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The President's Son

Chapter Text

“Jimin?”

 

Jimin strolled into his father’s office, stuffing both hands into the pocket of his sweatshirt. He had been summoned home by his father before his Monday morning classes, figuring it was something as simple as wanting to see him for breakfast, but was surprised to find that not only were both of his parents sitting in his father’s office, but that a third member had been invited – one that Jimin didn’t recognize.

 

And yet, that always seemed to be the case. Jimin’s life was filled with uninvited third parties ever since his father had become the president.

 

You know, of the country.

 

His mother reached out for his elbow as he got close. She linked her arm through his and pulled Jimin towards the unidentified man in a suit. “Jimin,” she began, gesturing towards the stoic man with a kind smile, “your father and I wanted to introduce you to one of the new men in your private security detail.”

 

Jimin raised an eyebrow and turned to his father. “Seriously?”

 

His father put both hands in his pockets and sighed heavily. “Jimin, you know I don’t take threats lightly.”

 

Threats?” Jimin scoffed, rolling his eyes. “You mean that little note I got in the mail? Dad, you told me yourself, you get threats every day.”

 

“I am the President of the Republic of Korea,” he explained calmly, as if he’d already had this conversation with his son – which he had. Four times. “And as such, I already have twice as much security prepared for those sorts of threats. But you can bet that as soon as someone tries to threaten my son, things are going to change.”

 

The man in the suit took this as his signal to step forward. He bowed deeply, holding his position as he spoke. “Jeon Jungkook,” he introduced himself. “It’s an honor to serve you.”

 

Jimin narrowed his eyes, scrutinizing the tall man once he stood back up to his full height. “Jeon Jungkook?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

Jimin cringed. “Sir?” he echoed in horror. “Don’t call me sir. That’s what everyone calls my dad.”

 

The man nodded. “Yes, sir.”

 

Jimin stared in disbelief at his blatant refusal to follow his request. Who was this guy? He acted like some mindless robot. Plus, despite this guy’s height advantage, he couldn’t have been much older than –

 

“How old are you?” Jimin challenged, allowing his mouth to get ahead of his brain.

 

Jungkook responded immediately. “Twenty-one, sir.”

 

Twenty-one?” Jimin rounded on his father looking appalled. “Dad, he’s younger than me.”

 

His father’s hand was already up in a placating motion, as if expecting this outburst. “He’s more than qualified, I assure you,” he said. “He graduated with highest honors and has already had more than enough training and experience on my security team. I’m simply transferring him to your detail until we have more information regarding your threat.”

 

“Seriously, of all people, you picked a freakin’ kid?

 

“He’s proven himself to be a worthy candidate,” his father explained in a stern voice. Jimin recognized the tone; it meant that the topic was no longer up for discussion. “At this point, the head of security thought it would be best to increase your security by adding a number of others following you at a distance as well as an added position directly at your side,” his father explained. “There will be other agents taking Jungkook’s place when he’s off duty, but he will be the one you will see most often, so I wanted you two to have the chance to meet here first.”

 

He took another deep breath before delivering the last piece of news that he knew Jimin wouldn’t like to hear. “He’s also been instructed to remain within an arm’s length distance of you while the rest of your agents will maintain their usual distance.” Jimin opened his mouth to complain, but he was cut off again. “There will be no debate on this matter, and you will accept it like the adult that you are.”

 

Jimin didn’t feel very adult when the entire situation felt suspiciously like babysitting.

 

“Fine,” he grumbled. “Whatever.”

 

Jimin’s mother extended a hand, rubbing his back soothingly. “It’s for your safety,” she whispered in a reassuring tone. “I’m sure it won’t be for long.”

 

But like any good son, Jimin crumbled under his mother’s gentle words of reassurance while still managing to give one last eye roll for good measure. “Yeah, I got that.”

 

She patted him once more on the back before slowly dropping her hand. “Do you have your panic button with you?” Obediently, Jimin pulled out the black device from his pocket, showing it to his mother. “Good,” she said with an encouraging nod. “Don’t ever leave your dorm room without it, alright? It’s the best way to get everyone in the security team’s attention, Jimin. It’s for your – ”

 

“I know – it’s for my safety. I got it.”

 

And he left the room without turning to catch the exhausted look shared between his parents.

 

*

 

Jimin grabbed his jacket and backpack that he’d left by the door and swiftly exited the building. He didn’t have to check to see if his latest security detail was following him as he caught the murmured, “Wings is on the move,” from behind his back. He needn’t have worried about the security agent keeping up, however, when the man – the boy – suddenly reached his hand out in front of Jimin to open the car door for him.

 

Apparently he wasn’t going to let Jimin’s sour attitude get in the way of doing his job.

 

Jimin climbed into the back seat of the black SUV. He went to close the door behind him when he saw a second body climbing in after him. He huffed audibly in frustration and slid over until he was pressed as close as he could get himself to the opposite window. When the door closed behind the security agent, the driver shifted the car into gear and began to move towards his college campus.

 

Jimin’s temper rose the longer he sat in the silent, contained space. He began murmuring to himself, knowing full well that his security agents were required to fulfill their job no matter their opinion of their target. It gave Jimin a sick sort of pleasure to complain openly about this boy when he knew the agent could do little to retaliate.

 

“I can’t believe my parents stuck me with another agent,” Jimin grumbled. He crossed his arms and let his gaze remain steadfast, staring out the window. “Not to mention, someone younger than me.” He sent a quick glance over his shoulder, curious as to whether or not he was getting a rise out of this agent. “What a tool,” he murmured, shaking his head when the man made no sign of hearing him.

 

He was about to continue his endless stream of putdowns, but a levelheaded voice finally responded in a light tone. “You don’t have to like me, sir,” he said. “You just have to let me do my job and there won’t be any problem.”

 

Jimin scoffed disapprovingly, hoping it would disguise his surprise at the agent that had the guts to actually talk back to him. “Good,” he muttered under his breath. “I wasn’t planning on liking you.”

 

The agent made no response, but Jimin pressed on nonetheless. “I mean – I have more than enough people surrounding me at all hours of the day anyway. I really don’t need another one.”

 

“I’m afraid that’s not your call, sir.”


“Seriously,” Jimin spat, voice escalating as he turned in his seat to face the agent head on. “If you call me sir again, I’m actually going to punch you.”

 

Jimin went red with fury as he caught a slight quirk of the agent’s lips. He replied cockily, “Yes, sir.”

 

*

 

Jimin’s punches, he quickly figured out, were easily blocked by special agents, even the ones that were younger than him. His first punch had missed the agent’s bicep when he had quickly shifted to the side while the second had been easily caught in his palm, as if he were doing nothing more than catching a pesky bug.

 

The worst part wasn’t even the fact that Jimin had let himself be so easily deflected by this kid. It was that stupid smile that spread across the agent’s face when he had. That stupid – stupid – smile.

 

God, he couldn’t even think of a good insult for the guy.

 

Jimin fumed silently as he walked across campus to his first class. The fresh, autumn air might have calmed his ire, but this kid, two years Jimin’s junior, was able to keep up at his side without so much as a drop of perspiration.

 

Jimin cursed the man’s long legs.

 

“So, you’re just going to tag along at my heels all day?” Jimin asked. “You don’t even have the decency to give me at least a few yards of space so I can walk in peace?”

 

“That is my job, sir,” the agent smoothly answered. “I was added to your security detail because they needed someone within a close proximity to you at all times.”

 

“Ok – stop. I know you really think this is funny and all, but I really hate being called sir. I can’t get the house staff to stop, so the least you could do – if you’re going to spend all of your time with me anyway – is call me by my name.”

 

There was a moment of silence where Jimin wondered if he actually managed to ditch his new security agent after all. He started to slow his footsteps, but then a low voice from behind him responded.

 

“It’s against protocol,” the agent explained quietly.

 

Jimin let the news sink in. He tried a softer approach. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

 

The agent pondered this for a moment before slowly conceding. “I suppose I can do that if it would make you feel more comfortable… Jimin.”

 

Jimin mentally patted himself on the back for a job well done.

 

“Perhaps, then, you could also call me by name rather than addressing me as ‘a tool’?” The agent glanced sideways at Jimin with a measured expression before introducing himself again. “My name is Jungkook.”

 

Jimin let a small, tentative smile curve his lips. “Yeah, ok. Sure. Jungkook.”

 

Abruptly, Jimin stopped at an intersection as a cluster of students pass, all talking excitedly with one another. He knew the drill. When there were too many people around on his walk to class, Jimin had to keep his distance from his peers. Or rather, the agents surrounding him all tended to simply push everyone out of their way. Jimin wasn’t exactly inclined to become the most hated student on campus because he had a posse of bullies following him around all day. He sighed softly at the interruption to his regular morning routine and stepped on the grass beside the pavement until the area had cleared. He watched Jungkook carefully sidestep in front of him in a protective stance until the group had passed. Once they resumed walking, Jungkook cleared his throat and began again.

 

“To answer your previous question – yes. I’ll spend most of the day with you,” Jungkook continued as if their conversation hadn’t stopped. “Typically, you will have three agents, each assigned to eight-hour shifts. Normally I’ll be with you in the evenings, but we all thought it would be best if this week I stayed for the day in twelve hour increments to get better acquainted with your schedule.”

 

Jimin snorted. “Lucky you.”

 

There was a soft sigh to Jimin’s left. “I’m beginning to agree.”

 

Jimin’s head snapped to the side at the note of frustration in Jungkook’s voice. “Are you giving me attitude right now?”

 

Jungkook’s eyes only briefly glanced in Jimin’s direction, as if weighing the consequences of his next action, before he revealed his true age and rolled them up to the sky with a huff. “Well, you started it…”

 

Jimin startled himself as he chuckled at his snarky answer. He thought that he might not mind this Jungkook as much as he thought he would.

 

*

 

Jimin sat through two extraordinarily dull lectures from his professors before being released from class to find something to eat for lunch. Rather than follow his classmates to the student cafeteria, Jimin veered off the path to the nearest café. Inside were a few solitary students working on homework assignments over their lunch hour. Before Jimin could even enter the area, as was customary, Jungkook reached across and put a hand on his chest to stop his movement.

 

“Wait here,” he murmured quietly as the agents surrounding them moved swiftly to their usual positions upon entering an unknown establishment.

 

Jimin paused in his steps, as he was somewhat accustomed to doing, while he waited for the other security agents following him to sweep the area inside for any oddities. In less than thirty seconds, he received the all clear and Jungkook gestured towards the door.

 

Jimin ordered a simple ham and cheese sandwich from the cashier and smiled politely when the, apparently new, cashier giggled over his presence. Most of the people on campus were generally used to his daily presence, so much so that he had grown comfortable with the way everyone simply acknowledged him with a kind smile and stayed out of his way most days. But after swiping his card, the new girl nervously pulled out her cell phone and asked for a picture with him.

 

And Jimin, being the obedient President’s son, graciously agreed.

 

Once he’d found a small table in the corner, Jimin dropped his backpack onto the floor and exhaled as he slouched into his seat.

 

But then the chair beside him scraped loudly across the floor and Jungkook filled the open space.

 

“…the hell?” Jimin murmured, looking at him in surprise. “Why are you sitting with me?”

 

Jungkook remained somewhat stiff in his chair as he continued to survey the area. “Well, I could stand directly behind your shoulder, but I figured with the stink you threw earlier, you wouldn’t want to look like a mafia boss.”

 

Jimin snorted at the surprising accuracy of the statement. “You’re probably right.”

 

Jungkook spared him a brief glance to smile somewhat apologetically in his direction. “It’s part of my job,” he elaborated. “And no one else is using the chair,” he added with a small shrug. “Your father wanted someone directly at your side at all times rather than someone three meters away.”

 

Jimin frowned at the knowledge. “So, what,” Jimin continued with a wry tone, “you have to watch me in the bathroom?”

 

Jungkook smirked in amusement. “If you’re into that, I suppose.”

 

Jimin made a face and slugged the agent in the shoulder. Jungkook seemed to allow Jimin to hit him this time, but Jimin found he was more annoyed that the agent wasn’t even fazed by the light punch. “Gross.”

 

Jungkook carefully folded his hands together on the small café table and leaned forward as he continued his explanation. “If you’re in a contained space without individuals present, I’m allowed to stand outside the door. Your dorm room, for instance,” Jungkook pointed out. “If you want me out, I can stand in the hallway. Otherwise, I’m only allowed to leave you with pre-approved individuals.”

 

“You have a list that dictates who I’m allowed to see in my room alone?” Jimin scoffed in disbelief at his father’s overprotective nature. “Are you serious?”

 

Jungkook shrugged, as if to say, “What can you do?”

 

“I follow my orders, Jimin. Until we investigate further into the threats you’ve been receiving, my job is to stay directly by your side.”

 

Jimin shook his head in annoyance and tried to finish his sandwich in just a few bites. Before he was able to do so, Jungkook glanced again around the perimeter before he leaned in slightly with a lowered voice.

 

“You know you can go about your day like usual, right? You don’t have to do anything special because your security increased.”

 

Jimin made a confused face. He crumpled the saran wrap from his sandwich into a ball and turned to Jungkook. “What are you talking about?”

 

“I mean – I appreciate that you came to a smaller place to eat lunch, but we can handle a cafeteria without problem. We’re trained to have you in any location, provided we know the layout ahead of time, so you don’t need to avoid sitting with your friends in the cafeteria on my account.”

 

Jimin eyes hardened into a glare before icily responding, “I know that.”

 

Jimin stood abruptly from his chair, leaving Jungkook to follow silently behind him.

 

*

 

That evening after classes, Jimin had allowed Jungkook into his dorm room to familiarize himself with the space. He checked various points of entry, ensuring that no one could get in without access through the hallway door. He had just finished scouring the room when Jimin heard a noise of protest at the end of the hallway that sounded just a bit too familiar.

 

“Are you serious? How long have you known me? Come on, let me in!”

 

Jungkook’s face turned serious as he immediately turned on his heel and exited Jimin’s bedroom with a hand on his holster. Without looking at Jimin, Jungkook murmured, “Wait here,” and reached out a hand to signal for Jimin to wait in his room, but Jimin simply rolled his eyes and followed after his security agent.

 

“You’re worrying over nothing,” Jimin muttered. He had just managed to take a step across the threshold to address the familiar voice in the hallway when, all at once, he was spun around in a one-eighty until his back crashed up against his bedroom wall.

 

Jungkook’s arm was splayed out across Jimin’s chest, pressing him forcefully into the wall, while the other had pinned his wrist against the surface directly beside his head. He was too stunned, staring up at Jungkook’s wide-eyed glare, to notice the pointed light switch jabbing into the middle of his back.

 

“I told you to wait.”

 

Jimin’s breath caught in his throat as Jungkook growled menacingly at him.

 

“I can’t do my job if you won’t follow my directions, and I’m not about to let you get away with any shit that could jeopardize your safety and get you killed just because you can’t follow a simple direction.”

 

Jimin’s mouth gaped. He couldn’t help but take in the dark eyes that had contained amusement throughout most of the day, but now were absolutely terrifying. All at once, the reality of Jungkook’s job title finally sunk in.

 

Jimin could no longer see the face of the boy that was supposed to be a mere twenty-one years old.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jimin apologized, cowering under his gaze without realizing. “It’s just – it’s just Taehyung. The person in the hallway, he’s – he’s my friend. He lives a few doors down from me.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes narrowed. “Be that as it may, I do not know him and need to verify his identity before he sees you. No questions asked. Do you understand?”

 

Jimin nodded fervently.

 

“I need you to say it,” Jungkook demanded. “Do you understand?”

 

“Y-yes.”

 

Without a look back, Jungkook pushed away from the wall and reentered the hallway.

 

Jimin exhaled slowly, staring blankly at the wall across from him. He remained in place with the light switch jammed into his spine, trembling slightly as the adrenaline coursing through his body gradually simmered down.

 

By the time he had managed to catch his breath and shakily pushed away from the wall, Jungkook stepped back into the room and softly murmured, “He’s all clear. You can come out, now.”

 

Jimin obediently followed, feeling a bit like a lost puppy in his own dorm. He trailed behind Jungkook down the barren hallway. It was entirely empty with the exception of several security agents on both ends and his best friend standing nearly twenty yards away.

 

“Jimin.”

 

Jungkook’s voice shook Jimin from his thoughts. He blinked up at him in response, not quite trusting himself to speak just yet.

 

“I’m sorry if I scared you,” Jungkook quietly apologized, glancing down at him, “but I need to know that I can protect you without worrying about what you’ll do when I’m not looking. Can I trust you?”

 

Jimin made an awkward spluttering sound. “You d-didn’t scare me…” he stammered with an insincere laugh.

 

Jungkook snorted in response. “Sure.”

 

“And…” Jimin swallowed, feeling oddly moved by Jungkook’s question. “Yes. You can trust me.”

 

Jungkook smiled. “Then we should be able to get along just fine.”

 

As they reached the end of the hallway, Taehyung had his arms crossed and his bottom lip jutted out. He was in full on pout mode.

 

“Jimin!” he called out once they had gotten closer. “They won’t let me in to see you!”

 

“Yeah, I have new rules or whatever,” he mumbled, equally as frustrated by the new security measures.

 

“I can’t see you?” Taehyung asked, suddenly worried that Jimin’s beefed up security would also mean he couldn’t have access to his friend. He looked worriedly around at the other agents that had seen him and known him already for several years. “Guys?” he pleaded with them. “You know me! Come on, I’m not going to hurt him! He’s my friend!”

 

“Kim Taehyung?” Jungkook verified. “May I see your ID?”

 

Taehyung sent another look of disbelief in Jimin’s direction – one which Jimin tried to avoid as the guilt for everything that Taehyung had to go through began to well up inside of him.

 

With a stomp of his foot, Taehyung finally dug around in his wallet for his ID. He shoved it forcefully into Jungkook’s face. “There. Can I talk to my friend now?”

 

Jungkook tried to remain calm in front of Taehyung’s stubborn behavior, clenching his jaw to keep from blurting out the first thing on his mind. “I’ll need to add your name to our list of approved individuals, but for the time being you’ll need supervision in the room if you plan to close your door. Ah,” Jungkook murmured as he nodded towards the man approaching them from the other end of the hallway. “And it appears your supervision is here.”

 

Jimin stared at the dark-haired man that had approached and realized that this was one of the other agents assigned to protect him and had come to replace Jungkook.

 

“Jimin, this is Min Yoongi. He’s taking the night shift this week, but normally you’ll see him when you head to classes in the morning.”

 

“He’s my – wait, supervision?” Jimin ignored Yoongi’s nod at his introduction and returned to the critical problem at hand. “I don’t need a babysitter in my own bedroom!

 

Jungkook exhaled slowly. “If an individual is not approved, you are not allowed to spend time with them behind closed doors without an agent present.”

 

“Is anyone on that list of yours actually my age? Or are they all family and staff?” Jimin challenged. “Call my dad – he knows Taehyung personally. He even came with us on vacation last summer. Do you really think the secret service would have let him anywhere near my dad if he wouldn’t be approved to be on your stupid list?”

 

Jungkook glanced briefly at the new agent, Yoongi, as if sending him a silent beacon of distress.

 

“It’s your call,” Jungkook muttered. “You’re with him for the rest of the evening.”

 

Yoongi lazily eyed Taehyung before speaking in a low tone. “Yeah, he’s harmless. I remember this one from their vacation. Kind-of a hard to forget.”

 

Taehyung turned to Yoongi with newfound interest. “You remember me?” he asked. He grinned. “I’m flattered.”

 

Yoongi’s expression didn’t falter as he easily responded, “Don’t be. It’s part of the job description.”

 

Jungkook turned back to Jimin. “I’ll run a background check tonight to verify that Taehyung is allowed. Otherwise, you have a one-night free pass.”

 

Jimin smiled, grateful that Jungkook was finally willing to bend the rules in Jimin’s favor. He was about to say as much when Taehyung suddenly stepped up to the plate.

 

“If you’re unsure, you can always frisk me,” he happily announced, eagerly holding his hands out to the side in preparation as he gave Yoongi a cheeky smile.

 

Yoongi, on the other hand, sent a disgusted look back. “You better go now before I change my mind.”

 

Jimin quickly grasped Taehyung’s wrist and dragged him back to his dorm before closing the door behind him.

 

“Wow,” Taehyung muttered, flopping onto Jimin’s bed like it was his second home – which, it basically was – and cushioned his head beneath his hands. “The new security rules totally suck, but at least you got a couple of lookers out of it, right?”

 

Jimin sent him a withering glare. “Yeah, you go ahead and enjoy the eye candy. I, on the other hand, will die in solitude while they keep even more people away from me than they did before.”

 

“Ok, you’re making this out to be worse than it is,” Taehyung challenged. “You said yourself that there’s some new eye candy out there! Jimin, there could be worse things than spending your day looking at a beauty like that!

 

Jimin’s eyes subconsciously went to his bedroom door, verifying that it was closed, before looking at Taehyung with a tired glare. “I don’t think the entire building heard your announcement that the president’s son is gay, Taehyung. Why don’t you say that a little bit louder?”

 

Taehyung sat up and moved to the foot of the bed to allow room for Jimin to sit beside him. “Ok, I don’t get it,” he said. “What’s the point in coming out if you’re not going to do anything about it?”

 

Jimin slid across his bed until he was propped up against the wall and let his head roll backwards to hit the concrete with a solid thump. “I’m not out,” he reminded Taehyung, as if this had been a conversation they had held many times before. “Not really. My family doesn’t even know I’m gay. Do you really think I’m about to go to some nightclub and let myself get photographed with another man just so I can completely screw up my father’s reelection campaign?”

 

“You know that you don’t have to go to a nightclub and get drunk just to meet someone, right?” Taehyung asked. “I’ve got tons of friends I can introduce to you. Have coffee – go to a restaurant – it looks like you’re spending time with a friend, even if you’re photographed.”

 

Jimin shrugged, shifting his gaze into his lap. “Well… maybe after I tell my parents.”

 

Taehyung snorted. “Yeah. I’ll believe that when I see it.”

Chapter Text

The following day, Jimin staggered out of bed, still in a stupor from the lack of sleep he’d had after his long evening with Taehyung and the subsequent hours that he’d then spent on his homework. Truly, he was lucky that he was coherent enough that he even remembered to slip his panic button into his front pocket before leaving his room.

 

When he opened the door, he was mildly surprised to see that Jungkook was back outside his door and waiting for Jimin to emerge from his room.

 

“Good news,” Jungkook announced when they set off across campus. “Taehyung has been approved for your list. He shouldn’t have much of a problem in the future now that Yoongi and I have met him in person and can verify his identity.”

 

Jimin slowly turned his head in Jungkook’s direction. He was still feeling the lingering effects of sleep, as was common for most sleep-deprived university students, and his brain was taking a bit longer to connect just what Jungkook was talking about, let alone try and remember who Jungkook was and why he was here again.

 

As he finally made sense of the situation, Jimin sighed. “Oh, joy,” he murmured sarcastically. “I’m glad you gave me permission to have friends.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes but obediently stepped in line beside Jimin. “You know, we’re just trying to keep you safe, Jimin. We’re not trying to keep your friends away. In fact,” he continued, “your father spoke so highly of him, that I actually suggested that we give him a codename as well, considering how much time I suspect he spends with your family. That way, he won’t run into nearly as many security issues.”

 

Jimin turned towards Jungkook in surprise. “Seriously?”

 

Jungkook smiled. “Seriously. For security purposes, he’ll be known in the future as ‘Butterfly.’”

 

For just a moment, Jimin felt oddly touched at Jungkook’s gesture.

 

The rest of the day continued much like the first. The only change was the morning coffee delivery from Taehyung – and the fact that none of the security guards stopped him from seeing Jimin in the first place.

 

“Good morning!” he happily sang to Jimin. “I thought you could use a pick-me-up before your exam.”

 

Jimin groaned, but eagerly reached out for the warm glass. “Don’t remind me,” he muttered. “I’m so tired my eyes hurt. I think I only slept two hours last night.”

 

Taehyung made a sound of pity before not-so-casually segueing the conversation with a whisper so Jungkook couldn’t overhear them. “So… where’s the cute one?”

 

Jimin raised an eyebrow in question as he sipped his coffee.

 

“The serious looking one? You know,” Taehyung reminded him with a knowing smile, “the one who said I was hard to forget?”

 

Jimin smiled. “In all fairness, Tae, you’re hard for anyone to forget.”

 

“Yeah, but none of them looked like that guy, did they?”

 

Jimin shook his head, laughing. “He’s supposed to have the morning shift in a few days, I think.” With a mischievous expression, Jimin looked over at his friend. “But if you keep bribing me with coffee every morning, I might let you talk to him, and I won’t even be bothered by it.”

 

“Oh my God. Best – friend – ever,” Taehyung loudly declared, punctuating each word. He leapt at Jimin, hugging him tightly. Jungkook flinched out of the corner of Jimin’s eye as he was caught off guard by the sudden movement before slowly relaxing back into his usual rigid posture. “I’ll bring you one every day!” Taehyung enthused. “You won’t regret it.”

 

“Just don’t forget, or I won’t put in a good word for you,” Jimin teased as Taehyung pulled away.

 

Taehyung simply grinned in response. “Yeah, ok. Hey, I’m going to be eating with some of my friends from class, today, if you want to join us.”

 

Jimin smiled timidly. “Yeah, maybe.”

 

So, after Taehyung left, Jimin went about his day as usual. He attended two classes, this time a lab and a group discussion rather than two lectures. Afterwards, he walked to the same café. One of the usual employees was at the register today, smiling kindly at Jimin as she put in his regular order without needing to ask him for it.

 

As he got his food, Jimin quickly moved to the same table in the corner and dropped into a nearby seat. He had only taken one bite before noticing that Jungkook was not sitting as he had the day before. He was hovering over Jimin’s shoulder at attention with his hands clasped in front of him.

 

Jimin kicked the chair leg, sending the chair skittering across the floor with a loud screech, and glanced in Jungkook’s direction. “I thought you didn’t want me to look like a mafia boss?”

 

Jungkook glanced at the chair Jimin seemed to be offering. “Oh,” he muttered to himself. “I thought Taehyung and his friends were supposed to be coming today.”

 

Jimin’s brow furrowed. “What? No one’s coming.”

 

Jungkook blinked before slowly moving towards the proffered seat and sitting down. “But Taehyung invited you to eat with him and his classmates. I assumed – ”

 

“Ah.” Jimin nodded in understanding. “No – they’re at the cafeteria.”

 

“So, then…” Jungkook trailed off, lifting a hand to scratch his head in confusion. “You don’t… like his friends?”

 

Jimin shrugged. “No idea. I’ve never met them.”

 

Jungkook sat in silence, pondering these words. He quirked his head to the side as he came to a conclusion of his own.

 

“You won’t eat in the cafeteria?”

 

Jimin took another bite of his sandwich. He waited until he had swallowed before answering somewhat sarcastically. “Ding, ding. We have a winner.”

 

Jungkook frowned. “Jimin,” he began carefully, “you know that you shouldn’t be – well, afraid of going somewhere busy, right? I mean – we’re fully equipped to handle large crowds. Even with the threats against you. If you want to eat lunch with Taehyung and his classmates, you can – ”

 

“That’s… not the reason.”

 

Jimin fought hard to keep the blush from his cheeks as he felt, rather than saw, Jungkook fixating his attention on his profile rather than surveying his surroundings. “Then – what is the reason?”

 

He slowly set down his sandwich and reclined in his chair, attempting to appear nonchalant as he spoke, despite his rather tense muscles. “My dad was elected two months before I started university,” he said. “So, not only did I have to get used to a security detail for the first time, but I also had to do that while trying to meet new classmates.” Jimin’s fingers came together in his lap, fidgeting and picking at his nails. “The first day I went to the cafeteria, I ate alone. Everyone was too scared to even approach me because of the agents, since they don’t exactly look inviting.” He nodded in explanation towards the stoic faces of his surrounding guards. “The second day, someone from one of my classes tried to talk to me, but they spooked an agent and ended up face down on the table with an arm twisted behind their back.”

 

Jungkook cringed as he heard Jimin’s story. Already having an established routine and friends prior to receiving a security detail would have been difficult enough to manage as it was, but being introduced to such a thing without so much as a friendly face to help you out would have been terrible, to say the least.

 

“So, you can understand why I refuse to step foot in the cafeteria again,” Jimin concluded his story with a simple shrug. “I figured eating in a coffee shop that didn’t have much foot traffic and choosing a table in the corner so you can see all of the visible points of entry would at least make it better for the agents, if nothing else.”

 

Jungkook nodded solemnly at his story. “So, then – Taehyung?” he asked. “How did that happen?”

 

Jimin snorted. “Taehyung’s too stubborn for his own good. I gave up on finding any friends after a few months, but he just kept trying to bulldoze his way through my security, even when I tried to ignore him.” Jimin smiled fondly at the memory. “He just can’t take no for an answer.”

 

Jungkook sent out a silent thank you to Taehyung, now realizing just how close he and Jimin truly were. He even felt a little guilty about trying to restrict Taehyung’s access to his room the night before.

 

“Well,” Jungkook continued, “he’ll certainly keep Min Yoongi on his toes. That’s for sure.”

 

Jimin’s head snapped towards Jungkook in alarm. “You heard us talking?”

 

Jungkook nodded, either oblivious or unconcerned with Jimin’s panicked expression. “Your friend – he has a crush on the agent from last night, right? Yoongi?”

 

Jimin blinked at his casual tone. “You’re… ok with that? I mean – Taehyung being gay, and all.”

 

Jungkook shrugged, appearing as if the thought that he wouldn’t be ok with Taehyung’s sexual orientation was a completely foreign concept to him. “Sure, why not? I mean – you don’t have to worry about me judging who you hang out with,” he assured him. “I like to think I’m a forward-thinking kind-of a guy.”

 

Jimin nodded and smiled slightly at his comment.

 

He could only hope his opinion wouldn’t change if he ever found out about Jimin.

 

*

 

Within the next week, Jimin slowly fell into a routine with his new security detail. Yoongi began to escort Jimin to class while Jungkook generally arrived sometime after he had returned to his dorm in the middle of the afternoon. A third agent tended to keep his shift between midnight and eight in the morning, stationed outside of Jimin’s door for the entire duration. Jimin had only met him a few times in the morning when he left early for class, but otherwise didn’t even see him most days.

 

As promised, Taehyung brought Jimin a cup of coffee every morning, just to have the opportunity to talk to Yoongi. Or, as Jimin began to realize, tease Yoongi. Taehyung seemed to be doing just about everything in his power to get Yoongi to pay him special attention, including – and not limited to – poking fun at his quiet demeanor and physically invading his personal space. Only once had Yoongi ever broken his silence to demand that Taehyung not stand so close that he was stepping on his toes, but Jimin was sure he had seen Yoongi smile when Taehyung had blushed lightly in embarrassment and taken a small step away.

 

Anyone watching from the outside would have assumed Yoongi had zero affection for Taehyung, but Jimin began to notice an odd shift in his new security guard. During lunch, just as Jungkook had done, Yoongi sat in the chair beside Jimin and kept him company. Most days, Jimin filled the silence and initiated a conversation, but somewhere after a few weeks, Yoongi had begun talking before Jimin had even taken his seat.

 

“Does he have no sense of a personal bubble?” Yoongi ranted. “I mean – he gets that I’m trying to do my job, right? Seriously, what kind of human being tries to hit on you while you’re in the middle of trying to protect someone’s life?

 

Jimin nodded sympathetically, because he knew as well as anyone just what Taehyung could be like. “He always gives one-hundred and ten percent,” Jimin explained. “There’s no halfway with him.”

 

Clearly,” Yoongi continued, running an aggravated hand through his hair. “I mean if he wanted to impress me, he would try, for starters, to ask me out after my shift is over! And even then,” Yoongi ranted, “he should ask me a question and then actually try waiting for an answer, rather than assuming what I’m going to say! I can speak for myself!”

 

Jimin listened to Yoongi spit out his words with an inquisitive tilt of his head. The things he was hearing didn’t sound like Yoongi was truly that upset at Taehyung at all. Rather, that Taehyung simply had poor timing. And if that was the case, then that meant…

 

“Wait – you like Taehyung?”

 

Yoongi blinked in surprise. “What?” He made a face. “No. No, I don’t like Taehyung.”

 

Jimin silently lifted an eyebrow as Yoongi began stumbling through a list of excuses.

 

“You see the way he talks, right? Like he doesn’t care that everyone is watching him. I’m not sure whether he even knows that he’s that loud! Who wants that much attention – really? And he’s, just… way over the top. Have you ever watched him drink coffee?” Yoongi scoffed at the idea of it. “Normal people drink it without a second thought, but Taehyung – that kid acts like it’s a drug. His eyes get all big and he makes that sound – ” Yoongi abruptly cut his words short, turning away from Jimin as his ears began to glow.

 

“You do,” Jimin challenged softly. “Oh my God, you actually like Taehyung.”

 

Yoongi was red at this point. Finally, glancing around at the nearest agent standing in the corner against the far wall, he leaned subtly towards Jimin and lowered his voice. “You don’t need to be so loud,” he hissed.

 

Jimin let out a laugh of surprise. “Holy shit,” he muttered, staring at Yoongi with a completely new lens. “I always assumed you were totally straight and you just tolerated him because he was my friend. And Taehyung – well, I just told him I would let him flirt with you if he brought me coffee every morning, but… Wow.” Jimin dropped both hands to the table as he let the news sink in. He shook his head in disbelief and smirked. “Usually, he hits on whoever he wants and makes bold claims that he can make even a straight man gay, but I never really believed him…”

 

“Ok, let me correct one thing – he didn’t turn me. I wasn’t straight to begin with,” Yoongi snapped in a whisper. “And – I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t spread that around.”

 

Jimin nodded. He understood completely. “Of course. Your secret’s safe with me.”

 

“It’s just…” Yoongi hesitated and swallowed. “In my line of work, it’s not exactly… something that’s easily accepted amongst coworkers.”

 

“I get it. I won’t say anything,” Jimin promised. “And, just to show my thanks, I’ll invite Taehyung to my room this afternoon… at the end of your shift.”

 

Yoongi glanced suspiciously in Jimin’s direction.

 

“That way,” Jimin continued, “you can actually talk to him without worrying about compromising your objective.” Jimin smiled. “I’m sure he’d love to actually hear you respond to something he says once in a while.”

 

Yoongi cleared his throat as his blush returned, but he stubbornly looked in the opposite direction.

 

*

 

As promised, Jimin sent Taehyung a text to meet him at his room after class. Their meeting couldn’t have been planned any better. The moment Jimin and Yoongi turned the corner, they found both Taehyung and Jungkook standing at the door to his room. While Taehyung remained slouched against the wall in a relaxed pose, waiting for his friend to arrive, Jungkook immediately straightened his back and stood at attention at their arrival.

 

“Right on time,” Jimin said with a smile towards Jungkook. Then, glancing in Taehyung’s direction, added, “And, surprisingly, so are you.”

 

Taehyung pulled a face at Jimin while Yoongi was busy exchanging information with Jungkook in low tones. “Whatever,” he grumbled. Taehyung looked down at his phone, quickly sending a message to someone that had contacted him, and asked, “You said there was a homework emergency? Did you lose your notes or something?”

