30th September, 1988.
Stretching his splayed fingers towards the ceiling, Namjoon groans, his eyes becoming teary as he yawns, and yawns, and yawns.
The sun is setting, and he gets distracted by the reds, purples and pinks that mingle together across the sky.
With his cheek propped on his palm, he watches a few stray birds who loop through the clouds, dancing together, showing off to one another. His eyes dart back and forth, attention drawn to one raven-coloured bird who lags behind its partner, its moves not as flashy, its wings flapping furiously to try and keep up with the other.
They soon drop out of sight, gliding off to somewhere new together, and Namjoon yawns again, this time reaching forward to flick off his desk lamp. A dim darkness falls over the room before he rises to begin packing his briefcase.
"Mom," he calls from the doorway after chucking his jacket onto the coat-stand, wiggling his newly-freed toes against the fluffy taupe carpet, bending his back and stretching as his mother's voice wafts from the kitchen, her tone sharp and commanding, announcing Namjoon's arrival.
He's only three steps into his childhood home when there's small hands encircling his thighs, tiny feet wrapping around his ankles, and Namjoon almost keels over from the force exuded by the body that throws itself at him. "Hey, monkey," Namjoon chortles, ruffling his son's hair before he scoops him up into a tight hug, closing his eyes and breathing deeply when Sungki quietly tells him that he's missed him. "I've missed you too, bud. Hey, no frowns or scowls today, okay? You've got me all to yourself for the next three days. Lucky you."
Sungki hangs from his neck as Namjoon tries detangling them, and with the threat of a scowl on Sungki's features, he mumbles, "Three days doesn't sound very long."
He drops Sungki onto the floor, his knees clicking loudly as he becomes level with Sungki's melancholic gaze.
Stroking his shoulder, he directs his gaze towards the floor, promising Sungki, "If we spend it wisely, it'll seem ever-lasting."
His mother leaves him with a kiss and a food container filled to the brim with freshly made kimchi jjigae, which he was instructed to consume as soon as he got home, and consume he does, like how a pig would to its freshly filled trough. Sungki's stuck to him like glue, afraid that if he were to hurry into his room and grab his stuffed toy, Snugs, that Namjoon would simply disappear into thin air. They share mouthfuls, Namjoon taking extra care to blow away the steam before delivering it into Sungki's stained mouth. Once they finish eating, only then does Sungki detach himself from Namjoon, his small legs clambering off of the sofa and onto the floor with a thud before he collects their empty containers, informing Namjoon, "I'll clean up, Daddy."
A knot of guilt settles itself in Namjoon's heart when he watches Sungki disappear into the kitchen, the loud clang of forks and spoons landing haphazardly into the sink echoing in his ears before he welcomes Sungki's return with open arms and a light kiss to his dark mop of hair. He needs a haircut, and Namjoon would do it himself if it weren't for Sungki's last disastrous home-haircut. He puckers his lips, sighing quietly; yet another thing to add on to the list of things he needs to do that never seem to get done.
The storybook Sungki chooses for bedtime is one of which Namjoon's got the pictures memorised, the brushstrokes and colours of them embedded in his memory, and when he scans the bookshelves in search of 'Miss Rumphius,' Sungki rolls over in bed, his eyes only visible from beneath the covers, a burrowing habit of which he'd developed when Taehyung so kindly shared with him the existence of the boogeyman.
"What is it about Miss. Rumphius that you love so much, hm?" Namjoon asks, sitting alongside him, squeezing his calf, "You'll be thirteen-years-old, I'll be grey and sporting a moustache and still reading 'ol 'Miss. Rumphius,' to you every night."
Wiggling farther down beneath the blankets, Sungki hums, "I wanna travel the world," he explains, and Namjoon's expression softens, "I wanna be like her. She wants to make the world more beautiful by planting all of her lovely lupines. I wanna plant flowers like her one day, but not lupines, I can't copy Miss. Rumphius. I think I'll plant red roses." He takes a pause, and with a furrow between his brow, he smiles sweetly up at Namjoon, "She's kinda like you."
Namjoon's beatific smile shines bright, and he cocks his head, eyebrow quirked when he questions, "How so?"
"She loves everyone and everything, and believes that this world is something that we should really, really take care of."
Fondness overcomes Namjoon, and he bends to kiss Sungki's forehead, who giggles and playfully wipes at his forehead before urging Namjoon to start reading.
Snuggling in close to Sungki, lifting his arm to grant Sungki's wish to be be tucked beneath his wing, Namjoon begins.
"'You must do something to make the world more beautiful.' 'All right,' I say. But I do not know yet what that can be.'"
He's got the weekend off, and there's never much to do in Boseong. He's already taken Sungki to handpick tea leaves umpteen times on his days off, and decides instead to head into town in his dingy Ford Cortina which has succumbed to some mediocre attempts at DIY, including but not limited to cello-taping the rearview mirror, jamming the gear stick back into place from where it had unexpectedly dislodged itself, and tying his seatbelt around himself one morning in teeth-chattering weather after he'd managed to snap it after leaning out of his car to save his morning coffee from flying out of the car door.
Sungki sings behind him, entirely out of tune and off-beat, but Namjoon still encourages him, exclaiming, "You're giving Pavarotti a run for his money!"
He can't remember the last time he's been bowling, was probably deep in his teenage years lusting over some girl that would barely even look his way, or, more likely, was dossing around with either Seokjin or Yoongi, giving the employees migraines with their insufferable shenanigans. Starlite Lanes has been around for as long as he can remember, and it sure looks it when he pulls into the parking lot. The neon 'T,' struggles to shine in a neon pink colour whilst the 'R,' blinks too erratically.
Shoving a baseball cap onto Sungki's head, Namjoon gives him some tuppence, enough for him to have a go at one or two claw machines, maybe even enough for some popcorn if he's lucky, and when he deposits it into his palm, the kid looks like he's just won the lottery. Thankfully, it's quiet inside, because in spite of being a father and loving Sungki with his entire heart, Namjoon finds it difficult to stomach the cacophony of the gathering of more than twenty under 10s in one place.
There's just one employee behind the desk, absorbed in both the music filtering through his headphones and the content in the magazine that he's hunched over. Namjoon has to lightly tap his forearm to get his attention, stifling a chortle upon realising that the riveting literature he's absorbed in is a copy of Seventeen magazine.
The guy shoves his headphones off and they hang around his neck, the tinny buzz of synth, bass-heavy music sounding from them when he peers at Namjoon over the rim of his glasses. He leans over the desk to look down at Sungki, and upon seeing him, a slow smile comes to his lips.
"Welcome to Starlite Lanes, where fun is had and worries forgotten. For the two of you, it'll be ₩12,000."
Nodding, Namjoon fumbles around in his wallet before he hands over the cash, ignoring Sungki who's tugging on his pants' leg. Jamming the stop button on his walkman, the guy nods towards Sungki, frowning with a scrutinising look in his eye, "If that little guy's gonna be playing, I'm gonna have to charge you extra."
Frowning, Namjoon rips his eyes away from the guy to look down at Sungki, who's got his beloved stuffed rabbit, Snugs, in a chokehold.
Namjoon sniggers, squeezing Sungki's shoulder when he sees his hurt pout. He bends to Sungki's level and informs, quietly, "He's only joking."
Righting himself, puffing out his chest, Sungki holds Snugs up like the teddy's some discovered treasure, explaining, "Snugs is too small to bowl."
Smiling affectionately, Namjoon watches the guy bite back a laugh. "That's very unfortunate for him." His gaze then shifts to Snugs, and he addresses the stuffed animal, tone extremely serious, "You're not missing out on much, Snugs. Don't beat yourself up about it too much." He leans all the way over the desk to lightly pet the teddy, and Namjoon beams down at his son who giggles and pulls Snugs in close to his chest. He's about to lead Sungki over to their assigned lane when the guy reaches over, dropping money into Namjoon's open hand.
He blinks down at the cash, and before he has time to ask, the guy meets him with a small smile, explaining, "Your session's on me. Don't worry about it."
"No," Namjoon refuses, almost sounding angry as he fruitlessly tries to return the money, "No, you can't do that."
"You're right, I probably can't. But, my manager's not here today so I'm in charge, and I think Snugs and his friend deserves a free game."
"Free!" Sungki echos, dreamily whispering, "Wow."
The guy points to Snugs, meeting Namjoon's eyes when he suggests, "Use that money to mend the hole in Snugs' chest instead."
Feeling as if he's dreaming this entire exchange, Namjoon nods dumbly, words failing him, and when Sungki's run off to eye up some contending companions for Snugs that are trapped in glass cases, he turns back to the desk, to the guy that was once absorbed in an agony aunt column, and he bows. The guy rolls his eyes, waving his hand in the air to humbly decline Namjoon's gracious gesture. Belatedly, Namjoon realises that his name's etched onto his gaudy lilac bowling shirt.
"That was very kind of you. Thank you—" he trails off, squinting at the embroidered name (and writing down a quick mental note to get his eyes tested), "Jungkook."
Jungkook doesn't respond, instead winks at Namjoon before jutting his chin in the general direction of where Sungki's wandered off to. He returns to his riveting literature, lifting one earphone back onto one ear, "You better go watch Snugs and his partner in crime. You'd think a place like this would be childproof, but I can't even begin to tell you the variety of injuries I've seen some of them sustain in this place."
At that, Namjoon hurries off, breathing a sigh of relief when he finds Sungki sitting patiently at their lane, wrapped up in a deep conversation with Snugs whose got a seat all to himself.
He goes easy on Sungki, rolling wobbly balls, sending them into the gutter multiple times, throwing his hands up to the heavens in faux exasperation, slouching his shoulders when Sungki giggles wildly at him, evidently extremely excited about the prospect of him demolishing his father. "You've won," Namjoon concludes, pretending to wipe a loser's tear from his eye when Sungki pounces on him, hugging him tight.
"You can win next time. Don't be sad," he soothes, and the corners of Namjoon's mouth turn upwards softly.
After Sungki's resounding win, they have a go at the claw machines, which award them nothing, and leave Sungki in a sour mood. It's a sign for Namjoon to gently coax him out into the car with a promise of ice cream if they leave immediately, and so he holds hands with a rather perturbed-looking Sungki, passing reception, and Jungkook's still there with his chin propped on his hand and a bored expression on his face whilst he reads the book he'd swapped out for his magazine.
Namjoon waves towards him, trying to get his attention, and when Jungkook looks up, he offers Namjoon a warm smile.
"Thanks again, Jungkook," he calls, already halfway out the door when he hears Jungkook's loud reply.
"Goodbye, Snugs and friends."
1st October, 1988.
Normally, he'd get a lie-in on a Sunday, but Sungki brings that tradition to an abrupt ends when he comes into his room, weeping over the birds cheeping their good mornings, the sun peaking over the rolling hills. There's anguish in Sungki's tone, his hiccuping suggesting that he's been crying.
Namjoon shoots up in bed, his hair standing on end and eyes struggling to focus when he pulls Sungki up onto the bed, inspecting him frantically, checking for any injuries. He holds Sungki's cheeks in his big hands, and in a panicked tone, questions, "What's happened? Are you okay, bud? Do you feel sick?"
Distraught, Sungki curls himself into Namjoon, body heaving, tears streaming, and he mumbles something unintelligible into Namjoon's undershirt. Ducking his head, Namjoon's tightened muscles immediately unclench when he eventually makes sense of Sungki's hiccuped words. "Snugs. H-he's gone."
"Oh, bud," Namjoon sighs, pushing Sungki's hair off of his clammy forehead, "I'm sure he's around here somewhere. Where did you last have him?"
"I didn't go to bed with him, and I can't remember having him with me at all last night. Where is he?" Sungki looks around Namjoon's bedroom, the sun's rays casting a hazy glow around them, exposing dust particles floating through the air. His bottom lip quivers, and before he has time to erupt into inconsolable sobs, Namjoon drags himself out of bed, hurrying around his bedroom to tug on some jeans with baby blue and white paint splatter on them from when he'd decorated Sungki's bedroom.
With one arm in his jumper, he uses his free one to jam Yoongi's number into the phone, clicking his tongue loudly when the cord wraps itself around his torso. Detangling himself, almost tripping over his own two feet, the receiver clicks and Yoongi's tired, static-y tone croaks, "You've got some nerve calling me before 9am on a Sunday."
"I know, I know. I'm sorry, but could you come over and watch Sungki just for a little bit?"
Background noises crackle through the receiver, and Namjoon can hear Seokjin's rumbling voice telling Yoongi to come back to bed.
Yoongi tries to mask his upset, but eventually agrees, and when Namjoon's pacing around the kitchen, assuring Sungki that Snugs will be found, the front door opens.
Running to Yoongi, Namjoon stops dead in his tracks upon seeing Yoongi standing there in his pyjamas, his hair not even brushed.
"What?" Yoongi snaps, his hands on his hips, "It's not like Sungki's expects highly of me." Kicking off his slippers, Yoongi grumbles, "You really need to hire a babysitter, I've got my own little nightmares to look after, and your mom's starting to make the most out of her retirement. He's older now and doesn't require specific needs from her or you."
Like he'd been summoned, Sungki rounds the corner and Namjoon watches his face illuminate upon seeing Yoongi who bends at the waist, extending his arms, welcoming Sungki's full-force run towards him. "Uncle Yoongi!" Sungki cries happily, wrapping his small arms around Yoongi's neck. After Yoongi drops him back onto his feet, Sungki's expression shifts to one of grave devastation. "Have you heard about Snugs?"
"Oh," Yoongi quips, gaze quickly flitting to Namjoon who widens his eyes in warning, "I have. It's unfortunate, but I'm sure your Dad's gonna find him."
Namjoon glares at Yoongi, opening his eyes so wide he's surprised his eyeballs haven't popped right out of their sockets.
Grasping Yoongi's elbow tightly, Namjoon forces himself to smile as he asks Sungki to go and brush his teeth, and once he's hurried off, he yanks Yoongi against him.
"What if I don't find him?"
"Buy him a new one," Yoongi shrugs after shoving Namjoon away from him, a wounded expression on his face.
"Santa got it for him when he was three. I don't think Santa fucking remembers where he bought it."
Pushing past Namjoon, Yoongi saunters into the living room where he unceremoniously throws himself onto the sofa, lifting his legs up onto the coffee table. "I mean, the guy is 1,748 years old, after all," Yoongi mutters, flicking through the tv channels, ignoring Namjoon standing dumbly in the doorway. As the silence stretches between them, Yoongi lean his head back on the backrest of the sofa, asking airily, "I think you should've got the search party going by now. Y'know, the first few hours of a disappearance are the most crucial."
It's three minutes to nine when Namjoon pulls into the parking lot of Starlite Lanes, and for his entire journey, his grip on the steering wheel is like iron, his knuckles white and shaking. He doesn't get many days off, and he's always hated mornings, so having to function like a normal human being on a Sunday of all days has him feeling like a seething bull.
He jumps out of his car the second the ignition goes quiet and runs across the parking lot, crossing his hypothetical fingers when he reaches the door that's locked. Shoving his face against the glass, he looks for any sign of life in the place, and when the inside fails to come alive, he kicks at the door, hissing with frustration when his toe immediately begins to throb.
He's walking away when he hears keys jangling and a door squeaking.
"I know you."
Namjoon swings himself towards the voice, the tenseness leaving his shoulders when he sees Jungkook standing there, looking just as tired as Namjoon feels. He's not in his work attire, is instead sporting some light-wash loose jeans, a red baggy shirt and some sneakers that have seen better days. His hair's either wet or he'd been too gracious with his hair gel, and tendrils of glossy hair hang over his eyes when he meets Namjoon with a confused look on his face.
Raising his palms as if to surrender (to what, he isn't sure), Namjoon slowly walks towards him.
"I was here yesterday with my kid," he explains, and Jungkook folds his arms, his gaze stern, "He might've left his stuffed animal behind, would it be okay for me to take a look?"
Without missing a beat, Jungkook's eyebrows raise in recognition, and he nods in recollection, "Yeah, Snugs."
Namjoon stills. "Snugs?"
Rolling his eyes, Jungkook crosses his right leg behind his left, "Well, that's its name, isn't it?"
"Yeah. Yes, it is," Namjoon hurries over his words, anxious to get in there and rescue Snugs, "Have you seen him?"
Jungkook's lips curve, and he steps aside to welcome Namjoon inside who sheepishly follows him when a feeling akin to guilt worms its way into his core. He doubts this poor guy wants to be dealing with some pathetic single Dad on a Sunday morning in search of some inanimate object that's got far too emotional weight attached to it.
From behind the desk, Jungkook ducks and disappears. Namjoon leans forwards, elbows on the desk as he listens to items getting moved around and knocked over. When Jungkook surfaces, Namjoon jumps back in surprise, and then, his face drops. There, in Jungkook's grip, is Snugs in all of his tattered glory.
"I found the poor thing sitting on the pool table at closing," Jungkook explains with extreme calmness as he gently pets Snugs' droopy ears, "He must've been having a whale of a time, so much so that not only had he not realised that he was sitting in darkness, but that his beloved owner had forgotten him."
A laugh escapes Namjoon, which he tries but fails to catch by pressing his fingertips to his lips. When Jungkook returns his laughter, he sets Snugs on the countertop. Only when he's set down does Namjoon belatedly realise that the hole that was once in Snugs' chest has disappeared.
His eyes snap to Jungkook, who pointedly ignores him, focusing his attention instead on sorting out the cash register. Whilst he's flicking through some bills, Namjoon inspects the wound, the neatness with which it was cared to, and he watches Jungkook, who, he's realised, is scarlet red in the face.
"You sewed him up."
Shrugging nonchalantly, Jungkook clears his throat, "My mom's a seamstress, figured I could put the skills she's taught me to use. The poor thing's fluffy insides were pouring out all over the pool table." Gently lifting the arm closest to the mended wound to inspect it, Namjoon expresses deep gratitude towards Jungkook, who humbly waves Namjoon's thanks away. "You don't need to thank me, it was really nothing. If anything, you can thank your kid for giving me something to do during yesterday's shift."
"His name's Sungki," Namjoon provides with a small smile, and Jungkook nods to himself, storing the name away in his mind.
"Sungki's a cute kid."
"He is," Namjoon agrees, pride swelling his chest, "Sometimes I can't even fathom how he's a living, breathing extension of myself."
Namjoon watches Jungkook reach up and rub the nape of his neck, his eyes downcast when he questions, quietly, "What's your name?"
"Oh," Namjoon quips, "I'm Namjoon."
"Namjoon," Jungkook repeats, testing the feel of the name on his tongue. After planting his palms on the desk, Jungkook stretches himself backwards before his gaze meets Namjoon's again, "Well, Namjoon, I hope Snugs is safe now."
"Oh, he is," Namjoon laughs, picking up the rabbit in question, "He's not leaving mine nor Sungki's sight after this."
He drives home feeling lighter, even daring to turn on the radio and tap his fingers against the steering wheel along to a song that was undoubtedly requested by some teenager who's now currently flying about their bedroom in beat to the song, annoying their parents eating breakfast below them. Snugs' and Sungki's reunion could've easily been adapted into a screenplay, maybe even picked up by Steven Spielberg. Namjoon toys with the idea for maybe .1 second before a full-body shiver travels across his skin, the thought of Sungki becoming a tragic child star repelling him.
When Sungki's dried his eyes after his emotional reunion, he hugs Yoongi goodbye before disappearing out the patio door with his wooden sword held high, a battlecry leaving his lips which startle both Yoongi and Namjoon whose hands fly to their hearts. "Kids will kill me," Yoongi groans, throwing his head back and scrunching his eyes shut. He's got Snugs in hand, and when Namjoon's pottering around the living room in search of the remote control, a noise of curiosity sounds from Yoongi.
"You fixed it," Yoongi realises, tracing the pink thread that Jungkook had sewn.
Namjoon shakes his head, "I didn't."
Tilting his head to the side, Yoongi eyes Namjoon suspiciously, "Then who?"
He avoids Yoongi's steely, analytical eye when he mumbles, "Just some guy."
Snugs gets chucked onto the sofa, and Namjoon clicks his tongue loudly as he jumps to try and prevent him from landing hard.
"Some guy?" Yoongi echos with judgment. "'The hell's that supposed to mean? Did you just bump into someone in an alleyway who opened up their trench-coat filled with spools and sewing needles?"
Guffawing, Namjoon meets Yoongi with an open-mouthed and blank expression on his face, "Forget the Snugs/Sungki screenplay, that's a movie I wanna see made."
"Don't change the subject. Who mended Snugs' broken heart?"
Exhaling slowly, Namjoon tightens his lips together, "Why are you so hung up on this?"
"Why are you acting so damn coy?" Yoongi asks accusingly, eyes glistening with delight over Namjoon's awkwardness.
"He was just an employee at the bowling alley," Namjoon snaps impatiently, gaze flitting to the patio window when Sungki begins roaring tremendously loudly, practising for his Hollywood debut no doubt. "It was a sweet gesture. Maybe I should've slipped him some money."
"Oh, that wouldn't have been patronising. Not at all," Yoongi chides, heading towards the door, but not before he grabs Namjoon's t-shirt, yanking him towards him. Namjoon leans away from Yoongi, his brow furrowed and face hot, "You know I know you like the back of your hand. That look you had on your face just then was dangerous. Be careful."
Shoving him away by the hip, Namjoon blows a raspberry at Yoongi, "Don't be stupid."
"I'm being cautious."
"There's no need for you to be anything!" Namjoon insists exasperatedly, tone rising, and Yoongi shrinks away from him, feline-like eyes studying Namjoon closely.
He leaves Namjoon after saying little else, and when Namjoon's standing in the kitchen drying dishes from the night before, he watches Sungki zoom around the garden, Snugs having joined his escapades, and as Sungki tiptoes towards the sandpit where Snugs is currently being held captive by the evil witch of the castle, a fond grin spreads itself across Namjoon's face when, after some difficulty, Sungki successfully frees Snugs from the terrifying confines of the imaginary castle's walls.
5th October, 1988.
His first years aren't the brightest tools in the toolbox. Today alone he's had fifteen of them of them visit his office, asking him to go over an assignment that Namjoon thought was straightforward enough. Read this book, analyse these characters, share your opinions and answer the questions, but when it's dark outside and he bids farewell to one of his students who'd suddenly broken down in tears when Namjoon had gently reminded her of the weight of this assignment on her final grade, he realises that he might've asked too much of them too soon.
He calls home to speak to Sungki, and his mother who asks when he'll be returning.
"I've been meeting with students all day," Namjoon sighs, fingers rubbing at his forehead before he brings his coffee mug to his lips and sips, "I've had no free time to plan lectures and correct assignments so I'm gonna have to stick around for a few more hours."
Everyone else has gone home, even Taehyung who usually stays with Namjoon long after work hours are over, and an eerie silence settles over the office floor.
Deciding to stretch his legs and to get a change of scenery, he walks through the corridors, peering into opened, darkened offices as he goes.
"Honey, you know Thursdays are Bingo nights," his mother sighs, and Namjoon tries to ignore his feeling of being burdensome.
"Take Sungki with you," he suggests, propping the brick-sized mobile phone on his shoulder when he hears his mother laugh.
"He'll be bored to tears," she refuses, before leaning away from the receiver to ask Sungki to clean up his crayons, "I could take Snugs, maybe, but not Sungki."
Namjoon stops dead in his tracks. Craning his neck to squint up at a flickering lightbulb hanging precariously over the exit door, he turns himself around with haste, long legs carrying him quickly back towards his office. "Hey, mom? If you could drop Sungki home I might be able to get someone to come by and watch him."
"Yoongi? Seokjin?" she supplies, and Namjoon's in the middle of sifting through a tattered phonebook when he shakes his head.
"No, neither of them."
He hangs up and jams in the number on the landline, leaning back in his chair to gaze blankly out at the dark sky illuminated with stars as the phone rings out.
The line clicks, and an unfamiliar voice greets him in an overly enthusiastic tone, "Starlite Lanes, where fun is had and worries forgotten. What can I do for you?"
Namjoon pushes himself forward, leaning his elbows on the desk whilst he figures out how he's going to approach his proposition.
"Hi. I was wondering if Jungkook's working tonight?"
"He's not, sir."
Hope welcomes itself in Namjoon, and he pries further, "Okay, well, would you be able to give me his contact information?"
The worker pauses, and in less of a chipper tone than before, informs, "That's against company policy, sir. I'm afraid I can't."
Rolling his eyes, Namjoon clenches his jaw, "Look, I'm an old friend of his. I've recently come to learn that he's working at your establishment and I've got no other way of contacting him, and I need something from him, urgently. I promise you I'm not a creep, if something happens to your colleague, feel free to come and find me. I'll give you my address and everything."
The worker mustn't get paid enough, because he shares Jungkook's number with little persuasion, and when Namjoon's twiddling a pen between his fingers, the line clicks again, and Jungkook's voice is on the other end. Thinking he'd never get to this point, a case of muteness has fallen over Namjoon, and his lips are parted and eyes wide as he searches his brain for words, any words.
"Jungkook," he babbles, proceeding to bristle at the urgency in his tone, eyes closing in judgement of himself.
There's a pause, and then a tentative, "Yes, speaking."
"Hi. Listen. This might be weird, so please, feel free to tell me that it's so, but I need to ask something of you. A favour."
"Is this some telemarketing scam? I'm sorry but I can't talk right now."
Fearing the imminent end of the call, Namjoon panics, vomiting words to try and get Jungkook to stay on the line.
"No, no, it's not. It's Namjoon, from last weekend."
He waits for Jungkook to recognise his name, the silence seeming endless, and eventually a quiet, amused, "Is Snugs recovering well?" crackles over the line.
Namjoon smiles. "He was back to his old self mere hours after reuniting with Sungki." Jungkook's giggles fill Namjoon's ear, and he swivels his chair from side to side, gnawing on his lip, "Are you free tonight? I need someone to babysit Sungki for a few hours, I've got a mountainous workload to get through, and he doesn't require much minding. Put him to bed two hours from now and you can have free run of the house."
He's met with a lengthened pause. "You don't even know me."
Jungkook sounds baffled, and Namjoon jabs the nib of his pen into his notebook, "You seem trustworthy, and you appeared to have a way with kids."
"I could be a very dangerous guy," Jungkook mutters, a smile evident in the tone of his voice.
"You're really selling yourself here, buddy," Namjoon grumbles, already flipping through his list of friends, seeing who might be free on a Thursday night.
"I'm kidding," Jungkook insists, and Namjoon deciphers the jingling sound of keys down the line, "Sure, I'll do it. What's the address?"
He's at the office longer than he'd hoped he'd be, and by the time he's driving home, he's struggling to stay awake. His eyes feel heavy, his body tight, and when Namjoon quietly opens the front door, tip-toeing in so as not to rouse those who are in the land of nod, he strips off his jacket, kicks off his shoes, drops his briefcase and folders in a heap by the front door before strolling into the living room.
He's loosening his tie, pulling the tails of his shirt out from his trousers and popping open the top three buttons on his shirt when his eyes find the sleeping lump curled up on the sofa.
Jungkook's got his headphones in, the roar of muffled music filling the quiet of the house, and Namjoon just looks down at him, reaching up to scratch his head before he looks around at the surroundings. He notices the chairs behind the sofa with a blanket laid over them, creating a rather cosy looking fort, and Namjoon smiles wide when he sees 'Miss. Rumphius,' sitting atop a cushion, along with an empty carton of pudding.
He returns to Jungkook, who he sincerely doesn't want to stir. Leaving him to join the sheep jumping over the moon, Namjoon looks around for the remote control, which he locates and promptly proceeds to switch off the shopping network that's futilely trying to sell Jungkook some jewellery. Deciding to wait for Jungkook to wake himself up, Namjoon plants himself in his battered orange armchair.
With his palms flat on the two arms of the chair, Namjoon listens to the sounds of the house settling, to the occasional car whirring past the house while keeping his gaze fixed on Jungkook, who's in a pair of grey sweats and a grey sweatshirt which he's got his hand shoved up, splayed across his abdomen, his socked feet pushing against the end of the sofa. His plan to wait for Jungkook to rouse quickly falls through when the remote control falls from its perched position on his thigh, clattering onto the floor with an almighty thwack.
Jungkook jolts, and Namjoon shuts his eyes and wonders why, why he chooses the worst times to be clumsy.
He finds Namjoon immediately, and he blinks blearily at him, wholly perplexed.
"Hello," Jungkook croaks after he pushes his headphones off, running his fingers through his hair, sending it into a further dishevelled state, "I didn't hear you come home."
"I was trying to be quiet but I was more like a herd of elephants," Namjoon smiles sleepily, suddenly very aware of his exhaustion.
He watches Jungkook whilst he stretches, groaning loudly when his muscles come alive. He drifts off somewhere faraway whilst he watches Jungkook's back rise off of the sofa, his sweatshirt riding up, and upon realising that he's zoning out, Namjoon shakes himself. "How was Sungki?"
"A dream," Jungkook smiles, cracking his fingers, towards which Namjoon grimaces, "He couldn't believe Snugs' doctor had come to babysit him."
They share laughter before they trail off into silence, and when Jungkook glances at the clock, his eyes widen.
Namjoon follows his line of vision, and sighs, "Sorry for keeping you so late, I had a rather daunting stack of assignments to correct."
"What do you do?" Jungkook asks as he wraps the wire of his headphones over his walkman, eyebrow quirked in curiosity.
"I teach English," Namjoon shares, watching Jungkook physically wilt.
"You're a professor? Only the sharpest tools in the shed get into lecturing," Jungkook says, sounding like he's on a spiel of his own thoughts.
"I know plenty of professors who are gifted in the academic field but who struggle with mundane, everyday tasks."
"Mm. Creative minds are often kooks. I mean, look at the greats in history. The majority of them were as weird as anything."
Namjoon raises his eyebrows, taken aback by Jungkook's words.
Jungkook gapes at him, seemingly scandalised by his own words, "Not to say that you're weird, or that you're not like the greats."
"Put your foot in your mouth before you dig your own grave," Namjoon advises teasingly, beaming like a full moon when Jungkook ducks his head to hide his pink cheeks.
Jungkook stands, twisting from side to side to ease the tightness in his muscles, "I'll start digging now, shall I?"
Their eyes don't meet, instead they busy themselves by looking as distracted as they possibly can whilst they wait for their giggles to subside, and when Namjoon's escorting him to the door, he offers Jungkook his dues.
"I can't take this," Jungkook downright refuses, pushing the money into Namjoon's chest, who almost stumbles backwards, "I didn't do this with a reward in mind."
"I appreciate your decorum," Namjoon commends, shoving the bills back into Jungkook's hand, "It was still five hours taken out of your free night."
"Namjoon," Jungkook heaves a heavy sigh, returning the money again, "It's fine. Really."
This time, Namjoon grabs Jungkook by the shoulders, turning him to the side so he can shove the money into his sweats' pocket before he turns him back to face him.
Startled like a deer in headlights, Jungkook blinks at Namjoon, mouth open in surprise, his eyes darting over Namjoon's features.
All Namjoon does is offer him a small smile, "Consider it as payment for your excellent surgical skills on Snugs."
17th October, 1988.
Jungkook spends more time in Namjoon's home than Namjoon does himself these days.
He's around almost daily now that Namjoon's headfirst into the swing of things in the new semester. He's swamped, what with there being no time to do so much as breathe let alone raise a child on his lonesome whilst keeping on top of chores and maintaining friendships with people of which he hasn't seen in what feels like an age. They're coming around tonight, all five of them which time and time again proves to be a recipe for mayhem, and Namjoon hurries through his lecture plan in order to be home in time to wash up and prepare snacks.
He finds Jungkook lying on Sungki's bed, a book held up over his chest as he reads aloud to Sungki who reenacts the words.
Neither notice him at first, both of them too wrapped up in the prince slaying the evil beast who's holding the princess hostage, and it's Sungki who sees him first.
"Daddy!" Sungki shrieks, closing the distance between them in a flash, squealing when Namjoon scoops him up into a tight squeeze.
Namjoon's gaze falls on Jungkook over Sungki's shoulder, and he's smiling to himself as he sets the book on the side-table, pulling himself up to nod towards Namjoon in greeting.
"Sungki mentioned something about a soirée tonight," Jungkook mentions, standing to dig his hands deep into the pockets of his jeans, brandishing from them his glasses which he puts on.
Sungki runs off in the direction of the kitchen when Namjoon permits him to have some chocolate before dinner, and he nods, bending down to pick up some toys that were being used as props in Sungki's dramatic reenactment. "A few friends are coming over, that's all. It's been a while since we were all together."
"Do you need anything? I can run out and get supplies if you'd like," Jungkook offers when Namjoon dumps the toys into Sungki's overbrimming toy chest.
"I think I'm good for snacks." Jungkook's glasses slide down his nose when Namjoon turns to face him, and he studies him quietly, "You don't wear those often."
Stilling, Jungkook bites back a shy smile before he shifts awkwardly, "Yeah, I usually only wear them to work."
"Have the neon lights in the place corrupted your vision?" Namjoon jokes, leading the way out of the bedroom, Jungkook slowly following after him.
Jungkook omits a fake laugh before humming, "My vision's pretty good, actually."
They reach the kitchen, where Namjoon fetches a carton of orange juice from the fridge, swigging from it uncivilly. Swallowing loudly, Namjoon's brows furrow.
"They're an aesthetic choice?" he probes, his lips twitching in a mocking manner.
An affronted look graces Jungkook's features, and his gaze falls to the floor when he mumbles, "Sort of. That and I use them to hide."
The carton pauses on its way to Namjoon's mouth, and he lowers it slowly, looking at Jungkook peculiarly.
"To hide?" Namjoon repeats, trying to understand him.
"Sometimes you just don't wanna be seen."
Namjoon doesn't have time to make sense of Jungkook's strange habit. The doorbell rings, breaking the quiet between them, and Namjoon shoves the orange juice into Jungkook's arms when he bounds across the living room, swinging the door open to greet Jimin, whose got Taehyung in tow. They pull Namjoon into a crushing hug, Jimin lifting his feet off of the ground as he hangs from Namjoon's neck.
"God, I've missed your silly face," Jimin expresses with grievance, taking Namjoon's face in his hands, puffing his cheeks out past his thumbs.
Taehyung's less overbearing, pushing past them with little care when he snidely calls, "You should count yourself lucky. I see that damn face five days a week."
"Always great seeing you too," Namjoon grumps, turning to Jimin in seek of the appreciation he craves.
With Jimin hanging off of his arm, Namjoon follows in Taehyung's wake, finding him standing stock-still in the doorway of the kitchen. Looking past Taehyung's shoulder, Namjoon sees Jungkook standing with his back facing them, the orange juice tipped high as he gulps it down.
"This is Jungkook," Namjoon introduces, raising his voice a decibel higher to warn Jungkook of him currently being ogled like how a vulture would its prey.
Jungkook jumps out of his skin, the orange juice threatening to slosh out of the carton that gets jerked to the side. He turns to meet three empty faces with a startled expression on his face before he lifts his hand to slowly dab at the corner of his wet mouth.
"Jungkook," Taehyung echos distantly, turning slowly to Jimin, sharing with him a look that Namjoon can't see. He pushes past the two of them to stand alongside Jungkook who looks as if he's ready for the earth to implode right that very second if it so wished to.
"He's the new babysitter, remember? Do either of you ever listen to anything I say?"
"No," they say in unison.
"In our defence, you do sometimes come out with such absolute garbage," Taehyung remarks, still hellbent on eyeing Jungkook, "It's just easier to tune you out."
Namjoon gawks at him, disbelief evident in his upturned eyebrows. He turns to smile awkwardly at Jungkook before returning his attention to Taehyung.
"I'm quickly regretting having ever organised this get-together," he grumbles when the doorbell rings again, welcoming in Yoongi, Seokjin and Hoseok who crowd into the doorway of the kitchen, greeting Namjoon before their eyes fall upon Jungkook who's still standing there with the orange juice in his hands and a lost expression on his face. It feels like a zoo, like they're all spectators and Jungkook's a new tiger that's been released into a newly furbished habitat.
"Who's this?" Hoseok exclaims excitedly, squeezing Namjoon's shoulder, shaking him roughly when Jungkook finally sets the orange juice down on the table.
Sungki joins the crowd, shoving Snugs into all of their faces when he enthusiastically shares, "Jungkook fixed Snugs' broken heart! He's so good at so many things."
He hurries over to Jungkook after Yoongi and Seokjin bend to respectively plant a kiss on Sungki's cheek, the kisses seeming to not come fast enough as he scrambles over to Jungkook, clinging onto his pants leg when Namjoon clears his throat loudly, clapping his hands together before he turns his away from Jungkook to address everyone.
"You're all early for once, and I need to whip some snacks up, so please, if you could all vacate the kitchen." He extends his arms towards the door, inviting them all to get the hell out, and they eventually disperse, leaving Jungkook to quietly converse with Sungki about the newest episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Namjoon shares with Jungkook a look of apology before he gets yanked out of the doorway, coming face to face with Taehyung.
"That's your new babysitter?"
He pulls his arm out of Taehyung's grip, irritation evident in the way he glares at him, "You're all acting like goddamn freaks. What's the problem?"
Taehyung shrugs, aiming for nonchalance, until he opens his mouth and quietly murmurs, "He was drinking your orange juice."
Namjoon gapes at him, "Well, I'm paying him, so allowing him a few sips of OJ doesn't seem like a blasphemous gesture."
"No," Taehyung interjects, holding his hand up between them as Namjoon watches him process his thoughts with heightening annoyance, "He was drinking right from the carton."
"Jesus Christ," Namjoon breathes, hands coming up to cover his face, trying to alleviate his frustration, "And? I don't think he's gonna give me or Sungki cooties."
"Don't be so sure about that," Taehyung warns, glancing to Yoongi who appears by his side, "I heard there's been an outbreak."
Namjoon shoves at him, desperate eyes begging Yoongi to take control of his friends' madness.
Yoongi shrugs innocently at him, popping some salted peanuts into his mouth when he needlessly adds, "He's kinda dishy."
"Right? He looks like he stepped right out of a John Hughes flick," Taehyung agrees, delving deep into conversation with Yoongi about Jungkook's floppy wavy hair, his relaxed clothes, even his reportedly fit physique. Namjoon looks up at the ceiling, at the walls, trying desperately to locate the video camera he's so sure someone's planted to capture his reaction to this cruel prank.
They wisely leave Jungkook and Namjoon to their devices, Namjoon walking over to Jungkook in a daze, feeling like clouds have settled heavy over his head.
Jungkook peers at him, a strange look in his eyes when he leans against the sink, arms crossed and fingers thoughtfully tapping his lips. Namjoon arrives beside him, frowning deeply when Jungkook laughs breathily, palms flat on the countertop and shoulders up to his ears when he opines, quietly, "They're a strange bunch."
Turning to him, their noses close, so very close, Namjoon's eyes soften when he spies a distinct scar on Jungkook's cheek, something that he hasn't noticed before.
"What they just pulled is nothing in comparison to how they normally are," Namjoon mumbles, picking at his nails, wincing when he pulls too hard on a piece of straying skin, listening to the conversation Seokjin's having with Sungki about Snugsgate in the other room. He shoves himself up, sighing deeply when he says, over his shoulder, "Wanna hear the worst thing about them? They've all got flourishing careers. Yoongi and Seokjin's got twin girls and a successful bakery in the town over, Taehyung works at the same University I do as an Art History professor, Jimin's a sought after interior designer and Hoseok got his own dance studio. They're all accomplished in their respective fields and yet, when they're all in the same room together, they revert back to being fourteen year olds."
Mulling over this new information, Jungkook nods to himself in contemplation before the corners of his mouth twitch, then turning downwards, his eyebrows quirking.
"Considering the people you choose to call friends, maybe I was wrong about you not being a kook."
Namjoon's jaw drops. He elbows Jungkook playfully before jabbing his fingers against Jungkook's chest, delighting in the startled yelp that escapes him. He points an accusatory finger at Jungkook, "Careful now. I'm the only one out of the lot of them with a level head."
Jumping out of his skin, Namjoon turns to the source of the voice. Taehyung stands in the door with Sungki propped on his hip, Snugs hanging from his fingers by one of his droopy ears. He belatedly realises he's got a tight grip on Jungkook's shoulders and promptly releases his hold, taking a step away from him like he was scorched by an open flame.
"Sorry. Sungki wants some OJ."
"Were you and Jungkook play-fighting?" Sungki interjects with delight, smiling wide when he sees Jungkook press his finger to his lips before a goofy smile stretches across his face.
Blankly, Namjoon glances back at Jungkook who speedily averts his eyes from Namjoon's.
Plucking Sungki from Taehyung's hold, Namjoon huffs, flustered, "Let's get you some more of that OJ, buddy."
He's tending to Sungki when he watches Jungkook slink out of the kitchen, brushing past Taehyung who looks him up and down before he looks to Namjoon, who stares at Taehyung, daring him to speak. "What?" Namjoon snaps when Taehyung's silence lengthens.
Leaning against the doorway, arms crossed and expression annoyingly unreadable, Taehyung murmurs, "Nothing. I didn't say anything."
"Your silence speaks volumes," Namjoon growls.
"I just think he's nice, is all," Taehyung cautiously explains, towards which Namjoon reacts by clicking his tongue loudly. He shoves past Taehyung, and upon his departure, peeks into the living room in search of Jungkook before he hears movement by the front door. Jungkook's there, removing his house slippers and putting on the same beat-up sneakers Namjoon's seen him where since they first met.
Upon noticing Namjoon, Jungkook stands tall, fingers rubbing along the front of his thighs before disappearing into his pockets.
"I should go, get out of you guys' hair."
"You're more than welcome to stay."
Jungkook's lips tighten into a thin line and Namjoon watches his face, the way it's expressing so much yet so little at the same time. After much thought, he seems to have come to a decision, and he shakes his head before providing Namjoon with a weakly concocted excuse, "I've gotta go run some errands."
"It's six o'clock at night. Nowhere's open," Namjoon shoots him down, standing now with his hands on his hips. Heaving a deep sigh, Namjoon's arms fall to his sides, and he comes closer to Jungkook, glancing behind him first to make sure that no skulking figure is eavesdropping. "If you're weirded out by those buffoons in there, ignore them. They're not used to a stranger imposing on our Game nights."
"Game night?" Jungkook repeats, expression twisted in confusion, "I didn't know there was a game on tonight."
"There's not," Namjoon agrees, awkwardly scratching his temple, "We just call our get-togethers that, I don't know why. Probably because it sounds more fitting than 'Five guys sit around for hours together to helplessly obtain some semblance of freedom by re-telling stories from their wild-child days.'"
Jungkook smiles at that; that soft, warm smile he saves for special moments. A single laugh escapes him, "You guys are so strange."
"You haven't seen anything yet," he returns Jungkook's smile before his register drops and he requests, with more sincerity this time, "Please stay."
Jungkook doesn't answer, instead puts back on his house slippers before joining the others in the living room where he's met with rapturous applause, most of it coming from Jimin, who's enough of a gentleman to relinquish his seat to Jungkook. They're all on their best behaviour for the night, save for some questionable conversation routes, one of which has Namjoon wanting to shove his entire fist into his mouth. Taehyung brings it up, and it seems to be entirely driven by ill intent.
"How long has it been since you went on a date, Joonbug?"
"I can't remember the last time you went out with someone," Yoongi joins, tapping his nail on his beer can as he professionally ignores Namjoon's knife-like glare.
"Pray tell, where would I even meet someone? I wake up, go to work, come home and sleep. The free time that I do manage to nab is spent with Sungki."
