When Yoongi jumped down off the last step of the bus, his boots made a rather loud thumping sound, one that seemed to echo on the currently quiet street air. He reached down to quickly pat at his denim jacket and jeans pockets just like always, wanting to make sure that he hadn’t dropped anything important in the act of boarding and leaving the vehicle. His fingers brushed against the ticket first, a thin and wrinkled piece of paper, and as he pulled it free from his jacket, his other fingers located his wallet shoved down deep in his right back pocket.
Wallet: check, what a relief.
Yoongi realised that someone was trying to get past him to get off the bus too, for when he spared a quick glance back over his shoulder he saw that there was a man standing right behind him. But rather than ask him to move aside, the old man was just standing on the step, breathing down his neck and likely giving him a very disapproving look. It was hard to tell in the current dim lighting, but he felt like he was being glared at.
So, Yoongi quickly moved aside to let him get off the bus because he really shouldn’t have blocked the doors like that.
“Sorry, sorry,” Yoongi said as he quickly dropped his head in deference and avoided looking at him.
The old man twisted to look back at him as he stepped down onto the sidewalk, eyeing his western-inspired clothing and making a series of clucking noises under his breath that revealed the true depth of his annoyance.
Yoongi just took another step to the side to ensure that he was out of the way, and he heard the doors shutting behind him with a pneumatic hiss a moment later. The bus pulled away from the curb with a low rumble, leaving him standing beside the currently empty bus stop.
Yoongi glanced at the bus ticket in his hand before scrunching it up into a tight ball, scanning the sidewalk to try and find a rubbish bin. There was one just a few feet away and so he tossed the ticket at it, seeing it sailing through the air in an arc before it dropped right inside like a basketball slamming through a hoop.
“Still got it,” he mumbled to himself before laughing under his breath.
Yoongi took a deep breath and held it for a moment before letting it out in a weary sigh. He ran his eyes over the sidewalk in front of him again and then he turned his head to look at the road too, taking in the sights around him.
Though the sidewalk was currently devoid of pedestrians, the road was as packed with traffic as always. The capital always seemed to be filled with traffic at all hours, for it seemed like no one wanted to sleep these days. Yoongi could recall what it had been like growing up in Daegu for a few years as a kid, those desolate neighbourhoods, and even when they had moved to Seoul back in 1972 when he had been just five years old, he could still remember that most of the city had once been as empty as his hometown had been.
But not any longer.
Now, during the daytime hours, it was busy and stressful, and in the nighttime the city streets were loud and filled with vehicles of all kinds: buses, cars, vans, bicycles and motor scooters all zooming off down the roads without ever seeming to stop. Being out on the streets during the evening hours meant listening to the constant rumbling engines and beeping horns, and breathing in the acrid scent of exhaust fumes lingering on the air. He hated the noise, for the sudden blaring horns never failed to make him jump every now and again.
Yoongi thought that it was pretty lucky that he hadn’t gotten stuck in traffic at some point over his journey like usual, for he didn’t want to cause any unwanted delays for his friend tonight. Some days it was faster for him to walk to the subway rather than jump a bus, because when gridlock hit the city it hit it bad, and therefore it was usually smarter to just walk to avoid the potential trouble. But he hadn’t wanted to walk to the subway because he was feeling rather lazy, and so he was so very relieved that his laziness hadn’t caused any problems for the two of them.
Yoongi really didn’t know what was even going on tonight, save for the fact that he was supposed to meet Jimin at Seodaemun-gu Station. That was all that his best friend had told him on the phone earlier in the afternoon: a location and a time, and everything else was a mystery to him.
Jimin had been talking so fast on the line that even he had struggled to understand him. It was pretty funny, for his younger friend had managed to lose quite a lot of his Busan accent since moving to Seoul as a child too, but when he got really excited or nervous it suddenly resurfaced again. Yoongi himself had never managed to shake his accent off even when he tried his hardest, for it was just a part of him. His accent felt as natural to him as flexing his fingers or blinking; just another extended part of his being that he didn’t want to lose no matter what.
Usually, Jimin told him everything on the phone before they went out together, because his friend knew that he liked to have everything planned before leaving the house. If he didn’t have all of the details then there was no way of checking up with him after hitting the streets, unless he was lucky enough to find a payphone and phone him before his friend also left his home. Yoongi most certainly didn’t like travelling halfway across Seoul only to be left waiting for three hours until he realised that he had gotten the wrong station, or his friend had given him the wrong time by accident.
But today, Jimin had been incredibly cryptic with him about what was actually going on, for all that he had said over and over was that he needed to promise to meet him at Seodaemun-gu Station at 7:00pm and that he wasn’t allowed to cancel on him no matter what. He had even threatened to beat him up if he cancelled, and Yoongi knew Jimin well enough to know that his best friend really would punch him several times if he didn’t show up this evening.
A quick glance at his watch showed him that it was 6:54pm. Jimin would either still be on the train making his way to the station right now, ready to jump off any minute, or he had already gotten off the train and was waiting for him to arrive instead. So, Yoongi shoved his hands into his denim jacket pockets, dropped his gaze to look at the paving flags, and he started walking off along the sidewalk to get to the station.
In the current early spring, the weather wasn’t too warm, for there was a slight breeze out that occasionally made him shiver whenever it hit him. It brought the scent of exhaust fumes, distant market stall spices and the underlying stench of sewage whenever he passed a wide gutter, with it. Yoongi only glanced up every now and again to make sure that he wouldn’t bump into anyone, or to ensure that he didn’t step off a curb straight into traffic, because he rather liked musing whilst he walked and it was so much easier to think whilst watching his boots go: left, right, left, right, over and over in a nice smooth rhythm.
Whenever he was aware that someone had passed him by his gaze focused on their outfits usually, for Yoongi had found himself unable to not notice the rather wonderful variety of fashion styles that he now saw on the streets of the capital. Growing up, Yoongi had seen rather bland clothing that had been neither designer, western or cool-looking, for it was hard to believe that just a few years ago flaunting wealth had been seen as a shameful thing to do. Everyone had used to wear boring solid block or simple printed clothing without any interesting colours or materials, just to look humble and not end up having people commenting on how…distasteful they were. But now, now times were changing, and he was starting to see designer, western and daring clothing that he had never imagined that he would see outside of magazines or subbed American films on the streets every single day.
There was denim, so much denim (which he too was guilty of wearing often). Wool, satin, silk, leather, sequins; there didn’t seem to be a kind of material that wasn’t being used these days. Yoongi often saw girls and young women in dresses that were loose and diaphanous, that were pleated cutely, or incredibly short enough to show bare thighs. He had seen boots that went up over the knees in shiny PVC, with block heels and chunky soles, American sneakers and more; and the hair! Oh, the hair was something else! Some girls had so much volume to their hair that he couldn’t help but be in awe at the sight, and he strangely loved seeing bouncy permed curls too. He just simply loved seeing all of the shocking looks that some young Seoul women were daring to wear in the evenings when they went out with friends or on dates, completely contrasted against their prim and reserved daytime looks.
But sadly, male fashion had yet to get that exciting in the city right now.
Jimin was obsessed with American fashion magazines, for he had towers of them stacked around his bedroom that he had purchased and never threw away. Yoongi had looked at quite a lot of them because they were very colourful and interesting, and he was always rather shocked by what he saw. He had seen long hair that would most certainly get a man scolded by his elders in this city, along with fascinating facial hair. Makeup and skirts, dresses and more; all worn by male celebrities and fashion models without a single care about ‘decency’ or ‘boundaries’.
Sometimes, Yoongi wasn’t at all certain if he liked the amount of freedom that he saw printed all over those pages, or if he was intimidated by it. It was too much, he often thought. Too much freedom, too much excitement, too much…openness. But intimidating or not, it was still thrilling to see it all right there in front of him on the pages seeing as he was pretty certain that he was never going to see it out on the streets.
Yoongi was so lost in his musings that he hadn’t even realised how close that he had wandered to the station. When he stopped at a set of traffic lights and looked up, he saw that the entrance was at the end of the opposite street, and he noticed something else too. Or someone else, that was. It brought a soft smile to his face even when he was rather rudely knocked to the side by a businessman that pushed past him to get right to the front of the crowd waiting at the lights.
Yoongi could see Jimin standing there right beside the subway entrance, his head down and something in his hands that was glowing ever so slightly. He knew that it was probably his Nintendo Game & Watch gadget, because he would have been playing on it during his first ride across the city to pass the time. Which exact model it was he didn’t know right now, for Jimin owned a wide variety of them, but if he had to guess then he would assume it to be the Super Mario Bros. one, because he liked that one a lot.
In the current late evening, Yoongi could see the lights casting across him, creating severe shadows and highlights on Jimin’s face so that he could see the curve of his cheek and his pointed nose and little else of his features from their distance. He could see his clothing clearly, however, and so he took a moment to study him as he crossed the road with the sea of strangers.
Jimin was dressed differently than usual, for Yoongi saw that he was wearing a leather jacket and fitted jeans, along with a white tee-shirt and patent leather Chelsea boots. Usually, he wore pullovers of soft pastel shades over collared shirts with a pair of loose jeans and loafers: a more immature look that his mother seemed to prefer because he looked like the sweetest boy next door there ever was. He most certainly didn’t sport this rather edgier look on a regular occurrence.
Yoongi wondered if his friend’s mother had any clue that he was out on the streets right now, dressed like some hood from one of those Hollywood films that he loved so much. The answer was probably: yes, for she had likely been present to see him out of the house like the rather overprotective mother she was. She had probably fixed his hair for him, squeezed at his cheeks, given him kisses and more, because Yoongi knew her well enough now to picture it in his mind clearly.
Jimin’s hair was currently hanging forward over his eyes in slightly loose black waves that would just grow even more kinked over the duration of the night as he ran his fingers through it and played with it. It was kind of like his hair, except Jimin’s hair had likely been styled that way carefully whereas Yoongi’s hair was just messy and never wanted to stay straight and neat no matter how often a comb came in contact with it.
Yoongi’s initial thought looking at his friend was that he looked good, and it was quickly followed by confusion over the fact that he did.
Why did he look so good when they were just going out together? It was just a normal night out together like always; wasn’t it?
Just looking at him was enough to make Yoongi feel almost like he was undressed, even when he knew that he wasn’t. He was wearing a denim jacket over a loose floral shirt, tucked into a pair of bell bottoms jeans and suede ankle boots: his current favourite look of choice that he had decided to wear for the night. He had only worn it once in the past because he wasn’t at all sure about the floral shirts, but since Jimin had told him that it looked much better than boring tee-shirts, he had started preferring it recently.
Floral shirts were pretty ‘effeminate’ and though his brother had teased him when he had first seen them in his wardrobe, his mother had told him that it was actually a nice look for him. That probably should have been embarrassing (Yoonsung most certainly liked to tell him that it was) but Yoongi didn’t think that it was. It was actually pretty nice to be told that he looked good in something, even if it was only his mother and his best friend that had told him it.
Yoongi was just about to pull his hand out of his pocket to wave at him when his friend looked up and caught sight of him moving right towards him. So, he shoved the device into his jacket pocket and called out to him instead.
“Hey, you showed up,” Jimin announced, before reaching up to brush his hair back off his brow in that usual habit of his. “I was worried that you might not be able to make it, that you might leave me hanging around this subway all night long until I phoned you from a payphone and yelled at you or something.”
“You really thought I was gonna leave you hanging?” Yoongi asked in faüx shock, coming to a stop right in front of him. “What kinda friend d’you think I am, Jiminie?”
“Mmm, the best kind but still an arsehole sometimes,” Jimin retorted before beaming at him.
Yoongi took a moment to study his face, seeing the way that the subway entrance lights played off his teeth and made them sparkle. Jimin was damn near glowing to his eyes, even in the harsh lighting, for his skin was such a beautiful golden shade that Yoongi was often jealous of. Sure, he was only a shade or two lighter than he was, but his friend glowed in a way that he never did. It probably made people like him more, for it was such an incredibly attractive feature of his.
Like his eyes and how they crinkled at the corners when he smiled fully, or his giggle when something really got to him and he practically squeaked.
It had crossed Yoongi’s mind on more than one occasion that he might just be in love with Jimin, as crazy as that thought sounded to him. He had always found the entire idea of romance a bit weird, had never felt anything even close to it in the past. But sometimes…sometimes when Jimin beamed at him like that, Yoongi felt a funny skip in his lower stomach that made him feel like he needed to sit down and take a deep breath.
No, it wasn’t love or anything like that. It was just probably happiness or something, that made a lot more sense to him.
“The, uh, the tickets?” Yoongi asked as he glanced around them quickly, trying to force his mind away from thoughts about Jimin and any possible crush that he might just have on him.
“It’s OK, I bought the tickets for us whilst I was waiting,” Jimin replied, reaching inside of his jeans pocket to pull two pieces of paper free and flash them at him. “We just need to wait for the train, it should be here in a few minutes. We should go down and wait on the platform.”
“How long’ve we gotta wait, huh?” he asked as he turned his head back to look at him.
“Um…ten minutes?” Jimin said, his tone revealing that he really didn’t know the answer. “I mean, maybe ten minutes. If it’s not delayed.
“Ain’t they always delayed?” he joked, before glancing down the set of stone steps that would take them down into the subway.
Yoongi’s hatred of subways was no secret between them, for they were both more than aware of his intense dislike. One reason for his hatred was that he didn’t like the fact that he knew that they went underground every single time that he jumped on one of the trains. He wasn’t claustrophobic (or at least he didn’t think that he was) but the thought of being underground for such a long time made him feel very feel incredibly uncomfortable, especially when it got loud and the carriage starting shaking from side to side so much. Sometimes it did that and went dark inside for a few seconds, so he hated it when that happened the most.
When all of the strangers inside the carriages were also taken into account, he hated it even more, for Yoongi wasn’t that fond of crowds either. Ever since he had been a teenager he had developed a rather sudden and intense discomfort of being in crowds, of travelling across the city in packed carriages and buses, that he had never had as a child. He had managed to mostly overcome his problems with buses over the last few years, but he was still working on his fear of travelling on subways on his own.
But Jimin didn’t seem to mind at all, for he had told him that he loved riding the trains all of the time.
Typical Jimin, not scared of being in the dark underground or squashed into a cramped carriage filled with strangers. Not scared of crowded stations filled with unfamiliar faces and too much noise to think straight. Not like him, with his dislike of a great many things that he really had no need to hate that much at all but just did.
“Uh, OK,” Yoongi said with a soft nod. “Let’s go down.”
“OK?” Jimin asked, lifting his eyebrows as he did before giving him a quick smile. “OK, let’s go.”
When he held his hand out to him, Yoongi moved to take hold, doing so completely on instinct. Jimin often held his hand when they were down on the subway lines to stop them from being separated in the sea of bodies. His friend knew that if that happened that he might just panic a little and so, ever since they had started riding subways alone without older brothers or parents present to keep an eye on them, Jimin had always held onto his hand like this.