 

Jimin’s eyes lit up in excitement. “Ah – no. That was a lie. Sorry,” he apologized without an ounce of sincerity.

 

Taehyung’s eyes snapped up and he narrowed his gaze in suspicion. “A lie? Um… Ok?” He scratched the back of his neck. “Wait, so… I’m confused. Why am I here?”

 

Jimin grinned, patting his friend on the shoulder. “You owe me big buddy.”

 

“Huh?” Taehyung’s voice grew a bit more panicked the longer he struggled to understand Jimin’s coded words. “Why do I owe you? What did you do?”

 

Jimin spotted Jungkook moving away from Yoongi and took his chance. “Yoongi, I think you’re off duty, now – I’ll see you in the morning?” He nodded once in Yoongi’s direction, smirking internally at how his usually stern expression had been replaced by something a bit more frightened and timid looking. “And – Jungkook?” Jimin reached out and grabbed onto his wrist before pulling him abruptly into his dorm room and slamming his door closed behind him.

 

“What – Jimin!” Taehyung’s eyes widened in the split second before the door closed. He pounded on the door several times, hollering for some sort of an understanding, before finally quieting down.

 

Jimin stood patiently at the door, a smile on his lips as he began to hear the two exchange soft words, unintelligible through the solid door.

 

“Jimin?”

 

Jimin pulled his ear from the door, as if surprised he had been caught eavesdropping. Of course, he should have known that Jungkook, whom he had brought in behind him, was watching with a keen interest.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

Jimin cleared his throat and stood upright. “I’m – well, nothing,” he said. “I just – you know, Taehyung has been getting on my nerves talking to Yoongi while I’m around, so I thought it would be better if I didn’t have to see it, right?”

 

He mentally patted himself on the back for being able to tell most of the truth without exposing the secret Yoongi had asked him to keep.

 

Jungkook, on the other hand, maintained an impassive expression. Jimin couldn’t tell whether his half-truth had worked on him or not. Before Jimin could even try to decode it any further, he heard the voices in the hallway gradually disappear.

 

“I think they’re gone,” he said, thumbing over his shoulder towards the door in explanation. “You can go back out, if you want to.”

 

But it was now, of all moments, that Jungkook suddenly began to appear uncomfortable. He folded both hands in front of himself, ducked his head, and sighed softly. “If it’s alright, I actually need to stay in here for a moment. There’s, uh… something I think we should discuss.”

 

Jimin was struck by the sudden change in his tone. If he was being this serious, it only meant one thing.

 

“Someone sent me another threat – didn’t they?”

 

Jungkook met his eyes, and then he nodded.

 

Jimin’s legs grew shaky at the news. He managed to stay vertical just long enough for him to make it to the corner of his bed and perch on the edge without appearing as if his legs had given out. “So, uh… what did it say?”

 

“To be honest, it was way too detailed and went on for quite some time,” Jungkook explained, sitting beside him on the mattress. He seemed to be intentionally vague about the contents of the threat, which only made Jimin more concerned about what had been said that made Jungkook feel as if he had to edit their words. “Although – there was something in it that I thought I should let you know.”

 

Jimin swallowed. His mind was already beginning to calculate the worst possible scenario.

 

“I should start by saying – I haven’t told your father.”

 

Jimin blinked in surprise. What was so bad that Jungkook hadn’t given the president a full briefing about the threats his son was receiving?

 

“Jimin…” Jungkook swallowed and glanced down at his folded hands. “Are… are you gay?”

 

Jimin froze.

 

“It’s – this letter,” Jungkook continued quickly, “we already have reason to believe he must be someone who is close enough to you to have either seen or interacted with you in same manner, and he mentioned in his letter that the threat was partially founded on his belief that you are… gay.”

 

Jimin felt tears spring to his eyes. “You mean… someone’s trying to kill me… just because I’m gay?” He frowned at the news. “That’s the reason? Someone doesn’t like that I’m gay, so they want to kill me?”

 

Jungkook’s swallow was audible in the silent room. “So it’s true?”

 

One tear slipped free, sliding over his plump cheeks. He brushed it away quickly while turning his head away at the same time. He hoped that Jungkook wouldn’t notice, but knew that he most likely already had. “Yeah,” Jimin whispered, afraid his voice would crack if he spoke too loud. “I am.”

 

“Does the president – your father – does he know?”

 

Jimin scoffed. “You think that with the reelection on his mind, he has the ability to worry about one more problem from his son?” Jimin tried to laugh at the idea, but it turned into an embarrassing sob. He didn’t want Jungkook to see him like this. He quickly put a hand to his mouth to stop the sound from continuing before muttering a frustrated, “Dammit.”

 

A warm hand tentatively reached out to gently rub his back. “You know, I still mean what I said about Taehyung,” Jungkook reassured him. “Whether it’s you or him, I’m still ok with it. You don’t have to worry about me.”

 

Jimin felt his heart throb at the words. While he still felt mortified that his secret had been revealed in such a manner, he was grateful for Jungkook’s presence in this moment. In the end, it helped hearing Jungkook reassure him that it was ok. After all, other than Taehyung, Jungkook was the only other person in the world that he’d ever told his secret. “I just – I don’t even know how anyone else would have known,” Jimin mumbled in disbelief. “I told Taehyung, but that’s it. He wouldn’t tell a soul, but… maybe someone overheard one of our conversations?” Jimin sighed in defeat. “Maybe they just thought I’m ‘guilty’ by association?”

 

Jungkook’s hand slipped down from the place between his shoulder blades and returned to his own lap as he began to act more like Jimin’s security detail and calculate potential suspects for their investigation. “Do you have an ex-boyfriend or a, um… a ‘hook-up’ that would have told someone else on accident?”

 

Jimin swallowed at the humiliation that was about to follow. “No one,” he admitted. “Not even so much as a visit to a gay bar.”

 

Jungkook nodded. He opened his mouth to ask another question when Jimin suddenly kicked at his nearby desk chair and dropped his head into his hands. “Dammit!” he shouted to no one in particular as the grief slowly washed away, anger filling in its stead. “I never even made an attempt at dating, all because I thought that someone would find out and use it against my dad. But even after all of that tiptoeing around, someone did and now – and now – ”

 

The tears fell once again, this time without restraint. He slowly curled in on himself, hunching over to close himself off from the rest of the world.

 

It wasn’t fair, he told himself. He had given up so much in the last four years, most of it for his father, and even then, he was the one receiving death threats? Jimin was so mad he could spit. The worst part of it all was the fact that even after all of the anger he felt at the situation, he couldn’t even find the strength to hold any of it against his father. He wanted, so badly, to pinpoint the blame on someone, but he couldn’t do that either.

 

Sobs wracked his body. His shoulders shook violently as he tried to stifle the sounds coming from his mouth with the sleeve of his sweatshirt. Then, slowly, warmth began to surround him from all sides, covering his back – his arms – his abdomen. It was only when he was able to catch a breath between hiccupping gasps that he recognized the warmth for what it was.

 

Jungkook had moved forward until he had pressed his chest against Jimin’s back and had securely wrapped him in his arms.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook whispered into his ear as Jimin’s sobs continued. “I’m so sorry – for everything.”

 

Still, even after all of the grief and the anger he felt building up inside, he noticed a twinge of something quite warm and unfamiliar spring to life in his chest.

Chapter Text

Taehyung had taken to dropping off Jimin’s coffee simply in passing in the morning. The first time he had done it, Jimin thought that perhaps the conversation between Yoongi and Taehyung hadn’t gone as well as he had predicted. The second time, however, Jimin noticed that Taehyung had spared Yoongi a glance and smiled secretively at him before giving them both a simple wave and going in the opposite direction.

 

“Ah,” Jimin nodded sagely after sipping his hot coffee. He was walking across campus to his first class of the day with the warm drink cupped between both of his hands as he quietly spoke to Yoongi. “So the two of you hit it off after all?”

 

Yoongi maintained his stone-faced expression, staring fixatedly at their surroundings as he answered in a low voice. “Yes.”

 

Jimin smirked. “I figured as much,” he said. “I guess I just assumed that if you ever did, Taehyung would spend more time around you, not less.”

 

Yoongi sighed, as if debating internally whether or not he actually wanted to have this discussion with his protectee. In a few short seconds, he easily caved and allowed their conversation to continue. “I asked him not to distract me while I was working.”

 

“Wow.” Jimin turned to look at Yoongi with his eyebrows raised in surprise. “And he listened?”

 

Yoongi glanced around their perimeter a bit sarcastically before looking back at Jimin. “Obviously?”

 

Jimin snorted at his attempt at humor. “I don’t think I’ve ever been able to convince Taehyung of anything once he’s set his mind to something.” He glanced over at Yoongi. “He must like you a lot.”

 

Yoongi stubbornly did not reply – but his face certainly turned red.

 

And for some reason, it didn’t fill Jimin with the warm and bubbly thoughts for his best friend like he thought it would.

 

It made him jealous.

 

*

 

“So… I’ve been thinking.”

 

Jungkook trailed along beside Jimin as they strolled off campus at dusk. Jimin had finished his homework early that evening and had decided he was due a celebratory milkshake in town. When he’d told Jungkook as much, he tried to lead Jimin to the black car that his security team always had idling in front of his building. It took some mild convincing on his part to persuade Jungkook that it was far too nice not to walk to the nearest ice cream shop and that they didn’t need to take the car, but he managed to convince him in the end – on the condition that the car would still trail behind them.

 

“Thinking about what?” Jungkook asked.

 

Jimin pulled his oversized sweatshirt down to cover his hands and sighed. “My life.”

 

“Is this conversation about to get philosophical?” Jungkook asked with a snort. When Jimin sent him a sideways glare, Jungkook attempted to politely mask his smile and asked, “What about it?”

 

“Well…” Jimin crossed his arms over his chest. “It kind-of sucks.”

 

There was a surprising burst of laughter from Jungkook that made Jimin look in his direction. He’d heard Jungkook smile, chuckle, and make other general sounds of amusement, but he had never once seen him relax enough to actually laugh openly in front of Jimin before. For a moment, Jimin felt like he was beginning to view him more as a friend than a bodyguard.

 

“Ok, I’ll bite,” Jungkook egged him on with a smirk. “Why does your life suck?”

 

“Well,” Jimin continued in a low voice to try and muffle their conversation from the surrounding security agents. “For starters, I’m getting death threats.”

 

Jungkook nodded sympathetically. “There’s that,” he agreed. “I’ll admit, that definitely sucks.”

 

“Yeah.” Jimin stuffed his hands into the front pocket of his black sweatshirt. “And then there’s that part about being the gay son of the President.”

 

Jungkook thought about this one for a moment. “Yeah, that one can make things complicated.”

 

“And,” Jimin continued somewhat enthusiastically, as if reassured by Jungkook’s acknowledgment of his somewhat pathetic life, “how about the fact that I’ve kept that piece of information to myself for years because I didn’t want it to hurt my father’s career?”

 

“Well, Taehyung knows,” Jungkook reminded him. “And I know, too. Even if you don’t tell anyone else, you can always talk to me when something’s bothering you, Jimin, you know that.”

 

“Obviously,” Jimin grumbled. “That’s what I’m doing now, idiot.”

 

A smile snuck across Jungkook’s lips. He even thought he saw Jungkook’s usually rigid posture relax for just a moment at Jimin’s words. “Fair point.”

 

Their walk continued in silence as Jimin became absorbed in his thoughts. Finally, Jungkook heard Jimin’s second heavy sigh of the night.

 

“I haven’t even dated another guy,” Jimin muttered miserably. “I’ve been so focused on keeping it a secret that I just… pretended I didn’t even want to date in the first place.”

 

At this point, Jimin had been expecting Jungkook’s laughter, but instead he heard nothing. The only sound was the scrape of Jimin’s shoes scuffing the pavement behind him. The agents surrounding him – at least a dozen both in front and behind him – all seemed to move stealthily without so much as a pebble skittering across the sidewalk. It was a bit unsettling, to say the least.

 

“It’s just… Taehyung,” Jimin finally admitted the true dilemma that had been sitting on his brain for most of the week. “He’s been seeing someone recently – someone I think he really likes, and…”

 

“You’re jealous of his freedom.”

 

Jimin stopped walking and stared up at Jungkook with wide eyes. A wave of relief swept over him as Jungkook seemed to understand exactly what he was feeling. “Yes,” he breathed. “I am.”

 

“You’re happy for him… But he gets to be openly gay and in a relationship while you feel like you have to hide it,” Jungkook easily summed up his emotions.

 

Jimin nodded and stared at his shoes. “And that really sucks,” he added as a soft addendum.

 

He silently resumed their walk, only to stumble off the pavement as Jungkook tried to bump his shoulder playfully into Jimin’s. His heart warmed. He figured that this gesture was as close to comforting as Jungkook could get while still technically being on the job.

 

“You know,” Jungkook quietly challenged, “no one’s actually telling you to keep anything a secret.”

 

“Yeah, well…” Jimin scoffed. “They don’t have to.”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “I suppose you’ll never know if you don’t try, though.”

 

Jimin raised a disbelieving eyebrow in Jungkook’s direction. “Really? You think if I told my father’s campaign manager, he would encourage me to spread the word that the man running the entire country has a gay son?”

 

This time, it was Jungkook that stopped walking in front of a closed shop to turn in Jimin’s direction. “Okay, I’m sure his campaign manager would be less than thrilled – but your father could be a whole different story,” Jungkook explained patiently. “I mean – maybe…”

 

Jimin crossed his arms as Jungkook’s sentence trailed off. He waited a beat for him to continue, but he seemed to have spaced out mid-conversation. Jimin resisted rolling his eyes at Jungkook’s bizarre behavior, considering the fact that he was trying to be helpful. “Maybe…?” Jimin prodded in the hopes that the word would spur Jungkook’s memory.

 

But even as he spoke, he realized that Jungkook hadn’t simply lost focus. He noticed that Jungkook’s attention had been pulled elsewhere. His gaze had sharpened on a spot over Jimin’s shoulder, somewhere in the dark shop behind him. Then, without warning, Jungkook’s eyes widened infinitesimally and he threw Jimin to the ground.

 

Get down!

 

Jimin fell to the concrete, knocking the back of his head on the ground. He sucked in a gasp at the sudden, shooting pain and closed his eyes as chaos surrounded him. He was stuck on the pavement, seemingly incapable of moving. Above him, he heard loud cracks and pops as shards of glass rained down upon him. It was all he could do to maintain enough focus to realize that he wasn’t unable to move, but rather that Jungkook was pressing him to the ground and was shielding his body, forcing him to remain immobile.

 

As the shouting and crashing around him turned to a garbled hum of background noise, Jimin slowly opened his eyes to take in the scene around him. Jungkook had flattened Jimin to the sidewalk, covering his entire body from head-to-toe with his own. It seemed an odd moment to consider just how pleasant it felt to have that comfortable, but not overwhelming, weight above him. Even still, Jimin found it altogether not unbearable. The greatest discomfort was the cold ground beneath him that made him want to shiver. Jimin tried to wriggle in his confined space, feeling bits of debris slide from his face and hair, but was startled at Jungkook’s voice shouting in his ear.

 

“Stay down!” Jungkook yelled, grasping Jimin’s arms tighter and not allowing Jimin to move an inch. “Don’t move!

 

Jimin froze at the bone-chilling voice. He’d never heard Jungkook sound so commanding – so frightened – before. It was only after these alarmingly slow seconds that Jimin finally began to process what exactly he was doing on the ground in the first place.

 

When his words had trailed off, Jungkook hadn’t been distracted by something in the store over Jimin’s shoulder. He had seen something in the reflection of the glass window.

 

And that popping sound he’d heard had been a gun.

 

And Jungkook – Jungkook was covering Jimin’s body as a literal human shield without attempting to withdraw a weapon of any kind for his own protection.

 

“Who’s got eyes on Wings?” a frantic voice shouted over the commotion. “Who’s got eyes on Wings?

 

“I’ve got Wings!” Jungkook responded immediately. “He’s safe!”

 

“Jungkook?” Jimin wheezed. Between his compressed lungs from Jungkook’s protective stance and his slow realization of what was happening to them, his breath was coming in sharp gasps, making Jimin’s panic increase tenfold. His eyes darted frantically around the area as his brain processed his surroundings in a different light than he had before. The store they had stopped briefly in front of now had no window to speak of. The ground surrounding them was covered in miniscule shards, glinting under the bright lamp post high above them. “Jungkook – are you alright?”

 

There was a small shift as Jungkook slowly brought his head up and made eye contact with Jimin.

 

“Are you alright?” he asked in a level tone.

 

Jimin swallowed. It was daunting enough to talk to anyone without so much as three inches of space between the other, let alone with Jungkook while he was in full-blown agent mode. Jimin could hardly formulate a complete sentence in that very moment. “I-I’m ok. But… Jungkook.” Jimin lifted a hand, only realizing that it was shaking violently once it had reached up and touched Jungkook’s face. “You’re – bleeding.”

 

Jimin wanted to ask more – wanted to ask how he had gotten the cut along his brow – wanted to ask why Jungkook hadn’t drawn his gun when someone was firing at them – but a voice nearby distracted Jimin.

 

“Target hit,” a low voice finally announced the all clear to the area. “Get Wings to the car!”

 

Jungkook instantly got to his feet and Jimin was finally able to fully absorb the messy scene around him. Countless agents – far more than he ever realized were on his security detail – were surrounding Jimin and Jungkook with guns drawn and pointed in various directions. A number of others were running across the street to search the nearby buildings and clear the alleyways. Another man dressed in a suit was quickly approaching Jimin and Jungkook with an arm out to help Jimin to his feet.

 

“We need to get you to safety, sir,” the man hastily explained, grabbing for Jimin’s elbow without even waiting for as much as a nod of acceptance from Jimin. Jungkook followed the other agent’s lead, hauling Jimin to his feet. He wasn’t sure his feet even touched the ground as the two men dragged him to the black SUV.

 

“Come on, Jimin,” Jungkook murmured when Jimin only looked at them in confusion. He was having a hard time processing everything that was happening. It was all happening so fast. “We need to go.”

 

Jimin stumbled into the car, practically falling onto the leather seats in the back of the vehicle. Jungkook slid in beside him while the fellow agent quickly took the front passenger seat and directed the man already seated in the driver’s seat to floor it.

 

But Jimin had all of two seconds to look out the back window at the scene he had left behind.

 

There were four bullet holes embedded in the wall where he had been standing not moments before.

 

*

 

“Ok, seriously, you need to relax. I’m fine.”

 

Fine?” Jimin’s mother echoed. She scoffed and ran a shaky hand through her hair. It fell in messy waves over her shoulder. “You were shot at and you’re trying to tell me that I need to relax?

 

Jimin surveyed his hospital surroundings with a heavy sigh. Despite his insistence that he hadn’t really been hurt at all – no more than a small bump on the back of his head and various scrapes and bruises – Jimin was actually quite ok, which was more than he could probably say for Jungkook. “I was shot at, but I wasn’t shot,” Jimin gently reminded her. “Turns out the extra security actually helped after all.”

 

His mother scoffed at his lame attempt at a joke. “You were lucky, Jimin. You could have died.”

 

Jimin swallowed, looking away. He caught his reflection in the far mirror, cringing at his pale complexion and the thin bandages that had been secured to his body in various locations. He didn’t want to believe his mother’s words that he was simply lucky. That thought would be too much to stomach.

 

She stepped closer to Jimin and put a hand to his forehead, swiping the hair away from his eyes. “Are you sure you don’t want an MRI? They said you threw up in the car before you arrived. There could be some sort of internal damage from that bump on your head, sweetie.”

 

“There’s not,” Jimin firmly cut off her train of thought. He really didn’t need his mother to believe he’d had any sort of internal damage when, in reality, all it had been was just the nerves of a ten-year-old, incapable of keeping his dinner down because he had been too frightened.

 

“I don’t know how this could have happened to you,” Jimin’s father finally spoke up. He had been sitting in a corner chair with both elbows on his knees, deep in thought, but stood and paced the moment he began to talk. “We boosted security. We did everything to prevent an attack.”

 

“Yeah,” Jimin agreed. “And it worked. If Jungkook hadn’t been there, it would have been worse.”

 

“But this – it should have never happened in the first place. It just – why would anyone go after my son?” Jimin’s father shook his head miserably. He stood abruptly from his chair, pounding at his chest. “If they have a problem with my family, then they should come after me!

 

Stop it,” Jimin’s mother fiercely cut her husband off with tears brimming in her eyes. “That’s not helping anyone.”

 

Jimin stared at his bandaged palm. It had been covered with a multitude of scrapes and cuts after he had apparently unconsciously tried to brace himself from falling when Jungkook had pushed him to the ground. He didn’t actually remember doing anything to brace his fall, but the doctor had said the marks on his hand pointed to this logical conclusion, so he believed him. The stitches didn’t hurt much, but the bandage itself served as a nice distraction when he felt like he couldn’t make eye contact with his parents now that he was deliberately lying to them.

 

“I don’t know why,” Jimin mumbled. “Some people are just… crazy?”

 

His father sighed and shook his head. Jimin caught a small reflection in his father’s eyes that made him wonder if they held unshed tears. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen his own father worked up to the point of tears. Then, with a wave of relief, his father finally said, “I’m just glad you’re safe, Jimin. I don’t know what we would have done if anything happened to you.”

 

Jimin smiled meekly as both of his parents reached forward to wrap him in a tight hug.

 

“I’m seriously ok,” he whispered as his mother sniffed, trying to hide her own tears by burying her face in his shoulder. “I just really want to get back to the way things were, you know? I just…” Jimin swallowed and shrugged. “I just want to move on and go back to my dorm and… and pretend this never happened.”

 

His parents gradually pulled away and slowly conceded with a nod. “If you’re sure,” his mother agreed. “Just – play it safe until you graduate?” she softly requested. “Stay on campus. Your security team has it protected extremely well. Besides, the press isn’t allowed to follow you there.” She placed her hand palm down on Jimin’s chest, feeling the thump of his heart through his clothing. “No walking off campus for a midnight snack.” She took both of his hands in her own. “For me?”

 

Jimin agreed without hesitation. “Deal.”

 

“Be safe,” his father firmly reiterated.

 

“Yeah, I know.” Jimin jumped off of the edge of the hospital bed, causing his muscles to whine in protest now that the adrenaline had worn off. He carefully hid his grimace from his parents as he landed on the tile floor. “I won’t do anything dumb. I promise.”

 

They nodded solemnly, holding one another’s hand as Jimin slipped out of the private exam room and found Yoongi standing with his back to the door. When he heard Jimin approach, he side stepped to let Jimin out of the room and began speaking in a low voice.

 

“Shall we head back to campus?” Yoongi asked. His usually brusque manner of speaking was replaced with an odd, nurturing sort of a tone. “Or are you spending some time at home with your parents?”

 

Jimin let the door between his parents and himself close behind him before responding.

 

“Neither,” he answered. “I need to see Jungkook.”

 

Yoongi remained impassive. It was only the slight quirk of his lips that made Jimin recognize his surprise at the request. However, without hesitation, Yoongi immediately nodded and led him down the hallway in the opposite direction of the exit.

 

It was a quiet walk, but both seemed occupied with their thoughts. Jimin was still trying to sort through what had actually happened in the last few hours. He had yet to hear any sort of a report, and no one seemed willing to release the information – most likely because his father had probably requested that Jimin not know the details so soon after the incident in question. Yoongi, Jimin was sure, must have heard exactly what had happened. He hadn’t been there at the time of the attack, but he had met Jungkook and Jimin at the hospital immediately after the attack and had been at Jimin’s side ever since. Surely, he was aware of the details of that night.

 

When Yoongi stopped at the door for Jungkook’s room, Jimin turned to him as two other agents on his security team entered the space to check the environment for safety concerns before Jimin could enter – standard protocol whenever Jimin entered an unfamiliar space.

 

“Yoongi,” he murmured softly. “Is… everyone alright? The agents, I mean. They’re all… ok?”

 

Yoongi exhaled slowly, but answered his question truthfully. “One agent is in surgery now. He got hit with a bullet in his shoulder.”

 

Jimin blinked at the news, unable to fully absorb what Yoongi had just said. “An agent… was shot?

 

“He’ll be fine,” Yoongi assured him. “He just won’t be able to do much field work for a while.”

 

Jimin found it hard to swallow with his mouth so dry. “No one else was shot, were they?”

 

Yoongi cocked his head to the right, as he carefully worded his next statement. “No other agents were shot,” he clarified.

 

Jimin read between the lines.

 

So the attacker had been dealt with.

 

The two agents reemerged from Jungkook’s room with a sign that it was all clear. “Ok,” he muttered, still trying to decide where his emotions really lay on a scale from irrationally calm to completely fried. “I’ll, um… I’ll just be a minute.”

 

Yoongi remained professional and moved to his post guarding the door from outside visitors while Jimin walked into the small space.

 

Jungkook was already alert, sitting on the edge of the bed before Jimin had even entered.

 

“What are you doing up?” Jimin asked with a frown. “You’re supposed to be resting.”

 

“The agents came in to do a sweep, so I knew you were coming,” Jungkook answered. “Besides – I could say the same to you.”

 

Jimin sighed and shook his head. “Lay back down, would you? I’d feel better.”

 

“I’m ok,” Jungkook insisted, stubbornly remaining vertical. He pointed at the bandage on his forehead. “I just needed a few stitches. Otherwise, I’m fine.”

 

Jimin laughed hollowly. “You’re fine?” He had been using that word quite liberally with his parents, but hearing it from Jungkook made him realize just how wrong it was for either of them to be using it in this situation. “Jungkook, you were shot at just a few hours ago, and you’re fine?

 

Jungkook smiled sadly at Jimin’s words, as if he were acknowledging Jimin’s statement, but still denying the validity of it. “It’s part of my job,” he answered. “I protect lives for a living, so it’s something I’m always prepared for.”

 

“How is that fair?

 

Jungkook frowned, confused at the turn in the conversation. “I’m… sorry?”

 

“It’s not fair!” Jimin fired back. “Why do you have to get used to bullets flying towards you out of nowhere? No one should ever have to get used to that!”

 

The atmosphere in the room was growing uncomfortable. The silence lingered as Jungkook slowly squinted at Jimin in confusion. “I’m a security agent, Jimin. It’s my job to – ”

 

“I don’t care about your job! No one should ever have to sacrifice their own life for someone else!”

 

Slowly, Jungkook straightened his back into an upright position, finally understanding what Jimin’s rant was all about.

 

“I get it,” Jimin continued, running a shaking hand through his hair. He started to pace the length of the floor, feeling anxious and claustrophobic in the small space. “I mean – I saw you, right? You must have seen some… maniac with a gun in the reflection of the window, and your job was to cover my body with yours so if they tried to shoot me, then – then you – you were supposed to block the bullet!” At this, Jimin stopped pacing and turned to face Jungkook with a terrified expression, wishing he was wrong. “You were supposed to block the bullet with your own body, weren’t you?”

 

“Every agent has a specific role when there’s an emergency situation. Some are supposed to fire back at the attacker, some check the surrounding areas for accomplices – ” Jungkook sighed before finishing his sentence “ – and there’s always one agent whose job is to stand in front of the bullet.” Jungkook looked down at his hands and nodded. “That’s mine. My job is to protect you, Jimin,” he calmly explained. “And that means I would take a bullet for you.”

 

“That’s bullshit,” Jimin spit back. Angry tears crept into his voice, making it waver. “And you know it.”

 

Jungkook looked up at the harsh words, suddenly feeling defensive. “It’s not ‘bullshit.’”

 

“There’s another agent in surgery right now because of me,” Jimin hissed, pointing accusatorily at the door. “You’re telling me that it’s more important to you – to all of the agents – to sacrifice your own life for mine?” He scoffed. “Just because it’s in the job description?

 

Jungkook leveled a heavy stare across the room before delivering his final words.

 

“Jimin,” he spoke softly, “I was more than prepared to take a bullet for you tonight – no matter whether or not it was in the job description.”

 

Jimin blinked, unable to comprehend a single word he’d said.

 

“You’re insane,” he whispered.

 

And he turned on his heel and marched out of the room.

Chapter Text

Per his request, Jimin returned to his dorm with the intent of returning to his daily life as soon as possible. By the time his security escort had taken him back to his dorm, Jimin had no more than two hours to sleep before the sun began to rise. Even though he had a short amount of time to sleep, he spent the remainder of his night finding various tasks that he felt the sudden urge to complete.

 

His homework was strewn about the room, just like he had left it so many hours ago, so of course he needed to clean up his work space. By the time he’d finished, he realized that it would be best to review once more for his upcoming test, considering how the night’s activities had made him forget most of what he’d studied earlier. After his notes were written, Jimin began to see a light pink and orange hue outside his window, and wondered if it was even worth sleeping anymore, so he quickly decided he would at least put his last half hour to use cleaning out his messy closet – because, of course, it was far more important than sleep.

 

Jimin had managed to go the entire night without a wink of sleep. Sure, he was tired, but he felt strangely alert. Despite his growing weariness, Jimin changed his clothes and grabbed his backpack – checking three times that his panic button was safe and secure in his front pocket – and attempted to return to class like normal.

 

After nodding in greeting to Yoongi standing outside his door, Taehyung swiftly rounded the corner with one goal in mind.

 

“Oh my God, are you ok?” he asked in a high, frantic voice. He only stopped charging towards Jimin when he had both hands placed securely on his shoulders and was staring him down with wide eyes. “Yoongi told me you were in the hospital!”

 

Jimin smiled reassuringly. “Yeah, but everything’s ok. Just a small incident.”

 

“He said you were shot at!”

 

Apparently Yoongi had told Taehyung more of the specifics than he had hoped.

 

“Yoongi said I should give you space until morning, but I tried calling and texting you anyway, and you didn’t answer!” His frantic voice was growing into a frenzied panic. “I – I thought – maybe you had – that you were – ”

 

“Taehyung, I wasn’t shot,” Jimin immediately soothed his nerves. Then, trying to make a joke out of the situation so Taehyung could relax, he added, “I won’t die that easily!”

 

Taehyung’s smile wobbled precariously, as if unsure whether or not to laugh at his joke. “Yeah,” he eventually added. “I just – I was so worried, Jimin, when I thought – ”

 

“Hey.” Jimin returned Taehyung’s gesture and put both hands on his shoulders to calm him down. “It’s fine. I’m fine. Really.”

 

Taehyung inhaled a shaky breath before nodding in agreement. “Yeah, ok.”

 

“Look, I just want to get back to a normal schedule,” Jimin explained. “I really just want to forget last night even happened, ok?”

 

“Got it,” Taehyung immediately agreed. Then, after a beat, he asked, “I suppose I should buy you a coffee, then, if you want to return to our normal routine?”

 

Jimin laughed. “I can take a rain check on the coffee. How about we just walk to class?”

 

Taehyung eagerly complied with his request, completely ignoring Yoongi’s presence in favor of Jimin. It made Jimin feel slightly awkward at first, knowing that the two had some sort of a connection – or, at least, they were doing some sort of hormonal dance that looked a lot like dating – yet weren’t addressing one another while Yoongi was on duty. Jimin knew it was to comply with Yoongi’s request not to be interrupted while working, but it still felt strange to observe nonetheless.

 

They were well on their way across campus, carefully circumventing the area that Jimin had gone the evening before and where he knew cops and news reporters would be swarming. The thought was enough to send chills down Jimin’s spine. He turned to Taehyung to initiate a conversation as a means of distraction, but Taehyung was already stopping in his tracks.

 

“This is me,” he said, pointing up ahead. They stepped off the path, standing along the wall of the old, brick building. “Your class isn’t much further, is it?”

 

Jimin had been so absorbed in his thoughts that he hadn’t realized how quick their walk had been. “Oh – uh, no,” he confirmed.

 

He looked over his shoulder at the building in the distance, but was caught by surprise when he realized that now that he wasn’t staring fixatedly at his feet, there were an uncomfortable number of eyes on him. He had gotten used to such behavior in his freshman year, but this – this seemed different. Even the wide berth most of his classmates on campus had given Jimin since day one seemed to have doubled as they quickly skirted around his security detail with the hope of minimal interaction. The stares were unnerving.

 

Jimin ripped his gaze away from the surrounding observers, beginning to feel more like an animal trapped in a cage than he ever had before.

 

“It’s just a minute’s walk,” he muttered, shrugging half-heartedly as he returned to staring at his feet. “You don’t need to follow me or anything. I’ve got great security.”

 

Taehyung's mask finally slipped. He glanced over Jimin’s shoulder at Yoongi and smiled sadly. “Yeah, you do.”

 

But as Taehyung turned and stepped towards the front door to go to his class, Jimin felt something solid hit his shoulder and he was bumped to the side. The moment he regained his balance, he stared in awe at the scene before him.

 

Yoongi had broken his own protocol and surged forward to wrap his arms securely around Taehyung from behind with his head pressed between his shoulder blades. Apparently, he didn’t seem to care anymore about whether or not his coworkers knew about his relationship with Taehyung.

 

“Be safe.”

 

Jimin swallowed, feeling uncomfortable as he unintentionally eavesdropped on their rather private moment.

 

Taehyung turned around in Yoongi’s arms, tears welling up in his eyes. “I should be the one saying that to you,” he whispered, lifting a hand to his cheek.

 

At this, Jimin abruptly turned around. It wasn’t right for him to watch them so blatantly in this private moment. Clearly the events from the evening before had shaken both of them far more than Jimin would have ever imagined, despite the fact that neither of them had even been present at the scene.

 

Jimin was briefly relieved to have a distraction when he caught sight of Jungkook moving quickly across campus, presumably to replace Yoongi as the agent on duty. The normal hours that they typically spent protecting Jimin had been understandably scrambled. Yoongi, who typically didn’t see Jimin until the morning, had taken over the majority of Jungkook’s shift from the night before. He’d only made things harder on himself when he stubbornly insisted on staying at Jimin’s side for the remainder of the night – far longer than Jungkook was originally supposed to remain on duty – as his protective instincts kicked in. It was almost endearing to see just how protective Yoongi truly was, given his usually cold appearance on the surface.

 

Jungkook was dressed in his usual uniform, dark slacks and a white dress shirt, but his suit jacket appeared to be missing. Even his dress shirt had a few buttons at the top that hadn’t been secured properly, and he had rolled up the sleeves to his elbows, as if he had come straight from the hospital and had been unable to fix his slightly unkempt appearance.

 

Flashes of the rather one-sided argument Jimin had with Jungkook the night before flickered through the back of his mind.

 

Before Jimin could so much as react to Jungkook’s presence, Jungkook launched into another pointed argument.

 

“What are you doing?” he asked in a low tone. He ran a hand through his disheveled hair, making it stand a bit more on end than it usually did. “Did you even sleep when you got home from the hospital?”

 

“I’m fine,” Jimin mumbled, making the extra effort to open his eyes wider in the hopes that it would show just how alert he was. “I can’t really miss my lecture, anyway.”

 

“So, you haven’t slept,” Jungkook accused with a narrowed gaze. With the thin stitches crossing his forehead, he looked especially menacing.

