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I Sought A Muse (But The Words Just Wouldn't Come)

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Yoongi is, quite frankly, sick of photographing Taehyung’s tongue.

Don’t get him wrong, he’s eternally grateful that Taehyung always agrees to model for his photography classes—though he’ll probably never tell the little brat. And Taehyung has such a great camera presence besides. But lately, he’s been all huge, goofy, toothy smiles and flirty flicks of his tongue to the corners of his mouth. Yoongi’s pretty sure it has something to do with how Taehyung meets him in the nature preserve on a mid-September evening wearing a sweatshirt that he offhandedly remarks is Jimin’s favorite. He tries—and fails—to rearrange the hood to obscure the spotty purple marks along the side of his neck. Which, fine, Yoongi’s happy for him, but nearly every photo he’s gotten this week looks the same because Taehyung can’t control his face anymore.

“You’re not subtle, you know,” Yoongi says, pointing to his own neck. He stares through the viewfinder of his camera and snaps a few photos from almost-imperceptibly different angles. Taehyung is perched on the back of a wooden bench, looking far too pleased with himself as he spreads his legs and slides his tongue over his bottom lip. Tilt the camera up a couple degrees, move to the left an inch. “You look like a kid who just got away with pissing in the pool.”

Taehyung lets out a short bark of a laugh. “How do you know I didn’t?” he answers with an exaggerated wink, and Yoongi resists the urge walk over and smack him upside the head. He tries a new position. He circles the bench until Taehyung is backlit by the sinking fount of the buttery sun, taking pictures of Taehyung’s silhouette and vacantly listening to him talk about how cute it is when Jimin laughs so hard that he folds in half. He crouches low, balancing on his toes, and that’s a good shot, except—

“Open your mouth,” Yoongi says, and he can’t quite believe what he’s about to say next. “Stick out your tongue. No, farther. And tilt your head back a little more—no, too far, there.”

“Is this what you think dirty talk is?” Taehyung asks. “If so, we need to work on that.”

“Fuck off,” Yoongi mutters, but there’s no fire in his voice. Yoongi takes three dozen photographs like that, with Taehyung’s goddamned tongue out, so that it looks like he’s about to swallow down the sunset. It’ll do. It’s the kind of soft, artsy shit that goes over well during his peer-evaluations. But it lacks…something. Lacks something of him. Something that doesn’t scream “This is half-assed but I need to meet a deadline.” He sighs.

The deadline for his midterm photography project is coming up far sooner than Yoongi would like to acknowledge, and in all honesty, Yoongi doesn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t have a project, per se. There’s a guy in his class who mostly takes pictures of peoples’ shoes, which he guesses is kind of neat, if you’re into that sort of thing. Yoongi doesn’t care much for still-life or abstract art. He likes playing with light and shadow, and landscapes are nice, but mostly he likes photographing people. People are weird. Weird looks good on camera.

Taehyung starts talking about Jimin’s “delicious” biceps, his mouth stretching into a dopey, wide rectangle. Maybe it’s time to try a new model. A new muse.

***

The obvious problem in finding a new model is that Yoongi doesn’t know a whole lot of people. He keeps to himself more often than not, and he’s already tried the people he does know. Namjoon’s a natural model, but he’s studying abroad for the semester, so that’s not helpful. And Hoseok tries so hard to be a good subject that he ends up looking like a statue after a short while—cold, stiff, about to be shat on by birds. He could ask Jimin to model, but he suspects that if he does that, he’ll be getting two models for the price of one. He’s not sure he wants to do couples’ photography yet.

So he posts a wanted ad of sorts on the university message board. He feels weird about it, soliciting a body online, but he’s seen far weirder things on these boards. People trying to sell half-eaten bags of Cheetos, people looking for sex toys, people offering two-hundred dollars to anyone willing to write a fifteen-page paper on Foucault for them. Relatively speaking, he thinks, this is tame.

Min Yoongi: Looking for model for photography project. Will pay in food and copies of photos.

He adds his email address and posts it. He closes the window but hurriedly reopens it to edit his message:

Min Yoongi: Looking for model for photography project. Will pay in food and copies of photos. SFW PHOTOSHOOTS ONLY.

It’s a necessary addition, if he remembers anything from his first photography class a couple semesters back. He had asked a girl who lived on the same floor of his dorm if she’d let him take some pictures of her hands. Really, that’s all he wanted, because he noticed that she always wore at least twenty silver rings at one time, just skinny bands on all of her fingers, and that was fascinating to him. She had shown up in his room without her rings, instead wearing satiny black lingerie under her zipped-up hoodie, which she had unzipped not long after he had let her in, and nope. That was absolutely not what he had been going for. He had shooed her out of his room, his face nearly on fire, and never managed to look that girl in the eye again. Yeah, he’s learned the very hard way.

Not even five minutes later, he gets a text message:

Taetae: youre replacing me????????????????????????????? :((((((((

Min Yoongi: I just want to switch it up for a while.

Taetae: :C

Min Yoongi: You’re still my favorite, okay?

Taetae: good. youre my second favorite.

Min Yoongi: I take it back. You’re the worst.

He ignores the next influx of sad emojis and goes to class.

***

It takes three days before someone other than Taehyung answers his ad. (The little dweeb answers his ad twice, using different emails, but Yoongi’s not an idiot. He can’t possibly imagine that the email “gucci4life” belongs to anyone but Taehyung.) Their correspondence was short. This guy—his name is Seokjin, if Yoongi remembers correctly—sent a message with something super vain like “cameras love my face,” which should be an enormous red flag, but Yoongi’s starting to get desperate. And in any case, if it’s true, it’ll just make his job a lot easier. They agree to meet outside the old engineering building. Even though Yoongi’s never had a class there and probably never will, it has ornate jade-colored front doors that make great backdrops for portraits.

Of course, Yoongi is late for their meet-up. Not atrociously late—unlike Namjoon, who’s been known to show up at 7:15 when the plan was clearly for 6:00—but late enough to be considered rude. It’s not his fault that the clueless herds of touring prospective students wouldn’t fucking move. He was like a dog stuck on the highway, weaving around and between the incoming traffic, struggling to get out.

Outside the engineering building, on a bench a few yards down from the door, is a guy in a cream-colored turtleneck sweater, ripped up jeans, and big wire glasses that keep slipping down to the tip of his nose. He’s got a book in his left hand, a yellow highlighter in his right, and the marker’s cap between his teeth. And he’s…really, really pretty.

“Shit, man, I’m sorry I’m late,” Yoongi says as he collapses on the bench next to the guy. “You are Seokjin, right?”

The guy caps his highlighter and puts down his book. “Yeah, that’s me. Hi.”

“Sorry I’m late,” Yoongi says again. “Stupid freshman tours. Always in the way.”

Seokjin smiles knowingly. “I know how that is. The worst is when they stand in a blockade at the top of the steps outside of the Union building.” Yoongi’s thankful that he doesn’t sound upset. “So. How do you want me?”

Yoongi directs him to stand in front of the jade doors, and they make the kind of awkward small talk that college students make with each other. Where they live, what they’re majoring in. Standard stuff. Even though it’s the most basic of information, Seokjin has a pleasant lilt to his voice, and Yoongi finds himself asking more questions than usual to keep him talking. He learns that Seokjin grew up not too far from the university, maybe two hours north, and he’s living in a place off of Second Street, and he’s studying both acting and literature. He’s the youngest in his family and he has a bratty lapdog at home and he thinks this weather is the best weather.

Unlike his usual shoots with Taehyung, Yoongi doesn’t have to give Seokjin much direction. He angles himself differently every few moments and cycles through a variety of expressions without having to be told. And everything about Seokjin looks right on camera—he’s simultaneously soft and angular, the curve of his cheeks with the slant of his eyebrows, the slim line of his hips with the broad, sweeping arcs of his shoulders. He doesn’t want to break Taehyung’s heart, but one session with Seokjin is providing him with more workable material than their last four sessions.

When they’ve gone through the standard lineup of typical college chitchat, Yoongi mentions vaguely that he raps in what little free time he has, just to keep the conversation going.

You? Rap?” Seokjin asks in surprise.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“You just talk so slow. I wouldn’t have guessed.” There’s a beat of silence as Seokjin rearranges himself and Yoongi takes more photographs. He’s never really thought about how fast or slow he talks but he guesses it’s true. Then: “Are you any good?”

Yoongi scoffs. “Of course I’m good.”

Seokjin narrows his eyes. “They all say that.”

Normally, Yoongi doesn’t rap for just anyone—certainly not for people he’s known for all of forty-five minutes. It’s not like a party trick that he whips out when he wants other people to like him. But the sly, quiet challenge in Seokjin’s voice and the disbelieving quirk of his eyebrows eat at his pride until he clears his throat. He raps a sprawling tongue-twister of a verse that he helped Namjoon write. He’s done it so many times at this point that he can spit out the entire thing in ten seconds flat. (Yes, he’s timed it. Yes, he’s still got Namjoon beat by about two seconds. No, he’s not particularly worried that Namjoon will break his record.)

