Jimin’s been here for what feels like hours, his knees aching from kneeling on frosty concrete, but the stupid cat still won’t come out from the wheel well.
“Just come out,” he begs for the fortieth time, hand extended in a pleading motion. Fifteen minutes in he’d thought the businessman walking hurriedly towards them was the car’s owner, and had panicked and tried to grab the cat, and now the back of his hand is scratched up from his efforts. He deserved it, but it’s been an eternity and his knees hurt and if he gets an infection Hoseok-hyung won’t let him come to practice, and he just really needs the cat to come out already.
“Please,” he wheedles, “please come out, I know I’m a stranger and you don’t trust me but that’s a really dangerous place for you to be and I don’t want to you get hurt!”
The cat watches him impassively, tucked all the way in past where Jimin knows the names of car parts. Usually cats gravitate to him, trot up with their tails high and whiny mews forced through purring for a good petting, but this one hasn’t done much more besides hiss and swipe at him, and frankly his feelings are a little hurt.
He extends his hand again, just a little, but hurriedly withdraws when the cat hisses softly at him. Ok, his feelings are actually very hurt.
“Are you hungry?” He asks. It’s a skinny thing, it must be to curl up so small, and its black coat turns it almost invisible among all the smoked-up stainless steel. Maybe he could draw it out with some food, and then if he has to, he’ll grab it and suffer its fury to keep it from ducking up into the car again. “I’m gonna go get you some food, ok? Stay right here.”
He stands up, slowly, the cat’s lamplike eyes glued to him, and backs off, bumping into another car on his way. There’s a convenience store just down the street; if the cat runs off before he comes back, problem solved (but heart perhaps slightly more crushed). He needs to hurry, though—the sun is almost down and the owner of the car could be coming out to drive home any minute now.
There’s no cat food at the convenience store (he asks the dead-eyed cashier and gets a zombie-like headshake in response) and maybe he panics a little and grabs a roll of bulgogi kimbap instead of something sensible like a tin of salmon, but it’s already been too long and he barely waits for the cashier to scan the kimbap before he’s tossing a bill and probably enough coins on the counter and rushing out with it.
The car is still there, and the cat is still in the wheel well, staring up at Jimin with its head just a little tilted, probably wondering why the pesky human hasn’t just fucked off yet. Jimin crouches down, unwraps the kimbap, and holds a piece between his thumb and forefinger and carefully, carefully, extends it out towards the cat. Not getting too close, but enough that he hopes it can smell it.
A nose twitch—he’s in. The cat cranes its neck out, but it’s still too far and Jimin doesn’t dare risk moving lest he spook it again. He holds his breath, and then—miracle of miracles. One paw in front of the other on the tire. The cat creeps out just far enough to nip the kimbap from Jimin’s fingers, then crouches down to nibble at it, then gobble at it, and then the kimbap is gone, and Jimin crows internally because he knew he was right, he’s a goddamn cat whisperer and he fuckin’ knew it, hell yeah.
Slowly, he pulls his hand back and grabs another piece without looking. This time he holds it beneath the tire, just a few centimeters above the ground. For a long moment, the cat just looks at it, and Jimin’s knees twinge painfully. But—the cat creeps out further, and then finally it hops down and out from the wheel well. It tugs the kimbap from his hand and swallows it down in a few bites, and there’s a terrifying moment where it coughs and makes choking noises and Jimin prepares himself to shove his hand down its throat to pull the kimbap out, but then the cat swallows and its tail flicks up and relief shudders over him, warm and melted.
“One more?” He asks. The cat blinks up at him and steps closer and he plucks out one more piece. Not daring to breathe, he holds it in the palm of his hand, and the cat only hesitates a second before leaning over to take a bite. Its whiskers tickle his skin and occasionally its cold nose bumps his hand and Jimin is flush with victory. It slows down as it finishes, licking idly at the strip of seaweed left behind, and then—holy shit, it licks his fingers and purrs and he thinks he might live forever as it laps at his palm for the last grains of salt.
“There you go,” he whispers. Its ears flick at the sound but it continues licking his fingers industriously. It feels weird, but he’s always liked the sensation, loves when cats decide he’s worthy of their affection. “You were just scared, huh? What a sweetheart.”
The cat continues purring and nudges his hand, and Jimin immediately obliges, stroking its head and down its back and returning to scratch that spot under its chin so many cats seem to love. It presses into the touch, and Jimin tries to ignore that he can count its ribs and that the city’s shelters are already overfull.
The last of the sangria-tinted sunlight disappears from the tops of the buildings, and Jimin feels the chill settle into his bones more heavily. His hand feels like the only part of him that’s even a little warm. And as if drawn out of his place of business by the onset of nightfall like a vampire, the man who must be the owner of the car makes Jimin almost jump out of his skin when he rounds the corner and unlocks it with a click. The cat startles and bolts off into a clump of bushes, and Jimin is left crouched in front of this businessman’s tire. They stare at each other for a solid five seconds, the businessman halfway into the driver seat, until Jimin stands up and offers a quick bow before speed-walking off not in the direction of his apartment but it’s too late, he’s tied to his bluff now.
He’s alone, and he did a good thing, but he’s alone and it’s cold and getting dark and Seoul just feels so big sometimes. Obviously it’s big, but it’s not usually big all at once at Jimin like this. It usually doesn’t make Jimin feel so small.
He shakes himself and turns around, tugging his sweater sleeves over his hands. It’s a ten minute walk to his and Hoseok’s apartment, and when he gets back Hoseok can coo at him and baby him just a little in that way he needs sometimes, with cuddles and maybe a beer from the fridge. Namjoon-hyung might already be over, that’s fine, Jimin isn’t above distracting them from their sickly-sweet eye-fucking (or actual fucking) to dote properly on him. Hoseok knew what he was getting into when he signed that first lease with him.
Except he doesn’t make it five meters past where the car had been before a plaintive mrowww draws his attention back to the bushes. And there’s the cat, stepping out slowly from behind the orange-brown leaves and blinking up at Jimin with its tail held high and curled just at the tip. As it pads towards him, Jimin feels defeat settle into his bones.
“No,” he whispers anyway, “no I can’t, you’re not playing fair, I—” But it’s too late. The cat is sitting at his foot, looking up at Jimin with big green-gold eyes and intermittently rubbing its cheek on his pant leg and Jimin is a goner.
“You’re manipulating me for food and I’m on to you," says Jimin.
"Mrrrow," says the cat.
When Jimin lets himself into his apartment, Hoseok turns around from where he's sitting (canoodling) with Namjoon on the couch, opens his mouth for his customary hello my sweet baby angelcake come get your kisses, then catches sight of the black cat at Jimin's heels and says, "Jimin, what is that."
"Hi Namjoon," Jimin says instead, dropping his backpack.
"Hi Jimin," says Namjoon. "How was your day?"
Jimin kicks off his shoes and, feeling Hoseok's eyes on him, carefully places them on the shoe rack. "It was ok, how was yours?"
Jimin walks into their tiny kitchen, black cat at his heels, ignoring Hoseok's yell of, "Jimin, you are allergic to cats!" He gets out a bowl and fills it with tap water and sets it down. It hasn't rained in a couple of days, poor thing's probably thirsty.
