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vanilla, chocolate, honey

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At approximately 2:25pm on a Tuesday, Jeongguk steps into the kitchen, presses his back against the wall, and lets out a dreamy sigh worthy of a teen drama.

“Hyung,” he whispers, breathy and reverent, “I’m in love.”

Yoongi doesn’t even look up from the papers spread across the counter in front of him to answer with a teasing “oh, really?” because this is the third time this has happened this month.

Jeon Jeongguk just has a lot of love in his heart.

“But it’s different this time!” he insists, just like he did last week. And the week before that. His impossibly wide eyes grow impossibly wider, fist gripping a loose handful of his apron and the shirt beneath. “My heart, hyung. If you could have seen the way it was about to beat out of my chest.”

Yoongi glances up from his sketches just as Jeongguk sprawls the upper half of his body across the counter, flour residue clouding up and kissing his cheekbones, a soft dusting of powder snow on honey skin.

He clears his throat, tries for casual. Probably doesn’t achieve it. “Who’s watching the front?”

“Jinsook just clocked in. I’m off in five.”

He’s making that face he does when he wants to keep talking about something, the infectious smile with the half-open mouth and chattering teeth, like he’s begging Yoongi to ask him about Work Crush #78.

Yoongi gives in, because he always does.

“I’ll bite,” he says. “This one didn’t come in for a wedding cake, did he?”

“Birthday cupcakes,” Jeongguk chirps. “And ouch, hyung, that was one time and Minwoo-hyung still comes in to talk sometimes. His wife is lovely, and their baby is the sweetest little thing.”

“Birthday cupcakes.” Yoongi purses his lips, thinking of the work ahead of them. Cupcakes are one thing, but birthday cupcakes are always an entirely different story. He can already feel his knuckles cramping from sculpting a million and a half decorations from gum paste and modeling chocolate. “For his wife?”

That was one time, too, and Jieun and Jinri noonas thought it was cute.”

“Cute,” Yoongi murmurs under his breath, “that’s what you are.”

Jeongguk tilts his head like he hadn’t quite heard and wants him to repeat himself. Yoongi clears his throat and changes the subject.

He finds himself doing that a lot these days.

“So he’s not planning a wedding and he’s not planning a significant other’s birthday.” Yoongi purses his lips, twirls his pencil between outstretched fingers in faux thought. “Does he look like an escaped convict?”

“Hyung.”

“Kidding.” He brings his eraser to the paper in front of him, smudging out a messy sketch. Two of his best friends are getting married in the spring, and he’s taken it upon himself to design their cake, even if it takes a billion failed doodles and his perfectionistic side kicking into overdrive.

It also means Jeongguk crowding into his personal bubble to lean over his shoulder and examine the progress he’s made, plucking the pencil from between his fingers without a word to sketch his erased flower back in. He smells like icing and cinnamon and espresso, and it’s familiar—Yoongi’s entire existence is permeated with the scent at this point—but somehow better, for reasons Yoongi won’t let himself dwell on for too long.

“Good?” Jeongguk asks, voice quiet and soft, looking for approval.

Yoongi surveys the drawing again. Jeongguk’s redrawn the wafer paper sunflower in the middle of the second tier instead of the first, so now it doesn’t distract too much from the sugar work planned for the top of the cake. For the first time all afternoon—and probably since he’s started planning this damn cake—Yoongi is satisfied with what he sees on the page in front of him. Enough, even, to consider texting the picture to Seokjin and Hoseok tonight to get their thoughts on it.

“Good,” Yoongi answers, too focused on the way Jeongguk’s lips form around the question, and because the air between them now is too thick, too quiet, with only the muffled sound of the radio from the main shop filling the silence, tacks on, “So what’s up with these cupcakes then?”

It’s enough, at least, to get Jeongguk to step back, visibly perking up. He pulls a folded sheet of graph paper from the chest pocket of his apron and unfolds it on a clean section of the counter, revealing a rough sketch and some scribbled notes: three dozen cupcakes for an animal themed birthday party, chocolate fudge with marshmallow filling, a dozen with cat-themed decorations, a dozen with dogs, a dozen with rabbits, and an extra with a number 5 candle and a white chocolate disc that says Happy Birthday Soobin! in red royal icing.

Yoongi’s blank expression meets Jeongguk’s gleeful one.

“Jeongguk-ah,” he says slowly, “did this man come in for cupcakes for his five-year-old child?”

“Four, still, technically,” Jeongguk says, but he’s bouncing on the balls of his feet like a kid himself. “He was so cute when he talked about him, hyung. His whole face lit up, and he’s got these dimples—”

If he’s being honest with himself, Yoongi doesn’t listen as closely as he probably should. He’ll meet the guy himself in a few days—there’s a date and time noted on the side of the paper, this Saturday at two—and decide for himself if he’s as great as Jeongguk seems to think he is. They never quite are, with some notable exceptions—he’d brought up Jieun, Jinri, and Minwoo for a reason. Not everyone is so kind upon realizing that the bright-eyed guy behind the counter falls half in love with most every person who’s nice to him for long enough.

Yoongi’s about to say as much, but Jeongguk has by now sensed the way he’s gone quiet, the momentary twitch of his face into a stern expression. Jeongguk is staring at him with a similar look on his own face, his bright eyes dimmed just a bit and his smile fallen into an almost petulant frown.

“Hyung, you know I’m not a kid anymore.”

He isn’t. Jeongguk was twenty when Yoongi first opened the bakery, a transplant from Busan fresh off of his military service and looking for a part time job while he was in college. He’d had no experience, but Yoongi had hired him anyway because he was a recent college graduate himself and needed all the help he could get, and he seemed like a hardworking kid behind the stuttering nervousness and shy demeanor.

He’s 26 now, taller and broader and more outgoing than he’d been back then, more sure of himself. Smart and capable and so, so kind. Yoongi had been half expecting his two weeks’ notice two years ago when he graduated, but Jeongguk had looked at him like he’d grown a second head and asked, “Why would I leave when I like it so much here?”

(Privately, Yoongi’s heart had warmed at the statement; publicly, he’d playfully socked Jeongguk in the shoulder and told him to start a new batch of cheesecake filling.)

“I know,” Yoongi replies quietly, dropping his pencil on top of the notes.

“I know you know,” says Jeongguk, sitting down again so they’re eye level: his big and shining, Yoongi’s heavy and tired, “and it means a lot to me, hyung, that you’re concerned. I know I’ve had some bad run-ins in the past, and it doesn’t exactly reflect well on the business if we’re getting shitty online reviews because the guy behind the counter keeps flirting with asshole straight dudes who think they’re gonna catch The Gay—”

That one stings, just a little. “You know the reviews aren’t what I was bothered about, Guk.”

“I do,” he confirms, soft, the ghost of a smile slipping onto his bitten lips before he’s serious again. “I was younger then, though. I’m a better judge of character now, and I know I sound like a crazy person half the time, but.”

And Jeongguk’s smile is warm and hopeful now, coloring his cheeks pink beneath the dusting of flour. “You don’t have to worry about me so much, yeah?”

It makes Yoongi smile back unwittingly, that goofy grin of his. “Wow, Jeongguk-ah, this…” He glances down at the notes, the name written at the top of the page, “Kim Namjoon guy must really be something.”

A snort of a laugh spills from Jeongguk’s lips as he stands back up, swinging around to the computer in the corner so he can pull up his timecard and clock out. He does so, untying his apron from around his waist and then draping himself across Yoongi’s back in a lazy half-hug.

“It’s not about him, cute as he may be,” he says. “Guess I’m just having a good day. You smell nice, hyung.”

Yoongi hums to cover the hitch in his breath at the proximity. “I smell like sweat and burnt sugar.”

“It’s a good smell,” Jeongguk insists, before pulling back to toss his apron through the closet door in the corner and quietly cheering when he—presumably—makes it into the laundry basket. He takes his bag from the closet as well, twirling his car keys around his finger and whistling a tune that he’s had stuck in Yoongi’s head all day. “See you tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi answers, turning his attention idly back to the wedding cake plans, but not before he calls after Jeongguk’s retreating form, “Text me when you get home.”

And even though he’d just scolded Yoongi on not treating him like a kid anymore, Jeongguk turns around with a thousand watt smile and a thumbs up and replies, “Will do, hyung!”

That damn smile. Too cute for his own good. Too cute for Yoongi’s good, too.

He sends the cake sketch to his group chat with Seokjin and Hoseok, pencils Kim Namjoon’s appointment into his calendar, and by the time both Seokjin and Hoseok have replied with a trillion exclamation points and emojis, he has a new text from Jeongguk.

home safe!
thanks for letting me rant at u, hyung. sorry if i came off blunt, but i really meant it when i said it makes me feel good when u look out for me. you’re the best. <3
don’t work yourself too hard and sleep well tonight!!!

glad to hear it
you know i’m always here for you :)
thank you and same to you, guk-ah

 


 

His name had been Sanghyun.

He’d come in, at first, just for a coffee and a muffin, and Jeongguk had been the picture of polite customer service. Fixed his latte perfectly, wrapped his muffin well enough to keep it warm in the outside chill, took his payment like he would anyone else, and bowed graciously when he dropped money in the tip jar.

It was when he came in the next day, and twice the next week, and thrice the week after that, that Jeongguk—twenty-two at the time, still shy but slowly unlearning it—started getting ideas. Sanghyun knew him by name at that point, would greet him with a charming smile and a raised hand every time he walked in, no matter how busy it was. He would ask about Jeongguk’s day, tell him how his own went, compliment him on his latte art, make requests and cheer him on when he expertly crafted whatever it was that Sanghyun asked for in the foam.

Jeongguk couldn’t be blamed for reading a little bit into it.

So when Sanghyun stopped by on the Monday of the fourth week in a row, Jeongguk was ready. He’d prepped himself the night before, pacing around his room and murmuring lines under his breath until his roommate banged on his bedroom door told him to go the hell to sleep already. Sanghyun ordered his usual muffin and latte to go, Jeongguk popped the muffin into the warmer and started to make his drink, only this time instead of scrawling Sanghyun, Honey Almond Latte on the sleeve, replaced it with his own name and number.

Better for Jeongguk’s nerves was the fact that Sanghyun was in a hurry that morning and didn’t have time to stick around and chat beyond a hurried “thank you, Jeongguk-ah” and a smile as he grabbed his order and rushed out the door. No awkward fidgeting as he waited for Sanghyun to respond in person, no stuttered explanations if he did comment on it.

Worse for Jeongguk’s nerves was that Sanghyun didn’t come by the next day. Or the next. Or the day after that. A week went by without him showing up in the bakery after nearly a month of stopping in more weekdays than not, and for that same week, Jeongguk’s phone was similarly silent, only texts coming in from his roommate, asking if he wanted him to bring takeout on the way back from class, or Yoongi, telling him he could come in an hour late if he wanted to, that their morning delivery run had been rescheduled.

During the second week since Sanghyun’s absence, the sixth since he’d started coming to the bakery in the first place, Yoongi showed up for their early shift with his phone in his hand and a grave look on his face.

“Jeongguk-ah,” he’d asked, picking his words carefully, “did something happen with a customer?”

Jeongguk’s heart dropped into his stomach. He should’ve known not to flirt with customers on the clock, should’ve thought twice before batting his eyes at Sanghyun, should’ve just bit his tongue and not shown off every time he showed up in the store.

What did he have to show for it, anyway? Nothing but a pit of humiliation deep in his gut whenever he thought about writing his number on that stupid cup and now, apparently, a pissed off boss.

“Hyung, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have tried to flirt with—”

Yoongi, key in the door but not yet turned, didn’t let him finish. “Hey, hey, calm down. I’m not mad at you, I’m just—I had to report a review online for hate speech this morning, Jeongguk-ah. Why didn’t you tell me if someone was harassing you?”

The pit in Jeongguk’s stomach only grew more cavernous. He could feel his face pale, hands start fidgeting on their own accord.

“I—” he’d tried. “Nobody harassed me.”

Yoongi’s eyebrows twitched into an expression that said he didn’t quite believe him. “We got a review late last night from somebody named Lim Sanghyun who called ‘the guy behind the counter’ a word I’m not gonna say out loud for fear of getting really pissed off. Said he told him off for—fuck it, it’s too early to have to repeat some homophobic garbage out loud. I’ve never spoken to this dude, and you’re the only other guy that could have been behind the counter, so I figured—shit, are you okay?”

Jeongguk didn’t realize there were tears in his eyes until one fell hot down the side of his cheek. “I—” he tried, choking on his words. “He never. He never said that to me. Out loud, at least. I—”

Yoongi unlocked the door finally, ushered the both of them into the warmth of the bakery before locking it behind them and pulling a chair out from one of the tables for Jeongguk to sit in.

“Hey,” he’d said, and it was a terrible time, with a sunken heart and choked back tears, for Jeongguk to realize that Min Yoongi sure had pretty, pretty eyes. “Breathe, breathe, it’ll be okay. He’s never allowed in here again. I’ll let the whole staff know, I’ll make a goddamn printout of his face and plaster it on the bulletin board as an undesirable.”

Jeongguk let out a broken half-sob of a laugh. “I wrote my number on his cup because he kept coming in and he was handsome and I thought he was flirting with me.”

“Sometimes in life, the hot guys are assholes. Most of the time, actually,” Yoongi chuckled, and they sat in a comfortable silence, only broken by a couple of sniffles as Jeongguk calmed himself down. When he finally did, Yoongi slung an arm around his shoulder, a half-hug, and said, “I had no idea you were even gay.”

“Bisexual,” Jeongguk amended, quiet, as they stepped into the kitchen. “I think. I don’t know, I’m still—it’s new.”

He knew Yoongi was gay—he’d had a boyfriend at that point, Kihyun, though they’d ended up breaking up a few months later—and if Jeongguk was being totally honest with himself, that had been something of a turning point for him in figuring himself out. Because Yoongi had a boyfriend and was a confident and normal, functioning member of society, and Jeongguk was an awkward college student who sometimes caught himself staring for too long at his roommate’s lips, who just wanted to feel normal.

Yoongi smiled at him, ruffled his hair, said, “You can stay in the back when we open today, yeah? I’ll take the counter for once,” and when Jeongguk tried to protest (“I’m fine now, hyung, it was just shock, I’m really good, see?”), tacked on, “You’re getting good at baking, and frankly, my wrists could use a day off from kneading.”

And for the second time in the span of minutes, Jeongguk’s idiotic brain thought, God, his smile is so pretty.

Four years and some change later, Jeongguk is over it—the review, that is, and Sanghyun, but not the way his stomach flips every time Min Yoongi lets out a wry laugh and leans against his side. There have been assholes, sure, but for every jerk, there’s been even more wonderful people, and that’s all that really matters to him now.

Yoongi, however, is not, judging by the way he still raises a skeptical brow every time Jeongguk relays a story about the cute customer of the day. It would be flattering if Jeongguk thought Yoongi might be into him in any way, but he still gets the distinct sense that Yoongi thinks of him as a little brother who needs to be protected rather than a 26-year-old man who’s practically been screaming at him to notice him for years now.

So sometimes he snaps, just a bit, like he had the other day. He’s trying, he really is.

 


 

On Saturday morning, Jeongguk wakes up early and goes about his usual routine on days that he doesn’t work the early morning shift: goes for a run, stops at the convenience store below his apartment for a cheap coffee and an energy bar, and heads back upstairs for a shower.

If he does it all with an extra pep in his step on this particular Saturday, nobody has to know it’s because of the anxious energy thrumming through his veins at the prospect of seeing Kim Namjoon again.

He walks into the bakery a few minutes before nine o’clock to Seokjin seated at the counter, head bent over a paper sitting on the marble and sipping on a drink—a peppermint affogato, because it’s very nearly seasonally appropriate and Seokjin has a sweet tooth—and Yoongi leaning on the other side, pointing something out to him, wearing a black turtleneck sweater with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows and half-rimmed glasses, because apparently he wants to make Jeongguk suffer today. They both glance up when the bell over the door rings, and Jeongguk greets them with a wave.

