Actions

Work Header

Oblivious

Chapter Text

“So… Right. I guess I should just say it?” Jimin pressed his back against the practice room mirror and wrapped both arms around his knees, hugging them to his chest as he figuratively protected himself from the backlash he was anticipating. “I’m uh… I’m gay.”

 

Jungkook’s jaw dropped open.

 

Jimin was – gay? But – but he was so normal. And he probably had the most female fans right after Taehyung, right? How could he possibly be gay? They’d been living together for years. Jungkook definitely would have known if Jimin were gay – wouldn’t he?

 

Jungkook’s eyes darted around the small circle that the seven of them had made on the floor of the practice room after their rehearsal had finished. He glanced across the room at Taehyung, trying to silently express his disbelief with his gaze alone. He wondered what sort of expression Taehyung would mirror back at him, but when he looked –

 

Taehyung was nodding in understanding.

 

Jungkook stared at his friend for what felt like an eon, his mind struggling to make sense of this simple gesture. He looked to his left at Yoongi, who appeared to look the same as he usually did, and to his right at Namjoon who was smiling. Namjoon was fucking smiling! Why didn’t any of them look half as surprised as Jungkook?

 

“Thanks for telling us,” Hoseok interrupted Jungkook’s thoughts. He slid across the floor until he, too, was leaning against the mirror, side-by-side with Jimin, and patting his knee comfortingly. “But don’t worry – we’re cool with it.”

 

Jungkook felt like his brain was trudging through mud and he couldn’t keep up with their conversation. Since when were they cool with this?

 

Really?” Jimin exhaled noisily, dropping his forehead to his knees in relief as all of the muscles in his body seemed to relax at the same moment. “Oh, thank God.” His voice was muffled. “I spent the last three months debating whether or not to even say anything.”

 

“You’re not leaving the group or anything, right?” Seokjin verified. Jimin shook his head. “Then as far as I’m concerned, it’s the same as it’s always been. You’re the same old Jimin, right?”

 

“Jimin with a really good secret,” Taehyung added with a smirk.

 

A smile slowly worked its way onto Jimin’s lips as Taehyung teased him like usual – like nothing had changed at all. “You really mean it?” he checked again. “You’re all ok? With me, I mean. I don’t… weird you out or anything?”

 

Yes! Jungkook wanted to shout. I am completely freaked out!

 

“Are you kidding?” Namjoon replied in a soft tone. It was one Jungkook rarely heard him use. He often led group conversations of this nature with an authoritative tone, but he had backed off with his role as their leader in this moment, opting for a somewhat paternal voice. “We’re brothers,” Namjoon told him firmly and without an ounce of doubt. “You can’t do much to get rid of us.”

 

Jimin smiled broadly, eyes beginning to water at Namjoon’s words. “Thank you,” he murmured through his tears.

 

“Oh, God.” Yoongi groaned, immediately standing to cross the large practice room. “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you need to take on the stereotype and cry like a girl,” Yoongi grumbled, grabbing a box of tissues by the door and bringing them back to the circle where they were sitting. “Here,” he muttered, pulling one out and handing it to Jimin. “Take it before you get snot everywhere.”

 

“Shut up, Yoongi,” Seokjin cut in, grabbing a tissue for himself and dabbing at the corners of his eyes. Taehyung and Hoseok also managed to sneak one out of the box when they thought no one was paying attention. Even Yoongi had ducked his head down to his shoulder to rub his eyes against the sleeve of his t-shirt. After Jimin blew his nose, Seokjin crossed the circle to hug Jimin awkwardly from their seated position. “We’re on your side, no matter what,” Seokjin assured him. “We’ll stand by you, even if you decide to go out and cause some sort of a scandal to break the news.” He pulled away from Jimin and looked to the group. “Right, guys?”

 

Jungkook wordlessly nodded along with the rest of the members as they gave Jimin a resounding, affirmative response.

 

Jimin laughed, covering his face with his hands. “God, I’m a mess,” he said, trying to wipe at his eyes. “I’m sorry – I’m just going to run to the bathroom and clean up. We can head back to the dorm, then.” Jimin exited the room with Seokjin following in his footsteps, swiping at his eyes nearly as much as Jimin.

 

Once the door closed behind them, Hoseok sighed loudly, dropping his head back against the mirror. “To be honest, I was beginning to think he would never tell us.”

 

“I don’t know,” Taehyung debated. “He’s been quieter than usual lately. I figured it was on his mind. I wasn’t that surprised when he asked to have a group meeting after the rehearsal. Jimin never calls meetings – that should have been your first clue!”

 

“Yeah, you’re right,” Hoseok conceded. “I thought he’s been a bit distant, too.”

 

What the hell are you talking about?

 

All eyes turned on Jungkook, now that he had finally opened his mouth to speak.

 

“Yah.” Yoongi lazily turned to eye Jungkook suspiciously. “What’s wrong with you?”

 

Jungkook ran two hands over his face in disbelief before dramatically throwing them out at his sides. “Jimin’s gay!” he shouted at his friends. “You’re acting like you already knew! And you’re fine with it!”

 

“Well, we did know,” Hoseok answered simply.

 

“And…” Namjoon continued in a careful tone, “We are fine with it.”

 

“You mean to tell me you missed all of the obvious signs?” Taehyung asked in surprise. He began cackling, rolling back onto the floor with both arms hugging his stomach. “Jeon Jungkook! I knew you were dense, but not that dense!”

 

“Shut up!” Jungkook growled. He found no humor in the situation. All he could do was sift through every conversation he’d had with Jimin in the last five years, as if trying to decipher some sort of code. Had the clues really been there all along and he’d missed it?

 

“He’s always quiet around the girl groups,” Hoseok pointed out, holding his hand up to tick his fingers off.

 

“Yeah, but he’s quiet around guys, too!” Jungkook quickly refuted.

 

“Right, but have you seen how much bigger his smile is around boys?” Hoseok continued with a raised eyebrow. He ticked off another finger. “He’s always managing to avoid the question of dating and relationships whenever we’re on shows – you ever notice that? He’s really good at it. He does it with us, too, you know.”

 

“You’re right!” Taehyung chimed in with a loud clap and an “aha” expression. “You were talking about some girl you met several weeks ago, and he somehow turned the conversation around and got us to talk about that new drama Seokjin auditioned for! Wow,” he breathed in awe, as if only just realizing how clever Jimin had been all along. “He’s good.”

 

“Ok, but – you’re going off of him smiling, and not wanting to talk about dating,” Jungkook challenged. “You realize how absolutely ridiculous that is, right?”

 

“Don’t forget Taemin,” Hoseok added, ticking off another finger. “Taemin all of a sudden he happens to become best friends with Jimin?”

 

Jungkook blinked. “Taemin? You mean Taemin from Shinee. He’s gay too?

 

Yoongi blinked at Jungkook’s surprised expression. “It’s like you live under a rock,” he muttered dryly. His face contorted into a look of surprise, lip curling and nose scrunching as he watched Jungkook skeptically. “I mean – you saw how much Jimin flirted with you, right?”

 

Jungkook’s body went cold. “Jimin never flirted with me.”

 

Taehyung snorted. “You’ve watched the old videos online, right? The ones when we first debuted? Even the fans commented on the attention he gave you.”

 

Jungkook shook his head. “That’s for the camera,” he explained. “Jimin wasn’t flirting; he was just doing fan service.” His eyes flicked from one member to the next, growing nervous with each blank expression. When none of them even contemplated his suggestion, his stomach writhed in fear. “Right?”

 

“What about that time at the airport when you were hurt and he helped you walk to the car?” Hoseok asked. “Or when you went to the hospital with a fever – remember who kept bringing you food so you didn’t have to eat that nasty stuff at the hospital?” Hoseok snorted as a laugh of amusement burst forth. “It’s not fan service if there aren’t any fans to see it, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook swallowed nervously. “He was being a good hyung. That’s what you would have done.”

 

Taehyung scratched the back of his head and sighed wearily. “You’re really oblivious, aren't you?”

 

“I’m not – I’m not oblivious!” Jungkook shouted back, his confusion and frustration resulting in anger. “And Jimin didn’t flirt with me – he doesn’t like me like that.”

 

“Well, obviously he doesn’t like you anymore if you can’t return his feelings,” Yoongi pointed out calmly. “But he got over you. He hasn’t been clinging to you nearly as much anymore, has he? And he’s got Taemin, now, so…” Yoongi shrugged. “Makes sense.”

 

Jimin hadn’t spent nearly as much time around him lately as he had in the first year of their debut. Jungkook had noticed this change in Jimin, just as the others had. The only difference was that Jungkook had been relieved that Jimin wasn’t always hounding him to make videos for their fans or spending so much time with him that it kept him from getting a decent nap before their shows. But the others didn’t appear to see his distance in the same light.

 

Apparently, they assumed that Jimin had a crush on him… and had now grown out of it.

 

“This makes no sense,” Jungkook murmured, dropping his head to his chest and running a hand through his messy hair as he started to feel lightheaded. The sweat from their rehearsal had dried, leaving his locks to lay haphazardly atop his head, so his hand didn’t seem to make much of a difference on the state of his hair. “I mean – Jimin doesn’t like me. Didn’t like me,” he corrected adamantly. “And – and he’s gay. Which is weird.” The boys around him watched in silence as Jungkook seemed to be spewing forth everything that went through his brain without a filter. “It’s weird, right?” he asked the other members, pleading for just one of them to see his perspective. “What if – what if he watches us when we’re changing backstage for a concert?”

 

Yoongi cast a glare out of the corner of his eye. “Are you serious right now?”

 

“He might!” Jungkook argued. “It’s unnatural. It’s just – it’s not supposed to work that way! Men aren’t supposed to be attracted to other men. That’s just – gross.”

 

Jungkook knew instantly that made a mistake as he felt four pairs of eyes turn their heated glare on him. It made him physically nauseous to know that someone as good-natured as Taehyung or as kind-hearted as Hoseok was looking at him like they wanted nothing to do with him.

 

“Gross?” Namjoon intervened. He had kept quiet for the last few minutes, but seemed to notice that it was finally time for him to step in as the leader of the group. He stood, raising himself to his full height, and spoke in a heavy tone, radiating authority with every ounce of his body. “Jungkook – I’m sorry you’re having a difficult time processing Jimin’s news, but you need to learn to accept this. Jimin’s a part of this team and no one’s letting him go anywhere, so if you can’t find a way to be ok with it, then we’ll have a much bigger problem – and it won’t be with Jimin.”

