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Seokjin smiles. 

Donghyun’s voice sounds in his head, reminding him not to smile too wide or his cheeks would bunch over, give him wrinkles.

He lets it drop and tries a slightly smaller version. According to his manager, he’s supposed to be going for intriguing, beautiful, a little cold. To invite attention, but never linger there too long. 7 years into the business and for all that it’s easy, it’s still tiring.

He sighs. His phone buzzes twice in quick concession.

 

gay old fucks

jaehwannie

have fun guys~~~~~ ଘ(੭ˊ꒳ˋ)੭✧♡

 

junghwannie

Break a leg jinnie~~~ seriously watch out in your old age, u gotta be careful

 

seokjinnie

@jaehwannie why couldn’t u come tonight TTTTTT abandoning me for musical rehearsals do u have no shame TTTT

@junghwannie YOU’RE OLDER THAN ME YOU BRUTE YOU BETTER WATCH OUT WHEN I SEE U IN THERE

 

The car slows to a stop. He swallows his exhaustion and takes a deep breath. Ok, game face. He could do this in his sleep.

He exits the door amid flashes and screams. Jin slips on with a wave and a blown kiss.

 


  

The actual awards ceremony goes by in bursts of excruciating boredom and dissociating speed. 

It feels like he’s been to a hundred of these by now; the same procedure, just cut and paste slightly different faces each time. He blinks, and he’s led to a round table of familiar faces from the idol and acting sectors at his company. Another blink and black-clad waiters are carefully pouring little flutes of Moët, dropping off the first of the utensils, and disappearing just as quickly. Distantly, he's aware of cameras flashing, fansites poised to get the perfect picture of their idol. He smiles, waving over at them. The flashes increase in intensity. Rinse and repeat. 

The table’s noticeably missing some guests, for once. His eyes catch on the three empty seats across from him. Leaning over, he uses a chopstick to try to discreetly fish one of the printed name cards around. Lee Hyun reaches over and plucks it from his wobbling chopstick, turning it around.

“You’re going to poke someone’s eye out like that Seokjin-ah,” he says, his eyes crinkling.

“Ah, thank you hyung! I’ll endeavor to only poke out my own eye in the future.” Seokjin winks, and glances at the name card. 

Kim Taehyung is printed neatly on it, with JVJ italicized beneath it.

His mood considerably brightens. A breath of fresh air.

It’s been a while since he last saw Taehyung and his boys, outside of quick fried chicken runs at 2 am and masked-up arcade get-togethers. He gets to see Taehyung at various press junkets and awards shows, but he doesn’t get to see the other two nearly as much. They text often to try to make up for it; it helps, but he’s been woken up more than once by vibrations and pings, long rambling chat spams at 4 am. It'd probably feel a lot more annoying if he wasn't so fond of them. 

Gossip has always been somewhat of a not-so-secret guilty pleasure of his, so it’s easy to make small talk with the other people at the table, to use it as an opportunity to catch up on company drama: who was dating who, how the new trainees were doing, which staff member had been called out for eating somebody else’s labeled lunch. He especially remembers the last one; Nayeon had been furious and upturned the entire refrigerator, including his carefully prepped boiled chicken breast and unseasoned broccoli. He’d have to get her and his mystery savior thank you flowers.

The stage dims as the announcer finishes up his speech, and he perks up when he hears the first few beats of "Spring Day" by JVJ come in. The table erupts with a few whoops and cheers, and Seokjin can’t help joining in, beaming and clapping for his boys.

JVJ, aka Jeon Jungkook, Park Jimin, and Kim Taehyung, step into the light and drop into formation, draped in maroons and golds and blacks. They’re all charismatic and magnetic in their own right – Jungkook precise and intense, Jimin light and electric, Taehyung playful and mesmerizing in turns. Together, their energy’s magnified by a thousand, and they’re off, their vocals and bodies winding together in an intricate dance that has Seokjin equally parts proud and wistful.

Ah, to be young. Jungkook would say he’s being maudlin, but Jungkook doesn’t wake up in the middle of thunderstorms with aching knees and a sore back; he doesn’t have to stick to a healthy sleep schedule or face the accumulation of a week’s worth of puffiness on his face.

What he really misses he thinks, is the feeling that he could do anything, the sweet and eager ambition that came with it. 

In the beginning, at university, he felt like was filled up with it, drowning in it. A budding desire that was quickly feeding into a tsunami - but what was a handsome face, a dulcet voice when he was surrounded by a sea of other hungry and talented actors and singers with the same qualifications?

It wasn’t enough. That’d been a bitter realization to come to, amongst his teachers and peers, and yet.

He’d fallen and gotten back up again. Over and over until he came out on top, repeated efforts overflowing into an eventual award. A valuable lesson even as he had turned solely to acting professionally. Even with how far he'd come, it’d taken ages to convince his company that he’d be able to sing the OST for his film; not including the dozens of MRs he composed and recorded, each sent back with a gentle, but clinical rejection.

Fall and get back up.

Two months later, his version had been the one chosen - torn apart and rearranged, but still, his voice, his project. A small, but earned victory.

So he didn't lose it, but. Somewhere along the way he realized something had changed, that the sweet-cheeked, naive face he'd grown up with wasn't the same face that was staring back at him in the mornings now. Wrung-out. Drained. Rinse and repeat. 

He still occasionally plucks out simple guitar melodies and dips into his book of lyrics tucked under his right pillow at home. It's fine, it's casual, it’s ok as long as it’s not serious - belting out to Twice songs on the car radio, noraebang nights with old school friends, nervously working through Mate in the dark of his bedroom. When he sings, he can’t be anyone else but himself. It’s as freeing as it is terrifying.

In spite of this, he hopes that the three of them will survive, stay afloat, bloom. He sees himself in them - maybe not him as he is now, but what he could’ve been, if he hadn’t hardened. He wants them to soar.

The three of them perform three tracks in total, the last from their newest mini-album. When they arrive at the table, grinning and sweaty, Seokjin pulls them all into a group hug.

“Look at you guys. I blink and next you’re going to be winning a daesang. Should I get your autographs now, so I can sell them off later?” He leans into it, seeing Jimin’s embarrassed but pleased grin, the way Jungkook bounces in place, alight from the stage, the way Taehyung brims with unbridled affection.

Jungkook shoves him and then pulls him right back, hooking an arm around his. Taehyung latches on from behind, an arm around his neck in a playful chokehold as they both bounce in place.  

“Thanks hyung,” Jimin says in lieu for the three of them. In each hand, he grabs a boy around the scruff, collecting them as he would errant, over-excited puppies, and pulls them off Seokjin.

“We gotta go see Joon-hyung and Hobi-hyung too. Namjoon-hyung promised us his serving of creme brûlée. C’mon Jin-hyung, you and Jimin can share,” Jungkook says, ducking as Jimin swipes at his head with a “Respect, brat!”

He blinks and they’re halfway across the room, still buzzing with energy. He shakes his head fondly and resigns to follow them. Not that he’d ever let them publicly know for his own self-preservation, but he’d follow them to the ends of the earth; not without minimal complaining, but still. They’re his boys, no matter how far they are.

He only gets a few steps before he’s sidetracked by Junghwan sitting two tables ahead, who grabs him around the waist so they can take a selfie to send to Jaehwan. He captions it “flower boys” and tags him on twitter.

By the time he recorrects his course, everyone’s already arrived at the table, chatting and jostling each other. He hears them before he sees them, Jimin’s laugh ringing out and Jungkook and Taehyung piling on Hoseok to his exaggeratedly pained groans. Namjoon looks at the rest of them fondly, then leans in to talk to the guy seated next to him.

Seokjin arrives to a popcorn smatter of “Jin-hyung” and uncontained waving. He poses and winks. He swings an arm around Jungkook’s neck, who tenses up into a fighting stance before relaxing and swinging an arm around his waist and squeezing hard in retaliation.

Seokjin glances at the guy seated next to Namjoon. He’s staring at a spot right over Seokjin’s left shoulder.

Huh, he’s never seen him before. Ice blond hair, crescent moon eyes, soft-looking cheeks that look like he’s storing nuts away for the upcoming winter. He’s dressed in an all-black silk ensemble with an absurd number of earrings studded up and down a diminutive ear, and multiple rings on his fingers, which curl around a water glass with surprising sensuality. Seokjin blinks.

“Oh Jin-hyung! I guess you haven’t officially met, this is Yoongi, otherwise known as Suga, otherwise known as lil meow meow,” Namjoon says, blinking innocently up at him.

Yoongi elbows Namjoon hard in the side, who bends over with a grunt and a muffled laugh. Hoseok laughs delightedly at Yoongi, not at all deterred by his quick glare over.

Yoongi looks up at him for a split second before looking away, seemingly more interested in his perspiring glass of water than making eye contact with him.

Ok, he’ll be the bigger person here. Seokjin bows and extends his hand out politely.

“Kim Seokjin, nice to meet you.”

Yoongi looks at his hand and clasps it for a brief one, two before dropping and folding his arm close to his body. Seokjin feels his smile dim for a moment.

“We’re working on a new track with Yoongi-hyung right now,” Namjoon says, nodding over at Hoseok who levels a fist bump at Yoongi. Yoongi clasps his hand over it, turning it into a hand hold for a second.

“Ah and Yoongi-hyung is also helping produce some of our next album with Namjoonie-hyung. He’s in and out of the studio a lot,” Jimin supplies.

“Actually it’s pretty weird that you guys haven’t run into each other before, being in the same building and everything. Especially since you both know Joon-hyung and Hobi-hyung,” Taehyung says, looking between the two of them.

Now the whole group's looking between the two of them. Ah, there’s the commiseration, that unmistakable feeling of being singled out among friends. Seokjin shuffles desperately through his mental catalogue of jokes, anecdotes, variety show talents. 

Namjoon compliments Jimin on their performance and the moment cracks, the awkwardness melting away with it. Seokjin lets out a breath. Yoongi still hasn’t looked up at him, his eyes sliding right over him to land on Jungkook, who quirks a smile back.

Seokjin feels a buzz over his skin, a restless itch. He buries it down, as he always does, and smiles bigger. If Min Yoongi wants to ignore him, he has no problem doing it right back.

 


 

Yoongi fidgets with the water glass, his shirt, his hoops. He takes a deep breath and blows it out, glancing over at Hoseok and Namjoon.

It’s not that he’s nervous, it’s just. It’s different being here, at an industry event.

He’s used to basements, house shows, even concert venues jam packed with people. He’s not great at dealing with it, but he can. It’s different when he’s on stage and he’s in his own head, words coming as easily as air and he knows: this is where I belong.

He doesn’t belong here, surrounded by a thousand pretty idols and suits and strangers, who barely move beyond occasional clapping or a head nod. He’s used to flailing bodies in the pit, dancing and entangled and wild, not tiny champagne glasses and people’s eyes catching on his ears.

Hoseok catches his eye and his gaze turns sharp for a moment, inclining his head slightly. Yoongi shakes his head imperceptibly. He doesn’t need space right now, he’d just really rather be at home or with the three of them in some bumfuck bar instead.

“Hobi-hyung!”

A body crashes into Hoseok, who flails in surprise: one Park Jimin sprawled against his lap, closely followed by a grinning Kim Taehyung and a bouncing Jeon Jungkook. Jungkook gives them all a bright grin and a “hello hyungs!”

He swears it hardly feels like any time has passed; he still remembers clearly when the kids were still trainees. He didn’t see much of Taehyung and Jimin in the beginning, but Jungkook had always been hanging around, in the dance room after hours, in the studio poking around the producing equipment. Jungkook used to be shy and contained, used to follow Namjoon around and ask him a thousand questions in that soft voice he had, used to sit and watch Yoongi compose in silence, used to monopolize Hoseok’s time with dance until Taehyung called him out on it. Back then.

Not that Jungkook doesn’t do those things anymore, but he’s bratty and confident about it now, and nobody can quite say no to his requests, even Jimin in his scolding of him. Somehow, when he sees Jungkook’s eyes light up in happiness, he doesn’t think anyone minds.

Namjoon turns to look at him and smiles, this small, disbelieving thing. He’s suddenly struck with the strangeness of the situation he’s in. Teenage Yoongi could never have imagined this, dressed in Yves Saint Laurent, surrounded by loud friends and thriving in the space he’s carved for himself here.

“I can’t believe we’re here,” Namjoon says, in slightly conspiratorial tones. They nod at each other in understanding. Yoongi overlays the 18-year-old Namjoon with the 25-year-old in front of him, and can’t help but be glad that they’re here together.

“Jin-hyung! Over here!” Jungkook shouts.

Yoongi’s eyes automatically flicker over to Jungkook and then to the figure approaching them. He looks vaguely familiar in a way he can’t pin down. He’s gorgeous, with delicate eyes and a plush mouth forming into a pout and really soft looking skin. He’s obviously taller and broader than Yoongi, but he shifts his jacket aside to reveal a baffling small waist and a curved hip that’s covered up in a second.

The guy yells out and then poses ridiculously, breaking out into a grin. Yoongi grimaces and feels something settle loosely in his stomach.

He flicks up to the guy’s face, but affects looking at something in the distance when he sees his head turn towards him. Fuck. His palms are sweating, why are they sweating? He rubs them furiously on his pants under the table.

Namjoon makes introductions, pulling him forward a little.

“-otherwise known as lil meow meow,” Namjoon finishes with wide eyes, but Yoongi can hear the laugh threatening to burst out. Remember what he said about being glad he was there with Namjoon? Yeah, he can fuck right off. He elbows him, which just sets Hoseok off in laughing harder and he internally groans, feeling the back of his neck burn up.

He chances a quick glance over and then looks down at his glass of water. Would that be enough water to dunk someone in? Preferably himself, but Namjoon was a strong second contender. His neck burns hotter when he sees the guy looking at him.

Then, a hand. The guy’s introducing himself. “Kim Seokjin.”

His hands are soft, like the rest of him. His joints feel a little bit different, though he can’t place what. An unexpectedly firm grip.

He folds his arm back and affects a disinterested expression. Play it cool. What’s one more pretty idol among everyone here, another person hidden behind a polished and perfect exterior?

He can tell the rest of the boys are acting a little weird, eyes flitting between him and Seokjin in little covert glances. As one, they turn to him and then to Seokjin. His cheeks are hot now too, fuck. He doesn’t know where to look so he settles on his glass again.

The boys resume chatting normally after teasing him, and he lets out a quick breath, minutely relaxing.

He’s aware of Seokjin just a couple feet away from him – not a heavy or distracting awareness, but solid; a sense of gravity, pulling him towards Seokjin blindfolded in the dark.

 


 

It’s fucking hot down here. Seokjin can feel the sweat collecting on the back of his neck. What air he can feel through his ripped jeans feels humid. The basement is big, but packed with so many people, it feels like he can reach out and touch the walls.

The rumble of people and excited talking press in at all sides. He could be at home right now, a glass of whiskey in hand, a bubble bath started, and a face mask on as he catches up on Boku no Hero Academia; or at least in sweats, bundled up in his AC-blasted apartment yelling with Jaehwan at League. Instead he’s here, trying to distinguish Namjoon’s blond head from a sea of caps, beanies, and every possible hair color variation on the spectrum.