Yoongi had witnessed little boys and girls doing it constantly, because it was embedded in their minds to hold onto someone’s hand from childhood - be it family, friend or teacher. Quite a lot of young women held hands with other women too, because they liked to stay close and talk whilst on the streets or waiting at stops and on platforms. Yet, he had noticed that a lot of young men didn’t hold hands or stand too close at all. Sometimes, people would stare at their entwined hands whilst they were out on the streets before Jimin ended up letting go again, but he didn’t really get why.
It was just hand-holding.
“How’d you get here tonight, huh?” Yoongi asked curiously as they headed off down the stone steps. “You walk?”
“Very funny,” his friend remarked in a dry tone. “I left Seolleung Station on the Bundang Line and got off at Wangsimni Station. Then I jumped the Line 5 to get here. That’s usually what I do, I prefer that journey instead of riding on Line 2 first because that journey gets really busy and packed sometimes.”
“How long were you riding on those lines for, Jiminie? You didn’t have to do that. Y’know I could’ve jumped a line to any of the stops on your train so you didn’t need to come all of the way here.”
“I know, but I also know how much you hate riding on these things,” Jimin explained, their boot soles pounding on the concrete in an off-beat rhythm. “So, I didn’t mind at all. Besides, I kind of dragged you out tonight without much time to prepare. It’s only fair that I come and get you.”
“Come and get me? What? Am I a kid or your date, huh?” Yoongi joked as they reached the bottom of the steps.
“Yoongi,” Jimin said in that exaggerated way of his, reaching over to give his shoulder a shove as he did.
Yoongi grinned at him mischievously, but deep down he couldn’t help but think of the fact that his friend hadn’t actually denied it.
The entrance of the subway was little more than an open area with a ticket counter on the left, a series of flashing large electronic screens on the right, a travel board, and several metal benches placed around the inside. There were stairs and escalators present down a tunnel that would lead to their platform, for Seodaemun-gu station had just a single line running through it that they were going to take this evening. A few people were standing in a queue in front of the counter getting tickets, and a couple of middle-aged and old men were sitting on the benches smoking away so that clouds of pungent smoke were floating around the low ceiling.
Seeing as Jimin had apparently already bought their tickets, they had no need to join the queue at the counter, and so he tugged him over to the travel board instead. Yoongi saw a large plastic rectangle on which there was a map showing all of the different lines for commuters to check, and one in particular was marked to let them know that it was the line that passed through this station. His friend was clearly checking to plan a route for them both, wherever they might just be going. He had yet to tell him, but Yoongi might just get an idea if he told him what trains they were going to board.
“We can ride Line 5 to Wangsimni and jump the Bundang Line to get to Seolleung Station again, hmm?” Jimin suggested as they came to a stop to look at a board. He reached up to point at two colourful lines in turn, which apparently symbolised their planned journey. “That’s much less stressful, and you get to sit down and relax more.”
“Whatever you say, Jiminie,” Yoongi said as he looked at the lines. “Y’know I can’t read these things at all. Just fucking squiggles to me.”
“Honestly, Yoongi,” Jimin sighed. “You really need to learn to read these. You can’t always rely on your bike and buses to get you around the city now. The subway is so much quicker and safer too.”
“Yeah, I know, I know,” he mumbled as he scuffed his boot on the concrete. “But if I’m on my bike then I don’t need to worry about being stuck in a crowd of strangers, and the buses are never that packed these days, Jiminie.”
Yoongi could sense that Jimin was studying him out of the corner of his eye, and so he spared a quick glance over at him. For a few seconds, they just held eye-contact and then his friend gave him a slight smile and then he turned to look at the board again.
“OK, we’ll do that,” Jimin said before turning on his heel and tugging on his wrist. “Come on, let’s wait on the platform.”
So, Yoongi let the younger man escort him across the entrance area in the direction of the tunnel. Judging from the lines that they were going to take, they were going to Gangnam-gu this evening, which was a bit of a surprise. He had been expecting Dongdaemun-gu, perhaps, or maybe Mapo-gu. But they were heading all of the way to Gangnam-gu, which was a sign of what was to come: absolutely anything, for Yoongi had no clue at all.
Rather than take the stairs, they decided to take the escalator, standing side by side on the same step so that they didn’t need to let go of each other’s hand. Surprisingly enough, escalators were something that Yoongi didn’t dislike, but he knew that a lot of people hated them. Sometimes, Jimin would stumble getting on them, letting out a frothy burst of giggles as he reached over to grab hold of him to right himself before he ended up falling like a fool. He hadn’t stumbled getting on it this time, however, but had rather just tightened his hold on his hand as they had started descending. When they reached the bottom and stepped onto the platform, his friend had yet to loosen his hold in the slightest, but he didn’t mind at all.
Jimin took charge to guide him along the platform, weaving through the crowd of strangers and pulling him along behind him. Yoongi just kept his gaze focused on their entwined hands and let him do so, until his friend came to a stop quite a distance along the block of concrete and sadly let go of his hand. He had left him with the choice to either shove his hand back into his pocket or to take hold of his jacket sleeve, and so he moved that little closer and felt his fingers rubbing along the smooth leather of his jacket as he took hold of his arm.
“Did you have any luck finding another job yet?” Jimin asked him, as they stared out across the empty tunnel in front of them.
“Uh, no, not yet,” Yoongi replied in a quiet voice. “I’ve been checking everywhere, but it’s hard finding something right now. Y’know?”
Yoongi knew that Jimin didn’t know, or at least not personally. His friend didn’t have a job right now, was still a student in fact. He was lucky to come from a rather privileged family that had still retained a lot of their wealth over the last couple of turbulent years. Jimin had no need to try and juggle a job and studies like he had, though his studies hadn’t exactly panned out that well at all in the end.
No, after all of the student rallies and political upheavals, Yoongi really hadn’t received much of an education at all. It hadn’t been his fault, just unfortunate timing that had been completely out of his control. He knew that he was going to have to try again at some point in the future, to try and start again or pick up his suspended studies, but right now he couldn’t afford to do that. His parents had already used up so much cash to help him enroll the first time, and he wasn’t going to receive such assistance again.
“I mean, I’d take anything these days. I’d work in a fucking skate stall in Dongdaemun-gu market if I’d get some cash outta it,” he added.
“Don’t jinx yourself,” Jimin retorted as he gave him a quick smirk.
“Next time you pass through that market, look for me,” Yoongi joked. “I’ll be wearing a hat and apron, and probably a gas mask.”
“I’m sure that you’ll find something soon, Yoongi,” his friend said as he rocked back on his heels. “Let’s be optimistic, hmm?”
“Speaking of optimism: how’s the American lessons going, huh?”
“English, Yoongi,” Jimin corrected pedantically. “The language is English, not American. They’re going good though, I think? My tutor says that I’ve got clear diction, which is good. I say the words really clearly but, um, sometimes I forgot certain words that go between other words. English has so many little words that don’t seem to make much sense to me, but you need to use them apparently, or you’re not speaking it properly.”
“Little words, huh? Surely you don’t need to use all of the little words, right?” Yoongi suggested as he ran his eyes over the platform in front of them. “Surely they kinda shorten stuff too, to make speaking easier?”
“Mmm, they do, but if you’re foreign then it looks like you can’t speak properly and they make fun of you,” Jimin said in a quiet voice. “So, I’ve gotta learn really good English so they can’t do that.”
“Teach me some, I’ll help you practise,” Yoongi said before giving him a wide smirk. “Teach me funny words, and curses too! Oh, I wanna know all of the curses, Jiminie!”
“I’ll try and find out some just for you,” Jimin offered, his fingers gently brushing against the back of his wrist as if he wanted to hold hands again. “I’ll find out the really bad ones.”
Yoongi accepted his hand in his again, feeling their fingers slotting together perfectly. Jimin made a soft noise at this, something that almost sounded like a sigh to his ears. But when he looked at his face, he saw that his friend was staring across the tunnel, seemingly studying a travel safety poster if he was actually really focusing on it. So, Yoongi studied him for a moment to wait and see if he was going to say something, before looking down at their boots again.
Yoongi wasn’t really that sure at all how long they were waiting on the platform for, be it five minutes or ten, but eventually the train did arrive. In the time that it took to do so, he found himself just listening to the usual low drone of conversation and buzzing machines echoing through the station like white noise, much more focused on the way that Jimin’s thumb occasionally brushed against his knuckles before stopping a few seconds later and wondering if he should copy his actions and do that too.
The first sign that the train was arriving happened to be the glowing white headlights out in the blackness of the tunnel, which grew in size and intensity. It was quickly followed by the rattling and rusty screeching of the vehicle zooming across the track to pull in at the platform. As it drew closer, a rather flat and crackling female voice sounded on the subway intercom to tell people to stand back for their safety. Because they were already well behind the painted line, they just had to wait until the train arrived. Several carriages passed them by at a blur before the vehicle stopped in front of them on the platform and the doors opened.
As soon as the departing passengers had left, Yoongi got a quick glance inside of the carriage to see that there were some empty seats. A few of them were even in pairs, which meant that they could stay together over the duration of the journey rather than split up. So, Jimin entered first and escorted them over to a spare pair of seats. The padded benches weren’t the most comfortable but they were better than the bus ones for sure.
Yoongi sank down onto the seat with a weary sigh whilst a small group of passengers boarded behind them, filling up the empty seats and standing to the side of the carriage out of the way when there were none left to sit in.
Like always, there was a female attendant in the corner of the carriage, armed with a microphone to read out the stops to passengers and to punch tickets with the little box hanging around her neck. She was wearing the standard uniform of a smart white blouse, navy knee-length skirt and flat pump shoes, and she had bobbed hair and a splash of red lipstick on.
“Tickets please,” she announced as she crossed the main aisle to check up on the new arrivals.
Jimin pulled the tickets out of his jeans pocket, holding one out to him too. The attendant punched his friend’s ticket first before accepting his and doing the same. When she gave it back to him, Yoongi saw a single hole punched into the stub and he watched her moving along the aisle as he shoved it inside of his denim jacket pocket. It took her a moment to punch all of the tickets and then she moved back into her corner spot.
“Stay clear of the doors,” she said in a cheerful tone into her microphone. “The doors will close in one minute. Be sure to collect your belongings before leaving and be careful with the gap! Thank you for riding this evening and welcome to Line 5. The next stop on our journey is…”
Yoongi tuned her voice out without much thought as he ran his gaze over the interior of their carriage. He saw that most of the people inside with them were elderly, which wasn’t ideal. The youngest person that he could see was a little girl sitting on her mother’s knee, and save for her they seemed to be the youngest people present. That meant that the journey was going to be fun, for they were either going to have to be silent or incredibly quiet to save pissing off the old people.
“Where exactly are you taking me, huh?” Yoongi asked in a quiet voice as he leaned against him.
“Why do you hate surprises so much?” Jimin retorted, shifting that little bit closer to him as he did so that he could also whisper. “I said that it was a surprise on the phone. Let it stay a surprise, OK?”
“I hate surprises, Jiminie. Y’know I hate ‘em. Y’know I hate the subway too but you made me get on two trains for tonight, so, I wanna know where we’re going,” Yoongi argued, his chin brushing against his leather jacket-clad shoulder. “Surely you can tell me that much, yeah?”
“But I like surprises,” his friend said in a rather petulant tone, and when Yoongi shifted his gaze from their legs to look up at him, he saw that Jimin was even pouting for effect. “Can’t I keep it a surprise?”
Yoongi held his gaze for a few seconds before narrowing his eyes, not exactly glaring at him but close. Seeing as Jimin was trying his very hardest to act cutesy with him, he knew that he had to act as disgruntled as possible to fight back. That meant narrowing his eyes, turning his lips down at the corners, and even letting out a soft rumbling noise to let him know that he was ‘displeased’. His friend tried his very hardest to ignore him but it didn’t work. He was only able to look at him for a minute at most before giving up and looking away again.
“OK, fine, I’ll tell you one thing,” Jimin sighed as he shifted on the seat, his shoulder rubbing against the underside of his chin. “We’re going to a place that just opened this weekend, a really fun place.”
“Fun place?” Yoongi repeated before making a noise under his breath. “A fun place in Seoul? Is that even real?”
“Uhuh, we’re going to that new ‘roller skating rink’ that opened in Gangnam-gu,” the younger man explained, dropping the English words out of nowhere and surprising him. “You heard about it, right?”
“‘Rollo…su…ting’?” he said, slurring the English words rather heavily and struggling with the last part of the funny word.
“Yoongi, you do know what roller skating is; don’t you?” Jimin asked, his expression showing that he was trying his very hardest to not laugh at him. “Surely you know what it is?”
Yoongi furrowed his brow as he dropped his gaze back down to study their laps again. He felt like he knew the term but right now he was struggling to figure out how or why he knew it. Skating…didn’t that have something to do with wheels or boards? Hadn’t he seen clips of those things in Jimin’s American films and music videos? Or was it something else and he was getting confused? Yoongi wasn’t exactly on top of his knowledge with ‘American things’, but he knew that Jimin was obsessed with everything like that, because he could afford to have such interests right now.
“I dunno, describe it to me, maybe I do know it.”
“Um, you put on these shoes, they have wheels on them,” Jimin explained, lifting one of his legs up to show him his Chelsea boots for emphasis. “And you…well, you skate on them for fun. It’s hard to describe, Yoongi, but you’ll remember what it is when you see the place.”
“A’ight,” Yoongi said as he shifted on the seat to get more comfortable, unconsciously leaning against him as he did. “But, Jiminie? You said one thing, like there’s more things planned. Is there, huh? Tell me, I wanna know.”
“The other place is a surprise, I’m not telling you,” Jimin said as he turned back to look over the carriage, the side of his jaw brushing against the top of his head. “You ruined the first surprise, so, I’m not telling you this one.”
“What? No fair, tell me,” Yoongi almost whined, moving to press up against his arm and digging his chin into his shoulder. “C’mon, Jiminie, tell me! I-”
Jimin elbowed him in the side a couple of times and so he looked across the carriage to see that quite a few elderly people were staring right at them. Maybe it was because he was making too much noise, maybe it was because he had wrapped his hand around Jimin’s arm and was just that little bit too close for their liking?
So, Yoongi shifted, letting go of his arm and shoving his hand back inside of his denim jacket pocket so that he could slouch on the seat.
“It involves food, that’s your hint,” Jimin whispered, shifting closer for a moment before also sitting up on his seat again and folding his hands on his knees rather primly.
“Food?” Yoongi repeated, pouting his lips out in a soft ‘o’. “Mmm, I like the sound of that, Jiminie.”
“I knew that you would,” his friend agreed, before reaching over to give his knee a soft pat.
“Doors are closing now, stay clear of the doors,” the female attendant announced.
