Jungkook didn’t even notice Jimin was gone at first.
They had done that job in Hunan, stealing a Qi Baishi worth millions out from under the nose of an eccentric gaming mogul, and had tacked on a week in Hong Kong on the way out. They’d parted ways after that, which wasn’t out of the ordinary – Jimin to swindle some rich dude on a boat in the Greek Islands, Jungkook to break into a seaside villa in the Philippines. Their specialities are very different, so Jungkook really only ran into Jimin when Namjoon pulled a team together.
Or when Jungkook “coincidentally” ran into him after a job.
So the main thing is – it’s a few months after the Qi job, and Jungkook begins to notice something’s wrong. It’s a feeling in his gut, a wrongness, but he can’t put his finger on it. It takes days and he’s freezing his ass off in some basement in Helsinki, Namjoon lecturing them with a whiteboard and everything, when it hits him.
Namjoon cuts off what he’d been saying and stares at him. Yoongi groans and sinks deeper into the oversized jacket he’s wearing. It looks like a duvet. An ugly as hell one, at that. Jungkook would rather freeze – and is, actually, freezing, but at least his denim jacket looks sick.
Everyone else turns and stares at him, too. Hyejin sighs, loud and dramatic.
“Are you even listening to the plan, Jungkook?” Namjoon says, putting his hands on his hips. He’s the picture of every cranky teacher Jungkook had had in school. “This is important. You agreed to actually listen this time. Remember what happened with the Morocco job?”
Jungkook leans forward, boots thumping off the table and onto the ground.
Both of Namjoon’s hands fly up into the air. “Did you hear anything I just said?”
“I did. I just don’t care.”
“The Morocco job, Jungkook!”
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “I don’t know why you keep going on about that. It wasn’t that bad.”
“Ooh, this’ll be good,” Taehyung says, wiggling forward in his chair and resting his elbows on his knees.
“Wasn’t that bad?” Namjoon repeats. Jungkook blinks – he doesn’t often see Namjoon this angry. He’s probably the most level-headed guy he works with. “You blew up the mark’s house! The army was called in! You stole a tank!”
Taehyung is going around the room now, collecting money from the other team members with a smug smile on his face. Jungkook frowns when he sees Hyejin, scowling, holding up at least a hundred euros. Taehyung snatches it up.
“It wasn’t even a real tank,” Jungkook mutters, turning back to Namjon. He crosses his arms and slumps down. “And you know I’ve wanted to drive a tank since I was little.”
“You were only meant to scout the perimeter!”
“I don’t remember you saying that.”
“I definitely said that! In the planning meeting that you were meant to be listening to. Just like the one we’re in right now.”
“He definitely said that,” Hyejin echoes, not look up from her phone. Her fake nails clack against the screen.
“He did,” Yoongi mumbles, sinking even deeper into his duvet jacket. The only thing Jungkook can see of him are his beady eyes, squinting at him from between his beanie and collar.
“Seconded!” Taehyung chirps.
Jungkook grabs the closest thing to him – leftover fast food containers – and chucks it at Taehyung. Taehyung ducks, yelping.
“Jungkook!” Namjoon says, stabbing his finger at him. “You also agreed to stop throwing shit!”
“He wasn’t even there,” Jungkook says petulantly, returning to his crossed arms, slumped state. “And it wasn’t anything sharp this time, so I don’t know why you’re complaining.”
Namjoon tilts his head back, pinching the bridge of his nose and sighing loudly. Jungkook thinks it’s a little bit dramatic, but whatever.
“Jungkook. Can you please listen to the plan? The Stanton’s are dangerous and have a hell of a lot more firepower than Amirah Zaki.”
Jungkook sits up, brightening. “Do you think they have a tank?”
Taehyung’s laugh bursts out, bright and loud. Hyejin doesn’t even look up from her phone.
“Jesus,” Namjoon says. “Yes, they probably do have a tank, but it’d be in whatever third world country they’re trying to destabilise and not Finland. This is why the Stanton’s,” he taps his pen against a blown-up photo of a white couple, both shading their eyes, “bad. Us,” he gestures at everyone in the room, “good. Okay? Will you listen to the plan now?”
Blergh, Jungkook hates when Namjoon gets all obsessed with his morals and ethics and philosophies. Which, speaking of…
“No. Where’s Jimin?”
“Hiding behind the whiteboard,” Yoongi mumbles from within his duvet jacket.
“What?” Jungkook says, craning his head around. The whiteboard is on two legs and he can’t see anyone there, but Jimin is tricky.
Yoongi laughs his wheezy little gremlin laugh and his eyes – the only visible part of his body – crease. When Taehyung starts snickering too, Jungkook realises he’s being fucked with.
He snarls, “I’m gonna—”
“Jungkook, put the knife down right now!”
“He started it,” Jungkook mumbles, angrily slipping the knife back into its wrist sheath.
“Yoongi, try not to be a dick.”
“Sorry for wanting to know the plan.”
“Suck up!” Taehyung sing-songs.
“I’m hungry,” Hyejin cuts in. “Can we order something else?”
“Everyone, please shut the fuck up,” Namjoon says. “Just give me ten minutes and we’ll be done. Okay? Jungkook?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I don’t know where Jimin is, okay? He’s not on this job. He could be anywhere. I wish he was here because he’s the only one that can get you to focus on anything. And shouldn’t you know anyway?”
Jungkook goes silent. Namjoon waits a moment then continues his lecturing, but it doesn’t really matter because Jungkook isn’t listening. He should know? What does that even mean? Sure, they sleep together at every opportunity possible. And Jungkook would live in Jimin’s very small, very proportionate pocket if he could. But why would that mean he knows where Jimin is?
This is when Jungkook knows for sure something isn’t right.
Afterwards – after the “plan” and after Namjoon had tried to make him repeat it back and failed – he slides in next to Taehyung as the man wanders down the street.
Taehyung side-eyes him, hums, but doesn’t say anything. He goes back to counting the money in his hands. It’s a mix of euros, dollars, won, and even some pounds.
“What was the bet this time? How long until Yoongi turned into a blanket person? How long it took Namjoon to do that ‘praying to god but I’m an atheist so it’s purely for aesthetics’ look? Oh! The time it took for me to throw something? Nice.”
“None of the above,” Taehyung says. He smiles peacefully to himself and tucks the cash away. “Thank you, by the way. Now I have enough for the expensive cut of beef!”
“So the bet was about me.” Jungkook’s a little sad to be left out, but it makes sense.
“Are you after a free meal? Because I didn’t make that much money.” Which is a blatant lie, because Jungkook caught a glimpse of at least three hundred dollars. “And Yoongi only put this weird USB thing into the pot?” Taehyung gets it out and peers at it. “Said it was some kind of coin? He’s such an idiot sometimes; all those screens messed up his brain.” Taehyung chucks the USB over his shoulder. Jungkook glances at it, abandoned in the middle of the path, but keeps walking.
“Yes, that was it! How’d you guess?” Taehyung turns to him in surprise, finger-combing his hair back into place.
“Oh,” Taehyung says, drawing the sound out. “We were talking about different things, weren’t we?”
He doesn’t like talking to Taehyung this reason exactly – it makes his head want to explode.
“Did you bet on how long it’d take me to ask ‘where’s Jimin’?” Jungkook’s brows pull lower and he feels himself getting pissed. Taehyung does a few weird dance steps that puts space between them, which isn’t totally unreasonable, since Jungkook’s hand is itching for his knife.
“Heh, maybe? Don’t look at me like that, everyone else did too!”
Jungkook directs his glare down at the pavement and scuffs his feet against it extra hard. Bits of snow spray up satisfyingly.
“So? Where is he,” he asks after a long few seconds.
“No, where is Jimin!”
“Never heard of him.”
Jungkook lunges towards Taehyung, but he misjudges. Taehyung, the slippery bastard, slides away and hooks his foot around Jungkook’s ankle. Jungkook goes sprawling into the snow.
He splutters and rolls over, cursing, knife in hand. Taehyung is crouched down next to him, just out of reach. For once, his eyes are serious.
“If Jimin wanted you to know, you’d know,” Taehyung says. His fingers drum together where they hand between his knees. “But he doesn’t, so you don’t. Know, that is. Do you understand?”
“What? Jimin tells me everything.”
One of Taehyung’s eyebrows arches up. “Not quite. And not this. Let him have his time.”
“So he’s taking a break? Or is it just another job?”
Taehyung shrugs, then stands. He offers his hand down to Jungkook.
“Why won’t you tell me where he is!” Jungkook snaps.
“Why do you even care?”
Jungkook, ready to fire back, pauses. Thinks. Doesn’t really come up with much.
“Are you going to sit there all day?” Taehyung says after a few moments. Jungkook makes sure to give Taehyung’s outstretched hand a distasteful look before getting to his feet by himself.
“Why are you even here,” Jungkook asks petulantly, brushing the snow off his clothes. Denim is a whole lot less cool when it’s wet.
“Someone has to forge the weapons properly,” Taehyung says. Jungkook looks at him blankly and Taehyung looks gleeful. “You didn’t listen to the plan at all, did you? Excellent. I’m definitely going to win the next pot too. C’mon, you look sad, I’ll let you eat some of my nice cut of beef.”
Taehyung takes off down the street again, Jungkook trailing behind.
“Can you bet on someone other than me?”
“Can you stop doing dumb stuff?”
