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바👏🏼바👏🏼바👏🏼 @TayHoBae
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Jimin wouldn’t allow himself to be trapped on his shift for any longer than necessary.

“Go, go,” Taehyung hurried, taking Jimin’s apron to let him slip out from behind the counter more quickly. Jimin decided he could get the grounds out from under his nails at home.
This morning had been absolute hell. Two girls ordered seven drinks, Jimin made them all only for them to say they were supposed to be with almond milk.

‘Oh I’m so sorry,’ was he all he had legally been allowed to say at the time, while his mind had far more colorful ideas.
With Jimin officially clocked out, he slumped on the customer side of the now empty service counter, looking to his friend with tired eyes.

“You wanna grab dinner later?”
“I can’t, remem—?
“Ah, right...”

Jimin’s disappointment vanished as Taehyung suddenly smiled to himself.
“I can’t believe you didn’t take a picture of him for me,” Jimin teased.
“That’d be creepy!” Taehyung cried, voice soft. “Taking pictures of cute customers...”
“Cute customers that ask you on /dates/...”
“STOP—“
Jimin grinned as Taehyung got so flustered he started giggling.
“I better know what he looks like by tonight or I swear, Kim Taehyung—“
“I’ll take a selfie with him...” Taehyung promised softly, flushed in the cheeks, and Jimin nodded, zipping up his coat and heading toward the door.
“Good. Have fun with Mr. Machiatto~”
“His name is Yoongi!!”
Jimin laughed his way out, having far too much fun teasing his friend over his date tonight. It figured that the guy of Tae’s dreams never came in during his own shifts, so for weeks it’d been lovey dovey recounts behind the counter, ‘He came in again, Jiminie, I wanna die–‘
Good for Taehyung. He deserved a good boyfriend, or at least he’d BETTER be a good boyfriend. Jimin could and would deck someone for his friend. Had before, and would do it again with a smile on his face.

...

Jimined sighed, the small ache in his chest returning.
It’d be nice to have a boyfriend.
Taehyung was great company, a wonderful person, but Jimin didn’t feel any type of way toward him. And Taehyung had said very plainly near the beginning of their friendship that Jimin wasn’t his type. So it worked out beautifully.

Wait, what street was he at?

Oh...
Jimin caught eyes with It for a moment, the ache of loneliness surging as he sighed again and quickened his pace.

The worn, crinkled poster stapled to the electric pole that read “MISSING CAT” in bold red letters rustled in the cold winter wind as he passed.
...over two months now, yet he couldn’t bring himself to take them down. There were a few dozen more, all within ten miles. He’d even convinced his boss to let him put one in their shop.

But it had been two months without Chubs

And Jimin knew that that time would only grow.
He opened his phone, looking for something mindless to do as he continued home. Something to take his mind off how nothing had really changed after The Lost King. Auditions were still brutal. His apartment was still cat-less.

His job would be unbearable if it weren’t for Tae.
He smiled; he did at least have pictures of Taehyung and Yoongi to look forward to. Jimin would live vicariously through him. Leech off tonight’s happiness.
~
Hoseok hated his birthday.

Yes, the joy being alive, personified as being surrounded by bratty cousins, people he barely knew, and more often than not having it treated as another excuse to flaunt a large party to investors.

Hire a mariachi band, for all he cared.
His phone clattered against the marble countertop as he continued pouring orange juice.

Hypothetically, he could think of PLENTY of acts he’d like for his birthday entertainment, but he knew absolutely none of them would ever be ‘Okay’d by his father.
Hoseok dared to imagine a birthday party totally to his liking, no strings attached. It’d be small, for one. Maybe out of the country, somewhere warm. It’d be nice to have a birthday away from the bitter cold.

No cousins. Warmth. A simple marble cake. His mixtapes given back...
A total pipe dream.
If anything Hoseok wanted to just...leave. He had no interests in motors, nor did he have any desire to go into business.

It was music that got him through the years of schooling, the pre-planned curriculum he’d vocally opposed.
‘Well then what will you do? Galavant off like your sister?’

Hoseok hoped Dawon was happy, wherever the hell she’d run off to. She never wrote. Never called. Thanks to her, Hoseok had the full burden of being The Good Child placed upon him.

Thanks a whole ton.
He felt empty, a feeling so familiar that all Hoseok did about it was stare blankly off as he drank his juice.

What would happen if he just told his father that he didn’t WANT a party? To just nix the whole thing? Hoseok could, he should!

...but his mother would be heartbroken.
So then it would be just another birthday.

Hoseok took his phone, scrolling through news notifications with full intent on taking a nap in the living room.
An image of Taemin and Hyuna wearing sunglasses and masks filled the screen, a stroller in front of Taemin. He didn’t seem oblivious to the fact they were having their picture taken, but he seemed too occupied with cooing to the unseen baby to care.

Both were gorgeous. Carefree.
Hoseok had thought about children, but only distantly. People who had them seemed happy, or at least pretended to be, but he couldn’t really wrap his head around giving up two decades of his life trying not to screw some poor kid up.

Hoseok barely wanted to be alive himself.
He stared and he stared at the celebrity couple. Hyuna was huge in the idol circuit, so the announcement of her engagement to one of Korea’s biggest actors came to little surprise. Hoseok barely followed trivial stuff like this, but even he knew.
The screen went black as he set his phone down on his stomach. Nap time. What else was there to do, really?

He thought about his birthday. The snow. Babies. His mixtapes. Actors. Singers. Taemin.

...Taemin...

.../Taemin/.
Hoseok sat bolt upright, sending his phone flying to the sofa and and bouncing off the floor.

“Shit, /shit/,” he cursed, darting to pick it back up and unlock it, for the first time in his life frantic to message his father.
The typing bubble appeared and disappeared for a long time. Hoseok held his breath, heart racing.

He hadn’t forgotten about Park Jimin. How could he, really? But the man had exited and entered his thoughts as time passed.

Come on. Just this one thing. Just this one day.
Hoseok actually shouted. He actually jumped up, punching the air in victory.

It wasn’t definite, but it was possible. Hope was all he had, but if it came through, oh God.

...but then what? Hoseok didn’t know what exactly he’d do once Jimin was here...in his den. Singing...
Okay, calm down, Hoseok. No one knew if Jimin could make it.

Come to think of it, he probably couldn’t, right? He was probably working. Stealing more hearts from a stage that belonged to him, moving like grace personified.

His heart sank. Hope was all he had, but was it enough?
~
Jimin was dead asleep. He’d ordered in dinner and tried watching some drama his mother recommended (“You know, you should try acting since dancing isn’t working out!”), but his couch blanket was too warm, the mild depression was thick, and his energy was sapped.

His phone rang.
He hummed from his throat, eyes blinking open slowly as he saw his phone buzzing along his coffee table. Jimin reached out to take it, examining his screen before squinting in confusion.

...his stage manager? But the show had closed after Christmas.

He sat up and hit ‘Answer.’
“Hello?”
“This is still Jimin, right?”
“Yes...?”
“Okay good. Look, I don’t know what’s goin’ on, but some guy called the theatre lookin’ for you, so then they called me, and now I’m calling you, and now I’m supposed to transfer you to the first guy—“
“Wait, wait, I don’t—what??”
“Somethin’ about a job. I don’t know, I’m not even the messenger here. Good luck, I’m transferring you.”

Job!?

“Wait, I—!”

Click.

“Am I speaking to Park Jimin?” came a pleasant female voice, and Jimin straightened up.

“Y–You are.”

What the fuck?

“May I ask who’s calling?”
“I’m the public consultant for Jung Automotive. My manager’s son will be having their birthday this coming Sunday, and they’ve specifically requested your presence as entertainment. Will you be available Sunday between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.?”

...what the fuck??
“I’m sorry, I–I’m a bit lost.”
“According to what I’ve been told, my manager and his son attended an opera on a night you performed in place of Lee Taemin? His son wants the performer from the night he attended, which is you.”

...

Jimin was stunned but quickly composed himself.
“What exactly would I be expected to do?”
“You would be expected to perform two one-hour long sets of songs, one as the guests are arriving and one during dinner at 5. You would be providing your own sheet music, we’ll have a pianist ready to assist. Attire is business casual.”
Jimin was reeling; was this a scam? Jung Automotive...he’d heard of that. And they wanted him to play wedding singer.

...Sunday.

Sunday was the shop’s busiest day, and Jimin was pulling a double. He couldn’t just bail. They needed him!

“Oh, I nearly forgot your compensation.”
Jimin heard the compensation.

“I’m available all day,” he answered with zero hesitation, though his hands shook.
“Wonderful. Is this number the best to reach you?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Perfect. I’ll send you the address and additional information. Thank you for your participation!”

Click.

And a new notif popped down, one with a location and a PDF file.

‘We look forward to seeing you.’
...holy shit.
Holy SHIT, JIMIN HAD A JOB! He could cry, but Jimin was too happy to cry, too shocked to cry. He just paced, breathing, thinking, what could he wear? Business casual? So not too formal. Maybe his audition pants? Definitely his audition pants. God, GOD—

Then his phone buzzed.
Jimin beamed at his phone before pocketing it and making for the bookshelf in his bedroom.

Two hours worth of music. He could do that easy. He had books for show tunes, he knew classical pieces. He could throw in a few contemporary pop songs. This was easy. He was prepared.
For the first time in awhile, Jimin felt hope. Maybe this was it. This could be it. The day everything finally turns around. The way he gets his name out and around.

Please.
~
~
[ February 18 ]
He took a deeeep breath, looking out the window at the dreary sky, threatening to snow.

Jimin was five minutes away from the Jungs’.

Focus. It’s just another performance. And if it went well, it could lead to more. That’s how rich people worked, right? Right.
Under his coat was a crisp light blue dress shirt, buttoned neatly, and he’d styled his hair to be neat, but not stiff. Black pants, black shoes, and a shiny silver bracelet.

‘You are hot and hireable,’ Jimin has told himself in front of his mirror, and he was god damn right.
Jimin turned from his window to look through windshield. He was grateful that his driver was quiet, anything past casual conversation and Jimin’s nerves would be shot.

They were coming up on a house. A LARGE house. Jesus, how big was this family?
“Geez,” murmured the driver, and Jimin couldn’t help but agree. Okay, maybe his nerves would be shot anyway.

...oh...come on! He was fine! He’d performed in front of hundreds of people in a national OPERA. And that performance EARNED him this job. Jimin had made an impact.
His heart softened. He honestly couldn’t wait to meet the birthday boy; Jimin loved kids, and to think his performance had amazed one so much that they’d asked their father specifically to see him again, little ol’ Park Jimin from Busan, for his birthday...it was touching.
The car slowed and stopped outside the house in a large circular driveway that had a fountain at its center, though it was dry. ‘Too cold,’ Jimin figured as he paid the driver and stepped out.

Before Jimin could turn to face the house, the front door opened, and he saw a woman.
“Park Jimin?” she asked with a smile, and he nodded, bowing.
“I am, hello.”
“Hello! I’m Soo-Hee, I manage the Jungs’ home. Please, follow me. You can hang your coat in the foyer.”

...okay this was actually really happening now. The knot in Jimin’s stomach tightened.
“Thank you,” he replied, voice steady as he followed her up the steps, through the doors, and into what was absolutely without a single doubt the most beautiful home he’d ever been in.

He couldn’t stop staring. If someone hadn’t taken his coat, Jimin would have dropped it.
Tall creamy white walls, accented with gold trim along the ceiling, paintings of fruit adorned every here and there. Piano music played from somewhere. Small tables holding bowls of rocks, some kind of...rich people hobby, he guessed.

It was all extremely clean and expensive.
“You’ll be performing in the den, to start at about five until two so the guests are greeted to some lovely music.”

‘Lovely music.’

Jimin relaxed, smiled. Right. He’d earned his place here.

“Sounds perfect.”
“It does, doesn’t it? The young master will be so thrilled.”
“Is...the young master here? I’d actually like to thank him. I mean, for considering me. It’s an honor, really.”
“He’s upstairs preparing. Really, Hoseok-nim has seemed so light since you confirmed, just like the week or so after he returned from your show.”
“...really?”
“Oh yes. I wouldn’t say he’s moody, but he has his days.”
“I‘d that’s true for everyone.”
“You’re very right,” she replied quietly. “But initially he was so against seeing the opera. Thought it was a punishment.”

Jimin pictured a child pouting, kicking the back of a car seat.
“To be fair, his father took him as a sort of...well, corrective measure, I suppose is the term. Some proper culture was needed.”

Jimin nodded, the child in his mind now in the theatre, angry and upset, only to be...blown away. And happy. And inspired.

Jimin had done that.
“Well, I’m glad I could help make a positive impact on the youth,” Jimin replied brightly. Soo-Hee laughed.

“You sound so mature. How old are you?”
“I’ll be 23 in October, ma’am.”
“Oh! You’re around the young master’s age.”
“Oh, that’s—wait, wh—?“
“I’ll tell him you’ve arrived.”
And she just LEFT Jimin there to gape, his mouth open in total confusion.

Wait a second.

The son was an /adult/?

Well...okay! That was fine! Still totally valid! Although apparently...’Hoseok,’ was it? Apparently, Hoseok was moody and hated opera.

Hated opera but loved Jimin.
Jimin looked around the foyer, feeling exposed, and decided to follow the piano music. Surely that was where the den was. He took care when he walked, suddenly feel self-conscious about whether his shoes were dirty or not.
He’d been so mentally prepared to meet and talk to some little kid. Had a whole thing prepared about how the arts were important, always following your dreams, staying in school, role model stuff!!

He found the den, stepping in with intrepidation.

Another gorgeous room.
The hardwood floor was shiny, clean, reflecting a fire that roared in its sweep. A marble mantle showed various trophies, plaques, achievements. Large bookcases spanned to the ceiling. Large sofas sat to the side, a table to the other, and a small piano and stage in the corner.
Suddenly the music stopped.

“You the singer?”
“I–yes.”
“Let’s do a soundcheck, I wanna know what I’m working with.”
“Oh, uh–yes, sounds good.”

How very sudden. Jimin handed the pianist his books and quickly stepped to the stage. Well, it was more like a raised platform, really.
The pianist thumbed quickly through the jazz booklet before making a small noise of satisfaction.

“This I can do. Good picks, kid. Let’s do Birdland.”

Jimin nodded quickly. He actually really loved Lullaby of Birdland. Okay. Warming up was good.

Here goes.
~
Hoseok might throw up.

He’d only just realized the night before exactly what it was he’d done, which was invite someone into his home... knowing absolutely /nothing/ about them.

Park Jimin wasn’t a celebrity. Nowhere in the public eye.

He was a person.
He wasn’t scared. But it was a little intimidating, meeting someone /new/. No dossier, no pedigree. It was exciting.

Hoseok fixed his tie for the third time, listening to the piano music drifting through the house. Everyone should be arriving soon.

He should be arriving soon...
Red button-up, black pants, black shoes. Black tie. He nodded to himself in the mirror.

Handsome.

He made for his door but faltered as there was suddenly a knock. Puzzled, he opened it, smiling as he saw his maid.
“Ready to go, Soo-Hee?”
“Nearly, sir. I just came up to tell you that—“
“Wait, wait, do you—?“

Hoseok stopped her, perking up as he heard a sound. The piano was playing a new song.

...humming?

/Singing/.

“Excuse me,” Hoseok nearly choked, squeezing past his now laughing maid.
Oh God.

Hoseok was quick down the stairs.

Park Jimin was a person. A beautiful dancer. A amazing singer. A person.

A person Hoseok wanted to know.

He rounded the corner of the foyer. Be calm.

His steps quickened, echoing, the voice he followed growing.

He reached the den.
~
“And there’s a weepy old willow.
He really knows how to cry.
That’s how I’ll cry in my pillow
If you should tell me farewell ad goodbye

Lullaby of Birdland, whisper low.
Kiss me sweet, and we’ll go
Fly high in Birdland, high in the sky up above.
We’re in love.”
Jimin /played/ with the song, made it his. The outro, he added some bars, improv. He felt the music, eyes closed as warmth flooded through him.

He opened, lowering his tone, a soft finish.

“We’re in lo—“

He froze, voice catching as he realized that they were no longer alone.
Jimin stared at the man outside the den, surprised.

The man stared at Jimin on the stage, awed.

It was like time had slowed.

As the man stepped into the large room, the pianist started speaking, but Jimin couldn’t hear him. Couldn’t hear anything but the fire. The footsteps.
“...Park...Jimin?”

He said his name, and another burst of warmth went though Jimin, who made to step down from the platform, nodding.

“Are you...?”
“Jung Hoseok.”

God.

God he was /gorgeous/.

He was taller than Jimin, with high cheeks and a slender nose. Black hair.
/Shit, he hadn’t said anything/.

“It’s an honor to meet you,” Jimin hurried, bowing and speaking formally to hide his nerves. But then Hoseok grinned, and Jimin already knew his life was over now. Utterly ruined, God, what the hell? Why couldn’t he have been some spoiled kid!?
“The honor is mine, Jimin-ah.”

Jimin smiled, liking the way his name sounded from Hoseok.

“And how you shall I address you while I’m here?”
“Hyung is fine,” Hoseok answered quickly, surprising Jimin but...if that’s what he wanted...
“Alright then, Hoseok-hyung.”
The pianist had picked up some casual music again, filling a silence neither man had really noticed before Jimin cleared his throat.

“Ah, I was telling your housekeeper, I—wanted to thank you for this opportunity. I mean—oh gosh, I haven’t even—happy birthday, hyung.”
Hoseok laughed, and Jimin decided he would blame any color on his face on the hearth.
“You can relax, you know. It’s party.”
“Well yes, but I mean I /am/ working,” Jimin said with a nervous laugh.
“I’m happy you’re here,” Hoseok said suddenly, and Jimin swore his stomach flipped.
“I–I should keep warming up. Your party starts soon.”
“Oh I know. Hey. Promise me you’ll come talk to me after your first set. Sound good?”
“...sure,” Jimin said slowly, smiling softly. He looked to Hoseok for a just a bit too long before excusing himself back the stage.
Hoseok smiled warmly up at him before smoothly walking out of the parlor. The moment he was out of sight, Jimin exhaled.

Jesus CHRIST, Tae was gonna die when he heard THIS.

He leaned toward the pianist, requested another song, and sang with gusto.

Hoseok was listening.
~
Holy shit, Hoseok didn’t know how the hell he’d actually made it out of the den without stumbling. How he’d spoken without stuttering. He leaned against the wall and breathed as if he’d sprinted.

Jimin...was a person.

The most beautiful, adorable person Hoseok had ever seen.
Keep it together, Jung. You can’t be all lovey-dovey all day. You can’t be thinking about Park Jimin and his pretty smile and the way his cheeks turned red when he’d been told to call him hyung, /he called him hyung/–

God, /chill/. Jimin was a person. He was here to do a job.
Right now Hoseok’s job was to enjoy Jimin. Enjoy his talent and person while he was here. He didn’t have a game plan, but he was already happier than he’d been in months.

His thoughts stopped as Jimin started a new song, and Hoseok smiled a wobbly smile.

Oh...this was bad...
[FOR REAL, Will Update Tomorrow 💜]
So Hoseok was /supposed/ to be mingling. Standing next to his father as nice a ‘respectable son’-shaped prop while the old man schmoozed.

What Hoseok /was/ doing was sitting on the sofa, back straight, eyes focused on Jimin, smiling as if every song were meant for him alone.
He couldn’t place Jimin’s voice into just one category. It possessed the warmth of a stove simmering your favorite meal but sometimes also the shocking chill of diving into an icy pool. Light and playful, heavy and controlled.

And the way he swayed.

God.
Hoseok could tell he wanted to dance, to /move/, but the stage’s size wouldn’t allow for anything terribly elaborate. It was almost criminal, forcing Jimin to hold back like this.

But he didn’t seem to mind.

At least, that’s what Hoseok thought when their eyes met.
Such pretty eyes. Dark, earthy brown eyes that met with Hoseok’s, and he could swear, he would swear, Jimin would sing a little louder. A little more passionately.

Hoseok would smile up to him, and Jimin would look away, smiling in a way that made those brown eyes almost vanish.
Every so often his attention would be torn from the man on stage, a relative approaching him, or his presence needed somewhere else.

But he always returned Jimin. Glances shared across the room, as if it were their own secret world.

Their own private indulgence.
And then Jimin sang that bird song again, the one he’d sang long before any other person had darkened the door. The one that had more or less bewitched Hoseok, pulled him to the den like a siren sends a sailor to the rocks.
Hoseok watched in total reverie, forgetting for a moment to breathe. When he finally exhaled it was into a smile.

Park Jimin.

Park Jimin.

“Hoseok.”

A voice snapped him out of his head, a tug to his arm pulling him away, what—!?

Oh. His father.
Hoseok groaned, pulling himself out of the grip and snapping, “What?”
“You’re hardly socializing.”
“Am I not in the room?”
“Your aunt told me you barely spoke two words to her.”
“I didn’t have anything to say!”
“Hoseok, sooner or later you need to—“

His father’s voice faded...
“Thank you, everyone, I’ll be taking a quick break. In the meantime, our talented Ji-Hoo will keep the music going. I hope everyone’s having a good time, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to hy–...H-Hoseok-nim.”
/Fuck/.

Hoseok was just nodding at this point, processing none of the scolding he was receiving

“I’ll be better,” he rushed vaguely, patting his father’s arm and more or less darting away. Ignoring the stern call of his name behind him.
/He/‘was stepping down from the stage.

Hoseok made for the refreshments.

/He/ was stooped, smiling and bowing to Hoseok’s near-drunken aunt, who must have praised his singing.

Hoseok poured a shot of Soju and downed it as if he actually liked it.

He didn’t, but he needed it.
Because here /he/ came, moving through the crowd, finding Hoseok easily. Eyes sparkling, smiling a small excited smile. The rush of a job well done.

Of meeting someone new.

For the second time today, Hoseok felt as if he would vomit, but...it wasn’t an unpleasant anxiety.
Then he was in front of Hoseok, smiling that smile, looking up at him, looking at him as if he could see right through him.

“Hello, Hoseok-hyung.”

God.

Hoseok laughed lightly, nerves rising as he started pouring another shot.
“/You/ are something /else/,” he praised, passing the tiny glass to Jimin, whose eyes widened before he looked sheepishly to the side.

“Thank you,” he murmured, taking the shot in his hand gingerly before hesitating.

“Is this–? I mean, I’m working–“
“It’s my party. Go ahead.”
Jimin didn’t need to be told twice. He nodded, smoothly downing the shot. Jimin, it seemed, did like soju.

He smiled at Hoseok, who smiled back.

...and they just stayed like that for a good moment before Jimin tilted his head, eyes teasing.

“You wanted to talk to me, hyung..?”
“YES, yes, I mean—“ Hoseok blurted, laughing and looking down to his empty shot before nodding seriously back to Jimin. “Yes, I did.”

And then Jimin laughed, and Hoseok decided if he died right now, he wouldn’t care in the slightest.

“Well. I’m here,” Jimin all but whispered.
Oh yeah, at this rate, Hoseok wasn’t gonna survive the night. He opened his mouth, ready to start...this, whatever /this/ was, this exhilarating /thing/.

“I—“
“Hoseok.”

Their heads whipped to the side, and there was Hoseok’s father, still a ways away but coming for them.

No.
“Let me show you the kitchen, are you hungry??” Hoseok babbled, taking Jimin’s hand without thinking and pulling him away, out of the den, heart racing as he heard the bubble of laughter close behind him.
~
Jimin wasn’t a lightweight by any means. He knew this fluttery feeling in his head and stomach had zero to do with soju, with stage nerves.

Hoseok guided him down hall after hall, further and further from the party until they were alone in a large, clean, silvery kitchen.
At the center of an island countertop was an enormous tiered cake, smooth with a dark green fondant and white trimming. Twenty-four candles arranged perfectly bottom to top.

“We should be good here,” Hoseok said to himself, looking back to Jimin with smile.
Good from what, Jimin didn’t know, but if anything, he was grateful for a moment’s peace away from all the noise.

If anything, escaping like that had felt thrilling.

“...ah, Hyung–“

Jimin lightly squeezed Hoseok’s hand...because they were still holding hands.
Jimin would have been disappointed at how quickly Hoseok let go were it not for the flustered little “Ah, sorry, sorry” he responded with. Jimin hid a giggle behind his hand.

How could such a good-looking guy be this cute?

Jimin set his cup down, walking around the space.
“Everything’s so clean,” he complimented, and Hoseok hummed, hopping up to sit on the counter.

“Soo-Hee does good work.”
“Mm...”

Jimin’s attention turned to the cake towering above them.

“This, too?”
“Oh no, that was ordered. My mother’s friend runs a patisserie.”
“I see.”
...

Hoseok was /very/ cute. He also seemed very nervous. Lucky for him, Jimin was feeling rather confident today.

He rounded the counter, taking a firm grip on its edge as he pushed himself up to sit beside Hoseok, who looked surprised.

“So. You hate operas?”
“I—how did—?”
“Soo-Hee was telling me about you,” Jimin confessed with a knowing grin, but that’s all he’d say. He didn’t want to embarrass Hoseok, just loosen him up a little.
“Ah, no, I don’t—I mean...i-it just wouldn’t have been my first choice.”
Jimin hummed, the pieces fitting together.

“Eh. I don’t blame you.”
“You’re not offended?”
“Why would I be offended!?” Jimin laughed. “Everyone has their tastes. I can admit opera’s a little stuffy. Not to mention the divas you deal with backstage...”
Jimin looked up, eyes on the clean white ceiling before his attention was brought back to the man beside him.
“When did you start dancing?”
“Fourteen.“
“Really??”
“Mm. Late start, right?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to—“
“It’s fine, hyubg,” Jimin laughed, patting his back. “You’re fine.”
“That’s what everyone said. That I started too late. That I didn’t have the training or the muscle strength that kids who’d been at it since they were five had...”

Jimin paused, thoughts brimming before he finished simply with a shrug.

“They were right. It was hard.”
“But you’re in that world now,” Hoseok stated softly, and Jimin smiled. “You proved them wrong.”
“Eh...honestly I can’t say much.”

Jimin suddenly wished he had another shot to shoot.

“Even talent and hard work doesn’t open a lot of doors these days. I got lucky.”
“I can sing well enough. My dancing is fine—“
“Your dancing is incredible,” Hoseok stopped him, and again, Jimin just smiled.
“You’re too nice, Hyung.”
“I’m being honest!”

That’s when Jimin’s smile fell, because Hoseok was looking at him seriously.
“I love dancing. I /wish/ I could do it, I’d love to do it, but no one would ever listen to me. It’s too late for me at this point. So I watch routine videos, I pseudo-study, I see the movements, I know all the techniques, but not physically. And I’ve never seen anyone like you.”
“You’re incredible, Jimin-ah.”
Jimin hopped down from the counter, breaths shaky as he put his hands together to hide how badly they shook. He’d needed to get away from Hoseok before he did something he’d possibly regret.

“Thank you,” he murmured at first, then he spoke clearly, “What does your family do?”
“Ah—well...to be honest I don’t really know. And don’t care,” Hoseok explained, his bluntness surprising him. “Dad’s focus is manufacturing and sales of motor vehicles and parts, and Mom is...Mom. She has connections everywhere. It’s not interesting or exciting.”
“I see...”
“That was my dad I got us away from, by the way.”
“Oh, really? He seemed...well—”
“He’s pissed. Trust me, it’s nothing new,” Hoseok finished, and Jimin almost snorted.
“And he’s why you were at the opera.”
“Yeah,” Hoseok confirmed. “A punishment he said wasn’t a punishment.”
“It doesn’t seem like it was a punishment by the end of it at least,” Jimin teased, his confidence coming back at high speed. Hoseok grinned.
“Still not my taste in music, but as far as dancers go—“
“What /is/ your music taste?” Jimin cut him off. He couldn’t take more praise.
Hoseok’s eyes widened, grin growing brighter as he started fishing in his pocket. Jimin could sense the excitement and realized he’d asked a very good question. Soon there was a phone and a pair of earbuds he was working to untangle in his hands

“Come over here.”
Jimin stepped closer to Hoseok and put in the buds that were handed to him

Oh. Well this certainly wasn’t opera. Or pop, or rock, or funk. Maybe R&B? No. Hip-hop? It had a good intro, a beat that made Jimin nod his head in time.

