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[PART 1 – Jungkook]

~

Jungkook officially needs new friends.

“Come on, pleeeeeeeease?”

“No,” Jungkook says, turning back to his textbook and starting the next set of practice problems. “I have an exam tomorrow and you’re being annoying.”

“I’m not annoying!” Taehyung protests. “Am I? Jimin!” he says, turning to his friend next to him who is passed out on top of his Anatomy homework. “Jimin, am I annoying? Am I?”

“Ghnl,” Jimin offers before he rolls over and resumes snoring. Taehyung looks back at Jungkook triumphantly.

“That doesn’t count,” Jungkook says flatly, glaring at the problem in front of him. It has eight sub questions and he’s strongly considering skipping it.

But Taehyung, being Taehyung, is undeterred.

"Please culture them for me! You're a Microbiology major, this’ll be a piece of cake for you! I'll even buy you lamb skewers, Jungkook!" Taehyung pleads, eyes going wide and he's doing the puppy face how dare he who does Kim Taehyung think he is believing that lamb skewers and his puppy face would be adequate compensation for Jungkook to break into a university lab and culture fifteen sample plates of E. coli for his -

"Fine.”

Taehyung beams and hands him the keycard to his lab.

~

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

If there’s a surefire way to get caught sneaking into a professor’s lab and expelled for it, it’s by entering at night, when the doors are locked and when all the faculty has gone home and when students are definitely not supposed to be in doing unsupervised labwork. Which, in a nutshell, is exactly what Jungkook is doing.

He slips in through the door, hesitantly turning on the light to the lab. It’s not entirely unfamiliar to him, most labs are structured similarly in Jungkook’s experience, but still… doing Taehyung’s dirty work for him … (literally… E. coli smells awful) is another story. But lamb skewers.

The coast is clear save for a speedvac that’s drying down some test tubes, so Jungkook wastes no time in making his way over to where the samples are stored. Taehyung had told him that there was only one plate he was allowed to subculture from and that it was labeled with his name. Jungkook opens the door and sees nothing less than a three-foot high mountain of various E. coli plates.

He hates Taehyung.

After diving in and rummaging around the plates (all the while holding his breath because Jungkook rather prefers to retain his sense of smell), he finally manages to dig out Taehyung’s plate and slams the door closed.

Half an hour later, he’s gotten the culture medium ready for all the samples and is in the middle of inoculating the eighth plate when there’s a beep and the door to the lab opens.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

Jungkook freezes because maybe if he doesn’t move and doesn’t breathe and doesn’t act like he’s breaking about thirty university rules at the moment whoever just came in won’t notice him.

It works.

Two graduate students enter the lab, arguing about something in low tones. They completely ignore him as they don their lab coats and goggles and start setting up their station at the counter at the other end of the room, but Jungkook strains to hear what they’re saying over the sound of his Bunsen burner in case they’re talking about him.

“Are you sure that’s a good source of nitrogen for them?” one of them hisses.

“Yeah man, that’s what the other paper used,” the other says placatingly, pulling a weighing boat and a bottle of agar powder toward them.

“What, the one where half the samples died and they got no results?”

Jungkook breathes a quiet sigh of relief and continues his work, trying to finish everything quickly and get the hell out. It’s sort of difficult. One of the graduate students on the other side of the room is very handsome and Jungkook can’t help but steal occasional glances at him.

He’s on his thirteenth plate when there’s a “uh… oops” from the other end of the room. He looks up to see the graduate students’ dish of ethanol on fire.

“For god’s sake, Namjoon,” the other growls, and throws the lid on top of the burning dish and the fire dies. “Now I see why Yoongi says you need adult supervision in lab.”

“I need no such thing. Yoongi’s just a dick,” Namjoon grumbles.

“Thought you liked dick.”

“Not the Yoongi sort of dick.”

Jungkook’s snort is barely hidden by the hissing of his burner.

“I’m going to see if my rotovap’s done,” one of the two sighs, and starts removing his lab coat. “Think you can manage to not blow the lab up when I’m gone?”

“Don’t insult me,” Namjoon pouts.

“I’ll do what I want with you,” the other rolls his eyes, before his gaze falls on Jungkook, who immediately stiffens. “And Namjoon,” he sighs, not taking his eyes off of the undergraduate, “Taehyung’s probably bribed one of his friends to do his work for him again. Make sure he doesn’t blow up the lab, either.”

And he sweeps from the room, slamming the door behind him. Jungkook blinks twice, then turns very slowly to face Namjoon, who’s looking at him with a bit of an amused smile.

“Uh,” he says intelligently. “Please don’t report me.”

“Nah, I won’t,” Namjoon laughs before turning back to his work. “You’re either really desperate to work with E. coli, or Taehyung just has some very good friends.”

Jungkook inwardly scoffs as he finishes plating Taehyung’s samples and sticks them in the incubator. He doesn’t expect Namjoon to understand the allure of lamb skewers.

~

Jungkook, Taehyung and Jimin have collectively reached the point in their lives where they must once again concern themselves with their futures, which is a fancy way of saying figure out how exactly they plan to not end up on the streets unemployed and starving. Jungkook had recently gotten out of a meeting with his academic advisor, who had wasted no time informing him that if he wanted to attend graduate school for a Masters, he would have to slap some lab experience on his résumé. Taehyung is in the middle of browsing a list of possible veterinary medicine schools, and Jimin, who wants to become an educator in physical education, is almost done with the admission requirements for their university’s school for it. It is also an unspoken agreement between the three of them to not mention their impending graduate school entry examinations.

Jimin is, however, currently flaunting the fact that he’s not required to take Organic Chemistry, while Jungkook and Taehyung are suffering immensely together through that course. Well, Taehyung’s suffering through Organic Chemistry 1, Jungkook through Organic Chemistry 2 (he’s about two years younger than Taehyung but advanced placement credits are a beautiful thing, especially where very early graduation and less term bills are concerned).

“Wow, I feel so sorry for you two,” Jimin sighs dramatically, not sounding sorry at all. “You’re triene so hard, yet you’re both diene.”

“Stop trying to use chemistry words,” Jungkook says, his lip curling as he tries rotating the model of his butane molecule to teach Taehyung the principle of gauche interactions. “You’re not cool.”

“I am very cool,” Jimin says, giving a sniff. “And yet I still have plenty of free energy to deal with you two.”

“Jimin,” Taehyung closes his eyes. “Shut up for a second.” He sounds like he has an immense headache. Jungkook wouldn’t be surprised if he does.

Jimin cheerfully turns back to his admissions checklist.

“How is it that you know what career you want in life already?” Jungkook asks incredulously, shoving the model at Taehyung and scowling at Jimin over the café table. “When it took an hour and a half to decide what kind of drink you wanted?” Jimin had, after a long lasting internal struggle, finally decided to try the strawberry smoothie instead of his standard misugaru, and after the first sip declared that he didn’t like it (Jungkook’s still highly affronted on behalf of the drink; strawberries are like, the fruit of the gods or something).

“I am awesome,” a clearly un-godlike Jimin explains. Mortal. Peasant.

Jungkook looks to Taehyung. “Why are we friends with him? Who said he could sit with us?”

Taehyung gives a half-hearted shrug before setting down the butane model and burying his face in his hands. “I have class in two minutes,” he moans. “I don’t wanna go.”

Jimin pats him on the head. “You could skip and continue half-heartedly planning your journey toward financial stability with us, if you’d like. You also never did tell us what you want to work with for a career,” he says, nudging the Veterinary Science major in the side. “What are your plans?”

“Puppies,” Taehyung says, packing his books into his backpack and getting to his feet.

Jimin frowns. “Okay, but puppies isn’t really a –”

“Puppies.”

“Right, but –”

“Puppies.” Taehyung slings his bag over his shoulder, swipes Jimin’s unfinished drink from the table and leaves.

Jungkook watches the café door swing shut, then he blinks and turns back to Jimin.

“Gauche, he didn’t have to steal my drink,” Jimin grumbles.

Jungkook slams his face into his chemistry textbook and wishes for new friends.

~

Jungkook likes to think he is cool.

No, scratch that, he is cool. He is very cool.

Even though he’s currently sitting in his professor’s office, plastering a fake smile onto his face and hoping to the gods above that the professor doesn’t remember any of the eight times he fell asleep in her class the previous semester as he humbly requests for an internship in her lab.

“Well, Jeon Jungkook,” the professor says, flipping through his student profile what on earth Jungkook never gave that to her how did she even get that. “Top marks in General Microbiology and Microbiology lab, good science background, currently finishing Organic Chemistry… how is that, by the way?” she gives him an expectant smile.

Jungkook smiles back and refrains from sobbing out “it’s hell on earth I haven’t slept for four days in a row sAVE ME,” instead spouting some bullshit about how it’s a challenging yet thoroughly rewarding experience. It works.

The professor closes his profile and says, “Well, Jungkook, I think you’ll find yourself right at home in our lab. Many of our members are currently doing projects with microorganisms; I think they can teach you quite a few things. Now, I have a couple of Ph.D candidates working for me who can mentor undergraduates, let me call them for you…” she picks up her office phone, dialing a set of numbers and waiting. Jungkook waits, too.

“Hello, Namjoon?” the professor says cheerfully, and Jungkook’s smile falls, the name somewhat ringing a bell, a slightly unpleasant-sounding bell. “Are you busy? I have an undergraduate student who will be working in here, I want to see who’d be a good mentor for him. Drag Seokjin along, won’t you? If he’s free.”

Namjoon… Namjoon… oh fuck.

“He and Seokjin will be here in a minute,” the professor says brightly, failing to notice Jungkook’s horrified expression as she hangs up the phone. “Their office is on the lower floor, you see. Downstairs lab is mostly biology, upstairs lab is chemistry, just for ease. And all the analytical chemistry equipment is located upstairs, so… ah,” she sighs when there’s the sound of shattering glass outside her office. “That’ll be Namjoon.”

“Sup.” Namjoon knocks and pushes the door to the office open. He breaks into a sly grin when he sees Jungkook, who immediately starts sweating and hopes Namjoon won’t say anything in front of the professor whose (Jungkook now realizes) lab was the one he had broken into.

“What did you break this time, Namjoon?” the professor asks a little warily.

“Just Seokjin’s bottle of ethanol,” Namjoon says sheepishly. “One of the technicians is cleaning it up.”

“It’s a wonder Seokjin still lets you use it,” the professor says, rolling her eyes. “This is Jungkook, our new undergraduate intern. And Jungkook, this is Namjoon, a Ph.D candidate in Marine Biotechnology and the record holder for the most broken equipment in this lab.”

“Maybe the record holder for the whole university,” Namjoon says, grinning apologetically.

“More like the record holder for all of South Korea,” says a voice from outside the door, and they turn to see another graduate student enter the office. Jungkook’s heart gives an uncomfortable flop when he recognizes the handsome student as the one who had been working with Namjoon and oh god it’ll be a miracle if he doesn’t get expelled today. “You’re making a new dilution of ethanol for me; don’t think I didn’t see the mess outside,” Seokjin continues, glaring at Namjoon. “One liter. 70%. On my bench by lunchtime.”

“Yes, yes,” Namjoon says, grimacing. “Jungkook, this is Seokjin, our weed researcher!” he adds grandly, then yelps in pain as Seokjin aims a kick at his shin.

“I was wrongly accused by the old bat,” Seokjin growls. “And you were supposed to let that go.”

“Seokjin’s a Ph.D candidate in Pharmacognosy,” the professor supplies tonelessly, her face in her hands as if she was a mother watching her two children bicker about something very stupid for the fifth time. “And for the record, he has not done a single research project on marijuana. So if we can get back to the main topic at hand,” she sighs and Namjoon and Seokjin straighten up. “I have a new undergraduate intern here to dump on one of you two. Who wants him first.”

Jungkook knows it’s bad when even the professor has given up on professionalism.

“What are your interests, Jungkook?” Namjoon asks. Jungkook swallows as he turns to the two of them because Seokjin’s staring at him with an unreadable expression that really should come off as politely neutral but has parts of Jungkook’s body reacting in ways that they shouldn’t. His stomach, for one. He’d rather not think about the others.

“Viruses,” he answers.

“What about them?” Seokjin asks curiously and oh no Seokjin’s talking to him stay calm Jungkook say something that makes you look cool don’t panic –

“They kill people.”

… He panicked.

There’s a brief pause in which everyone in the room stares at him and Jungkook wishes to be vaporized on the spot. Then…

“Mine,” Seokjin says cheerfully, and grabs Jungkook’s hand and pulls him from the office.

