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Before I Fall

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Seokjin’s tired of not being taken seriously.

He knows he doesn’t look like a typical scientist. Tall, broad, and handsome, he looks out of place in a lab. But still. He’s tired of the flicker of surprise in people’s eyes when he tells them he’s with the kaiju science division. He’s earned his place here, dammit. He didn’t work his ass off to join the Pan-Pacific Defence Corps—or PPDC—and moved from Seoul to Hong Kong, away from his family and friends to be side eyed like this.

Sometimes he attracts a different kind of attention, too. He’s not surprised when Jisoo, his colleague, tells him about the group of rangers that’s been purposely going to Medical—located right across their labs—all week just to get a glimpse of him. Or her, she quickly amends, and Seokjin believes her, because Jisoo is gorgeous—and she gets more flak than he does for being a scientist, because she’s also a woman.

“One of them seems to really want to get to know you, though,” she tells him one day, when they hear  the telltale sounds of the rangers walking down the corridors again. They’re always loud, for some reason. “He’d asked me about you.”

Seokjin hums indifferently as he squints at his reports. “Mm.”

Jisoo sighs. “Well, I’m just saying, oppa. He’s really cute too.”

Seokjin doesn’t bother to respond this time, so Jisoo just huffs and drops the subject. They say nothing more about it until a week later, when Seokjin’s working late at his office. He passes his pigeon hole and blinks when he sees someone’s stuffed a paper bag into it.

Inside the paper bag is a can of coffee, the type he likes, and some Korean snacks that he’d mentioned to Jisoo and some of their friends that he’d missed eating. He frowns, wondering who’s left it for him, and figures it must be Jisoo. She’s the only other Korean in the lab besides him, anyway.

He asks her about it the next morning, and she gives him a strange look. “That wasn’t me,” she says. “Sweet of them though, whoever left it for you.”

Seokjin frowns but drops the subject, figuring it’s a one time thing.

But the care packages—as Jisoo had taken to calling them—keep coming. On the fifth day, curiosity gets the better of him. The care packages usually arrive when he’s working late, sometime after dinner at 8pm and before he usually emerges at 10pm to go to the bathroom. That night, he takes a seat by the door, half listening for the sound of someone coming down the hallway.

His patience is rewarded at 9pm when he hears the sound of footsteps. Poking his head around the door, he sees a man walk past the pigeon holes and drop a paper bag inside his before turning to walk away, only to stop when he sees Seokjin. “Oh,” is all he says, eyes widening.

“So it’s you,” Seokjin notes, taking in the man’s diminutive figure. He must be one of the rangers, except Seokjin’s never bothered to learn their names. He’s not sure if this is the same one who’s been asking Jisoo about him, but he figures it must be if he’s the one coming down to the labs to leave him stuff. And she’s right, he’s actually kinda cute—pale skin, lips that look startlingly pink and soft, even from this distance. Huh.

Seokjin steps towards him, and the ranger blinks, looking like a wild animal that's been cornered. “So you’ve been leaving me all those stuff?” he asks in English.

The man cocks an eyebrow, posture relaxing. “Well, yeah,” he says in Korean, an unspoken duh at the end of his sentence. “I-I thought it might help with the late nights.”

So he’s Korean too , Seokjin thinks, and smiles. “It did, thank you,” he says, switching back to his native language. He tilts his head to the side. “I see you down here a lot. You and your ranger friends seem to be in Medical most of the time.”

The man’s cheeks turn a little pink. “I. Yeah. Some of my friends have a crush on your colleague, so…they’re always coming by, wanting to see her. Jisoo, I think?”

“And you?” Seokjin can’t help but ask, the grin on his face widening when he sees his cheeks turn redder. “You like her too?”

The man sputters. “What-? No! I’m just…there. I guess. I mean,” he shifts nervously. “I mean it’s kinda obvious right? It’s your pigeonhole I’ve been leaving stuff in, not hers. I wanted to talk to you earlier, I swear. But Jisoo told me you didn’t really like all the attention from the rangers, so I thought I’ll try something different.”

Seokjin hums thoughtfully. “You could have just talked to me,” he says. “None of the rangers ever came to talk to me, or Jisoo for the matter. How did you know I wouldn’t have wanted to speak with you?”

The man grimaces and looks down, toeing the ground nervously. “I’m not…I’m not really good at talking to people,” he admits. “And whenever we came by, you just look so…cross.”

Seokjin sighs. “You will be too if a whole group of people came by your workplace just to ogle you and your colleague,” he points out. “And this might sound a little arrogant, but it’s hard enough for Jisoo and me to convince the other staff we’re scientists here as it is. So you might understand why I don’t care for people giving me attention just because they find me good looking.”

The man looks stricken at his words. “Shit—that’s not why I came by—I mean—not that you aren’t good looking,” he begins, then his shoulders slump, and he sighs. “I’m sorry,” he says honestly, finally meeting Seokjin’s gaze. “I didn’t think about it that way. I’m sorry we were disturbing you while you’re working. I’ll tell my friends not to come by again.”

He looks so apologetic, so worried that Seokjin has to smile, softening his tone as he replies. “I know you didn’t mean harm. And I really appreciate all the care packs. How did you even find out what I like?”

The man looks a little uncertain as he replies. “I asked Jisoo. I see you working late a lot, on my way back to my room, and since I just arrived from Korea a week ago I still have tons of the Korean snacks you apparently liked.” He shrugs, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “And I see the same coffee on your desk every time I passed. So. Yeah.”

Seokjin nods slowly. “Thank you,” he says sincerely. Then he grins. “It’s late now, so I wouldn’t ask you to stay. But if you are free, and if you want to, you can drop by the lab to talk to me. I don’t know any other Korean here besides Jisoo. I’m quite sick of her, to be honest.”

The man blinks at him. “Really?” he asks, and then smiles. “I’ll like that.”

Seokjin grins back. “So, what’s your name?” he prompts. “I mean, I’m pretty sure you already know mine, but I don’t know yours.”

The man winces. “Oh, sorry,” he apologises, before he sticks out his hand for Seokjin to shake.

“Min Yoongi. I’m the co-pilot of Agust D.”

