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Muscle Memory

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Busan

 

“Are you nervous?”

Jimin looked up, his eyes finding Hoseok easily. His best friend - and best man - was leaning against the wall, light shining in his eyes. He looked happy.

Jimin smiled back. “No.”

“Really…” said Hoseok and now there was amusement in his voice. “Not even a bit?”

“Not a single drop,” confirmed Jimin as he finished tying up his shoes. He stood up and Hoseok moved forward, offering the jacket of his tux.

Jimin shrugged it on, straightening the lapels before looking at himself in the mirror. He was glowing - or at least he thought he was. How could he not? This was, after all, the best day of his life.

“I think you are the first groom that is so calm on his wedding day,” commented Hoseok, brushing some invisible lint from his shoulder. He gave him a wink through the mirror. “Bet Jeonghan is terrified.”

Jimin laughed.

He agreed though, most likely his fiance was freaking out in his own room, fumbling with the pieces of the tux. Jimin, however, couldn’t bring himself to be anything but happy - delighted to finally get to call the love of his life husband. The last few years dating the other man had been nothing but perfect. They had met through common friends and since the very first day, they fit together perfectly. Like lost pieces of the same puzzle. Jimin had fallen in love instantly and after three years, he had finally mustered enough courage to ask for his hand in marriage.

It had been such a surprise for both of their families. They were barely 20, but Jimin figured that there was not really a timeline for love. Jeonghan was almost done with college and Jimin had a good, stable job as manager in a store. Maybe after they were established, he could even manage to study himself, get a diploma in something. He wanted to be worthy of his husband.

The ceremony was small, only their closest friends and family attending.

Jeonghan’s voice broke during his vows and his tears and hiccups just made it all the more beautiful for Jimin. He kissed his husband softly, the love he felt was so strong that it burned through his veins.

There was food and drinks and dancing. There was laughter and speeches, but to Jimin the only thing that mattered was the feeling of his husband's head on his shoulder as they swayed in the middle of the dance floor.

“I love you,” said Jimin, hugging him closer, the sweet smell of his cologne filling his senses and stirring desire in his belly button.

“I love you too,” Jeonghan pressed his lips against his neck, making him sigh. “Can’t wait to have forever with you.”

Jimin smiled at the words, surprised to find himself filled with some sort of melancholy. Forever, after all, felt like little time when you had found the one.

 

To say that they were happy was an understatement and for the longest time Hoseok couldn’t remember a happier couple around.

They just worked so well, both loving and kind. All smiles and warm hugs and harmony. If someone had asked Hoseok what love was, he would have simply pointed to the place where his best friend lay, his husband sprawled by his side. They seemed like an unstoppable force, like no harm could touch them - darkness was not a word in their world.

A year down the road, Hoseok met Wheein, and Jimin was beyond thrilled.

She worked as a cashier at the same store where Jimin was manager and upon laying eyes on her, his friend had gone mute. The usually confident and cheerful Hoseok was gone and replaced with a mess of a man. Nervous and shy, stuttering words every time he saw her. To Jimin’s - and Jeonghan’s, Hoseok’s and pretty much everyone else’s - surprise, Wheein thought it was beyond cute and so she decided to take the matter into her hands.

A handful of dates later and some more embarrassing stuttering from Hoseok’s side, and they were finally dating. Jeonghan had been ecstatic, gushing about double dates and cute little kids running through the house. Jimin had only embraced him at that, promising that one day they would have their own kids too. And their own house, not a shared apartment with Hoseok because they couldn’t afford more.

“We are still young,” Jeonghan had said, resting his head on Jimin’s naked chest. “And besides, everything I could possibly want, I already have it. I have you...I don’t need anything else.”

“Just wait for it,” replied Jimin, fingers dancing over soft skin. “I will give you the world.”

 

They were about to celebrate their third anniversary when it happened.

Jimin had been waiting for Jeonghan to pick him up, already finished with his hours at the store. Wheein had left almost half an hour before with the excuse of getting ready for their monthly dinner date. It had been a tradition for the four of them ever since she had come into their lives.

Jimin had been playing with his phone when the call came. He jumped, glancing at the ID and frowning - it was an unknown number. Thinking that maybe it was some phone propaganda, he disregarded the call. He didn’t want to be unavailable if his husband were to call.

The number, however, insisted on calling. So many times that something metallic coiled in Jimin’s belly as he finally answered it.

“Park Jimin?” came the voice of a stranger and he frowned at the noisy background from where the person was calling.

“Yes,” he said, finally pinpointing a siren slipping around the voice talking to him on the phone. He recognized the something tightening his gut now. It was fear. “Who are you?”

“Mr. Park…” the voice paused. “There was an accident….”

Jimin didn’t remember much after that, just flashes of faces and places among the panic.

He had managed somehow to get to the hospital, running to the main desk, desperate for information. They didn’t give it to him. They didn’t give it to Jeonghan’s parents when they arrived either or to Hoseok. For what seemed like hours, they just sat there, clutching at each other's arms. Trying but failing at not expecting the worst.

It was closer to midnight when a doctor finally approached them, removing the cap concealing his hair.

“Family of Yoon Jeonghan?” he asked and just in the way his words sounded, Jimin knew.

He stayed behind as the others raised, eager for news. He felt like he was glued to the plastic seat in the waiting room.

Stuck.

“Is my son ok?” came the trembling voice of his mother-in-law and then Wheein was sobbing.

Jimin just closed his eyes, his world all but shattering behind.

Jeonghan had been involved in a car accident, his bus completely crushed under the impact of a truck. There were many that had died on the spot. The doctor explained that they had done everything they could but, for Jeonghan, it hadn't been enough.

As in a trance, Jimin followed the doctor to a room where his husband was...or what remained of him. He was connected to multiple machines, bruises adorning his face. He was not moving at all and for a moment Jimin thought that it couldn't be him. That it had to be a terrible, terrible mistake. But then his mother-in-law was crying, wails erupting from her lips as she clutched at her son and Jimin realized that it was true....that his husband was truly gone.

After a moment, the doctor approached him, as the only family member that seemed to remain relatively calm.

“He will never breathe on his own again,” he said, apologetic. “And he had stated that he would like to donate his organs in case of fatality.” Jimin raised his eyes, leveling with those of the doctor. “It is your decision, but please consider that he could save many lives. He could live on through donation.”

The doctor patted his arm before leaving the room and Hoseok moved to his side, tear tracks down his cheeks.

“Jimin…” he simply said, hugging him tightly. Jimin returned the embrace with all his strength, balling his friend’s t-shirt in his hands. The storm was raging inside his chest but the tears would not come and so he dropped to the floor, dragging his friend along. “Deep breaths...just...deep breaths.”

And that was all Jimin could do, breathe. Breathe and hope that death would take him along as well.

 

Jeonghan was disconnected two days after the accident.

They had been given a few moments to say goodbye. The organs would be removed right away and so they had decided not to be present the moment the machines would be turned off. Jimin’s parents had come as well, holding him as if afraid he would break and he thought that maybe it was a little too late for that. That he was already broken...beyond repair.

When it was his turn, Jimin didn't cry.

He approached his husband calm, almost numb. He kissed his hand for a long time, lips pressed to the wedding band, before carefully removing it. Hoseok took it from him, hanging it from a necklace that he looped around Jimin’s neck afterwards. Jimin kissed Jeonghan’s lips and his brow, just like he had done barely a week before. He waited for the tears, for a scream….for anything that would somehow alleviate the pain, but it never came and he was glad. The pain would be a reminder that everything had been real. That he had loved, that he had lost.

“I love you,” he said, surprised at the roughness in his voice. “I always will….wait for me.”

And with that he was gone, his whole world sinking. No longer capable of keeping him afloat.

 

♡♡♡

 

Seoul

 

Right in the heart of Gangnam, behind the walls of the most prestigious hospital in town, a boy no longer fought for air.

His whole family was gathered around him, his mother quietly weeping after the priest had just walked out of the room, after giving him the last rites. The boy was calm, he felt ready. It had been too long of a fight against his heart for the seconds on the clock, and he was tired...so very tired.

“Jeongguk…” a low voice called from his side and he turned his head slowly, the movement draining almost the last bit of his life force. It was his boyfriend, Yoongi. His eyes were red but he was not crying and Jeongguk was glad. He didn't need to suffer more, not because of him. He knew that Yoongi blamed himself, that he thought that - as a future cardiologist - he could have done more. But in reality, he was wrong. There were no hearts available and Jeongguk’s was about to give up at any moment.

It was no one's fault, it was just how life was meant to be.

Jeongguk had been eighteen years old when the disease manifested and now, three years later, he could say that he was satisfied with what he had done. He was at peace, ready to go. Trying to comfort his boyfriend, he reached for his hand. Yoongi, noticing the movement, took it immediately. Jeongguk opened his mouth to speak but Yoongi shook his head.

“Don't exhaust yourself love,” he said, softly touching his hair. “You have to rest.”

Jeongguk shook his head weakly. He knew he didn't have much time, he had to say goodbye.

“I...want...to...say,” he stopped, taking a deep breath, even speaking was hard now. “I'm...grateful...happy…” His mother shuddered by his side and he tightened the grip on her hand as much as he could. “Thank...you...love...you.”

Taehyung, at the foot of his bed, sniffed quietly as he comforted Jeongguk’s grandmother. It made him smile as he closed his eyes, completely spent again. His father moved closer to kiss his forehead and a little after, Jeongguk felt the soft pressure of Yoongi’s lips on his own. He sighed contentedly.

There wasn't really a better way to go.

Then as if in complete sync, both Taehyung’s and Yoongi’s pagers went off. Jeongguk felt his boyfriend growling softly and he remembered that he told him he had taken the week off, to be with him in his last days.

Taehyung sucked in a breath, barely concealing a shriek.

“Yoongi!” he exclaimed and the expression on his face was all the doctor needed to understand. He looked at his own pager, almost needing to brace himself against the wall so he would not sink to the floor. Before he could say anything though, the door was being thrown open and Jeongguk’s cardiologist was barreling in, followed by his whole team.

“There's a match!” he said, the words making Jeongguk finally open his eyes.

“Are you sure?” his father asked, the hope evident in his tone.

“Absolutely!” replied the cardiologist, delighted, now moving closer to Jeongguk. “You are getting a new heart, son.”

“Praise the Lord!” exclaimed Jeongguk’s grandmother as Yoongi sank to his knees beside him.

He took his hand, bringing it to his lips as a few tears escaped from his eyes.

“You are going to get better, Love,” Yoongi said, voice thick with emotion. “And then I'm gonna marry the hell out of you.”

Jeongguk smiled at the words, a little disoriented as his family was ushered out of the room so the staff could get him ready for surgery. Jeongguk thought that if his heart were normal, it would be beating like crazy right now. He was scared and excited but above everything, he was hopeful.

Maybe this wasn't the end, maybe this was life giving him a second chance.

The room was then a blur of people, machines were moved and tubes connected. His eyes moved frantically as he searched for his best friend’s face. Jeongguk knew that Yoongi was not allowed to be in the operating room, mainly to avoid his feelings interfering with the surgery, but Taehyung was supposed to be there. He was his personal nurse after all.

Like conjured by magic, Taehyung showed up by his side, a needle poised to inject something into the vial going to Jeongguk’s arm. He felt the anesthesia taking him slowly as his best friend touched his hair lovingly.

“It gonna be alright,” he heard him saying as his eyelids dropped. “See you on the other side.”

 

♡♡♡

 

One year later, Seoul

 

“What in hell is that?!”

Taehyung scowled, pressing a finger to his mouth to shush him. He made his way through the tables, throwing apologetic looks at the few people sitting around the cafeteria.

“You are so rude, this is a hospital, you gotta keep quiet,” he commented, dragging a chair and sitting beside Jeongguk. “Someone has to teach you manners, kid.”

Jeongguk ignored him, reaching to pull at the few hairs on Taehyung’s chin. His friend swatted his hand away.

“No, seriously. What is that?”

“How was the doctor’s appointment?” Taehyung asked instead of answering.

“Fine, all is perfect as always. Are you gonna reply to my question?”

“You mean this?” asked Taehyung, proudly stroking the stray hairs growing on his chin. “It’s my goatee, or it would be when it grows out to its full glory.”

Jeongguk gaped.

“You are planning on growing it out?” Taehyung nodded in confirmation. “Is that legal?”

Taehyung shoved him lightly and Jeongguk snickered.

“You are lame. Just wait for it, it’s gonna be majestic.”

“Right,” said Jeongguk, taking a piece of his banana muffin and putting it in his mouth. “Does Namjoon-hyung know about this?”

Taehyung rolled his eyes, opening his lunch box and taking several containers out. He placed one in front of Jeongguk, along with an extra pair of chopsticks.

“He lives with me, of course he knows.” Taehyung added some dressing to his salad, taking a carrot and chewing on it thoroughly before swallowing. Jeongguk placed the muffin on the side, doing the same with his. “In fact, he’s growing a mustache.”

Jeongguk coughed, reaching for his glass of water. Taehyung clucked his tongue, offering him a napkin while he slapped his back. The people in the hospital cafeteria looked at them worriedly. Taehyung grinned reassuringly at them.