 

Jungkook swallowed, feeling smaller than he had in years – smaller than he had even in his trainee days. For the first time, he actually felt like he didn’t belong in this practice room with these people he called his brothers. They had each other’s backs. They never threatened to turn away from Jungkook before. They knew each other inside and out –

 

Except, apparently, he didn’t.

 

Not at all.

 

“Sorry,” Seokjin apologized as he and Jimin abruptly reentered the room with wide smiles on their faces, completely unaware of the sharp scolding Jungkook had just received. “We ran into one of the trainees practicing a cover to Danger, so we stopped and watched them through the window.”

 

“They were even better than Seokjin,” Jimin added with a playful smile as Seokjin pulled a fist and threatened to punch him.

 

Yoongi was the first to break the tension and act as if nothing had happened while they were gone. “Give it up,” Yoongi commented lazily as he got to his feet, stretching out the aching muscles in his back in the process. “You’re just not that good, hyung.”

 

“Jimin,” Taehyung interrupted with a somewhat forced cheeriness as he jogged towards the group gathering around Jimin near the door. “Let’s all go out for dinner to celebrate – what do you say?”

 

“Celebrate?” Jimin laughed. Jungkook hadn’t heard him laugh so freely in months. “What, we’re celebrating the fact that I’m gay?” He snorted again in amusement. “I didn’t realize that was anything to be excited over.”

 

“Well – we can celebrate the part where you finally told us,” Taehyung amended. He threw an arm around Jimin’s shoulders and led him to the exit – and away from Jungkook. “It took you long enough!”

 

Jimin began complaining. “What do you mean it took long enough – how did you know?”

 

“That’s beside the point,” Hoseok added dismissively, following them with an eager hop to his step. “What we all really want to know about is Taemin!”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened in surprise. “Taemin? What about him?”

 

Their voices trailed off as the group walked further away. Jungkook remained seated on the floor of the practice room, staring after their retreating figures in disbelief. He felt like his entire world had been flipped upside down in a matter of minutes and he had no idea what he was supposed to do anymore.

 

He blinked and the room came back into focus. He noticed Yoongi shuffling slowly – purposefully – around the room for the various items that the other members had left behind, only pausing to watch Jungkook with an intense gaze once Namjoon approached.

 

“You don’t have to like it,” he told Jungkook simply, “but one way or another you’re eventually going to have to learn how to accept it.”

 

The leader extended a hand down to the boy, but his expression was hardened.

 

“Are you going to be able to eat with us?” he asked. Then, pursing his lips, Namjoon went on. “We want you there… but I won’t have you ruin this for Jimin – not when he needs his friends the most right now.”

 

Jungkook looked across the room where Yoongi had stopped feigning inattention and was watching them openly with a level stare.

 

“I’ll make an excuse for you if you can’t do it,” Namjoon quietly assured him. “But if you can, I’m sure Jimin wants you there.”

 

Swallowing his insecurities, Jungkook slowly began to nod. “Yeah.” He grabbed Namjoon’s hand and hoisted himself to his feet. “I’ll come.”

 

Yoongi met the pair at the doorway, clapping a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder as they stepped out of the practice room. “Good choice, kid.”

 

*

 

“Another plate of beef!” Taehyung called out to the woman at the back of the restaurant.

 

“Oh my God,” Jimin moaned, holding his stomach and slumping against Seokjin’s side. “I wasn’t planning on working out before I went to bed!”

 

“You’re skinny enough as it is,” Namjoon protested, picking up the last piece from off the grill with a pair off tongs and dropping it on top of Jimin’s bowl of rice. “Eat up!”

 

“Ok, I’m going to need another drink if you guys are going to be here any longer,” Yoongi murmured, turning to try and get the owner’s attention.

 

“Make it two,” Seokjin added.

 

“Three!” Hoseok called from the opposite end of the table. “We don’t have another appearance for at least a week – I can burn it all off later.”

 

Jungkook sat quietly at the far end of the table, taking in the raucous, upbeat atmosphere. Normally, he was the one at the center of it. He was the one asking for more food. He was the one cracking jokes with the others.

 

But now, he silently ate his small portion and tried to stay out of the way.

 

The majority of the other members knew why he was silent. They had each found a way to distract Jimin from his odd behavior. Even still, Jungkook noticed Jimin cast a nervous glance in his direction more than once that night.

 

As more food and drinks were brought to their table, gradually piling on top of the other until every bit of space available on the table was filled, Jungkook stood up and made a quiet excuse to the people around him that he was going to the bathroom. He immediately headed towards the back of the restaurant, maneuvering easily around the tables while keeping his head down. It wouldn’t do them much good, he reasoned, considering they were loud enough and drawing attention to themselves anyway. He had no reason to hide when most in the restaurant had, likely, already recognized him. Who knew how many videos had already been taken of them and uploaded online at this point?

 

Jungkook slipped into the men’s bathroom, checking his surroundings. The stalls were empty, for which he was grateful. He stood at the mirror, staring at his worn expression as he tried to make sense of this entire night. He turned on the faucet, reaching down to splash cold water on his face as he thought.

 

It just – it didn’t make sense. Why did Jimin, of all people, have to be gay? He was one of Jungkook’s closest friends. How could he have not known something so important about Jimin in all of the time that they’d been friends? It was like Jimin was an entirely different person, now that Jungkook knew the truth. And yet, none of the other members seemed to think so. They all seemed to take it in stride like they already knew – like everything was just fine.

 

But Jungkook hadn’t known. And everything wasn’t fine.

 

From everything that he’d been taught to believe, homosexuality was wrong. It was a Western custom – not something that Koreans do. Not to mention, if anyone in the press caught wind of something so condemning, their careers would plummet. No matter how high they had gone on the charts, all of them would be done for if anyone heard so much as a rumor about Jimin’s sexual orientation. Just imagining Jimin being intimate with another man made him –

 

Jungkook swallowed, looking away from the mirror.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

His head snapped up, catching Jimin’s expression in his reflection. He immediately put on a weak smile, reaching to his right for the nearest paper towel to wipe off his hands and face. “Oh, hyung,” he said. “Enjoying your meal?”

 

Jimin smiled. “Yeah, it’s great. Food always tastes better when someone else offers to pay.”

 

Jungkook smiled at his joke.

 

Silence filled the space as Jungkook realized he was unable to find the right words to say to Jimin.

 

“Are we – ” Jimin wrung his hands together nervously as Jungkook tried to meet his gaze without faltering “ – are we ok, Jungkook?”

 

Everything’s fine, Jungkook wanted to lie. We’re ok.

 

But the words just wouldn’t come.

 

Jimin read into the pause loud and clear.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jimin instinctively apologized. He swallowed, subconsciously digging his fingernails into the back of his hands as he clenched them together tightly. “I didn’t want to make anything weird between us. I just thought everyone should know.”

 

Jungkook nodded wordlessly.

 

“I was tired of keeping it a secret,” Jimin continued in a soft voice. “I always worried that one of you would hate me because of it, I just – ” he exhaled slowly “ – I hoped it wouldn’t be you.”

 

Jungkook sighed. “I don’t hate you,” he murmured in a low baritone. “And stop apologizing. You’re making it sound like it’s your fault.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened in confusion, making the fluorescent lights of the bathroom reflect in his eyes. “Well – isn’t it?”

 

Jungkook put his hands on the sink behind him and leaned against it. “No,” he quietly admitted. “It’s – I’m sorry,” he apologized. “Everyone else seems ok, but – I don’t know,” he stammered, feeling his ears burn in embarrassment as he was suddenly put on the spot in front of Jimin. “I just wasn’t expecting it. That’s all.”

 

Jimin nodded vigorously, as if hoping his eager agreement and siding with Jungkook would instantly repair their fragile status at the moment. “Of course,” he enthused. “I’m sure it was all… very surprising.”

 

“And I’ve always been told that being gay is…” He eyed Jimin’s cautiously optimistic expression a bit nervously before looking away, feeling ashamed that he had made his friend feel so guilty. “You know,” he ended dismissively. “I just… think it will take some time.”

 

“But… you’ll try?” Jimin asked carefully. “We’re still friends?”

 

“Of course,” Jungkook agreed, though his stomach twisted at just how he was going to be able to overcome such a large obstacle in their friendship. “But it might take me a bit longer to get used to than everyone else.”

 

“Right, right – yes, of course.” Jimin nodded rapidly, attempting to appear as accommodating as possible. “After all – I’m really no different than I was before.”

 

Jungkook silently disagreed with him, but nodded anyway.

 

“We’ll just – keep doing what we’ve always done,” Jimin told him confidently. “It’ll be like nothing ever changed. I don’t ever have to mention it again, if that’s what you need for us to stay friends.”

 

Jungkook considered the offer he was making. Jimin was willing to pretend that part of his life didn’t even exist when he was around Jungkook if that meant their friendship would remain unharmed. Even with Jungkook’s uncertainty of his relationship with Jimin, he knew it wasn’t fair of him to ask that of his friend – he was allowed to be who he wanted to be, wasn’t he? Like Namjoon had said – Jungkook was the one with the problem that needed to be solved. Not Jimin.

 

Even if Jimin’s offer sounded really nice right about now.

 

“No, hyung. I’ll be fine. Really,” he insisted with a genuine smile. At least, he tried to make it genuine. “I do have one complaint, though.”

 

Jimin’s face turned ashen, as if dreading the worst.

 

“How did everyone else seem to know before me?”

 

“Did they?” Jimin laughed, relieved at Jungkook’s strangely lighthearted question. “No they didn’t – they’re bluffing.”

 

“Seriously,” Jungkook insisted. He felt a tiny smile return to his lips as the fell into a natural banter that they’d always had with one another. “They all said they were expecting it! They even started listing off all this stuff that supposedly proved you were…” Jungkook made a hand gesture, unable to complete his sentence.

 

Jimin knew exactly why Jungkook hesitated to say the word in front of him for the moment, but he graciously helped him save face by replying quickly. “Oh, yeah?” Jimin challenged with a grin. “Is it all of this Taemin stuff they keep talking about?” he asked. “Just because we’re rehearsing a dance together, doesn’t mean anything.”

 

Jungkook tried to hide his wince at the idea of Jimin and Taemin being more than friendly with one another. “Well, that,” Jungkook said. “But everyone kept saying you had a crush on me,” he added with an air of disbelief. “I mean – like that would ever happen.”

