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Rubies for a King

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The handful of hours after midnight are always still, muted. The moon lulls the earth into a gentleness that is rarely found during the day, a quiet peace that doesn’t exist outside the darkness of night. Especially in the outskirts of the city, overlooking the river, though surely it’s true for the heart of the metropolis as well. Maybe. But everything, the entire world, even, seems to fall asleep after midnight. Well, almost.

Meet Park Jimin. Five-seven, one-hundred and thirty-two pounds, Libra, born in the year of the Pig. Born October thirteenth, on a Friday, nineteen ninety-five. Twenty years old, legally an adult, as of one hour, and twenty-seven minutes ago. He sits in his room, a modest way to describe the vast left wing of his parents’ mansion, and watches the clock on his bedside table. He was told to wait, was told that he would be here soon, though Jimin still isn’t sure who ‘he’ is. This alone drives him crazy, sending his detail-oriented mind into a rapid fire of uneasy thoughts.

He sits still, on the edge of his bed, dressed in soft cotton sweats and a t-shirt, sighing every so often. It’s been an hour and a half, already, of this waiting. He’d be tired if he weren’t so anxious, probably. Jimin glances at the clock again, out of habit, then at the slightly open balcony doors; at least if he falls asleep, his visitor will still be able to get in. Although he isn’t sure how he feels about that.

Falling back against his duvet with a sigh that is overly dramatic, and rightfully so, Jimin gazes up at the dimmed down lights on the ceiling. He keeps his eyes locked on them until the soft golden haze is burned into his retinas, until his eyes sting and water. He has to focus on something other than the damn waiting .

Jimin fades to a memory of a few days prior, when his parents sat him down and told him half-fuzzy details about the situation. Just another instance where they chose the path of his life, without his consent; the usual. Except this time, Jimin is angry; this time, they went too far.

Jimin didn’t mind so much, at least not growing up. He loves his parents, of course, regardless of how frustrating they can be, regardless of the fact that he’s never once been able to choose what he wants. Before, it was top tier private school, clubs, hobbies. It was clothing, friends, interests. It didn’t matter, before; Jimin was the heir to the corporate throne, and although he still had at least another twenty years before he was expected to don the proverbial crown, his parents had been prepping him his entire life.

But his parents, while they had their faults, were good people. Holidays and birthdays were celebrated with hugs and cake, not with a hundred guests and champagne. Jimin was incredibly grateful for this, because he’d been around people his entire life who weren’t as lucky as him.

Even so. Jimin is angry.

He’d been sick, when he was a baby, so, so sick. The doctors said he wouldn’t make it, told his parents that they needed to just cherish the short time that they’d have with him. Jimin lived, obviously, he’d gotten better. Some new treatment, or medicine, he wasn’t sure. He’d had checkups his entire life, tests run, his body examined. He’s perfectly healthy, had barely ever gotten a cold.

Two days ago, he’d found out why.

As he lay on his deathbed, as an infant, Jimin’s father had taken it upon himself to forge a contract, forbidden and sacred. Something straight out of a fairytale, almost, as far as Jimin is concerned. He still isn’t sure if he believes it, considering he’s been waiting for almost two hours, but… his parents had seemed convinced. So, Jimin waits, unsure of what to expect, unsure of just how exactly a dragon is going to fit through his veranda doors.

Yep. In return for Jimin’s life, his health, in return for an heir to the company throne, Jimin’s father had made a deal with a dragon.

A dragon .

Jimin blinks, tired of waiting, tired from his anger. He blinks, and almost misses the way the overhead lights flicker; not even during monsoon season have his lights ever flickered. He watches, wondering if he’d imagined it, but just before he dismisses the notion, it happens again. He hears a whoosh , a thump , and the electricity stabilizes.

Jimin is suddenly terrified, afraid to look. He hears the balcony doors slide open, then shut. He hears a sigh, the creak of a floorboard.

“Am I really so late that you fell asleep waiting?”

Jimin, startled at how human the voice sounds, takes a deep, calming breath, and slowly sits up.

Surprisingly, what he sees is a human; or at least the being standing in the middle of his room looks human. But there’s something about him, something about the… man (insert dumbfounded expression here), that doesn’t feel human at all.

Visually, though, he looks as human as Jimin. He seems to be about the same age, though he’s taller by a bit, a little broader, more muscles. He’s wearing a deep red button up shirt, rolled up at the sleeves; his long legs are covered by tight, black denim, showing off even more of his toned body. Pretty much the only thing about the stranger that makes him seem young is his face, angled, but soft. He has pretty skin, somewhere between olive and ivory, a freckle below his bottom lip, another on his neck. The stranger’s hair is dark, such a deep black that the light doesn’t even reflect from it. Everything about his appearance seems human.

Except for his eyes; they shine a reflective brown, but as the stranger cocks his head, eyes wide, his irises flash a bright blue in the light. That, coupled with the fact that Jimin can feel the chilled heat cascading from the man, has his heart thudding harder.

Jimin is pretty stunned, to say the least. His brain blanks, a first. “You’re real,” he mutters, more to himself than anything.

But the stranger hears, and chuckles, lifting one shoulder. “I guess that depends on who you ask.” He leans against the wall, offering Jimin a small, polite smile. “And not to rush this, but I know what happens next, and since I’m already late, I don’t want to waste time. So yes, I am a dragon, yes, I’m very much real, and no, I’m not here to eat you.”

“Well… that’s a plus, at least.” Jimin warms, realizing what he’s said. Then he clears his throat. “I um… I’m Jimin. Who-what’s your name?”

The man, dragon, whatever he is, seems almost shocked that Jimin asks. “Jungkook,” he says, “my name is Jungkook.”

Jimin nods, tucking his hands under this thighs, watching the other, Jungkook. “So… if you’re not here to eat me, then…?”

“Ah, yes,” Jungkook pushes away from the wall and shoves his hands in his pockets. “About that. Traditionally, a contract is fulfilled with marriage, but considering that’s rarely done anymore,” he shrugs, “sex is usually the second option.”

Jimin swallows. “Sex?”

“Yep.”

“With you?”

“Mmhm.”

Jimin’s mouth snaps closed, his mind whirring. “I don’t want to-” he says without meaning to. Then he winces; the last thing he wants to do is offend a dragon .

But Jungkook only shrugs again. “That’s fine, too. No pressure, it’s your choice.”

His choice? “But what about the-the contract?”

“I guess…,” Jungkook frowns, thinking. “It just needs to be something symbolic, maybe. Sorry, I’m not used to people turning down the sex, so I’ve never had to actually find another option.” Jimin is once again floored by the other; Jungkook seems genuinely apologetic, worried about Jimin’s obvious discomfort. It makes him like the dragon, almost.

Then Jimin has an idea. “Like… a kiss?”

The other snaps his fingers, lighting up instantly. “Like a kiss! Yes, that might work. Do you have a phone I can use?”

Confused, but intrigued, Jimin nods. He stands on legs that are surprisingly stable given the situation, and walks around his bed, to his end table. “Who does a dragon need to call?” he asks, as Jungkook takes it from him.

The dragon laughs, obviously aware of the absurdity. “I have a friend. He’s what you’d call a sorcerer, maybe, or a witch. But I know him as a Keeper. Kind of like a dragon-historian, I guess,” Jungkook bites his bottom lip, thinking, then taps in a number. “He’s brilliant, he’d know if a kiss will work.”

Jimin sits back down on the edge of the bed, and to his continued surprise, Jungkook sits next to him, tapping the speaker button on the phone. As it rings (and rings and rings, holy crap, does this guy not have voicemail?), Jimin can’t help but notice the way the other smells. Like wood, maybe, and sea salt, but almost smokey, in a light way; Jungkook smells warm, like a bonfire on the beach.

They both jump a bit, as the call connects. “Jungkook, interdimensional calls are expensive, what the hell?” The man’s voice is deep, husky. Jimin is almost sure he can feel the power it holds.

Jungkook laughs. “I’ll pay for it, don’t worry. But I have a question, if you have a minute.”

The man on the other line sighs. “Sure, Kook.”

“Okay, so in the case that a contract can’t be fulfilled by sex, would a kiss work as a substitute?” His question is answered by roiling laughter, deep and loud.

Jungkook rolls his eyes, and Jimin swears the dragon blushes. “Namjoon, don’t be a dick. Just a yes or a no would be fine, thanks.”

Finally, the laughter calms down into small chuckles, and the man, Namjoon, speaks again. “Gods, you got turned down, didn’t you? You’ve never gotten turned down before,” he laughs again, “Oh, I cannot wait to tell Yoongi and Jin about this.”

Jungkook sighs, dropping his face into his free hand, while Jimin watches, his face burning. He almost feels a little guilty, to be honest, though he’s not sure why. Has Jungkook really never been denied sex before?

“Yes, or no, Namjoon, or I’ll sit on your house.”

“Okay, okay,” Namjoon finally gets ahold of himself, his deep voice back to normal. “Yeah, Kook, a kiss will work. Keep it PG, whatever, as long as it’s a kiss. What contract is it?”

“Um,” the dragon glances at Jimin, hesitating. “It’s… it’s a Longevity Contract.”

There’s a crash on the other line, followed by a curse. “Jungkook, you can’t go making contracts for a person’s life, that’s way too serious!”

Jimin goes cold, staring at his phone in Jungkook’s hand. He wants to speak, but he isn’t sure what to say. He’d known, his father had told him, but somehow the tone of Namjoon’s voice makes all the difference.

“I know,” Jungkook says quietly, before Jimin can find any words. “But he was just a baby, Namjoon, barely a week old. I couldn’t say no.”

Jimin’s head spins.

“Damnit, Jungkook,” Namjoon sighs. “Is he there?”

Jungkook turns his head towards Jimin, his eyebrows raised.

Jimin nods, clearing his throat. “Yeah- I’m-m here,” he stutters, trying to calm his anxious heart. He’s pretty sure he’s suffering from information overload, at this point.

“Okay, listen,” Namjoon says firmly, “the sex thing is whatever, it’s obviously personal, but you have to kiss Jungkook. Within forty-eight hours, you have to kiss him, do you understand? If you don’t, because of the terms of the contract, you will die, and Jungkook will lose his dragon magick. Which is worse than death, for his kind.” Jimin starts to shake. No way, no way, he can die? It’s that serious? He’s suddenly angry again, at his parents, at everything. He never asked for his.

“Namjoon, you’re scaring him.”

“I’m sorry, but he needs to be scared. Just,” Namjoon sighs, “just kiss him, okay?”

Jimin nods, then realizes the other can’t see. “Okay,” he chokes out, “ okay .”

He’s barely aware of Jungkook saying goodbye and hanging up, he’s too busy with the buzzing in his skull. He’s angry, he’s scared, he’s… he’s something .

“Hey,” Jungkook says gently, nudging him, “I know it’s not… ideal, but… just one kiss, and I’ll leave and everything will be okay.”

Jimin nods, even though he doesn’t really know what Jungkook just said. He’s stuck in his own head, going over and over everything he’s been forced into, every time a decision that should have been his own has been made for him. Jimin has always accepted it with a nod, gone along because he… he doesn’t even have a reason for the way he’s been so complacent. Jimin is mad, he’s fucking furious. He wants to punch something, maybe throw a fit, which he knows is childish, but whatever. It’s his choice if he wants to act like that. His decisions belong to no one else.

Jimin is startled out of the whirlwind happening inside of his head, by Jungkook cupping his cheek; he’d almost forgotten the other is here. But he is, and he’s close , and he’s looking at Jimin, and oh , he’s going to kiss him.

It’s not like Jimin has never been kissed before, and he doesn’t mind kissing the other, kissing a dragon, for his life. But the closer Jungkook gets, the sooner it is to happening, Jimin feels a nervousness start to build in his gut, something different from the anxiety he’s used to. This sort is foreign, bubbling and warm, and before he can calm himself, he’s pulling away. He stumbles to his feet, putting distance between himself and the handsome dragon.

“Jimin?” Jungkook looks worried for a brief moment, but he hides it almost as quickly.

Jimin shakes his head, trying to clear his thoughts. “Sorry, I’m sorry, I-”

“Hey, it’s fine,” Jungkook says reassuringly, standing up, “you don’t have to, Jimin, it’s okay.” He looks between Jimin and the balcony doors, and shrugs. “I’ll just go.”

Panic flares in Jimin’s gut. “But, no. No, Namjoon said I’d... you’d lose your… dragon mojo or whatever.”

“So? I’m not going to force you to kiss me, Jimin, it’s not my choice.”

Jimin relaxes, dropping his shoulders. Jungkook is right… this is a decision that Jimin can make on his own. It’s a simple choice, with… heavy consequences, but it is, undoubtedly, Jimin’s call.

“If you leave… where will you go?” he asks, and he finds he’s genuinely curious. How does a dragon spend their time?

Jungkook smiles, touching his stomach. “I’ve been asleep for twenty years, and honestly, I’m fucking dying for some pork. Maybe some beef, too.”

This makes Jimin laugh, relaxing him even further. “Pork is the best,” he agrees.

“Yeah,” Jungkook turns to the balcony, “anyway, I’ll go now.”

As Jungkook turns away, Jimin realizes something. He realizes he has the chance, the perfect chance, to make a decision. So he does. And he makes it all on his own.