“Why?” asked Jeongguk as soon as he recovered.

“For our Bear Club meetings!” Taehyung announced proudly, as if Jeongguk should know exactly what that meant.

“Your what?”

“Bear Club, where we celebrate the beauty of masculinity in the gay community,” explained Taehyung popping a cherry tomato in his mouth.

“Isn’t that what being gay is all about?” commented Jeongguk, a little lost, as he picked the peppers out of his salad. Taehyung slapped his hand.

“Don’t do that! Joonie worked hard putting this salad together,” he scolded. “And also, duh! What I meant is that we celebrate what makes us men: body hair, beards….sweaty armpits!”

Jeongguk laughed. “I don’t think anyone appreciates armpits, hyung, but whatever. How did you get there anyways?” he asked, going again after the peppers. Taehyung glared at him and he retracted his hand, picking up his chopsticks with a pout on his mouth.

“Do you know Kim Jongkook? The paramedic?” Jeongguk nodded. “Well, he invited my Sun and Stars to one of their meetings and it was awesome.”

“So now you are part of the club.”

“Yes, we are actually thinking about starting a diet to increase our body fat,” said Taehyung animatedly and Jeongguk grinned. “We are still too thin for the club standards but they liked us enough to let us try.” Taehyung chewed on a chopstick, eyeing Jeongguk. “Maybe you and Yoongi could come to our next meeting, you might like it…”

At the words, Jeongguk’s mood seemed to sour and Taehyung hummed to himself. So that was the reason behind this impromptu lunch date.

“All good with Yoongi?” Jeongguk’s pout increased in size at the question. “Did you guys have a fight?”

Jeongguk played with his food.

“I was talking to mom about going back to college,” he said. “She said it would be fine, as long as Yoongi thought it was a good idea.”

“Mmmm...let me guess...he said no?”

Jeongguk mumbled something.

Taehyung sighed.

“Maybe he’s right and you need more time,” he suggested.

“Hyung...Dr. Lee said that I’m fine. My heart works perfectly,” said Jeongguk, frustrated. “I just...I feel…”

“What?” prompted Taehyung, reaching to touch his hand. It was only in rare occasion that the boy was frustrated enough to consider sharing his feelings, but Jeongguk moved away. He took his phone out of his pocket, checking his messages.

“I gotta go. Mom’s chauffeur is waiting outside.”

Taehyung stood up to hug him, holding just for a little longer, to show him that he understood. Everyone still felt on edge around Jeongguk, the fear of his heart failing again too strong to be left in the past.

“Do you want me to ask Joonie to talk to him?” said Taehyung as Jeongguk started to make his way to the exit.

The boy shrugged, a sad smile decorating his lips.

“He wouldn’t listen to him...lately he doesn't listen to anyone, not even me.”

Taehyung stood there, looking at the retreating figure of his friend, until his pager started beeping. He hurried to gather the rest of his lunch, fishing his phone as he made his way back to the hospital. He dialed Namjoon’s number while he waited to the elevator to come pick him up.

“Babe,” he announced. “We need to talk.”

 

♡♡♡

 

“Jiminnie!”

Jimin woke up with a start, heart hammering and blinking repeatedly at the harsh light filtering through his curtains. As soon as his eyes adjusted and he was able to spot Hoseok, he groaned, falling back into his pillow.

“Did I wake you up?” asked Hoseok sweetly, a little bit of laughter in his words.

“Fuck you,” muttered Jimin, rolling in bed, ready to continue sleeping.

“Ah, what are those words. I’m still your hyung,” chastised Hoseok, climbing on top of him on the bed and making Jimin groan. “C’mon open your pretty eyes, I have news.”

“Can’t you like...wait until noon?” asked Jimin, voice muffled by his pillow.

“I work at noon,” said Hoseok, nuzzling against the back of his neck and Jimin rolled his eyes even though his friend couldn’t see him. “Let’s get some breakfast together, so we can talk.”

Jimin sighed, slapping Hoseok’s thigh so he would get off. His friend rolled to the side and Jimin propped himself on his elbows, glaring at him.

“You are aware that I got home past 4 am after work, right?” he said.

Hoseok grinned, nodding. “That’s exactly why you need to get up.”

Jimin climbed out of bed, stumbling to his closet to grab some clothes and Hoseok stood up as well, going for the door.

“Wheein left some mackerel for us, I’ll heat it up.”

Jimin made a noise in acknowledgement as he shoved a t-shirt down his head, yawning all the way to the washroom and back to his room to finish getting ready. No point in getting back to sleep now.

Hoseok was already placing bowls of rice and side dishes on the table when he got to the tiny kitchen in their shared apartment. They had all moved to Seoul almost a year ago, at Wheein’s insistence. She wanted to give it a try at living in the big city, arguing that they might have better chances of finding good jobs.

It had been more difficult than what they thought.

Wheein, with her big smile and cute features, had managed to get a job in retail in a high-end store in the middle of Gangnam. Hoseok, on the other hand, worked as a gardener in a professional company, catering to the big families in the city. It had been hard for him at the beginning but his boss had encouraged him to learn the trade, so he was most likely staying in the business.

Out of the three, Jimin had taken the shortest straw.

Weeks of searching for a job had only given him a spot at a bar, where he worked as a bartender. His boss was a nice guy - chatty and owner of a handsome smile. His patrons, however, tended to be obnoxious, always trying to get into Jimin’s pants. Still, the job paid enough to have food in his mouth and a shared roof on top of his head.

Jimin yawned once again, sitting on a chair and Hoseok pushed a mug of instant coffee into his hand.

The liquid was bitter and acidic against his tongue, but Jimin drank it anyways, feeling his limbs finally starting to wake up.

“So,” said Hoseok, around a mouthful of rice. Jimin made a face.

“So what,” he said, adding some kimchi to his rice.

“I got you a job...well, an offer for a job.”

Jimin paused with his mug halfway to the table, giving his friend an incredulous look.

“I have a job, hyung. Just in case you forgot,” he replied, letting go of the mug, breaking a piece of mackerel and putting it in his mouth.

Hoseok sighed, pressing his lips in a tight line. “I mean, a job where there’s no risk of someone assaulting you every time you wanna take a piss.”

Jimin laughed. He knew Hoseok didn’t approve of his job. He had indeed begged him countless times to just quit and join him in the flower glory (as he liked to call his job). Jimin always said no, it wasn’t for him. After Jeonghan, he seriously doubted in his ability to protect another life.

“That does sound appealing.”

Hoseok nodded, excited.

“Yes, just listen. So I was working yesterday and the cook of the house told me that they were looking for a new chauffeur.” Jimin raised his eyebrows in a silent question and Hoseok huffed. “That’s you Jiminnie! You know how to drive and they pay really well.”

“I don’t have any experience doing that though,” he said doubtful.

Hoseok made a dismissive gesture, almost toppling over the flowers Wheein had placed on the table.

“That’s ok. I already arranged with my friend to put a good word for you - his name is Jin, by the way - so you just have to show up in your best suit.”

“I don’t have a suit.”

“You can borrow mine,” Hoseok glanced at the clock, drinking his orange juice in one go before standing up. “I gotta go but promise you’ll go, ok? It would really help us if you earned a little more. I’ll give you a lift, we work over there tomorrow.”

“Alright,” agreed Jimin, shooing him away.

He collected the dirty dishes, quickly washing them before going for a shower. Chauffeur...that didn’t sound so bad, especially if he could avoid the butt slaps.

“You’d be happier, right baby?” he murmured, stepping under the spray.

 

♡♡♡

 

“Hurry up, we can’t be late!”

Hoseok knocked on Jimin’s bedroom door for good measure, even though he knew his friend was already awake.

In the kitchen, Wheein hummed while packing lunch for the three of them. It was almost 6 am, soon they would all need to head out so they would make it on time for their jobs at the other side of the city. Hoseok moved around her, dropping a kiss on her cheek as he reached for his coffee mug.

“Is Jiminnie ready?” she asked, smiling at him. Hoseok took a moment to appreciate the dimple on her cheek.

“God, you are beautiful,” he said as a reply. Wheein laughed, shoving him away, a soft blush coloring her face.

“Gross,” murmured Jimin, making his way to the kitchen, though his voice was fond. Breakfast was a rushed affair and soon enough, they were heading out the door.

Hoseok kissed Wheein, holding her face until she slapped him, laughing into the kiss.

Wheein hugged Jimin, wishing him good luck.

Jimin tried not to ruin Hoseok’s suit as he climbed onto the scooter behind him.

Wheein had spent hours the night before adjusting it so it would fit Jimin, he had to be careful. It was late August, the last bit of summer burning brightly as the sun made its way up, but the morning was chilly. Jimin could feel his cheeks cooling as they cruised through the city, the buzz of the working class like background music for their trip.

He was going to get this job. The late nights at the bar would finally stop and Jimin would be able to have breakfast with his friends again. Maybe he could even save some money and finally go to Busan - visiting Jeonghan after a year sounded like a great plan.

“Wish me luck love,” he murmured, bringing the ring dangling from his neck to his lips.

 

Yoongi got out of his car, giving the keys to the man waiting for him, before making his way to the door.

He was bringing a box of Jeongguk’s (and his mother’s) favourite pastries, in hopes that the younger boy would finally forgive him. Yoongi was aware that it had been his fault, but he was bad at apologies, considering that actions spoke more than words. After a conversation with Namjoon - and some yelling courtesy of Taehyung - he had decided to convince Jeongguk’s mother to let him go back to school.

Yoongi was still not entirely comfortable with the situation, with allowing Jeongguk to go into the world on his own. Sometimes he would still wake up at night, heart hammering, thinking that he lost him - that the transplant never worked. He recognized though that Namjoon was right. Jeongguk was young (sometimes Yoongi forgot how much younger he was), eager to find his place in this newfound life.

The door opened, a maid smiling at him as she made room for him to enter. Yoongi gave her a curt nod, walking straight to the sunroom at the back. He knew his (future) mother-in-law would be there. He also knew she was going to drop the news to Jeongguk during their shared breakfast, and he wanted to be present.

Having his boyfriend mad at him wasn’t something Yoongi enjoyed.

“Ah, Yoongi darling. What a surprise,” Nam Jisoo said, offering her hand.

Jeongguk’s mother was a beautiful woman, with big doe eyes and lush hair. Yoongi always thought that his boyfriend looked a lot like her, except for his nose. That had come from Mr. Jeon.

“Radiant as always, Jisoo,” he said, bending down to drop a kiss on her knuckles.

She squeezed his hand slightly in greeting and Yoongi sat across from her, lifting the box so the maid would take it away.

“I’m glad you came,” Jisoo said, signaling for another maid to pour tea in their cups. The house staff walked around the table, uncovering dishes and bringing jars with chilled juice, along with Yoongi’s pastries. “Ah, you brought our favorites, you spoil us too much.”

“It’s never too much for you, Jisoo. I consider you as my own mother,” said Yoongi, sipping his tea.

She looked at him fondly. “My son is so very lucky to have you. I’m sorry he’s so difficult sometimes.”

“Who’s difficult?” came Jeongguk’s voice and Yoongi looked at him.

His boyfriend was still wearing his pajamas, his unruly bed head making him look soft. He gave him a tentative smile but Jeongguk ignored him, plopping himself on a chair at the table. Yoongi caught the exact moment his boyfriend’s eyes spotted the pastries on the table. The boy’s lips twitched and Yoongi knew he had been partially forgiven.

The rest would come with the college news.

They ate mostly in silent, Jisoo asking some questions here and there about Yoongi’s residency. He replied promptly to each one of them, his eyes never leaving Jeongguk who was still working around his oatmeal. He hadn’t touched any of the lemon tarts, even though he was crazy about them.

At some point, a young maid - Mina, if Yoongi remembered correctly - came into the room carrying a small tray. She stopped next to Jeongguk, murmuring a soft ‘master’, before offering a plate containing his medication. Yoongi’s eyes followed his boyfriend’s hands as he took the pills, swallowing them one by one.

Just as the last one disappeared, Yoongi breathed again. Another day, everything was ok.

“Son, I have something to discuss with you,” said Jisoo, taking one lemon tart and placing it on Jeongguk’s plate.

Jeongguk stared at the pastry.

“What about, mom.”

“After much thinking,” she said, “Your father and I had decided to let you go back to college.”

Jeongguk quickly looked at his mother. “Really?”

“Yes, the only condition will be that you take it easy. Three to four classes at most.”

Jeongguk was beaming. “Just that?”

Jisoo sipped on her tea.

“There’s just one more thing,” she said, lowering her cup. “You will be taken back and forth by a chauffeur. We don’t feel confident with you driving by yourself.”

“I’m ok with that,” said Jeongguk, grinning. “I’m ok with everything. Thank you mom.”

“Don’t thank me,” Jisoo dismissed, disinterestedly folding her napkin in two. “It wasn’t me who spent three hours talking to your dad...”

Jeongguk looked at Yoongi briefly, attention focusing back on his plate.

