Jungkook likes to be prepared. Making mistakes and failing in front of others is one of the things he hates the most, no matter if it’s at a work task or an arcade game. Mistakes make him feel awful and his seniors disappointed, so he tries not to make them. Life has taught him that failure becomes less likely if he does his homework and covers all his bases as thoroughly as possible, hence he preps meticulously.
So despite the fact that there is a department meeting right on the second day after he gets back from vacation, when his inbox is still bursting and his desk is piled high with project files, Jungkook still walks into the conference room on top of his game: all his project notes and analyses neatly organized in a binder, his laptop fully charged, the agenda in his hand, and his hair and tie in place. Granted, he may have felt like a zombie after working late the night before trying to catch up, but at least he doesn’t look like one. He crosses over to the seat Hoseok has saved for him at the long side of the big table like he does in any other of their monthly meetings. Most of his Finance Department colleagues have brought coffee mugs to combat early morning fatigue and the aroma of them fills the room. It’s their biggest meeting room, but with the thirty or so people crammed around the table, it still feels cramped and noisy. Their department head isn’t present yet, Jungkook notices happily, so he’ll have time to set down his materials and look over his notes to prepare himself.
Nothing, however, could have prepared Jungkook for the distractingly beautiful man on the other side of the big conference table. It’s the sound of a laugh that makes him look over to see the man joking easily with his neighbor, just as Jungkook is setting down his things. Jungkook’s breath whooshes out of his chest, and his fingers go so weak that his laptop knocks into the tabletop with a harsh clank. Several heads turn toward the noise, the distracting man’s included. Even the heat rising to his cheeks isn’t enough to quell the butterflies dancing around in Jungkook’s belly at the sympathetic smile he glimpses right before he lowers his eyes in embarrassment.
Hoseok pulls him down into his seat, clucking his tongue in concern. “Are you alright?”
“I’m good, thanks.” Jungkook stumbles over the words, trying to ignore how he can feel his blush pulsing in time with his heartbeat.
Hoseok pats his back. “That’s what you get for working so late. You should take it easy, Jungkook, or you’ll end up with an ulcer like Jenny from Sales.”
“Yeah, I know, I know,” Jungkook mutters, managing a weak smile. He busies himself with arranging his materials on the table, trying to ignore the urge to glance across the table again. Red hair… and he thought Yoongi’s bleach-blond undercut has to be pushing it already. He clears his throat, trying to seem as casual as possible. “Who is that? The red-haired guy talking to Taehyung over there?”
“Hm? Ah, that’s Jimin,” Hoseok says, his face doing the warm, glowy thing that Jungkook has learned means he likes something a lot. “He started last week over at Controlling with Seokjin. Only heard good things about him so far. An analyst like you, but he’ll probably make associate soon.”
Jungkook takes a quick glance at the other side of the table where Jimin is now focused on his laptop, looking just as stunning with a frown of concentration on his face. Suddenly thankful for the chair underneath him because his knees feel a little weak, Jungkook shifts uncomfortably. Whoever allowed the new guy to keep his hair a fire-engine red in their sober, suits-only work environment deserves a reprimand. It’s… distracting. It stands out obnoxiously against the backdrop of his white dress-shirt and the simple black tie. Jungkook finds it hard not to stare at it gleaming in the fluorescent overhead lights. It looks really pretty. And soft.
When the door to the meeting room closes abruptly, Jungkook gets startled out of his sleep-deprived trance. Right. Meeting. Tearing his eyes away, he focuses on the front of the room where Namjoon, the Finance Department head, is connecting his laptop to the projector. “Alright everyone,” Namjoon says, straightening up. “Seems like we’re all here, so let’s get started. Welcome to our May department meeting. As we’ve sent the agenda around, let’s move right to the first point. This is the consolidated April report for the entire company. As you can see...”
For a while, the numbers manage to hold Jungkook’s attention. He listens to Seokjin when he takes over with talks about sales and points out areas lagging behind plan, outlining necessary measures to boost them. Jungkook’s direct superior, Yoongi, presents the data from their business development team. When Stephanie stands up to talk about marketing spend and returns, though, Jungkook’s concentration begins to waver and he chances another look across the table.
He only meant for it to be a quick glimpse ( honest , he’s a professional after all) but there is an entirely unhelpful ray of sunshine slanting into the room just so and glinting on a golden cartilage piercing in Jimin’s ear. Jungkook’s eyes get stuck. Red hair and a piercing. It should be offensive in their orderly office environment, but it’s attractive. Beautiful even in how it clashes with his business wear and nerdy glasses, brings out the milk caramel tone of his skin and roughens up his soft features. As if some higher power is out to mock Jungkook, Jimin absently lifts a hand to run it through his hair and to Jungkook it seems like slow-motion: the strands parting gently under his fingers, trailing the path in flowing waves, and falling back into place around his forehead like wisps of silk. The frame of sunlight makes it look like a particularly sensual shampoo commercial--only that this one doesn’t make Jungkook want to roll his eyes but instead leaves him swallowing against a suddenly dry throat. He really wasn’t prepared.
He’s so distracted that it’s only when he watches Jimin raise his hand that he remembers that they’re still in the middle of a meeting. Caught off guard (What’s going on? What are they talking about? Are they voting on something? He can’t recall the agenda. Where did he put his agenda? It should be right in front of him only it isn’t.), Jungkook raises his own arm halfway, half-hoping nobody will see and half-hoping someone will and not certain which would be better, as he awkwardly tries to peer at the agenda peeking out of Hoseok’s stack of paper next to him. Are they on the last point already?
“Oh, Jungkook, you too?” Jungkook jerks his head up at Namjoon’s voice. The department head is smiling at him, looking pleasantly surprised. “Alright then. That went a lot faster than expected.”
Jungkook lowers his arm. With a mounting feeling of dread, he watches as Namjoon scribbles something Jungkook is certain is his name into a notebook, then flips it shut with an air of finality.
“Excellent. With that we have our two volunteers. HR will email you about the details as soon as they’re fixed. That will be all for today. Thank you for your time, everyone.”
Jungkook blinks numbly as all around him people start shuffling papers and pushing back their chairs. What did he just do? Volunteer for what? He frantically cuts his eyes over to where Jimin is stacking together his notes, chatting with Hanbin beside him, as if the answer will magically pop up above Jimin’s head.
Hoseok’s face shoves itself into view, arranged in a concerned frown. “What are you doing? Is this some kind of ‘face your fears’ thing?”
The dread inside of Jungkook belches out a bubble of panic. “What--” He has to swallow against the croak in his voice. “What did I volunteer for?”
“What do you mean--” Hoseok bends forward with wide eyes. “Are you sure you’re alright, Jungkook?”
“No,” Jungkook says. “I’m very unsure.” For some reason that seems to comfort Hoseok, who laughs lightly. Jungkook frowns, not amused with that reaction.
“Did you really just raise your arm without knowing what was happening?”
“Hoseok, is this really important right now?” He wiggles impatiently. “What did I do ?”