 

Jimin rolled his eyes at Jungkook and leaned back against the brick building. “College students don’t sleep,” he explained as if it were a simple matter of fact. “It’s not exactly an uncommon occurrence for me.”

 

Jungkook looked baffled at his casual response. “Jimin, you didn’t just pull an all-nighter. Someone tried to kill you.”

 

For all of the discussions he’d had with his family, friends, and security detail, none of them had yet to put it in such plain terms. Many had talked about the attempt made on Jimin’s life as an event where someone intended to harm him, and yet the word “harm,” for some reason, didn’t evoke the same reaction as the word “kill.”

 

It made his stomach twist into knots.

 

“Well, when you’re in the limelight, sometimes things like that happen.”

 

It was a pathetic comeback, and they both knew it.

 

“Your father is the one who signed up for this,” Jungkook countered. Pity filled his gaze. “Not you.”

 

“Doesn’t change the fact that this is my life now,” Jimin said. He held up a hand to gesture before realizing that it was shaking again. He tried to covertly stuff it in his pocket without Jungkook noticing. “I’ve lived as an outcast for four years. I can do another four. Only this time, I’ll just have to do it while watching over my shoulder all of the time.”

 

“Jimin, you aren’t – you don’t – ” Jungkook sighed, regrouping his thoughts. “Let’s just go back to your dorm – please,” he pleaded. “Do you even hear yourself? You’re acting like last night was normal!

 

His words lit a fire under Jimin. “Oh – so you get to act like throwing your body in front of a bullet is something you do every day, but when it comes to me trying to go back to my usual routine, all of a sudden it’s not ok?”

 

“Jimin – you know what I mean,” Jungkook tried to admonish him. “You just – you need a break, that’s all. Why don’t I take you back? You can take one day off from your classes – anyone would understand. You can sleep and – ”

 

Jimin’s sardonic laugh was unfamiliar, even to his own ears. He couldn’t remember the last time he had sounded so bitter. “Sleep?” he ground out, eyes half-crazed. Jimin pushed off of the wall, standing at his full height. “Do you really think I could sleep after last night? Someone tried to kill me because I’m gay,” he hissed in a low voice. “A part of me that I can’t change – I can’t control – someone hates that so much, that they would rather see me dead than alive. There’s no logic to it – but there you have it! And because of something I can’t change – and have yet to even act upon, I’ll remind you – I’ve endangered the lives of dozens of other human beings who somehow think it’s their job to stand between me and a bullet.”

 

Jimin went lightheaded for a moment as his rant exhausted him and the nerves he had hidden deep down inside of him began to resurface.

 

“There’s a man in the hospital at this very moment because he protected me from a bullet – a man who has both a wife and three children at home. Do you really think I could sleep, knowing that it’s my fault his life was put at stake in the first place?” Jungkook took a step forward, as if preparing to counter his entire argument, but Jimin cut him off.

 

“And you know what else? When Yoongi told me the attacker had been taken care of – that he had been killed in the crossfire – I was actually relieved. How sick is that?” Jimin asked, disgust at himself dripping from his tone. “What kind-of a person does that make me if I’m actually glad that another human being is dead?”

 

Jungkook looked helpless as he just watched Jimin unravel one thread at a time.

 

“How messed up does someone have to be t-to actually have thoughts like that?” Jimin asked, voice stuttering in the middle of his sentence. He realized, then, that somewhere in his lengthy rant, tears had begun to slide down his cheeks. He reached up to wipe at his eyes with the hand that had been covered in stitches, but stopped mid motion when he saw the reminder of his shaking hand.

 

His frustration exploded.

 

“God dammit!” he bellowed, clutching his hand into a fist and pounding it angrily into the nearest wall over and over until he felt the relief of sharp pain searing through his bloodied knuckles. “Just – stop – shaking – already!”

 

Jungkook reached out and snatched both of his wrists in his firm grip, keeping Jimin from hurting himself despite his attempts. Jimin writhed around, trying to remove his hands from Jungkook’s grip and continue his path of self-destruction. It was only after he realized Jungkook’s hold was far stronger than he had ever imagined that he felt the complete and utter hopelessness settle into his heavy limbs and he broke down into sobs. His knees weakened, sending his body hurtling towards the ground, but Jungkook quickly pulled Jimin’s arm around his shoulders and shifted his weight to throw a hand around Jimin’s waist before he could collapse to the ground.

 

Jimin was glad he was so out of his mind with grief – anger – fear – pain – relief – that he wasn’t able to notice the small crowd of students gathering as they watched his mental breakdown. He didn’t notice Taehyung holding a horrified hand to his mouth as he fought to restrain his own tears at his friend’s pain. He didn’t even notice his security detail shifting their stance to block Jimin from view of the numerous camera phones filming the scene before them.

 

“Come on,” Jungkook whispered softly into Jimin’s ear. Jimin continued to make embarrassing noises as his tears continued without signs of stopping. “Let’s get you home.”

 

Jimin stumbled over his own feet, falling towards the pavement before Yoongi swooped in to take his other side. “No, you don’t,” Yoongi murmured, carefully helping Jimin back up to his feet. “That’s it,” he calmly encouraged him. “The car is straight ahead. We’re almost there.”

 

“I’m so sorry,” Jimin began to babble between hiccupping sobs. “I’m so – so sorry…”

 

“Stop it,” Jungkook muttered. “There’s nothing for you to apologize for, Jimin.”

 

“But I did it,” Jimin tried to explain to him as he was half-carried to the car. “It’s my fault – my fault you were even hurt.” He choked out his words between his gasps for air. “I don’t want you to get hurt, Jungkook.”

 

“I know.” Jungkook tried to agree with him, hoping it would assuage his anxiety. “And I’m fine. I’m right here, Jimin. I’m ok.”

 

“Please,” Jimin made his final plea to Jungkook. “Please be ok. Promise me you’ll be ok? God, I’m so sorry…”

 

“Ok, I think the shock finally set in,” Yoongi muttered, swiftly opening the car door to the black SUV that was stationed nearby. He helped hoist Jimin into the back seat. “We need to take him home.”

 

“We’re going to his dorm,” Jungkook clarified Yoongi’s definition of “home.” “Do you really think his parents would want to see him break down like this?” He sighed. “I doubt they would even let him return to school if they saw him, now.”

 

It didn’t take long to convince him. “Fine,” Yoongi murmured, seeming to immediately understand Jungkook’s explanation, but still not liking the decision.

 

Yoongi and Jungkook managed to get Jimin into the car without accident, but he remained face down on the leather interior. His fingers balled up into fists as his cries pierced the silence, making Jungkook feel like his chest was tightening at every agonizing sound. With a great deal of effort, Jungkook ripped his eyes away from the terrified boy, looking at Yoongi in desperation. “I know you’re supposed to be off duty, now,” he began softly, “but do you think – ”

 

“Of course,” Yoongi immediately agreed without needing to be asked in the first place. “Stay with him. I’ll take the front seat.”

 

Jungkook’s relieved expression was all Yoongi needed to know how grateful he was that Yoongi would stick around to help Jimin. Without another word, he clambered into the backseat and reached for the huddled mess that was Jimin.

 

“It’s ok,” Jungkook murmured, bringing Jimin’s head to his lap. His hand gently rubbed his back. “You’re safe. I’ve got you.”

 

Yoongi kept his eyes off of the rearview mirror as Jungkook and Jimin had a private moment. It wasn’t a long one, considering the drive to Jimin’s dorm was mere minutes away, but Yoongi knew when he wasn’t invited.

 

He was glad the driver had the same sense not to glance over his shoulder at Jungkook’s constant murmurs of reassurance.

 

The few minutes of driving seemed to be all Jimin needed to get his crying under control. He still let out a hiccup or inhaled a shaky gasp every now and then, but the last four years of bottled up pain and frustration had vanished, leaving a limp, small boy in its stead. It was too much pressure to put on someone at his age, let alone on someone with a heart so full of empathy and selflessness. Jimin didn’t deserve any of this.

 

At some point on their drive, Jungkook had managed to access the emergency first aid kit in the car and wrapped both of Jimin’s limp hands in fresh bandages so as to keep his knuckles from bleeding and his fresh stitches from opening. As the car stopped in front of the dorm, Jungkook lifted the light boy without hesitation and carried him upstairs to his dorm room. Yoongi followed the pair, opening doors for Jungkook and sending out other members of their security team to divert the other students in the building down connecting hallways to avoid unwanted attention. When they reached Jimin’s room, Yoongi used the spare key he had on hand to swiftly open the door for Jungkook.

 

“There we go,” Jungkook murmured softly, setting Jimin carefully down onto his twin bed that was located in the corner of the room. He released his hold on Jimin just long enough to reach for an extra blanket hanging over his desk chair. He brought the soft material up to Jimin’s shoulders before letting his hands slowly drop to his side.

 

“Get some sleep,” Jungkook pleaded softly. “You’ll feel better tomorrow. I promise.”

 

He had only backed two steps away from Jimin, headed towards the doorway where Yoongi was still observing them, when Jimin’s breathing began to pick up.

 

“No – no – no,” he hyperventilated, rolling around on the bed until he could spot Jungkook, standing frozen at the center of his room. He was too exhausted to lift himself into an upright seated position, but it didn’t stop his hand from reaching towards the agent. “No, Jungkook, no – don’t – don’t – ”

 

The tears that had subsided were beginning to gather once more.

 

“Please, Jungkook – please – don’t leave me.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes widened at Jimin before looking over his shoulder at Yoongi, panicked.

 

Their silent conversation was loud and clear in Jungkook’s ears.

 

He doesn’t want me to leave.

 

Yoongi sighed sadly. He’s terrified. He needs someone that he trusts.

 

And that’s me?

 

Of course it’s you. Next to Taehyung, you might be the only other person he trusts.

 

But – we’re supposed to protect him. Developing a personal relationship isn’t allowed with your protectee.

 

Yoongi stared hard at Jungkook.

 

I think we’re both past that point.

 

And Yoongi closed the door to Jimin’s room behind him with a soft click.

 

Jungkook gaped at the place where Yoongi had been standing, trying to make sense of what was happening, but as Jimin made another choked, sobbing noise, Jungkook instantly shook himself from his thoughts and turned every ounce of his attention back to Jimin.

 

“I’m here,” Jungkook finally responded to Jimin’s call. He grabbed the bandaged hand that he had extended, holding it tight. “I’ll stay right here while you sleep,” he spoke in a soothing voice. “You’ll be safe, Jimin.”

 

He searched for a chair or even another blanket to kneel on so he wouldn’t end up with sore joints once Jimin did wake up. But just as he was about to reach for the nearest chair, he felt Jimin tug on his hand.

 

His head snapped back, surprised at the strong movement. He quickly realized what Jimin was trying to do.

 

Jimin had burrowed into his blanket, rolling over to face the concrete wall alongside his bed. He was so close to the wall that a large opening had been left vacant behind his body on the bed –

 

The very spot Jimin seemed to want Jungkook.

 

Casting one last glance over his shoulder at the closed door to Jimin’s dorm room, Jungkook quietly removed his gun holster from his waist, carefully toed off his shoes, and hesitantly lay down beside Jimin on the mattress. His hand was still clutched tightly within Jimin’s. Jungkook stared at the ceiling with his arm crossed awkwardly over his chest, swallowing as he focused all of his energy on maintaining as much of a distance as he could.

 

But Jimin tugged on his hand again.

 

His arm was dragged across Jimin’s body, so much so that Jungkook was forced to turn his own body towards Jimin’s to accommodate the new position. Jimin didn’t stop pulling him close until Jungkook’s entire lean frame was pressed firmly against Jimin’s back with his arm wrapped securely around Jimin’s torso and his hand lodged within Jimin’s bandaged one.

 

He realized exactly what Jimin had been trying to accomplish when he’d begged Jungkook to return to his side. Between hiding beneath his blanket and barricading himself between a concrete wall and Jungkook’s body, this was Jimin’s idea of protection. He was cocooned, surrounded on all sides with the illusion of complete safety. This was what Jimin needed to be able to sleep.

 

Jungkook quickly processed Jimin’s mental state and nodded to himself. He could handle this, he thought confidently as he tentatively wormed his way closer to Jimin’s body heat. The arm he had around Jimin’s waist tightened, hugging him close for added security. Jimin sighed at the comforting pressure around his abdomen.

 

Jungkook exhaled a nervous breath.

 

Yes.

 

He could definitely handle this.

Chapter Text

Jungkook had nodded off sometime after Jimin, but still somehow managed to wake before him.

 

Jungkook gradually came to, slowly inhaling the unfamiliar scent. All at once, Jungkook’s senses returned to him as he recognized that he was in a foreign location with a firm body held tight in his arms. Abruptly, he moved away, surprised by the sudden proximity of another human being after he’d woken from sleep. He launched himself out of bed and was standing completely vertical before recalling the sequence of events from that morning.

 

He dug around in his pocket for a phone, noticing that it was only nine o’clock. Sleeping for an hour wasn’t too bad. Jimin could certainly use more time than an hour of sleep, but at least Jungkook could slip out of the room now that he’d done his job and helped comfort Jimin when he needed it most.

 

But as soon as he pocketed it, he caught the pitch black night outside Jimin’s window.

 

It was nine… in the evening?

 

Jungkook shook his head, baffled by how it had even been possible for him to be so utterly relaxed that he was able to sleep for such a long time without waking.

 

He staggered dazedly to Jimin’s bedroom door. He opened it quietly, trying to avoid any creaking noises that might wake Jimin, and poked his head into the brightly lit hallway. He squinted at the nearest agent for a moment before recognizing who it was.

 

“Yoongi?” he asked. “You’re still here?”

 

Yoongi smirked at Jungkook’s entrance, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he turned to look at Jungkook. “Well, good morning, sunshine.”

 

Jungkook scratched at the back of his neck, hoping to distract from the red blush that skimmed his cheeks. “You didn’t need to stay the entire time – this was supposed to be my shift, hyung. You could have left once we got Jimin back here.”

 

Yoongi snorted. “First of all, you haven’t slept in twenty-four hours. There was no way I was leaving Jimin’s protection to someone who would – and, from your appearance, did – sleep through their shift.” Jungkook swallowed at the light slap on the wrist he was receiving from Yoongi at not having been responsible while on duty. He knew that if it had been any other agent in any other situation, things could have been far worse. “And second, I haven’t been here the whole time. I called someone else in to cover this afternoon. I just got back.”

 

“Oh.” Jungkook stared at him wordlessly. He felt irresponsible – like he didn’t deserve to even be on Jimin’s security detail any longer. “Hyung, I’m sorry. I should have never – ”

 

“Relax,” the older man dryly muttered with an eye roll. “I’m making fun of you, not chewing you out for not doing your job. Why else do you think I left you in the room with Jimin?” Yoongi raised an eyebrow, waiting for Jungkook to understand. When he didn’t show any recognition of the situation at hand, Yoongi sighed in irritation. “Jimin needed a friend, not an agent. The second you asked me to help get him home, you and I both knew you weren’t acting as his bodyguard anymore.”

 

Jungkook nodded slowly, letting this new piece of information sink in. “Yeah. Um. Right.”

 

Yoongi let a smile slip at how truly amusing Jungkook was in that moment when he still seemed befuddled. “Ok, whatever,” Yoongi interrupted, trying to cut Jungkook some slack. “Is Jimin awake?”

 

“He wasn’t when I woke up,” Jungkook answered.

 

“Well, when he does wake up, you need to assess the long term damage on that boy.” Jungkook winced slightly at the thought. “If he’s anything like he was this morning, we can’t afford not to have his parents involved. To be honest, it wouldn’t hurt to have him find a therapist, anyway.”

 

“He was exhausted and stressed to the extreme,” Jungkook weakly argued in Jimin’s defense.

 

“Of course he was,” Yoongi agreed. “But he’s also the President’s son and his physical and mental safety is our job. Just talk to him,” he continued. “Make sure he knows that he’s not alone. Oh, and also – ” he continued before he could forget “ – tell him to call Taehyung when he wakes up, ok? I think I got Tae calmed down enough after I brought Jimin back here, but I’m pretty sure he’s about at the point where he’ll try to take on Jimin’s entire secret service detail – you and me included – if that’s what he has to do to see Jimin.”

 

Jungkook laughed softly. “I suppose there could be worse friends in the world?”

 

“Strange,” Yoongi smirked. “That’s what I was thinking.”

 

There was a stirring behind Jungkook. He glanced over his shoulder, seeing Jimin stretching slowly in bed. He turned back to Yoongi with a nod. “I’ll talk to him,” he confirmed, and closed the door to return to Jimin’s side.

 

Jimin froze mid-stretch when Jungkook came into view at the foot of his bed. “Jungkook?” he mumbled, frowning at him. “Why are you in…?”

 

Jimin slowly glanced around the dimly lit room, taking in Jungkook’s tousled state before nervously glancing at the slight indentation Jungkook’s body had left behind on the other side of his mattress.

 

Jimin sat bolt upright.

 

“Um,” he began nervously. “I, uh… oh my God,” he rambled. Jimin tried to rub the sleep from his eyes, but winced in the process. He’d forgotten about his bandaged hands. “I have no idea what to say right now. I’m sorry?” he tried. “Or, um… thank you… I think.”

 

Jungkook snorted at his confusion. “No problem,” he answered. He quickly cleared his throat and redirected their conversation, hoping it would alleviate the awkwardness for both of them. “Are you feeling better?”

 

Jimin nodded, remaining silent as he began to recount the events from that morning. He ran a hand through his hair, scratching at his head as he slowly woke up. “What time is it?”

 

“It’s nine,” Jungkook answered with a wry smile. “You slept through lunch and dinner.”

 

Jimin lifted a hand to his stomach. “Yeah, that would explain it.”

 

Jungkook strode over to the microwave in the corner, pointing at the numerous bowls Jimin had bought the week prior. “Want me to make some ramyun for you?”

 

Jimin remained under the covers. He pulled his knees up to his chest and nodded shyly in response.

 

“So,” Jungkook slowly began. He poured half of a bottle of water into the cup and set it in the microwave, hitting several buttons to start cooking Jimin’s meal. “I know you said you were feeling better, but…” He turned back to Jimin, but kept his gaze firmly locked on the floor. He felt awkward having this sort of a conversation with Jimin. “Are you actually better? I mean – you were really worked up earlier, and I just wanted – ”

 

“I’m better,” Jimin promised quickly. “Maybe not one-hundred percent,” he muttered, “but I won’t have a meltdown like I did. That was just… pent up nerves, all breaking out at once.” Jimin cringed as he remembered what had happened. “It’s probably not so great that I acted like that in the middle of campus.”

 

Jungkook smiled slightly, relieved to hear Jimin’s recounting of the events that morning. He seemed to be better in that moment, considering how he could recognize what had happened earlier and the extent to which he had acted. “Just so you know,” Jungkook filled him in, “we didn’t inform your parents about this morning in case, you know… you wanted to keep it to yourself.”

 

That was the first time Jimin had made eye contact with him since waking up.

 

“Really?” he asked, as if worried that Jungkook was lying and would pull the rug out from under him at any moment. When Jungkook nodded, Jimin shook his head in disbelief. “For a crack shot security team that works for my dad, you seem to be incredibly respectful when it comes to my privacy.” He crossed his legs on the bed and leaned up against the concrete wall. “You’ve kept several of my secrets, Jungkook,” he murmured softly in appreciation. “None of the agents before ever even offered me the courtesy.”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “I can’t exactly do my job if you don’t trust me, right? Otherwise, I wouldn’t blame you for trying to get away from me any chance you got.”

 

Jimin snorted. “I won’t be running away from you anytime soon.”

 

The pair stilled at his words, listening to the whir of the microwave as Jimin’s comment gradually set in.

 

When the timer beeped, Jungkook sprang to attention.

 

Jimin cleared his throat and swiftly changed the subject.

 

“No one really told me about what happened last night,” Jimin began. “Are you… are you allowed to tell me what happened?”

 

Jungkook stirred the seasoning packet in with the ramyun noodles before bringing it to Jimin with a pair of chopsticks. “Within reason,” Jungkook answered. “There’s some details I can’t disclose, but of course I can fill you in… if that’s what you want,” he added with a pointed look. “I didn’t think you would have wanted it.”

 

Jimin poked at his food several times before finally lifting a small portion of noodles above his bowl to cool. He considered Jungkook’s veiled warning. Perhaps, rather than asking Jungkook to lay out everything that had happened, Jimin could just ask the questions for the things that he wanted to know. “So… one member of the security team was shot?”

 

“He’s in recovery,” Jungkook immediately reassured him. “The doctor says he’ll be back to duty without risk of further injury within a month.”

 

Jimin nodded, sighing softly in relief. “And… the shooter?” he double-checked.

 

Jungkook’s gaze remained neutral. “The threat was eliminated.”

 

“He’s dead,” Jimin confirmed. He’d guessed as much before, but he needed to hear the words straight from Jungkook for some form of closure. “Right?”

 

Jungkook nodded slowly. “Yes.”

 

Jimin gave him another shaky nod. He returned to stir his ramyun, distracting himself from making direct eye contact. “So, am I safe, then? Is it over?”


With a slight shrug, Jungkook made his way over to the foot of Jimin’s bed. Given just how close they had been just moments before, Jungkook figured he was still considered off duty and could at least behave like he was. “We hope so,” Jungkook finally answered his question after he had shifted until he was side-by-side with Jimin, back propped against the same concrete wall. “As far as we know, the evidence has all pointed to one individual behind the attack.”

 

“So, then…” Jimin slurped a few noodles into his mouth, letting his words hang in the air. After swallowing, he nervously asked, “Is my security going to be downgraded back to what it was before?”

 

Jungkook smiled, hearing the hidden question in his voice. “Your extra security will stay how it is for quite a bit longer – at least until we’ve confirmed with absolute certainty that there are no accomplices or any other imminent attacks.” Then, with a smirk, Jungkook rolled his head along the wall to make close eye contact with Jimin. “So, no – I’m not going anywhere.”

 

Jimin was momentarily entranced by his humorous expression. The crinkles at the corners of his eyes made Jimin want to smile impulsively back. However, as soon as he began to feel the trace elements of a blush creeping across his cheek, Jimin quickly returned to his noodles.

 

“Well, there goes my freedom,” Jimin sourly muttered.

 

“Yeah, whatever,” Jungkook easily countered. “You can pretend to sulk all you want, but let’s not kid ourselves, shall we? You love having me around.”

 

Jimin scoffed. “Definitely not.”

 

“Please – you would be totally miserable without me. Admit it.”

 

Jimin stubbornly protested against Jungkook’s words, despite the niggling feeling at the back of his brain insisting that all of it was true.

 

*

 

Taehyung followed Jimin around for the next few days like an obedient puppy. Even during lunch when Taehyung usually went to the cafeteria to visit some of his other friends, he instead chose to follow Jimin to the café and remained by his side.

 

Jimin stifled a yawn. He felt exhausted after the long week, but was relieved to have Taehyung nearby to keep him awake. They had just met at Jimin’s café for an afternoon break when Taehyung began talking about their potential plans for the weekend. Jimin figured it was best to cut him off before he got carried away. “Tae,” he finally interrupted after the third day of Taehyung’s tag-a-long behavior. “You’re only putting yourself in danger by staying with me. You know that, right?”

 

Taehyung’s jaw clenched and his eyes widened in horror. “Don’t say things like that,” he hissed, punctuating his words with a slug to Jimin’s bicep.

 

“Ow!” Jimin cringed, cradling his arm. He turned to Yoongi behind him. “Are you seriously going to let him beat me up?” he asked, mildly insulted that Yoongi hadn’t done anything to intervene. “Isn’t it in your job description to protect me?”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi answered without hesitation, “but we only protect you from credible threats.”

 

Taehyung spun in his seat, narrowing a glare at the agent – his boyfriend.

 

“You don’t think I could be a credible threat?”

 

If Jimin hadn’t grown to know Yoongi so well, he might not have ever noticed the slight teasing smirk playing on his lips.

 

Taehyung simply rolled his eyes with a huff and turned back to Jimin, muttering under his breath, “We’ll be discussing this tonight, Suga…”

 

Jimin raised an eyebrow as he caught Yoongi’s horrified expression. “Suga?” he murmured to Taehyung with an amused expression. “Is that a pet name?”

 

“Ok, I think it’s time we vacate the premises,” Yoongi declared in an authoritative tone. He pulled Jimin’s chair out from the table and began gesturing towards the exit. “Your next class will start any minute.”

 

Jimin laughed as he easily caught on to Yoongi’s distraction tactics. “Whatever you say, Suga.”


“Oh, for the love of – ” Yoongi sighed heavily, putting a hand to his forehead to ease the throbbing beginning behind his eyes. “Can we just go?

 

Jimin smirked, standing from his seat. “Taehyung, my babysitter says I have to go, now.”

 

Taehyung smiled slightly. He seemed torn between feeling humor in their interaction, and also feeling somewhat guilty that he had accidentally let his pet name for Yoongi slip and embarrassed him in the process. “I’ll come and get you after class, ok?”

 

Jimin sighed, leaning against the table as Taehyung remained seated in his chair. “You really don’t need to, Tae. I know how much work you put off just to follow me around to all of my classes, ok? Besides, I’m going right back to my dorm, anyway, and Jungkook will be here at four.” Lately, that had become Jimin and Taehyung’s silent code when other agents were within hearing distance for Jimin to communicate that Yoongi would be off work and available to spend time with Taehyung. “You’ve really done more than enough this week.”

 

Taehyung frowned and his eyebrows scrunched together. “I just want you to be safe,” he muttered.

 

“I know,” Jimin agreed. “And even with this weird week, I have been safe. I’m lucky all I’ve had to deal with are a few scrapes here and there,” he explained, lifting his freshly bandaged hands by means of an explanation. Jungkook had been re-wrapping his stitches every evening, despite the fact that Jimin really didn’t need bandages in the first place. He appreciated the thought nonetheless. “Seriously, go and relax tonight,” Jimin begged of him. “It’s a Friday night. Do something fun, ok?”

 

“But I was going to bring over a movie tonight,” Taehyung hurried to tell Jimin, leaning forward in his seat. “We can watch that one I got for my birthday last year, remember?”

 

Jimin smiled kindly, but shook his head. “Taehyung, you don’t watch movies on Friday nights,” he explained as if he were talking to a five year old. “You go out for drinks and dance at clubs with your other friends on Friday nights. You stay in on Saturday nights for me, remember?”

 

“But…” Taehyung’s eyes turned down at the corners as he began to plead with Jimin. “What if I want to spend Friday and Saturday with you?”

 

Jimin sighed, touched by his concern. “I’ll be alright,” Jimin reassured his friend. “But you have to go back to your regular schedule at some point, or you’ll always be scared.”

 

Taehyung bit his lip before nodding reluctantly.

 

“Good,” Jimin announced with a wide grin. “Then I’ll see you Saturday for a movie day?”

 

Taehyung collected his items and stood. “We’ll have a marathon.”

 

Jimin grinned. “I can’t wait.”

 

As Taehyung waved over his shoulder and moved in the opposite direction, Jimin adjusted the straps of his backpack and set off across campus with Yoongi at his side.

 

“So…” Jimin glanced over at Yoongi with a devious smirk. “Suga, huh?”

 

Yoongi minutely adjusted his black sunglasses as he stared straight ahead. “Not another word.”

 

Jimin snickered, but remembered to keep his voice down so no one nearby could hear their conversation. “I think it’s cute,” he said. “Pet names don’t happen unless you know each other well, right?”

 

Yoongi sighed, as if pretending he wasn’t listening to a thing Jimin was saying – but his ears remained perked in his direction.

 

“Are you going to tell me your pet name for him?” Jimin asked. “Seems only fair, since he spilled yours.”

 

“No,” Yoongi immediately shut him down.

 

Jimin’s eyebrows went up in amusement. “Oh, how noble!” he replied. “Looking out for Tae, even now. What a reliable boyfriend!”

 

Yoongi huffed in annoyance at his words, but his ears betrayed him and turned red.

 

Jimin’s mood remained upbeat for the remainder of their walk as he continued to tease Yoongi. He made it to class, as he had promised Taehyung, however, his discomfort steadily began to grow. Up until this point, Taehyung had truly been a better distraction than even Jimin had realized. He had spent time with Jimin from the second he left class up until the moment it started, oftentimes having to sneak out of the back of the lecture hall when he had stayed too long and the professor had already begun class. Today, however, Jimin was left with several spare minutes before his lesson, and he was finally able to pick up on a number of subtle cues he had apparently been missing for the past week.

 

Specifically, the staring.

 

He had gradually become used to the fact that he was often the center of attention when he walked into the room, mostly because of his private security team. He also knew that the novelty of seeing his private security often wore off on his peers after everyone became familiar with his presence.

 

But after four years in university with mere months left before graduation, Jimin was feeling immense scrutiny from his classmates, as if it were the first day all over again.

 

“No, let’s go sit in the back,” one student murmured to her friend as she entered the classroom and caught Jimin’s location in the front of the room.

 

“I can’t imagine what it must be like to know someone hates you so much they tried to kill you,” another one sympathized off to the side in a whispered voice that wasn’t nearly soft enough to prevent Jimin from overhearing.

 

“Dude, did you see his freak out this week? I tried to record it on my phone, but one of the suits over there made me delete it.”

 

That last comment made Jimin’s head snap up, looking in Yoongi’s direction. He was still standing, hovering next to the wall, but within arm’s reach nonetheless. His expression remained blank as he swallowed audibly.

 

Jimin wondered if Yoongi had been hearing comments about Jimin all week and had simply chosen to ignore them in order to do his job. Had he known that Jimin hadn’t heard anything? Had he known that Taehyung had been his barrier from the uncomfortable stares? Perhaps now Yoongi was regretting leaving the café as early as they had. Jimin was sure his entire security detail had heard muttered comments about himself, but was trying to tastefully ignore it in order to protect Jimin’s feelings.

 

Jimin felt embarrassed.

 

“Hyung.”

 

Jimin didn’t receive a response from Yoongi. He quickly recognized the familiar form of address he had just used and realized that Yoongi must not have known it was intended for him.

 

Hyung,” Jimin tried again with a bit more emphasis.

 

Yoongi snapped to attention, a faint smile of surprise etched across his lips at the word. “Yes?”

 

Jimin tried to lower his voice. “Was there… was there any video of me when I… you know, earlier… when I kind-of – ”

 

“No,” Yoongi interrupted politely. “We took care of it.”

 

Jimin frowned. “But are you allowed to just go and delete – ”

 

“We firmly requested that everyone at the scene delete any and all pictures, audio, or video recordings,” Yoongi explained. “But to be honest, most of the bystanders were students and afraid to be on the wrong side of an argument with an extremely high-alert security team.”

 

Jimin smiled at that comment. He nodded, returning his gaze to the empty podium at the front of the room, waiting for the instructor to arrive.

 

As the students in the room increased, so did the noise level – and their lack of discretion.

 

“Oh my God, I hate being in the same class as him,” one nervous sounding voice complained several rows behind him. “What if someone tries to plant a bomb in here and we all die along with him?”

 

“I don’t even get it. It’s not like he’s the President,” another commented. “Why does he need a dozen agents here, anyway? It just makes it harder to focus…”

 

“He just looks so pitiful, right? I don’t even think he has any friends.”

 

Jimin fiddled anxiously with his pen, clicking it incessantly until one of the pieces on the end popped off, rendering it ineffective.

 

He reached down into his bag, intending to look for an alternate tool to write with, but found himself discarding not only his broken pen into the bottom of his bag, but also putting away his notebook and textbook before finally just zipping up his bag and hoisting it over his shoulder.

 

“Hyung,” he muttered one last time as he got to his feet, surprising Yoongi in the process. “I’m… I don’t feel well. I’m going to just go back and get some sleep.”

 

Yoongi didn’t need to ask any questions – like whether or not he could walk back if he wasn’t feeling well or if he had a fever and needed medical attention. Instead, he solemnly nodded his head and followed in Jimin’s path.

 

Jimin was grateful for the silence Yoongi afforded him. The only words he heard were the simple directions Yoongi gave into his cell phone to Jungkook that their schedule had changed and to meet at the dorms for a personnel change rather than outside of his classroom.

 

Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to see Jungkook arrive earlier than he would have otherwise.

 

“Jimin,” Jungkook called out as they approached his dorm building. He hopped down the steps to meet them in their path. “Why aren’t you in class?”

 

Jimin shrugged, brushing past him. “I didn’t feel well,” he lied.

 

He managed to catch Jungkook’s concerned expression before walking past. He only realized afterwards that he had been able to enter his building without Jungkook stopping him to press for more details because Yoongi must have pulled him aside to quietly explain the situation.

 

Still, Jungkook managed to catch up to the rest of their security just before Jimin entered his dorm room.

 

“I’m going to take a nap,” Jimin announced to the hallway so all of the men in suits knew his plans for the evening – and knew not to interrupt. “I’ll let you know if I wake up for dinner and want something to eat.”

 

Jungkook sighed softly. “Jimin,” he tried to get his attention. “Wait a second.”

 

Jimin entered his dorm and slammed the door closed.

 

He threw his bag into the corner, uncaring when a seam split and half of his materials fell onto the floor. Normally, he would hate having pages ripped or creased when he tended to be a fairly organized person, but it held little of his attention in the moment. He kicked his shoes off and shrugged out of his zippered sweatshirt until he was down to his jeans and t-shirt. Halfheartedly, he threw himself onto his bed and put an arm over his eyes to try and block out the mid-afternoon sun.

 

Jimin couldn’t get a handle on his own emotions. The constant reminders this afternoon from all of his classmates made the fear that had gradually subsided bubble back up to the surface. He swallowed the guilt he felt for putting everyone around him – security and students – in danger, simply because he had been born into this life. He felt mortification as he thought back to the students that pitied his friendless existence. He felt anger that anyone would deem his life not valuable enough to require a dozen security guards stationed near him at all times, simply because they made it hard to focus in class.

 

It was difficult enough to manage these thoughts when he was running on a full night of sleep, but Jimin felt everything hit him full force as each emotion was magnified in his state of exhaustion. Every time he closed his eyes, the images of Jungkook’s terrified expression – the glass shattering in the night – the bullet holes in the wall – each vision made his hands shake and his heart rate accelerate, leaving him exhausted and awake for most of the night. He couldn’t focus on anything when he hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since Jungkook had…

 

Jimin swallowed, rolling over onto his side.

 

That was the last emotion he truly wanted to think about.

 

For nearly an hour, Jimin tossed and turned, trying to find a way to turn off his brain so he could finally sleep. He tried putting in headphones and cranking up the volume of his music to drown out all other thoughts. He tried turning on the TV in the corner and letting the plot of a daytime drama fill his mind. He even tried to literally count sheep in his head.

 

When none of those things worked, Jimin practically growled in frustration.

 

The room had grown steadily darker in the last hour that Jimin spent futilely tossing and turning. While the sun hadn’t fully set, it had certainly fallen below the horizon, leaving a dim glow to his room. Jimin imagined the other students in his class were most likely now on their way out of class. He even heard a few doors down the hallway open and slam closed as students filled the empty hall. Voices penetrated through the walls, many of them at an escalated volume as they grew excited at the prospect of their upcoming weekend break.

