When Jungkook is fourteen, he feels everything a hundred-fold. His auditions make him so anxious it’s a physical pain in his chest, and he blinks so rapidly and nervously that the girl who auditions with him snickers when he glances at her.
He tries not to vomit.
Kim Namjoon is almost god-like to the young boy. He’s only a few years older than Jungkook, but he just seems so confident, and Jungkook has a hard time not feeling awkward in his presence.
“You okay, kid?” Namjoon asks, lounging back in one of the shitty, busted office chairs that Bang Shihyuk has donated to their little office. Normally it’s Namjoon and Yoongi in here, but Jungkook has been encouraged to join in production, to get a feel for what they do. At the moment, he’s wedged himself into the corner of the room while Yoongi and Namjoon try to teach Hoseok about rap flows. When Namjoon’s eyes find his, there’s a warm fondness there, and Jungkook is (not for the first time) relieved he had chosen BigHit.
He nods rapidly. “I’m fine,” he mumbles, twisting his fingers nervously around themselves. Namjoon tracks the movement.
Patting the stool next to him, Namjoon says, “Hey, c’mon. You might as well learn too.”
Jungkook shakes his head. “Nah, I’m not-- I can’t rap, hyung.”
Yoongi rolls his eyes, clearly listening. “Just sit down, you punk,” he grouses, and Hoseok echoes the sentiment.
When he perches uncomfortably on the edge of the stool, Hoseok ruffles his hair. “Hey, we can learn together,” he says with a smile, pencil in hand. Jungkook finds everything a little easier after that.
Going to America with Seongdeuk is terrifying. Jungkook feels like he’s been set back by a year. Everyone dances better than him, everyone can speak English better than him, and it fucking sucks.
“C’mon Jungkook, get up,” Seongdeuk says, shaking him awake. The dance studio is nearly empty, only a few of the younger members of the troupe still leisurely warming down as they chat, a low hum that Jungkook can’t understand. He rubs his eyes, grunting as he pushes himself up. He’s been speaking less and less, his voice breaking embarrassingly as puberty makes itself known.
Seongdeuk turns back to his own gym bag, packing up his stuff as Jungkook reorients himself. One of the other young boys from the class looks up, meets his eyes, smiles hesitantly.
Jungkook smiles back, grateful for the small kindness, but freaks out a little when the boy wanders away from his group to where Jungkook is sat on his own. “Hello,” the boy says in Korean. He’s one of the many American Asians in the class, and Jungkook is pretty certain he doesn’t speak Korean fluently.
“Hey,” he replies awkwardly in English, and the boy’s smile widens in encouragement.
“I’m Daniel,” the boy introduces himself in English. He holds his hand out to shake and Jungkook takes it, Daniel hoisting him up so they’re both standing.
Before Jungkook can say anything else, he catches Seongdeuk looking at him speculatively.
“I’m going back to the hostel, so go have fun with your friend,” his instructor says, eyes darting between Jungkook and Daniel. “Be back for dinner, yeah?”
And then he’s out of the room, and Daniel smiles and points to himself, repeating chingu? in Korean like it’s a question. Jungkook shrugs helplessly, not able to translate, but that doesn’t seem to bother Daniel. He pats Jungkook on the shoulder, and gestures to the door.
“Wanna go outside?” he asks. “Go to the beach?”
“Beach?” Jungkook repeats, momentarily rifling through his mental vocabulary for the correct translation.
Luckily, Daniel’s parents seem to have taught him enough that he’s able to repeat the word in Korean, much to Jungkook’s relief. He nods once he understands, and hefts his bag onto his shoulder.
Daniel holds the door open for him as they leave, shouting a goodbye to his friends, and Jungkook thinks that maybe America isn’t so bad after all.
“You got a girlfriend?” Daniel asks in a mixture of Korean and English, just so Jungkook understands. Ever since he had approached Jungkook, it’s clear he’s been making an effort to learn more Korean from his parents, and after each class the two of them are able to have better, more fluent conversations in a mix of the two languages. Some of the other dancers look confused when they speak, but Jungkook is finding himself less and less worried about what the others think of him.
“A girlfriend?” Jungkook echoes, licking his ice cream as they sit on a small patch of unclaimed grass along Venice Beach. Busty girls in bikinis roller-blade by their spot while a group of guys play soccer on the sand. The sun hangs low in the sky, everything washed with an orange glow.
Daniel follows Jungkook’s line of sight until he sees the petite girl who’s walking along the strip with a few of her friends, much smaller and thinner than the rest of them.
“If you don’t,” Daniel continues casually, “you could always try and get one here. Gotta have the full American experience, man. I’m told I make a good wingman.” He grins at the way Jungkook blushes and stutters, looking away from the girl and knowing he’s been caught out. Daniel is only a little older than Jungkook, but his American upbringing makes him so much more experienced in Jungkook’s eyes, and he’ll admit he’s a little bit in awe of the other boy.
He shakes his head, his shaggy hair falling in his eyes. “No, no,” he says shyly in English. “I can’t.”
“Oh yeah,” Daniel muses, crunching on the last of his wafer cone and resting his chin on his hand. “You’re gonna be a pop idol, right?”
Jungkook doesn’t answer the question, just smiles tightly. “I can’t,” he repeats, and he doesn’t look at any other girls for the rest of the evening.
Being back in Korea feels a lot more like relief than Jungkook thought it would. The air smells familiar, and returning to the dorm fills him with fondness. Hoseok meets him with a grin and a yell, swinging his arms around Jungkook’s neck. The sound draws Taehyung from his room, and he gasps in surprise when he sees Jungkook. “You’ve grown up a lot, huh?” he says, Daegu accent just as thick as before Jungkook left.
He shrugs bashfully, but before he can reply, Taehyung is spinning around, yelling back into his room, “Hey Jiminnie, get out here and meet Jungkook!”
Jungkook cocks his head at that. Who’s--
A small, chubby boy shuffles out of the room, dressed only in a white tank top and basketball shorts, his hair pushed back with a snapback. He looks over at Jungkook with a hesitant grin, and waves. “Hey, I’m Park Jimin. From, uh, from Busan. I dance.” The words are stilted and awkward, and he looks over to Taehyung for help.
“Jimin-sshi here is joining the group,” Taehyung fills in with a flourish, shuffling Jimin closer to Jungkook, and Jungkook’s surprised to find they’re the same height. “He just transferred into my class at school.”
Jimin doesn’t seem like a troublemaker, almost as shy as Jungkook, and the thought helps ease the tension in Jungkook’s shoulders.
“It’s nice to meet you, Jimin-sshi. Uh, can I call you hyung?”
Debut is difficult for Jungkook. He can’t help retreating into himself little by little, only ever really feeling comfortable around the members. Surprisingly, Jimin becomes a constant source of comfort to him, always seemingly around, ready to lend an ear or to nod in understanding when Jungkook worries and complains.
The hours of sleep Jungkook gets dwindle dramatically, and he finds himself up at the oddest times, actually online to answer Daniel’s messages when he sends them.
The latest is a picture of him and his new girlfriend, a beautiful redhead with freckles that dot her skin like constellations. They’re posing with a group, some of whom Jungkook recognises from the old dance troupe.
He logs into his messenger app to reply.
[Jungkook]: !!! you guys look good :)
[Daniel]: thx man. check out miranda (on the left). she’s ur type, right? ;)
Jungkook scrolls back up and zooms in, searching for this ‘Miranda’. The girl on the far left is small, her waist so slight that Jungkook thinks that he could fit his hands all the way around, and his mouth dries. But before he can write out a reply, Jimin pokes his head into the living room, where Jungkook has sequestered himself.
“What’re you still doing up?” Jimin asks, voice husky with sleep. He shuffles into Jungkook’s space and collapses down beside him, and Jungkook can feel the warmth leeching from his arm.
He locks his phone quickly, not sure why he’s so embarrassed. He’s heard the other guys talk about girls, and jerking off, and all that stuff. It’s kind of hard to avoid it when living in a dorm with seven boys. “Can’t sleep,” he mumbles, and Jimin hums in understanding.
“C’mon,” he says, his eyes still mostly closed, pushing himself up and dragging Jungkook with him. Once they’re in the bedroom, Taehyung and Hoseok’s heavy breathing filling the room, Jimin hustles him over to his bed, a ratty old mattress that doesn’t even have a bedcover on it. He follows Jungkook under the sheets, and pats him on the shoulder. “Sleep now,” he murmurs, already drifting off himself. “Hard day tomorrow.”
Jungkook tries, but every time he closes his eyes, he sees that girl Miranda, with her tiny waist, and those slight shoulders, and tucks his hands between the crease in his thighs as he tries very hard not to get a boner in Jimin’s bed. That would be awkward.
Over the next year or so, Jungkook has a few fumbling attempts at relationships, and the closest he gets to a serious girlfriend is an ex-trainee, a friend of a friend who understands his busy schedule. She’s small, with big eyes and pouty lips, and he hears Daniel’s voice in his head teasing him about his ‘type’. That voice is joined by Hoseok’s and Taehyung’s, and the rest of the group get in on the gentle, good-natured ribbing.