“Wait,” he shouts, grabbing the other’s arm. Jungkook turns, startled, his hand automatically landing on Jimin’s waist. Despite their close proximity, the position, Jimin speaks, determined. “I’ll kiss you,” he says, “I’ll kiss you before the forty-” he glances at the clock, “-five hours are up. But you have to take me with you.”

Jungkook raises an eyebrow, a half-smile tugging at his lips. “Are you trying to bribe a dragon, Jimin?”

“Uh,” Jimin winces, his face warming, “yes?”

Jungkook regards him with curiosity in his bright, wide eyes, searching his face. The dragon’s thumb rubs over Jimin’s skin, through his t-shirt, absentmindedly. “Why?”

Jimin, for all his autonomy, doesn’t really have a good answer for that. “... because I can?”

But the other seems satisfied. “Okay,” he nods, then glances at the darkness outside. “But I don’t think we can leave the way I came if you’re coming too.”

It takes a moment, then Jimin is suddenly reminded of just what Jungkook is , and as if for the first time, he genuinely believes what is happening. His bedroom is a good thirty feet above the garden. There’s no way Jungkook climbed, no way, he had to have… dragoned?

“I guess we can use the front door,” Jimin offers.

“Fine with me,” Jungkook agrees, moving away, “but you might need a jacket. The cold doesn’t touch me, but you might get a bit chilly out there.”

“Oh. Right.”

Leaving Jungkook in the other room, Jimin goes to his closet, which is basically the size of a small garage, and kicks off his sweats. He pulls on socks, then jeans, and searches through the racks until he finds his thickest hoodie. After grabbing a beanie, his keys, and his wallet, he’s ready.

As they creep out of Jimin’s room, and make their way down the dark hall, Jungkook leans in. “I’m assuming you’re not going to tell the king and queen that the prince is running away with a dragon for the weekend?” he whispers, smiling.

“I’m not a prince,” Jimin shoots back, leading Jungkook down the stairs.  

“Hm,” the other hums, “well, you fooled me.”

Although Jimin had said front door, he brings them to the side door, off the kitchen, where the cars are parked instead, simply because it’s closer. Jimin keys in the security codes, then they’re out the door, into the cold night, and Jimin takes his first real breath of freedom.

“How close is the subway?” Jungkook asks, glancing up at the crescent moon with something resembling longing.

“Just a few blocks.”

“I hope I don’t die of starvation before we find a restaurant.”


Jimin wonders if maybe he’s experiencing something like culture shock, because never has he ever resented his sheltered life as much as he does now. He’s always believed that nighttime meant quiet, peace. Sleep happens at night, dreams, coaxed by the moon and stars.

Damn, he’d been wrong.

He and Jungkook take a half-hour train ride, passing stop after stop, before they arrive in the center of the city; which, even at four AM, is thrumming with people, energy… life. It’s a coalescing kaleidoscope of lights, colors, sounds, and scent. Jimin sees sparkling, twinkling lights all around him, no matter which direction he looks, even up; colors flash from every corner, every building, signs and billboards, and music pours from clubs, from bars, mixing into one pulsing, strange beat.

There aren’t any restaurants open, not at this time, but street vendors line the sidewalks, selling everything from grilled meats to foreign cuisine, and the smell alone makes Jimin ravenous. The bodies of all sorts of people press close, too close, and Jimin feels his anxiety return, feels it buzzing just under the surface. The overwhelming force on his senses triggers his tick, and he counts the number of cracks on the sidewalk, keeping his head down, counts his breaths. He tries to drown out the city around him, just for a second, just so he can-

He’s suddenly shoved sideways, gently, into an alleyway, settled between two bars. It stinks, God, it stinks, but it’s almost like he’s closed the door on the city itself, drowning out the sheer loudness.

“Breathe,” Jungkook says, continuing to push Jimin away, putting space between them. “You’re fine, just breathe.”

Jimin does, looking up at the dark, dull sky, forcing himself to remember that he’s fine , he’s not trapped. He holds his arms out, and when he doesn’t feel any walls, any confines, his heart slows, measures itself back to normalcy. Jimin counts backwards from thirty, like he’d been taught, until all that’s left of the panic is a faint sheen of sweat across his brow.

He wipes his face on his sleeve, nodding to Jungkook. “Thanks.”

The dragon smiles, empathy etched in the faint lines beside his eyes. “It’s no problem. I get it. I was born in the clouds, I know what it’s like to crave openness.” Jungkook glances behind him, to the bright, thrumming street still visible. “If you want, we can find somewhere quieter?”

“No,” Jimin shakes his head, “no, I’m fine. It was just… just a lot, all at once.” The other nods, then leans against the wall of the building to the left, giving Jimin time to finish collecting himself, which Jimin takes gratefully.

He wants to be embarrassed. At least being ashamed would explain the way his cheeks are warm, the way he shivers under Jungkook’s gaze. But he’s not, not embarrassed, not ashamed. He’s a little pissed, at himself for the entire thing, but Jimin has always had to deal with the anxiety, the feeling of losing control. He’s more than aware of where his condition started, knows it stems from his lack of freedom, his sheltered life, and Jimin has never blamed himself, never been afraid to talk about it. He’s seen kids younger than him, destroyed by their own illnesses, coping with drugs (not the legal kind), or alcohol. Jimin has a simpler solution.

He fiddles with his rings, all five of them, the only material objects he truly cherishes. The metals feel cool, even after sitting against his skin almost permanently, even though he only takes them off to shower. There’s one, that he wears on his left thumb, a thick, white-gold band, and it’s his favorite. It has a second band, that overlays the first, but it spins, moving around the first against a tiny, grooved track. The second band is braided silver, shiny and metallic, and Jimin twists it, feeling the turn, letting it calm him. Then, he notices Jungkook is staring.

“Oh,” he puffs out a breath, “you’re a dragon.”

Jungkook pulls a face. “Yes, we’ve had this conversation already. Me, dragon. Hiss, hiss, roar.”

“I mean-” Jimin blushes, glancing at his rings, “you… and gold…?”

“Are you trying to stereotype me, prince?”

Jimin pauses. “But. You’re staring?”

The other raises an eyebrow, and pushes away from the building. He makes his way over, his eyes never leaving Jimin’s. “It’s not the rings I’m staring at,” he points out softly, cupping Jimin’s hands with his own, his eyes flicking around Jimin’s face. “Metal doesn't get my dragon senses going.”

“Oh….”

“But,” the other continues, bringing his attention to the ring on Jimin’s left middle finger, “jewels, however….”

The ring he’s talking about was a gift, passed down from Jimin’s late grandfather, to his father, then to Jimin himself. It’s a silver ring, the band thick, engraved with spirals and arches. It hold a single sapphire nestled in a band of diamonds, and among his collection, it’s his second favorite. Jungkook’s thumb passes over the smooth stone, while he oohs over it. His hands are warm, hot, even, or maybe Jimin’s skin is just cool. Even so, the contact makes Jimin shiver.

Then he looks up, his gaze meeting Jimin’s, and the latter can see a faint blue glowing in his irises. “It’s beautiful,” Jungkook breathes, his voice lowered, and not at all displeasing to listen to, “definitely fit for a prince.”

“I feel like there’s a ‘but’ after that,” Jimin says, swallowing. Jungkook is close, and damn, he smells nice.

The other smiles, stepping back. “You’re right. It’s a beautiful stone, but I prefer rubies. I have an entire collection.”

“You mean a hoarder’s stash.”

“I don’t appreciate your racist dragon humor, Jimin.” Jungkook rolls his eyes, touching his stomach. “I’m also probably going to drop dead from hunger at any point, so do you think you’re okay to brave the night again?”

Jimin nods, not at all put out by the dragon’s frown; it almost looks like a pout, and that in itself is almost adorable. “Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s go.”

 

It takes them ten more minutes to find a vendor selling pork (Jungkook is adamant about it); Jungkook walks ahead of Jimin, gently nudging people out of the way, forming a path for the other. It takes them another five to find a convenience store with a couple of plastic tables outside to sit at. Although Jimin had offered, Jungkook bought their meals himself, in cash (not jewels), all ten portions of it. Jimin leaves the dragon outside taking their food out of the bags, while he runs inside the store for drinks. He comes back with soda and water, because Jimin isn’t totally sure what dragons drink.

“Do they have banana milk?” he asks, when Jimin tells him this.

“Ba… nana milk? I- I don’t know, I didn’t look,” Jimin responds, surprised. He was not expecting that .

“I’ll go look,” the other says, standing, “here, those are yours.” He points to three plates of food on one side of the table, and disappears inside, wiping his hands on his jeans. A banana milk-loving, ruby-hoarding dragon. Who knew.

Eventually they get settled, their table completely overtaken by ribs, roast, veggies, banana milk, soda. Jimin barely has room for his elbows.

“So,” Jungkook licks his lips, chewing, “what makes a prince rebel against the king and queen? Not that it’s any of my business, but I wouldn’t say you’re the type of person to just let one thing push you over the edge like that.”

“You’re right,” Jimin admits, digging into his first plate. “I mean, it’s not really rebelling, though, is it? I am an adult now.”

“An adult that’s clearly never been to the city after nightfall.”

Jimin stops chewing, the other’s words having hit a nerve. Not a ‘shut up’ nerve, so he’s not angry, just a nerve. But Jungkook is right. “Yeah, I guess the made-a-deal-with-a-dragon thing was just… too much,” Jimin pauses, hesitating with Jungkook’s eyes on him. “I mean, I went to school in the city, but my schools were all in the historic district. I take university classes online, and go to work with my dad every day.” Every morning, at seven AM, Jimin climbs into the backseat with his father, and they both read the paper while the driver takes them to the company. Jimin doesn’t remember the last time he even looked out the window. “I don’t think… No, I’ve never even been to this part of town.”

“Ah,” Jungkook nods, sipping his milk, “the age-old tale; the prince doesn’t want the life the king and queen have planned for him.”

Jimin rolls his eyes. “Stop calling me prince, but yeah, you’re right. I don’t even mind running the company after my dad, it’s a good company. He builds hospitals, funds medical research, has millions aside for medical school scholarships. I just,” Jimin drops his hands to his lap, at a loss, “I just don’t want to do it yet . I still have time to live my life, to do things that make me happy. Is that wrong?”  

“Nope.” Jungkook smiles, tossing his first plate, now empty, to the chair next to him. “But don’t take advice from me, dragons are pretty selfish. Though,” he pauses, narrowing his eyes at the other, “I am intrigued, now. Even without the promise of a kiss hanging over my head, I think I’d like to help you.”

“Help me? Help me do what?”

“Whatever you want to do, prince.”

Jimin scowls, cracking open his can of soda. “Look, dragon , I just want to know what the other side is like. Just… for a little while.”

Jungkook smirks, and lifts his bottle of milk up. “We have all weekend, then,” he pauses, his smirk turning into a genuine smile, “to making our own choices,” he says.

Jimin is completely exasperated with the other, at this point, but he’s also sort of relieved, almost, though he can’t say why. So instead of thinking, instead of milling over the details, he lifts his can of soda, and toasts with the dragon.

 

“So, we have about… an hour and a half until the sun comes up,” Jungkook states, looking towards the east. “What do you wanna do first, prince? Rob a bank? Visit the redlight district? Oh, let’s steal a motorcycle!”

Jimin stiffens, smacking at the dragon’s arm as they walk through the thinning streets. “How about none of that? And stop calling me prince.”

“Oh, c’mon. A motorcycle, please?”

“No.”

Jungkook groans, as they come to a crosswalk. “Fine, then. You pick. Start with something your parents never let you do, something simple.”

“Ripped jeans,” Jimin says suddenly, spotting a store across the street. When Jungkook ‘huhs’ at him, he points. “My parents always bought my clothes, I was never allowed to buy my own. But I’ve always thought ripped jeans were so… hot.”

The light turns, and they rush across the street, Jungkook struggling to keep up. “You’re not wrong, but really? Your first, well, second, rebellious act is going to be shopping for clothes ?”

“Not just clothes, Jungkook, clothes my parents wouldn’t approve of!” Jimin jogs up to the glass doors, peering inside. “Oh, right. They aren’t open yet.”

“Actually,” Jungkook points out, “looks like they’re closed today for a wedding.” Jimin finds the sign in the window, and sure enough, it says the store is closed for the day.

“Shit,” he mutters, “I really liked those, too.” He gives the jeans in the window one last longing glance, before he turns, shrugging. “I guess we can find another store?”  

But Jungkook is already grabbing him, dragging him towards the alley a few feet away. “C’mon,” he says, turning his smile on Jimin, “let’s shop.”

He brings Jimin around the back of the store, to the door that the employees clearly use for a smoke break, if all the cigarettes on the ground indicate anything. But Jimin is wary, not because of this, but because he knows what the dragon is thinking.

“Dude, we are not breaking in,” he says, grabbing at Jungkook’s arm, while the other fiddles with the lock, “this is not okay.”

“Hey, you want those jeans, we’re getting you those jeans,” is all Jungkook says, as the door swings out, open, the alarms not making a peep.

Jimin stands there, gaping, while Jungkook watches, a smile on his face. Jimin has never stolen anything, ever. He’d given students detention for stealing a pencil, back when he was in student council in high school. But he feels a thrill in his bones, even though he knows stealing is bad, really bad . However… he can leave money for what he takes, right?