“Someone’s sprightly this morning,” Seokjin murmurs suggestively, waggling his eyebrows in Jeongguk’s direction.

Jeongguk rolls his eyes and shoves Seokjin’s shoulder on his way behind the counter to fetch his apron and clock in.

“So disrespectful to your hyung!” Seokjin protests, loud and shrill. He’s lucky there’s no one else in the shop to get bothered by it, otherwise Yoongi would probably hit him as well for being obnoxious.

Jeongguk, on the other hand, nearly mistypes his login password because Yoongi breathes one of his soft, embarrassed laughs, the one he ducks his head to hide, so his bangs fall into his eyes and he has to brush them back into place with a careful hand.

“Leave him alone, Jin-hyung, the love of his life is coming in today.”

He’s looking a little too carefully at Jeongguk, who’s already covering his face to groan into his hands. Jeongguk doesn’t even get to reply, because Seokjin is already snorting with laughter.

“Ooh, so today’s the day Hot Possibly Single Dad comes by again? I regret coming by so early so I can’t eavesdrop.”

“I’m not above accidentally spilling a bowl of hot donut glaze down your back,” Jeongguk grouses.

“Okay, but Hoseok would l—” Seokjin spits in return, cut off by Yoongi making a horrified face and Jeongguk fake gagging. He makes another series of loud, offended noises and crows, “See? Disrespectful, the both of you! And right when I was about to compliment you for our wedding cake design!”

He slides the paper in front of him closer to Jeongguk’s side of the counter. It’s the same drawing he’d helped Yoongi with a few days ago, only now it’s been digitally rendered and roughly shaded in the wedding’s color scheme, soft yellow and green and pink for springtime. Both Yoongi’s and Seokjin’s handwriting litters the border, in different colored ink, noting small changes and color suggestions for the unshaded bits.

“Hyung did all the work,” Jeongguk insists, pulling the paper closer to his face to decipher Yoongi’s messy scroll. “I just drew a flower.”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” says Yoongi, resting a barely-there arm over his shoulders, and oh. Oh. That feels… nicer than it should. “That flower you drew completely got rid of my creative block, Guk-ah.”

It takes removing himself entirely from Yoongi’s tentative embrace to get ahold of his emotions, calm the redness that rises to his cheeks, and Jeongguk hates himself for it a little bit. Yoongi’s not often outwardly physically affectionate, he should let himself bask in the rarity of the moment, but—

But if he’s ever going to get over the fact that Yoongi likely sees him as a dopey younger brother, he needs to get a grip. Even if it means not getting to revel in the warmth of Yoongi’s touch.

Goddamn his stupid, open heart.

He really is, teasing aside, looking forward to seeing Namjoon. He likes his little fleeting crushes, post-Sanghyun. During a slow shift, it’s fun to turn on the charm and make someone smile with a little good-natured flirting. Rarely does it lead to much more than a blushing customer or a more generous than usual tip, but he’s gotten a few dates out of it, and a short term relationship or two. And even if he doesn’t, making someone leave in a better mood than when they’d come in is always a perk.

Kim Namjoon had been especially kind and especially handsome with his coiffed hair and round, dimpled cheeks, and he’d laughed at Jeongguk’s lame jokes and tacked on a warm, “See you Saturday,” when he left the shop, like he was actually looking forward to the prospect of seeing him again, and so Jeongguk lets himself be excited.

But today isn’t a slow shift by any means, not on a Saturday afternoon in November when everyone is scrambling to get their orders in before the rush of winter weddings and office parties, and it isn’t until he clocks back in after his lunch break that Jeongguk remembers that Namjoon will be there within the hour.

It’s… mildly unnerving. Jeongguk had the good sense to clean up a little during his lunch, stroll down the street to the cosmetics shop Seokjin manages to wipe sweat off of his face, spritz his smudged shirt with a perfume tester. Seokjin, in an attempt to free himself from an indecisive teenager who wanted him to swatch the entirety of the store on his forearms for them, had insisted on doing some quick makeup, so his eyebrows are neatly groomed and filled, the stubborn acne scarring along his jaw smoothed over with concealer, soft shadow buffed at the outer corners of his eyes.

He knows he looks fine—good, even—he’s just. Anxious. Wants to make a good impression.

Namjoon walks into the bakery six minutes before two o’clock, and the smile he sends Jeongguk could probably cure the common cold—as it is, Jeongguk feels invigorated, not like he’s been on his feet since the moment he woke up. Namjoon is dressed differently this time: soft and warm against the cold outside, instead of the business casual he’d come in with on Tuesday.

The other difference, too, is that Namjoon doesn’t come in alone. Close to his side is a little boy who barely reaches his hips, one hand tucked into Namjoon’s and the other holding a little blue stuffed koala to his chest. His hair is deep brown and messy beneath his little grey beanie, and when his jaw drops open at the sight of the full display case of pastries, a pair of dimples sink into his round cheeks.

“Good afternoon, Namjoon-ssi!” Jeongguk greets, leaning over the counter to wave and to get closer to the child at his side. He smiles his sweetest smile and adds, “And you must be Soobin? Hi, my name’s Jeongguk!”

Soobin’s eyes go wide, and he lets go of Namjoon’s hand to duck behind his leg instead, holding tight enough that the koala gets squished between the two of them.

“It’s okay, bun, he’s nice,” Namjoon coos, reaching behind himself to tickle the back of Soobin’s neck, forcing a giggle from the boy’s lips. Both of them look up at Jeongguk at the same time, and the resemblance is striking—same eyes, same little nose, same dimples, the only real difference is that Namjoon has a smile full of perfectly straight teeth, and Soobin has the missing front tooth of an (almost) five-year-old.

Either way, Jeongguk’s heart is soft.

Namjoon smiles sheepishly, carding his fingers through the hair sticking out of his son’s beanie, brushing it off of his forehead. “He’s shy when he first meets people. Nice to see you again, Jeongguk.”

“Likewise.” Jeongguk tries not to let his eyes linger too long on Namjoon’s full lips, or the way his dimples sink a little deeper into one cheek than the other. “Let me go get Yoongi-hyung, he’s drawn out some ideas for your cupcakes.”

Yoongi doesn’t need to be told, apparently, because when Jeongguk pushes the kitchen door open, he’s already shut the oven on his next batch of canelés and is washing sticky sugar off of his hands in the sink.

“Tell him I’ll be out there in, like, three minutes,” he says without looking up. “Is his son here?”

“Yeah.”

“Get them both a drink, on the house.”

Namjoon, however, insists on paying. “I like supporting small businesses,” he says after Jeongguk hands over a hazelnut mocha for him and a hot cocoa for Soobin.

Jeongguk, with a conspiratorial wink in Soobin’s direction that makes the boy duck his head bashfully behind a mountain of melting whipped cream and sprinkles, refuses to open the cash register. “Hyung says it’s on the house and I’m nothing if not a good employee.”

If he notices Namjoon dropping a few thousand won into the tip jar when he doesn’t think Jeongguk isn’t looking, neither of them says a thing about it.

Yoongi, emerging from the kitchen with a manila folder of sketches, stops in his tracks when he first spots Namjoon sitting across the counter, and Jeongguk wants to say see, hyung, I told you he was cute, but he refrains. It’s barely half a second, after which Yoongi clears his throat and introduces himself with an outstretched hand.

“Min Yoongi,” he offers, smile genuine but careful as he surveys Namjoon. He, too, sends a wink in Soobin’s direction, and now Jeongguk can see the little boy hiding his smile behind his koala. “I’m the owner.”

Namjoon, on the other hand, is bright and unabashed, rising from his seat to accept the handshake. “Kim Namjoon,” he says, then gestures at the boy next to him. “And this is the almost-birthday boy, my son Soobin. Do you want to say hi, bun?”

Yoongi crouches so he’s eye level with Soobin, grins at him—genuine, this time, all gums and teeth—and says, “Hi, Soobin. You can call me hyung, yeah?”

The boy finally speaks, a barely audible, “Hi, Yoongi-hyung, hi, Jeongguk-hyung,” and Yoongi stands back up, meeting Namjoon’s sunny grin, and—

Oh.

They look good together.

There’s a clear height difference, Yoongi standing several centimeters shorter (Jeongguk doesn’t want to say that Yoongi’s the perfect forehead kiss height for Namjoon, but the thought is there), but their hands are just about the same size where they’re splayed close on the counter, Yoongi’s shoulders nearly as wide as Namjoon’s despite their difference in size. They’re both full of contradicting features: soft noses and sharp eyes, Yoongi’s lips thin and petal pink, Namjoon’s thick and bitten red.

Jeongguk may have thought—in the back of his mind, the dark corners of self-doubt that whisper to him whenever he thinks too long and too hard—that he’d be jealous, but the feeling just… doesn’t come. Not when Yoongi sits across the counter from Namjoon, rests his chin on his hand, and laughs that shy, goofy laugh that he usually reserves for the cute ahjummas who pinch his cheeks and call him handsome while picking up their orders, or—or Kihyun, actually. The last time Jeongguk heard that specific laugh was when Yoongi and Kihyun were still together.

It’s so pretty that he wants to hear it every day, wants Namjoon to come by every day so he can make Yoongi laugh like that and so Jeongguk can bask in the warmth that already seems to surround them, roughly two-point-five seconds after meeting.

Yoongi looks over his shoulder at Jeongguk, making him suddenly all too aware that he occupies a corporeal form. That he’s in the room, and Yoongi’s staring at him with a wry smile, and Namjoon is biting back a shy one of his own, and Soobin is blinking between the three of them while very determinedly sipping hot cocoa from a spoon without spilling it on his stuffed animal.

Jeongguk makes a small noise of acknowledgement, to which Yoongi responds by reaching for the very first bit of him that his fingers can grab, the strings of his apron, and tugging him over by it.

“You’re part of this meeting too, knucklehead.”

Yoongi gestures to the open seat next to him, and to the rough sketches of the cupcakes that he’d offered his input on.

“Oh,” Jeongguk says, barely above a whisper, throat dry. “Oh. Right. I’ll—” He carefully sets down the mug he’s been absentmindedly drying for the past two minutes and settles into the chair. Tries not to feel too warm when Yoongi leans that much closer to him, or when Namjoon thanks him for helping with the design with a flush on his cheeks that’s not from the cold anymore.

He fails at that, miserably so, but indulging himself like this, on the receiving end of two of the best smiles he’s ever seen, feels good, and so he lets himself.

 


 

It feels a little silly (a lot silly, borderline stupid) to feel this way—bouncing and anxious like a teenager with a crush, heart fluttering in his chest like popcorn popping against his ribcage—but, Namjoon reasons with his reflection, red-cheeked and biting down on a smile, he needs to let himself feel it. He spends so much time worrying about everything, but this?

This feels good. Nice. A sort of uncomplicated pleasant that he hasn’t felt in a while.

(Not that he doesn’t often feel pleasant—he has a secure job, a nice apartment with a river view, and the sweetest and smartest little boy who makes him proud to call himself his father every single day. But this specific kind of pleasant, butterflies in the pit of his stomach and hope on the tip of his lips, is a treat that he rarely lets himself indulge in.)

“Appa?”

Breaking eye contact with the mirror, Namjoon turns to the side to face said little boy. Soobin is holding his hands out, pouting at the sink basin.

“Can’t reach,” he says with all the pent-up frustration of a nearly five-year-old who, even stretched high on his tippy toes, still can’t quite turn the water on in most public restrooms.

Soobin, thirty minutes into their consultation at the bakery and about ten after finishing off his hot cocoa, had very gently tugged on Namjoon’s sleeve, stood on his chair, and whispered in his ear, “I have to pee, Appa, really bad,” so now here they are, in the bathroom, Namjoon holding Soobin up like a human stepstool so he can wash his hands. Jeongguk had pinky promised—and made Yoongi promise, too—to keep Koya, the koala he’s been attached to since he was a baby, safe at the counter, so his son has been trying to rush himself along to get back to him.

Back on the ground, hands clean and dry and beanie straightened, Soobin tilts his head up at his father and asks, “Are they your friends?”

In any other situation, it would be easy to say “we just met,” but Namjoon hums around the question. He unbuttons and then redoes the snaps on Soobin’s coat, wipes a smudge of melted sprinkle off of the corner of his mouth with the pad of his thumb, making the boy crinkle his nose in displeasure.

“I’d like them to be,” Namjoon answers finally, because it’s easier for a small child to digest than, “I’ve had a puppy crush on Jeongguk for half a week, and now we can probably add Yoongi-hyung to that list too.”

“Oh,” Soobin says, and then, “Okay.”

“Okay?”

They’ve been trying to teach Soobin to use his words lately. He’s a shy kid by nature, a lot like Namjoon himself was at that age, so Namjoon knows better than to fault him for it or push him too hard out of his comfort zone, but also wants him to know that being open and honest with his feelings will only make him an even more wonderful kid.

“Okay,” Soobin repeats, then hums like he’s trying to find the right words to say next, something he’s undoubtedly picked up from Namjoon. “Yoongi-hyung makes pretty cakes, and Jeongguk-hyung has pretty hair.”

“He does, and he does,” Namjoon agrees. “What do you like about his hair?”

Soobin’s returning smile is wide and gummy. He’s so cute with his missing tooth that Namjoon has to refrain from taking a picture of every single one of his smiles, even though his camera roll is already brimming with pictures of him. “It’s got pink!” he says, gesturing at the bits of hair sticking out of his hat like they’re the scattered streaks of rosy blonde in the front of Jeongguk’s golden brown bangs. “Like when your hair was pink, Appa! Remember?”

“I do remember,” Namjoon confirms, tilting his head as Soobin reaches to thread his fingers in his hair, now a soft, faded caramel brown. “Do you want to tell him that you like his hair, and tell Yoongi-hyung that you like his cake?”

Fingers buried in Namjoon’s hair, Soobin nods.

“Then you should tell them soon, because Mommy will be here any minute to take you to volleyball.”

That’s all it takes for Soobin to tug Namjoon by the hand, surprisingly strong for his age, out of the bathroom and back to the counter, where Yoongi and Jeongguk are still sitting practically shoulder to shoulder, poring over the pages of cupcake sketches.

(Soobin had, of course, picked every design idea that included more sweets, so now the animals’ ears will be made out of cookies, and they’ll have tails of poured and painted chocolate. Namjoon had mouthed a silent “I’m sorry” over Soobin’s head for the extra work, to which Yoongi had shrugged, nonchalant, and Jeongguk had winked.)

(Cute.)

Jeongguk catches Soobin’s eye first, mouth dropping into a small O shape.

“He’s back!” he cries, dramatic, holding Soobin’s koala in the air above his head. “See, Koya, I told you he’d be back for you! Koya missed you, Soobin-ah.”

And there’s that pleasantness again, that warmth blooming in Namjoon’s chest, hearing Soobin burst into giggles as he gratefully accepts his bear back.

He tells them both, with minimal coercing, what he’d told Namjoon in the bathroom, which earns him a high-five from Jeongguk and a cupcake from Yoongi—a test run, he insists, so he knows if he likes the taste before the party.

He does, because it’s cake and he’s a preschooler, but his happy humming with each bite seems to please Yoongi.

For a few minutes, they just talk, and Soobin comes out of his shell enough to ask Yoongi how he learned to bake (“lots of hard, hard work and helping my parents in the kitchen when I was a kid, so listen well to your dad, yeah?”), and Jeongguk if his hair has been any other colors (“it was red for Halloween, but it was a lot of upkeep”).

Namjoon almost, almost feels mournful when the bakery door opens and Soobin’s attention is pulled away from the conversation. Almost, but not quite, not when he lights up like a firecracker and waves a frosting-sticky hand in the air.

“Mommy, look!” Soobin’s on his feet before Namjoon can even try to clean his fingers. “Hyungs drew cupcakes for my birthday!”

In the doorway, Euna is totally unfazed by the mess that is their son after a cupcake. She holds his hand just as tight as he holds hers and lets him lead her to the counter, to the drawings and the crumbs left behind on his plate.

Did they?” she asks with just as much enthusiasm. “Let me see them, baby bun, I bet they’re beautiful.”

