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whenever he has the time and space to waver, namjoon can be known to succumb to a little chaos. if left to his own devices, his mind will wander so far that it spills right out of him and swells like a current he has no choice but to succumb to the tides of.

generally speaking, those occasions result in broken crockery. swaths of coffee grinds swept wetly and unknowingly across namjoon’s tshirt. milk bottle lids tossed towards the recycling bucket but just missing the mark; forming an accidental minefield of opportunities for namjoon and his coworkers to slip on and fall.

“joon, there are four customers in the store right now, why is there eleven drinks on the counter?”

seokjin, the maybe-manager of GUSH, asks the question like he already knows the answer, the sigh loud in his voice and clear on his face, but fond and domestic even so.

namjoon doesn’t look up from the twelfth cup, his expression set and his favourite pouring jug wielded like a weapon as he commits to his art.

“i ... “ the angle of the jug lifts and seokjin actually sees the tension fall from namjoon’s shoulders as the coffee cup and his special jug part ways for the final time and he can place the finished product on the counter.

“i got it,” namjoon says - mostly to himself - and he pulls his phone out of the back pocket of his jeans to document his success.

seokjin’s phone hums in his hand and he doesn’t have to invade namjoon’s lair behind the aurelia ii [or ‘thetis’, as namjoon has re-christened her, in honour of the ancient greek goddess of water] because the product of this adventure blooms right there on his screen.

“#turtlepower #espressopatronum #GUSH #latteart #newGUSHpour” are the caption for an alarmingly professional looking shot of a cup of coffee with a tubby little turtle born of latte art paddling majestically in its surface.

namjoon pockets his phone and starts to wipe off the counter, humming now and smiling slightly.

“it’s utterly fucking ludicrous that you are the owner of this business and also the way that you are,” seokjin says, not for the first or fiftieth time since namjoon hired him to work here.

the picture of namjoon’s turtle concoction has almost two hundred likes when seokjin refreshes the post and when the soundtrack to their working day switches to a rihanna song, seokjin is assaulted by the mental image of namjoon sitting on a throne, tossing money up into the air around him because he has plenty of it, but little to no clue what to do with it.

when seokjin turns away, shaking his head to dispel the image, he is arrested by the sight of jimin dancing up on yoongi, who is handing a customer their change and thus the only actively working member of their team at this moment.

GUSH is the most popular coffee shop around and seokjin has no idea how or why, but he’s been tasked with keeping things running as close to smoothly as he can and so he gently guides jimin away to talk about potential new iced drinks before yoongi stabs him in the kidney for essentially humping him while he’s doing - you know - their job.

“heroes in a half shell,” namjoon muses aloud, presenting his successful final product to yoongi with a satisfied little nod and then turning to dump his practice pieces down the sink.

“turtle power,” yoongi murmurs like in response to a psalm, closing his eyes as he sips at his fourth coffee of the morning. shots of espresso are essentially the real life version of a spin boost for their cranky elfin barista and he wriggles in place as the turtle in his cup swims closer to bump up against his top lip, giving him a sweet little caffeinating kiss.

yoongi and namjoon care the most about coffee. they’re interested in and very serious about every single part of the process of harvesting it, roasting it, grinding it and pouring and presenting it, consuming it too to be sure of it’s maintained standard.

seokjin and jimin aren’t really baristas. they can pull espresso shots when they’re called to (because both namjoon and yoongi have trained them; encouragingly and threateningly respectively) and they listen studiously when namjoon lectures them on new beans and blends and their product.

namjoon and yoongi do the lion’s share of the creative portion and seokjin and jimin are there to complete the process; to take what their talented baristas make and see them safely (and sveltly, if you ask seokjin) into the hands of their always satisfied customers.

“i read an article about edible glitter, hyung, i think my fairytale frapp has finally come together, i just need the store credit card to order the unicorn horn straws and then …………”

jimin is clinging to seokjin now, eyes so wide that seokjin knows it’s only a matter of time before jimin starts to bodily climb him in his quest to make sure they literally see eye to eye on this, but a queue of new customers is forming at the counter with the word “turtle” hovering over them like a cloud and seokjin knows an impending storm when he sees one.

“it’s go time,” seokjin says, guiding jimin toward the register now that yoongi has migrated back into his and namjoon’s den of bean endeavours.

namjoon stands straight and tall, stretching up to his full height and offering his fist to yoongi; initiating the rock, paper scissors game that will decide who is pulling shots and who is steaming milk for this session.

“i have a kind of large order, it’s for my coworkers and it’s going to be a little bit complicated, i’m sorry,” the second customer in line is telling jimin and seokjin grins; truly beams at the flustered customer as he reaches out to take the scribbled order from her, making sure to leave a lingering caress at her wrist as he does.