He swallows, looking up at Jungkook. “What about the cameras?”

“Already have them blocked,” the other replies, his smile widening, “dragon mojo, and all that.”
After another five seconds of debate, Jimin finally nods. “Okay.”

The store isn’t large, by any means, as Jimin soon discovers.

“I think they call it a boutique? Oh, leather…” Jungkook wanders off, leaving Jimin by the jeans, rolling his eyes.

And although the store isn’t large, he’s laden down with piece after piece of clothing, before he’s even realized it. Jeans and a couple hoodies, a really nice blue button up that he can wear to work. He’s heading for the fitting room when Jungkook stops him.

“No,” Jungkook says, tossing the blue shirt to the floor, “and no,” there goes the hoodie. “You don’t even have the jeans that you wanted.”

Jimin frowns down at the pile of denim in his arms. “But, these are so nice.”

“You’re not trying to look nice, you’re trying to look hot. Now, go get the ripped jeans, and give me these-” he wrestles the others from Jimin’s hold, “and I’ll find you a shirt.”

Jimin pouts, gazing at the dark wash jeans that the other tosses to the floor. “What does a dragon know about fashion?”

“Really?” Jungkook gives Jimin a dull look, then glances down at himself pointedly. “ Really ? Times change, do you have any idea how hard it was to put together a good outfit? Especially one this good?”

Jimin giggles, he can’t help it, Jungkook just seems so offended. “Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Fashionista, please forgive me.”

Jungkook huffs at Jimin’s sarcasm, and wanders off, muttering to himself. “Just go try on those jeans,” he calls, “before I set off the alarm and let them arrest your ass.”

Still giggling, though now it’s at the other’s empty threats, Jimin tries on three pairs of the jeans, trying to find the right style. But he quickly finds himself at a loss, and the only one around to help him is a dragon, who just happens to be grumbling outside the fitting room. Jungkook seems to still be slightly offended.

Peeking his head out of the curtain that separates the fitting room to the rest of the store, Jimin grins. “Hey, you still want to help me?”

Jungkook glares, but there’s a smile hidden somewhere in that expression. “You sure you want fashion advice from a dragon?”

“I just need you to tell me which pair looks better on me.” Jimin smiles, exaggerating his plea by cupping his cheeks. “Please, Jungkookie?” he whines.

The other turns away, but Jimin doesn’t miss the smile he tries to hide. “Okay, fine, I’ll help. Just… let’s see them.”

Without losing his grin, Jimin steps out, in the first pair; light wash, razor-slits along the thighs, tight around his shins. Jungkook regards him for a second, his eyes wide and his mouth parted. “Okay, next,” he finally says with a nod. Jimin disappears back behind the curtain, and quickly changes into the next pair, black, distressing along the knees. Jungkook gives him the same look, the same dismissal, and then he’s down to the third pair. These are mid-dark, low-rise, the knees ripped open to almost the thigh, and loose around the ankle.

“I think I might like these the best,” Jimin admits, turning this way and that in the mirror.

“Yes,” Jungkook agrees, “get those. And-” he turns to a pile of clothes in a chair next to him, and tosses a sheer, loose, white tank top at Jimin, “try this on with it.”

Jimin holds the material up. It’s cool and slithery in his hands, but, no way should it qualify as clothing. “It’s the middle of October, do you want me to freeze?” he asks, gaping at the smirking dragon. But Jungkook, it seems, has a solution.

He once again reaches into the pile of clothing next to him, and produces a dark, midnight blue leather (probably fake) jacket, worn in places to make it seem older and used. It’s nice, and even has a thin layer of fleece along the inside; well, Jimin can admit, that’ll definitely keep him warm. Jungkook balls it up and tosses it to him. “Try them on, so we can go. I think I’m getting hungry again.”

Jimin does, slipping back behind the curtain. “How the hell are you hungry again? You just ate an entire family of pigs.”

“Wow, just make me feel bad about my diet, thanks for that.”

“I’m just saying,” Jimin continues, sliding the curtain back, “that you just ate. A ton.” He expects the other to have another witty comeback, so Jimin is surprised to see Jungkook just staring at him. “What?” he asks him, holding out his arms and turning once. “Yes?”

Jungkook nods slowly, his eyes dark. “Yes. Remember when I told you I didn’t come here to eat you?” Jimin freezes, nodding. “Well… you might have just changed my mind.”

“Is this your way of saying I look good, or do I need to run or something?”

Jungkook smiles, back to playful, and Jimin relaxes. “Is that all you wanted to get? The sun’s coming up, it won’t be dark in here for long. I don’t think it would be good for anyone to see us through the window.”
“Oh, yeah, let me change.”

When he’s done, emerging from the dressing room with the new clothes folded neatly in his arms, Jungkook immediately offers him an open backpack. “It’ll be easier to carry, this way. I also tossed in boxers and socks, since I’m sure you don’t want to go home and get any.”

“That’s fine, but whose Iron Man shirt is that?” Jimin asks, pointing to the bottom of the bag.

“Just put your stuff in, and lets go. Dragon needs donuts.”

Rolling his eyes, and not subtly, Jimin does as the other asks, then slips the backpack on (after removing the tags). They’re heading for the back door when he suddenly remembers, pausing at the counter. He barely has his wallet out of his pocket before Jungkook is groaning.

“Don’t you dare leave money.”

“But-” Jimin holds the money up, ready to argue.

“I am trying to turn you into a delinquent, prince.”  

“I don’t want any of the employees to get in trouble!”

Jungkook sighs, obviously so done with the other. “Wow, Park Jimin, you are a literal angel,” he closes his eyes, thinking. “Okay, look,” he says, “I’ll trip the alarm, make it seem like the front lock was busted. Is that good?”

Jimin nods. “Yeah, but the cameras…?”

“I’ll short them out, they won’t have any footage for the time we were here.”

“Okay.”

Suddenly the small space is drowned in sharp, pitched ringing, and wow, Jungkook could have warned him. But the other is too busy flashing a grin at Jimin, and running towards the backdoor, dodging racks of clothing on the way. With his own smirk, and a wince as the alarm seems to get louder, Jimin tosses the money to the counter, and starts running, following the path the other took.

In the alley, after slamming the back door closed, Jungkook takes Jimin’s hand, and then they’re running again. They run and run, through back alleys and streets that the rising sun has yet to touch, devoid of other people. The bustle of the night is gone, and the peaceful dawn takes its place, but Jimin can’t stop the way his heart hammers, the way his hand grips at Jungkook’s; he feels like he’s flying, even while his thighs burn from exertion, even while his lungs ache for deeper breaths. Jimin runs, side by side with Jungkook, for what feels like hours, but couldn’t have be more than fifteen minutes. Finally, as the thrill fades, Jungkook slows, tugging Jimin with him.

He can smell coffee, and the sweet, sticky flavor of sugar, and he realizes that they’ve run halfway across town to a bakery. He finds he could really use a shot of espresso.

“Holy- shit,” Jimin gasps, squatting next to the bakery’s trashcan. “I… wow.”

Jungkook laughs, not nearly as winded as Jimin, and sniffs the air. “How’s it feel to be a criminal, prince? God, that coffee smells so good.”

“Feels… tiring… sore… ow.” Jimin winces, stretching out his leg to avoid a cramp. “I wouldn’t be this out of shape if my parents had let me dance.”

This gets Jungkook’s full, undivided attention. “Dance? You dance?”

Jimin nods, giving up and planting his ass on the dirty pavement, rubbing at his thigh. “I did. Or, I wanted to. I had a friend, in highschool, he was a bit older than me, and we were both student aides. When we didn’t have anything to do, we hung out in the gym and he taught me some dance,” Jimin explains, gasping when his foot cramps. “Shit, ah… anyway, it was mostly hip hop, stuff, but he said I had talent for it.”

“Your parents didn’t like it?” Jungkook kneels, flicking his eyes up at Jimin’s, before he presses his palms of both hands flat against the other’s thighs. His touch radiates heat, and oh man, Jimin melts.

“Well,” Jimin sighs, letting the heat ease his muscles, “I never told them. I knew it was useless.”

Jungkook nods, falling silent; he seems focused on the task literally at hand, as he moves his palms down, over Jimin’s knees, to his shins. Jimin is definitely melting. “What about your friend? The one who taught you?” he asks suddenly, his eyes flicking back up, peering through his dark bangs.

“He went to a dance academy, against his dad’s wishes. He sends me emails, sometimes,” he pauses, licking his lips. “He seems… happy.”

The dragon seems to sense the shift, and stands up, reaching a hand out to Jimin. “Well you know what’s happiness in physical form? Coffee, with a side of donuts.”

Taking the offered hand, Jimin eases himself to his feet. His legs still feel a bit sore, but they’re better, no cramps in sight. He allows himself a small smile. “And by a side, you mean a dozen?”

“Nope. I mean two dozen.”

 

Much to Jimin’s relief, Jungkook secures them a small table on the patio, and leaves Jimin to wait in the dawn light while he braves the crowd. Jimin sits with his legs tucked underneath him, his elbows on the table. His hoodie keeps him warm, even though it seems the temperature always drops right in the moments before the sun completes its rise over the horizon. It’s just one of those things that go hand in hand with the phrase “the night is always darkest before the dawn”. But there’s something else keeping him warm, and Jimin isn’t totally sure if he should think about it or not.

In the quiet, bustling light of the main street, thinking about Jungkook’s hands on his thighs feels almost illicit, though Jimin knows there was nothing odd about it. Or, maybe he’d just rather think there was nothing odd about it. The dragon had been trying to help, had just been trying to help ease the soreness in Jimin’s muscles. But the truth is, despite his efforts to not think about it, he can still feel Jungkook’s palms, as if they’re still pressed against his legs. If he closes his eyes, he can forget where he is, and instead, can pretend he’s - somewhere - somewhere with Jungkook’s hot, hot palms sliding against his skin.

“Oh-shit.”

Jimin is startled out of his shameful reverie by the very subject of his thoughts nearly dropping two pastel boxes on the table. He squirms in his seat, letting out a steady breath through his nose, and accepts the Americano that the other passes to him. “Thank you,” he breathes, watching Jungkook slide into the chair across from him. He gives Jimin a look that leads the other to believe that he’s aware of what he’d been thinking, but Jimin just brushes him off, sipping his coffee.

Thankfully, the dragon immediately sets to devouring the first box of donuts, but Jimin, still full from their extensive midnight snack, only allows himself one. He gives Jungkook the okay to eat the rest, and the other digs in happily. But Jimin still feels as if his thoughts may retreat back into the land of not safe , so he speaks up, asking Jungkook what it’s like to be a dragon.

“What’s it like?” he repeats, mouthful of donut and all. “I’m not really sure how to answer that. I’m not sure what it’s like to be anything else.”

Despite his words, Jungkook launches into his life story for Jimin, giving him what seems to be full disclosure. He details his birth (not as gross as one would think), something about how the sunlight reflected off a cloud at the same time that two stars aligned, and poof - baby dragon Jungkook was born. Jimin isn’t exactly sure, but he isn’t about to question it, especially not when the other is still talking.

But there is something he’s curious about. “How old are you?” he asks, nibbling on the last bit of his donut, as Jungkook finishes off the first box.

“Uh…,” the dragon pauses, his head cocked to the left, “what year is it?”

“Two-thousand fifteen.”

“Then I’m - somewhere around two-hundred and ten,” Jungkook nods a couple times, as if he’s still unsure, “yeah. I was born late summer, so, by now my birthday would have passed.”

Jimin snorts, eying the other. “You mean you’re not even sure when your birthday is?”

“It was a different calendar, back then, okay? I never bothered to learn the new one.”

“How can you know what a phone is, or donuts, but not know the months of the year?” Jimin asks, completely unconvinced that the dragon isn’t just being lazy.

“Priorities,” he answers, popping another donut in his mouth.

“So… you’re still a baby, then? Two-hundred doesn’t seem that old.”

The dragon huffs; it seems as if Jimin has knocked a scale or two loose with that question. “I’m not a baby, dragons reach maturity at a hundred and fifty, actually.”

“Ah, okay, so,” Jimin thinks, adding in his head, “so in human years you’re - twenty-eight? No, you look way too young.”

“What the hell is human years supposed to mean?” Jungkook stares, his eyes narrowed as he sips his coffee, apparently still offended.

Jimin raises a hand, counting on his fingers. “You know, like dog years? Like every dog year is seven human years, or something?”

“How did you get twenty-eight for me then?”

“Well for the sake of simplicity, let’s say one-fifty equals twenty, therefore, every seven-point-five years equals one human year. If you’re two-hundred and ten, divided by seven-point-five, that would be twenty-eight.”

Jungkook, his mouth having fallen open halfway through Jimin’s explanation, doesn’t speak. “Huh,” is all he says, clearly trying to count in his head.

“Anyway,” Jimin shrugs, “you look closer to my age, anyway, so it doesn’t make sense.”

Jungkook taps the table. “Well, dragons age really slow anyway. Seokjin is a few thousand years old, and he looks barely older than you or me. So I guess you can’t really go by simple math and looks with this.”

“Guess not,” Jimin accedes, “it’s just awkward that someone who is ten times my age looks like he’d still be in high school.”

