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Yoongi’s response upon answering his phone was to growl, “Call back later you asshole, I’m sleeping-”

“Yoongi! I have news!”

Ugh.”

Hoseok’s screechy Morning Voice was just too much for the hours of the day that came before 10 AM. Especially when Yoongi had been celebrating Friday Eve (a wonderful and dangerous invention that allowed him to let loose on Thursday nights with minimal guilt) merely five hours ago.

He'd been with some people he didn’t exactly consider friends of his but were of a high enough caliber to party with. Realistically, he had maybe two, or maybe three friends, tops, and they were catalogued in a personal ranking system that was strictly confidential. Details were never disclosed for the emotional safety of those concerned - he was a dick, but he was a dick in private and didn’t go through life intentionally trying to hurt others. He prided himself on keeping things contained in their appropriate compartments.

Hoseok occupied a compartment all to himself, the bastard. But he put up with a lot of shit from Yoongi, so he deserved it. Hoseok was a Good Person no matter how you sliced it, which was why he was always screeching like a banshee and making a fool of himself and making Yoongi feel like life was worth living. You always needed someone like that in your periphery. A Good Person was required to keep the Mediocre Person like himself afloat.

Likewise, the Hoseoks of the world needed the Min Yoongi’s - even ones with bad hangovers and eye crusties and foul tempers - to shake them violently to their senses when they were being fucking idiots.

Case in point: “Jimin got the solo.”

That jolted Yoongi out of his coma-adjacent state. He snapped, still half-asleep, “Park Jimin? The newbie? The one you’ve been babying?”

He’d joined the dance crew Hoseok belonged to a few months ago and Hoseok couldn’t stop talking about him. It was Jimin this, Jimin that, Jimin was so cute, Jimin was so talented, Jimin danced so well and he was so nice- Yoongi had to control the impulse to roll his eyes the minute his name came out of Hoseok’s mouth. So, yeah, maybe Yoongi was already predisposed towards disliking Park Jimin but this really took the cake.

“Am I still sleeping?” Yoongi growled. “This is a fucking dream, right? You’ve been with this dance crew for how long? Six years? You’re basically the goddamned founder!”

“Well, technically-”

“You’re the only one left of the original group!”

“There’s three of us still, actually.”

“Isn’t this, like, a big competition? With a cash prize?”

“Some money, not a lot,” Hoseok replied. “It’s nationally broadcast, that’s what’s really important - we get exposure if we make it past prelims.”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Yoongi asked, incredulous. “You’re seriously gonna just give up this opportunity?”

“Stop yelling,” Hoseok whined. His voice sounded tinny. “I’m coming over, give me five,” and hung up.

Yoongi glared at his cell phone before tossing it onto the carpeted floor next to his bed. He glared at the ceiling next, roused by indignance and disbelief. Hoseok was such... such a wimp sometimes, Yoongi couldn’t wrap his head around it.

Five minutes passed. Hoseok let himself into Yoongi’s apartment with his spare key and poked his head into the bedroom. “I brought coffee!”

He smiled brightly, holding out the offering as if trying to gain forgiveness, as if he’d done something he had to apologize for. That part of him really pissed Yoongi off.

Hoseok had a tendency to hold back, be a team player, do what was best for the greater good. He sacrificed a lot to keep the peace. It was all well and good, except he never tried to stand out as being the best, let others go before him without a complaint. He deserved this solo, a million times over, but he was letting this kid have it instead because he was fucking Jung Hoseok.

“It’s a contemporary dance interlude, Yoongi. One of the judges is way into that stuff, so we’re catering to that.” Hoseok shrugged. “I’m a hip-hop dancer.”

“So?”

“So, it’s not my specialty.”

“But you could do it. You’re a fucking amazing dancer. You can do anything with those rubber legs.”

Hoseok grinned sheepishly at him - he was always bad at taking compliments - and shook his head. “I could, but it’s not my strength. Jimin’s been doing contemporary dance for years and he was the top student at his arts academy-”

“Bullshit,” Yoongi spat. “That’s what this is. Pure fucking bullshit. Stop trying to put a good front on it. You’re upset, aren’t you? He stole your solo from right under your nose!”

“I can’t say I’m not bummed,” Hoseok admitted. “But it’s for the best.”

“Bullshit!”

Hoseok winced. “Come on, Yoongi. It’s not a big deal.”

“It is a big deal,” Yoongi snapped, genuinely worked up now. He sipped the coffee and cursed - it was scalding hot. Hoseok winced again, started to say something, but Yoongi wouldn’t let him speak.

“Who decided this?” he demanded.

“We voted,” Hoseok replied, shrugging again. “Jimin got the solo fair and square.”

“Who did you vote for?” Yoongi pressed.

The way his friend avoided his eyes told him everything he needed to know. Hoseok was determined to be a pushover.

“I can’t fucking believe this. You went and fucking voted for him, didn’t you?”

“Yoongi,” said Hoseok helplessly. “Calm down, will you?”

Like hell he would.

-----

Yoongi had only seen Park Jimin once before. They technically had never met. He'd come to the dance crew’s practice room to meet Hoseok and had spotted a new face he didn't recognize. 

His first impression was: bendy.

His second thought was: this must be the infamous Park Jimin, and scowled to himself.

“Yoongi!”

Hoseok had looked up from fondling Park Jimin’s waist (later he insisted it was just post-dance stretching and that proper dancers always helped each other out) to grin widely at Yoongi, who stood peering through a gap in the open door. He gestured for Yoongi to come in, but Yoongi simply ducked his head and muttered, “I’ll wait downstairs.”

Yoongi assumed the same position now, standing several feet away from the practice room door with his feet planted like angry roots against the linoleum floor, blocking the path of whoever chose to come this way. He felt sure he was radiating an aura of impenetrable rage and was glad he’d always been good at intimidating people.

The door opened and Park Jimin emerged, sweaty and exhausted from his session. He had a red beanie on his head and the sleeveless t-shirt he wore was soaked through with perspiration. He had that look on his face, like he was concentrating but at the same time a thousand miles away, running through routines in his head. Yoongi recognized that look: Hoseok always looked like that after he finished practice.

Park Jimin looked up, gaze falling on Yoongi’s form. It took a few seconds of dreamy staring before his eyes focused. Recognition sparked.

“Hey,” he said, a touch breathless. “Min Yoongi, right? You’re Hobi’s friend-?”

“You free?” Yoongi asked roughly. “Could we talk?”

Surprise flickered in Park Jimin’s eyes, but he smiled nervously and nodded. “Sure. Yeah. Um. Could you give me like an hour, to go home and shower and change? We could meet-”

“No need. It won’t take long. I have something to say to you.”

“Oh.” Jimin blinked. “Okay.”

-----

He figured his intervention would work, but not nearly as fast as it did. About an hour later, while Yoongi was working on a particularly angry rap interlude, the door to his apartment burst open.

Hoseok stormed in, looking more than ever like an impatient, angry horse (albeit a very flexible one).

What did you do to Jimin?”

“Nothing,” said Yoongi, immediately on the defensive.

“I can’t believe you interfered!”

He gave up pretending. “I had to.”

“You’re not even a part of the crew! You don’t have a say in this!”

“You deserve that solo,” Yoongi said stubbornly.

“That’s not your decision!”

“I’m just helping you because you’re being a complete idiot!”

All the light drained out of Hoseok’s usually very sunny face. Yoongi felt a knot form in his stomach, but steeled himself against it.

Calmly, reasonably, he pointed out, “You said yourself that you were disappointed. You didn’t want to give up the solo to someone else.”

“I was confiding in you,” Hoseok replied tersely. “I just wanted you to listen, I wasn’t asking you to charge in like a goddamned white knight! I don’t need that, Yoongi. I know you think I’m a pushover and a sap, but I’m not helpless. I can take care of myself.”

“I don’t-”

“I can’t believe this.” Hoseok shook his head. “Yoongi, he quit.”

That was a blow. He hadn’t expected that.

“What?”

“Jimin quit. He called me and said he was quitting.”

Yoongi’s mouth went dry. “The competition?”

Hoseok didn’t answer. Silence fell as they stared at one another. Yoongi honestly didn’t know what to say.

“Jimin is a good kid,” Hoseok said finally, in a low voice. “And a good dancer. You shouldn’t have done that.”

He looked at Yoongi with disappointment, which was just about the worst possible way he could ever look at Yoongi.

Shit.

-----

Friend #2 was available, so he went there. Jin was usually good for boosting morale. He was revoltingly good looking but not a piece of shit about it like some guys were. Plus he was awkward, and that always made Yoongi feel better.

Jin listened while he made instant ramyun, 'making ramyun’ being a very loose term for whatever mad experimental cooking Jin was doing at the stove. He inserted 'hmm’s and 'ah’s whenever Yoongi paused for confirmation that he was paying attention.

“So now Hoseok’s angry at me and Park Jimin is apparently dropping out, and I’m being blamed for singlehandedly destroying their dance community.”

“Yikes.”

Yoongi asked, “Have I been a douche?”

Jin didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”

“Why didn’t you stop me?”

Jin snorted. “If Hobi couldn’t, what makes you think I could? And I didn’t know.”

“Should I apologize?”

“The answer is always the same, Yoongi. Yes. And I know you never do it.”

“I do,” Yoongi protested. “I apologize all the time!”

“Grunting when you step on my foot doesn’t count as an apology. It barely counted even during the ice age, when grunting was an acceptable form of neanderthal communication-”

“Hoseok will forgive me,” Yoongi said, with certainty. He always did, when Yoongi was an asshole. He could never hold a grudge.

“Wow,” said Jin. “That is so not the point.”

“What?”

“Of course Hobi is going to forgive you. That’s obvious. But he won’t do it until you apologize to Jimin.”

Apologize to Jimin?” Yoongi repeated, horrified by the very thought. “What do you mean, apologize to Jimin? What do I have to apologize for?”

“Being a meanie, for starters,” Jin replied, ticking off the list on his fingers. “Getting involved in business that isn’t yours. Sabotaging Hobi and Jimin’s relationship out of jealousy.”

Yoongi choked on his own outrage. “What?”

The sound of someone arriving interrupted the unbelievably ridiculous conversation they were having. Jin’s roommate, Namjoon (also known as Friend #3) was home.

“Hey,” he said, kicking off his shoes. “What’s up?”

Jin raised an eyebrow, jerking his head in Yoongi’s direction.

Namjoon sensed the tension without being told. “What are you guys talking about? Yoongi looks mad.”

“He’s in denial,” Jin said. “He’s jealous of Park Jimin but he won’t admit it.”

“Park Jimin?” Namjoon asked. “Hobi’s Park Jimin?”

It rankled, a bit, to hear that name being placed in a possessive position after Hoseok’s - but it was only because he didn’t deserve to be there. Park Jimin was an usurper. Untrustworthy. He wasn’t jealous, goddamnit. That didn’t even make sense.

“Why would I be jealous of a solo-thieving little-”

Jin rolled his eyes, hard, and interjected. “Learn to let it go, Min Yoongi. If Hobi doesn’t mind, it’s not a problem. You’re unfairly biased against Jimin. Tell the truth. What’d you really to do to him?”

“I just talked to him.”

Jin regarded him skeptically. “He was scared enough of you to quit, so whatever you threatened him with was clearly effective.”

Namjoon whistled, long and low. He flopped down onto the sofa. “Poor Jimin. He likes you, you know.”

Yoongi sputtered again.

“He asked about you a couple of times, actually. Hobi played your mixtape at practice and Jimin is a big fan. He wanted to know if you have a cd - I think he was hoping to get it signed.”

“I don’t have a cd,” was all Yoongi could think to say.

“That’s what I told him. You should really look into it. Might be a good idea. I know a guy-” Namjoon trailed on, but Yoongi had stopped listening.

It was irrelevant. It didn’t matter that Jimin was a fan. He’d only been acting on his instincts, standing up for his friend. And no matter what Hoseok or Jin or anyone said, it set a bad precedent to ignore seniority and experience inside a group that wanted to go pro. Park Jimin had to work his way up just like everyone else. That was only fair.

“No wonder he caved,” said Jin. “You should never meet your idols. It’s just heartbreaking.”

“Idol?” Yoongi scoffed. “I doubt it.”

Namjoon shrugged. “Dunno, man. You weren’t there that time Hobi invited him to hang out with us. Jimin was pretty disappointed. He gushed about your music the whole night, man. I told him I’d introduce you guys and he was over the moon-”

Jin snorted. “Not anymore, I bet.” He shot Namjoon a look that was undecipherable. “Is this the thing you guys were whispering about the other night? Hobi’s pet project?”

What the fuck were they talking about?

Namjoon shrugged. “I thought it might work. Hobi was convinced and it seemed like a good idea. But I guess Jimin’s too soft. Yoongi would’ve broken him in the end.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Yoongi demanded, fed up with being talked about like he wasn’t there. 

“Nevermind,” said Jin cryptically. He waved his hand in the air dismissively. “Doesn’t matter anymore.”

So much for helpful counsel from his friends, Yoongi thought bitterly. He seriously considered demoting them in his rankings as he left Jin’s apartment with slumped shoulders. Despite his confidence that he hadn’t done anything wrong, something niggled at Yoongi’s conscience for the rest of the day.

He found it hard to swallow down the crappy take-out dinner he bought for himself. He tried to work, but couldn’t get through editing more than a handful of photos before accidentally erasing the contents of an entire folder. Thank god he had it all backed up on a thumb drive.

Lyric-writing didn’t come easily, either. Every couple of lines his pen stuttered, and an image of Park Jimin’s face flashed through his mind. He kept thinking of the way  Jimin had seemed surprised and flustered when Yoongi had cornered him… at the time he’d assumed it was guilt.

Now he looked at it from a different perspective and realised there had been eagerness in Jimin’s demeanor. He’d wanted to go home and shower to make himself presentable. He’d been surprised that Yoongi just wanted to talk in the empty practice room. (“Here? We could go to the cafe downstairs-?”  “I’d rather not.”) Namjoon was, at one point, going to introduce them, because Park Jimin was a fan. A bad feeling rose in Yoongi’s gut. There was something else going on, something he hadn’t been told and couldn’t put a finger on. All he could think about was how Park Jimin had been excited to see him, had thought Yoongi was going to… what?

He’d expected a positive encounter, not a negative one, that much was obvious. What he’d gotten instead had left him wearing a miserable expression by the end of it.

“Shit,” Yoongi said, to no one but himself.

-----

Things were at an all time low for Yoongi.

Time passed at a truly glacial pace when your best friend was mad at you and your other friends had been demoted so you couldn’t bring yourself to chill with them because you had principles to maintain.

(And maybe too much pride.)

A week and a half later, Yoongi succumbed to the inevitable. He knocked on Jin’s door with one fist, shifting his weight nervously from one foot to the other.

Jin answered, coolly regarding Yoongi with one raised eyebrow. “What’s happened now?”

“I didn’t pay my electricity bill and my apartment’s cold and dark,” Yoongi lied. “Can I juice up my laptop and phone here? It’s urgent. I have a deadline.” He held up a bag of fried chicken. “Payment.”

“Be my guest,” said Jin, letting Yoongi through. “I thought I’d been benched or deducted or whatever messed up math it is you do in that head of yours but I guess I’m still good enough to be used as your personal charger. Oy, Yoongi’s here.”

“Hey, man,” said Namjoon. Good. He was home.

Act normal, Yoongi told himself. Don’t make 'em suspicious.

“Why are you wearing sunglasses indoors like a douchebag?” There. Normal.

“That’s no way to talk to someone who owns 50% of the outlets you’re begging to use,” Jin chided.

“He’s gonna eat 50% of the chicken I bought, isn’t he?”

“I forgot I was wearing them. Now I can’t be bothered.” Namjoon grinned good-naturedly, fiddling with his phone screen. “If that’s fried chicken I’m lucky if I get a drumstick before Jin eats it all.”

While they bickered like an old married couple, Yoongi made a beeline for the makeshift charging station  Namjoon had fashioned out of a stool with various wires duct taped along one leg, all protruding from a jam-packed power strip. Yoongi shook his head, staring at what was definitely a fire hazard. Whatever. It wasn’t his apartment. He eyed the pink phone that lay on the stool, and felt his pulse quicken.

“I’ll put the chicken out on a plate,” Jin was saying behind Yoongi, “We’re not animals.”

He disappeared into the kitchen. Namjoon followed to bicker or flirt with him some more, setting his phone down on the coffee table. Yoongi seized the opportunity and grabbed it, hastily tapping the screen so it wouldn’t lock. Namjoon was notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people, but he seemed to have actually interacted with the target, so the odds were in his favour.

It was a bust. Namjoon had exactly five contacts who were properly named, consisting of his parents, his brothers, and Jin. Every other number was saved under what could only be described as some kind of advanced alien code.

“Psychopath,” Yoongi muttered, tossing the thing back onto the table.

He looked over his shoulder, making sure his friends were still occupied in the kitchen, and surreptitiously unplugged Jin’s pink iphone.

“I’m gonna drop a number two!” he shouted as he sprinted to the bathroom.

“You don’t need to announce it!” Jin shouted back. “Don’t make a mess!”

Yoongi locked the bathroom door and sat on the toilet lid. He typed in the pin number (1234, what an idiot) and went straight into Jin’s contacts. Immediately Yoongi noticed that he was saved under MIN YOONGI followed by three emojis (poop, grandpa, and wilted rose, in that order).

“What the fuck,” he muttered under his breath, scrolling past (peace sign, polo shirt, sunglasses) KIM NAMJOON (heart) to come at last to what he was looking for.

The adrenaline of the mission faded, leaving behind a heavy feeling of what on earth am I doing right now?

Desperate times called for desperate measures. Hoseok wasn’t speaking to him, which meant Yoongi couldn’t get the information he needed from him - and it didn’t feel right, anyway, since all of this came back to Hoseok and in Yoongi’s mind he had to keep it separate, somehow. He couldn’t just drop by the practice room and hope for the best like the last time. And he had too much pride to openly ask Jin or Namjoon for Park Jimin’s contact details. In the end, he’d settled for espionage.

Yoongi stared at the number that appeared once he tapped on PARK JIMIN (heart, heart).

He faltered. Hoseok’s disappointed face floated in his mind. With a grimace, Yoongi gritted his teeth and hit the call button.

CALLING PARK JIMIN…

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi tensed in his seat and clenched his fingers around the paper cup before him. Park Jimin had just strolled through the doors of the coffee shop - five minutes earlier than the time they’d agreed upon. He looked around, spotted Yoongi, and visibly gulped.

Same, thought Yoongi. 

This was going to be unpleasant, at the very least. He was terrible at situations that called for finesse, especially when it came to dealing with other people. That had always been Hoseok’s job. Unfortunately he was on his own this time. There was no Hoseok to smooth things over or to act as a bridge between Yoongi and whoever it was he’d offended. He would have to somehow find it within himself to fix what he had fucked up.

Yoongi took a sip of his coffee, braced himself, and bravely made eye contact.

Jimin nodded, tugged on his red beanie, and walked nervously over to his table. Like the last time, he looked young and baby-ish, but the way he carried himself hinted at a deeper maturity. Dancers, the really good ones, Yoongi had noticed, all had that aura to them. They walked differently, held their bodies differently, moved differently. Even the way he slid into the booth was graceful. Yoongi gritted his teeth, reminding himself it wasn’t the appropriate time to be distracted.

“Thanks for coming,” Yoongi said.

“No problem.” Jimin folded his hands in his lap. He sat primly, back straight, his expression carefully neutral. “I’m… not late, am I?”

“No, you’re not late.” Yoongi sat up straight, too. “You’re right on time.”

Silence.

“Do you want to order a drink?”

Jimin paused. He admitted, “Not really.”

“OK.”

Silence again.

“So-”

“What-” Jimin pulled back, slightly. “Sorry. You were saying?”

Yoongi shook his head. “No. Go ahead.”

“No, you go first-”

“OK,” Yoongi said, growing impatient with the stilted push-pull of their conversation. He took a quick swig of his coffee to bolster himself, and grimaced at the bitterness of the brew. He really needed to get this over with, if not only for the sake of his friendship but also his looming deadlines. Who knew loneliness could have such an effect on productivity? “I just wanted to say something.”

Jimin shrank, a little, in his seat. But he put on a brave expression. “Me, too.”

That was unexpected. “Oh.”

“You go first,” Jimin insisted, again.

“Don’t quit,” Yoongi said bluntly, going straight to the point.

Mouth forming a little ‘o’ of surprise, Jimin blinked rapidly.

“That wasn’t my intention. When we - talked last time. I wasn’t trying to intimidate you,” (he had been), “-into doing anything drastic.” Yoongi swallowed. “I was just - I was upset about Hoseok giving up something that belongs to him.”

“Yeah,” said Jimin softly. “I remember.”

Yoongi winced inwardly, a flicker of guilt igniting itself in his chest. He wondered, for the thousandth time, if perhaps he had gotten carried away after all. In the heat of the moment, when he got worked up, he forgot that he could sometimes come across as, well, cruel

“I still feel the same,” he went on, which didn’t do much for the despondent look on Jimin’s face. Still. He couldn’t lie. “But I was too harsh. I didn’t mean to make you quit the crew.”

Silence descended between them again. Jimin sighed - a soft little exhale - and said in a small voice, “-I wasn’t really going to.” Remorse coloured his features. “I just- I felt really bad. And I said something I regretted after. I’m sorry.”

A great wave of relief washed over Yoongi. “You’re not quitting?”

“I was just embarrassed.” Jimin avoided Yoongi’s eyes. His cheeks coloured. “I was gonna go to tomorrow’s practice and ask if I could come back. Is… Hobi mad at me?”

“Nah. He’ll welcome you back with open arms,” said Yoongi, feeling a tiny stab deep in his gut. But it was short-lived and the relief on Park Jimin’s face made him feel better than he had in days. “Hoseok’s nice like that.”

“Yeah,” said Jimin, nodding nervously. “Hobi is super nice. He’s helped me out a lot since I moved here. I’m really grateful.”

But you stole his part, anyway?  Yoongi wanted to say.

“That’s why I’m glad,” Jimin continued, “-that you came and talked to me. What you said was right. Hobi is a better dancer and he’s more experienced as a performer. He should get the solo. I was able to do the right thing thanks to you. I’m really grateful.”

There was a - well, shiny was probably the best word for it - sort of look in Park Jimin’s eyes that was really disconcerting. Yoongi shifted uncomfortably in his seat, taken aback by the earnest confession. “Uh. Sure. You’re welcome, I guess.”

“Are you… still angry?”

“No.” Yoongi shrugged. “You fixed what you did wrong. Nothing to be angry about.”

“Okay.” There was a pause. “So you don’t hate me, right?”

“I don’t hate you,” he agreed, slowly. To his surprise, Yoongi found that he really didn’t.

Too nice, too soft, too sweet. Namjoon’s words echoed in Yoongi’s head. He watched as Jimin sipped at his coffee, the movement awkward and self-conscious, and really studied the boy for the first time.

He’s just so cute.

Hoseok wouldn’t shut up about it.

Begrudgingly, Yoongi admitted it was true. Now that it was established he did not hate Park Jimin, Yoongi could allow himself to admire the kid. He was good looking, maybe not as pretty as Jin, but definitely attractive. His eyes crinkled into half moon crescents when he smiled and there was something endearing about the way he talked, the light sweetness of his voice. He was a lot like Hoseok in temperament, too - cheerful, friendly, unable to maintain a respectable poker face - and that only served in his favour.

Yoongi did a mental re-evaluation. He shifted Jimin from the “dislike” column to the “might be okay” column, and awarded some bonus make up points for having been judged too quickly. He was still far from the “friend” category (it took years for anyone to reach that ranking in Yoongi’s heart) but “friendly acquaintance” was a solid possibility.

Jimin stared at him with big puppy eyes, seemingly waiting for Yoongi to say something.

He cleared his throat. “I heard you liked my mixtape.”

Jimin’s eyes lit up. Hell, his whole face did. He leaned forward slightly, and said with enthusiasm, “I love it!”

Yoongi couldn’t fault the kid for having impeccable taste. “Want a signed copy?”

“Yes!”

“Too bad,” he said. “I don’t have any.”

“Oh.”

“Once I get them printed, you’re fifty-second on the list.”

Jimin’s eyes widened. “You have a waiting list for your mixtape?”

“Yeah, I’m only printing fifty copies, though.”

“What?”

Yoongi smiled lazily. Dumb, he thought. Dumb, but cute. He kind of liked that.

“You’re so gullible,” he said with a snicker.

A tentative, half-confused smile spread over Jimin’s face. He looked at Yoongi oddly, as if trying to figure something out. His smile became hopeful at the edges. At last he spoke, throwing a brief glance over his shoulder at the barista. “Can I. Um-”

Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “What?”

Jimin’s cheeks were tinged pink. “Can I order something to drink?”

“But you said you didn’t want anything.”

“I was too nervous,” Jimin said sheepishly. He grinned, showing off pearly white teeth. “Now I’m really thirsty.”

-----

Hoseok’s smile was blinding. Yoongi shoved his face away and pretended to scowl. There wasn’t a chance of it working, though - they knew each other far too well and Hoseok could always see through Yoongi’s fronts and feints.

“Jimin came to practice yesterday,” Hoseok said, beaming from ear to ear. “He said he regretted quitting and asked if he could come back.”

Yoongi made a noncommittal noise. Hoseok nudged him. “You apologized, right?”

“Never.”

“Aww, it's okay, you can admit it! It shows personal growth, Yoongi. I’m so proud.”

“Shut up.”

Nevertheless, Yoongi was glad to see Hoseok smiling again, and doubly glad that he was back in Hoseok’s good books.

“He won’t do the solo,” Hoseok went on to say, which pleased Yoongi to no end, until Hoseok added, “-so we’re scrapping that part of the performance altogether.”

Yoongi sighed.

“We came up with a great new routine to replace it with, though,” Hoseok told him with giddy excitement. “You wanna come watch us practice it tomorrow?”

“No,” said Yoongi.

-----

“You came!” Hoseok screeched.

“I think I’m deaf,” Yoongi deadpanned. He set the cardboard tray of drinks he had brought with him down on the floor of the practice room, out of the way of any stray dancing feet.

“You said you wouldn’t, but I knew you couldn’t resist.” Hoseok threw an arm over Yoongi’s shoulder and dragged him into the room. “Jimin, Yoongi’s here!”

“Oh, hi,” said Park Jimin, a bit shyly. He lifted his hand and waved.

Now wasn’t that just fucking adorable? Hoseok apparently thought so, too. He made a disgusting cooing noise and released Yoongi so he could pinch Jimin’s cheeks. Gross.

Yoongi’s mouth defaulted into a frown as Hoseok pulled Jimin closer and whispered something into his ear. Jimin blushed. A private joke, Yoongi thought with a flash of mild irritation, one he wasn’t going to be let in on. Whatever. It was probably some dance thing and he wouldn’t understand it anyway. It probably wasn’t at his expense. Probably.

“Yoongi brought us coffee! Isn’t he sweet?”

Jimin’s blush deepened.  “Oh… thanks.”

Hoseok beamed. “He got your favourite, too! Yoongi is sooooo thoughtful.”

Yoongi scowled. “Stop it, you’re creeping me out.”

“I’m just saying-”

“You guys almost done?”

“Almost,” said Hoseok. “Jimin’s just gonna run through his routine one more time and then I thought we could all go get something to eat. How about it, Jiminie?”

“Sounds good,” Jimin said, smiling. His eyes crinkled. Cutely, of course.

-----

Hoseok insisted that Yoongi come to pick him up from practice again two days later.

Bring a latte, he said in his text. For Jimin.

“I’m not your lackey,” Yoongi grumbled. But he did it anyway.

“Thanks for the coffee,” Jimin said, running his hand through his sweaty hair and brushing it off his face. He glistened with sweat, but weirdly enough it wasn’t gross. Just kind of… Yoongi mentally searched for the right word, and all he came up with was masculine .

Jimin smiled again. He was always smiling at Yoongi, always making his eyes crinkle at the corners, always being as sweet as sugar. Jimin was strange. Yoongi wrote it off as fannish behaviour (even though as an underground amateur rapper he didn’t have many fans and had no experience with people like Jimin).

He did his best to ignore the weird feeling in the atmosphere whenever the three of them were together. Hoseok was bad at acting and couldn’t lie to save his life. He kept looking back and forth between Yoongi and Jimin whenever he thought they weren’t paying attention. Yoongi seriously wondered what the fuck was going on in that ridiculous head of his.

Yoongi always timed his arrival with the end of the practice, so he wouldn’t have to spend an hour watching Hoseok find excuses to “help” Jimin stretch. For someone who wasn’t gay, he was awfully gay.

