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Sweater Paws

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The first time they meet, Jimin is in a dumpster.

It’s… not one of his finest moments.

In his defense though, he hadn’t planned to find himself there, in an alleyway between two apartment buildings, walls graffitied in a mocking spectrum of bright colours and bins equally as vibrant. He really hadn’t meant to get so competitive when Jungkook made the stupid bet that started this mess. And it wasn’t really his fault that he slipped off of a windowsill and had fallen face first into the bin.

The whole thing had been a horrible accident, really.

So. Here he is. In a dumpster. His brilliant plan to wander around the city in search of a way to prove Jungkook wrong having failed hours ago, leaving him stuck- unfortunately in the literal sense.

Around his leg, pulling bruisingly at his skin, is a plastic bag that had caught and twisted around his leg when he’d fallen into the dumpster in the apartment alleyway; so painful that any energy he could have used to change back into his human form and climb out - like any other reasonable person would- was totally sapped.

And he hates that he sounds so helpless, useless, but he really can't do more than scratch at the plastic and hope that his soft mewling might attract someone’s attention.

If I survive, he thinks not at all dramatically, Taehyung and Jungkook will never let me live this down.

With a heavy huff he gives up on his struggling for a moment to look up at the sky; watching in slight awe as the buttery pink turns into a dusty violet and darkens with each minute that passes.

He feels like the sky is mocking him a little, the clouds passing over at a snail pace while Jimin struggles vigorously and gets nowhere; and when he spots the first star glitter to life, it feel like a personal affront. Still, he’s lucky that the first snow of winter hasn’t come yet, and that it’s just the Autumn breeze keeping him company in the alleyway.

The whole situation, he muses, is eerily similar to an incident years ago where he had made use of his oh-so-finely-honed ability to scare Taehyung.

His plan had been simple then too; he would masterfully jump down from a cupboard as soon as Taehyung came through the door of their apartment, scaring him so thoroughly and succinctly that his best friend would never be tempted to call Jimin cute ever again.

Of course, in a parallel to his current situation, he’d misstepped and fallen backwards, only that time he’d sandwiched himself behind the cupboard, trapped until Taehyung had come back later that night with their new roommate Jungkook, and had rescued Jimin after the worst half hour of Marco Polo Jimin had ever been forced to participate in.

Even though he’s older now, he’s apparently no less stupid.

Jimin is lamenting on this when he hears something creak. It’s a quiet sound in the quiet alley, and he thinks it's a door opening but at this point he really can’t tell anymore, so he lifts his head as close to the edge of the dumpster as he can to suss it out. And that’s when he spots him.

The man stumbles into the alley from a side door and Jimin watches his movements- slow, lethargic, stumbling- distracted by some other thought as he approaches the bin. His dark hair lays rumpled and dishevelled on his head, midnight black and strangely stunning against his streetlight lit face.

As he gets closer Jimin notices that he’s humming a soft tune, one he would have missed if he were in human form in the dumpster as opposed to a cat right under the man’s nose. The man starts to sing something- or maybe he’s just testing out lyrics against a beat, he can’t quite tell- and Jimin gets so caught up in trying to hear, that he doesn’t notice the garbage bags in the man’s hands.

He doesn’t miss them though, when they land right on fucking top of him.

When Jimin lets out a yelp, it’s so loud it frightens even himself, and as he struggles to get out from under the new addition to his humble garbage-abode, he doesn't notice the man go quiet above him.

“Wha-” a little crease appears between his eyebrows as he peers over the edge to investigate the sound; then his eyes land on Jimin.

And, he breathes out a soft, “oh.”

Jimin freezes, his entire body going rigid as he flicks his gaze up to the man’s, and he can’t help but feel startled when he realises how close he is- practically a centimetre away from him. His breath tickles Jimin’s nose, making it twitch, and he gazes at Jimin’s tiny black form confusedly. Jimin feels something heavy and anxious sink in his stomach, and he squirms, trying with renewed vigour to pull himself out and run back to his apartment and kick Jungkook’s ass.

He struggles, yanking his paw against the plastic even as it rubs his skin raw, hoping that even though it hasn’t worked in the last three hours, if he pulls hard enough against the mangled plastic, he might be able to get free. But of course, it doesn’t work, and panic starts building furiously within Jimin.

“Hey, hey, shhh… Stop moving for a second would you-” The man blinks, panicked, and then as Jimin continues to struggle; reaches in and places his palm over Jimin’s back, hand gentle but firm as he holds Jimin still and pulls the bag away from his leg.

“It’s alright, just hang on a second,” he mumbles, finally getting his finger between the knotted plastic.

Jimin swear he almost cries when the man finally snatches him out from the rubbish, and then he almost cries for a totally different reason. As soon as he’s out of the dumpster, the man drops him to the ground as quick as he can; probably hoping to avoid Jimin’s potential wrath, yet all Jimin can do is wobble and fall backwards onto his butt.

Jimin links up at him, a little lost, and the man huffs out a smile.

“What a strange cat,” he mumbles, and then with a soft expression drops down into a crouch, hesitantly letting his fingers run through Jimin’s fur as Jimin finds himself leaning into him for support.

And then, he breaks the silence, and Jimin barely has the chance to process the next words, “if you don’t like this, um, scratch me or something okay?” before he’s being scooped up into warm arms.

Oh. Oh.

As if sensing Jimin’s confusion, the man begins to gently card his fingers through Jimin’s fur in a comforting motion, brushing out chips of peeled blue paint, scratching behind his ears and brushing a finger down Jimin’s nose in what is intended to be a comforting pattern but mostly makes Jimin embarrassed and squeamish.

Walking down the alley, back in towards the side door that leads into the apartment building, Jimin tries his best to stay still, but as they near closer to the middle floor- passing through more staircases than he can count- to a small apartment at the end of a line of other bigger apartments, squished just before the back stairwell, he starts to feel panic building up again.

He doesn't even technically know this man (though , his brain supplies unhelpfully, he seems familiar) and despite arriving at what seems like a completely ordinary apartment door, he finds himself even more confused when he reads Min Yoongi on the door name plaque, and still can't quite reconcile the name with anyone he knows, anyone he’s seen.

Yoogi treads carefully inside, moving clumsily but particularly over obstacles that Jimin can’t see in the dark of the room, eyes still adjusting.

“And light,” Yoongi whispers.

Jimin, temporarily blinded and disoriented as the lights flicker on and cast a warm glow over the room, finds himself facing exactly the type of apartment that you could expect from a student, expect with a very clear twist.

On every surface, scattered instruments- a piano, drum kit- recording equipment and what seems like a makeshift studio with a mic and a laptop setup, surrounded by a wall made of sheets, give Jimin the very clear impression that Min Yoongi is a musician.  

“Stay still kitten- I’ll be one moment so just let me clean you up a little.”

With careful fingers, Yoongi wanders through the apartment again and places Jimin in the empty bathroom sink, letting the water run warm before he begins the painful task of washing garbage residue from Jimin’s fur, grimacing as if expecting Jimin to lash out in displeasure at having the smell washed off.

Jimin, however, doesn't so much as blink in mourning as bits of fish and rice and other unnamed grossness flows down the drain.

The only real tragedy is the mirror, which reflects Jimin’s pathetic appearance, fur flattened to the point where he resembles a drenched rat more than the midnight black cat that he actually is.

“Just a little bit more.” The other male mumbles encouragingly, and Jimin sucks it up as he then goes about gently disinfecting the cuts on Jimin's leg. “Actually, a little bit longer than a little bit more, I need a bandage.”

Jimin would nod but instead he settles on watching him amusedly. He wishes that he could tell Yoongi that the bandage really won’t do much- that as soon as he heals in his human form he’ll be totally okay (and the small cuts on his leg will take no time to recover from when he changes back, really)- but he can’t say anything because he is a cat and instead opts to headbutt Yoongi occasionally in both thanks and what he hopes translates as a ‘you really don’t have to do this’.

Yoongi raises an eyebrow and continues on his way, and Jimin isn’t all that bothered that his message is lost in translation, in fact he’s quietly glad that someone is able to take care of him while he’s still too exhausted to change back.

Once Yoongi finishes, he pulls Jimin down from the bench and laughs at how fluffy his fur goes when he towel dries it, much to Jimin’s embarrassment.

Jimin tries to hobble his way across the bench and onto a stool, planning to get to the ground, but Yoongi stops him when he almost falls to his death. It’s embarrassing and horrible but Yoongi’s lips curl into a grimace that’s both terrified and amused.

“I don't have enough disinfectant for two cuts, so you-” he pauses and places Jimin back on the bench with a pointed look. “You are going to stop right there, I think.”

And then when Jimin pretends not to have heard him and continues wiggling, says “seriously kitten, sit down.”

Jimin doesn’t get up again.

Later; when night is slowly crawling its way towards morning, and Yoongi has finally fallen asleep, laptop sitting on his knees and head lolling backwards against the rough fabric of his sofa, Jimin quietly changes back and slips towards the door of Yoongi’s apartment.

Before leaving however, he casts a glance backwards and bites down on his lip in thought.

As quietly as his more clumsy human feet will allow, he walks back into the apartment and gently moves the laptop off of the man’s- Yoongi’s- legs and snatches a blanket from the side of the couch to replace the lost warmth of the machine.

Then, with the knowledge that both Taehyung and Jungkook will most likely be edging on concern by now (and only a few more curious looks back) he slips out into the morning.

Chapter Text

Jimin finds himself going back.

He doesn’t mean to, not at first.

And besides, it’s not something he wants to make a habit out of- lingering around someone else’s neighbourhood.

It isn’t.

He quite likes spending time in the neighbourhood that he’s been living in for the past few years, and he’d like to think that his neighbourhood likes him too. Like. He lives close to his university, he works regular shifts and can pay his rent, and having two other roommates means that he almost never finds himself bored. And as a bonus, he’s not been kicked out of his, Jungkook and Taehyung’s apartment yet.

(Though there was one incident where the police were called and had arrived to find Jungkook screaming bloody murder, Taehyung on a stool in the hallway throwing salt on the ground, and Jimin jumping off the floor every two seconds while having a pleasant conversation with the elderly woman who lived next door as they collected baby spiders in glasses.)

Jimin likes his neighbourhood. Jimin isn’t the sort to loiter around someone else’s; he may be part cat, but he’s not a stray one.  

Except, he’s gone back enough times to prove himself a liar- the first few were accidents, but the ones after that, not so much.

It had started with him adding a few blocks to his morning run, so he might happen to pass by Yoongi’s apartment building- with the intention, of course, to find a way to thank the man for saving his stupid cat self. However, his morning runs start to become longer and longer, and while Jimin somehow has enough courage to sit and wait between the Red Spider Lilies (flowers that are actually part spider and freak him out (because magic doesn’t know how to chill out for one second )) that crawl on any concrete they can reach; his courage always wears out when Yoongi emerges from the side door and walks into the alley, and he runs away.

So. He comes up with more excuses to give himself more chances to actually face Yoongi again.

A few days after Jungkook asks where Jimin goes to on his runs now, Jimin stops using them as an excuse, and instead just so happens to lose his wallet and needs to backtrack down and through Yoongi’s neighbourhood. The excuses then evolve into him taking walks down his street under the guise of changing up his ‘Poor University Student Diet™’ by trying a different store’s fruits, to needing to meet an obscure friend from some extra class he took a year ago.

However those small embarrassing excuses stopped being reasonable very quickly (“where did you go Jimin?” “We needed bread.” “Jimin, literally when have you ever actively bought bread? And at 9pm?”). Now, it's just sheer unadulterated curiosity that he can claim as the reason he walks down Yoongi’s street and peeks into the alleyway, hoping to see his eyebrow-raised smile.

He’s lucky though, because he gets to. Sometimes.

He’ll spot him a few times in passing, walking down the alley to throw his garbage out (although he hesitates before throwing the bags in now, and Jimin knows why). Sometimes Yoongi will be on the phone, talking to someone with a seriousness that gives Jimin pause. Other times he’s listening to music as he goes, caught up in the beat, headphones blocking out the bustle of the crowd just beyond the secluded world of the alleyway.

Each time, the one thing in common is that Jimin only ever sees Yoongi when he’s throwing out his rubbish- except for once.

It's one of the few times where Jimin actually has a real reason for being in this area of Seoul- helping Hoseok film his dance portfolio, and he's on his way home.

The rain started during their filming- and even now in the late afternoon it's still falling softly, like snow drifting with the wind, and Jimin has opted to take a more mobile form for the walk back home.

Although, despite the fact that as a cat he has double the legs, the usual post-transformation dizziness that hits immediately, coupled with the weariness from a busy day helping Hoseok, strains on his energy and he moves just as slow as he would as a human.

But he keeps going, because even though it’s an off-throwing experience… he's had a lifetime to become used to it. He'll just sleep a few more hours when he gets home.

And, he's on his way, mind a little hazy and legs a little too heavy, when he finds himself automatically detouring down a street he wouldn't usually go, and not realising until he’s halfway down.

Jimin pauses in the mouth of an alleyway, blinking hazily.

It must be a sight he thinks eventually, a small black cat gazing into an alleyway on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

When he realises where he is, he considers that maybe he could very possibly hang around.  He could wait to see if Yoongi will come out, and maybe figure out a way to communicate a proper, real thank you to the man. He also considers the small voice that likes to call itself his sense of reason, and decides that ‘walking away because he looks creepy’ is a stupid idea.

He wants to stay, he wants to act on the niggling sense of curiosity that's overcome his thoughts.

But he also wants to go home curl up in a ball (human or cat form is fine) and sleep. It's really a stressful battle of indecision.

But Jimin doesn't get to make the decision, because as he's staring into the alleyway, a small excited voice calls out; and what Jimin recognises as Yoongi’s deep smoky one, answers. Jimin glances over and there Yoongi is, crouching with a warm smile on his face by the main door of the building, bags of food in hand as a young girl chatters away to him. Oh. He's nice to kids.

As he’s watching, his energy fluctuates suddenly, and Jimin stumbles forward.

Yoongi turns sharply.

And Jimin’s gone in a heartbeat; not knowing if the sensation of being watched was his imagination or not. 


~*~

 

Jimin spots them on a bench under a tree in the university courtyard, where Jungkook is folded over, his hands clutching at his stomach and almost sobbing in laughter at Taehyung's high pitched imitation of some drama scene. Jimin grins at the sight.

“Jungkook! Taehyung!”

“Chim Chim!” Taehyung shouts back and Jungkook wipes his eyes before pulling a ridiculous face in his direction.

A startled laugh passes through Jimin’s lips and he begins to weave his way through the oranging Autumn trees and the crowd of students.

It seems that half of the school, or the dance department at least, have taken to lounging on the grass and brick of the courtyard, enjoying what looks like the last warm day they’ll have for a while (if the clouds thundering on the edge of the horizon are any indication).

It’s a friday now, and Jimin is ready for the school week to end.

The wind picks up- a burst of cold biting into his skin, making him wish he was a cat currently- and he turns away from it, which is when a man catches his gaze as he brushes past him.

Jimin finds himself stopping, attention caught by the comically large scarf dwarfing the man’s face, and how his beanie pushes his bangs over his eyes, and yet neither of those things can disguise how his expression is more than definitely a peeved one. Jimin wants to laugh but he also feels a nagging sense of recognition.

He frowns.

“Jiminnnnn.”

Taehyung whines loudly from across the courtyard, startling Jimin out of his thoughts, and waves, ushering Jimin to move his butt.

So in a quicker pace and with thoughts of the man all but forgotten, Jimin moves over to the table and flops onto Taehyung’s back, spluttering when he pulls a cup of Ramyeon from seemingly nowhere and the steam from it hits his face. Neither of his friend’s acknowledge it though, and with a quick hello and a swat to both their shoulders, he slides onto his seat and steals a halved Persimmon from Jungkook’s salad.

He turns to look at the man again.

His back is turned towards Jimin, but he hasn’t left the courtyard, and is instead talking to someone who Jimin can’t see properly because of a tree. But right as Jimin’s about to give up on trying to not so subtly figure out what’s so familiar about the man, the breeze takes another turn and his scarf is blown away from his face and he turns to to correct it, his scowl visibly deepened ever from so far away. Then Jimin is embarrassed.

Embarrassed because it takes him a moment to recognise the face, and embarrassed because he recognises that face at all.

“Who's that?”

Jimin snaps his gaze away from Yoongi’s retreating figure and decidedly ignores the fact that Jungkook’s drawing Taehyung’s attention towards where Jimin is now not looking.

No one.” Jimin replies curtly and then quickly adds, “well someone obviously, but not really anyone.

Taehyung snickers and Jimin can practically hear Jungkook raise an eyebrow. And, Jimin loves his friends, really he does.

But sometimes he really wants to lovingly shove them off of a building.

In an aborted attempt to avoid his impending doom Jimin shoves a persimmon into his mouth. “Someone who's no one, but is actually a someone. Just not… anyone?” Jungkook leans forward, a wicked grin transforming his deceptively innocent features and Jimin glances over warily. “Tell me more.”

Jimin helplessly takes his time swallowing the fruit, “but… it's not very interesting, like, at all.”

“Jimin. You're not very good at diverting from the truth.”

Jimin scowls at the pitch Jungkook uses when he mocks him, and takes Jungkook’s fork to stab the fruit in his salad in a vicious warning. But Jungkook either doesn’t understand Jimin’s message or just elects to ignore it. “Come on, Jimin. We were worried about you when you didn’t come home that night,” he plays up his worried tone, lips stretched in a full grin, but then his gaze abruptly becomes serious. “You really are okay right?”  

“Do you need us to beat anyone up?” Taehyung glances back at the courtyard as if expecting the man Jimin was staring at to appear again and Jimin’s face flushes red in both embarrassment and affection. “No look- it wasn’t that at all. It was just… really embarrassing okay.” He admits, and sighs. “Don’t beat anyone up.”

Appeased, Jungkook and Taehyung both nod, but they quickly turn their attention back to giving Jimin shit. Cupping their ears with their hands, they lean in, prompting Jimin to spill the metaphorical beans.

The thing is, it would be out of character for Jimin not to tell them. It would be absolutely ridiculous for him to forget to mention that the other night when he had disappeared, he’d fallen into a dumpster, gotten his leg caught in a plastic bag and lost any energy reserved for shape shifting, meaning that a very kind man with shaggy hair and an amused grin had saved his butt from something potentially worse.

There’s no way he won’t eventually let it slip that he knows of Yoongi and there’s no way he can cover up the fact that he knows Yoongi’s a musician who lives in an apartment thirty minutes out from the school.

And so, seeing as he has very few options (apart from running as far away as he can, possibly to Antarctica) Jimin makes a decision that will more than likely lead to his immediate death.

“Hesavedmefromadumpster.”

“What was that?”

Jimin watches as his miserably short life flashes before his eyes. This is it, his end. Not even being in a dumpster could possibly be worse than this- even being subjected to Namjoon’s cooking sounds like an okay alternative compared to his current situation.

Why? Why does the universe do this?

It’s out of the dumpster and into the frying pan for him (but please, he begs the universe , no actual fucking pans, please).

Sighing through his nose and sinking into the bench, all Jimin can mumble is, “he helped me out of a dumpster, now will you leave me be.” Then, he takes another Persimmon from the salad and jams the whole thing in his mouth.

There's a beat of silence. Then two. Then Jungkook breaks it by asking Jimin to punch him in the face; or at least he may as well have. “It's a wonder he even saw you, considering you're so tiny.”

Jungkook is evil, not cute, not golden. The only adorable maknae-ness about him is his face, and Jimin- even though he really does adore Jungkook- experiences a sudden violent urge to stab him with his fork, and briefly considers if the penalty for manslaughter would really be that bad.

Tiny.

If there’s one thing Jimin can say he is truly petty about, it’s that his cat form is… not… very large. Because, as if Jimin wasn’t already grumpy about being short amongst his human friends, the universe has decided that even for a cat he’s on the smaller side.

“It could be the start of a love story, I can see it now.” Tae grins his boxy grin and Jimin groans.

“First of all I’m not that small. Second of all, it is not like that, and third of all-” he waves his finger accusingly at the real perpetrator of this situation, Jungkook , “this all happened because I tried to prove you wrong.”

Jungkook rolls his eyes, “I never told you to take up my bet and wander the streets of Seoul.”

And yes , technically that’s true, but Jungkook made a bet. A bet is literally someone asking to be proved wrong. Jimin throws over the most poisonous glare he can all the while pouting his lips out in a sulk, in fact he’s seriously about to launch something at them both when he hears a loud screech.

“Jimin!”

With barely a second to pull any breakables (himself) out of the way, Hoseok catapults onto the table.

“What-” Jimin blinks, bewildered, and considers whether to shove Hoseok or check if he’s alright. Instead, what he settles on is a choked out “what the fuck are you doing?!”

Hoseok grins, apologizes and Jimin thinks that he doesn’t look sorry at all.

“Why are you dressed like that?”