 

Jimin laughed as well. “Yeah, that wouldn’t exactly work if you’re straight, right?”

 

Jungkook’s laughter died out slowly, parsing through Jimin’s words carefully. It hadn’t exactly been an outright denial of his feelings for Jungkook – had it?

 

He swallowed nervously.

 

“But – did you have a crush on me?” he asked a bit hesitantly.

 

“Well – maybe at first,” Jimin hedged. “Like – when we first debuted… I don’t know. You were just this cute kid running around and having fun with no idea what you were actually doing. But now,” he quickly clarified when Jungkook began to retreat in on himself at the surprising news, “I’ve lived with you for far too long to even consider having feelings for you. I know all your bad habits, Jungkook,” Jimin told him with a teasing air to his words. “Trust me – don’t live with a girl before you marry her or she’ll run screaming for the hills.”

 

Jungkook laughed lightly, feeling his fears slowly dissipate. “Sure,” he agreed quietly.

 

Their awkward laughter died out. “I – I don’t like you now, though,” Jimin tried to explain for Jungkook’s peace of mind. “That’s – that must have been years ago. Seriously. And it was a short-lived thing. So… yeah.” He rubbed the back of his neck nervously before turning his words back into a joke. “Don’t let that get to your head!”

 

“Right. I won’t,” Jungkook quickly assured him with a nod. He pushed off from the sink and pointed at the bathroom door. “We should probably get back out there. I’m sure they’re wondering what’s taking us so long in the bathroom.”

 

Jimin smiled and nodded, silently following in Jungkook’s footsteps as he led them back towards the table.

 

“Took you long enough,” Taehyung said through a mouthful of food. He threw his head back so no stray bits of rice would fall from his lips as he spoke. “Digestive issues?”

 

“Don’t be weird,” Namjoon quietly scolded Taehyung before stealing some of his food. “We’re still eating.”

 

“I have a better topic of conversation,” Hoseok announced to the table, sliding over to make room for Jimin, “I think it’s about time you tell us about Taemin.”

 

Jimin slowly lowered himself in his seat, glancing hesitantly at Jungkook.

 

“That’s right!” Seokjin leaned forward with a grin. “You never told us on the way over – but you definitely have a thing for him, right?”

 

Jimin cleared his throat. “How am I supposed to know? We’re just working on a dance together. Oh – which reminds me,” he quickly segued. “Hyung – how do you do that one thing with your feet when you fall back on your hands like this?” Jimin tried to mime the dance move he’d been practicing in the small space he had available while Hoseok made a confused face.

 

“What? Oh – you mean the part in your routine when you’re on the floor?”

 

“Yeah, that part.” Jimin nodded. “I can’t get the move right. You’re going to have to help me tomorrow. I keep tripping on my own feet.”

 

“Yeah, you have that problem,” Taehyung interjected with a wave of his chopsticks. “I’ve never seen anyone trip over their own feet nearly as much as you.”

 

“Shut it,” Yoongi snapped as he shoveled another bite of food into his mouth. “You’re hardly one to talk.”

 

The table roared in jeers and laughter, Jungkook included.

 

It was the first time that Jungkook actually thought he might be able to find a way to be ok with Jimin. He had gone out of his way to change the topic of conversation, all to help Jungkook feel just a bit more comfortable in his presence, even when he had no obligation to do so. Jimin – who should feel angry at Jungkook instead of apologetic – was trying to help Jungkook.

 

Perhaps nothing would change between them after all.

 

Chapter Text

The next week was incredibly awkward, to say the least. While both Jungkook and Jimin tried to keep their routine as normal as possible, they always managed to somehow make things supremely uncomfortable whenever they were in the same room together. Jimin seemed to always go out of his way to be nice to Jungkook – like he had been the one to offend him – and Jungkook just stammered and avoided eye contact without knowing the right thing to say. But for the most part, they made it through each day unscathed.

 

The only time it got a bit dicey between them was when Jimin and Jungkook had ended up alone in their dorm by happenstance. Two of their members were filming a variety show while the other three had disappeared to the practice room while Jungkook had been in the shower. When he got out, he stepped into the living room, dressed only in his shorts, and was running a towel through his dripping hair.

 

“Jimin,” he called out, interrupting his video game on the large television. “Where did everyone go?”

 

Jimin paused his game and glanced up. His eyes were a bit glazed over as he tried to shake himself from the stupor he’d fallen into after staring at the same screen for far too long. “You missed them – they just left. Went to practice.”

 

“Oh.” Jungkook nodded. He slowly took stock of the situation, realizing that he was standing in front of Jimin without a shirt on. Jimin himself had said he used to like Jungkook. Was he tempting Jimin by walking around shirtless? Perhaps it was best if he didn’t walk around their dorm anymore without a shirt anymore. He glanced back at Jimin, realizing that he had resumed his game on the screen without paying Jungkook a second thought. Nonetheless, Jungkook still decided to leave the room to find a baggy t-shirt.

 

Surely it wasn’t a problem anymore, Jungkook reasoned. He’d walked around in their dorm without a shirt on for years. Plus, Jimin hadn’t even looked at his bare chest when they spoke. He was far more distracted by his first-person shooter game than he was by a half-naked boy. Clearly he had moved on, just as he had told Jungkook.

 

But the unreasonable part of Jungkook felt a bit childish wondering why Jimin hadn’t even glanced twice at him when he was parading around their dorm half-naked.

 

After all – he did look good.

 

Jungkook stood in his bedroom doorway, debating his next step. His normal evening routine often included joining the rest of the group in the living area before going to bed, either playing a game as Jimin was or playing on his phone. But since it was just Jimin out there…

 

Jungkook swallowed his nerves and decided to return to the living area.

 

This was ridiculous. It was Jimin! He was the same, apple-cheeked boy he’d met years ago. He wasn’t any different now that he’d come out as gay! Jungkook kept repeating these thoughts to himself over and over as a mantra, unable to fully believe his own words.

 

Jimin spared a brief glance in Jungkook’s direction as he walked in, smiling slightly before returning to stare at the television and hit the buttons on his controller in rapid succession.

 

“Hey,” Jungkook greeted him. He sat on the far end of the couch.

 

Jimin nodded. “Hey,” he mumbled. “Oh, shit – shit – dammit!” Jimin swore. He flinched suddenly as an array of bullets flew through the air, hitting his character on the screen.

 

There was another stream of swearing from Jimin before he finally exhaled, body slumping in defeat as he melted against the back of the couch. Jungkook cleared his throat.

 

“Can, uh… can I join?” he asked tentatively. “We could go team player mode and take those guys on, no problem.”

 

Jimin perked up at his offer. “Really?” He smiled eagerly. “Grab a controller!”

 

The pair jumped into another game immediately. As time passed, Jungkook felt himself relax as the stress of spending time alone with Jimin left his body. He really was the same Jimin that’d he’d known all along, Jungkook slowly began to realize. Nothing had really changed, had it? This was something they had always done. Why did Jungkook ever think it would be different?

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook finally spoke up after their usual gaming banter had subsided. They still had the distraction of the game playing on the screen in front of them, which made things easier for Jungkook to talk. “I, uh… I really appreciate what you did for me last week.”

 

“Oh, yeah?” Jimin’s body jerked, pounding a button rapidly on his controller. As soon as he stopped and readjusted in his spot, he continued. “What did I do?”

 

“When we went out to eat and you… changed the topic of the conversation,” Jungkook softly explained.

 

There was a brief silence that Jungkook was sure had nothing to do with his preoccupation on the game.

 

“You said all you needed from me was time,” Jimin answered. “I wanted you to have it.”

 

Jungkook smiled slightly. “You don’t have to do that for me, hyung. I can handle it.”

 

“Yeah, well…” Jimin’s character onscreen fell over as a red hue filled his screen. He glanced over at Jungkook allowing his attention to focus on the conversation once again. “I was just looking out for you.”

 

Jungkook narrowed his gaze on his screen so he wouldn’t have to see Jimin’s caring expression, making him feel guiltier than he already was. “Well – I just want you to know that I’m fine, now. I think.”

 

Jimin chuckled. “So now you want me to give you all the details about my top secret affair with Taemin?”

 

“Ok, maybe not that much,” Jungkook amended with a laugh of his own.

 

Jimin smiled and picked his controller back up as his player reentered the match. “Yeah, alright, I got it.”

 

The room grew quiet again while they focused on their match. For several minutes, all that was heard was the gunfire and explosions coming from the speakers on the television. When Jungkook’s character was thrown from the roof of a building after an untimely grenade, he, too, waited like Jimin had until he could be re-spawned elsewhere on the game map.

 

But as he waited, Jimin’s words from before came back to him.

 

“So…” he started hesitantly. “Then… you are seeing Taemin?”

 

Jungkook caught a slight smirk from Jimin before he turned his head and glanced in his direction with a coy expression. “I thought that would be too much.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “I just can’t win with you, can I?”

 

Jimin laughed. “The answer is no,” he finally responded. “I’m not dating Taemin.”

 

“But he is, too?” Jungkook swallowed. “G-gay, I mean.”

 

Jimin nodded. “Yeah. He came out to his members two years ago, so he’s been kind-of… I guess you could say he’s been like a coach to me – you know, with everything,” he murmured, seeming mildly embarrassed at the way that he described Taemin’s role in his life. Then, shrugging, Jimin added, “It’s just been nice to have a friend who was in the same position as me.”

 

Unbidden, Jungkook felt his heart clench in despair. He abruptly paused their game, spinning his body in Jimin’s direction before he even realized that he’d done so. Jungkook swallowed anxiously and uttered the words that had instantaneously come to him upon hearing Jimin’s comment.

 

“We’re your friends, too,” Jungkook told him with sincerity. “You can trust us.”

 

“Well – yeah, of course. But,” Jimin continued with an apologetic expression, “none of you are gay, are you?”

 

Jungkook fought off his instinct to respond with a vehement denial before answering. “I can learn to understand,” he promised. “I mean – you can talk to me – to us – and we can help, too.”

 

“I appreciate that,” Jimin murmured softly.

 

“Right. I’m just worried – ” Jungkook hastily explained “ – that you’ll start to feel like you can’t talk to us anymore.” He shook his head firmly. “I don’t want that.”

 

Jimin smiled, staring back at Jungkook for a beat before speaking. “I don’t want that either.”