 

________________

 

It takes Yoongi nearly a month to finally ask Seokjin out after their first meeting. To be honest, it wasn’t as if Seokjin had played particularly hard to get. The moment Yoongi suggested they go to his favourite dim sum restaurant for dinner in Kowloon, Seokjin had agreed easily enough. It’s only afterwards did he pause to wonder how Yoongi managed to find out the name of his favourite restaurant.

(He later learned that Yoongi had asked Jisoo where Seokjin liked to go when he wasn’t in the Shatterdome, so he supposed he’ll have to thank her for that, along with everything else.)

But then Seokjin must have the worst luck in the world or something, because when the day of their first date rolls around, the alarms start blaring in the Shatterdome. A kaiju attack. It’s a category 2, codenamed Onibaba, and Yoongi and his copilot were to be deployed.

This is Agust D’s second deployment, her first since her relocation to the Hong Kong Shatterdome. Her pilots take it down within an hour before it even sets foot past the miracle mile, named because it takes a miracle to stop a kaiju after it has crossed that 10-mile perimeter. Meanwhile, Seokjin waits in LOCCENT, the command center of the Shatterdome, watches the feeds of the battle coming onto their holographic screens from the Jumphawks circling around the site of the battle, from amateur footage filmed shakily from a distance away. When the kaiju finally falls, and the Marshal calls for extraction, he makes his way to Medical, knowing that’s where Yoongi and his copilot will be shepherded to when they arrive.

Sure enough, the two rangers walk into Medical twenty minutes later, both looking extremely resigned. They both seem unhurt—the fight had been pretty straightforward, even to Seokjin’s untrained eyes. The post-mission medical checkup had always been more of a formality than a necessity.

It’s Yoongi’s copilot who spots him first, and his face lights up in recognition even though they’ve never met—probably because he had shared memories with Yoongi through the Drift, Seokjin’s brain supplies. “Hello,” he greets. “You must be Seokjin hyung—can I call you hyung?”

“Of course,” Seokjin replies, taken aback by the familiarity in the way Namjoon is talking to him. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think we’ve met. You are…?” He glances towards Yoongi for help.

“Ah, I’m sorry. My name is Namjoon,” he sticks out his hand for Seokjin to shake. “Yoongi’s copilot, as you’ve probably figured out.” He leans in, a conspiratorial grin on his face. “Glad to finally meet you in person, hyung. I’ve heard a lot about you from Yoongi.”

Seokjin blinks rapidly and glances at Yoongi again, whose normally pale skin is now flushed. “Hey, the ranger code!” he barks, aiming a punch at Namjoon’s shoulder.

Namjoon dodges and laughs. “Sorry, Seokjin. He didn’t exactly tell me anything about you. But there are no secrets in the Drift, you know. And he hasn’t stopped thinking about you since the first time you two met, so—”

He yelps when Yoongi punches him again. “Go away,” he threatens. “Before I spill something of yours. You seem to forget that the Drift is a two-way connection.”

Namjoon sighs. “You’re no fun,” he complains, before he turns towards one of the rooms, presumably for his check up.

Yoongi waits till the door has closed behind Namjoon before he turns to look at Seokjin. “Sorry,” he mumbles, his face still tinted pink. “Don’t take it too seriously. He’s just teasing me.”

“He seems nice,” Seokjin says honestly. “How did you two meet?”

Yoongi takes a seat on the couch, and pats the space next to him for Seokjin to sit. “We applied to the academy together,” he explains. “Tested compatible almost right away.”

Seokjin hums. “Sounds like you two knew each other for a long time.”

Yoongi nods. “He’s my best friend. We’ve known each other for ten years.” He pauses, a small frown on his face. “Listen…I’m sorry.”

Seokjin raises an eyebrow, turning to face him. “What for?” he asks, puzzled.

Yoongi eyes him, looking confused that Seokjin didn’t seem to get it. “For cancelling on you,” he elaborates. “I’m sorry.”

“Ah,” Seokjin says, understanding. He shakes his head.“Oh, Yoongi. You shouldn’t have to apologise for that. It’s fine.”

Instead of reassured, Yoongi looks even more worried. “It was supposed to be our first date, though.”

Seokjin rolls his eyes as as an amused smile plays over his face. “What, like it’s your fault a kaiju decided to swim out of the Mariana Trench and come for Hong Kong port?” He teases, before reaching out to lay a gentle hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Yoongi-yah. We can always reschedule.”

Yoongi sighs. “I know. It’s just…” he pauses, ducking his head as though embarrassed.

“Just what?” Seokjin prods, voice gentle.

Yoongi bites his lower lip, still refusing to meet Seokjin’s gaze. “Just that I was looking forward to going out with you,” he admits in a rush. The pink tint in back in his cheeks, and Seokjin has to fight back a squeal because wow, cute .

“Are you doing anything later?” He blurts.

Yoongi blinks, raising an eyebrow. “No,” he says, somewhat hesitantly. “Why? Don’t you have to go to the lab?”

Seokjin thinks about the kaiju parts currently being transported from where the kaiju fell in Hong Kong bay to his lab and gives a mental sigh. “I do,” he admits reluctantly. “But I was thinking…maybe you’ll like to join me? I’ll try and finish up early so we can grab a meal together in the mess hall, or something. That is, if you want too?” He finishes a little uncertainly. Was he coming on too strong? Inviting Yoongi into his lab—his safe space, his haven—is a big deal. Then again, Yoongi’s a ranger, so he might not have fully understood the implications of such an invite. Not the way Jisoo would have—oh god, Jisoo . He can imagine the smug grin she’ll give him if he brings Yoongi to their lab.

Seokjin sneaks a glance at Yoongi, and can’t help but feel relieved when he sees a grin break out across his face. “Are you kidding?” he asks, somewhat incredulously. “Of course I don’t mind.” He gets to his feet and sticks out a hand. “Come on, let’s go.”

Seokjin blinks at Yoongi, then looks down at his proffered hand, presumably for Seokjin to take. “But you haven’t had your check up yet,” he points out, somewhat stupidly.

Yoongi cocks an eyebrow. “Exactly. So let’s get out of here before Namjoon is done.”

