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The library was quiet, a low buzz of chatter and tapping keyboards the only sound as Yoongi made his way through the main floor to the lifts.

 

He tapped the button and waited, adjusting his bag on his shoulder.

 

It hadn't been a very good day. After a grand total of three hours’ sleep, he’d dragged himself out of bed for his eight AM class--only to receive last week’s assignment back with a less than brilliant grade, accompanied by a note from his professor: please come and see me after class.

 

“Ah, Min Yoongi-ssi,” she greeted as he approached the podium. The rest of the the students were chattering happily as they made their way out of the lecture hall, and he stepped back as he waited for a couple to pass, glancing at his watch again--his afternoon shift started in twenty minutes, and he really needed to get a move on.

 

“Gyosoo-nim," he inclined his head, "you wanted to see me?"

 

"Yes, I thought it would be good to touch base --your past few assignments haven’t been up to your usual standards.”

 

Yoongi shuffled his feet. “I’m sorry. I haven’t had a lot of... well, a lot of time.”

 

“Ah, yes, I thought that might be the case. You have a part time job outside of the university, don’t you?”

 

Yoongi nodded. He had two, actually. But he didn’t correct her.

 

“I do understand it’s difficult, trying to balance work and your studies. But, well. Unfortunately, you can’t really afford to have your grades slipping like this.”

 

“I... I know,” Yoongi murmured.

 

Her face softened a little. "You’re still well within the grade requirements for your scholarship, so don't worry too much. I just wanted to warn you.”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Thank you, gyosoo-nim. I’ll work harder.”

 

That, of course, was easier said than done. 

 

If only I didn’t need sleep, he thought, idly, as he stepped into the lift and pressed the button for the library’s top floor.

 

But he was really pushing the limits on that one as it was.

 

To make matters even worse, he'd checked his bank balance on the way over here, only to discover he'd gone into his overdraft--a rare occurrence, since he was usually very careful with his money. But he'd been trying to cut down a bit on his shifts this month (he knew his professor had only been trying to help, but he really didn't need to be told that his work was affecting his studies).

 

Thank god the end of the month--and payday--was only three days away. He'd just have to cut back until then.

 

He stifled a yawn as he stepped out of the lift. The top floor was even quieter, a handful of students scattered about the tables with laptops and stacks of books.

 

It had been incredibly tempting just to go straight home after his shift had finished--but he didn’t quite trust himself not to end up falling asleep under the guise of lying down for a minute (an all too frequent problem).

 

He’d thought he’d have a better chance of getting his work done in the library. At least wasn’t too busy this time in the evening.

 

Passing a student in the process of unscrewing the lid of his thermos, steam rising from the inside as the enticing aroma of coffee filled the air, Yoongi thought sadly of his own, half empty in his bag--and definitely freezing cold by now.

 

He rounded the corner to his favorite table--tucked away in an area which was almost always deserted, and overlooked by a large window with a view over campus, the skyline of Seoul just beyond.

 

It was by far the best table in the library, and it was--

 

Occupied.

 

Yoongi did a double take.

 

There was someone else--some kid--at his table. He stared, first in surprise, then irritation, at the head of dark hair ducked over the books spread out across the desk.

 

On another day, he might have left it. Found somewhere else to sit.

 

But... no. Screw that. He’d had a really fucking shitty day, he was exhausted, and he still had several hours more studying to get done.

 

And he was going to do it at his table. He stepped closer, dropping his heavy bag onto the desk, wincing as his shoulder twinged slightly.

 

He coughed. The kid looked up--and Yoongi found himself staring into a pair of wide, brown eyes. At the same moment, he inhaled, breathing in the distinct scent.

 

Ah. He was an alpha. And, Yoongi noticed, grudgingly, as his eyes scanned the kid's face--kind of, maybe, quite good looking.

 

He shook himself. It didn’t matter if the kid was alpha. And it definitely didn’t matter if he was attractive. (Or if his scent was... oddly appealing.)

 

They both just stared at each other for a long moment.

 

Finally, Yoongi cleared his throat. “Look... sorry to bother you, but I usually sit here.”

 

A faint line appeared between the boy’s brows, and he looked around them. When he said nothing, Yoongi added. “So, could you maybe... move?”

 

“There’s plenty of space over there,” the boy said, slowly, as if Yoongi was particularly stupid. He nodded at over at the row of desks a few meters away--all empty.

 

“I know. But I don’t want to sit over there. This is my table,” Yoongi snapped, a little petulantly. He was aware he was acting like an asshole-- but something about the kid’s attitude just irked him.

 

The boy’s eyebrow raised. “I don’t see your name on it.”

 

Yoongi stifled a growl. “Could you please just move?” He rubbed at his sore shoulder absently, feeling a low thrum of annoyance when the kid still made no move to get up.  He was just... sitting there, looking at Yoongi with an unreadable expression.

 

After a moment, he shrugged. “Fine,” he said, “since you asked so nicely.”

 

Yoongi ignored the heavy sarcasm, breathing an internal sigh of relief. The kid stood, slinging his backpack over his shoulder, stacking a couple of books on top of his laptop and grabbing the pile.

 

“Thanks,” he said, inclining his head slightly as the boy passed him. “Sorry--I just. Long day,” he muttered, gruffly, after a pause.

 

It came out so quiet he was pretty sure the kid hadn’t heard him--but then he turned, glancing back at Yoongi. Yoongi waited for him to speak, but he said nothing, just stared at him for a few moments.

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, finally, irritated.

 

“I--” the kid seemed to shake himself. “Uh. Nothing.”

 

He turned away, and Yoongi stared after him for a moment, confused, before he huffed. Whatever. The kid was weird. And annoying.

 

He probably thinks the same about you, his brain reminded him, helpfully. Since you just acted like a complete dick.

 

Oh well. It didn’t matter, he told himself, firmly. It didn't matter what the kid thought of him.

 

They'd probably never see each other again, anyway.

 

 

*

 

 

That, however, turned out not to be quite true--much to Yoongi’s annoyance, the kid didn’t go far, instead settling himself at one of the bank of desks a few meters away, the ones he’d originally suggested Yoongi should move to.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, he then pulled out a bag of snacks and began crunching. Loudly.

 

Finally, Yoongi stuck headphones in, tapping the volume key a little too aggressively in his effort to drown out the sound. T hankfully, that worked, and he finally manage to dredge up enough focus to buckle down and get going on his assignment.

 

He jumped, startled, an indistinguishable amount of time later, when a bag was dropped on the table with a light thud.

 

He looked up. “Tae?”

 

“Hey, hyung,” Tae grinned, placing a takeaway coffee cup on the table before dropping his backpack and sitting down, starting to pull out his books.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“Came to study with you.”

 

Oh--yeah. Taehyung had asked him earlier if he wanted to do something tonight--and Yoongi had told him he needed to get some work done at the library. That explained how he'd known Yoongi would be here. He was about to ask why he hadn't gone out like he'd said he was going to, but was distracted by the appetizing smell wafting from the bag on the table.

 

“You brought food?” Tae nodded. Yoongi’s eyes fixed on the takeaway cup. “Is that... for me?”

 

“Yep. Just finished work so I thought I’d bring it over for you.” Despite his intense dislike of coffee (“It’s so bitter, hyung! It’s gross!) Taehyung worked part time as a barista at a coffee shop on a campus--the same one where Yoongi sometimes picked up shifts. He probably would’ve headed there instead of the library if it hadn’t already been near to closing when he’d gotten off work.

 

“I love you,” he said, fervently, reaching for the cup and taking a long gulp. “Oh, god. I really love you, Kim Taehyung.”

 

Tae giggled. “Love you too, Yoongi hyung.”

 

“Weren’t you going to go out tonight?” Yoongi finally remembered to ask, a couple of minutes later, around a mouthful of food.

 

Taehyung shrugged. “Yeah. But I probably shouldn’t. I have an essay due the day after tomorrow and I need to start researching it.”

 

Ah. To be a sophomore again, Yoongi thought wistfully. Starting an essay barely over a day before it was due. Damn, he missed that. A lot.

 

“Anyway,” Taehyung added, “I knew you were here, so I thought we could study together. Plus, I figured you probably hadn’t eaten properly, today, so...”

 

Yoongi felt his lips curve into small, fond smile. “You’re the best, Tae," he murmured. "Seriously, thanks. I've... ah, well, I've a pretty bad day, to be honest."

 

“Oh, really?”

 

Yoongi began to fill him in, realizing too late he couldn't mention the issue with his overdraft--if he told Taehyung about that, the kid would probably just insist on helping Yoongi out, which was ridiculous because he hardly had any money himself.

 

Instead, he skipped to the disagreement with the annoying alpha kid-- lowering his voice as the kid in question was still there, only a few meters away from them.

 

Taehyung glanced over when Yoongi mentioned that part--and his eyes widened.

 

“Hyung,” he said, “don’t you know who that is?”

 

Yoongi frowned. “No. Should I?”

 

“Uh, yeah. Have you been living under a rock?” Taehyung rolled his eyes. “That’s Jeon Jungkook.”

 

“Who?”

 

“You know, the kid of that super rich CEO.”

 

“Never heard of him.”

 

"Seriously?" Taehyung asked. "Okay, how about Jeon Corp? Heard of them?"

 

"Yeah, obviously." Who hadn't? The company was well known--they'd traditionally been big in print media, but in more recent years, in an effort to keep up with the times (and the dying print industry) had branched out, with a number of profitable acquisitions in tech and social media.

 

"Well, that's his dad's company."

 

"Oh, right."

 

"Yeah. Anyway, he just transferred here--he studied abroad in his freshman year, at some really big deal American university. But apparently he got in trouble there, and they kicked him out!"

 

Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

 

Taehyung shrugged. “I mean... I don’t know. It’s just a rumor. But everyone’s going crazy about him!"

 

When Yoongi just stared blankly at him, Taehyung huffed. “C’mon, don’t be dense, hyung. He’s hot, and he's loaded--apparently his dad’s company is worth millions. He’s on the football team, too. Loads of people--omegas mostly, even some betas--have practically been throwing themselves at him."

 

“Don’t see why,” Yoongi muttered.

 

Taehyung gave him a look. “Really.”

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Yes, really. He was rude. And annoying. And he’s not even that good looking.”

 

Taehyung looked decidedly skeptical. “If you say so.” Then he giggled. “I can’t believe you kicked Jeon Jungkook off your table. His dad could probably buy this entire library!”

 

Yoongi shrugged, as if to say who cares. He certainly didn’t--didn’t care about some privileged, entitled, jerk of an alpha--and it seemed as though that’s what Jungkook was.

 

He did move, though, didn’t he, the little voice in the back of his head piped up. And really, you were the one who was acting like a jerk.

 

Sitting here now, pleasantly full, an hour so of studying already done and his Americano craving satisfied, Yoongi found himself a little bit guilty about how he’d acted.

 

He wondered, briefly, if he should apologize.

 

But... no. It didn’t matter, not really. In the scheme of things, was Jungkook really going to care about some random omega with an attitude problem? (Since he couldn’t deny that must’ve been the impression Jungkook had gotten). He probably wouldn’t even remember it in a few days. Wouldn’t remember Yoongi.

 

It didn’t matter.

 

*

 

 

Yoongi was warm. Warm, cozy and comfortable. With a pleased noise, he snuggled deeper under the covers.

 

Ah, if only he could just stay here forever.

 

After a moment, hes sleepily blinked one eye open. What time was it?

 

He fumbled for the phone on his nightstand. And then shot bolt upright. Fuck.

 

He was late. So fucking late. Shit, he must’ve forgotten to set his alarm last night.

 

Yoongi scrambled out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. He showered for all of twenty seconds before getting out, drying off, dressing hurriedly and running out the door

 

He realized, halfway down the corridor, that he’d forgotten to bring lunch with him. But it was too late to go back.

 

Fifteen minutes later, he was pushing open the door to the staff entrace, panting. He flicked the hair away from his sweaty forehead, opening his locker and shoving his bag inside.

 

He turned to the uniform rack, and groaned.

 

This was what he got for being late. All the decent outfits were gone (not that any of them were decent, really, but--comparatively speaking). There were only two left.

 

He grabbed one, changing as fast as he could before heading to the mirror. He really needed to get out onto the floor--like, ten minutes ago-- but he also needed to look a little less like he hadn’t slept in two days and had just ran a half marathon (neither particularly far off the truth--but his boss would kill him if he went out to serve customers looking like this).

 

He jumped, startled, when he felt hands on his shoulders.


“Hi, Yoongi-ssi!” He turned to see his co-worker Lisa grinning at him.

 

“Stop sneaking up on me like that,” he grumbled. 

 

She laughed. “Sorry.” Then she frowned a little. “Hey, are you okay? You look a bit--”

 

Yoongi sighed, turning to reach for the BB cream he kept in his locker. “I know, I know. I look like shit. I overslept, had to run here.”

 

Lisa shook her head. “No, I didn’t mean it like that. You just look tired, is all.” She opened her locker, reaching inside and pulling out a bag of honey chips. Yoongi’s stomach growled--he hadn’t had breakfast and it was already past eleven. “Thank god you’re here, though, it’s so busy today. Sungho-nim wouldn’t let me take my break. I had to pretend I was gonna cry before he finally caved.”

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. Their boss was somewhat... less than accommodating. (Actually, he was a fucking asshole.)

 

“Hm, that kinda suits you,” Lisa added, through a mouthful of chips.

 

Yoongi looked down at himself with a grimace. The outfit had been the least offensive of the two--though that really wasn’t saying much.

 

The dress was pale pink and blue, the ruffled skirt impractically short--and just to really add insult to injury, the ensemble came with a matching choker and knee high socks. (For fuck's sake What the hell kind of maid dressed like this?)

 

God, he hated this job.

 

When he’d stumbled on the advertisment several months back, it had looked innocuous enough--staff wanted for a tearoom and patisserie.

 

The fact that it specified omegas only was a little odd-- but then, there were still a few omega-only establishments scattered about here and there-- a throwback to a time when it hadn’t been thought appropriate for omegas to venture into public alone, without being accompanied by a beta or, better still, an alpha.

 

He’d sent his CV and the requested photo (again, that part should really have tipped him off) and had been called for an interview. When he’d arrived, and caught a glimpse of what was going on through the cafe’s window, he’d nearly turned right back around and left.

 

The Cookie Jar was decidedly not a tearoom and patisserie. It was a fucking maid cafe. An omega maid cafe.

 

Yoongi was aware of the concept--an all-omega staff catering to a clientele comprised almost entirely of alphas. But he’d never actually seen one before, much less set foot in one.

 

The advertised pay, though, had been decent, and he’d had been more than a little desperate for money at the time.

 

Even so, he’d been on the verge of quitting just a week in. For a start, he hated the costumes they were required to wear-- and they hadn’t even been that bad back then, more or less just standard maid uniforms-- though still revealing enough that Yoongi quickly grew tired of being ogled by alpha customers.

 

He’d been groped two separate times by the end of his first week-- even though it was strictly against policy, Sungho was... lenient, to put it mildly. He typically only told customers off if a staff member complained.

 

And while he did occasionally ban alphas who really overstepped the boundaries, it was extremely rare.

 

But then... there was the tips. By the end of the week, Yoongi had made nearly enough in tips alone to cover a whole months’ rent. Not to mention enough to eat something other than instant noodles for every meal.

 

So, in the end, he’d had to swallow his pride and keep the job. It was humiliating, for sure--but he really needed that money.

 

“I hate it,” Yoongi grumbled, in reply. “Sungho is really fucking pushing the whole maid concept with these new uniforms."

 

Lisa giggled. “They are a bit much.”

 

It was easy for her to say, Yoongi thought. Lisa always managed to pull off whatever ridiculous outfit she got stuck in, looking perfectly at ease. 

 

“You look cute, though,” she added. “Like I said, it suits you.”

 

Yoongi glanced at himself in the mirror. And, okay... so maybe he didn’t hate the outfit, per se. It was... somewhat aesthetically pleasing, he could admit. He’d just rather not wear it in a room full of leering alphas.

 

He said as much to Lisa. She nodded in understanding. “I know,” she sighed, expression growing more serious, “it sucks. But hey, we gotta earn money somehow, right?”

 

“Min Yoongi-ssi!” Yoongi jumped at the sound of his boss’ angry voice.

 

“Ah, Sungho-nim, I’m sorry, I’m--”

 

“You’re nearly half an hour late!”

 

“I know, I’m sorry.”

 

Sungho stared at him in displeasure. “I should deduct this from your wages. And the time last week as well.”

 

“It’s my fault, Sungho-nim!” Lisa piped up. “I was chatting to him, keeping him from going out on the floor!”

 

Yoongi opened his mouth to disagree, but then thought better of it-- their boss had a soft spot for Lisa, and let her get away with a lot.

 

Sungho glanced at Lisa. She blinked at him innocently.

 

Finally, he grunted. “Fine. Just get out there.”

 

Yoongi nodded, mouthing a grateful thank you at Lisa before rushing onto the floor.

 

 

*

 

Lisa had been right. It was busy. After an hour or so of being rushed off his feet, taking orders and serving customers, Yoongi was grateful when one of his regulars requested him for tea, meaning he'd be able to sit down for a little while. He was even more relieved when he saw who it was who had asked for him.

 

Kim Jongsoo was Yoongi's favorite customer by far (not that there was a lot of competition).  Only clients with a certain amount of points on their loyalty card could a request a maid for tea, and most had a preferred maid. Yoongi wasn't really a fan of any of the alphas who typically requested him--though he tried to hide it as best he could--but Jongsoo was the exception.

 

He hadn’t known what to make of the elderly alpha at first. He was quiet and reserved, and their initial conversations had been awkward and stilted. Besides, Yoongi was automatically suspicious of the motivations of anyone who was a regular at an omega maid cafe. 

 

After a while, though, it became clear why the old man came so frequently--he was lonely. His husband had passed away the previous year, and, now in his eighties, he had very few friends and family left.

 

When they’d got to talking, he’d discovered that that Jongsoo had lived a fascinating life. He’d been in the army and had traveled extensively, and was full of stories and anecdotes. He treated Yoongi with a kind of old fashioned courtesy and deference which, while completely outdated, was still vastly preferable to the way the majority of the other customers tended to act.

 

Yoongi liked him a lot--so much that he often spent longer than his allotted time with the alpha, unless Sungho was lurking around.

 

He’d just finished up and was clearing the table, when the door chimed. Yoongi glanced up to see a sizeable group making their way inside--great, it had just started to calm down a bit--and. Oh. Oh, no. They were college students.

 

College kids weren’t the typical Cookie Jar clientele. Their customers tended to be older alphas, with the occasional group of giggling schoolgirls drawn in by the obnoxiously pastel decor and cutesy outfits. The advantage of both groups, however, was that Yoongi was unlikely to run into either anywhere aside from the cafe--the same couldn't be said for students from his own university.

 

The group made their way over to a table by the window, laughing and joking loudly. Yoongi felt himself tense at the overpowering scent--always more pronounced with younger alphas.

 

A moment later, he froze as one particular, familiar scent reached his nose--Yoongi still couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was, but it didn’t make his nose twitch in displeasure like the others did.

 

He glanced up, and--sure enough, there he was. Jeon Jungkook.

 

He finished stacking the plates and hurried to the kitchen, almost colliding with Lisa.

 

“Shit, sorry,” he said, reaching out to steady her--she was carrying a full tray.

 

“Are you okay?” She asked, frowning at him.

 

“Yeah, I just-- there’s a group of college kids who just came in. Would you mind taking their table?”  It wasn’t an unusual request--Lisa usually agreed to trade tables with him on the rare occasion kids from the university came into the cafe.

 

Lisa made an apologetic face. “I would, but I’ve just been requested by two different tables.”

 

Yoongi sighed. “Ah. Alright. I’ll take them.”

 

“Sorry!” Lisa called after him.

 

Yoongi headed to the kitchen to dump the plates and get a drink of water before slowly heading back out to the table by the window.

 

“Welcome to The Cookie Jar, my name’s Min Yoongi, and I’ll be your server today. Are you ready to order?”

 

“Well... hey,” the closest kid, an alpha with a particularly unpleasant scent, grinned at him, staring unabashedly. The rest of the alphas at the table were doing much the same--except, he noticed, Jungkook, whose eyes were fixed on his menu.

 

“Are you ready to order?” Yoongi repeated, forcing himself not to shift uncomfortably under the leering gazes.

 

“Mm. Yeah,” the alpha said.

 

“What would you like?” Yoongi prompted, when he didn’t continue.

 

The kid licked his lips. “Hm, I think I’ve got an idea...” he drawled, slowly dragging his eyes down Yoongi’s body in a way that made his skin crawl. Several of the others at the table laughed.

 

Yoongi was just fantasising about punching the alpha in his stupid, smug face, when Jungkook suddenly spoke up. “I’ll have a strawberry milkshake, please.”

 

“Okay. One strawberry milkshake coming up,” Yoongi wrote the order down on his pad. “And what else?”

 

This seemed to prompt the rest of the table, a couple of the others glancing down again at their menus, and--aside from a whole lot more inappropriate staring--Yoongi managed to take the rest of their order without incident.

 

He’d brought their drinks to the table and was reaching over to hand the last kid his Coke, when he felt a hand on his thigh.

 

He glanced down, and--of course. It was the same alpha kid from before. He smirked up at Yoongi, as if daring him to do something about it.

 

Ordinarily, Yoongi would’ve been furious. But instead, all he felt for several moments was humiliation. It was one thing being groped by some random, middle-aged alpha. But this kid went to the same school as him--they all did. There was every chance Yoongi would have to see them again.

 

The hand squeezed his thigh.

 

Hyung,” came a quiet voice, and Yoongi glanced over to see Jungkook glaring at the alpha kid, sharp expression entirely at odds with his tone.

 

The alpha removed his hand. “Oops,” he said, still smirking obnoxiously. Yoongi’s hand twitched, the urge to punch the kid in his smug face returning along with a sharp jolt of anger.

 

Jungkook made a low noise, and the alpha rolled his eyes. “Alright, alright. Calm down, JK. It was just a joke.”

 

Yeah, really fucking hilarious, Yoongi thought. But all he said was, “This cafe has a strict no touching policy.”

 

He was met with a shrug. “Sorry. My bad.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes narrowed. “Right. Well," he bit out, "ring the bell if you need anything else." With a final, icy glare, he spun around and left.

 

It wasn’t fucking fair, he thought, that the kid would get away with this. There was no point even reporting him to Sungho--all his boss would do was repeat the same warning Yoongi had already given him.

 

And if he gave the kid a piece of his mind, took him down a few, much needed, pegs--well, then, that’d only succeed in getting him trouble--and at worst, fired.

 

It was useless.

 

He’d just reached the kitchen doors, tray in hand, when he was stopped by Irene, a longtime employee, and a couple of years’ his senior.

 

“I saw what happened, Yoongi-ssi. Are you alright?”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. Don’t worry about it, noona.”

 

“I’ll take over that table for you,” she told him.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

She nodded. “Yes. I know some of those kids, they’re friends with my little brother. I doubt they’ll try anything with me. And if they do, I’ll report them to Sungho--and tell him they harrassed you, too.”

 

“I... okay,” Yoongi agreed, reluctantly. While Sungho didn’t particularly like Irene, she’d worked at the cafe for a longer than any of the rest of them, and had so many loyal regulars that business would probably suffer significantly if she were to quit.

 

Still feeling a little guilty, he let Irene take over the table, heading to the door to greet a group of businessmen who’d just arrived.

 

He’d served them tea--thankfully, they all seemed more interested in discussing some incredibly dull sounding project than they did in him--before he noticed the time. It was finally his break. Thank god--a precious half hour in which he could sit down in peace.

 

He headed towards to the back, mind on his sad lack of lunch--hopefully one of the kitchen stuff would take pity on him. Or maybe--

 

A by now familiar voice jolted him out of his thoughts.

 

“Min Yoongi-ssi?” Yoongi turned, startled, to see Jungkook standing there.  His eyes flicked up and down Yoongi's body, so quickly Yoongi almost didn’t catch it, before snapping up to his face and fixing there.

 

“Yes...?” He asked, frowning slightly. Without his permission, his hand reached down to tug at the hem of his skirt. The way Jungkook was looking at him was... well, not the same way his friend had. But still, it made him feel... weirdly exposed.

 

“I...” Jungkook shifted from one foot to the other, the only sign he was anything other than completely at ease--his expression was impassive as usual (not that Yoongi had been looking at him enough to notice something like that. Obviously). “Look, I just wanted to say I’m really sorry for what happened before, for my friend...” He trailed off.

 

“Groping me?” Yoongi finished for him, arching an eyebrow.

 

“Yes. That. It was..." Jungkook paused, a line appearing between his brows, "... completely inappropriate." Yoongi stifled a snort at his choice of words. “He was being an asshole, and I’m sorry,” Jungkook finished.

 

“Right. Well, thanks, kid. Though your friend really should be apologizing to me himself.”

 

Jungkook hesitated, and Yoongi laughed dryly. “That is, if he was even remotely sorry. Which he isn’t, is he?” He sighed. “Honestly, it’s fucking knotheads like that that make me hate my job,” he muttered, under his breath.

 

It was true, after all. Yoongi didn’t have any deep seated opposition to serving tea and fancy pastries, or even with talking to customers. It was the ones who took at too far, who acted as if they had some kind of... some kind of right to stare at him, to touch him--they were the ones who made it so shitty for him, and for all the other omegas working there.

 

“Why do you work here, then? I mean... if you hate it?” Jungkook's voice was quiet. Yoongi  looked up at him in surprise. For a moment, he thought he saw a hint of something like concern in Jungkook's eyes.

 

But... no. That was ridiculous, he told himself. They didn't even know each other.

 

And it was a stupid question, anyway--Yoongi would have thought that much was obvious. But Jungkook’s tone was genuinely confused.

 

Of course... what would this kid know about not having enough to pay rent and bills, enough to buy food?

 

“Money,” he said, shortly. “Why are you friends with assholes?” He couldn’t resist adding.

 

Jungkook’s brows knitted together. “They’re... they’re not always like that,” he murmured, though Yoongi couldn’t help but think he didn’t sound entirely convinced.

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Right. I'm sure they’re all wonderful, upstanding members of the community."

 

Jungkook was frowning now. “Look,” he said, “I just came to apologize. I didn’t ask for your opinion on who I choose to spend my time with.”

 

“Fine,” Yoongi snapped, “well, you did it. You apologized, for something you didn’t even do in the first place. Give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve achieved absolutely nothing.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widened, and Yoongi suppressed a small wince. Shit. He hadn’t really meant to be that rude.

 

It wasn’t his fault, though, he told himself. He was already in a bad mood--not to mention fucking starving, at this point--and somehow, Jungkook was just making it worse. With his... his stupid asshole friends, his stupid, broad shoulders and irritatingly handsome face, his strangely appealing scent. Everything about him made Yoongi feel as if he’d been thrown off balance, and he didn’t like it one bit.

 

Jungkook was staring at him now. He looked... surprised? Shocked? He probably wasn’t used to being spoken to like that, Yoongi thought, wryly. His eyes had gone wide, and it made him look younger. Yoongi wondered how old he was. Taehyung had said he was a sophomore, so he couldn't be more than, what, nineteen? Twenty?

 

He didn’t speak, and Yoongi huffed. “Well, thanks for apologizing.” Oops. That didn’t sound particularly sincere. “Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I’m on my break now.”

 

And with that, he turned and stalked off, not sparing Jungkook another backward glance. He wondered if the kid would complain to Sungho about his rude employee. Sometimes Yoongi got the feeling it wouldn't take much for Sungho to find an excuse to let him go. He wasn't even sure the man had wanted to hire in the first place--it had eventually transpired that Yoongi, along with a couple of others, had been recruited to replace several previous employees who'd all quit at short notice.

 

For a while he'd at least had the advantage (if you could call it that) of being the cafe's only male omega staff member--male omegas were comparatively rarer, after all. But there were a couple of others now, too, both of whom Yoongi privately thought were much more suited to the role than he was, much better at playing into the omega stereotype--sweet, cheerful, and accommodating, flirty while still being respectful. All things Yoongi struggled with--having to smile through it all, pretend that he enjoyed being flirted with by alphas twice or three times his age (or... by alphas, period) that he wasn't bothered by being spoken to in a way that was at best patronizing, and at worst, downright creepy.

 

Really, he could completely and utterly understand why, from what he'd heard, one of the previous employees had quit right in the middle of his shift. It was something he fantasised about doing himself. Often.

 

But... he couldn't.

 

So hopefully the kid wouldn't say anything.

 

He managed to scrounge up a slice of walnut cake from the kitchen--not exactly a nutritious lunch, but he did manage to get his hands on a mug of coffee, too--and the rest of his shift, thankfully, passed quickly.

 

It was his turn on the rota, along with Lisa and a couple of the others--Jiwoo, one of the other male omegas, and a new girl whose name he wasn’t sure of--to stay behind for an extra half hour of clean up duty. Yoongi rushed through his section as quickly as possible before heading to the staffroom. He had a free evening, and he couldn’t wait to take the ridiculous outfit off, go home and curl up on his couch with his laptop and Netflix queue.

 

Lisa joined him at his locker after he’d changed back into his (blessedly comfortable and oversized) hoodie and jeans. “Hey... wasn’t that Jeon Jungkook you were talking to earlier?” She asked, eyes alight with interest.

 

Yoongi resisted the urge to bang his head against his locker. “What the fuck," he muttered, "why is everybody on campus obsessed with that guy?”

 

Lisa’s brows raised in surprise. “Woah, calm down. I was just wondering.”

 

“Sorry,” Yoongi muttered. “Just... not really a fan.”

 

Lisa frowned. “Did he do something?”

 

Yoongi sighed. “Ah--no. I just...” he huffed. “Nothing,” he mumbled.

 

Lisa was watching him, expression far too interested for Yoongi’s liking. “Ooh, is there something going on with you guys?”

 

Yoongi’s head snapped around. “What? No. No. What would make you think that?”

 

Lisa giggled. She reached out, gently poking his cheek. “You’ve gone kinda red.”

 

Yoongi opened his mouth to protest, but someone else spoke up first.

 

“I wouldn’t bother if I were you.” It was the new girl. “People are saying he’s slept with half the omegas on campus already. I mean... if you’re looking for a fuck buddy, I guess--but I hear he’s shit in bed, too.”

 

“Yeah, pretty sure that part’s not true," Jiwoo piped up, "one of my friends hooked up with him last month, said it was the best sex he’s ever had with an alpha.”

  

The girl raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Really? In my experience, alphas like that don’t tend to bother. I mean, he's rich as fuck--and hot, too. Everyone’s gonna throw themselves at him regardless."

 

Jiwoo shrugged. “Well, apparently he did bother. My friend wouldn’t stop going on about it for nearly a week afterwards, said he came like four times.”

 

Yoongi slammed his locker shut, making them all jump. “Gotta go, gonna miss my bus.” He muttered, slinging his backpack over his shoulder.

 

“See you tomorrow, Yoongi-ssi!” Lisa called after him as he made his way out, the others echoing her.

 

“See you,” Yoongi called back.

 

He stepped out into the cold night air, shivering a little. The hoodie wasn’t really enough in this weather--he really needed a proper winter coat. However, unless his tips suddenly started doubling, that was unlikely to be a possibility.

 

He made the short walk to the bus stop, leaning against the bench and closing his eyes--okay, so he’d lied, his bus was still ten minutes away--rubbing at his temples in an attempt to assuage the headache he could feel creeping up.

 

Best sex he’s ever had with an alpha.

 

He came like four times.

 

The words popped into his head unbidden, and Yoongi groaned, banging his head lightly against the wall of the bus stop, wincing when the action set off a dull ache in his right temple.

 

Shut up, he told his brain, I don’t care. I don’t care about Jeon Jungkook

 

I don't care about his sex life. I don’t care who he’s friends with. I don’t even care if he thinks I’m an asshole.

 

I don't care.

 

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi had been seventeen when he had his first heat.

 

It was a chilly February afternoon, and he’d been in the middle of an exceptionally dull History class. His attention had long since wandered from the teacher’s repetitive droning on and on about the key dates of the Joseon dynasty, and he’d been alternating between doodling and scrawling snippets of song lyrics in his notebook, when he’d felt it.

 

A strange, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his belly--almost like a cramp, but not quite. Despite the cold weather and the draft from the window next to him, he began to feel warm. So warm that his palms started to sweat, making it difficult to grip the pen.

 

Yoongi had cast his mind back to lunch, wondering if he’d eaten something from the cafeteria that had upset his stomach. Everyone else seemed to be fine, though.

 

When the weird not-quite-cramps worsened, he’d excused himself to go to the school nurse.

 

He’d tried to explain the symptoms, but had barely had a chance to finish before she was shaking her head.

 

“It’s not food poisoning, dear,” she’d said. She was looking at him with a sympathetic expression he didn’t quite understand. “You’re... well. You’re presenting.”

 

“I’m... what?” Yoongi frowned. “I... I’m going into rut?”

 

Her expression grew even more sympathetic. She shook her head again. “No, honey. You’re going into heat.”

 

Yoongi’s jaw dropped.  “What?” He croaked. “I’m... I’m presenting as--an omega?”

 

“I’m afraid so, dear.”

 

And Yoongi... Yoongi hadn’t expected that. Hadn’t even considered it.

 

The current thinking--though admittedly, the research into the subject was somewhat lacking--was that secondary gender was primarily hereditary, and there hadn’t been a male omega in his family for... he wasn’t even sure how long (with the exception of one great uncle, who hardly anybody ever spoke about). His parents were both alphas. So was his elder brother.

 

And besides, sixteen or seventeen was the usual age to present as an omega--alphas tended to present a year or so later--and Yoongi was just one month away from his eighteenth birthday. Not that it was impossible after that, just a little more unusual, but... still.

 

He’d really thought, at this point, that was going to end up as a beta. He hadn’t particularly been bothered by the thought.

 

But an omega? He didn’t know how to feel about that. Didn’t know what to think. Actually--it was getting hard to think, he felt so dizzy and strange, something deep inside of him beginning to ache.

 

The nurse had called his mother to come pick him up. He’d only realized that she must not have explained why when he got into the car and his mother inhaled sharply, eyes widening.

 

“Yoongi-yah...” she whispered, “you’re--you’re. Oh. Oh, god.”

 

Yoongi leant forward in his seat, fiddling with the car’s air conditioner. Fuck, he was so hot. “Can we just... go home, please?” He mumbled. “I... I really don’t feel good.”

 

His mother had put the car into gear and hit the gas without saying another word.


The silence had continued all the way home. By that time, Yoongi hadn’t been able to do anything but stumble to his room on legs that felt like jelly and collapse onto the bed.

 

He’d been vaguely aware of his mother moving around, closing the blinds, of her leaving water and food on his nightstand, before she’d left, closing the door quietly behind her.

 

What had followed was nearly forty-eight hours of sheer and utter misery. He’d barely been able to move from the bed, though it was suddenly almost unbearably uncomfortable--the sheets irritated his skin, and he was torn between the desire to curl up under the blankets in an attempt to seek comfort, and the equally desperate urge to throw them off because he was so fucking hot, it felt like he was burning up from the inside out.

 

The worst part, though, by far, had been the heavy, bone deep ache which had settled into every part of his body--a desperation and longing so intense that tears had stung his eyes, that he’d been aware, distantly, of making sounds of distress, little sobs and whines that sounded foreign to his own ears.

 

And no matter what he did, what he tried, nothing seemed to be enough to stall that awful feeling for more than a few minutes of relief--if you could even call it that.

 

He’d woken late on the evening of the second day to find that he felt almost normal again--the all consuming ache, the frantic desperation dulled enough that was abruptly aware of being both uncomfortably sticky (he didn’t even want to think about the state of his sheets right now) and absolutely, completely starving.

 

He stumbled to the shower, then down to the kitchen, rooting through the fridge for anything and everything he could find.  He plated a strange assortment of food and brought it to the dining room, only to find his parents already there.

 

They both just stared at each other for a long moment.

 

It was his mother who spoke first. “Yoongi-yah,” she’d murmured, “are... are you alright?”

 

He nodded, slowly. “I’m fine, eomma.” She looked worried, and Yoongi wondered, with a sudden, hot rush of shame and embarrassment, if they’d been able to hear him, to hear the... the noises he'd been making.

 

His father’s expression was, by contrast, almost completely blank--but there was something in it there that unnerved Yoongi, enough that he suddenly didn’t feel that hungry anymore.

 

He watched as his father drew in a deep breath. “We need to talk, Yoongi-yah.”

 

“Uh. O... okay?”

 

“We haven’t had a...” his father frowned, “a male omega in this family in generations.”

 

Yoongi wanted to mention great uncle Hojun, but something made him hold his tongue. (Besides, he’d never even met the man).

 

He watched, surprised, as his father suddenly sighed heavily, removing his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. “To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to do.”

 

Yoongi frowned. Why did they have to do anything? He knew his parents, and most of the rest of their family, had somewhat... traditional views when it came to the subject of omegas. Of the few omegas in the family--all female--all had bonded and had kids young, become homemakers. None had pursued education past high school. This wasn’t exactly unusual--in most parts of the country, at least, especially the more rural areas. Seoul was one of the only places where it was more common to find omegas in the professions.

 

And as for his uncle--though he’d never really understood what had happened, he’d been vaguely aware that the reason Hojun was estranged almost certainly had something to with his secondary gender.

 

But surely, though, this was different? He was their son. And he couldn’t change his status. There was nothing to be done about it.

 

“I think,” his father finished, finally, “it may be best if you see Dr. Guen about suppressants. We’ll have to ensure it’s in confidence, of course.”

 

“I mean, I was going to, anyway...” Yoongi started, not really sure what to make of the latter part of the statement. With suppressants, heats would be every six months, rather than three, and only half heats instead of full ones. After what he’d just been through, that definitely sounded appealing.

 

His father was shaking his head. “No, not the... ah, not the regular kind, Yoongi-yah. The proper ones.”

 

The... what?

 

Oh. Oh.

 

And then, Yoongi understood. Understood what his father was trying to say, what he’d meant by in confidence.

 

They wanted him to hide it. To hide being an omega. Wanted to him go on high strength suppressants, the kind with scent blockers. The kind that would ensure that he’d pass a beta.

 

His father must have seen something in his expression, because he spoke again. “Son, you have to understand that this is... awkward, for us. Your brother is an alpha. All your cousins are alphas, or betas. We expected you’d be the same--so did everyone. We... well, we didn’t expect this to happen.”

 

“Eunji and Sungmi are omegas,” Yoongi mumbled, though he was already quite sure what the response to that would be.

 

“They’re girls, Yoongi-yah. It’s different. More... expected.” More acceptable, Yoongi heard.

 

“Your mother and I need some time to figure out the best course of action, here. I hope you can understand that.”

 

Yoongi looked to his mother, but she was looking down at her hands, clasped together on the table. She wouldn't meet his eyes.

 

He hesitated. Things with his parents hadn’t been... great lately. It had been that way ever since the previous Christmas, when he'd first brought up the subject of pursuing music as a career after he graduated--just a few months away now. Since then, the atmosphere in the house had been... strained, at best. Especially once his brother, who’d been home for the holidays, had gone back to college, leaving the three of them alone. There had a great many long, awkward silences at the dinner table. To be honest, they hadn't really spoken properly in months--unless you counted arguments. There had been quite a few of those.

 

"I..." Yoongi bit his lip. He really didn’t want to start another fight. Not right now. Not when he was still feeling like this, drained and exhausted, in a way that felt more than just physical. “Okay,” he said, finally.

 

“Ah, good,” his father murmured, “I knew you’d understand.” I don’t, Yoongi wanted to say. I don’t understand. But he kept quiet. “I’ll make the appointment.”

 

 

*

 

Yoongi shifted uncomfortably on the cold metal table, suppressing a shiver at the draft that the thin gown he wore did little to hinder.

 

Why did the doctor’s office always have to be so damn cold?

 

The door creaked open, and he looked up to see Dr. Cheong. The beta nodded at him in greeting. “Min Yoongi-ssi, how have you been?” She asked, warmly.

 

Yoongi liked Dr. Cheong. She was in her early fifties, with steely, gray hair, and rather stern looking. Despite appearances, however, he’d found her to be kind and understanding, more so than any other doctor he'd seen. He appreciated how she spoke to him--as if they were equals. He’d learnt it was surprisingly (or perhaps it wasn't really that surprising) hard to find a doctor who didn’t talk down to him. Dr. Guen, the elderly alpha who’d been their family doctor, had certainly always done so.

 

He had his usual check up--a regular occurrence for most omegas, or at least, those on suppressants (and those with either health insurance, or, in his case, access to the university’s health facilities) and watched while she made her notes, tapping away on the keyboard of the ancient PC which sat on the desk.

 

“So,” she said, finally, looking up from the screen, “your heat release is scheduled for the beginning of next week.”

 

Yoongi nodded. “I know.” He hadn’t exactly been looking forward to it--but then, it was only a half heat. He hadn’t experienced a full one since he’d first presented (something which he was infinitely thankful for).

 

“You’ve got time off work?”

 

“Yeah, I have a couple of days off.” The half heat would only last twelve hours, at most, but it was impossible to tell exactly when it would hit, so he had Monday and Tuesday off from the cafe.

 

“Alright, then. Great. I’ll give you a refill prescription for the next three months, which you can start taking again after the heat has passed.”

 

Yoongi nodded. He knew the drill.

 

Dr. Cheong hesitated. “I’m afraid that, ah--the price has gone up a bit, though.”

 

Yoongi frowned. “By how much?”

 

“For the brand you’re on--about ten thousand won.”

 

Yoongi gaped at her. “It’s already over fifty thousand!” Fifty thousand he struggled to afford in the first place. “I... is there another brand I could switch to? A cheaper one?”

 

“They’re all about the same, I’m afraid. Even the generic, non-brand versions. There are a couple with a more significant price difference, but I really wouldn’t recommend them. Quite frankly, I don’t even think they should be on the market.”

 

Fuck. Yoongi didn’t want to switch medications. He’d done his research, back when he’d started, and the type he was taking at the moment were thought to have by far the least in the way of long-term side effects. 

 

Dr. Cheong sighed. “The government has increased all prices for all types of suppressant medication recently. For alphas, too. Though...” she trailed off at the expression on his face. “I know,” she murmured, “it’s not the same. But unfortunately there’s nothing I can do.”

 

She was right. It wasn’t the same, at all. Alphas naturally experienced ruts twice a year, at most, and as a result, very few chose to take suppressants. And just about none took scent blockers.

 

Shit. He really couldn’t afford this.

 

But... he couldn’t afford not to keep taking the suppressants, either. Maybe he really would have to switch. He’d have to at least consider it, anyway--though he wanted to do a bit of research online first. Maybe there were other omegas with the same issue who might be looking for ways around it, too.

 

He sighed, and took the prescription. 

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi stood outside the lecture hall, sipping his coffee, absently scrolling through his phone as he waited for Taehyung to get out of his morning class.

 

He really shouldn’t have stopped for the coffee--not after he’d just had to pay over sixty thousand fucking won for suppressants--but he was feeling pretty sorry for himself. Besides, it was goddamn freezing.

 

He watched as students began to filter out of the building, searching for the beta's bright red hair amongst the crowd. Eventually, Yoongi spotted him--or, the top of his head, at least--he was still partially obscured by other students.

 

They began to disperse, and Yoongi almost groaned out loud when he saw who it was Taehyung was talking to. Jungkook.

 

He’d had a blissfully Jeon Jungkook free week so far. (Or, well. There’d been a bit more discussion in the staff room at the cafe, but Yoongi had tuned it out. And he definitely, absolutely had not thought about Jungkook at any time other than that).

 

He sighed. All good things had to come to an end, he supposed.

 

A few minutes later, Taehyung bounded over. “Hi, hyung! Sorry, didn’t see you there!”

 

“S’alright,” Yoongi shrugged. He started to walk, keen to get out of the cold.“Were you just, ah...” 

 

Taehyung followed, raising a brow. “Yeah, I was talking to Jungkook, if that’s what you’re asking. We got paired up for a project and we've been working on it together. He’s the one who spotted you, actually. But he said he had another class so he had to go.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Taehyung sighed. “Don’t be weird about this, hyung. I know you two got off on the wrong foot, but he’s actually pretty cool."

 

“I didn’t say anything,” Yoongi protested, half heartedly.

 

“You were saying it with your eyes,” Taehyung informed him, knowingly.

 

Yoongi snorted. “Was I?”

 

“Yes,” Taehyung nodded decisively. “And by the way, I don’t think Jungkook-ah really had another class. I think he was too scared to come over and talk to you.”

 

Yoongi sputtered. “What?”

 

“Look, I don’t know what you said to him in the library, but he acts kind of weird whenever I mention you.”

 

Ah. So Jungkook hadn’t told Taehyung about the little incident at the cafe. Yoongi couldn’t help but feel relieved--he’d made it a habit to avoid mentioning that sort of thing to his friends. He knew it would only upset them.

 

“I’m sure he’s not scared of me, Tae,” he scoffed, “that’s ridiculous. If anything, he probably just thinks I'm jerk and wants to avoid me. Not, ah... not that I can blame him. I was... well. Pretty rude to him.”

 

“Were you?”

 

“Mm,” Yoongi admitted, a little sheepishly. “Yeah.”

 

“Hm,” Taehyung looked thoughtful. “Maybe. Didn’t really seem like that's what it was, though,” he murmured, almost to himself.

 

Yoongi sighed. “Can we please talk about something else?”

 

Taehyung gave him a sideways look--sometimes the kid was too damn perceptive for his own good, really. All he said, though, was, “Okay, hyung. Hey, you’re coming out with us this Saturday, right?”

 

“Yeah, I’m coming.” He was actually quite looking forward to it.

 

“Cool. It’s gonna be lit!”

 

Yoongi grimaced. “Lit? Seriously? What are you, twelve?”

 

Taehyung grinned. “Don’t be jealous, hyung. Just ‘cause you’re so old.

 

“Hey, watch it, kid. Or hyung’s not gonna help you with that project you’ve been whining about.” He'd promised to help Taehyung with an assignment for the photography elective he was taking which he’d been--well, not exactly whining--but rather fretting about for the past week.

 

“Mm. I think you will.”

 

“Oh, really?”

 

“Yeah. You’d never let me fail a class, not if you could help it.”

 

Yoongi tried not to smile. “Wouldn’t I?”

 

“Nope. You’re all talk, hyung. I figured that out a long time ago. We all did.”

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Brat.” He couldn’t really bring himself to be annoyed. There was something about the Taehyung’s sheer... well, certainty that Yoongi would help him, no matter what, that made something soft and warm curl in his chest.

 

The next moment, Taehyung began chattering about some girl taking the same photography elective, how she'd just moved here from Australia and could play the guitar and sing ("she showed me a video on her Insta, and her voice is amazing, hyung!")--seemed like maybe he had a bit of a crush, Yoongi thought, with some amusement--and the conversation moved on.

 

And if he found himself wondering, somewhere in the back of his mind, just what exactly Taehyung had said to Jungkook about him--well.

 

He was just... curious. That was all.

 

*

 

 

The rest of the week slipped by in a blur of classes and coffee, shifts at the cafe and late night sessions at the library--and before Yoongi knew it, he standing in front of Namjoon, Jin and Hoseok's front door, bottle of soju in hand.

 

They’d all agreed to meet there for drinks before heading out--a usual occurence, since their shared house was much bigger than Taehyung and Jimin’s cramped apartment (Yoongi's was barely worth mentioning).

 

He rung the bell and waited, hearing laughter and shouts in inside, followed by footsteps. The door was pulled open to reveal Hoseok, grinning and looked a little flushed already.

 

“Hyung! Finally! You’re late.”

 

“Work ran over,” Yoongi grumbled, by way of explanation, as he stepped inside, “missed my bus. Plus, I had to stop on the way for this.”

 

“Oh, great, thanks!” Hoseok had grabbed the bottle out of his hand and was heading to the kitchen before Yoongi could stop him.

 

“Yah, that isn’t just for you, you know!” He called after Hoseok, annoyed.

 

“What’s that? I didn’t hear you!”

 

Yoongi huffed. He headed through to living room--and stopped.

 

There, sitting on the couch next to Taehyung and Jimin, was Jungkook.

 

What the fuck.

 

He absently responded to the greetings that rung out upon his arrival, but his mind was still completely stuck on the fact that Jungkook was here.

 

Was this some kind of cosmic joke? Was the universe having one big fucking laugh at his expense?

 

It must be. Or else how the hell was this kid so completely and utterly inescapable?

 

There was a hint of something a little guilty in Taehyung’s expression when he met Yoongi’s gaze. But all he said was, “Hey, hyung! You know Jungkook, right?”

 

“Uh... yeah. Hi.”

 

“Hi,” Jungkook murmured.

 

“Oh, how do you two know each other?” Namjoon asked.

 

Yoongi hesitated, unsure of how to respond. He definitely couldn’t tell them about the cafe.

 

Unwillingly, he found his eyes drawn to Jungkook’s, finding the same uncertainty that must have been in his own reflected there. Apparently, neither of them particularly felt like explaining how it was that they knew each other (if you could even call it that).

 

“I. Ah. We met in the library,” he explained, when Jungkook didn’t speak up.

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook echoed.

 

Taehyung, the only one who knew at least half the story, was looking between them with interest. Yoongi half expected him to chime in with what, exactly, had happened in the library. But, to his surprise, Taehyung stayed quiet.

 

At that moment, Jin and Hoseok emerged from the kitchen, and Yoongi realized he was still just standing there awkwardly. He dropped down into the armchair--the only available seat--tucking his legs under him and shrugging his jacket off.

 

“I need a drink,” he said, holding out his hand without looking up.

 

Hoseok handed the bottle back, along with a glass, and Yoongi scowled. “What the fuck, there’s like a quarter missing already!”

 

“Jin had some too!” Hoseok protested.

 

“God, you’re like fucking vultures,” Yoongi grumbled.

 

“I’ll buy you a drink later, Yoongi-yah,” Jin promised, patting his head.

 

“You better.” Yoongi poured himself a glass and handed the bottle back to Jin so he could put it on the coffee table--it was too far for Yoongi to reach from his position curled up in the armchair.

 

“Hey, how’s that track you’re working on, Joon-ah?” He called to Namjoon, who was seated on the floor next to the sofa. Namjoon had just come from a meeting with his professor the last time they'd seen each other, nearly a week ago now, and he'd been worrying about it then. Yoongi had been so busy he'd forgotten to check in to see how it'd been going.

 

“Mm, yeah, good, I think. Actually, I’ve been meaning to ask you, though, would you mind having a listen? There’s a couple of parts I wanted your opinion on.”

 

“Yeah, of course.” Yoongi nodded, and the alpha shuffled closer to the armchair, pulling his phone out of his pocket, along with a set of headphones, which he passed to Yoongi.

 

Yoongi put them in and Namjoon pressed play. The music filled his ears, and Yoongi closed his eyes, doing his best to focus despite the laughter and chatter from the others.

 

Namjoon played him the song, plus an alternate version with a different opening and slightly adjusted background track.

 

“Mm,” he murmured, thoughtfully, once he’d finished listening. “I think I like the second version better. It feels like the first is... hm, just--missing something.”

 

Namjoon nodded, slowly. “Yeah... that’s what I thought, too. My professor thinks it’s too obvious--too expected, going for the full band, instead of paring it down. And it is, I guess. But still, I think it just... kinda brings it to life, you know?”

 

“Mm, I know what you mean. The first version just doesn't have that... spark, I guess."

 

“Yeah, exactly,” Namjoon was nodding enthusiastically now. “Now, for vocals--obviously, Jimin did the guide--” Jimin recorded all Namjoon’s guides--they were dating, after all-- “but I’m not sure he’s right for it. Sorry, babe!” He called, when Jimin looked up at his name.

 

“I know what you just said, and I’m heartbroken, Joonie,” Jimin called back, sounding completely unaffected, before returning to his conversation with Jin and Hoseok.

 

They discussed the track for a while longer, going back and forth on different styles of vocals. Now that he didn’t have the headphones on anymore, however, Yoongi found himself somewhat distracted by the others. Or... well. More specifically--Jungkook.

 

He and Taehyung were deep in an animated conversation about some video game Yoongi knew Taehyung was obsessed with--and which Jungkook was also apparently into. (Which... well, somehow Yoongi hadn’t imagined video games to be one of the ways Jungkook spent his time. Not that he'd particularly been thinking about it, of course--but he supposed he'd had a vague idea it'd be more along the lines of popping Cristal in the VIP area of some exclusive club, a pretty omega on his arm, rather than sitting at home playing Overwatch).

 

Yoongi couldn’t help but overhear the conversation (well, more Taehyung’s side of it, really--the kid was a loud talker). Not that it particularly interested him, or even really made much sense, but he found his attention caught on Jungkook--on his eager, enthusiastic gesticulations, his wide grin.

 

It couldn't have been more of a 180 from how he'd been the previous times Yoongi had met him--from the quiet, coolly detached air he projected, the impassive expression he usually seemed to wear.

 

This was... completely different. And Yoongi decided that he didn't like it, not one bit.

 

Before, he’d been able to admit to himself that, yeah, the kid was attractive. Handsome, even. Objectively speaking.

 

But now... god. Why did he have to be so... so fucking cute?

 

That thought alone made him knock back half of the soju in his glass in one go.

 

This had to be the universe fucking with him. There was no other reasonable explanation.

 

All he’d wanted, from the moment they’d met--and especially after their encounter at the cafe--was to forget about the kid.

 

Instead, he kept popping up everywhere.

 

The universe definitely hates me, he decided.

 

“Huh? What was that, hyung?” Namjoon looked up, and Yoongi realized he’d spoken out loud. Shit, he must be more drunk than he’d thought.

 

“Uh. Nothing.”

 

 

*

 

 

When it came time to head for the club, Yoongi and Taehyung were the last out the door--something he realized wasn’t a coincidence when Taehyung tugged on his sleeve, pulling him back into the hallway.

 

“Huh?” It took a couple of seconds for Yoongi’s brain, a little fuzzy with alcohol, to catch up. “What?”

 

Taehyung was looking at him, sheepishly. “Sorry I didn’t tell you about inviting Jungkook,” he said, “I was worried you wouldn’t come if I did.”

 

Yoongi huffed. “I’m not five, Taehyung-ah. I can handle being around someone I don’t particularly like.”

 

Yeah, but that’s not the problem, is it? A helpful little voice in the back of his head piped up. The problem really isn't that you don't like him. Quite the opposite, in fact.

 

Taehyung was looking at him with a slightly skeptical expression. “Really?”

 

“Yes. Really,” Yoongi rolled his eyes. 

 

"Okay. Well... look, just. Don't give him too much of a hard time, alright?" Taehyung said, expression beseeching in a way he knew perfectly well Yoongi found it hard to say no to, the little shit. "Part of the reason I invited him is 'cause  I don’t think he has many friends here.”

 

Now it was Yoongi’s turn to look skeptical. “Seems like he has plenty to me.”

 

Taehyung shook his head, slowly. “Yeah, that’s what I thought at first, too. But... I don’t know. I guess he hangs around with some of the guys on the football team, sometimes. But it doesn’t seem like he likes them that much."

 

Yoongi frowned, wondering if this was the same group Jungkook had come to the cafe with. Jungkook didn’t like them?

