea." He flops his head down on the couch, forehead pressed near Taehyung's hip.

 

Taehyung runs his hand through Jimin's hair, marvels at how nice and floppy it is in the mornings. This is the first time Jimin's slept over. "Want a massage?"

 

Jimin looks up at him with an indiscernible look in his eye. Taehyung's hand drifts down to his ear and yanks at it until he responds. "Nah. Want breakfast."

 

"I could cook?" Taehyung offers, pulling back. Moving away. He kind of wishes they could lie there for a while longer but he can already hear Namjoon stumbling around his room, cursing as he crashes into something. They wouldn't have managed to sleep through him stampeding out. "Or we could go with cereal."

 

Jimin's sat up by now, as Taehyung clambers over the arm of the couch to stand and make his way to the kitchen. He's stretching, waking up his limbs by reaching for his toes, and the ultimate lazy man side of Taehyung feels slightly disgusted. The rest of him is in awe. Jimin turns to appraise him, looking suspicious.

 

"I don't think I trust your cooking ability."

 

"Excuse you!" Taehyung is affronted, he shoves the cereal back into the cupboard he had pulled it out from. "I can cook just fine! And even better than just fine when I have a recipe."

 

Jimin opens his mouth, probably to poke at Taehyung's honor again, but he gets cut off when Namjoon rushes out of his room. "Morning Tae, morning Jimin," he calls out, without looking, trying to fix his work uniform as he shoves his feet into his shoes.

 

They call out their goodbyes as he runs out and Taehyung wonders if it should unsettle him that in these few months, they've become so inseparable that people just expect them to be together. He turns to look at Jimin and finds him on the couch, his chin propped up against the back of it, smiling softly at him. Something in Taehyung flips and tumbles, feels frozen and boiling all at once. It doesn't unsettle him at all, he thinks, not in a bad way. It makes him happy.

 

"So about that breakfast?"

 

"I'm gonna cook and you're gonna like it, Park Jimin."

 

 

 

 

The only thing that can be heard is the flipping of paper and the scribble of pencils, maybe a few hushed whispers in the distance but nothing loud enough or different enough to break the stifling monotony that's fallen over the library. Taehyung whimpers quietly to himself, rubbing his forehead against the desk he's at, textbooks strewn around him. Finals are fast approaching and he's fairly certain he's dying. Is already dead. Six feet under and buried.

 

"Quit it," Sungjae says, yanking at his hair, "You don't know what people do on these desks."

 

Taehyung props his chin up against it and looks at Sungjae with a raised brow. He turns to look at the large windows beside them, turns back, face deadpan. "No one's doing anything nasty here, Sungjae."

 

"You never know!" he pouts and Taehyung wants to take a picture to put on his snapchat story so he can laugh at how he looks all day, but his arm is refusing to work anymore. He's taken too many notes. It needs to go on vacation now.

 

"Okay, I didn't need to know about your weird kinks," Taehyung yawns, sitting up and stretching. A girl from the table in front of theirs glares at him and he smiles, embarrassed, lowering his voice. "Can we take a break? I can't study anymore."

 

"Yes," Sungjae is far too quick to agree, already shoving his books back into his bag but Taehyung isn't going to complain. He throws everything into his bag, is sure he'll regret crumpling papers later, but doesn't care enough at the moment to do anything but sling it over his shoulder and follow Sungjae out of the building. "Wanna get smoothies?"

 

"Too cold," Taehyung whines, shivering at the winter air. "Coffee."

 

"You don't even like coffee," Sungjae says, scurrying along, his steps short and quick. He said it helped keep him warm, Taehyung thought he was a dumbass.

 

"I like hot chocolate," Taehyung shrugs, hurrying along toward the warm, yellow glow of the campus cafe."

 

Wanna call Jimin?" Sungjae asks, rubbing at his arms and squirreling into Taehyung's side. Taehyung shoves him away and is met with another pout. He shoves harder.

 

"You're not cute when you do that," Taehyung says, continuing to shove until Sungjae backs off, leaving him behind to bound the last few steps toward the overcrowded building, everyone holing up and taking advantage of the pleasant warmth and the aroma of Christmas. "And no, don't call Jimin!"

 

Sungjae turns to give him a strange look, holding the door open and all but yanking Taehyung inside when he's within arms reach. "You usually want Jimin around all the time . I'm surprised you don't take shits together."

 

Taehyung flushes, yanks at his collar, his lips turning down. "Okay, you're exaggerating." Sungjae scoffs, crosses his arms over his chest. "And it's just because he's got his first final earlier than us. He needs to study."

 

"How disgustingly cute, when's the wedding."

 

"It's not like that."

 

"Sure, it isn't."

 

"It's not ," Taehyung huffs, shuffling into line, careful not to crowd the person in front of him, "Can't I have friends other than you and Sanghyuk."

 

"Of course you can," Sungjae pats him on the back, "But you forget that I know you both really well. You're doing a piss poor job at being friends but a great one at being boyfriends."

 

"You're just jealous that I like him more than you."

 

Sungjae scoffs again, punches Taehyung's arm. "No one likes anyone more than me. I'm the best."

 

 

 

 

Taehyung slumps out of the lecture hall, scrubbing at his face and determined to put this final out of his head completely. He still has one more to go tonight before he's free, he can't afford time to be miserable or brain dead. But maybe enough for a small cat nap.

 

The feeling of rubbing his eyes gets addicting quick, the pressure he's been feeling for hours releasing just a little bit and he keeps at it as he walks. Crashing doesn't cross his mind, for some reason - he blames sleep deprivation later - until he hip checks something and his feet trip over themselves.

 

"Fuck!" he yelps, pushing his arms out in front of him, only to get yanked back by an arm around his waist.

 

"You know," Jimin's familiar voice comes to him and Taehyung throws his head back for a beautiful view up Jimin's nostrils, "I was going to just let you keep walking. I thought you were gonna go straight in to the trashcan, not that it was gonna take you down."

 

Taehyung pouts, rights himself, leans heavily on Jimin's shoulder. "Don't be mean."

 

Jimin snorts, "I'm not being mean, you're being a doofus."

 

"You're just jealous that I'm gonna finish finals today and you're not," Taehyung says, sticking his tongue out at him. They're too close for it to work well, Taehyung still slumped into Jimin's space, their faces close. Jimin jerks his head back before Taehyung accidentally licks him, scrunching his nose and frowning.

 

"Quit it, nasty ass," Jimin pushes him away, but his hand stays on his back, keeps him close. Taehyung feels warm and flushed, the spot on his back tingling where he feels Jimin's palm. "I'm not jealous. Finishing later is better than having a million finals in a day."

 

"Two ," Taehyung moans, but he's shuffling back, dropping his head onto Jimin's shoulder. "Why are professors evil? Don't they realize we have other exams? I wanna die."

 

"Stop being melodramatic," Jimin laughs, his breath puffing against the side of Taehyung's face. It's minty, with a hint of coffee, and Taehyung resists the urge to burrow closer .

 

"What are you doing here anyway?" Taehyung pulls back, blinking at Jimin. "You don't have any morning exams today."

 

Jimin smiles, proud and wide and blinding. The same kind of smile that had originally prompted Taehyung to go talk to him. The kind of smile that would make anyone stop in their tracks for a moment and just stare.

 

"Brought you coffee," Jimin said, placing the cup he's been nursing into Taehyung's palm. "Figured you'd be trying to justify a nap by now and you really don't have the time."

 

A ball sits in Taehyung's throat, the backs of his eyes stinging. It's the sleep deprivation, he thinks, but Jimin going out of his way like this makes him want to hold him for the rest of the week and ignore any and all responsibilities. His tongue feels too thick for his mouth, voice too heavy to force out so he takes a long sip, wincing at the burn.

 

"I really don't have time," he agrees, after. Meeting Jimin's eyes with a smile. They're tired but fond and make Taehyung feel soft in every way. "You're the best, Jiminie."

 

"You can say that again."

 

"You're the best."

 

"And again."

 

"Okay," Taehyung flicks at Jimin's forehead, tone annoyed but grin blinding, "It's just coffee."

 

"Mhm," Jimin pulls Taehyung back with a hand on his waist, beginning to walk toward the exit, "But I'm also gonna help your ass study instead of sleeping in so. Say it again."

 

"You're the best."

 

 

 

 

It's his birthday, almost the end of the year, and Taehyung feels full and warm and happy. He licks the last of the tiny cake's icing from his fingers, kissing his parents goodnight before he stumbles to his room - a smile fixed on his face and eyes fixed on his phone.

 

You're the best , he texts Jimin.

 

It doesn't even take an entire minute for Jimin to text his back. You got my cake? His smile widens, cheeks hurting.

 

Wanna get on skype?? he texts back before chucking his phone. He changes into his pajamas in record time, settling down in his bed with his laptop. He knows Jimin won't say no.

 

And just as he expected, only a few moments after he signs onto skype, he gets a call from Jimin. The little window connects, Jimin's face coming across his screen in laggy, choppy frames before his wifi stops being shitty and he can see him properly.

 

There's a flush to his cheeks, like he just got inside. His hair is a ruffled mess and Taehyung laughs at it, waving hello and discreetly taking a screenshot of the smile that beams at him.

 

"You look like a ruffled chicken," Taehyung says, by way of greeting.

 

"Happy birthday, dick," Jimin laughs in response, ruffling his hair further in an attempt to fix it. Taehyung wishes he were there to fix it for him. "Did you have a good day?"

 

"It was nice," Taehyung lies back, wrapping himself up in his blankets. He sees Jimin do the same. It's almost like they're lying face to face, the way they'll sometimes wake up after accidental sleepovers back at school. "My entire family was over. I had three cakes including the one you sent over."

 

"I'm glad," Jimin yawns, "I just lazed around all day and called the cake people like twenty times."

 

"You didn't have to do that for me, Jiminie."

 

"I know," Jimin smiles, rolling onto his back, arm folded behind his head. "But I wanted to! I didn't give you a proper present or anything like that, it's not much at all."

 

"Yes it is," Taehyung says. Because it's a lot - to him. It means a lot. Jimin does a lot for him. "I didn't even do anything for your birthday."

 

"You didn't know me on my birthday, Taetae," Jimin scoffs, rolling his eyes. Taehyung feels something bubble up under his sternum at the nickname.

 

"But still."