Hoseok’s in his usual dance attire, but instead of the post-practice sweatiness and wrinkled clothes, he looks relaxed and … nice? And though- if the general university population is to be believed- Hoseok is known for his ability to look good even when exhausted, face flushed and weary after practice, there isn’t a sign of hours of stress and exercise in the studio. There aren’t any dark shadows beneath his eyes, nor a tremble to his limbs.

Which is a fact that makes Jimin suspicious, because it’s midday and he knows that the freestyle dance session just ended and Hoseok would never miss freestyle dance willingly.

Hoseok clatters off the table and dusts himself down. “Believe it or not I’m not always a sweaty, tired dance major. We've been summoned.”

“We?” Jimin asks right as Taehyung gulps down a mouthful of Ramyeon and comments, “that sound so sinister.”

“Don’t worry young ones.”

Chapter Text

Hoseok makes seven verbal promises and threatens one blood oath in an effort to prove that he’s not pranking them- and look- it’s not that Jimin doesn't trust him, it’s not that at all. In fact, Jimin is likely to be- and has been- accused of trusting Hoseok too much.

But it’s exactly because Jimin inherently trusts Hoseok, that he’s learnt not to trust him.

And really, that’s not quite as convoluted as it sounds.

The thing is, Jimin has an ingrained willingness to believe in people- particularly Hoseok with his obscenely bright sunshine personality, his heart shaped grin and how he’s slotted into his, Taehyung's and Jungkook's trio so well- but it’s for that exact reason (a lack of caution and blind trust in the elder) that he’s found himself in less than stellar situations.

(“So, uh, I was going through your clothes- looking for something to wear for tomorrow- and I saw something… odd.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah…”

“Well? What is it?”

“Well, Um…”

“For the love of- can you please just spit it out?”

“Why do you have a portal in your closet?”

“Oh… ha who would have thought? I could have sworn Namjoon cleaned that up.”

Hobi, he may be a god of destruction but even he can’t break through the fabric of reality.”

“W-what? Psht, don’t stress Chim Chim, let's have Pizza-”

Oh my gOD YOU WERE PLANNING THAT. YOU WANTED ME TO GO INTO THAT THING?”

“It only goes to the Philosophy lecture theatre! They’re looking at multidimensions! You coming in through the portal would have been funny, Jimin. Funny!”)

And as such, he’s learned to err on the side of caution whenever Hoseok gets that glint in his eyes and skip to his step, and comes up and demands Jimin’s cooperation in whatever wicked plan he wants to enlist Jimin’s help with.

(Jimin can never refuse for longer than an hour, because Hoseok is a literal ray of sunshine).

So, when Jimin’s hackles still rise in suspicion when the announcement is met with a giddy wiggle and the flippant promise that Jimin should just trust him, “it’s gonna’ be fine.” Jimin is nervous.

But he chooses to believe Hoseok. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

(Oh. He definitely just jinxed that, didn’t he?)

****

As they’re walking through the school- looping through pathways of tired but not yet dead university students- to wherever it is that Hoseok wants them to go, Jimin takes his time to consider what could possibly be so important that he had to pull them away from their lunch- their food!

It’s a Friday, most of the school activities are over, and weekend homework and shifts are looming on the horizon (along with the promise of parties and drinking that will be regretted come morning). The most curious thing about the situation though, is that Hoseok isn’t explaining anything, just cackling about “ spoilers” and shooing them onwards when they walk too slowly .

Jimin doesn’t expect that Hoseok will explain what’s going on right away, but usually he’d give some indication of a big dramatic secret, some hint of something.

But no, instead they’re being kept in the dark, and although Jungkook has the decency to look slightly curious Taehyung isn’t bothered at all as he continues re-enacting the same drama scene from earlier.

Jimin sighs, glancing into the mirrored windows that line the walls of the main building, and with a sort of vengeful satisfaction he realises that he mustn’t be walking as fast as Hoseok wants him to. Jimin can see in the mirrored glass how he’s flitting behind him quickly, arms reaching out frustratedly with the intention to push Jimin whenever he slows down, and with this knowledge, Jimin grins wickedly.

“Are you okay, Hobi?” He asks after the other crashes into his back when Jimin pauses and pretends to tie up his shoelaces, and Jimin guesses that Hoseok reaches the end of his saint-like patience, because with an impatient ‘tsk’, he comes up behind him- hands settling on his shoulders- and he pushes Jimin with enough force that he has no choice but to move faster to avoid landing flat on his face.

They pass by several classrooms like that, Taehyung and Jungkook babbling away ahead of them, while Jimin laughs at Hoseok’s determination to get him to move.

He thinks that they must make a weird sight right now, but he can’t find it in him to be legitimately annoyed- not even when several passing students raise their eyebrows, or when his Vocal Tutor walks by and Jimin almost falls on his face trying to bow. He’s only able to be amused at his friend’s antics.

But that amusement changes a few minutes into their venture, when they pass the university greenhouse.

As they go by the open window that connects the greenhouse to the hallway, Jimin is proud to say that he doesn’t turn beat red, just very pink and starts fiddling with his glasses embarrassedly.

Inside, the vibrant green and jewel tones of the plans, glow with an almost ethereal light that can only be achieved through the use of magic, and both students and plants raise their heads to watch as their loud group passes.

Jimin waves, flustered, and Jiweon- a sweet natured girl who works with him into the early hours of the morning every Tuesday and Saturday, and brings him floating Succulents because Taehyung always manages to kill the sitting ones- along with the Snapdragon she’s watering; blink at him in amused confusion as he’s pushed past.

He’s sure that his face must burst into flame when when the Snapdragon tilts its head and rapidly looks between him and Hoseok, and the two younger boys ahead of him. Plants, man, they’re so judgy.

Finally they end up at the main studio and Hoseok’s hands slip away from his shoulders as he joins the crowd of students who are wandering in, and Jimin is quietly relieved to see that Hoseok hadn't dragged them from their lunch for a prank (which is a reasonable fear because it’s happened before).

Following the flow of the crowd, he tracks the bright orange of his hair so that he doesn’t get lost as he’s jostled by other students trying to get through the doors. Stepping into the studio though, and as his eyes adjust to the change in lighting, he’s struck by just how many students are flowing into the space.

The bright fluorescent lights cast a cool glow on what Jimin assumes is at least one-hundred people, all students that Jimin recognises from either dance or vocal classes at the university- or who he knows from word of mouth, are in the drama or performance departments.

Which is weird, because usually the performance departments don’t meet up like this, in fact they never meet up like this. Collaborations are common, sure , but the meeting of each drama and media and performance section of the university has never happened.

He carefully bumps his way into a less crowded space in the studio, and thinks back to what small amount Hoseok had explained earlier; which hadn’t been much at all given his sudden decision to be all suave and mysterious.

“They haven’t done this before, so it’s something big,” he’d said. “And Seokjin knows but he refuses to tell me, aish.” But Hoseok hadn’t looked concerned, his eyes actually glinting with excitement, and he’d moved with a more noticeable spring to his step than usual.

Jimin frowns, but he can’t put anything together, and instead settles on trying to find where his friends have gotten to.

Craning his neck to look over the crowd, Jimin searches for Taehyung’s telltale blonde hair, but with the movement of the bodies around him- rushing and mingling and shuffling around like a puzzle that can’t quite be put together- he finds that he can’t really see anything.

(And no, it’s not because he’s short. Go away. He’s actually taller than the average height demographic for his age, thank you very much).

“So what were you talking about earlier?” Jimin startles and turns to Hoseok who hops to a stop next to him, rocking on his heels cheerfully.

Jimin flushes. “I wasn- can you all just drop it.”

“So it was something?”

“No.”

“No?”

No! Nothing, literally nothing happened!” He throws his hands in the air in aggravation, and bumps another student who’s demonstrating some sort of fire juggling to his friends. Jimin spares a second to think about how stupid that is- there are people everywhere, idiot; then mumbles a sorry and glowers at Hoseok. “Why are you like this.”

Hoseok raises an eyebrow. “Well that wasn’t dramatic.”

His eye twitches. “Oh look it’s Namjoon, goodbye!”

Jimin bounds away from Hoseok as fast as his legs will take him, easily weaving his way through the crowd, and he thanks his heightened reflexes for the fact that he doesn’t accidentally bowl anyone over.

He’s gotten used to the side effects of his ability by now, and he’s been using them to help him navigate his way through things practically since his birth.

And, it’s a nice little addition to things, considering how much trouble his alternate form gives him- what with accidental transformations whenever his energy levels spike, or his heightened sense of smell (which is really a curse because Namjoon tries to cook when he visits on movie nights)- but, he’s glad that Whatever Strange Thing™ it is that adds the small amounts of magic to the world, is watching his back in the small ways it can.

Jimin finally manages to slide up next to Namjoon, who’s standing with his arms crossed and glancing around every few moments.

“Looking for Seokjinnie?”

With a startle that resembles an alarmed Giraffe, Namjoon jumps and clutches at his chest protectively. Jimin cringes and hurriedly apologizes, though Namjoon seems more occupied with not dying. “Jimin? Ah- yeah, he said he’d be here soon but I guess that the dean is still talking with him.”

“The dean? Why-” Jimin’s cut off when Hoseok bounds into his back and hugs him fiercely. “Running away doesn’t help your case, Jimin.”

Namjoon looks between them, and raises an eyebrow.

“When one is cornered by adversity, one is bound to respond with either fight or flight.” He comments, wisely. Then innocently asks, “so Jimin, why are you trying to fly away?”

Jimin sighs so forcefully that Taehyung’s head pops above the crowd and he spot Jimin (who's glaring at Namjoon and Hoseok) and the others easily, then he along with Jungkook comw over to join their small circle of people.

Hoseok smiles wickedly and comments as soon as they arrive, “Jimin is trying to fly away.”

Jimin wants to argue that he is not, but seeing as he’s halfway sandwiched between a grinning Hoseok and newly-arrived Jungkook in an attempt to escape, he has no real defense.

Still, he’ll try. “I- people can’t fly, so therefore your wisdom is invalid.”

With a laugh, Hoseok comes to stand in front of Jimin, pinching his cheeks and cooing and generally making noises that embarrass everyone. “Aw, Jimin, you’re so cute.”

“Yah! Stop.”

Jimin attempts to pull Hosoeks’ arms away from his face, tugging randomly at Hobi's sleeves and puffing out his cheeks, in an attempt to break Hoseok’s grip while he tries to remember what self defense and martial arts he was taught that one week in high school. But nothing comes to mind and he’s left facing his friends’ amused grins.

He’s about to voice a louder protest, when someone speaks mildly behind them.

“Namjoon.”

It’s a rough voice, smokey and tired and really nice, and his cheeks tinge pink at that thought.

Hoseok’s grip on his face loosens as he turns his attention to the newcomer and Jimin takes the golden chance to step back towards his freedom.

Taking a moment to compose himself, Jimin pushes his hair back and tugs his sweater down into his palms, making them into sweater paws as he fights off his reflex to glare at anyone too close.

When Jungkook sees this, he smirks, and Jimin fists his sweater tighter into his palms, mumbling a quiet “brat.”

Honestly, they’re all children. Infants. Babies. And, he wonders briefly why he puts up with them; though he supposes, it’s for the exact same reason they would say they put up with him. In the many years that Jimin has known Tae and Kookie, and the recent year where he’d met Namjoon, Hoseok and Jin, they’ve come to form an easy and close friendship with each other. He puts up with them because they’re as close as family to him.

Whatever, he thinks, but it’s tinged with fondness.

“Hey, man!” Namjoon says, grinning dorkily at the unidentified newcomer, and throws his hand out to exchange some sort of greeting.

Jimin has to stand on his toes to try and see around Namjoon’s build, but unable to catch a glimpse of more than a dark coat and the tail of a scarf he gives up, accepting as Namjoon throws his arm over his shoulders, that this isn’t a battle he was made to win. “Jimin and Jungkook, I don’t think you’ve met this friend? This is Yoongi, Min Yoongi.”

Jimin stills and Namjoon takes his silence as confusion.

“I might have mentioned him before? I mostly call him Suga around you guys?” He rubs the back of his neck embarrassedly, and Yoongi rolls his eyes, though they glint with amusement.

Jimin watches, suddenly feeling very completely at a loss as Yoongi greets them.

He suffers a moment of double vision; the Min Yoongi he met in an alley a week ago struggling to align with the Yoongi he’s meeting now. His posture is stiffer and he moves a little more carefully, and while his smile is genuine it’s smaller than the gummy grin Jimin had seen the first time they’d met. But, he’s struck most by the difference in his eyes.

They’re more guarded, not cold or cruel, but disinterested and Jimin notices that Yoongi seems caught up in other thoughts.

Bowing gently, he flashes him a smile, a little unsure of what exactly to do next but say a quick hello.

Yoongi just stares, and Jimin fidgets. “I-”

Then, the dean of the performing arts clears her throat and the buzz of conversation in the room dims, providing the perfect escape from the inevitable awkwardness of a conversation with the man who fished him out of a dumpster.

Really, Jimin thinks as he slips away from his friends and towards the back wall, why can’t I have normal problems?

Being born with the ability to shapeshift at will, and taking on the traits and characteristics of what he shifts into, is undeniably awesome and has come in handy on many occasions. And he’s honestly glad that due to his ability, he’s gotten the reflexes that have saved him from both cars and milkshakes, or a keener sense of smell that's warned him when Namjoon had taken the liberty of making a home cooked meal for them.

The only problem is that the universe likes to play with technicalities.

And Jimin is no exception to the terms and conditions applied to having an ability.

If he was born with bad luck, at least his biggest concerns would just be trying to find someone with good luck to balance the ability out, and avoiding coffee shops in the morning. If he had of been born with the ability of a low-key psychic, he’d just have to steer clear of crushes or weirdo’s on trains. Heck, maybe if he’d been born as an energy lender as he’s always mistaken for, he wouldn’t have to worry about randomly transforming, just making sure he eats and sleeps lots to always stay energetic.

Instead, he deals with accidental transformations, an unfortunately heightened sense of smell and constantly having people assuming he’s a stray and trying to catch him. Not to mention that normally he’ll need glasses to not be blind, and that translates over to his cat form as well, meaning that he can see better when he’s a cat but still not as good as other cats.

But- things are as they are- and it’s actually not all that bad at all.

(Sometimes when he accidentally transforms, Jungkook will let him sleep curled up on the couch next to him until his energy recovers; and though Jungkook would never admit it, Jimin knows that sometimes he’ll run a soothing hand through his fur when Jimin’s sleep gets fitful).

Jimin watches from the wall, and what follows for the next half hour is a speech that Jimin somehow manages to catch a few full sentences of- the buzzing energy and shuffling and scuffling of the crowd too overwhelmingly distracting to him and he can’t focus enough to block it out.

A few key bits do capture his attention though; “first ever official showcase”.

And, if what Jimin is hearing is correct, it’s the biggest collaboration they’ve ever tried, “all of the departments will be cooperating with each other, and the student representatives have already begun to form the units that will perform on the night.”

And then, as soon as the announcement is made, the meeting is over.

“You know, it’s people like you who made it hard for us to decide the units who would perform. Why are you doing a double major, again?” Seokjin whispers, startling Jimin as he comes up to his side and rests his chin on his shoulder.

“You kids are so difficult, aish.

Jimin resents that, but whatever, he knows there’s no bite in the other boy’s complaint. Jin is all puns and mama-bear in nature, and as Jimin watches him gracefully bound his way over to Namjoon and the others, he can’t help but feel that he’d actually just been given a compliment.

He smiles, and begins making his way back over, because thankfully the staticy sound of the old microphone is now gone.

But then he stops.

Yoongi is still with the group, bobbing his head in agreement to something Namjoon is saying while Hoseok bounces around the group excitedly.

Jimin swallows thickly and considers his options.

He could just introduce himself, politely explain that school is making him suffer, and claim sleep deprivation for his earlier weirdness. He could, he should? But he can't. And he can’t figure out why.

Jimin’s met Yoongi- granted he was a cat at the time and Yoongi hadn’t even realised it was Jimin he was meeting- but semantics. He shouldn’t be freaking out so much.

Ultimately it's Taehyung and Hoseok who make the decision for him. Though in the recurring theme of his life, it’s an accident.

Jimin wanders over to where they’re all standing and he bumps Taehyung’s shoulder with his own, silently asking to be let into the circle. Taehyung moves and slings his arm around Jimin and putting a little of his weight on him- and he wishes they’d stop doing that, just because he’s smaller than them.

Tae-” he whines, but it goes ignored as Taehyung takes a sip of water and pulls an exaggerated face at Jungkook.

“Whipped.” He whispers into Taehyung’s ear and Tae chokes, the water in his mouth gargling accidentally as he splutters.

Taehyung turns slowly to look him dead in the eye. Jimin raises an eyebrow. “If I’m whipped, then what about you disappearing from the apartm-”

Eyes widening, Jimin stumbles forward and rounds on Taehyung as threateningly as he can- mouth opening to defend himself- but Hoseok, who’d been making his way across the circle asking questions and talking animatedly, collides into him right at the moment the words are about to leave his mouth.

The figures around him blur; ceiling and linoleum floor becoming one in a mix of autumn sweaters and cool-toned lights as he crashes backwards. It’s a roll and tumble sort of fall, and Jimin grabs onto whatever he can to steady himself, which is how he finds his hand fisting into the soft fabric of a coat belonging to whoever landed on top of him.

“Uh-” Jimin blinks.

It takes a second, then his body catches up with his eyes and his brain catches up seconds later, and he recoils in horror.

Jimin blinks through his shock and studies the other’s face, dark fringe hanging away from his eyes, which are staring right back at him. “Are you trying to kill someone?” He grunts and Jimin’s cheeks warm up.

Of course it’s Yoongi.

He flails for a moment, hands releasing the soft black material of Yoongi’s coat, and then flitting around unsurely as he notices the warmth of an arm securely wrapped around the back of his head, protecting it from the studio floor.

Jimin flushes even deeper, and glances sideways, gaze briefly catching on the dusting of pink on Yoongi’s skin.

“I- um… sorry.” He stammers, and Yoongi raises an eyebrow at him, face otherwise totally expressionless- though his gaze shifts with something that Jimin doesn’t quite understand.

“Right.” Yoongi shifts- knee moving away from where it had landed between Jimin’s thighs- and he moves his arm away from under Jimin’s head gently.

Finally, as Yoongi pushes himself up from the floor, his gaze tears away from Jimin’s. “Right.”

***

He leaves the studio with his head reeling- relying on muscle memory and the sounds of Taehyung and Hoseoks’ conversation to guide him. His thoughts are a jumbled mess, but he feels the fantom warmth of an arm around the back of his neck.

***

Later that day he finds himself sitting at the corner of the alley. The afternoon sun warm as he waits for the disorientation of the shapeshift to wear off, and for the upteenth time that week, he wanders what he’s doing. It’s not as though he hasn’t been helped out of troublesome situations before. So, why can’t he just act normally? Find a way to quietly thank Yoongi and be done with it? Why is he here?

He sighs, because he knows the answer to all of that.

He’s undeniably curious about the man and for Jimin, it’s impossible to battle both his human curiosity and his cat curiosity at once; another side effect of his catty persona (Jin would laugh, so you can too).

The thing is, if left too long, the curiosity can actually start to physically hurt- when the questions settle into his skin and he’s left with a niggling sense of something left undone, an itchiness coursing through his veins.

Magic. It’s a beautiful thing, giving each human an ability that is incomparable in effect or power. They’re mundane in nature, sure, nothing more powerful than scrying using phones or beer bottles at parties, or being able to bring life back to dead plants. But it’s their mundane-ness, which is why they’re so special, because they just are.

They can be a huge pain in the ass though- and hugely ridiculous when it comes to their inclusion in exams (Jimin is never taking a cooking class again, not after the 4am chicken hunting fiasco where Taehyung and he had run all over Seoul looking for a well-loved chicken they could pass as their own, to pass their ‘Lovingly grown meal’ exam (inhumane, inhumane). Jimin hadn’t eaten meat for a month after, and Jin had to console him by admitting that he had also failed spectacularly, as he’d run out of the room shielding his chicken and screaming).

Down in the alleyway, he hears a creak, wood sliding around the cement and hinges creaking quietly. Slowly, nervously, he pokes his head around the corner.

He isn’t exactly sure what he should do. He could go up and see if Yoongi recognises him, maybe try and convey his thanks through headbutts? Ugh. It’s times like these, that Jimin wishes his human sensibilities wouldn’t overlap with his cat impulses, because he would love to not feel weird about going up to Yoongi and offering him a fish in thanks.

Whatever.

He sighs quietly, cheeks puffed out in despair, and gets ready to take a step back- the idea of maybe just letting his curiosity die out, and enduring Jungkook and Taehyung’s teasing for the rest of his life, sounding better by the second.

But as he’s getting ready to turn, his back legs hit a stray bottle and it clatters backwards. Yoongi looks over and Jimin doesn’t turn away quickly enough.

His smile is gummy as he waves, and Jimin’s legs turn to jelly.

Chapter Text

Jimin stretches, arms wrapping around the back of his thighs as he bends forward, wincing through the burn of his muscles.

Inhale, one two.

Exhale, one two.  

Play Paper Scissors Rock, one two.