~

Seokjin pulls him far away from the professor’s lab. Seokjin pulls him into an empty faculty lounge.

“So,” Seokjin says, closing the door and turning to face Jungkook with an unreadable expression on his face. “It’s you.”

“Um,” Jungkook says intelligently. “It’s me.”

Seokjin gives him an evaluating gaze and Jungkook really hopes that bead of sweat he feels gathering at his hairline isn’t going to slide down his neck because that would be highly embarrassing. Then Seokjin smiles and says, “Kim Seokjin. Ph.D candidate for Pharmacognosy.”

“Um,” Jungkook says again hesitantly, unsure if he’s being reprimanded or not. “Jeon Jungkook. Microbiology undergraduate.”

“Well, Jungkook,” Seokjin says, clearing his throat. “Namjoon and I haven’t informed our professor that you broke into our lab to culture E. coli a few days ago, nor do we intend to. We’re graduate students, so we don’t actually give a shit,” he sniffs, crossing his arms. “But we’re your official mentors now, so don’t go sneaking into places you’re not authorized to enter. It gets us in trouble and we don’t have time or the energy to go around bailing your ass out.”

Jungkook snorts. “Trust me, I don’t plan to,” he says. Taehyung still hasn’t bought him his lamb skewers. It’s okay, though - Jungkook’s thinking of creative ways to charge interest. “It was a very one time thing for a very decent reward.”

Seokjin opens his mouth, but closes it and shakes his head. “I don’t wanna know. Come on, I’ll show you around.”

~

“This is the lab you’ll be doing your work in. Culturing, preparation of media, inoculating, and the like,” Seokjin says. He holds his card up to the scanner and it beeps before unlocking the door. “Biosafety Level Two, lab coat and goggles on at all times in here, no phones out and absolutely no food. Clean your station before and after use, always use aseptic technique when working with your microorganisms and remember to sanitize your hands before leaving. Solvents are in the cabinets, biohazard disposal is in the hood, microwave is there, incubators along the side, microscopes stored in the closet… but you’re already familiar with this lab’s layout, aren’t you?” he gives a knowing smirk at Jungkook, who gulps.

“I haven’t the faintest idea of why I would be,” Jungkook says even as he feels the traitorous blush rising up his neck. Seokjin grins and props himself against the counter.

“Right. Few more things. Stay away from that corner of the lab, Namjoon cultures some nasty shit in there,” Seokjin pulls a face. “But his experiments with microorganisms aren’t scheduled to start until after the summer holidays, so you’ll be working with me first, and if Namjoon tells you otherwise tell him to fight me. My project tests the antimicrobial activity of gardenia leaf extracts on common human pathogenic microbes, so you’ll be culturing and maintaining various lines of microorganisms for me and carrying out zones of inhibition tests with the extracts. Think you can handle it?”

Jungkook blinks. “Uh. Yeah.”

Seokjin pushes off from the counter. “Good, then. I’ll speak with the professor about getting you card access to this lab. Officially,” he winks and Jungkook’s stomach does a highly involuntary swoop. “Looking forward to working with you, Jungkook.”

~

Jungkook likes to think he is straight. In fact, he is very straight. Very, very straight. Like, exceedingly straight. Like, straight as a chopstick straight.

His friends, for some reason, don’t believe him.

“Jungkook,” Jimin says, folding his hands and looking at Jungkook very solemnly. “If there’s one thing you do exceptionally well, it’s complaining. Particularly in regards to people in authority. Seokjin became such a person to you a little over twenty four hours ago and yet you haven’t said one bad thing about him. Now, is there something you want to tell us before Taehyung and I forcibly drag it out of you?”

“There’s nothing to complain about,” Jungkook says, looking up from his phone just as Taehyung comes back from reserving them a table at the front counter. “He’s a cool dude.” He looks up after a moment of unusual silence from both Jimin and Taehyung. “What?” he snaps at their stupefied expressions.

“He just… he just complimented someone,” Jimin says, eyes wide.

“So he’s not an asshole, after all,” Taehyung shrugs.

“No, Tae, he just complimented someone!” Jimin shouts, shaking Taehyung by the shoulders. “Voluntarily!”

Taehyung blinks, then recognition dawns in his eyes and then he suddenly starts screaming. “Oh my god!” he yells, his eyes wide as he gawks at Jungkook, then back at Jimin, then back to Jungkook and points a finger at him. “Oh my god!”

“Right?!” Jimin screeches. “It’s about time?!”

“What,” Jungkook says again.

“You like him!” Both of them say at the same time.

What?!” Jungkook splutters for the third time, fumbling his phone and wincing as it drops to the floor and takes the earbud out of his ear with it. “What? I – ”

“Our Jungkookie has a crush!” Jimin squeals (“Don’t call me Jungkookie!”). “Jungkookie likes Seokjin!” Jungkook is painfully aware of how Jimin squeals very loudly. Already many heads in the restaurant are turning to look at them.

“Your table is ready,” the waitress says, coming up to them to lead them to their table. Someone in the restaurant whistles and gives a very red-in-the-face Jungkook a thumbs up as they pass. Taehyung and Jimin exchange smirks and Jungkook has a strong desire to throttle the both of them.

“I do not have a crush on Seokjin,” Jungkook hisses as they sit down. “I am straight. Very straight. As straight as this pair of chopsticks right here.” He holds up his wooden chopsticks for emphasis, then proceeds to break them apart. He fails as one of the two chopsticks snaps cleanly in half.

Jimin and Taehyung share another smirk with each other and Jungkook is reminded once again of how he needs new friends.

~

For the first time Jungkook can remember in his life, Kim Taehyung is at a complete loss for words.

But seeing as Kim Taehyung looks so fragile and utterly destroyed at the moment, Jungkook can’t really bring himself to enjoy it. So he settles for comforting Taehyung, telling him that it’s not the end of the world, he’s gotten low scores last semester when he took this exam too –

“What… what did I just walk out of?” Taehyung whispers, eyes empty as he stares straight ahead without seeing. “That wasn’t… that wasn’t human. It’s not possible.”

“Don’t worry, last time I checked it’s not possible to get a negative score,” Jungkook says encouragingly, before Taehyung’s legs give out beneath him and he collapses onto a nearby bench.

Jimin shows up a few minutes later with one of their emergency comfort bags that they’ve stored away for occasions such as these. “How bad is it?” he whispers to Jungkook.

“Abysmal,” Jungkook hisses back. “GPA-obliterating.”

“I can hear you, you know,” Taehyung snaps.

“There there,” Jimin says comfortingly, taking Taehyung’s backpack off his shoulders and passing around bubble tea, blankets and bars of chocolate. “You’re okay, Taehyung, you survived. Look, you have both your arms and both your legs and your dick intact so you’re absolutely f –”

“I left five pages of the exam blank,” Taehyung says hollowly.

“That’s not… too bad?” Jimin frowns. “How many pages was the whole Organic Chemistry exam?”

“Six,” Jungkook supplies helpfully.

Jimin opens his mouth, then closes it and begins unwrapping the chocolate bars.

~

It’s ass o clock in the morning. The sun hasn’t even fully risen yet and Jungkook’s in lab. A very empty lab. With no one around. The whole situation would seem entirely too familiar if it hadn’t been for Seokjin telling him to come at 7:30.

Jungkook scowls as he checks the offices and finds that not a single faculty member is in yet. He pulls out his phone and sends a text to Seokjin.


From: Jeon Jungkook
April 12, 7:38 AM
You alive?

From: Kim Seokjin
April 12, 7:38 AM
Oh, Jungkook. Are you there already?


From: Jeon Jungkook
April 12, 7:39 AM
Yeah.

From: Kim Seokjin
April 12, 7:39 AM
We’ll be there in ten. The lab went for a Dunkin Donuts run.

 

Jungkook frowns at his screen. Well, thanks for the invite, Kim Seokjin. He’s about to slide the phone back into his pocket when it goes off again.

 

From: Kim Seokjin
April 12, 7:39 AM
We also got you coffee and muffins. If you don’t like blueberry, we can trade.

 

Jungkook blinks. He supposes he can forgive him, if he puts it that way.

~

“So I’ve been thinking,” Taehyung says, banging open the door to Jungkook’s room without so much as a knock or a hello (as Jungkook has lived in the same suite with Taehyung and Jimin for the better part of a year, he is no longer fazed at all by this).

“That’s new,” Jungkook replies tonelessly. He’s glaring at his statistics homework in the hopes that if he puts enough venom into it it’ll do itself, but has so far been sorely disappointed.

“I’ve been thinking,” Taehyung nods impressively. “About our housing situation for next year.”

“What about it?”

“Well,” Taehyung says, leaping nimbly onto Jungkook’s bed and nicking one of Jungkook’s bag of chips from his desk. “We’ve decided to go for the medical student apartments. It’s within walking distance to the labs and everything so we wouldn’t even have to –”

“But we’re not applying to medical school,” Jungkook frowns.

“No,” Taehyung grins slyly. “But the university doesn’t know that. All our majors are science, see? You’re Microbio, I’m Vet Science, and Jimin’s Exercise Science. We basically look like pre-med students. Chip?” he adds, and throws one at Jungkook, who manages to catch it before it makes a mess on the floor.

“Does Jimin know about this?” he asks, popping it into his mouth.

Taehyung snorts as he dives into the bag of chips again. “Jimin and I already applied and got in. We’re just waiting on you. You might want to hurry too, almost all the spots are filled.” He frowns. “Where is Jimin, anyway? He wasn’t in his room.”

“Probably at the gym again,” Jungkook shrugs, flipping open his laptop and opening the housing application page.

“He gyms too much,” Taehyung whines. “Not even you go that often.”

“As opposed to you, sitting around all day and doing nothing,” Jungkook teases. The first (and last) time Taehyung had gone to the gym was the previous year. He had gone very unwillingly and only after many promises of food afterwards. “Except eating,” he throws a dirty look at his suitemate, who has his hand down his bag of chips again.

“My grandma likes me chubby,” Taehyung says through a mouthful of chips. “So I eat.”

Jungkook sighs and resumes filling out his application. He finds it very unfair that Taehyung’s metabolism burns off anything and everything he eats (there was one incident that Jungkook would rather forget where Taehyung had eaten an entire cheesecake in one sitting for a dare and had still come out with a flat, albeit very upset tummy). Jimin, on the other hand, somehow has the self-discipline to live on those strict rabbit food diets bodybuilders stay on, and so Jungkook finds himself the only one of the three who eats like a normal human being.

“Are you done,” Taehyung nags, throwing chips at him from the bed. “Are you done are you done are you done are you done –”

Yes,” Jungkook snaps, filling out the last box and hitting the submit button. “I just finished, happ – not eligible for housing?!”

Taehyung tumbles off the bed to peer at Jungkook’s laptop screen, which is now showing a message that Jungkook’s major is not recognized as a science major by the housing department. “Huh. Weird.”

“Is Microbiology not science?” Jungkook says in outrage. “What do they think it is, a fucking language?”

“Well, Microbiology is a very complicated thing to speak and understand,” Taehyung says, nodding humbly. “Not everyone can –”

“Bullshit,” Jungkook snarls, grabbing his phone. “I’m calling them.”

It takes fives minutes of him interrogating the receptionist on the other end of the line, who’s spouting some bullshit that Microbiology is a new major that the university recently added and that it must have not yet been added to the list of approved majors for the medical student housing.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the lady says. “I know Microbiology is a science just as much as you do, but until the system is updated there is simply nothing I can do. Have a nice day, now.”

And she hangs up on him.

“Did she just hang up on you?” Taehyung asks as Jungkook stares at his phone in disbelief.

“She just hung up on me,” Jungkook says lowly.

“Well,” Taehyung sighs. “You might get normal housing?”

Jungkook doubts it. The apartments are reserved for rising seniors who need “excellent quality of living to focus on their studies and finish their academic careers strong” and the communal dorms with no air conditioning and exploding toilets are left open for incoming freshmen just to strip them of their innocence. He tries anyway (because he lives in Busan and can’t take the commute back and forth to Seoul every day), only to be rejected from all of them almost instantly.

“Oh dear,” Taehyung says worriedly at Jungkook’s slumped figure over his desk. “Well, if it makes you feel better, you can sleep under my bed next year? Or Jimin’s bed, if … you know. There’s nothing growing under there.”

It does not make Jungkook feel better, but he appreciates the consolation chip Taehyung offers him nonetheless.