 

“Even if I’m a bit freaked out,” Jungkook continued with his pledge, “or if I don’t understand something, or – or whatever – I’ll still listen. No matter what, hyung. I’ll try my best.”

 

To his surprise, Jimin launched off of his end of the couch, leaping onto Jungkook and wrapping his arms snugly around his torso at an odd angle, squeezing him as tight as he could. “Thanks, Jungkookie. I mean it.”

 

Jungkook froze in surprise. Jimin was hugging him. His hands dug into his shoulders while his cheeks pressed up against Jungkook, breath exhaling warm against his neck as he remained frozen in his position. He felt a small tingle run down his spine at Jimin’s touching gesture as he showed Jungkook how much his words meant to him. It took a bit for Jungkook’s brain to catch up, realizing that Jimin was hugging him. As soon as he had pieced it together and was about to return his hug, Jimin suddenly – abruptly – pulled away.

 

“I’m – I’m sorry,” he hastily apologized, falling back to his spot on the opposite end of the couch with a fearful expression. “I – that wasn’t weird, was it? I know you were bothered by me before, and I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable, so hugging might be off limits for now, but I just – ”

 

“No – it’s fine,” Jungkook assured him with a tight voice. “Hugging – that’s fine.”

 

Jimin nodded. “Yeah. Ok. Sorry, anyway.”

 

“Don’t apologize.” Jungkook followed Jimin’s cue and returned his eyes to the video game in front of them. He swallowed nervously. “Hugging a friend is normal, right?”

 

“Completely normal,” Jimin agreed.

 

“Right.” Jungkook refocused back on his screen, ignoring the niggling thought in the back of his mind that wondered why he wasn’t a bit more bothered by Jimin’s hug than he thought he would be. “Completely normal.”

 

*

 

“So… you’re cool, now?”

 

Jungkook kept his face to the back corner, drinking his water. He shrugged when he finished, capping the bottle. “Yeah. We hung out the other night, and… yeah. I guess we’re good.”

 

He heard Taehyung let out a heavy, albeit relieved, sigh from behind him. After Jungkook’s outburst in the practice room, Taehyung had become overly protective of Jimin. He’d watched each and every one of their interactions ever since, grateful that Jungkook had made gradual attempts to reach out to Jimin and repair their slightly damaged relationship. “Well, that’s good, I suppose. Jimin never actually said it… but he’s been worried.”

 

Jungkook tried to mask his surprise to this news as he turned around. “Well, we’re fine.”

 

Taehyung sat on the ground of their practice room, reaching forward into a pathetic excuse for a stretch. “Can I ask you something?”

 

Jungkook rolled his head around twice from one shoulder to the other before shaking out his arms and turning towards the mirror. “Yeah, what’s up?”

 

As Jungkook started to dance again, Taehyung cocked his head to the side, as if trying to decide whether he should even ask his question or not. “How does one grow up with a strong objection to homosexuality… and then overcome it within a week?”

 

Jungkook put all of his efforts into watching his half-speed dance movements in the reflection, analyzing his every step for inaccuracies. “I don’t know,” he muttered. “I mean – I don’t want to lose Jimin as a friend,” Jungkook answered honestly. He slowed his movements the longer that he thought about the question. “And I guess… I want him to be happy, I think.”

 

“You think?” Taehyung snorted in amusement.

 

“Ok – I know I want him to be happy,” Jungkook amended quickly. “But – it’s just the idea of Jimin kissing another man is… I don’t know.”

 

“But why are you even thinking about it?” Taehyung challenged him. He had stopped all pretenses of stretching, just as Jungkook had stopped dancing, and was now leaning back onto his hands as he looked up at Jungkook. “I mean – really the only thing that you might see in the future is Jimin meeting a great guy someday that he’s able to hang out with – just like us – and he also happens to kiss him behind closed doors. But you don’t have to see that part, right?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “I suppose not.”

 

“Then why would you let it bother you in the first place?” Taehyung truly looked as if he was trying to understand Jungkook’s underlying fear of Jimin’s sexuality.

 

Jungkook stopped to think about it for a moment. He thought of Jimin and how close they had been years ago during their group’s first debut. They had been friends – close friends – at the time. Few days would pass without Jimin taking Jungkook under his wing and protecting him from the cameras or the interviews. During their breaks, he would always stop by to check that Jungkook was holding up with their bizarre schedule, always making sure he was eating and sleeping enough. On the off chance they had a down moment in their schedule, Jimin managed to find a way to entertain him with the limited resources they had available to them in the small dressing rooms behind stage.

 

Perhaps it was just as Taehyung had said. In the end, dating was just a heightened level of friendship, wasn’t it? That didn’t seem so bizarre when Jungkook thought of it that way.

 

Slowly, Jungkook let in the unfiltered memories of Jimin’s arm around his shoulders, his hand on his knee, and Jungkook’s head in his lap. The touching was normal with friends, too. That was nothing new to any one of them. But as he tried to imagine what it might feel like if the moments with Jimin were a bit more intimate – if their naps during schedules included more warmth shared from one another – if their gazes were held just a moment longer – if their whispers backstage drew them just a bit closer – if the quiet during their breaks was filled with touching and kissing –

 

Jungkook shook his head violently, not willing the thoughts to travel any further. Those thoughts, they were – they were –

 

Gross, Jungkook convinced himself as his chest tightened uncomfortably. Very gross.

 

“It’s a sin,” Jungkook murmured to Taehyung as he sat beside him on the floor. “You’re a religious man, right? I mean – how are you so ok with it?”

 

Taehyung grinned in a lighthearted manner. “Well, the bible also says not to let women be in powers of authority over men. We pretty well threw that rule out when we elected a female president, didn’t we?” Jungkook didn’t appear swayed by his words, so Taehyung erased his smile and took on a serious tone. “Times have changed, Jungkook. The world – civilization – technology – it’s all changing. What may have been right and normal then doesn’t mean it’s the same now. We’re also told not to have sex before marriage or risk being stoned to death, but I’m pretty sure no one cares about that nearly as much as they used to.”

 

Jungkook contemplated the idea. “So you think it’s just an outdated rule?”

 

“Of course!” Taehyung’s lopsided smile covered his face again. “But – can I be honest for a second?”

 

Jungkook blinked back at him. “You mean you haven’t been honest yet?”

 

“Well – I have been,” he conceded with a smirk, “but I mean – can I be honest about what you’re actually thinking?”

 

Jungkook frowned. How could Taehyung possibly know what he was actually thinking when he didn’t even know what he was thinking?

 

“It’s not a religious thing,” Taehyung told him. “The real reason why you’re bothered has nothing to do with religion or the fact that you’re disgusted by the idea.” Jungkook watched him silently. “You’re just afraid because this is something new. It’s something different.”

 

Jungkook froze in place, his hands locking to his sides out of habit when he was surprised.

 

“You started training with us when you were just fourteen. We’re basically a family at this point,” Taehyung told him. “We’re the only people you see on a regular basis, and anything that’s different – anything that could change what we may have together – that’s a threat to you.”

 

“I’m not threatened,” Jungkook mumbled, beginning to feel the seeds of doubt crop up within him.

 

“Ok, let me approach things this way. If Jimin was straight, you wouldn’t have batted an eye, right?” Slowly, Jungkook nodded. “But if he also told you that he had a girlfriend and was thinking about moving out of the dorm to live with her – you would have been in this same, panicked state.”

 

It seemed silly – all of it, really – but Taehyung’s words were the closest thing he’d heard to finally making sense of everything. Because, after all, if any one of them had announced that they had a girlfriend, Jungkook would have found a reason to be skeptical of their presence in their lives, all because it meant they were moving on from what had only just become a normal life for Jungkook.

 

“But Jimin said he isn’t dating anyone,” Jungkook muttered pathetically. “Right?”

 

Taehyung shook his head, unable to give an answer one way or the other. “No one ever goes out of their way to announce their sexuality unless they’re also thinking about dating someone that they want to introduce to their friends and family, right? Why else would he tell us if he wasn’t planning on starting something up?”

 

“You mean… with Taemin?” Jungkook asked. “But – he said they’re not dating.”

 

“Not yet,” Taehyung amended with a shrug. “Who knows? It could be just a matter of time.”

 

And that thought, the prospect of someone else – anyone else – dating Jimin, seemed to be the scariest idea of all.

 

*

 

When Jimin got in to the dorms just past two in the morning, Jungkook was startled awake. It was a bit unusual for him to be woken by much in the night, but the soft beeping at the door had him sitting up in surprise.

 

“Hyung?” he asked blearily. Jungkook rubbed the palm of his hand over his eyes and squinted as Jimin turned on the light in the front entry. “Are you just getting home? I thought you were supposed to get back from practice at midnight?”

 

Jimin ignored his question for one of his own. “Jungkook – why aren’t you in your own bed?” Jimin quickly shut off the light and used the faint moonlight filtering through the blinds to carefully pad his way across the floor towards Jungkook. He crossed the living room to grab a blanket from the corner and bring it to the couch that Jungkook had fallen asleep on.

 

“Where were you?” Jungkook tried asking again.

 

Even in the faint light, Jungkook could make out the fond smile playing on Jimin’s lips. “Taemin and I finished rehearsing hours ago. We went out for a drink afterwards.”

 

Jimin carefully draped the blanket over Jungkook’s lap, pulling it high enough to cover his shoulders. Instead of curling up with the blanket, Jungkook sat up to try and make room for Jimin and let the cloth fall into his lap. “Is your dance looking good?”

 

“Yeah, it’s great,” Jimin said with a tired smile. “It’s coming together really well.”

 

“Maybe next time I could come, too, and watch?” Jungkook suggested.

 

Jimin looked mildly surprised by his offer, but smiled nonetheless. “Yeah – that would be great. It will be nice to have an outside opinion.”

 

Jungkook tugged the blanket back up and around his arms so it wouldn’t slide off his shoulders. He coughed lightly to fill the silence.

 

“Go back to sleep,” Jimin finally said, patting his knee. “I’ll try and keep everyone quiet in the morning so they won’t wake you out here.”

 

Jungkook nodded, watching Jimin’s movements as he fumbled around in the dark and attempted to move towards his room. But, just as Jungkook thought Jimin had reached the opposite corner, Jungkook took his chances and finally spoke up.

 

“Hyung?” The movements in the darkness stopped, and Jungkook imagined Jimin turning in place to look back at him. “Do you… do you think you’d tell me if you started seeing anyone?”