He finishes, and Seokjin’s mouth opens into a little o. Yoongi takes several photos of this shaken-up expression because it’s kind of hilarious.

“Delete those,” Seokjin snaps, harsh for the fastest second. He crosses his arms and leans back into a casual pose against the doors. “I’ll admit, you’re decent. I do some rapping myself.”

“Oh, really? That’s cool.”

“Yeah, some people even compare me to Jay Z.”

Yoongi lowers his camera for a second and stares. “I can’t tell if you’re being serious.” He lifts the camera back up and watches Seokjin burst into giggles through the viewfinder and god, he’s stunning? The way his nose scrunches up and his shoulders shake and his dangling earring wiggles back and forth—Yoongi takes so many shots of him laughing and he kind of hates that Seokjin was right. His camera does, in fact, love his face, and his camera probably isn’t the only one.

“Nah, I can’t rap for shit. But ‘No Church in the Wild’? Amazing.”

This seems to officially break the ice, having found a common ground, and they shoot for another hour, talking about music and how Seokjin’s learning to play the guitar and Yoongi’s love for the piano, even though he hasn’t played for years. Then Yoongi notices that Seokjin starts blinking really hard, catching a few instances on his camera. “Are you…okay?” he asks.

Seokjin takes off his glasses to rub at his eyes. “Yeah, fine, just hungry. Haven’t eaten since lunch.” He adds shamelessly, “You said you were paying in food. I think we should go get chicken wings.”

“Chicken wings aren’t even good. Too much work for not enough pay-off.”

And Seokjin looks as though he’s been personally affronted. “Excuse me? All chicken wings are good chicken wings. I can't believe you'd say something like that. Can we wrap up soon? I’m going to change your life.”

“I’d like to see you try.”

***

Seokjin takes him to the tiniest restaurant Yoongi has ever seen. It’s on the far south side of campus, where Yoongi spends approximately zero time because the south side is mostly just freshman housing, gyms, and three Starbucks all within a few blocks of each other. The place is down some pot-holed back-alley, tucked between an apartment and a laundromat, and Yoongi wonders briefly if Seokjin’s a serial killer and he’s about to meet his demise.

Nah. He doesn’t think Seokjin could carry that out. He’s talking so lovingly about chicken, for god’s sake. And if worse comes to worse, Yoongi’s really fast when he needs to be. He could outrun Seokjin, probably. It’s fine.

Inside, it smells like frying oil and salt, and Yoongi didn’t realize that he was hungry until now. There are a total of three tables and eight chairs, all mismatched and worn but clean. A bored-looking woman in a faded red apron leans over the cash register, and the kitchen is on full display behind her. She breaks into a grin when she looks up.

“Hi, Jinnie,” she says kindly. “It’s been a while. Usual order?”

“Nice to see you, Sunnie,” he responds, and Yoongi can tell he’s turned the charm-factor all the way up to ten. “Two orders, please. My nonbeliever friend here says he doesn’t like chicken wings and I feel personally responsible for showing him the error of his ways.”

The cashier plays along, wishing Seokjin luck with his “nonbeliever friend,” and Yoongi stares incredulously at the man standing beside him, who is rearranging the take-out menus on the counter like it’s his job. As he digs his card out of his wallet, he asks, “How often do you come here that she knows your order? Who even are you?”

“I’m a simple chicken connoisseur,” Seokjin says airily. Yoongi signs the receipt and settles into one of the eight chairs. Seokjin takes the seat across from him and begins talking animatedly about food. Seokjin is so excited and sincere and he keeps having to push his glasses back up after they keep sliding down, and Yoongi’s maybe a little tiny bit infatuated. Just a little.

Seokjin is explaining why recipes that call for only one clove of garlic are ridiculous, but he’s cut short when the woman from behind the counter brings the food out. Yoongi gives her a nod in thanks and stares at his basket of stupid chicken wings.

Seokjin immediately grabs a drumette. The sound he makes when he takes a bite is vaguely obscene. It’s some breathy sort of groan, and honestly Yoongi doesn’t really know what to do with himself. It’s a lot to process. He hasn’t even tried the wings yet he’s already liking them a lot more than he used to.

“These are mango habanero wings,” Seokjin explains. “Sweet, sour, spicy—a perfect balance. My favorite thing on the menu.”

Yoongi digs a flat out of his basket. “These are why I don’t like chicken wings,” he says, holding it up for Seokjin to see. “There’s no good way to eat these.”

Seokjin finishes his first wing. He then sticks his index finger halfway into his mouth to lick it clean, and Yoongi wouldn’t be able to look away even if he tried. “I can’t believe how wrong you are. Let me demonstrate.” His finds a flat in his own basket. “You see, every flat has a pointy side and a straight side. The pointy side affords the first bite, so you start there.” He indicates the part he’s talking about and then tears it off with his teeth. “Then you eat the other side because of symmetry. And then the fun part. You have to pull the bones apart to make sure you don’t miss any of the meat. See?” He snaps the flat in half and drags his teeth over the bones, humming happily to himself as he goes. “And that’s how you eat a chicken wing.”

“Jesus,” Yoongi says, blatantly staring at the flick of Seokjin’s tongue over his lips. “You are…too much.” But he’s enthralled anyway, hanging on to everything he says.

“You try.”

Yoongi tries for himself, separating the bones with a satisfyingly hollow crack. He reluctantly agrees that one, the mango habanero sauce is delicious and two, the Seokjin Method is pretty effective.

“Of course it is,” Seokjin preens. “I’ve perfected the chicken-wing-eating technique at this point.”

Seokjin’s nearly halfway through his pile of wings when he accidentally smears a sticky, saucy hand over his cheek. “You’re not really eating deliciously if you don’t get some of it on you, huh?” he says sagely, reaching for a napkin. The profile of his face is dark compared to the bright white light of the kitchen behind him, and the sauce on his face shines like a comet streaking toward his mouth.

He’s turned some damned chicken wings into art.

“Wait!” Yoongi says quickly, before Seokjin can clean his face. He flushes deep red and asks if he can take a picture of him like that, stammering over words like “contrast” and “lighting” and “beautiful.” But Seokjin nods and relaxes all the same, and Yoongi wipes his hands before taking a bunch of photographs.

He flips through some of the pictures he took that afternoon and gathers his courage. “Would you, um, would you be okay doing more shoots? I mean. Well, if you wouldn’t mind? You’re a really great subject. Like really great.” And that could have come out exponentially better, but—

“Flattery,” Seokjin says seriously, “will get you everywhere.” He laughs. “I had fun. I wouldn’t mind helping out again if you need.” Then, glancing shrewdly into Yoongi’s bone-filled basket: “I thought you didn’t like chicken wings. And yet here we are.” The smile Yoongi gets when he begrudgingly admits that maybe chicken wings aren’t so bad after all is enough to send his heart into overdrive.

That night, when backing up his photos to his laptop, Yoongi finds himself staring for an awfully long time at the pictures of Seokjin’s messy face. Just…the set of his jaw and the contour of his full lips and the playful glint of his eyes are really nice, okay? He thinks back to the way Seokjin explained so thoroughly how to eat a fucking chicken wing, and suddenly, Yoongi thinks of a project. A comprehensive project.

He emails Seokjin (because he was dumb and forgot to get his number) and proposes the plan: a thematic portfolio of the art of eating. Yoongi tentatively titles this project the Eat Jin Series. Seokjin replies nearly an hour later, completely on board, and Yoongi wonders how soon is too soon to ask to meet up again. He sends his phone number and grins madly to himself when Seokjin texts him almost immediately, asking if he’s down to get Thai food over the weekend—you know, for the project.

***

Seokjin slides into his life like the tide foaming over the beach, like he’s meant to be there, like he’s always been there and will continue to sweep back in every day.

They do Eat Jin often, sometimes even several days in a row. After their fourth Eat Jin set-up—a simple coffee shop deal with hot cocoa and chocolate-ganache-filled croissants—Yoongi is hit with a mildly alarming epiphany. Their Eat Jin sessions feel like dates. He doesn’t call them dates, of course, but…he likes Seokjin. Really likes Seokjin. He’s charming and witty and it doesn’t help that Yoongi spends a lot of time watching his very pretty mouth. (Plus his shoots with Taehyung have never felt like this, never this intimate, and he’s certainly never gotten butterflies when watching Taehyung slurp up ramen.)

At some point, Seokjin starts insisting that Yoongi can stop paying for his food. “Spending time with you is payment enough,” Seokjin says lightly, and that’s where it stops becoming a work relationship, per se, and something else that Yoongi can’t exactly name. (That’s also where his sobbing wallet breathes a heaving sigh of relief.) They’re not dates, but Yoongi doesn’t exactly know what to call them. All he knows is that Seokjin always looks flawlessly composed in front of the camera, even when eating in his own ridiculous ways.

There are the slabs of sliced steak that he rolls up and shoves whole into his mouth, for example. (“You can take more than one bite,” Yoongi suggests, but Seokjin ignores him and chews with bulging cheeks.) There’s the big, soft pretzel that he eats from the inside out, pulling out the middle twisted section to leave a heart-shaped ring of dough before dunking the pieces into fluorescent orange cheese. There’s the mint ice cream in the handmade waffle cone with sprinkles that get stuck to the corners of Seokjin’s mouth because sometimes he has the eating habits of a toddler.