~

Spring semester is coming to an end, with the weather finally warming up and the prospect of their upcoming final exams looming darkly over them despite the bright sunshine they’re getting. Jimin, Taehyung and Jungkook find themselves reviewing their course materials in the lawns of the Kinesiology courtyards one afternoon; Taehyung sprawled out on his stomach and Jungkook and Jimin leaning against each other back to back and trying to not fall asleep in the warm sunshine and the gentle humming of the bumblebees around them (a difficult feat, as both of them had just come from the gym).

“Do you ever think about the fact that we’re all still miserably single?” Taehyung asks suddenly.

“Taehyung,” Jimin sighs for the fifth time. He throws an index card at him. “Go back to your reaction mechanisms.”

“No seriously,” Taehyung says, rolling onto his side so he can look at them properly. “We’re about to be three fourths of the way done with our undergraduate careers and none of us are even dating!”

“So?” Jungkook says, looking up from the highlighting of his notes. “It’s not like it’s a requirement. One night stands are good enough.”

“We’re all science majors, anyway,” Jimin adds. He sets down his textbook and picks up his carefully drawn diagram of the circulatory system. “We don’t even have the time to date.”

“Not with that attitude, you don’t,” Taehyung sniffs. He sighs and flops onto his back, throwing his arm over his eyes to shield them from the sun. “The only one of us who even has a shot at dating anytime soon is Jungkook.”

“Why me?” Jungkook says flatly, although he sort of already knows the answer.

“Well, you like Seokjin,” Jimin says, grinning before yelping at the jab Jungkook throws at him. “Ah, Jungkook! My abs are sore there! But I think you two would be cute together though, in all seriousness,” he grumbles, rubbing his belly.

“They’ll be the Jinkook couple,” Taehyung says dreamily. “Would totally write fanfic about it. Imagine all the potential smut fic. Seokjin taking him over a lab counter.” His eyes light up. “I’mma write it.”

It’s not entirely a bad idea, Jungkook thinks when he starts chasing a gleefully cackling Taehyung around the courtyard, intent on strangling him. Not the whole him bending over a lab counter for Seokjin thing, but dating someone. He doesn’t really think he’ll mind.

~

Jimin finds him in the library during finals week. The little shit has wrapped up all his finals and is chilling in the dormitories while Taehyung and Jungkook get slow roasted through theirs. Though in about three minutes it’ll just be Jungkook; Taehyung should be getting out of his last exam of the year right about now.

“Hello!” he says brightly to Jungkook, who’s faceplanted into his barely passed practice exam and has no plans of resurfacing anytime soon.

“No,” Jungkook groans.

Jimin pats him on the head. “How are finals?”

“I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Jimin sighs. “Okay, then. Taehyung also told me about your housing situation.”

“I don’t wanna talk about that, either.”

Jungkook looks up blearily after a moment of judgmental silence from Jimin to see him staring unimpressedly at him, his lips pressed in a thin line. He finds he doesn’t care and drops his head back into his book. “Two more,” he moans. “Two more exams and then I can sleep for ten years.”

“Two more exams and a paper,” Jimin corrects. “You still haven’t completed your political science elective yet.”

Jimin, Jungkook decides as he curls up into a ball on the table and covers himself with a blanket, is very unhelpful.

“Sup!” Taehyung says cheerfully two minutes later, sliding into the seat in front of Jungkook. Several students at the table next to them glare at him for being loud. Jungkook doesn’t think Taehyung notices. “Guess who’s done?” Taehyung says just as loudly.

“Not this one,” Jimin says, jerking his head at the Jungkook-shaped lump on the table. “He’s still got Ethics in Biotech, Genetics and a ten page paper that was due last Tuesday.”

“It hurts my heart when you say it like that,” Jungkook whines from under his blanket. Taehyung pats him gently on the butt.

“How was Animal Nutrition?” Jimin asks him.

“Uh. Great? I guessed on like ten questions,” Taehyung shrugs.

“So you got at least ten right,” Jimin rolls his eyes. Taehyung has a knack for getting questions right whenever he guesses; both Jungkook and Jimin are forever bitter that Taehyung had once scored a perfect grade on a multiple choice physics exam he had entirely guessed on. “Lucky bitch.”

“I call it intuition,” Taehyung says sagely.

Hearing all this talk about exams makes Jungkook’s stomach roll. “I’m going to lab for an hour or two,” he sighs, emerging from his cocoon and starting to pack up his things.

“They make you come in in the middle of finals week?” Jimin asks, eyes widening in shock. “Seokjin and Namjoon are so cruel!”

“They’re not making me come in,” Jungkook snaps, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “I just want to finish one of Seokjin’s bacterial groups for him before I leave for the summer holidays.”

Jimin and Taehyung both gape at him.

“You two have got to stop doing that,” Jungkook sighs, reaching over and closing their mouths for them. “It’s unsettling.”

“He’s whipped,” Jimin whispers.

“So whipped,” Taehyung breathes.

Jungkook rolls his eyes and leaves.

~

Seokjin comes into lab while Jungkook’s busy making a new stock of culture media, dragging a yelping Namjoon by the ear with him and looking absolutely murderous.

“Hi, Jungkook!” Seokjin says brightly to the undergrad who’s not sure if he should be calling the police or not. “Unfortunately, you won’t be working with me today, as I no longer have my gardenia extracts for you to test. Kim Namjoon,” he growls, pinching Namjoon’s ear even harder, “would you like to explain why?”

“I… I knocked over the vial of extract in the fridge and broke it,” Namjoon says in a small voice.

“Thank you,” Seokjin says sweetly and releases his colleague. “As compensation, Namjoon will be running leaf extractions for me until he restores every last drop of extract he spilled or until he dies, whichever comes first. But as Namjoon is also a TA for Molecular Genetics Lab and still needs to culture a few plates for his section’s final exam, you’ll be preparing them for him today while he’s busy.”

“Oh…” Jungkook blinks. “Okay.”

“He’ll leave instructions on how to inoculate them,” Seokjin says cheerfully. “And will report to my bench in no more than ten minutes,” he adds with a final glare at the cowed graduate student before storming out of the lab.

“That was wild from start to finish,” Jungkook comments.

“Yeah,” Namjoon grimaces, rubbing his ear as he rummages around the incubators for his stock samples. “Seokjin’s not usually this scary when he’s angry. He’s just a little wound up right now.”

“By what? Me?” Jungkook frowns. His last inoculation had accidentally been a day late and Seokjin’s project had been slightly delayed. Well, now very delayed after Namjoon’s ministrations.

“Nah. Seokjin likes you. But his ex attends the same university, majors in music and all, and he’s been trying to get back with Seokjin lately. He came to Seokjin’s lab this morning and they had a bit of a row.”

“… Oh.” The ex is a he. Seokjin is into guys. Oh. But Jungkook quickly stops whatever his next train of thought is, because Jeon Jungkook is straight. Very straight. Straight as a chopstick straight. “Is he okay?”

“Yeah,” Namjoon says. “Both of them are trying to keep it mature and everything, but the ex is sort of persistent.” He shrugs, holding a vial up to the light. “Right. Now, this broth culture has about three times ten to the eighth cells per mL, but I need my students to be able to visualize individual colonies on the plate. You’re going to have to dilute your samples before plating. Try getting it down to 300 cells per mL.”

Jungkook nods and starts setting up his burner. Namjoon lingers long enough to make sure he has everything he needs, then leaves very quickly to start his extractions. Probably before Seokjin blows a fuse.

He’s just finished one series of plates and is halfway through diluting the second stock solution when a voice behind him goes “How you holding up?”

Jungkook flinches so hard that half the volume he’s pipetting ends up on the counter instead of inside the tube.

“Oops,” Seokjin says apologetically. “Sorry.”

“You messed up my serial dilution,” Jungkook pouts, staring at the spilled broth on the counter. “Uh. That’s safe if it’s spilled, right?”

“It’s okay, it’s not one of his weird antibiotic resistant kinds or anything,” Seokjin says, picking up the stock culture and peering at the label. “Yeah, it’s not.” He picks up the bottle of staphene and sprays down the spill before wiping it up. “Here. I’ll redo it for you.”

Jungkook moves out of the way as Seokjin pulls a new set of test tubes and pipettes and everything towards him and begins the dilution from scratch. He observes a little enviously as Seokjin pipettes everything with confidence to dilute the sample’s concentration, finishing in one minute a job that takes Jungkook three to do (but then again, it’s to be expected, Seokjin’s going for a doctorate).

“All done,” Seokjin says, squirting the diluted sample onto the plate and turning off the burner. “You can put them in the incubator, I’ll clean up.”

“How’s the extraction going?” Jungkook asks, gathering all the plates.

“It’s going,” Seokjin sighs. “The annoying part is having to dry down the methanol, which takes days. I have Namjoon utilizing all the lab’s available rotovaps. He’s not allowed to stand next to them, of course, I wouldn’t put it past him to break something just by staring at it. I should have my new extracts ready for you by next Monday. But that means you won’t have any work to do for the rest of this week…” He frowns, then suddenly lights up. “Tell you what. How about I take you out to a coffee date on Friday?”

“What?” Jungkook blinks, unsure if he’s heard correctly. Coffee date?

“You’ve been helping me a lot,” Seokjin says, smiling. “Finished the tests for all my Streptococcus and Pseudomonas groups and my foodborne illness bacterial lines. Let me treat.”

This is a bad idea. Accepting Seokjin’s offer is heading down a very dangerous path. This is a very, very bad idea.

“Also it’s finals week and you look like you’re going to pass out and die if you don’t get some caffeine in you.”

Well, when he puts it that way…

In retrospect, he tells himself later after promising to meet Seokjin on Friday, it’s not really a bad idea. Spending time with Seokjin. Getting to know him better. It’s not a bad idea at all. How could it possibly be bad, when Jungkook is straight?

~

It’s a terrible idea.

It’s a very terrible idea, because Jungkook is learning more and more about Seokjin and what are these feelings of attraction he’s having while watching Seokjin sip his caramel macchiato this is definitely not normal. He learns that Seokjin had graduated with honors for his undergraduate research on mint essential oils before deciding to pursue his doctorate. Seokjin’s a little shy speaking about himself, though, and the topic of conversation quickly turns to Jungkook.

“Ah, wait till you get to Biochemistry,” Seokjin laughs when Jungkook confides his final exam woes to him. “Namjoon almost didn’t pass. I had to tutor him.”

“You both took that course?” Jungkook asks, taking a swig of his own coffee. It’s very bitter. Kind of like his Ethics in Biotech professor, who wouldn’t give him an extension on his paper.

“Yeah. He was Biotechnology, I was Food Science,” Seokjin shrugs. He opens the door to the Biotechnology building and they walk into the mercifully air conditioned halls. “He decided to go into marine science for biofuels, and I went into medical research.”

“You two seem close.”

“We’re very good friends,” Seokjin says casually. “Met in our undergrad years. Studied together. Partied together. Were occasional fuck buddies from time to – whoa!”

For Jungkook had abruptly fumbled his coffee and spilled it all over his front.

“You alright?” Seokjin asks, setting down his cup and reaching into his backpack for wipes.

“Y-Yeah,” Jungkook stammers, holding his cup out in front of him and trying not to let any more coffee drip on his shirt. Dammit, it’s white, too.

“Too personal?” Seokjin’s lips quirk upward slightly as he hands Jungkook some of his wipes.

“No,” Jungkook says quickly. “I was just surprised, is all. Guess that explains a lot between you and Namjoon, with all the … uh…”

“Yeah, we rough each other up a lot,” Seokjin grins. “But only I can bully Namjoon, I’m the only one who can get away with it. Here, I can get your pants before they stain, if that’s alright.”

“O-Oh!” Jungkook pauses in the furious wiping of his shirt. He normally wouldn’t care if the pants are jeans but today he’s wearing khakis. Like, his only pair of khakis. “Uh. Sure.”

He tries very hard to concentrate on getting the color out of his shirt and not pay attention to how Seokjin’s kneeling in front of him and patting dangerously close to his groin (which is where, as fate would have it, the coffee decided to land) with a wet wipe. He’s patting closer and closer and oh fuck no Jungkook now’s not the time to get a bo –

There’s a gasp at the end of the hallway and both of them look up to see another graduate student frozen in shock, eyes wide as he takes in the sight before him and oh god Jungkook internally facepalms at the compromising position both of them are in right now.

“Hoseok,” Seokjin says warningly. “It’s not what you thi –”

But Hoseok’s books tumble out of his hands as their owner abandons them and runs for the hills, screeching “Blowjobs! Blowjobs in the microscopy wing! Blowjoooooobs!”