The train was in the act of pulling out of the stop when Jimin reached into his jacket pocket to pull his game device free again. Yoongi saw that the device in question tonight was indeed his Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch, just like he had imagined earlier because he knew that it was his favourite one. It was a blue rectangle that was covered in colourful stickers of the characters, and it had several red buttons to hit to play the game that was on the screen in the centre of the console.
Though Yoongi had spent so long watching him play the game, he had no clue what it actually was. Was there a plot? Was it just a random assortments of levels? He was clueless because he just liked watching the black pixels jumping around the basic line and obstacle-filled screen. So, he moved to drop his head on his shoulder again to watch him playing because it was better than staring out of the black windows.
Well, he had been planning on watching him playing on the device, but the warmth of Jimin’s body mixed in with the soft scent of his soap was rather soothing on his travel anxiety and made him just want to close his eyes and breathe in deeply and slowly. After all, it wasn’t really the game that he liked watching, for Yoongi really just liked teasing him whenever he lost.
At least he managed to keep his eyelids open a crack to stare at the screen, seeing the younger man’s thumbs moving quickly to hit and tap at the buttons but not taking in what was happening on the device. They had passed four of the seven stops on the first train when he finally ran out of lives and received his first game-over.
“Do you want a go?” Jimin offered as he held the device out to him, forcing him to open his eyes fully again.
“Nah, I ain’t any good at those kinda things,” Yoongi said with a soft head shake, still slumped against his side comfortably. “I like watching you play instead. It’s fun watching you get hit by those blobby monsters and dying over and over.”
“It’s fun? Really?” Jimin asked in a flat tone before tsking at him. “Doesn’t feel like fun to me…”
Yoongi snorted under his breath before closing his eyes again, which was exactly when the train gave a rather hard shudder and whistling screech that made him jerk his head up off his shoulder in surprise.
“It’s nothing to worry about, Yoongi,” Jimin said in a quiet voice. “They do that all of the time, remember?”
“Mmm,” Yoongi hummed as he dropped his head back onto his shoulder. “It just freaks me out, is all.”
“And just think, back at the station, you were saying that I shouldn’t have come to collect you,” the younger man said in a rather smug tone. “Aren’t you glad that I did?”
As the train pulled into the fifth stop, Yoongi rolled his head back to look at him, seeing the soft smile on Jimin’s face as he carried on playing on his Game & Watch. A handful of passengers got off at the stop, including the little girl and her mother, leaving them as the youngest passengers on board by a rather considerable margin. Just like the last several stops, they were waiting at the platform for a minute as people exited and boarded the carriages, and then the train was on the move once more towards the last two stops.
“I want to watch you lose,” Jimin said suddenly, once more holding the device out to him in offering. “Entertain me.”
“Fine,” he mumbled as he accepted the device and got comfortable on the seat. “Watch me beat your score, Jiminie.”
Except Yoongi was to rapidly discover that the game was a lot harder than it looked, for just the slightest press of the control pad made the character dart across the screen right towards the blobby monsters and forced him to hit another button to try and jump over them. He ended up losing several lives in the matter of less than minute just figuring out how to control the character, much to Jimin’s amusement. His friend was trying his very hardest to suppress himself from making too much noise, and he had to press his hand over his mouth at some point to mute his giggling as they pulled into the sixth stop.
“Don’t laugh, you’re putting me off,” Yoongi muttered as his character once again rematerialised on the screen after a tragic monster-related death.
“When were you even on?” Jimin retorted without missing a beat.
Yoongi glared at him before turning back to the screen, once again hitting the buttons and hoping for the best rather than actually attempting to play with some kind of plan. The train rolled forward underneath them, and it hadn’t even crossed his mind that they had been on a train for almost twenty minutes now because he felt so at ease.
“Arriving at Wangsimni Station in one minute,” the attendant announced in that same cheery tone.
“One minute to beat my score,” Jimin said, leaning close and breathing down his neck in a way that made him seize up instinctively.
“Ah,” Yoongi breathed out as his thumb slipped on the button and the character fell off the ledge to land right on top of one of the monsters.
“Game-over,” Jimin said with a smirk as he lowered the device with a sigh. “You really did beat me…at losing the quickest.”
“Next time, we’ll make a bet,” he stated as he gave him the device back. “We’ll make a bet and then I’ve gotta beat you.”
“What will we bet on though?” his friend asked as he shoved the device back into his leather jacket.
Yoongi just shrugged in reply as he ran his eyes across the wall of black windows and waited for the train to come to a slow stop at their platform. Before it did, Jimin got to his feet, reaching up to grab the overhead handle and offering him his free hand. So, he took hold and held on until the train finally stopped, and then he got to his feet and let him tug him out of the carriage onto the platform.
“Time to find the next platform,” Jimin said as he glanced back over his shoulder at him.
To get onto the Bundang Line platform, they had to go up into the main area of the subway and then down another escalator tunnel. Luckily for them, they were waiting just a minute at this platform before the train pulled up at the stop and allowed them to board it. Just like the previous journey, they had their tickets punched for the second time by another female attendant in an almost identical uniform, except her hair and makeup were styled differently. Now his train ticket had twin holes in the stub as proof of his journey across the capital. Yoongi studied it for a moment before shoving it into his jacket pocket for safekeeping.
“How many stops are there this time, huh?”
“Three stops,” Jimin explained as the final passengers filed into the carriage. “We’ll be at Gangnam-gu before you know it.”
Yoongi checked his watch to see that it was 7:21pm, which meant that they really would be at the other district around 7:30pm. Now that he knew where they were going, he could only wonder when they were supposed to be there, and how long they were going to be staying. Roller skating? He was still too confused trying to recall what it even was to be excited or nervous about what was to come, but he would be finding out soon enough. His usual gut feeling was to be nervous about it all like always, but for once he was actually feeling rather good.
Maybe it was because Jimin never asked him to go to places like brand new roller skating rinks of an evening like this?
Whenever they went out during the daytime it would be to parks, to cafés and such, just to spend a little time together between Jimin’s classes. During the evening hours, they often went to the closest cinema to watch imported American films to pass the time, but roller skating? That was new and kind of exciting, and even when Yoongi knew that it was just another fun night out together, he couldn’t help but feel that it was…special in some way.
When the train came to a stop at the station, they finally left the subway systems for the evening and hit the streets. Now that they were in Gangnam-gu, the streets were most certainly busier than they had been back in Seodaemun-gu, and as they walked along the packed streets, Yoongi could hear so much music blasting from the different stores and buildings. He heard trot, heavy metal, folk and even western pop music that he was pretty certain that Jimin would recognise. All of the hustle and bustle should have frightened him, but when he was holding onto Jimin’s hand he suddenly felt a lot braver and didn’t seem to mind it that much at all.
Along with the pounding music, there were also the various store lights that flooded the streets, most of them bright white and rather sterile. But there were other kinds too: red, blue, pink, purple, yellow and green glowing in tubes and flashing on and off constantly. They all mixed together to create a kind of rainbow on the paving flags that was highly pleasing to look at as they walked. But Yoongi found that the sight of the deep blue lighting casting over Jimin’s face was much more pleasing, or the pink lighting and the way that it made his eyes glint. His friend must have caught him staring at him, for he turned his head to hold his gaze, no doubt wondering why he was doing so.
“It’s been awhile, right?” he said to break the momentary silence between them. “I’ll bet that you didn’t miss Apgujeong-dong though…”
“Mmm, it’s a bit busy for me,” Yoongi replied as they weaved around a crowd of people standing outside of a busy store. “It’s kinda nice in the night though, ‘cos of all of the lights.”
“That’s the best time to be in Gangnam-gu!” his friend agreed enthusiastically. “It feels kind of magical right now, right?”
“Right,” he said with a soft nod. “It’s, uh, it’s magical, Jiminie.”
Yoongi scanned the streets as they walked to see that there were quite a lot of places that he didn’t recognise. He knew that the district was ever expanding and becoming more and more wealthier with every passing week, but it seemed so strange that it changed so often. He could recall his own district of Seodaemun-gu changing sparsely over the last year or so, but that district wasn’t filled with middle and upper class folk wanting to live in tall apartment block complexes and splurge cash constantly. Therefore, it had no need to evolve at such a shocking rate to keep up with demand.
Yoongi’s ears detected even more music from somewhere nearby, heavily muffled in a way that made it hard to figure out where exactly it was coming from. But it certainly caught Jimin’s attention, for his friend slowed down until he came to a stop and cocked his head to the side. After a moment, he turned to check out the street, clearly hoping to locate something.
“Ah! It’s just through here!” Jimin declared suddenly, lifting his free arm to gesture down a narrow side street. “Oh, Yoongi, wait until you see it!”
Jimin was so excited that he practically dragged him down the side street to get onto the next one, his happiness rubbing off on him so that Yoongi found his lips curling up at the corners as he was pulled along behind him like a child. They exited onto a rather wide street that was paved with concrete, and he took a quick moment to check out the new sights in front of them.
Though there were a couple of buildings present, only two of them were lit up and seemingly open: the roller skating rink and a small diner of some kind. The rest were small blocks of slate grey stone with dark windows and no signs present, a stark contrast to the rink. Unlike them, it was actually a rather low building, for it looked to have only two storeys and it was much wider than it was tall. Yoongi could see a lot of glass present, for the entire front of the building looked to be made from it, but that wasn’t the most surprising sight.
All around the bottom half of the windows were rows of flashing rainbow lights, and they even flashed on and off around the entrance door too to draw the eye. A quick glance inside the open doorway showed him a counter at which a lot of people were standing and even more bright lights hanging from the ceiling on metal rafters. Wow, it was so bright in there that he imagined that he might just start feeling a headache coming on after a couple of minutes spent inside the building. The muffled music was coming from inside of it too, and the volume might just help contribute to the potential for developing a headache.
Along with the busy roller skating rink, there was the small diner beside it that had both indoor and outdoor seating. Yoongi wondered if they were business partners in any way, for it looked like a lot of people that were leaving the rink were going straight to the diner for drinks and snacks to relax after some fun. If they weren’t in any way business partners then they were most certainly a match made in heaven. He saw so many girls hanging around in groups with Polaroid cameras, snapping shots and talking excitedly amongst each other, and lots of couples on dates too.
Yoongi felt himself coming to a stop and he ended up tugging on their entwined hands before Jimin stopped and twisted to look back at him. He glanced between the rink and the diner before realising that everyone outside could see inside of the building. They could see people skating past the windows in pairs and solo, which meant that when they went inside everyone would see them too.
Oh god, everyone was going to see him falling right on his arse.
“It looks fun, right?” Jimin asked, a hint of uncertainty in his voice that almost extended to the soft smile on his face. “You’re excited to go in too?”
“Oh yeah, it looks great, Jiminie,” Yoongi agreed before nodding vigorously. “It’s so…bright.”
“I know! It looks so cool!” his friend almost gushed, tugging him towards the front steps. “I can’t wait to see what it looks like inside!”
“Uh, what does that say? The sign over the door?”
Jimin paused on the top step to look up sharply, staring at the English letters that were placed above the entrance. The sign was made up of pieces of metal that had small white bulbs placed all around the edges, and it spelled out something that Yoongi couldn’t possibly read.
“Um…Glow,” Jimin said, sounding the word out slowly as he did. “‘Glow’, that means glow in English. Because it’s glowing inside.”
When Yoongi looked down from the sign, he saw that Jimin was grinning at him, clearly proud of the fact that he had figured that out. Goddamn, there was that funny skipping sensation in the pit of his stomach again, reminding him of the fact that Jimin made him feel so good when he didn’t truly understand how or why.
“You’re so smart, Jiminie.”
“Hmm, thank you,” the younger man said before letting out a rather shy laugh. “Come on, we’re booked in for 8:00pm and it’s 7:50. We need to get ready, let’s go inside.”
Upon entering the skating rink, Yoongi realised just how bright the lights were, and how loud the music was. The entrance area itself was actually rather dim, for the lights were all coming from inside the rink instead. He saw several low benches for people to sit on to get into their skates, and behind the counter there were many squares in the walls that were filled with shoes and skates. There were two women and a man working behind one counter, and Yoongi saw that one of the women looked to actually be manning a soda machine of some kind. People were handing over tickets and shoes and being given skates in return, so, that meant that they had to do so too.
Jimin reached inside of his jacket pocket to pull something else free, which Yoongi saw were tickets. He must have gotten them in advance just for the opening night, because this place was packed full and might just have been reserved bookings only. They had to join a slight queue, and when they got to the counter he placed the tickets down for the woman to check.
“ …OK, two tickets for an hour,” she said as she moved to grab something from under the counter. “Hands, please.”
Jimin held his hand out without a hint of hesitation and so she moved to stick a sticker on it for him. Clearly, it was so they could enter and exit the rink should they need to leave for something like a cigarette or drink break during that hour. So, Yoongi also held his hand out for her and allowed her to stick one on the back of his hand too, whilst his friend shoved the tickets back inside of his jacket again.
“We have protection, if you need it,” the woman said before quickly explaining. “We have knee and elbow pads, to keep you safe in case you fall. A lot of first time skaters find them very helpful in helping them learn. Would you like some for this evening or-”
“No,” Yoongi interjected, before his friend could say anything. “We don’t need no protection.”
At this, Jimin twisted to stare right at him, lips slack with surprise or maybe disbelief that he had just said that. Neither of them actually knew how to roller skate, neither of them even had a little experience in the past that might help them now, and he had just turned down the offer of free protection for their poor limbs.
“Yoongi, are you sure? Because if you fall you might-”
“Just the, uh, skates,” he continued, ignoring Jimin’s concerned whispers. “We’re fine, really.”
The woman behind the counter looked between them both for a moment, her expression showing that she really didn’t believe him. So, Yoongi gave her his best attempt at a confident smile and hoped that it worked, that it didn’t look like an awkward grimace. Then he turned his head ever so slightly to speak to Jimin, doing so out of the corner of his mouth to try and be discreet.
“It’ll be fine, OK?”
“Uhuh, fine,” Jimin reiterated before making an amused noise. “Whatever you say, Yoongi.”
“Shoes, please. Would you like to leave your jackets too? It can get very hot inside of the rink,” she explained, as they hunkered down to remove their boots and then dropped them onto the counter.
“Um, sure,” Jimin said before reaching up to pull his leather jacket off and neatly folding it up beside his boots.
Yoongi spared a quick glance at his friend to see that his white tee-shirt was tucked into the waistband of his jeans, one of the sleeves a little crumpled to reveal quite a lot of bicep. Jimin reached up to fix it down in place without much thought at all, not even noticing the fact that he was staring at his thin but nicely toned bare arms like he had never seen them before.
“OK, what size are you, dear?”
Whilst Jimin had his belongings exchanged for a pair of skates, Yoongi removed his second boot and placed it down on the counter. He didn’t really want to take his denim jacket off, but considering what she had just told them, he had little choice in the matter. He didn’t want to start sweating to death inside of the rink because he was already sweating a little right now under the lights and warmth from the packed building. And his nerves too, of course. He had just folded his jacket beside his boots when the lady returned with Jimin’s skates.