He lifted the pastry to his lips.

Yoongi smiled. Seemed he would not be sleeping alone tonight.

 

♡♡♡

 

“Who is that, Oppa?”

Seokjin lifted his eyes from the saucepan to find Mina perched on the chair by the window, half hiding behind the curtains as she peered outside.

“Who’s who?” he asked, going back to closely look at the risotto.

Mina didn’t answer immediately, her eyes following the stranger outside hungrily. Seokjin snorted softly, adding another ladle of broth. He didn’t particularly approve of not eating a risotto straight after it was done, but the Madam wanted his future son-in-law to have something nice for lunch, so who was he to go against her desires?

Mina sighed. “There’s a boy outside, in a suit? Any idea who he might be?”

Seokjin reached for the butter, dropping a healthy amount along with some cheese. Two more seconds and it was done. He removed it from the heat, placing the creamy perfection in a glass container. His heart broke. What a waste of a perfect comfort food. He left the dish to cool down for a bit, moving to stand beside the girl.

Pushing the curtains to the side, he squinted in the midday sun until his eyes landed on a brown haired boy in a suit.

“Ah, he’s Hoseok’s friend,” he said, closing the curtains in one go. “Go back to work.”

Mina scowled, straightening her uniform and grabbing the duster.

“Do you know why he’s here at least?” she asked, following Seokjin who was now collecting the dirty dishes and placing them in the sink.

“Why would I tell you?” he asked, a little amused.

“Oppa!” she whined, stomping her feet. Seokjin turned around to find her pouting, puppy eyes on display.

He chuckled.

“His name is Jimin. He’s here to try for the spot as Master’s chauffeur.”

“Jeongguk is getting a personal driver?” Mina said, eyebrows furrowing and Seokjin pinched her arm. “Ouch, Oppa that hurts!”

“What did I tell you about going around calling Master by his first name?” he scolded. “Do you wanna lose your job?”

“But he’s younger than me.” Mina rubbed her arm.

“And he’s the son of your boss.” Seokjin started pushing her out of the kitchen. “Now be a good girl and go clean.”

“I’m still sore though.” Mina pouted some more at the kitchen door and Seokjin rolled his eyes.

“I’ll save you some creme brulee,” he said, shooing her away.

 

“You will refer to the Lady as ‘Madam’ and nothing else. Only speak when she addresses you directly. Only sit when she indicates you can do so.” The butler stopped in front of a set of double doors. “Understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

The man eyed him disdainfully, before knocking on the door twice. He cleared his throat, stepping inside and saying something Jimin wasn’t able to catch. Seconds later, he opened the door wider.

“Mrs. Nam will see you now.”

Jimin bowed politely, walking past the butler and into the room, where a woman waited for him. She smiled briefly at Jimin’s greeting, only to go back to the documents she held in her hand. For what seemed like a long time, Jimin stood there, back almost pressed against the closed doors. Eyes not daring to look anywhere but the oak desk dominating the room.

With a sigh, Nam Jisoo finally looked up, her gaze seizing Jimin.

“Mr. Park, please,” she said, indicating the chair opposite to her. Jimin made forward, back ruler straight as he faced her. “You are fairly young and with no experience. I wouldn’t even consider you if it weren’t for Seokjin vouching for your capabilities. Who am I not to trust someone who makes such a good risotto. Do you like risotto Jimin?”

He opened his mouth to reply that he wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but it didn’t seem she was expecting him to answer, for she continued right away.

“Of course you don’t. It isn’t something you can get at stalls on the street.” She patted her hair, smiling again. “Anyways, do you know what you are applying for?”

That Jimin knew. “For the chauffeur position, Madam.”

“That’s right. I want a chauffeur to take my son back and forth from home to school, make sure he gets where he needs to go in a safe and timely manner. Do you think you’d be able to do that?”

“Absolutely,” he replied, with conviction.

“Great. I see that you are CPR certified as well. Why is that?”

“I was a manager in a supermarket in Busan. I took the course back then.” Jisoo stared at Jimin with such intensity that he felt the need to squirm in his seat.

He didn’t.

Seemingly satisfied with what she saw, Nam Jisoo reached forward to press a button on her phone. She turned then to Jimin.

“You’ll be in probation for the first week. Mr. Jang - our butler - will show you to the staff quarters and he will give you the uniform. I will expect you to wear it every day. You will also be provided with a cellphone so my son can contact you easily,” she said and Jimin had to resist the urge to fist bump the air. Hoseok would be so happy. “If you have any questions, please discuss it with Mr. Jang as well, he is in charge of managing the house staff. Is it all clear?”

“Yes Madam,” said Jimin, standing up as he guessed his time was up.

“Perfect,” Nam Jisoo said, her attention now fully focused on something else. “Welcome to the Jeon house.”

 

Back at his house, Wheein opened a bottle of sparkling wine.

It wasn’t really champagne, and most certainly it wasn’t one of the best quality, but it was sweet enough to brave the bad aftertaste. Hoseok whooped as he grilled little bits of meat and veggies, so they could have a celebration.

“For Jiminnie and his new job!” Wheein said, a few hairs spilling from her messy bun.

“And for better days to come!” added Hoseok cheerfully. “Maybe we can finally move to a place with thicker walls.”

The three of them laughed, glasses emptying - one after the other.

Jimin touched the band hanging from his neck lightly. It was indeed a new start. He could feel it in his heart.

 

♡♡♡

 

“Morning sleepyhead.”

Jeongguk stirred at the feeling of soft lips on his temple. He opened one eye to find Yoongi propped on his elbow, looking at him. The room was still cloaked in darkness, making it difficult not to fall back asleep.

“What time is it?” he croaked, stretching his muscles.

“Around five. Get ready so I can drop you off at home, you can sleep in the car.” Yoongi climbed out of bed, walking straight to the washroom and closing the door behind him.

Jeongguk rolled over, searching blindly for his underwear on the floor beside the bed. His hand closed on a piece of cloth that ought to be his sleeping t-shirt, so he put it on before turning on the light. By the time Yoongi came out of his room wearing scrubs, Jeongguk was dozing off at the kitchen table.

Yoongi chuckled, grabbing his backpack before walking over to the boy and kissing his cheek.

“C’mon, my rounds start at seven.”

They rode in silence, mainly because Jeongguk fell asleep a soon as the door was closing behind him. Yoongi didn’t mind. There was nothing that made him feel more accomplished in life than taking care of his boyfriend. That and his career. Which had also been the reason for him finding Jeongguk, when all motivation in life had been practically lost. Jeongguk not also gave him back the conviction that medicine was his path in life, but also he gave him love. And even though Yoongi didn’t consider himself a romantic, he believed that they had been brought together for a reason. Beyond the patient/doctor relationship.

The car was still purring under them when Yoongi kissed Jeongguk goodbye, reminding him as always to take his medicine, to not exert himself. To take it easy. Just the same, Jeongguk just rolled his eyes, much used to the concern never leaving his boyfriend’s words. He understood, but there were days in which he wished he could just live as a normal boy.

As everyone else.

Jeongguk waited until Yoongi’s car disappeared from sight to turn towards the house. The staff was already in motion, he could see the light of the kitchen on. Seokjin was probably already baking for breakfast.

He yawned, smacking his lips together. It was still early and school didn’t start until a couple hours. Jeongguk considered going to the kitchen, maybe snatch some sweets when Seokjin wasn’t looking, but decided against it last minute.

It was the first day of school. His first day after almost four years. Excitement ran through his veins as he started for the stairs. Best to catch up some sleep while he could, he had a feeling that he was going to need all the energy he could get.

 

Just as Jeongguk was closing the main door, Jimin was opening the back door leading to the kitchen.

It was his first day and he already felt exhausted. The commute from his house to his new work took him two hours, and that was with Hoseok giving him a ride to the main bus stop. He wondered if they would allow him to take the car back to his place each day, otherwise things would be getting pretty rough.

The butler, Mr. Jang, had told him to meet him in the kitchen on his first day. He was expecting no one to be in the place except said man, but to his surprise, the kitchen was alive with people. Maids and cooks alike were all chatting animatedly, as they started to get ready for the day. Jimin hovered awkwardly at the threshold, not sure if he should step further in.

He looked around once more, finally spotting someone familiar. There was a man in front of the oven, busy taking out trays of what Jimin assumed were muffins. He fit the description Hoseok had given him: broad shoulders and a face that belonged in skin care products’ ads. That ought to be Kim Seokjin.

Jimin made a beeline toward him, clearing his throat.

“Excuse me, are you Kim Seokjin?”

The man placed the muffins on a rack to cool down, the smell of blueberries filling the air and making Jimin’s stomach growl.

“That’s right,” the cook confirmed, a smile on his face. “And you must be Jimin, right?”

He opened his mouth to confirm when a girl manifested by Seokjin.

“I’m Mina,” she said extending a hand. Jimin shook it, bowing politely and the girl giggled. “Whoa such a gentleman,” she commented, earning a snort from a boy polishing cups before placing them on a cart. Mina made a face at him. “That’s right Yugyeom, a gentleman. It would do you good to learn a thing or two.”

Jimin smiled, embarrassed and Seokjin tsked, shooing the girl away. He was turning to Jimin to offer him a muffin, when the main doors of the kitchen opened, announcing the arrival of Mr. Jang. Everyone in the kitchen went quiet, concentrating only on their tasks at hand. The butler scanned the room, eyes finally landing on Jimin.

“Mr. Park, if you would,” he said, turning on his heels and walking down a corridor right beside the door.

Jimin followed him to a room where the man handed him what he assumed would be his uniform.

“The staff’s washroom is that way,” he said pointing towards the end of the corridor. “Breakfast as well as most meals are provided as a complement to your payment. Here is Master’s schedule,” he said handing Jimin a document along with a cellphone. “Make sure you are always ready for when he might need you, that includes occasional calls outside his school commitments. Just as with Mrs. Nam, you will address him with respect and call him Master Jeon as everyone else. Any questions?”

Jimin lifted his eyes from the document.

“Emm...I don’t see any night classes. Am I not supposed to drive Master to his private school lessons as well?”

The butler frowned, almost snorting.

“Of course not. Master is not a high school student anymore. He goes to University.”

Jimin’s mouth formed a perfect O.

 

When Jimin emerged from the washroom, only Seokjin and Yugyeom remained in the kitchen. The uniform was stiff and foreign on his skin and the hat made him look stupid, but the promise of warm food was stronger than his shame.

Seokjin chuckled when he saw his face, but motioned him to sit at the table.

“I know wearing a uniform is awkward but you’ll get used to it,” he commented, placing a bowl of soup in front of him, along with rice and kimchi.

“Thank you, Mr. Kim,” he said with a smile in place.

“You can call me Hyung,” said Seokjin.

Jimin removed his jacket, opening the collar of his shirt to start eating. Seokjin, who was sitting in front of him, looked at him, eyes going to his neck.

“You’ll have to remove that if you don’t want Jang to yell at you.” he said, pointing at the chain visible around his collarbones. “We are not allowed to wear jewelry.”

Jimin’s hand flew up to cover the chain, his chest tightening. He hadn’t taken the necklace off ever since Jeonghan left him. It was like a security blanket. Every time he felt insecure or when the sadness of being alone in the world turned too much, he would find comfort in the cool metal against his skin.

“Is it a must?” he asked, chewing on his lip. Seokjin nodded. Slowly, Jimin reached behind his neck, unclasping the chain. He felt a little hollow.

The cook’s eyes found the rings hanging from the chain but didn’t say a word. Hoseok had mentioned Jimin’s situation when he asked for Seokjin’s recommendation. So instead of asking questions that would only upset the boy in front of him more, he stood up. Moving to the tray of muffins, Seokjin selected one, going back to the table.

“Save this for later,” he said, winking.

Jimin slipped the chain into his pocket.

 

Jeongguk woke up with a start.

His phone was blaring an obnoxious pop song - the only way in which he would actually hear it - and the sun was spilling into his room, warming it up.

He rolled out of bed with the first tendrils of excitement wrapping around his fingertips. He felt electric, like finally having something to look forward to. A voice in his head chided him for not considering Yoongi motivation enough, but he ignored it. There was just something else, something more to actually getting his life back.

Something that his boyfriend could not provide.

After years, it was finally Jeongguk against the world. No one else in the middle. It felt great. He showered quickly, his body as always bearing no evidence of his night with Yoongi. His boyfriend was a good man. Extremely careful...sometimes too careful. Jeongguk had fantasized many times about how it would feel to be consumed. To be claimed. Yoongi was much too clinical for that though, not willing to explore much. Keeping it safe and controlled. Always putting Jeongguk’s health as an excuse.

As he got dressed, Jeongguk wondered once again if maybe there was something wrong in him. If maybe his scars were too off putting and that was why his boyfriend seemed to take sex as nothing more than a task: straight to orgasms and no more.

Not wanting to ruin his mood and hence his first day back to being a normal young man, he made his way to the kitchen. The staff of the house was already busy with their daily tasks. They all stopped to greet him as he passed them, a gesture he returned.