Seokjin narrows his eyes as he catches on, crossing his arms across his chest. “Nice try, Yoongi,” he says, deadpan. “But you’re getting a check up. I don’t care if you think you’re okay. No checkup, no date .”

Yoongi pouts, and shit if that isn’t the cutest thing Seokjin has ever seen. “I swear I’m fine,” he complains, even as he slouches back down onto the couch next to Seokjin. “It was an easy kill. And I’m the hero of the hour, you should be on my side.”

Seokjin looks pointedly towards the room Namjoon is currently occupying. “So is he, and he's getting his check up.”

Yoongi sighs but falls silent, sinking back into the couch in defeat.

The check up doesn’t even take long. By the time twenty minutes have passed both Namjoon and Yoongi are done. Namjoon bids them goodbye, says he's heading to his room to catch a nap. “You two going on a date then?” he grins, waggling his eyebrows.

Yoongi looks unimpressed. “I’m going to do my part for the Kaiju science division,” he says primly. “We’re gonna be dissecting Onibaba, you know. Important, PPDC related stuff.”

Namjoon’s mouth falls open. “Your first date is a kaiju autopsy?” he says disbelievingly.

“Guts and blood are surprisingly romantic,” Seokjin tells him blithely. “See you around.”

They walk away before Namjoon can respond. The moment they’re out of earshot, Yoongi turns towards Seokjin. “Uh, just how much blood and guts are we talking?”

Seokjin laughs. “Don’t worry, I won’t be doing much of the gory stuff today, if you’re worried.”

Yoongi sputters. “W-what? No, I’m good. I don’t want to get in the way of your work, or anything. If it’s a bother, we can do another day—”

Still grinning, Seokjin reaches out to take Yoongi’s hand, a move which immediately shuts him up. “What, and deny the hero of the hour the date he wants?” he says teasingly. “Don’t worry, I’m not letting you off that easy. You’re gonna get up close and personal with a kaiju in ways you wished you never had to. ”

Yoongi glances down at their joined hands and looks back up at Seokjin, a shy smile on his face. “If you insist.”

Jisoo does indeed give Seokjin a smug grin when he enters their office with Yoongi, hand in hand. However, when she realises that Yoongi would be joining today’s post battle autopsy, she redirects Seokjin to a more quiet corner of their lab.

“You’ll be using the K Scanner,” she announces, slapping the machine with one gloved hand. “I’ll do the dirty work today. You can thank me later, Dr Kim.” She grins at Yoongi. “Nice job today, ranger.”

“Thank you,” Yoongi smiles politely. Before the two of them had set foot into the labs, they had to gown up—gloves, masks, the works. It’s a little awkward to talk and move in, but a necessary precaution. “So what will you be doing?” he queries, turning to Seokjin.

Seokjin points to the glass cylinders—preservation receptacles—stacked neatly on a cart next to him, each carrying a piece of kaiju tissue. “Easy stuff. I’ll just have to cut them up and put them through the scanner, then report on what I find.”

Yoongi eyes the jars warily. “Right. So uh, what will I be doing?”

In retrospect, maybe asking Yoongi to join him wasn’t such a good idea after all, since he seems to have a pretty poor tolerance for kaiju guts. Still, he only yells once, when the kaiju gland he’s holding slips out of his hand and lands on the floor. Seokjin would have finished this much faster if Yoongi hadn’t been hovering, eager to help, but it’s endearing watching the way Yoongi handles all the kaiju organs they had managed to salvage with a strange mix of determination and revulsion on his face.

“I think I prefer them alive,” he mumbles when they finish analysing the last organ—a piece of the kaiju’s stomach.

Seokjin laughs. “You’ve worked hard,” he grins. “Thanks for your help, Yoongi-yah.”

Yoongi looks a him and smiles. “I enjoyed myself,” he admits. “Even though you made me hold a kaiju eyeball.”

Seokjin shrugs, gesturing for Yoongi to walk out of the lab. “I did promise a really personal time with the kaiju,” he points out. “So, where to?”

Yoongi glances back at the lab. “Don’t you have to finish your report?” he asks.

Seokjin shakes his head. “That can wait. I think we’ve spent enough time in the lab. You hungry?”

Yoongi’s stomach gives an embarrassing rumble at his words, which is affirmation enough. Seokjin grins. “So, the mess hall then?”

Yoongi ducks his head. “Actually, I was thinking we go somewhere else after. Follow me.”

They head to the mess hall first, and Seokjin raises his eyebrows when Yoongi asks the staff to pack the food for them. Food isn’t allowed to be consumed anywhere else in the Shatterdome. Yoongi just flashes him a smug grin. “They like me,” he shrugs. “Ready?”

Seokjin’s not sure where Yoongi’s leading him until they enter the repair bay, to the gantry in front of Agust D, and he quickly catches on. From here, they have a unobstructed view of all 260ft of Agust D, tall and majestic. He immediately understands without Yoongi having to say, that this place had become a form of sanctuary to him. “You come here a lot?” he asks softly.

Yoongi nods. “Sometimes the room they gave me…it feels too small.” He gives Seokjin an embarrassed grin. “Besides, it’s a little hard being away from her. The scientists told me it’s normal to feel the loss of the neural connection when we first started Drifting. And I’ve only jockeyed with her twice. It still takes some getting used too.”

Seokjin nods, moves towards the gantry to take a better look. It’s the first time he’d seen Agust D up close. Her colour scheme seemed to favour black and red, and if he squints he can make out her name painted across the hull. “You named her, didn’t you?” he asks.

Yoongi nods. “Namjoon and I both came up with names, and we let our maintenance crew take a vote. Agust D won by a vote. He’s still salty about that.” He grins, then gestures to the food. “Shall we?”

They eat their dinner on the gantry, watching as the technicians run tests on the Jaeger, fixing it up after its skirmish with Onibaba earlier today. They remove the hull at one point, and Seokjin gets a glimpse of the reactor turbine that powers the Jaeger.

“Her heart,” Yoongi says, noticing where he’s looking at. “That’s what Namjoon and I call it, anyway. She’s gorgeous, isn't she? Best looking Jaeger in this Shatterdome.”

Seokjin laughs. “You’re biased.”