And of course, there’s the time he all but deep-throats his lettuce wraps.

“Yeah, I can fit a lot in my mouth,” Seokjin says proudly, right before packing another wrap into his mouth, and Yoongi nearly gets hard at the corner café at one o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, but Seokjin doesn’t seem to acknowledge the innuendo.

***

Taetae: me and jimin are going to blue house for belated birthday pie tonight. like nine. you should come and bring seokjin so we can finally meet the dude you replaced me with.

It’s the middle of October, and it’s been about a week since he’s seen Seokjin. He’s been far too busy balancing assignments and the overwhelming desire to just sleep for the next six years. He hasn’t even gotten around to showering in maybe three days, which he should probably rectify soon.

Yoongi misses Seokjin. Like a lot. It doesn’t matter that Yoongi spent basically all of this past week staring at Seokjin’s face as he put the final touches on his midterm portfolio of Eat Jin shots. It doesn’t matter that they hardly go more than a couple hours without texting each other. It doesn’t matter than Seokjin has recently started asking would-you-rather questions, which are all weird and childish and Yoongi answers every single one seriously. Yoongi just happens to like Seokjin’s company in person more.

He opens up their message thread. The last thing Seokjin had asked was, “Would you rather have fire breath or ice breath?” to which Yoongi responded, “I already spit fire when I rap. I’ll take ice breath to even it out.” The corners of his mouth quirk up as he rereads the keysmash reply, and he can all but hear Seokjin’s accompanying laugh.

Min Yoongi: Do you like pie?

Seokjinnie: What kind of ridiculous question is that?

…Fair. Seokjin eats everything. Of course he likes pie. (And, it’s important to note, Yoongi did not set his name to Seokjinnie in his phone. Seokjin did that himself.)

Min Yoongi: Do you want to get pie tonight with me and a couple of friends? 9:00?

Seokjinnie: What kind of ridiculous question is that?

Min Yoongi: Okay, okay, you have a point. Meet me in the quad at 8:30?

Seokjinnie: See you then, Yoongi-chiiiiii. :)

He responds to Taehyung after that, giving a noncommittal “Sure,” and it’s so emotionally detached, but he’s suddenly very content.

Taetae: catch you later honeybunches.

Yoongi spends the rest of the evening highlighting passages in the textbook for his psychology gen-ed, trying his damnedest to keep the vocabulary words straight, writing things like stereopsis and strabismus and their definitions in the notebook next to him. By 7:30, his eyes have already glazed over, and he decides that’s enough reading. He takes care of those basic human needs he’s been neglecting, showering and putting on pants that aren’t basketball shorts. As he’s toweling off his hair, he most certainly doesn’t think about the grapefruit-scented shampoo he knows Seokjin uses.

After he checks off all his essentials—camera, keys, phone, wallet—he walks the mile to the quad, and even though he’s a few minutes early, Seokjin’s already there, pacing aimlessly between two lampposts. He shouts Yoongi's name when he sees him walking up the sidewalk, waving him over.

“Take my picture!” he says, clinging to one of the lampposts like he’s Gene Kelly and screaming when he nearly loses his grip. Yoongi smiles and adjusts the camera's exposure. He’s laughing too much to keep his camera steady, and the pictures he takes are grainy and dark, but he doesn’t care. It’s not like this was a planned shoot. This is just…being friends. Or something. When Seokjin’s satisfied with the impromptu photo-op, he casually grabs Yoongi’s arm, letting Yoongi lead the way.

Taehyung and Jimin are already there, loitering in Blue House’s lobby, sharing earbuds to watch something on one of their phones, and Yoongi groans out loud when he sees them. They’re fucking wearing matching shirts. He assumes that one of them was supposed to be wearing a shirt that says “I’m With Stupid.” But both of them are emblazoned simply with “I’m Stupid.” Good first impression.

“These are my friends, Stupid One and Stupid Two,” he says, vaguely gesturing between the three of them. He shoves them all into the diner proper and surveys the place.

It’s a Thursday night at nine—too early for the three-day-weekend partiers to come stumbling in drunk, so it’s relatively quiet. Everything smells like some weird combination of bacon grease, burnt sugar, and Lysol, just like it always does, and he wonders how such a gross place like this could have such fantastic pie. (Yoongi thinks the pies are the only things worth ordering here, though Taehyung likes to fight with him over this. Taehyung thinks Blue House has the best French fries known to man, which Yoongi thinks is mind-boggling.)

He listens to his friends make real introductions as he asks the hostess for a table. Taehyung compliments Seokjin on his Super Mario Bros sweatshirt. The hostess beckons for them to follow her, and Yoongi tries to corral them along.

“I’ll join in just a second,” Seokjin says. Yoongi doesn’t question it—maybe he’s going to find the bathroom, maybe he needs to take a call outside, whatever—but as he scoots into a tattered old booth across from Taehyung, he sees Seokjin shoving coins into the claw machine that’s tucked into an alcove by the front door.

Yoongi’s been coming to Blue House regularly for at least two years and he’s pretty sure he’s never seen anyone play that thing. He’s probably glanced at the same wonky-eyed Ryan plushie inside the machine since his very first visit. But Seokjin looks like he’s concentrating hard, his shoulders tensed up and his forehead nearly pressed against the glass box. Yoongi finds himself grinning, and he misses the way both Taehyung and Jimin surreptitiously glance over their shoulders to follow his line of sight.

“Oh, I see what’s happening here,” Taehyung says in that darkly satirical, smug tone of his. It’s suspiciously similar to his “I’m plotting something” voice.

“What are you talking about? There’s nothing happening,” Yoongi says, his attention snapping away from Seokjin. Taehyung ignores him. He leans over to whisper in Jimin’s ear, and even though he covers his mouth, Yoongi can still see that his eyes spell mischief. It makes him nervous.

Jimin can’t seem to keep a straight face to save his life—he’s giggling madly behind his hand—and once, his eyes widen so suddenly that Yoongi kind of thinks he’s hurt himself. But then Jimin says, “You can’t just say things like that!” and goes back to eating up whatever Taehyung is feeding him.

Seokjin comes back from the claw machine positively beaming, holding a Pichu plushie around its belly. For whatever reason, Yoongi is so proud. It’s a stupid toy and a waste of money, but Seokjin lifts one of the Pokémon’s stubby yellow arms to wave it at Yoongi, and it’s cute, damn it.

Seokjin settles into the seat and arranges the plushie between himself and Yoongi, making sure it faces the table like it’s going to eat with them. Meanwhile, Taehyung stares directly at Yoongi, his face quietly alight. Yoongi doesn’t like that look at all.

“It’s so rare that me and Taehyungie get to go on double dates,” Jimin says coyly, and Yoongi swears his soul leaves his body. The little shit. Both of them.

“I wasn’t aware that this was a date,” Seokjin says, and Yoongi’s can’t quite read his voice. He doesn’t sound upset—maybe a bit confused, but there’s something else in his tone that eludes him.

“It’s not,” Yoongi says forcefully, his soul plummeting back down into the diner.

“It’s not?” Taehyung asks. His hand flutters at his throat in shock, and he bats his eyes just a few too many times to be really believable. “But Seokjin,” he simpers across the table, “Yoongi is crazy about you!”

Heat swarms his face and he hates it. He risks glancing over at Seokjin, who looks relatively unbothered.

“I’m sure he is,” Seokjin laughs easily, relaxing back into the booth. “I’m a delight.” He runs his hand through his hair, looking every bit like the debonair model he is. Under the table, he bumps his knee against Yoongi’s, a silent sort of camaraderie. Then Seokjin sits up straight again, leaning over the tacky green tabletop and getting all up in Jimin’s face.

“Aren’t you crazy about me too, Jimin?” he asks, piling on the theatrics with the smoothest, most charming voice Yoongi has ever heard come out of a person.

Seokjin blows Jimin a bizarrely intimate kiss, soft and sultry, and Yoongi watches with sheer amazement as the grins on both Jimin and Taehyung’s faces drop. Jimin looks stunned. Yoongi almost pulls out his camera because that ghostly face is something else, but he’s also waiting to see what happens next. Taehyung slings a possessive arm around Jimin’s shoulders and pulls him so close that Jimin’s practically leaning into his lap and whispers something out of the side of his mouth that Yoongi thinks sounds like “abort.”

Seokjin turns to Yoongi then. His face speaks of an apology, even though Yoongi’s not sure why. His forehead is creased, and his eyes are soft and worried. Yoongi gives him a quick nod and a smile, and the worry slips away from Seokjin’s face.

“Anyway,” Yoongi says quickly, simultaneously trying to tell Taehyung via telepathy to fuck the fuck right off, “I don’t know if this is a French silk or a lemon curd kind of night.”