“Who is this?”

Hoseok turned the phone around.
“‘RM’.”
“Kim Namjoon,” Hoseok added, a tinge of pride in his voice. “This guy is incredible ”
“So you like hip hop?”
“Well I mean he’s not /just/ hip-hop, he’s everything. But yeah.”

Jimin grinned, returning the headphones.

“So a hip-hop fan gets dragged to a stuffy opera...”
It all made sense now. Hoseok was disenchanted, bored, probably a little repressed, and as it so happened, a night meant to be a punishment ended up being extremely meaningful.

For the both of them.

“Hoseokie-hyung’s a rebel who doesn’t go by the system,” Jimin teased.
“‘Hoseokie-hyu—‘“ Hoseok repeated, losing his syllables in giggling laughter that sounded more like hiccuping, and Jimin’s stomach swooped. Finally he calmed down, hopping down to stand with Jimin, expression changed to amused annoyance.

“That’s certainly what my father thinks.”
Jimin leaned against the refrigerator, feeling he cold steel vaguely through his shirt.
“When I told my parents I wanted to pursue dance you’d have thought I’d said I wanted to go study clownery,” he confided. “But I made them understand. I moved out. I audition as often I can.”
“Oh man if I could even /begin/ to make Dad understand,” Hoseok sighed, laughing bitterly, and Jimin frowned. He hadn’t meant to bring the mood down.
“I’m sorry...”
“Don’t worry, it’s nothing you did. It’s always been like this...so...what do you do when you’re not auditioning?
Jimin straightened his back, putting on a false bravado that made Hoseok raise an eyebrow.

“You’re looking at the second best barista in Seoul.”
“Really? Wait, second best?”
“The best goes to my friend Taehyung. Seriously, he’s amazing. We could get slammed and he’s got it.”
Jimin grinned sheepishly.

“Actually, I was supposed to work /today/, but—some things take precedent.”
“It’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission,” Hoseok replied, and Jimin nodded.
“I figured I could either work the double shift or...I could come here and sing for you.”
“But the real question is, now that you /know/ me,” Hoseok started, a tone of teasing in his voice, though Jimin could tell there was something else lacing the coming question, “would you do it again?”
“I would,” Jimin replied softly. No hesitation.
A long silence followed. The piano music was faint, and Jimin wondered how much time had passed. He knew it wasn’t time for his second set. People were probably wondering where he’d gone, where Hoseok had run off to.

Not that Jimin cared for them.

But then there were footsteps.
Their gazes turned to the hall, then back to each other, eyes wide before they hit the deck. They crawled fast, hiding behind the far end of the counter as the clicking of heels drew closer.

Hoseok was holding Jimin’s hand again, and this time Jimin wouldn’t say /shit/ about it.
Two women, talking about something, the refreshments, mindless chatter, voices a little slurred. Critiquing the food and atmosphere. Thankfully nothing about the music. The sound of pouring liquids and tinkly glasses. More steps.

The boys ducked to the other side of the counter.
Finally, mercifully, they left. Hoseok stood, helping Jimin up once the coast was clear...and they laughed. Loudly. Fully. For a moment Jimin had felt like a kid again, trying to sneak pudding before dinner.

He laughed so hard he lost his balance, Hoseok catching him quickly.
~
Everything that had transpired in the past hour was inexplicable to Jung Hoseok.

Jimin was inexplicable, and yet Hoseok wanted to give him everything and anything.

What had Hoseok done to deserve this exact moment where the cutest guy in Korea was giggling into his chest?
He wanted to kiss him.

He’d wanted to kiss him for the ten minutes they were hiding from his drunk aunts.

When Jimin had said that he was just lucky.

When he‘d listened to Namjoon.

Inexplicable.

Terrifying.
But he couldn’t kiss him. He still barely knew him, and he wanted to know more. That was even scarier, Hoseok needed to know more. He wanted to hear about this Taehyung person. The coffee shop. Jimin’s home in the city. Jimin’s family, Jimin’s life, Jimin, Jimin, Jimin—

“Hyung.”
Hoseok swallowed. Jimin was looking right into him, traces of laughter still left in his face, his hair mussed from where he’d grazed Hoseok. His cheeks were splotched with color. He made no effort to leave where he was. Still in Hoseok’s arms. Still far too close. Too beautiful.
...fuck it.
Hoseok kissed Jimin knowing it would ruin him from anyone else for the rest of his life. Knowing he’d never felt this way before and never would again.

He was relieved that Jimin was quick to wrap his arms around his shoulders, pulling him closer as Hoseok took him by the waist.
It was a slow, careful kiss. Jimin’s lips were so soft, Hoseok couldn’t imagine wanting to stop for anything other than air, and even that was only out of necessity.

Every now and then Jimin would make a little sound, these little hums that made Hoseok’s stomach twist and turn.
And then it was over.

The two broke apart, both a little breathless, a little flushed, a little shy.

Inexplicable.

“.../wow/,” Jimin whispered, smiling, voice shaky from excitement. Hoseok felt his fingers curling into his hair. “Do you do this with all your special guests?”
“Only the pretty ones,” Hoseok murmured as he rubbed the small of Jimin’s back, happy that his answer had made Jimin giggle.

Giggle and kiss him again.

Hoseok pulled Jimin flush to his body, feeling lightheaded when Jimin licked at his lips, opened his mouth for him.
Jimin’s back was against counter, probably not very comfortable, so Hoseok lifted him (secret enjoying the surprised “Aah!” sound Jimin made) and sat him on top of the island.

Hoseok hadn’t realized what a great decision he’d made until he felt Jimin’s legs wrap around his body.
No alcohol could ever do what Jimin was doing to him. He was lost in a headiness he’d never known. This wasn’t lust. Everything had just happened so damn fast. He liked Jimin, he /really/ liked Jimin.

“I really like you,” he confessed in a breath. As if it weren’t obvious.
Jimin nodded when he pulled away to breathe, “Me, too” before moving kissing Hoseok again. Clearly he was also feeling inexplicable.

Hoseok wished he could really feel Jimin, but his shirt was tucked in, plus he had another set soon. They couldn’t do anything /too/ crazy.
They couldn’t do anything too crazy, and Hoseok didn’t know what came after this.

Would Jimin perform his final set and go home? Would Hoseok ever see him again after that?

Would Jimin /want/ to see him again after this?

The future didn’t matter. Not here in the now.
click click click.
Hoseok took his attention to Jimin’s neck, careful not to mess up his collar as he sucked a spot roughly.

“Aah, /hyung/,” Jimin whined, arms tightening around him. “You’ll leave a mark...”

Ugh, he was right. Hoseok kept the mantra going, Jimin has a set, Jimin has a set...
click click click click
Hoseok took to him gently, loving the way Jimin was giving him perfect access to kiss his neck and throat, loving how he breathed and whispered little demands.

“...want you to touch me...”

What was Hoseok going to do? Say no?
click
Hoseok was bewildered and concerned when Jimin gasped and scuttled off the counter the moment Hoseok had palmed his crotch. He looked past him, eyes wide, face blanched.

“Whoah, are you okay?? I–I‘m so sorry, I thought you were—I didn’t mean to—“

“Hoseok...” came a new voice.
The warmth in Hoseok’s body, already plummeting from seeing Jimin look so shaken, fully died upon hearing the sound of his mother’s voice behind him.

He whirled.

She looked as shaken as Jimin, totally frozen, pale as a ghost, looking between the two, mouth ope, but silent.
“.../Mom/,” Hoseok started, voice weak.
“‘/Mom/?’” Jimin parroted hoarsely behind him.

“Mom, listen—“
“Your father is looking for you,” she interrupted, voice forced. She looked to Jimin for a moment before looking back to her son.

“...don’t make him come looking for you.”
And she turned, her heels clicking quickly as she hurried out.

“Mom, /wait, Mom, please, I can—“

Hoseok was already running after her but stopped short, whirling around to look at Jimin again.

“...I’m—I’m sorry.”

Jimin stared, breathing “Go” as struggled to collect himself.
~
Jimin clutched the counter, knuckles white as he watched Hoseok race out of the kitchen. Then Jimin’s legs collapsed, and he fell to the floor. He covered his mouth, hand trembling as the last forty seconds played over and over in his head.

He’d fucked up.

He’d fucked up.
His /mother/. Of all the people at this godforsaken party, Hoseok’s /mother/ had walked in on them.

Jimin stood, legs wobbly. He needed to find a bathroom. Someplace with a lock, someplace to calm down.

He pulled out his phone.

Forty-five minutes until his set.

/Fuck/.
[Will Update Later Tonight/Tomorrow Morning 💜]
[Clearing up any misunderstandings.

Homophobia does not exist in this au.

The reaction of recent events is based solely on the fact Jimin is of lower social status, the hired entertainment, and the whole thing was just plain shocking and awkward to walk in on.]
~
Park Jimin had kissed Jung Hoseok, a person he didn’t really know, in the kitchen of the latter’s beautiful home.

He’d been willing to let Jung Hoseok do much more with him in that kitchen. Or perhaps elsewhere in the home.

This, despite not knowing anything about Jung Hoseok.
Well...that wasn’t fair to say. Jimin, who was now huddled and hiding out in a spacious washroom, recollected the last few hours.

Hoseok was...kind. He was kind, cute when he was nervous. Considerate. His laugh made Jimin so delighted it almost invoked him to laugh.
‘He‘s gentle,’ Jimin thought, sparks of warmth shooting through his stomach. Gentle and sweet...not just with his words, his hands as well.

...what /was/ this...?

This wasn’t a date. It didn’t /feel/ like some fling, at least not to Jimin. It was inexplicable.
Jimin had never been the type to get wrapped up in someone so quickly. To just...open up to someone like he had. It was Hoseok, something about him, his glittering eyes or his tender smile, or maybe both, /something/ about him made Jimin just...give.
‘I’m losing it,’ he lied to himself.

Jimin knew this was different.

There was a pure inexplicable magnetism between him and Hoseok, and it scared him almost as badly as the thought of facing the party again after what they’d done.

What the hell was he going to do?
Five until his set.

Jimin stood, legs sore from the lack of movement, and he looked at himself in the mirror. Fixed his hair. Smoothed his shirt.

The only regret he had was getting caught.

He left the washroom, every step he took feeling like one closer to his certain doom.
He followed the piano music, and Jimin’s heart raced.

He didn’t know what terrified him more, the thought of everyone at the party knowing what they’d done, or the thought of Hoseok regretting it, maybe pretending as if he didn’t know Jimin.

...no. Hoseok wasn’t like that.
He stopped short at the end of the hall when he saw a server wheeling that massive cake into the den on a trolley. He forced himself to hurry, and soon, he faced everyone.

And everyone...

...paid him absolutely no mind.
No dirty looks. No hushed gossip. Not even a glance in Jimin’s direction, and he realized if he wanted to keep it that way, he needed to act natural.

The first thing he did was pour himself another shot at the refreshments table...fuck it, two, and an older woman grinned at him.
He didn’t scan the crowd as he headed toward the stage, as badly as he wanted to. By some force of god, by the time he was gripping the microphone, the tremble in his fingertips had vanished.

“Hello everyone, glad to be back. How’s everyone liking the party?”

Polite golf claps.
“Well...as I’m sure we all know,” Jimin continued with an air of cool confidence, again, refusing to look around, “today is a very special day for a very special someone—“

He’d had this speech planned before meeting Hoseok. Before knowing what his lips felt like on his throat.
And then the crowd parted naturally, more polite golf clapping.

And there he was.

Looking right at Jimin, who almost forgot he needed to keep speaking.

“—let’s all take a moment to wish our Hoseok-nim a very happy birthday. One, two—“

The room erupted into the birthday song.
As Jimin stepped back to sing, not wanting to overpower the room with the mic, he watched Hoseok take in the attention.

He could only blow out the candles on the lowest tier of the cake, the rest fanned out by servers.

His smile seemed so forced that it made Jimin’s heart ache.
“Happy birthday, Hoseok-nim,” Jimin spoke to the room, and he realized Hoseok wasn’t looking at him anymore, but at his mother, who was sitting quietly on the sofa.

The heartache turned into a lurch.

But Jimin had a job to do.

All he could do was watch and sing.
~
No one knew.

Only his mother knew.

It had been her suggestion that no one else know.

‘Its best to keep these things to ourselves, Hoseok.’

So...he was safe. He and Jimin were safe.

So why did he feel so shameful? So dirty?

It wasn’t because of Jimin. How could it be?
Jimin was beautiful, Jimin /is/ beautiful. He was open and honest, so naturally full of energy. Hoseok would do anything to hear him laugh again. That was what he liked about Jimin. Not just his soft lips, or his eyes, his hair, not just his looks. Hoseok liked those, too, but...
Hoseok knew /this/, this feeling burning deep in his body, was different, and it was impossible to ignore when /he/ was so close to Hoseok, singing something mellow, something raw.

Hoseok couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
He wanted to kiss Jimin again.

He wanted to take Jimin away and kiss him again and again and again.

He wanted to dance with him, laugh with him, talk with him, share life with him. /Enjoy/ life with him.

Hoseok had never truly envisioned a happy future for himself until today.
But what could he do?

The issue with his mother was somewhat patched, but it still wasn’t sitting right with Hoseok; she hadn’t let him get in a word, just kept brushing it off, ‘I’m not angry. It’s best to keep these things to ourselves. Your father doesn’t need to know.’
Did she think Hoseok had just decided to fool around with the party’s singer? Hoseok knew what fooling around felt like. It was childish rushes, nothing meant anything.

Jimin hadn’t felt like that. Jimin /meant/ something.

He was far more than a private school bathroom fling.
He’d wanted to say so much to his mother, and yet he didn’t know how. He didn’t know how this had happened, what he was feeling. And it felt horrible to keep it down, to have it dismissed.

...but it was better than any other alternative.
Hoseok couldn’t stomach cake right now. He didn’t even bother to put it somewhere safe, he just set his plate on the nearest table and sped from the room. He couldn’t look at him anymore. Couldn’t listen.

He found the back door and gasped at the thin, blistering cold.
He shivered, welcoming it thoroughly, the feeling almost soothing.

He heard the door open behind him, followed by “Hoseok!”

His mother.

“Hoseok, come back inside before you catch something.”
“I-I’ll be f-f-fine—“
“Jung Hoseok, I’m not going inside until you do.”
Hoseok turned, seeing his mother was mirroring him, arms crossed for warmth, shivering.

“Mom–”
“I m-mean it!”

Hoseok hesitated before moving past her, back towards the door and holding it open for her as she hustled back into the house. It slammed, shuttering the cold out
He watched her rub her arms to bring the warmth back, a halfhearted scowl on her face.

“Honestly, you’re as impulsive as your father–“
“I just needed to be alone for a–”
“You couldn’t be alone in a warm room? Inside the house?”
“It was too warm in the house, I’m sorry, I just–!”
His voice cracked and any disapproval melted from his mother’s face.

Neither said a word. Hoseok knew if he kept speaking he would cry, and his mother...

In the end, she moved to him and hugged him, a gesture he returned slowly.
“...I don’t know what to say to you,” she spoke, voice warbling. “I don’t know what you’re going through. I want to know, I want to help, but I don’t know if I’d know how...how can a mother not help her son?”

It was as if Hoseok were struck by a tidal wave, drowning him slowly.
Suddenly she pulled back, her hands on his shoulders. She looked so lost, so pained.

Hoseok was 20,000 leagues under, pressure crushing him, dying, all light gone.

But then she spoke again.

”Were you happy today, Hoseok? Did—...did he make you happy?”
Jimin made Hoseok happy.

Jimin made him feel like there was more to go after in life, like life was more than just a ticking clock.

Jimin made him feel inspired, even if Hoseok felt it was too late to chase his passion.

Jimin had moved him from the moment Hoseok had seen him.
“Yes,” was all Hoseok could say his voice breaking.
Hoseok watched, waited.

His mother was unreadable, looking like she might cry.

He hadn’t wanted this.

He’d never wanted this.

He needed to apologize, he’d vow never do anything like this again, never see Jimin again, even if it killed him, just so she would never think—
“That’s all I want is for you to be happy, son.”
She stepped away from Hoseok, leaving him stunned, silent, as she took several breaths.

It was worrying, how quickly she’d managed to compose herself.

“Don’t take too long coming back to the party. It’s yours, after all.”

And then she was gone, the click of her heels fading.
Hoseok walked back to the den in a total daze. Everything seemed off, the music, the colors. Relatives patted him as he walked past, as he sat down near the table.

Jimin still sang. He still swayed. Still seemed totally in control, unbothered...he really was a good performer.
...what was Jimin even thinking right now? He didn’t need to imagine how anxious he must be. He’d gone back to the kitchen to find him after finding his mother, but Jimin had vanished.

Hoseok briefly panicked, thinking Jimin had gone home, left the house altogether.
But no, he was stlll here.

Hoseok wondered if it was only out of obligation to the job, if in that time he’d come to realize he’d made a mistake. That maybe he regretted what had happened.

...no, Jimin wasn’t like that. Hoseok knew whatever /this/ was...it was mutual.
Hoseok knew now for certain, unlike the first set, that Jimin was singing for him. To him.

His attention was pulled away by the sound of clapping; one his aunts whooped and was clapping to beat, something that others around followed suit, until Hoseok was clapping, too.
It was like some kind of magic; he could see Jimin relax, the mask lifting. A soft smile on his face as he sang. As he met Hoseok’s eyes from across the crowd, but only for a moment. Only as long as he could.

And that was enough for Hoseok to feel the weight lift from his soul.
Hoseok glanced to his mother, who sat a few tables away.

She was clapping, too, eyes fixed on Jimin. Studying him silently. Listening to his song.

Hoseok was startled when she turned to look at him, freezing.

After a moment, she looked back to Jimin, a small smile on her face.
...maybe...just maybe, everything would be okay.
The set continued without issue. The hyping from Hoseok’s drunk aunts continued, not disrupting Jimin but encouraging him, to the point he almost laughed onstage.

Song after song after song, the party loose with alcohol and in Hoseok’s little cousins’ cases, sugar.
Every time Jimin brought his gaze to him Hoseok felt like he could ascend. Now more than ever, he wanted nothing more than to kiss the daylights out of him.

He didn’t know if he’d be able to explain everything before Jimin left.

No...that couldn’t be the end of it. Of this.
He moved toward one of the larger tables, one where an enormous card sat with several pens and markers, a large birthday card that everyone was meant to sign for him. What he’d do with it later, Hoseok didn’t know, but he did know he was taking one of these pens, pocketing it.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been a wonderful crowd. I want to thank the Jungs for inviting me to perform for you all. Aah...should I thank Hoseok-nim for being born?”

A laugher rippled through the crowd, and Hoseok chuckled, writing feverishly on a napkin.
“Thank you again. Please be safe going home. Good night.”
~
It was over.

Jimin stepped down, grunting when he received a hard slap on the back from the pianist.

“Now /that/ was some /music/.”
“You as well” Jimin laughed quietly. Several of Hoseok’s relatives came up, praising him, and Jimin felt pride. Happiness.

He’d really done it.
And then he saw him just outside the den, and Jimin’s heart burst, he made straight for him, lowering his voice.

“Hyung, I–“
“That was excellent work, Jimin-ah.”

Confusion set in. Jimin wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but it wasn’t this. Hoseok looked so...casual. Unaffected.
“It /was/ rather impressive,” came a new voice, and Jimin stiffened, turning to see the man they’d fled from only a few hours ago. Hoseok’s father was smiling, but it seemed disingenuous, as if he were biting his tongue.

“Thank you again for the opportunity, sir,” Jimin replied.
“Oh don’t thank me, thank my son. I would have never hired an amateur, but Hoseok insisted it be you who performed tonight, and since it’s his party...well, I suppose you’re lucky I didn’t have the final say, haha. But you proved yourself well enough.”

Jimin‘s body went cold.
“More than enough,” Hoseok corrected, and Jimin swallowed.

“In any case, good work,” Hoseok’s father sighed. “I’ve already arranged for someone to take you home, they should be arriving shortly.”

He extended his hand and Jimin took it gently, “Thank you, sir.”
He turned, seeing Hoseok had his hand out.

...this wasn’t right. It couldn’t end like this. Not with forced smiles and polite handshakes. Not without answers. Not without...something.

“Thank you, Hoseok-nim,” Jimin murmured, taking Hoseok’s hand for the third time that day.
And when he felt something between their grips, he only hesitated for a second. Something soft and thin, and he suddenly couldn’t look anywhere but Hoseok’s eyes, his warm smile.

“Thank /you/, Jimin-ah. You really are something else.”
Jimin was quick to hide whatever he was taking from Hoseok, balling his fist, and suddenly there was a honk from outside.

“Ah, I’ll see you out,” Hoseok offered quickly, and Jimin nodded.

“Have a safe trip home,” Hoseok’s father stated automatically before returning to the den.
The two walked to the foyer, passing guests in coats, neither looking at the other. Jimin received a few passing compliments, Hoseok a few happy birthdays, until soon Hoseok was helping Jimin get his coat on.

“I can’t follow you,” he murmured by his ear, and Jimin understood.
They stepped back from each other, taking each other in for a long while before Hoseok bowed.

“Until next time.”

Next time.

Jimin smiled, bowing and speaking softly.

“I look forward to it, hyung.”
Hoseok opened the door for him, both flinching as the air blasted into the house, and Jimin hurried out. He didn’t look back, but the light from the foyer was still shining out. Hoseok was still watching. Jimin could faintly hear his relatives complaining, and it made him giggle.
Jimin couldn’t get into the car fast enough, stuttering his address to his driver and he let the warmth wash over him.

He took a moment as the car drove away, just to breathe. To think.

He finally opened his fist, finding a crumpled napkin. He dug for his phone, needing light.
/If you don’t mind, call me back/
And a phone number.
Jimin exhaled, relieved, his hand over his mouth to hide his grin, muffling the small sound of delight he’d made. Electricity coursed through his body.

He wondered when he would wake up. When the dream would end.

But the new contact in his phone was real. And Jimin was awake.
~
Hoseok tossed his phone from palm to palm, never more anxious about it going off than now. He’d thought the night Namjoon’s mixtape dropped had made him a nervous wreck, /that/ was /nothing/ compared to what he was feeling now.

Then his phone buzzed, startling him to curse.
Hoseok bolted up the stairs to his room, heart racing. Thank God. Oh, everything really had turned out perfectly. His breaths were quick as he locked his bedroom door, pulled off his stupid tie, and sat on his bed. First things first, he added Jimin into his phone properly.
Did people say thanks when receiving selfies? Hoseok definitely felt grateful.

Jimin was so pretty...

Wait, he should send one back. Which one...it had to be perfect.
The typing bubble appeared and disappeared. Jimin must be thinking of something to say.

Hoseok suddenly felt very self-conscious, how he didn’t know. It had seemed like they were past appearances. The picture was silly, wasn’t it? He’d thought he looked cute, but what if—

Ping.
Oh.

Hoseok suddenly felt very silly, flustered as he lied back on his bed, face half buried in his pillow.
...

Hoseok hit send and tossed his phone to the foot of his bed like it was a live grenade.

He’d been feeling this guy up only hours ago, and here he was /terrified/ of saying he was cute. What the hell was wrong with him!?

Hoseok squeaked as his phone started to ring. /Fuck/.
Hoseok cleared his throat and hurriedly plugged in his earbuds. Okay. Okay. You can do this. Just hit answer.

He hit answer.

“Hey,” he said, feigning calm.

“Hi,” came Jimin’s soft voice, and Hoseok swore he could hear his smile. Hoseok laid himself down again.
“Your note said to call, so I’m calling...you’re smart, hyung.”
“Yeah, well,” Hoseok laughed, taking a little pride, “I couldn’t just let you go.”
“I didn’t want to go...”
“I know...”

There was a beat, and then finally the question of the hour came in one word.

“So...?”
Hoseok swallowed, feeling affirmed and secure. The question was, would Jimin?

“Mom and I talked about it. She’s—I mean, she wasn’t even mad. Right now she seems pretty okay with it.”
“It?”

/Us./

“The whole thing” Hoseok answered.
“Okay...I feel better...I’m sorry.”
“For what?”
“I shouldn’t’ve—it wasn’t right for me to—“

It was as if Jimin had heard Hoseok’s heart sinking, because Jimin started backtracking.

“I mean, not that I didn’t enjoy it! I-I...actually /really/ enjoyed it.“
“Yeah?” Hoseok pushed, heart pounding.
“I’m sorry things got awkward.”
“It’s not your fault,” Hoseok said. “I’m the one that kissed you, anyway,” he added, voice softening, and he smiled as Jimin’s laugh bubbled through his earbuds.

“I kept wondering when you would. I wondered if you wanted to.”
“Oh I wanted to.”

Hoseok felt the words come easily.
“When I saw you singing again, that’s all I wanted to do was kiss you.”
“/Hyung/...”

Hoseok couldn’t believe himself, the things he was saying. It was like something out of those sappy dramas his mother watched. But he meant it, especially when Jimin sounded so cute.
“That’s sweet, Hyung. I mean, there was a bit more I thought of doing with you, but...”

...

...Jimin didn’t sound so cute anymore.

Hoseok remembered exactly where they’d left off in the kitchen and a chill shot up his spine.

“Oh? Like what?”
“Hm...I can’t seem to remember.”
“When can I see you again?” Hoseok blurted, and he could tell it caught Jimin by surprise by the way he laughed.

“Well, I can send you the address to my shop if you’d like to see me, or if you just want some coffee.”
“I’d like both.”
“And you can meet Tae.”
“I’d like that, too.”
His phone buzzed, and Hoseok saw he had a notification that was a location.

“Maybe you can be a new regular~”
“Maybe.”

“Oh, it’s this one here, yeah,” he heard Jimin say, voice faint, away from the receiver, then fully, “Made jt home.”
“Nice. Was I good company?”
“Mmhm.”
Hoseok had been so afraid to answer the phone, now he didn’t want to hang up. He heard Jimin make a small sound of discomfort, probably from the cold as he hurried into his building.

“Should...I let you go?”
“Mm...I haven’t gotten to my room yet, so—“
“Oh yeah, of course.”
“What’s your building like?”
“Ah...it’s 20 stories, I’m on the 14th. My upstairs neighbor has kids that run around a lot and my downstairs neighbor is a total recluse.”
“Really?”
“Borderline hikikomori.”

Hoseok heard an elevator ding.

“I’ve only seen the guy once.”
“Geez...”
“I mean he /must/ work from home, or maybe his parents pay his rent? I don’t know. Even the lobby guy says he’s only seen him a couple times. Says he has all his groceries delivered. Always pays rent on time. I mean, there’s nothing wrong, just, I dunno. Being alone like that...”
Hoseok hummed. He could sort of understand that feeling, wanting to just cut yourself off from everything and everyone. But living like that didn’t sound very fulfilling.

A person needed people.

“He sounds interesting,” was all he could really say. Jimin hummed in agreement.
Hoseok heard keys jingling, a door opening, and silence. He didn’t say anything, but for some reason he expected to hear a dog barking, or maybe for Jimin to greet a roommate. Instead, simple silence.

Hoseok didn’t know why that made him feel sad, but it did.

“I’m ho~me.”
“Thank you for making sure I got home safe, Hyung,” Jimin said coyly. Hoseok grinned.

“It was my pleasure, Jiminie.”
“Ah...that sounds as nice as I thought it would...”
“You like it?”
“I do.”

“You know,” Hoseok added, “you told me about your neighbors. What’s /your/ room like?”
“I’ll show you sometime.”
“...oh,” Hoseok answered stupidly, and Jimin giggled.

God, he really /was/ ruined.

“I’m gonna go to bed. Good night, hyung.“

Hoseok smiled.

“Good night, Jiminie.”
“Sleep well.”
“You, too.”
“I’m glad you invited me.”
“I’m glad you came.”
“...”
“...”
“...bye.”
“Bye.
Hoseok pulled out his headphones, taking slow, calm, deep breaths.

He was cool. He was collected. He was—

His phone went off.
Hoseok turned his head into his pillow and screamed.

What had today even /been/!?
~
Jimin came up for air from the pillow he’d just finished screaming into.