“You volunteered for first aid training,” Hoseok says in what has to be a deliberately light tone, eyeing him closely. Jungkook feels his insides freeze over. Of all the things… That isn’t good. At all. It’s horrible, really. What is he supposed to do? He can’t do it.
Maybe his panic shows on his face because Hoseok puts a hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. “It’s okay, Jungkook, you’ll be fine.”
“Hoseok,” Jungkook presses out past his tight throat, burying his head in his hands. “You know I’m like that fucking Twilight girl when it comes to blood. It’s not fine. It’s a disaster!” He moans pathetically into his fingers. Seeing his own blood is fine; it’s other people’s blood he has trouble with. Once Hoseok got a paper cut and Jungkook was forced to sit down, sweat beading on his forehead, the office spinning around him in circles as soon as he caught sight of the crimson drop. The idea of training as a first responder is like an apocalyptic worst case scenario. In case of an office injury, the victim would be more likely to take care of Jungkook than the other way around. Jungkook imagines himself fainting right next to an injured colleague like some nineteenth-century European damsel, Jimin looking on in horror with the first aid box clutched to his chest. Not exactly the kind of impression he wants to leave.
Hoseok makes a sympathetic noise. “Ah Jungkook, don’t worry,” he says. Jungkook gets the distinct impression he’s close to patting Jungkook’s head. “There won’t be any blood during first aid training, it’s all just theory and a bit of CPR practice. You’ll be fine, trust me.”
Just theory. No blood.
The veil of panic lifts at Hoseok’s words. Right, nobody will be forced to dress actual wounds during the class. No wounds, no blood. Jungkook can manage that. He straightens up in his seat, running a shaky hand through his hair to make sure it’s neat. He can do it, he can attend one measly first aid training. He’ll prepare well and then go in, breeze through, and no one else will have to know his knees turned to jelly at the mere idea of blood. A foolproof plan.
“There you go.” Hoseok gives his shoulder a final squeeze. “You’ve got this.”
Later that day, Jungkook feels almost normal again. He’s spent a good while mentally pep talking himself and receiving encouraging fist pumps from Hoseok at the desk across from his own. A quick Google search on what to expect during first aid training bolstered the return of his regular confidence: no blood scheduled. And afterwards chances that he has to use any training are low. There hasn’t been an office injury worse than a paper cut in his department for the past thirty or so years. The earlier freak-out in the conference room almost makes him smile now. He was silly, he totally has it well in hand.
Stretching languidly, Jungkook pushes back from his desk. “I’m getting a coffee. Do you want anything?”
Hoseok, deep in a calculation, absently waves his hand. “Nope, I’m good, thanks.”
Humming under his breath, Jungkook goes over to the communal kitchen area at the end of their hallway and wakes up the expensive espresso machine Yoongi has somehow convinced Namjoon they needed. It’s a humongous, frighteningly complicated looking metal box with numerous dials and taps, and they have a correspondingly large selection of different whole bean roasts to go along with it. Jungkook needed a week of daily trial to figure out how to make himself a coffee, but had to admit that it tastes delicious. By now, the brewing process doesn’t require much thinking anymore, so he quickly puts together his drink.
Just as he’s cleaning up the machine and counter (Yoongi is very particular about having the espresso machine kept sparkling at all times), Jimin wanders in. Jungkook promptly drops the polishing cloth and has to bend down to retrieve it. He tells himself the heat in his cheeks is from the blood that rushed into his head at the motion.
“Hello,” Jimin greets, smiling genially and inadvertently taking Jungkook’s breath away.
“Hi,” Jungkook breathes back.
If Jimin finds his dumbstruck behavior weird, he doesn’t show it; his smile stays. “I don’t think we’ve been introduced. I’m Jimin Park. I work in Seokjin’s controlling unit as an analyst.”
Jungkook reaches out to shake his hand. “Jungkook, in business development with Yoongi.”
“Nice to meet you, Jungkook.” Jimin smiles again and Jungkook’s heart trips. “You’re the other person who volunteered for first aid training during the meeting, right?”
“Oh, er.” Jungkook shifts uncomfortably. Hopefully Jimin hasn’t noticed his staring. “Yes.”
Taking a step closer and bending forward in a conspiratorial manner, Jimin says in a low voice, “To be honest, I’ve never done any first aid class before so I hope I don’t embarrass myself. Look out for me, alright?”
A little overwhelmed, Jungkook presses back against the counter, fighting against the urge to clamp his hands around the edge. Jimin is confusingly warm and open, joking around like that and being so humble. Not sure how to respond and decidedly jittery under Jimin’s gaze, Jungkook inclines his head and mumbles, “I’m sure you’ll do well.”
Maybe Jimin senses his unease because he turns toward the espresso machine, his expression going squinty-eyed before he glances back at Jungkook from the corner of his eyes. “So, er, do you by any chance know how to use this thing?”
“It’s a bit complicated,” Jungkook says quietly, shuffling over and stopping an arm’s length away to reach for the portafilter, careful not brush their shirts together as he assembles it. “The first step is to grind the coffee.” He walks Jimin through the process slowly. The familiar motions have the added benefit of calming his nerves so that when Jimin happily picks up his coffee at the end, Jungkook feels almost normal again and contentedly reaches for his own cup.
He feels normal, that is, until Jimin turns to beam at him with the brightest smile he’s ever seen. Jungkook’s heart screeches to a stop, his hand twitches, and then there is a clank and a sudden flood of coffee on the counter. For a short moment, the world is still. Then Jungkook’s heart starts pounding away in his chest, frantically pumping blood to his cheeks and ears, and Jimin’s smile morphs into a surprised ‘o.’
Jungkook dives for the sink to get a dishcloth and is back at the counter before Jimin can finish setting the spilt cup upright. “Sorry!”
“It’s fine, nothing got on our clothes,” Jimin reassures him, his tone still warm and gentle as he watches Jungkook frantically mop up the brown puddle. “I’m sorry about your coffee--after you went through all the trouble to teach me, too.”
Jungkook shakes his head. “No, it’s my own fault, please don’t apologize. It was no trouble at all. I’ll clean this up and make myself a new one.” His ears might go up in flames if Jimin continues to watch him make an idiot out of himself. “Please don’t wait on my account.”
“Ah…” Jimin hesitates, shifting from one foot to the other. In an attempt to hide his red face, Jungkook sticks his head under the hanging cabinet to wipe behind the espresso machine. He hears Jimin suck in a breath, then clear his throat. “I’ll leave you to it, then. Thank you again, Jungkook.” Footsteps finally tap out of the kitchen, leaving Jungkook to emerge from behind the machine to weakly lean his burning cheek against the cool wood of the cabinet door. Deep breaths. No need for panic. He just needs a plan and then it’ll be fine. Plans are his strong suit, he totally has it in hand.
When he returns to his desk, Hoseok eyes him strangely. “What about your coffee?”