 

Guys!” Came Namjoon’s voice from outside, followed by the sound of footsteps up the garden path. “What the hell are you doing? Hurry up, the cab’s here!”

 

“So just... be nice, okay?” Taehyung murmured to him, before yelling towards the door, “Coming, hyung!”

 

Yoongi opened his mouth to reply, but Taehyung was already out the door.

 

 

*

 

 

Just over an hour later, Yoongi was heading off the dancefloor, alcohol thrumming pleasantly through his veins, reaching up to undo another button on his shirt as he went. It was positively sweltering in the club--though at least it made a change from the chilly weather outside, unseasonably cold for October.

 

He pushed his way through the crowd at the bar--most of them already had drinks in hand, so thankfully, he didn’t have wait long to be served.

 

He leant against the bar as he waited, still a little out of breath from the past thirty minutes or so dancing with Jimin, Tae and Hoseok. He was reaching into his pocket for his wallet to pay for the drink the bartender had just set down, wondering if maybe he really should start working out more, when he heard a voice to his right.

 

“I’ll get this one.” Yoongi felt himself tense at the unpleasantly sharp, almost bitter scent of alpha-- this one mixed with an offensively strong aftershave.

 

“Ah, no, that’s alright--” he began to say, but it was too late--the alpha had already handed the bartender his card.

 

“No worries, it’s on me.” Yoongi turned to see an alpha maybe a few years older than him, well groomed and attractive, in a way that did... absolutely nothing for him.

 

“That really wasn’t necessary,” he said.

 

“Uh huh,” the alpha barely acknowledged the words, instead turning to him, one arm stretching out to rest on the bar behind him, effectively caging him in. He was quite a few inches taller than Yoongi. Yoongi tried to step backwards, but his back was already flush to the bar, leaving him with nowhere to go.

 

“So...” the alpha said, eyes lingering on the strip of skin at Yoongi’s neck in a way that made him wish he hadn’t undone that third button. “I was watching you out on the dancefloor. You’re really fucking sexy, y’know.”

 

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

 

“Mm,” Yoongi replied, noncommittally. 

 

“Do you have an alpha?”

 

Yoongi felt a surge of irritation. Why the fuck was that always the question that was asked? As if whether he had an alpha or not that was the primary determining factor here. And not, say, whether he was actually interested. Which he fucking wasn’t.

 

Though he knew it probably wasn’t a good idea, he shook his head. “No,” he said, “but--”

 

I’m not looking, either, is what he’d been going to say. But he was interrupted. “Oh, good,” the alpha’s eyes were alight with interest now, “so, d’you wanna dance?”

 

“Ah... no, thanks.”

 

“Aw, come on,” the alpha said. One hand reached up to settle at Yoongi’s waist. “Just for a little bit, yeah?”

 

“Look,” Yoongi said, reaching down to remove the hand from his waist and attempting to step away, “I’m not interested, sorry--” What the fuck, why are you apologizing?

 

“C’mon, sweetheart, don’t be like that,” the alpha’s hand wrapped around his upper arm, pulling Yoongi back towards him. “I promise, you won’t regret it--”

 

“I really don’t want to--”

 

“Hey, how about you back the fuck off?” Came a low, irritated sounding voice.  Abruptly, the alpha was yanked forcibly away from him, at the same time a familiar scent reached Yoongi’s nose.

 

Jungkook. Of fucking course. Yoongi wanted to scream in frustration.

 

Why was this happening to him?

 

And the worst part was that the first inhale of Jungkook’s scent had felt almost... soothing, somehow--where before he’d felt tense, on edge. He was hit with an intense urge to breathe in deeply, to move closer to the source of the scent--to Jungkook.

 

Yoongi shook himself, irritation--not to mention utter confusion, because again, what the fuck--rapidly replacing the momentary sense of calm.

 

“Woah, hey,” the alpha complained, rubbing at his arm. He looked at Yoongi accusingly. “You told me you didn’t have an alpha!”

 

Yoongi made a low, irritated noise in the back of his throat. “I don’t.

 

The man glanced at Jungkook, who was standing there with his arms crossed, glaring. “Yeah, but he--” 

 

“Is not my fucking alpha, alright?” Yoongi snapped. “And guess what? I’m still not interested in you. So please would you kindly just fuck off?"

 

The alpha’s jaw dropped. “Jesus fucking christ, what the hell is your problem? I was just being friendly!”

 

“What’s my problem?” Yoongi gaped at him in disbelief. He was really fucking pissed now. “Are you serious? What the fuck is your problem? I couldn’t have made it any clearer that I wasn’t interested!”

 

The alpha was staring at him in what looked like shock. He clearly wasn’t used to an omega calling him out on his bullshit, Yoongi thought, which only made him more annoyed.

 

“Fucking knottease,” he muttered, turning to leave. He slowed as he passed Jungkook. “Good luck with that one, bro. More trouble than he’s worth, if you ask me. Or maybe he just needs a good, hard f--”

 

A loud growl drowned out the rest of the sentence. Yoongi suppressed a shiver at the sound. (An instinctive response, he told himself, that’s all it was).

 

“Alright, alright,” the guy said, putting his hands up, “I’m going.” He backed away, muttering to himself. “Not his alpha, my ass...”

 

Yoongi turned back to Jungkook, who was glaring after the alpha, jaw tightly clenched.

 

“Hey,” he snapped his fingers in front of Jungkook’s face, watching as the anger faded from his expression, his features relaxing as he looked down at Yoongi with wide eyes. “What the hell was that about?” 

 

“Uh...” Jungkook blinked slowly at him. As if he couldn’t help himself, he glanced in the direction the alpha had disappeared. “Didn’t like the way he was talking,” he muttered. “Or the way...” he trailed off. Yoongi looked down to see one of his hands was still clenched into a fist.

 

Ah. He should have realized--he'd forgotten for a moment how young Jungkook was. He was just a baby, really. Alphas around that age were often pretty much consumed by their own raging hormones, and it was common for them to get into fights. It was worse in the lead up to rut.

 

Maybe... Jungkook’s was coming up?

 

And... no. Shit. Don’t think about that.

 

He sighed. “Look, kid, I don’t need some big, strong alpha rushing in to save me, alright? I can handle myself just fine.”

 

Jungkook just stared down at him. “Uh. Right...”

 

Yoongi felt a flare of annoyance. “What, you don’t believe me?”

 

“No, I...”

 

“I had it handled.”

 

“I... I know." Yoongi couldn’t help but notice that Jungkook's expression, which had been so open a moment ago, was once again closed off, unreadable.

 

He ignored the strange sense of disappointment he felt at the sight, the even stranger urge he felt to try and make Jungkook smile the way he had when he’d been talking with Taehyung earlier.

 

“I... I’ll see you later," Jungkook murmured.

 

“See you...”

 

But Jungkook had already turned away, moving off into the crowd, and Yoongi wasn’t sure if he’d heard or not.

 

Yoongi stared after him for a few moments, before shaking himself and turning back to wave over the bartender. “I’ll have another one, please,” he said, gesturing at the glass in the front of him, still untouched.

 

The bartender stared at the full glass in confusion. “I’m not drinking that one,” Yoongi told him.

 

Which was... hm, maybe a little childish. But it was the principle of the thing. He was buying his own drink, goddammit.

 

 

*

 

Yoongi ended up staying by the bar--Hoseok had come over and tried to drag him back out to dance, but he’d resisted. He didn’t feel like attracting any more unwanted attention tonight, and to be honest, the whole thing had dampened his mood considerably. Fucking alphas, he thought, bitterly.

 

He sipped his drink, eyes scanning the mass of bodies on the packed dancefloor, until they caught on person in particular.

 

Jungkook was dancing with a pretty, blonde girl, her back pressed to his chest, his hands on her hips. Really, it was less dancing and more just straight up horizontal grinding.

 

Unwillingly, Yoongi found himself wondering just how much of rumors were true (alright, so maybe he hadn’t been completely able to tune out all that chatter in the staff room.) Half the omegas on campus seemed a little excessive--not to mention unbelievable, since they were only a little over a month into the semester. But... well--the kid certainly didn't seem to be having any trouble tonight. Yoongi hadn't failed to notice the interested looks he'd been getting earlier in the evening--ever since they'd arrived at the club, really.

 

As he watched, the girl tipped her head back to Jungkook's shoulder, and he bent his head to listen as she whispered something in his ear. He couldn’t quite make out Jungkook’s expression, his face partially obscured in the low light, but he saw a half smile pull at the corner of Jungkook’s lips, watched as he shook his head slightly.

 

Yoongi forced himself to turn away, downing the rest of his drink in one go. He contemplated ordering another, but decided against it.  After a moment’s consideration, he instead headed outside to the smoking area. He’d quit a long time ago, but he still indulged occasionally after he’d had a few drinks.

 

He leant back against the wall, exhaling and watching as the smoke curled up into the night air. The beta girl who’d given him the cigarette had given him an interested once over, but had left him alone after he’d moved off with a smile and a thank you.

 

Not that she wasn’t attractive--she was, tall and dark haired, clad in stilettoes and a sheer panelled dress which made Yoongi wonder how she wasn’t freezing to death (he was, despite picking up his jacket from the coat check on the way out). He’d slept with betas before, as well as other omegas--mostly guys, but some girls, too--mostly ones he'd met in situations similar to this one. It was just... easier, somehow--in a way he couldn’t imagine it being with an alpha. (Not that he’d ever tried.)

 

Tonight, though, he found he really wasn’t in the mood.

 

He glanced over as the door to the club opened, and someone stepped out onto the street.

 

Yoongi almost rolled his eyes when he saw who it was. Apparently this was just going to be a thing now--Jungkook and his mysterious ability to materialize out of nowhere wherever Yoongi was. He supposed he’d just have to get used to it.

 

Jungkook moved to stand near the edge of the sidewalk--he didn’t appear to have noticed either Yoongi or the beta girl. Yoongi watched as he tipped his head back, eyes closed, stretching his arms above his head, the movement pulling his t-shirt tight around his shoulders.

 

Yoongi felt his breath catch, throat suddenly feeling dry in a way the cigarette couldn’t quite account for. He found himself unable to tear his gaze away from Jungkook, illuminated in the soft glow of the streetlight, the sweaty hair sticking to his forehead somehow only making him look even more attractive--how fucking unfair was that? 

 

His eyes drifted over the way the muscles in Jungkook’s biceps flexed as he stretched. His shirt had ridden up, revealing several inches of smooth, golden skin, and sharply defined abs.

 

Yoongi swallowed.

 

There was an amused sound to his left, and he turned to see the beta girl giving him a knowing look. He ducked his head, embarrassed to have been caught staring in such an obvious way. (Still. At least it hadn’t been Jungkook who’d caught him.)

 

“Well, I get why you didn’t seem interested, now,” she murmured, sotto voce, “he’s more your type, huh?”

 

“I--no, that’s not...”

 

Sure,” the girl said, still sounding amused--and as if she didn’t believe him one single bit. She tossed her cigarette to the ground, stubbing it out with the toe of one heel before turning to head back inside.

 

The sharp clack of her heels on the sidewalk caused Jungkook to turn. He startled a little when he saw Yoongi.  “Oh... uh. Hi,” he murmured, sounding hesitant.

 

“Hi...” 

 

The silence that ensued was almost unbearably awkward, and Yoongi found himself feeling glad that the beta girl had gone back inside. At least there was no-one around to witness this--well, aside from the club’s bouncer, but he seemed thoroughly engrossed in his phone (it wasn’t exactly the kind of place where people were queuing up to get in the door, so presumably this was how he spent most of his night).

 

Even worse, he’d finished his cigarette, so he didn’t even have anything to do with his hands. He shoved them in his jacket pockets.

 

It was Jungkook who broke the silence. “I, ah... I’m sorry about what happened, back there. I didn’t mean to give the impression that I thought you couldn’t handle yourself. I mean...” an almost sheepish smile pulled at the corner of his lips, and he huffed out a quiet laugh, “clearly, you can.”

 

Yoongi was already shaking his head. “It’s fine--”

 

But Jungkook wasn’t done. “No, look, just--hear me out, okay?” His eyes had gone wide and earnest, his expression almost anxious, in way that made Yoongi feel strangely guilty. He spoke quickly, hurrying over the words. “I just--honestly, I felt like shit about what happened at the cafe the other day. I should have... I should have done more to--” he trailed off, looking frustrated.

 

“Kid, calm down. It’s fine. You did what you could.”

 

Jungkook laughed. It sounded a little bitter. “Doesn’t feel like it.”

 

“Well, you did. And, look, don’t worry about it, okay? It’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened.”

 

He’d only wanted to make Jungkook stop looking so... so upset, but unfortunately his words seemed to have the opposite effect. Jungkook’s brows knitted together. “It’s... it’s not?”

 

Yoongi huffed. “Well... no. I mean... c’mon, kid, it’s an omega maid cafe, for god’s sake. Why do you think alphas go there?”

 

Jungkook just stared at him, frowning. “But it’s against the rules, right? I mean, you said--”

 

“That it was strictly against policy, I know.” He didn’t elaborate, finding himself keen to move on from this particular topic.

 

Jungkook, though, seemed to have filled in the blanks himself, this time. “You didn’t even call your manager...” he murmured, almost to himself. “How... how often does stuff like that happen?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Ah... I mean, not that often,” he hedged. After all, it was kind of true. And though he didn’t quite understand Jungkook’s expression, he sensed any more detail than that wouldn’t be a good idea. He sighed. “Look, anyway--I really should be the one apologizing here.”

 

“For what?”

 

Yoongi stared at him in disbelief. “Are you serious? I... I’ve been a complete jerk to you!”

 

“Oh.” Jungkook shrugged. “Yeah. That.”

 

“Yeah...” Yoongi echoed, still staring, “that. Why don't you--I mean... don’t you care?"

 

“Ah. Well. Kind of? I mean, when we met in the library, yeah. Like, c’mon, you just had to have that one table?”

 

Yoongi felt his lips forming a small pout. “I work better at that table,” he muttered.

 

Jungkook raised an eyebrow. “Uh huh. Well, perhaps you may find this surprising, but you’re not the only one who needs to, y’know... study. In the library. I had work to get done, too.” He raised a hand when Yoongi opened his mouth to speak, an apology on the tip of his tongue. “But, the other times... well. I kind of get where you were coming from.”

 

“You... do?”

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook said. He laughed, a little dryly. “You were right, you know. Those guys are assholes. Especially Jungho.” Judging by Jungkook’s expression, Yoongi was guessing that was the name of the kid who’d tried to put a hand up his skirt (close enough, anyway). “God, I should have just...” he cut himself off, lips pressing together in a thin line.

 

“Why do you hang out with them, then?” Yoongi asked, before he could stop himself. It was close, maybe too close, to the same question he’d asked that day, in the cafe.

 

Thankfully, Jungkook didn’t look offended--maybe because this time, Yoongi’s tone hadn’t been accusatory, just honestly curious.

 

“I mean, I don’t really know many people here yet. And they’re are all on the football team, so they all hang out together. Kinda easy to just, well... join in with that, I guess. And a couple of the guys are alright, actually. But some of them... well. You met them.”

 

Huh.

 

Taehyung had been right.

 

And he’d been wrong. About quite a lot of things, it seemed.

 

“Hey... d’you wanna go back inside?” Jungkook asked, suddenly, distracting Yoongi from his thoughts.

 

“Huh?”

 

“You’re shivering,” Jungkook said, by way of explanation.

 

“Oh, right. Yeah, good call. It’s fucking freezing out here.”

 

He turned to follow Jungkook, gaze falling again on his thin t-shirt. “Aren’t you cold?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “Not really. I was way too hot in there, actually. I had to come outside to cool off.”

 

Yoongi wondered if that had anything to do with the blonde girl he’d been dancing with earlier--and then immediately banished the thought from his mind.

 

“Hey, so, uh...” Jungkook said, pausing in the entryway, “I take it Tae didn’t tell you I was coming tonight?”

 

“How’d you figure that?”

 

“Your expression when you walked in the door. You didn’t look very happy to see me,” he said, quietly.

 

Yoongi glanced at him, but his face gave nothing away. “No, that--ah, that wasn’t it. I was just... surprised.”

 

Jungkook gave him a skeptical look.

 

Yoongi huffed. “That’s what I look like when I’m surprised,” he insisted.

 

“Hm, looked more like abject horror to me.” Jungkook replied. He was smiling a little now, though.

 

“Well, it wasn’t,” Yoongi replied, truthfully.

 

“I’m sorry to like, gatecrash your night out with your friends, though,” Jungkook added, sounding more serious.

 

“It’s fine, kid. Look, as far as I’m concerned, you’re... well, you’re more than welcome, alright?” The smile returned. “Anytime,” he added, just to see Jungkook’s smile widen--which it did, into an adorably crooked grin. Yoongi desperately tried to ignore the way his heart fluttered in his chest at the sight.

 

“Thank you... Yoongi sunbae,” he murmured, sounding almost shy.

 

Yoongi blinked in surprise at the use of the honorific. While given their age difference it was, technically, the correct, properly respectful way for Jungkook to address him, in practice, it was rather uncommon for younger alphas to use the term when speaking to older omegas. (To be honest, outside of class, it was practically unheard of).

 

“Ah... no problem?” He winced when it came out sounding like a question. God, why did everything this kid did seem to throw him so completely off kilter?

 

They’d barely made it back to the table inside when Yoongi stumbled as someone threw their arms around him in an enthusiastic hug.  “Woah... hey, Tae,” he said, reaching up to steady Taehyung before he tipped them both over.

 

“Yoongi hyung! Where’d you go? I was looking for you!” 

 

“I was just... aish, stop, kid, I need to breathe!” Yoongi protested as Taehyung squeezed him tightly.

 

Taehyung gave him a final squeeze before stepping back, wobbling a little precariously.

 

“I was just, uh... outside,” Yoongi explained, after he'd determined that, no, Taehyung was not going to tip over.

 

It was that at that moment that Taehyung finally seemed to notice Jungkook, standing just behind Yoongi, and he grinned. “Jungkookie!” He called, happily. Then his face lit up. “Hey... hey, did you guys make up? Are you friends now?”

 

Yoongi snorted. “Ah...” he paused at Taehyung’s hopeful expression. Friends wasn’t the right word--they barely knew each other, but, well. “Yeah, I guess,” he allowed.

 

“See, Kookie, I told you!”

 

Yoongi glanced back in surprise at Jungkook, wondering what it was exactly Taehyung had told him. Jungkook shrugged, though Yoongi couldn’t help but notice that the tips of his ears had gone slightly red--or then again, maybe it was just the light.

 

Taehyung was tugging his arm now. “Come and dance, hyung!”

 

He didn’t wait for a reply, already beginning to drag Yoongi towards to the dancefloor.

 

“Alright, alright. Jeez, you’re gonna yank my arm off, kid,” Yoongi grumbled, though he didn’t bother to try and extricate himself (not that it would have been hard--Taehyung was really goddamn drunk). He found his mood had lifted again, despite the fact he hadn’t had a drink in long enough that the buzz of alcohol was beginning to fade.

 

He spared a glance back at Jungkook, just about managing to catch a glimpse of him, watching them both, an amused smile on his face, before he was swallowed up by the crowd.

 

 

*

 

Yoongi woke the next morning to dull headache and a horribly dry throat.  He grabbed the glass of water he’d thankfully had the foresight to set on his nightstand before he’d crashed the night before, downing it in one go before collapsing back against the bed.

 

Thank god it was Sunday, and he had the whole day to himself. He fumbled for around for his phone, cracking one eye open to check the time. It was half seven.

 

Ugh. Fuck that. He was definitely going back to sleep.

 

He snuggled back under covers, wriggling around, trying to get comfortable, letting out a little irritated huff when he couldn’t quite seem to manage it.

 

After several more minutes of shifting around uncomfortably, he finally decided he was too warm, and kicked the covers down around his legs. That seemed to do the trick, and he curled onto his side, letting sleep overtake him once again.

 

He woke again, an indeterminate amount of time later, to the unpleasant feeling of sweat sticking his shirt to his back.

 

Hot. Fuck, he was so hot.

 

Blearily, he opened his eyes. He’d kicked the covers right the way down to the bottom of the bed, and it wasn’t exactly warm in the room in the first place--the apartment had no double glazing, something which was especially inconvenient during the winter months--and yet, he was literally covered in sweat.

 

It took a few seconds for his sleep muddled brain to catch up with just what was going on.

 

Fuck. His heat was starting? Now? It was at least a day early!

 

It didn’t make any sense. He’d only finished his last cycle of suppressants on Wednesday, the day before he’d seen Dr. Cheong. They should still be in his system.

 

There was no mistaking the feeling, though. He sat up, too quickly, finding himself swaying slightly, head spinning.

 

God, he really felt like shit.

 

Still, there was nothing to do done about it, he supposed. For whatever reason, this was happening, and he’d just have to deal with it. At least he’d end up with two heat free days off after this. He’d already booked them off work and he doubted there’d be any free shifts now. Too bad.

 

He lowered himself slowly back down to the bed, closing his eyes, wondering if he could get another hour’s sleep before it really hit.

 

His body, however, had other ideas.

 

Over the next half hour or so, everything--from the warmth of his skin to the uncomfortable tightness in his belly, the beginning of the familiar ache settling heavy into his body--seemed to get progressively worse and worse.

 

He tossed and turned on the bed, desperately trying to find a position that felt comfortable, to no avail. All the movement did was make him feel dizzy again, despite the fact that he was lying down, and he finally gave up with a groan, curling up into a ball. 

 

Shit. This didn’t... this didn’t feel right. Half heats sucked, but they didn’t suck this much.

 

This felt familiar. Horribly familar. But... no. It couldn’t be.

 

Fuck. Fuck. How was that even possible? He hadn’t had a full heat since he’d first presented. He’d been on suppressants for years.

 

With a low, pained noise, he uncurled himself and felt around for his phone, grabbing it and flipping through to his recent contacts, tapping call.

 

“Hey, Yoongi hyung!” Jimin greeted, cheerfully. “Didn’t think you’d be up this early! Hey, a bunch of us are gonna grab breakfast if you wanna--”

 

“I can’t,” Yoongi croaked, “I can’t, I...”

 

“Woah,” He could hear the frown in Jimin’s voice. “what’s wrong, hyung? You sound awful. Are you sick?”

 

“No,” Yoongi mumbled. “Heat just started.”

 

“I thought that was beginning of the week?” Jimin sounded confused.

 

“Me too. But, ah... it’s happening now. And I... I think,” he took a deep breath, trying to focus. It was getting harder to formulate his thoughts enough to make any kind of sense, “think it might be a full one.”

 

There was silence. “Hyung... are you sure?”

 

Yoongi nodded, wincing at the way the action made his head spin. He realized a moment later Jimin couldn’t see him. “Yes. Pretty... pretty sure.”

 

“Oh, shit. Did you miss a dose of suppressants or something?”

 

“Uh uh.”

 

“Then how--?”

 

“Jimin-ah,” he cut in, hoarsely, “please, I can’t...” I can barely even think straight right now, let alone have this conversation with you.

 

“Shit. Sorry, hyung. It’s that bad already?”

 

“Mm,” was all Yoongi could manage.

 

“You don’t have enough supplies for a full heat, then?” He waited for Yoongi’s low noise of assent before he continued. “Alright, I’ll be over in like twenty minutes or so, okay? Thirty max.”

 

“Thanks, Jimin-ah,” he mumbled.

 

“No problem, hyung. I’ll there as quick as I can.”

 

He hung up, and Yoongi dropped back onto the bed, head spinning.  He could already feel the beginnings of arousal coiling low in his belly, hot and insistent, and he wriggled uncomfortably, letting a low curse when he felt the wetness between his legs, soaking into the back of his underwear. Shit. He was leaking slick already.

 

This was exactly why Jimin had immediately understood he needed to hurry. He knew that Yoongi wouldn’t want anyone to see him in the state he’d be in very shortly--no omega would, unless it was their partner, or their mate.

 

He just had to last a little bit longer.

 

 

*

 

 

Jimin made it in twenty minutes--Yoongi was so relieved when he heard the sound of the key turning in the lock it felt like he might actually cry.

 

It wasn’t unusual for single omegas to give a trusted friend (almost always also an omega) a key, in case any issues arose during a heat. Yoongi had given Jimin one sometime last year, but he’d never had to use it.

 

He didn’t have a key to Jimin’s, since the omega lived with Taehyung--though Tae was a beta, they were close enough that Jimin actually let him stay in the apartment during heats, as long as he promised to wear headphones or earplugs--and besides, he had Namjoon now.

 

“Hey, hyung,” Jimin greeted, quietly, as he entered the room.

 

Yoongi grunted in acknowledgement from his position curled up on the bed, face half buried in the pillow. He didn’t want to think about what he looked like now--or what the room smelled like.

 

He heard the crinkle of a paper bag being set down, cracked an eye open to see Jimin rummaging through it, pulling out things to place on the nightstand--several bottles of water, energy bars and fruit. He let his eyes slip closed again.

 

“Call me if you need anything, okay?” Came Jimin’s soft voice, maybe a minute later. “I’ve put my contact up on your phone, so all you'll have to do is unlock it and press call.”

 

Yoongi mumbled a barely decipherable thanks without opening his eyes. He just wanted Jimin to go. He appreciated the help, he really did. It was just... well, no one had ever seen him like this before, not this far into a heat. And god, he... he hated it--felt vulnerable, embarrassed, even though it was just Jimin, and Jimin was an omega, too. 

 

A few moments later, he heard the sound of the apartment door closing, a key being turned in the lock.

 

With a groan, he pushed away the blankets and rolled over, wriggling as he managed with some difficulty to yank down his sweatpants and underwear, sliding two fingers inside himself, like he'd been desperate to do for the past--well, ever since he'd gotten off the phone with Jimin.

 

It was a relief for all of two seconds before Yoongi was burying his face in the pillow, muffling a low, pathetic whine. It wasn’t enough. He quickly added a third, whimpering when he finally found the right spot, curling his fingers as his hips began to work, rubbing his cock--painfully hard now--against the sheets beneath him.

 

He came within a minute, collapsing forwards, not bothering to remove his fingers.

 

It was barely five minutes later by the time he’d worked himself to a second orgasm, but it still did nothing to provide even the tiniest bit of relief. His skin prickled with unbearable warmth, his stomach twisted in knots, and he needed... god, he needed more.

 

He managed to drag himself over to the nightstand, pulling open the bottom drawer to grab one of the toys he kept there, usually reserved only for heats.  He rolled back onto his belly, lifting his hips and positioning the toy against his hole. He was so wet now it took a few tries to get it inside--finally, he managed it on the third go, letting out a deep moan at the feeling, eyes fluttering closed.

 

That was better. The thick plastic stretched him wide, the feeling of fullness softening the harsh intensity of the desperate, aching feeling he couldn’t quite seem to shake. He fucked himself slowly with the toy, arms and legs beginning to tremble with the effort as he edged closer to orgasm. Images flashed through his mind--a faceless alpha fucking him from behind, hips snapping against his. He whimpered, trying match the pace of the toy with what he was imagining--but his arm was too weak, too shaky to manage it from this angle.

 

He whined, rolling over onto his back, trying not to let the the toy slip out. He let out a low, pleased moan when the new position allowed him to put more force into his movements. His mind returned to the fantasy, and he imagined the alpha leaning down, the scratch of stubble against his cheek, lips brushing his ear, a deep, gravelly whisper.

 

Good boy. You’re such a good boy.

 

“Ah--” he gasped, increasing the pace of the toy, fucking himself faster, harder. Fuck, he was close--so close--

 

Suddenly, the alpha in his mind, the imaginary words murmured into his ear shifted--the stubble brushing his cheek turned to smooth skin, the voice no longer as gruff as it had been a few moments ago--still deep, but softer, almost sweet. 

 

So good for me, baby. So good--so perfect for alpha.

 

Oh. Oh, fuck.

 

It wasn’t some random, faceless alpha he was imagining fucking him anymore. It was--it was...

 

Jungkook.

 

Yoongi had barely processed the realization before he was coming with a low, choked moan, pushing the toy as far inside as it would go.

 

Everything was blissfully peaceful for a several long seconds, and Yoongi could feel himself slipping into unconsciousness--a brief reprieve until the desperate need took hold again.

 

Somewhere in the back his mind was the distant thought that what had just happened wasn’t... it wasn't good? It was... bad, for some reason, in fact.

 

But... why? 

 

He couldn’t remember now--so maybe it didn’t matter, he thought, sleepily. 

 

Whatever it was, he'd deal with it later.

 

Chapter Text

Against his better judgment, Yoongi had listened to his parents.

 

The suppressants Dr. Guen prescribed were the strongest on the market--so strong that they blocked heats entirely.

 

That, however, was just about the only good thing about them. They made him feel... strange. Not quite... right, somehow. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he knew that he didn’t like it.

 

If that had been it, though, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But the medication came with other side effects.

 

For the first few weeks, they just made him feel nauseous--so much that he often found himself struggling to eat. And when that finally subsided, just a little, the muscle tremors started.

 

Dr. Guen was no help, and neither were his parents--every time he mentioned anything involving his status they went quiet, and, if he persisted, tried to change the subject. He couldn’t exactly ask anybody else, either.

 

So Yoongi consulted Google. According to the online messageboards he found, nausea and tremors were the least of his worries. Omegas who’d taken the same type of suppressants, or ones of a similar type, reported steadily worsening side effects--and not only that, but he saw a lot of users speculating that long term use could lead to a startling array of health issues--infertility, early onset arthritis and kidney problems were just a few of the ones he saw mentioned--in later life.

 

The messageboards led him to a number of other sites and various, private social media groups in which omegas from Korea, all over Asia, and even further afield, discussed everything from the best and most cost effective suppressant and scent blocker brands, complained about alphas, debated the omega rights movement, or just chatted with each other about their lives.

 

A great deal of what he read only confirmed the belief he’d long held--but until now, had never thought all that deeply about--that the world wasn’t a fair place, and presenting as an omega only made it about a million times more unfair. Or even downright dangerous.

 

He read stories of omegas being rejected for jobs, belittled by colleagues and bosses, being harrassed by alphas both in the workplace, and outside of it. There were more than a users who told stories of how they’d gone into heat unexpectedly, had ended up with an alpha they wouldn’t have agreed to sex with otherwise, a few who’d even had an alpha bond with them during heat without their consent. How they’d tried to go to the police, but hadn’t been taken seriously, warned about the consequences of ruining an alpha’s reputation, ruining their life, for something that they couldn’t even be blamed for--since, of course, alphas couldn’t be expected to control themselves around an omega in heat.

 

The stories should have frightened him--and, well, they did. But more than that, he felt... angry. And instead of feeling relieved to be passing as a beta, the more he read, the more he found the idea of continuing to do so just didn’t sit right with him.

 

Four months in, Yoongi decided he’d had enough. Of the side effects, of the nausea, of his hands shaking so badly he’d often mess up even the simplest pieces on the piano, or struggle to do something as simple as write.

 

And he’d had enough of hiding his status, like it was something to be ashamed of, when it wasn’t.

 

So fucking what if he was an omega? It wasn’t, shouldn’t be a problem.

 

It was the rest of the world who had the fucking problem.

 

His parents, however, didn’t agree.

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Yoongi-yah,” his mother had told him.

 

“Eomma, they’re making me sick,” Yoongi had tried to reason with her. “I told you, remember?”

 

“Yes, but...” she was shaking her head.

 

Yoongi made a low noise of frustration. “Look at this!” He said, lifting his hand--the tremors often seemed to worsen when he was stressed. “I can barely even play piano! Or take notes in class! Because my fucking hands won’t stop shaking!”

 

His father, who’d been silent and blank faced up until that point, let out a low, warning growl. “Don’t you dare speak to your mother like that!” He snapped. “And it won’t matter whether you can do either if you stop taking that medication. Do you think you’re going to be able to go to university then?”

 

“Why not! There’s no rule that says I can’t!”

 

His father snorted. “You’re being naive. Do you have any idea how difficult you’ll make things for yourself?”

 

“Yoongi-yah, please,” his mother pleaded, “please, think this through. You’d be throwing away... everything. Your career, your future--everything we’ve ever wanted for you.”

 

Yes, but those aren’t really the same things I want, are they? Yoongi thought. But... well, that was pretty much a whole different argument, and one he really didn’t want to get into right now.

 

He swallowed. “Yes, but... what kind of future will I have if--if I have to keep pretending I’m a beta? Even if the medication didn’t make me sick...”

 

“I’m sure they’ll be advancements in that area,” his father cut in, “they’re doing research all the time.” Actually, research into suppressants was vastly underfunded--probably something to do with the fact that it was considered largely an omega issue. Yoongi opened his mouth to tell them that, but his father kept talking. “You’ll be able to live your life as a beta, and no one will have to know any different.”

 

“And you don’t have to admit to anyone that you’ve got an omega son,” Yoongi said, bitterly.

 

“No, that’s not it, Yoongi-yah...” his father started.

 

“Don’t lie, appa. I’m not stupid. I know you’re ashamed of me. But no amount of medication is going to make me a beta.”

 

“That--but that’s exactly what it does. And as long as you keep taking it, you won’t have any of the... the things that come with being an--an omega.”

 

Yoongi shook his head, slowly. When he spoke, his voice came out quiet, nearly a whisper. “Yes, but what if... what if I meet someone? I... I wouldn’t be able to hide if from them.”

 

It was a thought he hadn’t quite been able to shake. What if, someday, he did meet someone? A beta, another omega, maybe even--even an alpha. Even the highest strength suppressants wouldn’t make a difference when it came to sex. All that would have to happen was for him to get... well, turned on-- and his partner would know.

 

He knew his father was well aware what he was implying when his face paled. He looked... disgusted, Yoongi thought. He tried not to let that sting.

 

Neither of them spoke.

 

Yoongi swallowed. “Do you... I mean, do you want me to end up alone?”

 

His mother’s face crumpled.

 

His father looked torn. “No, Yoongi-yah,” he murmured. “We don’t. But I’m sure there are ways around it...”

 

Yoongi blew out a breath. “No, they’re aren’t. And I... I’m done, okay?” he said, quietly. “I’m sorry, but I’m done pretending. I’m going to Dr Guen to get my dose lowered.”

 

His father was already shaking his head. “No, Yoongi-yah. I won’t allow it.”

 

“It’s not your choice!”

 

“I won’t have you sabotaging yourself like this!”

 

“Well, tough. Because I’m doing it anyway. I’ve already made the appointment.”

 

“Well, you’re going to cancel it!”

 

“No,” Yoongi interrupted, “I’m not. I’m eighteen now. You can’t tell me what to do anymore.”

 

His father made a furious sound. “I can as long as you live under this roof!”

 

Fine. Then I’ll leave.”

 

There was a shocked silence.

 

“I... I’m sorry,” he told them, trying to keep his voice steady. “But I can’t do this. I can’t... I can’t be what you want. I’m an omega, and all the medication in the world isn’t going to do a damn thing to change that.”

 

His father gaped at him. His mother covered her face with her hands, making a low, distressed sound that made Yoongi’s chest tighten painfully.

 

He turned away, unable to look at them anymore. At the anger, the disappointment--the pain written all over their faces.

 

He went upstairs and began shoving things into a bag, barely even noticing what he was doing.

 

When he returned downstairs, it was too an almost eerie silence. The door to the living room was closed.

 

Yoongi left the house, slamming the front door loudly behind him. His steps down the garden path were slow. He pulled his jacket tighter around him--though it was May, the nights were still cool.

 

He was halfway down the street when the realization really sunk in.

 

No-one was coming after him.

 

And he had no idea where he was going to go.

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi’s heat lasted all the way through to the early hours of Tuesday morning, at which point he finally drifted into an exhausted and mercifully dreamless sleep.

 

But, of course, the universe wasn’t done fucking with him just yet--and he woke just a few hours later to his phone buzzing on the nightstand. It was Sungho, calling to ask if he could come in for a few hours later on, as one of the other employees had called in sick. Only half awake, Yoongi had mumbled an agreement before really thinking it through.

 

Still, it was probably just as well. He hadn’t really been able to afford three days in a row without any shifts. And he really didn’t want to run into his overdraft for the second month in row.

 

He took a long, hot shower in an attempt to soothe his still aching muscles, and downed an entire Americano on his fifteen minute journey to the work, burning the roof of his mouth in the process.

 

He grabbed an outfit from the uniform rail--it was early enough that there were still quite a few left, meaning he could choose one that was slightly less ridiculous--still unneccessarily frilly, but standard black and white rather the offensively cutesy pastels of the ones Sungho had been ordering in lately, and headed out onto the floor.

 

He hadn’t made it further than a few steps before he was waylaid by Irene.

 

“Yoongi-ssi!” She exclaimed. “What are you doing?” Before he knew what was happening, she’d grabbed his arm and dragging him back towards to the staff room.

 

“Huh? Oh, Sungho asked if I could fill in for Joy, since she’s off sick.” He explained, in confusion, letting himself be pulled along.

 

The door swung shut and Irene turned to him, shaking her head. “I don’t mean why are you here, I mean why do you smell like you just finished a full blown heat a few hours ago?”

 

“Uh. Well. Probably because I just did.”

 

Irene stared at him. “I thought you were on suppressants?”

 

“I am. Something... ah, I don’t know. Something went wrong. I need to see my doctor about it.”

 

“Right... well. You do realize you can’t go out there smelling like that? They’ll be all over you.”

 

“Oh. I... I forgot,” he said, lamely. It had been so long, he genuinely hadn’t remembered--not to mention he’d been pretty distracted this morning, and not entirely awake until the caffeine had kicked in, just now--that full heats tended to have longer lingering effects, including scent. Now that he thought about it, he did feel worse than usual, too--especially since it had been, what, six hours now?

 

He watched as Irene turned and began rifling through her locker. “Aish, you’re just lucky I caught you when I did. Here,” she said, handing him a small can of descentor, “this is one is pretty strong, it should do the trick. I use it myself.”

 

Irene only took a very low dose of suppressants--so low that they didn’t do much other than act as birth control--which meant she had full heats. Yoongi personally couldn’t imagine what he’d just experienced happening every three months like clockwork... but then, she did have a long-term alpha boyfriend, so he supposed it was different for her.

 

He gave himself a generous spray and allowed Irene to double check it had taken effect before he headed out. Sungho gave him the stink eye when he passed--probably wanting to come over and berate him for being five minutes late--but before he could, Jiwoo had appeared, telling Yoongi he’d been requested by some customers who’d just arrived.


It turned out to be one of the businessman he’d served the previous week--Yoongi remembered the table well, since they’d left an extremely generous tip--this time with a different colleague.

 

He’d been distracted the last time, by that asshole alpha kid and--and Jungkook (fuck, fuck--he was not thinking about that right now) but he couldn’t help but notice, this time around, the high quality cut of their suits, the expensive watch glinting on one of their wrists--a Breitling, he was pretty sure.

 

Hopefully, there was more where that tip had come from.

 

The thought got him through an excruciating half hour of being talked to as if he was a complete airhead--they’d actually been to surprised to learn he was studying at university, never mind that most of the omegas working here were doing the same--and being hand fed cake. (Vanilla buttercream, of all things. Ugh. It was his least favorite of everything the cafe’s patisserie had to offer, and that was really saying something.)

 

It paid off. The tip was even bigger than last time. It more than covered the increased price of his suppressants--not to mention his food and travel budget for at least a week.

 

The next few hours after that were busy, and Yoongi was exhausted by the time his shift finished late in the afternoon. He headed home and crawled into bed, dragging his laptop in with him and sticking on a TV series in the background in an attempt to distract himself from the thoughts that were suddenly far harder to ignore without the distraction of work.

 

It tended to be difficult to recall every detail of a half heat, and this one was even more of a blur than usual. Nonetheless, Yoongi knew exactly what (who) he’d been thinking about for most of it (all of it).

 

But it didn’t... it didn’t mean anything, he told himself. Anything more than that Jungkook had just happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time--an alpha who’d been around just before Yoongi had gone into heat.

 

(What about Joon-ah, though? A little voice persisted. He was there, too. Not to mention the all the other alphas in that club. And... that’s never happened before, either, has it? You’ve never thought of anybody like that during a heat before.)

 

Yoongi groaned, rolling over and burying his face into the pillow. Shut up, he told the voice. It’s not... it’s not like that.

 

It was bad timing, that was all. Or, okay--maybe attraction and bad timing. But it didn’t mean that he... that he felt anything for Jungkook. Appreciated anything other than how the kid looked, in a distant, meaningless sort of way.

 

Maybe his body thought he was interested. But he wasn’t.

 

He’d go to Dr. Cheong tomorrow, get this sorted out. And then he could forget all about it.

 

 

*

 

That, however, turned out to be easier said than done.

 

Over the weeks following, Jungkook became something of a fixture--on nights out, evenings where they all gathered at Namjoon, Jin and Hoseok’s, at group meals at whatever restaurant had a low prices and a decent all you can eat menu (not that Jungkook needed to be careful with his money, like the rest of them did, but he didn’t seem to mind).

 

It was pretty clear Taehyung had made it his mission to take the kid under his wing, and Yoongi couldn’t begrudge him for it. Jungkook genuinely seemed to enjoy hanging out with them all, and, more than that, he seemed to fit in almost seamlessly, as though he’d always been there.

 

He seemed happy. And Yoongi sure as hell wasn’t going to let his... his goddamn hormones get in the way of that.

 

And if he found himself wishing that Jungkook didn’t smell quite so good, that his smile didn’t crinkle his eyes in a way that made his heart beat just a little faster... well. That was his problem, not Jungkook’s.

 

That’s what he told himself, as he watched Jungkook from behind the counter at the coffee shop--though he usually came with Taehyung, he was alone today--studying over at a table by the window in the corner.

 

Jungkook was frowning a little at his laptop with an expression of concentration that was quite distressingly cute. After a few moments, he let out what looked like a deep sigh and sat back, pulling out his headphones and shrugging off his hoodie, stretching his arms before reaching up to massage the back of his neck with one hand.

 

And, god, that... that really wasn’t fair.

 

Yoongi looked away quickly as the sight caused a number of entirely unwanted images to flash through his mind.

 

And that--well, that had been happening... quite a bit. His heat had been well over a month ago--closer to two now, in fact. And yet... he still found himself remembering, on occasion--and with upsettingly startling clarity--some of the... the things he’d been imagining during it.

 

At least it wasn’t going to happen any time again soon, he thought. Or ever. Dr. Cheong told him that it wasn’t all that uncommon for an omega’s system to develop a tolerance for a particular type of suppressants with long term use--and he’d been taking the same ones for coming up to five years--which meant that they’d gradually decrease in efficacy.

 

She’d prescribed him a different type--unfortunately, the price was slightly higher, but, really, Yoongi would have willing to find the money to pay double, even triple, to prevent something like that from ever happening again.

 

Hopefully, he’d be able to forget about this one soon enough.

 

In the meantime, though... Jungkook taking his goddamn hoodie off and flexing his stupid muscles, right in front of Yoongi’s face... well, that really wasn’t fucking helping.

 

He forced himself to focus on the customer he was serving, watching out of the corner of his eye as Jungkook got up and came over to join the queue.

 

“Hey,” he greeted, grinning, when he reached the front.

 

“Hey,” Yoongi replied, returning the grin despite himself.

 

That was the other problem, of course--Jungkook was... well, he was very, very far from the privileged, entitled jerk of an alpha Yoongi had originally written him off as.

 

It hadn’t taken him long to figure out that what had initially seemed to be cool, unaffected detachment--and what the rest of the campus seemed to think made Jungkook brooding and mysterious (Yoongi has actually heard those exact words used, like the kid was something out of a nineteenth century romance novel)--wasn’t really that at all. He’d been surprised to find, as they all began to spend time together, that Jungkook seemed almost... shy.

 

At least, he seemed to have a tendency to retreat into himself, become reserved, around people he didn’t know well--in a way that clearly had only made everyone even more curious about him.

 

But when he did get talking--well. It turned out the kid had a lot to say. About everything. From politics to photography, to music, to video games, films, anime. What he’d had for dinner last night. A cute dog he’d seen earlier that day.

 

And, somewhere in the middle of all the chatter, Yoongi had realized that they actually had a quite a surprising amount in common.

 

“Let me guess,” he asked, raising an eyebrow, “vanilla-caramel macchiato with extra syrup and extra whip?”

 

Jungkook’s smile widened. “You remembered! I’m honored.”

 

“Psh, it’s got nothing to do with you,” Yoongi lied, “I’m just a good barista. Besides,” he added, as he scrawled on the cup, “how could I forget such an abomination of an order? It keeps me up at night, thinking that you actually drink that disgusting thing.”

 

Jungkook pouted. “It’s nice.”

 

“You’re going to die of sugar poisoning,” Yoongi said, flatly. “That, or all your teeth are going to rot and fall out.”

 

“Hey, hyung, I floss, y’know,” Jungkook protested, “and I eat pretty healthy. Besides, I can’t believe you’re lecturing me about health, of all people. Tae told me you never exercise. Ever. He said you get out of breath running for the bus.

 

“That--that’s not true!” Yoongi sputtered, although it was. A bit. Jungkook looked skeptical, and he scowled. “We can’t all be muscle pigs,” he muttered.

 

Jungkook looked amused. “Muscle pig, huh?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Apparently you dragged Tae to the gym with you, the other day?” At Jungkook’s slightly confused nod, he continued. “Yeah, well, that’s what he’s been calling you, ever since. He said watching you work out, was... hm. What was the word he used? Terrifying.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “He’s such a drama queen. And he’s exaggerating. Come to the gym with me some time, you’ll see.”

 

And... yeah. Wow. Yoongi really could not think of a worse idea. For a... number of reasons. “Not a chance,” he replied, firmly.

 

Jungkook looked a little... disappointed? Hm. He’s probably just dying to for the chance to see me make a fool out of myself, Yoongi thought. The kid was really quite annoyingly disrespectful (and what was even more annoying was--well.... how little Yoongi was actually annoyed by it). “Oh, are you scared, too?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

Yoongi snorted. “You wish, kid.”

 

Alpha or not (and despite Tae’s insistence that his muscles were “scary, hyung!”) he didn’t find Jungkook the least bit intimidating. In fact, muscle pig wasn’t the descriptor he would have gone for at all. Bunny, maybe, he thought, as he watched Jungkook smile at him.

 

“I don’t, actually,” Jungkook replied, lightly.

 

At that moment, there was a pointed cough to their right, and Yoongi realized there had been another customer standing behind Jungkook for--uh. He wasn’t sure how long.

 

Jungkook seemed to notice her at the same time. “Oops,” he murmured. “Sorry,” he added, addressing the girl, a beta with dark green hair and a deeply unimpressed expression.

 

Jungkook moved to the bar at the end to pick up his drink--which had already been made--and Yoongi turned to the girl.

 

“Sorry about the wait.”

 

She continued to look unimpressed. “You know, I came here for a latte, not to watch you flirt with your boyfriend.”

 

Yoongi nearly choked. “He’s--he is not my boyfriend!” He realized too late that he hadn’t exactly spoken quietly. Shit, please let Jungkook not have heard any of that exchange. He snuck a quick glance, relieved to see Jungkook was already back at his table.

 

Incredible,” the girl muttered. Yoongi half wanted to protest. Not that it mattered what this girl, thought, really--she’d just... gotten the wrong impression--but she was already continuing. “I’d like a soy nonfat latte, some time this year would be great. Please,” she tacked on, clearly as an afterthought.

 

Rude.

 

Oh well. Yoongi would take a snarky customer at the coffee shop over a creepy alpha at the cafe any day.

 

Life was all about compromise, after all.

 

 

*

 

 

When it came time for his break, Yoongi found himself heading over to the table where Jungkook sat, staring at his laptop screen, a little line in between his brows.

 

“You’re going to give yourself a headache if you keep doing that,” Yoongi said, by way of greeting.

 

Jungkook jumped slightly. “Huh? Oh. Sorry, hyung, didn’t see you there.”

 

“I gathered. Mind if I sit...?” He asked.

 

Jungkook was already shaking his head. “No... no, of course not.”

 

“Sorry for interrupting,” Yoongi said, pulling out a chair. (That a was... hm, well, a bit of a lie. He wasn’t sorry for interrupting at all. He really hadn’t liked the look on Jungkook’s face, or the way he kept rubbing at his neck like it was bothering him).

 

Jungkook sighed. “It’s fine. I really wasn’t getting very much done, anyway.” Yoongi was about to ask what he’d been doing, when Jungkook’s eyes fell on the sandwich and cup of espresso he’d set down on the table, along with a bottle of water.

 

“Ugh, how do you drink that, hyung?” He asked, scrunching up his nose in an expression of distaste.


“I could ask the same of you,” Yoongi huffed. “This is proper caffeine, kid. None of that vanilla whipped cream bullshit.”

 

“Hey, at least the vanilla whipped cream bullshit actually tastes good,” Jungkook retorted.

 

“Hmph. If you like that sort of thing, I suppose,” Yoongi allowed.

 

“You don’t?”

 

“Nope. I don’t... mm, I don’t really like sweet things.”

 

Jungkook just stared at him for a moment, an odd sort of amusement passing over his features.

 

“What’s so funny?” Yoongi asked, frowning.

 

“Nothing,” Jungkook murmured. “It’s just...” he trailed off, gaze flicking downwards to the table.

 

Yoongi made an little irritated noise. “What, Jungkook-ah?”

 

That made Jungkook look back up at him. A little smile appeared on his face. “Nothing, hyung. It’s just... well, your scent, you know?”

 

Oh. Right. It wasn’t the first time someone had mentioned his scent to him. Largely in the form of unsolicited, unwanted comments from alphas who just had to tell him that he smelled... well, he’d heard a few things.

 

Sugar seemed to be the favorite, but quite a few confectionary items had been thrown about, which Yoongi personally found ridiculous. He was a person, not a dessert menu. Why the hell anyone would think he’d be flattered by being told that he smelled like ice cream cake, of all things, he really didn’t know (apparently, it had been that particular alpha’s favorite food as a kid).

 

(He’d eventually asked Namjoon about it--since he was an alpha, Yoongi figured he’d have the best nose--Yoongi couldn’t smell himself, obviously, and he thought he had a right to know if he was going around smelling like a freaking bakery.

 

Namjoon had looked thoughtful. “Well, kind of...” he’d said, “but not really. I mean, you do smell like that, a bit. But also a bit... bitter?”

 

“Oh, great,” Yoongi had muttered. “Even better.”

 

“No... not, like, in a bad way. Actually, it kind of reminds me of... of coffee, maybe?” He’d paused, looking amused. “Heh, maybe all that espresso seeped into your veins or something. Anyway... it’s quite nice, really. I don’t mind it. Although...”

 

Yoongi had smirked in amusement. “Not as good as Jimin-ah, right?”

 

Namjoon had gone red at that--they hadn’t been dating yet back then.)

 

“Oh, yeah, that. I smell like,” Yoongi made a little face, “sugar, apparently?”

 

“Ah, yeah...” Jungkook fidgeted, “something like that.”

 

“It’s okay, kid. I’m not offended. It’s... well, it’s kind of ironic, I guess.”

 

“Yeah... I guess so.”

 

Yoongi pulled his sandwich towards him. “What are you working on?” He gestured to Jungkook’s laptop as he took a bite.

 

“Just something for class.”

 

“Which class?” Yoongi asked, around a mouthful of food. Then, remembering, he pushed the bottle of water towards Jungkook. “Here.”

 

Jungkook glanced down at the bottle, then back up at Yoongi. “Oh. Ah--thanks.” He took a small sip--then, a moment later, tipped his head back and downed half the bottle. Yoongi watched, feeling strangely satisfied. Water was definitely better than sugar-overloaded caffeine, he thought.

 

“So, which class?”

 

“Oh, just an elective I’m taking this semester. It’s not... I mean, ah. It’s really not that important, I guess.”

 

“What’s the elective?”

 

“Film production.”

 

“Oh.” Jungkook had never mentioned that before. “Can I see?” He asked, curiously.

 

“I mean, yeah... if you want,” Jungkook swiveled his laptop around. There as an editing program which Yoongi vaguely recognized open on the screen. He shuffled closer in his chair, taking the earbuds Jungkook handed him.

 

Jungkook pressed play, and images began to flash on the screen. A deep blue sky, dappled sunlight through the trees--Yoongi figured some of this must have been filmed back in September, or even August, before the weather had turned--a time elapse of the skyline of Seoul glittering at night, shot from somewhere high up, turning slowly to morning, the sun rising high in the sky. Students rushing through one of the busiest points on campus. Leaves falling from the trees and scattering on the sidewalk. And, oddly, what looked like a hospital waiting room, blank white walls and plastic chairs.

 

There were people, too--most Yoongi didn’t recognize, but there was also Taehyung, along with a few others who Yoongi guessed must be in Jungkook and Taehyung’s class, too. Then Jimin and Jin appeared alongside Tae, all laughing and fooling around, somewhere that looked like Han River Park.

 

Even with what little he knew, Yoongi could tell the editing was practically flawless, matched to the flow and the beat of the song perfectly. And maybe it was the music, or the startling beauty of each and every shot--so clearly lovingly and carefully captured--but there was a soft, wistful kind of quality to it all which took him by surprise.


Somehow the whole thing was only three minutes long, and as the screen faded to the black Yoongi found himself staring at the blank screen for several long moments, wondering why he felt almost sad.

 

“So, uh... what do you think?” He was jolted back to reality by Jungkook’s question.

 

“It’s... I,” Yoongi found himself struggling for words, “this is for an elective?”

 

Jungkook scratched the back of his neck, looking a little sheepish. “Ah, yeah... I probably shouldn’t have spent so much time on it. It’s such a small part of my overall grade for the semester, but...”

 

Yoongi was already shaking his head. “No, no... this--this is amazing, Jungkook-ah.”

 

Jungkook blinked at him, a slow smile spreading over his face. “Really? You like it?”

 

“I... it’s incredible. You’re... well, you’re really damn talented. Even I can see that.”

 

“Thank you, hyung,” Jungkook murmured. “That... that really means a lot.”

 

“I just meant... well, I mean, this is way too good for some random elective. You should... I mean, have you ever thought of just... majoring in this? Film school, or something?”

 

He watched, dismayed, as Jungkook’s face fell a little. “Ah... no,” he pulled the laptop back towards himself. “I mean... yeah, I did think about it. But... my dad wanted me to major in business.”

 

“Oh. That... that’s a shame.”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “Yeah, well... I’m supposed to take over the company some day, you know.”

 

“Right. Makes sense.”

 

They fell into silence for a few moments.

 

“I... well, I know a little bit about not wanting to disappoint your parents,” Yoongi found himself saying.

 

Jungkook looked back up at him, eyes curious.

 

“They...” Yoongi hesitated. Why was he telling Jungkook this, again? “They weren’t too happy when I presented. I was the first male omega in the family for--well, for a long time. The rest of the family are almost all alphas and betas.”

 

“Right...” Jungkook said, slowly. “But, I mean-- you can hardly control what you present as.”

 

Yoongi huffed. “No, you can’t. But, well. They wanted me try and pass myself off as a beta.”

 

Jungkook looked at him, startled. “What? Why?”

 

Yoongi sighed, fiddling with the napkin on his plate. “Where I’m from, it’s.. well, let’s just say if you’re an omega, you pretty much just settle down with an alpha, stay home and pop out, like, five to ten kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I guess, but...”

 

“You should have a choice,” Jungkook murmured.