Namjoon tends to date girls that are like him, cool and confident, and Yoongi seems to favor girls with tattoos and an attitude problem. More than once does his ex cause their managers a headache when she fails to be discreet about their relationship, Yoongi eventually breaking up with her because she’s turning out to be more trouble than she’s worth.
Jimin keeps to himself for the most part, and Jungkook wonders sometimes if he’s dating, and for a while he thinks he’s pretty sure he is, but then he stops going out to much, spending all of his spare time either at the dorm or, on the rare occasion, at home in Busan. Once he even goes to Daegu with Taehyung to visit his family.
Jimin becomes something safe for Jungkook. He’s never judges, and there’s almost a maternal air to him, making Jungkook calm whenever he feels those small hands smooth his hair back, or those arms hug him tight around the waist. His soft voice soothes Jungkook, and he’s glad that Jimin is their seventh member. He feels special when he feels Jimin’s careful gaze on him, a little more confident in himself.
Jungkook coughs quietly as he toes off his shoes. There’s the glow of halogen lights in the dorm despite the late hour, and he supposes that Namjoon and Yoongi must have just come back from the studio.
But when he glances into the living room, it’s Namjoon and Jimin he sees. He’s surprised Jimin’s not already asleep. He’d seemed worn down when he had left dance practice a little earlier than Jungkook and Hoseok, promising to leave Jungkook a treat on the kitchen table for when he came home. Jungkook pulls out his phone and checks it-- it’s just past midnight now.
Before he can make himself known, he overhears Namjoon curse. It makes him jolt, and he’s suddenly grateful for the shadow in the hallway, keeping him hidden. He takes note of the way Jimin has his head down, chin tucked to his chest. His face is a ruddy red color, and his hands are clenched into small fists.
“Fuck, Jimin,” Namjoon says roughly, collapsing down onto the sofa and looking at where Jimin stands, stock-still. “You realize how difficult you’re making this, right?”
Jungkook wonders what the fuck is going on, but even as his thoughts race, he catches Jimin’s next words: “It won’t be a problem hyung. I won’t-- He won’t find out.”
Running a frustrated hand through his dyed gray hair, Namjoon slants a hard glance at Jimin, looking him up and down. “You don’t plan on telling him.” It’s not a question.
Jimin lets out a bitter laugh. “No hyung, I wasn’t ever gonna tell him, or anyone, I swear. If you don’t mind me saying, I’m a little embarrassed that you even noticed.”
And just like that, all of the tension that had held Namjoon’s body rigid flows out of him, leaving him looking haggard, and much older than his years.
“Jesus,” Namjoon breathes, running a hand over his face. Both he and Jungkook seem to notice the way Jimin tries to blink back the tears in his eyes. “C’mere,” he says softly, beckoning Jimin onto his lap. Without a fight, Jimin goes, curling up into a ball against Namjoon’s chest, his chest hitching with little hiccupping breaths. In that moment, Jungkook finds himself just a little bit mesmerized by the contrast between the two of them. While he and Jimin are pretty much the same height (although from the ache in Jungkook’s bones, he doesn’t think that’ll be the case for much longer), Namjoon is so much bigger, and it’s never been more obvious to Jungkook than in that moment, the way Namjoon’s hands seem to span the length of Jimin’s back with ease.
Without letting them know he’s home, Jungkook slips into Yoongi and Seokjin’s room, and finds Yoongi still up on his laptop.
“Can’t sleep?” Yoongi asks, pulling his headphones away from his ears.
Jungkook swallows drily, pulling off his jacket and settling himself at the foot of Yoongi’s bed. “Yeah, something like that.”
For a while afterwards, things don’t seem to sit right for Jungkook. There’s whole days where Jimin doesn’t speak to him, doesn’t seem to pay him any attention. He spends much more time with Namjoon and Taehyung, letting them lead him from schedule to schedule, Taehyung doting on his friend with a zeal that borders on obsessive.
When Jungkook corners Taehyung and asks him about it, the older boy can only shrug helplessly. “He’s just so cute and small,” Taehyung says with a soft smile. “How can you not spoil him?”
Jungkook frowns at that. Jimin is far from small and cute. He works out more than Jungkook does, for Christ’s sake. Except.
Recently, Jimin has been avoiding the gym, and maybe that has something to do with his avoiding Jungkook, because Jungkook’s been spending a lot of time there lately. The Danger choreography is hard, and he’s been trying to build up muscle for their comeback.
From the look Taehyung gives Jungkook, he can clearly see the younger’s confusion. “Don’t be jealous he’s not hanging out with you so much,” he says, not meaning any harm, but it makes Jungkook’s mouth pull down in a severe frown. “He’s just working through some of his own stuff at the moment, and it’s fucking with his head I think.”
He tries to pat Jungkook on the shoulder, but the action infuriates him for some inexplicable reason, so he jerks back. “Whatever,” he mutters, stalking away.
Weeks later, he corners Jimin after dance practice, a small part of him silently thrilled at the way he’s beginning to tower over the boy now. He’s had years of practice in ignoring this part of himself.
“We should do something,” he says, pretending he doesn’t see the way Jimin’s eyes dart over his shoulder, like he’s planning an escape.
“What, um, what d’you have in mind, Jungkookie?” Jimin asks hesitantly, his shoulders hunching into himself protectively. Jungkook hadn’t realized just how much broader he’d gotten compared to his hyung, and there’s heat, low in his stomach. For some reason, he thinks about that friend of Daniel’s, from a while ago, Miranda or something, and he worries his bottom lip between his teeth.
“We should go bowling,” he offers decisively. “I used to go with my friends from school. And we haven’t spent any time together recently so…” That’s a bit of an understatement, months of silence spanning between them.
He looks down, aware of the way Jimin jolts at his words. He thinks for a moment that he may have gone too far in trying to guilt-trip Jimin, but when he gets a stuttered affirmative in reply, he can’t help the smug feeling that settles over him. He bites back a triumphant smile.
“Shall we go now then?” he asks.
Jimin looks like a deer caught in the headlights, eyes wide. He pulls his phone out to check the time. “I don’t know,” he says quietly, “it’s getting pretty late. Maybe later this week?” His voice sounds hopeful, but Jungkook isn’t letting him get out of this so easily.
He shakes his head. “Nah, don’t worry hyung, I know a place that’s open all night.”
Jimin looks worried, but after a moment, he sighs in defeat. “Of course you do,” he says, his voice fond in spite of himself. “Lead the way then, Jeon Jungkook.”
Jungkook grabs him by the crook of his elbow (he can wrap his hand all the way around) and drags him out, turning the lights off behind them.
“My hands are too small for the ball,” Jimin mutters, embarrassed, and when Jungkook looks down, he can tell that Jimin’s struggling a little with the ball he’s chosen.
He flushes slightly, sees the way Jimin can barely hold it, before dropping his own ball back down and picking out a lighter one, a bright pink ball.
“Try this one,” he says, grabbing Jimin’s ball out of his hand and replacing it.
“You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?” Jimin asks suspiciously, and that makes Jungkook laugh out loud, the quiet of the bowling alley broken by his mirth. Apart from the two of them, there’s only the girl working at the entrance, clearly bored with the graveyard shift and content with leaving them alone.
He shifts closer to Jimin, shaking his head. “No, of course not,” he says, hands sliding down along Jimin’s forearms as he shows him the correct way to hold the ball. “Like this,” he mutters, rearranging Jimin’s posture to his liking, and ignoring the way Jimin’s back is a searing line of heat along his body.
When he’s happy with the way Jimin is holding the ball, he takes a step back. “Now try the way I did before,” he encourages, having shown Jimin how to hook the ball earlier.
Jimin follows his instructions, his ball sliding precariously toward the gutter before knocking over two pins.
When he turns back to Jungkook, his face is a mask of frustration. Jimin has always been a bit of a perfectionist.
Jungkook walks to stand next to him, gathering Jimin in his arms as he chuckles. “That wasn’t as bad as you’re thinking,” he says, looking down at where Jimin is pressed into his chest. “Just relax, you’re doing fine.”
At that, Jimin seems to sag, like a puppet whose strings have been cut, and Jungkook holds him up, his biceps straining slightly under the added weight. “I’m tired,” Jimin complains into Jungkook’s chest, and Jungkook can’t help but look down at him fondly.
“You wanna take a break?” he asks softly, and Jimin nods. Jungkook shuffles him over to the hard plastic seating, dropping him down on the nearest one and passing him his own big cup of Coke Zero. “You just rest and watch how the pros do it,” he suggests with a grin, and proceeds to bowl his best game in a month. The whole time, Jimin watches him, quietly, carefully.
They don’t make it back to the dorm until the sun is rising, Jimin crashing from his sugar high, Jungkook having to hook a hand under his arm to keep him from stumbling as they walk. Jimin doesn’t seem to any complaints. In fact, he seems to melt gratefully into Jungkook’s side, like he trusts the younger boy implicitly to get him home.
After that, the distance between them shrinks down to nothing.