Jungkook isn’t sure why he’s so stuck on this. Jimin isn’t on the job. Jimin doesn’t want him to know where he is. Jungkook’s had no trouble tracking him down before, but people are normally a lot more informative. None of his usual contacts have anything for him and the team is useless.
Hyejin is pretty much impenetrable and claims she has no clue. He gets a cup of shitty, off-brand Coke poured on him when he pushes, so that’s out.
Yoongi knows where everyone is at every moment of the day, even if he pretends he doesn’t. It takes a few days of bugging, but Jungkook knows where to press. And it turns out that Yoongi, computer genius and stalker extraordinaire, hasn’t been able to trace Jimin.
“He’s gone off-grid,” Yoongi tells him, glaring at lines of text on his laptop. “Last known location, Athens.”
“Useless!” Jungkook scoffs, pushing away. “I’m never paying for your food ever again.”
“You’ve never paid for my food. Or your food.” Yoongi sighs and turns from his screen. He blinks languidly at Jungkook. “And why do you care where Jimin is, anyway?”
People keep asking him that. It’s getting really annoying.
Namjoon is next, but all he cares about is his stupid plan and his stupid ethics, and he manages to bore Jungkook to death before he can find out anything useful. The best information he has is that Jimin never responded to his invite for this job, or any of the past few.
Jungkook asks Taehyung only once more, but gets the same reply – why do you care? Which, rude. He cares. Obviously, or he wouldn’t be asking. But Taehyung is Jimin’s closest friend, which means he definitely knows something. So Jungkook can’t give up on him entirely.
It takes a few more days to convince Yoongi to clone Taehyung’s phone, or to at least teach him how to do it. Yoongi grumbles and bitches the whole time, but he’s soft inside and Jungkook knows this better than anyone. A few well-placed threats – mostly mentions of Seokjin, but Jungkook isn’t going to tell anyone – and he has a minty fresh clone of Taehyung’s mobile in hand.
“Do me a favour,” Yoongi says as he hands it over. “At least sort your shit out before you go see him.”
“My shit is sorted out,” Jungkook says with a confused frown. “I just need to know what job he’s on.”
Yoongi stares at him. Jungkook looks back.
“Okay,” Yoongi says slowly. “Sure. Let’s go with that. Don’t tell Taehyung this came from me.”
So Jungkook gets the phone and he’s one step from tracing Jimin’s location when everything goes to shit. Well, it doesn’t really go completely to shit, because he has time to hide the phone in a secure location.
But he does end up in a prison for separatists in Uzbekistan.
It’s a long story, with not nearly as many guns and explosions in it as Jungkook would’ve liked, but the important parts are: he doesn’t completely ruin Namjoon’s job, because he’s a professional, but he sees an opening to pick up a tidy government-sponsored paycheck on the way, so he takes it.
Unfortunately, by the time he’s broken out of the prison, delivered the US spy to the embassy, picked up his cash, and returned to Helsinki for the phone, a month or so has passed.
No one’s left in Helsinki, of course. They’d all had their own escape routes out after the Stanton’s had been taken care of. And they’re used to Jungkook chasing after a new job at the drop of a hat. So he spends a few days in a nice hotel, washing off grime and blood and dirt, eating his way through breakfast buffets and following Yoongi’s instructions on how to trace a phone number.
When he’s finally got the address on the laptop in front of him, he blinks.
“Korea? What the fuck?”
Jungkook frowns at the shop in front of him, then looks down at the address on his phone screen. He’s definitely at the correct address. But… a flower shop? What the hell is Jimin doing at a flower shop.
He’s so intent on the shopfront that he doesn’t notice he’s being approached until it’s too late. Something sharp and pointy pokes him in the side. Jungkook yelps – a manly yelp – and spins. He’s confronted with a tiny woman, scowling at him from underneath a visor and brandishing a broom. She’s wearing a floral puffer jacket and bright purple pants – a hideous combination.
Jungkook takes his grip off the gun.
“You! What are you doing, skulking around? You think I haven’t seen you? Hiding out here? Up to no good? I’ve had enough of young people like you, always delinquents! I have police friends, you know!” The rapid-fire Korean is a lot for Jungkook to handle. His Korean isn’t that great at the best of times.
“Uh… sorry. Halmeoni?” He’s also not great at giving respect to his elders. Asia drives him nuts.
“Halmeoni? Halmeoni?” She pokes him with the broom again and it’s painful. “Do I know you? How old do you think I am, boy? You can call me ajhummeoni. No manners! Delinquent!”
“Sorry, ajhummeoni.” Jungkook tries to look as friendly as possible. The smile feels weird and clunky on his face, but he perseveres. He might not be as good a con artist as Jimin, but he can act, okay. “Can you please tell me who owns that flower shop over there?”
The woman frowns harder and peers at him suspiciously. “Accent? What is that accent? You look Korean, how come you speak like a Westerner? Like your mouth is stuffed with wool. Did your parents not teach you how to speak Korean?”
“The shop over there—”
“Aish! Why do you want to know? Leave the Jung boy alone, hooligan!” She stabs out with her broom again but Jungkook leaps to the side.
And this is why he leaves the covert shit to other people. Jungkook hates it, hates the slinking around and being “undercover”. He’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer and he’s proud of it. So, muttering under his breath, he gives up on his stakeout and heads across the street.
The old lady yells after him, “Don’t think I won’t report you, boy! I’ve seen your face!”
Jungkook ends up slamming into the flower shop so hard the bell above the door goes wild. He can still feel the old woman’s beady eyes on him. His side throbs.
He forgets about all that in a second when he hears a voice, airy and light and so, so familiar, say, “Welcome to Hope Floral, how can I—”
Jimin’s exactly as Jungkook remembers him, except better. More vivid, more vibrant, more real. He’s missed this feeling in his chest when he sees Jimin. It’s the same warmth he gets when drinking pretentious whiskey, but mixed in with sparks. Jimin looks just as perfect as always, hair swept back from his forehead, eyes wide. His forearms are covered in petals and leaves – he’s frozen in the middle of brushing himself off.
And Jungkook remembers that Jimin’s on some kind of con and he can’t ruin this for him, so he blurts out, “I’m after flowers. For a friend. Who likes flowers.”
They’ve done this before – where they’re both on a job and have to pretend not to know each other. It’s like a game to them. Jimin is, of course, a lot better at it than him. Jungkook’s better than Jimin at most things, but not this.
But Jimin seems to have forgotten the script. He’s still frozen and all the blood has drained from his face.
“Jungkook?” he says, voice weak.
Well… okay. That’s not right. They never give their real names out on the job, what the fuck.
“Jiminnie? Is everything okay?”
A guy pops around from the back of the store, smile wide. He’s wearing a beanie pulled low over his forehead, a bright orange shirt and, of all things, shorts? With tiny little dancing bananas on them. Even though it’s freezing outside.
Jungkook decides then and there that he doesn’t trust him.
This new dude also doesn’t look great – his eyes are bruised underneath, sunken in, the rest of his face pale and wan despite the happy expression. But Jimin turns around and gives him a soft, gentle smile.
“All good, Hobi,” he says. “Just startled myself.”
“Silly Jiminnie,” the guy – Hobi, what a dumb fucking name – says, patting Jimin on the cheek. He turns towards Jungkook and his smile widens even more. “Ah, a customer! What can we help you with?”
Jimin’s body is coiled tight. He’s gripping the edges of the counter so hard his knuckles are turning white.
“Flowers,” Jungkook says flatly, not really looking away from Jimin.
“I think you’re in the right place then, yeah? We have flowers for every occasion! Anniversary flowers, funeral flowers, flowers to say ‘sorry I forgot our anniversary’, flowers for that awkward colleague that’s in hospital, flowers for when you don’t know what else to bring to meet the in-laws—”
“Did you say you were making tea?” Jimin cuts in. The cheer in his voice is fake, but he’s selling it hard.
The guy blinks and glances back at Jimin, then to Jungkook. “Um… yeah! The yuja is just dissolving now. Did you want me to bring you a cup?”
“I’ll come get it in a few minutes.” It’s a dismissal. Hobi seems to realise it and a frown flickers onto his face. He gives Jungkook a more searching look, but spins back around.
“Sure!” He looks back over his shoulder at Jungkook. “Jimin will help you with anything you need! He’s the best at matching flowers to the right person.”
Jimin laughs weakly. Jungkook doesn’t react. Hobi reaches out and trails his fingers across Jimin’s shoulder as he leaves. It doesn’t even look like he knows he’s doing it. It makes Jungkook mad.
When he’s finally gone, Jungkook rolls his eyes and comes forward.
“Who the fuck is—”
Jungkook moves on instinct, swaying out of the way of the blur. Thunk. He glances behind him – there’s a pair of scissors stuck in the wall, quivering.
He frowns, turning back to Jimin and saying, “What—”
But he can’t finish once again because Jimin has leaped across the counter. He crashes into Jungkook’s side, knocking them both to the ground. Jungkook’s breath leaves him in an elegant oof.
“This is a weird hello—”
Jimin’s fist slams into his jaw and his head cracks against the floor. Instinct takes over again and he’s rolling, dislodging Jimin and getting space between them.
“Ow!” he cries, poking at his jaw. For tiny hands, Jimin sure packs a punch. Tiny fists of fury. He can feel the bruise already forming deep down to the bone. “Dick move! I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve that recentl—”
Jimin lunges at him again, this time sending them into a flower display. Petals go flying. Jimin gets in a sharp stab to his kidneys before Jungkook gets his feet underneath him enough to kick out and send Jimin sliding across the floor into the wall.