What the absolute hell had his life /become/!?

His hands flew back to his phone. Oh Taehyung. /Kim Taehyung/. You’d better not be out with that Yoongi. If he didn’t pick up, Jimin might implode.
First ring.

“Heeey, there you are.
God, work was /awful/, you owe me. How‘d it go?”
“Tae you need to come over.”
“Oh no...Jimin, what happened? Was the kid a total brat?”
“Wasn’t a kid. It was a guy. Little older than us.”
“Oh?? That’s—“
“And I made out with him in his kitchen.”
Jimin flinched away from the earpiece, laughing and grinning as he Taehyung screamed “WHAT THE FUCK!?”

“YOU DID WHAT, OH MY GOD, I—“

He heard Taehyung pause.

“...I need to come over,” he said quickly. “Oh my god, I’m staying the fucking /night/, Park Jimin, you can’t just—!”
Jimin was happy listening to Taehyung babble, and knew he’d be happier once his friend arrived.

“I’ll see you soon.”
“Should I bring drinks?”
“Oh my god please. And snacks, too, I’m starving.”
“Got it. See you soon.”

Jimin hung up and fell back on his sofa, eyes on the ceiling.
He’d wondered what his life had become, but wasn’t the real question ‘What was his life becoming?’

He closed his eyes, going over today in his head, enjoying the warmth in his apartment, his chest. Enjoying the silence before it would undoubtedly be the wildest storytime /ever/.
[Will Update Tomorrow Morning 💜]
~
Every ring of the shop door’s bell brought excitement and almost immediate disappointment, at least in Taehyung‘s case. A pattern formed.

Diing. “Ah—aw.”
Diing. “/Ah/—ugh.”
Diing. “/AH/—oh come on!”

“They can’t all be him, Tae,” Jimin chuckled, fighting his own disappointment.
“Well /one/ of them has to be and I’m sick of waiting,” Taehyung pouted, leaning on the counter and glaring at the door.

Jimin hadn’t expected Hoseok to come right at opening or anything, but Jimin /had/ told him his schedule. Nothing had been set in stone, but still...
Diing. “Ah!—ooh...aaah!”

Jimin whipped from his station, Taehyung’s startled sound and what it meant making his heart skip.

But then it fell, but only just a little. In fact, he was actually a little excited.

“Hiii, Hyuuung,” Tae drawled as Min Yoongi came up to the counter.
So this was Min Yoongi in the flesh. Jimin suddenly truly realized what Taehyung meant when he said Jimin wasn’t his type.

This guy was short, /pale/ as the damn /moon/, and was dressed in black from head to, from his ballcap to his face mask to his leather jacket to his boots.
“I brought you lunch,” he said in a voice so deep Jimin’s eyes widened. Jimin stepped over as Yoongi passed Taehyung a small paper bag, which was taken with a shy smile.
“You’re too good to me, hyung~”
“Impossible.”
Taehyung giggled and leaned across the counter, poking the mask.
Jimin had to smother his laughter when he saw how quickly Yoongi’s face colored. The man pulled down his mask just for a moment, just long enough for Tae to peck his lips, and then up it went again. Taehyung grinned.

“I’m gonna go put this away. Hyung, Jimin. Jimin, Hyung.”
And Taehyung just left them. Yoongi, flustered, and Jimin, heavily amused.

“Hi.”
“Hey...”
“...so...I’m the friend.”
“He talks a lot about you.”
“He talks about you, too...you make music?”
“Mhm.”
“What kinda music?”
“Ah...little of everything.”
“Do you listen to—?”

“I’m back~!”
Oh thank /god/, that had been so awkward. Jimin didn’t visibly react but he did see Yoongi sigh in relief at Taehyung’s return.

What an odd pair. But Jimin couldn’t deny the guy was hot, and he seemed sweet. No wonder Tae was head over heels.

He was happy for them.
“What’d I miss?”
“I told him your darkest secrets,” Jimin answered without missing a beat.
“He told me everything, babe,” Yoongi deadpanned, perfectly playing along.

Oh, Jimin /loved/ this guy already.

“What!? Oh—/stop/! I don’t need you two ganging up on me!” Taehyung whined.
Jimin hugged his pouty friend, giggling “Sorry, sorry” as Yoongi chuckled behind his mask.

“I’ll save our table.”
“Do you want your usual?” Taehyung said, the words cute with his annoyance, and Jimin saw Yoongi’s eyes shine.

“Yes, please.”
“Fine...only because you said please.”
Jimin watched Yoongi go to the far table, and then he whistled quietly.

“He is /whipped/ for you.”
“I know,” Taehyung said, pout disintegrating into a devilish smile as he turned around. “He’s so cute. You should see him when we go out.”
Diing.

“We’re going out after my shift. He said he wants to take me to his studio~”
“Oh?”
“Mhm. I’m putting my phone on silent tonight,” Taehyung murmured, “just so you know...”

Jimin only nodded. Good luck, Tae.

The sound of someone clearing their throat caught his attention.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, how can I—?“ Jimin started into his spiel, but his customer service voice died the moment he saw who was at the counter.

There he was. Here he is.

Hoseok.

Looking as good as he had two days ago, only more casual.

“Cute apron,” he said with a grin.
Hoseok wore a white turtleneck, black jeans, and a black jacket. His hair looked a little fluffier than it had at the party, and his smile was...the exact same. Just as tender and genuine.

Jimin’s shock turned to simmering happiness, smile growing.

“Hyung,” he breathed.
“Oh my god is that him,” Taehyung whispered in a way that was too loud to be a proper whisper, his eyes wide.
“Yeah,” Jimin said in another breath, too surprised and too happy. Hoseok laughed.
“You must be Taehyung-ah.”
“I am! And you’re—you’re—!”

He pointed to Jimin furiously.
Hoseok laughed again, and Jimin was relieved. Most people didn’t appreciate Taehyung’s energy, his way of communicating, but so far, so good.

“I am. And I’m glad to see him.”
“I’m glad to see you, too,” Jimin replied.

God it’d only been two days, yet it’d felt so much longer.
They took each other in for a bit before Jimin remembered technically he was still working. Could he really be blamed?

“Can we get you anything?”
“Well, I /did/ want something to drink, buuut I was also wondering when you got off.”
“About another hour,” Jimin answered quickly.
“Perfect,” Hoseok replied with a grin, and Jimin’s heart soared.

“Now what to drink...“

And suddenly Taehyung was leaning close, staring him down.

“Ah—?“
“Ssh, he’s working,” Jimin explained with a grin, and Hoseok piped down, standing stiffly as Taehyung’s eyes bore into him.
About twenty seconds passed before Taehyung finally turned okay, murmuring “Okay” and getting to work. Jimin watched him with pride before looking to Hoseok, who looked amused and confused, a brow raised.

“Best barista in Seoul,” Jimin stated as Taehyung started foaming milk.
After a minute of foaming, syrup pumping, and stirring, Taehyung turned, extending a paper cup to Hoseok wordlessly, face expressionless.

“Thank you,” Hoseok laughed nervously, hesitantly taking his first sip, and Jimin fought off a grin.

...

“...holy shit, that’s /amazing/.”
“White mocha hot chocolate, three pumps caramel, half pump peppermint, three fourths milk, one fourth half-and-half, topped with whip and a pinch of cinnamon,” Taehyung rattled as he cleaned his station.

“You like Jiminie, so I figured you must like sweet things.”
“/Tae/-“
Hoseok laughed, a little embarrassed but clearly happy. Jimin pushed Taehyung lightly, who gave him a ‘That’s what you get,’ smile.

“Sound logic,” Hoseok confessed before taking another sip. “How much is this?”
“It’s on me,” Jimin hurried before Taehyung could tease more.
“I don’t think that’s any way to run a business, but thank you, both of you,” Hoseok teased, and Jimin just...couldn’t believe this was actually happening. Hoseok was here. In his space. Just the same, just as cute and sweet and—

“I’ll hang until you clock out.”
“Sounds great.”
He watched Hoseok choose a table near the wall, sharing another smile with him before turning back toward Taehyung and the machines.

And Taehyung looked /excited/.

“/He’s here/,” he whispered properly. Jimin nodded quickly.
“/I know/.”
“/We both have dates today/!”
“/I KNOW/.”
...oh God. Jimin had a /date/ today. He’d admittedly been taking a little longer with his morning beauty routine for the past two days, but that didn’t account for clothes. Jimin didn’t want to go out and about in his uniform.

They would have to go back to his place.
Taehyung’s phone beeping brought him out his planning.

“Ah, I’ll be back,” he squealed softly, finishing Yoongi’s usual right on time. Jimin watched Taehyung whip off his apron, duck into the back to grab his lunch, and pop out the door on the other side.
It was the first time he’d seen Taehyung interact with his new boyfriend. Taehyung cozied into the seat across from Yoongi, and seeing Yoongi take his hands right away surprised Jimin.

He noticed Hoseok was watching them, too, inquisitive before he seemed to shrug something off.
Hoseok was oblivious as Taehyung gestured to him a couple times, and as Jimin found Yoongi glancing between him and Hoseok, he knew Taehyung must have been filling him in.

Jimin smiled, moving to refill someone’s tea.

He really had some great people in his life, didn’t he?
The next hour went by without too much trouble. Hoseok would watch Jimin take orders, every so often their eyes meetkng, and they’d smile. Taehyung clocked back in with 30 minutes left of Jimin’s shift, but not before getting another kiss from Yoongi, who left shortly after.
“He’s picking you up, right?” Jimin asked, punching in his employee code, and Taehyung nodded.

As Jimin hung up his apron, Hoseok begin to stand.

‘I won’t call you,’ Taehyung mouthed silently, sweetly.
‘I won’t call /you/,’ Jimin responded the very same.

“Ready?” asked Hoseok.
“Been ready,” Jimin answered, zipping up his coat and moving to stand beside him. He smiled to Taehyung, who looked...probably about as happy as Jimin was when he’d been watching him and Yoongi.
“Have fun, Jiminie.”
“You, too.”

And he and Hoseok left, huddling close in the cold.
“I don’t know where we’re going,” Jimin started, looking at Hoseok, “but I wanna stop by my place if that’s okay. The uniform’s a little much.”
“You know I meant it when I said cute apron, right?” Hoseok teased. Jimin laughed, bumping him playfully.
“Well I’m cuter in a sweater.”
Hoseok smiled, but Jimin saw him suddenly look troubled, and he frowned, the both of them stopping on the sidewalk.
“Hyung? What’s wrong?”
“Can we step here for a second?”

Hoseok tilted his head toward a small, clean alley beside them, and though confused, Jimin nodded.
They a few steps in, and Jimin was suddenly worried. Was there another reason Hoseok had come to the city? Was he okay? He opened his mouth ask again if something had happened, but—

“I wanted to kiss you at the counter, but I wasn’t sure if that would’ve made you uncomfortable.”
Jimin stared for a moment, processing what he’d just heard before he and Hoseok met each other’s lips as if it’d been two years and not two days. He tasted sweet; Jimin would have to thank Taehyung for that later.

They held each other close, bodies warm as people passed by.
Jimin felt serene. Was this the date? If this was the date then that was fine. He didn’t even care that it was cold, not when Hoseok was holding him so close.

Hoseok broke away first, then kissed Jimin’s forehead, and he hummed. Jimin didn’t move.

“...okay. I feel better now.”
Jimin nuzzled his head under Hoseok’s chin with a laugh.

“Were you running on empty?”
“Actually, I think yeah?”

Hoseok took Jimin’s hand and the two left the alley, assimilating back into society as if they hadn’t just made and left their own little world a block back.
“Next time you can kiss me at the counter,” he said, “so you don’t have to torture yourself.”
“Phew,” Hoseok breathed dramatically. “I’m saved.”
“In fact, I’m gonna go ahead and say you can kiss me most places.”

Jimin squeezed his hand and got a squeeze back in return.
Somehow it was as easy to talk to Hoseok as it was to talk to Taehyung. Jimin talked about his day before Hoseok had arrived, how Taehyung had been impatient to meet him, and Hoseok laughed.

“You think I lived up to the legend?”
“Trust me, you’d know if Tae didn’t like you.”
“That was the best drink I’ve ever had in my life,” Hoseok murmured honestly, looking off into the distance as if his world had been changed forever.
“I know,” Jimin teased, voice grave, seriousness. “No drink will ever measure up after today.”
“I know you’re joking, but like...”
“Guess you’ll just have to keep coming back for more,” Jimin sighed and swung their hands as they came up on his building.
“Lured into an addiction by a beautiful barista...was thst your plan all along?” Hoseok bumped Jimin, who only shrugged, smiling mischievously.
“Who knows?”
Just as they were about to walk up the steps to Jimin’s building, the doors burst open, clattering loudly as someone in a black hoodie and sweats bolted out, shouted “EXCUSE ME” in a hoarse voice, and sprinted down the sidewalk with a large bundle in their arms. Jimin gaped.
“What the hell?” Hoseok asked bewildered.
“The hikikomori!” Jimin whispered, shaking Hoseok’s hand in excitement. Hoseok perked up.
“That’s the guy!?”
“Yeah! God, I can’t believe you actually saw him, /no one/ sees him.”
“Dude can run for someone that doesn’t get out much...”
They entered, looking back as if expecting the recluse to run back in, but they were able to step in the elevator without issue.

The doors slid closed.

Jimin quickly pointed to the camera in the right corner of the ceiling and giggled when Hoseok slumped.

Read him like a book.
“You can kiss me anywhere with common sense applied,” Jimin cooed, taking Hoseok’s hand as the elevator continued to ascend.
“Are there cameras in your apartment?”
“None that I’m aware of.”

Jimin’s stomach did a small loop when Hoseok squeezed his hand and said “Good.”
They stepped out at the 14th floor. Jimin was thankful his room was far down the hall, far from the elevator and it’s whirring and noisy patrons. It also meant he could hold hands with Hoseok for just a few seconds longer.

Key in hand, he unlocked the door.
~
“Tada~” Jimin exclaimed, and Hoseok stepped inside, taking it all in.

Jimin’s apartment was small, but it was cozy. Clearly a lot of love had gone into decorating and color-coordinating. There was a beat-up blue sofa and a white coffee table, a white dresser behind that sofa.
The kitchen cabinets were white, too, and with Hoseok seeing a blue bowl sitting by the sink, he assumed the dishes were blue as well.

Pretty white curtains were over a closed widow that didn’t have much of a view, just another building.

And a hallway with two doors.
“I know it’s not much, but it’s home,” Jimin said while shrugging off his coat.
“It’s cute,” Hoseok said thoughtfully. “It suits you.”
He smiled when Jimin smiled, and then he was kissed, Hoseok’s eyes fluttering closed.
“I’ll be right back. Make yourself comfortable.”
“Done.”
Jimin went to that small hallway and walked into one of the doors. Hoseok saw a bed before it closed. So that was Jimin’s room, the other must be a bathroom.

He took a look around, not wanting to snoop but obviously curious about the man he was falling harder for by the day.
There were pictures of him and Taehyung, cute funny faces. Pictures of older people, probably Jimin’s parents and relatives.

Hoseok sat on the sofa and instinctively sighed in content. It was perfectly worn, soft but not broken, stiff but not hard. He may never get up again.
He rubbed his hands on the cushions and...was surprised to see little strands of hair on his jacket. Cat hair?

Hoseok looked around, not seeing or hearing any animal, and in such a finite space, unless it was in Jimin’s room, that meant there was no animal.

Hm.
The door opened behind him, and Hoseok turned, wanting to confirm his hunch.

“Hey, do you ha—?”

...

Oh.

Jimin /was/ cuter in a sweater.

A black sweater, specifically, cut low to where Hoseok could see his collar bone, the sleeves just a little too long. And navy blue jeans.
“Better right?” Jimin said with a grin, and all Hoseok could do was nod. The best and worst part about Jimin was that he knew how damn pretty he was...

Jimin sauntered over to him, running his fingers through Hoseok’s hair. Looked down at him from behing the sofa.

“We ready?”
“Y-Yeah,” Hoseok stuttered, prying himself from the sofa’s heavenly embrace.
“Good~” Jimin answered. Hoseok followed him as he retrieved his coat and scarf from their place by the door, and soon they were back out in the hall.

Quick to take each other’s hands again.
“Sooo did you have a plan or did you just wanna show me off around town?”
“Aah, little of both,” Hoseok replied, squeezing Jimin’s hand. A ripple of warmth went through him as Jimin moved to intertwine their fingers.
“I thought we could do some shopping.”
“Oh...that sounds fun.”
They stopped while waiting for the elevator. Hoseok looked to Jimin, noticing his tone.
“/Does/ it sound fun? We can do something else—“
“No no, it’s fine! I love shopping,” Jimin hurried. “I just probably won’t get anything. But just looking around is fun, too.”
The elevator creaked open, and down they went.

“I put most of what I got from performing at your party into my rent for the year. Takes a load off my parents, I can take it a little easy for awhile, put my paychecks toward getting around to auditions...it was a good cushion.”
Hoseok hummed thoughtfully. That was a good strategy. Honestly he hadn’t really ever had to think about budgeting, but Jimin sounded like he had it together.

“You still gotta have a little fun, though...”
“Don’t you know the best things in life are free, Hyung?”
He couldn’t really argue with that.

They enjoyed the silence, the elevator opening and closing every few floors until they and a few others exited into the lobby. He and Jimin moved closer to each other once they were outside, shoulders touching.
There was a huge underground mall not too far from here, Hoseok had found. So that’s where they would go. And then later find someplace for dinner.

He hadn’t come to see Jimin with any.../expectations/, but, if Jimin was up for anything after dinner, Hoseok wouldn’t be opposed.
But there again, he didn’t expect that, and that wasn’t the goal here. The goal was just...Jimin. Jimin overall.

Jimin called himself lucky, but if Jimin was lucky, Hoseok was a lottery winner.
He looked down at him, fighting the urge to kiss his cheek as they walked. Instead, he noticed a few small hairs sticking out from his scarf and plucked them off.

“Do you have a cat? I didn’t see it,” Hoseok asked, rubbing his fingers until the pieces floated off with the wind.
Jimin opened his mouth, hesitated, and closed it again, suddenly looking to the sidewalk. Hoseok felt his grip tighten.

“I—...yeah, I had a cat.”

‘Had.’

/Shit./

“I’m...I’m so sorry, I didn’t—“
“No, no, it’s fine, you’re fine, hyung,” Jimin murmured with a sad laugh.
“It’s been two months,” Jimin continued, nodding. “Her name was Chubs. Got her when I was 12...here.”

Jimin let go of Hoseok’s hand to reach for his phone. Hoseok waited, feeling awful but letting Jimin speak.

“That’s my girl,” Jimin said fondly, quietly, turning the screen.
“That was her when she was younger.”

Jimin looked at the phone for a moment longer before pocketing it and taking Hoseok’s hand tightly.

“I called her Chubs ‘cause she was the biggest kitty at the shelter, then she got even fatter ‘cause Mom would feed her anytime she begged.”
Jimin paused for a long time before speaking again. Hoseok just listened. He wouldn’t dare ask more, curious as he was. Jimin was will clearly hurting over this.

“...she jumped out my window.”
“Jesus...”
“Mm...I never found her, though.”

Hoseok turned, confused.
Jimin looked up at him with a sad smile.

“No joke. She just—just /vanished/, like I saw her jump, I saw her fall, I ran down the stairs cause I wasn’t thinking, and when I got down to the ground—“
“Nothing...?”

Jimin shook his head.

“Nothing.”
How awful...and odd? Hoseok knew cats supposedly always landed on their feet, but from fourteen stories up? There were limits.

Jimin laughed, and Hoseok’s confusion grew.

“That was the night I covered for Taemin.”
“...you’re joking.”
“Nope. Got the call when I was out looking.”
Hoseok was floored.

“Are—you’re telling me you performed the way you did hours after...that?”
“I had to,” Jimin answered softly. “They needed me. ‘The show must go on.’”
“...you’re seriously amazing, Jiminie.”

Hoseok’s heart burst when Jimin looked to him, his eyes glassy.
“If someone had asked me to do anything after something like that...God, I don’t know. And then you did it so /well/...you were the best one on that stage. Really. I–...I cried. You’re seriously—“

Jimin silenced him with a soft kiss, and they stopped walking, just for a moment.
“Thank you, Hyung,” Jimin whispered when he pulled away, hurriedly wiping his eyes, and Hoseok hugged him, rubbed the top of his head. They got a couple stares from people passing by, but they paid them no mind.

Jimin started squirming, so Hoseok let him go.

“Let’s shop.”
The mall was enormous, also 24 hours. Some of these shops wouldn’t even be open until midnight, but there was plenty to do and see right now. There was even a subway station.

Hoseok made a mental note to avoid passing any pet stores.

“Got anywhere in mind?”
“Mm...jewelry.”
That they could do. One of the first shops near the entrance stairs was a luxury jeweler, and Hoseok would bet that Jimin’s eyes were sparkling more than anything in the window he was looking through.

They stepped in, greeted by a woman speaking in full customer service tone.
“Let me know if I can help either of you,” she said to Hoseok with a smile. Her gaze drifted to Jimin, looked him up and down as he peered into a small case of earrings, and her smile faded before she went to assist another customer.

...Hoseok didn’t like that very much.
“Hyung, these are so pretty!”

Hoseok turned back to Jimin, going to him and looking into the case. Silver shaped earrings glittered under white lights.

“The hearts are cute.”

He laughed as Jimin pinched his earlobes and pouted, murmuring, “Really cute.”
Jimin set himself to wander, Hoseok tagging along slowly. He hadn’t really thought of going to a mall to shop, but it had seemed like a good way to spend time with Jimin. Figure out what he liked.

Then Jimin stopped and gasped.

“What’d we find?”
“It’s so /pretty/...”
Lying on a satin blue pillow was a platinum bracelet, a sold band with intermittent chain links, and most prominently, two dangling charms, a sun and a crescent moon.

Jimin was totally enraptured.

“Excuse me,” he called, beckoning the woman. “How much is this?”
The women hummed, walking over to look at the bracelet. She then gave a curt laugh.

“You’re better off not knowing.”

“I’m sorry? Jimin responded, smile wiped.

“I find that most people who have to /ask/ how much something is usually can’t afford it anyway. I’m saving you time.”
“/Excuse/ me,” Hoseok interrupted, voice stern, quiet. Jimin stood straight up, eyes wide and looking between them.

It was like a storm cloud had formed over the shop.

“Isn’t your job to sell jewelry? Isn’t that what you’re paid to do?”
“Yes, sir, but our store caters to more—”
“Is it that much trouble to answer a simple question? How do you know he can’t pay for it? Huh? What made you think that? What?”

Hoseok couldn’t remember ever being this pissed. His tone was even, cold. How /dare/—

The backroom door opened and out stepped an older woman.
“What seems to be the trouble, sir?” she hurried, voice polite but nervous, glancing between the three. Hoseok shifted his weight and gestured to the associate.

“My friend had a question about this bracelet here, and not /only/ did she refuse to help, we were insulted.”
The manager’s eyes widened in shock before looking over to the associate, who suddenly looked terrified.

Jimin stood, totally dumbfounded as Hoseok stood his ground.

“If this is the sort of customer service we get by shopping here, we can take our business elsewhere.”
“No, sir, I‘m /so/ sorry this happened—Min-Ji, please wait for me in my office.”

The associate glared at Hoseok and Jimin before storming to the backroom.

“I do apologize, sir. I assure you that we strive for excellent customer service. She won’t be working here anymore...”
“Now, I can answer any questions you have. You said a bracelet?”

Jimin nodded slowly.

“I asked how much it was...”
“Aah, this one is gorgeous, isn’t it? The charms are perfect accents. Let me pull it up in the system.”

A few keyboard clicks later and she announced the total.
~
Jimin paled.
“We’ll take it,” Hoseok said instantly.
Jimin whirled.
“Wonderful! Will you need gift wrap?”
“He’ll wear it out,” Hoseok continued. Jimin’s whole face went beet red as he tugged his arm.
“/Hyung/,” he hissed.
“Mm?”
“What are you doing!?”
“...you wanted the bracelet?”
“No!”
“Oh, did you want the earrings?”
“/No/, I meant—/yes/ I want them, but—“
“So the earrings, not the bracelet?”
“/Neither/, I want /nothing/!” Jimin hissed.

Jesus, was Hoseok actually about to drop /that/ kind of money like it was nothing? For someone other than himself?
Hoseok pouted.
“But you want it. Let me get it for you. It’s nothing, really.”

It’s /nothing/!?

“Hyung, I really—I don’t—/need/ it...“

Jimin looked up. All the tension from earlier was gone, but Hoseok still looked serious.

“You deserve pretty things, Jiminie.”
“If you /really/ don’t want it, I won’t.”

...

The bracelet was gorgeous. Jimin would have bought it in a heartbeat. Worn it on special nights out, kept it safe in a box in his dresser drawer. In another life, a better life.

...but...maybe Jimin was already in the better life.
“...I want it,” he whispered, and Hoseok’s serious expression burst into a delighted grin.

“Alriiiight, we’re taking the bracelet. This is gonna look great on you,” he said, pulling out his wallet and bank card.
Jimin knew he should have said no. That’s how he was raised. It’s better to work hard for your treasure than to just receive it.

...but damn it, Jimin had been working his ass off. He hadn’t even thought to get a nice lunch with his pay from performing at the Jungs. Let alone...
And Hoseok looked so happy to do it. And Jimin was grateful for how he’d defended him. God, it was like a total flip of a switch. One moment he was fine, then he was suddenly Customer Supreme.

He was pulled out of his thoughts when he heard Hoseok murmuring to the manager.
“Can I get those earrings, too? The heart ones—?”
“You are /not/ getting me both,” Jimin interjected, coming up to the counter and then looking to the manager, who looked highly amused. “Don’t sell him those. Just the bracelet.”
“Aaah fine...” Hoseok whined, swiping his card.
“Your wrist, please?”

Jimin pulled up his sweater sleeve and hesitantly held up his wrist, watching as the manager fastened the bracelet securely. It was cold against his skin, and Jimin exhaled.

“Perfect fit. It looks wonderful, sir!”

It...was gorgeous.

Jimin smiled slowly.
“Jimiiiiin, it’s beautiful!” Hoseok commented, hugging Jimin from behind. “I knew it’d look nice on you, but wow.”

“It does look nice...” Jimin said slowly, turning his wrist to see it from all angles. The crescent moon and sun glittered when he moved.

Hoseok kissed his cheek.
“Thanks for the help,” Hoseok said, smiling to the infinitely more helpful manager, who bowed.

“We hope to see you again, sirs, thank you for your business.”

Jimin couldn’t stop staring at the pretty band even as they walked out...it was his.
All of a sudden he turned, kissing Hoseok’s cheek once, twice, alright, one more time before he flattened down from his tiptoes again.

“Thank you, Hyung.”
“It’s nothing, really,” Hoseok replied happily as he put a hand around Jimin’s waist.
“Still...”
“Consider it a thank you.”
“That /girl/ though,” Hoseok grumbled. He spoke in an annoyed pout, and Jimin snorted. It reminded him so much of Taehyung.

“Who was she to act like that? All she had to do was answer a question—seriously—!“
“Hyung, relax, it’s over,” Jimin giggled, kissing his cheek again.
“Mm,” Hoseok agreed as they took to walking again. Jimin stayed close, raising his wrist every now and again.

/You deserve pretty things./

Jimin smiled to himself. He let go of Hoseok’s hand and instead looped his arms around Hoseok’s and rested his head on his shoulder.
Hoseok’s phone buzzed. Jimin watched him fish it out, look at it briefly, silence it, and then pocket it almost immediately. He looked annoyed.

“Everything okay?” Jimin asked softly. Hoseok just nodded.

“News notif, nothing important.”
“Mm. I turned those off when I upgraded.”
~
~
[15 million won is equivalent to $13,500 American dollars and £11,467 Euros!

Taking a small break for dinner~ 💜]
~
They walked all over, and Hoseok promised, /promised/ that he wouldn’t buy Jimin anything else, at Jimin’s insistence.

Was it really Hoseok’s fault Jimin was so damn cute? How had someone not spoiled him until now!? Honestly, that was a criminal act. An absolute crime.
Hoseok would point something out, casually say something like “This color would look good on you,” or “This is so soft, come feel,” and Jimin would answer with a soft but flattered “/No/, Hyung.”