“Run,” Seokjin advises.

They run, abandoning their coffees behind them. They dart through the halls, nearly knocking over a poor elderly professor on their way, and only stop when they’re safely hidden in the building’s growth chamber room for plant samples.

“What the hell,” Jungkook gasps, panting for breath, “just happened.”

“Sorry,” Seokjin laughs, also doubled over. “At least we didn’t get caught?”

For a minute there’s nothing but the sound of them panting and the gentle hum of the machines behind them.

“Is uh… that Hoseok gonna be okay?” Jungkook frowns. “He sounded like he was gonna have an aneurysm or something.”

“Hoseok will be just fine,” Seokjin sighs resignedly, straightening up. “Actually, knowing Hoseok and his big mouth, the whole Toxicology department will think I blew you in the hallway by the end of the day.”

“… Uh.”

“It’s my fault,” Seokjin says sheepishly. “I’ll do all the explaining to anyone who asks.”

Jungkook thinks hard, now that he has a chance to fully process what happened. “So like… everyone will think we’re dating or something?” he asks finally. “Or at the very least fucking?”

“Probably, why?”

Jungkook fidgets nervously, opening the door to a growth chamber and closing it when he sees more potted turfgrass than he ever wants to see in his life. An idea is coming to him, a very, very bad idea that he will never admit he thought of if asked in the future, but an idea nonetheless. “What if we… let them?” he says quietly.

Seokjin fixes him with an evaluating gaze, the same one he had given him when they had first met. “Jungkook, what are you thinking of?”

Jungkook swallows because suddenly he’s not so sure, he’s just remembering now that Seokjin’s officially a figure of authority over him and that what he’s suggesting can get him into serious shit, but it’s too late to back out now. “Well,” he begins slowly. “The rumors that’ll spread will seem less… incriminating… if we were… you know… to pretend to date. Like… you know… kissing… obscene public displays of affection…?”

The silence that follows his words is very tense. He’s not making a very good argument.

“Hear me out,” Jungkook blurts, not daring to meet Seokjin’s eyes. “This can help you throw off that problematic ex who keeps trying to –”

“How do you know about my ex?” Seokjin interrupts sharply.

“Um,” Jungkook mumbles, oh god what has he gotten himself into. “Namjoon told me.”

He hopes he hasn’t just sentenced Namjoon to death.

To his surprise, Seokjin hums. “And if, hypothetically, we were to do this, what are you hoping to gain from this, Jungkook?”

Ah. He’s glad Seokjin’s brought that particular topic up. “I have…” Jungkook says carefully, “run into a certain complication with my housing arrangements for next year. Long story short, I’m homeless.”

“You want me to find you someplace to live,” Seokjin deadpans.

“Well… yes.”

Seokjin sighs and straightens up. “I’m given graduate student apartments until the end of next year, which is when I’ll be wrapping up my Ph.D. It’s only meant for one person, but if you pay your share of the rent and promise not to be an asshole of a roommate, I’d be willing to put a roof over your head until then.”

Jungkook blinks. “Wait, does that mean…”

“I’m willing to accept this… proposal of yours,” Seokjin smiles wryly. “I’ll probably regret it later on, but for now it’d be nice to not have my ex dogging me and asking if we can get back together every time we see each other.”

There’s a heartstopping moment where Jungkook finally registers that he’s both obtained housing for next year and a fake boyfriend all in the course the last two minutes. “Okay,” he says.

Seokjin smiles at him. “Looks like we have a lot of things to talk about,” he says. “Didn’t think this was going to happen when I took you out to coffee, I’ll be hones –” he suddenly opens the door to the growth chamber without warning, pointing inside. “Look, Jungkook, don’t you think the light is a little too much for my gardenias?”

“Wh-What?” Jungkook says, bewildered, but at that moment there’s the sound of footsteps before the door handle clicks and Namjoon steps into the room.

“Hey,” he says to the two of them, who are staring resolutely into the chamber. “Did you hear Hoseok screaming?”

“When is Hoseok not screaming?” Seokjin asks irritably, leaning further into the chamber. “Jungkook, mark the temperature of the chamber on your phone for me, please.”

“He was shouting something about you giving Jungkook a blowjob,” Namjoon frowns as Jungkook pulls out his phone.

“Well, Hoseok is an idiot. Jungkook’s my boyfriend but I never blew him in the middle of a university building,” Seokjin says lightly.

“Boyfriend?” Namjoon squawks, eyes going wide as he fumbles his clipboard and it clatters to the ground. “Since when?”

Seokjin retreats from the chamber and glares at Namjoon. “How’s my extraction going?”

Namjoon swallows, wisely picks up his clipboard and retreats from the room, closing the door quickly behind him.

“That was close,” Seokjin sighs, shutting the chamber door. “I don’t actually care about the temperature,” he adds gently, and Jungkook lowers his phone.

“Good cover,” he says, unsure of what to say.

Seokjin gives him a small smile. “We’ll talk later, then,” he says. “Good luck on the rest of your finals.” He leans forward and whispers, “Can I? For practice?” Jungkook nods, his head spinning. Seokjin pecks Jungkook softly on the lips before leaving the chamber room.

Jungkook stands there for a long time afterwards, staring ahead into nothing. It would seem, he reflects, that in his proposal of the whole idea of fake dating (which oh god, involves fake kissing and fake touching and fake everything) he had momentarily forgotten that he is straight.

~

News that Jungkook and Seokjin are a thing now spreads like wildfire. Namjoon now tends to accidentally drop whatever he’s holding when he sees Jungkook and Seokjin in the same room together, and even their advisor throws a sly grin over at them once in a while. Seokjin’s fellow colleagues pop into their lab during their breaks in the hopes of meeting the guy who’s managed to catch his attention. Jungkook’s already met half of the Biotechnology department and all of Toxicology before the week is over. He sighs internally. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before…

“So,” Taehyung corners Jungkook in his room a few days later, “straight as a chopstick, huh?”

… Taehyung is notified.

“Not now, Taehyung,” Jungkook moans into his Genetics textbook. It’s his last final before he’s free for the summer holidays. “Unless you’re willing to explain the principles of multiple crossovers don’t talk to me. And how did you even find out?”

“My mentor’s friends with Seokjin,” Taehyung grins. “Now spill. Did you guys have sex over the lab counter yet?”

Jungkook lobs three highlighters at Taehyung and his suitemate scampers, cackling.

~

They don’t meet for a while. Jungkook’s last final exam is mere hours before the university closes for the summer and his dormitory kicks him out and off campus and back to Busan before he can properly say goodbye to Seokjin.

“He’ll understand,” Jimin says to Jungkook as they’re waiting at the train station, with Jungkook anxiously fiddling with the strings of his backpack. “There’s also this thing called a phone. Heard it’s kinda useful for getting in touch with people nowadays.”

“Send him a dick pic,” Taehyung says helpfully.

Jungkook closes his eyes and laments the fact that he has to spend the next two and a half hours on a train with these two.

He does call Seokjin eventually though, and they agree that it’s better to not spend too much energy maintaining their façade during the summer, especially since Seokjin’s ‘payment’ to Jungkook doesn’t start until the fall semester.

“I do fully intend to use the boyfriend card next year,” Seokjin says over the phone one night. Jungkook’s having a conversation with him while preparing to go to bed. Just like a real couple, Jungkook thinks with a scoff. “At the very least to steal you away from Namjoon. I’m a little jealous about having to share you with him in the lab now.”

There’s a faint “hey!” in the background and Jungkook’s laughter cuts off abruptly. “Are you with Namjoon right now?” he asks.

“Hmm? Yeah, we’re still in the lab,” Seokjin sighs. “Namjoon needs to take measurements every hour for the next ten hours and I’m making sure he doesn’t fall asleep and miss them.”

Jungkook looks at the clock and grimaces as he strips his shirt off and drops into bed. It’s almost two in the morning. “Oh.”

“Science,” Seokjin grumbles, before there’s a rustle and he makes a questioning sound. Jungkook hears Namjoon murmuring in the background that he’s going to take the next set of measurements.

“Jungkook and I are gonna talk smack about you while you’re gone!” he hears Seokjin call after him before there’s a muted crash and a thud.

“What happened?” Jungkook pauses in the ruffling of his bedsheets.

“Namjoon tripped over a trash can,” Seokjin replies. “But he’s okay. He left. But yes,” he clears his throat. “My projects over his.”

“I’ll always be biased towards yo – your projects, don’t worry,” Jungkook assures him, stifling a yawn as he falls back against his pillow. It’s not a lie. He’s familiarized himself with Namjoon’s projects and found himself not as interested in them as he is Seokjin’s.

There’s a soft chuckle on the other end, then Seokjin says, “we should get to know each other more, you know? Like real couples do.”

Jungkook pulls a face. He hates telling people about himself. “I suppose. Like stuff like what your favorite color is?”

“We can start with that,” Seokjin hums. “It’s pink.”

Jungkook blinks. “That’s interesting.”

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Oh,” Jungkook replies. “Um. Red?”

“Okay,” Seokjin says, and there’s a slight pause and Jungkook hears a faint scratching on the other end of the line is he writing it down? “Favorite food?”

“Food?” Jungkook frowns. “Uh…”

It goes on like that for the next half an hour, until Jungkook’s eyelids are drooping and he’s slurring his words and he passes out to the sound of Seokjin’s voice in his ear.

He wakes up the next morning to a nearly dead phone and three text messages. One’s from Jimin, announcing that Taehyung’s coming over from Daegu and to get his ass over to his house asap. The other two are from Seokjin, with one saying “what a lousy boyfriend, leaving me alone with Namjoon like this” followed by a “good night” and a kissy lips emoji.

He rolls his eyes, sends back an apology text, and wonders vaguely what he should eat for breakfast. A year of living with Jimin and Taehyung has taught him that it takes energy to be in their combined presence and that skipping the first meal of any day involving them is asking for trouble.

~

The next time Jungkook meets up with Seokjin is when he’s dragging his shit into his apartment.

“This is meant for one person?” he asks incredulously, peering around the dormitory. The living room is bigger than his entire suite bedroom and Seokjin has a dining room what kind of graduate student needs a dining room? Like, a whole room dedicated for eating? He’d be surprised if the meals were anything more than a bowl of ramen.

“Yeah,” Seokjin sighs, taking one of Jungkook’s bags off his hands. “It’s big but I don’t use half of it. Though it comes in handy when Namjoon stays too late and crashes.”

“When he…?”

“We help each other with research a lot,” Seokjin shrugs. “It’s an old habit from our undergraduate years. This is the bathroom, by the way.” He opens the door in the hallway.

Whatever bags Seokjin’s left him to carry tumble out of Jungkook’s hands as he takes in the bathroom. “I want to be a grad student,” he says in a pained voice as he takes in the splendor. The bathroom has a Jacuzzi. A fucking Jacuzzi. “I want to live in luxury.”

“You don’t want to be a grad student,” Seokjin grimaces. “Organic Chemistry’s just a warm up compared to the classes you’ll be taking. And the research? Forget it.”

“Can I use this tonight?” Jungkook asks in an awed voice, putting his hand reverently on the Jacuzzi.

“Sure, if it’s not broken,” Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Namjoon’s been bathing here for a week already.”

“Why? Doesn’t he have his own Jacuzzi?”

“I didn’t ask for details,” Seokjin says, walking out of the bathroom. “I just know he somehow disabled the plumbing system for his entire level while cleaning his kitchen.”

Jungkook spends the better part of the afternoon unpacking his things and situating his living quarters. Seokjin helps him, maneuvering the furniture in the room around so Jungkook has a place to store his belongings. They can only free up only a third of the closet for his clothes, but Jungkook’s not too fussed; his wardrobe is small and its variety even smaller, eliminating the need for any fussy organization of colors or the like.

Despite the luxurious feel of the apartment, the fact that it is only meant for one person really hits Jungkook when he finds out that there’s only one bed. Granted, a queen sized bed fit for the two of them despite how big Seokjin is, but one bed nonetheless.

“There’s enough space for the both of us,” Seokjin says, correctly reading the expression on Jungkook’s face. “But if you’re not comfortable with it, we can set up a mattress in the –”

“No, it’s fine,” Jungkook shakes his head. “Couples… couples usually sleep together.”

“Right,” Seokjin says, blinking. “Right.”

~

Dinner that evening is not a particularly big affair, but it’s the best food Jungkook’s had in a long time. Seokjin really knows how to cook and the undergraduate has finally tasted proper food and he’s never going back.