Jimin was usually quicker to change into fresh clothes, and today was no different. He smiled at Yoongi when he emerged from the storage closet-cum-change room and asked, “Should we head out?”

“Head out? Where?”

Jimin blinked. “You’re not hungry?”

“Where’s Hoseok?” He’d run off to buy a sports drink from the vending machine downstairs.

“I’m not sure.”

That jerk. Yoongi pulled his phone out and shot off a terse text message. There was no reply. Jimin shifted awkwardly and asked, “Maybe… he left? Maybe we should just go?”

“Why would Hoseok leave?” Yoongi asked, annoyed by the idea. “And where would we go without him? Are you really that hungry? If you can’t wait, you can leave first.”

“Oh. Um-” Jimin faltered. “No, you’re right. You’re right, of course. That was rude of me. We should wait.”

They waited. Hoseok took his sweet ass time and didn’t return until nearly thirty minutes later. Jimin kept trying to fill the silence with small talk, not giving up even though Yoongi barely responded. The uncomfortable atmosphere made Yoongi feel like running away. He was inept at relieving awkward tension and when subjected to it he became cranky and recalcitrant.

By the time Hoseok came back, Yoongi was both pissed and relieved. “What the fuck took so long?”

“Why’d you wait for me?” It was Hoseok's turn to look bewildered.

“Why wouldn’t we?” Yoongi asked, frowning. A feeling of deja vu passed over him, though he didn’t quite know why.

Jimin shook his head slightly, smiled, and shouldered his gym bag. “Should we go now?”

-----

Typically slow at everything he did, it was rare for Yoongi to be the first to arrive at any given meeting place. The preservation of energy was at the top of his list of priorities, mainly because he felt you never knew when you would find yourself in a sticky situation and being tired out would render you at a disadvantage. (This wisdom had been gained at a very early age, when a teacher taught his class the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Yoongi’s mother had once tried to explain that he’d misunderstood the moral of the story, but Yoongi disagreed.)

When he got to Jin’s apartment that night and found Park Jimin standing awkwardly in the middle of the living room bobbing his head to Yoongi’s mixtape (for fuck’s sake), he thought: something is up. That same feeling had kept coming over him all week… and he wasn’t sure why. There was something in the air… an expectant feeling that pressed in on him from all sides. A bit like… a trap. Or maybe he was just being paranoid.

Jimin had put some effort in. His hair was meticulously arranged to look carelessly messy, and his black jeans were very fashionably distressed. Yoongi liked it. He liked Jimin’s signature red beanie and white tee. The long sleeves came past his fingers, giving him a boyish appeal.

“Hey.” 

Jimin flashed him a big smile. Again. “Hi. Cool jacket. It looks good on you.”

“Thanks.”

They made small talk. Jimin smiled a lot. Yoongi didn’t. He warmed up a bit when Jimin began asking questions about his mixtape, which was playing on loop, and the conversation started flowing almost naturally when Hoseok made his entrance.

He leapt on Jimin, made a big show of pinching his cheeks and gushing over how cute he looked. It was fucking annoying. Yoongi grumbled about going to the bathroom. Hoseok said something along the lines of ‘don’t take too long’ and Jin declared the drinks were almost ready and no one really gave a shit that Yoongi was slinking off to sulk alone.

When he came back, the music had been turned up and the two dancers were clearly enjoying themselves. Hoseok was screeching his head off, and Jimin - well.

Jimin was dancing.

Yoongi stopped in his tracks. He’d seen Jimin dance a bit here and there, bits of random choreography, but nothing like this. This was altogether very different dancing. Very party dancing. Very, uh, contemporary. If by contemporary you meant-

“Holy shit,” said Namjoon. “That’s… bendy.”

Jin came into the living room with an entire tray of shots. He whistled. “Wow.”

“Not what I had in mind when I wrote this track,” Yoongi said dryly.

“If it’s music, we can dance to it,” Hoseok replied, doing a series of moves that almost put what Jimin had been doing a few minutes ago to shame. Hoseok was flexible, too. He really was.

Yoongi swallowed the rest of his shot. “This isn’t dancing. You’re just being a pervert.”

Everyone laughed, including Jimin, who seemed content to let Hoseok feel him up without so much as a second thought. He was probably used to it, Yoongi figured, they probably did this kind of stuff all the time at practice. An annoying feeling rose in his gut. He reached for another drink, determined to ignore it, and grew steadily more irritated as he watched the two dancers grind against each other, pouring shots down each other’s throats while the raspy growl of Yoongi’s mixtape played in the background.

When he’d had just about enough, they switched it up. He was about to turn the music off - they were desecrating his work, insulting him - but was intercepted while attempting to cross the room to reach the sound system.

“Get off me-!”

“Aw, come on Yoongi, just enjoy it-”

Hoseok brushed against him, grinning wildly, his hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. Every thump of the bass brought his lower body into contact with Yoongi’s hip. Yoongi tensed. Hoseok was drunk, of course, and he was just having fun, but-

He barely had time to process the fact that his best friend was grinding on him when another body brushed up along his other side, pressing in with almost searing warmth. A pair of hips rolled against his back, hands coming to rest on his ribcage. He found himself being spun around between the bodies crowding him. The hands that had been on his waist moved to the belt-loops on his jeans and they most definitely belonged to Park Jimin, who was most definitely shit-faced.

“You’re drunk,” Yoongi told him, not sure if he was amused or annoyed. He definitely wasn’t drunk enough.

“Yup.” Jimin giggled. “Hobi too.”

More giggling came from behind. Yoongi rolled his eyes. Jimin smiled a half-lidded, lascivious smile - no other word for it - and exhaled, dipping his fingers into Yoongi’s waistband. He moved smoothly to the beat, pulling Yoongi closer, close enough for Jimin’s stomach to press against him. His abs, even through his shirt and Yoongi’s jeans, felt rock-hard. Holy shit. The knowledge that Park Jimin was ripped sent a hot flutter through Yoongi’s insides. Like everything else he knew about Park Jimin it felt like a contradiction designed to confuse him. Someone who seemed so soft and sweet shouldn’t have a six-pack made of steel.

Hoseok slapped him on the butt, jolting him out of his flustered daze. Shit. He looked up, saw Namjoon and Jin sprawled on the sofa, watching them with interested gazes, and felt a hot flash of embarrassment.

“That’s enough.” He attempted to shove Jimin away and elbowed Hoseok in the ribs. “Get off me!”

“You’re no fun,” Hoseok whined, but he backed off. Jimin was more clingy. Yoongi had to peel him off before he could make an escape.

Hoseok pouted. “Fine, we’ll dance by ourselves. C’mere Jiminie-!”

Four shots later, they were still dancing by themselves. It was disgusting. It could barely be called dancing - just a lot of unsexy thrusting and weird moaning coming from Hoseok that made Jin snort unattractively and unleash his windshield wiper laugh.

Yoongi felt sick. He kept drinking, wishing he was anywhere but here, watching this. He tried to head towards the kitchen for a refill, but his legs refused to co-operate and got tangled up in themselves. He wasn’t quite sure how it happened. One second he was glaring at the back of Park Jimin’s head, the next second he was on the ground, staring up at Jin’s hovering, frowny face.

“How about a glass of water now, buddy?” He plucked the shot glass out of Yoongi’s hand. “Let’s go-”

“You’re demoted,” Yoongi said loudly, forgetting the need for secrecy. He scowled up at Jin ferociously. “Negative ranking. Not #2 anymore. Never again. This party fucking sucks.”

“Okay,” said Jin, “I’m demoted.” He pulled Yoongi back to his feet. The room went a bit funny - all squiggly and wavy. “Go lie down for a bit. You look like a dumpling dipped in tomato sauce and you’re slurring.”

“Why don’t I have hearts,” he asked abruptly, pretty certain he wasn’t slurring a single word. Jin was full of shit.

“What?”

“In your phone, I don’t have hearts-”

Jin’s face darkened. “What?”

“You put two hearts after-” he spun, pointing vaguely in the direction of the treacherous blob that had been grinding on Hoseok earlier. Yoongi gritted his teeth, wondering why the room was still spinning even though he’d stopped. “-after that one.

He spun again and yelled at the pink celery stalk on the phone in the corner to get it’s attention. “Namjoon! NAMJOON, JIN PUT A HEART AFTER YOUR NAME IN HIS PHONE BUT NOT AFTER MINE-”

“You’re dead once you sober up,” Jin said calmly. “Come on.”

It was embarrassingly easy for Jin to hook his arms under Yoongi’s armpits and haul him off to a bedroom. He was tossed headfirst onto the mattress and covered in a smelly blanket.

----

There was giggling and shuffling outside the door. Yoongi growled, covering his face with the pillow. It smelled weird, like cheap hairspray (which meant it was Namjoon’s bed). The door creaked open. Footsteps came into the room, trying to be quiet but failing horribly at it. More hushed whispers, and then something heavy was dropped onto the bed next to Yoongi.

He rolled over and opened his eyes. Two inches away from the tip of his nose was the sleeping face of Park Jimin, soft breath escaping from his open mouth, lips relaxed and eyelashes long against his round cheeks. Yoongi’s eyes dropped a few inches lower. Jimin was shirtless.

He must have made some sort of noise, because Jimin’s brow furrowed. His eyes fluttered open. Maybe it was just too dark for Yoongi to clearly make them out, but his eyes seemed to be all pupil, as black as the night outside.

A very drunk, very dreamy smile spread across his face. “Min Yoongi. Hello.”

I’ll kill them, Yoongi thought.

 

Chapter Text

Namjoon’s gaze flicked in the direction of Yoongi’s vibrating phone. “You gonna answer that any time soon? It might overheat and explode if you don’t.”

“No,” said Yoongi, crossing out a line he’d written down. He shoved the sheet of music at Namjoon. “This doesn’t work. Fix it.”

“It’s Hobi,” Namjoon said, still peering at the screen and seemingly deaf to Yoongi’s instructions. “He’s sent, like, a thousand texts.”

“I said, fix this.”

“You’re in a foul mood.”

“And you’re wasting my time,” Yoongi snapped. “You’re the one who wanted to do a collab, so quit fuckin’ around-”

“No need to shout,” Namjoon said coolly. “I think you should answer.”

He wasn’t going to answer. He was avoiding the shit out of Hoseok at the moment.

“You’ve been mad for days, Yoongi. Come on, we've apologized like a million times-”

“If you’re not here to work on this song, then get the fuck out.”

“It wasn’t just a prank,” Namjoon went on. “If you think that’s how it went down, you’re wrong.”

“Will you shut up?”

“Once we’ve finished talking about this, I will.”

“For fuck’s sake!”

“Even you’re not that dumb,” Namjoon said, nudging him with the tip of his sneaker. “You know Jimin likes you, right? He wanted to be set up with you. We didn’t just go 'oh, here’s a sucker we can toss at Yoongi, it’ll be hilarious’-!”

Yoongi opened his mouth to say something - he wasn’t sure what, except maybe what the fuck - but Namjoon wasn’t done.

“I like Jimin. You might, too, if you gave him a chance.”

Since when, he wondered, had his private affairs become fair game for every fucking person he knew?

“I never asked for-”

“I know,” Namjoon interrupted, a placating smile on his face. "But maybe it’s time for something new, you know?”

Something about the way he looked at Yoongi - all meaningfully, as if to imply he knew something Yoongi didn’t want him to know - pissed Yoongi right off. The tinge of sympathy and concern in his tone made Yoongi's already sore hackles rise. Namjoon always thought he fucking knew best, just because he had an IQ of 148. He pretended to be cool and easy-going, but he was a know-it-all who couldn’t mind his own business.

Fuck that. “If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.”

A muscle twitched in Namjoon’s jaw, but he simply raised his hands in surrender. “Fair enough. I know you’re pissed and maybe you’re entitled to feel that way-” (yeah he fucking did), “-but don’t take it out on Jimin.”

An angry retort was on the tip of his tongue and he opened his mouth to deliver a scathing reply, but was interrupted by a key twisting in the door. Yoongi’s entire body tensed as Hoseok burst into the apartment.

“You are here,” he said, pointing a furious finger. “You asshole!”

“Hello and goodbye,” said Namjoon, sensing turbulence and making a run for it, “I’m out. See ya later, Hobi.”

He bolted, leaving Yoongi with the last fucking person he wanted to see right now.

“Go away,” he said brusquely. For once he really meant it, but Hoseok never knew when to give up. He was so damn stubborn.

The same stubbornness had accompanied him his whole life - starting from the day he’d sat down next to Yoongi on the first day of second grade and refused to switch desks for the rest of the school year, despite his popularity and Yoongi’s unpopularity. It fuelled his tenacity, had him training late into the wee hours of the morning, perfecting his body movements until no one could find fault with them, even himself. He was persistent even in his good intentions, particularly the ones Yoongi didn’t want from him.

“As if!”

Hoseok threw himself onto the sofa next to Yoongi, a glint in his eye. Fuck. He shifted away, putting distance between them, and wondered if Hoseok noticed.

An exasperated whine crept into Hoseok’s voice - no, he hadn’t noticed - and he demanded, “Why are you being like this?”

“I said, go away.”

Hoseok ignored him. He demanded, “Just what is so wrong with Jimin?”

“Nothing,” he replied sullenly.

“Is he not your type? I mean, fine, if he’s not your type, he’s not your type-”

“He’s not my type,” Yoongi said, just because it was easier to agree.

The irony wasn’t lost on him. Months and months of Hoseok talking up Jimin in front of him, annoying him to no end, making him feel like crap on the inside - all of it done in a horribly misguided attempt at matchmaking. How hadn’t he caught on sooner? He’d been blinded by jealousy, he supposed.

“Okay. Whatever. That’s fine. Personal taste, I get it. I’m not judging or anything - I’m just really wondering what your type looks like - but that’s a discussion for another time.”

More like never. Just the thought of such a conversation ever taking place was agony. His type stared at him in the face, forever cheerful, idiotic, and oblivious.

“I get it, and I won’t force it anymore. Don’t be upset.” Hoseok’s tone was like that of a parent running out of patience with a wayward child. “Be… delicate, okay? Just this time. Promise me you’ll let him down gently. I know Jimin seems perky on the outside but I honestly think he has some self-esteem issues… please try not to hurt his feelings.”

“What about my feelings?” Yoongi asked roughly, cutting into the lecture mid-sentence.

What had he expected, honestly? Why was he even surprised? A part of Yoongi had always wondered, over the years, exactly how much Hoseok knew and how much was just feigned ignorance. Hoseok’s face - dumb, goofy, beloved - held a lack of awareness that spoke volumes. Yoongi turned away, fighting the desire to just curl up and die.

He was such a fucking cliché, it was laughable.

Hoseok wasn’t into dudes. That was a fact. There was absolutely nothing Yoongi could do about it. There was nothing he would do about it, because Hoseok was who he was and Yoongi loved Hoseok for being Hoseok. He’d made the decision years ago that it was enough for him. He settled for friendship with a side of pining and lived and breathed unrequited love day in and day out until it became a regular part of his life, so deeply ingrained he barely even noticed it anymore.

Over time it had become easier, even comfortable. But then something would happen - something like this - and the comfort of loving Hoseok would feel like festering, instead. Yoongi just kept on accumulating, years and years and years worth of incontinent, helpless yearning. It piled up, tempered by a grim acceptance that things could never be more than what they had and never really be less.

“I never asked to be set up with anyone.” Least of all by you. “You didn’t bother asking first, did you?” Bitterness creeped into his voice, accompanied by helpless hurt. “You did whatever you wanted and humiliated me.”

“Yoongi…”

The look on Hoseok’s face would have been funny, if it weren’t so fucking awful. For the first time, it seemed to have dawned on him that he had touched a raw nerve. They sat on the cusp of a terrifying boundary and Yoongi regretted ever opening his mouth.

What was he doing? This wasn’t what he wanted.

“Nevermind,” Yoongi said, taking a deep breath. “Just forget it, alright?”

“Yoongi- hey, I’m sorry. Really. I didn’t think.” Hoseok put his hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. He sounded contrite. “My bad. I just wanted to help Jimin out. He’s got a huge crush on you and I just thought, maybe…”

Maybe his poor best buddy who never seemed to be able to land a date on his own - for reasons Hoseok probably imagined entirely differently - would leap at the chance.

“Nevermind,” Yoongi said again, the last of his anger fizzling out. “Just- nevermind.”

What was the point of being angry, in the end?

It wouldn’t change anything.

-----

They dropped it. Hoseok apologized again, promised he wouldn’t do any more stupid stuff, and Yoongi forgave him. He wondered (excruciatingly) what Hoseok really thought of the whole thing. In retrospect, Yoongi realised that “not my type ” was a pretty flimsy reason for the extreme way he’d reacted to being set up with a cute boy.

He worried about it for several days as he licked his wounds, secluding himself into work and music. Did Hoseok suspect anything? Yoongi prayed not. Hoseok didn’t let on that he had any inkling of the truth. He was just mostly confused and upset that he had upset Yoongi, and was currently walking on eggshells around him.

In all honestly, Yoongi was tempted to just let it be. He considered just pretending nothing had happened until it went away, but his conscience wouldn’t allow it.

That, and Park Jimin kept texting him. Well, to be fair, he’d only texted Yoongi three times. That was more than enough to make Yoongi feel guilty. He replied to the last text, knowing Hoseok was right about one thing: he had to be delicate.

For some unfathomable reason - Yoongi couldn’t really wrap his head around it - Jimin had an unprecedented crush on him. On Yoongi. Of all people. Which presented a whole different dilemma, aside from the anguish of having your best friend who you were secretly in love with try to set you up with someone else.

Hopelessly, he resigned himself to being a bastard once again. Because no matter how cautiously he went about it - there was just no nice way to reject someone, even if it was being done out of kindness.

-----

As he had previously, Jimin arrived five minutes before the time Yoongi had asked to meet him. It was the same cafe, too, several minutes walk from Yoongi’s apartment. He bounced into the booth where Yoongi sat - again, the same booth as last time - and beamed.

“Hello!”

If he found it odd that Yoongi had called him after disappearing from Jin’s party in the (literal) middle of the night, he said nothing about it. Maybe he didn’t remember making drunk googly eyes at Yoongi in Namjoon’s bed before passing out again mid-attempt at… well, Yoongi wasn’t sure what. Yoongi had waited a few minutes to make sure Jimin was really unconscious again before getting the fuck out of that bed. He’d emerged from the room, found his three friends in the kitchen and given them the middle finger. Then he’d left, ignoring Hoseok’s drunken entreaties.

“You okay?” Jimin peered at him curiously. “You look a bit pale.”

Just heartbroken, Yoongi thought, and shook his head. “Sorry. I got distracted. I’m fine.”

“Good.” Jimin smiled. “Is this for me?” He gestured at the paper cup in front of him.

“Yeah.”

Yoongi had ordered two lattes without really thinking about it. The fact that he knew Park Jimin’s coffee order was a bit fucked up, considering just last week he’d hated his guts. Things seemed to have spiraled very quickly out of his control.

“Thanks. You’re always buying me coffee. It’ll be my treat next time, okay?”

“Sure.” It was highly unlikely there was going to be a next time after this, but whatever.

Jimin stirred his drink happily. He didn’t look the worse for wear, despite how piss-drunk he’d been when Yoongi had seen him last. He looked perfectly fine, as healthy as any twenty-one year old could be - which was not surprising. Knowing what lay beneath that shirt, Yoongi would say Jimin was in peak condition. He was suddenly, painfully aware that he’d escaped what might have been the most embarrassing morning-after scene of his entire life by the skin of his teeth.

Nothing would have happened. Of course not. But Park Jimin wouldn’t have known that. He’d have woken up in bed naked with Yoongi, probably with no memory of what had gone down, and he’d have misunderstood. Yoongi was going to make sure he didn’t.

“There’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”

Jimin’s eyes crinkled. “You always say that,” he teased lightly. “What is it? Should I be scared?”

Yoongi’s breath caught, a little. The tilt of Jimin’s head, the sparkle in his eye - it all made Yoongi feel claustrophobic. He wasn’t used to being flirted with. It was strange and disconcerting. Don’t chicken out, stupid. For the hundredth time he cursed his friends for being dicks, and Hoseok for being hopeless.

“My friends,” Yoongi said, slowly, “They’re idiots.”

For a second, Jimin didn’t respond. His smile stayed in place, but his expression took on a questioning tinge.

“They’ve been trying to set us up,” Yoongi forced himself to say. “You and me, I mean.”

Jimin blinked.

God, this was awkward. Yoongi sighed inwardly, and cleared his throat. He had to tread carefully here, in order to make it so that Jimin had an easy way out, if he wanted one. There was no point in humiliating him.

“Look, I’m sorry. I honestly don’t know how they got an idea like that into their stupid heads, but-”

Jimin mumbled something that sounded a bit like, “Look no further-,” which flustered Yoongi momentarily.

He thought of Namjoon saying Jimin likes you and felt hot with embarrassment. (God, what was he, though? Fucking twelve years old?) It didn’t really make sense. No one had ever had a crush on Yoongi before, and under different circumstances he would have been fascinated by it.

Jimin went red, and stammered, “I-I think I gave them the wrong idea, that’s all.”

Yoongi heard the edge of panic that entered his voice. He stayed silent, giving Jimin time to think about what to say next.

Jimin looked down, averting his gaze. “I just really like your music. Maybe… maybe I was too enthusiastic about meeting you… and they misunderstood... it’s my fault. I’m sorry.”

He sounded miserable. Yoongi felt like shit.

“No, that’s fine. I mean- I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think… y’know, that I put them up to this or anything like that.”

“I know,” Jimin said, staring down at his hands. He toyed him with hem of his sleeve, stretching it taut between his fingers and avoided Yoongi’s eyes. “You’re not interested.”

The forthrightness of the statement surprised him even though it was the truth: he wasn't interested. Not that there was anything wrong with Park Jimin - no, to the contrary, Yoongi was certain other people would pretty much leap at the chance to go out with him. He was cute and sweet and honestly - far out of Yoongi’s league. 

But Yoongi was fucked and he knew it: Jimin wasn’t Hoseok, and that would always be in the way.

“Not like I'd have a chance, anyway, right?”

Jimin looked up, a strange little smile on his face. It didn’t feel like it should be a smile, and that unnerved Yoongi.

“You’re way into Hobi, aren’t you?” A rueful laugh escaped his lips. “It’s so obvious now, I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before. I would have told Hoseok not to bother-”

The bottom of Yoongi's stomach dropped. “What? No, that’s not-”

“It’s okay. I won’t tell anyone,” said Jimin quickly. “I respect your privacy.”

Yoongi hesitated, holding back the yeah that was on the tip of his tongue. He couldn’t bring himself to do it. A part of him was downright pissed that a kid he barely knew had figured it out so quickly when he’d been hiding it for years. Another part was alarmed by the possibility that he really was obvious about it, and that everyone could see the truth. No. Definitely not. Park Jimin was just eerily observant, that was all. No one else knew, and Yoongi would never admit or acknowledge it. He would take his secret to the grave.

“I think we should start over,” Jimin said suddenly, pulling Yoongi out of his own thoughts.

“Start over?” he echoed, a bit startled.

“Yeah. As friends.”

There was no mistaking the emphasis on the word friends. Yoongi wasn’t sure if there was a deeper meaning.

“I mean, are we going to avoid each other forever? Over a misunderstanding? That seems dumb.”

He had a point.

“I don’t have many.” Jimin’s cheeks coloured, just slightly, and Yoongi had the distinct impression he was forcing himself to speak. “Friends, I mean. I moved here last year and I still don’t really know anyone - just people at school and the dance crew members.”

Park Jimin not having many friends was a strange concept. It felt unnatural. But he did seem a little shy at times, so maybe he just had a hard time getting to know new people.

Friends, he thought, contemplating the idea. Realistically? Probably not. But if Jimin wanted to save face, Yoongi would go along with it.

More importantly, it was a statement. Starting over as friends meant Jimin wasn’t holding onto any remaining romantic hopes. He regarded Jimin carefully, looking for signs of insincerity but found nothing. Relief filled him. His crush must not have been very serious, thought Yoongi in the back of his head. Namjoon and Hoseok had made it seem like… something more. Whatever. He'd been worried for nothing.

“It takes time,” Yoongi said at last, shoulders loosening slightly. “I’ve lived here all my life and I barely have friends.”

Jimin’s shoulders slumped. He looked dejected. “Not much hope for me, then.”

“Nah,” Yoongi said. Without thinking, he added, “You’re cuter than me. You’ll go far.”

He shocked himself. Calling Jimin cute was not what he’d intended to do, but it didn’t seem to have a negative effect. The opposite, really.

Jimin perked up, looked at Yoongi hopefully. “Yeah? Does that mean- can we be friends, then?”

“Sure,” said Yoongi slowly.

“Thanks.” Jimin smiled, tentatively. Sweet, sincere, naive. Yoongi added the last to his mental tally of Jimin’s traits.

They parted ways soon after that. Yoongi made an excuse to leave at the first opportunity, leaving Park Jimin and awkward chatter and the oppressive smell of roasting coffee behind.

Yoongi breathed out. Thank god that was over.

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi figured Park Jimin would make a few token attempts at being friends with him before giving up and fading out of his life.

That was perfectly fine with him. Putting aside the fact that he was a relatively shitty friend (there was no doubt Jimin could do better), Yoongi didn’t think he could take it. Leftover guilt and embarrassment still made him squirm every time he thought about Jimin.

It was for the best, really. They’d just go back to how they’d been before, existing on each other’s periphery, tenuously connected by Hoseok and his dance crew. ‘Let’s be friends’ didn’t actually have to mean ‘Let’s be friends’. That was a no-brainer to anyone with half a brain.

He didn’t want to see Jimin again. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yeah, right.

-----

Yoongi stood outside the dance studio on Monday, holding Hoseok’s coffee as he waited, admittedly too much of a wuss to go inside and possibly run into Jimin. The effort went to waste, as Jimin chose to leave through that particular side exit that day.

He looked at Yoongi, at the coffee cup in his hand. Yoongi held his breath. He knew what this looked like, couldn’t pretend otherwise. He’d always come up to fetch Hoseok and say hello, never waited outside.

But Jimin merely smiled (forced, no crinkles) before offering him a little wave goodbye, and went on his way. 

-----

The next time he waited at a different exit. He hadn’t planned on picking up Hoseok at all, but Hoseok had borrowed Yoongi’s speakers and Yoongi needed them back. He gave it twenty minutes or so, enough time to be certain everyone else had left before he went up.

Apparently, Park Jimin had the same idea. He appeared suddenly through the door of the emergency stairs, scaring the shit out of Yoongi. The undignified yelp that came from him was going to haunt him until the end of his days.

Jimim blinked, hand frozen on the earbud he was pressing into his left ear. His red beanie was crooked, as if he’d been in a hurry. Tentatively, he asked, “Are you... okay?”

Yoongi decided it was time to just start meeting Hoseok somewhere else, instead.

-----

Yoongi ordered a beanie online. In his favourite colour (black), from his favourite brand (Puma). He was shipped a red beanie, identical to one he’d seen pretty often lately. He was so disgusted he couldn’t bring himself to pack the thing back up and return it.

-----

Yoongi went to have chinese food with Namjoon after a jam session. He usually didn’t bother with the fortune cookie that came at the end of the meal, but something possessed him that day to crack the stupid thing open.

Okay to look at past and future. Just don’t stare. Lucky Color: Red; Lucky Item: Hat; Lucky Number: 24

-----

The following Tuesday night Yoongi walked into the restaurant a block away from Jin’s to pick up his usual order of curry rice. He found Jimin standing at the counter, paying for what looked like enough takeaway to feed ten people. He couldn’t even carry it all.

“Hey,” he said awkwardly, when Jimin turned around with his bags and saw Yoongi gaping at him. The owner gave him a dirty look - he’d stopped mid-entry, keeping the door open and letting the cold air in.

He continued to hold the door open. Jimin startled, realising Yoongi was waiting for him, and brushed past with a mumbled, “Thanks.”

His hair was wet. He’d clearly come from practice. They stood outside, regarding each other cautiously.

“Is that for Jin?” Yoongi asked, breaking the silence.

“Yeah.”

He wondered who had invited Jimin, and cursed himself for changing his mind at the last minute. Yoongi had texted Jin earlier, saying he was probably not going to make it to tonight’s get-together. Jimin was clearly meant to be his replacement.

“I’ll help,” Yoongi said, reaching out to take half the bags from Jimin’s hands.

“No, I can carry it,” Jimin insisted, pulling away.

They struggled for a minute, even though it was stupid, until Jimin realised Yoongi wasn’t going to give up. He relented. With grim satisfaction, Yoongi clenched his fingers around his hard-won fast-food and grunted, “Let’s go.”