 

The noise finally spurred Jimin to action.

 

He shuffled across the floor on tiptoes as his bare feet recoiled at the cold, wooden boards beneath his feet. He opened the door to the hallway a fraction of an inch and winced at the bright, fluorescent light shining around the silhouette of a tall man standing upright in the doorway.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

The broad-shouldered man spun around, eyes alight with surprise as he noticed Jimin’s presence. “Jimin,” he breathed, sounding relieved – but looking concerned – when he saw him. “How are you feeling?”

 

Jimin glanced to the side, checking the vicinity to see where the rest of his security detail was located before lowering his voice. “Do you, um… Do you remember the first day you met me and you told me about… all your rules?”

 

Jungkook’s brows knit together as he tried to predict where this conversation was headed. “Yes?”

 

“And you said something about your job requiring you to remain at my side at all times unless I was in a self-contained space… like my bedroom?”

 

Jungkook slowly nodded, failing to see the end game. “Yes…?”

 

Jimin swallowed, staring down at the floor as his embarrassment grew. “But… you could, right? I mean – if you were to be in my room instead of outside of it, you wouldn’t get in trouble or anything… would you? You could stay in here?”

 

Although Jimin refused to look up after his last question, he could imagine the stunned expression on Jungkook’s face.

 

“I… could,” he slowly answered.

 

Jimin bit his lip and swallowed his pride as he took a small step backwards and widened his door just enough to allow Jungkook entry into his room.

 

Fortunately, Jungkook didn’t humiliate Jimin by asking questions and simply walked into the small, dark space without drawing any unwanted attention.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jimin hastily apologized as soon as he closed the door behind Jungkook. He slumped against it, feeling every muscle in his body suddenly sag in relief at the prospect of what he might finally be able to achieve after several very long nights. “I just – I haven’t slept,” Jimin rushed to fill him in. “I’ve been trying to, but… I can’t.”

 

“Just now?” Jungkook asked.

 

“No,” Jimin clarified as he nervously averted his gaze. “I mean I haven’t slept… all week.”

 

Even in the dark room, Jimin could see Jungkook’s eyes widen in shock.

 

Jimin!” He inhaled, preparing to scold him for not alerting them to this problem sooner, but Jimin waved a hand around to dismiss Jungkook’s words before he had even begun.

 

“I know, I know,” Jimin muttered. “Save the lecture, just…” He swallowed, avoiding eye contact once again; it was becoming a regular thing for Jimin. “The last time I was able to sleep for more than an hour was when you – when we, um…”

 

Jimin scratched at the back of his neck. He had been hoping Jungkook would have the same level of tact as Yoongi, politely cutting Jimin off when he knew what he was trying to say and didn’t want to force him to say it out loud. Jungkook, however, stared blankly back at him.

 

Jimin rolled his eyes.

 

Jungkook,” he snapped irritably. “You know what I’m talking about.”

 

Jungkook nodded, emotionless expression still on his face. “Yeah,” he murmured.

 

Jimin blinked, unable to fully comprehend whether that was a confirmation of understanding, or an agreement to help Jimin.

 

“I think… I felt safe,” Jimin slowly explained. “When you were here, I felt… protected.”

 

Jungkook nodded, seeming to have already realized this fact before without needing Jimin to explain himself. “I know.”

 

“So…” Jimin stared at the buttons along the collar of Jungkook’s dress shirt beneath his suit jacket. “Can you help?”

 

His immediate answer nearly knocked the air out of Jimin’s lungs.

 

“Of course.”

 

Jimin’s eyes flicked briefly up to meet Jungkook’s. He caught his genuine expression before quickly looking away and swallowing.

 

He had hoped that after offering such an odd proposition in the first place, the awkwardness would have subsided. Surely, nothing was as strange as trying to ask your personal security detail to lie down beside you to help you sleep.

 

But if anything, it seemed to double.

 

“Um…” Jungkook shrugged out of his suit jacket and reached for his gun holster before nodding towards Jimin’s bed. “Get on the bed.”

 

Jimin swallowed at the words. He knew the meaning and intent behind Jungkook’s words, but he couldn’t help when his brain tried to overlay a new meaning over the top of them.

 

Jimin swiftly laid down at his sudden direction. He wasn’t about to take his sweet time when Jungkook was being so accommodating, so he tried to shift his body as close to the concrete wall as he was able. Once he felt the slight pressure on the mattress behind him, the blood began to pound loudly in his ears. Jungkook seemed to be pulling off his shoes, trying to throw them towards the door before carefully situating himself on the mattress just as he had several nights before.

 

This had been way less awkward when Jimin had literally been out of his mind and couldn’t remember a thing.

 

“Do you, um… want the same thing as last time?”

 

Jimin’s heart skipped a beat as Jungkook’s voice spoke in a low tone, far closer to his ear than he had anticipated.

 

“Y-yeah,” Jimin stammered. He tried to turn his face into his pillow, hoping Jungkook wouldn’t see his growing blush. “If that’s ok.”

 

Without an answer, Jungkook simply rolled to his side and slid close until their bodies were aligned as they had been several nights prior. Then, with the slightest moment of hesitation, Jungkook lifted his arm across Jimin’s waist and pulled him close.

 

“Is this ok?”

 

Jimin fiercely closed his eyes. He had known since he was two that simply closing your eyes didn’t make you invisible to your surroundings, but he was still willing to test the theory once more.

 

“That’s fine.” And it was. Although Jimin felt embarrassed by what he was asking Jungkook to do, he’d also felt the wash of relief fill him as the strength of Jungkook’s grip on his waist tightened. If it meant he could catch even an hour of sleep, Jimin was willing to put himself through the humiliation.

 

But then he began to wonder what Jungkook must be thinking. He had agreed to Jimin’s request without a second thought, but would he have agreed to do anything if it hadn’t meant keeping Jimin safe and in his right mind? Was he doing all of this out of an obligation to his job?

 

Small tears began to slip out from beneath his closed eyelids and onto his pillow at the realization.

 

What if Jungkook was truly mortified by the idea of sharing a bed with Jimin? He knew that Jimin was gay. Maybe he thought that Jimin was making an excuse to use Jungkook as some sort of a sick fantasy? What if he requested a transfer after tonight? Jimin didn’t want that. He had grown quite comfortable with Jungkook and wanted him around, even when he wasn’t on duty. He didn’t want to risk any of that if that meant Jungkook might leave.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jimin suddenly apologized, sniffling through his tears. “I’m so sorry I’m making you do this.”

 

Jungkook carefully lifted himself up onto his elbow, peering down at his face. “Jimin,” he spoke softly, causing Jimin’s eyes to flutter open at his name. “Why are you crying?”

 

Jimin stared up at the man hovering over the top of him. He blinked in surprise when Jungkook reached down to brush his tears away with the pad of his thumb.

 

“I-I’m sorry,” he choked out again. It was easier to make eye contact with him now that the room was enveloped in near darkness. “This is weird, I know. Look – ” Jimin slowly began to sit up “ – I don’t want to force you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, so maybe we shouldn’t – ”

 

“I’m not uncomfortable,” Jungkook quickly cut him off. He used the same hand he had been wiping Jimin’s tears with to gently push Jimin back to the bed. “I want to help.”

 

Jimin sighed. “I know, but I’m sure there’s other ways to fix the problem,” Jimin assured him. “Or therapy. I’m sure I’ll need therapy at some point.”

 

“Yeah, maybe,” Jungkook agreed with a small chuckle. “But if this is what you need to solve the problem right now, then I’m more than happy to help. Honestly,” Jungkook continued, “needing someone to hold you while you sleep is a far better fix than trying to drink yourself into a stupor or something equally as stupid – so I’ll definitely take this over the alternative.”

 

Jimin smiled into the darkness, relieved to hear that Jungkook didn’t seem bothered by his request. “Are you sure?”

 

Jungkook sighed. He lay back down, carefully turning Jimin until he was back on his side in his previous posture. Once more, Jungkook reached around his waist to pull him close, but chose this time to seek out Jimin’s hand on the bed and laced his fingers through Jimin’s in the process to communicate his authenticity.

 

“Sleep,” he quietly urged Jimin. “I’ll stay as long as I can.”

 

That was all he needed to hear before he felt the warm, steady breath of Jungkook’s words spreading across the back of his neck, soothing all of his fears and anxieties and sending him into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Over the course of the next week, Jimin surprisingly grew used to his bizarre relationship with Jungkook. Quite literally nothing about their situation was normal, but somehow it managed to feel as if it was. Jungkook had managed to adjust his time on duty so he arrived closer to dinner and left in the early morning, allowing him time to help Jimin fall asleep and be able to stay at his side for a longer period of time. Jungkook never outright told Jimin he had done so, but Jimin noticed the change in schedule almost immediately and was secretly grateful he had gone out of his way to do so.

 

When Taehyung wasn’t visiting after classes, Jungkook and Jimin had grown into a bit of a routine of their own. While it still carried an air of awkwardness, they had found a way to calm their nerves. Jimin had taken to texting Jungkook, requesting that he pick up food on his way to his evening shift. When he would arrive, Jimin would invite him into his room and suggest that Jungkook eat part of his meal. Eventually, Jungkook fell into the habit of bringing twice the amount of food for both of them to have their fill.

 

Jimin had also begun to complete his homework earlier in the day so he wouldn’t have to do anything once Jungkook arrived. Over time, their post-dinner chatter would shift from eating on the floor to lounging on the bed. Sure, Jungkook still consistently checked his surroundings – often peering outside Jimin’s window – and periodically stepped outside to visit with the other agents in the hall, but it was about as natural as one could get in this situation. Eventually, one of them would take the initiative and simply turn off the lights and curl up on the bed with the other.

 

Jungkook had requested that they shift sleeping arrangements to help him continue his job while Jimin slept. As far as Jimin understood, Jungkook could help Jimin fall asleep provided that he himself did not fall asleep and remained alert. In the end, that meant that Jungkook did better lying where he could prop himself vertically on some pillows rather than lay completely horizontal. Jimin didn’t mind. Honestly, if he was being completely truthful about the matter, he rather liked the change. Rather than lying on his side with arms wrapped around his middle, Jimin now lay facing inward with his face pressed into Jungkook’s chest while Jungkook kept an arm wrapped around Jimin’s shoulders.

 

His only fear he had any longer were the fantasies that had slowly begun to crop up in his dreams that he worried would make themselves evident when he woke up.

 

But without fail, Jimin would always wake well rested and ready for the day, and without Jungkook anywhere to be seen. He always managed to uncurl himself from Jimin’s grasp, usually pulling the covers up to his chin and vanishing before Jimin could so much as bat an eye.

 

One such evening, nearly two weeks after Jimin had been attacked, they ventured into new and unfamiliar territory for both of them. There were some unspoken ground rules that both had come to follow in their odd ritual. One of them included a time and a place for conversations. Other than the first night when they had been trying to sort out just how their new situation would work, neither spoke to the other while lying in bed. It held a sort of intimacy – whispers in the dark – that neither had wanted to initiate.

 

Jimin was the first to break the unwritten rule.

 

He spent most of his evening cooped up in the library on campus, pulling books out and taking them to a small cubicle for a research paper. He had been so absorbed in his work that he hadn’t even noticed the time slipping by until his stomach rumbled and he checked his watch, only to notice that it was nearly ten and he hadn’t stopped working since his classes had let out.

 

Immediately, his gaze turned to the bodyguard behind his shoulder, shocked when he saw that Yoongi was no longer there and Jungkook had somehow taken his place without his realization.

 

“You – you’re here,” Jimin muttered, staring at him in confusion.

 

Jungkook smirked knowingly. “I was wondering when you would catch that.”

 

Jimin let out a huff of surprise, blinking at his surroundings. His eyes had been so strained, focused on reading his materials and staring at the screen of his laptop, that everything in front of him suddenly felt blurry and fuzzy to him. “Wow,” he muttered, ruffling the hair at the back of his head before stretching widely in his chair. “I’m starving.”

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook agreed, helping Jimin gather his belongings. “I think half the library heard your stomach growl, too.”

 

Jimin steadfastly ignored Jungkook’s comment in favor of packing up. “If it helps at all,” Jungkook continued, taking a small step forward to avoid being overhead, “my stomach has been rumbling, too.”

 

Jimin’s ears turned pink, touched that Jungkook hadn’t eaten because he had been waiting for Jimin.

 

“Well, then,” Jimin announced, slinging his backpack over his shoulders. “Let’s get going, shall we?”

 

They walked side-by-side to the car. Jimin would have liked to request that they enjoy the night air and walk to his dorm, but knew that evening walks weren’t exactly high on his list at the moment. Instead, he tried to feign exhaustion and slowed his walk to the car to prolong the brief moment.

 

“I can’t believe how long I was working.”

 

“At least the time went fast for you,” Jungkook reasoned. His eyes scanned their surroundings rapidly as he spoke. He appeared to be far more alert than he had been inside. “Whenever I used to study, I felt like the world would just stop moving.” He suddenly turned his gaze towards Jimin and cringed at the thought. “It was the worst.”

 

Jimin looked over at Jungkook, contemplating. He wondered what the two of them must look like from an outsider’s perspective. Jimin had on a ratty t-shirt, torn jeans, a backpack covered in numerous buttons, and hands stuffed into his front pockets. Jungkook, on the other hand, was quite a bit taller, had broad shoulders encompassed by a black suit jacket, and walked with his arms firmly at his sides. Everything about his appearance made him look at least five years older than he actually was, even down to his artfully styled hair.

 

Certainly, no one would have thought Jimin was older than Jungkook – not by a long shot.

 

“Was that why you became a security agent?” Jimin asked seriously. “Because it’s a physical occupation instead of an academic one?”

 

Jungkook laughed openly at Jimin’s question. “One would hope,” Jungkook mused. “Just because you don’t see me twenty-four hours a day doesn’t mean I’m not working.” Jimin cocked his head in silent question. “All of that investigation and research trying to learn about those threats you received was my team. You wouldn’t believe how many tests I ran trying to analyze the letters you received. Fingerprints – handwriting samples – psychological wellness – you name it, I did it.”

 

Jimin’s eyebrows rose appreciatively. Truly, he hadn’t realized just how much work any of the agents did on top of their usual duty in the field. It was certainly a physical occupation, but it also seemed to require so much more work than he knew.

 

“So… then why did you decide to become an agent?”

 

Jungkook pondered this for a moment. “I sort-of fell into it, I suppose,” he mused allowed. “I planned to work with the police, but was recruited out of training. One thing led to another and… here I am.”

 

Jimin smiled. “And now you’re protecting the President’s family. Quite a change from what you probably expected your life to look like.”

 

Jungkook smirked as they got to the car. He held open the door for Jimin. “Yeah, I suppose so.”

 

On the drive back, Jimin put both hands over his stomach as it growled again. He glanced at the restaurants flying past outside their window, wondering if any of them were still open. Jungkook must have noticed his expression, because he cleared his throat, lifted a plastic bag, and shook the contents within. Jimin looked in the bag, surprised to find that Jungkook had picked up some ramyun on his way. Jimin hadn’t texted him to ask him to bring food on his way, but he had still gone out of his way to find something for Jimin in case he needed it.

 

Jimin grinned.

 

They made their way into the dorm with Jungkook following Jimin into his room without even stopping to ask permission. Jimin, of course, had grown so comfortable with Jungkook’s presence that he immediately began shedding his clothing and pulling on his pajamas while Jungkook went to work, preparing their meal.

 

Of course, Jimin still waited until Jungkook had politely turned his back.

 

It wasn’t until the ramyun was cooked and Jimin was blowing on his noodles to cool it down that he resumed their discussion.

 

“So, you said you sort-of fell into the job. Wouldn’t it have been safer for you to go somewhere else with less risk?”

 

“I dunno,” Jungkook countered. “I really like the investigative work I get to do at the same time. I wouldn’t have been able to do the things I’m doing now in a police station – I can tell you that.”

 

“Right, but,” Jimin continued persistently, “your job isn’t like any of the other agents on your team. They’re literally asking you to be the guy that’s supposed to stand in front of me when someone pulls a trigger. You’re ok with that?”

 

Jungkook slurped a noodle of his own as he thought. “Yeah, I am,” he said. “To be honest, that’s probably part of the reason why I was recruited in the first place.”

 

Jimin’s hand froze midair, stunned by the comment. “What?”

 

Jungkook ate without delay, seeming to find no issue in his comment. “Special agents that work so close with the person they’re protecting have a higher risk of being in the line of fire. So, they try to choose people with fewer connections. Actually,” Jungkook continued with a shrug, “they usually recommend to anyone applying for this position that they shouldn’t plan to get married or start a family anytime soon. I’ve never been one to have tons of friends – I spent my free time working and exercising – and I’m also not married with kids. Truthfully, I’m the ideal candidate for this position.”

 

Jimin felt what little food he had managed to get into his stomach start to writhe like it was about to come back up.

 

“Wait, so… they hired you because you don’t know as many people, so if… if you died, then – then – ”

 

“That’s the case with most operatives in my position,” Jungkook immediately jumped in to soothe Jimin’s fears. “If I wanted to work out in the field in the military, especially if I wanted to run missions that actually had the potential to make a difference in the world, they would be just as risky for me. This way,” Jungkook continued, “I get to help make a difference by protecting the people that are actually changing the world.”

 

Jimin’s insides slowly calmed until they were at a light simmer. “You’re just protecting me, not my father – you know that, right?”

 

This time, it was Jungkook’s turn to make an appalled expression. “Don’t dismiss yourself as unimportant just because you’re not the one running the country. I know for a fact that there are tons of people that look up to you as a role model.” Jungkook shrugged half-heartedly and stared down at his noodles. “I know I did when I was in school.”

 

“Seriously?” Jimin tried to hide his growing smile. “You did?”

 

It was Jungkook’s turn to disguise his blush by fanning himself and pretending that the ramyun had simply been too hot. “Yeah, I mean… you’re the President’s son,” Jungkook muttered. “You dressed well, you were always smiling, and you used every single break from school to just… you know, travel around the country to work at orphanages and homeless shelters and… just be an all around good guy. I mean… who wouldn’t look up to you?”

 

Jimin shook his head, trying to dismiss the acts Jungkook had seen in the news. “It’s nothing,” he said. “I was just doing what any good President’s son would have done.” When Jungkook shot him a long look, as if silently protesting his defense, Jimin deflated slightly. “I mean… thank you.”

 

Jungkook smiled. “Yeah, learn to take a compliment.”

 

Jimin finished his bowl of noodles, setting the remnants of his food on his desk. He knew he would be disgusted in the morning by the food he had left out overnight, but couldn’t bring himself to care in that moment. “I’m exhausted,” he mumbled.

 

Jungkook quickly understood Jimin’s meaning and moved to hit the light switch as Jimin slid under the covers of his small, twin bed. He made room for Jungkook to slide in easily beside him and wrap an arm around Jimin’s shoulders.

 

Usually, this was the moment when Jimin would try to sneak a deep breath, inhaling Jungkook’s scent before falling into a peaceful sleep, but his brain didn’t seem to want to stop. They had been having a fairly honest conversation just now, and Jimin found himself feeling more and more at ease with Jungkook as each day passed. While it was one thing to have a slight crush on your bodyguard, it seemed like an entirely different thing to also feel like he was becoming one of your closest friends. With a crush, you at least had the benefit of some degree of anonymity. A crush held the connotation that feelings were no more than skin deep. But at some point, Jimin had grown to learn far more about Jungkook than he’d ever anticipated, and that made him believe his feelings were no longer “skin deep.”

 

He most certainly had more than a tiny crush.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

There was silence in the dark as Jimin realized that Jungkook hadn’t responded because he had simply turned his head to look down at Jimin in inquiry.

 

“I know I already asked if you were ok with this… arrangement,” Jimin began, alluding to his current state pressed up against Jungkook’s side. “But… does it make you feel weird… knowing that I’m… you know…”

 

“Gay?”

 

Jimin swallowed. “Yeah,” he whispered, still nervous about discussing such a topic out loud after so many years of silence. “Doesn’t it… bother you?”

 

“Bother me?” Jungkook thought on the idea for a moment. “Why would it bother me?”

 

Jimin blinked. Was Jungkook feigning indifference to the situation simply because he didn’t want Jimin to feel uncomfortable, or did he truly not care that Jimin was gay? “Because… I don’t know, because I’m gay,” Jimin muttered, unable to communicate his thoughts coherently. “I mean – what if – what if we spent so much time together like this that I started to have feelings for you?” Jimin swallowed. He knew it was a gutsy move to phrase the actual situation in a hypothetical context, but he had to know Jungkook’s thoughts. “Wouldn’t that… I don’t know, freak you out a little?”

 

He felt a shuffle of movement beneath his head and realized that Jungkook had shrugged in the dark. “I don’t know,” he answered. “I mean – I could ask you the same thing, right?”

 

Jimin frowned in confusion. “Ask me what?”

 

“Would it make you freak out if I started to have feelings for you?”

 

Instantaneously, Jimin’s heart began to pound at twice the speed. Had Jungkook just proposed the idea that it was possible for him to have feelings for Jimin? Was Jungkook even gay? Jimin had always gotten the impression that Jungkook was straighter than a board, but if his words were anything to go by… was he straight? Maybe he was open to the idea and was trying to show just how progressive he could be. Maybe he was simply putting Jimin’s fears at ease. But Jimin’s comment had been the truth phrased in a hypothetical situation… What if…

 

What if Jungkook had done the same?

 

Jimin swallowed. He couldn’t form an adequate response. The only thing he could do was shake his head in a silent answer.

 

Jungkook’s arm pulled him closer and he exhaled heavily. “Then I don’t mind either.”

 

That night, Jimin had been so nervous to fall asleep at Jungkook’s side that he had to pretend that he did.

 

*

 

“Come in!”

 

Jimin fidgeted nervously before pushing open the large, mahogany door. “Um, Dad? Do you have a second?”

 

His father peered up at Jimin over his reading glasses. “Jimin,” he murmured, surprised to see his son home. He set down the stack of papers he had been reading and pulled off his glasses. “I thought you had some midterms coming up? What are you doing here?” Then, with a wide grin and a guffaw, his father continued. “Not that I’m not pleased to see you!”

 

Jimin smiled, wringing his hands in front of himself awkwardly. “Yeah, I thought I would drop by for dinner. Mom’s been bugging me to visit, after… you know.”

 

His father smiled sadly, getting to his feet. “Yes, I know,” he said, moving towards Jimin. Then he wrapped his arms around Jimin and gave him a tight hug. “How have you been?”

 

“Oh – fine,” Jimin fibbed slightly. He looked down at his, now, scarred hands as he spoke. The stitches had healed very well, leaving behind only a faint pink line on his skin. He really was fine, but he figured that if his father knew the details of his sleeping arrangement with his security agent, he would most likely be less than thrilled. “You know – it’s just school.”

 

His father gave him a strained smile. “Jimin,” he spoke quietly. “You know what I mean.”

 

His mother had insisted on Jimin meeting with a therapist to help him process the incident. As much as Jimin initially hated the stigma, he found that the entire process had been surprisingly helpful. Strange, yes – but helpful nonetheless.

 

So, of course Jimin knew what his father meant. He wasn’t an idiot. He just… didn’t want to talk about it.

 

“I’m fine, really,” Jimin insisted. “Other than a few security changes and Taehyung clinging to me every moment he gets, things are back to normal.” His father nodded, seeming to be considering a follow-up question. Jimin beat him to the punch. “I have A’s in all of my classes this semester.”

 

His father patted him proudly on the back. “Well done!”

 

“Well,” Jimin continued with a slight wince, “except for, um… linear algebra? I mean, I have a B, but… I’m not sure that’s going to get much better.”

 

“You’ll be fine,” his father muttered in a low voice, as if trying to avoid being overheard by any bystanders – even though there were none. “I’m the President, and I don’t even use calculus.”

 

Jimin snorted. “Is it cool if I tell my professor you said that?”

 

His father held his hands up in the air in mock defense. “I’ll deny everything.”

 

Jimin laughed, following his father to the opposite side of the room. His father reclined in the nearest armchair, leaving the sofa across from him open for Jimin. “Take a seat,” he encouraged his son with a gesture. He crossed one leg over his knee and smiled when Jimin slowly moved to the offered spot. “What’s on your mind?”

 

Jimin swallowed, stiffly lowering himself to the couch. “Right,” he murmured, trying to muster his courage and find the resolve to say exactly what he wanted to say. “See, um… I wanted to talk to you.”

 

His father smiled kindly back at him.

 

“It’s, um… well, I thought you should know. I mean – it’s not bad – at least I don’t think it is, but… I mean, you’re the President, right? So anything that we think isn’t bad might actually be bad just because you’re the face of the country, right? So, um…” Jimin swallowed, biting his lower lip and blinking nervously at his father.

 

He continued to smile at Jimin.

 

And Jimin really hated that.

 

He knew exactly what his father was doing. It was one of his “techniques,” as he explained it. Whenever he had a business meeting with someone, he would intentionally listen without making a single interruption. He’d even told Jimin at one point that it was a strategy he used in his current position to get the other political party to say more than what they had perhaps intended to say in the first place.

 

And now he was using it on Jimin.

 

And Jimin was pissed – because it actually worked.

 

“Ok, see… I just need to come right out and say it, I think – you know, just rip the band-aid off, and, uh…” Jimin shook his head, clearing his thoughts. “Dad, I’m gay.”

 

His father remained steadfast in his inexpressiveness, waiting for more from Jimin.

 

“I didn’t want to be, I was just born like this,” Jimin continued in a rush, hoping that his father wasn’t ignorant enough to have such preconceptions in his mind. Nonetheless, he felt the need to mention it just in case. “And if you’re worried about your re-election campaign, you should be fine. I haven’t dated anyone or gone to any nightclubs or anything where any sort of blackmail could be used against you. And I won’t,” Jimin added, shaking his head and waving his hands back and forth frantically. “I mean – not until at least after the election. Maybe after your second term, if that’s what you think is best.”

 

Finally his father spoke up.

 

“Jimin,” he cut in, frowning. “Did you really think I would be so callous to my own son just because of my job?”

 

Jimin stared at him.

 

“Jimin,” he said, leaning forward as he spoke sincerely, “I love you. And that means that I will also love whoever you choose to love – whether that’s a man or a woman. Do you understand?”

 

Jimin felt tears instantly spring to his eyes.

 

“You… do you really mean that?” Jimin felt the need to clarify. “I mean – you’re ok that I’m – that I’m gay?

 

“Of course.” He stood and walked around the small coffee table separating them until he was seated next to Jimin on the spacious couch. He threw an arm around his shoulders pulling him close to his side in a strong, one-armed hug. “You’re my son, and that means that I’ll stand behind you one-hundred percent, even if that means choosing you over my job. Trust me,” he continued wryly. “While I love doing it, sometimes this job can come with its share of headaches.”

 

Jimin laughed through his tears before surging forward and burying himself in his father’s arms. “I love you, too, Dad,” he whispered, holding him close. He couldn’t remember the last time he had given his father an honest hug. Other than a simple arm around the shoulder, Jimin didn’t tend to be overly physical with him most of the time.

 

“If anything, I feel terrible that you felt like you couldn’t live your life until I was out of office,” his father continued, loosening his grip. “I thought you just wanted to keep things secret from your mother and me because you weren’t ready to tell us yet. I had no idea that you were sacrificing your own happiness for my public image.”


Jimin pulled back, confused. “What? I mean – how did you know?”

 

His father sighed. “The attack on you a few weeks back,” he explained. “I knew exactly why you were targeted.”

 

Jimin swallowed. “You knew? But…” His voice trailed off as he recalled the conversation he’d had with Jungkook; he had promised he wouldn’t tell his father. Had he changed his mind after the attack?

 

“That agent of yours – Jeon Jungkook – ” his father interrupted his thoughts “ – apparently he made quite the scene in front of his boss.”

 

“A… scene?”

 

“He seems to have become rather protective of you,” his father explained. “When their security team received that anonymous note, Jungkook flat out told his superior that he would handle the situation and that I was not to be notified of its contents since it involved a private matter that you had not yet disclosed to me.” His father smirked. “I was contacted, regardless, by his superior and without his knowledge, I’m sure. I was filled in on the details of the threat you received. Of course,” he continued, “I’m glad I insisted that Jungkook keep his job with you when his boss wanted to fire him, or he would have never been there to protect your life in the first place.”

 

Jimin’s mind seemed sluggish processing all of that information. Jungkook had stood up to his superiors for him? And in the process nearly gotten himself fired? Why was he so protective of Jimin? Or better yet, was he so protective that he would rather see himself fired than share Jimin’s secret before Jimin was comfortable doing so himself?

 

Jimin felt his heart pound.

 

“It seems like he wants to gain your trust,” his father continued.

 

“Yeah,” Jimin answered without hesitation. “Yeah, I trust him.”

 

“Well, then, it seems he’s doing his job.” His father grinned satisfactorily. “Am I allowed to say I told you so, now, after that fit you threw about getting additional security in the first place?”

 

Jimin rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever.”

Chapter Text

“So… I told my dad.”

 

Taehyung’s head whipped up from the book he had been buried in. “Seriously?”

 

Jimin shrugged, as if feigning that it wasn’t a big deal. He scratched the back of his head and went back to drumming his pencil on the table. He and Taehyung had been cooped up in an enclosed study room at the library for most of the afternoon, bogged down with one too many papers. “Yeah, I mean… I just figured I should tell him.”

 

“Wow.” Taehyung reclined in his chair. He crossed one foot over the other on top of the table and pushed back on his wooden chair until it was balanced on only two legs. “That’s just – that’s great, Jimin. I take it everything went ok?”

 

“Yeah. Well,” he amended with raised eyebrows, “it’s better than ‘ok.’ He was completely supportive, to be honest.”

 

Taehyung grinned and put both arms behind his head in a relaxed pose. “So, I guess now you can make a move on a certain someone – ” he nodded towards one of the many windows of their study room where Jungkook was standing upright with his back to the pair “ – without having to worry about keeping it under wraps, right?”

 

Jimin stubbornly focused on his textbook. “Hmm?” he hummed in response, feigning confusion.

 

“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Taehyung countered with a smug grin. “I mean – there’s only so much staring at someone’s ass through the window in the library one person can get away with before it starts getting incredibly obvious.” Then, with an added smirk, Taehyung continued. “Not that it wasn’t already obvious before, of course.”

 

Jimin sighed, easily caving at his friend’s insistence. “I didn’t come out to my father just because I have a crush on Jungkook, ok?”

 

Taehyung threw back his head and laughed, nearly toppling his chair over at the same time. “I expected you to pretend you had no idea what I was talking about at least a little bit longer than that!

 

Jimin groaned, folding both arms on the table and dropping his head onto them with an echoing thud. “I can’t help it,” Jimin muttered pathetically. “I mean – I told you, I always knew I was gay, right? But I’ve never actually… liked anyone.” Jimin brought his head back up as he debated over just how much of their relationship to give away. “Jungkook – he knows who I am, and he doesn’t mind one bit.” He suddenly whipped his head up, looking at Taehyung with an exhausted expression. “Do you know how hard it is to find anyone when you’re the President’s son – someone who just likes you for you?” Taehyung’s giggles tapered off, finally getting himself under control at Jimin’s serious tone of voice. However, he was sent back into another fit of giggles as Jimin mumbled to himself. “Besides, can you blame me for looking?”

 

“Ok, ok,” Taehyung tried to respond through his wide grin. “The man likes you, not to mention he’s got a supremely toned body, especially if it looks anything remotely like Yoongi does without a shirt or – ”

 

“Oh, Tae, please don’t,” Jimin winced, covering his ears. “It was awkward enough when you used to talk like that about some guy that I’ve never met before, but please don’t put those thoughts about Yoongi – ”

 

“ – so my point is,” Taehyung vehemently continued despite Jimin’s protests, “what’s stopping you from making your move?” He dropped the front legs of his chair firmly back onto the ground before leaning forward across the table that separated them. “You like him, he likes you – ” Taehyung shrugged “ – sounds like a good start to me!”

 

“Yeah, but – he doesn’t like me like that.”

 

Taehyung scoffed. “Who says?”

 

Jimin sighed. “Just because you think you can turn every man you meet gay, doesn’t mean that’s how things actually work.”

 

Taehyung shoved his books to the side to rest his arms on the table. He ignored the red book on the end that dropped to the floor. Clearly they were finished studying. “I’m just saying, why not… you know, go for it?”

 

“Maybe because he’s only nice to me since it’s his job?” Jimin rationalized.

 

“No, he’s not,” Taehyung refuted immediately. “And you know that.”

 

“I think that I know that, but there’s still a chance I could be wrong!”

 

Taehyung was growing irritated by Jimin’s lack of action. “Right,” he begrudgingly accepted Jimin’s premise with a small eye roll. “So, your plan is to just go on with things the way that they are because you’re worried he might be pretending to be nice to you?”

 

Jimin shrugged with his hands outstretched in a helpless pose. “I don’t see what else I can do,” he told him. “It’s safer this way and you know it.”

 

“It’s safer, but at what cost?” Taehyung fired back. “Jimin, life is about taking chances – and this is one you should take. You’re the one that said he’s the first person you’ve ever had feelings for, right?” He didn’t wait for Jimin’s confirmation of his statement before plowing on. “Then you should make a move!”

 

“Yeah,” Jimin agreed sarcastically, “because nothing bad would happen if I made things extremely awkward between Jungkook and me when he is literally required to stand less than two meters away from me at all times.” He snorted. “Good one, Tae.”

 

“Ok, you know what? Fine,” Taehyung childishly countered. “Don’t confess your feelings. Live in fear for the rest of your life. Go ahead,” he challenged, gesturing abruptly towards Jungkook’s figure. “Let a good thing that could have been great – absolutely fantastic – slip away without even trying. That’s a fucking great idea, Park Jimin.”

 

Jimin blinked in a stunned silence as Taehyung wearily shook his head in frustration and left through the door with all of his belongings.

 

*

 

While Taehyung’s dramatic entrance hadn’t necessarily pushed Jimin into action, it had certainly put several ideas into his head. Perhaps he had been over thinking things. He freely admitted that Jungkook’s presence while he slept was becoming more of a crutch than a necessity at this point. His regular therapy sessions had seen to that. While Jimin might be initially restless without him present to fall asleep, he had the suspicion that it would have more to do with the fact that it was him missing Jungkook’s warmth rather than feeling a lack of security. He could survive without Jungkook if he had to. Besides, if Jimin confessing to him was awkward enough, Jungkook could always just switch to the graveyard shift so he never had to interact with Jimin during waking hours again.

 

But at the same time…

 

Jimin didn’t want to lose Jungkook. He just couldn’t imagine being without him at this point, as bizarre as it seemed. They had only known each other for just a few months, but they spent all of their time together. Other than the moments when Jimin was either studying or taking a break with Taehyung, Jungkook was at his side. They had somehow become such close friends to the point that Jimin felt he could share nearly everything about himself with Jungkook.

 

Everything except for this.

 

Even still, he couldn’t help but let his mind run away with the possibility of what it would be like if Jungkook returned his feelings. All things considered, everything would be virtually the same as it was now, with the exception of some added perks. They were required to spend their time together anyway, so no one would question Jungkook’s presence. Jimin imagined the glee he would have at the random paparazzi or passerby on the street that wouldn’t even look twice, given Jungkook’s assignment as a security guard.

