He was here again. It was as clear as day, a contradictory statement when the man was dressed in all black. Namjoon had come to recognize him with his getup alone; he always dressed in combat boots and like he came straight out of a photoshoot dealing with the common “bad boy” cliche, a walking phenomenon that graced the library every Wednesday morning. It was a routine Namjoon picked up on him quickly, being told that the man was one of their more devoted visitors and he was to be treated well.
However, Namjoon failed to incline into those guidelines. It wasn’t his fault, though. Namjoon watched avidly at how the man ducked into the aisles of books and the smell of paper, shaking his head as he resumed his musings and the information he was yet to input into the library computer. The squeaking of his chair was the only thing that irritated him a bit more than the man who was obviously stalling to go up to the counter, lips pursed visible even from Namjoon’s distance. He tapped his fingers into the smooth surface and glanced down at the muffin and coffee next to him, a little gift given to him from working so hard. Except seeing the man, Jimin more accurately, made him lose his appetite, just because their arguments grew petty and Namjoon could not eat if he was petty.
The man, Jimin, had left a bad taste in his mouth the first time they met. Namjoon was hired to work a few days after his interview, praised by how clean his resume looked and how he was the perfect candidate for their library. And truthfully, he thought he was. Namjoon enjoyed working where places were deemed quiet, lulling him into a working pace that worked for him graciously. He was made for the job, starting it the next day he was told he was fit, coming in with enough vigor to battle the chilly wind outside.
The library was as a beautiful spectacle, gleaming with how pristine it was kept. Books littered every corner like it should, computers and couches, fuzzy rugs and even a kids center taking the rest. He liked how homey everything felt, the printed snowflakes dangling from the the staircase that led up to a second floor, other wintery decorations settled deep in them. He had been setting them up everywhere the day he met Jimin, standing tall and easily reaching places where the other librarians couldn’t. They praised him for his help, calling him their baby assistant like the motherly figures they were.
Namjoon had been happy that day, humming around and hoping to indulge himself in some books once his break came around. He was in the process of placing some books back in their rightful place when the doors had swished open, bringing in the icy wind for a few seconds until they closed. The person who had entered was holding himself at a confident angle, somewhat of a scoff residing on his pretty lips. Namjoon felt his breath catch at the beautiful looks the man had, heading towards Namjoon with a pointed look in his eyes. Namjoon couldn’t help the skip in his heart when the man stopped in front of him, dressed in leather that hugged him in all the right places. His lips pursed, a purple piercing gleaming at his bottom lip.
They stood there for a while, Namjoon frozen in his spot, a snowflake precariously hanging from his pinched fingertips while the man looked him up and down. He was sizing him up, glaring at him fully before he spoke. His voice was gorgeous, soft and nothing like the gruffness Namjoon had expected, yet his words were soured and downright accusatory. “So you’re the kid who took the job right out of my hands.”
Namjoon blinked. “Me?” He croaked out in disbelief. He couldn’t wrap his head around how how heart skipped at beat, definitely affected by the allure the man had on him. It made him self conscious too, reminded of his bright yellow sweater that hung off his frame and his need to press snowflake stickers onto his dimples, feeling childish next to someone who clearly used eyeliner and basked in chokers and sunglasses.
The man had the gall to pout at him, nodding. “You took the job I wanted.” He looked adorable for a second, then becoming somewhat sinful when he bit down on his lip, eyes wide.
“I’m...sorry?” Namjoon frowned, confused. He wasn’t sure on what to do with confrontation, the man still eyeing him as if he was going to throw a punch at any second. And while the notion was tempting with how rude the stranger was being, Namjoon had enough common sense to not start a little scuffle at his workplace.
The stranger rolled his eyes. It irritated Namjoon, how he turned on his heel, the appeal still there but Namjoon’s dislike grew at how mean he was right off the bat. He muttered something along the lines of “Sure you are,” leaving Namjoon in the dust with snowflakes still on the table, not hanging from where they’re supposed to be.
Their first meeting had stuck to Namjoon for the rest of the day, eating at him all the way until his shift ended. He was astounded by how rude people could be, furrowing his brows and huffing about it to himself. He had asked the other librarians about the man, only getting excited mumbles of him being named Jimin before they went back to whispering. He didn’t try to push it for the remaining day, letting it mull in his head until Hoseok asked him to help him with his paintings the moment he went back home, passing out by midnight before his friend could really do get to painting his jawline on a canvas.
It wasn’t long after that Jimin came back. He came back regularly, stalking off into the aisles to read short excerpts of books before setting them down. He usually didn’t come up to the counter if Namjoon was around, only if the desperate need to find a book won out his distaste towards him. Namjoon knew it had to do with something other than winning the job, but he didn’t know what.
Nonetheless, they bickered every time they had to interact. It was like second nature, exchanging curt words with each other while Namjoon helped him with whatever he needed. He took note of the ways Jimin tried to annoy him, either completely ignoring him or hovering around him like an armed bee. It was tedious sometimes, when Namjoon wasn’t really in the mood. Those were the days Jimin gave him some slack, alarming him with half smiles and maybe a laugh, cracking the cold exterior he tried to put on. It made Namjoon realize Jimin wasn’t all that bad, he was hiding something within. Namjoon just didn’t know what, really. Still, he did the same when Jimin came in gloomy and weary, bags under his eyes and a scruffiness in his voice. They fought, but Namjoon knew it was beginning to be more of a front than anything.