He loves dancing, but warm-ups, he thinks while looking out at the upside down studio, are awful. They’re like the theory part of a practical in science; one moment you’re blowing something up and living the life of a mad genius, and the next you’re writing a conclusion on why vinegar and bicarb soda explode upon contact.

He holds his breath, the tightness in his muscles eases, and after a minute or so he pulls himself back up into a standing position.  

From somewhere across the room he hears a gasp.

Slowly, lethargically, he slides his arms upwards and above his head; the cool air of the practice studio hitting his stomach where his shirt rides up, and he sighs softly.

At one point, Taehyung had announced that Jimin’s body is like a human folder, able to bend in half the way that no human should even want theirs to, and at the time Jimin had snorted. He’d denied the description and whacked him up the back of the head with a friendly “go back to touching your toes shithead,” but with the way some of the newer students are staring at him with thinly concealed shock (horror), he thinks that Taehyung maybe possibly wasn't being that dramatic.

He sighs again and looks out of the studio windows, one-way mirrored glass allowing him to watch the last of the dying leaves drift on their way in the breeze.

In the space of a couple of months, and in what has felt like the blink of an eye; the burnt oranges of Autumn have made way for the biting cold of Winter mornings and sleepy coffee runs. Shops steadily fill with the steam of warm drinks during grey sunrises, and busy commuters and exhausted students alike flood into them on the same mornings that would have the wise hiding under warm blankets. Without incident, Chuseok passes by as well, and Jimin takes a few days to visit his family back in Busan.

When he comes back to Seoul, the dialect sticks with him unconsciously, colouring his words with deep Busan Satoori, unnoticed to him until Jin corners him and asks if he’s taken up smoking or aged, “Jimin, seriously you sound like a drama actor, not our mochi-chim. Are you okay?!”

But, for the most part, things have stayed the same.

Classes get busier in the way they always have, and in the inevitable cycle of things, so do the people. Assessments and projects and practices start to take up more time- and Jimin quickly finds himself neck deep in the workload of school and his shifts- hitting the point where sleep starts becoming a luxury much sooner than he would have liked.

And yet, through the hectic-ness of things, the school still buzzes with curiosity about the showcase; whispers and theories always on people’s lips and questions floating around about who will be grouped with who and what kind of units the showcase will consist of, but no new information arrives.

(Jin remains tight lipped on the subject, and Hoseok who actually knew about it the whole time and is helping choose the units, isn’t swayed by Jimin’s attempts to find out more. “I am immune to your cute, Jimin…. wait, no! Stop pouting it hurts my heart!” )

So, trying to get any answers from his friends turns out to be a dead end, but rumours run rampant- and both he and Jiweon spend hours at a time theorising with each other while they work- because she seems to know something about everything (Jimin suspects that the plants she tends to at school are her informants)- and wants to pry as much information from him as she can, so she can piece it together.

But she’s not the only one who’s been trying to get answers out of him, though they’re a different kind. Ever since his official meeting with a certain dark haired gentleman, he’s been asked all variations of the question “how do you know Yoongi?”

And, as anyone following the unfortunate and overly ridiculous narrative of his life would know, answering (avoiding) the questions is not an easy task.

Jimin had been cringing for weeks after the awkward first meeting that occurred that fateful day in the main studio. And without his permission, his thoughts constantly bounce back to the faded black of Yoongi’s coat, fabric soft in his hands, and how he’d looked at Jimin with an unreadable expression and had growled irritation-laced words.

He’d also been cringing for weeks when he realised how close Yoongi actually is to his circle of fiends.

It doesn't help Jimin’s health though when Yoongi makes the decision to join them during lunches, and very quickly Jimin realises that of course Yoongi is the rapper Agust D whom Namjoon has collaborated with so many times. The rapper whom Namjoon gushes about and who also happens to be one of Hoseok’s childhood friends (though Hoseok is sure to mention that Yoongi likes to pretend they don’t know each other when they’re in public and he’s doing something ridiculous).

As such, he can only play at obliviousness of Yoongi for so long, because once he connects the dots between the rapper August D and the nickname Suga and the perpetually disgruntled Yoongi with his soft hair and indecipherable gaze, and as soon as Yoongi starts joining the now-group for lunch; Jimin knows that ignoring his curiosity about Yoongi is going to be impossible.

He still tries.

Because… because… well he doesn’t know.

It’s just that, whenever the rapper joins them after dance practices or eats with them, something warm and fidgety and overwhelming builds up inside of his chest- and he’s incredibly charmed when Yoongi shoves his face in the crook of his elbows and sleeps, curled up at the end of the table as the rest of their group talk and laugh and argue.

And on top of that, suddenly, as if it's the way it's always been, their rowdy excitable group of three becomes an even rowdier more excitable collection of seven; rappers, dancers and vocalists all coming together to argue over Ramyeon, drama's and the occasional actual scuffle over both (after the third physical fight between Taehyung and Jimin, Jin decides to sit between them permanently. It doesn't help much). And Yoongi molds perfectly into the dynamic, grumpy frown and sudden inexplicable gummy grins making up the being that is Min Yoongi.

So, Jimin decides he has to act as casual as possible and try and get to know the new addition to their group, but he doesn’t know exactly how to, even though starting a conversation should be as simple as saying hello or ‘ hey sorry about that time I pulled you to the ground as I fell.’ He tries to play it off coolly, and acknowledges Yoongi politely in conversation, but he’s too awkward about it to do much else.

And of course, the others of their newly dubbed ‘maknae line’ notice, and constantly tease that ‘ Jimin has a crush!’ Hoseok also notices Jimin’s sudden awkwardness, and though they don't say anything, Jimin is sure that Namjoon and Jin do as well. Especially after a horrendously drunken night of Karaoke with the group, where Jimin literally walked into Yoongi again , and proceeded to hightail the hell out of there.

But bluffing his way through the teasing and making up excuses will only work for so long- especially on Hoseok, and Jimins luck seems to be running out.

“So, I didn’t know you and Yoongi had met before.”

Why is does the dialogue of his life consist so much of this question?

“I haven’t- not really,” he says, putting on a front of total nonchalance and stretching to touch his toes- hoping that Hoseok will understand Jimin is trying to brush the conversation off. “I... saw him in passing and recognised him.”

“I call bull.” He smiles a saccharine grin and Jimin snaps his head up, and knows that he’s done for.

“I call bull on you calling bull.”

“When did you start ignoring new people.”

“Well- when did you start choosing units for the showcase.” He fires back.

“Jimin-” with a pitiful whine, Hoseok throws himself on him in an exaggerated hug, seemingly forgetting what he’s trying to get out of Jimin. “I’m not choosing, I’m just there to suggest which person’s talents might match someone else’s.”

“Aish, okay okay!  Get off, you lump.” Jimin grins, but is quietly terrified that Hoseok’s seemingly endless stream of cheer and energy may set off his shift one day.

He knows that it’s probably not really possible- because Hoseok isn’t an energy lender, and Jimin only ever transforms when he particularly wants to or when his energy levels spike, but he doesn’t actually know all that much about the technicalities of turning into a cat- just tidbits he’s picked up over time.

And it’s not as though Jimin can ask anyone about it; not because no one else shares the ability to shapeshift, but rather because the experience isn’t comparable.

When he had been much younger and ignorant of what mundane abilities really were, he’d run away to the park just around the corner- a big adventure at the time- and had hidden in a rusting copper and yellow slide for an entire afternoon, trying to figure out what his superpower was.

He hadn’t realised at the time that focussing so hard on making his ability do the thing , was what would set it off, but he’d found out quickly.

Jimin had felt fire burn through his bloodstream, every fiber in his being protesting at the feeling of energy shifting inside of him.

Sometimes he wishes he could remember exactly what happened next, what the first shift felt like, so he could explain it properly, but his mind had either blocked out the memory of the experience or destroyed it completely. Jimin never met any other shapeshifters, but the internet gave him more than enough information on the topic for him to realise that no-one else experiences the pain or the feel of shifting the same, that it can take longer to shift for some and it can be a partial shift only for others.

What he does know though, was that on that day he’d met Taehyung for the first time; a bubbly five year old with a missing front tooth and an oversized sweater, wooly and soft, which he had let Jimin hide in as they went in search of his parents. Jimin still sometimes wonders how Tae had understood him at that time, when Jimin had been too confused and frightened to do more than mentally recount the path from the playground to his apartment- he has his suspicions but Taehyung had never directly answered them, so like many things involving Taehyung, he’d simply trusted him and let it be.

The following day they’d met at pre-school and, as Taehyung put it, discovered their destiny as best friends- the old playground where they first met became their base camp for years, training for secret missions and practicing Jimin’s shape shifting- and a few years later they met Jungkook there as well.

The two of them, Jungkook and Taehyung, were the only ones aside from his parents and younger brother who he’d ever told about his ability.



***

 

Jimin sees all manner of strange things working in a convenience store which largely caters for people in search of cheap spells and potions, as well as on the go snacks and other convenient items . It’s like selling cheap perfume really- they aren’t specialists like Jang-Mi who can get people to pay literal arms and legs for her products- they get kids who are looking for holographic smoke to prank their friends, or novelty talking plants for gifts, which don’t actually talk so much as mumble, unlike the plants that Jiweon tends to pull from the back of her car and gift to Jimin sometimes.

But Jimin isn’t all too concerned, he likes to hear the stories that customers come in with when they purchase

because for the most part the people he meets aren’t all that unusual.

For the most part.

"I need to lift a curse, please?"

Jimin startles and loses grip on his highlighter, glasses falling down the bridge of his nose as he answers a jolted, "ah, yeah. Aisle 5, about halfway down."

What answers isn’t a person or a creature- not as far as Jimin can tell- because he can’t see them, all he hears is a gentle feminine voice answer a quick thank you.

“Oh and mind the flying fish!” Jiweon adds, kicking her way out of the side room, shouting towards the disembodied voice. “We haven’t figured out how to get them back into the freezers yet, don’t let them hit you if you can avoid it.”

Jimin leans against the counter, steering clear of a Jiweon on a mission, hip digging into the scuffed wood as the echo of footsteps fade away from them. “I can’t believe we’re still selling those, we’re lucky nobody’s had an epileptic fit.”

“I happen to like the design! They’re dope. ” Jiweon calls and Jimin rolls his eyes as he pulls out a couple of the cans from under the counter to refill the mini fridge, because yes he knows , they’ve been having this same argument since they’d worked their first shift together.  

“I mean sure… they can be a bit wild, but…” she scrunches up her nose, “you can’t judge! Look at your hair!”

Oh. She did not just. “It’s silver!” He shouts defensively, and the elderly couple swatting their way through the flying fish look up at him disapprovingly. Jimin lowers his voice and pouts. “What’s wrong with silver?”

“In this light it looks orange!”

“I would look great with orange hair!”

A small, soft sound comes from behind them, and Jimin spins, sheepish as someone clears their throat. “Hi? How can I…”

Except no-one’s there, and Jimin is momentarily very confused,  “-help you?”

Jiweon snorts behind him, and he pokes his tongue out out childishly in response, though it goes largely ignored as she points to the not-as-empty-as-he-thought space in front of him.

“Ah, just this one… please.” A vial of green, syrupy liquid floats up in front of Jimin, and he takes it carefully, face flushed red as he mumbles an apology and avoids hitting any unseen limbs.

“That looks like a brutal hex,” Jiweon comments, “either you pissed someone off who’s pretty powerful, or messed with something very probably illegal.”

There's a nervous laugh that isn't heard as much as felt because of the person’s state of nonexistence, a luke-warm energy crackling through the air. “I accidentally underestimated the potency of some ingredients during a cooking class and got... b- bumped at the wrong time,” and Jimin would have missed the nervous stutter if his sense of hearing wasn’t so keen.

Jiweon nods and offers a sympathetic smile before slipping back into the store room.

“Alright,” he starts, scanning the vial and casting an automatic glance upwards- belatedly realising that the person won’t have any money on them- not in their state of invisibility.

“Um, I can get someone to- well maybe… um.”

Jimin just shakes his head and closes his eyes in a warm smile. “Don’t stress I’ll sort it out- just drink so that you can get rid of that curse.”

There’s silence, but the vial is cautiously lifted up and the lid taken off. Jimin purses his lips in consideration- not sure if he should comment but deciding he wants to risk it if it may do some good.

“Hey, if you ever want- you know just in case- you’re welcome to use our break room, we have a list of helplines which is awesome, and a phone that cooperates if you give it compliments. You're always welcome.” He offers.

The air shifts in front of him and he imagines a hand waving frantically. “No no! It really was an accident! Well... I’m sure… I mean-”

Jimin just smiles gently and writes down the cost of the vial on a garish yellow sticky note, pressing it to the till so he can tell his manager later to take the amount from his paycheck.

“The offer stands, just let someone know if you want to come in.”

Jimin watches as the air starts to crackle slightly, and the wobbly outline of a figure starts developing. “I…” a quiet intake of breath, “thank you.”

The form of a now vaguely visible girl trembles, and she turns to leave the store. Jimin brushes his hair back from his face, worrying his bottom lip as he watches her jog to the bus stop across the road.

“Jimin! Come help here!”

Jimin lets a smile tug to his lips and he pushes away from the counter, hands hitting his cheeks as he sighs. He thinks for a moment that he hears the shuffling of feet and looks around curiously, but no one is to be seen.

Jiweon calls him to the store room again, and he misses the figure that ducks back through the door just as quickly as they entered.

 

***

 

Jimin is ready to sleep for a year.

Or maybe two.

He’s impartial really, as long as he sleeps.

It’s nearly half past three in the morning, and his replacement had just arrived unapologetically late for the shift swap over- and Jiweon had been furious enough for the both of them as the guy had sauntered in with a wink and asked Jimin if he would give his overtime pay to him because his car broke- Jimin had yelped an irritated “what?” and Jiweon told him to shove it.

Now, almost ten minutes later and still not able to clock off because his co-worker is on his phone ‘checking on important things’, Jimin is barely restraining his urge to growl, curl up in a ball and pass out.

He’s lucky though, because Jiweon notices the tension in Jimin’s body and quickly ushers him out, helping him collect his things despite his protests of ‘will you be alright’ and ‘I can stay a little longer if you need’, all the while throwing glares at their co-worker.

“Get some sleep, Jimin. I’m only here for another twenty minutes, think about your crush or something!”

And Jimin’s thoughts are too syrupy slow for him to register the last part of her sentence, so instead he sighs into the cool morning air; a cloud of warm breath spilling from his lips and dispersing slowly in the chill of the outside world, and he waves goodbye.

 

***

 

He’s halfway home, feet sore and slightly unsteady when he collapses in an all-too-glaringly-familiar alleyway.

Mornings are quiet things, where the world is bleary eyed and quiet, breathing gently as its silent heart beats.

“Hello, kitty.” Yoongi says, and Jimin startles (which has been happening a lot recently he’s noticed) and is suddenly very glad that he chose to transform for warmth.

“Sh, it’s just me.” Half of his face is hidden by the same fat grey scarf Jimin’s seen him wear before, and as he crouches down, the fabric of his faded blue jeans stretches over his thighs.

They’re small, though slight is probably a more befitting a word to describe them, because they look strong under the denim. Yoongi’s legs are slim but not weak or untoned, and Jimin thinks that though they’re not as large or muscle-bulging as his exercise-buff classmates’, he likes them better than any other thighs he’s ever seen.

They’re nice thighs Jimin decides, staring dumbly, absently, at the skin that shows through the rips in his jeans- paler in the moonlight- and milky white like sugar, fitting for Yoongi’s nickname.

Jimin’s hit with the startling temptation to rest his head on them, his cat-instincts screaming that Yoongi would make the perfect place to sleep right now. It’s like the temptation in an isle of breakables, knowing that you’re capable of knocking a glass over- throwing it to the ground even. The urge to break something, to get into trouble. It’s the call to the void and Jimin has to struggle against it with all he has.

As Jimin stares- though subconsciously and mostly because he’s tired alright, Yoongi shifts slightly above him.

His hand hovers just above Jimin’s head as if waiting for permission to drop a few more centimeters and brush through Jimin’s fur, and Jimin figures that nodding may be a little alarming, so instead he presses his nose into the palm of Yoongi’s hand and boops’ it gently, prompting a soft huff of laughter to spill from Yoongi’s lips.  

“You don’t ever say hello, but I know you’ve come to visit.” Yoongi says, and his tone is secretive like he’s confiding in Jimin some great untold secret; guilt steels itself in his chest and he casts him gaze to the ground.

Yoongi hums, scratching the space between Jimin’s eyes, and then glides his hand gently along his spine. “Are you an awkward cat by any chance?”

No, he’s not an awkward cat, but an embarrassing human.

Jimin snorts self-deprecatingly and it’s a soft sound in his cat form, but Yoongi’s eyes shine with a curiosity that could rival Jimin’s own. “Aish- you’re a strange kitty.”

Nuzzling Yoongi’s palm in way of apologising, he marvels on the fact that the other is much softer when he’s away from the eyes of other people. “It’s cold, would you like to rest inside tonight?”

Jimin wants to say yes, if for no other reason than he’s ready to pass out right here and now- but, he can’t. He feels that by Yoongi having no idea who he is, it would be an abuse of his kindness, especially given how Jimin acts around him as a human. So he shakes himself a little and gets to his feet and Yoongi seems to understand what Jimin’s answer is, but his lips are parted slightly as if wanting to say something.

He closes his mouth and then with a definitive nod and a tone leaving no room for argument, says “alright. Visit when you can, strange kitty.”

Chapter Text

Yoongi joins them with a decisive huff one day during their joint dance practice- hair unkempt under his beanie and under-eyes bruised dark as he slides down the wall onto the studio floor, whining about lies and over energetic dancers.

Hoseok snickers at the sight, and greets Yoongi with a chirpy, “hey man! You’re looking deader than usual.” To which Yoongi responds with something sounding suspiciously like fuck off.

It’s been a few months since their group became a group, and at this point, Yoongi’s joining them has happened so many times that Jimin barely registers it (a point blank lie right there; because Jimin has developed the accidental habit of always being able to recognise when it’s Yoongi who enters a room, or when it’s Yoongi who’s whining, or how his smile is gummy when he’s honestly happy. All of this is definitely because of his cat form).

So, of course, Jimin does actually realise that Yoongi is sitting propped up against a wall, not two metres away from him, sleepy and probably scowling.

Jimin lets out a laugh, high and amused as Hoseok cackles, and Yoongi burrows into the warmth of his coat.

Jimin wonders as he watches Yoongi, how the other isn’t freezing; but he supposes being nearly unconscious takes away most other concerns.The studio is cold at this time in the morning, linoleum floor chilled from the night before, and windows covered by the leafless branches of oak trees, which only allow a few fat rays of sunshine to hit the floor close by.

He’s curious, would Yoongi be cold to the touch? If maybe that’s why the cold floor isn't a concern to him? 

Jimin catches Yoongi’s gaze as he’s musing on this, and throws a small smile over- nervous as always, but sincere- and Yoongi raises an eyebrow in the way he always seems to do when Jimin is around, and throws an arm over his face tiredly.

“So, Jimin,” Hoseok says suddenly, startling Jimin, “did you know that Yoongi’s an energy lender?”

Yoongi mutters from his spot on the floor, and Jimin’s mouth opens in a slightly confused ‘oh’ .

“It’s why he’s always so exhausted.”

“Well stop taking my fucking energy and I’ll sleep less.”

“That’s a lie.”

Huh, energy lender, that kind of makes sense. Jimin stretches forward and touches his toes, tapping them in thought.

And thinking on it, it does actually make a lot of sense.

Jimin has noticed the other's lethargic quirk in the last few weeks, and while he knows for a fact that it’s not that he’s lazy; knows from Namjoon and Hoseok that he puts his heart into what he loves and works hard at it, knows that Yoongi stays up late and wakes up early, naps when he can and seems to be out walking at night often (if he knows anything from his encounters with him as a cat), he also knows that Yoongi can be hilariously slow some days.

In fact, Jimin finds it kind of fascinating when Yoongi is feeling tired, because he can sleep anywhere in any number of random positions, and tends to wear a constantly judgy expression, which Hoseok and Taehyung usually find themselves on the receiving end of.

Hoseok jumps up beside him, startling Jimin.

“Get ready for something awesome. I’ll be back-” and throwing a smirk over his shoulder, adds “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Which is unnecessary, and Jimin scowls because literally what could he do here that merits that kind of warning.

Yoongi grunts and Hoseok cackles.

“Everyone listen up! Keep warming up while I talk, but I have an announcement!”

Hoseok’s voice is loud, full of energy as he shouts across the room to the gathered students, and drags a stool in to stand on. “So, I bet you’ve all been wondering why we’ve been doing joint practices between departments for the last few weeks, am I right?”

Everyone cheers in agreement as Hoseok wiggles his eyebrows and grins- a little too wickedly for Jimin’s liking. “Well, today I’m able to give you the answers!”

There’s another round of cheering, though it’s a little more confused, and Hoseok laughs.