 

Yoongi looked up him. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s... I just, I didn’t want to have my future decided for me, you know?" He said, quietly. "But as for my parents--well, their son presenting as an omega... that really threw them for a loop. They were... embarrassed.” Ashamed. “I think they kind of hoped they could avoid telling anyone. Like, ever.”

 

How?” Jungkook asked. “I mean, you can’t--you can’t just, like... un-present.”

 

Yoongi snorted. “No,” he said, tearing off a strip off the napkin, “but if you take strong enough suppressants, they block heats, scent--everything. Nobody would ever know you weren’t a beta, unless...” Unless they got close enough.

 

Jungkook frowned. “Aren’t they supposed to be bad for you, when they’re that strong?”

 

“Uh huh. Well, that’s what people think, anyway.”

 

Jungkook’s frown deepened. “How long did you take them for?”

 

“About three... four months?”

 

“What... what made you stop?”

 

“Got sick of the side effects. Plus, I guess I didn’t see why I had to hide my status. There’s nothing wrong with being an omega. Even a male one.”

 

Jungkook shook his head, fervently. “No, of course there isn’t.”

 

Yoongi sighed. “I can’t deny it would probably be easier,” he mused, “but I... I’m not going to hide who I am.”

 

“Hyung...” He looked up to find Jungkook watching him, brows knitted together, face clouded. “I... I’m sorry. I’m sorry that it has to be like that,” he said, quietly. “I--I wish...” he trailed off with a soft, frustrated noise.

 

Yoongi shook his head, a little perplexed. “Hey, it’s not your problem, kid.”

 

Jungkook still looked troubled.

 

“Anyway,” Yoongi said, pulling his phone out his apron to check the time. “I gotta get back, break’s over. By the way,” he added, as he stood, “don’t worry about your film, Kook-ah. It’s already perfect.”

 

Jungkook looked surprised. “Uh--thank you? It is?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi said, firmly, “so stop sitting over here looking so goddamn morose about it, alright?”

 

Jungkook’s lips twitched. “Well, okay, then,” he murmured. “Hey... what are you doing tomorrow?”

 

“Got a morning shift, need to go to the library in the afternoon. Why?”

 

“Do you wanna grab lunch?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Yeah, sure.”

 

“What time do you finish your shift?”

 

“Hm... around twelve, I think? I’ll check and text you.”

 

And with that, he turned, hurrying back to the counter--he was a couple of minutes late already, and there was a considerable queue forming. The other barista--Taehyung was off today--gave him an baleful look when he finally clocked Yoongi heading over.

 

“See you, hyung...” He heard Jungkook call after him.

 

“See you, Jungkook-ah.”

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi had barely made it two steps onto the floor the following morning before Lisa was bounding over to him.

 

“Hey, Yoongi-ssi! Guess what? You’ve got a package!”

 

“A package...?” Yoongi asked, confused. “From who?”

 

“I don’t know,” Lisa shrugged. “A courier dropped it off about an hour ago. C’mon,” she said, dragging him over towards the counter. “I wanna see what it is!”

 

She rifled behind the counter, pulling out a small, inconspicuous looking cardboard box, handing it to him. It had the cafe’s address on it, and his name.

 

Yoongi frowned. It wasn’t entirely out of the ordinary for regular customers to give the employees gifts--but he’d never received any. And the alphas usually preferred to present them in person.

 

Lisa was bouncing excitedly. “Come on, open it!”

 

Yoongi grabbed a pair of scissors from the tray of pens and stationary under the counter, running them along the top of the box and pulling it open.

 

He searched through the black tissue paper inside until his hands closed on something. He pulled it out, staring in confusion.

 

The scarf was a deep, navy blue, almost black, the fabric unbelievably soft.

 

“Ooh, that’s nice!” Lisa reached out, stroking the material. “Is it cashmere?”

 

Yoongi glanced at her, shrugging. He had no idea--he’d never owned anything cashmere.

 

“Looks expensive,” Lisa commented, beginning to rifle through the package herself. “Oh hey, there’s something else.” She pulled out a pair of gloves in the same color, tossing them onto the counter before continuing to search through the tissue paper. “Hm... no note. I wonder who sent them?”

 

“No idea,” Yoongi said, still looking down at the scarf. He thought of the businessman from the other day--the big tipper with the fancy watch. He’d been back in several times now, and he’d requested Yoongi each time.

 

The last time he’d come alone, and Yoongi had had to listen to as the man went on and on about his stock portfolio--in a highly condescending manner which suggested he thought Yoongi had no idea what such a thing even was--and all the far off, glamorous places he’d traveled (though even that had been uninteresting, as the stories had mostly involved not-so-subtle implications concerning how much money he’d spent in each place).

 

“Hey...” Lisa said, turning the box onto its side, “the postmark is from Paris.”

 

Yoongi tried to remember if Paris had been mentioned, and couldn’t. To be honest, he’d zoned out after a certain point, simply nodding and smiling at regular intervals. The alpha hadn’t even noticed--but then, Yoongi supposed the point was just for him to listen, and not actually talk back.

 

He noticed a group of customers by the door and shoved the scarf and gloves back into the box, putting them back on the shelf under the counter.

 

The rest of his shift was busy enough that he forgot entirely about the gift, and he was surprised when he looked at the clock to see it was nearly half twelve already--the time he’d told Jungkook to meet him.

 

“Yoong-ssi!” It was Joy, looked harried. “I know you’re about to finish, but would you mind clearing tables five and six before you go? That group by the door has been waiting for five minutes now, I really need to go and serve them."

 

Yoongi nodded. “Sure, no worries, I’ve got it.” He grabbed a tray and headed over. He still had nearly ten minutes to clear the tables and get changed before meeting Jungkook out back.

 

He’d only just started, though, when the door chimed again, and he looked up to see Jungkook heading inside.

 

He spotted Yoongi almost immediately, coming over.

 

“Hi, hyung.”

 

“Hey, Kook-ah. You’re early.”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “I was studying in the library. Got bored.”

 

“You’re not actually allowed in here, you know,” Yoongi protested, albeit half heartedly.  Employees weren’t supposed to have alpha friends or partners coming to the cafe, which was why he’d asked Jungkook to meet him outside.


And then, there was also the fact that he hadn’t been particularly keen for Jungkook to see him dressed like this. Again. Especially now that they actually knew each other.

 

Not to mention the outfit he was stuck in today was arguably worse than the one he’d on when Jungkook had been here last time--pink and obnoxiously cute, right down to the little hearts stitched into the ruffled apron. (He’d only chosen it because it had a--slightly--longer skirt than any of the others in his size.)

 

Oh, well. It was too late now.

 

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. Is your boss around?” Jungkook asked, turning to look.

 

“No.” Sungho had been in his office doing paperwork all morning, and there was still no sign of him. “Hopefully he’ll stay in the back.” He resumed stacking plates, transferring them onto the tray.

 

“Can I help?” Jungkook didn’t wait for a response before he’d picked up a couple of coffee cups, moving them to the tray himself, forming a precarious pile.

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No, you can’t--you’ve got to do it like this, see?” He dismantled the pile carefully, pulled the spoons out of the cups and stacking everything separately. “That is, unless you want a lot of broken crockery everywhere.”

 

“Oh... sorry.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, Kook-ah. I somehow doubt you’ve got a service industry job in your future, hm?”

 

Jungkook gave a little shrug. But, a moment later, Yoongi was surprised to see he’d stacked the remaining cups perfectly.

 

They finished the entire table, and the second, in record time. Yoongi was reaching across the table to grab the last couple of plates from the far side, when he heard a low growl.

 

He turned, startled, to see Jungkook glaring at an alpha a few tables away.

 

The alpha wasn’t looking at Jungkook, though--his eyes were fixed on... ah. Yoongi straightened up quickly.


After nearly five months in the job, being ogled like this had become a regular occurrence--and as such, was, sadly, pretty far down on his list of concerns. The creep hadn’t even seen anything, really--a couple more inches of thigh than Yoongi would really have preferred to show, but, still. It could’ve been worse.

 

The alpha’s expression turned startled when he finally clocked Jungkook, and he turned away quickly.

 

Yoongi poked Jungkook’s arm. “Chill out,” he said, quietly, “it’s fine.”

 

Jungkook looked down at him. His mouth was set in a thin line. His eyes searched Yoongi’s face for a long moment. “No,” he muttered, “it’s not.”

 

Yoongi huffed. “Maybe. But I can’t have an alpha in here growling at the customers. My boss would literally kill me.” He grabbed the final tray. “I’ll see you in five. Outside,” he added, pointedly, turning and heading for the kitchen without waiting for a response.

 

He dropped the tray off in the kitchen and changed, heading out the back door leading from the staffroom--making a face at the sudden, icy breeze which ruffled his hair.

 

He realized, as he headed over to where Jungkook stood leaning against the wall a few meters away, occupied by his phone, that he’d left his hat in his locker. But he couldn’t be bothered to go back now. It wasn’t that long a walk to the restaurant, anyway.

 

“Hey... you’re not gonna get in trouble, are you?” Jungkook asked, sounding worried, when Yoongi reached him.

 

Yoongi felt the last remnants of irritation--really, he had told Jungkook that he couldn’t come inside, and he would’ve been in so much trouble if Sungho had chosen that moment to come out of his office--melt away at the sheepish expression on his face.

 

“No,” he said, “it’ll be alright. You’re just lucky my boss didn’t see you.”


“Sorry,” Jungkook murmured. “What about the others? They won’t tell him, will they?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “Nah, they wouldn’t say anything. We all do it, sometimes. Joon-ah’s met me here before. Except he waited outside, and didn’t growl at anyone.”

 

Jungkook’s face fell. He looked like a kicked puppy, and Yoongi tried to pretend he didn’t feel the immediate need to cheer him up.


Actually, scratch that. Who was he kidding, at this point? He was so fucking soft for this kid, it was pathetic.

 

“Come on,” he sighed, beginning to walk, reaching back to pull Jungkook along with him when he just stood there.

 

He let go of Jungkook’s arm once he’d finally gotten the message, zipping up his hoodie and stuffing his hands into the pockets to ward off the cold. “I suppose I can’t blame you,” he added, after a moment.

 

“What... uh, what do you mean?”

 

“Well... you’re just--you’re a baby, you know?”

 

Jungkook frowned, lips forming a small pout. “I’m not a... a baby. I’m twenty, hyung.”

 

Yoongi couldn’t help but laugh at him. “I know. I meant you haven’t been an alpha for very long. You’ve only just turned twenty, right? So, what, a year or two, at most?”

 

“Four, actually.”

 

Yoongi gaped at him. “Four? But... that means--”

 

“I presented when I was sixteen, yeah. Just after my birthday.”

 

“That--that’s pretty early.” He frowned. He couldn’t imagine how confusing it must have been to present that young--being sixteen sucked enough already. Not to mention, there was a reason omegas typically presented earlier than alphas--heats and teenage hormones were decidedly not a good mix. “So... what was up with that back there, then? I mean, sure, the guy was a creep, but he wasn’t actually doing anything.” He knew alphas had a tendency to become aggressive with each other--particularly if there was an omega involved--but surely Jungkook should be able to control it better by now? After four years?

 

“Yes, he was,” Jungkook scowled, “he was...”

 

Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “Staring at me? Hate to break it to you, kid, but that’s kind of the main draw of that place.”

 

Jungkook’s lips twisted. “I don’t like it. You... none of you should have to put up with being treated like that. With your boss not doing anything about it. It’s... it’s not right.”

 

Yoongi sighed. Maybe he shouldn’t have told Jungkook all that stuff yesterday at the coffee shop. It all seemed terribly obvious to him, but the kid had probably never really thought that much before about the kinds of difficulties omegas faced--especially those without wealth or status to act as a buffer--and he’d obviously taken it to heart.

 

“Can’t say I disagree,” he admitted, after a moment, “but it pays the bills.”

 

Jungkook didn’t look particularly satisfied by this reasoning, and Yoongi grimaced. He’d had this conversation enough times with his friends to know how it was probably going to go.

 

And, sure... he could quit. In fact, he was often really fucking tempted to do just that.

 

But, then... where else was he going to find a job he could fit around school? Or where he earned that much in tips? Short of working nights at a strip club, like one of the previous employees of the cafe had done (until Sungho found out about it, after it turned out one customer was a regular at both, and fired her) he really didn’t have any other ideas.

 

“So...” he said, keen to change the subject. “Presenting at sixteen--that must have been difficult.”

 

Jungkook gave him a look that suggested he knew exactly what Yoongi was trying to do. But, thankfully, he didn’t push the subject.

 

“Well, not difficult, exactly. But it was a little hard to get used to. Suddenly everyone started paying a lot more attention to me.”

 

“They didn’t before?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “No. I was a pretty... well, awkward, at that age.”

 

Yoongi couldn’t help the smile--much too fond--which tugged at the corners of his mouth. “At that age...” he teased.

 

“Hey! I’ll have you know I’m charming.”

 

Yeah, Yoongi thought, with a little sigh, you really are. Unfortunately. Out loud, though, he just scoffed. “You’re a dork.”

 

Jungkook laughed. “That’s not what everybody else thinks.”

 

“Everyone else is sadly mistaken.”

 

“Mm. Maybe,” Jungkook allowed, “you’ll keep my secret, though, right?”

 

His eyes were sparkling in amusement, lips curved into a soft smile. Yoongi just blinked at him for a moment, wishing that his stupid, stupid heart wasn’t speeding up at the sight.

 

Stop it, he told himself, firmly.

 

He tore his gaze away, cleared his throat. “What’s in it for me?”

 

“I’ll buy you lunch.”

 

“Pass.” A thought suddenly occurred to him. “I want to see a picture.”

 

“What?” Jungkook looked confused.

 

“A picture of you, in your awkward phase.”

 

“No,” Jungkook was shaking his head, rapidly, “no way, hyung.”

 

“C’mon, why not?”

 

“I burned them all,” Jungkook tried.

 

Yoongi snorted. “Like I said, you’re a baby. I bet they’re all digital.”

 

Jungkook grimaced. “Well, you can’t see them. I really was a dork, back then.”

 

“I’m sure I could find a few on Google images,” Yoongi mused.

 

“Hyung!” Jungkook protested, tone edging towards a whine. “That’s not fair. I bet your embarrassing teenage pictures aren’t on Google.”

 

“Who says they’re embarrassing?” Yoongi retorted, the words lost a little in a shiver as the wind suddenly picked up.

 

His teenage pictures were embarrassing, actually. Probably more so than Jungkook’s. Jungkook didn’t need to know that, though. Yoongi had deactivated his Facebook years ago, and his Instagram was both carefully curated, and far more recent.

 

Jungkook didn’t reply, and Yoongi glanced at him, confused to see he was shrugging off his jacket. “Here,” he said, holding it out for Yoongi to take.

 

“What? I don’t want your jacket.”

 

“You’re cold.” It was more of a statement than a question.

 

“I’m fine.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “Don’t be an idiot, hyung. Your teeth are chattering.”

 

He shoved the jacket at Yoongi, in a way that meant he had no choice but to take it, or let it fall to the ground.

 

“Now you’ll be cold,” he protested, eyeing the black button up Jungkook was wearing.

 

Jungkook shook his head. “I’ll be fine. I run pretty warm.”

 

Yoongi wanted to disagree, but, unfortunately, Jungkook was almost certainly telling the truth--alphas tended to have a higher body temperature than average. Just another one of the many, delightful ways--the discrepancy in heat and rut frequency was one that came immediately to mind--in which biology fucked omegas over. Literally.

 

“Put it on,” Jungkook insisted, when Yoongi made no move to do so.

 

Reluctantly, he slipped the jacket on--and immediately had to restrain himself from breathing a sigh of relief.

 

Jungkook definitely hadn’t been lying. The damn thing felt as though it’d been sitting on a radiator. And it smelled... god, amazing. Almost spicy--a little like... cinnamon, maybe? But there was something else, too, which he couldn’t quite figure out. He resisted the urge to bury his face in the collar in an attempt to do just that.

 

Jungkook was watching him, though, so he tried his best to appear entirely unaffected.

 

“Don’t you have a coat?” Jungkook asked, after a pause.

 

“Yes...” He did have one--only, he’d had it since he was seventeen, and though it still fitted fairly well, it had definitely seen better days--and a jacket which had originally belonged to Jin, and as a result was a little too big. He didn’t wear either very often.

 

Jungkook’s jacket didn’t particularly fit him, either, for that matter. It was comfortable, though. The leather had a softness and give that made it clear it was obviously the real thing, and even if it hadn’t been warm to begin with, the material would have blocked out the wind pretty effectively.

 

And if, when the walk to the restaurant ended up being a little longer than he’d remembered, Yoongi ended up feeling extremely grateful for the extra layer--well, he wasn’t going to admit that to Jungkook.

 

 

*

 

 

“Mm,” Jungkook mumbled around a mouthful of lamb, “these are so good, hyung.”

 

Yoongi couldn’t help but chuckle. “Is that why you’ve had twelve of them?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “I was hungry.” There was a spot of barbecue sauce on his lower lip, and Yoongi resisted the urge to lean over and wipe it away.

 

“Ah, you’ve got...” he gestured at the same spot on his own mouth.

 

“Huh? Oh... thanks.” Jungkook reached up, wiping away the sauce with the back of his hand. He took a final bite and dropped the skewer back onto his plate. “Why didn’t I know about this place before?”

 

Yoongi cast a look around the restaurant--the small cracks in the paintwork on the walls and the scratched cheap plastic of the tabletop, the rips in the lino of their booth’s seating. The food was pretty good, but the place itself was a bit of a dive.

 

“No idea,” he said, wryly. He leant back in his seat, rubbing his stomach with a grimace. “Ugh. I’m so full. Think I ate too much.”

 

Jungkook scoffed. “I ate nearly half of yours.”

 

“Mm,” Yoongi closed his eyes, stifling a yawn. He thought wistfully of going home and taking a long afternoon nap. Unfortunately, he had class, followed by a shift at the coffee shop.

 

“Are you ready for the check?”

 

He heard Jungkook mumble a yes around what must have been a mouthful of food. There was a silence, and, suddenly feeling suspicious, Yoongi opened his eyes. “No,” he said, when he saw Jungkook trying to hand the waitress his card.

 

Jungkook glanced at him, a slightly guilty expression on his face. “But, hyung...”

 

“Kook-ah, I told you,” Yoongi said, crossly, “you’re not paying.”

 

“Yes, I am,” Jungkook replied, stubbornly.

 

The waitress looked between the two of them. “I’ll come back...” she murmured.

 

No, you’re not,” Yoongi insisted, once she’d left, leaving the receipt on the table. “This place isn’t exactly fancy, for god’s sake. I can afford it.”

 

“But you said...”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, irritated.

 

“Well, your job...”

 

Jobs,” Yoongi corrected, “and I said they pay the bills. So I can pay this bill.”

 

“But...”

 

“But nothing,” Yoongi raised a hand when Jungkook opened his mouth, “stop pushing this, Jungkook-ah, or I won’t even let you split it with me.”

 

He knew he was probably being a bit too harsh--but then, it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. Jungkook had all too frequently been paying for more than his share when they’d all been out together as a group.

 

And just a few days ago they’d both been studying together at the library when Yoongi had complained, off handedly, that he needed another coffee. Five minutes later, Jungkook had said he was going to find a textbook--and returned with the coffee, along with an entirely unnecessary amount of food. (Neither of which were even technically allowed in the library--but there was reason Yoongi preferred his little table in the corner. Hardly anyone, including the library staff, ever came around that way.)

 

It was usually just little things like that, and Yoongi had been letting it slide for the most part-- but he didn’t want Jungkook thinking he had to pay for him every time they went out.

 

Taehyung had insisted, when Yoongi had complained about it to him, that Jungkook didn’t mind.

 

But, still...

 

It bothered him.

 

And besides... he didn’t want Jungkook to get even the slightest impression that Yoongi--that any of them--were just hanging out with him because he’d foot the bill.

 

“Fine,” Jungkook said, bringing him back to the moment.

 

Yoongi found his momentary relief slipping away almost entirely when he saw the way Jungkook was staring down at the table, frowning as he fidgeted with the card still in his hands. He looked almost... upset.

 

“Hey...” he found himself saying, “look, you just... you can’t pay every time, alright? So stop... stop looking like that.” Please. Without his permission, his hand reached across the table and rested over Jungkook’s, stilling the relentless fidgeting with the card.

 

Jungkook’s skin was warm beneath his fingers. His hand twitched slightly under Yoongi’s, and Yoongi felt the strangest little spark shoot through him as his gaze lifted to find Jungkook staring at him.

 

He pulled his hand back quickly.

 

Jungkook opened his mouth, and then closed it again, began chewing on his lip. “I.. I’m not looking like anything,” he said, finally.

 

Yoongi huffed. “You were sulking,” he protested.

 

“Hey, you’re the one who kicked up a fuss about a bill for,” Jungkook picked up the check, glancing at it, “less than fifty thousand won.”

 

Fifty thousand won was, in fact, more than Yoongi’s grocery budget for an entire week. But he definitely wasn’t going to tell Jungkook that.

 

Besides, he budgeted for eating out, too. So it was fine.

 

They split the bill, and Yoongi waited while Jungkook went to the bathroom, absently scrolling through his emails, tapping out a quick reply to his professor about meeting to discuss a new assignment.

 

He was trying to remember his schedule for the coming week, when his train of thought was derailed as the woman in the booth next to theirs--an older omega in maybe her mid fifties--leaned over the side.

 

“Sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation just now,” she said, adding, at what must have been Yoongi’s confused expression, “and let me tell you, honey, you’re never going to keep your alpha with an attitude like that.”

 

Eomma!” Came a voice, and Yoongi looked over the woman’s shoulder to see what must be her teenage daughter, face half hidden by her hands, looking mortified.

 

Yoongi struggled not to gape at her in shock. “W-What?”

 

The woman shook her head at him. “Bossing him around like that! I know things are different nowadays, with omega rights and all that--and maybe for the better--but trust me, dear, no matter how much changes, no alpha is going to put up with being to talked to the way you were talking to yours just now. Not for long, at any rate.”

 

“He’s... he’s not my alpha,” was all Yoongi managed to get out.

 

The woman looked confused for a moment. “He’s... not?"

 

Yoongi resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Contrary to popular belief, alphas and omegas could remain platonic friends. He and Namjoon were a prime example--they’d been friends for going on three years now, with not a hint of anything remotely romantic.

 

As for he and Jungkook... well. Maybe he was attracted to Jungkook--he couldn’t exactly deny that, at this point. But nothing was going to happen between them. So it was the same thing, basically.

 

Kind of.

 

“No."

 

“Oh.” The woman still looked confused. After a moment, her expression cleared. “Well. I... I suppose that makes more sense, then. Still... even if you are just friends, he is still an alpha, you know.”

 

Alright--that was it.

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi replied, curtly, “but I really don’t remember asking for your opinion.”

 

“I was just trying to help, dear,” she said, huffily, looking offended now.

 

“Eomma, please,” came a low, embarrassed mutter from her daughter, “stop. Leave him alone.”

 

Fine.” To Yoongi’s relief, she turned back around in the booth.

 

He looked back down at his phone, struggling to remember what he’d been about to write.

 

He’d just about managed to tap out the last line of the email a couple of minutes later, when Jungkook returned. “You ready to go?”

 

“Uh... yeah. Yeah.”

 

He stood, following Jungkook to the door, stopping in confusion when Jungkook paused in front of it.

 

“Hey...” he said, turning back to Yoongi, “are you alright, hyung?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”

 

“You just look a bit...” Jungkook’s forehead creased as his eyes drifted over Yoongi’s face. “I dunno...”

 

“I’m fine, Jungkook-ah,” he said. He wondered what Jungkook must have seen in his face, to be looking at him like that.

 

Wondered why the words felt, just a little bit, like a lie.

 

They weren’t, though. They shouldn’t be. There was absolutely no reason anything that woman had said should bother him, he told himself, firmly. It had all been bullshit, anyway--hopelessly outdated and so, so wrong.

 

And besides, he didn’t even want an alpha. He never had.

 

(Well... maybe, once upon a time, he had thought about it. Watched one too many dramas and found himself... curious. About what the reality of it would be like. But... not now. Not anymore.)

 

And that hadn’t changed.

 

“C’mon,” he said, giving Jungkook a little push, encouraging him to move forwards. “Let’s go.”

 

Chapter Text

Where the hell am I gonna go?

 

It was a question Yoongi still hadn’t had an answer for, nearly an hour after he’d left his parent’s house that night.

 

He sat on the bench of a bus stop, kicking at the dirt under his feet. He wasn’t waiting for the bus--his bag had simply gotten too heavy to continue walking.

 

There were his friends from school, of course--but his parents might think to come looking for him at one of their houses (assuming, of course, that they were going to come looking for him).

 

He thought of his other friends, the ones outside school--the ones his parents didn’t know about, since they were members of a hip hop crew Yoongi had been performing with in the city. He’d never told his parents, worried they’d see it as him trying to pursue music (which it was, to be fair) and try to stop him.

 

He’d stayed with a couple of the guys before, after rap battles or performances had finished late, too late for him to go home afterwards. Though he was supposed to be a beta, his parents had become stricter, bordering on paranoid, ever since he’d presented--always wanting to know where he was going, who he was with, and enforcing his curfew in a way they’d never bothered with, before.

 

Of all of them, Junyoung, an alpha a few years’ his senior, was the one he was closest to, and one he’d stayed with the most often, since his apartment was only about twenty minutes away from Yoongi’s parents’ by bus.

 

It was nearing midnight by the time he wound up at Junyoung’s front door. The alpha had been surprised to see him, but had let him in. Yoongi hadn’t felt like explaining the real reason he was there, not just then, so he’d lied and told Junyoung he’d fought with his parents after they’d found out about his music.

 

It had been a few days later when he’d admitted the real reason. Junyoung had seemed understanding, had said he could stay however long he needed to, promising not to tell any of the others about Yoongi’s real status.

 

He’d told Yoongi he didn’t need to contribute to the rent or food expenses, but Yoongi hadn’t thought that was fair, and he’d found a job working nights at a supermarket--part time until he’d finished up his final exams.

 

For a while, despite everything, things had been... okay.

 

That was, until the suppressants began to leave his system.

 

Yoongi had realized, once he’d left his parents, that it was unlikely he’d be able to go to Dr. Guen--the man was their family doctor, after all, and hadn’t exactly shown himself to be particularly understanding in the past.

 

He’d found a free clinic, where they prescribed him a lower strength, but warned him that if he wanted to avoid the nastier withdrawal symptoms, he’d need to gradually lower his dose of the ones he’d been on before he coming off them entirely, which would take a couple of weeks.

 

Yoongi followed their advice, but even so, the withdrawal was fairly unpleasant. Still... he was more than willing to put up with if it meant any end to the side effects, the tremors--the possibility of even more serious health issues in the long term.

 

He’d been in the kitchen one evening, attention half on a pot of noodles, and half on his phone, when Junyoung had walked in.

 

Yoongi had glanced up at him--and then watched as he inhaled, eyes widening slightly.

 

“Wow...” he’d said. “That’s... well, that’s different.”

 

“Hm?” Yoongi had asked, reaching out to the stir the noodles with one hand.

 

“Your scent’s changed,” Jungyoung said.

 

“Oh.” Yoongi supposed that made sense--he couldn’t tell himself, but it had been a few days now since he’d stopped taking the high strength suppressants entirely and started the new type he’d been prescribed, one which would regulate his heats rather than stopping them completely. They also didn’t mask his scent.

 

“Yeah. It’s like--it was kind of... nothing, before? But now... now it’s--”

 

“What?” Yoongi frowned.

 

“I dunno...” Junyoung stepped closer. Yoongi wondered why he’d never noticed before that Junyoung was a few inches taller than him. Broader, too. Not by much--but it was enough. Enough to make him feel a little uneasy.

 

Junyoung moved closer still, and Yoongi felt a sudden urge to tell him to stop, to back off.

 

But... no. That was stupid. Junyoung was his friend.

 

And an alpha, a little voice reminded him.

 

It had never been an issue before--Yoongi knew, was friends with, plenty of alphas.

 

But then... they’d all thought he was a beta.

 

“Can I...?”

 

“Uh...” Yoongi watched in confusion as Junyoung’s fingers closed around his wrist, lifting it to his nose and taking a deep breath in.

 

His grip tightened on Yoongi’s wrist. “Shit,” he muttered, “shit... you really are an omega.”

 

“Uh... yeah. I told you,” Yoongi said, trying to pull his hand away. He felt a brief jolt of alarm when Junyoung didn’t let go, but a split second later he’d loosened his grip, allowing Yoongi to pull back.

 

“I know... and, I mean, it made sense, I guess. But I didn’t... huh.”

 

“What do you mean, it made sense?” Yoongi couldn’t stop himself asking.

 

Junyoung shrugged. “I mean... well, the way you look, y’know?” His eyes traveled over Yoongi for several, long moments. Yoongi shifted, uncomfortable under the almost assessing gaze, unsure of what exactly it was that Junyoung was seeing--his hair was messy and unstyled, and he was dressed only in sweatpants and a loose fitting t-shirt, feet bare.

 

Yoongi didn’t how to respond to that. “Right...” he said, after a pause. He turned back to the pot on the stove, turning off the heat and busying himself with finishing up his food.

 

When he was done, he took the bowl to his room, telling Junyoung he had studying to do. He didn’t, really--but he’d found himself keen to get out of there. Away from the odd way Junyoung had been looking at him. Like... like he’d never seen Yoongi before in his life.

 

It had made him feel... unsettled, in a way he didn’t quite know how to explain.

 

When a week passed without any further incident, Yoongi felt a combination of relief--and maybe a little embarrassment for what he figured had been an overreaction on his part. Alphas were particularly sensitive to scent, after all. Yoongi suddenly smelling like an omega must just have thrown Junyoung.

 

It was probably nothing.

 

*

 

Yoongi’s final exam was late on a Thursday afternoon in early June. Afterwards, his friends had tried to drag him out with them, but he’d declined. He had work in a few hours.

 

He took the bus back to Junyoung’s and grabbed a beer out of the fridge, settling himself on the couch, flipping on the television and turning the volume down until it was just background noise.

 

He leant back, stretching his legs out on the coffee table and closing his eyes, listening to the breeze rustling the curtains, the low rattle of the AC unit, the quiet hum of voices from the television.

 

He jumped a little at the sound of the door slamming, realizing he’d almost drifted off.

 

“Hey,” Junyoung greeted.

 

“Hi,” Yoongi replied, tucking his legs underneath him, suddenly feeling oddly exposed in his t-shirt and shorts.

 

“So you’ve finished your exams?” Junyoung questioned, as he detoured to the fridge to pull out his own beer.

 

Yoongi nodded. “Yep. All done.”

 

“Cool. Congrats, man.”

 

He came to sit beside Yoongi on the couch, holding up his bottle. “Cheers.” Yoongi knocked his against it.

 

They sat in silence for a while, both of them half watching the drama playing on the TV.

 

“D’you wanna order takeout?” Junyoung asked, after a little while.

 

“Mm...” Yoongi hesitated. He’d been putting off getting up and going to the kitchen, rifling through the sparse pickings in the fridge in order to put together some semblance of a meal.

 

However, he was also pretty low on money.

 

Junyoung seemed to guess at the reason behind his hesitation. “Hey, don’t worry, it’s on me,” he said. “Won that battle last weekend, remember? The prize money was pretty decent. Besides, we gotta celebrate you practically being a graduate, and all.”

 

Yoongi chewed his lip, still feeling reluctant. Junyoung had already been too generous with his money--not even allowing Yoongi to cover his full share of the rent, telling him he could do so once he started working full time.

 

He was really fucking hungry, though.

 

“Okay,” he agreed, finally.

 

Junyoung began rifling through the menus in the kitchen drawer, placing an order before coming back to sit beside Yoongi on the couch.

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi murmured.

 

“No worries, man. I’m starving, anyway.”

 

“No...” Yoongi adjusted his position slightly so he was partially facing Junyoung. “Not for that. I mean, yeah, for that--but also, well. Thanks for helping me out. For letting me stay here. I... I really appreciate it, hyung.”

 

“No problem,” Junyoung said. He shifted closer to Yoongi on the couch.

 

When he looked back at that moment, years later, Yoongi would feel stupid--that he hadn’t realized. That he hadn’t put together everything leading up to that point. The encounter in the kitchen, the stares that lasted just a little too long. The look in Junyoung’s eyes as he’d been edging closer.

 

It had made him feel uncomfortable, but he’d told himself he was probably just imagining things.

 

By the time the alarm bells started going off, it was too late.

 

It had all happened so quickly. One second, Junyoung was close--too close. Yoongi opened his mouth, still confused, but growing steadily warier by the second.

 

“Wh--” his noise of protest was cut off as Junyoung surged forward, nearly knocking Yoongi backwards as he connected their mouths.

 

Yoongi’s eyes went wide. He tried to push at Junyoung’s chest, feeling the first jolt of genuine fear when it achieved practically nothing. Though Junyoung wasn’t that much bigger than him, he had alpha strength on his side.

 

Junyoung reached up with one hand to grip at his jaw, the other wrapping around his back, holding him tightly--too tightly.

 

Finally, he broke away, attaching his mouth to Yoongi’s neck.

 

Stop--” Yoongi pushed at his chest again. “Stop it--what are you doing--”

 

But it was like Junyoung wasn’t even listening. “Mm, fuck,” he muttered, almost to himself, “you smell like sugar.” Yoongi shuddered at the sensation, wet and thoroughly repulsive, of Junyoung’s tongue darting out to lick over the skin.

 

Junyoung seemed to misinterpret his response. “Shit, Yoongi-yah--shit, you’re so fucking hot,” he rasped. “Just wanna--” his hand slipped down, sliding under Yoongi’s ass, squeezing hard.

 

That jolted Yoongi into action. “Stop,” He repeated, “fucking... stop, hyung!” He gave the alpha a final push, putting all of his strength into it.

 

Junyoung reeled backwards, one arm shooting out to brace himself against the couch. “What the fuck--” he panted.

 

“What the hell?” Yoongi hissed back.

 

Junyoung stared at him, confusion etched on his face. “What... what’s the problem? Too fast?”

 

“No! That’s not--I don’t... I don’t want that.”

 

Junyoung looked even more confused now. “But you’re... you’re--”

 

“I’m what?”

 

“You’re an omega.”

 

What the fuck. Had Junyoung watched too much porn or something?

 

“That doesn’t mean I’m going to have sex with you!”

 

At the time, Yoongi could barely believe what he was hearing. Later, he’d realize that the idea that omegas always secretly wanted it, deep down, was far from something that existed only in bad pornos--that it was deeply ingrained, in an insidious sort of way, the kind of thing people would deny believing (but, at least on some level, still did).

 

Junyoung frowned. “Well, we don’t have to have sex,” he said, sounding huffy. “Not right now, anyway,” he added. “We could... wait.”

 

Yoongi stared at him, at the look on his face. The almost hungry way he was eyeing Yoongi, staring at the place where--Yoongi realized--his t-shirt had slipped down over his shoulder. He tugged it back into place quickly.

 

Now that he recognized that look for what it was, he found he didn’t trust Junyoung on that one. Not one bit.

 

He made a frustrated sound. “No, you don’t--you don’t get it. I don’t want to have sex with you. At all,” he emphasized, getting up from the couch. Something was telling him to put distance between them.

 

Junyoung looked offended. “Why not?”

 

“Why... are you serious? I just don’t fucking want to, okay?”

 

I’ve got to get out of here, he thought.

 

He was already packing his bag--at least it was easier this time, since he hadn’t brought that much stuff with him, and hadn’t exactly had the money to buy anything more, either--when Junyoung appeared, leaning against the door frame.

 

“Look...” he said, “sorry, but--you’ve just been... around all the time, you know? Looking like that. Smelling like that. I mean, I couldn’t...”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, sharply. “Control yourself?”

 

But, of course, that apparently didn’t offend Junyoung at all. “Well, no,” he said. “But, still, not many alphas would have been able to hold themselves back like I did, y’know.”

 

“Right,” Yoongi muttered, “you’re a real fucking saint.”

 

“Hey!” Junyoung said, sounding annoyed now. “You’re goddamn lucky I let you stay here, kid! I didn’t even make you pay your way!”

 

“I told you I would--”

 

“--And now you’re fucking--acting like... like this!”

 

“What the fuck are you trying to say, Junyoung?” Yoongi snapped, not bothering with honorifics. “That I... that I owe you sex?”

 

“No...”

 

“Well... that’s what it fucking sounded like!” Yoongi replied, hating the way his voice had gone slightly unsteady, the lingering edge of fear still running through him, underneath the anger.

 

He zipped up his bag and headed for the door.

 

“Yoongi-yah... don’t be stupid. Where are you gonna go? It’s late.”

 

“None of your fucking business.”

 

“C’mon, kid...” It was half hearted, at best.

 

That figured, Yoongi supposed. Junyoung probably didn’t really care all that much anymore. Not now he’d realized he wasn’t going to be getting sex out of it.

 

Yoongi ignored him, slamming the door behind him.

 

Fuck. I never should have trusted him.

 

Why did I trust him? He’s an alpha, for god’s sake.

 

What was I thinking?

 

*

 

“So, we stopped over in Dubai--stayed at the Burj Al Arab, naturally...”

 

“Mm...” Yoongi pushed the cake around his plate, only half paying attention to Donghyun’s droning on about his latest business trip.

 

The only advantage of the frequent trips away, he supposed, was that it meant the alpha was out of the country, and as such unable to come to the cafe and request Yoongi. He'd had come to find the half hours in which he had to sit and listen to the man’s boastful rambling quite excruciating.

 

Not to mention that he treated Yoongi as if he were either delicate flower (ha) or a complete fucking moron (or sometimes both). Yoongi had run out of energy to keep being insulted by it, at any rate--besides, he suspected it was the same way in which the man treated all omegas.

 

He always came alone now, too. At least when the alpha had brought his colleagues along with him, Yoongi hadn’t been expected to respond quite so frequently.

 

Speaking of... he looked up, guiltily, realizing the alpha had gone quiet. Had he been supposed to say something?

 

“You haven’t finished your cake,” Donghyun told him, frowning.

 

Yoongi quickly shoved a forkful of cake into his mouth. He really didn’t want to get into the whole hand feeding thing again.

 

The bite he’d taken was mostly buttercream icing, and he tried not to make a face at the overly sweet taste. He chewed and swallowed reluctantly.

 

Ugh.

 

“May I...?” He asked, gesturing at the shot of espresso, still untouched, in front of Donghyun.

 

The man nodded, confused. His mouth dropped open when Yoongi knocked it back in one go.

 

Ah. That was better. And the shocked expression on the alpha’s face wasn’t too bad, either.

 

“Isn’t... isn’t that too strong for you?” He asked.

 

Yoongi shrugged. “No.”

 

“Oh...” Donghyun was still looking at him in surprise. “Hm, you’re... you’re really quite different, aren’t you?”

 

No, Yoongi wanted to say. I’m not. You’ve probably just never spoken to an omega long enough to see them as anything other than glorified window dressing.

 

But he bit his tongue. Instead asking, “So, what was the penthouse in the hotel like?”

 

That got Donghyun going again, and Yoongi let himself zone out.

 

He was cleaning the table after the alpha had left when Lisa arrived and headed over. “Hey! Donghyun ahjussi again?” She said, sympathetically.

 

“Yep.”

 

“He make you eat the cake?” She asked, helping Yoongi load the final cups onto the tray.

 

“Uh huh. But I drank his espresso, too.” He nodded at the empty glass.

 

Lisa giggled. “Oh my god, I bet that freaked him out.”

 

“It did, a bit,” Yoongi grinned.

 

“So...” she said, after a moment, “no gifts from your secret admirer today, huh?”

 

Yoongi shook his head.

 

“D’you think it’s ‘cause it’s him?”

 

Yoongi grimaced. “God, I hope not.” Then again, he didn’t really want it to be any of the other customers, either--with the exception of Jongsoo, but he knew the old man didn’t have a lot of money, so it was unlikely to be him.

 

He’d almost forgotten about the first mystery package until a couple of days afterwards, when Sungho had shoved it into his arms at the end of his shift, grumbling about him taking up space under the counter.

 

He’d taken the scarf and gloves home and left them in the box at the bottom of his closet, still feeling strange about the entire thing.

 

But the gifts just kept coming.

 

First, it had been a small box containing a braided leather bracelet. After that, the sender had apparently decided to revert to the knitwear theme, and the next package which had arrived had been a white, fluffy sweater. Lisa had insisted he try that one on.

 

She seemed more excited by the whole thing than he did--and really, Yoongi would have just passed along all the presents to her, only... well. He hated to admit it, but whoever was sending them had clearly chosen the items with him in mind. They weren’t really all that much like the somewhat generic gifts which cafe employees often received--flowers, candy, and, on occasion, flashy designer jewelry.

 

While the bracelet had been expensive--Lisa had done some Googling and discovered it was Tom Ford, and retailed for over four hundred thousand won--it wouldn’t have looked entirely out of place with the others he usually wore. And the sweater... well, Yoongi’d had to admit that not only had the fit been almost perfect, but also that it was incredibly soft and comfortable. He’d found himself feeling a bit reluctant to resign it the bottom of his closet.

 

The next gift, a couple of days after Dongyun’s visit, was a sleek, silver espresso machine. Yoongi’s jaw had nearly dropped when he’d opened the box. What he could admit had been a brief jolt of excitement was rapidly dampened when he recalled downing the espresso in front of Donghyun.

 

Oh, shit, he thought, uneasily. Was it really Donghyun? It was starting to seem more likely now. Though he still couldn’t quite reconcile the presents with what he knew of the alpha’s taste (which, from what he’d seen, was... well, ostentatious was the word that came to mind).

 

And even if it wasn’t, Yoongi still felt wary about it all. On the one hand, maybe they really were just an innocent, well meaning gifts, no strings attached. But then again... maybe they weren’t. He really had no clue. The sender had never left a single note.

 

That evening, he’d gotten home after his shift and resigned the espresso machine to the closet along with the other gifts, resolving to pretend that it didn’t exist.

 

Unfortunately, the pretence had only lasted until the following morning, when Yoongi had dragged it back out, torn open the box and carried it into his kitchen.

 

Twenty minutes later, after perusing the instruction manual, he’d succeeded in making a cup of coffee infinitely superior to anything his stovetop pot could produce.

 

He wanted to blame the whole thing on the sleep deprived need for caffeine... but, somehow, the machine never found its way back into the closet, after that.

 

It was different, though, Yoongi told himself--the espresso machine never had to leave his apartment. It could stay on his kitchen counter, and no one would ever have to know he was using it.

 

And if he found himself occasionally wearing the sweater around the apartment, too... well, it was cozy, and warm, and the building’s central heating was for shit (particularly painful now that it was late November and the temperature had dropped even further). Nobody would ever see him in it, anyway. So it was fine.

 

*

 

“Hyung! Hurry up!” Taehyung yelled from the hallway.

 

“Yah, I’m coming!” Yoongi called back in annoyance, shoving the final sweater into the too-full bag and struggling with the zipper.

 

“Why are you taking so long?” Taehyung whined. “We’re all waiting!”

 

“Yeah, well none of you had to work this morning,” Yoongi grumbled, to no-one. He’d rushed home from his shift with barely more than ten minutes to spare before the others arrived to pick him up--he was the last one.

 

It was partly his fault, really, since he should’ve packed last night. Only, he’d ended up falling asleep scrolling through his phone on the couch, waking at two AM, too exhausted to do anything but drag himself to bed.

 

Work combined with the end of semester deadlines always ended up in this way, with sleep becoming more of a luxury than a necessity, and with Yoongi relying on caffeine and power naps to maintain even the barest semblance of normal functioning (he may have found the new espresso machine a big help this time around. Maybe.)

 

As of yesterday, however, he was officially done. Today was Saturday, and the start of the winter break.

 

Yoongi had always had mixed feelings about winter break. On the one hand, he valued the precious time to himself, to do whatever it was he felt like--go for long walks with only music and his thoughts to keep him company, work on his own music, catch up on Netflix, or, if he didn’t have to work, simply just stay in bed all day.

 

But sometimes... the welcome comfort, the relief of time alone tipped over into loneliness. He was the only one of his friends who didn’t go home to his family during the holidays, and though his brother almost always made the trip to Seoul to see him in the run up to Christmas, he invariably spent the day itself alone.

 

He’d resigned himself to it by this point. Which was why he’d been a little thrown a couple of weeks back, when Taehyung had practically pounced on him almost as soon as he’d arrived at the coffee shop for his shift, announcing excitedly they were all planning a group trip for a few days at the beginning of the break.

 

Yoongi had been surprised. Though they’d always talked about going away together, nothing had ever materialized beyond the odd day trip out of the city.

 

Maybe that was for the best, though--since he wasn’t sure he could afford anything more than that.

 

(Taehyung had shaken his head. “It won’t cost anything, hyung, so you don’t need to worry about that--”

 

It wouldn’t cost anything? How...?

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened in horror. “Tae, you damn well better not tell me that Jungkook offered to pay and you all accepted!”

 

Taehyung raised his hands placatingly. “Calm down, hyung! It’s nothing like that. It’s his family’s house.”

 

“What do you mean, it’s his family’s house?”

 

“Well, it’s like a holiday home, I guess.”

 

Yoongi frowned. “I’m not sure that’s really all that different to him paying--”

 

“Yes it is! It doesn’t cost him anything, hyung! His family owns the property.” 

 

“Yes, but...”

 

“Look, I know you have a...” Taehyung’s brows knitted together, clearly trying to choose his words carefully, “... a thing, about this. But I told you, Jungkookie doesn’t mind. And besides, we’ve all wanted to go on a trip together forever!” He was looking at Yoongi with big, hopeful eyes now. And, dammit... Yoongi could already feel himself caving.

 

Taehyung was still going, though. “--And it just wouldn’t be the same without you! So you have to--”

 

“Alright, fine, fine!” He interrupted, “I’ll come.” He’d barely gotten the words out before Taehyung had literally squeaked in excitement, throwing his arms around Yoongi.

 

“Oh, man, I’m so excited! It’s gonna be awesome.”)

 

With a final grunt of effort, and after rearranging all the items in the bag, Yoongi managed to get the zipper all the way closed, slinging the bag over his shoulder and heading out of his room to locate Taehyung, who’d been suspiciously quiet for the past few minutes.

 

It turned out he was in the kitchen, crunching on an onion. Raw, of course, because the kid was just weird.

 

“Yes,” Yoongi said, “please, help yourself to my food.”

 

“I got hungry waiting for you,” Taehyung told him, through a mouthful of onion.

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Come on. Let’s go.”

 

They made their way downstairs where the others were waiting. The amount of people and baggage involved had necessitated two cars--Jin and Jungkook’s, respectively. Yoongi had half expected Jungkook to drive some kind of compact, flashy sports car--but the vehicle parked alongside Jin’s blue Subaru was a large black jeep.

 

“Finally!” Hoseok called, getting up from where he’d been leaning against the side of the Subaru. “C’mon, hyung, we’re all getting old here.”

 

Jimin giggled. “Jin and Yoongi hyung are the only ones who’re getting old.”

 

“Actually, we’re all slowly dying,” Yoongi corrected, heading for Jin’s car.

 

“Ah, what a cheerful little Christmas elf you are,” Jin told him, sounding fond. He reached out to ruffle Yoongi’s hair, Yoongi slapping his hand away half heartedly. “And age is just a number, Jimin-ah,” he called, as he climbed into the driver’s seat.

 

Yoongi was heading around the side of the car to drop his bag in the trunk when a hand closed around his arm.

 

“C’mon,” Taehyung said, tugging him away. “You’re riding with us.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“You’re good at directions!” Taehyung insisted.

 

Yoongi frowned, letting himself be pulled along. “Doesn’t the car have a sat nav...?” He asked, confused.

 

“Yeah. But you can’t trust those things.”

 

Still confused, Yoongi nonetheless found himself in the passenger seat of the jeep, with only Taehyung in the back--he’d assumed us had included Jimin, but it turned out he was riding in the other car. Though that made sense, he supposed, since Namjoon was there, too.

 

Jungkook, who’d apparently been programming the sat nav (which looked completely state of the art and not at all like it was going to malfunction) looked up at him with a grin.

 

“Hey, hyung. You get your assignment in okay yesterday?”

 

Yoongi nodded, realizing as he did that Jungkook had texted him last night asking the same thing--but then, he’d fallen asleep, and forgotten to reply. “Uh huh. How was your exam?”

 

Jungkook made a face. “Boring as hell, but I think it went alright,” he said, putting the car in drive and pulling away.

 

Way too fast.

 

Yoongi let out a noise embarrassingly close to a squawk as they sped down the--thankfully clear--street. To be fair, though, the sound Taehyung made was pretty similar.

 

“Jungkook-ah! Slow down!” Yoongi exclaimed.

 

“Oh...” Jungkook said. There was a pause of a few seconds before his foot moved to the brake. “Yeah. Sorry.”

 

“Yah, Jungkookie, I really don’t want to die today,” Taehyung complained.

 

“Sorry. I’m not used to driving in the city. Haven’t done it in a while.”

 

“I can tell,” Yoongi snorted. “Anyway, the others need to stay behind us, you know.”

 

Jungkook glanced in the rearview mirror. “I can still see them.”

 

Just.”

 

“Mm...” Jungkook looked sheepish now. “Just.”

 

Now that they were moving at a more reasonable pace, Yoongi had a chance to look around, noticing as he did that the jeep’s sleek leather interior was spotless. (And also that every breath he took in the closed quarters of the car came with a hint of Jungkook’s scent. But that was neither here nor there.)

 

“Is the car new?” He asked.

 

Jungkook nodded. “Yeah. Pretty new. I’ve only had it since I came back to Seoul last summer.”

 

“I somehow didn’t imagine you with a jeep,” Yoongi mused.

 

Jungkook glanced at him. “What did you imagine, then?”

 

“I dunno. Something a bit less... practical, I guess.”

 

There was a laugh from the back. Yoongi turned to see Taehyung grinning widely. “Tell him what your other car is, Kook-ah.”

 

“Tae...” Jungkook complained.

 

“What is it?” Yoongi asked. Not that he particularly cared about cars, but he was curious as to why Jungkook looked almost... embarrassed.

 

Jungkook muttered something indechipherable.

 

Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t quite catch that.”

 

“It’s a Bugatti,” Jungkook mumbled. Yoongi couldn’t help but laugh at his expression. The kid looked like he’d been forced to confess to something terrible. “But I couldn’t bring that one, anyway,” he added, at a normal volume this time, “it’s only got two seats.”

 

From the back, Taehyung let out an amused snort.

 

“It was an eighteenth birthday present,” Jungkook continued, as if that clarified things, somehow.

 

“Uh huh.” Yoongi tried not to draw too many comparisons between his own life at eighteen, and what he imagined Jungkook’s must have been like. “Did you listen to that one Ace Hood song too many times or something?”

 

The corner of Jungkook’s lips twitched. “I did used to like that song, actually.”

 

“What song?” Taehyung asked--before immediately continuing, apparently not caring about the answer, “And by the way, you think he went too fast just now, hyung, you should see how he drives that one.”

 

“I wasn’t going that fast!” Jungkook protested.

 

“Yes, you were,” Taehyung disagreed. “I’m never getting into that car with you again. You accelerated into the bends.”

 

“I only did that once!”

 

“It was three times!”

 

“It was not,” Jungkook scoffed.

 

“It was! At least!”

 

“What do you know about driving, anyway?”

 

“I know you’re not supposed to drive like you’re in GTA in real life!”

 

Yoongi half listened to them bicker back and forth, pulling out his phone after a moment.

 

“He’s exaggerating, hyung,” Jungkook whined. “I don’t drive like I’m in GTA.”

 

“Sure, alright,” Yoongi said, placatingly.

 

“I’m a safe driver,” Jungkook insisted.

 

Taehyung scoffed.

 

“Alright!” Yoongi cut in. “Enough, jeez. Leave him alone, Tae. His driving’s fine now.” He glanced at Jungkook. “And you can stop looking so smug. After the way you pulled out of that parking space, I find it hard to believe Tae was completely exaggerating.”

 

“But I was just--”

 

“No buts. Shh.”

 

Jungkook’s mouth snapped closed. Taehyung giggled.

 

Bossing him around...

 

No alpha is going to be put up with being talked to the way you were talking to yours just now.

 

The words popped, unbidden, into Yoongi’s mind. He dismissed them, irritated.

 

That woman had been talking crap. He could speak to Jungkook however he liked. Jungkook didn’t care. He wasn’t like that.

 

And besides, he wasn’t Yoongi’s alpha. They were just friends.

 

The silence stretched out for a few moments, until Jungkook leaned over to turn the radio on, flipping through a few different stations until he landed on something loud and guitar heavy, the raspy voiced singer clearly having a hard time about something or other. Yoongi thought maybe he recognized it from a movie soundtrack, a vague memory from his childhood. 

 

Before he could figure it out, the song ended and another began, upbeat and poppy this time.

 

"Hey..." came Taehyung's voice from the back. "We should play a game!"

 

Jungkook and Yoongi both groaned.

 

Taehyung huffed. "What's wrong with the two of you? You're so boring."

 

One of Jungkook's hands snuck out towards the center console, and suddenly the music was blasting throughout the car.

 

"What's that, hyung? I can't hear you!"

 

*

 

The drive was long, and though they stopped a couple of times, for fresh air, and for snacks, Yoongi found himself feeling sleepy, lulled by the steady motion of the car (Jungkook’s driving had improved considerably once they’d left the city limits and hit the highway--although admittedly that was partly because it allowed him to pick up his speed again).

 

The next thing he knew, he was distantly aware of voices--though they felt as though they were very far away, and his brain couldn’t make sense of what they were saying.

 

“--let him sleep, he’s tired--”

 

“--got to wake him up sometime, Kookie--”

 

He jolted awake when he felt someone poking his arm. “Wake up, hyung!” It was Tae’s voice. “We’re nearly there.”

 

Yoongi groggily opened his eyes. He was curled up in his seat, head resting against the window. He yawned, sitting up and stretching, taking in the rolling green fields outside the windows, the mountains in the distance.

 

“How long was I asleep for?” He asked, reaching up to rub at his neck, stiff from being held in the same position for so long.

 

Ages,” Taehyung said. “It’s not as fun playing eye spy with only two people.”

 

“It’s not fun playing eye spy at all,” Jungkook grumbled. “Not with you. You cheat.”

 

“How on earth can you cheat at eye spy?” Yoongi asked, incredulously, “what’s even the point?

 

“You can talk, hyung,” Taehyung retorted, “where do you think I learnt it from? He’s the worst cheater of them all,” he informed Jungkook, “never play board games with him, trust me.”

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes, but didn’t deny it. Cheating at board games just kept the other players on their toes.

 

“So how far away are we?” He asked Jungkook.

 

“We’re just about here, actually,” Jungkook said, flipping on the indicator--there was absolutely no-one around, but apparently he was totally committed to being a safe driver now--and making a right turn onto a small dirt road.

 

After a few moments, the road became steadily steeper, until it became apparent they were going up a hill, the car bumping over the uneven surface underneath, until they reached a tall, wrought iron gate. Jungkook pulled up to the intercom next to it, rolling down the window to tap in what must have been the security code.

 

The gate opened and the ride became smooth again as the car rolled up the driveway. Yoongi looked around, but he could see nothing but trees. Finally, the foliage cleared enough for the house to become visible, peeking over the trees at the top of a gentle incline.