Seokjin was at the stove when he opened the doors leading to the kitchen, no one else around but a maid Jeongguk knew had been hired recently. Mina. She had her eyes fixed on something outside and just like the cook, didn’t seem to notice him.

He cleared his throat.

Seokjin looked up, eyes going wide in recognition.

“Ah, Master Jeon. Sorry I was distracted,” he said, washing his hands and drying them on his apron. “What can I do for you?”

“Hyung,” said Jeongguk, sitting at the kitchen island. “How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Master.”

“Too risky if Jang is around,” said Seokjin, snapping his fingers. Mina looked over, almost squeaking as she found Jeongguk there. She quickly fetched Jeongguk’s medicine, along with a glass of water. He smiled, thanking her.

“Anything else Oppa?” Mina said, already moving back to her place at the kitchen window.

The cook frowned, pursing his lips.

“Yes, I’d love for you to start doing your chores if you wanna keep your job,” he said placing a bowl of oatmeal in front of Jeongguk. “Stop ogling that poor boy.”

Mina gasped, turning around. “I am not ogling him! It’s called appreciating the beauty, Oppa.”

Seokjin scoffed. The corners of Jeongguk’s lips twitched in amusement.

“Who’s the lucky man that caught your attention, Noona?” asked Jeongguk and Mina’s cheeks reddened.

“No one, Master Jeon,” she said hurriedly, her hands smoothing out her uniform. “I’ll go clean up the rooms.” And with a bow she disappeared from the kitchen.

Seokjin rolled his eyes. Jeongguk inched forward over the table, voice conspiratorial.

“So Hyung, who is the mystery man?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows. Seokjin shoved him back, pointing at his oatmeal. Jeongguk made a face.

“There’s no mystery. She is just a tad infatuated with the new chauffeur,” the cook explained, now placing a muffin in front of the boy. Jeongguk grinned, taking a bite from it. “Don’t tell your mom that I allowed you to skip your breakfast.”

Jeongguk nodded, moving to the window, curiosity poking at his tummy. For reasons he didn’t know, his heart skipped a beat.

“Is he handsome?” he asked, moving the curtains aside. There was no one. He turned around bewildered and slightly disappointed, clearly not knowing where the emotion was coming from.

“Are you ok?” asked Seokjin and Jeongguk noticed that he had unconsciously placed a hand over his heart. He took it down immediately.

“Yeah, I’m ok...it’s just…” Jeongguk turned around, looking at the gardens. “It’s nothing, Hyung.”

 

Jimin was waiting inside the car, fingers drumming on the steering wheel.

Mr. Jang had ordered him to get the car ready and in front on the house ten minutes before ‘Master Jeon’ would supposedly step out of the house. Jimin snorted at the title. Rich people and their snobby quirks, he thought, pouting. He eyed the clock, five more minutes to go. He was just reaching for the stereo to play some music, when the doors opened and Mr. Jang stepped outside carrying a backpack.

Jimin scrambled to get out of the car, putting on his hat in the process. The butler walked down the stairs, pushing the backpack against Jimin’s chest as soon as he reached him.

“You can wait in the car, I will wait for Master but - in the future - make sure you are here to open his door.”

Jimin nodded wordlessly, internally cursing the man as he got back in. He was insufferable. Voices came from the outside and Jimin squinted, trying to make out the face of the Jeon heir through the tinted glass. The butler was blocking the way and he briefly wondered how he would recognize him at the moment of pick up.

“He would have to find me,” murmured Jimin, facing back to the front.

 

The first thing Jeongguk noticed while getting in the car was the absolute absence of noise. There was no music coming from the radio, no voice greeting him...not even the soft idling breathing sound of another living entity encased with him in the same space. The second thing he noticed was the faint scent of male cologne. Not dark and spicy like his boyfriend’s, but light and airy - oceanic.

He peered at the chauffeur - who upon hearing the door closing - started the car, driving away. From his position in the back, he could just see his nape and the dark brown locks of hair wildly curling around the hat.

There was just something on the curve of his neck - the shape of his shoulders - that seemed oddly familiar.

Jeongguk considered if it would be too obvious if he shifted to the opposite side of the seat to have a better look at the man, when his eyes landed on the hands gripping the steering wheel.

He had small hands.

The idea of those hands curling against his back flashed through Jeongguk’s mind. His hand flew towards his stomach, where something shifted and grew - something like longing.

Jeongguk blinked rapidly as the feeling peaked and downed, tears prickling at his eyes. He took a deep, calming breath thinking that maybe it was the anxiety finally kicking in. But the stupid idea that he knew those hands just wouldn’t leave him alone.

Just when he was about to talk to his very silent chauffeur, the car stopped. Jeongguk looked outside, surprised to feel a tear rolling down his face. He stepped out of the car hastily, not even waiting for the other man to open his door. Running away.

Back in the car, Jimin rolled the window down, frowning at the figure almost barreling into the students chatting at the entrance.

“What a weird kid,” he muttered, driving away.

 

The rest of the day, Jeongguk felt like floating. Just letting the current take him wherever it wanted. He had forgotten how hectic and confusing college could be, so he just allowed the crowd to guide him. He said hi to everyone that said hi; he followed anyone that proclaimed there was something important to do. He ate his vegetables at the cafeteria.

It was exciting to be back, even if the majority of his classes were shared with freshmen. Jeongguk’s hands itched to be back to painting and he hoped his talents hadn’t evaporated in the years he spent bedridden. The encounter with his chauffeur was like a background buzz in his already busy mind, only coming back in full force when the last of his classes ended.

Jeongguk made his way to the front slowly, palms sweaty. He was nervous and a little eager to finally see the face of his chauffeur. The car with the emblem of his family was already parked right at the front. There was a boy standing beside it, too. The boy (man? he looked so young…) had chocolate brown hair, round cheeks and full lips. Those, Jeongguk noticed right away. He wasn’t very tall, but he wasn’t short either. Just right, a voice whispered in his ear as something flashed across his chest. Jeongguk felt his heart reach for him, desperate for the promise of something wonderful in those eyes that he had yet to see.

The boy by the car shifted on his feet and Jeongguk saw the gesture repeating in front of his eyes, different backgrounds but familiar all the same.

Deja vu.

Had they met before?

He was so distracted by the sight of the driver that he didn’t see the girl walking his way. She didn’t see him either. They met right in the middle of the stairs, papers flying all around them.

Jeongguk fell on his ass. From the corner of his eyes, he saw the boy stifle a laugh.

Amusement all but left the chauffeur’s face though, when he realized he had been laughing at his own boss.

“Something funny you want to share?” Jeongguk asked, his infamous resting bitch face in place (the one Taehyung swore he had mastered while he was in his mother’s womb).

The boy shook his head, looking at the floor as he opened the door. Jeongguk slid inside, his skin heating up in embarrassment.

Jimin walked around the car, cursing his bad luck. Of course he would have to laugh at the wrong person. He started driving right away, not wanting to anger his boss more than what he already did.

It didn’t work.

“Where are you going?” came a petulant voice from the back. “I don’t remember telling you where to go.”

Jimin took a deep breath, trying to control his temper. Patience, he had to be patient. For Wheein and Hoseok.

“I’m sorry,” he said, face impassive as he faced the front. “I just assumed you would be going home.”

The tilt in Jimin’s voice felt feather soft on Jeongguk’s skin.

“You were not hired to assume things, you were hired to follow orders.” Jeongguk didn’t know why he was reacting like this. He felt a little out of breath, his whole body going haywire. He was being rude as a defense mechanism even though no one was attacking him.

The words came from the back in a condescending way, but somehow they made Jimin’s insides tingle. He hated it.

“I will remember that, Master Jeon.”

 

♡♡♡

 

Yoongi rested his head against his locker, a weary sigh leaving his lips.

“Bad day?”

He turned around to find Namjoon leaning against the door of the changing room, his squash racquet dangling from his hand. Yoongi smiled, digging in his bag to get his own and moving to the door.

“I thought you and Taehyung were trying to gain weight for that whole bear thing,” he commented, falling into step with his friend.

“We are trying to get buff, yes. Not chubby,” Namjoon clarified, scanning his card as they entered the gym. The receptionist waved at them, the two friends nodding in response.

“You know squash is mostly cardio, right?” said Yoongi, adjusting a headband on his forehead. “It’s not gonna help you get big.”

“Oh...I know,” replied Namjoon, bouncing in place as he started to play. “But I really need to burn some fat. I feel like I’m gonna pop a vein if I don’t.”

Yoongi laughed, already a little breathless. They took turns hitting the ball, drifting left and right as the room was filled with the squeaky noise of their running shoes on the floor. It wasn’t until they were both panting, sweat sticking their t-shirts to their backs, that they decided to take a break. Namjoon dropped on the floor with a groan, little drops of sweat dangling from his makeshift mustache. Yoongi scrunched his nose in disgust, wiping his own sweat off with a towel.

“How’s Jeongguk?” asked Namjoon.

It was almost customary now, for him to ask about the boy every time there was a break in their workout sessions. For years this had been the only opportunity for Yoongi to let it all out, vent and curse at his heart’s desire - assured that his best friend would be there for him. Now that Jeongguk was back in health, they used these opportunities to just talk about their respective relationships and whine.

“He’s…” Yoongi considered the question. He was going to say fine, good, happy. But the words just died on his tongue. “He’s difficult. He’s been really fucking difficult,” he said instead.

Namjoon lifted his eyebrows in a silent gesture for him to go on. Yoongi groaned softly, scratching his head, before leaning against the wall.

“He used to be so understanding before. He never questioned my decisions and now...now we are almost fighting every day,” he explained. “I feel like letting him go back to school was a mistake.”

“Yoongi,” said Namjoon. “Jeongguk is not your son. Granted he is younger, a lot younger than you, but it isn’t your place allowing him to go to school or not. We talked about it, right?”

“I can’t help but feel protective over him,” argued Yoongi. “After everything that happened...I just want to keep him safe. But he insists on joining sport teams and going on trips with his new friends, I just...I mean, I’m his doctor. I should know better.”

Namjoon gulped some water from his bottle before replying.

“Sure, but you are his boyfriend first. Gukkie needs you to support him, not to take his temperature every time he sneezes.”

Yoongi scowled. “You just don’t get it.”

Namjoon scratched his eyebrow. His friend was right, he didn’t know how it felt to be about to lose the person you loved the most. He didn’t want to find out either. What he did know, was that Yoongi was digging his own grave.

“You need to calm down my friend,” Namjoon finally said. “Stop being a control freak and let him live.”

 

♡♡♡

 

When his mother questioned him about keeping his chauffeur, Jeongguk shrugged. He didn’t really care much.

The boy - Jimin, he had learned from Seokjin - was quiet and polite and always on time. He wasn’t like the other drivers from the house, the ones that would ask Jeongguk about his day. The ones that cared, that still considered him a miracle. Jimin just did what was expected from him, drive. No music, no chatting during traffic jams, no further interactions.

It was ok, Jeongguk didn’t mind it. But it bothered him.

It bothered him especially because Jimin did seem to interact with the rest of the staff at his house. Jeongguk had seen him more than once talking animatedly to them. He seemed to be well liked, more so among the maids. They were all blushy cheeks and flirty giggles around him and it never failed to make Jeongguk’s blood boil.

Right now, Jimin was leaning against a wall talking to Mina. The sleeves of his dress shirt were up and he had his hands buried in the pockets of his slacks. Whatever Mina was saying, it was making him smile softly. He smiled a lot, it seemed.

Jeongguk felt his nails digging painfully into the palms of his hands, and without thinking about it twice, he came out of his hiding spot. Not hiding, he scolded himself. You were not hiding, this is your house. You have the right to go anywhere you want.

No one seemed to notice him, since Jimin was half facing away from him and Mina was too concentrated on his face to care. Jeongguk cleared his throat.

The maid was the first one to glance over, immediately bowing.

“Master Jeon,” she said, flustered. “I’m so sorry, we didn’t notice...Do you need something?”

Jeongguk saw Jimin move in slow motion. The chauffeur straightened his posture, pushing his sleeves back down before facing him. As usual around Jeongguk, his eyes were focused somewhere around his chest. Never directed to his face.

He bowed. Jeongguk hated it.

“I’d like to go out,” he said, crossing his arms. Jimin nodded, turning around wordlessly. Mina lifted her eyebrows in surprise.

“But, Jimin-oppa,” she said, causing the boy to look at her. “It’s...What about lunch?”

“What do you mean?” asked Jeongguk, irritated at the girl still standing there. Oppa? Were they that close already?

The maid looked at him, fidgeting with the apron on her uniform. “We haven’t had lunch yet, the staff I mean, we were busy with the housework,” she explained. “And then we were waiting for Seokjin-oppa…” Jimin coughed softly and she trailed off. “I’m sorry Master Jeon, it isn’t my place to say a word.”

Jeongguk pursed his lips, facing Jimin.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” he asked and Jimin raised his eyes to look at him, maybe for the first time. They were dark brown, small and lovely. They made his heart jump.

“I thought I was hired to just follow orders...Sir,” he replied, gaze unwavering.