“The showcase-” and as soon as he says these words, the room bursts into an uproar of voices and low whistles and excited movement. Jimin sits straighter and leans in, and even Yoongi uncovers his eyes and props himself up a little.

“The showcase, as you know, is at the end of the academic year, giving us a little over six months to prepare. Six months from today to be exact.”

“There are three main groups for the showcase, and our group- all of you here- comprises of modern performing arts students. We have music composition, dance, and vocal majors as well, all of whom fall under the modern or contemporary arts bracket.”

From seemingly no-where, he pulls out an envelope, red and ominous and he deepens his voice, “right here, in my hand, I have the confirmed unit members.”

Everyone in the room shifts, a quiet tension thrumming through their bodies which Jimin is able to pick up.

The list goes on for a while, given that the ‘modern-contemporary group’ as they’ve been dubbed, is on the larger side, and Jimin finds himself becoming more tense as units go by and his name isn’t called out. He casts a glance at the people who haven’t been called out, and in an unsurprising twist of fate, Yoongi is still waiting too.

He doesn’t let himself think on it, though, because he sees Hoseok raise his head, lips curling into a heart shaped grin and he knows.

“Min Yoongi and Park Jimin.”

And Jimin is equal parts pleased as he is ready to die- because on one hand Yoongi is a (really) pretty cool guy (and Jimin finds his outwardly grumpy personality and sharp tongue hilarious, given that he knows Yoongi’s a total softy who will get involved in their ridiculousness), but on the other hand he’s ready to fling himself into the sun because he’s been stopping by Yoongi’s apartment as a cat for the last few weeks and Yoongi still. Does. Not. Know.

“We're still organising group performances, so keep an ear out. And remember, this showcase is the first ever- and we want it to go well, if you can’t for any reason make it or perform with your unit, we’ll need to know.”

***


Jimin swings his bag over his shoulder and lets out a huff of laughter as Hoseok plucks at his hoody, tying the strings together into an exaggerated bow, “I’m telling you Jimin, you look like a Mochi! You’re so cute, you’d fit in perfectly with Mochi kind!”

He swats at Hoseok playfully, and is definitely pleased that Hoseok at least has the sense to avoid his haphazardly thrown hand- knowing that even though Jimin’s height may not be to his advantage, his strength is definitely not to be underestimated. “Yah! Seriously why do you do this?”

“Because, Jimin,” he starts, levelling him with a look, “you’re so nice! I tried to do it to Jungkookie the other week and he threw me off a couch.”

“He punched you first,” Jimin points out unhelpfully, “I was there, besides, you were the one who somersaulted off and then flung yourself to the ground like you’d just been stabbed.”

“That’s besides the point! Jungkookie is is a muscle pig, you’re too soft, you wouldn’t hurt your Hyung!”

“You make me sound like an angel, please don’t forget that I could take you down in a fight.”

“Aish, well, you could try but you love your Hyung’s too much!”

“My muscles aren’t something to pass off!”

He laughs, “of course not, but again- you care for us too much.”

Someone clears their throat from behind them, and Jimin turns to see Yoongi standing- leaning, really- against the railing, looking so unfairly model-like without intending to be.

Yoongi’s beanie still covers his head, despite the now warm sun, and Jimin finds himself intrigued by how his earrings glint in the light from where they peek out from under the pilled wool.

“I want to talk to you.”

And, Jimin expected that really. From the moment the units were announced, he hadn’t been sure what kind of reaction Yoongi would have, hadn’t be sure if he’d be upset or if he wouldn’t care at all.

In fact, it doesn’t even cross his mind that Yoongi might actually be a little bit pleased to have Jimin as his partner, because the notion is entirely ridiculous- Jimin’s been nothing but awkward around him, despite their tentatively growing friendship over the last several weeks.

“Ah, yeah...”

Hoseok hovers for a moment, flitting around in the corner of Jimin’s vision, and then as if following some cue that Jimin missed, suddenly announces he has to find Taehyung.

Oh no, no, no. Jimin turns to him, dumbfounded and alarmed and begging the other to stay, because he still doesn’t know how to talk to Yoongi like a normal person, especially not alone.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Jimin! And Yoongi, please remember I love you!”

“It’s unrequited, leave.”

Yoongi leans further back against the railing, glaring (Jimin definitely sees the way his lips tug into a small smile), and Hoseok clutches his heart in mock hurt, while Jimin just doesn’t respond to Hoseok's goodbye.

He can’t respond. His brain shuts down, and he’s forced to run on the last brainwave that was sent through his head.

He reaches out desperately, Hoseok’s name dying on his lips as he watches him skip away, without any care that Jimin is left behind, brain dead and suffering heart failure. “Have a good chat!”

Great, I’m going to die.

And that’s how Jimin finds himself, the last student out of the studio for the day, looking helplessly between Hoseok’s retreating figure and Yoongi, who seems intent on destroying Hoseok with his eyes.

“Uh- what’s up, Yoongi?” He starts, hopping from one foot to another, unknotting his hoodie strings and shoving his hands into his pockets as if he’s actually cold and not nervous.

Yoongi turns, catches Jimin’s gaze, and casually as if he’s saying something as simple and uncomplicated as ‘oh hey’, says “I know you.”

Jimin stops moving, his eyes go wide, and he screams.

Because he could be trying to say literally anything, maybe that he has some sort of embarrassing information on Jimin from his past, or that he knows Jimin from some time where Jimin may have offended him.

But what Jimin realises he fears the most, is that Yoongi might have figured it out.

Yoongi jolts, blinking rapidly and raising his arms in the universal sign of peace as if Jimin’s just grown another head and is going to beat him with it, and quickly tries to clarify, “I’ve met you before?”

Which is totally unhelpful and doesn’t actually clarify anything.

Yoongi stutters, tone sounding a little nervous, “W-well, no, I mean- that’s…”

And the way he says it with his eyebrows creasing together as he stares at the ground catches Jimin’s attention. “Before the group became the group- I met you.”

He opens his mouth as if to say something but seems to quickly change his mind. “I’ve seen you before. Around the university. S-sometimes, when I finish recording or if I get out a little earlier I’ll see you with Hoseok dancing.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.” Yoongi says, looking down at the ground, and for a moment looks as though he’s said all he wants to, and is ready to walk away.

Jimin panics and stumbles after Yoongi.

“I’m Jimin! Park Jimin,” he manages quickly, and watches as Yoongi’s back stiffens, how he calmly spins on his heel to look Jimin over with an expression that he hasn’t been able to figure out yet. An expression that seems to be saved particularly for him.

He raises an eyebrow, and Jimin imagines that Yoongi probably thinks he’s gone insane.

“I know that you know my name.” He stresses, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly as his face flushes red, “but I, um, well I guess it was polite to let you know, given that I never introduced myself properly after knocking you down- and! Of course, we’ll be working together on the showcase! So you know… my name… is a good thing... to know… officially?”

Yoongi stares at Jimin.

Jimin glares at a snail.

The wind picks up a little and Yoongi laughs. “Well, Park Jimin, I guess we'll be seeing each other around.”

And the way the words roll off his tongue gives rise to something warm in Jimin’s chest.

Chapter Text

Jimin flings himself onto his bed and groans miserably.

Since their talk at the studio Yoongi and he had exchanged phone numbers, but Jimin has been suffering from acute embarrassment and has yet to actually message Yoongi, because from the moment he’d left (all but running away from Yoongi) the entire conversation has been replaying in his mind like a mortifying white noise.

And now that he’s finally got some free time, he’s decided to die in the protection of his apartment. Maybe he’ll write a will, get Taehyung to tell his parents and brother that he loves them and that he’s sorry to be such a failure at normal human interaction; but getting the paper and a pen is too much effort at the time being so maybe he’ll just have to send his will as a text. Can a text qualify as a legal document?

But of course, it occurs to him, he can’t just skip out of existence until the showcase is over so that he can selectively ignore Yoongi forever, because what will happen to Yoongi if he does that?

He lets out a cry of desperation, ripping his glasses off, as if by doing so it’ll erase the memory that's been burned into his mind's eye. “I’m Jimin, Park Jimin ?”

Of all the other stupid, embarrassing things he could have shouted to get Yoongi’s attention, it just had to be that.

Park Jimin?!

And it doesn’t help that Yoongi’s taken to including his surname when talking to him, emphasizing the words with a lazy drawl- eyes crinkling in amusement- when all Jimin can do is stutter and stumble in response.

Why is he so-

“Jiminnnn- ” someone flops on top of him, ignorant of his inner turmoil. “What’s got you so flustered? Or maybe, who?

Jimin swats at the air behind him, struggling to make contact with Taehyung’s face through the bone-crushing bear hug. “No-one .”

“Mhmmm.” He hums, and digs his chin into Jimin's shoulder, and Jimin sighs through his nose miserably.

“Where’s Jungkookie?”

“Sleeping on the couch.”

Jimin rolls over onto his back and Taehyung moves with him, sprawling across Jimin’s stomach with his arms hanging over the bed; a position they usually find themselves in because Jimin is weak and Taehyung likes to make use of his softness to get cuddles.

It's a very give and give friendship of affection and support .

Jimin hides his face in his hands and groans. "Why?”

“Why Junkook’s sleeping on the couch…. Or why this, whatever it is, is happening?”

Jimin struggles, hands fisting the fabric of his sweater desperately. “Both? None?”

Taehyung- unbeknownst to Jimin- watches the emotions play over his best friend’s face, watches as Jimin’s features shift from embarrassment to shy happiness and hope, and then total depression in a matter of moments. Taehyung thinks he may understand what’s happening, but decides to be tactful, and gently asks, “if there was someone you’d tell me, right?”

“What?” Jimin turns to look at him with a deadpan, and Taehyung resists a sigh because it’s obvious to him that Jimin doesn’t actually get what he’s implying through the question. “Duh, yes Tae, I’d tell you. I always do.”

Then his expression becomes playful, “and like I always do, I’d tackle you to the ground until you promised not to flirt on my behalf. But there’s no-one?”

Thoroughly incredulous at Jimin’s obliviousness, Taehyung’s attention drifts over to the lava lamp next to Jimin’s bed. “I want to do a magic show.”

Jimin hums, eyebrow raised as he ruffles his hair teasingly. “A magic show?”

“Mmm, you know that trick I’ve been working on?” He starts, using his hands to indicate how grand and impressive it is, or is meant to be, before dropping them harmlessly to hang over the edge of the bed.

Jimin nods, “the one that you absolutely won’t show anyone because it’s top secret?”

“Yup, I need your help with it.”

“Me? Why?”

“After the showcase, there’s the end of the academic year festival, I want to do it then. Cats breathe longer underwater compared to other animals, right?”

Jimin casts a hesitant glance at him, squinting suspiciously, because when Taehyung throws random questions out from nowhere it means that some sort of trouble’s brewing (and somehow he's always involved). “Underwater? Where on earth did you hear that?”

“I read it on Naver.”

“Naver is a liar.”


***


When the sun finally sinks below the horizon and the orange glow of dusk fades to a purply-blue, promising a cloudless and cool night, Jimin decides to visit Yoongi.

Just to see how he's doing.

“I’m going out!” He calls, not bothering with a coat, because as a cat he won’t need it anyways. “I’ll be back late, so don't worry!”

Jungkook peers over the edge of the couch, from where he'd been sleeping, eyeing Jimin suspiciously. “What about a jacket? It’s freezing.”

Jimin stops dead in his tracks.

“I'll… Be catching a taxi?”

“Yeah, but it’s still freezing. Where are you going that you need a taxi to get there?”

“Well I-I… bread? I need bread.”

Jungkook’s eyes narrow, because the last time Jimin had gone out to get ‘bread’ he’d come back with fruit, and they still have a whole bag of buns in their cupboard from the time before that when he’d gone out to get his ‘missing wallet’.

Tae jumps onto the couch next to Jungkook, wrapping his arms around the younger instinctively as the impact jostles them both.

“Yah!” Jungkook elbows him in the ribs, but otherwise doesn’t put all that much effort into getting Taehyung to move; instead allowing him to nuzzle his head into his shoulder, and Taehyung smiles happily. “Y’know Kookie, Jimin must really like bread.”

Then, as if something clicks in Jungkook’s brain, he smirks. “Don’t be out too late loverboy!”

Jimin groans. “Don’t wake up next time, Jeon Jungkook!”

Before they can ask any more questions, he slams the door with a dramatic flourish and a little more force than necessary. But both Taehyung and Jungkook know that it’s half-hearted and that Jimin’s words are out of embarrassment rather than anger.

“I don’t know why he thinks the excuses still work?” Jungkook muses out loud, and Taehyung shrugs helplessly.

“We’ll let him keep his secrets for now, but I will meddle if it’s for his own good.”



***


Outside the air is almost frozen, and the few determined weeds growing through the cracks in the cement are covered in a thin layer of ice as evening settles in. Jimin himself is rigid as he walks, spine straightened as he fights the ache of the cold seeping into his bones, shivering and blowing gently on his hands to keep warm.

This winter is meant to be incredibly cold, not the coldest they’ve ever had, but enough so that Jimin will wish almost constantly to be curled up at home and sleeping in his cat form, enjoying Taehyung’s coddling.

In saying that, being in his cat form doesn’t mean he’s warmer, in fact with a smaller body mass he might freeze faster- and he's never been quite cold enough to swallow his pride and get a ‘cat jumper’ from a pet store for his chillier outdoor ventures.

Those things are ugly, Jimin shudders, thoroughly disturbed.

And wearing a coat in his human form wouldn’t have done him any good either, because the warmth it would give doesn’t transfer over. The only benefit of wearing clothes when he shifts is that when he shifts back he won’t be naked.

And by all accounts, that logic doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but this universe has decided that those are the rules and in all fairness, isn’t it weird enough that he can shapeshift in the first place?

Jimin does the closest he can to shrugging as a cat while walking and carries on, knowing the path to Yoongi’s apartment like he knows the way to his own (please, please, do not judge, he knows it’s mildly stalkerish, but he enjoys spending time with Yoongi so it just. Happened.)

“It’s you!”

Jimin yelps at the high pitched sound, and spins to see Yoongi advancing on him, which on any normal day would be alarming in itself because of Yoongi’s lethargic quirk and natural ease; and therefore it’s downright terrifying in the early evening with the dim glow of the streetlights and the unusual energy coming of in waves from the other male.

“Oh no you don’t-” Jimin jumps away from Yoongi playfully right as the other reaches down with his ridiculous smile, but the other is surprisingly fast. “Gotcha.”

And yes, yes he has.

Jimin won’t complain though, pressing himself closer to Yoongi’s chest and headbutting him happily; because Yoongi is warm, and his breath tickles Jimin’s nose as he looks down with amused eyes and upturned lips. And Jimin feels no guilt in accepting the arms that wrap around him, holding him close. Protectively.

Yoongi huffs out a laugh and starts the trek inside, going through the backdoor (presumably to hide Jimin in case of any anti-cat tenants) and Jimin feels something rise in his chest, a warmth that isn’t just because of the soothing energy around Yoongi, or the way he pulls out his phone and pretends he’s talking to someone on the other line while he’s actually talking quietly to Jimin.

The warmth, it’s more… it’s almost like-

He hiccups.

Yoongi startles and and a choked laugh spills from his lips, “you know kitty, people get hiccups when someone is thinking about them. Maybe there’s another cat out there thinking of you right now.”

Jimin hopes to whatever deity exists that that’s not the case. Another cat anyways.

"You are the least dangerous 'creature of night' I've ever heard of, to be quite honest. The hiccupping isn’t helping your evil omen aura." Yoongi mutters, leaning at an angle so that Jimin doesn’t fall when he reaches into his pocket for his keys.

“And, aren’t black cats meant to be closely related to magic?”

Jimin tries not to tense, wandering where Yoongi’s going with the comment, trying to push down the nagging worry of whether or not Yoongi knows . All concerns are smashed thoroughly and totally however, when Yoongi pushes the door open and says in all seriousness, “the only thing I think you’re closely related to is trouble.”

And Jimin can’t protest.

Warm light fills the apartment, illuminating every corner and every surface, and Jimin is astounded at the organized chaos, which he hadn’t really noticed the first time round’.

Yoongi’s shoes are scattered by the door in a pile, and cables circle around the main room wall in an elaborate setup of instruments, recording equipment and lights. And though Yoongi doesn't seem the type to keep them, Jimin notices a few plants sitting on the windowsill, carefully placed so as not to drop from the apartment and several stories down in a horrific death.

“I'm not sure what cats eat, but I’ll see what I have…” Yoongi calls, voice distant and muffled from where a separate room that Jimin hadn’t seen him walk into, and he quickly runs after him.

“Ah, sorry it's so empty, I usually forget to refill it unless Jin or Namjoon remind me…” He explains embarrassedly, and Jimin is astounded at how bare it is. He needs to eat more!!

Yoongi scoops him up again, but this time places him on top of the microwave on the crowded counter. “Of course you wouldn't know who or what I'm talking about.”

Jimin wishes Yoongi knew.


***


Eventually, after searching through the small rooms of his apartment, Yoongi tracks down a stray packet or Ramyeon and cooks up the last of the chicken in his freezer, laying a few sliced strips on a plate for Jimin and eating the other pieces with his own food.

Jimin struggles not to protest and demand that Yoongi eat the chicken he’d given him, but he doesn’t know how well Yoongi would react if a stray cat started being stubborn and communicating his displeasure at a human's bad food habits.

And Jimin knows that his mother would be so disappointed in him, heck even his brother would be thoroughly disapproving at his manners (Taehyung would laugh, so would Jungkook).

But Yoongi isn’t a fool, he’d definitely notice if Jimin tried to slip the chicken back to him, he can’t risk this.

“I don’t know when you plan to leave this time kitty- and really you need a better name- but… stay for a bit while I work on a song?”

And Jimin can’t do anything but agree, and that’s how they end up in Yoongi’s makeshift studio (his bedroom) so late into the night that it’s morning, as Yoongi works on a song that Jimin assumes if for one of his classes.

“Damn it’s getting late, sorry.”

Yoongi rubs his hand over his face tiredly and sighs, wandering over to the window to close it when the air becomes too cold to be comfortable, not even casting a glance at his bed as he goes past and Jimin stares at him hard.

Yoongi notices.

“I sometimes have insomnia,” he says quietly, ruffling Jimin’s fur and then smoothing it down again. Comforting him, Jimin realises.

“Those nights are... probably when my songs are the saddest.”

It’s all he says, but Jimin sees a little more to it.

His songs may stem from sad stories or from sad starts, but listening to the piece that he’s stringing together now, he doesn’t think that they’re sad songs; they aren’t desperate, they don’t speak of broken hearts or dead dreams- no, they're of a totally different calibre.

Jimin hears the fight in the music, the conflict and struggle, and as he listens to the composition Yoongi’s working on, what he can hear the most strongly is that Yoongi’s trying to say ‘you have to keep going’.

And Jimin doesn’t doubt that it’s what’s in Yoongi’s heart, especially when he catches a swear and a startled laugh erupts from him, because that’s definitely Yoongi’s touch, and the brusque nature of it just seems to make the song more raw.

And, as if he’s been hypnotised, he watches the way Yoongi adds and takes out sections of the song with such fluidity that it’s like he’s carving out something that already existed, and just needed to be shown.

Jimin lets his head fall onto his paws, comfortable enough to lie flat on Yoongi’s desk, vulnerable in his own way as he watches Yoongi fiddle with the track, eyes focussed and deft fingers dancing over the keyboard, and he listens.  

If you feel like you’re going to crash then accelerate more, you idiot.

A few hours later Yoongi steps out to refill his glass of water, and when he comes back the only trace of Jimin is the warmth from his small body on the desk, and a blanket from his bed thrown haphazardly over the seat. Yoongi wraps himself in it and finds himself drifting off to sleep with more questions than answers about the strange cat. 

Chapter Text

Some days, it goes like this;

“Do you want it to be Instrumental?”

“No…?”

“what about a cover?”

“Um-”

“Lyrical?”

“Maybe? I’m not sure?”

Because while Yoongi and Jimin have no difficulty bouncing ideas for lyrics and themes at each other, actually deciding exactly where they want to start is proving difficult.

It’s like when you’re in primary school and your friend asks, ‘what do you want to do ’ and you say ‘I dunno, what do you want to do’, and for the next half hour you throw shoes around like it’s the most hilarious thing- because you’re too awkward to say what you want and your friend is in their own house and doesn’t know what you want to do- and it’s a mess.

However, on other less exhausting days, when they’re not straight out of their own classes or half asleep against the studio’s walls- but are instead sprawled out with notepads and headphones and laptops and books, researching beside each other and only breaking the silence to throw out ideas for where to begin with showcase preparations- it will go like this;

Hyung. What about Gangnam style.”

“Absolutely not.”

“Hobi and I once made a crazy dance version- it would be a wild performance?”

“Park Jimin, you better be kidding.”

Oppa Gangnam style.”

“If you ever say that again they won’t find the body.”

The former scenario happens the most in the earlier days of their showcase-partnership, while they’re still dancing around each other, unsure of how to act; and the latter starts happening more and more often as time progresses.

But today; it goes exactly like this.