 

Well. House wasn’t exactly right. Mansion was more accurate.

 

It wasn’t anything close to what he’d pictured, though. After the gates and the driveway, Yoongi had expected something more imposing. But, if it hadn’t been for the sheer size of it, the house would have looked almost rustic, all dark wood and unfinished stone, surrounded by trees, as though it had somehow sprung up unbidden from the landscape surrounding it.

 

The only thing ruining the illusion was the floor to ceiling glass windows on the lower level, giving the structure a more modern feel, lights from inside casting a warm, golden glow onto the sprawling lawn.

 

The more Yoongi looked, the more the realization sunk in, in a way it never really had before, just how wealthy Jungkook’s family actually was.

 

The place was huge--far bigger than anything most people could ever dream of affording. And it was just... what had Taehyung said? A holiday home.

 

They pulled to a stop out front. Yoongi glanced down the driveway to see Jin’s car following close behind.

 

“Dude, is that a koi pond? Cool!” Taehyung asked.

 

He glanced in the direction Taehyung was looking to see that he was right. Yoongi had been so busy looking at the house itself, he hadn’t noticed the bridge leading off the driveway, over the pond (actually, it was more like a very tiny lake).

 

“Is someone in there?” Yoongi asked, nodding to the lights inside the house.

 

Jungkook shook his head. “No, not now. There were cleaners in before we arrived.”

 

Hm. So much for him not spending any money.

 

“It’s... impressive,” Yoongi said, after a moment. Though that wasn’t quite the right word.

 

Jungkook nodded, a small smile forming. “Yeah,” he said, “well... I like it, anyway. My grandfather built it in the sixties. He wanted somewhere peaceful he could come to get away.” He made an faintly amused sound. “My grandmother hated it. She wanted something more in the traditional style. But my grandfather... well, he never really cared all that much about tradition.” He sounded fond.

 

“Sounds like an interesting man,” Yoongi offered, tentatively. He hadn’t missed the past tense.

 

Jungkook laughed. “Yeah, he was. He’s the one who founded the company, you know.”

 

“Oh.” Yoongi hadn’t known that. To be honest, he’d never really bothered to find out much more about Jeon Corp than he’d already been aware of, before they’d met--which wasn’t much. It had felt... almost--wrong, somehow. If Jungkook wanted him to know, Yoongi had thought, he’d tell him.

 

He didn’t want to think about the number of times in the Jungkook’s life people must have done the opposite--formed their opinion of him from the internet, from rumors, from magazine articles. Googled his family’s company, their holdings, his father’s net worth.

 

And really, they’d all been missing the point entirely. Because Jungkook... he was so much more than any of that. He was...

 

Careful, said a little voice in the back of his head.

 

Yoongi halted that train of thought quickly.

 

Jin’s Subaru rolled to a stop behind the jeep, the others getting out, staring up at the house in awe.

 

“Wow,” Namjoon murmured.

 

Jin was only one who didn’t look quite so shocked, though that wasn’t really surprising. His family had a fair amount of money--nothing like this, but they were comfortably well off, moved in the kind of circles where this type of excessive wealth wasn’t an entirely foreign concept. Not like it was to the rest of them.

 

Yoongi glanced at Jungkook. He was kicking at the gravel with one foot. He looked uncomfortable.

 

“Guys, it’s just a house,” he muttered. As if he hadn’t had pretty much the exact same reaction only minutes before.

 

Namjoon gave him a sideways glance, looking a little incredulous.

 

“It’s really...” Jimin seemed to be searching for words. “It’s amazing, Jungkookie,” he said, sincerely, “thank you so much for letting us stay here.”

 

Jungkook ducked his head, scratching the back of his neck. “It’s no problem.”

 

“Joonie, come and see the fish!” Taehyung called, excitedly.

 

“Fish?” Namjoon, who’d still been staring up at the house, looked around in surprise.

 

“Yeah! There’s baby ones, come and look!”

 

Jungkook headed around to the trunk of the jeep, popping it open and throwing his bag over his shoulder, Yoongi’s over the other. Yoongi stared as he grabbed Tae’s last, slinging it over one elbow.

 

He began to head for the front door. Yoongi finally found his words. “Jungkook-ah! Give me my bag!”

 

Jungkook glanced back at him, grinning. “No.”

 

“Hey, Jungkookie, you can take my bag, too!” Hoseok was already moving around to the trunk of the Subaru.

 

“Give that here,” Yoongi demanded, reaching up to grab it off Jungkook’s shoulder.

 

“Here you go, Jungkookie!”

 

Yoongi made an irritated noise when his bag was simply replaced with Hoseok’s.

 

“Hyung, it’s fine,” Jungkook rolled his eyes. “C’mon, you can get the door key--I asked the cleaners to leave under the frog in the corner,” he said, inclining his head to where a ceramic frog sat in the corner of the porch, next to a rabbit and a squirrel.

 

Reluctantly, Yoongi went over and lifted the frog, grabbing the key and sliding it into the lock. The key had a touch of rust, and the lock felt a stiff, as it had been a long time since it had been used with any regularity.

 

Namjoon and Taehyung headed back over once they realized the everyone else was going inside, and what followed was a good twenty minutes of excitement, and not inconsiderable bickering, as everyone claimed their rooms.

 

Yoongi ended up in a room in the corner of the first floor, finding himself drawn to it, though it wasn’t as big as some of the rooms on the upper levels, neither was the view as impressive.

 

But while it was small by the standards of the rest of the bedrooms, it still had an ensuite bathroom and a decent sized balcony looking out over the trees and the thick foliage at the side of the house.

 

The furniture was dark wood, of a similar type to the outside of the house, and when Yoongi stepped closer he saw the dresser had woodland creatures carved into it. That seemed to be something of a theme in the house’s decor, he’d noticed.

 

The rest of the afternoon was uneventful. Jin had announced he was exhausted from the drive, and gone to lie down. Namjoon and Jimin had disappeared off somewhere--almost certainly one their rooms--for reasons that didn’t bear thinking about.

 

Yoongi returned to his room, heading out onto the balcony. He took a few shots of the trees and the mountains on the horizon--on his phone, as he’d forgotten to pack his camera in the rush earlier.

 

He could hear laughter and voices nearby--Hoseok and Taehyung had headed out into the gardens to explore, dragging Jungkook along with them even though he’d presumably seen it all already--and looked around until his eyes landed on the three of them.

 

The next second, he winced at the sound of Hoseok’s loud screech--practically deafening even from up here--as Jungkook shoved a handful of leaves down the back of his sweater, Taehyung laughing when he turned to see what was going on.

 

He watched as Hoseok jumped around and began shaking out his sweater frantically, shrilly demanding they needed to check there were no bugs on him--which they did, after the cackling had died down.

 

Yoongi smiled, rolling his eyes a little at the childish antics. At least Taehyung and Jungkook were actually kids--as far as Yoongi was concerned, anyway--Hoseok had no such excuse.

 

To be honest, though, it was actually something he’d always envied in Hoseok--his tendency towards relentless optimism, the way he seemed to brighten up any room, just with his presence. It was all the more admirable in that Yoongi knew him well enough to know it didn’t come entirely naturally--Hoseok made a choice to be that way. To make everyone around him just that little bit happier.

 

Sometimes, Yoongi felt as though he was almost the exact opposite. Found himself wondering if his friends minded that he could be quiet, or moody, or snap at them, or that he sometimes just desperately felt as though he needed time alone.

 

They understood, he supposed. But still... there were times when he wished he could be a little more like Hoseok.

 

He couldn’t deny that some of his unease might just have had the tiniest amount to do with the fact he knew he was just about as far from the idea of how omegas were supposed to act as it was possible to be.

 

No, that was closer to someone like Jimin, bright and outgoing, sweet and caring--or even to Hoseok’s sunny personality, though he was a beta.

 

It shouldn’t bother him. And mostly, it didn’t. But sometimes...

 

Sometimes, it did. Just a little.

 

“Hyung!” Came a shout. It was Hoseok. “What are you doing up there?”

 

“Admiring the view,” Yoongi called back.

 

Hoseok crossed his arms. “You going to do that for the rest of the afternoon?”

 

“Yeah, come down here, Yoongi hyung!” Taehyung called, turning from where Jungkook had been pointing something out to him.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.”

 

Not that he was particularly keen on the possibility of getting leaves shoved down his sweater... but it was better than staying up here, letting his thoughts wander. Losing himself to this kind of introspection, the places his mind drifted to, sometimes. More than usual, lately, in fact. He wasn’t sure why.

 

I’m just more run down than usual. Tired, and overworked.

 

He shook himself, heading downstairs to join the others.

 

*

 

The nearest town of any size was a half hour drive, a coastal resort town popular with tourists during the summer months, but fairly quiet this time of year.

 

None of them had been keen on being the designated driver, so they’d settled on the bus--there was a stop a short walk from the house. (Jungkook’s estimation of the walk, however, had unfortunately not taken into account the long driveway, or the hill. Yoongi really wasn’t looking forward to that later. Especially not after a few drinks.)

 

They ended up in a seafood restaurant on the boardwalk--Jungkook’s idea, it had apparently been somewhere he’d gone with his grandparents frequently when he’d come to visit as a kid.

 

That had made Yoongi wary of how much the meal would cost, but the place turned out to be decidedly unfancy, perched at the edge of the boardwalk with a view out over the sea--probably a little nicer in the summer when the sky and sea weren’t alternating shades of gray, the water rough and choppy--the atmosphere laid back and relaxed. Most of the other diners looked to be locals.

 

They were halfway through their meal when an elderly omega woman approached their table--grey haired and tiny, her wrinkled face etched in lines of disbelief. 

 

“Jeon Jungkook!” She exclaimed. “Can that really be you?”

 

Jungkook’s mouth dropped open, and he stared in surprise for a few moments before a grin broke out across his face.

 

“Ajumma!” He pushed back his chair and rushed over, moving to embrace her warmly (the sight was almost comical, as Jungkook was nearly twice her size).

 

“Oh, it is you! My little tokki! Let me look at you.” She placed her hands on his shoulders, surveying him. “My, what a handsome young man you’ve become!”

 

“Ah, ajumma...” Jungkook mumbled, shuffling his feet, looking a little embarrassed.

 

“It’s been so long,” she said, shaking her head. “It must have been...”

 

“Eight years,” Jungkook finished for her, softly. “It’s... it’s really wonderful to see you again, Soonhee ajumma.”

 

She smiled at him, patting his cheek. “You too, Jungkook-ah. Now...” she turned to look at the others, “where are your manners, hm? Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friends?”

 

“Oh, yes--of course...” 

 

When Jungkook reached Yoongi, Soonhee smiled at him warmly, just as she had for each of the others--though, it felt as though her gaze rested on him for just a little longer than anyone else, something in her eyes almost appraising.

 

But... it was all over in the space of a few seconds, and the next moment Yoongi felt fairly sure he’d just been imagining things.

 

They chatted for a little while longer, Jungkook enquiring after how business at the restaurant was going, after the woman's family, her husband, her grandchildren. She, in turn, had even more questions for him--what he’d been doing, what he was studying, how his parents were... whether he had anyone special in his life .

 

Jungkook shook his head. “Ah, no...” Yoongi watched as he fidgeted with the rip in the knee of his jeans (which Soonhee had been telling him off about). The tips of his ears had turned red.

 

Yoongi guessed he was probably wasn’t too keen to go into further detail on the topic, probably thinking the elderly omega wouldn’t approve of his, ah... extracurricular activities. The rumors may have been an exaggeration, but they weren’t entirely untrue. (Aside from anything else, Yoongi had seen him take people home with him, before, when they’d all been out together. Though... come to think of it, that hadn’t happened for a while.)

 

“Hm. I see,” was all Soonhee replied. Her gaze flicked to Yoongi, and after a confused moment Yoongi realized it was probably because he was the only omega at the table--aside from Jimin, but his scent was mixed fairly strongly with Namjoon’s. The assumption that there might be something going on between them was a little old fashioned, sure, but not exactly unusual.

 

Thankfully Jungkook, having just glanced back up at that moment, had missed it.

 

When it came time for the bill, Soonhee announced their meal was on the house. They'd all protested, but she wouldn’t hear of it, saying they’d have a chance to pay when they came back next year. (Yoongi noticed that Jungkook--whose protests had been the most vocal--lingered behind on their way out, leaving what looked like a generous tip on the table.)

 

Afterwards, they wandered along the boardwalk in search of a bar. Out of season, the town’s residents were mostly older, many of them retirees, and there didn’t seem to be much of a nightlife. It looked as though they might be out of luck, until they heard laughter and music echoing from a little further down.

 

The bar was tiny, squeezed in between a now-closed gift shop and a cafe. There was a omega girl with blue hair and an eyebrow piercing standing outside, and Yoongi thought for a moment she was a patron, come out for some fresh air, until he saw that her jacket bore the bar’s logo--a stylized mermaid--and that she wore an earpiece.

 

Yoongi frowned. An omega bouncer? Granted, she was tall for an omega--but still. It was more than a little unusual. Plus, it wasn't the type of place which seemed as though it would need security.

 

She was eyeing them suspiciously. “You do realize this is an omega bar?” She asked, raising an eyebrow as her eyes drifted between Namjoon and Jungkook.

 

Ah. That made a lot more sense.

 

Omega only bars had become more common in recent years--despite the name, they allowed betas as well. It was only alphas that were typically excluded. Their growing popularity had caused cries of reverse discrimination across the media, not to mention Twitter (which... well, Yoongi felt they were all missing the point entirely there). He’d been to a few in Seoul, but he hadn’t expected to see one here.

 

“Ah, we can find somewhere else...” Namjoon started, but Jimin interrupted.

 

“Babe, there probably isn’t anywhere else around here. And it’s cold.” It was true, the breeze blowing in from the sea was an unwelcome addition to the already chilly night air. “He’s with me,” Jimin added, to the omega.

 

She sniffed the air, and must have scented that he was right, because she gave a little shrug. "Alright." Her gaze fell on Jungkook. “What about him, then?”

 

There was a pause. Uncomfortably, Yoongi wondered if he was supposed to vouch for Jungkook. Pretend to... to be with him.

 

It was Taehyung who broke the silence, sidling closer to Jungkook and lifting his arm, draping it over his own shoulders. “Jungkookie’s with me,” he announced, “he’s my boyfriend.”

 

The girl frowned. “But you’re a beta.”

 

Jin scoffed. “Hey, what are you, the love police? It’s 2018, you know! Get with the times. Betas and alphas can date if they want to!"

 

The girl snorted. “Alright. Fine. But cause any trouble, and they’re out.”

 

And that was that.

 

Yoongi slowly followed the others inside, trying not to examine too closely just why the idea of pretending to be with Jungkook had made him feel so uncomfortable. (More than that, even--for a split second, he’d felt almost... panicked.)

 

“C’mon, hyung!” Hoseok called. “First round’s on me!”

 

Yoongi quickened his steps, heading for the bar.

 

A drink sounded really good right about now.

 

*

 

By the time they all stumbled out of the bar, several hours later, they'd all had enough drinks that the cold was no longer such an issue, even with the drop in temperature as the night settled in.

 

Yoongi was just about ready to fall asleep on the bus, despite the hard, uncomfortable plastic seat. It was something of a struggle to drag himself off, and he lagged a few steps behind as they began the walk back, thinking wistfully of the soft, comfortable bed back in his room at the house. It seemed much too far away.

 

The others were all still seemed full of energy, laughter and shouts ringing into the night air. Yoongi supposed it was lucky there weren’t exactly many neighbors in the near vicinity.

 

Jungkook and Jin were bickering about something or other, and as Yoongi watched, Jin reached out to cuff the back of Jungkook’s neck, which Jungkook returned in kind. It was a little bit harder than Jin’s smack had been, by the looks of it.

 

Ow!” Jin cried, affronted. “Yah, Jungkookie! I’m still your hyung! Don’t think you get a free pass just ‘cause you’ve got an... an enormous forest mansion!”

 

That made Jungkook laugh loudly. “Don’t be a baby, hyung. I barely put any force into it.”

 

Jin made a disbelieving sound.

 

“Oh, you don’t believe me?” Jungkook asked, innocently, as he advanced on Jin again, one arm raised.

 

He giggled when Jin quickly stepped away, muttering to himself about astonishing disrespect and smug, bratty alphas.  

 

Jungkook glanced back over his shoulder then, slowing his steps until Yoongi had reached him.

 

“You alright, hyung?” He asked.

 

“Mm. Just tired.”

 

They walked in silence for a few moments.

 

“I can’t believe Soonhee ajumma is still there,” Jungkook mused. “I thought maybe, after all these years...” he trailed off.

 

“You seemed... close,” Yoongi commented, curiously. “Is she really your aunt?”

 

“Well... not really. But it felt like she was... still does, really. She was my grandmother’s best friend--they knew each other since they were kids. And I used to spend almost every summer down here when I was younger, up until... until my grandparents passed.”

 

“I’m sorry, Kook-ah,” Yoongi said, quietly.

 

“It’s alright,” Jungkook said, softly, “it was a long time ago, now. My grandmother passed away when I was twelve,” he added, after a pause, “my grandfather followed less than a year later. I don’t think he could live without her.”

 

Yoongi wasn’t quite sure what to say to that.

 

The others were far enough ahead now that the night seemed quiet again, the low rustling of wind through the trees the only sound aside from the low buzz of their chatter in the distance.

 

He tried to imagine how it would feel--loving someone so much that you simply couldn’t live without them. The thought seemed to sit heavy in his mind, and he felt a strange pang in his chest.

 

“So your family never came back here, then?” He asked. They’d reached the beginning of the driveway now, the way illuminated by the bright moonlight overhead. Just as well, as there wasn’t much in the way of streetlights.

 

Jungkook shook his head. “My dad never liked this place much, anyway. He prefers the city. Or somewhere more exotic. But I always loved it here.”

 

Yoongi swallowed, throat feeling suddenly tight. It was just... the idea of Jungkook bringing them here, of all places-- when it obviously meant so much to him.

 

“That’s...” he winced at the sound of his voice, “it’s not... hard for you, to be back here?”

 

“No,” Jungkook said, simply. “It’s what they would have wanted. This place was made for people, for... making good memories, I guess. Like the ones I have of here from when I was a kid. But hardly anyone ever comes here now--even my aunts and uncles haven’t been for a few years. It shouldn’t be sitting empty.”

 

Yoongi still didn’t quite know what to say, deeply touched by the gesture, by Jungkook’s words.

 

God, would this kid ever stop surprising him?

 

“It’s funny, though...” Jungkook continued, after a moment, a small smile pulling at the corner of his lips.

 

“Hm?”

 

“When the whole family used to stay here, I’d always play with my cousins--they were all older than me, though, and they’d tease me sometimes, for being so small. I’d run crying to my grandmother and Soonhee ajumma, and they’d tell me not to be sad, that one day I’d grow up to be a big, strong alpha. I mean, they were just trying to make me feel better, I guess. But it’s funny to think about now.”

 

Yoongi opened his mouth to reply--and then swore as he stumbled over a bump in the uneven ground.

 

“Woah,” one of Jungkook’s hands flew out, steadying him. “Had a few too many drinks there, hyung?” He teased.

 

“No,” Yoongi insisted, although that may have been part of the problem, “there just a... a rock, or something--”

 

“Sure...”

 

“There was! Ugh,” he complained, “Jungkook-ah, why does your house have to be up a hill?” It came out sounding a lot closer to a whine than he’d intended.

 

“Sorry about that,” Jungkook said, sounding amused.

 

“I’m fucking exhausted,” Yoongi grumbled, “why is my bed so far away?”

 

Jungkook chuckled. “Alright, then,” he said, still sounding far too amused, “c’mon, then, I’ll carry you up the hill, since you hate it so much.”

 

“What?” Yoongi blinked at him.

 

But Jungkook had already turned around, arms held back behind him in clear indication that he expected Yoongi to get on his back. He wiggled his fingers slightly. “Jump on.”

 

Yoongi wavered, torn. On the one hand, something told him that really wouldn’t be a good idea. And, on the other... his whole body felt heavy, muscles already aching a little with the effort of climbing halfway up the hill (at least, he was pretty sure it was halfway. It was kind of hard to tell, since all the trees looked pretty much the same in the low light).

 

He was so tired.

 

“C’mon, hyung. This is a time limited offer only.”

 

Yoongi stepped forward, sliding his arms around Jungkook’s neck. Jungkook’s hands slipped underneath his thighs, lifting Yoongi onto his back. After a moment, he continued walking up the hill, as if the extra weight was nothing. Yoongi frowned, feeling a little insulted. He wasn’t that light.

 

Jungkook shifted to get a better grip on him as the hill steepened slightly. “You can’t really carry me all the way up there,” Yoongi protested, half heartedly.

 

“Yes, I can,” Jungkook said, firmly. “Anyway, we’re nearly there now. Five minutes tops."

 

That turned out to be a lie, though, because Yoongi was sure that it took longer than that.

 

Pretty sure.

 

He wasn’t entirely aware of making the decision, but somehow, his head ended up resting on Jungkook’s shoulder. He inhaled deeply, then shifted a little, nose pressed to the soft fabric of Jungkook’s hoodie, trying to figure out what lay beneath the familiar cinnamon--he’d never quite been able to put his finger on it. It was something almost... earthy, he thought--like stepping outside after being indoors too long, breathing in deep lungfuls of cool air, the kind that settled over everything after a storm--green and fresh, everything washed clean.

 

If Yoongi had been more awake, he might have been alarmed at his thoughts. As it was, he felt his eyes slipping closed, Jungkook’s scent reassuringly present in each inhale, his warmth radiating all along Yoongi’s front, strong hands gripping Yoongi’s thighs securely.

 

He wasn’t sure how long it had been when he heard an amused voice. “You falling asleep on me, hyung?”

 

Yoongi made a little sound of disagreement. “No. M’awake,” he muttered. He opened his eyes to see the lights of the house up ahead. The others must already be inside.

 

“You haven’t been sleeping much, huh?” Jungkook asked.

 

“Had work to do,” Yoongi mumbled.

 

“Right...” Jungkook sounded unconvinced. “Did you know that humans actually need sleep? That they can’t survive on caffeine alone?”

 

“Psh, sleep is a myth.”

 

There you are!” Came a voice. It was Taehyung, standing in the doorway. “Hey guys, they’re back now!” He yelled over his shoulder, into the house. “I was coming to see what was taking you so long,” he said, frowning as he turned back to them, “I thought maybe you got eaten by a bear.”

 

“There’s no bears around here,” Jungkook said.

 

“Well, a wolf then.”

 

“There’s no--”

 

“I was worried! And how come Yoongi hyung gets a lift up the hill, hm?” He asked, eyeing them. “Any particular reason?”

 

“Because he’s lighter than you,” Jungkook retorted.

 

“Are you saying I’m fat?” Taehyung gasped in outrage, pulling the door open wider to let them through.

 

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” Yoongi could practically hear Jungkook’s eye roll. “Hey, I know... maybe you should come to the gym with me again!"

 

Taehyung sputtered. “No way! I don’t want to be a scary muscle pig like you!”

 

Yoongi poked Jungkook’s side. “Hey, take that back. Taehyungie’s perfect just the way he is.”

 

Taehyung let out a little squeal. “Aw, Yoongi hyung! You’re so nice when you’re drunk.”

 

“M’not drunk...” Yoongi protested. “I’m just--” he stopped when he realized where Jungkook was heading. “Kook-ah, put me down!” He demanded. “You can’t carry me up the stairs.”

 

“Can too.”

 

“What if you drop me?”

 

“I won’t drop you.”

 

“You might,” Yoongi muttered. Though he had to admit, Jungkook’s grip on him still felt completely secure.

 

“Hyung, I promise, I won’t drop you.”

 

They were nearly at the top now, and since Yoongi couldn’t argue, he just grumbled, under his breath. “So unnecessary...”

 

Jungkook turned to head down the hall. He stopped in front of Yoongi’s door, at which point Yoongi expected to be dropped unceremoniously to the floor.

 

But Jungkook was surprisingly gentle as he lowered Yoongi back down to the ground--as if he expected Yoongi might fall over at any moment (realistically, it wasn’t entirely out of the question).

 

“There,” he said, sounding satisfied. “Now you’re like, ten steps from your bed, max. Think you can make it, hyung?” He teased. His eyes were bright--probably excited he’d gotten to show off all that impressive alpha strength. (Not that it was... well. Yeah. Alright. It was pretty impressive. The kid was barely even out of breath, what the hell.)

 

“Yes, thank you very much,” Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Brat.”

 

“Hey, is that any way to speak to me after I just carried you all the way up here?”

 

“I could have walked.”

 

“You were asleep, hyung.”

 

“No, I wasn’t!”

 

“What were you doing, then? Meditating?”

 

“Yah! I closed my eyes for a second--”

 

“--more like fifteen minutes.”

 

Fifteen... ?! You said we were almost there!”

 

“Well, you would have realized that wasn’t true if you’d been awake,” Jungkook replied, smugly.

 

“I... shut up,” was all Yoongi could manage in response to that. "I was... I just. Lost track of time."

 

There was a pause, in which he could quite stop himself from yawning widely. Jungkook gave him a knowing look.

 

“Go to bed, hyung,” he said, giving Yoongi a little push.

 

“Mm... I’m going,” he turned, pushing open the door, realizing after a second that Jungkook was still standing there. “Oh... night, Jungkookie,” he mumbled, muffling another yawn.

 

He watched as Jungkook’s mouth curved into a little smile. Yoongi didn’t call him that very often--though the others did, all the time.

 

“Night, Yoongi hyung. Sleep well.”

 

“You too.”

 

Yoongi pulled the door closed behind him, stumbling the final few steps towards the bed and collapsing onto gratefully, closing his eyes.

 

*

 

When he woke again, everything was dark and quiet. It took Yoongi a few, fuzzy moments to realize he was still on top the covers, fully dressed. He’d apparently kicked his shoes off, but that was it.

 

He rolled over, curling onto his side and tucking his hands between his knees, only thinking of going back to sleep.

 

After an indeterminate amount of time had passed, and he was still wide awake, he fumbled in his pocket for his phone. It was just gone four AM. Yoongi groaned softly.

 

His mouth felt dry, and, deciding maybe he needed a drink, he reluctantly rolled out of the bed, stumbling a little as his feet hit the floor.

 

Trying to find his way to the kitchen in the dark, unfamiliar house with only the torch on his phone was more than a little difficult--though it got a bit easier once he reached the bottom of the stairs, the moonlight streaming in through the large windows casting a soft glow over his surroundings.

 

He found the kitchen, remembering it from earlier that day when Jungkook had shown them around, and searched through a couple of the cupboards until he found a glass, running it under the tap.

 

He headed back through the living room. There were signs the rest of them had been there--the moonlight illuminating empty cups and a couple of half eaten bags of chips on the coffee table, shoes littering the floor, jackets and sweaters draped over the backs of the sofas.

 

He paused, eyes falling on the black hoodie resting over the arm of the sofa nearest to him. Not that he could see properly in this light, but it didn’t take more than a tiny sniff to tell him it was Jungkook’s-- the one he’d been wearing earlier. Before he’d fully processed the sudden urge, Yoongi found himself reaching out and grabbing it.

 

What the hell.

 

He blinked down at the hoodie in his hands for a moment. Why had he done that?

 

God... it did smell good, though. And Jungkook probably wouldn’t even miss it--he must have at least ten just like this one.

 

He’d give it back tomorrow, he thought, as he made his way back upstairs to his room, kicking off his jeans and climbing under the covers. He curled up on his side again, eyes fluttering closed as he cuddled the hoodie close, burying his nose in the fabric and breathing in deeply.

 

He was asleep within moments.

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi stared out at the countryside flashing by outside the window of the bus, nothing but a dark blur of indistinguishable shapes.

 

He looked away with a sigh, rubbing his eyes and reaching into his pocket for his phone to check the time. It was nearly three o’clock in the morning now.

 

He leant back against his seat, wishing he could get some sleep. He knew he wouldn’t have much of a chance when he arrived. As soon as he found a hostel he needed to get out and starting looking for a job.

 

But though his eyelids felt heavy, he knew it was a lost cause.

 

The night hadn’t gone at all how he’d planned.

 

He should have been midway through his night shift at the supermarket by now. Instead, he was on an intercity bus to Seoul.

 

After he’d left Junyoung’s, the half formed plan already in his mind, Yoongi had gone home--well, back to his parents, anyway--to get the rest of his stuff. Or at least, as much of it as he could fit into a suitcase.

 

He was nearly done when his mother had appeared in the doorway. She was dressed in her nightgown, robe wrapped around her. He could feel her eyes on him as she continued shoving things into the suitcase.

 

“Yoongi-yah... what are you doing?”

 

“Packing.”

 

“For what? Where are you going?”

 

Yoongi shook his head, refusing to look at her.

 

“Will you... will you please at least tell me where you’ve been all this time?”

 

After a few days, when the anger had died down and the guilt had set in, Yoongi had texted his mother to let her know he was safe, and staying with a friend (so much for that). He’d refused to tell her where, though.

 

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not staying there anymore.”

 

“What do you mean?” Though he didn’t look up at her, Yoongi could hear the frown in her voice.

 

“I’m leaving for Seoul.”

 

There was a silence.

 

“You’re... what? No... no, Yoongi-yah, what are you talking about? You... you can’t do that,” she tried. He couldn’t help but think, though, she didn’t sound entirely convinced.

 

“Well, tough,” he said, shortly, “because I’m going.”

 

“But.. why?” His mother asked.

 

Because I’ve got nowhere else left to go, he thought. Then was abruptly horrified when he felt tears springing to his eyes.

 

He blinked them back, furiously. “Where else am I gonna go?” He muttered, hating the way his voice cracked slightly on the words.

 

“You could stay here.” There was a faint note of pleading in her tone.

 

Finally, Yoongi turned to look at her. She looked... tired, somehow older than he remembered--though it had only been a month since he’d last seen her--her face drawn, lines creasing her forehead.

 

“Please,” she whispered, “please... just stay. Just come home.”

 

He felt sharp pang of guilt, chest tightening. “What about the suppressants?”

 

There was another silence. “Yoongi-yah...” his mother hesitated, looking torn.

 

“You know they made me sick,” Yoongi whispered. “Don’t... don’t you care? Or is not having an omega son all that matters to you?”

 

The guilt intensified painfully when he saw tears in his mother’s eyes. “How... how can you say that?” She whispered. “Of course I care. Your father and I, we just... we just want you to be happy. And I know you, Yoongi-yah. Settling down and bonding young, like your cousins? You wouldn’t be happy with that kind of life. And we don’t want that for you, either.”

 

He shook his head. “Eomma, I don’t have to live the same kind of life as Eunji and Sungmi, just because I’m an omega.”

 

“But...”

 

“But what? Who’s going to stop me?”

 

His mother was shaking her head now, looking deeply troubled. Almost anxious. “Yoongi-yah, that’s--that’s not...”

 

And suddenly, Yoongi understood.


Understood what would be the one thing which might--at least, in his parents’ eyes--bring them even more shame than having an omega for a son.

 

Yoongi blew out a breath. “So that’s it, is it? I pretend to be a beta, or... or bond with an alpha, start having kids barely out of high school?”

 

They both turned at the sound of rapid footsteps down the hall.

 

“You will do no such thing!” His father appeared in the doorway, looking furious.

 

“We agreed I’d talk to him--” his mother started, voice low.

 

His father was shaking his head. “I’ve heard enough. Listen to me, Yoongi-yah, if you think for one second--”

 

Yoongi cut in. “You think that’s what I want?” He asked, incredulously, “to go out and get knocked up by some alpha?”

 

“Your biology--” his father started.

 

Fuck my biology!” Yoongi snapped. “It--it doesn’t matter. I’m still a fucking person. You don’t get to tell me what I want. No one does.”

 

His father snorted. “You think it’s that easy? You think you can just say it doesn’t matter, and the world will listen? You act like we’re the ones trying to make this hard for you, Yoongi-yah, but we’re not. We’re just trying to give you another option. So you can live up to your potential--”

 

Yoongi laughed, bitterly. “Would you just give it up, already?”

 

His father sputtered. “What--what are you talking about?”

 

“Your perfect little beta son who goes out and gets a degree and becomes a... a doctor, an accountant, a lawyer, whatever--”

 

“You could still--”

 

No, I couldn’t. I don’t want that. And I don’t want what Eunji and Sungmi have, either. But those... those aren’t my only options.”

 

As he spoke, a not entirely welcome realization began to dawn on him.

 

He’d always wondered what had happened with Hojun, the great uncle he’d never met, the only other male omega in the family. Now, he realized that maybe, just maybe, it had gone a little something like this. That maybe he’d had the audacity to take a look at the hand he’d been dealt in life and say, hey, you know what. No thanks.

 

And now... the only time anyone in their family ever spoke about him it was with hushed whispers and pinched, disapproving faces.

 

There was an uncomfortable silence. Yoongi swallowed, struggling to keep his composure as he lifted the suitcase from the bed and headed for the door, keeping his eyes cast down as he passed them.

 

“Yoongi-yah...” his mother started.

 

His father put a hand on her shoulder, shaking his head, slowly. “Let him go,” he said, quietly.

 

Yoongi didn’t quite catch his mother’s murmured response, already halfway down the hall. But he heard his father’s reply loud and clear.

 

“He’ll find out soon enough, what the world’s really like.”

 

Yoongi stopped at the foot of the stairs, turning back to them. “Is that... is that really what you want?” He half whispered. “For me to fail? To... to come crawling back here?”

 

“No, Yoongi-yah. That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you. We want you to succeed. You’re the one who insists on making it impossible for yourself.”

 

“You’re wrong,” Yoongi shook his head. “You say I don’t know what the world’s really like, but neither do you. You’ve lived here your entire life.”

 

“I know enough to--”

 

“No. You don’t.”

 

And neither do I. But I... I have to find out for myself.

 

He didn’t wait for his father’s reply. He’d heard enough.

 

The bus terminal was nearly deserted when he arrived, and he waited on the cold, hard bench until he heard the service to Seoul announced.

 

He’d gotten up to join the queue--if you could call it that, there were only three other people in it--when he heard a voice.

 

“Yoongi-yah! Oh, there you are.”

 

He turned to see his mother rushing towards him. She was out of breath, her hair falling from its clip, and she’d clearly dressed hurriedly.

 

Against his better judgment, Yoongi felt something like hope flutter in his chest.

 

Then he saw the money.

 

She reached for his hand, pressing the notes into it. “Take this.”

 

Yoongi’s heart sank, disappointment seizing painfully at his chest. At his parents--and at himself, for being so stupid as to think even for a second that they’d change their minds.

 

“... Thank you,” he managed to force the words out through the tightness in his throat.

 

Last call for the 1.10AM intercity service to Seoul!”

 

They both jumped as the announcement crackled loudly through the near silence of the terminal.

 

“I... I have to go.”

 

She nodded. “I know. I...” she hesitated, “please, just--look after yourself, okay?”

 

All Yoongi could do was nod, stiffly.

 

“Yoongi-yah, I...” Yoongi turned back, hating some tiny part of him was still waiting for her to tell him that they really had changed their minds--or they would, if he’d just come home. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

 

He had to turn away then--worried that if he replied, if he looked at her for even one more second, he’d wouldn’t be able to hold back the tears he could feel pricking at the corner of his eyes-- and not wanting, even now, to upset her. At least, not any more than he already had.

 

His vision blurred a little as the driver checked his ticket, and he stepped on board, making his way to the back of the bus, tucking himself into the corner seat, blinking back the tears which were threatening to spill over.

 

He had to pull himself together.

 

The doors swung shut with clatter that sounded loud to Yoongi’s ears, even from way back here.

 

As the bus pulled away, he couldn’t stop himself from turning to glance out the window to see if he could see his mother one final time.

 

He craned his neck, searching the harshly lit terminal, the dim glow under the streetlamps on the darkened sidewalk outside. But if she was there, he couldn’t see her--couldn’t find her in time, before the bus rounded the corner.

 

He turned back to face the front, realizing a moment later he was digging his nails into his palm. He blinked, hard, swiping roughly at his eyes with his sleeve.

 

Did I really do the right thing?

 

Yes, he told himself. Yes. You had to. You had to leave. There was no other option.

 

Or, rather... there were only two options. And those can’t be your only two options.

 

They just... they can’t be.

 

With a final sniff, Yoongi pulled out his phone, typing job sites seoul into the search bar and tapping go.

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi woke slowly. For several, long moments all he was aware of was the warmth of the blankets and a comforting scent surrounding him. He rolled over, snuggling deeper under the covers, burying his face into something soft, the scent immediately intensifying. He made a satisfied little sound, a half formed word leaving his lips.

 

He stilled.

 

Slowly, he opened his eyes and lifted his head, staring down at the item of clothing in his arms as his little late night excursion came rushing back to him with sudden clarity.

 

Oh, fuck.

 

Jungkook’s hoodie.

 

He’d... oh, god. He’d really... really taken it upstairs with him--slept with it, all night. Why had he--

 

He jumped, startled, at the sound of a knock on the door.

 

“Yoongi-yah?” It was Jin’s voice.

 

“Yeah?” Yoongi called, frantically stuffing the hoodie under the covers. “Come in.”

 

Jin poked his head around the door. “Just came to see if you were awake yet. It’s nearly half ten.”

 

Yoongi shrugged, trying his best to seem casual. “Hardly my record. Or yours.”

 

Jin laughed. “True. But we didn’t come here for you to sleep all day. Places to go, and all that. We were all thinking of going to grab lunch, and then--” He stepped inside the room as he spoke. And then stopped. Yoongi watched in growing horror his nose twitched, brows knitting together in confusion. “What’s--has... has Jungkookie been in here?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No...” he frowned, trying to look as if he had no idea what Jin was talking about. Hopefully he’d just think he was imagining things.

 

“Then why does it--” Jin’s eyes widened, and Yoongi followed his gaze to--oh, shit. The sleeve of Jungkook’s hoodie was poking out from under the covers. “What’s that?”

 

Belatedly, Yoongi pulled the edge of the blanket over it. “Nothing.”

 

“Is... is that Jungkook-ah’s?”

 

There was a silence. Finally, Yoongi huffed. “It might be,” he muttered, refusing to meet Jin’s gaze.

 

“Yoongi-yah...”

 

Yoongi looked back up at him, reluctantly. He had his arms crossed over his chest, but his expression held nothing but concern. “What’s going on, Yoongi-yah?”

 

“Nothing, hyung. It’s nothing, honestly.”

 

“Is there something going on between you two--”

 

“No!”

 

“--because you know you could tell us, if there was--”

 

No,” Yoongi insisted. “No, it’s--it’s nothing like that. There’s nothing going on.” He ignored the way the words made something in his stomach twist unhappily.

 

“Right... right,” Jin frowned. “I mean, I did think that would be a little... I mean, you’ve never-- but then, I guess he’s... well. Hm.”

 

What?” Yoongi asked, utterly confused.

 

“I’m just saying...” Jin continued, voice softer now, “that it would be alright, you know, if you... if you had feelings for him.”

 

“I don’t,” Yoongi cut in, quickly.

 

“Then why are you--”

 

“I don’t know!” Yoongi winced when it came out as practically a shout. “Fuck,” he muttered, scrubbing at his face with his hands. “Fuck. Sorry.”

 

He felt the bed dip as Jin came to sit beside him. “Oh, Yoongi-yah,” he murmured. Yoongi felt an arm settle around his shoulders. Yoongi let out a breath, shoulders slumping as he leant into Jin’s side.

 

“Do you... d’you want me to tell the others you’re not feeling well?” Jin asked.

 

Yoongi sighed, shaking his head slightly. “No... no. It’s fine. I’m fine.” It didn’t sound entirely convincing, even to his own ears.

 

Thankfully, Jin didn’t call him on it. “Well... alright, then,” was all he said. “So... I’ll go tell them you’ll be ready in... what? Twenty minutes?”

 

“Ah... make it thirty.” He really needed some time to pull himself together. “Thanks,” he added, quietly.

 

“No problem,” Jin gave his shoulder a little squeeze, before standing, heading for the door.

 

“Hey... wait.” Jin turned. “Don’t... don’t say anything to the others, alright? I mean--not... not any of them. Especially Tae.”

 

“Of course not,” Jin said. “Though...”

 

“What?” Yoongi asked, warily.

 

“You might want to take a shower before you come downstairs,” Jin murmured.

 

“Oh... right,” Yoongi mumbled, “yeah. I will.”

 

“And if you have any aftershave or perfume with you, I’d use it.”

 

Yoongi felt himself flush. “Got it.”

 

The door clicked quietly shut, and Yoongi flopped back against the mattress with a groan, wincing when the force of the movement aggravated the dull headache that had settled around his temples, more noticeable now than when he’d woken.

 

He rolled to the side of the bed, leaning over to gulp down the remainder of the water from the glass he’d brought up last night--along, of course, with the current source of his troubles, which was still hidden under the blankets.

 

After a few minutes, he finally managed to drag himself out of bed, pulling on jeans and a sweater and heading out onto the balcony. He yawned widely, rubbing at his aching temples, letting the cool, crisp morning air gradually clear his head.

 

He watched the light breeze ruffling the leaves of trees, gently rippling the water of the pond, just visible from here, along with the beginning of the driveway. He craned his neck slightly to see it better, and in doing so noticed an all too familiar figure in the distance.

 

It was Jungkook, dressed in a loose fitting white t-shirt and shorts. Just finishing up a morning run, by the looks of it. Yoongi knew that he preferred working out at the gym, but his grandfather apparently hadn’t felt the same, as there wasn’t one in the house--not that Yoongi would know, the place had so many rooms, but Jungkook had been complaining about it the previous day.

 

He watched as Jungkook jogged closer, coming to a stop and stretching before dropping to the ground, and... okay. Right. He was doing push ups. Of course. Yoongi glanced up at the skies overhead, as if to say are you fucking kidding me right now.

 

When Jungkook began doing some sort of ridiculous and surely completely unnecessary (but nonetheless, he had to admit, grudgingly, somewhat impressive) thing which involved him clapping between each push up, Yoongi turned and went back inside.

 

He really wasn’t that much of a masochist.

 

 

*

 

 

By the time Yoongi made it downstairs, the day’s activities had already been decided.

 

They headed into town for lunch, to a sushi place which had recently opened and, according to the app Jin had been consulting, had great reviews. After that, the plan was to continue down the coast to check out a few of the sights, including one of the area’s main attractions, a historic temple Namjoon had been particularly interested in when Jungkook had mentioned it at dinner the previous night.

 

At lunch, Yoongi seated himself at the other end of the table from Jungkook, studiously ignoring Jin, who he could see watching him out of the corner of his eye.

 

He knew he couldn’t avoid the kid forever, but... well. It was just. The thing was--

 

The thing was...

 

The thing was, what he’d told Jin earlier hadn’t quite been the truth. And he knew that.

 

He knew he couldn’t pretend to himself any longer that what he felt for Jungkook was just friendship. Or even just attraction.

 

Without his permission, his eyes found the alpha, who was fully absorbed in piling his plate high with various things from the dishes they’d all ordered to share. As Yoongi watched, he looked up, laughing at something Jimin had just said, eyes bright, crinkling in amusement, before turning back to his food.

 

Just as he’d taken a bite, the waitress appeared at his elbow, asking how everything was. Jungkook looked up, eyes wide, obviously slightly caught off guard, nodding as he mumbled through a mouthful of food that it was delicious, thank you.

 

Yoongi looked away, something soft and fond, and entirely too affectionate, curling in his chest.

 

And what was even worse was that there was absolutely nothing new about it--the way he felt when he looked at Jungkook.

 

Shit. Shit.

 

How had this happened? How had he not noticed it before?

 

He thought of how he’d felt, this morning, when he’d told Jin there was nothing going on between them. The way that the words had felt, somehow, wrong.

 

Did he... did he want there to be something going on?

 

No. No, he didn’t. Did he?

 

Besides, he was missing the most important point. Which was that Jungkook had never shown any sign that he thought of Yoongi as anything more than a friend.

 

The more Yoongi had gotten to known him, the more ridiculous, even downright amusing, he’d found all the chatter and gossip about Jungkook that had been buzzing about the campus at the beginning the year. It hadn’t taken him long to figure out at that the vast majority of the stories he’d heard were complete bullshit.

 

But some of them... well, some of them weren’t. And those ones, Yoongi found far less amusing (in fact, he tried his hardest not to listen to them).

 

It seemed pretty clear, though, that anything even remotely resembling a relationship was just about the last thing on Jungkook’s mind. And Yoongi couldn’t hold that against him. If Jungkook wanted to mess around, take advantage of all the people throwing themselves at him... well, that was understandable. He was young.

 

And that was just fine. Because Yoongi didn’t want a relationship, either. And the idea of a relationship with an alpha, of all things... well. That was an idea he’d discarded a long time ago.

 

So maybe... maybe nothing really has to change, he thought, with some relief. Maybe everything could carry on, just as it was.

 

And this crush, infatuation, whatever it was--well, he’d get over it, in time.

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi stared out across the water into the distance, listening to the sound of the waves gently lapping over the rocks below. The sun had seen fit to emerge for the first time since they’d arrived, glancing off the deep gray-blue of the sea.

 

The temple, nestled into the rocky hillside of the coastline, dated back to the thirteenth century, Yoongi knew that much--as for the rest, Namjoon was the only one who had stopped to read all the information as they’d been walking around, the others more interested in the scenery, or in taking pictures.

 

After trailing behind them for a little bit, he’d wandered off alone, eventually finding himself on a bridge overlooking the ocean. There was hardly anyone else around--though the place was a popular tourist spot, it was well into the off season--and it was quiet. Peaceful.

 

He was lost in contemplation when a voice jolted him back to reality.

 

“Hey, hyung.”

 

“Hey, Joon-ah,” Yoongi said, giving Namjoon a little nod as he came to stand beside Yoongi, admiring the view.

 

They stayed like that for a while, in companionable silence. It was one of the things Yoongi appreciated about spending time with Namjoon--that neither of them felt compelled to fill every lull in the conversation with chatter. After years of knowing each other, there was no need to.

 

Namjoon took out his phone to snap a few pictures before pocketing it again. “You’ve been quiet today,” he commented.

 

It didn’t sound like a question, merely a statement. “Mm,” Yoongi replied.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Namjoon glance at him. But all he said was, “It’s beautiful here, huh?”

 

“Yeah. It is.”

 

“I’m so glad we got the chance to come. I mean, we’ve certainly been talking about taking a trip like this for long enough...”

 

They were both distracted momentarily as the sound of laughter reached them, and they looked over to see the others in the distance, on a stone outcropping higher up, on the other side of the bridge.

 

Jungkook was near the edge with his camera, though it looked like he was filming rather than taking pictures. Taehyung and Jimin kept getting in his way, dancing around, evidently highly amused by what looked like his increasing irritation. Hoseok and Jin were a few meters away, taking turns snapping pictures of each other in front of one of the temple’s main structures.

 

“I’m just... I’m happy we could all be here together,” Namjoon finished.

 

“Me too,” Yoongi said, meaning it. Whatever the hell was going on with him right now notwithstanding, he was still glad he’d come. Happy to see everyone together, enjoying themselves.

 

As they watched, Jin stomped over to Taehyung, who’d gotten too close to the edge without noticing--neither had Jimin and Jungkook, still squabbling--and dragging him backwards.

 

They heard Taehyung shout something about Jin saving his life (though the edge was, in fact, fenced off) and the next moment Jin was protesting, trying to extract himself from Taehyung, who had enthusiastically latched onto him in apparent gratitude.

 

Yoongi snorted. “Even if they’re all idiots.”

 

Namjoon laughed. “Yeah... but-- they’re our idiots, right?”

 

Yoongi felt a little smile tug at the corner of his lips. “Right.”

 

“I’m gonna go join them,” Namjoon said, after a moment, shrugging one shoulder in the direction of the others. “You coming?”

 

“I’ll be there in a bit. You go, make sure they don’t... I don’t know, fall off the edge of the cliff or something.” He couldn’t help but notice that Jimin and Jungkook--who seemed to be trying to get a better shot--had gotten quite close now.

 

Namjoon grinned. “Will do.”

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi was doing his best to focus on the movie.

 

But despite his best efforts, he was all too aware of Jungkook’s presence beside him, legs propped up on the coffee table, a bowl of popcorn in his lap. The sound of his loud chewing really should have gotten on Yoongi’s nerves--but it didn’t. (Which was somehow even more annoying.)

 

It had been more or less of a consensus that they’d stay in the second night, rather than heading into the town again. The house actually had a cinema room with a projector--but Jungkook had told them, apologetically, that it hadn’t worked in a few years. Not that any of them minded--the television in the main living room wasn’t exactly small by anyone’s standards. And Yoongi was used to watching Netflix on his fifteen inch laptop screen.

 

He’d settled himself under a blanket in the corner of one of the couches--stifling a deep sigh when, less than ten seconds later, Jungkook had sat down right next to him.

 

He was hardly going to tell Jungkook to move. What would he say-- hey, so, would you mind keeping your distance from me for a bit, while I come to terms with the fact I’ve apparently developed a huge fucking crush on you?

 

Yeah, right. Not a chance.

 

Besides, things had to get back to normal, sooner or later.


Taehyung was sitting on the floor in front of them--there was more than enough space on the sofa, but he’d amassed a collection of pillows and blankets around himself and looked pretty comfortable-- and Yoongi watched out of the corner of his eye as he turned to reach for Jungkook’s popcorn for the umpteenth time, Jungkook slapping his hand away.

 

“Eat your own,” he hissed.

 

“I finished it,” Taehyung whispered back, shaking the bag with a sad expression.

 

Jungkook huffed. “Not my fault.”

 

But a moment later, he’d leant forward, holding the bowl in front of Taehyung’s face. Taehyung grabbed a handful, shoving it into his mouth, eyes fixed on the screen.

 

Yoongi attempted to do the same, though the film wasn’t really holding his attention. It wouldn’t have been his first choice at all--but he’d quickly shut up once he’d realized he was the deciding vote between this and the one Jungkook and Jimin had been keen on, which Jimin had insisted was a mystery thriller, but which looked to him suspiciously like a horror movie.

 

He watched as the hero chased through the crowded airport, trying and failing to reach the heroine before she boarded her flight. It was all quite needlessly dramatic, Yoongi thought. Why couldn’t he just call her after she’d landed?

 

“This is stupid,” he muttered, as the heroine got up from her seat on the plane, and, apropos of nothing, began running back towards the terminal, “how would she have known he was there?”

 

“Hyung, don’t you know what that means?” Taehyung whispered. He was still stuffing popcorn into his mouth without taking his eyes off the screen. (Yoongi couldn’t help but notice that Jungkook seemed equally as absorbed, though he’d been pushing for the other film).

 

“That there’s an enormous plot hole?”

 

Taehyung shook his head. “No. It means they’re soulmates.”

 

“What?”

 

“That’s how she knew he was there!”

 

Shh!” Jimin hissed at them, from the armchair he was sharing with Namjoon. Despite his initial protests, he too seemed thoroughly engrossed in the film. Apparently, Yoongi was the only one who found it ridiculous.

 

“Oh, and I suppose that’s why he’s just standing there, even though he thinks her flight’s left?”  He asked, though he lowered his voice this time.

 

“Yes, exactly,” Taehyung nodded, “he’s waiting for her.”

 

They watched as the couple finally found each other, embracing passionately. Jimin made an irritated noise as someone’s phone began vibrating loudly where it sat on the coffee table.

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook murmured, reaching for it.

 

“It must be pretty amazing to have a soulmate,” Taehyung said, contemplatively.

 

From the other side of the couch, Jin scoffed. “You do realize they don’t really exist, right?”

 

Taehyung opened his mouth to respond, but Jimin got there first. “Guys, seriously, shut the fuck up!” He whisper shouted. “I can’t hear what they’re saying!”

 

They all went quiet. It was easy to forget sometimes, but Jimin was surprisingly scary when he got mad. Perhaps it was the contrast with his usual sweet demeanor. (It didn’t hurt that he also had a black belt in Taekwondo, which he’d practised for years, through to his mid teens, before giving it up to pursue dance--or, at least, that was what he told people. But Yoongi knew how he’d ended up presenting had been a significant factor, too. There weren’t too many omegas in the martial arts world.)

 

Once the film was over, the end credits rolling on the screen, Taehyung turned back to Jin. “I think they do.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Soulmates. I think they do exist.”

 

Jin was shaking his head. “It’s an old wives’ tale. I mean, have you ever heard of it happening to anyone you know in real life?”

 

“Actually...” it was Jimin who spoke up this time, “my aunt knew someone who met their soulmate. Or, well... her friend knew someone. I can’t remember which.”

 

Jin looked decidedly unimpressed. “It’s funny how many people have stories like that, but it’s always a friend of a friend... of a friend. Never anyone they actually know.”

 

“Well, as far as I know, it really happened. People used to talk about it all the time in my town. Apparently they met in line at the grocery store.”

 

“And what happened to them after that?” Taehyung asked, with interest.

 

Jimin pursed his lips. “I don’t know,” he admitted, “they moved away not long after they met.”

 

Jungkook raised an eyebrow. “No offense, hyung, but that doesn’t really sound all that believable.”

 

“Well, it’s true,” Jimin insisted.

 

“I’m not saying it isn’t, but you have to admit--” Jungkook paused as his phone buzzed again, glancing down before tapping the screen, presumably canceling the call.

 

“Joonie heard about it, too, when he visited me last Christmas,” Jimin continued, “remember, babe?”

 

Namjoon nodded. “Yeah, I remember.”

 

Jin rolled his eyes. “Joon-ah, you can’t tell me you think that story sounds even remotely legit.”

 

Namjoon shrugged. “I dunno. It could be. I mean, maybe it isn’t like it is in the movies, but... still. You never know, right? Who are we to say for certain?”

 

“Yeah, exactly,” Jimin said, “just because you’ve never heard of it happening, doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t real.”

 

“Well, you could say that about a lot of things,” Jin argued, “I mean, I’ve never seen a dragon, but I’m still pretty sure they aren’t real, either.”

 

“That’s a stupid example--”

 

“No, it’s not. It’s the same exact--”

 

“Aish, shut up, both of you,” Hoseok complained. “We don’t want to listen to you argue all night. Let’s watch another movie or something.”

 

Jimin settled back against Namjoon with a huff.

 

The intermittent buzzing of Jungkook’s phone seemed louder in the ensuing silence. They all looked at him, but he made no move towards it.

 

“Seems like someone really wants to talk to you,” Namjoon commented.

 

“Mm,” Jungkook murmured, noncommittally.

 

“Who is it?”

 

Jungkook’s shrug was a little too casual. “No one.”

 

Yoongi winced at the all-too-obvious evasiveness. It was pretty much the worst way he could’ve responded--now the others had all perked up, looking interested.

 

The phone buzzed again where it lay on the couch. Without looking at it, Jungkook grabbed it and shoved it in the pocket of his hoodie.

 

Jimin giggled. “Jungkookie’s getting a booty call.”

 

“Shut up,” Jungkook muttered.

 

“Oh, is that what it is?” Namjoon asked.

 

“Well, who else would be so desperate to get hold of him at... hm, nearly eleven on a Sunday night?”

 

Jungkook didn’t reply, though Yoongi couldn’t help but notice he didn’t attempt to deny it.