Jeongguk felt his cheeks heat up and he cleared his throat, uncomfortable. Mina took a step back.

“I...emm...I better go...” she half bowed, half stumbled in her haste to get away, but Jeongguk wasn’t paying attention to her.

He couldn’t take his eyes away from the boy looking at him in such a defiant way. He should feel offended, he should threaten to fire him for his bad attitude. Instead, he was frozen in place. Maybe a little turned on. God, Jimin was really beautiful from up close.

“It will just take me a few minutes to get the car ready,” Jimin said, finally looking away. “You can wait in the kitchen if you please.”

 

Mina flew into the kitchen, almost crashing into the center island where Seokjin was decorating a fruit tart. He scowled.

“What’s wrong with you now?” he asked, taking his apron off gratefully. He had been dying to have lunch already.

“Oppa,” she said, voice strained as she clutched his arm painfully. “Jimin is gonna get fired.”

Seokjin shook her away.

“Why would he get fired? And it’s oppa for you,” he said grabbing her by the shoulders and sitting her on a chair. Girls were always so dramatic.

“He was rude to Jeong- Master Jeon,” she explained, on the verge of pouting. “Oh my god, I didn’t even get to kiss him and he’s gonna get kicked out.”

“That’s very unlike Jiminnie,” commented Seokjin just when the back door was opening and Jeongguk was walking inside.

Seokjin raised his eyes, surprised. Jeongguk moved like in a daze, until he was dropping right across from Mina on the table. The girl jumped.

“Hyung…” he said. “Can I have a gimbap to go?”

 

Jimin parked right in front of the kitchen, noticing that Jeongguk was already waiting for him. He adjusted his hat before getting out of the car, walking around it to get the door for the other boy. Jeongguk fidgeted right before getting in, turning around to face Jimin. He offered him a tupperware. Jimin looked at it for a minute, finally extending his hand to take it.

“I’m sorry I’ve been such...such a dick,” started Jeongguk, feeling the signs of a blush coloring his neck. “I’m not usually a brat...I just...I’m sorry?”

Jimin breathed heavily through his nose, raising his eyes to look at Jeongguk. Doe eyes, dark as a starless night, looked back at him. He nodded.

“It’s alright.”

“No, it’s not,” murmured Jeongguk, the tip of his toe drawing invisible patterns on the concrete. Jimin’s lips twitched, he looked like a kid being scolded. It was absurdly endearing to see. “Can we like...can we start again?” he said hopeful, extended his hand. “My name is Jeon Jeongguk, thank you for taking care of me.”

Jimin gave him the tiniest smile, catching the offered hand on a light grip. Jeongguk’s breath hitched, the blush finally reaching his cheeks. Jimin’s eyebrows furrowed, the gesture leaving his face as soon as it came.

“Park Jimin, at your service,” he replied, withdrawing his hand away as if it burned. Jeongguk gave him a smile before getting into the car and Jimin closed the door behind him.

Even as he gripped the steering wheel with all his might, Jimin’s hand tingled during the whole ride.

 

♡♡♡

 

The wind was blowing outside, the leaves scattering over the lawn and Jeongguk couldn’t take his eyes away from Jimin.

He was waiting for Yoongi to come out from a last minute meeting with some member of his medical team, leaning by the window of the cafeteria. He felt bad for staring at his chauffeur, who was leaning against the car, unaware of the eyes settled on him. Things with Jimin had improved. They had improved a lot, in fact. Ever since Jeongguk decided to apologize for his rather rude behaviour.

Jimin would now greet him with a smile and answer politely to his questions when Jeongguk found enough courage to talk to him. He wasn’t sure why he always got so extremely nervous when he was around the other boy, all sweaty palms and lip bites. But it was a thing, he couldn’t control it. Especially in those moments when Jimin did something, sometimes minimal like a sneeze or a yawn, that managed to fill Jeongguk with unexplained yearning.

Jimin lifted his hand, pushing the hair away from his face and Jeongguk sighed, forehead pressed against the crystal.

“What is it so interesting outside?” came Yoongi’s voice and Jeongguk jumped, detaching himself from the windowsill to go wrap his arms around his boyfriend.

Yoongi chuckled at the sudden attack, his arms loosely holding the boy close. Jeongguk breathed in his characteristic smell: spicy cologne and hospital. It wasn’t a mixture most people would enjoy but it always brought some sort of comfort to Jeongguk. Today, however, there was something else - like a sweet undertone. Like women’s perfume.

“Who did you have the meeting with?” asked Jeongguk casually, leaning back to look at his boyfriend’s face. There were dark circles hidden behind the thick frames of Yoongi’s glasses.

“Oh,” said Yoongi, pulling him by his wrist to a table. “Hyejin, uh...we have this patient that is giving us some trouble so we are….discussing the right way to address the situation.”

Jeongguk nodded, sitting across from the doctor. He knew who he was talking about. Hyejin had seen him a couple of times while he was hospitalized.

“How is she, haven’t seen her in a while?” he commented, reaching for Yoongi’s hands to intertwine their fingers. Yoongi brought the hand to his lips, dropping a kiss.

“She is doing well. Busy, I guess, like everyone else. Thoracic surgery isn’t an easy placement.”

Jeongguk nodded, pursing his lips and Yoongi fought the need to coo at him. He knew his boyfriend wanted to say something.

“What is it, Love?” he asked, in a soft voice. Jeongguk laughed through his nose at being caught so easily.

“Can I...can I spend the night with you today?” he asked. “It’s been a while, like a lot while.”

“Oh,” replied Yoongi and Jeongguk waited.

He saw his boyfriend often, almost every day. Yoongi always made time at the end of his shifts to stop by the house and have dinner with them. Sometimes he would even drive all the way to his college so they could have lunch together. But the times they had alone, where Jeongguk could actually kiss him and do more, were extremely limited. If he was right, the last time they had had sex had been almost two weeks ago.

Too long, in Jeongguk’s opinion.

“Like we could maybe watch a movie and order take out,” suggested Jeongguk at Yoongi’s silence. “Kiss a little...you know,” he added, blushing.

Yoongi smiled awkwardly. “Love, today…” he started, his eyebrows furrowed and Jeongguk felt himself deflating. “I actually have another meeting later today so I’m not sure…”

“You always have meetings,”Jeongguk whined. “It’s always the same.”

“Jeongguk…”

“It's like you are avoiding me or something.”

“That's an exaggeration,” commented Yoongi, uncomfortable.

“No, no Yoongi. It's not,” argued Jeongguk. “Like, I never get to see you alone anymore, we barely have moments for us.”

“Is this about sex? We didn't have sex at all while you were sick either, Love,” remarked Yoongi, a little annoyed himself. “I’m not sure why it’s such a big deal now.”

“It’s not the sex,” said Jeongguk angrily, earning a few glances from the people in the cafeteria. “You always find excuses not to spend time with me.”

“Now you are being unfair Jeongguk,” Yoongi crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Must I remind you of all the times I go out of my way to see you at home or school?”

“No, you don’t,” said Jeongguk standing up and gathering his things. He had come prepared for Yoongi to say yes and now tears prickled at his eyes.

“Jeongguk-” Yoongi reached for him but his boyfriend was too worked up to think rationally.

“Save it,” Jeongguk said. “I’m going home.”

Yoongi sighed, rubbing his temples. He cursed under his breath as he turned around to find Hyejin looking at him from the vending machine. As soon as he was within range, she offered him a cup of coffee that he accepted. The liquid was plain on his tongue as they walked, but it was enough to calm down his nerves.

“Trouble with the kid,” she asked flippantly and Yoongi glared darkly at her.

“Don’t talk about him,” he spat, opening the door to their shared office. It smelled like her, sweet and decadent.

“Why?” she said, taking a seat and crossing her legs. The hem of her skirt ran up and revealed her smooth skin. “Feeling guilty?”

Yoongi almost growled, he wasn’t sure if it was out of rage or contained desire. She was dangerous, the most dangerous person he had ever met.

“Let’s get back to work,” he said instead, opening the files scattered on top of his desk.

“You know it’s impossible to keep this a secret for long, he’ll find out about it eventually,” she commented, opening her files as well.

“No, he won’t.” Yoongi almost stabbed the documents with his pen. “What happened between us was a one time mistake. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Hyejin smirked, already satisfied with her colleague’s reaction.

“Do you think Mr. Yang would need catheterization?” she asked, getting back on track.

Yoongi sighed, loosening his tie.

 

♡♡♡

 

Jimin was enjoying the early fall breeze and looking forward to having a proper meal, when he spotted Jeongguk storming out the doors of the hospital.

He had told him that most likely he would not be getting back home, but to wait just in case. That he would sent him a text message when he could leave. Guess things didn’t go well. Jimin was aware of the fact that the young Jeon was dating a doctor. He had seen Min Yoongi himself a couple times, in all his bleached haired glory. The doctor was attractive, Jimin supposed - edgy with a rather pretty face. Jimin had never seen him smile.

It was surprising to Jimin that Jeongguk would go for someone like Yoongi. He looked so serious and collected, so much older than the other boy. Seokjin told him that it was just the image that Yoongi projected, when he made a comment about it. That the doctor had a soft spot for Jeongguk. Mina told him that the doctor was just waiting to graduate to ask for Jeongguk’s hand. Jimin had only lifted his eyebrows at that piece of information. Still something deep inside Jimin kept feeling that they shouldn't be together. That it was...wrong.

Not that he had an opinion in the matter.

Jeongguk was maybe two meters away when Jimin saw the tears. They were not spilling down the boy’s cheeks but they were barely contained in his eyes. It made Jimin’s hand go into fists. He opened his mouth to say something - what, he wasn’t sure - but Jeongguk shook his head, ducking into the car instead.

Jimin started the car, glancing every now and then through the rearview mirror at Jeongguk. He was staring out the window, biting his lip so hard Jimin knew it would draw blood. He squirmed on his seat, unsure of what to do. Should he ask him what happened? Would that be considered crossing the line?

Jeongguk had been much nicer to him after their little talk, and Jimin wanted to keep it that way. He wanted to be on the good side of the boy and keep his job. The pay was so much better than his shitty shifts at the bar. It had lifted the weight off of Wheein’s shoulders, even allowing his friends to start saving for their future wedding.

He wanted to keep it, but at the same time he didn’t want to place a barrier between him and his charge. Jimin was friendly by nature. At the end, it was the quiet sniffing coming from the back that did it. Jimin turned the car in the next light, deviating from the normal route he took to the Jeon’s house.

If Jeongguk noticed, he didn’t say anything, so Jimin drove until they were reaching his favourite place to eat street food. He stopped the car, turning around to look at Jeongguk.

“Where are we?” Jeongguk asked, only then noticing the foreign place.

“You looked like you needed a break,” Jimin replied. “Are you hungry?”

 

Jeongguk had never been to a street food stall before.

He had seen them on TV. He had heard Taehyung rant about the one close to his house, swearing on his Grandma that it had the best soju of the world. Jeongguk had been much too young and then too sick to ever have the opportunity to go to one, so he followed Jimin without saying a word.

The place smelled strongly of oil and comfort food and his mouth watered. It was so against to the usual things Yoongi - and as a consequence, his mother - would let him enjoy, that a thrill ran through his veins.

“Jiminnie!” a woman came by their table, placing a bottle of soju and two glasses on their table. Jeongguk stared at it, he’d never had it before. “What do you want? The usual?”

“Hey Noona,” said Jimin, looking at Jeongguk expectantly. The boy shrugged, unsure of what he wanted. “Can we have some Korean pancakes and tteokbokki for now?”

The woman nodded, ruffling Jimin’s hair affectionately, before walking away. She yelled an order to the other woman cooking, making Jeongguk jerk on his stool and Jimin laughed. He laughed letting his head fall back and Jeongguk grinned at him sheepishly.

“You aren’t used to this kind of places, Master Jeon?” he said.

Jeongguk shook his head. “No, it’s my first time in a place like this. And it’s Jeongguk. Please just call me Jeongguk.”

Jimin studied him for a few seconds, before nodding. He removed his jacket, rolling the sleeves of his shirt up his forearms, reaching for the bottle of soju. He poured some in the glasses, offering one to Jeongguk.

“You have to take it in one go, like this,” Jimin drank his shot in demonstration, hitting his chest after leaving the glass on the table. “Ok?”

Jeongguk nodded, taking his own glass and sniffing the content. It smelled alright, nothing like he imagined poison would, so he drank it. And then he choked on it. He started coughing as the liquid burned down his throat. Jimin laughed even louder than before, coming around to slap him on the back until he was able to breathe again.

“Thank you...” Jeongguk left the expression hanging in the air, he wasn’t sure if he could drop the formalities around Jimin just yet.

“Hyung,” said Jimin, catching on the meaning of the pause. “You can call me Hyung.”

Jeongguk nodded, pouring himself another glass of soju and drinking it in one go. This time around without choking. There was warmth spreading all over his chest and he wasn’t sure if it was just the alcohol or Jimin’s words.

The food came around then, Jeongguk marveling at the taste in his mouth. He was making little appreciative noises as he ate and Jimin found himself smiling at it. There was something so sweet on the way he stuffed his mouth with the greasy food. Like a kid going to an amusement park and discovering the miracle of cotton candy.