As it turns out, none of them can decide what kind of pie they want. It’s not even the sort of thing that a coin-toss can solve. It’s just too difficult of a decision. Plus, this is Seokjin’s first time at Blue House, and they give him at least six suggestions for what kind of pie he should get because how has he never been to Blue House and he needs to make up for lost time. That’s how they end up with eleven slices of pie on the table to split between the four of them, and Yoongi knows that he will definitely regret this later. But the look on Seokjin’s face when the waitress came and skeptically laid out piece after piece of pie—seeing his pretty brown eyes wide as melons in sheer wonder is probably worth the impending sugar crash and stomach ache.

“Hey, Yoongi, Yoongi,” Seokjin says before they dig in, reaching across the table to pick up the plate of cherry pie, already snickering. Yoongi watches his face struggle to maintain any sort of composure, his lips twitching up into a grin. “Wouldn’t you say that I’m…cherry funny?”

Jimin starts to giggle across the table. Yoongi rolls his eyes, but a sly, fleeting, foxlike smile creeps across his face. “Pie don’t think you’re cherry funny at all,” he says without missing a beat.

Seokjin gasps, either delighted that Yoongi’s playing along for once or offended. “You have no taste in jokes, you crusty old man.” And Jimin positively loses it, burying his face in Taehyung’s shoulder. Yoongi hears Taehyung say in a grossly tender voice, “Pie love you cherry much, Jiminie,” to which Yoongi wants to gag but doesn’t.

Taehyung smears marshmallow from the s’mores pie on Jimin’s cheek and then accidentally drops a glob of oozing strawberry filling on his own shirt. Yoongi gets pictures of both of them, and they’re good photos. Pie and love make for good photos. The lemon curd pie at Blue House is a long-standing favorite of his, but tonight the best one out of all of them is the blueberry pie and its sticky purple filling that stains Seokjin’s lips. He gets a photograph of Seokjin talking with his mouth full, his teeth royal blue. Seokjin throws a small fit at that one, telling him to delete it because he’s sure he looks dumb. He does, looking like he just ate a tube of acrylic paint, but Yoongi’s not going to tell him that. He pretends to delete the photo.

“You are too much,” he says as Seokjin poses with one hand in a peace sign and the other hand holding his fork up near his face. He indulges him anyway, listening to the shutter of his camera clickclickclick. Seokjin just responds with that squeaky laugh, and Yoongi captures that on camera, too, the nose scrunch and the toothy smile and the crinkly eyes.

They eat until Yoongi wants to throw up, and they split the check four ways—because it’s not a date, even though he thinks Taehyung ends up paying for the brat side of the table. After Yoongi digs his wallet out his pocket, he notices a spot of whipped cream still under Seokjin’s lip. He doesn’t even think twice about reaching over, swiping at it with his thumb, and absently licking it away before he puts a handful of small bills in the pile on the table. By the time he realizes what he’s done, Seokjin is debating with Jimin about the objectively best lollipop flavor (Jimin says it’s grape, which, according to Seokjin, is ten kinds of wrong), and Taehyung is staring at him with big eyes and an even bigger shit-eating grin.

“Nothing’s happening, huh?” he asks offhandedly, and Yoongi wishes there was pie left to smash into his face.

***

(“Something’s happening,” Yoongi bemoans the next day, lying face-down on Taehyung’s unmade bed. He had gone home after the pie experience—because it was an experience more than anything else—and passed out at his desk several hours later while trying to edit a couple of photos from that evening. He had dreamed of kissing Seokjin under a pink sky and had woken up with a racing heart, and it had seemed so wonderfully real.

“You don’t say,” Taehyung says, voice dripping vicious sarcasm. “Congratulations, little Min. You’ve discovered emotions. You’re a real human after all.” After patting Yoongi’s shoulder in comfort for a few moments, he says, “If I’m not your best man at your wedding, I’ll never forgive you.”)

***

By early November, they’re spending more and more time together outside of doing Eat Jin. They monopolize empty conference rooms at the library and half study, half watch YouTube videos together. They grab coffee on Monday afternoons before classes, and Yoongi knows all of Seokjin’s orders by heart. Yoongi meets Seokjin’s friend Jeongguk, and he somehow finds himself passed out in Jeongguk’s bed after a frat party, snuggled up in a weird pile of him, Seokjin, Jeongguk, and Hoseok. (It could have been a lot weirder, honestly, but Yoongi promises himself he won’t spend any more nights in Jeongguk’s room.)

He ends up staying at Seokjin’s apartment one Friday night, finding solace there after it started to torrential downpour on their way back from doing Eat Jin at the sushi place on lower campus. Yoongi’s prepared to crash on the couch to avoid walking home through the storm, but Seokjin shakes his head. “Trust me, you don’t want to sleep there. It’ll fuck up your back for a week. You can sleep with me.”

Yoongi tries to fight the blush he can feel working across his face. “I don’t think that’s a great idea. I mean, you don’t have to—“

“Come on, you big baby,” he replies with a heavy roll of his eyes. “I’m not trying to compromise your virtue. Just trying to save your spine. I own the worst couch known to man.”

Yoongi nods absent-mindedly, and it’s only vaguely weird to be in Seokjin’s bed. He doesn’t take up much room when he sleeps, and even though Seokjin’s bed isn’t that big, they don’t even touch. The rain continues all night long, the wind lashing it at the windows, and Yoongi wakes up in the middle of the night to a huge cymbal-crash of thunder.

Seokjin is still fast asleep. Yoongi stares at the ceiling until his eyes start to adjust to the dark, and he slides slowly out of bed to the bathroom. He rinses the sleep-stale spit from his mouth, takes a long drink of water, and stares in quiet awe at how many face cleansers and lotions are lined up on the counter next to the sink. When he pads back from the bathroom, feeling his way down the hallway, he nearly trips over his own sweatshirt that he had thrown on the floor. He tries not to jostle Seokjin around as he slips back into his bed, but the mattress dips with Yoongi’s weight nevertheless. Seokjin stirs and gives a grumpy groan. Yoongi has no idea how he slept through the thunder but woke up to that.

“Sorry,” Yoongi whispers.

Seokjin rearranges himself in the blankets, nodding into the pillow. “S’okay,” he mumbles, letting out a sleepy sigh. Under the covers, one of Seokjin’s hands sneaks over toward Yoongi’s just so their knuckles brush against each other. Nothing more. It’s silent for a long time, and Yoongi thinks Seokjin’s already fallen back to sleep. But then Seokjin says, in a honeyed voice thick and far too slow, “Have you ever been in love?”

Yoongi nearly chokes. “It’s like four in the morning. This isn’t the time to ask those kinds of questions.”

“It’s the only time to ask those questions.”

Which is more or less true. Four in the morning erases these kinds of conversations. It’s a liminal time in which things happen and don’t happen simultaneously. When they wake up in the morning proper, it’ll be like this half-asleep conversation never occurred. They’ll never speak of it again, because that’s how four in the morning works, and Yoongi thinks that’s probably for the best.

Seokjin continues. “I have, twice. Once a very long time ago.” He doesn’t specify when the second time was, and his unspoken words tumble between them like pebbles into a ravine.

Yoongi can just barely make out Seokjin looking at him in the darkness, his eyes lit by the faintest sliver of streetlamp light seeping in through the curtains. He thinks about making a joke, saying something asshole-ish like “I’m only in love with myself.” But that feels cheap, too insensitive, like he’d be cheating at whatever sort of game Seokjin is trying to play. “I think so,” he answers finally, turning his face away. And even though it’s ambiguous and unhelpful, there’s still a light flutter in his stomach, some juvenile embarrassment that tiptoes through his thoughts, a warm feeling deep in his chest.

“You don’t know for sure?”

“Not entirely.”

“Then you haven’t been in love,” Seokjin says. “You would know.”

Thunder rumbles somewhere in the distance. Yoongi’s eyes drift closed again, and he doesn’t bother answering. He just doesn't know how. He breathes in deep, and everything smells like Seokjin. Almost dizzyingly so. As he slips back to sleep to the sound of Seokjin’s slow, even breathing, though, his dream-cotton mind thinks that he does, in fact, know. He thinks he’s probably known for a while.

But that’s that kind of thought that four in the morning erases.

***

It’s eight in the morning, it’s still drizzling lightly, and Seokjin is still asleep. Technically Yoongi would still like to be asleep too, but he's not, and it’s probably detrimental to his sanity to spend much longer in Seokjin’s bed staring at his collarbones. As if to prove a point to his own self, he thinks for two seconds that the dip of Seokjin’s collarbones, peeking out of his loose t-shirt, is so pronounced he could eat pudding out of them. Pudding cup collarbones.

Yeah, that’s super weird. He should get up.

“Hey,” he whispers, reaching out. It might be a bad idea, but he allows his fingers to trail up Seokjin's bicep and linger near those collarbones for just a moment before shaking his shoulder gently.

Seokjin scrunches up his face in annoyance, smushing one cheek into his pillow, but then he opens his eyes and his expression smooths out like the horizon. He smiles a sleepy smile and rolls over to face Yoongi better. There are faint red marks on his face from the creases of his linens. “Morning,” he says. The tendons in his neck flex as he stretches. The lines of his body are so satisfying and Yoongi kind of wants to touch him all over.