Yoongi grins at him. “Maybe, but it’s true.”

It’s a little chilly there on the gantry, so Yoongi shifts closer till they’re pressed shoulder to shoulder, watching as one of the technicians crawl into the gap of Agust D’s hull with a welding torch. Yoongi’s hand finds Seokjin’s, and he interlaces their fingers together just as he fights back a yawn.

“Tired?” Seokjin asks, turning to look at him.

“A little,” Yoongi yawns again. “Did kill a kaiju today, after all.”

Seokjin chuckles. “Maybe you should get some rest.”

Yoongi sighs and presses closer. “Don’t wanna go. You’re warm.”

Seokjin snorts. “Trust me, you’ll find your bed more comfortable. Let’s go, I’ll walk you back.”

Yoongi whines when Seokjin pulls away, but gets to his feet after some prompting. They walk back to Yoongi’s room leisurely, hand in hand.

“Are you going to bed too?” Yoongi asks when they’re outside his room.

In reality, Seokjin has stay up at the lab to finish his report, but he doesn’t say it, just nods. “After I make sure you go to bed,” he says, grinning in amusement when Yoongi yawns again, eyes scrunching as he did so. “Thanks for the date. I really enjoyed it.”

Yoongi sighs and shoots him a sheepish smile. “You’re welcome. I enjoyed it too. I’m just sorry I couldn’t take you out.”

Seokjin shrugs, not missing the way Yoongi takes a tentative step closer towards him. “It was still a great date,” he says. “A kaiju autopsy and a dinner with a Jaeger? I think our next date won’t be able to top this.”

Yoongi’s smile widens. “So we’re going on another date?”

“Sure. I’ll let you plan that one, since I took over today’s date.”

“Deal.” Yoongi’s so close now Seokjin’s sure he can count his eyelashes. “By the way,” he begins, and Seokjin doesn’t miss the way his eyes dart towards his lips. “As the hero of the hour, do you think I can ask for another something?”

Seokjin raises an eyebrow. “Something else? God, you’re cocky. What else could you possibly want?”

Yoongi doesn’t answer, just gives him an impish grin, and when he tilts his head up, leans in to press their lips together, Seokjin bends to meet him halfway.

He learns that night that Yoongi’s lips are indeed as soft as they looked.

 

________________

 

Seokjin and Yoongi have been together for about a year and a half when the Category IV kaiju Hundun attacks Manila. It’s a two Jaeger drop, with Agust D fighting alongside another Jaeger called Cypher Five. The alarms start blaring at 5am, and Seokjin doesn’t go back to sleep after that, shivering in his pajamas and a jacket at LOCCENT as he nurses a cup of coffee, watching choppy footage of the battle, the tinny sounds of the roaring kaiju and the screeching of metal filtering through the speakers.

Jisoo finds him there an hour or so later, when the sun has risen. “Knew you’ll be here,” she sighs. Seokjin doesn’t respond. The kaiju is weakening now, according to the Marshal, and it looks as if it’s gonna be another victory for the two Jaegers. But Seokjin knows he’s not going to relax until Yoongi’s safe and sound in his arms. “Have you been awake all this time?”

Seokjin hums, rubbing at his eyes. He’s so tired, but the two cups of coffee he’s downed had helped. “Don’t think I would have been able to sleep anyway,” he admits, knowing worry will just override whatever exhaustion he’s feeling.

Jisoo eyes him, concerned, but before she can say anything, there’s a loud roar from the watching staff. Seokjin’s head whips back to look at the monitors, heart in his throat as the dust from the battle settles. His shoulder sag in relief when he sees Agust D standing upright, the Jumphawks circling it like some kind of herald welcoming a hero home after war. “He’s okay. They’re okay,” he breathes.

It never gets easier every time. No matter how many times he’d seen Yoongi walk out of a battle, there’s always the heart stopping moment after the confusion of the battle fades. Yoongi had taken down three kaiju before Hundun. Three didn’t seem like a big number. But to Seokjin, it felt like three too many.

Jisoo manages to convince him to go wash up and get some breakfast after that, pointing out that it would be a while before Yoongi’s back anyway. It’s only after he’s gotten properly dressed and had eaten something does she permit him to head to Scramble Alley to meet Yoongi. There’s loud cheering when he enters with Jisoo. Both Namjoon and Yoongi are surrounded by their crew, engineers, technicians—but Yoongi’s eyes find his almost immediately, and a bright, gummy smile appears over his face.

Seokjin runs to hug him, uncaring of whoever’s watching as he throws his arms around Yoongi. “Hey,” he says, voice muffled from where his face is buried into Yoongi’s neck, the relief in his voice palpable even so.

“Hey,” Yoongi says, turning his head to press a kiss to Seokjin’s face. “I’m good.”

Seokjin pulls away, a small smile on his face as he reaches out to lace his fingers with Yoongi. “Let’s go,” he says. “You should rest.” He sees Yoongi’s raised eyebrow and sighs. “Fine, or get something to eat,” he amends, knowing the adrenaline from the battle prevented Yoongi from feeling tired right away after a fight.

“Going so soon?” Namjoon asks suddenly, pressing himself between the two of them. He turns to Yoongi and raises an eyebrow. “Don’t you have something you wanted to do first?”

Seokjin’s brow furrows in confusion as he looks at Yoongi. “What?”

Yoongi frowns. “Not here, Namjoon. Shut up.” He turns to Seokjin. “Can we get some food and go eat in the repair bay?”

Seokjin laughs. “Sure. Go get out of your suit. I’ll bring the food.”

Technically, food still wasn’t supposed to be brought out of the mess hall, but the kitchen staff had also taken a liking to Seokjin too. He manages to sneak out something, and makes his way to the repair bay. The repair bay is a good ten minutes away from the mess hall, which should give Yoongi plenty of time to get changed.

So Seokjin’s a little surprised when he walks into the gantry only to see Yoongi leaning against the railing, still in his flightsuit. He’s taken off the hard outer layer at least, but Seokjin knows the inner suit, with its array of synaptic processors, isn't the most comfortable. He’s surprised that Agust D’s crew even let Yoongi out of the suiting area without changing.