But instead of lapping it up, the cat stares at the bowl for a moment, then looks up at Jimin, and Jimin swears that it looks indignant. He suddenly feels defensive. "What, is tap water not good enough for you?"
"You ate convenience store kimbap, but you won't drink perfectly clear tap water."
The cat seems to shrug.
"God, fine." Jimin dumps the water out and sets the bowl in the dish drainer to dry. God, he's gonna need to get some actual cat food, and a litterbox, and a scratching post, and probably some toys to be safe, and his scholarship-student wallet is already crying. Goodbye, Thursday-night barbeque.
"You fed it kimbap?" Hoseok demands as Jimin wanders over and lays himself across his and Namjoon's laps. "If it shits in the house you're cleaning it up." There's a soft hiss from the kitchen. "Christ, where did you find it?"
Jimin looks up at Hoseok with his biggest eyes, bottom lip fully engaged in Pout Mode. "Hyung, it was hiding behind a tire from the cold. You know those horror stories about cats and car engines."
The blood drains from Namjoon's cheeks. "What horror stories?"
"You're going to be sneezing all over everything," Hoseok warns him, patting Namjoon's chest in reassurance, or maybe he just wanted to feel up his pecs. Pilates has been treating Namjoon well. Jimin reaches up to cup one too (platonically, like bros do), and Hoseok's eyes latch onto his hand. "Wait, did it scratch you?"
"Hyung it was my fault, I tried to pick it up, it was just scared."
"Go wash your hands before you grope my boyfriend," Hoseok orders.
"But I'm so comfy." Jimin wiggles in their laps in demonstration. "Wash them for me?"
"Go," repeats Hoseok, shoving Jimin off of them and onto the floor.
Jimin pops back up just enough to narrow his eyes at Hoseok. "One day, you'll regret."
The scratches sting as he gingerly lathers soap onto them, but they only barely broke skin. When Jimin goes back to the couch, the cat follows, tail waving straight out behind it. When Jimin assumes his previous position (that is, being an adorable pain in the ass), it jumps up onto their coffee table, and before anyone can say anything, dips its head and laps at the lukewarm contents of Hoseok's mug.
"Hey!" Lightning quick, Hoseok snatches up the cat by the scruff. Except it doesn't hiss or struggle or lash out, it just. Hangs placidly from Hoseok's hand, like Jimin's seen kittens do carried by their mothers. Betrayal zaps through Jimin like a lightningbolt. "That's mine, asshole!"
The cat just meows at him. A war takes place on his face, until Hoseok, a softie hiding under a layer of hardass hiding under another layer of softie, gives in, and drops the cat on Jimin's back, between his shoulder blades. He can feel it settle in, assume the cat-loaf position. "Guess I have two cats now."
"What's its name?" asks Namjoon, that warm mirth he always carries around Hoseok in his voice.
"Think he's already named Jimin."
"We could call it Blackie," Jimin suggests, and feels claws dig into his back.
"Hmm." The weight temporarily disappears, then drops back down again. "Oh, yep, that's a male."
“Hoseok-ah!” Namjoon yelps. “You—you can’t just—you shouldn't look at someone’s dick without asking!”
“Yeah, Hoseok-ah,” Jimin sneers, and then swallows a whimper as sharp claws prick into his back again and the cat starts kneading like an unbothered baker.
“Maybe if somebody—” slender fingers grip the back of his neck in a grip a little too hard to be a massage and Jimin swallows another whimper. “—didn’t insist on helicoptering his dick every time he got drunk I wouldn’t be forced to see them. And Joon, sweetheart, it’s a cat. I’ll say please next time, ok?”
Namjoon mutters something Jimin can’t hear over the purring behind his head, but he can hear the smirk in Hoseok’s voice when he says, “Your big cock is the only one I want to see, dear.”
“Gross,” Jimin declares as Namjoon audibly curls in embarrassment. “No foreplay in front of the baby.”
Hoseok scoffs. “You love watching our foreplay.”
“Not me, dumbass, the cat!”
“That’s dumbass-hyung to you, brat. And listen to him purr, he loves it.” Hoseok switches to that voice he uses with his dog back home over Facetime and sometimes also Jimin. “Don’t you, Blackie-whackie?”
The cat lets out a low hiss, digging his claws deeper into Jimin’s tender human flesh. “Ow fuck, I don’t think he likes his name hyung.”
“It’s kind of a terrible name,” Namjoon admits.
Jimin raises his head and twists his neck like a possessed doll from a B-rate American horror movie just to glare at Namjoon. “What an interesting opinion, coming from soundcloud rapper Runch Randa.” Hoseok cackles and Namjoon snaps his mouth shut, ears flaring red. The cat makes some sort of weird choking noise, almost like he’s laughing too.
“What kind of car did you find him under?” Hoseok asks, once they’ve settled down again. “That might be kind of a cool name.”
“Hyung why the fuck would I know car types, I don’t have a license.”
“And you never will as long as I’m breathing,” Hoseok vows. “Even your backseat driver road-rage is terrifying.”
Namjoon scratches away at the spot under the cat’s chin, turning him into a vibrating massage heat pack on Jimin’s shoulders. “He’s so sweet,” he marvels. “Like, he looks like he probably eats crumpled tin cans for dinner, but he’s so nice.”
Jimin got scratched, and has nonsexy bruises on his knees, and this cat’s pooper scooper and water fountain are gonna come out of his wallet, but he can’t help but agree. He feels a little betrayed that he warmed up to Hoseok and Namjoon so fast, but it was probably because Jimin softened him up beforehand. Like how he loosens jars for Hoseok’s dainty elf hands. (Namjoon, bless his heart, usually drops them before Jimin needs to.)
“How about Portokalopita?” Namjoon suggests.
“Sounds like an STD,” says Jimin. “Still better than Hobari’s stupid car brand suggestion.” He shudders. “God.”
“Jimin, I have the power to end your life right here and now,” Hoseok warns.
“Then do it, pussy,” says Jimin, and licks Hoseok’s thigh. Hoseok yelps and Jimin’s nearly thrown off his lap in his surprise.
Namjoon sighs. “You guys have the weirdest fucking relationship.”
“No fucking involved,” Jimin declares, “unless you finally wanna take me up on that threesome offer?”
“Hard pass,” says Hoseok, “I’ve seen your search history. I know we have a no kinkshaming agreement in our roommate contract but—”
“Wow we really got side tracked ha ha Namjoonie-hyung what was your suggestion again?”
“It’s a Greek dessert,” Namjoon mutters. “‘cause he’s sweet. Or whatever.”
“Babe,” Hoseok coos, and cue the loudest smooch in the world. “I love your cultured and thoughtful suggestions. Portokalopita might just be a little hard to fit on an ID tag.”
“Oh, ok. Maybe… Sugar?”
“The cat, hyung,” Jimin chimes in helpfully, and receives a sharp tweak to the ear for his efforts. Living with Hoseok is an inherently an exercise in masochism.
“Well? What you do think, cat?” Hoseok asks. The cat just keeps rumbling away. “Good enough. I dub thee Sugar.”