 

"That makes no sense," Jimin smiles again, rolls over onto his stomach, pulling a pillow under him. "Tell me about presents. What'd your parents get you?"

 

They talk for what feels like mere minutes - until Taehyung sees Jimin's eyes drooping, his arms tightening around his pillow. Telltale signs that he's on the verge of sleep. The corner of his computer screen tells him it's past three in the morning. Much more time has passed than he’s anticipated. It's not even his birthday anymore.

 

"You should sleep," Taehyung says.

 

"What about you?"

 

"Not sleepy."

 

"I can stay up."

 

"You're half asleep as it is, Jimin," Taehyung points out, propping himself up on an elbow and resting his chin in his hand.

 

"Keep me awake then," Jimin says, yawning and rubbing at his eyes. He props himself up as well, mimicking Taehyung's position.

 

"Tell me about something."

 

"You know practically everything about me," Jimin's eyes flicker down, a strange smile on his face. Taehyung wonders if his heartbeat is speeding up the same way his is. If this feels like more to Jimin as well, if those words made his ears flush. "Ask me what you wanna know."

 

Taehyung hums, thinks for a while. Uses coming up with a question as an excuse to watch the way Jimin's eyes flicker across his screen, the way his lashes flutter, the part of his lips. "You pick."

 

Jimin bites his lip, waits a moment, then, "How'd your parents fall in love?"

 

The smile on Taehyung's face softens. Jimin is always the romantic. "Slowly," he says, "My dad spent months wooing my mom into giving him a second glance. He said he didn't even like her at first but I think maybe he was lying."

 

A grin spreads across Jimin's face, he lets out a small giggle. Taehyung beams.

 

"Tell me about yours," he demands.

 

"You're gonna laugh," Jimin rolls his eyes.

 

"So?"

 

"They fell in love at first sight," Jimin cocks his head at the camera, quirking a half smile at him.

 

"That," Taehyung pauses, blinks his eyes wide, laughing incredulously. "That explains a lot about you."

 

Jimin rubs at his nose, brushes his fingers through his hair and ducks his head. "Don't go unraveling all my secrets."

 

"Sorry to break it to you," Taehyung grins, pulling his bottom lip between his teeth, "I'm intent on knowing you inside out."

 

He doesn't imagine the blush that spreads across Jimin's cheeks, or the brightness of his smile, the way sleep flees from him and he perks up. Taehyung doesn't imagine any of it - but he does pack it away in his memories, knowing he'll want to remember that look for a long time.

 

They don't end up sleeping much that night. Taehyung remembers the way Jimin looked with his covers brought up to his chin and the early morning sun sifting through his hair. Hours later, he woke up to Jimin blinking blearily at him. It was almost as if they actually spent the night together. The thought makes Taehyung's lungs feel like they're going to explode.

 

He's not sure how he manages to stay up that night at all, only managing to pull through for new years because he wants to set off fireworks. And he wants to be the first to wish Jimin. He gets beat to the punch, a text coming to him before he can send one out, at twelve on the dot.

 

Happy new years! it reads, I'm glad you're in my life Kim Taetae.

 

 

 

 

The new semester comes too quickly for the part of Taehyung that doesn't want to go back to studying most of his week away but nowhere near quickly enough for the part of him that can't wait to see Jimin again. They don't have classes together again, but they still see each other every day. Somehow, they manage to make time for each other, to prioritize their 'us' time.

 

Their traditions still stand - but it doesn't really make a particular difference. Just makes one of the seven days a week they spend in each other's presence a little different. Taehyung spends more time now with Jimin than he does with any of his other friends.

 

Hell, he sees Jimin more often than he sees Namjoon. Crusty eyes, sleepy voices, and all.

 

They're spread out over Jimin's bed, supposed to be studying, books and papers surrounding them on all sides. Instead they're tucked away against his headboard, lazing on his pillows and watching vines. Taehyung should stop, should get to studying, he has to focus. But every time he thinks to pull away, Jimin will giggle, will tuck his face into Taehyung's shoulder and slap his arm as he laughs and Taehyung won't be able to get the words out. Will barely be able to get his own laughs out around the amazement he feels.

 

"We aren't getting any work done," Jimin says, much later, returning to the room with the pizza they've ordered.

 

Taehyung shrugs, makes grabby hands for both the food and Jimin. "I didn't wanna study anyway."

 

"You never want to study."

 

Taehyung just grins his toothy grin before stuffing his face full of pizza. Jimin wasn't wrong, he never wants to study. He's much more content to just lay there and watch tv all day and try to place exactly what makes Jimin smell so Jimin .

 

"You know," Jimin says, chewing slowly. Taehyung turns to look at him, finds him staring at him already with a distant look, eyes trailing down to Taehyung's arms, legs. "I'm surprised you don't have more tattoos."

 

Taehyung coughs, caught off guard, suddenly finding it much harder to swallow. "Why's that?" he clears his voice when he finds it coming out much higher than usual. Jimin's lips quirk up in a smile, eyes twinkle with mirth. The urge to sit on his stomach and see how high his voice can get is strong, hits Taehyung like a semi, and he has to remind himself not to wrestle Jimin to the ground right now. Not to get so unreasonably touchy and land himself in hot water, get himself boiling to have it go nowhere.

 

"You just seem like the type of guy everyone falls in love with," Jimin says, plain as day, and Taehyung stops. Stops eating, moving, breathing. He just sits and watches Jimin with wide eyes. A pretty pink color taints Jimin's face, spreading down to his neck. "What? It's true."

 

Taehyung shakes his head, physically snaps himself out of his stupor. "Are you saying you're in love with me?" he grins, his breath coming quicker, one leg bouncing where it hangs off the bed.

 

"Shut up."

 

"I mean if you are, I'm really flattered--"

 

"Don't make me kick you out, Kim Taehyung." Jimin refuses to meet his eyes, chomping on his pizza slice viciously. Taehyung thinks over his next few words carefully.

 

"Just because they fall in love with me doesn't mean I fall in love with them."

 

"True," Jimin shrugs, peeks at him from the corner of his eye, "But you can't tell me none of them ever tried to win you over."

 

"Maybe they did, maybe they didn't," Taehyung waves his hands around in a gesture of being unaware. Jimin pins him with a glare. "Okay so, yeah a few have. Of course they have. I just... I'm not too keen on giving my heart away too fast, I guess."

 

"Which is weird," Jimin nods, "Because you also totally seem like the type to love everyone."

 

"This just keeps seeming more and more like a confession," Taehyung leans forward to squint at Jimin's face, "You can be honest with me Jiminie." He's grateful that his voice comes out steady and strong. Not at all tight, the way his throat feels.

 

"Don't get your hopes up, asshole," Jimin shoves his face away, getting his greasy fingers all over his cheeks.

 

Taehyung yelps, flailing out and smacking Jimin in the side. "You're the asshole, asshole."

 

His heart thuds in his chest but he ignores it. Ignores it the way Jimin ignored his jokes. That's what they are, he reminds himself, jokes. It wouldn't do to fall for a guy like Jimin, especially not when they have a friendship that means so much. It wouldn't do to even think about falling for him. Taehyung swallows thickly, the pizza becoming harder to eat. Jimin settles beside him, leaning back once more, pulling up a video on his phone and Taehyung moves so they're back to being pressed against one another.

 

This is good. What they have right now, it's good.

 

 

 

 

It's too brisk out, spring hasn't quite set in yet, but they're still sitting out under their tree. Taehyung has his eyes closed as he reclines against the trunk, holding his body tight as the cold bites at his ankles. He should have worn warmer pants.

 

Jimin's hand lands on his thigh, rubs against his skin, the friction sending sparks along his leg until he starts loosening up. Tension leaking out of him.

 

"Hey Jiminie," Taehyung says, voice scratchy. He only woke up a little while ago to meet Jimin when his class ended. It's been a quiet morning, mostly them just enjoying each other's company. It's comfortable, easy. Nothing like how he can be with anyone else. "Can I ask you something?"

 

"'Course," Jimin yawns, leans his weight against Taehyung's side. "Anything."

 

"When did you get your first tattoo?" It's something Taehyung has wondered about for a long time. Almost since the first meeting. He never brought it up because it seemed personal, all of Jimin's tattoos seemed personal, even if they were in the past. They were his memories, Taehyung didn't want to intrude. But he was curious, and he thinks they've made it to a place where it's okay for him to ask now.

 

"I was seven," Jimin laughs. He moves to roll up the leg of his sweatpants, pointing at a tiny fish tattooed on his knee. "I wanted to marry the girl."

 

Taehyung grins, thinking about a young, baby-faced Jimin, reaching out to trace over the small mark. Jimin shivers and Taehyung smooths his palm over his knee in apology, yanking at his sweatpants to get him to cover up again. "What happened?"

 

"She thought I was a loser."

 

Taehyung nods sagely, "Makes sense."

 

Jimin flicks him, hard, and Taehyung whines, rubbing the spot with his brows furrowed in exaggerated pain. "Who's the loser now?" Jimin snorts, leaning down to blow at the skin of Taehyung's arm where he flicked, fingers rubbing at the spot. "What about you?"

 

"Mm," Taehyung stretches out, thinking over the question. He knew it would be coming, he knows what the response will most likely be, even. But his gut still twists with the familiar acid of anxiety. "I was in high school. Some young buck came around and swept me off my feet. I think I just mostly liked him because he was handsome and into Lord of the Rings. Made me realize I was kinda gay."

 

It's the first time he's really talked about being into men. Jimin is quiet for a moment. Taehyung can feel his eyes against the side of his face. He makes a sound of understanding before shifting his gaze away and Taehyung feels like he can breathe again. Because he's not running, making an excuse and ditching his ass. He's just taking it in stride.

 

"Something similar happened to me," Jimin says. Taehyung's neck cracks with how quickly he turns to look at him. "Didn't realize I was like, partly gay until halfway through high school when I fell for a classmate. He wasn't into it, or into Lord of the Rings, but y'know. Eye opening."

 

Taehyung had his suspicions before - Jimin never seemed rigid in any of the things he did. But confirmation was another thing entirely. "You like guys?" he can't help but blurt out, eyes wide.

 

"I thought you knew?" Jimin's own brows raise.

 

Taehyung shrugs helplessly. "I don't like to make assumptions."