Jimin drapes himself all over Jungkook as much as he can, wheedling and bothering him whenever he has the chance. Jungkook rolls his eyes, pretends to be annoyed at all of the attention being paid to him, but he secretly revels in it.
It’s almost perfect.
Except for the fact that Namjoon keeps watching the two of them, the lines around his eyes creased with worry.
But Jungkook does his best to ignore it, and he thinks Jimin is doing the same thing. It’s not like they’re doing anything wrong, and if Jungkook is spending a bit longer in the shower jacking off thinking about how delicate Jimin’s wrists are, or how easy it would be to mark up the slender line of his neck, then that’s his own fucking business.
Nothing has to change.
Dance practices for Dope seem to drag on and on. Seokjin in particular seems to be struggling with it, so Jimin and Jungkook stay behind with him to practice. Jimin takes up the duty because he’s always happy to get in a little extra practice, and Jungkook stays because, well.
After another forty minutes, there’s a clear moment when Seokjin finally gets it. As the song starts itself over, Seokjin and Jimin stumble to a stop, cheering and whooping. Jimin jumps into Seokjin’s arms, and despite how wobbly he is, the older boy is able to swing him around in big circles before setting him back down.
“You’ve got it, hyung!” Jimin beams, sweat making his oversized white tee stick against his chest. Jungkook manages to tears his eyes away by busying himself with the water cooler. When he turns back around, he holds a cup out to Seokjin.
Seokjin waves him away. “I need some sugar, like right now,” he says, his voice betraying his fatigue. “I’m gonna go to the convenience store and buy a Coke. Can you lock up?”
Without giving Jungkook a chance to reply, Jimin nods. “Sure, hyung, you go. We’ll catch up to you.” He’s already rooting around in the pile of clothes in the back office for his jacket.
Waving a tired hand, Seokjin heads out, his steps still a little shaky.
Downing his own cup of water, Jungkook lets his steps lead him back to Jimin, standing on the tips of his toes as he tries to reach his earbuds, which Namjoon had moved out of the way earlier, now shoved onto one of the shelves above the desk in the back room.
Jungkook doesn’t say anything for a moment, blushing at the way that Jimin struggles, his arm stretched out uselessly as he tries to grab them from where they’ve been pushed to the back of the shelf.
He becomes aware of Jungkook’s presence after just a few moments, and looks over his shoulder at him. “A little help here, huh?” he asks, his voice straining, and Jungkook swallows, his throat clicking.
Shuffling up behind Jimin, Jungkook leans against him, his hand easily reaching above Jimin’s head to grab the earbuds. He can’t help the twitch his dick gives, and curses the fact that he’s only wearing loose sweats. Shit, shit.
He pulls back quickly, dropping the earbuds on the desk and causing Jimin to stumble slightly. He reaches out, steadying Jimin with his hands on his waist-- so fucking tiny-- and he can’t help the embarrassing sound that escapes his throat.
For a moment, neither of them speak. Jimin merely stares up at Jungkook with those wide eyes of his, and Jungkook can’t bring himself to look away. It’s only when Jimin glances at where Jungkook’s hands are gripping him tightly that he flexes his fingers once and steps back.
“Uh, there you go,” Jungkook says quietly, unable to meet Jimin’s eyes now.
Gathering up his earbuds and shrugging his coat on, Jimin gravitates to Jungkook’s side, resting a light hand on Jungkook’s forearm. “Thanks,” he says sweetly, and his voice sounds like understanding. Though what he understands… Jungkook isn’t sure.
All Jungkook can think of as they walk back is the weight of Jimin’s hand on him, present the entire way.
Jimin’s hair is a vibrant red for their Dope promotions, and he seems to delight in the color, running his hands through the bright strands, playing with it whenever he has the chance.
“Feel it, it’s not that dry,” Jimin says, pleased, grabbing one of Jungkook’s hands with both of his own and bringing to his head.
Jungkook does as he’s told, petting him softly, the two of them standing next to each other without uttering another word.
“Jungkook!” Namjoon calls sharply, jerking Jungkook out of whatever it is he and Jimin are indulging in. Even though they hadn’t been doing anything wrong, there’s that inexplicable feeling of guilt that settles in his stomach. It’s a feeling Jungkook has gotten used to recently. “I need your help with some of this shit.” He points at all the junk accumulated in the studio, and Jimin pushes him away gently.
“Go,” he says. “I’ll go get us some drinks from the store.”
It’s another evening where the dance studio had emptied out early. Seokjin was trying to catch up on his classes, Yoongi had a date, and Taehyung and Hoseok had headed home to try and get some much-needed sleep.
Once Jimin leaves, Jungkook doesn’t have any excuse not to join Namjoon, who’s staring at him with a scrutinizing look Jungkook has never before found himself on the receiving end of.
“What the fuck are you doing, huh?” Namjoon asks with a sigh, heaving stuff off of the floor and spreading it out, starting to sort through the junk and old schedule sheets that they no longer need.
Hunkering down next to him, Jungkook slowly starts to sift through everything, picking out an empty bottle and a bento box to throw away. He also finds Taehyung’s old iPad (he’d been complaining about losing it for the past three days) buried beneath their jackets, and rolls his eyes, placing it to one side.
“You and Jimin,” Namjoon clarifies, when he realizes Jungkook isn’t going to say anything. “You two a thing or something?”
Jungkook’s head snaps up at that, and he wonders just how obvious he’s been. Fuck.
“Don’t do this if you’re not serious, Jungkook,” Namjoon warns him in a low voice, now sitting on the floor, not even pretending to pick through the trash. “Don’t you fuck this up for all of us.”
“I-I’m, I’m not,” Jungkook stutters, that debilitating speech impediment he spent years trying to get rid of rearing its ugly little head at the worst possible moment, “I’m not trying to fuck anything up hyung.”
Namjoon’s jaw clenches tight. “You know I already warned him off you once, right? I don’t want to have to do it again.”
“You what?” Jungkook asks, lost. What the fuck is Namjoon talking about?
“You were young, and he was in a different place to you,” Namjoon says, his voice so low that it’s more like he’s talking to himself than Jungkook. “I wasn’t about to let anything happen but--” He cuts himself with another sigh and searches Jungkook’s face, like he’ll find the answers he needs there. “But I think that maybe I should have worried a little bit more for Jimin than you, Jungkook.”
Jungkook breaks the eye contact, not knowing how to take that.
“He’s not like you, Jungkook, remember that. He’s… Fuck, Jimin’s a little more fragile than the rest of us, yeah? You know that,” Namjoon finishes softly, like he’s really hoping to impress this last point on Jungkook.
All it does is send a hot little thrill down Jungkook’s spine, and he has to bite his lip.
When Jimin returns, bottles of Pepsi tucked under his arm, Jungkook’s the only one left in the studio.
He cocks his head to one side, questioning, and Jungkook explains, “Hyung got a call from PD-nim. He had to go.”
Jimin sighs, kicking open the small refrigerator and slinging Namjoon’s drink inside before the door slowly swings shut. He moves quietly over to where Jungkook is, gathering up the miscellaneous sweaters and jackets that had been littering the floor, and helps him dump them into the shopping cart that has taken up residence in the studio since the last time Yoongi and Hoseok went on an all-night bender. Then he presses the cold drink to Jungkook’s neck and giggles as it makes the taller boy shiver.
“We should head home,” Jimin murmurs, letting go of the drink, making Jungkook scrabble to catch it before it hits the floor. Jungkook makes a noncommittal noise in response, always pleased when he gets to have Jimin to himself. The sound makes Jimin look up at him. “What? You wanna go over the choreography again?” he asks, incredulous.
“Nah,” Jungkook mutters, leaning against the mirrored wall and sliding down to sit. He catches Jimin’s hand to drag him down too. The silence between them drags on before he finally adds, “Just don’t wanna go home yet.” He rolls his head to look at Jimin, painfully aware that he hasn’t let go of Jimin’s hand yet.
“No?” Jimin asks, his voice no louder than a whisper.
They sit there for a beat, not speaking, barely breathing, and Jungkook wonders if Jimin is on the same wavelength as him. He leans forward, a miniscule movement, but then Jimin’s there to meet him, his mouth warm and wet and everything Jungkook has ever imagined.
The sound of their kissing is almost obscene in the quiet of the practice room, made even worse when Jungkook surges forward, making Jimin moan in the back of his throat. The sound drives Jungkook slightly crazy, and he can’t help himself as he grips Jimin tightly by the waist, lifting him with surprising ease and settling him on his lap. Small, thin arms come up to wrap around his neck, and Jimin shuffles closer on his knees, closing any gaps between them until they’re pressed tightly together, chest to chest. Jungkook’s hands wander, down the smooth lines of his back, coming to rest on the plush swell of his ass, and he can’t help how tightly he squeezes.
“Fuck,” Jimin breathes against Jungkook’s lips, before dipping back down to kiss him again, open and filthy. “Shit, Jungkook.”
“Does that feel good, hyung?” Jungkook asks, his throat rasping, and is rewarded with another choked out moan as he presses up against Jimin’s body, intent on something. Jungkook doesn’t know exactly what, but he knows he wants more.