“Thank you,” his friend said with a cordial smile.
Yoongi gave his shoe size to the woman as she collected his belongings together, and then he studied Jimin’s skates with a great fascination.
They looked just like a pair of tough leather boots, if not for the metal contraption on the bottom with four red wheels and a funny bump thing on the toes, that was. The leather was also red and the laces were rainbow coloured, threaded through several eyelets but not to the very top of the skates. They were in great condition, not even a scuff mark on them.
“Sweet shoes,” Yoongi remarked, hearing his friend laughing as he lifted one up to look at the bottom. “Who needs a subway with a pair of those babies, huh?”
“Yoongi, you couldn’t skate out of this building, never mind back to Seodaemun-gu,” Jimin retorted, as the lady brought his skates over too and placed them down on the counter.
“If you need to change them for a different size, don’t hesitate to ask,” she said before giving them a friendly smile. “Have fun.”
Yoongi saw that his skates were white leather instead of red, and when he picked them up, he was surprised to find out how heavy they actually were. How heavy would they be on his feet, he wondered, as they went over to one of the benches.
“Why did you say no to protection, Yoongi?”
“Daegu guys don’t need elbow pads, Jiminie,” Yoongi stated as he sat down on the low bench and dumped the skates in front of him. “Or knee pads either. Daegu guys are tough, a’ight?”
“Busan guys don’t think they need them either, but they’re smart enough to know that they actually do,” Jimin argued as he joined him on the bench. “Ah, you and your ‘Daegu guys’ routine. Seriously. You know that you don’t have to prove anything to me, right?”
Yoongi turned to look at him, his skates currently being ignored in favour of studying his face. He had no clue what Jimin meant by that statement but he was incredibly curious. Oftentimes, Jimin was so incredibly simple with his words that it was easy enough to understand him, but then sometimes he got somewhat vague and said things that even he struggled to follow. All that he could do was raise his eyebrows at him and hope that he might explain himself further.
“Because I already know you’re not a tough guy,” Jimin added, before grinning at him wickedly.
“You punk,” Yoongi muttered as he reached over to punch him on the bicep hard.
Jimin let out a faüx whine and grabbed at his arm dramatically, but the whine turned into a rather obnoxious burst of giggles that let him know that he hadn’t hurt him. Yoongi hated the fact that he was supposed to be mad at him and yet the sound made him smile to himself as he dropped his gaze to stare at their skates again.
“I already know you ain’t smart, so, you can drop the ‘Busan guys’ routine too,” he declared, just waiting for his own hard punch to the arm.
When Jimin let out an indignant gasp he knew that he was done for, and all that Yoongi could do was brace himself for impact. When his friend punched him, he did so so much harder than he had, enough to make him actually grunt and grab at his arm in surprise.
“Ah, you Busan guys ain’t smart but you can punch, goddamn,” he muttered as he rubbed at his arm.
“Damn right we can,” Jimin bragged, jutting his jaw out smugly as he did. “And I’ll bet that we can roller skate much better too. Want to make that into a bet?”
“No thanks, no point on betting on a losing hand… So, uh, how come we’re rollo…roll- how come we’re doing this tonight, huh?” Yoongi asked as he picked up one of his skates and studied it intently. “I thought you were supposed to be going out with Soonmi tonight? Like a date or whatever?”
“Um, Soonmi wasn’t feeling too good, so, that’s why I asked you to come with me instead,” Jimin replied, before looking off across the entrance area.
Yoongi couldn’t help but notice the fact that his friend had completely avoided eye-contact during his reply; that he had actually scanned the entire area instead as if the dark corners between the ceiling and walls and random signs tacked behind the counter were that much more interesting to look at. He had known the younger man for so long now that he knew exactly why he had done that: he was feeling nervous.
But why did Jimin feel nervous around him? What possible reason did he have to feel anything close to that right now? Was it Soonmi? Had mentioning her made him get a little embarrassed, perhaps? But Jimin was never embarrassed when talking about girls, not like him. So, it must have been some other reason then, one that he was going to have to try and figure out.
“I ain’t gonna be feeling well after this either,” Yoongi muttered as he dragged his eyes away from his friend to look over at the rink behind them. “Gonna break my ankle or something…”
“It’s not that hard,” Jimin argued with a smirk. “You’re making it sound like, I don’t know, like you’re driving a car.”
“I think driving a car’s probably easier than this, Jiminie,” Yoongi pointed out. “I mean, they both got four wheels; right?”
When he flicked the skate wheel hard, Jimin just sighed wearily and proceeded to grab his first boot. Yoongi had actually been proud of that witticism and he was rather sad that he hadn’t laughed at it, even a fake laugh for effect. He watched him loosening the laces before slipping his foot inside. The leather really was tough, for his friend had to pull quite a lot to get it on securely, and before knotting the laces, he slipped into the second boot to make sure that they fitted him.
“Are they comfortable?”
“They feel just like shoes,” Jimin replied as he started tying his own laces up tight. “Try yours on too, Yoongi. See if they fit.”
Yoongi loosened the laces quite the amount first before getting the first boot on, really struggling with the tough leather because the boots were very inflexible. After a minute of struggling, he did get into them, but it had seemed like he was going to need to change them for different size for a moment or two. He knotted the laces tightly into bows and then turned to look at Jimin.
“Now we get up,” the younger man said before he shifted to get to his feet slowly.
Yoongi saw that he didn’t stumble because he moved slowly to stay balanced on the wheels properly. Jimin made it look so effortless, so easy, that he moved to try and get upright with him too.
Except it really wasn’t that easy at all.
Not even close.
“Oh no, oh no no no,” Yoongi muttered in a mantra, reaching down to grab at the bench and dropping back on it hard with a jarring thump. “I can’t get up, I can’t.”
“Need a hand?” Jimin offered, leaning forward ever so slightly and holding one out to him.
Yoongi dragged his eyes up to look at his face for a moment before looking down at his skates. How was he standing up in those things? Why wasn’t he wobbling or teetering or showing any signs of being unbalanced at all? When he glanced back up at his face, he could see a hint of smugness on his features that showed him that Jimin himself was very proud of this fact, and he had every right to be.
“If I grab your hand, I’ll end up tugging you down with me,” Yoongi pointed out as he looked down at his skates again. “We’ve got a couple of minutes until they empty the rink, yeah? That’s plenty enough time to get up. Just lemme…try these things out first.”
Jimin glanced around the entrance area for a moment before settling his sights on the counter. Yoongi saw that he was going to attempt to skate over to it, and after a few seconds of contemplation (or steeling up his courage) his friend actually pushed one of his feet forward so that he could do so. He pushed forward and then seemed to take a step with his other foot, his movements unsteady but most certainly propelling him forward.
“Whoa! You’re doing it, Jiminie!” Yoongi declared, before guffawing at the sight of him actually skating to the counter.
Sure, it was just a few feet away, but it was something monumental to him regardless.
“Ah! It feels so funny!” Jimin said, laughing breathlessly as he grabbed at the counter. “Try it, Yoongi! Try getting up!”
“Uh…” Yoongi hummed as he planted his skates back on the floor again and tried to stand up.
He could get up quite far before his weight would shift backwards and make the wheels shift under him in a way that freaked him out. He knew that he just needed to push hard to get off the bench, but he was so scared that he was going to fall that he had no choice but to drop back onto the bench again and give his friend a pitiful expression as he silently pleaded with him for a little assistance.
Jimin skated back towards him, holding both hands out to him in offering. Yoongi had no choice but to take hold of his hands so taht he could drag him to his feet because there was no way in hell that he was going to be able to get up on his own. The younger man tugged hard, pulling him right up onto the four wheels, and then he let go of his hands.
“There, you’re learning already,” he joked with a smile.
“Uhuh, learning, whatever you say, Jiminie,” he agreed sarcastically as he lifted one foot up. “Whatever you-”
Yoongi was to discover that balancing on the skates wasn’t as easy as Jimin made it look, for the second that he shifted his weight onto one foot he disturbed his balance completely. The skates were incredibly heavy, made him stagger to the side slightly before Jimin grabbed hold of his forearms to right him again.
“Oh! Oh, don’t let go!” he cried out as he dropped his head to stare at their feet, convinced that he was going to fall over because his ankles were shaking so much.
“I won’t, Yoongi.”
“Why’re they so heavy? I didn’t know they were so heavy,” he muttered as he felt his balance going back to normal again. “Must be the metal or something.”
For a few seconds, Yoongi just stared at their skates before shifting his gaze to study Jimin’s hands. He was holding onto his forearms tightly to keep him steady, his grip so familiar and comforting. When he looked up to hold his eyes, he saw that Jimin had been staring at his face intently, but upon meeting his eyes he looked at their skates instead.
“Do you want to try skating to the counter? If you do, I’ll hold onto you so you don’t fall,” Jimin offered in a quiet voice.
“Uh, let’s try that,” Yoongi agreed before laughing awkwardly. “I hope I don’t drag you down with me.”
“You won’t, stop worrying about falling,” his friend remarked. “Just look at the counter instead, yes?”
“At the counter?”
“Yup, don’t lean forward or back, just look at the counter and you won’t fall,” Jimin explained as he let go of one of his forearms and tightened his hold on the other.
“Oh-OK, let’s go to the counter,” he mumbled before he started nibbling on his lower lip anxiously.
Yoongi couldn’t help but look down at their skates even when Jimin had told him to look at the counter, because he wanted to watch their feet and figure out what his friend was doing that meant he could skate without tripping up. Doing so made him lean forward ever so slightly, made him stumble until Jimin tightened his hold on his arm and helped support his weight again.
“Lean back a little,” his friend instructed. “It’s better for your balance.”
Yoongi made a series of noises under his breath at this, forcing himself to look at the counter and awkwardly stepping in his skates. He couldn’t seem to do what Jimin could do, that push and step that allowed him to skate forward, because the skates were both too heavy and too unsteady for him to do much more than hobble. But after a moment of hobbling, he did manage to reach the counter, however, which was a lot better than he had been hoping for. He hadn’t even fallen once in the process, thanks to his friend.
“See? It’s not that hard at all, is it?”
“Uh, no,” Yoongi agreed, all the while thinking that he wouldn’t have reached the counter without his assistance because it was actually incredibly difficult.
But he wasn’t going to admit that aloud, of course. He was a Daegu guy through and through, after all.
Jimin gave him a pleased smile and then let go of his arm to lean on the counter instead. It wasn’t quite 8:00pm yet, so the people inside of the rink were still finishing up their hour session, meaning that they got to watch them whilst they waited and try and learn some tricks. Yoongi could see so many people inside, some skating rather confidently and others a little wobbly but still moving forward, and he wondered how many of them had fallen over before reaching that level of skill.
Probably many times, many many times.
“What’s with the music?” Yoongi asked as he watched a man go past the open doorway holding hands with a little girl. Father and daughter? Older brother? It was hard to tell in the lighting, but he had a feeling that it was a father and his daughter. “It sounds funny. Where’s the heavy metal, huh? How about some Boohwal? What about, huh, Kim Kwangseok? Or Choi Yongpil?”
“Yoongi, no one wants to listen to heavy metal and folk when they go roller skating,” Jimin explained. “People want to listen to, um pop and disco.”
“Dickso, huh?” he repeated before making a series of noises under his breath. “That’s the music that goes like…”
Yoongi cocked his head in the direction of the open doorway just as a new song sounded from the speakers. It was funny-sounding to him, had a lot of brass instruments blaring over a fast rhythm, but it made him want to bop his head along with the beat even when it was so unusual. When a female singer started singing words he had no possible way of understanding, he turned back to look at his friend and raised his eyebrows at him.
“No, that’s pop. Pop is fast and catchy, it sounds happy. Disco is funky, groovy: like that.”
“What does that even mean, Jiminie?”
“I don’t know,” Jimin admitted before laughing heartily. “They just say it, so, I say it too.”
“Pop kinda makes you wanna…” Yoongi glanced over the entrance area for a moment before dropping his head. “Y’know, dance or something?”
“Dance? You never dance, Yoongi,” his friend exclaimed. “Am I going to witness history tonight?”
“I just mean, like, a little,” Yoongi mumbled as he reached up to mess at his hair. “A little dance, yeah?”
Jimin grabbed at his hands just as a series of trombones blared out a fast and upbeat tune, tugging on them and actually attempting to get him to do some jive of some kind. Yoongi couldn’t help but make a surprised noise that quickly turned into an embarrassed laugh as Jimin did a little shoulder shimmy and tried to get him to copy him. His friend was grinning without a single hint of shyness present on his face, even when people waiting in the area were occasionally glancing at them.
“Yeah, like that, Jiminie, like that.”
“Then, why aren’t you dancing too?” Jimin asked as he let go of one of his hands and proceeded to do one of those funny dance moves they had seen in a music video: scissoring his fingers and sliding his hand in front of his face as he wriggled from side to side.
“I, uh, well…”
Yoongi took a deep breath and held it before looking up at his friend.
Jimin was still shamelessly swaying on the spot, lightly swinging their entwined hands in rhythm with the song that was still playing on the system. All that he needed to do was try a little, just a little bop or sway, and that would be enough to crack his friend up. But…the skates. How could he dance in the stupid skates? Maybe…maybe if he copied his moves then he wouldn’t fall?
So, Yoongi lifted his free hand to do that same funny finger scissoring move, scrunching his face up as he did for comedic effect. He was completely off-rhythm with the song but that didn’t matter at all, not when Jimin burst out laughing at the sight of him dancing.
“You’re actually dancing?!”
“Trying to,” he corrected, squinting at him as he did. “Did I do it right?”
Jimin lifted his hand to do the move again, letting him see how to really move with the beat of the song. When he tried it again, he actually managed to find the rhythm and that was when his friend did another shimmy at him, his shoulders wriggling in that funny way as he leaned right in close to his face.
“What’d I- do I do it back like this?”
“Do it back, do it back!” Jimin laughed with a vigorous nod.
Yoongi had to hold onto his hand tightly to stay balanced as he attempted to shoulder shimmy too. The movement wasn’t too hard but leaning in close to Jimin to do it made it a lot more tricky to pull off. He didn’t want to look at him when he did it, not when they were so close together. Kissing distance, his mind decided to realise, just as he shimmied forward into him.
“Then you go back whilst I go forward,” Jimin instructed as he shimmied forward again.
“Uh, oh-oh-OK!” he stammered before laughing nervously. “Like this?”
When Jimin giggled at him, he knew that he was doing it right, even if he was a little stiff and awkward. Shimmying backward was most certainly harder than shimmying forward, for it threatened to compromise his balance on the skates and made him squeeze hold of the younger man’s hand incredibly tight. Jimin leaned close enough for their chests to brush together before throwing himself back and letting him know that he needed to shimmy forward again. When Yoongi did so, he spared a quick glance at Jimin’s face to see that he was grinning enough to make him eyes crinkle at the corners and for his cheeks to look a little flushed in the flashing neon lights of the rink.