Namjoon feels the arms wrap around his shoulders from behind before he sees them, leaning into the hug and halfheartedly swatting at Euna’s hand when she gently tugs his at his earlobe.

“Hey you,” she murmurs against his cheek before pressing a loud raspberry against it that has Namjoon feeling very much like a kid getting embarrassed by his mother in front of the Cool Kids.

It’s only then, judging by her sudden silence and the way Namjoon can see her cheeks rounding in a smile from the corner of his eye, that she seems to notice that they’re being watched from across the counter. She lets him go and stands up straight, introducing herself with a hand offered to whoever shakes it first.

It’s Jeongguk, with the same open-hearted smile he’d given Namjoon the first time he’d walked into the bakery. Yoongi follows suit, but there’s something behind his eyes that hadn’t been there minutes before. Not as warm as he’s been since he sat down nearly an hour ago and laughed at something stupid Namjoon said, not even when his eyes drift back over to Namjoon himself, then to Euna’s left hand curled around Soobin’s back.

And suddenly Namjoon knows exactly why Yoongi’s staring at them like that.

Euna whisks Soobin away to his kids’ volleyball practice after his chubby cheeks are showered in Namjoon’s kisses, leaving him spluttering and giggling, and after Jeongguk and Yoongi give him high fives and fist bumps on his way out the door, promising to make his cupcakes perfect for his birthday next month.

Namjoon barely has time to sweep Soobin’s crumbs into a small pile for the trashcan before Yoongi rounds on him. Jeongguk is helping a customer now, boxing up pastries for her with his back to both of them, unaware of the dark cloud that seems to have covered their side of the counter.

“So,” Yoongi starts, trying for nonchalance and missing the mark entirely, voice dripping with accusation. “Her ring is pretty.”

Suspicions confirmed.

Namjoon chuckles under his breath, scratches at the back of his head, ruffling the overgrown hair between his fingers. He doesn’t miss the way Yoongi’s eyes follow the movement, hidden behind a glare.

“It is,” Namjoon agrees, and then meets Yoongi’s stare. “Her wife has good taste.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says, and slowly, as realization starts to sink in more, the icy look on his face melts into something guilty, embarrassed. Pink creeps out from beneath his turtleneck and blooms up his cheeks. “Oh.”

“Yep.”

Namjoon smirks, tasting the last couple smears of cake and frosting his son left on the plate. It’s good cake—better than good, he’d had it once at a friend’s engagement party and texted her for the address the moment that he and Euna decided he’d be in charge of birthday cake this year—but it somehow tastes better like this.

Maybe it’s the company. Maybe it’s the sheepish way Yoongi trips over his words.

“I’m a dick,” he finally says, shaking his head, staring at his hands splayed on the counter. “Jesus, I’m sorry. I’m literally gay, you’d think I wouldn’t assume—”

“It’s a common mistake,” Namjoon assures him, because it is. He’s been working at the newspaper since Soobin was barely starting solid foods, and Sunwoo, who’s occupied the cubicle next to his for most of that time, still asks how “the wife” is on a regular basis, even though there is literally a photo of Euna and Minju on their wedding day pinned to Namjoon’s corkboard. He’s used to it by now.

“I was just worried—” And Yoongi cuts himself off this time to blink in Jeongguk’s direction. Jeongguk, who is seemingly oblivious as he rings up the customer’s box of pastries, all sweet words and Bambi eyes.

And oh, Namjoon thinks. Oh.

Yoongi thought he was flirting (which he’d been correct about), and that Namjoon was married (which he hadn’t), but more specifically, that he’d been flirting with Jeongguk.

Namjoon doesn’t know the relationship there, just what he’s glimpsed in the 45 minutes or so that he’s been in the bakery: that they work well together, and that Yoongi’s face flushes an even deeper pink when Jeongguk bids the customer goodbye and turns his bright, crooked smile on the two of them again. That they’re a pretty picture, Yoongi slight and fair and rosy, Jeongguk broader and taller and golden.

He almost feels like he’s intruding on something, but at the same time, he wants. In a strange way that he’s never paid too much thought to before, Namjoon watches Jeongguk drape an arm around Yoongi’s shoulders and finds himself wanting to feel the other arm find its way around his own, pull him in, let him breathe in rose gold warmth.

 


 

Tuesday is slow like Tuesdays usually are. The bakery doesn’t get as much foot traffic during the work week, mostly just phone calls and consultations and online orders to add to the calendar. Jeongguk is out on a delivery, and Jinsook doesn’t come in until the afternoon, so Yoongi is alone in the shop for now, alternating between checking the pâte à choux baking in the kitchen and sitting at the front counter, sketching cake designs while selectively eating the vegetables out of a takeout container of cold leftover noodles.

It’s a blustery enough day outside that Yoongi barely even stirs when the front door budges and the little sleigh bell that Jeongguk and Jinsook put up above it jingles quietly; the wind’s been rattling it since he got here at the crack of dawn this morning.

Only this time it’s not the wind, and it’s not until Yoongi hears steps—dress shoes, heavy footfall, probably tall, definitely uncertain—on the wooden floor that he looks up from his drawing to see all six-foot-something of Kim Namjoon dusting off his coat in front of the pastry case.

“Oh,” Yoongi says, because that’s apparently the only word his brain knows around Kim Namjoon. He clears his throat, rises to his feet. “Jeongguk’s on a delivery run, he’ll probably be back within the hour.”

“Oh,” Namjoon echoes, though he sounds more confused than anything, given the tone of his voice and the line that appears between his brows. “I wasn’t looking for—I mean, not that I wouldn’t be happy to see him too, but—” He pauses, barking a sheepish laugh. “I came for coffee, actually.”

“Really,” Yoongi says.

“Yes?” Namjoon tries, like that’s maybe not enough. “And a… blueberry scone?”

And again, Yoongi says, “oh,” because Namjoon is serious, and he tries for a casual chuckle that probably comes out stilted. “You had a hazelnut latte the other day, right?”

“Mocha, but yeah,” says Namjoon, and then, “I’m paying for it this time.”

It feels easy, somehow, to quip back, “I wasn’t gonna give it to you for free this time anyway,” and to smile at Namjoon when he mocks offense. He still tips more than his drink and scone are actually worth, and just when Yoongi thinks he’s about to leave, Namjoon leans his elbows on the counter, pops a stray blueberry in his mouth, and chases it with a sip of coffee.

Their positioning reminds Yoongi of Saturday, of how much of a gigantic, presumptive asshole he still feels like. From the moment Namjoon had shown up that day, he’d been looking for reasons to dislike him, any odd little habit that annoyed him, anything he’d said that was off in any way. Anything to prove to himself that Namjoon wasn’t good enough for Jeongguk.

Except he’d been a perfect gentleman to both of them, an affectionate father to his son, and the way he’d widen his eyes for half a second when he was particularly focused on what one of them was saying was endearing rather than annoying, and so he jumped when he saw Euna’s ring, a spiteful sort of a-ha moment that now just feels embarrassing and rude.

But now he gets it, really Gets It, why Jeongguk had stumbled into the kitchen a week ago, clutching his chest and waxing poetic about this colossal goof of a man who’s now leaning across the counter and cracking jokes like he and Yoongi have been friends for years.

“Shit,” Namjoon murmurs as he’s coming down from a bout of warm, sweet laughter at one of Yoongi’s millions of tales of shitty customers. “I have to be at work soon.”

Yoongi tries not to be disappointed. “Fuck work,” he throws out, though it’s insincere, coming from a man who’s built himself a job he that loves.

“Not when I’ve got a preschooler with sixteen thousand hobbies to fund, I can’t.” Namjoon gets a look on his face as he glances out the glass door, like he’s dreading going back out into the wind and sprinkling rain, but he fixes his coat and picks up his to-go cup anyway. “I’ll see you around?”

Yoongi nods, standing up straight. “I should be emailing you some design markups by the weekend. Jeongguk got your email, right?”

“Think so,” says Namjoon. “And even if he didn’t, it’s pretty easy to guess.”

“Kim-underscore-Namjoon at Naver?”

And Yoongi gets to witness Namjoon’s dimples in all their glory when he says, “Wow, hyung, you’re good.”

Yoongi chuckles. “They don’t call me Min Genius for nothing.”

“They call you Min Genius?”

A grin that Yoongi doesn’t even try to bite back. “Jeongguk does, sarcastically, when I pretend to threaten his job security.”

“Well, Min Genius, it was nice to see you,” teases Namjoon, backing up against the door, the sleigh bell jingling once again. He says, like he’s truly looking forward to it, “See you again soon, hyung.”

God. That shouldn’t make his chest feel as warm as it does.

 


 

Jeongguk does return within the hour, pulling the bakery van up to the curb in front of the entrance half an hour after Namjoon leaves and pushing through the door with cold-flushed cheeks and damp hair from the rain that’s been spitting on and off for the last couple of hours. Yoongi already has hot cinnamon tea ready for him on the counter, which he accepts gratefully, warming his hands on the mug.

“Best hyung,” he hums into the steam billowing out of the rim, and Yoongi’s glad that he’s crouched down restocking the display case with cookies when he says it, so Jeongguk doesn’t see the way it tugs his face into a goofy smile.

“Delivery went smoothly?” he tries to cover it up with.

“Really well! The new boxes held up to the rain way better than the old ones did. Not a wet muffin in sight. No innuendo intended,” Jeongguk shouts over his shoulder, shedding his parka and scarf on the way to the employee closet. “Solji-noona said she might have us cater all of their quarterly company meetings from now on, because people, quote, ‘actually shut up and listen when they’re eating your pastries.’”

“New company tagline,” Yoongi chuckles to himself, stacking cookie sheets on the counter as he empties each one.

“Thought you’d like that.” Jeongguk picks up the stack of trays, carting them to the sink to presoak. He shoves the sleeves of his sweater up to his elbows, but they still get damp and sudsy, and Yoongi mocks him when he complains, and Jeongguk flicks soapy water at him, and they’re both breathless from childish roughhousing and so, so close when Yoongi remembers.

“Namjoon came by while you were gone,” he says.

Jeongguk’s head tilts to the side, a sweet tic he’s had since Yoongi’s known him, like a puppy. “Did he?”

They’re still so close. Too close. Yoongi has to back away, lean against the counter to breathe without inhaling the cinnamon sweet of Jeongguk’s breath.

“Yeah. Ordered an hazelnut mocha, even though yours are better than mine, but—”

A smile, playful but hesitant. “They’re not, hyung.”

“Sure they are,” Yoongi counters. “Pretty soon, you’ll be a better baker than I am, too.”

Jeongguk whines cutely, scrunching his nose and batting weakly at Yoongi’s arm like it’ll help anything. Yoongi gives him a moment to whine, pretending to be less affected by the incessant “hyuuung, don’t oversell me, I’ll crack under pressure,” than he is.

He stops, after a moment, gives Yoongi a look so he knows he was kidding, then says, “What’d he come by for? Something wrong with the order?”

“No,” says Yoongi. “Just wanted coffee, but I’m pretty sure he was wanting to see you.”

Jeongguk goes quiet, in a way that Yoongi can’t quite place—whether it’s good or bad, contemplative or sorrowful. He’s still closer than is good for the thrum beneath Yoongi’s ribcage, eyes still wider and lips still pinker than he’s prepared to deal with from this proximity, frankly.

(Yoongi was 27 and recently out of a long-term relationship the first time he caught himself staring too long at the fullness of Jeongguk’s lower lip compared to the top, and the beauty mark beneath it, or the way his chest and arms had filled out in the three years since he’d started working at the bakery. He’d written it off then as residual loneliness pulling at the scabbed-over wound that was his breakup with Kihyun. It hadn’t been. Three years later, it still isn’t.)

But then a smile—and smile isn’t even the right word for it, it’s an outright beam—breaks through, and Jeongguk says, “I’m sure it was just you, hyung,” with this shy almost hopefulness to his voice that Yoongi wants to bottle and keep on a shelf for his bad days.

“He did the whole, ‘oh, I’m just here for coffee’ thing, but it’s not as if that would be the first time someone’s thrown that out when they realized you weren’t in the shop,” Yoongi chuckles, reveling in the sunlight of Jeongguk’s smile.

“Maybe you’re a cynic and he just really liked your cake.”

“Maybe you’re just being humble and can’t admit that Hot Dad probably thinks of you as Hot Baker.”

“Hyung.”

Jeongguk’s whine hits that sweet spot of irritating and cute that Yoongi has come to associate with Jeon Jeongguk. He doesn’t want to let himself think things he shouldn’t (he’s your friend, he’s your employee, he has—probably mutual—feelings for Namjoon, don’t be selfish), but then Jeongguk throws his arms around Yoongi from behind, and with it, throws out any self-chastising Yoongi may have been doing. He shouldn’t settle into the back hug, but Jeongguk is warm now that he’s shed his coat and let the heat inside melt away the cold, and it feels nice.

“I have things to do,” Yoongi protests weakly, but it does nothing when he’s laughing, flustered. The choux in the kitchen are probably cool enough to be filled now, and he needs to make sure they’ve got enough sourdough starter for the sizable order the café down the street put in this morning, but Jeongguk keeps his arms around him, laughing as well.

“Think of me as a backpack,” Jeongguk insists into his shoulder. “But bigger than you, and taller, and with two extra arms to help you.”

As if to demonstrate his usefulness, he picks his cup of tea up with his arms still threaded between Yoongi’s arms and waist. He can’t exactly reach his own lips to take a sip, not without spilling tea down Yoongi’s apron, so he just holds it, humming a ta-da! under his breath.

Cute, Yoongi wants to say, but instead he laughs and shrugs Jeongguk off, elbowing him lightly in the stomach, and says, “Nuisance,” on his way back to the kitchen.

He lingers in the doorway, though, under the guise of fixing the doorstop so it stays open in case of customers, until Jeongguk gets the hint and follows him in, filling the workspace with conversation and bright laughter.

 


 

Sometimes, Yoongi likes to joke that Jeongguk is the second owner of the bakery. He isn’t, not by any stretch of the imagination or the law—just the longest employee, the only one that’s been there from the start, long enough to know the ins and outs of the place, to have mostly perfected Yoongi’s recipes and gotten a handle on the daily operations.

Mostly, it just means that he’s the one person who Yoongi trusts to watch the place on the rare occasions he’s not able to make it in for whatever reason. Like today, when Jeongguk had woken up for his early shift to a text from Yoongi asking if he could hold down the fort for the morning while he took his dog to the vet—nothing too bad, but he’d slipped on some ice during his early morning walk and scraped his leg and probably needed a stitch or two and something for the pain.

Lucky for Jeongguk is the fact that it’s a weekday, and that he was somehow able to get Jinsook to come in to help on a weekday of her last semester of college. (“You’re not ditching class, are you?” he’d asked her, and he could hear the laughter on the other line as she called him a hypocrite for calling her out when his senioritis had been twice as bad when he was in her position.) That’s bought him time to deep clean the display case shelves one by one as he and Jinsook filled them, to field a few emails and inquiries so Yoongi won’t have to when he’s back tomorrow, to talk with and tease Hoseok when he stops by for coffee and companionship on his lunch break.

“I just don’t think lavender should have ever been allowed to be a flavor,” Hoseok says, licking smeared strawberry cream from his cream puff off the pad of his thumb. “Or rose. I don’t want to eat anything that’s primary function is being a lotion scent. Sage is toeing the line. Honeysuckle is another debate entirely.”

Jeongguk taps a few keys, and the register prints out Hoseok’s receipt as he ducks into the pastry case with a small box and a serving spatula. “I never said I disagreed with you, hyung,” he says from behind the glass. Frankly, his sensitive nose agrees, and that’s part of the reason Jinsook is in the kitchen today, because pistachio rose tarts were on Yoongi’s to-do list, and Jeongguk didn’t think it would be all that sanitary to spend half of his shift sneezing.

“It’s the debate that will end my marriage before it begins, Jeongguk-ah,” Hoseok sighs into his dirty chai. “Hyung wants a piece of lavender fig cake and I have to live with the fact that my own fiancé wants me to suffer for the entire time it takes bring it to him at work.”