“You’re not a king or a priest, hyung, and also he’s my cat,” Jimin whines. “I wanna dub him.”
“Go ahead, then.”
“Wait, I wanna get up for this. Hold him for a sec.”
The warm weight disappears from Jimin’s back, and when he looks up the cat is snuggled into Hoseok’s neck, eyes narrowed in lazy contentment as Namjoon continues scratching under his chin, probably giving himself arthritis at the angle his hand’s twisted to reach. The cat absolutely soaks up the affection though, purring so hard Jimin almost feels it in his own chest. With a pang, Jimin wonders how long he’s been wandering the streets, how long it’s been since he had a friend.
“Your allergies finally kicking in, Jiminie?” asks Hoseok gently. “Want me to go grab the benadryl?”
Jimin sniffs and scrubs at his eyes, his hand coming away wet. “No hyung, ‘m fine.” He takes a fortifying breath and reaches out, touching the cat's soft forehead with two fingers. The cat lets out a soft prrp and Jimin has force himself to focus on the task at hand. This is a ceremony, he can't degrade its momentousness with cooing.
"Kimbap cat," he says in his most magnanimous, king-like voice. Hoseok snorts. "By the power vested in me by my mom when she told me to make my own doctors’ appointments, in this household you shall forthwith be known as Sugar. Wear your new name with pride." Namjoon applauds solemnly.
Hoseok holds Sugar up, legs dangling but still purring. "Now you gotta kiss him."
"Oh, right." Jimin leans forward and brushes his lips right between Sugar's ears; a strand of fur sticks to his lip gloss when he pulls away and he just barely avoids inhaling it and sending himself to the hospital with a coughing fit, probably. Sugar lets out another prrrrrp? and Jimin is violently endeared.
"Cool," says Hoseok, handing him to Jimin. Sugar's claws dig into him again and shit he's gonna have to trim those and Sugar is not gonna be happy about it, and he probably needs a bath too, and pet insurance— "now go buy him a litter box before he pisses in my fancy shoes."
Jimin adjusts Sugar in his hold. His whiskers are tickly. "Not if I piss in them first."
Hoseok's eyes narrow dangerously. "Don't start a war you can't win, Park Jimin."
"I want it noted that I'm staying out of this," says Namjoon. "Please don't pee in my shoes."
Jimin coos sympathetically. "Oh, honey. Your dad-sandals will be the first civilian casualty."
Namjoon turns with wide, pleading eyes to his boyfriend, but Hoseok only shakes his head and pats his chest (his hand idling afterword). "Sorry, Joonbear. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Your sandals have had a long, well-travelled, fashion-sin life. They deserve a dignified end."
"How is any of this dignified?!"
Jimin leaves Hoseok to console Namjoon about his awful sandals. He has a cat to probably make hate him.
Jimin wobbles in the door and immediately slams it shut and slams the deadbolt, locking out the world and two tests and that ahjussi that had stared at him on the bus the entire ride to the grocery store for no reason. A ten kilogram bag of rice is heavy, but life is heavier.
He sloppily kicks off his shoes because fuck Hoseok's shoe rack, he's tired and spiteful and the earth is dying so who cares about shoe organization. Jimin doesn't, and right now it doesn't matter if Hoseok does because he's off on a sunset hike date with Namjoon even though Jimin can see his breath outside, leaving Jimin to drink his post-exam hot chocolate alone.
He drops the rice next to Sugar's water fountain in the kitchen and drags himself to his bedroom. Sugar is curled on top of his unmade blankets, still skinny but fur already looking glossier, and opens one eye at the sound of Jimin's arrival. Well. Maybe not totally alone.
Except Sugar just shifts a bit and goes back to sleep. He's lying in that weird way he always does, his front paws tucked between his hind ones, tail wrapped neatly around them. God, but he's so cute, Jimin has the urge to just. Squeeze. It's sort of how he feels when he sees Namjoon, except even more, if that were possible.
Sugar grumbles out a half-hearted sound of complaint as Jimin curls around him, but makes no effort to move, not even when Jimin buries his face in his fur and nuzzles. Jimin's allergies aren't terrible, but usually that'd be enough to get his eyes watery. For some reason, though, Sugar never triggers them, and there's cat fur on every article of clothing Jimin owns now. It's sort of magical.
"Just so you know," he informs him, voice muffled, "I nearly got kidnapped today, probably."
Sugar's ear flicks at the sound of his voice, but otherwise he doesn't react.
"Pay attention to me," Jimin whines, "I had a really hard day, and if I get kidnapped you'll never get your ears scratched the way you like ever again."
Sugar's tail twitches, and then lifts up and rests lightly over Jimin's arm. Maybe he's just telling the annoying human to shut up and let him sleep, but Sugar's a strange cat. He lets Jimin poke and squish his toe beans to his heart's content, and puts his paw in Jimin's palm if he stops early, even though no other cat Jimin has ever met liked having its paws touched. He also won't eat cat food, and seems to digest human food just fine. What Jimin's saved at the pet store, he's spent on buying shrimp to fry up for Sugar. He even has music preferences; Jimin put on some Epik High one evening and he's never heard Sugar purr so loudly.
So, he's probably just being cuddly, or hushing the loud human, but Jimin quietly believes it was a purposeful gesture of comfort.
Two hours later, Hoseok bursts into the bathroom to search for extra lube and finds Jimin in the bathtub with Sugar perched on his chest, both covered in bath bomb glitter.
He shakes his head and turns to rifle through the cabinet. "God, you two have the weirdest relationship."
"He likes baths, what's so weird about it?" Jimin demands. "Check under the sink."
"Thanks." Hoseok squats down (Jimin notices he's wearing his special hiking date pants, aka his ass pants) and finds a tube almost immediately. "Don't forget to wipe down the tub when you're done."
Jimin rolls his eyes. Forget once and Jung Hoseok will nag about it for years. "Don't forget to gag Namjoon-hyung."
Hoseok whistles. "Wasn't on the docket for tonight, but we'll take your suggestion under consideration." He salutes with the lube tube and leaves Jimin to despair his singledom.
Jimin looks mournfully at Sugar. "If you weren't here I could jack off." Sugar's eyes go wide, like he's alarmed by what Jimin said. Jimin sighs and slides lower into the water, until his ears are submerged. He's not taking the risk of Namjoon being gagged tonight.
Jimin starts massaging Sugar's fur again and the cat sinks down into a breadloaf, eyes barely more than slits. The gold glitter looks so nice against the black that it lends Sugar a little dignity, fur plastered to his skinny frame and all. He looks like a little scrap of night sky that decided to come down and wander the streets of Seoul. The purr rumbling out of his chest is the thunder of an autumn storm. He starts up kneading Jimin's chest again, but it doesn't hurt too bad because he and Hoseok trimmed his claws again just yesterday. The first few times, Sugar would hiss and struggle, but now he just lays limply in Hoseok's arms and wails like Jimin is setting flame to his meagre harvest.
When Hoseok comes back in an indeterminate amount of time later, flushed and glowing and with a single sock covering his dick, Jimin's carding Sugar's fur up into a mohawk from head to tail.
"You ok, Jiminie?" Hoseok asks, wetting a washcloth in the sink. "You've been in there a while."