At one point while they were walking, Jimin started teasing him.
“Are you really the type of guy who gets moody when they can’t spoil someone?”
“I don’t know,” Hoseok grumbled honestly, “I’ve never spoiled someone before...is it really so bad?”

He knew how childish he sounded but come /on/.

Jimin laughed a little louder and squeezed his arm.
“It’s not bad,” Jimin answered. “I guess if I was well off, I’d wanna treat people, too. I’d leave servers huge tips, get presents for Tae just ‘cause. Buy my parents a nicer house back home.”

Hoseok just wanted to squeeze him.

“Giving’s one thing, accepting is another...”
Hoseok wished he understood. He could admit he had most everything handed to him in life. Oddly enough, it was the things he /really/ wanted that he couldn’t have.

Well, until now.

“So...what if it’s little things? Then can I?”
“What’s your definition of ‘little?’” Jimin asked.
“Because your definition of ‘it’s nothing’ and my definition of ‘it’s nothing’ are two /very/ different nothings.”

Hoseok pondered. Jimin was absolutely right about that. Okay.

“Like, dinner. Pretty clothes...a car...anything you want.”
“Those aren’t little, hyung...”
“Ugh, this is /hard/,” Hoseok whined, kicking the shiny floor as Jimin laughed. “Okay, tell me your ‘little.’”

Jimin hummed in thought.

“Dinner is fine, but it would depend where we ate. Clothes and jewelry are fine if they’re cheap—“
“That /was/ cheap!”
“God, don’t say that.”
“Speaking of dinner,” Hoseok said, changing the subject. “I’m hungry.”
“God, me too. I feel like burgers...”
“Burgers it is.”

Jimin let go of him to run toward a large column with a digital layout of the mall. Hoseok watched him for a moment before pulling out his phone.
Hoseok scrunched his nose, glancing to see that Jimin was still searching the map before openinh his mother’s message feed.
Hoseok’s blushed four different shades of red. He didn’t have to wonder for long if his mother meant exactly what he thought as suddenly his phone started blowing up.
Hoseok jammed his phone in his pocket, thinking of anything he could to get his mind off the thought of /not/ going home tonight. What that would entail.

“There’s a burger place in the East wing,” came Jimin, who jogged back to him. “We can—whoah, you okay? You‘re all blotchy.”
“It’s just really warm,” Hoseok said, voice a little strained, and Jimin hummed.

“I think they /did/ turn up the heat down here,” he mumbled, shrugging of his coat with a small sigh of relief.

Hoseok had almost forgotten how low that sweater dipped.

Why, God?
Jimin took his hand led the way.

The plan had always been for Hoseok take Jimin out for a fun day, drop him off at his door, and whatever happened after that would be entirely up to Jimin. Hoseok was fine with anything and nothing.

But now he was really imagining anything...
/Want you to touch me/

/There’s a bit more I thought of doing with you./

That had sounded so /nice/. He wondered what else Jimin could ask him to do. Hoseok found it hard to think of anything he’d ever deny him...unless...Jimin was into that sort of thing...

“Hyung?”
“Ah—!“
Jimin stopped and put the back of his hand to Hoseok’s forehead. The bracelet’s charms rested right between his eyes. He looked concerned, dropping his hand.

“Are you sure you’re feeling alright? You can take me home, if you need to. I won’t be upset.“
“No, I’m fine! I promise!”
“My, uh...blood sugar. I just need some food. Mhm.”
“...right. Well, if you throw up on me, you gotta buy me a whole new outfit.”
“Is that a promise?”
“It better not be,” Jimin laughed, and it seemed like he believed Hoseok really wasn’t sick.
They found the burger place, and it was cute, a long space designed to look like a ramen stall. Large banners showing grilled burgers with crispy ramen noodles in place of buns hung outside, and fortunately for them, there were two empty seats right next to each other at the bar.
Jimin hopped up, eyes excitedly scanning over the menu above them as Hoseok took in the whole concept in general.

He liked burgers, and a liked ramen but this was...interesting.

“What can I get you two?” came a gruff, friendly voice from behind the counter, a portly chef.
“I’m gonna have a peach soju...ah, make that two. I think I wanna try the...ya know, let’s do the Original, but can I add cheese?”
“Sure.”
“Hyung?”
“...uh...the same. But water.”
“And I’m paying,” Jimin rushed, ignoring Hoseok’s /appalled/ expression.
“Two originals, comin’ up.”
The chef ducked away, pulling three bottles from a refrigerator, two green and one clear. Jimin clapped quietly when he got his drinks.

“Park /Jimin/,” Hoseok started, teasing in his voice, and Jimin smiled as he opened his first bottle. “You said I could pay for dinner.”
“I said you could pay depending on where we go. And I remember somebody telling me that even if I’m being smart with my money, I still have to have fun sometimes.”

He took a long swig before speaking again, this time with a twinkle in his eye.

“Consider it...a /thank you/.”
Hoseok laughed as he realized he’d been outwitted by his own logic.

“See, though? Treating cute boys is fun.”
“Are you calling yourself a cute boy, hyung?” Jimin giggled, leaning on the counter.
“I /know/ I’m a cute boy,” Hoseok answered confidently, and Jimin giggled harder.
Jimin giggled so hard, he almost fell off his stool, and very well would have had Hoseok not lunged over to catch him.

“You’re gonna give me a heart attack, you gotta stop doing that!”
“It worked out pretty well the last time you caught me, right?”
“...you make a fair point...”
...oh.

Okay well Hoseok could definitely blame the heat in his face from the all the hot kitchen equipment. Yep.

Definitely not from. remembering the way Jimin’s strong, firm thighs felt nestled around his waist, how he could never seem to get close enough to Hoseok.
Hoseok’s spine tingled. He’d wondered for two days what would have happened in that kitchen had they not been interrupted...

Hoseok sipped his water bottle and saw Jimin staring at him out of the corner of his eye. Smiling. Head propped up in his hand. First bottle half empty.
“What’s up?” Hoseok chuckled.
“Nothing...I’m just glad you came to see me today, Hyung,” he murmured. Hoseok’s libidinous thoughts calmed at such a pure answer.
“I’m glad, too.”

Then Jimin puffed out his lips a tiny bit, and...fuck, it was cute. Too cute. Hoseok had to kiss him.
Jimin laughed softly as Hoseok kissed him, just a simple smooch, before they broke away.

“Ooh, that’ll never get old,” he sighed happily, kicking his feet.

...and then he stopped, and suddenly, he looked troubled. It was such a drastic change Hoseok worried he’d done something.
“Are you okay?”
“Can I ask you something, Hyung?”

Jimin’s voice was soft, anxiety at its edges. Hoseok nodded automatically, his own nerves heightening.

“What—“

He took a breath, staring off for a second before looking straight at Hoseok.

“What exactly do you want us to be?”
”What is this...us?”
[Will Update Tomorrow 💜]
=INTERMISSION=
Today was Hoseok’s 14th birthday. His joints ached, the the orthodontist had tightened his wires the day before, and now he was walking downtown with two boys he didn’t really know, but anything beat going home. He didn’t feel like being surrounded by his screaming baby cousins.
The boys were from his class, but honestly Hoseok couldn’t remember their names, and he doubted they remembered his either, and that was fine. Whatever they were doing didn’t require familiarity with each other. They were all ditching something, avoiding everything.
“So this guy’s our age?”
“Yeah!”
“He better be good...”
“He is, trust me, I saw him with my brother last week. The shit he says is /real/.”

Hoseok didn’t interact with the pair, just followed along.

Apparently they were seeing someone perform. Some guy that went by Rap Monster.
Hoseok wondered what level confidence a person had to have to use such a ridiculous name like that.

He tuned out the inane rambling, it was just them repeating each other at this point. The building around them looked a little rough. They’d been walking awhile, far from school.
It wasn’t until they approached some dingy stairs that led down below the street, to a beat-up door, that Hoseok started to feel nervous, but he’d already come this far, and going back alone seemed like a worse alternative than sticking with the boys, so down he went.
He was almost immediately surrounded by people, loud people, youbf people, shoving and talking and laughing. Music blasted and Hoseok was a bit shell-shocked.

The boys had found an empty spot near a countertop. Hoseok couldn’t get there fast enough.
“Right on time!” one of the boys shouted over the noise as the lights dimmed.

There was a small stage, a single mic, and Hoseok was suddenly much more curious than he’d been before. There must have been at least 100 people here. For what? Who? This Monster guy?
The music changed and the crowd erupted.

Someone stepped out on the stage, and Hoseok...scoffed. He looked absolutely ridiculous. Dark sunglasses, gold chains, baggy clothes. And his /hair/. Really? Was this guy a foreigner?

But the crowd kept losing it.
He started rapping, his voice carrying over all the noise, adding to it, and Hoseok listened, still baffled by all the excitement.

“...ugh, it’s just a stupid love song!” the dismissive boy shouted, and Hoseok noticed the other boy looked noticeably confused.
“This isn’t—”
But then the beat dropped.

The beat dropped, and Rap Monster was suddenly going /in/.

Hoseok’s confusion turned to shock.

This wasn’t a love song. It was about unmatched love, unequal love. It was about anger. Frustration. Loneliness.

His jaw hung open, and the crowd roared.
Hoseok left that dark building, the same way he’d entered, following two boys he didn’t know, two boys that still sounded about the same things, one saying it was “badass” and the other saying it sucked.

Clutching a cassette tape he’d been handed at the door, Hoseok was silent.
He couldn’t process anything he felt. Something fundamental about him changed today, something he knew he wouldn’t be able to share with anyone. Not his family. Not these boys.

Hoseok looked at the cassette, managing to make out the English words scrawled in Sharpie at the top.
/What Am I To You?/
=END INTERMISSION=
“What is this...us?”

Jimin’s heart raced. It was the first question he’d asked where he wasn’t sure what he wanted the answer to be, but it’d been on his mind. He’d tried pushing it off, but...everything seemed so fast, didn’t it?

Hoseok looked surprised, and Jimin panicked.
“I mean, I’m happy! I just—“
“No, no, I completely understand,” Hoseok replied quietly. He was looking at the menu but not /at/ the menu, lost in thought.
“It’s weird, isn’t it?”
“It is...that’s why I asked...”
“Hmm...”

Jimin saw a lot go through Hoseok’s face.
“I know that I like you more than I’ve liked anybody,” Hoseok answered, nodding to himself before looking to Jimin, who swallowed.
“Me, too.”
“But it feels weird to say that. I know how I feel, it’s just...I don’t know. It feels weird to think of you like a ‘boyfriend,’ but...“
Oh thank God. Small bits of relief went through Jimin. It was like hearing his own thoughts played back.
“Same, but I mean this feels... /right/, right? I feel /right/ when I’m with you.”
“Me, too,” Hoseok murmured. “I really like spending time with you, Jimin...”
Hoseok looked up again, making a small sound as the gears in his head turned. Jimin wasn’t doubting anything, he was sure Hoseok was just trying to find the right words.

“What I want from this...us...” he finally started, and Jimin held his breath.
“...I want to spend more time with you. As much as I can. I want to support you with all I have, because I think you’re a good person. You’re genuine, kind. You’re someone I want to be close with—aah—I’m saying so much...“

Jimin laughed softly at how Hoseok flustered himself.
He was touched.

Jimin knew there were supposed to be rules to relationships, dates, flirting, and he knew he and Hoseok had broken about all of them, jumped to a few steps before the end of the book.

But he knew how he felt. It was scary, but in the way a roller coaster was.
Jimin knew he wanted to be with Hoseok the way a best friend would be. A boyfriend would be. He wanted to know more, do more.

Rules be damned.

“I feel the same way.”

He felt like a teenager. There was so much honest, no jaded cynicism. He truly just.../liked/ Hoseok.
Did they need a reason? The world was already crazy.

Hoseok saw Jimin on quite possibly the only night such an event could have ever taken place. Their universes collided and merged in a single moment, he and Hoseok had had an unseen impact on each other.

They were happy.
Hoseok seemed to like Jimin’s response, because he was smiling again, and taking his hand. His made small circles with his thumb, went along the the edge of his sweater.

“...I know I said it would feel weird to call you a boyfriend, but I’ll still treat you like one...”
Jimin grinned, feeling like playing with him.

“So I’m your friend with benefits, Hyung?”
“What!? N-no, that’s not—!”

Jimin laughed, Hoseok had gotten worried so fast. He laughed harder when Hoseok pouted, shoved him lightly.

“Jimiiin, that’s not funny!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
“/God/,” Hoseok groaned, sitting back but still pushing Jimin, who couldn’t stop snickering. “I almost cried. Would you be laughing if I cried? Huh?” Push. “Would you?” Push push. “Jimin!”
“/Stop/,” Jimin giggled, grabbing Hoseok’s hand to stop the playful assault. “I’m sorry.”
Jimin wasn’t sorry. Hoseok knew he wasn’t sorry either, but his pouting had turned into a small smile, he knew he was forgiven. Jimin squeezed his hand, smiling back, overflowing with a feeling he couldn’t name.

“How do you feel?” he asked softly.
“The same...you?”
“The same.”
They shared a quiet kiss just before the kitchen door opened, their chef carrying two plates that each held a burger topped with scallions and rested on a dark green piece of arugula. Cheese melted down the sides, and crispy ramen ‘buns’ held it all together.

Jimin was excited.
~
Hoseok was intrigued.

He’d never seen something like this, let alone eaten it. It looked greasy, totally unhealthy, and most importantly, fucking delicious.

“Thank yoouu,” Jimin said as their plates were placed in front of them, and Hoseok gave their chef a small bow.
There wasn’t much to say. The two ate in relative silence, a comfortable silence. Hoseok may or may not have had a religious experience from the burger, but he did know he and Jimin would be coming back here often.

Planning future dates with Jimin...it made him feel warm. Happy.
Jimin paid (looking Hoseok in the eye the whole time) and soon he was nestling himself into Hoseok’s side, arm in arm as they ascended the steps that led out of the mall back into the city streets.

“Is there anything else you want to do?” Hoseok asked, and Jimin shook his head.
“I’m happy,” Jimin sighed, snuggling into Hoseok’s shoulder.

Hoseok now knew Jimin /really/ liked soju. He’d downed the rest of his first bottle and then the second in nothing flat. Now he was warm, giggly, and impossibly, insanely, /overwhelmingly/ adorable.

Hoseok was doomed.
“I had fun today. Thank you for seeing me,” Jimin cooed. Hoseok pulled him closer to; Jimin was too precious. He needed to be protected.
“I couldn’t stay away for long,” he cooed back, kissing the top of his head and melting him into a fit of giggles.
“Aaaah, Hyu-u-uuung~!”
Hoseok couldn’t help himself. He peppered Jimin with kisses, to the top of his head, his cheek, his ear, anywhere he could reach. The squeaky laughter in his ear was the most wonderful reward.
“Oh Jimiiin, /Jimiiiiin/~”
“Stop iiiit~!”
“My Jiminiiie~”
“Hoseokie-hyuuung~!”
Too cute. The cutest. Hoseok was ruined. Ruined! But it was a beautiful fall to take.

It got dark as they made their way back to Jimin’s building, both of them calming down as they entered the lobby and then the elevator.

Jimin sighed and closed his eyes.
Neither of them said a word. Hoseok found he could enjoy quiet with Jimin; just him being there was a comfort, and it didn’t require small talk.

Their ascent went uninterrupted. The 14th floor came and they made their way down the hall, Jimin a little more slowly.
They were still quiet as they reached Jimin’s door. The night was here, their day was ending, and it was time to say a goodbye no one really wanted to say.

Jimin moved to face Hoseok, holding his hands. Still saying nothing but smiling like he hadn’t a single care in the world.
So Hoseok kissed his smile, and it was a goodnight kiss. It was a goodbye kiss, because he didn’t know when he would be able to come back to the city to see him. It was a kiss that Jimin would hopefully remember if he ever felt lonely in the time apart they would have.
Messaging him would be fine, but it wouldn’t be the same, it wouldn’t be /being/ with Jimin. It wouldn’t be his sweet voice or the way his eyes shined and disappeared when he laughed. It wouldn’t be this, kissing him, playing with his hair, Jimin gripping his hands.

“Goodnight.”
Hoseok whispered quietly, resting his forehead on Jimin’s, who nodded.

“Goodnight, Hyung.”

...

...neither of them moved.

They didn’t want to say goodbye, but the implication of staying, staying /here/, Hoseok entering Jimin’s space...

The rollercoaster was stuck at the top.
Hoseok hesitated before kissing Jimin’s forehead and stepping back, and Jimin hurriedly fished for the key to unlock his door.

Now it seemed like they couldn’t get away fast enough...

They shared small, nervous smiles with each other as Jimin stepped in, closed the door, and...
...

...that was it. Hoseok stared at the door for a moment before exhaling, coming down from an adrenaline rush he hadn’t known had ever started.

Well. Date one down.

Hoseok nodded at the door, feeling satisfied as he turned on a heel and made his way back toward the elevator.
He’d need to call a service to come pick him up. He’d more or less snuck out of the house today; he was /not/ looking forward to the lecture that awaited him. He groaned, reaching for his phone and praying to God his parents hadn’t blown up his notifications.

They hadn’t.

But.
Hoseok nearly wheezed in relief before he started jogging back to the end of the hall, hearing the elevator he’d called for open behind him.
~
Jimin looked up from his phone, pulse pounding as he went back to his door.

It was ice cream. He’d invited Hoseok back for ice cream. Just ice cream, and maybe to watch a movie, to talk...

Three quick knocks made him gasp. He actually came back...

Jimin beamed.

“Who is it?”
“What kind of ice cream?” came through the door. Jimin breathed a laugh.

“Injeolmi.”
“Aah, okay. Never mind. Sleep well!”

Jimin’s eyes shot open, and he fumbled with opening the door as he heard Hoseok walking away. Was he serious!?

“W-Wait, Hyung—!”
“Got you~”

Jimin fought the grin that threatened to creep onto his face at the sight of Hoseok stepping in place, each one softer than the last. He wanted to be annoyed that he’d been tricked. That Hoseok looked so damn /pleased/ with himself.

But he wasn’t, and he couldn’t be.
“Well now you get /nothing/,” Jimin threatened weightlessly as Hoseok softly cackled his way into his home.

The sound of the door sealing seemed much heavier than it ever had.

Jimin gestured Hoseok to the sofa as he went to fetch bowls.

“/Do/ you like injeolmi?”
“Who doesn’t?”
Jimin searched for bowls, watching Hoseok and trying not to be obvious about it. He couldn’t help it. It was such an odd but exciting sight. Knowing he was here to stay.

Well not /stay/...

He hurried to his freezer, suddenly needing some cold air on his face.

Breathe, Jimin.
Jimin has texted Hoseok without any consideration for the potential consequences.

Jimin /did/ want to eat ice cream with him. But at the same time, that text might as well have read ‘I don’t want you to go.’

Since Hoseok had come back so quickly, the feeling must be mutual...
As Jimin retrieved the carton from the freezer and started divvying scoops between them, he saw Hoseok had taken his coat off and gotten comfortable on the sofa.

...they’d spent almost the entire day together. It’d been a fun day, maybe one of the best days Jimin had had.
But saying goodbye...Jimin had gotten such a sad feeling so suddenly. In such a short amount of time, Hoseok had become an important part of his life. Jimin thought back to his past relationships and couldn’t recall this level of...what was it?

What /was/ this?
Jimin thought Hoseok was more interesting, more funny, more kind, and definitely more affectionate than any boyfriend he’d had in the past...and Jimin knew he was definitely more interested and invested in Hoseok than he’d ever been with any of those boyfriends...
Is that why he felt so genuinely nervous? Because in two days, Jimin felt more now than he’d ever felt?

Their conversation in the restaurant had cleared up so much. Jimin wasn’t a fling. Though he’d never felt he was, hearing it spoken aloud was a concrete comfort.
Jimin wasn’t a fling, but...he was physically attracted to Hoseok. Obviously. And neither of them had spoken of what would now be referred to as The Incident. It had ended so awkwardly it made sense to not bring it up, but /hoo/.

What a beginning.
What a /middle/.
As Jimin sat next to Hoseok on the sofa and handed him his bowl and spoon, he wondered if Hoseok had thought about it, too. He /must/ have, hell, he was probably thinking about it now, just like Jimin. Being invited back into a date’s apartment? Jimin knew how it sounded.
Jimin liked how it sounded, but even though they’d done everything else quickly, /that/ was definitely too soon, right?

He’d had sex before. There were always jitters, but Jimin KNEW he was physically attracted to Hoseok. Yet, he was utterly nerve-wracked, not wanting to rush.
“Wanna watch something?” he asked, turning on his TV and opening Netflix. Hoseok, his mouth full, only nodded before making a suprised sound as Jimin passed him the remote.

“Is your taste in movies as good as your taste in men?”

Hoseok swallowed, grinning.

“Absolutely~”
He watched Hoseok scroll through their choices, every so often reading one of the descriptions of a blatantly bad looking movie out loud in a dramatic voice. Jimin kept leaning on him when he laughed that eventually he just chose to stay there, head on Hoseok’s shoulder.
“Your recommends are almost nothing but romcoms,” Hoseok said, almost impressed. “You have ‘The Notebook’ /queued/?”
“It’s my favorite, don’t judge me,” Jimin murmured.

He was cozy like this, curled up like a ball on the sofa, curled into Hoseok, ice cream on his lap...peaceful.
“I’m not judging you, I like it, too. Uh...man, I’m trying to find something you haven’t seen.”
Jimin hummed around his spoon.
“Do you like scary movies?”
“Ah—not really.”
“.../Hyung/,” Jimin was suddenly excited, “do you scare easy?”
“No! Just—most aren’t scary enough for me...”
Jimin sat up.

“You see ‘Train to Busan?’”
“Of course,” Hoseok answered way too quickly.
“Wasn’t it great?”
“The best, so scary!”
“That part where the giant octopus threw the train off the bridge was crazy, right?”
“Totally, I was like ‘Whooah’—!“
“/There was no giant octopus/!”
Jimin grinned as Hoseok looked so surprised, face turning red.

“I caught you in a /lie/, Hoseok-hyung!”
“/Fine/, I don’t like scary movies!” he whined. “Have you seem them?? They’re awful! Who wants to be scared anyway...?”

Jimin giggled and fell back to his resting position.
“You don’t have to like scary movies, Hyung,” Jimin said gently while patting Hoseok’s thigh. “You don’t have to impress me, I already like you.”
“Mm,” Hoseok pouted, though Jimin had definitely felt him tense up the moment he’d touched him...

He kissed his cheek and stood up.
“Be right back, these aren’t cuddling clothes,” he said, and he just barely caught the look of surprise that flashed across Hoseok’s face before he replied “O-oh, yeah, you do that...”

Jimin closed his bedroom door behind him and immediately slid to the floor, mind a flurry.
He did want out of these pants, yes, but he also just needed a second to breathe.

As Jimin undressed and redressed, this time in a huge baby-blue sweatshirt that went down to about the middle of his thigh and grey sweats, he breathed.

He needed to let things happen naturally.
Of course, touching Hoseok’s leg has felt natural and comfortable. The kisses felt natural and comfortable. Hoseok wanting to suck a dark spot into his neck had felt natural and comfortable—

...

Nope. None of that. No. Not today.
He snuggled back into Hoseok’s side and felt a new burst of warmth as Hoseok put his arm around him.

How natural.

“I found the scariest movie of all,” Hoseok said in a low voice.
“Ooh, what’s it called?”

A tree frog filled the screen. A nature documentary?

“/Life/.”
[Going to bed. Good night everyone. 💜 Thanks for following along today~]
~
Over the next hour, the pair got far too emotionally invested in the high definition drama that was nature at work. It wasn’t fair. How was Hoseok /not/ supposed to worry about the baby bison that had gotten swept away from it’s mother? The lizard escaping a swarm of snakes!?
Whenever a new predator was presented, Jimin would murmur “Oh no” and cling to Hoseok a little tighter, which he would have adored if he weren’t also utterly terrified for these animal’s fates.

And after seeing a seal get ripped in half by an orca, it was clear no one was safe.
Outside of the documentary though, reality, Hoseok was sitting with Jimin on his sofa, in his home, with him cuddled up against him like it was the most natural thing in the world. Two empty bowls of ice cream sat on the coffee table, snow fell outside.

It all felt so /normal/.
It felt normal to be here with Jimin. It felt normal to want to hold him closer, to kiss the top of his head and reassure him the animals would be okay even if he himself wasn’t sure it would be. It felt normal, and Hoseok liked that.

Loved that, actually...
“Come on, you got this...” he muttered as baby sea turtles shuffled their way to the ocean. Jimin’s eyes were wide with worry.

Despite the crabs and the seagulls, the beating sun, most of the sea turtles safely made it to their new home. Jimin and Hoseok sighed in pure relief.
“This is so /stressful/ but I can’t look away,” Jimin whined, shifting himself so that he was lying down, head resting on Hoseok’s lap.

...oh.

He didn’t react until Jimin suddenly looked up at him, his cheeks a little flushed.

“Sorry, is this okay..?”
“Y-Yeah, you’re good!”
Hoseok answered quickly, nodding, no, yeah, it was totally fine, perfectly okay! It wasn’t like his heart was about to burst out of his chest or anything. It wasn’t like his whole face had caught fire the moment Jimin smiled and said “Okay” before fully relaxing.

Doomed. Ruined.
...

...he wanted to pet him.

Hoseok wanted to pet Jimin’s hair and had entered a frozen panic about just how /badly/ he wanted to do it.

He was right there. His hair was pretty, so soft and dark.

...fuck it, he had to. If Hoseok died tomorrow, this would be his only regret.
Hoseok lowered his hand and gave Jimin’s head a soft stroke. He froze as Jimin bristled.

“If you don’t like it—!“
“No, keep going,” Jimin answered quietly without looking at him, but he did curl his legs a little closer. God.

Hoseok took to petting him gently, and Jimin melted.
Hoseok pet Jimin and thought of all the years he’d wasted not petting Jimin. He had to make up for lost time.

Jimin let out a content little hum.

“Feels nice, Hyung,” he murmured, sounding distant. Hoseok leaned forward to see his eyes were closed.

Was...was he falling asleep?
“Sleepy?” he asked hesitantly. He was curious, but he also didn’t /dare/ want Jimin to sit up, to leave.

Jimin hummed dismissively, a low soft noise straight from his throat.

“Just resting my eyes.”
“Okay, okay.”

Maybe Hoseok /had/ died, this was clearly heaven.
Hoseok stroked Jimin’s hair and watched the end of this episode. This one hadn’t been so perilous; the baby penguins had at least had their parents to cross a glacier with. Soon everyone arrived safe to their new colony, and Hoseok smiled.

“Thank God.”
“...”
“...Jimin?”
“...mm.”
Oh.

Hoseok had the reaction to Jimin falling asleep on him that another person would have to, say, a kitten doing the same thing; awe. Joy. Gratitude toward a God that clearly existed. An overwhelming amount of affection flooding through his body.

He wished he could kiss him.
Hoseok stretched for the remote, careful not to disturb Jimin, and turned the TV off. He was more than fine enjoying the silence, letting Jimin sleep easier.

He looked for a blanket, but in the end had to improvise by covering Jimin with his coat.
Everything about this felt right.
If Hoseok could have this every day he’d consider himself the happiest man in Asia. It was hard to imagine someone else being more content, because no one else had Jimin.

He leaned back, eyes closing as he continued petting. He had total peace.
...except Hoseok needed to pee.

His eyes opened.

Hoseok looked down at the sleeping man lying on him, cold realization slamming into him like a city bus.

Oh /no/.

No no no, this wasn’t heaven. This was hell and God was laughing. He was /trapped/. Trapped unless he woke Jimin.
He needed to pee, he wasn’t in ‘cuddling clothes’ as Jimin put it, and he’d kinda told his mother that he’d be coming home tonight.

But waking up Jimin would be a crime, and Hoseok was no criminal...

He cautiously reached into his pocket with two fingers to retrieve his phone.
Hoseok stiffened as he remembered their earlier conversation. He wanted to clear it up, but he figured in any case, he would be embarrassed.

So he’d be vague.
Mom, /please/...