“What are you doing?” He asks exasperatedly. “I thought I told you to change—”

Seokjin cuts himself off, eyes widening in disbelief as Yoongi drops to one knee, pulling a ring out of a hidden pocket in his flight suit.

For the first time in his life, Kim Seokjin, owner of three doctorates, one of the brightest scientists in the PPDC’s kaiju science division, is rendered speechless.

“Seokjin,” Yoongi begins, eyes unwavering as he stares at him. “I wasn’t planning to do to this under such circumstances, but—”

There’s a low curse and a mutter of “stop veering off the script, goddamnit!” that sounds like Namjoon. Seokjin has a vague suspicion that he’s actually eavesdropping from under the gantry, and has a feeling that he isn’t alone, either. Right now though, he couldn’t care less.

“Yes!” he blurts right away. He thinks he’s dropped their dinner. He doesn’t care. “God, Yoongi. Of course it’s yes.”

“What?” someone calls out, and it’s definitely Namjoon, and Seokjin is definitely going to kill him when this is over. “Don’t give into him so easily, hyung!”

Seokjin ignores him, bends so that he’s also kneeling on the ground before Yoongi. Seokjin has never seen Yoongi smile so wide, or seen such unsaturated adoration on his face, but his voice is teasing when he says, “Can’t say I’m not happy you’re saying yes, but I spent ages memorising this speech, so let me finish, okay?” He reaches out, pulls Seokjin’s hands into his, the cool metal of the ring pressing onto the back of Seokjin’s hand.

Seokjin nods, even as he feels the telltale prickle of tears in his eyes. “Sure,” he sniffs.

Yoongi smiles, reaches out to thumb away a tear that’s starting to make its way down Seokjin’s cheek. “Kim Seokjin,” he begins, voice so quiet Seokjin has to lean in to hear. “For one and a half years, I’ve put up with your dumb ass coming back into our apartment smelling like kaiju guts and blood, and for one and a half years you’ve put up with the…unpredictable hours of my job.” Seokjin lets out a giggle at that, high-pitched and shaky.

“I know,” Yoongi continues, voice even quieter now. “That’s it not easy. Being with me, I mean. All the worrying. But you made me—you’ve made me really happy over the past year. And I’m pretty sure you felt the same way.” He pauses, a small smile on his face as he continues to look at Seokjin. “So, Seokjin,” he drawls. “Will you marry me?”

Seokjin sniffs, manages to choke out a yes, of course I'll marry you before Yoongi’s pulling him in closer for a kiss. Vaguely, Seokjin thinks he can hear what must be half the Shatterdome cheering but all he can really focus on is the man in his arms.

“I love you,” he breathes, when they finally part, when Yoongi takes the opportunity to slide the ring onto Seokjin’s finger.

Yoongi smiles back, gentle and soft, his expression a mirror of the joy Seokjin feels in his heart. “I love you too, “ he says back, and for the moment, everything is perfect.

 

________________

 

Two things happen in the next year.

One, Seokjin and Yoongi get married. They hold their wedding in Seoul, so their families could be with them, and have a small dinner with their friends from the Hong Kong Shatterdome when they return. Both celebrations were low key affairs, and Seokjin had never been happier.

Second, humanity starts losing. The rangers start dying, the kaiju starts learning. They come through the Breach more frequently now, each more deadly than the previous. And Yoongi gets deployed more often, the easy, cocky grins that preceded each battle fading, becoming something darker, more weary.

They’re learning, they’re adapting to us, Seokjin , Jisoo tells him worriedly. It’s like they know. How would they know the weaknesses of a Jaeger? How would they know where the rangers are? Who’s telling them all these?

Seokjin doesn’t know how to answer.

________________

 

It only gets worse. They lose more and more rangers. Suddenly the PPDC is no longer heralded as humanity’s saviour. Nobody could say the Jaegers were winning anymore, even if they did manage to put the kaiju down each time. Their losses were simply too great.

And with this worrying change in the tide of the kaiju war, Seokjin himself has come to note the change in Yoongi’s attitude, has come to catalogue Yoongi’s post battle emotions into three types.

Some nights Yoongi comes back home and breaks down in Seokjin’s arms. Seokjin will hold him, let Yoongi’s tears stain his shirt until Yoongi falls asleep. It usually happens when they lose a ranger, when another Jaeger goes down. Some nights Yoongi is quiet and surly, eyes staring at something in the distance that Seokjin will never see. On those days he’ll back off, give Yoongi his space, until Yoongi is ready to talk about it, pulling Seokjin into his arms and whispering an apology into his skin.

Some nights Yoongi will crawl into their bed and kiss Seokjin with a ferocity that’s almost desperate, hands slipping under Seokjin’s shirt, touching him like he’s seeking reassurance in their intimacy. They barely say anything, but Seokjin always knows right away what Yoongi is asking for, and he gives it quietly. The sex is always slow then, gentle, Yoongi fucking into him with measured, shallow thrusts, like they almost have the luxury of time, hands interlaced in the sheets by Seokjin’s head. 

“I’m sorry I missed dinner,” Yoongi whispers one night after they’re done. It’s nearly 3am. The kaiju attack came at about 7pm, which was when Seokjin and Yoongi were supposed to leave the Shatterdome for their dinner reservation. Seokjin had been looking forward to it the whole week, a welcome respite from the dull walls of his lab, the feeling of too many people and the ever present burden of humanity bearing down on them. He had been looking forward to an evening with just him and Yoongi. Nothing but the two of them, just like any other civilian couple on a date.

But once again, they had been unlucky.

In spite of himself, Seokjin smiles. “What, like it’s your fault a category 4 crawled out of the Breach and came for Hong Kong?” he murmurs, voice low and teasing.

Yoongi snorts, even as he snuggles closer to Seokjin. “I’ll make it up to you,” he murmurs back.

Seokjin hums, runs a gentle hair through Yoongi’s hair. “Breakfast tomorrow?”

Yoongi wrinkles his nose. “I was thinking brunch. I want to sleep in.”

Seokjin huffs out a laugh. “Fine, brunch. I’ll make your favourite. We can stay in bed the whole day, watch movies or something.”

Yoongi raises his head. “Don’t you have to work?”