 

Jimin cackled. “I knew it. Who is it, Kook-ah? Is it that girl from--”

 

“Jiminie...” Taehyung started.

 

“--or the other one, the one with the--”

 

“Hyung, shut up!” Jungkook interrupted.

 

The faint note of desperation in his tone made Yoongi glance at him, noticing as he did that tips of his ears had gone red. He frowned, wondering why Jungkook seemed so embarrassed all of a sudden. They were all more than aware of what he got up to. Hell, the whole campus was aware.

 

“Alright,” Jimin murmured. “Calm down, I was just asking.”

 

“Well, it’s no one,” Jungkook insisted. “It’s not important.”

 

Hoseok snorted. “Evidently, seeing as you’ve been ignoring them for the past... what, forty minutes?”

 

“Yeah, they’re persistent, you’ve got to give them that,” Namjoon chimed in. “You would’ve thought they’d have given up by now.”

 

Jungkook simply shrugged in reply--but it was impossible to miss the slightly guilty expression which flashed across his face, or the way he shifted on the couch, reaching up to scratch his ear (or... maybe Yoongi was the only one who’d noticed that particular tell).

 

“Oh my god, is it more than one person?”

 

Jungkook buried his face in his hands, letting out a little groan.

 

“Guys, leave him alone,” Yoongi murmured.

 

That made Jungkook look at him, eyes traveling over Yoongi’s face for a long moment. Yoongi gave him a tentative smile, slightly confused. Jungkook smiled back, if a bit weakly. “Thanks, hyung,” he mumbled.

 

Yoongi gave a little shrug, as if to say no problem.

 

“So...” Namjoon said, after a pause, “should we watch the other movie? It’s still early.”

 

Jimin perked up. “Yeah, let’s watch that one!”


This time, it was Yoongi who stifled a groan.

 

Taehyung glanced up at him. “Hyungie doesn’t like scary movies...” he murmured.

 

They all looked to Yoongi, apparently for a final decision. He sighed, shaking his head. “It’s alright. We can watch it. I don’t mind.”

 

 

*

 

 

A hour or so later, however, he found himself wishing that he hadn’t been quite so agreeable.

 

Taehyung hadn’t been wrong. He didn’t like scary movies.

 

Not to say he couldn’t watch them, he’d just... rather not. (And especially not with all the lights turned out, on an unnecessarily huge screen).

 

His fingers curled tightly around the blanket in his lap as the main character--a pretty omega, of course--searched through her darkened house after hearing a strange noise (why couldn’t she just turn the lights on, for god’s sake? Or better yet, get the hell out of there.)

 

He fought the urge to hide his face as she headed for the basement, the music beginning to build ominously as the camera steadily closed in on her back. He jolted slightly as she turned, suddenly, to find... nothing behind her.

 

Yoongi blew out a slow breath as his heart gradually returned to its normal pace.

 

There was a quiet, amused sound to his left. He looked over to find Jungkook watching him. Dammit. He’d thought no one had noticed--the one advantage to all the lights being out.

 

“You alright, hyung?”

 

“Great,” Yoongi mumbled.

 

Jungkook’s eyes dropped to where Yoongi abruptly realized he was still clutching the blanket. He relaxed his grip, tucking his hands underneath it instead.

 

“Is that true, what Tae said?” Jungkook murmured, leaning forward slightly to be heard, “you don’t like scary movies?”

 

Yoongi huffed. “It’s not... untrue,” he hedged.

 

“You should’ve just said you didn’t want to watch it.”

 

“It’s fine,” Yoongi muttered.

 

He glanced back up to see Jungkook biting his lip. He appeared to be trying to fight back a smile--he obviously thought this was funny, Yoongi thought, with some annoyance (and perhaps just a little embarrassment, that his discomfort was so obvious).

 

It’s just a movie, he told himself, firmly. It’s not real.

 

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop him from tensing as the eerie music began to build again, or jumping, heart hammering in his chest, as a shape moved in the darkness behind the girl.

 

There was a movement to his left as Jungkook shifted closer, and the next moment Yoongi felt a warm hand covering his beneath the blankets.

 

He turned his head sharply to look at Jungkook, who just grinned. “Don’t worry, hyung,” he whispered, “I’ll protect you.”

 

Yoongi narrowed his eyes. “Shut up.”

 

He couldn’t bring himself to pull his hand away, though.

 

“Okay,” Jungkook murmured, unfazed. He sounded very pleased with himself, Yoongi thought. His eyes were still amused--though there was something else behind the humor, something almost gentle.

 

And, really, that was just Jungkook all over--he could be a little shit, that much was definitely true--but he was soft at heart, and it showed in the way he treated everyone around him.

 

It was... well, it was kind of hopelessly endearing. And, more than that, it filled Yoongi with the surprisingly strong urge to shield him, somehow, from everything bad, or shitty, or unfair about the world. From all the things that might wear him down, harden him at the edges, make him cynical and jaded, like... well--like me, Yoongi thought.

 

Of course, Jungkook was an alpha, so it wasn’t really the same. And maybe Yoongi should feel bitter about that, resent it the way he resented the advantages all alphas had, the very same ones he’d been denied, over and over again.

 

But... he didn’t, felt only a sort of relief, that Jungkook would never experience the world in quite the way that he had.

 

On screen, the girl screamed as someone emerged from the shadows, grabbing her from behind. Yoongi jumped a little, more out of surprise than fear this time, as he hadn’t been paying attention to what had been happening.

 

His heart did something strange in his chest when he felt Jungkook thread their fingers together, giving Yoongi’s hand a little squeeze.

 

Stop it, he told himself, firmly. Calm down. He’s just holding your hand, for fuck’s sake.

 

It’s... it’s nothing. Just an innocent gesture.

 

The rest of the film wasn’t quite so bad. The bad guy turned out to be the omega’s psycho, alpha ex, presumably out for... revenge--or whatever. It was all kind of predictable, really. Not exactly groundbreaking screenwriting.

 

Still, he couldn’t help but shudder slightly as the alpha on screen growled viciously, baring his teeth, as he went for the omega’s neck as she struggled to get away.

 

He had to admit, alphas made pretty good villains.

 

Maybe it was the fact they had actual fucking fangs. Even if, in real life, they weren’t as big as the ones on screen, which were surely prosthetics. In reality, they weren’t fangs, technically speaking--though they were commonly referred to that way--but rather sharp, pointed canines, sheathed in the gums, dropping only in cases of heightened aggression. (Or... for bonding. The thought of that had always made Yoongi shudder.)

 

Or... maybe it was the fact that the scene playing out on screen didn’t exactly sit comfortably within the realm of fiction, at least where Yoongi was concerned.

 

He felt Jungkook squeeze his hand again. Yoongi turned to look at him, struck by the contrast between the frightening, animalistic version of an alpha in front of them, and the one right next to him. There wasn’t even the faintest trace of any of that in Jungkook, he thought, as he studied the alpha’s face, illuminated by the glow of the screen-- the hair falling over his forehead, the strong lines of his features, the sharpness of his jawline softened by his wide, doe-like eyes--which were watching Yoongi in what looked like concern. His earlier amusement seemed to have disappeared.

 

“It’s nearly over now,” he whispered.

 

Yoongi nodded. “I know,” he whispered back. “I’m alright,” he added, when Jungkook continued to watch him with a worried expression. It must have occurred to him that this scene might have particularly hit home for Yoongi, more so than the others--with the possible exception of Jimin. Although, unlike Jimin, Yoongi had never made a secret of his dislike of alphas (even if most people didn’t know half the reasons for it).

 

I don’t think of you that way, you know.

 

The words were on the tip of his tongue.

 

But... no. Jungkook did know that, he was sure. After all, he’d been friends with Namjoon for years. Yoongi glanced to where the alpha in question was hiding his face in a cushion, watching in amusement as Jimin narrated to him in a low whisper what was happening on screen.

 

He knew there were still plenty of people--he’d grown up around a good deal of them--who didn’t think it appropriate for an alpha to show weakness in front of their omega. Or any omega, or anyone, for that matter--except for, possibly, their bonded mate.

 

Namjoon didn’t care about stuff like that. He never had, and Yoongi had always liked that about him, right from the start.

 

Before they’d met, Yoongi could never have imagined being friends with an alpha. Not once he’d stopped passing as a beta, at any rate.

 

Namjoon had turned out to be an exception. And it was the same with Jungkook.

 

Yeah, right, said a wry voice in the back of his head. It’s the same... except, you don’t get butterflies when Namjoon holds your hand. Not to mention the fact that you’ve never stolen an item of clothing from him and then slept cuddled up to it like it was a goddamn teddy bear--

 

Alright, so it wasn’t exactly the same. But it would be.

 

Once he got over this stupid crush.

 

 

*

 

 

There was a warm hand cupping his jaw, lips pressed to his cheek, the heat of a body above his own.

 

“Baby...” came a soft voice, a hand stroking through his hair, “Yoongi-yah...”

 

Yoongi looked up into eyes wide and darkened with lust. “Yes,” he whispered.

 

Lips met his in a searingly hot kiss. The hand in his hair moved to cradle the back of his head, the other slipping between his legs.

 

A name left his lips on a choked off moan. “J--”

 

 

*

 

 

The first thing Yoongi was aware of was the arousal curling in his belly, steady and insistent through the haze of sleep, his hips twitching as he rubbed himself against the soft blankets twisted around him.

 

God, that felt good--so good.

 

Fuck, he thought, groggily, I can’t be... am I--did I go into heat?

 

But... no. No. The bed felt warm and comfortable, the sheets didn’t irritate his skin, and there was no frantic desperation, only irresistibly building pleasure. He muffled a moan into the pillow as his hips continued to work... only, it wasn’t a pillow, it was--

 

Oh... oh, no, he thought, distantly, fuck, I shouldn’t--I should stop--

 

But--but he was so close. He shifted, freeing his right hand from where it was tangled in the blankets, fumbling as he reached behind himself, movements slow and clumsy with sleep. He whimpered softly as he rubbed over his hole with the pad of one finger, sliding it inside at the same time as a startlingly clear image from his dream flashed through his mind.

 

“Oh, f-fuck--” he stuttered, hips jerking as his orgasm hit him hard, turning his head just in time to muffle the sound of the name which slipped from his lips.

 

For a blissful, few moments, there was nothing but white noise, soft waves of pleasure rolling through him as he gradually slowed his movements, melting into the bed.

 

Then he tensed.

 

Oh, shit.

 

He didn’t need to look to know what was tangled in the blankets, to know who he’d been dreaming about. Whose name he’d just said.

 

For the first time in his life, Yoongi found himself wishing that he had, in fact, gone into heat.

 

When he was in heat, fantasising about alphas was--well, normal. Even if they were faceless, the fantasies more or less generic (except... last time). After all, the biological purpose of heats was procreation--and even if that purpose was no longer so important nowadays, what with overpopulation, suppressants and birth control developed to be effective even when knotting was involved, it didn’t change the basic, instinctual urge hardwired into both alphas and omegas.

 

But... he wasn’t in heat now.

 

Fuck. What... what’s happening to me?

 

He rolled over, still a little shaky as he pushed himself into a sitting position, cringing at the feeling of come drying on his belly, the slick between his thighs, uncomfortable now, and only adding to the rapidly growing sense of shame which twisted in his chest.

 

He swallowed, surprised to find his throat feeling tight.

 

Okay... okay. Get a fucking grip. You didn’t mean to... dream that. Or... do that. It’s fine.

 

Or, well, alright... it’s not fine. At all. But it happened. So deal with it.

 

Ugh. He needed a shower. Now. He rolled out of bed, stumbling to the bathroom.

 

Twenty minutes later, after a long, hot shower and change of clothes, he felt a little better. Or, at the very least, more able to pretend that the past half hour or so had never fucking happened.

 

It was still early, the beginnings of pale gray dawn light just creeping in through the blinds. They hadn’t gotten to bed until three the previous night, and he just wanted to go back to sleep.

 

First, though--he grabbed the hoodie, yanking it forcefully out from where it was twisted in the sheets. He shoved it into the bottom drawer of the dresser, trying not to think about the fact there was pretty much no way in hell he’d ever be able to return it to Jungkook now.

 

He sighed, nudging the drawer shut with his foot and heading back to bed.

 

He wasn’t sure how long he lay awake, drifting at the edge of sleep, but not quite able to fall into it, before he sat up, gaze drifting to the dresser, as if drawn there by some invisible force.

 

He shook himself. No. No. That was definitely, absolutely, one hundred percent not happening.

 

With a huff, he rolled out of bed, grabbing his headphones from his bag. He plugged them into his phone, shoving them into his ears and climbing back into bed, curling up underneath the covers. He flipped through to a playlist and turned the volume right up, closing his eyes.

 

 

 

*

 

 

“Hyung... Yoongi hyung...”

 

“Mmph...” Yoongi burrowed deeper under the covers, batting at the hand poking him. “G’way.”

 

“C’mon, hyung, aren’t you ever gonna get up?” It was Tae, his sleep muddled brain supplied, after a moment.

 

“No,” he muttered. “Sleeping.”

 

Suddenly, the covers were pulled away from his face. Yoongi squinted against the sudden, horrible brightness. He made a little irritated sound, trying unsuccessfully to wrestle the blankets back.

 

“Don’t you wanna come out with us?”

 

Yoongi rubbed at his sore eyes. “Where’re you going?”

 

“We’re all going on a hike,” Taehyung told him, brightly. “Jungkookie says there’s a trail near here, which--”

 

Yoongi made a face, scrunching up his nose. “Definitely not.” He really couldn’t think of anything he’d like to do less right now.

 

“Well, you can’t sleep all day.”

 

“Time s’it?” He asked, yawning.

 

“Nine. Just gone.”

 

Yoongi groaned. “Nine? Are you--it’s still early. Go away and let me sleep. Please,” he tugged at the blanket to emphasize his point. Taehyung finally let it go and Yoongi pulled it back over his head.

 

“Didn’t you sleep last night?” He heard Taehyung ask.

 

“No,” Yoongi mumbled.

 

“Oh. Why not?”

 

“Just didn’t.”

 

“Okay...” Taehyung murmured. Yoongi felt a hand patting his head through the blankets.

 

“Night, hyung.”

 

*

 

 

When Yoongi woke again, it was to was sunlight streaming in through the blinds. He sat up, rubbing his eyes, reaching over and grabbing his phone from the nightstand to check the time. It was half twelve. Oops.

 

It was his growling stomach which finally persuaded him it was time to get out of bed. He slowly made his way downstairs, mind firmly on what, if any, food there was for breakfast--or, well, lunch. Jungkook’d had some basic groceries delivered before they’d arrived, and they’d made a detour to the nearest supermarket on their way back yesterday, but between them they’d probably gotten through most of it last night and this morning.

 

“Morning, hyung.”

 

Yoongi jumped, startled, turning to see Jungkook sat on one of the couches with his laptop, one headphone in.

 

“Sleep well?” He prompted, when Yoongi said nothing.

 

Yoongi nodded, slowly. “Uh... yeah.” He frowned, looking around. “Are the others still here? I thought Tae said everyone was going out.”

 

“Yeah, they did. A few hours ago.”

 

“You didn’t want to go?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “I’ve done that hike. Several times. Besides, I’m working on something,” he added, indicating his laptop.

 

Yoongi moved closer, coming to sit on the arm of the couch. “What is it?” He peered at the screen, seeing a program he now recognized as Final Cut Pro open. “It’s another film?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“I thought you were done with that elective?” Yoongi asked, confused.

 

A little smile formed on Jungkook’s face. “Well... I managed to get the final spot in a film production class, next semester. It’s a proper one. Not an elective.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened. “Kook-ah... that’s--that’s great! Why didn’t you say anything?”

 

“Ah, I wasn’t sure if it was gonna work out. Like I said, it was the last spot. Plus, I’m really supposed to have done the foundation level course. But I managed to get a meeting with the head of the department to show him my work from last semester, and I...” Jungkook laughed, sheepishly, “well, I kind of begged him to let me on. He agreed, if I did some extra work to make up for it over the break. There’s a written assignment, too,” he added, making a face, “I haven’t started that yet.”

 

“Well, the break’s only just started. You’ve got plenty of time.”

 

“There’s still a chance they might not let me on, though. Not if I don’t get a good enough grade for all of this.”

 

“You will,” Yoongi said, firmly. “What do you need a foundation course for, anyway? You’re already amazing at it.”

 

He pretended his breath didn’t catch a little in his throat at the sweet smile Jungkook gave him, pleased and a little shy. “Thank you, hyung. You know... ah. You’re the one who kinda made me want to go for it, actually.”

Yoongi blinked. “Me?”

 

“Yeah. I guess you made me see that maybe it was worth pursuing as more than a hobby.”

 

“I... I did? Oh--oh, well... good. I mean... you really are talented.”

 

Jungkook’s smile widened. “Yeah, that’s what I mean.”

 

Yoongi stared at him, feeling a mixture of pride and something else, something warm and affectionate, settling in his chest. Pride that Jungkook was doing something he was obviously so passionate about--and that it seemed as though he’d been the one to encourage it.

 

And as for the other feelings--well. Maybe that had something to do with the way Jungkook was smiling at him, the way he looked--far too soft and touchable, sat cross legged in his hoodie and sweatpants, hair slightly damp, like he’d just recently taken a shower.

 

He felt his cheeks heat up as he recalled his dream the previous night, and... what had happened afterwards. His gaze drifted down to Jungkook’s hands, to where he was twisting the cord of the headphones around his fingers.

 

Stop it!

 

He coughed, guiltily, fairly sure he’d gone bright red. “Ah... have you eaten?”

 

“Kinda... hey, are you okay, hyung?” Jungkook asked, frowning at him.

 

“Mm. Yeah.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Yeah. I’m fine.” Then his eyes narrowed. “Wait, what do you mean, kind of?”

 

“Oh... well, I had a protein shake this morning, but after that, I got kinda distracted...” he gestured at his laptop.

 

Yoongi scoffed. “A protein shake isn’t food. I’ll make us something.”

 

Jungkook followed him into the kitchen. “There’s nothing in the fridge. Maybe we should go out to eat--”

 

Yoongi opened the fridge. He had to admit, it did give the strong impression of being empty. However, he’d encountered a similar sight a great many times when looking in his own fridge at home. And if he’d gone out to eat every time it looked this way-- well. It was safe to say he’d have no money left.


He grabbed the carton of eggs from the back, opening it to see there were still four left. “What are these, then?”

 

Jungkook made a face. “Hyung, I’m actually pretty hungry--”

 

“Yeah, and I said I was going to make us food,” Yoongi said, opening the bread bin to check the loaf they’d bought yesterday was still in there before beginning to search through the cupboards. “This stuff needs using up, anyway. Where do you keep the pans?”

 

“Next one to the right,” Jungkook said from behind him.

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi glanced back at him. “Why don’t you go finish off your work? I’ll call you when it’s ready.”

 

“You don’t want help?”

 

“No, it’s fine. Go on,” he added, when Jungkook just hovered for a moment.

 

Jungkook wasn’t--well, he wasn’t bad, exactly, at cooking. He followed directions well, and he was a fast learner. But it was obvious that he’d never had much cause to have to cook for himself. And though he claimed he was a healthy eater, what that really meant in actuality was that he drank a lot of those disgusting protein shakes and vitamin smoothies in varying unappealing colors. The rest of his diet left something to be desired, in Yoongi’s opinion. (Maybe there really were advantages to not being able to afford takeout every night, after all).

 

He chopped up the ingredients while the bread toasted, whisking it together with the eggs and frying everything up. It wasn’t exactly a healthy recipe, especially since he couldn’t find any vegetables, aside from a lone onion and half a carrot (he’d been pretty sure they’d had more than that, even after dinner last night, but someone must have eaten them this morning. Probably Taehyung--the kid was actually a pretty healthy eater, even if his taste was little odd sometimes) but it was the best he could do with what he had to work with.

 

He plated the sandwiches, adding brown sugar for seasoning--considerably more on Jungkook’s than his own, the kid had a massive sweet tooth--and grabbing the ketchup before heading through the living room.

 

Jungkook looked up, pulling his headphones out. “Hey, that was quick!”

 

“Ah, well, it’s not exactly complicated,” Yoongi shrugged, setting the plates on the coffee table.

 

Jungkook had already grabbed his before Yoongi had even sat down. “Mm,” he mumbled, slightly indistinctly, around the huge bite he’d just taken, “this is really good, hyung.”

 

Yoongi watched him for a moment, before picking up his own sandwich. “Thanks,” he murmured, smiling a little as Jungkook continued to make appreciative noises.

 

“So...” Jungkook said, after they’d been eating in silence for a few minutes. “D’you wanna head out for a bit after this? It’s a pretty nice day.”

 

“Uh... sure, yeah,” Yoongi nodded. “Where... ?” He prompted, when Jungkook didn’t elaborate.

 

Jungkook grinned. “You’ll find out when we get there.”

 

Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “You aren’t going to tell me?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“We’re not hiking up a mountain, are we?” He asked, suspiciously.

 

“Nah,” Jungkook shook his head, taking a final bite of his sandwich and leaning back against the couch.

 

“Okay. Good. You better not be lying to me.”

 

“I’m not,” Jungkook laughed. “Don’t you trust me, hyung?”

 

“Hm...” Yoongi murmured. “That depends on whether you’re planning on trying to drag me up the side of a mountain or not.”

 

He finished his food and headed upstairs to change. He rifled through the clothes in his bag, searching for something warm enough to withstand the wind he could see ruffling through the trees outside the window. Though it was sunny, it was still December. And they were near the coast.

 

His hand closed around something soft, balled up in the corner, and he pulled it out, staring down at the familiar dark blue material. He did vaguely remember packing the scarf, along with the matching gloves, when he’d been shoving things into his bag in a rush the morning they’d left.

 

He hesitated. He had worn both out, a couple of times, as the temperature had dropped in the past couple of weeks--but only when he’d been by himself, no one around to see him, so he’d told himself it didn’t count.

 

They were warm, though. And there was no one around to see him today, either. Just Jungkook.

 

He’d just pulled on a sweater, a thick, black knit one that at least vaguely matched the scarf and gloves, when there was a knock on the door.

 

“Hey, hyung, you ready?”

 

“Yeah, just about. Come in,” he called, grabbing the scarf and wrapping it around his neck.

 

“I was just--oh...”

 

“Yeah?” Yoongi asked, distractedly, glancing back at Jungkook when he didn’t continue. He pulled a hoodie over the sweater, shoving the gloves into the pocket.

 

Jungkook blinked at him for a moment. Then he smiled. “I--uh. Nothing. I was just... gonna say you should wear something warm. But... you are. So that’s good.”

 

“So where we’re going is outdoors, then?”

 

Jungkook’s smile widened. “Maybe.”

 

Yoongi narrowed his eyes, still a little suspicious--but Jungkook didn’t notice. He was looking around the room. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in here. This was my room when I was a kid, you know.”

 

“It was?” Yoongi asked, a little startled.

 

“Yeah.” Jungkook stepped towards the dresser. Yoongi had to stop himself from visibly wincing. It was highly unlikely Jungkook was going to look in the bottom drawer, he told himself. “My grandmother had this made for me,” he said, tracing his fingers along the intricate carvings of woodland creatures Yoongi had noticed before. He tapped one of the rabbits, a small, fond smile tugging at his lips. “She always used to call me tokki. Soonhee ajumma, too. Because of my teeth, you know?”

 

“Ah, yeah... I figured.”

 

Jungkook glanced at him. “Oh... right.” He reached up, scratching the back of his neck with one hand, making a little face. “Yeah, they are kind of... big. I used to get teased about it in school.”

 

“No, I-- they’re cute.” The words were out of Yoongi’s mouth before he could stop them.

 

Ugh. Why did I say that?

 

Oh, yeah, that’s why, he thought, as he watched Jungkook smile at him, looking pleased. Because his stupid bunny teeth are fucking adorable. And so are his dimples, and his lips, and his eyes--

 

Oh, god.

 

I’m so incredibly fucked.

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi stared out of the window at the scenery flashing past, green fields and rice paddies, rolling hills and mountains rising up in the distance, the tops shrouded in mist.

 

Gradually, the road became winding and steep, and he caught a glimpse of the sea, a tiny patch of blue peeking through hills and trees.

 

When they passed through a small village, he thought for a moment they might be stopping there, but Jungkook continued through, taking a left turn down a narrow dirt track, the jeep gently rolling to a stop amongst dry scrub grass.

 

“We’re at... the beach?” He asked, peering through the window at the sand dunes ahead.

 

Jungkook laughed. “Ah, hyung, how’d you guess?”

 

The beach? In December? Yoongi thought. He opened his mouth-- but one glance at Jungkook’s face, his bright eyes and his smile, had him shutting it again.

 

A beach wasn’t so bad, all things considered. If he was honest with himself, the kid could have brought him to the parking lot of a convenience store, and he’d still have pretended to be excited, if he thought that’s what would make Jungkook happy.

 

They got out of the car, and he followed Jungkook’s lead through the sand dunes, to a steep set of steps leading down to--

 

“Oh.” Yoongi’s eyes widened a little as he stared down at the cove below them, the stretch of immaculate golden sand curving into the rocky hillside, the deep blue of the sea beyond.

 

“It’s nice, right? Only the locals really know about it, so it’s usually pretty empty, even in the summer.”

 

“It’s beautiful,” he replied, honestly. The beach was completely deserted--there wasn’t even a footprint in the sand. It looked like something from the back of a postcard.

 

“I know, right? C’mon, let’s head down,” Jungkook said, starting down the steps. “I used to come here with my mom,” he added, without turning around. “This was her favorite place.”

 

Yoongi stared at the back of his head, a little surprised. Jungkook hardly ever spoke about his mother. At first he’d thought it was because their relationship--like the one with his father--was a little tenuous, strained. He’d found that he didn’t like the way Jungkook looked when he mentioned his father--the way his expression would turn serious, mouth set in a firm line, shoulders tensing as if the weight of expectation was a physical, tangible thing.

 

Over time, though, he couldn’t help but notice that Jungkook never looked that way on the rare occasions he talked about his mother--instead, he seemed fond, the memories he recalled invariably happy ones.

 

They wandered the beach, ending up at the edge of the weathered jetty, skipping stones across the water. It ended up turning into a contest--which Yoongi found himself regretting almost immediately, because, of course, Jungkook just had to be weirdly, improbably talented at everything. Even something as inconsequential as stone skipping.

 

He rolled his eyes at Jungkook’s crow of victory as his stone bounced across the water three times further than Yoongi’s. “Alright, fine, you win,” he huffed, sitting down cross legged at the edge of the jetty, trying his best to sound annoyed--though it wasn’t easy, watching Jungkook’s face, the way his wide, infectious grin made his eyes crinkle and his nose scrunch up.

 

After a few more throws, Jungkook sat down beside him. “So what do I win, then?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “What do you want?” He felt Jungkook’s eyes on the side of his face, and turned to see Jungkook watching him.

 

“Uh...” Jungkook seemed to flounder for a moment, and then Yoongi watched as his eyes lit up. “I get to pay when we go out. And you can’t argue with me about it.”

 

That’s what you want?”

 

Jungkook nodded, looking pleased with himself. “Yep. That’s what I want.”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “You’re weird,” he muttered. It had been an ongoing disagreement between them, but he’d really thought Jungkook had given up by now--at least, he hadn’t said anything the last few times they’d been out, this trip included.

 

But it seemed as though he was going to continue being stubborn about it. Yoongi really didn’t get it at all. (Although... he could, perhaps, possibly, admit that he was being just as stubborn. But that was only because he was right).

 

And I get to pick when,” Jungkook added, unfazed.

 

“Fine,” Yoongi agreed, “but only one time.” Then his eyes narrowed. “And nowhere expensive, alright?”

 

His suspicions were proved correct when Jungkook pouted slightly. “Define expensive.”

 

“Jungkook-ah...”

 

“Alright, alright,” Jungkook rolled his eyes, “nowhere expensive. Got it.”

 

Yoongi sighed. He wanted to protest--only, he didn’t know how to explain how he felt, when he wasn’t even quite sure himself.

 

In the beginning, it had bothered him because he hadn’t wanted to feel indebted to Jungkook, hadn’t wanted to feel like he owed the alpha anything. But now... well, he knew Jungkook wasn’t like that, knew he’d never expect anything in return.

 

Somehow, though, that thought didn’t make him feel any better.

 

He gazed out over the water, glittering in the pale afternoon sunlight, up at the clouds dotting the blue skies. He closed his eyes, feeling the faint warmth of the sun on his face.

 

“So... the whole film thing,” he asked, after a few moments’, “are you switching majors, then? Dropping Business?”

 

“Mm... no. I’m going to try and double major. If I can swing it with the school.”

 

Yoongi opened his eyes, glancing at Jungkook in surprise. “Double major?”

 

“Yep. I’m gonna try and keep taking enough classes to fulfil both requirements.”

 

“That sounds like a lot of work.”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “Yeah. And it’ll take longer, I guess. But... it’s the best compromise I could think of.”

 

Yoongi simply nodded--though he couldn’t help but think that it was a compromise that would only hold for so long. What happened when Jungkook graduated, and his dad expected him to join the company? Would he?

 

“Does your dad know?” He asked, after a pause.

 

“Nope.”

 

“Are you going to tell him?”

 

“Mm. Eventually. I think I need to let him get over me transferring from Princeton, first. He wasn’t too happy about that.”

 

“Why did you?” Yoongi asked, curiously. Jungkook had never spoken about it, and Yoongi had never asked.

 

He’d heard the rumors, of course--almost all variations on the theme of Jungkook being forced to leave his previous school, for everything from drinking, drugs and partying, to being caught with the dean’s wife--but none of them seemed even remotely believable. He’d assumed the real reason was something far more mundane--perhaps Jungkook had simply gotten homesick.

 

Jungkook gave him a sideways look. “Well, I didn’t get kicked out, if that’s what you think.”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No. I don’t.”

 

There was a long pause. He heard Jungkook let out a breath. “My mom... she’s sick.”

 

Yoongi turned to him, breath catching in his throat. “What?”

 

Jungkook was staring out at the water. “She was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. That’s why I came back.”

 

“Is it...” Yoongi hesitated. “How bad is it...?”

 

“The doctors said it was inoperable, but with chemo and immunotherapy, she...” Yoongi watched as he chewed his lip, “they think she has a chance. But... they don’t want to promise anything, I guess.”

 

“Kook-ah, I... I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s alright,” Jungkook said, softly. “It was... it was a shock, at first. I mean, she’s not even... she’s much younger than my dad. She’s only forty-four. And I guess just--I never expected that I’d have to...” he trailed off.

 

He didn’t finish the sentence, but they both knew what he meant. Yoongi swallowed past the lump that had formed in his throat, wracking his brain for something, anything to say, coming up frustratingly short.

 

Jungkook was still looking out at the water. He didn’t even look upset, face blank in an almost careful way, belied only by the tense set of his jaw. It was as if he’d long grown used to keeping himself in check, to hiding what he really felt when it came to this. It wasn’t an expression Yoongi was used to seeing on him--at least, not anymore, not since they’d become friends--and he hated it.

 

“I... I’m sorry... that I didn’t tell you before.”

 

Yoongi was already shaking his head, fervently. “No--no, don’t--don’t be ridiculous. There’s absolutely nothing to be sorry about, Kook-ah.”

 

“I haven’t really told anyone, actually,” Jungkook said, quietly, after a moment. “Except for Tae.” Yoongi blinked at him, surprised at the admission. “I guess,” he continued, “for a while--well it sounds stupid, but it was like... if I never said anything about it, it was kind of like... it--it wasn’t real.”

 

“It doesn’t sound stupid at all,” Yoongi murmured. Before he’d really thought about what he was doing, his hand was reaching out and covering Jungkook’s, threading his gloved fingers through the alpha’s bare ones.

 

Jungkook looked down at their joined hands, and then up at Yoongi, a flicker of surprise crossing his face. Yoongi resisted the urge to pull his hand back, ignoring the voice in his head screaming that he was being obvious, that Jungkook would somehow figure out how he really felt.

 

This wasn’t about him, or his stupid, mixed up feelings. It was about Jungkook. About him needing someone who’d be there for him.

 

He squeezed Jungkook’s hand. “Listen, I... I’m here, okay? If... if you ever need to talk. Anytime.”

 

He felt something in his chest loosen when Jungkook’s expression warmed. The corner of his mouth twitched. “What if I want to talk at three AM?”

 

“Then call me at three AM,” Yoongi replied, completely seriously. “Or knock on my door. Whatever.”

 

Jungkook blinked, a tiny smile appearing on his face. “Okay, then,” he murmured. “Thanks, hyung.”

 

Yoongi just shrugged. “Of course.”

 

They sat for a little while longer, talking about nothing in particular--classes and music, the film Jungkook was working on, what the others were doing--as the sunlight faded, the sky turning pale gray. Yoongi glanced overhead as the wind picked up, frowning when he saw the dark clouds. A moment later, he felt the first light drops of rain.

 

“Maybe we should head back.” Jungkook was looking up at the sky too. It had darkened even further now.

 

Yoongi nodded. “Yeah, I think that might be a good idea.”

 

They hadn’t even reached the steps before the skies opened up, the light drizzle turning rapidly to a downpour.

 

“Oh, shit!” Jungkook exclaimed, having to raise his voice to be heard over the sound of the wind and rain as they both picked up the pace, hurrying for the steps.

 

As they neared the top, the steps narrowed and Yoongi lost his grip on the slippery railing. He had a split second to feel the stomach dropping sensation of falling backwards into thin air, before he felt Jungkook’s solid weight behind him, an arm wrapping tightly around his waist.

 

He heard Jungkook swear as the force caused them to slide further backwards, and he felt a sharp jolt of panic, expecting them both to continue falling.

 

But it didn’t happen. A second later, Yoongi glanced sideways to see Jungkook was still holding onto railing with one hand, grip tight and white knuckled.

 

“Shit... careful, hyung,” came Jungkook’s voice in his ear. He sounded out of breath--understandable, given that he’d pretty much just caught Yoongi’s entire body weight, preventing them both from tumbling down the steps. He could feel the rapid rise and fall of Jungkook’s chest behind his back.

 

“Fuck,” he muttered, still trying to catch his own breath, the panic not quite receding as he realized how close that had been. “Sorry.” He righted himself with some difficulty, taking the last couple of steps carefully, Jungkook close behind him.

 

Once they were back on stable ground, they both ran for the car.

 

Yoongi slammed the passenger side door and leant back against the seat, panting. His clothes were soaked, damp hair sticking to his forehead. He shivered, shrugging off his hoodie and tossing it into the back. The sweater he had on underneath was marginally drier, at least.

 

“Are you alright?” Jungkook asked.

 

“Fine.” Yoongi replied, rubbing his arms in an attempt to warm himself up. “Are you?” Jungkook nodded. “Sorry for... uh, nearly killing us.”

 

To his surprise, Jungkook laughed. “Don’t worry about it. I wouldn’t have let...I wouldn’t have let us fall.” He leant forward and began fiddling with the center console. After a few seconds, warm air began to blow out. “Here, I’ll turn on the seat warmers too,” he said, pressing another button.

 

They both stared out at the darkened skies and pouring rain. “I guess I should’ve checked the weather before I brought us here,” Jungkook mused. He sounded a little sheepish.

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Well, it was nice while it lasted.”

 

Jungkook slid the key into the ignition and put the car into drive. “There’s probably somewhere in the village we passed where we could get coffee or something,” he said, as he began to back out, “should we--”

 

Yes,” Yoongi cut in, fervently, before he’d had the chance to finish. Though the car was warming up rapidly, the cold already felt as though it’d settled into his bones. Coffee, or pretty much any kind of hot drink, sounded perfect right about now.

 

Jungkook laughed. “Okay, then.”

 

To his immense relief, they found that the tiny convenience store at the edge of the village had a self service coffee machine--it looked like it’d seen better days, but Yoongi would take what he could get.

 

He took the first sip, eyes closing in bliss. “This is the best coffee I’ve ever had,” he declared.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes. Really.”

 

He opened his eyes. Jungkook was watching him, amused. He peeled off the lid of his own drink--hot chocolate with a disgusting amount of whipped cream and sprinkles--and took a sip.  “Mm. Nice.”

 

Yoongi couldn’t help but laugh when saw Jungkook had ended up with whipped cream on his upper lip. There was even a little bit on the tip of his nose.

 

“What?” Jungkook asked, brows knitting together.

 

“You’ve got...” he reached across, wiping it off with his sleeve--the sweater would probably have to go in the wash when they got back, anyway.

 

Jungkook blinked. “Oh. Thanks.”

 

“No problem...” Yoongi lowered his hand slowly.

 

Jungkook was watching him, a slightly odd expression on his face. Before Yoongi had too much of a chance to wonder about it, however, he was distracted by something outside the window.

 

“Oh, hey, look!”

 

Yoongi turned, following his gaze, realizing as he did that the skies had brightened, the sun tentatively peeking through the clouds, though the rain continued to pour. He looked in the direction Jungkook was pointing to see a rainbow curving up into the sky in the distance.

 

“Over there! Can you see it?”

 

“Yeah, I see it.”

 

He watched, a small, fond smile tugging at his lips, as Jungkook took pictures of the rainbow from various angles, even rolling down the window to get a better shot.

 

The rain had intensified Jungkook’s scent tenfold, and it hung heavy in the air, blending with the aroma of coffee--and maybe it was that, or his excitement, his bright smile, but Yoongi felt a strange sense of contentment settling over him, steady and warm.

 

He was... happy, he thought. Sat here, in his damp clothes, in the car in the middle of a rainstorm, he felt happy, content, in a way he couldn’t remember being in... well, he couldn’t quite remember, actually.

 

“Should we head back?” Jungkook asked, lowering his phone, apparently finally satisfied with the (entirely unnecessary) number of pictures he’d taken. “The others’ll probably be wondering where we are. Besides,he made a face, “my clothes are still wet.”

 

Yoongi laughed. “Yeah, mine too. Let’s head back.”

 

He leant back into the warmth of his seat as the car rolled steadily down the road, sipping his coffee, listening to the steady patter of the rain on the roof, Jungkook humming along to the radio.

 

Maybe it’s not about where you are. Maybe... maybe it’s about who you’re with.

 

And that--well, that was a thought he didn’t particularly feel like dealing with just now.

 

(Even if he couldn’t quite ignore the truth of it--that maybe... he’d be happy just being with Jungkook, just about anywhere.)

 

 

*

 

 

The rain ended up lasting the rest of the day, and the following morning dawned just as gray and overcast, the air heavy and damp, everything blanketed in a light mist.

 

It was time to head back to the city. Yoongi had already settled himself into the passenger seat of Jin’s Subaru, both he and the beta waiting on Namjoon and Jimin--the others were riding with Jungkook in the jeep.

 

They’d all been ready to go, when--in an entirely predictable turn of events--Namjoon had suddenly realized he didn’t have his phone, and he and Jimin had headed back into the house to find it. (Honestly, the only thing even remotely surpising about it was that no one else aside from Namjoon misplaced anything.)

 

“So...” Yoongi looked up from his phone to find Jin watching him, a worryingly serious expression on his face.

 

“What?” He asked, with some trepidation. He knew Jin well enough to know that expression couldn’t mean anything good.

 

“That whole thing, the other morning...”

 

Yoongi looked away, out of the window at the rain. It was a light, half-hearted sort of drizzle, the kind that didn’t really merit an umbrella, but was irritating nonetheless. “What about it?”

 

Jin let out a little huff. “Well, are we ever gonna talk about it?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “No need to. It was nothing.”

 

Jin made a disbelieving noise. “Nothing? Yoongi, you stole his--his sweater, whatever it was--and you were sleeping with it in your bed.”

 

Yoongi winced. It sounded... hm. Pretty bad, when Jin said it out loud. “Yeah, I’m aware of that, thanks.”

 

“So are you going to tell me what the hell is going on?”

 

“It really isn’t worth talking about,” Yoongi tried, “it’s just... I kind of--I might have...” he trailed off, uncertainly, chewing his lip. His heart suddenly felt like it was beating a little faster.



“You might have feelings for him?” Jin’s voice was gentle now.

 

“I... yes. I guess so.” It came out as barely more than a whisper. “But it’s...” he cleared his throat, “it’s nothing. Just a stupid crush. I’ll get over it.”

 

“Right...” Jin didn’t sound very convinced. “Have you considered that maybe you don’t have to, though? Maybe he feels the same--”

 

“He doesn’t,” Yoongi interrupted.


“Are you sure about that?”

 

“Yes. I’m pretty sure. And besides, I don’t even... I don’t even want that.” He glanced over to see Jin regarding him a skeptical expression. He opened his mouth to speak, but Yoongi got there first, shaking his head. “You know I... I’m not interested in alphas.”

 

It was something most people who’d come to know Yoongi for any length of time--with a few notable exceptions, like the customers at the cafe, for obvious reasons--were well aware of. However, Jin was one of the only ones--along with Hoseok and Namjoon--who really understood why, knew all of the reasons behind the blanket statement-- I don’t date alphas.

 

Jin was nodding now. “Yes, I... I know,” he hesitated, “but...”

 

“But what?”

 

“Well, Jungkookie’s a bit different, isn’t he? Like Joonie. Or, well... not exactly like him. But still...” he paused, and Yoongi could tell he was weighing up what he was going to say next, “maybe... maybe you should talk to him? I mean, you never know...”

 

Yoongi swallowed. He couldn’t pretend like he hadn’t thought about it. He had. Quite a bit. Enough to keep him awake the previous night.

 

But, then... what would he even say?

 

So... I maybe have a crush on you, and I also might’ve had a sex dream about you... but, hey, I don’t really know what that means, or if I’d even want that in real life, but either way, I just kind of want to be around you all the time, and sometimes when you smile it takes everything I’ve got not to just lean over and kiss you--

 

No. No. Definitely not.

 

How could he tell Jungkook how he felt, when he wasn’t even sure of that himself?

 

He couldn’t.

 

And if there was one thing he was sure of, it was that it certainly wasn’t worth risking their friendship over.

 

Especially not when that what was exactly what Jungkook needed right now--a friend. Not... anything else. (Not just another lovesick omega, wanting something from him that he couldn’t give.)

 

He shook his head. “No... no, trust me, that’s not a good idea.”

 

Jin sighed. “Well, if you’re sure...”

 

“I’m sure,” Yoongi said, firmly.

 

“Okay, well--”

 

“Found it!”

 

Yoongi couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as whatever Jin had been about to say in response was interrupted by Namjoon’s shout. They both looked up to see him emerging from the house, holding up his phone in a manner Yoongi thought was a bit too triumphant, considering he was the one who’d lost it in the first place. (Really, it was his kind of his fault Yoongi had been forced to have this whole, completely unnecessary conversation.)

 

“Actually, I found it.” Jimin corrected, from behind him, though there was no real bite to his tone.

 

“Finally,” Yoongi grumbled, as they climbed into the car, “you took long enough. I mean, it’s not like we’re leaving at the crack of dawn or anything. You’ve had hours to make sure you had everything.”

 

He ignored the knowing look Jin gave him, the beta all too aware of the reason behind his uncharacteristic irritation--Yoongi was so used to Namjoon constantly misplacing things by this point, he usually couldn’t be bothered to work up the energy to get annoyed about it.

 

“I thought I did have it!” Namjoon protested. “I had it in the kitchen, when we were having breakfast.”

 

“You did,” Jimin supplied, helpfully, “but then you left it there.”

 

“Well, I didn’t mean to--”

 

They began bickering, in an idle sort of way which suggested that neither of them really cared all that much about the outcome. Still, it didn’t take long before Jin was threatening to kick them out of the car if they carried on, insisting that he wasn’t going to listen to them argue all the way back to Seoul.

 

Finally, they quieted down, and Jin switched on the radio. Of course, less than five minutes later, that turned into Jin and Namjoon arguing about which station to listen to, which then turned into a general debate about car passenger etiquette (though, really, it was pretty much just Jin repeating my car, my rules, while Namjoon insisted over and over again that it was democracy, not a dictatorship. Jimin, who was attempting to mediate, was the only one Yoongi thought was actually making any sense at all). He tuned them out after a while, unbothered and not feeling strongly enough to chime in on either side.

 

At least now Namjoon and Jimin were in the car, he wouldn’t have to deal with any more awkward questions. Jin had promised he wouldn’t mention anything to the others, and, despite his mild annoyance, Yoongi had no doubts he’d honor that.

 

And soon enough, they’d all be back home, and he could finally have some much needed space, time to himself. Then maybe, after that, things could finally get back to normal.

 

At the very least, he wouldn’t have to see Jungkook every single second of the day. Which would make things easier.

 

Probably.

 

Hopefully.

Chapter Text

The cool evening air rushed past Yoongi’s face, wind whistling in his ears, his surroundings a blur of bright lights as he sped down the busy city street, his bike allowing him to circumvent the considerable queue of traffic that had formed.

 

He turned at the intersection, slowing as the bike rolled down a tree-lined side street off the main thoroughfare. He parked in a narrow space in between two cars, both sleek, shiny and new--this was a nice area--dismounting and heading into the towering apartment complex.

 

The concierge glanced up at him, giving him a vague nod before returning to whatever he was watching on his phone--sports, by the sound of it. Yoongi had actually been to this building a couple of times before--if only once to this particular apartment--but he didn’t expect that the man would recognize him. He was just a delivery guy, after all.

 

He made his way up in the lift, heading for the sixth floor apartment he remembered as being right at the furthest end of the corridor and ringing the buzzer.

 

After a minute or so, the door swung open, and Yoongi blinked in vague surprise as it revealed not the petite, dark haired beta girl who he remembered from his previous visit, but an older alpha, in maybe his early forties.

 

“I have a package for--” he glanced down, “Hwang Jinho-ssi.”

 

For a moment, the alpha said nothing, just stared at him blankly, and Yoongi wondered if he’d somehow mixed up the addresses.

 

Then, “Ah...” the man nodded, “yes. Yes, that’s me.” He took the package from Yoongi, turning and stepping away for a moment, placing it on the glass table that stood in the hall. There was large canvas above it, some sort of modern piece, bright colors and abstract shapes. It looked like the real thing, not a reproduction, and Yoongi absently wondered how much it had cost.

 

The man turned back to him.

 

“Sign here, please," Yoongi held out the machine and the alpha picked up the little plastic pen, scribbling his signature across the screen.

 

“Thank you,” he nodded, inclining his head briefly, before turning to head back down the hall.

 

He couldn’t help but notice that he was almost all the way to the lift at the other end before he heard the distinctive sound of the apartment door clicking quietly shut.

 

 

*

 

 

It was nearly ten PM by the time Yoongi finally made it home.

 

The apartment wasn't much--small and cramped, the bathroom full of a persistent black mold which stubbornly returned no matter how many times it was blasted with cleaning chemicals. Yoongi's bedroom was the smallest by far, barely bigger than a closet, with just enough room for a single bed and a tiny wardrobe.

 

It didn't bother him much--his rent was cheaper than what his two roommates paid, and besides, he was hardly ever home--and either way, it was a still step up from the hostels he'd stayed in when he'd first arrived in Seoul, full of backpackers and students on gap years coming and going at all hours of the day and night. 

 

Another bonus was that the building was one of the number of omega-only apartment buildings and boarding houses scattered throughout the city--meaning no alphas were permitted, either as tenants or guests. They were the result of what had originally been a government funded scheme, aimed at providing safe, affordable housing for the influx of young, unbonded omegas arriving in the city in search of better job opportunities, a better life than their small towns or villages could provide.

 

The scheme had coincided with new government directives aimed at promoting equal opportunities in the workplace--providing incentives for employers hiring omega staff, among other things.

 

It had been a controversial move, met with protest and cries of reverse discrimination, and as a result, in the years following had been significantly rolled back. The housing scheme, meanwhile, had suffered as a result of budget cuts and, along with a number of other social programs, had ultimately been abandoned.

 

A number of the original buildings were now privately owned, several still designated omega-only. The landlords, however, had caught on pretty quickly to the fact that the no alphas clause--the guarantee of no alpha guests, roommates, or even neigbors--was an appealing prospect for most unbonded omegas, and now, even an apartment like this one pushing the limits of what could be described as affordable.

 

Still... it was worth it, as far as Yoongi was concerned.

 

He'd collapsed into bed and was already on the brink of passing out when he heard the apartment door opening, the sound of several voices in the hall. He groaned, guessing even before he heard a familiar voice echoing down the corridor which of his flatmates had just returned.

 

Yujin was a student at the nearby university, and apparently had a pretty busy social life. Which was fine--except that she insisted on bringing friends back to their apartment at all hours. It didn't help that the walls in the place were paper-thin. He was just thankful that Haeun, their other roommate, was quiet as a mouse. Like Yoongi, she was usually out, and when she was home he barely heard or even saw her.

 

Reaching over, he grabbed the little foam ear plugs from his nightstand and shoved them into his ears. He really needed to get some sleep tonight--he had the opening shift at the convenience store the following morning, starting bright and early at five thirty AM.

 

He wriggled about on the thin mattress, trying to get comfortable, before reaching under his pillow for his phone, pulling it out.

 

He had no new messages.

 

He checked his emails, for good measure.

 

Nothing.

 

Quite a few of his friends had messaged him, after they’d heard he’d left for Seoul. Even Junyoung had messaged. Several times. (Yoongi hadn’t replied to any of them.)

 

In the end, though, he'd lost gradually contact with all but a couple. He knew that it was mostly his own fault--he’d often found himself too busy, or simply too exhausted, to keep the conversation going.

 

There were two people, though, that he’d never heard from. Not even once.

 

He shoved the phone back under the pillow, rolling over and curling into a ball. 

 

Don’t they care about me at all?

 

It was far from the first time he'd asked himself that question--forgotten, sometimes, for endless busy days or even weeks on end--but always returning, echoing through his mind when it was dark and late, when he found himself staring sleeplessly at the cracks in the ceiling above his bed, pretending he couldn't feel the slight sting behind his eyelids, dampness pooling at the corners, wetting his lashes.

 

Yoongi wrapped the blanket more tightly around himself, tugging it up to cover his ears when the earplugs--the cheapest he’d been able to find--didn’t do a good enough job of blocking out the loud voices and laughter from the next room.

 

It doesn’t matter, he told himself. They made their choice. And you made yours. Nothing to be done about it now.

 

And... things would get better. He had to believe that.

 

He’d been carefully saving ever since he’d first managed to find steady work--the deposit and first months’ rent on the apartment had taken a chunk of that, but he’d still had a decent amount left over.

 

And, hopefully, in the not too distant future, he’d be able to cut down on his hours --work one instead of two jobs--and find enough time to pick up his music again.

 

He’d make this work. He would.

 

Somehow.

 

There wasn’t really any other option, after all.

 

 

 

*

 

 

Ten minutes to go.

 

Yoongi dropped the phone back in the pocket of his apron with a sigh of relief. 

 

It was a dreary, gray January afternoon, and he was coming to the end of his shift at the The Cookie Jar. He’d been there before opening that morning, and had worked straight through the lunchtime rush.

 

He looked up at shrill ring of a bell, glancing over at a table in the corner to see one of the customers--a middle-aged alpha in a drab suit, no surprise there--was gesturing they were ready for their bill.  

 

Distracted, he barely even batted an eyelid when one of the other alphas at the table called him honey three times in the space of less than a minute while Yoongi sorted out the group's bill (or when the same alpha had accidentally brushed his hand in an unnecessarily lingering manner when Yoongi had handed him the card machine).

 

He almost ran into Sungho on his way back to the staff room.

 

“Yoongi-ssi, tables four and seven need clearing--”

 

“Sorry, Sungho-nim, my shift’s finished now!” Yoongi called over his shoulder, barely turning around, smirking a little at the irritated sputtering he could hear from behind him. It wasn’t unusual for employees to work into their breaks or past their end of their shifts, based on how busy the cafe was. Yoongi had done so himself more than once.

 

But not today.

 

Once he’d gotten into the back, he changed quickly and headed out the back door of the staff room.

 

Jungkook looked up immediately at the sound, pushing himself away from the wall, a grin spreading across his face. “Hyung!”

 

“Hi, Kook-ah--” Yoongi didn’t get any further than that, letting out a startled sound (definitely not a squeak, definitely) when Jungkook closed the distance between them in a few quick steps and caught Yoongi up in a hug so enthusiastic he felt his feet lift several inches off the ground, arms quickly going around Jungkook’s neck to steady himself.

 

“Missed you,” Jungkook mumbled, the words muffled where his face was pressed into the junction between Yoongi’s neck and shoulder, lips just barely grazing the skin as he spoke, the tip of his nose rubbing back and forth for the briefest of moments. Yoongi couldn’t help the tiny shiver that ran through him, had to suppress the urge to tilt his head, expose more of his neck, allow Jungkook access to--to do whatever he wanted.

 

Which was... nothing, he reminded himself.

 

He pulled back, feeling the way his cheeks had gone a little warm and hoping it wasn’t noticeable. “It hasn’t even been two weeks,” he reminded the alpha. And... okay, hopefully Jungkook also wouldn’t notice the slight breathless tone to his voice.

 

God, get a fucking hold of yourself, Min Yoongi.

 

Jungkook’s lips formed a small pout. “Are you saying you didn’t miss me, hyung?”

 

Yoongi realized they were still standing close--too close, his arms still wrapped around Jungkook’s neck, Jungkook’s around his waist, palms splayed across his back.

 

He took a careful step back, ignoring the way everything in him seemed to immediately protest at the loss of Jungkook’s warmth, the welcome familiarity of his scent--cinnamon-sweet, with that underlying hint of something fresh and clean. (Like the way the air smelled after rain, Yoongi's mind supplied. He told it to shut up.) 

 

He rolled his eyes. “Not at all. I was glad to be rid of you, finally.”

 

He was lying, and they both knew it--even if Jungkook definitely (hopefully) didn’t know the extent of it.

 

The space and time to himself Yoongi had hoped for when they’d returned to the city after their trip at the beginning of the winter break... well, it hadn’t quite materialized.

 

He should have realized, really. Jungkook lived in Seoul all year round--his parents’ house was in Gangnam, and he had his own apartment, closer to campus--so unlike the others, he’d stayed in the city for the majority of the break. And, as a result Yoongi had seen quite a bit of him. He’d gone away with his family over the New Year, though, only returning the previous night.

 

It had only been a little under two weeks, just as Yoongi had said. Hardly any time at all, really.

 

Unfortunately, that hadn’t done a thing to stop the unwelcome little ache that had made a home for itself in his chest, or to stop him from checking his phone far too often, from scrambling for it every single time it buzzed, hoping it would be a message from Jungkook. From feeling the absence in a way that, if he hadn’t already known that his feelings for the alpha had already gone far (far far far) past the point of platonic, might just have tipped him off.

 

So much for time and space.

 

Jungkook was unfazed by the denial. “Well, I missed you. And the others,” he amended, after a moment. “Tae’s getting back tomorrow afternoon.”

 

Yoongi nodded as he began to walk, Jungkook following. “Yeah, I know.” Taehyung had been keeping everyone updated on his winter break via an entirely unnecessary amount of Snapchat stories, mostly of him playing with his parents’ new puppy. Yoongi would have protested at the near constant barrage, but, well--the dog was pretty cute.

 

“So where do you want to go?” He asked, after a moment. Jungkook hadn’t mentioned anywhere specific when he’d suggested the previous day that he could meet Yoongi after his shift. And it was too late for lunch.