Hoseok was touched that his mother was being so supportive of him and Jimin, not to mention doing him an eternal solid by covering for him, but this was /really hard for him right now/.
Hoseok wasn’t sure what was worse, his mother trying to be cool with text-slang or his mother insinuating her taste in men, i.e., Hoseok’s father, was equivalent to him and Jimin.

Regardless, he cringed and set his phone down for...the night.

Hoseok was staying the night.
He hadn’t planned on it, and it certainly wasn’t going at all how he’d envisioned.

Hoseok froze as Jimin stirred, but all that was happened was that Jimin was turning over, facing Hoseok’s stomach and sluggishly wrapping his arms around his torso, a soft smile on his face.
This wasn’t at all how Hoseok envisioned spending the night with Jimin.

It was better.
[taking a break but just so y’all know what real fear is]
[also I lied about the break I just wanted to share the videos and just so y’all know both the bison and the iguana make it out alive and there’s no blood in either video because I love you guys and wouldn’t do that to y’all]
~
Jimin pulled his pillow closer, snuggling his head deeper into the softness. He was so warm and snug; soju and ice cream was always a good way to end a night. He felt pleasantly heavy, so comfortable, and the very best part was that he was off today. He could stay here all day.
Jimin’s eyes fluttered open and he saw white, which was odd, because his walls were cream-colored. And if he was holding his pillow, then what was he resting on?

And then Jimin became a statue when he realized that the weight on his head was a hand.

...Hoseok’s hand.

/Hoseok/.
Hoseok. It was Hoseok.

Hoseok was still here, even though Jimin saw daylight streaming through his window.

He’d fallen asleep on Hoseok, trapped him, and he’d...allowed it. He hadn’t woken Jimin, or moved him, or snuck out. He’d just stayed put.

Jimin felt like he was burning.
It was instinctive to clutch something in the moment, but in the moment, that meant Hoseok, so when Jimin did it he heard a quiet grunt come from above. /Shit/.

He looked up, and to be perfectly honest...Hoseok wasn’t a pretty sleeper.
His head was off to one side, mouth slightly open. Hair, sticking out from where it must have rubbed against the top of the sofa. He wasn’t quite snoring, but his breathing definitely wasn’t silent...

God. All that and he still /really/ wanted to kiss him.

Jimin was so fucked.
He’d sort of had vague ideas of what asking Hoseok to stay the night would be like, how they would have played out, and this hadn’t been any of them. But that didn’t mean it was bad. Maybe Jimin was just too...well, he didn’t know. They were breaking the unwritten ‘rules’ again.
He heard a small buzz on his coffee table and squirmed to turn over, straining to reach his phone without sitting up.
Jimin grinned, rubbing sleep from his eyes. That’s right, Tae’d had a good night, too.

He made a small sound as something lightly tapped his face, bringing his hand away to—

Oh. The charms. Jimin forgot to take off his bracelet last night. He smiled, holding it up to a sunbeam.
As he admired the way the light caught it, the way the links shined and the charms glittered all different colors like they were pretty prisms, Jimin heard a low, tired, “Morning.”

He brought his arm down and smiled to Hoseok, who’d righted his head, closed his mouth.
“Morning,” he whispered happily, his own voice low and thick with sleep. He raised his hand back up to stroke Hoseok’s cheek, his heart racing when he nuzzled into it.
“You fell asleep so /fast/,” Hoseok slurred.
“You coulda moved me,” Jimin giggled.
“Mm...didn’ wanna...”
Jimin smiled, face flushed from the warmth of his clothes and Hoseok as he sat up enough to kiss Hoseok’s jaw.
“You’re too sweet, Hyung.”
“...can I get up real quick?”
“Oh, s-sure—“

Jimin watched Hoseok fly up and wobble, his legs probably sore, and shuffle to his bathroom.
Hoseok really had been too sweet to him. Jimin couldn’t remember when he’d conked out, but all the walking, the alcohol, the delicious food, and Hoseok’s /beautiful/ petting, God...

He sat up on the sofa, phone in hand as he got back to Taehyung.
Jimin laughed quietly, a little embarrassed but grateful. He and Taehyung may tease each other about things like this, but it was always fueled by genuine excitement for the other’s happiness.
“‘I got me that Agust /D/,’” came from directly behind Jimin. Hoseok was peering over his shoulder and read Taehyung’s next message aloud with the tone of a lawyer reading a document to a jury. Jimin jumped a foot out of his skin, yelping “HYUNG!” as he locked his phone.
“I was—Tae—Tae was telling me about his date—“

Jimin only grew more flustered as Hoseok chuckled. He still sounded so sleepy, still looked so sleepy, so he made space for him as he came back to sit on the sofa.

“Sounds like he had a good time,” he said with a grin.
Jimin smiled with color in his cheeks.

“It sounds like he did, but he won’t tell me anything. Brat.”
“Did you tell him about our date?
“I gave him cliffnotes...”

Jimin leaned forward and acted on his first desire of the morning, kissing Hoseok.

“We can talk about it tomorrow.”
Hoseok kissed him back languidly.

“You don’t work today?”

Jimin shook his head and smiled, kissing Hoseok with more energy, energy he could feel given back as Hoseok’s hands caressed his face.

“You’re really cute when you’re sleeping,” he murmured.
“You‘re not,” Jimin teased.
Jimin laughed when Hoseok suddenly started pinching his cheeks.

“What was that? Hm? What’d you say?”
“/I’m kidding, you’re cute/!” Jimin bubbled, “You’re cute, you’re cute—“

Hoseok released him and kissed him again.

“That’s what I thought you said,” he spoke matter-of-factly.
Jimin was a sleepy laughing mess at this point. He moved closer to Hoseok, enough to where he could wrap his arms around his shoulders, the sofa creaking under them.

“You’re /very/ cute, Hoseokie-hyung,” he said slowly, voice still in that weird state between whisper and gravel.
[🔞]
They kissed again, and Jimin knew it was different now. At this point he was very nearly in Hoseok’s lap, something he remedied by shuffling until he /was/ on Hoseok’s lap. Their hips snugly fit against each other as Hoseok’s hands found their place at Jimin’s waist.
There was a helplessness to their movements. They were still sluggish from not having fully woken up, in Jimin’s case, he hadn’t even stood, but they wanted more from each other, they needed to be closer.

Jimin rolled his hips and moaned softly into Hoseok, pressure building.
He was rewarded by Hoseok pulling at him, and Jimin pushed himself against until they were horizontal, Jimin on top of Hoseok and kissing him like it was his last day on Earth.

And it hit him again that he was off work today.

What a great last day he could have.
“What do you want,” Hoseok gasped between kisses, and dozens of shivers shot through Jimin. “Anything.”

Jimin ground his hips down and felt clearly how affected Hoseok was already and moaned. He was excited.

“I wanna finish what we started,” Jimin whispered. “Touch me, Hyung.”
~
Hoseok slowly grew more convinced that Jimin was either an angel sent from heaven to reward him or a demon on a mission from hell to kill him. It didn’t matter; Hoseok would do his bidding.

The hands on Jimin’s waist slid under his shirt, craving to touch his warm, smooth skin.
Jimin sighed against his lips, morning breath barely evident as Hoseok imagined he must have it, too.

‘Wasn’t this how last night should have gone?’ he wondered as his hands roamed Jimin’s sides, as Jimin’s knee pressed between Hoseok’s legs.
As the couch creaked under them while they switched positions, Hoseok realized he didn’t care how things “should” go. They knew they wanted each other, and wasn’t that enough? Did it matter how much time they’d spent before if this was how they felt now?

No.

“Pretty Jiminie...”
Jimin giggled at the praise, a cute sound that turned into an utterly lewd little groan as Hoseok nipped and kissed at his neck.

It hit him just how alone they were, how they could do however much they pleased, as loudly as they pleased...noise complaint willing.
Hoseok finally gave him what he wanted, not wanting to have this moment muffled by a kiss. As he focused on Jimin’s neck, he slipped a hand over Jimin’s crotch, moaning at the feeling of /him/, hard through his sweats, in his palm.

Jimin /whined/, hips jutting up for more.
How was Jimin single? How could anyone not give him everything he ever wanted? How had no one else been completely stolen by him? Was Hoseok just that lucky? Had he saved the country in a past life?

He decided to focus on his present life and stroked him, praising him more.
“You sound so cute, let me hear you, Jiminie,” he murmured as he kissed his jaw. “My pretty Jiminie—“
“/Hyung/—“ Jimin keened. Hoseok was rolling over his tip, and fuck was Jimin sensitive. He squirmed, pulling Hoseok into a kiss to stifle himself, but Hoseok wouldn’t have it.
When Hoseok felt a slight dampness, he looked down to see a small dark spot on his pants where he was kneading. He did kiss Jimin now, as slow as he’d brought the pace of his hand to.

Jimin wasn’t wearing anything else underneath.

Definitely a demon.
“No underwear, Jimin..?”

“Easier for you,” Jimin whimpered, fucking whimpered under him, but Hoseok could hear the smile on his face, the smile he had to lean up to see for himself.

And it /was/ easier for Hoseok to tug Jimin’s sweats down and take his hard cock in his hand.
“Oh fuck,” Jimin breathed. He bloomed beneath Hoseok, who smeared precome down his shaft, his thumb pressing against his slit. Hoseok kissed his forehead, the corners of his eyes, unrelenting in his desire to make Jimin feel /good/.

“Feels—aahn, /Hyung/—”

Cute cute /cute/.
Jimin was the most adorable trap to fall into. He was pure indulgence, raw pleasure. Hoseok felt the same headiness he had the day they’d met, having him on the kitchen counter, but better, harder, injected like a drug.

“Jimin, can you talk to me? Can you tell me how you feel?”
“Good, so good,” Jimin whined, voice hitching. Hoseok stroked him evenly and smiled, kissing him as he toyed with his tip again. Slick fingers made the glide easier.

“What else can Hyung do for yoy?”
“/Anything/.”

Hoseok slowed, softening his voice.

“Be specific, Jiminie...”
Jimin bucked, desperate to get the friction that Hoseok was now withholding from him, and another hard dose flooded through Hoseok.

“Baby, you have to tell me...”

Baby. He’d never called anyone baby. It’d just sort of slipped out, /all/ of this was just sort of slipping out.
But Jimin must have liked it, because even with Hoseok teasing him, he arched his back and moaned.

“I want it faster, /please/” he sobbed. “Please, please, Hyung—/ha/—!”

Anything he wanted. Everything he wanted. Hoseok quickened, and Jimin was wrecked.
Hoseok couldn’t look anywhere else. The world could be ending right outside, but that wouldn’t be nearly as important as seeing Jimin’s face when he was about to come.

“You like it like this, Jiminie?”
“Don’t stop,” was his breathless, pitchy reply. An answer that would do.
“You’re so pretty, baby, I wish you could see,” Hoseok cooed, voice shaky, kissing him gently. Jimin pulled him down to keep him there for a moment, but Hoseok broke away to look him in his dark eyes.

“Are you close, Jimin?” he murmured, moments before Jimin shuddered and came.
Jimin came with the most relieved cry, a short moan that turned into a long one. His orgasm hit and Hoseok stroked him through it, his hips twitching, eyes screwed shut, face red from the heat, lips red from kissing...

Hoseok came untouched.
If there was anything more beautiful than Jimin unraveling, it was Jimin undone. Jimin, loose and limp, lips parted, eyes closed and smiling like he were having a good dream. The way he took a deep breath and let out a long content sigh, laughing quietly in tired bliss.

“/Wow/.”
Hoseok brought his hand from him, unsure what to do with it as it was covered in come. Jimin had shot a bit on himself, white strings sticking out against the baby blue sweatshirt he wore. He didn’t seem to mind.

For now, he tucked Jimin’s length back into his sweats.
He gave a very experimental lick to his finger, the taste bitter on his tongue, but not unpleasant.

Just as Hoseok finished, Jimin sat up with a burst of energy and kissed him, hands on his shoulders, sliding down his arms, taking his hands, moving to the clasp of his pants.
“I’ll take care of you, Hyung,” he, smiling as he kissed Hoseok’s jaw, worked at the clasp, and Hoseok’s eyes blew open, taking his wrists quickly but gently.
“Y-You don’t have to...“

Jimin stopped immediately, looking concerned.

“Are you okay?”
“It’s—I’m not—...“
“...oh...”
“/I mean I was/!”

Hoseok caressed his cheek, embarrassed but needing him understand. Jimin looked so /crestfallen/, he didn’t think it was his fault, did he? Well, it /was/ his fault, but not in the way he thought!

“I was, but you were so—I just—...you don’t have to...now....”
Jimin’s eyes were wide, looking into Hoseok’s, and then very briefly flicking his gaze down to his crotch.

Hoseok silently pleaded for him to understand.

“I—you didn’t even need to lay a finger on me...” he confessed, and Jimin’s already scarlet-tinted cheeks darkened.
There was silence for just a moment before Jimin kissed Hoseok softly, sweetly, and they broke apart, Jimin was smiling, glitter in his eyes as he fixed pieces of Hoseok’s hair.

“I turned you on that much, Hyung?”

Definitely an angel.
“Yeah,” Hoseok breathed, relieved. “You did...”

Jimin’s grin was like a ray of sunshine, and he kissed Hoseok again. He seemed so pleased with himself...well, he should be.

“I’ll find something for you to wear.”
“Thanks...actually, can I get a shower?”
“Of course.”
Hoseok kissed him and stood, legs stiff from staying put for so long. There was also the uncomfortable, wet, now cold feeling in the front of his boxers, so he couldn’t move to the bathroom fast enough.
~
Jimin watched him go, watched the bathroom door shut, and heard the water of the shower pour before he plunged himself into one of the sofa’s pillows, clutching it close as he giggled and kicked his legs.

It /happened/! It happened and /fuck/ Hoseok had been so good to him...
He ran it all back over again in his head, his stomach tightening as the word ‘Baby’ floated through his mind. Jimin had been called baby before, but not like how Hoseok had called him baby.

Hoseok’s ‘baby’ was affectionate and sweet, and it had turned Jimin’s insides to jelly.
The whole time he’d been so in charge and control, and Jimin had been with those types, but Hoseok...he’d been so focused on Jimin, making sure he felt good, building him up and breaking him down, fuck...Jimin was a mess. He couldn’t stop smiling.

He needed to busy himself.
He took a deep breath, taking his phone with him to his bedroom, tossing it on his bed. It was time to find clean clothes for the both of them, something comfortable. Poor Hyung had even slept in those jeans...
Jimin turned at the sound of his phone buzzing, bundles of clothes in his arms as he picked it to look at his notifs. He was confused until he saw the message from earlier, the one Hoseok had seen, and laughed.
Jimin cackled. That was a good enough cliffhanger until tomorrow.

He left his bedroom and stood in front of his own bathroom, knocking on it for the very first time before opening it.

“These are on the sink,” he called over the water as he sat down the clean clothes.
“Thanks!”
Jimin stared at the shower curtain for just a moment before ducking out and shutting the door, feeling flustered.

As if the guy in his shower hadn’t just had his hands down his pants, hadn’t called him ‘Baby,’ hadn’t licked Jimin’s come from his own fingers.

His phone buzzed.
Jimin read those notifs over a few times before clearing them away.

He and Taehyung were happy. Hoseok was happy. For once, life just seemed...full. Even if his auditions kept coming up short, even if his part-time job wasn’t the most stimulating, life, overall, was good.
He went back to his room and changed into a loose t-shirt and another pair of sweatpants. He wanted a shower, but more than that, he wanted to get his morning stretches done.

He went back to the living to move the coffee table aside, but stopped short with a sound of annoyance.
Their ice cream bowls, the bottoms of which were coated in swirled sticky vanilla and bean paste. Jimin huffed as he took them to the kitchen. It’d be better to scrub this out sooner than later.

The water running from the sink masked the sound of the bathroom door opening.
Jimin hummed a song as he rinsed, a mindless tune as the hot water melted through the sweet residue, the suds broke it apart.

He had no idea...
Jimin gasped as arms looped around his shoulders from behind, a head rested on his chin, and a weight was put on his back. Radiantly warm, minty-smelling weight.

Jimin relaxed, leaning back in Hoseok’s embrace.

“Feel better?”
“Mhm. I like your shampoo.”
“It’s good, right?”
Jimin couldn’t turn around, but he saw the black sleeves on Hoseok’s arms and smiled.

“Everything fit okay?”
“Pants are a little snug, but it can’t be helped.”
“Aah, I was worried about that...”
“It’s no big deal. Thank you.”

And Hoseok kissed his cheek, and Jimin grinned.
“You were out sooner than I expected. I was gonna do my stretches but now I guess I’ll have an audience.”
“Do you dance in here?”
“Ah...warm-ups, yes,” Jimin explained, “dance, no. I’d bother /him/.”

Jimin pointed a wet spoon to the floor and received an “Ah” of understanding
Jimin nodded his head toward the refrigerator.

“Do me a favor and get the bowl of rice out of the fridge? Top shelf, to the left.”

Hoseok whined, clearly opposed to letting Jimin go, but he did as he was told, taking a moment before setting a large blue bowl by the stove.
“Thank you, Hyung,” Jimin said sweetly as he finished with the dishes. Hoseok gravitated towards him but Jimin turned, kissing him instead of taking the embrace.

“Stretches, shower, omurice. Sound good?”
“Oh my god, you cook, too?” Hoseok pretended to cry. “You /are/ perfect.”
“I change my mind, get out of my kitchen,” Jimin joked, pushing Hoseok out as the latter cackled.
~
Hoseok was still hiccuping with laughter as he sat on the sofa. Jimin was fun to mess with.

This had turned into quite the morning, and they’d barely been awake an hour.

To be honest his head was still spinning, and the heat from the shower hadn’t helped, but so far so good.
If someone had told Hoseok that giving a handjob on a beat-up old sofa to someone he’d known for two days would easily be the most erotic experience of his life thus far, he’d have called the cops on them.

But here he was.

And there was Jimin, pushing the coffee table aside.
The first thing Jimin did was reach to toward the ceiling, then a few lunges.

Hoseok watched, genuinely intrigued. This was a part of Jimin’s his daily routine. He felt a little odd, almost as if he were intruding.

But Jimin had warmly /invited/ Hoseok into his life.
While Hoseok was being introspective, he also appreciated Jimin’s physique. That was something he’d /been/ doing since meeting Jimin, but now, just casually and comfortably observing, could he really take him in.

This was actually the first time he’d seen Jimin’s bare arms.
Jimin sat on the floor, facing away from Hoseok as he spanned out his legs almost totally straight across. Hoseok was honestly impressed.

He already knew Jimin was flexible, he’d seen it himself on stage, but seeing him bend to the side to touch his toes was a still a surprise.
He did that for a bit, both sides, and Hoseok followed him with his eyes as if he were watching a tennis match.

Jimin brought his legs together and laid himself flat before he raised his body up until only his upper half was on the floor, his legs pedaling in the air.
Jimin looked up at him from the floor, upside down and smiling.

“Wanna join me?”
“I—I’ll just get in the way,” Hoseok laughed, a little intimidated. Somehow, Jimin shrugged, still pedaling.
“Suit yourself...wanna see something cool?”

Hoseok nodded, of course, totally entranced.
Jimin grinned devilishly and stood, mumbling, “I’ve been working on this,” as he crossed to the other end of the room.

He had every ounce of Hoseok’s attention.

Jimin was silent, taking a moment to judge the space. Finally, he seemed satisfied as he faced away from Hoseok.
Before Hoseok could wonder what would happen next, Jimin stepped to the side and spun in place, arms out as if he were flying. In the next moment he fell back, rolling in a backwards somersault. His foot found the floor again and rooted, and he unfurled from the roll to stand.
Hoseok’s jaw may as well have been on the floor.

“/Jimi—/!“

Jimin put a finger up, silencing Hoseok instantly. He finally met eyes with him.

And as he locked eyes with Hoseok, finger up, telling him ‘Wait’...Jimin slid into a perfect split.

And Hoseok lost his /mind/.
“WHOAH, JIMIN!”

Hoseok was clapping, /clapping/. Jimin lost his serious composure, bursting into laughter as he toppled into a huddled giggly puddle on the ground.

“/Jimiiin/, that was amazing!!”
“H-Hyung, calm down!” Jimin wheezed.
“Aaah, what the hell, that was—oh my god...“
Hoseok looked to the laughing mess that was Jimin, awestruck and a little offended. Not at him. Offended that someone like Jimin really was just /existing/ like this. Talented. Pretty. Sweet and soft. Strong as hell.

And no one was /hyping/ him? Well except Taehyung, of course.
Hoseok remembered that night at the opera. The first time Park Jimin had shaken him, enraptured him.

He’d made a promise to appreciate him with all he had. Not just for his beauty or his talent, but because of him right now. This person recovering from a giggle fit.

His joy.
Jimin stood with ease and moved to Hoseok, kissing his forehead and running his fingers through his damp hair.

“I’m glad you like my dancing, Hyung.”
“Everyone will, someday,” Hoseok murmured, taking his hand and kissing it. It was the truth. It would be the truth. He knew this.
Jimin looked at him for a moment before smiling gently.

“I’ll keep trying until then,” he murmured, kissing him one more time before heading towards the bathroom. He turned and nodded towards the kitchen.

“If you can cut some vegetables for me, that’d get us breakfast faster.”
Hoseok gave him a thumbs-up, already moving to stand.

“You got it,” he said with a confident smile. A smile that said ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve totally chopped vegetables before. I know exactly how to do that, and have done it many times before. Yep! Me!’
Jimin believed it and smiled.

“You’re the best,” he said quietly. He finally left Hoseok and his melted heart alone, and after a moment the sound of running water could be heard.

.../fuck/.

Hoseok had around ten minutes to figure out the proper way to chop vegetables.
It wasn’t his fault he and his family had chefs! It wasn’t his fault his mother didn’t let him anywhere near the knives growing up! Had he /watched/ the chefs chop vegetables? Absolutely. Had he /retained/ it? Absolutely not. Fuck. /Shit/.

Big knife. Let’s find a big knife.
Hoseok found a large butcher knife in a drawer and knew this was probably wrong, but he could cover more area this way, right?

He opened the fridge to find a bag of carrots, amongst other vegetables. A carrot seemed a good place to start.

God, what if he cut his hand?
No, he wasn’t gonna get hurt. He’d be fine.

Hoseok was gonna chop this fucking carrot, and he and Jimin were gonna have a nice breakfast together, and then Hoseok would subtly ensure something like this never happened again.

He set the carrot on the counter, holding it steady.
~
Jimin breathed, just enjoying the quiet and the hot water before he got to work.

Doing his new choreo for Hoseok had exhilarated him; he hadn’t even shown Tae yet. He still felt a little shaky on the come-up from the roll, but that was the best he’d done so far.
He’d added the split at the end mostly to distract Hoseok from really commenting on the actual move itself, which had worked, until Hoseok did what he did best, which was be sweet and unconditionally supportive for no reason.

...

He really was a good person.
He hadn’t said it in the living room, and it wasn’t something he’d say aloud, but Hoseok seemed to have more confidence in Jimin than Jimin had in himself.

It was hard to stay confident.

But he was still trying. He needed to keep trying, and Hoseok made him want to try harder.
As Jimin squeezed shampoo into his his palm, he noticed how empty his wrist looked. He’d taken his bracelet off and now it sat safely beside the sink Jimin wondered if his wrist had always looked so plain without it.

He wondered what exactly he’d done to be here now.
Realistically he was still the exact same, though not quite struggling as much financially. At least for now. He sighed, the realization hitting him again that he wouldn’t have to worry about his rent again for several months. Honestly if he played his cards right, the year.
He was the exact same guy with the exact same skills, and somehow those skills had helped him two months ago in a a way he hadn’t even known until two days ago.

Hoseok thought he was amazing. Incredible.

...was it just because he didn’t know? What if the show had gone normally?
...stop.

Everything had gone the way it was supposed to do.

It didn’t matter what Hoseok would have done and thought if he’d seen Taemin, because he’d seen Jimin.

Jimin wasn’t sure exactly /what/ Hoseok had seen in him that night, but he’d take it.

He’d take this.
A sharp cry jerked him out of his mind.

“Hyung?” he called over the shower.
“I’M GOOD,” Jimin heard back faintly.

...

Jimin rinsed scrubbed up and rinsed quickly before turning off the water, brow furrowed as he dried just enough to get dressed and leave the bathroom.
“Everything okay?” he asked as he stepped into the room, working his bracelet back on.

Hoseok spun in place, eyes wide and nodding. He was holding his own hand.

“Oh yeah, no, I’m good, so good.”

...

“Hyung, what happened.” Jimin asked again, stepping closer.
“Nothing!!”
Jimin frowned as he approached Hoseok, quietly taking his hand away from him. Hoseok didn’t put up a fight.

“Oh, Hyung...” Jimin soothed as he saw blood. Hoseok must’ve nicked his finger. He looked to the counter and saw half of a whole carrot, the other half in odd chunks.
“...I’m no good with kitchen stuff,” Hoseok confessed, a bit embarrassed. He winced as Jimin took a paper towel and dabbed at the blood.
“You didn’t have to donjt,” Jimin said softly, pulling him over to the sink and gesturing for him to wash the cut. “I’ll get a band-aid.”
Jimin went back to the bathroom and rooted under the sink, hearing Hoseok call “Yes I did” back in response to Jimin’s statement.
“Why?” Jimin called, finding a small box of bandages.
“Because you asked me to...”
“...”

Jimin smiled and came back to Hoseok.

“Hold out your hand.”
Jimin patted Hoseok’s finger dry and carefully covered the cut.

“You don’t have to do things because I ask, Hyung.”
“Have you /met/ you?” Hoseok asked softly but incredulously, making Jimin blush. After a moment, he kissed the bandage.

“There we go.”
“Sorry...”
“It’s okay.”
Jimin went to where Hoseok was working, wiping away a few drops of blood from the counter and knife before taking the carrot and chopping it with ease.

He’d fix the other half that Hoseok had chopped, but not when he was looking.

“Can you crack eggs?”
“/Yes/. /That/ I can do.”
Eggs were cracked and whisked, vegetables were diced, and ham sizzled. The kitchen smelled wonderful, and Jimin thought it was nice to cook with and for someone.

Hoseok would watch Jimin do something simple and be in awe. It was actually /really/ funny; it was just omurice...
“You don’t cook, Hyung?”
“Aah...I’ve never had to...”
“I see,” Jimin said with a grin. He folded the first omelette over perfectly and giggled when he heard a soft, impressed “Whoah..” from over his shoulder.
“What /do/ you do? Aside from get forced to operas and spoil boys?”
“Don’t say it like /that/, that makes me sound like a dirty old man” Hoseok grumbled, looking disgusted, and Jimin laughed. “Besides, I only wanna spoil you...”
“I see, I see.”
“Mm,” Hoseok continued, looking up in thought. “Music? I love music. Dance videos. Take walks, shop...”
“Oh, if you wanna put some music on, I have a speaker. It should already be on,” Jimin offered, pointing a spatula to a small speaker by the TV, and Hoseok went “Ooo, okay!”

He left the room and fiddled with his phone for a bit, and soon Jimin heard a familiar connection sound.
“I also collect cassettes.”
“/Really?/“ Jimin asked, interested. “That’s old-school.”
“Some of the best stuff’s from the old school,” Hoseok responded, and Jimin didn’t need to see him to know he was grinning.

“Okay, whaaaat do weeee—ah, yeah—“
Well this sounded nice. The woman had a pretty voice, and the rap was solid. Something about it seemed...odd, but he shrugged it off.

“Got us that Agust D,” Hoseok called before laughing, and Jimin looked confused.
“What?”
“Oh, uh, Taehyung-ah. His joke? He likes this?”
“...”
“...the whole—?“
“OH, is this Yoongi-hyung??” Jimin asked, eyes wide as he waved to the speaker to his spatula. “Oh /yeah/, I can totally hear it now. You know him?”
“‘Yoongi-hyung’...?” Hoseok laughed, looking puzzled. “Are you a fan?”
“Well I like that he’s good to Tae.”
“I haven’t listened to his music yet, but he’s a good guy.”

Hoseok looked so lost, but Jimin didn’t notice, sliding the second omelette on a plate.