Looking down at his empty hands, Jungkook realizes he forgot about making a new cup. “Uh, drank it in the kitchen,” he lies, avoiding Hoseok’s gaze by pushing a few papers around on his desk.
Hoseok shakes his head disapprovingly. “Ulcer,” he mutters and turns back to his screen.
The plan is to avoid Jimin Park.
Jungkook came up with it after spending the rest of the afternoon glancing up from his documents in tense anticipation of seeing Jimin’s red hair whenever someone came into their office, half-disappointed and half-relieved when it more often than not turned out to be a biz dev colleague returning from the printer room or a frazzled product manager running in to barge into Yoongi’s private office at the end of their long room. He was so thoroughly annoyed at the constant emotional back and forth that he finally decided it needed to stop. Clearly, the mere idea of Jimin’s presence stresses him out, so Jungkook will take steps to make sure he is away from said presence. Of course, not knowing Jimin’s habitual schedule makes it a bit hard to plan around him, but Jungkook is willing to leave room for flexible adjustment of his plan’s parameters for the sake of immediate implementation.
Thus, when he comes into work on Thursday morning, he avoids the usual elevator crowd and goes for the stairs instead. He likes working out so six floors aren’t a big deal to him. Or they wouldn’t be if the stairwell door didn’t open on the second floor to emit Jimin, looking like a suit model coming from a photoshoot.
Jungkook’s brain goes into instant meltdown. His toes catch the edge of the next step, his knee painfully skims the corner of another, and then he’s sprawled right in front of Jimin’s feet, staring at the tips of his shiny black Oxfords.
“Jungkook!” Jimin’s horrified voice echoes through the stairwell, then the matching face comes into view when he bends down. His eyes are big and round and very pretty, Jungkook notices absently. “Are you alright? Did you hurt yourself?” A hand curls around his bicep, lifting gently. “Can you stand?”
Jungkook would like to stay down and sink into the cold stone--his face is already heating up again and he’s sick and tired of facing Jimin with his cheeks on fire. He must look like such an idiot, surely Jimin is trying hard not to laugh at him. With the help of the hand on his arm, Jungkook finally picks himself up, taking his sweet time to dust off his suit and collecting his bag that went flying to the end of the landing. Jimin hovers around him the entire time, barely letting go of his arm as if afraid that Jungkook will faint on the spot and get another prime view of his shoe tips.
When he isn’t able to put it off any longer, Jungkook lifts his head. “Thank you.”
There isn’t a trace of amusement on Jimin’s face. His mouth is set in a concerned frown, making it very hard for Jungkook to tear his eyes away from it. “Are you alright?” Jimin repeats, bending closer to flit his gaze over Jungkook. His lips look really nice when he speaks. “Jungkook?”
“Hm? Ah, yes, I’m alright.” Jungkook laughs sheepishly when Jimin doesn’t look convinced. “I didn’t expect you, or er, anyone to come out of that door. Why were you on the second floor?” Attack as a defense, yes, good strategy.
“I had to hand in some documents to HR,” Jimin says distractedly, still eyeing Jungkook in a way that has his heart thumping frantically. “Are you hurt? That was a nasty spill.”
Even though his knee is throbbing, Jungkook shakes his head. “No harm done, really. Thanks for your help, though.” He inches toward the steps. “I better get going now.”
Jimin worries his lower lip. “Maybe you shouldn’t be taking the stairs right now.”
“No, it’s fine, honestly--”
Jungkook’s protest dies when Jimin’s hand lands on his arm again. It looks tiny against the dark fabric of his suit. “Just to be sure.” Jimin gives him a small, almost bashful smile that makes his entire face glow. It’s like being clobbered over the head with a velvet-wrapped baseball bat. All Jungkook can do is nod and robotically follow Jimin through the door towards the elevators. As they wait, Jimin glances down at Jungkook’s leg where the pants show a dusty smudge that will have to be carefully rubbed out with a bit of water. “If your leg bothers you later, you should go see a doctor.”
“It’s fine,” Jungkook says quietly and puts as much sincerity into his voice as possible. “Just a bruise, I promise.” He has a strange urge to reach out and reassuringly brush Jimin’s fingers, still clamped around his arm.
“Oh,” Jimin says, sounding a bit throaty. “That’s good.”
The elevator’s arrival is announced with a ding, and thankfully Jimin lets go of Jungkook’s arm to take a half-step away from him. He’s still hovering, but from a more professional distance and only then does Jungkook realize how close they were. The doors slide open, but since it’s only the second floor, no one steps out. Even after the people inside have shuffled closer together to make room for them, they have to slide in carefully to not tread on any toes and end up so close that half of Jimin’s back presses against Jungkook’s arm. If Jungkook shifts back any further, he’ll be trampling the dainty red high heels of the woman behind him, so he tries not to think about Jimin’s body heat warming his arm. When the elevator starts its climb, the movement sends Jungkook’s fingers accidentally brushing against Jimin’s bottom. Jungkook freezes, cheeks heating up again, but much to his relief Jimin gives no indication that he felt anything.
All the same, Jungkook doesn’t breathe easily until they exit the elevator on the sixth floor. Out in the hallway there is a beat of awkward silence as they face each other. There’s a weird atmosphere around them that feels like the end of a date to Jungkook. It doesn’t help that Jimin swings his arm at the corridor leading to Controlling and smiles his bashful smile again. “I better get going, we have a lot of work.”
“Yes,” Jungkook replies stupidly, only belatedly remembering his manners and lowering his head into a short bow. “Thank you again for your help.”
“Not at all,” Jimin says warmly, waving him off. “Take care of yourself, Jungkook.”
Jungkook watches him stride down the hallway, heart tripping around in his chest, and promises himself he’ll work harder on his plan.
His plan works beautifully for the rest of Thursday and the entirety of Friday morning. Maybe by then Jungkook became complacent or maybe some higher force is conspiring against him, but whatever it is, when he enters the printer room to fetch his papers, Jimin is right there, bent over an open compartment. He’s facing away from the door but his red hair is a dead giveaway. For a second, Jungkook actually contemplates turning right around and loitering in the bathroom until Jimin is gone. Fate, however, isn’t on his side and Jimin cranes his head around before Jungkook can sneak back out.
“Oh, Jungkook, it’s you!” His smile washes over Jungkook like sunlight, making his belly tingle pleasantly.
“Jimin,” he greets back weakly.
Jimin has taken a step back from the printer and is frowning at it, hands on his hips. The pose unwittingly draws Jungkook’s attention to the way his slacks cling to his lower half in almost indecent ways. Jungkook tears his eyes away with difficulty. “I just don’t know what’s wrong with this thing,” Jimin complains. “It says there’s a paper jam in compartment C but I already checked it. Could you maybe take a look?” He turns the full force of his hopeful face on Jungkook.