He’s known Namjoon and Hoseok for a long time, but it was hard to stay close when their paths diverged. He hadn’t expected their paths to cross again, much less through Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook, but its always been easy between them to pick up where they left off. He’s grateful they’ve invited him to their show, but he’s not so grateful the rest of their group had to bail for last minute rehearsals. End result being: him alone, sweating to death in an overcrowded basement in an oversized blue sweatshirt.

The poor imperial sitting on his shelf. He could’ve picked up some pork belly and gorged to his hearts content in a peach-scented bubble bath, all of life’s finest pleasures on a Friday night. The tragedy of it all. 

“Jin-hyung!”

He whips his head in the direction of the voice and squints. A moment later, a ring-ladened hand lands gently onto his shoulder and pulls him into a brief, tight hug. Clean citrus and sweat. 

“Ah Joon, your hyung has been suffering down here. Another second and I would’ve perished.” He affects a pout that Namjoon assents to with a smile. 

Hoseok comes bundling in a second later and Seokjin’s pulled in for the second hug of the night. Cool mint and aftershave.

“Sorry hyung, it’s usually not so crowded. Yoongi hyung’s performing tonight for the first time since his mixtape’s dropped,” Namjoon says. The trio huddles closer to be heard over the din of the crowd.

“You’re saying that like I haven’t already seen at least 2 dozen RM shirts since I’ve been here,” Seokjin says. “Hoseok’s too, wah I’m really in the presence of celebrities tonight, somebody pinch me.”

Namjoon ducks his head with a smile, Hoseok mirroring him with a light shove and an embarrassed “Ah, hyung, really of all people, coming from you.” Their dimples make matching appearances. They’re cute.  

“Both of you guys are performing tonight too right?” Seokjin says, looking between Hoseok’s bucket hat and Namjoon’s shades. Namjoon nods.

“Actually, all three of us are going to be performing later on if you stay til the end hyung. It’s the new track we just finished that we’re gonna debut tonight,” Hoseok says.

Namjoon checks his phone and nods at Hoseok.

“We better get ready, the show starts soon.”

They both give him brief back claps and melt back into the crowd. He lets out a breath.

Yoongi’s going to be here. Following that night, he hasn’t actually thought much about the rapper (if he was a little bit more attentive coming into the studio for rehearsals than he usually was, looking around for a certain blond producer, nobody could prove it). This would be the first time he’d see him in person since that night a few weeks ago.

He awkwardly bounces through a few newbie rappers he doesn’t know, grabs a beer, runs into Sleepy at the makeshift bar and tries to catch up in increasingly loud yelling for 10 minutes, grabs another beer, and is back in time in the thick of the crowd for the stage to be flooded in red lights.

Namjoon, Hoseok, and Yoongi walk up and position themselves in the middle. Smoke slowly spills onto the floor of the stage; sober Seokjin might’ve flinched away at the potential fire hazard of all that smoke in a concrete box with no windows, but tipsy Seokjin can appreciate the dramatics of it all. He physically feels the ripple of excitement that goes through the crowd.

Hoseok does a quick stretch and goes still, emitting a perceptible aura of charisma that settles onto him like a second skin. Namjoon pushes up his shades and smiles, eliciting a few cheers from the crowd. Yoongi adjusts his stance and looks back at the crowd calmly. He kind of looks like a cute vampire. Pale blond hair, pale skin, all black attire. A cute goth vampire obsessed with rings and piercings and a piercing gaze, even across a room.

A flute sounds out, with what sounds like a lute following and Seokjin's eyebrows raise. Huh, definitely not what he was expecting. 30 seconds in and he’s bopping along with the rest of the crowd, loosened up enough to bounce up and down wildly when the chorus kicks in. When Hoseok turns to smirk at the audience, Seokjin yells out with the rest of the crowd, petering off into a laugh.

Yoongi seems small on stage at first, sandwiched between effervescent Hoseok and confident Namjoon, but the three of them come alive with each other, bouncing and trading verses easily and rapid-fire.

Namjoon is impressive as always, drawling and confident and inhabiting his body in a way he only does on stage. Hoseok becomes a different person, precise and uncontained all at once, his body perfectly in time with the music. 

Yoongi is intense; he can’t think of any other word to describe it. During their first meeting, Yoongi had an aloof iciness that Seokjin had baulked at. He can’t handle anyone that standoffish, he just isn’t built for it.

Now, Yoongi’s a man on fire. His rapping is almost lazy, but much too sharp to be anything but deliberate, the words tripping off his tongue carelessly and arrogantly. Seokjin closes his eyes, the low bass dripping down his back, the voice like a caress down his waist. It’s a lot deeper than he expected. He suppresses a shudder and is jolted back into reality with Namjoon’s voice entering the fray smoothly.

When the song ends, Seokjin feels a buzz under his skin, energy swelling and ebbing away into a bone-deep tiredness. He’ll text Namjoon and Hoseok tomorrow to congratulate them - right now, he feels his bed calling him.

As he leaves, he thinks he can feel eyes on him, but when he turns around, he doesn’t see anyone.

 


 

Yoongi can’t stop biting his nails. He’ll start fidgeting, still his hands by biting his nails, take them out and inevitably start fidgeting again. He can feel his right hand shaking imperceptibly and clenches it into a fist.

“I’ll welcome our first guest. His new mixtape just dropped a month ago, please welcome producer and rapper, artist Suga!”

He walks out, his mouth a nervous line, and takes a seat next to Suran, who gives him a smile. It’s fine, he knows at least one person here, and he doesn’t want to be here, but he has to be, so it’s fine.

One of the hosts has a poofed up perm she keeps on adjusting. It reminds him of Holly, which only strengthens his resolve. 50 minutes and his manager can stop riding his dick about PR and he’ll be back at home with his sweet Holly.

He tunes back in when the host begins speaking again, gearing up to introduce their next guest.

Kim Seokjin.

He’d seen him earlier backstage from afar, talking with the staff and getting his makeup touched up. Friendly and a little flirty.

It'd surprised him when he first saw Seokjin at the concert – Hoseok had pointed him out, another brown head in the crowd, sipping a beer and looking all the world like a normal, bored twenty-something with nothing better to do on a Friday night than scream his head off in a packed basement. A far cry from the Seokjin backstage who had winked at the makeup noona and promptly caused her to drop her eyeshadow palette. 

He doesn’t know how to act around Seokjin. He seems a little too careless about things for Yoongi to let down his guard with, like a series of jokes a little too close for comfort about yourself.

“Our next guest stars in the new movie, ‘Epiphany,’ that has everyone abuzz, and sang the OST for it, please welcome actor Kim Seokjin!”

For a moment, there’s polite clapping; and then an uproar of laughter from the audience, a giggle escaping from Suran before she muffles it with a palm. 

Kim Seokjin, moonwalking in with an exaggeratedly focused face that quickly melts into a smile that pushes his cheeks out. Yoongi kind of wants to push those cheeks together and coo at their softness. He ruthlessly suppresses the thought. 

The hosts shout out, one toppling over from giggles. Seokjin stops, bows deeply about 6 times, one for each person, and then takes a seat across from him. He seems confident but relaxed, with the air of someone who's tried to make everyone laugh and succeeded.

“Ah Kim Seokjin-ssi, now an accoladed dancer on top of actor and singer. Triple threat?” 

“Ah, quadruple actually, I’m also a connoisseur of dad jokes. I have the finest collection around, stored up here,” Seokjin answers promptly, tapping his temple.

Yoongi can’t quite identify the feeling bubbling up inside him. Slight hysterical laughter mixed in with disbelief.

“Seokjin-ssi, maybe you could show Yoongi-ssi a few moves huh?”

Everyone turns to Yoongi and he clamps his hand on his thigh. He hates being put on the spot.

“Ah, I’d be grateful, sunbaenim.” He glances at Seokjin and turns his gaze away when Seokjin turns his smile over to him.

“Ah, but Yoongi-ssi your dance moves are impeccable. How can I ever live up to your infamous worm dance?”

He gets up and leans back, wiggling his arms out from him with a concentrated face. The hosts break out into laughter again, and Suran turns to him, her eyebrows quirked and a mischievous smile on her face. It’s far too suggestive of a look for what he and Seokjin actually share.

He feels his cheeks flush and ducks his head.

He looks up to catch the tail end of Seokjin watching him. They hold eye contact for a brief second as the hosts move on, and Seokjin winks, before turning to answer the host.

Yoongi feels another hysterical laugh bubble up in him. Who the hell was Kim Seokjin?

 


 

“Kim Seokjin is your new husband.” 

Yoongi coughs out the noodles he just slurped up; has a brief, painful hacking fit as the spice burns his throat. He turns to stare at his manager with dead eyes.

“What?” 

“I talked with his management over at BH, and both of you have been selected for the reality marriage show, ‘We Got Married,’ for the next season. Filming starts in 2 weeks, I’ve already booked off your sessions.”

It’s completely left field from what he was expecting.

“Now I know what you’re thinking,” he interrupts Yoongi when he opens his mouth, ready to let loose a relentless tirade of questions or scream maybe. Whatever would get him answers.

“I know this seems stupid to you or a waste of time. But practically speaking, you have a limited audience right now: your previous fans and some hype built from chart positioning. But you need more than that. You’re not just an underground rapper anymore Yoongi, you’re an artist. You’re on the way to becoming an idol.”

Yoongi feels a headache brewing. “What does this have anything to do with that?”

“You need to seem more approachable, not so closed-off. This will get you some of that public exposure, for your album, and let people know that you’re human too. Isn’t that what you want Yoongi? For everyone to see you as you are, and be able to hear your music?”

Yoongi clenches his fist.

He could keep arguing, try to push back against his manager but. He’s not wrong. He just wishes his music alone would be able to do that, but he’s no fool. He swallows, his frustration, his unease, his quiet revolt towards the truth of his manager’s words.

“It’s for the best Yoongi. I hope you’ll be able to see that.”

 


 

“You’ll be ok taking care of them for the next month or so right? You have the food, the cage… remember fresh fruit is better! And don’t feed them any sweets or anything like that, no matter how much they complain,” Seokjin says. He’s fretting, a little, but he thinks he has the right to - not only at the situation, but it’ll be the first time he’s ever been away from his sugar gliders this long.  

“You sound like your father when we had you,” his mother says. She sounds like she’s holding back a laugh. “Relax sweetie, we’ll be fine! They’re so little, it’ll be just like having you and Seokjung as babies again,” she gushes. 

“Mom,” he says, half-embarrassed, half-grateful. At least the cameras hadn’t started rolling yet.

“We’ll be fine honey. Now go get married!” she says, a giddy lilt to her tone, and hangs up before he can get a goodbye out.

Seokjin pulls at the collar of the garish, purple prince outfit he’s been fitted in, feeling like he’s 10 seconds away from running out of the dressing room and into the nearest bar. 20 minutes until their fake marriage ceremony, where the both of them will be dressed in gaudy Disney prince outfits and made to promise themselves to each other through this whole charade. 

Taehyung, Jimin, and Jungkook are expected to be there too, as best man, flower boy, and ring bearer respectively. He doesn’t know whether to be reassured or hysterical. 

Maybe it’d be easier to handle if his fake husband was anyone but Min Yoongi, bigger than life underground rap star, who is everything but easy to read or understand. He can’t imagine how the next month is going to turn out, having to sleep and spend 90% of his day with this man, filmed and scrutinized for the world to see. For as many variety shows as he’s been on, he’s never had a challenge quite like this.

The only reason he can be so gregarious and loud on shows is because he can recharge away from the cameras, with friends and family or alone – tucked away in his bedroom, practicing guitar or playing Maplestory with Junghwan or just sleeping, existing for no one but himself.

If he’s being really honest, he doesn’t know if he can do it. The uncertainty in himself scares him the most.

A knock sounds on the door. He takes a deep breath. There’s no point dwelling on it now, it’s happening whether he wants it to or not, and the only control he has now is his perspective on it, his own actions. He’s going to put on a damn good show.

 


 

“Kim Seokjin, do you take Min Yoongi to be your husband?”

 “I do.”

“Min Yoongi, do you take Kim Seokjin to also...be your husband?”

“..I do.”

“Please present the rings.”

From his suit pocket, Jungkook pulls out two ring pops, already bare and taken out of their packaging. Seokjin grimaces and tries not to think about where that suit pocket has been.

“I’ve been saving these for a special occasion,” Jungkook says, presenting them like diamond rings instead of slightly stale plastic pieces.

Yoongi and Seokjin stare at the ring pops, and then at each other. Seokjin widens his eyes subtly, willing Yoongi to take a ring and put it on his finger first. Yoongi stares back. Seokjin sighs.

He grabs the cherry one and places it on Yoongi’s ring finger. Yoongi grabs the blue raspberry one and slides it onto his finger, far gentler than he expected.

“Your wedding ring is a symbol of your promise to one another. The ring is a symbol of committed, unending love.”

He hears a sniffle and turns to see Jimin wiping the corners of his eyes with a handkerchief. Namjoon already started silently crying 5 minutes ago, Hoseok wiping the tears from his face with a loving smile. Seokjin feels like he’s in a fever dream.

“By the power of your love and commitment to each other, and by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and husband. You may now share your first kiss.”

The five boys burst into applause, whooping and delighting in the fact that they get to clown the two the second the cameras turn off. 

Seokjin bends down to press a quick kiss to Yoongi’s cheek. He pulls back to see Yoongi’s expression – still as unperturbed as ever, looking down and scratching the back of his neck.

Seokjin’s eyes narrow. He hates being ignored.

“Ready to carry me over the threshold?” Seokjin asks, draping his arms across Yoongi’s shoulders, ignoring how he goes rigid. 

“You’re the one who’s taller and broader, shouldn’t you be the one carrying me?”

“You’re my husband!”

“You’re mine too!”

“Who wants cake!” Taehyung shouts, already halfway across the reception hall to cut their lopsided pink and blue wedding cake.

 


 

Yoongi stares at the one king bed in the middle of the bedroom. He can’t even find the energy to sigh – this entire experience has already been every single cliche he feared come to life. What’s one more at this point? 

At least the bedroom only had two cameras outfitted in it, one in each corner. The rest of the house is outfitted with near two dozen cameras to cover any possible angle. A compromise - a small measure of privacy granted to them by taking out a production team in the house, but still being able to capture their every move.

“Which side do you want?” Seokjin asks, already propped up on the right side. Yoongi plops face down on the mattress next to him. He could be more wary, but he really can’t be bothered to give a shit after everything that’s happened.

They lay together in silence. For the first time since this whole charade’s begun, Yoongi feels himself minutely relax, finally away from the glare of the cameras, the feeling that he was making all the wrong moves.

“So…husbands, huh,” Seokjin says.

He startles. He’d forgotten Seokjin was still next to him.

Yoongi turns around. Stares up at the ceiling, hands folded on his stomach.

“I guess so.”

“Would that make you Mr. Kim?”

“And you Mr. Min?”