Namjoon comes over to eat too; apparently it’s an ongoing thing for Seokjin to feed him since a series of explosions and rapidly extinguished fires had long ago lost Namjoon his rights (mandated officially by the university housing department, no less) to create anything in a kitchen using fire. This doesn’t leave poor Namjoon many options.

It’s okay, though, Seokjin’s training him in how to cook without blowing anything up and Namjoon has recently mastered the art of not microwaving metal spoons.

“So tomorrow’s our first day,” Seokjin says later that night when they’re in bed. Seokjin’s mulling over a scientific paper on microbial antibiotic resistance mechanisms and Jungkook is tapping diligently away at his laptop.

“Hmm?” Jungkook looks up, pausing in trying to reschedule one of his courses. 8:15 AM Physics classes are nice and all, but no.

“Our first day of fake dating,” Seokjin says. “In lab, at least.”

“Oh, right,” Jungkook says, turning back his laptop screen. There’s a very nice open section for the course that’s at 2 PM, but its recitation is on a Friday evening and he’s not sure how he feels about that. “We should do something cute, like culture Serratia marcescens to spell out “I love you” on a plate.”

There’s a moment of awkward silence from Seokjin and Jungkook looks up. “You didn’t,” he sighs.

“It was Namjoon’s idea,” Seokjin sniffs, turning away and tossing the paper onto his desk. “He said it would be appropriately nerdy. And the bacteria was going to get thrown out, anyway.”

“Right,” Jungkook says, closing his laptop. He’ll deal with his scheduling later when he’s not tired and sore from moving in. “Well, I’m going to sleep. Organic Chemistry office hours begin tomorrow.” He doesn’t know what possessed him to accept the offer from the Chemistry department to become a teacher’s assistant for the course. He does get paid, though. And gets to watch Taehyung suffer. Yes. He gets paid to watch Taehyung suffer. That’s probably it.

“Ah, the benzene chapters,” Seokjin grins. “Good luck. It’s a wild ride, but eventually you find that some of the material resonates with you.”

Jungkook smacks him in the face with a pillow before shutting off the light.

Seokjin’s already gone when he wakes up in the morning (Jungkook’s first class is at eleven and he refuses to rise earlier than is strictly necessary), but he indeed enters the lab later to see three plates of Serratia marcescens on his bench, the words “I,” “Love,” and “You” written with the red pigmented bacteria across them. He has to give Seokjin credit; he’s even drawn little hearts around each of the words. With a loop, that’s hard to do.

“Oh, there you are,” Namjoon says, peeking his head into the lab. “I’ve got lines that need subculturing, we can start on them when you’re ready. Also, nice plates,” he gives a shit eating grin at the intern.

“Don’t act like you didn’t suggest this atrocity,” Jungkook snorts, setting Seokjin’s plates back on the counter.

But he waits until Namjoon has left the lab before he takes out his phone (which is breaking the rules – the cultures are of human pathogens – but Jungkook’s done that before, hasn’t he?) and snaps a picture of them. As much as he’ll never admit it to anyone (least of all to Jimin or Taehyung), the Microbiology major in him has always dreamed of receiving this sort of romantic gift.

~

“So let me get this straight,” Jimin says from his bed, where he’s trying hard not to move in order to not let the slices of tomato dipped in salt and mayonnaise slip off his face. Someone (Jungkook rather suspects Taehyung) had convinced him it’s a good remedy for stress pimples. Jungkook just thinks it’s a waste of tomato. “You have a fucking Jacuzzi?”

“Be jealous,” Jungkook crows.

“I am jealous,” Jimin moans. “We don’t get a Jacuzzi, instead we get life sized models of the human skeleton in our communal lounges! And you even pay less rent than Taehyung and I do.”

“True, but I only get half a bed, half a room, half an everything.”

“And a complimentary boyfriend,” Jimin reminds him. “With all the snuggles and cuddles.”

Fake boyfriend, Jungkook corrects internally, but he settles for “gross.”

Jimin rolls over and opens his mouth, but curses when the tomato falls off his face into his sheets. “Ah, dammit. These were just laundered.”

“Your fault,” Jungkook snorts. He turns back to Taehyung’s notes that he had stolen and tries to figure out for the second time the easiest way to explain how exactly these two resonant structures are the same molecule. Because they’re like… not. He’s starting to think Taehyung copied this down wrong.

“Hey.”

“Hmm?”

“You really like Seokjin, don’t you?”

“What?” Jungkook looks up. “Yeah. Of course. Why?”

“I mean, you’ve just been… so adamant about your supposed heterosexuality all this time. And now you’re dating him… it’s just kinda sudden.”

Jimin’s looking at him with a very rare serious expression on his face that he almost never wears; the last time Jungkook’s seen him like this had been when Taehyung had gone through a particularly nasty breakup with a frat boy who had cheated on him and Jimin had been contemplating legal methods of physical torture even though Taehyung had insisted again and again that he was fine. It is times like these that Jungkook is uncomfortably reminded that Jimin is uncommonly skilled at reading people.

“Things change,” Jungkook says evasively, turning back to the notes in front of him. “Taehyung definitely copied this down wrong, I don’t think it’s possible for a carbon to have three double bonds coming off of it…”

He’s glad Jimin lets the matter drop, but even as his friend flees to save himself from being tainted by Organic Chemistry material, he’s left questioning himself. But this whole thing is fake, anyway. He’s not really dating Seokjin, and Jungkook’s not really gay. Of course it would seem weird to Jimin, who thinks this is all real. Jungkook sighs internally and just has to keep reminding himself that it’s not.

~

“I’m giving up on science,” Taehyung declares as they step out of the lecture hall. “I’m going to move to Jeju and sell oranges for the rest of my life. Make it the family business.”

“Come on, it wasn’t that bad,” Jungkook muses. “The Diels Alder reaction is actually pretty simpl –”

“And oranges are good,” Taehyung presses on, without giving any indication he had heard Jungkook. “People like them because they’re healthy and have high amounts of Vitamin C and the ones at Jeju are particularly –”

“Yo!”

Jimin promptly leaps out of the crowd of students at them, cutting off Taehyung’s rant on oranges as he flies into him and nearly bowls him over. “Whassup?”

“Your fat head,” Taehyung moans, clutching his nose. “Just crashed into my face.”

“It did it with love,” Jimin says, before beaming at Jungkook. “I just got out of work! What are you guys up to?”

“I have lab in twenty minutes,” Taehyung sniffs, checking his nose for blood. “On the other end of campus. Goodbye.”

“You should go after him,” Jungkook says, frowning at Jimin as Taehyung waddles off a little disorientedly. “You did just accidentally headbutt him in the face.”

“He’ll be fine,” Jimin shrugs and turns to walk with Jungkook. “He can consider it payback for the tomato thing. My face flaked for like, a whole day afterwards.”

“That’s your fault,” Jungkook groans. “If you had just looked up basics of skincare science like I had told you to, then –”

But he breaks off as both of them see Seokjin at the end of the hallway, waiting for him with a gentle smile on his face and a package of food in his hands.

I want a boyfriend,” Jimin hisses into Jungkook’s ear as they approach him. “I want a boyfriend who pays half my rent and picks me up after class and brings me food.”

“Hi,” Seokjin says, stepping forward and kissing him on the forehead. “How was lecture?”

“It was fine,” Jungkook grins. Sitting through Organic Chemistry lectures as a teacher’s assistant instead of as a student is so much fun (especially when he gets to watch Taehyung writhe in despair). “This is Jimin, by the way.”

“So this is the infamous Jimin,” Seokjin smiles, reaching out to shake Jimin’s hand. “Jungkook’s told me a lot about you.”

“Uh, has he?” Jimin laughs nervously, and Jungkook’s pleased to see a tiny bead of sweat break out on his forehead. “Nice to meet you too.”

“You got me kimbap!” Jungkook says in surprise, peering into the bag.

“Yeah,” Seokjin rolls his eyes, hitching his backpack higher on his shoulder. “It was a bitch to make too, so eat it all.”

“Wait, you made it?” Jungkook asks, looking up at Seokjin with wide eyes. He doesn’t deserve homemade kimbap. He doesn’t deserve Seokjin.

Jimin sighs wistfully. “I want a boyfriend,” he says again, giving the kimbap in Jungkook’s hands a look of deep longing. “Who will cook for me, kiss me, love me unconditionally –”

“Sup.”

Jimin breaks off, eyes going the size of dinner plates as another graduate student saunters up to them.

“Hey, Yoongi,” Seokjin greets him. “What are you doing in the science classrooms?”

“Believe me, I am not here willingly,” Yoongi grumbles, readjusting his laptop under his arm and pushing up his glasses. “I have a message from Taekwoon. His plant samples died and he asked me to blame Jaehwan for him. Or give him a ‘preliminary roasting,’ in his words.”

“Okay, so why are you telling me?”

“Because you know Jaehwan and can pass on said roasting and thus my responsibility for it ends right here,” Yoongi says simply. “Also, you were invited to Hakyeon’s party this weekend, right?”

“Right.”

“Just know that Hyosang is going before you decide if you want to go or not,” Yoongi says gruffly.

“I’m not afraid of seeing Hyosang,” Seokjin says, narrowing his eyes.

“No, but information never hurt,” Yoongi shrugs. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just proctored a recitation quiz for Calculus and fuckin’ half my students submitted them blank and I am going to find Hoseok for alcohol. Will probably be sober again by tomorrow afternoon. Don’t look for me.”

“Bye,” Seokjin grunts, and Yoongi slouches off.

“Oh my god,” Jimin squeaks and grabs Jungkook’s arm, his eyes trailing after Yoongi’s departing figure. “Oh my god I’m going to enroll myself into Calculus bye.”

Jungkook doesn’t even have the chance to inform Jimin that he’s already taken and passed Calculus two years ago before the exercise science major disappears, leaving a trail of dust behind him.

“He likes Yoongi?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow.

“It would seem so,” Jungkook rolls his eyes and starts walking to find a table so he can eat his kimbap; he hasn’t eaten anything since breakfast. “Who’s Hyosang, by the way?”

“He’s the ex,” Seokjin says.

“Oh.”

“He’s not a bad person,” Seokjin sighs as they sit down on a bench outside the campus center. “We just ended it on kind of bad terms. I wasn’t really good at telling him what I wanted and he got the wrong idea. I don’t think I’m really good at communicating in general,” he admits, giving a sad smile at Jungkook. “Sometimes that throws a wrench into my relationships.”

Jungkook rather thinks Seokjin had effectively communicated the other day exactly how much of Namjoon’s dick he would slice off if the extractions weren’t done by Sunday but he’s not about to argue.

“So are you going?” he asks, popping the first kimbap into his mouth. He closes his eyes and holds back a low moan of appreciation at the taste.

“Me? Where?”

“The party, dummy,” Jungkook says, picking up a second one and nudging the box over to Seokjin so he can eat, too.

“Haven’t thought about it,” Seokjin shrugs. “I was thinking I could use the weekend to sleep for once, you know?”

Jungkook pauses in his chewing thoughtfully before he swallows. “Yoongi said Hyosang’s going to be there,” he says slowly.

Seokjin raises an eyebrow at him. “Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?”

“It’s just an idea,” Jungkook says hastily. “It’d be a good chance to show Hyosang you’re not available, but if you’d rather sleep because like, I know your research is really draining, even more now because I’m splitting my time for Namjoon’s projects, too…” He’s rambling. He doesn’t usually ramble. “I mean, we don’t have to… it’s just that I’m sort of living in luxury now for a rather cheap price and so I want to make sure I hold up my end of the bargain well, you know?”

Seokjin’s staring at him, his lips quirking upward more and more as Jungkook fidgets and blathers, but he finally laughs and says, “Hardcore. How good are you at kissing?”

Jungkook’s rambling cuts off immediately. “Uh.”

~

So that’s how Jungkook finds himself being pressed up against the wall of his own apartment making out with Seokjin to practice before Hakyeon’s party.

“You have to actually reciprocate, Jungkook,” Seokjin smiles against his lips, “for this to look real.”

Jungkook thinks he’s insane. No, he’s definitely insane. He must be insane for suggesting this whole idea in the first place.

But here he is, with Seokjin’s mouth on his own and he’s not doing anything except standing there like an ice statue and something finally clicks and Jungkook suddenly starts giving back, pushing back against Seokjin’s lips and tongue and –

“Better,” Seokjin breathes, and Jungkook gasps as he brings his arms around Seokjin’s neck and pulls him closer. “You’re getting better.”