Once they’ve moved past the charms of age and immortality, Jungkook tells Jimin some of the more personal details of his life. He tells him about Namjoon, the Keeper, about how he’s known him most of his life, thinks of him more as a brother than anything. Namjoon has served as a Keeper for centuries, Jungkook tells him, but even so, had almost jeopardize everything when he’d fallen in love with a human. But luckily, he’d had Seokjin on his side, an Elder dragon of the King’s court; he’d managed to have one of the oldest rules in the book abolished, the one forbidding Otherworlders to have relationships with humans. Thanks to Seokjin, Yoongi was able to become immortal and live with Namjoon on the other side.

“Wait, how does a human become immortal?” Jimin stutters, choking on his Americano.

But Jungkook only bites his lip. “I don’t think that’s something I should tell you,” he says, shaking his head, “I’ve probably told you too much, already.”

“Wow, rude?”

“Hush, I’m not done with my story.”

Jimin falls silent again, though he’s not about to forget what Jungkook said. But he lets the dragon tell his story, as they sit and watch the sun rise. Jungkook continues on to tell him how Seokjin basically raised him into the man (coughdragoncough) he is. He tells stories about his past contracts, about the places he’d been, about his friendships with Namjoon, Yoongi, and Seokjin.

Jimin, curious, asks where Jungkook lives. “So, do you like, live in the sky?”

The dragon snorts, and Jimin is still caught off guard by how cute the other looks when he crinkles his nose like that. “Well, technically? It’s called Otherworld, and even though it’s a different… dimension? It’s about level with your Earth’s stratosphere. But it’s… I’m not sure what the word is - linear? It’s not really a separate planet, just a plane of existence?”

“I have no idea what you just said,” Jimin admits, laughing when the other pulls a face. “But that’s okay. Tell me about where you live in Otherworld. Is it, like, a cave?”

Jungkook rolls his eyes. “Yeah, smartass, it is a cave actually. I own a mountain and I live in a cave, and, despite the stereotypicality of it, I actually enjoy my cave, thank you. It’s a very nice cave.”

Hiding his giggles behind his sleeve, Jimin attempts to console the other. “I’m sure it is a nice cave, Jungkook. I’d love to see it.”

“No,” Jungkook says flatly, standing to throw away his now-empty boxes.

The other frowns. “No? Is it not allowed, or…?”

“There are things that a dragon doesn’t show, prince,” Jungkook says, stretching, “his true form, his cave, and his treasure. You’re sweet, and all, but it’s just against my nature.”

Jimin has to fight the urge to roll his eyes at the nickname, but he does understand what the other means. There’s just one thing; Jimin is exhausted. “Okay, fair,” he says, “but where are we going to sleep? I appreciate the coffee, but it’s not doing much considering I’ve officially been awake for over twenty-four hours.” It may have been Jimin’s birthday, but he’d gotten up and gone to work yesterday, like it had been any other Friday. He’s pretty dead on his feet, as he and Jungkook begin down the sidewalk, aimlessly making their way down the street.

“Ah, yeah, I forgot about sleep,” the dragon admits, “but I guess we can find a hotel? I don’t need to sleep, not yet, but you can nap for a few hours before we continue the adventure.”

Jimin bites his lip. “A hotel?” He’s not entirely sure about rooming with Jungkook. Not after his earlier thoughts. So far, Jungkook seems to be respecting Jimin’s personal bubble, but Jimin isn’t sure if he himself is totally unwilling to have it invaded. But considering it’s either a hotel, or a nap behind a dumpster, he doesn’t have much choice. “Let’s find one that’ll take cash,” he says, “I’m not sure if they’re looking, but I don’t want my parents to find me if I use my bank card.”

“You say that as if I didn’t see the note you left them,” Jungkook laughs, “I agree though. But it’s your turn, tell me about your life, prince.”

“Not much to tell.”

“Just tell me.”

Jimin does, as they take the bus to the more touristy district of the city. He tells Jungkook about his best friend, Taehyung, about his parents, and his little brother. Taehyung, Jimin’s literal B-F-F since they were like, six months old, is out of the country, studying abroad in Australia; he’s destined to take over his family’s shipbuilding business, though he’s infinitely more excited about it than Jimin is about his own future. Besides, he’s never been sheltered or smothered like Jimin has.

Ironically, now that Jimin thinks about it, his younger brother is the same way; Jihyun’s enthusiastic about his future with the company, though he’s never felt the pressure that Jimin has. Although he’s gone to the same school, has the same parents, he’s never had to deal with the lack of control that Jimin’s felt his whole life.

Jimin idly wonders if he’d be more likely to welcome the responsibilities, if he’d had a choice.

Probably not.

Jimin has already told Jungkook plenty about his parents, about his life thus far, so there honestly isn’t much to tell. But he tries, tries to remember other things from his life - like the time he was seven, and fell out of a tree, after climbing it just because his dad told him not to. He tells Jungkook about the time he went to a school party, and missed curfew because he was too busy hooking up with a senior, and about the time that he got drunk, and asked a cop to take him home, just to see the look of horror on his mom’s face.

These stories bring the dragon to tears. “You’ve always been a rebel, prince!”

Jimin isn’t too sure about that, as he tosses toothpaste and a toothbrush in their shopping basket, but he’s glad he’s able to amuse the other. “It’s normal teenage stuff, though, isn’t it? Sucking dick at a party, literally everyone does that,” he points out, shrugging. Jungkook doesn’t reply, aside from choking on a cough before ducking his head.

They’ve stopped by a drugstore, just to get a few things before they head to the hotel; Jimin insisted on toiletries, claiming he wasn’t paying twice as much for the hotel’s skincare. Jungkook, with a shrug, just followed him in, then proceeded to toss snack after snack in the basket. Jimin couldn’t even look at food, right now.

Eventually, though, they check into a small hotel, on a side-road, just out of reach of tourists. It’s shabby, but clean, and Jimin willingly pays for the entire night, even though they won’t need it that long. He just doesn’t want to give the older lady at the front desk any idea to think that he and Jungkook are there to do anything other than sleep.

He also gets a room with two beds, just in case.

Jungkook lets Jimin take the bathroom first, so Jimin washes his face, and brushes his teeth. He leaves his hoodie hanging in the bathroom. When he pads back out into the main room, the dragon has changed into the Ironman shirt he stole (though Jimin technically paid for it), and is half under the sheets of one bed, his jeans lying folded at the foot.

“Why didn’t I think to buy- er, steal, pajamas,” Jimin wonders aloud, as he pulls back the sheets on the empty bed. The curtains are shut tight, not a drip of sunlight breaching the room. The only light source is the lamp between the beds, and the TV.

Jungkook, flipping channels (oddly modern, for a dragon), looks over, smirking. “Sleep how you’re comfortable, prince, I swear I won’t look.”

Jimin isn’t quite sure what to say to that.

So instead, he sits on the edge of his bed, and kicks off his jeans, tossing them to the chair next to the window. Before he rolls under the blankets, he tugs off his t-shirt, tossing it in a similar fashion. He shivers at the cool touch of the sheets, but he’s comfortable. He rolls to face Jungkook, snuggling into his pillow.

“Are you just going to watch me sleep?” he asks, resisting a yawn.

Jungkook snorts, reaching over to turn off the lamp. The only light comes from the TV, now, flickering and dim across the tan walls. “Nope. I’m going to watch the Marvel movie marathon, while you sleep. Now shush, it’s starting. Nightly-night, prince.”

Jimin tries to roll his eyes, but they’ve already closed, as exhaustion takes over. He blinks them open, just for a moment, just long enough to see Jungkook getting comfortable; the dragon curls on his side, shoving a pillow under his face, his eyes locked on the TV as the opening credits of The Avengers roll. What a dork.

“G’night,” Jimin murmurs, before he lets out a sigh, fully succumbing to the haze of sleep.

 

It’s warm, billowing steam, and the scent of men’s shampoo that wakes Jimin up; the thick air fills the tiny hotel room, and he stirs, groaning unconsciously into this pillow. When he blinks his eyes open, wondering what the in the world is going on, his blurry vision takes in the empty bed across from his, the darkened room, and finally, the half-naked man emerging from the bathroom on the other side of the room.

Oh yeah - Jimin ran away with a dragon. That happened.

Groaning again at the sight of Jungkook in nothing but a towel, his pale skin glistening in the dim light, Jimin sits up, dragging a hand through what must be magnificent bedhead.

This alerts Jungkook, who looks over with a grin, using another towel to chafe at his hair. “Good morning, prince.”

“Stop calling me prince.”

“Would you prefer sleeping beauty? There was a dragon in that story, correct?”

Jimin just groans again, rubbing at his sleep-puffed eyes, willing the situation he can feel steadily beginning in his boxers to just not ; he doesn’t want to deal with it, and he wouldn’t have to, if he hadn’t just woken up and had to see Jungkook all naked and hot.

It’s annoying, this early.

“Why are you naked?” he asks, tugging his pillow into his lap, hiding not only his ‘situation’, but also his bare torso.

“Uh,” Jungkook sits on the edge of his bed, the towel riding up to reveal entirely too much thigh, “I showered? Don’t worry, I left you plenty of hot water. But oh, I hung my shirt in the bathroom to get the wrinkles out, don’t like, let it fall and get soaked.”

Jimin falls back on the mattress, stretching and trying not to be too embarrassed over the sound that squeaks from his chest. He lays there for a moment, reconsidering the weekend in favor of sleep, when a thought hits him. “Wait,” he snorts, “you took a shower, and hung your shirt up so the steam would get the wrinkles out?”

“Uh, yeah?”

Jimin snorts again, rubbing at his face. “That’s funny. A showering dragon doing laundry. Couldn’t you just magic the wrinkles out?” It’s silent, for a moment; all Jimin can hear is the sound of his own breathing.

“Wow, you’re crabby in the morning,” finally comes Jungkook’s reply, and his words are careful, clipped. “For one, I’m a dragon, not a witch, so no, I cannot just ‘magic’ them out. Two, what the hell do you think I do on a normal day, slither around in the dark like some lizard?” The dragon sighs, leaving Jimin to stare at the ceiling, frozen. “Believe it or not, there are some conveniences to human form, you know. Showering, eating, fucking, all of this is magnitudes easier in a human body, and yes, dragons shower. Here, in Otherworld, everyone showers, and if they don’t, it’s a personal decision, having nothing to do with race.”

“Oh.” Jimin sits up, watching the other fall back against his pillows, remote in hand. “You’re really pissed off?”

“No,” Jungkook sighs, “I’m just tired of the smart-ass presumptive comments. Go shower so we can move on to phase two of rebellion.”

“But-”

“Go, or I’m gonna switch to the porn channel and turn it up loud .”

Jimin gasps, tossing his blanket to the side. “You wouldn’t.” The dragon looks over, one eyebrow disappearing beneath damp, coal-black hair, and Jimin jumps up, not caring that he’s all but naked. “Okay, okay, I’m going.” Grabbing his new clothes from the bag, and a clean towel from the closet, he heads for the bathroom, rushing past the reclining dragon - Jimin isn’t sure if the other wouldn’t turn to the porn channel just because.

“Don’t forget to wash your human ass.”

Park Jimin maybe be worthy of the word complacent, he may be the type to smile and brush things off. But never has he backed down from a perfectly harmless, seemingly innocent sexual innuendo. So, peeking back around the corner, aware that the curve of his ass is peeking out just as much, Jimin smiles, as sweetly as he can. “You say that like you weren’t just staring.”

The change that takes over Jungkook’s face is terrifyingly swift; the way his eyes droop, darkening significantly, and the way the hand resting on his chest moves down, trailing over his toned abdominals, has Jimin warming from the inside, out. “Prince,” he says, his voice low, “it’s been twenty years since I had sex, don’t tease me.”

Jimin is locked in the bathroom in under three seconds, his heart hammering against his ribs like it’s rioting. That definitely backfired - and Jimin isn’t totally sorry that it had, but he also doesn’t want to lose sight of the fact that he’s here, now, with Jungkook, on some sort of magical adventure to reclaim his individuality. Perhaps not magical , really, and maybe he does like the dragon more than is really logical at this point, but he definitely isn’t ready to make any giant leaps in that direction. So, he calms himself with deep breaths, and showers quickly, not wanting to waste anymore time. The clock is ticking, before he has to kiss Jungkook, and possibly lose his weekend of freedom. Jimin is willing to let that go so easily.

When he’s clean, dry, and dressed, Jimin leaves the bathroom as nonchalantly as he can, despite the slight self-consciousness he feels in his new clothing. The jeans are fine, he likes them a lot, but the shirt is loose and almost sheer - the holes for the arms drop halfway down his ribs, and the neckline is pretty low, too. But maybe he’ll feel better once he’s in his jacket.

He’s folding his other clothes, and trying very hard to ignore the bare-chested dragon in his peripheral (Jungkook had put on his jeans, but hadn’t retrieved his shirt yet), when he realizes the other is basically doing the same. Jungkook seems to be ignoring Jimin, in favor of finishing off the last bag of chips they’d bought.

“Hey,” Jimin says softly, turning to look at the other, “you okay?” Jungkook pivots to look at him, in all his bare-chested glory, and Jimin struggles to remain completely unaffected. It works, he thinks.

“First you wake up full of grouch and insult me, then you tease me, and you ask if I’m okay? You’re heartless, Park Jimin,” he tells him, disappearing into the bathroom.