Small hands come up to press against his chest, and Jimin is pushing back suddenly, much to Jungkook’s chagrin. “We have to, we have to stop,” Jimin pants, and Jungkook can’t rip his gaze away from Jimin’s lips, puffy and slick with spit.
“Do we?” he asks, voice husky. Now that he’s had a taste, Jungkook doesn’t think he can stop, and from the look of it, it doesn’t look like Jimin really wants to stop either.
Jimin’s gaze catches on Jungkook’s lips as he speaks, and he whines a little, shifting closer like he can’t stop himself. Jungkook lifts his chin up, an offer that Jimin is powerless to resist. The kisses last longer this time, a little more languid, but just as dirty, and Jungkook is shameless as he cants his hips up against Jimin’s ass, making him shiver.
“What are we doing?” Jimin mutters, head tilted to the side to give Jungkook better access as he trails kisses down to his collarbone.
Against his skin, Jungkook whispers, “Does it matter?”
Jungkook feels like a little kid with a secret, nervous and excited by turns. The knowing looks Jimin gives him make him flush in a good way, and every moment spent together is heated and clandestine.
Taehyung bangs out of the dorm in a rush, their manager blowing up his phone because he was supposed to be on the road ten minutes ago if he wants to make his audition, and Jungkook doesn’t waste any time in tracking Jimin to the bathroom.
The older boy turns quickly when he sees the door open, and Jungkook steps into his space. Spitting out his toothpaste, Jimin shoots a look over Jungkook’s shoulder, looking for anyone else in the dorm.
“Everyone’s out,” Jungkook answers his look, crowding up against him and, with sure hands, hoisting Jimin up onto the bathroom counter, both of them shuddering at the touch.
Automatically, Jimin’s arms come up to wrap around his neck, his legs following suit, locking around Jungkook’s waist and holding him close. Jungkook bites at his lips, smirking at Jimin’s whispered fuck, fuck as he humps up against him, wound tight.
“We should, ah, you should-- take me to the bedroom,” Jimin stutters out, and Jungkook lifts him up and walks them both out of the bathroom, not bothering to turn off the light behind them. Hoseok’s bed is closest, and the easiest to get to, so Jungkook tumbles them both down, covering Jimin’s body with his own, pressing down hard, his dick making its interest known.
“Off, off,” Jimin mutters, dragging Jungkook’s shirt over his head, his own following to join the heap of dirty clothes on the floor.
Shirt off, Jungkook can’t help but stare, Jimin’s narrow chest and flat stomach captivating him. His abs have softened to lean muscle, not as clearly defined as they used to be, and it drives him insane. Without waiting for an invitation, he bends down, biting at the soft skin he sees, nuzzling his nose against Jimin’s bellybutton.
Fingers thread through his hair, gripping on tight. “Jungkook,” Jimin laughs breathlessly, “stop it.”
“Can’t,” Jungkook replies between bites, “I fucking love how you look-- just like this.” The grip on his hair slackens, and when Jungkook spares a glance up, Jimin is looking at him uncertainly. “What?” he asks, pausing in his ministrations, but even then, he can’t stop his hands as they rub along Jimin’s thighs. “What is it?”
Jimin doesn’t say anything for a moment, before finally rearranging his face into a tight smile. “No, it’s nothing,” he says. He beckons Jungkook with one hand. “Come up here,” he orders, “kiss me.”
Jungkook’s happy to comply.
“Eat,” Jungkook hears as he shuffles into the living room. From the gap in the open door, he can see Seokjin standing by the stove, a bowl of something steaming on the table in front of Jimin.
“I’m not hungry, hyung,” Jimin says with a smile, standing up. He pauses to grab a can of iced coffee from the refrigerator. “Give it to Taehyung. You know what he’s like in the morning.”
Seokjin folds his arms, moving to block Jimin from leaving the room, neither of them seeing Jungkook from where he’s frozen at the doorway to his and Namjoon’s bedroom.
“Eat,” Seokjin repeats, a little more quietly, “just eat a little bit of it, Jimin. Please.”
They stare at each other, and Jimin looks wilfully ignorant about whatever it is that Seokjin is hinting at. “I’m not hungry,” he says lightly, carefully skirting around Seokjin to escape the kitchen. “Thanks though?”
When he cracks the tab on his can open, the sound is like a shot, making Jungkook jump. The movement draws Jimin’s gaze, and his face lights up when he catches sight of Jungkook. “Morning,” he says brightly, making his way over. He caresses Jungkook’s side with his free hand before passing by him to get dressed.
When Jungkook finally looks away from Jimin’s closed door, he finds Seokjin giving him a hard look, a mixture of frustration and worry on his face, and the taste in his mouth sours.
“Wanna come to the gym with me?” Jungkook asks, poking his head into Jimin’s room.
Taehyung doesn’t look up from his laptop as he mutters, “I’m playing Overwatch.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “I wasn’t asking you,” he clarifies, raising his eyebrows at Jimin expectantly.
Jimin, curled up in Hoseok’s bed looking tired, the bags under his eyes bruised and prominent, looks surprised at the question. “Who?” he asks, pointing to himself. “Me?”
Suddenly, Jungkook feels unsure of himself, like he’s somehow done something wrong and doesn’t quite realize what. “Yeah,” he says, quieter and more hesitant now, “do you not want to?”
The stilted conversation pulls Taehyung’s focus from his game, and he looks between the two of them, confused.
The uncertainty on Jungkook’s face seems to spur Jimin into action. “No, no, I mean, yeah, of course,” he stutters, climbing out from under Hoseok’s covers and digging around for his gym stuff. He settles on a huge hoodie and a baggy pair of Taehyung’s sweats, which is a striking contrast to Jungkook’s sleeveless muscle shirt and shorts.
The walk to the gym in their complex is quiet, the hallways empty apart from the two of them. The gym is much the same, no one there in the middle of the night except for them. When Jimin notices this, he drags Jungkook down onto a mat in the back of the room, straddling Jungkook’s thighs lightly.
“This is what you wanted, right?” Jimin asks quietly, supporting himself against Jungkook’s chest.
The surprise leaves Jungkook speechless for a moment, but it’s a pleasant one, and he’s happy to put off his workout for half an hour if it means a little more alone time for the two of them. “Fuck, yeah, um,” he mumbles, hands coming up to grip Jimin’s hips, bony beneath the meat of his palms.
Jimin smiles knowingly, like he’s gotten the answer he expected, before slipping down, taking Jungkook’s shorts with him as he swallows his cock down between those plump lips of his, and Jungkook curses, scrabbling to get a grip on Jimin’s hair. His vision shrinks down to a pinpoint, watching Jimin’s head as it bobs up and down in a sinful rhythm that leaves Jungkook desperately hard, straining in the warmth of Jimin’s mouth.
When he finishes off, he pushes Jimin up against the wall, letting the smaller boy rub one off against his thigh, his feet barely able to make contact with the floor as Jungkook holds him up. They make out sloppily, and Jungkook keeps one eye on the door to make sure they’re left undisturbed.
When Jimin comes, he groans, and then complains into the side of Jungkook’s neck that he’ll have to wash these pants now before he can give them back to Taehyung, which makes the younger boy laugh uproariously.
“It’s not funny, you fuck,” Jimin says, punching him softly on the shoulder. He slides down the wall, back onto the balls of his feet, and he wipes the back of his hand against his forehead. “I better go and wash this now before I fall asleep.”
That surprises Jungkook, and he gestures at the empty gym. “You don’t wanna work out?” he asks, a little disappointed, and he doesn’t understand the little smile Jimin gives him.
“I didn’t think you wanted me here to work out,” Jimin answers cryptically, toying with the hem of Jungkook’s shirt before he gathers up his stuff and heads out. Jungkook doesn’t think he quite gets whatever it is that Jimin is trying to say.
The circuit they’re performing for the Japanese leg of their tour is hard going, and Jungkook spends most of his nights feeling wrung out, unable to do little more than lie in his hotel room, staring at the ceiling. Some nights, Jimin lets himself in and crawls under the covers next to him, but they’re both too worn out to do anything more.
He gains weight, eating whenever he gets the chance because he’s fucking ravenous, but he’s not the only one. Yoongi complains loudly about it, how his face has gotten softer, and Hoseok just laughs, his voice croaky, because tour time is always a fucking bitch when it comes to food management. They all know that.
Jungkook gets caught up in his own head most of the time, because if he thinks about how many more nights they have to perform before they get some rest time, he’ll collapse from sheer exhaustion. So he doesn’t think about it, working on autopilot most of the time.
He gets slow and stupid when he’s off-stage, and it takes him almost five seconds to react when Jimin crumples, falling face forward onto the floor in their dressing room. By the time he’s on his knees next to Jimin, Namjoon and Taehyung are already lifting him up, while Sejin calls for the first-aider on site.
Jimin’s skin is pale, and he’s sweating, his face shining unhealthily. Jungkook, using shaky hands to help Jimin onto the couch, feels like throwing up.