The joke falls flat between them. They both sigh.

Min Yoongi is not an unreasonable man. He’d even say he’s something of a romantic, a realistic idealist if such a thing exists. Knowing what you’re facing will take out the fear. These are the three facts that he cannot change for the next month:

He is for all intents and purposes Seokjin’s husband.

He will be sharing a bed with one Kim Seokjin for that duration.

Kim Seokjin, loud and confusing, who laughs with his whole body and plays the camera like it’s a game, is not the enemy, even if he feels like he’s being personally attacked every time Seokjin opens his mouth, laughs, winks at him with those faux limpid eyes. God save him.

Seokjin’s unexpectedly warm next to him, smelling of cotton and wet sand and approximately 3 inches away. 

Yoongi sighs again.

 


 

“Congratulations to our lovely newlyweds, have you ever seen a couple so in love!”

Footage plays of Min Yoongi and Kim Seokjin as they stare forward, avoiding eye contact as they unpack their suitcases side by side. Slow motion footage plays as their hands brush for the briefest of seconds. Oh what romance! Saccharine strings swell as blush stripes appear on a grimacing Min Yoongi.

“What a bashful couple! Lets see how they’ll fare on their first official outing: their honeymoon! We’ve looked through your votes and we’ve chosen some of the best date ideas so we have a jam-packed day full of laughter, competition, and a little love. Are you guys ready?”

Yoongi blinks back into the camera and gives a short nod and smile. Seokjin bows and with as much cheer as he can muster at 8 am: “Let’s go!”

 


 

The bowling alley is in the style of a charmingly run-down American 80’s diner, all neon lights and tacky primary colors. Frazzled employees with clip-on mullet extensions run around, trying to accommodate the production team.

It wasn't so long ago that Yoongi remembers being in their place - hopping between several minimum wage jobs, taking long shifts over a healthy sleep schedule, as rude customers stayed past closing hours, yelled at him for rules he couldn’t change. He tries to stay out of the way, keep as accommodating as possible, so the employees and crew don’t have to babysit on top of everything else.

He sees Kim Seokjin has no qualms about that, as he flits around talking to the camera crew, the production assistants, makeup and hair. The last seem especially delighted to see Seokjin, fussing over him for a solid minute like concerned aunties. He catches a stray comment asking if he’s eating well, taking his vitamins - did Seokjin, a full grown man, need to be babied like this? Seokjin waves them off with a laugh and bends down a little, into their little huddle.

Seokjin says something, and they all break out into boisterous laughter, Seokjin bending over and slapping his knee.

Yoongi scowls. He’s too damn old to feel like the last kid picked in basketball, the kid who never got to sit at the popular lunch tables. He was captain of his high school basketball team and senior class president. He’s not about to let himself feel less than.

Once they’re mic’ed up and fixed by hair and makeup, the production team gathers them both up. The director, a wisp of a woman with a boisterous, loud voice, leans towards them.

“You guys are doing great. Remember the script! We’re going for fun, playful, entertaining. You’re handsome charming guys, you’ll know what to do.” She gives them a thumbs up.

“And oh,” she adds, “the winner will be getting free ice cream and snacks on the crew. Let’s get rolling guys!”

Yoongi shrugs. He’s pretty competitive but he already knows he’s shit at bowling, had actually thrown out his back once embarrassingly a year back trying to heave the ball down the aisle grandpa-style. Only Namjoon and Hoseok know and he’s been able to come out of the incident relatively unscathed, just with sealed lips and an aversion to heavy balls. Not something he's itching to repeat. 

Seokjin has a strangely intense glint in his eyes. Pulling a headband out from seemingly nowhere, he slaps it around his head. He shakes out his hands and points to his own eyes, then back to Yoongi's.  

Alright then.

Yoongi goes to grab his own sparkly green ball.

An unspoken competition begins between the two of them as to who can pull off the strangest pose, though Yoongi takes care to avoid heaving it grandpa style again.

The game starts out pretty even, as they get around 5 to 6 pins each for the first couple of rounds. Then, a distinct point is reached where it becomes obvious that while Seokjin is getting better, Yoongi is arguably getting worse.

Yoongi can’t take it too seriously, but it does smart a little when Seokjin is pulling off funny poses and getting strikes and laughter from the crew, whereas his own 2 to 3 pins garners laughter, but a little more of the pitying kind.

It doesn’t really bother him until he catches Seokjin smiling after a particularly horrific gutter ball that has Yoongi’s bowling ball bouncing into the next lane. It garners a big laugh, but he can’t focus on it, only on Seokjin’s gloating.

He stares back at Seokjin, who looks away. Usually it’d be easy to brush aside, but Seokjin’s easy banter into the camera, his teasing confidence, confirm it for him.  

A joke. That’s what Seokjin thinks he is.

Kim Seokjin, polite and shallow and arrogant, who takes nothing but his own enjoyment and happiness seriously. It puts him on edge. Maybe they’ll be able to pass the month like this, speaking only to each other when they’re on camera into the camera.

He beats Yoongi, 137 to 54.

Seokjin doesn’t look at him as he accepts the win, bowing and gesticulating grandly.

“I’d like to thank my mother, my father, my brother for getting me here. I couldn’t have done it without them, their strength and belief in me. And of course, my husband.”

Seokjin sniffs and then attacks the proffered ice cream scoop with vigor.

Yoongi very deliberately does not look at the cream smeared all over Seokjin’s mouth. He goes to put the bowling balls back.

 


 

They toggle through the list of songs on the machine in stuffed silence. The room is small enough already, meant for short-term use by couples visiting only for an hour or so. It’s made even smaller by the stifling silence between the two of them, the menu loading music the only thing audible. Seokjin knows they’ll probably edit this down much shorter later anyways, so he doesn’t feel the need to say anything. He’s not really even sure what to say. 

Usually, this type of stuff came naturally to him – he could crack a pun (Yoongi had just stared blankly across him over lunch and asked him to pass the vinegar), he could strike up something they shared in common like music (only he feels much too self-conscious to do that, feels small in the face of Yoongi’s vast knowledge of music; he’d only make a fool of himself), he could just not say anything at all and smile encouragingly so Yoongi could say something instead (Yoongi had just glanced and turned away, turning even colder, so he’d stopped saying anything at all).

It’s not even as if Yoongi’s particularly rude. He answers Seokjin’s questions, but in a way that screams that he’d rather be anywhere else but here. Seokjin agrees at this point. He supposes the editing team will make everything seem fine in post, maybe coy and shy rather than awkward and hostile, but that isn’t his problem anymore.

When he tunes back in, Yoongi’s flipped over to the Japanese music section, a selection of J-rock and J-pop songs, with more than a good number of anime openings sprinkled in. He pauses ever so slightly longer on “CORE PRIDE” before shuffling on.

“Oh, have you seen Ao No Exorcist?” Seokjin blurts out. 

“Oh yeah, just the first season. I really liked the soundtrack though, so I have all of their songs downloaded.” Yoongi's voice is caught off guard, hesitant.

“It’s really good right? I tried to pick up the electric guitar afterwards, but I couldn’t pull off the riffs half as well. I don’t have enough hair to be able to head-bang well.” He mimics flipping a load of hair over his shoulder.

At that, Yoongi gives him a surprised, pleased smile. Small, minuscule practically, but a start.

“You play?”

“The electric, maybe about 6 months. The acoustic, I’ve been playing on and off for about 8 years? No lessons or anything though. It was my first instrument.”

“The piano was mine,” Yoongi says. “I never had lessons either.” He pauses. "Though if I’m being honest, the triangle was my first instrument. I’ve never looked back.”

Seokjin smiles. “We could’ve formed a band."

Yoongi laughs, a small huff.

For the first time, Seokjin pauses, reconsiders. Min Yoongi, maybe less of a mystery and maybe more about patience. Repeated efforts.

Yoongi scratches his head and toggles back, looks up at Seokjin.

“Did you wanna do this one?”

“Let’s do it. And then you can pick the next one.”

Yoongi nods and selects it, as they wait for the opening music to finish and the lyrics to appear on screen.

Immediately, Seokjin feels the automatic pinpricks of embarrassment needling in, at the prospect of singing in front of a practical stranger, if not the entire world too. But he pushes past it as he’s learned to, as he always does, and belts the opening lyrics, a little bit louder than he normally would. He starts jumping a little in place and nodding his head to the bass. 

He glances over at Yoongi to find him staring at the screen, smiling and failing to hide it.

That’s what he’s looking for. It urges Seokjin on, makes him let go a little more of the embarrassment shading his face maroon, and sing even harder.

The character is easy to slip into - this is what he was chasing when he picked up the electric guitar, why he went to underground shows in Gwacheon, why he kept up with singing even if just in the comfort of his own house. Invincibility and vulnerability feeding into each other, until they’re tangled up to the point of being indistinguishable.

By the chorus, Yoongi has joined in, his voice deep and raspy, different than his rapping - more nasal-y, lighter. Like he isn’t taking it too seriously, indulging both Seokjin and himself. It makes his chest lurch strangely, heart going too slow and then too fast, double-time.   

The song comes to an end. Seokjin’s breathing harder than he thought he’d be. He turns to Yoongi right as he turns away, both catching the tail glance at each other.

Yoongi snorts. Then they’re both laughing, breathlessly and self-consciously. Yoongi turns to smile at him, a self-deprecating tilt to his lips, and Seokjin beams back, feeling a little bit lighter, the warmth of Yoongi’s gaze undeniable.

“Alright, your turn." 

Yoongi goes back and toggles through a few, settling on an old Epik High song.

“Can you rap, Seokjin-ssi?”

“Oh, get ready to take notes Suga-nim. Maybe one day you can strive to be this good.”

Yoongi scrunches his nose and selects the song, inching that much closer.

 


 

Seokjin gets ready first in their shared bathroom. His face lotions and concealers, already unpacked on the counter, look unfamiliar next to Yoongi's face masks and cologne.

He smiles. They have the same brand of strawberry face masks.

Yoongi’s already asleep when he comes back to the bedroom. It leaves Seokjin a foot away in the dark, adrift in the cold ocean of the sheets. He’s tired but he can’t sleep. He’s not used to the quiet; he falls asleep every night to chirping and chittering, and the silence is disquieting. There’s a homesickness rearing up in his chest, but for what, he’s not sure.

He gets up, grabs the cigarettes he packed into the hidden compartment of his carry-on. The camera's red lights blinked off an hour ago.

He grabs a blanket and drapes it around himself as he slips onto the balcony. It's freezing outside but Seokjin's glad for it, even as it wakes him up more - his head finally feels clear, his own. He settles down on the ground, pulling the blanket securely around him like a cocoon.

He stares out through the bars of the railing into the quiet suburban neighborhood. Beyond, he can see the glittering lights of the skyscrapers, but here, he feels alone in the middle of nowhere, all around him a deep ink.

He pulls out the cigarettes, balances one in his mouth.

Fuck. He forgot the lighter inside. He's finally comfortable on the ground though, and he doesn't want to get up. He takes it out of his mouth. 

"Need a lighter?" Yoongi's voice is soft, but cuts through the stillness of the night. His face appears in the crack of the balcony door, a pale, calm moon. 

He gestures vaguely and comes back a second later with a similar blanket draped around his shoulders, settling next to Seokjin's huddled form.

Seokjin shakes his head, pulling his knees up. He drops the crumpled pack in the space between them. He’ll never hear the end of it from his manager if he starts again now.

He doesn’t do it too often anymore - an old habit picked up from his ex in university, one he never quite shook. He’d gotten used to the smell saturated into his pillow, still sometimes expects it when he sinks into that half-conscious state between dreaming and wakefulness. He hates to admit it but it helps him sleep sometimes, when it gets particularly bad. 

“Ah right, I suppose you can't. Nation’s sweetheart Kim Seokjin,” Yoongi says quietly, caught between serious and teasing. He’s faced forward, though his eyes dart to look at Seokjin again, quickly. 

"That's worldwide sweetheart Kim Seokjin to you.” He adjusts the blanket up higher, tighter. "I haven’t smoked seriously since university, I had to stop once I got signed to BH,” he says, looking ahead.

A lot of people think he’s the face he puts on – clean-cut, friendly, shallow, maybe a little stupid. He’s worked hard to get to where he’s at. He thinks he doesn’t get to resent it, being seen as who he presents to be, but it chafes sometimes, like a ribbon you don’t know you have wrapped around your limbs, yanking you back when you move a little too far out of reach.

"How was that?"

"What, smoking?"

"No, university."

"I enjoyed it for what it was worth. I really liked learning about film theory and everything, and it gave me opportunities I wouldn't have had, so I can't be ungrateful.”

"Hm." Yoongi's face is thoughtful.

"I actually met Namjoon there in music theory my first year. He was studying World Literature, before he dropped out to do music production full-time. And he and Hobi have been together forever so, package deal." 

Yoongi stares ahead, his pensive look morphed into something else. He smiles, a strange half-moon thing.

"Small world. I met them through a show, but I think I remember Nams still being in university at the time. I never went, but he seemed to enjoy it so. He still had that goddawful perm."

They both snort.

Despite it all, Seokjin feels lucky to be sitting here, tied together by the luck of the universe and immense hard work and a group of anchors, keeping them afloat together in their world.

“Fucking weird, right?” Seokjin says.

Yoongi turns to him with a grin that softens into a quiet laugh after a moment. It makes him look softer, younger than his years. Seokjin thinks he can glimpse the Yoongi Namjoon met all those years ago, teasing voice and hopeful fire in those eyes, ready to take on the world.

“Yeah,” Yoongi agrees, his posture relaxing a little. He’s close now. Seokjin could reach an arm out and bump into the warmth of his chest. He smells like warm sap, wood, a hidden spice.

“We could’ve run into each other before, and we would’ve never known?” Yoongi asks, quirking an eyebrow.

Seokjin nods, tilts his head. “Maybe.”

“What do you think you would've been doing if you weren't here?" Seokjin asks.

"Probably the same thing. I can't imagine myself doing anything but music," Yoongi answers, brows furrowed.

"How about you? If you didn't do acting?" Yoongi asks back.

Seokjin looks back out at the glittering lights, far away, blown-out from this distance. He could imagine a hundred different lives, but this was the one he was dealt. No, this was the one he worked for.

"I don't know. Maybe a pet groomer."

They look at each other.

Yoongi pulls out his phone, holds it out for Seokjin to see. His lock wallpaper is of a brown poodle, rushing the camera so its face takes up about 80% of the screen. Yoongi looks a little bit shy, a lot bit proud.

"I'll book Holly an appointment right now Kim Seokjin-ssi."

 


 

INTERVIEW:

"How was your honeymoon Min Yoongi-ssi?" 

"It was fun. I'm not very-” Yoongi scratches his head. “I'm not used to having this part of my life public, so it wasn't exactly how I imagined my real honeymoon to go, but Seokjin-hyung.. is a good partner. I trust him to know where we’re going.”

“How was your honeymoon Kim Seokjin-ssi?”