“Hey now,” Jimin says, not entirely sure if he’s now the one being teased, “are you still mad about the shower thing? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it-”

“If you didn’t mean it,” the dragon shoots back with a pointed look, emerging from the bathroom as he shrugs on his shirt, “then why say it? Always saying shit you don’t mean, why is that always what humans do?”

Jimin freezes, Jungkook’s words sinking in. The dragon definitely has a point - Jimin has never thought of himself as being an asshole. Well, there was the one time his senior year where he pranked Taehyung, ending up with both of them in the hospital, but he hadn’t meant to hurt himself, let alone his friend. But, then again, Jimin hadn’t meant to offend the dragon either, and he’d carelessly done that with just a few jokes said out of bad taste. “Okay,” he nods, “I get it. I am sorry, though. I mean that.”

Jungkook shrugs, rolling up his sleeves before he buttons his shirt. “It’s fine.”

“Does Kookie want an apology hug?” Jimin doesn’t even know what he’s saying, now - he just knows he wants the playful, almost-arrogant-but-still-charming dragon back, and nobody has ever been able to resist Jimin’s charms. “C’mon, let’s hug it out.”

“Uh, no thanks,” the other says sarcastically, but there’s a hint of smile on his lips, so Jimin moves closer, opening his arms.

“C’mon, I won’t know you’ve accepted my apology until you hug me.” Jimin stands there, his arms open, staring down the dragon, who seems to have a hard time resisting a smile. So he opens his arms a little wider, and pushes out his bottom lip, just a bit. “Please?”

Jungkook rolls his eyes with a dramatic sigh, then moves in faster than Jimin anticipated. Before he can blink, his cheek is pressed against hot, smooth skin, as the other’s arms wind around his waist, lifting him just slightly. His own arms go around Jungkook’s neck instinctively, and the dragon’s face ends up in the crook of his neck, his breath warm; Jimin shivers at the feel, realizing that maybe he needed the hug - it’s kind of been a long thirty hours, all things considered. And Jungkook is warm, hard but soft, and he smells like the beach at midnight. Jimin feels… something. Something he hadn’t expected to feel, but he isn’t totally opposed to. He doesn’t want to let go.

Finding his voice, Jimin turns his head, his cheek pressed against Jungkook’s hair. “Feel better?”

“Eh, maybe a bit,” the other murmurs, his lips moving against Jimin’s bare skin. “Hugs aren’t my usually go-to for letting off steam - ignore the pun.”

Jimin giggles, pulling away before he does something stupid like nuzzle . “I know what you need,” he announces, smiling up at Jungkook.

“A blow jo-”

“Food,” Jimin finishes quickly, scowling playfully. “You need food.”

Smiling Jungkook nods, moving away to (finally) button up his shirt (goodbye, pretty pale chest). “That’ll work, too.”

They finish packing up in what probably should have been an awkward silence, but is comfortable, really. Jimin stuffs his clothes into the backpack, along with Jungkook’s Iron man shirt, then stuffs his hoodie down on top of that. In ten minutes, he’s in his new leather jacket, bag over his shoulder, and they’re checking out, dropping off the key for their deposit.

“So, food, then what?” Jungkook asks, as they head down the street, into the setting sun.

Jimin wrinkles his nose, thinking. “I have no idea, really. I never thought this through, you know.”

“So, my choice?”

“No strip clubs.”

Jungkook laughs, tossing his head back, and Jimin finds himself genuinely glad the other is back to himself. “Oh, prince,” the dragon coos, “you read my mind, dammit.”

Jimin tugs on the other’s arm, rolling his eyes as they cross an intersection, walking towards the main road. “Let’s just find a restaurant. We’ll figure out what’s next when we have food in front of us.”

“Sounds good to me,” Jungkook agrees, tossing his arm around Jimin’s shoulders, as they enter the steadily widening crowd. “Oh, how about seafood?”

“I dunno, it’s hard to find good seafood in the city.”

“Well, you don’t have my nose.”

Jimin shrugs, conceding - Jungkook has a point. They don’t talk much, as they wade in and out of bodies, groups of twos, threes, sometimes ten, passing the crowd coming out for what they probably assume will be a wild Saturday night. Jimin finds it humorous, in a ridiculous way, that none of these people are aware that there’s a literal fantasy among them. Jungkook looks like any other person, albeit ten times as beautiful, and aside from the aura of power that coils close to his skin, there’s nothing else to hint at his inhumanness. His face, Jimin can see with a quick peek up, is open, friendly, taking in the city like he’s never seen it. But his arm, the one around Jimin, holds the other close, and something about the gesture screams protective possessiveness. Other people smile and side-step out of their way, and people who would have, under any circumstance, brushed against or bumped into Jimin, sense them coming, and move.

It’s kind of cool.

“So,” Jungkook starts, letting his arm fall as they wait for the crosswalk light to change, and Jimin feels the absence of the other’s warmth immediately. “What would you be doing if you weren’t training under your dad?”

“What would I be doing?” Jimin repeats, biting his lip.

“Yeah, like, with your life. If you weren’t working at the company, taking online classes, that stuff. Where would you be, what would you be doing?” Jungkook looks at him, curiosity bright in his dark eyes. “Who would you be?”

Jimin doesn’t really have an answer for that; for someone who’s been going on and on about choosing his own life, he really has no idea what he would choose in the first place. He’d always just follow orders, though they came with smiles, the expectations heavy but not cold. He’d never considered what he wanted to do, aside from the rare moments where he just blatantly disregarded curfew, among other adolescent discrepancies. “I don’t know,” he answers truthfully, sticking close to the dragon as they cross the street with a group of what seems to be already-drunk university students. “Maybe dance?”

“Maybe? Like your friend?”

“Hoseok, yeah. I liked dancing, there was something pretty… cathartic, about it? I mean, I can sort of see myself at school with him, probably dating him to be honest. We got along pretty well.” Jimin almost misses the sharp jerk of Jungkook’s head, but he doesn’t. He laughs, stepping in front of the other to let a lady with a stroller pass them. “What’s that look for?”

“I’m trying to think of how many ways I can tease you for what you just said,” Jungkook tells him, his eyebrows squished together as if he’s actually thinking. “So far, I’ve got three jokes, half a dozen innuendoes, and a fact or two about dancers’ hips.”

Jimin hah s, rolling his eyes, as they stop at yet another crosswalk (ugh). “Don’t get too excited, we weren’t soulmates or anything. The sexual tension was pretty fucking there, but, I dunno, the feelings were more ‘ bro ’, less ‘ I love you ’.” He shrugs, watching the flashing light across the street. “And,” he says, before Jungkook’s thoughts can verbalize, “I have a few personal anecdotes to back up those facts you have.”

Jungkook laughs, and laughs, the whole time they cross the street, and halfway down the next street as well. Jimin laughs with him, feeling, for once, that the bright, sparkling city around him, isn’t really that oppressive. It’s almost pretty. Especially when Jungkook’s laugh adds a musical tone to the entire place.

“Okay, I have an idea,” Jungkook suddenly announces, pulling Jimin to a stop. “Do you know where the school is? The dance school? Is it in the city?”

“Uh, well, technically it is,” Jimin replies, letting the other back him against the side of a building so they aren’t standing in the middle of the sidewalk. “But it’s like, half an hour west.”

“Let’s go see your friend, then,” the dragon says, looking around. “Oh, there’s a bus stop. Let’s see if any go out that way.”

Jimin panics, just a bit, chills spreading through his gut. “Wait, Jungkook, hey-” he grabs the other by the hand, pulling him back. “What do you mean ‘go see him’? And what about dinner? I don’t even know what he’s doing right now, or if he’s busy, or whatever. I can’t call him, my phone died hours ago-”

“Hey, prince, hold on.” Jungkook moves his hands to Jimin’s shoulders, smoothing over the leather. “It’ll be okay. We’ll go, we’ll say hi, maybe he’ll eat with us. We can find out if you can really see yourself at a place like that.”

Jimin chews his lip, torn, his fingers finding the ring on his thumb. On one hand, he wants to throw caution to the wind, show up at Hoseok’s front door with a dragon by his side, see his friend again. He wants to see the school, see what kind of people he could be living side by side with, see what kind of dancers are around. But on the other hand, he’s scared; he’s scared he’ll feel out of place, terrified that Hoseok won’t be the same guy he remembers, the same friend.

Somewhere between one hand and the other, he’s more afraid of falling in love with a life that he can’t have.

Jungkook speaks again, before Jimin can gather his thoughts. “We don’t have to,” he says, his face softening. “We can go get dinner, find that stripclub you turned down earlier.”

Jimin can’t help but laugh at the other’s weak attempt to lighten the mood. “I didn’t take you as a stripclub kind of dragon,” he says, running his hand through his hair.

“Only if you’re the one getting on the pole.”

He laughs again, closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath. “Okay, let’s go.”

Jungkook lights up, his face a mask of amused surprise. “To the stripclub?!”

“No, asshole, the school. Let’s go to the school.” Jimin snorts, as the other’s face falls - but Jungkook’s smile returns in no time, causing little crinkles around his eyes. “It’s better to take the train, though,” he finishes.

Jungkook takes his hand, then, actually take his hand - Jimin’s hand swims in the other’s, small and dainty- lacing their fingers together. “Let’s go, prince.”

 

They find the subway and check the schedule, finding a train heading out of town that’s due to arrive in ten minutes. It’s a little packed in the underground, people coming and people going, and Jimin finds himself more than a bit uncomfortable - he’s never really liked the subway. He stands further from the platform than he should, his back against a concrete pillar, and the solidarity of the structure calms him slightly - but it’s Jungkook, next to him, his arm around Jimin’s shoulder, that really does the trick. Jimin gets the feeling that maybe the dragon isn’t too fond of being underground either, but then again, he could be projecting.

They can hear the train somewhere down the wide, dark tunnel, when Jungkook speaks. “This is okay, right?” he asks, flopping his arm a little on Jimin’s neck. “The touching, I mean.”

Jimin shrugs, careful not to knock the other’s arm off. “It’s fine with me. It keeps others from touching me, so, I’m not complaining.”

“Yeah, have you seen the way people keep looking at you? Jeez,” the dragon shakes his head, running a hand through his own hair. “Must be the jeans.”

“Must be,” Jimin giggles, wiggling his butt. “I thought they were staring at you, though.”

“Nah, some kind of survival instinct keeps them from looking at me for too long. We may not eat people, but dragons are still predators. Even the dullest human can sense that.”

Well… remembering how he’d felt when he’d first seen Jungkook, Jimin has to agree. Though, he also should probably admit that immediate attraction to the other was a close second to the intimitation he’d felt. It wouldn’t be totally unfathomable, either, if Jimin said he’s enjoying the casual skinship, as well - but he knows, and he’s sure Jungkook knows, that he’s not going to risk fulfilling the contract before their time is up. There’s something about Jungkook’s willingness to wait, too, that tells Jimin he may not like what happens after they do fulfil the contract. But the contact is nice, nonetheless.

“So, you’re being possessive, is what you’re saying,” Jimin jokes, as they train speeds by, slowing bit by bit, filling the underground space with a roaring whoosh.

Jungkook laughs, as they step forward, his smile almost shy. “I’d say it’s more like protective, but, something tells me you’re the last person I should need to protect.”

Jimin laughs this time, as they board the train, squeezing through other people both getting on and off the train; Jungkook let’s him take a window seat, and they fall silent, the space to small and quiet for either of them to feel comfortable continuing a private conversation. Not to mention, despite his smiles, Jungkook is still a little hangry, obvious in the way his face falls into an almost frown when he’s not talking. So, leaving him be, Jimin watches the dark tunnel pass through the window, wishing he’d brought headphones (and his phone charger), so he could at least listen to music on the half-hour ride, like the kid a few seats down.

It’s strange to think about, but Jimin can’t remember the last time he’d been out of the city, let alone out of the city without his family. He remembers family vacations, as a kid, trip to the beach, to the islands, exotic foods and expensive luggage. He remembers a school field trip, in middle school, to the mountains, a shrine and thirty other kids, complaining the entire time, trying to sneak smokes behind the teacher’s backs. But Jimin has never just, travelled, and even if he’s not necessarily alone, it feels like he is, but not in a bad way. It’s liberating, almost, to not have parents or chaperones checking in on where he is, what he’s doing, or making plans to meet back up at the hotel, plans for dinner. Jimin can go anywhere, do anything. Even with Jungkook with him, even though they’re only going a tiny half-hour outside the city, it’s different. It’s different, and Jimin likes it.

Jimin likes it so much, in fact, that he’s not, for once, twisting or tugging on his rings. He’s calm, no tightness in his chest, his breathing even and deep. So he doesn’t mind when Jungkook takes his hand in his own, and plays with the stones there, muttering lowly. It seems like even dragons can feel anxious.

Jimin watches, from the corner of his eye, as Jungkook twists and turns the silver band on his thumb, spinning the other, the inlaid band. His fingertips are like docile matches against Jimin’s skin, warm and bright, sending fizzling energy just under the surface. Before he can get too swept up in the feeling, though, Jungkook accidently tugs the ring a little too hard, and it slips almost completely from Jimin’s thumb.

“Trying to steal my jewelry, Kook?” Jimin teases, his voice light. Jungkook smirks, nestling the ring back against the base of Jimin’s knuckle, before he moves on to the next ring, seemingly afraid of actually being the cause of Jimin losing the other. Jimin gently pulls his hand away, slipping the ring off again. “Do you want to wear it?”