Jimin pulls himself up, and pokes Yoongi’s thigh with his foot.

“How about… we do a merge? You compose the piece and…” he pauses, thinking back to the first night he’d spent watching Yoongi work on his music, thinking about what he could add. “And we combine rap and vocals and we perform to that?”

“Our own song?”

“Yeah.”

Yoongi purses his lips, eyebrows pulling together into a small considering frown, which Jimin can recognise easily at this point, having grown accustomed to Yoongi’s unconscious mannerisms with each night he stays a little longer in Yoongi’s apartment (falling a little deeper into his curiosity for Yoongi. Curiosity.)

And then Jimin mouths ‘what the fuck?!’, frantically rubbing his warm cheeks and pretending that he’s not blushing at the sight of Yoongi biting down on his bottom lip, deep in thought.

Finally, after a long, drawn out moment, he turns to Jimin and says, “you have a deal, Park Jimin. Our own song it is.”

Jimin sighs, heart beating frantically at how offensive Yoongi can be without meaning it. “O-okay.”

On autopilot, he flops down onto Yoongi’s lap, and he huffs out tiredly. “okay, our own song it is.”

And when Yoongi shifts and blinks in alarm, asking “what are you doing, Park Jimin?!” Jimin simply ignores him in favour of burrowing closer to his sweater clad figure, head resting against his thigh as he lets out a soft sigh. “L’me, just... rest a second. This is difficult.”

He isn’t talking about the showcase.

“Yoongi! Chim! Wha- oh. Ha! You’ve been caught by the tired, cuddly Mochi- have fun with that!” Hoseok chortles, prancing into the studio and sliding his sweaty back down the wall as he sits against it- and Namjoon and Jin fall down across from him.

Hoseok grins, leaning down to ruffle Jimin’s hair and Yoongi grumbles about stupid sun’s. Hoseok ignores him in favour of laughing, “Beware Yoongi, Chim is always like this during assessments and finals, he’s very affectionate when he’s stressed.”

“I didn’t notice.” Yoongi’s responds, sarcasm rolling off his tongue thickly and Jimin waves his hand in a vague expression of yeah, yeah, leave me alone.

“Yah, Hoseok,” Jin says, “you can’t whine about Jimin’s cuddling habits- Jimin’s affectionate and you’re literally an incarnation of the sun. The two of you are a perfect match.”

Hoseok makes a low, distressed noise in the back of his throat, contorting his face comically as if trying to communicate something to Jin, tilting his head ever so subtly in Jimin and Yoongi’s direction- but whatever he’s trying to communicate seems to go right over Jin’s head.

(Jin understands perfectly, but he’s a broad-shouldered-schemer, and nothing that Hoseok says will stop his meddling).

“Yeah well, I could say the same to you! You’re the guy who can literally convince melted butter to taste like bread.”

“It doesn’t work like that! And how does that even relate to the conversation?”

“Because you could just as easily make Jimin warm and energised by giving him your hocus-pocus-food.”

“Hocus Pocus?! Jung Hoseok you take that back right now!”

The two continue to bicker and Jimin grunts, nuzzling a little closer towards Yoongi’s stomach, instincts taking over.

Yoongi sighs, shucks off his coat and pulls out his phone, resting his arms on Jimin’s chest like a makeshift table, and what he says next is so quiet and serious that Jimin chokes. “Rest in peace all who piss off mama Jin.”

Yoongi’s lips twitch into a smile, and he doesn’t glance down to Jimin’s close-eyed grin, not at all.

“Anyways, seeing as we don’t know what makes Jimin so-” he pauses, looking for the right word, “special.”

“Just say that you don’t know what his ability is, Hoseok.”

Special. You’ve just gotta find a way to compromise when he gets exhausted.” Hoseok winks, looking over to Jimin, who’s settled comfortably under the weight of Yoongi’s arms. “After all, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

Jimin lets out a strangled yelp, and Yoongi flattens his hand across Jimin’s chest. Jin cuts in quickly.

“Actually, Yoongi, speaking of cats! I wanted to ask you something.”

They all look up.

“I brought some more food over last night-”

“Jin, I told you, you don't have to do that-”

“No shut up, I will- because you don't pay enough attention to your body, and I know you don't want to disappoint me or put me out of my way or anything ridiculous like that, especially when I come over and there’s more uneaten food than I should be comfortable with, but I’m older than you and you need to respect your elders and eat more than a cup of Ramyeon a day.” He says in a rush, shooting Yoongi a glare which makes the other duck his head with a small exasperated sigh.

“What I was going to say , is that I noticed your cupboard was actually pretty full, but with food that I didn't get for you… and... did you get a cat?”

Namjoon narrows his eyes and Yoongi shrugs, ears going the faintest shade of pink, and Hoseok looks particularly delighted.

Jimin stays perfectly still.

“Uh- I finished the food in my apartment. And about the cat... yes? No? Maybe? He's not mine, but he visits almost every night, so I bought some cat food, but he never really eats it.”

“Huh.”

For a moment, Jin seems to consider lecturing Yoongi about strange stray cats, or that maybe he’ll just nod and carry on with another topic.

But what he does instead, is muse out loud with the usual seriousness he would typically reserve for his job as vocal leader, that “most strays wouldn't be particularly picky- and by the sounds of it, you may be the only one feeding him if he hangs around each night.”

Then, he tilts his head to the side, and frowns, “maybe try and mix in some human food with the cat food? He might be more inclined to eat it then.”

Yoongi hums, considering.

“Well, he likes chicken… and... he loves Kimchi as well.”

“Kimchi and Chicken? And the Kimchi doesn’t make him sick?”

Yoongi nods a confirmation.  

Huh. Cats can eat a little bit of chicken if it's bland, but... I’ve never actually heard of a cat loving or being able to eat Kimchi.”

The moment stills, and Jimin feels a cold splash of dread- dread that oh god Jin can definitely figure things out from here- and he starts to panic.

He isn’t prepared to explain to Yoongi this whole situation yet, nor is he ready to tell three of his long time university friends that he can shift into a cat when he feels the urge to, and oh god, what if Yoongi hates him?

And Yoongi must notice the way Jimin’s muscles tense, the way his breath hitches in alarm, because he rubs his thumb along the exposed skin just below Jimin’s collarbone in gentle and comforting motion, and Jimin feels is a warm tenderness wash over him like a wave.

He releases the breath he hadn’t realised he was holding.

Unbeknownst to both of them, Jin catches the small exchange, and a knowing smile crosses his lips as he rolls his eyes and shakes his head a little.

“Maybe… Yoongi, this might be a weird question, but… are you sure the cat isn’t actually a hu-”

OW! Why did you kick me, Jimin?!”

“Sorry, Hobi! Um… muscle spasm?”

***

The studio doors close behind him with a heavy thud, and Jimin finds himself staring out into the grey afternoon, thoughts drifting back to Yoongi’s fingers- skimming across Jimin’s skin, warm to the touch and oh so gentle.

And he realises two things.

The first; despite him and Yoongi spending time together in the group as maybe-friends? Jimin hasn’t really developed much of a connection with Yoongi as a human, not yet anyways. They’re still on different wavelengths, and Yoongi has no idea that Jimin is a cat who likes to hang out at his house most nights- a cat that does his best to accompany the other through bouts of insomnia, who always makes sure he’s never too cold or hungry. Jimin knows Yoongi, but Yoongi doesn’t know Jimin, not fully.

And it’s a grim realisation, but not nearly as grim as what follows; earlier, Hoseok’s comment about Jimin getting cuddly when he’s tired or stressed was correct, but it’s more than that . Jimin’s cat form has bonded with Yoongi, and Yoongi must have bonded back, otherwise Jimin’s guard wouldn’t be so down with the other, otherwise Jimin wouldn’t be so drawn to him.

In the time that it’s taken for coffee to substitute for actual blood in the average uni student, he’s has grown horribly fond of Yoongi. (Read; he’s has stopped finding the slow steady beat of classes to be so horrible because he gets to work on the showcase with Yoongi, and he finds that the bone-deep exhaustion that comes with working into the early hours of the morning isn’t as painful when he knows that Yoongi will always welcome him in on those late nights (with offerings of horrid tasting food that’s actually meant for cats, but the thought is sweet)).

So with these two discoveries he reaches a conclusion. Or two. He’s torn between what his cat side wants and what his human side wants.

He thinks that perhaps figuring out a way to casually tell Yoongi might be a good idea- while his cat side votes very strongly that he continues, business as usual, and starts bonding more with Yoongi in his human form.

But he’s never told anyone but Jungkook and Taehyung and his family about his ability. And he doesn’t know if he should tell the others if he tells Yoongi. Maybe it’s okay to keep it a secret a little longer?

So his cat reasoning wins out.

And maybe his cat reasoning has been winning out all this time?

Earlier, when Jin had started asking questions, Jimin’s mind was screaming that none of them could find out that Jimin is a cat. And Jin was too close to figuring it out.

Jin is probably the one in their group with the quickest wit- because while Namjoon says wise things and questions the universe and asks questions that can make an entire room lapse into existential silence, he’s comparatively much more oblivious than his boyfriend (after all, it was Jin who walked up to Namjoon and confessed with a huge kiss in the middle of the courtyard, while Namjoon had blinked on in awe and immediately asked, ‘you like me?’ While incredibly-done Jin had said ‘I have since we were in high school but I’m glad you picked up on that- honestly you’re so busy being clever and worldly and wise and- and so damn, perfectly you, that you convinced yourself that I didn’t like you too. You fool.’) and kicking Hoseok was his only way to distract everyone and Jin long enough to change the topic.

Because, if he knows anything about Hoseok, it’s that he wouldn’t have gone down quietly. So a kick to the shins was a cruel but efficient method of aversion.

Jimin’s thinking on this when the door he was braced against (stupid - what a stupid place to stand, oh my god) is pulled open behind him, and he falls backwards into-

Into Yoongi. Again.

For his lethargic appearance, Yoongi’s quick, strong. And he catches Jimin in an awkward bear hug, arms circling Jimin’s waist before he can fall through the door or against the pavement. Jimin whines- distressed. Yoongi huffs out a laugh.

“You know- for a dance major you’re remarkably good at falling.”

And Jimin pouts.

Carefully, Yoongi helps Jimin to his feet, hands warm through Jimin’s shirt as he holds Jimin steady. And Jimin feels warmth burst across his body- comforted by Yoongi’s presence and nervous all at the same time.

They both move to lean against the wall of the building, the moment heating up between them. Jimin bites his lip and Yoongi mumbles something under his breath.

“What?”

“You... you can tell you’re a dancer.” Yoongi says, louder, and Jimin blinks curiously.

What?

“You can tell you’re a dancer.” He repeats, looking at Jimin with a small smirk, his voice strangely soft and amused. “You do this thing with your feet. It must be the habit of a dancer, you stand with your heels almost touching but your feet angled outwards.” He points down, and Jimin uncrosses his arms to get a better look. “Oh.”

He’s never noticed that before.

Yoongi huffs out a laugh, and reaches into the messenger bag hanging off of his shoulder, pulling out a bag of Shrimp Snacks and offering them to Jimin who gladly accepts the free food.

Jimin hums around the puffed cracker, letting it melt and burst in his mouth. He looks over to Yoongi, covering his mouth and asks, “I thought you hated Shrimp? Why are you eating these?”

Yoongi looks at him, confused. “How did you know that?”

Oh.

Jimin can’t very well explain that he’d noticed it during one of the nights he was at Yoongi’s house- had seen him scowl at an innocent bag of Shrimp Snacks that Jin had brought around (because Yoongi didn’t have the heart to let Jin know he didn’t like shrimp- especially after Jin always went to the effort of helping take care of yoongi. Even if Yoongi always paid Jin or helped out with little favours when he could to pay him back for his kindness).

“W-well we’ve been sharing the same campus table for months,” he explains nervously. “I’ve picked up a few things- like shrimp. You don’t like shrimp!”

Yoongi squints at him, scrutinises him from head to toe, as if the Bomber that Jimin threw over his long sleeve shirt earlier will answer whatever question he wants to ask- but must decide it’s not worth pursuing.

Jimin clears his throat and laughs nervously, not at all because of the weird look Yoongi is giving him. “How come you’re eating them, then?”

Yoongi turn beet red. “Well I- uh, I actually… I actually bought them because I know you like them.”

Jimin’s lips form an ‘o’ and they both look away, embarrassed. The air crackles with something they don’t acknowledge.

“Truthfully I don’t really care about eating.” Yoongi confides, quietly, watching as students slowly trickle out of the door next to them, heading for home or to wherever they’re going for the night.

“But I… it keeps Jin happy, and I know he puts a lot of effort into helping me out… I wish he wouldn’t though because I probably just upset him when I don’t eat all of what he gives me.”

Jimin runs a hand through his hair, thinking on what Yoongi just told him, and then he turns, startling the other.

“I care about you eating…” he says, skin prickling with the heat of Yoongi’s gaze on him.

“Sometimes pausing and making sure you’re okay in the moment is just as important as working to reach your future… you know? ”

Yoongi looks intently into Jimin’s eyes and and Jimin makes an embarrassed noise. Yoongi’s gaze seems to refocus itself, travelling to look from Jimin to something behind him, but his eyes are lost, gleaming with thoughts of something else.

Jimin lightly hits Yoongi on the shoulder, trying to pull him out of whatever thoughts he'd lost himself in. “Besides, your legs are dainty and we need you to be strong when we dance at the showcase.”

“Who said anything about me dancing, Park Jimin?” He scoffs and Jimin grins.

“Sorry but I’m officially a dance major, so you’re going to have to deal.”

Yoongi sighs but doesn’t look all that upset; Jimin gets a little bit lost in the smile that ghosts his lips.

“Just eat the shrimp things, Jimin.”

“Will do, Yoongi.” And the grin he cracks as he takes another bite is brighter than any smile Jimin can really remember giving.

They eat in a comfortable silence after that- much to Jimin’s amusement as Yoongi eats the snacks with a painful dedication- as if trying to prove something. And Jimin is so caught up in the ever-suffering expression on Yoongi’s face, the little eyebrow raise he sends Jimin’s way when he catches him staring, that he doesn’t realise what’s happening until he’s in the middle of it.

Jimin’s body seems to hum, weakly at first- a barely there tingle that seems like nothing more than an adrenaline spike- but slowly it grows, turning his body warm, molten.

Which... actually shouldn’t be happening.

He glances at Yoongi who's still suffering through each bite of Shrimp cracker- again, adorable but unhelpful- because Yoongi doesn’t seem to sense anything different, so Jimin assumes that it must just be him. But why?

And then it seems to snap in place.

Shifting randomly, while not a common occurrence, isn’t rare. He’s had to run out of several lectures because of an impending transformation, and the amount of times he’s accidentally changed while eating or performing- presumably from an overload of energy, though it’s never been confirmed- gives him an indication that this may be a similar situation…

It’s an alarming conclusion, that he’s shifting without actually intending to, and he doesn’t know where the excess energy has come from, just that it’s making its way through his bloodstream and he feels a soul deep shudder rock through his body.

He’s definitely shifting, but that realisation isn’t as dangerous as the one that follows; Yoongi is next to him, and if Jimin changes here…

So he runs.

Before Yoongi even has a chance to realise that he’s leaving, Jimin is across the courtyard, shouting a frantic excuse and tripping over his own stupid feet- bag left beside an alarmed Yoongi- who’s torn between staying or following, but quickly decides to do the the latter and snatches up Jimin’s bag, calling his name.

Once Jimin gets around the corner, he blanks out for a moment, and a strange nondescript light clouds his vision as his body shifts and snaps into place, four pawed feet hitting the pavement and light reflecting silver against midnight-black fur.

Yoongi follows around the corner shortly after, hair wild in front of his face, resting his hand on his knees and panting.

He just misses the blur of black as it disappears from sight- too focussed on the fact that there’s no Jimin in sight.

 

Chapter Text

The front door opens with a slam, the walls shudder with the impact, and what travels through the apartment is the voices of two very annoyed roommates.

Jimin.”

Well, shit.

Jimin’s eyes snap to his open bedroom door, and he quickly sinks into the stack of pillows he’s propped up against- delusionally hopeful that they’ll hide his presence- and silences his phone in a split second attempt to avoid Taehyung and Jungkook’s efforts at tracking him. But it's too late, he knows that they know he's there.

“Jimin! We heard something very interesting today.”

Ahhh. Double shit. He knows that tone- it’s Taehyung’s ‘you better give me the information I need or shit’s going down’ tone; it’s the, ‘I’ve been betrayed but it’s okay because I’ve found out something very interesting’.

Jimin hasn’t been on the receiving end of that tone since he was much younger and Taehyung thought he’d been replaced by a girl named Wheein, who Jimin had offered Taehyung’s normal seat to during an art class that Taehyung was going to be away from. The next day saw Taehyung charging at Jimin with the intent to lecture him, an apologetic Wheein, and at lunchtime Wheein and Jimin were married under the plum tree down the side of the building even though the both of them had tried very hard to explain to Taehyung that that was not what was happening.

So, long story short; Taehyung either knows something or thinks he does and that makes Jimin very afraid.

When two shadows appear down the hallway, Jimin surrenders whatever other plans or excuses he had for dealing with the two, and decides to make a run for it- and with unfairly perfect timing, the two turn into the room right at the moment Jimin rolls over and makes to leap from the bed.

Taehyung stands with his arms crossed over his chest, and Jungkook beams with a gleeful smirk.

“Jimin.”

He’s off the bed in the space of a second, and hits the floor with four paws.

“Nice try, Jimin but neither cat-cuteness or stealth will save you now.”

Jungkook shuts the door and Taehyung lunges, rolling under the bed and making a grab at Jimin’s (for once, thankfully small) body. And here’s the thing, Taehyung isn’t of a stocky build but he’s still tall- and has long arms and legs that Jimin doesn’t stand a chance against, especially when they’re tussling under his single bed- Taehyung making swipes at him while his only defense is to make himself a little smaller.

As they scuffle, he sort of wonders if this is something that Taehyung was prepared for- if at some point he'd gotten under Jimin's bed and strategically placed Jimin's shoes and dancing bags- knowing that Jimin would use his ability to escape under there one day.

And it must be the case because when Taehyung catches Jimin, it's with a firm hand and a conveniently placed box that Jimin keeps his old school records in.

Then like hot-goddamn-potato, Taehyung passes Jimin straight over to Jungkook, who firmly pulls him to his chest.

“So, Jimin.” Taehyung says, leaning down to level his gaze on Jimin as he struggles in Jungkook’s arms, and Jimin lets out a whine hoping they’ll take pity on him.

Unsurprisingly, they do not. Instead, Taehyung narrows his eyes and smiles.

“We were eating lunch today, after doing some showcase work with Hobi, and guess who happened to pass us by?”

Jimin looks pointedly away.

“Mhm, that’s right!” Taehyung cackles, eyes shining with wicked amusement.

He’s been sprung.

“Who should pass by, but your partner! What a coincidence it was too- you know, considering that Yoongi never comes by the dance studio unless one of the Hyung’s forced him out for some food, or more recently, unless he’s looking for you.”

“But none of that is really interesting- what is, is what Yoongi asked us.”

Dread builds up in his gut and he tries to burrow his way out of Jungkook’s hold, scratching at the black fabric of his hoodie until Jungkook pulls him up by the scruff of his neck with an annoyed huff, and says, “dude, don’t scratch this hoodie, it’s expensive.”

Jimin lets out a whine and Taehyung pauses in his distant muttering to look over at Jungkook, face blank. “That is a plain black hoodie.”

“Your slippers have aliens on them.”

“They make a statement!”

“So does this, Taehyung!”

Um, hello?! Jimin thinks as loudly as he can and the two stop squabbling, gazes reluctantly moving from each other as Jimin swings his paws in the air, attempting to grab hold of something.

And, like they’re only just remembering why they’re there, Jungkook gently moves Jimin into a more secure position and Taehyung’s expression snaps back to a judgy one.

“So, Jimin, care to tell us why Yoongi was running around looking for you?”

Nope.

Taehyung nods. “Don’t forget that I have incredibly good spidey-senses.”

Jungkook scoffs, and repositions Jimin in his arms when he starts trying to escape again.

“You can literally read minds, Taehyung.”

“Only people I know well!”

“Which is Jimin and I, so in this situation you don't need to make the distinction that you can't read strangers minds.”

Taehyung makes an angry sound and throws out an arm as if he’s going to punch Jungkook; however it drops just before making contact and his hand barely grazes Jungkook except for a gentle swipe of his shoulder as it falls. Jungkook’s following grin is a little wicked, a lot fond.

Jimin watches on, and thinks, not for the first time that they compliment each other.

Where Jungkook is sensitive to other's emotions, Taehyung easily understands what people are thinking, especially if he knows them well. They're each others give and take; where Taehyung may say things out of left field that people don't expect, because he's responding to someone's random thoughts and trying to clear up his own- Jungkook can easily sense exactly how to comfort him, to connect and keep him grounded. And Taehyung will always know when Jungkook needs to be grounded as well.

Of course, given that they're so in tune with each other, they tend to be a brutal duo.