"Surely there's someone in work that tickles your pickle," Hoseok supplies, crushing his empty can before tossing it onto the coffee table.
Namjoon leans his head back onto the headrest of the armchair, his eyes shutting in a futile attempt to block out their five nagging voices.
"Taehyung," Jimin offers, immediately being met with a gagging sound from the latter and a sharp stare from Namjoon.
"We're like brothers," Taehyung exclaims in a squeaky voice, wiping away beer from his lips, "Plus, he's not my type."
"Thanks man. Really appreciate that," Namjoon drawls flatly, sloshing around his beer, hissing when some of it slips out.
Taehyung extends his beer in a cheering gesture, "No problem, bro."
"Change the subject before I start ripping my hair out," Namjoon begs when he opens his eyes to blink weakly around the room. His eyes fall on Jungkook who sits between Seokjin and Jimin, and he's hunched over his untouched beer, the pad of his index finger running around the rim of his can as he tries his utmost best to dislodge himself from the conversation.
"I can set you up with one of my interns," Jimin suggests, already glancing around the room in search of pen and paper, "This one guy's real easy on the eye."
"Enough," Namjoon breathes tiredly, rubbing furiously at his forehead.
He begins collecting the empty cans from the coffee table, doing anything to avoid being roped into a blind date, and eventually they all take a hint, Yoongi the first to gently pull Seokjin to his feet and say that he wants to get home before the twins go to bed. Jimin leaves with Hoseok, and isn't surreptitious at all when he tactfully leaves a number on the coffee table, which Namjoon promptly scrunches up and chucks in the trashcan.
When Namjoon's seeing Taehyung out, Taehyung stops outside, whistling loudly when a bitterly cold gust of wind wraps around him.
"Hey," Taehyung begins quietly, demeanour significantly less imposing than it was earlier, "You're okay, right?"
Serving him a tired smile, Namjoon nods, "I'm okay."
"You're just always... Go go go. Sometimes I wonder how you haven't had a nervous breakdown yet."
Namjoon laughs, because he has to. "I've got Sungki. I can't afford to stay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself."
"Well, if you're ever in the mood to sleep all day and cry, you know I'm at your beck and call."
Taehyung's gentle eyes shift from Namjoon to an area behind his shoulder, and Namjoon turns to find Jungkook awkwardly waiting for him to vacate the doorway.
"I'm gonna head home," Jungkook mutters quietly, rocking on his heels, and Namjoon's blinking at him when he feels Taehyung's hand take a hold of his.
He squeezes Namjoon's hand when he leans in, his breath hot and barely above a whisper, "Be careful, Joon."
Taehyung leaves like a thief in the night, so quickly that Namjoon blinks out into the darkness, wondering if he was ever even there to begin with.
"Oh, shit," he hears from behind him, and turns to find Jungkook bending to console a whimpering Sungki whose got his tattered baby blanket in one hand and Snugs in the other. After scooping him up into his arms, Jungkook throws Namjoon a look of apology, though he doesn't know why. It's not his fault that Sungki's a light sleeper. "What's up, champ?" Jungkook asks softly, rubbing soothing circles into Sungki's back, his tiny body shaking with quiet cries.
"I had a nightmare," Sungki hiccups, the fist that Sungki's trapped in trying to rub the sleep from his eyes.
Namjoon guides them inside, his hand coming up to lightly rest on the small of Jungkook's back when he gently ushers him inside, his other hand reaching up to thread his fingers through Sungki's sweat-soaked hair. He kisses Sungki's scarlet cheek, stroking the spot he'd kissed with his thumb when he gestures for Jungkook to hand him over, but Jungkook shakes his head.
"I can bring him down," Jungkook insists, already halfway down the hall when Sungki makes a noise of complaint.
"Daddy gives me milk when I can't sleep," Sungki grumbles into Jungkook's sweater, hiding his face from Namjoon who's eyeing his son who's so very obviously hamming it up, but Jungkook's still getting to know Sungki, he can't see past his tricks just yet.
Glancing towards Namjoon, Jungkook nods resolutely, "Alright, we'll go get you some milk."
With Sungki sitting at the kitchen table, his short legs swinging in the chair as he slowly sips at his milk like how a newborn puppy would, Namjoon and Jungkook stand shoulder-to-shoulder in front of him. Namjoon's patience is wearing thin, because he knows Sungki's manipulating Jungkook, making use of his naivety, knowing fully well that with Jungkook present, Namjoon is less likely to discipline him and decide that enough is enough.
When Sungki's glass is finally empty, Namjoon quickly collects it from the table, tersely muttering, "Bedtime, buddy," when Jungkook shares with him a look.
"I'll go," Jungkook announces when Sungki jumps down off of the chair, craning his neck to pout up at him.
"Don't go," he pleads in a small voice, reaching up to grasp Jungkook's hand, who simply stares down at where they're joined.
Looking over his shoulder as he cleans the glass, Namjoon decides Sungki's been given too much leeway, shaking his head in dissatisfaction.
"He wouldn't have anywhere to sleep."
Pursing his lips in thought, Sungki looks off into the distance before a lightbulb ignites over his head, "He can sleep in my bed."
Namjoon chortles, and he has to give his son credit for his unrelenting determination. "Jungkook's far too big to be able to squeeze himself into your bed, buddy," Namjoon informs, gesturing to the length of Jungkook's body before continuing, "Look at him. He's three times your size and you're already outgrowing your bed as it is."
"You've got a big bed, Daddy," Sungki points out innocently, and Namjoon's expression goes blank.
He can feel Jungkook's gaze boring into him as he stares helplessly down at Sungki.
"Geez, you're one hell of an unrelenting little terror," Namjoon laughs awkwardly, ruffling Sungki's mop of hair when Jungkook leans against the fridge, waiting quietly for their simmering familial argument to reach its height. Namjoon crouches down to Sungki's level and he explains, slowly, "Only adults who like each other very much share their beds."
Sungki's face twists with confusion, and he looks between Namjoon and Jungkook before venturing, curiously, "Don't you two like one another?"
Jungkook's the first to laugh this time. Namjoon's gaze flits to him immediately, and he stares at him with with wide, helpless eyes, begging him to salvage the spiralling conversation. "We do," Namjoon assures, eyes still fixed on Jungkook, "Of course we do, just not enough to sleep together."
"Best to stop whilst you're ahead," Jungkook says over a strategic cough.
"Look," Namjoon snaps, patience wearing extremely thin, "If Jungkook stays the night, will you please go to bed?"
Sungki's face ignites like a newly lit Christmas tree, and he jumps up and down on the spot, nodding intently when he turns to grin widely up at Jungkook.
"Shame I didn't bring my pyjamas," Jungkook laments, welcoming the arms that Sungki wraps around his legs, his tiny body visibly vibrating with excitement.
It takes Namjoon a good half hour to get Sungki to wind down, and when he finally manages to steal him away from Jungkook, just as Namjoon had expected, he's asleep five minutes after he's put to bed. He tip-toes into the living room, locking eyes with Jungkook, immediately pressing his finger to his lips, silently begging him not to make any loud noises. He sinks down into his armchair, and the moment his body relaxes into its orange upholstery, he's made aware of just how tired he is.
"'You okay?" Jungkook inquires in a whisper when Namjoon feels himself beginning to slip away.
"I promise he's not usually like that," Namjoon insists, splaying his fingers across his thighs, tapping them idly, "He figured since you were here that he could pull my strings a little bit."
"How very conniving of him," he hears the wryness in Jungkook's tone and just about manages to crack his eyes open to throw him a sleepy smile. When his eyes snap shut again, Jungkook's voice worms its way into his head, "Go to bed, Namjoon."
"M'not tired," Namjoon grumbles, struggling to hide his sleep-deprived, childish smirk. He pulls himself together for a moment to blink over at Jungkook who's spread out on the sofa, fiddling with his walkman, clicking through songs before he lays it down on his stomach. One ear of his is free, and Namjoon calls to him, "I can't have you sleeping on that piece of shit tonight. You can take my bed."
Jungkook downright refuses, "I'm not kicking you out of your own damn bed."
"No, you're not," Namjoon pauses, a teasing smirk shining through his serious visage when he adds, "I'm kicking myself out of my own bed."
He won't take no for an answer, and when it's nearing midnight, Namjoon chucks some spare blankets and pillows on top of Jungkook after he's switched off all of the lights. He manages to burst his shin against the armchair when he's rounding the corner of the sofa, and he flies forward, hissing out an expletive as he catches himself by clutching onto Jungkook's shoulder. The two share giggles, and Namjoon's glad for the darkness, because he's convinced he's as bright as a beetroot.
"Last chance to give up the sofa," Namjoon whispers from across the room, watching Jungkook's shadowy figure get comfortable on the sofa that he knows will give him nothing short of a back-breaking sleep.
"I'm good," Jungkook drawls, yawning between his words, "I wanna stay here now just to prove to you that I can do it."
"Alright, Mr. Foolhardy," Namjoon gently teases, and when he turns to finally get the rest that he craves, he pauses in the doorway, calling towards Jungkook in the darkness.
There's silence for a moment and then a deep, contented sigh when Jungkook answers, "Goodnight, Namjoon."
Despite being as tired as he is, Namjoon tosses and turns for what feels like hours.
He flips his pillow thrice, counts over one hundred sheep leaping over the moon, and when he begins to feel his body temperature rising, he kicks the blankets off of him with frustration. Lying there, his arms and legs spread out, he turns to watch the blue hue of the moon shining through his blinds. A crow squawks on a branch outside of his window, and he pulls his lips together, trying to make sense of this niggling, uncomfortable hold that's wrapped itself tightly around his heart. When the crow squawks a second time, he throws himself out of bed, the floorboards creaking beneath him as he makes his way towards the living room.
The soft, breathy snores is what he's first met with, then the pristine face of Jungkook peeping out from beneath an old blanket that Namjoon thinks hails from his college days. Wavy tendrils of hair cover Jungkook's eyes whilst Namjoon stands there, and he wonders why he's there, why he's not wrapped up in his duvet, catching that shut-eye he needs. The room's blue, the corners dark and haunting, and he drags his eyes away from Jungkook to scan over his surroundings, over the toys lain forgotten beneath the television set, over the empty glasses perched on the coffee table, and when his gaze returns to Jungkook, he slowly drops to his knees, his hand coming up to peel away the blanket from Jungkook's lax face.
That nameless grip on his heart has wrung itself so tight, and Namjoon rests his palm on his heart as he softly shakes Jungkook.
He doesn't stir, and Namjoon's given a moment to sigh deeply, to hang his head and question what he's doing before he hears a confused, tentative, "Joon?"
He can just about make out the opaque glow of Jungkook's eyes blinking at him, and he smiles at him as he drops his hands to his lap.
"I feel like I've shunned you," he feebly explains, unable to properly articulate his thoughts, because that would require understanding them, "Come to bed with me."
He doesn't have to ask again. Jungkook wordlessly agrees, rising from the sofa with his blanket wrapped around his shoulders, and the two walk towards his bedroom in silence, the darkness following them in their wake, its secrecy wrapping itself around them, consoling them. Jungkook drops the blanket by the door and is the first to crawl across Namjoon's bed. It doesn't matter that he's chosen Namjoon's side, and when he lays down, Namjoon climbs into the other side as quietly and smoothly as he possibly can.
Neither utter so much as a whisper. They lay in similar positions—on their backs, with their hands crossed over their abdomens, their legs crossed similarly. Namjoon's friend from before caws, and they both look to the sound. When Jungkook tears his eyes away from their feathered friend, he finds Namjoon in the darkness, a glint in his clouded eyes.
"Sungki's really taken a liking to you."
He sees the lines in Jungkook's face, the crinkles by his eyes, the indents by his mouth, "And I've taken one to him."
Pushing himself up onto his forearm, Namjoon rolls onto his side, "He never shuts up about you. It's Jungkook this, Jungkook that, morning, noon and night."
"Shucks," Jungkook shyly whispers, "He's sweet, but I'm not anything special."
Namjoon narrows his eyes in the darkness, his tone sombre when he pleads, "Please don't say that. You're more than special."
He trails off when he feels an almighty fire engulf him, the tips of his ears reddening as he falls onto his back, stilling upon hearing Jungkook whispering his name.
"Do you feel... Strange?"
Namjoon's heart travels up into his throat, and he gulps, trying to swallow it back down into his chest. "I don't quite know."
Jungkook remains silent for a few moments before he agrees, with uncertainty, "Yeah. Neither do I."
When silence follows, Namjoon decides to close his eyes, to ignore the squawking crow, to think of warmth, of comfort, anything to bring sleep upon him, and without thought, without caution, his fingers walk across the blankets, slowly but with intent, and when they find the heat of the back of Jungkook's hand, he stops before resting it there, inhaling a quiet breath.
Jungkook doesn't make a sound, doesn't move an inch, and with his fingers laid atop his, Namjoon falls, deeply and with finality to slumber.
He doesn't wake to Jungkook, or to the squawking crow. He wakes to dull light and grey skies, a dreary hue over his bedroom. His bed's empty, much like his heart, and on the bedside table sits a note, with hurried words scrawled onto it.
Thanks for letting me stay. Had to run. Sorry for moving around a lot in the night.
P.S. Have you ever gotten those bear-like snores of yours looked into?
31st October, 1988.
"When writing about love, do you think it should be done in a poetic manner, or do you think, instead, that simple explanations work when it comes to conveying the deep affinity someone may have for another? At times, it's best to keep it simple, to depict romance in an unfiltered type of way. Most writers will ham their stories up by approaching the romance in a pompous way."
He posits the question towards his class, the auditorium erupting into a low murmur before hands begin rising around the room.
"Some writers seek to make love more complicated than it already is. Sometimes, it's best to include the inherent ugliness of it. You get the fluttery stomach, the beating heart, the shy exchanges, and those should be included in the piece of writing, along with the screaming matches and the tears. I think some aspects of the process of falling in love can be poeticised, just to jazz up a story, but, the bottom line is that love isn't one-dimensional, and by throwing in these extravagant similes and long, spieling fluffed-up scenes about how the protagonist views love through rose-coloured glasses, you're only complicating the matter more. Keep it simple. Write about the blushing, write about the furtive looks, the break-ups and make ups because when the love between the characters themselves blossoms and becomes harder to navigate, at least those simple excerpts will stand out."
"Professor," interrupts a bored voice from the top of the room, "It's three minutes past five on Halloween. Can we please be let go?"
His students run out of the auditorium, and he has to shout at them all to slow down for fear of them causing a stampede. It's soon just him walking the empty corridors, balancing his folders precariously in his arms, his keys in his teeth when he reaches his car.
The evening is quiet, like there's an oncoming bout of rain set to drench the trees that pass him by on his drive home. No-ones on the roads, save for some truck drivers who beep at one another and wave, happy to see that it's not just them working on a holiday.
Sungki attempts to scare him the second he gets through the door, as does Jungkook, who joins him in jumping up from behind the sofa, growling loudly, though his growls soon turn into giggles when Sungki continues to shout, and shout, and shout. Namjoon goes along with it, dropping his briefcase to the floor in faux fright, placing his hand on his chest and falling dramatically against the wall like he's some film star.
Jungkook takes Sungki out trick-or-treating in his homemade ghost costume that's just a sheet with a mouth hole and eye holes cut into it, and Namjoon gets down to correcting papers. It doesn't take long for the letters on the pages to blur together, forming words that don't even make sense in Namjoon's brain, and he stares at a moth that's invited itself into the room. As it flings itself against his desk lamp, Namjoon zones out whilst watching it, coffee going cold in his mug the longer he daydreams.
Before he knows it, Jungkook's behind him, fingers gripping his tense shoulders tightly when he shares with Namjoon the story of how Sungki had bartered off three candy apples for an action figure with some neighbourhood kid. "I'm glad he had fun," Namjoon forces a smile as he looks up at Jungkook, a smile which slowly, slowly drops as he blinks slowly at him. The wind's had its fun with him. His hair's a tousled mess and the cold has kissed the tip of his nose and cheeks. In his black turtleneck, leather jacket and light blue jeans, he looks like every girl or boy's teenage heartthrob, like he belongs on a poster in their bedrooms.
Jungkook leaves him, and Namjoon forgets the moth, his eyes falling instead on Jungkook, raking up from his feet, focusing intently on his waist, his shoulders, his face.
He disappears out of view and Namjoon then hears him shouting at Sungki to get ready for bed, which is met with a disappointed whine, and then, a switch goes off in Namjoon. It flicks off with such force that he swipes his papers off of his desk. His pen almost lands in the fireplace, and with the papers scattered at his feet, he rests his elbows on his desk, cradling his head in his hands, his hands over his ears. His breathing's heavy, his thoughts whirring, and he has to count to ten, to focus, to will away this mounting panic that's crawling its way into his body.
"Hey, hey what's wrong?"
Namjoon shoves Jungkook's hand off of him, biting, "Nothing's wrong."
He ignores that sting of regret when Jungkook quietly, dejectedly murmurs, "I'll go put Sungki to bed," and when he's sure that Jungkook's left, he makes a beeline for the kitchen, dropping onto his knees to fumble through the cupboard that he knows hides a forgotten bottle of red wine.
Upon finding it, he foregoes pouring himself a glass, instead bringing the bottle to his lips and swigging, long and without pause. It takes too long to hit, so he drinks, and he drinks. When he feels that first tingling in his fingertips, the bottle hangs heavy by his side, and he stares emptily out the window, at his own reflection looking back at him, and he scowls at himself, wanting nothing more than to reach forward and break himself into smithereens.
When Jungkook surfaces, he enters the kitchen timidly, wringing his hands, expertly avoiding Namjoon's eyes.
The two stand there, not speaking, and when Jungkook inhales audibly, Namjoon's quick to speak first.
"I don't know how to do this." Jungkook's so still it's like he was turned to stone, and he doesn't look to understand Namjoon's words, instead remains tight-lipped and solemn. Namjoon takes another swig from the bottle and he wipes at his mouth with his sleeve, "I feel like I'm drowning, like my surroundings have been engulfed in water. I'm not seeing the world like I once was, Jungkook."
"You're drunk," Jungkook points out weakly, still apprehensive about meeting Namjoon's eyes.
"Good," Namjoon reacts derisively, a sneer on his lips, "Good, because right now, sobriety seems almost impossible. I've been left alone with my thoughts long enough. This... This thing just won't shut up. It talks to me day in, day out. I can't sleep, I can't focus without it whispering in my ear, telling me to do something, to chase what it is that I want, but I can't, because I'm a fucking coward. I'm the lion that trails away from its pack in search of something more, but who is ultimately met with desolation, loss of structure, and loneliness."
"You don't know what you're even saying," Jungkook warns through gritted teeth, and he charges across the kitchen, snatching the bottle out of Namjoon's grip.
He doesn't set it aside but drinks from it himself, hissing loudly when the sourness hits his tongue.
With his lips stained purple, he levels Namjoon, chest rising and falling evenly as he challenges him. His eyes dare Namjoon to do more, to seek what he wants, and they burn, so brightly and with such ferocity that Namjoon cowers away from him, shoulders folding in on himself. He whispers, helplessly, "I don't understand any of this."
"Neither do I," Jungkook replies like lightning, and he's suddenly close, his chest close to Namjoon's, his eyes searing into him.
Namjoon's arms hang by his sides, his eyes shut and lips pulled tight together. He's slipping further and further into intoxication, and he can hear the glug of the bottle, indicating that Jungkook's about to feel equally as loose as him, equally as bold. The four walls feel like they're closing in on him, and he inhales sharply as he squirms out of Jungkook's space, feet almost tripping over themselves when he arrives at the table, which he bends over.
"This is stupid."
"It is stupid."
"I'm too damn old for shit like this."
"I should know better," Jungkook whispers.
"We're both fools."
"Two peas in a pod," Jungkook offers lightheartedly, and amidst his multitude of emotions, Namjoon manages to crack a tiny smile.
They hesitate a glance at one another, and when their eyes meet, Namjoon sees restraint in Jungkook's. He wonders what Jungkook sees in his.
When the electricity settles between them, Namjoon wordlessly re-corks the wine whilst Jungkook hovers by the table, tapping the wood, and every single move that Namjoon makes he feels watched. When he bends to return the bottle to the bottom cupboard, he unconsciously holds his breath before wanting to desperately release it when he hears an indecipherable, quiet noise slip from Jungkook.
His fingers shake whilst he remains bent, rearranging the placement of the bottle, facing the label towards him. When he eventually rises, Jungkook's fists hold him up from his hovering position over the table, and they both share looks, ones which neither can make sense of. His headache's been made worse by the wine, and Namjoon announces that he's heading to bed, adding a calculative, hopefully insouciant, "You're welcome to stay," when he brushes past Jungkook upon his departure.
It takes him multiple attempts to successfully step out of his trousers, and when he's gripping his sweater, ready to tug it up and off of his head, he hears the front door slam shut.
2nd-5th November, 1988.
He welcomes their cabin break far more than he normally he would.
It's a tradition he'd developed with Sungki when the boy was just a tiny tyke. Up in the mountains, in the dense forest of Boseong, Namjoon hides himself away for four, long days, drinking in the brisk, clean air, eagerly welcoming it into his lungs. Immersing himself in nature feels rejuvenating, like he's resetting his mindset. No-one else has been up there with him and Sungki, it's always been just them, and he feels some kind of pressure when he pulls into the dirt driveway with Jungkook sitting in the passenger's seat, whistling loudly when he sees the quaint, log cabin that Namjoon hopes to one day retire to.
"This place is incredible," Jungkook sings, awe evident in his words when he cranes his neck to gaze up at the canopy of trees, arms stretched out as he turns in a circle with his eyes closed and the ghost of a smile on his lips. Sungki mimics him, and Namjoon leans against the hood of the car, laughing when Jungkook realises he's being mocked, rectifying that by reducing Sungki to screaming giggles through an onslaught of merciless tickling.
Sungki puts Snugs to bed the second they get through the door, claiming the journey's tired him out, and a musky smell of misuse hangs heavy in the air, pinching their noses when Namjoon and Jungkook fling their luggage into Namjoon's bedroom. Once Snugs has reportedly fallen asleep, Sungki says it's okay for them to head down to the riverbed. Namjoon takes his hand, and Sungki reaches up to clasp Jungkook's, and they walk through the brambles and overgrowth together, swinging Sungki between them.
The water's still, save for some ripples caused by insects diving into it, and when Jungkook skips a rock across the water expertly, Sungki emits a gasp of awe.
"How did you do that?"
"It's all in the wrist," Jungkook explains, plucking from the ground a duck-egg coloured stone before he sends it flying through the air. It bounces once, twice, three times before sinking into the abyss, and when Sungki tries, his sinks immediately.
Namjoon gives it a go, clicking his tongue loudly in dissatisfaction when his sinks just like Sungki's had.
Jungkook helps Sungki, telling him how he needs to not overthink it, just let it go and hope it'll travel how it's supposed to. On his eleventh attempt, Sungki successfully sends a stone dancing across the water, and he screams with joy, high-fiving Jungkook enthusiastically. He tries again and fails, but the high of his one success prevents him from pouting.
Namjoon gives it another go, but it too sinks. Jungkook comes up beside him, instructing him more descriptively than he did with Sungki, and when he fails, Jungkook flippantly comments, "You're too stiff. Relax and it'll go how it's supposed to go."
His fingers wrap around Namjoon's wrist, his tight grip trying to loosen the tenseness there, and Namjoon gets a whiff of sweet peas and honey, a scent that fills him with a deep longing. He attempts to throw the stone again, and with Jungkook's chest pressed to his arm, his gaze falls to the sand, to their footprints in it. When Jungkook jolts, hollering and whistling loudly, he shakes Namjoon by the shoulders, his grin wide and dazzling when he exclaims, "You did it!"
"I did?" he asks, sounding far-away.
Jungkook's smile falls slightly, a slight furrow forming between his brow. "Yeah. Didn't you see it?"
"I didn't," Namjoon mutters, eyes trained on Sungki who's on his hunkers, drawing hearts in the stony sand, "Must've got distracted."
"Swans!" Sungki shouts suddenly from a distance, on his hands and knees as he peers precariously over the water's edge. Namjoon flies over to him, pulling him up by the collar of his sweater, scolding him for getting too close to the edge when he sees a swan swim out from the reeds, a tiny signet struggling to keep up with it. "It has a baby," Sungki exclaims in amazement when Jungkook comes up alongside them, hands in his pockets, his denim jacket flapping in the breeze.
When Sungki starts clicking at the birds, Namjoon shares with Jungkook a look of amusement. "They're not chickens, buddy."
"The baby still looked at me," Sungki insists proudly.
"You're a swan whisperer, champ," Jungkook jokes, elbowing Namjoon who smiles.
Sungki suddenly gasps loudly, hand coming up to cover his mouth when he points towards the reeds.
A third swan comes into view, and Namjoon hears Jungkook's soft whistle of wonder combine with Sungki's happy laughter.
When the family of swans have disappeared too far into the distance to be seen, they all traipse back to the cabin, Sungki dragging his feet, complaining about how sleepy he is. Night's already begun to fall fast, and Jungkook helps Namjoon set up a small campsite beneath the trees behind the cabin. Once they've got a fire lit and Jungkook's wrapped Sungki up in at least four blankets, Namjoon begins roasting some marshmallows, mushing them in-between a cracker and some chocolate. Jungkook takes the first he makes, and a swipe of melted chocolate clings to the corner of his mouth when he says around his mouthful, "My compliments to the chef."
The forest erupts with noise. Bushes rustle, twigs snap, and crickets cheep happily under the shadow of the moon. The cacophony comes together to create a rather melodic lullaby, and soon, Sungki's snoozing in his chair, only his eyes visible from the cocoon that Jungkook's created for him. Namjoon accepts the beer that Jungkook offers him, and he watches him as he sets his own bottle down. He holds his hands in front of the flourishing fire, rubbing them together, craning his neck to look up at the sliver of sky visible from opening of the canopy.
"Let's tell ghost stories," Jungkook suggests, looking over his shoulder to give Namjoon a cheeky smile.
"And risk Sungki hearing and inevitably not sleeping for another year? No thank you."
Jungkook pays him no heed. He springs to life, and Namjoon pulls his blanket close, startled by the mischief that's swirling in Jungkook's eyes.
He stalks around the outskirts of the fire, walking past Sungki with his finger pressed to his lips. He disappears behind Namjoon, and when Namjoon's about to turn around and tell him to cut it out, two hands land on his shoulders, scaring him, and before he can rip into him, Jungkook dissolves into laughter, knees going weak when he curls over Namjoon, patting his abdomen, his torso hanging over his shoulder. "Never knew you were such a big scaredy cat," Jungkook manages to say between his high-pitched giggles.
"I'm not," Namjoon snaps back, countenance twisting in an affronted way. Jungkook composes himself and comes to stand in front of Namjoon, and with his hands on hips, he regards Namjoon with a soft expression, but Namjoon's sullen frown remains fixed between his brows.
"Oh, c'mon," Jungkook laughs, reaching for Namjoon's hand, pulling him up onto his feet. Avoiding Jungkook's teasing eyes, Namjoon turns his attention instead to the stars peeking from between the clouds. They twinkle amidst the overhanging trees, and Namjoon tries to trace shapes out of them with his eyes. "Well, now I know where Sungki got his penchant for pouting from."
"Cut it out," Namjoon grumbles, shoving his hands into his armpits to try and keep warm when he circles around the fire, glancing over at Sungki for a moment to ensure that he's still fast asleep. "You're very lively tonight. It's like the moon's done something to you."
Jungkook shrugs, kicking at the dirt, "I'm just happy."
His tone causes Namjoon to look at him, to stare intently at the way the fire alights his face, making it glow more than usual. He begins to trail behind Namjoon, giggling quietly when Namjoon swings himself around to check if he's up to something. "Relax," Jungkook reassures, walking away from Namjoon and towards a darkened pathway that leads up into the mountains, "I won't do it again, I promise."
When they're further away from the firelight, Namjoon's just a step behind Jungkook, following his explorative wandering, and Jungkook's saying something, something which Namjoon can't decipher when there's movement in the tree above them and then a loud, cawing sound. Wings fly towards them with speed, and Jungkook yelps loudly, jumping backwards. Namjoon catches him, holding him to him, and Jungkook's arms wrap around him, his breathing laboured and tone panicked when he attempts to turn his shout into a whisper, "You stupid motherfucker!"
"Language," Namjoon gently scolds, still holding Jungkook close, waiting for his inevitable realisation, for him to shove him away and scurry inside.
Only, Jungkook doesn't do any of that. He tenses up, but after his adrenaline comes down, he relaxes in Namjoon's hold, sinking against his chest. His breathing doesn't return to normal, and he's shivering, but he's still. So very, very still.
"Who's the scaredy cat, now?" Namjoon purrs lowly in mocking, laughing breathily when Jungkook makes a petulant noice in answer to him.
"Still you," Jungkook pouts, shifting himself in Namjoon's hold, his chest now pressed up against Namjoon's. His gaze is downcast, focused intently on his own fingers fiddling nervously between their two bodies. Namjoon's thoughts seem to have slowed. They're not panicked, nor are they yelling at him, instilling fear in him, and so when he moves his palms across Jungkook's back, stroking up and down, he holds his breath, shut his eyes, biting his tongue when the quietest of noises escapes Jungkook's lips.
Jungkook stops focusing on his hands, and they splay across Namjoon's chest, travelling up to bump over his clavicles, resting on Namjoon's shoulders. He doesn't lift his head, and Namjoon's breathing picks up when he gazes down at him, at his dark lashes fanning his cheeks, his tousled curls blowing in the wind, his teeth gnawing his bottom lip. Trying to speak around the ball that's manifested in his throat, Namjoon whispers, hoarsely, "We should wake Sungki and head inside."
He tries to pry Jungkook off of him, but Jungkook holds on tighter, grip turning desperate, shoulders rounding in against Namjoon's chest.
He asks, with obvious trepidation in his wavering tone, "Do you feel strange again, Joon?"
He's holding onto Namjoon with such force he can feel Jungkook's nails piercing him through his sweater, and he drops his hands to Jungkook's waist, sighing quietly he hears Jungkook sniffle. "I don't know."
"You have to know," Jungkook counters with sharpness, meeting Namjoon with big, wide, glittery eyes, "You just have to."
Namjoon watches the leaves by the fire, watches them drift away in the breeze, sees the way some of them are charred, made ugly by the flames, and he says, with conviction, "This dance that's happening between us... Me leading you and you leading me... It's different. It's not something I'm used to, and I'm frightened."
"There's no need to be scared," Jungkook croaks as he steps out of Namjoon's space, creating a devastating distance between them.
Namjoon freezes. His blood turns cold without warning, bringing goosebumps to his skin, and he feels like he's drowning again, like the tide has risen and taken him out to sea. Jungkook's standing stiffly, his eyes filled with tragedy, and he wants to make his pain go away, wants to ensure that Jungkook never has to look upon him with anything but fondness, but that part of him, that scared, child-like part of him cowers away in a corner with his hands over his ears and his eyes scrunched shut.
"It's like you're a kid again. Your mother left freshly baked cookies on the kitchen table before she left to go get the groceries. Before she left, she'd said you not to take one, that you'll ruin your supper. All you could think about was those cookies, their smell, how they would melt on your tongue, but you didn't take the cookie, did you, Jungkook?"
"Enough of this shit—"
"You didn't take the cookie, did you, Jungkook?"
"Yes," Jungkook barks, patience snapping, eyes dark with anger, "I would've eaten the fucking cookie, because I know that it would've been worth it."
"Why are you getting angry?"
"You're not being straight with me. Your masking your words and it's hurting me."
Namjoon bristles, assuring, dejectedly, "I'd never want to hurt you."
Jungkook immediately turns so that his face isn't visible to Sungki, dabbing at his eyes when Namjoon hurries over to his son, scooping him up into a hug when he asks, as normally as ever if he'd had a good sleep, telling him that he'd been lucky enough to miss Jungkook's spooky stories, and when he begins to head towards the cabin with Sungki already falling back asleep on his shoulder, Namjoon pauses in the doorway.
Jungkook's standing precariously close to the dying fire, finding immense interest in its waning flames. He doesn't answer when Namjoon says that he's putting Sungki to sleep. The cabin's cold at night, and Namjoon sits with Sungki until his breathing levels and he's sure he's asleep. Jungkook's still not inside when he plops down onto the worn leather sofa, kicking off his hiking boots to prop his feet up on a cut-down tree that serves as a coffee table.
When his attempt at reading his book proves fruitless, he retires to bed, stripping down to his undershirt and boxers, teeth-chattering wildly before he wraps himself tightly in a scratchy blanket. Sleep doesn't come easily, especially not when he can hear the front door opening, and then his bedroom door. Boots hit the floor, and he hears the loud sound of a zipper being unzipped and before long, the bed beside him dips. Jungkook heaves a long, tired sigh.
Namjoon's eyes are shut, but he knows that no-one thinks he's asleep. His heart's begun to hammer against his ribcage, and it only speeds up when he feels Jungkook move closer, his fingers first trailing down Namjoon's exposed arm before he settles himself in behind Namjoon, face tucked in at the nape of his neck, legs curled close against Namjoon's.
"You're so unaware," Jungkook whispers, and Namjoon shivers at the feel of his hot breath tickling his skin, "You're so frustratingly unaware of what you do to me."
When Jungkook shifts his hips just so, Namjoon's jaw goes slack, a broiling heat forming deep in his gut.
"You've got such admirably strict control over yourself, I don't know how you do it. When I'm with you, my lack of self-control becomes more and more evident."
"Go to sleep, Jungkook," Namjoon begs weakly, trying to ignore the way Jungkook's lips are pressed to his nape, teasing a kiss.
"I knew you were awake," Jungkook says around a smile which Namjoon feels against his skin.
"Couldn't sleep," Namjoon murmurs, trying to snatch control of the situation away from Jungkook by being obnoxiously mundane.
Jungkook's hand goes from innocently caressing his arm to the curve of his waist, and they share deep sighs when his fingers snake across his abdomen, palm resting over his bellybutton. "Go to sleep, Jungkook," he tries again, this time with less resolve.
When Jungkook's hands begin to move downwards, Namjoon's eyes fly open, and he distantly hears, "I know something that can help you sleep."
It happens as fast as lightning strikes. In one, swift movement, their bodies tumble, and Jungkook ends up beneath Namjoon with his wrists pinned over his head, blinking widely at Namjoon who's breathing through his teeth. The edges of his vision are blurred, and with something akin to horror, he becomes very aware of Jungkook's dazed eyes, and the way he feels from where he's pressed into his lap.
"Namjoon," Jungkook says in a small voice, wrists flexing in Namjoon's grip.
He releases his hold, sitting back on Jungkook's thighs to stare down at him in disbelief. "What are you doing?"
Jungkook's tongue comes out to swipe across his chapped lips, and he explains, softly through an embarrassed smile, "Taking the cookie."
Wordlessly, Namjoon rolls off of him. He sits on the edge of the bed, his back to Jungkook as he stares into the darkness. Jungkook rises from the bed, coughing awkwardly when he heads towards the door. With his hand on the door handle, he informs, flatly, "I'll go sleep on the sofa."
"No," Namjoon stands, only to find that he's cemented in place.
Jungkook's head bows, and he insists, with finality, "It's fine, Joon. I'll see you in the morning."
He wanders off before Namjoon even awakens.
The morning's dull, the sun having yet to break through the ominous clouds that roll across the sky, and Namjoon's left to entertain Sungki. He takes him back down to the river to look for the swans, but they're long gone, and instead the two end up spending their day going on walks, Namjoon distracting himself by teaching Sungki about the various flora and fauna they encounter. When Sungki points to some poison ivy that's wrapped around a tree that Namjoon guesses is thousands of years old, he warns Sungki not to touch it. "It's not a kind plant. It'll hurt you, monkey."
When they're seated by the fire, Namjoon's head snaps towards the sound of crunching leaves, and Jungkook appears from the clearing, smiling at the ground, avoiding Namjoon's eye when Sungki hurries towards him, words scrambling together as he shares with Jungkook stories of the day's adventures in one, long sentence.
"Where did you go?" Sungki asks, and Jungkook's shoulders rise towards his ears.
"I was exploring," he explains blankly, eyes flitting to Namjoon who serves him a tight smile.
"Did you find anything? Daddy and I went exploring, we found so many beautiful flowers. Here, I picked some for you!"
He collects his bouquet of wild flowers from his seat, presenting it to Jungkook with pride who bends to kiss Sungki's forehead.
"That was very sweet of you. Thank you, bud."
Namjoon makes ramen over the fire, this pinching feeling in his shoulders as Jungkook sits to the side, not uttering so much as a syllable. He talks to Sungki, agreeing to read 'Miss. Rumphius,' to him and Snugs, and whist he reads, Namjoon repeats the story to himself.
"'The next spring there were lupines everywhere. Fields and hillsides were covered with blue and purple rose-coloured flowers. They bloomed along the highways and down the lanes. Bright patches lay around the schoolhouse and back of the church. Down in the hollows and along the stone walls grew the beautiful flowers.'"
He hands Sungki his ramen, and Jungkook his, and when Jungkook's mouth is stuffed, he nudges Sungki, "I saw some lupines on my travels today."
Sungki looks at him in awe, and Namjoon shares with him his dazzled expression when he looks over at him.
"I wanna plant flowers. Daddy bought roses, but we haven't planted them yet," he pouts, and Jungkook laughs.
"When we're back home, maybe you and I can plant your pretty roses?"
Sungki squeaks with excitement and for the first time since his return, Jungkook locks eyes with Namjoon, nodding in acknowledgement towards Namjoon, a gesture which steadfastly fills Namjoon with ease. Sungki runs inside to put 'Miss. Rumphius,' away, too scared to leave the book with them out in the elements, like a bear with a love of children's storybooks would come up and steal it from him.
Jungkook's slouched in his chair, staring into the fire when Namjoon reaches towards him.
Initially, Jungkook looks unimpressed, but when Namjoon holds out a half-empty packet, asking shyly, "Fancy a cookie?" His frown falls.
He plucks a cookie from the packet, mumbling to Namjoon in thanks. After finishing the cookie, crumbs sticking to his big, cream sweater, Jungkook puts on his headphones when Namjoon heads inside to bathe Sungki. It doesn't take long for sleep to take Sungki after they'd spent their day walking, and after propping Snugs by Sungki's head on the pillow, Namjoon leaves him.
The sight he's met with when he's back outside is one that brings to him a fuzzy, warm feeling.
Jungkook's still got his headphones on, the walkman clipped to the waistband of his jeans as he two-steps around the campfire, completely and utterly absorbed in his music. Not wanting to disturb him, despising the thought of imposing on this beautiful exhibition of freedom, he plants himself on the wooden steps, his chin resting on his hand as he watches Jungkook mouth along to the lyrics, punching the air when, Namjoon imagines, the beat heightens.
His moves are awkward, slightly stiff but loose at the same time, and yet Namjoon can't bring himself to cringe. If anything, he's enraptured by the sight of him skirting around the edge of the fire, his foot almost landing in the flames at one point, causing Namjoon to erupt into giggles. When Jungkook realises he's being watched, he pouts over at Namjoon, his arms crossing over him, and then, he's lifting his headphones off, still dancing, just less enthusiastically.
"Don't just sit there gawping at me. C'mon you creep, dance your face off!"
Namjoon gets tugged over to Jungkook's makeshift dancefloor, and he's stiff as he tries to move his body. Dancing when drunk is enough of a struggle, dancing in front of Jungkook feels like torture. "There's no music," Namjoon calls loudly, and Jungkook purses his lips, thinking, "How am I supposed to dance when there's no music?"
"Take this," Jungkook instructs, "Let yourself go. Listen to your body, move how it's telling you to move." He turns the volume up loud before he puts the headphones on Namjoon's head, handing him the walkman before he jumps away from him, launching into his own dance routine. Namjoon grins at him, at his over-dramatic head-banging in tune to a non-existent song. He focuses on the song that's playing and begins moving along to its beat, shyly at first, but the longer he watches Jungkook's theatrics, the more comfortable he feels, and soon, he's jumping up and down, holding hands with Jungkook, smiling wide, laughing like he's never laughed before.
Jungkook stops abruptly, hurrying over to his backpack to retrieve another cassette tape which he loads into the walkman, pressing play.
They move with less intensity this time, and Namjoon hands the headphones to Jungkook, insisting that it's his turn to dance without the music.
Jungkook gets lost in the tune, inhibitons a non-existent concept to him as his hips moving with fluidity, his hands holding the headphones close to his ears as he repeats the lyrics slightly out of tune, "You taste so sweet it hurts a little."
Namjoon's staring at him, his surroundings blurring. Stars are bursting around Jungkook, an unsourced light illuminating him as he jives to the music. Rapturous desire carries Namjoon's feet, his mind clouding as he pushes away those poisonous, invasive thoughts, ones that he's hellbent on not listening to. He takes Jungkook by surprise, his arm looping around his waist, gently pulling Jungkook against him, and Jungkook stares at him with wide, questioning eyes.
He can hear the tinny sound of the song ending, a new one beginning, and he interlocks his free hand with Jungkook's, guiding him around the outskirts of the fire, over the charred, ugly leaves, returning his smile that's uncertain but shining so very bright. They dance, and Namjoon lifts their locked hands above their heads, gesturing for Jungkook to twirl, and Namjoon watches him do so with a twinkle in his eye.
They come back together, Namjoon's hands dropping to Jungkook's hips, and he drinks in every detail of Jungkook that he can.
The scar on his cheekbone, the prominence of his cupid's bow, the small beauty mark beneath his bottom lip. His tousled, wind-swept wavy hair, his deep, golden skin, the lashes that fan his cheeks as he casts his gaze between them upon realising just how intensely Namjoon is looking at him.
He removes his headphones, asking in a small, coy voice, "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"Don't play dumb," Jungkook chides, bringing his arms up to wrap around Namjoon's neck, who inhales softly, "You've got this weird look on your face."
"I can't see myself," Namjoon mumbles, bowing his head in an attempt to avoid Jungkook's steely eye, "You're gonna have to elaborate."
Jungkook ducks his head, eyes trying to draw Namjoon to him, and when their eyes lock, he explains, softly, "You look like you wanna kiss me."
Namjoon stiffens. He's been caught, there's no hiding now. His heart's managed to stop and start fifteen times in the past minute, and he's pondering the possibility of a heart attack when Jungkook sighs, body pressing tight against him, hips so close to his that Namjoon's mind begins to swim. He's not sure what comes over him, where this gall comes from, but he reaches up, placing the headphone back on Jungkook's free ear, and Namjoon blinks at him, confusion evident on his features.
His gaze is focused very obviously on Jungkook's lips, and in a hushed whisper, Jungkook requests, "Kiss me."
It takes him a moment, just a second to blink away the stars bursting around his vision, and then, his lips are on Jungkook's. A high sigh escapes Jungkook when he melts against Namjoon, knees going weak, and they stumble, Namjoon's fingers digging hard into Jungkook's hips to keep them upright. He tastes like like honey, like flowers, like the sweetest nectarines, a taste he hopes will linger on his tongue forevermore.
Jungkook's hands come to rest on his cheeks, a desperation in the way they press into his skin, and Namjoon answers in-turn with his fingers in Jungkook's hair, messing his locks worse than how the wind typically would. It's innocent and chaste, nothing more than a peck, and when Jungkook breaks away from him, Namjoon's eyes struggle to readjust as he watches Jungkook, his bowed head, smiling happily at the ground.