It wasn’t until he started off in the direction of Jin’s apartment that he questioned what he was doing, exactly, and why. 

Jimin hesitated. Yoongi wasn’t sure if he would follow. He was considering slowing down when he heard footsteps behind him. The five minute walk seemed to take three times as long, and Yoongi was aware of Jimin’s eyes boring holes into the back of his head the entire time.

In front of the elevators, Jimin finally spoke. Politely. “So… how are you?”

“Fine,” said Yoongi, shoving his free hand into his pocket. He could do polite. Sort of. He added, “You?”

“I’m fine, too. Thanks.”

They rode the elevator together in silence. Yoongi wondered why he hadn’t just turned tail the second he saw Park Jimin’s backside. The excruciatingly awkward atmosphere nearly killed him.

Jin answered the door, wearing a bright yellow apron with ruffles. His smile turned quizzical at the edges when he saw two people instead of one waiting to be let in. “Jimin… Yoongi… you came together.”

“We met downstairs,” Yoongi said, with an irritated scowl. Trust Jin to say the exact thing to make things even more awkward. “At the food place.”

“I thought you weren’t coming.” Jin raised an eyebrow. “You said you were busy.”

Yoongi shrugged, pushing past him into the living room. He wasn’t going to stay, but he’d brazen it out for a bit.

“Good thing we ordered extra curry,” Jin said, ruffling the back of Jimin’s head. It was a very friendly gesture. Too friendly. Yoongi hadn’t realised just how friendly Jin and Jimin were. He thought they barely knew one another, but apparently he was wrong. “Thanks, kiddo. Namjoon’s in the shower, and Hobi will be here soon. Make yourself at home. Yoongi, you want a beer?”

Apparently Jin had not gotten the memo: ‘friends’ was just a face-saving spin on the classic ‘have a nice life’. Obviously Yoongi did not want a beer. Obviously Yoongi was going to get his ass out of there. He shook his head, vehemently.

“Get a beer for yourself.” Jin made a two-finger ‘come here’ gesture at Yoongi.

Yoongi followed him into the kitchen. “I don’t want a beer.”

Jin pried open the lid of the pot he had simmering on the stove and looked down at it thoughtfully.

For fuck’s sake. Yoongi demanded, “What?”

Jin ignored him. He grabbed a spatula from a drawer and returned to the stove, as if to stir the contents of his pot. Without warning, he spun and whacked Yoongi on the arm with the flat end of the wooden utensil.

Ow. “What the fuck!”

“Now you can run away,” Jin said. “I know you’re planning to. I just needed to hit you for it first.”

“What the fuck,” Yoongi repeated.

“Go. Shoo. Jimin’s more fun than you are, anyway.”

Yoongi bristled, but chose not to engage. For some messed up reason Jin was trying to start a fight and he wasn’t in the mood. Instead he asked, “Why the fuck are you cooking when your newest boy toy just brought up a fuckton of curry?”

Jin ignored that too. “Go now.”

“You were my friend first,” he retorted, which was probably the worst parting jab he’d ever uttered in his entire life. He was a bit ashamed, to tell the truth.

Jin levelled the spatula at him. “Negative heart points, Min Yoongi. Don't be petty.”

-----

Okay. So he was petty. He was petty for a whole week’s worth of evenings spent at home sprawled on his bedroom floor penning angry lyrics while Eminem’s Bad Guy played on loop in the background. It wasn’t as cathartic as he’d hoped, and the results were even worse: in the time he had spent avoiding Park Jimin, Park Jimin had infiltrated his circle and stolen all his friends.

He glared at Jin, knowing Jin was behind this even though he had sworn up and down he wasn’t involved in the bloody matchmaking schemes. Yoongi was sure this was a complete fucking lie now. What was the point of his being #2? Jin wasn’t helpful at all. Jin was clearly fucking trying to sabotage him. He was going to demote Jin. Again.

Park Jimin sat on Jin’s sofa, wii controller in hand, his face a mask of concentration. The theme song to Super Smash Bros filled the apartment. No one noticed Yoongi’s arrival, or they didn’t care.

Except Jimin. Jimin’s head jerked up when Yoongi walked in, his eyes darting from the screen to fall on Yoongi’s dismayed expression. He smiled, apprehensively, and lifted one hand in greeting.

Yoongi nodded coolly as his inner ten year old reared it’s head, the way it had all the times his mom wouldn’t let him play the piano until he did his homework, or when she wouldn’t sign his permission slip to go to basketball camp because he was fickle and refused to continue with his piano lessons. If not for his carefully cultivated cool persona, Yoongi would have thrown a tantrum. Right on the ugly carpet beneath Jin’s ugly coffee table.

Instead he stood in the corner, sulking, and watched them play. He grew more and more incensed as he did so, but for a totally different reason. Namely, the fact that Jin was currently wiping the floor with Jimin’s ass. Jin. Jin who couldn’t beat a five year old at Connect-Four. Unbelievable.

“Oh my god,” said Yoongi, when he just couldn’t take it anymore. “Give me that-”

It was clear the Universe was trying to tell him something. He usually didn’t listen, but it was hard to miss the point when it kept smacking him in the face. There might as well be a message written in the sky that spelled out Be Friends With Park Jimin!!!

Yoongi resigned himself to the Universe’s will, and leapt in head first. He was tired of fighting it. He pushed Hoseok out of the way and plucked the controller out of Jimin’s hands. (His hands were tiny, like doll hands, no wonder he couldn’t fucking play properly.)

“Pay attention,” Yoongi ordered.

“Um…”

“Small movements,” he instructed, “Don’t wear yourself out. Sensitivity is better with slower gestures, it’s a crappy controller.”

Jimin blinked, and then nodded, taking the controller back cautiously.

“Kick his ass,” said Yoongi. “He has astigmatism, his peripheral vision is shit. Attack from the side.”

“Oi. Spectators should keep their mouths shut,” said Jin. Then, sarcastically, “This is a video game. That doesn’t even make sense.”

Maybe not, but it worked. Four rounds later, Jimin kicked ass. He looked so pleased with himself for winning, Yoongi couldn’t help but bestow his approval. “Good job.”

The crinkly eyes came out. Yoongi cleared his throat and took possession of the controller. He jerked his chin at Hoseok, the only opponent in the room who was worth battling (he still sucked, though, compared to Yoongi). Hoseok grinned, taking up the challenge.

With a deceptively casual tone, Jin asked, “Jimin, who do you think is gonna win?”

“Eh?” Jimin looked from Yoongi to Hoseok, eyes wide. “Um-”

“Come on, baby,” said Hoseok, “You know I’m gonna kick his ass.”

“In your dreams.”

Jimin said, slowly, “I think… Yoongi is going to win.”

“The betrayal,” said Hoseok mournfully. “After I raised you like my own flesh and blood-”

Jimin looked worried (oh, the naivete) until he heard Jin snicker. He relaxed, and said staunchly, “No, I think Yoongi is gonna win.”

“Follow your heart,” said Jin, eyes dancing. Ugh. He put a hand on Hobi’s shoulder. “How about we make a bet? If Yoongi wins, I’ll buy you dinner. If Hobi wins, you buy me dinner.”

“Deal,” said Jimin.

There was no competition. Yoongi lured Hoseok into a sense of false security, letting him get in a few blows (just because he always did) before delivering an uppercut thrust that sent Hoseok’s character flying. Everyone groaned in unison. Hoseok crumpled to the ground, as if dying. Yoongi did a victory lap around his prone, dramatic ass before throwing his controller at Jin, who caught it with a smirk.

“Meat, meat, meat,” Jimin sang, joining Yoongi in his celebratory dance. He accepted Jimin’s exuberant high-five as his due, and felt an answering grin tug at his mouth when Jimin gave him the biggest, widest smile ever.

An hour later, Jin presented Jimin with a Quarter Pounder and Large Fries, much to Yoongi’s disgust. “You cheapskate!” Yoongi said scathingly, outraged by the meagre reward his efforts had amounted to.

But Jimin just laughed and made Hoseok beg on his knees for some of his fries. Yoongi felt a brief flash of jealousy, but it was more out of habit than anything else. There was nothing going on there, he knew - Hoseok and Jimin were just cut from the same cloth.

It was fine. They played several more rounds. Jimin was relaxed and giggly and insisted he was on Yoongi’s team the whole night because Yoongi’s team was the winning team. He was right. Everyone had a good time. Despite himself, so did Yoongi.

He was in bed, drifting off to sleep when the text messages came:

-Yoongi thx for winning! I got free food thx to you :) :) :)

-No prob. just mcd’s tho no need

-ahhh don’t tell anyone but i haven't had a burger in two years!!!

-wtf park

-i’m a dancer, my body is my temple. i can’t eat stuff like that

-thats the saddest thing i've heard all month

-lol. nah i’m used to it now. i better go to sleep, got class in the morning. goodnight~~~

-night.

-----

A week later, Park Jimin was still texting him. On the regular. As in, everyday.

good morning Yoongi! gonna rain later, don’t forget to bring an umbrella~ :) :) :)

Yoongi was wary. He was willing to accept that they were going to be hanging out more frequently now, but he wasn’t sure about this new development. He wondered if perhaps Jimin was using the pretext of ‘friends’ as a gateway to more.

It worried him until Jin told him with a roll of the eyes, “Don’t be stupid. He sends everyone a morning text. That’s why he has two hearts and you’ve got none.”

“He’s pretty desperate for friends,” Yoongi said, trying to decide if he was ashamed or offended. Maybe a bit of both.

“A monster like you wouldn’t understand,” Jin replied, showing Yoongi his chat history with Jimin. The window was horrifically pink and their messages seemed to be conducted exclusively in heart emojis. “I think it’s very big of him. Jimin is an angel.”

Right. Jimin was just a goddamned sweetheart without a nefarious bone in his body. His goodnight texts were as sweet as his good morning ones, full of smiley faces and silly emojis. Yoongi didn’t know how to respond most of the time beyond a lackluster 'good morning’ or 'sleep well’ but Jimin seemed satisfied with those.

“You’re lucky. When was the last time you made a new friend?”

Not since 2001. That was besides the point, though. There was no doubt Jin had adopted Jimin into their group. Yoongi wouldn’t be able to dodge him even if he wanted to.

“Yoongi.”

“What?”

“Don’t make me smack you again.”

He was beginning to regret telling Jin what had happened (minus the part about Jimin correctly guessing the reason for why he’d been rejected). He’d only done it because he needed a subjective opinion on the situation. Park Jimin was uncharted territory, and he’d had a weak moment.

“Look, you’re making it a way bigger thing than it has to be. Just be nice,” Jin advised, taking pity on him at last. “And stop being so full of yourself. He had a crush on you, so what? People get over their crushes. Jimin’s nice - I like him, you like him, so just go with the flow.”

-----

As much as he hated admitting that Jin was right, Yoongi knew he’d been a dick. He was bad at this stuff. He didn't know how to navigate interpersonal human relationships. He also didn’t really care about making new friends. He already had enough. But since there was no avoiding it this time, he figured he might as well make an exception and try.

It was easier than expected. Jimin fit into the group readily, filling a role none of them had even noticed was empty. Namjoon was thrilled to have someone new and more importantly: willing to unleash his endless stream of movie and music recommendations to. He lent Jimin a stack of novels that no one else would touch with a ten-foot pole. There was a sweetness to Jimin that had Jin and Hoseok doting on him like he was the little brother neither of them had. Yoongi didn’t feel the compulsion to do the same, but he did start thinking that maybe, just maybe, Friend #4 was already in the picture...

It helped, of course, that Jimin liked his music. Yoongi wasn’t above having his ego stroked.

Now that he wasn’t avoiding Jimin anymore, he was free to visit the dance studio whenever he felt like it. On a particularly boring afternoon, in the midst of a severe creative block, Yoongi took a break and went to seek out Hoseok for a drink and inspiration.

Yoongi found the practice room empty save for one person, sitting with his back to the door, phone in hand. He was listening to something through his earbuds, something that he was clearly very into. Even though Yoongi couldn’t hear it, he recognized the words that came from Jimin’s mouth.

Jimin rapped along, attention completely focused on the lyrics. He wasn’t half-bad, Yoongi decided. He had rhythm - of course he did, he was a dancer - and although his tone was more suited to singing, it sounded good. Fresh. He was pitching his voice too low though. If the beat was slightly faster, maybe...

At the end of the song, Jimin fell backwards, flat on his back. He looked happy, both eyes closed. Yoongi came forward slowly and silently, waiting for Jimin to become aware he wasn’t alone. A few seconds passed before he finally blinked his eyes open, took in the sight of Yoongi looming over him, and-

Jimin jerked into a sitting position, face beet red. He squeaked, “How long have you been standing there-?!”

Yoongi smirked. “Not that long.”

“You could have said something!”

Yoongi let him squirm. It was cute. He backed away to sit in the one empty chair in the room, leaned an elbow against the arm, and propped his face up against his palm. “You really are a fan, huh?”

Jimin’s cheeks puffed out. “I said I was.”

“Yeah, you did,” said Yoongi, feeling unaccountably warm. A sense of good will permeated him. “You’re not bad, you know? You ever sing?”

“Nah,” Jimin shook his head. “I’m terrible at singing. I can’t rap. Can’t do any music stuff, really. I can dance, but that’s it.”

He didn’t believe it, but clearly Jimin did.

-----

-god i want to kill myself!!!

-why?

-sorry!! that wasn’t meant for you!!

-sorry!!

-pls just ignore

-what

-what’s the matter?

-you can’t leave me hanging now

-its nothing

-what happened

-nothing… i’m just frustrated, i guess

-kept messing up

-hobi’s nice about it but i think he’s annoyed

-you don’t know him at all if you think that's true

-yeah. you’re right… sorry >.<

-----

Despite what Jimin said in his texts, he seemed as close as ever with Hoseok. Yoongi couldn’t even imagine Hoseok getting annoyed with Jimin.

They were acting weird, though. Unannounced, they invaded his apartment together, waking him up far too early on a Saturday morning. Yoongi let them in, too groggy to even care that he was wearing nothing but boxers and a ratty tank top while Park Jimin sat in his kitchen eating all of his cereal.

“Just ask,” Hoseok said eventually, pushing Jimin forward. He had a smirk playing on his lips that made Yoongi wary. It felt too familiar.

What was this? he wondered, waiting for Jimin to speak.

Jimin licked his lips nervously, both hands straying to his beanie, adjusting it before he opened his mouth. “There’s… this competition on Instagram. For, um, dancers. We have to upload a video of ourselves dancing… I wanna enter, but one of the rules is it has to be set to underground music…”

Yoongi relaxed. He kept his expression blank.

“So, I was wondering…”

“What?”

“Well, you… make music.” Jimin faltered. “As you know, I’m a fan… and I might’ve… well… started doing a bit of choreo to some of it-”

“Without my consent?”

Jimin’s face dropped like a sack of bricks. It was hilarious.Yoongi had to fight back a smile. Behind Jimin, Hoseok’s eyes danced. He’d caught onto Yoongi’s joke.

“I- it’s not official or anything! I never recorded anything!”

“Which song?” asked Yoongi, keeping his face stern.

Jimin deflated. “Tony Montana,” he muttered, in a voice so small Yoongi could barely hear him.

“Huh.” Interesting. It was the track he’d caught Jimin rapping to. Yoongi crossed his arms over his chest, mulling over the song choice. "What’s the prize if you win?”

“A really expensive sound system,” chimed in Hoseok. “And Jimin’s got a really good chance, he’s got tons of followers and they’ll all vote for him.”

Very interesting.

“Show me,” Yoongi said abruptly, and sat down on the sofa.

Hoseok laughed, unable to hold it back any longer, and joined him. He slung an arm over Yoongi’s shoulder and thumped his other hand against his thigh, chanting, “Show us! Show us! Show us!”

Jimin gaped at them, slow on the uptake.

“Oh, do you need music?” Hoseok slapped Yoongi on the arm. “Start rapping, Agust D!”

As if. Yoongi pulled his phone out of his pocket. Despite the confusion still showing on his face, Jimin automatically began moving to the beat as soon as Yoongi hit play on the song in question. It wasn’t a track he’d thought you could dance to, but as Hoseok had once said, if it’s music…

…Jimin could dance to it.

Wow.

Yoongi snapped his mouth shut after a minute or so of silent staring. Hoseok looked proud, as if Jimin were a prized pet he had trained to perform tricks. He nudged Yoongi in the ribs and grinned. See?

“Okay,” he said, making sure not to sound too impressed. “You can use my song. As long as you credit me.”

Jimin’s face lit up. He bounced, excitedly, “-Of course!”

“Told ya he’d say yes,” Hoseok said, fondly patting the side of  Yoongi’s face. Yoongi let him get away with it - anyone else would have been begging for mercy. Like Jin, Yoongi had an aversion to other people touching his face. It was less because of germs ('skincare is pointless if your grubby hands give me pimples!’) and more because he was a grouchy touch-phobic loner at heart.

Jimin watched them for a moment, expression inscrutable. Then he said brightly, “I’m gonna go practice! See you guys later!”

And he was gone.

 

Chapter Text

“I have good news and bad news,” Hoseok announced. He looked tired as hell but was still as dramatic as ever- “Which do you want first?”

“The good news,” said Yoongi blandly, accepting a much-needed afternoon caffeine boost from the barista behind the counter. He took a sip and scalded his tongue, but holy hell was it ever worth it. Hoseok was so busy these days it was a miracle he’d had time to come out to grab a coffee. Yoongi didn’t want to bother him, but he’d done it anyway - he was starting to get cabin fever from holing up in his apartment.

Hoseok waited until Yoongi was paying full attention before he continued. “Jimin made it to the second round of that contest he entered using your song. The company that’s sponsoring it wants a follow-up clip for judging.”

“Yeah?” Yoongi was pleased to hear it. He’d noticed the increase in hits on his soundcloud - it was the only online presence he had. He didn’t tweet. He didn’t facebook. He definitely didn’t vine, whatever the fuck that was. Jimin, though. Jimin was pretty popular online.

(Yoongi knew this for a fact. Out of curiosity, he’d taken Hoseok’s ipad last week under the pretense of needing to look something up and snooped around until he’d found Jimin’s profile. Right away he’d noticed the absurd amount of digits that made up the number of Jimin’s followers. He’d also noticed some of the followers on that list had checkmarks next to their usernames. He knew what that meant. Celebrities followed Park Jimin on social media. No big deal. Then he’d scrolled down and looked at the pictures. Most were fairly mundane selfies - Jimin liked to pose with coffee cups and funny plush animals and his red beanie was featured in half the photos. What they all had in common was a disgustingly high cuteness factor, enough to make anyone retch on their crappy pre-packed supermarket tuna sandwich. Hoseok had wandered back at that point, nosing over Yoongi’s shoulder asking what he was looking at. Yoongi had proceeded to rapidly force-quit the app and then fling the ipad away, much to Hoseok’s shouty indignance.)

Hoseok said, “I think he might win it, for real. The video he uploaded was sick.”

(Yoongi was going to have to find a way to crack Hoseok’s password. He wasn’t allowed near Hoseok’s ipad anymore and he wanted to see for himself.)

“What’s the bad news?”

Hoseok grimaced. “Jimin’s injured and can’t perform at our showcase this weekend.”

Yoongi paused with his lips on the rim of his coffee cup. He’d known something was off. Jimin’s texts had been curt yesterday - just a simple “good night yoongi” in the evening, bare bones enough to raise both of Yoongi’s eyebrows. Jimin normally sent a novel before bedtime. When the follow-up morning text didn’t arrive until well after 1 PM, he’d been sure something was Very Wrong but hadn’t figured out a circumspect (read: undetected) way to find out what it was yet.

“He busted his ankle doing a spin at practice.”

“Oh?”

“He’s putting on a brave front, but I know he’s bummed about missing the performance. To top it off, he’s probably really embarrassed. A crew from out of town came by to visit us, so we had a dance battle- just for fun, y’know? Jimin was trying to impress them, but...”

Ah. So that was it.

“He’ll be fine in a few days,” Hoseok said reassuringly. As if Yoongi needed reassuring. He wasn’t, like, concerned. Not more than any decent human being with human being feelings towards other fellow human beings would feel. The appropriate amount. Which was good, it proved he wasn’t a sociopath - a sentiment expressed on various occasions throughout Yoongi’s lifetime, by friends and family and strangers alike.

“We’re scrambling to find someone to cover his parts,” Hoseok sighed. “It’s bad timing. I hope we can still make it into prelims without him.”

Yoongi didn’t like his tone. Hoseok was rarely negative. Was Jimin that integral to the dance crew? He put his hand on the back of Hoseok’s neck and squeezed the tight muscles there.  “You will. I know you will.”

Hoseok smiled and pressed his head back against the palm of Yoongi’s hand. The hairs on the nape of his neck were soft and tickly. Yoongi breathed in, tried not to be obvious as he savoured the feeling of Hoseok leaning against him.

“I wish I had the time to drop by and check on him,” Hoseok said, shaking his head. “Maybe Jin can.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Yoongi agreed, returning to the present. He squeezed Hoseok’s neck again, massaging it, and Hoseok sighed with gratefulness. He looked at Yoongi like he wanted to say something, but held back. Yoongi could guess what it was.

They parted ways, their allotted window of roughly one hour to rendezvous for coffee already over. Yoongi stayed in the cafe, laptop open before him. He tried going back to work but couldn’t focus. Hoseok’s nervous energy had rubbed off on him. Yoongi pulled out his cell phone, tapped a finger on the screen, and then sent out a quick message.

-how’s your foot?

Jimin responded almost instantly. -fine?

-dont play dumb. hoseok said you fucked it up

-no no!!! i just sprained my ankle :/ no biggie tho

-ok.

-can u walk

-how bad is it?

He paused, and added, - jin wants to know.

-he’s worried

-i’m fine dont worry!!!

-jin’s worried

-----

“Oh,” said Jin over the phone, sounding distracted. There was a lot of background noise, pots and pans banging and the sound of people yelling over one another. Yoongi could barely hear Jin say, “I thought it wasn’t serious.”

Yoongi frowned. “Hoseok wants to know if you’re gonna-”

“NO, DON’T PUT THE CHEESE IN THERE-” Jin yelled into the receiver, nearly giving Yoongi a fucking heart attack. “Oh my god, I swear, I’m gonna- sorry, what? What were you saying?”

“Are you-”

“FUCK!”

Yoongi held his phone at arm’s length and glared at it. When it seemed safe, he pulled it back to his ear and demanded, “Okay, what the fuck is happening?”

“Catering is happening,” Jin said grimly. “The underbelly of the beast. It’s not all roses and fried chicken and cupcake pyramids - yeah, fuck off, I’ve been on the phone for two seconds-” Foul-mouthed Jin was a rarity and only emerged in moments of high stress. It was a bad time to be calling him. Yoongi sighed. Jin sighed, too, deep and heavy. “I have to go, Yoongi. What do you need? Make it fast or call me later. Preferably once I’m finished with this hellish event-”

“Hoseok wants to know,” Yoongi said quickly, before Jin hung up, “-if you’re gonna go visit Jimin. To make sure he’s okay.”

“I can’t,” Jin replied flatly. “No time. Not today. Maybe day after tomorrow.” Something crashed heavily in the background, and Jin swore again. “Can’t Hobi go?”

“He’s busy,” Yoongi said. “Showcase, remember?”

“Too bad.”

“Yeah.”

“Listen-”

“-Should I go, then?”

There was a pause. Jin asked, “Really?”

Someone should. It seemed bad not to. Right? Jimin was their friend now. Right.

“Yeah. Text me his address.”

“You’re serious?”

“Just text it to me.” He scowled at his phone as though Jin could see it. Jin couldn’t, but the principle was the same.

“Okay,” Jin said, and then let loose a flurry of more cursing. Yoongi ended the call, and waited to receive Jimin’s address.

-----

Friend #4 answered the door wearing precisely (1) open robe, (1) pair of boxers, and (1) bunny slipper on his left foot. His right foot, the source of all his current problems, was uncovered save for a white compression bandage. It wasn’t the only thing that was, uh, bare.

“Yoongi!” The sound of his name made Yoongi snap his eyes up from Jimin’s ridiculously sculpted abdominal muscles to his face. “Hey!” Jimin awkwardly pulled the edges of his robe together, covering up his stomach as he asked, “What are you doing here?”

Yoongi was a little sad to see the abs go. He wasn’t interested in Jimin, not like that, but it didn’t mean he didn’t appreciate eye candy when it was in front of him.

“Jin was too busy to bring you this,” he lifted the bag of chips and water (only nourishing food that was good for injuries, obviously), “So I’ve come.”

There was both surprise and pleasure in Jimin’s expression. “Thanks.”

Yoongi followed him inside. Jimin’s apartment had an open living space concept - in other words, it was tiny, the kitchen and living room basically in the same room, barely separated by a free-standing island floating smack dab in the middle of the place.

“Sorry,” Jimin said, “It’s really messy, I can’t tidy up when I’m like this…” He hobbled, wincing, towards the sofa. Yoongi wasn’t sure if he should be helping Jimin, or something- his hand jerked an inch towards Jimin’s elbow, but Jimin was already out of reach.

“You okay?”

“Yeah. I’m fine-” Jimin sat with a huff, as if winded. His robe gaped, revealing those abs again.

Yoongi looked away because it wasn’t polite to ogle someone who was injured. He looked at Jimin’s bandaged ankle instead and remarked skeptically, “Doesn’t look fine. That looks pretty swollen.”

“The swelling’s gone down a lot since yesterday,” Jimin insisted. “Really, I’m fine.”

“Shouldn’t you be icing it?” Yoongi asked. Weren’t sprained ankles supposed to be treated with cold packs? Or was it heat? He tried to remember which one it was, but couldn’t recall.

“Yeah,” said Jimin, wincing slightly as he provided the answer Yoongi sought- “We ran out of ice. My roommate’s just gone to the store to buy an ice pack, he’ll be back soon.”

It hadn’t occurred to Yoongi that Jimin might have someone he lived with - but of course he did, he was a student and rent wasn’t free. By rights, though, this place ought to be cheap, considering it was roughly the size of a postage stamp. Smaller even, than Yoongi’s apartment, and he lived by himself. Two people couldn’t possibly live comfortably together here. Still. Jin would be glad to hear that someone was around to take care of Jimin. (Yoongi had his doubts. Judging from the look of the mess in the apartment - clothes on the floor, dirty dishes piled high in the sink - said roommate wasn't doing a very good job. Whatever.)

“I thought you didn’t have any friends,” Yoongi said. It came out sounding a bit - well, off. He had no idea why he’d said it.

Jimin blinked. He looked confused. “What?”

“You’re new, you don’t know many people, blah blah blah. Or do you not like this roomie?”

“Oh. That’s- well. Jungkook’s cool. Kind of- well, standoffish. I think he’s just shy. Now that I think about it, I’m not really sure if we’re friends or not…” Jimin looked at Yoongi closely, as if trying to glean something from his face. He perked up, and said, “Well, it’s okay. I have you now. You’re definitely friend #1!”

Yoongi blinked, taken aback by the familiar terminology. He asked, slowly, “... What about Hoseok?”

“Oh,” said Jimin blithely, “He’s #2.”

“That doesn’t seem fair. He met you first.”

“It’s not about who came first,” Jimin replied firmly, astonishing Yoongi further. “Hobi can’t be #1, he’s too grabby. I’m tired of being pinched! I’m going to go on a diet so my cheeks stop being chubby.”

Yoongi snorted. “That is not going to stop him. And don’t diet. I can’t live knowing someone with your abs is dieting. It’s just too depressing.”

Jimin laughed. The sound was nice. His eyes even crinkled. Yoongi relaxed.

He was about to ask Jimin to show him the clip he’d entered into that contest when the front door slammed open. A male voice, pitched deep in the way typical to young men trying to make themselves seem older, called out- “I’m back!”

The voice belonged to a boy who was probably a couple of years younger than Jimin. He was taller, though, and had big eyes that kind of bulged when he swept into the room and took in the sight of Jimin and Yoongi together.

“What are you doing out of bed? I told you to stay there! You stood up?” He sounded angry. “I told you not to!”

“I had to answer the door,” Jimin explained patiently. “It’s okay. I keep telling everybody, I’m fine.”

The overgrown boy turned his glare on Yoongi. Yoongi returned it, twofold. Jimin’s roommate blinked, as if he’d never met a person who hadn’t cowered before his prissy ass. Yoongi disliked him on sight. The feeling was evidently mutual.

“Did you get the ice pack?” Jimin asked, looking hopefully at the pharmacy bag in his roommate’s hand.