"Extremely satisfying. Sorry you had to censor most of it.” Seokjin says very seriously, and then busts up. There's a sigh off-camera. "Even though we have a lot to learn about each other, I feel as if we're quite similar characters. I look forward to learning more about Kim Yoongi." Seokjin smiles at the camera.

  


  

"The first task of any newlywed couple is to see how well they operate together in the domestic sphere: how they communicate, distribute and share chores, cook in the kitchen. Seeing as this is the first time they've shared space, let's see how our newlyweds are doing."

 

Yoongi and Seokjin are still asleep in bed - well Yoongi wasn't asleep but he was more than content to let them believe he was, to press his face into the sleep-warm blanket and curl closer to the center of the bed, the warmth.

Their scheduled production plan for the day included a full day of activities. Yoongi's already exhausted thinking about it. 

The good news: since the theme was domesticity, almost all of the activities were to take place indoors which meant no cameramen, just their usual lavalier mics.

The bad news: it meant that all the cameras stationed indoors were recording and would later be looked over, which meant that it was only an illusion of privacy they were gifted.

All the more reason to stay in bed until the end of the day.

Seokjin's head peeks out of the comforter: his hair, forehead, his angry-sloped eyebrows, his puffy, closed eyes. There's a weird lurch to Yoongi’s stomach looking at him, at such an intimate picture of a practical stranger. Seokjin opens his eyes and Yoongi tries not to startle back, flicks his eyes up at the ceiling. Seokjin laughs, hoarse and small into the blanket, and Yoongi sheepishly brings his eyes to Seokjin’s eyebrows, caught.

They share a glance; Seokjin's still a little bit sleep-soft, pillow-creased cheeks, messy flat hair; but his eyes are sharp, belying a studied negligence that hides something more. What that is, Yoongi doesn't know, doesn't know if he's allowed to know.

He's too tired to read into it, just lets his body operate on instinct as he inches slightly closer to Seokjin's warmth. Seokjin raises his eyebrows and glances at the top corner of the room, where they both know a camera has been installed.

"If we both pretend to be asleep, they can't do anything right," Seokjin whispers.

"Right," Yoongi whispers back, straight-faced. "Let's just stay here all day."

"I knew I married you for a reason," Seokjin says and yawns, the two of them sharing an awkward, small smile, conspirators together in this, at least.

The peace is broken by a bull-horn that rings throughout the house, causing Seokjin to yell and flinch out of bed, pulling the comforter with him to the floor. Yoongi groans, the morning air flooding in like ice and pulling goosebumps up.

"NEWLY-WEDS, ARE YOU READY?"

"Fuck." Seokjin's voice is muffled from either the floor or the comforter, and Yoongi couldn't agree more.

 


 

"So what do you usually do on your day off?"

Seokjin watches Yoongi fry up some eggs, scoop some rice out into a bowl.

"Sleep," Yoongi says deadpan, but for the first time Seokjin thinks, not meanly.

After a few seconds, "I usually try to walk Holly in the mornings. If I have time, I'll go grocery shopping for the week, cook, and then usually spend the rest of the day in the studio."

"Producing? Is there anything you're working on?"

"I'm always working on something, as long as I have my midi and laptop," Yoongi says.

He plates breakfast in front of Seokjin and grabs utensils for him. It strikes him as an unfamiliar gesture, yanking at a feeling of homesickness he has in his chest, but he pushes past it. He's just too used to taking care of other people; it feels strange for someone else to do it for him, especially from someone he feels like he can't get a read on.

"Do you do anything like that?" Yoongi asks.

Seokjin drops his chopsticks. "What, writing music?"

"Yeah. You play the guitar and you have a nice voice." Yoongi smiles like he's joking, but levels him with a direct stare. Yoongi, for all that he avoids eye contact and affects aloofness, has the disarming ability to see exactly where it matters.

"I’m pretty busy with acting these days."

He doesn’t think he’s ready to share his lyrics with the world quite yet. Yoongi doesn't acknowledge it, but he doubts it got past him.

“Ah. Well, if you ever wanna talk about it, I’m here,” Yoongi says.

Seokjin wills the rising flush of pleasure and embarrassment to go down, turning to tuck into his eggs.

 


 

The day, for all Yoongi had been nervous for it, passes by deliberately and easily.

They're made to go grocery shopping together in the afternoon so they can cook a meal together for dinner. It's strangely calm - Yoongi's made to man the cart after the fifth diversion Seokjin makes from the grocery list into the snacks section, the ice cream section, the wine section (Yoongi had snuck in a bottle anyways). Seokjin still manages a detour to grab ingredients to make an unnecessarily large amount of bread, citing a recipe he found online for cinnamon bread that he wanted to try out.

They're mostly silent, save for Seokjin's occasional questions: asking him which meat selection looks better, which vegetable looks fresher, which seasonings to get. He's abruptly reminded of an old memory, of coming with his parents and brother on weekly market trips - his father carrying his mother's bags, his mother asking him which watermelon sounded riper, them holding hands in the aisles as his mother surveyed juice boxes.

Seokjin’s in the middle of stacking ramyun bags in the cart when Yoongi catches him.

"Why do you have 20 boxes in there?"

"They're on sale," Seokjin says.

“That doesn’t explain why you have 20 boxes.”

“They’re on sale,” Seokjin repeats, with emphasis.

They stare at each other.

"I'll grab another basket," Yoongi finally says, rolling up his sleeves. It is a good deal.

They arrive back relatively unscathed, though Seokjin almost tumbles over onto his face when he attempts to carry in all six bags balanced on one arm.

They cook together and it's strangely easy, even as Seokjin's sneaking tastes of Yoongi's dishes and they’re arguing over the spice levels. They rock paper scissors on who has to do the dishes. Seokjin loses and whines at Yoongi, who bickers back. They end up doing the dishes together, Seokjin washing and Yoongi drying.

Even this, which he would've begrudgingly done at home alone out of necessity, is like a little adventure. Their hands overlap when Seokjin passes him the dishes and he feels as if he's been doing this for years, a rock worn over and over by the tides of the sea.

 


  

The night shades in gradually. It’s nearing a full moon steadily, probably by the end of the week, and it filters in silver-soft.

This is their one sliver of privacy – right before getting ready until the morning again, an uninterrupted slice where the cameras are turned off. Yoongi treasures it more than he can say.

They’ve both finished getting ready, and Yoongi’s distinctly aware of Seokjin next to him, curled up with his glasses low, playing on his switch. He has his earphones in for the noise, and looks intensely focused, his lips pouting up subconsciously. Yoongi turns back to his book, the designated one for this month’s book club with Seon-woong-hyung and Eric-hyung. It’s a bit different from their usual fare, a recommendation from Namjoon - a collection of French poetry contemplating identity and truth, the changing nature of self.

He’s halfway through and has been taking notes on a cat-themed post it Hoseok got him last Christmas. It helps him remember his half-formed thoughts so he can pick them apart later, maybe scavenge them for potential lyrics. It isn’t until he reads the same poem four times in a row without absorbing anything that he thinks he should probably turn in for the night. He slots a bookmark in and turns to tuck the book on his nightstand.

He reaches up to switch his lamp off, and startles when Seokjin’s side goes dark with a click.

“Oh, you didn’t have to-“

“That’s ok, I’d be a bad roommate if I didn’t right?” Seokjin’s disembodied voice floats up from next to him, a lumpy shadow in the dark.

It's easier to settle in the dark, unintended touches brushed off as accident. Seokjin squirms around for a second, a series of cracking bones and anguished groans, before he quiets down. His foot brushes against Yoongi's for the barest of seconds, pulls away, and then draws tentatively near again.

Yoongi sleeps easily.

 


 

"So keep your knees bent a little bit- yeah like that, but your back straight still, and- WHOA!” Seokjin’s voice morphs into a yell as Yoongi slips on the ice and nearly falls back, snatching Seokjin's hand and yanking Seokjin around with him as he pinwheels his arms around to get his balance back.

Yoongi hates this.

He hates this, and it's only been 5 minutes on the ice, not including the 20 minutes it had taken to figure out how to lace up his skates. Seokjin on the other hand, had deftly laced them up and was already gliding on the ice by the time Yoongi'd barely gotten one shoe on. He'd done a little twirl, spearing across the ice in smooth, powerful lunges, and Yoongi had almost walked out of the rink then, if only for the comedic purposes of it all. It doesn't feel as funny now, gripping for dear life with one hand in Seokjin's, the other on the railing.

He barely registers Seokjin speaking next to him in soft tones, his heart still thundering in his ears. He comes back when he feels Seokjin try to detach his hand from his, gently tugging. He crushes onto it harder.

"Yoongi, I can't feel my hand."

"That's not my problem."

His voice comes out as a wheeze. He clings on harder and leans back into the railing, to try to straighten up against it. It's a little embarrassing if he's being honest, but he'd crawl out of here before he had to admit it.

Seokjin looks unfairly unruffled in his soft wool sweater, jean jacket, and bunched up scarf, a pile of white fluff haloing his neck, a soft flush across his cheeks. He's not wearing any gloves, and Yoongi frowns.

"Aren't your hands cold?"

Seokjin rolls his eyes. "Yeah, but that's why I brought heat packs in my pockets. Only my hands have been taken hostage, so now they're gonna fall off."

Yoongi leans back against the railing, making sure his foot is tucked in front of him to keep him from sliding. He pulls off his own gloves, reaches inside Seokjin's pocket to find the heat packs, and drops one in each of his gloves. He gestures for Seokjin's hand, who looks not so much confused as surprised, bringing them out hesitantly. His hands are ice cold, and Yoongi winces, feels how Seokjin’s joints are locked up and stiff. He slides the glove onto Seokjin's hand quickly, making sure to secure the bottom strings so the heat pack can't fall out.

"There, now your hands can survive. You're welcome."

The gloves slightly bulge, but his hands are bigger than Seokjin's so it should have enough room. He squeezes both hands in his to check. Seokjin looks flustered - his ears are two little strawberries poking out of his scarf. Yoongi suppresses a smile.

"Alright, ready to fall on your ass?" Seokjin interrupts, pulling one hand out of his gently, but keeping the other one cradled between the other two. Yoongi groans, but pulls himself up with a slump and relinquishes his death grip on the railing.

It's not easy to skate, but it's easy to hold onto his hands as Seokjin glides in front of him, skating backwards to lead him ahead. Seokjin cracks a joke and it's easy to let himself laugh, knowing that it's ok, he's supposed to look like he's enjoying himself with his "husband," so maybe he can let himself.

It's easy to forget about his embarrassment when Seokjin brags, and then subsequently is goaded into doing a triple axel. Seokjin nearly topples over landing, but catches himself at the last second, jumping back up with an excited victory yell and flourish. It's easy to get caught up in his excitement, to let himself yell back.

When they leave to return the skates, if it's easy to let his hand slip in to Seokjin's again, he's supposed to right? It's ok to enjoy the warmth of Seokjin's hand without the barrier of a bulky glove, his pleased, shy smile when Yoongi squeezes his hand.

If it's fake, then he can let himself have this.

 


 

"Have you gotten any taller since high school?" Seokjin asks, letting his face still as he taps at his chin, mock-thinking. He drifts further back in the court, away from Yoongi's swiping reach.

Yoongi stares back at him, deadpan even as he's dribbling the ball. He's dressed in a high school regulation basketball jersey and shorts, a headband propping his bangs up.

"Funny, how even with your height you're still so terrible."

Yoongi has his grumpy little face on as he turns to sink a basket.

Seokjin positions himself at the halfway point of the court. Yoongi laughs as Seokjin's ball lands 10 feet too short of the net.

"Though maybe it'd be a little easier if you weren't trying to learn how to do 3-pointers without even knowing how to shoot," Yoongi says.

"What?" Seokjin yells back, halfway back across the court.

"I SAID- never mind, just come closer!"

"WHAT?" Seokjin yells back again just for the spite of it. He hurries closer before Yoongi's fake annoyance becomes actual annoyance and bounces behind him.

"If I'm terrible, it's your fault, you're supposed to be teaching me this."

“How am I supposed to teach a gangly, tall green bean how to shoot ball?"

“You know I’m a well-proportioned dorito type, that’s slander.”

Yoongi grumbles and just tosses the ball to him, which wasn’t explicit disagreement, so Seokjin supposes he can let it go.

“Come on, show me what you got. Remember to keep your elbows loose and tucked in, that helps,” Yoongi says.

Seokjin wants to say, “I’ve been playing basketball since I was 11, I’m actually pretty good,” but what he does instead is completely whiff the ball and send it shooting towards the back of the room, bouncing away.

Yoongi’s amused huff and disbelieving smile is a thousand times more fun than actually playing anyways.

“Here, come show me,” Seokjin says, with a wink.

It’s always a toss-up to how Yoongi reacts – sometimes he’ll answer back with a responding deadpan flirty gesture like a wink or a finger heart, and once memorably, a hand kiss; other times he’ll roll his eyes and throw his hands up, like some disbelieving grandpa.

This time, he does neither and approaches Seokjin. He offers the ball out, expecting Yoongi to take it.

Yoongi slides behind him. Seokjin feels the heat of his presence, even closer as Yoongi leans in and puts his hands on Seokjin’s waist. They’re large and warm, especially so when he rubs at his waist, almost soothing if not for how intimate it feels. Seokjin feels a shiver run up through him.

“Come on,” Yoongi says, as his hands travel up to stop near his elbows, then hands, adjusting them with a surprising gentleness. Seokjin stills.

“So just hold it with one hand balanced near the back of the ball, and one under.”

“Ok.” His heart’s in his throat for some reason. He stays stock-still. He thinks there’s a joke here, but he can’t say anything, rendered silent by the solid weight behind him.

“And, shoot,” Yoongi says, gently guiding Seokjin’s arms up and the ball up, up, up, until it lands in the basket perfectly.

Seokjin wants to cheer, only Yoongi’s arms and hands are still cradled around his own, still held up in their shooting position. He wants to lean back, test the strength and warmth of that chest against his back, feel Yoongi’s hands tighten.

He clears his throat. “Can you even see past my shoulders back there, or are you on your tippy toes?”

Yoongi immediately brings his hands down to punch Seokjin in the back, though gently.

“Shut up, that was the first basket you sank all afternoon. Thank your gracious patron,” Yoongi says.

Seokjin turns around. “That’s not a denial.”

But his heart’s not in it; his heart’s still stuck tripping, over the desire to curl into Yoongi’s warmth and not leave for a long, long time.

 


 

Seokjin thinks he likes the nighttime best, secretly.

Maybe part of it is that the surveillance is more veiled, so he feels like he isn’t being watched. Maybe part of it is finally being able to relax, disengage in the house after a full day of shooting. Maybe part of it is Yoongi, who comes alive in a way he doesn’t outside. Camera Yoongi is sarcastic, sharply intelligent, prone to teasing and yelling without any of the real heat behind it. Home Yoongi is a bit quieter, more prone to smiles, random sequiturs into rambling conversations on whatever he thinks of.

Just yesterday, he’d spent an hour telling Seokjin facts about the history of urban graffiti in Seoul. It’d been fascinating and Seokjin had spent hours afterwards looking into it afterwards. Yoongi had the type of voice that arrested you in its mere quality, its quietness. That it was important, so not only was it something he cared about, but that you came to care about too.