“What the fuck!”
Jimin pulls the scissors from the wall. “Who sent you?”
Jungkook frowns. “As in… how did I get your address?”
“Don’t play stupid,” Jimin hisses, and then he’s jumping forward with the scissors glinting in front of him. Jungkook bats his arm away, dodging backwards again and again.
“What—” grunt, “the fuck! Are you doing!”
“Who sent you?!”
“I don’t—” Jungkook slips a bit on a crushed flower and the scissors tear into his forearm. “Fuck this!”
He gives up on being on the defensive. It takes maybe three seconds to get Jimin facedown on the ground, arm twisted up behind him. Jimin’s not bad at fighting, but no one is a match for Jungkook.
“Let the scissors go,” Jungkook says, crouched over Jimin with his knee digging into his back. Jimin resists for a moment. Jungkook wrenches his arm up, feels it straining at the shoulder joint. Jimin’s fingers go limp. The scissors clatter to the floor.
Jungkook lets up a little, enough for Jimin to roll over onto his back.
“What are you doing?” Jungkook says. “Are you trying to blow your cover?”
“What?” Jimin stares.
Jungkook is frowning at his forearm. The scissors had torn through his new puffer jacket and the down is leaking out, along with his blood.
“I just got this,” he says. “You can pay for a new one. When you’ve calmed down.”
Jimin tenses and his body starts to twist up, but Jungkook slams his knee down into Jimin’s stomach. He falls back to the floor with an oof. Jungkook leans close, poking Jimin in the nose.
“Hey, stop that. What’s that shit Namjoon’s always saying to me? ‘Use your words’.”
“You can just get it over with,” Jimin says, jaw tensed and eyes narrowed. “You don’t have to draw this out. It’s not like you owe me anything.”
Jungkook pauses. Blinks. Leans in even closer so Jimin has to go cross-eyed to see him.
“Wait. Do you think I’m going to kill you?”
“I’m not going to let you hurt Hobi, though.”
Jungkook huffs a breath, sitting up and rolling his eyes. “Not him again. Blergh. Jimin-Jiminnie, if I wanted to kill you, don’t you think you’d be dead already? Honestly, it’s only been like two months. How could you be so forgetful.”
Jimin blinks up at him, still frowning. It doesn’t look right on his face.
“Plus, I like you too much to kill you. Duh. If I let you up, will you promise to stop attacking me?”
“Awesome!” He bends down and gives Jimin a quick kiss, then jumps up. He reaches a hand down. Jimin stares at it for a long moment. Jungkook wiggles his fingers and Jimin finally grabs onto it.
“So, what’s the job?” Jungkook crouches down and starts gathering some of the flowers back together. He plucks a few crushed petals off one, straights up another. Good as new.
“What?” Jimin is just standing there, not helping clean up at all.
“The job. The one you nearly blew by attacking me, duh.”
“There is no job.”
This makes Jungkook pause and look up at Jimin. He still hasn’t moved from where Jungkook left him.
“What?” Jungkook straightens up. “But… you’re in a flower shop. In the middle of nowhere. And that other dude?”
“There’s no job, Jungkook.” Jimin is eyeing him warily. “I’m done. I’m out of the game for good.”
“For good like… you’re taking a break to find yourself? Or whatever? For a few months? And then you’ll be back.”
Jungkook hates the soft look that enters Jimin’s eyes, especially when he says, “No. I’m done with that life now. For good.”
Jungkook doesn’t realise he’s pulled all the petals off the flowers in his hands until there are no petals left. He crushes the stems. It feels an awful lot like what his chest is doing, except Jimin’s the one squeezing the life out of his heart.
He opens his mouth and no words come out.
“Um…” Jimin nervously pushes his sleeves up, then shakes out his hair. “So…”
“Done for good,” Jungkook repeats when his voice finally works again. “Done forever?”
“And so you just left. And didn’t say anything?”
Jungkook’s world has narrowed down to just Jimin. Beautiful, bright, cruel Jimin. He doesn’t even notice the customer at the door until the bell is ringing.
“Is this a bad time?” the woman says, looking around the trashed shop with wide eyes.
Jimin transforms in an instant, sliding into his customer service face and going to greet her. Jungkook is still standing there like an absolute idiot. Jimin has always been so good at shifting personalities at the drop of the hat. It’s what makes him such a good conman. Jungkook, on the other hand…
He’s just an idiot.
He slips out the door when Jimin is occupied. Doesn’t feel guilty at all when he ignores Jimin calling him back.
Jungkook is… stumped. He wanders around for a while, but they really are in the middle of nowhere and suburbian Seoul is so blah. Everything looks exactly the same. He ends up finding a Mcdonald’s and listlessly staring out the window as he eats some fries. The sky is grey, overcast. People are hurrying past in big puffer jackets, huddled down from the cold.
It’s depressing. Why would Jimin settle for here when everything else is so much more fun? And that flower shop guy, Hobi, who looked like he was one speck of stray dust away from coughing himself into oblivion. And that angry old lady across the street! What the fuck.
Jimin is throwing away a life of five star resorts, private planes and $500 bottles of champagne for this? Jungkook doesn’t believe it. He won’t believe it. And he sure as hell isn’t going to let Jimin fade away in some Seoul backalley when he could be doing much better and brighter things with Jungkook.
He stares at one extra long fry, tilting his head and nibbling on the end.
There’s not really much other choice – he can’t leave yet. Not until he has Jimin back with him again.
Smiling to himself, he squirts on the little sauce packet next to him. Some kind of mayonnaise and BBQ sauce mixture? He shrugs.
And ends up spitting it out across the table. The brown-tinged, mangled fry goes flying, smacking into the neck of some corporate drone.
“What the fuck!” the man cries, shooting upright and frantically brushing himself off. He spins and fixes Jungkook with an angry look, yelling at him in some fast-paced slang that Jungkook can’t follow. Jungkook shoves the chocolate covered fries away from him. What kind of hell country covers their fries in chocolate?
Jungkook stands and the man is suddenly up in his face. Jungkook doesn’t care enough to listen, instead hooking his leg behind the man’s and shoving him so he plops back down into his seat.
“Stay,” he says, poking the man’s chest, then grabbing his soft drink and washing out his mouth with it. He spits it onto the gross fries.
“What the fuck did I just say?” Jungkook says, leaning in close. The man gulps. He doesn’t say anything else.
He ends up stealing some of the man’s fries, since his own are ruined. As he leaves, he sees the guy frantically calling someone on his phone, but his mind is too occupied with his newfound resolution to care.
Jimin can’t be happy here, living this boring life. All Jungkook has to do is remind him of everything else and then it’ll all go back to normal.
“So,” Jungkook says, bending his head to fit under the window sill. “I was thinking I could—”
Something whistles through the air. Jungkook ducks into the room, flailing to balance on one leg and finally falling into a roll when the rest of his body is through the window.
“Jungkook? What the fuck are you doing!”
Jungkook stands, brushes himself off. He glances behind him and frowns. There’s a candle lying on the floor, part of it flattened.
“Why’d you throw a candle at me?” He thought they’d gotten this over and done with earlier. “I’m not trying to kill you, okay.”
It’s dark, but the city is always well-lit enough to see by. And Jungkook can see that Jimin is sitting up in bed, a gun trained on him. So dramatic.
“Why’d you come in through the window?!” Jimin’s gun hand falls down to his side.
Jungkook picks up the candle and frowns. He digs his finger into it to try and rescue the wick.
Jimin sighs loudly and runs a hand through his hair. It’s blond and Jungkook likes it on him much better than the boring black of before. Boring like his own hair.
“How’d you find where I live? How’d you even find me in the first place?”
“Magic!” Jungkook says, twiddling the fingers of one hand as he places the candle back on Jimin’s bedside table. It’s a little mashed up, but he thinks it looks pretty good.
“Kook,” Jimin says with warm exasperation and it’s so familiar, Jungkook’s heart gives a heavy thud. It’s like the thousand times he’s said it before, that same tone, and it’s the most normal Jimin’s been to him since Jungkook arrived.
“I put a tracker on you earlier, of course,” he explains, feeling pretty smug. “And as for finding you here, more broadly, I copied Taehyung’s phone and tracked you because I know you two are attached at the hip. I got a bit side-tracked along the way in Uzbekistan, or I would’ve been here earlier.”
“Uzbeki— no, I don’t want to know. Can you please leave?”
“What? No.” Jungkook pouts. “I haven’t said what I came here to say yet.”
Jimin sinks back into his pillows, huffing. “What did you want to say, Jungkook?”
“Okay.” Jungkook takes a deep breath. “I want to help out in your little flower shop. Selling flowers or whatever. I’ve been researching the principles of floral arrangement and I’ve memorised them. So there’s proportion, scale, harmony, rhythm—”
“Jungkook, do you even know what you’re talking about or are you just reading out something you saw?”
“Hey, I memorised that for you. I can arrange flowers for you!”
“Why would you want to help me?”
“I like flowers?”
“I like… leaves? Green ones. And yellow-green ones.”
“I like propor—”
“You want to convince me to come back, right?” Jimin looks unimpressed.
“Well. You weren’t meant to know. I don’t know if it’ll be as effective if you know. I feel like the whole point is that the mark doesn’t actually know they’re a mark.”
“This is why you do the punching and others do the conning. But, Kook… I’m not coming back.” His voice is gentle. “You know that, right? I’m done.”