“Ah, of course,” Jungkook presses out with the little bit of air left in his lungs so that it comes out as an almost-whisper. Trying to flee from the warm weight of Jimin’s gaze, he quickly steps over to the printer and shuts compartment C, lowering to his haunches to open compartment F instead. Silently, he pulls out the jammed sheet of paper, double-checks for missed pieces, and closes the plastic lid again. With a quick press of a button, the control lights begin winking rapidly, then the printer roars to life. When Jungkook turns around, Jimin is wearing a sheepish half-smile, watching him from dark eyes. “That... wasn’t compartment C.”
Jungkook presses the jammed paper into a messy ball. “Um, no. It has this weird bug where it always shows a paper jam in compartment F as one in C. You couldn’t have known.”
“Well,” Jimin says lightly, “thank you for your help. I never would’ve found this.” His eyes form pretty, glittering crescents when he laughs, Jungkook learns. “It seems that I always look like an idiot in front of you. Please don’t think too badly of me, okay?”
He thinks he is the one looking like an idiot? Incredulous, Jungkook flounders for an answer and blurts the first thing that comes to mind. “I don’t think badly of you at all!”
If it was possible for a person to glow, Jimin managed it. “Oh,” he says, his cheeks turning a charming pink. “That’s good to know.”
Jungkook’s stomach explodes in flutters. Uncertain how to deal with his own reaction, he turns to the printer that has finished spewing sheets and picks them up to sort apart his own and Jimin’s documents.
“Did it come out alright?” Jimin asks, suddenly much closer than before. Jungkook jerks in surprise, banging his knee against the printer with a loud crack. “Oh, I’m so sorry!”
“You surprised me,” Jungkook mutters, a hand over his racing heart, paper rustling under his fingers.
“I’m so sorry,” Jimin repeats, closing up to his side to hover a concerned hand over his arm without actually touching. “What a way to repay you. Are you alright?”
Embarrassed, Jungkook holds out one stack of papers to distract from his clumsiness. “I’m fine. These should be good now.”
“Thank you.” As soon as Jimin has taken the sheets from him, Jungkook hastily nods in his direction and turns to leave. “Ah, Jungkook!”
Jungkook freezes mid-step. “Yes?”
“I think these are your papers.”
A quick glance down at the documents in his own hand confirms that, yes, of course he’s holding Jimin’s printouts. Red-faced, he goes back to swap papers with Jimin, receiving a kind smile in the process that makes him flush all the more.
Then and there, Jungkook realizes that he’s been wrong. He doesn’t have it in hand. He is, in fact, screwed.
When he arrives back at his desk, panting and flustered, Hoseok stops his work to stare at him. “What the hell happened?”
Jungkook waves him off. “Nothing, don’t worry about it.”
“Jungkook,” Hoseok says, his mouth set in a stern frown. “You’ve been acting weird all week. Don’t tell me not to worry about it. What’s going on?”
Under the force of Hoseok’s displeased stare, Jungkook’s resolve crumbles and leaves him in a slumped heap on his desk. “Help me,” he whines pitifully.
Hoseok’s eyes grow big at the tone. “Jungkook,” he repeats, much gentler. “Please.”
“I can’t do the first aid training, Hoseok, I really can’t.”
“What? What happened? Did you faint?” Hoseok asks frantically, rising from his seat to hurry around to Jungkook’s side of their desks and stick his cold hand onto the sweaty back of Jungkook’s neck.
Jungkook squawks, pushing him off. “No!”
Hoseok swats at him before stroking the same hand comfortingly down his back. “Then what! What is it?”
“It’s Jimin,” Jungkook shamefully mumbles into his arms.
With his superhuman hearing, of course Hoseok hears him just fine. “Jimin?” he repeats so loudly that Jungkook flinches, imaging every head in the room swivelling around to them. “The new guy?”
“Yes…” Jungkook burrows more deeply into his arms but even then he can feel Hoseok bending close, breath hitting his ear in a concerned whisper.
“Is he bullying you?”
For a moment, Jungkook tries to imagine sweet, warm, angelic Jimin bullying anyone and comes up blank. “No, Hoseok. He’s just--” he tries to find the right words and fails, “--too much.”
Hoseok blinks, then realization slowly dawns on his face. “Ohhh! Oh, Kook, do you have a crush on him?” Thankfully for Jungkook’s battered dignity, his voice stays a low whisper.
“It’s so embarrassing!” Jungkook squirms. “He’s so nice and beautiful and I keep acting like a dumb idiot in front of him. I really can’t do this training with him, I’ll die!”
Rubbing his back, Hoseok gives a soothing hum. “Who would’ve thought I’d see the day when you’re all flustered about a crush?”
Jungkook grumbles unhappily, thoroughly tempted to flip him off if they weren’t in the middle of the office.
“What’s going on?” a new voice demands. “What’s wrong with Jungkook?”
Jungkook freezes. He knows that voice.
Before he can do more than jerk up his head, Hoseok is happily saying, “He has a crush on Jimin.”
Jungkook’s wide eyes meet his boss’ narrowed ones.
“Jimin?” Yoongi repeats, leaning his hip against the desk and crossing his arms. Jungkook slumps again; Yoongi won’t be leaving anytime soon. “That new kid Seokjin brought in?”
“The very one,” Hoseok announces proudly, still patting Jungkook’s back.
Yoongi sniffs. “He’s not very tall.” Jungkook eyes Yoongi’s tiny form incredulously. Yoongi ignores him.
“Hmph, Yoongi, he’s a very nice person,” Hoseok says chidingly.
“His hair is red,” Yoongi says, skillfully overlooking the fact that his own hair is styled in a bleach-blond undercut.
“Which looks very good on him.”
“He has piercings.”
Jungkook makes a weak sound. “Please don’t remind me.”
Yoongi’s eyes slide over to him, giving him a once-over. “Damn, kid,” he sighs, hiking his crossed arms a bit higher. “Alright. I’ll see what I can get out of Seokjin about this Jimin.”
Hoseok beams, thoroughly pleased.
Jungkook groans. “ Please don’t. I’ll go to Namjoon and ask him to find another volunteer for the training class and it’ll be fine.” The idea of Yoongi and Hoseok and Seokjin conspiring to set him up with Jimin sends a vague horror through him, images of cringe-worthy meddling and snickering coworkers dancing through his mind.
Yoongi and Hoseok exchange a look. “Well,” Yoongi says, pushing away from the desk to pat at Jungkook’s shoulder, “you do that, Jeon.” With that, he saunters off, leaving Jungkook with a sense of dread in his stomach.
On Monday morning, Jungkook takes the first possible opportunity to slip into Namjoon’s office, closing the door firmly behind himself.
Namjoon glances up from the file he’s reading. “Jungkook. What can I do for you?”
Jungkook takes a deep breath. “Namjoon, about volunteering for the first aid training last week… I would like to withdraw.”
There’s a short, pregnant pause, then Namjoon lowers the file folder. “Why is that?”
“I didn’t… think it through properly during the meeting,” Jungkook says hastily, fumbling through his sentence. “Actually, I’m very uneasy around blood so I’m really not a good person to receive the training. I think someone else would be a better choice.”