“don’t you worry, we work like a dream when we’re busy,” seokjin assures her, as jimin codes the list of drinks correctly onto the neon post-it notes that make for their order system.

jimin calls out what he’s writing as he does and namjoon shouts it back to make sure they’ve got it right as he gets to work pulling shots, following the orders stuck neatly along the counter in front of thetis.

“let’s fucking do this,” yoongi adds, pointedly pushing namjoon’s pouring jug behind the grinder and half filling his own jug with milk to stream for a latte first, then probably sixty other drinks after that before he gets to put his jug down again.

“it’s my first time coming here. i’ve heard about it a lot, but i thought maybe …. people were slightly exaggerating, or embellishing the story for effect. but this -”

jimin has procured a lollipop from somewhere and is strapping the extra long ties of his apron around his waist. the apron’s front pocket sits low between his hips, ‘princess’ bedazzled blindingly across it in a stunning combination of sequins, glued-on jewels and what he’ll tell anyone who’ll listen are actual diamonds.

namjoon seems to be talking to thetis as he pulls shots from her and seokjin once again marvels at this business’s success when everyone but him is such a fucking disaster.

“GUSH is exactly as it seems. i hope you enjoy your first visit,” seokjin says, thinking about that one afternoon a couple of weeks ago when jimin had decided he needed to dance up on the counter because his body felt too confined behind it, all of a sudden.

“i’ll be sure to come again,” the girl says, smiling shyly at seokjin, stuttering a little bit because as the face of GUSH, seokjin tends to fluster anyone and everyone who meets him. it’s not exactly part of his job description to be stunningly handsome, but it’s what he does best regardless.

“we’ll look forward to that,” seokjin assures her, dropping her change into her waiting hand and sending a little prayer silently along with it, because now that she’s done at the register she has to go wait at the coffee counter, where yoongi will be her primary point of contact, namjoon next in line.

sometimes seokjin has nightmares about what this place looks like on his days off, but he keeps them at bay by being here even then, more often than not.

“is .. does this turtle have fangs?” he hears her ask over the hum of the grinder and he holds onto the counter for support.

“yes it does. you’re welcome,” yoongi tells her.

seokjin kind of wishes he’d brought his rosary beads to work today.

“next?” he asks, and smiles so brightly at the next person in line that the guy actually says “wow” before he gets it together enough to finally order.

GUSH is what seokjin thinks of as a beautiful, wonderful disaster.

everything you see and taste inside is perfectly, lovingly crafted to the utmost excellence and that has never and will never change, so long as kim namjoon is ensconced behind its counters.

to date there have been zero complaints about their coffee or their service and the blackboard jimin thought to install alongside the larger boards that list their beverages proudly proclaims that it’s been a slightly smudged 1,384 days since they’ve made a workplace mistake.

and professionally speaking, it’s absolute true. even their smallest fudges get caught and corrected so quickly, so automatically by now that it’s like they never happened in the first place and they certainly never make anything close to an impact on their final product or their dealing with their beloved and largely regular crew of customers.

personally speaking, however, such a blackboard would have a big fat zero probably drawn in neon paint marker every single day.

“it is cute, i’m glad you like it!” jimin is manning the iced coffees and blended cold drinks, as usual, handing off a tall mountain of crushed ice and espresso that he’s topped with whipped cream he has hand-placed little waver hearts and iced gems onto. “but can you imagine if i got to work with glitter? how incredible would that be? it’d be edible of course, it’s -”

seokjin keeps his head down and focuses steadfastly on the bills he’s clipping into the register’s drawer.

“thank you for coming to GUSH,” he says for the two hundredth and something time today and the “no, thank you” he gets in response doesn’t even phase him at this point.

namjoon is doing something awful with his hips, almost but never quite on beat with the jhene aiko song that’s playing, and yoongi is kicking him in the butt every time he strays totally out of sync with the track.

neither of them are looking at one another or more accurately; looking away from what they’re doing and the line continues to run smooth and easy, purring along like a weird, nerdy little coffee saturated dream.

they’re all goddamn messes, seokjin himself included if he’s pushed to brutal honesty, even if he does make even his most tragic mistakes look like glamorous big screen scenes.

but that has never for one second stopped any of them from being fucking great at their jobs and over time they’ve all learned how to step in and step out of the workplace current to compensate for one another’s shortcomings and let each other shine wherever and whenever they’ve got a skill to showcase.

they do their best work always, but they work the best when they’re busy, namjoon - the cornerstone of this entire operation - especially so.