 

The smile Jimin gives him is warm, beatific. "I'm an equal opportunity lover," he says, voice serious even with the smile still in place, eyebrows waggling.

 

Taehyung snorts, looks down at his lap and tries to stop the chuckles bursting out of him but is helpless to do so. His shoulders shake and soon Jimin's laughter joins in with his, his body throwing itself against Taehyung's.

 

Jimin's jokes are always corny but Taehyung always laughs. Jimin says, later, that it's one of his favorite things about Taehyung and receives a sharp slap on the ass in response.

 

"I have a lot more to offer than laughing at your shitty jokes, Park Jimin!"

 

 

 

 

"Oh look," Jimin says, pointing up at the sky. Taehyung follows the line of his arm to stare up at the tuft of white in the sky. "It's you."

 

Taehyung cocks his head, rolls it to the side to squint at it. Jimin's stomach caves under his head and he receives a sharp slap to his shoulder. "Looks like a bear."

 

"Mhm," he feels more than hears Jimin say, "A teddy bear." A hand comes up to pinch at Taehyung's nose and he bats it away, rubbing his head more insistently against Jimin's stomach until he jerks.

 

"At least I'm not an ant," he huffs. Jimin mutters something under his breath, scoffing. It sounds a lot like jerkface. Taehyung giggles, satisfied.

 

"Are you going to that party?" Taehyung asks, a moment later. Breathing deep, trying to control his heart a little. Everything feels tense, wound tight.

 

"Sanghyuk's friend's?" Jimin's hand plays at the curve of his shoulder, kneading every now and then but mostly just brushing lightly against his skin.

 

"Yeah."

 

"Yeah, of course."

 

Taehyung breathes out sharp through his nose, turning his head to the side to try and catch a look at Jimin's face. "I like how you say of course as if you don't turn into a total hermit every now and then," Taehyung reaches up, poking at the underside of Jimin's jaw. "Even when we first met, remember? You said you almost didn't come out."

 

" Okay , I don't know how your memory suddenly became so great," Jimin laughs, "Sometimes I just like to have time to myself. Sue me."

 

"That's totally untrue," Taehyung shakes his head, goes back to staring up at the sky. It's a mostly clear day, they don't have many clouds to watch for once. He almost likes it better like this, when it's so crystal clear blue. Jimin always hums quiet songs on these days and Taehyung manages to get a nap or two, head pillowed against him.

 

"How is it not true?" Jimin's fingers tighten around his shoulder for a second, prodding at him.

 

"You're basically spending all your time with me," Taehyung says, leg suddenly jittery, fingers newly interesting, "Even when you don't wanna go out."

 

"Well," Jimin's breath stutters. Taehyung can hear it. "Sometimes I just like to have time with you. You can sue me for that too."

 

 

 

 

"Hyung," Taehyung whines, flopping across Namjoon's bed. "Help me."

 

"With what?" Namjoon asks, poking and prodding at his shoulder until he rolls over and makes some room for him to sit.

 

"I don't know what to wear."

 

Namjoon stares at him, blank-faced, before he sighs and turns away. "It's a house party, Taehyung," he says, going back to whatever had originally caught his attention on his phone. "Not a fashion show. Wear those cutout shirts you always wear or something. Flappy pants are your thing, right? It doesn't matter that much."

 

Taehyung gapes at him for what feels like a solid five minutes until Namjoon looks at him again, a brow raised. "What?"

 

"Hyung," Taehyung sits up and pokes a finger into his chest. He really can't believe the words coming out of Namjoon's mouth at all. "It's just a house party but you literally spent all morning picking out your outfit and the last thirty minutes doing your hair! Hypocrite!"

 

Namjoon kicks Taehyung away from where he's waving his hands in his face, turning on his camera to make sure his hair hasn't been ruined. "That's different , I have a reputation to uphold."

 

"As what? Best dressed grandma?"

 

He gets a pillow straight to the face for that comment. "I'll have you know, people love how I dress. My instagram followers would fight you." Taehyung does a horrible job at hiding his laughter. Actually, he doesn't even try much - it bursts out of him. Namjoon doesn't look amused. "I'm definitely not helping your sorry ass now."

 

"Aw, hyung, c'mon," Taehyung sobers, rubbing his hands together in front of him and batting his eyes.

 

"No," Namjoon says, pushing him off the bed, "Besides, you only care because you want Jimin to think you're hot, anyway."

 

"What?" Taehyung squawks, letting himself be pushed to the ground in shock. "That's not true!"

 

"Right," Namjoon says, voice rife with sarcasm, "And my actual grandma dresses better than me."

 

 

 

 

The party is in full swing by the time Taehyung makes it, an arm slung over Seokjin's shoulders. It helps to ground him when he steps through the door to ground-shaking music shocking it's way through his body. A beer bottle is shoved into the center of his chest by way of greeting, a nameless guy yelling out a welcome. It's going to be utterly hopeless attempting to track Sanghyuk down, Taehyung figures. Especially when he loses Seokjin to the crowd by the time they get through to the living room.

 

He gravitates toward the kitchen, as one is wont to do at college parties. Familiar faces wave him down, his disgusting beer replaced by something fruitier and sweeter. He's leant up against the open counter, pretending to listen as Junghwa and Namjoo rant about what a pain it was to help set up for this shindig and pulling out his phone to shoot off a text to Jimin to ask where he is when he catches sight of the man in question.

 

It's tough trying to be discreet around the two girls as he watches Jimin. He’s taken over the center of the makeshift dance floor with Hoseok, mostly messing around but managing to be completely mesmerizing all the same. He moves with so much grace, such ease, that Taehyung forgets who he is. He might even forget normal, human functions because he goes to take a sip of his drink but misses his mouth. The sweet, red liquid spills out over his nice shirt. The one he spent an entire hour picking out. He kind of wants to cry. The girls coo over him and he twists a smile onto his face, looking up to find Jimin looking back at him.

 

He kind of wants to cry even more. A tiny seed of frustration bubbles up, the universe is working against him.

 

The thought of running away barely gets a chance to dip its toe into his mind before Jimin seemingly teleports to his side. He’s pressing a palm against his chest, plucking at the fabric of his shirt, and Taehyung's praying he doesn't feel the pound of his heart.

 

“Have you even been here five minutes?” Jimin grins at him, reaches forward to snag his cup and steal the last of his drink. Taehyung pinches at his waist for it, pinches harder when Jimin screws up his face in disgust.

 

“I've definitely been here for at least ten,” Taehyung retorts. He turns to Junghwa and Namjoo to back him up but they've mysteriously disappeared. His bubble with Jimin feels strangely private, even with pushy party goers surrounding them at every side.

 

“Mm, yeah you're probably right,” Jimin says, wiping at the corner of his mouth and giving Taehyung a sly look, “At least, I definitely saw you watching me for the majority of those ten minutes.”

 

Taehyung flushes, skin burning up. He coughs and reaches back over the counter for a beer bottle. One long swig later, he's sticking his tongue out at Jimin. “Wasn't watching you.”

 

“Sure,” Jimin steals his drink again, “and you're also not a lightweight.”

 

“Stop stealing my drinks,” Taehyung whines, shoves at Jimin’s shoulder.

 

Jimin snags his hand before he can drag it away. “Only if you come dance with me.”

 

“No,” Taehyung drags the word out along with his feet, resisting. He's not sure he can handle a dancing Jimin at all.

 

Yes . Come on. You love dancing,” Jimin tugs harder, walking backwards, pulling Taehyung along.

 

Taehyung thinks about resisting a little more. But liquid courage is flowing heavy in his veins, slowing down his mind but spurring on his limbs before he can rein them in. “Fine,” he says before his feet catch up with Jimin’s, his arm coming around his waist.

 

He swings them in a wide circle, one they stumble through. Taehyung’s stomach flips, he really can't handle his alcohol, but the tinkle of Jimin’s laughter ringing loud makes it worth it. He doesn't even mind the girls that gave him dirty looks for almost knocking into them, muttering about how he's an asshole.

 

Jimin doesn't seem to think he's an asshole.

 

No, Jimin's smiling at him like he thinks Taehyung is wonderful , linking their fingers and jumping around like a madman with him. Even when he could be having some kind of cool dance battle with Hoseok.

 

They bounce around like losers until Taehyung’s breathing hard and there's a sheen of sweat on his forehead. At least he was on beat and pulled off something catchy enough that others in the crowd joined in. Jimin pulls him aside afterward, seemingly just as worn out as he is, blowing his fringe out of his face. They sway together at the edge of the party. Hands still linked. Jimin's hand comes up to fist in the material of his shirt. The skin above his hip burns at the contact. Taehyung drops his forehead to his shoulder, breathing deep, coming back down.

 

“Smell good,” Taehyung says, voice pitched lower. He pulls away from nuzzling at Jimin's shoulder to take a sip of the fruity drink he somehow managed to get back in his hand. He's quick to drop his head back down into the spot again. Before Jimin can move away.

 

Jimin doesn't even make a move to, really. Instead he barks a laugh in Taehyung's face, leaning their heads together. “I smell like sweat and that drink you spilled.”

 

They've been pressed so close together so often throughout the night that the smell of alcohol has transferred onto Jimin's clothes. The reminder makes Taehyung heat up all over again.

 

“No,” he mumbles, slips his hand with the cup around Jimin's waist. They're hugging more than swaying now, jostled by people trying to walk past them. “Smell like you. S’good.”

 

Jimin rears back, stares at him for a long second. It's not unkind, the corners of his lips quirking up, but it makes Taehyung nervous. “Well I'm glad,” he says, reaches out to tap at Taehyung's cheek. “Wanna ditch this popsicle stand?”

 

Taehyung snorts, rolls his eyes. He lets go of Jimin's waist and nods, downing the rest of his drink when Jimin tightens the grip on his fingers to lead him out of the house.

 

The night air is cool, brisk. Makes Taehyung shiver and step closer to Jimin's side. Their hands swing between them as they set off down the street, back to campus.

 

“I can't believe you love these over-sugared drinks so much,” Jimin huffs, voice low and gentle.

 

“Don't hate,” Taehyung sniffs, “You seemed to like them a lot when you were stealing them . Stealer.”

 

“Taetae,” Jimin says, “We’re like, best friends. What's mine is yours, what's yours is mine.”

 

“I'm all for this,” Taehyung nods as they round the corner coming up on the intersection they have to cross. “Except you didn't share. So, stealer.”