“Jin-hyung works down the street, though? Like, a five minute walk in fresh air.”

Hoseok glares, though nothing about it is serious when he’s pouting like a child. “Whose side are you on here?”

“I am Switzerland,” Jeongguk says as he lays a sheet of wax paper in the box and scooping the thickest slice of cake with the most frosting on top of it. He folds the lid shut and slides the box across the counter so it comes to a stop right in front of Hoseok, who frowns at it, but doesn’t get to say whatever he was going to, because the bells above the door ring, and Jeongguk is already preparing his customer service voice, but even that falters, because—

“Welcome t—oh, Namjoon-hyung! Hi!”

He can see Hoseok mouth ‘Namjoon-hyung’ mockingly out of the corner of his eye, but chooses to ignore it.

Namjoon looks handsome in business casual, like he probably looks handsome in everything, with those legs and that face. He’s wearing glasses, too, and Jeongguk has to take a slight—if dramatic—breath in because apparently the attractive men in his life just want to test him and his private little Thing for glasses lately. Namjoon doesn’t catch it, but Hoseok does, and Jeongguk can only slap the box of cake closer to him threateningly. Being engaged to Seokjin is rubbing off on him.

“Hey, Jeongguk-ah,” Namjoon says, and Jeongguk is really trying not to read bashful into it, but his voice is soft and sweet and a little shy. Like maybe the ah is premature, even though they’d hit it off easily and Namjoon had insisted within a few minutes of the second meeting that he could call him hyung. He looks at Hoseok, like he’s wondering if he should maybe introduce himself, but Hoseok’s smug, knowing expression turns on him before he can speak first.

“I’m leaving,” he says, picking up his drink and Seokjin’s cake, then pauses. “Er, I’m Hoseok, but I’m leaving. He’s all yours, Namjoon-ssi.”

There’s an unsubtle wink tacked onto the end of the introduction. Jeongguk is glad Namjoon’s attention is diverted elsewhere so he doesn’t see the look of doom on his face that lets Hoseok know he will be kicking his ass at Mario Kart and-slash-or subjecting him to a horror game the next time they all hang out.

“Nice to meet you?” Namjoon throws out right before the door shuts behind him. He turns to Jeongguk, confusion across his face. “He seems… nice?”

“Hobi-hyung is just like that sometimes. His fiancé is a bad influence on him, he was never this bad before.” Jeongguk waves a hand dismissively. It smacks right against the corner of the display case because he’s a human disaster. He tries to play it off with a smile and a, “Hazelnut mocha?”

“Please,” Namjoon says with a breathy laugh. “And whatever pastry you recommend. It’s been a long day and I deserve sugar for lunch.”

Jeongguk hums, thinking. “Any allergies?”

“Me? Not that I’m aware of.”

There’s a tray of maple pecan cinnamon rolls that he’d brought out from the kitchen right when Hoseok arrived that should still be soft and warm. The biggest one gets scooped onto a plate while the espresso brews, and right as Jeongguk worries he’s maybe being a little presumptive with the plate and fork and ceramic mug instead of to-go options, Namjoon pulls out a stool and sits down, making himself comfortable as he sheds his scarf and overcoat, hanging them over the back of his seat. Jeongguk slides the cinnamon roll across the counter at him and starts on the drink.

“So, long day?” Jeongguk starts, a little loud over the steaming wand.

“Boring day, really,” Namjoon says around a bite of cinnamon roll. “I work at—wow, this is good. I work at the local newspaper? And sometimes the mundanity gets to you.”

“Ooh, fancy,” says Jeongguk. “What do you do there?”

Namjoon snorts. “I ghostwrite the advice column.”

“You mean Agony Ahjumma isn’t real?” Jeongguk chuckles in faux disbelief. He places the coffee next to Namjoon’s plate, and Namjoon gives him a grateful smile, wrapping his (big, pretty) hands around the mug.

“She was, at some point, but then she retired to Jeju with her husband and now I and a small team of ghostwriters have continued her legacy.”

“An honor, I’m sure.”

“Truly.” Namjoon’s voice drips with sarcasm, and he drowns his grimace in a pile of whipped cream that ends up stuck to his nose. Jeongguk wants to say something, but before he can get the second half of you’ve got something there out, before he can contemplate the implications of reaching out and brushing it off of the end of his cute, round nose himself, Namjoon notices and wipes it off with the pad of his own thumb, burying his face in his other hand, laughing. “Wow, I’m a mess.”

So am I, Jeongguk wants to say to the part of himself that’s still wondering what would have happened if he’d have brushed the whipped cream off instead. Out loud, he just says, “No Soobin today?” as he hands over a napkin.

Namjoon shakes his head. “Preschool ends in… five minutes ago, actually. Euna and Minju are taking him to the aquarium for getting a gold star in volleyball over the weekend, and I’m gonna take him to lunch and the bookstore tomorrow.”

“Smart kid,” Jeongguk says with a smile, thinking back to sweet little Soobin in the very seat Namjoon is in now, hugging his koala and shyly offering little pieces of conversation with big, questioning eyes.

Jeongguk’s always liked children. He’s the youngest in his family, so when his older cousins started having kids, he was always the designated Cool Uncle. It had been an adjustment, not being the baby anymore, but Jeongguk, as he says every time Yoongi and Seokjin and Hoseok and Jinsook lovingly tease him about falling in love with everyone he’s ever met, likes people. He likes seeing people happy, and, as he learned when his cousin Yeeun had her first baby and she’d immediately latched onto Jeongguk, barely fourteen at the time, that enjoyment doubles when it’s a kid who he’s made happy. Soobin, sweet and kind, with his father’s dimples and his mother’s smile, had been, and continues to be, no exception.

“He really is,” says Namjoon, with this smile that’s full of pride—and of course he is, that’s his kid, who he raised, of course he’d be proud. “I’m lucky. Euna and I, and Minju, we’re all lucky. God, he’s gonna be five.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, a little soft, a whole lot of reverent. He offers another napkin when Namjoon accidentally crushes his in a fist when he brings his hand up to rub at a temple. Namjoon accepts it with a grateful—if embarrassed—smile. The music in the shop plays gently in the background—Jinsook has control of the playlist today, something gentle and tinkling from one of the girl groups she’s into, oddly fitting for the moment.

“I don’t—” Jeongguk starts, at the same time as Namjoon says, “You—”

They both stop, flustered, giggling. Jinsook’s quiet singing along to the song in the background dies out as it comes to an end, something bouncy and fun taking its place.

“Go ahead, hyung,” says Jeongguk, with an encouraging wave of his hand.

“Oh, no, you go ahead! I was just going to say you made a good choice with this cinnamon roll,” Namjoon says. Somewhere in the back, Jinsook shouts, “you’re welcome!” as if the cinnamon rolls weren’t a team effort, her mixing up the filling and icing while Jeongguk kneaded the dough and candied the pecans. Still, Namjoon chirps back, “Thank you, disembodied voice!”

“Brat,” Jeongguk chuckles. “Don’t know if you’ve met Jinsook? She’s a part-timer, but Yoongi-hyung’s real upset she’s probably moving in the spring for grad school.”

“I think we’ve met briefly a couple of times,” says Namjoon. He hides a smile. “I… may have become something of a regular in the past couple of weeks.”

A sly look. “So I’ve noticed.”

It’s usually just for a brief few minutes, picking up a coffee before work or a pastry after. This is only the second lunch hour he’s dropped in for, but the first time Jeongguk has been free to actually have a conversation with him. He’d been planning on touching up the flowers he’d drawn on the chalkboard wall by the entrance earlier in the week at this hour, but that can easily be done later.

“What were you going to say?” Namjoon asks.

“Oh, I—” Jeongguk stops himself. It had just sort of started to come out, without him even thinking. Namjoon had mentioned Euna and Minju, and the curiosity had gotten to Jeongguk’s mouth before his brain could filter it out. “I was just… curious. You really don’t have to answer if you aren’t comfortable, but—Euna and Minju are married, yeah?”

Namjoon nods. He looks like he’d maybe been expecting this, but not necessarily in a bad way. His face is kind, like it always is. “For two years.”

“And it’s—”

“You can ask anything, Jeongguk-ah, I’m really not bothered by any of it.” Namjoon finishes his cinnamon roll, takes a sip of his drink, and hums softly before continuing. “Euna and I were never a couple, and it’s all very normal and civil and happy between the three of us, if that’s what you were asking. I got to walk her down the aisle, even.”

“Oh,” says Jeongguk. “That’s good, then. If you don’t mind me asking—”

“I really don’t, I promise.”

“If you were never a couple—I mean, not that non-couples don’t—you know. I’m not—I’m not saying that, but—you have a kid together.”

Namjoon laughs at that, a little like it’s surprised even him by coming out at that moment.

“I did a year abroad in college, in America,” he says. “Euna was the only RA in the international student apartments who spoke Korean, and being able to speak my native language with someone helped ease the homesickness a bit. We were pretty fast friends.”

Jeongguk nods, encouraging. Namjoon hasn’t stopped smiling, like the memory is a fond one. That, at least, makes Jeongguk feel a little better about asking.

“I think it’s part of why we’re good co-parents? We were best friends, never even thought to force a romantic relationship to ruin that, even after finding out we were having a kid.” He chuckles, embarrassed. “I’ll, uh, never tell Soobin it happened this way in his life, but there was a party off-campus, and Euna and I were high in someone’s bedroom and talking about life and sexuality and fluidity, and we ended up hooking up for fun and experimentation and whatever other reasons made sense to us at that point, and well—a few weeks later, there was a pregnancy test, and eight months after that, there was a tiny little Soobin.”

He’s pulled out his phone by now, and Jeongguk has never noticed that past his lock screen—a blurry selfie of himself with Soobin on his lap in his little volleyball uniform, that looks like it was probably taken by Soobin himself—is a home screen of a newborn Soobin in a Ryan onesie, with puffy cheeks and a toothless smile and the smallest tuft of fuzzy black hair.

“Oh my god, hyung,” Jeongguk coos at the phone, angling it closer so he gets a better look without the overhead lights glaring on the screen. “How do you have the cutest kid in the world? I shouldn’t be saying this—my brother has a kid now, I’m being a bad uncle—but that face.”

“Genetics?” Namjoon laughs, then sobers a bit. “I mean—Euna’s, really, he was her carbon copy until a couple years back, not—not mine.”

“Hush, hyung, you’re cute. He’s got your dimples, too,” Jeongguk says before he can fully process that it’s coming out of his mouth. “I mean—”

He doesn’t really get time to say what he means, though, because the door opens again, and he can’t even turn his customer service voice on again, because it’s Yoongi.

“Hyung,” he says instead, stern because it’s Yoongi, and Yoongi is supposed to be taking the day off to take care of himself and his dog. “Why are you here?”

Namjoon, of course, is a little more amiable. A lot more, really. “Good afternoon, hyung!”

“Hey, Namjoon-ah,” Yoongi says, then snorts. “It’s fine, Jeongguk, I’m not here to work. I got back from the vet with Holly a little while ago and I want coffee.”

“What’s the prognosis for my favorite boy?”

“I’m doing great,” Yoongi says, greasy as he can, then rolls his eyes at Jeongguk’s exaggerated, pouting glare. “Didn’t even need a stitch, just a bandage and some mild pain medicine. He’s sleeping now.”

To Namjoon’s quiet confusion and a teasing tongue poked out from Yoongi himself, Jeongguk stage-whispers, “Hyung is a very devoted dog dad.”

Namjoon nods. “A noble thing to be. I’d say I’m a dog dad, too, but Monie likes Soobinie more than he likes me, so I’m probably an estranged dog grandfather.”

“Monie? That’s such a cute name,” coos Jeongguk. Namjoon ducks his head in laughter.

“I told Soobin he could name him, and he wanted to name him Pokémon, so we… compromised.”

Jeongguk chuckles at that, then turns to Yoongi as he starts preparing his standard iced Americano. “Namjoon-hyung was showing me Soobin’s baby pictures. Hyung, show him!”

He does, and while Yoongi’s reaction isn’t quite as loud as Jeongguk’s had been, Jeongguk watches the quiet joy on his face from behind the counter, the smile hidden behind his hand, the way he and Namjoon lean into each other over the phone, a pretty picture together.

A few more swipes through his camera roll—a volleyball game, a trip to Tokyo Disney, a younger Soobin in nothing but a diaper hugging a fluffy white puppy that must be Monie—and Namjoon must notice the time then, because he lets out a small gasp and grasps for his coat.

“I have to be back at work in ten minutes, shit.”

Yoongi’s voice is light, teasing, when he says, “This seems to be a pattern with you, Namjoon-ah.”

“I—” Namjoon looks like he’s been caught. That, or his face is just red from being flustered about running late. “That could be.”

Jeongguk wordlessly pours the remainder of his drink in a to-go cup while Namjoon buttons his coat back up, squirting a little extra whipped cream on top for good measure. Namjoon accepts it with a sweet grin.

“I was really happy to see both of you,” he says. “Next time will probably be for the party, huh?”

“Delivery this Sunday, three o’clock sharp,” Jeongguk chirps happily. He salutes, and then cringes a little bit internally, but both Namjoon and Yoongi are snickering at him like it was charming rather than as stupid as it felt.

He leaves, a little rushed, but still lingers in the doorway for a moment to wave goodbye. When he’s gone, Jeongguk lets out a long breath, leaning his elbows on the counter in front of Yoongi.

“Hyung,” he groans.

“I know,” says Yoongi.

“He’s so—”

“I know,” says Yoongi, maybe a little more affected than intended, because he clears his throat, straightens his back. “Hey.”

Jeongguk looks up, head still hung a bit. “Mm?”

“That superhero movie you’ve been looking forward to is out this week, isn’t it?”

It’s a bit of a non-sequitur, a little suspicious, but Jeongguk nods. “Friday, but I’m working through the weekend, so I figured I’d see it at some point next week.”

Yoongi taps his fingers against his glass, purses his lips. “Next Friday?”

Now is when Jeongguk eyeballs him, more suspicion creeping in. “I mean, maybe?” He shrugs. “I’m off in the afternoon and I don’t work that Saturday, so—”

“We could go together,” Yoongi says. He sounds like he’s trying very hard for nonchalant. It’s only slightly working. He looks about as nervous as Jeongguk feels, and it’s—

It’s not a date, he’s sure, because Yoongi probably will always look at him like a surrogate little brother. Even if he’s avoiding eye contact and swirling the ice around his glass with jerky, stilted hand motions. But it feels like something more than their movie nights with Seokjin and Hoseok, their early mornings working elbow to elbow at the counter.

“Do you even like superhero movies?” Jeongguk tries, shrugging off the internal infighting he’s doing with himself with an awkward sort of chuckle. “I’ve never seen you watch one.”

“I like them sometimes,” Yoongi says. “I liked Black Panther.”

“Everybody likes Black Panther though. It’s a masterpiece.”

Yoongi furrows his eyebrows, not annoyed but maybe a little anxious. It makes Jeongguk anxious, wondering why Yoongi’s so anxious. “If you don’t want to, you just have to say so.”

“I do!” says Jeongguk, too abrupt. “Um, I do. You’re still off at close like usual?”

Yoongi nods. He sips at the dregs of his drink, even though it’s little more than melted ice by now. “We could do six? Get some dinner and then find a seven o’clock showing?”

“Sounds good,” Jeongguk says. Yoongi’s getting up now, shrugging back into his jacket and sliding his glass back across the counter. “You headed out?”

Another nod. “Gotta make sure Holly’s doing okay. Thanks, Jeongguk-ah, for watching the shop today.”

“It’s nothing, hyung. I get paid for it, you know.”

“I know, but still. Thank you. See you tomorrow?”

Jeongguk grins. “Bright and early.”

Yoongi doesn’t say goodbye in so many words, but he gives a little nod on his way out the door, his own form of goodbye, and he’s barely outside before Jeongguk’s back against the counter, slumping into his arms, wondering what the hell the universe is doing to him today.