“Okay.” Jungkook clasps his hands behind his back and tries not to rock on his heels.
Jimin’s eyes narrow. “You helping in the shop for a few days until you grow bored isn’t going to change that. Okay?”
Jimin narrows his eyes at him. Jungkook looks back. Finally, Jimin makes a disgruntled noise. “Fine, whatever. You can help out. But I don’t really work in the store that often. I have my PI gig that takes up most of the day.”
Jungkook stares at him blankly.
“Like… private investigator,” Jimin says slowly. “People come to me with problems and I solve them.”
“Oh, a detective? Like that time we pretended to be policemen in Melbourne?”
“Yeah, but not part of the police. I get hired by the people themselves. I even have a licence and it’s real.”
“Kinda sounds like what we were doing before but boring.”
Jimin frowns. “No, I’m actually doing good this time. Helping real people rather than just the one percent.”
Jungkook tosses the idea around in his head for a bit but comes to the same conclusion – boring. But, whatever, it’ll probably make it easier to convince Jimin to come back.
“So like Sherlock Holmes?”
Jimin’s face twitches. “More like Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon.”
“The what? Actually, doesn’t matter, I don’t care. Maybe more like Jessica Jones? Dark past and all that? That’s pretty badass, I’d go for that over the malteser whatever.”
Jimin is rubbing his forehead. “Are you done? Can you let me sleep now?”
Jungkook nods once, decisively. “True, gotta get our beauty sleep before the big day. What time is rise and shine?” He steps towards the bed and kicks off his shoes.
“What’re you— oh, no way.”
Jungkook is only halfway into the bed when Jimin is in front of him in his ridiculous striped pyjamas, shoes in one hand, dragging him out of the bedroom.
“What? Why can’t I sleep with you?”
“Nope, not gonna happen.” Jimin throws open the apartment door and the hallway light flicks on, bathing them with light. Jungkook blinks rapidly until his eyes adjust.
“We always sleep together though!”
“Not anymore.” Jimin shoves him out the door and throws his boots after him. The door slams shut. Jungkook is left staring at the door. It cracks open and one eye appears, blonde fringe falling into it. “Be at the shop at nine. Bring coffee.”
Then the door slams shut again and stays that way.
“Coffee!” Jungkook sing-songs as he throws open the door to the store. Hobi, arranging flowers on a shelf, startles so badly the flowers go flying.
“Yah!” he yelps. “What! Why!”
Yesterday the store was playing soothing classical music. Today, the bass is thumping out some kind of French hip hop song, the harsh lyrics a bit much for nine in the morning.
“Coffee,” Jungkook says, switching to his shitty Korean. “But not for you. I didn’t think to get you one. I don’t know if I would’ve, anyway.”
“Can’t have caffeine anyway,” Hoseok says, flapping a hand at Jungkook. He has another beanie on, this time baby pink. “Didn’t find what you were looking for yesterday?”
As if by magic, Jimin pops out of the backroom looking a lot more awake than the early hours of this morning.
“Kook! C’mon, you’re late, let’s go.”
Jungkook looks at his watch. “It’s only five minutes past? And I technically got here like two minutes ago.”
Jimin ignores him, grabbing his arm and dragging him out the door. He yells over his shoulder, “Hyung, this is Jungkook, he’s helping me out. Kook, Hoseok. Be back soon, bye!”
Jungkook likes the warmth of Jimin’s hand on him, but Jimin drops him quickly when they’re out the door. Jungkook frowns.
“What kind of nickname is Hobi anyway?” As nicknames go, it’s pretty weak. Kook is, of course, the best one.
“A good one,” Jimin says, flagging down a taxi. “He used to be called Hope when we were little. Please try not to be a dick to him.”
“Who even is he?” Jungkook bitches, but then a taxi swerves to a stop in front of them, they’re piling in and his question is forgotten.
The taxi is silent except for the driver tapping along to trot music on the radio, Jimin humming the chorus.
“Where are we going?” Jungkook looks out the window, but all the streets and apartment buildings look the same.
“Seoul National,” Jimin says. “There’s a missing student.”
“Isn’t that something the police covers?”
“It hasn’t been long enough for them to take it seriously yet. And she’s a scholarship student. Her parents hired me.”
“Sounds poor,” Jungkook comments, making Jimin roll his eyes. “What do you even get paid for a job like this?”
“I take whatever they can afford.”
Jungkook stares at him. “What.”
Jimin shifts in the seat so he’s facing Jungkook more fully.
“Well it’s not like I need the money. I wouldn’t even take payment but that makes people too uncomfortable. And finding someone’s missing daughter shouldn’t only be something rich people can do. It’s not fair to the people who actually need this help.”
“Isn’t that why there are police? And… I dunno, taxes.”
“Jungkook you’ve never filed taxes in your life. And I bet you don’t even pay any anyway.”
Jungkook shrugs. “Not my problem.”
“Do you even understand taxes?”
“What’s the point? I’m never going to pay them.”
“Well that’s nice for you. I have to pay them now.”
“Do you know where you don’t have to pay tax? The Bahamas. Maybe. Probably. Some deserted island. Whatever, my point is that here is boring and you have to pay taxes, but you could be literally anywhere else. Doing jobs, having fun.”
“Why not? Taxes, Jimin. C’mon.”
“What we were doing wasn’t right, Jungkook. Sure, it was fun at times, but it was like selling my soul to the highest bidder. I’m sick of helping rich people become richer and just… rich people in general. They’re assholes. And we should be using all these skills we have and the money to help people who actually need it.”
Jungkook stares at him. “Like Batman?”
Jimin punches him in the arm and he yelps.
“Did you listen to anything I just said?!”
Jungkook rubs his arm. It’s throbbing.
“Yeah, I’ve heard it all before. What does it even matter? Just donate to charity every once in a while like a normal person.”
“Don’t you talk to me about normal people, Jungkook,” Jimin says. There’s a glint in his eye that says his fists are about to come out again. “You’re the most dysfunctional person I know.”
“Aw, thank you.”
The taxi pulls up next to a gate.
“Not a compliment. You’re the worst to talk to about this stuff,” Jimin says, opening his door. “Pay the driver.”
Jungkook splutters as Jimin hops out of the car and walks off, hands tucked in his pockets. It takes him a fair while to work out the cash, what with all the zeros at the end, so he has to jog to catch up with Jimin.
“That was mean. Aren’t you all about doing good now? And I’m a guest here, aren’t you meant to pay for everything?”
Jimin gives him a look out the corner of his eyes. “You’re the worst Korean I know. And that counts Seokjin.”
Jungkook squints. “I don’t think it really counts if I’ve never lived in Korea. Blame daddy-Jin.”
“Ugh, I hate when you call him that.”
“Stop saying it!”
Jimin’s tiny hands come up and cover Jungkook’s mouth.
“Stop it,” he hisses. His eyes dart around the courtyard. “What if he hears?”
“You don’t need to mention his name to summon him, he hears all,” is what Jungkook tries to say, but it just comes out as a series of “mmm blmmt”s instead. Cranky, he darts out his tongue and licks up Jimin’s palm. Jimin squawks and snatches it back.
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “Out of all the places my tongue has been on your body, this is where you draw the line? Okay, sure.”
Jimin’s cheeks flood with red and Jungkook can’t look away.
“Let’s go,” he ends up muttering and strides off, Jungkook trailing behind. As they find the dorm building and go up the elevator, Jimin fills Jungkook in. Jungkook tunes out pretty quick, because boring, but he knows the basics: scholarship student, hard-working, boring as hell.
They stop outside a door. Jimin turns to him.
“Let me do all the talking, okay?”
“I know, like we normally do. I just stand there and look intimidating.”
“How about just standing there, hmm? Dial back on the intimidating.”
Jungkook huffs and reaches across Jimin, knocking on the door. Jimin elbows him in the side.
The door opens. It’s a girl wearing a bright yellow onesie, sucking on a lollipop. She looks them both up and down, eyes lingering on Jungkook as she says, “Can I help you?”
“Minji? I’m Park Jimin, we spoke on the phone.”
“Oh.” Her eyes finally go to Jimin and her mouth twists. “Lame. Yeah, come in. Sorry for the mess or whatever.”
She disappears from the door and Jimin lunges out to catch it before it shuts.
“Charming,” Jungkook says as they toe off their shoes, and Jimin shushes him.
There are clothes everywhere. Every surface is covered. There are two beds at opposite ends, but there’s nothing distinguishing about either side. The mess is universal. Minji plants her feet and sweeps the pile of clothes off her bed, then upends everything off the chair. She kicks a few stray shoes and books so the area is somewhat clear.
“Have a seat,” she says sweetly, settling onto the bed. Jimin takes the chair, stepping over everything gingerly. She wriggles and the onesie slips off one shoulder. “I don’t mind sharing the bed.”
“I’m fine,” Jungkook says. His nose wrinkles at the bedspread. It’s a print with some anime character that looks like it’s exploding out of an eggshell. Weird. He glances around the rest of the room. There’s a closet next to the bed, doors wide open, but nothing is hanging up inside.
While Jungkook was distracted, Jimin had kicked off the questions.
“She does this all the time,” Minji is saying. “It’s not that unusual. Her parents just don’t find out about it.”
“How long for usually?”
“A day or two.”
“It’s been four days now.”
Minji pauses. “I guess that’s weird. Huh. So if you ask all the questions, what do you do?” Her cat-like eyes fasten onto Jungkook.