“Yeah.” He shoved the bag at Jimin. Aggressively. “Here.”

“Thanks.” Jimin regarded the contents, surprised by what he saw. “Oh. You bought… so many.”

His roommate shrugged.

“I only needed one-”

“The woman at the shop got them out for me, so I bought them all.”

“Thanks Kookie. Can you put them in the fridge?”

Kookie? Yoongi wrinkled his nose. Kookie caught the expression, and glowered. “Who are you?” he demanded roughly.

“This is my friend Yoongi,” Jimin answered, quickly making introductions. “This is Jungkook. My roommate.”

They shook hands, reluctantly. Yoongi thought he might need to get his crushed fingers checked out by a doctor afterwards. Fucking brat. He wouldn’t give Kookie the satisfaction, though, and carefully kept the discomfort from appearing on his face. Not that Yoongi gave a shit about showing off his masculinity. He didn’t care about looking manly, he was comfortable in his own skin and wasn’t into testosterone-driven pissing contests. But Kookie clearly had deep seated self-esteem issues and needed to take them out on other people.

Jimin sighed, seemingly unaware of the tension in the room. Or maybe he was just used to Kookie circling every person he met with his leg up. Wistfully, he muttered, “I hope it all goes well tomorrow.”

“Hoseok won’t lose to anyone,” Yoongi replied with complete faith. He meant it in a good way, in a “everything will be fine, don’t worry” way, but the words only left Jimin looking even more forlorn. Yoongi berated himself inwardly for not thinking before speaking. He hadn’t meant for it to come off as dismissive… like Jimin wasn’t as important or crucial to the dance crew as Hoseok was.

Jimin sighed again. “I wish I could go watch at least, but the doctor said I shouldn’t put any stress on my foot. Stupid  standing-room only.”

“Whatever,” Kookie said imperiously. “It’s not like you’re doing a solo or anything, didn’t someone punk you out of that?”

Jimin winced, though it wasn’t clear whether that was because his ankle was bothering him or if he was embarrassed by Jungkook’s bald statement when the person who had “punked” him of said solo was sitting stiffly on the sofa next to him.

“Anyway-” Jimin’s roommate threw Yoongi a superior glance before adding, “I’ll be here all weekend with you.”

-----

-i think there's a problem

-what

-yoongi i'm busy

-jimin has a roommate

-stop texting me. seriously

-no but

-there’s sth wrong with that guy

-bye

-----

“I’m telling you,” Yoongi said between gritted teeth the next morning, “He’s a fucking psycho. Seriously.”

“I just finished the shift from hell, you demon,” Jin sounded tired. His voice emerged from under a cocoon of fluffy white blankets, muffled and groggy. “ And I’ve only had five hours of sleep, so get the hell out of my house-”

Yoongi yanked the comforter from Jin’s bed and flung it to the floor. Jin hissed, jerking like a fish who had been caught - or maybe like a vampire who had been exposed to direct sunlight. His freakishly long-fingered hands came up to cover his face as he yelled, “Min Yoongi! You’re dead!”

“You can try,” Yoongi told him blandly, “But I doubt it. Remember the time you broke your finger?” Jin’s handsome features turned Medusa-like, but Yoongi wasn’t cowed. He repeated, “Get up.”

“No.”

“Get up or I’ll remove all the labels on all the little thingies on your spice rack.”

Jin rolled out of bed and snapped ferociously, “Okay! Fine! I’m up, get out of the way so I can go to the fucking bathroom, please-

-----

“We don’t want any,” Jungkook said upon opening the door to Jin’s (fake) beaming face. He tried to close it again, but Yoongi slapped a hand onto the door and pushed. Jungkook scowled. “Oh. It’s you.”

“Hello,” said Jin pleasantly, “You must be Jimin’s roommate. I’m Jin. You probably know Yoongi, he was here yesterday. Is Jimin home?”

Of course he was. Where the hell would he go with a fucked up ankle? Yoongi pushed harder on the door, forcing Jungkook to step back and let them in. Jimin wasn’t in the living room/kitchen, but Yoongi could hear the sound of water running behind a closed door at the end of the hall and guessed that Jimin was currently taking a shower. He was right. A few seconds later, the water was shut off and Jimin’s voice called out- “Kookie! Can you-”

Jungkook sprinted down the hall without a word, breaking the silent staring contest he’d been holding single-handedly against both Yoongi and Jin.

To say Jimin was startled by the sight of three grown men crowding into the bathroom doorway would be an understatement. He was wide-eyed and half-naked and dripping. His gaze locked onto Yoongi. Yoongi stared back, struggling to keep his eyes from dipping down below Jimin’s neck. (There was a towel around his waist, but that wasn’t the point.)

“Hello Jimin,” said Jin cheerfully, poking his head over Yoongi’s shoulder. “I’m here!”

“Hi Jin,” said Jimin, as Jungkook hooked his arm around Jimin’s middle and helped him lift his leg over the bathtub rim. He did it with minimum effort - clearly Jungkook was a jock. He probably worked out at the gym. It was the worst waste of time Yoongi could think of.

Jimin got dressed (Yoongi looked away, but he didn’t think Jin or Jungkook did. Fucking rude.) and everyone traipsed back into the living room. Jimin got the seat of honour on the sofa while Jin, Jungkook and Yoongi stood around awkwardly.

“Thanks for coming,” Jimin said. His eyes flicked to Yoongi and he added shyly, “-again.”

Jin’s mouth twitched, but he refrained from comment. Good. Yoongi tamped down the itchy desire to either bolt from the room or punch Jin in the face. Fortunately he was able to control himself and did neither.

“I would’ve visited you yesterday, too,” Jin said, “But I had to work.”

“That’s okay!”

Something seemed to occur to Jimin. He looked up at Jungkook. “Hey, Kook, do you mind?”

“Mind what?”

“You know. We talked about this. When guests come over?”

Jungkook’s face defaulted into it’s natural factory setting: a scowl. “Fine. We only have water.”

“Water’s fine,” Jin said, giving him a smile. It wasn’t the smile he’d used earlier. This one was full-wattage, the kind of weapon he only unleashed when he meant business. It was flirty as fuck.

Jungkook stood, a bit dazed, and went to fetch the drinks.

“Really, though, thanks for coming by-”

“You already said that,” Jin told him, reaching over to ruffle Jimin’s damp hair. “You must’ve been lonely.”

“It just gets boring staying at home all day,” Jimin said ruefully, his eyes crinkling. “And yeah. Kinda lonely.”

“I’m here,” Jungkook said sullenly as he returned from the kitchen sink. He plonked two half-filled glasses of tap water onto the coffee table (which was actually a cheap storage ottoman. College living at it’s finest). “Am I not good enough?”

“No, that’s not what I meant-” Jimin said helplessly. He met Yoongi’s eyes briefly, and the look in them was one that was begging for help.

Jin came to the rescue. “I have an idea!” A bad feeling rose in Yoongi’s gut as Jin snapped his fingers, eyes gleaming. “We should have a party. You need cheering up. We’ll do it here, since you can’t get around, and Hoseok can join us after the showcase. He’ll want to cut loose and celebrate. Believe me, your foot won’t hurt once you’ve got five Bloody Mary’s in you.”

Jimin looked excited by the prospect, Jungkook did not. Jin made it worse by asking, “Can you drink, Jungkook?”

“Of course!” Jungkook said belligerently, as if challenging anyone to disagree. “I have really high alcohol tolerance!”

“I meant, are you underage?”

This seemed to outrage him even more. “I’m not underage!”

“OK. Good. Just checking,” said Jin, in the sort of pacifying tone pre-school teachers used on pissy toddlers. He went straight into Bossy Mode. “Everything’s settled then! Jimin, you lie here and relax and watch-” he grabbed the dvd remote and turned it on, “-One Piece-”

“Okay,” said Jimin happily.

“-while we get everything ready.” Jin turned to the others, rubbing his hands briskly. “Come on, you two, let’s go get supplies!”

Jungkook regarded him with a blank face. “Me?”

“You’ve got arms and legs,” Yoongi pointed out sarcastically. “You can walk to the store to buy a beer for your injured roommate.”

Jungkook opened and closed his mouth without saying a word. He looked at Jimin, who beamed back at him with a cheerful, “Yay! Thanks Kookie!”

-----

Jungkook set out, taking the lead.

“Um. I think it’s that way.” Jin pointed towards the other end of the street, where a giant supermarket clearly stood, eyebrow raised.

He turned around. “Oh, right.”

“Don’t you live here?” Yoongi asked.

There was no response, just a heavy glare. Jungkook confidently walked in the correct direction and promptly went right past the entrance. Jin snagged at his sleeve and said, “Over here-”

“Oh.” He pushed when the sign on the door said pull. Once inside, he stopped short. Jin bumped into him. “What’s that smell?”

“What smell?"

“It smells weird in here.”

Jin studied Jungkook carefully. “Is this… your first time in a supermarket, by any chance?”

“Yeah,” said Jungkook defensively. “So what?”

“Nothing,” said Jin, pasting a bright smile on his face. “That’s fun! Why don’t you go look around, then? See if there’s anything you wanna buy? We’ll grab the stuff for the party. Meet back here in a few, okay?”

“Okay,” said Jungkook. He looked a bit suspicious, but was clearly mollified by the smile. He walked off in the direction of the frozen meals and didn’t look back. Some people were just so easy when it came to pretty faces, Yoongi thought derisively. Jin’s tricks didn’t work on him at all, never had, not even once.

“What is wrong with that boy?” Jin asked, once he was out of earshot. He looked troubled.

“Hell if I know,” Yoongi replied. “He’s weird as fuck. I told you.”

“I wouldn’t say he’s weird. More like… helpless,” Jin amended. “Like… like an overgrown athletic baby with a really good haircut and expensive work boots. Where did Jimin find him?”

“Roommate wanted ad, I don’t fucking know?” Yoongi muttered. “Maybe he’s just messing with us.”

“What do you mean?” Jin idly ran his hands along a display of Granny Smith apples, and Yoongi suddenly remembered why it was he’d always refused to go grocery shopping with Jin, period. It was because Jin had a weird/gross habit of touching fruit in a questionable manner whenever he was within proximity of a produce aisle. Occupational hazard, he called it. The pervert. “Messing with us how?”

“Pretending,” Yoongi clarified darkly. “He’s gotta keep acting dumb cus he’s already got Jimin doing all the housework.”

“I don’t think that’s it.” Jin regarded Yoongi as he fingered a pineapple absently. “What’s with you, anyway? You’re being awfully protective and concerned about someone you were convinced you didn’t like. Weren’t you bent on avoiding Jimin forever?”

It was just as well that Yoongi didn’t get a chance to answer, because he didn’t have an answer to give. Jin cleared his throat suddenly and waved a hand in the air. “Ah, Jungkook, you’re back.”

Jungkook came towards them, holding a giant bag of ice. He looked satisfied. “Here. I got this.”

“What for?” Jin asked, perplexed.

“For the drinks.”

“We don’t need that much ice for drinks. And we can just make it at home. Plenty of time.”

Pause. “How?”

Pause. “... in the freezer?”

“Oh.”

Jin said gently, “Put it back. I’ll show you when we get home.” Behind Jungkook’s retreating back he made a face and mouthed 'OMG at Yoongi.

“Fucking ridiculous,” Yoongi muttered in response, not bothering to lower his volume. By much.

It was at least a full hour before they finished up at the supermarket. Jungkook kept finding random things on the shelves and saying stuff like, “Those bananas are tiny-” or “Why is that woman giving out little pieces of cut-up hot dogs?” Jin looked like he was torn between laughter and sheer amazement the entire time. Yoongi, on the other hand, was torn between wanting to kill himself and wanting to kill whoever had brought Jeon Jungkook into the world.

When they finally returned to Jimin’s domicile, Jin promptly led Jungkook into the kitchen to give him a demonstration on how to make ice cubes. As Jungkook looked on intently, Jin opened the fridge, removed the empty ice cube tray, poured water from a jug into the tray (“Not too full, water expands when it’s frozen, you don’t want it to all freeze into a giant block on top-”), and then slid it back onto the top shelf of the freezer compartment. “See? Easy.”

Yoongi left them to it and went to check on Jimin, who was not on the sofa anymore. The bedroom door was open, so Yoongi walked in. He scowled immediately at what he saw and demanded, “What the hell are you doing?”

Jimin, who was in the middle of emptying the contents of his wardrobe for some bizarre reason, turned around too quickly at the sound of Yoongi’s voice and jarred his injured foot. He hissed sharply and wobbled- shit. Yoongi leapt forward on instinct, seizing him by the arms to steady him. Jimin fell against him, releasing a breathy little oof! He was smaller than Yoongi (there was probably about one centimeter of difference between their heights, but it was a very important centimeter, thankyouverymuch) yet more sturdy, made of muscle and sinew. He felt disconcertingly solid against Yoongi’s chest.

“Thanks,” Jimin said breathlessly. His grateful smile wilted a little under the force of Yoongi’s unimpressed stare. He rubbed at his head sheepishly and explained, “Sorry. I was looking for my hat.”

“Your hat?”

“I don’t know where I put it.”

“What hat?”

“My red hat-”

Oh. Yoongi understood, then, what he was talking about. “The beanie? The one you wear all the time in your-” He cut himself off before he finished the end of that sentence. “The one you wear all the time?”

“Yeah.” Jimin peered into his wardrobe - now half-empty - with a woebegone expression. “I can’t find it anywhere.”

“What do you need it for?”

“I- don’t.” A slight blush broke over Jimin’s face, dusting his cheekbones with pink. He limped to his bed, and sat down. The mattress springs creaked - it was old and a twin and barely big enough for Jimin. “I just wish I could find it.”

Yoongi waited a beat before asking, “When was the last time you wore it?”

“The day before I did this to myself - ,” he replied, making a pouty face at his leg. “I was running late and ended up forgetting it at home. Figures.”

“Mm.” It was as close to sounding sympathetic as Yoongi could manage. He looked at the small mountain of clothes on the floor and noticed something out of the corner of his eye. Something buried beneath an untidy stack of folded jeans-

“You found it!” Jimin cried in delight, as Yoongi bent and fished the red beanie out. He threw it across the room towards its owner.

“Thank you!” he said fervently, clutching it to his chest. Relief was evident on his face. He patted the clearly precious thing and grinned. “It’s my lucky hat. Helped me through all my exams. I got into my dance program thanks to this hat.”

It was more likely that Jimin had gotten into his dance program thanks to his extraordinary talent, but Yoongi let it slide. Jimin was always denying his good qualities, no point in trying to convince him otherwise. He changed the subject to a more pressing matter.

“What’s with your roommate?”

“Eh? What do you mean?”

“I mean, is he an alien? I don’t understand. He didn’t know what an express checkout line is. It’s 1-11 items. A fucking five-year-old knows it’s 1-11 items. It says on the sign it’s 1-11 items.”

Emotions played out over Jimin’s face, much like they had on Jin’s. Something like a mixture of amusement and embarrassment. “Oh. You mean- yeah. It’s… he’s a bit…”

“... stupid?” Yoongi supplied helpfully.

“No. He’s not stupid. Jungkook just... doesn’t have much, uh, real life experience,” Jimin explained in a hushed voice. “I think his family is like, super rich. He gave me a check for more than his half of an entire year’s rent the first time we met.”

Yoongi was impressed, despite himself. It was hard when you lived alone and got by paycheck to paycheck. If only a rich (or even the normal kind of) roommate could drop out of the sky into his lap, he’d be thrilled. But it didn’t seem likely to ever happen: he was too picky. There were two individuals in his life who had potential, but living with one would be the worst sort of torture (Hoseok) and the other was unfortunately already taken (Jin).

Still. Not even all the money in the world could make living with Jeon Jungkook worth it.

“He’s a good roommate when you look at it that way. He pays for all the utilities, too. I feel bad, but he said it was only fair since he wanted to upgrade to a more expensive internet connection - he needs to play LOL at peak usage hours - and he takes a lot of hot showers…” Jimin shook his head, smiling ruefully. “Anyway, I do what I can to help him get adjusted. He’s a freshman so everything is still new to him.”

It sounded like an excuse to get out of doing chores, Yoongi thought with a mental sneer. Jimin was a goddamned pushover who let everyone walk over him.

“He is a good roommate, though,” Jimin insisted. “He’s been taking care of me in his own way!”

There was that, Yoongi admitted begrudgingly. Jungkook was obnoxiously full of himself and talked down to everyone, but one thing was clear: he was very protective of his roommate.

Jin’s head abruptly poked into the room. “Hey. Sorry to interrupt, but it’s almost three and we’d better go, if we want to make it to Hobi’s thing on time”

“Okay,” said Jimin. His smile seemed forced. “Say hi to Hobi for me, and the other guys too. Tell them I said good luck. Break a leg. I mean. Don’t do that, but-”

“We will,” said Jin, coming into the room to put a brotherly hand on Jimin’s head. “We’ll be back.”

They said their goodbyes and departed. Jungkook even responded to Jin’s “See you later!” but decidedly ignored Yoongi.

Out on the pavement, Jin gave Yoongi a sideways glance. “I’m glad I didn’t sleep in now. Thanks.”

Yoongi was immediately on alert. He didn’t like the look in Jin’s eyes. Not one bit. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It was just interesting.”

“What?”

“Seeing Jimin’s place. Meeting his roommate. Jungkook’s really interesting.” What the fuck was Jin talking about? “He’s a good-looking kid. He’ll be a heartbreaker in a few years.”

"You’re so damn shallow! All you care about is looks!”

“It was just an observation, don’t get jealous. Anyway, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Kookie’s not going to do anything to Jimin that you haven’t already done.”

 

Chapter Text

“Cheer up. I thought you did great.”

As far as platitudes went, it was pretty shitty. Yoongi shot Jin an exasperated look as the elevator pinged and opened it’s doors. Jin shrugged and stepped inside, accepting the wordless criticism as his due.

“Thanks,” Hoseok replied listlessly. He followed Jin into the elevator, while Yoongi took up the rear, carrying enough liquor to drown anyone’s sorrows.

A wave of sympathy came over Yoongi. He wished he knew how to comfort his friend - but he didn’t know what to say and hated sounding trite. Hoseok was still in a state of catatonic depression. Understandably so. The showcase had been a bit of a disaster - everything had been fine up until the last crucial bit of choreo, when Jimin’s replacement suddenly lost all his chill and succumbed to a bad case of stage fright. He’d ended in the wrong place at the wrong time and Hoseok had literally stumbled over him, landing nearly flat on his face as the routine came to an end.

“Don’t be so gloomy,” Jin tried again, as Yoongi pressed the button for the 24th floor. “It might not be as bad as you think. Maybe there’s still a chance you’ll get through to the next round.”

“Yeah,” said Hoseok, with a sigh. “Maybe.”

“It’s not your fault,” Yoongi said for the fifth time.

Hoseok had an annoying habit of thinking he was to blame whenever something went wrong. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault except the idiot who’d filled in for Jimin. That guy was probably in hiding by now, hating himself. Hoseok had forgiven him, of course. That was just him all over- soft, forgiving, a bloody fucking saint. In his shoes, Yoongi would have started a one-person bloodbath. No one fucked up that bad and got away with it scot-free, even if it wasn’t intentional.

The doors opened and they filed out. Jin threw his arm around Hoseok and squeezed his neck comfortingly. “You need a drink.”

Hoseok nodded, and then glanced over his shoulder at Yoongi. “Don’t tell Jimin what happened. He’s going to feel bad.”

“You’re a saint, you know that?”

A small smile finally cracked on Hoseok’s face. “Yup.”

“Why would Jimin feel bad?” Jin asked, turning to look back at Yoongi as well. “It’s not like he’s the one who fucked up-”

“He’ll blame himself for getting injured in the first place,” Yoongi said. No doubt about that.

Jin rang the doorbell. “You’re probably right. He’ll find out sooner or later, anyways. No talking about anything remotely not happy. Tonight is about drinking until your livers explode. We don’t stop until Yoongi pukes on Jimin’s houseplants and lies about it to his face.”

“I don’t puke.” And Jimin didn’t have any houseplants.

“Yeah? Did my kitchen mat magically grow a layer of vomit on itself last month?”

“That wasn’t me.”

“Yeah right.” Jin pressed the doorbell several more times. There was no answer. “That’s weird. I can definitely hear them in there-”

“Let me,” said Yoongi, nudging him aside.

The door finally opened after Yoongi banged his fist on it repeatedly. Jungkook appeared, arms crossed over his chest and thunderclouds on his brow.

“Took you long eno-” Yoongi began to say, but he wasn’t allowed to finish the sentence.

“Party’s cancelled,” Jungkook said flatly, and slammed the door shut in their faces. There was a second of stunned silence in the hallway.

Jin recovered first. He raised an eyebrow and remarked, “That’s twice in one day. Honestly, this is really weird for me. I’m usually welcomed into people’s homes. Ninety-nine percent of the time they don’t want me to leave.”

Yoongi hissed, “I told you he was a problem!”

“Maybe he just likes to slam doors?”

“Yeah, that’s not fucking mental at all-”

“Shh,” interjected Hoseok. “Listen-”

Through the door, they heard the sound of raised voices. One of them belonged to Jimin and he sounded upset. Jungkook was yelling. Shooting the others an alarmed look, Jin rang the doorbell again. And again. And again -

“GO AWAY!” bellowed Jungkook’s voice. Yoongi gritted his teeth, seriously starting to get annoyed.

The door suddenly opened and Jimin’s face appeared, surprising them all. “Don’t go away,” he begged, before he was yanked forcefully backwards. The door slammed shut again, hard enough to rattle the hinges.

Yoongi was genuinely annoyed now. Jimin was injured, what the fuck was Jeon Jungkook playing at, manhandling him like that?

“I’m very confused,” said Jin.

“Me too,” said Hoseok. He looked mystified, which Yoongi supposed was an improvement over his previous state of utter depression.

Yoongi banged his fist on the door once more, and shouted, “What the hell is going on? Jimin, open the door!”

“I SAID, GO AWAY-”

Something started to vibrate against Yoongi’s butt. He fished his phone out of his back pocket. There was a new text from Jimin. “Hold on-”

dont go!! jus wait

Hoseok looked over Yoongi’s shoulder at the message. His brow creased in concern. “Should we?”

“Hell no,” said Yoongi, rolling up his sleeves. “Move aside, I’ll break the door down.”

“No you’re not,” Jin said quickly, placing a hand on Yoongi’s chest and holding him down. “Let’s just wait a bit first-”

Yoongi was just about to say he wasn’t going to stand by and watch Park Jimin become a domestic violence statistic when things went suspiciously quiet inside the apartment. Jin held up a finger as unseen footsteps approached the door.

It opened again. A head poked out - clad in what looked like a plush lobster helmet - and peered at them interestedly. “Hiya!”

No one said hi back, but the strange Crustacean was not deterred. He lifted a hand in greeting and waved cheerfully. “Sorry about that! We were in the middle of a roommate meeting. It’s all settled, come on in-”

“Who are you?” Jin asked, blinking.

“I’m Kim Taehyung!” The stranger smiled widely, showing all of his teeth. “Jimin’s best friend! I live here now.”

He was shoved out of the way, hard, by Jungkook. “No you don’t!”

-----

The party went to shit.

Lobster Boy didn’t drink (what kind of college student didn’t drink, for fuck’s sake?) so Jimin didn’t drink either (for the best, probably, he was most likely taking some kind of painkiller) and Jin suddenly remembered he was driving. Hoseok wouldn’t drink if no one else was, so Yoongi alone cracked open a beer. He felt like he was being judged and didn’t give a shit.

They sat in a circle on the floor - largely because Jimin and Jungkook didn’t own furniture and their single sofa was taken up with luggage that no one could be bothered to move. Jungkook stood stubbornly in a corner, back to the wall, glaring at anyone who dared to look his way.

“Shouldn’t we talk to him?” Hoseok asked, under his breath.

“Don’t bother.”

“I didn’t even know Jimin had a roommate. Then again, this is my first time here… it’s pretty small for two dudes.”

Yoongi was kind of surprised that Hoseok had never been to Jimin’s apartment before. Hoseok was always making a fuss over how much he liked Jimin and they’d seemed to get incredibly close in a very short amount of time. It seemed superficial now, in comparison to how Jimin acted around Lobster Boy. Yoongi had never seen Jimin so giddy with excitement before - he was obviously thrilled to be reunited with his 'best friend’ and kept chattering at top speed, his injury completely forgotten. They were very touchy-feely, constantly hugging, high-fiving, one word out of every five some kind of in-joke the rest of them didn’t understand.

Taehyung - still wearing his lobster hat - beamed stupidly at each person who was introduced to him. His smile didn’t waver when Jimin said, “-and this is Yoongi,” but something passed in the air between him and Jimin, unspoken, as he lifted his gaze to Yoongi’s face. Yoongi’s back stiffened.

Lobster Boy merely said, “Ah. Hello-” and the moment passed, as if it had never happened.

-----

Kim Taehyung was 21 years old. He’d studied abroad in Japan and Germany for the last two years but had recently decided he wanted to come home. Not seeming to care about his GPA or the fact that the semester was half-over, he'd transferred into the school that Jimin and Jungkook both attended and was crashing on their sofa. He seemed to think this arrangement was going to be permanent. Jungkook was currently flipping his shit over it - which was, admittedly, pretty funny.

Kim Taehyung had obviously superseded Yoongi as Jeon Jungkook’s #1 Enemy. Yoongi had been either forgotten or temporarily set aside as a lesser threat - he didn’t know if this offended him or not. He was also pretty much ousted from his spot as Jimin’s Friend #1.

Not that it mattered. In fact, he considered it a good thing. With Taehyung distracting Jimin, Yoongi wasn’t constantly being hassled by ongoing text messages all day and night. He might’ve responded to one or two of the many, many, many excited messages about Taehyung rather curtly, but whatever. That was just how Yoongi talked, Jimin already knew that. So when Jimin’s texts dwindled down to one or two a day, just the morning and evening ones he sent to everyone, Yoongi simply accepted it as how things were going to be now.

Two weeks passed in that vein, with minimal contact between Yoongi and Jimin. He heard through the grapevine (Jin) that Jimin’s ankle was better and he was going back to dance practice again. Hoseok was thrilled - he’d been inured to almost all but throwing himself into rehearsals. Yoongi wasn’t sure if Jimin had heard about what had gone down at the showcase, but he assumed he must have. Jin was as annoyingly sparse on the details as he was persistent in spreading gossip.

On Sunday afternoon Jin invited Yoongi over for lunch. He arrived around 4PM, making it a pretty late lunch, but he didn’t care. Jin rolled his eyes and asked, “Did you just come here straight from bed? You didn’t shower or brush your hair, did you? That’s disgusting, Min Yoongi.”

“It’s my day off,” Yoongi retorted, flinging his stuff onto Jin’s kitchen table. “You’re lucky I came at all. I should be sleeping more.” He drove the point home with a wide yawn, not bothering to cover his mouth.

“Nice. Attractive.” Jin shook his head. “Why don’t you try sleeping at night, you crazy old bat. Hobi’s late, too, but at least he has an excuse.”

“What’s that?” He’d been out of the loop for at least 16 hours. Which wasn’t anything near Yoongi’s personal best - 22 hours of continuous sleep, a record to be proud of. “Where’s Hoseok?”

“He went to IKEA this morning with the kids,” said Jin. “They should be done by now. Maybe he’s helping them build the stuff they bought.”

Yoongi’s relatively good mood - fueled by sleep - disappeared immediately. The kids had to mean Jimin and his two roommates. Why were they dragging Hoseok into their stupid outings? Hoseok had to learn to say no to doing stuff that didn’t benefit him - he wasn’t Jimin’s personal slave.

“Oh,” he said sullenly, and withdrew to sulk in the kitchen as Jin cooked. Not long after that, Hoseok arrived, looking like he’d been through an ordeal. Yoongi got even more pissed.

“How was IKEA?” Jin asked, cracking two eggs into his pot of Kim Special Ramyun.

Yoongi pretended to be supremely interested in the food that was being prepared, and was careful to give off the impression of utter and complete boredom. (Not a whole lot of pretense there, he genuinely was starving - his stomach growled. And he was bored. IKEA was boring. Shopping was boring. Jin’s obsession with knowing every detail about a boring trip to a boring store to do boring shopping was boring.)

“Good,” Hoseok replied, “Except for one little mishap.”

“What happened?”

“Kookie got upset when Taehyung and Jimin were trying out bunk beds and ran off. He must’ve gotten lost because he tried to leave through an emergency exit and all the alarms went off.”

Yoongi kept his face blank (inwardly he sniggered), but Jin turned around to look at Hoseok with great interest. “Really?”