 

And yet, despite the perks, Jimin was still afraid.

 

He had spent the entire trip from the library to his dorm silent and deep in thought. Jungkook had remained just as quiet, hovering off to the side to give Jimin space to think, but he hesitated at his dorm room.

 

“Uh – Jimin?”

 

Jimin shrugged his bag off of his shoulders and turned at look at Jungkook, as if he were surprised that they had already arrived at his dorm room. “Yeah?”

 

“Do you, uh… want me to come inside? You were, just… You didn’t say anything.” Jungkook shifted his feet nervously. “I didn’t know if you needed to keep studying, or if I should…?”

 

Jimin immediately shook his head. “Oh, no, I’m done! I was just thinking about – my homework,” he hastily fibbed. “You can come in. It’s due next week.”

 

“Oh.” Jungkook smiled widely at the offer. “Ok, then.”

 

Jimin’s stomach flipped at his joyful expression.

 

“Why don’t I order something to be delivered?” Jungkook suggested, already flipping through his address list. “I was thinking Chinese?” Jimin lifted a finger and opened his mouth, but Jungkook cut him off. “With extra egg rolls. I know.”

 

His heart fluttered.

 

How had they grown so close so fast? Perhaps… Jimin wasn’t imagining their bond? Was it more than friendship that made Jungkook so attentive?

 

Jimin watched Jungkook pace in the corner of the room as he placed their order over the phone. When he finished, Jimin pretended he hadn’t been watching. Instead, he pulled out his laptop from his bag.

 

“So, I was thinking,” he began, “that I might watch a movie tonight before I went to bed. And I know you can’t, technically, watch it, since you’re still on duty, but I thought I might let it play and you could just… happen to watch it since you’re required to stay here and protect me.”

 

Jungkook snorted. “That’s the story?”

 

Jimin shrugged off his question. “So, which is it? Do you like comedy? Action and adventure? Romance?”

 

Jungkook shuffled forward, glancing at the collections of movies Jimin kept on his laptop. His breath ghosted along the back of Jimin’s neck, making him shudder involuntarily at Jungkook’s close proximity. “Do you have any horror?”

 

Jimin made a face. “Gross,” he muttered. “What kind of a person actually likes being scared.”

 

“Shut up,” Jungkook childishly countered. “What kind of a grown adult still likes watching kids’ cartoons?”

 

Jimin made a face, mildly insulted by the accusation. “The artwork was breathtaking and the plot was incredibly intricate. Plus,” Jimin added with narrowed eyes, “that was one time.”

 

Jungkook snickered. “Yeah, whatever you say.”

 

In the end, the pair decided to watch an action-packed film. Jungkook and Jimin had gotten their food and sat on the floor with the laptop in front of them. Once they had finished their meal and it had started to get late, Jimin shyly looked to the bed.

 

Jungkook, fortunately, caught the movement.

 

“Are you tired? Do you need to lie down?”

 

Jimin quickly nodded, placing his computer that continued to play their movie on top of his desk so he could watch it from across the room, and climbed into bed. He easily maneuvered his way underneath the covers while Jungkook stretched out on top of them, placing himself in the same, practiced pose they had used for weeks.

 

But this time, Jimin’s thoughts began to wander.

 

He was already curled into Jungkook’s side, but found that he was subtly moving closer than usual. It had become normal to have his head cradled on Jungkook’s chest and for Jungkook to wrap an arm around Jimin’s shoulders, but that tended to be the extent of their physicality. However, after Jimin’s chat with Taehyung in the library that afternoon, he was feeling surprisingly emboldened.

 

Tentatively, Jimin brought a hand up to wrap around Jungkook’s middle.

 

Jimin froze as his arm settled across Jungkook’s chest, waiting for a response. He held his breath, thinking that he might have noticed a slight movement, but Jungkook never said a word.

 

He pushed his luck, nudging his leg forward until it was pressed fully up against Jungkook through the barrier of his comforter.

 

Again, no response.

 

Jungkook’s eyes were fixated on the computer screen, following along with the movie they had started. It was like he hadn’t even noticed Jimin’s out-of-character actions. Occasionally, his eyes scanned the room, always checking for anything out of the ordinary, before it returned to the movie on his laptop.

 

Jimin couldn’t remain focused. He stared wistfully up at the light glow of the screen playing on his face in the dark room. The sharp cut of his jaw was made that much more prominent as the shadows danced across his skin. Even his gaze held a small sparkle from the light reflecting in his eyes.

 

“Jungkook.”

 

The word fell from his lips, uninhibited. He blinked in surprise at his spontaneous action. However, he couldn’t prepare himself for the sudden look Jungkook gave him when he reacted to hearing his name.

 

This was it. It was now or never. They were a breath away, eyes locked on one another.

 

It was all the excuse Jimin needed.

 

He flattened himself across Jungkook’s chest and pushed forward until his lips mashed against his. Looking back, he wondered if it was more than a few seconds, but in the moment it felt like an eternity. Thoughts rushed through his head. He felt a rush of adrenaline at his actions, yet a surge of fear towards the potential outcome. He found himself wondering what Jungkook must be thinking. Was his still, rigid frame rejection, or was Jungkook just surprised? He wondered if he was even doing this right. Jimin knew there was supposed to be more to this kissing thing than just putting your lips on someone else’s. There was more… movement, wasn’t there? He felt inexperienced. He had made the first move, and now he panicked, wondering what the next one was supposed to be.

 

His nerves took over and Jimin abruptly pulled away, leaving one hand on the bed to support his body. When he realized that his other hand had roamed freely on top of Jungkook, having inched higher until it was clenching the tie around his neck, Jimin immediately snapped it back, cradling his hand to his chest as if he had been burned.

 

“Um.” Jungkook’s Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed audibly. He remained motionless, staring back at Jimin in surprise. “What was that?”

 

Jimin tried very hard to remain calm. “Uh… a kiss?”

 

“Yeah.” Jungkook’s darted anxiously to the side before quickly returning to Jimin. “You kissed me.”

 

Jimin bit his lip, feeling the panic bubble up into his chest. “Kind-of.”

 

Jungkook nodded, processing the information. “Ok.”

 

Jimin slowly pulled away from Jungkook until he was able to sit back on his bed with his legs folded beneath himself. “Maybe, um…” Jimin’s hands fidgeted nervously in his lap. “Maybe you should go? For tonight, I mean?”

 

Jungkook took a moment to process these words before eventually climbing out of bed. “Yeah, ok.” He shuffled to the door, picking up his belongings on the way. As he grabbed his shoes from the ground and reached towards the door knob, he turned back to Jimin with a blank expression. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight, Jimin.”

 

“Goodnight,” Jimin mumbled in response.

 

The door closed behind Jungkook with a soft click. Jimin put a hand to his lips, holding it in place as the last few minutes replayed in slow motion in his mind.

 

This… this was good. He thought. It could be very bad later – maybe – but for now, he thought it was good. Probably. Jungkook had at least said he would see him later. He wouldn’t have said as much if he was planning on running away or changing his work shift would he? Or maybe he was and had lied to make Jimin feel better.

 

Jimin scrambled across the room through the dark, flipping his laptop lid closed and vehemently ending the movie. He snatched up his cell phone that he had left plugged into the wall charger beside his desk. He hurried to type a familiar number and chewed on his thumb nail as he paced, waiting for an answer.

 

“…Hello?”

 

“Tae.”

 

There was a soft groan on the other end. “Jimin? You do remember I have an eight o’clock class tomorrow morning, right? We both do.”

 

“Tae, I did it.”

 

Jimin thought he heard a stifled yawn through the phone before Taehyung answered. “Did what, exactly? Seriously, can this wait until tomorrow? I live, like, four doors away from you. I’ll meet you before class.”

 

“I kissed Jungkook. Oh my God,” Jimin rambled, running a nervous hand through his hair. He was suddenly jittery, now, after having spoken the words aloud. “I actually kissed Jungkook. Oh my God. Tae, what do I do?”

 

Jimin heard a series of noises on the other end. There was a squeak of Taehyung’s bedsprings as he, Jimin assumed, must have sat up suddenly at Jimin’s news. Another click in the background meant he had turned on a lamp beside his bed. There was even a muted, “Yoongi, get dressed – you have to leave, like – now. I’m about to have some serious girl talk.”

 

There was more grumbling on the other end before Taehyung finally spoke again.

 

“Ok – tell me everything.”

Chapter Text

The next day was supremely awkward.

 

Or at least Jimin felt like it was. Really, nothing had actually happened. Jungkook had been gone when he had woken up the following morning, as per his usual security routine. But when he arrived again in the early afternoon, Jimin couldn’t help but to feel as if there was an uncomfortable tension between the two of them.

 

They danced around one another for quite some time. Jimin studiously avoided Jungkook’s eyes, while Jungkook remained bolt upright with his hands obediently clasped before him at all hours of the day. He was attentive to his surroundings, eyeing everyone in their path, but Jimin couldn’t help but feel as if he was overly invested in his regular duties so he could appear too busy to talk to Jimin.

 

Even still, Jimin was somewhat relieved. He, too, had found other means to distract himself. He had thought about inviting Taehyung to spend the evening with him, but feared that his friend would inadvertently say the wrong thing in front of Jungkook, especially since he had already spent most of the night talking to Taehyung about said individual. Instead, he decided that it was best to use his time while Jungkook was on duty to work at the library where he had an excuse not to talk. When he finished his work, he muttered some sort of explanation about needing to shop for his mother’s upcoming birthday and walked around downtown aimlessly for nearly two hours. He was exhausted after the additional time on his feet and wished he could return home to lie down.

 

But he would tolerate it – anything to stay away from his bedroom.

 

Once he had finally run out of petty excuses to stay away from his dorm, Jimin trudged semi-reluctantly to the black SUV that was idling near the shop he’d just been in, sliding across the seat and huddling close to the far door as Jungkook climbed in behind him.

 

But as they arrived at their destination and he moved to climb out, a warm hand covered his.

 

“Um, Jimin?”

 

Jimin froze, hand slipping off of the latch of the car door.

 

Jungkook cleared his throat and spoke a bit louder. “Could you two excuse us for a moment? I would like to speak to Jimin about something in private.”

 

Jimin caught the movement of the men in the front seat, both climbing out of the vehicle without hesitation. Once the doors slammed closed and silence fell upon the car, Jimin tentatively returned his gaze to Jungkook.

 

“I, uh – I thought we should maybe… talk.”

 

Jimin shook his head, staring at the man’s knees instead of his eyes. He would be unable to speak coherently if he did. “No, it’s ok. We really don’t need to talk.”

 

Jungkook’s torso shifted in Jimin’s direction; Jimin kept his eyes glued to his knees. “Jimin, I – I think you’re a really great friend.”

 

Jimin swallowed. He had known all along where this was going. He just wished that it didn’t have to be verbalized.

 

“Yeah,” Jimin nodded. “You’re a great friend, too.”

 

“But I think… that might be all.”

 

“Yeah, of course.” Jimin licked his lips, suddenly feeling like his entire mouth had gone dry.

 

“I thought – maybe it would be better if we spent our time together… not in the evening,” Jungkook mumbled. “Maybe I could come by sometime when I’m off duty during the day and we could just hang out… as friends?”

 

Jimin nodded robotically. It figured that his first crush would end with the “just friends” excuse he’d seen play out one too many times on television. He quickly looked for an exit out of this conversation. “Sure, that sounds great.”

 

“Ok.” Jungkook’s hands turned to fists, resting somewhat awkwardly on his lap. “Yeah.”

 

“I should, um… I should go,” Jimin hurried to say, thumb pointing at the building over his shoulder. “If I don’t see you later – goodnight.”

 

“Right, ok – goodnight.”

 

But as Jimin got out of the car, he caught Jungkook’s steadfast gaze through the window pane.

 

He wondered. For a man that had rejected him – was he supposed to be watching Jimin so closely?

 

*

 

The following day was a Saturday. After Jimin had spoken to Taehyung about the disappointing end to his non-existent fling with Jungkook, his friend made plans for them to pick up a coffee late in the morning. While this excursion had been planned primarily to help fend off the hangover that Taehyung was anticipating after his Friday night out, Jimin still readily agreed to join – anything to take his mind off of his recent Jungkook problem.

 

At least, that had been his original plan.

 

Right before Jungkook knocked on his door that morning.

 

“Jungkook?” Jimin wore a quizzical expression, completely baffled by his presence. Not only was Jungkook here at the wrong time, but he wasn’t even dressed in his usual suit and tie. Instead, he had donned a pair of loose fit jeans, an oversized t-shirt, and a black beanie. “What are you…?”

 

“I thought you might want to hang out,” Jungkook murmured, putting both hands on his cap and tugging it tighter over his head nervously. He seemed embarrassed. “Remember? I said yesterday that it would be nice if we hung out as friends when I wasn’t on duty…”

 

Jimin remembered their conversation vividly. He had just assumed that Jungkook had made up a false proposal to make the process of turning Jimin down less painful.

 

“Y-yeah, I remember.”

 

“Well, then…” Jungkook glanced at the empty room behind Jimin. “Can I come in?”

 

Jimin blinked.

 

This wasn’t actually happening – was it?

 

“Um.” Jimin swallowed. How was this fair? Jungkook had turned him down. Why was he trying to make things worse by spending even more time with Jimin? Was he hoping that this was supposed to change Jimin’s feelings for him?

 

Jimin also wondered if he was more of a masochist than he realized.

 

“Yeah, ok,” he stammered, glancing over at Yoongi, his on duty security guard. He seemed neither thrilled nor disappointed about Jungkook’s appearance. Yoongi simply maintained his usual poker face leaving Jimin to guess his actual thoughts. Was this sort of a thing even allowed? “Sure.”

 

Jungkook stepped past Yoongi and moved into the small space.

 

“You, um…” Jimin quietly closed the door behind him while gesturing towards Jungkook’s outfit. “You look different.”

 

“Yeah.” Jungkook had already started to kick off his boots at the door when Jimin spoke to him. He stuffed his hands into his pants pockets at his comment, seeming to physically shrink under the scrutiny. He looked down at his clothes with apprehension. “Different bad?”

 

“No.” Jimin quickly shook his head. “It’s fine. I mean good.” Jimin hastily tried to organize his thoughts. It was increasingly difficult now that Jungkook was once again standing inside of his bedroom. “I mean – I like that you look… you know, more normal. Like me.”

 

Jungkook nodded slowly at his words. He surveyed the area as if he were looking at it with new eyes. As far as Jimin knew, he was. Up until this point, he had only ever viewed the space with a critical approach, eyeing the potential weaknesses and strengths of Jimin’s room from a security standpoint. He was proven right when Jungkook pointed at his video games lined across the top shelf above his small TV.

 

“Do you play much?”

 

Jimin shrugged. He hadn’t moved from his closed door, feeling as if the distance would help him keep clarity of mind. “A bit,” he answered. “I mostly play those dumb racing games.”

 

“Yeah?” Jungkook’s lips turned up in interest at his words. “Me, too. Wanna race?”

 

Jimin smiled back involuntarily. His actions had long since become an automatic response to Jungkook that he couldn’t will away. “Sure.”

 

It was almost as if the stress and tension in the air lifted after just half an hour of playing and joking around with one another. They began to playfully taunt the other, adding insults when they were victorious and trying to find ways to cheat when they were losing. Jimin was beginning to feel like maybe – just maybe – they could truly continue to be friends without having to even think about the kiss.

 

Right up until Taehyung called.

 

“I’m going to kill Yoongi,” Taehyung groaned when Jimin answered the phone in the middle of one of their games. “He was supposed to stop me at drink number four last night, but look at me now. Ugh, my head is killing me.”

 

Jimin smiled fondly at Taehyung’s complaining. It was routine for Jimin to get a call like this every Saturday morning, but the culprit of Taehyung’s excruciating pain always differed from night to night. This time, it appeared to be Yoongi’s fault that Taehyung was hung over. “I’m sure your lovable charm had nothing to do with the fact that you were able to weasel more drinks from the bartender while Yoongi wasn’t looking.”

 

“He’s an agent for the President’s son. He’s supposed to be better at protecting people, right?”

 

Jimin snorted. “I’m not sure his job is to protect someone from themselves.”

 

Taehyung made a low growling sound into the phone that made Jimin chuckle. “Whatever. I’m walking across campus to get coffee, now. Are you on your way?”

 

Jimin glanced to his left where Jungkook was rapidly pressing a series of buttons on his controller. His face was passive, as if he were trying to appear like he wasn’t listening in on their conversation. “I can’t, actually. Sorry.”

 

“What the hell…?” The consistent scuffing of Taehyung’s feet that Jimin had been hearing in the background of his call stopped suddenly. “Jimin, are you standing me up?”

 

Jimin sighed. He cradled the phone between his shoulder and his cheek so both of his hands were free to continue playing his video game. “I’m hanging out with Jungkook,” Jimin explained in what he hoped was a nonchalant tone. “He came over this morning.”

 

The line was silent for a moment before Taehyung softly responded, “Seriously?” The single word was filled with an infinite number of follow-up questions. He just showed up? Without being invited? But I thought he turned you down? Why would he do that if he turned you down? Is he trying to torture you? Oh my God, did he change his mind, and now he does have feelings for you?

 

Jimin tried to funnel all of his own confusion at the situation into his one word answer. “Yeah.”

 

And the funny thing between them – and possibly the reason why they were so close – was that Taehyung understood everything from that one word without having to ask a single follow-up question.

 

“Ok,” he finally exhaled. “Well, I’m still going. You hang out with Jungkook and I’ll… call you later.”

 

Jimin cringed internally at the hidden meaning. There would most definitely be a number of questions that he wouldn’t be able to avoid. “Right. Talk to you later.”

 

He hung up his phone, tossing it indifferently to the floor so he could return immediately to his race.

 

But his screen had been paused.

 

Jimin looked at Jungkook in confusion. “I’m off the phone,” he muttered, hoping the explanation would resume their game.

 

“Was that Taehyung?” Jungkook asked.

 

“Yes,” Jimin answered slowly. He nodded towards the TV and tried again. “You can un-pause the game.”

 

“What did he want?”

 

Jimin narrowed his eyes at Jungkook curiously. “He wanted coffee,” he explained slowly. Why was Jungkook so interested?

 

“You can go, you know,” Jungkook said, setting his controller down on the floor. “It’s ok.”

 

“But – you’re here,” Jimin countered. “That would be kind-of rude, wouldn’t it?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “Then I’ll go, too.”

 

Jimin stared at him. “You want to hang out with Tae?”

 

“Sure,” Jungkook agreed. “He’s your friend, right? C’mon, it’ll be fun.”

 

“Um.” Jimin let out a small huff of laughter, unsure of Jungkook’s bizarre personality shift. He had never once shown an interest in talking to Taehyung when he was around Jimin before. Was that part of his new plan to make sure Jimin knew that Jungkook was a friend – and only a friend? By bringing Taehyung into the mix, was he solidifying his stance that this was a platonic friendship?

 

“Yeah, ok. I mean, sure.” Jimin fumbled for the right words. “I guess… we should go get coffee, then.”

 

*

 

Taehyung looked up in surprise when Jimin entered his usual café with Jungkook in tow.

 

“Wow.” Taehyung blinked at them as they approached. “I’ll be honest, I imagined this morning going one of a few ways, but this was not one of them.”

 

Jimin studiously ignored Taehyung and turned to Jungkook. He was pretty sure he needed a minute alone with Taehyung to explain a few things. “Could you get me a coffee?” He dug around in his back pocket to fish out his wallet. “I’ll buy. Just – I don’t know, surprise me.”

 

Jungkook waved his money off with a smile and a roll of his eyes and walked to the register to order.

 

The moment Jungkook was far enough away, Taehyung abruptly leaned forward over his coffee with a serious expression. “What the hell is going on, Park Jimin?”

 

Jimin sighed heavily and dropped into the nearest seat. “I have no idea,” Jimin hissed. “He just – he showed up this morning out of the blue. I think he’s trying to make things painfully clear that we’re friends and only friends.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung challenged, “but anytime I’ve been friendzoned, they usually try to put distance between us – not spend extra time together!”

 

Jimin raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You’ve been friendzoned?”

 

The look Taehyung sent him was venomous. “Not the point, Jimin.”

 

Jimin shook his head, returning to the topic at hand. He had also thought that it was strange for Jungkook to go out of his way to spend more time with him, but since he’d never handled this sort of rejection before… it made it that much more confusing. “It’s weird,” Jimin muttered. “At least – it was weird for a little while, but then we played this video game and – I dunno…” He shrugged helplessly. “It kind-of felt like we were back to our old selves again. It was nice.”

 

Taehyung set his coffee down and shifted forward in order to whisper his next words so they wouldn’t be overheard. “But you’re not,” Taehyung pointed out. “You’re in love with the guy – and he knows that – so you’re just pretending like things are how they used to be. But they’re clearly not.”

 

“Well… yeah, maybe.” Jimin bit his lip. “But he still wants to be my friend, even after I made things extremely awkward, and I’m grateful for that.” He swallowed his nerves and spoke from the heart. “You don’t know what it feels like not to have any friends that you can trust, Tae.” He stared down at his clenched hands, bolstering his courage to tell Taehyung how he truly felt. “I don’t have the luxury of just walking up to someone and chatting with them like you can. So – yeah, maybe it’s weird, but I really don’t want to lose him.”

 

Taehyung sighed at Jimin’s simple plea for him to understand. “But how are you supposed to get over him if he keeps spending time with you, huh? He’s going to string you along and you’ll never be able to move on!”

 

“Maybe I’m ok with that,” Jimin spit back. “I mean – I want him in my life, and if that’s what it takes to have him around – then I’ll do it.”

 

Taehyung put his weary head into his hands. “Oh my God.” His voice came out muffled as he grumbled to himself before he finally snapped his head back up with renewed vigor in an attempt to make Jimin understand. “Jimin, you’re going to get hurt. You’re going to live in pain, and you won’t even be able to recognize it because you’ll think it’s all worth it in the end!”

 

“It is worth it,” Jimin argued, palms placed flat on the table in his anger. “I’ve lived every day of my life making sacrifices, Taehyung. I’m not a stranger to it. So, if I have to ignore my feelings for Jungkook just to be able to see him, then I will.” Jimin fingers curled into determined fists on the table. “And I won’t regret it.”

 

Taehyung stared back at Jimin in awe. He slowly shook his head with a sigh.

 

“I don’t know if I should be impressed by your determination, or if I should feel sorry for you.”

 

Jimin blinked furiously as angry tears from his impassioned argument rose to the surface. “Don’t,” he softly choked out. “You don’t need to do anything. Just… let me handle this on my own, ok?”

 

“Sorry… am I interrupting something?”

 

Jimin and Taehyung turned in sync, having forgotten about their surroundings. Jungkook was standing beside the table with a drink in either hand. He wore a pleasant expression, making Jimin believe that he hadn’t heard much – or any – of their hushed conversation.

 

But slowly, Jimin’s eyes drifted past Jungkook to the silent security guard that had been hovering nearby the entire time. The man swallowed nervously, blinking fast as his eyes darted back and forth between their table and the door he was supposed to be watching.

 

Jungkook may not have heard their conversation.

 

But Yoongi heard everything.

 

*

 

They didn’t stay long. Their conversation was rather stilted and awkward with Jimin and Taehyung both feeling frustrated with the other and unable to continue their argument while Jungkook was also seated at the table. They tried to make small talk, but it continued to dissolve into halfhearted shrugs and monosyllabic answers.

 

By the time they finished their drinks, Taehyung had quickly left the café, claiming that he was supposed to meet with a professor, despite it being Saturday morning. Jimin took a page from his book and created a half-truth to ask Jungkook to leave as well.

 

“I have quite a bit of homework this weekend,” Jimin murmured into his coffee cup. “I should really get started on it.”

 

Jungkook nodded. After Taehyung’s abrupt exit, he didn’t appear to be entirely convinced that Jimin was telling the truth. Regardless, he went along with his excuse. “Sure, that sounds good.” He stood, pushing his chair in. “I had fun, you know. Maybe we could hang out again another day?”

 

Jimin’s heart fluttered involuntarily. “I’d like that.”

 

Jungkook grinned. “I’ll see you tonight.”

 

Jimin nodded. “See you.”

 

The door closed behind Jungkook on his way out of the coffee shop. Ten seconds later, after he had rounded the corner and could no longer be seen, Jimin turned to Yoongi with a determined expression.

 

“You heard?”

 

Yoongi, to his credit, did not waste Jimin’s time by feigning confusion. Instead, he slowly stepped forward and sat in Jungkook’s vacated chair to speak in a low, discreet tone. “Everything an agent hears is strictly confidential,” he recited in an authoritative tone. “We don’t discuss the affairs of our clients.”

 

Jimin raised an eyebrow at his words. “You’re dating my best friend,” he said in a low tone. “You don’t need to pretend like I’m just another client.” He sighed. “It’s a little insulting.”

 

Yoongi nervously ran a hand through his hair. It was one of the only times Jimin had seen him appear even remotely anxious, and it was somewhat unsettling. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I didn’t try to listen. Honest.”

 

“I know.” Jimin set down his empty cup, tracing the handle with low enthusiasm. “But you heard everything, right? About me and… Jungkook?”

 

Yoongi hesitated before nodding in confirmation.

 

“And you didn’t know any of it before?” Jimin asked. “I’m surprised Taehyung didn’t tell you.”

 

Yoongi appeared to bristle at the comment, taking it as an attack against Taehyung’s character. “Of course not,” Yoongi firmly corrected Jimin’s way of thinking. “Taehyung is very protective of you, even with your own security detail. He wouldn’t do anything like that to you.”

 

Jimin nodded through his heavy sigh. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

 

They sat in a long silence before Yoongi interrupted.

 

“So, you’re… gay,” he began slowly.

 

“Surprised?”

 

“No, that’s not the issue, it’s just…” Yoongi stilled, trying to find the right words to say. “There’s just… one thing you should probably know.”

 

“Oh?” Jimin raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

 

Yoongi fidgeted somewhat as he quietly cleared his throat. Jimin figured that by the way he was acting, this seemed to be the real reason he was so anxious after overhearing Jimin’s and Taehyung’s conversation. “I’m, uh… legally required to report to my superior if one of our agents on the team isn’t fulfilling their duties.”

 

Jimin listened with a blank expression, already knowing what was coming next. He had known what he was about to say ever since he had first seen Yoongi’s nervous look.

 

“I know that Jungkook has been spending time alone in your room during his shift,” Yoongi continued in a low voice. “But if I were, by chance, to find out that he’s neglecting his job to protect you in favor of pursuing… other activities,” Yoongi stated carefully, “I would be forced to tell someone.” He swallowed, glancing over at Jimin nervously. “Jimin, he would lose his job and be blacklisted at every agency in the country. It’s not fair of me – or anyone – to ask you, but – you just can’t have feelings for Jungkook.” Yoongi winced at the callous nature of his own words, but pressed on nonetheless. “I’m so sorry, but you can’t. Please, don’t put either one of us in a situation where we have to make that decision.” Yoongi looked saddened that he even had to ask. “Please.”

 

But Jimin slowly pulled his gaze from his coffee mug to look up at Yoongi with an emotionless expression.

 

“Then I suppose it’s a good thing that he doesn’t love me back, isn’t it?”

 

Chapter Text

The next few weekends continued in a similar fashion. Jungkook spent the majority of his mornings with Jimin dressed down in his casual attire, and then donned his suit in the afternoon for his usual shift. Yoongi sent them suspicious glances, slowly redirecting his gaze whenever Jimin caught him looking. Jimin wanted to roll his eyes at Yoongi for assuming that something would happen between them.

 

Of course there was nothing there.

 

Of course nothing would happen.

 

Of course nothing did happen.

 

Jimin’s heart clenched uncomfortably at the thought.

 

Nonetheless, Jimin managed to hide his pain, but the longer he did, the more it felt like someone was constantly prodding a wound without giving it time to heal. Each day, the wound grew deeper and deeper until Jimin was sure it would scar. Although Jimin was reluctant to admit that Taehyung had been right – he continued to relive the pain he felt at Jungkook’s rejection a month ago – Jimin had been right too.

 

It was worth it. Every second.

 

He loved those moments when Jungkook looked over and smiled at him, like it was a secret between just the two of them. Or the times when he leaned close to murmur something that he didn’t want anyone else to overhear. Those were the memories Jimin cherished – when it felt like he had a friend that wanted to be with him. Not with the President’s son, but with Jimin. Just Jimin. Jungkook wasn’t flaunting the fact that he was close to someone from a powerful family, or boasting about their friendship on social media. In fact, it was rare that they even left the privacy of Jimin’s dorm most days.

 

But it was that same kindness and friendship that made Jimin’s heart ache.

 

So, he suffered silently through the moments he loved so dear. He couldn’t have Jungkook – but he couldn’t leave him either.

 

For the most part, Jungkook seemed unfazed by Jimin’s inner turmoil. As far as Jimin knew, Jungkook was able to put their history behind them and simply move forward.

 

At least, until Taehyung got involved.

 

Jungkook had been hanging out in Jimin’s dorm room, as per usual, on Saturday morning when Jimin had received a text from his friend. They were in the middle of arguing over which one of them had the better taste in music when he read the short message.

 

Heading to lunch with some friends if you want to come.

 

It was Taehyung’s usual invite. Just like his regular invitations for him to eat with him and his other friends in the cafeteria, Taehyung knew that Jimin always declined spending time with anyone other than Taehyung – and, now, Jungkook. Nonetheless, Taehyung always gave him the option to go, even if he knew the answer before he even asked.

 

Jimin’s finger hovered over the buttons to delete the message, as he was always inclined to do, when a sudden surge of optimism rushed through him.

 

“Hey, Kookie?”

 

Jungkook sighed and rolled his eyes wearily at the new nickname he’d received. He had been weakly fighting it for quite some time now, but recognized a losing battle when he saw it. “Yeah?”

 

“Do you want to go out and get something to eat?” Jimin asked softly. “With Taehyung and some of his friends?”

 

Jungkook’s eyes rose in surprise. He quickly schooled his expression, appearing indifferent to the proposal. “Yeah, sure. I mean – that’s great. I didn’t realize you spent much time with Taehyung’s friends.”

 

Jimin shook his head, biting his lip nervously. “I don’t know them. I mean – Taehyung’s talked about them, but I’ve never actually met them…” He stared down at the glowing screen for a moment longer before shaking his head. “We better not,” he decided. “The agents have to pat them down and sweep the place and… I’ll just get in the way of their meal and make things weird.”

 

“That’s the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard.” Then, without so much as a warning, Jungkook snatched Jimin’s phone away and began typing rapidly. He sent a new message to Taehyung with a ding of success from his phone when his goal had been accomplished. Jimin let out a cry of outrage at the sound, scrambling to see what Jungkook had written.

 

Sounds good! Which restaurant are you eating at?

 

Jimin’s heart pounded.

 

“Jungkook,” he whispered, shaking his head. “This is a bad idea.”

 

“You’re being a dumbass,” Jungkook muttered firmly, grabbing Jimin by the arm and dragging him off of his bed where he had been lounging. “Get your shoes on and let’s go!”

 

Jimin deliberately walked slowly the entire way to their on-campus destination while Jungkook begrudgingly matched his speed. It wasn’t supposed to be a lengthy walk from his dorm, but Jimin dragged it out for as long as he could. When they arrived, Yoongi held Jimin back and remained by his side while a number of other agents swept the location. Through the window, he watched in embarrassment as the agents dressed in black approached Taehyung and his group of friends to check their ID’s in order to do a hasty background check before Jimin could even enter the restaurant.

 

Jimin dropped his chin to his chest and turned his back to the windows.

 

“This is humiliating,” he grumbled, shaking his head. “I feel like I have a babysitter with me everywhere I go.”

 

“Forgive me for trying to protect your sorry ass,” Yoongi retorted sarcastically in a low voice at Jimin’s side.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Jimin muttered. Jungkook snorted quietly at Jimin’s irritation. “So much for getting to know someone naturally.”

 

One of the men exited the restaurant and nodded once in Yoongi’s direction. Yoongi nodded back before turning to Jimin. “We’re all clear. You can go in.”

 

Jimin entered, head still lowered in mortification, until Taehyung stood up and excitedly called him to their table.

 

“Park Jimin!” he shrieked, waving his arms animatedly in the corner. He seemed to be over-the-moon that Jimin had surprised him and – for once – accepted his invitation to meet his group of friends. “It took you four fucking years! It’s about time you made it!”

 

Jimin smiled bashfully. His ears turned red at the unwanted attention he was receiving from the people at the surrounding tables, but he quickly moved forward.

 

“Hey,” he mumbled, smiling nervously at the others seated around the long table. “I’m, um… Park Jimin.”

 

There was a chorus of greetings as Jungkook also chimed in. “Jeon Jungkook – nice to meet all of you.”

 

Jimin didn’t miss the not-so-subtle stink eye Taehyung sent in Jungkook’s direction.

 

“Kim Namjoon,” a blonde boy nodded in their direction. “And this is Kim Seokjin,” he said, nudging his shoulder into the tall, slender boy beside him.

 

“I’m Jung Hoseok,” the other said with a broad smile. Jimin immediately warmed up to the friendly looking boy.

 

“Hi.” Jimin looked nervously over at Jungkook who gave him an encouraging smile. His stomach fluttered. “Do you mind if we join you?”

 

“No problem,” Hoseok answered for the table. “We just ordered drinks.”

 

Jimin nodded, sliding into a chair and swiftly picking up a menu to hide his face. He folded his body in on itself, hoping the others would gradually forget his presence so he could blend into the background. He never liked this meeting-new-people thing, even before it had become impossible with his security, and was now severely regretting following Jungkook’s decision in the first place.

 

“So, you’re all friends of Taehyung’s?” Jungkook asked as he sat in the chair next to Jimin. He slid a comforting hand along the back of Jimin’s chair as he seemingly took charge of the conversation in an effort to help reassure Jimin. “Are you in the same class as him?”

 

“Definitely not,” Namjoon snorted. “None of us can stomach that Philosophy stuff for more than a day.”

 

“I took one class pass-fail,” Seokjin elaborated, “and I nearly failed.”

 

Taehyung looked offended. “Just because you live without the ability to comprehend the greater meaning in life doesn’t mean we all need to be Neanderthals.”

 

“They’re right, though,” Hoseok countered with a smirk at his friend. “It takes a special person to be able to understand some of those concepts… and Tae, you are most definitely a special person.”

 

Taehyung spluttered indignantly. “I’m regretting even inviting you in the first place!” he suddenly shouted at Jimin. “You show up, and now they’re all trying to gang up on me!”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened, actually frightened for a moment that Taehyung had meant what he said, but the group’s laughter – Taehyung’s included – helped him realize the joke for what it had been. He smiled and set down his menu.

 

There was a pause for a moment while the laughter died down. Jimin felt his anxiety grow, looking to Jungkook as he frantically searched for a conversation starter before the situation could become awkward. To his immense relief, the man across from him – Hoseok – spoke up.