“Do you want to go faster?”
“Fuh-faster? There’s a faster version?”
Yoongi had just leaned forward when Jimin decided to speed up, moving so fast that they nearly butted heads. He had to dive back to avoid doing so and luckily he didn’t topple backwards in his surprise. He tightened his hold on his hand and attempted to shimmy in that harder and faster rhythm too, finding his own lips twitching at the corners as he did. He didn’t brush chests with him so much as bump, and when he started shimmying backward, Yoongi was so very sure that Jimin had just placed his free hand on his waist instead of holding onto the counter.
A quick glance down revealed that he actually had, for Jimin was holding his hand in his and holding onto his waist too. Was it just simply to support him, seeing as he had just almost fallen a moment ago? Was it really…or should he have grabbed his other hand or elbow instead, because that would be much more supportive?
Yoongi got a little carried away with the shimmying, for when he attempted to speed it up again just like Jimin had, his balance finally shifted and reminded him of the fact that he was on roller skates. All that it had taken was a hard backward lunge to make his wheels start rolling again and make his back curve until he threw his hand out to grab at the counter.
“Oh, oh, no more dancing for me,” Yoongi said as he twisted to lean against the wood again. “Not until we get inside at least; yeah?”
“Are you going to show me any more moves?” his friend asked with a smile.
“You think I know any other moves?” he replied before snorting. “You literally just taught me that one, Jiminie.”
On one of the benches a few feet away, a small group of girls were copying their shimmying and hand movements with each other, giggling like mad and clearly having a lot of fun. At least they had entertained them whilst they were waiting, and he wondered if they might just start dancing like that inside of the rink.
Yoongi stuck his tongue out to wet his lips, surprised to find that they were rather dry right now. His entire mouth felt kind of dry and it might just be the result of the fact that Jimin had just grabbed hold of his waist and shimmied so close to him, close enough to brush chests and almost kiss him. Sure, it was kind of warm inside of the building, but he was only starting to feel that warmth now that his cheeks were so flushed.
The music on the system suddenly decreased in volume, which was likely a sign that it was now time for the rink to empty and let them all have their turn. He turned to look over at the doorway for a moment, seeing a lot of the people slowing down and stopping, grabbing hold of friends and excitedly chatting with another. Then they started filing out of the rink in a sea of bodies, crowding the entrance area in seconds and making them suddenly feel like they were in the way yet unable to move aside because the area was so packed full.
Yoongi was about to suggest that they go over to the benches, because they were out of the way of the counter then. But then he realised that the people needed to use them to remove their skates first, of course. That left them with no choice but to just stand there awkwardly for a moment whilst the rink continued emptying of people.
“Thank you for roller skating at Glow this evening,” the woman by the soda machine said into an intercom microphone, her accent a little strong when she said the English words. “Please return your shoes at the counter and ensure you have all of your belongings before leaving. Refreshments are available for 1,000 won in a variety of flavours for you to enjoy and cool down! The rink is ready for our new skaters to enjoy too!”
“It’s ready?” Yoongi remarked, shifting to look at the now empty rink and then looking at Jimin. “So, we just…?”
“We skate inside,” Jimin said as he nodded at the doorway. “Like how we skated to the counter, Yoongi.”
“Skated? I, uh, I didn’t really skate to the counter you kinda-”
Before he could finish this mumbling, Jimin let go of his hand and he weaved around a couple that were waiting to give back their skates, leaving him standing at the counter like a fool. Yoongi felt his mouth dropping open in dumb surprise as he watched his friend slowly but steadily skating right to the doorway. Jimin stopped to look back at him, as if he had been expecting him to follow him inside that easily.
“Jiminie?” Yoongi called out in a rather quiet voice. “Just, uh, just wait there a sec.”
“Sure thing,” his friend said, pressing against the door frame so that he wasn’t blocking the doorway for the other skaters.
Yoongi wet his lips again before leaning against the counter and lifting one of his feet up to try turn around. It was a lot easier doing so with the counter to lean on but he knew there was no counter inside to support him. The wheels still wobbled when he did so, but he managed to turn around and give himself a little shove forward…
right into the side of some kid that was also heading for the door.
Yoongi didn’t crash into him hard, rather he just bumped into his side so that he narrowly avoided an elbow in the stomach. Yet even that bump was enough to make him stumble and wave his arms out stupidly. Luckily for him, the boy turned and grabbed hold of his upper arm to keep him steady, clearly a lot better on his feet than he was.
“Careful,” the boy said before letting go of his elbow. “Don’t fall and hurt yourself already.”
“Thanks,” Yoongi mumbled at him, sparing a quick glance up at his face to see a mop of dark hair and large rounded eyes. Cute kid, maybe a high school student or university student like Jimin. “This is my first time, as you can tell.”
“It’s easy enough to learn,” the boy said in a rather husky voice, his accent catching his attention because he sounded like he might just be from Busan. “One time’s plenty enough time to learn.”
Yoongi watched the boy skating through the doorway a moment later, his movements even more smoother than Jimin’s, and then he lost sight of his denim dungarees. His friend glanced at him as he passed and then he held a hand out to him in offering, an anchor for him to skate just a few feet over to.
So, Yoongi took another one of those hobbling steps and he skated forward just enough to take hold and let him tug him inside the rink at last.
Upon entering the rink, Yoongi found out that it was a large circle with waxed wooden flooring and a rounded wall of windows. All around the windows, there was a metal bar that was clearly present for people like him to hold onto, and opposite to the entrance doors there was a small cubicle in which the sound system and most of the speakers were housed. Up on the ceiling, Yoongi saw metal rafters on which dozens of flashing strobe lights were placed, and there was even a large and slowly spinning disco ball reflecting them across the flooring.
Like he had predicted, Yoongi could see the people sitting outside the diner through the windows, and they could see him too. The outside of the rink was rather busy right now seeing as it had just been emptied, and he just so desperately hoped that he didn’t fall on his arse just yet; because he knew that he was going to at some point. It was inevitable, and at this point he just wanted to minimise the amount of people that witnessed it.
Now that the rink was filling up again, the music suddenly increased in volume to a rather shocking level. The song that they had been dancing to had changed into another one during the transition, this one a similarly upbeat song that might just be pop too that had a lot of loud synths and effects in it that Yoongi didn’t know if he loved or hated right now. The woman singing certainly had a much more high-pitched singing voice that was both sweet but a little grating to listen to depending on the words that she sang.
“I’m gonna go over to the bar,” Yoongi muttered, before realising that his friend had probably not even heard him under the blaring music. “Jiminie?!”
Jimin dragged his eyes away from the people still skating inside of the rink to look at him, raising his eyebrows curiously. Yoongi gestured at the bar dramatically, letting him know that he was going over there. But his friend clearly misunderstood him and thought that he wanted him to escort him to the bar, for he tightened his hold on his hand and started skating towards it. He had no choice but to hobble-skate along behind him until he was able to let go of his hand and take hold of the bar instead.
“There’s a lot of people, huh?!”
“Yes, it’s pretty busy!” Jimin agreed. “So many people are going to get to see you fall, Yoongi!”
“Thanks for believing in me, Jiminie!”
Yoongi was to find that moving forward on the skates without Jimin’s assistance was actually a lot harder than he had been expecting. When he tried leaning forward to take a step they didn’t budge like he had been expecting at all. Was he supposed to lean forward when stepping, or maybe backwards? Or was he actually supposed to pull on the bar to gain momentum or something and then step? He stared at the waxed wooden flooring for a moment before tugging himself forwards using the bar.
For a few seconds, he actually started rolling moving forward and he was about to let out a triumphant cry when he suddenly realised that he had made a massive mistake. He rolled forward several feet before his balance was compromised because he hadn’t taken another step and he started to topple from the movement. He couldn’t seem to stop himself and when he grabbed hold of the bar it was even worse, for he just ended up falling backwards even faster as one leg kicked right up into the air.
“Ah, shite! I’m going down!” Yoongi shouted as he felt his weight shifting onto the back wheels, unable to do anything more than throw his arms out and pinwheel them around to try and recover. “Jiminie, I’m going, I’m-”
Before he could finish this rather pathetic cry, he felt his friend’s arm wrapping right around his upper ribs and with a hard tug he was suddenly not slipping backwards any more. No, he was actually pulled right back up to his feet and after a momentary struggle he was steady again.
“Stop leaning backward!” Jimin said, breathing down his neck as he held onto him just so he could grab the bar again. Yoongi fumbled for it with both hands before he managed to take hold, his fingers squeezing tight enough to make his tendons ripple under his skin. “You’ll just keep falling if you lean back, try and keep your weight forward at least! Control your weight!”
“How the fuck d’you control your weight, Jiminie?!” he exclaimed, unable to help himself. “What does that even mean?!”
“You know, like, don’t do whatever you just did!” his friend declared, making him snort under his breath. “There’s little bumpers on the front of your skates to stop you from falling, so, if you’re falling - lean forward!”
“Lean forward?! If I’m falling…lean forward?! Why, so I can fall right onto my goddamn face instead?!” Yoongi argued as he tightened his hold on the bar and tried to twist and look back over his shoulder at him. “I think I’d prefer to fall on my arse, no one will see that like my face, Jiminie!”
“Yoongi,” the younger man sighed theatrically as he finally let go of his ribs.
“This’ too hard, Jiminie! It’s too hard!”
“Just hold onto the bar,” Jimin suggested. “Hold on and try again, it’s not that hard if you just stop worrying. I promise!”
“I-I think I’m just gonna fall again, Jiminie!”
“Well, if you do, I’ll catch you again!”
“Cuh-can I hold your hand?!” Yoongi stuttered as he let go of the bar with one hand and waved it at him almost needily. “It’s not that hard when I hold your hand, you keep me balanced!”
“Sure! I can help you learn the steps!”
Jimin accepted his hand just like always, moving to stand beside him instead, and then he lifted one foot to push forward and start skating again.
Yoongi had to let go of the bar but he made sure to hover his hand over it just in case he stumbled. The first step made them roll forward a foot or so before Jimin switched legs and took another step, so, he tried to copy him and hoped to pull off the move right. He was slow and awkward but he did succeed with his first step, letting out a happy sound as he did.
“Suh-see?! It’s so much easier when you hold my hand!” Yoongi stated, taking another bumbling step that was really nothing more dragging his skate along the wooden flooring.
“When you step, try lifting your foot up more!” Jimin suggested, lifting his own foot up to show him. “Otherwise, the friction might trip you up!”
Yoongi did attempt doing that, but his skates were so heavy that he couldn’t lift it up too high before thumping it down again. The impact made the wheels clatter loudly and he winced in anticipation of stumbling only to find that he was fine.
Maybe this really wasn’t that hard after all?
They were stuck close to the side of the rink whilst he tried to learn how to step, and because it was circular, they had to steer ever so slightly to the side to follow the curve. Jimin took control to do so, his movements a little slower than usual because he was clearly still figuring this step out. Yoongi grabbed at the bar every few seconds to try and keep balanced until they were finally rounding the soft curve and continuing in a straight line again to pass the sound system.
The next track to come on the system caught Yoongi’s attention because it was unlike the previous tracks, those strange and catchy beats that had made him want to laugh but also kind of dance even when he couldn’t. It was more like a heavy metal track, the kind that he was used to hearing, but much more interesting to listen to. It had one of the greatest drum lines he had ever heard right at the very start, a pounding rhythm that was caught between that of a war drum or a racing heartbeat, and it was enough to make him stop skating for a moment. When he did, he ended up tugging on Jimin too, for his friend was still holding onto his hand to try and help him stand upright.
“Mmm?!” Jimin hummed before leaning close to him. “Are you OK, Yoongi?!”
“Wait, this one’s pretty good!” Yoongi said, hating the fact that he had to shout to be heard over the music even when they were so close together. “I like this song! It’s good, right?!”
“It’s funny!” Jimin replied, his mouth almost pressed up against his ear in a way that made a shiver run right down his spine and plummet down into his stomach. “I think it’s pretty funny!”
“But the drums! That’s a great beat! What’d, uh, what’d Americans say?” Yoongi asked, wanting to tap his foot in beat with the drums in the track even when he knew that he couldn’t do so.
“Wicked!” Jimin exclaimed before laughing again. “Wicked, um, wicked tune, man!”
“Wuh…wicked toon, man?!” he repeated. “That’s what they say?! Really?!”
Yoongi studied his face for a few seconds before guffawing, unable to help himself. There was just something so funny about what was happening right now that he couldn’t seem to hold his laughter in. Between the music and the flashing lights, to the smiling and laughing people skating past them, the atmosphere inside the rink was just so happy that it was unbelievable.
“What are you laughing at?” Jimin asked curiously, leaning close again and making him want to lift his shoulders in response to his warm breath on his neck. “What’s so funny, hmm?”
“Dunno! I dunno!” Yoongi replied with a lackadaisical shrug. “I’m just happy, I guess?!”
Jimin held his gaze for a moment, eyes shifting from his down to his mouth slowly, and then he decided to start skating again. Yoongi squeezed hold of his hand and he attempted to copy his steps: Jimin’s long and smooth whereas his were shorter and much more choppy. But he was technically skating regardless of this fact, and it just made his lips stay curled up at the corners in a smile.
They had to sail around the curves just like they had a moment ago but it went a lot better than the first time. Yoongi didn’t even really need to touch the bar, but rather did so quickly out of habit because he was still getting used to it all. He knew that he was doing fantastically right now, but the second that Jimin let go of his hand he was probably going to go right back to holding onto the bar for dear life and stumbling his way around the rink.
After a minute or two of constant movement, they were back by the door again, for they had just completed a lap around the wall of windows. Yoongi could hardly believe that he hadn’t even fallen once yet - or at least not properly. He had expected to have been crawling around on his hands and knees by this point yet he was still upright and skating.
“You finished a whole lap!” Jimin said as they came to a stop against the bar, their ribs and stomachs bouncing against the metal. “Do you want to try skating on your own?!”
“Yeah! Yeah, I’ll try!”
“You can do it, Yoongi!” Jimin said before reaching up to touch the back of his head, his palm and fingers stroking at his hair in a way that caught him by surprise.
Yoongi turned to look at him, his fingers tightening on the bar as his friend patted at his head for a moment. Then he moved his hand away and proceeded to start skating away, leaving him behind.
“It’s not that hard, huh?” Yoongi repeated under his breath, watching Jimin moving across the rink for a few seconds before looking down at his own skates. “Hmm, doesn’t look that hard, actually. Just gotta…OK.”
Yoongi took a deep breath and held it before looking down at his skates. If he had completed that first lap with a little assistance, then surely he should be able to move a little distance on his own? He knew to step and push, step and push, so it was simple.
Jimin was smoothly sailing his way around other skaters with a happy expression on his face, the rainbow lighting flashing off his black hair and tanned skin fantastically in a way that made him swallow a lump in his throat.