he runs a line like a patient but encouraging leader, easily handling yoongi and seokjin even though they’re both his hyungs and guiding the maknae jimin like he’s the star of the show and should never for one second forget so.

nothing could derail namjoon when he’s standing in front of thetis with a list of drinks to make and that’s true whether he’s on shot duty or steaming milk and dealing with the customer hand off. he is single-minded, eyeing any neon post-it in sight with the regard of a magpie for anything shiny. sometimes if seokjin has something serious to tell him or discuss, he grabs the stack of slightly larger post-it that he keeps under the counter for just such an occasion.

a namjoon with a coffee order in sight is unshakeable. unwavering. unsinkable.

and that’s what makes The Day pretty much the strangest and most delightful thing that seokjin has ever been blessed enough to witness.

 

_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

 

namjoon isn’t totally sure what date it is, but he thinks today is a thursday and it’s definitely mid december because the college student portion of the GUSH clientele have all become a lot like walking, nearly talking corpses. namjoon says ‘nearly’ because a lot of these kids are leaning heavily on their barista’s memory of their regular orders and just grunting or making these choked little whines that sound like they’re on the verge of tears and will burst into full waterworks if they open their mouths to make full words.

four people have told namjoon they love him as he’s handed over their coffee so far this morning and it’s barely eight am.

it’s not like namjoon can’t relate. he only finished up his phd last year and he’d worked close to full time - sometimes more - all the while, so he’s been just as sleep deprived and weepy as any one of these kids. he truly feels their pain.

“maybe your empathy would seem more sincere if you stopped calling them ‘kids’. you’re twenty five, dude, you’re not anyone’s dad even if you did make the very poor decision to let jimin call you ‘daddy’ sometimes,” yoongi offers from where he’s pulling shots at namjoon’s side.

“that’s not sexual, we sat down and discussed it.”

“maybe not when he says it to your face, but when you’re not around …”

“you know the rule, hyung,” is all namjoon says, nodding needlessly at the cross stitch that hangs framed on the wall above the grinder. ‘no kink shaming between the hours of 12am and 12am,’ it proclaims in neat little butter yellow stitches that had namjoon’s hands covered in bandaids for weeks.

“yah, as if i’d be the one to kink shame anyone. i’ve done weirder things than park jimin could even imagine and with way more people, too.”

namjoon says nothing, just nods mildly at the beautifully rendered text painting that’s pinned above the ice machine. ‘sexual history has no bearing on one’s value.’ namjoon had that one commissioned, because he’s enthusiastic about typography but also terrible at being neat with fiddly art supplies. he’s much more at home with a can of spray paint.

“i can’t tell if you’re berating me for dunking on jimin’s sexcapades or slut shaming myself.”

“yes,” is all namjoon says before he turns away to face the cluster of customers gathered around the pick up counter, ready to make one of them the happiest person on earth.

at this time of year, namjoon mostly just sees expression, not so much faces. so many of them stream past him in a day that it’s hard to keep track, impossible to do much more than instinctively register their regulars and focus on giving finished drinks to whichever of the mouths in front of him stops frowning long enough to open when their name is called.

“uh …” he lifts the cup a little higher, squints a little harder to make out the drink code on the side, mostly because there seems to be something off about it. is this an irl typo? surely no one has actually ordered - “a … quint? shot americano?”

“yes, me, please, i’m sorry, thank you,” a mouth is saying and namjoon’s vision swims. whether it’s his confusion at the drink or his reaction to the voice he has no clue, but for some reason his field of vision expands until he’s looking at a whole face. and then a whole set of shoulders. and then a whole torso. he’d absolutely be looking with great interest at what has to be a full fucking angel if the counter wasn’t in his way.

namjoon drops the coffee.

namjoon hates the counter.

everything around him stops.

 

-

 

when namjoon’s soul or spirit or essence or whatever non-corporeal form his self-ness takes beyond his body deigns to get back in there, namjoon finds himself sitting on a stool in the stockroom with seokjin on his knees in front of him and jimin hovering nervously in the doorway.

“hyung, the line,” is what namjoon says, because if the three of them are here that means yoongi is alone out front.

“hobi showed up just when he didn’t know we needed him, like always, don’t worry. we put on the drake playlist and yoongi is rapping along so the customers are more than happy to wait a little longer, don’t you worry.”

“the customer!” namjoon all but shouts, standing up and nearly climbing over seokjin to get to the doorway, to get back out front.