And then he found out the reason why.
“Check this out for me, Kim,” A standard greeting from Jimin, who looked like he wanted to be anymore but there. Namjoon could tell he was averting his eyes, not meeting Namjoon’s narrowed look.
“Well good morning to you too, Jimin.” Namjoon sighed. He took the book from where he was sitting, pulling the lollipop from his mouth. He kept it in hand while running through the usual procedure of scanning the book and Jimin’s library card, raising an eyebrow slightly, his gaze boring into the man.
“What?” Jimin frowned. Namjoon could see the furious blush that started to stain his cheeks, undeniably cute. It made it worth it, having to put up with Jimin’s need to fight with him every day.
“Nothing, it’s just that this is a good book.” Namjoon offered, shrugging. He tried to pretend he didn’t see Jimin’s face light up, standing up a little straighter at the words. In the time he’s been working on the library, he knows every book Jimin has checked out since then, many of them all falling into the same piles he’s read. It was information he kept to himself at first, denying that he and Jimin could like the same things, but now he’s stored it until he could use it at the right time, catching him off guard.
And that he did, almost giving himself away when Jimin mumbled, “What’s the book about?”
“Two guys who love each other in a dystopian setting,” Namjoon responded, ready to turn away. He almost jumped out of his skin when Jimin reached to grab at his wrist. The angle was uncomfortable, a counter in between them and Namjoon almost barked out a laugh when he saw Jimin’s flushed look, surprised with himself. Namjoon cocked his head, smiling cheekily as he asked, “What?”
“You’re insufferable.” Jimin huffed.
“But I’m cute.” It was something he always retorted at his friends, who would agree begrudgingly with him. It always made him win the argument, giving him the upper hand as he smiled his award-winning smile at them to cave in.
Except, he wasn’t expecting Jimin to agree. “You are, and it physically hurts me.”
They stopped, realizing what Jimin just said. Namjoon could feel the prickling heat reach from his neck to his cheeks, eyes wide at Jimin’s little slip up. Jimin wasn’t in a better state, letting go of Namjoon’s wrist. The silence between them stretched for far too long, unsure of what to say before it all clicked in Namjoon’s head.
“Oh my god,” Namjoon groaned, pointing at Jimin. “You did that middle school thing!”
“What middle school thing?” Jimin was quick to retaliate with a question, jerking his hand away. He was fully red now, embarrassed and resembling a strawberry.
“You pretended you didn’t like me! But you do!” Namjoon laughed, relief sagging into him. For a full month, he’s been confused as to what Jimin wanted from him. He was gentle on his bad days but a little mean on his good days, acting nonchalant but never saying anything that really crossed his borders. It made sense now, a childish acting that Namjoon should have guessed but never crossed his mind. He observed the red tint on Jimin’s face, shaking his head. “You’re such a baby!”
“I am not!”
“You are! You look like a child but you’re so mean!” Namjoon teased, letting out giggles. He relished in the way Jimin turned even more red, looking away and certainly not the same Jimin who had accused him the first day they met.
“Oh my god, I’m so lame,” Jimin muttered, pressing into the creases of his jacket. The book he had was on the counter again, unattended as Jimin waited for Namjoon’s laughter to die out. He was grateful the other librarians were out to eat, unable to contain his giggles into the quiet ones he usually reserved when he had to be a tad more silent.
“You are, but now you can try again.” Namjoon suggested, smiling. His own flush was still high on his cheeks, but he pushed away the awkwardness that settled in between them. It wasn’t terribly suffocating, instead a refreshing kind that marked a new chapter, one that probably wouldn’t have this much circling.
“But isn’t this all...weird now?” Jimin whined, poking his bottom lip out. It didn’t work out as well as he wanted it to, his piercing giving him a more scary edge than anything.
“Jimin, I’m telling you to ask me out and do this right!” Namjoon clapped his hands.
“You’re going to give me a second chance?”
“Yes, because I know you’re not that bad.”
“...Does that mean you kind of like me?” Jimin asked, hopeful. It made his heart clench, Namjoon nodding easily.
“You’re cute and not that bad when you’re not fighting with me about the plot holes in my favorite books. So yes, take me out on a date.” Namjoon flashed a smile, genuine and beautiful. He knew it was, judging the intake of breath Jimin audibly gave.
“You really are cute. I’m suffering.” A dramatic sigh left him, thought he returned the smile. It was big and happy, oozing with a brightness that almost blinded Namjoon.
Namjoon, unable to help himself, said, “I know.”
Jimin agreed with him once more, a simple, “I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn at first,” before he left.
Of course, after they exchanged numbers and Jimin promised him to be a better potential interest. Namjoon let him babble for that time being, assured that Jimin wouldn’t pretend to be a middle schooler again and instead act like an adult, so he could set a romantic dinner where they could really learn about each other. A little cliche, but it didn’t fail to make Namjoon’s heart skip a beat when Jimin grinned at him, a nice restaurant already lined up. It brought warmth into his heart, watching Jimin stumble off with a flush on his cheeks, the man tripping on his own feet and wringing a laugh out of Namjoon, embarrassment high as he scurried out.
Park Jimin was truly something else.