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Cali Caliente

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He's late.

He knows he's late, but Jimin’s booking it at fast as his legs will physically carry him. He briefly wishes he never quit track and field in favor of dance in way back in high school when he practically hurdles over a baby stroller coming out of the train station. He takes a turn so quick he nearly collides with the mail carrier. Thankfully it's just a near miss, Jimin really doesn't have time to help pick up an armful of letters and packages that he could have knocked over.

Which, if the mail carrier is this far along her route, then he's really late.

Jimin pauses for just half a second two doors away to brush his bangs out of his eyes and dab sweat off his brow. He doesn't want anyone to think he rushed here. He strides through the storefront of Blooming Affairs a moment later, cool and confident.

“You're late,” Namjoon says from behind his desk without looking up from his newspaper.

Jimin scoffs. He hopes he doesn't sound out of breath, “Barely. Not even ten minutes.”

“You've had two clients already.” He still hasn't even looked at Jimin. ugh.

Jimin glances around their store, his store, whatever. Their store. It's empty. He frowns, “Well, did you help them?”

Finally, finally, Namjoon folds his newspaper down and looks over. He fixes Jimin with a look, “That's not my job.”

“It's not like you're busy,” Jimin grumbles and shuffles his way over to his desk to boot up his system and open for the day. When he gets to the computer he notices that it's already on and there's been a sale for a two piece bathing suit and the new push-up model finalized on the screen. He looks up to smirk at Namjoon, but he's already turned back to his newspaper.

whatever

They've been sharing the space for a little over a year now, ever since Jimin lost his lease for his old storefront (fuck increasing rent, he's just trying to help people look good) and his roommate from college told him a friend was looking for someone to rent retail space. It wasn't too far from Jimin’s old storefront, the rent was reasonably affordable, and he trusts Hoseok (or trusted) so Jimin agreed without asking much.

Big mistake.

Turns out the space he agreed to lease wasn't the whole storefront, but just half the space that Hoseok's friend, Namjoon, already owned and operated out of.

Namjoon’s storefront already had a name, but Jimin figured Blooming Affairs worked as well for a lingerie designer that it did for a florist.

So he stayed.

Bitterly.

Well, Jimin’s certainly not going to give up and move out first. This is his dream! Even if Namjoon is an insufferable know-it-all eight days a week.

Nearly everything about Namjoon irks Jimin in some way or another. Early in their shared storefront relationship Namjoon had lent a book to Jimin. Some new release from an author that Jimin had been meaning to check out for a while. Namjoon had been reading it one day when Jimin had come in (not late) and after Jimin mentioned it Namjoon gave it to him to read when he was done. Barely a week later Namjoon spotted him reading it over lunch and said, extremely passive-aggressively, “oh, you're not done yet?”.

Since then, everything about Namjoon sets Jimin on edge.

From the way he prunes the dead leaves of his plants carefully every day after lunch, to the way he plays chill, low-fi, hip-hop beats over their sound system every damn day. Don't get him wrong, Jimin likes the music, it stirs a long buried part of him wanting to dance again. But while low-fi beats and ‘this song but heard from the bathroom at a house party while it's raining outside’ can be sexy in his opinion, it's not the right kind of sexy for what Jimin’s trying to sell. Jimin hates to admit it, but a little thotty top 40 would really pair well with the bodysuits he rolled out last month. But does Namjoon listen to his music requests? No.

 

Most of all, Jimin hates that Namjoon's just. All tall and shit. He's just out there, with all those legs. Fuck him, honestly. ”Fuck that guy”, Jimin's said at many a night out with his best friend, Taehyung. He constantly wears all these weird, frumpy outfits to work and still looks good? Fuck that. Namjoon looks like he's trying really hard to lean into the whole sexy librarian aesthetic. With his rotating selection of earth toned cardigans and big tortoise shell glasses. He looks like a hot professor. Or like a mysterious plant witch. Fuck that guy.

It's just obnoxious. Jimin would, kill for the kinds of proportions Namjoon has. Then he could model, or at least look good in, his own designs. Whenever Namjoon reaches up to water a particularly high vine or planter it just feels like he's taunting Jimin. Especially since Jimin's started seeing Namjoon duck into the Pilates studio down the block after work as his ass has filled out.