"Look, hyung," says Jimin instead, "he's a stegosaurus."
Hoseok shakes his head, ruffling Jimin's wet hair on his way out. Sugar starts at the suddenly very naked presence in his close periphery. "Dry yourselves up, I'll make you some hot chocolate."
Jimin wiggles upwards, dislodging Sugar gently from his chest and shushing his complaints. Hoseok is a wonderful roommate for many reasons, and his hot chocolate is one of them. Love truly is an ingredient when Hoseok's cooking. (It helps that he spikes it if Jimin doesn't have classes the next day.) (Namjoon prefers his hot cocoa with cinnamon, because he's a teddy gram shaped like a person.)
Jimin sets the shower head on low and checks the water temperature before pulling the drain and slowly running the shower head over Sugar, mussing his fur here and there to dislodge glitter. Sugar takes it all with his stolid patience and lets Jimin set him on their squishy bathmat as he rinses himself and the tub down. Finally, Jimin towels them both dry, his heart a little lighter than when he'd first stepped into the bath.
Namjoon's on the couch in a onesie, dazed and smiling dumbly at the mug of hot cocoa he holds between his sweaterpaws, but looks up at the sound of Jimin's footsteps and scoots over, hot cocoa sloshing dangerously. Jimin curls up on the other side, Sugar an amorphous blob of fur in his lap.
“Sorry for ruining your post-sex cuddles,” Jimin mutters to Namjoon, under the background noises of Hoseok heating milk on the stove and clinking measuring spoons he doesn’t need but likes for the aesthetic.
Namjoon looks up, eyes wide. “What? No, Jimin, we love hanging out with you!”
Jimin squirms uncomfortably. He knows that, it’s just, Namjoon and Hoseok should get to spend time together without Jimin interrupting it with his neediness. You know, every now and then. Sugar squirms a bit too, stretches up to press his wet little nose against Jimin’s collarbone. Jimin strokes his ears absentmindedly. “Yeah, but—”
“No buts,” says Namjoon firmly, more clear-eyed. “You’re our best friend and we love you, and we want to be here for you, especially if you had a bad day.” He trails off a bit at the end, a clear invitation, but before he can Hoseok bustles in with two mugs, handing one off to Jimin before draping himself over Namjoon’s lap. Jimin takes a whiff; peppermint. Good for relaxation, he hears Hoseok reciting in his head.
“Some buts,” Hoseok corrects, and stuffs a hand under Namjoon’s ass. “This one in particular.”
“You just nutted, take a break from horny crimes,” are real words that leave Jimin’s mouth this fine evening.
“Living with you is a horny crime,” Hoseok shoots back, and lifts his pinky to take a prim sip of his cocoa.
“Be gay, do crimes,” Namjoon whispers.
Hoseok prods Jimin’s thigh with his foot, digging into the muscle with his big toe. “How’d the test go?”
“Tests,” Jimin corrects. “Ugh.”
“It’ll be ok, Jiminie.” Hoseok’s tone brooks no arguments. “You pay attention well and always study hard. Trust in your efforts, yeah?”
“Either way, it’s behind you,” Namjoon adds, pulling Hoseok’s hand up to lace his fingers with. “Out of your control.”
Hrm. Jimin doesn’t like that. He shrugs, and then yelps when Sugar bites down on his collarbone with needle-sharp teeth.
“What the hell, Sugar?” His cat looks utterly unrepentant, and has the nerve to go back to cuddling in Jimin’s arms like he hadn’t just nearly drawn blood, a tiny vampire. Jimin should buy him a little cape. He’d look adorable and would probably hate it.
“See, he agrees!” says Hoseok. The little traitor in his arms licks the wound, apparently satisfied with Jimin’s defeat. The little traitor in Namjoon’s arms continues to dig his foot into Jimin’s thigh, and not to be a foot fucker but Hoseok knows just where to dig to relieve tension. They know all each other’s trouble spots now; there’s even a bottle of lavender-scented massage oil in the kitchen cabinet for when they really need the works.
“That’s it,” Hoseok coos, “relax for hyungie.”
“Please don’t recycle your dirty talk at me,” says Jimin, scratching Sugar’s flattened ears. But he takes a sip of his hot chocolate (it’s perfect, of course) and lets himself melt into the couch, Sugar warm in his arms and his two best friends filling the evening with their soft voices.
When Jimin gets back from his date, the apartment is dark except for the light spilling out from under Hoseok’s door and quiet except for Namjoon’s normally lower voice saying something in a high whimpery tone. Jimin stares blearily at the door for a moment, lets himself feel a little jealous for a second (not of Joon- or Hobi-hyung, mind, just of what they have with each other, sweet and sticky like maple syrup) before shuffling into his room and ripping off his Thigh Jeans, except his foot gets caught and he staggers before falling sideways onto his bed with an oof. This is fine, this is his life now, he’ll just stare at the shadows on his ceiling until death takes him.
Except Namjoon is getting loud and not that it’s not hot but Jimin does try to be respectful, so he struggles the rest of the way out of his pants and his other clothes too and pads into the shower to wash off another mediocre date.
It hadn’t been horrible or anything, just so mind-numbingly boring that he’s already forgotten the guy’s name. He’d described himself as “just cruisin’ through life with a beer in hand”, and barely asked Jimin any questions about dance or science or Busan or anything Jimin had laid out on the table for him. For fuck’s sake Jimin’s cat is a better conversationalist than this guy had been, and Sugar can’t even talk, just mew at appropriate points while Jimin rambles about his day.
Whatever, it’s fine, Jimin has his whole life ahead of him to find someone kind with a goddamned goal or two who knows how to cook and give good foot massages and doesn’t run away screaming at a glimpse of Jimin’s kinklist. There’re other fish in the sea and Jimin is the sexiest, tastiest, flashiest lure this side of the Pacific.
He steals some of Hoseok’s fancy conditioner, ‘cause he deserves it, and anyway Hoseok will probably appreciate it next time they cuddle and he’s got his nose all up in Jimin’s hair. Then he spends four very healing minutes drumming his tummy and blowing raspberries before rinsing it out and ducking under the dwindling hot water one last time. He technically has some worksheets he could use the rest of the evening for, but they’re not due for a while and sitting on the couch cuddling Sugar with a drink and a book sounds much nicer.
Except, when he pads back into his room with a towel slung around his hips, Sugar still isn’t there, not even curled up behind the space heater, and he usually materializes wherever Jimin is pretty quick if he’s not already. Which, cats are independent and like their space, yeah, but Sugar usually likes having his space at least in Jimin’s peripheral vision, where he can scream if he wants a pet or two. But, as Jimin peeks around the living room and kitchen, he can’t find him anywhere, and call him paranoid, but he’s a little worried. What if Hoseok or Namjoon accidentally left the door open and Sugar ran out, and now he’s wandering the streets again, lost and cold, and—
Jimin pounds on Hoseok’s door as his heart pounds in his chest. “Hyung! Get your dicks out of each other and come out for a sec!”
Perhaps drawn by the note of hysteria in Jimin’s voice, after a minute or two of clothing shuffling, Hoseok unlocks and opens the door, triangle-frowning in concern. “Jiminie?” Behind him, Namjoon is a blanket gumdrop.