He holds his fingers to his lips, trying to implant the sensation of Jungkook's lips on his in his memory, and he's quickly made very aware of his entire body heating up, from his fingertips right down to his toes. There's this warmth that's so comforting, so unlike anything he's ever felt before, and as he watches Jungkook through a haze as he extends his arms towards the twinkling night sky, he feels undeserved of such a sight, like his eyes have seen too much plainness before now.
Jungkook's headphones hang from his neck as he pokes his fingers towards the stars, dotting each and every single one like he's giving them all their own names. Namjoon hears his dreamy, long sigh, his whisper, "This place is magical."
He answers, much quieter, so quiet that he's unsure of whether Jungkook hears, "You're magical."
Jungkook follows him as they wordlessly head for the cabin, their footsteps light once they're inside so as not to wake Sungki, and they pass the sofa where Sungki's tucked Snugs in for the night, Jungkook's pillow and blankets still there from the night prior, and when Namjoon hangs by the door as Jungkook walks into the bedroom with his hands behind his back, he rolls his bottom lip between his teeth, yearning for something not even he can begin to wrap his head around.
They both sit on the bed twiddling their thumbs, a word struggling to be shared between the both of them. When Namjoon kicks off his shoes and manoeuvres himself over to his side of the bed, he's startled by Jungkook's uncharacteristically wavering voice. "I can just go sleep on the sofa."
He's looming over the bed, his sweater covering his hands, and even in the moonlight, he can see the trepidation on Jungkook's features.
Namjoon ignores that scratchy, niggling, uncomfortable clawing he gets in his insides, the one that's told him all his life to do the opposite of what he actually wants to do.
He folds his hands over his stomach, rearranging the pillows behind his head when he teasingly drawls, "Snugs has already claimed it as his."
Jungkook scoffs at that, his small smile slowly disappearing, "Exactly. He needs some company. I think I can manage to squeeze myself in next to him."
Namjoon exhales softly, expression softening when he invites, gently, "Come lie down with me. Please."
He relents and crawls across the bed, hesitating before he settles himself along the line of Namjoon's body, head carefully resting on Namjoon's chest as he fits himself to the mould of Namjoon's body. He presses his nose into Jungkook's hair, drowning in the smell of the fire, nature and warmth, and Jungkook buries his face in his chest, a satisfied noise slipping from his lips when he digs his fingernails into Namjoon's abdomen, hips readjusting against Namjoon's.
"I wish we could stay here forever," he laments, pressing a featherlight kiss to Namjoon's pec, his fingers combing through Jungkook's hair, "Being here feels like we're in our own little world. Stresses feel like a distant, foreign memory when I'm standing in amongst the trees, staring up at the never-ending stars."
The corners of Namjoon's lips curl lazily, "It's paradise. We can come back and visit whenever we want. I might even pester Yoongi about taking Sungki for a few days."
Jungkook lifts his head to blink at Namjoon, his expression awe-struck when he questions, incredulously, "You'd take me back here?"
Namjoon's hand caresses Jungkook's back, and he squeezes him against him, promising, "I'm already planning our next visit."
He's drifting off, blissful calmness like he's never felt before pulling him under when Jungkook's sleepy, hoarse voice pipes up, "I feel bad about banishing Snugs to the sofa."
Namjoon titters, sleep minutes away from taking him when he insists, "He'll be fine."
7-8th November, 1988.
The doorbell rings and Yoongi's distinctive voice echos down the hallway to where Namjoon's sat at his desk, trying to make sense of a student's paper that sounds far too much like its been plagiarised (he knows the student, and knows for a fact that he could never produce something remotely as insightful and thought-provoking as what he's reading). He sticks a post-it note onto the paper, scribbling down a reminder to tell him to look into it at a later date when he rises, groaning, his muscles spasming in protest of him moving so much as an inch.
"Seokjin baked enough honey bread to feed an army," Yoongi explains when Namjoon joins him and Jungkook in the kitchen, heart fluttering a little at the sight of the freshly baked goods laid across the table, "I was then given strict instructions to come and give you guys some. Said you both need some fattening up."
With his cheeks full, Jungkook smiles, bowing in gratitude to Yoongi who's quick to shush him with a humble wave.
Namjoon helps himself to some, hand resting on Jungkook's shoulder as he leans over him to fetch it. His hand doesn't move once he's risen, and he shifts his gaze to Yoongi who's got this expression on his face, one that can only be described as when a scientist is in the middle of solving a rather difficult equation. Yoongi quirks his head towards him, his eyebrows rising towards his hairline as a way to question what's on his mind.
That look stays plastered on Yoongi's face all evening, his feline-like eyes always looking like they're analysing Namjoon's every move, and when Jungkook's wandered off to participate in a game of scrabble with Sungki, Yoongi keeps his eyes fixed on his emptying beer can, lips pursed like he's either tasted something sour, or he's deep in thought.
Namjoon finishes off the last of his beer, eyes watching Yoongi over the rim of his can. He gives a satisfied sigh when he polishes it off, and when he scoots forward in his chair, elbows leaning on his knees, he cuts off whatever it was that Yoongi was about to come out with.
"You've got something to say."
Yoongi blinks at him, faking his surprise, "Do I?"
"Don't think I haven't noticed you eyeing me all evening."
Yoongi shrugs, aiming for nonchalance as he clasps his hands in his lap, "You seem different. That's all."
"There's nothing different about me. I've still got the same haircut, same clothes, same manners I had since before I left for the cabin."
"Who said this has anything to do with the cabin?"
"You're insinuating that my few days away have changed me somehow. Don't be ridiculous, Yoongi. It was four days. I'm still me."
"There's no need to get defensive. I've just noticed how perky you are."
"What does that even mean?" Namjoon bites, irritation rising at a rapid rate.
He regrets the unexpected rise in his temper the second he sees Yoongi's vacant expression, his typically gentle eyes softening in a hurt way. Jungkook's laugh drifts in from down the hallway, Sungki's high-pitched squeal following it, and Yoongi looks towards the sound, neck craned to the side when he responds, flatly and without looking at Namjoon, "It means that I'm happy for you."
The words hit him like a tonne of bricks. He feels his heart come up into his throat, his mind emptying as he fruitlessly tries to process what Yoongi's trying to imply.
He clears his throat, eyes drifting to the hallway when he asks, quietly, "It's really that noticeable?"
He doesn't feel like he deserves the gentle smile Yoongi meets him with, the affection in his eyes when he responds, quietly, "It's written all over your face. Your body language, the way you've been holding yourself... You'd have to be blind to have not seen it."
Moments flash through his memories. From Starlite Lanes, from the cabin, images of Jungkook with Sungki, images of just Jungkook, and he flexes his fingers, exhaling shakily, levelling Yoongi's gaze, mouth opening to reply when Jungkook appears in the doorway in his lilac bowling shirt, his backpack slung over his shoulder.
He must sense the strange air, because he glances between Yoongi and Namjoon, the smile he had slowly disappearing. "'You guys alright?"
"Fine," Namjoon forces out through the hardest of smiles.
Yoongi's attempt is much better, "Never been better."
"Okay," Jungkook replies slowly, choosing not to pry, "I've gotta leave for work. Sungki's ready for bed once he finishes his puzzle."
He goes to leave, but not before heading towards Namjoon before he catches himself, and that sends coldness skittering across Namjoon's skin. The uncertainty, the hesitance before the ultimate resistance. He bids them both farewell, seemingly eager to get away from the aura that's circulating around the room, and Namjoon sinks back into his chair the second the front door slams shut.
Yoongi laughs, more in an uncomfortable, disbelieving way than in a joyous one. "Have you two not talked?"
"No," Namjoon mumbles, and he's fully aware of the petulance that's tainting his words, "I mean, we've talked. Just not about what happened."
The speed with which Yoongi flings himself forward is alarming. Namjoon didn't think he could even move that fast anymore. He's teetering on the edge of the sofa, so close to falling onto his ass when he asks, tone demanding, "What happened?"
Namjoon chews his lips, teeth working so hard he's close to drawing blood, and he heaves a dramatic sigh, hugging his legs in close to his body, "It's like we're thirteen again in your mother's basement divulging details about what went down when we each had our turn at seven minutes in heaven."
Yoongi's jaw drops, and Namjoon seizes up.
"You kissed him?"
"That's not what I said at all."
"That's what you're goddamn implying by citing your clumsy first kiss with Jieun in my basement."
"Okay," Namjoon snaps, rolling his tongue over his teeth before his eyes fall shut, and he admits, quietly, "I did, or at least, he did. I can't remember who initiated it."
Yoongi's moved onto the coffee table, knees close to Namjoon's as he regards him with eager, gleaming eyes.
"Fantastic. Give me the gory details. Put that PhD of yours to use. I want a vivid, lengthy description."
Namjoon pulls a face of disgust, and he crosses his arms, "It was... Nice."
Yoongi's enthusiasm quickly simmers out into dissatisfaction, and he rolls his eyes.
"So, you two... You're... ?" He makes a grotesque gesture with his hands, one that makes Namjoon want to dry heave.
Yoongi's bottom lip protrudes in thought, his hands rubbing together like how a fly's would, "You're not giving me much here."
"There's nothing to say."
"You haven't so much as blinked at anyone lustfully since Sungki was born. This is something big, Namjoon."
"You're acting like I've asked the guy for his hand in marriage."
"Whoa," Yoongi laughs, hands rising in a surrender-type gesture, "Hold your horses, lover-boy. That'll come eventually, I'm sure."
Namjoon's glad to see him go. Not because he's annoyed per se, just tired. It's not that he's ashamed of what transpired at the cabin, just lost. Totally out of his depth. Nothing has changed, and that's what has him confused. He doesn't know what he'd expected, but he can't deny that he'd expected to come home to a shift between them, a comfortble, normal shift, but instead there's been nothing. Everything's gone on as normal, and it's left him feeling like he'd dreamt their night beneath the stars.
When Sungki's asleep, when Namjoon's outside collecting firewood, his breath billowing from his mouth like smoke, he looks up at the sky, at the electrical wires that line the tops of the trees, at a bird walking precariously across the wire when he chucks the firewood back onto the ground, a resolve settling in him, a determination that has butterflies swooping and soaring around in his stomach.
When he opens the door to Taehyung, he's got one arm in his leather jacket, the other free as he buckles up his belt.
"You haven't asked me to babysit since the rice krispies debacle."
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Namjoon explains, yanking Taehyung inside before muttering, "I still don't understand how someone can set a tea towel on fire whilst making unbaked goods."
Taehyung sets himself up at Namjoon's desk, glasses propped on his nose as he arranges his students' assignments, cracking his knuckles as he watches Namjoon tend to his unruly mop. He combs it umpteen times yet it refuses to be tamed, and Taehyung rolls his eyes before he stands, grabbing the comb out of Namjoon's hand so he can try and tame his locks.
"What's come up last minute, then? It's not like you to step foot outside during twilight hours."
Namjoon tries to play it off, tries to act nonchalant and smooth but instead he comes off as far too much of a try-hard.
"Maybe I just wanted to go out and let loose? Ever think of that? I work so hard and rarely ever play. Tonight, I've decided to play."
Taehyung's face contorts, lips tightening in an attempt to contain his mocking laughter, "Just don't play too hard."
Starlite Lanes' neon sign seems all the more jarring at night time, the unlit letters not even visible in the darkness, giving a real respectable look to the place. When he rushes inside, the vibe's also different. There's no kids, just middle-aged people with a smattering of teenagers on the outskirts of adulthood gathered around the pool table paying more attention to their dates than to the game at hand.
There's no-one behind reception, and Namjoon waits, foot tapping impatiently on the grimy tiled floors before a worker surfaces.
"Welcome to Starlite Lanes, where fun is had and worries forgotten. How may I help you, tonight?"
"I'd like to book a lane," Namjoon flings down his cash, palms braced on the desk as he watches the worker take it with disinterest.
"Is it just you, sir?" he asks, his blatant attempt to mask his judgment failing in his tone.
"For now," Namjoon explains through an insincere smile, "Someone might be joining me later."
The sight of him alone on the furthest lane in the alley is more pathetic than he'd anticipated it being. His focus isn't in the game, though he pretends he's concentrating hard on perfecting his skills; holding the ball up to his face, staring over it before he propels it forward, only for a single pin to fall down upon reaching its target. He's sitting down, trying to make himself look busy by polishing his neon lime green ball when a woman saunters over, cigarette with ash gathered on its end clutched between her long, red-nail covered fingertips.
He shrinks down into his seat but still manages to offer her a polite smile.
After taking a long drag, she asks, in a raspy, grating voice, "Come here often, handsome?"
Namjoon laughs awkwardly, fingers coming up to scratch the nape of his neck. "I've been here with my son a few times."
Her mouths pops open in shock, "You're a father? You look like you're just a day in the world."
He looks up at the screen, at his abysmal scores, and he hugs his ball to his chest, shyly muttering his thanks.
She doesn't relent, if anything, seems more intrigued by him after learning he's a parent, and she bats her eyes at him, mewling, "Seems like an awful shame for someone with a face like yours to be spending their Friday night alone."
After his admirer takes the smallest of steps forward, Namjoon's eyes widen in horror. He shoves his ball onto the empty seat next to him, scrambling to hold it in place when it almost careens off of the seat, and then, as coolly as he can manage, he explains, "I've actually already got a date."
Her demeanour shifts faster than a rocket, and a sullen frown pulls her eyebrows together, "Oh."
"Is everything okay over here?"
Namjoon's heart stops, and it does something weird, almost like electrical waves just got shot into it by an invisible, tiny paramedic, and when he turns, his heart still sparking like a severed electrical wire, he finds Jungkook looking at his admirer with his best customer service smile plastered on his face. She looks Jungkook up and down, like she's found some new meat, and Jungkook laughs when she blows a kiss his way, which he doesn't catch.
"Lucky me, meeting two handsome fellas like the two of you tonight," she giggles, seeming more into Jungkook than Namjoon, now. As much as he won't admit it, Namjoon feels ever so slightly put down by her drastic shift in attention to Jungkook.
He knows it's just Jungkook's job—the charm, the politeness, the harmless flirting, he's getting paid for doing it all, yet that notion doesn't prevent that knot-like feeling from settling itself heavily in the pit of Namjoon's stomach. After escorting the lady away after she'd had the nerve to hook her arm around his, Jungkook returns, making a face at Namjoon that resembles mild disgust.
"Thanks for saving me," he pauses, squinting his eyes, making it obvious that he's trying to read Jungkook's name badge, "Jungkook."
Jungkook flings the cloth that was slung over his shoulder at Namjoon's face before rolling his eyes, "Aren't you funny."
Collecting the cloth from where its fallen on the floor, Namjoon flings it back at Jungkook's chest, "I like to think that I am."
"What are you doing here?" he asks, glancing behind himself, checking to see if his manager is skulking around somewhere.
Namjoon shrugs, arms coming up to rest across the two empty chairs beside him, "Fancied a good 'ol lonely game of bowling."
"Oh? Shall I leave you to it, then?" he begins walking backwards, a shit-eating smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth when Namjoon clicks his tongue loudly.
"Please don't," Namjoon begs, so close to dropping onto his knees and grovelling, "That woman might come back."
Jungkook looks around in search of her before he curses beneath his breath when he locks eyes with his colleague who gives him a disapproving look.
He comes closer to Namjoon, pretending that he's fixing the balls in the rack when he whispers, "I'm closing tonight, so if you wanna hang around a bit longer..."
"You'll what? Show me the ins and outs of this place?"
Jungkook suppresses his scoff, "If you want me to, then yeah. Or we could just, y'know, hang out."
He purposefully gapes at Jungkook, trying to seem scandalised by his suggestion before he clears his throat, tone more serious.
"Jungkook. I'd like to file a complaint."
Jungkook turns to look at him, momentary confusion on his brow before a smile grows on his lips. He smoothly shifts to his customer service voice.
"Of course, sir. We're terribly sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused you today."
Namjoon purses his lips, arms folding whilst he ignores the reddening of his ears, "One of your employees... It seems like he's propositioned me a date in this very bowling alley. After hours. Can you believe the scandal of it all?"
Jungkook gives Sungki a run for his money with his acting skills. He fixes Namjoon with a disgusted grimace, his hand resting on his heart when he promises, with utmost seriousness, "That's extremely inappropriate, sir. I'll be sure to have a stern word with him."
"Before you do," Namjoon starts before realising where he's taking things, and he balks before he finds his courage, crowded somewhere in the back of his mind with his awkwardness, "Could you let him know that I'd definitely be up for a date? Y'know, away from this godforsaken place."
The way Jungkook's expression shifts makes Namjoon's core want to burst open and spill forth from it sunshine, and he challenges himself, really challenges himself by keeping his eyes trained on Jungkook, on the way he ducks his head in an attempt to hide his flush, and the way he scratches at his nose to try and hide his flattered smile. It takes him a moment to compose himself, and when he finally does, gone is the theatrics and the goofing around. Instead, there's a gentle, docile glimmer in his eye.
"I'll let him know," he promises under a small smile.
When the last customer leaves a whole ten minutes after closing time, Jungkook flicks the 'Open,' sign on the door to, 'Closed,' before telling his coworker that he can leave early, that there's not much housekeeping to be done, and Namjoon doesn't miss the way he looks at Jungkook, his eyebrows upturned in a telling way.
Pulling some coins from his pocket, Jungkook wiggles his brows at Namjoon when he slots them into a claw machine, ignoring Namjoon's grumbling about how it's a scam. His focus is rapt on a small stuffed baby blue tiger, tongue poking out from his lips in concentration when the claw descends on the teddy, grasping at it and lifting, but the tiger falls. He kicks at the machine, cursing up a storm, whining that if a five-year old can manage to win something, then he can.
"It's no use," Namjoon says, trying to pry Jungkook away from the money-grabbing machine only for him to get shoved away.
He's on his last coins, and he's hunched over the toggle, guiding the claw down towards its target. It doesn't release the tiger this time, and once it gets dropped into the opening, falling down into the collection department of the machine, Jungkook fist bumps the air, scornfully laughing as he presents the tiger to Namjoon with pride. "Congratulations," Namjoon drawls, tone dripping with boredom, "You surrendered to capitalism and got a stuffed tiger in return."
Jungkook's euphoria takes a dip, and he pouts at Namjoon, hugging the tiger close, "It was worth it."
Namjoon sits himself down behind reception, legs coming up to rest on the the table as he watches Jungkook disappear into a storage closet before surfacing with a broom in hand. He switches on the large stereo near the window, a smile splitting his cheeks when he fiddles with the lighting, switching out the migraine-inducing fluorescent lights for purple, pink and blue neon lights that flank the lanes.
He starts sweeping, and Namjoon rests his chin on his hand as he watches him dutifully get to work. The song changes and Jungkook's attention gets snapped towards Namjoon. He jabs his finger in his direction, instructing him with enthusiasm to turn the music up.
Namjoon does as he's told, and he steps out from behind the desk, a laugh bursting from him when Jungkook begins snapping his fingers along to the song, shoulders shimmying along to the beat in a flamboyant manner. The broom gets roped into his routine, periodically acting as both his microphone and bass guitar.
Namjoon covers his mouth to suppress his fond giggles, keeling over when Jungkook begins crooning into the end of the broom, moving his hips seductively and with ease to the thrumming beat. The makeshift microphone becomes his guitar again, and he viciously begins head-banging, fingers expertly strumming invisible strings. The song mellows out at the bridge, and Jungkook takes that as an opportunity to advance on Namjoon. He grabs his hand, dragging him over towards the lane, their faces becoming illuminated by pinks, purples, and blues.
The flooring is slippery, and Jungkook uses it to his advantage when he executes a rather impressive rendition of the moonwalk whilst Namjoon shyly bops along to the song, uncommon shyness preventing him from throwing himself into it like Jungkook. When the song ends, Jungkook's left breathless, drawing gasping breaths into his lungs as he lets the broom fall with a loud clack to the floor. "That felt like a forty-five minute workout," he pants, suddenly groaning when a new song begins playing. He swipes sweat from his forehead, whining, "I don't have the energy to perform again."
"Do you think pop heartthrobs tap out mid-set?" Namjoon teases, peeling Jungkook off of the floor from where he'd collapsed into an exhausted heap, "Your fans are awaiting you. Dance your socks off."
"My fan isn't singing along or jamming out with me," he points out, pouting when Namjoon guiltily avoids eye contact.
Namjoon's eyes roll towards heaven, and he quietens Jungkook's complaints when he takes him by the waist, tugging him towards him.
They stand close like how teenage sweethearts would at a school dance, a hypothetical magazine struggling to squeeze between their chests when Namjoon's lips brush Jungkook's ear, Jungkook's gel-hard hair tickling his nose when he gently invites, voice dipping low, "Dance with me."
They move slow, like time's ceased to exist around them, like they've entered an alternate reality where it's just them, just their breaths, just their touch.
Jungkook's head rests on Jungkook's shoulder, his hands splayed across his shoulder blades as he lets Namjoon guide their movements, which aren't anything fancy, just swaying from side to side. The song turns to white noise when his attention zones in on Jungkook instead, on the feel of his quiet heartbeat against his chest, the smell of cigarette smoke clinging to his hair from the alley's attendees, that signature sweet, hypnotising sweetness of sweet pea hidden beneath the smells he's collected over the day.
When Jungkook's shoulders round in against Namjoon, a long-suffering sigh slipping from him, Namjoon lifts his hand to stroke the back of his head, his gelled hair refusing to move a muscle. Jungkook's hands trail downwards, curving down against Namjoon's back until they stop at the waistband of Namjoon's jeans. He hugs him, tightly, like he fears Namjoon will somehow disappear, like the gesture is a way for him to make sure that he's there, that he's right there beneath his touch.
"I feel like I'm clutching thin air," Jungkook mumbles against Namjoon's chest, a sad tinge to his voice.
Namjoon's response is to frown, "I'm right here. You've got me, baby."
The shiver that shoots through Jungkook is felt beneath Namjoon's fingertips, a soft inhalation audible even from where Jungkook's mouth is muffled by his chest.
"I don't feel like I do," he laments, eyes finding Namjoon's, irises reflecting the pink hue that filters through the alley. Namjoon tries to console him by pulling him close, enveloping him in his warmth, but Jungkook squirms free, eyes suddenly shifting, his irises now reflecting blue, his countenance worryingly lax. "What is this?" he asks suddenly, and Namjoon treads carefully, is about to play dumb when Jungkook intervenes, words tumbling from his mouth like water spitting from a spout, "Ever since that night, you've done nothing to suggest that you even recall what happened."
"Jungkook," Namjoon tries tirelessly, eyes closing in a futile attempt to block out Jungkook's probing.
"I'm lost. I don't know if I'm allowed to even look at you. I'm scared that if I do, that you'll cower away from me like a misbehaving pup."
His hand rests on the slope of Jungkook's cheekbone, eyes soft and apologetic. A furrow forms between his brow, and he plucks Jungkook's glasses from his eyes, tucking them into his pocket when Jungkook blinks at him incredulously, a silent question on his face.
"I haven't got an answer to your question. I don't know what this is. It's something new, something bright and effervescent, and I haven't been navigating it well. Just know that I do remember what happened that night. It's on repeat in my mind, like a film that I wasn't aware I'd starred in."
"You starred in it alright," Jungkook teases, nudging him in the side with his elbow, "I was a mediocre co-star, but I gave it my best."
Namjoon clicks his tongue loudly, body angling away from Jungkook who continues to prod and tickle at him, giggling sweetly when Namjoon begs him to stop.
"What say we get out of here?" Namjoon suggests, tucking Jungkook beneath his wing, leaning in close to breathe him in, eyes fluttering closed when comfort swarms his senses.
Jungkook leans into him, humming as he surveys the alley, "I didn't do much cleaning after the ghost of Elvis possessed me."
"Elvis," Namjoon repeats through a laugh, eyebrows upturned when he murmurs, "Someone's being generous."
Jungkook bumps him away by the hip, determination carrying him over to where the forgotten broom lays on a lane.
There's not many places open, and they cruise around the small town, allowing the relative silence to speak between them. A diner that looks like it's been around even before the 1950s seems like their best bet, and it's just them in the joint and a rather bored-looking waitress who takes their orders in a tired, monotone voice, frowning in exhaustive judgment at the stuffed tiger that Jungkook's seated beside him. Namjoon opts for some black, tongue-burning coffee whilst Jungkook sips gingerly at a strawberry milkshake that gives him a foamy pink moustache.
"Do you like me?" Jungkook asks, a tinge of apprehension to his tone as he stirs away the bubbles in his milkshake.
Nursing his coffee, Namjoon hisses when it scalds him again. His elbows lean on the table, face in his hands with the smallest of smiles splitting his cheeks.
"You're alright," Namjoon drawls, yelping when Jungkook gently kicks at his shin.
Evidently pleased with himself, a smug look forms on Jungkook's face when he replies equally as coy as Namjoon had, "You're not too bad yourself."
It's close to closing, what with midnight ominously nearing, a light drizzle beginning to trickle from the heavens, and the waitress stands by the kitchen window, serving Namjoon a deathly glare which prompts him to toss some money onto their bill, leaving a little extra for the hostile waitress. "I'm not finished my milkshake," Jungkook complains when Namjoon stands, throwing on his leather jacket, body shivering when he glances out at the rain.
"Down it," Namjoon instructs, "If we stay any longer, I'm afraid we could face getting chucked out by our collars."
Jungkook guzzles it down but not without whining, and they stand in the doorway of the diner, braving themselves for the weather. Jungkook's in his tattered denim jacket and bowling shirt, an outfit that doesn't provide much protection against the elements, and when Namjoon goes to hand Jungkook his jacket, Jungkook vehemently shakes his head, refusing the protection.
"Come here then," Namjoon grumbles, lifting it for Jungkook to bend under, holding the stuffed tiger close to him in protection.
The minute the door opens it's a like a flood outside, wind hurling the rain in their faces as they shriek and splash through puddles, Jungkook giggling endlessly when Namjoon steps in one that was much deeper than it looked. A burst of light ignites the sky, and they both jolt, Jungkook squeaking when Namjoon pulls him in close. They don't make it far and decide to seek shelter beneath a smoking shelter, their teeth-chattering and clothes sopping.
Another crack of lightning illuminates Jungkook's face for a split second, and his wide eyes blink up in wonder at the flash.
Droplets of rain water drip from the pieces of hair that hang in Jungkook's eyes, and he shakes like a wet dog, sending water flying in Namjoon's direction. Their chests heave from their ordeal, and Jungkook's leaning against the wall, neck craned towards the roof when Namjoon allows himself a moment to take in the sight of him. Boyish innocence shines from Jungkook, his looks leading many to think that he's not yet hit twenty, and Namjoon wonders how he sees him.
Is he just some goofy professor who can't tell his left foot from his right, or some guy in his late twenties that yearns for the return of his youth? He tries to view himself as an outsider looking in, and he can't wrap his head around what it is about him that Jungkook seems so endeared by. When Jungkook turns to him, his smile falters slightly, his head tilting to the side in observation, "What's got you thinking so hard, hm?"
Namjoon's leaning against the wall in a state that should be uncomfortable, yet he feels light, like his worries were fought by Jungkook who confronted them, told them to leave him alone.
His foot drops from the wall, and he stands, arms hanging by his sides when he quietly says, like he's sharing a secret he's kept close to his heart for an age, "You."
One corner of Jungkook's lips pulls upwards, and he bows his head, attempting to hide his bashful smile.
He meets Namjoon with gentle eyes, thumbs digging into his pockets as he rocks on his feet. "Had any revelations?"
Namjoon's lips purse in thought, and he reaches out, looping his finger through the loop on Jungkook's trousers. He pulls him slowly towards him, teeth showing when his hands wrap around Jungkook's waist. "I wouldn't call them revelations, per se," he trails off, glancing beyond Jungkook's shoulder to the pitter patter of raindrops falling into a large puddle, "Actually, I've thought this since soon after I first met you."
Jungkook bumps his head on Namjoon's chin, a slow sigh leaving him when he husks, "Thought what?"
"That you're beautiful," Namjoon answers in a breathy tone, "That you're like the first-rain in Spring, giving life to the frostbitten, budding daffodils and bluebells."
His arms encircle Namjoon's body, a shivering breath leaving him as their damp, clothed bodies press close.
"Your sincerity, your entire being is something that fills me with a yearning, imbues me with an affection that I've never felt before."
"You're really putting that PhD of yours to use," Jungkook teases, squeaking when Namjoon jabs his fingers into his ribs, tickling his armpits. He tries to fight Namjoon off, channeling all of his strength into blocking his invading fingers, and he eventually clasps his fist around them, levelling Namjoon with fiery eyes. His resolve is slowly crumbling, and another kind of determination is building itself up in Namjoon's core, rearing its head, become so strong that Namjoon can't quell the feeling any longer.
He gains control, swinging Jungkook around, his back hitting the cold concrete wall, eyes widening in surprise when Namjoon cages him in, his palms braced on the wall by Jungkook's head. They do nothing but blink at one another for a moment, plumes of their frozen breath intermingling as they silently dare the other to act.
"I want you," Jungkook rasps, finding courage that Namjoon has yet to, his palms running from Namjoon's chest to his abdomen, where Namjoon's stomach muscles shift, right hand bunching into a fist as he buries his face into the crook of Jungkook's neck, muffling his torn, longing groan against his skin. Jungkook pulls at a fistful of hair on the back of Namjoon's head, pulling backwards, exposing his neck which he noses against, lips pressing onto his Adam's apple, not kissing, just resting there, "Containing myself has been impossible."
He begins sliding down the wall, hold tight on Namjoon as this all-encompassing lust takes him, tells him to do what it is he's wanted to for so long, and Namjoon supports him by his armpits, tone so low and gravelly when he says in a near-growl, "I'm tired of denying myself of you. If I reject you any longer, I fear my heart might simply burst right out of my chest."
"Take me, then," Jungkook encourages eagerly, voice leaning towards a moan, "Please, please take me."
Their lips meet with hunger, with relief and a dizzying desire that brings with it fire over Namjoon's skin. In spite of his damp clothes, he feels like he's burning up, like he'll alight and fall to ashes outside the dingy diner where the grumpy waitress will be gifted with the luck of finding his remains.
Jungkook's lips are rain-slick and desperate in their ministrations. He bites, licks, mouths along Namjoon's jaw before returning to his lips, a whine falling from him when he hooks one leg around Namjoon who hoists him up further onto the wall, his palms on Jungkook's ass to keep him stable. A low growl rumbles from deep within Namjoon's gut when he feels the telling hardness against his lower abdomen, the subtle yet very prevalent movement of Jungkook's hips against him.
The aggressive lust in the kiss overwhelms him, and he hisses when Jungkook nips his lower lip, pulling at it before he licks up the drawn blood with his tongue, mumbling a breathless, "Sorry," before dipping his tongue back into Namjoon's mouth. When his biceps get sore and his lips feel like they've been through a war, Namjoon gently drops Jungkook onto the ground, stepping away from him, stifling a laugh when takes in Jungkook's state.
There's a glassy, far-away look in his eyes, like he's up in the rainclouds instead of with him. His wet hair has no style to it whatsoever anymore, and his lips are cherry-bitten and swollen. Crossing his hands over himself, Namjoon notices his flushed cheeks, his inability to meet Namjoon's loving stare, and he adjusts himself subtly, fiddling with his belt before he can muster the courage to find Namjoon's eyes in the dim light.
"Kinda got carried away with ourselves," Jungkook half-laughs, hugging himself, visibly shaking.
He can see the cogs working in Jungkook's brain through the uncertainty in his eyes. He thinks they should assume their roles like they had after the night at the cabin, but Namjoon finds that he's defiant, perhaps even frustrated with how he's instilled this thought in Jungkook. His finger rests below Jungkook's chin, drawing his gaze to him, "There was nothing wrong about what just happened. Please know that."
"It's not wrong," Jungkook agrees, though his tone suggests otherwise, "It's careless. This was never about what other people think."
"Of course it wasn't."
Jungkook waits, and he holds Namjoon's eye, tone quiet when he shares, "Except for one person."
Namjoon deflates, like a bright red balloon that was attacked by a needle.
"There's no need to tell him yet," Namjoon replies flatly, a warning hidden in his words.
"Not anytime soon," Jungkook agrees, hooking his arm into the crook of Namjoon's elbows, "I'll wait until you're ready."
"What do I tell him?" Namjoon asks in a panic, standing close to where the roof of the smoking shelter ends, gazing out at the thundering rain.
"Whatever you want to tell him," Jungkook whispers, leaving a soft kiss to Namjoon's cheek before his arm leaves Namjoon's, taking one step forward and into the pouring rain.
Namjoon tries to drag him back to him without leaving the shelter, mouth aghast as he watches Jungkook outstretch his arms, the sky sparking, a loud crack echoing in the air as their surroundings light up. Rain falls onto Jungkook's face, his eyes closed and lips pulled into a contented smile. Namjoon wraps his damp jacket around himself, voice cracking when he yells, "What the hell are you doing?"
Jungkook's eyes don't open when he replies, like it's the most casual thing in the world, "Welcoming the rain."
When they creep in well after 2am, Namjoon cringes when the floorboards creak beneath his feet, betraying him. He finds Taehyung passed out on the sofa, a copy of 'A Light in the Attic,' with various different coloured post-it notes sticking out of it resting on his chest. Jungkook regards him fondly before he turns to Namjoon, who opens his mouth to speak but is stopped by the finger that Jungkook presses to his lips.
They sleep like the dead, Jungkook in an old pair of Namjoon's pyjamas after he'd chucked his sodden uniform into the laundry, and their bodies are cold, so cold that not even when their limbs are entangled and their hot breaths fan over each other's skin do they warm up.
Taehyung's awake when Namjoon wobbles into the kitchen, bleary eyes struggling to open in the morning's blinding light. He welcomes Namjoon enthusiastically, patting him on the back before handing him the spatula, instructing him to flip a cooking pancake. "Where'd you go last night?" Taehyung asks, holding his mug of coffee close to his chest after he'd assured Namjoon ten times over that after Sungki had awoken from a nightmare the previous night that he'd gone back to sleep with little issue.
He doesn't have the energy to withhold information, and so grumbles, "The bowling alley."
He can't see Taehyung, is instead focused intently on the currently-burning pancake, but can feel his eyes boring into the back of his skull.
Taehyung mutters a simple, suppressed, "Oh," before falling silent. Namjoon flips the blackened pancake, hissing when he accepts that it's a goner and so flings it into the trashcan. "Are you gonna tell me why you went there?"
Like he sensed he was summoned, Jungkook wanders in, hair frizzy and askew from last night's rain. He stills in the doorway upon seeing Taehyung, hands coming up slowly to cover himself. Namjoon tries not to gape and is acutely aware of Taehyung watching him instead of Jungkook, no doubt trying to gauge his reaction to Jungkook parading around his home shirtless.
"Sorry," Jungkook offers timidly, forcing himself further into the room to retrieve some orange juice from the fridge, "I think my clothes should be done in the dryer by now. Taehyung drags his eyes from Namjoon to study Jungkook, who takes a long swig from the carton, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand before he points towards the mound of pancakes Taehyung's made. "May I have one?"
Taehyung quickly nods, giving him a wave of his hand as invitation, and Namjoon steps aside to let Jungkook douse his pancake in lemon and sugar.
He taps his hands against his thighs, blowing out his cheeks to distract himself from the awkwardness swirling in the air when he finds Taehyung looking at him again, mouthing silent words to him that Namjoon just about understands. "What happened last night?"
He answers silently, lips forming his words dramatically, "Nothing happened."
"This doesn't look like nothing happened."
"Is Sungki awake?" Jungkook turns, pausing when both Taehyung and Namjoon quickly look away from one another, Taehyung deciding to distract himself by getting tremendously wrapped up in a riveting article in the newspaper spread out on the table. His cheeks look like that of a feasting chipmunk when he frowns between them, throwing a lost look towards Namjoon who gives an awkward shrug of his shoulders.
His eyes fall to Jungkook's chest, resting there not because he's ogling him but because he's spacing out, his thoughts drawing him into himself.
Jungkook snaps his fingers towards him, a coy smirk on his lips when he chastises him, "Eyes up here, tiger."
He doesn't draw them away, instead his gaze drops to his own pyjamas sitting low on Jungkook's hips, and unconsciously, his tongue swipes across his lower lip before he collects himself, eyes wide as he glances toward Taehyung who blinks blankly at him. He stands, tucking the newspaper beneath his armpit as he takes himself and his half-consumed coffee into the living room, calling, "I'm not even gonna ask."
"Can you put something on?" Namjoon asks Jungkook, hand on his hip whilst the other rubs at his forehead.
Jungkook pouts, "Why? Not liking what you see?"
Namjoon's gaze softens, and he sighs before he assures, softly, "You know I do."
He removes his tattered jumper that classifies as an heirloom from his college days, chucking it at Jungkook who flinches.
"Put this on," he instructs, hugging himself when the chill of the morning bites at him in his undershirt, "I'll find something else to wear."
When he returns, Sungki's sitting at the kitchen table bewildered with sleep with his legs swinging as he shovels a chocolate-covered pancake into his mouth. Jungkook's deep in conversation with him, telling him all about last night's victory against the claw machine. "Morning, monkey," Namjoon greets him, bending to kiss the crown of his head, smiling contentedly when Sungki tugs him back to him when he pulls away, wrapping his small arms around Namjoon's shoulders.
"Jungkook said he's going to plant the roses with me today," Sungki shares, excitement clearing his bright anticipatory eyes.
Namjoon frowns, "In the middle of winter? They won't last 'til Spring."
"Have some faith," Jungkook strikes back, "With the right love and care, they'll be able to brave the frost."
He smiles at Jungkook, gaze flitting to Sungki who nods in agreement with Jungkook. "Snugs can help, too!"
Something dawns on Jungkook, his index finger rising into the air, gesturing for Sungki to wait when he hurries into the living room, returning with his hands behind his back, throwing Namjoon a furtive look who cocks his head to the side. "Speaking of Snugs," Jungkook begins, crouching down to Sungki's level, "I've got something for him."
Sungki's face lights up, body angling towards Jungkook who pulls from behind his back the stuffed tiger that was saved from the claw machine.
Sungki grabs him from Jungkook's hold, hugging him tightly after Namjoon had gently scolded him for snatching him from Jungkook.
"I love him!" Sungki exclaims, pausing to admire the tiger before he throws himself at Jungkook, who laughs and hugs Sungki back tightly. "Thank you, Jungkook."
"You're welcome, champ," Jungkook replies, ducking his head when Namjoon realises his cheeks are reddening. "What are you gonna name him?"
Sungki stares at the tiger, deep in thought before he announces, "Pip. His name's Pip, and he's gonna be Snugs' best friend forever."
Jungkook ruffles his hair fondly, gushing, "You're such a cutie."
He hugs Jungkook again, and with his mouth muffled against Namjoon's jumper, murmurs, "I love you, Jungkook."
Namjoon freezes, smile faltering, much like Jungkook's. He watches Jungkook's carefully guarded expression, the attempt at hiding how deeply moved he is failing when he takes hold of Sungki's small hand, a sparkle in his eye and a look of affection on his face when he replies, gently, "I love you too, Sungki."
Sungki runs off to change into his outerwear, yelling down the hallway when Namjoon tells him to put on his wellington boots.
Jungkook stands in the kitchen, seeming like he doesn't quite know what to do with myself, and Namjoon studies him, noticing the way he seems as if he's mulling over something. He claps his hands together, snapping himself out of his reverie when he walks over to Namjoon, rising onto his tip-toes to press a featherlight kiss to his cheek. "I'm gonna go get ready," he informs, squeezing Namjoon's bicep, his touch lingering even as he walks away, and Namjoon lets him go, thoughts he so desperately wants to put into words failing him.
Once they're out in the garden, Namjoon returns to Taehyung who's absorbed in his book, that is until Namjoon sits down beside him, sighing heavily.
"I don't need to be a mother hen, I know," he begins tentatively, eyes fixed on the floor, "I just hope that this all works out well for you. For the both of you."
"So do I," Namjoon laughs, something forced and laced with apprehension, "It's become something that I can't passively let happen anymore."
Taehyung closes his book, ensuring that all of his attention is on Namjoon, "Explain."
He meets Taehyung's eyes instantaneously, unafraid of the desperate longing in his tone when he gushes, "I need him. I need him so goddamn bad."
"Ask him to be yours, you loveable fool," Taehyung urges, shaking Namjoon in an attempt to expel his own excitement, the cupid he is.
"What about Sungki?" Namjoon questions it in a torn, self-conscious tone, his body slowly going still once Taehyung halts the enthusiastic shaking.
"What about him? He adores Jungkook. I've never seen the kid warm to someone with such swiftness. Hell, I've known him since he was born and he still acts shy around me. He's not like that with Jungkook. Jungkook's tapped into a side of Sungki that yearns for more parental love, and Jungkook gives him that and more."
"I don't want to tell him that we're together and then in a year or however long have to rip Jungkook away from him," Namjoon sulks.
Taehyung dips away from him, taken aback by Namjoon's unwavering negative mindset, "That's a tad morbid, don't you think?"
"Worrying about Sungki warming to the idea of Jungkook becoming his step-father and then us possibly breaking up in the future is morbid? No, it's called having foresight. It's called protecting him. That kid's been through so much in his short life, I can't be the source of more heartbreak for him."
He's aware of the shrillness in his tone, the lack of composure, yet he can't quell it, and Taehyung hums.
"You need to stop blaming yourself for his mother's absence," he says softly, with utmost compassion, "Your absence during his infancy was paramount. You went to college to become someone incredibly successful for him. It had to be done, and now look at him. He's a flourishing little boy who can speak three languages and is on his way to becoming fluent in a forth. He's two years ahead of all of his classmates and can play a snippet of Rosary Sonatas on his violin better than Vivaldi himself. He's so bright, Joon. He's not that same frightened two year old who spent his nights weeping over his missing mother. He's grown. The world isn't as scary to him as it once was."
"It's gotten scarier to me," Namjoon mumbles, twiddling his thumbs.
"I'm not gonna hound you. Just know that if you want what the two of you have to blossom with ease, you need to tell Sungki."
"I will," Namjoon assures half-heartedly, nervous butterflies already slamming at his ribcage, "After Christmas, I'll tell him."
1st December, 1988.
"Can't you bump my B up to an A, Professor Kim?"
He's trying to look busy, scribbling down nonsensical sentences onto his ruled notepad as one of his students desperately tries to sway him, but he's immovable. Steepling his fingers beneath his chin, Namjoon pretends that he's deep in thought, narrowing his eyes like he's considering the student's proposition.
"Professor," she whines, thick glasses magnifying her pleading eyes.
"Your essay was impeccable. But, you failed to delve deep into the stylistic techniques in Hopkins' poems, of which there are many. If anything, I was lenient with your grade. If you ask me again, I will not hesitate for one second to bump you down to a B-."
She leaves in a huff, though she tries to keep her animosity for him subtle until the door closes and he hears a spiteful hiss. "Stupid bastard."
The English department's notorious Christmas tree gets erected that evening, and Namjoon's lips pull downwards in disgust as he and his colleagues gaze up at it in all of its ugliness. They're all convinced it's from the 1940s, what with cobwebs hidden in its plastic branches and the stench of rat piss that radiates off of it that gets particularly potent when the thermostat's on high. The built-in fairy lights stopped working the year Namjoon started there, and in their stead is a rather sad-looking set of multicoloured ones.