 

Light footsteps slowly returned to Jungkook’s side until he was able to make out Jimin’s confused expression in the darkness. “Why do you ask?”

 

Jungkook shrugged, suddenly embarrassed by his question. “I don’t know,” he muttered and looked down at the blue blanket Jimin had brought for him. “I was just… wondering.”

 

Jimin carefully perched on the edge of the couch, giving Jungkook a puzzled look. “Of course I’ll tell you. I’d tell the whole group,” he answered honestly. “That’s part of the reason why I told everyone I was gay in the first place,” Jimin quietly confessed. “I wanted to be able to tell you if I’d met someone special without having to lie.”

 

“Have you?” Jungkook checked nervously. “I mean… have you met someone?”

 

Jimin let out a small huff of laughter at the sheer absurdity of this late night conversation with the one person he had never expected to have it with in the first place. “Jungkook, why are you so worried?”

 

“Is it Taemin?”

 

Jimin’s laughter disappeared. “Jungkook,” he spoke carefully, “you’ve mentioned Taemin’s name more than once. Do you…” Jimin frowned, eyebrows furrowing. “Do you have a problem with him?”

 

“No – no,” Jungkook immediately denied with a shake of his head. “I just – I keep thinking, with how much time you spend with him, that there might be something that you’re not telling us.”

 

“Even if there was something there,” Jimin said, “I already said that I would tell you, didn’t I?”

 

“Right,” he hesitantly agreed. “But – you wouldn’t leave us, right? Even if you do start dating someone, you’ll still stay here? With us?”

 

“You’re worried I’ll leave?” Jimin asked. He stared at Jungkook’s wide, serious eyes. “Is that what you’re so afraid of? It’s not like it would be very easy for me to run off and get hitched to some guy! It’s not exactly legal in South Korea.”

 

“I know that,” Jungkook weakly protested. “But… you won’t leave. Right?”

 

Jimin fondly reached out to run a hand through Jungkook’s hair. “You really shouldn’t be worrying about things like that,” Jimin told him with a gentle smile. Then he stood and left the couch again. “Go to bed, Jungkook. You need more rest if you want to function like an actual human being at rehearsal tomorrow.”

 

Jungkook nodded in obedience, stretching out on the couch once again, before he realized that Jimin had left without actually answering his question at all.

 

Chapter Text

“Good work,” Hoseok announced to the room. He clapped Jungkook on the shoulder as he walked past to grab a towel to wipe the sweat from his brow. “I think we can finish up for the night. Everyone get some sleep, ok? Hyung – ” Hoseok spun around to point at Yoongi “ – I’m talking to you.”

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes, muttering about how he didn’t feel like composing that evening anyway, before obediently picking up his belongings and shuffling out the door.

 

“And you,” Hoseok continued, pointing in Jimin’s direction, “keep it short, ok? Two hours max. You need rest, too. You’re not invincible.”

 

Jimin guzzled half of his water bottle, a small trickle of water spilling out of the side of his mouth in his haste to hydrate. His cheeks puffed out as he nodded at Hoseok, swallowing his drink.

 

“What’s he talking about?” Jungkook asked, sidling up next to his hyung. “Are you staying here?”

 

“Taemin’s coming over,” Jimin said. He took one last swig of cool water and sighed at the refreshing taste. “We’re trying to clean up our routine before next week. You know – small things here and there.”

 

“Taemin’s coming here?” he asked with a furrow in his brow. “But I thought – didn’t you just practice a few nights ago?”

 

“Yes…?” Jimin answered slowly. He cracked a smile at the odd question. “And now it’s time to practice again. That’s… kind-of how this practice thing works, Jungkookie.”

 

Jungkook allowed a brief smile at the fond nickname before continuing. “Can I stay and see the routine?”

 

“What – you want to watch?” Jimin shrugged, seeming indifferent to his request. “You’ll get bored.”

 

Jungkook interpreted that as a yes.

 

Soon after the remaining members had left, Taemin entered the room with a wide grin.

 

“Hey, Jimin,” Taemin greeted him from across the large room in his gentle voice. He noticed Jungkook standing nearby and smiled politely, sending him a slight nod of his head in greeting. “Oh, hey – nice to officially meet you.”

 

Jungkook studied the slender man before him, taking a small step forward. “Jungkook,” he introduced himself.

 

“Taemin,” he replied. Before Jimin was able to make it over to see him, Taemin leaned towards Jungkook and said, “Jimin talks about you a lot, actually.”

 

“Oh?” Jungkook glanced briefly over at Jimin, noticing that he was still far enough away that their conversation wouldn’t be overheard, and shrugged nonchalantly as he turned back to Taemin. “I wish I could say the same.”

 

The easy-going smile vanished from Taemin’s face.

 

“Hyung!” Jimin called out to his friend in his excitement. He slapped Taemin on the shoulder and turned to Jungkook with a grin. “You met Jungkookie?”

 

“Uh – yeah, I did,” Taemin murmured. He looked back at Jungkook once more, curiously, before turning to Jimin with his usual smile. “We were just… getting to know one another.”

 

“He asked if he could stay and watch our practice,” Jimin told him. “I figured you would be alright with it. He can give us feedback on our performance.”

 

Taemin nodded. “Sure,” he agreed in his gentle voice. “That would be nice.”

 

But Jungkook found he had trouble listening to either one of them after his gaze became distracted by the hand that Jimin still had on Taemin’s shoulder. Jungkook tried to figure out just how friendly Jimin was with his new friend. A hand on the shoulder was relatively normal for friends, but was it really that normal when he had yet to remove it? Or when his fingers had wrapped themselves up in the material of his shirt? That didn’t seem like something just-a-friend would do.

 

Jungkook found himself sitting in the corner for the next forty-five minutes, arms crossed and eyes narrowed as he scrutinized every single movement between Taemin and Jimin. The constant touching between the two had thrown him off. He hadn’t been expecting that. He shouldn’t have been surprised, though – Jimin was always an incredibly tactile person and had been like that for as long as Jungkook had known him.

 

But this was more than Jimin’s usual habits. His hand resting on Taemin’s shoulder prior to rehearsal had only been the start of it. Once they had slowed down their dance to dissect every movement down to the precise angle of their bodies, the mirror in front of them seemed to have lost its purpose. As soon as Jimin asked about the positioning of his body, rather than point it out in the mirror or demonstrate the move himself, Taemin would leave his spot to physically adjust Jimin until he’d found the correct pose.

 

And that was when Jungkook started to see red.

 

It was like Taehyung had said, of course – he was bothered by Taemin because his relationship with Jimin meant that their family could be threatened. Taemin was disrupting the comfortable balance they always had with one another, making Jungkook feel uneasy about his presence.

 

That was obviously why he was so mad.

 

So – he stepped in.

 

“Wait, how did you do that with your foot?” Jimin asked as he tried to move his feet around in a complex motion. “Is it this?”

 

Taemin dropped his pose, walking towards Jimin one time too many for Jungkook’s liking. “No, it’s all in the hips. Here, I’ll show you – ”

 

Jungkook leapt out of his seat before Taemin’s hands could reach out. “Like this, hyung,” he interrupted, recreating the move in the reflection of the mirror across from them. “See what I did?”

 

Jimin blinked at Jungkook in confusion, eyes shifting back and forth between him and Taemin. “What are you doing?” he asked with a hint of an amused smile.

 

Jungkook tried to look as if Jimin’s question was the only odd thing about their situation, and not his eagerness to leap up and assist with his choreography. “Helping you,” he said, as if it were obvious. “See?” He did the movement again for Jimin. “You do it like that.”

 

Jimin nodded slowly, but still managed to mirror Jungkook. He glanced back at Taemin for confirmation. “Like this?”

 

“Yeah, yeah – ok, now do that part right after it,” Taemin continued without missing a beat. He walked across the floor, seemingly ignoring Jungkook and moving right past him as he spoke. He watched as Jimin moved, nodding his head silently as if hearing the music in his head. “Right, yes – good.” He put both hands on his hips and continued to study Jimin’s movements with a steady gaze. Finally he clapped loudly as he noticed an error that needed to be fixed. “Watch your shoulders,” he instructed. Taemin stepped into the same posture Jimin had been in and executed the move flawlessly. “Don’t let them completely collapse – you still need some strength in that pose.”

 

Jungkook watched as Jimin followed his direction word for word, carefully adjusting the placement of his shoulders in the mirror. Without warning, Taemin surged forward, holding one hand to the middle of Jimin back and bringing the other up to rotate his shoulders in the right direction.

 

Jungkook abruptly turned his eyes away and clenched his jaw in frustration.

 

“A little bit more – there. Good.” Jungkook hesitantly glanced back over at the pair, relieved when he noticed Taemin’s hands were kept to himself once again. He took the opportunity to interject.

 

“Why don’t you go back to the top?” Jungkook asked. “Run it again?” It was certainly safer to have them perform their routine from beginning to end without pause. All of this nonstop cleaning only led to an abundance of skinship, and Jungkook had certainly seen more than enough.

 

“In a bit,” Jimin told him, continuing with their process as if he hadn’t been interrupted in the first place. “We’re not done cleaning, yet, Jungkookie.”

 

“Sure you are,” Jungkook insisted. As Jimin continued to move, Taemin suddenly stepped forward and reached out to tilt Jimin’s head at a sharper angle. Jungkook swallowed. “I mean – I think it looks more than polished by this point. What do you say?” he tried again. “One last run through and then you can call it a night?”

 

Jimin frowned at Jungkook’s reflection in the mirror, but still didn’t stop his actions. “Ok, you’re literally the last person I would ever expect to tell me to stop practicing and just ‘call it a night.’” He furrowed his brows. “What’s the problem?”

 

“Ah – stop, stop – that spot right there!” Taemin, again, leapt forward. He seemed to be completely disregarding Jungkook’s comments entirely in favor of watching Jimin’s practice. “The hips, remember? Here – I’ll show you.” He moved forward, standing directly behind Jimin and grasping his hips between both hands.

 

Jungkook finally lost what little self-control he had remaining.

 

“Jesus – just stop touching him!” he shouted, surging forward to shove Taemin away from Jimin. He flexed his muscles involuntarily as he stood protectively in front of Jimin, daring Taemin to move any closer.

 

And it took all of five seconds for Jungkook to regain his calm state of mind and realize just what he had done.

 

“Jungkook?”

 

He swallowed, carefully turning around to face Jimin’s expression of disbelief.