“IKEA staff had to page us over the intercom to pick him up for the security office.”

Jin asked, “He got in trouble?”

“He was, and I quote, aggressively uncooperative and refused to see reason when informed that emergency exits are only for use during emergencies. In the end they just slapped him with a fine. Good thing he’s rich.”

“Money solves most of life’s problems,” Jin agreed. “Why bunk beds?”

“It’s Taehyung’s dream. He’s always wanted to sleep in the top bunk since he was a little kid,” Hoseok said wryly.

Jin smirked. “Isn’t that cute.”

It was gross. Yoongi curled his upper lip and changed the subject by demanding to know when, if ever, he was going to be fed.

“Never, if you keep up that tone of voice,” said Jin. “Did they get the bed?”

Hoseok looked totally disgusted. “Yeah. The wrong bed. Well, half of it. While I was bailing Jungkook out of IKEA jail, Taehyung and Jimin decided to save time and check out. They bought box 1 of one bed and box 2 of a completely different model. We’ll have to drive back out there again next weekend and exchange it.”

Jin snorted. “It’s amazing they’re alive. Were we this helpless when we were in college?”

Yoongi snorted as well. He had never been helpless a single moment in his entire life. In college he’d worked two jobs and lived on ramyun and canned soup and lived to tell the tale.

“Maybe. I can’t remember that far back.”

“You’re not that old.”

“It feels like it. Especially around them. God, they’re hyper.” Hoseok shook his head. “I think Taehyung injects red bull directly into his veins.”

Jin laughed.

“There’s a lot of, uh, tension. Jungkook’s a bit… weird.” A pretty accurate statement, Yoongi felt, but even though the weirdo in question wasn’t present, ever-nice Hoseok chose his words diplomatically. “Not in a bad way, but he’s kind of…”

“Bratty?” Yoongi supplied, joining in the conversation for the first time.

“Sometimes. But I mean, the way he acts around Jimin, it’s kind of…”

“Ohhhh,” said Jin, waving a hand in the air. “You mean that. Yeah, he’s totally got the hots for Jimin.”

Hoseok’s gaze flicked to Yoongi’s face for a second - Yoongi stiffened, unsure of what to make of it - and then he said, “You think so?”

“Totally.”

“What about Taehyung?”

“Hard to say,” Jin answered, mulling over it for a minute as he ladled out steaming broth and noodles into separate bowls. He set one down in front of Yoongi and said thoughtfully, “Best friends are tricky.”

-----

“Oh,” said Jin, three days later. “Jimin sent me a morning selfie.”

There was no perceptible change in Yoongi’s posture or expression but the atmosphere in the room grew several degrees cooler. He’d come over again, half because he had nothing better to do and half because Jin had nothing better to do.

On Jin’s part it was because Namjoon was spending all his time at the library or locked up in his bedroom working on his graduate thesis. Yoongi hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the nerd for days, which was why Jin was bored and desperate for entertainment. It was just fucking annoying. His favourite topic at the moment was the lurid love triangle he’d pulled out of his ass regarding Park Jimin and his two roommates.

Yoongi was absolutely, completely, 100% indifferent on that front. He couldn’t care less if Jeon Jungkook and Kim Taehyung killed each other. That would be more entertaining than watching them circle each other, vying for Jimin’s attention.

“Good morning Jin~~” Jin read Jimin’s message aloud. He flashed his phone in Yoongi’s direction, showing him a photo of Jimin in his red beanie, grinning for the camera. Half of Kim Taehyung’s face could be seen over Jimin’s shoulder,wearing a smile just as bright and toothy. Yoongi gave it a cursory glance, ignoring the flash of annoyance in his stomach, and then looked away.  Jin smirked and asked in a  casual tone, “Did he send you one?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? You should check.” Yoongi remained silent. Jin looked at him with a very bad, very mischievous look in his eye- “I know! I’ll send him a selfie, too!”

“Whatever.”

Before he knew what was happening, Jin and his demonic glint had thrown an arm around Yoongi, phone held aloft above their heads. “Come here, you hedgehog! Smile!”

Yoongi struggled, but the flash went off before he could break free. Outraged, he reared back and sputtered, “Delete it!”

“Nope. Already sent,” Jin said, laughing. “Why did you move? God, this is the worst picture of you ever.”

“You’re a fucking asshole, you know that?”

“I’m the best friend you have, you just won’t admit it.”

Yoongi snatched for Jin’s phone, but he was too slow. Jin twisted away, held it up high in the air, and ran out of the room. “Jimin’s typing out a reply- he says Yoongi is soooooo cute, why doesn’t he text me back-”

“Shut up!” Yoongi’s face felt hot. “He didn’t say that!”

“Yeah no one would ever call you cute, I don’t know what I was thinking-”

“Give me the phone!”

“It’s my phone so I’ll keep it, thanks.”

Yoongi knew a losing fight when he saw one (fuck Jin and his 5ft10.5 inches), and scowled to let Jin know he wasn’t impressed. “Whatever.”

Jin made a show of checking his messages again. His amused smile faded a little - Yoongi didn’t like that - and then he frowned - Yoongi really didn’t like that - and finally he began to type a response. Yoongi fought back the urge to tear Jin’s phone from his hands and see for himself what was being said about him. (He knew they were talking about him. They had to be.)

“Stop looking at me like that,” Jin said, setting his phone down at last.

“I’m not looking at you like anything,” Yoongi retorted. “Why would I want to look at you?”

Jin sighed. “Yoongi. Here’s a tip: not everyone can read your mind. Not everyone knows when you mean what you say and when you don’t. Alright?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Think about it, you jerk,” said Jin.

-----

Exactly four days later on another Sunday afternoon, Yoongi slid into the passenger side of Jin’s car and tilted his seat back. He unlocked the doors and waited. Five minutes later, Jin threw his bag into the back seat and gave him a dirty look as he climbed in. “Really? You’re gonna sleep? I just worked for seven hours straight and you can’t even drive me home?”

“I drove all the way out here to pick you up,” Yoongi grumbled. “It’s your turn.”

“I can’t wait for Namjoon to finish writing his thesis,” Jin said feelingly, starting up the car again.

“Me neither,” said Yoongi, and promptly went to sleep.

Jin woke him up with a not-very-gentle shove and a dirty apron in the face. Yoongi shuddered. “Rise and shine, sleeping ugly,” Jin sing-songed at him. “We’re here~”

It wasn’t until Yoongi got out of the car, rubbing at his eyes blearily, that he noticed the parking lot looked kind of different. So did the elevator. So did the hallway. In fact, everything looked wrong but also oddly familiar-

“What the fuck,” he said belatedly, coming to a standstill as the elevator pinged its arrival on the 24th floor of Jimin’s building. “Why the fuck did you bring me here?”

“Jimin needs help building his new furniture,” Jin said, with a serene smile. “I volunteered us both.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Unsurprisingly enough, Jin suddenly remembered he had something he needed to do as soon as Jimin answered the door.

“I’ll be back, I promise,” the conniving bastard said. “I just have to run one little errand for work, it won’t take long. That’s why I brought Yoongi with me, he’ll help you out!”

Yoongi fumed and said nothing as he avoided meeting Jimin’s eyes. It was probably unnecessary. Jimin hadn’t looked in Yoongi’s direction at all, but maybe that was because Yoongi was making it difficult for him by hiding behind Jin.

No one was fooled by Jin’s very transparent, very blatant motives. “Yoongi’s a pro at building IKEA furniture. I’m sure you guys will be just fine. I’ll be back in like, an hour? Tops.”

He ran off, leaving Yoongi to face Jimin alone. The apartment looked like a tornado had just come through. Jimin stood helplessly in the living room, surrounded by a mess of broken cardboard and wooden planks of various size and shape.

He looked lost. And confused. And really tired. His ankle appeared to be fine now but there were prominent dark circles under his eyes and he seemed lethargic. His expression was different from usual. Glum. Not happy to see Yoongi.

Not good.

He should have expected it, really, but somehow Yoongi was still taken aback. With a jolt to the stomach he realised that he’d gotten used to Jimin reacting with pleasure whenever their paths crossed. Even the rough patch they’d had at the beginning had never really dampened Jimin’s enthusiasm. He always, always greeted Yoongi with a big, bright smile.

Not so much now.

Yoongi’s irritation at being tricked and dragged across town against his will turned fully into a bad mood.

“Why are you building this yourself?” Yoongi demanded, not bothering to make his tone nice, the way he usually did when he spoke to Jimin. It didn’t fucking matter. Jimin wouldn’t even look at him. “Where the fuck are your roommates?”

“Taehyung’s at a meeting with his program advisor,” Jimin explained. “And Kookie… I’m not sure… maybe at the library?”

Flakes, Yoongi thought, pissed off. Jungkook’s absence was likely a form of protest (fair enough), but Kim Taehyung ought to be here. This was his bed. He was going to be sleeping in it.

Jimin seemed to be able to read his mind, even without looking at him. “Taehyung’s gonna be back soon. I just thought I’d start without him.”

He snorted. “Like he’d be much help.”

Jimin stiffened and muttered something under his breath.

“What?”

“I said,” Jimin repeated, “You hate Taehyung, don’t you?”

“Can’t say I’m a fan of people who impose on their friends and then ditch them,” Yoongi snapped. He hadn’t meant for it to sound quite as harsh as it did, but too late. The damage was done.

Apparently, even nice people - and everyone was always going on about how nice Park Jimin was - had limits. His nose flared and he looked up at last, meeting Yoongi’s glare head on. “Why did you bother coming here? Just so you could insult Taehyung? Honestly, it’s getting old. I’ve had enough of it from Jungkook, so if that’s why you’re here then maybe you should just go.”

For the first time in their relatively short acquaintance, Jimin sounded annoyed. Yoongi had never seen Jimin angry or short of temper before. His mouth fell open slightly, startled by the outburst, but he recovered quickly and grunted, “You kicking me out right now, Park?”

Jimin turned away and ran his hand through his hair instead of answering. He did it whenever he was nervous or upset or trying to buy time. It made his hair fall back onto his forehead in a stupidly attractive way - Yoongi gritted his teeth, wondering why he was having these thoughts when Park Jimin was trying to pick a fight with him. It was not attractive. He was not attracted to… this side of Jimin. He wasn’t attracted, period, to pushovers with cherub faces and obnoxiously fit bodies-

“No, but I’m not gonna make you stay if you don’t want to.” Well, he hadn’t wanted to, but it was a bit much to admit it to Jimin’s face even if he was being extremely disagreeable. Yoongi almost didn’t catch what Jimin muttered next- “I thought you were mad at me, anyway.”

“Mad at you? Why would you think that?”

“You haven’t replied to my texts for days. Ever since the party. I know you’re annoyed with me.”

He was annoyed, but he couldn’t fucking say why. He was annoyed with Jimin and Taehyung and Jungkook and especially Jin, who kept looking at him like he knew something but wouldn’t spit it out. He was annoyed with feeling annoyed. Instinctively, he denied everything. “I’m not annoyed.”

“Seems like you are.” Jimin kept his eyes fixed on the piece of bunk bed he was holding in his hand. His voice went a bit deeper, a little rough. “I know it was my fault, if I hadn’t been careless and gotten myself injured Hobi wouldn’t have been humiliated at the showcase-”

“Don’t be stupid,” Yoongi interrupted, stomach twisting. “It wasn’t your fault. Why would I be mad at you for that?”

“You’re sensitive when it comes to Hobi. I just thought-”

All his hackles rose. He felt a flush spread across his cheeks, and shot back, “Well, you thought wrong.”

Jimin stared at him, unconvinced. “Then why aren’t you talking to me?”

“I am talking to you,” he growled in annoyance, deliberately misconstruing Jimin’s meaning. “I’m talking to you right now, aren’t I? I came here to help you build a fucking bed, didn’t I?”

“Against your will,” Jimin pointed out, looking away. “You only came because Jin made you, it’s obvious. And you sound annoyed.” Resignation crept into Jimin’s tone, along with a hint of something more. “You’re definitely annoyed.”

Shit.

He realised belatedly, then, that Jimin wasn’t angry.

He was hurt.

Shit, shit, shit.

He hadn’t really thought about it. Of course Jimin would be hurt. Yoongi had straight up cut off all communication with him, no explanations given. He’d ignored Jimin for no real reason, except for the gut feeling that it was the wisest course of action under the circumstances. He knew he was being unreasonable. He also knew he had a tendency to lash out when agitated and wanted to avoid hurting Jimin’s feelings. Except he’d gone and done that anyway, like the fucking piece of shit he was.

“I’m not mad at you, Jimin,” he said, hoping he sounded sincere. “I’m just… kind of stressed. I have really bad writer’s block.” It’s not you, it’s me. God, he was terrible at lying. “I haven’t written a new song in weeks and it’s getting to me.”

Jimin did that thing where he tried to look past Yoongi’s crusty exterior to the crux of him. He wondered, uneasily, what Jimin saw, prayed it wasn’t awful.

“I wasn’t ignoring you on purpose.” Yoongi offered the lamest excuse he could think of: “I was just… really busy. Work was crazy. And yeah, Jin made me come over, but I wanted to.”

Which, he realised, was true. Jin could rant and whine and pull all the stunts he wanted, but if Yoongi didn’t want to do something, nothing could make him do it. He’d walked through that front door and stayed of his own volition. And now he was quarreling with Jimin as a result. Fucking fantastic.

“Alright,” said Jimin, after a moment’s pause.

He seemed to understand and accept that this was as close to an apology as Yoongi was ever going to come. It left a bad taste in Yoongi’s mouth, to think he was starting down the path of being a disappointing friend to Jimin already. It was a given that he would fuck up, again and again, but it bothered him all the same.

He wanted to say more, to point out how stupid it was for Jimin to think Yoongi would blame him for what went down at Hoseok’s showcase when the idea had never even occurred to him. His tongue and gut both felt tangled, though, and the words just wouldn’t come.

The atmosphere in the apartment felt somewhat friendlier than before but was still suffocatingly awkward. Yoongi hated it. He shuffled around, looked at the sheet of hieroglyphics that IKEA passed off as instructions and asked, “Did you check the stuff that came in the box to make sure it’s all there?”

Jimin glanced at the pile of screws and strange plastic cap thingies and shook his head. “No?”

“That’s the first step,” Yoongi said, trying to sound like he knew what he was talking about. (He wasn’t exactly a pro as Jin had claimed earlier, but he’d built IKEA furniture in his time. Mainly stuff like storage cubes, though, and once an ottoman where all you had to do was screw in some legs and pop a lid on top). “It’s a bitch to start and realise halfway through you’re missing an important part. Lay all the screws and shit out and count it.”

“Okay,” said Jimin. He cleared a bit of space on the floor and sat down, dragging the box of hardware towards him. Yoongi watched as he did as he had been told, counting each piece slowly and carefully, like a child would. It was either completely stupid or completely adorable. Yoongi was kind of worried that he was seriously leaning towards the latter.

“I’ll help,” he muttered, stepping over a random box. He crouched down in front of Jimin and scowled. “You’re so fuckin’ slow. We’ll be here forever.”

Jimin shrugged, but didn’t argue. An uncomfortable feeling lingered in the air and just wouldn’t go away.

It was Yoongi’s fault. Probably. Definitely. He’d never made as many missteps in his dealings with another person as he had with Park Jimin. Things seemed to get complicated so quickly whenever Jimin was involved. Yoongi didn’t know why. He almost wished Jin was still here - except Jin was the fucking reason Yoongi was trapped in this ridiculous situation to begin with. (He made a vow to himself that Jin would pay for it later.)

“Sorry,” Jimin said suddenly, while Yoongi was still trying to think of something to say to diffuse the tension in the room. “I was kind of rude, just now.” He wasn’t sure how to respond to this - but Jimin wasn’t done. “Taehyung’s a lot like Hobi, you know.”

Yoongi didn’t know. He didn’t know where Jimin was going with this line of thought - and scoffed inwardly at the idea of Taehyung and Hoseok being similar in any way, except perhaps in being disgustingly high-energy all the damn time. But he held his tongue and waited for Jimin to continue.

“My family moved a lot when I was a kid, so I never had any long term friends until I entered high school. It was hard, though… everyone knew each other and I was the new kid. Taehyung was the only one who talked to me. He even got mad at his friends when they didn’t want to hang out - he made such a fuss our homeroom teacher gave everyone detention for a week!”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. We’ve been best friends ever since. He’s always taken care of me. I know he acts a bit funny sometimes and he can get pretty rowdy, but he’s a really good person. The best person. You don’t know him very well yet, so I don’t blame you for not understanding him.” Jimin paused, and threw Yoongi a look that was both earnest and defiant at the same time- “But I won’t let anyone say bad stuff about him.”

Yoongi could respect that. He wouldn’t let someone diss Hoseok and get away with it, either. It was just a basic rule of friendship. He was glad Jimin held the same beliefs.

“Got it,” he said simply.

Jimin peered at him from beneath his bangs, a slight frown on his lips. He seemed a bit taken aback, as if he hadn’t expected Yoongi to capitulate so easily.

“No bad-mouthing Taehyung,” Yoongi said, thinking of the two - maybe three - vaguely (okay, fine, outright) mean texts he’d sent to Jimin on the topic. He regretted them in retrospect, wished he could take them back. “Not behind his back, anyway. My bad. If I have a problem with him I’ll say it to his face.”

“That’s fine,” Jimin said, his tension fading. “He can defend himself.”

Yoongi’s shoulders eased - but only slightly. Although they’d arrived at a tentative truce, it still didn’t feel like enough. Jimin finished counting and announced that all the pieces were accounted for. He looked at Yoongi expectantly. Yoongi looked at the instructions again. Still nonsensical.

“You got a hammer?”

A frown creased Jimin’s brow. “I... don’t think so. Do we need one?”

“Uh, yeah.”

Jimin looked at mess around them, and visibly shuddered. “Great.”

Yoongi opened his mouth to say something along the lines of ‘why didn’t you buy a hammer at IKEA, doofus?’ but what came out instead was, “About that contest-”

Jimin didn’t seem to hear him. He was too busy being miserable about not having tools. Yoongi spoke a bit louder, “I was thinking of writing a new verse in Tony Montana for you.”

This time Jimin’s head snapped up. “What?”

Yoongi almost wished he hadn’t brought it up. Whatever. It wasn’t a big deal. He was just invested, that’s all. His song - and his reputation - were at stake here. “Your choreo’s good, don’t get me wrong, but the lyrics don’t fit. Different lyrics would suit you better.”

“Really?"

His palms were weirdly sweaty. “Yeah. Just thought it’d make you stand out more to the judges.”

“Oh,” said Jimin, brightening.

“Actually, I was thinking you could try writing some lyrics,” Yoongi said, bolstered by Jimin’s change in demeanor and posture. “That’s usually better. More authentic.”

“What? There’s no way I could-”

“It’s not as hard as it looks.”

“I really don’t think-”

“Try,” Yoongi insisted, getting more and more into the idea. He would give Jimin tips, of course, and it might prove inspirational. He hadn’t been lying when he’d said he had writer’s block. “That’s your homework. Try writing a verse for the Tony Montana bridge, and I’ll take a look at it.”

“But-”

“I’ll help you,” Yoongi said. “Plus you owe me.”

Jimin looked at him bemusedly. “I do?”

“I’m letting you use my song for free, aren’t I?”

“True,” Jimin admitted. “But-”

“Just try, Park Jimin. Nothing bad is gonna happen if you do.” Yoongi patted him on the shoulder. “Trust me.”

Jimin looked unconvinced, but he nodded.

“Good. I’m giving you a week to work on it.”

“Just a week?”

“It’s one verse, not a thesis, Park.”

“Okay… I’ll try,” said Jimin, still tentative. A flicker of worry crossed his features, and he added quickly, “Don’t expect too much, though, okay?”

Yoongi reached over and poked him in the shoulder. “Don’t tell me what to do.”

A smile finally graced Jimin’s face, not the biggest or brightest, but it felt right. Yoongi released a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding all afternoon.

“Thanks,” said Jimin, and the smile got wider, became more like the smiles he was used to receiving. They were sitting very close, Yoongi realised, so close that Yoongi could see the tiny freckle just under Jimin’s left eye, usually unnoticeable, and the wispy line of his eyelashes as he blinked. Yoongi’s heart skipped a beat. Warmth unfurled in his chest, spreading outwards until he could feel it tingling in every fingertip.

“I’m in it for the free sound system,” Yoongi muttered, suddenly embarrassed beyond belief. He stood up, breaking the spell, and wiped his sweaty hands on his jeans. “This isn’t gonna work. We need a hammer and a screwdriver to build this thing.”

Jimin sighed.

“Right.” Yoongi made a show of checking his watch, but didn’t register the time at all. “There’s a hardware store down the street from that supermarket - I’ll go buy them.”

“I’ll come with you-”

“Nah,” said Yoongi quickly. Jimin looked a bit disappointed, but he needed a bit of time alone to recover from his embarrassment. He felt overloaded and itched with the need to escape. “I’ll be back, just take a breather.”

He left Jimin sitting on the sofa, playing piano tiles on his phone. Yoongi was glad for the rush of cool air that greeted him outside, a balm to his flushed cheeks. He didn’t know why he felt so flustered, or why his heart was racing in his chest.

What the hell was that?

-----

Yoongi returned with tools swinging from a plastic bag in one hand and a large pizza in the other. He’d needed more time to calm down from his sudden onset of panic and buying food had given him some added reprieve. While he was gone, Jin had come back.

The front door was unlocked and stood slightly ajar. Jimin must have thought Yoongi would only be gone for a few minutes (it was close to three-quarters of an hour now, oops) and hadn’t bothered to lock up after Jin came in. The sound of their voices made him pause before entering.

He heard Jin say casually, “You two are back on track, then?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. You know Yoongi doesn’t mean it, right?”

Here it comes, Yoongi thought, half-irritated and half-glad that Jin was trying to help him out. Help being a charitable description of what Jin usually did. Sabotaging was more Jin’s speed - Yoongi honestly didn’t know if it was done out of misguided good intentions or if Jin just liked to fuck with him.

“He’s just… a very emotional person,” said Jin. Yoongi scowled. “Too emotional, and too dumb to understand it.” What the fuck. “He’s just a big, tightly wound ball of emotional constipation - and honestly, most of the time I don’t think he’s really aware of what he's feeling until it’s too late-”

“I don’t think he’s that bad,” Jimin interjected, weakly.

“Trust me, he is-”

“Well, it doesn’t matter. We’re not- you know. Nothing happened. Nothing is going to happen.”

“You sure about that?”

Yoongi tensed.

“Yeah,” Jimin said, with utter conviction. Which was good. It was what Yoongi wanted to hear. That everything was fine and nothing was weird.

“Yoongi is really cool, and I wanna be friends with him.”

Jin sounded dubious. “If you say so. You’re okay, right?”

“Of course! Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I’m just checking.”

“I’m used to it,” Jimin offered reassuringly.

“What?”

“Rejection,” he joked.

“Jimin-”

“Just kidding!”

Yoongi pushed the door open, and they both looked up as he entered the room, holding his purchases. Jimin looked a little sheepish, but he smiled brightly. “You’re back!”

“With tools,” Yoongi said. “And pizza.”

“Yay! You’re a genius!" Jimin laid it on a bit thick. "I'm starving!"

Yoongi thoroughly ignored the assessing look Jin gave him. “Extra cheese, just the way you like it.” 

They got back to work after demolishing the pizza (Jin was a beast, Yoongi should have bought two, but he wasn’t made of money). Yoongi was acutely aware of Jimin’s presence the entire time, skittishly avoided his gaze, and skirted around making physical contact.

It took much longer than anticipated. They hit a stumbling block at hour two (of five), when Jin paused halfway through hammering and said with disgust- “Why are we doing this in the living room? We have to move it into the bedroom, and it’s not gonna fit through the damn door!”

A lot of cursing followed. With great pain and horror, they undid their progress, shifted the hideous thing into Jimin’s bedroom - the desk was going to have to be moved into the living room in order for him to have space to walk - and finished the rest of the project there.

By the end of it, Jin had hammered all his fingers, told off Yoongi twice, and was so exhausted he almost refused to go out to dinner to celebrate. Neither Taehyung or Jungkook showed up, which was just fine with Yoongi.

Jimin hugged him before they left, smelling of barbeque smoke and cardboard and tingly warmth. “Thanks, Yoongi.”

His throat felt dry, and the strange feeling in his chest wouldn’t go away. “No problem,” he managed to say.

 

Chapter Text

“Hey!”

Jimin appeared out of nowhere, sliding suddenly and breathlessly into the booth where Yoongi was seated and scaring the absolute shit out of him.

“Holy sh-!” Yoongi choked on a sip of scalding coffee. He coughed, hot liquid going down the wrong pipe, and wanted nothing more in that moment than to disappear into a hole in the ground.

Fuck . Not the cool, casual impression he’d wanted to make.  He coughed harder, Jimin’s concerned face suddenly too close, filling up his field of vision-

“You okay?”

“I- I’m fine-!” Yoongi croaked, wiping his mouth with a napkin. Ugh . His cheeks felt hot, and he couldn’t bring himself to look Jimin in the eye. Or anywhere, really - it wasn’t safe. Jimin hovered over him, refusing to sit until Yoongi stopped coughing, which was highly counterproductive. The front-row view of wet Jimin wasn’t helping his breathing patterns at all.

Apparently it was raining outside. Yoongi hadn’t noticed. He’d been so completely absorbed in drawing stick figures on his napkins as he waited nervously for Jimin to arrive. Just his fucking luck, wasn’t it? He hadn’t seen Jimin since the day he’d been tricked into helping build the bed from hell for Kim Taehyung, and this was to be his reward: Jimin, two weeks later, soaked from head to toe, shirt clinging wetly to… things. Like Jimin’s chest. And Jimin’s abs. And Jimin’s-

No. No, he wasn’t going to be weird about this. He’d promised himself he was going to act natural. It wasn’t a big deal, they were just hanging out. Jimin had all but begged, claiming he couldn’t write lyrics on his own and needed Yoongi’s help in person. Yoongi had agreed, determined to stay cool. That resolve was being sorely tested now.

“Sorry I’m late! You haven’t been waiting long, have you?”

Going on a solid forty-five minutes now according to his watch, but Jimin didn’t need to know that. “Nah. I just got here, too.”

He’d been bored at home, that was all. He had the day off. He hadn’t come early to wait for Jimin or anything - he always came here. This was his cafe.

“I had a hard time getting out of the house,” Jimin explained, a touch sheepishly. “Kookie and Tae were fighting again and I had to break it up before I could leave. It’s okay though, I think they’re gonna be friends soon-” Yoongi snorted, which made Jimin add defensively, “Seriously! Tae likes Kookie, I can tell. Kookie just needs a bit more time to warm up to him. I’m making them spend time alone together so they can get to know each other better.”

Yoongi barely heard what Jimin said. He was unable to keep himself from staring at the drop of water slowly making its way down Jimin’s left temple, and was so preoccupied it took him several minutes to notice Jimin had stopped talking altogether and was sitting quietly, a strange expression on his face.

Yoongi asked, “What?”

“Nothing,” said Jimin.

“Spill.”

Jimin seemed embarrassed. “I was just thinking about the last time-” he bit his lower lip, and shrugged. “-we met here.”

The bottom fell out of Yoongi’s stomach. Shit. It hadn’t even occurred to him. He opened his mouth, but couldn’t think of anything to say. What the fuck could he say?

Oh yeah, sorry about that, I totally forgot I rejected you once in this exact spot, but no hard feelings-

“Sorry,” Jimin muttered, clearly regretting what he’d said. His cheeks were pink as he swiped awkwardly at his face with a sleeve.

Yoongi put his hand into his pocket and withdrew a packet of tissues. Jimin accepted them gratefully. His fingers brushed Yoongi’s palm in the process. Yoongi snatched his hand away, a bit too quickly, and the resulting look on Jimin’s face made Yoongi want to disappear entirely again. They sat in silence for a minute, awkward tension building in Yoongi’s spine until it seemed palpable, seeping from his pores into the air.

“I really should’ve checked the weather forecast first, eh?” Jimin said, his tone a bit forced. Still, he smiled, and the sight of his eyes crinkling at the corners made Yoongi feel better somehow. “I always forget. Always leave the house without an umbrella. It used to drive my mom crazy-”

He went on talking the way he always did, filling up the silence to smooth over his unfortunate verbal faux pas. Yoongi didn’t participate actively, but he listened and nodded in the right places and laughed when Jimin told him a funny story about the time his mom had caught him sneaking into the house after curfew through a bathroom window. Jimin basked in the attention - he really liked to talk, and the way he was so eager about it made Yoongi wonder if maybe not enough people really listened .