Namjoon smiles kindly. Pushing aside the folder and leaning forward, he drops his voice into a warmer, more personal tone. “Jungkook, while your concern about this matter is admirable, I don’t believe it’s as much of an issue as you think it is.”
Jungkook shifts in embarrassment. “I really can’t stand to see blood at all.”
“I’m very certain you’ll be fine.”
“Jungkook,” Namjoon says emphatically. “There won’t be any blood during the course. Trust me. If that is your only concern about being unable to receive the training, we don’t need to discuss it any further.”
Stubbornly, Jungkook inches forward a half-step. “What about afterwards? Aren’t the trainees supposed to take care of any injuries inside the office?”
Namjoon waves his hand. “Honestly it’s just a measure to conform to government regulations. We haven’t had any office injury more severe than paper cuts and stubbed does for thirty years. You don’t have to worry about that. If something really does happen, just let Jimin handle it and you go call the ambulance.”
Thoroughly outmaneuvered, Jungkook can only blink silently.
Namjoon picks up his folder. “Is there anything else?”
“I… no. No, nothing else.” He leaves the office, internally cursing all his stubborn coworkers and bosses. There goes another one of his plans.
Slinking back to his desk, he’s ready to bury himself alive in financial models in an attempt to keep Jimin out of his head when he looks up to see someone awkwardly hovering by his empty desk. A red-haired someone. Speak of the devil. Jungkook is sure he’d one day keel over from the way his heart starts tripping all over the place when Jimin is involved, even as he feels like he’s growing a few inches taller and a few pounds lighter at the same time.
Jimin spots him and smiles.
Try as he might, Jungkook can’t keep the corners of his mouth from turning up in response. “Are you waiting for me?” he asks when he reaches his desk.
“Yes,” Jimin replies and Jungkook wonders how someone could radiate such a glowing warmth with a single word. “Seokjin asked me to get your help for a project.”
“A project? What about?”
“Ah, wait, I’ve brought my notes.” Jimin pulls a sheet out of the folder he’s clutching and puts it on the desk so that they can both see. “We want to make a comparative analysis of marketing spending, CAC, CLV, and generated revenue for different market segments in which we’re active.” He bends forward to point at a diagram sketch, his shoulder lightly brushing Jungkook’s arm in the process, leaving Jungkook hyperaware of the tingling skin under his thin dress shirt. “To get as much data as possible, I will need your help to look at old investment targets as well.”
Since he’s distracted, it takes Jungkook a second longer than usual to process that, but then his analyst brain kicks back in and he bends forward to look at Jimin’s sheet as well, biting his lip. “That will be slow-going,” he remarks. “We’ll have to pick apart their calculations before we can use them. What’s the time frame for this?”
Jimin nods. “Yes, and figure out a way to display them in the table. If you have the time to spare, we could try to finish by the next department meeting.”
That is an incredibly ambitious timeline, but faced with Jimin’s hopeful face, Jungkook would rather swallow a box of pins than look like he can’t pull his own weight, so he nods back. “Sure.”
“Great!” Jimin straightens back up with a bright smile, clutching his notes. “Are you free this afternoon?”
Jungkook thinks of the vacation backlog he still hasn’t quite cleared and how his inbox tends to be nicely filled on Monday mornings. “Yes, of course.” He’ll just work extra quickly.
“Perfect, then I’ll come by at two. See you then, Jungkook!” With a cute wave, Jimin leaves for the hallway, leaving Jungkook standing by his desk in a daze, feeling a little as if the glowing smiles were still hovering in the air and dancing around his head. A second later, Hoseok arrives.
“I almost ran into Jimin just now,” he tells Jungkook, setting his backpack down and throwing his headphones onto the desk. In the middle of taking off his jacket, he stops and squints at Jungkook--still mutely standing next to his chair. “Are you… Ohhh, he was here for you, wasn’t he?”
Hoseok’s laugh shakes Jungkook out of his daze. He finally sits down to boot his laptop, throwing Hoseok a dark look. “It’s not funny.”
“It’s hilarious,” Hoseok grins. “You haven’t been this cute since you first came in and hid behind Taehyung during lunch.”
“I don’t want to be cute.” Miffed, Jungkook hacks his password into the keyboard. “I want to be impressive.”
“Hey, Kook.” Under the desk, Hoseok’s foot nudges his and when Jungkook looks up, Hoseok is wearing a gentle smile. “You are.”
His annoyance melts in a rush of affection. Jungkook hides his own smile and nudges back.
Jimin arrives three minutes before two, carefully balancing a mug of coffee, a folder, and his laptop. Deep in his frenzied attempt to diminish his work pile, Jungkook only notices his presence when Jimin carefully sets down his things, greeting Hoseok politely.
“Oh, Jimin, you’re here,” he blurts, a little disoriented at being pulled from his thoughts.
Jimin, attentive as usual, eyes him with a little wrinkle between his eyebrows. “Is it a good time? If you’re busy I can come back another time.”
“No, no!” Rubbing a hand over his hair to organize his thoughts (and make sure it was in place), Jungkook rolls back from the desk to grab an empty chair from the desk behind him, pushing it in position for Jimin. “Please sit.”
Clearly uncertain, Jimin perches gingerly on the edge of the chair as he watches Jungkook hastily rake in the papers strewn over the desk to make room. “That’s a lot of documents. Can I ask what you’re working on?”
“Er, just now I was looking at a small Japanese company...” He pushes the messy stack off to the side. “They built a speech recognition AI.”
“AI? Is that something we’re targeting?” Jimin asks, looking intrigued.
Jungkook feels a little warm under so much focused attention. “Well, it… is one of the big industry trends right now so we can’t afford to ignore it.”
“Very true.” He sounds vaguely amused.
“So, about the project… I’ve made a list of targets that we looked at in the last four years where we still have relevant data.” Jungkook pulls up the table he quickly compiled in the morning. “In some cases we had access to the data room so there is detailed information, but in many we only have a teaser or pitch deck to work with so there might not be a lot of usable information or it might be hard to follow how it’s calculated. Then there are some market reports that we could look at…” He trails off when he realizes Jimin is staring at him. “Is… something wrong?”
This time it’s Jimin who gets a bit pink-faced as he shakes his head, mouth curved gently. “No, not at all! You prepared really well.”
“That’s how he always is,” Hoseok pipes up across from them. “He can’t help it.”
Jungkook throws him a scandalized scowl. Next to him, Jimin is laughing, a beautiful cacophony of full-body giggles bubbling out behind the hand raised to his mouth, his eyes curved mirthfully. Stunned, Jungkook can only blink, helpless to the answering feeling dancing around in his own body, a tingling warmth filling his chest. He stares until Jimin faces him again, a smile lingering in the corners of his mouth, and only then does he pull himself together enough to focus back on their work.