Seokjin likes the moments between everything, where they get to sit in silence together, where he doesn’t have to worry about anything. Blanket wrapped around himself, working in his notebook of music. Yoongi’s on the other couch, nearly swallowed up by the squishy wool cushions. His headphones nearly dwarf his head, his eyes glued to his laptop and fingers tapping concentratedly.

Seokjin turns back to his page.

He’s got a verse and bridge down on one side, tentative lyrics on the other. He can hear the melody in his head but it’s hard to translate the meaning on paper, the exact feeling of longing he’s trying to evoke. He hasn’t ever wanted something that much before, except maybe his career and even then, it was less want and more necessity. The intimacy is the hardest thing to come across, the muddled ache and fear it manifests in him. 

He’s been writing so long his hand’s cramping, when Yoongi’s soft little snore breaks him out of his thoughts. His head is tipped down, weighted toward his laptop, his whole body drooping forward.

Seokjin stifles a laugh. How tempting it would be to pull Yoongi’s earphones off, bundle him up in a blanket and take pictures for blackmail later.

When Yoongi wakes up 20 minutes later with a start, he feels near sleepy himself, having watched him nap the entire time.

Yoongi turns to look at him, the lines of sleep rendering his face soft, a sweet cheeked baby or a distracted kitten. The way he stretches his limbs out with a squeak of a yawn doesn’t seem so far off.

He suddenly bolts up. “The clothes!”

The exclamation startles Seokjin into dropping his notebook.

Yoongi jumps off the couch with an incoherent stumble and disappears off. A second later, Seokjin hears the tumble of the dryer starting, then a bang followed by faint cursing.

Yoongi appears in the doorway. His hair is half slicked up from the headphones, pushed up in sleep to make him look like a half-hibernated porcupine.

“Help me fold laundry hyung?” His voice is low and sleep-heavy. Seokjin can imagine a hundred afternoons like this, ladened with habit and sunken comfort.

“Yea, of course.”

His chest aches, strangely. He suddenly feels old, but he doesn’t mind it so much. These are the types of days he can see himself happily in in the future.

“Let’s sneak out to eat later, we can cheat it one day yeah?” Seokjin says. A distraction, against the feeling of fondness, immediate and undeniable.

Yoongi grins. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

 


  

“So, what are you working on now?” Seokjin asks with a full mouth, as he shovels a crunchy roll into his mouth.

Yoongi shrugs, looks down at his own unagi roll. He picks out the tiny sliced cucumbers, lays them down on the side of the plate. Seokjin promptly picks them up with his own chopsticks, neatly piling them on his own roll before nearly unhinging his jaw and fitting three pieces in stacked together. Yoongi almost wants to applaud.

“Just some stuff for my mixtape. I’m always working on stuff, just to experiment around. I love it but I hate it you know.”

Seokjin makes an enquiring noise.

“The process is almost... painful. But necessary. Picking an infected wound open to let it heal properly. Or a reminder that you felt it, even if it hurt.”

He almost feels embarrassed - it’s a little more honest that he wanted to be - but Seokjin’s bulging cheeks, his wide eyes as he nods along, makes him want to laugh instead. It doesn’t feel as weighty when Seokjin looks at him like that, like he isn’t expecting anything.

Seokjin speaks around his bite. “Sounds kinky.”

Yoongi throws a tempura shrimp bit at him.

Seokjin’s eyes twinkle as he smiles around his hamster cheeks, which actually makes him laugh this time.

He adds, to the new levity: “And I don’t know if I’m supposed to say, but a boy group’s debut song. Think ABBA meets Ja Rule. It’s been pretty fun.” He shrugs.

Seokjin busts out into a laugh, covering his mouth to hide the partially chewed food as he cackles. “I can’t wait to hear that.”

Yoongi grins back at him, plucking up another unagi roll.

“Are you working on anything? I saw you writing in that book of yours.”

He doesn’t want to push, but he’s curious, even more so after pretending not to hear Seokjin singing in the shower. Different than noraebang, different than the way he sings to the production van’s radio. Unconsciously and happily.

Seokjin doesn’t answer for a moment, intensely snacking on some pickled ginger. Then he gives an almost audible swallow, meeting Yoongi’s eyes.

“Also just stuff I’m working on. I’ve been working on it for a while.” He admits. “I’m still an amateur, its taking me a while to put everything I want to paper,” he says with a near hidden self-consciousness.

Yoongi nods in understanding.

“It never really gets any easier for me. But it’s just a matter of need, I think. There are some things I just need to tell, to manifest into the world. If only to hold myself accountable to it.” He smiles wryly.  

Seokjin nods. “A record of how you felt. For the things you need to tell, but can’t tell,” he says. “Except to thousands of people of course.”

Yoongi shrugs back. “Exactly.”

“If it matters, I’d love to hear your song Jin-hyung. Whenever it’s ready. Amateur or not, I know you’re capable of amazing things,” Yoongi says. He wills the blush he feels crawling up his neck down, trying to keep his tone matter of fact.

It’s not quite a lie, what he said before. It is actually easier for him to say on paper, but it’s not easy regardless, for him to be open like this. To himself, in his journal, in a song to thousands of his fans, on camera in an interview even - the words come easily. To the face of someone he wakes up to every morning, that he falls asleep next to, that he feels contradictorily, wondrously drawn to, it’s almost impossible.

But not quite. And he’s always been one to never listen to odds, to the impossibility of things.  

Seokjin nods back, the tips of his ears red.

“You’ll be the first person I show,” he says quietly, in an undertone, not quite like a joke, not quite like a promise. But inaudible to anyone but them, just for them.

They share a look. There’s something eroding here, the last of any resistance Yoongi had put up dissolving away. Seokjin, pink-cheeked and with a bit of rice stuck to the corner of his mouth, smiles back at him. He feels his heart skip a beat.

Seokjin ducks his head, piling more unagi rolls onto Yoongi’s plate.

“C’mon eat up, you’re a growing boy, you need all the food you can get.”

And it’s the easiest thing in the world to hide his laughter under a scowl and grumpily pile the rest of his sliced cucumbers onto Seokjin’s plate, watch him eat happily and easily.

 


 

“Our couples next adventure: to plan the perfect date. Let’s see how they do.”

 

“Are you ready to be woo’ed off your feet Kim Yoongi-ssi?”

“We’re married Jin-hyung. The romance is dead already.”

“Wow, well it will be if you keep on talking that way! Just see if I’ll take you out to my spectacular date now.”

“Oh no, what will I do. Please take me back hyung.”

“That’s better.”

 


 

“First off: Seokjin-ssi. According to our inside sources (Kim Seokjin) he’s planning to go a little hands-on with his date. Painting and a movie, truly a man of culture!”

 

“Alright, now just paint how you feel. Channel that emotion.” The art instructor gestures vaguely in the air.

Seokjin looks up from his easel, across at Yoongi, who’s concentratedly looking down at his own palette. They meet eyes as Seokjin tries very deliberately to spell out with his stare: what the fuck are we supposed to be doing? Or alternatively, did you get my best angle?

Yoongi blinks back at him and gestures with his paint brush. Seokjin gestures back exasperatedly and goes back to his canvas.

They’re supposed to be painting each other; only the art instructor found out very quickly that neither he nor Yoongi have any sort of artistic talent in this field. After seeing their first attempts, their instructor had encouraged surrealism, to channel more of the emotions and thoughts that the other provoked rather than a hyper realistic portrayal.

Seokjin doesn’t know if he should be insulted or grateful.

He looks down at the stick figure he’s painted of Yoongi and Holly, more a collection of curly scribbles in the vague shape of a dog who dwarfs him at least twice over. He deems Yoongi a lost cause and goes to color Holly a deep brown.

When the instructor calls them to reveal their pictures 10 minutes later, he can’t hide his little grimace of laughter at each of their paintings. Yoongi has done a similar stick-man inspired portrait, though admittedly with a little more effort thrown in. At the top, written “Seokjinnie,” a lopsided-face with shaded in bangs and absurdly large shoulders. His sugar gliders are drawn perched on each shoulder.

Yoongi looks over at his and nods, tapping Holly’s picture nose. “A perfect likeness.”

“You can take it home as a commissioned work for him.”

“He’ll probably destroy it. To protect humanity you see.”

“Ah, it lived a good life.”

“A moment of silence,” Yoongi dips his head down.

“And look,” Seokjin says, “You drew two yous perched on my shoulders, how precious.”

“How could I not draw me and my husband?”

Seokjin slaps him on the stomach, so he doesn’t see the grin threatening to break out onto his face.

 


 

Yoongi tries not to let the ambiance get to him. Darkened room, a bucket of popcorn, and scant inches between his and Seokjin’s arm, their hands separated by just an inch more.

The movie theatre’s been entirely rented out, perks of a large production budget and star power. It’s just them, save the night-vision cameras positioned on all sides of the theater. It’s easy to think they’re alone though, when all he can hear is Seokjin fidgeting next to him, chomping on popcorn, making little inquisitive noises at each trailer.

“How many movies of sad, grizzled cops trying to avenge their family do we need?” Seokjin whispers to him.

“Apparently five,” he whispers back.

It feels simple though being next to Seokjin. It’s easy to sit back and just absorb the trailers. It’s easy to make teasing remarks to him about the bad CGI, the cheesy plots, to listen to him laugh and tease them too with him.

When the movie theatre fully darkens, he straightens up. A buzz of anticipation settles over him - he’s interested to see what the movie is, had teased Seokjin that he wanted to see what a film major would pick: an action flick? a pretentious art film? a cheesy romance?

He knows the production team will want them to play it up, for accidental popcorn bucket hand holding or for him to put his arm around Seokjin’s shoulders. If he could even reach that far around, he imagines Seokjin saying with a laugh, bending down to lay his head against Yoongi’s shoulder. His stomach swoops worryingly.

The film starts slowly enough.

A lonely old woman, separated from family and friends, lives on the edge of a forest. She is a little rude, full of spitfire and practicality, tough as nails even as she comes home alone to an empty house. The local grocery man seems to pine after her, leaving her extra oranges and loaves of bread in her bag on her weekly grocery runs. She feeds them to the stray cats in her yard. Yoongi likes her a lot.

She begins to hear voices. First, she thinks an errant radio, a TV forgotten. Then, the voices emerge from the kitchen tiles to the shower walls to her bedroom, low and unintelligible. She first thinks herself paranoid, then insane. In the second half, she realizes she’s being haunted by a malevolent being - cruel, out for revenge.

From that point on Yoongi doesn’t remember too much. He’s got his eyes half obscured by his hands, half by his own squinted eyes. He can’t help flinching at every jump scare though, his own fear magnified by Seokjin’s screaming next to him.

The old woman is chased into her basement, driven almost crazy by the voices. Then suddenly, silence. She waits in the dark, hands trembling around a shotgun pressed against her chest. She waits and waits and waits, until it seems like she’s safe.

Then, a sudden violin sting, as the spirit attacks her, shrieking fury and betrayal.

He gives a strangled yell. Seokjin nearly dives into his lap, screaming murder. The bucket of popcorn goes flying.

Yoongi must’ve passed out for a few seconds. When he comes to, Seokjin’s quivering over him and from over his shoulder, the old woman’s crying over a clutched picture - her daughter, the spitting image of the haunted spectre. She’s embraced from behind, as she tips her head back and lets herself fall.

His heart’s still pounding by the time the movie ends. He feels light-headed when he stands up. Seokjin doesn’t look much better, clutching to his sleeve and looking pale. They waddle out together, weak-kneed.

From his side, Seokjin faintly whispers, “I thought it was going to be a romantic comedy.”

 


 

“And now, Min Yoongi-ssi’s run at the bat! He’s planned a one-stop shop: a picnic at the park with live music, a true romantic! Oh, with the beautiful weather too, let’s see what Seokjin-ssi thinks.”

 

“Yowch!” Seokjin complains, grabbing his chest.

Already he can feel the bite itching, probably turning his chest a furious red with how hard he’s rubbing through his shirt. He knew he shouldn’t have worn a low-cut shirt, only it was the first cool evening they’ve had in weeks and he was itching to feel the breeze again.

“I think I just got bitten on my left boob.”

Yoongi looks a mixture of guilty and exasperated as he gestures towards a crew member for mosquito spray. A production assistant scrambles off into the distance.

10 minutes later and he’s saturated with a minty menthol smell, clogging his nose. Yoongi’s making a valiant effort not to scrunch up his face at the smell, one that he promptly gives up 10 seconds in, and then he just looks like a grumpy cat so Seokjin can’t be too mad at that.

Seokjin feels kind of bad. From what he can see, Yoongi actually seemed to put a lot of work into this. They’re seated on a flower quilt in a secluded area of the park. It’d been sectioned off for shooting, but not so far away that they can’t hear the live band, just over the crest of the hill.

All around him are small tupperware containers of various side dishes, little finger sandwiches, fresh seafood pasta, sliced fruit, a packed thermos of iced lemonade and another of hot chocolate.

He picks at a small triangle sandwich, the crusts cut off. Ham and cheese, a thin layer of mayo and the smallest lettuce leaf he’s seen.

“Did you make all of these?”

Yoongi’s pouring out little plastic mugs of lemonade. He’s looking down when he replies, “Did I? I don’t remember.”

Seokjin squints suspiciously. Yoongi raises his head and stares nonchalantly back, giving away nothing.

He puts on his best simpering voice. “Thanks honey. I knew I married you for a reason.”

That breaks through the shell of Yoongi’s face. He rolls his eyes.

“That joke’s getting old, much like you,” he says, even as he’s red-cheeked and smiling.

Seokjin smiles, pleased, as he tucks into the little sandwiches. Yoongi makes plates for both of them, with a little bit of everything. If it weren’t for the massive cameras stationed 20 feet away, it’d almost feel startlingly like a date. Nobody’s ever cooked for him, but Yoongi.

The breeze picks up, ruffling the leaves around them. Distantly, he hears the familiar strains of piano, a guitar gently joining in, forming a melody he knows all too well. 

“Is that my OST?”

Yoongi gives a noncommittal hum, as he shrugs.

“The band was taking requests.”

Seokjin feels something strange settle in his stomach, spread up to his chest, a sense of weightlessness.

Indigestion? No he hardly ate anything all day, heartburn? Could he already have it by the tender age of 27? Maybe he'd look it up on WebMD later.

“They’re a local band here, I’ve listened to some of their stuff on Soundcloud. Really promising. They do this every week, I thought it’d be good timing with this, so,” Yoongi says, taking a petite bite of his sandwich.  

Seokjin finds himself singing under his breath, effortlessly happy as he is when surrounded by good food, music, people. The way Yoongi looks at him when he sings - he doesn’t think anyone’s ever looked at him that way. It’s overwhelming, how much he wants Yoongi to only ever look at him like that.

The band plays on, as Seokjin sips on his hot chocolate and they talk periodically, listen more often. The two of them sit, incrementally inching towards each other as the sun sets to the horizon, dips below, settles them closer in darkness.