He gets asked again and again if he's coming to the staff party, and he tells each person that he's not sure, that he's got plans, that his third years have ensured that his Christmas is going to be spent breaking his wrist correcting their analyses of their poets of choice. Some don't care if he's there or not whilst others pull something close to a pout upon learning he might not be able to make it this year.
He drives Taehyung home, half-listening to the drivel that comes out of his mouth before he finally arrives home, greeting Yoongi before putting a smile on his face when he bends to press a kiss to each of the girls' cheeks, saving a sloppy one for Sungki who squeals. They scurry off to resume playing their imaginary game of Princes and Princesses when Namjoon falls into his armchair, emitting a long-suffering sigh.
"You're late," Yoongi points out, like Namjoon hadn't been cooped up in his office staring at the ticking hands of the clock for the past two hours.
"Captain Obvious, where oh where would I be without you?" he drawls, tone thick with sarcasm which Yoongi narrows his eyes at.
"Barely breathing," Yoongi bites, standing to stretch his legs, evidently rearing to grab his daughters and make a run for it. He's got Yungmi in one hand and Myungok in the other when he stops in front of Namjoon, informing him, "Jungkook called to say that he's home."
Namjoon immediately livens up, face shifting so dramatically that Yoongi rolls his eyes, "Did he say if he's gonna call over?"
"What am I? A messenger pigeon?" Yoongi shakes his daughters' hands, whispering loudly down to them, "Uncle Namjoon thinks Daddy's a pigeon, girls."
"Joonie!" Yungmi exclaims, wagging her finger at Namjoon, "Our Daddy is not a pigeon."
Yoongi stands there grinning, puffing his cheeks to trap his laughter. "Dad says Daddy's like a snail, not a pigeon," Myungok shares, much to Yoongi's chagrin.
"Yeah, well I'd like to see how fast Dad could move after having a car crush his body," Yoongi gripes.
"Even when Dad broke his leg he was still able to play dress-up with us," Myungok reminisces, causing Yoongi's lower teeth to jut out in frustration.
"Time to go!" Yoongi announces tersely, heading for the door with the girls. The hinges creak, and when it's about to slam shut, Yoongi shouts into the house, "Call him. He gave me a number to jot down. It's on the kitchen table."
The door shuts and Namjoon springs to his feet, limbs not keeping up with his brain as he trips over a footstool, ears pricking up when he hears Sungki's tell-tale noises drifting from down the hallway, suggesting to Namjoon that he's in the middle of a very deep conversation with Pip and Snugs.
The phone cord manages to wrap itself around Namjoon's neck when he punches in the number, the ringing tone sounding like it's never-ending before it abruptly stops. A familiar, comforting voice answers, "Hello?"
"Joon," his tone rises, and Namjoon imagines his face lighting up, a smile coming to his face at the thought, "How've you been?"
"Good," Namjoon answers, clutching the phone to his ear with his two hands, head leaning against the wall, "I've been good. You?"
"Ah, y'know. I love Busan, but spending more than an hour with my parents involves me getting incessantly driven up the wall."
Namjoon nods, in some way understanding, but in others, not. "Sungki's missed you."
"I've missed him, too."
Namjoon scuffs his feet against the tiled floor thats pattern belongs in the 1960s. He takes pause for a moment, his mouth eager to move, memories eager to be shared, though there's not much to share. Next to nothing of interest has happened since Jungkook left two weeks ago. His eyes fall shut of their own accord, and he cradles the phone, like it's something delicate that might burst into smithereens should he speak wrongly into it. "I've missed you."
Jungkook's tone dips low, barely reaching a whisper, "And I, you. When can I see you?"
"God, right now. Please."
Jungkook titters through his teeth, sighing, "It's late. I don't want to be a nuisance."
"Pack an overnight bag, you goofball," Namjoon instructs sharply, adding, "You will never be a nuisance."
"Don't be so sure about that," Jungkook warns lightly, voice far-away as he leans from the speaker, "The more I'm over, the more money you're gonna be spending on OJ."
Namjoon's head tips back onto the wall, free arm folding over his chest, "I'm sure I can shift the weekly grocery budget around to accommodate your dietary needs."
"I'm also horrendously clingy in bed. I hog the blankets, I've got a reputation for being notoriously needy and if I'm not the little spoon when cuddling, forget it," Jungkook jokes, tone shifting from something innocent to something that opens Namjoon's mouth in awe, "I'm needy in other ways, too."
He has to force himself to swallow around his tongue that feels like lead, wincing when his voice cracks, "I'll have to carefully tend to that neediness of yours then, won't I?"
Jungkook speaks more slowly, more coyly when he replies, "You will, baby."
He hangs up shortly after, tearing his tie off of him and frantically popping open the buttons of his shirt before bracing his palms on the table, eyes staring unfocused down at it, thoughts whirring at a rate he can't keep up with. He downs a glass of water, some of it dribbling down his chin before he can compose himself and order Sungki to start getting ready for bed. He reads him, 'Miss. Rumphius,' biting back a smile when Sungki begins telling the story before he's even turned the page, and he's not even halfway through it when he glances down to find Sungki slumped against him, sleeping soundly.
He considers changing but decides he hasn't got the coordination for moving his limbs about and instead drinks another tall glass of water, grimacing when he feels that and his last one slosh around in his stomach. He stretches a bit, feeling his muscles scream at him, his shoulders begging him not to ask too much of them when he stretches out to the side. He's in the middle of trying to touch his toes when there's a light rapping on the door.
He answers it faster than he's ever answered it, and it takes him incredible levels of self-control to not scoop Jungkook into his arms and carry him over the threshold bridal style.
Instead, they hug. It's crushing and it's filled with far too much emotion for two people who've only gone two weeks without seeing one another, but Namjoon missed his smell, his voice, the aura that infects all who come into contact with him, bringing a smile onto even the sourest of faces. "You should've come with me," Jungkook whispers, leaning his forehead against Namjoon's.
He's wearing his glasses, is in faded black loose jeans, a large, white knitted jumper on top that softens his body, hiding his curves from Namjoon's eyes and others'. His hair's fuzzy, like he'd just washed it, and Namjoon wishes he'd changed after all. "I would've," Namjoon laments, stepping back inside after he'd told himself that he can have Jungkook in his arms again soon, that it's freezing and they need to break apart. "You know I would've."
"You're right," Jungkook mumbles, gaze dropping from Namjoon, "It's wrong of me to expect you to just drop everything for me."
"It's not wrong," Namjoon insists sharply, "Expect the best for yourself. Nothing less." He doesn't like the uncertainty in Jungkook's eyes, the discomfort in the way he holds himself, and he seeks to rectify it by pulling him flush against him, kissing him softly, nothing too daring, just a small gesture that he hopes will speak louder than his words. "I've got other responsibilities besides you, but you have to know that you're now part of them."
He drops his head to Namjoon's chest who hooks his chin over Jungkook's head, relishing in the feeling of having him close after their short time apart.
From his bag, Jungkook pulls out two large plastic bags that immediately cast the stench of the sea over the room. Namjoon pinches his nose, blowing out a loud breath when Jungkook shyly offers them to him, "I brought you some abalone and octopus. My mother insisted I take some back with me."
Namjoon takes the bags from him, suppressing a laugh, "I've been offered many romantic gifts in my time... 1-day old seafood, though? That's new."
"I picked up some fish bread from a gas station on the way here, but the fishy smell might've tainted them..." he trails off, pulling a face when he brandishes the paper bag with the buns from his backpack.
"There's a pun in there somewhere, but the stink is preventing me from making one," Namjoon grumbles, jerking away from Jungkook who moves over to him with a menacing look on his face.
Once the seafood has successfully been put into quarantine in Namjoon's fridge, he plops himself down onto the sofa, wiggling his toes against the gaudy, moss-green mat as he watches Jungkook pull his legs up onto the orange armchair, teeth chewing the inside of his mouth.
"How did it go? They weren't pestering you, were they?"
"Not more than they usually would," Jungkook murmurs, resting his chin on his knees, "They still want me to sign up for a course. Preferably medicine."
"What did you tell them?"
"What I always tell them," Jungkook laughs derisively, frustration evident in the pout of his lips, "That this job is temporary, just something to get me some money before I head off to college."
"You don't wanna go to college," Namjoon points out needlessly, towards which Jungkook enthusiastically agrees.
"I can't tell them that," he sighs, "I told them that there's definitely a promotion on the horizon, but neither cracked so much as a smile."
Namjoon sympathises with him, feeling a weight settle itself on his shoulders like he's also bearing Jungkook's qualms.
"However," Jungkook begins after a beat of silence, pulling at a stray thread in his jeans when his pause lengthens, like his brain has malfunctioned or his tongue has miraculously forgotten how to form syllables, "I did have some good news for them. I told them that I've met someone."
Namjoon stills, "Y-you did?" Jungkook nods, his calmness evident, a polar opposite to Namjoon's spiking pulse. "How did they take it?"
"They were over the moon," Jungkook informs with relief, "Mama hugged me so tight she almost cracked one of my ribs."
"What's this guy like?" Namjoon probes, tone leaning towards sarcasm when Jungkook suddenly rises, twisting from side to side before he heads for Namjoon, "He must be someone very charming indeed if he's managed to woo you."
Jungkook bites back his grin, teeth digging hard into his lower lip before he lifts his shoulders in a quick shrug, "He's charming. Handsome too. He's somewhat of a hopeless romantic. His IQ's most definitely far greater than mine. I also told them how he's got legs as long as a supermodel's and they laughed." He waves at Namjoon's legs, instructing him to make room for him, which Namjoon readily does. He pulls himself up, back resting against the sofa, blinking blankly in surprise when Jungkook smoothly seats himself on his lap, arm wrapping around the back of Namjoon's neck.
Namjoon taps his index finger to his upper lip, trying with all of his might to not dissolve into shy giggles, "He seems like a pretty neat guy."
"He's the greatest," Jungkook agrees, voice low and eyes piercing Namjoon's when he traces never-ending pathways across his chest that have no beginning or end.
"They didn't care about, y'know..." Namjoon trails off, gesturing into the empty space between them, hoping he doesn't have to spell it out.
"You being a man?" Jungkook offers, the upturned corners of his lips hinting at a laugh, "They don't care about shit like that. So long as I'm with someone who respects and treats me the way they believe I deserve to be treated, I could date a damn human-sized doll for all they care."
"That'd be ideal. You wouldn't have to worry about mundane conversation, or bad body odour."
"Indeed," Jungkook agrees, watching Namjoon with a fondness deep in his brown eyes. "They want to meet you," he continues, fingers walking across his invisible paths, head leaning into the crook of Namjoon's neck when his hand presses into the curve of Jungkook's waist. "Sungki too."
Namjoon's surprise piques, his thumb stroking over the softness of Jungkook's jumper. "I'll be happy to. We'll be happy to."
He's got a niggling, scratchy feeling over his skin, and it's omnipresent, no amount of itching can rid it. He's toyed with the idea of telling his mother, and for some reason or another, has decided against doing so. With Christmas approaching, he accepts that their little secret can't be kept locked away, that he needs to blow the dust off of the key and open it up for all to see.
This train of thought leads him to an idea, one that has him disquieted. He pushes that sickly feeling he's got down, far far down into his core where he hopes it won't surface, and he reaches up to tuck a wayward lock of Jungkook's hair behind his ear before he inhales quietly, "I've got this staff function in a few days. I wasn't going to go, but it'd give me an excuse to get out of the house and I was wondering if you'd want to tag along. I know it's not nearly as equatable to dinner by candlelight, but there's free booze and hors d'oeuvres that we can stuff into our pockets if we decide five minutes into it that it's a snooze-fest."
"Free booze? Hors d'oeuvres? You really know how to entice a guy," Jungkook drawls, lips beginning to mouth at Namjoon's earlobe. Goosebumps prickle across Namjoon's skin, the hairs on his arms standing to attention when he caresses the back of Jungkook's head, inhaling softly when Jungkook's lips move to the column of his neck, to his jaw, teeth dragging across the prominent line of it.
"Nothing says romance like an invitation to an office party," Namjoon breathes, hands dropping from Jungkook's hips when he shifts, legs bracketing Namjoon's thighs as his lips continue their maddening ministrations. He captues Jungkook's lips in his, smiling in response to Jungkook's own satiated one, and he can feel himself slipping fast, that heat building into a fireball in the pit of his stomach.
He doesn't try to extinguish it, or fight it. He lets it burn until he's reduced to mush beneath Jungkook's weight, skin feverish and mind gloriously at peace.
7th December, 1988.
Taehyung's on his second martini, his speech already tellingly animated as he two-steps around Namjoon's living room, feeling the thrum of the music resonate deeply in his chest. Namjoon's too focused on ironing his shirt to join Taehyung, and instead chooses to treat the show like his entertainment for the evening.
"You should start drinking," Taehyung shouts over the music, olive-less toothpick between his lips, "You're gonna need it, especially if anyone from the science department go off on one of their goddamn, self-obsessed tangents. If any of those freaks start their godforsaken science versus religion discourse, I might have to send myself to the guillotine."
"Steering conversation away from academia swings both ways. If they can't talk about the ridiculousness of the Adam and Eve theory, then you can't wax poetic about the Barberini bees."
Taehyung pulls a sullen pout, his back turning in petulance to Namjoon as he resumes his jiving. Jungkook wanders in, frowning down at his tie that looks like it's a knot that a Boy Scout would conjure, and his arms fall heavily to his sides in defeat, his lips pursing in impatience at Namjoon who briefly wonders how he's got two grown men in his home who act more like a 7 year-old than Sungki does.
"That thing looks like it's something someone would use when tightening their harness for rock climbing," he points at the mess of Jungkook's tie, resting the iron on the ironing board before he gestures Jungkook forth, a long-suffering sigh leaving him as he begins to undo the complicated knot. "Have you never tied a tie before?" he asks, a hint of disbelief in his tone.
Jungkook's pout doesn't fall, and he mutters, "Never. I used to just get Mama to tie them for me."
"Ever heard about the Rabbit and the Fox?" He blinks at Namjoon, the vacancy in his expression enough of an encouragement for Namjoon to continue, "It's a story my mother taught me when I was younger. She used to always dress me up in these cute little suits for family occasions."
He readies the end of the tie, brow furrowed in concentration when he begins reciting the story he's got embedded in his memory.
The tie lies hanging around Jungkook's neck, and Namjoon grasps the two ends, muttering, "The rabbit bounded away with the fox snapping at his cotton tail." He flicks the larger side over the thinner, "Once around the tree, the fox chased the rabbit." He pauses for a moment, staring up at the ceiling as he tries to recall the rest of the story. "Twice around the tree, they ran." He flicks one side over the other once, twice. "The rabbit scooted under a bush, away from the fox," the thinner side comes up and under the neck loop. His tongue pokes out between his lips as he fiddles with the forming tie. He pulls at it, suppressing a laugh when Jungkook makes a mocking choking noise, "The little rabbit got away!" He finishes it off, positioning it properly on Jungkook's neck before finishing, proudly, "And the little rabbit dove right into the safety of his cool, dark hole."
Jungkook adjusts the tightness around his neck, and he looks at Namjoon, his eyes shy and cheeks flushing when he murmurs, "What a lucky rabbit."
"That nursery rhyme seems more confusing than helpful," Taehyung supplies unnecessarily from where he's propped against the fireplace, cigarette in hand and martini in the other.
"Shouldn't you be booking us a taxi?" Namjoon spits at him, buttoning up his starchy white shirt.
"I'm waiting for you two to stop preening yourselves and flirting," Taehyung bites back, third martini disappearing like water down his gullet.
Jungkook shoves the tail-ends of his shirt into his unbuttoned slacks whilst Namjoon stands in front of the roaring fire, fruitlessly attempting to introduce some semblance of neatness to his overgrown hair. When Jungkook disappears for a few moments and returns with his hair uncharacteristically slicked back, Namjoon and Taehyung share glances.
"It looked fine before," Taehyung insists, deciding to speak for Namjoon.
"It looked messy before," Jungkook gripes, eyeing himself in the mirror, running his palm over his beetle-shell hair, "I wanna look smart for you guys' colleagues.
Taehyung scoffs, "Fuck that."
Namjoon joins, "What he said. Wear it how you wanna wear it, you don't need to to look all proper and sophisticated. Besides, most of the men there won't have even bothered to apply even a smidgen of cologne, let alone bothered to go the extra mile and considered even touching their hair."
Hesitantly, Jungkook ruins the hair he'd so meticulously coiffed, shaking his head as if he'd just released his hair from a high ponytail, and he smiles at them both, hair hanging in his eyes in that characteristic way of his. Taehyung whistles at him in admiration, compliments pouring from his lips when Jungkook falls like a sawed-down tree onto Namjoon's chest bashfully, Namjoon yelping in surprise when he catches him in his hold, giggling when Jungkook hums against his shirt.
"Embrace your looks," Taehyung encourages, stamping out his cigarette when they hear the taxi beep at them from outside, "God knows they won't last forever."
After Taehyung's hurried outside in fear of the taxi taking off without them, Jungkook begins heading towards the door, cologne that smells of peaches and candy leaving a dizzying imaginary trail in his wake. Namjoon grasps his hand gently, leaning forward, tone low and hushed, "You look like a million dollars."
He doesn't shy away, instead he advances on Namjoon like a rabid puma, pressing him up against the wall only for him to press a light kiss on his nose.
"You look breath-taking," he breathes, lips close to Namjoon's, hands hovering over Namjoon's hips, "Once we get our fill of hors d'oeuvres, I can't wait to have you to myself."
He fakes a judging frown at Jungkook, lightly pushing him aside before he heads towards the door. He stands in the doorway, ignoring Taehyung hanging out of the taxi bellowing up the driveway at him, and there's a glimmer of mischief sending tingles all down Namjoon's body. He scolds Jungkook's greediness, tone cheeky, "Someone never learned how to share."
Jungkook blinks at him, pink dusting his cheeks when he replies, slowly, "Forgive me for wanting every last inch of you to be mine."
"I'm wholeheartedly yours," Namjoon insists, voice raspy when he adds, "From my fingertips down to my toes, I'm all yours."
Jungkook's dazed look fades, and he picks up Namjoon's hand, holding it in his, inspecting it closely. He grins up at Namjoon when he mumbles, "You've got some nice hands. Fingers are nice and long, fingernails kept neat. Now, whip out your toes so I can see what else is mine." Namjoon balks, expression lax when Jungkook's forced to lean against the wall, his giggles wracking his body. "That look on your face," Jungkook points at whatever, 'That look,' is, and Namjoon lightly swats his hand away, leaving Jungkook in the dust when he heads towards the car.
"Hurry up, you little terror," he grumbles, countenance unimpressed as he watches Jungkook dab at the wetness on his eyelashes, his giggling kicking up again.
The party's in a lecture hall large enough to house the entire faculty, and on the walls are some sprinklings of gold tinsel being held up by blu tack. They're greeted by a motion censor Santa when they enter, wishing them a Happy Christmas in a frightening, garbled tone, his batteries likely not having been changed since '81. When Namjoon gets pulled aside by a Sociology professor, wanting to know how Sungki's doing, Jungkook excuses himself and Namjoon watches him help himself to the punch bowl that's probably got a mix of liquor thrown into it that's enough to euthanise a small elephant.
His eyes dart over the many Christmas hats in the room, and he stifles a smile when he finds Taehyung standing stiffly beside the head of the Engineering department with a far-away glaze in his eyes. "Who is it that you've brought with you, then? For all the years you've come to these shindigs, it's just been yourself and Professor Kim."
He vaguely gestures towards Jungkook who's in the middle of what looks to be a riveting conversation with the lady who runs the cafeteria, who's probably the most palatable out of all present. Namjoon presses the tip of his tongue into his cheek, and he sips from his bottle of beer, thinking. "Just a friend," he offers finally, not missing the way in which the professor peers at him oddly. "I promised him free booze, and that was that. Hook, line and sinker."
The professor gives him a look, one that makes Namjoon want to squirm with discomfort.
"He looks like he goes here."
Namjoon recoils, frown immediately deepening between his brows, "He doesn't. He's not even a student. What do you take me for?"
He's promptly left alone after that, temper that had risen slowly simmering into nothing when he joins Jungkook, politely greeting the cafeteria lady that always slips Namjoon an extra of portion of kimchi. "You're here with Namjoon," she exclaims towards Jungkook, welcoming Namjoon's greeting hug, "For as long as I've known him, Professor Kim's always been the sweetest gentleman. He doesn't speak to me like I'm the dirt on the bottom of his shoe like some schmucks in this place."
"Oh, Jangmi. You speak too highly of me," he smiles politely at her as she fondly pats his shoulder.
"Jangmi was sharing with me the faculty's thrilling gossip," Jungkook shares, smirking when she begs him to keep his voice down.
Namjoon clicks his tongue fondly before he leans into her space, whispering, "Did you tell him about the elusive fountain pen?"
Jangmi's laughter reminds him of his mother's, and he smiles at Jungkook when she dissolves into full-bellied guffaws, swatting Namjoon's chest.
"The two of you are a scream," she sings, pulling a face at Namjoon when she makes unwarranted eye-contact with the Chancellor. "What's your relation? I know you don't work here, sweetheart. You've got too much of a freeness to you, and as for that handsome babyface of yours, sheesh you're giving heartthrobs a run for their money."
She pats Jungkook's cheek who scuffs his heel against the floor, sharing a look with Namjoon who nods, adding quietly, "He sure is."
"You're making me blush, Jangmi," Jungkook warns with a wink, only making Jangmi fall for him harder.
Addressing her earlier question, Namjoon informs her of their friendship, pausing when Jungkook shoots him a pointed look, expression not revealing much, though there is something questioning there.
"Why'd you take this lovely boy here on a Friday night? You should both be out on the town looking for hearts to break."
"And miss meeting you?" Jungkook smoothly drawls, furthering Jangmi's crisis, "If nothing else happens tonight, I'm happy to have at least met you."
She gets whisked away by one of the dinner ladies, leaving Jungkook and Namjoon standing by the refreshments, surveying the happenings around them. Namjoon points out Taehyung to Jungkook amongst the crowd of Santa hats, relishing in the fact that he's yet to escape from the Engineer. They converse with some of Namjoon's colleagues that don't give him migraines on the daily, and the directionless conversations become tiring very quickly. When Namjoon tries to steer Jungkook out of the hall, he's stopped.
"Namjoon," he turns to find the head of the English department smiling at him with that stupid moustache he has. Pastry crumbs cling to his far-too-long moustache, and Namjoon tries not to stare at them. "Any sign of that fountain pen of mine?"
"Jesus Christ, Jaehyun," Namjoon groans, shoulders drooping when his boss pats Namjoon's arm, ugly laugh making Namjoon's ears want to bleed. "How many times do I have to tell you. I returned it the moment I jotted down what I needed to."
"I'm only playing with you," Jaehyun defends, eyes leaving Namjoon to land on Jungkook, and he cocks his head at him, like he'd only just realised he was there. "Hello," he pauses, lips tightening together to make his moustache look uglier than it already is, "Forgive me for asking... Are you a student?"
Jungkook opens his mouth to speak, but Namjoon's quicker to intervene, "No. He's a friend of mine."
Jaehyun's hands rise in a surrendering motion, and he sniggers when he looks between their two uncomfortable expressions. "Apologies if I've struck a nerve. Your companion here looks like he's fresh out the womb."
"He's twenty-one years out the womb," Namjoon explains tersely, trying to push down his rising aggravation, "Now, if you could please excuse us."
He grabs Jungkook's hand, not bothering to wait for Jaehyun's sardonic reply as he drags Jungkook as far from him as possible. He stops them in a relatively empty corner, where there's a dowdy-looking librarian standing alone beside a potted plant, paying them no mind. As soon as they stop, Jungkook yanks his hand from Namjoon's, and Namjoon glances down at their disconnected fingertips, frowning.
He lifts his gaze to find Jungkook with an ever-growing affronted look on his features, and he leans in close, asking, "What's the matter?"
Jungkook ignores him, tongue rolling over his teeth, arms crossed and eyes trying to find something stimulating amongst the crowd.
"Jungkook," Namjoon tries, fingers close to resting on Jungkook's forearm before he steps away from him, lips still adamantly sealed. He glances around, noting if anyone's around before he takes hold of Jungkook, grip tight as he begins walking towards the door, attempting to act as calm as he can as he elbows between his colleagues. Out in the corridor they interrupt a history professor swapping saliva with the soccer team's coach, and Namjoon awkwardly apologises before he ducks down a dimly lit corridor, turning Jungkook and his frustrating muteness towards him. "Don't give me the silent treatment. Tell me what's wrong."
"I'm fine," Jungkook shortly gripes, looking everywhere but at Namjoon.
Namjoon tries to draw his eyes towards him, head ducking to try and entice him, and when Jungkook does finally meet his eyes, the coldness in them strikes Namjoon.
His concerned frown disappears and a wave of guilt hits him right in the gut. "You're very clearly not fine."
Jungkook's determination continues as he holds Namjoon's stare coldly, expression-less face rendering Namjoon confused.
He quickly becomes impatient, his guilt dissipating as frustration takes its place, and he rolls his eyes before he turns his back on Jungkook, muttering to the opposite wall, "Everyone in there wasn't wrong about you seeming younger than your years. You're acting like a child."
"I'm not your friend, Namjoon."
There's such hurt, such distress in his voice that Namjoon's entire body freezes, his jaw popping open in surprise.
When he's thawed out, Namjoon slowly turns to stare at Jungkook, pulse roaring in his ears when he asks, in a small, insecure voice, "You're not?"
There's this wildness in Jungkook's eyes, like its been there all along, only Namjoon's never seen it. Maybe he's masked it well, or maybe Namjoon's just obnoxiously unobservant. When someone passes by the top of the corridor, their heads turn towards the footsteps.
"You're introducing me to everyone in there as your, 'friend,'" Jungkook shares when the silence threatens to swallow them both whole, "I'm something far more than that."
"What do you expect me to say? We haven't discussed anything regarding what's happening between the two of us."
"Whose fault is that? I see the way you look like you want the earth's crust to split and swallow you whole when I so much as hint at us deciding on what our future should entail. It's like you're thinking of me as some quick fling, something to take your mind off of your worries, like I don't have deep, all-consuming feelings for you. I want to be with you. I want people to know that I'm yours and that you're mine, this secrecy isn't working for me anymore. I'm not happy with just being a vessel for you to release your pent-up feelings into."
Selfishness hits him hard in his chest, empathy nipping it's overwhelming teeth at his ankles when Jungkook refuses to meet his gaze. The past few months play in his mind like film clips, every single scene one with Jungkook, and something lodges itself in his throat, choking him as he realises something that he can't quite face, that he's scared to admit. When he reaches forward to comfort Jungkook, he's met with devastation when he jerks away from his touch, steam threatening to start blowing from his ears.
"I'm sorry," he offers lamely, scared to even look at Jungkook, "I've been watching us through the looking glass, thinking more about myself than you."
"I'm not angry at you," Jungkook quietly assures, sounding unsure of his own words, "I am, however, hurt, and tired."
"C'mere," Namjoon whispers, extending his arms that falter when Jungkook snidely looks at them before he relents, stiffly moulding himself to Namjoon's body. He strokes Jungkook's back, trying to calm himself, trying not to acknowledge the way in which his heart feels like its grown as big as a basketball, like its erratic pounding is about to lead him to an early grave. Tremors wrack his body, and he breathes, "I never meant to hurt you, and I guess I haven't really been honest with myself about how deep my affection for you goes."
"You don't say," Jungkook sneers, body finally loosening in Namjoon's warm hold. He leans back so he can gaze forlornly into Namjoon's eyes, his own sparkling even when the mood isn't savoury, "I've watched the cogs in your brain work at lightning speed every time you look at me. Your eyes expose everything, I was just too goddamn lovestruck to even consider the thought of you not wanting to be with me."
Namjoon's gaze rises to the ceiling, his anger towards himself rising rapidly, teeth gritting in hatred when Jungkook's gentle grip on his chin draws his eyes towards him. "I've been stupid," he says, locking his jaw when a sickly, poisonous feeling rises up into his throat, "I thought I was protecting myself when all I was doing was making myself miserable and hurting you."
"You were protecting Sungki," Jungkook corrects, "You went about doing so in the worst way possible, but it was all for him."
"I do want to be with you," Namjoon clarifies, arms encircling Jungkook's waist, lifting him slightly off of the ground as he embraces him, sighing dreamily when Jungkook's arms wrap around his neck, nose nuzzling in amongst the hair by his ear. When he drops Jungkook from his embrace, his tone dips low, a softness to it, "If I was to introduce anyone as a permanent fixture to Sungki's life, I can't think of anyone better than you."
Jungkook takes Namjoon's hands in his, a smile that the sun would be jealous of splitting his cheeks when he shyly mumbles, "Hanging out with the two of you everyday? That's an honour."
"Every Day," Namjoon reiterates, leaning over the space between them to kiss Jungkook's cheek, lips lingering when he adds, "I want to be with you when the sun peaks itself over the skyline, when the wind initiates a dance with the fallen leaves on the ground, when the sun waves goodbye and the moon takes its place."
"For when the first rain shower of Spring falls," Jungkook adds through a tiny smile. "I'll be there," he promises, tone quiet and in awe, "For you, and for Sungki. No matter what."
They walk back into the hall hand in hand, noting how in the small time they were gone, everyone's gotten considerably more tipsy, Jangmi included.
She welcomes them with a rosy-cheeked smile, only noticing their joined hands after she pulls them both into a crushing hug. There's no shock on her face, only mere curiosity, and she presses her hand to her mouth when it dawns on her, her tone excited and quiet when she utters in a breathy voice, "I never realised."
Namjoon glances at Jungkook, who ducks his head, and he pulls him to him, tucking him under his wing when he levels Jangmi's gaze, his chest swelling with pride and peace when he informs, with a sense of incredulity in his heart, "I wasn't honest with you before. This is my boyfriend, Jungkook."
After Jangmi's squealing and congratulatory display of excitement subsides, they decide to slip out unnoticed to wander through the empty campus, stumbling upon some partygoers smoking outside until they walk further away and find that it's just themselves walking beneath the twilight, the warm glow and the blue hue from the moon lighting their path.
Jungkook's hanging from Namjoon's arm, giddy with happiness when he gushes, "You're my boyfriend."
"Say it again," Namjoon encourages, flushing when Jungkook grabs his hands, swinging them both around so fast their surroundings begin to blur.
"You're my boyfriend!" Jungkook exclaims, unadulterated euphoria shining from him as he extends his arms towards the sky, breathing in deeply before he turns to Namjoon, pausing upon noticing the way in which he's watching him. They both know what that look on Namjoon's face is, what his small, fond smile means, what his adoring, longing gaze means, but neither speak it aloud. Instead, Jungkook pulls him into a kiss, one that Namjoon sighs into, releasing all of his qualms, his fears, his apprehension. He gets shoved up against a streetlamp, groaning slightly when the steel strikes his shoulder-blades, but the pain only lasts for a moment, his senses choosing instead to focus on the slick slide of Jungkook's eager lips against his.
When Jungkook gently coaxes Namjoon's legs apart with his knee, thigh pressing softly between them, the noise that slips for Namjoon startles not only him, but Jungkook too who softly soothes him, whispering sweet nothings to him, grasping his jaw with his hand, turning Namjoon's face to the side so he can pepper marks along the column of his neck. He becomes more daring, and Namjoon more receptive when he tentatively rocks his hips against Jungkook's firm thigh, a strangled gasp leaving him, hands digging into the flesh of Jungkook's sides, searching for something to ground him as his cock throbs pathetically, begging for attention, for friction.
"You liked that," Jungkook mewls, like he's simultaneously the devil on Namjoon's left shoulder and the angel on his right, "Do it again."
His thigh presses firmer against him, causing Namjoon's fingers to lock before they grasp at thin air when he gasps, "Ngh-no, we're going to my office."
It takes him an admirable amount of emotional strength to gently push Jungkook aside, and he regrets it immediately as he blinks rapidly, trying to dispel the blurring at the edges of his vision. He ignores Jungkook's pointed lingering gaze directed down at the predicament in Namjoon's slacks and instead grasps his hand, long legs carrying him faster than Jungkook can keep up.
There's no-one on the English department's floor, and this eerie, unwelcome feeling tickles Namjoon's skin when he guides Jungkook through the corridors, passing the heinous Christmas tree, the coffee room and Jaehyun's office (that he considers defacing, but ultimately decides against it). He rises onto his toes to pat blindly along the thin ledge over the door, his motor skills failing him when he knocks the key back onto himself. It whacks him right on the forehead before bouncing off of Jungkook's chest, and he turns to Jungkook, blinking blankly at him.
Jungkook chortles, "That didn't give you a concussion, did it? You're looking a little peachy."
"I can guarantee you that it's not because of the key," he grumbles, jabbing the key into the lock, fiddling with it until he bursts the door open with his shoulder, almost falling flat on his face with the force in which he'd exuded. Jungkook enters slowly, eyes darting around at the various frames adorning the walls. He signals one out almost immediately, and when Namjoon follows the point of his finger, he cringes.
"Look at that hair," Jungkook exclaims in a screeching laugh, moving closer to inspect it.
Sullenly, Namjoon rests his chin on Jungkook's shoulder to look down at the photograph, "My graduation picture from my undergraduate. Yoongi convinced me that big hair was what was gonna make me look cool. Y'know, the zits dotting my cheeks really add to the coolness of the look."
"You look like you got used as a punching bag a few times," Jungkook sympathises with him, reaching backwards to console Namjoon by hugging his head.
"That get-up might be outdated now, but it actually was hip in 1983."
"Keep telling yourself that, darling," Jungkook teases before he returns the frame to its resting place. "You've got all sorts of certificates. Way to make a man feel inferior."
He quietens Jungkook with a noise of disagreement, stating, "Academic success isn't the be all and end all of accomplishments. Look at you, for instance." He pauses, smirk teasing the corners of his lips when he tugs Jungkook closer, his hold tight around his waist as he leans his torso back from Jungkook so as to better admire him. "You're doing pretty damn well for yourself without a degree."
"I work in a bowling alley," Jungkook replies flatly, sounding glum, "I half-ass my job and barely survive living from paycheque to paycheque."
"You're independent," Namjoon counters, disliking the way Jungkook's hellbent on talking himself down, "You've got a wonderful outlook on life, and an even better personality. You're that one light in the room when all other lightbulbs go out." He pouts at Namjoon, suddenly bashful, and a coy smile replaces Namjoon's soft one when he adds, "And you're dashingly handsome to boot."
"Stop," Jungkook complains, playfully wriggling out of Namjoon's hold so he can instead sit on his uncomfortable chair and swivel from side to side.
"If you really wanted, I could put in a good word for you here. You're into sports, right? We've got a physiotherapy course over on second campus."
"I'm good," Jungkook declines, clicking the ever-loving life out of a ball pen, "I'd much rather stick with polishing bowling balls."
Namjoon frowns at him, his hands coming to rest on his hips when he shares, "If you weren't working there, we'd have never met."
The clicking pauses, and Jungkook meets his gaze, "When you put it that way, our story sounds like a teen romance film."
"With the way we act, we could easily be the protagonists. It'd make for a good story," Namjoon jokes through a grin.
He spreads himself out on his chaise lounge, the seat where many students come to meet their fate whilst Jungkook snoops around his desk, inspecting a stapler intensely before he begins unbending some paper clips, lining all of the misshaped wires up before messing them up. He doesn't realise Jungkook's standing over him until he taps Namjoon's head, gesturing for him to scoot over. With great difficulty, he pulls himself up, his body protesting.
He's rubbing his face, trying to will away the exhaustion that's begun to creep up on him when he feels Jungkook's hand come to rest on his knee.
"You should tell Sungki soon," he says, tone serious and prompting.
"I plan to do it before Christmas," Namjoon informs, cracking his knuckles, eyes fixed on Jungkook's hand, his thumb stroking his knee. "It'll be an early Christmas present."
Jungkook smiles around his fingers that he's chewing. He stops doing so, and turns to gaze at Namjoon, stare unwavering.
"Where's his mother, Joon?"
Namjoon stills, the question taking him by surprise, and he rolls his shoulders, mumbling, "I don't know."
"Did you marry her?"
"God, no," Namjoon scoffs, nervously scratching his nails against his slacks, "If she didn't want Sungki, she most definitely didn't want me." This revelation quietens Jungkook's queries, an awkward, uncomfortable silence settling between them before Namjoon begins, quietly, "We were each other's first kiss. It wasn't anything magical, just something that we both wanted to get out of the way, a notch on both of our belts. All of our friends were fucking like rabbits and we were the only virgins left in the group, so... We decided to rectify that. We didn't use protection, obviously, because you know how it is. People would rather avoid awkward conversations than openly discuss the importance of it. I hadn't spoken to her in three months when my mother told me I was wanted on the phone. Little did I know at the time that that phone-call was going to change my life forever.
Jieun didn't want to keep the baby. She chickened out on visiting an illegal abortion clinic and decided she'd carry the baby to term and then give it up for adoption, but I was having none of it. I told her, I said, 'That baby's a piece of me,' I couldn't just abandon it, so my mother and I got a lawyer, went through the never-ending paperwork, and as soon as she gave birth, I would become its sole guardian."
Jungkook's leaning close to Namjoon, pressing soothing, barely-there kisses to his shoulder when Namjoon shakes his head. He'd forgotten how difficult the memories were, how successfully he'd pushed them down, and his eyes sting when he continues, voice croaky, "I still held out hope for her. I thought, y'know, maybe she'd see her baby and realise shit, I made you, you're a part of me. I was fruitlessly optimistic. When she was in labour, I was still convincing myself that she'd change her mind. It took so long, so fucking long, so when there was a lull, I ventured outside, stumbled blearily into this store and bought her a stuffed toy she could gift the baby when she came to her senses," he grits his teeth, exhaling slowly.
"Snugs," Jungkook offers quietly, a tinge of sadness to his tone.
Namjoon nods, smile derisive, "Sungki was born and she didn't even look at him. I fell in love with him the second I saw that wrinkled face of his. I cut the umbilical chord through tears and he was whisked away, and it wasn't even five minutes before she was asking when she could leave. Three hours later, she was gone. I haven't seen or spoken to her since."
"I'm so sorry," Jungkook hiccups, snuggling in close to Namjoon's side, face burrowing into Namjoon's armpit to hide his escaping tears.
"I've always told Sungki that Snugs was his first Christmas present from Santa," Namjoon states flatly, "I don't think I could ever tell him the truth."
"Not when he's this young, but you need to anticipate him asking about her when he's older."
"Jieun wasn't a bad person," Namjoon insists, angry at his stray tears which he quickly swipes them from his cheeks, "She just wasn't ready. I had no right to force motherhood on her that young."
"You should be proud of what you've done for him," Jungkook commends, squeezing Namjoon's arm, "You've raised a beautiful, passionate, loving boy."
"It didn't come without turmoil," Namjoon continues, not registering Jungkook's words, too busy spilling the memories that are flooding back to him in succession, "During those first few months, he used to cry, and cry, and cry. Christ, he cried so much. Before him, I'd never even held a baby, I had no idea what I was doing. If it wasn't for my mother, for Yoongi and the boys, I don't know how I would've gotten through his first year. When I enrolled in University, when my time was often spent away from Sungki, Yoongi was round my mother's every day during his lunch break from his waiting job just to help out. He loves that kid just as much as he loves his own."
"He's had the honour of being raised by a group of wonderful people," Jungkook muses, and Namjoon finds himself smiling.
"He's shaping up to be a one-man manifestation of not only myself and them, but you, too, Jungkook."
Pride passes over Jungkook's features, and he bows his head, whispering, "Let's hope he inherits my good attributes."
He ducks his head so as to kiss Jungkook's cheek better, tone sweet and sure when he declares, "You're a wonderful role model for him to look up to."
"I can teach him how to sew," Jungkook suggests through an embarrassed half-laugh, "I'm pretty good at drawing, too. Can he ride a bike?"
"Not without stabilisers," Namjoon reveals, affection swelling his chest, hope for the future instilling genuine excitement in him.
"I can teach him how to ride a bike," Jungkook concludes with determination, "My brother wasn't the best teacher. The second he let go of me I careened into the garden shed. I bear the scars to this day." He points to his cheek, and Namjoon chortles.
He traces the small scar on Jungkook's cheek with the pad of his index finger, humming, "Let's hope you've learned from your brother's mistake."
"I won't let Sungki crash into a shed, I promise," Jungkook jokes, patting Namjoon's thigh when a comedic look of fear lifts his brows towards his hairline.
Their eyes get ripped from each other when the door to Namjoon's office flings open, revealing Taehyung with some reindeer antlers on his neck struggling to stand upright. "I thought you'd be here," he hiccups, eyes widening in horror when the hiccup hints towards an imminent catastrophe.
Namjoon shoots up, hands grabbing Taehyung's shoulders. He looks at him with terror in his eyes when he begs, slowly, "Do not vomit in my office."
"Who do you think I am?" Taehyung spits, affronted, swaying from side to side, like his centre of gravity has ceased to exist, "I can handle my liquor."
"I know who you are, and you cannot handle your liqour." Jungkook joins them, having the manners to support Taehyung by lifting his arm around his shoulders, his hand supporting his waist as he coaxes him out of the room, tone more understanding and empathetic than Namjoon's.
He keeps himself under control until they're all sitting on a curb, waiting for their taxi to come and whisk them home when Taehyung's control flounders. On all fours, he vomits into the gutter, whimpering whilst Jungkook tries to console him by stroking his back, briefly glancing at Namjoon but immediately regretting doing so when he sees his disgusted face which he desperately tries not to laugh at in Taehyung's time of need.
"Tonight was a bust," Namjoon reflects after they've dropped Taehyung home, wrapping him up in blankets, feeding him some iBuprofen and then instructing him to drink lots of water before he falls asleep. The disjointed glow of the streetlights passing them illuminates Jungkook's face in an awkward way when he turns to look at Namjoon, vehemently shaking his head in disagreement. "I don't know what possessed me to think that an office party would be anything but a disaster."
"I had fun," Jungkook insists, frowning as he reaches up to fluff Namjoon's hair, fixing it, if his facial expression is anything to go by, "It was the most eventful party I've ever been to, I can tell you that much."
"I promise our next date won't be this much of a woeful tragedy."
"Namjoon." He jolts, cheeks feeling hot and squished when Jungkook directs his gaze towards him by squeezing them. "As long as I'm with you, it doesn't matter what we do."
When he releases Namjoon's cheeks, Namjoon grins, "If I suggest going to a game of Bingo for our anniversary, you'd be down?"
Jungkook throws his head back, eyes scrunching up when he forces out through his giggles, "Hell yeah. That'd be great."
The house always feels strange without Sungki in it, like the energy has been drained from it. They narrowly avoid crushing one of his action figures, and Jungkook bends to pick it up, fixing its twisted arm before he leans forward to set it on the coffee table. Taehyung's empty martini glass sits on the fireplace, the fire long worn down to ashes, and Namjoon pulls Jungkook close when he hears the soft chattering of his teeth.
"Thanks," Jungkook murmurs, drawing his knees up onto the sofa, squirming against Namjoon as he fits himself to the shape of him.
Words seem pointless, like they'd somehow taint the moment, no matter the context of them, so instead they let the sounds of the settling house speak. A car alarm beeps in the distance, appliances whir from the kitchen, pipes squeak and passing cars disrupt the cacophony within the house. Namjoon finds himself becoming clammy, notices his breathing becoming shallow, and his eyes follow the movement of Jungkook's wandering fingers. They run along Namjoon's thigh, so lightly that he can't even feel them, and he shuts his eyes when he registers what's happening, why his skin feels as if it's going to burn if Jungkook so much as touches it.