Jungkook scowls, taking the offered piece of jewelry. “No way it’ll fit.”

“Is that a crack at my hands?” Jimin muses, biting back a smile.

The other stutters, his scowl deepening. “Why would that be a crack at your hands?”

“I dunno, you tell me.” He watches the dragon squirm in his seat, his cheeks dusting the slightest, barely discernible shade of pink; but before he can laugh, he’s stunned into silence.

“I… really like your hands, though,” Jungkook says, his eyes staring at a spot on the floor as he pushes Jimin’s ring down onto his pinky. It fits, surprisingly, but Jimin is more concerned about the other’s words, the subtle tone in them. Jungkook had said the words gently, something like warmth filling the spaces between syllables, the curve of his tongue almost tender. It lights something in Jimin, or rather, fans something already there, and he smiles.

“I’m glad.” Jimin places his hand back in the other’s, and glances at the front of the car. “Just a few minutes, you gonna make it? Perishing of hunger yet?”

Jungkook snorts, but the sound is soft, opposite to the rugged touch of his hands on Jimin’s. “I might make it,” he says, peeking at Jimin from under his lashes. “But if I don’t, tell my friends I love them.”

“Will do.”

The train comes to a lurching stop, once, twice, then it’s their station. It’s nearly seven, at this point, completely dark as they emerge from the underground, into the outskirting college town. Bars and cafes line the street, people mill about, and it’s just as crowded as the city, but it’s a gentler crowded; there’s no flashing lights or sparkles, no undercurrent of haste or that deep seated need to rush, like Jimin felt in the city. Everyone walks at their own pace, smiling at laughing with their friends, some with coffee in their hands, some with not coffee. Jimin can also smell something very strongly resembling weed.

“College towns,” Jungkook comments, scrunching his nose, “they never change.” Jimin laughs, and after seeing several people holding hands, some holding faces, he takes Jungkook’s hand, confident in the fact that nobody will look twice. Jungkook does look twice, however, a wry smile on his lips.

Jimin ignores this, in favor of asking directions, and they set off down the street, heading towards, what they were told, is the residential part of campus. Jimin just hopes he can find Hoseok’s dorm, and in turn, Hoseok, once they get there. He hopes they can at least find someone who knows the other guy; Hoseok had always been popular, hopefully that hasn’t changed.

Aside from the coffee drinkers, the not coffee drinkers, and the herbal rebels, Jimin is completely awed by the rest of the crowd. There are all kinds of people, students, coming and going. Guys in basketball shorts or sweatpants, duffel bags over their shoulder, hiphop tracks bumping from their phones. There are girls, too, in tights and leotards, skipping down the sidewalk, books in hand. There’s a guy or two, as well, tights in place, and a group of girls in loose, baggy pants, popping on the corner. It’s late, sure, but it seems that nobody got that memo. As relaxed as the atmosphere is, there’s still an undercurrent of focused energy, goals in sight. Jimin briefly remembers taking his midterms last week, and thinks maybe that’s the case here, too. He wonders what it would be like, to get graded on how well you can control your body, mold your muscles, manipulate your bones. It seems like something out of a movie, really, but Jimin is, thus far, sold.

“Is that it?” Jungkook asks, breaking into Jimin’s inner monologue.

The other looks up, towards a massive steel and concrete building, nestled amid trees and bushes of all kinds. Jimin reads the sign, and nods. “Yeah, Hall C, second year male dorms. Oh, there are mailboxes… oh, thank God, they’re labeled by name.”

“That’s not dangerous at all,” Jungkook comments, following Jimin into the foyer.

Jimin finds Hoseok’s name easily - he’s the only Jung, oddly - and up the stairs they go, Jungkook having something to prove and taking two at a time. Jimin pretends not to be impressed, and rolls his eyes as the other holds open the second floor landing door for him. The inside of the building is cozier than the exterior, very much less with the whole intimidation thing. The floors are rich, dark hardwood, or imitation maybe, though Jimin doubts that, considering the scale of the entire place. The walls are painted a pleasant, warm blue, just light enough to offset the harsh fluorescent lights, the darkness outside the windows. Guys, and girls, lounge around in seating areas dispersed through the halls, some seemingly straight from practice, some dressed like they’re about to go out. Jimin, who takes online classes, who spent his high school down time in student council meetings, or in empty classrooms, tutoring his classmates, is completely caught off guard by the way in which so many people interact so familiarly, so easily. He wonders, for a moment, what would happen if he were to just walk over to them, say hello. He wonders if they’d treat him like a friend, too.

He doesn’t get the chance, though, because Jungkook is leading him down what they’re sure is Hoseok’s hallway. “2-1-4, 2-1-6, 2-1-...8, here we go. This is what the mailbox said,” the dragon points to the off white door, giving Jimin a look. “I’ll let you knock, on the off chance that this is either the wrong door, or the wrong Jung Hoseok.”

Mumbling under his breath about Jungkook, the Cowardly Dragon, Jimin steps up, and knocks three times, gently, but firmly. He steels himself, ready to face the inevitable humiliation if Jungkook turns out to be right.

After some bumps from the other side of the wood, the door opens, and Jimin has nothing to be worried about. Hoseok stands there, the same, a little older, but the same, recognition filling his eyes. His face, still long, is a little more mature, a little more sharp, his cheekbones a little prouder. His familiar heart-shaped mouth is the end of Jimin’s observations, however. “Jimin? Jimin!” Hoseok says, before he’s stepping forward, crashing his mouth to Jimin’s in a kiss.

Jimin makes a small, startled sound in the back of his throat, but he kisses back, his hands finding Hoseok’s chest, mostly out of habit. He pulls back after a moment, blinking through the shock, and smiles at his old friend. “Uh… surprise?”

Then the elder spots Jungkook, and his face falls, as he looks back and forth between a stunned Jimin, and a looming Jungkook. “Oh, shit. Is this… your….?”

“Don’t mind me,” Jungkook speaks up, physically struggling not to laugh, “I’m just the escort.”

Jimin rolls his eyes, picking his composure up from the floor, and Hoseok relaxes, a smile back on his face. “Hobi, this is Jungkook,” Jimin finally says, stepping back a step and motioning towards the dragon. “He’s a, uh, friend? Yeah, friend. Stop laughing Jungkook, you’re embarrassing me.”

Jungkook definitely does not stop laughing, as he steadies himself on the other’s shoulder. “Oh, God,” he cackles, gasping, “I’m not the one doing the embarrassment, prince.”

“Prince?” Hoseok asks, turning an amused eye on the younger.

“Don’t ask,” Jimin warns him, after a sigh. Ignoring Jungkook’s hysterics, he looks at his friend. “I uh, thought I’d come for a visit. Sorry I didn’t call, I uh, well. Long story.”

“No worries,” Hoseok shrugs, glancing at Jungkook, who has basically falling to the floor. “Wanna come in? Roommate’s gone home for the weekend.”

Jimin almost leaves Jungkook’s ridiculous ass outside. But he grabs him by the sleeve, and drags him into the room last minute, whispering threats to him; this only makes the dragon laugh harder, exasperating Jimin, leaving Hoseok to give them both a strange look, complete with a raised, concerned eyebrow.

“He okay?” he asks, sitting down at his desk, motioning for Jimin to sit on the bed.

“He’s just hungry,” Jimin sighs, “has an appetite like a fucking dragon.” He sighs again, when his barbed words send Jungkook into a fit of choked giggles. “Just ignore him. How are you, by the way? How’s school?”

Hoseok, it seems, hasn’t changed at all. He’s a little older, free of the shell that forms during adolescence; he’s the same friend that Jimin remembers, and it makes the younger smile. Hoseok had always sort of been the older brother that Jimin didn’t have - the cool one, the rebellious one. The one that snuck out after ten PM, leather pants in his backpack, the keys to his sixteenth birthday present in his hand. Hoseok was the one who sweet-talked his way into clubs, danced on the bar, but still made it for eight AM class assembly the next morning. He was wild in the best of ways, more caring that anyone Jimin had ever met, and had more drive than a steam engine. There had been plenty of times, during Jimin’s junior year of high school, that Hosoek had called in the middle of the night, his car in the driveway, engine turned off - but Jimin, the good, behaved son he is (was), always turned him down; and part of him really regrets it.

He’d been shocked, when Hoseok told him about his plans for college. He’d been a little proud too, a little envious, that someone like Hoseok, so sweet, kind, intelligent, could dare to also be bold, wild, free. It just never made sense that one person could be all of those things. But that’s just Hoseok, the whole package, and still, to this day, Jimin looks up to him. He looks up to him for his courage, first, but Jimin also respects his strength, his kindness. Hoseok knew what he wanted from the age of thirteen, and he took what he had and made it happen. Jimin had never found the guts to - until Jungkook showed up, that is. Something about facing yourself in the face of a supernatural being has that effect, apparently.

“So, how are classes for you?” Hoseok asks Jimin, handing a bottle of water to Jungkook, who has finally managed to calm himself back into his usual state of chill. “And you still work for your dad, right? How’s that going?”

“School and work are fine,” Jimin answers, picking at a loose string on Hoseok’s comforter. “Everything is… fine.”

“He hates it and he wants to go here, instead,” Jungkook suddenly says, plopping himself down next to Jimin. “He wants to be a dancer, too.”

Jimin smacks at his leg, glancing nervously at the other human in the room. “I never said that!”

“True,” the dragon agrees, holding up his hand, “but you didn’t have to say it. It’s really obvious.”

“It is not obvious. Is that why you brought me here? I have a good job and I go to a great school, I don’t need-”

“Jimin,” Jungkook says softly, cutting the other off. “You aren’t happy in that life. And yeah, I did bring you here so that maybe you could see what else is out there.” The dragon turns to Hoseok - who has been watching their exchange with an expression somewhere between amusement and disbelief - “He told me you chose your own life, despite what everyone else said. Tell him he can do that too. Tell him he can be free, too.”

“Jungkook…,” Jimin groans, dropping his face into his hands. He’s going to kill him, slay him, he really is; just as soon as he’s done being embarrassed.

Thankfully, Hoseok comes to Jimin’s rescue. Sort of. “I did that, yeah,” the elder says, crossing his arms, his head tilted back as he stares at the ceiling, “but, I can’t really recommend it.”

“Excuse me,” Jungkook deadpans, turning a dark eye on the other. “But you-”

“Telling him that this is the life he should choose would be just as bad as his parents never giving him the choice,” Hoseok continues. Jimin peeks out from behind his hands (mostly to see if Jungkook looks as shocked as he feels), curious, and the elder gives him a smile. “I can say, though, that it’s incredible here. You remember how I was, I lived for dancing, but I’ve learned so much in just the year and a half I’ve been here. The classes are amazing, but a little strict, sometimes, depending on your focus. The freedom you find in your work, though, makes it worth it.” Hoseok turns, flipping through the student callendar pinned above his desk. “You have to audition, obviously, or get in on scholarship, though with your name, I bet the admissions office will drag you in for an interview regardless. Ah, okay, here, the next audition period is January fifteenth, through the twenty-seventh.”

“So soon…,” Jimin mutters.

Jungkook snorts. “It’s months away.”

“I can help you,” Hoseok offers, turning back to face them, “if it’s something you want. But, like I said, I think you could probably apply without declaring a focus, just your name could get you in. There isn’t just dance, you know, there’s a ton of art majors, here, language and culture, music. The only business classes here are for those hoping to open studios or galleries, Not a lawyer in sight.” The elder laughs at his own humor, and shrugs.

“No,” Jimin cuts in, surprising both of the others, “if I… if I want to go here, I want to do it right, with an audition.”

“If you want to go here?” Jungkook echos, nudging Jimin’s thigh with his own. The other shoots him a look, and the dragon backs down, holding his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay, I’ll drop it. I’m just hangry, remember?”

Hoseok lanches to his feet, grabbing the zip-up hoodie on the back of his desk chair. “Shit, yeah, c’mon,” he says, smiling at the others, “dining hall closes in an hour. Let’s go eat, my treat.”

“You don’t have to-”

“Thanks!”

 

The walk to the dining hall is a short one, only a couple blocks or so, close to the dorms. But it still gives Jimin ample time to think; maybe he’s also on the verge of hangry, or maybe he’s just scared, but Jungkook throwing him under the bus like he did irks him. But… there’s still the little voice in the back of Jimin’s head, telling him that Jungkook is right, that Jimin has been looking for a way out of his life, his future, for a while. Maybe not on purpose, not consciously, but now that he thinks about it, he’s always felt his wings, folded low and close to his body, twitching with the rebellious urge to fly. From dancing with Hoseok in the gym on break, to the parties, to him discovering, that while girls were pretty awesome, guys were just as great, maybe Jimin had been subtly finding ways to inadvertently defy his parents. Even recently, he’s been acting out, though he never does so outwardly. He’ll miss dinner, claiming he’s working or studying, just so he can go to the movies alone, just to get away for that hour and a half. He’ll stay late at work, claiming he’s finishing up a project or helping someone with a presentation, when all he’s really doing is helping one of the interns out of his clothes and onto his knees.