“I should probably…um…go.”

Seokjin’s eyes snap open fully. “No, wait,” he mumbles, heaving himself into something resembling a sitting position. He rubs at his face blearily, looking a bit like a struggling kitten. “I was going to surprise you with breakfast, but you’re apparently some sort of supernatural creature who wakes up early on Saturdays. You can stay for a while, yeah?”

“I really should—”

“Please?”

Honestly, fuck Yoongi because he can’t seem to say no. “Yes, fine, whatever. Breakfast. If you want.”

“I want,” Seokjin agrees. “I want waffles.”

In one of Seokjin’s shirts, which is far too long on him, Yoongi sits at the table and watches Seokjin separate eggs into two bowls. He thought, foolishly, that “waffles” meant boxed mix and maple syrup, like any normal person. But no, Seokjin is making homemade batter and roasted peaches. Because of course. Of course he would.

“This is so easy I could do it in my sleep,” he promises when Yoongi complains that he’s expending too much effort. Yoongi is seriously doubtful of this. This whole process seems rather complicated. Seokjin beats the egg whites in one bowl until they’re stiff and mixes the yolks with milk and butter. There’s flour all over the counter, and there's a lot of transferring of things between a million different bowls, which does not seem easy.

“This is too much. You’re too much,” Yoongi says as Seokjin pulls a small dish of halved, brown-sugar-glazed peaches out of the oven, but his voice is gentle. “Thank you.”

And the photographs he gets of Seokjin, with a huge mouthful of waffle and a milk mustache, more than justify staying for breakfast.

***

It’s the first week of December, and Yoongi’s had a not-great day. He went to bed far too late and woke up far too early. He dropped a coffee mug on the floor this morning and there’s still a small pile of shattered ceramic pieces next to his refrigerator. His laptop decided to die unexpectedly in the middle of his first lecture. He knows he bombed the pop quiz in his psychology course. It started to snow on his way home from class and he didn't bring his gloves. And it smells like piss in his apartment building’s elevator, which is just like the grossest cherry on top of his shit-sundae of a day.

All he wants to do is curl up in a corner and pretend like this day didn’t happen. He unlocks the door to his apartment and doesn’t even bother turning on the lights as he dumps his bag on the floor and slumps face-first on his couch. He lays there in the dark and is jolted out of his near-sleep when he feels his phone vibrate in his back pocket.

Seokjinnie: You up for Eat Jin? There’s that new place on Green Street with the fancy burgers???

Min Yoongi: Hate to disappoint but I don’t really feel like going out. With my luck today I’ll probably get hit by a bus and die. Today was bullshit.

Seokjinnie: Oh nooo. I’m sorry. Can I come over? I could make your day less bullshit. I’ll even cook.

That wasn’t what Yoongi was expecting. On the few occasions that Yoongi’s had to turn him down, he’s always responded with a cheerful “no problem” or “maybe in a few days after you finish your project.” Seokjin’s considerate like that. But he can’t deny that good food and Seokjin would, in fact, make this day significantly less shitty. He can’t deny that his kneejerk reaction to anything involving Seokjin is a resounding yes. However, he’s become rather suspicious of the universe today and he doesn’t want to get his hopes up.

Min Yoongi: Unless you’re planning on making a homemade meal out of a box of Poptarts and some leftover takeout, good luck.

Seokjinnie: You’re being really difficult, you know that? Just leave it to me, yeah?

Yoongi stares at his phone for a while. He’s not really trying to be difficult. Just practical. Rational. (Alright, so he knows he’s not being rational with the superstitious fear that he’d get hit by a bus. Whatever. It’s still valid.) He wonders why he’s being so fucking dumb about this.

Min Yoongi: Okay. But don’t go overboard.

Seokjinnie: No promises. :)

It’s only when Yoongi sends his apartment’s address that he realizes Seokjin has never been to his place. Seokjin’s apartment, though small and cluttered with figurines of Super Mario characters, was bright and clean and he even had citrus-scented candles that made it smell like summer. Seokjin is the kind of person who has a biweekly rotation of kitchen towels while Yoongi, by comparison, doesn’t even own more than one kitchen towel.

He cracks open a window just a touch, even though it’s cold as balls, to air out his apartment and make it smell less like one giant sock. He turns on all the lights and shoves things in closets and picks up the shards of the broken coffee mug from his kitchen floor. He wishes he had candles like Seokjin—never once in his life has he wished he’s owned a candle, so that’s sort of jarring—but he doesn’t. He just manages to clear off his wobbly, second-hand table before there’s a knock at his door.

The first thing Seokjin says when Yoongi opens the door is, “Hey, does the elevator always smell that bad?” and Yoongi can already feel some of his stress melt away. He trudges in, bundled up in a long overcoat and scarf, a bunch of canvas bags dangling off his arms. His face is rosy and there’s snow melting in his hair and he looks like a dream.

Yoongi helps unpack pork belly and vegetables and rice and spices from the bags—he even sets out these ridiculous duck-shaped salt and pepper shakers next to the stove.

“I can’t believe you brought your own salt and pepper. I’m not that hopeless.”

Seokjin gives him an unimpressed pout. “You said you had Poptarts and takeout. I came prepared for anything, thank you.”

He hands Yoongi a cutting board and a knife and asks him to do some light prep-work (“You’ll be fine,” he insists when Yoongi tries to bail out, claiming that he’s worried about chopping a finger off because of his bad luck today) and then goes about doing the more intensive preparations for stir-fry. He plays music from his phone and sings along—his voice matches his pretty face and Yoongi loves it—and shimmies around Yoongi’s cramped kitchen as if he’s been there a hundred times before. The sleeves of his black hoodie are pushed up to his elbows and after a while, Yoongi finds himself staring after Seokjin’s every move.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Seokjin asks as he stirs together a thick sauce in a pot.

Yoongi blinks hard. “Like what?”

“Like you want to kiss me.” There’s laughter in Seokjin’s voice, light and teasing, and Yoongi doesn’t know if he’s being serious. Yoongi feels his face start to burn, warmth high on his cheeks and creeping down his neck. He turns away quickly and stares pointedly at the pile of green onions he’s sliced on a bias—Seokjin had to show him what that meant first, demonstrating how to hold the knife at an angle—and he doesn’t know who he thinks he’s kidding. He’s wanted to kiss Seokjin for weeks, since the whole pie-induced fever dream, has been staring at his lips for months through the viewfinder of his camera. Of course he wants to kiss Seokjin.

“What if I did?” Yoongi asks, and it’s so quiet that the thudding of his pulse in his ears nearly drowns himself out.

“What if… Wait, what?” He’s loud, compared to Yoongi. The lightness is still there in his voice, though he doesn’t sound like he’s teasing anymore. Yoongi can feel Seokjin staring at him.

Yoongi squeezes his eyes shut for a moment. Everything about Seokjin has always felt easy, effortless. The awkwardness he feels now seems so out of place. He tells himself that it’s Seokjin, that everything will probably be fine eventually, and he steels himself. “What if I wanted to kiss you?” he asks, louder than before.

“I wouldn’t say no.” Seokjin’s voice is careful, each syllable enunciated slowly. Yoongi hears him put the mixing spoon down on the counter. “In fact, I’d definitely say yes.” Then he watches socked feet enter his field of vision, followed by the mind-boggling ratty jeans Seokjin seems to love, the ones that leave his knees totally bare and a disturbingly huge portion of his upper right thigh exposed. (Isn’t he cold?) With a gentle hand at his elbow, Seokjin turns him away from the stupid bias-cut onions. Yoongi keeps staring down at their feet, anxiously tapping his toes. “Can you look at me?”

Yoongi nearly snorts. “Probably not,” he deadpans. Nevertheless, he lifts his head, and honestly Seokjin is a little breathtaking, his eyes bright and smile brighter. The real question is who wouldn’t want to kiss Seokjin?  

“You’re blushing.”

“Shut up.”

“It’s really cute.”

“…Shut up.”

“Are you going to kiss me?”

Yoongi’s heart is in his throat, and he doesn’t think he can make any further noise right now without yelling incoherently, so he just barely nods. His hands dart out to cradle Seokjin’s face and pull him closer. He surges forward to kiss him hard. It’s a confident kiss, a million times more confident than he feels right now, but he thinks that’s probably on par with how the rest of this interaction has gone. Seokjin’s lips are warm, his face even warmer, and he’s spicy after continually testing the sauce, his mouth still tingly from the heat of the chili flakes. Yoongi would probably devour him if he could.

Seokjin kisses like he does anything else—thoroughly, eagerly—and everything Yoongi was possibly thinking about seconds before fades into background static. All he can focus on is the glossy slide of his mouth against Seokjin’s and the terribly gentle way that Seokjin tugs at Yoongi’s bottom lip with his teeth. It’s so, so nice until he feels Seokjin pull his hands away from his face. Yoongi’s thoughts crash back in around him and he opens his eyes because that feels strangely like a rejection and that doesn’t make any sense.