“Hey, do you want to hear them better?”

Yoongi’s voice breaks through his haze of peace. It’s whispered, soft, and above all, mischievous. His eyes flash a moon silver as he smirks up at Seokjin.

Seokjin nods, never one to back down from a challenge.

Yoongi immediately groans, loudly, and begins complaining of a stomach ache. The production manager comes closer, gestures at the food. Yoongi bends over, arms wrapped around his stomach, pounding a fist to the floor.

“I’ll literally blow if I can’t get to a toilet right now, I need to go,” he yells loudly. Seokjin nearly spits out the apple slice in his mouth.

The producer’s called over, who immediately gestures to cut the cameras.

Seokjin can barely stifle his laughter as Yoongi is gingerly approached by two queasy production assistants, picking him up like he’s an infected tissue wipe, and towed to a nearby building. Yoongi complains that he needs Seokjin there with him, and they hesitantly gesture for him to follow. Seokjin nearly shoves a napkin in his mouth and tries not to lose it.

He trots after them, as the two PAs deposit Yoongi in the bathroom and hurriedly escape.

Yoongi turns to him, blushing and sly looking, and Seokjin can’t help himself then, collapses against him in helpless giggles. How many layers did Min Yoongi have, and what a pleasure it was to see it peeled back one at a time.

When they finally quiet down, Yoongi brings out two face masks and a bucket hat from his absurdly large pant pockets. He settles the bucket hat on himself and takes off his own jacket to hand to Seokjin.

“A shitty disguise, but it’s all we got,” Yoongi says.

The jacket feels expensively well-made and surprisingly soft, steeped in pine aftershave and orange spiced laundry detergent. It smells like sinking into a hot, warm bath outside. He pulls it on and immediately feels a little drowsy, comfort and warmth settling around him.

Yoongi looks in thought, his eyes roaming Seokjin’s form. Lips pressed together in a thin line, sharp intense gaze, blotchy red cheeks. Was he cold now actually? Yoongi did seem like he got cold easily, if how he dressed in overly large jackets and beanies seemed to indicate.

He makes to take the jacket back off and Yoongi shakes his head, settles his hands on Seokjin’s shoulders, slides them down, down, down - forearms, elbows, wrists, hands - a whispering brush of warmth through the fabric, gone as quickly as the thought.

The two emerge from the bathroom. They look not unlike two goth boyfriends out for a stroll in the park. They walk undetected by the crew, all the way up the hill and melt into the crowd of people waiting in front of the band.

They look like college kids maybe, each girl clutching a different instrument, dressed in matching berets of different colors. They look energetic, happy in front of the growing crowd. Seokjin thinks he can see why Yoongi seemed so passionate about them. They look ready to eat the world alive.

Beside him, Yoongi seems to be vibrating, out of either the cold or excitement or both. Seokjin grabs his hand. He means it as a reassurance, a shared sense of excitement communicated in that moment. Only, the band begins playing and he kind of forgets to stop until the song’s ended and he tries to clap in applause, hauling Yoongi’s hand between his. Even in his grasp, Yoongi’s hands are large and cold, and Seokjin holds them between his, wishes that he had his hot packs with him. He holds their pressed hands together to his cheek, hoping to warm their hands up faster. He looks over at Yoongi, who looks back at him with an unreadable expression.

He looks away after a second. Seokjin finds himself grabbing Yoongi’s hand back even as they sneak back on set, the producer shouting at them a little hysterically and a lot worriedly. It’s easy to keep holding on, even as the cameras continue rolling. That’s what everyone wants isn’t it?

He doesn’t have to think about why he wants it so much too.

 


  

“So,” Hoseok says, grinning. “How’s married life?”

“Fantastic,” Seokjin answers promptly. “You mean you can legally force somebody to financially take care of you and carry your grocery bags? I should’ve been building a harem this whole time.”

“That’s me, glorified bag carrier number 6,” Yoongi says.

“That’s why I married Joonie too.” Namjoon interlocks Hoseok’s hand with his.

“Hey! No being more romantic than us, it’s our show! Quick, give me a back massage Yoongi.”

“Are you sure this isn’t just a ploy to get a massage?”

“Of course it is, now do it for TV.”

“I’ll do it if you do the dishes next time.”

“Fine, fine not like you do it anyways.” Seokjin has a sly teasing look to his face.

“We do it together! Who was it that forgot to separate your shirt from the whites. My dress shirts are all orange now.”

“Hey!” Seokjin looks faux outraged. “It was an accident Min Yoongi! Whereas how do you accidentally forget to put the dishes away when I’m right next to you.”

“Wow,” Namjoon says. “You weren’t kidding, you’re actually married.”

“Dedication to the craft Nams,” Yoongi says.

Thankfully, the waiter comes over to take their order. Yoongi isn’t sure he likes the crafty way Hoseok is looking at him, half curiosity and half smugness.

Namjoon orders for the group, a mixture of side dishes, meat skewers, noodles, and grilled meat. Hoseok says it’s because he likes variety. Namjoon says it’s because he can’t make a decision. And they have the nerve to talk about their domesticity.

“Oh, can we also add on an order of lamb skewers? Extra cumin please, thank you,” Seokjin says.

“Oh, thanks,” Yoongi says. He ignores the way Namjoon casts a glance over at him, eyebrows raised.

Yoongi supposes he’s glad Hoseok waits until the drinks come to really dig in. A beer might make this pass more easily. But soju makes Hoseok rowdy and he suddenly wonders if this was a good idea to have broadcasted after all.

“So,” Hoseok says, and he turns to Seokjin. “What’s our Yoongs like as a husband? You know, he used to be quite the playboy.”

Seokjin laughs delightedly and leans towards Hoseok. Yoongi sputters and shoves a hand between their faces.

“How does a string of bad dates set up by you and Nams count?”

“Yoongs there are only so many gay men in Seoul. What were we supposed to do, wait for you to wither and die of old age?”

“Yes please, leave my corpse there to rot peacefully.”

“Ah that’s my husband,” Seokjin says, patting his shoulder.

“Meanwhile me and Hobi used to keep bets on how many free drinks Seokjin could score us at disco night on the Hill,” Namjoon says. “Date nights are a whole lot more fun when they’re funded by smarmy, horny dudes.”

“Our beautiful little bait,” Hoseok says, framing Seokjin’s face with his hands.

“What were the most drinks you got in one night?” Yoongi asks.

“...16,” Seokjin says. He seems a little sheepish.

“Now, that’s my husband,” Yoongi says, mimicking wiping a tear from his eyes.

Seokjin giggles and bumps shoulders with him. The waiter appears, and the conversation is broken apart by the arrival of several steaming dishes. Seokjin immediately goes for the meat.

Yoongi plates some of the eggplant onto Seokjin’s plate, and a few extra pieces of broccoli next to his slowly accumulating, already massive pile of grilled beef.

“You know you can actually eat vegetables right?”

“I shan’t. My body takes a very delicate balance of soju and bulgogi to function properly.”

Yoongi shoves a cabbage piece into his mouth. Seokjin chews it happily.

The night passes quicker than he’d like it to. Yoongi wouldn’t admit it without at least 2 drinks in him, but he’s really missed them. Nobody understands him like Namjoon, and nobody makes him feel quite as comfortable as Hoseok. Seokjin fits in seamlessly - but he supposes that’s because he was there all along, the invisible yet tangible presence he didn’t realize was missing until he sees them all together, sees what he could’ve had this entire time.

Namjoon’s in the middle of a long story about him, Seokjin, and a costume contest turned into a stolen identity fiasco when Hoseok leans towards Yoongi, and says in an undertone: “Oh Yoongs, do you think you can go next door and buy some more soju? They’re out here.”

He nods, wipes his mouth. “Alright.”

It isn’t until he’s in the convenience store next door that he thinks it a little suspicious. Hoseok and Namjoon hardly ever choose to drink soju - they’re very partial to fruit flavored sakes and very sweet wines. But he can’t judge. They’re already on the way to tipsy, maybe they just wanted to have a fun night.

The selection isn't too great, but that’s what they get for getting the last pickings of the night. He makes sure to pick up some of the really sweet crap for them - peach brandies and yogurt soju; and normal soju and beer for him and Seokjin.

One of the employees lets him through the back door this time. He hears them before he sees them.

“So, what are your intentions with our hyung?” Hoseok says.

“Aiysh, I’m your hyung too!” Seokjin sounds a little indignant, but mostly amused.

“Don’t ignore the question!” Namjoon says.

“Ah Joon, what are you even saying, I’m not some villain out to steal his virtue! He’s my fake husband. For a reality show. And you were my friend first! What is this,” Seokjin says. Yoongi can imagine the grumpy look on his face startlingly well; only a little bit annoyance and a lot of bluster.

“Hobi’s not disputing that! But you have to take care of our Yoongi-hyung’s heart, he’s very fragile. Like a slightly smushed package, or a melting ice sculpture of an angry goose. Do you know what I mean?” Namjoon says.

“I’m a fragile package too! I’m the most fragile package there is!” Seokjin yells.

“Maybe Yoongi shouldn’t have gone to get more drinks,” Hoseok says with a groan.

Yoongi supposes there’s no better time for an entrance. There’s an embarrassment, prickling sharp at the back of his neck. He feels like he’s listening to his parents unsuccessfully interrogate his partner. Only his partner is actually several small children in a trench-coat or some sort of imposter who sounds and looks exactly like Seokjin, but won't leave by the end of the month. He doesn’t want him to leave.

On second thought, maybe he’s a little drunk too.

He appears behind Namjoon and Hoseok, gesturing to Seokjin to stay quiet. Hoseok’s leaning heavily on Namjoon, who’s swaying slightly.

He whaps Namjoon and Hoseok across the heads with his paper receipt.

“Stop interrogating my husband.”

He drops into the booth next to Seokjin again. He ends up a lot closer, mostly by accidental resettling. Before he can move away, Seokjin puts a hand on his thigh, leans in.

“Didn’t you know I’m a 1000 year succubus out to drain your life force?”

“Oh yeah. What about it?”

Seokjin grins, his eyes crinkling up.

“If we didn’t meddle with your life, you wouldn’t have anything to complain about Yoongs. We love you.” Hoseok makes a kissy grabby motion towards him.

He’s not sure if Hoseok’s motioning towards his face or the bag of alcohol, but he supposes the sentiment is the same. Namjoon sends him a very sincere finger heart, right next to his dimple for maximum effect. That, more than anything, clues him in to how drunk they really are.  

“Alright drunk ducklings,” he says. “I’ll call a cab back for you guys.”

“Thank you angry goose,” Namjoon says, and then slumps into Hoseok’s shoulder.

They have one last toast before they go. It might be a bad idea for Namjoon and Hoseok tomorrow morning, but Yoongi bought the alcohol, he’ll be damned if it’ll all go to waste.

“To love and joint taxes!” they cheer.

Yoongi feels a twinge of longing and sorrow, the bruise that settled in sometime this evening at the image of Seokjin, happy and a little drunk and effortlessly slotted into the most intimate parts of his life. And in a week, effortlessly gone again, like he’d never been there.

The production crew wraps up the last of their b-rolls and clean-up an hour later. They leave a cab on retainer for all of them and tell them to rest up.

“We’ll let you have tomorrow as a free day, to sleep it off,” the director says with an impish grin and a wink. “Don’t stay up too late.”

Seokjin ends up supporting both Namjoon and Hoseok, even though Yoongi’s sure he drank just as much as them, if not more. There’s one last round of clinging hugs before the couple disappear off into a cab.

“I told them to text when they get home in bed. To make sure they don’t end up choking on their own vomit,” Seokjin says.

“Lightweights,” Yoongi says. He doesn’t know if he manages to stop the fondness from bleeding in. From the way Seokjin’s looking at him, he thinks he failed but he doesn’t mind it, especially when Seokjin looks as fond as he feels too.

“Ready to go home?” Seokjin asks.

His heart aches. “Yeah, let’s go.”

 


 

“Ready?” The director shouts.

“No,” Seokjin and Yoongi say in unison, one bright and the other resigned.

This is the worst, Seokjin thinks.

It’s bad enough that the end finale is supposed to be a sincere, handwritten letter dedicated to the other, read out loud. It’s downright unbearable that they aren’t even reading it themselves. Seokjin can’t even make a joke out of his own letter, can’t even soften the sincere parts with a goofy tone or well-placed coughing. He eyes the letter Yoongi has in his hands. It might not be too late to grab it and shove it into his own mouth.

“Action!”

Yoongi’s up first. Seokjin wants to die.

Yoongi clears his throat. His voice is like earth - steady, a little bit deadpan, rich. A storyteller’s voice.  

 

"To Producer-nim aka Husband-nim aka Kim Yoongi, born as a rock in your previous life and reincarnated as an angry goose masquerading as a tiny man,

How’s the weather down there? It’s supposed to be chilly today. Heat rises, so I brought some extra heat packs, just for you.

I guess that’s why you always hog all the blankets, and why your feet are always freezing. Your hands are always warm though.

Did you know that you sleep with your mouth open? Sometimes I’ve been tempted to drop something inside, like an orange slice or a small hamster maybe. I never have; I’m alive before you today. But as your husband, I have permission to tease you about these things, you see. 

Can I paint something for you Yoongi? Think a mental picture, we’ve already seen how good I am at drawing. I’m closing my eyes right now.

I see a seaside cottage. A chocolate poodle. A whole colony of sugar gliders. The fridge is filled with a never-ending supply of vodka. There’s the sound of a piano somewhere off into the distance, but I can’t see it.

It took us a while, but we got here.

Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for packing extra napkins because I always use all of them up. Thank you for laughing when I need it, and for listening when I think I don’t need it.

In our next life, let’s meet at the sea. I’ll be a dog groomer and you can be a triangle player.

 

I look forward to it,

Seokjin."

 

 

“To my eternal roommate aka Min Seokjin aka Seokjinnie,

Hi, this is your husband. How has your day been? I’ve spent most of it by your side. 

I have to admit, when I imagined myself married at 27, this wasn’t what I was expecting. The cameras are definitely a surprise. You, Kim Seokjin, are a surprise. Every day is an adventure. I’ve probably sprouted a few gray hairs.

Thank you for supporting me quietly and diligently. I hope I have done the same for you.

Hi, this is your roommate. Living in a free mansion has its perks huh?

You don’t need to pull out 32 dishes every time we make dinner. Let’s just eat out of the pots, it’s easier clean-up that way. Sorry for being a lazy dishwasher. I’ll work on that.

Thank you for remembering to clean the lint screen when I forget.

Hi, this is your friend. 

It’s been approximately 58 days since we met here. From the first time, 103 days. I had to look up those numbers. I feel as if I’ve known you for a lifetime.

I have never been kicked out of a restaurant for being too loud until I met you. Noraebang has never been so fun. I didn’t know a person could fit so much beef inside their body. Or sushi for that matter.

 

Thank you for making happiness easy.  

 

Love,

Yoongi

 


 

They’re separated for the last set of interviews. When they’re released for filming, they get a few hasty words in, an awkward goodbye, before they’re whisked away by their respective managements.