 


 

The afternoon of Soobin’s birthday party is gusty and cold—not snowing, but there’s the threat of it, thick clouds in the sky suggesting rain but the temperature much too low for it to stay liquid. Yoongi, bundled up in a parka and scarf and gloves, only has to stand outside of the bakery door for a few seconds after arriving before Jinsook jogs up behind him and he can unlock it for both of them, and the warmth of inside envelopes him like a tight hug.

The shop is closed to the public on Sundays, only deliveries going out in the morning, unless there’s a special order for later on. That’s usually Jeongguk’s job, but Yoongi, despite Jeongguk’s repeated insistence that he didn’t mind it at all, still holds onto some shred of guilt for making him watch the shop the other day, so he scheduled Jinsook for the shift today.

“You look cute,” she teases as they shed their outer layers in the employee closet. Yoongi would tease her back, but he also did the exact same thing to her last year before she and her girlfriend, Dayoung, got together, so he probably deserves it.

Not that he expects he’s about to get together with anyone, or that he’s trying to look good for anyone, or anything like that.

Yoongi surveys his outfit in the mirror anyway, only a little rumpled from his coat. An oversized cream sweater hanging over a pair of jeans, some worn non-slip shoes that he’ll switch out for nicer, warmer boots before leaving for the party delivery because he knows where he works and how much assorted foodstuffs he gets on his shoes on the daily.

He doesn’t think he looks much different than usual, but maybe he had put a little more effort in, for whatever reason. Two reasons, maybe.

Yoongi doesn’t say anything to acknowledge her, but the way he’s surveying the mirror hanging over the back of the closet door probably says enough, because Jinsook teases him the entire time they put last minute touches on the morning deliveries and load them into the back of the delivery van.

Bundled up in her coat again, squinting very seriously at him over the thick scarf wrapped up to her chin, she says, “Oppa.”

Yoongi blinks warily at her. This is her I’m Very Serious Right Now, Thank You Very Much voice. She doesn’t pull it out very often. Last time she did, she’d saved an entire batch of muffins by telling him he’d just added salt instead of sugar. “Rookie mistake, Yoongi-oppa,” she’d said, and she looks like she’s ready to say it again.

“Jinsook-ah,” he says in the same tone of voice.

“You’re going to be hopeless when I leave for grad school, you know.” And Jinsook cracks a smile, but she’s still serious.

Yoongi frowns, half a glare. “I was perfectly fine before you worked here and I’ll—probably—manage without.”

Jinsook rolls her eyes. “Not what I meant, but I don’t believe that either. Don’t doubt yourself.”

“I don’t doubt myself. I am a perfectly acceptable human being.”

Another roll of the eyes. Again, Yoongi would say something, but he probably deserves the sass.

“And if anyone is making me doubt myself, it’s you with your insistence that we’ll fail without you, you know.”

Jinsook very emphatically shoves her beanie over his head, admires her handiwork with a petty little smile like Yoongi’s the prettiest pink beanie-clad flower. “I mean,” she says. “You have the cutest brat of a boy in the world who looks at you with the moon in his big Bambi eyes, and a Certified Hot Dad”—she really has to stop talking to Seokjin so much when he comes in—“who is the most obvious and mildly terrible flirt with the both of you. Own that shit, old man.”

“I’m not an old ma—”

“When I texted last week to swap shifts with Jeongguk-oppa after my study group got rescheduled, you said you were drinking wine and watching Descendants of the Sun with your dog. Again.”

Yoongi, through the pink knit hat still half-over his eyes, glares halfheartedly at her. She’s not wrong. He won’t admit it. “I asked Jeongguk to the movies the other day.”

Jinsook raises a brow. “Impressive, but did you specify that it was a date?”

“N—”

“You’re terrible,” she says conversationally. “And that doesn’t take into account Namjoon-ssi, either, so I’m not letting you off the hook.”

Yoongi frowns at her. “And what makes you an expert on this, huh?”

“You think when Hyunjung, Jiyeon, and Sojung unnies come in to visit me, the three of them are all just hanging out platonically all the time?” She pulls the hat from his head, effectively fucking up his hair, and tucks it over her own instead. “It’s the twenty-first century, Yoongi-oppa.”

“Fair point,” he says, and she exaggerates her preen under the halfhearted praise. “Hey, don’t you have some deliveries to make?”

“Boo,” Jinsook jeers, but she’s turning towards the delivery van anyway. “Party foul. Boring boss.”

“Hey,” Yoongi calls, and she glances back over her shoulder, half in the driver’s seat already. “Don’t use the fact that I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone against me.”

Jinsook winks. “I will absolutely use it against you if it makes you make your goddamn move on the two men head over heels for you.”

“Brat.”

“Love you.”

“Love you.”

 


 

They’re not open, but it doesn’t mean Yoongi doesn’t spend most of the morning through the early afternoon in the shop. He makes himself an espresso, taking his usual seat at the kitchen counter. He’s got his glasses on again instead of contacts, too tired this morning to really think himself through the process of putting them in, though he still has to squint through them as he flicks through the tablet he has balanced on an unopened can of condensed milk in front of him. Pouting his lips in thought, he scrolls his way through the company email, giving some updates, entering in orders and appointments, pointedly ignoring the memes Seokjin keeps spamming the bakery account with.

He barely notices the door unlocking, or the chime of the bell over top of it, until he hears a sweet, familiar voice call out, “Hyung?”

Jeongguk steps through the door to the kitchen, and he looks… Yoongi doesn’t want to think boyfriend, doesn’t want to delude himself with the notion, but he’s also familiar enough with the internet at large to know that this very look has been deemed the boyfriend look over and over again. Dark grey coat open over a yellow button-down, tucked into unseasonably ripped jeans, the Timberlands he’s claimed as his “party boots,” hair overgrown just a tad and hanging wavy in his eyes.

 “You’re early,” Yoongi says dumbly, colored with confusion and pleasant surprise as Jeongguk steps into the kitchen and pulls up the stool next to him.

“I figured it might be a little easier on you for the last decorations if you had another set of hands?” Jeongguk replies, a little uncertain. When Yoongi responds with a nod, he tacks on, “Also needed to make sure Jinsook wasn’t about to steal my job by doing better than me.”

Yoongi smirks. Oh, if only he knew the strife she attempted to put him through this morning. “She said bread ahjumma at the sandwich shop was disappointed you weren’t there to flirt with.”

“Ah, sweet, creepy bread ahjumma. Maybe it’s good I wasn’t on the clock.”

A snort, and Yoongi nudges the tablet closer to Jeongguk’s side of the table, open now to his last email from Hoseok. “Jin-hyung and Hoseokie and I finalized their cake design last night, wanna see?”

Jeongguk slides his stool over to get a good look. This close, Yoongi can smell something light, floral, like perfume, which is a welcome change from the sickly sugar scent that clings to the air always, but the underlying richness of cocoa and espresso. Like he’s worn the entire store as cologne. Like each ingredient has clung to his soft skin, kissed his body like—

Like something absurd and romantic that Yoongi won’t think of while hunched over the counter with Jeongguk’s elbow pressed against his, warm even through two layers of clothing.

Yoongi opens up the files, says the drawings are a little rough because he’s not as good with 2D art as he is with sculpting and molding. Says with a soft smile that he hopes comes off playful and not pushy that Jeongguk’s the one with the art degree, that he can tidy it up in the couple of months until they have to worry about actually baking and decorating if he wants. Jeongguk nudges him, tells him the drawing is perfectly fine (which it is, Yoongi guesses) even if it needs a little polishing (which it most certainly does).

The design is very much like Seokjin and Hoseok: a little chaotic, a little busy, but refined, nothing there that doesn’t make absolute sense. Yoongi shoves Jeongguk’s shoulder at the praise with the kind of smile he ducks his head to hide against his chest. Jeongguk elbows him until he lifts his face and grins like he can’t help but smile back, and Yoongi is all but helpless to the shy way he clamps his lower lip under his teeth.

And that’s how the afternoon goes, smiles and laughter shared across the counter. An hour before they’re set to leave for Namjoon’s, Yoongi starts the last minute details on the cupcakes, neatly placing cookies and chocolate pieces, packing them for the trip across the city so everything stays intact.

Jeongguk gets up to help, and Yoongi fixes him with a stern look.

“You really don’t need to,” he chuckles as he presses a shortbread cat ear into a swirl of buttercream.

Jeongguk stands up anyway. “Hyung, you know I’m physically incapable of just sitting here while someone else is working.”

“Fine. At least clock in and get paid for it then,” Yoongi says.

Jeongguk pouts cutely. Yoongi has to look away, just for a moment.

“Hyung.”

“Jeon Jeongguk, I am not accepting free labor. Clock in or I’ll clock you in myself.”

Jeongguk looks like he’s contemplating, like he’s weighing the pros and cons of ruffling Yoongi up, teasing a little more. And Yoongi, unsure if he’d be able to handle that right now, if he’d be able to keep the fondness off of his face at this beautiful, goofy mess of a boy he’s falling (fallen) for, brandishes a dish towel like a whip, a single eyebrow raised in challenge, and Jeongguk drops it, at least for now.

He clocks in, grabs and apron, cleans his hands, and steps up to the counter, but the glint left in his big, pretty eyes is unmistakable.

 


 

By the end of the hour, all the decorations are placed, the cupcakes packed in boxes, and the boxes fastened securely into the shelves in the back of the delivery van Jinsook had parked out back for them. Yoongi climbs into the driver’s side, and Jeongguk slides into the passenger seat, fiddling with the radio. Yoongi laughs under his breath when he realizes that Jeongguk has only turned Jinsook’s preferred idol pop up, rather than changing the station, but he still sings the neomuhae, neomuhae along to TT in a gravelly, half-sarcastic voice, just to make him smile.

There’s shopping traffic to fight, and Yoongi is cautious to not drive too quickly in bad weather when they’ve got boxes of cake in the back of the van, so he takes the streets slowly, but it’s comfortable between them, like it always is. Idle chatter and gentle teasing, Yoongi wondering if that’s flirting that Jeongguk is doing when his smile grows to show off his crooked teeth and his laugh spills out high and cute, or if it’s just wishful thinking on his part.

Not the traditional definition of comfortable, maybe, but Yoongi has had three years and some change for it to become his normal.

They arrive with a few minutes to spare before they’re expected, even driving slow. Namjoon’s apartment building is close enough to the Han, he’d said during one of his many bakery stops, that he and Soobin—and sometimes Euna and Minju, who live two floors up—will walk over to eat lunch and play in the park on the weekends. It’s a nice building, clean but not too sterile, even in the dull, grey heart of Seoul on a cloudy day. A few of the windows facing the street are decorated with fairy lights and decals and winter-hardy flowers in the window boxes. There’s a private parking lot, too, with an attendant that Namjoon let know in advance that they could use his reserved space for the delivery.

Yoongi parks, hesitating with his hand a few centimeters over the key in the ignition, the radio still playing softly. The van is charged with something that feels a little too big to fit inside it, a little too anxious and frenetic.

It’s one thing when it’s just the three of them in the shop. Namjoon has come by the bakery more than a few times over the few weeks since they first met, with the flimsy excuse that their frankly very basic coffee is good enough to walk five minutes off of his usual path to the subway station to buy it there instead of closer to his office, but mostly to lean over the counter during slow hours and talk to whoever’s around before he has to either leave for work, pick Soobin up from school, or head home to start dinner. To flirt, really—he’s about as subtle as a summer storm with it, but Yoongi doesn’t mind it.

Isn’t sure which of them he’s flirting with sometimes, or both, but likes it just the same.

But they’ve never hung out with anyone else, not counting Friday evening when Namjoon walked in with Soobin piggybacked, promising him hot cocoa and a slice of cake to celebrate the actual day of his birthday, or the brief moment Euna had come to pick Soobin up that first afternoon that the three of them had met.

It’s literally just a delivery, which is the stupid thing. It will be, at most, enough time to say hello, drop off the cupcakes, set them up, and then leave to take the van back to the shop. There’s not a single reason to be nervous, but there’s still the thought—that a child’s birthday party probably means family will be there, and friends, and probably the parents of Soobin’s friends, people who they’ve never met, and wow, Yoongi suddenly understands why Jeongguk had been as anxious as he’d been that first time Namjoon had come back to revisit the shop, over what amounts to just a few minutes of potential interaction.

Jeongguk’s mouth is set in an unreadable line that isn’t a smile but isn’t a frown, either. He looks just as uneasy as Yoongi feels.

“Please tell me I’m not the only one nervous for no goddamn reason,” Yoongi says, and Jeongguk splutters a laugh in response.

God, hyung, what did we get ourselves into over a hot guy?” Jeongguk snickers back. Yoongi looks at him sideways, silhouetted in the hazy light. He pulls the key from the ignition and the doors unlock, but neither of them moves.

Jeongguk would look good with Namjoon, Yoongi thinks. Both tall, both dimpled, even if Jeongguk’s are a little more hesitant to make an appearance than Namjoon’s. Jeongguk’s sharp jaw with Namjoon’s soft features, their big smiles, their goofy sides. They’d be pretty together.

Maybe, he hazards a risky thought, they’d all be pretty together.

“We have each other, though, right?” Jeongguk asks, and Yoongi tries not to let the nerves, the hopefulness paint themselves across his face.

Can’t tell if Jeongguk catches them or not by the slow smile that brightens his face, the soft bite of crooked teeth into his lower lip.

“’Course, Guk-ah,” he says, quiet and soft.

They’re still staring at each other over the console. Neither moves. Yoongi thinks maybe—maybe—Jeongguk chances a glance down at his lips. Maybe he shifts, leans forward a little. Maybe Yoongi does too.

In the grand scheme of things, their first kiss isn’t something out of a fairytale. There are no fireworks, no one releases any doves. Jeongguk is turned at an awkward angle in his seat, and Yoongi’s knee is shoved uncomfortably against the steering column, his glasses pushing into the bridge of his nose because he hadn’t thought to take them off in time. The whole thing smells like frosting and exhaust, and yet...

And yet.

The soft intake of breath when their lips touch that could have come from either of them, the butterfly-soft way Jeongguk’s eyes flutter closed, the hand that rests just so on Yoongi’s jawline, the thumb brushing the hollow of his cheek. The way he can tell that Jeongguk is smiling, just by the upturn of his soft lips against the corner of Yoongi’s mouth, the strawberry-sweet of the tinted lip balm that he always has on him. The soft “hyung” when they part, the peck against Yoongi’s bottom lip that punctuates it, and yet...

And yet there’s a party waiting for their delivery, a birthday boy waiting for his cupcakes. There’s Namjoon, and a whole other layer to this that Yoongi hadn’t considered when faced with the sweet, sweet taste of Jeon Jeongguk’s lips. Namjoon, who he’d probably let kiss him, if he asked. Namjoon, who he thinks Jeongguk would let kiss him, too.

They both seem to remember at the same time. Jeongguk glances up at the building, then at Yoongi again. At his lips that probably have pink lip balm smeared on them now, too.

They’ll talk about it, he thinks. They’ll run in, drop the cake off, say their hellos to Namjoon, and then they’ll talk about it.

 


 

When the doorbell buzzes for the second time in the last ten minutes, Namjoon’s hands are already occupied with a pot of boiling water. He looks distressedly around the kitchen and hopes his face conveys someone please answer that so I don’t melt all of our legs off on the day of my only child’s birthday party.

It must, because Minju is descending the step ladder she’s been standing on to pin streamers to the walls around the dining table before he even makes it to the colander in the sink, breezing over to the entryway. He can hear the click of the opening door, Monie yipping quietly at the intrusion, then Minju’s high, kind voice and another, deeper one.

Namjoon quickly takes attendance in his head. Minju and Euna, here since this morning to help set up. His mother by his side leading the cooking brigade. Jimin and Taehyung showed up early so their youngest could get a nap in before the festivities started. Haseul—sans her girlfriend, Kahei, stuck working on a Saturday—arrived just a few minutes ago with her girls. A couple kids from the preschool and their parents, who Namjoon doesn’t know as well as the others but Soobin had insisted on inviting. His aunt will be a little late, has a doctor’s appointment she couldn’t reschedule, but ensured his mother with a wink that was audible in her voice even over the phone that she’d be there, “in time for Soobinie to see his real favorite grandmother at dinnertime.”