Now that he thinks about it, really thinks about it, it seems as if Jimin has been lying to himself more than anything - he’s always thought of himself as a good son, and while that in itself is generally true, it’s all a front, just an illusion. He’s not a bad son, not a bad person, but he wants… something more than what he has, even though it seems he has everything. Jimin wants the one thing his parents held from him, and that was a choice, the choice. But thinking of everything his parents have given him, the education, the love, their trust - it makes Jimin feel guilty for wanting more, even for being here , now, with Jungkook, with ‘that wild Jung boy’. He can’t bring himself to say, with certainty, that this , this school, this life, is what he wants, because it would hurt his parents, and that’s something Jimin could never do.

Even while he’s tortured with these thoughts, Jimin has one eye on the others, biting back a laugh, while Hoseok asks Jungkook questions in an attempt to get to know the other. The dragon (though Hoseok doesn’t know this) evades the questions with ease; apparently, he attends some school in Busan, here with his family on some trip, and does something somewhere, somehow. Hosoek isn’t fooled for a moment, which is obvious, but since Jungkook appears to be Jimin’s friend, he seems to let it go. Jimin is still swallowing down both anxiety and laughter when they enter the massive dining hall.

A group of guys sitting at a table near the back immediately call out to Hoseok, waving him over and yelling. “Hobi!” one of them, younger, Jimin thinks, than Hoseok, stands in his chair, waving his arms about. “You’re late, asshole!”

“I had some surprise visitors,” Hoseok calls back, motioning to Jimin and Jungkook. “Behave, or I’m sticking you in the back from now on!”

The other boys laugh, dragging the one standing back to his seat, but another stands, nudging the one next to him. “Who’re your friends, then? Does the one in leather need a tour of the campus? I’d be more than happy to show him all the dark, secluded spots.”

Hoseok is busy rolling his eyes and chastising his friend, but it’s obvious, even to him, how Jungkook steps just a little closer to Jimin. He doesn’t touch him, but Jimin can feel the tiny sparks of protective energy bouncing from the dragon’s skin, and he’s grateful. He knows Hoseok’s friends are just being idiots, but he doesn’t really feel up to fending them off, not right now. Food first, at least, then he’d think about it.

“I’ll see you guys at practice later,” Hoseok tells the others, then guides Jimin, Jungkook following, in the direction of food. “They’re harmless,” he comments, raising an eye to Jungkook, “dumb and horny, but they’re good guys.”

“They have good taste,” Jungkook muses, giggling when Jimin gapes at him.

“That’s true,” Hoseok agrees.

“Guys, I’m right the fuck here.”

“In all of your glory, prince,” Jungkook teases, passing Jimin a food tray. “Now eat up, you don’t want to disrespect your friend’s generosity.”

“You’re going to regret this,” Jimin warns Hoseok, “he eats about ten times as much as you and I put together.”

Getting his own food, Jimin watches as Hoseok’s face morphs from skeptic to downright shock, then to horror, as Jungkook fills up two trays with about everything out on the counters. Then, the elder just looks sad, as he swipes his student card at the register, avoiding the worker’s eyes; Jimin pays for himself with cash, earning a grateful smile from the elder.

“So you have practice later? Dance practice?” Jungkook asks as they sit at a newly vacant table, people leaving this late into dinner hour.

“Yeah, me and those guys dance as a group. Our midterm evaluation is Monday, and half of us have work tomorrow, so we’re trying to squeeze in one more practice before then.” Hoseok explains, digging into his meal. His eyes flit back and forth, between Jungkook, who has managed to clear two plates in under sixty seconds, to Jimin, who has only managed to drizzle soy sauce over his dumplings. Jimin doesn’t blame Hoseok for the wary look on his face; Jungkook’s appetite still frightens him, too.

“You don’t dance solo?” Jimin asks, partly to fill the silence, partly because he’s curious. He remembers having fun, dancing with Hoseok back in the day, but he can’t imagine dancing with others. It must be hard, to give out parts, directions, keep everyone in sync. Jimin would rather dance alone, that way he can only embarrass himself.

Hoseok is talking though, tugging Jimin from his dark thoughts. “I do, yeah, usually outside of class, for fun. I like the group dynamic, though, you know? We compete sometimes, too, and let me tell you, winning a gold trophy is a hell of a lot more satisfying than a passing grade, that’s for sure.”

Jimin hums, glancing at Jungkook, hoping the hungry dragon will jump into the conversation - Jimin doesn’t feel to comfortable being the sole instigator of the conversation, not this one, at least - but the other is too busy eating, seemingly in his own world. So much for that.

“Jiminie? Did you hear me?”

“Huh? What? Sorry, Hoseok,” Jimin mutters, turning back to the elder. “What did you say?”

Hoseok smiles, sipping his Coke, his eyes darting to Jungkook for a moment, before they return to Jimin, a sparkle in them that the younger immediately dislikes. “I said you two should come see us practice. You could even join in,” he suggests. His face is full of open expectation, almost like he dares Jimin to say no, but also like he’s really hoping he doesn’t. But Jimin freezes, glancing down at his food. His first instinct is a big NO, but he can’t bring himself to say it. If he says it, he hurts Hoseok’s feelings, he hurts his own. But if he says yes, he risks falling deeper into this fantasy, and he knows that’ll hurt even worse, eventually.

Jimin automatically looks towards Jungkook, who meets his gaze, and he finds he’s searching for guidance he didn’t even know he needed. The other swallows his mouthful of food, and smirks, nodding at Hoseok. “Yeah, thanks, I think we’d like that.”

Well, shit, Jimin thinks to himself, his mind’s tone sarcastic. Now he has to go. Bummer.

 

The three of them end up on the second floor of another, massive building, the halls lined up and down with practice rooms, some occupied, some empty. All kinds of music can be heard in the hallways, from jazz and hip hop, to classical and electronica, all of it morphing into some strange, cacophonic, trance-like beat out in the carpet-lined halls. Jimin feels like his head might spin off and roll away, but Jungkook is there, his fingers barely brushing the sleeve of Jimin’s jacket, and it works to ground him.

Completely opposite to the noise outside, the room that Hoseok leads them to is muted, save for the voices of the other six guys. The floors are pale laminate, the walls off-white, one of them entirely made up of mirrors, and there’s a sound system in the back, where everyone’s bags are piled, next to a water bottle that bubbles when one of the boys fill up their cup. Jimin isn’t sure how he feels about the entire set up, but he doesn’t feel too uncomfortable, at least. It’s manageable, for now.

As soon as they walk in the door, though, it’s introduction after introduction. Jimin can’t remember everyone’s name, he couldn’t hope to, not when there’s surnames, first names, nicknames… but he smiles and shakes everyone’s hands. He remembers them differently, instead; there’s the one with his hair dyed blond, the one with the gold hoop in his ear, who seems very, very close with the one in the white shorts. There’s the tall one, the one with the tattoo on his wrist, and finally, the one wearing eyeliner.

It’s a pretty eclectic bunch, Jimin has to admit, but he likes them, he thinks. They all seem pretty close, and Jimin wonders, for the hundredth time since he stepped foot on campus, what that must feel like, to have a makeshift family that is chosen. Aside from Hoseok, even though they’d never been extremely close, Jimin has only ever had Taehyung, and while he loves his friend to bits, he can’t help but long for a bigger family, more love and all that. He’d never feel lonely, that’s for sure. But Jimin has gotten used to the loneliness, so he guesses he can’t be missing what he’s never had.

“You okay?” Jungkook is suddenly at his side, his lips close to Jimin’s ear. He almost jumps, surprised, but he manages a smile and a nod. The other doesn’t seem convinced. “Just let me know when you’re ready to go. I’ll make up something about… I dunno, I’ll tell them I turn into a dragon after midnight, and I’ll get us out of here.”

Jimin smiles, this time genuinely. “Thanks, but, I’m okay for now. Just... “

“You’re thinking too much, prince,” Jungkook finishes for him, his dark eyes full of something Jimin can’t name. “Don’t think right now, okay? Remember, we’re here to be wild and rebellious. Find that again, don’t think about the what ifs and the future. Live in the moment. Enjoy the present.”

“I’ll try,” Jimin tells him, just as Hoseok is calling everyone to order, motioning Jimin and Jungkook to the back wall. They’re out of the way quickly, settling against the floor, ready to watch. Jimin feels… he doesn’t know what he feels, really. Anticipation, curiosity, interested.

It isn’t until Hoseok hits play on the little remote in his hand, and the heavy, bass-loaded song begins to play, that Jimin starts to realize what he’s feeling. With Hoseok leading, unsurprisingly, the group runs through the choreo once, all of them snapping into action faster than Jimin ever imagined possible. It’s entrancing, how in sync they are, how they move through the steps like one massive, multi-faceted being, each individual a perfectly formed appendage. After the first round, Hoseok breaks off, point out errors, repeating steps over and over as the others adjust their moves. Jimin had seen nothing wrong with the dance, but of course, he doesn’t know much. They’re good, he thinks. Really good.

But then there’s Hoseok.

Hoseok is like the personification of dance, all controlled, precise movements, sensual and sharp. Yet, somehow, the elder manages to look like he’s enjoying himself, as well, if the smile on his face is any indication. He’s lively, he’s exciting, he’s inspirational. Jimin suddenly pinpoints what he’s feeling -

It’s longing.

He can feel it stirring inside of him, in his gut, his twitching muscles. He wants to try, maybe, if he can. Watching Hoseok dance, watching the others dance, he memorizes the steps, as they do them over and over, itching to stand in front of the mirror himself and try them out. Jimin is suddenly buzzing with restless energy, tinged with doubt, but he ignores this. Jungkook was right, Jimin needs to stop thinking so much. He only needs to feel, right now.

He can tell Jungkook is aware of his thoughts, and although he still isn’t sure if the dragon can actually read his mind or not, he appreciates the other’s gentle hand on his knee. It keeps him from lunging forward, interrupting the perfection happening in front of him. But even it isn’t enough, and after awhile, Jimin slips his hand into Jungkook’s, and squeezes.

After the song loops for what has to be the two-dozenth time, Hoseok calls for a break, he himself gleaming with sweat, his damp hair sticking to his forehead. He’s wiping his face with a towel, as he squats down in front of Jimin. His eyes still on his hand, still in Jungkook’s, but he smiles, looking up. “So? What’d you think?”

Jimin is speechless, at first - how to even describe art - but Jungkook steps in. “I think it was awesome,” he says, grinning. “But I also think I have to pee. Can you point me to the bathroom?”

“Down the way we came, end of the hall on the left,” Hoseok replies. Then it’s just Jimin alone with the elder, as Jungkook leaves, stretching as he slips out of the door. “Well?” Hoseok prompts, smacking Jimin lightly on the knee. “Wanna try?”

Jimin is torn between yelling YES, saying no, and running from the building. He’s frozen, under Hoseok’s kind, knowing gaze, butterflies erupting in his stomach like a firestorm. Of course he wants to try, but does he dare?

“Hey, we’re done right?” the boy with the tattoo asks, panting and scratching at the back of his head. “I promised my girl we’d go out tonight, and it’s getting late.”

Two of the other boys made rude sounds, but they’re quickly chastised by Hoseok. “Yeah, I think we’re done, we’re going to fucking kill it Monday,” he says, standing. “But remember, I want us all in this room at seven AM first thing Monday morning, one more run through.” Hoseok smiles, then. “Everyone with girlfriends and dates can go, but remember to go shower first,” he adds. The others all shout out laughter, grabbing bags and towels and water bottles. Most of them say goodbye to Jimin, some just wave, but after a few moments, Jimin is well and truly alone with the elder. Jungkook still hasn’t come back from the bathroom, and Jimin wonders, with an internal giggle, if the dragon got lost.

“.... Hobi?” Jimin finds himself saying, looking up at the other. Hoseok turns to him, eyebrows raised, a half smile on his face. Jimin takes a deep breath, and tries to smile. “I wanna try.”

Hoseok has him on his feet and in front of the mirror in three seconds.

It’s awkward, to say the least, awkward and uncoordinated, clumsy. Even though the steps were stuck in Jimin’s head, he couldn’t seem to get his body to follow them, not at first, not like he thought it would. He has none of the control that Hoseok does, none of the finesse, but there’s something about moving his body like he is, the rolling torso move, the criss-crossed steps, the spin, that makes Jimin feel like something inside of him is shaking loose, breaking from some sort of cage. It’s subtle, no fireworks, no epiphanies; but he doesn’t quite need them.

He learns the steps, faster than he thought he would, though ‘learn’ is used lightly here. But he manages, somewhere between memory and determination, and as long as Hoseok goes slow, Jimin can follow. He watches the elder in the mirror, tries to emulate the moves, while Hoseok calls time - two, three, four, bam, bam, bam - and before he knows it, Jimin is keeping up, and has to shed his jacket as he starts to sweat.

“I wonder where Jungkook went,” Hoseok mutters, looking towards the door, “not that I mind being alone with you, but….”

Jimin shrugs, counting the steps in his head, rolling his shoulders. “He’s probably just outside,” he tells the elder, “he’s not too good on being stuck indoors.”

“Yeah, I figured that,” Hoseok moves away, watching Jimin go through the moves, his head cocked to the side. “So… what’s the deal with him anyway?”

“What do you mean?”

The elder frowns, biting his cheek. “I know it’s none of my business, but, well, we’re friends, right? Are you… are you seeing him?”