And though Jimin and Tae are partners in crime, best friends since second grade, two sides to the same coin, soulmates not destined to fall in love in this life- well, simply put, Jimin is usually on the receiving end of their shenanigans.

“Admittedly it took us a while to figure out what he was trying to ask us.” Jungkook comments, scratching his chin as if in deep thought.

“But when we did, we heard the weirdest thing.” Taehyung adds. “Kookie, you’re Yoongi, I’m both Hoseok and myself!”

“Why do I have to be Yoongi?”

“Because Yoongi babies you and won’t kill you if he finds out we did this.”

“...fine.”  

Jungkook takes a deep breath and coughs, presumably making his voice a bit deeper and raspier to match Yoongi’s. He seems calm, face blank and shoulders relaxed into something more lethargic, and Jimin is slightly impressed but not totally convinced. Not until-

Thank fuck.”

“Language, Kookie!”

I’m just repeating what Yoongi said,” he grins. Taehyung smacks him. “Have you seen him?”

“Seen who?”

“Jimin, that idiot, I don’t know where he went! He just disappeared last night.”

“What do you mean? Last night? What?” Taehyung gapes, dramatically clutching his chest and then stepping a foot to his left and pulling a Hoseok Expression™, wiggling his eyebrows.

Jungkook rolls his eyes at how passionately Taehyung is acting, and crosses his arms. “We were talking after working on the showcase, and that kid bolts all of a sudden, screaming about… bread?

Then, Jungkook swaps sides and stands next to Taehyung, and they both ask with the same wide eyes, “bread?”

“Yes. Have you seen him?”

“He didn't text you?”

“I wouldn't know… My phone's been broken for the last few days. We've never text before.”

And then Jungkook straightens and his eyebrows relax and he looks down at Jimin again with a grin that could frighten sunflowers.

“Change back, Jimbles.” Taehyung demands, falling onto Jimin's floor.

Jimin shakes his head slowly, attempting to look calm and unassuming and therefore pitiful enough that they may take it easy on him. Inside however, he’s the definition of that meme with the dog inside the house as it burns down, saying ‘this is fine’.

“Shift Jimin or I'll never buy you Pocky again.”

When Jimin shrugs, or does the best he can- because, again, he’s a cat - and doesn’t make any indication that he plans to shift any time soon, Taehyung sighs.

“Alright then- I'll have to up the consequences. I didn't want to have to do this but Jimin, remember what happened to those flowers that Jin bought for Na-

In the space of a second Jimin is human again and Jungkook, alarmed, suddenly has a very frazzled person in his arms. He proceeds to drop Jimin on his butt as quickly as possible.

“Ow!”

Which earns a snicker from Jungkook.

“So Jimin. Who is ‘bread’ and why do you keep ditching to see them?”

“Bread.” Jungkook enunciates, shaking his head in almost amazement and Jimin feels the need to pull his oversized dancing shirt tighter around his body.

He has a moment where he considers straight-out telling the truth, revealing his most recent secret to them and accepting the fact that he’ll spend the rest of his life suffering through teasing upon teasing and bread and cat jokes, more than what he'd usually get anyways.

He knows that the both of them will probably know immediately if he's lying though, so he opts to just… strategically not say anything?

“You’re funny. But that still isn’t going to work.”

“Yeah… well...”

“Whatever it is that you aren't telling us-” Taehyung’s playfully threatening gaze turns gentle, serious, and Jimin feels a pride well up in his chest, warm and blanketing as he listens to what his best friend says next.

“We’ll respect that you want to keep it quiet for now. But we’ll always meddle if it means you’ll end up happy.”

It's an overwhelming feeling, knowing that someone cares for you so deeply, loves you unconditionally, even if it isn't in the Romeo and Juliet way. It's the knowledge that they'll spam you at weird hours for when you wake up, that they’ll threaten to fight someone who upsets you.

“I’ll tell you, I promise… I’ll always tell you guys.”

“We know, Jimin. We are after all best friends for a reason.”

Taehyung gasps. “I thought I was your best friend, Kookie!”

“I was talking about all of us you dork.”

There’s a grin from Taehyung again, and Jimin rolls his eyes, because he’s glad beyond belief that the universe aligned for the three of them to meet.

“Now! Jimin you will go to meet Yoongi, and you will explain why your pretty little butt pulled a Cinderella.”

Then with more gusto than Jimin has ever seen Taehyung exhibit, he shoves Jimin’s glasses onto his face and grabs a coat from Jungkook, throwing that at Jimin for good measure.

“Go!”

 

***


Standing outside of the recording studio- an overwhelmingly large building with several wings to it- is twice as intimidating when Jimin is alone with no backup and possibly about to be murdered by the resident grumpy-cat student (ha) .

And considering that he’s never actually been in Yoongi’s studio before, it’s even more intimidating. 

He pushes open the doors tentatively reluctant to step any further into the composition wing of the building, because not only does he know how out of place he looks, but because he has literally no idea how to explain to Yoongi what happened and why he was screaming about bread.

What a situation, right?

He sighs, ruffles his hair, inhales deeply and pretends that he isn’t panicking as he navigates through the long hallways- hallways that feel entirely too short for Jimin.

The walls, he notices, are lined with the framed albums of alumni and award winning students. Some of the disks spin in their frames, the faster moving ones matching their quicker tempo music. And he watches in mute amazement as the album art dances silently to the beat of the songs they represent. It’s a touch of magic inspired by an English Author’s stories’- though Jimin can’t pronounce her name all that well- and it looks beautiful.

Above him, as he’s passing through the last of the hallways that another student pointed him down, he notices a sign in big glaring red characters, pointing him towards the composition studios.

He follows it. Hesitantly.

“Um… Yoongi?”

He pushes the door open gently and inside he hears the voices taper off.

“Hey!” He chokes out, fingers running through his hair in an attempt to make it look less like a birds nest. Yoongi raises his head, dark hair a mess of black covered in a red beanie, and as soon as he sees Jimin his expression hardens.

Jimin gulps.

“Hey Jimin! What are you doing here?” Jin calls back, and Jimin is so, so glad when he sees that Jin and Namjoon are also in the room, otherwise he would definitely be dead.

“Uh-”

“You better be here to give me an explanation, Park Jimin.”

Jimin nods, and Namjoon and Jin seem to think it best not to comment, turning to each other with questioning looks and then back to the computer.

“So where did you go?”

There’s a pregnant pause where Jimin can’t think of a reply, twists his hands in the fabric of his shirt and panics when he notices Yoongi’s eyes tracing the action. It’s almost suffocating, the tension that builds up like a fog between them, and Yoongi’s eyes keep narrowing, making it impossible for Jimin to act in any way that’s close to calm.

“I… um. Aish , hyung! I told you y-yesterday!” He tries.  

Yoongi narrows his eyes even further. “Bread?”

“Yes!”

“And what exactly did you mean by ‘bread’?”

What exactly does he mean by bread?

“Well you see... I meant exactly that? I had to check on some… bread.”

The expression that Jimin’s pulling seems to mirror itself on Yoongi’s face- a grimace perfectly mixed with intense second-hand embarrassment- and Jimin can’t blame him. What a mess.

He’s about to give up, let the anxiety in him burst and just run away, hoping to never have to try and explain it again, when Jin suddenly pipes up behind Yoongi.

“I can vouch for him, actually.” He says gently, but in a very ‘don’t-argue’ manner. “It was a part of an experiment I was running- and our Jimin is always wanting to help out his Hyungs, so he offered to do some stuff for me once you two finished in the studio.”

Jimin agrees, hesitant, sure that if he says anything more than a quick “right,” then whatever it is that Jin is doing will go up in smoke.

Yoongi turns to look from Jin to Jimin. “Why did you avoid me for so long after?”

“Actually that’s my fault too- the… uh? Magic thing that I do with food, it kind of made Jimin sick, I think it may have messed with his ability? I’m not quite sure, but he wasn’t all that well.”

The way Jin says it, totally sincere and with a tiny concerned crease in between his eyebrows, almost manages to convince Jimin that it’s true and all he can really respond with is an open mouthed gape. "Yeah.."

"Right! Well, we'll be leaving." 

"What-"

"Joon, we're leaving." 

"Yeah- yeah, okay." 

"Sorry Yoongi, you'll have to tell me about your cat another day." He jokes, and Yoongi scowls at him, violently jabbing him in the sensitive spot of flesh between his hips and ribs.

"I'm leaving! Relax, Yoongi!" 

While Namjoon and Yoongi bicker, Jin leans down to Jimin and says, “whatever secrets you have are safe with me.”

Then as he makes to leave, he ruffles Jimins hair and Jimin is forced to resist the urge to lean into what he knows is meant to be a comforting touch.

When the two close the door with a quiet click, Yoongi makes a noise. It’s a soft sound, like a sigh, but with a desperate whine to it as though Yoongi has a thousand and one things to say and doesn’t have any other way to say it.

So Jimin says it for him.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense. And I’m sorry- I didn’t mean to run out like that, or alarm you...”

He expects a curt response, maybe the tenseness to build up between them again like a wall shutting them off from each other, cutting off the tentative friendship they’ve built in the last few weeks; but instead, and unexpectedly, Yoongi clicks his tongue and waves a hand at Jimin dismissively.

And he doesn’t… know what to make of it?

“Um, I-”

“Relax, Park Jimin, I won’t bite your head off.”

“Right?”

“I just… it freaked me out, that’s for sure. Honestly despite your appearance, you’re the biggest pain in my ass since Hoseok.”

“Ah but no-one will ever believe that, hyung .”

“Shut up, brat.”

And Jimin does, but not without poking his tongue out cheekily and internally celebrating when Yoongi gives him a middle finger in response. It's a soft feeling that fills him after, fuzzy and warm like the softest firewood burning in his chest as he takes a seat by the computer desk, next to Yoongi. It's a feeling that he knows from all the nights spent wandering what Yoongi was thinking, what he felt. 

Maybe it's the feeling that Yoongi generally gives off- but maybe, maybe, it's the feeling that Yoongi gives to him. The warm energy that Yoongi seems to radiate off, maybe because of his powers but maybe also because of who he is. He's coldon the outside but a burning furnace of thoughts and feeligns and ideas inside, burning for anyone who is willing to listen. 

“You know... I wanted to ask the other day, but ‘bread’ got in the way.” And its gently endearing the way Yoongi scowls over the word bread, but Jimin can't place exactly why he feels so pleased with the action.

“We need to work more on the showcase… but studio work can only go so far. I figured maybe… Jimin do you want to go out with me to a carnival?”

“For…. Inspiration?”

“Yeah… Inspiration.”

“Okay.”

Chapter Text

When Jimin was younger, the old woman living next door would tell him this; ‘ Park Jimin, doom comes in three forms. The first, inevitable doom, the second self inflicted doom, and the third- a mix of both.’

Morbid- but to be fair she was one of those people who took joy in throwing people off like that- so Jimin didn’t think too much of it.

Each Thursday when he would stop by her house, clutching a second copy of the newspaper his parents asked him collect, she would ruffle his hair with the hand she hadn’t used to cut the Abalone that was always on her doorstep, and would offer him a new piece of advice. And until the day his family left- moving to a more central area of Busan- it was their Thursday routine.

Truthfully, Jimin never really thought too much on the vaguely prophetic tips she’d give him, especially given that he’d only been six at the time and that his main concern was Avenger figurines and beating TaeTae at hide and seek.

(And the fact that Jimin was able to fit in small places and Taehyung wasn’t allowed to use his ability when playing hide and seek, made the game both hilarious and frustrating- and Jimin often had to stop Taehyung from stealing someone else’s cat).

So on the last day he saw her, on the last day she would give him advice, there was one conversation that stood out to him particularly.

“See these shells?” She’d asked a teary-eyes Jimin.

“Y-yes, Jung Hee-halmeoni.”

She coos. “You’re so polite, Jimin-ah.”

Jimin had smiled shyly, wiping his eyes and ducking his head as she’d laughed; her eyes crinkling in amusement and laugh lines standing out.

“These shells, Jimin, were formed over many years, but they were doomed from the beginning. Do you know why, Jimin-ah?”

He shakes his head.

“They were formed to protect the animal that grew inside it, but eventually, crabs and Octopuses would need to eat the food inside, or humans would collect them to feed their families. It was an inevitable doom, you see?”

He nods, slowly, but doesn’t understand at all. And obviously in response to his confusion, she pats his head gently.

“Remember Jimin, inevitable doom is not always a bad doom. Inevitable means ‘something that is bound to happen’- and the other two dooms I told you about- they’re just different reasons that doom occurs.”

“Halmeoni…”

She hushes him and looks him in the eye.

“Jimin-ah, if you don’t understand anything else, understand this; doom comes in three forms, but they’re all a part of life, and being scared of those dooms will no more change their existence, than calling a shell a marshmallow and hoping that you won’t break your teeth trying to bite it.”

“You mean...?”

“What I mean is that one day little kitten, you might be faced with one of those dooms. And if you are, remember not to be scared, you won’t be alone.”

And with that said (and a strange side comment that orange would suit him very well) he’d bid her a tearful goodbye, and went on his way with both pockets full of Abalone, and a lingering promise that it would not be the last that they’d see each other.

Jimin hadn't particularly thought much of it since- hadn’t needed to. But somehow, many years later, amongst the group of people he’s come to consider family, and secrets piling up, he thinks that he’s finally arrived at that point of inevitable doom she warned him about.

In hindsight though, it seems odd that Taehyung was at the start of that inevitable doom.

Chapter Text

It’s a few weeks before the university break, a few days since the studio incident, and Jimin wakes with a jolt, hair sticking to his forehead and legs tangled in his sheets; memories of a dream fading as he becomes aware of a vague prickling sensation along his arms, alerting him to the fact that he isn’t alone in his room anymore.

“Taehyung,” he groans, barely coherent, kicking out a leg. “What d’you want?”

The air shifts, but otherwise everything is quiet, and groggily, Jimin opens his eyes, recoiling when the blinds shift and sunlight spills in- blinding him for a moment- but not before he spots a figure standing at the end of his bed like a tall awkward phantom. Jimin blinks expectantly, trying to focus, but without his glasses all he can make out is Taehyung’s favourite gaudy red sweater and striped pant combo. “Tae?” 

“I-” Taehyung rubs the back of his neck sheepishly and Jimin feels a little guilty for grumping at him.

“Tae… what’s goin’ on?” He mumbles and when Taehyung just keeps staring, asks, “-are you okay?”

Taehyung nods his head, waving his hands to reassure him, and Jimin sits up a little straighter, rubs the sleep out of his eyes and pulls his blanket up to his chest, waiting calmly for Taehyung to explain what it is that he's actually come in for.

“I… it’s just-” he starts, shifting his weight from one foot to the other in an anxious tick Jimin would recognize a mile away. He leans forward and strains his ears to understand Taehyung’s mumbling.

“Hoseok…” he starts, “he uh, text earlier. Apparently you’re filling in for him?”

Jimin closes his eyes and falls backwards, throwing his arm over his face to avoid the sunlight that insists on shining right in his eyes. “Well shit.”

With a groan he wonders whether or not he imagined setting his alarm last night, or whether it was just some sort of automatic memory from the nights before, bleeding together in his exhaustion. And with a sigh he thinks he hates that he’s just laying there, no real worry or concern that he's late, nothing except a small swell of guilt in his chest, and he stretches out, feeling a gentle burn in his muscles as he hums and then yawns. “Thank Tae Tae, I’ll get going.”

And despite still looking like he has something to say, Taehyung nods, rocking back on the balls of his feet and slipping out of the room, leaving Jimin to his own thoughts as he takes a few minutes to get functioning enough to get out of bed.

He closes his eyes, and an image flashes behind his eyelids. It’s unbidden and startling and Jimin tries to recall the last moments of the dream it came from- something about water and fireworks and a head of blonde hair- but the memories are really more concepts and they don’t connect together in anything resembling logic, so Jimin lets them go without too much worry, opening his eyes to stare at the mason-jar of dried flowers on his desk.

Out in the hallway, he can hear Taehyung shuffling around, spoon hitting bowl, something playing softly on the TV.

“Hobi.” He sighs. “Gotta help Hobi.”

Trying to make as little noise as he can, not knowing whether or not Jungkook has decided to use his morning off to rest of go to the gym, he rushes through a shower, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and letting the shock of the not-yet-warm water wake him up faster. Vaguely wondered as he washes down the soap suds, how he missed the three alarms he’d set last night.

When Jimin leaves the bathroom, towel slung over his shoulders, hair dripping fat droplets of water onto the floor; he looks at the clock in the wall, and has a moment of whiplash when he realises the hour hand is two hours behind the hour that he actually needs to leave.

The front door closes with a quiet click, Taehyung leaving for his class, and Jimin startles; which is the moment that Jungkook stumbles out of his bedroom, offering Jimin a tired raise of his eyebrows. “I thought you’d still be asleep?”

“Fucking-” Jimin groans. “Taehyung!”

 

~*~

 

“And five, six, seven, eight-

The song starts again and Jimin spins on his heel, facing the mirror and watching as the kids behind him frown and pull faces with and towards each other in the reflection. Quietly, Jimin thinks it's both hilarious and adorable and as long as they're keeping time and trying to land the correct steps, he's happy for them to keep going, and watches as Mijin, one of the smallest in the class and one of the newer boys, Eddie, playfully tap each other on the head she they spin.

“Don't forget to pick a spot to focus on when you spin, okay?” He calls, and right at that moment Jieun, his secret favourite, catches his eye in the mirror and sticks her tongue out as she does a passionate re-enactment of the body roll dance that both himself and Hoseok had made up at random while trying to demonstrate a wave technique to one of the students.

It’s both adorable but also very much not what they’re doing, and she sticks out immediately as the rest of the class follow his instructions, pick a spot on the opposite side of the room, and spin, and instead she starts waving her hands in a mock wave, ‘whipping’ backwards.

“Song Jieun,” he gasps, “we’re being poised and cool today-” and the class erupts into laughter when she grins cheekily at him.

Then, knowing perfectly well that she can get away with it, shouts “sorry Jimin sir!”

Jimin doubles over in laughter, pride at her improved english being overwhelmed by his amusement as she places a hand on her hip and juts the other one forward, holding out a peace sign.

“Jieun broke him,” someone cries, and then another voice calls out, “he can't breathe! Does anyone know the him- heim- hemlock maneuver?”

To this, Jimin can distinctly hear a student, probably Mijin, whine and argue that “that’s not it, we’d kill him extra if we gave him hemlock.”

Arguments break out and Eddie and Mijin, who Jimin is sure are now best friends, are at the center of the noise, meanwhile Jieun comes up to his side and pats his back with a miscalculated strength that forces him to brace his hands on his knees to stay standing.

“Okay- okay,” he grins, breath finally back, thanking Jieun who smiles brightly at him, and raises his voice in an effort to try and shush them. “I’m not dead, no one is dying, but we don’t want to make Hoseok’s mouth turn down like this-”

He makes an upside down ‘v’ shape with his hand, demonstrating the dreaded and feared look of disappointment that scares even him, earning a collective gasp and small, desperate no’s.

And Jimin hates playing that card, so throwing a quick look to the roof and hoping Hoseok won’t descend upon him and accuse him of spoiling the kids (which he himself is guilty of), he bargains “one more time doing that spin, and then we’ll play dead fish!”

There's a chorus of cheers, and with an enthusiastic skip in his step, Jimin makes his way over to his phone and rewinds their song by a few seconds more than needed, letting them get back in sync with each other.

“Okay, remember to pick a spot to look at, and one, two, three, spin!”

In a flurry of legs, outstretched arms and whip-like hair, Jimin watches as the class twirls collectively and land in almost complete sync except for a few stragglers- who much to his happiness, the group congratulate and cheer on proudly- and Jimin, starts clapping and whooping and screaming happily. “You did it!”

The students giggle at his enthusiasm, and he opens his mouth to announce the wind down activities as well as congratulate them again, overwhelmingly proud of the class who he considers to be as much his own as Hoseok’s with the amount of time he spends with then, when a voice calls from the door, “everyone’s doing so well!”

And Jimin is helpless against the crowd of children who barrel through him and over to greet Hoseok, broad smiles colouring their expressions.

“Guys, guys, I’m not the teacher today, Jimin is!” But it’s too little too late and they practically fall on him, jumping and buzzing and chattering with stories of a completed twirl or a perfectly connected wave. Hoseok raises his arms into the air like a man drowning.

Jimin laughs, and in that moment, much to his surprise, Taehyung comes to stand beside him- having snuck in after Hoseok- shuffling on his feet awkwardly as he offers Jimin a small smile, mumbles a cautious, “hey, Chim Chim.”

Jimin, still panting after the class, face flushed, sweat dripping down his neck and sticking his shirt to his back, takes one look at Taehyung’s half tilted smile, the anxious set of his shoulders... and whatever annoyance he was holding onto from that morning bleeds out of him, and he replies, “hi, Tae Tae.”

“I bought some food,” Taehyung whispers, and Jimin raises an eyebrow because yeah , he noticed the container filled bag that Taehyung raised in a quiet peace offering. “Wanna eat?”