 

His brain filtered through every imaginable apology he could fathom. He searched for one excuse after another, but none of them felt even remotely rational as he continued to reflect on his outrageous actions. Without a decent excuse, he just stood frozen in his place and waited for Jimin to speak first, only to watch the shorter boy gape at him with the same level of surprise.

 

Until, finally, he spoke.

 

“Taemin,” he murmured, glancing over Jungkook’s shoulder at the older boy. “I think we should… maybe try to find another time to meet.”

 

“Y-yeah,” Taemin answered softly. Jungkook didn’t dare turn around, but his ears remained tuned in to the sounds of the older boy quietly packing up his belongings and quickly departing from the practice room. Once he was sure that the room was empty of all people with the exception of Jimin and himself, Jungkook finally took a small step forward in hopes of explaining his actions.

 

“I’m sorry,” he muttered hastily. “He just – he kept – ”

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

 

Jungkook blinked in surprise at the roar that had come out of Jimin’s small body. He’d never heard such a sound from his hyung in his life, and he was sure he never wanted to again.

 

“Taemin is a guest in our practice room,” Jimin accused the maknae, “and you fucking shoved him when he was trying to help?” He scoffed in disgust. “You’re unbelievable.”

 

“He was touching you,” Jungkook weakly defended his actions.

 

“Yeah – and I didn’t seem to care, did I?” Jimin challenged with narrowed eyes. “I was fine with it, but you – you’re the one that wanted to stay for our practice and watch!” He stepped forward to shove an accusatory finger into Jungkook’s chest. “You told me you were fine with it, but you’re not, are you?”

 

“I’m – wait, what?” Jungkook frowned. “What are you talking about?”

 

“You’re still sickened by the fact that I’m gay, aren’t you? You couldn’t stand the fact that another man was touching me, even though it was entirely work related.”

 

Jungkook’s jaw dropped. “What? Hyung, no, that’s – that’s not it at all.”

 

“Save it,” Jimin muttered, shaking his head in disappointment. He turned on his heel, rushing to gather his belongings. “Clearly we need some distance right now.”

 

Jungkook felt panic gripping his muscles. His entire body went cold as Jimin’s words slowly sunk in. “Hyung,” he let out a pathetic whimper of a plea. “I didn’t mean to, I promise,” he tried to explain. “I’m sorry – I swear – it was just an accident.” Jimin didn’t stop to look, making Jungkook feel desperate for his attention. He darted forward instead, reaching out for Jimin’s elbow to force him to turn around. “Hyung!

 

Jimin wrenched his arm from Jungkook’s grip and shot him a wounded gaze.

 

“Just – stay away from me, ok?”

 

Jungkook watched wordlessly as Jimin left without so much as a glance back over his shoulder.

 

*

 

Within the week, Jimin had forgiven Jungkook. Or rather, Jungkook had trailed after Jimin nonstop for days on end, trying to apologize for his actions, and eventually wore him down. They were able to talk to one another again without feeling like there was a suffocating cloud surrounding them, but something was still off. Things were back to normal – but Jungkook felt like something was missing.

 

It wasn’t until one of their photo shoots nearly a week later before he realized what it was. As they got ready for pictures for their upcoming album, Jungkook watched his members interacting with one another in the reflection of the mirror. While Jimin was busy getting his hair done, Hoseok leaned over to show Jimin a picture on his phone, causing Jimin to burst out into peals of laughter at the image, slapping Hoseok’s knee. When Seokjin ate in front of the video camera that one of their coordi-noona’s was holding for him, Jimin immediately jumped into the frame and sidled up next to Seokjin on the couch. He held his mouth open like a baby bird and Seokjin obediently dropped a piece of food from his chopsticks onto his tongue. After stealing his food, he walked up behind Taehyung who was lounging in a free chair. Jimin quickly held up his phone and leaned in close to his friend, taking a selfie of the two of them with a V-sign over his eye.

 

When Jungkook had finished in the make-up chair, he joined Jimin on the couch, expecting to see the same, playful Jimin he’d seen all afternoon.

 

But when Yoongi arrived, Jimin slid to opposite arm of the couch to make room for Yoongi between them.

 

It was such a small action, but it was enough to send Jungkook’s mind reeling as he pieced together just what had been so different. The usual brotherly skinship that Jimin shared with the other members had been withheld from Jungkook – and Jungkook alone. Jimin hadn’t worried about a casual arm around the shoulder when it came to the rest of the members, but he had yet to put so much as a friendly hand on Jungkook since his blow-up.

 

The following night, Jungkook decided to take matters into his own hands.

 

“Hyung!”

 

Jimin looked up from his phone. He smiled at Jungkook from his spot sprawled out across their couch in the dorm. “Hey.”

 

“I just ordered food for everyone,” Jungkook told him with excitement. “It should be here in ten minutes.”

 

“Oh – is everyone finished recording?” Jimin asked. “I thought they would be busy for at least another two hours.”

 

“I sent a message to Taehyung.” Jungkook sat at the foot of the couch, trying to casually lift Jimin’s feet from the cushion and drop them back onto his lap, as if it were completely normal for him to initiate skinship. “He said they were taking a break for dinner, so I told him they should come back here to eat before going back to finish recording.”

 

Jimin casually sat up, pulling his feet back from Jungkook’s lap. Jungkook ignored the stabbing feeling of guilt.

 

“That’s good – they need a break,” Jimin said, acting unfazed by his movement. “I’m actually surprised Namjoon and Yoongi let them stop long enough for food. You know how they get when they’re producing,” he added with a smirk.

 

Jungkook smiled faintly and nodded. “Yeah, yeah…”

 

The room fell quiet. Just as Jimin went back to his phone to resume tapping away on his device, Jungkook swallowed and steeled his nerves.

 

“Hyung,” he began again, this time in a softer voice. “Are you still mad at me?”

 

Jimin redirected his gaze from his phone to Jungkook. “What – you mean for that thing with Taemin?” Jimin shook his head. “No, Jungkookie, I’m not mad.”

 

Jungkook nodded slowly. “Are you sure?” When Jimin raised his eyebrows in surprise at the continuation of their conversation, Jungkook elaborated. “It’s just – things are still weird. Between us.”

 

Jimin frowned. “I thought… we were back to normal?”

 

“I thought we were, too,” Jungkook quietly corrected him. “But you – well, you act different with the other members.”

 

“You must be seeing things,” Jimin protested with a smile.

 

“I’m not,” Jungkook insisted. “It’s like you don’t treat me the same as everyone else.”

 

Jimin sighed. “Jungkook, I forgave you already. We’re fine. What else is there?”

 

“But we’re not fine,” he pressed on, adamant about making Jimin see that something was still off between them. “You’re all… handsy with everyone else – but not me. And if you’re not mad at me – then what’s the problem?”

 

Handsy?” Jimin echoed dryly. “What – you mean I’m not touching you enough?” There was a hollow laugh. “Jungkook, you hate skinship.”

 

“Well – yeah,” he muttered pathetically. “But it’s never stopped you before, right?”

 

Jimin held up a hand in disbelief. “Ok, let me get this straight,” he murmured in a low voice. “You hate skinship – but now that I’m not using it on you, you’re mad at me?”

 

“I’m not mad,” Jungkook mumbled, feeling his cheeks heat up in embarrassment. He wasn’t mad. He was just… mildly annoyed.

 

“You are!” Jimin countered with his jaw dropped in shock. “I don’t even – you’re incredible, you know that, Jeon Jungkook?”

 

Jungkook looked at Jimin in surprise. He hadn’t expected this conversation to turn south quite so quickly. He’d brought up the problem in the hopes that pointing it out would be all it took to resolve the matter. Unfortunately, he’d somehow managed to piss off Jimin once again.

 

“You can’t keep doing this!” Jimin shouted, furious. His eyebrows furrowed as he grew more agitated. “If you don’t like something, you can’t just go and change your mind once it’s gone! It doesn’t work like that!”

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook spoke hesitantly. He needed to fix whatever he had done and fast. “I didn’t realize you – I mean, if it’s a problem, then – ”

 

“Seriously – how do you expect me to stop having feelings for you if you won’t let me stop touching you?” Jimin was breathing heavily, chest rising and falling rapidly with his surprising confession. “You have to let me move on, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook blinked at the unexpected confession. His mouth gaped as he considered what could possibly be the best response to such a statement, but he couldn’t formulate so much as a single thought.

 

Jimin, on the other hand, appeared almost relieved to have said what he did.

 

“I-I’m sorry,” Jimin eventually stammered in a soft voice. “It’s just – I had gotten over you – or I thought I did – but when you were trying so hard to be accepting after I came out, I started to have those feelings again and I wondered if…” Jimin swallowed, staring down at his lap while he shook his head and stopped his sentence before he could finish it. “But then you were so disgusted when Taemin touched me, that I knew I had to put some distance between us if I didn’t want my feelings to get out of hand.”

 

Jungkook hastily averted his gaze – motionless – unthinking.

 

“It’s hard enough trying to get over your first actual crush that you live with, so I’m not sure how you can expect me to do that if I keep acting like nothing has changed for me.” Jimin’s hands shifted in his lap, grasping one another as he spoke into the quiet, tense atmosphere. “You have to give me a chance to get over you, Jungkook.”

 

And all Jungkook could do was nod absently.

 

With a soft sigh, Jimin finally stood up from the couch. “I’m not hungry,” he mumbled. “You can tell the others I went to bed early.”

 

Without a look back, Jimin’s bare feet padded lightly across the floor before making it to his room and closing the door behind him.

 

But Jungkook – Jungkook had been left with a mix of strange emotions.

 

He felt… worried. Worried about Jimin.

 

And sad that Jimin wouldn’t be able to treat him like he had before.

 

Confused that he had never realized that Jimin still had feelings for him.

 

Angry at himself for making Jimin so upset.

 

But bizarrely… Jungkook also felt happy. He was happy that Jimin didn’t have feelings for Taemin after all.

 

He was relieved that Jimin had been telling the truth all along.

 

He was excited that there wasn’t a romantic relationship between Jimin and Taemin. There never would be.

 

Because Jimin still had feelings for Jungkook.

 

And for some reason, a foreign emotion made Jungkook’s heart throb at the mere thought of it.

 

Chapter Text

“Oh, whoops, sor – ”

 

Jimin stared over his shoulder at the tall boy that had stepped on the heel of his shoe during their latest run through of their choreography.