He calms himself by focusing on Jungkook, by gently running his hand up and down his arm, eyes still transfixed by his fingers' movements. His touch becomes firmer, his fingers more exploratory, and when they slide in-between Namjoon's legs to the soft flesh of his inner thighs, Namjoon's lungs fill themselves up. Jungkook scrapes at the in-seam of his slacks, breath soft, joining the house's sounds, and when Namjoon's hand smooths down his back, Jungkook pulls his shoulders back, humming quietly when Namjoon's middle finger trails down the indentation in his back.
He hides his face in Namjoon's hair, a guttural, animalistic noise leaving him when Namjoon's tentative palm roams over his ass, squeezing lightly.
Jungkook's tongue licks at Namjoon's earlobe, sending shivers down Namjoon's spine, and his hand's begun moving again, those fingers of his moving with intent. His palm rests lightly on Namjoon's stirring cock, and Namjoon nearly climbs up the back of the couch, eyelids fluttering when Jungkook presses hard, purring, "Is this what you want?"
His voice threatens to escape him in a garbled cry, but he captures it, thickly lilting, "Y-yes."
He rolls his palm against Namjoon, applying more pressure through the heel of his hand, and Namjoon's teeth dig into his own forearm that covers his eyes, hips wanting so desperately to cant up into the friction. He feels Jungkook against him, hips moving surreptitiously to chase whatever pleasure he can, and Namjoon bites his inner cheek, composure slipping as he grows harder, giving Jungkook more girth to grip, to stroke, to squeeze.
His chest rises from the back of the couch, and Jungkook praises him, sounding amazed, "Didn't take you long to get hard, did it?"
"Fucking look at you," Namjoon chokes, head lolling when Jungkook's fingers dip further between his legs, grasping where Namjoon's balls are, "Of course it didn't take long."
Amidst mouthing at his jaw, Jungkook pauses to reply, voice so clearly laced with sick enjoyment, "Must've been hard being around me all these months if you're already this highly strung and I haven't eaten gotten my mouth around you yet. I've been in my own predicaments when it came to envisioning riding you when you were doing something as mundane as flipping burnt pancakes, but that was easily solved by a quick jerk-off session."
"Y-you what?" Namjoon keens, big, glossy eyes blinking down at Jungkook popping open the button of his slacks. "You didn't do that here did you?"
Jungkook meets him with disbelieving eyes, "No. I'm not a goddamn animal."
"Sexual arousal can do a lot to a man," Namjoon remarks, lips opening in awe as he watches his zipper become slowly undone, "Like now, for instance. I feel like I've lost control of my body."
"That's because all your blood's heading here," Jungkook smirks, giving him no warning before reaching into his underwear and grasping him, his coy smile immediately falling as Namjoon splutters an expletive, one hand belatedly coming up to clamp over his mouth. The heady atmosphere grips him by the throat, his tongue going dry when Jungkook begins stroking him in purposefully slow, languid strokes, mewling here and there when an escaped groan slips past Namjoon's lips.
His hands roam beneath Jungkook's shirt, feeling his taut skin, its warmth even hotter beneath his cold hand, and when he attempts to start unbuttoning Jungkook's slacks, he gets chastised, told that he can wait, that, "I want to watch you come first, then we'll deal with me."
His strokes move faster, his lips kiss harder, and Namjoon's embarrassingly close as he moves his hips in tandem with Jungkook's hand. He'd rather be in a different setting than they are, but the desire's too strong, the release he's been seeking for what feels like years is on the horizon, and Jungkook ensures that it comes swiftly, by lilting, "How much are you looking forward to fucking me?"
"Oh, Koo," Namjoon whines, rolling his hips with more fervour, gritting his teeth so hard he's worried he'll have to make an emergency dentist appointment tomorrow morning. He's not accustomed to being spoken to so filthily, and he feels himself flushing, and upon realising that he's blushing, his cheeks simply get redder. He tests the words he wants to say in his mind, but keeps them in there, worrying that someone's going to jump out of the woodwork and scold him for speaking with such immodesty.
"I've never yearned for someone as much as I've yearned for you," Jungkook continues, lightly stroking his thumb over the sensitive head of Namjoon's cock. His body spasms in response to the stimulation, and he clamps his teeth down on his bottom lip in an attempt to quell his helpless groaning cries.
He's close, overwhelmingly so, and his body's responding in ways that's somewhat scaring him. He's never felt so overcome, so clouded with lust, with want. He kisses Jungkook roughly, eager for his groans to be silenced, and Jungkook happily drinks them in, responding in-turn with his own soft whines. When he's on the precipice of release, he leans his cheek against Jungkook's, voice wrecked, sounding like it's not even his when he husks, "It feels good, fuck, it feels so good."
"Imagine how much better it'll feel when you're inside me," Jungkook mewls, stroking faster, his movements erratic. "I need you, I need you, I need you."
"Say it," Jungkook urges, tone high and breathy, "Tell me how much you want me."
"Fuck me. Oh, fuck," he realises Jungkook's palming himself, tumbling with Namjoon, and the clouds in his vision thicken.
"I will. I'll fuck you so good, so good baby, and I know you'll take me so well."
Namjoon comes silently, mouth aghast and eyes squeezed shut as he rolls his hips through the waves of pleasure wracking his body. He inhales air like he'd just surfaced from the ocean and then clamps his legs together, groaning in something that verges on agony when Jungkook doesn't relent, hand milking every last drop from Namjoon's weeping length.
He's distantly aware of Jungkook's own moans, breathy and high-pitched, his gasps loud in Namjoon's ear as he tiptoes down from his high.
When his body becomes weightless and the clouds part, he swallows around the dryness in his mouth, muttering in a quiet voice, "You've got a sailor's mouth."
Cuddled up along Namjoon's side, Jungkook smirks, "Better get some soap and clean my mouth out."
Once he's sure that if he moves he won't suddenly malfunction, Namjoon flattens his palm on Jungkook's chest, pushing him back into the position he himself was in before he sinks to the floor, much to Jungkook's surprise who blinks at him in confusion.
A blush blossoms across Jungkook's cheeks as he glances down at himself, shifting his gaze shyly to Namjoon who tilts his head, studying him.
With his palms on Namjoon's hands that rest on his thighs, Jungkook quietly tells him to get up.
"I want to do this for you," Namjoon insists, concern etching his brow when Jungkook heaves a heavy sigh.
"We can do it another time," Jungkook soothes, drawing Namjoon up beside him, lifting his legs over his lap as he wraps an arm around the back of Namjoon's neck, voice low when he explains, "I already made a mess in my slacks, no need to make it worse."
Glancing down at the place in question, Namjoon blinks slowly before he meets Jungkook's eyes, index finger caught between his teeth to hide his smirk.
"You came in your boxers," Namjoon states matter-of-factly.
Without batting an eye and with a kittenish smirk, Jungkook's tone is as sweet as honey when he confirms, "I did."
8th December, 1988.
No-one answers the door for five long minutes.
There's no sign of life in the house, no hint suggesting that Sungki, the girls, Seokjin or Yoongi are even home, and just when he's trying to peer through the eyehole, nose pressed up against the door, he ends up being seconds away from falling flat on his face when he stumbles forward, catching himself, narrowly avoiding head-butting Yoongi in the stomach.
Readying his irritable tirade, Namjoon inhales, but doesn't release his breath. His eyes find Yoongi and struggle to process what it is he's looking at.
He's caked in make-up, a look of resigned irritation calming his features when he warns, flatly, "Say a word and I'll throttle you."
For a moment his lips remain zipped, but the longer they stand awkwardly at the door staring at one another, the more urgently he yearns to comment.
"That silver glitter on your lids... It really makes your eyes pop," Namjoon compliments, so close to crumbling, "You've got some in your eyebrows, too."
"Thank you, I know," Yoongi drawls drily, stepping aside for Namjoon to enter. "Seokjin bought the girls this kids makeup and suggested I be their model."
"Should've known he was behind this," Namjoon shares, so very close to releasing an almighty burst of laughter.
"My ears are burning. Who's talking about me?" Seokjin calls from the living room, which Namjoon walks into, nodding in greeting to Seokjin who winks cheekily at him. He sits down beside Seokjin, ears pricking when he hears Sungki's signature giggles travel through the house. "The kids did a great job on him, didn't they? Mind you, the sparkly blue moustache was my idea, figured since he can't grow his own that I'd give him a fake one, see what he thinks of it."
Namjoon turns to Yoongi who's standing in the doorway, looking as unimpressed as he's ever looked. "I think it suits him. You should try growing one."
"Enough," Yoongi begs, falling down onto a chair opposite the two, pulling a face when he tastes the sparkly cherry lipgloss dolloped on his lips and around them.
Seokjin offers him some herbal tea and honey bread which Namjoon politely declines, stating that Jungkook's waiting for him at home, which tickles both Yoongi and Seokjin's interest, if their shared, unreadable glances are anything to go by. "He stayed at yours?" Seokjin ventures, leaving the question to hang in the air like they're all fish and it's the bait dangling off of a fishing rod.
Attempting to act normal, instead Namjoon leans towards being coy when his gaze falls to his lap when he nods, offering them no more information about the night prior.
As he sticks to his pledge of remaining mute, out of the corner of his eye, he sees Yoongi gesturing to Seokjin, no doubt urging him to pry.
"He's been staying 'round yours a lot recently," Seokjin tries to seem like it's a revelation, only Namjoon can detect the direction in which he wishes to steer the conversation.
He shrugs, aiming for nonchalance, that is until this great burst of vigour makes itself known deep in Namjoon's chest, its source being the determination of his growing heart, and his gaze remains focused on his lap, his tone guarded and purposefully toneless when he murmurs, "Considering he's my boyfriend, it's not strange for him to be over 24/7."
He can barely finish his sentence before Seokjin lands an overly exuberant slap on Namjoon's back, his booming voice cursing loudly when he looks to Yoongi, who just sits there, a knowing smile on his face. "Since when? Last night? At your staff party? Oh, Namjoon, that's so unromantic."
"Hey," he defends, offended when Seokjin clicks his tongue loudly in judgment, "It felt right, and he's not the type to care about futile shit like that."
"Congratulations," Yoongi offers, scratching at his eye which undoubtedly has about twenty flecks of glitter in it, "I thought you were never gonna ask him."
"What is this?" Namjoon gripes, glancing between the two of them feeling attacked, "Your lack of faith in me is extremely degrading."
"You haven't been romantically involved with someone since we were teenagers," Yoongi defends, looking to Seokjin for support who nods along with him, "We figured your lack of experience in the field would be a roadblock in your courting of Jungkook."
"I'm a grown man," Namjoon pouts, crossing his arms, "I've had flings in the past few years, nothing serious sure, but I've still got it. Clearly."
"Clearly," Yoongi repeats mockingly.
"The guy's got tiny pink hearts dancing in his eyes whenever he looks at you, he's besotted. He would've agreed to be your boyfriend no matter what way you'd gone about asking him," Seokjin opines, genuine fondness replacing his previous dissatisfaction, "I hope it all works out for you two. You deserve it." He leans over to press a slobbery kiss on Namjoon's cheek before he draws him into a hug, tucking his head beneath Namjoon's chin when he pulls Seokjin against him, winking over at Yoongi who makes a playful face of disgust at the two of them.
"I suppose I should give you a hug too, then?" Yoongi grumbles, standing, feet dragging him against his will until he bends to encircle his arms around both Namjoon and Seokjin.
Their conversation shifts when Myungok, Yungmi and Sungki come tearing into the living room like a hoard of baby elephants, Sungki throwing himself at Namjoon, listing off everything he did at Uncle Yoongi's house at lightning speed whilst Namjoon positions him more comfortably on his lap, fixing his hair since Yoongi purposefully combed it down (he knows Namjoon hates when he combs his hair down). Yungmi does some touch-ups on Yoongi, adding pink glitter over the silver before asking the room how it looks, towards which everyone oohs and aahs.
"Yungmi and Myungok have already sent their lists off to Santa," Sungki shares, chewing his fingernails when Yungmi and Myungok begin listing off obscure toy names to Namjoon.
"Santa's gonna have a very busy Christmas this year," Seokjin laughs, glancing at all of the adults in the room who mask their knowing smiles.
"We can write yours when we get home," Namjoon promises, fiddling with Snugs' floppy ears whilst Sungki strokes Pip's fuzzy head.
"I can't think of anything that I want," he replies quietly, lifting Pip's arms like he's playing the drums.
"Ask for an Atari 7800," Yungmi suggests, her sister vehemently agreeing through an excited squeal. Namjoon sees cartoon money signs explode in his eye-line, and he looks at Yoongi helplessly, already mentally going through December's budget, wondering if they can survive on the perishable foods in the cupboards at home for a few weeks just until Santa's managed to accumulate a fitting haul.
"Nah," Sungki disagrees, soothing the spike of Namjoon's blood pressure. He leans in close to Namjoon's chest, thumb disappearing into his mouth, which takes Namjoon by surprise for a moment. It's a habit he hasn't done in a while, and it worries him for a moment, until Sungki's small voice whispers, "I just want to have a happy Christmas with Daddy."
His heart sinks in the best way it possibly could, eyes rising to look at Seokjin who has the same look of surprise in his eyes.
"Every Christmas of ours is happy, monkey," Namjoon soothes, hooking his forearm beneath Sungki's legs so he can cradle him. He misses when he used to be no bigger than a watermelon, when he'd fall asleep with his tiny fingers curled into Namjoon's chest, that sweet, powdery baby smell of his clinging to his clothes wherever he went. It feels like it all happened in the blink of an eye; his first word, his first steps, his first day of school, his first birthday, all of those firsts seem so long ago now, and now, to think that he's got a living, walking, talking extension of himself in the world, it feels suddenly surreal. He's reminded of how Sungki's his everything, how he's vowed to give him a life without woes, and he can't help but feel a sense of fear towards how he predicts his future is about to change.
"Why can't you two be like Sungki?" Yoongi mopes jokingly, tickling Myungok who emits a piercing squeal, "How about instead of Santa gifting you Cabbage Patch Kids he bestows upon you the gift of frugality?"
"What's that funny sound Daddy just made?" Yungmi asks Seokjin, perplexity evident on her delicate features when Seokjin throws daggers at Yoongi.
"Never mind Daddy. He's having one of his weird spells."
"He has those a lot," Myungok butts in, studying Yoongi intensely, his abhorrent makeup and serious expression, the bizarre sight of him tickling Namjoon fiercely.
"Girls," Yoongi quips, pulling Yungmi onto his lap when he posits, voice warped like a monster's, "Why do you both act like I'm lightyears stranger than your father?"
"You say funny things," Yungmi explains, giggling when faux hurt melts Yoongi's glittery features, "Dad does too, the way you say stuff is just funnier."
"I don't think you're strange, Uncle Yoongi," Sungki pipes up, grinning wide when Yoongi's hands fly up to his heart, flattered by Sungki's compliment.
He playfully pushes Yungmi off of his lap and makes a beeline for Sungki whose hair he ruffles before turning to Namjoon, "Can we swap children? I'll take this little wonder and you can have these two terrors."
"Daddy," Yungmi and Myungok cry in unison, the joke evidently over when they share glum looks, said expressions getting remedied when Seokjin decides that the joke is over, explaining to the girls that Yoongi never learns when the joke's gone on for too long before ordering them all to hug.
Seokjin leaves Namjoon with an armful of the honey bread he'd promised him a while back, and he heads home, singing at the top of his lungs in the car just so Sungki laughs so hard his stomach begins to hurt, and by the time they reach home, Namjoon's throat is dry and voice hoarse. In the driveway, he asks Sungki to wait with him for a moment, and immediately his previous calm demeanour has waned. He taps the steering wheel, teeth chewing the life out of his lips when he turns around to smile softly at Sungki.
He keeps his tone purposefully normal so as not to spook Sungki. "Monkey. I need to talk to you about something."
Sungki doesn't bat an eye, and Namjoon's gaze shifts to Pip and Snugs perched comfortably on his lap, shiny, unblinking eyes staring back at him unnervingly.
Sungki's patience alarms him, and he zones out, staring blankly at the stuffed animals like they're about to come alive and assist him in his mission.
"Y'know what," Namjoon claps his hands together, realising with shame that his resolve has crumbled, has drifted far up into the clouds, to a place where he may never find it, "It can wait. Let's go get you some hot cocoa and start flipping through some catalogues to see what you wanna put on your Christmas list."
The minute the front door opens he's hit with the smell of vanilla, the scent so strong it pinches his nose, Sungki commenting on it immediately, asking what Namjoon's baking. He chucks Sungki's overnight bag onto the sofa before he hears a commotion in the kitchen. What he finds makes him want to melt on the spot. Sungki's crouched on the floor, peaking into the oven with Jungkook standing over him wearing one of Namjoon's faded chequered shirts rolled up to his forearms. When he turns to greet Namjoon, lips quirking when he spies Namjoon's surprised expression, Namjoon notices a blob of batter sticking to his nose, his hair an unkempt mess and cheeks tinted red from what looks like an intense baking session.
"He's making strawberry cake," Sungki informs Namjoon, showing Pip and Snugs the rising cake in the oven.
Namjoon arrives beside Jungkook, arm lifting up to wrap around his waist before it pauses on its journey, slowly coming back to rest by his side. Jungkook notices the gesture, a questioning look on his face when Namjoon offers him nothing more than an apologetic, pathetic smile, something that Jungkook wisely chooses not to acknowledge. The sweet smell wraps itself around them as they sit in the kitchen, glasses of orange juice in their hands whilst they listen to Sungki's tales from his night away.
"Pip didn't sleep well," he says, concern in his tone when Jungkook crouches down to inspect Pip with genuine worry.
"It was his first night away from home," Jungkook explains after sharing his diagnosis: homesickness, "Can't blame the poor thing for feeling weary in the Min household."
Namjoon masks his titter with the back of his hand, throwing Jungkook a look of playful warning when he grins back at Namjoon brazenly.
Jungkook fetches them some pens and paper when Sungki decides it's time for the gruelling task of beginning his Christmas list, towards which Jungkook has many options to offer. "I don't think you're the gaming type, little guy. You should ask for some books, y'know, so 'Miss. Rumphius,' can get some shut-eye every once in a while."
"I'd like that," Sungki agrees, focusing extremely hard as he jots down the request in the neatest of handwriting. "I wanna write stories, too."
"Ask for some stationery and a pretty journal," Jungkook suggests, forearms crossed on the table from where he's crouched down to Sungki's level.
Their Christmases have never been an extravagant affair. Typically, Namjoon spends the morning with Sungki alone until he dresses him up for his mother who cooks them dinner and fills their stomachs up to the brim, so much so that Namjoon's often returned home feeling like he's on the verge of being physically sick. This Christmas promises to be different, and he furtively watches Jungkook as he converses with Sungki, attention rapt on his growing list as Namjoon's attention shifts to Sungki who hangs on to every word that leaves Jungkook's mouth.
"What would you think about Jungkook spending Christmas with us, monkey?"
The question leaves him without much forethought, almost like his filter had malfunctioned, that or he's miraculously obtained a level of boldness that he's never possessed before. His belated reaction is to stare softly at Jungkook, a smile splitting his cheeks upon seeing just how touched he is by the gesture.
"I don't want to impose on your day," Jungkook attempts to decline, but Sungki latches onto his arm, big, bright eyes pleading with him.
"You're part of the family. You have to come." When Sungki says that, Namjoon knows Jungkook won't say no, can see it in the way there's decision already on his face.
The cake leaves the oven looking unintentionally burnt, but Namjoon bites his tongue, as does Sungki who accepts his plate with enthusiasm, digging in right away. He finishes it faster than a dog would its dinner and is then hurrying off to go gallivanting in the garden, but not until Namjoon wraps him up like he's about to brave Antarctica's winter, tying the scarf so tight around Sungki's face he's surprised the kid hasn't been smothered by it.
He sits with Jungkook at the kitchen table, the both of them picking at their respective slices of cake, and when Namjoon takes his first bite, he stills.
Jungkook notices him, and frowning, takes his own bite, before he, too, stills.
They savour it for a moment before swallowing it down, but not without much difficulty, and Jungkook's the first to opine, "This tastes awful."
"No," Namjoon insists in spite of the unpleasant burnt, tangy taste clinging to his tastebuds, reminding him of just how bad it tastes. "It's just a very distinct taste."
"You don't have to mollycoddle me," Jungkook murmurs, already standing to swipe the cake off of his plate and into the trash.
Namjoon stands beside him, fingers trailing lightly across Jungkook's lower back when he relents, quietly, "I was trying to be nice... But, it does taste like shit."
"Sungki polished his plate," Jungkook exclaims in surprise, frowning at Namjoon, "I hope he didn't do that just to be nice."
"He's a polite kid," Namjoon agrees, leaning his head onto Jungkook's shoulder when he adds, "If he didn't like it, he would've told you. Kid must just have a strange palate."
Jungkook rests his chin on his hand as they gaze out the window, watching Sungki toss Snugs so high up into the sky he's close to getting stuck on a cloud. It already feels so natural, so comfortable acting this way with him that Namjoon wonders how they'd ever tip-toed around each other in the past, going so long denying themselves of this normalcy. Jungkook feels like the home he'd always wanted, the hearth that warms his chilling bones, and he sighs happily thinking about all that's about to happen between them.
"Did you say something to him?" Jungkook asks, giggles escaping him when Sungki chucks Pip up into a tree before shrieking, a stage direction in his make-believe storyline that presumably wasn't planned. Sungki shakes the trunk of the tree, his limited strength eventually working when Pip unceremoniously falls headfirst off of the branches.
"Not yet," Namjoon replies, lifting his head to meet Jungkook's eyes, "I will. Soon."
"It's just," Jungkook begins only for his lips to close immediately, a small line between his brows as he rolls his bottom lip between his index finger and thumb in contemplation. He heaves a heavy sigh, turning around to rest his hands on the countertop when he explains, softly, "He said I was a part of the family."
Namjoon's head cocks to the side, his expression fond and doting. He mimics Jungkook's stance, his hands, too, coming up to rest on the countertop. He bumps his hip against Jungkook's whose fallen terribly quiet, and when Jungkook lifts his puppy-dog eyes to blink bewilderingly at Namjoon, Namjoon serves him the most genuine of smiles.
"He's more observant than you think. Your presence here, the attention you give him, it's all inherently parental. He's developed an extreme bond with you, Koo."
"And I with him," Jungkook adds quietly, awed expression shifting to something more impish, "He's really left a mark on me, that monkey."
Devotion, warmth, happiness swells Namjoon's chest, and he nuzzles Jungkook's hair, muffling his words, "You have no idea just how much of a mark you've left on the both of us."
24th December, 1988.
Hints of Jungkook can be found in every nook and cranny. On the coffee table lies his walkman, something which Sungki often fiddles with, proclaiming how cool it is to have a mini stereo that sends music right into your eardrums. The stock of orange juice has significantly increased since his unofficial move, and pancakes are all they seem to eat for breakfast, nowadays. It's the only thing Jungkook can cook that Namjoon can't, and so he doesn't complain.
His more muted, earth-toned clothes have their own space beside Namjoon's in the closet, and on Namjoon's desk lies some comic books, ones that Sungki's seen a few times and thankfully hasn't had the chance to flick through before either Namjoon or Jungkook have intercepted him, stating that their contents aren't fit for children. His side of the bed is typically neat whilst Namjoon's is messy, and when the morning sun breaks, Namjoon's got the pleasure of gazing upon Jungkook's features, brought to life by the wintry rays.
It frightens him how smoothly it all was. There was no arguing, no sacrifices, nor was it even planned. It happened slowly, one day there was one shirt hanging in Namjoon's closet, the next there was four, and now, Jungkook's entire livelihood lives scattered around Namjoon's home. Their home.
There's only been one obstacle, though he wouldn't classify Sungki as that, and even then, Sungki's not said a single word. Jungkook's omnipresence is normal to him.
Jungkook's spread out on the sofa, socked feet moving in tune with the music blasting through his headphones whilst Namjoon wraps some last minute presents; a mug for Seokjin, some socks for Yoongi, a tie and bottle of champagne for Taehyung and two dolls for Yungmi and Myungok that look startlingly like they could be the twins' doppelgängers. Namjoon's got a piece of tape between his teeth when Sungki appears by his side, a folded piece of paper in his hand when he shyly nudges Namjoon, gesturing for him to take it.
"What's this? Did you draw me something?" Namjoon asks, tape falling from his lips when he unfolds the piece of paper to find words scribbled onto it, a red heart taking up most of the space on the paper, some words crossed out and others smudged. He welcomes Sungki onto his lap when he begins to read aloud:
I love you very much and hope that you have a very Happy Christmas. Thank you for being the best Dad in the world.
Kiss kiss kiss, Sungki.
Not foreseeing its contents to be so sincere, Namjoon frowns at himself, at the way the words catch in his throat, and he cuddles Sungki close, nose burrowing into Sungki's freshly-washed hair when he whispers, notably touched, "This is so sweet, monkey." He kisses his cheek, clearing his throat in an attempt to hide the tears that won't escape from his eyes and so threaten to show through his voice, "I love you. So much."
Sungki doesn't linger, instead scrambles to his feet, leaving Namjoon, pausing before he glances back at him and then down at a second sheet of paper in his grip that Namjoon hadn't noticed. Sensing his nerves, Namjoon shoos him towards Jungkook, smiling when he watches him tentatively rest the sheet on Jungkook's chest who blinks in confusion at Sungki, pulling his headphones off in surprise. Sungki stands beside him, fidgeting nervously, which Jungkook notices and so pulls him to his side, clutching him as he opens the paper using his teeth and free hand.
His features slowly relax, his smile falling, his eyes suddenly looking crystal clear, a hint of emotion in their dark depths when he holds Sungki to him, gaze far-away and unfocused when Namjoon sees the way his eyes are catching the light, the wetness clinging to his eyelashes, threatening to fall. Eventually he finds Namjoon from across the room, expression verging on stunned, and he shakes himself, clearing his throat before he grasps Sungki's hand, and reads:
I'm so happy that you're spending Christmas with us, it's like I've got a second Daddy whenever you're around. You remind me of Daddy, only you're more fun and let me get away with a lot more. I love you a lot. Merry Christmas. Kiss kiss kiss, Sungki.
His tongue catches on the final words, voice betraying him as it quivers and he drops the note from his hand, pulling Sungki up onto his chest to hide his face from Namjoon and his unwavering stare, from his stupefied expression, from his look of unadulterated love. He curses Sungki, because whatever thoughts come to mind feel as if they don't hold the same weight as his, would in fact be a dishonour to translate into words, and so he sits in contemplative silence with this uncharacteristic, rearing gall in his gut that he's never once felt in his life.
"Sungki," he speaks like he's on auto-pilot, like he's a puppet and someone else is imitating his voice, "C'mere, Monkey."
Obedient as ever, he arrives by Namjoon's side, blinking at him with questioning eyes, and Namjoon throws a look at Jungkook, at him and his embarrassed yet touched expression, at his own shirt on his body, at his socked feet with his tiny toe poking out, and the tinny buzz of his un-paused music echos around the room when he decides, with conviction, that it's either now or never.
"You're a big boy now, and I think that when I tell you grown-up things that I can expect for you to be strong. You're my strong monkey, right?"
Sungki produces his skinny little arms, posing like how Sylvester Stallone in Rocky would, though the impact of Sungki's stance falls slightly short of the legend's, "Really, really strong."
He can see Jungkook moving in his periphery, moving urgently like he's got somewhere to go, and he stands, only for Namjoon to shoot him a reassuring, calming look which causes him to slowly sit back down, knee jigging incessantly as he chews at his fingers, eyes so openly frightened.
Namjoon wonders why he's so collected, why his heart isn't beating a hundred miles an hour, why he's not chickening out as he always seems to do.
"You and Jungkook have become really good friends since he started looking after you, and I'll never be able to thank him enough for all that he's done for you, so could you run over to him and give him a big, crushing hug for me?"
Sungki's happy to oblige, almost breaking his neck with the speed in which he launches himself at Jungkook who emits a teary laugh, Sungki tight in his hold as he rocks them from side to side, holding Namjoon's stare, trying to convey his emotions which Namjoon thinks he can construe. Sungki's about to return to Namjoon when Namjoon raises his hand, gesturing for him to stay in place, and Namjoon begins, quietly, feeling like even all of that public speaking he did in college hasn't prepared him for this moment.
"Actually, what you mightn't know, is that all of this time, when Jungkook was playing with you, planting flowers with you, tending to Snugs' many injuries, he's become a really good friend to me," he rubs his palms together, marvelling over how wet they are before he continues, cautiously, "See, Jungkook makes me happy. So happy in fact that I want him to be around all of the time. Remember I told you about how only people who really, really like each other share beds?"
He looks lost, confused, but there's something hidden beneath the surface, this growing thought that Namjoon can see developing right before his very eyes. Jungkook's got his face hidden in the crook of Sungki's shoulder, swaying him from side to side, and Sungki taps his forearm, eyes blinking rapidly like he's trying to solve a puzzle. "I remember that, yes."
"Well, I really, really like Jungkook, and he really likes me, so I think from here on out, my bed is going to become his."
Sungki short-circuits, eyes widening but then relaxing when he worries he's jumped to conclusions, "What do you mean, Daddy? We're going to be having sleepovers every night?"
Namjoon laughs, swiping at his nose when he realises he sounds like a frog, the lump in his throat so big that he coughs several times to try and push it down.
He joins them on the sofa, taking Jungkook's hand in his, resting his other on Sungki's knee, whispering with absolving unrestraint, "I love him, monkey. I love him very much."
Sungki's gaze remains fixed on the ground, fingers fiddling with themselves whilst Namjoon and Jungkook wait in the treacherous silence.
Jungkook taps Sungki's shoulder, the quiet becoming unbearable, and his eyes are gentle, tone soft. "I love your Daddy, too, champ. Probably way more than he loves me, and I love you a smidgen more than I love Daddy."
The cogs are still working in Sungki's brain, but slowly, it's clicking. His head jerks towards Namjoon, startling him who's staring at Jungkook, pulse roaring so loud in his ears he can hardly hear Sungki when he asks, timidly, "You're both in love?" They nod, and Sungki adds, with slight uncertainty, like he's afraid he's reading the signs horrifically incorrectly, "You're... Boyfriends?"
"Yes, buddy. Jungkook's my boyfriend," Namjoon admits, any qualms he had soaring far up into the sky the moment he watches Sungki's face lighten up.
"This is so exciting," Sungki bounces, throwing his arms around Jungkook, the latter's chin hooking over Sungki's shoulder in a useless attempt to hide the wetness on his cheeks that he can no longer control. "I have two dads now!"
Through his tears, Jungkook splutters a laugh, sleeve mopping up the mess on his face, "You don't have to think of me as your Dad just yet."
"Right. Give it a few months, then decide what you wanna start calling him."
Sungki's lips purse in thought before he opines, rather maturely, "We're already best friends, so I think I feel okay with calling him Daddy."
Namjoon pulls him to him, blowing a raspberry onto his neck, distracting himself so Jungkook can have a moment to compose himself. When he leaves in search of some tissues, Namjoon commends Sungki, whispering, "I'm so proud of you. I know things are gonna change around here, and the maturity you've shown about Jungkook's inclusion in your life has been so incredibly profound."
"I'm happy," Sungki smiles, extending his arm out to Jungkook who serves them both a small smile, face blotchy and bloated, but still so, so beautiful.
"To avoid confusion, Jungkook can't be 'Daddy,'" Namjoon informs, arm wrapping around Jungkook's waist when Sungki retrieves Snugs and Pip from the armchair, sharing with them the exciting news.
"I call my father, 'Papa,'" Jungkook suggests, tone sounding dreamy and tired as he moulds himself with ease to Namjoon's side.
"Papa," Sungki repeats, testing the feel of it on his tongue before he nods with admirable decisiveness, "Jungkook... My Papa."
He stays up later than Namjoon would've wanted, long past midnight and too late into the witching hour sharing with them all of the things he looks forward to them doing, which includes but is not limited to: returning to the cabin, picking tea leaves in the summertime, visiting Jungkook's hometown to taste its renowned seafood and feel the beaches' sand between his toes, and finally learning how to ride a bike without his trusty stabilisers.
After being gently coaxed towards his bedroom, Namjoon pats Jungkook's shoulder, kissing his cheek before leaving him to tuck Sungki in, leaving his stocking on the end of his bed for Santa to fill with goodies. He pours himself a finger of whiskey, fumbling around in the drawer of his desk before he locates the tattered packet of cigarettes that he takes with him out into the bitterly cold night, hissing once the chill worms its way down the collar of his sweater.
The wind chafes his cheeks and hands, cold fingers struggling to work the lighter thats flame gets thrown about. He chases it with the cigarette, triumph striking him when it alights, and he watches the embers as they burn, lungs adamantly protesting to the poison entering them as he remedies his coughing with a sip of whiskey. The stars blanket the sky, peering down at him from beneath a few lone clouds. Smoke billows up towards them when the door behind him opens, Jungkook appearing from it with a blanket draped around his shoulders.
"You're asking for pneumonia coming out here," he chastises, pausing when he sees the cigarette between Namjoon's fingers. "I didn't know you smoked."
"I don't," Namjoon smirks at him in somewhat of a grimy manner, the butt between his lips as he takes a drag.
The blanket slips off of Jungkook's shoulder when he reaches forward to pluck the cigarette from Namjoon. He levels Namjoon's stare, lilting, "Neither do I."
As he stands there shivering, collecting every variant of the flu known to man, Jungkook uncloaks himself. He drapes the blanket around Namjoon's shoulders, muttering something about how he rarely ever gets ill, and Namjoon can't help but think that he's just spoken something out into the universe, that a curse is incoming. There's this energy brewing between them, one that feels like it's about to swallow them both whole any second now, and he tries to avoid imminent implosion by sidling up next to Jungkook, accepting the drag that he offers him.
"That went well," Jungkook says, relief evident in his tone, "If I knew he would've been that happy about us, I would've wanted to tell him sooner."
"He needed that time to get to know you better," Namjoon insists, a hefty weight settling on his shoulders when he notices that the two of them are very cautiously navigating around what was said inside, the implications of what they'd said, the fact that they'd both allowed their hearts free reign to speak in spite of their minds' censorship becoming so diligent. He hadn't planned to say what he said, it came to him naturally, and still when he said it he felt fear grasp its deathly hands around his beating heart.
"That felt like purgatory," Jungkook muses, "The time between trying to quell my crush and when I realised you were crushing on me right back, that was hell."
"The space between love and friendship is beautiful until it hurts, but those were formative times," he defends, welcoming Jungkook into his space, chest meeting his back, arms encircling his arms.
"Whenever I left here, whenever I went back to my shitty apartment, I sat there on my bed-bug-ridden mattress, staring at the stains on the ceiling, at the hole that housed a family of mice berating myself for falling for someone so far out of my league."
"Please don't be self-deprecating. If anything, you're out of my league."
"This isn't about how I look, or my personality or anything like that. I fell for a family man. I watched you in that damn bowling alley with stars in my eyes, knowing fully well what I was doing and yet I didn't stop myself. I let it snowball into something all-encompassing, so much so that going a single day without seeing you felt like a day wasted, like the sun rose up high in the sky for nothing."
The words marinate in Namjoon's mind, jitters beginning to subside thanks to Jungkook's body heat. He sighs, "None of that matters. You weren't being reckless with your feelings, they just happened, much like mine. I can't lie and tell you that the reason why I thought to invite you over to babysit was because I thought you seemed responsible. I thought you were hot, and maybe I used Sungki as a pawn in my endeavour, which might I add, I am not proud of. So, we're equal fools, fools who can't articulate ourselves and go about doing things in as long-winded a way as possible."
Jungkook's hand rests on Namjoon's arms over his chest, and he questions, slowly, "Wanted yourself a hot babysitter, did you?"
Namjoon stifles a guffaw, righting himself to drawl, "Figured coming home to your lovely face every day wouldn't be so bad, yeah."
Jungkook shoves back at him with his ass, "To think I led myself to believe that I was this evangelical being coming to your rescue when really you didn't need rescuing. You just had a bad case of blue ball syndrome."
"A terribly bad case," Namjoon laments sadly, yelping when Jungkook swings around in his hold, pinching the flesh of his hips.
"You've really shown your true colours tonight, Professor," Jungkook lilts, chin jutting out as he holds Namjoon's stare, eyes challenging him.
"As a red-blooded male who can appreciate beauty when he sees it? Apologies for leading you on. Shall I go back to acting like the shrew of a man I was before?"
Jungkook shakes his head, the facade falling from his face, his true gratified, tickled expression shining through, "I like this side to you. It's... Sexy."
His brows rise, eyes fluttering when Jungkook's lips latch onto his jaw, kisses trailing a path down towards the divot between his clavicles.
He enjoys it for a moment, not bothering to mask just how much he enjoys being touched after going far too long without it, he's not going to deny himself of it now. Jungkook gets carried away with himself in record time, his touches becoming firmer, his intention crystal clear as he reaches around to grip Namjoon's ass and squeeze, a soft breath fanning over Namjoon's clavicles when he does so. He soon gets lost in it, mind elsewhere, trundling back to their earlier conversation with Sungki, and when Jungkook's becoming fervent, desperate, he decides to calm him, and is surprised by his shyness. "What's all this about you loving me more than I love you?"
Jungkook's ministrations stop fast, like he'd been caught fumbling around with the next-door neighbour by his mother. For that split second, Namjoon's stomach flips, and flips, and flips.
He steps back from Namjoon, head low, fingers flexing by his sides. He sounds small, timid, "It's like nothing I've ever felt before. There's this fever that runs down my body, one that no medication can kill. I convinced myself a few weeks back that I was on death's door as I sat before the toilet bowl on my knees, retching until the sun broke. I never thought for one moment that it was because of how quickly and how hard I'd fallen for you."
Stunned into silence, Namjoon gapes at him, world flipping over on it's side as he blinks at Jungkook, at his pigeon-toed stance, at the nervous wringing of his fingers, the embarrassment on his cheeks, and then, he looks inwards, at his oblivion, his understanding of the world, a direct contrast to Jungkook's own innocence towards it, and then, selfishness hits him right in the chest, so hard it might as well have been a brick.
"Baby," he coos in anguish, beckoning him forth into his arms, a place where he'll forever protect him. He rocks him, cradling the back of his head as he looks back up at the stars, at the endless stretch of light that stays strong for so long, fading only when the moon's friend announces its arrival.
"I worked myself up over it," Jungkook explains, cheek against Namjoon's chest, "I convinced myself I was a home-wrecker when at that time, we hadn't done anything. It crept up on me, and before I knew it, I was fawning over your every move. I felt silly, like, who has such a schoolboy-like crush at my age? What was a guy like me doing falling in love with a Professor and a father? I felt careless and stupid for letting it get far enough for me to be feeling physical pain over the thought of not being with you."
"You'll never have to face that pain again," Namjoon determinedly states, "You're here with me, we're here with you."
Jungkook looks at him like he's deciding whether or not he's lying to him, if it's all some well-constructed lie built off of his love for him, but ultimately, he relents. Equanimity washes over him like it never has before, tipping his head back when Namjoon advances on him, fingers caressing the line of his jaw, eyes drinking in his features. His eyes are closed when Namjoon's tongue begins teasing against his lips, Jungkook's coming out to meet it before he rasps, "I love you more."
Pulling Jungkook firmer against him by the small of his back, Namjoon whispers between their heated kisses, "I love you more more."
25th December, 1988.
It's not a holiday he celebrates for what it's meant to be celebrated for. He sees it as a day for love and the appreciation of those in his life more than it is a day for bowing to capitalism, though even in saying that, Sungki still awakens to an impressive accumulation of presents beneath their small tree. He's grateful for them, enthusiastically yelling his thanks to Santa Clause after each present gets ripped to shreds.
They sit cross-legged on the floor sipping some coffee whilst it's still dark outside, Jungkook looking like a zombie as he stares unfocused at the glimmering fairy lights, shaking himself out of his reverie when Sungki hands him a packet of markers that are unnecessarily difficult to get into. It's like they've been doing this for years, like they've already developed a tradition by playing a game of uno after breakfast, by going on a walk in their pyjamas and slippers, by taking a nap in the afternoon when the excitement's worn them all out.
Jungkook's got some music playing softly on the stereo Namjoon had gifted him, and Sungki watches him move about the room, goofy dance moves reducing Sungki to a puddle of a giggles as he jumps up to join him, taking Jungkook's hands, his knees weak and movements floppy when Jungkook seriously instructs him to compose himself, only for him to then dissolve into giggles after tugging Sungki's arms in tune to the beat.
The two struggle to overcome their giggles, and Jungkook, falling to his knees, begs Sungki to stop before his sides split in two.
"I don't think Sungki's the issue here. You're just hyper," Namjoon says, smiling at the petulant glare that Jungkook shoots him.
"Daddy says I get like that after too much hot cocoa. Maybe you're the same," Sungki offers, preening when Jungkook pats his head, making a thankful sound towards him.
He collapses onto the sofa beside Namjoon, inhaling deeply before he beckons Sungki over to them, nudging Namjoon forward so he can reach back behind the cushions, brandishing a small brown paper parcel from behind them. Frowning down at it, Namjoon gives him a questioning look before Jungkook wiggles his eyebrows at him, ensuring him that it's okay, that it's just something small.
"Is this for me?" Sungki asks in astonishment when Jungkook drops it into his awaiting hands, nodding with pride as he reclines back onto the sofa, legs crossing and fingers interlocking behind his head. Namjoon intently watches him open the gift, almost as curious as Sungki is to see what it hides, twigging that it's a book before Sungki does. He pats Jungkook's knee in commendation when the wrapping eventually falls to the floor whilst Sungki studies the title with joy in his eyes.
"The Velveteen Rabbit," Sungki reads, eagerly flipping through its pages before gushing, "Thank you, Jungkook." He pauses for a moment, eyes scanning the colourful pictures before he adds in a timid, shy voice, "Papa."
"Ever heard of it before?" Jungkook asks when he slides down onto the floor beside him, his movements suggesting that the sugar in his system is still very much present. When Sungki shakes his head, Namjoon's head lolls, cheek close to resting on his own shoulder as he regards the two of them with soft eyes. "My Mom used to read it to me when I was younger. It's about a stuffed rabbit who wishes that he was real, and in order to become real, he has to go through many trials and tribulations with his beloved keeper. Once he's overcome various hurdles, the love that his keeper has for him will eventually bring him to life."
Sungki hangs on to Jungkook's every word, and he hugs the book to his chest, murmuring, "I wish Snugs was real."
Namjoon's always indulged Sungki's insistence on Snugs being a part of their family. He's never done anything to suggest to Namjoon that he didn't believe Snugs was alive and breathing, they've just always gone along with his voice being fed through Sungki, his thoughts and emotions, his fears and frustrations, and he feels his heart strings tug at themselves when he sees the hope in Sungki's eyes, the hope that one day Snugs may truly come to life.
"Snugs is real," Jungkook insists gently, plucking the rabbit in question off of the coffee table and perching him on his knee, "He's your best friend. He mightn't move like we do or talk like how everyone else talks, but he shows his love in a different manner. Aside from Daddy, Snugs has been a part of your life since you were just a little tyke. He knows more about you than anyone."