“uh, customers plural you mean, but go off i guess,” jimin says when namjoon reaches him and moves to slip past him, “the super hot guy you just fully malfunctioned in front of has already left.”

abruptly, namjoon feels like his strings have been cut and he isn’t even a puppet. he flops against jimin, who holds him up companionably and lets namjoon just kind of wet-noodle against him.

“he was really worried about you, though, like he didn’t even get mad that he had to wait for yoongi to make his drink all over again and he was truly in the trenches of finals week, man, he looked like microwaved shit. he hovered for ages wanting to see if you were okay, but seokjin sent him on his way with a free cookie after we dragged you back here and you sat there saying “jesus is real and he loves me” for like eight straight minutes.” jimin is combing namjoon’s sweaty bangs back off his face and shifting against the door frame to give himself more fully over into namjoon’s slump.

“is it the stress? is it finally all too much for you, hyung?” he asks, softly, like he’s afraid of the answer and namjoon is glad it’s jimin that is holding him through this, because he’s pretty sure he’s about to cry.

“i’m not stressed, jimin. i just saw the face of an angel. it must have triggered an existential crisis. kind of ironic, really, since i’m an atheist. or was, i guess, now. jesus fuck, i’ve found religion. well. technically it came to find me.”

seokjin is upon them now, pulling them apart roughly and shooing jimin back out front so he can murder namjoon in private, probably, because he’s looking especially homicidal right now.

“kim namjoon if you’re telling me you just scared the ever-living shit out of me because you saw a pretty boy, i’m going to - actually, i’m not going to do anything, because i didn’t even really notice the guy, he could have been a solid nine and i’m pleased to see you finally take an active interest in dating but could you please do so on your own time or at least in ways that don’t leave you nonfunctioning?”

“hyung, he was a thirteen. he was the most beautiful person i’ve ever seen.”

“as a ten i staunchly dispute this claim and as a ten that you see every single day i’m honestly hurt, but let’s table that for now and get back out there, if you’re feeling okay again?”

“i’m feeling …” namjoon roots through himself, checking for leaks and though he finds none, he’s baffled to find that his whole being seems … warmed, somehow. lit up, a little. “i’m good, hyung. sorry for scaring you. let’s go.”

when they get back to the front lines, hobi squeezes namjoon’s butt on his way by the register, but he does it gently, so namjoon knows he was worried. he smiles to reassure him and assumes his position back at yoongi’s side, slotting back into place and picking up the finished drink yoongi places on the counter in front of him. yoongi doesn’t look at him closely, or ask him how he is, but he also doesn’t say anything about how the total mess namjoon must have made of the floor has vanished and if anyone tries to say anything about how close to namjoon he stands for the rest of their shift, he bares his teeth at them.

namjoon glances quickly around the whole shop, just in case and looks at the street out front for good measure, too, but the angel he saw really is gone and though that makes his heart sink, he’s also relieved that he can go about his work again without worrying that he’ll fall the fuck apart.

“small flat white?” he reads aloud and a guy in a sharp business suit steps forward, taking the drink and murmuring his thanks.

it bums namjoon out that he didn’t even get to hand the angel his drink, but maybe he’ll come back, is the thought he consoles himself with throughout the rest of the day.

 

_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

 

“fat fucking chance, joon,” hoseok says, cutting up the pork belly with a kitchen shears before he piles it onto jimin’s plate, because jimin doesn’t always take enough food for himself and also because jimin is everyone’s baby. their super shredded baby.

“he came in once, why wouldn’t he come back? everyone comes back,” namjoon protests, but he takes an extra long pull of his beer too, because hobi could be right.

“you dropped his drink and then went catatonic right in front of him,” hoseok says and it’s true but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also make namjoon want to crawl under the table and sulk.

“yoongi made it again and he scored a free cookie out of it. you know no one can resist jin hyung’s cookies, hobi-hyung,” jimin comes to namjoon’s defense, because he is a beautiful buff baby who is so very, very precious to namjoon.

if anyone else in this restaurant were to listen in on this conversation, they’d think … well, namjoon doesn’t know quite what they’d think. they tend to get a lot of strange looks thrown their way when they all go out to eat like this, but given that the GUSH staff list is also everyone on it’s entire friendship group, it tends to happen most nights. seokjin can’t cook for yoongi and hobi every single night while he’s also doing all the baking for the store and namjoon is like an actual real person so he couldn’t survive on what jimin insists is a healthy diet.

honestly speaking, it’s nothing for namjoon to buy his staff and friends dinner every night. they all make enough in tips alone to cover their evening meal, but namjoon tries to pay as often they’ll let him.

“the kid looked like some weird kind of underground cryptid that stumbled into the place and was startled by everyone and everything. he probably dug a new hole to live in and has returned to his natural habitat by now. he was paler than yoongi and he basically had camera bags under his eyes.” hobi really doesn’t want namjoon to be happy.