“Your hands are so cold,” Seokjin says under his breath, folding his hands around Yoongi’s. He nudges Yoongi’s nose with his own, and it’s so cute that Yoongi can’t help the smile that breaks over his face like the dawn.

“I’m nervous. I just kissed you.”

“I kissed you back.”

“I can’t fucking imagine why,” Yoongi jokes before he can stop himself.

But Seokjin’s nose scrunches and he bursts into his full-on windshield wiper laugh. “Because I think you’re kind of wonderful.”

***

Seokjin plates and even garnishes the stir-fry in Yoongi’s cheap bowls, and Yoongi’s mouth waters before he even has a fork in his hand. He hasn’t had anything homemade since…Seokjin made waffles a month back. They take their dinner to the couch and eat while watching some stupid game show, and Yoongi gets shots of him laughing around a mouthful of rice when a contestant gives a wildcard answer.

After dinner, after nearly physically fighting Seokjin over doing the dishes (“You’ve already done too much. You’re not allowed to do the dishes.”), Yoongi wants to kiss him more. He does. And Seokjin kisses him back, soft and spicy, running his hands through his hair and holding him close. But then Seokjin decides to be dumb and responsible and says that they should get some work done because kisses won’t count for their grades.

“Yeah, fine, I guess,” Yoongi grumbles and pulls out a pen and the book for his art history class. Seokjin pulls out his own book, drapes his legs over Yoongi’s lap, and it’s comfortable. Yoongi’s still rather awestruck that he kissed Seokjin, and he finds himself spending less time looking at his book and far more time glancing over its edge. He’s transfixed on the way Seokjin cradles the spine of his own book in his hands, occasionally wetting the pad of his index finger against his lip to turn the pages.

Seokjin, for all his height and broadness, has smaller hands than Yoongi. He knows this after Taehyung made them all compare the length of their fingers for the sole purpose of pinky-shaming Jimin. His fingers are thick, his nails are neat and squared off, and his joints are knotted. The tips of his thumbs bend back at an impossible-looking angle. Seokjin’s hands remind him of the oak trees he used climb as a kid on summer afternoons, the kinds with forked branches that steadied him so high off the ground and allowed him survey his surroundings like a king. They’re a little crooked, yes, but sturdy, strong, something to hold onto when he thinks he’s about to fall…

Yoongi picks up his camera again. He thinks about the girl he tried to use as a model a few semesters back, the one with the rings, and how all he wanted to do was photograph her hands like he wants to do with Seokjin right now. By association, he thinks very briefly about her lingerie. Very briefly. Black satin. Seokjin doesn’t seem like a black satin kind of person. More like…white lace. There's a split-second image of pale lacework against Seokjin’s skin, and that’s a thought for another day. He takes a photograph of his hands holding his book, and the sudden sound of the shutter makes Seokjin jump.

“The money maker’s up here, you know,” he says, gesturing to his face.

“I know.”

Seokjin reaches out to touch Yoongi’s own face, just a gentle sweep of his thumb under his lips, and it’s disgustingly affectionate and personal and Yoongi thinks he might melt into a puddle. He tilts his head and kisses Seokjin’s wrist and then goes back to his book, far more pleased with himself than he thinks should be possible.

***

The week before finals week, when they should both be working their asses off, Yoongi finds himself in his own bed at two o’clock in the afternoon, after his morning class but before his night class, with Seokjin sprawled out next to him. For the better part of the last half hour or so, his tongue has mostly been in Seokjin’s mouth, and his hands have started wandering.

They’ve mostly kept their hands to themselves at this point. Mainly cuddling and some hand-holding and the occasional playful smack on the ass. Sometimes they make out and slide hands up each other’s shirts, testing new waters and new boundaries, but it’s been slow. Yoongi doesn’t really know what’s allowed or what Seokjin wants from him, but he doesn’t mind. Sometimes Yoongi thinks he’d go out of his way to serve the entire universe on a golden plate to Seokjin if he asked him too. But he hasn’t. Hasn’t asked for much more than to be the little spoon every now and then.

Today, though, Yoongi just wants to touch everywhere. He does, tentatively, slipping a hand up his sweater and tracing light circles around one of Seokjin’s nipples, relishing the way Seokjin bites his lip in response. Then he drifts downward over the soft, flat plane of his stomach. He hesitates at the waistband of his jeans. Seokjin tightens his grip on the back of Yoongi’s neck and nods into their kiss.

He trails his hand down the outside of his thigh and back up the inside, following the inseam of his jeans upwards and finding that Seokjin is already hard, and fuck. He did that. He alternates between dragging his nails, his knuckles, and the palm of his hand over the swell in Seokjin’s pants. Sometimes Seokjin shudders out a breathless sigh or a slow gasp between kisses, and Yoongi wants to keep him this way forever: plush, pliant, and flushed pink. He spends a very long time like this, kissing Seokjin deep and slow, tracing his tongue over his teeth, softly petting over the front of his jeans.

Once, he gives a gentle squeeze and feels just how hard Seokjin is—how hard he’s been for the last god-knows-how-long. Many minutes at this point. Then Seokjin breaks away from Yoongi’s mouth and buries his face in his shoulder. “No more teasing. I need more, please, god, Yoongi,” he says, his breath forced and crashing like a waterfall. He presses a sloppy kiss to the side of Yoongi’s neck, swiping his tongue beneath his ear. Yoongi shivers.

“What do you want?” he asks, and he’s shocked to find that he feels as breathless as Seokjin sounds.

“Whatever you want to give. Just—anything.” One of Seokjin’s hands comes down on top of Yoongi’s, holds it firmly against himself. He exhales hard through his nose and groans into Yoongi’s skin.

Yoongi heaves himself up onto all fours, wedging one knee between Seokjin’s legs, because god, he wants to suck him off. He’s about to move the other knee, but before he can do so, both of Seokjin’s hands sneak around his waist to grab his ass, holding him down. Yoongi feels Seokjin’s cock pressing into his thigh, and he’s sure Seokjin can feel him, too. Seokjin grinds up into Yoongi’s hip and guides him until they’re rutting against each other, the bedframe squeaking in protest.

Yoongi almost laughs. The last time he did this—desperately dry-humping, fully clothed—was when he was fifteen, and then he had come in his pants. His laugh dies before it has a chance to manifest, for Seokjin takes a hand away from where it’s gripping his ass and finds one of Yoongi’s own fisted in the sheets beside Seokjin’s head. He pries it away, and Yoongi expects something sweet and sentimental—it wouldn’t surprise Yoongi if he kissed the back of his hand like the damned prince he is—but instead Seokjin guides two fingers into his mouth and moans around them.

“Holy shit,” Yoongi says, watching his fingers sink knuckle-deep into his mouth. Seokjin is nothing short of magnificent underneath him, with his rosy-pink lips, shiny with spit, and the way he keeps grinding up into Yoongi’s hip. Yoongi lets him slide his tongue between his fingers for a minute, but he doesn’t want to come like this, not like some gross, horny teenager, and he doesn’t want Seokjin to come like this either. He slows his hips, pulls his fingers from his mouth, and kisses him hard.

“Is this okay?” he asks, pointedly fiddling with the button of Seokjin’s pants.

Yes,” Seokjin breathes, exasperated. “It’s been okay for ages, come on.” Yoongi nods quickly, pops the button, and yanks down the zipper, dragging his hand with great purpose over the swell of Seokjin’s jeans.

He works on peeling off Seokjin’s pants and boxer-briefs—the latter of which are a cotton-candy pink, because of course Seokjin is able to find pink underwear—and there’s some awkward fumbling. Long legs, tight pants, this boy writhing beneath him—it all makes his job quite difficult. But it’s the good kind of awkward, giddy and delightful and Yoongi feels drunk on him already.

Once he tosses the jeans and the unbelievable underwear to the floor, he moves to finally settle properly between Seokjin’s thighs. Seokjin spreads his legs, inviting him closer, and there’s a flash of a thought in Yoongi’s head that wishes he could take his photograph just like this. Everything about Seokjin is so soft—the smooth skin of his inner thighs, the downy grey sweater rucked halfway up his ribcage, his tousled hair. Everything, of course, except his cock, which is full and heavy against his stomach and dripping precome. He doesn’t know what he’d do with a photograph like that, other than use it to jack off for the rest of eternity, but it’s the principle of the thing: he wants to see this always.

Yoongi leans down, gently bites Seokjin’s thigh, and sucks on the spot just long enough for a faint purple mark to bloom. Seokjin sighs above him, and he’s going to have to come back to this later. He wants to mark up his thighs, wants Seokjin to see evidence of him on his skin for days after, but right now, he’s worried that one or both of them will combust if he doesn’t get his mouth on Seokjin's cock.

There’s little more preamble as he kisses a line from the small mark on his thigh straight to the base. He kisses there, too, and then slides the tip of his tongue up his length, tracing the thick vein along its underside. He gives a series of short licks to the slit—at which Seokjin whines—and then sinks his mouth down around him.