They’d decided on a small party, nothing too overwhelming for Soobin or too crowded for the apartment, and Namjoon can’t think of anyone else he’s expecting to show up, except—

“Cupcakes are here!”

The knowing look on Minju’s face, striding back into the kitchen with streamers draped over her shoulders still, the single raised eyebrow of someone Namjoon hasn’t personally spoken to about how he racks up extra pedometer steps most days to visit two handsome men who work in a bakery off of his usual path, but who has certainly been told incriminating things by her very sweet, very intrusive wife. He knows them well.

He sticks his tongue out at her. Minju sticks hers out right back, but she shifts easily into a kind smile as she waves Jeongguk and Yoongi into the kitchen, brighter when Euna pops her head out of the living room to say hello and earns a hair ruffle from her wife.

“I hear you’ve met Euna and Soobin already, and I’m sure I don’t have to introduce you to Namjoonie,” she says in her most sugary, teasing voice, making direct eye contact with Namjoon because she’s a nuisance. “I haven’t gotten to meet the infamous Bakery Boys yet, Joon-ah.”

Behind her, carefully making their way into the kitchen, are two people whose faces are mostly obscured by big, white boxes—boxes Namjoon knows maybe a little too well at this point. What he can make out of Jeongguk’s face behind his is a little pink, a lot sheepish. Minju tends to have that effect on people who don’t know better yet that she is exactly as marshmallow sweet on the inside as she looks on the outside.

Before Namjoon can say something pithy back, though, his mother turns around with the same teasing look on her face, the same lilt to her voice. “Bakery boys?” she says, as if the moment couldn’t get any more awkward than it already is. “I know nothing of any bakery boys.”

When he puts his boxes down on the empty stretch of counter Minju shows him to, Yoongi’s face is pink, too. Bright pink cheeks, lips bitten red and pretty and kissable. Not a thought Namjoon should be having in front of his mother and his son’s stepmother.

He clears his throat emphatically, making sure first that the hot, emptied pot is well out of arm’s reach when he waves them between Yoongi, Jeongguk, Minju, and his mother.

“Eomma, Minju, these are Yoongi-hyung and Jeongguk, they worked very hard on Soobinie’s cupcakes,” he says. “Yoongi-hyung, Jeongguk-ah, my mom, and Euna’s wife, Minju. Please pay no mind to them being obnoxious.”

“I am not obnoxious,” says Namjoon’s mother, obnoxiously. She looks at them appraisingly, Yoongi in particular, who looks a bit taken aback by the scrutiny. “I hear you own this bakery, yes?”

So much for not knowing anything about them, Namjoon thinks. Of course she does, because Namjoon is exceedingly unsubtle about his crush, and Soobin loves to tell anyone who will hear about his cool cupcakes and the hyungs that are making them for him.

“I do,” Yoongi says, and he’s immediately lost to Namjoon’s mother, who—to her credit—starts gabbing about the hospitality industry and not about her son’s crush on him. She owned a small but popular restaurant in Ilsan for most of his childhood and only sold it after Soobin was born and Namjoon and Euna moved to Seoul, so she could be in the city with them when they needed her, so she at least knows what she’s talking about.

Her sudden claiming of Yoongi leaves Jeongguk alone, though, Minju having been distracted by the spitfire that is Haseul’s eldest daughter, Jiwoo, barreling into her legs and asking if she can watch her finish hanging the streamers. Namjoon gladly abandons the noodles in the colander to step over, and Jeongguk grins a little shakily at him.

“Hey, hyung,” he says, a little more shy than he usually would. Namjoon gets it—small of a party as it is, it’s still probably a lot for someone who knows a grand total of two and a half people inside, Yoongi not included.

“Hey,” Namjoon says clumsily. Jeongguk’s lips are a pretty, rosy pink, like he’d put on tinted lip balm but smudged it at some point after the fact so it lingers just below, smeared onto his skin in a way that makes the more impulsive parts of Namjoon’s brain want to wipe it off with the pad of his thumb. He doesn’t, though, just manages to stumble over his words and ask, “Did—I, uh, I hope the delivery went smooth?”

Jeongguk taps the stack of boxes on the counter. “Everything went, uh, well,” he says. “Do you want us to put them on the cupcake stand, or—”

“I’m sure my mom will bite the hand of anyone who tries to mess up her counter arrangements, honestly, you don’t have to worry about it,” Namjoon chuckles. That, at least, makes Jeongguk’s tensed shoulders lower, just a bit. They both glance over at his mother and Yoongi, now deep into conversation about early hours and fair wages, Yoongi seemingly having thrown away any hesitance he’d had when she’d first pulled him over because he is very emphatic with his hand gestures. “You’re welcome to stay, if you’d like. I’m sure Eomma’s going to talk his ear off for a long time, and it’s not like we have any shortage of food.”

He gestures at the counters, filled end to end with different dishes that are only growing in number, and Jeongguk blinks between him, Minju, Yoongi, Namjoon’s mother, and the wall separating them from the living room that Euna and the kids and other parents are in. When his eyes sweep back, Namjoon finds the bucket of stray party hats and animal ears that Soobin insisted he wanted everyone to wear—Namjoon’s got on tufty grey koala ears, Euna and Minju in Mickey and Minnie, respectively, and his mother with a giraffe headband. He finds a pair of long, pink bunny ears and holds them out as an offering.

“If—if that’s okay with you?” Jeongguk asks, hesitantly taking the headband and passing it between fidgeting hands. “I don’t have a gift.”

“I wouldn’t have offered if it wasn’t,” Namjoon says, not unkindly, lets the smile encapsulate his whole face to mask the sudden fear that he’s overstepped, that Jeongguk doesn’t want to stay, even though he looks like he’s slowly coming around to the idea. “I’m sure cake and company will be gift enough for Binnie. He won’t stop talking about how he wants to put pink in his hair, too, ‘just like Jeongguk-hyung.’”

Jeongguk brushes the fading rosy blonde of his bangs out of his eyes as he slides the headband on. Across the room, Minju coos at him like he’s a kid himself, then nods towards the edge of the kitchen, past the wall separating them from the living room.

“Go ahead and get cozy. I promise our friends don’t bite—Soobin’s, maybe, but not ours,” she chuckles. “And tell my sweet, darling wife to stop shirking decorating duties and get her cute butt back in here.”

“I’ll get her if she doesn’t come,” Namjoon insists, rolling his eyes at her. He turns back to Jeongguk, hopes his smile is reassuring. “Don’t worry about it, Jeongguk-ah.”

Jeongguk looks bashfully thankful. His smile is so, so pretty. “Mind if I use the bathroom before I head out there?”

Namjoon knows the look of someone who needs to brace themselves when he sees one. He nods toward the short hallway. “First door on the left.”

“Thanks, hyung,” says Jeongguk, and Namjoon tells himself in vain that he won’t be thinking of the soft, tentative way Jeongguk’s hand lingers on his elbow on his way out of the kitchen the rest of the night.

 


 

“Get yourself together,” Jeongguk hisses at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, trying to keep quiet both to avoid anyone important hearing, and because of the handsome stranger who’d gently told him in the hallway that there was a napping toddler in the bedroom that he was trying not to wake just yet.

Jeongguk’s reflection stares back at him with an incriminating pink lip balm smear halfway down his chin, trailing down from bitten lips.

Kiss-bitten lips, comes the traitorous voice in the back of his mind.

He rubs the smear off with a damp tissue, splashes some sink water in his face to calm the warmth that still clings to his cheeks, even though the kiss was probably half an hour ago by now.

He still can’t quite wrap his mind around it yet. The kiss. Four years of crushing on Yoongi and he’d just assumed that they’d never kiss, much less in the delivery van, outside of the apartment building of a man neither of them have exactly denied being attracted to. That he’d never know Yoongi’s kisses taste like mocha and feel like the slow building warmth of taking that first sip of hot cinnamon tea after coming inside from the biting cold.

And then there had been Namjoon in the kitchen, looking like the very concept of home in his koala ears and a soft flannel shirt and what he could only describe as Dad Jeans, with orange sauce dripped on his chin and oven mitts slung over his shoulder. How he’d so kindly and easily invited them to stay without a hitch, like he’d been expecting to ask them the whole time. How Jeongguk wonders if his kisses taste like mocha and blueberries, and—

He splashes more water on his face. There are certain things he can’t let himself dwell on if he’s about to go join the party for the evening, something he should probably go ahead and do since he’s been in the bathroom for what is probably a suspicious amount of time by now.

He goes unnoticed at first, slinking quietly back through the hallway and hovering on the outer edges of the living room. There are a few children milling about, most of whom Jeongguk has never seen, except for Soobin, wearing both a party hat and a pair of floppy white rabbit ears with a pink nose and whiskers painted on his face so he looks a bit like a rabbit had a baby with a unicorn. There are some others—a boy in a fox headband, one girl with a frog, and the girl with yellow feathers sticking out of the bow holding her ponytail together, who’d been in the kitchen watching Minju when he left for the bathroom. A few adults are scattered on the couches and chairs, talking with each other while watching the kids play with careful, amused eyes, and the white dog from the pictures in Namjoon’s phone is sleeping quietly at their feet.

In the middle of it all—and Jeongguk can’t help but smile at the sight—is Euna, pinned to the living room floor, with Soobin sitting on her stomach and the boy with the fox ears trying in vain to drag her across the floor by her feet like a person-shaped sled. Euna is pretending, very unconvincingly, to be asleep, while the girl with the feathers sits next to her head, one finger against her lips and making very intense eye contact with fox boy. When she catches Jeongguk watching them, she looks at him, too, and preemptively hisses a loud, “Shhh.” Jeongguk winks and mimes locking his lips, but all is for naught when Soobin realizes where his friend has been looking.

“Jeongguk-hyung!” he cries, leaping to his feet so quickly that Euna wheezes at the sudden rush of air back into her lungs. Soobin doesn’t pay mind to it, just rushes to Jeongguk’s side with a big grin. “Appa didn’t say you were coming!”

Jeongguk kneels down to Soobin’s height and scrunches his nose at him. It’s hard to focus on how mixed up he’s feeling on the inside with as sweet of a face as his in front of him. “Well, how else were your cupcakes going to get here, huh? Happy birthday, Soobin-ah.”

Soobin looks like he’s just been told he’s won the lottery. “They’re here?”

Jeongguk winks. “In the kitchen, with Yoongi-hyung.”

“Yoongi-hyung is here too?” Soobin turns to Euna, who’s still sprawled on the floor, now with her mouth open and tongue lolling out while Fox Boy and Feather Girl pretend to shoot at her with finger guns. “Mommy, can I go see the cupcakes?”

“Shh,” says Fox Boy, poking Euna’s leg with a socked foot. “We tamed the beast, Soobinie. You’re safe now.”

Soobin heaves a dramatic sigh of relief, grinning so big his missing tooth is on full display. Fox Boy tackles him in a hug while Euna slowly makes her way up behind them, pretending to be shot by Feather Girl’s finger bullets every few steps. “You and Jiwoo-noona saved my life, hyu—”

He’s scooped up into Euna’s arms before he can finish the thought. She roars like a particularly harmless dinosaur and kisses each of Soobin’s cheeks twice while he squirms with laughter.

“You can see your cupcakes on one condition, brave rabbit warrior,” Euna says solemnly, a stark contrast to the giggling child in her arms, and flicks one of Soobin’s floppy headband ears.

“Anything, anything!”

Euna grins at Jeongguk then, soft but teasing, playful. “Say thank you to your Jeonggukie-hyung for bringing them all the way over for you.”

Soobin scrambles upright in his mother’s arms, reaching a hand out for a high-five that Jeongguk easily returns. “Thank you, hyung!”

“Anytime, birthday boy,” says Jeongguk, winking again. “Go see your cake and deliver your mom to your, uh.”

He pauses, doesn’t exactly know what to call Minju, but Euna shrugs it off easily.

“Eomma,” she supplies, “Mommy and Eomma,” and then she smiles, sheepish. “They figured out my plan to watch the kids instead of cook, huh.”

“Saw right through it,” Jeongguk chuckles. “Enjoy yourself, Euna-ssi.”

“Noona,” she corrects him, turning towards the kitchen with a grin. “Make yourself comfortable, Jeongguk. There’s plenty of couch space, if you don’t mind your ankles occasionally being bitten by a bunch of small children.”

Jeongguk sits on his own for a little while, on the end of an unoccupied couch, watching the kids play. He learns that Fox Boy is Yeonjun and Feather Girl is Jiwoo, and the smallest of the kids, in the frog headband, is Jiwoo’s younger sister, Yeojin.

Jiwoo and Yeojin’s mother is sitting on the overstuffed chair adjacent, phone in her hand alternating between taking videos of her girls and sending them off the someone. She introduces herself as Haseul, a coworker of Minju’s at a hair salon in the area, and the person on the other end of the text message as Kahei, her girlfriend. They talk for a bit, pleasant, lighthearted conversation, until Yeojin trips on the edge of the area rug and scrapes her knee on the wood floor, and Haseul is off her feet and scooping her daughter up before her lower lip can even start wobbling.

She carries Yeojin to the bathroom to clean and bandage her skinned knee—Jiwoo on her heels with big, sad eyes, asking if her sister is okay—and leaving Jeongguk on his own again, so he examines the room.

It’s a nice apartment, cozy and warm and decorated in woods and earth tones. There’s a small Christmas tree on an end table near the window, covered mostly in homemade ornaments cut out of egg cartons and painted in glitter glue, like it’s been set up specifically to showcase Soobin’s preschool crafts. The couches are plush and soft, and each has a blanket draped across the back in a different shade of green—Jeongguk’s a deep forest, the chair Haseul just vacated a muted sage, olive on the loveseat across the rug, where Yeonjun has planted himself on the lap a man with inky black hair and smiling eyes, who Jeongguk assumes must be his father. Most notable, though, are the pictures everywhere: frames on the walls, on every available flat surface, an album open on the coffee table like someone had been looking through it. Pictures of Soobin at various ages, of Namjoon and his mother, of Euna and Minju at their wedding, one on the cork board leading into the hallway of a younger, scrawnier Namjoon carrying—or at least trying to carry—a cackling and very pregnant Euna bridal style.

It’s a very Namjoon space, in the way that Jeongguk’s small, sparsely-decorated but clean and cozy apartment is a very Jeongguk space, in the way that the ever-changing chalkboard walls and the flower pots on every table make the bakery a very Yoongi space.

Jeongguk finds himself leafing absentmindedly through the photo album in front of him when he feels a dip in the empty couch cushion to his side. He glances up, expecting maybe Euna, or Yoongi, or one of the kids, maybe, but he can still hear Euna and Minju laughing as they hang streamers, and the low timbre of Yoongi’s conversation with Namjoon’s mother, and the occasional call of a question from Namjoon to his mom about the food they’re cooking. Instead, he looks right into the face of Yeonjun’s father.

“Hi,” he says, and his voice is sweet, a little gravelly and a little high-pitched. “We haven’t met before, have we? My name is Park Jimin.”

Idly, Jeongguk thinks that if his mind weren’t currently occupied with thoughts of Namjoon in his flannel and Yoongi with his coffee-flavored kisses, Jimin is the kind of person he’d develop a frivolous, one-day crush on if he wandered into the bakery. A sharp jawline with soft cheeks that only look rosier in comparison to his jet black hair, an sweater over snug jeans that accentuate nicely-shaped thighs, and—probably most appropriate of all, with Jeongguk’s luck in the past—a ring on his left hand. Yeonjun has vacated his lap in favor of tossing a stuffed ball to Monie, whose wagging tail nearly upends Yeojin’s sippy cup onto the rug before Jimin—barely—stops it with a foot.

“Jeon Jeongguk,” he introduces himself, quiet. A little impressed with the reflexes it takes to catch a sippy cup falling from a low coffee table, a lot confused as to why he’s crossed the room to sit with him.