 

Jungkook swallowed and nodded awkwardly. “Sorry,” he muttered.

 

Jimin simply sighed and turned back to the mirror without another word.

 

It had been like that for nearly two weeks, now. Before, it had only been Jimin that had attempted to avoid close quarters with Jungkook. Now, suddenly Jungkook felt like he needed to do the same with Jimin. Every time he stood in such a close proximity to the older boy, he started to feel nauseous while his heart began to race.

 

And keeping his distance made it easier to ignore the true cause of his symptoms.

 

Jimin and Taemin had long since performed their dance duet on stage – a great hit that had been pulled off without a hitch, as far as Jungkook was concerned – but Jungkook couldn’t help the awkward feeling he always seemed to get whenever Jimin brought up Taemin’s name casually in conversation with the other members.

 

Their duet was over. Weren’t they supposed to be spending time with other people now?

 

The worst part was that Jimin hadn’t even told Jungkook about the extra time he spent with Taemin directly. He always heard about their evenings hanging out through a third party. Even then, it was frightening how much Jungkook still heard about Taemin. It was almost like the rest of the members wanted Jimin and Taemin to start dating.

 

“Yah, yah!” Hoseok called out over the loud music once he’d noticed Jungkook’s misstep with Jimin. “Pay attention! We don’t need any twisted ankles before our comeback!”

 

“Sorry – I’m just tired,” Jungkook immediately fabricated an excuse to explain his lack of focus. His eyes skirted across their reflections in the practice room mirrors until he caught Jimin watching him from the corner of the room. When their eyes met, Jimin quickly turned away and reached for the nearest water bottle. “I haven’t been sleeping well, lately.”

 

Namjoon walked past Jungkook, patting his shoulder. “It’s just the usual comeback jitters,” he tried to soothe Jungkook, though his assumption couldn’t have been more wrong. “It’ll be fine, Jungkook. You don’t need to worry about it, so much.”

 

Nonetheless, Jungkook nodded like an obedient maknae. “Right. Thanks.”

 

Hoseok sighed. “Ok, let’s just call it a night,” he said with a hint of irritation in his voice. He had most likely been hoping to continue working for another hour, at the very least, but Jungkook’s misstep must have made Hoseok nervous enough to force everyone back to their rooms to rest so that they weren’t dancing while half-alert. “No one has anything scheduled tomorrow right?”

 

“I’m meeting with the manager at two,” Taehyung told them. “He thinks there’s a drama I might want to audition for.”

 

“Then we’ll meet at three,” Hoseok said. “And please get some sleep,” he implored with a meaningful look at Jungkook. “This isn’t the time for accidents.”

 

“Ok, stop lecturing him – you’re not his mother,” Yoongi dryly scolded their dance captain. Just as he looped an arm around his shoulder and dragged him to the door, he sent a mischievous smile towards Seokjin. “That’s Seokjin’s job.”

 

Hey!” Seokjin called across the room. He pointed an accusatory finger in Yoongi’s direction as he followed close behind. “At least Army doesn’t call me a grandpa!

 

Noisy bickering echoed throughout the room as, one-by-one, each member grabbed their belongings and filed out of the room. It took a full minute for Jungkook to realize that Jimin was still present, and another one to figure out that he – like Jungkook – hadn’t been planning to leave the practice room with the rest of the members.

 

“I thought you were tired,” Jimin suddenly announced to the silent room. “Aren’t you going home?”

 

Jungkook shook his head and answered with completely honesty. “I’m not tired.”

 

Jimin stared at him through the mirror with an arched eyebrow. “You told Hoseok you were.”

 

“I’m not about to admit that I’m having trouble focusing.” Jungkook stared back with a challenging glint in his eyes, as if daring Jimin to talk to him about their fallout. “We both know they would have asked more questions than either of us would have wanted.”

 

Jimin swallowed.

 

“Fine, then,” he replied curtly. “I’m going to keep practicing. You can join if you want.”

 

Jungkook sighed, watching Jimin march purposefully across the room and restart the audio track on the computer once again before he centered himself in front of the mirrors. He’d only just begun to dance when Jungkook finally stepped forward and took action.

 

Their silence had gone on long enough.

 

Even as Jimin began to move expertly in front of the mirror, Jungkook refused to join him. He made a beeline for the same computer that was playing his music – and turned it off.

 

Jimin spun around and looked at Jungkook in surprise.

 

“What are you doing?” Jimin murmured in disbelief. It was an unwritten rule that they never turn off or change the music when any other member was in the middle of a practice session, and Jungkook had blatantly broken that very rule without an ounce of hesitation.

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook spoke in a clear, confident voice. “Can I ask you a question?”

 

Jimin blinked in surprise. He turned his body to face Jungkook head on and placed both hands on his waist. “What?”

 

“I know… you’re trying to avoid me.” Jungkook swallowed. “Is it because you still like me?”

 

Jimin’s eyes narrowed dangerously not liking the way this conversation was turning. “What?”

 

“Last time we spoke, you said you were trying to get over me,” Jungkook quickly explained, despite how little Jimin actually wanted to discuss it. “But you’re also avoiding me, so I wasn’t sure if you had been able to… you know.”

 

Jimin glared at him.

 

“Are you serious?

 

Jungkook nodded solemnly, focused on his goal. “I just need to check.”

 

Jimin laughed hollowly and started to turn away from Jungkook. “Ok – you can just fuck off.”

 

Jungkook winced when Jimin walked towards the exit. “Hyung,” he hurriedly continued before Jimin could disappear. “I just – I just need to know. That’s all. Please.”

 

Jimin didn’t turn around. “If you’re going to be an ass about it – ”

 

“I’m not, I swear!”

 

“Jungkook, seriously, just drop it.”

 

Hyung.” Jungkook stretched a hand out and gripped Jimin’s elbow. Jimin spun somewhat involuntarily and faced Jungkook head on once again. “Jimin – you have to tell me the truth.”

 

Jimin seemed to see something buried in Jungkook’s expression – maybe his desperate need for an answer – and finally took his question seriously. He crossed both arms over his chest in a protective stance before his cheeks turned rosy and he let out a huff of irritation. He avoided eye contact as he spoke and was only able to stare at the closed door to their practice room, though his guard was clearly up.

 

“You really think,” he began slowly, “that I can get over something that strong in just a few weeks?”

 

A flurry of butterflies took flight in the pit of Jungkook’s stomach.

 

He was afraid that might happen.

 

“So… you still have feelings for me.”

 

Jimin sighed, annoyed once again. “What is this, an ego trip?”

 

“No, it’s just – I thought you might have… already…”

 

“I’m so sorry it’s awkward for you, Jungkook,” Jimin apologized in a loud and rather unapologetic voice. To Jungkook’s ears, it even sounded sarcastic. “I guess I’ll just have to try harder to hide my feelings next time.”

 

“That’s not it! I just – I thought that maybe, if you hadn’t gotten rid of your feelings for me, I wondered if I – if we – ” Jungkook felt his words slipping away from him as he stood too close to Jimin. Their close proximity wasn’t something that was all that unusual for them on most occasions, but between the stubborn and determined look Jimin had directed up at him and the fact that Jungkook couldn’t help but focus on the small pout of Jimin’s lips, the space between them felt far closer than what he would have called comfortable.

 

“I wonder,” Jungkook tried again in a softer voice. “I thought that maybe – ” his mouth went dry when Jimin took a step closer. The move was clearly meant to be interpreted as a challenge, but Jungkook could only feel a thrill of nerves and excitement at the action “ – if you… if… we…”

 

Jungkook swallowed when Jimin looked up at him with wide eyes.

 

Fuck.”

 

Jimin only had time to arch an eyebrow, as if he were prepared to tell Jungkook off once again, when Jungkook suddenly ducked his head and firmly planted his lips against Jimin’s. The sudden movement caught Jimin by surprise, sending him stumbling backwards a number of steps before quite literally crashing into the wall of mirrors behind his back.

 

Jungkook wasn’t far behind. Before Jimin even had a moment to get his bearings, Jungkook swooped back in and pressed his full body along Jimin’s and dove forward for a second kiss. This time, he had the help of a stable wall supporting Jimin’s weight as Jungkook continued to press forward in a heated frenzy. Both of his hands shook nervously as he bravely slid them along Jimin’s hips and hugged him tight while his lips moved fervently against Jimin’s. For a moment, he’d even thought that Jimin was responding to his advances when he felt two, tiny hands encompass his biceps, but was brought out of his illusion when they pushed him away.

 

“Kookie,” Jimin breathed is disbelief as he stared up at Jungkook. He impulsively licked his lips after Jungkook had given him a chance to catch his breath. The image alone was enough to make Jungkook want to kiss him again, but the fingers digging into his arms made him remain still.

 

“What the hell?” Jimin murmured to himself. His wide eyes blinked owlishly, as if he were more surprised than upset. As far as Jungkook could tell, there didn’t appear to be any malice in his tone, only shock.

 

Or, perhaps, that was just his wishful thinking.

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook practically whimpered in apology. “I’m sorry. It’s just – ” Jungkook felt an unexpected surge of tears fill his eyes as he tried to explain himself. “I thought I was upset that you were gay,” Jungkook explained. “But then everyone kept saying that you liked Taemin even though you said you didn’t and he kept touching you when you had rehearsals and I thought – I thought maybe you actually did like him, but then you said you still had feelings for me and I suddenly felt – happy.” Jungkook blinked furiously, keeping his tears at bay. “And scared.” His eyes darted nervously back and forth between Jimin’s. “I’m absolutely terrified of what I’m feeling right now.”

 

Jimin’s face remained slack as he simply absorbed everything Jungkook had to say.

 

“I acted like an ass with Taemin – and with you,” he continued, “and I know I owe you an apology, but – I think now I at least know why I did what I did.”

 

Jimin was still.

 

“Hyung, I’m sorry,” Jungkook apologized in a frantic tone. He suddenly worried that he’d somehow screwed everything up all over again. “I – I shouldn’t have come between you and Taemin,” he apologized. Hesitantly, Jungkook took a tiny step backwards and tried to put space between them. “I just – I got so jealous when you two practiced and he kept putting his hands on you and tried to – ”

 

Jungkook’s long winded apology broke off as Jimin surged forward and pressed his lips back to his.

 

“Shut up,” Jimin breathed between kisses as he lifted both hands to Jungkook’s face and dragged his lips down to his level. “Just – stop talking.”