And it’s over.

 


  

Yoongi wakes up alone in his bed. His hands are freezing. He pulls the comforter all the way up to his chin, then eyebrows, then over his head. It doesn’t help. He pulls it back down to his nose and sighs.

He goes to turn his head to complain and stops short. Instead of the face he’s come to expect, he’s greeted with excited barking.

Holly jumps on the bed, approximately right over his face. He yips happily and Yoongi gathers him in his arms, holds on tight. He squirms in his hold and paws in the general direction of his head, until the rest of his face is revealed. He gives Yoongi’s cheek an enthusiastic lick.

His returned phone gives a buzz.

When Yoongi checks, he’s got over a hundred unread messages and near a thousand unread emails. He goes to check for a particular name. Stops. Turns his phone off before he can give in to the temptation.

He pulls the covers back up over him and Holly. His one-bedroom apartment feels too big.

 


 

Seokjin deflates and slumps against the railing. It’s too fucking cold and there’s people milling around out here too, but it’s so much quieter. People are mainly outside for a smoke and some peace, which is exactly what he needs right now.

Another industry party, a messy blend of actors and producers and idols and various celebrities, in someone’s penthouse at the top of Seoul. An excuse to dress up and spend money, a veneer on top of networking opportunities and gossip.

He’s spent all night milling around the room, flitting from group to group and making casual small talk. It’s necessary to keep in contact with past co-workers, current ones, potential future ones. To make sure that they would all remember his face, his smile, his jokes, and nothing more. The best parts of him, packaged neatly with a pretty smile and a humble statement of gratitude.

He turns away from the glass door of the party, out into the night sky. The entire expanse of Seoul is laid out, bright blurs of light from a thousand feet up. It’s a full moon tonight.

His chest aches, with something like homesickness.

Abruptly, he feels incredibly small. He never imagined this, not in the kitchen of his mom’s kitchen learning how to make egg rolls, not in any of his acting classes, the late-night study sessions at his dorm, the hundreds of auditions he had to run through, tired and overworked and unhappy but alive, his life imbued with a meaning he didn’t want to let go of.

The only thing that’s real right now is the chill of the hand railing, the ice of the wind cutting through his incredibly thin Versace jacket. He gazes down – it’d be easy to reach out and scoop the air in front of him.

“Hey, do you have a lighter?”

Seokjin turns, startles.

Min Yoongi, summoned like a spectre, is sidled up next to him, about a foot away. He's leaning against the balcony railing, face turned to the wide view. In his hands is a thin cigarette, slightly drooping but elegantly held. He looks like one of those models in Seoul’s billboard ads - cold, beautiful, like it took 2 dozen people to place him perfectly.

It’s hard to reconcile him with the domestic version he last remembers, sleepy and blanket-swaddled and disarmingly soft, his face as open as the moon.

He’s still looking at him in surprise when Yoongi slightly inclines his head and turns his gaze to him, like he’s trying to look at Seokjin inconspicuously from the corner of his eyes. His eyes dart away when they make eye contact, and Seokjin raises his eyebrows, a bubbling feeling of disbelief entering him again.

“No, I don’t,” he answers back finally, turning to face Yoongi fully. “Should you be smoking? Nation’s son-in-law Min Yoongi? What would your mother say?”

Yoongi sheepishly crushes the cigarette in a napkin, tucks it into his suit pocket.

“Had to buy a whole pack just to run with that joke.”

“Dedication to the craft, I can respect that.”

They share a smile, small.

“How have you been?” Yoongi asks.

Seokjin shrugs. “Back to the daily grind. Should’ve stayed another season with them, I didn’t appreciate the vacation when I had it. I’m so busy now.”

“Your new film right? Congratulations,” Yoongi says. He sounds proud. Seokjin feels warm.

It’s only been 2 months since filming ended, but it feels much longer and much shorter than that. They hadn’t texted much. Yoongi’s texts tend to run short and to the point; it’d been hard to read tone over it.

But Yoongi had still sent him pictures of Holly, messaged him at random times in the day -

“I’m out of green onions,” “Holly’s sleeping in the middle of the bed right now,” and once bafflingly, “My bed’s too cold.”

That had to mean something right? Even though he was still trying to figure out what it meant.

“How are you?” Seokjin asks.

“I’ve been good. Busy, but good.” Yoongi pauses. “I’ve missed you, I feel like I’ve hardly seen you.”

If Seokjin thought he felt warm before, he feels on fire now. He pushes down the urge to tease, to deflect. 

“I’ve missed you too,” he lets himself say, quietly. “Actually, the kids were going to leave early to get some late dinner. Wanna ditch the party and come with us?”

“At 1:00 am?” Yoongi grins. “Absolutely.”

“I’ll text them.” 

They all end up meeting downstairs, by the building entrance. Namjoon and Hoseok are right behind Taehyung, ducking behind him to escape the freezing wind. Taehyung holds his arms out further; though even he can’t stretch large enough to cover two fully grown men.

“Alright, now this is a party,” Hoseok says, with a cheer.

They all jostle closer together in a penguin huddle, to try to escape the worst of the cold. Seokjin manages to squeeze into the center, though that means he can’t dodge the back punch Jungkook delivers for stealing his spot. He sticks his tongue out. Jungkook sticks his tongue out right back at him.

“So where should we go?” Namjoon asks.

“Something hot, I’m freezing. Yukgaejang?” Jimin says.

Everyone gives vague noises of assent. Seokjin points towards a random direction in the sky. “Let’s go!”

It’s a little bit of a hassle to try to find a place that’ll seat seven slightly drunk, definitely rambunctious men on short notice. Jimin and Namjoon end up trying to sweet talk a slightly bewildered shop owner into letting them eat there, right as they’re about to close.

She gives them the stink eye and then assents to Jungkook when he comes up to ask, doe eyes out in full force.

“You have to all sit outside though, we already cleaned up inside.”

She takes a look at their threadbare suit jackets and dress shirts and sighs. “I’ll bring out some candles and throw in a bottle of wine.”

Jungkook, Jimin, and Seokjin jump into a huddle and cheer, voices bouncing down the empty street. Yoongi looks half-asleep off to the side, so Seokjin breaks off to join him. He links their arms together. Yoongi looks cold.

She brings out the candles. They don’t help much with the cold, but they light up the table with a warm glow. A sepia wash, Seokjin thinks, and imagines them all in an old, old photograph, 20 years from now.  

After a few minutes, she brings out scorching hot bowls of spicy beef soup, hastily distributed among themselves. Then, a dusty bottle of wine that Namjoon pops open, sniffs, and makes a dubious face at. Jimin shrugs and takes a chug straight from the bottle.

They spend the night like this, passing the bottle around, challenging the holder to tell their most embarrassing awards show incident, and slurping up numbingly hot broth. Seokjin feels all warmed up from the inside, cleaned out. New again.

Once they all finish, they leave a very, very generous tip and stack the dishes to help the owner take them in. They speak for a few more minutes before the cold gets to them. Seokjin’s ready to call it a night.

One by one, everyone disappears into cabs - Namjoon and Hoseok in one, the younger three into another - until it’s just him and Yoongi, standing in the street huddled together.

Seokjin expects Yoongi to disappear into one of the two cars idling by.

He lingers. Turns to Seokjin. There’s something in his stare that makes Seokjin want to blurt out all his secrets. He feels like he’s waiting for something.

Yoongi’s mouth parts, likes he wants to say something.

Seokjin takes a step closer. Yoongi takes a step closer.

The cab driver honks.

Yoongi snorts and looks half exasperated, half amused. He turns to the cabs.

“Give us a second,” he yells over.

He turns to Seokjin.

“You should probably get home. It’s too cold out,” Yoongi says.

“Probably.”

He wants to ask Yoongi to come home with him. Just to have him near would be enough.

Seokjin takes a step back, towards the cabs.

“Text me when you get home. So I know you got back safe,” Yoongi says.

Seokjin nods, ducks into the open cab door. He tells the driver his address.

As the cab pulls away, he looks back out the window. Yoongi’s still standing there, shoulders hunched, intense gaze following Seokjin’s cab even as he drives farther and farther away. Yoongi’s another dot against the drape of street lights by the time he moves, towards the direction of the other cab.

When Seokjin finally arrives back home, he grabs a blanket, wraps it around himself, and lets himself onto his balcony. He closes his eyes. Takes a deep breath, bracing cold filling his chest. He wants to cling onto the memories of the crisp air, if just for a little while longer.

Before he goes to sleep that night, he lights up his new candle. He lets it burn for a scant 10 minutes so his room is cozy with the warm scent. His newly bought bag of potpourri sits under his left pillow.  

He falls asleep to the smell of warm spice and pine.

 


 

“Who are you texting?” Jimin asks.

“Nobody,” Seokjin says on reflex, then brings his phone down a second too late.

“Interesting,” Jimin says. Taehyung and Jungkook flank him, like two particularly adorable evil cats.

“You wouldn’t be breaking our time-honored tradition of phones off during TV and movie nights because you’ve been texting your husband, would you?”

“Nobody follows that, Jungkook’s been on his phone for the last 20 minutes."

“Interesting that that’s what you dispute,” Jimin says. He and Taehyung share a look, eyebrows raised.

“Yah! If you don’t stop teasing me, I’m not watching this with you. This is my apartment, this is mutiny!”

Jimin and Taehyung smartly back off, though Taehyung sends him a long, searching look that has him slightly amused, slightly unsettled.

His phone vibrates, and he shoves it under his ass.

He waits until they’re preoccupied with looking at something on Jungkook’s phone, before he brings it out again, this time more discreetly.

 

we got married contestant min yoongi

so you haven’t seen any of the episodes yet?

seokjin

no, this is gonna be my first one. i hate watching myself back on TV

have you been watching it?

we got married contestant min yoongi

the kids have been making me watch it with them

they’re airing episode 8 today

seokjin

anything juicy so far

we got married contestant min yoongi

they sure like to edit blush lines onto my face

and they always play cheesy romantic music whenever you look my way

seokjin

but do I look handsome, that’s the important question yoongles

we got married contestant min yoongi

don’t worry they’ve been getting your worst angles

 

He sends Yoongi a string of cute emoticons and several hearts; that’ll annoy him more than anything he can reply with.

In the background, Jungkook and Taehyung have been increasingly getting louder as it gets closer and closer to 9:00 pm.

It turns 8:59 pm. They hit near unfathomable levels of rowdiness.

“Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi,” they chant, in a parody of an idol chant, back and forth, on repeat. They settle on either side of him and toggle him between them.

“I know you guys have been watching it without me, why are you so energetic?” Seokjin asks. He sounds like his grandpa when he’s been forced to stay up past his bedtime, and he doesn’t even care.

“It’ll be the first time with you hyung,” Jimin says sweetly, and then follows it up with one of his evil smiles, cheeks bunched up, eyes shining with mirth and knowledge that Seokjin will surely regret. He narrows his eyes.

The kids yell out a cheer as the show’s opening music starts.

“Welcome to ‘We Got Married’! On this episode, we’ve got a little bit of a treat for you guys: date night! We get to see all three couples on their various dates, each thought out and planned by the couples. Let’s see Irene and Momo’s date first: a beach festival and some wining and dining at a roller-skate rink!”

Seokjin doesn’t realize he’s holding his breath until it all escapes out of him in a singular whoosh. There’s the easiest part done with. He doesn’t know if he’s glad he gets a waiting pad, or if it makes him more anxious, to give him time to build it up in his head.

At the first sight of him and Yoongi he tenses, and then forcibly wills himself to relax, one muscle at a time, his clenched teeth last. There’s just something about watching himself on screen that makes him feel alien, like there’s a flesh puppet walking around with his face and his mannerisms and gestures, fooling the world.

He focuses on Yoongi instead.

The movie date provides some levity at least. It’s not scary now that they’re not showing the film, just a supercut of reactions from him and Yoongi. He can’t help laughing at Yoongi’s little pinched face, hands brought up to cover his face. He hadn’t remembered that part, but he supposes he was too preoccupied with screaming his head off. He ignores Jungkook and Taehyung next to him, acting out his and Yoongi’s clinging to each other, and snaps a picture to send to Yoongi.

The picnic date is really amped up, he has to admit. Taehyung and Jimin “ooooh” as Yoongi reveals all his side dishes for the second time to Seokjin. There’s a soft hazy filter over everything that makes it seem unmistakably romantic, leaves falling in slow motion in the foreground as they talk quietly to each other. Was Yoongi really looking at him like that, and more importantly, had Seokjin really looked back at him like that, that soft look on his face?

He doesn’t remember that.

He sees Yoongi picking out his favorite parts of every packed-up dish, making sure to give Seokjin the best cuts and selection. He sees the way Yoongi looks at him from the corner of his eye, gauging his reaction after every bite, every time he hums to the band.

He sees himself looking back at Yoongi with something like adoration in his eyes, the way his smile bunches up at the corners, when he smiles so hard he can’t contain himself. He sees the way they get closer and closer throughout the date.

He doesn’t look like he’s playing it up for the camera. He looks happy. No, that isn’t the surprising part. Why does he look like a lovestruck fool, unable to look away from Yoongi?

His face feels hot all of a sudden.

There’s a gentle touch to his shoulder and he startles. He turns around. On the couch next to him, Taehyung has an inquisitive look, head tilted; half checking if he’s ok and half something else, a question? He’s suddenly aware that they’re all watching this. Could they see what he was seeing?

He doesn’t know what to say. There’s a question he can’t stop asking himself, resounding quiet and hesitant, and then more insistent, loud, until that’s the only thing he can think.

He doesn’t know what to answer. He needs to think, he needs to process, he needs to-

He runs out of the room. Jimin shouts something behind him, but he needs to do this right now. He grabs his lyric book from his bedroom, kneels to the ground, and starts writing.

 


 

we got married contestant min yoongi

Holly wants to meet you. he wants to know who his illustrious portrait painter is

seokjin

ahh I knew it was only a matter of time before he came to his senses

I’m on my way right now

we got married contestant min yoongi

perfect

you’re not really right

seokjin

it’s 1:00 am yoongi

we got married contestant min yoongi

Ok good, because I’m in bed in silk pajamas drinking wine right now

And I’m not getting up to answer the door

seokjin

thank you for that beautiful image, my life’s purpose is complete

we got married contestant min yoongi

you’re welcome

also really you should come over sometime

actually meet holly. we can have a movie + sushi night, like the good old days

if you want to

seokjin

ah yongo bongo I thought’d you never ask >3<

does next friday work?

 


  

“Do you want some coffee? Or tea?” Yoongi asks as Seokjin slips on a pair of house slippers. He wriggles his feet, makes Kumamon’s face bulge in and out.

“Just water is good.”

He mills awkwardly by the hallway entrance for a moment, before mentally shaking his head and following Yoongi into the kitchen. Yoongi was the one who invited him over, he didn’t need to be nervous.

If he tells himself that lie enough, maybe he’ll actually believe it.