Jungkook can’t help the accidental moan he releases when Seokjin’s tongue slips back into his mouth, but he does remind himself that he’s straight. As long as he knows this, he’ll be fine.

Sort of.

~

“I can’t believe you thought to come to Jimin for fashion advice,” Taehyung says flatly.

“Listen,” Jungkook snaps defensively, riffling through Taehyung’s closet. “Just because Jimin likes men doesn’t mean –”

“No, I can’t believe you came to Jimin for fashion advice,” Taehyung groans, rolling over onto his bed. “You do realize he’s dressed in nothing but sweatpants and workout clothes his entire life, right? Like, he practically came out of the womb with a barbell in his hand. You’re going to go to the party looking like a gym rat.”

“Nothing wrong with looking like a gym rat,” Jimin yells from the kitchen, where they hear him rummaging through their stash of snacks. Probably throwing out anything that’s over 200 calories. “At least Jungkook’s not going to go to the party looking like he just came out of a fruit blender like you do!”

“Rude!” Taehyung hollers back, picking at his sweater, which is littered with holes that he had cut out himself. “These clothes are haute couture! He didn’t mean that, baby,” he adds, stroking his sleeve lovingly. “Jimin just doesn’t understand.”

Jungkook gives up on both of them and steals a button up from Taehyung’s closet for the evening. It, thankfully, does not have a single hole in it.

~

“Nervous?” Seokjin asks as they approach the house. Already they can hear the music and smell the weed. There’s someone throwing up on the sidewalk as her friend helps her stagger home.

“What? No, of course not,” Jungkook scoffs, crinkling his nose as they pass them. “It’s not the first college party I’ve been to.”

“It’s the first one you’ve went to with a guy as your date,” Seokjin smiles. “Ready?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook rolls his eyes, although his heart gives a traitorous jump when Seokjin takes his hand in his and pulls him into the house.

Jungkook himself has never really been a huge fan of parties. They’re useful when he wants free alcohol and/or a hookup, but he’s not really stoked about the dancing and grinding and being in the middle of a lot of drunken people, especially having to talk to said drunken people.

But alas, societal rules are societal rules so he at least makes an effort.

“Hello, Doctor Cha Hakyeon,” Seokjin says, grinning at a man lounging on a sofa and attempting to comfort someone next to him. “Congratulations on the Ph.D.”

“Hey, Seokjin,” Hakyeon says, smiling up at him. “Don’t talk about Ph.D’s right now,” he says, motioning to the man at his side. “Taekwoon’s a little upset at the moment.”

“Months and months of work,” Taekwoon moans into his hands. He pauses and tosses back a shot before continuing. “Months and months of careful monitoring and care all down the drain.”

“I told you to just buy the forget-me-nots instead of grow them,” Hakyeon sighs. “You’re only interested in their alkaloid levels, anyway.”

“And you were right,” Taekwoon wails, hiccupping a little. “What was I thinking? Doing a side project on their developmental physiology because my professor was just curious and now all my samples are gone, all gone…”

“What happened to them?” Seokjin asks, pulling Jungkook onto the sofa with him.

“Uh,” Hakyeon frowns and tries to pull another shot of alcohol out of Taekwoon’s hands. “I’m not really sure what happened, but apparently Jaehwan accidentally fumigated all of them.”

“… Ah,” Seokjin pulls a face. “Jaehwan.”

“Jaehwan,” Hakyeon nods sagely as Taekwoon hiccups pitifully. “This your boyfriend?” he asks, grinning at Jungkook.

“Yea,” Seokjin says, placing an arm around Jungkook’s waist and pulling him closer.

“Jungkook,” Jungkook introduces himself, shaking Hakyeon’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Hakyeon says. “He’s also your intern, isn’t he?” he adds to Seokjin. “Little bit of lab fraternization, don’t you think?” He winks playfully at Jungkook.

Seokjin rolls his eyes. “I’m not the one who signs his paychecks. And he’s also Namjoon’s intern. Namjoon’s been trying to steal him from me in the lab, the conniving snake.”

Hakyeon hums. “If I were doing Namjoon’s projects, I would steal him, too. I still remember when I had to share Sanghyuk. You know. On the three occasions when he actually showed up. Good times.”

“I want an intern,” Taekwoon sighs dejectedly. “I want an intern to do all my dirty work so I can sit in my office and write my dissertation instead of going to the greenhouses and harvesting petals from my flowers one by one –”

“Stop drinking so much,” Hakyeon scolds him. “How are we going to have sex later if you’re piss drunk? Consent is important, you know.”

Seokjin evidently takes that as their cue to leave and politely excuses the both of them.

“Alcohol is in the kitchen!” Hakyeon calls after them cheerfully. “In the fridge. Wonsik should have restocked it recently, so… if you can’t find any just let me know!”

“Hakyeon just finished his Ph.D in Nutritional Science,” Seokjin tells Jungkook as they make their way to the kitchen. “Did a project on increasing nutrient bioavailability in banana milk or something.”

“Ah,” Jungkook says weakly as Seokjin ferrets around the fridge. Here are people doing projects on antimicrobial properties of flowers, production of bioenergy from marine organisms, forget-me-not alkaloids and banana milk nutrition, and meanwhile Jungkook still sometimes forgets the difference between anisole and aniline. “That’s impressive.”

“You’ll get there one day, too,” Seokjin says, smiling and handing him a bottle. “And will probably regret it immensely but someday it’ll be worth it.”

Jungkook pulls a face. He doesn’t think he wants to go any further than a Masters, especially now after seeing the work Seokjin and Namjoon both have to do.

“Yo, Seokjin!” someone shouts behind them.

They run into person after person, all of who Seokjin knows and Jungkook doesn’t; he’s beginning to think this party is really for graduate students and people who have already earned their doctorates.

“That’s Jessica,” Seokjin says, pointing to a stunningly beautiful woman who’s laughing with a group of other ladies, all of whom are holding moscatos. “She finished her doctorate in Cosmetic Science, developed a new synthesis technology for geranyl acetate that can be used for perfumes. And that there is her friend Tiffany, who discovered a compound from lily pollen that can be used in makeup.”

“Oh,” is all Jungkook says, tipping back his bottle of alcohol again.

He loses track of how many people they meet. Seokjin, to his credit, never fails to introduce Jungkook, and many of his older friends coo and call Jungkook cute (something Jungkook never wants to be called again as long as he lives).

“Fresh meat in science. He’ll lose his innocence soon enough,” some guy named Jongdae had said, giving Jungkook an unsettling Cheshire cat grin before getting smacked in the head by his colleague, Joonmyun.

Jungkook spots Yoongi curled up taking a nap in the corner a while later, and asks Seokjin if Yoongi works in a lab, too.

Yoongi?” Seokjin laughs. “Yoongi studied Computer Science when he was an undergraduate, and hates the life sciences with every fiber of his being. We only know each other because we were roommates once. But yeah, don’t talk science around him or he’ll rip you a new one.”

Jungkook doesn’t blame him; he’s already blanching at the thought of his Organic Chemistry Lab recitation quiz on Monday. So he knocks back more alcohol.

Seokjin pulls him aside an hour later.

“See the guy behind me? Brown hair, snapback.”

“Mhm?”

“That’s Hyosang,” Seokjin says. “Jin Hyosang.”

Jungkook peers around his shoulder to evaluate this Jin Hyosang. He’s not as intimidating as he had thought he’d be; he actually looks quite friendly. It’s probably the alcohol talking, though. He turns back to the graduate student in front of him. “Uh. Wanna kiss?” he asks bluntly.

“You catch on fast,” Seokjin smirks, and Jungkook leans in.

His first thought is that their public display of affection is absolutely disgusting and he fervently hopes Hyosang notices them so they can stop this atrocity as soon as possible, but Seokjin makes a little grunt into his mouth and Jungkook suddenly forgets his second thought. He eventually vaguely registers Hyosang in his peripheral peering curiously at them, registers his raised eyebrow but the gentle smile on his lips, registers his look of resignation before he turns away.

Heart soaring with triumph, Jungkook makes to break away, but Seokjin just holds on tighter and kisses him more insistently in response. And Jungkook decides that they don’t really… have to stop at the moment.

They don’t stop for a very long time.

Jungkook wakes up the next day in bed with Seokjin and a slight hangover. He immediately sits up in alarm, lifting the blankets and feeling relieved when he sees both of them are still clothed, even if he did fall asleep in his skinny jeans. He then looks over at Seokjin, who’s still passed out against his pillow, eyebags prominent but face peaceful. Jungkook can hear him breathing. It’s deep, untroubled. It’s the first time Jungkook’s ever seen Seokjin like this; his apartment-mate is always up before he is.

Something inside his stomach gives a weird, uneasy pang and Jungkook shakes his head. It’s probably the alcohol.

~

Namjoon sets Jungkook on fire a few days later.

In retrospect, maybe a few warning bells should have gone off in Jungkook’s head when he sees Namjoon setting up his apparatus (more importantly, his apparatus involving a Bunsen burner) on the counter next to him. But then again, as Jungkook is currently in the middle of sketching his field of vision in the microscope for Namjoon instead of working with flammable chemicals, he thinks he’ll be okay.

He just doesn’t expect Namjoon to light his burner and for a very high flame to come out through the side of it rather than the top.

There’s a burst of searing heat near his wrist and Jungkook jerks his head back from the microscope to see his sketch going up in flames and his lab coat sleeve over his right arm on fire.

“Uh,” he says, blinking.

What the fuck, Namjoon!” Seokjin screams, yanking Jungkook away from the counter to the nearby emergency shower as the other graduate student scrambles to shut off the gas. “You just lit my boyfriend on fire!”

“Get him under the shower!” Namjoon yells frantically, but he’s barely finished his sentence when Seokjin yanks the lever and Jungkook is deluged in a spray of cold water. There’s a slight hissing as the flame on his sleeve is extinguished immediately, but Seokjin keeps the water running until he’s absolutely sure nothing on Jungkook is still burning.

“You alright?” he asks as the spray shuts off, leaving Jungkook sopping wet and dripping all over the floor. “Did you get burned?” He rolls up Jungkook’s burnt sleeve to inspect his hand, his wrist, his arm.

“I’m fine,” Jungkook replies, then gives a violent shiver. He’s never noticed how cold the lab is before since he always had a lab coat on, but now that he’s soaked to the bone it’s freezing. His teeth are already starting to chatter.

Seokjin doesn’t say another word, taking Jungkook’s hand and dragging him out of the lab, shouting at Namjoon to not fucking touch anything until he gets back, especially not that Bunsen burner.

“Dear me, what on earth happened?” their professor says, looking up in shock as Seokjin pulls Jungkook past her bench into his office.

“Basic combustion,” Seokjin replies tersely.
“Was it Namjoon?” the professor sighs wearily.

“Yes, but he accidentally used a malfunctioning burner,” Seokjin says, starting to pull Jungkook’s dripping lab coat off of him. “Jungkook and I are going home early today, I’ll email you my dissertation draft later tonight.”

“Hand it in tomorrow, if you need,” the professor says, shaking her head and putting down her notebook. “I’ll check on Namjoon.”

Seokjin closes the door to his office as the professor steps out of the lab. “I have some spare clothes in the drawer here,” he says, leaning down and pulling one open. “They may be a little big on you, but at least they’re dry. Here, let me help.”

It’s a bit of an awkward struggle at first, but they manage to shimmy Jungkook out of his wet clothes and into Seokjin’s dry ones. The sweater he’s in is oversized and baggy on him (especially since Seokjin has shoulders wide enough to land an airplane on) and smells like ink and manila folders, but Jungkook doesn’t really mind that much. He sort of likes it, actually.

“Here,” Seokjin says, sitting Jungkook down at his desk and turning on the water boiler in the corner. “I’m going to make you a cup of tea, and then we’re going straight home and going to bed.”

“I’m not delicate,” Jungkook begins to protest, but he stops at a look from Seokjin.

“You were just set on fire,” he says, narrowing his eyes and ripping open the tea bag with more force than necessary.

“I’m not hurt. And it was an accident,” Jungkook says, bunching his sleeves together at the hands. “You’re not going to stay mad at Namjoon, are you?”

“I’m always mad at Namjoon,” Seokjin sighs. He rolls Namjoon’s chair over and collapses on it. “I… I just got scared for you, that’s all.”

Jungkook’s quiet, but thankfully the sound of boiling water then fills the silence. Seokjin had been scared for him. Well of course, Seokjin’s his mentor and he is Seokjin’s intern and Seokjin’s probably liable if Jungkook kicks the bucket under his guidance, and even if that weren’t the case Jungkook admits he would be pretty scared for anyone who’s been lit on fire. But even so, he’s touched.