It turns out that Jungkook forgets all about being awkward once he’s fully concentrated on their project, immersed in calculations and lines of data input, turning their approach over and over in his head to see where they can optimize and streamline. Working with Jimin is surprisingly easy; they have a similar rhythm and strategy, even as they bring up different ideas so that discussions are unusually productive. Two and a half hours pass by so quickly that when Jimin looks at his watch and yelps, Jungkook needs a second to process what time it is.
“I’m really sorry, Jungkook, we have a meeting with the Korea headquarters so I have to go,” Jimin tells him as he hastily collects his materials. His hair almost brushes Jungkook’s cheek when he bends forward to retrieve a wayward page of notes, giving Jungkook a whiff of something warm and spicy.
“It’s okay,” Jungkook manages, sounding only a little bit breathless.
Jimin straightens up. “So… the day after tomorrow? We have a workshop tomorrow but I could make nine o’clock on Wednesday.”
“Yes!” Cringing, Jungkook tries to reel in his enthusiasm to a professional level. “Yes, perfect.”
“Great.” Jimin smiles, taking a step toward the door. “Wednesday then. Okay… okay, I have to go. Have a good afternoon!”
He’s gone before Jungkook can do more than throw a greeting after him. Thankfully, this time around Hoseok keeps all comments to himself, although he pointedly directs his sparkly eyes at Jungkook over the top of their computer screens. Jungkook ignores him and turns back to his work.
He leaves late on Monday, comes early on Tuesday, and leaves late on Tuesday again. By the time Jimin comes over for their project work on Wednesday, Jungkook has been at work three hours and only barely remembered to return his four coffee mugs to the kitchen space before Jimin spots them. Jungkook doesn’t want to look like an unhealthy workaholic in front of him; he wants to look impressive by making sure his every contribution is as polished as it can get.
This time around, Jimin’s arrival doesn’t make him jump (which he counts as progress) but instead, Jimin’s work makes him googly-eyed and breathless. “I fiddled with the table a bit,” Jimin admits almost sheepishly as Jungkook stares at the simple elegance of the document that wasn’t there on Monday. That’s how Jungkook finds out that Jimin is fucking brilliant at his job, an Excel whisperer, a sorcerer of numbers. (“Jungkook,” he laughs when Jungkook goes from staring at the screen in wonder to staring at Jimin.)
From there on out, Jungkook starts to detect a pattern. Every time they meet, without fail, Jimin manages to catch him off guard in one way or another. One morning they schedule a project session at eight o’clock and Jimin brings a cup of iced americano from the coffee shop down the street for Jungkook--his favorite, even though Jungkook is sure he’s never said anything about his coffee preferences. The next time, Jimin casually asks him to have lunch together and Jungkook goes along expecting a discussion of something work-related, but instead Jimin asks about Jungkook’s time at college and his family, and from there they somehow end up discussing Jungkook’s struggling houseplant, vegan restaurants, and a podcast they both like. An hour passes by like nothing, leaving them to rush back to their department, cursing and laughing and panting. After that it’s an unexpected joke here, a snack left on Jungkook’s desk there, and they develop a rhythm that feels like they’ve been working together for years.
Two weeks after they first start on their analysis, when Jungkook is alone at the set of desks Jungkook shares with Hoseok writing an email to one of his consultant contacts, Jimin saunters in with his finger wrapped in a white band-aid. It stands out glaringly against the black plastic casing of his laptop, so Jungkook spots it from halfway across the room. Once his eyes have zeroed in on it, it’s impossible to tear them away; he sits frozen in his chair, tracking the advance of the band-aid until it stops right next to him, pausing over the computer lid as if about to push it open.
Sweat beads on Jungkook’s forehead. The band-aid looks so white and pristine except for the dark brown spot where it soaked up blood. Jungkook tries to look away but the more he tries, the more the world at the edges of his vision fades away, leaving only that dark stain with its frizzy halo of white tissue. He isn’t aware he’s swaying until the stain disappears and a hand steadies him against his shoulder.
“Jungkook, are you alright?”
It can’t be possible, but Jungkook thinks he feels the rough material of the band-aid through his shirt. His mind conjures up an image of blood slowly seeping into his shirt, right where Jimin’s bandaged finger presses into the flesh of his shoulder. Jungkook shivers violently.
“Hey… hey!” Jimin shakes him roughly and when Jungkook opens his eyes, he looks right down into Jimin’s worried face where he is crouched in front of Jungkook’s chair. One hand is still on Jungkook’s shoulder, the other is gently clamped around his knee. “Are you alright? Do you need a doctor?”
“‘m fine,” Jungkook wheezes, wildly relieved the band-aid is out of his sight which still has spots dancing in it.
“You’re white as a sheet.” Jimin reaches up the hand from his shoulder to press it against Jungkook’s forehead. “And cold.”
When Jungkook shakes his head to signal he’s alright, the band-aid scratches against his forehead. Repulsed, he jerks backwards so hard his chair bangs against the desk, knocking over a cup of pens and making Jimin cry out in surprise. “Shit, shit, I’m sorry! Sorry!” Jungkook babbles, scrabbling for purchase on the desktop and sending pens flying. Jimin is staring at him with wide eyes. “It’s--I’m--”
“What the hell is going on here?”
It’s Yoongi, his laptop bag slung over his shoulder, a black snapback looking incongruent with his suit-and-tie combo, clearly on the way to his office. Jungkook and Jimin both freeze, Jimin’s arm still comically hanging in midair. Jungkook’s heart is still racing in something like fear, but he manages to get enough breath into his lungs to apologize.
Yoongi briskly waves him off. “I don’t want apologies, I want to know what’s going on. You look like death warmed over, Jungkook.”
Frantically trying to think of an excuse for his sudden freak-out, Jungkook opens his mouth. His mind runs in circles, bringing up stupid details--the texture of the band-aid, the way it contrasts with Jimin’s skin, the oblong shape of the stain--and he closes his mouth again.
Jimin has lowered his arm and is wringing his hands together, his forehead furrowed. “I think he had some… kind of attack. He suddenly went pale and started shaking.”
Yoongi’s sharp eyes go from Jimin to Jungkook, assessing him. Under their weight, Jungkook shrinks and sighs, rubbing the side of his nose. “The band-aid,” he mutters with his gaze fixed on the tips of Jimin’s familiar black Oxfords. “I don’t… like blood.” There’s a sharp intake of breath and at the edge of his vision he can make out how Jimin curls one of his hands into a fist, hiding the white band-aid from view. “I’m sorry, it’s really stupid.”
Yoongi huffs. “Don’t be an idiot, Jeon. Everyone has a thing or two they’re afraid of. It’s only stupid to beat yourself up about something you can’t help. Jimin, give him some water or whatever, and let me know if he needs a break.” With that, he stomps away, abandoning them to a bubble of awkwardness.
In the silence that follows, Jungkook feels small and young. He doesn’t know what to do now that one thing he never wanted Jimin to discover is out in the open. He didn’t plan for it and he’s no good without a plan.
“It’s not stupid,” Jimin says in a low voice.
When Jungkook raises his eyes from the Oxfords, Jimin is staring at him intently. “What?” he asks dumbly.