“Hyung,” Jimin chokes out, “I can’t find Sugar, I’m worried what if he got out or—”
“Hey, hey, shhhh.” Hoseok grips Jimin’s shoulders in a way that’s probably meant to be reassuring, but also those hands were probably just covered in bodily fluids that Jimin didn’t participate in generating. “Jiminie, Sugar is fine, ok? He probably just fell asleep under one of your sweatshirts or something.”
“Hyung, I checked.” Jimin can hear the whine in his tone and tries to swallow it down. “Are you sure he’s not in here?”
“I mean—” Jung Hoseok never gets embarrassed, but if he did, Jimin thinks his face now might be pretty close. “We were kinda preoccupied, we didn’t exactly conduct a thorough investigation when we got home.”
Jimin shoves past Hoseok into his room (it’s pretty easy, Hoseok is sort of a wiggly aspen sapling in terms of bulk), crouching down low and tip-toeing up high to search every corner. “Sugar? Sugar, baby, where are you?” He gingerly picks up a pair of discarded boxers with his big toe just to make sure, then gets down on his hands and knees to look under the bed, and a pair of wide, traumatized eyes look back at him.
“Sugar!” Jimin extends his arms, but Sugar’s tucked all the way in the back corner. “Hyung, I found him! Sugar, baby, c’mere!” When Sugar doesn’t move, Jimin wiggles closer, and manages to get his hands around him. Sugar resists a little as Jimin pulls him out, eyes flashing around, but eventually Jimin brings him out into the light. He’s all puffed out, hunched in the smallest possible breadloaf.
“Oh....” Namjoon’s popped his head out now, looking at Sugar. “Has, um, has he been here the whole time?”
“Must’ve been,” says Hoseok, as Jimin cuddles Sugar close. Sugar presses his nose into Jimin’s pec for a second before flinch-blinking and tucking his face into the pocket of his elbow instead with a tiny wail. “We closed the door as soon as we got in, remember?”
“Oh, no, baby,” Jimin coos, heart pounding again but this time with relief. “Did the sexual deviants trap you in here with them?”
“Glass houses, Jimin,” Hoseok warns, as Namjoon pulls the blankets back over his head and tries to disappear into the down comforter.
“You traumatized my cat, hyung. What if that was his first introduction to the birds and the bees, huh?” Sugar wails again, the sound muffled by Jimin’s forearm.
“If it helps, pretty sure Joonie is equally as traumatized by this whole ordeal,” Hoseok muses. “Speaking of which, I’ve got unfinished business with him involving a thigh harness, so it’s time for Diminie-Jiminie to leave.”
“If he needs cat therapy you’re paying for it!” Jimin vows as he’s shoved lovingly but roughly back out the door. “Well, that was rude.” Sugar makes some sort of groaning sound.
Back in his room, Jimin sets him carefully down on the bed before shaking his hips until the towel slips off and going to find some comfy-blob clothes. When he turns back, in sweatpants and a knit sweater and fuzzy-socked, Sugar’s got his paws over his eyes.
“Oh, baby.” Jimin scoops him up again, smooshing his face into Sugar’s fur. “Don’t worry, I’ll avenge you, use his fancy scarf as a duster or something.”
After a moment, Sugar flicks his tail.
“We’ve both had rough days, huh?” says Jimin, finessing a quick margarita in the kitchen without putting Sugar down. “My date was a total non-event. He tried to tell me beer facts.” Jimin scoffs. “Like I don’t already know all of them.” Sugar prrrp’s. “Right? No, sweetie—ok fine, you can have a little, just don’t get any of your fur in it.”
When Jimin wakes up Saturday morning, he’s still a little drunk from Santa Shots and cranberry margaritas and the victory of finishing another semester. His mouth tastes like orange and minty toothpaste that drunk Jimin had spit out with only marginal success, but his head isn’t too bad, probably because drunk Hoseok is still a fretting Hoseok. Like, he’ll still match Jimin slut drop for slut drop, but he’ll also make him stretch before and after so he doesn’t pull a muscle, that sort of thing.
Sugar is curled up flush against his neck, twitching occasionally as he dreams. Jimin can’t count his ribs so easily these days, and his fur is soft and thick and the best thing to run his hands through after a long day. It looks extra satiny in the pale, muted light coming in from the window. The light…
Jimin sits up (his head catches up a second later) and paws around for his glasses, nearly poking his eye out as he shoves them onto his face. Out the window—
The first snowflakes of the season spiral down, trailing magic to earth. They’re falling almost industriously, working hard to chill down the ground for their brethren to come. Jimin presses his nose harder against the glass, as if that would make him see better, and behind him comes a sleepy prrrrrp?
“Sugar! Sweetheart, look!” Jimin pulls his cat to him, hoisting him up so he can see out the window. “The first snow!” Sugar lets Jimin manhandle him around, yawning like he didn’t just sleep twenty hours straight. But Jimin is wide awake, grogginess driven away by excitement. “Let’s go!”
The living room is empty when he bounds out, the coffee table free of bottles and glasses and floor clear of major obstacles (which have included Jimin, on occasion) because Hoseok insists on “treating sober Hoseok the way he deserves”, so Jimin doesn’t trip as he speeds to their tiny balcony and yanks open the sliding door hard enough it rattles ominously in its frame. Sugar yells at the ensuing blast of cold air so Jimin cuddles him closer, sticking his tongue out to catch a snowflake. Busan doesn’t get snow, not like here. In two months he’ll be sick of the cold, but the early snows never fail to fill his head with magic and romance.
Sugar eyes the falling snow with suspicion, but uncoils himself the smallest bit to look out at the frosted city. As if waiting for him to do just that, a pristine snowflake floats down and lands dead center on his nose. A cat has never looked so affronted. Jimin only just manages to keep his hold on him as he bows over with laughter.
“Aw, sweetheart,” he coos, filled with champagne bubbles, “you’re the best, aren’t you?” Then he leans down and kisses the snowflake off Sugar’s nose, and several things happen all at once.
First, his cat explodes into green and blue fireworks, hot and bright but not scorching. Jimin instinctively drops him, but god wait he can’t do that, poor Sugar—
Then the fireworks poof into a cloud of smoke, sparkling gold wherever a snowflake lands, and holy shit Sugar just spontaneously combusted. Their pet insurance contract said nothing about that, supplies Jimin’s useful brain as he tries to fuckin’ scoop away the smoke, which is dumb but what else is he supposed to do, that’s Sugar— But the smoke moves aside obligingly, like it was waiting for Jimin’s touch. It dissolves into the snowy air, and Jimin is left staring down at a naked man lying in the snow and staring wide-eyed right back at him.
The sliding door rattles again as Jimin slams it shut behind him and flips the lock for good measure. A tiny amount of guilt worms into his veins, but like, the naked guy that exploded from his cat on his balcony and is now pressing against the glass and also trying to cover his dick is just a lot on a Saturday morning. He can endure the cold for two minutes while Jimin tries to screw his head back on. Did he have absinthe last night or something? He could see Namjoon trying to get him into it with him, part of his French existentialists kick or something—
“Hey!” The man/cat knocks on the glass, a pained expression on his face. “Can you have your crisis later? It’s fuckin’ freezing out here.”