 

Jimin grins at him, wide. The stoplight glares down at them and Taehyung thinks he looks beautiful in red. “Think of it like me saving you from yourself.” He tightens  his grip when the little man appears, telling them they can go, and runs them across the road. Pulling Taehyung along fast enough to make his breath catch. “I look out for your drunk ass.”

 

“That's your job,” Taehyung pants, stumbling against him, the apartment buildings rising up beyond Jimin's head. “You gotta take care of me. Best friend duties.”

 

“Mhm, you big baby,” Jimin teases. He pats down Taehyung's pockets, Taehyung swallows roughly. “Gimme your keys so I can take you home.”

 

 

 

 

“Home sweet home,” Taehyung flings his arms wide, kicking off his shoes and stumbling forward, only to trip on another pair and fall right onto Jimin's back. He didn't think he was this drunk but it might be his subconscious trying to help him along. Jimin gives a tiny oof under his weight but doesn't shove him off, just leans forward, works his own shoes off. Taehyung decides to cling. “Piggyback, please.”

 

He can practically feel the way Jimin smiles. His hands come up to hoist Taehyung's legs up, adjusting his weight on his back. “I knew it. You love being carried too much.”

 

“Psh,” Taehyung scoffs, right against the skin of Jimin's neck. He shivers under Taehyung's lips, it's satisfying and terrifying all at once. “You love carrying me around.”

 

They make their way to Taehyung's room in the dark but without any incident. A testament to how much time Jimin spends here. He throws Taehyung down onto the bed without much finesse, groaning and complaining about his broken back as he goes to rummage through his closet. Taehyung lies back, content to watch the shadow of Jimin's figure move around his room. Less content to let him undress him but mostly because the light touch Jimin leaves on his thigh when he returns makes his breath catch.

 

“Can you change or do you need me to dress you?” Jimin asks, hovering over him.

 

Taehyung flops his arms around. “‘M lazy.”

 

Jimin snorts but obligingly slides his palms up Taehyung's stomach, shoving his shirt up and over his head. There are horses thundering through Taehyung's stomach as he lets a loose shirt be tugged over his head, swift fingers pull his jeans off and replace them with soft flannel.

 

“You too,” Taehyung says, when Jimin's done.

 

“Want me to stay?” Jimin asks. He sounds surprised. Taehyung doesn't understand.

 

“Of course.”

 

Jimin pauses, still hovering over him, weight dipping the mattress down beside Taehyung's legs. “Gimme a sec, I'm stealing your clothes.”

 

“Stealer,” Taehyung mutters, smiling when Jimin breathes a laugh.

 

There's indistinct shuffling. Taehyung hears Jimin complaining about how his clothes don't fit anyone - even himself. There's a quiet yawn, it's cute. Taehyung hides his smile in his pillow, wills his eyes to stay open. Jimin returns to his side, leaning his knees against the bed as he pats Taehyung's side.

 

“There's barely any room,” Jimin says, settling down beside him. Taehyung rolls over so they're facing each other.

 

“We’ve fit before,” Taehyung slurs. Jimin nods, hums. He's quiet and that wakes Taehyung up a little, more than anything else has. It's not the typical silence.

 

Jimin brings a hand up, slow and hesitant, resting it on Taehyung's waist. He tugs slightly, pulling him closer. But just barely. It breaks whatever dam Taehyung's built up, his restraint failing. He scoots forward until Jimin's hand falls tighter around his waist, bringing his own hand to Jimin's hip. His other fists itself in the fabric against Jimin's chest. Their legs wind together. Taehyung sighs, happy.

 

“Your breath smells like alcohol,” Jimin whispers. Taehyung blinks into focus, realizing how close they are. Even with how dark it is, he can make out the way Jimin's tongue wets his lip. The way they part, the sharp intake of air. Taehyung can see and feel and sense it all. It's intoxicating.

 

“So does yours,” he whispers back.

 

Their noses brush. It feels like time comes to a standstill. Even his heart stops beating. Everywhere they touch tingles and sparks and for a moment - for a quick, aching moment, Taehyung thinks they're going to kiss. He thinks he should lean forward and press their lips together, to breathe in Jimin's beer breath and swallow it all for all he's worth.

 

But they don't. He doesn't. His heart starts beating again, fast but regretful when Jimin moves back the smallest centimeter.

 

“Goodnight, Taehyungie,” he whispers, lashes fluttering closed, tension leaving his body.

 

“Night,” Taehyung responds, willing his own to do the same. Willing himself to not dream of soft lips and rough hands that curl around his.

 

His entire body heats up, starting from their points of contact. It almost stings with the way it tingles, jumping across his nerves. He knows this sensation, it's rare but not new, he knows what it means. His world shifts, he swallows thickly. The heat gathers at the center of his back, he knows what he'll find there.

 

He's in love with Park Jimin.

 

 

 

 

Taehyung wakes up breathing the same air as Jimin, lips centimeters apart, noses brushing all over again. It's what rouses him. Tickles at him and doesn't let him enjoy being this close before he's rolling over and dipping over the edge of the bed to sneeze loudly.

 

He feels Jimin jerk behind him and groans, grabbing at a tissue to blow his nose.

 

“Gross,” he hears Jimin say, voice touch with sleep. “Good morning.”

 

“Morning,” Taehyung moans back, voice muffled. Jimin's hands comes up to rub soothing circles into his his back.

 

“How are you feeling?” He asks, his hand sneaking beneath Taehyung's shirt. Jimin scratches at his skin, soothing circles still at work until he reaches the center of his back. It's like Taehyung's memory clocks in, hitting him fast and hard and he scrambles to sit up, swallowing the queasiness back down. Jimin raises a brow at him.

 

“Fine,” Taehyung squeaks. “I'm good. Not even hungover.”

 

“I feel like that's a lie,” Jimin smiles, tapping his lips when he pouts at him. “Go take a shower, I'll be on breakfast duty today.”

 

Taehyung feels warmth bloom in his chest, getting out of bed and stretching tall. He can feel Jimin's eyes on him as he makes his way to the bathroom and wills himself not to look back. The sight of Jimin cocooned in his bed would be too much, he knows.

 

By the time he's managed to freshen up, the smell of eggs is drawing him to his small kitchen. Jimin in the middle of it, looking very much at home. He looks over his shoulder to shoot a grin at Taehyung.

 

“Feeling better?” He asks, bringing over a plate of food.

 

Taehyung hums a yes, munching on a piece of toast.

 

“Jiminie? Can I ask you something?” Taehyung ventures. Jimin looks up from where he's shoveling his own breakfast into his mouth, curiosity in his eyes. “Have you gotten a new tattoo recently?”

 

Jimin pauses, his motions coming to a complete standstill before they start up again. Slower, this time. He blinks at Taehyung before focusing back down on his food, clearing his throat.

 

“Not in a while,” Jimin says. Taehyung doesn't understand at first. “Actually not for a long while. It's been like, half a year maybe.”

 

Taehyung feels like there's cotton in his ears. The toast seems to be choking him. His entire world narrows down and then slowly begins to tear itself apart. He concentrates on trying to breathe properly.

 

“Nothing at all?” his voice sounds nonchalant, normal. It makes no sense when he feels so tight, muscles tense.

 

“Nope,” Jimin pops the ‘p,’ still looking down at his food. How can he not realize that Taehyung is falling apart right across from him? His measly heart breaking at this measly table. “Why?”

 

Taehyung bites his lip, forces a smile. Shoves cardboard like food in his mouth to avoid a real answer. He shrugs, says, “Just wondering.”

 

He wants to throw up.

 

When Jimin leaves he rushes back into his bathroom, wanting to see the proof. Taehyung yanks his shirt overhead with a grunt, throwing it to the ground. He bends and twists, using the camera on his phone to see his back clearly. There, at the center, is a dark brown wolf, staring back at him with a steely gaze. His breath comes hard, harsh, broken. Helpless. It confirms what he already knows.

 

 

 

 

♡ ♡ ♡

 

 

 

 

Jimin slumps home in a daze. Taehyung's question had thrown him off, left him feeling off-kilter. Like he's suddenly unsure of himself, like he doesn't know himself really.

 

He flops down on his bed, burying his face in his pillows. His breath comes hard and heavy as he replays the morning over and over.

 

“Hey hyung,” Jeongguk chirps, letting himself in and heading straight for his closet. The smile Jimin sends him in return feels forced, tight.

 

“Hey.”

 

Jeongguk glances at him through the mirror, situated in front of it as he tries on different beanies. “What's with you?”

 

“Just got back from Taehyung's,” Jimin tells him, propping himself up against the pillows.

 

Jeongguk pauses, turns around to face him slowly. His brows are having a meeting with his hairline. “Oh?”

 

Jimin frowns at him. “Nothing like that happened.”

 

Jeongguk frowns back.

 

“Okay for a bit it seemed like it could have but,” Jimin shrugs, scratching at his nape. It was strange, the entire situation. “He asked me about whether I had new tattoos. I'm pretty sure whatever was happening was a…fluke.”

 

“That doesn't sound right,” Jeongguk is still frowning at him, “what did you tell him?”

 

“That I haven't?”

 

Jeongguk's expression turns incredulous. It makes him squirm. “You haven't?”

 

“What? It's the truth,” Jimin defends. “And he seemed interested, so.”

 

“Jimin, you dumbass,” Jeongguk sighs, grabbing at a different beanie and making his way back out.

 

“That's Jimin hyung!” he calls after him and sits up, “what do you mean dumbass?”

 

“After all this time, you should know better!”

 

 

 

 

Taehyung is avoiding him, Jimin's sure of it.

 

It's been a week since he's gotten anything more than a quick snap, a dismissive text. A text with punctuation. After all this time, Jimin can tell when something’s wrong between them. And something is wrong.

 

When he brought it up with Yoongi, he just got a flat look in return. “You've been friends for less than a year,” he had said, “What do you mean after all this time?

 

Jimin didn't know how that's what the important bit of the conversation was. And still his problem remains. Taehyung is avoiding him.

 

He tried to wait for him outside of his class but Taehyung dodged him, stuck to someone's side and claiming they had work to discuss. He tried going to his apartment but Namjoon wouldn't let him in. Said that Taehyung was out and he was studying. Even though Taehyung's shoes were very clearly at the door.