Yoongi needed to be able to skate, even if it was just a little distance. If he could skate over to Jimin and take hold of his hand then it would be so perfect. Hell, if he could do something like that then he might just find the confidence to maybe slip his arms around his waist by ‘accident’ to stop himself from ‘falling’, just so Jimin would grab hold of him too. Oh, just thinking about it was enough to make his stomach damn near somersault up into his throat.
Yoongi took a sudden step, the wheels spinning and propelling him forward a lot faster than he had been expecting. He staggered onto his second foot and that was when he knew that he was going down, that there was no way of saving himself. The bar was too far behind him for him to grab hold, and when he threw his arm back to try he toppled backwards with a yelp of surprise. Jimin had told him to lean forward to save himself but he had messed up again, and a second later his arse and right elbow connected with the flooring with a bone-rattling thud.
“Ow!” he cried out, falling back so that ended up lying on the floor in a mess.
“Ah! Yoongi!” Jimin exclaimed, coming to a sudden stop across the rink.
“Oh, is he alright?” a female voice asked. “Hyungwon, help him up.”
Yoongi was in the act of sitting up when he felt a hand taking hold of his upper arm. A quick glance back over his shoulder showed him that a man was trying to help him up, presumably Hyungwon. A few feet behind him there was the woman, peering around anxiously to check if he was alright. They looked to be husband and wife, maybe in their thirties if he had to guess. Jimin hastily skated back over to them both, skidding to a stop and also taking hold of his other arm to pull him upright.
“Thank you,” his friend said as they got him back onto his feet. “Thank you so much, he’s-”
“still learning, so, he’s a little unsteady on his feet,” Jimin finished with a smile.
“Are you alright, son?”
“Uhuh, I’m good,” Yoongi confirmed before laughing breathlessly, his entire face heating up from his embarrassment. “I’m good, thanks.”
As soon as Hyungwon had resumed skating with his presumed wife, Jimin twisted to grab hold of him. One hand seized hold of his waist and the other squeezed around his elbow, which was still stinging from his fall. He might just have skinned it against the wood, and he had no doubts that both it and his arse were going to be badly bruised by tomorrow morning.
“Your shoulder?! It’s alright?! It’s not hurting, right?!” Jimin asked, throwing the questions at him so fast that he could barely understand him.
Yoongi was still laughing in a mixture of embarrassment and actual amusement to reply to him. He could hardly lift his head up to hold his gaze because his cheeks were on fire right now and he had a feeling that Jimin would be able to notice this fact even in the neon lighting of the rink.
“It’s OK, right?!” Jimin asked again, his hand moving from his elbow up to his shoulder to give it a rather gentle knead with his fingers. “Oh, this was such a stupid idea, I didn’t even think I just-”
“My shoulder’s fine, Jiminie!” Yoongi said as he rolled it a few times to show him. “See?! I didn’t hurt it, it’s fine!”
“It’s…fine?!” Jimin repeated, his fingers tightening around his shoulder for a moment. “You didn’t pull it out again, right?!”
“Nope, I mean, my elbow feels kinda funny but-”
Jimin stopped rubbing at his shoulder and instead took hold of his elbow. His thumb dug into the inner joint, almost massaging it for him even when he had no need to do so. Yoongi watched him do so, sparing quick glances up at his face and seeing so much concern on his features that he really didn’t know what to do other than stand there silently and wait for his friend to speak first.
“I was just worried,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, making him have to read his lips mostly to understand him. “How could I forget about your shoulder, after everything?”
“Ah, that was months ago. It’s all healed up now, Jiminie,” he declared. “I told you, I’m fine.”
“When I saw you falling my heart just kind of-” Jimin let go of his elbow to clutch at the front of his tee-shirt tightly, “went all weird. Usually, I’d laugh, you know, because it’s funny, but my chest went all tight instead.”
“You should’ve laughed, it was pretty funny. Next time I fall, promise you’ll laugh with me; yeah? ‘Cos if you fall, I’m gonna laugh at you, Jiminie.”
Yoongi gave him a mischievous grin just to let him know that he was fine, and so Jimin took hold of his hand again and slotted their fingers together tightly.
“I’m not going to let go of your hand for the whole night now,” his friend declared as they slowly skated along the window. “Not once, not even if you ask me to.”
Yoongi was pretty sure that he would let Jimin hold onto his hand for the rest of his life, if he asked him to.
Despite his fall from a moment ago, Jimin steered him away from the wall of windows to get into the centre. He moved slowly, making sure to avoid bumping into the other skaters so that they could get into the middle area under the lights and skate there instead. Yoongi couldn’t help but curl his free fingers up tightly, anxious that he was once again going to fall and drag his friend down with him this time.
The song that next came onto the system was a little slower than the last few, with soft synths and a strong bass rather than a brass section and raving drums. Yoongi noted that a lot of the couples that were skating seemed to sidle up that little closer to one another, almost as if this was a romantic song. He just listened to the slightly husky-voiced female singer for a moment until the chorus dropped, a rather dreamy and light series of sighs coming from the speakers that she sang over.
Yoongi felt Jimin’s hand slipping out of his suddenly, but before he do much more than blink, he grabbed hold of his elbows tightly, holding them outward almost in a bid to keep his balance even. He instinctively leaned backwards against him just to stay steady. Jimin was so close to him that his chest was pressed against his shoulder blades and then he let go of his elbows to grab hold of his waist instead. He was still supporting him, but it didn’t feel as supportive as it did when he held his hand.
“You have to do what I say, OK?! Or else we’ll fall over!”
“You have to push and step, push and step!” Jimin instructed, breathing right down his neck again and making his knees actually jitter to bump against each other.
“Puh-push and step! Got it!”
“If you don’t step, we’ll fall! So, right leg first! Push and step! You ready?!”
“Uh, fuck it! I’m ready!”
Yoongi forced himself to look up across the rink instead of at their skates, and then he took his first step forward and pushed. He was so convinced that he was going to fall and yet he didn’t, because Jimin was holding onto him. He was able to take a second step, and a third, and before he knew it, they were flying across the rink smoothly without any hobbling or stumbling. Oh, he could hold his hands out at the sides if he wanted to, just so he actually felt like he was flying, or he could…could maybe hold onto Jimin’s hands to keep them in place on his waist just right.
“See?! You’re doing it!” Jimin exclaimed before laughing. “You’re roller skating, Yoongi!”
“Uhuh, I-I kinda am!” he stammered before also laughing. “I’m rollo sating!”
“But don’t let go, Jiminie!” he cried out, grabbing onto his hands tightly to keep them on his waist.
“You keep saying that like I will!” his friend stated. “What kind of friend do you think I am?!”
“The best but-but still an arsehole sometimes!” he retorted as he laughed breathlessly. “Oh, Jiminie, you’re the best!”
Yoongi had no actual control over what direction they skated in because Jimin was gently steering them across the rink instead. So, he just kept his head down and timed each push and step carefully as to not end up tripping over and ruining the experience. It felt amazing to be able to skate like this, without constantly reaching for the bar or wobbling beside Jimin on his unsteady feet. Sure, he wasn’t actually the one doing all of the work, but it still felt great regardless.
“I feel like I’m flying,” Yoongi breathed out, not even sure if his friend would hear his voice under the music.
“Do you like that feeling?” Jimin asked him, his hands still holding onto his waist tight.
“I love it,” he said, turning his head to look at him and feeling their cheeks brushing together.
Yoongi was pretty certain that they did more than a couple of laps around the rink, but from a mixture of the flashing lights and skaters shooting past them, he really had no way of being certain. All that he knew was that Jimin’s hands were so warm on his waist and they felt just right sitting there, and the way that his chin dug into his shoulder was even better. He almost wanted to close his eyes and just feel the sensations, but he sadly couldn’t do so in case he tripped.
Eventually, Jimin steered him in the direction of the bar so that they could stop skating for a moment. It was hard slowing down as a pair and so Yoongi ended up hitting his ribs against the bar pretty hard in the act of stopping. He turned to try and face his friend again, struggling on the clunky skates and just praying that he wouldn’t fall. He got halfway around before he got stuck, flailing his left leg around until he managed to get it back on the flooring and resume turning around. He was in the act of doing so when he felt his nose brushing against something that felt like hair.
Jimin was holding onto the bar behind him with both hands, either side of his ribs and practically pinning him in place.
Yoongi was suddenly aware of how…crushed between his friend and the bar he was, for he could barely move an inch without feeling the metal digging into his spine or his chest brushing against his. Yet, Jimin didn’t seem to want to let go of the bar for some reason. When Yoongi breathed in, he could almost taste a mixture of soap and sweat on his tongue that was trapped in his hair, and his own hands fumbled along the bar behind him too.
“Jiminie, I’m steady, I ain’t gonna fall,” Yoongi breathed out, letting go of the bar to touch his forearm. “I ain’t gonna…”
He felt Jimin shifting ever so slightly, but it wasn’t to let go of the bar and move away. No, he actually moved that little bit closer until he was actually crushing him up against the bar. Yoongi made a surprised noise at this that was most certainly lost under the loud music booming from the speakers. He could feel his heart racing in his chest so fast that he couldn’t seem to breathe, but that might just have been the weight of Jimin’s body pressing right up against his adding to the illusion.
“just stop talking for a second,” his friend said in a quiet voice.
Jimin moved to let go of the bar with one hand, slowly running it up his arm towards his shoulder. His fingers uncurled to start touching the side of his neck, brushing against his skin until he felt his fingertips stroking up his jawline to cup at his cheek. Yoongi closed his eyes for a second to track the movement and when he opened them again he could see his friend’s lower face blocking most of his vision as he leaned in close and…
The contact was nothing more than the most softest brush of lips against lips, barely even an actual kiss, but even that was enough to make Yoongi take a sharp intake of breath and squeeze his eyes shut again.
Jimin had just kissed him.
Jimin had just kissed him on the lips in front of a crowd of strangers in a roller skating rink.
“Just stop talking,” Jimin breathed out, his face still so very close to his. “You always talk so much when you’re nervous.”
Yoongi stuck his tongue out to wet his lips at this, struggling so much to swallow the words that he wanted to just blabber out right now. He was almost convinced that he was going to choke on them, but before he could Jimin took hold of his chin, his thumb pressing in just below his lower lip, and he angled his face to kiss him again.
This time the kiss was more deeper, was something more than a simple brushing together of lips. Jimin had actually pouted his lips out in preparation, pressing them against his and making him try and pout his own out in return. It was awkward, bumbling, so very inexperienced and yet it made Yoongi almost tremble as he reached up to grab hold of Jimin’s tee-shirt. When his friend broke the contact, he heard the most softest sound coming from their lips.
“I-I, uh, I ain’t steady right now,” Yoongi stuttered as he squeezed his eyes shut again. “No, I think I’m falling actually, so, don’t let go of me or-”
“Nice try, Yoongi,” Jimin interjected, moving his hand from his chin to place it on the back of his neck instead. “You’re not falling, not even close.”
Yoongi slowly opened his eyes to scan the rink anxiously, hoping that no one was paying that much attention to them right now. The circular room was so packed and busy that he would have believed it entirely possible that no one had spotted their illicit kiss, but just because they had been lucky once, it didn’t mean that they could be reckless.
“D’you wanna, uh, take a break or something?” Yoongi offered, more than aware of how strangled his voice currently was. He couldn’t help but flicker his gaze between his lips and his eyes in turn. “A little breather, huh?”
“Um, OK,” Jimin said in a quiet voice before taking hold of his hand.
They had to weave across the rink dodging skaters to get back out into the entrance area again, which currently had just a single couple sitting on the bench drinking sodas and taking a quick break too. His friend guided him over to one of the benches, helping him sit down so that he didn’t end up dropping on his already tender behind, and then he let go of his hands to go over to the counter on their behalf, allowing him to stay seated on the bench.
Yoongi fiddled with his shirt cuffs as he watched him, his pulse still racing in his chest and making him breathe unevenly and quite likely audibly. He glanced over at the couple for a moment, seeing the way that the woman had her head balanced on her boyfriend’s shoulder and that she was giggling giddily as she squeezed at his knee, and then he looked back at his friend.
Jimin must have sensed that he was looking at him, for he turned to look over his shoulder at him. For a few seconds, they just stared at each other, something hanging in the air between them that was heavy and tense. But then Jimin smiled at him sweetly and the sensation passed in an instant. The woman behind the counter placed down two drink containers for him and so Jimin paid for them with a handful of coins and then retrieved them, skating back over to him.
“Um, I got you Mirinda,” Jimin said as he held out the cup to him. “I know you like that one the most.”
“Thanks,” Yoongi said, reaching up to accept the container from him and taking the straw in hand to fiddle with it and bend it.
The scent of orange soda came from the container in his hands, bubbling and hissing as he took a sip of it to wet his tongue.
Jimin joined him on the bench, gently lowering himself down and also fiddling with his own straw. He had clearly bought himself a Pepsi, seen as he loved that drink the most, and after a few seconds he took a deep sip of it.
Yoongi was currently struggling to believe the fact that Jimin had just kissed him, that he had kissed him twice in fact. One moment they had been roller skating and laughing their heads off, and now they were sitting here, staring at their drinks and wondering who was going to be the brave one and talk about what had just happened between them.
“Um, are you having a good time, Yoongi?” Jimin asked in a soft voice, still playing with his straw awkwardly.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said with a series of vigorous nods. “I’m having a great time, Jiminie. A really great time, uh…”
Yoongi shifted on the bench to get that little bit closer to him, his knee bumping against his and making Jimin gulp a mouthful of soda down and almost choke on it. His friend reached up to stroke at his throat before dropping his hand onto his thigh instead. He wanted to do something, to maybe place his head on his shoulder like that couple were doing without a single worry, but he knew that now wasn’t the time for that, or the place.
There was really no acceptable place for such actions, and though he knew that to be the case, it didn’t stop him from wanting to do it anyway.
Yoongi took a deep breath and placed his hand on top of his instead, pulling his lower lip in to gnaw on it as he slowly slipped his fingers into his. He could feel his fingers shaking terribly, and after a few seconds, Jimin turned his hand over so that he could take hold properly. Yoongi heard his friend taking a sharp intake of breath that he then let out in a sigh, and he could just imagine his expression falling slack as he did.
“Did you even wanna go to this place with Soonmi tonight, huh?” Yoongi asked suddenly as he slowly ran his eyes across the room. “‘Cos the more I think about it, the more I feel that you didn’t wanna do that.”
“…No,” his friend replied in a quiet voice.
“I didn’t want to go with Soonmi,” Jimin reiterated as he turned his head ever so slightly, glancing between him and the counter in turn.
“Why not, Jiminie?”
“Well, my mum told me to ask Soonmi to come with me, but I really wanted to…to ask you.”
“You wanted to ask me?” Yoongi repeated, struggling to think of something else to say and finding his lips pouting out softly. “Wuh…why? Why’d you wanna ask me?”
“Well, I- um, I wanted to ask you because I-I-”
Jimin stopped talking and let out a bumbling laugh, placing his drink down on the bench so that he could reach up and press the backs of his fingers against his mouth.