Jimin squints at him. Maybe he does look like Sugar, a little. There’s something familiar and catlike about his eyes. And he’s sorta skinny, but with the look of someone who’s recently gained a bit of much-needed weight, the glow of someone caring for them.
Jimin leans forward and knocks back. “What did you do to my cat?” He yells, louder than he needs to. From Hoseok’s bedroom someone groans.
The man gives up covering his crotch and wraps his arms around himself instead, and Jimin thinks that he’s probably violating lots of public decency laws. His ears are bright red as he mumbles, “I am your cat, dumbass.”
“Insulting me is not gonna get you back inside.”
“God, fine,” says the man. “Your name is Park Jimin, you’re a molecular biology major but you love dancing, and you’re the best dancer I’ve ever seen. You live with Jung Hoseok, who sometimes gives me extra treats when you’re not home.” That traitor, Jimin knew it. He ignores the gold fizzing in his veins at the earnestness in the man’s voice. “You like baking but you always take things out too early so they fall apart, but that’s ok because they still taste amazing. You work hard and care hard and your favorite bathbombs are the tropical smelling ones. You’re kind and fiery and you drink black coffee, and. And yeah.”
“You talk like a tumblr post,” Jimin chokes out past the lump in his throat.
The man smiles, just a little, but it sort of changes everything. “Do I, christianchimchim95?”
“Well, ok,” says Jimin, pretending he’s not inwardly reeling. He’s doing a bang-up job of it, thanks. “Then who are you?”
The smile disappears, and the man looks down, away from Jimin. “I’m your cat,” he says. “Sugar.”
Jimin works pretty firmly within the realm of reality; he’s no Kim Namjoon, juggling a million different universes in his head. He wants to believe in fate, and magic, but—”How?”
“Fucking Kim Taehyung,” the man—Sugar?—mutters.
Sugar heaves a deep sigh, meeting Jimin’s eyes again. “It’s a long story, and if it’s alright with you, I’d rather tell it with my balls not actively freezing off.”
Naturally, it’s as Jimin’s unlocking the door and letting Sugar track snow over their wood floors that Hoseok emerges from his bedroom, yawning and scratching idly at his bare tummy. “‘min, why’re you yelling, it’s like sev—” He stops, blinking himself into consciousness as he takes in the naked man in their living room. “What the hell, when did you have time to go out and pick up a one night stand?” He looks Sugar up and down. “Damn, nice pull though.”
“He’s not a one night stand,” says Jimin as Sugar grabs the fur-covered blanket on the couch and wraps himself up in it, “he’s our cat.”
Hoseok raises an eyebrow. “Pretty naked for a cat.”
“Technically, I’ve been naked this entire time,” Sugar rumbles.
Hoseok looks back and forth between them, but when no one explains further, says, “Okaaaaay, I’m gonna need another hour of sleep and Joon conscious before I handle this,” and turns to walk back into his room.
Sugar plops himself down on the couch and struggles futilely trying to curl into the corner nook with his newly too-big body for a bit before he feels Jimin's gaze on him and clears his throat, settling into a seated position. "Do," he says, gaze firmly on one of the puddles of melting snow on the floor like it'll do the speaking for him if he stares long enough, "do you wanna sit down?"
"Um, ok," says Jimin, in his own home. He folds himself on the opposite side, legs criss-crossed and elbows on his knees so he can prop his chin on his fists. Sugar turns to face him, eyes on Jimin's lap with a sort of mournful look. He's got the blanket around his shoulders, and while it's enough to preserve his virtue, his legs are just out there.
"So," says Sugar, saving Jimin from a mental quagmire of whether admiring his former (?) cat's legs makes him a furry, "so. Uh. I'll just start I guess." He takes a deep, shuddering breath, and lifts his gaze to Jimin's. "I was originally a human from Daegu. I dunno, it was fine I guess, but my friend Taehyung—” Here he scrunches his nose, and the expression is so familiar that if Jimin wasn’t sure before, he’s definitely convinced now. “—got it into his head that I was, I dunno, lonely or something. So he invites me over, starts yelling about how, ugh, I deserve all the love in the world and that he's invented the perfect spell for me—”
"Spell?" Human Sugar is nice to look at too, honestly. His catlike eyes are warm and brown and the way his bangs fall across his forehead gives him sort of this soft, gentle feeling, like Jimin could still pull him into his lap and cuddle comfort out of him after a hard day. Jimin maybe needs to stop thinking.
"Yeah, Tae's a witch," says Sugar casually, a hint of a smile tugging at his lips. He talks with a hint of a Gyeongsang-do accent, sometimes even the edge of a lisp lining his words. "A really good one, too."
"Ok," says Jimin, a little off-balance as the world tilts slightly further on its axis. "Are you a witch, too?"
"Nah, just sensitive to magic. My allergies get really bad around the full moon."
"Are you fucking with me?"
"Not yet," says Sugar, and then promptly turns pink. "I mean—"
"So spells!" Jimin cuts in hastily, before Sugar buries himself further into the grave he tripped over and started digging.
"Right, spells. Uh, ok, Daegu, Tae, fur—right. So next thing I know I’m there on the floor, eye to eye with his knees and covered in black fur, and I'm trying to yell at him 'cause what the fuck did he just do to me, but all that's coming out is yowling and shit, 'cause I'm a cat now. Tae's looking at me with this sorta—" Sugar makes a face of horrid wonderment. "—and then he's shoving at my butt all the spell will lead you to true love, hyung, go follow your destiny!
"So I wander the streets for a while, and then end up on a bus to Seoul—cat brains cannot handle carsickness, by the way—and then I'm here, lost as fuck, just trying to survive to the next day. I'm huddled all up in this car, trying to keep warm, and then—" Sugar's ears turn even darker red, and he drops his eyes to Jimin's lap again. "—then this goddamn angel of a human comes along and lures me out with kimbap of all fucking things, and treats me with kindness like I haven't felt in months."
“Oh,” says Jimin.
Yoongi swallows, and there's a tremble in his voice now. "He lets me come home with him, and spends so much time and money trying to be good to me, and tells me about his day and holds me all gentle, and sometimes he just spends hours reading but I can’t stop looking at him. His roommate and his roommate's boyfriend are nice, too, and for the first time in months I don't feel the itch to keep moving, just contentedness." His eyes flick up, and Jimin hastily scrubs at his own. "Are you crying?"
"No," Jimin chokes out, smushing the heels of his palms into his eyes like he can push the tears back in. "What happened next?"
There's a few moments of silence before Sugar speaks again. "Then I fuck everything up by turning back into a human and making him cry."
Something warm and shuddery and unknown is happening in his chest, and Jimin doesn't know how or where to channel it besides his tear ducts, apparently. "I'm crying a little bit," Jimin admits.
Sugar opens and closes his mouth a few times, clears his throat, rubs the back of his neck, like he needs to his give words time to simmer a bit. Then, slowly, he reaches out, giving Jimin time to draw back. But Jimin doesn't, and Sugar's hand closes around his own, and Sugar tugs it gently towards himself, until it's in his lap and he's cradling Jimin's hand in one of his own while stroking Jimin's palm open with the other. Sugar's hands are big, and warm, and the sense of safety just makes the warm thing in his chest bloom harder.