 

“So,” Hoseok stated in the silence, “you’re the President’s son, right? That’s kind-of…” Jimin waited with bated breath as he anticipated the end of his thought. “Um… weird?”

 

Jimin blinked at him in surprise. That hadn’t been what he was expecting. “I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone be so blunt about it before.”

 

Hoseok shrugged. “I’m a call-it-like-I-see-it kind-of guy. I figured it was the elephant in the room that someone should probably mention before you internally combust.”

 

Jimin laughed nervously. Clearly his apprehension was more noticeable than he had realized. “I guess,” he answered. “I, uh – I hope it wasn’t too weird with my security team, um… bothering you before I could come in.”

 

“Oh, not at all,” Seokjin answered with a reassuring smile. “I mean, they had to pat us down, which I guess I’ve never really experienced before. I suppose that part was maybe a little strange.”

 

“Too bad Yoongi wasn’t in here,” Taehyung commented with his eyebrows wiggling suggestively. “I wouldn’t have minded if he was the one to pat me down…”

 

Namjoon made a face. “Don’t be gross. You’re going to make me lose my appetite.”

 

Jimin quickly cut in to their conversation as the guilt of inconveniencing them rose in his chest. “I’m really sorry about that,” he apologized. “It’s just – you know, safety, I guess…”

 

“No need to explain,” Hoseok immediately cut him off. “Just because it was weird doesn’t mean we don’t get it.”

 

“Yeah. Apparently people think I’m important or something,” Jimin muttered, tugging nervously on the long sleeves of his shirt until he had pulled them down over his palms.

 

To his surprise, laughter rose around him. He hadn’t intended for his statement to be taken as a joke, but the rest of the group had.

 

“Yeah, or something,” Hoseok agreed with a wide smile. “Good one.”

 

Food was quickly ordered and brought to the table. As the conversation continued effortlessly, Jimin found it easy to relax around everyone. Between both Jungkook and Taehyung’s reassuring presence at the table, Jimin was slowly feeling more comfortable going into a crowded location and meeting Taehyung’s friends. He especially felt relaxed around Hoseok, growing attached to his gentle and playful nature almost immediately.

 

At one point, Jimin found himself sizing up these friends of Taehyung’s. Namjoon and Seokjin seemed to be sharing more than enough casual touches that pointed towards a relationship that had long since passed the friends stage. He wondered if perhaps they might have been a couple with the way they always seemed to anticipate the other’s needs. It made sense that Taehyung would have made other friends on campus that were also gay, didn’t it? At the realization, he immediately began to contemplate whether or not Hoseok also had the same sexual orientation as him as well.

 

For a fleeting moment, Jimin considered how his life could have been drastically different if he’d met Taehyung’s friends before this moment. He could very easily see himself becoming attracted to Hoseok, even after only knowing him for a short period of time. Had he met Hoseok before ever meeting Jungkook, would things have been different? Would he have lived a stress-free life and been able to have a relationship with someone who could actually love him in return?

 

Jimin resisted the urge to look over at Jungkook as he thought about just how much his presence had completely upended his life. He pushed the thoughts of “what if” from his head. It was no use dwelling on what could have been.

 

The group hurriedly finished their meals and exited the restaurant. “Movie!” Taehyung insisted as they left the building. “That new action film came out yesterday. We have to go!”

 

“The old theater downtown is playing it tonight,” Seokjin chimed in as he wrapped a scarf around his neck. He turned and did the exact same thing to Namjoon with the scarf hanging from his neck as he spoke. “Students get half-off.”

 

The group began to nod in agreement as Jimin made a face. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I probably shouldn’t.”

 

“What?” Hoseok was in the middle of tugging on his gloves when he turned to Jimin with a disappointed expression. “Come on, it’s Saturday. Homework can wait until tomorrow.”

 

“Well… yes,” Jimin agreed slowly. He was secretly pleased that Hoseok wanted to spend more time with him. “But I already promised Jungkook we would hang out.”

 

Hoseok glanced in Jungkook’s direction, almost as an afterthought. Jungkook had grown rather quiet as the meal progressed while Jimin had done the opposite, feeling more comfortable and stepping out of his shell. “He can come too,” Hoseok said without much hesitation. “It’ll be fun, right?”

 

Jimin glanced at Jungkook nervously. He stared back at Jimin with a guarded expression. He looked a lot like he did when he was on duty, with his stoic and intense gaze. “I don’t know,” Jimin muttered. He couldn’t gauge Jungkook’s interest level when he looked so serious. He decided Jungkook’s expression must mean he didn’t want to see a movie. “We had plans for later…”

 

“Can’t you change them?” Hoseok asked hopefully. “I mean – the theater is right there,” he said, pointing down the road at a tall building. “When are we all going to have time to be together, right? I bet next weekend one of us will be busy with one thing or another, and then we’ll never have the chance to – ”

 

“He said he’s busy, alright?”

 

Jimin blinked in surprise at Jungkook’s sudden outburst.

 

“He told you he had plans, and you need to respect his decision.” Jungkook took an intimidating step forward and glanced down at the shorter boy. “Now – back off.”

 

“Jungkook,” Jimin muttered with concern, tugging on the sleeve of his leather jacket to get his attention. “It’s ok.”

 

Hoseok backed away, looking very surprised by Jungkook’s sudden shift in attitude. He had been nothing but pleasant throughout their entire meal, but had somehow found a reason to take on his role as Jimin’s bodyguard when Jimin had least expected it – and definitely did not need it.

 

“Whoa,” Hoseok murmured nervously, gaze shifting back and forth anxiously between Jimin and Jungkook. “I was just trying to explain that – ”

 

“I know what you were doing,” Jungkook interrupted sharply. “He gave you an answer. Listen the first time.”

 

Jimin couldn’t understand what was happening. Jungkook was being completely irrational. Hoseok wasn’t a threat – so why was he treating him like he was?

 

“Yeah, sure.” Hoseok put his hands in his pockets and walked backwards, away from the pair. Taehyung watched with interest while Namjoon and Seokjin timidly followed Hoseok’s lead. “Look, man, I didn’t mean to bother you or anything. I just wanted to hang out – that’s all.”

 

Without hesitation, Jungkook’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Leave.”

 

Jungkook’s words seemed to have shaken him to the core. “Yep.” Hoseok nodded immediately, agreeing without complaint to Jungkook’s command. A tremor of fear shot through Hoseok before he quickly waved at Jimin and smiled tensely. “I guess I’ll, um… I’ll see you around, Jimin.”

 

“But, uh…” Jimin swallowed, feeling helpless as the group had already moved several yards away. “Yeah, alright. Bye.” Jimin waved weakly, standing in a shocked silence as Hoseok hurried down the street with the rest of his friends following closely at his retreating heels. Even Taehyung followed them, but not before arching a questioning brow at Jimin and sending him a small smirk of amusement at the bizarre exchange of words.

 

The moment they were out of earshot, Jimin instantly rounded on Jungkook and angrily shoved both hands into his chest.

 

“What the hell was that?”

 

Although his shove had done little to affect his balance, Jungkook, to Jimin’s astonishment, was actually surprised by his accusatory tone.

 

“What?” he responded with raised eyebrows. “I was doing you a favor!

 

“A favor?” Jimin echoed, stunned. He let out a dry laugh in disbelief of Jungkook’s words. “I’ve had one friend in the last four years at this school. I finally met some people that I like and I think they – maybe – even enjoy spending time with me – despite the whole being-the-President’s-son thing – and you think you’re doing me a favor by scaring them away? Yeah,” Jimin spat back. “That definitely sounds like you’re doing me a favor. Thanks a lot.”

 

Jungkook spluttered. “They were bothering you!” he tried to explain himself. “Especially that… Hoseok one.” Jungkook made a face at the name. “You told him no, but he kept pressuring you into something you didn’t want to do. I was just backing you up.”

 

“He wasn’t pressuring me into – Hoseok wasn’t – Jungkook, I told him we had other plans!” Jimin’s anger continued to make him stumble over his words. “It wasn’t like I was trying to avoid him! We did have other plans!”

 

Jungkook’s face grew red as his ire slowly rose to match Jimin’s. “You told him no. What was I supposed to do – let him keep pushing you around until you caved?”

 

“You were supposed to let me handle it on my own!” Jimin’s hands balled into fists as rage shook through his body. “Just because I’m required to have a security detail doesn’t mean I can’t handle myself. I’m not weak.”

 

“What? Who said you were weak?

 

“Do you need a replay of the last five minutes?”

 

Jungkook scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Really? Now you’re just putting words into my mouth.”

 

Jimin’s eyes narrowed, irritated by Jungkook’s dismissive response. “You didn’t have to say anything.”

 

Jungkook scowled. “What the hell, Jimin?” He stepped forward, trying to intimidate him with his tall stature, just like he had done to Hoseok. Jimin grit his teeth and remained steady, refusing to let Jungkook win this argument. “Are you seriously trying to – ”

 

An arm landed firmly on Jungkook’s chest with a solid thud.

 

Only this time, it wasn’t Jimin’s.

 

And it got Jungkook’s attention.

 

Jimin looked down at the hand in surprise as Jungkook was stopped directly in his path, unable to get any closer to Jimin. His eyes slowly followed the pale hand up the arm before landing on a stone-faced expression.

 

Yoongi.

 

His hand was steady, firmly keeping Jungkook at an arm’s length from Jimin. The agent tilted his head slightly to the side to speak to Jimin in a low voice, although his gaze never once wandered from Jungkook’s face as he practically dared the man to move under his watch. “Are you alright?”

 

Jimin’s heart raced, stunned at the sudden escalation of the situation. “Y-yes.”

 

Yoongi took in a deep breath and turned his full focus on Jungkook. “I need to ask you to back away, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook stared wordlessly back at Yoongi. His eyes darted to Jimin – to Yoongi – and back again before letting out a hollow laugh. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he murmured. “Are you actually serious right now?”

 

Yoongi attempted to speak to Jungkook in a voice soft enough that none of the surrounding agents could overhear their conversation. “You’re out of control,” he told him. “My job is to intervene whenever I deem it necessary for the protection of my asset. And at the moment,” Yoongi solemnly continued, “I think you need to step away.”

 

Jungkook sent a disbelieving look at Yoongi. “This is a joke, right?”

 

“Oh my God,” Jimin muttered to himself. He lifted a weary hand to his face, covering his eyes as he processed the twisted situation they were in. “This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. My life is a mess.”

 

Jungkook’s attention was caught by Jimin’s words. “What?” He finally seemed to realize just how much he had overstepped himself when it came to talking to Taehyung’s friends, and tried to dial back his rage. With a deep breath and a small step backwards, enough for Yoongi to feel like he could drop his hand from blocking Jungkook’s advances, Jungkook spoke again in a calmer voice. “Jimin – let’s just pretend this never happened. We can head back to your room and start from scratch. Ok?”


Jimin shook his head. His hand slid down from his eyes until his thumb dragged slowly across his lower lip. “No,” he finally whispered. “Yoongi’s right. You need to go.”

 

“What?” Jungkook’s expression fell. Hearing the command from Jimin seemed to be infinitely worse than hearing it from Yoongi. He moved to take an urgent step forward at this news, but a look from Yoongi was all it took to keep Jungkook from moving an inch. “Jimin – come on. Don’t be unreasonable. This is – it’s just a stupid argument.”

 

“No, it’s not,” Jimin told him in a tired voice. He sounded exhausted. “We just – Jungkook, how is this supposed to even work between us?”

 

Jungkook’s eyes were now wide and confused. “What?”

 

Jimin swallowed the lump in his throat. “You’re a great agent – and friend – but what am I supposed to do when I need to move on, but all I can do – all I can think about is – ”

 

His words ended abruptly. They both knew what he intended to say, despite his reluctance to verbalize any of it in front of the surrounding agents.

 

“Kookie,” he whispered, voice choking in the middle of the word. “I just can’t.”

 

Jungkook shook his head. Again, he tried to move forward and approach Jimin, this time out of sheer panic at what Jimin was trying to do, but Yoongi’s hand swiftly rose to keep Jungkook at bay.

 

“At least – not now,” Jimin continued. “I need time. If you want to be my friend, you have to give me at least that much.”

 

Jimin turned to walk away in the opposite direction before he could be persuaded to stay. He wasn’t sure he could turn away from Jungkook for a second time – not after witnessing the frightened look in his eyes when he left the first time.

 

Yoongi followed Jimin’s rapid pace, keeping a hand at his back. Jimin wasn’t sure whether it was there as a security measure to ensure that Jimin was continuing to move away from Jungkook, or as a means of comfort from his hyung. Either way, he didn’t seem to mind its presence.

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi apologized softly when they had put enough distance between them and a stunned Jungkook. “I didn’t want to intervene, but – ”

 

“No,” Jimin firmly cut off his apology. “You were just doing your job, right?”

 

Yoongi was quiet.

 

As they turned the corner, he cleared his throat. “Are you ok, Jimin?”

 

“I already said I’m fine,” Jimin snapped, feeling residual anger from his argument with Jungkook. “He didn’t touch me – and he never would have. He was just trying to look tough, so – yes, I’m fine.”

 

“I don’t mean physically,” Yoongi replied to him in a calm voice. “I mean… are you ok?”

 

Jimin swallowed and crossed both arms over his chest, blinking rapidly to keep the budding tears at bay.

 

“No,” he whispered, feeling heartbroken all over again. “I’m not.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Jimin had expected for Jungkook to take the next few shifts off and call in another agent to cover for him. He thought he wouldn’t see Jungkook for days after their disagreement. Even if Jungkook did come to his regular shifts, Jimin was sure he would find a way to keep his distance.

 

What he hadn’t expected was for Jungkook to show up at his dorm room an hour later.

 

Jimin had been unable to focus on much of anything in the last hour. After using up half of his box of tissues, he’d only paced anxiously around his room and debated whether or not to call Taehyung, even though he was likely sitting in a movie theater at that very moment. He was already anticipating the I-told-you-so from Taehyung, but he was more than willing to accept it if it meant he could talk to his friend.

 

The knock on his door broke Jimin from his thoughts. “Jimin?” Yoongi called through the door to get his attention. Jimin cracked the door open just enough for him to see what it was that his security team wanted. “I’m sorry to bother you,” Yoongi spoke softly. Jimin was relieved when Yoongi politely ignored his red rimmed eyes. “But… Jungkook is here.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened in shock.

 

It was almost as if Yoongi was able to read Jimin’s mind and knew exactly what he was thinking. “He says he just wants to talk,” Yoongi hastily explained before Jimin could panic and close the door. “And… I believe him. I think he took some time to calm down and…” Yoongi shrugged, seeming optimistic. “He looks like he feels pretty bad about arguing with you.”

 

“Oh.” Jimin bit his lip, nodding as the information soaked in. “Ok.”

 

“Do you… want to see him?” Yoongi asked. Jimin was beginning to think Yoongi was acting more like a protective older brother than a security agent at the moment. “If you would feel more comfortable with me in your room as well, I can come inside. Or, I can kick him out, if you’d rather he leave for the night.” He leveled a stare at Jimin, trying to communicate that he was on Jimin’s side despite Jungkook being a friend and coworker. “Just tell me what you need, Jimin. I’ll help however I can.”

 

Jimin sighed, appreciative for Yoongi’s offer to help. However, he supposed it would be better from everyone if he just got this awkward conversation over with now rather than later. “It’s alright. You can send him in.”

 

Yoongi held Jimin’s gaze a moment longer, perhaps trying to gauge whether or not he was speaking the truth, before eventually stepping away. “You can go in,” he spoke softly to a spot on his right.

 

Jungkook appeared in the doorway with a rather solemn expression. Before he could take a single step inside, Yoongi clapped a hand down on his shoulder, halting Jungkook in his tracks.

 

“You have your panic button, right?” Yoongi asked Jimin over his shoulder. Jimin put a hand over the small device he always held in his pocket and nodded. “Use it if you need me for any reason.”

 

Jimin managed a feeble smile. “Jungkook’s not going to attack me.”

 

Yoongi didn’t look convinced. “Any reason,” he repeated to Jimin with a raised eyebrow to convey his intent to assist in whatever capacity.

 

Jimin sighed and looked at Yoongi with a tired expression. “Hyung.” He wasn’t in the mood any longer for the overprotective agent act when all he wanted was for Jungkook to just say what he came to say and leave Jimin in peace.

 

Jungkook averted his gaze. “No, it’s – it’s ok. It’s fine.” He glanced over his shoulder at Yoongi. “I’ll stay on the opposite side of the room, hyung. I won’t go near him, ok?”

 

Jimin scoffed. “Just get in here,” he growled, tugging Jungkook forward by lapel of his jacket and slamming the door behind them. While Jungkook got his footing, Jimin moved several steps away and pulled down the sleeves of his oversized sweatshirt over his hands for added security as he prepared to face Jungkook. “What do you want?”

 

Jungkook swallowed, staring anxiously at any other spot but at Jimin. “I – I hated how we left things.” He shook his head, bringing his hands out of his pockets and running them through his hair. “I’m sorry, Jimin. Whatever I said – everything I did – I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to push Taehyung’s friends away or make you feel weak or – or – ” Jungkook’s mouth hung open as he tried to apologize for not taking Jimin’s feelings into account, but couldn’t find the words to say it. “All of it,” he ended weakly. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Yeah,” Jimin mumbled. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I mean – thanks. For the apology. But – it still doesn’t change anything.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes snapped to Jimin’s in alarm. “What?”

 

“It’s not what you said,” Jimin explained in a low voice. “That’s not why I told you to stay away, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook blinked, uncomprehending. “You… don’t want me here?”

 

The way he spoke, sounding so childlike and innocent in his confusion of the situation, made Jimin’s heart clench – even though it was likely Jungkook’s fault in the first place. It was his fault for going out of his way to become Jimin’s friend and making things more complicated than they ever should have been.

 

Jimin glanced over his shoulder at the closed door behind him before taking a deep breath and diving in head first.

“I love you, Jungkook.” Jimin closed his eyes at his confession, unable to stomach any sort of involuntary reaction from Jungkook as he spoke. “I kissed you, and you just… completely ignored my feelings. Then, you insisted that we become closer friends. It’s just – ” Jimin tilted his head back and threw his hands out to his side in a show of defeat. “How am I supposed to respond to that?”

 

There was a light shuffling of feet as Jungkook took a small step forward, as if wanting to console Jimin.

 

“It fucking sucks,” Jimin spit out, abruptly turning to look at the floor as tears welled up in his eyes. “I’m in this so deep that I can’t help but want to spend time with you, even if that means putting myself through the torture of seeing you every day and never being able to touch you. Do you – do you even get that?” he choked out as his tears made it more difficult for his words to be heard. “It hurts to even tell you to go away, because it’s taking everything I have not to beg you to stay.”

 

“Jimin – ”

 

“Stop,” Jimin whispered. He took a step back, holding both hands up to halt Jungkook’s movement. “Just – please, don’t. I can’t.”

 

Jungkook froze mid step.

 

“You… think this is easy for me?”

 

As Jimin gradually processed the words Jungkook had spoken aloud, he slowly lifted his head to meet his gaze. “What?”

 

“You think I’m not fighting anything, either?” Jungkook let out a hollow laugh. “You kiss me and expect me to know how to react when I’ve just assumed I was straight my entire life? Even if that wasn’t a problem, I’m stuck in a job where I could physically put you at risk if I pursue my feelings for you. In the end, the only thing I can do is act like I don’t care about you just so I can stay by your side anyway.” Jungkook swallowed audibly. “But now you’re telling me that I can’t?

 

Jimin’s eyes widened the longer he spoke. He couldn’t possibly be saying what Jimin thought he was saying… could he?

 

“You… what?

 

“You can’t make me stay away,” Jungkook whispered. “I won’t let you. But I can’t be with you – not like you want. I can’t.” He shook his head desperately. “You need to be safe, Jimin. You have to be safe.”

 

Jimin took a small step forward, feeling a shimmering glimpse of hope in his words. “I am safe,” he answered impulsively. “You’ve always kept me safe.”

 

Jungkook shook his head insistently. “No – I’ll put you in danger,” he insisted. “I can’t be the man you want me to be. Not while it’s my job to protect you, Jimin.”

 

“But I want you,” Jimin countered. “I can’t stand it anymore. The thought of not – of being unable to – ”

 

Jimin’s hand moved without thought. The jacket Jungkook was still wearing from the cold weather outside was opened at the front with a plain, white t-shirt beneath it. Jimin’s hand pressed delicately along the broad planes of Jungkook’s chest over the top of his thin t-shirt without his permission. His fingers shook with nervous anticipation as he felt Jungkook’s chest heave with shallow gasps of air.

 

“Jimin,” he pleaded. “We can’t.” His brows furrowed in agony. “We can’t.”

 

Jimin moved forward again, now allowing both hands to wander up and gently push the jacket off of Jungkook’s shoulders until it fell to the floor. “We can,” he answered simply, tilting his face up to watch Jungkook with wide eyes. “No one has to know.”

 

“We can’t,” he murmured again, more to himself than to Jimin at this point. It was like Jungkook was trying to remember all of the reasons why he needed stay away while his hands slowly betrayed himself. He unconsciously reached for Jimin’s face, one hand cradling his cheek while the other stroked down his long, slender neck. He brought Jimin closer despite his own words. Their breath had turned to soft gasps and pants as warm air spread across the other’s cheeks. “We can’t.”

 

“Please,” Jimin begged in a whisper. His fingers drifted down to the sides of his toned torso and knotted into Jungkook’s thin t-shirt in desperation, trying to keep him close. “Please.”

 

The solitary word broke Jungkook’s will power.

 

It was nothing like the first kiss. Jimin knew that much. Where the first kiss had been full of uncertainty and fear, this one was filled with heat and desire. The butterflies were still present in his stomach as they had been the first time, but now Jimin felt like they had been let loose throughout his entire body. His arms became weightless, moving aimlessly up Jungkook’s torso, while a flush of heat ran across his chest and neck. His insides twisted with pleasure as Jungkook moved his mouth with unyielding strength against his, slowly turning him around and pushing him backwards until he was pinned against his bedroom wall.

 

He had imagined scenes like this before – seen them many times on his favorite dramas – but had never thought anything so passionate could happen to him. Not with the life he led. Adrenaline thrummed through his body as Jungkook parted his lips, allowing his tongue to bravely touch Jimin’s. Despite his inexperience, Jimin responded in kind, eager and willing to follow Jungkook’s lead. He was only too happy to respond.

 

Jimin’s hands grasped fistful’s of Jungkook’s clothing, holding him tight against his front. He didn’t want any distance between them – not now that they both finally seemed to be on the same page at the same time.

 

“Jungkook,” Jimin exhaled between breaths. Fortunately, Jungkook didn’t let his need for air stop him. He mouthed along Jimin’s neck, tongue darting out to trace a small path to the hint of a collarbone that was peeking out of the front of Jimin’s sweatshirt. A shudder wracked Jimin’s entire body as Jungkook began sucking fiercely at the opening. “Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook made an unintelligible grunt, unable to pull his mouth away. He kept one hand placed on Jimin’s shoulder, bringing him forward for easy access, while the other moved to his waist, pressing his body firmly into the wall to keep him motionless.

 

Jimin’s head rolled back and thudded into the wall behind him at the unbearable pleasure he was experiencing. “Jungkook, kiss me.”

 

Jungkook followed his command, wasting no time in hurrying back up to press another firm kiss to his lips. This time, the hand that clung fiercely to Jimin’s hip – and quite possibly leaving behind a small bruise that Jimin knew he would admire come morning – changed direction. Rather than pressing Jimin into the wall, Jungkook pulled him forward. With a small groan, Jimin melted into his arms as Jungkook sensuously rolled their hips together, pressing his pelvis against Jimin’s. It was a small relief, but one that both of them desired.

 

And then, just like that – it was all over.

 

Jimin was motionless, propped against the wall with his hands hovering in midair in the very place that they had been previously located against Jungkook’s chest. He stared in surprise as he slowly came to and realized that Jungkook had abruptly pulled away and put an entire room’s distance between them.

 

“Jung… Jungkook?” Jimin whispered as his hands slowly fell to his side. He remained still, leaning against the wall for fear that his legs would not be able to hold him upright if he tried. “Is everything ok?”

 

Jungkook paced the opposite end of the room with a face that only described sheer panic, one hand over his mouth while the other ran through his hair.

 

“I’m – I’m sorry,” he apologized to Jimin. “That was wrong.”

 

“What?” Reality crashed down around Jimin. Suddenly, he felt more confident in the use of his legs when he realized what he could be at risk of losing. He pushed away from his bedroom wall to walk towards Jungkook. “Don’t apologize, Jungkook. It’s ok.”

 

“No – I’m sorry,” Jungkook insisted. “I shouldn’t – I can’t – I’m not – ”

 

Jungkook shook his head at every sentence he tried – and failed – to complete.

 

“Here – why don’t you come sit down?” Jimin insisted. He moved towards his bed and patted the corner of the mattress. “Let’s just talk for a minute, ok?” He swallowed as Jungkook continued to pace, seeming to not register Jimin’s words. “Jungkook?”

 

His name broke him out of his trance.

 

“I never should have come.”

 

“Jungkook?” Jimin watched, mouth agape, as Jungkook moved swiftly for his leather jacket, crumpled on the floor, and darted for the door. “No, wait – ”

 

Jungkook slammed the door closed behind him.

 

*

 

Jimin put a pillow over his head to mute the incessant pounding.

 

Jimin had barricaded himself in his room for most of the week. The problem with falling in love with your bodyguard – and then subsequently throwing yourself at him – is that not only is there no place to hide, but Jimin also had no one to talk to. Yoongi had already given him a not-so-subtle mandate that relationships amongst bodyguards and their protectee’s were not allowed, so he was out. Had he gone to his only friend for help solving the problem, he would have felt guilty forcing Taehyung to keep a secret from his boyfriend. If he even left his room after class for as much as a walk to clear his mind, he would have been forced to see Jungkook no more than two meters away from him at all times.

 

So, Jimin hid.

 

It wasn’t exactly the most mature response, but Jimin thought he deserved to act petulant once in a while, especially since he had been forced to grow up much too soon by his father’s career choice. He hadn’t reacted like this in the four years that he had been dragged through false tabloid articles, embarrassed by his security in public, and even shot at – he figured it was long overdue.

 

He’d had his heart broken. He’d never gotten so close to anyone like he had to Jungkook – not romantically, not ever. Just this once, he had thought that maybe he had been reading things wrong and that Jungkook actually did feel more for him than he had originally said. His actions certainly pointed in that direction. But after pushing Jimin away and literally running from his room, Jimin had been in such a state of shock that he refused to leave his room unless it was absolutely necessary.

 

Jimin had gone to and from his classes in the morning. all within the span of time that Yoongi was on duty so as to avoid contact with Jungkook. When he returned home, he either called for delivery or ate something leftover in his mini-fridge. All-in-all, he was able to do better at avoiding Jungkook than even he could have ever imagined.

 

The one person he couldn’t avoid, of course, was Taehyung.

 

His friend had been so thrilled that Jimin had broken tradition and joined him and his friends for lunch over the weekend that he had immediately asked Jimin to join them for lunch the following Monday. When Jimin turned him down, he didn’t press the issue. He continued to extend invitations to spend time together, hoping Jimin would change his mind, but when Jimin also refused to leave his room to see anyone in the evening, Taehyung started to grow suspicious.

 

Hence, the pounding.

 

“Jimin!” More thuds. “I know you’re in there! Your security makes for a really shitty game of hide-and-seek!”

 

Jimin closed his eyes, trying to imagine he was somewhere else.

 

Somewhere quiet and with one less bodyguard to worry about.

 

“Isn’t this a safety hazard or something?” Taehyung spoke in a softer voice. Jimin wondered if he must be conversing with the nearby security agents. “What if he’s hurt in there and you can’t get in because he locked the door?”

 

There was a muted response before Taehyung started up again.

 

“What the hell? Then give me the key! No – I don’t care that you’re not allowed to hand over your keys. Just do it already!” There was a pause before Jimin heard Taehyung’s voice carry through the door again. “Oh, thank God. Yoongi, get over here. Give me your keys.”

 

For a long moment, Jimin thinks that Yoongi has actually gotten his boyfriend under control – at least, right up until another one of Taehyung’s explosions.

 

Fine! Then I hope you like the couch, because you’re not sleeping anywhere near me tonight!”

 

Jimin groaned, succumbing to his fate. He wouldn’t be the reason for Taehyung’s irrational break-up with Yoongi, so he stood and shuffled to his door, slowly unlocking it.

 

Taehyung’s shouting stopped instantaneously as soon as he noticed the locks beginning to turn from within. When the door swung open, he spun away from Yoongi – who was dressed down in ripped black pants, a loose black shirt, a pair of converse shoes, and a white baseball cap for their evening date, Jimin assumes – and broke into a wide grin, as if he hadn’t been shouting at the top of his lungs just moments before.

 

“What do you need?” Jimin demanded of his friend.

 

Taehyung fiercely kept his smile on his lips, despite the worry that clouded his vision at Jimin’s words. “Just checking in on you,” he answered pleasantly. “I haven’t seen you in a while and I was worried.”


“I’m fine, Tae,” Jimin muttered. “I’ve just been busy. Can I go now?”

 

Taehyung put his foot in the doorway when Jimin made to close the door. “Wait – can I come in? It’ll only be a minute?”

 

Jimin sighed. He opened the door slightly, about to give in to Taehyung’s pleas, but he caught sight of Jungkook in his peripheral vision. He was standing off to the side, back stiff in his suit and tie as he silently listened in on their conversation.

 

Jimin froze at the reminder of his presence.

 

“Not tonight, Tae. Just – leave me alone. Please.”

 

Taehyung’s smile faltered. “What? But, Jimin – ”

 

Jimin hurriedly slammed the door in his best friend’s face. He swallowed his tears before they had a chance to build and turned to head back to his safe, comfortable bed, when he heard Taehyung’s muttered words through the door to Jungkook before departing.

 

“This is your fault – isn’t it?”

 

 

Chapter Text

In the weeks leading up to Jimin’s finals, he found that the burden of studying was an odd sort of relief. His mind was kept busy and focused on other tasks, making it somewhat impossible for him to dwell on the thought of a certain security agent. Finals week had also kept Taehyung at a distance, since he, too, was busy preparing for his exams.

 

Jimin never quite told Taehyung what had happened between him and Jungkook. He thought that Taehyung might have already had an idea and that was the reason why he never pressed Jimin for any details. For that, Jimin was grateful.

 

It took several weeks, but on the eve of his last final, Taehyung had finally managed to convince Jimin to do more than hide in the library and his bedroom. Soon enough, Jimin reasoned, he would be graduating and, therefore, have less of a reason to hide from Jungkook for hours on end. He would have to get used to seeing him now and again, wouldn’t he?

 

Without giving his agents any warning that evening, Jimin silently stepped out of his dorm, adamantly ignoring Jungkook’s presence at his door, and began walking down the hallway. He caught the shifty glances from one agent to the next, each one questioning his movement, but they each masked their confused expressions and obediently followed.

 

For nearly ten minutes, Jimin walked with purpose around campus until he arrived at a local restaurant. When he stopped, he caught Jungkook’s movement out of the corner of his eye for the first time. He stood at attention over Jimin’s shoulder as the surrounding agents checked the perimeter and gave the all clear for Jimin to enter.

 

Jimin walked to the back of the room, putting on a smile when he recognized Taehyung and his friends.

 

“Finally!” Taehyung called out, standing to embrace his friend in a tight hug. “It’s about damn time you left that room,” he muttered into Jimin’s ear as he gave him a friendly slap on the back. “Come on – we were just trying to figure out how we wanted to celebrate.”

 

Jimin sat amongst friendly greetings, nodding at the familiar faces.

 

“Nice to see you again,” Hoseok said with a warm smile. He glanced nervously up at Jungkook, who was maintaining his rigid posture directly behind Jimin. “I thought we might have scared you away last time.”

 

“Oh – no, nothing like that,” Jimin answered with red cheeks. The truth was far more embarrassing. “I’ve been busy studying.”

 

“Same,” Hoseok added with a nod. “Thank God it’s finally over, right?”

 

Jimin smiled in agreement. “Graduation ceremony, and then we’re done.”

 

Hoseok picked up his beer to take a sip. “Too bad we never met until now.”

 

Jimin smiled happily at the compliment behind his own glass.

 

He and Hoseok seemed to get along fairly well with one another. He lightened the atmosphere with a well-timed joke, always making Jimin smile. The best part, Jimin realized, was that he didn’t feel like he had to force any of his smiles. He had spent the better part of his last few weeks on campus feeling like he was forcing himself to feign happiness with anyone he met, but Hoseok made it feel so effortless and easy.

 

By the end of their meal, Taehyung was leaping into discussions of what they should do to continue their graduation celebrations.

 

“A new bar opened up a few blocks down the road,” Taehyung said, pointing towards the door. “I have to at least visit it once before we all leave for good.”

 

Yes,” Namjoon enthusiastically replied. “My roommate went last week – he said its top notch.”

 

Jimin bit his lip nervously as Seokjin nodded in agreement. “Let’s go there first, and then we can stop by the club downtown to go dancing?”

 

“That sounds fun,” Jimin said with his first false smile of the evening. “But, you know, I think I’m a little tired. I’ll probably head back early.”

 

Taehyung glanced across the table at Jimin, face falling minutely as he realized the translation of Jimin’s words. It’s too crowded to go to a club. It’s not safe for me.

 

“Are you sure?” Taehyung asked hopefully. “You could come to the bar. Just this one time?” He shrugged hopefully. “Maybe it’s not very crowded this early in the evening?”

 

“It’s a brand new bar. It’s going to be crowded,” Jimin said with a kind smile. He didn’t want Taehyung to feel guilty for having fun when he wasn’t able to. “It’s ok. I’ll see you in the morning?”

 

The group bid their goodbyes as Jimin moved towards the door with his security detail in tow. He had only just made it to the nearest lamp post when the sound of shoes slapping against the pavement caught him – and his security team – by surprise.

 

He tried to turn around to see who was running, but Jungkook appeared to have reacted well before Jimin could even try to. With fast reflexes, Jungkook gripped both of Jimin’s arms and very nearly threw him into the nearest alcove. It turned out to be nothing more than a small, brick entryway for a local shop, but it was just enough cover for Jungkook to push Jimin up against the wall and hide him from the mysterious footsteps.

 

In any other circumstance, Jimin would have felt mortified to be in such a close proximity to Jungkook after their last encounter. But in this moment, with another terrifying situation closing in on him, he felt nothing but pure relief to have Jungkook beside him, protecting him. He felt his breath instantly pick up speed, having flashbacks of the last time Jungkook had thrown Jimin to the ground and protected his body from the flying bullets. He didn’t hear any bullets this time – nothing but running feet – but it was all it took to send Jimin’s imagination racing. Already, he was reliving the sound of shattering glass – the smell of blood – Jungkook’s warm body engulfing his –

 

Jungkook was there again, shielding Jimin’s body with his own as he pressed Jimin against the tiny wall. There were a series of shouts from the other agents for the unknown intruder to halt in his tracks. Jimin found it harder and harder to breathe as the situation escalated. He thought it was done. He had been told that threat was eliminated – had they been wrong?