 

Jimin doesn't know where they went wrong. He doesn't know what to do . Especially not when things had been going so well, when he was starting to feel something. A lot of something. It was overwhelming being with Taehyung but it was even more so to suddenly be without him. But there seemed to be no way to end this cold war, no one to go to for help.

 

In his desperation, he even tries Sanghyuk. He just gets called a dumbass again.

 

Jimin sighs in frustration as he watches Taehyung's snapchat story. He's having fun with people that aren't Jimin. Something sour sits at the back of his throat. He drops his head down and muffles a groan against his textbook, wishing he could turn back time.

 

 

 

 

A month passes by with little to no contact. The few conversations they would have ( if exchanging snaps about how hard classes were fucking them counted as conversations ) even began to whittle away. Jimin had to resort to Jeongguk to get any information about how Taehyung was doing because everyone else would suddenly develop an uncomfortable air around him and be next to impossible to get information out of.

 

Jimin feels...lonely. Wrong. Unable to get his bearings. Like a shell of himself. He barely remembers what life was like pre-Taehyung, though he makes a solid effort to return to it. He hangs out with all his friends more, throws himself into school and work. Dances more, takes up art again. Finds every distraction he can. Yet, he sees Taehyung everywhere.

 

He's even got some of his sweaters still lying around.

 

( One is hung up in his closet, the other became his sleep shirt. )

 

Jimin sighs heavily, looks through his text messages. The person he's hoping for hasn't replied at all to his harmless ' hey :) ' from days ago. His chest tightens, in the worst of ways, bones filling with a dull ache. It's been a routine of checking and rechecking his phone every hour ever since he sent the text. Anxiety sits in a tight coil somewhere between his chest and his stomach. A hand lands heavy on his shoulder and Jimin gives a start. Looking up, he finds Yoongi, hovering over the cafe table Jimin has taken over with notes and textbooks.

 

"Hey, kid," he says, gesturing at the seat beside Jimin in question.

 

"Not a kid," Jimin mumbles, shuffling papers aside and kicking the chair out for Yoongi to take.

 

Yoongi scoffs, settling down with a thud. He's got bags under his eyes and looks like he hasn't showered in years. The life of a senior. "I'll stop calling you kid when you stop pouting like one," he looks at Jimin blankly. Jimin sucks his lips in, pressing them into a thin line. "You look depressed over here, by yourself."

 

Jimin's shoulders droop even more.

 

"Still haven't made up with your shadow?"

 

He sinks down into his seat. This is not a conversation he wants. This is something he wants to forget .

 

"Stop trying to escape by sinking into the earth and try answering a question, maybe," Yoongi rolls his eyes at him. He pokes Jimin with his foot lightly, not the hard kick Jimin would get on most days. His long fingers come to tap at his elbow. "What's going on?" his voice seems a lot gentler suddenly, like Jimin's fragile.

 

He supposes he is. A little.

 

"I don't know ," Jimin bursts out. He hadn't meant to divulge but his lip trembles, the words push against the backs of his teeth. He can't hold them in. "I've tried, I swear I have. He won't talk to me. Ever since that stupid night it's just been...radio silence."

 

Yoongi frowns, twists his mouth. "That doesn't sound like Taehyung."

 

"I know," Jimin frowns, pauses, "Or well. Maybe, I guess I don't."

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes. "Don't be stupid, Jimin."

 

He flares up immediately, sitting up straighter, eyes flashing. His jaw clicks. "What? How am I the one being stupid? I haven't done anything!"

 

"You hurt him."

 

Jimin pauses again, this time the anger melting from him just as quickly as it ignited. The set of his brow shifts to worried. "Hurt him?"

 

"When you told him you didn't get any new tattoos," Yoongi nods.

 

"But he knows I love him," Jimin slumps back in his seat, still frowning. The words build a lump in his throat. "He's one of my best friends."

 

"Maybe that's not what he wants," Yoongi leans forward, sighing, pinching the bridge of his nose. As if this entire altercation was more stressful on him than either of them.

 

"To be my friend?"

 

"To be loved like a friend."

 

Jimin's breath shudders out of him. It was a topic he was trying to avoid. It just didn't work out in his head, no matter what avenue he took. "That's not how it is."

 

"How can you be sure?" Yoongi raises a brow, voice back to sounding tired.

 

"He never-- there was never indication that it was...romantic," Jimin coughs, stumbling over his words. "I never even got his tattoo and he...isn't the type."

 

"God, you really are stupid, Jimin," Yoongi reaches forward to ruffle his hair, smile pitying. "I think maybe you need to think a little deeper."

 

"I don't even know what you're getting at."

 

"You think he's not into you - which, whatever. But what about you? Are you trying to tell me you're not into him ?"

 

Jimin's throat clicks, he turns away from Yoongi and goes back to his papers. This is all too confusing for him.

 

 

 

 

It doesn't click until much later. Until after midterms and spring break. When seeing Taehyung doesn't mean running in the opposite direction anymore. Rather, they just actively and blatantly ignore each other. Jimin still waves sometimes and on a good day, he'll get a smile back.

 

Although, good is subjective. That smile is what determines whether the day is going to be good at all. Sets the tone for him. Reminds him how breathtaking Taehyung can be but also what he's missing out on. It's on one of those so-called good days that it happens. Hoseok gets sick of Jimin's moping and takes him out for ice cream. A bonding afternoon, he calls it. When Jimin points out that they're roommates and hang out all the time and definitely not in any more need of bonding, Hoseok tells him to shut up, that it's not that deep.

 

"Honestly, I thought you'd be over this by the time you came back from break," Hoseok says, before dragging Jimin out of the apartment. "I'm not dealing with your heartbroken thundercloud anymore. Accept the free ice cream, brat!"

 

"I'm not heartbroken," Jimin says, shoving his feet into his shoes, "And I'm not even unhappy! We were laughing and messing around just earlier today!"

 

"Yeah, we were," Hoseok rolls his eyes, "And then you came home looking like you didn't know whether you wanted to cry or throw up. And now here we are - me spending money on you in an attempt to get you to stop looking like a kicked puppy."

 

Jimin would feel worse if Hoseok hadn't dropped his phone the other day while watching youtube videos. Not the best ones, he's still hoarding those in case Taehyung decides to start talking to him again. Instead, he enjoys the extra expensive ice cream Hoseok buys him to its fullest extent.

 

He's smiling, laughing, having fun . Taehyung doesn't cross his mind. Not until he's halfway finished with his cone and turning around, asking, "Want it?"

 

Hoseok immediately plucks it out of his hand, taking a bite that's really just half of what's left. On a normal day, Jimin would stare in horror, because ice cream is cold and that shouldn't be possible. But it's a good day , so Jimin stares in a different kind of horror. Eyes wide, mouth open, heart stuttering to a halt.

 

"What?" Hoseok whines, wiping some of the excess ice cream from the corners of his mouth. "You were offering! It's not like I stole it."

 

Jimin winces, a familiar voice poking stealer at him in his head. "Oh god," he moans. His chest hurts again. He wanted Taehyung to be there. That's why he offered his ice cream. Because he always offered Taehyung half of everything.

 

Because he always wants Taehyung to be there.

 

Even in the middle of this friendship breakup they seem to be having, in the middle of feeling damn near depressed over having lost him. This constant anxiety at the mere mention of his name or the need to wear his sweater to bed. It's just because he misses him - misses him as more than a friend.

 

He misses his Taehyung.

 

Misses their almost-everythings, they're always something more. Misses holding his hand and wiping at his face and feeding him and being there . But above all, above all he still doesn't understand. Because if it wasn't romantic, Jimin should still have his tattoo.

 

If it wasn't romantic, it wouldn't hurt so much.

 

If it wasn't romantic, Jimin wouldn't wonder, constantly, what it would have been like to kiss Taehyung on that fateful night or any night at all. To hold him close again and whisper in quiet breaths how much he cherishes him.

 

It is romantic and Jimin still hasn't felt that burn, still hasn't received that tattoo. He's still confused but he doesn't care.

 

"What is with you?" Hoseok is prodding at him, taking to smacking at his cheek lightly in order to get snap him out of this daze.

 

"I love him, hyung," Jimin says, voice low, gobsmacked. "Fucking hell. I really..." his breath shudders, he bites his lip. Hoseok's gaze turns softer, sympathetic, hand tight on his shoulder to provide support. "I really love him."

 

 

 

 

Jimin spends two entire days pacing back and forth in his bedroom, making a pros and cons list about confronting - and confessing - to Taehyung. He keeps talking himself out of it, somehow convinced he's going to make the situation worse. He's not sure how, if it's even possible, but his brain keep sending him alarms. Straight from his ever-trustworthy broken heart.

 

Taehyung doesn't want to talk to him and he's not sure forcing him to is the right way to go.

 

Jeongguk is the one that gives him that final push, though. Slamming his way into Jimin's room and yelling at him to stop walking around like a ninny and to stop being such a pussy, hyung! Jimin kicked his ass for it but Jeongguk had a point. He was scared. Hurt. He'd been cut off. It isn't a pleasant situation to be in. But mostly, he's just scared he's going to be rejected.

 

But Jimin refuses to be weak, to just back down because of cowardice. So he sucks it up, puts on his big kid pants and makes the long trek to Taehyung's apartment, a street over. It's drizzling, the sky dark and heavy with clouds. Raindrops hit his face and Jimin tries not to see it as an omen, hurrying his steps partly in hopes of shelter.

 

It takes him an entire five minutes to walk up the flight of stairs, the bubbling in his gut getting stronger with each step. It threatens to choke him, to overflow out of his body and put a stopper in his heart. Makes him feel like he's ready to explode.

 

He has to do breathing techniques. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Remind himself that they were in a good place, not too long ago. That Taehyung knows him, loved him - in one way at least. That everything will be fine.

 

And then he finally knocks on the door. Then knocks again a minute later when there's no response. He tries a third time, calling out, "Taehyung? Namjoon hyung?"

 

He would think no one was home but he hears a small, whispered curse, and what sounds like someone tripping over shoes. It could be either of them but he has a feeling that he should see this through.

 

He raps his knuckles against the door once more, wincing because they're going to end up raw at the end of this. Leaning against the doorframe he calls out, "Taehyung? I know you're there. Can we talk?"

 

Nothing.

 

"Taehyung, please ."