Now, a year after working in the same space, from his desk, Jimin glares. And Namjoon doesn't even notice.

whatever

Jimin won't even have to worry about Namjoon tomorrow. Thursday is Namjoon’s only day off. On Thursday, Jungkook comes in to cover Namjoon’s side of the store. Jimin’s only a little bitter about it, he's the one who knew Jungkook first. Jimin’s the one Jungkook started working shifts for when Jungkook first moved to the city and his mom called Jimin’s mom, in the way all Busan mothes apparently know each other even though Jimin had never previously heard of Jungkook, asking if he had any work.

But he likes working alongside Jungkook, even if he’s a bit of a brat with a painfully obvious crush on Namjoon. Its pretty easy to tolerate Jungkook regale Jimin with everything Namjoon did while Jimin had his own day off. At least it's preferable to being at the store with Namjoon. Jungkook’s a good kid. A little goofy and a little shy, but good. Plus, he's got a good body for selling Jimin’s designs. Besides, Thursday's give Jimin a good excuse to quiz Jungkook on the merchandise in the sexier side of Blooming Affairs for when Jungkook takes over his shift on Sundays.

This Thursday, however, is the last day of November. That means it's time for Jimin to decorate for Christmas.

He’d been too nervous to go all out last year, he'd only just started leasing from Namjoon at the end of last October, and it all felt too new to decorate to the extent that his clients at his old storefront were used to.

This year, however, it's gonna be Christmas balls to the wall.

Jimin and Jungkook lock up and leave the store together that Thursday, but the minute Jungkook heads for his train downtown Jimin doubles back toward the store. Jimin digs out the box of glittered snowflakes he'd kept from 2 years ago, and gets to work.

Three hours and two trips to the twenty four hour dollar store later Blooming Affairs looks like a winter wonderland. Nearly every surface is covered in snow or a Santa figurine. The new panty set he's spent the last eight months tinkering with looks perfect in the front window, even if they have to share the space with one of Namjoon’s cactuses. He's covered the cactus in twinkle lights, anyway. Jimin surveys his Christmas-y kingdom, wipes a speck of glitter off his cheek, and nods proudly.

He's not feeling as confident when he arrives the next day. For one, he's running late again. Jimin had spent twenty minutes on the train at a complete stand still while the train conductor mumbled something completely unintelligible over the loudspeaker about the state of their commute. By the time Jimin had reached his stop his calf had cramped up from anxiously tapping his foot while they were delayed. Sprinting while one of your feet is asleep is nearly as uncomfortable as dancing with a splinter in your big toe. And Jimin would know.

Second of all, by the time Jimin reaches Blooming Affairs (only eighteen minute late, thank you very much) Namjoon isn't behind his desk or buried behind his newspaper.

Instead, he's standing in the middle of the aisle separating their two businesses, staring at Jimin’s holiday display.

“What’s this?” Namjoon asks. He's still staring out at the display. He hasn't even looked at Jimin yet. Even after Jimin spent an extra ten minutes of his morning digging out a soft brown sweater that makes him look like a very smoochable reindeer.

“Christmas.” Jimin says dryly, “It’s Christmas.”

“It's-” He trails off. Namjoon turns slowly, looking all around the store, absorbing the whole display. For a moment he looks almost awestruck. He looks like he might not say something that makes him sound like a huge dick. But then, he brushes his hand over the red velvet of Jimin’s Santa Bustier and makes a face like he smells something bad, “It’s everywhere.”

Jimin crosses his arms and pouts, “it's Christmas.”

Namjoon carefully plucks a pair of reindeer antlers off a ceramic pot filled with succulents from his side of the store and hands it to Jimin.

“Christmas, as it is, is just a capitalist machine.” Namjoon says, “designed to prey on people's guilt.”

Jimin looks around. All he sees is snow and love. Maybe it's fake snow and love but, still, it's pretty. It looks pretty, “It’s just fun.”