"Sorry you lost your cat," says Sugar, tracing up one of Jimin's fingers with his own. "I've been trying to turn back, but I don't think I can."
Jimin feels a bit like he just stuck his head in a whirlpool and then a dryer, and the apologetic tone in Sugar's voice pinches his heart a little. "Do you want to be a cat?" he asks.
Sugar pauses, mulling over his words again, then looks up at Jimin to say, "I want to be with you."
Sugar drops his gaze again, his ministrations on Jimin's hand a little hurried now. "I, uh, I understand that that'd be weird now anyway, 'cause you know I'm a human now, and we took baths together and stuff, and—yeah. Sorry."
"No," Jimin manages through the radio fuzz in his head. Brain cells, please, come back, daddy misses you.
Sugar hunches into himself a little, shoulders curving, and nods. "Yeah, yeah that's fair. Sorry." He starts to pull his hands back from Jimin's and shifts to get up. "I'll just—"
Jimin grabs his hands back and yanks Sugar right the fuck back down, and he flops back on the couch with a soft oof. "No, like, stop apologizing."
Sugar's looking at him with wide eyes. "Oh. Ok."
This time it's Jimin who can't hold his gaze. He forces his hands back into Sugar's, and after a moment Sugar catches on and starts playing with them again. "So, the spell. What broke it?"
Sugar freezes up again. "Uh."
Jimin continues on. "I woke up, carried you out onto the balcony, kissed your adorable cat forehead, and—oh my god."
A more emphatic "Uh."
Jimin leans forward, and Sugar curls into himself even further. "Say it, Sugar. Say it out loud."
"Four Twilight marathons," Sugar mutters to himself, but he's holding Jimin's hands very tightly now.
Jimin whines, bouncing a little in his seat. "Say itttt, say it say it say it sayyyy itttt—"
Sugar laughs a little, and Jimin knows that sound. "Stop, stop, fine." Jimin immediately stops bouncing. If he had cat ears of his own, they'd be fully pricked forward. Sugar gives his hands an extra squeeze. "I guess it's possible, 'cause Tae is kind of a fairytale romantic sorta guy, that he designed the spell to be broken in a fairytale romantic sorta way, so—ok, nope. I can't say it."
Jimin is a helpful guy, so he goes in for the assist, and maybe says (yells) a "A true love's kiss!" a little too loudly. Sugar groans, leaning forward to bury his face in their hand-orgy, but Jimin continues on, heedless of his suffering, because he's Sugar's true love and he has no idea what to think of that but the first snow is magical enough to make it a little exciting. "But I've kissed you before?"
Sugar uncoils himself enough from his dramatics to tilt his head and nod, but he still won't meet Jimin's eyes. "I mean, love takes time, y'know?" he mumbles. "'specially if it's supposed to be true."
Jimin's former cat is more romantic naked and embarrassed on his couch than 90% of the dates Jimin's ever gone on. He could probably even give Hoseok and Namjoon a run for their besotted money. "Oh," Jimin swoons a little.
Sugar does this weird shrug-nod thing. "Yeah. Tae's spell probably also wanted to check you out, make sure you weren't gonna, ugh, break my heart or whatever."
"So while I was taking you to the vet, the spell was vetting me," Jimin wonders.
Sugar laughs again. "Yeah, probably."
A thought occurs to Jimin, and he can't believe they've gone this entire conversation without discussing it. "What's your real name?" he asks.
Sugar finally loops up and blinks at him. "Min Yoongi," he says. "But you can keep calling me Sugar, if you want."
"Yoongi," Jimin tests out the syllables, feeling them on his tongue. "My one true love is Min Yoongi."
Sugar—Yoongi—straightens up, eyebrows lightly creased. "Don't say that."
Jimin freezes, feels his heart try to shrink into itself. "Oh."
Yoongi swears. "Fuck, I mean—listen, Jimin, I've had weeks and months to know you as you, but I've only been a human to you for twenty minutes. I just want you to get the same time to decide, not just get dragged into my weird magical fuckery."
"Oh," says Jimin again, but with a considerably lighter heart.
"Yeah." Yoongi strokes over the backs of his hands with his thumbs. "First thing you should know is that I put my foot in my mouth on a near-fuckin'-constant basis."
Yoongi looks pained. "I mean, if that's what you're into—"
"We can talk about all that later," Jimin promises. "Man, I'm real glad I always put you out of my room to jerk off." Yoongi audibly keysmashes. "So, um. You said I could have some time?"
Yoongi recovers, although his ears are probably permanently red now, and nods. "Yeah. All the time you want."
“Ok,” says Jimin. “And you’ll spend that time with me?”
Yoongi, Jimin thinks, has a nice smile. Unique. “Yeah.”
“Ok,” Jimin says again. “I mean, you’re right, it is weird, but as a cat you were sweet and loving, and as a human you’re thoughtful, not to mention really cute. So, give me a chance to fall in love with you too, ok?”
Yoongi makes some kind of growly wailing sound, like a bridge troll being tricked out of its fare. “How can you just say that casually out loud?” He tries covering his face with his hands, but he’s still holding Jimin’s, so the result is Jimin’s fingers smooshing Yoongi’s face.
“You just spent like fifteen minutes of your twenty minutes of your human experience waxing poetic about me to my face!”
“Yeah, well,” Yoongi sputters, “I just emerged from a several month-long curse. I’m allowed to.”
“Oh, is that what it says in the magic spells rulebook?”
“Yep, exactly. You haven’t read it because only people who’ve been under a spell can.”
“I see.” Jimin tries not to smile. “What if you put me under your spell?”
“Oh my god.”
Jimin decides to have mercy, and tugs their hands down so he can duck and look at Yoongi properly. “So, time?”
Yoongi’s lips twitch, then curve up into a small but genuine smile, like Yoongi himself. “Yeah. Time.”
"Howdy," says the waiter, a pen in hand poised to take their orders and one behind each ear as well. "I'm Taehyung and I'll be your server tonight. Can I start you off with some drinks?"
"Hi, I'll have a sprite," says Hoseok, still red-cheeked from the early spring chill outside.
Taehyung hesitates before writing, squinting at him. "You mean the soda, right?"
"Cool," Taehyung scribbles it down. "And for you, you beautiful ent-elf lovechild?"
"Um," says Namjoon, "water?"
Taehyung nods, writing that down too. "Of course, for your thick and exquisite roots. Yoongi-hyung?"
"Kim Taehyung, what the actual fuck," says Yoongi.
Taehyung bites his lip. "Is that some kind of alcohol?" He asks. "I'm new, so I don't really know the menu that well, but I'll ask the bartender." He looks at Jimin next, and there's a gravity to his eyes that pins Jimin to his chair. "And for you, tiny rage fairy who holds my best friend's heart in his hands?"
"I'll have whatever red wine you recommend," says Jimin, as Yoongi wriggles out of his corner chair in an either loving or murderous attempt to get to Taehyung. Jimin catches him as he struggles with getting around an obtrusive chair leg. "And a glass for Yoongi-hyung, too."