“You should slow down,” suggested Jimin, drinking some water to wash down the spiciness of the dishes. “You are going to make yourself sick.”

Jeongguk nodded, his ears going red in embarrassment. He pushed the container of tteokbokki towards Jimin, folding his hands on his lap.

“Sorry,” he said after swallowing. “It’s the first time that I get to try something like this.”

“Really?” asked Jimin, eyebrows lifting in surprise. “Why? Isn’t this like the staple of college student’s food?”

Jeongguk blinked at him. Could it be that Jimin didn’t know? He had just assumed all the staff at home already knew about his previous condition. He debated shortly between keeping quiet or telling the truth, opting for a point halfway.

“I wouldn’t know, I...I was sick...for a while,” he explained, pouring soju into a glass. He offered it to Jimin, but he denied, jiggling the car keys. Jeongguk drank it. “I’m actually just going into my first year again, taking it from where I left it.”

Jimin nodded in understanding, eyes warily judging the array of oily treats in the middle of them.

“I’m completely healthy now, though,” said Jeongguk hurriedly. “This is fine, really. I just want to get back to my life as it’s supposed to be, don’t treat me differently,” he continued, voice dropping as he was reminded once again of Yoongi. “Please don’t treat me differently, I just...I want to feel normal again-”

Jeongguk trailed off, eyes going to the plastic window of the tent currently shielding them from the cold.

“You wanna talk about it?” asked Jimin softly. “Maybe I can help.”

The corner of Jeongguk’s lip lifted. “What, are you an expert in matters of the heart besides being a chauffeur?”

Jimin lips twitched in amusement. He stood up, calling for the woman tending the tables and leaving some bills under the soju bottle.

“C’mon.”

 

Jeongguk followed Jimin out of the tent and back into the car. They drove in silence for a couple of minutes until they were parking on a lot by the Han River. Jimin advised him to put on a jacket, that it was probably cold, so Jeongguk shrugged it on before getting out. The soju still swirled in his stomach, so he doubted there was any chance to feel cold. They walked until they spotted a little bench overseeing the water.

Jimin sat, patting the spot beside him.

Jeongguk’s stomach tightened. He was feeling nervous at the prospect of being so close to the other boy. There was something in Jimin that always left him feeling out of place. Like whatever they were doing was not enough. Like they ought to be closer.

He sat, feeling little pinpricks on his skin and he shivered.

“Are you cold?” asked Jimin, moving a little closer, maybe trying to share body heat. They were not touching but Jeongguk almost felt his breath hitch. “We could go back.”

“No,” said Jeongguk, a little too fast, startling Jimin. “I...I like it here.”

Jimin nodded, making a gesture for Jeongguk to talk. Jeongguk sighed.

“It’s Yoongi - my boyfriend? - he’s...he treats me like...like a little kid,” started Jeongguk, hands hiding under his thighs. “He never wants me to do anything if he isn’t there. I’ve missed every outdoor trip my class has taken because he manages to talk my mom into believing I’m some sort of delicate thing about to break.”

“You know those are signs that he cares about you, right?” commented Jimin, a touch of amusement on his voice. “Most people would complain about the opposite.”

“I know but...I wanna be treated like a man, not like a baby.” Jeongguk pouted cutely and Jimin bit his lip, a little mesmerized. “And it isn’t just in school stuff, it’s everything. He takes too many precautions...he doesn’t even fuck me properly…” he added softly, cheeks going a deep red.

Jimin laughed, feeling his own neck heating up at the confession. For some reason, Jeongguk’s gestures and demeanor in general reminded him a little of Jeonghan: the pouting and the slightly bratty attitude. Jeongguk’s blush intensified at Jimin’s response and he bumped his shoulder against him, trying to communicate his embarrassment.

“You are being too hard on him,” Jimin said, after composing himself. “It seems to me that he’s doing his best to take care of you. Maybe he’s just not over the fact that you were sick. Maybe he’s afraid it will come back if he isn’t careful.”

Jeongguk frowned.

“It can’t come back, I’m healthy,” he countered. “Besides, why are you defending him so much? You are supposed to be on my side, you are my chauffeur.”

Jimin laughed again, throwing his head back and the sound made something flutter in Jeongguk’s tummy. Uh oh.

“Maybe because I know how it feels,” Jimin replied, eyes going to his lap as a soft smile decorated his lips. “To care for someone like that.”

Jeongguk’s heart jolted.

“Ah...do you have a special someone hiding somewhere?” he asked trying for nonchalance but still detecting the bitter aftertaste of jealousy on his words. He shifted a little, uncomfortable, c’mon Jeongguk, get a grip.

“I do,” replied Jimin promptly. “Did...actually...I did.”

“It didn’t work out?”

Curiosity swirled inside Jeongguk as he caught Jimin going still for a few seconds. The boy seemed to be debating something, before reaching into the pocket of his pants. He retrieved what seemed to be a chain, from which two rings hung.

‘Not rings’ supplied Jeongguk’s brain. ‘Wedding bands’. His stomach churned at the view.

“It did work out,” Jimin’s voice was quiet and coming out in sepia tones. Like a thing from the past. “He, emm...he left...there was an accident...” he paused, before handing Jeongguk the rings, so he could look at them more closely. “We were married...for almost 3 years.”

Jeongguk felt his eyes go wet as he looked at the bands in his palm, his own heart throbbing in his chest. He debated for the right words to say. He had to say something.

“I’m sorry,” he finally croaked out, a tear breaking free and going down his cheek. He was overcome by sudden grief, so intense that his nails dug into the fabric of his pants. Jeongguk wasn’t sure where it was coming from. “Oh god,” he said, drying his face. “Sorry I...I’m so-” he released a shuddering breath, trying to collect himself.

Jimin muttered a soft ‘hey’, taking the rings out of his hand while he rubbed at his back. Another tear managed to slide down and this one Jimin caught, his thumb brushing softly over Jeongguk’s cheek. He closed his eyes, the pain in his chest intensifying.

“Are you ok?” asked Jimin. “I’m sorry...It wasn’t my intention to make you upset.”

Jeongguk shook his head vigorously. He fought against the clogging in his throat, taking deep breaths. He was probably projecting, it should be that.

“I’m ok, it’s just...I guess it just reminded me of what could have happened, you know?...To Yoongi and me.”

“It was pretty serious, huh?”

Jeongguk only nodded in response, bringing his legs close to his chest. He rested his cheek on his knees as he looked at Jimin. His eyes were lost in the ripples of the water but he seemed calm, though there was a sad set on his lips. Jeongguk closed his eyes.

“Talk to your boyfriend,” said Jimin after a while. “Don’t let the problem drag, alright?”

His voice was a little rough and Jeongguk’s eyes fluttered open to find Jimin staring at him. He was glowing in the setting sun, the strands of his hair shining like molten copper. Jeongguk wondered if they were as soft as some stupid part of him believed to remember. Like if he had dragged his fingers countless times through it.

Like if, somehow, he had had the right to touch Jimin in such an intimate way.

A soft breeze ruffled Jeongguk’s fringe, making the hair fall into his eyes and Jimin reached forward, his finger brushing gently over his forehead and then down his cheek.

Jeongguk sighed, a pleasant shiver running down his spine at the warmth. As quickly as they came, Jimin’s fingers were gone and he was standing up. He couldn’t look at his face in the fire of the sunset but Jeongguk knew that whatever they had in those short moments, had passed.

“I think it’s best...Let’s go back.”

Jeongguk glanced one last time at the shimmering waters of the Han River, before following Jimin to the car.

 

♡♡♡

 

It was a surprisingly warm fall day and Jimin basked in the sun while Hoseok talked his ears off, in the middle of weeding the grass.

Sweat made Hoseok’s skin shine as he rested back on his ankles, his arms coming up to collect the drops before they fell into his eyes. Jimin was leaning against the wall beside him, hands in the pockets of his overalls, his eyes fixed on something across the lawn. Hoseok followed the line of sight, surprised to see the son of the family talking animatedly with someone coming out of a car.

His eyes went back to his friend. There was something soft around Jimin’s eyes. A softness that for the longest time he only reserved for Jeonghan.

“Hey, Jiminnie!” he called, throwing one of his gloves at his face, startling him. “Come help your hyung.”

“That’s not my job,” said Jimin annoyed, his hands brushing the dirt decorating the tip of his nose, only managing to spread it more.

“Brat,” scolded Hoseok, indicating the spot besides him.

Jimin sighed, kneeling on the grass anyways and accepting the spare gloves Hoseok was giving him. Jeongguk had told him he didn’t need him today and so Jimin was left free to roam the house, just in case he changed his mind. The sun traveled across the sky as they worked, shoulder to shoulder. Jimin’s eyes didn’t stray again.

Hoseok was satisfied.

 

When Taehyung made it back to Jeongguk’s room, a bowl of buttery popcorn in tow, his friend was very keenly looking at something through the window.

He left the popcorn on the bed, tiptoeing until he could look over Jeongguk’s shoulder.

“What’s so interesting?” he whispered. Jeongguk cursed, whirling around with a hand clutching his chest. “So?”

“Nothing,” replied Jeongguk a little bit too fast, and Taehyung narrowed his eyes at him before looking out the window himself. It was just the lawn and the gardeners, nothing….oh.

Taehyung squinted. There it was, Hoseok, and right beside him someone he didn’t know.

“Who’s the new kid?” he asked, turning to face his friend.

From the bed, Jeongguk hummed a question back, eyes trained on the bowl in his lap as he methodically shoved popcorn in his mouth. ‘Busted’, thought Taehyung. The boy was so transparent it was ridiculous.

“I said,” started Taehyung, letting go of the curtain and walking to the bed. “Who’s the newbie working down there with the regular gardener? Never seen him before.”

“Oh...hmm…” the tips of Jeongguk’s ears went red. “That’s Jimin, the chauffeur….my chauffeur.”

Taehyung licked the butter from his fingers.

“Is he hot?” he asked.

“What…” Jeongguk spluttered. “I...Why are you asking that?!”

“You were looking at him,” Taehyung replied matter of factly.

“I wasn’t….I don’t,” Jeongguk tripped over his own words. “He works for the house, I’d never-” his ears burned.

“Oh my god, he is, isn’t he?” Taehyung laughed. “You were totally checking him out!” he accused, jumping to his feet. Jeongguk shook his head, denying the accusation, flustered, making him laugh again. “Whoa Gukkie you are too much.”

Jeongguk groaned, burying his face in a pillow.

“It isn’t like that, I don’t look at him like that,” he said, voice muffled in the fabric. “It’s just-”

“I have to see him.”

Jeongguk opened his mouth to stop him, but Taehyung was already walking out of his room. Cursing, Jeongguk ran after him, begging his friend to just go back and watch the movie as planned. All to no avail. There was a determined glint in Taehyung’s eyes and Jeongguk knew that no matter what he said, his friend would end up doing whatever he wanted.

They made it to the kitchen in no time and Taehyung planted his ass on a stool at the island to Seokjin’s surprise. The cook looked at Taehyung while he continued kneading on a slowly forming dough.

“Hi Seokjin,” said Taehyung smiling and leaning forward on the table. “What you making?”

“Cookies, Mr. Kim,” he replied, eyes going to Jeongguk, who was shuffling uncomfortably beside Taehyung, his own eyes flitting between the back door and the exchange in front of him. “Jeonggukie told me you were coming so I’m making your favourite butter cookies...Do you need anything? Jeongguk?”

Jeongguk opened his mouth to answer but his friend beat him to it.

“Oh no, we are just chilling here. In the kitchen.” Taehyung eyed the backdoor as well. “Nothing of interest really.”

Seokjin gave them one last suspicious look before going back to kneading with renewed vigor. Taehyung started to sing a song under his breath, all but enjoying how his friend was squirming by his side. It was actually kind of cute, he had never seen Jeongguk in a situation like this before and he was actually taking pleasure in torturing the boy.

Just then, the back door swung open and a loud voice carried from the outside.

“Hyung I’m starving,” yelled Hoseok, walking into the kitchen, his overalls open and revealing a very sweaty wife beater underneath.

Taehyung lifted his eyebrows in interest, a smile on his lips, and Hoseok stumbled halfway between bowing and hiding behind his clothes. The action was so sudden that Jimin, who was coming in right behind, bumped into him. His eyes went immediately to the kitchen island, where Seokjin, Jeongguk and a man he didn’t know were staring at him.

Much like Hoseok, he was sporting only a sweaty tank top, the overalls pooling around his hips. He bowed his head in greeting as well, pulling the clothing up to hide his naked arms. The unknown man on the table pouted a little.

Seokjin cleared his throat. “Why don’t you guys go get decent, I’ll warm up some food for you.”

Taehyung followed the two with his eyes until they were disappearing down the staff corridor, before turning to face Jeongguk.

“He’s pretty hot,” he said appreciatively once Seokjin had moved out to place the cookies in the oven. “Has a cute face, too.”

“Shut up Hyung,” murmured Jeongguk, embarrassed. “Can we go now?”