“Not the talking,” Jungkook says.
Jimin’s eyes dart between the two of them and his grimace is tiny, but there. “Where do you think Chunhwa’s gone?”
“Who’s Chunhwa?” Jungkook cuts in.
The look Jimin gives him is icy. Minji giggles.
“Remember when you said you don’t do the talking? Let’s stick to that.” Jimin turns back to Minji and gives her his fake smile, the one that looks real and crinkles his eyes up. But Jungkook knows him well enough to see through it. “You were saying?”
Minji shrugs and her onesie falls further off her shoulder. “I dunno, she’ll go anywhere to be honest. Last few times she’s been on a bender. She stinks when she comes back.”
Jimin’s eyes sharpen and he leans forward. “She’s a big partier?”
“All the time. Even during exams? I honestly don’t understand how she still has her scholarship. Or how her parents still think she’s this little angel. I think her sweat is 100% vodka at this point.”
Jungkook likes what Jimin’s wearing today, tight pants and a parker that has fur around the hood. When he wears the hood it makes Jungkook want to pinch his cheeks and coo. Although last time he did that, he ended up stabbed in the hand by a pencil, which was not nice. He still has the little scar and dot of black from the lead.
To be fair, though, Jungkook likes whatever Jimin is wearing. His style is cool, no offensively bright colours like what Hoseok wears.
Suddenly Jimin is standing up, eyes crinkling into half-moons as he thanks the girl.
“Let me know if you hear from her, okay?” Jimin says, picking his way through the mess and putting his shoes back on.
“Mmm,” Minji says, leaning against the wall and watching Jungkook tie up his boots. “Sure. Hey, can I get your number? In case I hear from her.”
The room goes quiet. Jungkook straightens up and blinks when he sees both of them staring at him, Minji with wide eyes, Jimin annoyed.
“What?” he says defensively. “I didn’t even do anything. What?”
“Ah, your number,” Minji says, looking a whole lot less certain. “In case Chunhwa contacts me?”
Jungkook frowns. “Who?”
“My roommate. The one you’re looking for?”
“What about her? You should probably just ask Jimin.”
“But what if I’m in danger and I need help? Could I call you?”
Jungkook stares at her. Then looks at Jimin. Jimin just widens his eyes at him meaningfully, but Jungkook doesn’t know what the fuck that’s supposed to mean. Jimin’s always telling him to be less blunt with people and Namjoon tells him to be nicer, so… maybe that?
“Uh… I don’t have a phone,” he says slowly.
“You were playing with it before,” Minji says with a frown. “I can see it in your pocket?”
“Yeah… no phone, so. Yep.”
The room is quiet again but this time it’s not because Jungkook wasn’t listening, so it’s not his fault.
“Well just let us know, thanks!” Jimin says, voice higher-pitched than normal. He grabs Jungkook and hauls him out of the room, the door slamming shut on whatever the girl was saying.
Jimin collapses against the opposite wall, snort-laughing and curled in on himself.
“You,” giggle, “are unbelievable!”
“I was trying to be nice!” Jungkook cries, throwing his hands in the air. “What the fuck do you want from me!”
“That was your idea of nice? Oh my god. Oh my god. You just shattered her world.”
“How? I didn’t even do anything! I was just standing there like you wanted!”
“She’s going to be scarred for life. She’s never going to ask someone out again! Oh my god, I shouldn't laugh, that’s so mean.” But he continues giggling.
“She can probably still hear you,” Jungkook says, arms crossed, but there’s a smile on his lips. He can’t help it, not when Jimin’s like this.
Jimin pushes off the wall, stumbles a few steps, but is still giggling away.
“You don’t have a phone? What kind of excuse is that? I can’t wait to tell Tae.”
“Wait, she was asking me out?” Jungkook says, brain only just catching up. “Why?”
“Of course she was! Did you really not notice any of the signals? She just about chewed her lip off whenever she looked at you.”
Jungkook thought back to the whole encounter, but all he could remember was being confused about why the closet was empty and all the clothes were on the ground. And there may have been a shoe hanging off the top of the closet? How?
“If you say so,” Jungkook says doubtfully.
Jimin rolls his eyes. His laughter has finally died down, but he’s still grinning. It’s his real one this time, wide and joyful. When they’re around others he normally covers his mouth. Jungkook likes how he doesn’t with him. He likes it a lot.
They’re waiting for the elevator. Jimin’s about to say something, but Jungkook grabs onto his wrist, saying, “Jimin.” He leans in and kisses him.
Jimin’s exactly as he remembers, but more. Better. Soft and pliant, hard muscle, mouth sweet as he moves against Jungkook. It’s so familiar, something they’ve done a thousand times, but for Jungkook it’s like coming home. It’s been months without Jimin, without his infectious laughter and his brightness. Jungkook is starved.
The elevator dings and Jimin’s suddenly gone.
“Jungkook,” he says, eyes wide and lips slick. He’s standing a few feet away. Out of reaching distance. “We can’t.”
“What? Since when?”
“Since now. This isn’t… I can’t do that anymore. This is my new start.” And you’re not part of it is left unsaid between them. But Jungkook can feel it. Has felt them since he first found out Jimin had disappeared and not told him where.
The elevator doors slide closed.
“Why? What’s different?”
“Everything’s different, Kook. I’m here and you’re here now, but you won’t be for long. And I’m not going back with you. I have a home here. And a job.”
Jungkook laughs. It’s sharp and incredulous. “A job? Selling flowers? Hunting down someone who’s on a bender? Fun.”
Jimin goes hard. His mouth flatterns and his whole body tenses up. It’s pretty much a blaring red alert that he’s done something wrong.
“Yes, this is my job. This is my life now. And I love it. I’m actually doing something good for a change.” He slams his hand on the elevator button and it dings open. “You can get the stairs.” Jimin steps in, turns and scowls at him.
“Is this because of Hoseok?” Jungkook says, grabbing onto the elevator doors before they close.
Jimin moves fast, twirling into a kick that slams Jungkook right in the chest and sends him stumbling backwards. Jungkook coughs, wind knocked out of him. Jimin hits a button and the doors slide shut.
“Fucking hell,” he mutters, straightening and shaking out his shoulders. First his sides ache from Jimin’s pointy elbows. Now his chest.
That wasn’t exactly how he wanted it to go.
Jungkook isn’t having a very good day. He hasn’t seen Jimin since he rejected him yesterday. That probably has a lot to do with it. And he’d been getting really fucking good at building programs for the work Yoongi had been sending him until the assignment was a database. And he realised he had to learn SQL. Fuck that.
So he’s scowling at his laptop in a cafe down the road from Jimin’s shop, feeling like if he sees another query he’ll throw up, but not hating it enough to actually go do what he’s avoiding and see Jimin, when someone plops down into the seat across from him.
It’s Hoseok, wearing a bright red bucket hat and blue-striped shirt.
Jungkook looks back at the query he was writing, which is way less offensive than Hoseok’s idea of colour coordination.
Hoseok clears his throat.
Jungkook fucks something up and has to roll everything back.
“Hello Jungkook,” Hoseok says. “How are you?”
“Fine,” Jungkook replies, not quite focused on him. He ends up rewriting a few lines and fixes the mistake.
“Weather’s cold, huh?”
“That happens in winter.”
Jungkook thinks he has it. He runs it— and it fails.
“People are still after flowers, though, no matter what the wea—”
Jungkook slams his laptop lid down. Fuck SQL and fuck Yoongi and these stupid assignments. Hacking is for nerds, anyway. “Did you want something?”
Hoseok smiles and everything about him is much too bright.
“So, you’re a friend of Jimin’s?”
Jungkook’s eyes narrow suspiciously.
“You’re not a friend?”
“Never met him.”
“So you are a friend of his.”
“Do you not have hair?”
“Sure don’t, do you like it?” Hoseok whips off the bucket hat and skims his hand across his bare skull. He doesn’t even seem phased by the turn in conversation. “Got bitten by a radioactive spider. It all fell out.”
“Your head is… knobby.”
“Thanks.” He plants the bucket hat back on. “You should give it a go! It’ll do wonders for your eyes, I think.”
“Being bitten by a spider will do wonders for my eyes?”
Jungkook crosses his arms and sits back in the chair. His eyes don’t leave Hoseok.
Hoseok twitches then pushes a plate across the table. “Want some cake?”
Jungkook doesn’t reply.
After a few long moments, Hoseok says, “So, you’re a friend of Jimin’s.”
Jungkook’s eyebrows rise.
“From before,” Hoseok continues. “From his mysterious other job that he spends most of the year at.”
Meaning, Jimin had been coming back here for years. And Jungkook hadn’t known. His fingers twitch for the knife strapped to his forearm.
But still, he doesn’t say anything.
Hoseok leans across the table and the laughter falls from his eyes. His face is dead serious when he says, “Why are you here now?”
Jungkook isn’t that easily startled, but the swift change takes him aback. Hoseok suddenly looks a whole lot less ridiculous, despite the clashing colours. He’s always seen Hoseok as the enemy, but now he’s an enemy.
“Why do you care?” Jungkook’s arms fall apart, loose and ready.
“Why wouldn’t I care? He’s all I have and I’m all he has. I don’t know what shady stuff he’s been up to for the past ten years but I know he’s done with it now. So I don’t get why you’re here.”
“Why don’t you ask Jimin yourself?”
“He won’t tell me anything, of course. And I’m the older one; it’s my duty to be protective. I vet all of his boyfriends.”