Yoongi’s place is unsurprisingly tidy and clean, though cluttered with memorabilia and little touches here and there to feel wholly lived in. A black jacket folded across the couch, Holly’s dog toys littered around the living room, a few brightly colored potted plants by the window sill. His place leans towards functional – comfortable couches, an expensive-looking pressure cooker and French press, a cute set of food and water bowls by the kitchen table. That’d be Holly’s probably, so they could eat together every night.

For all Min Yoongi likes to front, he’s not very good at pretending that he’s not completely soft at the center, the quietest sense of kindness.  

Yoongi’s dressed down today, in sweats and a t-shirt and his hair sticking out at the back, like he’d slept on it weird. A flash of Yoongi asleep on their couch, headphones half around his head, slicked up bed hair. Seokjin reaches out a hand unthinkingly and gently pulls at the strands. Yoongi whips around, eyes unblinking.

“Ah sorry, I was just. Smoothing it down,” Seokjin says, trying not to laugh.

Yoongi ducks his head and turns to pull out two glasses, quickly topping them up with water. The back of his neck is red.

A chocolate poodle comes trotting out. Seokjin drops to his knees, makes cooing, chirping noises.

“I feel like I’m meeting a legend. Hello, hello.” He bows deeply. Holly noses at his hair and chews on a stray strand.

“That’s his version of a hello. Be careful, he likes anything dangly,” Yoongi says.

Yoongi scoops Holly up like a baby, cradled upwards in his arms. He rubs his belly and Holly squirms around happily, yipping at his face. Yoongi barks back down at him and resolutely refuses to look embarrassed. Seokjin’s delighted.

“We should set up a playdate, between Holly and Odengie and Eomukie. Imagine the pictures,” Seokjin says. Two little sugar gliders nestled in the neat donut shape of Holly’s back and belly. It’d be devastating.

Yoongi smiles. “It’s a date.”

He lets Holly down gently, and walks backwards, further into the apartment.

“Do you want an apartment tour? Or maybe just a studio tour, there isn’t really anything else exciting here,” Yoongi says, scratching his head.

“Ah, hiding something Yoongi-ssi?”

“Just my sex dungeon, we can skip over that.”

He laughs, half at the comment, half at Yoongi’s own embarrassment at his own joke.

When they enter his home studio, Yoongi’s shoulders immediately drop, his posture relaxed. A second layer of ease born from a mix of habit and reverence, settling. Yoongi turns to face him and smiles, small but open.

“So do you work from home often?” Seokjin asks, fiddling with his cup as he seats himself gingerly on the couch. A pull-out, surprisingly comfortable.

The studio’s small, but very high tech, with the speakers and monitors carefully positioned around the big desk that takes up half the room. An upright piano is pressed against one wall, and awards and records roll the other walls. Seokjin scans through them. A few months back and he’d probably have been intimidated - now he can’t fight the flood of fondness and pride that goes through him.   

Yoongi catches his eyes and gestures at a small award, positioned close to the front of his desk.

“My first award ever for song production. They’re all reminders. Of where I’ve been, where I’m at now, where I can go. There’s a lot left.” He seems in thought.

“And yes,” he adds, “I usually work at home. The studio’s more for business."

Seokjin nods and they stare at each other, a bubble of comfortable silence. The desire to reveal it itches at him, but he waits. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play if he’s this nervous. His hands are shaking at the thought.

“Let’s eat first. I know a place that delivers sushi and seafood. I’ve got some beers in the fridge,” Yoongi says.

“Perfect.” Just this was enough for now.

 


  

“How’s the book club going?” Seokjin asks.

“Oh good. It’s Eric’s turn to suggest something. To be honest, he’ll probably suggest a romance manhwa.”

“That’s highbrow literature!”

“Oh it definitely is, but not the stuff Eric likes. Maybe romance manhwa was too generous, I meant more like a doujinshi.”

“Even higher culture,” Seokjin says with a sniff. Yoongi shoves at his shoulder with a smile.

“Actually one of my favorite books is a romance manhwa. Well, maybe not romance, more sexuality focused?” Seokjin says.

“What’s it called?” Yoongi asks.

“'My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness'? And the sequel, 'Solo Exchange Diary.'”

“Oh, Namjoon recommended those to me but I never read it.”

“I actually recommended it to Namjoon first so,” Seokjin says with a faux-angry huff. It’s easier to front than talk about it.

“What’s it about?”

“Well, basically this woman’s musings about her life. She hits kind of a wall in her life. There’s a lot about her depression, her anxiety, her loneliness. There’s a part near the end that I always think about.” 

He pauses, but Yoongi just waits, quietly, patiently.

“‘I only ever thought of myself, so I stayed lonely.’ For me, I saw that as- when you keep a mask on, or when you compartmentalize parts of yourself. You’re thinking of yourself because you’re trying to protect yourself, but it’s selfish in a way, and it also hurts you. It cuts you off from people. You don’t know what’s real anymore, about yourself or the people around you.”

He keeps his head down, so he doesn’t see the expression on Yoongi’s face. Just like a band-aid right? If he doesn’t say it now, he doesn’t think he ever will.

“So you know, I guess. I wanted to tell you that I finished the song,” he says.

“Oh, really? That’s amazing Seokjin.” Yoongi doesn’t point out the strange non-sequitur, and Seokjin’s grateful.

“Yup.”

He doesn’t say anything. The silence stretches out. Maybe he’s the only one who feels awkward? Yoongi looks at him with eyes that are so fond it aches.

“Do you want to hear a little bit of it?”

“Of course, if you want to show me.”

“I do.”

He walks stiffly into Yoongi’s studio, sits down at the piano. He’s glad it faces the wall; he doesn’t think he can face Yoongi for this.

If Yoongi notices his stiffness or is surprised at the strangeness of the entire situation, he doesn’t say anything, just sinks into the couch. Waits patiently as Seokjin waffles back and forth, rolls up his sleeves, checks on the pedals.

After a while though, even he can tell Yoongi is getting a little antsy, shifting around on the couch. He takes a deep breath. Nothing to it then just doing it, isn’t there?

He places his hands on the keys, and starts playing. It’s a little awkward and fumbling at first, but it’s mostly chords with the occasional flourish of notes, so he acclimates easily after a few bars. It’s supposed to be about the voice. It’s supposed to be about what he’s saying; too scared to actually say, but just brave enough to sing.

Longing takes shape when he sings about a pair of strong, capable hands, hands that seem like they’re built to take when all they do is give. A gaze that makes him nervous even as it soothes him, a gaze that makes him never want to look away. A voice that laughs at him, laughs with him, never fails to make him laugh, in how far it’s willing to follow Seokjin wherever he goes. A person that reminds him of home because being away from him evokes the most terrible sense of homesickness he’s ever had. An intimacy that he’s terrified of, of what it could mean for him.

The song ends as it starts, hesitantly, lingering on the feeling.

There’s a deep silence for a minute. Close to two.

“I didn’t know you played the piano,” Yoongi says. It falls into the silence gracefully, sounding less like surprise and more like pride.

“I didn’t. I learned it for this song, I just transcribed the guitar chords into piano chords. Did you know they have apps for that these days? Technology has come so far hasn’t it, I can just look up something and everything will be there, what’s next a refrigerator that can play the guitar-”

Seokjin can feel himself rambling and not in the calculated way he could joke-complain about, but one fueled by nerves and doubt and fuck he wishes Yoongi would just say something.

“Seokjin.” Yoongi’s voice is amused, he sounds like he’s smiling. Seokjin’s still turned around.

“That was beautiful. The emotions, the lyrics, I-. I’d spend my whole life trying to make a song like that.”

“Thanks,” he says.

Instinctively, he feels gratified, that somebody like Yoongi loved it. That Yoongi specifically loved it. Emotionally, he still feels like there’s a bomb inside him, winding him up tighter and tighter until he feels ready to implode. His leg won’t stop shaking.

“Who was that about?”

He gives a harsh huff of a laugh. Of course he’d ask that. The first and last question he wants to answer right now.

“That was for Holly, so. You can pass it along to him whenever he’s free from his busy schedule,” he says. He’s not quite hanging onto the joke here; his voice sounds too frayed for that, stressed along the edges.

“Seokjin.” Yoongi’s voice is like gravel. It sounds like its stuck half between a laugh and a cracked plea. He’s never heard him sound like this.

“I just need honesty from you for this one question. Please.”

Seokjin turns around. Yoongi’s face looks blank, but his mouth is a hard line, his shoulders look like they’re trembling.

“Who was that about?”

Seokjin closes his eyes. He just needs to be brave, be honest, for this one moment.

“That was for you, Min Yoongi. How could it be about anyone else?”

Yoongi lets out an exhale that sounds like it was punched out of him.

“You sure know how to cut a man to the quick, don’t you Kim Seokjin?”

“What do you mean?”

“Everything, god everything,” Yoongi murmurs. “Your eyes, your kindness, your stupid jokes, I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t, I-”

He puts his face in his hands. Seokjin feels at a loss for words. On a subconscious level, he thinks he knew, that maybe Yoongi could feel like this too, but it feels like a whole other beast to be faced with it here, when he feels an inch away from imploding himself.

When Yoongi lifts his face up again, he seems a new man. Tears dot the edge of his lashes but he’s smiling, the tears spilling over his cheeks.

“Kim Seokjin, I’m in love with you.”

“Ok,” he whispers.

“Ok,” Yoongi says, and takes his hand. “Do you want to stay over for the night?”

“Ok.”

“I didn’t break you, did I?” Yoongi asks. The tears have dried up. He looks peaceful.

“No, just. Processing,” Seokjin says. He feels relief pooling in him, something that feels suspiciously like hope rushing in deep somewhere. He raises his eyes to meet Yoongi’s. He looks back at Seokjin like he always does, a little bit of amusement, some fondness, and a whole lot of something he can finally identify: happiness.

He follows Yoongi into the bedroom.

 


 

Getting ready for bed feels like the most familiar thing in the world to him, with the sound of Seokjin getting ready in the room next door. Seokjin sounds like he’s just finishing, the faucet turning off, the sound of a toothbrush being tapped. He emerges a second later, looking pink and freshly-scrubbed. He meets Yoongi’s eyes and then looks down, shuffles in place.

Yoongi feels unbearably fond.

They slide into bed and lay down. Yoongi tries to get comfortable, but Seokjin’s presence next to him, ramrod straight and practically broadcasting tension, makes him feel nervous for two reasons. One, that Seokjin’s regretting this, that he doesn’t really want to be here, that he wasn’t ready. Two, that the person he loves lies only two inches away and he aches to hold him, to touch him in some way, to complete that burning longing that’s lived in him so long it feels as familiar as the love.

In the dark, his hand finds Seokjin’s, as always drawn to him, especially on familiar terrain. Seokjin grips tightly back, and Yoongi relaxes. He edges closer, turns to face Seokjin, meets his eyes dead-on as Seokjin’s already turned to face him.

He puts a hand on Seokjin’s waist, tentatively, then settles there when Seokjin seems to relax into it.

They just stare at each other, for the longest time. Yoongi had missed him so much – he feels physically hungry with it, wants to stare at Seokjin until he’s got every freckle, every hair, every bump seared into his memory, and then a little more. He wants to memorize the shape of his body, his lean neck, his delicate rib cage, his strong thighs. He wants to know the difference between every one of Seokjin’s expressions, his joking one, his fake angry one, his sorrow that he tries to wear exactly like his happiness and nearly succeeds in.

Yoongi thinks he could spend the rest of his life figuring this out, this fragile home-grown thing, planted in the harsh light of a camera, but nurtured in the comforting darkness of a bedroom, of a balcony, of a shared meal in a small sushi shop.

“Yoongi.” Seokjin’s voice is quiet. “I love you too.”

“Ah, good to know.” He can’t stop smiling.

Seokjin huffs a quiet laugh, rolling his eyes.

“Ok fine. That’s all I wanted to say. I didn’t want you to fall asleep without knowing that.”

Yoongi pulls himself all the way to Seokjin. They tangle and untangle, trying to find the best cuddling position. Eventually they settle, Yoongi’s arm wrapped around Seokjin’s waist, his head pillowed on Seokjin’s chest. He presses a gentle kiss against Seokjin’s collarbone, hums against his skin when he hears his soft gasp.

He waits one, two, three seconds.

Then Seokjin scooches himself down, until they’re nearly nose to nose.

“You can’t do that.” 

“Why not?”

“You just can’t, you can’t expect me to just lie there and do nothing when you go and do things like that.” Seokjin’s voice is a frenzied whisper and there are two high spots of red on his cheeks.

“Ok, can I kiss you instead?”

That seems to deflate Seokjin, and he goes limp, and even redder if possible.

“You… can do that. If you want.”

“I want,” he says, and kisses him.

For all the buildup, it’s a gentle kiss, close-mouthed. He presses once, twice to Seokjin’s lips. His lips feel so soft, addicting in the best way. Every time they separate, he wants to crowd back in, closer.

Then Seokjin parts his lips tentatively and Yoongi groans in the back of his throat. Seokjin pushes in close, and his mouth feels hungry and sweet under his, their lips parting over and over again. He licks into Seokjin’s mouth and feels his moan, swallowing it up and pressing closer, closer. Seokjin’s waist feels soft and smooth, even more so when he slips his hand under his shirt, lets it settle on warm, bare skin and Seokjin lets out a shuddery sigh that has him chasing his mouth, wanting to feel it too. He feels infinitely greedy, yet like he’d give up anything for Seokjin, himself, the whole world, all of it, for Seokjin’s happiness.

The kisses slowly soften until they’re gentle touches again, back and forth, like the swelling and ebbing of the tide. Holding Seokjin, having him in his arms, fills him with the tranquility of the ocean. Yoongi, as always, is ready to follow him wherever he goes, as he follows him into sleep, the next morning, the rest of his life, if he’d have him.

 


 

"So it's been 5 months since the last episode of our latest season of 'We Got Married' has aired, and we've got some special guests for you today. Please welcome, rapper and producer Suga and actor Kim Seokjin!"

The announcer gestures to the guests and waits for the applause to die out.

"For our audience members at home who haven't caught up with the season, these two young men were paired up and made quite the splash in audience ratings, and our hearts! Suga! It's been 5 months, and this is the first time you've been reunited with your co-star, how does it feel?" 

Min Yoongi smiles, and inclines his head politely at Kim Seokjin, across the table. "It's passed by so quickly. As always, it's good to see you again sunbae."

"Ah, don't be so formal Yoongi-ssi, you guys were married!" The announcer says.

"Ah, Jin-hyung," Yoongi corrects himself.

"And Seokjin-ssi! What's it like seeing your husband in the flesh across from you?"

"Very surreal I have to say. I'd almost forgotten what he'd looked like," Seokjin says, tapping his chin.

The audience titters with laughter.

"But of course, I'd never forget my husband, no matter how long it's been," Seokjin says.

"Are there going to be any future plans to hang out, see each other again?" The announcer asks.

"Ah, of course we'd like to, but I'm busy with promotions with my new film, and I believe Yoongi-ssi is busy with his second album coming out soon," Seokjin says, an apologetic tilt to his mouth. 

"But we'll try," Yoongi says, bowing. "The next life, maybe."

They smile across the table at each other.