When the first aider gets there, he speaks to their translator in a low voice, feeling Jimin’s pulse with deft fingers and checking his temperature.
“It looks like low blood sugar,” the translator says, keeping her voice calm and even. She’s a middle-aged woman, and even though she’s been with them for three weeks, Jungkook still can’t work out if she’s Korean or Japanese. “He thinks he hasn’t been eating enough.”
Yoongi raises an eyebrow, incredulous. It’s pretty hard to avoid food on the road. Normally, the punishing pace of concert touring ends with them all putting on a few kilos.
“Thank you,” Sejin says, voice strained, showing the first aider out and promising to give Jimin sugary drinks when he wakes up and let him rest for the remainder of the afternoon.
Jungkook collapses down onto the sofa next to Jimin, pulling his limp legs onto his lap and squeezing his calf tightly. Suddenly, Jimin feels too fragile beneath his hands, and Jungkook is scared.
He wants to be there when Jimin wakes up.
When Jimin finally comes to, he’s disoriented, confused. Jungkook asks him if he’s feeling dizzy or nauseated, and his response is slurred, barely making any sense.
Seokjin kneels down beside them and holds a bottle of Gatorade to Jimin’s lips, encouraging him to drink. He does so with a twist of his lips, his eyebrows pulled down in what Jungkook thinks is a frown. Seokjin only pulls back when half of the bottle is drained, looking grim.
“How are you feeling?” Jungkook asks again, rubbing a comforting hand down Jimin’s back. He can feel the small trembles that Jimin’s body seems incapable of stopping, and it terrifies him.
“I’m fine,” Jimin replies slowly, like the words are too much for his mouth. When he notices the incredulous looks from the rest of them, he shrugs off Jungkook’s hand. “Christ,” he snaps, but the effect is diminished slightly by the way he sways when he tries to stand up. “I’m fine.”
Jungkook bites his lip. “You’re-- Hyung, you’re not well.”
“Shut up,” Jimin hisses, and then he’s stumbling his way out of the door, Taehyung and Sejin hot on his heels.
Jungkook sits there, stunned, until he feels someone’s grip, tight on his shoulder. When he looks up, he sees Namjoon.
“We need to talk.”
“You need to stay away from him.”
The way Namjoon looks, so grave and serious as he speaks, makes Jungkook burst out into incredulous laughter. When Namjoon doesn’t soften his stance, or laugh with him, Jungkook stutters to a stop.
“What?” he asks in a small voice.
“You need to stay away from Jimin,” Namjoon repeats slowly, looking like it’s hurting him to say it.
“Why?” Jungkook asks, a little louder this time, indignation bleeding into his voice. Why would Namjoon ask this of him? He’s the only one who even has any idea that there’s something going on between the two of them, and he-- “Why?” he asks again.
“Being with you is making him sick,” Namjoon says, keeping his voice reasonable in the face of Jungkook’s anger, and it only serves to infuriate him further.
“Bullshit,” he seethes. Jungkook goes to push past him, out of the small storage closet Namjoon had ushered him into for privacy, to belatedly go after Jimin. Namjoon blocks his path, hands holding him back. Jungkook struggles against his grip for a moment, before sagging sideways against the wall, feeling like a child who’s thrown a tantrum. “This is bullshit,” he says weakly. “We’re good together.” He sounds almost like he’s trying to convince himself.
Now that the fight has gone out of him, Namjoon gathers him close, hugging him like that’ll make it better. “No you’re not,” he murmurs. “I’m sorry Jungkook, but you’re not. He wants to please you so badly, and it’s hurting him.” Jungkook squeezes his eyes shut at that, and cries.
Whenever Jungkook looks at Jimin in between rehearsals, he feels guilty and sick. The other boy seems so frail, still recovering from his fainting spell even though it was over a week ago. When anyone asks how he’s feeling, he smiles and says he’s fine, but Jungkook can see that he’s not, knows him better than that.
He keeps trying to seek Jungkook out when they’re all bussed back to the hotel, but Jungkook takes Namjoon’s words to heart and pretends to be asleep whenever Jimin slips into his room, standing uncertainly at the foot of his bed as if he’s not sure if he’s allowed to be there.
It’s killing him.
The only thing that really stops Jungkook from breaking the silence between them is the way Namjoon looks at him, regret written clear across his face, and he remembers his words, that Jungkook isn’t good for Jimin, and that thought alone is enough to make him step back, out of Jimin’s sight when he and Taehyung round the corner, caught up in their own conversation.
“Here,” Seokjin murmurs, throwing a wrapped sandwich onto Jungkook’s lap, their second dressing room deserted apart from the two of them. Jungkook gives him a quiet thanks, and feels a little unsettled when Seokjin doesn’t move away, seemingly content with staring down at Jungkook as he eats his food.
“Did you know?”
That makes Jungkook look up in confusion, and that look of scrutiny is back on Seokjin’s face, reminding him of Namjoon, and he feels like he’s fourteen again, not quite getting what the older boys are trying to say.
“Did I know what?” he asks in return, clearly lost.
Seokjin fiddles with the ring on his left hand as he looks at Jungkook, searching his face, before glancing at the closed door over his shoulder. “Namjoon’s a fucking idiot sometimes,” he finally says with a sigh, a complete non sequitur. “I think it’s time we had a little chat.”
Jungkook frowns at that, looking back down at his food. “I already spoke to hyung,” he says, unable to keep the petulance out of his voice.
“No, not that,” Seokjin says, and that gets Jungkook’s attention. He proceeds to list off all of the names of Jungkook’s ex-girlfriends, and kind-of-girlfriends, and the friends who were girls that he had sometimes fooled around with before they debuted. It leaves Jungkook red in the face. “And what did they all have in common?” Seokjin asks patiently, settling himself down next to Jungkook on the sofa, lacing his fingers together.
Uncertain, Jungkook replies, “They were all girls?”
“Don’t play dumb with me kid.”
Jungkook presses his lips together into a thin line, unable to, not wanting to make the mental leap Seokjin wants from him, so the older boy answers his own question. “They were all tiny, Jungkook.”
“What about it?” Jungkook asks defensively.
“Jimin’s not some small girl you can protect, y’know?”
And, just like that, it’s out in the open. Jungkook’s dirty little secret, his ‘type’ as Daniel used to call it, and Jungkook’s not surprised that Seokjin knows, that he’s bringing it up now. “I get that,” he replies quietly, unable to rip his eyes from tracing the patterns in their ugly brown carpet, “Jimin’s different.”
The look in Seokjin’s eye changes now to something more appraising, the creases in his forehead smoothing. “Is he?”
Seokjin doesn’t say much after that, sitting with Jungkook in silence as he finishes his sandwich, but Jungkook doesn’t feel so alone now, so lost. He hadn’t lied when he said Jimin was different.
He still keeps distance from him in the days that follow, but he now gives Jimin an apologetic smile whenever he lets himself be whisked off before Jimin can speak to him. A shrug of his shoulders, as if to say it’s tour time, what can you do?, and the rueful grin Jimin gives in response is one of understanding, and Jungkook prays to God that Seokjin talks to Namjoon soon so he can stop feeling like he’s lost a limb or something.
He thinks the two of them arguing, and it’s embarrassing and confusing that they’re arguing about them, about Jungkook, and Jimin, and JungkookandJimin, like they have a fucking say, but Jungkook supposes, one evening as he stares blankly at the cream wall of his hotel room, so painfully alone, that he guesses they do. Since day one, they’ve all been in this together, and Jungkook thinks that maybe he’s forgotten that.
He bites his lip, shifting under the covers, and the only thing he wants to do right now is go to Jimin’s room and talk to him, hold him close and feel Jimin’s hot breath across his skin.
It’s more than Jimin’s tiny frame, the tight line of his waist, the narrow slope of his shoulders-- it has always been more than that. And yeah, now that Jungkook’s been forced to speak about it, he can admit the embarrassment he’s always felt when someone picks up on it, but everything he’s ever had with Jimin was different, something more.
Those thoughts run around his head in miserable circles, only stuttering to a stop when he hears a quiet knock at his door. He shoots a glance at the clock on the bedside table, notes how it’s past three in the morning, but heaves himself up anyway and pads over to the door, taking his time to peek through the peephole, Jimin on the other side, wringing his hands together. “Jungkookie?” he hears through the cheap wood of the door, quiet and uncertain.
He doesn’t have the power to resist, pulling back the latch before he even really has time to think about it, about how Namjoon might go ballistic if (when) he finds out.
The relieved smile Jimin gives him when he pulls the door open wide assures Jungkook that he’s made the right decision. “Can I come in?” Jimin asks quietly, and it kills Jungkook that he’s even asking that.
He steps sideways, giving Jimin room to enter. “Yeah, yeah, of course, come in,” he mumbles, unable to help himself from wrapping his hand around the crook of Jimin’s elbow, a familiar gesture between the two of them, almost dragging Jimin inside.
Jimin perches on the edge of the bed, wrapping his arms protectively around his middle, and Jungkook lets his eyes scan over him, the bags under his eyes, the way his shirt hangs off his body in a way that makes him feel a bit queasy.