The tension had dissipated momentarily, but it came right back once Jimin finished his tale and went back to wiping himself down. He lifted the hem of his wet shirt, pulling it away from his stomach with a slight grimace.

Yup , Yoongi noted out of the corner of his eye, still sculpted. He looked away, hoping Jimin hadn’t noticed, and cleared his throat. “So-” he paused, suddenly forgetting what he was about to say. Jimin was wiping his abs with a napkin. Shit. “Uh-”

“Yeah?”

“... how’s the new bed?”

“Oh, it’s great! Tae and I tested it and it’s really sturdy.”

The emphasis on 'sturdy’ took Yoongi by surprise. He barely had time to form a fully coherent suspicion, though, before Jimin continued on blithely, “It didn’t collapse, even after Kookie kicked one of the posts. He left a dent in the wall and everything! It looked like it really hurt!” (What a moron. Still, the mental image of Jungkook stubbing his toe was pleasing and Yoongi savoured it.) “ And then Tae rolled out of bed and hit his head, which was a little scary. He’s okay, though.” (What a shame.) “I think he’s lost enthusiasm for the top bunk, but I’m not gonna switch with him.”

Easy-going Jimin refusing a request was definitely unusual.“Why not?”

“I like being on the bottom,” said Jimin simply, head tipping back as he wiped his neck. His adam’s apple bobbed.

Yoongi swallowed involuntarily, mimicking the action. He attributed what he said next to a moment of insanity, triggered by the sight of Jimin undoing the collar of his shirt.

“You like the bottom,” he repeated under his breath, “Why am I not surprised?”

Jimin heard. He blinked doe-eyes at Yoongi as he fiddled with a strand of wet hair. “What’s wrong with the bottom? It’s cozy.”

He had to be pretending. He had to be. Park Jimin couldn’t be that innocent. Yoongi had seen him dance, had been on the receiving end of Jimin’s drunken grinding - there was no freaking way .

“Nothing. Good for you.”

“I guess you’d go for the top, huh?”

Yoongi fought the urge to say something outrageous - was Jimin trolling him? Was this some kind of trap? While he wondered, Jimin ran out of tissues and stopped trying futilely to dry himself.

“Anyway,” Yoongi said, tapping his pen against the table, “Let’s get to work.” He tore a page out of his notebook and shoved it across the table at Jimin. “Here.”

Jimin - overcompensating for the earlier awkwardness - fell into a silly mood and spent all afternoon coming up with terrible rhyming couplets that made Yoongi cringe. He wasn’t taking it seriously. Normally Yoongi would be pissed, but somehow he couldn’t be bothered.

It wasn’t so bad, really. Yoongi felt himself relaxing further and further; lulled by the melody of rain pattering against the cafe windows mingling with the sound of his pen scritching against paper and Jimin’s tinkly laughter.

They ended up staying for hours, drinking coffee and ordering slices of lemon cake when they got hungry. He enjoyed spending time with Jimin - a fact which always took him by surprise. By closing time, Yoongi was genuinely reluctant to leave. Jimin gave him a sweet, sheepish smile over his crumpled balls of notebook paper and promised he’d do better next week.

“Sure,” said Yoongi easily.

-----

Next week didn’t happen.

Four more consecutive attempts at arranging their schedules came to no avail. It was getting ridiculous. Yoongi tried one last time, shooting off a quick text:

-how bout tuesday

Jimin responded instantly:

- no can do :(

-Kookie has a dentist’s appointment :(

-he doesn’t know which bus to take to get there

-I have to go with him >.<

-nvm then

-sorry!!

-forget it. maybe some other time.

He tossed his phone down onto his nightstand, rolled over, and went to bed in a bad mood. Whatever.

Jimin did try, yes, but Yoongi didn’t feel like playing endless telephone tag or second-fiddle to Kim Taehyung or Jeon Jungkook. If Jimin didn’t have time, he didn’t have time.

It still annoyed the fuck out of Yoongi, though.

He gritted his teeth. Jimin preoccupied his thoughts far more than he ought to, and there wasn’t anything Yoongi could do about it.

Sure, he found Jimin attractive, physically. But that was just… you’d have to be blind not to find Park Jimin attractive. And anyway, he thought that about a lot of people and it meant nothing . Case in point: Kim Seokjin was probably the best-looking person Yoongi had ever seen in his entire life, but he definitely didn’t think of Jin like that . Jin had the personality of an old man to neutralise everything he had going for him... whereas Jimin was sweet and cute and ripped and the way he danced was just-

Yoongi grimaced.

It was always here that his logic faltered and stalled in the middle of more than one sleepless night, the same thoughts meandering round and round his head. He couldn’t think of a single flaw that could render Park Jimin unlikeable, undateable. He thought about it hard, trying to remember all the reasons Jimin was out of bounds, and couldn’t think of anything-

Besides his feelings for Hoseok, of course.

A flicker of guilt washed over Yoongi at the thought of Hoseok - and it was absurd, really, to feel this way, because there was nothing there, either. A little voice in the back of his head reminded him that he could never have Hoseok...

... but he could have Jimin.

He shook the thought away, appalled. That wasn’t even true. It was just presumptuous . He couldn’t just have Jimin - he’d already turned that down. He’d done it right there, in that cafe of his, and Jimin clearly hadn’t forgotten.

Besides, even if he wanted to, which he didn’t - Jimin might not feel the same way anymore. Jimin had Jungkook and Taehyung now, and probably many more like them. Yoongi wasn’t going to fool himself into thinking otherwise.

It was stupid to even be thinking about it.

-----

Yoongi knew better, knew it was a shitty thing to do, but he couldn’t stop himself from doing it. He let Jimin’s messages pile up, only responding with the bare minimum, and knew he was an asshole.

Things were complicated inside Yoongi’s head at the moment. He needed some time to organize how he felt. Maybe it was a blessing that Jimin was too busy with his roommates.

Except, apparently, he wasn’t-

Yoongi wondered if he was seeing things. Surely not. He’d only had two cups of coffee, nowhere near enough caffeine to be having midday hallucinations. “What are you doing here?”

Jimin was making a habit out of showing up out of the blue and making Yoongi’s stomach lurch like he’d just boarded the world’s tallest rollercoaster. Despite the shock, he felt the gloomy cloud he’d been living in for days lift for a brief, wonderful moment. This was going to be a problem, he thought helplessly.

“I figured you might be here,” Jimin replied, hovering at the edge of Yoongi’s table. He looked happy but hesitant. “I texted you a few minutes ago, but you didn’t reply, so I thought I’d just try my luck.”

Yoongi blinked. His phone was on silent and was currently buried at the bottom of his bag.

Jimin shifted his weight from one foot to the other, expression growing more and more wary. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have shown up without warning, but you didn’t say anything and I…” he trailed off, looking worried. “Sorry. Am I bothering you? You look busy, I’ll go-”

“Sit,” said Yoongi, cutting him off.

“Okay.” Jimin sat, tugging at the brim of his red beanie.

“What’s up?” he asked gruffly. “Shouldn’t you be refereeing a boxing match? Or have they killed each other?”

Pink tinged Jimin’s cheeks. Yoongi checked his tone, asked more neutrally, “You need something?”

Jimin shook his head. “No, I just… it’s been awhile since the last time we met up, and I-”

He didn’t finish the sentence. Yoongi’s brain helpfully filled in the rest with something so patently ridiculous (and wishful)  he had to tell himself to shut it down. Don’t be stupid. He opened his mouth to ask if Jimin was planning to stay, but the cafe door opened again… and just like that, his bad mood came back. Two people entered, elbowing each other.

“Jimin!” Jungkook yelled. “There you are!”

For fuck’s sake. Someone had to teach that kid to use his indoor voice. Yoongi gritted his teeth.

“Oh,” said Jimin. His face fell, but only for a fraction of a second, and then he was smiling and waving his friends over. Yoongi wondered if he’d imagined it.

“Found you at last!” Kim Taehyung beamed. He looked… absolutely ridiculous, as per usual. Yoongi’s eyeballs felt like they would explode due to overstimulation just from looking at the extremely loud pattern of Taehyung’s shirt. It was hideous.

“You followed me,” Jimin said weakly. “Cool.”

“This place looks nice,” Taehyung said, to which Jungkook sneered (Yoongi had to refrain from standing up to smack him across the back of the head, seriously), “-but it’s a bit far, though, isn’t it?”

“I like it here,” Jimin replied. “The lattes are really good.”

“Really? Did you order yet? I’ll get one for you-”

“No, I will-” said Jungkook, and the two idiots rushed off, jostling each other in order to be the first to buy Jimin his favourite latte. A heavy feeling settled in Yoongi’s gut. He didn’t want to admit to it, but there was no point in lying to himself. He was disappointed. Bitterly. It didn’t sit well with him.

Even from a twenty-foot distance, Kim Taehyung’s perfect profile was visible as he waited in line and studied the menu. Jungkook stood behind him, handsomeness not in any way diminished by a serious case of bitch face. Yoongi looked away from them, turning his gaze towards Jimin- Jimin with his cute face and good personality and ridiculously stellar abdominal muscles-

It just didn’t make sense .

Aside from everything else that was driving him crazy these days, this was the original question. The one thing Yoongi had never been able to figure out. He just didn’t understand. Not before, and definitely not now.

“I don’t get it,” Yoongi muttered, crossing out the single word he’d written on his notebook page. The words came out of his mouth without warning. He didn’t mean to say it out loud, but- “Why would you like me?”

Jimin looked at him, eyes wide. “What?”

Too late to take it back, but he tried anyway. “Nevermind,” Yoongi said roughly, utterly and completely horrified. What the fuck is wrong with me??

There was a long, long silence. Yoongi wanted to die of mortification. Finally, Jimin cleared his throat, his cheeks flushed with pink, looking as awkward as Yoongi felt. “I just…. did, that’s all.”

Did . Past tense. Of course. That answered one question, at least, and provided closure on any doubt he might have had on the subject. Jimin wasn’t interested in Yoongi anymore. Not romantically.

Which was fine. It was exactly what he’d expected. Yoongi made more angry scribbles on his notebook page, avoiding Jimin’s searing gaze. It was fixed on the middle of his forehead. He could feel it drilling a hole there.

“Why is it… weird?”

He stiffened, and made himself look at Jimin. “What?”

“That I liked you,” said Jimin. His eyes held Yoongi’s, and there was curiosity in them, overpowering the embarrassment. “You asked, like it’s weird.”

“Because it is?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I just don’t get it.” I’m me.  And you’re you. “We’re completely different. Opposites.”

Yoongi was half-afraid Jimin would say something cheesy about opposites attracting one another. Instead he spoke carefully, head tilted, “Is that bad?”

“I didn’t say it was bad, it’s just-”

What? He wasn’t sure.

Only - why me?

Even without Jungkook and Taehyung in the picture, Jimin could easily have fallen for Hoseok, who he spent tons of time with. That was easy to imagine, and Yoongi had really believed it in the beginning. Hoseok could be anyone’s top choice. Or even Old Man Jin, if you wanted eye candy. Or if it was the rapping, there was Namjoon. Steady, smart, philosophical Namjoon with a Master’s degree in Literature nearly under his belt.

Anyone, really.

Love is blind, said a mocking voice in the fringes of his imagination, one that sounded like Jin. He wanted to sputter indignantly at the voice and tell it to shut the fuck up. Jimin was watching him closely, waiting for an answer.

“Dunno,” he said self-consciously, using a tone that signalled he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. “Guess it doesn’t matter, anyway.”

Jimin seemed like he wanted to doggedly pursue the topic, but Yoongi was spared from further embarrassment by Jungkook’s triumphant return, latte in hand. He slammed it onto the table in front of Jimin so forcefully the lid came off and splashed Yoongi’s notes.

“Sorry,” Jungkook mumbled sheepishly, as Yoongi cursed and Jimin winced.

Taehyung swooped in, sliding his own latte onto the table and pushing Jungkook’s smoothly  aside. “Ta-da! Your favourite!”

A vein throbbed in Jungkook’s neck, and he looked like he was ready to deck Taehyung right then and there. Yoongi half wanted to see it happen, but Jimin stood up quickly and said, “Let’s go get another drink! For Yoongi! What do you want, Yoongi?”

“Nothing.” Yoongi stood abruptly as well, chair scraping the floor loudly as he pushed away from the table. “I’m going to the bathroom.”

He didn’t expect to be followed. It wasn’t Jimin. That was probably for the best - it would be more awkward than he could handle if he had to pee with Jimin standing next to him-

But still, this was just weird .

“Can I help you with something?” he asked, the sarcasm potent in his voice.

Kim Taehyung didn’t bat an eyelash. “Jimin’s been trying to contact you for days now. Good luck he caught you here today, right?”

Yoongi grunted, “Yeah.”

“Jimin tells me everything, you know.”

Where the fuck was this going , he wondered on high alert. His hand inched to his zipper. “What’s your point?”

“You weren’t very nice, at first. So I heard.”

Ah. Here we go.

“We’re friends now,” Yoongi said, keeping his tone calm. What was it he’d seen once, in a nature special? Never show fear, or animals would attack without qualm. He wasn’t afraid of Kim Taehyung.

“I know. Jimin says he’s happy about it.”

He knew passive-aggressive when he heard it, and Kim Taehyung wasn’t even close to subtle. “But you’re not?”

“I just don’t want Jimin to get hurt.” The again was implied, as strongly as ever.

Yoongi temporarily forgot he had his pants around his knees and his dick out. He turned to face his enemy face on. “No one’s hurting Jimin. Especially not me.”

“I know you won’t,” said Kim Taehyung. He blinked, slow and careful. “I won’t forgive you. Even if Jimin does.”

Something in his expression made Yoongi stiffen. “Is that a threat?”

“No,” said Taehyung lightly, giving Yoongi a sudden, whiplash-inducing smile. He patted Yoongi’s shoulder.

Seriously. What. The. Fuck. Yoongi opened his mouth to say don’t touch me while I have my pants down, you creep but Taehyung cut him off before he could.

“I don’t think it’ll be necessary, anyway.”

And he walked away, as if he hadn’t cornered Yoongi at a urinal like a fucking pervert.

But he was right. There was nothing to worry about. Yoongi wouldn’t hurt Jimin, they were friends.

Friendship was perfect and comfortable. It wasn’t any more or any less than Yoongi wanted to be, and he was pretty sure Jimin felt the same way.

“I have to get back to work,” he said when he returned,  ignoring the flicker of annoyance he felt at the sight of Jungkook and Jimin playing a round of arm wrestling over their coffees. Taehyung didn’t seem bothered, intently building something out of complimentary stir sticks.

“Oh,” said Jimin, deflating. “Okay.”

“Bye,” said Jungkook.

“Bye~” said Taehyung.

Yoongi ignored them, and slung his backpack over one shoulder. He turned to Jimin, who looked up and gave Yoongi a sheepish smile. “See you later.”

The hint of wistfulness in his voice bolstered Yoongi a bit. He let the thing he’d been entertaining at the back of his mind all month slip and said, “Sunday.”

After all, it was perfectly normal for him to extend an invitation to a friend, wasn’t it?

Jimin blinked. “Eh?”

“My place. If you have time,” he said, with as much casualness as he could muster. “It’s my birthday.”

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi woke up on Sunday morning feeling like he did every other day of the year: lethargic and cranky.

The usual stuff went down. He received a package from his parents and a text from his brother. Jin called him bright and early and sang an off-key rendition of Happy Birthday over the phone. Yoongi gritted his teeth, listened all the way to the end, and hung up without a word. Hoseok called next, forcing  Yoongi to sit in utter agony through Fifty Cent’s In Da Club (was Hoseok already fucking drunk ? At eight in the morning?) and Namjoon sent an email quoting Dr. Seuss ("Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!") plus a photo of a footprint on a beach.

He didn’t delete any of it, but that was for blackmail purposes only.

More birthday messages trickled in, from various acquaintances - including one from Jimin. His good morning text had a birthday cake emoji attached to the end. It was pretty brief. Which was fine, just not what Yoongi had expected. Jimin seemed like he’d be the type to make a big deal out of birthdays, but maybe he was busy. Maybe Taehyung had rolled out of bed and cracked his head open. Maybe Jungkook had snapped and cracked Taehyung’s head open. Maybe Yoongi was being a fucking idiot. Yeah. That last one, probably.

Yoongi shoved that train of thought aside and went on with his day, making a point not to check his cell phone for new messages every few minutes. He ate a bowl of cereal (no new messages) and then went straight back to bed. If a man couldn’t sleep in on his own birthday, when could he? Around 1PM he roused himself again (no new messages) and went to take a shower.

The door rang when Yoongi emerged, hair wet (still no new messages). He answered it in his boxers and tank top and with a towel on his head, assuming it was a delivery guy. Maybe his parents were being extra generous this year.

Or maybe it was Park Jimin, standing on his doorstep with a fucking helium balloon. It was shaped like a heart (Yoongi tried not to read into that) and said BIRFDAY BOY on it in white cursive. He beamed, thrusting the streamer that held the balloon aloft at Yoongi, and chirped, “Hi!”

Yoongi took the balloon, blinking.

True, he’d said “Sunday” without adding a specific time, but most people their age understood that birthday parties took place at night. Not in the middle of the morning.

“You’re early,” Yoongi said, finding his voice at last.

“Sorry,” Jimin blushed. “Can I come in?”

Yoongi nodded, feeling unaccountably warm. He was so surprised he barely had time to feel embarrassed by the state of his apartment. Jin wasn’t coming over for another hour to clean and bake Yoongi his birthday cake - their annual tradition. (On Jin’s birthday, Yoongi went on a pilgrimage around the city to buy ten different types of gourmet flavoured chicken tenders. He still wasn’t sure if this was a fair trade, but Jin insisted it was.)

“Sit anywhere you want,” Yoongi said, gesturing to the sofa.

“Okay,” Jimin said. He didn’t sit, though, and came over to stand before Yoongi, holding out a black bag. “I actually just came to give you this.”

“What is it?”

“Your present. Happy Birthday.”

Yoongi took it slowly, genuinely surprised again. He hadn’t expected it. He rarely expected gifts on his birthday - his friends weren’t the type - but when he did they were usually gag gifts or things like vodka or gift cards. Hoseok was bringing a bottle of scotch later - Yoongi had been impressed, that was way more fancy than usual.

Jimin grinned eagerly at him. “Open it!”

It was a black sweater, in the right size, soft and heavy and expensive looking. The label on the inside of the collar made Yoongi’s eyes bulge. He lowered the sweater and met Jimin’s gaze with incredulity. “I can’t accept this, it’s way too expensive-”

“No, it wasn’t!” Jimin said hastily. “I had a discount!”

“Yeah?”

“My friend works at a department store-”

Yoongi wasn’t sure if he believed this story, but he didn’t know how else Jimin could’ve afforded a gift like this - especially not on his student’s budget. Hell, Yoongi couldn’t afford this kind of luxury, and he had a job that paid semi-decently.

“Thanks. This is-,” he paused, suddenly overwhelmed by the soft weight of the garment in his hands, “-it’s really nice.”

He meant it, he really did. Deep down Yoongi was a bit of a sucker for the finer things in life - he liked expensive cologne, fancy headphones, pretty cars (and bath bombs, but that was a secret). A cashmere sweater fell neatly into that category.

Jimin nodded, a bit shy, but he looked extremely pleased. “Try it on! I hope it fits - I asked Jin for your size-”

Well, that explained why he’d caught Jin snooping around his stuff a couple of days ago. He probably was going to have to apologize for telling Jin off, but whatever.

Yoongi pulled the soft black material over his head and instantly never wanted to take it off again.

“It looks good,” Jimin said, beaming. He gave Yoongi's reflection two thumbs up.

Warmth suffused Yoongi’s cheeks. He cleared his throat and turned around to face his guest. “Thanks, Jimin.”

“You’re welcome.” 

They regarded one another in silence for a moment. Then Jimin opened his mouth and spoke.

“You know, actually,” Jimin began, his words staccato, as if he were having a hard time getting them out. He tugged at his beanie nervously. “There’s another reason I came over early today-” He flushed when Yoongi looked back sharply at him, catching the note of something in his voice. “I wanted to ask you something.”

Yoongi waited.

Jimin licked his lips, eyes hesitant. “Can I?”

“What?”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Yeah. Of course you can.” The air felt expectant. Jimin took a step forward, his expression nervous but determined. Yoongi’s stomach did that weird flip thing again. “What is it?”

“You know,” he said, stammering, “About last time, what you said-”

What he said? What had he said?

A jolt of anticipation zipped through Yoongi’s chest, making him bold.

“Refresh my memory,” he found himself saying now, in a voice that was a few octaves deeper than it usually was. He wasn’t sure why. Only it gave him a tiny thrill to see the effect it had on Jimin, whose eyes went wide at the raspy words.

“Oh. Well. You asked me why I-”

His words were cut off by a sudden, shrill sound. The sense of unreality increased. Jimin fumbled in his pocket for his phone, looking embarrassed and apologetic. Yoongi felt like the helium balloon he was still holding - but pierced, all the air leaking from his lungs.

Jimin mumbled, his features apologetic, “Sorry, I-”

“Answer it,” Yoongi said.

The moment was lost, anyway.

Jimin picked up, and he sounded almost angry as he muttered “Hello?” to whoever was calling him. The voice on the other end said something that made Jimin’s face fall even more.

“Yeah,” he said, shoulders slumping. “OK, I get it. I’ll be there. See you soon.” He hung up, and gave Yoongi a disappointed smile. “Sorry. That was my project partner. Our professor changed his office hours, and we need to get in to see him-”

Yoongi shrugged, as if it didn’t matter, but his insides felt like they had been turned into liquid. Jimin departed reluctantly, promising he’d be back later for the party. It took several hours for Yoongi’s heartbeat to go back to its natural pace.

-----

True to his word, Jimin returned that night with Hoseok and Jin. Even Namjoon had come out of academic solitary confinement for the evening. Yoongi was almost touched. His appreciation dropped sharply when he noticed Jungkook and Taehyung were trailing behind his friends, bickering as usual.

“I invited them,” Jin said calmly. He had no shame. “The more the merrier!”

No one deserved this kind of punishment on their own birthday, Yoongi thought darkly, but relented when he saw Jimin looking like he was afraid Yoongi would actually kick them out. With a sigh, Yoongi stepped aside and allowed the idiots across the threshold, with Jimin entering last.

Anticipation and fear and hope mingled together when Jimin stopped mid-step to hug him and greet him with “-Happy Birthday, Yoongi.”

He liked hearing it again. Jimin had gone for a change of clothing in between now and his earlier visit. He’d exchanged his hoodie for a blazer and joggers for distressed denim. Jimin looked good - but then again, he always did.

Yoongi was still checking Jimin out when Jin interrupted, brandishing two bags of party supplies at Yoongi. He hadn’t managed to come by earlier. “I’m making punch! Had to buy your cake, no time. Sorry, man.”

Disappointing, but he’d live.

“I brought you a preseeeeeent,” Hoseok trilled. He’d been pre-drinking. Of course. He yanked something out from under his left jacket front, and burst into laughter. It was a packaged frozen fish. “From me and Taehyungie!”

Kim Taehyung smiled, lifting a peace sign to his face. Well. That was news. Taehyung and Hoseok were friends now. Yoongi wasn’t sure how to feel about this development.

“So, what did Jimin give you?” Hoseok asked, after he’d forced Yoongi to take roughly fifty selfies with the mackerel. (Jin took it and put it into the fridge, because he was Jin, and returned with more beer.) The way Hoseok said it, all meaningfully, made Yoongi think he already knew.

All the eyes in the room turned to Yoongi as he tugged at the hem of his sweater and answered nonchalantly, “This-”

The reaction was as expected. Hoseok and Jin crowded around, reaching out to touch him - inappropriately, of course, so he swatted them away. Jimin accepted praise for his good taste, grinning. The only person who seemed upset by the fact that Yoongi was wearing Jimin’s birthday present was Jungkook. He scowled and downed the rest of his glass of punch in one chug. Jealous, Yoongi thought, with a flash of vindictive pleasure.

Kim Taehyung, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care at all. He looked back and forth between Yoongi and Jungkook and shrugged, before throwing an arm over Jungkook’s shoulders. The gesture was unwelcome, of course - Jungkook shook him off and snapped, “Get away from me! You reek!”

“Let’s get some music playing,” Hoseok exclaimed, oblivious to the by-play going on behind him. “This is so boring! Namjoon! Where’s your speaker!”

Once they had music going, and it was going loud - he was going to get complaints from all the neighbours tomorrow - Hoseok became unstoppable. He always went crazy if so much as a drop of alcohol entered his bloodstream. It was as endearing as it was fuck-all annoying, a fact Yoongi had learned to accept and cherish. He noticed that Taehyung wasn’t abstaining tonight. He’d pre-drunk too, from the looks of it. Jimin seemed rather giggly, but that was pretty normal for him, so Yoongi couldn’t tell either way.

“Grinding party on the birthday boy!” Hoseok bellowed suddenly, dragging the two closest people to him - Jungkook and Namjoon - towards Yoongi. “Come on everybody! Pile on!”

Yoongi steeled himself for the attack, and sighed. Always, always the grinding. He had a flashback to Jin’s party, the night Hoseok and Jimin had teamed up on him, and felt a surge of heat climb to his face.

“No way,” Jungkook yelled.

“You couldn’t pay me,” Jin said from across the room, words muffled by the mouthful of chips he was chewing. Thank fuck for that. If he had to endure Jin rubbing up on him he’d rather kill himself-

“I’ll do it!” cried Taehyung, charging towards him like a drunken giraffe. “I’ll grind!”

Yoongi cursed and took a step back. “Get the fuck away from me-”

“I’ll pass,” said Namjoon calmly, twisting away. He tripped and landed underfoot. Jungkook tripped over him and fell, taking Hoseok down, too.

“Back off.” Yoongi shoved Taehyung away. “Get up, you losers. This is the worst birthday party ever.”

A slew of giggles came from the floor. Mainly from Hoseok, who was trying pull himself upright by using Jimin’s legs.”Don’t pretend you don’t love it!”

More drinking ensued. Yoongi’s mixtape came on the speakers, and Jimin was pushed into the centre of the room amidst chants of “Dance! Dance! Dance!”

He did his Tony Montana routine, eyes meeting Yoongi’s every few seconds. Yoongi felt hot under the collar - too much beer and no cake in his belly to absorb it. The alcohol was going straight to his head. He was sweating and his stomach was roiling, and it had nothing to do with the sight of Taehyung throwing himself into Jimin’s back halfway through Yoongi’s song, playfully spanking Jimin’s bottom as Hoseok screeched with glee.

“Settle down,” said Jin, but he was drowned out.

Hoseok announced they were going to play a drinking game to the next track. Every time Yoongi swore they had to knock back a shot. Hilarious. The next song was 50% fuck you and Hoseok knew it. Taehyung yelled something about love shots in Jimin’s direction, and enough was enough.

Jimin glanced up as Yoongi stood on shaky legs and went into the kitchen to take a breather. No one tried to stop him. It was a bit pathetic, maybe, to be hiding in his own kitchen during his own birthday party, but Yoongi didn’t care.

He was only allowed a few minutes of reprieve before Jin wandered in, carrying a bag of chips.

“Cake time,” he said, by way of greeting.

“Forget it,” Yoongi muttered. “None of them are sober enough for cake. I don’t wanna have to clean it off my sofa.”

“Cake time,” Jin repeated, as if he hadn’t heard a word Yoongi had said. He opened the cake box and started slicing unevenly. Yoongi assumed the piece that was roughly half the size of the cake was for Jin.

He scowled. “Fine, whatever.”

“I’ll take care of it. Go back,” Jin said. “Jimin misses you.”

Yoongi felt his face grow hot. “Shut up.”

Jin had the audacity to laugh. He threw his arm over Yoongi’s shoulder, and the way he was so sure on his feet was a telltale sign he wasn’t drunk in the least. Jin’s level of alcohol tolerance was always surprising. He could drink and drink and drink but never lost his composure. Which was how he always managed to get one-up on his friends when they were drunk.

“This is a really nice sweater,” he hummed, rubbing his dirty honey-butter coated fingers all over Yoongi’s shoulder. “Jimin has good taste.”

He sure did.

Jin cocked an eyebrow. “Do I really have to say it?”

“Say what?”

“You know.” When Yoongi didn’t answer, Jin rolled his eyes. “Dude, really?”

“What?”

Come on, Yoongi,” he said, impatience in his voice. “You should be past this point now. I can see it in your face. You can’t be this dense.”

“What are you talking about?” He knew he sounded stupid. He didn’t give a shit.

“Jimin. When are you going to give up pretending you don’t want to bone his brains out?”