With a nod, Jimin thinks that even if he’s being a pushover, not sticking to it when he’s annoyed, it’s worth it for Taehyung’s relieved grin when Jimin finds himself smiling back and saying “okay.”

Gathering his water bottle and phone, Jimin mutters a quick ‘gimme a sec’, swiping through his notifications quickly before pulling his towel from his bag and swinging it over his shoulder (quietly grinning to himself when Taehyung scrunches up his nose and pokes his tongue out at him in clear disgust).

Before he goes to sit next to Taehyung, he wanders over to stick his head out of the room, letting himself enjoy a few moments of the cool hallway air against his skin before shouting, “you all did amazing today!”

The lingering students wave and scream thank-you’s, much to Jimin’s delight, before scampering away after parents.

Hoseok turns his way and glowers as he watches Jimin edge back into the room and towards Taehyung, mouthing the word ‘traitor’, to which Jimin responds with a cheeky smile, finally falling next to Taehyung in the corner, and letting Hoseok get back to assuring some remaining parents that their children are absolutely learning quickly and making the most of their money, grimacing a little.

Taehyung shifts, and Jimin openly stares at him as he passes over a container of marinated chicken (an expensive peace offering); thinking this is it , Taehyung is going to explain what it is that’s going on, what’s gotten him so nervous and dancing on eggshells around his best friend.

He turns away to give Taehyung the time he needs to collect himself- or even if he doesn’t tell Jimin anything- gives him the space to get comfortable and relax a little around him.

Cautiously, Jimin takes a mouthful of chicken onto the plastic fork Taehyung had passed over, but quickly gets tired of it and switches them out for a pair of chopsticks sitting at the bottom of the bag.

In his peripheral, he realises that Taehyung has stopped shuffling, and watches as he sighs, dropping his hands into his lap; leaving Jimin confused as to why Taehyung looks so beaten and worried, because sure the annoyance at being woken up was there, but Jimin isn't furious or avoiding his best friend, just mildly irked, and he can think of some of their bigger fights that have easily been worse than this… Whatever it is.

“Jimin… I’m sorry for waking you up early,” he whispers, and Jimin shrugs, waving a dismissive hand in the air as he takes a slightly distracted bite of the meat, trying not to be overly conscious of a big meal after a workout, of Taehyung’s shaky breath.

“I wasn’t intending to- I mean, I needed to talk to you but- that is … I'm sorry, is all.” Taehyung stumbles, fiddling with the hem of his shirt, scratching at a stain, and Jimin frowns, gulping down.

“Kim Taehyung. If you weren't already sitting down, I'd tell you to get your butt on the floor and listen to me.” He grumbles out.

Eyes go comically wide, Taehyung closes his mouth and puts his hands in the air in surrender, and Jimin nods, satisfied, but still worried.

Okay. I was ready to hunt you down when I realised what time you woke me up, but...” he cuts himself off pausing for a moment, thinking back to that morning, the dream he was pulled from, the unsteadiness that had been in Taehyung’s posture, and finally he looks up, startled to find Taehyung’s intent stare on him. “But… truthfully I was more nervous about what you weren't telling me.”

And Taehyung looks guilty again, making Jimin shake his head, spinning around so that he’s facing his best friend more directly.

Tae,” he calls, resting his hands on Taehyung’s thighs and pinching him gently. “You don't have to tell me everything- or anything for that matter- I don't expect you to. Also, I’m not angry, you big dummy.”

And finally, Taehyung smiles, the words settling between them, hanging in the air as they sit together, clock ticking on the wall innocuously, the sound of laughter and small voices fading further down the hallway. Jimin shifts and pulls his hands away in embarrassment, coughing as Taehyung lets his head fall back against the wall, looking up at the ceiling as he huffs out a soft laugh much to Jimin’s own relief.

“Jimin, actually I-” Taehyung starts, pausing to let Jimin shuffle back against the cool brick next to him. “I just… I just wanted to know whether you and Yoongi… has something happened between you two?”

Taken aback, not expecting Taehyung to say much more about what he’d been thinking that morning, Jimin looks up at Taehyung with wide, confused eyes. “What?”

Taehyung’s eyebrows pull into an intense line and he scooches close, searching for something, holding Jimin’s gaze in a way that has Jimin a little lost, because Taehyung is trying to figure something out from him, trying to disarm him.

He takes offense that it does work ever so slightly.

“Chim, is this who bread is? Is Yoongi what’s been happening with you?”

Jimin’s heart stalls for a moment and he rolls his eyes, kicks his leg out in Taehyung’s direction half-heartedly, trying to ease the tension that’s building, thick and cloying in the air between them (or maybe he’s imagining it). “Nothing happened, what’s come over you?”

Surprisingly, Taehyung stays quiet, watching calmly as Jimin twitches under his gaze and looks down at his phone to check his notifications again, waiting for the message that he’s been hoping might arrive for days.

There’s nothing there and Jimin flinches when Taehyung opens his mouth to speak before closing it again and continuing to just watch , as Jimin takes another bite of their quickly cooling meal, and flicks through his other notifications, disappointed and distantly wondering if he just imagined the invitation to the festival all together.

Taehyung sighs again, and Jimin drops his hand to rest on his leg. “Tae- seriously what’s-”

“What do you think of Yoongi?”

Mouth falling open, Jimin thinks of all of the millions of answers he could use, the questions he could ask Taehyung in response to figure out what on earth he’s thinking; all of those things are ready on his lips, but instead he turns to the floor and ignores Taehyung’s question altogether.

“Yoongi seems to think he can make something of some humming I was doing last night. We’ll start to work on lyrics to match-”

“Min, come on, stop this.”

“Stop what-” Jimin snaps, eyebrows furrowing.

“You know exactly what, Jimin. This-” he waves his hand in an all encompassing gesture, “this hiding. You’re hiding.”

Jimin scoffs, “I don't hide.”

“Yes you do-” stumbling to his feet, Jimin shakes his head again, Taehyung’s eyes sad as he watches him.“ Park Jimin, you do.”

Defensive and a frustrated, Jimin turns away from him, becoming even more upset because he knows that whatever point Taehyung is trying to make, he’s proving him right.

“Leave me alone,” he bites out. “I'm not hiding from anything, Taehyung.”

Taehyung doesn't leave it alone, he grabs Jimin by the arm as he goes to stand up, expression desperate and concerned and Jimin feels his grip loosen, and he wants to hate that Taehyung is still trying to make him feel like he isn't cornered, even now.

“Just… don't pull a Jimin with this one. Don't run away- don't hide behind a mask because you’re scared that you aren't enough.”

You are enough.” He whispers, and Jimin bites down hard on his tongue, can taste the iron tang of blood. “You always are.”

Blindly pulling out of Taehyung’s grip, Jimin fights the urge to cover himself, feeling stripped bare by how well Taehyung knows him by now; and as he comes to a rest, standing still a few feet away from his best friend, he nods, tersely, stumbles over a weak but sarcastic ‘thanks’.

Taehyung gives him a pointed look, and he deflates. “I won't run away, I promise.”

Shoulders sagging and back pressing against the wall, Taehyung lets out a gentle, relieved breath and mumbles ‘stubborn with a big heart’, and goes back to eating as if nothing particular has happened at all.

In their silence, Jimin’s phone lights up with a notification.

Min Yoongi (12:13pm)

Tonight?

~*~

 

Kook,” Taehyung cries out weakly, “I can't, no more- I can't do it.”

Jimin pauses in the hallway, jumping in shock and heartrate spiking in his chest as he strains his ears to listen to what sounds like his two roommates falling together, surprised to pick up the soft thud of their bodies hitting each other.

“We’re almost done baby, just a little longer- I’m almost there-”

Taehyung whines, a desperate edge to his voice, his following groan echoing through the apartment. “I know you’re desperate, Kook, but I really, really can't keep up, I just want to sleep. I don't have enough energy to hours of this-”

Stepping through the kitchen with tentative footfalls, Jimin carefully pulls his arms through his jacket, peeking around the corner and letting out a breath of air as he sees them sitting in each others laps, game controllers in hand as the overwatch menu plays as background music to the sound of their quiet arguing.

Jimin bites his lip, quietly relieved that he isn't met with a very different sight, but also beyond exhausted because this is the third time that week he’s walked in on them having a similar argument, the pair almost glued to each other and words laced with very different meanings.

Idly, he wanders how they do it, how they’re so close to each other but stuck in a constant state of flux, emotions shifting and changing as they dance around each other, yet somehow, staying so in sync and matched to one another.

They're oblivious, that’s what they are; from in the loungeroom he sees Taehyung clasp his hands together, falling to the floor and begging for Jungkook to let him rest and Jungkook rolls his eyes before saving their progress and switching the TV off, kicking Taehyung gently with his sock clad foot.

With a sigh, Jimin picks up his phone from the counter where he’d left it so he could get changed, double checking he has no new messages from Yoongi- hasn't missed anything in the hour or so that he’d left it.

“Nothing.” He hums, unsurprised, but also unperturbed, knowing that Yoongi’s tendency to shy away from long text conversations since they'd started talking- their brief text exchanges becoming more natural, casual between each other- isn't because he’s disinterested or annoyed, just a little nervous.

“Guys- I'm heading off.” He announces, checking his reflection one more time and pulling a tuft of hair out of his eye, suddenly wondering if he should start over on his whole look, eyeing the embroidered flowers on his jacket, the beads that shine just-so in the light as he moves, anxious that he’s overdressed himself, before puffing out his cheeks and shaking his head.

No, this is good, he thinks.

Making his way to the front door, he checks to see if he has everything he needs, patting down his pockets to find his wallet and double check his phone is in his jacket, before passing through the living room and toward the front door.

“Wait!”

Jimin, alarmed, stops. With his hand hovering halfway to the handle, he wonders why on earth he thought it was going to be easy.

“Jimin- Chim Chim-” Taehyung corrects, voice light and curious, “where are you going?

Jimin distantly remembers the day before, Taehyung’s questions ringing in his ears, and he has a brief fit of panic where he spins around and almost blurts something (tragically) related to bread, barely catching himself in time and snapping his mouth shut, his hand dropping to his side as he quickly searches for any excuse at all to not have to tell them the truth.

So he laughs and diverts, “nowhere really, did you need something?”

It doesn't fly.

“Jimin… don't act dumb. Where are are you going?”

Yeah okay, plan B. Act casual.

“Just… um… a festival... Yoongi and I are doing some research for our performance.”

He cringes, twisting the ring around his thumb, wondering how in his right mind that was casual, and Taehyung’s eyes narrow.

“Oh really? Tell me more, the one in town tonight?”

Jimin squirms, which has nothing to do with the way Taehyung’s eyes are shining with clear interest, or the almost smug- but not-quite-smug, because Taehyung doesn’t do smugness- smirk that curls at his lips.

“Jimin, you know how you're a cat-”

“I had no idea, really.” Jimin cuts in, and Taehyung, clearly unimpressed, exchanges a look with an amused Jungkook.

“Well, you do this thing where you act like you're stretching- particularly when you’re nervous or trying to get out of something- and as you ‘stretch’ you slowly creep away from whatever it is.”

Jimin falters for a moment, consciously straightening his back and trying to stand normally, as he asks, “whatever do you mean?”

Taehyung’s expression becomes incredulous and he points, “you literally just moved two meters towards the door by lunging really slowly.”

“Taehyung!” He shouts, voice strained with embarrassment. “That’s not true-”

But Taehyung turns back to face Jungkook, winking outrageously as he sing-songs, “I believe you!”

Jimin opens his mouth to defend himself, very aware that he’s on uneven ground with his best friend, when he notices Taehyung burrowing closer to Jungkook.

And he realizes that the younger isn't planning to press the issue further; especially when he waves over his shoulder, telling Jimin in a soft voice to enjoy himself, to not run, before closing his eyes letting out a soft sigh.

 

~*~

 

“Yoongi! Ohmyg -” Jimin chokes out, leaning over to cough, trying and catch his breath while simultaneously trying to keep his lungs inside of his body as he’s stood at the mouth of the festival street, fairy lights strung alongside power lines above him, people milling about without much concern for his wheezing and spluttering.

“I’m sorry I’m so late, uber- kept talking about American politics, you shouldn't-” he pauses to wheeze, “don’t lie about what you’re studying to avoid identity theft or whatever, it doesn’t work-

From where he’s bent over, head down towards the pavement, he sees a pair of boot clad feet enter his line of sight, and Yoongi letting out a soft, breathy snort, hands fluttering awkwardly as though he’s trying to figure out whether to pat Jimin’s back or support him so that he doesn’t fall.

Jimin feels his face going red in embarrassment. “I’m so sorry, I hope you haven't been waiting too long.”

Almost shyly, Yoongi starts mumbling a reassurance, but Jimin can barely hear more than the low timbre of his voice as he quietly says “no don’t worry, you don’t have to apologise-” and then his words are overcome by the sound of blood rushing past Jimin’s ears, his heart thudding forcefully against his chest as he catches his breath.

Almost unabashed, Jimin takes a moment to peek up through his lashes at Yoongi, and finds his mouth going dry as he takes in what he’s wearing. It’s casual, simple, and perfectly Yoongi, a red checked shirt over top of a black tee- and it’s one of those shirts that you can tell is loved, the colour faded with so many washes, stitching coming loose at the hem, the threadbare cotton worn so thin that there’s a hole, just above Yoongi’s collarbone- but Jimin thinks it looks comfortable, loved.

Soft laughter breaks him from his thoughts, and he shudders, pulling himself up to his full height, running a hand through his hair and fanning his face in embarrassment. "What's up?" 

Yoongi hums, a soft smile curling at his lips.

“Just, ah-  give me a second,” Yoongi says, and suddenly leans in, plucks the glasses off Jimin’s face, and it leaves Jimin very startled and very pink, not completely able to see.

“W-what are you doing?” He stammers out, and is met with total silence, the blur that is the man next to him, barely shifting as he squints at him and tries to make anything out through the dim light of the festival street. “Yoongi?”

With a quick look in his direction, clearly telling him to be quiet for one goddamn second, Yoongi goes back to focussing on the black frames.

“Yoongi, what are yo-”

“Hush for a moment, Park Jimin. Just… wait.”

And Jimin isn't the type to be particularly patient, but he isn't impatient either, so he huffs out a dramatic sigh and shoves his hands in his pockets, watching as deft fingers fiddle with the lenses.

“Done.”

Then the frames are being pushed back onto his face, Yoongi standing right up close to him, breath fanning on his nose as he frowns and tries his best not to get the arms caught on Jimin’s ear, making sure he doesn’t poke Jimin’s face with them. Jimin feels his cheeks go warm and he looks down to the ground, eyes trailing to a part where a building wall meets the street pavement, watching as ants march one by one around the stem of the flower there; perfectly choreographed, following each other without colliding.

Yoongi steps back.

“There was dirt.” He says simply, sniffing as if nothing unusual had happened whatsoever, leaving Jimin to stare dumbly and wonder how they always seems to be broaching intimate territory with each other, even though they’ve only really known one another for a few months.

Then, in the space of a second Yoongi steps forward again, startling Jimin as he reaches over to run his hand through Jimin’s hair, huffing out a soft laugh. “Your hair is also a mess.”

Jimin balks, and puts both his hands on his head defensively, shouting, “you literally just made it worse.”

“Nothing could make you look worse.

And then with a scoff, and in a show of re-adjusting his jacket, Jimin elbows Yoongi in the ribs.

Hard.

“What the- Park Jimin, you little shit!” Yoongi splutters and Jimin jumps away quickly, laughing at the frazzled expression drawn over Yoongi’s face.

He looks adorable in a way, Jimin notes. Scowling weakly and groaning like he’s been gravely injured- and truthfully, Jimin is a little worried that he hit harder than intended- but when Yoongi huffs at Jimin, he can tell that he was just being playful.

“You know, Yoongi-” he calls, amused, ignoring the half-hearted glare squared right on him, “you should stop calling me that. It’s just Jimin.”

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “I didn’t know that we were on friendly enough terms for me to call you that.”

The look that Jimin gives him in return is completely incredulous, withering. “Min Yoongi, we’re hanging out together at a festival. having a good time might I add, you just stole and then cleaned my glasses for me, really carefully, we’re part of the same group of friends, and not to mention that we’re working on a year long project together-”

And then Jimin gets shy again, outburst over as he mumbles, “I’d call us friends.”

Yoongi at least has the decency to look embarrassed after that.

“Right-” Yoongi looks away, ears red as he mutters what Jimin interprets as something about Jimin bring surprisingly scary.

Jimin, certain that the message has gotten across, sidles up to Yoongi’s side again, tugging at his arm to get him to look at him- and Yoongi does- eyes shining with amusement as Jimin ducks his head and with the perfect image of calm, pulls at the hem of his sweater. “Why do you always call me my full name anyways?”

Silence creeps between them for a long moment, and Jimin’s fingers come to scratch the back of his neck awkwardly, Yoongi’s expression thoughtful and gaze on the ground.

Eventually, Yoongi hums, and with a soft voice, dodges Jimin’s question and asks his own; “you want me to call you just Jimin?”

“Y-yeah. Yeah, I’d like that.”

A grin spreads across Yoongi’s face then, and Jimin finds himself letting out a nervous huff, stomach doing somersaults as Yoongi shoves his hands in his pocket and smirks.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to do that, Jiminie.”

All kill. K.O. Jimin is down and dead and Yoongi, though silent, lets the glint in his eyes speak for the fact that he knows exactly how flustered or just plain frustrated Jimin is.

“You're an asshole.” He says, puffing his cheeks and blowing out an annoyed breath of air.

“Only for you, Jiminie.”

And Jimin won’t grace that with a response, so instead he rolls his eyes and shoves his hands into his pockets, willing his thoughts away from Yoongi’s stupid smile and stupid laughter and stupid grin as he rushes forward a few steps and pretends to be very interested in the coloured cloth and painted stones at one of the festival stalls.

“I was thinking we could look at the food stores first, see if any of the tender’s might have some good stories we can take inspiration from?”

Jimin stops in his tracks and looks at Yoongi suspiciously.

“You-” he gasps, mouth opening and closing like a shocked fish before he puts a hand to his chest and and looks at the sky. “You just want food- I knew this was a trick- you tricked me! You never intended us to get showcase ideas- only food!”

And the way Jimin says it, all aghast and dramatic, leaves Yoongi dumbfounded next to him, almost embarrassed by Jimin’s antics.

Jimin blushes, hiding his face as a few of the passerby's giggle at him.

“I mean-” he coughs, “food is good. The stall owners might have some great stories. Stories are good.”

Jimin wants the earth to swallow him whole, wishing that he could take back the sudden outburst and maybe have Jungkook and Taehyung appear out of nowhere and aid him in escaping with some wild excuse that ‘our Jimin here ate one of our science experiments by accident, please ignore him’.

But although that doesn’t happen- and sadly probably never would because his friends would probably just stand there and laugh- Yoongi shocks him enough with his next comment, that Jimin’s embarrassment fades completely.

“I don’t intend to trick people. I just know what it’s like to live in this cruel world.”

And oh. Jimin grins and plays along.

“Hoseok told me that once, you got up and left right before everyone had to pack up dinner. I’d say that’s true trickery.”

“It’s called using the system to your advantage! Also Hoseok is a wholehearted liar.”

“Wow what a childish insult, has the great Yoongi lost his touch?”

With no heat, just amusement, Yoongi replies, “you damn brat.”

Jimin laughs, not shocked but not having expected Yoongi to joke with him so easily either. When he looks back up, gazing through his eyelashes as he keeps his face warm in his scarf, he notices Yoongi’s soft smile, and thinks that it suits him, thay happiness suits Min Yoongi and he hopes he can find it as much as possible.

“Food?” Yoongi asks, voice barely a whisper, and Jimin smiles, gesturing for him to lead the way.

With no real rush- the streets still gathering the crowd, sun just set below the cities horizon- they walk down the street comfortably.

Jimin’s hair moves around gently as the breeze changes directions, but all in all he finds himself at ease next to Yoongi, happy and unbothered even as they pass mini firework displays that dance and crackle and snap in the cool night air. Usually the dancing sparks would alarm him (most often when he’s smaller, and the sparks look closer to explosions right in front of him, than they do small flames) but on most days they draw his attention in and he finds himself staring at them amazed.

His attention is always caught by the light as it dances,the fizzing golden sparks that fly off from sprinklers and the exploding powder, spinning and twisting and moving like a body as it moves through the air, like the stars he would see in movies as a child

(Besides, his cat disposition is a fan of the warmth).

“You’re really interested in the world, you know? Like, it’s like you're seeing it for the first time.” Yoongi muses, and Jimin turns to him with a smile.

And so it goes; Jimin barely keeping himself in check with all of the lights and different stalls of flying paper cranes and swans, occasionally buying a snack as they pass by some of the particularly strong smelling skewer stands, and more often than reasonable, Jimin finds himself being jostled into Yoongi by passing strangers. At one point they even sidetrack into a woman’s tent stall, where she pulls what Jimin recognises as tarot cards from her pocket, and playfully reads their futures.