“why don’t you love me, hyung?” namjoon knows he’s whining, he can’t help it, “why can’t you support my future blissful union with the only perfect human being on earth.” it’s not easy to call the celestial vision he saw today a mere human, but namjoon is going to be totally lowkey about this.

“$10 says the kid comes back before the end of the week.” today is thursday, so jimin isn’t messing around here, he believes in namjoon’s one true love.

“call,” hobi says, because he’s a happiness miser.

“whatever,” namjoon says, reaching for the soju and pouring all of his hyungs another glass before he lets jimin fill his. “it’s whatever.”

namjoon can be lowkey about this. he absolutely can.

 

_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

 

“NAMJOON, YOUR BOYFRIEND IS HERE.”

things are crazy at GUSH on a saturday, but only once people drag themselves out of bed, mostly after big friday nights out, so mornings at the store start out pretty slow; early bird customers and the staff alike warming up as they go.

the rush hasn’t started yet and the morning swell has ebbed, so there’s no one in line and namjoon is leaning against the counter with his shoulders framed by the portafilter handles thetis is holding in their down time. he’s scrolling through an article on a new species of shrimp that’s been found off the coast of cape town. it’s really interesting stuff and he probably couldn’t be dragged away from it by, like, anything, if not for jimin shouting. he’s standing less than four feet away, so the burst of sound startles namjoon so hard that he drops his phone.

it’s only when he’s straightening back up after retrieving it that he actually registers that jimin’s shout had been words.

his what?

he looks over at where jimin is standing next to the register. and drops his phone again.

it’s him.

namjoon’s one true love has returned to him.

and he’s … crying.

“are you okay?” namjoon asks him, crossing the shop floor in two huge strides and not even freaking out about speaking to him for the first time, because his true love is crying and namjoon is going to set the whole fucking world on fire if someone hurt him. he’s going to wage wars.

“yeah, i’m -” the guy wipes at his eyes with the sleeve of his hoody, which is black, with kind of dusty sleeves, like he’s been wiping shelves with them.

“hey, don’t,” namjoon says, pulling a tissue from the box under the register and handing it over so the guy doesn’t wipe dust into his already streaming eyes. “here,” the guy takes it and says what sounds almost like a ‘thank you’ as he blows his nose. it makes a super gross wet sound, like he’s all congested and instead of making namjoon recoil it kind of makes him totally understand how parents can suck the snot right out of their infant children’s nostrils.

namjoon is like. mariana trench deep in this.

he’s like.

fucked, basically.

because if he doesn’t at some point in the relatively near future get to put his arms around the set of shoulders that are gently shaking in front of him, his whole life will have been a waste. a great big mistake.

“come here, come with me,” namjoon says, nodding and gesturing to guide the guy down the length of the counter to the hinged saloon doors that mark the entrance to ‘behind the counter’ territory.

the guy hesitates there, looking at the doors like they won’t open for him because he’s not staff and shouldn’t cross their line, but namjoon pushes them open and reaches out to take a hold of the guy’s elbow, telegraphing the move so he knows it’s coming and has time to tell namjoon not to touch him, if he doesn’t want him to. he doesn’t move away or tense up or anything when namjoon gets his palm cupped around his elbow, so namjoon uses the hold to guide him to the tiny little table pushed half hidden into the alcove next to the stockroom. it’s their poor excuse for a staff lunch room, but the guy doesn’t say anything about it, just lets namjoon push him gently down into one of the seats. namjoon sits across from him and he utterly fucking hates that he has to let go of him to do so.

“tell me what’s wrong,” namjoon all but demands, but he does it lowly, softly, putting his both his hands palm up on the table in case the guy gets the urge to hold onto something. “let me help.”

“ah, you. you can’t. but thank you. this is - you’re so kind to let me sit back here, i really appreciate it. i’ll just get myself together and then i’ll go, i won’t be long, sorry to trouble you,” the guy speaks clearly, no longer crying, but his voice is … small somehow, and even though it’s the only way namjoon has ever heard him speak, it sounds wrong to him.

“you couldn’t trouble me if you tried,” namjoon says.

‘fuck, shit. i said i’d be lowkey about this,’ namjoon thinks.

“seriously, you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to, but i’m here if you want to talk. about anything. would you rather i left you alone?” the last thing namjoon wants to do is leave what has transformed from a dreary little alcove into some kind of magical, wonderful clam of perfection, because the love of his life sits across from him, the pearl of namjoon’s universe.