Yoongi saw him struggling to speak, his Adam’s Apple bobbing up and down as he swallowed a few times, and his brow furrowed severely as he stared at their entwined hands.
“I-I like you, Yoongi,” Jimin breathed out, his voice cracking as he said his name.
Yoongi saw him blinking rapidly, almost as if he was trying to blink away tears but it really didn’t work. In the lights from the rink, he could see how wet his eyes were and he had to reach up and roughly rub at them.
“Like-like a crush or whatever, I don’t know, I just-”
Jimin took an uneven intake of breath and dropped his head, still wiping at his eyes and nose roughly. Yoongi didn’t want to stare at him but he couldn’t seem to look away from his face, especially not when he saw something that looked like a tear forming on the tip of his nose that then dropped down onto their hands.
“Jiminie, why…why’re you crying?”
“I don’t know,” Jimin replied with another bumbling laugh, still wiping at his cheeks. “I, um, I just wanted to ask you to come with me becuh-cause I kind of like you, Yoongi. I mean, I think I do? I feel all funny sometimes, I don’t know, it’s like-”
“You get that funny feeling in your belly, right?” Yoongi interjected in a quiet voice. “It’s like a skip that makes you feel all woozy and-”
“your knees start shaking like you’re going to drop down and-”
“it’s hard to breathe,” they both finished in unison, turning their heads to look at each other.
“…So, was Soonmi even sick? Huh?” Yoongi asked in a quiet voice.
For a few seconds, Jimin just stared at him blankly, processing what he had just said, and then he let out a surprised laugh. Oh, seeing his lips curling up into a grin that made his eyes crinkle at the corners was so much better than seeing him wiping away frightened tears.
“What? I was being serious; was she?”
“Um, no, I just said that. I actually went out with her this morning to talk to her. I bought her ice cream, she really likes that. I, um, I told her about the whole thing and how I felt and she said that it was cool. She didn’t care, and…she told me to ask you to come tonight instead.”
“She did? Goddamn, I owe her an ice cream too,” Yoongi said before guffawing under his breath. “The biggest fucking ice cream cone you can find in Gangnam-gu, I’m gonna buy it for her.”
“Uhuh, as thanks for telling you to ask me out,” he confirmed with a grin. “For asking me out on a date.”
“A-a date, oh,” Jimin gasped and then giggled breathlessly as he wiped at his cheeks again. “This is…this is a date, isn’t it? Oh, Yoongi: a date.”
“Well, that’s what they call ‘em, right?” Yoongi joked before taking a sip of orange soda.
“So, do you…you like me too, Yoongi?” his friend asked him, leaning close enough to breathe down his neck again and make him also gulp down his soda. “Is that why you let me…kiss you in the rink?”
Before he could finish this, Yoongi turned his head to kiss him, pressing his mouth against his and pouting his lips out. Jimin sighed out against his mouth before returning it, chaste and soft and making his stomach somersault under his ribs again. When he broke the contact, he felt his lips curling up into a wide smile against his, and Jimin reached over to take hold of his sore arm and massaged at his inner elbow slowly.
The couple across the area suddenly got up to go back into the rink. They were probably staring at them in shock, but right now Yoongi didn’t care at all. All that he cared about was the way that Jimin’s fingers kneaded at his shirt sleeve and the scent of Pepsi cola on his breath as he held his gaze.
“There’s that funny feeling right now,” Jimin whispered as he let go of his elbow and retrieved his drink off the bench. “Do you like it as much as you like skating?”
“I like it more,” Yoongi said as he took a deep sip of soda. “D’you like it?”
“Hmm,” his friend hummed between sips. “We should go back inside soon, I still have half an hour left to teach you how to skate.”
“A’ight, let’s go back in,” he agreed, taking a few more sips to drain his soda. “Help me up, Jiminie.”
Jimin drained his soda and then he got upright first, carrying the empty containers over to dump them into a rubbish bin. Then he came back over to the bench to pull him upright again. Yoongi spared a quick glance over at the counter to see that their little break had most certainly attracted a lot of attention, for the two women behind the counter were looking at them. But rather than stare disapprovingly, he saw that they actually gave him a soft smiles, which he didn’t really understand right now.
Jimin tugged him inside of the rink, and just like before he managed to skate with his support easily, not stumbling or staggering but rather smoothly sailing into the rink to join the rest of the skaters.
Yoongi turned his head to look into the centre of the circle as they moved to the wall of windows, catching sight of that kid that had helped him earlier. He was skating around the centre area confidently, looping round and round figure of eights and even sailing backwards in a way that made him blink thrice in shock. How was he doing that when he couldn’t even skate three feet without ending up on his arse?
Yoongi watched him doing so for a moment before turning back to Jimin, waiting for his friend to decide what they were going to do: carry on holding hands and doing laps, holding onto each other’s waists again and flying around the rink? It was all up to him seeing as he was the one that was doing all of the skating.
The music on the sound system changed to a new track right after they had completed a single lap, one that caught him by surprise because it sounded pretty good to his ears. It didn’t sound like pop music to him, for it was so much better. There was a deep bass line first and foremost, and when the guitar and keyboards kicked in a chorus of singers started singing a catchy line that made them both want to bob to the music again. He saw his friend actually doing so first, his head moving in perfect rhythm that made him also join in.
“This is disco!” Jimin declared as he turned to grin at him. “See? It’s funky!”
“Oh…oh, I actually like this!” Yoongi said with a laugh. “Dickso is good!”
After the initial chorus had chanted their lines, the verse kicked in, a male singer taking over the beat. He had the most smoothest voice that Yoongi had ever heard, for it was sweet and soulful in a way that he hadn’t heard in music before. It made him bob his head and shoulders in rhythm with the song as they once more attempted to skate a lap around the rink. Rather than grab at the bar, he just kept a tight hold on Jimin’s hand, trusting him to support him fully and not let him fall. His friend steered them towards the centre of the rink again as soon as they had passed the sound system, except this time it wasn’t to join the other skaters but to get right under the disco ball.
When they were underneath it, Jimin took hold of both of his hands tightly, making sure that his balance was still good. He gave him a sweet and slightly bashful smile before looking up at the disco ball.
“You’re supposed to dance to disco,” Jimin explained as he ran his eyes over the passing skaters and then turned back to him. “So…do you want to dance with me, Yoongi?”
“Like before? The, uh, the wiggling thing?”
Yoongi demonstrated said wiggling thing by shimmying right up into his face, realising last minute that the younger man wasn’t going to lean backward. Despite the fact that he had just boldly kissed him, he still felt his heart skipping a beat in his chest at how close their faces got. Jimin made a noise at this before deciding to join him, his shoulders shimmying enthusiastically as he leaned forward and backward with the song blaring from the system.
Just like before, their rather sudden shimmying routine cracked some of the skaters up, for Yoongi saw girls trying to copy them and then grabbing hold of each other to save themselves from falling over.
“Is that the only move you know?!” Jimin asked as he tossed his head back to knock his tousled hair out of his eyes.
“Y’know it!” he retorted. “Show me something new! Teach me a new move!”
Jimin thought this over for a moment before he decided to crack something new out, flourishing the shimmy by pointing one foot forward onto the bumper and twisting it in rhythm with his shoulders. Now it was a proper jive! Yoongi knew that if he tried it then he might just fall flat on his face, but that didn’t stop him from also balancing his right skate forward on the bumper and trying his very hardest to dance the jive with him.
“This’d be a lot easier without the skates!” he declared as Jimin once more took hold of his waist with both of his hands. Yoongi decided to place his hands around his neck too, still shimmying on this rather funny new angle. “A lot safer too!”
The boy in the dungarees happened to skate past and Yoongi saw him twisting to look at them with wide eyes. But then his lips cracked into a wide grin that showed he actually liked what he saw.
“Sweet moves!” the kid said as he sailed past them again, doing so backwards and making Yoongi stare at him dumbly again.
“Did you see that, Jiminie?! He was skating backwards!”
“You did that before too, right before you landed on your arse,” Jimin retorted as the disco song sadly changed to another catchy pop tune.
Yoongi just sighed as his friend slowed the shimmying down to a much slower speed, really nothing more than soft swaying. He was vaguely aware of the fact that they were too close right now, that their closeness might just start attracting stares for all of the wrong reasons, but the only way that he was going to let go of Jimin right now was if someone dragged him away. Perhaps his friend noticed a few too many scrutinising stares, for he ended up breaking up their semi-embrace first, much to his disappointment.
Jimin turned to his side whilst holding onto both of his hands, starting to skate so that he was forced to copy his actions. It took Yoongi a moment to realise that they were starting to skate in a circle, round and round just like the disco ball over their heads, and unsurprisingly it didn’t take that long until he started to get dizzy from the slow rotations. Yoongi knew that he was going to stumble but he was still laughing regardless. He wasn’t frightened of falling like he was earlier, not now.
“Imagine if I let go right now!” Jimin said suddenly with a mischievous grin.
“Imagine if- what? No. No, Jiminie! Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare let go or-”
Before Jimin could possibly loosen his hold on his hands, Yoongi stumbled to slam right into him, sabotaging himself just so he could take him down with him. The younger man had clearly not been expecting such a reaction, for when they slammed into each other he let out a squeaky cry and staggered backwards until his skates finally betrayed him.
Jimin dropped to hit the floor first with a jarring thump, dragging him down with him so that his head slammed into his chest before his knees connected with the wooden flooring. Yoongi realised that they were now also going to be skinned and bruised just like his elbow, and then his friend fell back with a grunt and pulled him down with him. So, he just let his head bounce off his chest again before he rolled onto his back with a wheezy grunt.
Yoongi stared up at the disco ball for a few seconds, feeling Jimin’s stomach rising and falling rapidly under his head, and then he started laughing under his breath. When his friend joined in, he knew that he wasn’t in trouble at least, and that his bicep was free from more punches.
“I think I’m falling for you,” Yoongi joked, hearing Jimin’s groan even under the blaring pop music and smiling to himself because at least this time his lame joke had earned him a reaction.
For the sake of their bruised and stinging limbs, they just skated laps around the rink for the remaining time that they had left, their fingers tightly entwined together. Though Jimin occasionally let go to try and help him learn to skate without support, he ended up having to grab hold again after a few seconds just to keep him upright. Oh, Yoongi’s body was aching just like his head, there was a film of sweat on his brow plastering his messy hair in place, and yet he didn’t actually want the moment to end because it was just so perfect.
His gut instinct about tonight being special had been right all along, and boy oh boy, did it feel right.
But sadly, just like earlier, the music eventually decreased in volume to signal that their hour was up, and so Jimin had to escort him back into the entrance area so that they could return the skates and retrieve their belongings from the counter.
Yoongi slipped into his ankle boots again but he knotted his denim jacket around his waist rather than add it on top. He was far too hot to wear it right now, and he noted that Jimin slung his own jacket over the crook of his elbow rather than wear it too.
“It feels weird now,” Yoongi muttered as he stepped from foot to foot. “I hated those things but now my shoes feel weird. Is that what wearing heels feel like?”
“Are you hungry now, hmm?” Jimin asked as he raked his own hair back off his brow with his fingers, making him look up sharply from his suede boots.
Yoongi could see a light sheen of sweat on his brow too, beaded on his hairline so that the rainbow lights from the skating rink made his skin and hair almost glisten in mixtures of red, blue and mingled purple. Jimin stuck his tongue out to wet his full lips as he ran his fingers through his hair almost teasingly.
“Starving,” he replied as he watched his fingers playing with his hair and wondered what it would feel like to do that himself.
So, Jimin held his hand out in offering to him and Yoongi accepted it, the pair of them weaving through the small crowd of strangers to get to the exit and back out onto the street.
“Are we going there?” he asked curiously as he pointed at the diner with his free hand.
“No, we’re going somewhere better,” Jimin explained as he tugged him down the steps again and onto the crowded street. “Somewhere much better.”
Yoongi didn’t ask him what he meant by this, rather he just let his friend escort him down the side street again so that they were back on the main street. There were so many places to go and get food in Gangnam-gu, but there was one place that he couldn’t help but think of as they carried on walking along the packed and brightly lit sidewalk. It was somewhere that he knew Jimin liked a lot, was obsessed with in fact, for he had taken him there countless times in the past since it had first opened a few months ago. The fact that he couldn’t pronounce the name always cracked his friend up, so he had taken to calling it something else instead; something much more easier to say.
“You’re taking me to Mac’s, ain’t you?”
“McDonald’s, Yoongi,” Jimin corrected as he looked back over his shoulder at him. “It’s not that hard to say.”
“It’s fucking impossible to say!” he argued, as his friend headed off along the sidewalk right in the direction of that massive rotating yellow ‘M’ sign at the end of the block.
“How can I teach you English if you can’t even say that?! Huh?!”
“Teach me smaller words!”
Upon stepping inside McDonald’s, Yoongi wasn’t at all surprised by the fact that it was packed with teenagers and students. The entire fast food restaurant was almost packed full, for all of the tables were taken and just several counter stools were left free. The scent of frying oil, meat and condiments lingered in the air, and underneath the droning of conversation, he heard western music playing on the radio too, because it seemed to be the current hip thing. There were waitresses moving around clearing tables free of trays and empty containers, and a small queue at the counter as people waited for orders. So, Jimin pulled him right over to said queue, still holding onto his hand tightly. Yoongi glanced around them slowly before turning to look at the colourful menu boards set behind the counter.
“I gonna buy you something, so, pick something,” he said as he ran his eyes over the boards. “Something sweet, or whatever.”
“Buy me something? But…but I asked you out and-”
“And paid for everything all night long,” Yoongi spoke over him. “If you ain’t gonna lemme buy you this food, at least lemme buy you dessert. Yeah?”
Jimin thought this over for a few seconds before turning back to study the boards. Yoongi looked between the dessert board and his face for a moment, eyeing the photographs of pies, milkshakes and ice cream, and then he noticed a smile appearing on his lips.
“Yeah? You think of something?”
“A sundae, you should buy me a sundae: peach.”
“A peach sundae? You want a peach sundae?”
“Yup!” his friend hummed as he rocked back on his heels. “We can share it.”
“…A’ight,” he said as he turned back to the counter. “One peach sundae it is.”
After ordering at the till and waiting for a couple of minutes, Yoongi carried their tray across the restaurant to sit in front of the window counter with his friend. He hated sitting on stools because he couldn’t slouch backward and get comfortable, but stools were better than standing any day. Whilst he placed the boxes and napkins down for them both, Jimin collected two straws and checked their milkshakes, sliding the vanilla one over to him and sipping at his own chocolate one before removing the plastic lid.
Yoongi had just popped open the burger boxes when Jimin upended the fries onto a napkin and grabbed a handful. He dunked them into the milkshake and then proceeded to eat them, the sight making him stare at him in mingled confusion and disgust. His friend did it again a moment later, accidentally dribbling some of the milkshake down his chin as he did.