 

Jimin instinctively turned his head towards Jungkook’s chest, seeking out safety and comfort as he pressed his face into his suit while his fingers clung to the jacket’s lapels. Jungkook responded in kind, stepping even closer and putting both hands on Jimin’s waist to steady him – to keep him safe.

 

And then he heard the unknown intruder speak.

 

“Whoa – sorry, guys. I didn’t mean to scare anyone. I was just trying to catch up to Jimin – honest! I’m not trying to hurt him!”

 

While Jimin’s heart still thumped twice as fast as was normal, he slowly came to, realizing just who had been chasing after him.

 

“Hoseok?” Jimin murmured in confusion. He looked up into Jungkook’s face, as if waiting for him to confirm his suspicion.

 

Jungkook’s annoyed expression as he glanced around the wall seemed to be all the confirmation he needed.


“Yeah,” Jungkook grumbled irritably. “It looks like it’s a false alarm.”

 

Jimin swiftly recognized where he was and what he was doing. In a life-or-death moment, he had clung desperately to Jungkook. But now that he realized that it was hardly a dangerous situation, his embarrassment had returned tenfold. Jungkook took a small step away from Jimin, forcing him to release his death grip on Jungkook’s clothing. Jimin swallowed dryly as he stretched out his fingers, feeling the blood gradually return to his hand. Once Jungkook had put enough distance between them, Jimin tentatively peered out from behind the wall.

 

“Hoseok?” he called out his name. Hoseok simply looked petrified – both hands straight up in the air – as a number of flashlights were shown in his direction. He turned to Jimin with wide eyes, practically begging for him to intervene and do something. “Guys, stop, he’s a friend. Not an assassin.” One-by-one, his team returned to their usual locations, fanning out as they had been before. Hoseok exhaled audibly. “I’m sorry,” Jimin apologized. “I guess they’re still a little jumpy after… you know.”

 

Jimin tried to slow his racing heart as he silently admitted that he was just as jumpy as the rest of his security team.

 

“Oh, uh – yeah,” Hoseok agreed. He looked around at the other agents. “That… definitely makes sense. Sorry I scared everyone.”

 

Jimin waved his hands, as if telling him he didn’t need to apologize, but instead, he stepped closer and asked, “Did I leave something at the restaurant?”

 

Hoseok laughed feebly at Jimin’s question. He paused to catch his breath before shaking his head. “No – I, um… thought I might come with you.”

 

There was a sudden movement beside Jimin as Jungkook abruptly stepped forward. Hoseok, having remembered his last confrontation with Jungkook, took an impulsive step backwards, frightened by his imposing posture. However, once he put on a timid smile and Jungkook made no move to continue, he carefully stepped forward and returned to his original place in front of Jimin. “I’m not really in the mood for going out with the other guys,” Hoseok said. “I was kind-of hoping you might be ok with getting a bottle of soju and hanging out in the dorms? Maybe watch a movie or something?”

 

For a moment, Jimin thought he saw Jungkook’s head turn towards Jimin, as if waiting for his answer with anticipation. Of course, Jimin remembered the last time he had watched a movie in his room. He had been with Jungkook.

 

And there had certainly been kissing involved.

 

Was Jungkook making the same connections as Jimin? Was he thinking about what Jimin thought he was thinking about?

 

“Um…” He bit his lip, looking at Jungkook nervously out of the corner of his eye. “Yeah. That sounds great.”

 

There was a low voice beside Jimin that sent shivers down his spine. “I thought you were tired?”

 

Jungkook had finally spoken up. Jimin had been wondering when he would finally speak to him.

 

“I was,” Jimin explained with false bravado. He couldn’t let Jungkook think that he was still hung up over him. “But now I’m not.” He turned a wide smile on Hoseok. “Come on – let’s grab some drinks.”

 

The nearest convenience store was only a block away. Hoseok had volunteered to go inside, moving directly towards the wall of alcohol, when Jungkook suddenly stepped into Jimin’s line of sight with an intense gaze.

 

“Don’t tell me you’re serious about this,” Jungkook whispered in a hushed voice. “You’re actually inviting him back to your dorm?”

 

Jimin blinked, maintaining an expressionless façade. “What’s wrong with that?”

 

“Do you even know him?” Jungkook hissed. “You’ve met this guy twice. Who’s to say he’s not going to pull a knife on you the second you’re alone?”

 

“A knife?” Jimin echoed with a faint smile of amusement. “Come on – you’re acting like you didn’t run a complete background check on him and the rest of Taehyung’s friends after I met them weeks ago.” He raised a challenging eyebrow at the insinuation and was pleased when Jungkook could say nothing to disagree with him. “Did you find anything on him that even hinted that he could possibly be a danger in any way?”

 

“One second, he could be friendly, but the next he could turn on you,” Jungkook supplied. “People change when you least expect it, Jimin.”

 

Jimin laughed hollowly at that comment.

 

“I know that people change, Jungkook,” he murmured in a low tone. “You taught me all about that.”

 

Jungkook looked as if he had been visibly slapped. He opened his mouth to respond, but all that came out was a soft, pleading, “Jimin.”

 

“Just leave me alone,” Jimin snapped. “Do your job and stay out of my personal life. It’s none of your business anymore.”

 

Hoseok saved Jimin from trying to fend off Jungkook’s argument for much longer. He emerged from the store with a plastic bag and a number of bottles clinking together as he walked. Within minutes, they had made it back to Jimin’s dorm.

 

“Right here,” Jimin said. “This is me.” He fished around for his key, unlocking the door and gesturing for Hoseok to enter. Hoseok walked into the room, humming at the new surroundings. For a moment Jungkook looked as if he was about to follow them inside with the pretense of standing guard inside of his room, but Jimin immediately rounded on him.

 

“I don’t need your help.”

 

And slammed the door on Jungkook’s wide-eyed expression.

 

All-in-all, Jimin enjoyed his quiet evening in with Hoseok. While they hadn’t curled up under the blankets as Jimin had with Jungkook when they last watched a movie, they still lounged across his bed to watch an American film with subtitles. Each of them had completed their own bottle of soju and Jimin was feeling the heat rushing up to his rosy cheeks. The alcohol made him feel calm and relaxed, but, Jimin quickly realized, it also made him become incredibly chatty.

 

“I’m cute, right? Like… you would date me, wouldn’t you?”

 

Hoseok tore his eyes away from the computer screen to look at Jimin in confusion. Unlike Jimin, he had been fully absorbed in their movie. “What?”

 

“I mean… hypothetically, let’s say I made out with someone.”

 

Hoseok’s face morphed into one of stifled amusement. “You made out with someone?”

 

“I said ‘hypothetically,’” Jimin immediately corrected him. “So… let’s say I did. And let’s say that the person that made out with me just… ran away afterwards.” He sat up and crossed his legs, looking down at Hoseok who was still lying flat on his belly with one hand supporting his head and the other clutching his bottle by the neck. “Why do you think someone would have done that?” As Hoseok’s expression turned to one of confusion, Jimin pressed on. “Seriously – I mean – is there something wrong with me? Am I undesirable?”

 

Undesirable?” Hoseok muttered in astonishment. “What the hell? Who said you were – ”

 

Hoseok stopped mid rant. He slowly pulled himself up onto his knees before allowing a grin to spread across his lips.

 

Daebak,” he breathed with a smirk. “It’s that guy, isn’t it?”

 

Jimin blinked, wondering just what he had said to make Hoseok jump to such conclusions so quickly. “What?”

 

“That agent that keeps trying to kill me with his eyes!” Hoseok explained with overzealous hand gestures. “He nearly attacked me for inviting you to the movies the last time we met, right? And tonight, I’m pretty sure he was using our walk home to think of all of the different ways he could kill me in less than thirty seconds.”

 

“Jungkook?” Jimin asked, pretending that he had no idea what Hoseok was talking about. Perhaps if he played dumb for just long enough, Hoseok would think that he was mistaken.

 

“With the way the two of you have been circling around each other all night – you guys have some serious baggage just waiting to be unpacked,” Hoseok remarked. “Everything that happened between the two of you right down to the door you slammed in his face earlier just reeks of unresolved sexual tension.”

 

Jimin blinked at his words. “What are you talking about?”

 

Hoseok rolled his eyes. “I know I’ve only known you for, like… a few weeks – if that,” he answered, “but it’s obvious to anyone who has eyes. That guy has got it bad for you,” he said, taking a swig of his bottle. He made a face and exhaled at the taste, but continued on. “To be honest, I have no idea what you’re talking about when you ask whether you’re desirable or not, because that guy is insanely jealous that I’m even in here right now – and he’s not.”

 

That seemed to be the sentence that broke Jimin’s willpower to feign ignorance. “Really?” he asked. “You think he’s jealous?”

 

“For sure.” Hoseok snorted at the obviousness of the idea. “He hates me because he thinks I’m about to replace him. Apparently we get along too well for his taste.”

 

“But we’re just friends,” Jimin mumbled, as if in a daze as he let his words sink in.

 

“Right – you and I know that,” Hoseok continued, “but I would bet my entire savings – which, granted, isn’t much at the moment – that he thinks I’m trying to put the moves on you as we speak. Why else does he keep trying to get me to stay away from you?”

 

“Because… he wants to run a better background check?” Even to Jimin’s ears, the excuse sounded feeble. Had Jungkook actually been intervening because he was… jealous? Wasn’t it just in his nature as a bodyguard that he was trying to distance Jimin from a potential threat?

 

“Yeah, ok,” Hoseok answered sarcastically. “Whatever helps you sleep at night…”

 

Jimin swallowed. “But… he turned me down,” he mumbled. The alcohol in his system made his words spew forth without a filter – and without fear that he had outted himself to, for all intents and purposes, a complete stranger. “He told me he couldn’t… He kissed me, and then said that it was wrong – that we shouldn’t have done that.”

 

Hoseok mused over the thought. “That sounds like a guy with some deeper issues, if you ask me. I doubt he was turning you down personally. I bet there are other reasons at play.”

 

So Jungkook still liked him… despite turning him down?

 

“I think I have a headache.”

 

Hoseok snorted. “Yeah, I bet you do.”

 

Jimin sighed, tossing back his bottle again.

 

*

 

Whether Hoseok was right or not, Jimin wasn’t able to determine that for days.  After their spontaneous heart-to-heart under the influence of alcohol, Jimin and Hoseok had become close friends. Taehyung was beyond thrilled when he saw Jimin spending time with someone other than himself – and, quite possibly, was equally as relieved that he wasn’t spending his free time with Jungkook. While Jimin had never outright told Taehyung what transpired between him and Jungkook, it didn’t take a genius to recognize the tension between them. Taehyung still had plausible deniability regarding their situation so he wasn’t lying to Yoongi, but it was clear that Jungkook had lost favor with Taehyung nonetheless. Although Taehyung had stopped sending Jungkook the evil eye every time he was near, Jimin knew he was still one of his least favorite people in the world.

 

The night before their graduation, Jimin had invited both Hoseok and Taehyung to his dorm to celebrate. Seokjin and Namjoon had tagged along, making the room a bit crowded, but no one seemed to mind the close quarters.

 

More than once, Taehyung glanced at the clock on his phone, checking the time. Every time he caught Jimin watching him, Taehyung immediately threw himself into another conversation. Jimin knew better. It was the night before graduation – of course there was a big bash somewhere on campus that every senior would be invited to. While Taehyung was a devoted friend, as he proved time and again by pretending he hadn’t been checking the clock, Jimin knew how much Taehyung wished to go out for a final send-off to their four years in university.

 

Jimin took it upon himself to relieve Taehyung of his burden.

 

“I’m tired,” Jimin finally announced to the group. He pulled on the sweatshirt he typically wore to bed in his chilly dorm room and relocated his panic button into the large pocket at the front. “I think I have to kick everyone out so I can go to bed.”

 

“Party pooper,” Seokjin muttered teasingly. He stood and extended a hand out to Namjoon to help him up, off the floor. “It’s our last night before graduation! You can’t stay up to celebrate with us?”

 

“I think my parents are coming to campus early before the ceremony,” Jimin explained apologetically. “I can’t exactly show up hung over when I’m supposed to meet the president and his usual press groupies.”

 

Namjoon snorted before slapping Jimin on the back. “You know, sometimes I forget your parents are kind-of famous.”

 

“Oh, really? Silly me, I thought the dozen security guards constantly hovering outside my bedroom door gave it away.” Jimin joked.

 

Taehyung rolled his eyes. “Tone down the sarcasm,” he muttered. Then he swooped in and gave Jimin a big hug. “Unlike you, even if I am hung over in the morning and running on two hours of sleep, I’ll still meet you and your parents after the ceremony, deal?”

 

“Deal,” Jimin grinned. “Now go find Yoongi and enjoy your night out.”

 

Taehyung sighed. “I wish,” he groaned. “Yoongi was all boyfriend-y and asked for the day off tomorrow so he could come to my graduation.”

 

Jimin snickered at his words. “And that’s… a bad thing?”

 

“It is when it means he’s on the night shift tonight!” Taehyung pouty expression refused to vanish, even after his other friends laughed at his ridiculous complaint. “Sometimes I hate how thoughtful he can be.”

 

“Yeah, what a shame,” Seokjin mock-sympathized. He turned to Namjoon and arched an eyebrow. “A boyfriend that’s thoughtful. How terrible.”

 

“What’s that look for?” Namjoon countered with a slightly panicky expression. “I’m thoughtful! I’m always thoughtful!”

 

“And that’s our cue to go,” Hoseok announced, ushering everyone towards the door.

 

As Jimin stood at the door, waving to each person on their way out, Hoseok walked past him with wide eyes, as if trying to send a hidden message.

 

Then he threw his arms around Jimin’s neck and held him close.

 

“Just go with it,” Hoseok whispered into Jimin’s ear when he showed signs of confusion. “You’ll thank me later.”

 

Before Jimin could raise his hands to return the hug, Hoseok pulled away and smiled widely.

 

“I’ll miss you tonight,” he said. “If you change your mind and want to join us – call me.”

 

Jimin tried to keep a poker face when Hoseok leaned back in to kiss his cheek, but knew he must have looked startled by the action. He schooled his expression once Hoseok put another charming smile on his face.

 

“Sweet dreams, Jimin.”

 

Jimin blinked at the strange encounter. He slowly closed his door, trying to make sense of Hoseok’s farewell. Jimin would thank him later? He couldn’t, for the life of him, figure out just what he meant.

 

At least, not until there was an unexpected knock at the door.

 

Jimin hadn’t even had a chance to release the handle after he’d closed it. He swiftly opened the door once again. “Did you forget – ”

 

Jimin stopped midsentence as he stared at the new visitor.

 

“Jungkook.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Jungkook.”

 

Jimin gasped, stunned by his presence. Of course Jungkook had been at Jimin’s side every night as a hired bodyguard, but they both stubbornly refused to acknowledge the other’s presence unless it was absolutely necessary for Jimin’s safety. Jimin had truly done everything in his power to avoid any form of communication with Jungkook for weeks. Even when he had been forced to speak to Jungkook – as he had the evening after his finals – he’d kept their conversations short and curt so as to avoid falling into the rabbit hole all over again.

 

But now, when Jungkook stood on the other side of his door – unexpected and uninvited – Jimin was suddenly caught off guard. He wasn’t even supposed to be on duty – Yoongi was. He felt unprepared to handle this situation. Immediately, his defenses came crashing down around him as he got swept up in the mere presence of Jungkook on his doorstep. If anything, his refusal to focus on Jungkook for several weeks had only made the sight of him dressed in his usual suit and tie that much more refreshing to drink in after such an extended absence.

 

Out of habit, Jimin nervously pulled his hands inside the sleeves of his sweatshirt.

 

“I thought you were supposed to be off duty over an hour ago?” he asked in an embarrassingly breathy voice. “What are you still doing here?”

 

Jungkook’s expression hardened. “Do your parents know?”

 

Jimin reigned in his emotions, trying to make sense of his words. “Know what?”

 

“About your relationship with Hoseok.”

 

Ah.

 

The puzzle pieces snapped into place.

 

So this was what Hoseok meant by, “You’ll thank me later.”

 

Jimin exhaled, slowly realizing what was going on. “Is that why you stuck around? Because Hoseok was still here?” Jimin asked with a hint of sarcasm. It had been nearly a month since they had kissed, and Jungkook had run away from him, refusing to talk about what had transpired between them.

 

This time, Jimin was reluctant to let him off easy.

 

He opened his door a bit wider, eyeing Jungkook. “Did you actually want to talk to me, now?” he asked. “Or would you rather run away again?”

 

Jungkook clenched his jaw, making the muscles in his cheekbones flex at the movement. He stared stubbornly at a fixed point above Jimin’s head, as if trying to work out whether or not to take the bait.

 

Until, finally – he did.

 

Jungkook stepped into the room and slammed the door closed behind him.

 

“They shouldn’t be left in the dark,” Jungkook reprimanded him. “They should know that you’re dating someone. I mean – who knows – someone else could find out. It could be all over the news within the hour.”

 

Jimin took his words in stride, exhaling slowly as he moved towards the bed. “My parents know that I’m gay,” Jimin quietly explained as he sat on the corner of his mattress.

 

The news caught Jungkook off guard. “Well.” He put both hands on his hips as he slowly absorbed this information with a nod. “Good. But they should still know that you’re seeing someone, right? Maybe they need to run a more thorough check on this Hoseok guy before you take things any further?”

 

Jimin arched a challenging eyebrow. “I thought that was supposed to be your job.”

 

Jungkook swallowed, avoiding eye contact. “Yeah. Sure. But – well, I mean…”

 

Jimin sighed, finally taking pity on Jungkook. “I’m not dating Hoseok, ok? I don’t have any feelings for him.”

 

Jungkook scoffed is disbelief. “Well, clearly he has feelings for you! You saw what he did – he kissed you before he left!” He shook his head, as if acting like he was being put into the unfortunate position where he was forced to tell Jimin the truth. “I’m sorry, but he definitely feels something for you. You should keep your distance from him.”

 

“He did that on purpose to get a rise out of you,” Jimin calmly explained. He leaned both of his hands back on the bed to support his weight while he crossed his legs, one over the other, and tilted his head to the side with an inquisitive expression. “The real question you should be asking yourself is why it worked so well.”

 

Jungkook stared at Jimin in silence. When he didn’t immediately respond, Jimin launched into an explanation of his own.

 

“The way I see it – I kissed you first, and then you told me you wanted to be friends. Now, normally,” Jimin continued, “this is the point where you would keep your distance from me, since you are fully aware that I have a crush on you, right? But that’s not what happened.” Jimin leaned forward as the intensity of his voice increased. “You decided you actually wanted to be friends, so you went out of your way to see me during your off hours. Then you kissed me – but you ran away and ignored me as soon as things got heated!”

 

Jungkook shrunk away from Jimin at the verbal lashing. His rigid frame seemed to be curling in on itself, as if he was trying to subconsciously use his body as a shield. It was a far cry from his usually confident, upright posture.

 

“I know you have feelings for me,” Jimin argued, “but you keep pushing me away.” Jimin swallowed down the huff of frustration he felt as he unloaded all of his grievances off of his chest. “Now you’re going to try and tell me who I can and can’t date when, so far, you’ve shown the romantic capacities of a thirteen-year-old boy? I may be inexperienced,” he continued, “but even I have more common sense than that.” Jimin narrowed his gaze in challenge. “So, what gives you the right?”

 

For a moment, Jimin thought that Jungkook would refuse to acknowledge the situation they were in. He thought he would play off everything Jimin said as inaccurate and insist that Jimin had interpreted everything incorrectly.

 

But the absolute last thing Jimin expected was for Jungkook to tell the truth.

 

Jungkook clenched his hands into fists, searching for a small source of strength, before quietly sputtering, “I’m – I’m scared shitless.”

 

Jimin blinked.

 

Well. That was a surprise.

 

Jimin’s anger washed away in an instant. He looked up at Jungkook’s nervous expression, suddenly feeling apologetic for everything he had said. “What?”

 

Jungkook put a hand to his head, running it nervously through his hair. “I said I’m – ” he swallowed, looking around the room as if he thought someone would overhear their conversation “ – I’m scared.” He shook his head, looking ashamed that he was even saying any of it at all. “Someone tried to kill you on my watch, Jimin. It’s my responsibility to make sure that you come home alive every day. Then, after what we went through, it all just – all that stuff just happened between you and me and I had no time to really sort through anything. It’s bad enough to have feelings for my protectee, let alone for a member of the president’s family, and even then, you’re a, uh…” Jungkook sighed in frustration. He wearily rubbed his hand over his eyes as he tried to come up with his next words. Abruptly, Jungkook brought his hand down and suddenly gestured firmly in Jimin’s direction. “I mean – I’m not gay, Jimin.”

 

“You’re not…” Jimin frowned, trying to comprehend just what he was saying. “…Ok?”

 

“I mean – I haven’t been before. Not – you know – ” Jungkook moved his hands rapidly back and forth in the hopes of explaining just what he meant through his actions “ – with other men.”

 

“So… you’re bi?” Jimin supplied.

 

Jungkook shook his head, finding it hard to even fully understand himself. “I don’t know,” he grumbled. “Up until this point, I’ve never had feelings for men. It’s only ever been women…” he weakly pointed in Jimin’s direction, “… and you.”

 

Jimin felt a small flutter in his chest. “Ok, so… you’re just Jimin-sexual?”

 

After a quick look in Jimin’s direction, noticing his tiny smile, Jungkook finally relaxed enough to chuckle softly at the words that managed to lighten the tension in the room. He nodded his head, seeming to agree more with this label than with any of the others. “Yeah. Something like that.”

 

Jimin waited a beat before sighing. He climbed off of his bed and crossed the room. “Look,” he murmured, “I don’t care what you call yourself. You can be gay or bi or anything in between. I just…” Jimin moved close enough until he could reach out and touch Jungkook. He slowly stretched his hand forward, relieved when Jungkook didn’t recoil from the fingers he was wrapping gently around Jungkook’s wrist. “I just want to be with you,” Jimin whispered, glancing up to lock onto Jungkook’s wide-eyed expression. “I want to spend time with you and talk with you and hold you and kiss you and touch you – ” Jimin paused to take a breath “ – and if you don’t want that, fine, tell me now. But if that is ok with you… then I really hope you want it, too.”

 

Jimin swallowed before finally delivering his ultimatum. “But if you don’t want that, then you have to give me space.” He gave him a sad smile. “You can’t say that you don’t want to be with me, and then try to control my personal life. Not again.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes searched nervously, back and forth between Jimin’s. “But what if this – what you and I have – is a mistake?” he whispered, afraid to speak too loud for fear of shattering the bubble they were in. “What if we try this and it puts your life in jeopardy?” he asked. “I do want to be with you. I want to spend time with you and kiss you – and all of those other things you said. I want that.” He finally took the initiative and responded to Jimin’s touch by flipping his hands around to grip Jimin’s fingers in his and pull him closer. “But I can’t risk your life. I won’t do it.”

 

Jimin’s heart thudded even louder at his words.

 

“Then…” Jimin stopped to exhale. “We wait.”

 

Jungkook’s grip on Jimin’s hand tightened.

 

“It would be better this way,” Jimin insisted, regaining the full use of his voice as he swallowed down his tears. “My father – he only has one more year in office. Well,” he amended quickly, “one more if he isn’t re-elected. But still – ” he brushed past this rather significant detail “ – I can wait for you. I’ll wait if you just tell me to.” Jimin’s eyes grew worried. He didn’t want to wait – he wanted to be with Jungkook now. But if waiting meant Jungkook could stay right where he was, safely standing guard at Jimin’s side, he would do it. “Please. Ask me to wait for you, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook took a step forward, tenderly caressing Jimin’s cheek with the back of his hand. “But I don’t want to wait anymore,” he murmured. “I’m done with waiting.”

 

Jimin very nearly collapsed into a puddle on the floor at the relief that Jungkook’s words brought to him.

 

“We could… make our own rules?” Jungkook tentatively suggested. “Like… only professional contact while I’m on my shift.”

 

Jimin found it much too easy to jump onto this idea, despite the guilt writhing in his stomach. “Right,” he agreed instantaneously. He removed his hands from Jungkook’s and placed both of them over the lapels of his suit jacket, gently smoothing the fabric out. “And – I won’t tell anyone about it. Not Yoongi. Not even Taehyung.”

 

Jungkook frowned. “Taehyung is your best friend,” he replied softly as his fingers reached up to link with the one Jimin had resting on his chest. “That… doesn’t seem fair to you.”

 

“I’ll do it,” Jimin responded adamantly. “If it means I get you in exchange…” Jimin swallowed and nodded. “I’ll do it.”

 

Jungkook stared at him solemnly. “I’m not sure I’m worth it.”

 

“Stop right there,” Jimin abruptly cut him off in a firm voice. “This is my decision, too, ok? You’re risking your job for me, so the least I can do is keep a secret from my best friend in order to keep you right here beside me.” When Jungkook shook his head and looked as if he wanted to refute Jimin’s statement, Jimin cut him off. “Stop it. This is my decision, too, ok? I’m choosing to be with you.” He took a step closer. “So let me do it.”

 

Jungkook slowly lowered his forehead to Jimin’s, seeking out warmth and reassurance from him. “So… we’re really doing this?” he asked. “You’re ok with that?”

 

Jimin swallowed down his selfish desire to have Jungkook at his side no matter the sacrifice either one of them had to make. “Are you?”

 

“You’re absolutely worth the risk,” Jungkook admitted without hesitation. Then he smiled. “The pros more than outweigh the cons.”

 

Jimin abruptly pulled away to bury his face in Jungkook’s chest, refusing to let him see the enormous smile his words had caused. He knew that right now he was focusing on his own overwhelming desire for Jungkook and couldn’t stop to truly see the big picture. In the back of his mind, he knew this could be one of the greatest mistakes he ever made, but he refused to see it. Jimin was being selfish by asking Jungkook to risk his entire livelihood for a relationship with him. Yoongi had already warned him; if anyone found out, Jungkook would never work in this business again.

 

And perhaps Jimin would be able to fully comprehend the sacrifice Jungkook was making tomorrow, but tonight –

 

Jimin was feeling selfish.

 

“Enough of this,” Jungkook finally interrupted their serious exchange and swiftly tried to inject something lighthearted into their conversation. “You’re graduating tomorrow.”

 

Jimin pulled back from Jungkook’s arms to nod proudly at his words. “With honors,” he tacked on. “Just like the president’s son should.”

 

Jungkook grinned at Jimin’s excitement. He put both hands on Jimin’s shoulders, seeming to be torn between pulling him in and keeping him at bay. “I, uh… should probably let you go, then. You’re supposed to be meeting your parents in the morning. Don’t you need to get up early?”

 

The smile fell on Jimin’s face. “No,” he sputtered. “I mean – yes, I need to be up early, but – I don’t want you to leave.” Jimin watched Jungkook’s lips slowly curve up into a smirk. “It’s just – ” Jimin cleared his throat “ – all I need tomorrow is to be conscious when my parents show up for brunch and capable of smiling for a few photographers. I’ve been able to run on less sleep in more dire circumstances.”

 

Jungkook mulled over his words, taking a small step forward. The hands he had on Jimin’s shoulders shifted until one slid down his arm to grasp his fingers while the other casually stroked Jimin’s cheek with the back of his finger. “Is that so?” he asked with a smile.

 

Jimin grinned up at him. “You can stay as long as you want.” Then slowly, his eyes lost its sparkle as he remembered Jungkook’s words from before about being scared, and he took a small step away from him to put space between them. “We could… watch a movie,” Jimin supplied, wringing his fingers together nervously. “Or just talk for a little bit?”

 

“Oh.” Jungkook immediately put both of his hands in his pockets and nodded, surprised at Jimin’s sudden shift in his demeanor. “Um. Ok – if that’s what you want to do.”

 

Jimin shrugged. He suddenly felt uncomfortable standing alone with Jungkook in his tiny dorm room. “It’s just – I know this whole thing – you know, being with a man – is still kind-of new for you – well, technically it’s new for me, too – I just don’t want… you know, the fact that I’m a man freak you out anymore than it probably already is.”

 

Jungkook blinked at Jimin. “You think I’m worried that you’re a man?”

 

Jimin’s eyes grew shifty. “Yes? I thought… wasn’t that what you said? That you had never been with men and that bothered you?”

 

“I was bothered,” Jungkook swiftly corrected him with a smirk, “because I wasn’t bothered that you were a man at all. That’s what bothered me, Jimin – the fact that my feelings for you were so strong that I didn’t care.”

 

“Oh.” Jimin looked up at Jungkook with wide, owlish eyes. “Oh.

 

“So, if you’re asking me to watch a movie because you think you’re doing some stupidly noble thing by putting distance between us right now, or you think I can’t handle anything physical with you, then you should know – ”

 

Jungkook was cut off as Jimin flung both arms around his neck and locked their lips together, sufficiently ending the conversation.

 

Jimin was tired of taking a backseat in his own life. He wanted to be in the driver’s seat. He was tired of sacrificing his happiness for everyone else. For once, he just wanted to take something for himself.

 

He wanted Jungkook.

 

Jungkook stumbled backwards at the sudden weight thrown against his chest. One hand went instinctively to Jimin’s waist, catching him around the middle, while the other reached out behind his back towards the nearest wall. By the time he managed to brace himself, Jimin had already firmly attached himself to Jungkook’s front.

 

“Jimin,” Jungkook breathed between kisses as Jimin continued to push Jungkook forward towards the wall and pressed his hips even closer. “Fuck.” He gave in, leaning against the wall and putting both hands on Jimin’s hips, tugging him closer. “When did you get so aggressive?”

 

There was a long pause after his question as Jimin firmly reattached himself to Jungkook’s lips. He brought a hand up to his neck, abruptly tugging him closer for better access. Jimin pushed forward, urging Jungkook’s mouth to open as he began his assault. Teeth clashed as their tongues battled one another, fighting for dominance. For several heated moments, they gasped for breath, both unwilling to stop for a longer duration of time. Unable to take the lack of oxygen any longer, all at once Jimin suddenly stopped his voracious attack, dropping his forehead to Jungkook’s and panted heavily, breath warm against his skin. Jimin was drunk on the taste of Jungkook, unable to fully focus on anything else before him.

 

As Jungkook’s eyes slowly opened, languidly dragging his gaze from Jimin’s swollen, red lips to his bright eyes, Jimin smirked proudly, glad to know that he seemed to have the same effect on Jungkook that Jungkook had on him.

 

“Pent up frustration,” Jimin belatedly answered Jungkook’s question. “It does things to a guy.”

 

Jungkook quirked an eyebrow, amused. “I can see that.” Then, with a mirrored smirk of his own, he casually slid his hands from the small of Jimin’s back to his waist, teasing his fingers at the skin beneath his clothes. “I can’t decide whether I like it or not.”

 

“Oh?” Jimin countered. He toyed unconsciously with the hair at the back of Jungkook’s neck, wrapping his fingers up in the dark locks. “Why’s that?”

 

“I like aggressive Jimin,” Jungkook murmured, staring back unapologetically and without hesitation. “He’s hot. Problem is,” he continued with a wistful sigh, “I’m an assertive kind-of a guy myself.” He glanced down at Jimin’s mouth again, subconsciously licking his lips as he did so. “I can’t help but want to fight for dominance.”

 

A thrill of excitement shot through Jimin’s body at the words. He tried to maintain a calm demeanor. He even thought he had managed to do so when he suddenly gave it all away with an unintentional shaky exhale.

 

It didn’t help when Jungkook grinned deviously at the sound. “And you like it,” he softly added.

 

“No,” Jimin replied breathily. It was unconvincing, even to Jimin’s ears.

 

“Yes, you do,” Jungkook teased playfully. His hands wormed their way fully beneath Jimin’s sweatshirt, brushing across his abdomen and dipping ever-so-slightly beneath the waist of his jeans.

 

“No.” Jimin swallowed, feeling himself being walked slowly backwards, closer to his bed.

 

“Stop fighting it,” Jungkook said. He moved from Jimin’s line of sight, abruptly dipping his head down to nuzzle into Jimin’s neck and press a ghost of a kiss there as they continued to walk. “All you want is for me to pick you up and throw you onto the bed right now, don’t you?”

 

Jimin inhaled sharply in surprise at his words. His body responded immediately to the mere idea, heart pounding erratically as blood rushed below his belt. “No,” he whispered in a weak, but stubborn protest. Truthfully, he wanted it so badly, but he didn’t want to admit such a thing to Jungkook and give up the upper hand. But as he felt Jungkook’s breath skim across the surface of his skin making the hair on the back of his neck stand on end, Jimin quickly wondered if he ever had the upper hand.

 

“Yes, you do,” Jungkook countered once again. He traced his nose along the long, pale column of Jimin’s neck, smiling against his skin as he heard Jimin swallow nervously. “I’ll pin you to the bed,” he teased with delight as he narrated just what he wanted to do with Jimin. “I’ll hold both of your wrists down so you can’t even touch me.” He chuckled softly as he held his lips to the lobe of Jimin’s ear. “And the best part is that you’ll beg me for more.”

 

Jimin gasped audibly as the combination of Jungkook’s words hit his ears and the mattress hit the back of his knees.

 

Then, choosing not to waste his time pretending to be in control, Jimin gripped the lapels of Jungkook’s jacket and pulled him forward with a jerk to send them both toppling backwards onto the bed.

 

There was a small laugh of amusement from Jungkook before Jimin extended his neck up to plant a kiss to his lips. He quickly swallowed the noise as Jungkook reciprocated with equal levels of enthusiasm. Jimin’s feet dangled off the bed as Jungkook took on a predatory stance, hovering over Jimin on hands and knees. He silently gripped Jimin’s wrists, easily holding his arms above his head, just as he had promised.

 

Jimin inhaled sharply when Jungkook pulled away, maintaining a small distance between them to look down at Jimin’s flushed expression.

 

“I told you that you’d like it.”

 

Jimin didn’t bother fighting him any longer, choosing instead to be a bit more proactive in getting what he wanted.

 

“Take off your clothes.”

 

At the sight of Jungkook’s rosy cheeks, Jimin felt his confidence boost.

 

“W-what?” Jungkook quietly stammered.

 

“I told you to take off your clothes,” Jimin demanded in a low voice. “I’d do it myself, but I seem to be a bit tied up.”

 

Jimin felt the warm exhale on his face as Jungkook’s breathing picked up. “Fuck,” he muttered, staring wide-eyed into Jimin’s open and honest expression. “You really are dominant, aren’t you?”

 

Jimin didn’t bother responding. Instead, he managed to wriggle free – and Jungkook certainly wasn’t fighting – and rolled them over so he was sitting astride Jungkook’s waist. He tried to lower himself to continue their kissing, but Jungkook rose to meet him halfway. He put both hands on Jimin’s hips, holding him still as Jimin tried to rock against him.

 

“Slow down,” Jungkook breathed when he saw no sign of Jimin stopping anytime soon. It didn’t help that Jungkook wasn’t exactly obliging to his own request as he unconsciously thrust his hips upwards in response. “I can’t – Jimin – ”

 

Jimin paid him no mind, reaching for the suit jacket and firmly ripping it from Jungkook’s shoulders. By the time he’d managed to slip both of his arms from the sleeves and tossed the black garment haphazardly on his floor, Jungkook had caved.