Taehyung shook his head.

Jimin came back into the room, combing back his wet hair, Hoseok following close behind. Seokjin placed two bowls of soup on the island, along with some rice, eyeing Taehyung warily. Jeongguk didn’t blame him, his friend was tracking each movement Jimin was making. If his chauffeur noticed, he didn’t say anything, keeping his eyes trained on the floor as he sat down.

Jimin was about to lift the spoon to his lips, when he raised his eyes, searching for Jeongguk. He found the boy and his friend both staring at him.

“Do you...do you need me for something, Master Jeon?” he asked. There was a drop of water running down the side of his neck and Jeongguk felt warmth pooling around his belly button, his cheeks dusting pink.

“Master Jeon…” murmured Taehyung, only for Jeongguk to hear. “Kinky…”

Jeongguk kicked him on the shins, making him yelp. “No Jimin, my friend just wanted to stop by the kitchen, that’s all.”

At that Taehyung seemed to perk up.

“Ah that’s right, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Kim Taehyung.” he said, beaming at Jimin.

Jimin blinked a little stunned, not used to the members of the house addressing him directly. No one but Jeongguk. Hoseok, who was slurping the noodles on his soup, elbowed him.

“Oh...Park Jimin, Sir,” he replied, head lowering in acknowledgment. “At your orders.”

Taehyung smiled mischievously. “So….you taking good care of our Jeonggukie here?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.

Hoseok frowned at the suggestive tone the other was using, but didn’t say a word, just sinking his head lower as he worked on his food. He knew very well which games rich kids liked to play. How they considered that for money, people like Jimin and himself would do it all. He didn’t like it, not a single bit. He would have to talk to Jimin.

Jeongguk went red in the face at the surprised look on Jimin’s face. His friend had gone a little too far.

“Alright,” he interrupted before Jimin could utter a single word. “We are leaving.” And against Taehyung’s protests, he dragged him out of the room.

Seokjin allowed his eyes to linger briefly on the doors, eyes narrowing slightly as he looked back at Jimin who was quietly eating his soup.

He pursed his lips.

 

♡♡♡

 

The engine sighed to a stop and Jimin leaned back on the headrest.

He had just finished work, having to drive Jeongguk from a late class to his boyfriend’s apartment and got caught in traffic on his way back home. Good thing he was allowed to take the car instead of doing the bus trek. That would have taken way too long. He double checked that the car was secured on the spot he rented from his neighbor, and then crossed the street to their apartment building.

Wheein was sound asleep on the couch when he made it inside, a book resting on her chest. From the kitchen, Hoseok waved, pointing at the fresh cup of ramen steaming on the counter. Jimin moved over, smiling gratefully and picked up the chopsticks right away.

“How was work?” asked Hoseok, putting bowls back in the cabinets.

“Same old, same old,” replied Jimin. “You know, just driving Jeongguk around.”

Hoseok hummed. “So it’s Jeongguk now, I see.”

The tone in his friend’s voice made Jimin look up from his cup, pausing in drinking the broth.

“Is there a problem with that?” he asked.

Hoseok took his time to place the last glass in the cabinet, drying his hands on a kitchen towel before turning around to face his friend.

“No, as long as you are careful, Jiminnie.”

“Care to elaborate,” said Jimin, crossing his arms. “I don’t think I’m following you.”

“There’s no need to get mad,” Hoseok walked around to place a hand on Jimin’s shoulder. “I’m just trying to look out for you. Rich people...they sometimes think they can do and get whatever they want. That they are above the rest of us...don’t get involved.”

Jimin frowned, shaking his head. He stood up, digging into his pockets and bringing out his chain. He let in dangle in front of Hoseok, before clasping it around his neck.

“You don’t have to worry,” he said.

Hoseok nodded once, patting his shoulder.

“I’m glad.”

 

Yoongi was bent over, studying some medical cases, when he felt the press of cold lips against his nape.

“Jeongguk,” he murmured, the lips now trailing wet down the column of his neck. “What are you doing?”

Jeongguk swiveled the chair until Yoongi was facing him, proceeding to straddle him. Yoongi’s hands came up automatically to hold him.

“Taking you to bed,” murmured Jeongguk, kissing him eagerly. Yoongi kissed him back with a frown. He knew where this was going.

“I’ll be there soon,” he said, pushing the boy back softly but firmly. “I still have some cases to revise. Go to sleep.”

“But it’s Friday…” murmured Jeongguk, rejection making his skin grow cold. He lowered his eyes. “You don’t want...you don’t want me?”

Yoongi sighed, rubbing his eyes. “No baby, it’s not that.”

“Then what…” asked Jeongguk standing up.

‘Guilt’ supplied Yoongi’s brain. 'You are feeling guilty for what you did.'

It was the way in which his boyfriend was hugging himself that did it. Yoongi stood up, walking towards him and kissing his cheek. Taking his hand, he led him to the room, pushing him softly to lie down. He then proceeded to undress him, dropping kisses and subtle touches until Jeongguk was making pleased noises in the back of his throat.

The rest was all a rehearsed procedure. One that Yoongi had done countless of times. All movements were calculated, efficient but careful so not to agitate his boyfriend too much. Yoongi fought against the most animalistic part of himself as the moans floating out of Jeongguk’s mouth filled the room. His nails dug into the sheets, flashes of himself pressing Hyejin against the walls clouding his mind. He pushed them away as soon as they came but still they riled him up. Yoongi thrusted harder, grunts falling from his lips as his control slipped through his fingers.

Jeongguk came arching off the bed, Yoongi close behind. He cleaned his boyfriend carefully, lying down next to him at Jeongguk’s insistent pull. He embraced him from behind, even though Jeongguk was taller than him. It didn’t matter much, in Yoongi’s eyes the boy would always be fragile. Like a porcelain doll.

It wasn’t until Jeongguk had drifted off to sleep that Yoongi got up. Throwing a bathrobe over his naked frame, he stepped out into the night.

The breeze was cold and he shivered. If it was the winter chill or the knowledge that he had come at the idea of Hyejin, he didn’t know.

 

♡♡♡

 

Seokjin squinted into the garden, trying to catch the exact moment when Jeongguk was leaving the house, getting into Min Yoongi’s car.

The cook had heard from the maids in charge of cleaning the rooms, that the couple was supposed to go to a chocolate tasting party. One that was organized by some sort of organization Kim Taehyung was part of. Seokjin, ever a diligent person, had gotten tickets as well. The event wasn’t a fancy one so he was able to afford them. Originally, he had planned to drag one of his chef friend’s there but now the tickets were going to be used for a better purpose.

Seokjin had talked to Hoseok. They had placed their heads close together when no one was looking, sharing secrets in between muffin bites. They had both agreed that Kim Taehyung’s innuendos could mean nothing good.

So Seokjin had taken the matter in his hands. As the oldest member of the staff (Mr. Jang didn’t count, no one liked the butler enough to consider him part of the gang), it was his duty to make sure none of the youngers was stupid enough to lose their job. And that included Jimin right now.

“Mina,” called Seokjin, letting go of the curtains. The girl, who was polishing the silver, looked up, disinterested. “Wanna go on a date with Jimin?”

 

Jimin wasn’t sure how in the world he ended up at a chocolate tasting party full of men three times bigger than him. But he was there, wearing his best pair of jeans and a borrowed black shirt, a pretty girl hanging from his arm.

It was sort of funny.

The place was full of hungry men following his every move with his eyes, and here he was opening his mouth so Mina could feed him little bits of chocolate. They had been at the party for only two hours, still unsure of which chocolate they would get for Seokjin (it had been an order from the cook, since he was unable to come). Jimin was already feeling a little full, letting himself be pulled by Mina from stand to stand, holding her purse like a good husband every time she wanted to fuss over the sweets.

They were at a particular stand, where Jimin refused to try chocolate covered kimchi, when Jimin felt his skin tingle. Before he had time to wonder what it could be though, Mina was going at it again with the kimchi.

Jimin wrinkled his nose as the girl giggled, pressing the tiny piece against his lips. She was so insistent that Jimin felt himself smiling as well.

“Oppa!” she said, touching his arm slightly. “You have to try it, say ah!”

“Mina?” said a voice and both of them turned around to find Min Yoongi looking at them amused.

Jimin’s eyes however, went to the person standing right beside the doctor - Jeongguk. He wasn’t looking at Jimin - or Mina - specifically, but at the way the girl was touching his arm. At the chocolate still suspended halfway to his lips. Jimin knew how it looked, the picture completed by him holding a purse. It looked like they were a couple. Like they were out on a date.

Jeongguk’s expression was unreadable.

“Oh Mr. Min,” Mina said bowing. “Master Jeon...what a surprise.”

“Surprise indeed,” commented Jeongguk finally looking up. Jimin shuffled uncomfortably, bowing as well in greeting.

“I didn’t know you guys were, you know,” said Yoongi smiling, making a vague gesture between them. Mina’s cheeks went red.

“It’s not what you think-”

“Good for you,” interrupted Yoongi, his arm snaking around Jeongguk’s waist, bringing him close. “Jimin, right? You are my boyfriend’s chauffeur?”

Jeongguk leaned against Yoongi and Jimin’s stomach twisted unexpectedly at the sight. Mina elbowed him and he raised his eyes again, clearing his throat.

“Yes Sir. I’m the chauffeur,” he replied.

“Good, good. I trust that you are taking good care of my love.”

Jimin gave him a tight smile. “Of course.”

An awkward silence fell between them and Mina shuffled closer until she was touching Jimin once again.

“Oppa, I think we better go,” she said softly and Jimin wasn’t sure if it was only his hopeful imagination that made him believe that, for the tiniest moment, Jeongguk’s expression soured.

In the blink of an eye it was gone. He nodded, turning to the others to bow politely, Yoongi waved them goodbye.

He was still holding Jeongguk close.

Jimin was still holding Mina’s bag.

 

♡♡♡

 

Jimin was washing the car when Jeongguk found him.

He bit his lip looking down at the piece of paper in his hand. Maybe it was too much. Their relationship wasn’t even what you would call friendship but Jeongguk couldn’t think of anyone else to invite. His first exposition was happening in two days time and for some reason, he wanted Jimin there. Especially after his own boyfriend had said he couldn’t go.

Exhaling shakily, Jeongguk stepped out from behind the column he was hiding at, just then noticing that Jimin was not alone. Mina was sitting on a stool leaning against the wall, holding what looked like a bottle of soap. She seemed to be saying something rather interesting and funny, considering how wide Jimin was smiling and the little comments he was making here and there.

It made something boil on his stomach, something he knew very well but wasn’t willing to name.

Seokjin called from the kitchen and Mina stood up, leaving the bottle on the floor and running inside. Jeongguk made his way to Jimin, the slightest scowl still on his face.

“You know you can do that at any gas station, right?” he said as way of greeting. Jimin looked up, his lips parted in surprise.

“Jeongguk,” he wiped his hands clean on a towel, straightening. “I know, I was just killing time...do you need me? I’m almost done, I can-”

“Are you two dating?” Jeongguk blurted out before he could stop himself. One of his hands flew up to cover his mouth, his eyes going wide in embarrassment.

Jimin stared, dumbfounded. “What?....Who?”

Jeongguk cleared his throat, crossing his arms in front of his chest in an attempt to look disinterested.

“You and Mina?” he scratched the back of his neck. “I mean it’s ok if you are, I couldn’t care less, like-”

“Why would you think that?” Jimin interrupted, trying to fight the smile wanting to break on his face.

“The chocolate party…” Jeongguk muttered, looking away. God, he was so stupid.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Jimin couldn’t contain it anymore. He laughed, his heart fluttering as it hadn’t done in a long, long time.

“We are not,” he told him, softly. His voice on the verge of fond. “I’m not dating her, or anyone...for the record.”

Jeongguk’s cheeks burned red. He didn’t understand why he was always so ridiculous around Jimin. Why he couldn’t shake the feeling that a part of him, somehow - in some weird way - belonged to Jimin. Or the other way around. Both.

He nodded.

His hand clenched around the piece of paper in his hand and Jeongguk offered it to Jimin.

“It’s an invitation,” he explained at the bewildered expression on the other’s face. “For my first art showcase. I thought maybe...you’d like to go…”

Jimin licked his lips, looking intently at the paper in his hand. “Me?...You want me to go?”

“Yeah, I mean...Taehyung and Yoongi are busy at the hospital and I just thought, like…” Jeongguk huffed, could the earth just swallow him whole...like now? “You don’t have to go,” he finished, almost in a whisper.

Jimin looked up. “I’d love to go...thank you.”

Jeongguk sighed, relieved, only then noticing that Jimin was still pretty much staring at him. There was something warm in his eyes and Jeongguk’s stomach clenched.

The world fell quiet.

Jiminnieeee!! a voice called from the kitchen.

Jeongguk jumped, making Jimin smile once again.

“Well, ok...great,” he said, walking backwards. “Awesome, I have to…” Jeongguk trailed off, pointing somewhere behind his back and Jimin laughed through his nose, scratching his arm.

Jeongguk felt his own smile grow on his face and he turned around, all but sprinting back to his room.