 

Jungkook gave a little shrug, the action seeming somehow almost too casual. “We could just wander and see if anywhere looks good?” He suggested. 

 

Yoongi frowned, glancing around them with some trepidation--at the clean, well kept streets, the upscale shops and cafes. The Cookie Jar was in one of the nicer parts of town--nice meaning expensive.

 

It hadn’t always been like that--a few years back, when he’d first arrived in the city, it had been almost as down at heel as the the area where his own apartment building was, just a ten minute bus ride away. Once upon a time, he could nearly have afforded to rent a shoebox-sized studio here (nearly).

 

But in the years since, gentrification had set in, rents steadily climbing as the low priced chain stores were gradually replaced with trendy boutiques, convenience stores with fancy delicatessens.

 

“Uh. Sure,” he agreed, finally, thinking he’d just veto anywhere too expensive. Last semester’s scholarship funding had long since run out, meaning he had only his (meagre) earnings to support himself until the next payment went in when the new term started the following week. He’d taken on extra hours over the break, but it had only been enough to get him over the line with rent and food.

 

“Oh, hey, how about here?”

 

Jungkook’s words jolted him from his thoughts and he looked up, startled, at the glass storefront, the gold lettering in the window--Bitter-and-Sweet Espresso Bar and Bakery. He frowned, wondering why he didn’t recognize it. He’d become familiar enough with the area to be pretty sure he’d remember an espresso bar being around here--even if it was one he couldn’t afford to go to.

 

“It’s new,” Jungkook said, apparently catching his confused expression. “Just opened last month.”

 

“Right...” Yoongi peered through the window at the menu on the chalkboard above the counter, proudly proclaiming that they served only freshly roasted, specialty grade Arabica. Which was great, and all... but, damn, the place was overpriced.

 

He hesitated at Jungkook’s bright expression. He seemed pleased he’d found somewhere he thought Yoongi would like. “Uh... it’s nearly seven thousand won for one cup of coffee...” he tried, half heartedly, fully aware that wouldn’t mean all that much to Jungkook.

 

Jungkook’s expression turned smug. “You promised I could pay one time when he went out, remember?

 

“What? ... Oh.” It was then that Yoongi remembered--that day at the beach. He’d forgotten about that part of the conversation entirely. But apparently, Jungkook hadn’t.

 

His eyes narrowed, Jungkook’s odd forced casualness earlier suddenly making a lot more sense. He should have realized. The kid was not a good actor. “You--you planned this, didn’t you?”

 

Jungkook widened his eyes innocently. “What? Hyung, no...”

 

Yoongi just stared at him, raising an eyebrow.

 

Jungkook let out a little huff. “Okay, yeah, fine,” he admitted, “I planned it. I saw this place was opening and thought you’d like it. That... that’s not so terrible, is it?”

 

Yoongi blinked, surprised (and, if he was honest, more than a little touched) at the admission.

 

He sighed, eyeing Jungkook’s sheepish expression. Maybe he shouldn’t be making such a big deal out of this. The place may have been overpriced for what it was, but not ridiculously so. Yoongi probably could’ve afforded it while still keeping to his--presently vastly reduced--weekly budget. (If he skipped dinner tonight. And possibly also lunch tomorrow.)

 

He was probably overreacting. Even if something about Jungkook having to pay for him still chafed, made him feel uncomfortable.

 

“No. No... of course not. That’s... thank you,” he muttered, awkwardly. “Okay... come on, then.” He reached up, grabbing Jungkook’s sleeve and dragging him inside.

 

Half an hour or so later, he had to admit that, though the place was more than a little pretentious--not to mention definitely charging way too much--they did have damn good coffee.

 

He was halfway through the espresso tasting menu--five different varieties of beans single sourced from the top farms across the globe--while Jungkook was happily munching his way through his third cream puff. They were apparently one of the cafe’s specialties, freshly baked on the premises.

 

Yoongi had declined to try either, though he did order the pistachio cookie which the barista had recommended to him, saying it complemented the Jamaican Blue Mountain blend particularly well.

 

“Sure you don’t want to try some, hyung? They’re really good.”

 

Yoongi looked up from the Hawaiian Kona blend he'd been sampling to see Jungkook was holding up the cream puff he’d just taken a bite out of. “What flavor is it?” He asked, eyeing the pastry skeptically.

 

“Vanilla cream. And... this one’s matcha white chocolate,” Jungkook added, pointing to his plate.

 

Yoongi scrunched his nose in distaste. “No, thank you.”

 

He’d just taken a bite of his cookie--it was good, not too sweet--when he noticed a striking, dark haired omega girl sat a few tables away was staring at them.

 

Like most of the other patrons, she was well dressed, clothes and jewelry understated but nonetheless expensive looking. She was sat with an equally well dressed, buff looking alpha--but appeared to be completely ignoring him in favor of glaring at them.

 

She looked... irritated? Yoongi frowned. Had they been talking too loudly? He didn’t think so. Besides, the alpha with her didn’t look annoyed, chattering on about something, apparently unaware his date was paying him no attention.

 

“Don’t look now, but that girl over there is giving us one hell of a death glare,” he murmured, leaning forward to be heard over the buzz of chatter around them. “I said don’t look,” he protested, when Jungkook immediately turned his head in an incredibly obvious manner.

 

“Oh. Sorry.” Jungkook’s second glance was at least a tiny bit more subtle. His eyes widened slightly.

 

“Friends of yours?”

 

Yoongi watched as Jungkook’s expression turned a little... guilty? “Uh... yeah. Wonho’s on the football team with me. And I know Jisoo from...” he hesitated for the briefest moment, “... class.”

 

Ah. Right. “Just from class?”

 

Jungkook pressed his lips together. “Mm... no. We used to... ah. Hang out.”

 

“So... she’s your ex?” He asked. Jungkook had never mentioned he was seeing anyone, even casually--though now that he thought about it, they’d never talked about Jungkook’s love life (if you could even call it that) at all. 

 

“No! No... we were never--we were never dating.”

 

“Well, you might want to tell her that.”

 

Jungkook shook his head, slowly, a line appearing between his brows. “I did.”

 

Yoongi shrugged, taking another bite of his cookie. “Maybe you weren’t clear enough. She looks kind of jealous.”

 

Jungkook frowned. “Jealous?”

 

“I mean, she probably thinks we’re on a date.”

 

Jungkook blinked at him. “She-- oh. Oh... right.”

 

Yoongi fidgeted, uncomfortably, wishing he hadn’t added that last part. Because, well... it wasn’t like he thought of the times they hung out, just the two of them, as dates. They weren’t. Of course they weren’t.

 

But, still... he didn’t want Jungkook to think he thought that. Or... didn’t think that. Whatever.

 

Jungkook was still frowning slightly. “Uh. Anyway... I did make it clear, from the start, that I wasn’t--I mean, that we were just, uh...” he trailed off, seemingly suddenly fascinated by his now empty plate.

 

“Friends with benefits?” Yoongi finished for him, arching a brow. “Fuck buddies?”

 

“Uh...” There was a pause. “Well... yes,” Jungkook admitted, sounding reluctant. Yoongi wondered if maybe Jungkook thought it wasn't appropriate to talk about this sort of thing in front of an omega. 

 

Which was... well, it  was the kind of patronizing--if well meant--old fashioned deference he’d expect from an elderly alpha like Jongsoo, his regular at the cafe. Not from someone Jungkook’s age. But, still... who knew what went through that kid’s mind, sometimes. 

 

“You’re not going to offend my delicate sensibilities, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he assured Jungkook, trying to sound diplomatic--though, unfortunately, he couldn’t quite keep the heavy sarcasm out of his tone. 

 

Jungkook huffed out a laugh. “I’m not.” His lifted his mug from the table and picked a marshmallow from the top, popping it in his mouth--he'd gone for a mocha, since the cafe was the kind of place that viewed adding sugary, flavored syrup to coffee as something close to sacrilege. (Jungkook had certainly gotten a bemused, if not vaguely judgemental, look when he'd asked.)

 

“Sure... okay,” Yoongi said, skeptically. “Anyway--look, there’s nothing wrong with you, uh." He cleared his throat. "I mean... it's your business. Besides... it's not like I--well, I don't exactly have the best track record myself, when it comes to relationships," he admitted. " The longest I've ever managed was a couple of weeks."

 

Jungkook was nodding. “I know.”

 

“And to be honest, I'm not sure that even--wait... what do you mean, you know?” Yoongi asked, confused. He was fairly sure it'd never come up before.

 

Jungkook looked a little flustered. “Well... um, Tae told me.”

 

“Right...” Yoongi supposed he couldn’t be annoyed with Taehyung. It wasn’t like it was a secret or anything. "Well. It's true. I've just... never really been interested, I guess."

 

"Why?" Jungkook asked. And then, sounding sheepish, "Sorry. That's--I mean. You--you don't have to tell me--"  

 

“It's alright," Yoongi murmured, "I don't mind. But I... I don’t know, really. I just... haven’t."

 

It was true that he’d had his fair share of crushes in high school, but he’d always been too shy to confess his feelings (now, looking back, he supposed they might have been, too). And he’d spent the majority of his final year--a time when even most of the late bloomers were finally starting to date--hiding his status from everyone around him, making dating difficult, if not pretty much impossible.

 

And after that... well, he’d had a lot of other, more important, things to worry about. Like keeping a roof over his head. Not ending up on the streets--or worse. Working job after shitty job, struggling to survive--that had pretty much been his life, his first few years in Seoul.

 

Until he’d gotten his scholarship. And met Namjoon--and the others.

 

Since he’d started university, he’d had a few--flings, for lack of a better word, with betas and omegas. But none of them had turned into anything more. And he’d never wanted more, either.

 

“Do you think you’d ever want to? I mean... maybe not now, but-- in the future?”

 

Jungkook’s question jolted him from his reverie. He blinked. “Uh. Yeah. I mean, I guess so. If I ever met anyone I was interested in...” he trailed off, uncomfortably aware that he’d maybe, possibly, once or twice, found himself wondering what it might be like to be in a relationship with the very person sitting across from him.

 

Wondered about... well, a lot of things. (Wondered what it would be like if Jungkook was his... his alpha. And wondered why the idea no longer seemed to make him recoil in the way it might once have.)

 

He found himself distracted as the girl who'd been staring at them got up from her table, the alpha trailing behind her. She paused as he passed them.

 

“Hello, Jungkook-ssi.” Her tone was so utterly icy it made Yoongi wonder why she’d even bothered to stop to greet them--or, Jungkook, at least. She hadn’t even looked at him.

 

The alpha gave Jungkook a nod. “Hey, JK...” He spared a glance in Yoongi’s direction, nodding briefly at him as well. He looked uncomfortable at the obvious tension in the air.

 

“Hi...”

 

Jungkook had barely even gotten the word out before she’d bitten out a curt see you and turned sharply on her heel, flouncing out the door, dark, glossy hair swinging behind her in a manner reminiscent of a shampoo commercial. Yoongi had to admit it was pretty impressive, as far as dramatic exits went.

 

Jungkook gaped after her. Yoongi tried not to laugh at his flabbergasted expression. “Wow, she really doesn’t like you, Jungkookie.”

 

Jungkook was staring after her. “I guess not," he murmured, frowning. "I... I don’t get it, though. I haven’t even seen her in... nearly two months.”

 

"Maybe that’s why she’s mad at you.”

 

Jungkook shook his head. “No... no. I mean, she seemed cool with it when we last spoke...”

 

“Seemed cool with what?”

 

“With us... not hooking up anymore.”

 

“Well, clearly, she isn’t cool with it,” Yoongi said. It came out a little sharper than he’d intended.

 

Jungkook was chewing his lip. “You... you think I’m an asshole, don’t you?” He asked, sounding dismayed. He was looking at Yoongi with the kind of expression that had him biting back the instinctual urge to reassure the alpha--his eyes wide, the corners of mouth turned down. He looked a little like a puppy who’d just been smacked on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Well, did you lead her on? I mean, maybe you did or said something that made her think--”

 

“No!” Jungkook cut in, shaking his head, “no, I swear, hyung, I didn’t!”

 

“Alright, alright, calm down,” Yoongi raised his hands placatingly, taken aback at the vehemence of Jungkook’s reaction.

 

“She was seeing someone else, anyway, this older guy--some businessman or something. I... honestly, I didn’t even think she was that into me.”

 

“Well, I guess she was. And who can blame her?” The words were out of Yoongi’s mouth before he could stop them.

 

“What... what do you mean?”

 

Shit. Shit. “I mean, come on,” Yoongi rolled his eyes, trying his best to appear casual and unaffected, “you do realize every pretty much every omega on campus wants to get in your pants, right?”

 

Jungkook made a little choked sound. “You... I--I think that’s an exaggeration, hyung.”

 

“Hm. Not by much.”

 

“If you say so.” Jungkook cleared his throat, lifting his mug and taking a final sip of his drink. “Anyway. I’m... uh. I’m gonna go pay.”

 

“Yeah, alright.”

 

He settled back in his seat, watching as Jungkook made his over to the counter to pay. The barista, a pretty omega with her hair swept back in a bouncy ponytail, greeted him with a warm smile. Yoongi watched as they talked--even from where he was sat, it was obvious she was flirting with him.

 

Sure enough, less than a minute later, she was scrawling something on a slip of paper, sliding it across the counter. Yoongi rolled his eyes, turning back to his phone. An exaggeration. Sure.

 

“Ready to go?” Jungkook asked, when he’d made his way back over.

 

“Mm hm.” He followed Jungkook out the door. “So, she gave you her number, huh?” He asked, once they were out onto the street.

 

Jungkook glanced at him, looking startled. “You saw that?”

 

“Yep. But I’m just worried...” Yoongi turned to him, eyes widening in mock concern.

 

“You’re--worried. What?” Jungkook looked utterly confused.

 

“Yes. Worried. That you’re going to lead her on, just like you did with that other poor girl...”

 

Jungkook’s mouth dropped open. “What--hyung, I told you--I didn’t--” He stopped when he clocked Yoongi’s expression, the amusement he could no longer contain. “You... you--” He sputtered.

 

“Uh huh. Whatever you say... fuckboy,” Yoongi grinned--then had to leap away quickly when Jungkook lunged for him, yelping as he took off down the street, sparing a single backwards glance at Jungkook’s dumbstruck expression before his eyes narrowed and he took off after Yoongi.

 

It didn’t take long, unfortunately, until he began to get out of breath, and he could feel Jungkook closing in behind him--unfairly rapidly, given the headstart he’d had. What he didn’t expect, however, were the strong arms closing around his waist, lifting him clear off the ground.

 

“What the--put me down, Jungkook-ah!” He hissed, wriggling against the alpha’s irritatingly firm hold.

 

“You deserved that, hyung,” came Jungkook’s low voice in his ear. Yoongi froze, the tiniest shiver of--fuck, arousal--running through him. A moment later, Jungkook relaxed his grip, and Yoongi felt his feet touch the ground again.

 

He stepped away quickly, inordinately relieved Jungkook had chosen that moment to let go--a split second later, and he was pretty sure he’d have done something incredibly stupid, like go limp in Jungkook’s hold and fucking bare his neck.

 

Fuck. He really had to be more careful.

 

It was just so... easy--too easy--to let his guard down around Jungkook. Even now, his own reactions still caught him by surprise. Yoongi knew that if any other alpha had done the same thing as Jungkook had just done, his reaction would have been entirely different--knew that he would've felt uncomfortable, trapped. Panicked, even.

 

But that... that hadn’t been what he’d felt, just then. Not at all.

 

He recovered himself, glaring at Jungkook. He was giggling now, looking far too pleased with himself. “What’s so funny?” Yoongi demanded.

 

“Nothing...” Jungkook appeared to be attempting to compose himself--but failing miserably. He started giggling again. “Nothing, hyung... it’s just--”

 

“What?”

 

“You reminded me of this one time I picked up my grandma’s cat--”

 

“Your... fucking--your grandma’s cat--” This time, it was Jungkook’s turn to dart out of the way as Yoongi swiped at him, outraged.

 

Jungkook backed up, arms raised, still grinning. “Nice kitty...” he managed, before collapsing into laughter again.

 

Yoongi smacked him lightly upside the head. “I’m not a fucking cat,” he said, curtly, before continuing to walk, leaving Jungkook behind him, still struggling to catch his breath.

 

A minute or so later, Jungkook appeared beside him again. “Sorry, hyung. That I... said you reminded me of my grandma’s cat.” He sounded as if he was trying not to laugh.

 

Yoongi huffed quietly, still staring down at the phone he’d pulled out of his pocket. He wasn’t giving in that easily.

 

“Oh, okay... are you not speaking to me now?”

 

Yoongi pointedly ignored him, staring harder at the screen of his phone.

 

“I really am sorry...” Jungkook continued. “I’ll make it up to you. I’ll buy you--”

 

Yoongi looked up sharply at that. “I don’t want you to buy me anything else, Jungkook-ah.”

 

Jungkook grinned. “Okay, hyung.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes narrowed. The little--he’d done that on purpose.

 

“So... you do forgive me?” Jungkook was giving him an approximation of that sad, kicked puppy look--though Yoongi could see the amusement in his eyes.

 

He huffed. He considered saying no--but. Well. Who was he kidding? “Yes. Fine," he said, shortly, "I forgive you.”

 

“Good.” Jungkook sounded pleased.

 

They walked in silence for a few moments. And then Jungkook spoke again.

 

“I bet if you were a cat, though, you’d be a really cute one--all tiny and fluffy--”

 

“Jungkook-ah! Shut the fuck up!”

 

 

*

 

 

 

“Hi, Yoong-ssi!”

 

Yoongi looked up from the table he was clearing to see Lisa grinning brightly at him. She looked particularly cheerful this morning, he thought. Which was really saying something, for her.

 

“You look cute today," she told him, as she reached over, helping him load the cups and plates onto the tray. "That color looks really pretty with your hair.”

 

"Hm?" Yoongi murmured, distracted. "Oh... thanks." He spared a glance down at the uniform he'd grabbed off the rack that morning-- the dress was a pale, powder blue, made of some sort of silky fabric. It wasn't so bad, he supposed--even if it featured what he considered an entirely unnecessary amount of ruffles. At least it was comfortable--quite a few of the uniforms featured the kind of cheap lace which seemed to get progressively more itchy the longer it was worn. “Not as cute as you,” he added, after a moment, glancing at Lisa. She was pretty much the definition of adorable in her pink-and-white ensemble.

 

Lisa grinned. “Aw, you’re so sweet! Let’s agree we’re both cute, okay?” 

 

Yoongi felt a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “Sure,” he agreed, amused. He always enjoyed being on the same shifts with Lisa, despite the fact that her relentlessly peppy, upbeat attitude couldn’t have been further from his own.

 

“Oh! I almost forgot, you got a package!”

 

Yoongi stifled a groan. “Really? Another one?”

 

Lisa laughed. “Wow, don’t get too excited.”

 

Somewhat reluctantly, Yoongi followed her over to the counter. He supposed it would have been too much to hope for the mystery gift giver to have given up by now.

 

No such luck. The very first day he'd returned to work, after arriving back in the city at beginning of the winter break, there had been a package waiting for him at the desk. Yoongi's jaw had dropped when he'd opened the box to see the new Beats wireless headphones, the same ones he'd been eyeing the past couple of months. 

 

He'd found himself somewhat relieved when the next package to arrive contained nothing but a stainless steel coffee thermos, seeming almost modest compared to everything else. Had hoped that whoever was sending the gifts would maybe just... chill out, at least for a bit.

 

But, of course, that hadn't happened. Over the following weeks, he'd received what felt like endless packages and parcels stamped with the logos of various high-end stores and designers. Yoongi had declined to be told any of the prices Lisa had looked up on her phone, deciding that he really didn't want to know.

 

It all seemed completely over the top to him. And what was even worse was that... well, he just hadn’t had the heart to resign it all to his back of his closet or the bottom of a drawer. (Besides... if it was Donghyun--or one of the other customers--who was sending the gifts, he reasoned, they only ever saw Yoongi at the cafe. So they'd have no way of knowing.)

 

Whoever it was, Yoongi had to admit that they seemed to have put some thought into choosing things that were--for lack of a better word, practical. Even the clothes. Especially the clothes--which had turned out to be an assortment of oversized, cozy sweaters and shirts, lightweight, warm flannels--even several pairs of thick wool socks. They weren't dissimilar in style to a lot of the stuff he already had in his closet--even if his own clothes almost all been bought on sale, or in discount and thrift stores (and none of his socks were cashmere, either).

 

Lisa was rooting around under the counter. “Here it is!” The box she’d pulled out was sizeable, and Yoongi eyed it suspiciously.

 

Lisa bounced on the balls of her feet as she watched him run a pair of scissors across the tape securing the top of the box and pull it open.

 

“Ooh...” she peered inside excitedly. “Cool!”

 

They both stared at the startling array of brightly colored bottles and tubes inside. It looked like someone had hit up the bath and body section of a department store and come away with a haul any YouTube beauty guru would be proud of.

 

Lisa reached inside, grabbing a fancy glass bottle and pulling out the stopper. “Mm, that's really nice! Here...” she held the bottle under his nose.

 

Yoongi sniffed. He had to admit, it did smell good. “What is it?” He asked, curious despite himself.

 

Lisa turned the bottle around to read the label. “This says it’s a bath and shower oil. Oh, look, there’s more of them...” she put the first bottle to one side, immediately distracted as she continued to root through the box. “Oh! I’ve heard of this conditioner, PONY recommended it in her last video...” she continued chattering, handing Yoongi a sleek black bottle with gold lettering.

 

Yoongi sighed as she continued to pull out seemingly endless items, placing them on the counter. God, this was way too much. Still, he supposed he couldn’t expect anything less at this point.

 

“We really need to get back...” he tried, “Sungho’s probably lurking around somewhere.”

 

“He’s been in his office all morning,” Lisa replied distractedly, barely sparing him a glance, “mm, this smells amazing.”

 

“Come on,” Yoongi insisted, taking the scented candle she’d just shoved under his nose and putting it back in the box, continuing to pack up the rest of the items littered around, crouching down to find a space for the box on the shelf under the counter. “If you like any of that stuff, you can take it,” he added, as he stood.

 

“Really?” Lisa’s eyes went wide. But then she shook her head. “Oh, but, no... I can’t. They’re your presents.”

 

Yoongi shrugged, turning back to head for tables they’d been in the middle of clearing. “I don’t mind.”

 

Lisa followed, nibbling her lower lip, looking torn. “Well... maybe I could take a couple of things...”

 

“Take whatever you want.”

 

Yoongi could admit some of the stuff looked appealing--he’d always had a weakness for fancy, nice smelling bath products, one he hardly ever indulged, usually making do with whatever cheap body wash was on offer that week. But still. He didn’t need it.

 

“I’m only taking like, one or two,” Lisa insisted. “They’re for you, not me.” She sighed, pausing in the middle of stacking plates. “I wish I had a secret admirer.”

 

Yoongi snorted, glancing sideways at her. “Customers give you gifts all the time.”

 

“Yeah, but... not cool stuff like this. Like, flowers and candy and stuff...”

 

“They sent flowers and candy, too,” Yoongi pointed out. It was true--last week, he’d received an extravagant flower arrangement and a box of expensive chocolates. He’d ended up leaving the chocolates in the staffroom for the others, since they were far too sweet for his taste, and he’d handed off the flowers to Irene, since he didn’t have much use for them, either. It had almost been a relief, actually, to have finally gotten a gift he didn’t particularly want, and therefore didn’t have to feel conflicted about keeping. “I just... I don’t get it,” he murmured, “if they’re spending all this money, wouldn’t they want me to know who they are? What are they even getting out of this?” 

 

Lisa shrugged. “Maybe they don’t want anything out of it. Maybe they just like giving you presents.”

 

“Sure...” Yoongi muttered, skeptically.

 

“Yoongi-ssi!” They both looked up to see Joy, balancing two trays. Yoongi reached out to help her, but she shook her head. “No, I’m fine! Table four requested you,” she added, indicating the table in question with a nod of her head.

 

Yoongi glanced over, expecting to see one of his regulars--god, please not Donghyun--his brows knitting in confusion when he saw what looked to be a couple of college-aged girls. “Alright, sure... you okay to finish up here?” He asked Lisa, who nodded.

 

He headed over to the table, still confused, wondering if he knew them from class--otherwise, why would they have requested him? He could only make out one of the girls’ faces--her companion was facing the window--and he didn’t recognize her.

 

“Hi, welcome to The Cookie Jar, my name is Min Yoongi...”

 

“Hi!” The first girl greeted cheerfully, looking up from her menu.

 

“I’ll be your server today...” he trailed off as the second girl looked up. It took him a moment to place her face, strangely familiar--and then he realized. It was the girl from the espresso bar. Jungkook’s ex-FWB. J... something? Jiwoo? No... Jisoo.

 

Unlike her friend, she offered no greeting, instead looking him up and down in a decidedly unimpressed manner.

 

“Are you ready to order?” He asked, doing his best to ignore the way she was regarding him as if he was something she’d just discovered stuck to the bottom of her shoe.

 

She didn’t acknowledge his question. “So... you work here?” She asked, and Yoongi found himself grudgingly impressed by the amount of condescension she managed to inject into the four seemingly innocuous words.

 

No, I just get a kick out of dressing up in ridiculous outfits and serving overpriced tea and pastries to creepy old men, Yoongi resisted the urge to reply. Instead, he simply nodded, shortly. “Yes.”

 

“I see,” she said, sounding satisfied, for some reason. Then, without missing a beat. “You do realize Jungkook doesn’t care about you at all, right?”

 

Yoongi stared at her. “... What?”

 

“I mean, he lets you work in this place, doesn’t he?”

 

“He doesn't let me--" Yoongi began.

 

But Jisoo wasn't finished. "You probably think you’re so special," she murmured, "but trust me, you mean nothing to him."

 

Yoongi started to shake his head, beginning to realize where this was going. He'd been right when he'd told Jungkook yesterday she'd probably thought they were on a date. Actually--it seemed like it was more than even that. It seemed like she thought Jungkook was his alpha. “You don’t know what you’re talking about--”

 

“Neither do you,” Jisoo said primly. “I mean, I'm sure you know how wealthy his family are, that can't have escaped your notice. But that--that's nothing special, not in the kind of circles people like Jungkook and I grew up in. The Jeons, though--they're old money. And that means something. They have connections in places you probably haven't even heard of." She sniffed. "I wouldn't expect someone like you to understand. But either way, you must realize that his father's company is worth billions--and Jungkook’s set to inherit all of it. And you’re...” her nose wrinkled, “what? Working here?"

  

Yoongi gaped at her, momentarily at a loss for words (or, at least--not ones that would be appropriate to speak to someone who was technically a paying customer). Glancing at her friend, he noticed her gaze darting between the two of them in dismay.

 

“I mean, what has someone like you even got to offer him?” Jisoo finished. Her tone had softened now, but in a way that Yoongi found he didn't like. She sounded almost pitying. “Face it," she murmured, "he’s slumming it with you, and it’s never going to last.”

 

“Jisoo unnie!” Her friend cut in. She looked horrified. “This is why you wanted to come here? I told you, you should stay out of--”

 

“I’m just telling him the truth,” Jisoo replied with a little shrug. “Someone has to.”

 

“You’re jealous!” Her friend hissed. “Just because Jungkook finally settles down with someone and it’s not you--”

 

Jisoo scoffed. “I’m not jealous. I mean, I don’t understand why out of everyone--” she cut herself off. “Anyway. He should know the truth,” she insisted.

 

“You don’t even know if that is the truth! I mean, you know Jungkook, do you really think he’d--”

 

“Look,” Yoongi interjected, sharply, “you’ve got the wrong idea. Jungkook and I--we’re not together.”

 

Jisoo gave a tiny snort. “Right...”

 

“We’re not,” Yoongi insisted. “There’s nothing going on between us. I don’t even date alphas. I’m not... I’m not interested in him in that way,” he finished, firmly. Of course, the reality was more complicated than that (more complicated, and more confusing). But he certainly wasn’t going to be sharing that with this girl, of all people.  He would’ve added that he wasn’t the slightest bit interested in Jungkook’s money, either--since it was pretty obvious that’s what she’d been implying--but he was sure she wouldn’t believe him. Besides, it really wasn’t any of her business.

 

Jisoo’s eyes widened a little. She looked surprised. “You don’t--Oh. Oh, I... I see. So you’re a... challenge.” She nodded to herself. “That explains it, I suppose.”

 

Yoongi swallowed, suddenly feeling faintly nauseous. “No. I’m not... I’m not anything. We’re just friends.”

 

Her friend looked confused. “Really? You’re not... oh, but--”

 

“Stop it! Let me go!”

 

They all looked up at the shout that rang through the air, shrill and slightly panicked. The voice was familiar, and Yoongi turned to see Lisa, a couple of tables over. She was struggling to pull away from an alpha, his hand  wrapped around her wrist in what looked like a bruising grip. His other hand  had disappeared underneath her skirt.

 

Yoongi saw red. Without thinking about it, he spun on his heel, crossing the floor in a few brief seconds. “Get away from her,” he snapped, grabbing the alpha by the wrist yanking his arm forcibly away.

 

“Hey, what--what the fuck--” the alpha sputtered, rubbing his wrist, surprise flickering over his features.

 

“Keep your hands to yourself,” Yoongi bit out.

 

The alpha narrowed his eyes. Yoongi couldn’t help but notice they were slightly bloodshot--and that he didn’t look entirely sober. “Back off, blondie. I was just being friendly.”

 

Yoongi let out a little growl. “Like hell you were.” He felt his hands clenching into fists, the dull pain of his nails digging into his palms. He grit his teeth. Punching a customer in the face was not a good idea, he reminded himself. Even a fucking asshole like this one. He blew out a breath, turning to face Lisa. “Are you okay?”

 

She nodded, a little shakily. “Y-yes, I’m fine,” she said, but her voice was uncharacteristically muted, and she was blinking back tears.

 

“Come on,” Yoongi said, quietly, “let’s go back to the--”

 

He didn’t get to finish his sentence before Sungho had appeared at their side, a deep frown etched on his face. “What’s going on here?” He asked suspiciously.

 

Yoongi opened his mouth to speak, but the alpha got there first. “The girl just got a little upset, is all,” he told Sungho. “I don’t know if it’s something I said...”

 

Yoongi gaped at him, outraged. “You’re a fucking liar! You--”

 

“Yoongi-ssi!” Sungho reprimanded sharply, glaring at him.

 

“He is,” Yoongi insisted. “Sungho-him, he groped her.”

 

The alpha was shaking his head. “Now, you’re just making that up,” he said, tone condescending. “Look,” he added, addressing Sungho now, “Manager-nim, I’m sorry if I said something that upset her... you know omegas can be a little... emotional--”

 

“You put your fucking hand up her skirt! That’s why she’s upset,” Yoongi hissed, barely caring if he was about to get fired for swearing at a customer in front of his boss--twice.

 

Sungho looked between Yoongi and the alpha, and then at Lisa, who was crying now, sniffling quietly. Yoongi reached over and grabbed a clean napkin off one of the tables, handing it to her.

 

“Sir...” Sungho began, looking a little reluctant, “I must inform you we strictly uphold a no touching policy in this establishment...”

 

Yoongi resisted the urge to snort. Strictly uphold was a very fucking generous way of putting it.

 

“I didn’t lay a hand on her,” the alpha insisted, eyes wide with a mock innocence which Yoongi personally thought looked utterly unconvincing. Unfortunately, however, he’d seen this sort of routine work countless times before, with other customers who’d crossed the line just like this one had. 

 

He glanced around, looking for someone who could corroborate their story. He didn’t care if this was a lost cause--or even if it ended up getting him fired. He wasn’t letting this go without a fight.

 

But though quite a few customers were looking over at them now, he wasn’t sure if they’d been watching the whole time.

 

His eyes fell on Jisoo and her friend. They were only two tables over. He was sure they must have been watching. “They saw what happened,” he said, pointing over at them.

 

Sungho turned to them. “Is that true?” He asked.

 

Yoongi was surprised when it was Jisoo who spoke first. “Yes,” she gave a brief nod, “he’s right. That man was groping her. We both saw it. He was completely out of line."

 

Her friend was nodding vigorously. “It’s true.” A couple of other nearby customers murmured in agreement. 

 

“See?” Yoongi turned back to Sungho. “I told you.” He didn’t miss the way the alpha’s gaze snapped back to him, eyes hardening, a nasty expression flitting across his face for a moment before Sungho’s gaze returned to him and his features smoothed over.

 

Sungho looked conflicted, eyes flickering again from the alpha to Yoongi and Lisa, pale and tearful, dabbing at her eyes with the napkin. He looked back to Jisoo and her friend, both of whom were watching him expectantly now. Yoongi could see his gaze lingering on the diamond tennis bracelet glinting on Jisoo’s wrist, the designer purses slung over the sides of their chairs.

 

He turned back to the alpha. “Sir, we can’t allow that kind of behavior in here. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

 

The alpha sputtered. “I told you, I didn’t touch her!”

 

“There are several witnesses here who say that you did.”

 

The alpha sputtered. “They’re--they’re goddamn liars, the lot of them!” He snarled. “And you! You’re an idiot for believing them!”

 

Sungho bristled. “Sir, you need to leave. Now.” His tone had sharpened noticeably, patience evidently wearing thin now that the alpha’s aggression had turned on him.

 

“Fine!” The alpha snapped, chair screeching as he pushed it violently away from the table and stood. “I won’t stand for being treated in this manner. I hope you’re happy, because you’ve just lost a customer. I won’t be coming back here.”

 

“Please see that you don’t,” Sungho said, curtly, “you’re no longer welcome in this establishment.”

 

The alpha turned, muttering under his breath as he headed for the door, slamming it behind him so hard the glass rattled in the frame.

 

There was a long silence as they all stared after him. Yoongi was the first to look away, back to Lisa, who still looked shaken. He put his arm around her. “I’m taking her back to the staffroom,” he informed Sungho, without looking at him. He was well aware he might just have cost himself his job, but he was still too furious to care.

 

Sungho just nodded. “Yes, that’s fine.”

 

Yoongi could feel the eyes of all of the customers and staff on them as he led Lisa away from the table, towards the back.

 

Once the door had swung shut behind them, Lisa turned to him with sob, throwing her arms around him and burying her face in his neck.

 

“Hey...” he murmured, arms coming up after a moment to return the hug, “hey, it’s okay.”

 

“Yoongi oppa...” she whispered, “I-I’m s-sorry...”

 

Yoongi blinked down at her in surprise, both at her apology and the unexpected honorific. Lisa didn't usually call him that.  All the staff members at the cafe tended to be pretty relaxed when it came to addressing each other--not that he minded. It didn’t bother him the way it did when alphas or even betas several years his junior casually dispensed with them. 

 

He shook his head. "You've got nothing to be sorry for, Lisa-yah."

 

Lisa pulled back, wiping at her eyes. “I’m s-sorry that I... that I f-freaked out like that. It’s just--that’s never happened to me before, and I--I d-didn’t--h-he wouldn’t let go--”

 

"It's okay--" Yoongi tried to assure her.

 

“No, it’s not!" Lisa burst out, "I o-overreacted and you had to get i-involved and now you might get fired b-because of me!”

 

“You didn’t overreact,” Yoongi said, firmly. “That... that piece of shit had no right--” he cut himself off, feeling the anger rise again, bitter and sharp, prickling at his skin.

 

“I know,” Lisa said, softly. "But you... oh, Yoongi," she whispered, "you shouldn’t have spoken to him like that.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“You--you made him really angry, getting him kicked out..."

 

“What else was I supposed to do?” Yoongi frowned.

 

Lisa was chewing her lip. “I... I don’t know,” she admitted, shoulders slumping. “I... I’m sorry, I just... he was so mad, I could see it in his eyes, how he was looking at us--at you--when Sungho-nim told him to leave...”

 

“He’s just not used to his actions having consequences,” Yoongi muttered. Then he sighed. “But you really don’t need to apologize. You didn't do anything wrong."

 

They were interrupted as the door of the staffroom was pushed open, revealing Sungho hovering in the doorway. “I... just came to see how you were,” he said, gruffly, addressing Lisa.

 

“I-I’m fine, Sungho-nim,” she assured him, wiping at her eyes. “I... I’ll just fix my make-up and then I’ll be right out--”

 

Sungho was shaking his head. “No, that’s--that’s not necessary. You can go home.”

 

“Oh, thank you...” Lisa murmured, sounding surprised. Yoongi felt her glance at him. “Sungho-nim...” she continued, her tone beseeching now, “please don’t punish Yoongi for--for what happened out there. He was just looking out for me...”

 

There was a pause. Then Sungho gave her a brief nod. “I know. It’s alright. You can both go home.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened slightly. He hadn’t expected that.

 

“I’ll see you for your shift tomorrow, Yoongi-ssi,” Sungho added, sparing him a quick glance.

 

Yoongi inclined his head in response. “Thank you...” he managed to force out. He was relieved he hadn’t been fired, and that were both being allowed to leave--but even so, what Sungho had done was still really only the bare minimum. And far more than he would have for any of the other staff members. Lisa was the only one of them Sungho ever showed a barest semblance of kindness.

 

Yoongi supposed he could understand it, in a way. Lisa was... well, she was like everyone’s little sister--she was younger than the rest of them, for a start, just eighteen. Yoongi knew she’d only taken the job to help support her mother and younger brother, to help pay for her college bills.

 

She didn’t deserve this, he thought, bitterly. 

 

Not for the first time, he allowed himself to imagine telling Sungho a final, well deserved fuck you, walking straight out the door, and never looking back.  He could almost see it, the image crystal clear in his mind. But... equally as clear were the corresponding mental images of his bank statements, rent and electricity and food bills.

 

It was an all too familiar conflict. His pride, his self-respect, butting up against cold, unforgiving reality. The reality of needing to support himself--of being able to live independently, without anyone telling him what he could and couldn’t do.

 

Everything came with a price. And this was his.

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi waited while Lisa changed and attempted to fix her smudged make-up--finally just giving up and taking it off.

 

He walked her to the bus stop--he’d offered to take her home, but she’d insisted she was fine--and waited with her until her bus arrived. As it pulled up to the kerb, Lisa turned to him, hugging him tightly. “Thank you,” she whispered, “you’re the best, Yoongi oppa, did anyone ever tell you that?”

 

Yoongi huffed out a quiet laugh. “I only did what anyone else would have done.”

 

Lisa shook her head with a small smile. “That’s not true.”

 

He waited until the bus departed, then turned and headed for the stop across the road, where he could catch his own bus into campus. He wouldn’t have minded going home himself--but he had a shift at the coffee shop in a little over an hour, so there wasn’t much point.

 

He waited around for a while before deciding to just start his shift early. It was about two o’clock, the tail end of the lunch rush, and it didn’t seem fair sitting in the back scrolling boredly through this phone while Taehyung was rushed off his feet out front. They were down a few staff members, other students who’d gone home over the winter break, and even with the temporary holiday staff their manager had hired they were shorthanded.

 

Taehyung looked surprised to see him, but they didn’t have much of a chance to talk until the coffee shop had hit its usual mid-afternoon lull.

 

“Did Minho change your shift?” He asked, referring to their manager, as he began loading cups and plates into the dishwasher.

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No. Got let off early.”

 

Taehyung’s brows knitted. “Really?” He asked, confused. Though Yoongi was always careful to be fairly... economical, with the details of his job at The Cookie Jar, and made sure he kept the worse experiences he’d had with customers to himself entirely, he hadn’t been able to stop himself from complaining to his friends about Sungho--enough that Taehyung knew being let off early would be highly unusual. “Why?” He looked worried. “Did... did something happen, hyung? Are you okay?”

 

Yoongi hesitated. He shook his head. “No, I’m fine. Nothing happened. I mean, well... not to me. It was Lisa.” Somewhat reluctantly, he gave Taehyung a brief rundown of what had happened with Lisa and the alpha.

 

Taehyung’s face fell. “Hyung...” he said, softly, forehead creased in concern. Shit. He sounded upset now. Yoongi had thought it would be alright, telling him about what had happened, since the incident hadn’t involved him directly--not really, anyway. But judging by the look on Taehyung’s face, the beta seemed to have guessed--correctly--that it was far from a one off, that Yoongi had probably had much the same thing happen to him.

 

“Yeah, I know,” he murmured, averting his gaze, busying himself with wiping down the espresso machine. “But I... I need this job, Tae. For the time being, anyway. At least until I graduate, and I can start working full time.”

 

He risked a glance over at Taehyung to see the beta was chewing his lip, watching Yoongi. “You know...” he started, and Yoongi felt himself tense slightly, not liking the beta’s tone, or the look on his face, “if you ever--I mean, if you needed money, Jungkook would--”

 

No!” Yoongi couldn’t stop himself snapping, feeling a little guilty at the way the corners of Taehyung’s mouth turned down.

 

“I know, but--what if it was just a loan--you could pay him back--”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No... Tae, no,” he repeated, softer now, though still firm. “I’m not... I couldn’t ask that of him. I couldn’t--”

 

“But he wouldn’t mind!” Taehyung burst out, interrupting him. “He’d be happy to help you, hyung!”

 

Yoongi sighed. “He’d be happy to help any of us, Taehyung-ah. But that doesn’t mean it’s fair to ask. I mean... would you? Ask him for money?”

 

Taehyung hesitated for a moment. “You know what... yeah, I would,” he said, finally, nodding decisively. “If I really needed it. And, anyway, it’s not the same...”

 

Yoongi frowned. “How is it not the same?”

 

Taehyung stared at him for a moment. He opened his mouth, then closed it again. “I... I guess it is,” he said, though he sounded a little grudging.

 

Yoongi shook his head again, bemused now. “Yeah, it is. And besides, I don’t need it. I earn enough to support myself. So it’s fine. I’m fine. End of conversation,” he added, giving Taehyung a meaningful look. Taehyung looked very much like he wanted to disagree. Yoongi huffed. “Look... it all worked out today, anyway. That alpha is banned from the cafe now, so he won’t be coming back.”

 

Taehyung was still looking decidedly skeptical. Then he frowned. “Your boss actually banned him? I thought he never did that?”

 

“Mm. Well... he does, sometimes. Not often,” Yoongi admitted, “but... a couple of other customers backed us up.”

 

Taehyung looked faintly surprised. “Really? Other alphas?”

 

“No. Uh... well, it was these two omega girls. Jungkook knows them, actually... I guess one of them is his ex, or something.”

 

“His ex?” Taehyung asked, looking confused. “Who are you talking about?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “I don’t know. Some girl in his year.”

 

Taehyung shook his head. “That can’t be right. Jungkookie hasn’t dated anyone in ages. Not since that horrible girl in high school--y’know, the one who sold those pictures of him to the papers after they broke up.”

 

“No, I know, I didn’t mean...” Yoongi began, shaking his head--then trailed off as he processed Taehyung’s words, “wait, what? What girl?”

 

Taehyung’s eyes widened slightly. “Oh... uh. Did he... didn’t he tell you?”

 

“No. He didn’t. What do you mean, sold what pictures to the papers?”

 

Taehyung was looking guilty now. “Oh. I thought he would’ve mentioned it.”

 

Now that he thought about it, Yoongi could recall Jungkook mentioning a girlfriend in high school--that they’d begun dating shortly after he’d first presented. He hadn’t gone into any detail about it, though. Yoongi had thought there simply wasn’t much too tell. But apparently, that wasn’t the case.

 

“Well, he didn’t,” Yoongi repeated, frowning. “What happened?”

 

“I probably shouldn’t...” Taehyung began, looking doubtful.

 

Yoongi’s frown deepened. “It... it was that bad?”

 

Taehyung shook his head, slowly. “No... no, it wasn’t that bad. Or--at least, it could've been worse, I guess."

 

“So...” Yoongi prompted, when he didn’t continue. “What happened? What did she do?”

 

“Well...” Taehyung said, still sounding a little reluctant, “to be honest, Jungkookie really didn’t tell me that much about it. He just said they were dating for a while, since the end of his sophomore year.” Yoongi nodded. That much he knew. “But then... well, you know Kookie's dad wanted him to study abroad, apply for a bunch of Ivy League universities in America. And I guess she wasn't really keen on him doing that. She wanted him to stay here, to apply to the same ones as her."

 

"Oh. What... what did Jungkook want to do?" Yoongi asked. 

 

Taehyung shrugged. "I don't know, really. I mean, you know Jungkookie--he just wants everyone to be happy. So he was just kind of... stuck in the middle, I guess--he couldn't please both of them. In the end, apparently she gave him an ultimatum--told him that if he listened to his dad and not her, it was over between them." His brows furrowed. "But, I mean... it's not like Kookie really had much of a choice. You know what his dad's like..."

  

"I know," Yoongi murmured. Though he'd never met the man, he couldn't say he liked him much.

 

"Yeah. He's... not exactly the kind of person who takes no for an answer. But... neither was she, I guess, 'cause when Jungkookie ended up accepting a place at Princeton, like his dad wanted, she broke up with him. And as if that wasn't bad enough, a couple of weeks later, this story appeared in some tabloid, with all these photos of Kookie drinking--at parties or whatever--when he was still underage."

 

"How did Jungkook know it was her?" 

 

"Well, apparently some of the photos were from his Instagram, which is private, but some of them had never even been posted. They were ones he remembered her taking, when they'd been together."

 

Yoongi swallowed. "That's... so, what, she did it because she was mad at him?" He asked, frowning. He couldn't imagine doing something like that to someone he cared about--no matter how angry he might have been.

 

Taehyung shrugged. "I guess so. I mean, I'm sure they paid her quite a bit for the photos, too. Not that she needed the money.  The story never made it out of a couple of tabloids, though. His dad made sure it never got picked up by any of the papers he owns, or has connections to. Which is quite a lot them.”

 

Yoongi's brows raised. “I can’t imagine he was very pleased about having to do that."

 

“No, I don’t think he was,” Taehyung said. He shook his head. “It was stupid, anyway, in the most of the photos Kookie only had a beer. But there were all these anonymous quotes--they must've come from her--that made it sound way worse than it was, all this stuff about crazy rich kids and wild parties, drugs, whatever.”

 

He was scowling now--it wasn’t an expression Yoongi was used to seeing on him. Taehyung didn’t get mad easily. But he was protective of his friends, almost to a fault. Always so quick to jump to their defense.

 

Of all of them (at least--until Jungkook) Taehyung had always been the one Yoongi had tried the hardest to shield from certain aspects of his life, whether they be bad experiences at work, or things that had happened to him in the past. He felt almost guilty, sometimes, for holding back with the beta, more so than he did with the others--even with Jimin, since Jimin was an omega, too, and he understood, more than any of them, what it could be like.

 

“Is that why Jungkook doesn’t date?” The question slipped out almost without his permission--and though he tried to sound casual, he wasn’t entirely sure he’d been successful. He avoided Taehyung’s gaze, turning back to the espresso machine, hoping the beta couldn’t see the flush he could feel rising to his cheeks.

 

He glanced back at Taehyung in time to see a strange look pass over his face, one he couldn’t quite decipher. “I... I dunno,” Taehyung murmured, “I, um. I don’t think so, though.” There was a pause. “Hey, hyung,” he started, “d’you think...”

 

“Hello? I’d like an Americano, please!”

 

They both turned to see a businessman standing over by the cash register, drumming his fingers on the counter impatiently. There was already a queue forming behind him, a sign that the brief post-lunchtime reprieve was nearing its end.

 

It was much later in the evening when, sat on the couch with his laptop in the middle of replying to a few ads he'd seen posted about freelance producing work, Yoongi found himself pulling up a new tab. 

 

He hesitated for a moment, fingers hovering over the keys before he began typing in the box of the search engine.

 

He clicked on the first link, the vaguely familiar, bright pink logo of a celebrity gossip magazine appearing. Yoongi scrolled down to the article underneath.

 

Jeon Corp Heir In Drink And Drugs SCANDAL! The headline proclaimed. We have the inside story and exclusive, SHOCKING pictures!

 

Underneath was a photo of Jungkook grinning brightly with his arm around a girl. Next to them was another boy. Both of their faces were blurred. On the table just in front of them was an array of bottles of half empty glasses.

 

Jungkook looked noticeably younger--traces of baby fat still lingering in his cheeks, his jawline, heavy, dark bangs falling over his forehead. His smile, however, was just the same, and Yoongi felt the corners of his own mouth lift as if in response.

 

It quickly turned to a frown as he scanned the rest of the article, and the other photos--it was just as Taehyung had said, in most Jungkook was only holding a bottle of beer--and in one a glass with a clear liquid, probably a mixer of some kind. Hardly the scandal the headline was declaring. But the article itself hinted at worse behavior--describing Jungkook as “out of control”, a “party boy heir on a downward spiral”--padded with multiple quotes from anonymous sources backing up their bullshit story.

 

And it was bullshit. Yoongi didn't believe even for a second that a word of it was true.

 

It made him feel strangely sad, somehow, to see this younger version of Jungkook, smiling and laughing, looking so happy, not having the slightest clue that he was going to end up plastered across the pages of a gossip magazine.

 

His eyes fell on a smaller picture further down the page--a school portrait of Jungkook in his uniform with a rather unflattering haircut. He looked even younger than he did in the other pictures, no more than maybe thirteen or fourteen. He was smiling widely, prominent front teeth on full display. There was a hint of acne around his jawline. 

 

Recalling a conversation from months ago, Yoongi thought, a little amused despite himself, that this must have been during the awkward phase Jungkook had mentioned. 

 

His amusement faded and he bit his lip, feeling suddenly guilty as he remembered how Jungkook had seemed embarrassed, hadn’t wanted Yoongi to see any pictures of him from back then.

 

He’d let his curiosity get the better of him, and now that it was more or less satisfied, he found himself feeling a little ashamed. What gave him the right to pry into Jungkook’s past like this? If Jungkook had wanted Yoongi to know any of this, he’d have told him. But he hadn’t. (And, if he was honest, the thought of that stung, just a little.)

 

Stop it, he told himself, firmly. This is pathetic. Jungkook doesn’t have to tell you every single detail about his life. So just... stop it.

 

He exited the tab and snapped his laptop closed with perhaps more force than necessary. 

 

On his way to the bathroom, he paused in the hall, finding himself eyeing the box he’d brought back from the cafe, the latest set of gifts. He stopped, bending down to search through the items inside, pulling out the bath and shower oil and one of the scented candles.

 

He stayed in the shower long enough that the water began to run cold--not that it took all that long, the building’s plumbing was temperamental at best--and made his way slowly through his skincare routine, the repetitive actions calming, serving as a distraction from the thoughts still lingering in the back of his mind.

 

Retrieving his laptop from the couch, he headed into the bedroom, lighting the candle and setting it on the nightstand. He was midway through the opening credits of a drama when his gaze fell on the basket of laundry that sat in the corner of the room. Folded neatly on the top was a very familiar black hoodie.

 

Refusing to think too deeply about what he was doing, he rolled out of bed and shuffled across the floor, retrieving the hoodie and pulling it on before climbing back into bed. It was cold in the apartment, he told himself--a hint of the mid-January chill outside filtering in through the thin windowpane and settling into the air of the bedroom.

 

(Never mind that he had plenty of sweaters and hoodies himself, none of which belonged to a certain alpha. It had been through the wash now, though, so it no longer smelled so much like him. Still, he thought he could still catch a hint of lingering scent. Or maybe he was just imagining things.)

 

It wasn’t long before the day caught up with him, and he hadn’t even made it to the end of the episode before he was half asleep--barely mustering the energy to blow out the candle and climb under the covers before passing out.

 

 

*

 

 

The following day was a Friday, a rare day off from both work and classes--which didn't begin again until the following week--and it was early afternoon by the time Yoongi found himself at Namjoon, Jin and Hoseok's front door.

 

It swung open to reveal Namjoon, and Yoongi blinked in surprise as his eyes caught on the alpha's hair.

 

“Hi, Yoongi hyung!” 

 

 Yoongi murmured a greeting in reply, still distracted by the fact that Namjoon's hair was now a deep purple, rather than the blond it had been when they’d last seen each other.

 

“Come in!” Namjoon gestured him inside. Then, noticing Yoongi’s gaze, he added, “Oh, do you like it? Jimin-ah dyed it for me when he came to visit over the break.”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Yeah, I like it. Suits you.”

 

He followed Namjoon down the hall, unsurprised when Jimin emerged less than five minutes later. The mess in the living room was a dead giveaway, the kind of clutter that seemed to spontaneously materialize every time Namjoon and Jimin shared a space, particularly when--as was currently the case--there was no one around to either pick up after them, or nag them into doing it themselves. Yoongi was pretty sure Hoseok wasn’t going to be too happy when he arrived home the next day.

 

“Hi, hyung!” Jimin said brightly. “What do you think of Joonie’s hair? He finally let me do it!” Taehyung had been letting Jimin experiment on him for years--Yoongi was pretty sure the beta’s hair had been every single color of the rainbow, at this point. "Doesn't it look really good on him?"

 

"It does," Yoongi agreed.

 

Jimin beamed--and then eyed Yoongi with a speculative expression. “You should let me do yours! I bet you’d really suit green... or maybe pink--”

 

Yoongi was already shaking his head. “I’m not letting you dye my hair pink, Jimin-ah.”

 

Jimin pouted slightly. “Oh, but I think it’d look great on you!” He continued, Yoongi’s unimpressed look not seeming to dampen his enthusiasm in the slightest. “Well... how about green, then? Like a light one? Mint green?” He asked, bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet. “C’mon, hyung. Your hair’s already bleached! It’d be really easy to--”

 

“Nope,” Yoongi interrupted. “Not happening. I like my hair the way it is, thank you," he said, firmly.

 

Which was true... more or less. The blond had been something he’d done a while back, mostly out of boredom--but lately Yoongi had been thinking of going back to his natural color. He did like the way it looked, and it’d certainly seemed to be a hit with the customers at the cafe, too--though that wasn’t necessarily a good thing (even if he was pretty sure it got him better tips). Sometimes he felt as if the color attracted too much attention, of precisely the wrong kind.

 

“You’re boring,” Jimin called over his shoulder as he headed into the kitchen--obviously sensing he wasn’t going to get anywhere, at least not for the time being. “Jungkookie won’t let me, either.”

 

“So how long ‘til your hair’s pink, then?” Yoongi asked Namjoon, arching a brow.

 

Namjoon grinned and rolled his eyes--though it looked distinctly fond. “I’d say about a month, give or take.”

 

Yoongi snorted.

 

The conversation moved on to what they’d been up to over the break--spending time with family, visiting Jimin in Busan over the New Year (Namjoon), working and hanging out with Jungkook (Yoongi).

 

“You guys have gotten pretty close, huh?” Namjoon commented.

 

“Uh... yeah. I guess,” Yoongi shrugged.

 

“I wasn’t sure if you liked him very much, at first,” Namjoon mused.

 

Yoongi glanced at him, a little surprised. He hadn’t thought that of any of the others, aside from Taehyung, had picked up on that. “I...” he hesitated. “I kind of misjudged him at first,” he admitted, “I thought he was--well...”

 

“Just another asshole alpha?” Namjoon asked, with a wry arch of his brow.

 

Yoongi let out a soft huff. “Well. Yes,” he admitted. He knew the Namjoon wouldn’t be offended. It was a point of pride with him, that he didn't exactly conform to the way society expected--or perhaps the right word was allowed--alphas to behave. 