“I just wanted to talk,” Jimin says softly, like he doesn’t want anyone to overhear them, although Jungkook is pretty sure they’re the only ones awake. “I’ve missed you.”
The thought of sitting next to him on the bed doesn’t feel quite right, so Jungkook instead settles on the floor at Jimin’s feet, clasping his ankles lightly with both hands and feeling grounded for the first time in ages. “I’ve missed you too,” he says with a small smile. “Touring fucking sucks sometimes.”
Jimin tucks a strand of hair behind Jungkook’s ear, not saying anything about his decision to sit on the floor, merely humming in agreement.
Rubbing the pads of his fingers against the delicate bones in Jimin’s ankles, Jungkook feels lost for words. He doesn’t want to fuck this up like Namjoon thinks he has, he loves Jimin, he loves Jimin, he--
“I love you.”
The words leave Jimin staring at him, wide-eyed, his mouth hanging open, and in any other situation, Jungkook would probably laugh at the sight, before teasing Jimin. But now, his throat is dry, and he doesn’t think he could utter another word if he tried. That’s it. He’s put it out there.
“What?” Jimin whispers finally, hunching forward to better search Jungkook’s face, to see if he’s telling some kind of fucking joke. In response, all Jungkook can do is shrug helplessly, hands still on Jimin’s ankles as he stares up at him.
Jimin reaches out with hesitant hands, cupping Jungkook’s face. The kiss he presses to his lips is soft, lingering. “I love you too,” Jimin murmurs, looking like he’s fucking terrified, and for some perverse reason, that gives Jungkook courage.
“I love you,” he repeats in a rush, determined to get all his words out before he clams up again. “I love you, and how you listen when to me when I complain, and how you always make me laugh, and how you make the time to hang out with me even when we’re so fucking busy literally all any of us want to do is sleep.” He squeezes Jimin’s ankles, leaning forward until his forehead is resting against Jimin’s chest, and he feels more than hears the stuttery breaths Jimin is taking now, and he thinks that maybe Jimin gets what he’s trying to say, what he’s been too afraid to acknowledge for a while now.
“So,” he continues, “stop dodging meals, and start coming to the gym with me again, because you fucking scare the hell out of me when you look so sick and tired, and I just want to be your boyfriend even though I know I’ve been shit and--”
Jimin stops his fumbling speech with another kiss to his lips, slowly sliding off the bed so that they’re sat, cross-legged on the floor opposite each other. “Okay,” Jimin breathes, “okay, yeah.” Jungkook is helpless to stop the relieved smile that spreads across his face, and he moves his hands to interlace them with Jimin’s, and yeah, he can’t help but marvel at how small they are, but it’s more than that, and he knows this isn’t some stupid boyhood crush, and that he’s in love with this man sitting across from him.
“We’ve both been a bit stupid, huh?” Jimin asks with a wry tilt of his lips, looking down at their clasped hands.
Jungkook shakes his head, but Jimin’s soft laugh stops him from saying anything.
“I love you,” Jimin whispers, like he can’t stop himself, but this time he doesn’t look so afraid.
Jungkook leans in for another kiss.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Namjoon asks, his voice edging into a yell, shoving Jungkook into an empty bathroom and locking the door behind them. Idly, Jungkook wonders if anyone will hear them in here, but they have just flown in to Australia, so unless it’s one of their own members of staff, Jungkook thinks they’ll be okay.
“I thought Seokjin hyung spoke to you,” he says defensively, leaning against the tiled wall. All he wants to do is go back to Jimin, who had been scoping out the canteen when Namjoon had dragged him away.
Namjoon shoves a hand through his hair, mussing it up. “He can fucking speak to me all he wants,” he says, “but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with him.”
Jungkook wants to be hurt by Namjoon’s words, and part of him is, but he also gets where he’s coming from, how he just wants to protect Jimin, and Jungkook thinks that he can’t be too mad at him for that.
So, calmly, trying to choose his words correctly, Jungkook explains, “I spoke to Jimin. We’ve cleared the air. We’re fine.” In a smaller voice, he adds, “I told him love him.”
Namjoon stares at him, disbelieving, before finally letting out an unkind snort. “What the fuck do you know about love, Jungkook?” he demands to know. “You’re just a fucking kid!”
That riles Jungkook up, because he certainly doesn’t feel like a fucking kid, working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. “Why are you so angry about this, huh?” Jungkook shoots back, pushing himself off of the wall so he can properly face Namjoon, and part of him is terrified, because they’ve never shouted at each other like this before. “Are you jealous or something?” He doesn’t know where that came from, but it’s too late to take it back. Jungkook wants to vomit.
Namjoon jerks back, like Jungkook has slapped him, and shakes his head slowly. “You’re such a fucking kid,” he repeats, but quieter this time. “You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing.” He sighs then, looking up at the cracked ceiling, the flickering halogen lights. When he looks back at Jungkook, there’s something resigned in his eyes. “You’re going to fuck this up, and you’re going to hurt him,” Namjoon says with certainty, and Jungkook feels winded. “And when you do, who’s gonna be there to pick up the pieces, huh?”
“I’m not a child anymore, hyung,” Jungkook mutters, feeling tiny.
Namjoon unlocks the bathroom door and doesn’t turn to face him when he mutters, “We’ll see.”
Jimin bounds over to where Jungkook and Seokjin are sitting quietly, heads together, a tray of food in one hand. “What’re you guys doing?” he asks through a mouthful of pineapple. It makes Jungkook glance up with a warm smile, and Jimin blushes, but doesn’t comment on it.
“Nothing much,” he replies, treading on thin ice, because he hasn’t been able to speak to Seokjin about any of this shit, and he wonders what he’ll say.
But Seokjin just takes in the way Jimin is standing there, food in hand, and with a serene smile, pats the seat next to him. “Sit down with us, Jimin,” he says. And then, in an even voice, “I’m glad to see you’re eating more. You had us worried there for a little while.”
Jimin sets his tray down, sliding into the seat. “Yeah, yeah I know. I’m sorry about that hyung.” He laughs a little, self-deprecating. “You know how I can get… Let things fuck with my head.”
With one hand, Seokjin ruffles his hair, making Jimin whine and complain, and Jungkook lets go of the breath he didn’t know he had been holding. The sound of another group of their staff coming in to eat draws his attention away, and he sees Namjoon staring hard at them. His smile drops.
They’re back home for two weeks before being shipped off to South America, and Jungkook is making most of the break. The first night after they had returned home, Jimin had snuck into his room and stayed until the sun had been high in the sky. The room had been warm, and Jungkook had done them both a favor by tugging off Jimin’s baggy yellow shirt, spending hours trailing kisses along the sharp line of his collarbone, murmuring little words of praise.
Jimin has turned a little firmer, a little more under Jungkook’s hands, and Jungkook is surprised over how crazy it drives him.
They really needed this break. Jungkook doesn’t think he could go two more weeks without getting his hands all over Jimin. At least in the relative privacy of the dorm, they can get some time to themselves.
Seokjin has taken to playing some strange go-between for Jungkook and Namjoon, letting him know when he’s needed in the studio, keeping his schedule updated.
It’s not until their third day of break, Jimin resting his head against Jungkook’s chest, that the older breaks the silence by asking: “What’s up with you and Namjoon hyung?”
Jungkook keeps his eyes on the ceiling, takes a moment to clear his throat, feels the way his sweat is drying on his skin, along the lines of his neck and the edges of his scalp, before replying, “Why do you think there’s something going on between me and hyung?” He aims for casual, isn’t sure of how successful he is.
Clearly unimpressed with the non-answer, Jimin turns over, now resting his forearm against Jungkook’s chest so he can stare at his boyfriend’s face, giving him a look. “You two haven’t spoken since--” He screws his face up, like he’s trying to think back to when it all started. Jungkook could give him the exact time in hours, minutes, and seconds, but wisely says nothing. “--Since we were in Japan?”
A pause stretches between them for just a little too long, enough time for Jimin to huff in annoyance, adjusting himself into a slightly more comfy position, before Jungkook finally says, “It’s-- It’s nothing. Me and hyung have been having a little disagreement over my ability not to be a total fuck-up.”
The way Jimin’s lips purse betrays his surprise at Jungkook’s answer. “What?” he asks, clearly incredulous. “What the fuck is he thinking?”
Jungkook huffs out a small laugh, threading a hand through Jimin’s hair, tacky and a little stiff from their recent enthusiastic bout of sex, and tugging on it until Jimin once again rests his head on his chest. Jimin presses light kisses to his sternum, rubbing a hand up and down Jungkook’s side. “The thing is,” Jungkook breathes, just loud enough for Jimin to hear him, “I’m not sure that he’s completely wrong.”
He feels the grip of Jimin’s hand tighten against his hip, but he doesn’t say a word.
Things reach an uncomfortable stalemate over the next few weeks, most of their time taken up with touring and press junkets. Tensions between Namjoon and Jungkook don’t ease, but at the very least, it’s not difficult for Jungkook to shove it to the back of his mind. He has other things to worry about, specifically the way that the last leg of the tour seems to be wearing Jimin pretty thin.