The weight of Seokjin in his mouth is delicious, and he loves the way his cock twitches against his lips. Loves feeling the way his body responds. And god, Seokjin is loud. Yoongi doesn’t know why this surprises him, since Seokjin’s entire personality is loud, but he’s still somehow not prepared for the shameless moaning or the throaty “so good, fuck, you’re so good” that spill from his mouth. He feels himself throb against the zipper of his own pants. At this rate, Yoongi thinks, Seokjin’s not even going to have to touch him to get him to come.

Seokjin’s legs start trembling, and he slides a hand into Yoongi’s hair, brushing it back from his face and tugging gently. Yoongi pulls away just enough to glance up at the beautiful mess of a man in his bed—tightly-shut eyes, bitten lips, heaving chest—and then takes him as far into his mouth as he can. He sputters a bit as Seokjin’s cock hits the back of his throat, and slows down for just a second, trying to relax, before redoubling his efforts. He hollows out his cheeks and makes it a point to work himself down until his nose meets Seokjin’s belly. He’s a little messy, but it’s not like he’s getting any complaints. He adds one hand to the mix, moving in time with the bob of his head.

Not long after, the fingers in his hair tighten into a fist, a warning.

“Fuck, make me come,” Seokjin says, voice heavy, and it only takes a few more moments of Yoongi working his mouth around Seokjin’s cock before he’s pulled off so quickly that his neck cracks. The way Seokjin shivers and moans out Yoongi’s name is hypnotic. His chest arches up and he comes all over his own stomach while Yoongi strokes him. And this is a good look on Seokjin, warm and radiant and blissed out, and Jesus, Yoongi’s so turned on that he’s barely remembering to breathe.

Seokjin recovers, softly panting for a moment before reaching blindly to the nightstand for a tissue, eventually finding one and wiping himself off just enough so he doesn’t totally ruin the sweater he never got around to taking off. At the same time, Yoongi sits back frantically, nearly falling off the bed in the process as he shoves his own pants down to his knees and finally wraps a hand around himself. He doesn’t love doing this dry, but his skin is crawling and even the first dragging stroke makes him shudder.

“What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Yoongi grits out as he runs his thumb over the head of his cock to spread precome down his length. He hisses through his teeth as Seokjin crawls over to him and stops his hand.

“Did you really think I wasn’t going to take care of you, too?” Seokjin asks, leaning in to kiss him again, nearly all tongue. He smiles against Yoongi’s mouth. “I’m a little offended.”

“Offended, my ass.”

“Your ass, my ass. I’m fine with either.” He giggles—fucking giggles—when Yoongi blanches. He starts to walk himself backwards on his hands and knees. He kisses the junction of Yoongi’s hip, but he keeps moving back until he slides off the bed, kneeling on the floor. “Come here,” he says. He pulls Yoongi’s pants all the way off and guides him forward. Yoongi props himself up on his elbows, staring down his own chest at the glassy-eyed, open-mouthed face between his thighs.

Seokjin lightly palms at his balls and just barely ghosts his mouth up the length of his cock, breath hot against his skin. Yoongi lets out a shuddery “oh” and lets his eyes flutter shut. Seokjin wraps a hand around him, working with deliberate flicks of his wrist, and Yoongi can’t even find it in himself to care that it’s currently just a mostly-dry handjob. The way Seokjin tightens his fist on the upstroke is just so good and he’s been close for a long time now anyway.

“Can you look at me?” Seokjin says, and he almost sounds shy, but not quite. Once Yoongi manages to meet his gaze, Seokjin so gently angles his cock toward his mouth, staring up at him with a teasing look. Yoongi expects wet, expects warm, but what he gets instead is the sight of Seokjin sliding the tip of his cock over the seam of his mouth, back and forth, back and forth, smearing precome on his full lips.

It’s just too much. All of it. Seokjin’s fingers working insistently over his length, the slow, smooth glide over his soft, soft lips, the way his bedroom already smells heavy and hot. “Shit, I’m gonna come,” he stammers. He’d be more embarrassed if it weren’t for the fact that he’s going to have a lot of time to make up for it.

He watches Seokjin raise an eyebrow and then open his mouth to lick once over his cock with the flat of his tongue, and that’s it. Yoongi’s head falls back as he comes with a low groan, his hips stuttering up involuntarily. And good lord, it’s been so long since he’s gotten so much out of so little.

A few seconds later, Seokjin’s shocked voice floats into his head, even though it sounds like he’s far away: “I didn’t think you were being serious.” It takes a moment before Yoongi can regain his bearings and lift his head back up. “I wasn’t…done with you.”

Yoongi’s eyes swim for a moment, but then he focuses on Seokjin again. “Jesus, fuck, fuck, I am so sorry,” Yoongi rushes out. Seokjin’s face is redder than he’s ever seen it. His eyes are wide, blinking quickly, and holy shit. Holy. Shit. There’s his own fucking come streaking across the left side of Seokjin’s face, arcing in dripping white lines over his cheekbones and slowly trickling down to his jaw. It’s at the corner of his mouth, too, shining on his lips, and god, in his hair. He fumbles around for more tissues, pulling half a dozen of them out of the box while apologies tumble from his mouth, but Seokjin dodges his attempts to clean him up.

“Hold on,” he says, having the decency to look demure for just a second before he gives a coquettish tilt of his head that better puts his come-smeared cheek on display. “Get your camera.”

“My camera,” Yoongi repeats flatly.

“You like taking pictures of me with a mess on my face,” Seokjin says, and it’s astounding how he still has the drive to sound sultry even after everything else. How he’s managing to look completely reverent on his knees in front of Yoongi yet entirely blasphemous with come splattered on his skin. “Unless, of course, you want to stick to your ‘safe for work’ rule,” he teases.

“Fuck,” Yoongi says.

Yoongi’s camera is in his bag, which is on the couch in the living room, which has several large windows with open blinds. He thinks very briefly about putting pants on, or at least his underwear, but there isn’t much time before the mess on Seokjin’s face begins to dry, and that’s super gross. Thus, he risks running out of his room bare-assed, holding the hem of his baggy t-shirt down in front.

He has a small heart attack when he catches a glance of a pair of shoes by the front door that aren’t his—Taehyung has a habit of sneaking into his apartment and just sitting silently on his couch and mooching off his surprisingly non-shitty Wi-Fi, and nope, that is absolutely, one-hundred-percent not a thing he can deal with right now—until he remembers, belatedly, that those are Seokjin’s. He checks to make sure the front door is dead-bolted. Just in case.

He grabs his camera and hurries back into his room where Seokjin has already arranged himself—also still pantsless—on the floor, underneath the room’s only window. The blinds are opened just a touch so that thin bars of the late afternoon sun peek into the room. Seokjin is gold-spangled with light, come still glistening and wet on his face. “You are too much,” Yoongi says fondly as he kneels down and takes the first shot.

Yoongi decided long ago that Seokjin looks good in every light, but this—wow? There’s a wild juxtaposition between the innocence and warmth of the soft sunlight and the obscene evidence of Yoongi’s orgasm on his face, and it’s mesmerizing. Seokjin closes his eyes and lets his mouth part slightly. A number of shots later, with different angles and different expressions, Yoongi can’t help but reach out. He trails one finger through the mess along Seokjin’s jaw. After a moment of silent debate, he gently pushes his finger into Seokjin’s mouth and drags it along his tongue. Seokjin sighs and closes his mouth tight around his finger. His lips make a small, slick, popping sound when Yoongi takes his hand away in order to kiss him instead.

It’s not the first time Yoongi’s tasted himself, of course, but it’s different. It’s his own bitterness with the taste of Seokjin’s mouth, and it makes him shiver. Or maybe he shivers because he’s still not wearing pants. Who knows? He takes one more photograph and then sets the camera down. “Come on. Let’s get you cleaned up.” He stands up on still-shaky legs and extends a hand to help Seokjin.

“Wow, what a gentleman,” Seokjin jokes as they head toward the bathroom.

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “I’m heartless, not inconsiderate.”

“Keep telling yourself that, Yoongi-chi.”

“What?”

“That you’re heartless. It’s the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.”

***

“Hey, Yoongi, who teaches the pro-seminar for Methodology of Microeconomics?” Taehyung asks as they walk between classes together.

“I took that class like three semesters ago. I don’t even remember at this point. Why do you—wait.”

Yoongi can all but feel the blood drain from his face. He reaches out to grab Taehyung’s shoulder, but he makes a break for it, sprinting down the street ahead of him and laughing manically. Yoongi watches in mild horror as Taehyung slips on ice and nearly face plants into the road. One of these days, if Taehyung doesn’t accidentally get himself killed, Yoongi is probably going to kill him.

Underneath Yoongi’s nightstand is an old folder labeled in black Sharpie, “Methodology Micro / Wed 1:00.” It used to contain his syllabus and graded exams for that class. It no longer contains any of those things. It now contains photographs. The handful of photographs of Seokjin with come dripping down his face, for example. And about a dozen photos of Seokjin mostly undressed, draped like pearls on Yoongi’s couch, of which Yoongi can easily put into chronological order based on how hard Seokjin is.