 

Shuffling. But no response. He tries the door to find it locked. "I know where you keep your spare key. Open the door, please. Just, hear me out?"

 

Jimin waits and prays. He has to remind himself not to get upset. You're not actually telepathically connected, Park Jimin, he reminds himself, he doesn't know what you're here for . He breathes heavily as he waits, the slant of the rain reaching his arm and side. He shivers. Gnaws at his bottom lip before his patience runs out and his skin itches with anticipation, with the need to move. He sighs, heavy and frustrated before reaching for the patio light beside the door. The spare key is taped to the back of it, still, and the door gives way to him easily after it's unlocked.

 

And then for the first time in nearly three months, he's seeing Taehyung up close, their full attentions focused on each other.

 

Taehyung frowns at him, says, "You're wet." Jimin blinks in surprise. He steps forward, the corners of his mouth just barely beginning to twitch up before Taehyung seemingly remembers himself with a start. His hands shoot up and eyes go wide as he steps forward, palms coming to rest against Jimin's chest. "You're not supposed to be here," he shakes his head. It takes him a second before he begins to push, Jimin's heart plays an unsteady beat against his hands. "I don't want you here."

 

"Wait!" Jimin is frantic, his hands come up to grab at Taehyung's wrists. He doesn't shove him off, doesn't even try to remove him. His touch stays light but present, pleading. He presses his thumb against Taehyung's pulse to find it matching his. "Wait, please? Please! Just listen, okay? I just want to talk?"

 

The pushing comes to a stop and they're both breathing heavy. Taehyung's fingers tremble where they rest against him before he's pulling back, pulling away. A beat passes, two, before Taehyung is nodding and turning on his heel, making his way to his room with Jimin hot on his heels.

 

"I'm not sure I want to listen to what you have to say," Taehyung says, crossing his arms over his chest. Jimin goes to sit at his desk chair but Taehyung makes a strangled noise in his throat, stopping him. "And I'm not sure I want you to sit."

 

Jimin takes a long breath, nods, backs off. "That's fair." He reaches forward to place the spare key at the edge of Taehyung's desk. When he looks back at him, Taehyung's lips are pursed, his entire body held tight. He looks tired, on edge, watery. "It won't be long, I just...I miss you." Jimin shrugs, because it's a horrible start but it's the truth, "And I owe you this much."

 

He waits for Taehyung to nod before continuing. "That morning, when you asked me about the tattoos, I didn't know," Jimin bites his lip when Taehyung cringes. Takes a tentative step forward. "I didn't know it's because you wanted me to have yours . I was... I don't know? Riding the high of the night before? Too happy to notice the obvious? But it wasn't that-- That I don't love you. Because I do ." Taehyung clenches his eyes shut at the words and Jimin feels desperation wrap its claws around his throat. He's not doing this right. Nothing is right. Not yet.

 

"As more than a friend," he blurts out, in a rush. Taehyung's eyes shoot back open, staring at him in disbelief. "I want to have your tattoo too. I can't imagine life without you Taehyung, and I've been living it. Do you remember? When you first asked me how I could fall in love so easily? I told you it was the trouble breathing and the heartbeat and the wild imagination... I had that with you immediately. Honest, I did. But I had even more and that's what threw me for the loop. You said I should want to fight a war for someone and I checked for your mark that night . And I figured, you know, it makes sense if I don't have it. It's fine.

 

But then we got closer. And you became this permanent fixture in my life. Everyone noticed it, we were always together. And there was so much between us, so much more than just normal friends. You must have felt it too. I knew then, because I checked again. I knew and it wasn't just-- the stupid, puppy love bullshit I always do." Jimin chokes on his words, he feels like he's stuffing up. His eyes burn and he takes another step forward. Taehyung lets him, arms loosening from around his chest. Eyes watching him in shock and wariness, wide and open. "I would do anything for you. I would do anything to make you happy. I just hope I'm part of that anything." Jimin swallows thickly, hands clenching and unclenching. "If... If you want me to leave right now and never say anything to you again or about this to anyone or-- or anything at all, I will. I'll leave. But god , Taehyung. I'm so sorry for being such a jackass. And I'm so sorry for taking forever to realize how madly and stupidly in love with you I am, that it doesn't matter if I don't have your tattoo for it to be real."

 

Taehyung is quiet for a long time, just stares at Jimin with that same expression. Open and wide but wary. Jimin nods, takes another deep breath to steady himself. He won't cry yet, not yet. He turns, ready to make his way out of Taehyung's life when his voice stops him. "You still don't have my tattoo?" he sounds broken, his voice thick and low.

 

Jimin looks back at him, an apology scrawled over his face. He shakes his head. "I still haven't gotten a new tattoo," he says, voice wavering, "But it doesn't matter . It doesn't invalidate anything for me."

 

Taehyung's gaze shifts from his eyes down to his arms. "Your tattoos mean so much to you. The ones you've carried around for all these years," he laughs a little, without any humor, "But I can't even make a mark on you?"

 

"The way I feel about you is different," Jimin says, shaking his head. He approaches Taehyung again. Close enough that he can reach out and touch him. Link their hands together. "It's not like anyone from the past. Those memories-- half of them I can't even recall clearly. With you? I can't stop thinking about any of it. You mean more to me than anyone else ever has."

 

The fingers around his clasp tighter, and even though Taehyung stays quiet it gives him some hope. They stand there until Jimin's feet begin their familiar, dull ache. Jimin pushes it away, keeps his gaze fixed on Taehyung's face.

 

"You're the biggest jerk I know," Taehyung sniffles, finally, after eons. A grin breaks across JImin's face, relieved. Taehyung gives a tug to his hand and Jimin is quick to move forward, wrap him up in his arms. "I can't believe you put me through this."

 

"To be fair," Jimin half laughs, half chokes on a sob, face buried in the curve of Taehyung's neck, "You didn't say anything either."

 

"You broke my heart!"

 

Jimin's arm wraps tighter around Taehyung's waist, his own heart seizing at the words. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

 

"Jerk," Taehyung whispers, "I don't know how to deal with this."

 

Jimin pulls back to look at him. They both have unshed tears in their eyes. "What do you mean?"

 

"You love me but don't have my tattoo," he says. Jimin grimaces. He wants it, though. "But I have yours."

 

That has Jimin rearing back even more. He stares at Taehyung in surprise, hands holding onto his elbows. "You have mine?" Taehyung nods. "Can I see?"

 

He seems to hesitate for a moment before he turns, pulling his shirt over his back to show Jimin the wolf that rests there. Jimin touches it with reverent fingers, refusing to even breathe for fear of ruining this. For fear of shattering this image, to find that it's only been a dream this entire time.

 

"Did you really think I didn't love you back?" Taehyung half sobs. Jimin pulls him back against his chest, leaning down to press a kiss to the mark before standing up to kiss against his nape. Taehyung is a solid two inches taller than him but he's the perfect height for this - for Jimin to hold him and breathe into him just how much he cares.

 

"I'll prove to you it's the same for me," Jimin's voice cracks. Taehyung rests his weight back against him. "I'll prove to you that it's so much more than it's ever been before." The words come in a whisper, pressed to the shell of Taehyung's ear. "I'm sorry for taking so long, still."

 

Taehyung turns his head to look back at him, a little bit of that old, familiar sparkle back. It has Jimin feeling lighter than he has in months. "I think I'm willing to wait."

 

 

 

 

 

♡ ♡ ♡

 

 

 

 

 

The two and a half months Taehyung and Jimin spent without talking soon become distant memories, replaced by the two months they spend post-confession. Jimin does try, his damnedest, to show Taehyung how much he truly loves him. And he succeeds. It's not perfect by any means. They still fight, over much smaller things.

 

( "You stole my last dumpling!"

 

"It was mine! You had the last eggroll! Fucking..." )

 

And sometimes slightly bigger things.

 

( "You're taking advantage. Don't be an asshole. I'm proving to you that I love you, you're just pushing me to my limits."

 

"You're calling me the asshole? Honestly? After everything? Fuck you, fucking twit." )

 

But even on the nights they fight, they end up back together. Apologies resting on the tips of their tongues, rushing to get them out first. It's how they are, so wrapped up, so entwined, they can't ever bear to stay away.

 

Jimin all but moves into Taehyung's apartment. It proves much quieter than his own and Namjoon is a lot less nosy. A lot less disturbed by PDA. A lot less judgmental about Taehyung and Jimin still being stuck in a sort of limbo. A lot more prone to needing help after getting into an accident but Jimin doesn't mind that part as much. It helps that he left for summer break before either of them, letting them have the apartment and some peace and quiet. Some much needed privacy.

 

"I can't believe I'm leaving in a few days," Taehyung sighs. They're cuddled up in bed, a movie playing on the tv but going mostly ignored. Jimin can't think of much beyond the way Taehyung's hand is stroking up and down his side.

 

"Mm," Jimin hums, lost in the way Taehyung's fingers are just shy of tickling and a hair's breadth away from pleasure. Taehyung pinches him in retaliation and he jumps, slightly. "I don't want you to leave," he sighs back, pouting, shuffling closer. His hand scratches at Taehyung's hipbone before moving up to tug at his elbow, prompting him to keep going.

 

Taehyung starts his lazy ministrations back up, obligingly. "You just don't want me to go because you like me massaging you."

 

"It's true," Jimin grins, wide and lazy. Taehyung laughs in his face, nudging him to roll over onto his back. Jimin settles on his stomach as Taehyung clambers above him. He straddles Jimin's hips, tugging his shirt off with quick fingers. He runs his hands down Jimin's back, the smile on his face soft, enjoying just the feel of him for a moment before he gets a whine for his efforts.

 

"I really don't want to leave yet," he says, voice a little quieter as he reaches for the lotion, zigzagging it across Jimin's back only to press his palms into warm skin and ruin his masterpiece. Spreading it all over before he begins to knead. 

 

"I really don't want you to leave yet," Jimin says, voice slightly muffled. He's here for the second summer session as well. It's going to be lonelier without Taehyung. Quieter. Colder, even in the middle of summer. "Want to keep you forever."

 

Taehyung laughs, drifting his hands lower, pressing his fingers into Jimin's spine. "Don't have too much fun without me, cheeseball." He digs his thumbs into the dimples at the small of Jimin's back, relishing in the way he arches beneath him. A moan spilling out from his lips.