Namjoon pokes his head into the room a minute later to apologize profusely to Jungkook and ask if he’s okay. He’s waved off by both Jungkook and Seokjin (in a more annoyed fashion by the latter) after being assured that Jungkook is indeed unharmed.

“I can stay and do more work today,” Jungkook says as Seokjin hands him a pink mug filled with steaming tea. “I’m fine, Seokjin, really.”

“Even so,” Seokjin says wearily, putting his head in his hands and sighing. “You can’t work in the lab until they clean up all the water; it’s a safety hazard.”

“Oh.”

“You should have known that,” Seokjin says sternly, but the gentle smile on his face takes the sting out of the reprimand. “You completed lab safety training online before working under me.”

Jungkook hides his blush in his mug. “I might have uh… just… skimmed it.”

“God,” Seokjin gives an exasperated laugh. “I’m working with two safety hazards now, it seems.”

Jungkook shrugs and continues sipping his tea. He can’t really argue with that, given today’s events.

He washes out the mug in the faculty lounge when he’s done and returns the mug to Seokjin. “Thanks,” he says. “You know. For this.”

Seokjin deposits the mug back on his shelf and smiles at his intern. “Let’s go home, yeah?”

And he leans forward and kisses Jungkook on the forehead as the office door shuts behind them.

They had been alone in the office, Jungkook frowns as they leave the building. Seokjin didn’t have to kiss him. There was no reason to. He wonders why Seokjin did it.

He also has to seriously ponder why he doesn’t mind.

~

Jungkook awakens with a jolt later that night. He blinks, slowly coming to and taking in his surroundings; the apartment is quiet and the digital clock on Seokjins’ desk reads 5:44 AM. He registers that his head is resting on something warm, something broad and something comfortable, and that there’s a slight weight on his chest.

After a minute he becomes aware that he’s resting his head on Seokjin’s shoulder. A few seconds more and he discovers the warm heavy thing on his chest is Seokjin’s arm. The elder had fallen asleep holding him. Jungkook lets this sink in for a second, then pales. Seokjin had fallen asleep holding him when they didn’t have an audience, didn’t need to hold up a façade. This is the second time today he’s done something like this.

And Jungkook is horrified to discover that he likes it.

He gently lifts Seokjin’s arm off of him and tiptoes out of the room, closing the door silently behind him as to not wake him up. He then walks slowly to the living room and curls up into a ball on the couch, clutching one of its cushions to his chest and staring into nothing until the sun rises.

Because on that couch at 5:46 in the morning, Jeon Jungkook is forced to realize what he’s refused to admit for nearly half a year now. He is, in fact, not very straight. He is not as straight as a chopstick. He is not straight at all. He is gay. He is very gay.

Jeon Jungkook is gay for Kim Seokjin.

~

This is a nightmare.

This is an absolute nightmare.

Ever since Jungkook had come to the realization that shit, he really likes Seokjin and he’s not straight and would much rather go down on his dick than slam some pussy, living with Seokjin is an absolute nightmare.

For a long time Jungkook had insisted on his attraction to women and vehemently denied any physical attraction to males, but living with Seokjin has made it apparent that he had been completely lying to himself. Seokjin is all formality and professionalism in the lab (except on occasions when he roasts Namjoon’s ass after the latter accidentally breaks something), but at home Jungkook sees Seokjin as the tired, somewhat wild university student he is. He’s seen Seokjin dead asleep on the couch at times surrounded by piles of scientific papers, he’s seen Seokjin piss drunk while attempting to make conversation with his thesis (“why are you so hard to write,” “what have I ever done to you,” “why can’t you defend yourself,” “didn’t anyone ever teach you taekwondo”), he’s seen Seokjin cook breakfast when the graduate student has nothing planned for the day and can’t be bothered to put on anything more than his underwear. And Jungkook would be lying to himself even more if he didn’t admit he finds every part of Seokjin endearing and just a little arousing.

There had been one occasion that Jungkook had been enjoying a morning post-exam bath in the Jacuzzi when Seokjin had knocked frantically on the door shouting something how he was going to be late to his friend’s Ph.D defense and it was his friend’s Ph.D defense and he really needed to shower so does Jungkook mind if Seokjin showers quickly while he’s in the bath? Jungkook had stammered out a “go ahead” and Seokjin had rushed into the bathroom, a whirlwind as he stripped hurriedly (in front of a very flustered Jungkook) and leaped into the shower. Granted, the walls of the shower are the blurred kind and Jungkook couldn’t exactly see Seokjin in all his unclothed glory, but Jungkook had plunged himself neck-deep in the Jacuzzi nevertheless, keeping his eyes firmly averted and counting the seconds as they pass.

After the two minute and fifteen second shower, Seokjin had toweled himself off and hurried out to get dressed, leaving Jungkook alone in the tub to will away the boner that confirms that Jeon Jungkook, no matter what he had said in the past, is not a hundred percent straight.

“How was it?” he asks when Seokjin returns to the apartment later that afternoon.

“Humbling,” Seokjin says, sounding a little faint as he removes his tie. “The committee roasted him. I have… a lot of preparation to do before my own defense…”

And, still dressed in very form fitting khakis and a dress shirt that’s now been unbuttoned to show his collarbones, Seokjin collapses on his bed and goes to sleep. Jungkook has a very hard time getting the image out of his head for a long time.

As time passes, Jungkook slowly starts to understand Seokjin. Or at least notice things he hasn’t noticed before. He’s familiar with lab Seokjin, the one who watches over Jungkook as he carries out his zones of inhibition tests, the one who explains his data analysis on his computer screen to Jungkook with Namjoon whining in the background about how he needs Jungkook right now stop hogging hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmm, the one who smiles and offers a tired and smelling-like-incubated-for-a-week-microorganisms Jungkook tea when he returns to his office with his most recent set of collected data, the one who grins encouragingly at Jungkook when the undergraduate presents his most recent findings in the weekly meetings with the entire lab faculty, the one who gently guides him through basic lab techniques like dilutions and micropipetting (because let’s face it, anyone who studies science has gotten tripped up by micropipettes at least once or twice) and takes him out to dinner as a reward afterwards.

Then there’s not-lab Seokjin, who makes sure to always moisturize his hands before bed, who reuses a tea bag a minimum of five times as to not let the compounds go to waste (“listen, Jungkook, antioxidants are good shit that belong in your body, not the trash can”), who always cooks dinner for Jungkook despite the latter’s protests (though Jungkook thinks he may have lost the privilege of making dinner for himself when Seokjin had caught him eating six cups of ramen for dinner that one stressful night before his lab practical), who insists on having a fresh vase of flowers in the bathroom at all times, and who would, when he occasionally finds Jungkook deep asleep at three in the morning on top of his books at the dining room table, smile and offer him some milk and a plate of strawberry cream sunflower biscuit sandwiches to get him through the remainder of the night.

And try as he might resist, Jungkook can’t help falling deeper and deeper into him.

Then one day, Taehyung, as Taehyungs do, offers him a distraction. Though admittedly Jungkook ignores him until his phone lights up with further texts that show that Taehyung is clearly not giving up his quest for his attention.

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:23 AM
hey

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:24 AM
heeeeeeey

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:26 AM
hEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:26 AM
What.

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:26 AM
can you do me a favor? \(^v^)/


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:26 AM
New phone who dis

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:26 AM
jungkookieeeeeeeeeeee


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:27 AM

You realize that last time I did you a favor I was nearly expelled, right?

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:27 AM
details. u_u

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:27 AM
so this favor


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:27 AM

No.

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:27 AM
you haven’t even heard what I was gonna say :(((


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:28 AM

Doesn’t matter. It’s still no.

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:28 AM
… I’m gonna tell you anyway :D


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:28 AM

You can try.

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:28 AM
so min yoongi is going to throw a party.


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:29 AM

… how do you know yoongi?

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:29 AM
… details u_u

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:29 AM
aNYHOO, I’m trying to set jimin and yoongi up \(*v*)/


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:29 AM

… wat. How do you even know jimin likes him?

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:29 AM
… I live with jimin, dude -_-

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:30 AM
aND IF I HAVE TO GO ONE MORE NIGHT HEARING JIMIN CRY ABOUT HOW BEAUTIFUL YOONGI IS I’M GONNA LOSE MY MINDDDDDD.


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:30 AM

You mean what’s left of it?

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:31 AM
you don’t understand (T_____T) He started learning programming just to impress yoongi. I don’t think they’ve even MET yet.


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:31 AM

Sounds like Jimin.

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:31 AM
so this is where you come in! ^o^

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:31 AM
… ^ I just made diethyl ether

From: Kim Taehyung
October 2, 1:31 AM
be proud of me


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:32 AM

I am neither proud of you nor willing to be part of your nefarious schemes

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:32 AM
you’re going to get the three of us (me, you and jimin) into this party using any means necessary. I will take care of the rest :D


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:32 AM

No.

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:32 AM
and in exchange I will buy you lamb skewers


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:32 AM

Dammit taehyung I’m not that easy

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:32 AM
once a week for the rest of this month :D


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:33 AM

… fuck


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:33 AM

I’ll do it

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:33 AM
knew you’d see things my way


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:33 AM

If you know yoongi, why can’t you get him to invite jimin?

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:34 AM
… uh


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:35 AM

… he doesn’t like you, does he

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:37 AM
… uh


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:38 AM

What did you do to him

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:38 AM
details u_u


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:40 AM

[sighs] do I even want to know how you plan on getting them together?

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:40 AM
I will slip a potent aphrodisiac into their drinks and lock them both in a bedroom ^_^


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:40 AM

tAEHYUNG NO

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:40 AM
tAEHYUNG YES \(^O^)/


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:40 AM

I won’t let you do that

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:41 AM
do you want your lamb skewers or not, Jeon Jungkook.


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:41 AM

you


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:41 AM

manipulative


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:41 AM

little


From: Jeon Jungkook
October 2, 1:41 AM

shit

From: Kim Taehyung

October 2, 1:42 AM
<3

~

Jungkook is going to die.

He is definitely going to die.

This flu is going to drag his oh-it’s-fine-it’s-just-a-little-rain-I-don’t-need-an-umbrella ass to the grave and he suddenly remembers how he had told Seokjin and Namjoon that he liked viruses because they killed people and wow isn’t this ironic. He stumbles back into the apartment, head pounding, nose clogged, and coughing so hard the muscles on his back he didn’t even know he had are aching.

Oh well. If he’s going to die he should eat his favorite food before he goes, right? That’s justified. Lamb skewers. Where are the lamb skewers at.

Jungkook moans sadly when he realizes he can’t call Taehyung for them because he hasn’t yet secured them invitations to Yoongi’s party. Fuckin’ Kim Taehyung. He’s the worst. He and Jimin are the worst. They haven’t even come by to bring him medicine or anything. They’re terrible friends. Granted Jungkook hasn’t yet told them that he’s sick. Still. They suck. But food. Favorite food. He can’t have lamb skewers. So he settles for the next best thing.

Seokjin finds him an hour later draped pitifully over the living room couch surrounded by a mountain of used tissues, simultaneously coughing his lungs out and reaching in vain for a half-finished slice of melting coffee cake that he had stolen from the fridge.

“Jeon Jungkook,” he says, and Jungkook winces at how his voice makes his head pang. “What the fuck.”

“Don’t say anything,” Jungkook says, or tries to say, before he’s coughing hard enough for half his soul to leave him. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“You’re sick and you’re eating coffee cake?” Seokjin asks incredulously.

“It’s my last meal,” Jungkook whines miserably. Oh god he’s whining Jeon Jungkook never whines but he’s currently burning up with a fever so that’s excusable, right? “The last thing I’m going to taste before I die – no. No! No no no no no noooooooooo –”

For Seokjin had swooped down and liberated the coffee cake from him.

“You’re the worst boyfriend ever,” Jungkook wails, ignoring how his voice is coming out as a half sob because he’s about to die and Seokjin doesn’t care and Seokjin’s taking away his coffee cake oh the injustice of it all. “I’m going to die and you won’t even let me have my coffee cake. So cruel.”

“You’re not going to die,” Seokjin rolls his eyes and he leans down and starts picking up Jungkook’s tissues. “You’re going to drink a cup of ginger tea that I will make for you and then you are going to shower and go straight to bed.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Jungkook starts to say, before the other half of his soul escapes him in a round of hacking coughs.