 

“Dammit,” he swore, flipping Jimin onto his back once more. This time, he ground his pelvis against Jimin’s hips, making him groan audibly. “Let me enjoy this, Jimin,” Jungkook panted against Jimin’s throat as his small fingers deftly navigated the tiny buttons on Jungkook’s white dress shirt, swiftly removing each one without hesitation. “We don’t need to rush. I want – I want – ”

 

“What do you want?” Jimin whispered. He toyed with Jungkook’s nerves as he nipped his way across his bare collarbone and rid him of his shirt, falling somewhere between the bed and the wall. “I’ll do anything.”

 

His words broke Jungkook’s resolve, making him groan before attacking Jimin’s clothes. Somehow through their combined efforts, they managed to get both Jimin’s sweatshirt and t-shirt off in one swift movement, though their impatience made it such that it remained on the bed, buried somewhere beneath Jimin in an uncomfortable lump in their rush to explore the other’s body.

 

“Please,” Jimin whimpered in a needy voice. He felt Jungkook’s hands glide slowly across his chest, stopping only briefly at his nipples, before continuing straight down towards the button on his jeans. “Oh, God,” Jimin moaned, lifting his hips to get closer to Jungkook’s hands.

 

Jungkook quickly unbuttoned his pants and slipped his hand inside. Both of them gasped at the sudden warmth. Jimin’s breathing stuttered as Jungkook pressed his lips to Jimin’s chest in admiration.

 

“You’re so fucking beautiful,” Jungkook replied against Jimin’s skin in breathy pants. His tongue darted out, brushing across the dip in his throat before sucking greedily at the skin.

 

“Come on,” Jimin begged as he wriggled beneath Jungkook’s heavy body. He thrust his hips forward to meet Jungkook’s palm while simultaneously working his hand closer and closer to the belt at Jungkook’s waist. Another few adjustments and he would almost –

 

The door suddenly burst open and shouts filled the room.

 

Nobody move! Federal agents!

 

Don’t move – don’t move!

 

Jimin’s eyes opened in surprise. For an instant, he felt Jungkook instinctively tighten his protective grip around Jimin at the sudden commotion, covering his body with his own. However, once they both realized the sudden intrusion wasn’t a threat and was, in fact, Jimin’s secret service barging through his bedroom door, he immediately scrambled to the open side of the bed. Jimin followed suit, finding a pillow to quickly cover the crotch of his pants.

 

“What are you doing?” Jimin cried out as half a dozen armed men filled his small dorm room, each fulfilling their various roles. Yoongi led the charge, moving swiftly towards Jimin and dragging him out of bed without concern for his state of dress.

 

“Wings acquired,” he said into his wrist as he calmly moved Jimin towards the door. “Secure the area.”

 

“What the hell?” Jimin looked over his shoulder towards the bed where he’d just been. He stared in shock as he saw two of his bodyguards slamming Jungkook face first into the nearest wall while a third was patting down his pants – the only piece of clothing he still had on. “Wait – stop!” Jimin fought to get out of Yoongi’s grip, pushing urgently at the agent when he saw Jungkook wince as his arm was twisted behind his back at an odd angle. A second agent fell into line at Jimin’s other side, assisting Yoongi with his job that had become more difficult than was expected. His feet were practically lifted off of the ground as both men quickly moved him out of the room. When he reached the doorframe, Jimin put all his strength into gripping the walls to prevent himself from being dragged any further. “Jungkook!

 

“Sir, you need to be taken to a safe area,” Yoongi answered in a low, steady voice. “It’s protocol.”

 

“Protocol for what?” Jimin demanded. He felt like he was spitting fire with how angry he was. He watched as the agents across the room pulled out a set of handcuffs and swiftly locked them onto Jungkook’s wrists. “Hey – what do you think you’re doing?” Jimin hollered. He was fully aware that at this point there was sure to be a crowd in the hallway from the commotion he was creating, but, to be honest, it was the last thing on Jimin’s mind. “Let him go!

 

Finally, Yoongi’s steps faltered in the doorway, as if finally realizing something. Although he wasn’t dragging Jimin any further, he still maintained a bruising grip on Jimin’s upper arm. “Jimin,” he began slowly, “you… you pressed the panic button, didn’t you?”

 

“What?” Jimin looked up at Yoongi in confusion. “No! Of course I didn’t press my panic button, I was…”

 

His voice trailed off as both of them turned their eyes in tandem towards the wrinkled bedspread where the tiny panic button had fallen out of Jimin’s sweatshirt pocket and was laying at the center of the mattress. The red light continued to blink in the very spot where he had been moaning out Jungkook’s name just moments before.

 

“Oh, God.” He blushed at the realization of what had happened and raised both hands to cover his mortified expression.

 

He heard Yoongi sigh softly as he quickly came to the same conclusion. He released Jimin’s arm and stepped back into the room. “False alarm,” he said, first quietly into his wrist before repeating it a bit louder for the men holding Jungkook against the wall. Jimin hesitantly pulled his hands down from his eyes, staring at the scene unfolding before him through his fingers. “Let him go,” Yoongi added for safe measure, pointing at the handcuffs behind Jungkook’s back.

 

Jimin gasped quietly as the men holding Jungkook to the wall finally removed his handcuffs, revealing a thin, red ring around each wrist. He tried to move towards him, but Yoongi maintained his grip on Jimin’s shoulder while the various agents in the room took their time returning to their original post.

 

It was silent – a very uncomfortable silence – as the tall men released Jungkook without so much as an apology and quietly exited the room. Granted, Jimin stubbornly recognized, they were doing their job by removing what they thought to be a threat from the situation, but it still made his blood boil that they had treated Jungkook – one of their own – in such a brash manner.

 

Yoongi was the only agent that stayed behind. He stood between the pair at the center of the room with both hands on his hips and his eyes fixed on the floor. He remained motionless as the last of the agents walked past him and exited the room, gently closing the door behind them.

 

At the sound of the door latching closed with a soft click, Yoongi turned his narrowed gaze on Jimin.

 

“I told you,” he immediately spit out. “I told you not to get involved with him, didn’t I? I fucking told you.”

 

Jimin swallowed guiltily. The man standing before him was no longer acting as his security guard. This was his hyung, approaching their conversation with hot anger instead of cold logic. “I know, hyung. I’m sorry.”

 

“You said there was nothing between the two of you,” Yoongi said in an accusatory tone. “You lied to me, Jimin.”

 

“I didn’t lie,” Jimin protested with a shake of his head. He took a step forward to explain himself but immediately dropped both hands to his jeans as they started to slide down his waist.

 

“For fuck’s sake,” Yoongi growled. He put an angry hand to the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. “Zip up your pants, Jimin.”

 

Jimin immediately did as he was told and watched as Jungkook sheepishly did the same on the opposite side of the room.

 

“Hyung,” Jimin tried to get his attention again. He stood before Yoongi with a pleading expression. “I wasn’t hiding anything – not then. Us – Jungkook and I – this wasn’t planned. I promise.”

 

“Do you think that really makes a difference?” Yoongi countered. He dropped his hand and opened his eyes when he felt like it was safe to finally look at them again. “Do you realize what sort of a situation you’ve put me in? You know what I have to do, now, don’t you?”

 

Every moment of his and Jungkook’s conversation from the last hour came back to him, filling his gut with dread. “Please,” Jimin begged him, putting both hands on Yoongi’s wrists. “Don’t tell anyone. I don’t want Jungkook to get in trouble. It’s my fault – not his.”

 

“Jimin,” Jungkook sighed. Jimin looked over his shoulder, watching as Jungkook shrugged on his wrinkled white dress shirt and began buttoning it up. “You can’t ask him to lie for you.”

 

Jimin disregarded Jungkook’s words and frantically turned back to Yoongi. “It won’t happen again,” he pleaded. His voice was coated with desperation as he met Yoongi’s impenetrable stare. “We’ll be more careful in the future. No one will find out.”

 

“Oh, yeah?” Yoongi challenged him with a sarcastic smile. “And what are you going to do about all of the other agents that walked in on you groping their comrade?”

 

Hey,” Jungkook sharply cut in with a glare in Yoongi’s direction. “Don’t talk to him like that.”

 

Yoongi stifled an eye roll. “Do you really think they won’t tell anyone, Jimin?”

 

“I’ll – I’ll talk to them,” Jimin improvised on the spot. He bit at his lip as a weak idea formulated. “They’ll understand,” he explained. “I’ll make them see.”

 

There was more shuffling behind Jimin as Jungkook continued dressing in silence. “Give up,” Yoongi firmly told Jimin. Then, for the first time since he’d walked in on Jimin, Yoongi gave him a sad look, empathizing with his situation. “I’m sorry, kid. I have to report him. It’s over.”

 

“No, it’s – it’s not over,” Jimin argued defiantly. He looked to Jungkook for reassurance. “It’s not over,” he repeated adamantly. His brain suddenly seemed to catch up with their situation, realizing that Jungkook was pulling on his suit jacket with a solemn expression. “Jungkook,” he murmured softly. His grip on Yoongi’s arm relaxed and his hand fell limp to his side as Jungkook quickly tucked his shirt into his pants. “Are you leaving?”

 

Jungkook resolutely kept his gaze on the ground as he headed towards his shoes that had been kicked across the room. “Yes,” he answered simply. He tugged them on without worrying about the laces.

 

“Where are you going?” he asked.

 

Jungkook looped the tie around his neck before finally making eye contact with Jimin. “I’m going to fix this.”

 

Yoongi sighed this time. “Don’t be stupid, Jungkook.”

 

“I’ll be back,” Jungkook persisted, walking up to Jimin. He cupped both hands on either side of Jimin’s face before tilting his head up to plant a firm kiss on his lips. He pulled away much too soon, staring determinedly down at Jimin’s dazed expression. “I’ll fix this. I promise.”

 

All Jimin could do was nod, wishing he could believe his words when all he felt was a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

 

Chapter Text

That night was a sleepless one. Jimin had flippantly told Jungkook just hours before that it didn’t matter to him whether or not he got any sleep before seeing his parents on the morning of his graduation. Now, it seemed that his statement had more truth than he had anticipated. Every time he felt like he was on the verge of sleep, fear plagued him and sent his pulse skyrocketing as he wondered what the next day would bring.

 

Jungkook had seemed so sure that he could find a way to sort everything out, but Jimin struggled to find the solution that would make everything better again. He wanted to erase the last twenty-four hours, even if that meant taking back their reunion just so he could keep Jungkook safe and out of trouble. He couldn’t stand the thought that he was the one that had brought his entire career crashing down. Nor could he stomach the thought of spending his days without Jungkook by his side.

 

Sleep deprived and bleary eyed, Jimin reluctantly climbed out of bed when his alarm went off across the room. He didn’t need to look into a mirror to know that he looked like death had warmed over. With slow steps, as if he was on autopilot, he got ready for the day. His parents had planned to meet him for breakfast at a restaurant on campus before his graduation ceremony, and he knew there were sure to be pictures of their outing in the local press. The pictures were expected, but Jimin was dreading the thought of being photographed in this state. He may have had on a tailor made suit with his hair styled just so, but there was no way he could fool the cameras into believing he was actually happy.

 

A knock startled Jimin from his half-comatose state. For a moment, his heart pounded, wondering if Jungkook had returned with good news. However, before he had the chance to even get his hopes up, he quickly opened the door.

 

“Hey.”

 

Jimin tried to not look disappointed at Yoongi’s appearance – and failed miserably.

 

“Yah,” Yoongi grunted when Jimin turned away with a sigh. “You look like shit.”

 

Jimin left the door open for Yoongi to enter the room, but went back to fixing his tie. “What do you need?” Jimin mumbled. He glanced away from his fingers that were trying to adjust the length on his tie, and balefully looked back at Yoongi. “Are my parents here already?”

 

“I’m not here as your bodyguard,” Yoongi patiently explained. Only then did Jimin even register that Yoongi’s usual suit and tie had been replaced – well, in actuality, it had only been replaced by another suit. However, this one was clearly a far more relaxed look on Yoongi than his usual uniform. He paired his loose fitting ensemble with a pair of converse and had opted to leave his tie at home, instead leaving the top two buttons of his dress shirt open. “I’m here as your hyung.”

 

“Oh.” Jimin grew frustrated with his tie. He swiftly undid the knot and attempted it once more. He avoided Yoongi’s gaze as he tried to speak in a casual voice. “Then who is…?”

 

“Jungkook’s not here, either,” Yoongi cut to the chase. “I haven’t seen him since he left last night.”

 

Jimin stared at his reflection in the mirror, refusing to react to the news.

 

“I took the day off so I could be in the audience to support you and Taehyung,” Yoongi admitted with a slight smile. “Actually,” Yoongi continued, “I, um… I kind-of stole this from Tae.” He held up a tiny glass bottle that appeared to be some sort of concealer. “I would have asked him for it, but I figured he would just try to pry and ask questions if he knew, and… well…”

 

Jimin quirked an eyebrow at Yoongi as he tried to make sense of what he was telling him.

 

Yoongi sighed in frustration at the fact that he had to spell it out. “It’s make-up for the bags under your eyes,” he bit out. Then, without warning, he unscrewed the cap and began dabbing the liquid under Jimin’s eyes. “I thought you would want something to make you look less like a zombie for all of the cameras.”

 

Jimin’s frozen posture was more likely to have been caused not because someone was putting make-up on him, but because it was Yoongi putting make-up on him. He waited for him to finish rubbing the liquid into his skin before glancing back into his mirror.

 

He hadn’t looked as bad as he had imagined. Or, perhaps, the make-up had been far more effective at covering the dark spots beneath his eyes. Either way, he finally appeared to be semi-presentable for a front page photograph.

 

“Look,” Yoongi interrupted his thoughts. He stepped in front of Jimin’s line of sight and began tugging at his tie. He swiftly adjusted the lengths around his neck and began twisting it this way and that with the movements of an expert – which, Jimin belatedly realized, he was, considering that ties were a part of his standard work uniform. “I know you’re not happy with me. I get that. And I’m sorry.”

 

“I know,” Jimin muttered petulantly. “It’s not your fault.”

 

“Worst case scenario,” Yoongi explained, “Jungkook gets fired, but then he’s free to date you without any consequences.” He paused in his motions and glanced at Jimin with a somewhat optimistic expression. “That’s not all that bad, is it?”

 

Jimin sighed. “You really think they’re going to fire him?”

 

“I… have no idea,” Yoongi safely avoided the question. It was clear that he didn’t want to upset Jimin, but he also held out little hope that Jungkook would still have a job by the end of the day. “But if he really cares about you – and I know he does – he won’t care if he gets fired.”

 

“He loves his job,” Jimin insisted. “And I – I pushed him into this. It’s not fair that I’m the one that made a mistake, and he’s the one that gets punished for it!”

 

“Ok – first – you clearly were not the only person making that mistake I walked in on last night,” Yoongi corrected him with a lazy smirk. “Second, it wasn’t a mistake. Jungkook would hate it if he heard you calling that a mistake.” Jimin looked appropriately chastised by Yoongi’s comment. “And third – Jungkook’s not an idiot. If he made the decision to pursue a relationship with you, he already knew the risks and he was willing to give it all up for you.” He finished his last knot on the tie around Jimin’s neck before sliding it around just so until it was in the perfect spot. Yoongi pulled his hands back to stuff into his pockets and smiled. “You don’t need to worry, ok? You’re graduating today. Worry about that.”

 

For the first time that morning, Jimin smiled, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

 

“Come on,” Yoongi encouraged him. He opened the door for Jimin. “Your parents are waiting.”

 

Jimin obediently walked through the door, but not before turning to Yoongi in surprise. “I thought you said they weren’t here, yet.”

 

Yoongi made a face as they stepped into the hallway. “I never said that,” he muttered.

 

“You maybe could have led with that information,” Jimin retorted as they walked at a somewhat brisk speed down the hallway. They quickly exited the building and began moving across campus. They headed towards a restaurant nearby where his parents were supposedly waiting. “You know, maybe when I asked you if they were waiting the first time, you could have just told me yes.”

 

“I told you – I’m not working today,” Yoongi reminded him with a relaxed expression. “If I was, I wouldn’t have been able to talk to you like a friend should about Jungkook, would I? So, since I’m not working,” he continued in a lowered voice, as if hoping the security team around them wouldn’t be able to hear his words, “I can tell you – as your hyung – that I really, truly hope things work out for the two of you.”

 

Jimin was startled by the sincerity in Yoongi’s voice. He glanced over at the man as they walked, smiling happily. “Thanks, hyung.”

 

“Yeah, just… Don’t tell my boss,” he muttered, maintaining a stone faced expression. “I’m technically not allowed to encourage your relationship with Jungkook, but I’ve also watched the two of you dance around each other for months. There’s really no point in denying what the two of you have.”

 

Jimin held a hand over his heart as he acted touched by Yoongi’s words. “Hyung, I had no idea you were so sentimental!”

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Yoongi grunted, simultaneously throwing Jimin off balance as he threw his shoulder into Jimin’s while they walked. “If I ever hear you repeating what I said to anyone else – security clearances be damned – I will actually kill you.”

 

“I at least have to tell Taehyung,” Jimin insisted with a teasing grin, realizing just how much it seemed to bother Yoongi. “He would love to hear what you told me.”

 

But to his surprise, the tips of Yoongi’s ears turned red and he nodded.

 

“Ok,” he murmured. “You can tell Tae.”

 

Jimin’s jaw dropped.

 

“Oh my God!” he exclaimed with a loud guffaw. “You’re trying to win points with Taehyung, aren’t you?” Jimin punched Yoongi playfully in the shoulder. “You want me to tell him that you stopped by this morning to cheer me up, don’t you?” Jimin laughed incredulously at the situation. “You know what?” he suddenly decided. “I’ll do it. I’ll tell Taehyung what a great friend you are, just so you can get laid. But you have to promise me you’ll keep Jungkook on the team in return.”

 

The amusement in Yoongi’s expression suddenly faded from his eyes.

 

“Jimin,” he began in a solemn tone. “You know I can’t – ”

 

“I know,” Jimin cut him off with a nod. Even though he knew it couldn’t happen, he still needed to hear something reassuring before he left – anything to keep his hopes up. “Just – lie to me if you have to. Say that you will.”

 

Yoongi nodded slowly. “Yeah, ok. I will.”

 

Their previously lighthearted conversation dwindled as silence filled the air between them.

 

“Sorry I mentioned it,” Jimin quietly apologized. “It’s just… on my mind.”

 

Yoongi sighed.

 

“I get it, kid,” he sympathized. Then he reached out and slung an arm around Jimin’s shoulder to hug him to his side as they walked. “It’ll work itself out. I promise.”

 

“Yeah,” Jimin agreed with a nod. “It would just… you know, be nice if he at least called me to tell me what was going on, or something.”

 

Yoongi’s arm was still draped over Jimin’s shoulder, so he used his free hand to pat Jimin comfortingly on the shoulder. “He might be head over heels for you – but he still has the social skills of a teenager.”

 

Jimin snickered at the jab. “Hyung.”

 

“Hey,” Yoongi countered, holding both hands up defensively. “I just call it like I see it.”

 

The tiny smile lingered on Jimin’s lips as they arrived at the restaurant. He and his parents had planned to have a large brunch before his graduation. As they got closer and Jimin noticed the lack of patrons milling around, he began to feel guilty that he’d even mentioned coming to this restaurant in the first place. He knew that there must have been dozens of other students with the same idea of meeting their parents for breakfast that morning. Unfortunately, none of them were able to enter this space since Jimin’s request had resulted in the entire restaurant being rented out in order for his father to be able to dine there safely.

 

Yoongi walked Jimin up to the door, ignoring the barrage of photographers several yards away from them. He gave Jimin a smile. “You’re graduating,” Yoongi reminded him. “Just remember – this is a happy day. Ok?”

 

“Yeah, you’re right,” Jimin agreed.

 

“You should feel proud of yourself,” Yoongi reminded him.

 

Jimin’s smile widened into a grin. “I do.”

 

“And tonight, you can celebrate with Taehyung and me.” He opened the restaurant door for Jimin to enter. “He said he wants to invite you and his friends to dinner and then – ”

 

Yoongi abruptly stopped speaking, staring at the scene in front of him. Jimin’s gaze followed, peering inside the restaurant doors.

 

His jaw dropped open.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

Jimin stared in wonder, trying to understand why his parents were sitting at a table in the middle of the restaurant – directly across from Jungkook. Out of any scenario Jimin could have predicted for him to reunite with Jungkook, this was the absolute last one he ever would have imagined. Jungkook’s chair scraped noisily across the floor when he suddenly sprung out of his seat to face the door. “Jimin,” he breathed as they entered the room. “Um.” Jimin watched him visibly swallow and nervously clench his hands into fists at his side. “Hi.”

 

Yoongi cleared his throat loudly, breaking Jimin from his blatant staring. “Yeah, I think, uh… I’ll just go,” he said, pointing to the door over his shoulder. He gave Jimin one last pat on the back, nudging him forward towards the table. “Good luck, kid.”

 

The door closed quietly behind Jimin.

 

“Jimin,” his father greeted him. He gestured to the open chair across from him without standing. “Join us.”

 

Jimin staggered forward. “Dad,” he spoke in a thin voice, “I – I can explain. It’s not his fault – it’s mine. You can’t – ”

 

Jimin,” his mother cut him off. She reached out for his hand and smiled maternally. “Please sit down.”

 

Jimin was all too grateful to sit down when his knees grew shaky. Carefully, he lowered himself into the seat beside Jungkook. He looked at him, catching Jungkook’s nervous expression before he turned back to his parents. Clearly, Jungkook was just as confused about his presence as Jimin. “Why… why is Jungkook here?”

 

His father’s tone remained patient. “I understand there is some news you would like to share with us.”

 

Jimin’s head whipped back towards Jungkook in surprise.

 

Had Jungkook told his parents about their newfound relationship? When he’d told Jimin he was going to fix everything, Jimin hadn’t anticipated him talking directly to his father – the president – about the matter. For an instant, he opened his mouth to ask Jungkook what he had said, but he suddenly turned back to his parents.

 

No matter what Jungkook had done, Jimin knew now what he needed to do.

 

“I love him,” he confessed quietly. “I love Jungkook. And I know it’s against protocol or whatever, but he’s one of the best agents you have. You can’t fire him.” He shook his head adamantly. “You can’t.”

 

Jimin’s mother hid a giggle behind her hand at Jimin’s sudden declaration. His father, though he held a better poker face, seemed to be equally as amused. Slowly, he turned to his wife as a smile quirked at the corner of his lips.

 

“I certainly expected this interrogation to last a bit longer, didn’t you?” His father arched an amused eyebrow. “He caved rather quickly.”

 

His mother only laughed.

 

Jimin turned to Jungkook in confusion.

 

“I didn’t… I don’t…” Jungkook stammered, equally as perplexed. “They just… invited me for breakfast.”

 

What?” Jimin hissed back. “And you just came without asking either of them why?

 

“What was I supposed to do?” Jungkook countered with wide, terrified eyes. “Turn down the President?

 

“It’s because he has good manners,” Jimin’s father interrupted them as he nodded in Jungkook’s direction. “You would do well to learn from him, Jimin.”

 

“I – I – ” Jimin let out a laugh of disbelief as he simply tried to comprehend their current situation. “I’m sorry – what’s going on right now?”

 

“The head of security approached me this morning,” Jimin’s father explained. “He informed me that there had apparently been a false alarm on your panic button last night. Apparently,” he spoke carefully, “Jungkook was already present in your room when you appeared to have… accidentally set off your panic button.”

 

Jimin’s face turned pale for a brief moment before immediately flushing in front of his parents.

 

“Sir,” Jungkook tried to speak through his own embarrassment, “I can – ”

 

Jimin’s father held up a hand to silence Jungkook.

 

“He told me that Jungkook had come to him to apologize for the situation and submit his resignation.”

 

Jimin turned back to Jungkook with sad eyes. “You didn’t.” Jungkook stared back solemnly. “Why?

 

“That’s what I asked,” Jimin’s father continued. “The last that I heard, you said that Jungkook had earned your trust and was an excellent bodyguard. It just didn’t make sense.” He gestured vaguely towards his security team surrounding them. “So, when the head of security explained that it was Jungkook that had been caught in a compromising situation with my son, it was fairly easy to piece two and two together.”

 

Jimin swallowed. “He saved my life,” he reminded his parents. “Without him, I wouldn’t be alive – and there’s no possible way he would put me into danger. He would never do that.”

 

“Jimin,” Jungkook quietly chastised him. He rotated in his chair to meet Jimin’s gaze. “It’s a bad idea for me to stay,” he confessed. “I love my job, but… I don’t think I can focus on my job if you’re always there to distract me. I may not even do anything intentionally – but there’s always the chance I could make a mistake or – ”

 

“You won’t,” Jimin argued.

 

Jungkook sighed when Jimin refused to back down. “But I could.”

 

Jimin shook his head sadly.

 

“You see,” Jimin’s father quietly continued, “when I was told that Jungkook was resigning because he valued my son’s safety more than his own job, I knew that I had to meet him.” He smiled politely at Jungkook. “And that’s why I invited him to breakfast.”

 

“Sir,” Jungkook tried again. “I’m terribly sorry that – ”

 

“Sorry?” Jimin’s mother interrupted. “What on earth are you sorry for?” She leaned forward as the smile grew on her face. “It’s incredibly touching to see just how much you care for my Jimin.”

 

Her words were simply too much for Jimin to stomach. He ducked his head in embarrassment, though he couldn’t figure out whether it was because of his mother’s lavish praise of Jungkook, or the fact that Jungkook could also hear every word that she said.

 

“It’s sweet,” she cooed happily. “You’re just the type of young man we would love to see spending time with our Jimin.”

 

“Mom, stop,” Jimin pleaded softly. “We’re just… this is new,” he feebly protested as he gestured between him and Jungkook. “You’re making it awkward.”

 

“I’m your mother,” she pointed out with a pair of raised eyebrows. “I’m allowed to make it awkward.”

 

“Ok, but – can we stop focusing on that right now,” Jimin abruptly changed the conversation, “and maybe talk about the fact that it would be a serious mistake to fire Jungkook? He deserves to work for the president!”

 

Jimin’s father appeared moderately surprised. “Oh – I’m not firing him,” he corrected Jimin’s misconception.

 

Both Jimin and Jungkook looked to each other with shock filling their expressions before simultaneously looking back at the president.

 

“You’re… n-not?” Jungkook stuttered.

 

“Of course not,” he insisted. “Well – I suppose I agree with you. You can be very dangerous on Jimin’s security detail with the direction things appear to be going between the two of you…” he amended. “But I don’t see any reason why you can’t just be reassigned to my wife’s security team.”

 

Jimin’s hand involuntarily went out to clutch onto Jungkook’s wrist as he was nearly barreled over in shock at the announcement. “You mean it?”

 

Jimin’s mother didn’t wait for confirmation of the announcement. Instead, she simply leaned across the table towards Jungkook with a wide grin. “I have so many baby pictures to show you,” she teased. “Jimin was such an adorable child.”

 

Jungkook, clearly at a loss for words after he had somehow unintentionally met Jimin’s parents, been unemployed, and subsequently rehired in the span of ten minutes, could only murmur, “Yeah. Ok.”

 

Jimin huffed, glaring at his mother. “You can’t do that,” he argued. “He has to work when he’s on duty – you know that. He’s supposed to be protecting you.”

 

“Oh, you mean like he was working when they found the two of you with half of your clothes missing in your dorm room?” she challenged with a devious grin.

 

“He was off duty,” Jimin ground out, attempting to maintain a steady glare at his mother from across the table. He felt his face heat up at her comment nonetheless. Even his father appeared to be affected by the secondhand embarrassment and was tactfully turning his head in the opposite direction. Jungkook, however, had shrunk in his seat in mortification and was busy clutching his hands together until they had turned a ghostly shade of white.

 

Jimin’s father cleared his throat. “Well,” he broke the awkward tension in the air. “Perhaps we could use our time now to get to know Jimin’s boyfriend a little bit better?”

 

The word “boyfriend” caused Jimin’s ears to perk up in interest. He glanced over at Jungkook, curious to find out whether Jungkook seemed to have had the same response. Sure enough, Jungkook was looking at Jimin with a mildly surprised look.

 

Were they dating, now? They’d certainly entertained the idea. They discussed giving their relationship a chance, but had immediately jumped into the physical aspect before they could really discuss it much further. Jimin knew that if he had the option, he certainly wanted to be dating Jungkook, but he also knew that his life was far from the norm. More than enough things had happened to Jungkook because of Jimin in the last twelve hours that would have sent most people running for the hills, and Jimin wouldn’t have blamed any one of them. The real question was – had Jungkook been scared away after it all? Did he even want anything to do with Jimin anymore?

 

Were they boyfriends?

 

But then a gentle smile – the first Jimin had seen all day – spread across Jungkook’s lips.

 

And he answered both Jimin’s unasked question along with his father’s

 

“Yes,” he murmured. “I would love to.”

 

*

 

“Fuck – you’re such a mess right now,” Yoongi grumbled as Taehyung wobbled along the sidewalk beside him with more than enough alcohol in his system to qualify for a successful evening out. “How are you still vertical?”

 

“It’s one of his many talents,” Jimin commented from Yoongi’s other side. He searched for Jungkook’s hand, swinging them happily between them as they walked. “He told me he likes to act drunk when he wants someone to take him home.”

 

“Oh, really?” Yoongi turned to look at Taehyung with a scrutinizing gaze. “And how many other guys have you tried this tactic on?”

 

“No!” Taehyung protested indignantly. He turned to Yoongi with wide, innocent eyes. “I’m really, really drunk, Suga,” he cooed his pet name for Yoongi, suddenly batting his eyelashes. “I think you need to take me home.”

 

“Yah.” Yoongi’s ears were tinged red at Taehyung’s openly suggestive remark. He’d long since stopped worrying about the rest of the security team knowing about his relationship with Taehyung. He’d grown comfortable with the idea of holding his hand and having Taehyung press a chaste kiss to his cheek in front of his co-workers, but his embarrassment at his over-the-top affection never seemed to fade. Yoongi may have acted bothered by Taehyung’s attempt to flirt with him in public, but Jimin suspected that he secretly enjoyed all of the attention. “Do you really need someone to tuck you into bed?”

 

Taehyung’s innocent expression rapidly morphed into a conniving one.

 

“It doesn’t have to be a bed,” he said in a low voice. “I’m open for experimentation.”

 

“And that’s our cue to leave,” Jungkook loudly announced. He released Jimin’s hand and wrapped his arm around his shoulders instead, ushering him in the opposite direction.

 

Jimin laughed, eagerly following Jungkook’s steps. He glanced over his shoulder to wave goodbye to the quibbling pair. “Bye, Tae! See you tomorrow, hyung!”

 

Neither one of them seemed to be listening to Jimin, especially when Taehyung suddenly gripped Yoongi’s hand and dragged him towards a tiny, hidden alcove in front of a closed shop.

 

And Yoongi was following obediently with a tiny smile.

 

“They’re disgustingly cute,” Jimin commented with a grin. They walked towards Jimin’s dorm, jogging up the steps and stepping inside the warm building. “Don’t you think?”

 

“I think,” Jungkook began slowly, “it’s interesting that the last time you and I talked about Yoongi and Taehyung’s relationship, you were telling me how jealous you were of your friend.” He quirked his head to the side in thought. “And then I’m pretty sure someone tried to shoot you.”

 

“I guess you’re right,” Jimin agreed with a tiny smile.

 

Jungkook looked over at Jimin as they walked. “You aren’t jealous of Taehyung anymore?”

 

Jimin looked right back with an adoring smile. “Not anymore.”

 

For a moment, Jungkook’s usual confident façade faltered as he blushed at Jimin’s compliment. “Yeah, well…” He cleared his throat loudly and tightened his arm around Jimin’s shoulder. He fumbled for the right words to say, before finally ending on, “Ok, then.”

 

Jimin giggled at his flustered expression.

 

As they approached his dorm room and Jimin pulled out his key, Jungkook seemed to hesitate. The door swung open and Jimin entered the room, but Jungkook remained outside, suddenly looking nervous.

 

“What is it?” Jimin asked with a frown. He paused in the process of kicking off his shoes to look back at Jungkook. “Aren’t you coming in?”

 

Jungkook looked over his shoulder at Jimin’s security team that was following them. He sighed, turning back to Jimin. “I’m not on your security team anymore.”

 

Jimin nodded. He was a bit confused as to where Jungkook seemed to be going with this information. “Right…?”

 

“And… you don’t have to invite me inside,” he told Jimin. “I mean – before, you did it because I was you personal bodyguard and you wanted protection, but… I’m not anymore.”

 

“No, you’re not,” Jimin confirmed with a gentle smile. He moved away from his door and sidled up next to Jungkook, running a hand up his chest until he was tugging lightly on his collar to entice him to step forward. “And that’s why I want to invite you inside.”

 

Jungkook’s eyebrows shot up. “Yeah?”

 

Jimin bit his lip to hide his grin, but was unsuccessful. “Yeah.”

 

While Jimin had expected Jungkook to immediately follow behind him, he was surprised when Jungkook turned his gaze on the nearby security team.

 

“Would you mind… just… fanning out a bit?” Jungkook asked in a soft voice. “Maybe, you could… stand a bit further down the hallway instead of, you know… right outside his door?”

 

The men were obviously confused by Jungkook’s words. None of them seemed to know how to handle this situation, considering that Jungkook used to be their superior, but was now no longer a part of their team. “Sir,” one of the men in suits bravely spoke up, “I’m not entirely sure we should – ”

 

Please,” Jungkook suddenly burst out in the most demanding sort of a plea Jimin had ever heard. Jimin was sure he wasn’t imagining the desperate sound of Jungkook’s voice. “Just – give us a bit of privacy for a few hours, would you?”

 

Finally, the men seemed to register just what Jungkook was asking. Slowly, they began to give tiny smirks to one another before one of them eventually nodded. “Sure,” he finally granted. “Just this once.”

 

Jungkook smiled appreciatively. “Thank you.”

 

Jimin looked up at Jungkook when the other agents took a few steps away from them so they were no longer stationed directly outside Jimin’s door – and would therefore be unable to hear any of the extracurricular activities that the two planned to participate in that evening.

 

“Privacy for several hours?” Jimin inquired in a low, seductive voice. He slipped his hand into his pocket, pulling out his panic button. With a fairly deliberate move, Jimin made it clear to Jungkook that he was placing the small device on his desk. He did not want to make the same mistake twice. “That’s a fairly bold statement, don’t you think?”

 

Jungkook arched a challenging eyebrow back at Jimin. “You think I can’t do it?”

 

Jimin’s teasing smile returned. “I didn’t say that.”

 

Jungkook snorted in disbelief. He reached out for Jimin’s shoulders, swiftly turning him around and pushing him further into the open room as he kicked the door closed behind him. “You’re going to regret your words, Park Jimin.”

 

Jimin giggled. “I look forward to it.”