“I do,” Seokjin admits. “But I’ll go in late. I think we deserved it.”

Yoongi raises his head, frowning. “Hyung, it’s okay. You’ve already had to accommodate your schedule for me so many times, I don’t want you missing anymore work for me.”

“I won’t,” Seokjin says reassuringly. “I can always make up the hours, Yoongi yah, you know that.”

Yoongi’s frown deepens. “But then you’ll have to stay up late again—”

“Yoongi,” Seokjin cuts him off, voice firm. “You must be an idiot if you think I would rather go spend time with a dead kaiju than spend time with you.” He softens his tone, leans forward and presses a gentle kiss to Yoongi’s lips. “Now go to sleep, okay? You had a long day.”

None of them had ever admitted it out loud, but Yoongi didn’t do well with distance after his battles. After his first few Drifts, it had been Namjoon’s company he’d sought out the most. Seokjin’s not familiar with the science of the Drift, but he’s heard of the stories. The presence of someone else’s mind in your head never truly goes away, and there are old legends of the Jaegers moving in their hangars, even when their Conn Pods were empty. But lately it seems as if Yoongi’s been clinging to Seokjin more and more in the immediate aftermath of his battles, instead of Namjoon. He'd never said why, but Seokjin can see for himself in the way Yoongi looks at him when he thinks he’s not looking, worried and sad and lost.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Seokjin adds, a little more quietly this time. 

There’s a pause. “Hyung, I—” Yoongi whispers, then stops, clears his throat. “Thank you.”

Seokjin doesn’t reply, just tugs Yoongi closer. It’s only after Yoongi’s long fallen asleep does Seokjin himself drift off.

________________

 

Seokjin is on holiday with his parents in Japan when he gets caught in a kaiju attack. Yoongi had went back to Daegu to visit his family, and was supposed to head back to Hong Kong two days before Seokjin himself was back. He’d just texted Seokjin to let him know he was on the plane from Korea back to Hongkong when the kaiju makes landfall in Tokyo.

The alarms blare when Seokjin and his parents are shopping along the streets of Shinjuku, piercing and dreadful, and Seokjin immediately snaps into action. They have had enough drills at the Shatterdome for kaiju attacks, and the standard procedure is practically hardwired into his muscle memory.

“Follow me,” he urges, grabbing both his parents by the arm and steering them through the streets.

It’s chaotic, people panicking and pushing, struggling to find their way to the shelters. In the end, it’s his mom who finds it first, and they quickly scurry underground. The room is already packed, masses of people huddled, the air thick with fear. Seokjin knows that the shelters were not enough to keep the kaiju from getting to them if it really wanted to, but it’s a good way to keep people off the streets when the fighting takes place, to minimise the collateral damage. Nobody could really talk about zero collateral damage when it came to the kaiju.

His mom reaches out to take his hand, her face pale and worried. “What’s gonna happen now?” she asks.

Seokjin squeezes his eyes shut, tries to remember which Jaeger is stationed at the Tokyo Shatterdome. “They’ll get the Jaegers out,” he reassures her. “Once they kaiju’s beaten we’ll be free to go.”

There’s no cell phone signal in the underground public shelters, though Seokjin can track the battle in the way the foundations shudder, the dust that falls from the ceiling, the flickering of the lights. Seem as if the kaiju had made it further inland, he thinks, as his mother’s grip on his hand tightens. Sometimes he hears the familiar whir of Jaeger machinery, the roars of the beast. The battle sounds far away, distant, but Seokjin knows that with the sheer size of both the kaiju and the Jaeger they could be on top of them in mere seconds if they wanted to.

Things quiet down after an hour or so, and the doors are finally opened. When he and his parents clear the shelter, Seokjin immediately pulls out his phone, looks up the news. The Tokyo Shatterdome had deployed Lucky One, a Mark III piloted by Nakamoto Yuta and Hirai Momo to take the Cat IV, codenamed Yamarashi.

Apparently, ranger Nakamoto hadn't made it.

Hands shaking, he moves to open his Kakaotalk. Yoongi should have landed in Hong Kong an hour ago, and as expected, there are over a hundred messages from him alone. Call me. Where are you? Are you okay? Call me when you can. I landed in Hong Kong. I’m trying to get transport to Japan. Please tell me you’re okay.

He dials Yoongi’s number, and he picks up after the first ring. “Yoongi yah?”

“Hyung? Oh thank god,” Yoongi replies, voice thick with relief. “Where are you? Are you hurt? Is your family okay?”

Seokjin smiles slightly, the stress from the day alleviated slightly with the sound of Yoongi’s voice, deep and reassuring. “Still in Tokyo. We’re okay, I brought them to a bomb shelter, we just rode out the battle in there. Sorry I couldn’t call you earlier, there was no signal.” He clears his throat. “Yoongi, they…they sent Lucky One. Yuta didn’t make it.”

Yoongi falls silent. “I saw,” he says quietly. “Shit—I just—he was so young, god.”

“I know,” Seokjin tells him, voice low. 

Yoongi sighs tiredly. “Are you coming back?” he asks. “I was planning to get a chopper out to Tokyo.”

“No need for that. I doubt the Marshal would have let you, anyway.”

“I wasn’t exactly planning on taking no for an answer.”

Seokjin smiles slightly. “I’ll try to get the first flight back to Hong Kong, but it’s probably not gonna be anytime soon. Everyone’s probably gonna try to leave Tokyo at the same time. Don’t worry, okay? I’ll be fine. I want to make sure my parents get a flight back to Seoul first.”

“Alright,” Yoongi responds. “Keep me updated. Stay safe. I love you.”

“Love you too,” Seokjin says softly, and hangs up.

He manages to get his parents a flight back to Seoul the next morning, but his own flight back to Hong Kong gets delayed for nearly twelve hours. The airport hotels are full, so he spends the night in the transit area, along with hundreds of other travellers. He plants himself next to a charger, passes the hours messaging Yoongi and Jisoo and his other friends wanting to know if he had gotten out of the attack okay.

When he finally arrives at the Hong Kong Shatterdome the next day, he finds Yoongi waiting for him at the helipad in—god help him—his pajamas. He looks as if he hasn't slept a wink, dark circles lining his eyes, which were scrunched up and bloodshot. “Hyung,” he says hoarsely, when he sees Seokjin and reaches out for him. “Thank god.”