Jungkook blinks. “Wait… what? Boyfriend?”
Hoseok rests his head on a palm, elbow on the table. “Oh, sorry. You’re not dating? I must’ve misread. You’re always looking at his ass, so.”
Jungkook will not go red. He won’t.
“No, that’s… fuck, what the fuck. Aren’t you dating or married or whatever?”
Hoseok goes still. Then, in a move so sudden Jungkook instinctually goes for his knife, Hoseok throws himself back in his chair and bursts out laughing. The woman at the table next to them jolts so hard her tea spills everywhere. Everyone is staring at them.
“Shut up,” Jungkook hisses. “Why are you so loud! What the fuck? What are you laughing at!”
Hoseok’s hand beats at the armrest, laughter snorting out.
“You!” The rest of the sentence disappears into giggles. “You think me?” Snort. “Me and Chim?” Laughter. “Are— are doing it? Ew!”
Jungkook shoves the knife back into its sheath and moodily crosses his arms again. He kicks Hoseok’s chair.
“Hey, cut it out.”
“Me and Chim!” Hoseok cackles.
People have stopped looking at them and the nearby tables have cleared out. Jungkook watches as Hoseok giggles and snorts and slaps his leg. Eventually, Jungkook steals the plate of cake and eats it all. It’s some kind of sponge. It isn’t very good.
By the time he’s done, Hoseok has calmed down.
“Me and Jimin,” he sighs, leaning back in his chair and wiping at his tears. “Oh boy. Oh man. I can’t wait to tell him.”
“Can I get an explanation now?” Jungkook says bitchily.
“Hmm, no, I don’t feel like it.”
“Are you serious?”
“You’re lucky you’re so pretty, ya know?” Hoseok says. “Because you’re not very smart.”
“I’m not pretty,” Jungkook spits. “I’m handsome.”
“Mmm, not quite. You’ve got the muscles, but maybe if you beef up even more? I wouldn’t recommend steroids though.” Hoseok leans forward and whispers, “How do you think I lost my hair, huh?”
“What? Wasn’t it a spider?”
“So here’s the deal, Jungkook, shady man with your terrible accent and pretty eyes. You can probably crush me like a bug with one of your well-shaped biceps. But my superpower is that all ajummas love me. Like, bring me food every day, check on me, fuss over me constantly kind of love. I’m sure you know a thousand ways to kill a person but there’s nothing more terrifying or stronger in this world than an army of angry ajummas. And you know who else they love? Jimin. So unless you want to be attacked with a broom again but by a hundred angry ajummas, don’t hurt Jimin. Do you understand?”
Jungkook still has a bruise from that broom handle.
“What the fuck? How do you know about that?”
“Ajumma eyes are everywhere, Jungkook. Now, do you understand?”
And it is, honestly, pretty fucking terrifying when Jungkook thinks about it.
“If you’re not fucking, then what’s your relationship?”
“C’mere,” Hoseok says, beckoning. Jungkook does as he’s told without really thinking about. Hoseok leans across the table and flicks him in the forehead.
“Ow!” Jungkook rears back.
“Never talk about Jiminnie and I fucking again. That’s incest and I won’t stand for it, no thank you.”
“Wait, you’re related?”
His head tilts. “Yes, Jungkook,” he says slowly.
“You’re brothers? You don’t even look like him!”
“Okay, well firstly, that’s rude. And secondly, he’s adopted. You don’t need to worry; only I have the lose-your-hair-at-twenty-five genes passed down to me.”
“You just said it was steroids. And you also said you were related!”
“Are you accusing me of incest, bad accent boy?”
“Good. So let’s recap – angry ajumma army, don’t hurt Jimin, do you understand?”
“I’m so confused.” Jungkook looks around helplessly but the rest of the cafe has pretty much cleared out after Hoseok’s hyena episode.
“All you need to do is nod your pretty little head. You make Jimin sad, I mobilise my army. Yes?”
Jungkook nods his head.
“Good.” Hoseok nods his head, satisfied. He gives Jungkook a sunny smile. “Come visit the store soon. Jimin keeps perking up whenever the door opens, but then gets sad when it’s not you.”
“I’m pretty busy,” Jungkook says, but it’s not convincing at all. His laptop is abandoned on the table. Honestly, he’s probably gonna give up on SQL – he can still hack into cool places that don’t involve databases. It’s fine.
Hoseok stands up. “Remember what I said, hmm? And you can call me hyung.”
Jungkook makes a face, muttering, “No thanks.”
Hoseok ignores him and pats him on the head like he hadn’t spoken. “See you around, Jungkook-ah.”
“I know you’re mad,” Jungkook says, opening the car door and sliding in, “but I brought chicken and everyone loves chicken so— hey, can you put that away? We’ve been through this. You’re not allowed to kill me and have all the chicken. It’s too much for one person.”
Jimin is pressed to the other side of the car, gun held in both hands and aimed steadily at Jungkook’s head.
“Jesus, Jungkook,” Jimin breathes out. The gun gets tucked away in the top of his pants again. “Can you stop just bursting in? And how did you find me, are you stalking me?”
Jimin’s eyes narrows. “You planted another tracker on me, didn’t you? I know I didn’t have a tail on my way here.”
“What are you doing here?”
“You know, you’re slipping. That’s twice I’ve snuck up on you.”
“Answer the question, Jungkook.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “I don’t see why I have to answer dumb questions. I’m bringing you chicken. I said that already.”
“Why are you bringing me chicken, then?”
“I was bored,” Jungkook says, shrugging. “Why not? I can help out with whatever job you’re on, too.”
“You found the last job boring. Don’t deny it.”
“It was boring. And that chick was creepy. I bet she offed the roommate and buried the body under one of the piles of shit in that room. What’s the job today?”
Jimin studies his face, mouth twisted. Then his face softens and he blows out a breath. He holds out a hand and demands, “Chicken.”
Jungkook obligingly gets out the container and one of the pointy sticks and gives it to him.
“So,” Jungkook says a little later, around a mouthful of spicy chicken. “Why are we here? Surveilling someone? About to catch a cheater? A predator?”
“I’m waiting for one Choi Jongyul. I have to deliver a summons.”
“A summons to what?”
“Court. He owns a chain of stores and one of his workers is suing him for negligence. Well, his family is. He’s in hospital with brain trauma because of this guy.”
“So you just… tell him to go to court? Couldn’t you just call him.”
“That’s not the way the law works. I have to hand him the documents and get evidence that I did.” Jimin taps a finger against the action camera strapped to his chest. It’s black and blends in with his top – Jungkook hadn’t even noticed it.
“Sounds kinky,” Jungkook says, spearing three pieces of chicken and shoving them all into his mouth at once. Jimin gives him a sidelong look.
“It is,” he says, voice low and almost a purr. Jungkook chokes on the chicken. Jimin bursts out laughing, hunching over and slapping Jungkook’s shoulder. “You’re too easy!” he giggles.
Jungkook is still coughing, eyes watering – some of the hot sauce had gone down the wrong way. He still tries to scowl at him. Judging by the continued laughter, Jimin isn’t affected by it.
“Anyway,” Jimin says, finally calming down. Jungkook is guzzling down water but his throat still feels funny. “He’s been keeping a low profile, but this is his mistress’ place, so he should be here soon.”
“His mistress? Ooh, drama. Can we tell the wife about her? Send her photos but blur out the important parts so it could be him but she’s not sure, then she has to pay money to find out.”
Jimin squints at him. “That’s not how this works. At all? Like, completely. I’m pretty sure that’s blackmail.”
Jungkook shrugs. “Sounds like more money than you’re making now. And drama.”
“It’s definitely blackmail. And it’s not helping anyone, did you miss that part?”
“No.” Jungkook sighs, sinking down in the seat and propping his feet up onto the dash. “I didn’t forget that bit. I left it out on purpose, because it’s boring.”
“It’s not boring. There’s a man in hospital who might not ever recover from an injury that this asshole could’ve prevented. And he has healthcare, yeah, but that’s not going to be much help when he can barely communicate. So they’re suing him and I’m gonna make sure they get everything they need to put him away. And be compensated.”
Jungkook blinks. Jimin’s eyes are alight, voice low and serious. It makes his heart thump in his chest. So maybe… he didn’t take Jimin’s new job all that seriously. And maybe that was a mistake.
“You really care?” Jungkook asks. “Why?”
Jimin’s jaw sets. “I can’t change much, but I can help with this.”
Jungkook frowns, not liking the way that sits with him.
“But… bad shit happens all the time, whether you’re there or not,” he says. “This isn’t going to change much in the grand scheme of things. This guy will probably go on to manage many other shitty workplaces and cause many other shitty accidents. Shit things happen all the time.”
“Well,” Jimin says, voice soft, looking out the window. His hands are clenched in his lap. “I think that’s a shitty view of the world. And I’m going to keep doing this because it makes a difference.”
Jungkook opens his mouth to argue more but then his eyes catch on Jimin’s hands. There’s a tiny tremor running through them. Jimin’s upset.
He clears his throat instead. “Um,” he says, searching for what to say. “I’m sure they… appreciate it…”
Jimin lets out a long sigh and the tension flows out of him. “You suck at lying. And you suck at being comforting.” His eyes are determined again. “It doesn’t matter, because you won’t be hanging around for long, anyway.”
“What, I never said tha—”
“There he is,” Jimin cuts in, jerking his head towards the front of the car. “Good timing is the only good thing this guy has, I guess. Come on.”