 

♡♡♡

 

“What are you doing here?”

Jeongguk was sure that he yelled, if only by the few people turning to glare at him. Taehyung smiled, a bouquet on his hand that he offered to Jeongguk before ruffling his hair.

“What do you mean what?” he replied, taking off his jacket. “I came to see your work, of course.”

Jeongguk allowed himself a moment to panic. Was there any chance he could sneak out and beg Jimin to go back to the car?

“I thought you couldn’t come.”

Taehyung frowned at the light sheen of sweat on his friend’s brow. He reached to touch it with his palm.

“I switched my shift with a friend…” Taehyung explained. “Are you ok? Your skin is clammy.”

Jimin chose that exact same moment to make his grand entrance.

Not that he made a huge deal about it, not at all. He just walked in, wearing simple jeans and a cream-colored sweater, looking devastatingly gorgeous. Taehyung made a soft noise by his side but Jeongguk only had eyes for Jimin, who was standing by the door searching with his eyes and oblivious to the glances people were throwing his way.

The moment Jimin found him, a small nervous smile lifted the corners of his lips. And really, who could blame Jeongguk if he swooned a little? Or maybe a lot, considering the little curse leaving his best friend’s mouth.

“I see you brought a friend…”

“Shut up,” hissed Jeongguk, smiling at an approaching Jimin.

If Jimin was surprised to see Taehyung standing there, he didn’t say anything. He bowed politely at them, standing quietly by the side. The opening ceremony started right away and Jeongguk used the opportunity to openly stare at Jimin, despite the elbows Taehyung directed to his ribs every now and then.

It was like the boy had a magnet designed exclusively for his eyes. He just couldn’t stop looking at him, at his profile, at his hair...at the way his hands disappeared under the cuffs of his sweater.

As soon as the last words were said, Taehyung started coughing, making a big deal out of it.

“Are you ok?” asked Jimin concerned but Jeongguk knew better. He narrowed his eyes at his friend. “Would you like some water?”

Taehyung replied with a strained please and then Jimin was off, swallowed by the crowd. His friend double checked that Jimin was nowhere in sight before whirling around.

“What are you doing?” he asked, grabbing Jeongguk’s arm. “If Yoongi finds out-”

“If he finds out what,” said Jeongguk yanking his arm away. “I’m not doing anything wrong.”

Taehyung scoffed. “You are cheating...with your mind!”

“I’m not!”

Taehyung snorted. “Yes you are, you like him!” he accused. “And don’t even try to say it’s not true because I’m fucking looking at you right now.”

Jeongguk crossed his arms, looking away.

He couldn’t really deny what his friend was accusing him of, because he wasn’t sure himself what he felt for the other boy. They weren’t really friends, nor were they lovers either. Jeongguk thought he was attractive, that he was able to recognize. But beyond that, it was all a very confusing, very frightening mess.

“I’m not sure….about how I feel,” he said, eyes darting around to make sure Jimin was not in hearing distance. “I just feel...this pull...whenever he’s close and I…”

“This is a very dangerous game you are playing,” said Taehyung, pursing his lips. “I’m not ok with this, just so you know.”

“I’m not playing any games Hyung,” he denied. “There’s nothing between Jimin and I, literally nothing, and I love Yoongi. You know that.”

“I know,” said Taehyung, falling silent as Jimin finally returned.

The rest of the afternoon, he spent it following carefully Jimin’s moves. Jeongguk was already aware of Taehyung’s suspicions so he was acting extra detached, barely looking the other boy in the eyes. Jimin on the other hand, acted fairly normal, asking questions about the paintings and looking at Jeongguk with respect. There was nothing suspicious about his behaviour.

However, even when Jeongguk tried, it was impossible to miss his lingering gaze when Jimin was not looking his way. Maybe it was because he had never had a chance to interact with anyone but his boyfriend in a romantic way. Yoongi had been his first in everything. Maybe it was just the excitement of something new, it didn’t help that Jimin was so attractive either. Even he could see it, the beauty in his soft features.

Jimin doesn’t look interested, it’s gonna be ok, thought Taehyung and with that, he relaxed, looking away and completely missing the warmth in Jimin’s eyes.

“You are very talented,” Jimin murmured, close to Jeongguk’s ear. “I would totally buy your art.”

Jeongguk felt like his heart was going to burst.

 

In Jeongguk’s opinion everything was actually adding to a positive balance, when he stepped outside: people had liked his paintings, Jimin had a fantastic time and Taehyung had stopped looking at him furtively - like trying to catch him doing something wrong. It had been great, he was happy.

That is, until he saw who was waiting for him at the foot of the stairs, a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He looked at Taehyung, searching for help but his friend was lost in conversation with Jimin (they had hit it off pretty well) and so there was no avoiding it. Yoongi saw them.

“Babe!” Jeongguk called extra chirpy, bouncing down the last steps. Yoongi, however, was not paying attention to him.

“Jimin?” he said, frowning. “What is he doing here?”

He asked the last question facing Jeongguk and the boy froze, mind suddenly blank. Taehyung, assessing the impending disaster, moved forward, giving Yoongi a one arm hug.

“Yoongi, my friend. Thought you couldn’t come?”

The doctor shrugged him off. “I asked a question, Jeongguk.”

Jimin opened his mouth to say something but Taehyung beat him to it.

“I invited him, Jimin. It was me.”

“You invited him?” said Yoongi, even more confused and Jeongguk cursed inside. Sometimes his friend had the worst ideas. “The chauffeur...to Jeongguk’s showcase.”

“Right,” confirmed Taehyung, easing into the lie. “You know, share the culture, educate the mind. Art is for everyone.”

“Why didn’t you invite Joonie? Now that would have made sense,” commented Yoongi, grabbing Jeongguk’s hand and starting to walk to the car. “I highly doubt Jimin can appreciate this kind of... stuff. You have to grow with it.”

Jeongguk winced, wanting more than anything to yell at his boyfriend to stop talking like that when Jimin was right there. He turned to see that he was following them in silence, his head hanging low. Hands clasped on his back. Jeongguk wanted to touch him.

It was crazy.

“The Light of my life couldn’t come. A nurse made a mistake with the pediatrician’s database and he was trying to fix it,” Taehyung said, as they stopped in the parking lot.

Yoongi hummed, looking at Jimin then. His frown deepened.

“Why are you still here,” he said, not in a mean way, but as if he were indeed truly surprised. “I’m taking Jeongguk with me. You are dismissed.”

Jimin’s hands balled into fists at his back but he bowed nonetheless, his jaw set so he would not say something inappropriate. Think about your friends. You need this job.

“Don’t be an ass, Yoongi,” Taehyung moved to stand beside Jimin. “He’s taking me back to the hospital. I left my car there.” He nudged Jimin with his elbow. “Shall we go?”

Jimin nodded. “Mr. Min,” he said, bowing. “Master…”

Jeongguk’s chest ached.

 

Later on, as he was dropping Taehyung off at the hospital, Jimin concluded that he didn’t like Min Yoongi. He also didn’t like the way his pale frame looked beside Jeongguk. He didn’t like those suit clad arms around his waist.

It all felt terribly wrong, like Jeongguk just didn’t belong in that world.

 

♡♡♡

 

“You did what?!”

Yoongi was quick to place a hand over Namjoon’s mouth, glancing over to where Taehyung and Jeongguk were currently having a Smash Bros battle. It didn’t seem like they heard them, so after checking with Namjoon, he lowered his hand. He signaled for his friend to continue what he was doing.

“What the fuck, Yoongi,” hissed Namjoon, angrily chopping tomatoes for the salad.

Yoongi sighed, running a hand through his hair and taking a gulp of his beer. After a long time, Yoongi and Taehyung had finally being able to coordinate their shifts so the four of them could have lunch together. Of course he decided to choose this moment to confess to Namjoon. Thank you very much, conscience.

“I had a thing with Hyejin,” repeated Yoongi, flipping the dumplings so they would not burn. “Long time ago and now...it’s sort of breathing down my neck again.”

“What is exactly a ‘thing’.”

“We fucked,” clarified Yoongi and Namjoon cursed under his breath. “Back when Jeongguk was still extremely sick...I was drunk.”

“That is not an excuse,” Namjoon moved to angrily peel leaves from a lettuce. “It’s never an excuse.”

“I’m not excusing myself. I’m just stating the facts.” Yoongi turned off the stove, leaning against the counter with a sigh. “I was drunk out of my mind and heartbroken...she showed up and just...I fucking regret it, Namjoon...So much.”

Yoongi looked down at the floor and Namjoon paused on what he was doing.

“Why did you decide to tell me now?” he asked, palms resting on the counter.

Yoongi exhaled. “Hyejin, she’s been...she’s hard to handle.”

“Are you trying to say that you like her?” asked Namjoon.

“Perhaps,” admitted Yoongi, looking over to the living room once again. “But it doesn’t matter. I’m in love with Jeongguk.”

Namjoon groaned, putting the salad together and adding some vinegar for flavour.

“You shouldn’t have told me. I’m shit at keeping secrets,” he complained. “Especially when it involves lying to Taehyung.”

“I trust you,” said Yoongi easily. And it was true, Namjoon was perhaps the person he trusted the most in the world. “Besides, I needed to get it out of my chest. Close the chapter and bury it.”

“That easy?” Namjoon grabbed the bowl of salad, making his way out of the kitchen.

Yoongi remembered the faintest scent of vanilla and the press of a soft chest.

“As it should be.”

 

He made love to Jeongguk slowly as the sun went down, savoring every whimper as if it were the last. The guilt was still there but he would get over it, as countless couples have done before. As his own parents did. People like them valued status over meaningless feelings but he knew Jeongguk was not the same. His boyfriend believed in true love and that was exactly what he was going to give him. Hyejin could go screw herself.

It was going to be fine. They were going to be ok.

 

Jeongguk woke up with a start, his lips still tingling as the last remains of the dream left him. He looked to the side to find Yoongi sprawled on his side of the bed and guilt flooded him. He had been dreaming of Jimin. More especifically of kissing Jimin. Hard. On the mouth.

Taehyung’s words came back to him and he winced, ashamed of being lustful after someone else, while the smell of sex still lingered on the bed he was sharing with Yoongi. He got up, wandering to the kitchen for a glass of water. Jeongguk was on his way back when he noticed the blinking light of the answering machine.

He stopped halfway to the phone. Yoongi didn’t like it when he checked his phone - or his mail, or anything personal - but what if it was an emergency? Who else would call late at night? Jeongguk pressed play just as the lights turned on.

“What are you doing?” asked Yoongi and then a voice filled the air. A female voice.

Jeongguk stared at the machine.

‘Yoongi...it’s late, I know but...I just...I can’t stop thinking about you, how you felt-’

Yoongi crossed the room in a blur, stopping the recording and breathing harshly through his nose. Jeongguk swallowed.

“Was that...was that Hyejin-noona?” he said. “What-”

“Love...I can explain-” Yoongi extended a hand, his heart beating fast, but Jeongguk stepped back.

“Play the rest of the message,” he said and Yoongi started to protest but Jeongguk was having none of it. “Play it! You have nothing to hide? Then fucking play it!”

Yoongi chewed on his lip, pressing play.

‘-in my arms. Let’s meet, Yoongi. I’ll be waiting, you know where to find me.’

Jeongguk gasped, feeling acid travel up his throat. The implications behind her words made his world spin, all the things he knew to be true crumbling all around him. He exhaled, suddenly understanding everything: the little alone time, the long absences...the lack of passion.

“Are you cheating on me?” he asked. His voice breaking against his will, his eyebrows furrowing in pain. It hurt...everywhere.

“No,” denied Yoongi, coming forward to hold his face. “I’m not, no. It’s not...it was a mistake baby, I’m-”

“Oh god…” Jeongguk stepped away, covering his mouth. “Oh god....” he looked around, feeling a little lost.

“It isn’t what you think.”

“It isn’t what I think?” Jeongguk hissed, he shook his head. “I have to go.”

“Jeongguk, wait. Let’s talk-”

Yoongi reached for him but he avoided him, going back to the room and putting his clothes on, all the while giving his back to the bed. Hyejin’s words echoed in his mind and his lower lip trembled. He stormed out of the room to find Yoongi pacing on the living room. He whirled around at Jeongguk’s return.

“Please don’t leave,” Yoongi said. “Let me explain.”

Jeongguk didn’t answer, grabbing his backpack and making for the door. Yoongi stopped him.

“At least let me drive you, it’s too late baby. Something-”

“Don’t call me baby.” Jeongguk whispered, shouldering his way out of the apartment.

He took the elevator as in a trance, not even registering the security guard asking if he needed something. Jeongguk just stepped outside of the building feeling like he could barely breathe. He could catch a cab and go home. He could call Taehyung and crash there for the night. He could even rent an hotel room if he wanted. But right at that moment, the only thing crossing his mind was Jimin.

He fished out his phone, shivers wracking through his body and without thinking twice, he called. Once, twice...third time was the charm.

“Jimin….” he felt tears welling in his eyes. “Please come get me Jimin, please.”