"He's getting old," Sungki shares with grievance, petting the toy's droopy ears. One of Snugs' eyes has begun to loosen, and Sungki carefully tries to push it back to where it belongs before whispering, "I feel like he's growing up, like he doesn't want to play with me as much as he used to."
Namjoon and Jungkook share a look of incredulity, and Namjoon leans forward, soothing, "He's just tired. You think all that throwing about you do with him doesn't get tiring? He's not as agile as he used to be, monkey. We can fix him up a bit, sew back his eye, stuff up his chest and he'll be like brand new. You've got Pip to play with now, too. Aren't you a lucky boy, having two friends who love you so very much?"
Sungki hugs Snugs, glancing over at Pip who lies forgotten on the armchair, "They need me."
"Indeed they do," Jungkook agrees, stroking Sungki's back who nuzzles his face in against Snugs'.
"They'd be lost without you," Namjoon adds, smiling when Sungki's worries begin to dwindle.
He retrieves Pip from the armchair, holding them both tightly in his arms when he bows towards Jungkook, opining, "I'm like the little boy in the storybook." Jungkook nods, and Namjoon gazes at him, heart strings relinquishing their tight hold when Sungki adds, "They mightn't be real to others, but they're real to me, and no-one can stop me from loving them."
10th January, 1989.
Tensions are high, tears are near being shed, and Taehyung stands at the forefront of it all with his hands on his hips.
"If you paint that goddamn bedroom duck-egg blue I'll never speak to you again," he jabs his finger in Namjoon's direction, eyes steely and threatening.
"When have you ever been in my bedroom? Why does it matter this much to you?"
"Do you know how badly that colour will wash everything out? That room is tiny, the sun sets on the other side of the house so it's constantly in darkness. Painting it a deeper colour will only make it feel cold, not homely at all."
"I can't believe the two of you are about to end your friendship over interior design," Yoongi gripes from his spot on the sofa, one leg slung over Seokjin's lap.
"There's something more to this," Jimin pipes up, shooting up from his seat to level Taehyung with a disapproving stare, "What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing," Taehyung snaps, folding his arms when they all stare at him, entirely lost.
"That impulsive half-perm you got says otherwise," Yoongi unhelpfully points to Taehyung's head, receiving deathly looks from those around him.
"We won't paint it duck-egg blue," Jungkook lightly relents, eyes suggesting he's freaked out by Taehyung's baffling temper tantrum.
"Jungkook," Namjoon whines, "You should be on my side."
"The man looks like he's two seconds away from crying, fuck the paint!" Jungkook exclaims, glancing over at Taehyung with worry etched on his brow.
Jimin's whispering to him, smoothing his hand over his mussed hair when Taehyung peers at them all like he's weary of their presence. After Jimin returns to his seat, Taehyung remains stoic, hands bunched up into fists by his side when he heaves a heavy, long-suffering sigh that breaks the others' confused silence.
"Perhaps I used the duck-egg paint as a way to release whatever confounded emotions are inside of me," he begins, hesitantly, "Truth is, I guess something is 'the matter.'" All eagerly lean forward, elbows on their knees and ears pricking up as Taehyung looks at them one by one, eyes rolling high up into the heavens before he babbles, fast and without taking a breath, "I think I'm falling for that damn professor I was speaking to the night of the staff party."
Namjoon breaks the silence with a derisive laugh, not believing Taehyung for one second until all eyes turn on him, scrutinising him sharply. His gaze finds Jungkook, who makes a pointed face at him, eyebrows rising to encourage him to rectify his rudeness when he looks over at Taehyung who's standing small, worrying his lower lip. Namjoon clears his throat, asking, "The science professor?"
Nodding like he's ashamed of himself, Taehyung heaves an almighty huff before crying, "Seojoon. He's lame but so sweet to me."
"The lame ones are typically the ones who are the biggest softies," Seokjin concurs, pointedly fixing Yoongi with a glare as the latter rolls his eyes.
"You're just vexed because you've got this preconceived idea of what he should be like based on his profession. If he's kind and treats you right, then why shouldn't you pursue him?" Jungkook tosses in his two cents, winking over at Namjoon who commends him with some quiet clapping.
"Look at Yoongi, for instance," Seokjin pipes up, patting Yoongi's small thigh when the latter blinks down at the gesture, bewilderment on his features. "For years he masked his feelings by tossing subtle jabs my way, it took me far too long to realise that he was doing it because he liked me and felt safe with his affection by exhibiting it through snide remarks. Be glad this guy is being overtly expressive with his affinity towards you."
"I'm a travesty," Yoongi admits through a small smile, leaning into Seokjin, pausing before he shifts in his seat, expression going empty as he thoroughly inspects his fingernails, mumbling, "And yet, even after all of the teasing I put Seokjin through, after all of the running away I did from him because I was scared of falling in love with one of my best friends, he stuck by me through thick and thin. In fact, he stuck around for so long, he figured, y'know what, I'm gonna ask him to marry me."
The room stills. Taehyung's the first to gawp at them, jaw inches away from hitting the floor when he shares with Jimin and Hoseok a look, a questioning one, one that's unsure of what they've all just heard. Namjoon focuses his attention on Seokjin, looking for any signs of laughter, any suggestions of this being a prank, but when he glances at Jungkook's jubilant eyes, at Yoongi's refusal to meet any of their gazes, he springs to his feet, the coffee table almost meeting its maker from the force in which his shin strikes it.
"You're engaged," he shouts a tad too loudly with a bit too much disbelief in his tone.
"Holy shit," Hoseok whispers, matching Namjoon's wide stare once the penny's dropped, "You're not. Are you?"
Yoongi and Seokjin exchange looks, and when Yoongi attempts to hide himself beneath Seokjin's arm, the room erupts into noise.
They all pile onto the two like they'd just won their college soccer final, and with someone's elbow digging into his neck and someone's knee stabbing him in the waist, Namjoon laughs, so hard and with so much joy he feels alight, like he's walking on air. Everyone's joy intermingles, bouncing off of each other's, creating this impenetrable ball of happiness, and when they all rise, groaning about their sore backs and creaking knees, Yoongi presents the ring. They admire the gold band, all crowding around Yoongi's hand when Jimin leans forward to pull Seokjin into a tight, warm hug, sharing with him quiet words that the others can't decipher.
"Congratulations, you two," Namjoon turns towards Jungkook's voice, who sits perched on the coffee table looking considerably more put together than the rest after he'd decided not to partake in the dog-pile. "Truth be told, when we first met I thought you were both already married."
"We practically are," Seokjin scoffs, cooing at Yoongi who purses his lips in a poor attempt at hiding his embarrassment, "Reason why it took so long was because I was afraid I'd scare him off if I did it too soon."
"I really thought Yoongi was gonna pop the question first. He seems more like the alpha and commander in the relationship," Hoseok muses distractedly, stroking his chin as he studies Yoongi like he's a newly discovered species.
A smirk forms on Seokjin's lips, and he disagrees, his tone leaning towards being salacious, "You have no idea how wrong you are there."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Yoongi huffs, shoving lightly at Seokjin, detesting the way he's been thrust into the centre of everyone's attention.
Namjoon grins at Seokjin as he taps his nose, leaning in close to Yoongi when he explains, quietly, "You've really fooled everyone into thinking you're the one whose got the upper-hand in this relationship. Bravo, baby."
Jimin makes a gagging noise behind Namjoon, and he turns to look at him right as he's pulling a face of disgust, "As happy as we all are for you both, we don't want to know the ins and outs of you guys' dynamic."
"You both just completely hijacked Taehyung's therapy session," Hoseok adds, pulling a rather sullen-faced Taehyung towards him, pinching his cheeks to remedy his downturned pout. When Taehyung's stoic facade crumbles, he shoves at Hoseok's wandering fingers that seek to render him into childish giggles by prodding at his armpits, and something dawns on him as he goes still, frown between his brows when he juts his chin towards Jimin, whining, "Jimin and I are the only ones left untethered."
Jungkook's snuck up beside Namjoon, chin resting over his shoulder, his front sagging against Namjoon's back, tiredness weighing down his body when they both watch something dark pass over Jimin's features, eyebrows wiggling towards Namjoon when he subtly runs his hand up Hoseok's chest, mewling, "We can easily fix that."
At first, Hoseok jolts in surprise to Jimin's touch before he relaxes, coy smirk upturning his lips when he pulls Jimin to him by his waist.
"We've got an announcement, too," Hoseok proclaims in a disbelievingly serious tone. Jimin giggles against his shoulder, head flinging backwards and body looking to go with it before Hoseok saves him, hand flattening on the small of his waist, pulling him closer. His eyes are blatantly focused on Jimin's lips when he announces, tone strangely gravelly, "Jimin and I are fucking."
"Hoseok," Jimin warns through a whine, jumping out of his skin when Hoseok begins to nose at his neck.
"You're not," Taehyung deadpans, hands deep in his pockets when he gestures towards the two whose cavorting is becoming increasingly impure.
"You should," Jungkook counters, earning from Namjoon a sharp look which he waves away, addressing Hoseok when he adds, "I think we've all noticed the tension between you two."
"Could cut it with a knife," Seokjin agrees, making finger guns at Jungkook after the latter bows towards him, thanking him for appeasing his hijinks.
"What've you got to lose?" Jungkook asks through a suggestive smirk, gaze directed towards Jimin who seems the weaker of the two.
Taehyung crosses the room, feet stopping him in front of Jungkook, disagreeing hands propped on his hips when he insists, "They're not fucking."
He barely gets the words out before a garbled noise bursts from Hoseok followed by various other noises from those around them, Yoongi at the forefront of them all as he turns to Seokjin, blinking blankly at him whilst Jimin openly slides his lips against Hoseok's, whose eyes eventually fall shut and whose body melts into the sensation, arms encircling Jimin, lifting him towards him, Jimin's feet lifting off of the floor.
In a confused daze, Namjoon watches Seokjin and Jungkook share a triumphant fist bump, Yoongi scolding Seokjin and Taehyung clicking his tongue loudly at Jungkook before all turn their attention back to the two attention-seekers eating each other's faces off. "That's enough, boys," Namjoon announces, ruining the romantic moment, stifling a chortle when Jimin's body folds in on itself from laughter, Hoseok standing to the side dabbing at his lips and rearranging his shirt.
"You're right, we're not fucking," Hoseok digresses, tone noticeably lower, and he glances at Jimin briefly before optimistically adding, "Maybe we should."
"Just not in front of us," Yoongi begs from where he's thrown himself onto Seokjin in an attempt to comfort himself from what he's just witnessed.
When Hoseok's got himself a lapful of Jimin, and Seokjin's got Yoongi glued to his side, Namjoon beckons Jungkook towards him, winking at him before he twirls Jungkook around, arms reaching out mid-twirl to encircle Jungkook's waist and drag him towards him. Taehyung stands in the middle of the living room, eyes darting over the three pairs, and he throws his hands up, exclaiming, "We've still not discussed what the fuck I'm gonna do about Seojoon."
"Ask him to be your boyfriend," Jungkook supplies, humming when Namjoon's lips trail across the skin of his neck, "The more you dwell on what could go wrong, or how you're not right for one another, the more likely it'll be that you'll never ask him."
"Thank you," Taehyung heaves a long-suffering sigh, tone increasing in volume to address the others, "At least someone cares about my love life."
He's spread out across the sofa when the house has emptied, begrudgingly eyeing the empty cans and stray peanuts strewn across the coffee table when Jungkook comes into view, inspecting the mess before turning to Namjoon, suggesting, "We can clean up in the morning."
"I'll get up early and clean before Sungki comes home from your mother's," Jungkook offers, kicking at a peanut and sending it flying into the fireplace. He stands, pride evident on his features after his money shot, and through heavy-lidded eyes, Namjoon blinks at him, waving him over. They squeeze themselves onto the sofa, Jungkook doing most of the manoeuvring when Namjoon stubbornly protests towards moving so much as an inch, citing his old bones when Jungkook begs him to move his ass at least a little bit to the left.
Eventually they get comfortable, and he can hear the tell-tale levelling of Jungkook's breath against him, chest rising and falling slowly, soft noises slipping from him as he slowly falls under. His own exhaustion has dissipated, and he watches the dwindling fire, only some embers still burning strong, and when they begin to start going out one by one, Namjoon moves, turning over until he's face to face with Jungkook, so close to him their noses almost get squished against one another.
"What happened to those old bones of yours?" Jungkook croaks, coming slowly back from the gates of the land of nod, fingertips tracing the line of Namjoon's waist.
Lifting his head, Namjoon glances down at the length of his body, fake shock gracing his features when he exclaims, "I'm cured. It's a miracle!"
Unimpressed, Jungkook huffs, burrowing down further between the back of the sofa and Namjoon's back, wedging himself in tight. He glances back at the embers that have since turned to ash, eyes resting there for a moment until they seek out the source of the ticking sound, the clock that hangs over the mantelpiece, telling him that it's an hour that he never wishes to see.
"What d'you think about marriage?"
He doesn't blame Jungkook for making a disgruntled noise, he wishes his brain could switch off and drift off to sleep like Jungkook was close to doing two seconds ago, but his thoughts are whirring, memories replaying in his mind, insights into the future that are so vivid Namjoon wonders if they've already occurred in some universe that's not theirs.
"I think it's brave," he shares quietly, sounding so tired that Namjoon's about to tell him to start counting sheep when he continues, "It takes a lot of vulnerability to sign your life over to another. I admire Yoongi, y'know. He keeps up this act, leading us all onto believe that he's this grumpy, emotionless guy nearing his thirties when really that mask is something that he's crafted for protection. Seokjin's the only person who really knows him, and I think that they're gonna live a long, happy life together."
"It's weird," Namjoon starts, joining Jungkook who pulls himself up to sit, "We've all been friends since we were in primary school, and I've witnessed the entire outward development of their love, but it wasn't until they told us that they were going out that any of us even knew they'd been crushing on one another. A few years later they announced that they were gonna give adoption a go and we didn't have a clue about just how serious they were about one another."
"They mightn't have known themselves," Jungkook offers, gaze directed towards his lap, "They could've both made the decision to just go with the flow, no dilly dallying, if you like me and I like you, then let's do something about it, and if it doesn't work out, then that's that, nothing more. End it, forget I exist and continue living your life."
He's too enraptured in his own thoughts and only realises he's spaced out when Jungkook clicks his fingers in his face, worry on his brow.
"Do you think you'll ever get married?"
If Jungkook's freaked out by Namjoon's question, he hides it well, mustering a simple, quick nod, "One day."
He tries not to venture further, to not complicate things more, but that darned mind-to-mouth filter of his has malfunctioned.
"When you've found the right person?" he pries, hesitantly, like he's clambering to stand tall on a frozen lake.
Jungkook's gaze falls, and he picks at the small amount of facial hair he has, affirming, softly, "When I've found the right person."
14th February, 1989.
"What are you in search of, sir? We've got heart-shaped chocolates, bouquets of roses, life-sized teddy bears with a heart-shaped stomach."
He surveys the various gifts, making a face at the 'Mr. & Mrs.,' engraved thongs before he turns to greet the clerk, already decisively adamant that he won't fall for any ploys the man throws him to entice him into buying gaudy gifts that one's significant other appreciates for a grand total of one hour before it's forgotten about, getting buried at the bottom of a drawer or thrown into the back of a closet.
"I'm just here for a card, thank you," he declines through a polite smile, flicking through the various cards, shoving his briefcase beneath his arm to delve deeper into the poor selection of cards. All of the messages inside each card are corny, lacking impact, and they're placed there by multinational companies to relieve their customers of the woes that come with having to think up their own love-inspired message. They all have some exhausted poem, or some painfully poor attempt at being funny etched into them when finally Namjoon finds one that's blank, its front not bursting with colour and patterns.
He writes the card when he's turned off the engine and glanced up at his home to find the lights in the living room on, the porch light on, too, to welcome him home, and he fumbles around in his briefcase in search of a pen. As he writes the card against the dashboard, the pen begins to waste, and he licks at the ballpoint, cursing when he messes up a word and has to scribble it out. What he writes is simple, nothing over the top, nothing too cringeworthy, and he shoves it into the envelope, giving himself a paper-cut in the process.
He's sucking at his wound when he tosses his briefcase onto the sofa, the card hidden behind his back when he walks over to Jungkook, too enveloped in his music when Namjoon taps his shoulder to inform him of his return. "You're gonna deafen yourself playing your music that loud," Namjoon warns, thumb returning to his mouth when Jungkook pauses the music, clicking his tongue loudly at Namjoon.
"I want to hear as little as the outside world as possible. Full volume is the only option," he defends, hands behind his back when he juts his head towards Namjoon's thumb, "Never knew you were a thumbsucker. I knew Sungki must've gotten it from someone."
Adopting an affronted look, his thumb immediately leaves the confines of his mouth when he produces from behind his back the source of his injury.
"I got a paper-cut putting this into an envelope for you."
The cheekiness in Jungkook's eyes instantly dissipates, and he accepts the card, wordlessly opening it and reading, a smile slowly forming on his lips.
He closes the card, heaving a heavy sigh before he falls like a dying tree into Namjoon's arms, the two of them almost losing their balance before Namjoon saves them both, scolding Jungkook for his carelessness who chooses to ignore him, silencing Namjoon's chiding with a wet kiss to his lips. "Happy Valentine's Day," Jungkook drawls, his doe-eyed look soft and filled with love, "I love you more."
His chest brims with affection, eyes gentle when he replies, softly, "I love you more more."
Jungkook drags his gaze from him, directing it down towards his hand which he takes into his, lifting it between them, inspecting it closely before catching Namjoon's eye. There's a look deep in his eyes, one that's dark, swirling around, plotting something Namjoon's afraid to envision. Jungkook lifts his hand up to face-level, crooning in a strangely lascivious tone, "We don't have any plasters."
Namjoon blinks at him, insisting, "It's just a paper cut. I'm fine."
"Doesn't it sting?" Jungkook inquires, eyes going cross-eyed as he focuses on the thumb, and Namjoon's started to understand where this is going, what Jungkook's hinting at.
Jungkook's lips oart, his tongue coming out to swipe around the circumference of his thumb without warning, and it takes Namjoon an incredible amount of will power to not openly groan when those small lips of his wrap themselves around him, the pad of his thumb touching the soft wet flesh of Jungkook's inner cheek as Jungkook softly sucks, cheeks hollowing and eyes fluttering closed, a soft, muffled noise slipping out from deep within his gut.
"That's a very creative healing method," Namjoon purrs, attention rapt on the sight of Jungkook so flagrantly enjoying the sensation of his mouth being filled.
His hips meet Namjoon's when his lips part, the corners of them quirking when Namjoon's free fingers rest on his jaw, his thumb pressing down onto Jungkook's tongue as he opens wide, humming when Namjoon presses his lips onto his cupid's bow, surprise hitting him when Jungkook's fingers begin making slow work of his belt. He drags it out from the loops of Namjoon's slacks, a guttural noise leaving Jungkook when Namjoon's free hand drops to ghost over the predicament in his trousers, one that Namjoon's happy to find is very much a big one.
"You're so dirty," he chastises darkly, gripping Jungkook's jaw more tightly, his own going slack when Jungkook begins to circling his tongue around his thumb, head bobbing in the most obscene way imaginable. He moves against Namjoon's firm hand, sighing when his hand dips into Namjoon's trousers to grip his cock, working it slowly, whimpering softly when Namjoon peppers kisses along the line of his jaw.
"Fuck me already," Jungkook pleads when Namjoon's withdrawn his thumb, eyelids heavy as he blinks at him, wanting so very badly to give him what he requests.
He hisses when Jungkook's fist tightens around him, squeezing, his teeth clamping together before he declines, stating, "We haven't got the run of the house."
Like he'd forgotten, like desire had clouded his thoughts, Jungkook's eyes widen in horror, hand promptly pulling out of Namjoon's trousers.
They stand staring at one another, a red shade of shame on Jungkook's cheeks when he whispers, obviously embarrassed, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Namjoon insists, rearranging himself, retrieving his forgotten belt from the floor, "This is new. We're going to have to strategically navigate around our desires," he pauses to make a gesture between the two of them, an embarrassed smile on his lips, "Well, we're gonna have to try and navigate around the fact that you want to climb me like a tree about twenty times a day."
Pouting, Jungkook playfully corrects him, "Twenty-one times a day."
"Whatever the number," Namjoon laughs, "We'll fall into a routine soon enough, and you just need to realise that we can't risk stripping off in the kitchen for a quick fuck."
"Soon enough, I'll be getting blue ball syndrome," Jungkook laments, his pout still going strong when Namjoon lightly kisses his forehead.
"You're like a kid whose been told they can't play their video games unless they've eaten their broccoli," he laughs, poking him in the side which Jungkook yelps at.
"I've eaten my broccoli. I deserve my treats," he complains, running his fingers through his hair when Namjoon fixes him a judging look.
"You'll get them soon," Namjoon promises, scooping Jungkook into his arms, smooching him, "It'll be well worth the wait."
Jungkook remains sullenly quiet for a moment until something sparkles in his eyes, and he squares his shoulders, smirking at Namjoon when he mewls, "I will be well worth the wait."
19th March, 1989.
According to Yoongi, it was supposed to be a small affair, just a gathering of family and a few close friends. Yet, when Jungkook and Namjoon walk hand in hand with Sungki into the small venue, they're met with violinists, who they both bow to, walking to their seats on a bed of hundreds of rose petals scattered across the floor. Jungkook kicks at them, biting back a smirk when Namjoon leans into him, whispering, "Evidently Seokjin has no understanding of what, 'a small affair,' is."
The atmosphere isn't like the few weddings he's been to in the past. Typically there's an air of awkwardness between the two families and their friends, but with there being so few people, the conversation flows smoothly, feeling more like it's one of their game nights than the beginning of the rest of Yoongi and Seokjin's life together. When the pianist begins to play and everyone begins to rise, Namjoon finds that the space beside him is empty, until his gaze falls to Jungkook on his knees, fixing Sungki's small blue bowtie, whispering, "It won't take long. The man is just gonna ask your uncles to write some stuff down, we'll all cheer, and then you can go play with Yungmi and Myungok."
Those in question begin walking up through the audience, tossing more petals, larger than life smiles on their faces when they fumble for a moment once they reach the top of the room, unsure what to do next. Yoongi and Seokjin follow soon after, Seokjin locking eyes with Myungok and raising his eyebrows at her, Yoongi pulling a funny face at Yungmi who turns her body into her sister to hide.
It's a quick affair, nothing fancy like the decor suggests it should be, and after they sit and sign away themselves to each other with Yungmi on Yoongi's lap and Myungok on Seokjin's, Seokjin chucks the pen across the table, fist-bumping the air before exclaiming with glee, "I've tamed the beast!"
Laughter erupts at Yoongi's expense, who hides his face in Seokjin's chest, Seokjin kissing him when Myungok and Yungmi choose their distraction as an opportunity to escape, hightailing it towards where Sungki's seated, Pip and Snugs propped happily on his knee.
"Did you see the candy?" Yungmi gushes, oblivious to the weight of the day, focusing instead on the refreshments rather than on her fathers' unity.
Sungki glances at Jungkook who nudges him in encouragement. "Dad said we can take home as much as we like when your Grandma takes us home," Myungok quips.
"We've got our own little party area. There's toys and colouring books, and the cake looks so wonderful, you're gonna love it," Yungmi adds.
The mention of cake piques Sungki's interest, and he cranes his neck to glance from Namjoon to Jungkook before asking, shyly, "What flavour?"
"Chocolate," Yungmi and Myungok squeal in unison, Jungkook and Namjoon sharing a look of amusement when Yungmi shares, "Daddy wanted fruit cake but Dad said that only old people eat fruit cake."
"Hey," Namjoon interrupts, feathers ruffled, "I like fruit cake."
The three children make noises of disgust when Jungkook's arm wrap around Namjoon's waist, tone teasing when he murmurs, "You have got the palate of a pensioner."
He tries not to pout, but the whine in his tone is as clear as day when he grumbles, "I've just got sophisticated taste."
Manifesting out of thin air, like how Cinderella's fairy godmother would, Taehyung pops his head between the two, tone chipper when he shares, "God, you do."
As Yungmi and Myungok drag Sungki away towards the dining hall to sneakily swipe some frosting off of the cake, Namjoon turns to find Taehyung pointedly ogling Jungkook, a smirk tweaking at the corners of his lips when the latter rolls his eyes skywards, shoving at him before he links arms with Namjoon who takes his place in the long line that's gathered to congratulate the day's two grooms.
Namjoon watches as they bow umpteen times, taking people's hands into their own, their bright smiles falling when one person leaves, returning when another arrives, and as Namjoon catches Yoongi tugging at Seokjin's sleeve, a look of helplessness on his face, Namjoon titters. Jungkook follows his eye-line, his own laughter blending with Namjoon's when Yoongi's eyes find them in the queue, frown deep between his brow before Seokjin demands his attention, asking him to take some flowers an employee of theirs has brought them.
"Poor Yoongi. He didn't want to make a fuss, it's just bad luck that his husband is beloved far and wide."
He feels Jungkook's gaze on the side of his face, and he turns to him, raising a questioning eyebrow at his vacant expression.
"I've always thought lavish weddings to be tacky. It's almost like people compensate for the lack of genuine love between them by fluffing up the ceremony, putting on a show for outsiders to give them the impression that they have it all. If the deep love and respect is really there, keeping things simple and allowing the love to speak for itself should do. It's also a surefire way to avoid going bankrupt."
Nodding in contemplation, Namjoon rises onto his tip-toes to peek over the heads between them and the grooms, and as he lowers himself back down, he sighs, attention elsewhere, but heart very much honing in on one thing and one thing only. It just sort of slips from him, like how a gasp would when something surprising occurs, or how you'd cry out when you stub your toe, only, his tone is soft, sounding far-away, "I'll have to remember that for when we're planning ours."
He doesn't register the weight of his words, not when they finally reach the men of the hour, embracing them tightly, wishing them well, congratulating Yoongi on not looking like he wants to die. "Thanks," Yoongi murmurs, fiddling with the cuffs of his baby blue suit, a fashion choice that Seokjin had insisted on, "I can't tell you how many times people have told me to make the most out of the honeymoon period. According to seasoned divorcees, the time after that is equatable to armageddon."
"Never mind them," Seokjin clicks his tongue, bringing Yoongi in close to him, "We've known one another since before either of us learned how to ride a bike. We're well past that mythical, 'honeymoon period.'"
Namjoon smiles at the two, at their matching suits, at their coiffed hair, and then at the frown that forms on Seokjin's face as he juts his chin in Jungkook's direction. "What's up with you, lover-boy?"
Turning to him, Namjoon's smile falters upon noticing the paleness in Jungkook's complexion, his doe-eyes looking a lot like they'd just seen something they shouldn't.
He smiles tightly at Seokjin, eyes purposefully not meeting Namjoon's, "Sorry. I'm just so, so happy for you both that I don't quite know what to say."
"A simple 'congratulations,' is fine, kid. Don't think you've gotta come out with something Shakespearean like your boyfriend over here," Yoongi replies, peering at him strangely, eyes shifting to Namjoon who offers him a slight shrug of his shoulders.
Jungkook fixes himself, pulling his shoulders back, and he smiles but it doesn't seem quite as sincere as it should.
"Congratulations," he offers before turning to Namjoon, whispering, "I'm gonna go check on Sungki."
He leaves without waiting for a reply, legs carrying him like he's escaping a wildfire, and once he's disappeared out the doorway, Namjoon braces his palms on the desk, shoulders drooping and eyes falling shut. "I'm afraid I might've spooked him."
"How?" Seokjin pries before realisation washes over his features, and he mimics Namjoon's movements, bracing his hands on the table, leaning into Namjoon's space to whisper, "Leave him be for a while. Don't misconstrue him fleeing with his tail between his legs as being a form of rejection, he's just overwhelmed. Y'know, he's still young, Joon. He's not got the same experience we do."
"Whispering is rude. Tell me. What's happened?" Yoongi leans into their space, glancing between the two.
"I might've involuntarily proposed to Jungkook," Namjoon sighs, scrubbing at his forehead that feels as if new wrinkles have formed on it in mere seconds.
"Oh, you silly bastard."
"Not helping, honey," Seokjin lightly chastises, lightly shoving Yoongi away with his palm on his chest.
"Couldn't you have at least waited until we'd formed an evil plan involving the bouquet magically landing in his hands?" Yoongi asks.
"You don't even have bouquets," Namjoon points out, sighing in frustration at their conversation getting sidetracked.
"We could've got one," Yoongi defends, complaining when Seokjin physically moves him away from Namjoon by the shoulders, dropping him far off to the side so he can take Namjoon under his wing.
"Let him feel whatever he's feeling right now," Seokjin calms him, tone gentle and reassuring amidst the thoughts whirring through Namjoon's mind, "Don't ruin his night, because this is as much his as it is mine and Yoongi's."
That makes him stiffen. It's no secret that he'd planned their night, for theirs won't end after the guests retreat to their bedrooms in their drunken stupors. He'd discussed it with Seokjin, had gone into vivid detail, asking him where the best place is to get tested, how he'd broach the subject with Jungkook, what he should do when the moment finally presented itself. They both know it's happening, and it's been a long time coming, and with tensions running high and emotions on another plane of existence, Namjoon curses himself for allowing himself to overshoot the gravity of what he'd insinuated in such a passing, terse way.
"Today isn't about me whatsoever," Namjoon sighs, detesting the unintentional shift of attention to him and his abysmal attempt at romance, "Ignore me. Go back to your beloved husband and let your hair down." He glances around the room absentmindedly, stifling a laugh when he finds Yoongi standing in front of Taehyung's new beau mid-handshake.
Seokjin offers him a concerned look, hand coming to rest on Namjoon's shoulder. He leans into his space, tone barely audible when he says, "Go find your future husband and let your hair down."
He's left on his lonesome, eyes going dry from how long he stares vacantly ahead, thoughts whirring, mind racing, annoyance with himself rising. That simmering annoyance with himself is what carries him towards the dining hall, plucking from a waiter's tray a flute of champagne that disappears down his gullet faster than water. It goes down so fast that he has to duck behind a potted plant when his insides lurch, screaming at him in protest to the poison that travels through them.
Before he has time to rid himself of his breakfast, he feels a tapping on his shoulder.
He must look like hell, because Taehyung's face drops the moment he turns to smile weakly at him, dabbing politely at the corners of his lips when he bows towards Taehyung's date, muttering, "This is a rather daunting first date, don't you think? You're meeting the entire clan today."
They shake hands civilly, and Seojoon awkwardly rearranges his tie, glancing towards Taehyung helplessly.
"Well, we've already met," Seojoon points out needlessly, smiling when Taehyung's arm loops through his, "And I've only heard good things about you guys' pals."
Namjoon's eyebrows quirk, his stomach still uncomfortably unsettled when he murmurs, "What's he said about them, then? Probably that they're God's given angels."
"That, you're not," Taehyung refutes, furrowing his brow, eyes scrutinising Namjoon as his gaze drifts around the room distractedly. He removes his arm from Seojoon's as he pounces on Namjoon, fingers tight around his forearm when he hisses sharply, "Are you on something? Did you dip into Hoseok's shroom stash? Snap out of it."
"On something," Namjoon repeats, "I'm not, but boy do I wish I was."
"Compose yourself. Your best friends' wedding day is not the place to be having a nervous breakdown."
"Oh," Namjoon breathes, demeanour going slack when he whispers, "Maybe that's what's happening to me."
He spots Jungkook in the hall, beauty shining amongst unknown faces as he fiddles with a rubik's cube that Sungki's staring intently at, confusion blatant on his empty expression as the colours on the cube appear and disappear only to line up together in unison before getting knocked away again. He's staring, paying no mind to Taehyung and his date, and the sickness he'd been experiencing, the threat of a breakdown that he'd felt brewing in the dark recesses of his mind no longer feels like it's a danger to him.
He watches Jungkook laugh at Sungki's frustrated attempt at the cube, how his shoulders rise to his ears and his eyes scrunch, a sight so endearing Namjoon finds himself wanting to coo aloud. He pats Taehyung's arm, eyes still locked on Jungkook when he excuses himself, stating, "The breakdown's subsided. You're good, Taehyung, maybe counselling is your true calling."
Taehyung gapes at him but makes no attempt to make any sense of his rambling and strange behaviour.
He feels like a bat out of hell as he weaves through the guests, apologising profusely when he bumps into multiple people's seats in his haste. He doesn't know why he's in a hurry. He's looking at Jungkook, he can see that he's absorbed in conversation with Sungki, not going anywhere, but even as he approaches, it's like Jungkook's being stretched away from him. With each step he takes, the further away he seems.
"Daddy, Papa helped me solve it!" Sungki greets him with proud enthusiasm as he shoves the solved rubik's cube in his face.
He tears his eyes from Jungkook, not missing the way in which Jungkook's eyes fail to land on him, and he fiddles with the cube, heart racing so fast he feel it might stop as the colours blend in his vision to create a murky, vomit-coloured brown. He gives up after a few tries, handing it back to Sungki only for Jungkook to take it mid-exchange. He works fast, like it's something he does on the daily, lining the colours up with such smoothness that Namjoon finds he's enthralled by the brilliance of it.
"How the hell do you do that?" Namjoon asks, filled with wonder as Jungkook shrugs in a self-effacing manner.
"There's a knack to it," he explains unhelpfully, "Sungki's already got it down to a T."
Sungki holds the completed cube in the air, grinning proudly when Namjoon takes it from him, concentration on his brow as he messes with it, failing to get not so much as two colours aligned. Frustrated, he tosses it back to Jungkook who jolts, hands clumsy as it bounces in his palm before he gets a proper grip on it. Namjoon glances around the room, grinding his teeth, feeling beads of sweat forming on his forehead from the weight of Jungkook's trained eyes on him.
The DJ has taken his spot at the top of the hall, and as the music begins playing, Namjoon exhales heavily before he pulls Yungmi aside, asking her to keep an eye on Sungki before he reaches down for Jungkook's hand, tugging him up without warning. He leads him away from the saturation of guests, past Yoongi and Seokjin who throw him questioning looks, past Taehyung who dislodges himself from Seojoon to get a better view of where Namjoon's scurrying off to.
Out on the veranda, the clouds gather across the sky, hiding the sun from them. Leaning against the railing, Jungkook tries to find the shy sun, but the clouds have taken on a grey, ominous colour. Namjoon paces to and fro behind him, cursing that champagne he'd had as he tries desperately to navigate through the fog that's in his mind. "It's going to rain soon," Jungkook comments tonelessly.
Namjoon's pacing stops. He joins Jungkook, standing alongside him as he squints up at the foreboding clouds. Some rays peak through the fluffy clouds, and he follows the line of one of them before he allows himself a peek at Jungkook. His expression is unreadable, lips soft, hair perfectly preened, and with his eyes focused on Jungkook's lips he begins, voice taut, "I didn't mean to scare you."
"You didn't scare me," Jungkook answers, not missing a beat.
"Your fleeing like a thief in the night really doesn't tell me that I didn't scare you."
Jungkook's gaze falls on him, and he seems apologetic, softness in his eyes when he explains, "I'm scaring myself."
The tenseness in Namjoon's shoulders ease, and he angles his body towards Jungkook, eyebrows upturned in concern, "There's nothing to be afraid of."
"There's so much to be afraid of," Jungkook remarks, his laughter snide, "You never know what the future holds."
"Our future holds hope," he insists, palm resting tentatively on Jungkook's, "I don't know what it is that scares you. If it's about Sungki, about some uncertainty you have in our relationship, whatever it is, tell me."
"I never thought I'd get married," he bulldozes ahead, paying no heed to Namjoon's words, "I convinced myself when I'd got my heart broken for the first time that it was just never something that'd be on the horizon for me. Now that it is on the horizon, I'm left feeling inferior, like I'm not worth being bound to another."
"You're so naive," Namjoon scoffs gently, head hanging from his shoulders when he feels Jungkook's frightened eyes land on him, "You have no idea, no grasp on how helplessly and utterly in love with you I am. I wouldn't have made that remark if I wasn't ready to give my life to you. I've envisioned it all. The day trips, the Summer nights, the good times, the bad times, the arguments, the intimate moments. They all play on a loop in my head in black and white. You don't have to live up to this image of you that my brain's created. Just be you, embrace your anger, your sadness, your happiness, embrace it all and let me experience it with you. I want nothing more than to be there with you for the rest of your life, seeing how you evolve, witnessing where this world takes you."
He remains pensively silent for a moment, and Namjoon watches him quietly, thumb stroking the back of his hand.
"It's a big commitment."
"It is," Namjoon agrees through a small smile, welcoming Jungkook into his space when he leans into him, desperate for consolation. Nuzzling Jungkook's hair, he sighs, "If I ask you and you feel like you're not ready, don't hesitate for one second to say no."
Taken aback, Jungkook lifts his head. They level one another's gaze, Jungkook's torn when he whispers in disbelief, "I could never."
"You could. Don't say yes just to satiate me. If you're not ready to be my forever, then I'm willing to wait until you are," Namjoon soothes, pressing his lips to Jungkook's forehead. He bites back a tickled yet nervous grin, "I give you permission to decline my hand in marriage."
Jungkook simply blinks at him, lips parted in shock before he wraps his arms around Namjoon's waist, burrowing his face into his chest.
"I mean it," Namjoon continues, swaying them from side to side, fingers locked behind Jungkook's back, "What's the point in saying yes when there's even so much as a niggling of doubt in the back of your mind?" He pauses, a chuckle threatening to escape him when he posits the ridiculous, jocular question, "Jeon Jungkook. Will you not-marry me?"
Jungkook lifts his head, the corners of his lips tweaking when he drags his eyes from Namjoon's eyes to his lips, a noise of petulance sounding from him before he pulls Namjoon to him, entire line of his body lining up perfectly with Namjoon's. His hands roam up and down Namjoon's back as he hums absently into the material of Namjoon's starched shirt.
He offers Jungkook a comforting smile, one that Jungkook returns before his ear's prick, his gaze getting drawn back towards the party that's getting progressively more rowdy. Walking inside hand in hand, those who were watching them leave before with worried looks in their eyes now greet them with winks and smiles, Hoseok going the extra mile when he stands from his seat to fist bump Jungkook, hollering, "I hope you're ready to get out on this dance floor. We need to get up there first. Others will soon follow after they've had a smidgen more champagne."
At that, Namjoon balks. Jungkook whips his head around, face filled with excited glee before he immediately starts dragging Namjoon towards the dance floor. He digs his heels into the floor, whining when Jimin joins them, hands on Jungkook's waist as he helps guide him around the tables, giggling uncontrollably at Namjoon's pleas.
Jimin and Hoseok are the first to take centre stage. They saunter around the empty floor, Hoseok leading Jimin, wolf whistling at him when he begins moving his hips, Jimin shyly giggling when Hoseok points at him before his gaze shifts to Jungkook and Namjoon. He fans himself, flapping at his collar playfully before Jimin shoves at him, cheeks red and previous confidence gone before Hoseok pulls him flush against him, bottom lip caught between his teeth as Jimin melts with ease against him.
Standing on the sidelines, Namjoon and Jungkook watch on, the disco light above them casting bright dots over their bodies and the room. Jimin and Hoseok manage to detangle themselves from one another for one moment, and they advance on Jungkook like preying vultures. They attempt to pull him into their antics, but he plants his feet into the floor, Namjoon shooting him a questioning look before Jimin drags Hoseok over to antagonise the DJ who's refusing to play anything outside of his stale playlist.
It takes some of Jimin's honed flirtation techniques, and Namjoon's sure he saw him slip the guy a few notes before the music's more palatable and less like it should be played at a fiftieth birthday party. The music thrums, its vibrations felt in his chest, and he turns to Jungkook, eyebrow quirked as he bumps him with his hip.
"Go out and join them," he encourages, surprised to find Jungkook remaining in place, arms crossed and teeth gnawing his inner cheek.
He casts his gaze back to the dance floor that's empty, save for its two enthusiastic occupants who are making apt use of the space, swinging each other around. Scratching at his temple, Jungkook murmurs, "They're doing pretty well out there by themselves."
He can beg to disagree. Hoseok's pulling some questionable moves, ones that are most definitely not suitable for the older relatives watching, and Jimin's doing his best impression of a gigolo, using the length of Hoseok's body to his advantage. He pulls his eyes from the spectacle slowly, head tilting as he regards Jungkook with perplexity, a laugh in his words when he exclaims, "Their dancing is undoubtedly poisoning the eyes of some of these innocent onlookers, go and tame them."
He gives him a gentle shove, but he quickly rights himself, concern on his brow when Jungkook seemingly shrinks, his eyes wide as he peers at Namjoon through his fallen bangs, his hair gel having failed to hold them up during the day's adventures. "Don't tell me you've got cold feet. You? The same guy who waltzes around at home jamming unabashedly to NKTB when he's fresh out the shower?"
"That's different," Jungkook defends, tone pouty, "It's only you at home. There's... Other people watching."
Namjoon glances around at these, 'other people.' They're not judgmental people. If Yoongi and Seokjin consider them worthy enough to attend such a special day of theirs, he's sure they're all just as kind and welcoming as them, but Jungkook remains adamant in his exclusion. "You're funny, you are," Namjoon teases, wrapping an arm around Jungkook's shoulders, who stiffly leans into him, "Your dancing's easily on par with Hoseok's, and hell, he's a trained professional. That's saying something."
As the song fades and a new one begins, it fills Namjoon's ears, its volume and vibrations filling every part of him as he watches Hoseok and Jimin's moves become less erotic and more like how a teenage girl would dance around in the privacy of her bedroom to her favourite pop idol. He watches them jump, wide smiles gracing their features as joy wraps itself around their hearts, and he flexes his fingers around Jungkook's shoulder, pursing his lips as he fruitlessly fights the urge to throw himself forward.
Fruitless it is, because he quickly lifts his arm from Jungkook, standing in front of him as he gently takes his hand, a small, mischievous smirk on his lips when he pulls Jungkook forward who blinks at him in confusion. With his feet still cemented in place, Namjoon releases his hand, inching forward, lips inches from Jungkook's when he mewls, "Dance your face off, baby."
His inhibitions are forgotten, insecurity non-existent as he begins moving slightly out of tempo, relishing in the shocked expression on Jungkook's face that quickly melts into amusement. He doesn't care how silly he probably looks, or about who in the crowd might be watching him with judging eyes, the look on Jungkook's face, the twinkle in his big eyes is what he focuses on, falling into it as he moves his hips, walking backwards, hands moving in tune to the beat.
The brighter the twinkle in Jungkook's eyes shines, the more courage swells Namjoon's chest. He twirls, outstretching his arms as Hoseok and Jimin realise they've got a partner, their hands poking him everywhere before they all huddle together, jumping around like they're teenagers again that don't have the worries of adulthood sitting heavily on their shoulders. Throwing his head back, he gazes up at the twinkling disco ball, and he feels airy, like he's been reborn, like the world has yet to creep its darkness into his ageing bones.
More people find their courage, and soon the dance floor has a healthy number of people bopping about. When Jimin and Hoseok turn to one another, Namjoon cranes his neck, eyes searching wildly for Jungkook who he finds standing on the sidelines, soft eyes trained on Namjoon as he weaves his way through the crowd, avoiding some guests' over-exuberant dance moves before he stops in front of Jungkook.