 

"Wouldn't dream of it," Jimin's voice sounds rougher, thicker. Taehyung grins. He scratches his way back up Jimin's back, can feel him shiver between his thighs. "Gonna lock myself up and have absolutely zero fun," Jimin says, voice edging on breathy. "Gonna mope over you everyday."

 

"Good." Taehyung says, a little bit of sunshine bubbling up in his chest, tapping at Jimin's side. "Turn over."

 

Jimin rolls underneath him and Taehyung waits for him to settle before lowering himself down right over his crotch. He can feel him, hard and throbbing already, pressed right up against him. It makes his breath hitch. They've been here before, at this crossroads that has yet to be breached. It always makes Taehyung's mouth go dry. He begins to massage slow circles into Jimin's chest, right beneath his clavicles, working his way down slowly, watching his fingers drag against JImin's skin, creating little, white lines that are too quick to disappear. Taking extra time to brush over his nipples, adding more cold lotion to hear the hitch in Jimin's breathing, a sly smile on his face. Jimin's completely given up on controlling the rise and fall of his chest, flushing along the path Taehyung's hands have taken, heart hammering a beat against his palms. Eyes barely managing to stay open and watching Taehyung as he shifts and jerks beneath him.

 

"Tell me you love me," Taehyung smiles. Jimin's stomach caves in beneath his fingers and Taehyung presses harder, loves that he can hear the way Jimin's exhale rushes out of him so loudly.

 

"I love you," Jimin says, immediate and honest. He's having trouble concentrating but he'll always be able to know this, to think it clearly through any kind of haze. Taehyung's hands drift to his hipbones. He grinds his hips down against Jimin's, his own erection straining against his sweatpants. Jimin sucks his lip between his teeth, jaw clenching when Taehyung's eyes track the movement.

 

"You're just saying that because you want me to ride you," Taehyung simpers, grinding down again and Jimin whines, hands shooting to his thighs. He closes his eyes and throws his head to the side a furrow creasing his brow. Taehyung's fingers continue to massage his hips, dragging his sweats down a bit, putting pressure right on the defined lines of his pelvis.

 

"Fuck," Jimin breathes, tightening his grip on Taehyung to get him to slow down . "You can't just say things like that."

 

"Why not?" Taehyung laughs, leaning down to nip at Jimin's ear, pressing a kiss into the hollow beneath it. "It's true." He rolls his body down again. Jimin bucks up. "It's okay, I want to ride you too."

 

"Taehyung. "

 

"Yes? Everything okay, Jiminie?"

 

"You fucker," Jimin half laughs back, grinding back up against Taehyung and taking pleasure in the way his mouth drops open into an o, lashes fluttering. "Don't do this."

 

Taehyung slows the roll of his hips, bends back down once more to press a kiss against the corner of Jimin's mouth. Then switches sides to do it again. He pulls back, bringing his arms up to bracket Jimin's face and looks at him with a cocked head, a nervous smile. Their bodies are pressed so close together. Taehyung can feel where Jimin's sticky from too much lotion, can feel every move of his body. Can feel when their heartbeats sync up and it makes his throat feel tight. "But I want to," he says, voice soft, dropping his eyes to Jimin's throat so he doesn't have to watch the reaction play out over his face. Jimin's throat bobs when he swallows, hard. It makes him smile.

 

Jimin takes a deep breath, holds it for a moment as he brings his hands up to Taehyung's back, rubbing it in a wide arc. "Are you sure?" There's an undeniable hint of hopefulness, of anticipation, in his tone but it's coupled with concern, heavy with importance. The thoughts in Jimin's head race a mile a minute, most of them heading south, but the loudest, most important once, are yelling Taehyung's name. Yelling for him to make this worth it for Taehyung, to make sure

 

"Positive," Taehyung nods, finally looking back at Jimin. 

 

"But-"

 

"I'm sure, Jimin," he rolls his hips down again, the sudden friction making them both jolt. He drops a solid kiss down against Jimin's lips, close-mouthed and quick. "In case you couldn't tell." 

 

Jimin digs his fingernails into Taehyung's back, rolls his eyes at him. Leaning up, he kisses him again, this time slower, longer, sucking on Taehyung's bottom lip and chasing the ever-addicting taste that's all him. He bucks up when Taehyung grinds down again, arms unwinding and falling back against the mattress as he glares up at him. Taehyung sits up fully, grinning his box-grin, running his nails along Jimin's torso. He digs them in a little harder along Jimin's lower abdomen, scratching as his fingers approach the band of his sweatpants. He tucks his fingers beneath it, presses his knuckles in until Jimin moans, hand coming up to circle his wrist. Taehyung shudders when he looks up at Jimin's face, so flushed and wrecked already. 

 

"Tae- please," Jimin says, voice lower in a way that's new to Taehyung. It makes his cock throb. 

 

"Please, what?" Taehyung asks, eyes dark. He still has that god forsaken smug grin on his face that drives Jimin wild. And he knows it. Jimin sits up, a hand steadying Taehyung. He pulls him down, mouth hot on his, tugging at the short strands at the back of his head. Licking into him. His tongue drags against the roof of his mouth and Taehyung shudders on his lap. It's his favorite, always makes him weak when Jimin does it but now there's a promise behind it.

 

"Please let me fuck you," Jimin whispers, lips brushing against each other. He ducks his head, pressing his lips in a path down Taehyung's jaw to suck against his pulse. Biting and laving at it until he’s sure it'll leave a mark. "Please ride me. Wanna see you come undone on top of me. Please."

 

Taehyung keens, the words making his entire body clench. He pushes Jimin back down, chest heaving with shuddered breaths. He'll never get over the sight of Jimin when he's just been kissed. Lips red and swollen. Made to be kissed for forever more. Taehyung leans forward to steal another taste but moves back just as quick, doesn't let Jimin trap him again to tease insistently against his weakest spots.

 

He yanks at Jimin's pants until Jimin's laughing and kicking them off along with his boxer briefs, shoves his own off with just as much vigor. Jimin's breath catches, as he takes the sight of Taehyung in. Taehyung wants to shy away, his face burning red, but he's not the type. He swallows back the embarrassment, leans back and puts on even more of a show, hoping he's landed in the vicinity of sexy at least. The way Jimin's eyes darken, tongue darting out, makes it feel like he's succeeded. He lets his eyes flit down, taking in the way Jimin looks for himself. His cock is hard, the head an angry red that flows out into a pretty pink. It's the prettiest dick Taehyung's ever seen and he wants to kiss it. Wants to swallow it down until Jimin fucking into the back of his throat and near tears from how good it feels.

 

Jimin manages to move before Taehyung does. He slides his hands up Taehyung's thighs. His thumb presses at the juncture of his thigh and pelvis, eyes fixated when Taehyung's cock twitches, a laugh of awe tumbling out of him. He trails light fingers closer and closer until Taehyung moans, tracing along the length of his shaft as an apology for teasing. Jimin thumbs at Taehyung's slit, catching a tiny pearl of precum to smear along his head. "You weren't wearing underwear," he accuses, voice drowning in want.

 

"So maybe I planned this," Taehyung tries at a laugh, voice stringing out. "It was supposed to be romantic. You ruined it when you came home early." Jimin snorts at him, tearing his eyes away from Taehyung's cock to raise a brow at him. "I wanted to have sex before I left but I'm not traveling on a sore ass. So, today seemed good..." He's lying. He's fine trying to travel on a sore ass. He just didn't want to give himself time to chicken out and second guess whether Jimin wanted him back. He can see how much Jimin wants him back.

 

Jimin's light touches turn heavier, slowly coming to wrap around Taehyung and jacking him off at a leisurely pace. It almost feels surreal, knowing that Taehyung was hoping for this. They've gotten close, so close. Taehyung took over starring in all of Jimin's fantasies but the real thing is overwhelming. He feels like he has to go over the types of bagels he's sold today to keep himself from coming in seconds. Jimin swallows thickly, staring up Taehyung, hand tightening on his downstrokes and memorizing the look of euphoria on his face. "I've imagined how you would look prepping yourself for me a hundred times by now," Jimin manages, gaze meeting Taehyung's eyes once more. A shiver goes through Taehyung.

 

"I did while you were out," Taehyung whines, trying to buck up into Jimin's palm. Wanting desperately for him to speed up. "Next time-," he cuts himself off on a moan, breath catching and disappearing, "Next time I'll let you watch from the start." 

 

"Fucking hell," Jimin says, smacking Taehyung's thigh to still him. It only spurs him on more and Jimin has to let go completely, putting his hands back on Taehyung's hips. "Wanna watch you finger yourself."

 

Taehyung chokes on a moan, scrambles to lean backward, legs spreading so Jimin can get a clear view of his pink hole, fluttering in need and anticipation. Jimin makes a blind grab for the lotion bottle, squirting a generous amount into Taehyung's palm. He slicks his fingers up, teasing at his rim, content to just rub against himself for moment and listen to the way Jimin's breath thunders, speeds up.

 

"Want me to put it in Jiminie?" Taehyung asks, a smile in his voice, looking at him through his lashes.

 

"Yeah, you fuckin' tease," Jimin grins, eyes fixed on Taehyung's fingers as he slips one finger in without trouble. Jimin reaches down to palm himself, a high, keening noise leaving his throat, fingers tight around the base of his cock. A second finger pushes in, meeting a little more resistance. Taehyung's breathing heavy and head thrown back, when Jimin speaks up again. "You didn't say you loved me back."

 

"W-What?" Taehyung stutters out, fingers pushing in and out of himself, in time with the roll of his hips. His mouth doesn't seem to want to close, even Jimin is hazy in his vision. He doesn't know what he's getting at.

 

"You said to tell you I loved you," Jimin groans, hand pulling along his cock. Taehyung whines for him to stop and it takes everything in his power to rip his hand away, to clutch at the pillows at his head instead of chasing after release to the image of Taehyung like this on his lap. It takes even longer to get back to his train of thought, the drumming of his pulse almost as loud as the chant of Taehyung's name in his head. "I said I love you and you didn't say it back."

 

Taehyung's riding three of his fingers now, curling every so often to press against his prostate. Little moans and whines keep escaping him but he still finds it in him to roll his eyes at Jimin. Jimin, who's watching him open-mouthed and needy. "Tell me one more time," Taehyung gasps, clenching his eyes shut and stilling his fingers, edging back from his orgasm as he slips them out slowly. "Tell me again and then I'll say it."