Without waiting, Jimin jumps out of the car and jogs across the street. He cuts in front of a man in a grey coat, causing him to stutter to a stop. Jungkook once again has to fumble to catch up.
“...summons, care of the Gwok family and KP Partners.”
“Court?” The man laughs and doesn’t take the paper. Jungkook doesn’t like the nasty edge to it. He steps forward but Jimin cuts a look towards him. He stays where he is. “For what? That idiot being clumsy?”
“For negligence, actually.”
The man is turning red. Jungkook inches closer.
“Negligence? On what fucking grounds! If he was dumb enough to trip over and hit his head, he probably deserves it!”
Jimin rolls his eyes. “Just take the summons.”
The man takes the summons but immediately throws it into the slushy snow on the side of the road. He gets up in Jimin’s face, red-faced and finger stabbing angrily at his chest.
“You can’t make me do shit, you—”
Jungkook is there in an instant, grabbing his wrist and twisting it behind the man’s back. A quick jab to the back of his knees sends him crashing to the ground and Jungkook holds him there, straining the arm up enough to feel the joints strain. The man’s face squishes into the dirty pavement.
“That wasn’t very nice,” Jungkook says. “Where are your manners?”
“Jungkook,” Jimin says, exasperated. Jungkook looks up to send him a quick grin and Jimin huffs, bending down to pick up the summons and dust the snow off. He’s definitely not all that mad.
“I’m going to sue the hell out of you!” the man is saying, voice thready and weak. “You’ll never see the sun again! You’ll regret everything that—”
“Stop that,” Jungkook says, tightening his grip on his arm so his rant ends in a squeal. After spending that month in Uzbekistan where he really didn’t get to see the sun, it’s offensive this guy thinks he could put him back there.
“So this is what’s going to happen,” Jimin says, crouching down. “You’re going to— Jungkook, can you bring him up a bit? I can’t talk to him like this.” Jungkook, obligingly, hauls the man up so he’s on his knees. “Okay, so. You’re going to take the summons and smile pretty for the picture so I have proof of delivery, because someone made this video footage unusable. Got it?”
The man is panting hard. Jungkook starts to brush off the bits of muck he collected from the ground. “Fine,” he spits out. “Just get your fucking hands off me.”
“Sure,” Jungkook says, giving the man a pat on the head. “But don’t be going anywhere or I’ll break your arm next time, yeah?”
Jimin leans forward and brushes off the front of the man’s coat, fixing his hair down.
“Okay, ready? Here are your summons, delivered safely,” Jimin says. Jungkook hovers close behind as the man reaches out an unsteady hand to take the paper. Jimin’s face brightens as he whips out his phone and says, “Smile!”
The man scowls. Jimin takes the photo anyway.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” Jimin says. “Please continue about your day as if we were never here. And remember to show up to court on the required dates! Thanks!”
The man’s eyes dart between the two of them, before he stumbles upright and into the apartment building next to them.
“I think that went well,” Jungkook says, watching him trip over the first step then run up the next.
“Well, I guess relative to what you’ve caused before… sure, it went well. There were no explosions.” Jimin is smiling, eyes half-moons.
“Exactly! A success. So what do we do now?”
“We don’t do anything,” Jimin says. “I have to go fix some stuff up back at the store and delete all the video footage. You can… I don’t know, do whatever it is you’ve been doing when you haven’t been stalking me. Hanging around street corners? Getting beaten up by ajummas?”
Jungkook’s side throbs at the memory.
“We could… uh…” Jungkook looks around wildly. Spots a cheery cafe on the corner. “Go get coffee?”
“You don’t even drink coffee.”
“They have drinks other than coffee.” He’d even found one that stocks banana milk, the same place where Hoseok had hunted him down to.
“I have stuff to do,” Jimin repeats.
Jungkook frowns. “That sounds like one of those polite things people say when they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. You have nothing to do and just want to get away from me, right?”
Jimin’s mouth pulls back into a tiny grimace. “Well. Ah, I do actually have to send the photo to the law firm. And finish that up.”
“But you don’t want me there? Why. You said we were working together now!”
“Well, I didn’t expect you to stick around this long. And you keep saying it’s boring! Why would I drag you to do paperwork?”
“Because I like hanging out with you! Obviously.”
Jimin snorts. “I’m not going to sleep with you. You know that, right? We’re not doing that anymore.”
Jungkook folds his arms. He can feel his lower lip jutting out. “I don’t see why not. Hoseok said you liked seeing me!”
“What? Hoseok? When did you speak to Hoseok!”
“And he’s your brother, not your boyfriend, so you lied to me.”
“Ew, gross. I never said he was my boyfriend; why would I have said that!”
Jungkook opens his mouth, pauses, then closes it. “Well,” he says after a moment. “Maybe you didn’t say boyfriend. But you said you didn’t have any family!”
“I don’t! Except Hoseok.”
“Then that means you do! So there, you lied!”
“That doesn’t even matter. Why are we arguing about this!”
“I… don’t know.” Jungkook pauses. “You won’t let me hang out with you. Why not.”
“Kook…” The tension leaks out of him and he sighs, running a hand through his hair. “I still don’t get why you’re actually here.”
“Because I missed you. Obviously.”
Jimin looks taken-aback. “What? ‘Obviously’? You’ve never once said that.”
“I said it. Why wouldn’t I say it?”
“You never— no, we’re going in circles. Look, I should’ve set ground rules before. I just didn’t think you’d be around for so long.”
“Hey, that’s mean—”
Jimin holds up a hand and Jungkook cuts himself off.
“So, here are the rules. One, I’m not sleeping with you. Two, no more kissing. Three, no randomly attacking people—”
“That seems restrictive,” Jungkook mutters.
“—Four, you have to do what I say. Five—”
“Are these in priority order? What if you tell me to randomly attack someone?”
“—Five! Five. No… uh.” Jimin pauses. He’d been sticking out fingers as he’d gone, so now his tiny pinky is just waving in the air. It’s so cute, Jungkook wants to squish it. “I’ll think of something. But those are the rules. Okay?”
“No, now you’re just doing what you do to Namjoon! Repeat them back to me.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “That’s what Namjoon makes me do, so technically I’m still doing what—”
“Repeat them back!”
And Jungkook does, because Jimin can be bossy as hell sometimes and Jungkook is into it.
“First one, no fucking. Second rule is pretty much the same, third one is no random attacks, weird but ok—”
“No, I need you to not attack anyone. I can’t have the police on my ass.”
Jungkook thinks of Jimin in a police outfit, but one of those ones with the tiny shorts. And a baton?
Jimin punches him in the chest.
“Don’t be a baby; it wasn’t that hard.”
“Maybe if your fist was a normal size and the force gets distributed all over it, but your hand is so tiny it’s all concentrated in one small spot.”
“That’s definitely not how it works. Repeat the rules again!”
“Ugh. Third one is no attacking anyone. Which seems short-sighted but whatever.” Jimin’s hand twitches and Jungkook rushes to say, “Don’t punch me again, jeez! Four is doing what you say, which I like doing anyway.” He gives Jimin an over-the-top wink.
“Gross.” Jimin’s face scrunches up.
“Hey, you’re the one that likes bossing me around. Don’t kink-shame yourself.”
“Kink what? No, I’m not going there. So tell me you agree to follow my rules.”
“Do I have to?” Jungkook whines. “They’re not even any fun.”
“You can either follow the rules or leave and don’t come back.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes. Before, he may have said Jimin was bluffing. But he’d already left him behind once.
“Fine,” he says, long and grudgingly. “I agree to your dumb rules. But under protest!”
Jimin smiles, sunny and bright. “Good!” he chirps. “Now you can come help me with my paperwork.”
It sounds boring as hell, but the look on Jimin’s face says he’s just waiting for Jungkook to say it. So instead, he pastes an equally as big smile on his face and says, “Sure thing! Can’t wait!”
Jungkook lies on his hotel bed, staring up at the ceiling. He spins a shitty old phone between his fingers – one of those ones that have Snake on it and you never need to charge. It has more in common with a brick than an iPhone.
It’s his personal phone, his actual one. The one he uses to contact Seokjin and the few other people he’s close to. He hasn’t turned it on since he got to Seoul, since he’s with the only person he’s interested in talking to. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
He’s helped out Jimin with a few more jobs over the past two days – getting evidence for a law firm for a civil case, debugging a house, helping Hoseok in the store. The most exciting one was getting to threaten some guy who’d been stalking a woman. That had been fun, even if he wasn’t allowed to randomly attack people anymore.
But nothing felt right. Every time he reached out to Jimin, he’d pull away. It felt like there was a line on the ground and Jimin was firmly keeping Jungkook on the other side. And he didn’t like it.
He powers on the phone. Messages flood in – mostly job offers that get automatically forwarded from his many other numbers. He flicks through them quickly, notes the ones which are somewhat interesting. But then he hovers over Seokjin’s number.
He has a few different numbers for him in his phone, all for different circumstances. This one is the emergency one. He knows Seokjin is off on some job, deep undercover, but he hadn’t cared enough to listen properly last time they’d spoken. Seokjin says a lot of bullshit – Jungkook can’t be expected to pay attention to all of it.
But things are starting to feel pretty dire. He’s been here for over a week now and Jimin seems perfectly content with his boring job and his nonexistent sex life. With not much room for Jungkook in it.
It’s an emergency.
Huffing, he calls the number.