Jimin looks at him like he’s sizing him up—he’s a lot more intimidating up close than he had been from across the room, hugging his kid. “I haven’t seen you around school events either,” he says. “Are you—”

“Oh, I’m just—” Jeongguk pauses, evaluates the plastered smile over Jimin’s obvious suspicion. “A friend. Of Namjoon-hyung’s.”

“A friend,” says Jimin, and Jeongguk, for a moment, has the overwhelmingly embarrassing thought that oh holy shit, what if Jimin is someone to Namjoon.

“I brought the cupcakes? We”—he gestures towards the kitchen, a little dumbly considering it’s not visible from their angle—“uh, Yoongi-hyung and I work at the bakery?”

Jimin’s expression shifts, but—at least seemingly—in a good way. The suspicion drops, the smile looks a little less fake, reaches his eyes again. He says something that almost sounds like should’ve known, but Jeongguk doesn’t quite catch it.

And so they talk, a bit. Behind the suspicious façade is a genuinely kind person, a doting father who ruffles Yeonjun’s hair whenever he’s within arm’s reach, helps him poke the straw into his banana milk when Soobin bounds out of the kitchen with two cartons of it. Jeongguk wonders about the ring on his finger, still—at least until there are footsteps in the hallway and the handsome stranger who’d warned him about the napping toddler sits on Jimin’s other side, said toddler now awake in his arms, head rested lightly against his shoulder.

“Not his longest nap,” says Handsome Stranger, balancing the kid on his lap, helping him slip a tiger ear headband over fluffy hair, “but someone’s a little excited, so I’ll give him a pass.” His eyes, big and bright behind gold-rimmed glasses, focus on Jeongguk. “Oh. Hi! I’m Taehyung!”

They go through the same introductions, only this time Jimin looks at Taehyung meaningfully when Jeongguk says he’s from the bakery, and Taehyung gives him a mirrored look of amusement in response that makes Jeongguk furrow his eyebrows.

Whatever it means, the little boy in his lap doesn’t pay any mind. He lifts his head from Taehyung’s shoulder and says in a small voice, “It’s Soobinie-hyung’s birthday, Appa. I can’t sleep.”

Taehyung brushes the boy’s hair out of his eyes, kisses his forehead. “It’s okay, Beom. You’ll sleep well tonight, though, yes?”

The boy nods eagerly. He tilts his head at Jimin, then Taehyung. “Can I go play?”

“Go ahead,” says Jimin, helping the boy off of Taehyung’s lap, giving him a pat on the shoulder and a kiss on the crown of his little head. “I bet if you ask your Uncle Namjoon or Aunt Euna really nicely and make sure you say please and thank you, they’ll give you some banana milk, too.”

Another nod, another kiss on the head, this time from Taehyung, and the little boy toddles over to his brother and Soobin, clinging to either of their arms and dragging them both bodily to the kitchen.

“Little monster,” Jimin says, no lack of affection in his voice, or in his eyes, as he watches the boys go.

“He tried, at least,” Taehyung says. Jimin cups his cheek with a sympathetic little pout, looks like he’s probably contemplating kissing him, were they not in mixed company. Jeongguk wonders if he should turn away, pretend he’s got an important text or something, to give them privacy, but then Taehyung turns the full force of his smile on him, welcoming and a little goofy. “We’re trying to wean Beomgyu off of naps,” he adds, like he’s trying to clue Jeongguk in.

Jimin nods along with him. “He’ll be four in March, Junie was mostly off of necessary naptime by then, but.” He shrugs. “They’re different kids. Beom was younger when we adopted him, too.”

“We maybe coddled him a bit,” Taehyung concedes.

Jeongguk nods. He still doesn’t know if he’s necessarily meant to be a part of this conversation, but it’s fine. His mind is still reeling, anyway.

Jimin, though, turns toward him, that same sparkling but intimidating look on his face that he’d had when he first sat down.

“So,” he says. “You’re Bakery Jeongguk.”

“Uh,” Jeongguk starts. “Jeon. Jeon Jeongguk.”

“You told me that already.” A grin, crooked front teeth, and Jimin leans a cheek in his hand. “I just meant wow, bakery Jeongguk in the flesh. Namjoon-hyung says nice things about you.”

“He’s nice,” Jeongguk says, hoping it’s enough to get the shit-eating grin off of Jimin’s face. It isn’t, so Jeongguk tries to change the subject, shift the focus away from himself instead. “How do you know hyung?”

Jimin and Taehyung exchange a look, Taehyung seeming like he’s trying his absolute hardest not to burst into raucous laughter, and Jimin says, “Joon-hyung tried to hit on me at parent-teacher night.”

To his credit, Taehyung muffles his laughter into a throw pillow and hides most of the sound, but there’s still an affronted call from the other side of the wall, Namjoon sounding like he’s said this a million times, “I wasn’t hitting on you!”

He appears next to the couch, sauce wiped off of his chin now but a bowl of sad-looking whipped cream that’s been over-whipped to hell and back held against his chest. The boys—now with Jiwoo and a couple of the other kids in tow—have all followed him out of the kitchen like a flock of banana milk-sipping ducklings.

“I wasn’t hitting on him,” Namjoon says matter-of-factly, looking at Jeongguk and resolutely ignoring Jimin’s knowing grin and Taehyung’s unbidden laughter. “I just asked his name, and—”

“You had The Look,” protests Jimin. “The one that says you come here often? even if your mouth doesn’t. I do come there often, hyung, because my son goes to school there.”

Namjoon looks at Jeongguk with pleading eyes. I don’t have The Look, do I? his face asks, but Jeongguk—well, he’s seen the look. Namjoon aims The Look at Yoongi all the time. Maybe at himself, if he’s going to let himself think about that.

After all, crazier things have happened. Today. In a car. With Min Yoongi.

“You do have a Look, hyung,” Jeongguk says, apology in his voice.

Namjoon whines, sounding not unlike the various preschool and kindergarten-aged children scattered around the room. “And anyway, I stopped whatever Look I allegedly had when I realized he was married, so—”

“Oh, that’s the best part, Jeongguk,” Taehyung cackles, leaning forward to tap Jeongguk on the arm. “The fear on hyung’s face when I came back from the bathroom and he realized he’d been flirting with a married man while his husband changed their toddler’s diaper.”

“His hands were in his pockets! I didn’t see a ring! He had a pride flag sticker on his phone case! It was an act of single, non-straight dad solidarity!”

The petulance is probably more than a little put-upon, but Jeongguk can see the red, embarrassed flush crawling fast up the sides of Namjoon’s neck, and the kids are starting to stare and giggle at them, so he does what he’s been good at today and changes the subject again.

“Hey, hyung,” he says, gesturing at the bowl in Namjoon’s arms. “You need help with that?”

Namjoon looks at the sad, grainy excuse for whipped cream in the plastic bowl in his hands. “Oh,” he starts. “Maybe? I don’t know what I did wrong.”

Jeongguk stands, grateful for an out from Jimin’s discerning gaze and for an excuse to talk to Namjoon again. To go back to the kitchen to be near Yoongi again, too. He ushers Namjoon back through the entryway to the kitchen with a hand hovering barely, just barely over his back.

“Well, first of all, you’re supposed to be using a cold, metal bowl, not a plastic popcorn bowl—”

 


 

The thing about having kissed Jeon Jeongguk, is that the world remains the same. It doesn’t tilt any differently, and his vision doesn’t turn rosy pink, and Min Yoongi is still Min Yoongi.

He’s just a Min Yoongi who knows that the unevenness of Jeon Jeongguk’s breath between soft, slow kisses is one of the prettiest sounds he’s ever heard.

He’s also a Min Yoongi who has spent a not-insignificant time in the afterglow of the kiss in a small kitchen with back-to-back with Kim Namjoon and still thinks he’d like to kiss him, too.

So when Namjoon comes back to the kitchen after leaving with a huff of “hold on, let me tell my friends off for a second,” and returns with Jeongguk at his side, telling him exactly how wrong his entire whipped cream-making process was, it is, understandably, a whole lot for Yoongi to take in.

“Hyung,” says Jeongguk, very sternly. He’s either wiped or bitten the rest of his lip balm off, but his lips still look awfully kissable. Yoongi wonders, vaguely, if there’s any left on his own lips. “Please look at this sad, sad whipped cream that happened under your watch.”

Yoongi turns away from the strawberries he’s been shaping into roses after Namjoon’s mother discovered the skill and put him to work after Yoongi insisted on helping while she finished dinner. He sets the knife down on the counter, careful to keep it away from the edge in case one of the kids comes back into the kitchen again.

“I’m not his keeper,” he insists, and then, upon seeing the curdled mess in the bowl, “Oh, wow. Oh, Joon-ah. That’s so bad.”

“My shame knows no bounds, hyung,” Namjoon says with a long sigh. “I really have learned how to cook, I swear, it’s just—”

“Whipped cream is fickle,” Jeongguk assures him. “One second it’s fine, next it’s… this.”

“Shh,” says Namjoon, hugging the bowl and covering the sides like it’s his child who he’s trying to shield from nasty words. “She can hear you.”

It’s cute. The laugh Jeongguk splutters, grabbing Namjoon’s elbow to stabilize himself, is cute, too.

“I don’t think I have enough whipping cream to start over,” Namjoon sighs. “I could run to the corner store real quick?”

Jeongguk hums, soft. “How much do you have?”

Namjoon shakes the carton. It’s plenty.

“What about a hand mixer?”

“There’s one in the cupboard right in front of your legs.”

“Then you don’t have to start over, this is fixable,” says Yoongi, clearing a space in the counter. He takes the bowl from Namjoon, placing it on the counter. It’s not metal, and it’s not exactly an ideal temperature after being held so close to Namjoon’s chest, but Yoongi’s worked with worse before, back when the bakery was new and he underestimated the amount of supplies he’d needed for both a bakery and coffee bar. He doesn’t even have to ask for Jeongguk to pass the rest of the cream over, and he’s glad—at the very least—that it doesn’t seem to be weird between them. He smiles at Jeongguk, and Jeongguk smiles a goofy, helpless grin back. “We’re just being mean to you, Joon-ah.”

Namjoon’s dimples sink deep with his grin, and Yoongi catches Jeongguk staring at him, too. He wonders if he’s thinking the same thing that he is, that they’re perfectly placed for a kiss on either cheek.

“I’m ready to be taught, seonsaengnim,” Namjoon says solemnly, betraying the wide smile. He leans close, Jeongguk flanking Yoongi’s other side to watch,

He notices that Euna and Minju and Joonhee, Namjoon’s mother, have gone suspiciously silent, though he can see Euna looking at them out of the corner of his eye, and she gives a thumbs up when she notices him staring.

“Okay,” says Yoongi, turning his head to look at Namjoon, then Jeongguk, both so close to him, and then back to the bowl of broken whipped cream. “You just have to add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, and it should slowly come together.”

He likes those words, sandwiched between the two of them, Jeongguk’s sweet floral scent to his left, Namjoon’s rich, sweetness to his right: slowly come together.

 


 

The party goes well. There are no casualties, save for Yeojin’s skinned knee that was fixed with a bandage and a solid fifteen minutes of sniffling in her mother’s lap, and the rose-shaped strawberries that Yoongi spent so long on and the kids annihilated within minutes of them being set down on the table with the fixed whipped cream. Namjoon had tried to apologize, sorry that his work was eaten by a bunch of ravenous children, and Yoongi had pinched his arm, said that’s what I did it for, Joon-ah, with the gentlest smile on his face.

The last parents leave at eight o’clock, Jimin and Taehyung each carrying one of their boys, Beomgyu nodding off on Jimin’s shoulder and Yeonjun piggybacked and clinging to Taehyung’s shoulders with all of his sleepy six-year-old strength. Namjoon would wake Soobin to say goodbye to his friends, but he, too, is knocked out on the couch, curled around Koya and wrapped in a throw blanket that will probably have to have the frosting washed off of it when he goes to bed.

“Hey,” Jimin says in a whisper, snagging the end of Namjoon’s sleeve on his way out the door and doing his best not to jostle his son from his sleepy daze. “Here’s your Best Friend Seal of Approval.”

Namjoon tilts his head. Jimin scoffs at him.

“Bakery boys,” Jimin adds, as if it wasn’t obvious. “Jeongguk survived my attempts at intimidating him, and I didn’t get to talk much with Yoongi-ssi, but anyone who lets Minju-noona babble on about how he should let her bleach his hair because he’d look good platinum probably has enough patience for you, hyung.”

“You did that once,” Namjoon chuckles, noting Jimin’s hair that’s only recently back to black after letting Minju experiment with blonde, red, pink, and blue in the span of the last few months. “So did Taehyung, for that matter.”

“Hence why I think it’s a good trait.” Jimin winks. “Goodnight, hyung.”

“Night, Jimin,” Namjoon says. “You guys, too, Beom, Junie, Tae.”

They leave after hugs, kisses planted on each of the boys’ foreheads as they sleepily mumble “night, Uncle Joon,” and then it’s just Namjoon, Euna, and Minju, who offers to carry the birthday boy to bed. Namjoon and Euna each manage to kiss his forehead and whisper their happy birthdays and sweet dreams without waking him, and Minju tiptoes quietly down the hallway to deposit him in bed.

And then it’s just the two of them: Namjoon sweeping up crumbs and confetti and discarded candy wrappers, Euna walking the floor with a trash bag, picking up anything that’s too big for him to sweep, and staring at Namjoon with something behind her eyes that he’s sure she’ll explain sooner or later.

 “So,” Euna says. Sooner it is.

“So,” Namjoon echoes.

“I spent the first half of the party wondering which one of them it was,” she starts, scooping a folding table’s worth of cupcake wrappers into the trash bag. They’d been a big hit, naturally—Soobin had insisted on saving half of his special personalized one in the fridge to eat tomorrow after school, even—“only to realize it’s both of them, isn’t it?”

Passing the broom from hand to hand in time to the beat of the song playing through the TV speakers—thankfully not Shark Family anymore—Namjoon barks a quiet laugh. “Am I not obvious enough?”

Euna snorts. “Oh, you’re very obvious. Just the last time you mentioned thinking that you could maybe be polyamorous, we got crossfaded and I got pregnant, so I wasn’t sure if that was still an option for you.”

A shrug. “It’s never been a viable option before. I’ve never found two people I had feelings for at the same time.”

“Do you think it’s an option now?”

“I—” Namjoon pauses, thinking. “I’ve only known them for a month or so, but.”

“But.”

“I like them,” he admits, the first time he’s said it quite so directly without beating around the bush or hoping his sidelong glances and lingering stares are proof enough. “As much as one can start to like two virtual strangers in the span of a month. And I think they might like me?”

“I think they more than might like you,” Euna chuckles, breathy.

Namjoon abandons any pretenses that he was actually paying any attention to sweeping anymore. He leans his weight against the broom, tilting his head against the handle. “Do you really?”

“I think that what you didn’t see tonight was that every time you turned your back to them, the two of them looked at you and then each other like they were about to explode.”

“That sure is some wording there.”

“It’s accurate wording. You didn’t see their faces, Joon-ah,” Euna insists. She drops her bag of trash on the floor, perching on the arm of the couch. She’s got the Serious Face on, the one she gets when Soobin doesn’t want to go to bed even though he’s got preschool in the morning, or when he pretends to eat his vegetables but is secretly hiding them underneath his napkin. “Joon, when was the last time you went on a date?”

Namjoon narrows his eyes at her, figuring out her M.O. here. He dates, occasionally, but the thing is that the dating pool for a bisexual single parent is incredibly small. Generally, the people who don’t mind that he has a kid do mind that he’s bi, and the people who don’t mind that he’s bi aren’t too keen on him being a father.

“I went on a date in September,” Namjoon says, matter-of-fact. It wasn’t a very good date—she’d gotten standoffish when he mentioned having a son, even though when they’d first met at the grocery store, Soobin was sitting in Namjoon’s cart, proudly reading the names of fruits and vegetables off of the signs as they passed them in the produce section—but a date nonetheless.