“no, don’t. i mean. please stay,” the guy says and he finally picks his head up and looks namjoon full in the face.

it’s lucky that namjoon’s phone is already on the floor. his heart joins it there.

the guy is stunning looking, no doubt, but his face is … wrecked. his eyes are bloodshot, his eyebags are somehow even bigger today and namjoon can’t even find it cute because they’re clearly puffed up from lack of sleep and even the neutral expression on his face looks like it’s costing him a lot to keep.

namjoon wants to pick him up in his arms and take him somewhere where nothing can ever trouble him again. he also wants to put his mouth on like … a lot of places on this guy’s person. but only when he’s not sad anymore.

“i’m not. i don’t even have a real reason to be upset. i don’t know why i started crying like that. it’s just … i have this really fucking hard final to sit tomorrow and i’ve been to every lecture, i’ve studied for months, i’ve studied for the last four days nonstop and i still … i just don’t have the handle on it that i need. that i want. i love this stuff but i’m … i feel like i’m drowning.”

namjoon knows the feeling.

“what’s the class?” he asks, because he just happens to be excellent at cramming, even for information that he’s not totally familiar with. he once wrote a paper on eighteenth century poetry for jimin in six hours having never taken any classes even adjacent to that subject. they got an ‘a.’

“ah i want to major in music. the class is technical development, which is about like -”

namjoon starts to laugh and the guy’s mouth snaps shut.

“no no, i’m not laughing at you,” namjoon rushes to say. “i’m laughing at how perfect this is. sit tight for me for a second?”

the guy nods, looking kind of confused but still mostly just like a sheet of paper that’s been crumpled up into a ball and then half-heartedly straightened back out.

namjoon goes back out front and takes his phone from jimin’s hand when he offers it.

“hey, call hobi for me, will you? i’m gonna see if yoongi can come in early, but he and i are out today so we’ll need to get some of the strays in, maybe woojin and hyunjin? the thunder cats are handling the floor today, right?”

jimin nods absently, pulling up hoseok’s details on his phone and hitting ‘dial.’

GUSH has a great little crew of part timers, mostly college kids, who come in on the weekends and sometimes fill in during especially busy stretches, when they’re usually off school anyway. they all began as regular customers who eventually sort of just became part of the furniture of the place. namjoon calls them his “stray kids” because he says all the free cookies and treats seokjin indulges them in kept them coming back like stray cats. usually they man the store floor, ferrying drinks from the pick up counter to wherever the customers sitting in have gone, clearing tables and washing the dishes. bang chan and felix, two korean-australians who came back to seoul to go to school, (seokjin christened them the ‘thunder cats’ because they’re from ‘down under’) are rostered on for the floor today, but woojin and hyunjin are the furthest along in their barista training so namjoon trusts them to help hobi hang with thetis and he and yoongi will still be on the premises if anything goes horribly wrong.

namjoon's fingers fly across the screen of his phone, more graceful and agile than he's ever been in his whole life. no more mister "all thumbs" when the love of his life was in need. thumbs? namjoon hasn't heard of them.

mc yoongs

hyung can you come now please? and bring your laptop?

i can be there in like an hour, but why the laptop? what the fuck have you done now?

hyung the love of my life (#lowkey) came back to me and he’s crying about his tech development final. help me out on this and i’ll give you whatever you want. i’ll buy you that new key controller you’ve been drooling over.
see you in 5


that done, namjoon goes back to his betrothed.

“hey. don’t worry, this is all under control. that’s professor kwon’s class, right? music production 101? are jiwon and hanbin still ta’ing it?”

“yeah, they. wait, how do you know so much -”

“i kind of -” namjoon fucking hates talking about his qualifications for the first time with someone. there’s no way of doing it that doesn’t sound like bragging, so he just drags himself through it as fast as he can. “i did that degree. i actually ta’d it while i was doing my phd. yoongi hyung did too, but when he was an undergrad still, how badass is that? like he was so far ahead of the course that he was teaching the shit he was supposed to be learning. he’s coming in too, by the way, he’ll be here soon. we’re going to get you through this, so don’t you worry. there’s no need to cry. we’ve got this, i promise you.”

the guy takes a huge breath and looks like he’s about to burst into tears again.

“no, no, don’t,” namjoon urges him, reaching across the table to grab his hand without thinking about it, without telling his body he was going to do so. “i’m so deadly serious about this. me and yoongi know everything you need to know, between us. you’re going to be fine. do you have anywhere else to be today? other finals to study for?”

“no, this is my last one and i was just planning on cramming all day today too,” the guy says and jesus christ namjoon is tired of thinking of him as ‘the guy.’