(That particular instance had started with Seokjin in a loose lavender cardigan, fluffy and unbuttoned, and tight, black briefs. Yoongi had gotten home from class one day and there he was, effortlessly sensual and waiting. “If you say ‘draw me like one of your French girls’ I might actually disown you,” Yoongi had warned, his mouth dry, as he got out his camera. And it had ended with his cock down Seokjin’s throat, his tongue in Seokjin’s ass, and come on his couch cushions.)

There’s one extra photograph in the mix too, taken from a telling angle from below. Seokjin’s looking directly down into the camera. His forehead is glossed with sweat, his eyes are dark and wild behind his round-rimmed glasses, and his mouth is parted with heavy breaths. Yoongi remembers the weight of Seokjin’s hands braced hard on his chest as Seokjin fucked himself down onto his cock. He remembers Seokjin promising that he’d come untouched. He remembers fumbling for the forgotten camera and pointing it at his face, getting a single shot before they both began to unravel.

“Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know, but I think Taehyung somehow found some of our pictures,” he says as Seokjin unlocks the door to his apartment, dropping his voice to a pained hush as he emphasizes the last word. They kick off their shoes and Yoongi hangs his jacket up on one of the hooks (his own hook) behind the front door, and it feels so familiar.

Seokjin shrugs. “Good.”

“What do you mean, good? Those pictures are like half a step away from porn. Of you.”

“This,” Seokjin says, waving his hand vaguely up and down his body, “is meant to be appreciated. I’m a work of art.”

“Of course you are,” Yoongi says, his voice softening. He unpacks his laptop onto Seokjin’s horrifically lumpy couch and rolls his eyes when he notices that the Pichu from the Blue House claw machine, which lives on the arm of the couch like a pet, is wearing one of Yoongi’s dirty socks on its right ear. “But Taehyung’s not admitted to this particular gallery, sorry.”

Seokjin laughs at the joke and Yoongi’s pride (stupidly) soars. “If he’s so nosy, why don’t we send him something to sate his curiosity?”

“You…you want to sext Taehyung?”

“Okay, well, no. When you put it that way, it’s weird.” He pauses, a coy smirk working at one corner of his mouth. “At least let me send him a picture of me deep-throating a banana.”

“Do not.”

***

It’s late spring term. Seokjin insists on heading down to the nature preserve one Saturday because the weather is finally nice again and the flowers are starting to bloom. This semester, they see each other almost every day, for his extended Eat Jin project and sex but also for class—Seokjin managed to wrangle him into a children’s literature class with him, even though the class is at nine in the morning and Yoongi would rather not exist as a person at nine in the morning, but oh well.

Seokjin sets out a blanket in the grass and flops over on to his stomach. “This is a Seokjin,” he says, pointing at the yellow wildflowers around them. “And this,” he says while poking at his own face, “is a flower.” He rolls over on his back and makes a face for Yoongi to take a picture.

Yoongi just hums in agreement and lets the sun wash over him. It feels nice on his skin and looks even better in Seokjin’s soft brown hair. Seokjin yawns and closes his eyes, looking ready for a nap. Yoongi wants to snuggle up with him and pass out with the weight of Seokjin around him, but he wants to take more photographs first.

“Hey. Have you ever been in love?” Seokjin asks between the clicks of the shutter.

Yoongi’s breath catches in in throat, and some weird wave of déjà vu washes over him. Didn’t they talk about this already? Did he dream it? He could have sworn…? This is strange. He’s not sure. But there’s one thing he’s sure of, and the butterflies in his stomach beat their fluttery wings in time with his heart.

“Yeah. Twice.”

Seokjin’s eyebrows shoot up in interest, but his eyes remain closed. “Oh?”

Yoongi snaps a handful of photos as a gust of wind comes and sweeps Seokjin’s bangs up into a messy pompadour. “Once with photography. Once with you.”

And Yoongi wants to thank every god he can think of that he is standing over Seokjin at this very moment, his camera at the ready. Seokjin’s eyes go wide, almost comically so, and his jaw drops in surprise. Then he’s positively beaming, his entire face bright and brimming with the magnificence of an orchestral movement, a hundred perfect spring days, the whole solar system. With promises. Yoongi gets it all.

What he can’t get on film, though, is the swell in his chest that makes his ribs ache in the sweetest way, and the way he kneels in the soft grass when Seokjin reaches up to him with his ridiculous sweater paws, and the press of Seokjin’s warm lips against his, or the bubbling sound of Seokjin’s voice as he says, “I’m in love with you, too.” That’s all a bit of a shame, that he can’t keep this whole moment on film and come back to it again and again and again.

But he is glad his camera can’t capture the first thing he thinks to say in response, which is a dumbfounded, reverent, “Really?”

“Don’t act like you didn’t know, Yoongi-chi.”

Maybe Yoongi did know. But it’s nice to hear all the same.

***

In April, his photography professor encourages (actually, she has to resort to bribing, but whatever) Yoongi to participate in the art show at the end of the semester. Yoongi was reluctant, but Seokjin was ecstatic when he told him. So Yoongi’s spending his Friday night in the art building, wearing a stifling button-down, with two dozen other students with projects on display. He’s got his five best Eat Jin shots hung up on a wall.

He’s got the chicken wing one, of course, the one that started it all. There’s one of Seokjin eating a piece of disgustingly greasy sausage pizza, where there’s a good foot and a half of oozing cheese stretching from his mouth to the rest of the slice in his hand. In another one, he looks posh as all hell in his big sunglasses, lips wrapped around the straw of his watermelon bubble tea, black tapioca pearls lining up toward his mouth as he drinks. There’s one where he’s got noodles hanging from his mouth and off of his fork, cream sauce sliding down his chin. And one of Yoongi’s personal favorites, the chocolate-covered strawberries, where Seokjin is ineffectively trying to lick chocolate away from the side of his mouth, his tongue glistening and his eyes sparkling.

Taehyung brings Jimin, of course (and both of them are far better dressed than anyone else in the building, for whatever reason, both wearing something straight out of a Gucci ad). Hoseok’s there too, telling him how proud he is over and over again, and Namjoon shows up only twenty minutes late. Seokjin drags Jeongguk along and kisses Yoongi first thing. Truth be told, Yoongi is a little flustered by all the support. He’s not really used to the limelight like this.

Namjoon and Hoseok chat with Seokjin and meander around to other exhibits while Yoongi stands next to his work and stammers his way through answers when people come up to him. He doesn’t know how to answer these questions. What is he supposed to say when the head of the art department comes up and asks where he found his inspiration? “My model-slash-best-friend was being a lovesick shit so I had to find a new model and my new-model-slash-boyfriend really loves food?” No. “I was eating chicken wings with the most beautiful man on the planet when I noticed a smear of sauce on his face that looked like calligraphy?” Hell no. He ends up answering simply, “Sometimes art is messy,” and that’s good enough for him.

During a moment of downtime, he notices Jeongguk snickering in a huddle with Taehyung and Jimin, and they beckon Seokjin over. Namjoon and Hoseok follow, and Yoongi gravitates to them, too.

Jeongguk says something that Yoongi doesn’t catch, but Seokjin explodes into an outraged squawk. “Be quiet, you tasteless fools!” he nearly yells, his ears turning bright, bright red. Hoseok is on the floor cackling, and Jimin looks seconds away from joining him there. Seokjin flicks Jeongguk on the forehead and loudly shushes the lot of them when they all burst out into obnoxious, screeching laughter.

“What’s the matter?” Yoongi asks. He reaches out, resting a hand on Seokjin’s hip.

“These losers,” Seokjin starts—and for a second he really looks mad, but there’s a certain set to his eyebrows that tells Yoongi he’s acting—“say they’re sick of looking at my face, and they wish you had chosen a different subject. Can you believe that?”

“I like your face just fine, babe. It’s a nice face.”

“Gross,” Namjoon teases. “Are you going soft on us, Min Yoongi?”

Yoongi doesn’t get to retaliate because Seokjin’s stomach rumbles, loud enough for everyone to hear—and subsequently send them into another fit of giggles. Seokjin gazes longingly at the enormous forkful of pasta carbonara in one of the photos and says, “I’m probably going to die of hunger.”

“I watched you eat a burrito less than two hours ago,” Yoongi deadpans. “I have photographic evidence. I think you’ll be okay.”

“You can’t know that.”

Taehyung butts in. “We should all go to Blue House!” he says, eyes hopeful. “To celebrate the art show!”

All seven of them end up smushed into a corner of the diner that night. Yoongi is squeezed between Seokjin and Jimin and it all feels right. At some point in the evening Jeongguk steals Yoongi’s camera, and for the first time in a long time Yoongi has photographs of himself. Looking through the photos later that night, in Seokjin’s bed, they mutually decide that their favorite one is a candid, one where he’s holding a bite of his favorite lemon curd pie up to Seokjin’s open mouth. Yoongi’s laughing, and he’s got a lip-shaped smudge of blueberry syrup on his cheek. It’s impossibly sweet, and he can all but feel the cavities forming when he looks at it. But it’s a good photo. Because pie and love make for good photos.