Seokjin lets Yoongi pull him into a hug, burying his face into Yoongi’s neck. “You look tired.”

“Couldn’t sleep,” Yoongi mumbles. “I was worried.”

“I told you I was okay.”

“Yeah, well. I couldn’t believe it until I saw you with my own two eyes.” He pulls away slightly, looks  up at Seokjin with a small, exhausted smile. “I wanted to meet you at the airport, but Namjoon forced me to go bed and turned off my alarm so I didn’t wake up until you were almost here.”

Seokjin snorts. “I’m glad he’s taking care of you,” he says dryly. “Come on, lets get you to bed.”

Yoongi pouts but doesn’t protest, though he does insist Seokjin come to bed too. Seokjin’s tired enough that he gives in, and when he crawls into their bed after his shower, Yoongi rolls over to pull him into his arms, face nuzzling into his shoulder, one leg thrown over Seokjin’s. Seokjin doesn’t question it, even though it’s much too warm for them to really be cuddling. He understands. He doesn't do too well with distance too, after Yoongi’s back from deployment.

It feels weird this time though, for Yoongi to be the one worrying about him instead, for their roles to be reversed. Seokjin wonders if this is how he looks all the time when he waits for Yoongi. Wonders if this is how Yoongi feels every time he comes home to find Seokjin waiting for him.

“Stop thinking,” Yoongi grunts, voice sleepy. “I can’t sleep, you’re thinking so loud.”

Seokjin laughs, kisses him on the forehead. “Sorry, Yoongi yah.”

Even in the stifling humidity of Hong Kong’s summer, that was one of the better sleeps he’s had so far.

 

________________

 

The waiting never gets easier.

It’s not like Seokjin had any doubts about his ability to help in the war effort. His battle doesn’t take place in the frigid Pacific Ocean inside a Jaeger, but in his lab as he navigated the intricacies of the silicon-based organisms ripping up their cities. Science is his tool, and he wields it like how the rangers rode their Jaegers into battle. But every time after he’d made a discovery, had run to tell the Marshall, there’s nothing else he can do but wait. He’d done his part—but it never feels enough.

In the early days, they had more scientists and predictability on their side. Kaiju were dumb. Rangers always came back alive. But then the kaiju started learning, and suddenly everything they thought they knew about the kaiju were thrown askew. Suddenly, science wasn’t enough to keep their rangers alive any longer.

And Seokjin hates it—hates the feeling of watching Yoongi go, of waiting and pacing and wondering if he would come home. The kaiju got bigger, the attacks more frequent, more rangers started dying—and there was nothing Seokjin could do to stop it.

So when the funds ran out, when the governments around the world quietly withdrew their support from the PPDC, Seokjin threw himself into research with everything he had. The PPDC became a shadow of its former glory, a resistance that had been tossed aside by the people whom they were trying to protect. There were benefits, of course. Less paperwork and bureaucratic complications, more money exchanged under tables for kaiju parts and whatever equipment they could scavenged. But it also meant more desperation—and eventually, the Marshal proposes a plan. It’s crazy something they would probably never have considered if they weren’t out of options, out of time—and if it works, it would mean the end of the war at last. A last push with everything they had, a nuclear bomb strapped to Cypher Five’s back. They were going for the Breach.

None of them—the rangers, the officers, the scientists—had admitted it out loud, but everyone knows there’s a good chance none of the rangers will come back.

With that, the K Science Division—basically just Seokjin and Jisoo now—had shifted their focus to understanding the physics of the Breach. The Marshal’s plan was based entirely on their theory that with the increasing frequency of kaiju coming through, the Breach will destabilise long enough for the Jaegers to enter and set off the bomb, sealing the passageways between both worlds shut. They had the numbers, the theories, the science to back it—but it still didn’t feel enough to justify a mission they were staking so much on. Seokjin wanted more , a guarantee, an unbreakable promise that Yoongi will come back home.

So when Jisoo proposes they Drift with a kaiju brain, Seokjin doesn’t even hesitate. It’s a huge, stupid risk—but the knowledge they could learn from this? Too tempting to ignore. The Marshal tells them no, says the plan is too dangerous, but his order goes unheeded. Both of them hastily put together a Pons—the technology that will allow them to Drift with a kaiju brain—with old equipment from their glory days. It works—and for a moment the information they learn is enough to make the scientist in Seokjin rejoice.

That is, until he considers the implications of everything he’d just experienced—and everything falls apart.

________________

 

The silence in the LOCCENT after Seokjin breaks the news is awful. Ringing, endless. A silence no one dared to break.

“So,” Namjoon says eventually, looking stricken. “To get through the Breach, we have to…”

His eyes dart towards Yoongi, but Seokjin takes a deep breath, refuses to look over. He’s not sure if he has the composure to look at his husband right now.

“You’ll have to attach yourself to a kaiju,” he chokes out “It’s the only way. Otherwise the bomb will deflect of the Breach like it always has, and the plan will fail.”

Seokjin had always been aware that Yoongi might not come back from a mission. But it’s a possibility he’d refused to let himself consider, had always forced to the back of his brain. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen. Seokjin was supposed to find a way to end the war, not doom his husband to a mission that might as well be a death sentence. He had put everything into his research, and this was the best option they could offer him?

Science had never failed him before. But this time it felt as if it had.

The Marshal takes a deep breath, and everyone’s eyes snap to him, Seokjin’s included. He exhales, eyes steely as he takes in everyone in the room, before pausing at the rangers. “You know what to do,” he tells them.

There’s a beat, before Namjoon answers for all of them. “Yes, sir,” he says.

The Marshal nods, lips pressed together into a thin line. “Good. Suit up and be ready in two hours.”

Seokjin isn’t even aware that people are moving around him until a hand wraps around his wrist, guides him out of the room. He clings to the hand like a lifeline, and isn’t surprised when it turns out to be Yoongi. They say nothing as they walk, and Seokjin is surprised when he finds themselves back in their apartment instead of the suiting area.

“What—” he begins.