It's Jungkook this time who takes Namjoon's hand, walking him backwards, back under the disco ball where he wraps himself around Namjoon, tucking his head in cosily beneath his chin as Namjoon's arms engulf him, eyes closing as the music blares through the hall. They sway, ignoring the pace of the song, the egregious moves that some people around them are throwing, and when Jungkook lifts his head, with his eyes that Namjoon fears he might sink into, he blinks at Namjoon, a glassiness in his pupils when he rises onto his tip-toes, tone thick as his lips brush Namjoon's ear, "How long until we can retreat upstairs?"
The lights bounce off of Jungkook's skin, his gaze firm as Namjoon swallows thickly, palm resting on the small of Jungkook's back when he glances around at the festivities, trying to gauge the likelihood in him being missed if he were to promptly leave. Jungkook's hold on his hips is tight, fingers digging into the softness of Namjoon's flesh as he watches Hoseok and Jimin beyond his shoulder, Taehyung having now joined their escapades.
"We should stick around a little bit longer," Namjoon decides, watching the immediate pout form on Jungkook's lips before he rests his head back on Namjoon's chest.
"As pathetic as this might sound, I fear I might implode if I wait any longer."
Clicking his tongue, Namjoon softly chastises him, "Go to your happy place. The longer you wait, the more benefits you'll reap."
"This is my happy place," Jungkook grumbles, jolting when one of the guests bumps into him, shoving him up against Namjoon, "Anywhere you are, that's my happy place."
He smiles at him, cooing in a teasing way when he lifts his hand to boop Jungkook's nose. "You are so very adorable when you don't get what you want."
"I'd swear you're purposefully depriving me of you."
"How very brave of you to think for even one second that I'm capable of resisting you," he purrs, humming in appreciation when Jungkook moves his hips just so, a tactic meant to shake Namjoon, which it does, and that itch, that heat beneath his skin feels all the more unquenchable when Jungkook begins to lightly mouth along the column of his neck, noises far too vulgar for the innocence of the action. "Given how smothering you are, resistance is entirely out of the question."
He makes a delighted noise against Namjoon's clavicle, teeth scraping along the protruding bone, "Have me here."
"That'd be a great memento for Seokjin and Yoongi's family and friends. The story of the two weirdos going at it in the middle of their first dance."
"It'd be a story they'd pass down through generations," Jungkook smirks, lips now moving along his jaw, nose jabbing into Namjoon's cheek.
He can feel himself slipping, tipping precariously close to being completely and utterly gone for, his whole focus trained on the feel of Jungkook's lips, the cooling of his saliva on his skin, the teasing movements of his fingertips tracing the waistband of his slacks. The only thing that yanks him out of his reverie is Taehyung and friends' whooping when they glide their way over, shaking Jungkook by the shoulders who drops his face into his hands, body getting tossed between the three before Namjoon reaches between the foray, rescuing him.
"Sorry for ruining the moment," Hoseok offers through a smile that suggests there's no sorry bone in his body.
"It had to be done," Jimin laments, hanging from Hoseok and Taehyung's shoulders, his body swaying from the several shots Namjoon had caught him swigging at the bar, "You made us feel left out."
"Spare me," Namjoon scoffs, hand curving across Jungkook's waist who buries his face in the crook of his neck, "You've all got one another."
"He's pulling your arm. Jimin wanted to come over and gauge the tension."
Jimin jabs his elbow into Taehyung's side, making a face of betrayal at him whilst Hoseok giggles off to the side, eyes alighting when he finds Yoongi and Seokjin joining them, Yoongi looking like he's had a generous taste of the venue's liquor and Seokjin looking blissed out of his mind. "Stop arguing," Seokjin chides, gaze pointedly fixed on Jimin who glances between them all in an affronted manner, arms folding peevishly, "I'm not being the mediator today. Today's my day off from you fools' bullshit."
"We weren't arguing," Hoseok defends, lips zipping when Seokjin wags a finger in his face.
"Listen to the man," Yoongi advises, gazing upon Seokjin with unabashed admiration, "He's just had to greet all of my elderly relatives who each took at least ten minutes introducing themselves."
"How do they speak so much when you speak so little?" Seokjin asks offhandedly, seeming spent as he stares at a spot on the floor before Taehyung clicks his fingers in his face, gesturing up towards the DJ booth, and Namjoon witnesses, with glee, the exact moment when Yoongi's soul floats up to heaven.
"First dance time," Taehyung wiggles his eyebrows at Yoongi who snarls back at him.
"This isn't your traditional, run-of-the-mill wedding, I don't understand why we have to do this," Yoongi mopes.
"I'm a sentimental shell of a man who carries not only my own hopeless romantic tendencies on my shoulders, but yours too. C'mon, honey. Take my hand."
Seokjin dramatically steps away from the group as the saxophone begins blasting through the hall, the guests parting much how like the sea did for Moses, and with the seven of them left in the middle of the dance floor, Yoongi throws them all a wilting look as the DJ introduces them. They all shuffle onto the sidelines, Jungkook suppressing a giggle when Seokjin yanks Yoongi against him, the force of the action getting remedied by a tender kiss he plants on Yoongi's cheek.
Yoongi keeps his head bowed, no doubt in an attempt to hide his scarlet cheeks when Hoseok and Taehyung begin whistling at them, throwing good-natured remarks their way as they slowly move across the dance floor. "Should've gotten me to play the sax," Taehyung grumps, seeking solace in Seojoon's arms when Jimin informs him of his overall lack of practice with the instrument.
With his hand in Jungkook's, Namjoon decides Yoongi and Seokjin have waltzed around long enough for people to start joining them, and he steps from the carpet onto the floor, gently pulling Jungkook with him who raises his eyebrows at him. He joins him with no protests, and when Hoseok, Jimin, Taehyung and his beau follow in-turn, Jungkook whets his lips, glancing nervously around them before he whispers, "What do we do? Just... Move slowly?"
"Have you never slow danced before?" Namjoon asks, surprised as he instructs Jungkook to raise his arm, interlocking their fingers together, "Just follow my lead."
"If Yoongi can do it, so can I," Jungkook assures, smile faltering imperceptibly when Namjoon brings him closer, hand on the small of Jungkook's back when he tells him to put his free hand across his shoulders. They fumble a bit, with Jungkook stepping on Namjoon's toes thrice, apologising profusely each time before they fall into a rhythm, allowing themselves time to get wrapped up in the energy around them, one that's filled with affinity, with a sense of forever.
They pass by Yoongi and Seokjin, and with their respective partners' heads bowed, Seokjin and Namjoon share smiles, something that sounds normal, only their faces, the looks in their eyes say otherwise. Seokjin looks content, more content than Namjoon's ever seen him, and he's not sure if it's his brain tricking him, but the glow that emanates from him is one that Namjoon's jealous of.
He loses them in the crowd, and resting his cheek against Jungkook's head, Namjoon shuts his eyes, hoping to better imprint this moment in his memory.
"You've gotten the hang of it. Did you never go to a school dance?"
Jungkook snuggles up against him, sighing slowly before he hums, indicating his denial. "I never had a reason to go."
Namjoon blows a raspberry, "I'm sure you had everyone grovelling at your feet. Probably too much choice, was it? Didn't wanna disappoint anyone so you just decided to blow the joint altogether?"
"You think far too highly of me," Jungkook quips, lifting his head to meet Namjoon's gaze, "No-one ever asked me."
"It's true," Jungkook laughs, more as a way to alleviate his own embarrassment than at Namjoon, "You don't understand. I was a dork in secondary school, nothing like who I am today. Girls, boys, no-one looked my way. I was just another face in the crowd. The acne didn't help, either."
"Your acne's cute," Namjoon coos, driving his opinion home by lightly kissing over the faint scars on his cheeks.
"Tell that to the girl I asked to the Spring dance," Jungkook scoffs at the memory, "I wrote her a letter, sprayed it with some of my mother's perfume, sealed it with a heart sticker and slipped it into her locker."
Namjoon waits for him to continue, but growing impatient, he rushes to ask, "She said no after all of your young self's effort?"
He shakes his head, and Namjoon cocks his head, studying Jungkook quietly, "She didn't say yes or no. I never heard anything from her. She ended up going with someone on the swimming team."
"Well. That swimmer had nothing on you, sweet cheeks," he presses a wet kiss onto his lips, taking Jungkook by surprise as he quietens his own startled giggle. Holding his hand to his lips, his eyes crinkle as Namjoon continues to lay on the compliments, "They didn't realise that by having you in their classes, that they were in the presence of an angel. A being sent from the creator of beauty who they just couldn't kept hidden in their universe anymore. He needed to be seen. Why they decided it was me who'd get to have him though, now that's perplexing."
"Shut up," Jungkook fondly begs, eyes getting dragged from Namjoon when the people around them begin clapping. He joins them, empty look on his face like he'd momentarily forgotten where they were, and Namjoon stands tall in front of him, eyes trained on him, at his doe eyes glancing around, computing the information around them, and when they fall on Namjoon, he stops mid-clap, eyes wide and glistening.
Namjoon simply smiles at him, ignoring the crowd as it disperses, the shouts from Hoseok about how everyone should do a shot of tequila.
All he sees is Jungkook.
He doesn't have to say anything. Jungkook begins walking by himself, fingers touching off of Namjoon's as he brushes past him, leading the way, weaving through seats and people, bowing to elders and giving his thanks to the waiters who stand at the door, their trays of champagne now empty.
With him a few steps of stairs ahead, Namjoon follows him, his heart hammering in his chest as he grips the bannister, watching Jungkook's slow ascent. In the landing sits some lit candles in a flower arrangement which Namjoon briefly fears could be a fire hazard as he watches the flames dance when Jungkook passes them by, one dancing wildly before it eventually goes out.
He brandishes the key from his pocket, shoulders tensing as he leans past Jungkook to push it open, and upon entering, they're both hit with a cool breeze drifting in from the balcony. He sits himself at the edge of the bed, undoing his cuffs, toeing out of his shoes as Jungkook wordlessly walks out onto the balcony, hands shoved deep into his pockets.
The very air between them feels charged, like if he were to light a match an explosion would follow. Wiggling his socked toes against the carpet, leaning back on his palms, Namjoon casts his gaze out towards Jungkook whose attention is drawn to the vast sky above. He swallows audibly and then has a quiet word with himself, like he's about to give a speech after he'd just been elected student of the year. Chucking his suit jacket onto the desk, he saunters out onto the balcony, eyes bugging when the last wintry wind blows at him.
Arriving beside Jungkook, he folds his arms, directing his gaze up at the stars that Jungkook's enraptured by.
"How many do you think are up there?" comes Jungkook's soft, awed voice.
His blood roars in his ears as he mulls over the question, humming, "Too many to ever even count."
Attention remaining rapt on the twinkling masses of light, Jungkook begins to blow up towards them, amusing Namjoon who sniggers.
"They're like billions of little candlelights," Jungkook explains tonelessly, "If one dies, it gives life to more, even brighter stars."
"Are you trying to blow out the stars?" Namjoon ventures incredulously, wonder-filled gaze boring into the side of Jungkook's face.
He shrugs his shoulders, head dipping to hide his bashful smirk before muttering, "They'll create something more beautiful if they die."
"Supernovae," Namjoon offers, still enchanted by Jungkook's intriguing wavelength, by him himself.
"They must get lonely up there. Inarguably, there must be something else up there with them. To think that it's just us pitiful humans in this universe would be ignorant."
"Life as a star isn't so bad," Namjoon opines, glancing briefly down at Jungkook's hand gripping the railing before he covers it tentatively with his own, "They've got us 'pitiful humans,' gazing up at them nightly, growing envious of their beauty, missing them in places where smog and fumes forbid them from being visible."
He's met with a soft smile, Jungkook's eyes bright even in the darkness, and he feels as if he's under some spell, like every fibre of his being is being gripped by an invisible source, hold so tight he fears he might suffocate. "Maybe I shouldn't try blowing them out, then."
He returns Jungkook's tickled smile, thumb stroking Jungkook's hand when he nods, "It's best you leave them be."
His gaze remains fixed on Namjoon for a moment before he wordlessly turns on his heels, hands wringing as he heads indoors, not checking to see if Namjoon's following him. He follows slowly, fingers flexing and un-flexing when Jungkook stops in the middle of the bedroom, glancing around at his surroundings; the floor, ceiling, television set, the bed. Namjoon holds back, standing in the doorway, making the most of the cool breeze, knowing fully well that he'll soon be burning up.
He gets startled by the rustling of trees, the flapping of wings, and as he glances over his shoulder, he blinks at two ravens precariously perched on a branch, wings touching, beady eyes inspecting Namjoon, wondering whether he's friend or foe. One turns to begin preening the other's feathers, poking its beak into its jet-black feathers, the latter lifting its wings to help its friend get to the hard to reach places. He watches them for a moment before the wind howls, shaking the branch they're perched on, and before he can watch the two fly away, he hurries inside, pulling the door closed behind him.
Jungkook's inspecting his fingernails, paying no mind to Namjoon who undoes his navy bowtie by the door. Flinging it onto the nightstand, he draws the flimsy curtains that he's sure will welcome in every ray of sunshine come morning light, and with the stars now hidden, he shifts his focus to Jungkook whose hands haven't stopped wringing, and Namjoon's heart simultaneously sinks and soars when he spies the slight tremble in his digits.
He approaches him like how you would a baby deer, slowly, daring not to make a single, sudden sound, and once close, he folds his hands over Jungkook's. His eyes find Namjoon's, cheeks flushed with nervousness, his lips chewed to pieces and his eyes big, their pupils darting across Namjoon's face, searching for what, Namjoon isn't sure.
"Did you know that one star shines brighter than all of the others in the sky?"
With a jittery nod, Jungkook shares, "Sirius."
Pulling a face of contemplation, Namjoon studies him, eyes squinting as he leans back to inspect Jungkook from top to bottom before he shakes his head.
"Nope," Namjoon smiles toothlessly, chancing his luck by trailing his hands down Jungkook's waist. He stifles an even wider smile when he offers, softly, "You."
Jungkook's nervous disposition crumbles in an instant. His eyes roll to the heavens and he serves Namjoon a wilting stare before informing, lowly, "You're corny."
"I'm not wrong though," he defends, "Those stars you were ogling, they're all jealous of you."
He doesn't lift his head, and Namjoon feels a pang in his chest when he watches as Jungkook brings his palms up to rest on his chest.
Ducking his head, trying to draw Jungkook's gaze to his, he softly asks, "'You okay?" Jungkook draws shapes against Namjoon's shirt, nodding unconvincingly. Squeezing his hips, Namjoon's voice struggles to go above a whisper as he requests, "Look at me, baby."
Not one to disregard orders, his eyes find Namjoon, blinking to rid the tendrils of hair from his eyelashes.
"Is this what you want?" he ventures, breath strangely trapped in his lungs.
"Yes," Jungkook breathes, demeanour changing alarmingly fast, big eyes holding something dark and enticing in them.
He pushes Jungkook's wayward hair off of his forehead, noting the clamminess of his forehead. "Don't be scared."
"Are you happy?"
"I never knew a happiness like this existed."
Reassured, Namjoon breathes in slowly, chest brimming with warmth as he raises his arms, fingers beginning to work slowly on Jungkook's tie, a slight tremor in them. Tugging it out from his suit jacket, he fixes it before he hesitates a glance at Jungkook who looks as if he's struggling to stay afloat. He pulls on it, loosening the tie before he lifts it over Jungkook's head. It joins his own discarded bow tie before he intently focuses on pushing Jungkook's jacket off of his shoulders. He undoes the buttons of Jungkook's shirt, inch by inch revealing his syrup-coloured skin, and the soft inhale of breath Jungkook takes fills Namjoon's very core with heat.
Tugging the tails of his shirt out from his slacks, Namjoon bends, eyes fluttering closed when his lips make contact with Jungkook's skin. They trail over his clavicles, dipping low to his sternum, hands rising to rest on his pectorals, the hardened nubs of his brown nipples poking into his palms as he lightly squeezes, eliciting from Jungkook a high noise that slips from the back of his throat.
He cradles Namjoon's head, fingers sending his hairspray-hard hair into disarray as he takes a fistful of it, pulling, one foot catching him when he stumbles slightly. He burrows his nose in Namjoon's hair as the latter rakes his teeth over the swell of his pec before his tongue circles around Jungkook's areola, the action seemingly so minuscule but so impactful. Jungkook holds Namjoon close, burying his face further into his chest, lips wrapping around the small bud, humming when Jungkook answers him with an enthusiastically surprised gasp.
Namjoon shifts attention to the other, this time looking up at Jungkook as he swirls his tongue, its tip lethargically licking at the solid nub, and the sight of Jungkook is enough for Namjoon to emit a muffled, drawn-out groan, one that holds in it months of frustration, of yearning. Jungkook's hair hangs in his eyes that seem distant, glassy, lips parted like he can't process what's transpiring before him. A rose-coloured flush pinches his cheeks, burning brighter when Namjoon falls unceremoniously to his knees, hands rising to rest on the outside of Jungkook's thighs as he leans into them, burying his face into the muscular circumference of them.
He tries to calm his breathing, the butterflies that are in a frenzy in the pit of his stomach, and his hands roam up and down Jungkook's thighs before he leans back on his hunkers, hands coming to rest calmly on his lap as he cranes his neck to gaze adoringly up at what's quickly become his world. He's like a mythical, otherworldly thing, like a fairy that escaped from its fairy fort after realising that the world held too much in it for him to be trapped in a circle of forest. His beauty is unexplainable. Namjoon's often tried to put it into words, but no words in any language will ever suffice.
When Jungkook hugs himself, bare torso no doubt feeling the oncoming Spring's chill, Namjoon exhales slowly, a small mystified smile on his lips.
"Do you know hard it is to fathom that someone as beautiful as you exists on this abysmal planet?" he rasps, chest tightening when Jungkook shyly ducks his head.
"Don't say things like that. It embarrasses me."
Namjoon rises to his feet, knees protesting strongly, and when he's at eye-level with Jungkook, he takes hold of his chin, the gesture gentle, eyes intense and filled with solemnity before he kisses Jungkook's rosy cheek. "You're so beautiful, baby," he reminds thickly, his tone low, close to rumbling, "I'm gonna remind you of how beautiful you are every single day." He punctuates the last words with kisses that he presses everywhere, from his cheeks, to the tip of his nose, to his forehead.
"If you don't stick to that promise, you've gotta face repercussions," Jungkook husks, cheeky smirk assisting his playful words.
Promptly ending the kisses, Namjoon frowns at him, "What sort of repercussions?"
"I don't know," Jungkook innocently sings, a giggle lodging itself in his throat when Namjoon pokes at his waist. Once Namjoon's pulled him in close, he mouths along the column of Jungkook's neck, purposefully sucking hard in hope that tomorrow, he'll see traces of himself, of what they did. "You'll have to show me how beautiful you think I am."
"Tell me, what would that entail?"
"Anything," Jungkook offers, like Namjoon isn't catching onto the hidden salacious nature to these 'consequences.' "It could be done by you making me a cup of tea, doing my laundry, giving me a foot massage. Though, personally I'd prefer if it centred more around you having me laid bare on the bed, but whatever, it's up to you."
Namjoon growls into his skin, hips tight against Jungkook's as he rolls into them, meeting Jungkook's own sharp inhale of breath with his own.
"That doesn't seem like a repercussion."
"It is if you think about how hard I'd want you to give it to me. By the time you're done with me, your muscles will be screaming at you," Jungkook boldly drawls, drawing his bottom lip between his teeth when Namjoon's two hands squeeze his asscheeks, pulling their hips even firmer together.
Before he can walk Jungkook back towards the bed, they lock lips, Jungkook's teeth nipping harder as he mumbles sweet nothings, some nonsensical, others perfectly understandable. He makes quick work of Namjoon's belt, yanking it from around his waist, palm pressing hard onto Namjoon's growing erection, and Namjoon keens, bottom lip caught between Jungkook's teeth as who hums in satisfaction, rubbing Namjoon's clothed cock, helping it grow to its full hardness.
Embarrassingly, Namjoon tries to speak but only garbled words come out, and he presses the heel of his palm to his lips, narrowing his eyes at Jungkook's euphoric grin.
"It's incredible, witnessing you being rendered speechless," he jests, palm pressing into the bulbous shape of the head of Namjoon's cock.
"Count your blessings. Soon you're gonna be the one who's mute," Namjoon warns, less jokingly than Jungkook before he grips his wrist, raising it between them, his dark eyes piercing Jungkook's when he begins walking them backwards, relishing in the pleasant look of surprise on Jungkook's face as he ungraciously falls onto the bed. Having the advantage of height on his side, Namjoon cards his fingers through Jungkook's hair, exhaling slowly as Jungkook presses his head up into his hand, eyes shut as his hands blindly reach out to begin opening the buttons of Namjoon's shirt.
He's less nimble than Namjoon was, the tremors in his fingers proving to be an obstacle as Namjoon rushes to finish the final few buttons, hurriedly casting it aside. Inching forward on the bed, Jungkook bats his lashes as he gazes up at him whilst he unbuttons Namjoon's slacks, dropping his gaze only to observe the prominent outline of his length in his boxers before he tentatively pulls them down, a high noise leaving him when Namjoon guides him forward with a hand on the back of his head, urging him to taste.
Jungkook's noises are downright crude, desperate and whiny in nature as he laps at Namjoon's cock, making it very difficult for Namjoon to keep his knees from buckling.
He takes him like a champion, swallowing him down his throat like he's trying to prove something, doing it so much that Namjoon has to tap his shoulder amidst his shimmering cloud of pleasure to ask if he's alright. With red eyes and swollen lips, all Jungkook musters is an impish half-smirk before he returns to his ministrations, circling his tongue around the sensitive head, the vibrations of his groan around Namjoon's cock sending Namjoon into a full-body spasm, torso bowing forward when Jungkook's hand joins his mouth to better satiate him.
It's far too much far too soon, and he can feel himself happily succumbing to the threat of release, and so, steps away from Jungkook, watching with growing glee when Jungkook's glassy eyes remain fixed on his saliva-covered hardness. His gaze eventually rises to fix Namjoon with a pout that steadfastly falls when Namjoon mewls, tone rumbling as he moves closer to Jungkook, "Your turn."
Whatever gall Jungkook once had dissipates as soon as it had presented itself. He's a peculiar thing, Namjoon thinks as he straddles Jungkook's lap, rolling his hips down against him, eliciting from him those trademark whines of his. He can be insufferably self-assured one moment, cocky even, and it only takes a split second for his entire disposition to change. He becomes small, shy like a lamb that's trying to navigate the world for the first time without its mother. Jungkook's like a challenge that he wishes to conquer, and it's thrilling to Namjoon.
As he lies there with a dazed, starry look on his face whilst Namjoon nuzzles his nose against the bulge in his slacks, Namjoon makes it his silent mission to drag Jungkook out of his shell. He's about to pull Jungkook from his slacks, but he gets stopped, and upon lifting his head, he finds Jungkook blinking rapidly at him, rosy cheeks making him look very much like a cherub angel.
Raising his eyebrows at him in question, Namjoon sits back on Jungkook's thighs.
Jungkook's eyes dart to and fro, lips pursed in thought before he explains, quietly, "You've never done this before."
It takes Namjoon all of his might to not laugh in Jungkook's face. "What's given you that impression? Is my technique that bad?"
"No," Jungkook hurries, pushing himself up onto his elbows, "I don't mean in general. I mean, to me. You've never done this to me before."
His mouth pops open in confusion, fingertips idly tapping on Jungkook's thighs when he begins, slowly, "And I'm very much anticipating doing this to you, baby. What's wrong, hey? You have gotten your dick sucked before, correct?"
He doesn't expect to be met with a face of shame, or to hear the hurried, disbelieving words of Jungkook's affirmation, "Duh. It's just, it's been a while."
"How long's, 'a while?'" Namjoon interrogates, crossing his arms over his bare chest as he watches Jungkook's entire complexion pale.
Averting his gaze from Namjoon, staring intently up at the ceiling, Jungkook frowns, pondering. "I was sixteen."
"Oh," Namjoon deadpans, but he's begun to get an inkling, one that has his heart sinking, and he tries to broach the topic gently so as not to spook Jungkook. He slides off of him, planting himself instead along the line of Jungkook's body, welcoming Jungkook's head onto his chest as Jungkook snuggles in close to him. "Five years is nothing in comparison to how long it's been for me. No need to fret, petal."
"I don't want my inexperience to taint tonight, is all," Jungkook mopes, circling the pad of his index finger around Namjoon's nipple.
Feeling like his inkling's not so much an inkling, but more a fact, with his lips pressed to Jungkook's forehead, Namjoon inhales softly, trying to keep his tone as comforting and gentle as he can when he questions, as far from accusing as he possibly can, "Have you had sex before, baby?"
The way Jungkook seizes up beneath his touch is enough of an answer.
A few silent seconds pass them by before Jungkook timidly explains, "I've done a lot. With girls, with guys."
Manoeuvring himself up onto his elbow so he can gaze down at Jungkook, he tucks his hair behind his ears, smiling warmly at him before he gently ventures, "So, you've done a lot. Am I right in assuming that you've never gone all the way with someone?"
He's picking at his hangnails, doing all he can to avoid Namjoon's stare, like he's afraid that if they did lock eyes, that he'd be met with anger, mockery, even.
"You would be right in assuming that," Jungkook weakly agrees, worrying the life out of his bottom lip.
Heaving a long-suffering sigh, he scoops Jungkook up into his arms, kissing him gently on the cheek before sighing, "I wish you would've told me."
"It's embarrassing," Jungkook defends, legs wrapped around Namjoon's like a koala.
"It shouldn't be," Namjoon counters, stroking his thigh, "If you'd told me sooner, maybe I wouldn't have gone into this all guns blazing. I would've taken the time to ensure you were ready, maybe would've even arranged for it to happen somewhere romantic, not in the hotel room of my best friends' wedding."
"That's exactly why I didn't say anything. I don't want it to be an extravagant affair."
"I won't make a big deal out of it if that's what you want. Everybody's done it, granted, some have come out of it with horror stories, but in the grand scheme of things, it's just sex."
"Right," Namjoon laughs at Jungkook's student-like parroting. "And it's—?"
"Not a big deal," he finishes, tone mocking when he squeezes in closer to Namjoon, groaning into his chest. "Has the mood been ruined?" he teases, grunting when Jungkook comes to life, seating himself comfortably on Namjoon's thighs with his palms braced on his chest.
Wiggling his hips, face lighting up when Namjoon stills him by the hips, a warning glare in his eyes when Jungkook drops forward, chests together as he drawls, hips rolling, "Doesn't feel like the mood's been ruined."
They share a kiss, one that's surprisingly tender, lacking the hunger that Namjoon fears might burst from his heart, and with Jungkook now subdued, he takes the upper-hand, gently flipping them over so he's on top, crawling down Jungkook's torso, peppering kisses over the bumps of his ribs, the juts of his hipbones, around the trail of hair leading to his nether region. With his fingertips hooked around the waistband of his slacks, he glances up at Jungkook, words failing him as he drinks in the sight of his glassy-eyed expression, hands resting delicately on his chest.
Seeing no opposition to his intentions, he rids Jungkook of his slacks, mouth filling with saliva when he gets an eyeful of his thick, flushed cock.
It bobs, looking so excruciatingly hard that Namjoon absentmindedly pities him. He goes easy on him at first, mouthing at his hips, biting the insides of his thighs, working him into a writhing mess before he slowly, slowly licks a single, featherlight stripe along the underside of Jungkook's cock that draws from Jungkook an almighty inhalation, hands fisting the sheets like they're about to take flight, throwing his head to the side to hide his contorted expression.
His own cock throbs, appreciating the show, and as he wraps his lips around the head of Jungkook's cock, they share cacophonous moans, Jungkook's high one contrasting Namjoon's muffled, low one. His cock stretches Namjoon's lips, hurting the corners of them like how a bitter winter would, but he powers through, sucking hard, hollowing his cheeks, using his tongue as best he can in spite of the lack of room.
Jungkook's a goner. Namjoon tries pressing him back down onto the bed by flattening his palm on his abdomen, but Jungkook's stronger, even stronger with pleasure running through his veins, and his chest rises and falls dramatically, gasping in air like he may never breathe again. "Joon," he whimpers, tightening his thighs, placing his hand over the bulge of his cock in Namjoon's cheek, "You're incredible. Your lips, your tongue."
If anything, Namjoon considers himself mediocre, yet just by looking at Jungkook, he's started second-guessing his abilities.
When Jungkook fucks up into his throat, he elicits a throaty whine, hips falling back onto the bed when Namjoon recoils, coughing.
Lying lifeless, Namjoon bats Jungkook's thigh, giggling when Jungkook fails to move.
"Fuck me," comes his tired voice, hand tentatively wrapping around his own cock before he whines, hips bucking into the air after he promptly stops, "Ngh-please, baby."
Wordlessly, Namjoon collects what's needed, almost afraid to leave Jungkook for fear of him slipping into some sex-crazed fever dream.
Jungkook remains still, the sight of him scandalous with his sweat-drenched skin and alarmingly flushed cock, and it takes Namjoon many tries for him to stop sneaking a peak and get what needs to be got. He becomes alive when Namjoon plops down onto the bed, fiddling with the condom packet and lube, Jungkook eyeing them like they're items he's never seen before in his life.
Namjoon flicks the cap of the lube, trying to distract himself from the hammering of his heart, and Jungkook arrives behind him, encircling his arms around Namjoon's torso, tucking his head into the juncture between his neck and shoulder. "'You gonna get me ready for you?" he asks timidly, lazily kissing Namjoon's skin.
Swallowing down any qualms, Namjoon nods, instructing Jungkook to lie on his front.
The entire process is laborious. Initially, Jungkook doesn't take the first finger well, teeth tearing at the silk pillow cover as he scoots away from Namjoon, apologising profusely whilst Namjoon berates him, insisting that he shouldn't be sorry, that this takes time. The second time he tries, his hands are horrendously sticky as he bows forward to kiss along Jungkook's spine in an attempt to distract him from the initial sensation of foreignness.
When he's three fingers deep, with his wrist cramping and Jungkook moving enthusiastically back onto him, Namjoon can't fathom the drastic turn of events.
"If you don't get down to it—" Jungkook hisses, slamming his fist into the duvet when Namjoon hooks his fingers just so.
"You'll what?" Namjoon teases, repeating his previous action, immensely enjoying the reaction it brings forth from Jungkook.
"Stop," Jungkook begs, almost near tears, "Just give it to me. I'm ready, I'm ready."
Upon removing his fingers, Jungkook turns himself over, staring up at the ceiling whilst Namjoon rolls the condom on, trying to ignore the nagging voice in his head telling him that he needs to make this amazing, that he needs to fuck like he's never fucked before.
Hovering over Jungkook, he gazes deep into those beautiful, brown, revealing eyes, trying to wordlessly transfer his love into them, and they blink back at him, a laziness to them as he lines himself up, bracketing Jungkook's head with his forearms when he softly whispers, "Tell me if it's good."
"Trust me," Jungkook breathlessly laughs, hands on Namjoon's shoulder-blades when the head of his cock brushes against his entrance, causing him to gasp sharply, "You'll know if it's good."
Pain is inevitable. Namjoon can see it on Jungkook's face as he thrusts into him, stilling his hips, brushing Jungkook's hair off of his forehead, studying Jungkook's screwed up expression as he ignores his brain screaming at him to move, chase this feeling of euphoria. "'You okay?" he rasps, biting back a groan when Jungkook adjusts his hips, a soft yelp slipping from him when he adamantly nods his head.
With a shy smile on his lips, Jungkook breathlessly informs, "You're big, but I can take you."
Kissing his chin, Namjoon lies himself flat atop of Jungkook, moving ever-so-slightly, cringing when Jungkook makes a noise of discomfort.
"Good boy," Namjoon soothes, pulling out slightly before driving in, gasping right as Jungkook does.
The pace is slow, needlessly so, and the energy between them quickly becomes overwhelming, especially as Jungkook repeats, over and over again, "I love you, I love you, I love you," in tandem with Namjoon's thrusts. That tightness at the base of his spine threatens to release itself, but he keeps himself composed, wishing to watch Jungkook fall first, which he inevitably will, judging by the blankness in his eyes, the raking of his nails down Namjoon's back, the strength of his thighs wrapped around Namjoon's hips, pulling him in deeper, craving every inch he can possibly get from him.
When Jungkook begins rolling his hips, Namjoon's brain threatens to short-circuit, and he watches the movement, enraptured by the fluidity, amazed at the sight of his cock sliding in and out of Jungkook whose body's started to tighten, readying itself for the floodgates. Namjoon pauses, wanting Jungkook to capture his own pleasure, only for Jungkook to plead through a pitiful cry for him to keep going, to go deeper, and it only takes a few strategic, long strokes for Jungkook to start falling.
His back rises from the mattress, fingers interlocking around Namjoon's neck for some semblance of grounding as he enters into a realm of sheer bliss, where the sun shines above the clouds and stars burst to reveal a rainbow of lights. He cries Namjoon's name, body spasming as his release shoots through him like a lightning bolt, electrifying his muscles. Before he even has time to come down from his high, Namjoon feels the surprise of his own release creeping up on him.
With his face buried in the crook of Jungkook's shoulder, his palms underneath Jungkook's body gripping his ass, he joins him, exclaiming loudly just once before his soft gasps follow, Jungkook's satisfied grumble answering him as he holds Namjoon through it, tremors wracking his body from the oversensitivity of it all. He sees the moon and the stars, the wind and the rain, lightning, hail, he sees it all as a calmness overcomes him, seeping into his bones as he collapses in a heap on top of Jungkook who hugs him close, whispering, "I love you more."
He can just about muster the little energy required to lift his head, and gazing down at Jungkook, at his sleepy, dazed smile, his red-bitten lips and scarlet cheeks, his twinkling eyes and barely-there dimples, he feels a hand grab his heart, one that may as well be Jungkook's.
"I love you more more."
20th March, 1989.
The birds are surprisingly quiet that morning. Even in the late hours of the morning when they'd both gotten wrapped up in tales from their childhoods, stories from before they ever knew the other existed, there was still not a single whisper from the creatures.
He's warm, uncomfortably so, with Jungkook's limbs entangled with his, his soft, even breaths filling the otherwise silent room.
Trailing his middle finger up and down Jungkook's back, Namjoon watches the darkness in the room fade, the first rays of light squeezing its way through the curtains, illuminating dust particles that dance through the air. The silence is eerie, what with it not being something he's used to, and so he focuses on Jungkook's snores, taking comfort in the peace that's evident on the other's face.
Sleep hadn't come easily to him unlike Jungkook who'd passed out whilst Namjoon was going on a long spiel about a book that he'd asked his students to read, and truthfully, he doesn't blame the poor guy. With their long day and even longer night, Jungkook was spent, out for the count, and for a second, Namjoon grows concerned, poking his cheek to check for any reaction, but ultimately feeling guilty when Jungkook softly whines, body stretching out slowly before relaxing back down onto Namjoon, returning to his zonked state.
It feels like he lies there for hours, listening to the hotel waking up, it going from being quiet to a rumbling hustle and bustle beneath them, no doubt indicating the beginning of the breakfast buffet. Thinking about the food laid out on the tables below them, he rouses Jungkook, trying to make up for the intrusion by pulling him against his chest, encircling his arms around Jungkook's shoulders.
"I smell toast," Jungkook shares, voice scratchy, eyes bleary as he rubs at them, groaning when Namjoon tries to move. "Stay."
"I can't. I'm hungry and the buffet isn't open for long," Namjoon explains, sliding ungraciously out from beneath Jungkook, standing by the edge of the bed, cracking his bones and noting the small throb of pain in his back. Bending backwards, he throws his head in Jungkook's direction, fearing that his sudden silence is a result of him falling back asleep.
He's on his stomach, legs kicking in the air as he fixes Namjoon a silly, happy expression. "So am I, but not for toast."
Spluttering, Namjoon throws on his sweats, tiptoeing around their discarded, wrinkled suits in search of his tube socks. Feigning oblivion, Namjoon reassures, "It's not just toast. There's porridge, fruit, yoghurt, rice. Anything your heart desires."
Huffing, Jungkook finally stirs, pulling the blanket up with him as he lumbers around the bedroom, plucking a rogue sock from Namjoon's fingers, sullenly pulling it on, along with a white polo-neck, navy sweatshirt and light-wash jeans. With his hair sticking every which way, when he's finally dressed and ready, Namjoon attempts to tame his locks, though, he gives up quickly, heeding Jungkook's warning, "It's just gonna do its own thing no matter what."
The banquet room is a few dozen people away from being empty when they traipse in, Jungkook clinging to Namjoon's arm, sleepiness making him needy. Instructing him to go sit beside Taehyung and Jimin who are tucked away in a corner, both looking worse for wear, he makes a beeline for the coffee machine, jumping out of his skin when a pair of hands clamp down around his waist.
Yoongi grins brightly up at him, exhaustion seeming a foreign deity to him, and Namjoon envies him in that moment.
After grumbling a greeting, he pours himself an espresso, ignoring Yoongi, because it's not his day anymore and he doesn't have to go above and beyond to appease him.
"Good morning to you too, sunshine," Yoongi huffs, bumping Namjoon away from the machine by his hip.
Burning his tongue, Namjoon blows at his cup, narrowing his eyes at Yoongi over the rim, "Someone slept well."
"Like a baby," Yoongi croons, serving Namjoon a grating smile. "Can't say the same for you. What, did the two of you go at it like rabbits 'til dawn broke?"
Pulling a face, Namjoon throws his eyes towards where Jungkook's sitting on his hands, accepting a bite of a croissant that Jimin offers him.
"We..." he begins, struggling to navigate through Yoongi's words, staring blankly at the tank of orange juice in front of him before he clears his throat, dropping his tone as he leans in close to Yoongi, "We did make love, but it didn't even last very long."
Yoongi quirks his eyebrows at Namjoon, a laugh threatening to fall from his lips, judging by his lopsided smirk, "You mean you didn't last very long."
"Put a sock in it," Namjoon sighs, rolling his coffee around in his small cup before continuing, slowly, "I didn't want to go at it all night with him because it was his first time."
Thankfully, Yoongi hadn't taken a big gulp of his americano, so the damage that comes from him spurting it over the buffet table is minimal.
After bowing umpteen times to the waitress who mops up his mess, he turns to Namjoon, hand on his hip and scandalised expression on his face when he hisses, "You're fucking kidding me."
"I'm really not."
Pressing the heel of his hand into his forehead, Yoongi looks as if he's struggling with this information more than Namjoon had.
"You deflowered him?"
"Gross. Don't say it like that."
"Popped the cherry. Peeled the banana. Stamped his V-card. Devirginised him. Fucked him."
"What the ever-loving hell is wrong with you? Yes, yes to all of it."
Yoongi pauses for a moment, and Namjoon's ears are thankful. He pours himself another espresso whilst he gives Yoongi time to gather his thoughts.
"Did everything—I mean, did everything go okay? Is he okay?"
Namjoon's irritated expression quickly crumbles, brow softening and eyes going wide when he simply stares at Yoongi, giving him a quick nod.
"He's okay, Yoongi."
"Good," Yoongi nods to himself, lips tightened, clearing his throat before continuing, "That's good. Feared you might've snapped him in half or something."
Promptly leaving the buffet, he heads towards the others, Namjoon smiling fondly after him, swiping a piece of toast before he follows after him.
"Here he is," Taehyung claps, laughing when Yoongi humbly bows towards all at the table, "How was your first night as a wedded man?"
"Like any other night, only we slept. Didn't even bother consummating the marriage. Sleep was our number one priority."
"Lame," Jimin scoffs around his mouthful of rice, glancing around the table for someone to agree with him.
"When you have kids, you'll understand why sleep's on a higher tier than sex."
Nodding in agreement, Namjoon butts in, "Why exert yourself that much when instead you can nab yourself a healthy nine hours of rest?"
"You both sound haggard," Taehyung rudely informs, directing his attention towards Jungkook who drops his head onto Namjoon's shoulder. "Speaking of haggard, you seem drained, young whippersnapper. Did the night's activities that you partook in with your beau exhaust you?"
Jimin side-eyes Taehyung, a subtle warning that Taehyung turns his nose up at.
Jungkook fiddles with the bottom of Namjoon's sweatshirt, pouting as he mumbles, "It was tiring alright."
"Indulge us," Taehyung enthuses, leaning on his elbows, beady eyes eager.
"Leave the kid alone," Yoongi chastises his friend, draining the last of his coffee as Namjoon and him lock eyes, "He's still half-asleep for God's sake."
"You're all dry," Taehyung sullenly accuses them, throwing his saddle bag over his body as he stands, telling them all that he needs to get on the road or face missing his afternoon lecture. Seokjin joins them soon after, as does Hoseok looking a bit worse for wear as he plops down beside Jimin, the latter giggling at Hoseok as he flies through two pints of water.
"Thank you all for coming," Seokjin says, holding Yoongi's hand in his lap as his eyes land on Namjoon, a small smile on his lips, "I hope your day was as amazing as ours was."
"I wish I could remember the damn day," Hoseok laments, expression sickly as Jimin pulls him into a comforting hug.
Whilst Jimin tends to Hoseok and his worsening hangover, Namjoon turns his attention to Jungkook, who's pensively quiet, slouched low in his seat, fiddling with one of the printed mementos Seokjin and Yoongi had arranged for all the guests to take home once the day was over. Resting his arm on the back of his chair, Namjoon leans in close to him, "You're awfully quiet."
He's happy to be met with a small smile, Jungkook's eyes twinkling in spite of their heaviness. He's flicking the card between his index and middle finger, attention directed out the floor-to-ceiling windows where Namjoon glances towards to find the skies opening to let down with them a light drizzle of rain. Jungkook's transfixed by the sight, lips parted and eyes blinking slowly. Namjoon gently nudges him, trying to draw him back to him.
Jungkook turns quickly in his seat, exhibiting more movement than he has since arriving, his knees bumping Namjoon's when he informs, "It's March 20th."
Blinking emptily across Jungkook's face, Namjoon frowns, feeling lost. He plucks the card from Jungkook's fingers, locating the date on it before agreeing, "Indeed it is."
He's barely got his words out before Jungkook's on his feet, excusing himself tersely, the whole table falling silent as they watch him head towards the glass door that brings him out onto the veranda. There's determination in his walk, and when he bounds down the steps that bring him out into the open garden, Yoongi dramatically sighs. "He's gonna make himself ill."
"What is he doing?" Jimin asks, bewilderment in his tone.
Namjoon wishes he knew, his brows risen in confusion as he watches Jungkook's hair flatten from the droplets, clothes already becoming damp.
"If it's a shower he's after, he does know that all bedrooms have an en suite, right?" Hoseok drawls unhelpfully, returning his head back into Jimin's lap when Namjoon rises, searching the backs of all of their chairs for a rain jacket, which he doesn't find. Shoving his hands into his armpits, he gives Yoongi a long-suffering look before hurrying after Jungkook, ignoring Jimin shouting after him, offering him the shirt off of his back like the flimsiness of it would be of much help.
It's not windy, the rain isn't hitting him from every which direction, instead it falls slowly, dripping from the sky like honey. The surroundings are quiet save for the pitter patter of rain against the veranda's roof, which he's struggling to muster up enough courage step out from. Down the garden, he catches Jungkook's attention who gestures for Namjoon to join him, and after one last moment beneath his shelter, he jumps down the slippery steps, cursing beneath his breath when the first droplets of rain hit him.
The rain squelches beneath his feet as he ambles over, squinting through the downpour when he arrives behind Jungkook whose arms are held out, palms facing upwards, fingers wiggling as the rain darts between them. "I've never seen someone love the rain as much as you do."