Namjoon turns away and begins gathering all of Jimin's hard work up on his arms. He plops it down on Jimin’s desk, “it's just a little…” Thankfully he trails off before he can insult Jimin again.

Jimin huffs, “It's fun.”

Namjoon ignores Jimin and continues gathering up all of Jimin’s hard decorating. He comes over and dumps a tangle of tinsel and faux snow in Jimin's waiting arms.

“We don't need something so gimmicky, right?” Namjoon says with a grin. Jimin's stomach sours as he continues, “I don't want to use some sort of guilt laden obligation to buy something for loved ones to sell my stuff.”

Gimmicky?? Jimin can nearly taste the judgment. He knows what Namjoon really means, what he really thinks of Jimin's holiday decor. Tacky. Namjoon thinks his side of the store looks tacky. But it's not, Jimin thinks, practically seething as he watches Namjoon pick up his damn newspaper from behind his desk. His designs are tasteful. Special occasion wear. It's not like he's got cheaply made booty shorts that say ‘heaux heaux heaux’ on the ass. A little risqué sometimes, sure, but it's freakin lingerie. It's freakin Christmas. It's not tacky

Jimin takes his beautiful decorations back to his desk on his side of the store, “it's not like i'm the one who needs help selling product.”

The rest of the day feels sour, like eggnog left out to curdle. Jimin spends the afternoon bitterly cutting snowflakes out of receipts and glaring over at Namjoon’s side of the store. Every time Namjoon looks up and catches Jimin's eye, he smiles like he didn't just fucking ruin Christmas. The eight time it happens Jimin mockingly sticks his tongue out toward Namjoon, and Namjoon blushes deep cinnamon red and trips over a ficus. From then on Namjoon deftly avoids looking at Jimin until closing. Which is even worse.

His next day off, Sunday, Jimin vents.

“He's just so,”Jimin says, peach Bellini swishing out of his glass, “Just and asshole.”

“Hey, now,” says Hoseok, who is still nursing his first beer and is also Namjoon's friend.

Seriously, who orders beer at brunch.

Taehyung, Jimin's best friend, his soulmate, his real brother, at least is in the holiday spirit and sipping on eggnog. Jimin's not one hundred percent sure if it's actually got any booze in it, but he’ll defend Tae’s beverage choice till his dying breath.

Jimin teaches our and smooches Taehyung's cheeks with his palms, “You get me.”

“If the Tony's are gay Christmas, then Christmas is. Something else that's good,” he says sagely, while he knocks back his dairy-heavy brunch drink like it's a shot. Taehyung’s stomach will probably be really upset later, and Jimin will rub it like the soulmates they are. At least he looked cool doing it. Coolness has become imperative since Taehyung told Jimin his goal of making Hoseok is New Years midnight kiss.

It might be doing well, Jimin can't really tell.

Anyway, that doesn't matter.

What matters is-

“He's the Grinch, Hobi-hyung,” Jimin whines, “The fucking Grinch! Seven foot tall Grinch! He tore down all my decorations!”

“Only on his side of the store,”Hoseok points out.

“Yeah but,” Jimin pouts, “it looks stupid with just half the store decked out.”

Hoseok isn't even listening. He's making awkward goo-goo eyes with Taehyung. Jimin shouldn't have invited just the two of them. He's the awkward third wheel now and he should be the main focus.

He pouts. No ones making goo-goo eyes at him.

 

Jimin isn't hungover when he gets to work on Monday morning, but he is running late again.

Also, he might be hallucinating.

Namjoon is standing in the middle of their floor, tangled in multicolored Christmas lights, looking incredibly distressed.

“You're late,” Namjoon says, as approximately two hundred christmas baubles tumble out of his hands and clatter to over the floor.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jimin asks. He steps over a few of the rolling balls to drop his bag behind his desk.

“Decorating,” Namjoon grunts as he reaches to hang a star off of a fire sprinkler. Jimin's pretty sure it's not legal, but he finds himself nodding anyway.

“Uh-huh,” Jimin says, absolutely not fixating on the think sliver of tan stomach exposed by Namjoon’s reach, “can I ask why?”