They’re sharing hotel rooms this time, and Seokjin had happily swapped with Jungkook, giving him a knowing smile as he hefted his bag over his shoulder. “Yoongi’s a quiet sleeper,” he says with a shrug, “you’re doing me a favor, really.”
Both of them know that Jimin is almost as quiet, but that stays unsaid between them, Jungkook bashfully looking down as he fiddles with the straps of his own bag.
When they’re alone, Jimin scoots out of his own bed and into Jungkook’s, wearing nothing more than a pair of boxers, and pats the pillow beside him. “C’mon slowpoke,” he teases, “I’m tired. Hurry up.”
The request jolts Jungkook into action, and with stuttering apologies he undresses, dropping his bag down at the foot of the bed. Jimin laughs at his embarrassment, and Jungkook wonders if that’s just because he doesn’t know-- doesn’t know that Seokjin knows about them, doesn’t know that Namjoon disapproves.
Under the covers, Jimin’s body is warm, and he’s still so small, so perfect, curving into Jungkook’s side. When Jungkook looks down, letting his eyes trace the slope of Jimin’s nose and the soft swell of his cheeks, he wonders how this boy could ever think he was anything less than. But he also wonders just how much longer Jimin is willing to act oblivious to everything that’s going on around them, and the quiet of the room becomes almost oppressive to Jungkook, and he doesn’t want to hide anything from Jimin. The thought propels him to speak the words he’s been so scared to utter, and if feels like a veritable fucking out of body experience when he whispers, without warning, “Namjoon hyung knows about us. Seokjin hyung too.”
Jimin’s body goes tense and still, and it is suddenly very, very quiet in their hotel room.
“And Namjoon hyung thinks we should stop seeing each other.”
Jungkook has ample time to regret his decision as he sits on the couch in Namjoon and Taehyung’s hotel room, listening to Jimin yell, his face red, staring up fearlessly like Namjoon doesn’t have four fucking inches on him.
Beside him, Taehyung sits, rubbing his eyes blearily, having been woken up when Jimin barged into their room, only a few doors down from their own, having hastily thrown on a pair of shorts and Jungkook’s shirt. As the two yell at each other, Seokjin slips into the room, having gotten Jungkook’s text, and seems to survey the situation with a long-suffering look.
“What gives you the right to tell Jungkook we shouldn’t see each other any more, hyung?” Jimin demands to know.
Namjoon, equally frustrated to be having this conversation on the last leg of the tour when all of their nerves are already frayed, steps closer. “You’re both too young and stupid to be getting into something like this,” he says, which seems to infuriate Jimin further. “Did you forget the part where you fucking fainted because you stopped eating? Because all of us know that Jungkook’s type is small and skinny? I sure as hell haven’t.”
Jungkook and Taehyung both flinch at that, and Seokjin crosses his arms. For a brief moment, Jungkook’s just glad that Hoseok and Yoongi are sleeping on obliviously in their rooms.
Even in the face of Jimin’s upset expression, Namjoon barrels on, “You should have fucking listened to me the first time I said getting involved with Jungkook would be a monumentally bad idea. And I distinctly remember you telling me that you weren’t ever gonna tell him.” Namjoon looks like he’s wound up too tight, like he’s just looking to lash out and hurt, because his next words certainly do: “What a fuckin’ surprise that the minute you started dieting, and stopped working out, Jungkook was suddenly interested huh? Was that the plan all along?”
For a moment, they’re all stunned by his words, before the silence is broken by the loud crack of Seokjin slapping Namjoon across the face, now stepping between the two boys.
“Jungkook,” he says, voice calm, never looking away from Namjoon, who’s still standing, hand now cradling his face, “take Jimin and Taehyung back to your room, please.”
Abruptly, Jungkook feels like a kid again, being banished to his room, his stomach twisted up in knots. But he does as he’s told, looping an arm over Jimin’s shoulder and gesturing with his head at Taehyung to join them.
They haven’t even closed the door yet before the shouting starts up again.
Their own room, in comparison, feels almost too quiet. With agitated motions, Jimin pulls off his shorts and curls up under the covers in only his underwear and Jungkook’s over-large shirt, while Jungkook perches beside him. Taehyung takes the other bed with a wry twist of his lips.
“So… You two, huh?” he asks pleasantly, like he’s not just found out that two of his bandmates have been secretly fucking. “How the fuck did you manage to hide it from us?” A look of horror crosses his face. “Or-- am I the only one who doesn’t know? Was I too dumb to notice you guys boning?”
That startles a laugh out of Jungkook, and he shifts higher on the bed so that he can pet Jimin’s hair with a careful hand. “Nah,” he murmurs, “only Namjoon hyung and Seokjin hyung know.”
Taehyung nods at that with a pleased smile, before untucking the covers and climbing underneath. “Y’know,” he says, as he switches off his own bedside lamp, “I can see it. You two. You’re probably more well-matched than people might think.”
It’s a small consolation in the wake of the huge blowout they’ve had, but it allows Jungkook to close his eyes and sleep.
Jungkook can see, from his corner of the room, the way Yoongi gets more and more agitated as the day goes on. He hates not knowing shit, and from the icy atmosphere in the dressing room, it’s more than apparent to both him and Hoseok that there’s something they’re missing.
The hot weather doesn’t help with anyone’s irritation, and Taehyung ends up playing messenger boy between Namjoon and Jimin, a duty he suffers through quietly.
Surprisingly, Seokjin seems to be the worst off, glowering, bags bruised and heavy under his eyes. He barely speaks, sipping his coffee as he reads his book in silence. It’s a technical rehearsal, and there’s some problem with the playback system, so they’ve got a little time to relax.
It doesn’t take long for Namjoon to slip out, and Jungkook takes the opportunity to sidle up to Seokjin, bumping his shoulder gently, in commiseration.
Seokjin shoots him a fond glance, and murmurs, “You’re a good boy, aren’t you Jungkook?”
Jungkook pulls a face at that. “Don’t talk to me like I’m ten years old,” he complains, and that brings a smile to Seokjin’s face.
“That’s not what I meant,” he replies, patting Jungkook on the knee. “I just-- I just want to know why Namjoon is having such a hard time accepting the two of you.”
“So I take it last night didn’t go well after we left, huh?” Jungkook laughs humorlessly.
Seokjin sighs. “He’s just worried.” Another pat on the knee. “He needs some time to come around.”
Across the room, Yoongi frowns at them, but says nothing, merely pulling his cap down to cover his eyes, trying to catch some sleep.
Across the stage, Jungkook can see the way Jimin is leaning heavily against one of the metal barriers, his microphone hanging limply from one hand. The whole place is a cacophony of noise, as the stage manager speaks over the God mic to their backing dancers, and Hoseok and Taehyung take turns rapping to Cypher Part 3.
Jungkook hops off the runway he’s on, climbing over to where Jimin is. He places a hand between his shoulder blades, rubbing his back firmly. “You doing okay?” he asks, pulling at Jimin’s collar. They’ve been rehearsing for nearly two hours now, and he’s sticky with sweat.
When he gets a look at Jimin’s face, he sees the way his eyes are clenched shut, his brows furrowed. His face looks shiny, and he’s letting out wheezing little breaths. “I’m fine,” he mutters without opening his eyes. “I’m fine.”
He’s clearly not, and it makes Jungkook frown. “You need to sit down,” he says, his tone leaving no room for argument.
That makes Jimin open his eyes, and with sluggish movements, he pulls his phone out of his jeans, checking the time. “We only have half an hour left of rehearsal,” he says, “I’ll be fine. I’m fine.”
Jungkook plucks the phone out of his hands, tucking it into his pocket with practised ease. “Come on,” he says, turning around and bending down slightly, beckoning Jimin onto his back. “Up, up. No arguments.”
He hopes Jimin won’t argue with him, will just take the goddamned break he needs, and is relieved when he feels hands curl over his shoulders, Jimin hopping up onto his back.
Namjoon shoots them a look from where he’s been fiddling with his headset. “What are you two doing?” His voice isn’t as sharp as it’s been recently, and he seems to duck his head to get a better look at Jimin’s face.
“He’s not feeling too hot,” Jungkook explains with a shrug, trying to keep it lowkey because he knows that’s what Jimin wants, what he needs right now. “I’m gonna take him back to lie down.”
There’s a pause, before Namjoon waves them away with a mumbled offer to speak to their stage manager, letting the two of them go. Jungkook knows he won’t be able to stay with Jimin while he rests, but the least he can do is get him settled in the dressing room with a warm drink and a blanket before he has to get back to rehearsal.
It takes a little while to navigate the narrow corridors backstage, and Jungkook suspects that Jimin has fallen asleep from the way he hangs limply over his back, his breathing deep and even. He pushes the door to their dressing room open with one leg and startles a little when he sees Yoongi’s eyes on him.
“What’re you doing back here, hyung?” Jungkook asks, trying to pass his tone off as casual. From the way Yoongi’s glaring at him he isn’t sure it worked.