Looking at him over his shoulder, Jungkook grins that beautiful, toothy smile of his, winking at Namjoon.
"It's just some water falling from the sky," Jungkook defends, a droplet of water dripping off of the hair that hangs in his eyes. "It's comforting. The sound of rain is both jarring and calming. When you're in bed at night, toasty and warm, there's nothing better than hearing it knock against the windowpanes."
"How about we go inside and listen to it from there, then? I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but you're gonna contract something standing out here."
"Do you know what day it is?" Jungkook interjects, skin glistening with moisture when his arms fall to his sides.
Glancing up at the grey rolling clouds above them, Namjoon sighs, "March 20th."
"It's the first day of Spring," Jungkook explains, small smile beginning to beam as he closes the distance between them, fitting himself snugly into Namjoon's hold. Tucked in against his chest, Namjoon's mind suddenly clears, heartbeat quickening as he finally slots the pieces together, fingers suddenly itching to keep Jungkook and his damp body close to him for as long as possible. "This is the first rain shower of Spring. Soon, daffodils will be blooming, bluebells will be dotted around all of the hedgerows, and the trees are going to become full again."
"Birds are going to start migrating. The animals that have been resting all winter are about to awaken."
"It's the beginning of a beautiful cycle," Jungkook concludes, batting his lashes at Namjoon who finds himself breathless.
"And here you are," Namjoon whispers, watching Jungkook coyly roll his lower lip between his teeth, "With me, where you're supposed to be."
"For the first shower in spring, the last ray of sunshine in autumn, and the first dead flower winter targets, I'll be with you."
The deluge begins falling harder, the hotel drawing them back towards it as Namjoon leads the way, pulling Jungkook along with him, their hands held and laughter jubilant, pausing once they've sought refuge, soaked to the skin, resembling wet dogs, but so content.
He watches Jungkook as he throws his head back, hands raking through his sopping hair, and thinks, fleetingly, how bizarre it is for him to have found someone so endearingly perplexing, humble, loving, a package deal that he struggles to believes exists. Jungkook's an enigma, one that makes him feel young again, like every kiss is their first, like every time Jungkook shyly looks his way that they're each other's childhood crushes. He wants to hook himself up to a dosage of his energy, welcome in his aura, bathe in it, and use that to show him just how staggeringly impactful he's been on his life.
There's no second thoughts as they pass their friends, Namjoon saluting them, pausing only for a moment to tell them that they need to head home soon, pottering around to each of them for a hug and a kiss, smiling to himself as he waits for Jungkook to say his goodbyes to Yoongi who whispers something to him. He leaves Yoongi with the hint of a nervous smile on his lips, Yoongi sporting his own fond one as he locks eyes with Namjoon, promptly waving him off.
"What were you two whispering about?" Namjoon asks, ascending the stairs two at a time with Jungkook in tow.
All he offers Namjoon is an innocent shrug, "He was just giving me some advice about something I'd asked him last night."
Pausing on the landing, watching Jungkook pass him, a deep furrow forming between his brows, Namjoon chortles.
"Can't imagine he gives good advice. You should've gone to Seokjin, he's everyone's agony aunt."
Jungkook shakes his head before smirking, his lips in a tight line before insisting, "It was something I needed to hear just from Yoongi alone."
"Was he... Helpful?"
"That's a first," Namjoon scoffs, hurrying after Jungkook who's already at the top, waiting for him.
"I'm gonna shower," Jungkook shivers the moment they stumble in through the door, pulling his clothes off of his back, bundling them up into a ball and chucking them into the general direction of their shared suitcase. Namjoon collapses onto the floor, struggling to undo his wet shoelaces that have created an impenetrable knot. Eventually, he gets them off, caring not about where he throws them, desperate just to get out of his wet clothes, a feverishness to his actions as he yanks his sweatshirt over his head, blinking when his hair, longer when damp falls into his eyes.
Once he's undressed, he sighs heavily, wondering how such little exertion can cause such exhaustion, but that train of thought swiftly comes to a halt when he realises Jungkook's leaning on the desk in just his boxers twiddling a pen between his fingers, ogling Namjoon with a darkness in his eyes that makes his skin crawl in the most delicious way possible.
"Go take your shower," Namjoon weakly urges, pulling his sweatpants off, standing dumbly in the middle of his room in just his boxers.
Jungkook doesn't head towards the en suite. Instead, he tosses the pen onto the desk, swiping a finger across his upper lip as he begins walking towards Namjoon, lips parted and eyes so invasive in the way they fail to drop from Namjoon. Standing in front of Namjoon, their toes touching, he lifts his hands, resting them softly on Namjoon's hips as he bows down, pressing a lasting, gentle kiss to Namjoon's shoulder.
He exhales slowly, gritting his teeth when Jungkook sucks his skin, palms running up and down Jungkook's lower back before they find themselves on the bed, Jungkook crouching over Namjoon, lips doing wonders at pulling from Namjoon desperate noises. He wastes no time in freeing him from his boxers, moving his clothed cock against Namjoon's freed one, inhaling when Namjoon curses lowly, gripping Jungkook's damp tendrils of hair as he suckles his nipples.
They move like time bites at their heels, with purpose and overwhelming desire, Jungkook wrapping his pretty lips around Namjoon's length, helping him get hard as quick as possible. When Jungkook's flushed and dazed, absorbed in the act, Namjoon beckons him upwards, capturing Jungkook's lips in his, grinning into the kiss when Jungkook whimpers as he shares with Namjoon the taste of himself.
"I'm gonna ride you, baby," Jungkook growls into his mouth, gripping Namjoon's chin, kissing him open-mouthed and messily as Namjoon groans in encouragement.
One wouldn't consider Jungkook a novice. He takes control like he'd done it ten times before, resting his cheek on Namjoon's chest as he reaches behind himself, pressing his lubed fingers into himself, fucking himself open, enjoying having Namjoon as an enthusiastic onlooker. He pets Jungkook's hair, whispering to him about how he's doing fantastic, that he can't wait to have him sitting prettily on his cock.
"Take it easy," Namjoon breathlessly warns when Jungkook positions himself, gripping Namjoon's cock, ready to guide it into him, "There's no rush."
"There is," Jungkook disagrees, already sitting back onto Namjoon, mouth popping open in shock as he becomes filled, Namjoon biting down hard onto his lip, eyes fluttering at the sensation of being engulfed in silky, wet heat. Jungkook doesn't stay still for long what with this fervent need overcoming him, and as he rises and falls, thigh muscles quivering from where they bracket Namjoon's hips, Namjoon's previously stifled moans echo loudly around them, joining the vulgar sounds of skin hitting skin and the headboard tapping against the wall.
He becomes transfixed by the movement of Jungkook's hips, by the way his face twists in concentration, said concentration falling when Namjoon's cock hits that sweet spot inside of him, sending Jungkook into even more of an ecstasy-driven fervour. He bounces with little abandon, caring not about how loud he's being, how Namjoon warns him that he's close, instead begging, "Come, baby. Don't worry, I want it, I want it so bad."
When the stars burst behind his eyelids, his grip tight on Jungkook's hips as they roll with him through his climax, he fucks up into him, groaning loudly when Jungkook answers him with a high squeak, chanting Namjoon's name before his body stills and he sits back on Namjoon's thighs, wriggling his hips, getting every last drop of cum out of Namjoon as he can.
He only has a moment to contain himself. When he opens his eyes and looks down to find Jungkook's flushed cock sitting thick and hard on his abdomen, he encourages Jungkook to keep going, who initially insists that it's alright, until Namjoon grips his cock, tone thick and eyelids heavy as he watches Jungkook fold forward, nails clawing down Namjoon's ribs when he whispers, "Be a good boy and listen to me, baby. Ride me until you come. I can take it."
With Namjoon stroking him and Jungkook rolling his hips in long, rough movements, gasping whenever Namjoon's cock goes deep, it doesn't take long for Jungkook to fall forward, begging Namjoon to fuck him through it, and Namjoon happily obliges. Planting his heels into the duvet, gripping Jungkook's hips, growling as Jungkook tightens around him, Jungkook's cum spills onto Namjoon's stomach as his body spasms from the force of his orgasm, muscles still quivering even when he lies lifeless on top of Namjoon, moving his hips imperceptibly before Namjoon has to stop him with a shy laugh, afraid that his cock might simply malfunction from oversensitivity.
They lie there for minutes, waiting for the other's breath to even out, the musty smell of their rained-on hair now intermingling with the smell of sex.
Eventually, Jungkook dismounts, making a startled face at Namjoon when he does, causing them both to dissolve into giggles.
"I should clean you up," Jungkook points at the mess on Namjoon's stomach that had also transferred onto Jungkook's.
When he swipes his index finger through the collection of cooling cum, with a hint of horror, Namjoon deadpans, "You wouldn't."
"Wouldn't I?" Jungkook drawls, already lifting his tainted finger and wiping it down his outstretched tongue, humming happily as Namjoon goes through a multitude of emotions, one being abhorrence towards himself for being ashamedly turned on by Jungkook's filthiness. Like a cat wanting milk, he kneels over Namjoon, lilting, "Want me to clean the rest?"
"We've got towelettes right there," Namjoon gestures towards the bedside locker, intaking one, shocked breath and holding it as Jungkook chooses to ignore him and begins lapping at his skin, eyes holding Namjoon's shocked gaze the entire time. The entire act is so far away from anything Namjoon's ever witnessed in such an environment that he has to remind himself that they just had sex, they need to leave soon, and that Jungkook will likely do this again at a later date.
"All clean," Jungkook cheeps, patting Namjoon's relatively clean stomach, "Now let's get clean clean."
How he can have such a clear mind baffles Namjoon, but he allows himself to get pulled towards the en suite where they share a shower, Jungkook shampooing Namjoon's hair and Namjoon his. When Jungkook suggests they play a game of catch with the bar of soap, Namjoon isn't given time to say yes or no before the soap comes flying at him, and he clamps it down between his hands. It shoots from his hold, flying up and out of the shower as Jungkook plasters himself to the glass, pouting out at the rogue bar of soap.
He turns to Namjoon, hands on his hips accusingly, the sight of him a sight for sore eyes. "Go get it."
"We don't need it anymore."
"We can't just leave it out there. What if the maid comes in and she slips on it like she's in a 1920s comedic silent film?"
They stare blankly at one another until they both dissolve into laughter, Jungkook laughing so hard Namjoon has to pull him against him after becoming scared that all of his dramatic thrashing about will cause him to fall. "Goofball," Namjoon fondly teases, kissing the pout that quickly forms on Jungkook's lips.
Reaching up to give Namjoon a shampoo mohawk, Jungkook points at it, tittering, "Now who's the goofball?"
10th April, 1989.
Jungkook fits in well to the bakery, his warm, friendly presence doing wonders for business.
He's only been there a week and already he's got a flock of elders visiting him in the mornings, getting themselves their fresh bread, telling him how much of a sweet boy he is, how bright he is, how paramount he is to the smooth continuation of their day. One of them has come in when Namjoon's visiting during his lunch break, gorging on some delectable carbs to help get him through the sea of thesis outlines he's lethargically wading through.
Accepting Yoongi's offer to work at the bakery was a no brainer. Life at the bowling alley was becoming monotonous and he'd shared with Namjoon his feeling of inadequacy, like he'd learned all he could at the establishment and wanted to explore other industries. Yoongi didn't have to take him under his wing, and as Namjoon watches them both behind the counter, Yoongi chucking change into the cash register whilst Jungkook takes the hand of the elderly woman who coos at him, he smiles.
With his lunchtime coming to its end, Namjoon shoves all of his things into his briefcase, dragging himself over to the till where Jungkook offers him a sympathetic smile.
"Just a few more hours 'til you can chill out on the sofa with Sungki and I," Jungkook shares, offering him some much-appreciated encouragement.
"A few hours too many," Namjoon sulks, paying for his purchases, because in spite of being best friends with the place's two owners, Yoongi still insists on him paying.
He leans over the counter to plant a chaste kiss on Jungkook's lips, taking the opportunity to swipe away the dash of flour on his cheek before he jumps, getting startled by Yoongi's booming voice. "No kissing on the job," he chides, stern expression turning friendly when a customer requests his help.
"You better go before my boss kills me," Jungkook jokes, taking his time to count out Namjoon's change.
"I'm not afraid of him," Namjoon declares, puffing out his chest when he takes his coins from Jungkook.
"Why are you still here?" Seokjin lightly snaps when he emerges from the back, his apron covered in flour, "Stop distracting our new employee."
"Sorry," Namjoon grumbles, narrowing his eyes at Jungkook who covers his mouth, catching the laughter that threatens to slip from him.
"Scared of him though, hm?" Jungkook whispers when Seokjin wanders over to help Yoongi restock some goods.
Leaning over the countertop, he whispers, eyes darting over to Seokjin, "It's his niceness. If you make him mad, you're inevitably the worst person alive."
Work drags like it typically would on a Friday, the ticking of the clock hands taunting him as he stares despairingly up at it, ignoring the student who sits by his desk, going over a paper that Namjoon knows will get him an A. He doesn't know why he's there, he doesn't need any help, and he wishes that kicking him out on his ass wasn't against school policy.
The longer evenings make his long days seem less consuming, the sunshine still bright when he lugs himself through the front door, groaning dramatically as his briefcase falls to the ground, his body wanting to follow it. Jungkook and Sungki are nowhere to be seen, and he helps himself to some cupcakes Jungkook had brought home from work, which maybe he shouldn't considering the fact that the food that Yoongi and Seokjin gives to Jungkook often fails to meet their standards, but once the sweetness of the icing hits his tongue, he can't bring himself to care.
He finds the apples of his eyes out in the garden, Jungkook crouched down over the flowerbed with Sungki staring down at him, the beak on his cap hiding his face.
"Daddy's home," Namjoon announces, like he's the second coming of Christ, grinning goofily when Jungkook glances at him before fondly rolling his eyes.
"Daddy," Sungki squeals, running over to grab Namjoon's hand, "Look, look. The roses are in bloom!"
He blinks at their petals, light pink and only barely peaking from their buds, and as he feels Jungkook come up behind him, propping his chin on his shoulder, he ruffles Sungki's hair. He marvels, "They made it through the winter."
"I knew they would," Jungkook boasts, giggling when Namjoon humphs, "All they needed was a little extra love and care."
"I think I might need a little love and extra care after today," Namjoon mumbles, patting Jungkook's forearm that wraps around his chest.
"I'll tend to you later," Jungkook promises quietly, dislodging himself from Namjoon as he heads indoors, Namjoon and Sungki following him like baby ducks.
They order takeout, a luxury that Namjoon doesn't allow often, and the pizza is greasy, making their lips glisten like they'd just swiped on some lip gloss. "I was telling Sungki that you and I are gonna head out to the cabin next week," Jungkook suddenly informs, the slice of pizza pausing on its way to Namjoon's mouth, his lips open and waiting for him to bring it closer.
He lowers the slice, quirking his eyebrow at Sungki before his attention turns to Jungkook, "We are?"
"Papa said Pip, Snugs and I can stay at Yoongi and Seokjin's and have a weekend-long sleepover with Yungmi and Myungok."
"Did he now?" Namjoon says in the voice he saves for Sungki only; playful, verging on childish.
"You deserve a getaway, even if it's just to the cabin. You've been working nonstop since this semester started," Jungkook explains, reaching across the table to dab at the slimy slice of cheese clinging to Sungki's chin, "Sungki doesn't mind. Do you, buddy?"
"It'll be nice for you, Daddy," Sungki says, his cheeks puffed out with pizza.
Chucking his crust onto his plate, leaning on his crossed legs, Namjoon glances between the two of them, wondering why no-one's bothered to do something as simple as organise a small trip for him until now. "You don't mind not coming with us, monkey?"
"Nope," Sungki grins, "Yungmi and Myungok got new boardgames for their birthdays, and I wanna play them."
Laughing at what's influenced Sungki to spend a weekend at the Mins, Namjoon squeezes Sungki's knee, muttering his thanks before tipping forward to kiss him on the cheek.
"Once you finish that last slice, it's bedtime," Jungkook warns Sungki, pointing towards the clock, pouting right back at Sungki's own pout.
"But it's still bright outside," Sungki whines, attention shifting to Namjoon in hopes of him reasoning with Jungkook.
"It's almost 9 o'clock," Jungkook counters, rising, raking his fingers through his hair as he stretches, eyes crinkling when Sungki huffs loudly. "Daddy can read to you tonight since he's home. Go brush your teeth and fish 'ol 'Miss. Rumphius,' out from beneath your bed."
Namjoon waits for him to finish hugging Jungkook, kissing him goodnight in spite of Jungkook giving him instructions he didn't want to hear. When Sungki takes his hand, accepting his incoming fate, he tugs on Namjoon's trousers, eyes big and pleading when he asks, "Can we read 'The Velveteen Rabbit,' instead?"
"We can read whatever you want," Namjoon assures, finding Jungkook standing still from where he was about to drift off into nothingness with his headphones hanging around his neck and his walkman in hand. They share a look, a subtle, fleeting one before they both smile, Jungkook pressing play and putting on his headphones, leaving Namjoon to it.
Tucked up in bed, with Jungkook's battered copy of 'The Velveteen Rabbit,' Namjoon instructs Sungki to get comfortable.
He burrows down, eyes barely visible over the duvet as Namjoon flicks through the book. He lands on the first page where there's a faded note written, a letter from Jungkook's mother to him, wishing him a happy fifth birthday, hoping that this storybook will fill him with wonder, and Sungki leans over Namjoon's forearm, reading the note aloud.
"This is a very special book," Namjoon tells him, looking down at Sungki when he reassumes his burrowing, "When you're old like Daddy and Papa, it'll be your turn to give it to someone who you love very much."
Pursing his lips in thought, Namjoon flicks through the pages again, stopping where the story begins before he watches Sungki's face light up, a cheekiness to his smile when he confidently announces, "I'll just give it back to the two of you. You can read it to Papa when he's old and grey, or he can read it to you, Daddy."
All Namjoon can do is hug Sungki, for he fears that if he was to speak, that his voice would crack and his tears would fall.
17th April, 1989.
Jungkook all but flings his body out of the car door when they pull up to the cabin, Namjoon scolding him for being careless when Jungkook just grins widely at him.
Twirling around, his feet kicking dirt up into the air, Jungkook flexes his muscles, fists in close to his chest when he emits an almighty yell, taking Namjoon by surprise.
His voice echos through the forest, bouncing off of the cabin and the trees until it fades away, leaving them with the lone sound of the Spring's breeze.
With his face flushed from excitement, Jungkook bounds over to Namjoon, shaking him, encouraging, "Try it. Channel your everything into your voice and scream."
"Locals might think some dumb kids are getting murdered up in the mountains," Namjoon offers self-consciously, towards which Jungkook huffs.
"Start as you wish to go on," Jungkook bounces around him, making Namjoon wonder if he'd had any sugar during their journey.
"Don't think I wanna be screaming the entire time we're here, Koo," Namjoon laughs, his smile falling when Jungkook fixes him with a stern look.
Grabbing him by the shoulders, Jungkook walks them down to the water's edge, the car doors and boot still open as Namjoon willingly walks on. Even after all of these years, the picturesque sight of the clear, rippling lake flanked by trees still takes his breath away, and on the rocky sand, Jungkook's voice is low, his arms reaching around Namjoon, palms splaying over his chest when he whispers, "Do it now."
He shouts, and Jungkook blows a raspberry, insisting he can do better than that. Without warning, with gusto gripping his insecurity, Namjoon yells, so loud his throat hurts and for so long his ears start to ring. Once he stops it feels uncomfortably quiet, and he stares down at the water licking at his feet, small waves shifting smaller stones up towards them when Jungkook appears in front of him, smile small and eyes bright.
"I hope the police aren't on there way," Namjoon grins, pulling Jungkook towards him, squeezing him tightly as the latter wraps his legs around Namjoon's hips, giggling wildly when Namjoon yelps, telling him to stop or else they'll fall. Eventually Jungkook detaches himself from Namjoon, mood considerably less hyper as he takes Namjoon by the hand and leads him to the car where they unpack their few belongings.
Dusk falls fast around them, welcoming with it nocturnal animals that sing to the moon who rewards them with its shining beauty that bounces off of the lake, lighting their paths in the depths of the forest. The night's warm save for some light wind and they huddle over the fire, building it high and wide since there's no need to stress over it getting out of hand if Sungki were present.
Jungkook's brought his battery-driven stereo and it plays softly, singing back to the animals who creep out from their haunts.
"Have you ever met your neighbours out here?" Jungkook asks, gesturing down towards the lake where two cabins are situated across it.
Holding his beer between his thighs, Namjoon shakes his head, inching away from the fire that's warming his face too much. "I'm not here often enough and neither are they. Last I heard, which was years ago, an elderly couple owned one and two sisters owned the other. Legend had it that the sisters were actually girlfriends and knowing how stories get twisted by word of mouth, I wouldn't be surprised."
Smiling, Jungkook gazes out into the direction of the cabins, only one of them currently occupied judging by their lights.
"There's something comforting about the loneliness up here. At home, it'd feel strange to live so out-of-touch from the world, but here, that doesn't seem to matter much. The flowers can be your friends, the moon your mother and the sun your father, the animals your guardians, save for the few who want to have you for dinner."
"Yeah, I don't think the bears would be too keen on being my guardian," Namjoon teases, blowing a kiss towards Jungkook to help dispel his sullen pout.
"We used to survive like this," Jungkook continues, choosing to ignore Namjoon, "Without electricity or landlines, without the reliance on others to prepare your food. Our ancestors lived off of the land, granted, they suffered for it, but they kept the earth alive. All our generation is doing is killing it. It's saddening."
"What David Attenborough documentaries have you been watching?" Namjoon pokes at Jungkook who inhales sharply, gripping Namjoon's fingers in his fist, pulling him to him.
Scuffing his heel against the dirt, Jungkook murmurs towards the ground, "There's not much else to do at home on my days off when Sungki and you aren't home."
Melting into a cooing mess, Namjoon beckons Jungkook over, patting his lap which Jungkook perches himself onto, tucking his chin into the juncture between Namjoon's neck and shoulder. "My poor sweetheart," Namjoon coos, stroking his hair off of his forehead when Jungkook sighs, "The summer holidays are soon, and by the time they're over, you'll be sick of Sungki and I."
"Impossible," Jungkook refuses, dipping his hand into Namjoon's open shirt, seeking warmth atop his undershirt, "The two of you are like my caffeine."
Pulling away from Jungkook to blink at him in mock surprise, he whistles, "You're that addicted?"
Smiling sweetly, Jungkook grips the lapels of Namjoon's shirt, face close to Namjoon's when he animatedly drawls, "It's maddening."
When the moon hides its face behind some invasive clouds, they relocate to a small meadow down by the shore away from the firelight where Jungkook purposely falls, the long grass flattening beneath his body, the dew seeping into his clothes as he drags Namjoon down with him, giggling at Namjoon's surprised squeak.
They tumble, a lone rock digging into Namjoon's knee when he gains the upper-hand, pinning Jungkook's wrists over his head, blinking down at Jungkook's sleep eyes and smile, chin extended as he dreamily breathes, "God, I love you."
Namjoon teases him with a kiss, his lips close, their corners quirked when Jungkook bucks, trying to free himself, whining when he remains pinned.
"You're a menace," Namjoon lowly chides, biting the air by Jungkook's lips, eliciting from Jungkook a small whine.
"I keep you young," Jungkook flaunts, dizzy with love, rasping, "You keep me eager, mad with lust."
He gives Jungkook what he seeks, a kiss, so chaste Jungkook cries like it never happened when Namjoon pulls away, lilting, "You're a wild thing."
"Pretending to be tamed," Jungkook breathes, digging his heels into the grass, trying again to buck Namjoon off of him.
As his eyebrows rise towards his hairline, Namjoon laughs, "'You think I can't tame you?"
Jungkook's head rises from the grass, eyes dark and challenging when he drawls, "I know you can't."
He tests Jungkook's bold words by rolling his hips, smirking when Jungkook growls, rolling his own upwards. His knees are damp and the long grass surrounding them blows in the breeze, shielding them from any creature's unwelcome stare, and when he reaches down between their bodies, fingers gripping Jungkook's cock, he hums, releasing his hold on Jungkook's wrists, jumping when Jungkook's fingers fly to his jeans, his motor skills failing him as he begs Namjoon to help.
Instead of helping him, Namjoon bats his hands away, watching the moonlight reflect off of Jungkook's wide, pleading gaze.
"I know I said you can't tame me, but you can try," Jungkook sings, eyes twinkling how a puppy's would, too innocent for what he's suggesting.
"I know I don't need to try."
"Then what is it you're waiting for?" Jungkook asks breathlessly, shoving himself up onto his elbows, nose brushing Namjoon's when his eyes look past him, blinking up into the night sky. A salacious smirk tweaks his lips, and he mewls, darkly, "Pound me beneath the stars. Break me in. Give the stars a show."
His sangfroid falls like a diving bird, bringing forth from him a wanting lust that he channels through his ministrations, supporting the lift of Jungkook's hips by the small of his back, watching in awe as Jungkook grinds against him. He grips Jungkook's opened belt, tearing it off of him when Jungkook throws his head back, cursing into the night, groaning Namjoon's name when he dips to nip his neck, creating an abstract picture on Jungkook's skin through the faint purple, pink and blue bruises.
As they move together with a desperation that long-lost lovers would exhibit, the dew seeps into their clothes, wets their hair, freezes their skin, and when Jungkook becomes more insistent, begging Namjoon not to the car to fetch some condoms and lube. Namjoon hovers over him, breath heavy, eyes heavy-lidded. He blinks with worry down at Jungkook who holds Namjoon's hand to his heart, tilting forward to kiss the front of his wrist, a silent reassurance in his actions.
"Trust me," Jungkook mouths against Namjoon's wrist, hand running up the underside of his arm, nails raking back down it. "I want you just as you are."
It seems careless, but they've taken precautions through visiting the clinic each month, so his heart shouldn't be hammering, nor his hands trembling.
"C'mon, baby," Jungkook wriggles his hips as Namjoon shoves his fist into the wet grass, jaw going slack, "Fuck me before the clouds hide our audience."
Jungkook ends up on his hands and knees, ass in the air with his jeans pulled down around his knees as Namjoon fingers him open, marvelling over the brazenness of their combined lust, how its driven them out into the night, caring not about whats bugs might be lurking beneath their hands or what birds might be peering down at them from above. He fingers Jungkook open, spitting vulgarly to ease Jungkook's discomfort, and with his free hand lying flat on Jungkook's back, he watches, slack-jawed and awed as Jungkook rolls back onto his fingers, tearing fistfuls of grass from the earth as his need to be filled imbues him with longing.
Namjoon quickly undoes his belt, tugging his jeans down enough to pull his cock out, lining it up with Jungkook's hole before plunging in, his hips pushing them both forward, Jungkook reaching back to dig his nails into Namjoon's sides, wanting him to go deeper than he already is. The pace in which he fucks into Jungkook is animalistic, frenzied, and Jungkook's arms give out, chest falling to the grass, ass in the air as Namjoon grips his shoulders, fucking him without abandon.
It's gritty, it's dirty, it's one of the most boorish things Namjoon's ever done, but as he sweats, ears filling with the sweet sounds of Jungkook's pitiful whines, he can't bring himself to care. As Jungkook's words of ecstasy become garbled, he pushes himself back up onto his hands, lifting his torso until his back's pressed to Namjoon's chest. Namjoon loops his hands through Jungkook's arms, using them for leverage, and he growls when Jungkook squeaks, gasps bursting from him with every thrust.
He spills himself into Jungkook without warning, the rolling heat in his gut burning unimaginably hot, and he snaps his hips hard, drinking in air, vision going black as he hears Jungkook reach his own release, moans throaty and high, the walls of his entrance tightening around Namjoon's cock like a vice grip. They collapse in a heap, the silence seeming loud, the grass waving in the breeze above their heads.
He rolls off of Jungkook, their bodies at a distance just for a moment until Namjoon pulls Jungkook's lifeless form to him, situating him between his legs, wrapping his arms around his shoulders as he plants soft kisses into his hair. Jungkook's subdued, as delicate as a flower as he so often is after they partake in such acts, and Namjoon rocks him, humming an unsourced song as they gaze up at the sky, the stars seeming unfathomably brighter, like someone had plucked them each from the sky and fitted them with batteries.
It takes Jungkook several minutes to liven up, and he reaches back to kiss Namjoon lightly, croaking, "I think I got grass stains on my favourite jeans."
Smiling wide at the normality of his fear, Namjoon hugs him tight, promising he'll ask his mother about a remedy for the stains.
In spite of the wind picking up, they remain outside in their little ring of grass, allowing their bodies to recover.
When his cheeks resting on Jungkook's shoulder, he hears Jungkook blowing air and so blinks blearily.
"I thought you said you'd leave the stars alone," Namjoon gently reminds him, directing his gaze to where Jungkook's looking.
He ignores Namjoon, continuing his soft puffing when their heads get snapped towards the left, eyes catching sudden movement in the sky. A beam of light shoots across the darkness and the stars, lasting no more than two seconds, and Jungkook shouts in surprise, meeting Namjoon's eyes, his expression shocked whilst Namjoon's is soft, his smile fond.
"A falling star," Namjoon supplies, "Which isn't really a star. It is, however, a piece of heaven that's decided to join us down here."
"One day a star will burst," Jungkook announces determinedly, craning his neck to look across the lake in the general direction of where the falling star disappeared.
"I'm gonna buy you a telescope," Namjoon promises, stroking Jungkook's hand as the latter's attention returns to the sky, "You can teach Sungki all about the constellations."
Thanking Namjoon quietly, Jungkook directs his gaze downwards where he tears at the grass, plucking its strands out of the earth one by one, creating a neat little pile by his feet. Their dew-sodden clothes make them shiver, and when Namjoon insists they go inside to warm up, Jungkook stands, grimacing when he wobbles, throwing Namjoon a sullen look when he laughs at him before apologising quietly for earlier's arduous endeavour.
They walk through the grass hand in hand, looping down towards the shore before heading back towards the cabin, and right when they're on the rocky sand, Jungkook releases Namjoon's hand. He giggles devilishly as he begins tearing his shirt off, giggles waning when the cold bites at him, and Namjoon gapes at him, hoping he's not doing what he's thinking of doing.
"I gotta bathe," Jungkook squeaks, trying to warm up by jumping up and down and swinging his arms, looking silly in just his boxers, "So do you."
Namjoon's eyes bug. "No."
"Fancy a midnight dip, baby?" Jungkook scream-giggles, danger in his eyes as he bounces.
"No, no," Namjoon repeats in horror, eyes close to falling out of their sockets when Jungkook takes off running.
He bounds into the water with admirable courage, screaming the moment the frosty waves touch his skin, and all Namjoon can do is watch his mouth agape, shiver running down his spine at the thought of what Jungkook's experiencing. When its up to his knees, he dives, disappearing beneath the black surface for a moment before he surfaces like a sea creature, hair lying flat on his forehead and eyes squeezed shut when he yells.
His voice shakes as he shouts towards Namjoon, "The water's wonderful, come on, jump in."
"You're out of your mind," Namjoon replies flatly.
"I was never in it to begin with," Jungkook calls back, swimming around on his back, still shrieking intermittently.
He watches his head duck beneath the water, hands and feet creating a trail of foam in his wake, and like his limbs have a mind of their own, he starts stripping. He exhales loudly when he tugs off his shirt, chucking it onto the pile of Jungkook's clothes, adding his jeans onto it, and on the outskirts of the water, he shivers, hugging his body as he wonders why, why he's doing this.
Swinging his arms, clapping his biceps to pump himself up, Namjoon shouts, gritting his teeth as he steps forward, the icy water so cold it almost burns.
Too busy paddling around to warm up, Jungkook doesn't realise Namjoon's joined him until Namjoon's pained noises demand his attention. Treading water, Jungkook scream-laughs as he swims over to Namjoon, wrapping his legs around Namjoon's, sharing with him his violent jitters as Namjoon yells, "This is stupid, this i-is stupid."
"Don't you feel reborn?" Jungkook asks, laughing loudly, his eyes crinkling when Namjoon glares at him.
"I can't feel my body," he gripes, sucking in a sharp breath before dunking himself, regretting it as soon as he surfaces.
"It gets better, withstand it a bit more," Jungkook encourages, face alarmingly red as he floats in front of Namjoon, beauty annoyingly present even now.
It does get better, only because he can't feel his limbs, and as his shivers subside and Jungkook wraps his legs around his hips, Namjoon pulls him close, holding his waist. "You're crazy. We could've shared a nice, warm bath indoors," he grumps as they head back towards shore, Jungkook suddenly deciding they should race.
He's not the strongest swimmer, but he gives it his all, feet kicking furiously, arms slicing through the water like a knife. Jungkook leaves him in the dust, crawling out onto the rocky sand where he collapse, chest rising and falling slowly, complexion as red as a tomato. Namjoon joins him, last shred of energy he'd had leaving him as he lies there, realising forlornly that he's not as lithe as he used to be.
They collect their clothes, grabbing them before they take off running, rocks digging into their soles, twigs jabbing into their shins, and as they throw themselves into the warmth of the cabin, Namjoon staggers, falling onto the sofa where he covers himself with cushions, choosing anything to warm his frost-bitten body.
He lies there with his eyes closed, trying to calm the violent shivers that wrack his body. Jungkook appears, shoving the cushions off of Namjoon, throwing not one, not two, but three blankets onto him before instructing him to scoot ever. They slot themselves as comfortably as they can together, entangling their limbs to generate needed body heat, and it takes almost an hour for them to feel anything like a human again.
With their heads poking out from the blankets, Namjoon kisses Jungkook's red nose, whispering, "I can't believe you made me do that."
"I didn't," Jungkook insists, running his palm softly over Namjoon's abdomen, "I encouraged you, but you decided to do it yourself." Caught out, Namjoon blinks at a spot on the opposite wall, expression lax when Jungkook presses kisses across his face, purring, "Feed that thrill-seeker within you more often, Professor."
Jungkook sleeps like the dead, the night's excitement evidently too much for him. Namjoon can't sleep, is too wrapped up in his thoughts, like the water had jump-started a part of him he'd been ignoring. He hones in on one daunting thought, the one that makes his insides twist, the one about Jungkook's beautiful heart, his playful spirit, his shyness that hides his exuberance, his everything.
He's Namjoon's star. He shines like no-one he's ever known. He guides Namjoon's way, gleaming beautifully, lighting the world with his infectious vitality. He's one in a million, someone who Namjoon wishes to twinkle with, someone with whom he wants to fade with. These thoughts race through his mind as sleep takes him at dawn, the sun hurrying away the moon and her stars, waking Jungkook who upon seeing Namjoon's sleeping face, cuddles down beside him, drifting off whilst the nocturnal animals traipse back into their burrows, the fireflies retiring for the day, and the stars recharging themselves for another night of gleaming.
18th April, 1989.
The sun sits high in the blue, cloudless sky, beaming down at them as they sit cross-legged in the grass, both blushing at the thought of what went on there the previous night.
They eat strawberry sandwiches and drink orange juice, bathing in the sunlight, watching it bounce off of the water's surface, blinding their eyes.
Jungkook's stereo plays softly, already on its third set of batteries, drowning out the cicadas' songs, and Namjoon watches Jungkook pluck daisies from the grass, stabbing his nail into their stems before diligently joining them together. He's extremely focused, tongue poking out from his lips as Namjoon smiles at him.
"Sungki loves making those," Namjoon comments, waving away a flying bug from his face.
"I used to make these for my crushes," Jungkook bashfully shares, glancing at Namjoon briefly, "The girls loved them, one of them even kept hers years after. It's probably still sitting on her dressing table in her childhood home."
He finishes his masterpiece, crowning himself and posing as Namjoon giggles, laughter quietening from Jungkook lifts it from his head, reaching forward to place it on Namjoon.
He wears it for the rest of the day, laughing when they meet some hikers when they're out exploring, the man eyeing him strangely, but Namjoon doesn't care. Even as they sit at the fire that night, it sits prettily on his head. They eat peaches from a can, sharing ghost stories without the fear of scarring Sungki for life, and when they both fall quiet, he watches Jungkook, his inability to sit still more prominent than ever.
He pokes at the fire with a stick, sending its flames high up into the night before he gets bored, chucking it onto the forest floor before he turns his attention to his fingernails that he picks at, knee jigging, a furrow between his brows, and Namjoon remains quiet, observing Jungkook, wanting to learn his ways, gain insight into the inner workings of his mind. When he starts puffing and de-puffing his cheeks, Namjoon shifts in his chair, clearing his throat, "You're very unsettled tonight. Did you have too much sugar again?"
He laughs, but Jungkook doesn't, and his vacant expression concerns Namjoon. He leans forward, reaching his hand out to rest on Jungkook's knee when Jungkook suddenly stands, fingers interlocking behind his head when he walks away, alarming Namjoon who throws his blanket off, ready to go and investigate when Jungkook swings around, extending out his arm, begging Namjoon to remain seated.
Namjoon sits back slowly, his brows pulled together with worry when Jungkook stops his fiddling.
He clasps his hands together in front of him, shoulders risen towards his shoulders when he babbles, "Look, I don't know how to go about doing this. I've been thinking for weeks about how I wanted to do it and nothing seemed right. But being here, away from everyone, with just me as your company and you as mine, it's what made the most sense."
Gripping the arms of his lawn chair, Namjoon's heart sinks. He feels nauseous, like the world is falling away from him, and he tries to stand again, only this time Jungkook hurries over, falling to his knees as he gently guides Namjoon back down into his seat. Namjoon stares at the fire, face hot as panic swims through his veins. To his dismay, he sees tears streaking Jungkook's cheeks, though Jungkook tries to hide them, his head ducked and palms lying upwards on his lap.
"Baby," Namjoon cautiously soothes, wanting desperately to console him, to know what's wrong.
Jungkook wipes furiously at his face, and he finally meets Namjoon's eyes, bottom lip quivering when he holds out his hand, gesturing for Namjoon to take it.
He folds his two hands over Jungkook's, eyebrows risen in sympathy when he watches Jungkook suck in a slow, deep breath.
"I love you," Jungkook begins, resting his free hand on Namjoon's, "You've brightened my world in a way that you wouldn't even believe. When I'm with you, I feel like nothing matters, like I'm with who I'm supposed to be with," he pauses, and Namjoon, feeling lost but hanging onto every word that falls from Jungkook's mouth, shushes Jungkook as he releases a torn sob, "Happiness, to me, means being with you, being with Sungki, laughing with you, crying with you, doing everything with you. I want to be with you for as long as you're on earth, I want us to give Sungki a sibling, I want your everything."
He pauses, composing himself for a moment, and Namjoon stands at the edge of a cliff, wondering whether or not he's about to fall.
Jungkook smiles through his tears, his blotchy face beautiful even now, and that smile is enough to calm Namjoon, to lower his heart-rate, to pull him away from the cliff.
Reaching forward to swipe away the tears from Jungkook's cheeks, Namjoon watches him as he rummages around in his sweatshirt, sniffing loudly before he brandishes something from behind his back. He holds it between his hands, cupping it, hiding it from Namjoon's view, and as he lifts his head to lock eyes with Namjoon, he smiles, a lone tear trickling down his cheek when Namjoon's eyes drift down to the small box sitting on Jungkook's palm.
His expression falls, and he stares at Jungkook, heart-rate picking up again, tears now filling his eyes, and he leans forward, planting a lasting kiss on Jungkook's lips when Jungkook opens the small box, revealing a simple, gold band. Namjoon's tears fall uncontrollably, a choked-off sob leaving him as his hands clamp over his mouth. He begins nodding before Jungkook even opens his mouth.
In a quivering voice, Jungkook asks the question. "Kim Namjoon. Baby. Will you marry me?"
He blinks down at the ring, squinting through his tears as he plucks it from the box, fitting it onto his ring finger as he repeats, again and again, "Yes."
They throw themselves into a crushing hug, Jungkook still on his knees, hiccuping into Namjoon's sweater as they rock them, soothing Jungkook, ignoring his own emotions. They stay like that, close and in tears until Jungkook pulls away, saying through a teary laugh that his knees are sore. With his temples pounding from crying, Namjoon stares down at the ring, blowing a raspberry when he laughs, "You little terror, I never saw it coming."
"That was the point," Jungkook smiles, sitting on his hunkers, watching Namjoon with love in his eyes, "I've been psyching myself up for this moment for weeks."
Gobsmacked, all Namjoon can do is blink down at the ring, and he asks, bemusedly, "How did you pull this off? Who was in on this? Tae? Jimin?'
Jungkook taps his nose, teasing secrecy when Namjoon feels an almighty urge to kiss him fill his heart. He feeds it, scooping Jungkook up onto his lap, hugging him close as he excitedly taps his feet against the dirt. "Sungki won't be able to sleep until the wedding," Namjoon laughs as Jungkook fiddles with the ring on Namjoon's finger.
"Sungki already knows," Jungkook informs, flinching when Namjoon dramatically turns his head to gawp at him. "He saw it sitting on the dining table when you were at work one day. I had to tell him. He's excited, by the way. Asked me if Pip, Snugs and him could be the ring-bearers."
"I can't believe he didn't say anything," Namjoon utters in surprise, "Kid couldn't keep a secret if his life depended on it."
They sit in contemplative silence for a moment, Namjoon trying to wade through his whirring thoughts when he groans, "How am I supposed to pick my best man?"
Throwing his head back, Jungkook hums, "I think it should be Yoongi." He pauses for a moment, staring unwaveringly at Jungkook's small smile when he inhales, "He was the one who helped me organise this, after all."
Jungkook nods, grinning, "I've been consulting with him since the day of his wedding."
"What? But you—you were—"
"Getting cold feet when you teased the idea with me? I know. I was going through a plethora of emotions, when you brought it up so casually I just crumbled."
"Baby," Namjoon pouts, rubbing his back, pausing, bottom lip protruding before he asks, again, "Yoongi, though? Min Yoongi?"
Jungkook shoves at him, laughing loudly when Namjoon shakes his head in disbelief, deciding he needs to have a heart to heart with the man in question when they're home.
In bed that night, with their limbs entangled, Namjoon's hand held above them, they both admire the plain band. For something so small, so insignificant, the meaning it holds frightens Namjoon, but he ignores the visions he has of it falling down the sink, of it lying beneath the sofa, of it sitting on Snugs' droopy ear.
When Jungkook's breathing is evening out, Namjoon runs his fingertips along his arm, an everlasting smile on his lips. He glances towards the window, gaze staying there when he watches two birds dart between two trees in the blue hue of the moon, their wings carrying them to one another, flapping as they tussle. After they rest on a branch, bodies close as they snuggle in close together, Namjoon nudges Jungkook, whispering, "What baby names do you like?"
Groaning, Jungkook smacks his lips together, lifting his head to blink blearily down at Namjoon.
"For a boy, I like Orion. For a girl..." he pauses, lips pursing in thought before his eyes glimmer, "Celestial."
The names feel right, and Namjoon stores them away, hoping either will fit, and before Jungkook drifts off again, Namjoon kisses the top of his head, whispering, "I love you more."
He can feel Jungkook's smile against his chest, and in the twilight, feeling lighter than he's ever felt, Namjoon allows himself to close his eyes after Jungkook answers, slowly, "I love you more more."
tell me what you thought... loved it? hated it? and if by some grace of god you made it this far, thank you for reading. ♥