“I've recently seen the light,” Namjoon grunts. He doesn't look down at Jimin, which feels infuriating, “as to why Christmas decorations might be important.

“Hoseok?” Jimin asks.

Namjoon finally hooks he bauble over the plumbing and leans back, satisfied. He grins and fixes his shirt, covering his abdomen again, like a bastard, “maybe.”

“This won’t impress him, he doesn’t even like much Christmas,” Jimin states, a little bitter that Hoseok went behind his back and maybe more than a little bitter that Namjoon can actually reach that high to decorate, “Besides, he’s into someone else, I think.”

“Who? Hoseok? Oh, I know, ” Namjoon says as he drags the step stool across the linoleum floor. It squeaks horribly and a woman browsing through Jimin’s sale rack of summer thongs gives Namjoon a dirty look. Jimin sneers right back, anyone who’s sifting through last season’s patterns just to bargain hunt has no room to judge so rudely. She ends up finding something she likes, though, and Jimin has to step away to check her out without fully hearing Namjoon say, “It’s not him I’m trying to impress, anyway.”

Jimin completes her sale and she swiftly scurries out for the store with her discount thongs when Namjoon calls him towards the back of the store. He’s standing over by the curtained dressing rooms with the step stool propped open. Jimin saunters over and sees the tangle of ribbon and greenery in Namjoon’s hand.

Namjoon thrusts the jumbled mess towards Jimin and says, “It looked nicer when you did it.”

Jimin takes it and inspects the handful. He recognizes it, sort of. It’s a little bundle of holly and mistletoe, wrapped neatly in a red satin ribbon, just like the ones he bought at the dollar store last week. It its not, however, exactly like one of the bundles he bought. This is fresh, real, honest mistletoe. Not the cheap decorative plastic Jimin bought. It smells nice, like evergreen. The ribbon, too, is neatly tied. Neater than the dollar store version, far neater than it looked at first. Neat as if it was assembled by the practice hand of a florist.

Jimin looks at Namjoon, but can’t get a read on his infuriatingly kind expression. Handling the stems carefully, he climbs up the step stool. His jeans catch for a moment on the second step, not in a way that really threatens his balance, but just enough to make Jimin wobble. Quickly, a warm hand is there at his waist to steady him. He probably doesn’t need it, probably, but Jimin leans into the touch anyway.

“I would have thought a florist would be adept at hanging plants,” Jimin says, stretching to reach the hook on the ceiling, “maybe that’s why you don’t have any customers.”

“My hanging plants do beautifully,” the hands around Jimin’s waist tighten slightly, not to tickle, but more suggesting that at any moment they could, “But ah- I felt bad for ruining your display last week. I- I don’t know what I was thinking. Trying to be cool, or something. Like we’re better than all this fuss. Ah- I'm just always putting my foot in my mouth.” He gestures a little too wildly as he speaks, and the whole Jimin/step ladder situation wobbles precariously. Namjoon quickly and securely holds his waist again. Once Jimin balances and returns to his decorating work, Namjoon continues, “I didn't mean to say it looked tacky, or anything. It's great. It looked great.”

“Well,” says Jimin, “I’m glad you came around. No one’s too cool for Christmas cheer.”

“I guess you’re right. I’ll trust the advice of our resident Christmas Elf from now on.”

“If that’s a short joke…” Jimin slaps one of Namjoon’s hands, but doesn’t let it get very far. As soon as Namjoon’s grip slackens Jimin turns and grabs his wrist, “Besides, I’m Christmas Angel, not an elf.”

“Ah, of course.”

He looks fond. Namjoon looks absurdly fond looking up at Jimin with one hand on his waist. Is this how he looks at Jimin all the time? It couldn’t be. Namjoon barely looks at Jimin at all.

“What are you looking at?” He asks.

“Nothing,” Namjoon tells him, bashfully. He glances away, looks at the floor. Typical, thinks Jimin. Namjoon doesn't look at Jimin. But then he turns back. He looks back up at Jimin and, with a thumb running up and down the crest of Jimin’s hip bone, says softly, “You.”

“Oh.”

Jimin quickly finishes his decorating work, feeling warm in his chest while Namjoon watching him. Once he's sure the ribbon won't slip off the greens he turns back to Namjoon.