Taehyung nods, drawing a bunch of grapes on his notepad. "Is it ok if I just pick the one with the coolest name?"
"Cool—oof!" Taehyung staggers backwards a bit as Yoongi slams into him, but recovers admirably quickly and wraps his arms around him, nuzzling his cheek into his hair.
“Oh, hyung.” Taehyung’s voice drips with honey fondness. "It's been a while, huh?"
Yoongi delivers the world’s weakest punch to Taehyung’s arm. “Whose fault do you think that is, huh?”
"It worked, didn't it?" Taehyung protests. "You got to be a cat and you found your true love, that's the dream life!"
"We're not all closet furries, Tae," says Yoongi, pulling back, but he's got this dopey grin on his face that's making Jimin's heart do a very rapid game of chutes and ladders. Hoseok is awww'ing obnoxiously. "What the fuck are you doing here? Who's running the shop?"
Tae waves dismissively. "It's fine, I recently acquired this cute little twunk as an apprentice, so he's taking care of it while I visit you and your prince charming." Taehyung raises a magnificent eyebrow at Jimin, and Jimin hurriedly stands up and bows.
"Park Jimin," he says. "Yoongi-hyungs one true love." Yoongi lets out an embarrassed series of croaks, even though there's no one to pretend for. Call him whipped, but Jimin thinks it's cute. His little cupcake gremlin boy. "It's nice to finally meet you, Kim Taehyung-ssi."
"It's nice to meet you too, Park Jimin-ssi," says Taehyung. "Let's speak informally, 'cos I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing a lot of each other and will eventually become blood-oath confidantes, unless you break Yoongi-hyung's heart, in which case I will hex you until even your own mother wouldn't recognize you."
"Sounds fair to me," says Jimin over Yoongi's objections and Namjoon's sighs of friendship. Even the thought of being careless with Yoongi's trust makes him nauseous. He offers his hand, and Taehyung spits in his palm before shaking it.
Hoseok makes a sound of disgust. "C'mon, man, you're gonna be giving us our food!"
"I'm a witch," says Taehyung in front of the entire restaurant. "My germs are magical, you're gonna love them."
"I promise you I won't."
"It might be good for our immune systems," Namjoon muses.
Taehyung waves Yoongi down. "Go enjoy your double-date, hyung," he urges. "I'll be here for a while."
"You could sit with us," and holy shit Yoongi is pouting now, this is great. Jimin very sneakily takes his phone out and snaps a few trophies, coughing to cover up the noise. Yoongi glances at him, and Jimin quickly hides his hand behind his back very unsuspiciously. Yoongi narrows his eyes, but continues, "My entire life is basically a double date with them."
"Hyung," Taehyung laughs.
"You should be so lucky." Hoseok's grinning in that sort of bitchy way that Jimin loves when it's not directed at him. "Sound more grateful or I'll order you a dish of cream."
Yoongi snorts. "It's cute how you think that's some kind of threat."
Taehyung suddenly freezes. "Oh my god, wait, please tell me you guys have pictures of hyung when he was a cat."
Jimin whips his phone back out. "Try an instragram account called sweetie_sweetie_sugar. It had 15k followers before—well. Yeah. Not that Yoongi couldn't get just as many easily if he'd ever let me take a damn picture of him." Yoongi squawks in indignation, but Taehyung's already abandoned him to coo over Jimin's phone.
After Taehyung's entered himself as a contact in Jimin's phone and temporarily commandeered it to send himself 84 photos of Sugar the cat, he makes Jimin and Yoongi sit back down. "It's always been a dream of mine to be a hot waiter, so I gotta take advantage before the manager gets back and realizes I don't work here. I don't actually know when that is though so order up quick!"
"Oh, shit." Namjoon hastily looks down at the menu in mild panic. "Ummm, uhhhh, I'll—I'll have the—ummm—"
"Steak, medium rare," Hoseok declares, patting Namjoon's chest and letting his hand linger as he always does. "These babies need protein. That ok, Joonbear?"
Namjoon clears his throat several times. "Yep, mhm, steak sounds great."
After Taehyung vanishes with their orders, Yoongi relaxes into his seat, a light smile on his face. Hoseok and Namjoon are in the middle of a discussion about gut flora, somehow, and Jimin tunes them out easily.
"I like Taehyung," he decides, leaning against Yoongi and letting his head tilt onto his shoulder.
Yoongi searches for Jimin's hand under the table and laces their fingers together. "Good."
"You missed him a lot," Jimin guesses, keeping his voice quiet. Sometimes Yoongi gets spooked by questions like that, but not today, it seems.
Yoongi hums, stroking his thumb over the back of Jimin's hand. It makes something warm flutter in his tummy. "Yeah."
"Are you..." Jimin grips Yoongi's hand a little harder, because this has been something that's been weighing on his mind for a while and voicing it sounds like a relief and also like stepping off a cliff. "I mean, do you miss Daegu?" No, that's not right. "Do you ever, I mean—ugh." Yoongi just keeps up the soothing motions, waiting patiently for Jimin to sort his words out. It's something Jimin's come to appreciate about him. "Do you wanna go back?"
Yoongi hums again, considering. Namjoon and Hoseok have moved onto lactose intolerance, but Jimin can hear the horror stories another time.
"I do miss it," Yoongi says after a while. Jimin tries not to react. "But, I've always wanted to move to Seoul to pursue producing, so it works out."
The grip around Jimin's heart loosens somewhat. "Oh, ok."
Yoongi laughs softly, squeezing Jimin's hand. "Also, there's no you in Daegu."
Jimin wrinkles his nose, but his heart relaxes the rest of the way and he grins stupidly. "So sappy, hyung."
Jimin sighs happily, clinging to Yoongi's arm and nuzzling. "My frog prince. Dumpling cat. Garden gnome who eats all my potatoes."
"Do you ever think before you speak."
"I do, actually. I thought about saying those words and then I said them."
Yoongi's shoulders are shaking with his almost-silent vegetable-chopping laughter. "You're one of a kind, Park Jimin."
"And you're the sucker who fell in love with me," Jimin sing-songs.
"You're pretty cool too, I guess." Jimin grins up at him. "Could laugh at my jokes more. Also sit in my lap more, like when you were a cat."
Yoongi turns his face just to cackle loudly and very fakely at him, but Jimin doesn't miss the red ears.
After Yoongi finishes his theatrics, Jimin forces himself to sober up a little, because he cares about Min Yoongi and very possibly loves him and he wants him to know. "Yoongi-hyung," he says, keeping his voice down so he doesn't interrupt Namjoon's passionate monologuing and Hoseok's I'm-so-proud-of-you-I'm-going-to-suck-you-off-at-the-earliest-convenience eyes. "I really like you. I wanna keep spending time with you."
Yoongi barely reacts, but Jimin feels the slight hitch in his voice, and his thumb strokes faster over Jimin's hand. "Oh. That's. Good. That's good. Me too."
And then, because he can't help himself, Jimin says, "Yoongi-hyung, you're purr-fect."
Yoongi groans, but settles in a little closer, and Jimin feels warm all over.