A wave of intense embarrassment made Yoongi sputter, “I don’t-”

“Oh, please!”

Seconds ticked by, thick with tension. Jin was glaring at him, his arms crossed over his chest, and Yoongi knew there was no way to get out of having this conversation. He gave in.

“It’s not that simple,” Yoongi said quietly, so only Jin could hear. He felt vulnerable, letting his guard down like this - but it was Jin, after all. Jin already knew.

“What isn’t?”

Yoongi shrugged, not quite able to say the words. He let the silence linger.

“You’re allowed to change your mind,” Jin said eventually, cutting straight to the heart of it without a flinch. Sometimes he was a razor sharp chef’s knife and other times he was a plastic spork, but this was a moment that belonged to the former category. “You didn’t know you’d feel this way about Jimin five months ago. It’s fine. I hate saying this, I really do, but you didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t like Jimin that way and you were honest about it. You could’ve been more diplomatic, maybe, but that’s water under the bridge.”

Logically, Yoongi knew this was all true. What Jin said made sense. He’d made a mistake, but if Jimin was willing to forgive, if there was a chance...

Yoongi’s voice only cracked slightly as he asked, “What about Hoseok?”

“What about Hoseok?” Jin demanded. “It doesn’t matter.

He was pretty sure it did, but there was no opportunity to argue otherwise. Hoseok’s voice came from the other room, “OI, BIRTHDAY BOY! GET YER ASS BACK HERE!”

“I’ll bring the cake out in a bit!” Jin said, and shoved him back into the chaos. “Don’t be a wimp.”

-----

The drinking game had taken a toll. Jungkook was on the floor, possibly unconscious, and Taehyung was sitting next to him, poking him in the butt with Yoongi’s tv remote. He would have to sanitize that later. Yoongi stepped over them, making a beeline for the sofa. He didn’t hesitate in forcing Jimin and Hoseok apart so he could sit in between. Jin laughed at him from the kitchen doorway but he didn’t care.

Namjoon began freestyling in the middle of the room, wearing his sunglasses. It was absolutely terrible. At some point Jimin  rolled off the sofa, clutching his belly from laughing so hard. Before Yoongi could drag him back up - he was having trouble moving because Hoseok was all over him - Jin darted in and snatched Jimin away.

“He’s gonna puke,” was the excuse. Jimin barely put up a fight. Maybe he really was about to vomit. In which case there was all the more reason for Yoongi to be nervous, and not just for the obvious gleam in Jin’s eyes. 

A few minutes later Jin came back, met Yoongi’s gaze across the room, and mouthed, ‘bedroom’ as he waggled both eyebrows up and down. Yoongi snorted, but even as he rolled his own eyes in response he felt his stomach do a somersault. Jin grinned and gave him a thumbs up, no doubt he thought he was being the World’s Greatest Wingman.

And maybe he was.

Yoongi set his drink down, lifted Hoseok’s legs off his knees, and stood. He cleared his throat, muttered loudly, “Gotta take a leak-,” and made his way towards his bedroom.

He was intercepted in the tiny hallway by Jungkook, who apparently was not unconscious. Just completely shit-faced.

“What do you have that I don’t?” Jungkook whined.

“I know how to make ice cubes,” Yoongi dead-panned. He gave him a tiny push with the tip of one finger. Jungkook swayed dangerously, and then fell butt-first with a heavy thump onto the hallway floor. He stayed there, seemingly stunned by his newfound position.

“Two aspirin and lots of water,” Yoongi advised before  shutting the door, because he wasn’t a monster. Jungkook probably wouldn’t remember. Oh well.

His room was dark and quiet compared to the rowdy frenzy of the kitchen and living room. He rubbed his neck, suddenly aware of the situation and how it might be… inappropriate.

It was Jin’s fault.

Yoongi took a deep breath and shook his head. There was nothing to be worried about. He wasn’t going to do anything to take advantage of Jimin, he wasn’t that kind of person. He was just going to check up on Jimin - no big deal. Jimin was a guest and he wasn’t feeling well and it was Yoongi’s duty to make sure he was okay.

Jimin had been placed in Yoongi’s bed and was rolled up in Yoongi’s bedding, barely visible except for a tuft of dark hair sticking out beneath the worn  grey duvet. He padded quietly over to the bed, flicked on a lamp, and lifted one edge of the covers. He was relieved (honestly) to see that Jimin’s shirt hadn’t mysteriously disappeared like it had the last time Jin had wanted to play the enterprising matchmaker.

Jimin’s eyes opened.

“Hey,” Yoongi said, moving to sit on the edge of the mattress. He gave Jimin a small, not-quite smile. “You okay?”

“I’m drunk,” Jimin whispered.

“Yeah,” said Yoongi, definitely smiling now. “Looks like it.”

“Where am I?”

“My bed,” Yoongi informed him. “You didn’t puke under there, did you?”

“No!”

“Good. Just checking.” He regarded Jimin’s woebegone expression and fought back a laugh. “Thought you might want a piece of cake before Jin eats it all, but I don’t think you’re up to it right now.”

Jimin’s face went taut, as if in panic. “I want cake!”

“I’ll save you a piece.”

“I wanna eat it now!” he exclaimed resolutely and attempted to sit up, which merely resulted in Jimin collapsing face-first into Yoongi’s lap.

Shit. Yoongi sucked in a stunned breath. Jimin huffed, disoriented by his fall, and went very still. He lay sprawled across Yoongi’s thighs, an unmoving, warm weight. Yoongi hesitated, unsure of what to make of the situation. After a moment of silent contemplation, he gingerly placed a hand on the back of Jimin’s head.

“You okay?” he asked.

Jimin roused slightly, and muttered, “Soft-” He nuzzled his cheek against the fuzzy fabric of the sweater covering Yoongi’s stomach.

Yoongi swallowed, hard. “Yeah.”

“Sorry,” Jimin mumbled, nose crinkling. “Everything’s spinning.”

Even drunk, Jimin was the cutest thing within a ten-mile radius. He didn’t know how someone could be this cute while three sheets to the wind, but anything was possible when it came to Park Jimin.

“It’s alright,” Yoongi said, giving into the impulse to run his hands through the short hairs at the nape of Jimin’s neck. “You’re fine. You can sleep it off.”

That was fine. Jimin could stay and use Yoongi’s bed for the night. It wasn’t a problem. It was totally fine.

“Don’t wanna,” Jimin muttered into the rolls of Yoongi’s sweater. “Don’t go-”

“It’s my apartment,” Yoongi told him, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Jimin made a noise, half-whine, half-grunt. It was cute. After a moment’s hesitation, Yoongi reached out and patted the back of his head. He sighed, letting his fingers slide through Jimin’s hair. It was soft and springy, slightly sticky to the touch thanks to the hair wax he’d used to style it. Jimin arched into the touch, like a cat being petted, and mumbled something Yoongi couldn’t make out. “What?”

Another moan, this one sounding suspiciously like a gag. Uh oh. “Are you going to puke?”

“No-!” Jimin lifted his head, an expression of utterly inebriated horror on his face. His nose scrunched.  “I don’t puke! I’m not a lightweight!”

Yoongi grinned. “Uh huh.”

“I can drink! I drank on my birthday last year, I drank until Taehyung, Taehyung… Taehyung went…” he trailed off, losing his train of thought. “My… my birthday. S’coming up. You know?”

“Know what?”

Jimin’s nose scrunched again, and then evened out as he remembered what he wanted to say. “Wanna come to my birthday party?”

“Sure, kid,” said Yoongi. “I’ll come to your birthday party. When’s your birthday?”

“October.”

“Ok. I’ll get you a great present. The best present.” He paused. “What do you want?”

“Wanna hear you rap live-”

Yoongi shook his head. “That’s not a present.”

“Yes it is-!”

“All right, all right. You can hear me rap anytime, though,” he pointed out mildly.

Jimin’s lower lip jutted out.

“All right,” said Yoongi again. “If it means that much to you.”

“Promise?”

“We’ll discuss it when you’re sober.”

There was silence but for the sound of Jimin’s breathing. Yoongi waited to see if he would answer, but when several minutes ticked by with no response, he knew one wasn’t coming. Maybe Jimin had passed out. He was going to have a mother of a hangover in the morning just like Jungkook, Yoongi thought with pity.

Jimin suddenly groaned. Yoongi looked down, vaguely alarmed. “You okay there, Park?”

A huffy sigh came from the nest of blankets. “No.”

“What’s wrong now? Do you feel sick?” Yoongi scanned the room for something that could be used as a puke bowl, knowing it would be impossible to get Jimin to the bathroom if he started to throw up  in his current state. Maybe one of his old basketball trophies could do the job, as distasteful as the thought was. He gently jostled the bundle of drunken dancer in his lap. “Hey. Jimin? You okay?”

“Not okay,” Jimin muttered, curling himself up into a near fetal position. He looked awfully vulnerable, which made Yoongi’s heart skip a beat. “No one likes me.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“S’true. You didn’t like me.”

A lump formed in Yoongi’s throat. Fuck. “What? I like you.”

A loud snort - impressive considering how far gone Jimin was - came from the blankets, followed by a hiccup.

“I do,” Yoongi said.

Jimin muttered something that sounded like not like that, but it was hard to tell when he was slurring all his words.

Carefully, even though Jimin was drunk and probably wouldn’t remember having this conversation in the morning, he said gently, “It's not because there’s anything wrong with you, you know that right?”

“I know,” Jimin murmured, pressing his face into the blanket. He hiccuped again. “S’not me, s’you, right? Feels like me, tho-”

“You’re fine,” said Yoongi. “You’re perfect.” Yoongi shook his head. “It’s me, kid.”

Definitely me.

Jimin wasn’t the first, nor would he be the last - just one of many ships Yoongi had allowed to pass in the night in his dogged pursuit of the impossible. He’d never felt bitter about any of them before, but Jimin… 

Maybe he was bad at picking up signals and seeing things that were right in front of his face - he’d been the last to realise Jimin liked him all those months - but he felt pretty certain he wasn’t misreading things now. This didn’t feel like past tense. It didn’t feel like just friends. This felt like…

Like Jimin still… well.

He sighed, brushed Jimin’s bangs out of his eyes, and wished Jimin wasn’t drunk to the point of oblivion at the moment.

“You should drink some water,” Yoongi said, thinking of the massive hangover Jimin was going to have later. There was aspirin in the bathroom cabinet. “Come on, I’ll get you a glass of water-”

Jimin clung like an octopus, making it impossible for Yoongi to stand, and moaned as if he was being sentenced to death.

“You’ll regret it in the morning,” Yoongi warned, watching Jimin’s expression carefully for signs of imminent projectile vomiting. The crease between his eyebrows seemed more pained than nauseous.

He lifted his head and released his grip on Yoongi’s sweater - for a second it seemed like Jimin was going to let go completely, but then his hands came up to Yoongi’s face and clamped down on either cheek with a sharp, almost painful smack.

“You’re spinnin-” Jimin said. “Stay still-! It’s making me dizzy-!” He threw his arms around Yoongi’s neck, a small giggling erupting from his lips, all traces of sad-and-lonely!Jimin gone. One thing was for sure: Jimin was an emotional drunk, going from up to down to back up again.

Yoongi sighed and allowed the embrace. He couldn’t deny that he was enjoying this - it was the closest physical contact they’d ever had, barring the brief hugs Jimin had given him a couple of times - and he wanted to make it last, prolong the warmth and sweetness of it. It was unearned and probably wouldn’t happen again.

He felt a pang in his chest as Jimin sighed contentedly, snuggling even closer.

Just this once, he thought, half-ashamed of himself, but willing to rationalize his way out. It wouldn’t hurt to indulge. He was just… comforting Jimin. Helping him out. There wasn’t any harm in that, was there?

Carefully he ran his hand down Jimin’s side, hand stroking along muscle and skin, and turned his head, pressing his nose to the underside of Jimin’s jaw, just below his ear. There was no resistance. Jimin was practically boneless in Yoongi’s arms. His lips parted on a sigh, warm breath ghosting over Yoongi’s cheek.

Yoongi pulled back, and held himself very still, looking down at Jimin’s face. His mouth was a mere inch or two away. Practically no distance at all.

Temptation beckoned, almost beyond endurance.

No. Jimin was drunk. He couldn’t.

Absolutely not-

When was the last time he’d kissed someone? He couldn’t remember, and even if he could, he was pretty sure no one he’d ever kissed could compare to Jimin. He just knew.

“Yoongi,” came the whisper, almost too soft to catch.

“Yeah,” he said, voice thick, cracking slightly.

Jimin was staring at Yoongi’s mouth. He was so, so close. He was so close and his mouth was so close and he was definitely looking at Yoongi’s lips, eyes half-lidded and filled with something that could only be described as want, and Yoongi wasn’t a good enough person to resist that kind of attractive force-

Jimin’s eyes closed further, making Yoongi’s heart leap - he wants you to, do it, fuck it, he wants you to - Yoongi froze, poised on the edge of moving and not moving, and in that split second of agonized indecision, the opportunity was lost. 

Jimin’s head dropped to Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi froze in disbelief.

“Jimin?”

No response.

He said, a bit louder, “Park Jimin-” and shook his shoulder. Jimin’s head rolled to the side, giving Yoongi a glimpse of his flushed face. His stomach sank.

Jimin’s eyes were shut, and his breathing was even, gentle. He was asleep.

Chapter Text

Apart from being a blanket hog, Jimin was apparently also the world’s most acrobatic sleeper.

He rolled back and forth constantly, stretching and tossing and moving about like he was doing a dance routine in his dreams. Undoubtedly he was. As a result, there were bruises all up and down Yoongi’s left side from a particularly rigorous John Travolta-esque Saturday Night Fever set of moves around 3AM.

For his own safety, Yoongi had had no choice but to restrain Jimin from moving. He was Staying Alive, and his method of choice had been: Big spoon, Little spoon. At first he wasn’t sure if it would even work - Jimin was stronger than he looked, slim but muscled all over. (Literally all over - Yoongi was able to confirm this through proximity. And through clothing. All the clothing stayed on. He wasn’t a bastard.) After a few seconds of resistance and inadvertent sucker-punching, Jimin settled down, curling up and leaning back into Yoongi’s chest as though he belonged there. And then Yoongi had a different, private reason for not being able to sleep.

When the sun came up he left Jimin snoring in the bed (it was cute snoring, really cute snoring, the kind of cute snoring you wanted to wake up to every day because you were a disgustingly sentimental pervert) and struggled to make his way to the toilet because of the usual reasons. Morning-related reasons.

Yoongi barely made it across the threshold before tripping over something big and solid. Jungkook was sleeping on the floor. He hadn’t moved. Yoongi sighed and stepped over him. He took a few steps down the hall and peeked into the living room. Yeah. A disaster zone, as expected. At least none of the others were awake.

He slipped back into the bathroom and stared at his own reflection while he waited for said shameful morning reason to slowly abate. Patchy colour resided on his cheeks, like twin badges of guilt. His brain was mired in alcohol and exhaustion but it wouldn’t quit. Yoongi turned on the faucet and splashed water on his face.

He was too old for this shit. Too old to be lying to himself, and definitely too old to be spending restless nights in his own bed resisting unholy temptation.

A thump on the door brought him back to reality. He turned off the tap, wiped his face with a towel he hoped was clean and opened the door to see Kim Taehyung bouncing from foot to foot, hand over his crotch.

“Please, pleasepleasepleaseplease-”

Yoongi scowled; this was exactly what he didn’t need first thing in the morning. Taehyung shot past him and was already pissing before Yoongi even vacated the premises, making a quick grab for the painkillers in the medicine cabinet.

“Don’t fucking make a mess,” he warned, the scorn in his voice only half-hearted. He couldn’t bring himself to get worked up. He tiptoed past Jungkook, and carefully navigated over a pair of legs (Jin) sticking out from under the kitchen table.

Yoongi filled a glass of water and carried it quietly back into the bedroom. Jimin was still asleep, looking as angelic as ever. Yoongi’s heart squeezed at the sight. He grimaced. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t keep lying to himself.

Who am I kidding?

There was nothing friendly about the way he felt when he looked at Jimin, thought about Jimin, touched Jimin.

He sat on the edge of the bed like he had the night before, and stared at Jimin while thinking furiously. Jimin stirred, as if he had been disturbed by the sheer strength of Yoongi’s brain waves.

Softly, and gruffly, Yoongi said, “Morning.”

Jimin blinked blearily, wincing from the effort of trying to clear his vision. When his eyes finally focused on Yoongi’s face, his expression went from confused to happy. A goofy, sleepy smile spread across his features. “Min Yoongi.”

And then he jolted upright in bed, and screamed.

-----

Five minutes later, Yoongi peeled out of the parking lot in Jin’s car with Jimin in the passenger seat. Unbelievable. He made a sharp turn into traffic, and demanded in exasperation, “Seriously, Jimin? Who the fuck gets smashed the night before they have a dance exam ?”

Jimin looked simultaneously embarrassed and green beneath his pallor. He muttered in a small voice, “-it was your birthday. I had to come.”

Yoongi gripped the steering wheel and ignored the way his heart did a funny little flip in his chest.

“Sorry,” Jimin said, sounding miserable. “I’m so stupid. I’m not gonna make it on time and it’s my own fault-”

“Nevermind,” Yoongi said bracingly, clearing his throat. He reached out and gave Jimin a haphazard pat on the cheek with one hand. “What’s the time?”

“Eight-fifty one.”

“Don’t worry.” He moved his hand to the back of Jimin’s neck and squeezed. “I’ll get you to school in ten minutes.”

Yoongi swerved again, as Jimin buried his face in his palms.

-----

An hour later, Yoongi sat self-consciously in the student’s lounge, feeling old and antsy. The coffees he'd bought from a vending machine sat cooling on the seat next to him as he waited.

Jimin’s exam was probably over by now. It was a six minute routine. Even if he did it ten times it’d be done by now. As soon as he had the thought, his phone buzzed. Jimin had sent him a new text.

done!! i’m heading over to the lounge now

are you still there?

yea

kk i’ll be there soon!!

Yoongi waited, but not for long. Jimin appeared in the midst of a crowd of passing students. Everyone looked grim, or half-asleep, or tired to death. Yoongi could relate.

“Hey,” he said, getting up slowly. Pinpricks stabbed at the bottom of his foot - his leg had fallen asleep. He ignored it, and focused on Jimin’s pale face.

“Hey. Thanks for waiting. You didn’t have to.”

Jimin’s expression didn’t look good. Well, crap. Guilt crept through him again.

“Were you late?”

“No.” A tiny smile lifted the corner of Jimin’s mouth. “I wasn’t.”

Yoongi forced himself to ask, “How did it go?”

Jimin shrugged. “Alright, I guess. As well as could be expected. Thanks to you, Yoongi.”

What was that supposed to mean? He had no idea. Yoongi stared helplessly at the miserable slump of Jimin’s shoulders, and tried to think of what to say in response. You’re welcome, and sorry you failed your final exam? Shit happens, better luck next time?

“Thanks to you, I wasn’t late,” Jimin said, into the awkward pause. “And thanks to that...I got an A on the spot!” A giant smile burst across his face. “My professor said it was the best performance he’s seen all semester!”

Yoongi made a strangled noise at the back of his throat. Jimin laughed and ducked the hand Yoongi swatted him with.

"Don’t fucking do that! You almost gave me a heart attack!” Yoongi collapsed dramatically back onto the seat.

Jimin threw himself into the chair next to Yoongi’s, still giggling. He was giddy with relief and it showed on his face.

Yoongi felt the same. It wasn’t even his exam and final grade at stake, but he felt like a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders. And he was proud, too. There was no mistaking that feeling of lightness and warmth in his chest for anything else - he looked at Jimin’s tired face, in all it’s adorable hungover glory, and felt a truly astonishing amount of pride.

“What?” Jimin asked, his smile deepening. “You’re staring.”

You’re amazing , he thought, You’re amazing and I’m so attracted to you and I really want to kiss you right now.

He opened his mouth. Jimin tilted his head, waiting for him to speak.

“My head is killing me,” he said. “The coffee here is shit.”

“Oh,” Jimin giggled, “Yeah, it is.”

Maybe Yoongi had imagined it, but for a brief millisecond before he’d laughed, Jimin had looked… disappointed.

“You want a lift home?”

Jimin shook his head. “I’m going to the studio. I left some stuff there. Besides, Jin has to go to work, he’ll need his car.”

“I’ll give you a ride,” he offered again. “Jin won’t mind.

“Nah, it’s okay. You should go home and get some rest, you look-”

“Like shit. I know. Thanks.”

Jimin’s cheeks went pink. “That’s not what I meant! You just look tired. But you look fine. I mean, you always look… you’re…” Flustered, he trailed off. Then, noticing the look of amusement Yoongi was giving him, Jimin furrowed his forehead cutely and huffed, “I’m just gonna walk. It’s not far. I could use the fresh air. It was kind of stuffy in the car, and you drive too fast.”

Yoongi crossed his arms over his chest. “You calling me a bad driver?”

“Never.”

“Brat.”

Jimin stuck his tongue out. It was childish and silly and cute, and Yoongi couldn’t think of anything except how he knew a better way to put it to good use. Suddenly he didn’t want to go home, or to drive Jimin home, or anywhere else.

It was on the tip of his tongue to say, let’s grab a coffee. But he hesitated, mouth open, heart racing like a horse at track. Jimin had that expression on his face again, the one he always wore when he looked at Yoongi - a look made up of so many things Yoongi couldn’t name them all. Patience. Humour. Expectation.

He cleared his throat, the courage leaking out of him.

Jimin crinkled his eyes, and looked away, the edge of his smile wistful. Then he stood up, hoisting his bag over his shoulder. “Seriously. Don’t worry about me. I can walk.”

-----

Yoongi was in low spirits for the rest of the week. It was the typical post-birthday gloom: he felt old. He was old. Birthday parties were the worst. He vowed never to have one again. There was too much cleaning involved afterwards, and there was only so much leftover birthday cake one person could eat before it got stale to the point of being rejected by the desperately easy birds on his balcony.

His friends were either tired of looking at his face, or they were avoiding him. It might have had something to do with the fact that he had ejected them from his residings very violently after having returned from Jimin’s campus. He didn’t really care. It suited him just fine. He was sick of looking at their faces, too. It didn’t matter that no one came by to see if he was alive, or called him, or texted him.

The silence didn’t last long: by friday he was being inundated by messages from Hoseok (whose phone had apparently been disconnected for a long overdue balance), updating him on five days worth of complaints, memes, and several texts beseeching Yoongi to drop by after practice with drinks, Hoseok was dying, Jimin was dying , they were all dying--

Grudgingly - only because he’d begged, and only because it was Hoseok - Yoongi shaved, styled his hair, put on a fresh t-shirt, doused himself in his favourite cologne, and went to his favourite coffee shop.

-on my way.

He made his way up the stairs to the practice room, pausing to adjust the beanie he’d added at last minute, making sure his hair didn’t stick out funny under it. He looked like someone who hadn’t seen sunlight in five days - in other words, like absolute shit - but it was the best he could manage.

Hoseok burst through the doors, spotted Yoongi coming up the stairs, and rushed him like a sweaty matador on a mission. “Oh thank god!”

He made grabby hands at the nearest coffee cup, but Yoongi snatched it away, shaking his head, “No, this one’s not yours-”

“I’ll drink anything,” Hoseok screeched, grabbing the other one, “Just give it to me!”

“Calm down,” Yoongi said, rolling his eyes. “I’m going deaf.”

He glanced over Hoseok’s shoulder as Hoseok guzzled down his iced Americano, looking past him to the open door of the practice room. It was already almost empty.

“Jimin already left,” Hoseok said casually, leaning against the wall as he waved goodbye to several other departing people. “So if that’s for him, I’ll take it-”

“It’s mine,” said Yoongi hurriedly, taking a huge gulp out of the other coffee - if you could even call it that. Lattes were the invention of satan. He forced himself to swallow, and was proud that he didn’t wretch at the sickly, milky sweetness as it went down.

“Come on,” Hoseok threw his arm over Yoongi’s shoulder. There was a knowing twinkle in his eye that made Yoongi’s skin feel itchy and hot all over. “Let’s get something to eat! I’m starving!”

-----

By the third time, Hoseok had begun to blatantly tease him. He knew Yoongi knew he knew, he’d probably been talking to Jin, the bastard. But he pretended not to know, and Yoongi wasn’t sure if this was a blessing or a curse.

“When did you develop a taste for lattes?” Hoseok asked, nudging Yoongi with his sweaty elbow. “You usually only drink coffee as black as your soul.”

“Shut up,” Yoongi muttered. “I can try new things.”

“Mm. Sure you can.” Hoseok grinned, as brightly as the sun.

That hadn’t changed. Hoseok was still as dazzling as ever.

What was different was how Yoongi felt when Hoseok smiled at him - comfortable, warm. Hoseok’s affection was like an old blanket he’d had for a very long time, and he would always treasure it, but he no longer felt the sharp pangs he’d grown accustomed to when it settled over him. It simply didn’t spark yearning inside him anymore.

What was most surprising of all was that Yoongi felt the loss, but somehow it didn’t hurt as much as he’d thought it would.

“It’s too bad Jimin isn’t around. I miss him,” Hoseok went on to say, oblivious to the fact that his best friend was currently experiencing turmoil over a monumental shift in the way he viewed their relationship- “Exam period. Deep into it now - he even turned off his phone. He’s not coming at all next week. I miss him.”

“Oh,” said Yoongi, feeling light-headed for several different reasons. “I see.”

He staggered home, and promptly paid the price people who apparently have become lactose-intolerant pay when they continually ingest caramel lattes under false pretenses.

After that, he grit his teeth and went over to Jin’s for dinner. He lost his mind a bit when it was time for dessert. His stupid fortune cookie read, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’

“What a shitty saying,” Yoongi spat. “What a load of shitty, trite, unimaginative-”

“It’s better than mine,” said Jin mildly. “Mine says ' Beware of corporate dogs ’- I mean, what?”

“-cliche, unoriginal, garbage -,” Yoongi continued in a frothing rage, using both palms to crush the crappy thing to dust. “I fucking hate -”

“Sure, okay,” said Jin, “Thanks for that. I’ll just vacuum the sofa after you go home, no big deal.” When Yoongi didn’t respond with his usual sarcastic rejoinder, Jin looked at him more closely and asked, “What’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing,” said Yoongi.

He staggered home again, and paid the price for eating two servings of moo goo gai pan on a stomach previously full of caramel latte.

There wasn’t much he could do about it.

Jimin had exams. Of course he did, he was a full-time student. He’d got an A in one class, and it seemed to Yoongi that Jimin was the type to get all A’s across the board, being the hard-working person that he was. So it was totally normal and appropriate for Jimin to be studying his ass off and not sending out text messages on the hour or appearing at random moments on Yoongi’s doorstep or at Yoongi’s favourite cafe.

Obviously he’d taken all those things for granted. Suddenly there was a dearth of Park Jimin in his life, at the exact moment he’d come to the realization that he wanted things to be the very opposite of that. For there not to be a dearth of Park Jimin in his life. For Park Jimin to be in his life, preferably as much as humanly possible. 

Fuck .

He buried his face in his palms and tried not to panic.

-----

-are you asleep?

He sat upright in bed, pulse quickening.

-no why

-can i call you?

-yea

Yoongi picked up on the first ring. He mentally told himself off for being such a loser. “Hey.”

“Hi.”

Yoongi pressed his phone to his ear. The sound of Jimin’s voice, that particular way he said hello… fuck.

“Sorry for calling so late.”

“It’s fine,” he croaked, the only words he could manage to say. “You okay?”

Jimin didn’t sound good. He sounded exhausted, and his voice was thick, throaty, as if clogged.

“No,” said Jimin. “I’ve been awake for almost 22 hours now.”

Despite the thrill of getting to talk to Jimin on the phone - it was disgusting how happy he felt, it really was, he seriously had butterflies in his stomach - Yoongi immediately ordered, “Go to bed.”

“I will.” There was a pause. “I just wanted to hear another human being’s voice before I went crazy.”

“Oh.”

A little voice in the back of his head whispered, mine in particular? but he was probably reading too much into it. Jimin had probably called him because he knew Yoongi was likely to be awake at an ungodly hour. Still, the butterflies in his gut doubled in intensity, nearly giving him cramps.

“You should be sleeping,” he said. Don’t go to sleep. I want to hear your voice, too. I miss you. I can’t stop thinking about you.

“I tried. I can’t.” There was a hint of frustration in Jimin’s tone. “It’s stupid. I’m glad you were still awake.”

“Yeah.”

“Can you say something to me?”

He swallowed. “Like what?”