“It’s not stupid,” Jimin repeats. “That you don’t like blood.”
It’s hard to think under the unwavering gaze, so Jungkook ends up shrugging mutely, an uncomfortable jerk of his shoulders.
Jimin chews on his bottom lip. “Why did you sign up for the first aid course, then?”
And there is another topic Jungkook doesn’t ever want to breach with Jimin. He feels his neck heating up and just knows that any second now he’ll be completely red in the face. “I wasn’t paying attention,” he says quickly, hoping that Jimin will take the blush as embarrassment over daydreaming through a meeting. Cautiously, he meets Jimin’s eyes.
There’s a beat of incredulous silence, then Jimin starts laughing, silently at first in a mute shaking fit, but then he takes a breath and the giggles peal out. He’s laughing so hard that he pitches forward and has to grip at the desk for balance, catching the chortles in his free hand. Jungkook can’t find it in himself to be offended even as Jimin laughs and laughs until tears form in his eyes. Finally, the fit tapers off with a pair of soft chuckles, leaving Jimin slumped sideways against the desk with his face about as red as Jungkook’s. “Sorry,” he says breathlessly. “You’re really cute.”
Jungkook doesn’t know what to say to that either, so he contents himself with ignoring both the statement and the renewed rush of blood to his face, inching forward with his chair instead. “Are you okay?”
“Are you okay?” Jimin pitches back teasingly.
“I’m fine,” Jungkook replies and this time he means it.
“Good.” Jimin stands up and shakes out his legs, casually sinking the bandaged hand into the pocket of his slacks. “Hey, Jungkookie. Don’t worry about the course, I’ll help you out.”
“Thank you,” Jungkook says warmly and then his mind gets stuck on the nickname and Jimin has to call him three times to get him to pay attention to their project.
In theory, having his secret out in the open and accepted so easily should have given Jungkook some measure of relief. What actually happens is that one kind of nervousness gets replaced with another. Sure, he and Jimin are closer now, with a link on a very personal level that wasn’t there before and that somehow makes every glance and smile feel more intimate than before. But apparently Jungkook’s subconscious decided that since there’s no need to worry about Jimin ridiculing him for his worst fear anymore, it can torture Jungkook with first aid class-related dreams.
It starts innocently enough: a reassuring hand on Jungkook’s arm when the lecture makes him queasy, a solicitous bottle of water pressed into his hands and the lingering pressure of fingers against his. It’s fine until Jungkook--in his usual effort to prepare himself--researches first aid and spends too many hours on Youtube, watching video tutorials with a kind of horrified fascination. From there it escalates into hands wandering his body under the premise of bandage training or testing the recovery position, to lips sliding over his skin during a snake bite simulation. And finally, of course, one night Jungkook wakes up soaked with sweat and aching from the classic fantasy about CPR turning into a make-out session, only that Jungkook’s mind thinks it’s awesome to picture that happening next to a pool while they’re both scantily clad and sopping wet.
The shadows under Jungkook’s eyes grow into full-blown panda eyes and Jimin, obviously worried, starts to bring him ginseng and vitamins as if Jungkook has aged forty years in the span of two weeks. Apparently he looks so pitiful that even Taehyung over in the controlling team catches wind of Jungkook’s sorry state and tries to help him out--which, coming from Taehyung, takes a very unique form, as Jungkook realizes one Wednesday morning.
“What the hell, Taehyung,” Jungkook says to his computer screen.
At his desk, Hoseok perks up. “What happened?”
“He... emailed me pick-up lines.”
“ What ?” With a puzzled from, Hoseok comes around the desk to look at the message. “Oh my God. ‘My love for you is like diarrhea--I just can’t hold it in’,” he reads out loud, choking with laughter at the end. “That’s horrible. Do people use these?”
“I hope not,” Jungkook mutters.
“‘Can I take your temperature? You’re looking hot today.’ Please.” Hoseok guffaws. “Man, how much time did he spend on this?”
“I don’t even want to know. He doesn’t expect me to use them, right?”
Hoseok purses his lips. “Knowing Taehyung…” At Jungkook’s noise of protest, he laughs again. “He’s probably just trying to give you a push. I think.”
Jungkook sighs aggressively, clicking the message away. “How does he even know about this?”
Jungkook turns to stare at Hoseok, who lifts his hands defensively.
“I honestly just wanted to help, okay?”
“By telling other people? What the hell!”
“No!” But Hoseok isn’t meeting his eyes, instead staring intently at his fingers as he mumbles, “By asking Tae to snoop a little bit and find out what your chances are.”
Jungkook doesn’t know whether to laugh or tear at his hair, so he stares some more. “Why does this feel like a bad high school romcom?”
Hoseok lowers his hands and sighs, all traces of humor gone. “Listen, Kook, you drink coffee like it’s water and you look like the zombie apocalypse is here and whenever Jimin walks by you sort of… strain after him as if he’s magnetic. It’s kind of adorable but it’s gone on long enough. Just do something about it, okay?”
There’s a surge of outrage in Jungkook that puffs him up for a moment, then dies as quickly as it appears, leaving him deflated into his office chair. Hoseok is right. It can’t go on like this, he has to do something. But accepting that unfortunately also means confronting the underlying issue that has powered his behavior for weeks now. “I don’t know how,” Jungkook admits in a small voice. “I have no idea what to do.”
In front of him, Hoseok makes a sympathetic noise and stoops to put a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. “You’re good at strategy. How about making a plan?”
“That’s the problem!” Jungkook bursts out. “I’m good at making plans but then he just comes by suddenly and all the plans go out the window. It just doesn’t work! He’s so… I don’t know, he just confuses me. I never know what to say or what to do.” Miserably, he slumps his head back against the backrest.
Hoseok pats him gently. “Well, look at it this way: Whatever you’re doing, it can’t be so wrong since he’s still coming to see you. You’ll figure it out.”
“I’m not sure that’s very helpful advice.”
As usual, Hoseok only laughs at him. “Cheer up, Kook. If it goes downhill, you can always use one of Tae’s pickup lines.” To the sound of Jungkook’s protesting squawk, Hoseok bounds back to his side of the desk.
Even though Jungkook banishes Taehyung’s email to the deep recesses of his inbox, his mind wanders back to it constantly. It taunts him, this reminder that he’s failed both to keep his crush from deepening and to scrunge up the courage to do something about it like asking Jimin out. If he was the protagonist of a book, Jungkook muses bitterly, it’d be the most boring story in existence because he just can’t bring himself to just do something--anything. He can’t even delete the stupid email. Every time he hovers over the delete button, a tiny, desperate part of his brain pipes up that maybe Taehyung’s idea isn’t so bad, maybe Jimin loves cringeworthy pick-up lines. Jungkook doesn’t really believe that, of course, but he still moves his cursor away and pulls his graphs back up without deleting the message.