Jimin’s left foot almost twists completely off as he nearly trips. “W-why would you ask that?” He knows he’s blushing, probably. He also knows that Hoseok’s only trying to look out for him, he always had; but this fact doesn’t stop Jimin from suddenly overthinking every interaction he’d had with his supernatural companion thus far.

“I mean, you were holding hands,” Hoseok laughs, “and I dunno, he just seems really… possessive? He’s been cool, but something about him freaks me out, to be honest.”

“Well, he certainly is freaky,” Jimin comments, but when Hoseok continues looking at him, waiting for more, the younger sighs. He’s not sure how much he can say, not without making his friend’s suspicions worse. “I don’t know much about him,” he admits, biting his lip, “but he’s… he’s helping me with this, well, it’s silly to say it out loud, but he’s helping me with this thing. I suddenly got really angry, at my parents, and realized how dissatisfied I was with my life, with the choices they made for me. I’m still not sure....,” Jimin pauses, his chest tightening, but he fights through it, “I’m still not sure if there’s anything I can do to change it, but for this weekend, at least, I’m making my own decisions.”

Hoseok nods - he understands, more than anyone - and offers the other a small smile. “And he’s one of those choices?”

“I’m not sure, yet. But he’s not a bad guy, Hoseok, you don’t have to worry. He’s just a little… unorthodox.”

“He’s not a vampire, is he?” Hoseok laughs at himself, but his face falls a little, when Jimin doesn’t respond. “Uh-”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Jimin says, then he steps forward, pointing towards the mirror. “I wanna try again, with music this time.”

The other doesn’t move, though, his eyes storming, thoughts flickering across his expressional face faster than Jimin can read them. Jimin is more than aware that he’s said too much, but he knows Hoseok, or at least, he used to; he just stares at the elder, waiting, his body humming with the need to continue what he’s learned. He starts to worry, almost, that Hoseok may actually lock him in the room, just to keep him away from Jungkook, but then the elder sighs, nodding.

“Okay, but,” he starts, turning away, meeting Jimin’s eyes through the mirror, “promise you’ll tell me all of it, one day, okay?”

“Yeah, “ Jimin agrees, “sure.”

With that behind him, Jimin finds himself equal parts frustrated and exhilarated. Keeping time with the song is hard, more than hard, and he stumbles once, twice, three times. Hoseok restarts the song as many times as Jimin fails, without comment, patience etched into his being, which the younger is infinitely grateful for. It’s different, the dancing without music, compared to dancing with music, obviously, but something starts to hum, inside of Jimin, somewhere near his diaphragm; it starts out warm, gentle, as he keeps in time with Hoseok, a small smile on the elder’s face. But then it grows hotter, darker, deeper, until his entire body is thrumming with the primal force of it - he’s completely gotten the chorus part of the choreo, some moves that require him to squat low to the ground, some popping courtesy of Hoseok’s own style, a body roll, and then a sharp twist - and Jimin, with a small, breathy start, realizes he’s never felt so alive. The only time he’s ever felt remotely this exhilarated was this morning, flying through the backstreets with his hand in Jungkook’s, the world blurring by as his legs burned with exertion.

When Jimin motions towards the elder, he clicks off the music, his mouth already open and full of praises for the other. But they both hear soft clapping, and Jimin turns to the door.

“Hey, you got it!” Jungkook says, standing just inside the room, his back to the door. He’s got coffee in his hands, one of those little to-go trays, three white to-go cups settled in the slots. “I brought coffee, I figured you’d wanna do this all night.”

“Hey,” Jimin greets, still fighting the buzz in his bones - he has no idea how he’s going to get rid of that - wringing his hands. “I wondered where you went.”

“I got lost, actually. Some girl told me that there was a cafe on the corner, but turns out, she was wrong. So I just went off looking on my own, and before I knew it, I ended up back by the subway next to a store,” Jungkook rolls his eyes, bringing his purchases over, “I hope the coffee doesn’t suck.”

Hoseok steps forward to take his, dabbing at face. “Was it the little white, brick building? Leprechauns or something in the window?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“Coffee there is great, but the hot chocolate they sell taste like butt.”

Jimin finds himself laughing at the expression on Jungkook’s face, but before he can comment, the dragon is speaking again. “So hey, I heard some people talking about some club downtown? You ever go?”

“You mean Sparky’s?” Hoseok asks. Jungkook shrugs. “I think Sparky’s is the only place downtown, everything else is on the river. But yeah, I’ve been there,” the elder takes a sip of his coffee, smiling. “It’s my favorite place to go, big on the dancing, my kind of scene. Actually,” Hoseok turns to Jimin, who’s only trying to innocently take a drink of his own hot coffee, “you should go.”

“I should go? Why should I go? I hate clubs, you know this-”

“Jimin, have you ever been to a club?”

The younger frowns, fighting the urge to pout. “Well… no, but, there’s people, and they’re loud and drunk and-”

“Sparky’s doesn’t serve alcohol.”

Jungkook is the one pouting now. “What kind of club doesn’t serve alcohol?”

Hoseok laughs at him, tossing his arm around Jimin’s shoulders. “The kind where people go to get drunk on the music. But I still think you should go,” he turns to Jimin, his eyes bright, full of determined pleading. “You have talent, Jimin, I’ve always told you this. And I love that I get to dance with you, but I can’t go all night. You should go, you should dance. No choreo, just go and feel the music. You’ll have fun.”

“You have one dance practice and you’re suddenly tired? Wow, you’re getting old,” Jimin teases, his brain and his heart currently throwing down on whether or not he should go. He should go, right?

Hoseok shoves him away playfully, his laugh ringing through the room. “Brat,” he says, smiling, “I’ll have you know, earlier was my third practice of the day, plus I had a math final this afternoon. And I work tomorrow. I gotta sleep at some point, you know.”

“Yeah, yeah, old man,” Jimin continues to tease, but on the inside, he’s screaming. Three practices a day, who the hell does that? Hoseok of course, dancer down to his soul, but goddamn, this school must be intense. Jimin thinks about his own life, his own daily routine. He gets up early, grabs a muffin and coffee from the kitchen, then he’s on the way to work with his dad. He works from eight in the morning, to five in the evening, sometimes later. Then it’s home, dinner, school work, and sleep.

That’s it. That’s Jimin’s life.

“So,” Jungkook asks casually, startling Jimin out of dangerous thoughts, “what’s the verdict? Wanna go check it out? I vote ice cream, though, if it turns out to be a fail.”

Jimin looks at the other, not seeing him at first, his eyes unfocused as he sorts through the thoughts in his head. He thinks he wants to go to Sparky’s see what it’s like to lose yourself in the crowd, dance, forget everything for a bit. But he’s scared, afraid of losing himself, afraid of falling down that rabbithole and not being able to climb his way out. Jimin starts to shake, a little, the coffee in his hand sloshing in the cup, anxious thoughts already rushing in, taking over everything. But then his eyes find Jungkook’s, and the other’s expression is so kind, so open - it’s shocking, at first, a big change from the aloof, badboy dragon that had walked through his balcony doors - and Jimin takes a deep breath.

“Yeah,” he finally says, with a smile that doesn’t feel forced, “I wanna go.”

 

Saying goodbye to Hoseok is a little harder than Jimin thought it would be, but he tells himself it may not be that permanent of a goodbye. Jungkook stands down the street a bit, under a lamp post (one of those fake as hell gas-lantern ones), while Jimin says goodbye to the elder in front of his dorm. Jungkook’s goodbye had been a whispered, rushed affair, and Jimin swore he’d ask the other what he and Hoseok were whispering about later, but now, Hoseok is tugging him into a hug, his cheek warm where it’s squished against his.

“Thanks for coming to see me,” he mutters, his lips close to Jimin’s ear. “And thank you for dancing with me, again. I didn’t think that would ever happen.”

When they pull away, Jimin knows he’s flushed, though he can’t say why. “Thank you for still wanting me to,” he says, smiling, “I… it gave me a lot to think about.”

Hoseok nods, he understands, and cups Jimin’s cheeks, something flashing in his eyes. “I know, Jimin. If you wanna talk about it, just call me, okay?” Jimin nods, and Hoseok glances towards Jungkook, who’s just standing there, looking up at the nearly-full moon. “Do you think he’ll rip off my head if I kiss you goodbye?”

Giggling, Jimin shakes his head, and kisses the elder. It’s a goodbye all on it’s own, and with one last hug, he’s walking away, hurrying through the cold.

“He’s gotta stop doing that,” Jungkook comments, when Jimin slips his arm through the other’s as they start walking, in an attempt to siphon off some of his warmth. “You’re giving out kisses left and right, yet you’re holding one over my head this entire weekend. It’s cruel to watch.”

The dragon’s feigned jealousy eases some of the nerves building in Jimin’s chest, and he laughs. Before he can overthink it, he rises on his toes, and plants a loud, solid kiss to the other’s cheek. “There,” he says, “to hold you over.”

Rolling his eyes and scowling, Jungkook blushes, but he slips his arms around Jimin anyway, as the other shivers. “Yeah, yeah. C’mon, Hoseok said there’d be a line, but I bet I can get us past it.”

“You gonna dragon-mojo us through admission? Or flirt with the bouncer?”

“You’ll see,” Jungkook tells him, as they turn the corner.

The walk downtown takes them about twenty minutes, and by the time the large building is in sight, the walk has Jimin warm enough that he doesn’t need Jungkook’s arm, but neither of them think to separate. It’s funny, the things that can become normal and comfortable in a matter of hours.

“Okay,” Jungkook says, his hand sliding from Jimin’s shoulder, down his back, to his hand. Hoseok was right; there’s already a line, at eleven at night, and the throng of bodies span the side of the building, turning the corner and disappearing. But, as Jimin finds out, Jungkook has a plan. “When we step off the sidewalk, take a deep breath, and hold it. They won’t see you, unless you breathe. Hold it until we get past the door, got it, prince?”

Jimin nods, squeezing the other’s hand. “Deep breath, hold it until we’re inside. Got it.”

Jungkook glances at him with a smile, but before Jimin can return it, they’re stepping off the curb, onto the crosswalk, and he’s too busy filling his lungs with air. Something hot and fluttery brushes against his spine, fills his limbs like helium, and he almost gasps at the feeling - but Jungkook’s hand is tight on his, hot where his palms is pressed against Jimin’s, and all he can do is focus on not breathing (for once in his life, ironically.) Jungkook walks fast, bless him, and it seems like the only person, other that Jimin, who can see the dragon is the bouncer, a tall, middle-aged man at the door. The closer they get, the more dazzled the man seems to be nby Jungkook’s appearance, and as they reach the other sidewalk, approaching the front of the line, the man stands, nods, and allows Jungkook to pass.

It’s suddenly very clear to Jimin, that his companion is probably dangerous; but he feels no fear, hasn’t at all, so he blames the sudden moot realisation to his lack of air.

“Okay,” Jungkook tells him, tugging him through the foyer, to a wide set of double doors, open to the rest of the club. “Take a breath, we’re good now. Great job, by the way.”

But the thing is, Jimin can’t breathe - he’s too focused on the sound pouring from the doors, as they enter the dim room, lit by coalescing, colorful lights. The sheer amount of people is enough to make Jimin want to turn and run, but, thankfully, it seems as if the bouncer outside is being super selective about who gets in, because despite the numbers, there’s still room to walk. Jungkook wastes no time in finding a corner, a secluded sliver of space behind a gold-painted column. He backs Jimin into it, one hand still in Jimin’s tight grasp, one hand smoothing down his hair on the back of his head.

“Talk to me,” he says, “breathe and talk to me.”

“I’m okay,” Jimin tells him, repeating the words when he realizes he has to shout to be heard. He closes his eyes, takes a few deep breaths, and opens them to see Jungkook’s face, close enough that Jimin can see a small scar on his left cheek, something he hasn’t noticed yet. He stares at it, feeling the initial shock wear off, feeling his heartbeat regulate. Before he realizes it, his foot is tapping to the beat, his head tilting along; Jimin freezes, suddenly, as he finds himself okay, completely, utterly okay. He’s fine.

He’s actually fine.

He tells this to Jungkook, sounding entirely too excited, who smiles, brushing his hair from his forehead. The dragon leans in so he can be heard. “It might be the magick I used to cloak you,” he whisper-shouts, “I didn’t mean to screw with your head, though.”

“If it makes it where I can actually think straight and enjoy myself, don’t worry about it,” Jimin whisper-shouts back, fighting the ever-growing need to kiss the dragon; not yet, he tells himself. Not yet.

With another smile, Jungkook looks around, taking in the dark, gold and bronze decor, the pink and blue lights arcing overhead. “It’s a nice place,” he admits, glancing back at Jimin. “Wanna get a soda, or something, before we start the congo line?”

Jimin laughs and nods, allowing Jungkook to lead him over to the alcohol-free bar. He feels light, he feels… free. He swears, to himself, as Jungkook flags down a pretty girl in a black t-shirt that reads “soda-bartender”, that he’s going to enjoy himself tonight, here, in a place he’d never imagined himself. He’s going to enjoy himself - tomorrow, next week, next year be damned, no matter the consequences - and he’s never, no matter what happens, going to forget tonight.

As Jungkook takes a sip of the brimming cup, then passes it to Jimin, Jimin briefly wonders what the chances are that he can get Jungkook to dance with him.

He decides to try.