 

Jungkook hummed in response. He was hardly eager to break contact again to try and respond, so a hum would have to suffice. Jungkook returned his hands to their original spot alongside Jimin’s hips, this time sliding further to encompass Jimin’s lower back. A thrill of excitement shot up his spine as Jimin responded eagerly to the gesture. He arched his back to mold his body against Jungkook’s while his lips stopped moving just long enough for him to pant against Jungkook’s mouth.

 

“Fuck,” Jimin whispered as their bodies lined up perfectly with one another. “Kookie – shit.”

 

Jungkook beamed internally as his lips travelled further along Jimin’s jaw until he worked his way slowly down his neck, causing him to swear like a sailor.

 

“This isn’t real,” Jimin exhaled as a hand thread its way through Jungkook’s hair, holding him in place against his pulse point. “Unhfucking hell, Kookie – you don’t like men – you’ve never liked men – this is all some sort of a joke.”

 

Jungkook pulled away with a final kiss and looked Jimin straight in the eyes.

 

“It’s not,” he told him firmly.

 

“It is,” Jimin stubbornly tried to argue. “This sort of a thing doesn’t actually happen to people in the real world. Dramas – maybe,” Jimin conceded. “There could be a drama where some guy has a crush on their best friend for four fucking years and then finds out that, miraculously, they like him back – sure, maybe – but this never happens to people like me – ”

 

Jungkook allowed a lazy smile. “Shut up,” he responded, parroting Jimin’s earlier words. “It can and it did happen.”

 

“It’s all a dream,” Jimin tried to protest once again. This time, however, a hint of a smile crept forward, as if he were finally allowing himself to believe that it could actually be true.

 

“Are you ever going to stop talking?” Jungkook asked in a somewhat frustrated voice. “I really – really – want to keep kissing you.”

 

Jimin grinned and bit his lips playfully.

 

“Yeah, ok.”

 

*

 

“Ok, let’s… not.”

 

Jimin huffed in frustration. “Stop it,” he commanded after reaching out to grip Jungkook’s wrist and drag him down the hall from the elevator towards their practice room. “You’ve been avoiding this conversation for a month, Kookie. I think it’s about time we tell everyone, don’t you?”

 

“Yeah, but… I really don’t want to,” Jungkook muttered petulantly. He found an empty conference room to his right and quickly maneuvered Jimin inside. “Let’s just – let’s pretend we forgot about rehearsal, ok?” Jungkook pleaded frantically as he closed the door and swung Jimin up against it. He lifted a hand to Jimin’s face, running his fingers through Jimin’s hair. “We can go to that restaurant you’re always talking about – the vegan one.”

 

Jimin arched in eyebrow in amusement. “You’re really desperate, aren’t you?”

 

“Come on,” Jungkook attempted to convince Jimin. A wry grin fell into place as his eyes flickered down to Jimin’s lips. “If you’d rather, we could always… go back to our dorm and stay in my room.”

 

Jimin laughed as Jungkook pressed his warm lips to Jimin’s neck and nibbled at his sensitive skin. “Ok, now you’re just thinking about yourself,” he countered with a giggle.

 

He pulled his lips back and bit gently at the sensitive spot just about Jimin’s collarbone. Jungkook smiled in delight when he heard Jimin gasp. “Trust me when I say I’m not the only person I’m thinking about right now.”

 

“Ok, now you have to actually stop before I can’t function anymore,” Jimin interrupted him with a light shove. Jungkook reluctantly stepped away and sighed at the distance between them. “Seriously, Jungkook. What’s wrong?”

 

Although he continued to keep his hands on Jimin’s waist, Jungkook bashfully averted his eyes. Jimin had called him by his full name. As soon as the word “Kookie” dropped out of their conversation, Jungkook knew that things were serious.

 

“Why are you so nervous to tell them about us?” Jimin asked. Then, in a soft voice, he murmured, “Are you ashamed of me?”

 

Jungkook’s gaze snapped back to Jimin’s with a glare. “Of course not.”

 

As if expecting this answer, Jimin pressed on without hesitation. “Are you ashamed of yourself?”

 

He sighed. “No, Jimin.”

 

“Then can you just explain why? I mean – they’ve already accepted me, right?” Jimin explained. “They all know that I’m gay, and they’re completely fine with it. Why is it a problem for us to be dating?”

 

“We’re in the same group,” Jungkook pointed out with a tilt of his head. “Being gay and dating someone outside of the group is one thing. But us? I mean… it’s one thing to think that two friends are sleeping in the same bed in the middle of winter to stay warm, but it’s an entirely different thing to know that said friends are actually dating. They’ll start questioning all of our time that we spend together – and it’s none of their business what we do.”

 

Jungkook watched with mild amusement as Jimin chewed on his lower lip in thought. Clearly, he was considering the anonymity they’d had up until this point and wondered whether it would be worth it to give it all up.

 

“Ok,” Jimin quietly conceded. “You have a point – but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tell them. We just… we’ll have to set some ground rules for the house while we’re all still living together.”

 

Jungkook’s jaw clenched. He was slowly beginning to realize just how much frustration he would have pent up for the next few years once they spoke to the other members.

 

“Jungkook, please,” Jimin whispered. “I know you like your privacy – trust me, I get that – but I just want to tell them. Remember?” At Jungkook’s oblivious expression, Jimin jogged his memory. “I said that one of the main reasons why I even told anyone that I was gay was because I wanted to be able to tell them if I’d met someone special.” Jimin looked down as his hands, reaching for Jungkook’s. He rubbed tiny circles into the back of his palm. “Do you remember?”

 

Jungkook felt his insides melt at the reminder.

 

“Well – ” Jimin’s eyes looked up, causing Jungkook’s heart to skip a beat “ – I met someone,” he quietly confessed. “And I want to tell them.”

 

Jungkook swallowed, attempting to clear his throat. Despite all of the secrecy and their rather physical relationship over the last month, the feelings that had developed between them had happened faster – and stronger – than Jungkook had ever expected, given their already close friendship. Jimin’s words only confirmed that the feelings were mutual.

 

“I have to admit, Jimin,” he said in the hopes of responding with a lighthearted answer, “I’m not sure you’re doing a very good job of convincing me, right now.” A tiny, bashful smile spread across Jungkook’s face. “Saying something like that makes me want to take you back to the dorm even more than before.” But as Jimin ducked his head in embarrassment, Jungkook only smiled and reached out a hand to tilt his chin back up. “And… I love you, too.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened in shock.


“Now, come on,” Jungkook quickly cut the moment short. He laced his fingers through Jimin’s and hastily threw open the door. “Let’s go tell everyone about us before I chicken out.”

 

“Wait!” Jimin staggered along behind Jungkook in a daze. “You can’t – you can’t just say something like that and then expect me to be able to have a coherent conversation with the rest of the guys!”

 

Jungkook ignored his concerns as he practically barreled through the door to their brightly lit practice room where the rest of their group was stretching in various poses. Five heads looks up at them simultaneously, surprised by the loud entrance.

 

“Um – hello,” Jungkook abruptly announced their presence to the room. He strengthened his grip on Jimin’s fingers before lifting their hands for everyone to see. “Um – we’re… dating?”

 

Namjoon was the first to speak up. “Wait, are you asking us a question? Or are you telling us?”

 

“No – I mean – yeah. We’re dating,” Jungkook rushed to explain. “Not a question. More like… an announcement.”

 

“Wow,” Seokjin said with a blossoming smile spreading across his lips. “That’s fantastic. Congratulations!”

 

Jimin finally managed to catch his breath after Jungkook’s surprise declaration earlier and spoke up. “Actually, we’ve, um… been seeing each other secretly for awhile and thought, you know…” His eyes travelled to Jungkook’s. “Since it’s been going well, we should let you all know, too.”

 

Jungkook smirked back at Jimin. “Really well.”

 

“Wow.” Yoongi nodded appreciatively at their news. “That’s fantastic, guys. I’m really happy for the two of you.”

 

“Right.” Jimin loudly cleared his throat before pointing at the door behind them. “Actually – I’m sorry – we have to go. I just realized I kind-of dragged Jungkook out of the dorms because I really wanted to tell all of you the good news, and, um…” Jimin glanced up at Jungkook. “I think he left a few things behind, so… we’re just going to go get them.”

 

Jungkook blinked in surprise. “I did?”

 

Jimin’s eyes widened as he tried to communicate something nonverbally to Jungkook. “Yes,” he said in a low, serious tone. “You did.” He quickly shoved Jungkook towards the door without wasting time on an argument. “We’ll be back in an hour. Or maybe two. We’ll see.”

 

The members watched both of them hurry back down the hallway, visible through the windows of their practice room, and politely ignored the swat Jungkook gave Jimin as well as the giggle that followed.

 

“Oh, thank God. Finally,” Hoseok groaned before flopping to his back on the floor. “I thought they were never going to tell us.”

 

“Right?” Yoongi agreed with wide, expressive eyes. He continued to twist his torso this way and that as he spoke. “The way they’ve been tiptoeing around was way too awkward.”

 

“And their excuses?” Seokjin joined in with a snort of amusement. “Jimin was busy in the studio the other day and poor Jungkook looked like he was about to chew off his fingernails because he wasn’t home before midnight! When he left to go find him, I’m pretty sure he tried to make up some story about needing to go walk the dog.” Seokjin’s eyes rolled towards Namjoon in amusement. “We don’t have a dog.”

 

Namjoon snorted as he stretched towards his legs while in a seated position. “Yeah, well – I, for one, would have liked to pretend I was still in the dark,” the leader countered with a semi-regretful sigh. “At least before, I was able to convince myself that someone was running the washing machine in the middle of the night. Now, I have to face the fact that I actually know that I’m hearing Jungkook’s bed hitting our shared wall at two in the morning.”

 

“Ok, gross,” Yoongi shot back with a disgusted look. “My room’s on the opposite side of the dorm so I could have remained blissfully unaware of your little problem in the first place!” He kicked at the bottom of Namjoon’s shoes. “I really didn’t need to picture two of my friends going at it.”

 

“Eh, I’ve pictured worse,” Hoseok admitted with a nonchalant shrug. “They’re both hot, so it’s not like it’s that bad to imagine, am I right, Tae?”

 

Taehyung turned to the boy with a gaping expression.

 

“You mean to tell me,” Taehyung spoke slowly, “that all of you knew that my two best friends have been fucking like rabbits – and no one told me?