Then, at the point of the night where the moon is sitting right above them, her silver gaze blurred by city smog, Yoongi spots someone he knows at one of the stalls, and a streak of colour passes Jimin in his peripheral vision.

He spins around.

Curious, Jimin watches as the flash of colour dances around by the edge of the road; it’s a shape, but not very clear when he focuses on it, and it’s made of wispy colours that move around it like smoke.

And then it dances away in the other direction.

“Yoongi- I’ll be back!” He calls, and when he sees Yoongi is distracted, pulls out his phone and sends a quick text to him, disappearing through the crowd.

Jimin moves quickly past the rows of stalls, manoeuvring through couples walking hand in hand and the other festival-goers who stop to study the food or trinkets on sale. It doesn’t particularly bother him, but it also doesn’t help him to get where he needs to be- following the streak of colour as it turns another corner, down an alley marked by a yellow cart.

And then blinks out light it never existed in the first place.

“Hello there-” someone purrs, and Jimin startles, looking up to see a figure standing just out of reach other light from the main road, lurking under the cover of shadows, only the burning end of a cigarette casting a sickly orange glow on his chin.

He laughs, and it’s deep and croaky and Jimin can feel goosebumps crawl along his arms. “Seems like someone caught the bait.”

Jimin falters. And with a sinking, angry feeling in the pit of his stomach, thinks, damn cats.

Metaphorical hackles raising, Jimin straightens to his full height, attempting to give of a more threatening aura. He’s aware that the man across from him is almost entirely muscle, but not willing to let himself be intimidated, he pulls his shoulders back and asks with probably too much bite, “who are you?”

There it is again, that laugh, patronising and cooing and making Jimin want to gag. “No need to be so defensive, you sweet little thing- I just wanted to see if anyone would be interested in my light show.”

Then, he flicks his cigarette to the ground and snuffs it out with his shoe, before clicking his fingers and sparking another ball of light to life in his hands. Jimin steps back, cautiously.

“Right- uh,” he gestures behind him to the main street, “I have to be going.”

“Meeting someone?”

“Yes.”

It’s a short answer, but Jimin is sure that it gets the message across that he isn’t interested, and he starts stepping backwards, not letting his back be exposed.

Unfortunately it doesn’t help, because in the blink of an eye, the man lunges forward and grasps the sleeve of Jimin’s jacket, pulling him to a stop.

“Get-” he cries, “fucking let go of me!”

“Don’t play like that, I just want to talk-”

“Seriously let go or I’ll scream.”

There’s a glint in the man’s eyes and he steps even closer, gripping Jimin’s sleeve tighter with his meaty hand, preventing Jimin from having much movement as he pulls.

“Let go!”

“I just want to talk with yo-”

Quick footsteps echo behind Jimin and his heart stops for a moment, panic swelling. He tries to pull away again, the man’s breath is suffocating, heady with chemicals and smoke and something bitter and rank to Jimin’s senses. “I don't want to be here- let me go.”

And as desperate tears start welling in his eyes, something hits the man hard, the soft thwack of skin meeting skin echoing through the alleyway, and Jimin finds the hand torn away from his wrist; another hand- smaller and more careful- coming to gently hold him by the waist as he stumbles back. “He told you to leave him alone, so back off.”

Yoongi’s voice is low and threatening and the man looks a little unsure for a moment.

But only for a moment.

Then he smirks and takes a step closer to the both of them and subconsciously, despite the anger flaring in him, the disbelief, Jimin finds himself shrinking backwards into the protective hold Yoongi has on him.

“And you are?” The man scoffs, “his boyfriend?”

“What does it matter to you- back off.”

And this clearly isn't what the guy wants to hear, because his posture changes on approach this time- deceivingly relaxed but the threat is much more obvious.

“C’mon-” He reaches out to grasp Jimin's shoulder, appealing to Jimin in a voice molasses thick with amusement, “c’mon, cutie, your eyes are asking for some fun-”

Yoongi pulls Jimin closer. “Back the hell off or you're the one asking for what happens next.”

“Not likely you fu-”

And like a switch has been flipped, the man's legs wobble aggressively under him and he goes face first to the ground with a heavy thud, face grazing against the asphalt, causing Jimin to grimace, but mostly feel a swell of vindication.

Yoongi huffs, and with a voice low, nearly growling, says, “it's not permanent, but you'll be weak for at least a week, have fun eating your weight in sugar, asshole.”

And then Yoongi ushers Jimin away, arm still wrapped around his waist, but with a tighter grip, as if he’s actually afraid that Jimin will slip away at any moment.

He won't.

“Here-” Yoongi finally whispers, stopping them in their track and pulling Jimin behind two tightly packed stalls, leaving them mostly out of sight from anyone passing by.

Jimin feels the adrenaline rush ease a little, feeling his legs wobble.

“Yoongi, I- you got my text… shit, I’m-” Jimin closes his eyes and will panicked tears away, missing the confusion that comes over Yoongi’s expression; ears ringing as Yoongi pulls him into his chest and wraps his arms around him in a hug, holding Jimin with vice-like strength.

Yoongi’s hand comes around his back, trails up to his neck and gently cradles his head, and he whispers, “don't you dare say sorry for that, you weren't in the wrong, you did nothing to deserve running into him.”

Jimin smiles, and he presses his face closer into the crook of Yoongi’s neck, breath evening out as Yoongi holds him tightly. “I'm okay. I'm okay, Yoongi.”

Yoongi lets out a small breathy sound in response, and Jimin knows that he doesn't believe him in the slightest, but that's okay in the end, because Jimin doesn’t really believe himself either; and so if Yoongi holds Jimin a little tighter than what is probably necessary, neither really cares enough to make a deal about it. Jimin just lets it happen, turns his face closer to Yoongi’s, aware of how his cold his nose must be.

He lets himself feel warm and safe wrapped up in Yoongi’s arms, on equal footing with him as a human.

But then, eventually they have to break apart, and as Yoongi straightens he grips Jimin by both of his shoulders and pushes him a few steps away, clearing his throat.

“Good, yeah, you’re okay. I-”

Then he pulls a face and lets his arms drop harmlessly by his sides.

Jimin smiles a watery smile; Suga the swaggy rapper has made his reappearance. He raises his shoulders and then drops them again, taking a deep breath in.

“Thank you, Yoongi.”

Thank you for risking yourself by helping me, thank you for using your ability to help me even though you could have gotten in serious trouble, thank you for being there.

None of which he says but Yoongi must know, must see it in Jimin’s eyes, because he reaches out to gently clasp Jimin’s hand in his own- intertwining their fingers comfortingly.

And then he smiles his gummy grin, and Jimin feels his face go warm (heart beating in offence at Yoongi’s ease around him, compared to Jimin’s nervousness).

But he also feels something sink in his stomach, and he takes a deep breath in; traces Yoongi’s jawline with his eyes as the other looks down and away nervously, and he cautiously calls out, “Yoongi.”

Yoongi smiles up at him, “yeah, Jiminie?” But the smile falters and falls quickly when he sees Jimin’s expression.

“Jimin? What- what’s wrong?”

“Yoongi, I think that there's something I should tell you.”

“What is it?”

“I-” Jimin starts, closes his eyes, ready for the words to spill past his lips-

And then he hears it, a faint something ringing around him. He goes still, eyes snapping open as he frowns and gazes behind the stall where they're standing, stepping cautiously out onto the main street.

“Jimin?”

Where’s it coming from?

He thinks that it's the adrenaline still rushing through his body, dulling any other sounds except the rush of blood to his ears and the residual white noise in his mind, but that can't be true because he can hear perfectly fine- down to Yoongi’s muffled heartbeat under his layers of winter clothing.

“Jimin? What did you need to tell me?”

The sound gains pitch and Jimin glances over Yoongi’s shoulder, surveys the other festival-goers with confusion as Yoongi’s expression becomes increasingly concerned- as he asks again what’s wrong.

By that point, he pulls Yoongi in closer to him, looking into his eyes, and feels the confused worry like it’s his own. However, all he can do though is wave his hand dismissively and look back, realising distantly how close he’d been pulling Yoongi to his body, trying to angle him out of the way of something.

“Jimin.” Yoongi whispers, close enough now that his breath tickles Jimin’s cheek, and Jimin can feel his gaze like a touch on his skin.

Jimin, what can you hear?”

The sound abruptly stops and somewhere across the street from them, glass shatters, sparks bubbling and spilling out from under a candy-cane striped stand, its entire frame, lined with whindchimes and firecrackers, starting to rattle aggressively like an earthquake is beneath it. And then the display within it burst to life-

- the dragon display.

Shit.

Moments like this, Jimin thanks his instincts, because as the frame of the stand across the street collapses and a dragon made of intricately woven reeds alight with flames bursts out from under the tarp covering its cage, he’s very glad that he’d steered Yoongi away from the area.

“Move!”

They have a little trouble at first, breaking away from the equipment behind the stalls, tripping on cords as the dragon crashes from one stall to another, leaving fire everywhere it touches, wreaking havoc on the people who scatter around to avoid being hit.

“Yoongi,” Jimin practically screams, grabbing Yoongi’s hand in his own as he abruptly changes direction towards an alleyway leading to a side street a little ways from where they are. “This way!”

“It’s pitch dark down there!” Yoongi argues, “there could be any-”

“Don’t worry, it’s safe, trust me!”

And if Yoongi thinks it strange that perpetual morning person, Park Jimin, has no trouble seeing down a pitch black alley, or that Jimin even noticed it tucked behind the old spray-painted, broken wall in the first place; he doesn’t comment.

So they run; dragon hot on their heels, the blue thread that had woven its reeds together melting quickly and disintegrating the structure of its wings and body in a mess of hissing fire and embers.

Jimin whoops in glee as he barrels through the alleyway, feeling the wind rush through his hair in a way that reminds him of the adventures that he and Taehyung used to go on when they were much younger, and the world was much bigger (it still is for Jimin most days).

And when they reach the other end, bursting into the darker but no less busy street across from the festival road, they crash down onto the flattened pavement at the same time- landing more or less on top of each other.

“That-” Jimin pants, smile etched right across his face, “that was wild.”

Yoongi huffs out a laugh and Jimin’s eyes become crescents, cheeks pink with energy and glee, feeling good, warm in a way he hasn’t felt in a long time, and he vaguely wonders if Yoongi’s making use of his ability to recover quickly from their sudden life-and-death chase.

“Do you think the dragon was made by that guy that you took down earlier?” Jimin wonders aloud, and Yoongi stiffens, letting out a low growl before mumbling he was such a dick, and then louder, says, “couldn’t be… he probably hasn’t even got the energy to stand up yet.”

Yoongi shifts, and all thoughts of the dragon and the man in the alley disappear from his mind as Jimin realises that the weight on his chest wasn’t just the strain of his lungs with the sudden bout of adrenaline; but rather several kilos of Yoongi, and he finds himself surprised that Yoongi ended up almost on top of him, even though he knew they had fallen together.

Jimin thinks that maybe coincidence has a sense of humour.

“Oh.” He gasps, and Yoongi chuckles and rolls his eyes, letting Jimin take a second to figure out where he is.

Yoongi’s legs are tangled with his own, and the oversized coat he picked up during the night is covering them from the breeze passing through the street, but also from the stares that they’re undoubtedly getting from the far fewer but still quite a number of people down the street. Jimin thinks that maybe they should move- but his body’s need to regain energy wins out- and Jimin stays almost perfectly still as he breathes in shallow breaths of air, Yoongi’s face directly above his.

Jimin opens his mouth to say something- anything to break the tension- but then Yoongi drops his head right into his space, his gaze boring into Jimin’s own. “What were you going to tell me?”

“Wh- huh?”

“What did you need to tell me? You know, before the-” he flicks his wrist vaguely and Jimin laughs under his breath, eyes shutting in unabashed amusement at Yoongi’s disgruntled expression.

“Before the whole dragon display coming alive thing?”

“Yeah that.”

Jimin laughs, and for a moment- just a moment- considers telling Yoongi the truth.

But as his lips part to speak, the confidence fades and he buries the thought of telling Yoongi who- no, what he is- and instead chooses to let it last a bit longer; that small, selfish part of him winning over rationality.

Jimin, just for a little more, wants to hoard those moments spent with Yoongi close to his heart, and then he’ll go on his way, because he can only play pretend and stick around Yoongi without his knowing for so long.

(He’d never even planned to come back in the first place).

“I… I just wanted to tell you...”

Yoongi smiles softly, waiting patiently as Jimin stumbles over his words, and he thinks that he doesn’t deserve the way Yoongi’s eyes shine with amusement and fondness, that Yoongi doesn't deserve what he says next. “I was just going to say that… I was actually looking for something earlier when I ran into that guy.”

“Oh… what?”

“I was trying to find a way to your heart.”

He smiles goofily and Yoongi groans, pushing himself a little ways off of Jimin- as if he’s so totally disgusted by Jimin’s joke that he can’t even bare to look at him- but the effect falls short because he doesn’t make any attempt to actually detangle their legs, to stand up and move away. “That was disgraceful, Park Jimin.”

Jimin’s fingers dig lightly into the fabric of Yoongi’s coat. “Only for you, Yoongi.”

And he feels a quiet grief, knowing that Yoongi will probably hate him for not taking this chance to tell him the truth, that when inevitably Yoongi figures it out, he won’t want to be anywhere near Jimin, and Jimin won’t blame him.

So, Jimin decides, before that moment comes, he’ll leave on his own. He may have to break his promise to Taehyung on that one, the whole not running away thing, but for now Jimin will wait just a little longer.

 

~*~

 

They have a system.

Yoongi and Jimin, that is. When Jimin comes over as a cat.

Yoongi tends to work silently, absolutely absorbed and focused on his music when Jimin slips in through the window he’d discovered a few weeks in (which Yoongi hates).

It’s something they’ve fallen into naturally, their system; Yoongi will send him a small smile and clear a space on the desk so he can wander up and occasionally there will be a new knick knack there specifically because Yoongi thought that Jimin may like it.

At one point, Yoongi replaced his computer mouse, but left the old one for Jimin, and the night he’d done that. Jimin took one look at it and had turned heel and sat on the furthest side of Yoongi’s makeshift studio, adamantly refusing to be treated like a common house cat who would play catch with the closest thing to a real mouse that Yoongi could find.

(It was much to Yoongi’s amusement when Jimin finally stopped either ignoring the mouse or hitting it off the bench in his insult, and instead took to batting it back and forth between his paws and jumping at it like an actual cat. Jimin ignored him when he cooed at the sight.)

So they have their system; but sometimes, Yoongi breaks out of their ordinary cycle of Jimin coming in, Yoongi talking aloud as he goes back and forth between composing, writing lyrics, and Social Studies homework, and then quiet; and that’s when some of the most interesting revelations occur.

Across the room, Yoongi’s rhythmic tapping fades away, and in one quick, fluid motion, Yoongi spins his chair around so that he’s looking directly at Jimin.

"I think,” he starts, gaze boring into Jimin intently. “I think that you're magic.”

He leans back in his seat, looking all aloof and nonchalant while Jimin freezes in place, going tense and still and undoubtedly wide eyed as Yoongi sucks in a breath through his teeth and continues. “I’m not… sure if you’re cursed or not, but you act too human not to be one.”

“Maybe you’re a familiar?” He muses, hand coming up to his ear, playing with the gold earring there as he falls into deep thought, and Jimin watches as the warm desk light glints across its surface.

With little other idea of what to do, Jimin decides that playing the accusation off- embracing his cat like quirks- might be for the best. So slowly he rests his head on the desk and rolls over with less grace than intended, but onto his back nonetheless, as if allowing Yoongi to pet him.

Kitten," Yoongi starts, voice low, gazing at Jimin with a raised eyebrow. “If you weren’t able to understand me, you wouldn’t look so guilty.”

Jimin whines, a sound that comes out as a pathetic mewl, and Yoongi reaches over to gently run a finger along his nose.

"Well,” he says, watching amusedly as Jimin fidgets. “You’re magic then, but whether or not you’re human is to be decided.”

Then, without much preamble, pulls his hand away from Jimin and reaches over his desk to grab his phone, only to do the same thing that Jimin has done all day; sighing and closing it with an expression that speaks of absolute disappointment.

Hesitantly, Jimin wonders what exactly Yoongi is waiting for, and finally with his curious nature overpowering him, bumps his head against Yoongi's arm in question.

This?” Yoongi hums, and when Jimin nods cautiously- because he can do that now- Yoongi sighs, and explains, “I’m waiting for someone to text me. Someone, uh His name is Jimin.”

Jimin tilts his head to the side.

Well… He’s really funny, and does this thing where he’s super shy and then a second later, super confident, and his eyes light up when he talks and he just-” he takes a small breath in, “he’s so... I mean … he’s pretty cool.”

Jimin rests his head on his paws and finds himself amused that at one point in time, being so near to Yoongi would have him kind of terrified- nervous and shy and uncertain- and even just a few weeks ago, he wash't sure exactly how to approach the older. But watching him now, as he bites his nail distractedly, eyes tracing his work on the screen, he wonders how exactly Jimin had con so long without Yoongi’s presence by his side, supportive and amused and kind.

He can remember (albeit with a dazed haziness) his first day of university, remembers wandering through long halls and winding passageways, trying to place himself in the school that would be like a home for the next few years of his life. He also caught sight of the student dorms and not for the first time, was wholly thankful to have two idiots (adorable idiots regardless) for best friends.

And tangled in that mist of greetings and walking and nervousness and exhilaration, is a moment that suddenly sharpens with clarity, like glass reflecting light as the sun hits it perfectly, angled just so, that the warm line of sun bounces off of it and announces its presence; the moment wherein on his first day in the university, Yoongi watched Jimin dance.

He’d entered as the top student in his year level; glowing with compliments about his skills and flexibility and balance, about how contemporary dance seemed to be in his blood. (Those comments lead to many-a-speculation that he had an affinity for dance. An ingrained rhythm thanks to a bit of a magical boost. That of course was not true and the university board immediately dismissed all claims from other students that he was accepted due to foul play- knowing very well that Jimin’s ability had nothing to do with dance, though he was very good).

As such he’d been by the dance studios for the orientation, and a student named Hoseok locked his sights on him and pulled him in to dance, kindly telling him to breathe, show what he could do and be confident in it.

And he never really stopped after that day, Hoseok continued to pull him into impromptu dance collaborations and battles each time they met. And eventually, Jimin came to know that Hoseok wasn't lying, that his words weren't thoughtless, that he was lending a bit of his warmth to Jimin to help lift his confidence.

Hoseok believed in Jimin the first time they met, and the two had been close friends since.

But with Hoseok also came Namjoon, Seokjin and most notably Yoongi (though briefly, and he wouldn't really reappear for a few years to come).

Yoongi, who'd agreed to film the orientation.

Yoongi who'd watched Jimin dance on that first day, eyes lit with a strange, wild intrigue,

Yoongi who continuously captures Jimin's attention.

That's the when and the why of it, and Jimin's curiosity took care of the rest when they met again on that disaster of a day in the side alley.

And despite the fact that Jimin wouldn’t see Yoongi around after that first day, nor for another year and some, almost totally forgetting the silver haired photographer except for passing comments from his friends and classmates; it should be remembered that cats have a curious way of coming back to things that catch their interest (at least, that’s what Jimin will say to make it sound more dramatic than it actually is).

With almost perfect timing in the silence, Yoongi’s phone lights up with a message notification, and he opens it quickly, seeming to forget to pick it up which gives Jimin the briefest moment to catch a glimpse of the messages waiting.

 

Park Jiminie (1:56am)

(! Messages to Min Yoongi’s phone have been delayed due to credit status and may be a few hours late in delivery, please contact provider if this is not correct !)

I'll be one second, I'm going to the street marked by the yellow stall!

 

Park Jiminie (1:56am)

(! Messages to Min Yoongi’s phone have been delayed due to credit status and may be a few hours late in delivery, please contact provider if this is not correct !)

Thank you, hyung. For everything. That guy was… a dick. But I’m glad I had you, thank you for

helping to make me feel safe :)

 

Yoongi smiles and his shoulders relax as he lets out a small puff of laughter, typing out and then deleting and then redoing his response; and Jimin feels any alarm or apprehension about the fact that Yoongi knows of what he is, bleed out, eyes falling closed, heart rate slowing and breath evening.

Yoongi’s fingers find their way to Jimin’s ears and he brushes them gently.

A long time ago, Jimin thinks vaguely, he had considered Yoongi to be the moon; gentle and watchful and more powerful than first meets the eye, considered him to be far, far away from Jimin’s reach. And it’s true, but-

As he listens to Yoongi’s breathing, to the clicking of his fingers on the keyboard, he thinks no.

-No, Yoongi isn’t the moon, and Jimin isn’t the sun. Maybe it’s the opposite, maybe it’s a bit of both, because Jimin may be bright and bubbly and burn with more than enough passion for his body; but, he thinks, drifting off to the sound of Yoongi’s humming, his sleeves brushing against the desk, the steady beat spilling from his headphones; Yoongi does too.

And in more ways than one, they've come to rest in a tremulous orbit.