Yoongi just shakes his head and pulls him in close. “Just. Just let me hold you,” he mumbles, voice muffled from where it’s buried into Seokjin’s shoulder.

Seokjin falls silent, arms coming up automatically to wrap around Yoongi. “Okay,” he whispers, and lets his head fall forward into Yoongi’s neck, just breathing him in. There are too many things he wants to say, but can’t find the words to convey.  And there’s an awful, gut-churning sensation in his stomach when he realises that he no longer has the luxury of time to sort out his thoughts.

“Don’t be scared,” Yoongi says quietly. “We all knew this was coming, didn’t we? It was all just a matter of time.”

When Seokjin had joined the PPDC, he had thought he could save the world. And maybe he had, he thinks, as he pulls away to stare at Yoongi. But at what cost?

“Don’t you dare do anything unnecessary , Min Yoongi,” Seokjin tells him, voice steely. “You drop the bomb into the Breach, hold off the other kaiju, and then you eject. Do you hear me? Jisoo and I worked hard on those escape pods. You can’t give up. You’re coming home.”

Yoongi smiles, brittle and sad. “I will,” he promises. “And I want something from you too. Promise me even with whatever happens tomorrow, you’ll look after yourself.”

Seokjin nods rapidly, not trusting himself to speak. Yoongi lips quirk up in a parody of a smile, before he takes a deep breath.

“We don’t have a lot of time left before I have to go, so…I want to say I’m sorry. For all those times I made you wait for me, all the worrying. It must have been hard. I want to say I’m sorry that I met you, because of all the pain I gave you, but I can’t. You gave me a home, hyung. Something to come back to. So believe me when I say that I’m gonna do my damnedest to come back from this mission. Okay?”

Seokjin doesn’t realise he’s crying until Yoongi reaches out to wipe away a tear. “You’re an idiot,” he sniffs. “You don’t have to say sorry for that . I knew what I was getting into when I married you, okay?”

Yoongi manages to smile properly then. “Okay,” he agrees readily, thumbing away more of Seokjin’s tears. He pulls Seokjin back into his arms, lets Seokjin cry into his shoulder. And Seokjin feels awful, knows he shouldn't be asking this of Yoongi when he’s giving up everything to save their world, knows he should be the one being strong for Yoongi instead. But Seokjin’s so tired of being strong. And there’s also the realisation that this might be the last time he could really seek comfort in Yoongi’s embrace.

So he allows himself to cry, allows himself to be selfish.

It’s funny how time speeds up when you want it to stop. Before Seokjin knows it, Agust D’s crew is calling for Yoongi to suit up. Yoongi eventually pulls away, but he doesn’t let go of Seokjin the entire time as they walk to the suiting area, clutching onto Seokjin so tightly his nails dig tiny crescents into his hand.

Namjoon’s already there and suited up. When Yoongi’s put on the circuitry suit, then the armoured outer layer, he stands and gives Yoongi and Seokjin a sad, gentle smile before he leaves the room, along with the other staff. Seokjin knows why they left, and he doesn’t want them to go. He doesn’t want to say goodbye, words he knows he should say to Yoongi sticking in his throat as he looks at his husband. It felt too final. He couldn’t bear to say it out loud—as if the possibility of Yoongi not coming back would become reality if he said goodbye.

Yoongi clears his throat as he suits up, picks up his helmet—cranial sleeve, Seokjin’s mind corrects automatically. He watches the way the way his gold wedding band catches the light and he has to look away. There’s a prickling in his eyes that feels a lot like tears, and the last thing he wants to do right now is let Yoongi see him cry again.

“Hey,” Yoongi says quietly. “Hyung?”

Seokjin squeezes his eyes shut, forces himself to regulate his breathing. “I love you,” he breathes, and suddenly it feels like he can’t say it enough. He’d thought they had had more time—and now he feels wrong footed, like someone had yanked the carpet out from under him too quick, forcing him into a situation he’s completely unprepared for. “I’ll always love you, you know?”

There’s so many things Seokjin wants to say besides that—but without the time, he has to condense everything into those three words. It feels insufficient, but it’ll have to do.

“I know,” Yoongi says back, voice hoarse, and Seokjin leans forward to meet him halfway, catching his mouth in a kiss that’s too desperate to be reassuring, a kiss that tastes too much like tears. He wants to stop this moment, hold Yoongi to him and never let him go. He reaches out, takes Yoongi’s hand into his. Yoongi’s hands had always felt so safe, enveloping Seokjin’s crooked fingers in a way no one else’s could. But now they felt too small, too fragile to be carrying the weight of humanity.

Seokjin wants to rip that weight away.

“I’ll be waiting,” Seokjin promises when they pull apart. “I’ll make your favourite for breakfast tomorrow. We can stay in bed the whole day. Just. Just be there.”

Yoongi manages to smile, even though his face is wet. Seokjin’s not quite sure whose tears they are. “I’ll be there,” he whispers back. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Seokjin gives a squeaky laugh that breaks off into a sob. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I thought. I thought I could do better—I wished I’d never—I wished I wasn’t why you had to do this.”

Yoongi’s eyes narrow, his grip on Seokjin’s hand tightening. “Don’t feel sorry,” he says quietly. “Hyung, please promise me. Don’t blame yourself. You did your job, and now I’m going to do mine. We’ll be okay.”

He hesitates, then takes the ring off his hand, presses it into Seokjin’s. “Keep it safe for me, will you? You can put it back for me after I come back.”

Seokjin curls his fingers around the ring. “You better,” he says in a low voice, then clears his throat. “Go,” he says, trying to make his voice sound even. “Go do your job. The faster you go, the faster you’ll come back. I’ll be waiting.”

Yoongi doesn’t smile, just leans in to kiss him one more time before he pulls away and steps towards the Conn Pod. He throws one last glance over his shoulder at Seokjin, staring long after the door’s shut behind him. There’s an awful finality in the sound of the door’s mechanism clicking into place.

Seokjin blinks back his tears and takes a deep breath before he turns in the direction towards LOCCENT, his feet carrying him by instinct after so many years of the same routine. Waiting, always waiting.

And yet, whatever happens, Seokjin knows there will be no more waiting after tonight.