“hey, what’s your name? i’m namjoon, by the way. born in 94.”

“i’m jungkook. 97. i don’t - you can’t just drop everything you’re doing to help me. like it’s so so cool that you’ve studied all this stuff, i can’t believe you have a phd in music that’s like. fucking crazy cool. but won’t you get in trouble with your boss? don’t you have to work? you don’t even know me, why would you -”

“hey, no,” namjoon stops him right there. “first of all, i own this place, so i am the boss. and you were crying, jungkook. you shouldn’t ever have to cry. and if it’s over something that i can help you with? then i’m gonna. period. yoongi will want to too, he works real hard to maintain his vulcan image, but he’s a kitten really. and an absolute sucker for anyone who is struggling.”

jungkook still looks kind of shell shocked. his eyes have gone huge and he’s so cute namjoon is going to kill himself.

“seriously, let us do this for you. we love this stuff. it’s our whole lives outside of this place and we bring our music stuff into work all the time, you might even hear yoongi’s tracks if you come in when we open late on a thursday and friday and he’s in a giving mood. a healthy portion of our customers come here to see their favourite underground rapper in his daytime persona.”

at this, jungkook looks interested. but his expression returns to caution soon enough.

“but still. i’m just some random dude that came here for coffee. why would you help me study? that’s so - that’s way too much. i can’t let you turn your whole day upside down for me. and your friend’s, too.”

namjoon disappears under the table for a second, rooting through the nest of backpacks and jackets and did jimin really wear a fucking pastel pink fanny pack into work today? he finally locates his bag and pulls his laptop out of it, setting it on the table and looking back across at jungkook.

looking at jungkook is maybe namjoon’s favourite thing to do, now. although holding onto jungkook’s elbow is jostling it for the top spot. honestly, namjoon can’t wait to spend a whole day at this cramped little table with jungkook. jungkook. the love of his life.

“it’s not even a big deal, i promise you. please let us help you. how wasteful would it be for us to have accumulated all this knowledge and these abilities only to keep it to ourselves? helping you will help us too, maybe we’ll make you part of our part time underground production crew. can you rap? sing? do you want to do pure production or do you work on your own stuff too?”

jungkook sits up a little straighter, leans forward and still hasn’t shaken namjoon’s hand off of his. namjoon is deeply, irrevocably in love.

“i sing a bit? i love rap, i’m super into hip-hop, but i’m not great at it. i help a lot of the others in my class when they need vocal samples and stuff.”

“cool. that’s cool.” namjoon would bet every penny he has that jungkook’s voice is vocal gold. it couldn’t possibly be anything else, if it comes from this lovely creature before him. honestly, namjoon still isn’t totally convinced that he’s fully human.

“wow, okay. we’re holding hands without me, now? is that what we’re doing in here on this day?”

yoongi is standing next to the table, looking down at where namjoon’s hand is cupping jungkook’s balled up fist. he’s got his hair styled back today and swept under a snapback and it makes him look extra intimidating when he frowns - ferociously, somehow - at where namjoon and jungkook are touching.

under literally any other circumstances namjoon would pull his hand away at the speed of fucking light at that look on yoongi’s face, but not now. no. not today.

“hyung, this is jungkook. he’s a music major. freshman. we’re gonna help him cram for kwon’s tech development 101 final.”

yoongi raises an eyebrow, but he still hasn’t looked away from their overlapping hands.

“that doesn’t match the description of this person that jimin just gave me, but okay. if you’re prepared to pay me a day’s wage to sit here and help this kid pass a class, i’m in.”

the fact that yoongi doesn’t mention the extra key controller bribe namjoon has promised him is both kind and considerate of him. he’s finally looked up from their hands and is surveying jungkook with the same look he first gave the stray cat that jimin ended up unofficially adopting. the expression on his face is the one he gets when he desperately wants to pet someone / something, but must first and foremost maintain his stoic image.

“you can call me hyung,” yoongi tells jungkook, settling down into the seat between namjoon and jungkook and pulling his laptop out of his backpack with a flourish.

namjoon wants to kiss him on his frowny little kitten face.

“are you sure?” jungkooks asks one last time, looking between the two of them like they’re going to just disappear in a puff of smoke any second now.

“absolutely,” namjoon assures him, squeezing his hand a little.

“you know, we could just call hanbin and jiwon and ask what’s on the paper,” yoongi says, but namjoon thinks he’s probably only saying it to flex his connects. there’s nothing yoongi loves more than succeeding at something when he has a handicap or disadvantage to overcome. lost causes are min yoongi’s thing.