He’s pathetic. He’s pathetic and distracted and tired, and so it’s no wonder that he hasn’t finished his assigned analysis by the time Hoseok gets up to turn off his desk lamp. The results are supposed to be in Yoongi’s inbox by the next morning, so Jungkook gives Hoseok a weary goodbye and hunkers back down to pore over the data.
A little before nine, Jungkook finally finishes and sends off his report before he can think twice about handing in such uncharacteristically sloppy work, but even then he stays slumped at his desk, designing lopsided cartoon versions of Jimin in his notebook. It feels like going home would be admitting defeat. Maybe if he thinks about the situation only a little bit longer, he’ll be able to figure out what to do and how to do it. Maybe enlightenment will come in a sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated moment of hallucination. Like this vision of Jimin standing in the doorway to Jungkook’s office, illuminated by a halo of hallway lights.
Jungkook starts, almost braining himself on his laptop when his elbow slips off the edge of his desk in surprise. Okay, maybe not a hallucination after all.
Jimin comes closer, one hand wrapped around the strap of a bag hanging off his shoulder. “I saw the light on. What’re you still doing here? It’s late.”
“Ah, just finishing something up,” Jungkook replies, hastily flipping his notebook shut to hide the doodles. Then his brain catches up and he realizes that Jimin has clearly also been working late. “What about you? You’re still here, too.”
Jimin laughs sheepishly, fiddling with the strap. “Yeah, finishing something up, too.” He smiles at Jungkook, all glowing and soft, and Jungkook can practically feel part of his brain evaporating.
Taking another few steps, Jimin stops right next to the corner of Jungkook’s desk where the light circle from the lamp meets the dark office space. His hair sparks with rust-colored flecks. “Will you be much longer?”
“Hm? Oh, no, I’m done, just shutting down now.” To prove his words, Jungkook turns away to click closed all his running programs, save his report, shut down the system. While his laptop whirs through the process, he shuffles his papers together, trying not to be hyperaware of Jimin so close to him in the silent office and failing spectacularly.
So he only jumps a little when Jimin shifts closer, leaning his hip against the desk and says, “You look tired, Jungkookie.” His voice wraps around Jungkook like a down blanket, gentle and warm.
“Yeah, didn’t sleep well last night,” Jungkook mutters, noisily adjusting a stack of documents to avoid looking at Jimin. Last night and the night before that and many nights before that.
“Oh. Is work stressful lately?”
“No, no, it’s fine, don’t worry.” There’s a stretching pause so Jungkook shrugs awkwardly. “Just a thought that kept going through my head.”
Jimin makes a sympathetic sound. “Those are nasty. Hey…” He shifts, hesitates for a second, then forges on. “If you ever want to talk about anything, let me know. Just--it can be helpful, right?”
That’s when the whirring of the computer dies down, leaving them in a resounding silence. There’s nothing for Jungkook to do but to look up at Jimin, so close that Jungkook would just have to stretch out his arm a bit and he could touch him. The expression on Jimin’s face is familiar, concern and sheepishness and something radiant, the one he always wears when he worries about Jungkook openly. Before, the answering explosion of breathless warmth in his chest always made Jungkook turn away in confusion, too much to deal with, too much to think through to know what to do. But this time, he’s too tired for thinking so he lets the wave of emotion rise up into a smile that feels too wide and a little bit drunk on his face. “Thank you.”
Jimin stares at him for a heartbeat, then he smiles back and something in his stance blooms open like a flower bud. “Anytime.”
Jungkook’s breath catches. Even though he swears Jimin didn’t even move, it feels like the earth has suddenly shifted him closer, like it’s gravity that makes Jungkook raise a hand to clasp Jimin’s fingers.The skin is warm and smooth. “Really, thank you so much.”
Jimin’s brows furrow, but he turns his wrist so that they’re holding hands. Tugging gently on Jungkook’s fingers, he bends forward to scrutinize him. “Are you really okay? You don’t have a fever or anything, right?”
Jungkook feels like his heart is bursting. The fingers wrapped around Jimin’s are tingling. “No. No, I just…” He shakes his head, trying to find words, and his swelling heart pushes them right out of his mouth. “You’re amazing,” he blurts.
That sends Jimin into a fit of giggles, but even as he raises his free hand to his mouth, he never lets go of Jungkook’s.
“No, really,” Jungkook tells him because he needs to say this. “You’re amazing. You’re the most incredible person I know. I’ve ever known.”
Jimin’s laughter wears off, leaving him staring at Jungkook in confusion and a bit of something else, something lighter. “Jungkook, what even... “
Jungkook surges to his feet, following the line of their linked hands until he is right in front of Jimin. His other hand shakily finds the curve of Jimin’s hip. “Jimin, I…” he tries. He really tries, but it’s no use, he’s just no good with talking in front of Jimin. His words fly out of his mind and leave him floundering.
But Jimin looks up at him and smiles, the melting, tender smile Jungkook likes best, and reaches up a hand to pull Jungkook down by the neck to kiss him. “Like this?” he asks when he pulls away, his eyes sparkly and teasing.
“Yeah,” Jungkook breathes, leaning in to chase his lips.
Jungkook finds that having Jimin laugh against his mouth is the most beautiful feeling in the whole world.
“Do you have an inhaler?” Jungkook whispers. “Because you took my breath away.”
Next to him, Jimin starts shaking in silent giggles, socking him in the thigh as punishment. It hurts a bit because Jimin is conscientious about his workout, but it’s worth it to see him try to keep silent as their first aid lecturer is droning on about the correct way to dress a minor wound at the front of the room.
It turns out that Jungkook didn’t need a plan--or words--to finally release himself from misery, accept his helpless crush on Jimin, and move one step closer to happily-ever-after. He didn’t even need to do much, really, since Jimin took over most of the actual doing. Three weeks later, Jungkook still isn’t entirely sure how to feel about that, but he is very sure that he’s luckier than he deserves to be that Jimin actually likes him back. On most days he’s still in awe that he got to this point. The feeling usually translates into what their coworkers call “gross shit.” Jimin turns shy when they say that, but Jungkook thinks they’ve brought it on themselves with their meddling.
It also turns out that the copious amounts of research Jungkook put into the first aid class make him very bored during the actual lecture. They’re halfway into the morning part of their full-day training and he hasn’t heard anything he didn’t already know from YouTube. “Are you my appendix?” he mutters to Jimin. “I have a gut feeling I should take you out.”
There is a squeaking sound before Jimin can fully silence his burst of laughter. The woman next to Jungkook turns to glare, but he’s too focused on evading Jimin’s punishing pinch to pay her much heed.
It finally turns out that against all expectations, Taehyung’s pick-up lines are good for something. Not only are they useful in distracting Jungkook from the thought of blood for the duration of the class, but Jimin seems to actually have a love for cringeworthy pick-up lines after all--when Jungkook tells them to make him laugh.
Jungkook leans in close enough that his nose brushes Jimin’s red hair. “You’d better be a cardiologist because something about you makes me want to give you my heart.”
(He’s prepared for the elbow Jimin digs into his ribs.)