 

Sure enough, Namjoon chuckled. “I can’t blame you, I guess. I kind of wondered, when I first met him, too. He was pretty quiet, it was hard to know what to make of him, really. And all those rumors, you know...” his expression turned a little more serious, “I feel bad now, that I ever listened to them.”

 

“I know...” Yoongi murmured. He ignored the little niggle of guilt he felt, as Namjoon’s words reminded him of what he’d been doing the previous evening. Letting his curiosity get the better of him--prying into Jungkook’s past like he had. He sighed, finding himself keen for a change of subject. “So... have you gotten started on your end of year project?” He asked.

 

The project was mandatory for anyone in their last year of the music composition program, as both Namjoon and Yoongi were. The school wasn’t too prescriptive about what could be produced in terms of genre or form--pop songs, classical composition, almost anything went--so long as the creative process was well documented and, ultimately, the collection of songs, classical or instrumental pieces produced was sonically cohesive.

 

Given its intensive nature, initial proposals had been submitted and approved shortly before the winter break, and they had all of their final semester to work on it.

 

It was highly competitive, too, since even aside from the fact that it would amount forty per cent of their grade, the university’s music school was widely recognized as the best in the country, and used as a talent pool by a number of record labels--even some of the bigger ones--looking to recruit producers, composers and songwriters.

 

Namjoon grimaced. “No. I’ve barely even thought about it since we handed in our proposals, to be honest. Have you?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Kind of.”

 

“What d'you mean, kind of?”

 

“I’ve just been playing around a bit, got a few bits and pieces of verses and that kind of thing. Nothing finished, or anything. Well--except for one song.”

 

Namjoon groaned. “Ugh, you’ve finished a song already? Why are you such an overachiever?”

 

Yoongi raised a brow. “Hey, you can talk. And, anyway, that’s what I meant by kind of. I wrote it a while back--but, I think, maybe, with some tweaking here and there...” His brows furrowed. “I’ve been thinking, though... I think I’d like a vocalist on it. Hey, do you think Jimin could lay down some vocals for me? It’d just be a chorus.”

 

Namjoon nodded. “Yeah, of course he would. Jimin-ah,” he raised his voice slightly, “you can record a guide for Yoongs, right?”

 

“Sure thing, hyung!” Jimin called back. A moment later, he emerged. “Just let me know when you’d be ready and we can work something out,” he said, coming to sit on the arm of the couch. He tilted his head. “Or, hey, you could ask Jungkookie! I bet he’d like to do it!”

 

Yoongi gave him a perplexed look. “Jungkook...?”

 

“Yeah! He can sing really well, you know.”

 

Yoongi frowned. “He... can?” He remembered Jungkook saying something about having lessons, when he was younger, and about being in his school’s choir in middle school, but that he’d given up on it not long after that.

 

Jimin nodded. “Uh huh. He’s kind of annoyingly good, considering he’s hardly had any proper training.”

 

Namjoon was nodding enthusiastically now. “Yeah, remember that track I was looking for a vocalist for, last semester--well, Jungkook ended up recording the guide and the final version for me. It turned out really good--he’s a natural. Didn’t I tell you?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No.”

 

“It’s one of my favorites of Joonie’s, for sure,” Jimin added, “I mean, of the ones I didn’t sing on, of course--” he paused, distracted, as his phone began to buzz. “Oh, it’s Tae, I gotta get this--I forgot I was supposed to call him back. You should play it for him, babe!” He added, as he stood.

 

Namjoon was nodding, already scrolling through his phone. “Hm... oh, yeah, here it is.” He pressed play, hitting the volume key a few times as a lilting, slowly rising melody filled the room.

 

Then the vocals kicked in, and Yoongi felt his mouth fall open. The music was something, in and of itself, far more polished now than the version Namjoon had played for him last semester. But the voice--Jungkook’s voice. It was--there was no other word for it--beautiful, blending seamlessly with the melody, giving the song a soft, almost dreamlike quality.

 

“Like it?” Namjoon asked.

 

“It’s...” Yoongi trailed off as the song transitioned into the bridge, just listening for a moment. “It’s... beautiful, Joon-ah,” he managed, finally.

 

A broad smile spread across Namjoon’s face, dimples popping. “I’m glad you think so. I can’t believe you never heard the final version! I really thought I’d played it you at some point. I mean, we usually end up hearing all of each other’s stuff...”

 

Yoongi shook his head. It was true--they played each other tracks all the time--but he was absolutely sure would have remembered this one.

 

They both fell silent as a brief instrumental interlude finished, and the next verse began. Yoongi found himself listening intently. Though it was discernible, to the trained ear, that Jungkook’s voice could have used more formal instruction, Namjoon had been right--he clearly had more than a little raw talent. He couldn’t help but be impressed, in a strictly technical way, with Jungkook’s range, with the emotion infused into his vocals--his voice at turns earnest, sweet, and wistful. (Far less technical and objective, though, was the way it made his chest flutter, his heart beat just a little bit faster.)

 

He only realized that he’d let out a soft sigh when he felt Namjoon glance at him. “I know, right? It’s like... makes you wish he was singing about you.”

 

At that, Yoongi turned his head sharply to look at the alpha, heartbeat kicking up another notch. But Namjoon wasn’t even looking at him, just nodding his head to the beat, a faint smile on his face. He didn’t seem to have meant anything by it.

 

Yoongi cleared his throat. “Ah. Yeah. I...  I know what you mean.”

 

“I think he was definitely the right choice,” Namjoon said, nodding to himself, “his voice really makes the song.”

 

“It all makes the song, Joon-ah,” Yoongi told him. It was true, even aside from Jungkook’s vocals, it was a beautiful track. “You did an amazing job. Both of you.”

 

Namjoon beamed. “Thanks, hyung. So, what d’you think?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“I mean, do you think you might give him a try?”

 

Yoongi nodded, slowly. “Yeah,” he murmured, “yeah, I think... I think he’d be perfect, actually.”

 

“Joonie!” They both jumped as Jimin’s voice carried from the other room--clearly yelling to be heard over the music.

 

“Yeah?” Namjoon yelled, equally as loudly. Yoongi suppressed a wince.

 

“Can we--” Jimin’s next words were lost as the song began building towards the chorus.

 

“Can we what?” Namjoon shouted in response, twisting around on the sofa so he could yell in the direction of the door.

 

“I said, Tae wants to know if we can go on a double date with him next week!” Came the practically deafening response.

 

“Ow, my ears,” Yoongi grumbled, lips pursing in annoyance. He leant forward, grabbing the phone out of Namjoon’s hands turning the volume down, since apparently it hadn’t occurred to either of them that might be a preferable option to shrieking at the top their lungs.

 

Namjoon gave him a slightly startled, wide eyed look, as if he’d momentarily forgotten Yoongi was there.

 

“Joon?” Came another shout, though it was marginally--and blessedly--less ear piercing this time. “Is that okay?”

 

“Oh! Yeah, that’s fine, babe! Just not Tuesday, okay?”

 

“Okay!”

 

Namjoon turned back to him. A slight frown was forming on his face. “Oh, I didn’t ask who it was with...” He turned back, apparently gearing up for another round of shouting.

 

“Namjoon-ah!” Yoongi snapped. “Don’t you dare! I like my eardrums fully functioning, thank you.”

 

“Ah, sorry, hyung...” Namjoon was looking sheepish now.

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Aish, what is this, part of your secret plan to deafen me before I graduate?” He asked.

 

Namjoon grinned. “Damn, you caught me. It’s all part of my master plan. You’re my only real competition, after all.”

 

At that, Yoongi huffed. “Tch. Of course I am. I’m a genius, aren’t I?” He retorted, fighting the pleased little smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth. It meant more than he might want to admit, that that was how Namjoon saw him. “Glad you agree,” he added, in a slightly softer tone.

 

Namjoon just laughed, though Yoongi knew he’d understood the thank you implicit in the words. “Ah, and so modest, too...”

 

 

 

*

 

 

The first week of classes passed quickly. It was exam season for most students--a few programs had theirs scheduled in December, but the most took place in January. A few really unlucky students--Jungkook included--had exams both before and after the break.

 

That being the case, Yoongi hadn’t seen much of him or the others, but they were all planning on going out Friday night to celebrate the end of exams--though he and Namjoon were lucky enough not to have any themselves. Unlike the most of the university’s programs, even the majority of those within the music school itself, the music composition program didn’t include exams as a form of assessment--something which Yoongi always found himself immensely grateful for around this time of year.

 

Friday dawned bright, and warmer than it had been in weeks, the sky a deep, clear blue. Sadly, Yoongi didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy it, stuck inside working a full day’s shift at the cafe.

 

The morning was quiet, seeming to drag on and on--until he finally had to ban himself from checking his phone, after several times pulling it out, convinced at least twenty minutes had passed, only to discover it’d been more like five. Thankfully, the afternoon was busier, and he was almost surprised when he checked the time and saw it was only a few minutes to closing.

 

He was partway through clearing the tables in his section--he was on the rota for clean up duty that day--when his phone buzzed.

 

He pulled it out of the front pocket of his apron to see a message from Jungkook. His football practise had been scheduled to finish a little before Yoongi’s shift, and since the university’s sports complex was nearby, he’d suggested they meet and head over to the bar together.

 

Gonna be late sry. :( Practise is running over.

 

Yoongi had barely typed the first letter of his response when another message popped up.

 

Not sposed to have my phone gotta go before coach sees

 

Oops he saw

 

He’s yelling at me

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes.

 

Then put it away already idiot, he tapped out, adding, after a moment, and dw it’s fine. Text me when you’re on your way.

 

“What are you smiling about?”

 

Yoongi looked up, startled, to see Irene watching him. 

 

“Huh? Oh... nothing.”

 

Irene raised a brow--but didn’t push the subject. She glanced at the clock and grimaced, glancing around at the tables they had yet to clear. “Sungho really needs to schedule longer than half hour for clean up,” she complained. “I’m supposed to be meeting my boyfriend across town in twenty minutes.”

 

“Date night?” Yoongi asked, glancing at his phone a final time. Jungkook hadn’t replied--presumably dragged away by an irate coach.

 

Irene sighed. “I wish. Dinner with his parents. They’re not my biggest fans as it is. And now I’m going to be late.”

 

“You go,” Yoongi told her. “I can finish up here.”

 

Irene was already shaking her head. “Oh, no...”

 

“It’s alright,” Yoongi insisted, “that was my friend who messaged me just now, he’s running late, so I’ll probably have to wait around for a while, anyway.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Yeah. It’s no problem.”

 

Irene looked relieved. “Oh, thank you, Yoongi-ssi. You’re an angel. I owe you one!” She called over her shoulder, already hurrying for the staff room.

 

Without Irene, it took him longer than the others to finish clearing the tables in their section, and by the time he’d finished, he was the only one left aside from the dishwashers in the back.

 

He headed to the staffroom, grabbing the trash on the way out.  He pushed open the back door, shivering a little as the cool night air hit him. He sped up his steps, closing the short distance to the garbage disposal in the alley running down the side of the building.

 

Jungkook still hadn’t replied, and Yoongi wondered how late he was going to be. Any longer, and he may as well just head straight to the bar--the others would be there soon.

 

He tossed the bag into the dumpster and was reaching into his apron to pull out his phone when the scent hit his nose. Distracted as he was, it took a few moments for it to register. 

 

His brain finally caught up with what has happening, seconds too late, as a pair of arms closed around him from behind, yanking him forcefully backwards. His phone hit the ground with a clatter, his shout muffled by the sweaty palm slapped over his mouth.

 

“Hm, what’s this?” The voice was amused, taunting--and strangely familiar. “A pretty little omega like you shouldn’t be out all alone in the dark.”

 

His back hit the wall hard, rough stone scratching against his skin through the thin material of his uniform.

 

“Hello, blondie,” the alpha drawled, “remember me?”

Chapter Text

Ping.

 

Sixth floor, the smooth, automated female voice announced.

 

Readjusting the heavy package under his arm, Yoongi stepped out of the lift and headed for the apartment at the furthest end of the corridor.

 

He’d been back to the big, fancy complex, and to this particular apartment, quite a few times over the past couple of weeks. He could only assume that the alpha--who from what Yoongi could tell owned the place, since all the packages were addressed to him--had a job which involved some kind of work from home. The pretty, dark haired beta girl who usually answered the door seemed to be his personal assistant. She was always rushing around, in the middle of phone calls.

 

Not that he minded. He preferred her to the alpha--though Yoongi had only seen him a couple of times, something about the man felt a bit... off, somehow. Maybe it was the way he never really said anything. Yoongi would have almost wondered if he couldn’t speak Korean well--but he certainly looked Korean, and sounded it, too, going by what little Yoongi had heard from him.

 

Or... maybe it was just that he was an alpha, period.

 

Yoongi wondered, for a moment, if that was really fair. Judging someone he’d only met--if you could call it that--twice, based just on that.

 

He was distracted from his thoughts as the door swung open. It was the beta girl. She had a phone in one hand, a stack of files in another. “Yes, next Tuesday,” she said, staring straight at him. “No, I’m afraid, that’s the only time he can do.” Yoongi blinked at her in confusion for a moment before he realized that--of course--she was speaking to the person on the other end of the phone.

 

“Hi,” she greeted, holding the phone slightly away from her ear as she addressed him. “Would you be able to bring it inside?”

 

Yoongi hesitated--but the package was heavy, and the girl was pretty slight, not to mention that she had her hands full. He nodded. “Yeah, sure.”

 

He followed the girl down the hallway through to a large, open plan living and dining area. The space was light and airy, with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the city, the furniture sleek and expensive looking. There was more art on the walls, most of it modern and abstract, like the painting he'd seen in the hall.

 

“You can put it here,” the girl said, pointing to the large dining table. “Yes!” She snapped, abruptly. “Yes, I sent the files yesterday. Well, check your inbox again!”

 

She glanced at Yoongi, holding up one finger in the universal gesture of wait one minute--and before he could say anything, she’d opened a door to the left of them he hadn’t even noticed was there, and left the room.

 

He stared after her, wondering if he should follow. He still needed someone to sign for the delivery.

 

After a moment, he heard footsteps--but they were coming from across the room, rather than the door the girl had just left through.

 

That must mean...

 

“Hello.”

 

It was the alpha.

 

Yoongi just stared at him for a moment. A feeling of unease tightened his chest.

 

It’s fine, he told himself. It’s the middle of the day. You’re not alone with him--that beta girl is still here... somewhere.

 

Just--get the signature and get out.

 

“Do you need someone to sign for that?” The alpha asked.

 

Yoongi nodded.

 

The man stepped closer, reaching for the machine. Yoongi held it out, gripping it by the very end to avoid their hands touching.

 

He watched as the alpha scrawled his signature across the screen--and then froze when his hand slid around to cover Yoongi’s.

 

“You’re very pretty, you know,” the alpha murmured. 

 

Yoongi yanked his hand back.

 

The alpha chuckled, raising his hands. “Easy. I’m just paying you a compliment.”

 

Yoongi knew he was probably expecting a thank you--but he sure as hell wasn’t going to get it. It was all he could really do--he still had to be polite. “I need to go now,” he muttered, without meeting the man’s gaze.

 

As he turned to leave, he felt a hand wrap around his wrist. For a moment, all he could do was stare down at it in shock--even as his stomach twisted sharply, something close to panic fluttering through him.

 

“How much do you make an hour?” The alpha asked. His tone was light, as if they were just having a little chat about the weather. “It can’t be much. What, one hundred fifty, two thousand won?”

 

“Let go of me,” Yoongi bit out, trying to yank his arm out of the alpha’s grip.

 

“How does seventy thousand per hour sound? Hm? For... well,” his gaze dragged slowly up and down Yoongi’s body in a way that made his skin crawl. “I’d like quite a few hours with you, that’s for sure.”

 

“I said let go.” Yoongi finally managed to free himself, the skin at his wrist burning where the alpha had been gripping it so tightly.

 

He caught the flash of annoyance in the man’s eyes before he turned, hurrying for the door.

 

“You do realize how much money you’re turning down?” The alpha called after him.

 

Yoongi bit back several sarcastic replies that wanted to spill from his lips. He didn’t want to wind the guy up. He just wanted to get out.

 

He’d made it to the hall when he heard the footsteps behind him--and, like a fucking idiot, he turned, instinctively glancing back instead of quickening his steps--getting the hell out of there.

 

In a flash, hands closed tightly around his arms, and before Yoongi could process what was happening he was being roughly shoved face first into the wall with enough force that it knocked the breath out of him.

 

“I'm sorry,” the alpha’s lips brushed his ear as he spoke, "but I don’t think I can just let you go like that. You smell too damn good.”

 

Yoongi let out a strangled growl, struggling against the weight of the body behind him, the hands wrapped tightly around his wrists in a painful, bruising grip. The alpha laughed, sounding almost gleeful, when Yoongi managed to wriggle his leg free enough to aim a kick at his shin.

 

“Mm--yeah, that’s it, honey. Struggle for me,” he murmured. He sounded excited. “I like a bit of a fight. You do realize I’m stronger than you, though, hm?” He shifted, pressing Yoongi more forcefully against the wall, and--okay, yeah, he was definitely fucking excited.

 

The next moment, he froze as he felt something sharp scrape against his neck.


Fuck. Fuck. Was that--

 

The alpha laughed lowly. “Don’t worry. It’s just an--mm, a bit of an uncontrollable reaction on my part. I won’t bite you. And,” he continued, in the same sickly sweet tone, “if you’re good, I’ll even still pay you after.”

 

Yoongi felt like he was going to be sick. He thought about shouting for help--but who was going to hear him? The beta girl? There was no way she didn’t already fucking know what was going on.

 

Fuck. Why had he agreed to bring the damn package in? He’d walked right into this.

 

He was so fucking stupid.

 

The alpha shifted, burying his face in Yoongi’s neck. “God, you smell incredible,” he groaned. His grip on one of Yoongi’s wrists went momentarily lax, and Yoongi saw his chance, yanking his hand away and blindly aiming for where he thought the man’s eyes were, jabbing as hard as he could.


The alpha hissed, swearing and jerking back in shock.

 

Yoongi ran for the door, fumbling with the latch.

 

“Where do you think you’re going?”

 

This time, when Yoongi turned, he wasn’t caught off guard. He just had time to make out the alpha’s face-- half obscured by the hand now covering his eye and contorted in anger, mouth twisted in a snarl, the gleam of fangs just visible--before he’d aimed a swift, hard kick, the heavy sole of his boot connecting firmly with the alpha’s crotch.

 

He heard the man groan in pain behind him as he wrenched open the door and sprinted down the hall.

 

He bypassed the lift entirely, heading for the stairs, not stopping until he’d made it to the street outside. He braced himself against his bike, chest heaving as he gasped for air. His heart felt like it was going to beat of his chest.

 

Distantly, he registered that he was getting strange looks from passers by, but he couldn't bring himself to care.

 

He yanked his helmet on, swinging a leg over his bike and kickstarting the engine. All he could think about was that he wanted to get out of there.

 

It didn’t occur to him until he’d almost reached the nearby intersection that he hadn’t even checked to see where his next delivery was.

 

Fuck. Should he even be going to his next delivery? Or should... should he be going to the police station? Should he report this? The guy hadn’t even really... he hadn’t actually done anything.

 

He’d been going to, though, Yoongi thought.

 

Hands wrapped around his wrists, hot breath on his neck, the flash of sharp, pointed canines.

 

No. No-- don’t... Don’t think about it.

 

What should I do? Where should I go?

 

Yoongi tried to keep his attention on the road, but it was hard to focus through the tangled mess of thoughts in his mind, the adrenaline still rushing through him and the erratic, too-fast thumping of his heart.

 

And then--well... when he’d look back on it, later, Yoongi could admit that it was partly his fault.

 

He’d only been distracted for a few seconds--but that was all it took. The car came out of nowhere.

 

And by the time he’d seen it, it was too late.

 

 

*

 

Bad things come in threes.

 

That’s what Yoongi’s mother always used to say to him--and he couldn’t help but think, as he watched the firemen aim the hose, water arcing up towards smoke pouring out of the apartment window--that she might just have been right about that.

 

First, the alpha. Then, the accident. And now... now this.

 

*

 

Several hours earlier, Yoongi had been trudging up the stairs to his apartment--the lift was broken again--on his way home from his check up at the doctor’s.

 

Most of the damage from the accident had been to his left side, the car that had hit him throwing him off his bike with enough force that the impact against the tarmac had not only broken his arm, but shattered his collarbone and shoulder.

 

He was stuck in a cast for a few more weeks. After that, though, his arm would heal. The doctors had been confident about that. His shoulder, on the other hand… on top of the shattered bones, there had been further internal damage, including a nasty tear to one of the rotator cuff muscles. The doctors had told him he might never regain a full range of movement.

  

To make matters worse, he hadn't been able to work for nearly two weeks. He'd gone back to the convenience store as soon as he'd been more or less able--but returning to the courier job was out of the question. He couldn't ride the bike with his arm in a cast, and he didn’t have a license to drive one of the company’s vans.

 

The doctor he'd seen today had recommended physical therapy for his shoulder, once his arm had healed--but even though it would be partially covered, at least for a few sessions, Yoongi wasn’t sure he’d be able to afford that, either. He wasn’t making enough money, and the hospital bills had already taken a sizeable chunk out of his savings.

 

He sighed, fumbled one handed for his key and managing to get it in the door, pushing it open and stepping inside.

 

And then he stopped.

 

There was an alpha he didn’t recognize sprawled on the couch in front of the TV.

 

Yoongi frowned, feeling his nose twitch in displeasure. The alpha was young--around his age, dressed in sweats, sneakers propped up on the coffee table--and his scent was irritatingly, obnoxiously strong.

 

He looked up as Yoongi entered. “Oh... hey,” he greeted, “I’m Hocheol. Yujin’s friend,” he added, at Yoongi’s blank expression.

 

“Where’s Yujin?”

 

The alpha shrugged. “She went across the hall. Wanted to borrow something, I think.”

 

“Right.”

 

“You want a beer?” The alpha asked, gesturing to the six pack on the coffee table.

 

“No, thanks.”

 

With that, Yoongi turned and headed for his room. He knew he was being rude, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. His shoulder ached, and his arm was itchy beneath the cast. He was hungry, too--but he knew he barely had any food in the fridge.

 

Once he was inside, he shut the door, and then, after a moment’s consideration--and with some difficulty--dragged the rickety old chair from the corner of his room and wedged it underneath the door handle.

 

He knew he was probably being paranoid, but... well.

 

Better safe than sorry.

 

He tossed back a couple of painkillers, shrugging off his jacket but not bothering to undress any further before he climbed into bed.

 

When he woke, hours later, everything was dark and quiet. Mind still fuzzy and sleep muddled, Yoongi rolled over, and was already halfway back to sleep when he realized what it was that had woken him. 

  

Smoke. He could smell smoke. 

 

Yoongi stumbled out of bed and wrestled the chair away from the door with his good hand. The hallway outside was slowly filling with smoke, and he covered his mouth with his sleeve, coughing, eyes stinging and throat burning as he made for the front door.

 

He’d only gotten a few steps before he realized the others could still be in the apartment.

 

Haeun’s room was empty, but Yujin was still asleep in bed. Yoongi managed to wake her and drag her out, but by the time they’d reached the front room, the smoke was so thick around them it was hard to see. The kitchen was almost completely subsumed in a mass of flames and scorching heat. 

 

And, just a few feet away from the rapidly spreading blaze--

  

"Hocheol!" Yujin's cry was hoarse and panicked, and he watched in horror as she stumbled towards the figure passed out on the couch.

 

Every instinct in him was telling him to run. The front door was just a few steps away. 

 

But... the alpha was unconscious, he was almost sure of it. And he knew there was no way Yujin would be able to get him out alone--or at least, not in time. Not before the entire room had gone up in flames.

 

One second passed. And then another.

 

There was no time to think about it any further.

 

Yoongi turned away from the door.

 

 

*

 

In the end, they all managed to make it out. 

 

Yoongi had never been so grateful that their apartment was only on the second floor. Even so, between Yujin's tiny frame and his shoulder and arm, hauling the dead weight of a three hundred pound alpha down two flights of stairs had been no easy feat. 

 

By the time the three of them made it downstairs, the fire department had already arrived, followed minutes later by the ambulance. It turned out a neighbor had called them.

 

Hochoel had been taken to hospital, but Yoongi and Yujin had been cleared by the EMTs as suffering from only a mild case of smoke inhalation, and they'd both been treated on site.

 

He could hear Yujin now. The firemen had let her sit in the cab of their truck, and she was still in there, sobbing down the phone to someone--probably her parents.

 

He stared down at his bare feet, wondering where on earth he was going to go. They'd managed to put the fire out by now, but judging by what he could see from here, they weren’t going to be able to go back in there.

 

The front doors to the building swung open, and Yoongi looked up to see the firemen who’d gone up to check over the apartment and inspect the damage emerging, removing their protective masks and helmets.

 

They gave Yujin and Yoongi and brief rundown of what they'd found. Yoongi was relieved to hear the damage to the bedrooms had been less severe, that the fireman thought they'd able to recover at least some of their belongings. The kitchen and front room, on the other hand, were completely decimated. 

 

“We won’t know for sure until the investigator gets in there tomorrow morning, but most likely the fire originated in the kitchen,” one of the firemen told them. “One of the windows had been left open, and we found what looked like remnants of wax on the windowsill.”

 

Beside him, he heard Yujin let out a sob.

 

“Is it possible one of you left a candle burning by accident?” The fireman asked, eyeing her.

 

“I...” Yujin’s voice trembled slightly, “I... I don’t know...”

 

“It's one of the most common causes of household fires," the fireman told them, "and with the open window, it would only have taken a breeze...”

 

“I... I can’t remember if I did...” Yujin whispered. She sniffled, wiping at her tears with her sleeve.

 

Yoongi thought of their flimsy curtains, and Yujin’s general forgetfulness--she frequently left her keys in the door. He could see it.

  

“Do you both have somewhere to stay tonight?” The other fireman asked.

 

“Y-yes...” Yujin nodded. “Yes, my p-parents are on their way now.”

 

The man turned to Yoongi. “What about you?”

 

Yujin was looking at him too. 

 

Finding himself unable to meet either of their eyes, Yoongi shook his head slightly.

 

“You--you can stay with us if you want,” Yujin offered. “You’d have to sleep on the couch, but...”

 

Yoongi nodded, trying not to let the relief show on his face.

 

It was then that a car pulled up, door flying open as a woman practically tumbled out, followed a moment later by man from the driver’s side. They both wore coats over what looked like their pajamas.

 

“Yuji-yah!” The woman called, sounding frantic.

 

“Eomma!” Yujin called back, rushing towards her. “Eomma, I’m here!”

 

Yoongi followed after them slowly, feeling as though he was intruding. Yujin and her mother were crying now, and her father didn’t look too far off.

 

Still... he glanced back at the building behind them, the blackened brickwork surrounding the remains of the burnt out kitchen window.

 

Maybe he was lucky.

 

Even if, right now... well. He didn't exactly feel it.

 

 

*

 

 

“Hello, blondie,” the alpha drawled, “remember me?”

 

It took Yoongi several seconds to place the man’s face, barely recognizable in the dim light of the alleyway.

 

It was the alpha he caught groping Lisa, the one he’d gotten banned from the cafe. He looked considerably worse than the last time Yoongi had seen him, dishelleved, eyes bloodshot. His scent, already unpleasantly bitter, acrid, was overlaid with stench of alcohol.

 

Yoongi renewed his struggles, fighting against the tight hold. The man hissed, cursing, as Yoongi’s fingernails made contact with the side of his face.

 

“You--fucking--” he panted, as Yoongi continued to struggle. His arm shifted, and then Yoongi felt something sharp pressing against his stomach. He stilled. “That’s better,” the alpha said, teeth gleaming in the low light as he smiled. His tone sounded almost casual, but his face told a different story. There was something dark and nasty, almost feral in his eyes, and Yoongi felt a jolt of sharp, cold terror trickle down his spine.

 

But even as the fear seized at him, he felt an odd, almost incongruous sense of frustration, because he was usually so careful--never kept his headphones when he was walking alone at night, always made sure to stay aware of his surroundings. Always carried pepper spray. Even now, he knew exactly where it was--in his bag, in his locker. Useless.

 

“Scream, and I’ll cut you. Do you understand?” The alpha demanded, pressing the blade further into his stomach for emphasis. “I said, do you understand?” Yoongi nodded as best his could. The alpha’s hand covering his mouth and part of his nose was making it hard to breathe, and he was beginning to feel lightheaded. “Good.”

 

With that, the alpha removed his hand. Yoongi drew several deep, ragged breaths, suppressing the almost overwhelming instinct to scream for help. “Let me go,” he managed, finally, throat dry and voice raspy.

 

The alpha laughed. It wasn’t a pleasant sound. “Now, that’s not very polite. Say please,” he grinned, eyes gleaming with a manic sort of excitement. “Beg me for it.”

 

Yoongi snapped his mouth shut, refusing to say anything else. He’d have to be an idiot to believe the alpha would let him go now, just because he’d said please. And he was sure as hell wasn’t going to play into whatever twisted little fantasy was going on in the man's head.

 

The alpha’s eyes narrowed. “You think you’re so much better than me, don’t you? Think you’re so damn clever. Getting that pathetic excuse of an alpha boss of yours to kick me out over nothing. What a fucking joke. Probably letting him fuck you in the back room.”

 

Yoongi kept silent.

 

“Where’s that smart mouth of yours now, huh?” The alpha taunted. He almost seemed to be talking to himself now, getting more and more worked up, hardly pausing for breath. “I’ve been watching you, you know--you, and that girl, and the rest of them. You’re all the same. Fucking knotteases, parading around in those slutty little outfits--and we’re not allowed to touch--”

 

Yoongi tried to jerk away as a hand was shoved roughly under his skirt--but there was nothing but solid brick behind him, and he gasped in pain as it scraped against his back.

 

“Stop struggling,” the alpha growled, movements stilling as he raised his free arm--the one still holding the knife--to brace against Yoongi’s neck, pressing against his windpipe.

 

Yoongi squeezed his eyes shut, struggling for breath as the sweaty hand groped about under his skirt, the alpha letting out a low snarl of frustration when he encountered what was underneath.

 

Most of the omegas working at the cafe wore much the same thing under their uniform--gym or cycle shorts, tight fitting and easily hidden under a too-short skirt, while still covering enough that any alpha happening to get a look underneath wouldn’t see much.

 

Distracted, the alpha loosened his grip slightly as he tugged at the waistband--but the shorts weren’t easy to remove, not from this angle, and not with one hand.

 

As he sucked in deep breaths, Yoongi caught sight of the knife out of the corner of his eye--the angle of the alpha’s arm meaning the blade was now pointing away from him. He acted purely on instinct, sinking his teeth into the arm in front of his face, using the momentary distraction to shove the alpha away from him with as much force as he could muster. The man staggered back in shock, cursing.

 

Yoongi ran.

 

He ran, as fast as he could--but his head was still spinning from the lack of oxygen, and even with the sudden burst of the adrenaline coursing through him, it wasn’t fast enough.

 

It felt like an age, but it could only have been mere seconds later that he felt the alpha closing in on him, felt fingertips brush against his arm, trying to find purchase.

 

There was a loud grunt, and suddenly the full weight of the alpha was on him, knocking them both to the ground. Yoongi barely had a chance to shoot his arms out to brace himself against the concrete, the impact knocking the breath out of him.

 

“You’re going to pay for that, you little bitch,” the alpha snarled in his ear as Yoongi struggled frantically against him. “I’m gonna teach you a lesson you’ll never fucking forget.” This close, the smell of him was sickening, and Yoongi felt nausea rise in his throat.

 

The next moment, a loud, furious growl echoed down the alleyway--and then, just like that, it was all gone. The suffocating weight, the overpowering smell--everything.

 

Gasping for air, Yoongi rolled over, breathing in deep, grateful lungfuls of the familiar scent that hit him like a wave--stronger and more intense than it had ever been.

 

Jungkook.

 

His mind cleared, chest seizing in renewed panic as his eyes fell on Jungkook and the alpha struggling a few feet away, growls and snarls ringing out into the still of the night.

 

He staggered to his feet, gaze darting around the alleyway until he finally caught sight of light glancing off the blade in the corner next to the dumpsters.

 

He’d barely had a second to feel the rush of relief before his attention was drawn once again to the two figures further up the alley. Jungkook had the other alpha pinned now, landing punch after punch to his face in rapid succession, blood spattering to the concrete with the force of the blows.

 

Fuck.

 

Fuck. No.

 

“Jungkook... Jungkook-ah--stop--” He called out frantically, voice cracking, scraped raw, as he hurried forwards. “Jungkook-ah! Stop!” He repeated, grabbing hold of Jungkook’s arm as he drew it back to land the next blow.

 

Jungkook turned to face him, and Yoongi stopped short at the sight of him, drawing in a sharp, shocked breath. There was a fine spray of blood spattered across his cheek, his jaw locked tight, mouth set in a thin, harsh line. His eyes--normally so gentle and expressive--were narrowed, cold.

 

He let out a soft growl, baring his teeth a fraction, enough that Yoongi could see the glint of the elongated, razor sharp canines that had dropped from his gums.

 

He waited for the fear to kick in. Fear, disgust--even revulsion.

 

It didn’t come.

 

He was afraid, that was for sure--but he wasn’t afraid of Jungkook. No, Yoongi was afraid for him, the only thing running through his mind the thought of how much trouble Jungkook would be in if he seriously injured this alpha--or worse.

 

“Stop it,” he croaked, “Jungkook-ah, please. It’s not worth it."

 

Jungkook blinked at him, slowly. His expression seemed to clear, and his eyes widened. “Yoongi...” he whispered, hoarsely. “I...” Yoongi watched his chest rose and fell rapidly, “oh, god... I-I’m sorry.”

 

He stood, panting slightly, eyes traveling rapidly over Yoongi’s face and body, lingering on the cut he could feel stinging on his cheek, the scrapes on his hands and arms.

 

He took a step towards Yoongi, but then seemed to change his mind. “Are...” he hesitated, “are you hurt?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No. No, I’m alright.”

 

“But--your hands...” Jungkook’s fingers twitched by his sides. Even in the low light, Yoongi could see that his knuckles were scraped and bleeding. “Your face--”

 

Before Yoongi could reply, the alpha rolled onto his side, coughing and sputtering blood onto the ground.

 

Jungkook glanced down at him. His eyes hardened, and in an one quick fluid movement he crouched down, grabbing the alpha by his collar, yanking him up and speaking into his ear, voice low--so low that Yoongi couldn’t make out what he was saying.

 

He took an abortive step forward, wondering if he should try to step in. But before he had a chance to intervene, Jungkook had stood, gaze finding Yoongi again.

 

“We should call the police."

 

“No!” Yoongi blurted.

 

Jungkook’s brows knitted together. “No? Hyung--”

 

“You assaulted him, Jungkook-ah! They might--they... they could arrest you!”

 

“He attacked you! He--he was trying to...” Jungkook stopped, throat working.

 

“I know what he was trying to do. But I... I-I can’t let you--”

 

“What if he comes back for you, hyung? Or... or--what if he tries to do this to somebody else?”

 

That made Yoongi stop short. “I...” He’d been so focused on worrying about how much trouble Jungkook could get in, he hadn’t even stopped to think--god, what was wrong with him?

 

There was a scuffling sound to their right, and they both turned to see the alpha scrambling away from them, diving for the knife by the dumpster.

 

He lurched unsteadily to his feet, brandishing it at them. He looked even worse now--dirty and more dishelleved than before, blood streaming from his nose and mouth, painting his lips and chin red. His eyes darted about wildly.

 

Jungkook took a step towards him. The alpha let out a desperate sounding snarl. “You get away from me, or I’ll--I’ll fuckin’ kill you!”

 

Jungkook advanced forward, but Yoongi grabbed his arm. “Don't,” he said, quietly, not liking the way the alpha was waving the knife, or the look in his eyes--like a desperate animal backed into a corner.

 

They both watched as the alpha backed away, keeping his eyes on them until he reached the mouth of the alley, when he turned, breaking into a staggering half run.

 

“If we call the police now, I’m sure they could catch him,” Yoongi said, without removing his hand from Jungkook’s arm--though he’d made no move to follow. “He won’t get far like that.”

 

“No, he won’t.” Yoongi watched as Jungkook reached into his pocket, pulling something out. “And even if does, I’ve got his wallet.”

 

Yoongi stared at him, wanting to ask how the hell--and when--he’d managed that. But there were more pressing issues to deal with. He reached into his pocket for his phone--only then remembering that it had fallen out when the alpha had grabbed him.

 

Jungkook was already pulling his own out, beginning to dial. Yoongi half listened as he explained what had happened, reciting their location, and--apparently reading off his driver’s license--the alpha’s name and address.

 

He found his phone half hidden underneath one of the dumpsters. “Dammit,” he muttered, examining at the cracked screen. It wouldn’t turn on.

 

“They’re on their way.” Yoongi looked up from the shattered, blank screen to see Jungkook watching him with a worried expression. “Hyung? Are you alright?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi responded, automatically. “I...” he swallowed. He still could feel the adrenaline thrumming through his body, steadily tightening his chest as it settled into a sharp edged feeling of anxiety. “I’m fine,” he managed, finally. It didn’t sound convincing, even to him.

 

“You’re shaking,” Jungkook reached out as if to lay a hand on Yoongi’s arm, but dropped it at the last second, instead shrugging off his jacket. “Here,” he said, handing it to Yoongi.

 

Yoongi took it wordlessly, pulling it on. He was vaguely aware of the faint tremors running through him, the prickling of goosebumps on his arms, but he didn’t really feel cold, only strangely numb.

 

He tried to draw in a breath, but it got stuck in his throat, the tightness in his chest intensifying. His vision felt fuzzy around the edges. 

 

Oh... he thought, distantly, oh, fuck.

 

It had been a long time. But he knew this feeling.

 

Panic attack. He was having a panic attack.

 

A low, distressed whine left Jungkook. “Hyung...” he whispered. “Yoongi...” He felt the light, hesitant touch of Jungkook’s hand on his own--warm, so warm against his freezing, exposed skin. Jungkook’s scent--so familiar, so comforting--filled his nose.

 

And just like that, something tightly coiled inside of him seemed to snap.

 

It took him a moment to understand that the small, choked sound that reached his ears had come from him, that one of his hands was reaching out, fumbling until his fingers fisted in Jungkook’s sweater. He thought he might’ve said the alpha’s name, but he wasn’t sure, and the next thing he knew, he was being tugged carefully forwards into Jungkook’s arms.

 

His scent was so much stronger from this close, and Yoongi couldn’t stop himself from burrowing into his warmth, burying his face in the soft fabric of Jungkook’s sweater, inhaling deeply, eyes fluttering closed.

 

Jungkook’s arms closed tighter around him, cheek pressed to his hair. “It’s okay,” he whispered, voice soft--softer than Yoongi had ever heard it. It made his chest ache and his eyes sting, made him curl closer still. He felt Jungkook shift, felt the gentle pressure of a hand cradling the back of his head. “It’s over now. You’re safe. I’ll--I--” he broke off, and Yoongi heard him swallow, “you’re safe with me, okay?”

 

He focused on taking deep breaths, letting Jungkook’s scent wash over him. And for a while--he wasn’t sure how long--everything narrowed down to cinnamoncleanairrain, to Jungkook’s arms around him, to the steady heartbeat under his ear and the slow, soothing motion of the fingers stroking through his hair.

 

Safe, a little voice in the back of his head murmured happily. Safe. Warm. Alpha.

 

Shit, he thought, distantly. Because that... that wasn’t right, was it? Jungkook wasn’t his alpha.

 

He jumped, startled, when he heard the sound of sirens in the distance. Jungkook’s arms tightened around him momentarily before he relaxed his grip, stepping away. Yoongi shivered slightly in the cold air, icy in comparison to the heat of Jungkook’s body.

 

He glanced down at himself--at the ridiculous, stupid fucking uniform, now ripped and dirty.

 

“I... I’m gonna get changed before they get here,” he mumbled, finding himself unable to meet Jungkook’s eyes. “You stay here,” he added, when Jungkook made as if to follow, “so they don’t... I don’t know, think we’ve fled the scene, or something.”

 

Finally meeting the alpha’s gaze, he saw Jungkook was chewing his lower lip, looking worried. “I’m fine, Jungkook-ah. Really,” he insisted. “I’ll be right back.”

 

Jungkook still looked torn. After a moment, his shoulders slumped slightly. “Okay, hyung,” he murmured. “I’ll be here.”

 

 

*

 

 

If Yoongi could have come up with a list of places he’d have least liked to spend his Friday night, he was pretty sure the interview room in the local police station would have been at least in the top five.

 

The room was windowless, scuffed walls painted what may have once been a bright shade of white, but which was now faded to a dull mid-gray, lending the harsh fluorescent lighting a distinctly bleak, dismal cast. The only sound was the scratching of the officer’s pen on his notepad, and the occasional creaking from the dusty air conditioning unit in the corner.


And the questions, of course.

 

He suppressed a sigh, shifting in the hard, uncomfortable plastic seat as he tried to focus on what he was being asked.

 

“So, just to confirm, Mr. Min, you say the alpha threatened you with physical force and a weapon?” Detective Lee asked. He was the younger of the two detectives, and had a serious air about him, absorbing everything he'd was told with the same neutral, blank faced expression. 

 

He'd been meticulous in taking both of their statements--that much Yoongi could say for him. He seemed to be focused on every detail.

 

The elder detective, on the other hand, sat leant back in his chair, letting his colleague ask most of the questions. Several times Yoongi had noticed that his attention seemed to be wandering.

 

Both of them were alphas, of course. Not that Yoongi had expected anything different.

 

He nodded. “Yes, that’s right. He had a knife.”

 

“And... he threatened you verbally, as well?” Detective Lee glanced down at his pad. "He threatened to use the knife if you cried for help."

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did you say anything to him at all during the encounter?”

 

“I asked him to let me go.”

 

Detective Lee nodded, writing something down. Yoongi snuck a glance at Jungkook next to him. He’d noticed the alpha seemed to be getting progressively more tense with each question, back rigid and jaw tight.

 

His gaze drifted down to Jungkook’s hands--his knuckles and a couple of his fingers wrapped in thin gauze bandages, courtesy of the EMTs who’d arrived at the scene shortly after the police. He was drumming his fingers against his knee.

 

He wondered if might have been better to let the detectives take their statements separately, after all. It had been Jungkook who’d asked that they be interviewed together, something that the elder detective--who’d introduced himself as Detective Seol--had agreed to readily.  It was evident that both of them were well aware who Jungkook was, and Detective Seol had been noticeably polite and deferential towards him.

 

“And what was his response to that?” Detective Lee asked, looking up from his notepad.

 

“He said that I should beg him for it.” 

 

To his left, Jungkook let out a choked off little growl. Out of the corner of his eye, Yoongi saw his hand had tightened into a fist. Without looking at him, Yoongi reached over, resting his hand on top of the alpha’s.

 

“Alright. Now, at the point that Mr. Jeon arrived, you said he was on top of you, and you believe his intent was to sexually assault you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You’re certain of that?”

 

Yoongi felt Jungkook’s fingers twitch underneath his, and he rubbed his thumb over the back of Jungkook’s hand in a soothing, repetitive motion, hoping to alleviate some of the tension he could feel practically radiating off the alpha.

 

He looked the man straight in the eye, keeping his tone even. “He put his hand up my skirt and tried to remove my underwear. So--yes, I would say I feel pretty certain.”

 

Detective Lee blinked slowly at him for a moment. “Right...” he coughed. “Yes. Alright.” His gaze lowered as he scrawled something else in his notes. 

 

Jungkook made a frustrated noise. “He’s already been through this several times, and we've both given you our statements. Haven’t you got enough information now?”

 

The detective’s gaze flickered to him. “We need to ensure we have all the facts straight--” he began.

 

“I apologize, Mr. Jeon,” Detective Seol interjected, “I do understand this is a trying process, and we appreciate your patience. I can assure you it won’t take much longer.”

 

Judging by Detective Lee’s expression, he didn’t quite share his colleague’s sentiment.

 

Even Yoongi had to admit, Jungkook had pretty much been the complete opposite of patient for the entirety of the interview. He’d been noticeably tense and agitated ever since they’d set foot in the station, in fact. Not that Yoongi could blame him. He didn’t feel all that much differently--though he knew it wouldn’t benefit him in the slightest to let it show.

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

“Come in.”

 

The door opened to reveal a young, gangly looking alpha. He looked about Jungkook’s age, dressed in the standard beat cop uniform. He bowed in their general direction. “I’m sorry to interrupt, sir. You asked me to call you once we’d heard from the hospital.”

 

Detective Seol nodded. “Ah, yes. Thank you. Excuse us for one moment,” he added, addressing Jungkook and Yoongi.

 

Once the door had clicked quietly shut, Jungkook turned to Yoongi. “I’m sorry,” he said.

 

Yoongi’s brows furrowed. “What are you sorry for?”

 

“I--when I said we should call the police... I didn’t realize--if I’d known they were going to be like this--”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No, Jungkook-ah, you were right to say we should call them. What if he does this again--what if he’s done it before?”

 

“Yeah, but...that--that detective, making you repeat everything, asking all those questions... It’s like he doesn’t believe you! Like--like he thinks you’re making it all up, or something!”

 

Yoongi hesitated. “I... I’m not sure that’s true.”

 

To be honest, he wasn’t sure what to make of Detective Lee himself--wasn’t sure whether the man truly thought he might be embellishing the truth, or really was just a stickler for details--or even somewhere in between the two.

 

But at least he was asking questions, seemed to be making some kind of effort to piece everything together.

 

It was better than nothing.

 

“And that other guy isn’t any better,” Jungkook continued, “half the time he’s only addressing me, when I’m not even--when you’re--” he broke off, jaw working, “it’s bullshit.”

 

“I know, Kook-ah. But they’re the ones who’re going to be investigating the case. You won’t get anywhere by pissing them off.”

 

“I...” Jungkook started. Then he sighed, shoulders drooping. “You’re right. I...” his voice had gone quiet now, gaze lowering to fix on his lap, on their still joined hands. “I’m sorry, hyung,” he mumbled, “god, I... I’m really not helping, am I?”

 

Yoongi squeezed his hand. “You’re doing fine, Kook-ah.”

 

The door opened, and the two detectives reentered the room.

 

“That was the hospital,” Detective Lee informed them, as he sat down. “The alpha who attacked you,” at this he inclined his head briefly at Yoongi, “has been transported there safely in police custody.”

 

Yoongi wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so he simply nodded in acknowledgment.

 

“He was only a few blocks away from the scene,” Detective Lee continued, “though, frankly, they’re surprised he managed to get that far. He was unconscious when they found him. According to the doctor treating his injuries, in addition to the bite wound on his arm, he sustained a concussion,” the detective was looking down at his notes now, “and multiple fractures resulting from blows to the face...” At this, his gaze came to rest on Jungkook. “Which also knocked out several of his teeth."

 

Jungkook made a low sound in the back of his throat. Yoongi cast a sideways glance at him, but his expression was hard to read. 

 

He didn't exactly look upset, though.

 

Detective Lee was watching Jungkook as well. “Mr. Jeon,” he said, sounding stern, “I must stress the seriousness of the situation. Assault charges could be brought.”

 

His colleague looked vaguely uncomfortable. “That is to say, Mr. Jeon, while we do understand you were simply protecting your omega--very admirable--and I’m sure allowances will be made accordingly, unfortunately there may be some repercussions.”

 

“The loopholes in the legislation are for bonded pairs specifically,” Detective Lee said, giving the older man a rather pointed look. "New studies have been carried out which suggest the aggressive response in non-bonded alphas can be controlled--"

 

"Yes, well..." Detective Seol murmured, interrupting him. Glancing at Detective Lee, Yoongi caught a flash of irritation cross the man's face. "Those studies have yet to prove anything, either way. And most judges will tend towards leniency in this sort of situation, even if they’re not bonded."

 

Protecting your omega...

 

Even if they’re not bonded...

 

Yoongi fought to keep the surprise from registering on his face as what the detective was implying finally sunk in.

 

Oh. Oh. He thought they were... together.

 

“That’s assuming Mr. Jeon is Mr. Min’s alpha. We haven’t established that.”

 

Detective Seol looked vaguely taken aback. “Well, I mean... obviously--”

 

“Is that right, Mr. Jeon?” Detective Lee was watching Jungkook now.

 

Yoongi saw his chance, and he took it without hesitation.

 

“Yes,” he interjected, quickly. “Yes. Jungkook is my alpha.”

 

Beside him, Jungkook gone still. When he remained silent, Yoongi gave his hand a pointed squeeze, hoping to signal that he needed to play along.

 

Finally, Jungkook spoke. “Yes,” he said, stiffly. “Yes, he’s...” Yoongi hoped the detectives didn’t notice the way he seemed to hesitate over the words, “that’s right,” he finished.

 

Way to sound convincing, Kook-ah, Yoongi thought, dryly. He ignored the funny, tight feeling in his chest, the tiny prickle of something that felt a lot like hurt. Was the idea really so unappealing to Jungkook, that it made him that uncomfortable?

 

Detective Lee was frowning. Yoongi watched, warily, as his nose twitched slightly. “I see,” he murmured. “Your scents, though--they’re not as intermingled as I’d normally expect...”

 

Yoongi shrugged, forcing himself to appear casual, unbothered. “We’ve been apart over the winter break."

 

“Right...” The detective’s gaze flicked between them, coming to rest on the spot, mostly blocked from his view, where their hands were joined under the table. He nodded, almost to himself. “Well, in that case... that will be taken into consideration.”

 

Yoongi glanced at Jungkook. “So...” he began, apprehensively, as he looked back towards the two detectives, “what happens now?”

 

He was all too aware that Jungkook had admitted to assaulting the alpha--that, even if he hadn’t, the injuries reported back from the hospital would probably have been proof enough.

 

Would they want to keep Jungkook here? Hold him overnight? Arrest him? 

 

No... surely they wouldn't do that. If they were going to arrest him, they would have done it already. 

 

But... what if--

 

“You can go.”

 

Yoongi blinked. “We can... go?” He repeated.

 

Detective Seol nodded. “Yes, we have your statements. You can both go. I know that it’s been a... trying night,” he nodded at Jungkook, “and I’m sure you’re keen to take your omega home, Mr. Jeon.”

 

There was a pause. Then, “Yes,” Jungkook mumbled. His voice was quiet, subdued. All the fight seemed to have gone out of him. “I... I am. Thank you."

 

Yoongi glanced at Detective Lee, but he didn’t appear to disagree.

 

“Thank you very much for your co-operation,” Detective Seol said, bowing courteously as he stood. “I’ll see you both out.”

 

They followed the man down the brightly lit hallway, and he directed them towards the foyer. They'd just reached the doors when Jungkook came to a sudden halt.

 

“Shit.”

 

“Kook-ah?” Yoongi murmured, confused. He followed Jungkook’s gaze to the two older men standing just beyond the front desk, deep in conversation. From what Yoongi could make out of his uniform through the doors, one of them looked to be the precinct’s captain. His companion appeared to a businessman, around the same age--early fifties or so, his dark hair shot through with silver at the temples.

 

“Of course they called him,” Jungkook muttered.

 

Yoongi glanced back at the two men in confusion--and then it dawned on him. The businessman was impeccably dressed in a suit and overcoat--and at second glance, the cut of both looked distinctly expensive. His eyes widened. “Is that...”

 

“My father,” Jungkook ground out. “Yeah.” His jaw had gone tense. He glanced down at Yoongi. “Alright. Let’s just... get this over with,” he muttered.

 

Before Yoongi had a chance to reply, he’d turned, pushing open the doors.

 

Both men looked up as they entered.

 

“Appa,” Jungkook murmured, bowing.

 

Jungkook’s father barely seemed to acknowledge him, instead turning to the captain. “It was good to see you, Seokho-ssi. If you'll please excuse me."

 

The captain nodded. "And you, Junghoon-ssi. May it be under better circumstances next time.” He turned to leave, inclining his head towards Jungkook and Yoongi as he passed.

 

There was a silence. Yoongi couldn’t help but regard Jungkook’s father curiously. There was a hint of a family resemblance, he thought--they had the same nose, the same strong brows and jaw. But that was where it ended. The lines of the man’s face were harsh, stern. It was as if someone had taken Jungkook’s features and sharpened all of the edges.

 

Finally, the elder alpha spoke. “Captain Yang is a good friend of mine,” he said, evenly. “We’ve known each other since our university days.” At this, his eyes came to rest on Jungkook. “Luckily for you.”

 

“Thank you, appa.” Jungkook’s voice was quiet. When Yoongi glanced at him, his gaze was fixed on the floor, face blank in a way that looked careful, deliberate.

 

Jungkook’s father was regarding them both. Yoongi noticed his eyes linger on Jungkook’s hands, the dressings on his knuckles. “I trust the paramedics saw to you both?” He asked. “Nothing serious?”

 

Jungkook shook his head. “No, appa. I’m fine.”

 

“Hm. Yes. I understand the other alpha fared much worse,” his father murmured. He raised his arm, the gold of his wristwatch flashing under the harsh overhead lighting. He frowned down at it.

 

Jungkook was watching him. “I’m sorry you had to come here so late,” he said.

 

Yoongi shifted, uncomfortably. It was impossible not to feel the tension in the air.

 

There was a pause, and then some of the sternness seemed to leave the elder alpha’s expression. “Well. It couldn’t be helped, I suppose.” His gaze drifted to Yoongi. “Are you going to introduce me to your... friend?”

 

Jungkook glanced back at him, too quickly for Yoongi to make out his expression. He nodded. “Yes. Appa, this is Min Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi couldn’t help but notice Jungkook had shifted a little as he spoke, positioning himself ever so slightly in front of Yoongi. Yoongi didn’t think he was even aware that he’d done it.

 

Jungkook’s father, however, didn’t miss the movement, his gaze flicking between them for a split second before returning to Yoongi.

 

Yoongi bowed politely. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Jeon.”

 

Jungkook’s father did the same. “And you, Min Yoongi-goon. I understand you attend university with my son?”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Yes, sir.”

 

“What do you study?”

 

“Music composition, sir.”

 

“And you’re a sophomore, like Jungkook? Or...” he paused, brief, cursory gaze traveling over Yoongi, “a freshman?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No. I’m a senior.”

 

The elder alpha’s brows raised slightly. “I see.” He opened his mouth to say something, but Jungkook got there first.

 

“Appa, we were just going to call a cab,” he said. “It’s getting late.”

 

Jungkook’s father looked back to him. Yoongi half expected some sort of resistance, but he simply inclined his head. “Of course. I have a few calls I need to make, at any rate," he said. He was already pulling out his phone. "We’ll speak tomorrow, Jungkook-ah.”

 

 "Come on," Jungkook murmured to Yoongi, "let's go."

 

*

 

 

Outside, the night had settled in fully. Yoongi pulled the sleeves of his sweater further over his hands, shivering slightly against the sudden rush of brisk, chilly air.

 

He heard Jungkook let out a heavy sigh.

 

“I’m sorry about that. I should’ve realized they’d call him.” Yoongi opened his mouth to tell him it was fine, but Jungkook wasn’t finished. “And I’m sorry about him addressing you like that, too,” he added. “For what it’s worth, he didn’t really mean anything by it. He’s just a little... old fashioned.”