“I’m surprised you know him, too. Small world.”
“It’s—not really a surprise, he’s one of the best rappers of this generation...”
Jimin raised his eyebrows.

“Really? Huh. Well, like I said, I haven’t heard him yet, but I like him. This song is good, I like this.”
“I’m confused,” Hoseok blurted.
“About?”
“Okay, you...like Agust D.”
“Yeah, Yoongi-hyung. He’s nice. A little awkward, but he’s sweet to Tae.”
“You keep calling him hyung...”
“Well what else am I supposed to call Tae’s boyfriend?” Jimin asked, a little frustrated.
“...”
“What?”
“Oooh I get it.”
“Get what?”
Hoseok pushed Jimin’s shoulder.
“The joke, I get it.”
“What joke...?”
“That Taehyung-ah’s dating Agust D.”
“He is!”
“Look, I can admit I might have had dreams about marrying Kim Namjoon and opening a label together, called /him/ Hyung, but that was when I was younger. It’s just not realistic.”

Now Jimin /was/ frustrated, setting his utensils on the counter as he turned to face Hoseok.
“/Min Yoongi/ comes into our shop and brings Tae lunch just about every other day. He was there when you—!”
“Jimin, that was /not/ Agust D. I know what he looks like. /I/ listen to him. That guy just /looked/ like him.”
“...”

Jimin was silent, irritated as he took out his phone.
Perfect. Taehyung’s cute selfie from his and Yoongi’s first date.

He turned the screen to Hoseok, brows knitted in annoyance.

“Is this not Min Yoo—?“
“WHAT THE /FUCK/!?”

Hoseok snatched Jimin’s phone, eyes blown. Jimin huffed.

“See? I told you! Now say sorry,” Jimin grumbled.
“I—sorry—I’m sorry, what the /hell/—no.”

Hoseok’s voice went flat, eyes locked on Jimin shaking his head as if trying to convince himself.

“You’re joking.”
“Hyung. I’m /not joking/.”
“...”
“Taehyung told me before I met him the guy makes music. I didn’t know he was popular!”
Hoseok looked back to the image on the screen, silent, stunned.

“...he’s dating Agust D,” he uttered.
“Yes. Finally. Thank you—“
“GOD I /KNEW/ THAT WAS HIM!” Hoseok screamed, hands flying to his head. “I /KNEW/ THAT WAS HIM IN THE SHOP!”
“You said ‘he just looks like him!?”
“/I told myself that so I could sleep at night/!! ‘Oh there’s no /way/ that’s Agust D’, I’m gonna—“

Jimin stared, concerned as Hoseok went dead silent, looking into space.

“...Hyung...you okay?”
“...I’m sorry for not believing you,” he said softly, handing Jimin’s phone to him.
Hoseok still stood in a quiet place between shock and excitement, so Jimin kissed his cheek on the way to the table.

“He comes in very often. Just so you know.”
“What’s his favorite drink?” Hoseok asked quietly.
“Tae always makes him a caramel machiatto.”
“God, it /is/ him...”
“/Come eat/,” Jimin laughed, pulling Hoseok from the kitchen. “It’ll get cold, and you put your blood into this. You can be a cute fanboy later.”

“I’m always a cute fanboy...” Hoseok murmured, sitting down in a bit of a daze.
~
What. The /fuck/.

How was Jimin this calm!? Did he really just not /know/? Maybe that was for the best. If /Hoseok/ didn’t know that Min Yoongi was dating someone, then no one knew.

He looked at the puffy yellow omelette, mouth watering as Jimin drizzled red ketchup over it.
“This looks /really/ good, Jiminie.”

Jimin laughed, looking shy.

“To be honest, it’s pretty much the only thing I can make...”
“That’s one more thing than I can make, though.”
“True.”

They laughed and dug in. Totally delicious. Hoseok hummed in content, his cheeks full.
“So why cassettes?”
“Mm?” he hummed, looking up. He swallowed his food, almost choking to do it quickly. “What?”
“Why do you collect cassettes?”
“Oh!”

Hoseok grinned, scooping up more omelette and some stray grains of rice.

“Like I said, some of the best stuff‘s old school.”
“The first I got was from Namjoon before he got out of the underground scene.”
“You saw RM before he was famous?” Jimin asked, amazed, and Hoseok grinned wider.
“I know.”

He tapped his plate with his fork twice and pointed it towards Jimin.

“/That’s/ where it started.”
“After that it was just me finding all these first generation rap groups and idols and Western artists that didn’t last into digital, or just their classic releases...it’s still crazy people just get rid of stuff like that. But that just means /I/ can get it and appreciate it.”
“So they’re all used, then?”
“For the most part,” Hoseok answered. “I got /real/ lucky with a g.o.d. album that some kid at school’s older sister didn’t want anymore. Case and everything. Other stuff is eBay. Sometimes you just get the tape, and that’s fine, but the case, hoo...”
“It’s silly, but...I don’t know. It feels nice to preserve something.”
“It doesn’t sound silly,” Jimin commented, eating for a moment before speaking again. “...it sounds kinda like you’re a treasure-hunter.”
“That’s what it felt like, for sure,”
“‘Felt?’”
Hoseok sighed, and Jimin was automatically worried.

“It’s—you probably won’t believe me when I say it, but it’s always been hard for me to do the things I want. Let’s just say my dad watches my mail like a hawk now.”
“Oh,” Jimin said softly, understanding. “He didn’t approve?”
“‘Approve.’” Hoseok repeated with a laugh. “‘Approve’ means I could have kept going and just dealt with him being pissy sonetomes, but nooo. ‘It’s all trash. This is smut. These people are degenerates.’”

He looked to Jimin with a stressed smile.

“They’re gone.”
“Gone?”
“Gone.”
Hoseok picked at his omelette, frustration growing, though he took care not to point it towards Jimin.

“Gone, probably locked up in his office, or maybe he sold them, or maybe he burned them, /who knows/, and now it’s been two months.”

He smiled sadly.

“They’re why I met you.”
He watched Jimin’s eyes grow large, something dawning on him.

“/That’s/ what your maid meant! Before we met, she said something about the opera being...God, what did she say? Some creepy—‘a corrective measure!’ That!”
“Oh /God/,” Hoseok groaned, leaning back in his chair.
“Well? Did it work, Hyung?” Jimin asked with false positivity. His voice dripped sweetness, Hoseok couldn’t help but smile through his agitation. “Were you corrected?”
“Oh /yeah/,” he replied, eating the last of his breakfast. “100% corrected. Cassettes? What cassettes?”
“Who needs cassettes when the world of opera is /so/ enticing?”
“I’m just glad you were punished on /my/ night,” Jimin laughed nervously, and Hoseok laughed along until he though about for a moment and laughed hsrder, shaking his head.

“If it wasn’t you, I’d just still be mad.”
“What do you mean?”

Hoseok shrugged.

“I mean I liked the opera because I liked /you/. I thought you were amazing. If it were Taemin, I’d still be mad about the whole thing.”

Hoseok scraped up some rice that had gotten away.

“Now I’m still mad but /also/ have you,” he joked.
For a moment there was only the sound of Hoseok scraping his plate. After a moment, he looked up to find Jimin staring at him, his expression off. Almost like he was about to cry, but not quite. Regardless, Hoseok sat up straighter, worried.

“What’s up?”
“What was it...why me?”
“Why you what?” Hoseok asked.
“What—what was it that I did that made you—I was off that night.”
“What? No you weren’t.”
“The last note, my voice broke.”
“Did it? I didn’t hear.”
“It did.”
“Okay, but I didn’t hear it...” Hoseok said firmly. Jimin said nothing, and Hoseok frowned.
“You moved on that stage like you belonged there, Jimin, and you do,” Hoseok said softly, clasping Jimin’s hand. “And I wanted to meet you because you felt /real/. My whole life it’s just been fake smiles and putting up with people and going along with whatever people expect...”
“I wanted to give you a chance to be seen because I wanted to see you and meet you, and I wanted other people to know how special you were, too. I was miserable that /whole/ week because of my tapes. I was miserable about going to the opera.”

He thumbed circles on Jimin’s palm.
“You woke me up.”
“...”
“...”

Jimin wasn’t saying anything, just sort of looked down at their hands. Hoseok continued his soothing, feeling a little quiet himself. He’d been honest. More honest than he felt he’d ever been with anyone. Jimin was amazing.

Jimin needed to believe that, too.
“.../and/ you have a cute butt,” Hoseok said with full sincerity.

Jimin’s head snapped up, looking at Hoseok with confusion before it melted into a grin, before he laughed and pushed Hoseok’s hand away, “Stop that!”

Hoseok cackled, happy his plan worked.
“And you have cute /eyes/ and a cute /nose/ and /cheeks/—“ Hoseok cooed, grabbing Jimin’s hand. Jimin was in a giggle fit, squirming out of his grasp to playfully swat him.
“Hyuuung!”
“—so cute I wanna squeeze you—!“
“HYUNG!”

But Jimin was gone, nearly collapsed on the table.
Hoseok stopped, if only to watch him for a bit.

He didn’t know if he could feel soft, but if he could, this must be what it felt like. Warm. Floaty, like bubbling champagne. Jimin’s laugh made Hoseok genuinely feel /better/.

He ruffled his still damp hair, teasing done.
Jimin’s head was on the table, shoulders shaking with residual laughter that eventually ended. He looked up at Hoseok through those pretty lashes and God. /God/.

Hoseok figured he might as well make his hand useful, petting Jimin gently.

“/Don’t/, that’s seriously too good.”
Hoseok whined as Jimin pried his hand away. He scooted his chair back to stand and take their plates, bumping the back of Hoseok’s chair with his hip as he passed.

“I wash, you dry?”
“Sounds fair.”

Hoseok followed him toward the sink, taking the small towel Jimin handed him.
Now /this/...this was something.

Hoseok’s music still played, something from The Weeknd. Jimin washed their plates, handed them to Hoseok to wipe and pat dry before finding their place in the cabinet.

It was a short something, but Hoseok had liked it.
Then the dishes were done.

Breakfast was done. Showers were done. Jimin’s stretches were done.

In theory, there was nothing else left to do.

The two looked at other for moment before Jimin quietly announced, “I’m gonna brush my teeth,” and hurried out.

The tension was back...
Hoseok let out a silent breath. How was it that Jimin still made him nervous? /Especially/ now? It made absolutely no sense. But it was a good nervous, a giddy nervous.

After what they’d done on the sofa, Hoseok could tell they’d been much more affectionate with each other...
“Hyun’?” Jimin called from the bathroom. Hoseok could tell he must be brushing his teeth right this moment. “D’ you haf plans t’day?”

“No, I—just planned on going home.”
“Ah.”

The sound of spitting, rinsing, spitting again. Silence.

Jimin appeared, leaning on the doorframe.
“Did you wanna wash your clothes before then? There’s machines in the basement.”

Jimin was beautiful, brilliant. Jimin knew exactly what he’d done. Hoseok could kiss him for it.

Hell, he would.

Hoseok crossed the room, meeting him for a minty kiss, grateful for the extension.
It wasn’t even necessarily that Hoseok wanted to stay with Jimin—well who was he kidding, of course he wanted to stay with Jimin. But that wasn’t all of it.

He knew they were only prolonging the inevitable, but he’d take a few more hours. He’d take anything.
“Unless you’re in a rush?” Jimin sighed when they pulled apart, the beginnings of a smile on his face. Hoseok shook his head.
“Not at all.”
“Thought so. Good, ‘cause I didn’t have enough to throw in until now.”

Jimin left him for his room, and Hoseok couldn’t help but peek.
Jimin had a large bed, a dark blue duvet bunched up near the top with white sheets and pillows. Clothes were on the floor, but it didn’t look messy. A few booklets...sheet music, probably?

He averted his gaze when Jimin came back into view, a half-full laundry basket on his hip.
Hoseok made a small “Oh” when he realized he hadn’t grabbed his own clothes yet and went into the bathroom to dig them out of a small hamper.

When he returned, he lifted a few pieces of Jimin’s laundry and put his own under, hiding them from view.

“There we go,” he mumbled.
Jimin smiled at his cautiousness.

“You know people have to wash their sheets around here, too,” he said quietly as he moved past, teasing in his voice that made Hoseok’s cheeks flare up. “You’re fine, Hyung.”
“It’s just a habit,” Hoseok laughed, unable to look Jimin in the eye.
“Habit? Am I gonna have to watch myself when we’re out together?” Jimin pressed, grinning, and Hoseok wanted to die.
“/Not that/, I’m not—I can—...”
“You can...?”
“.../aah/, knock it off, don’t make me say it!”
Hoseok pushed at his shoulder as Jimin giggled into oblivion.
“I /meant/ that we have Soo-Hee. And other housekeepers,” Hoseok explained as he opened the door for Jimin.
“Oooh, that does make sense...”
“Yeah, she shouldn’t have to touch.../that/.”
“‘That?’”
“Yes /that/, /stop/,” Hoseok pushed at him again as they reached the elevator.
The doors opened right away to emptiness that the two of them filled quickly, and they shut again.

“God...you’re lucky you’re cute,” Hoseok joked, pushing him again. Jimin bit his lip, quieting himself to just short breath laughs from his nose. “You’re lucky I like you...”
“How much?”

Jimin spoke quietly, looking to Hoseok and nowhere else. Certainly not to the security camera, Hoseok thought.

Just as he leaned forward, the elevator slowed for the 13th floor, and Hoseok lurched back. Jimin giggled beside him.

“I guess a lot,” he murmured.
The doors slid open.

It was like a vacuum to space; the air was totally sucked out of the room.

Three people stared wide-eyed, surprised, Jimin and Hoseok in the elevator...and the man who’d taken a step toward them before freezing in place.

A man in a black hoodie and sweats.
He was carrying a laundry basket loaded with bedsheets, pillowcases. There was a strange scent in the air Hoseok tried his best not to react to.

He had dark circles under his eyes, like he hadn’t slept in days.

No one said a word. No one moved.

And then the doors slid shut.
Jimin and Hoseok stood in total silence for four floors before Jimin hissed “Holy SHIT!”
“That was /him/, right!?”
“That was /totally/ him, oh my GOD.”

Jimin was whispering as if he was afraid of being heard. Hoseok wrinkled his nose.

“You /smelled/ that, right...?”
“Cat pee.”
“Really?”

Jimin nodded confidently.

“100%. Jeez...oh man I didn’t even think of that, he’s probably got like eight cats. That was a bedset, yeah?”
“Looked like...”
“Ugh.”

Jimin shuddered and Hoseok swallowed, a bit shaken.

“Do you—do you think we’ll run into him down there?”
Hoseok was honestly a little shaken. And the thought of running into that sort of person in a dark basement...

But Jimin shook his head.

“No way. We probably wrecked his whole day, he didn’t wanna be in here with us.”
“When does he normally do laundry?”
“God if I know...”
“God that’s /crazy/...I’ve seen him more this year than I ever did last year...are /you/ doing this?”

Jimin looked to Hoseok, who’s eyes grew wide.

“Are you a weirdo good-luck charm?”
“What, no! I mean—“

Hoseok was quick to think.

“—well I found /you/, so maybe—“
“Hey!”
The atmosphere came back as the doors opened for the basement, and /yep/, it was just as dark and creepy as Hoseok expected. It was lit with bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling, just a few. Old machines ran along the walls, six washers, six dryers, empty baskets sitting on some.
Jimin stepped out no hesitation and Hoseok followed him closely, not wanting to be far from him right now.

Of course it was only the machine furthest from the elevator that was empty. He pinched Jimin’s shirt, as if touching him would ensure their safety.

Jimin smiled gently.
“So I have a scaredy-cat hyung...”
“Is this not a reasonable reaction?” Hoseok pouted, pulling at Jimin’s shirt. “First that guy, now this place—“
“He’s harmless,” Jimin chuckled. “It’s not like he’s a serial killer.”
“Would a serial killer let you know he’s a serial killer!?”
Jimin’s phone went off on his pocket and Hoseok yelped.
“/Relax/!” Jimin laughed as he loaded the washer. “It’s probably just Tae.”

Just as Hoseok settled back down, the elevator dinged, and he turned to stare at the doors, heart gripped with fear.

And when they opened...
...it was just a mother and her young son, probably around four years old. He was holding her hand until the doors fully opened, and then he darted off into the basement to run around in the open space.

“Aah, stay close, don’t be wild...”
The boy ran back quickly, steps quick and short. The woman spotted Jimin and Hoseok and bowed slightly as she walked to a dryer, smiling gently as she said “Excuse us.”

Jimin and Hoseok did the same. Jimin waved to the boy and laughed softly as he hid behind his mothers skirt.
“That’s everything,” Jimin said, closing the lid. Hoseok quit clutching his shirt. He felt a little embarrassed at how a kid had come running full-speed in here when he himself was cowering.

As they turned for the elevator Jimin waved goodbye to the boy, who shyly waved back.
As they stepped into the elevator, Jimin took out his phone to check his messages and fondly laughed “Oh no” under his breath.

“What’s up?”

Hoseok waited as Jimin turned the screen so he could see for himself.
“Wow,” was all Hoseok could really say. He’d never seen that picture of Agust D before. Had he always looked so...soft? And cute?

“He says Yoongi-hyung had to work today, so no lunch date today,” Jimin said as it seemed like another message came in.
“Ah...”
“I’m happy for them.”
Hoseok saw the way Jimin smiled at his screen before pocketing his phone again.

It was a still a little hard to believe, but Kim Taehyung, the best barista in Seoul, really was dating rap legend Agust D. Min Yoongi.

“It’s nice when you find out your idols are also good people.”
“Taemin is a good person, too,” Jimin said with a nod.
“Oh yeah, what was that like?” Hoseok asked as leaned against the back wall.
“He’s got a really good work ethic, great control. And friendly. He was really amazing as the King...I almost feel bad you didn’t get to see him.”
Jimin’s voice got quiet, laughing softly, but Hoseok knew.

He slipped his hand into Jimin’s.

“I don’t feel bad at all.”

Squeezed it tightly.

“I got to see the show the /one/ night it was different, and that makes it the most special night, right? I saw something special.”
“I saw /someone/ special.”

He raised Jimin’s hand to his lips and kissed it gently, seeing him flush out of the corner of his eye...but he was smiling again. That was the most important thing.

Hoseok swung their hands and shrugged comically.

“So yeah. I don’t feel bad at all.”
The next thing he felt was Jimin leaning on his side, his face buried in his shoulder.

“Why can’t you be a casting director?” he half-laughed-half-whined, voice muffled, and Hoseok immediately took to stroking his hair in comfort.

“I’d put you in everything.”
The pair stayed close as the elevator continued its ascent. Hoseok quit his petting in favor of holding Jimin by the waist.

“I’d keep you so busy you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself,” he sighed, rubbing his hand up and down Jimin’s side.

Jimin mumbled something.

“Hm?”
“I said I’d know what to do with you, though.”

The doors opened. Jimin took Hoseok by the hand and led him out, Hoseok realizing through his mind going into total blue-screen shutdown that Jimin could literally lead him to the gates of hell and he’d follow willingly, /happily/.
Jimin said nothing more as they walked down the hall, let him Hoseok go to unlocked his apartment door.

The air felt thicker, was it warmer? Had someone turned up the heat on Jimin’s floor?
Hoseok stepped into the apartment, turning back to watch Jimin follow in and quickly lock the door behind him.

Then he turned to face Hoseok, staying by the door, looking at him with his pretty eyes. He looked stiff, as if he were holding his breath. As if he were waiting.
~
[ 🔞 ]
Jimin didn’t have to wait long before Hoseok got the picture.

He grinned and gasped as Hoseok crossed the floor and kissed him /hard/. The door clattered as Jimin’s back made contact, and he arched just enough to let Hoseok grab him as he threw his arms around his shoulders.
He let out a breathy laugh as Hoseok’s hands ran down his back and faltered for a moment before cupping his ass, as if he’d needed to think about it first.

He was seriously too cute.

So Jimin rewarded him with his tongue, moaning softly into him as Hoseok found a better grip.
“Can I pick you up?” Hoseok breathed.
“/Can/ you?”

Jimin egged him on and let out a small cry, followed by a giddy laugh as Hoseok scooped him up. He was quick to put his legs around the taller’s torso, quick to meet his lips again.

“Room,” he instructed between breaths.
The walk to Jimin’s bedroom was a bit treacherous. Hoseok was insistent to keep kissing Jimin, which the latter didn’t mind at all, but it was difficult kiss someone when they kept bumping into everything. Jimin tried not to laugh, he really did, but eventually he sputtered.
He was still giggling when they did find the door, his head falling back once Hoseok got it open.

“Are you okay?” he chuckled as Hoseok sat them at the foot of his messy bed. Jimin knew he should have made it earlier. Oh well.

“I think your counter took a chunk outta my hip...”
“I’m sorry,” Jimin said sweetly before kissing Hoseok again. Now that they were sitting, he was nicely straddling him, but that wasn’t good enough. Jimin rolled his hips, already a little hard and feeling another rush of arousal as he felt Hoseok was the same.

“Lie down.”
Regretfully, Hoseok lying down meant he had to separate himself from Jimin, but Jimin was quick to crawl over him and remedy the problem.

They were back to kissing, though not quite as urgently as before, Jimin lying on Hoseok, pulling his hand back to his so-called “cute” butt.
He /really/ liked it when Hoseok called him cute.

When Hoseok said it, it wasn’t demeaning or dismissive. It wasn’t ‘That’s cute’ when he told someone about his aspirations. It wasn’t ‘You’re so cute’ when he was genuinely frustrated.

Hoseok’s ‘cute’ came from adoration.
He wanted Hoseok to call him pretty, cute, adorable, /baby/, anything. It made Jimin feel warm. It made Jimin want to be sweet to him.

Hoseok’s hand slipped under the elastic of his sweats, but then he stopped.

“You’re wearing underwear?” he murmured, smiling, a bit breathless.
“Mhm,” Jimin answered, kissing just under Hoseok’s lips before he sat up and shimmied his hips. Hoseok inhaled sharply, trying to keep his cool, but Jimin could feel his dick hadn’t gotten that memo.

“What happened to making it easier for me?” he breathed shakily.
Jimin looked his lips and loved the way Hoseok swallowed.

“What’s easier—”

He shifted back off of Hoseok—

“—than lying back—“

—to lie on his stomach, his head between Hoseok’s legs—

“—/relaxing/—“

—stroking his thighs.

“—and letting me thank you for earlier?”
“Would you like that, Hoseok-hyung?” Jimin asked, voice low and sweet as one of his hands moved to ghost over the now obvious bulge that showed through the pants he’d given Hoseok.

A shuddered “/Oh/ my God,” was what he got in response, and hips twitching up into his open palm.
“Is that a yes? I’d like to know, Hyung—“
“/Yes/, it’s a yes, yes, I—/ah/, shit—“

Jimin had taken a hold of his length through his pants, more than satisfied by his enthusiasm, and was now stroking him slowly. He leaned down to give it a kiss, just a peck, and Hoseok groaned.
One kiss turned to two, two to three, until Jimin sat up to shimmy Hoseok’s waistband down, pleased when he raised his hips.

Like him, Hoseok was wearing boxers, and the outline of his cock was prominent. Jimin felt another rush as it twitched beneath the thin fabric.
Hoseok looked so disheveled, completely on the edge as he waited for Jimin to make a move.

Jimin peeled back his boxers enough for Hoseok’s cock to spring free, resting hard against his stomach, and he actually let out a tiny gasp.

He’d thought about this, and now, here it was.
Jimin took it in his hand again, stroking him, watching Hoseok gasp and squirm. /Jesus/, he was cute. He took a steady breath as he leaned closer.

“Can I blow you?”

Hoseok’s eyes went wide. More tellingly, a bit of precum was now running down his cock onto Jimin’s hand.
“Hyung?”
“Sorry, thought you were joking,” Hoseok panted, “Yes, please, /of course/, you don’t have to ask.”

Jimin smiled, tongue darting out to wet his lips.

“I /like/ asking,” he whispered, taking Hoseok’s tip in his mouth and running his tongue in a circle around it.
Hoseok groaned, and Jimin gently held down his hips for a moment, a reminder telling him not to get too excited, although the thought of letting Hoseok use his mouth like that...

He moaned and took him a little deeper, pushed further when Hoseok whined.
“God, /Jimiiin/,” Hoseok keened, his breathing erratic, shakily propping himself up on his elbows. Jimin supposed it was so he could see him better, so he turned his head and looked up at Hoseok.

Hoseok’s hand, trembling, came to stroke his hair.

“Fuck, you’re beautiful...”
Jimin whimpered, the praise going straight to his dick. He couldn’t help but rut against his sheets in a poor attempt for friction. Hoseok must have liked how that looked, because he moaned.

He knew this was supposed to be a thank you, just for Hoseok, but Jimin was desperate.
Jimin let Hoseok out of his mouth but didn’t give him a chance to potentially complain, because he started pumping him again. Hoseok jerked, his head falling back.

“Tell me I’m pretty.”
“Fuck, /fuck/, Jimin, you’re pretty, you’re so pretty—“ Hoseok half-babbled-half-sobbed.
That’s all he needed. Jimin shuddered and took him back in his mouth, bobbing his head and reeling as Hoseok kept it up.

“You’re so good, feels so good, you’re so pretty, oh my /God/—“

His fingers clutched into Jimin’s hair, and he winced but found the sting pleasant.
Jimin was still pathetically rubbing against the sheets, the pressure not nearly enough relief for him, but part of him liked it, it worked him up more.

“Gonna—“ Hoseok started before choking on a gasp. Jimin stroked him faster, twisting his hand on the up stroke.
Jimin came up from him and murmured, breath hot on Hoseok’s cock. Never more turned on in his life.

“Hyung, are you close?”
“/Yes/—“
“Do you wanna come?”
“Fuck, Jimin...“

Jimin kissed his tip, making him quiver into near convulsions.

“Do you wanna do it in my mouth?”
Hoseok shuddered and nodded, that’s all he could do before Jimin licked his slit and wrapped his lips around his flushed cock again, still stroking.

His stomach flexed and his legs shook around Jimin, who was absolutely drunk off this, getting Hoseok off.
He sang more praises, voice pitchy and broken, telling Jimin he was so pretty, so so pretty, so good, and then there was just one utterly relieved gasp.

Jimin faltered only for a second as come filled his mouth, but he kept going, and to be honest it only turned him on more.
Hearing Hoseok’s shaky breaths as he came, feeling his quivering hand petting him encouragingly, tasting him on his tongue, Jimin shivered, loving being surrounded by Hoseok.

And once he was done, Jimin sat up and swallowed hard, breathed hard.
Hoseok looked as if Jimin had sucked his soul out. He lied flat, eyes closed, chest heaving slowly, shivering every few seconds as if he were cold. He was whispering nonsense, incoherent praise.

Jimin, however, was still painfully hard, and Hoseok was too spent to do anything.
Jimin decided shame didn’t matter anymore as he snatched up one of his pillows. He was quick to tug down his pants, his boxers that he’d /stupidly/ decided to wear, and humped against the pillow with a small whine, trying to work up a rhythm.

Hoseok sat up, eyes tired but wide.
Jimin watched Hoseok watching him and only got more frustrated, moaning as the friction finally started coming, as having an audience to him being so needy made his heart race.

“Hyung,” he sobbed, never losing eye contact with Hoseok for a moment.
“...keep going, baby.”
“/Aah/—“
Hoseok sat up, clearly wiped out but fully invested in the display Jimin was giving him. His encouragement made Jimin buckle, sobbing again as he thrust harder against the pillow.

Hoseok came closer and met his lips but didn’t touch him.

“You can do it, Jimin.”
Jimin choked and came, knowing he’d edged himself for too long. He collapsed on the pillow, legs trembling as he gave just a few more bucks into the softness before going still, breaths soft but deep.

Hoseok laid himself down beside him and immediately pulled him into his arms.
Jimin was quick but sluggish to return the embrace, nuzzling himself into Hoseok’s chest as they both lied still, caught their breath, enjoyed their warmth.

Jimin closed his eyes, thinking he could fall asleep right there in Hoseok’s arms.

That’s actually exactly what happened.
But it was only for about ten minutes.

Jimin woke up still in delicious warmth, a comfortable fog as his body felt looser and lighter than any stretch could ever do.