“Namjoon,” Euna sighs. She makes grabby hands, waving him over so she can squeeze his fingers in her hands. “We’ve both given up a lot to have the stability we have now.”

He groans, quiet, under his breath. It’s a subject they’ve gone over and over ad nauseam—he gave up on grad school, she moved across the world because she was the one with dual citizenship and he only had a student visa tying him to America. He’s past the point of guilt, Euna’s made sure of that, but he still doesn’t like to talk about it, too much. Those sacrifices gave them a happy, smart, and kind son, a stable—if nontraditional—family life.

Euna squeezes his fingers. “You deserve this, Joon. You’re the best person I know.”

A sarcastic stage whisper of a shout down the hallway, Minju’s voice ringing out, “Hey!” to which Euna giggles, “I love you the most, sweet, sweet eavesdropping wife.”

“You know, I hate when you’re right,” Namjoon says, cracking a grin.

“I don’t!” Euna laughs. “When did they leave?”

“Uh,” says Namjoon. Yoongi mentioned having supplies to load back into the van before the three of them had all awkwardly stood in the doorway, wondering if they should hug goodbye before Jeongguk, with a cutely exasperated sigh, pulled them both in for a group hug. “Right before Jimin and Taehyung did. Why?”

Euna flashes the time on her screen at him. “Think they’re still down there?”

“I—” It’s been five, maybe ten minutes. “Possibly?”

“Namjoon,” says Euna. “Minju and I will take the full burden of the cleaning job if you get your ass downstairs and ask them out.”

Namjoon looks in the general direction of the window. He breathes in a deep sigh.

He’s out of the apartment door before he can even think about grabbing a jacket.

 


 

There isn’t a plan. Elevator ride considered, it takes roughly a minute and a half to reach the outside. Namjoon is in house slippers and koala ears. He looks as messy as he feels.

None of that really matters to him when he sees Yoongi standing on the pavement beneath an awning in the parking lot, coat and scarf pulled up over his chin, guiding the big white van that’s usually parked on the curb in front of the bakery to back up with gloved hands, and Jeongguk leaning his head out of the driver’s side window to see him, messy waves falling in his eyes from beneath a beanie.

It’s Jeongguk who spots him first.

“Hyung!” he calls, and Yoongi tilts his head, confused, even more when he seems to notice that it’s not him that Jeongguk is looking at, but rather behind him.

Yoongi turns, and the smile that creeps onto his face looks like the stars slowly peeking through the night sky.

“Joon-ah,” he says, somewhere between awed and mystified. He clears his throat. “Did we leave something?”

“No!” says Namjoon, and then he thinks about it. His heart, maybe, but that’s a little corny to say out loud. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” Jeongguk has turned the van off, is now descending from the front seat, closing the door behind him. The look on his face is imploring, a little impish.

“I didn’t get to thank you both,” Namjoon tries, stepping forward. The wind is ice against his exposed forearms, but he powers on. “For everything.”

Yoongi raises a brow. “You thanked us a lot tonight, Joon-ah.”

“For everything,” adds Jeongguk with a nod. “Even things we didn’t do, as much as I’d have liked to take the glory for your mom’s japchae.”

“Not just—this.” Namjoon gestures at the building, the van, the two of them, himself. His hands are shaking and his brain is moving mile-a-minute, unsure how he’s even going to go about this. “For being kind, for hanging around the bakery counter to talk to me even when I’m sure you have more important things to do when I’m there.”

“You’re our—our friend,” Jeongguk says. Namjoon tries his best not to read into the stutter, he really does.

Yoongi blinks slowly once, twice. He cracks the softest, quietest smile. “Why does this sound like we’re being broken up with?”

“I wouldn’t do that—I mean. This isn’t—” Namjoon balls his fists, takes another deep breath. Nothing to it but to do it, he thinks. “What are you doing Friday night?”

Yoongi’s face falls, just a touch. Jeongguk looks sidelong at him, worrying at his lower lip.

Namjoon’s never been rejected by two people at once before. If nothing else, it will be a new experience.

“Hyung and I were going to go to the movies,” Jeongguk says slowly. He spares a glance at Yoongi, who’s looking at him like he’s trying to communicate something without words.

Namjoon never really considered the fact that maybe the two of them were starting something that he hadn’t realized—and of course he wouldn’t realize, it wasn’t his business if they were falling for each other without him. They had years of working friendship, Namjoon had a month of flirting across the counter and hoping one of them would realize he was flirting without him having to say it outright.

“O-oh, that’s fine, never mind,” Namjoon says. He’s getting cold, anyway, he should probably head back up. He’s about to say as much, but he notices both Yoongi and Jeongguk staring between each other and him. There’s a silent conversation happening that Namjoon isn’t quite in tune to. They’re probably figuring out how to let him down gently. It’s fine, he’ll just go—

“You’re welcome to join us, Joon-ah.” It’s Yoongi who breaks the quiet. “I don’t know how into superheroes you are, but Jeongguk could probably recount the entire MCU in the time it takes to buy popcorn and sodas, if you need catching up.”

“I’ve seen a few of them, I like—” Namjoon stops before he lets himself hope. He shouldn’t. It’s their date, not his. “No, I couldn’t intrude on you guys like that.”

Jeongguk tilts his head, smiling the sweet, amused crooked smile that drew Namjoon to him in the first place. It aches somewhere deep in the pit of his stomach. It would probably hurt less to go back upstairs and let Monie trample all over him trying to eat the scraps of dinner left over.

“You wouldn’t be intruding, hyung,” he says, so sweet. He and Yoongi exchange another silent glance, looking at Namjoon like he’s an open book and they’re avid readers. “If anything, it would be better if you were there.”

“Are you s—”

“Go on a date with us, Namjoon,” Yoongi says.

Namjoon’s heart jumps right back out of the pit of his stomach and lodges itself somewhere in his throat.

“Oh,” he says, because it’s the only thing he can manage. He should say something. He came down here to ask them on a date and now he can’t speak. “I like Captain America.”

He’s pretty sure they’re going to rescind the offer on idiotic response alone. It’s fine. The two of them are going to be a cute couple either way.

But Jeongguk giggles and says, “I really, really like Iron Man,” and Yoongi, rolling his eyes with a grin, says, “Black Panther was good.”

“Oh,” Namjoon says again, only this time it breaks his face into a smile. “Cool. Cool. Uh, text me the time then?”

There’s another look exchanged between Yoongi and Jeongguk, and Namjoon wonders if he’ll get the chance to get on their level of weird, telepathic communication. Jeongguk raises his eyebrows, Yoongi looks nonplussed. Jeongguk very emphatically looks at Namjoon and then back to Yoongi, and Yoongi shrugs, smiling at his feet.

Jeongguk turns his full attention to Namjoon. “Hyung and I kissed this afternoon,” he says, very seriously. Namjoon isn’t sure how to respond to that, but it doesn’t matter, because Jeongguk keeps going. “We didn’t get time to talk about what it meant.”

Yoongi looks sheepish, a little anxious. The smile at his feet turns to a mild cringe.

“Okay,” says Namjoon. “Um.”

“If this is a date,” Jeongguk continues, “then we should all be on the same page.”

Namjoon and Yoongi both nod. Jeongguk does, too, before barreling on.

“I like you,” he says to Namjoon, and then to Yoongi, “I like you, and I have for years.”

“Um,” says Yoongi, looking both dumbfounded and pleased. His hand brushes Jeongguk’s, and Jeongguk threads their fingers together with glee. His other hand edges closer to Namjoon, and there’s eye contact for a moment—a silent should I take it, a silent yes, you should—before Namjoon grabs on, too. “I like you both.”

The heart residing in Namjoon’s throat tries to break out, doesn’t make it but lets a quiet, involuntary squeak pass through.

He has to be serious, though.

“I have a kid,” he says. “I—I like you both, too, but I just need to make it clear. Soobin is five, he gets attached to people. I don’t want—I don’t want that to happen, only for something to go sour.”

“Okay,” Yoongi agrees, and Namjoon can hear the meaning behind it. That this is new, it’s tentative, none of them know how it will go. That it’s just a date now, but it could be—they want it to be more. “We can go slow, Joon-ah, if you want this.”

Namjoon closes his eyes. Jeongguk takes his open hand.

“I want this,” he says.

Jeongguk makes a quiet, thrilled noise, squeezing Namjoon’s hand tight in his. His big eyes sweep the little circle they’ve made on the pavement.

“We’re missing one point,” he says. Yoongi and Namjoon send him twin looks of question. He harrumphs. “Yoongi-hyung and I kissed, Namjoon-hyung.”

“I mean,” Namjoon crinkles a brow. “You’re allowed to do that. If we’re—if we’re seeing each other now. You’re allowed to kiss without me.”

“Oh, I know,” says Jeongguk. “But we kissed, and now we’re seeing each other, but you’re the only one of us unkissed.”

The wind blows, icy through the buttons of Namjoon’s shirt. Goosebumps bloom on his bare forearms, travelling up to his spine. His face feels half-frozen.

Namjoon hums, sweeping his eyes from Jeongguk’s wide, questioning eyes to Yoongi’s quiet, puckish smile.

“You know,” he says, “my cheeks are feeling a little cold.”

He doesn’t have to say anything else before a kiss is pressed to each of his dimples.

 


 

Seokjin’s grandparents’ summer cottage is lavish, two stories of stone walls and birch flooring off the coast of Jeju, close enough that you can see the water from the second story windows, but far enough that the sea spray doesn’t make everything sticky with salt. Perfect for a wedding, Hoseok had said in the planning stages, walking the stone path down the middle of the intimate backyard in measured steps, like he would on their wedding day. Did you know my grandfather killed for money in his twenties and that’s why they can afford this, Seokjin still tries to convince everyone who comments on it.

Yoongi doesn’t pay as much mind to it as some. Mostly because he’s scrambling around the kitchen, making sure the caterers are handling the cake with care while simultaneously searching desperately in every nook and cranny for the cuff link Seokjin says he thinks he dropped somewhere while greeting guests.

“If these damn cufflinks ended up in the cake somehow, Kim Seokjin, I will personally end you mys—”

Hands on his shoulders and a sweet, floral scent wafting from behind him ground him in the moment. Thumbs press right into the knot at the top of his spine and Yoongi feels himself deflate almost instantly.

“Hey,” Jeongguk murmurs in his ear. “Everything’s fine, hyung.”

“Not quite,” Yoongi sighs, leaning into the touch of skilled fingers against his back. “A certain groom has lost his cufflinks and the ceremony starts in an hour.”

Jeongguk hums. “He didn’t.”

“What do you mean he d—”

“I texted him telling him to find an excuse to let me see you,” Jeongguk laughs against his temple. “I missed your face.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says. He turns his head, just to see Jeongguk, and gets a kiss on the apple of his cheek in response that makes him scrunch his eyes shut, laughing. “How’s Hoseokie?”

“Hoseok-hyung is Hoseok-hyung,” Jeongguk chuckles. “He’s cried three times in the last hour. His sister had to put some eye makeup in her purse to touch him up on to go.”

Yoongi snorts. “So this is you giving yourself a break?”

A shrug, one that Yoongi feels more than sees with how close Jeongguk is behind him. “Nah, he’s just a romantic. It’s cute. I actually came over because I saw N—”

“Hyungs!”

From the open back door, a flash of dark brown and baby blue bolts inside, immediately clinging to one each of Yoongi and Jeongguk’s legs.

“Soobinie!” Jeongguk cries back, with just as much fervor, leaning to brush his fingers through the boy’s neatly combed hair. “How’s my favorite boy?”

“I’m doing well,” says a deeper voice from behind him, and in walks Kim Namjoon, handsome as ever in a soft blue shirt and white dress pants to match his son’s. Yoongi can only think of a similar conversation a few months ago, only the favorite boy in question had been Holly.

How things change, he thinks, as he bends down to get the full force of Soobin’s hug and watch as Namjoon and Jeongguk share a quick kiss.

A few months ago, if you’d have told Yoongi that this would be his life, he wouldn’t believe you, but damn it would he daydream about it for a long time coming.

Namjoon helps him up and kisses him, too, as Jeongguk scoops Soobin up to rest him on his hip. He’s getting tall, not unlike his father, but Jeongguk still loves to indulge him by scooping him up whenever he sees him.

“No Koya today?” Jeongguk asks with a pouted lip, squeezing one of Soobin’s empty hands.

Soobin puts a finger over his lips. “Mommy and Eomma have him, he’s saving my seat so I can sit next to Yeonjun-hyung and Beomgyu.”

(It was funny, really, how quickly Namjoon’s friends befriended Yoongi and Jeongguk’s, how easily their lives entwined.)

“The noblest bear,” says Yoongi, and Soobin nods, even though he doesn’t exactly know what noble means.

“Appa wanted to see you,” Soobin whispers conspiratorially. “Eomma says you and Jeongguk-hyung make him mushy.”

Namjoon, for his part, looks embarrassed. “Not her best choice of words.”

“Good words,” Jeongguk counters. He whispers back, forehead tipped to Soobin’s temple like it’s a secret, even though Yoongi and Namjoon are in clear earshot, “Your Appa and Yoongi-hyung make me mushy. You know why?”

Soobin shakes his head.

“‘Cause I love them.”

Yoongi chokes on air. Namjoon stands frozen in place. Jeongguk doesn’t seem to realize what he’s said until he catches their reactions.

“Oh, wow,” he says to Soobin’s general direction, sheepish. “Did you know I hadn’t said that to either of them yet, too?”

Soobin puts a little hand on each of his own cheeks in pure, five-year-old shock. “I tell Appa I love him every day, though.”

“As you should,” says Jeongguk. He turns so he can make eye contact with Yoongi and Namjoon both. Yoongi gets the distinct sense that this is more for them than it is for Soobin, and he sends Jeongguk what he hopes is a winning smile. “But sometimes, when people are dating, it takes them a while to say it. Even if you’ve felt it for a while.”

Soobin frowns. “Why?”

“You know, I don’t really know. Maybe sometimes you want to find the right moment,” Jeongguk explains. “Can I put you down for a little, Binnie?”

A nod. Jeongguk places Soobin back on his feet, and Yoongi doesn’t have to say anything to know that he wants each of their hands.

“Hey,” he says, conversationally as possible, “I love you both.”

Music is starting to swell outside as the ceremony time draws closer. Yoongi should probably get back to Seokjin so he can berate him for a bit for faking that he lost his cufflinks before everything starts. Jeongguk should probably go comfort Hoseok if he’s crying again. Namjoon should probably go let his son play with his friends and get some energy out so they can sit still through the ceremony.

The only things in the world to Yoongi right now, though, are the two smiling faces holding his hands, though. The world can wait, for just another moment.

“I love you,” says Namjoon, kissing Jeongguk’s temple. “I love you,” he says again, lips to the top of Yoongi’s cheek.

They were going to take it slow, and, to their defense, it’s been four and a half months. Yoongi and Kihyun said I love you after two, but still. Even though he’d been in love then, it hadn’t felt quite like this. Like the slow building of an orchestra, like the sun peeking out from behind a cloud to warm your skin, like spending hours perfecting a recipe and watching as it rises to perfection in the oven.

“You’re both ridiculous,” Yoongi murmurs, hugging them close. “I love you so much.”

He feels a tug at his pant leg, a hesitant tap at his waist. On the outskirts of the hug, Soobin is pouting a lip. “Can I hug, too, if I say I love you?”

Without question, Namjoon scoops him up and lets him get a little arm around Jeongguk and Yoongi’s necks.

“I love you, hyungs,” he murmurs. Yoongi thinks maybe, just maybe, he’s going to end up crying before the ceremony even starts, too, but then Soobin ends the thought with, “Appa says there’s going to be cake,” and he laughs instead, burying his face in the boy’s shoulder and soaking in the sheer happiness of the moment.

Eventually, Namjoon has to leave the hug to bring Soobin back outside to his moms and his friends, and Jeongguk gets a text from Hoseok’s sister that she needs him for pictures, and Yoongi is left, just for a minute, to watch the crowd of people outside, ready to celebrate a day of love, feeling so, so full of love himself.