“So…” he says as suggestively as he can. Namjoon only hums in response, so Jimin nods towards his most recent handywork and continues, “we’re standing under mistletoe.”

Namjoon's eyes widen, “Oh shit. That wasn't my plan. Obviously, well, long term uh. Maybe. B-but. I don't want you to feel obligated out of some Christmas-”

He's talking in circles and back to shyly looking at the floor again and not at Jimin. So, Jimin cuts him off the best way he knows how.

The kiss is great, warm and soft, but the angle is all wrong. Jimin is still up at the top off the step ladder and holding on to the little raining for balance. Jimin never thought he’d have this problem, but he's too tall. From way up there on the highest step he can barely reach Namjoon’s mouth. He's too far away to really kiss Namjoon how he wants too, so he pulls away after a moment.

Namjoon blinks up at him, eyes widening. He's looking a little shell-shocked but just as equally eager. Jimin releases his white knuckle grip on the step ladder and settles his hands onto Namjoon's shoulders, playing with the short hair at the back of his head. He carefully steps one level down on the ladder, only one though. Jimin rather likes being just a little taller than Namjoon. He briefly wonders if Namjoon could hold him up sometime, before leaning down and capturing his lips again.

Namjoon signs into his mouth, the kiss is warmer than the first. Richer. Like a perfect mug of hot cocoa. Namjoon's palms are still cupped around Jimin's waist, but as the kiss deepens he slides his up Jimin’s back to grip at his shoulder blades. He sighs again, a little lower in tone, nearly a moan. It makes Jimin feel hot all the way to his bones.

Jimin shifts his weight forward, leaning more heavily onto Namjoon's chest. One of Jimin's knees slides up, practically by its own volition, and he hooks his shin around Namjoon’s hip. Jimin chews on Namjoon's lower lip like it's a Christmas cookie while Namjoon’s hands slide back down the contours of Jimin's body to palm at his ass. One of his hands even scoops underneath Jimin’s upper thigh and he knows, he knows, that Namjoon could definitely pick him up if he tried.

It's perfect. Jimin would even go as far as to call it a Christmas Miracle. Heavenly Angels or Mariah Carey could write the soundtrack to this kiss. But instead of a poppy carol playing as Jimin sneaks beneath the hem of Namjoon's shirt to touch the warm skin of his ribs, the bell over their door begins to tinkle.

Namjoon, startled, whips around towards the sound of the noise fast enough that he accidentally whips Jimin around with him, pulling him off the step ladder and more or less drops him in the aisle.

“Oh fuck,” Jimin says from a heap on the floor, and then a little louder towards the front, “Be right with you.”

“Shit, are you okay?” Namjoon asks, helping him to his feet. Jimin would be angry about being unceremoniously plopped on the floor, but Namjoon’s lips are a just a little kiss swollen still and the most delicious color of red, like plump cranberries, that Jimin doesn't find himself minding much.

Namjoon gives him a once over before rushing up towards the front. The customer, just a woman asking about good plants for small apartments that don't get much direct sunlight, is helped quickly. She’s in and out before Jimin even finishes smoothing the wrinkles out of his shirt.

He wanders up towards Namjoon once the customer pays for her spider plant and leaves. Jimin won't deny that he's walking with just a little more slink in his step than is probably strictly professional.

“So,” he says, “that happened.”

Namjoon blushes, and laughs so cute it's nearly a giggle. He covers half his face with a bashful hand, but it's not quite enough to his his dimples from view.

“No pressure at all,” Jimin tells him, “we can totally chalk it up to getting caught up in the Christmas Spirit and forget all about it, if you want. Or-,” And he pauses, waits for Namjoon to look at him again.

“Or?”

Forty-five minutes later, when the bell above their door once again tinkles festively, they stumble out of the velvet curtained dressing room on Jimin's side noticeably more rumbled than when they entered. They are tangled, red faced, and just a little but sweaty.

Just as Jimin trots off to help the pair that just came in, he catches Namjoon humming something that sounds suspiciously like Santa Baby under his breath.