“Hey, there you are~”

Hoseok was still beside him, holding him, voice soft. Jimin instinctively curled closer.
“Sorry,” Jimin mumbled, “felt too nice.”
“You give me the best blowjob I’ve ever had in my life and you’re saying ‘Sorry?’” Hoseok laughed, the whole while smoothing his hair, and Jimin grinned.
“I meant for falling asleep.”
“Aah, you’re fine. You definitely tired yourself out.”
“You were really /pretty/ doing it.”

Hoseok poked his side and grinned. Jimin squealed, delighted but a little embarrassed as he hid his face.

“You really liked that, huh~?“ he said with another poke.
“Stooop,” Jimin whined, laughing and kicking him lightly.
“Pretty Jiminie~”
“My cutie pretty Jiminie~” Hoseok teased, poking him more until Jimin was a flustered ball of giggles, shaking in his arms. He calmed when Hoseok rubbed his back soothingly.
“I didn’t think I was /that/ type of person,” Jimin confessed as he recovered.
“Me either,” Hoseok nodded.
“/You/ didn’t think I was that type of person or...?”
“No, /me/...I—really liked watching you—and you’re cute when you’re bossy...“
“‘Bossy,’” Jimin repeated with a laugh. What a way to put it.

He leaned back so he could take in Hoseok, shy, but serious.

“...so...I did good?”
Hoseok scoffed as if he were offended by the question and pulled Jimin back to him.

“/Yes/, Jimin, you did /good/. You did /great/, are you kidding me? Asking something like that, aah—you know the answer!”
“Just wanted to be sure,” Jimin said into his neck, pleased as could be.
“You’re dangerous,” Hoseok said suddenly, pulling back to take in Jimin. His expression was so serious and it made Jimin sputter again. “You’re /seriously/ dangerous.”
“How am I dangerous!?”
“Because you’re tiny and adorable but you’re strong and demanding and /God/, Jimin...”
“Because you sucked my dick until I almost died and now you’re like—“

Hoseok batted his eyelashes and Jimin lost it, laughing and trying to squirm away.

“Stop!”
“‘Hyungie, did I do good?’”
“/I didn’t say ‘Hyungie/!’”

Hoseok wasn’t letting go, laughing as he held Jimin steady.
Hoseok kissed the top of Jimin’s head as he squirmed, pecking all over.

“Let gooo!”
“You’re gonna fall off the bed if I do, I know it!”
“I /won’t/—!“

Jimin turned around in his embrace, facing Hoseok with a smile as warm as the room.

“I won’t. Let go.”
~
Hoseok slowly let go. The moment Jimin had full use of his limbs, he cupped Hoseok’s face in his hands and kissed him deeply.

Oh. Okay.

His eyes fluttered shut as he found a new embrace, gentler, one that held Jimin close to him but didn’t trap him, his hands rubbing his back.
They kissed lazily for awhile, and Hoseok wondered if life could just /be/ like this. If he could just /be/ with Jimin, just like this. Comfortable. Warm. Cook with him. Argue with him over silly things. Wash dishes. Do laundry. Get coffee—

His phone rang.

The answer was no.
They stopped, both knowing whose phone it was immediately. Hoseok hesitated, let it ring a few times before silently pulling it out.
Hoseok looked to Jimin, who looked surprised but nodded, and then he finally hit answer.

“Hey,” he saud softly.
“Where are you?”

His stomach dropped as his father’s voice came through, completely blindsiding him. Jimin sat up, concerned as he saw Hoseok’s whole demeanor shift.
“Wh—?”
“I’m using your mother’s phone since you seem insistent on ignoring my messages. Where are you?”

His whole body went cold. Messages. Had he looked through him and his mother’s messages? No, he couldn’t have. Why would he be asking where he was then?

“I’m with a friend.”
“What friend?”
“...I—“
“Hoseok, this needs to stop. I can’t have you running around making a fool of yourself, spending money frivolously, do you know how that /looks/? How that makes our family look? Do you even /care/?”

It was nothing Hoseok hadn’t heard before.

But Jimin...
Jimin looked so uncomfortable. He looked like he wanted to step out, but at that point it wouldn’t have made any difference. He looked guilty. For what?

Seeing him look like that set something off in Hoseok.

“Is it really so bad that I do /one/ thing for myself?” he spat.
“What you do is /wasteful/.”

Jimin shifted, the sheets crumpling.

“What you do for yourself puts this family at risk of becoming a laughingstock.”
“I’m not a /child/, Dad.”
“But you’re twenty-four years old acting like one! You /refuse/ to grow up and accept responsibility!”
“Your mother told me you’d told her you’d gotten stuck somewhere last night. I knew that was a garbage excuse, but she believed you because for whatever reason /she/ still trusts you.”

Hoseok was silent, seething, upset. Jimin wasn’t looking at him anymore.

“I’ve had enough.”
“You’re wasting /money/, you’re wasting /time/, and you’re wasting your /life/. If you’re not home in an hour, there’ll be consequences.”

“Don’t disappointment me more than you already have.”

The line went dead.

The room was icy, silent until Jimin whispered.

“You should go.”
Hoseok whirled, shocked.

“What...?”
“You—You need to go.”

The building was coming down, every story above Jimin’s apartment crumbling on Hoseok, crushing him.

“I don’t want—!“
“/I know you don’t want to/, but you have to.”

Jimin still wasn’t looking at him, voice strained.
“I /need/ you to go, Hyung...”

Hoseok saw the way Jimin’s hands were trembling. The redness in his eyes.

No.

He couldn’t leave. Not like this. He couldn’t leave Jimin like /this/.

“M–My clothes—“
“I’ll keep them safe.”
“...but—you—“
“I’ll be okay,” Jimin lied.
That wasn’t good enough.

None of this was good enough.

Hoseok wrapped his arms around Jimin, holding him tight. Jimin was slow to return the embrace.

“...I’m so sorry,” Hoseok said, voice breaking.
“You didn’t do anything, Hyung.”

Jimin’s voice was soft, comforting.

Distant.
Hoseok squeezed him tighter.

“...I’ll figure it out, okay?”

He’d leaned back, holding Jimin’s face in his hands. He ran his thumbs along his cheekbones.

Jimin looked resigned, tired. Hoseok kissed his forehead.

“I’ll come back to you. I–I’ll figure it out. I promise, Jimin.”
“Okay, Hyung,” was all Jimin murmured.

Hoseok kissed him once, twice, trying to keep it together, trying not to let what he was feeling overflow into the exterior.

“Jimin...”

He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what he /wanted/ to say. It hurt. This hurt so much.
“You need to go.”

...

Hoseok kissed him and made it count, because he needed to go. He kissed Jimin slow, cupping his cheeks. Jimin tilted his head, kissing him back, and for a moment, Hoseok could pretend like his heart wasn’t shattering little pieces.

But only for a moment.
Jimin didn’t follow him as Hoseok got up from the bed, as he stashed his phone and left the room. Jimin didn’t say anything as Hoseok retrieved his coat from by the door.

And he only looked up at Hoseok when he came back to the bedroom door.

Then he smiled gently.

“Stay warm.”
“...you, too.”

...

Hoseok turned and walked to the door, knowing if he stayed for a moment longer he’d never leave. He didn’t look back as he opened the apartment door, heard it slam behind him as he walked down the hall, his stride long and focused.

He needed to stay focused.
The elevator dinged, opening shortly after descending from the 17th floor.

Hoseok flinched when he saw there were two people in there already, but shaped up and joined them, his jaw set. No eye contact.

Focus.

Focus.

They got off at the tenth floor, paying Hoseok no mind.
Hoseok was alone.

By the seventh floor, he sniffled.

By the fifth, his hands started shaking in his coat pockets.

And when Hoseok reached the lobby, he was fighting the coming breakdown by frantically contacting someone to come pick him up, his eyes and lungs burning.
There was a car five minutes away. He could do that. That would do.

Hoseok took a deep, shaky breath as he stepped outside, the cold air hitting him like a brick as he opened his messages.
Hoseok’s first instinct was to turn right around and go back to Jimin, sprint to him, hold him and never let him go, never let him feel what they were feeling ever again.

But he didn’t.

Because he needed to go.
~
Jimin shouldn’t answer.

He shouldn’t, but he did, stifling his sobs as it felt like his chest was about to collapse.

“Hyung—“
“You are /not a problem/.”

Hoseok’s voice sounded firm.

“Jimin. Do you hear me?” he asked, louder, and Jimin could hear the slightest tremble.
He clutched his pillow, made himself small, and cried silently, shoulders shaking.

“Jimin?”
“I heard you,” he sobbed.

There was a moment of silence, aside from Jimin sniffling, trying to calm himself.

“You did nothing wrong,” Hoseok said gently. Jimin wished he believed that.
“There’s another thing you need to know about me; I’m stubborn. I don’t give up easy.”
“Hyung—“
“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Jimin.”

His voice cracked in his ear, and Jimin fell silent.

“I mean that. I meant everything I said.”

“I’ll figure it out.”
Jimin felt a familiar pull against his broken heart.

“...I trust you, Hyung.”

He heard Hoseok sigh, sounding just an inkling less stressed.

“Jimin, I—“

Hoseok started to speak again but stopped short, and Jimin’s breath caught in his throat.

“...I—...I want you to be okay.”
Jimin sniffled and somehow smiled.

“I’ll be okay. I promise.”
“If you need /anything/—“
“I know, I know,” he said with a small laugh.

Jimin heard a short honk.

“That’s my car.”
“Okay....”
“I’ll see you again soon.”
“I look forward to it, Hyung.”

Hoseok chuckled, sounding off.
“...bye.”
“Bye.”
Jimin stared at his phone until the screen went dark.

He lied there for a long while, just like that. Still. Silent. The tear stains on his cheeks grew cold, so he wiped them away.

The duvet was heavy as he pulled it over himself.

Jimin wanted to sleep. But he couldn’t.
~
Hoseok closed the door of his home silently, keeping the knob turned so that he could release it when it was aligned with the slot. No click.

He didn’t bother to hang up his coat, heading straight for the stairs, skipping the third, fourth and seventh steps. No squeaking.
He entered his room as silently and locked the door behind him. The coat was tossed to a corner as he started shedding the clothes he wore, Jimin’s clothes that had been just a bit too tight on him, clothes that would need explaining.

He changed into a green hoodie and jeans.
Hoseok went to his bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror.

Red, tired eyes. He’d cried in the back of that car. He’d cried, wondering if Jimin really was okay. He’d cried, wondering about why it had to be like this. He’d cried, terrified that he was feeling so much.
Hoseok took a deep breath and rubbed his face, sniffling before he left his room.

He needed to find his mother.

He descended the stairs just as carefully, his bare feet lightly smacking on the hardwood floor. She could be anywhere, but he’d try the den first.
“Mom?” he called quietly, peeking in, and he paused.

There she was.

His mother was resting on the sofa, sound asleep, her phone and a half-empty glass of wine sitting on a small coffee table.

Pieces of the puzzle of how earlier happened fell into place.
He stepped in quietly, not wanting to wake her but just...being here, in here, this room, could do something for his mind. The fireplace crackled, and Hoseok noticed his mother’s easel near it.

Another tree. She’d been painting trees for months now, all kinds.
This tree was full, large and thick with branches filled with dark green leaves, and a sturdy trunk that spanned roots into blades of grass.

For the first time, at least that Hoseok could remember, his mother had also painted a bright blue sky, smears of white shaped as clouds.
“I see you came to your senses.”

A voice spoken at full volume made Hoseok jump and whirl, relaxing when he saw it was his father.

Tensing again when he saw it was his father.

“Did you have fun, Hoseok?” he stepped into the den. “Did you get everything out of your system?”
Hoseok knew he’d just start shouting so he chose to say nothing, eyes furtively glancing toward his sleeping mother.

“You worried her,” his father continued. “She was incessant last night. Asking me if I knew where you were. I said if she didn’t know, how should I?”
She stirred, his father’s mindfulness when speaking softly incredibly lacking.

“Hoseok,” she yawned, sitting up with a smile, “when did you get you in?”
“Just now...”
“I was asking our son if he understood how worried we were last night.”

‘We.’

Suddenly it was ‘we.’
“I’m sorry for worrying you, Mom,” Hoseok said, voice hushed, looking to her and hoping, praying that she understood. That /maybe/, just maybe, last nights ‘worries’ had been a part of everything.

Her smile vanished as she looked between him and her husband.
“All we ask is that you be more clear about where you’re going and for how long, dear,” his mother said. “It’s a scary world now.”
“That’s still clearly not good enough,” his father spat. “Not one question answered—“
“I /told/ you I was with a friend.”

Hoseok’s mother stood.
“What friend?”
“/A/ friend, does it matter?”
“Darling, aren’t young men entitled to some privacy?”
“Privacy is /earned/,” his father interjected. “What did you buy yesterday? If you tell me it’s another pair of shoes, so help me—“
“I bought a bracelet.”
“A bracelet? Where is it?”
No one moved.

“Hoseok—“
“I don’t have it.”
“You don’t /have/ it.”
“/That’s what I said/, I don’t have it!”

“You spend /15 million won/, /my/ money that I give you in allowance, for /what/, I’m beginning to question...and you don’t have it.”

“I lost it.”
“I had a bad night, okay? I went to see a friend, we shopped, I got the bracelet after the lady at the place was /crazy/ rude, got dinner, then the weather got so bad no drivers were out, so I found some Internet cafe to stay the night in, and someone must have taken it off me.”
“Look, I’m pissed, I’m tired, and I’m sorry. Okay? I’m sorry. Can I go now?”

Hoseok had never been a good liar, but somehow the story flowed out. Crashing in an Internet cafe meant no payment to check on, and it made it easier to sell the idea of someone stealing ‘his’ bracelet.
“...that’s just unacceptable,” his father murmured, shaking his head.
“I’m sorry your bracelet was stolen, dear...” his mother said softly.
“Would you quit /coddling/ him?”

He turned to face her, gesturing to Hoseok and speaking as if he wasn’t there.
“Don’t you care that our son is throwing his life away? That he’s staying out at night sleeping in public spaces like some—?”
“I’m just glad he’s safe.”

She spoke coldly.

“I don’t want to hear anymore of this. It’s done. Hoseok is home. That’s what’s most important.”
“/You/ can be happy with the bare minimum, but /I/ don’t settle for mediocrity,” Hoseok’s father said, a tone of finality in his voice. “I’m not letting him end up like Dawon. There’s not room for two failures in this family.”

At that his mother fell silent, her lips pursed.
“I’ve had enough. This family needs serious adjustments,” he muttered.

Hoseok bit his tongue.

“Its a shame you had such a bad evening. Was your little escapade worth all this trouble, Hoseok?”

/All this trouble and more./

And Hoseok knew there’d be more...
“No.”

Just say what he wants to hear and it’ll end.

“I’m glad you understand that, at least. Think twice before doing it again.”

And it ended.

Hoseok’s father sighed and left the den, and in his wake he left his wife, who was concerned beyond all scale, and his son, frozen.
The footsteps faded, probably back to his office in the East wing. Then there was only the fire.

“...Hoseok—“
“I’m sorry.”

His voice was hoarse, and she rushed to him, hugging him.

“Hoseok, sweetie, tell me what happened.”
“/I’m so sorry/—”
“Ssh, it’s alright, you’re alright—“
“You didn’t do anything wrong.”
~
[ March 16 ]
“These were supposed to be soy.”

...

Jimin stared at the two now-annoyed girls from behind the counter as four iced lattes sat between them, all made with whole milk.

“...were they?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah, so could you—?“
“It’s just that you never /said/ that.“
The girls looked confused, a bit startled.

“What...?”
“It’s so funny, these were apparently /supposed/ to be soy, but...I didn’t know! /Huh/. It’s almost like if you /want/ soy, you should /ask/ for soy! Right? That makes sense!”
“/Jimin/.”

Jimin turned as Taehyung rushed over.
Taehyung looked between everyone hurriedly before gathering what the problem was.

“Go to the freezer,” he murmured to Jimin, and Jimin didn’t need to be told twice. His apron was off before he was out of sight of customers, storming through the door to the kitchen.
Fuck this job. Fuck being fake nice to people who couldn’t be bothered to even smile or say thank you.

He entered the freezer and sat in the unofficial “hiding” place, a small spot behind the chocolate muffin boxes where thwy could go to breathe, maybe cry.

Jimin wasn’t crying.
Jimin closed the door just enough so that the light would go out. He wanted to sit here in the cold, in the dark, literally and figuratively chill.

He took out his phone, the glow lighting up his face.

...

He put it away, considering he had no messages. He hadn’t for awhile.
He put his head between his knees and breathed. In. Out.

...he needed to get over this.

The sooner the better.

The first week hadn’t been so bad. The second, the messages got further and further between, or plain unanswered. Now...

The light came back on as the door creaked.
Taehyung hurried in, crouching by Jimin with a worried look.

“What happened?”
“Same thing. Milk. It’s /always/ milk, it’s always /some/—“

He sighed, realizing he was getting loud, and he didn’t want to make Tae uncomfortable. He didn’t deserve that.

“I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay...”
It wasn’t okay. Jimin really wasn’t okay, and he hadn’t been for some time.

He hated being in his own home now. It was just a constant reminder of how lonely he was. How he’d lost everything good he’d ever had. Except Tae, but Jimin couldn’t keep relying on him for every crisis.
He kept tanking auditions. Sometimes he’d just burst into tears, everything about his life hitting him all at once in one huge wave of sadness.

And of course, this fucking job.

“...he still hasn’t...?”
“Nope,” Jimin said flatly, softly, starting to stand.
“Have you tried calling him?” Taehyung asked gently, and Jimin laughed bitterly, pained.
“I don’t even know what I’d say to him...I don’t even know if I really knew him.”
“Jimin, don’t say things like that.”

Taehyung sounded serious all of a sudden, enough to startle Jimin.
“Hoseok-hyung is a good person. I don’t know how I know, I just know that I know. You know? Anyone that can make you as happy as you were when you were with him can’t be a bad person.“

Taehyung nodded to Jimin’s hand.

“There’s also that. That’d be a lot for just some fling...”
The bracelet that Jimin hadn’t taken off in almost a month now was cold against his wrist, chilled from the freezer, and he clutched it instinctively.

He knew Taehyung was absolutely right.

Something had happened. Whatever it was, he still trusted Hoseok, even if it hurt.
“What are you doing tonight?”

Jimin shrugged.

“I was gonna—“
“No you’re not. You’re seeing Yoon-Yoon’s show with me.”
“What? Tae, I can’t—“
“Yes you can, because he gave me /two/ tickets. Because I /asked/ him for two tickets. Please? It’ll be fun. You need to have fun, Jimin.”
/You still gotta have a little fun though.../
Jimin relented, giving Taehyung an “Okay,” and he was hugged fairly tightly after.

“It’ll be great, I promise. He has this new song he’s been working on, /aah/, this one part~ It’s seriously too good.”
“Shouldn’t he be here soon?”
“/Shit/, you’re right, come on. I’m a Taecicle.”
It was almost scary cosmic timing, the moment they came back behind the counter.

Diing. “Ah, Hyung~!”

Min Yoongi, here again, same time, same paper bag, same all black getup. Jimin smiled at how happy Taehyung was, how cute and giddy he still got after almost a month of dating.
Tae kissed his cheek, and Jimin almost snorted when Yoongi shivered.

“Babe, you’re /freezing/...”
“He’s been dead the whole time,” Jimin deadpanned.
“I was gonna tell you soon, honest,” Tae said with mock apology.
“Aah...oh well, I can deal with it,” Yoongi sighed with a shrug.
“Let me get my coat,” Taehyung said, beaming as he clocked out.

They’d been taking walks after lunch and making goo-goo eyes with each other so they could make goo-goo eyes /outside/, too.

Jimin figured they were also going somewhere to make out, but Taehyung hadn’t said that.
As Taehyung ducked into the back, Jimin turned to Yoongi. He could see a small smile behind his mask.

“‘Sup?”
“Eh. Same old.”
“You comin’ to the show tonight?”
“Tae just told me. Yeah, I am.”
“Nice. Thank you. It actually means a lot.”
“It sounds like fun, Hyung.”
A comfortable silence fell between them before Jimin drummed his fingers.

“I wanna ask you something.”
“What’s up?”

Jimin leaned on the counter and beckoned Yoongi a little closer.

“...what is it? About Tae, I mean.”
“...is this a best friend test?”
“No, I’m just curious.”
“Because /I/ know he’s a great guy who’s he’s sweet and puts his whole heart into everything he does no matter what. Like this shitty job. But that’s what /I/ see. What do /you/ see, Hyung?”
“Aah.”

Yoongi looked down at the floor for a long time, tapping his foot.
“I see all that,” Yoongi said quietly. “I see how determined he is to do well here, and everywhere. I see how kind an thoughtful he is, especially when he speaks.”

“I saw him as...someone who still treated me like a cute guy in a coffee shop, even after they found who ‘I’ was.”
“Tae treats me like any other person, any other guy, he’s just—real...yeah, that’s it.” he muttered with a nod, as if he’d realized something.

“Tae’s real. That’s why I love him.”

...

Jimin’s eyes widened, jaw hanging as Yoongi’s moon-pale face suddenly turned to Mars.
“You /love/ him, Hyung?” Jimin said in a hushed, awe-filled whisper.
“/Shutup/,” Yoongi hissed, tugging at his mask. Jimin only grinned wider, and then the door swung open. Out came Tae, coat in hand.
“Here I am~, what’d I miss?”
“/Nothing/,” Jimin and Yoongi replied unison.
Taehyung raised an brow.

“Why are you two always planning something?” he said with a pout, slowly taking Yoongi’s hand. His smile came back as he swung them. “Hyung, I wanna walk first today.”
“Okay. Jimin-ah, could you—?”
“It’s safe with me,” Jimin said, taking the paper bag.
Jimin waved goodbye to Taehyung, smile returning as he and Yoongi walked out hand in hand, and...wow. Wow.

Yoongi /loved/ Taehyung.

He wondered if he’d told him yet. Probably not, with how flustered he’d gotten.

Yoongi was honestly hysterical, what a weird guy. Weird but good.
Jimin had looked him up after learning about August D. Yoongi wrote /real/ lyrics. And some that Jimin had had to rewind to make sure he’d heard correctly, only to blush furiously.

/That/ kind of guy also got caramel machiattos. Got all blushy saying he loved his boyfriend.
/It’s nice when you find out your idols are also good people./
Jimin smiled to himself, suddenly feeling like he could power through the rest of his shift.

Someone loved his best friend, and he couldn’t be more happy for them.
~
“Soo-Hee?”

Hoseok looked up from his laptop, expression blank. Several papers were scattered about.

“Yes, sir?” the maid said as she dusted the mantle.
“If I ask you to kill me, you’d have to do it, right?”
“I’m afraid assisted-suicide isn’t in my contract, sir,” she laughed.
“I can make it worth your while,” Hoseok pressed, half-joking. “How’d you like to make your salary in a day?”

Soo-Hee laughed again.

“The blood stains would be too much.”
“Blood!? Soo-Hee I don’t want you to /stab/ me!”
“Ooh, I see.”
“...you have a dark mind...”
Hoseok cocked his head and looked back to the screen, Soo-Hee still laughing in a way that felt just a bit creepy to him now.

He was sick of spreadsheets.

He was sick of not having his phone.

But this was his “job” now, managing fake assets.
His father had purchased some program that Hoseok was convinced might actually be some sort of torture device, something of a management simulator.

Hoseok was to organize various assets, in this case, automotive parts and equipment, and “ship” them to distributors.
‘It’ll keep you busy,’ his father explained. ‘This is the same training program we use for our general managers.’

Hoseok hoped those general managers’ offices had sturdy windows. He’d only been at this a few weeks and he was already willing to take a pencil in the eye instead.
Oh, and the fun part? The funnest part, Hoseok /loved/ this part, was if he made a mistake...he couldn’t go back and edit his error! He’d have to start the whole spreadsheet over!

‘You don’t get to make mistakes in the real world.’

It was wonderful. The /best/. The absolute—
Hoseok groaned, head on his keyboard and inputting dozens of random characters into a single column.

He didn’t /care/.

He’d never cared about any of this, and if that made him a failure, a poor son, a disappointment, whatever the hell else /he/ could call Hoseok, then so be it.
A swift mercy was granted to him as he heard a small chime from his computer, and he raised his head.

/You have completed 27 of 50 daily assignments. Score: D/

Man, those four hours really just /flew/ by. Hoseok hurriedly logged out and closed the program. Thank God.
He needed food. He needed to get out of this /house/, but that hadn’t been able to happen. Not without supervision. Not without tracking on his phone.

‘Privacy is earned.’

His stomach twisted as he entered the kitchen, though it had nothing to do with hunger.

Jimin...
He’d thought about Jimin every day. In the morning, wondering if he was working. At night, wondering if he couldn’t sleep either. He hoped Jimin could sleep. He wanted Jimin to be okay so badly, it hurt. Thinking about him the way he’d left him, it was too much to take.
Family trips into the city, they’d passed by the shop. That mall. Every time, Hoseok had glanced out the window, hoping, praying even just to see him. Was he happy? Was he still waiting?

Had he thought Hoseok had abandoned him?

That last one kept him up at night for days.
The hours he’d crunched numbers, inputting errors, he’d fantasized of seeing him again. A chance encounter on the street. His father having a change of heart (ha). Another event that he could casually suggest hiring “the singer from his party.” His mother, supporting the idea.
But that wasn’t how the world worked.

Life had felt like some drama for awhile, but now, it was back to reality.

For now, his father was appeased. It was the best Hoseok could ask for at the moment. There was still work to be done.
He heated some leftovers and moved to the dining room, stopping mid-step when he saw his parents.

He turned, deciding the den was better before he heard “Oh, Hoseok are you done already? Come here,” from his mother.

He sighed silently, taking a seat at the end of the table
“I was just telling your father, there’s an Monet exhibition in Seoul tonight. I thought it would be nice for us to go out.”

She smiled between the both of them, but stopped when her husband only hummed disapprovingly.

“I don’t feel like going into the city again today.”
“Oh, it’ll be fun!” she insisted.
“A man only has so much precious free time. I’d prefer spending it doing something I enjoy.”

This was nothing unusual.

She huffed, turning to face her son.

“Well, /fine/. Hoseok, /you/ won’t let your mother go all by herself, will you?”
“Aah—...”

Now why’d she have to go and put it like that...? Honestly, he’d rather not. Art galleries weren’t Hoseok’s thing. But the thought of his mother wandering around all by her lonesome...

He smiled.

“Yeah, I’ll go.”
“Good. It’ll be good for you. Won’t it, dear?”
“Mm.”
“Well, I hope you two can have fun.”
“We will” she said, happy, but just a bit spiteful.

...an art gallery. Joy.

Hoseok tried his best not to let his disinterest show, for his mother’s sake.

“Hoseok will need his phone, if he’s going,” she continued.

He froze.
“Why would he need his phone if he’ll be with you?”

“Well he might not be /with/ me, it’s a large exhibition. It’s thaf gallery? When we saw that photographer? I know Hoseok doesn’t want to be attached to my hip all night, do you, dear? You’ll want to wander around won’t you?”
“I’ll need to let him know when and where to meet me if that happens. You don’t expect me to shout for him, do you?”
“...aah—yes, that makes sense.”
“Of course it does.”

She smiled, never looking to Hoseok, who couldn’t look /anywhere/ but her.

Holy shit.

How did she do that!?
This was...this was clearly /something/, wasn’t it? Or was he just that desperate for it to be?

If it /was/ something, his mother was the best liar he’d ever seen.

He’d have his phone back in a few short hours. He’d back in the city in a few short hours.

God. /God/.
“Guess I’ll go figure out what to wear,” Hoseok said plainly, standing up leave.
“Wear whatever you feel best in, dear.”

Hoseok nodded, leaving the room and immediately sprinting up to his bedroom once he was out of earshot, his heart racing.

Oh God, please. /Please/.
~
‘Dress /hot/,’ Taehyung had said.

Jimin didn’t really have any reason to do so, but he did for his own sake.

He’d styled his hair up, only a little stiff from gel. The sweater he wore was for special occasions only, a black one with all sorts of colorful writing on the front.
His blue jeans were ripped at the knees and a had few slashes at the thigh, and black Converse lows.