“Jiminie…don’t do that,” Yoongi scolded as he grabbed a napkin to wipe at the dribble of milkshake for him.
“Why? It’s nice,” he replied around a cheekful of fries. “Try it, it tastes nice.”
Jimin dipped more fries into the milkshake before holding them out to him in offering. Yoongi eyed the frothy fries for a few seconds, struggling to believe that it could possibly taste nice, and then he reluctantly accepted them from him whilst he cleaned his chin.
“See? Nice, right?” Jimin asked as he chewed the mixture of salted fries and chocolate milkshake, finding that it actually did taste kind of nice.
“Don’t dip ‘em in the sundae. Promise me you won’t,” Yoongi said as he dropped the soiled napkin onto the counter and turned back to the food.
Just like their usual orders, Jimin had picked a double cheeseburger, for his friend seemed to greatly like the unhealthiest choices available on the menu. Like his love of chocolate milkshake fries. He had settled on a hamburger, which was pretty big, covered in sauce, salad and finely diced onions and, for some reason, a singular slice of gherkin that he always had to remove because he hated the rubbery sensation of chewing it. Yoongi knew that there were a lot of other choices on the menu, like chicken nuggets (whatever that meant), fish fillets and even marinated bulgogi burgers, but they had yet to get bored of their usual orders after several trips to the fast food joint. Maybe one day, they would try something new, but tonight was not that night.
After all, they had tried a few new things already, like roller skating, dancing to disco, and kissing each other on the mouth.
Jimin finished eating first but he waited for him to catch up before he started sampling the peach sundae, wiping his mouth free of sauce with the soiled napkin just so he wouldn’t do it for him. Yoongi saw that there was just a single plastic spoon in the container and that meant that they really were going to have to share. He eyed the thick blobs of white ice cream, mixed in with chunks of peach and dribbles of sticky juice, and then Jimin got a spoonful and sampled it first.
“Is it nice, huh?” he asked with an eyebrow raise.
Jimin hummed around the mouthful before offering him some. Yoongi found that the sundae was incredibly soft, probably because it had melted a little in the heat of the restaurant, and it was so sweet that it should have been sickly and yet it somehow wasn’t. He made an appreciative noise and watched Jimin getting another spoonful of sundae, this time with a chunk of peach on it.
“Yoongi, you should…you should stay at my house for tonight,” Jimin said suddenly, the spoon hovering between them.
“Stay at your house?” he repeated slowly.
“Hmm, so you don’t have to travel all that way on your own on the subway. It’s late. I’m sure my mum won’t care at all, she would totally prefer you stay than travel home alone in the dark. Do you want to stay at my house?”
“Do I have to sleep on the floor cushions in the sitting-area?” Yoongi asked as Jimin shoved the spoon in his mouth.
“No, you can share beds with me,” Jimin explained around the mouthful. “Like we used to.”
“…Deal,” Yoongi said as his friend offered him another mouthful of sundae too.
After finishing the sundae, they left the restaurant, the sky now a pitch-black shade that signalled that it was night rather than the evening. Just like always, Jimin took hold of his hand, steering him along the sidewalk in the direction of his apartment block which was across the neighbourhood. Now that they were moving again, Yoongi was aware of how sore his ankles were from the heavy skates, and his knees too. He just wanted to sit down again, on something more supportive than a stool for a few hours, something like a nice big mattress bed with plenty of pillows and warm covers.
“Are we there yet?”
“No, Yoongi, we’re not there yet,” his friend replied. “We’re still walking.”
“Mmm, just wanna sleep, Jiminie,” Yoongi mumbled as he leaned against him, dragging his feet in a way that had Jimin laughing softly under his breath. “How far away it is again, huh?”
“Five minutes, Yoongi, it’s literally five minutes away. You can last that long, right?”
“Yeah, if I sleep in the lift…”
Jimin’s family home happened to be a suite in a towering luxury apartment block, a complete contrast to his small and rather rundown family bungalow across the capital. Yoongi had always loved riding up the fourteen floors to reach it as a child because it had felt a little like riding in a rocket up to the stars, but now that he was an adult, he was far too sleepy to find the ride fun.
No, he just stepped into the carriage to slump against the wall, rubbing at his eyes roughly whilst Jimin hit the floor button. The doors shut with a pneumatic hiss and trapped them inside for a moment, his friend shifting to stand beside him as it slowly started ascending.
When Jimin moved ever so slightly, Yoongi knew what he was doing because he could feel his hands slipping around his waist like they had in the roller skating rink. It made him laugh softly under his breath until his back was pressed against the rumbling carriage wall and his friend was pinning him in place again.
“We gonna dance again, huh?” Yoongi asked in a soft voice, feeling Jimin’s lips pressing against the corner of his mouth. He reached up to slip his own arms around his neck, doing so slowly and fumblingly until his fingers brushed against the nape of his neck. “We only know that one move, Jiminie.”
“We can learn more,” he whispered, his lips brushing against his and making him breathe in sharply.
Yoongi pouted his lips out to kiss him first, feeling Jimin’s lips also pouting out against his. He moved his face into the kiss ever so slightly, feeling his lower lip catching between both of his and almost asking to be nibbled or sucked on. He broke the contact instead, pressing another kiss in place and letting his breath out his nose before taking a quick intake of breath. Jimin’s fingers snagged at his shirt tightly, a breathless sound escaping his slack lips as he kissed him again…and again.
“Yoongi,” he sighed, his lips brushing against his and his breath hot against his mouth.
“Mmm, stop talking for a sec,” Yoongi mumbled before tangling his fingers in his hair. “Just stop talking and-”
Jimin’s mouth cut him off before he could finish this, made him almost gasp in surprise before he returned the kiss. He could feel a wetness between their lips, a mixture of saliva and curious tongues that wanted to explore but were still too shy to do so, pulling back just before they could possibly lick or taste one another.
When the lift sadly stopped moving, Yoongi slipped his arms free and reached up to wipe at his mouth roughly, just because it felt like the right thing to do. Jimin sadly had to let go of his waist and turn around again, the doors sliding open a moment later to show an empty hallway. Yoongi took a quick series of breaths and he followed him out of the carriage to go along the hallway to his apartment room door.
Before unlocking the door with his key, the younger man checked it to find that it was unlocked, twisting the handle so that it actually popped open and caught them by both surprise.
The sight that greeted them inside the apartment was that of Jimin’s mother was sitting on one of the floor cushions in the sitting-area, a small pot of tea on a low table in front of her and the television turned on at an incredibly low volume just to fill the room with warm flashing lights and white noise. Upon them stepping inside, she turned to look at them both, pulling her silken robe closed with one hand and placing her cup down on the table.
“Honey, you’re finally home,” she exclaimed as they quickly got out of their boots beside the door.
“I thought that you would be asleep after dad phoned like always,” Jimin said as he crossed the apartment room to get to his mother, hunkering down beside her. “Ah, were you worried about me?”
Yoongi also hunkered down to place their boots on the rack beside the door, just to be respectful. He watched his friend receiving quite the amount of cheek kisses from his mother as he did so. It was as if Jimin had went to war and not just out for the evening. He thought that it was both rather endearing but a little too much babying sometimes. After fixing their boots up on the rack, he turned to lock the apartment room door securely.
“Was the place nice, honey?” his mother asked as she moved her hand to pat at his tousled hair.
“It was amazing!” Jimin almost gushed, wriggling rather childishly as he did. “Yoongi, wasn’t it amazing?”
“Uh, yeah, it was really great,” he agreed as he roughly rubbed his hands together to clean any specks of dirt off his palms. “They have a dickso ball and they play all kinda catchy music too.”
Yoongi was aware of the fact that his friend’s mother was studying him and he suddenly found the framed photographs on the wall so much more fascinating to observe. Sure, that was great and all, but she really had no clue at all about the real highlight of the night and she never would.
“It’s such a shame that dear Soonmi wasn’t feeling well.”
“Uhuh, but it was still a really great night anyway, mum.”
“Maybe she’ll be better soon?” she remarked as she gave Jimin another soft cheek pinch. “Then you can ask her to go back with you again? You’ve already had plenty of practise so you can teach her how to skate. Maybe hold her hand if she gets scared, hmm?”
Yoongi saw the way that Jimin’s eyes rolled to look right at him as she said this; something moving through the air between them that was silent and yet said so much more than words ever could.
“Sure thing,” Jimin said before moving to give his mother a kiss on the corner of her mouth. “We should probably go to bed now. It’s late.”
“You two get cleaned up first, I’ll just finish my tea,” she said with a smile. “Goodnight, honey, and goodnight to you too, Yoongi.”
Yoongi followed his friend across the apartment suite to enter his bedroom first, so that they could leave their jackets folded up on his desk. Then they went into the bathroom together, Jimin opening the cupboard over the sink so that he could grab two toothbrushes and the tube of paste and place them down on the rim of the sink. He held out a plain white toothbrush to him without saying a single word, and so Yoongi accepted it.
“How long’s this been in that cupboard for?” he asked as he stared at the toothbrush suspiciously.
“It’s fresh,” Jimin explained as he squeezed paste onto his own toothbrush. “We change it every couple of weeks, Yoongi. We always have, seeing as you always used to forget your toothbrush when you stayed over.”
“Hey, I had more important things to pack,” he argued as he grabbed the toothpaste tube from him. “Y’know, like those dinosaur toys I used to have? Or school books or whatever.”
“Uhuh, whatever you say, Yoongi,” Jimin said as he shoved his own toothbrush into his mouth and started brushing at his teeth vigorously.
Yoongi brushed his teeth and splashed handfuls of hot and cold water on his face, patting it dry whilst Jimin washed his own face with a foamy wash that smelled incredibly enticing to his nose. He really wanted to get bathed to clean up fully after all of that strenuous roller skating, but because he was at his friend’s house he was unable to do so. He couldn’t bathe, couldn’t change into fresh clothing, for that would all have to wait until tomorrow.
After using the toilet, Yoongi went into his bedroom again, eyeing the single mattress on the floor curiously whilst his friend finished washing up. He knew that it was big enough to fit them both easily because they had shared often in the past, but considering what had happened between them tonight it didn’t exactly feel the same as usual. He was so busy staring at the slightly crumpled covers and pillows that it took him a moment to realise that Jimin had stepped into the bedroom too. When Yoongi glanced over at him, he saw that he was no longer wearing his jeans, but rather just his fitted white tee-shirt and boxer briefs.
Yoongi was aware of the fact that he had just mumbled aloud and he felt his cheeks heating up with embarrassment as he looked down at the mattress again. The younger man had probably seen him staring at him like that, had no doubt heard his quiet mumbling too.
“Are you seriously going to sleep in those?” Jimin joked as he eyed his bell bottom jeans with a smirk.
Yoongi dropped his gaze to stare at them dumbly, realising that he really shouldn’t and yet he had nothing else to get changed into.
Jimin tossed a tee-shirt at him from his dresser and Yoongi managed to catch it before it landed on the floor. At least he could take off his shirt now, so, he started unbuttoning the cuffs first. As he slipped out of it and tugged his friend’s tee-shirt on over his head, he tried to not notice the fact that Jimin was glancing at him out of the corner of his eyes as discreetly as he could. Despite them being almost the same height, the tee-shirt was still too big on his frame in a way that made the hemline skirt his thighs and the sleeves fall to near his elbows, because Jimin often slept in oversized tees for comfort.
Yoongi shifted to sit down on the mattress after slipping out of his jeans, tugging the covers over his lap so that he could cover his lower body up. His right arm was still faintly stinging so he folded his elbow and dropped his head to study his forearm intently whilst his friend joined him on the mattress.
“Look at that, bruising already,” Yoongi remarked as he stared at his elbow. “Goddamn, what am I? A peach?”
“You’re as soft as a peach,” Jimin agreed as he slipped one hand under the covers and poked at his thigh a few times, his fingers dimpling his bare skin until Yoongi reached down to knock his hand away. “And…you kind of tasted like one before.”
“Jiminie,” Yoongi said in a soft voice, his eyes glancing between his friend and the still open bedroom doorway. “You might wanna keep that hush hush, yeah?”
Jimin got out of bed so that he could shut the door, looking at him as he did so as if to say “problem solved”. All that he could do was sigh under his breath as his friend moved back over to drop onto the mattress. He practically bounced off it, the thump of his behind hitting it making Yoongi wince to himself.
“Well, you did,” Jimin reiterated as he dragged the covers over himself and then rolled onto his side to look at him again.
Yoongi studied his bruised arm rather than look at him, seeing the skinned patch of blue and purple flesh all over his elbow, covered in red speckles that were hideous to look at. Just above and to the side of this was another blooming purple bruise, but the most noticeable one of all was a funny-shaped one along his forearm that almost looked like the result of…grabbing fingers. Jimin had probably inflicted that one by accident when he had had to keep grabbing at his arm to stop him from falling on his arse.
“Oh yeah? Well, you tasted like Pepsi cola, so there,” Yoongi muttered as he poked one of the bruises and found it incredibly tender.
When he looked at his friend, he saw that Jimin was also studying his bruised arm intently rather than holding his gaze. Yoongi wondered if he would now taste like mint if he were to give him another chaste kiss, and he was highly tempted to try and find out.
“Mmm?” he hummed as he stopped examining his bruised arm.
“Tonight was fun, right?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, his fingers once more moving under the covers.
“It was the best, Jiminie,” Yoongi agreed, reaching under the covers to take hold of his hand. “Not bad for a first date, huh?”
Yoongi shifted to lie down properly in bed, wriggling around comfortably and still holding onto his hand. He squeezed hold and he reached up to rub at his eyes roughly with his free hand before settling down on the mattress. He hadn’t realised how stiff his back and neck was until he was finally lying down, for now that he was he wanted to groan in relief as he rolled onto his side and buried his face into the pillow.
“Mmm goodnight, Jiminie.”
Yoongi closed his eyes with a sigh, settling down to sleep at last. The bedroom was deathly silent just like the rest of the apartment room, yet he could sense that his friend was mulling over something to say to break the silence.
“Um, Yoongi? There’s a new bowling alley opening next weekend apparently, and I was wondering if you would like to-”
“A bowling alley? Which one’s that again? Wait, don’t tell me.” Yoongi opened his eyes to study his friend, squinting in the darkness to try and make out his features. “I guess I’ll find out which one bowling is when we go there, huh?”
“So, you want to go out with me again?”
“Mmm, sounds like a date, Jiminie…” Yoongi said as he shifted to get that little bit closer to him, feeling their legs bumping together under the covers.
Jimin slipped his arm over his waist to hold him close, practically embracing him as he pressed his face against the pillow again. Yoongi was about to close his eyes and drift off to sleep again, when the younger man pressed a soft kiss against his brow and mumbled something under his breath that he didn’t quite catch. So, he moved to lift his head off the pillow and look at him again.
The last thing that Yoongi was aware of before he finally fell asleep was leaning in close to give Jimin one more chaste kiss on the lips.