Looking back, Jungkook is proud that he puts up a very strong protest against being mothered by Seokjin despite having a fever that he’s half sure is incapacitating his mental faculties just a little.

It’s just not strong enough.

“It burns,” Jungkook complains when he takes the first sip of Seokjin’s ginger tea that’s been forced into his hands. “My throat’s already raw. This is so painful to drink.”

“Stop complaining, I put honey in it,” Seokjin chides from the kitchen. “And you’re the one who insisted you didn’t need the umbrella I offered you this morning. Now drink the whole thing.”

“This is weird,” Jungkook grumbles, but puts the cup back to his lips anyway. “Ginger’s a fucking plant. No, ginger’s a fuckin’ rhizome. I’m drinking rhizome water that makes my throat hurt. How is this supposed to help?”

“You forget,” Seokjin says, coming back into the living room and promptly slapping a cool towel on Jungkook’s forehead. “That my entire doctorate is based on the medicinal properties of plants. If you really want me to explain it to you –”

“No, I’m good,” Jungkook moans, hurriedly drinking the rest of the tea. He tries to argue when Seokjin makes him eat the remnants of the grated ginger at the bottom of his cup, but one look from the graduate student shuts him up instantly.

“What classes do you have tomorrow?” he asks Jungkook when he finally puts the cup down, body heating up immediately from the drink.

“Just lab. Organic Chemistry Lab,” Jungkook groans, readjusting the towel on his forehead. “And lab for you and Namjoon.”

“Who’s your TA?”

“Uh,” Jungkook says, his head pounding. “Some guy named Jackson.”

He’s surprised to hear Seokjin snort. “I’ll clear your absence with him,” he says. “And you don’t have to come into lab for me.”

“What?” Jungkook sits up and immediately regrets it as he starts coughing violently. “No, the extract effect might wear off tomorrow, someone has to take measurements!”

“You do realize,” Seokjin says in that tired tone of voice that he uses whenever Jungkook says something that’s blatantly obvious, “I can handle the tests myself, right?”

“Oh,” Jungkook closes his eyes and leans back. Seokjin’s a doctoral candidate with about five years more experience than him. “Right.”

“Besides, if you don’t get better,” Seokjin says playfully, running his hands through Jungkook’s hair. “Who am I going to invite to Yoongi’s party on Saturday?”

“You planned on taking me?” Jungkook asks, eyes going wide.

“Only if you want to,” Seokjin shrugs. “Yoongi’s parties are pretty tame, though, I think he’s too lazy to actually do anything more than buy the alcohol. Oh no, wait, there was that one year he put up like, one balloon.”

“Of course I want to!” Jungkook almost shouts, and regrets it immediately when his head pangs again. “Can I bring Jimin and Taehyung along, too? This’ll be Jimin’s chance! Pretty please?” Oh god he can almost taste the lamb skewers.

“Sure,” Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Yoongi hasn’t gotten laid in forever. Now come on, let’s get you showered.”

Score. Lamb skewers, here he comes. Assuming he survives this flu.

Later, when Jungkook’s freshly washed and tucked into bed and resting against Seokjin’s shoulder (his favorite pillow, at this point) and nodding off, Jungkook slurs sleepily, “I take back what I said earlier. You’re the best boyfriend ever.”

“I know,” Seokjin chuckles, threading his hands through Jungkook’s hair again.

~

“Fuck,” Yoongi says flatly, staring at Taehyung. The rest of the group waits on Yoongi’s doorstep, with Jimin having gone unnaturally shy and quiet and Seokjin raising an eyebrow at Jungkook, who focuses really hard on thinking about the three separate occasions of lamb skewers he’ll have eaten by the end of the month instead of how he’s somewhat responsible for all the awkward tension at the moment.

“Hello there!” Taehyung beams, seeming unfazed. Jungkook vaguely wonders if he’s made a terrible mistake when he sees Yoongi’s eyes narrow slightly because he needs Taehyung alive to get his skewers !! Or at least, his credit card.

“Well, come in,” Yoongi rolls his eyes at the four of them. “And Taehyung, no fuckin’ swinging from the chandelier again. I don’t care how drunk you are this time.”

“Yessir!” Taehyung salutes, and hurries off in search of alcohol.

“You never told me Taehyung was the one who destroyed Yoongi’s chandelier along with half his living room a year ago,” Seokjin hisses at Jungkook.

“I never knew,” Jungkook says simply, taking his hand.

Seokjin’s right. Yoongi’s parties are tame as hell. The most wild thing that’s probably happened so far is Jungkook kissing Seokjin on the lips in front of Namjoon. The alcohol is good, though. Yoongi makes a mean party punch (are those rose petals in there?). That Taehyung discovers. And happily inebriates himself on.

Jungkook finds himself later on the upper floor of the house making out with Seokjin. It had started off as just a front on the couch when Yoongi had been present, but the Computer Science Ph.D candidate had waved them up the stairs (“dammit guys, eat each other out for all I care, just don’t fuckin’ do that shit in front of me”), and they had no choice but to continue. Jungkook doesn’t really mind because Seokjin’s now sucking a hickey of all things into his neck. There’s another few couples up here kissing (and probably progressing soon to other things) next to them, but all things considered, they’re better than listening to Taehyung downstairs singing Nicki Minaj’s Starships three octaves higher than normal and progressively getting more and more off-key with each verse.

Their kissing is gentle and unhurried but Jungkook finds himself quickly getting lost in it, until Seokjin suddenly shifts and lifts him up against the wall and he gasps in surprise into his mouth.

“Uncomfortable?” Seokjin murmurs against his lips.

“N-No,” Jungkook groans. “This is good. S-Seokjin, I –”

“Seokjin, are you up he – oh.”

Both of them turn to see Namjoon halfway up the stairs, looking like he regrets coming up. And opening his mouth. And many other things. “Uh, sorry, continue?” he offers, holding up his hands in a gesture of appeasement.

“What is it, Namjoon,” Seokjin rolls his eyes.

“Uh, I just discovered a pitfall with my project,” Namjoon says timidly, eyeing Jungkook apologetically. “I can fix it, but it’ll require your help and needs to be started tomorrow while we still have enough solvent left, so…”

“We’re at a party and you want to talk research?” Seokjin sighs, but lets Jungkook down from the wall. “I’m sorry, do you mind if I…?” he asks Jungkook hesitantly.

“Uh, no!” Jungkook says, his voice coming out higher than expected. “No, not at all. Science. Go. Go fix the thing!”

Seokjin drops one last kiss on his forehead before following Namjoon down the stairs. Jungkook hears him muttering darkly to Namjoon about how he wouldn’t have this problem in the first place if he didn’t keep breaking half the lab’s stock of solvents.

Jungkook is left alone with a couple that has now moved on to undressing each other in the hallway. Not wanting to really stay around them without Seokjin to distract him, he sighs and turns to make his way downstairs.

It shouldn’t bother him that Namjoon had stolen Seokjin away from him. Hell, he had stolen him temporarily. And Jungkook comes to a halt on the stairs when he remembers that he has no right to be bothered. He and Seokjin aren’t truly dating, after all. It’s fake. It’s all fake, all just a professional agreement between the two of them – Jungkook got housing, and Seokjin got his ex off his tail. The kissing, the touches, the ginger tea when he was sick, it’s all fake.

He finds Taehyung slouched on the sofa squinting at his phone.

“Finally tired of singing?” Jungkook asks, shoving Taehyung’s legs off so he can sit.

“Nope!” Taehyung chirps, tapping at his phone. “I just discovered I have greater priorities.” He taps his phone again and the smile falls off his face.

“What’s up,” Jungkook says, leaning over to see. “What the – are you seriously doing Organic Chemistry homework on your phone?”

“It’s due at - at midnight,” Taehyung says, and hiccups. “I think? Or 11:59 PM. Those two are two very fundamentally different things, by the way! One is night, one is morning! I’m also really, really drunk right now.” He blinks at Jungkook owlishly.

“Uh. Sure.” Jungkook pulls his second cup of punch toward him. “Need help?” he asks, pointing to Taehyung’s phone.

“What? No!” Taehyung scoffs, rolling his eyes. “Dude, I got this. It’s like, just resonance and synthesis. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Even freshmen can do this shit.” He clicks the submit button and a red “incorrect” pop up shows up on his screen.

“You need help,” Jungkook says flatly.

“I need help,” Taehyung nods, shoving his phone at him.

Twenty minutes later finds Jungkook scribbling synthesis reactions on a piece of scrap paper Yoongi had leant them out of pity while Taehyung taps furiously on his phone to make the molecules Jungkook draws. As Taehyung also becomes properly intoxicated somewhere along the line, they don’t really have that much success.

“Acylate it,” Jungkook snaps. “Taehyung, you have to acylate – what the hell did I just say.”

“But I don’t – don’t wannaaaaaaaa acylate it,” Taehyung protests drunkenly. He gestures wildly with his phone, nearly smacking Jungkook in the face with his screen that’s displaying another red incorrect pop up. “Acylating means that I’ve given up on alkylation, you knooow?” He glares at his phone and begins typing in the reagents necessary for alkylation. “And Kim Taehyung does not give up on alkylation. I will fucking alkylate the wooooooooorld.”

“Yeah, if you mean you’re going to fucking poly-alkylate the whole molecule,” Jungkook snaps, tossing the scrap paper back on the table and takes a swig of his drink.

Midnight comes and Taehyung’s assignment submits automatically. He scores an 8/10, which Jungkook thinks is probably because he had been too invested in explaining to Jungkook exactly why Friedel-Crafts acylation would destroy mankind to solve the last two problems in time.

“Stop drinking,” Jungkook says half-heartedly as Taehyung begins crying when Jungkook writes out the solutions to the last two problems step by step, both of which require acylation instead of alkylation.

“You’re so mean,” Taehyung sobs into his hands. “Jungkook you’re so meeeeeeeeeeeean.”

And he promptly passes out a minute later.

Jungkook sighs and puts his cup down. He did not sign up for dealing with a drunk Taehyung when he chose to attend this party. He checks his phone to see a message from Seokjin.

 

From: Kim Seokjin
October 9, 12:35 AM
We had to go into lab because Namjoon needed to double-check something. I’ll be back in half an hour, sorry <3

 

Jungkook snorts. Who does Kim Seokjin think he is, using the heart emoticon? Jungkook doesn’t even need to wait for him, he can go home right now if he wants to and to hell with Seokjin.

But half an hour later, he still hasn’t moved from the couch.

His phone lights up again, and he swipes across the screen to see another message from Seokjin.

 

From: Kim Seokjin
October 9, 1:00 AM
I’m sorry Jungkook, I’m going to have to stay overnight in lab. Go home without me. If you’re drunk, I can call someone to take you home.

 

Jungkook’s about to reply with a “no need” when there’s an eloquent groan next to him and Taehyung awakens.

“What year is it,” he yawns.

“2030,” Jungkook supplies. “Acylation has destroyed mankind and aliens have taken over the earth and –”

“Okay, stop, I was drunk,” Taehyung says, waving him off. “Still pretty drunk, actually.” He sits up. “Anything interesting happen while I was out?”

“No,” Jungkook sighs. “I’m actually about to leave. Where’s Jimin? Did you actually lock them in a bedroom?”

“Nah,” Taehyung says. “Didn’t need to. Look.” He points to the kitchen, where Jimin’s sitting on Yoongi’s lap, laughing at something the elder had just said. They watch as Jimin leans forward and plants a sloppy smooch on Yoongi’s cheek before Yoongi tosses him onto the kitchen sofa and kisses him hungrily.

“Yup,” Taehyung comments cheerfully. “Jimin moves fast.”

Jungkook sighs again. He turns back to his phone, not wanting to see any displays of love that remind him painfully of how Seokjin isn’t there.

“Where’s Seokjin?”

“Went to lab,” Jungkook answers tonelessly. “Something went wrong with Namjoon’s project.” He picks up his cup of punch again, intent on finishing it and then leaving.

“Ah, bummer,” Taehyung sighs, then yawns widely and elegantly enough that Jungkook can smell the alcohol on his breath. “Remind me never to go for a Ph.D. Or anything that requires a thesis.”

Jungkook doesn’t respond, just sips from his cup.

“Hey.”

“Hmm?”

Taehyung puts a hand on his shoulder. “You really love him, don’t you?” he asks softly.

There’s suddenly a lump in Jungkook’s throat and he swallows. “Yeah,” he says thickly, setting down his empty cup. “Yeah,” he repeats, swallowing again. The lump in his throat doesn’t go away. “And I don’t know how to fix it.”

And then he dissolves into tears.