Jimin was always hot, but he knew he was at an 11 now.

...for himself...

He sighed, grabbing his phone and his keys before leaving his empty apartment.
The elevator was quick, he’d even lucked out as it shot straight down to the lobby.

He and Taehyung were meeting in the front of the shop before heading out to the venue.

‘It’s a /secret/ show,’ Tae had told him excitedly. ‘He’s gonna come out and everyone’s gonna be like AAA!’
Jimin had never been to a secret show; he’d certainly heard of them, but he’d never been so fortunate to be in the know for one.

For someone as big as Agust D, and Jimin had certainly realized Yoongi was /someone/, this was going to be a /very/ big deal.
As Jimin left the building, bristling in the cold, he smiled to himself, remembering his and Yoongi’s exchange that morning.

He /loved/ Taehyung.

Well, that was all well and good, Min Yoongi, but what will you plan to /do/ about it? Hm?
He sighed.

They really were cute. He’d never seen Taehyung so happy, so...blissful. Jimin wanted the very best for them, and he was getting it.

He hated that he felt that familiar jealousy again, the notes of envy he’d harbored seeing them together. But it couldnt be helped.
Jimin didn’t think he could call it.../love/, but he /did/ know what it felt like to want to be with someone. To hope they were well and to want to see them. To want to know everything about them, flaws and all. To hold someone and be held, to comfort and be comforted...

...
The smile quietly faded from his face.

Jimin continued down the sidewalk, hands in his pockets.

He was going to have fun tonight.

He deserved to have fun.
~
The feeling of his phone back in his hands again was indescribable. Hoseok was thrilled but couldn’t let it show.

“What time will you be back?”
“Well we might get dinner afterward, so 10:30? 11? You won’t have to wait up for us.”
“I hadn’t planned to, I was only curious.”
Hoseok followed his mother to the Escalade, again, not saying a word but feeling nervous, that same level of suspicion a child in a car gets when passing signs to Disney World.

The air was cold but the car was warm, and soon they were off.

“Spring can’t get here soon enough...”
The sun hung low in the sky, and for awhile there was only the sound of the tires on the road, the wind against the door, and the vents blowing soothing warm air.

...

“...there /is/ an exhibit, right?” Hoseok blurted. He couldn’t take it.

But his mother just laughed.
His mother just laughed and Hoseok felt his heart sink just a little bit as she patted his shoulder.

“Of /course/ there’s an exhibit, Hoseok. Where else would we be going?”
“Yeah, no, I—sorry, I just...I wasn’t thinking...”
“It’s alright, dear.“
He didn’t want to seem to eager with phone, even alone with his mother.

And with the tracking, God only knew if his messages were being watched now, too.

Stay calm.

But Hoseok realized all too soon that staying calm would be far too easy.

There /was/ an exhibit.
Huge banners billowed outside a large building, an open gallery. Hoseok remembered this place; they’d come here a year ago for a photography exhibition.

The only time he hadn’t been bored to tears was when he’d found himself alone in a hall of tasteful nudes.

...well...alright.
He tossed his phone between his hands, following his mother out of the car.

He didn’t know why he’d really expected anything different. That was a bit selfish of him, wasn’t it? This was a night for his mother, he’d come here fo make /her/ happy...

He checked his messages.
They went back further than that, but these were the ones Hoseok hadn’t seen, the ones currently breaking his heart.

/I don’t wanna bother you./
/Sorry./

/He/ was sorry, Jimin.

He was so, so sorry.

Hoseok was so close, and yet Jimin might as well have been a continent away.
“Hoseok, come here, I want a picture!”

Hoseok swallowed the lump in his throat as he put his phone away.

He couldn’t be upset.

He’d signed up for this, and he wasn’t about to ruin his mother’s evening with his own problems.
Hoseok jogged to where his mother stood, next a large poster reading the name of the exhibition.

“A selfie, I want a selfie,” she urged, waving her hand.

He bent his knees to make himself a little shorter so they could both fit in frame, and he smiled faintly.
“How cute,” she said with a grub, and Hoseok could see she was sending it to a contact reading his father’s name. She raised her phone to her face and spoke clearly “Made it. Exclamation point.”

Did all mothers love text to speech?

“Oh goodness, there’s ‘Woman With a Parasol!’”
“Hoseok, go stand with her.”

Hoseok walker over to the painting, a little stiff, unable to remember the last time he’d felt so hollow.

He smiled.

“A little to the left...one more—perfect! Smiiiiile—“

Click.

“Perfect!” she said, laughing at the screen. “Come see.”
Hoseok headed back, peering over her shoulder.

He looked like a miserable person trying their best not to have a breakdown, so it was more like looking into a mirror than any future fond memory...

“Looks great,” he lied.
“I think so, too. Alright, let me see your phone.”
Hoseok blinked.

What?

Why?

He’d just gotten it back! Not that he even really trusted it, but—

His mother had her hand out expectantly, and...he couldn’t think. He wasn’t thinking. He only hesitated for a moment before fishing it out of his jeans and handing it over.
He watched in total stunned confusion she placed it safely in her purse and handed him her own.

Then...she just turned around and started walking away, her clicking heels adding to the sound of other excited gallery goers.

...

Wait. Wait!

“Mom!?” he called, chasing after her.
She turned with a look of surprise.

“What‘s wrong, dear?”

What‘s /wrong/!?

“I—what was that for?”
“What?”
“My phone, I...“
“Oh, /shoot/, you’re right, one moment, let me see that.”

She took her phone back from Hoseok’s hand and dug his back out from her purse.

What the hell?
He said nothing as she looked between the screens, what /could/ he say, what the hell was going on? If anything he was grateful to be feeling anything other than total heartbreak, but sheer confusion wasn’t much better.”

“There you go,” she said, handing her phone back to him.
It was open to a single contact.

/Hoseok’s Boyfriend/

...

“You know when I was your age, we memorized phone numbers. I can /still/ say your grandmother’s phone number like kts—“

“Mom, what is this?” he murmured, eyes stuck on the screen.

“This is the part where you escape.”
Hoseok looked up, seeing her smiling brightly. Her arms opened the moment he darted to her for a hug.

“/Mom, oh my GOD/—“
“I wanted to tell you in the car, but I needed these pictures to look convincing,” she laughed, petting the back of his head. “I hope you can forgive me.”
This was happening.

This was actually happening.

“Thank you,” Hoseok said, his voice hitching.

“Ooh, don’t cry, don’t cry, you look so handsome. You don’t want to look puffy when you see him.”

Hoseok nodded quickly, calming down in deep breaths.

“...what if Dad calls?”
“Don’t answer,” she said with a shrug. “But you should send that photo of you in about an hour so he thinks you’re still with me. If you being right here with me isn’t enough for him.”

She rattled her purse.

His phone.

The tracker.

Holy shit, she’d thought of everything.
“What if he calls /me/, though?”
“I’ll do what you do!”

Which meant she would ignore it completely.

“A man only has so much precious free time, Hoseok.”

She gave him a kiss to the forehead and stepped back with a kind smile.

“He should spend it doing something he enjoys.”
Hoseok fought tears as he hugged her again.

“I love you, Mom. Thank you so much.”
“I love you, too, sweetheart. Please have fun tonight. As much as you can.”
“I will.”

She let him go and then pointed to the phone.

“Meet me back here at 9:50. The driver will be here at 10.”
Hoseok nodded, still utterly in awe. He hugged her one last time before running out of the gallery, back into the cold.

His hands shook hitting “Call.”

Please. Even if he was working, just seeing him. Just hearing his voice. Please, /please/, keep staying on his side, Universe.
~
Jimin tapped his foot, peering over the crowd to see how close they were to the entrance of this place.

Taehyung bounced on his heels, getting his last messages and posts out before their phones were taken at the door.

Jimin guessed it was maybe another twenty people to go.
“Ah it’s hard to be excited and not say anything,” Taehyung murmured close to Jimin.
“You’re almost there, Tae,” Jimin laughed, stopping as he felt his pocket buzzing. A call?

Eighteen people.

He plucked out his phone, squinting at the screen.
“Who’s that?” Taehyung said, looking over Jimin’s shoulder.

“Dunno,” Jimin said, hitting ‘Decline.’ He kept his phone out, considering he’d just be taking it out again here in a bit. “Did he say when he’d be here?”

“Third song,” was all Taehyung said, grinning.
Fifteen people.

Jimin puffed his cheeks and let it out slowly. It wasn’t as cold as it had been lately, but it was still pretty damn cold. The sweater was helping, but he’d definitely chosen fashion over function when it came to the jeans

“Do you think—?”

His phone rang again.
He frowned. The same number.

“Wrong number, pal,” he muttered, declining it again.

“What were you gonna say?” Taehyung asked, hugging Jimin from behind.

“Aah—I don’t remember. It wasn’t important.”
“Okay.”

A large group went in.

Nine people.

Jimin’s lock screen lit up.
“What the fuck...?”
“Phone please.”

Jimin looked up having been herded forward and not realizing he was at the front of the line.

“Sorry, I—can I just—?“

He moved out of the line, leaving Taehyung calling “Jimin? You okay?” behind him.

“I—I don’t know,” he called back.
Jimin let it ring one more time, his stomach twisting into a pretzel as he hit answer, as Taehyung joined him, having left the line, mouthing ‘Whats wrong?’

“Who is this?” he asked the moment he heard connection.
“Oh my God, oh my /God/, thank you for picking up, oh my God—“
His heart stopped.

No.

“Hyung?” he whispered, his hand starting to shake. Taehyung went from worried to shocked.

“Jimin, I’m in Seoul, I can come see you, I want to see you—“
“Where have you /been/?” Jimin asked, fighting emotion.

God he’d imagined this for weeks, days.
“I’m sorry, Jimin, I’m so sorry, I promise I can explain everything when I see you. Where are you?“
“...I’m seeing a show with Tae—“
“NO HE’S NOT,” yelled Taehyung. “COME GET HIM, WE’RE AT—“
Taehyung screamed the address, Jimin too baffled to react.

Was this actually happening?
“...five blocks from me,” Hoseok said, voice distant, quick.

And then there was just stomping sounds.

...was he running!?

What the /fuck/ was going on!?

“Where are /you/!?” Jimin shouted, taking a few steps,

“Exhibit—Art Gallery—!”
“The Monet exhibition!” Taehyung gasped.
“That’s down the street!” Taehyung said, shaking Jimin’s shoulders from behind.

All Jimin could hear through the phone was breathing and wind and running.

...

“/Jimin/!?”

Jimin whirled, seeing Taehyung wide-eyed and exasperated.

“Fucking /go/!”

...

Jimin fucking /went/.
Jimin had never run harder in his life. The winter air seared his lungs as adrenaline flooded his veins, the city streets lit by dusk.

This couldn’t be happening.

He was dreaming again.

He’d wake up soon. He’d wipe his tears again, get dressed for work again.

Any second now.
He saw a figure in the distance, sprinting full-speed down the sidewalk.

Neon lights and shop signs, the street lamps all lit up in the waning light.

Jimmy pushed himself harder, lungs heaving.

He wouldn’t reach him. He never did.

Any second now.
“/JIMIIIN/!”

It echoed down the street and crackled through the phone, and Jimin realized he was getting much closer than he ever had in his other dreams.

There was an intersection, the crosswalk counter counting down seconds until there would be cars again.

Any second now.
Jimin skidded to a stop, startling several other people who were waiting to cross, and it was more or less a mirror image across the street, the figure stumbling as he stopped.

Jimin could see him under the lamplight, in the fading sunset.

Oh God.

Oh God, he was awake.
He panted, eyes locked on Hoseok across the street.

Hoseok, looking nowhere but him.

/Walk/

Hoseok, sprinting towards him. Jimin, doing just the same.

Hoseok, opening his arms and Jimin, dashing into them, both nearly knocking each other down in the middle of the street.
They couldn’t breathe, gasping into each other’s shoulders after all the running, now the embracing. They held each other in the middle of the street, earning some strange looks as people passed from both sides.

“I missed you,” Hoseok whispered, choking. “I missed you so much.”
A car honking startled them both, and they realized they were still in the street.

Hoseok grabbed Jimin’s hand and pulled him to the safety of the sidewalk.

They stopped, out of the way of other people, just under the street lamp, and just—took each other in.

“...Hyung...”
He hugged him again, gasping as if he were surprised he hadn’t phased through nothing.

Hoseok held him close, swayed with him, kissed the top of his head.

Jimin’s shoulders shook.

“What happened?” he asked, voice small.
“He took my phone. I’m sorry.”
“How did you—?”
“My mom.”
Jimin cried silently, so overwhelmed, so happy.

“My mom did this...she had this whole thing planned out. It was crazy.”

He rubbed small circles in Jimin’s back.

“I thought about you every day. I’m so sorry I couldn’t get back to you. I’m so sorry I—“
“Hyung. Stop apologizing.”
Jimin kissed Hoseok after that.

He kissed Hoseok, and everything suddenly felt right with the world again.

Hoseok grinned while kissing him back, cupping Jimin’s face, and Jimin squealed when he picked him up, spun him around, Hoseok cackling all the while.
They kissed and they kissed, and then Hoseok stopped them, much to Jimin’s disappointment.

“God, there’s so much to say...I don’t have much time.”
“You don’t?” Jimin said, his fingers curling into Hoseok’s shoulder.
“I have to be back at 9:45.”

So...a little under four hours.
He looked Jimin over and then quickly looked away. Even under the dim light, Jimin could see the color in his cheeks, and he smiled

“You look good...”
“I know,” Jimin giggled, grinning now. Hoseok cleared his throat, composing himself.
“It’d be a shame to let it go to waste...”
“Where do we go?” Jimin asked, swinging their hands. Hoseok thought for a moment, making a small sound, and then his shoulders dropped. He looked down to Jimin, looking happy but apologetic.

“I’ve thought about this so much you’d think I would have had a plan by now...”
“I could just stand here the whole time and be happy if I’m with you.”

His voice was so quiet, so honest, Jimin’s heart melted.

He couldn’t believe he’d ever doubted Hoseok, even for a second.

“I could, too, but I don’t /want/ to...it’s cold as hell,” Jimin laughed.
Hoseok looked good, too, wearing a black turtleneck and ripped jeans. They’d unintentionally almost matched.

Jimin placed his hand on Hoseok’s chest, his other squeezing his hand.

“Do you wanna dance?”
“What?”
“There’s a club a few blocks from here. I wanna dance with you.”
~
How could he say no?

How could he ever say no to Jimin?

Even if Hoseok made an ass out of himself, it would be worth it times ten, times a hundred, because Jimin would be there.

Jimin...

He kissed Jimin and sealed the deal with a smile.

“Then we’re dancing.”
Jimin grinned and kissed him and God, Hoseok missed this. He’d missed him. Everything. His laugh, his smile, his pretty eyes, his small hand holding his as they walked down the street. His hair, which he’d done differently. Hoseok /really/ liked it.

Jimin looked /good/.
He filled in Hoseok on how life had been. Sweet customers. Shitty customers. Taehyung and Yoongi’s love life (Hoseok internally screamed at the fact Agust D was performing a secret show as they spoke, but he knew Jimin would always win in the end). Auditions.

“It’s been...dull.”
Hoseok explained how he’d essentially been put on total lockdown. The training program, the phone confiscation, the near-constant monitoring. Everything culminating to his mother’s plan.

Jimin looped his arms around Hoseok’s.

“...can I meet your mom tonight? I wanna thank her.”
“...of course,” Hoseok said quietly, and Jimin squeezed him just a little tighter.

The air felt different.

Honestly, everything felt different.

But it was good.

Hoseok couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so fulfilled.

...actually, yes he could.

He kissed Jimin’s hair.
“...I’m really happy, Hyung,” Jimin murmured. “I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.”
“Me, too,” Hoseok said without hesitation.

He still didn’t know how this has even really happened. Not tonight, but them. The stars and planets had aligned perfectly.
If there was any way to explain his feelings...it was like his world was a crystal sitting in the dark. Over time, it dirtied, and cracked, and dulled.

But even a dim light can make the most broken crystal a prism.

And Jimin was the most beautiful bright light in Hoseok’s life.
Jimin gave color to a world Hoseok had come to know as only black and white with shades of grey.

Jimin gave him hope that Hoseok could still find and chase his passion even if he felt he was too late.

Jimin...

Hoseok never wanted to be away from him. That was his goal.
Hoseok had thought something else about Jimin, too, but he was too shaken by the idea. Too scared of what would happen if he thought about it too long. If he ever said it out loud. He wasn’t sure if it was true, because he’d never felt this way about anyone. How could he know?
The sound of heavy bass thumping came from up ahead, and Jimin looked up.

“We’re here, lets go!”

He quickened his pace, taking Hoseok’s hand and pulling him toward the short line near the door.

As he pulled, Hoseok saw something glint under Jimin’s sweater sleeve.
Hoseok stopped in his tracks, letting Jimin tug him for a second before stopping.

“What’s wrong?”

Hoseok pushed up Jimin’s sleeve and had his breath stolen by the sight of the bracelet.

“You’re still wearing it,” he said, hushed.
“I never took it off,” Jimin confessed.
...

Hoseok stopped doubting himself.
He loved Jimin.
He loved Jimin, and he wanted to support him and cherish him and give back to him exactly what he’d given Hoseok, the joy, the laughter, the comfort, everything, give it back and share it with him times ten, he wanted to be that person to Jimin.

A best friend.

A partner.
But would Jimin want that?

Would he feel the same? Would he wait for Hoseok, wait for him to figure out his family? They couldn’t keep meeting in secret, he didn’t want that. Jimin deserved better that that.

He was stuck. He was scared.
And Hoseok couldn’t just run away like Dawon. She’d done it so well, no one knew where she’d gone, tracks perfectly covered.

Hoseok hadn’t even entertained the thought /seriously/ and his father was already tracking his every move.

Jimin deserved an easy life.
“Hyung?”
“Sorry, I’m just—I’m glad. It looks good on you.”
“I get complimented on it all the time,” Jimin said happily, shimmying his shoulders, and Hoseok beamed.

Jimin looked up with a smile.

“I’ll pay the cover.”
“Ex/cuse/ m—!“
“Do you have cash on you?”

Hoseok fell silent.
“Well then I guess if you went and bought something, it’d show up on your statement, wouldn’t it? Hm. A charge made to a nightclub on the night you and your mother went to an art gallery.”

Jimin sighed dramatically as Hoseok fought a smile.

“Guess I /have/ to pay.”
“You brat..”
Hoseok watched Jimin pay the cover charge, making a mental note to never not have cash on him again. To say he was /unprepared/ for a date wasn’t totally accurate; at least Hoseok looked the part.

It was early, but there were still a good amount of bodies on the dance floor.
Hoseok had never been to a club before. So far his impression was ‘This looks about the same as it does in movies.’ The pulsing lights going in time with a beat that he could feel in his stomach, even the dance floor glowed in a slow rotation of colors. People dancing close.
The bar up front was clean and shiny, just about every seat taken. Shelves behind the counter stacked high with liquor.

Jimin was leading them to an empty booth.

“Do you want anything?” Hoseok called over the music.
“Just you,” Jimin answered. “I don’t wanna get drunk tonight.”
Before they were even fully seated, a cute girl in a ponytail was at their table, asking if they wanted drinks or snacks.

Jimin casually ordered two waters, and Hoseok was grateful that he was the only out of his element here.

The girl left, and Hoseok smiled sheepishly.
“I have a confession to make.”

Jimin gave him a coy grin, biting his lip.

“Is it that you don’t drink, Hyung?”
“Oh God—is is /that/ obvious?” Hoseok laughed, and Jimin laughed with him.

God, he’d missed that sound.

“I saw you at your party, you know. Before we talked?”
Hoseok thought back to his party, which honestly felt like a lifetime ago when it hadn’t even been a month.

“I was coming to talk to you and you just—/threw back/ soju, two shots—“
“You saw that—?”
“I /saw/ that, and the /face/ you made after, I almost said something!”
Hoseok was laughing into his hands, only a little embarrassed that Jimin had seen him.

“/I was nervous/, I needed to loosen up!”
“I know, you were really cute,” Jimin grinned.

He took one of Hoseok’s hands from his warm face and held it on the table.

“Are you nervous now?”
Hoseok turned his hand so their fingers could intertwine and shook his head with a smile.

“Not at all.”
“Good.”

He leaned across the table and kissed Hoseok softly, staying close so he wouldn’t have to shout.

“I want us to remember everything.”
“Dance with me.”

Jimin was already out of his seat, hand in hand with Hoseok as they left the booth. They passed their waitress, who only smiled; Hoseok looked back to see her put two bottles of water at their table.

“I just wanna let you know I really haven’t danced...at all.”
Aside from alone in his room, anyway...

Jimin turned, walking backward and taking Hoseok’s hand in both his own, and he smiled sweetly. Too sweetly for where they were, for this /song/, for the sort of moves Hoseok saw other clubbers doing.

“Just follow the beat and follow me.”
The song picked up, there /was/ a beat now, Jimin let go, and Hoseok watched him flow right into it, his hips swaying.

It was a little intimidating.

It was /extremely/ hot.

Hoseok kept good rhythm, standing close enough to him that he could feel the heat without touching him.
That was, until Jimin wanted them to be touching, his hands sliding up Hoseok’s body, fingers fanning open on his chest before he had him by the shoulders, pulling him closer until they were moving together.

Okay, Hoseok was warming up to dancing pretty quickly.
“Relax,” Jimin said right by his ear, and Hoseok wondered if Jimin knew just how impossible that was going to be. This atmosphere was intoxicating, /Jimin/ was intoxicating.

“There you go...just like that.”

Hoseok’s hands roved down Jimin’s sides, gripped his hips.
The warmth of Jimin’s back tantalized, singeing Hoseok’s fingertips. He drew his touch back, taking the moment to really feel his firm muscles before he lost it entirely.

‘Take it easy,’ he thought, eyes drifting down and back up Jimin’s body as the song slowly changed.
It was like something had awoken in Jimin.

Their tension dissipated as he looked up at Hoseok, the twinkle in his eyes catching Hoseok by surprise.

The song was different, a different mood but still high energy, still something that made Hoseok smile as Jimin got into it.
He was almost a little grateful for the space between them. He wasn’t above public displays, obviously, but the way it was here, the way /Jimin/ was.

Well. There were certain things Hoseok shouldn’t do if Jimin wanted to meet his mother. And that was perfectly fine.
Jimin thrived as he led Hoseok along into twirls, simple steps, striking poses when the beat stopped, grinning with glee.

There wasn’t anyone on the floor moving like him. There wasn’t anyone like Jimin. No one in Seoul, in Korea, on Earth.

No one shined like Jimin.

His light.
Hoseok loved him.

Even if he blamed himself for things out of control. Even if he didn’t believe in himself. Even if someday he realized Hoseok wasn’t enough, Hoseok knew as he looked at the man laughing in sheer delight across from him that this was it.

It had to be Jimin.
~
“Staring isn’t dancing!” Jimin called, laughing at how spacey Hoseok had gotten. That was the second time tonight.

“S–Sorry, I’m—“ Hoseok rushed, “I’m just—out of my element here.”
“You were doing great earlier! Just move, do what feels right! No one’s watching!”
If Jimin knew anything about clubs, it was that everyone was too wrapped up in who they’d brought to care about anyone else.

And no one here was more important than Hoseok right now.

He still couldn’t believe this was happening, how his day had totally one-eighty’d. His life.
He took Hoseok‘s hand, leading him into a few steps that he caught on to fairly quickly.

“Spin me!”
“How??”

Jimin pulled back to spin Hoseok and bring him back close to his chest. Hoseok looked surprised but delighted. Jimin grinned.

“Like that.”
Hoseok threw Jimin out in a spin, and Jimin used that momentum to come back to him, chest to chest.

“/Perfect/,” he praised, their lips dangerously close until Hoseok closed the distance in a quick peck, and Jimin buckled in laughter.

It was perfect.
Time passed.

Hoseok was a little awkward, but surprisingly a fast learner. Nothing extravagant, but Jimin thought maybe in another life, where he could have learned younger, more extensively, he could be somewhere similar to Jimin right now, maybe even beyond.
They collapsed in their booth, Jimin’s head thrown back in happy breathlessness, groping for his water bottle. The bottle had sweat quite a bit just sitting there, but it was still plenty cold as he sucked it down.

Hoseok looked worn out, sipping slowly, limbs loose.
“/You/,” Jimin breathed, setting his bottle down with a smile, “are a natural.”

Hoseok grinned, cocking his head in a sort of ‘Huh’ gesture before taking another quick chug.

“You don’t gotta flatter me.”
“I’m not kidding! I wouldn’t lie to you, Hyung.”
Jimin made a ‘gimme’ motion with his hand. Hoseok immediately reached over, hand out and open for the taking, and Jimin took it, squeezing it gently.

“I could teach you more. Not just club stuff...I know you said you think it’s too late, but I thought that way, too...”
He rubbed Hoseok’s hand with his thumb and looked up when heard Hoseok chuckling.

Jimin was worried, thinking maybe he’d overstepped, that he’d offended Hoseok, or made him feel less than what he was, which was wonderful. Impossibly wonderful.

But then Hoseok smiled warmly.
“I’d really like that, Jimin.”

Jimin grinned, elated, and they found themselves in a slow kiss as if that was their way of mutually agreeing.

He didn’t know how they could do it, how it would work, but it was a promise. Promises meant something to look forward to.
He was well aware tonight was an outlier. This couldn’t be their norm. Even messaging Hoseok had gone full tilt, but at least now Jimin knew why. It wasn’t because Hoseok didn’t want to see him.

Part of him ached, but another wanted to fight harder for this, for Hoseok.
Jimin’s time with Hoseok was greatly outweighed by the time spent without. They hadn’t grown up together. They hadn’t met in class, or at a job, or through a shared friend.

And yet as he kissed Hoseok, things like ‘time’ didn’t matter. Jimin knew him. Jimin cared for him.
Knowing Hoseok only to lose him so soon after had bordered the same pain that losing the cat he’d raised for ten years had.

It made no sense.

But Jimin was happy. He and Hoseok not only understood each other, but listened to each other. Supported each other.

Hoseok was real.
As they broke apart, that last thought echoed in his mind.

Hoseok was real.

That’s why...

“Jiminie?”
“Mm?” he responded, shaking himself out of his head.
“And you said /I’m/ staring,” Hoseok teased.

“I think I’m getting a headache, can we get outta here?”
“Yeah, no problem.”
The outside air hit their warm skin, and they shivered but it wasn’t unpleasant. Hoseok breathed a sigh of relief, bristling in the cold, bringing Jimin closer.

“God, my ears are ringing...”
“I’m surprised,” Jimin teased. “I figured you with your loud, /degenerate/ music...”
“Hey,” Hoseok said, bumping Jimin’s side with a wry smile, “it’s not like I’m desensitized. And I’d like to not go deaf before Joon-ah’s next album, thank you very much.”
“‘Joon-ah?’”
“/Look/, by proxy, I know Agust D now, and he collabed with RM once, /so if you think about—/“
“Did I seriously make your crush come back!?” Jimin laughed, leaning harder onto Hoseok.
“Something can’t come back if it never left, Jimin.”

Jimin was gone now, sides hurting with laughter by Hoseok’s seriousness. He honestly couldn’t tell if it were a joke or not.
“Okay, okay, okay,” he bubbled, clinging to Hoseok’s arm. “Okay, If RM and I were dangling off a cliff, and you could only save one of us—“
“RM.”
“/Hyung/—!”

Jimin shoved him, playfully scandalized as Hoseok grinned.

“I can’t /believe/—!“
“I need that album, Jimin.”
“/Stop/, I—!“ Jimin gasped, stumbling a bit as he doubled over in near hysterics.
“If I could save you /both/ I’d still let you go just to make /sure/ I could save RM.”

Jimin couldn’t even speak, couldn’t get out the boldfaced lie of ‘You’re the worst!,’ he was laughing so hard.
He completely missed the adoration in Hoseok’s eyes as he watched Jimin, so when Hoseok suddenly stopped walking and kissed him, it was a surprise, but a happy one.

Jimin kissed him on the sidewalk and felt like he could just float away to somewhere bright and warm.
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