 

Yoongi wasn’t sure what Jungkook meant, for a moment--and then he remembered. Yoongi-goon. While technically correct, the honorific had a certain condescending quality to it, particularly when used to address an omega.

 

As it was, Yoongi had barely even noticed-- half the alphas at the cafe addressed him the same way, after all. “S’alright," he said with a shrug, "I’m used to it.”

 

Jungkook was watching him now, worrying at his lower lip. “Hyung...” he started, “would you... I mean--d’you want to come back to mine?”

 

Before he’d really thought about it, Yoongi found himself nodding. “Uh... yeah. Yeah, okay...”

 

He told himself it was because of Jungkook’s worried expression, that he was agreeing so readily. (Though he couldn’t help but think of returning to his own apartment, cold and dark and empty. Or, even, of the hoodie still twisted in his bedsheets, scent hopelessly faded now--while its owner was stood right front of him, warm and real so close.)

 

“Okay,” Jungkook echoed, “okay, good.” He seemed relieved by Yoongi’s easy agreement.

 

Yoongi tucked his face further into his scarf while Jungkook called the taxi.

 

“Are you cold?” Jungkook asked, eyeing him as he pocketed his phone. “D’you want to wait inside?”

 

“Hm? Oh... no. I’m fine. This is pretty warm, actually,” he said, indicating the scarf. It was the one he’d been sent by the mystery gift giver at the cafe, in fact--though he’d worn it often enough now that he often forgot that was where it had come from.

 

“Ah... good,” Jungkook murmured. He shuffled his feet slightly, seeming a little bit awkward all of sudden. Yoongi wondered if Jungkook perhaps didn’t know what to say to him, now, after everything that had happened that evening. They hadn’t really been alone--since. Since Jungkook had pulled the alpha off him. Since Yoongi’d had that embarrassing little breakdown.

 

“I wonder what they’ll think, picking us from a police station,” he mused, after a moment, keen to break the silence that had settled over them.

 

Jungkook huffed out a not-quite-laugh. “Probably that we’ve been in a fight,” he said, lifting one gauze-wrapped hand. “Or... that I have. I guess that’s what I’ll have to tell people, anyway, if they ask. I mean, I suppose it’s not too far off the truth...”

 

“Mm...” Yoongi shifted, feeling guilty.

 

They’d been on their way to the station by the time they’d both realized that the others would be arriving at the bar at any moment, and would be wondering where they were. Yoongi hadn’t wanted them knowing what had happened, and Jungkook--well, he hadn’t exactly agreed. But he’d relented, texted Namjoon to tell him Yoongi had gotten sick, and that he’d taken him home.

 

Jungkook was worrying at his lower lip again. “You really... you don’t want to tell them anything?” He asked, quietly.

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No, it’s... they’ll just--they’ll freak out. It’s not worth worrying them over. I mean, nothing actually...” he trailed off. Nothing actually happened, he’d been about to say.

 

But... that wasn’t exactly true. Even Yoongi couldn’t write off the past few hours as nothing.

 

For a start, Jungkook could... there was a still a chance he could end up with a criminal record over this.

 

Yoongi swallowed, staring down at his feet, suddenly unable to meet Jungkook’s eyes.

 

When he risked a glance, Jungkook’s face was troubled, and Yoongi wondered if he was thinking the same thing.

 

He was relieved at the sight of the taxi slowing just up the street, pulling into a space a few meters away.

 

The ride back to Jungkook’s apartment was quiet. Yoongi stared out the window at the bright lights flashing past, the streets still busy, filled with people enjoying their Friday night.

 

He could feel Jungkook’s gaze on the side of his face. He tensed, wondering if the alpha was going to bring up the subject of telling the others again.

 

Then Jungkook’s stomach growled, loud in the near-silence of the cab.

 

Yoongi turned to him. “Are you hungry?”

 

“Uh...” Jungkook’s brows furrowed, as if he wasn’t sure how to answer the question.

 

Yoongi frowned. “Have you eaten?” He pressed. “Did you eat dinner?”

 

“I had a late lunch...” Jungkook tried.

 

“Jungkook-ah,” Yoongi replied, unimpressed, “it’s nearly eleven o’clock at night.”

 

“Hyung, really, don’t worry about it...”

 

“I’ll make something when we get back to yours,” Yoongi said, firmly, ignoring Jungkook’s continued protests as he turned back to face the window. “Or we could stop on the way--”

 

“No!” Yoongi glanced at Jungkook in surprise. “I mean... no. Let’s just... let’s just go back to mine, okay? I think I have some leftover takeout in the fridge. Or we could order in. I just... I don’t--”

 

“Okay,” Yoongi murmured, placatingly, a little confused at the alpha’s sudden agitation. “Okay, yeah. That’s fine, Kook-ah.”

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook muttered. “I just, ah...”

 

“Hey, are you... are you alright?” Yoongi asked, frowning in concern, reaching out to lay a hand on the alpha’s arm. Jungkook tensed under his touch, going almost completely rigid. Yoongi dropped his hand immediately, swallowing down the tiny, embarrassing whine that bubbled up from his throat, the almost painful sensation in his chest. The sting of something that felt--at least, to some deep down, instinctual part of him--like... like rejection.

 

“I’m fine, hyung,” Jungkook said, softly--though he still wouldn’t look at Yoongi.

 

Yoongi just nodded. Unbidden, the memory of Jungkook’s reaction, back at the station, when they’d had to pretend he was Yoongi’s alpha, flashed through his mind.

 

He looked away, back out the window.

 

What did you expect? Of course he was uncomfortable, having to pretend to be your alpha. Because he’s not. And you need to remember that.

 

You’re just... confused, is all, he told himself. Jungkook may not have been his alpha--but he was still an alpha.

 

(He thought of the way Jungkook had seemed to unconsciously to position himself in front of Yoongi the moment his father's attention turned to him. His frustration with the detectives over the questions they'd asked. And, before that... the sound of Jungkook's voice, murmuring soft reassurances in his ear as Yoongi clung to him.)

 

Something in him must just be... responding to that. Just like he assumed Jungkook must have been instinctually responding to him. Some things were just hardwired, when it came to alphas and omegas.

 

It was nothing more than that.

 

(At least... whispered a little voice, not on Jungkook's part, anyway.)

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi watched in mild incredulity as Jungkook enthusiastically shoveled noodles and reheated takeout into his mouth at lightning speed.

 

Thirty seconds later, the bowl hit the coffee table with a soft clink as he took his last mouthful, looking up and meeting Yoongi’s gaze, cheeks still full of food.

 

Yoongi raised an eyebrow at him.

 

Jungkook swallowed, expression turning slightly sheepish.

 

“Uh,” he murmured, “guess I... ah, guess I was a bit hungrier than I thought I was.”

 

Yoongi hummed, trying not to smile, poking at the remnants of his own bowl with his chopsticks.

 

He’d actually ended up finishing more of their late night dinner than he’d thought he would, too. Food had been the last thing on his mind, but--somehow, once they’d gotten back to Jungkook’s place... it was like the tension that had settled into his body over the long evening, the hours at the station had, just... if not totally dissipated, then lessened considerably.

 

Which... well. It was probably best not to examine the reasons for that too closely, he decided.

 

Looking for a distraction, he let his gaze travel around the room. He’d been to Jungkook’s place a few times before, but he’d never stayed long.

 

The complex was an upscale new build, complete with a gym and swimming pool--however, the apartment itself was smaller than Yoongi might have initially imagined.

 

It had a similar layout to his own--open plan kitchen, living room and dining area--but was considerably larger, sans the mismatched thrift store furniture, and the near-constant chill in the air which always seemed to linger in the winter months.

 

It wasn’t messy--there was nothing like the kind of clutter that had been strewn around when he’d visited Namjoon the other day--but it wasn’t exactly tidy, either. 

 

There were sneakers kicked off haphazardly in the hall, along with a gym bag Yoongi had nearly stumbled over before Jungkook had flipped the lights on, a mess of wires and several games consoles underneath the television. A laundry hamper sat, somewhat incongruously, right next to the coffee table, apparently halfway through being sorted, piles of neatly folded clothes almost entirely covering one of the armchairs.

 

Just beyond, a laptop sat on the dining table in the small breakfast nook, surrounded by stacks of books and papers--a number of which migrated to the couch (Yoongi had almost ended up sitting on a huge, intimidating looking textbook on macroeconomics).

 

It was, more or less, what might be expected from any twenty-year-old college student. Except, of course, for a few noticeable differences-- the kitchen was top of the range, all sleek granite countertops and shiny new stainless steel appliances. The couch he was sat on was leather--real, not the cheap, squeaky kind--the television above the consoles a huge widescreen.

 

He put his bowl down, leaning back and fighting sudden the urge to close his eyes. The couch was comfortable--would’ve been even it hadn’t been stacked with what was surely an unnecessary number of throw pillows, as well as the soft, fuzzy blanket Yoongi was currently curled up underneath.

 

Jungkook cleared his throat, and Yoongi startled a little, realizing he’d zoned out for a moment. “Hyung, I...” Jungkook shifted where he sat cross legged on the armchair, “I wanted to say thank you.”

 

“S’fine. I basically just reheated your leftovers.”

 

The corner of Jungkook’s mouth quirked up slightly. “Right. Well... y’know, my leftovers never taste that good when I reheat them.” Then he shook his head, expression turning more serious. “But that’s, uh--that’s not what I was trying to say. I wanted to thank you, for what you said, back there at the station. For telling them I was... that I was your alpha.”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “It’s nothing, Kook-ah. Really,” he added, when he saw Jungkook was frowning, like he disagreed. “You heard what that detective said--that they’ll be more lenient with you, if that’s what they think.”

 

“Yeah...” Jungkook’s voice was quiet. His gaze had lowered down to his lap. “Yeah, I know.”

 

“Anyway, it was the least I could do, after I--I mean, it’s kind of my fault that you even got into a fight in the first place.”

 

Jungkook looked up sharply at that. “Your--no. No, it’s not your fault, hyung.”

 

“No, I--you know what I mean...” Yoongi mumbled, a little taken aback by the intensity of Jungkook’s tone. “I didn’t mean it like that. Though...” he hesitated, “I mean, it wasn’t like it was--random. I really mouthed off to him, that day at the cafe. Lisa even told me, at the time, that I shouldn’t have done it.” He sighed. “And... tonight, I just--I wasn’t paying attention at all. That’s how he managed to sneak up on me.”

 

Jungkook was shaking his head fervently. “That doesn’t make it your fault--”

 

“No, I know. But... I--still, I-- should have been more careful.” He twisted the blanket in his lap, still feeling a little frustrated, despite everything. “I... I know better than that...”  he trailed off, staring down at his hands, at one of the dressings covering a graze on his palm.

 

“Yoongi... hyung, it’s not your fault.” 

 

Jungkook's voice was low, almost pleading, and Yoongi looked back up at him to see there was a line between his brows, the corners of his mouth turned down as his eyes traveled over Yoongi's face. 

 

"What he did..." Jungkook continued, jaw tightening, "what that worthless piece of shit tried to do to you--that’s on him. And... what I did--that's on me, too." Yoongi watched as he swallowed, throat working. "I fucked up. I--I lost control. I don’t know why I... even if--” he stopped, blowing out a breath. “I, still... I shouldn’t have lost control like that,” he muttered, almost to himself.

 

Yoongi opened his mouth, and then closed it again.

 

The thing was... Jungkook was right.

 

He was right about it being the alpha’s fault--of course, Yoongi did know that. He’d said almost exactly the same thing to Lisa, the day at the cafe.

 

(It was just... easy, too easy, to let that single, crucial truth slip out of view for a moment, drowned out by the persistent, nagging little voice in his head insisting he was an idiot for ever having let himself get into the situation in the first place.)

 

And... he was right about the other things, too.

 

He had fucked up. He'd let his instincts get the better of him. It was something Yoongi had seen happen one too many times.

 

Alphas, on the whole, weren’t great at self control. It was pretty much taken as a biological fact they couldn’t control their instincts as well as betas or omegas could.

 

Yoongi had always been skeptical about how true that really was. Wondered if it was less that alphas couldn’t control themselves, and more that they didn’t have to. After all, why should they bother? He thought, a little bitterly. They practically got a free pass, after all.

 

Alphas will be alphas.

  

The memory of Detective Lee's words, loud in the quiet of the interview room as he read from his notes, flashed through his mind. 

 

Multiple fractures to the face...

 

Knocked out several of his teeth...

  

Even now, he could barely believe that Jungkook--sweet, kind, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly Jungkook--could have caused that kind of damage, alpha strength or not. It didn't seem to add up.

 

And yet... it had happened. Yoongi had been there.

 

He sighed inwardly.

 

You’re a hypocrite, Min YoongiIf this was anyone else--any other alpha--you’d be the first to say they should be held accountable.

 

But... it wasn’t. It was Jungkook. And even if they weren’t... weren’t together, weren’t bonded, they were friends. Jungkook had been trying to protect him.

 

And he'd listened to Yoongi. Had stopped himself before things had gone too far. 

 

And that... that was something Yoongi hadn't seen happen anywhere near as often.

 

Jungkook was watching him now, worrying anxiously at the lower lip. “I... I’m sorry if I scared you,” he said, voice barely more than a whisper.

 

“It’s alright--”

 

Jungkook made a soft noise in the back of his throat. “No, it’s not. God, I even--when you--I growled at you,” he mumbled, sounding ashamed.

 

Yoongi felt his hand twitch, wanting instinctively to reach out towards him. He tightened his fingers around the blanket instead.

 

“It’s okay, Kook-ah. You didn’t scare me.” 

 

Jungkook was still chewing his lip. “Really?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “Really,” he said, firmly.

 

The relief that flashed across the Jungkook’s features was surprisingly intense--so much so Yoongi wasn’t quite sure he’d read it correctly.

 

The thing was, though... if he was honest, he'd been surprised himself at his own reaction. That he hadn’t felt afraid, not for a second--not even on an instinctive, subconscious level. That had been... unexpected.

 

You trust him, whispered a little voice in the back of his mind. 

 

It was true--even he hadn’t realized just how much until now.

 

“It’s late." Yoongi blinked his eyes open--he hadn't even been aware that he'd closed them--to see Jungkook was watching him. "You should go to bed, hyung.”

  

Yoongi pushed himself up from where he’d been leant back against the sofa, glancing over his shoulder at the clock on the kitchen wall. It was past midnight. He nodded, suppressing another yawn. He was way too cozy under the soft blanket. He didn’t really want to get up.  “Yeah... yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”

 

At least the sofa was comfortable, he thought. He’d spent a few nights on the one at Namjoon, Jin and Hoseok’s place and every single one had fucked majorly with his back, not to mention his shoulder.

 

“C'mon,” Jungkook said, “I’ll show you where everything is.”

 

 

*

 

 

Stepping under the hot spray of the shower was a huge relief.

 

Yoongi had showered that morning--but that felt like it had been a million years ago. He felt grimy, covered in invisible layer of dirt, like he’d spent a whole day outdoors in city pollution.

 

Unfortunately, the feeling didn’t last long. Now that he was alone, he found his mind immediately drifting back over the last several hours. It was impossible to stop it. Impossible to stop himself worrying about what would happen to Jungkook--whether the alpha would press charges, how lenient they’d be with Jungkook if he did.

 

Or... to stop himself from remembering the feeling of rough stone scraping his back, cold metal pressed to his stomach. From feeling, for a moment, a faint echo of the fear that had tightened his chest and run cold in his veins, when he’d been pinned underneath--

 

Stop.

 

Stop it.

 

Yoongi shook himself, blinking as the tiles of the shower wall he’d been staring at without seeing registered again in his vision. He glanced down at his hands to see his fingers were beginning to prune. He’d been in here too long.

 

He stepped out into the steam-filled bathroom, grabbing the towel Jungkook had left for him, gaze drifting to the small pile of clothes that sat on the side by the sink.

 

He dried himself off and padded over, grabbing the t-shirt on top of the pile and tugging it on, ignoring the vague sense of disappointment he felt when the strong scent of laundry detergent hit his nose --along with something softer, a little bit floral, which he assumed was fabric softener. 

 

He pulled the hoodie on last. His nose twitched, and he frowned, noticing that the scent of laundry detergent was very faint, overpowered almost completely by cinnamon. Strange. Maybe Jungkook had accidentally given him one he’d already worn?

 

He lifted the collar to his nose, inhaling, trying to determine if that was the case, when he realized how ridiculous he was being. Ridiculous, and creepy.

 

Yoongi sighed, dropping the collar.

 

Pulling open the bathroom cabinet, he scanned the shelves for the spare toothbrush Jungkook had said he'd find there--blinking when, instead of the single toothbrush he'd expected, he was met with a stockpile of four or five, most still in their packaging. Yoongi grabbed one, trying not to think too much about exactly why Jungkook had so many. (He must have a lot of... overnight guests.)

 

He was reaching up to close the cabinet when his eyes fell on a box on the top shelf, partially obscured by a tube of dental floss.

 

Alpha XXL, the big block letters read. X-TRA Long, X-TRA Wide, X-TRA Protection! Please Note: Not Suitable For Knotting.

 

Yoongi slammed the cabinet closed.

 

Fuck.

 

Right. Right. Okay.

 

He was just going to... pretend he’d never seen that.

  

*

 

Yoongi shuffled down the hallway to the front room, only to have to pause halfway to tug the drawstring of the sweatpants Jungkook had lent him tighter, brows furrowing in annoyance at the way they kept slipping down his hips and catching underneath his feet.

 

He found Jungkook tucked under the blanket on the couch, scrolling through his phone.

 

He looked up as Yoongi entered. " Are you done in the bathroom?”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Mmh. Yeah. Sorry I took so long, I was... uh--” he coughed. “Tired. I’m just... tired.”

 

Jungkook pushed himself up off the couch. “You should get some sleep.”

 

“Right. Yeah. Are you...” Yoongi felt his brows furrow, "are you sleeping here?”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

Yoongi felt his frown deepen. “You should take the bed.”

 

Jungkook was already shaking his head. “No, no, it’s fine. The couch is pretty comfy.”

 

“Good. I’ll sleep on it, then.”

 

Jungkook watched, looking faintly dismayed, as Yoongi headed for the couch. “Hyung, no. Seriously, take the bed--”

 

“You’ll hurt your neck if you sleep here, Kook-ah,” Yoongi cut in, shaking his head. He hadn't failed to notice--would have, even if Jungkook hadn’t eventually told him--that the alpha had problems with tension in his neck and shoulders, aggravated by hours spending hunched over textbooks or his laptop.

 

Jungkook’s eyes narrowed. “You’ll hurt your shoulder.”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips. He’d kind of forgotten that Jungkook knew about his shoulder injury--even if Yoongi hadn’t told him the whole story.

 

He sighed. “Okay. Fine. How about we both sleep in the bed?”

 

Jungkook blinked at him. “Uh... are--are you sure?” He asked, chewing at his lower lip. He seemed... worried? Concerned? Yoongi wasn't sure why--he'd never seen Jungkook's bedroom, but he was guessing the bed was big enough for two.

 

“Yeah," he said with a shrug, "of course. Why wouldn’t I be?"

 

“I...” Jungkook reached up to scratch the back of his neck, “... no reason, I guess.”

 

Yoongi watched him, a little confused. “Right,” he murmured, “well... that’s settled, then.”

 

 

*

 

 

Sharing the bed, it turned out, had been both a very good idea--and a very, very bad one.

 

As soon as Yoongi had climbed underneath the covers, he’d had to immediately muffle an embarrassing sound into the pillow--because, fuck. It smelled so, so good.

 

He was just grateful Jungkook was still in the bathroom.

 

A few minutes later, the bedroom door creaked open, and Yoongi heard quiet footsteps padding across the floor, felt the mattress dipping as Jungkook climbed in beside him.

 

He was close enough that Yoongi felt his nose twitch as the familiar scent--overlaid now with a fruity, sweet-smelling shower gel--intensified. For a moment, all he could think about was how easy it would be to just roll over and--

 

No. No.

 

God, what the fuck is wrong with me?

 

He suppressed a sigh, rolling onto his back instead, eyes opening as he stared up at the--stars?

 

The ceiling directly above the bed was covered in glow in the dark stars.

 

He felt Jungkook shift beside him. “Hyung... are you awake?”

 

“Mmh...” Yoongi murmured, distracted as he gazed up at the ceiling.

 

“I just...” he heard Jungkook clear his throat. “I...  look, I really am sorry about earlier--back at the station, I mean. I know I didn’t--I didn't really help much.”

 

“I told you, it’s fine, Kook-ah. You were fine.”

 

“Really? Because I feel like I just made it more difficult for you. When it was already...”

 

“You didn’t.” Yoongi told him. Because--well. It was true that he’d been pretty distracted by Jungkook and his reactions, watching him out of the corner of his eye, for most of time he’d been answering questions. But... there was also a reason he hadn’t protested, when Jungkook asked that they be interviewed together. “I... I'm glad you were there.” He fell silent for a moment, fiddling with the corner of the blanket, before continuing. “Do you... uh. D’you remember how I said I hurt my shoulder in an accident, back when I was working as a bike courier?”

 

There was a brief pause. “Yes...” Jungkook said, quietly, "I remember."

 

“Well, that's--uh... that’s not exactly what happened. I mean...” he amended, “it is, but. That’s not... all of it.” He heard the slight creak of the mattress as Jungkook shifted. “Before that... I’d had a package to deliver, to this... alpha. I’d delivered to his address before--except he wasn’t usually there, most of the time his assistant let me in. But... that day, he was.”

 

He felt Jungkook shift again. “What... what happened?" He whispered. "Did... did he--"

 

“No. No, it wasn’t--I mean, he just..." he paused, hesitating, "he came onto me. Pretty... aggressively."

 

He tried to choose the words carefully, but when he heard Jungkook suck in a sharp breath, he wondered if it hadn't been careful enough. Wondered if Jungkook was going to press him on it, ask more questions.

 

But he stayed silent.

 

"I... I tried to stop him," Yoongi continued, quietly, "to get out of there--but. I could see that he wasn’t going to let me leave, so... I kicked him in the balls, and ran. I didn’t know if he was coming after me, or not, so I just. I ran for it. Straight down the stairs and onto my bike. But I guess I wasn’t... I wasn’t thinking straight, so when I hit the junction... well. You know the rest.”

 

“Hyung...” Jungkook whispered. His voice sounded strained. “I... I’m sorry that happened to you."

 

“It’s okay,” Yoongi said, softly, “it was a long time ago now.”

 

“But, your shoulder--”

 

“Has gotten a lot better since then,” Yoongi assured him. “Anyway..." he continued, "look, the reason I’m telling you is because I--I want you to believe me, when I say it... it helped, having you there with me tonight. Not, uh... not having to go to the police alone, it’s...” he trailed off, somewhat awkwardly, realizing abruptly he didn't really want to get into that particular subject.

 

Don't ask, don't ask, don't...

 

Jungkook was quiet for a moment. Then, “Hyung, did you.... did you go to the police, before?"

 

Shit.

 

Yoongi supposed he'd walked right into that one.

 

"Yes..." he said, reluctantly, after a pause.

 

"What happened?" Yoongi hesitated--but before he could say anything, Jungkook was continuing, somewhat hastily. "I mean--you don't. You don't have to tell me, if--if you don't want to--"

 

"No, I..." Yoongi murmured, half wondering why he was continuing when Jungkook had literally just given him an out, "I just--they weren't exactly... understanding." He blew out a slow breath. “The alpha... he denied it. All of it. And his assistant, who’d been there too--she corroborated his story.”

 

He heard Jungkook swallow. “So they... what, they didn’t believe you?” 

 

“Well... no,” Yoongi admitted. “Or... I mean--I don’t know, really. But it didn’t matter, either way. It turned out, this guy--he was well liked, respected," he explained unable to keep the some of the bitterness from seeping into his tone, "he was big in the art world, did a lot of charity work, too. Real pillar of the community. Donated money to local schools, that sort of thing. So... they told me I should drop it. That nobody would believe my word over his.”

 

Jungkook made a choked sound. “That’s... that’s fucking bullshit."

 

“I know,” Yoongi whispered. “But... they were right. Nobody would have.”

 

"But how... how could they just..." Jungkook trailed off. He sounded horrified, and Yoongi wondered if maybe he shouldn’t have been quite so honest. Wasn’t even entirely sure why he had been.

 

Maybe it was just... easier, in the darkened, quiet bedroom, to share things he might never have done otherwise. Or maybe it was that Jungkook was... well, he was a good listener, Yoongi had to admit.

 

He hadn't quite expected Jungkook to get this upset about it, though. 

 

Then again... maybe he should have. After all, none of this was new to Yoongi. Not the police’s tendency to side with accused alphas, not the stark, unavoidable reality that doing the kind of job he had done, as an unbonded omega--even daring to live all alone in a big city with that status--carried with it a certain amount of risk.

 

Yoongi knew all of that like knew how to breathe--with that same kind of familiarity. He woke and slept with that knowledge, lived with it, day in, day out. And it was enough that some of the disbelief, the anger, had become faded and worn at the edges.

 

But it wasn’t like that for Jungkook. And... he wasn’t wrong, either. It was bullshit. All of it.

 

“I...” Jungkook began, slowly, “I don’t suppose you remember any of their names?”

 

Yoongi glanced at him. He could see Jungkook was looking back at him, though it was hard to make out his expression in the near dark. “No,” he said, shortly. “Whatever you’re thinking... just. No.” He shook his head. “I don’t remember them, anyway.”

 

That was a lie. He remembered the alpha’s name, even now. And one of the names of the police officers. The one who’d all but laughed in his face.

 

He wasn’t telling Jungkook that, though.

 

"Okay."

 

Yoongi felt his brows furrow in surprise at the response, having half expected Jungkook to argue the point.

 

He heard the blankets rustle as Jungkook shifted, and then--oh. Oh, he’d... he’d gotten closer--so close Yoongi could feel the warmth of his body.

 

"But..." Jungkook continued, "if you ever do happen to recall... the offer still stands." His hand covered Yoongi’s briefly--squeezing lightly once, before it was gone again.

 

"Uh..." Yoongi trailed off, feeling as though his brain hadn't quite caught up with his mouth. He was thankful Jungkook probably couldn't see him in the darkness. His cheeks felt warm. “What are you offering, exactly?” He mumbled, finally.

 

There was a pause. And then, “Anything,” Jungkook said, quietly. “Just say the word.”

 

Yoongi blinked. “R-right...” he stuttered. “Well... uh. Thanks?” It came out sounding like a question. Yoongi tugged the blankets up so they were covering the lower part of his face, cringing.

 

He felt his lips form a slight pout as he stared up at the ceiling in mild frustration, wondering how Jungkook still had the ability to do this to him--to throw him off guard so completely.

 

It really wasn't good for his heart. In more ways than one.

 

"Interesting choice, by the way," he murmured, after a moment, the words slightly muffled by the blanket. At Jungkook’s questioning noise, he pointed up at small, faintly glowing shapes on the ceiling. “The stars.”

 

“Hm?" Jungkook sounded bit distracted. "Oh... yeah. D’you like them?”

 

“Well...” Yoongi hedged, “I mean, they’re not something you’d usually see in...”

 

Jungkook chuckled. “A bedroom that doesn’t belong to a five year old?”

 

Yoongi laughed. “Well... I was going to say a seven year old. But, yeah, pretty much. I like them, though,” he added. “I... I guess they make for an interesting conversation piece, huh?”

 

“Apparently,” Jungkook murmured. “I mean, you’re the first person who’s actually seen them.”

 

“I... am?” He couldn’t help but glance in Jungkook's direction, surprised by the admission.

 

“Yeah. I only put them up... ah, a month or so ago. Before the break. And I, uh... well,” he seemed to hesitate. “Anyway. I guess I’ll end up losing part of my deposit when they have to redo the paintwork on the ceiling, but--I dunno, I like them. I was... in a bit of rush, when I was looking for a place, last summer. This one had the option of coming already furnished. But it’s kind of, well...”

 

“Bland?” Yoongi offered. “I mean...” he hastened to add, “it’s nice and all, but...”

 

“No, you’re right.” Jungkook didn’t sound offended. “Pretty much the only thing I actually chose myself was the couch. I’ve been meaning to get around doing some more decorating... making it feel a bit more, you know..."

 

"A bit more you?" 

 

"Mmh. Yeah."

 

Yoongi huffed out a quiet laugh. "Right. And... this is how you decided to start?"

 

"Guess so."

 

“You didn't think of maybe, just... I don't know, buying some art for the walls or something?"

 

There was a pause. “Mm, yeah... that’s not a bad idea, actually," Jungkook mused, "maybe I’ll do that next.”

 

Yoongi couldn’t resist giving Jungkook an incredulous stare, even though the alpha wouldn’t be able to see him. How had... this--glow in the dark stars--been his first thought, and not, say... a few film posters? Or... a nice framed set by a photographer he liked, or something? He knew Jungkook was into photography. He could actually make out what looked like a sizeable collection of photos, on the wall above the dresser opposite--though it was too dark to see them properly.

 

Still... he had to admit, the stars were kind of... pleasant to look at. Soothing, in a strange way. He squinted up at the ceiling, examining them. “Did you... hey, are they in the constellations?”

 

“Yeah. Well, some of them. I got bored after a bit. I guess I ordered them because I was just--y’know, lying here one night, and I was thinking about how when I was a kid, my cousins and I used to camp out in the garden at my grandparents’ house. I always used to love looking up at the stars--there were so many of them, out in the country. Sometimes, my grandmother would come out and sit with us-- she knew all the names of the constellations, and she’d tell us stories about them."

 

“Oh...” Yoongi said, softly. “That... that sounds really nice.”

 

“Mm. Anyway, I ended up ordering them online before I fell asleep. Didn’t even remember I’d done it ‘til the package arrived in the mail a few days later.”

 

Yoongi hummed. Then, he recalled something he’d been wondering about earlier. “Hey, Kook-ah?”

 

“Yeah, hyung?”

 

“How’d you manage to get that guy’s wallet, earlier?”

 

“Oh... that.”

 

“Yeah. That,” Yoongi echoed. “I mean, when did you even...”

 

Jungkook laughed a little. “Well, my dad has a security team, you know...” Yoongi made a little noise of acknowledgement, brows furrowing slightly, unsure of where Jungkook was going with this. “Most of them are ex-military, or former NIS. When I was a kid, I thought they were really cool. Used to ask them loads of questions. They mostly just ignored me--I guess I was pretty annoying. But, this one guy--he was always more patient than the others, and he taught me a few things, too. Like how to lift someone’s wallet.”

 

“He taught you how to--to pickpocket?” Yoongi asked, disbelievingly.

 

“Uh huh. And how to pick a lock. A few different types of locks, actually.” Jungkook sounded quite proud of himself.

 

“How did he even know how to do all of that?”

 

“Mm... well, I think he might’ve had--I dunno, I guess he didn’t have a criminal record, because my father runs pretty thorough background checks. But... I think he might’ve had a bit of a... a colorful past.”

 

“I take it your dad never knew about any of this?” Yoongi wondered. He could hardly imagine Jungkook’s father being cool with one of his staff teaching his son that kind of stuff.

 

Jungkook laughed wryly. “Nope. Not a clue. I never told him about it, either. It would’ve gotten the guy in a lot of trouble, and he didn’t deserve that. I mean... I don’t think he was a bad guy.”

 

“Right...” Yoongi couldn’t help but feel a little skeptical. Sure, maybe Jungkook was right. Maybe this bodyguard had been a good guy--simply humoring a curious kid.

 

But... it was also true that Jungkook had--well. Maybe naive wasn't the right word, but he certainly had a much more... generous outlook on the world than a lot of people did. Including Yoongi himself.

 

“You don’t believe me?” Jungkook asked.

 

“No, I... well, I don’t not believe you...”

 

“Mm. Convincing, hyung.”

 

"Shut up," Yoongi murmured, through a yawn. "I... I think it's nice."

 

“Nice?” Jungkook sounded amused.

 

“Yeah. Nice,” Yoongi mumbled. “That you... that you see the best in people.”

 

“You... do?” Jungkook sounded almost surprised.

 

“Mm hm.”

 

“I’m glad you think that, hyung,” Jungkook murmured. He was quiet for a moment, and when he spoke again, he sounded a little hesitant. “My ex from high school... she always used to say I was too soft.”

 

Yoongi frowned. “Did she?”

 

“Mmh. Said I was a pushover." Yoongi wasn't quite sure what to make of Jungkook's tone--though he spoke quietly, he didn't sound particularly upset. “That I was an alpha, and I should act like it.”

 

"That's stupid," Yoongi muttered. "You shouldn't have to act any particular way, just because you're an alpha." He bit his lip. "Tae... Tae told me," he admitted, "about what she did. Selling those pictures of you. I, uh... I saw the article."

 

Jungkook was silent for several seconds, long enough that Yoongi felt himself tense.

 

“I’m sorry,” he blurted, “I--it was my fault, I made him tell me. I shouldn’t have--”

 

“No... no, hyung, don’t worry,” Yoongi was relieved to hear that Jungkook didn’t sound mad. “I don’t mind that he told you,” Jungkook continued, “I mean, I wasn’t... I wasn’t trying to keep it from you, or anything. It was just... it was stupid. I probably should’ve never let those photos be taken in the first place. I just never thought she’d...”

 

“Of course you didn’t,” Yoongi murmured. "How could you have known?" He yawned, blinking a few times. It suddenly felt very hard to keep his eyes open. "And... she was wrong, by the way. About you. You're not--I mean..." he felt his brows knit together as he struggled to find the words, "she said that stuff like it's a bad thing. And it's not."

 

Jungkook chuckled. "Does that mean you think I'm a pushover, then?"

 

"I didn't say that," Yoongi huffed. "I just--they're not bad things, okay? I... I like those things about you, Kook-ah." 

 

"Oh..." Jungkook murmured. He sounded pleased, Yoongi thought. "That's... thank you, hyung."

 

Yoongi let out a small hum of acknowledgment, feeling his lips curve upwards ever so slightly as he snuggled further into the blankets, finally giving in to the urge to let his eyes slip closed.

 

He heard Jungkook laugh quietly. "Are you falling asleep?"

 

"No..." Yoongi mumbled. Then, "Maybe..."

 

"Okay, then," Jungkook sounded faintly amused.

 

"Mmh..." Yoongi curled further in on himself, nose pressed to the pillow. "G'night, Kookie." 

 

He'd almost drifted off by the time Jungkook's whispered reply reached his ears, soft and hushed. "Goodnight, hyung. Sleep well."

 

 

*

 

 

Sometimes, even now, Yoongi would find himself waking in the dark, still quiet of the early morning hours, images flashing behind his eyelids as they struggled to open. Sometimes it was gray, smoky tendrils curling under the bedroom door, slowly filling the room until bright, hot flames licked at the walls. Or--sometimes, it was rough hands pinning him down. Hot breath and sharp teeth against his neck--unable to move--trapped--

 

And sometimes, as he jolted awake, breath sucked in with a harsh gasp--he swore he could smell smoke, the taste of it acrid and bitter, crawling up his throat.

 

But that night, he slept deeply, peacefully--almost dreamlessly. But not quite.

 

In his dream, he was surrounded by warmth, his nose filled not with the smell of smoke, but with a comforting, familiar scent. He didn’t know what it was--or where he was, his thoughts blurred with sleep, fuzzy and indistinct. But it didn’t matter. Because he knew, somehow, that he was safe.

 

He was distantly aware of making a pleased sound as he snuggled back into the warmth behind him. There was a heavy weight draped over his waist, and he felt himself being tugged closer. Something soft brushed the back of his neck. The next moment, the weight behind him seemed to abruptly still.

 

Shit...” muttered a quiet voice, low and sleep-hoarse.

 

And then--suddenly, it was all gone.

 

Displeased, Yoongi rolled over, chasing the warmth, the scent, burying his face in something soft, inhaling deeply.

 

After that, he could remember nothing further.

 

 

*

 

 

Yoongi drifted back to consciousness slowly, becoming aware of his surroundings in gradual increments--the scent of cinnamon wrapped around him as surely as the soft blankets, a sense of comfort and contentment that was almost heady.

 

Sleepily, he blinked his eyes open, surprised to find that despite the haze still muddling his thoughts, he felt surprisingly refreshed, well rested.

 

It was as he stared up at the shapes on the ceiling--more difficult to make out now in the soft morning light of the bedroom--that he remembered where, exactly, he was.

 

He was in Jungkook’s bed. And he’d just had the best night’s sleep he could remember having in... well. He couldn’t quite remember when. (And--well.  He should probably feel a little alarmed at the fact, but... it was kind of hard to feel anything but relaxed, right now.)

 

A glance at the empty space beside him--the pillow rumpled and blankets thrown back--confirmed that he was alone in the bed. Jungkook must be up already.

 

Yoongi yawned widely, extending his arms and legs in a pleasant, full body stretch, before sitting up, rubbing his eyes.

 

Lowering his hands, he couldn’t help but let his gaze wander around the room. It had been too dark to see much last night--and besides, he’d been too tired, too distracted to pay much attention to his surroundings.

 

Jungkook’s bedroom was considerably neater than the rest of the apartment--so much so that the sole exception, an armchair in the corner strewn with clothes, stuck out noticeably. 

 

He found his eyes drawn  to the dresser opposite the bed where, above an array of brightly colored bottles--different perfumes and aftershaves--was a large pinboard almost completely obscured by photos.

 

Curious, Yoongi rolled out of bed and shuffled over for a closer look. He’d noticed Jungkook often carried a camera with him, had seen him taking photos now and then--but he hadn’t quite realized the extent of it. He spotted the others--mostly Jimin, Hobi and Tae--in several of them, along with a few others he didn’t recognize, presumably people Jungkook knew from class, or maybe the football team.

 

He was vaguely surprised to realize that he was also in quite a few. Most of them he remembered being taken--though he’d been pretending not to notice the camera--but some of them he didn’t.

 

Yoongi had never really liked having his photo taken---but these were... well, he looked pretty good in all of them, actually. He was sure he’d never even managed to take a selfie this flattering. This was apparently another talent Jungkook had been hiding, he thought, as he studied one particular photo of himself in profile, sunlight catching on his hair.

 

His stomach grumbled, and, realizing he had no idea what time it was, Yoongi glanced back the clock on the nightstand. It was already gone half ten. Just as well that he didn’t have work until later on in the afternoon.

 

He padded down the hall towards the kitchen, pausing with one hand on the door handle  when he heard a voice on the other side.

 

“Yes, I know." Jungkook's voice filtered through the door. He sounded like he was on the phone. “I realize that. Thank you.” The words sounded a little halting. Yoongi frowned. There was a silence, presumably while the person on the other end of the line spoke, and then he heard Jungkook sigh. “Well, you don’t have to worry. It... it isn’t like that.” Another pause. “... That’s not the point,” Jungkook’s voice was quiet now. Yoongi almost couldn’t make it out through the door. “It’s not as simple as that.” There was another silence. “It just isn’t.”

 

Yoongi chewed his lip. He had a pretty good idea who was on the other end of the phone.

 

Feeling guilty about eavesdropping, even if it had been--mostly--unintentional, he tightened his grip on the door handle, rattling it a bit as he pushed the door open slowly, trying to make as much noise as he could.

 

Jungkook was leaning against the kitchen counter, one arm crossed over his chest, the other holding the phone to his ear. Yoongi felt himself wince in sympathy at the noticeably stiff set of his shoulders.

 

He glanced up as Yoongi entered. “I have to go,” he said into the phone. “No--yes. I do appreciate it, but I need to--alright. This evening. I--oh, okay. Yes, talk then. Bye.”

 

He tapped the screen, placing his phone back on the counter.

 

“Morning, hyung,” he murmured, “how are you?”

 

Yoongi opened his mouth, an automatic I’m fine on the tip of his tongue. Something about Jungkook's expression, though--the genuine concern written across his face, the way his wide eyes studied Yoongi carefully--brought him up short. 

 

There was something almost... gentle, in his gaze. It made Yoongi’s stomach flip, not entirely unpleasantly, even as he told himself he was reading too much into it.

 

Of course he’s concerned--you literally had a fucking panic attack in front of him last night. He’s probably just worried you’re going to freak out again.

 

Yoongi shuffled his feet. "I'm... alright," he said. It was the truth, after all. More or less. “I... I slept really well, actually," he added. That was definitely true.

 

Jungkook’s mouth curved into a small, soft smile. “Good,” he said. “Me... uh, me too.” He ducked his head, rubbing the back of his neck. “D’you... ah, d’you want some breakfast? I don’t really have much...”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Whatever is fine.”

 

 

*

 

 

Jungkook hadn’t been exaggerating, it turned out--the options for breakfast consisted of bread, and... bread.

 

Yoongi nibbled on a slice of buttered toast--he’d turned his nose up at the Nutella Jungkook had slathered on his own, though he had finished off the other half of the banana Jungkook had sliced up to add to the top.

 

“Was that your father you were speaking to, before?” He asked, after they’d been eating in silence for a few minutes.

 

Jungkook nodded, still chewing. “Yes,” he mumbled, through his mouthful of food.

 

Yoongi swallowed, putting the toast back down on the plate. “Is everything alright?”

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook murmured. “Yeah, it’s fine.” At Yoongi’s raised brow, he sighed. “Well... the good news is that the alpha isn’t pressing charges.”

 

Yoongi blinked. “Really? That... that is good news.”

 

“I guess so,” Jungkook murmured. He didn’t sound particularly happy, Yoongi noticed. 

 

“Did... did your dad have something to do with that?” He asked, slowly.

 

Jungkook shrugged. “Not according to him, no. But...”

 

“You don’t believe him?”

 

“Knowing my dad... I’m guessing his lawyers probably paid the guy a visit. Made a few not-quite-threats. That kind of thing."

 

"Oh..." Yoongi supposed that was a good thing, if it meant Jungkook wouldn't end up possibly having to go to the court--or at worst, with a criminal record.

 

"But you can still follow through on your side, if--I mean... if you still wanted to..." Jungkook paused, eyes searching Yoongi’s face. "After... after what you told me, I-I'd understand, if you didn't, but... if you did--it wouldn't just be your word against his. I wouldn't... you wouldn’t have to do it alone. I’d back you up. I just... I wanted you to know that."

 

Yoongi just blinked at him for a moment. His throat felt a little tight. “... Thank you,” he managed, finally. “Thank you, Kook-ah, I... I appreciate that.” Then he frowned. “Wait... you said good news. Is there bad news too?”

 

Jungkook seemed to hesitate. Then he nodded, a little reluctantly. “Ah, kind of, yeah... apparently someone at either the police station or the hospital leaked the story to the press.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes widened. “W-what?” He stuttered. “What story?”

 

Jungkook’s lips twisted, eyes fixed on his plate. “‘Jeon Corp heir escapes assault charges’” he recited, sounding uncharacteristically bitter, one hand lifting to form an air quote. “Or something like that.” He glanced up at Yoongi. Yoongi wasn’t sure what his face looked like, but Jungkook’s expression softened. “Oh... no, don’t worry, hyung. My father--he’s got a lot of sources that tip him off about this kind of thing. He called in some favors, and... well, let’s just say it’s not going to make it into the papers.”

 

“Oh.” Yoongi chewed his lip. “Was he... mad?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “Ah... no, not really. He’s gotten what he wanted out of it, anyway,” he muttered.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I...” Jungkook shifted in his seat. “He’s...” he murmured, sounding tentative, “he’s been wanting me to spend more time at the company, shadowing him--stuff like that. And, well...”

 

“... Now you owe him a favor,” Yoongi finished for him, something in his chest tightening uncomfortably. “Shit. I’m sorry, Kook-ah--”

 

“No--” Jungkook cut in, shaking his head, “no, please, hyung--don’t apologize. This is--it’s nothing to do with you, really. He’d have a found a way to get me to agree, sooner or later.”

 

And Yoongi... well, he wasn’t sure that he quite believed that. But he couldn't see how arguing the point was going to help anything. “Are you going to have time to be able to do that, though?" He asked.

  

“I’ll make it work,” Jungkook shrugged. “At least exams are over.”

 

“Yes, but... Kook-ah, you’re double majoring now. And with football on top of that--”

 

Jungkook sighed. “I know that, hyung. But... he doesn’t.”

 

“You still haven’t told him?”

 

Jungkook shook his head, shoulders drooping slightly. “No...” he murmured, staring down at his plate again.

 

Yoongi stared at him--gaze drifting unhappily over the slight frown that lingered on Jungkook's face, the line between his brows, the way he was still looked as if he was holding himself tense, despite the way he was slumped forward slightly--wanting  instinctively to... to do something, to make him feel... better, somehow.

 

Before he was really aware of making the decision, he’d reached out, hand patting Jungkook’s shoulder, a little awkwardly. Jungkook looked back up at him, and he let it drop again, embarrassed.

 

Jungkook was watching him. “Hyung, don’t worry about me,” he said, softly. “Really, I’m fine.”

 

Yoongi let out a little huff. “Who said I was worrying?” He protested, half heartedly--though even as he spoke, an idea was beginning to form in his mind. “I’m not worried.”

 

A half smile lifted the corner of Jungkook’s lips. “Oh, no, of course not,” he murmured. He sounded amused now.

 

“Right,” Yoongi said, decisively, after a moment. Jungkook raised an enquiring brow, looking faintly confused. “We’re going out. Uh, unless...” he hurriedly tacked on, when Jungkook just blinked at him, “I mean, unless you already have plans--”

 

Jungkook was already shaking his head. “No... no, I don’t have plans.” Yoongi couldn’t help but notice he was suddenly sitting up a little straighter. “Where are we going?”

 

Yoongi grinned at him. “You’ll see.”

 

Jungkook’s brows furrowed. “You aren’t going to tell me?”

 

Yoongi shook his head. “No. It’s my turn to surprise you.”

 

 

*

 

 

“Okay...” Yoongi said, glancing sideways at Jungkook, narrowing his eyes. “I give.”

 

Jungkook hummed, making a soft little questioning noise.

 

“How on earth can you possibly be enjoying that?” Yoongi asked, unable to keep the incredulity out of his tone.

 

Jungkook giggled, taking another bite of his ice cream--Yoongi was sure he’d taken an extra big one, just to--show off, or something. “It’s nice.”

 

“It’s like, minus one degrees,” Yoongi argued.

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “You’re exaggerating, hyung.”

 

“Barely.”

 

Jungkook shrugged.

 

“You could have at least gotten something more exciting than vanilla.”

 

A small smile curled the corner of Jungkook’s lips. “I like vanilla,” he murmured. “It’s one of my favorite--” he paused, “... flavors,” he finished. “It’s one of my favorite flavors.”

 

“I thought you liked chocolate?” Yoongi blurted, before he’d thought it through. Because--well, of course he remembered stupid little things like Jungkook’s favorite ice cream flavor--but he didn’t necessarily want Jungkook to know that.

 

“Yeah... that too,” he heard Jungkook reply. His voice sounded a bit... off, somehow.

 

Yoongi kept his gaze fixed ahead, cheeks feeling a bit warm. He took another sip of his coffee. Which was, thankfully, nice and hot--the correct choice for a chilly January day.

 

He supposed maybe, all things considered, it wasn’t the best weather for the spontaneous outing he’d planned--gray and overcast, and not that far above minus one, whatever Jungkook said--but... still.

 

He’d wanted to help take Jungkook’s mind off things... and, well, this place had always done that for him.

 

He’d kept to his promise, refusing to let Jungkook know where they were going--the park wasn’t far from his apartment, anyway.

 

When they’d first approached it, Jungkook had given him a funny look.

 

“Hyung...” he’d started, sounding a bit tentative, “you do know I’ve been here before, right? It’s right in the middle of the city, and--I mean, pretty much everyone has been at least once, for the--”

 

“--for the cherry blossom festival. I know,” Yoongi finished for him.

 

He was a little surprised when Jungkook didn’t ask any further questions, simply followed him down from the central path through the park, which was filled with people--Jungkook was right, the park was pretty popular with both tourists and locals alike, even outside of cherry blossom season.

 

There were a few carts here and there, selling various refreshments and souvenirs, and Yoongi stopped to get himself a coffee, at which point Jungkook wandered off, returning several minutes later with the ice cream cone, pointedly ignoring the judgmental looks Yoongi was sending his way.

 

The number of people around them gradually dwindled as Yoongi led them further and further away from the main drag.  He watched out of the corner of his eye, faintly amused at Jungkook’s confusion as he followed Yoongi off the path entirely.

 

Focused on trying to remember the way, he started a bit when he felt a hand slide into his. When he glanced over, Jungkook was grinning brightly at him. "Don't wanna lose you, hyung," he told Yoongi, "now that we're in the wilderness, and all." 

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Yeah, very dangerous out here,” he murmured, trying not to sound as flustered as he felt. 

 

He couldn't help but notice that the alpha's grip on his hand was a little loose, as if he expected Yoongi to pull away. But... even if Jungkook was just joking around, teasing him, Yoongi found that he... well, he didn't really want to. Jungkook's hand was warm, and his fingers had been getting cold where they poked out from underneath the sleeve of his sweater. 

 

(And--okay... maybe, possibly... he'd always had a bit of a soft spot for holding hands. Not that many people knew about it.)

 

"Come on," he said, tightening his grip a little. They were almost there.

 

He glanced back just in time to see Jungkook's smile widen--eyes crinkling and nose scrunching a bit--as he let himself be tugged forwards until they reached the place Yoongi had been searching for.

 

He hadn’t been here in a good long while, but it was just as he’d remembered. The clearing was tucked away, surrounded by trees and far enough from the main path that it was often deserted--as it was today.

 

Yoongi had always found it strangely peaceful--even the sounds of the city, though still present, seemed muffled, somehow, far removed, in favor of the faint noise of the wind rustling through the trees around them, rippling the water of the pond up ahead.

 

He’d been here many times over the years--enjoying the peace and quiet, the way it was almost always free, if not of people entirely, then at least of the tourists that constantly buzzed around the busier parts of the park. It had been somewhere he could be alone with his thoughts, in a way he couldn’t in the bustling city streets, or in his tiny, cramped shared apartment.

 

He supposed that his fondness for the place might have had something to do with the fact it reminded him just a little bit of home. But even as he’d recall childhood memories of his grandparents’ small house backing onto the lake--a real one, not a man-made pond like this was--he could still see the tops of the skyscrapers, just visible over the trees, be reminded of where he was. How far he’d come. How far he still had to go.

 

“I never realized this place was even here,” Jungkook’s voice cut into his thoughts. “And I must’ve been to this park--well, loads of times. How did you find it?”

 

Yoongi shrugged. “Just stumbled across it one day.”

 

He didn't have the heart to tell Jungkook how exactly that’d happened--that part of the reason he’d become so familiar with this park in the first place was that, years ago, not long after he'd first arrived in Seoul, he’d spent more than one long, cold night huddled in a doorway, or on a bench here, or another one of the parks in the area. That he'd often had to forgo food in favor of the least expensive--but still overpriced--can of descentor he could find so that his scent wouldn’t attract any unwanted attention. (There had still been a few close calls, though.)

 

“It’s... well, it’s always been my favorite place to come, when I want to just want to... get away from everything, even just for a little bit,” he murmured, fidgeting with the zipper of his hoodie, feeling a bit shy all of a sudden. He’d never brought anyone here before.

 

“I can see why,” Jungkook agreed, and Yoongi glanced up at him to see he was smiling warmly. “It’s really pretty here, hyung. I like it a lot.”

 

Yoongi felt the corners of his own mouth turn up. “I’m glad.”

 

They ended up staying in the park--eventually drifting back towards the busier parts, wandering aimlessly--as morning turned to afternoon, grabbing lunch at one of the little touristy cafes, before it was time for Yoongi to head across town for his shift at the cafe.

 

It was evening by the time he finally made it home to his apartment, dragging his feet, dropping his bag in the hallway and making a beeline for the couch as soon as he’d made it in the door.

 

Work had been--tiring. Even more so than usual--he’d barely had time to change into his uniform before Irene had appeared, and, in an uncharacteristic display, flung herself at him, hugging him tightly, telling him how sorry she was for leaving early, that she was so glad he was alright.

 

It turned out that everyone knew about previous night--the police had informed Sungho and insisted that he, in turn, inform his staff so they could take any necessary safety precautions. Word had it that they’d also reprimanded him about his establishment’s lax security-- there weren’t even any CCTV cameras out back, something which had apparently displeased the detectives. There was even talk they might be getting a security guard, though Yoongi would believe that one when he saw it.

 

He’d spent the rest of his shift dodging concerned glances and questions from his coworkers--he was thankful that Lisa, at least, wasn’t on the rota for that day. He knew she was going to be upset when she found out what had happened.

 

It was as Yoongi lay on the couch, internally debating getting up and making dinner versus taking a quick nap, that he found mind drifting back to earlier in the afternoon.

 

Jungkook had insisted on coming with him on the bus across town, saying that he was going to head into campus afterwards so it wouldn’t really be out of his way.

 

Yoongi hadn’t quite believed him on that one, but he’d had a feeling about what the problem might be--which had been proven correct when Jungkook had walked him from the bus stop all the way to the staff entrance in the back, when he'd seen the trepidation with which Jungkook had eyed the alleyway down the side.

 

He wasn’t sure if Jungkook was worried that something else might happen--unlikely, given that it was still broad daylight, not to mention that the alpha in question was currently still in police custody at the hospital--or whether he thought Yoongi might find it difficult to be back there (he didn’t--not really, anyway).

 

He'd been about to reassure Jungkook that he was okay, when his words were cut off as Jungkook suddenly wrapped him in a tight hug.

 

Thank you for today, hyung, he’d whispered.

 

No problem, Kook-ah, Yoongi had whispered back, hoping Jungkook couldn’t hear the suddenly too-fast beat of his heart. Jungkook had released him, then, and Yoongi had turned away with a final mumbled see you.

 

Sighing, Yoongi reached up to grab the blanket that lay over the back of the couch. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt just to... close his eyes, for a bit.

 

The only problem was... then, it was impossible not to let his thoughts wander dangerously further--to places they really, really shouldn’t.

 

He thought of the way Jungkook’s hand had felt in his. His smile--all teeth and dimples and crinkled eyes. Spicy, sweet cinnamon and the way the air smelled after rain (not a little guiltily, he lifted the shirt he wore--the one he’d borrowed that morning--to his nose, breathing slowly in).

 

And he thought of--of the sound of Jungkook’s heartbeat steady under his ear, strong arms holding him close, how safe he’d felt--

 

He swallowed, surprised at the intensity of the feeling that bloomed heavy in his chest. It felt a little (too much) like--longing.

 

Fuck.

 

He was in way too fucking deep.

 

How... how did I let it get this far?

 

Hadn’t he been trying to convince himself, little more than a month ago, that this was no big deal? That things could... what, go back to normal? That how he felt for Jungkook was just... a fleeting crush, a passing infatuation, one that he’d get over, in time.

 

Yeah, right.

 

Yoongi groaned, pulling the blanket over his head as if that would somehow muffle the feelings, soften the persistent little ache that had set up a home for itself inside his chest.

 

But, of course, it didn’t. (It didn’t help that Jungkook’s scent still lingered on his clothes, his skin.)

 

And if--as he drifted to sleep to thoughts of wide, brown eyes and a sweet, crooked smile--if it was also a little too easy, breathing in that scent, to imagine that someone else was there with him--to imagine arms wrapped securely around him, keeping him close, warm, safesafesafe--

 

Well.

 

No-one had to know.