“we’ve both written the final exams for this class, too, we know this material inside out,” namjoon reminds him, and yoongi finally smiles his gummy little smile.

“that we have, namjoon,” yoongi says and then turns to look at jungkook.

“you ready to fucking crush this, kid?”

jungkook finally has a little colour back in his cheeks.

“i - yes?” is his response.

 

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hobi checks in on them periodically throughout the day and jimin stops by a few times to bring them drinks and snacks.

they’re so deeply immersed in what they’re doing that they barely look up from whichever laptop has been pushed into the middle of the table for illustration of a point or process.

jungkook is wrong about being underprepared for this final. if anything, he’s over-prepared. he’s gone so far inside the process of music production that he just bypassed all the technical and theoretical terminology. he knows exactly what he’s doing, but he has no idea how to name and explain the processes he’s followed through because it seems to come to him totally naturally.

helping him out becomes a curious mix of coaxing him to show them his skills and them explaining to him how he did the things he did and why he needs to know the name and order of that.

“it’s like … do you have any artist friends? you know when people are working in photoshop but instead of labelling their layers they just hit the eye? music is more technical than art. you’ve got to label every step of your work because when you give it up to someone else they need to be able to map it if they’re going to take it apart again.”

jungkook nods for what seems like the thirtieth time in the last hour, but he never nods unless he actually gets what they’re saying.

“i work like this is just for me, like only i’ll ever see it so i don’t need to list my steps because i’ll remember taking them in the first place.”

“exactly,” yoongi says, “and i totally get that, i get into that kind of creative space sometimes too, but that’s when i have to go find this fool to pull me back out of the matrix and help me label my wires and cables.”

namjoon grins across the table at jungkook, trying to look as reassuring as he can.

“you already know everything you need to know, we just need to tweak the way your brain moves through these process and label your knowledge with their technical description. easy peasy.”

for the first time today, jungkook doesn’t look frightened and unsure.

“hyungs, i know we just met today, but i love you, i really do.”

‘same. absolute same,’ namjoon says in his head.

“aish, what a cute dongsaeng we’ve found for ourselves,” he says outloud.

namjoon doesn’t have to break eye contact with jungkook to see yoongi rolling eyes, because yoongi made that gesture audible a long time ago.

“i’m so glad i came here,” jungkook says and namjoon steadfastly does not think about ways to keep him here forever.

 

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it’s only when they’re almost set to finish up that yoongi happens to play a little bit of his own stuff to explain a mixing tool.

“wait. that’s - you know agust d?” jungkook asks, his eyes going so big you’d think he just found out the secret to eternal life.

“um. i am agust d. that’s my rap moniker,” yoongi looks almost embarrassed, which is new. namjoon hopes he isn’t falling for jungkook too, because yoongi has been a really good friend to him and he’d hate to have to kill him in cold blood. yoongi is the person he’s always thought he could call if he needed help moving a body, so he’s fucked if the body he has to move is yoongi.

jungkook about falls out of his chair.

“i - oh my god, i love your music. i’ve never gone to your shows because tae works best at night and i can’t interrupt his creative flow to drag him to a show but i listen to your mixtapes like every fucking day, i’m such a fan,” jungkook gushes.

yoongi giggles.

he straight up fucking giggles.

“ah thanks,” he says, reaching up to tug at the brim of his snapback in what might actually be a nervous gesture. “it’s just … something i do when i’m fucking around in between jobs.”

yoongi and namjoon both work as freelance producers for hire in their downtime.

“that’s so cool,” jungkook says, looking at yoongi with stars in his eyes.

this absolutely will not do.

namjoon opens his laptop back up, prepared to unleash the metaphorical kraken now.

“i used the same tool on this track i did for tiger jk, maybe it’ll be easier for you to pick out from here,” namjoon says, pushing the laptop across the table and subtly pushing yoongi’s laptop back towards him, away from where jungkook is leaning over into it.

“THE tiger jk?” jungkook asks in awe and namjoon’s smug satisfaction is a cool balm on the hot burn of jungkook’s agust d fanboying.

“you two are the coolest hyungs on earth. can we be friends after this? i mean. can i keep coming around after my final tomorrow? i feel like i still have a million questions to ask. you’ve shown me so much cool stuff i want to learn how to do.”

“of course,” namjoon says and yoongi speaks at the same time.

“we’ll see,” yoongi says, “you might have to hold my hand first.”

jungkook reaches for both of their hands and takes them in his.

“please,” he says, giving them great big puppy eyes and pouting a little.

namjoon wants to cross himself. namjoon wants to die.

“come here always,” namjoon says, but ‘stay here forever’ is what he really means.

jungkook beams.

 

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