In response, Yoongi holds up his allergy medicine, plucked from the top of his backpack, shaking it a little. “Keep fuckin’ sneezing,” he grumbles, pressing two pills out into his hands and dropping the rest of the box back where he found it. “Sleeping angel back there doing okay?” he asks gruffly, nodding at where Jimin has his cheek pressed into Jungkook’s shoulder.
That makes Jungkook chuckle, and he gestures to Yoongi to help him get Jimin down. Between the two of them, they manage to get him onto the couch without waking him, the waiting room hushed as they work. Once he’s settled, Jungkook unearths his jacket from under the pile of his stuff by the make-up table, and drapes it over Jimin’s shoulders, tucking it in at the sides. Jimin mumbles something, but doesn’t open his eyes.
Yoongi stands in the doorway, watching it happen, waiting until Jungkook is ready to walk back to the main stage. “I’m not gonna stick my nose in or anything,” he says quietly, arms crossed, and Jungkook looks up sharply, “but Namjoon isn’t a fucking idiot.” Jungkook bites his lip, like he wants to argue the point, but before he can say anything, Yoongi continues, “If he’s wrong, he’ll admit it sooner or later. Just-- Be patient.” He raps his knuckles against the doorframe and shrugs, not offering any other pieces of wisdom, but Jungkook thinks that it’s enough.
The end of the tour passes in a blur, and Jungkook feels pathetic when he can’t stop himself from crying as they take their final bows. His face feels hot, and the lights are blinding, and he just feels so worn down-- so much has happened over the past year-- that it’s impossible to stem the flow of tears.
Jimin’s hand on his wrist is an anchor, and Jungkook knows the others are crying too, but it’s only a small consolation.
The screams and chants follow him through the corridors backstage, the sound moving through his body like heavy bass as he changes into his street clothes. When they get into the cars to go back to the hotel, he’s almost blinded by the flashes of fans’ cameras, their screams ramping up to just short of deafening. It’s only Jimin, constantly at his side that keeps him walking in a straight line. The older boy is still overworked, definitely overtired, but he somehow keeps his shit together more than the rest of them. When Jungkook manages to look around him, both Hoseok and Seokjin are wearing similar shell-shocked expressions, and he has a fleeting thought that the tour ran a little too long this time. They need a break.
It’s almost like Jungkook can’t shake himself out of this weird fugue state he finds himself in, spending the flight back to Seoul staring out of his window, earbuds jammed in his ears while Yoongi curls up beside him reading a book. He’s underwater, movements slow, everything muted. Until.
Namjoon standing at his bedroom door. Jungkook only notices him when he feels Jimin, leaning back against his chest, stiffen. Jungkook imagines that they both look guarded and weary, and Namjoon’s tired smile only confirms this. “Can I speak to you guys?”
There’s a rumpled bag of candies on the bed between the three of them, something Namjoon had tossed down as a peace offering. Jimin, with deft fingers, plucks a Chupa Chup from the top, unwrapping it and sticking it in his mouth. Jungkook smiles slightly at his inability to refuse sweet things, but doesn’t take anything for himself.
“So maybe I was wrong,” Namjoon admits easily, making himself comfortable at Jungkook’s desk, shrugging his shoulders like it isn’t a huge deal. “You know how much I stress out about shit like this.” He lets out a gusty breath, leaning back in his chair, making it creak. “But lemme tell you, it’s fucking terrifying seeing two people jump headfirst into a relationship like yours.”
Jungkook meets his eyes, and is helpless to stop his grip tightening on Jimin’s hip. But Jimin speaks before Jungkook can even try and formulate a reply to his words. “Why the change of heart, hyung?” he asks, and his voice is casual and cool. He licks his lollipop, and pointedly leans back into Jungkook.
The exasperated look Namjoon gives them tells Jungkook that he knows what Jimin is doing, and that he’s suffering through it, and Jungkook feels a little smug. Whatever reservations Namjoon may have, he needs to know that Jimin can look after himself.
“You know Seokjin hyung spoken to me,” Namjoon mutters, “and so has Yoongi. And I’ve realized, uh, I’ve still been looking at you two like you’re fucking seventeen year olds or something.” He scratches the back of his neck bashfully. “And I should know better than that. Especially with you, Jimin,” he adds apologetically, “I know you wouldn’t ever do something to fuck up things for us. You’re more responsible than that.”
Jungkook wonders what he means by that, his mind suddenly calling back to that night, Jimin curled against Namjoon as he cries, and it’s like the wind has been knocked out of him.
Oblivious, Namjoon continues, “I should trust you guys. You’re my brothers, and I can see you’re doing good, doing better, and I need to learn that just because I’m the leader doesn’t mean I need to be involved in every aspect of your life.” A wry grin follows his last statement, and Jungkook suspects that he might be parroting Seokjin.
Again, Jimin beats Jungkook to the punch. “I love you hyung,” he says softly, around his sucker. “But you need to learn when to butt the fuck out.” Jungkook wonders how that first conversation between Jimin and Namjoon had gone, before he got back from practice. How much it had hurt Jimin, to promise not to say anything to him, and it’s like he can finally see the full picture. He thinks of Jimin crying, and then thinks that it might still be a little while before he can completely forgive Namjoon.
“I do,” Namjoon agrees quietly, bowing his head. Then he nods, almost to himself, and pushes himself to his feet. “I’ll leave you two alone now,” he says, waving as he leaves the room.
Jimin pushes closer to Jungkook, and Jungkook hooks his chin over Jimin’s shoulder. For a while, he just wants to feel close to him.
The summer makes Jungkook warm and irritable. The constant hum of the fan, the way his bottle of water drips little rings across the practice room floor, everything heralding a season of long, lazy days and balmy nights.
Jimin has stripped down to a short-sleeved black shirt, hanging loose but just a little too short. Jungkook, sitting against one of the mirrors with his legs splayed out in front of him, is mesmerized by the little flashes of skin Jimin treats him to every minute or so. He licks his lips, tastes the faintest salty tang, and shifts, the first pangs of arousal making themselves known low in his stomach. He shifts his eyes to the door, but he doesn’t think anyone else is around. It’s late, and Hoseok had bailed over half an hour ago.
Like he realizes that he no longer has Jungkook’s attention, Jimin huffs out a laugh, before moving to the speakers, scrolling his phone before Julia Michaels starts to play.
The first notes of Issues fill the room, and Jungkook hums the tune, tipping his head back, singing along when he knows the words, a few lines here and there. His eyes are closed, so he doesn’t even see Jimin move until the older boy is in his lap, so very close and warm.
It’s been a few weeks since Namjoon came and spoke to them, but they haven’t really talked about it since. Time seems to have slowed down for them, stretched out with the long summer days, and Jungkook has just been enjoying the respite, the time that they’ve had for themselves.
But he thinks that now’s the time to tell Jimin, to finally put it to rest: “I saw you that night with Namjoon hyung.” He opens his eyes, and Jimin is looking at him curiously, like he’s not sure what night Jungkook means. “The night you told him you weren’t ever gonna tell me you liked me.” He reaches up with one hand, caressing Jimin’s back an ass with a firm hand, continuing before Jimin can jump to any conclusions: “I didn’t-- Back then, I didn’t know you were talking about me. Didn’t realize it until that night when you and him fought. He mentioned it and, uh, I finally put two and two together.”
The entire time he stutters through his explanation, he keeps his eyes on Jimin’s thigh, the way his hand is stroking broad sweeps along it, up and down, up and down. When he finally gets all his words out, he looks up, and Jimin is staring down at him, biting his lip. In the background, Julia Michaels’ voice cuts out, the next song starting.
“Well that’s,” Jimin croaks out, before coughing, “um, that’s embarrassing.”
“No, no,” Jungkook says frantically, shifting to sit up slightly, “it’s not. I was-- I was so fucking mad when I worked out it was me you guys had been talking about. That hyung has been fucking meddling for years, and--”
The smile Jimin gives him is lopsided and indulgent. “Don’t blame hyung for that,” he murmurs, before leaning forward so that they’re hugging, chins resting on each other’s shoulders. “We wouldn’t have worked then. You were still so young, you’d just broken up with your fucking girlfriend. It was a good thing I waited. That he made me wait.” He shifts slightly, makes himself more comfortable in the cradle of Jungkook’s arms. “I guess we should both cut hyung some slack. He might be an idiot, but sometimes he has good advice.”
“Sometimes,” Jungkook allows begrudgingly, “maybe.”
“But us,” Jimin continues, “we’re good now. We’re good, and he’s apologized, and for now I just want you to hold me like this. We’ve talked about this enough. It’s late, and I’m tired.” He says this in a whine, being deliberately petulant, and it makes Jungkook’s body shake with supressed laughter. Jimin smacks Jungkook on the shoulder, chiding him, “I’m not kidding, I want you to carry me home.”
There’s a smile playing on Jungkook’s lips when he replies, “I can do that. I’ll carry you home.” His arms tighten around Jimin’s waist, and it’s like he’s already there.