“I dunno.” Jimin made a sound, between a laugh and a sigh. “Sorry. That was dumb, nevermind.”

“You’re not dumb. What do you want me to say?”

“I don’t know. Just anything, I guess. To help me sleep.”

That didn’t really make sense to Yoongi, but he tried-- “Pizza.”

“What?”

“You said anything.”

“Anything but food, please.” There was a smile in Jimin’s voice, Yoongi could practically hear it. “I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat here.”

“You need to eat,” Yoongi reminded him. Studying and passing exams was important, sure, but so was staying alive.

“You sound like Jin.”

“Say that again and I’ll hang up.” Jimin giggled. Yoongi felt it sing in his veins. He coughed. “What else do you want me to say?”

After some thought, Jimin replied with: “Something encouraging.”

“Encouraging?”

“Yeah. You know - to help me pass my exams. Something to motivate me.”

“Oh.”

The request could be simply that: an innocent plea for emotional support. “Like what?”

“Whatever you want,” Jimin said. “Whatever you want to say to me.”

There it was again, as potent as ever, that overwhelming feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff and being unable to take the leap.

“Go to bed,” he said on auto-pilot, instincts kicking in. Yoongi face-palmed. Hard.

Jimin pouted. Yoongi felt it over the line. “Come on, Yoongi. Be nice. I’m so tired.”

He blushed, for some reason, at the words be nice coming out of Jimin’s mouth. He wanted to be nice. He wanted to be a lot of things, but 99% of the time he just couldn’t fucking make himself do it.

“You should give me a reward.” Jimin’s tone was light, teasing, no different than it usually was. Yoongi was just projecting - lying in bed in the dark, phone clamped to his ear, everything felt more intimate.

Be nice . Fuck it.

“Show me your report card first,” Yoongi said. “Then I’ll consider it.”

It came out rough and clumsy and awkward, and he wanted to stab himself in the face for it, but he was trying. He was trying to flirt, and he hoped to hell Jimin was getting the message.

“Really? What kind of reward?”

“Not telling.”

“Aw.”

But he sounded happy, and that pleased Yoongi a lot. A quiet lull descended upon the conversation. Yoongi asked, “Think you can sleep now?”

“No way. I’ll be up til dawn wondering what my reward is gonna be.”

“Jimin,” Yoongi began.

“I’m kidding.”

A reward, he thought, mind racing with possibilities. What would Jimin want? What would make him happy? For that matter, what did Yoongi want?

He knew what he wanted. “Hey. Listen-”

“Yeah?”

“After your exams-” he began. “Jimin--”

There was an intake of breath. “Yeah?”

Go out with me.

He licked his dry lips. Say it. Say it now. Ask him out. He’ll say yes, you know he will.

“Yoongi? Are you still there?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I am.” He swallowed thickly, feeling like the world’s biggest asshole. “Just- hang in there. You’ll do fine.”

He heard Jimin exhale, softly, as if he’d been holding his breath. “Thanks. Goodnight, Yoongi.”

And just like that, the call ended.

-----

Yoongi was too old for this shit.

He really, really, really was.

“If you’re just going to laugh,” he said, regret collecting in every cell of his being, “I’m just going to leave.”

Jin sniggered some more, but managed to say, “No, no, don’t go- I’m not laughing. I’m not.” He attempted to make a straight face and failed spectacularly. “I’m not laughing! You’re just…”

“-Cute,” said Namjoon from his corner of the room. He’d had his headphones on the whole time, seemingly absorbed in his writing.

Yoongi whirled around to glare at him. “You were listening?!”

Namjoon ignored the death glare and said, “It’s good. It shows personal growth. You’re in tune with your feelings, you’ve acknowledged your attraction to Jimin and you want to act on it. This is good.”

He shouldn’t have said anything. He should have kept his mouth shut and stayed far away from Jin’s apartment. He should have resisted the siren call of jjajangmyun and stayed at home to wallow in his self-inflicted misery. It was too late.

“Don’t play armchair psychiatrist with me,” he said furiously.

“I’d prefer to be called love doctor.”

“And I’d prefer to shove my foot up your-”

“Hey, easy-” Jin cut in, “We’re just trying to help.”

“It’s not like we’re operating under ambiguous circumstances,” Namjoon continued, “It’s pretty obvious that failure will not be a result of an indeterminate outcome. We know the outcome will be positive. That’s not the problem. The problem is methodology. You need practice .”

“Practice?”

“You’re having trouble because you’ve been out of the game for too long,” Namjoon explained, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “You’re rusty.”

“He’s never been in the game,” said Jin.

“I have game,” said Yoongi, threateningly.

“Prove it. Let’s roleplay. You be you, and I’ll be Jimin-”

“I’m leaving.”

-----

Fifteen minutes and five blocks away later, Yoongi received a new text from Jin.

- fyi despite your shitty attitude

- i’m still helping you

- don’t need your help

- jimin’s done all his exams

His heart raced a little. - and?

- we’re celebrating

- saturday @8

- for the love of mario don’t wear that hideous blue shirt again

Chapter Text

The thumping bass in the club amplified the beating of his own heart. Generally speaking, Yoongi loved the feeling. It was like having music in your blood, pulsing in your veins. A transcendent experience. Tonight, however, his nerves weren’t exactly in need of a boost.

Yoongi’s palms were sweaty. He wiped them on his brand new black jeans. They matched the black t-shirt he wore, and more importantly, what he considered his most prized possession of all time: his sick black leather jacket. Jin liked to call it his “assassin-ninja-hits-the-town-on-night-off” look and had professed neither approval nor rejection. Not that Yoongi cared about Jin’s fashion thoughts, but he hoped for a better reaction from Jimin later.

“You’re almost invisible in the dark, Yoongs-”

Hoseok giggled, already tipsy from the pre-drinking he’d done at home. He was embarrassingly unsteady on his feet, and there were several girls standing nearby, giggling as they whispered to each other while looking in Hoseok’s direction. Yoongi couldn’t tell if this was a Mean Girls situation or if (judging by Hoseok’s preening) it was the other kind of interest being displayed.

It would have bothered him once. A lot. He could remember being in the same position more than a handful of times - accompanying Hoseok to a club or a bar and enduring the agony of not knowing whether or not Hoseok would go home with some girl at the end of the night. It had majorly sucked. Even now, even though he didn’t feel the churning jealousy in his gut, the remembered misery of it made him feel just the tiniest bit off-balance.

He scowled, and tried to push the maudlin thoughts away. He didn’t need it right now. He was already nervous enough.

“Don’t be nervous,” Jin said, placing a hand on his shoulder, “Remember what we role-played.”

“I’d give anything to forget,” Yoongi muttered darkly.

“Focus on the goal.” Jin squeezed the shoulder he was holding. “Jimin will be here soon.”

“I know.”

“Whatever you do, you have to keep the ball rolling. Once you get him alone, I’ll distract Kookie, and Hoseok will keep Taehyung pre-occupied-”

“He’s too drunk for that,” Yoongi grumbled, grabbing Hoseok by the collar of his shirt as he threatened to fall off his stool while attempting to do a body-wave.

“I’ll take care of it,” Jin insisted. “You just focus on knocking it out of the park.”

“Why the fuck are you talking in sports metaphors?”

“I don’t know. I can’t help it.”

Hoseok seemed to suddenly become interested in the conversation they were having. He turned his back on the girls he’d been directing his heterosexual mating dance towards and peered at Yoongi with great speculation. The look was unnerving.

“Hey. HEY. Are you planning on seducing Jimin tonight?” He slapped Yoongi on the arm, outraged. “I can’t believe this!”

Yoongi felt his face heat up. “No one’s seducing anyone-”

“Yeah, seriously. Seduction is definitely not on the cards.” Jin cracked his knuckles and shook his head, almost sadly. “That is way beyond your level right now. I mean, we’re talking like, a hug, at most? Maybe you can hold his hand. But I’m not sure you’re ready for that, to be honest-”

Hoseok interrupted with a screech, “ -Without me!?

He wanted a black hole to disappear into.

“You said he wasn’t your type! I tried for months and months, MONTHS, and you said no hoseok, no, I’m not into Jimin like that and NOW YOU’RE GOING TO SEDUCE HIM? TONIGHT?”

There was a scuffle as Yoongi threw himself onto Hoseok and tried to clamp a hand over his big fat mouth while a sniggering Jin attempted to hold him back. It was Namjoon (returning with more drinks) who broke up the fight while looking both confused and vaguely amused.

“It’s not fair!” Hoseok wailed, pouting. “I’m the one who wanted the two of you to get together in the first place, I want to help!”

“You can help,” Jin assured him, as Yoongi face-palmed, suddenly glad Jimin hadn’t arrived yet. “We all can. Yoongi needs all the help he can get.”

“Shut up.”

“OK. If you want Jimin, then by all means,” Hoseok’s smile was slightly frightening, and he slurred his words rather badly, “-we are gonna go and get you Jimin.”

Yoongi looked at Namjoon, pleading with his eyes, and Namjoon nodded, “Yep. Got it. Operation wingmen. Won’t let him out of my sight.”

“Baby steps,” Jin said. “Start with a compliment. Tell him you like his shoes. Ask him to dance- wait, I think I see him!” Yoongi’s bicep was gripped in a vice, excitement lacing Jin’s voice. “Wait here! I’ll go check it out!”

He dashed off, gangly arms and legs somehow navigating the crowd with ease. Yoongi craned his neck, trying to see, but failed spectacularly due to his height. Jin returned after a minute or so, beaming broadly.

“Good news. Jungkook didn’t come,” Jin whispered, with an air of deep espionage. “He’s still got finals. Not that it matters, he’s not really a threat. Taehyung’s here, though, he’s with  Namjoon and he says Jimin will be here any minute now.”

“Fine,” Yoongi muttered, nerves running wild once more.

“Baby steps,” Jin said in another whisper, making encouraging hand gestures in the direction of the club entrance. “I’ll check on Hobi.”

Yoongi spotted Taehyung first - true to Jin’s word, he was happily talking to Namjoon, and laughing at the weird dance Hoseok was doing to amuse him. He scanned the crowd again, and this time his eyes landed on a familiar face.

Jimin.

A pathetic pang shot through him. The jubilation he felt was almost humiliating. He chided himself instantly for thinking that way. There was nothing wrong with being happy to see Jimin.

That was the whole point. Jimin made him happy. He was going to try, tonight, to let Jimin know that.

Personal growth, he thought. Among other things.

He took a step towards Jimin, and at the same moment Jimin looked in his direction, spotting him. A brilliant smile spread across his face - sending butterflies cascading through Yoongi’s chest - and he lifted his hand in an excited wave.

Yoongi waved back.

And then he realised Jimin wasn’t alone.

-----

“This is my friend, Taemin,” Jimin said, beaming. “We went to the same performing arts school, he was ahead of me by two years. He’s a really amazing dancer.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jin said, holding out a hand.

Taemin shook it, returning the smile. They regarded each other in the way handsome men often did upon first meeting; sizing one another up, each privately confirming ‘ no, he’s not better looking than me’ before smugly moving on.

“Likewise.” He shook the jet-black hair that had fallen across his forehead out of his eyes.

Yoongi’s upper lip curled. Taemin looked like he’d stepped out of fucking ARENA magazine. He was wearing a leather jacket (Yoongi secretly liked it) with ugly plaid trousers cropped at the ankles (Yoongi hated them) that showed off even uglier printed socks (Yoongi hated those, too). He looked like all of Namjoon’s hipster wet dreams come true.

Taehyung stared at Taemin’s feet with envy. “Nice shoes.”

“Thanks.”

They were fucking embroidered loafer slides. Loafer slides . (Yoongi loathed them with every last fiber of his being.)

“Yoongi is a rapper,” Jimin was saying to Taemin, directing the conversation in Yoongi’s direction. “He’s really good, the song I did for that contest I told you about, it was Yoongi’s-”

“Wow,” Taemin said, “That song was dope. Almost as dope as your performance. Which is why you won, I knew you would.”

Jimin laughed, embarrassed, and protested, “It’s only because Yoongi’s song inspired me-”

Taemin acquiesced, “Yeah. It’s a good song.”

“Thanks,” he said, not meeting Jimin’s eyes.

The night got worse, which was pretty fucking amazing, considering he already thought it had gone to complete shit. Jin was making a concerted effort to talk to Taemin, ostensibly to distract him from Jimin, and every few minutes he would glance over Taemin’s shoulder and give Yoongi a meaningful look.

It made Yoongi feel… well, fucking terrible, to be honest. Everyone knew. Everyone was thinking the same thing: Poor Yoongi .

He ignored Jin’s hints and slunk into the crowd. He didn’t notice Jimin’s eyes following him as he slipped away.

-----

Hoseok was so fucking drunk.

It always put Yoongi on edge. Hoseok was already at a disadvantage in his normal, uninebriated state. He was so fucking soft and alcohol just made it worse, made him even more susceptible to people using him. There was a dude openly grinding against him.

Yoongi debated whether or not to step in. Hoseok was an adult, he could take care of himself, but there was always that off chance he was too drunk to realise what was happening. He bit his thumb, worrying the nail between his teeth. What if it went too far and Hoseok was taken advantage of? What if--

Someone shoved him. A couple pushed past while grumbling about jerks blocking the way, jolting Yoongi from his intense glaring session. He opened his mouth to tell them off, but something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned and looked.

It was Jimin, standing off to one side at the edge of the crowd, watching him. Their eyes met. He felt a hot flutter in his stomach, but it quickly went sour as Jimin averted his gaze and turned to talk to Taemin. He waited to see if Jimin would look his away again, but no luck. There wasn’t anything he could do about it. Jimin’s attention was firmly elsewhere now.

Yoongi grimly went to drag Hoseok to safety. The idiot didn’t want to go, and his dancing partner didn’t want to let him go, either. The dude was gross. Yoongi very firmly made him aware of that fact. It didn’t go down well. Things were getting a bit heated - until Namjoon made an appearance with a handful of their underground rapper crew and broke up another fight.

“What the fuck, Joon! You said you’d keep an eye on him-”

“Sorry,” Namjoon said, sheepishly. “I just turned around for a second when the boys got here and he was gone -”

Hoseok whined, his breath smelling of cheap beer, “Now who am I going to dance with?”

“Us?” Namjoon asked innocently.

Yoongi was about to protest when he made the mistake of looking past Namjoon, over his shoulder, and saw something that made him stomach twist into knotted ribbons.

Jimin was dancing with his friend. They were dancing very closely to one another, and from where Yoongi stood, it looked like they were very happy about it. Jimin laughed, loud and hard, throwing his head back. Taemin nudged him in the ribs before letting his hand linger on Jimin’s waist.

No denying it. They looked good together.

Yoongi pushed Hoseok away and went to the bar, definitely not in the mood for dancing. Drinking was the infinitely better option. He could get wasted. It was friday night and he didn’t have to work tomorrow. The more he thought about it, the more appealing the idea became. He ordered one drink and then another, and another after that. The club started feeling swelteringly hot so Yoongi took off his jacket and drank some more.

“What the hell are you doing,” hissed a voice. It belonged to Jin. He slid into the seat next to Yoongi, eyebrows arched almost to his hairline. “Why are you over here by yourself playing raging alcoholic?”

“I’m just enjoying myself.”

“We had a plan. This is not part of the plan.”

“It is now.”

“You’re going to regret it tomorrow.”

“Fuck off.”

“Are you serious? Just go over there and talk to him.”

“Who?”

“Are we really doing this? Again?”

Yoongi gave Jin a look so mean, so ferocious it was amazing Jin didn’t crumble into dust on the spot. Instead he looked heavenward, as if praying for strength.

“Just shut up and drink,” Yoongi said, “Or leave me alone.”

Jin opted for the latter, and Yoongi was fucking glad to see him go.

-----

The problem with getting your hopes up was always the same: crushing disappointment inevitably followed.

He should’ve known better.

-----

Yoongi had a hangover.

His mood was as foul as his breath and he didn’t give two shits about it. When the knock came on his door, he was ready to chew the head off the idiot who had dared to bother him so early on in the day.

Jeon Jungkook was on the other side. Yoongi fought the impulse to slam the door shut in his face. “What do you want?”

He didn’t expect to hear, “I came to return the shirt I borrowed from you.”

“When the hell did I loan you a shirt?”

“I took it from your closet.” Jungkook had the decency to look embarrassed. Defensively, he explained, “It was the morning after your party! That idiot Taehyung barfed on me when he woke up and I needed a shirt.”

“Thanks for asking,” Yoongi snapped.

“You weren’t there to ask!”

He cast his mind back several weeks and realised it was true. He’d taken off early to drive Jimin to school.

“Whatever.”

“Jimin said I should wash it before I give it back, because that’s what you do when you borrow clothes from someone.” Jungkook looked like he’d swallowed a lemon. “Here.”

Yoongi grudgingly accepted the shopping bag that was thrust at him. They looked at one another in silence. He was about to close the door in Jungkook’s face - what else was there to say? - when the boy spoke again.

“Well?” he demanded.

“What?”

Jungkook stared at him. “Aren’t you gonna try it on?”

He stared back. “Why would I?”

“To make sure it fits.”

He should’ve known. “Let me guess. You shrank it in the dryer.”

A ruddy flush crept over Jungkook’s cheeks. “No! It wasn’t that, it was-,” he faltered, and mumbled, “...it was the bleach. I thought it was fabric softener.”

Yoongi began closing the door. “Nevermind, Jeon. I’ll give it a new lease on life as a rag. Don’t worry about it.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Jungkook said hotly, blocking Yoongi’s arm. “Obviously I threw it away! I wouldn’t give something like that back! I bought you a new shirt, that’s why you need to try it on. If it doesn’t fit, I’ll exchange it.”

“Forget it.”

“Hey-”

“I don’t fucking care,” Yoongi said flatly. “You brought it, now leave.”

A dark scowl broke over Jungkook’s face. “What’s your problem-”

He was distracted by a voice at the end of the corridor calling his name- “Kookie! There you are!”

Jungkook turned his head and scowled ferociously at whoever was coming out of the elevator. “Quit following me!”

Yoongi sighed. He recognized that voice. Kim Taehyung came shuffling down the hall, throwing his arm over Jungkook’s shoulders. He clearly had no sense of self-preservation.

Jungkook looked like he was ready to deck Taehyung out. “I told you to stop following me!”

“I thought we were going to the gym after-”

“Who said we’re going together?!”

“You might hurt yourself if no one’s there to watch,” Taehyung said sternly. “And Jimin’s too busy.”

“I have a personal trainer!”

Taehyung blithely ignored this. “Come on, I’ll spot you-”

“I don’t need you to spot me!” Jungkook snapped, but it was a losing battle. Taehyung had clearly decided to latch his friendly tentacles around Jungkook and it didn’t look like there would be any possibility of escape. Ha , thought Yoongi. You two deserve each other.

“Do you wanna come, too?” asked Taehyung.

“Bye.” He started to close the door again.

“What a stupid question, of course he doesn’t-” Jungkook sneered. “He doesn’t look like he’d go to the gym, ever.”

As far as bait went, it was so fucking obvious. Yoongi slammed the door shut the rest of the way.

“Asshole,” he heard someone mutter.

“Fuck you,” he muttered back, and made his way back to his bed. Just as he was about to re-enter his nest of sheets, the doorbell started ringing again.

He yanked the door open, ready to commit murder this time.

Taehyung said, “Where’s your phone?”

“Why do you care?”

“Did you charge it?”

He scowled. He hadn’t remembered to, no, and fuck if he knew why Kim Taehyung cared.

“No. You can’t borrow it.”

“I don’t want to borrow it.”

“Then go away.”

“Charge it.”

With that cryptic message, Taehyung left, calling after Jungkook to wait up.

-----

He slept the whole day, because his head was killing him and there was nothing better to do. By the time he had recovered enough to search the mess in his apartment for his phone, it was well past midnight.  Once he had it charged and booted up, he cursed himself for being stubborn and stupid.

There were a lot of unread messages on Yoongi’s phone. Twenty-three, to be exact. Plus two missed calls.

He scrolled through them, feeling sick to his stomach.

Despite his better judgment, he dialled Jimin’s number. There was no answer. With shaky hands, he texted Jin next - and even though it was late, a response came-

-apologize first

-I’m sorry.

-fine. 

-he’s not answering his phone.

-can’t blame him, you ass

-anyway

-I  asked hobi earlier, he’s gonna be at practice tomorrow from 6-7. 

-don’t fuck up again, ok?

He punched his pillow and ground his teeth.

Morning couldn’t come quickly enough.

-----

-are you mad at me?

-I don’t know what i did

-Yoongi?

-Can’t you just answer your phone?

-you know, Taemin is just a friend

-Ok

-I get it

-nevermind

-----

There wasn’t much he could do about how he looked at 5AM after no sleep, but it didn’t matter. He’d thought to bring coffee but had spilled it along the way due to nervousness and couldn’t bring himself to go back for a replacement.

Jimin was alone, as Jin had said he would be. He was doing stretches, warming up his muscles. He looked like he hadn’t got much sleep, either - but he was Jimin, so he was still ridiculously attractive, even with dark circles under his eyes and messy, untamed hair.

Yoongi stepped inside, clearing his throat. “Hi.”

There was a long, heavy pause. “Hey.”

“Sorry to interrupt.”

Jimin didn’t stop stretching. “That’s okay.”

Fuck.

“Sorry,” Yoongi said, again. “My phone was dead.”

Jimin stiffened, almost imperceptibly. “Yeah. It’s fine.”

It wasn’t. It clearly wasn’t. Jimin was clearly… pissed wasn’t the right word. Distant. Not happy to see Yoongi.

He licked his dry lips. “Jimin, I-”

What? What was he going to say?

Jimin shook his head. He looked at the floor, and then at Yoongi. “I need to practice.”

The dismissal felt like a blow to the gut.

“Ok.” He nodded. “I’ll let you practice, then.” Get the fuck out of here, you idiot. He doesn’t want you. You fucked up. But still he hesitated, unwilling to give up completely- “Jimin.”

“Yeah?”

He wasn’t sure why he was asking, to be honest. “Can we talk later?”

“Sure.”

It sounded like a lie, something to brush Yoongi off, get him out of Jimin’s hair. Yoongi stiffly headed for the door, feet feeling like lead. He’d almost made it there when Jimin’s voice cut through the heavy silence, stalling him.

“You know, I’m just-” Yoongi turned, saw Jimin clenching his towel in one hand, the other palm rubbing at his face. “I’m just tired.”

He didn’t know what to say, but it didn’t matter - Jimin wasn’t done. He threw his towel to the ground and gritted out, “I’m really tired, Yoongi. This back-and-forth is killing me. You keep yanking me around. I just keep thinking, maybe this time , and I’ve been waiting and waiting, but you just…” He shrugged, sounding helpless and hurt. “I guess you just don’t really want this, do you?”

He wanted it. He wanted it so bad he almost couldn’t bear it.

“You’d think I would’ve learned to give up after six months, but I guess I’m just stupid.” Jimin forced a laugh. “Sorry. I just like you so much… but I get it now.”

He felt sick. Shit.

“I just wish you wouldn’t do that anymore.”

Yoongi’s voice got stuck in the back of his throat. “What?”

“Lead me on,” Jimin said quietly. “It’s not nice, Yoongi.”

“You think I’m leading you on?”

Jimin looked right at him. “Are you?”

Well, that was fucking something, Yoongi thought bitterly, as a million thoughts tumbled around inside his head, things he tried not to think about too often, or at all.

Like how he was probably just a hypocrite and a coward, priding himself on being a pragmatist when really he was just afraid to move forward, to put himself out of his cripplingly limited comfort zone. How that aspect of his personality meant he continually sent the wrong message, hurting other people who didn’t deserve to be the victims of his bullshit.

Jimin broke the silence. “Is it because of Hobi, or…”

He trailed off helplessly, unable to finish the sentence. He looked utterly miserable.

Yoongi felt even worse. Fuck.

He told himself to just be honest. Jimin deserved that at the very least.

“I’m always gonna care about Hoseok,” Yoongi said slowly. “I can’t turn it on and off.”

Jimin flinched, tried to cover it by ducking his head, but Yoongi hadn’t missed his reaction.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. This was going all wrong. He was bad at expressing himself, always had been. He was awkward, socially inept, incapable of reaching out to others. It was easier with lyrics, a hundred fucking times easier, because lyrics could be edited, rewritten, revised until they met his standards.

He’d prepared a speech, had practiced what he would say over and over in his head until dawn, making sure it was perfect. But whenever he found himself standing in front of Park Jimin, all the words just got jumbled up, coming out the wrong way.

“That’s not what I meant,” he blurted, terrified he’d fucked up beyond recovery. “You know what I mean.”

“I don’t,” Jimin said plainly.

He looked at the wall, throat aching. He swallowed. “Don’t you?”

What he meant was: I’m afraid, but I don’t know why.

“I really don’t, Yoongi.”

“I haven’t been leading you on,” he said.

“No?”

“Not even for a second.”

He didn’t dare to look at Jimin’s face. He didn’t want to know how the declaration had been received, whether it was a complete and utter failure.

“Yoongi.”

He forced himself to look up. Something had softened in Jimin’s gaze - maybe it was pity. He regarded Yoongi for a long, contemplative moment, expression inscrutable. Fear and anticipation mingled in Yoongi’s stomach as he waited for Jimin to pass his final judgment and put an end to this agony.

Jimin seemed to make up his mind, finally, and squared his shoulders. He took a breath, chest rising, and then stepped towards Yoongi until there he was just an arm’s reach away.

Yoongi couldn’t breathe.

“If you can’t say it,” Jimin said softly, carefully, but with great deliberation all the same, “-you can show me.”

Yoongi’s heart lurched.

“Okay,” he said unsteadily, and lunged forward with all the grace of a bumbling ox.

Jimin met him halfway - more than halfway, fuck, as he always did. Jimin was always there, always had been. Ready and willing, and finally, finally, finally Yoongi’s lips grazed Jimin’s, slow and tentative, a hand lifting to cup the side of Jimin’s face. A sigh parted Jimin’s mouth, his eyes fluttering closed, breath sweet and warm against Yoongi’s chin.

He shivered, lost in sensation. Jimin opened his eyes again, made Yoongi’s bones tremble with the look inside them, and then pressed his mouth to Yoongi’s more firmly. Somehow, with strength he didn’t know he possessed, Yoongi took the hint and  deepened the kiss.

When they parted, Yoongi asked, voice raspy, “Do you get it?”

“Not yet,” Jimin whispered. “Show me again.”

He didn’t need to be told twice.

----

“You still owe me a reward,” Jimin said, helping Yoongi to his feet. He casually brushed at the lint on the back of Yoongi’s shirt, collected from where he’d been sitting against the mirrored wall of the practice room. His hand very casually did not leave the vicinity of Yoongi’s butt.

Confidence boosted, Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “That wasn’t enough?”

Jimin laughed out loud, which made Yoongi feel pretty good. His cheeks were rosy, which was another good sign, and he sounded happy. “Nope. Not enough.”

“Mm.”

“I was promised a reward,” Jimin insisted. “I’m collecting!”

“Okay. You’ll get your reward.” He gave Jimin a pointed look. “Not here.”

Jimin giggled.

Every bone in Yoongi’s body felt like goo, but he grabbed Jimin’s hand anyway. “Let’s go.”

“Where are we going?”

“It’s almost 7,” Yoongi said, “Hoseok is gonna be here soon.”

Jimin didn’t pout, exactly, but there was something a bit arch in his tone as he asked, “So?”

“He’s noisy,” Yoongi pointed out. “And… there’s no one at my apartment.”

There was no resistance after that. Jimin willingly allowed Yoongi to drag him and his ridiculously heavy bag out of the building and onto the street, their hands still clasped together.

“I can’t believe I never noticed,” Jimin said, humming.

“What?”

“You’re shy .”

“Shut up.”

“You’re so shy,” Jimin said gleefully, the little brat. “You’re cute, Yoongi.”

“Seriously, shut up.”

“I will if you tell me,” Jimin teased, eyes twinkling.

“Tell you what?”

He gave Yoongi a meaningful look. “What you were trying to, earlier.”

“Do I really have to say it?” he asked, plaintively. A blush dusted his cheeks.

Jimin’s mouth twitched.

Embarrassment flooded him, but he thought what the hell. They’d just made out for an hour, he had it bad for Jimin and Jimin was crazy into him and they both knew it. There wasn’t anything to hide. This was how it should be.

Easy. Straightforward. Honest. No bullshit.

As simple as opening his mouth and saying- “You know.

“Yeah,” Jimin smiled, leaning against Yoongi. His voice was warm, as warm as the palm of his hand in Yoongi’s own. He squeezed. “I know.”





THE END .