 

"Unfair," Jimin whimpers, reaching his hands forward again, sliding them up Taehyung's quivering thighs. He massages a little before reaching further down, one hand helping to spread him open while the other goes to rub at his swollen rim. "God, fuck, but I love you."

 

Taehyung grins wide, blinding, breathless. He guides Jimin's cock against his entrance, holds his breath as he just waits there for a minute. It's like time stills and Taehyung's eyes jerk back to Jimin's face to find him watching him. Jimin eases his hands along Taehyung's legs, his sides, fingers clenching. The anticipation, the need, it balls up in his throat. Tears out and unwinds in a long groan when Taehyung easing down slowly. Jimin throws his head back. Taehyung bites down on his lip, hard enough to crack skin. "Fuck," Taehyung cries out, voice cracking, rolling his hips and easing up and down at an aching pace, adding more and more lotion as Jimin's cock practically feels as if it's splitting him in half. "Fuck, I love you. I love you and your thick cock."

 

"Taehyung. " Jimin practically growls, fingers sure to leave bruises on his hips. He's watching with rapt attention as Taehyung rocks and shifts until he's fully seated. His breath comes heavy as he waits, the pleasure of just being inside him already suffocating enough, tight and warm and begging for him to come. Taehyung nods at him, lifts himself, just barely, and it's all the signal Jimin needs to rock up into him, setting a steady pace that has Taehyung bouncing on his lap. It's overwhelming has him arching back against the bed even as his hips piston up to smack against Taehyung's ass, the backs of his thighs. Taehyung can't stop groaning, whiny moans hitching out of him as his eyes roll back. The wait was worth it and his body screams as he tries to hold back from finishing too quickly.

 

"Alright, alright ," Taehyung hiccups, breathless, words punctuated by tiny cries of pleasure. "I love you. God, fuck, you know I love you." He leans down to capture Jimin's lips in a kiss, teeth clacking, panting into each others mouths. It's wet and messy and perfect. The sounds of their sloppy kisses joining in with the slap of their bodies. "I love you so much I can't breathe sometimes."

 

"Sure it's not just because you're stuffed full of my cock?" Jimin's laugh is breathless, one hand coming up to yank Taehyung's head to the side so he can kiss the underside of his jaw.

 

"Shut the fuck up." Taehyung tries for affronted but he sounds wrecked, even to himself, clenching around Jimin until he gasps out a fuck, long and loud. His thrusts become harder, more erratic. "Shit, more. Jimin, more-- So close."

 

Jimin plants his feet on the mattress, pushing up and angling his hips as he fucks Taehyung harder, still. Deeper. Every stroke pressing into and against his prostate. His hand falls down from Taehyung's hair, scratching lines along his back and Taehyung practically cries from how much and how good and oh god, Jimin . Jimin's other hand wraps around Taehyung's cock again, jerking him fast, out of time with his thrusts and Taehyung comes undone, mouth dropping open in a silent scream as he falls forward against Jimin's chest. His cum splatters across Jimin's torso, his body shuddering and ass spasming around Jimin's cock until his hips come to a stuttering halt as well, spilling his cum inside Taehyung.

 

They lie there, sticky and gasping until Jimin pokes his side, grumbling about how he's heavy.

 

"Yeah, well," Taehyung sighs, still out of breath, "You're disgusting."

 

He rolls over to lay beside him and Jimin grins, dragging his finger along his stomach and scooping up cum to bring to his mouth. Taehyung watches, dazed, as he licks it up, breathing heavy through his nose. He can't seem to figure out why they waited this long.

 

"Wow," he says. Jimin winks at him. "I love you."

 

Jimin's answering laugh warms Taehyung completely. "I love you too."

 

 

 

 

Taehyung and Jimin are facing each other, heads pillowed by their hands and covers tossed haphazardly around their waists. They're just lying there, staring. Taehyung said it was weird and sappy. Jimin told him to shut up. 

 

"What are we?" Taehyung asks after ten minutes of silence. Jimin's brows shoot up. 

 

"What do you mean?" he's incredulous. The cum across his chest hasn't even completely dried yet. 

 

Taehyung waves a hand between them, gives him a look. "You know, what are we?"

 

"Well, we love each other," Jimin offers, deciding to humor him.

 

"Yes."

 

"And we're dating."

 

"You're courting me," Taehyung says, sniffing, "Attempting to woo me with your wiles."

 

"I have wooed you with my wiles," Jimin wrinkles his nose, staring pointedly down at Taehyung's crotch.

 

"Okay, point," Taehyung concedes. "But are we dating dating? I can't possibly know since you haven't asked me seriously."

 

Jimin props himself up on an elbow, stares down at Taehyung in disbelief. "You're my boyfriend, Taehyung."

 

"Am I?"

 

"What are we, in high school now," Jimin groans, flopping back down and covering his face with a hand. 

 

"If it means you're going to ask me, then yes," Taehyung bites back a grin, eyes glimmering. Jimin groans again but rolls over onto Taehyung until he's lying flat, brings his hands up to cup his cheeks. 

 

"Kim Taehyung," he says and Taehyung blinks up at him, widens his eyes innocently. Jimin can't help but grin. "Will you go steady with me?"

 

Taehyung smooches him loudly on the lips in response.

 

 

 

 

Later, when they're out about to shower and Jimin's checking if the water is warm enough, Taehyung catches sight of the muscle tape Jimin always sports on his side. He reaches forward to tug at the edge of it.

 

"Sometimes I forget you have this on," he says.

 

Jimin looks down, smoothing a hand over it and frowning. "Sometimes I forget I do too." He picks at the edge of it along with Taehyung. "I don't know why I still do it, force of habit maybe."

 

"Maybe you still love that mystery man."

 

"Definitely not." Jimin's answer is solid, sure. He looks at Taehyung's eyes, repeats himself. "Definitely not that."

 

Taehyung smiles, goes back to the tape. "This is gonna hurt," he gives a second of warning before yanking the tape off. Jimin hisses but takes it like a champ, going back to the water and sticking one foot into the tub. Taehyung stares, heart stopped in his chest, at the tattoo along Jimin's side. "I think you're wrong," he whispers out, the words hurting, scratching against the sides of his throat on their way out.

 

Jimin turns back to frown at him. "What?" he steps back out of the shower, waving a hand in front of Taehyung's face. "What's with you? C'mon let's shower and get you to bed."

 

Taehyung shakes his head, pulls back. He has tears in his eyes and Jimin stops, hands coming up to rest on Taehyung's shoulders. Worried. "Taehyung?" he asks, voice soft. Taehyung punches him in the shoulder. Hard. "What the fuck?!"

 

"You're an asshole ," Taehyung shakes his head again, "I can't believe you Park Jimin." His eyes are fixed on his tattoo again, yanking at Jimin's body to get a better look at it, mouth working open and closed on aborted words.

 

Jimin looks down at it too, staring between the image of the lion and Taehyung. "Don't tell me this belongs to someone you know," he chokes out, the thought stabbing him in the gut, ice cold, "Listen. Taehyung. It's in the past--"

 

"It's mine ," Taehyung wails and this time it's Jimin whose voice cuts off on unknown words, shocked. "I'm the mystery man! That lion is mine! You put us through all this for nothing." He goes back to punching at Jimin's chest, lighter this time. Jimin's hands come up to hold at his arms, staring at him and blinking his eyes wide.

 

"No way," he says, disbelieving. Taehyung continues punching. Jimin shakes his head, letting him. The information is slow to sink in, not making much sense, unreal. "I'm a fucking asshole," he breathes out, voice low.

 

"Yes."

 

"This doesn't change anything," Jimin springs up, suddenly, back straight and pulling Taehyung closer until their flush together. He presses a kiss to Taehyung's temple, breathes him in. Holds him tight, tight, tighter. "With or without it, doesn't change anything." His words are rushed, spilling out of him quicker than he's used to speaking. Without the usual aching thought but heavier than ever with sincerity. 

 

Taehyung's eyes are closed and there are tears at the corners of his lashes. It changes a little bit, in all honesty, but not the important bits. He nods, mutters, "All this time." He pulls back to cup Jimin's cheeks between his hands. "I'm gonna fight you, you idiot," he says, leaning forward to kiss Jimin, long and slow and deep but wholly innocent. Just to say all the words that are locked up in his throat right now.

 

"That's fair."

 

"So much wasted time."

 

"So much. Totally my fault."

 

Taehyung bites his lip, sniffles. Jimin leans forward to kiss him again. To settle his lips over the corners of his mouth, his cheeks, his eyelids, his nose. He looks at Taehyung with an apology in his eyes, wonder and disbelief still lingering at his edges.

 

"I love you," Taehyung breathes. 

 

"I love you too," Jimin smiles, his own eyes shining.

 

 

 

 

It's a day like any other. Jimin had to fight Taehyung away from the lavender hair dye at the store. They don't really have time before they have to get to the restaurant, definitely not enough for Taehyung to dye his hair.

 

Taehyung says it's just because Jimin just likes the blond better, even though you fell in love with the purple first. Jimin doesn't argue. Just says he loves every version of Taehyung and presses a kiss to his knuckles. Taehyung calls him gross and asks if he also loves how he mixes his ketchmayo for his waffles.

 

Jimin pretends to throw up in a flowerbed.

 

They walk into the restaurant hand in hand, glowing. Yoongi raises a brow at them, Seokjin hides a smirk in his orange juice. "Did you two have sex in the alley or something?" Yoongi squints at them.

 

"No ," Jimin says, "Although..."

 

"No public sex," Seokjin kicks him under the table when they settle down. Taehyung pouts in mock disappointment that is actually real disappointment. "Why are you two so," Seokjin waves his hands around, "Sparkly, then?"

 

"Jimin loves me," Taehyung grins.

 

"No shit," Yoongi stares at them, turns to give Seokjin a questioning look.

 

"I have his tattoo!"

 

"Oh. Well," Yoongi says, leaning back in his seat. "Took you long enough."

 

Jimin smiles so hard it hurts, leaning over to steal a kiss from Taehyung. "Stealer," Taehyung whispers to him, so Jimin kisses him a second time. He pulls back and turns his grin on his hyungs.

 

"Nah, it really didn't."

 

Taehyung punches him.

 

( Again. )