Jungkook is sitting on the counter, kicking his heels against it in a drumming rhythm and watching Jimin help a customer choose flowers. Jimin’s eyes are completely focused on her, head bobbing and smiling as the lady went on and on. Weirdly enough, Jungkook is terrible at customer service. He’d helped out for a few days, then been relegated to manual labour. Which ended up being just staring at Jimin.
Someone clears their throat.
Jimin does that move where he pushes his hair back, eyes shining as he smiles. Jungkook’s head tilts to the side as he watches.
“Um, excuse me? Sir?”
“We’d like to speak to Park Jimin? And his associate?”
This makes Jungkook finally turn to look at the speaker. It’s a woman in a long dress, parker buttoned up to her throat and beanie held tightly between two hands. A child hovers behind her, peeking out from around her leg.
The woman blinks at him. Her face is drawn and tired, bags beneath her eyes. Her eyebrows flicker down.
“Kim Yeseo.” The customer’s gone and Jimin is coming forward, bowing low. “I didn’t expect to see you? And Hyunki too. Hello.” Jimin ducks down to give a little wave to the kid, who just stares blankly back. “Is everything okay with your husband? Has Choi been giving you more trouble?”
“No, ah, nothing like that. Not at all. I just wanted to thank you for all you’ve done, with building the case and keeping Choi away from us.” The woman’s eyes are misty. Her fingers are white where they’re scrunched tight in the beanie. “This is one of the hardest things we’ve been through and I didn’t think we’d make it this far. But we have, and it’s because of you.”
Jungkook observes Jimin closely. His face is tinged pink, head ducked a bit in embarrassment. But his eyes are bright. Glowing. Jungkook doesn’t think he’s ever seen him like this on a job. Not even after a successful job.
“I’m just doing my job,” he says, still that mix of glowing and abashed. “You don’t need to thank me.”
Jimin continues on, but Jungkook’s attention is torn away. The boy has stepped forward and is poking at Jungkook’s knee.
“Are you lost, tiny child?”
“I want treats,” the kid says. “I’m hungry.”
“Do I look like I have treats?”
Jungkook stares down at the kid. The kid stares back up, unblinking.
“You’re staring a lot for someone who can’t fight.”
“I can so,” the kid says. “I punched Shiwoo in the nose because he kept taking my lunch and now he doesn’t take my lunch anymore. Mum said I shouldn’t tell anyone I did that. And that it makes me a bully. So can I have treats now?”
“You just told me, though.”
The kid stares at him. Jungkook stares back, then shrugs. “Yeah sure, why not. You like banana milk?”
“My favourite!” the kid says. Jungkook slides off the counter-top while the kid bounces on his heels. He leads him into the back area where Jimin normally works out of. It’s pretty cramped, but there’s a bar fridge in the corner. Jungkook had been keeping it well-stocked.
He grabs two banana milks and hands one to the kid. They both sip it and stare.
“So,” Jungkook says, trying to think of kid-friendly things to talk about. “Do you—”
“My mum said my dad might die. And if he doesn’t he won’t be the same. She said this on the phone and she thought I was asleep but I was actually awake.”
Jungkook blinks. “Oh. You’re that family.” His head cocks to the side. “I guess I’m… sorry?”
“For what? Did you hurt my dad?”
“No, I’m helping him. I guess. It’s just what people say.”
“You know what? I don’t know. I don’t think it makes sense either.”
“Maybe it’s an adult thing.”
“Hey, I’m an adult!” And he is damn good at being an adult, too, even if he doesn’t understand taxes.
“No, you’re not. You speak funny. And you’re drinking banana milk. Only kids drink banana milk.”
“That’s not a rule,” Jungkook says, scowling. “Adults can drink banana milk!”
“You’re wrong. When my dad dies I won’t be able to drink banana milk anymore because I will have to be an adult.”
Jungkook pauses. That’s… not a normal thing for a kid to say, right? That’s pretty messed up. Right? Fuck, Jungkook has no idea.
“Well, you have Jimin helping you, right? The guy your mum is talking to outside?”
The kid nods. “I like his smile even if he’s short for an adult.”
“Yeah, me too. But Jimin’s really good at his job and he’ll fix everything so you can keep being a kid and don’t have to be an adult. And can keep having banana milk, because it’s yum.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Are you going to help fix everything?”
Jungkook finishes his banana milk and fiddles with the empty bottle. “Ah… I’m not really good at fixing things. I’m better at blowing things up.”
The kid’s eyes go wide. “Wow, really? Like a superhero?”
“Yeah.” Jungkook nods firmly. “Exactly like a superhero. Like Iron Man, to be exact.”
“So you’ll blow up the man that hurt my dad?”
“Exactly,” Jungkook says, then in a flash thinks of Jimin’s reaction to that. “Uh, don’t tell anyone though, yeah? Our secret.”
“I’m good at secrets,” the boy says. His cheeks hollow when he takes a big sip then pants out a breath. “Eunmi once spilt ink all over the teacher’s books and I promised not to tell anyone and I never did.”
Jungkook realises that his secret is probably not safe with this kid.
“Kook?” Jimin’s voice drifts in from the shop.
“Err, have another banana milk,” Jungkook says, grabbing one from the fridge and shoving it into the boy’s hands. He can’t talk and get Jungkook in trouble if his mouth is full. “Coming!”
When they walk back into the shop, Jimin is pink-cheeked and cradling something wrapped in silk in his hands. The woman holds out her hand and the kid trots over, grabbing onto it with his free hand.
“Thank you again, Jimin. From the bottom of my heart.”
Jimin’s face is turning even more red. “It’s no trouble. At all. Please let me know if anything comes up.”
Jungkook hops back up onto the counter as Jimin sees them out. When he comes back, there’s a tiny smile on his face.
“She brought us a present,” he says, setting the silk-wrapped package down next to Jungkook.
“I think she brought you a present.”
“You’ve also helped on this, it’s yours too, Kook. Oh, it’s cupcakes!” Jimin holds one up and it’s decorated with layers of multi-coloured frosting, glittering in places. But the look on Jimin’s face makes Jungkook’s breath catch in his throat. He’s so happy. They’d received fortunes after jobs before and it hadn’t put this look on Jimin’s face. But a box of homemade cupcakes did.
Jungkook takes the cupcake when Jimin offers one, but his mind is racing.
He doesn’t get the “helping people in need” thing, not really. He guesses it’s kind of nice knowing he’s helping out that kid. But being able to put that look on Jimin’s face?
Jungkook maybe gets it.
Only a day later, Jungkook is lying on the floor of Jimin’s office with his hands behind his head. His feet tap out a rhythm on the floor, in time with the heavy rap pumping out of the store as Hoseok closes up. Jimin is hunched over his laptop, muttering to himself and not paying any attention to Jungkook.
“Remember that time in Prague—”
“You didn’t even let me finish!”
“I didn’t need to. I knew what you were going to say.”
“What was I going to say then?”
“I’m not repeating it.”
“So you don’t know.”
“I do know because there was only one memorable thing about Prague. But saying it will just encourage you.”
“Ha, you admit it was memorable!”
Jimin twists in his seat to glare down at Jungkook.
“Of course it was, I don’t think my knees have ever been the same. But remember our ground rules?”
“The ground rules said nothing about talking about sex. Just actually having it.”
Jimin turns back to his laptop. “Maybe I’ll add one.”
“That’s not fa—”
“Uh, hey guys?” It’s Hoseok, pushing the door open. The music, an afrobeat song now, pours into the room. “Can anyone tell me why there’s a random guy cooking upstairs?”
“What?” Jimin surges upright, gun appearing in his hand. “Did he see you?”
Jungkook flips up and feels gratified when Hoseok’s eyes blow wide. But only for a moment, because he’s got more important things on his mind.
“Seokjinnieeeeee!” he yells, taking the stairs two at a time. He bursts into the apartment and it’s his first time in there, but he’s only got eyes for the broad-shouldered man flipping something in the pan.
“Think fast,” Seokjin says, then there’s something spinning through the air. Jungkook ducks and hears it clatter into the wall and then the floor. Jimin curses behind him.
“Why is everyone always throwing stuff at me!” Jungkook whines, stretching out his neck. He’d tweaked it slightly when he’d ducked out of the way.
“It’s probably your face,” Seokjin says. “So pretty I want to crush it up into diamond powder and use it to rehydrate and invigorate my skin. Now, come here.”
Jungkook walks over, grinning so hard it hurts his cheeks.
“Open,” Seokjin demands when he gets within distance. He has a piece of some kind of pancake on a spoon. Jungkook dutifully opens his mouth and Seokjin feeds it to him.
“Mm, corn? Isn’t it a pancake?”
Seokjin uses a knife to flip one of them over, then uses the same knife to boop Jungkook on the head. “No, it’s a corn fritter, you heathen. You’ve really lost all taste since you moved out. Now, you’re forgetting something.”
“Seokjin?” Jimin exclaims from the door. He’s holding a spatula in his hand. “What the fuck?”
Seokjin’s eyes don’t move from Jungkook.
“Uh… hello, Seokjin? Good to see you?”
“No! You’re meant to tell me I don’t need to hydrate my skin as it’s perfect already! Look at this! Look how springy it is!” He jabs a finger at his cheek to demonstrate. “Feel it yourself.”
Jungkook reaches out and cups Seokjin’s cheek. He makes a noise. “Mm, nice. Like silk. No hydrating necessary, Jinnie.”
“Can you please explain to me what the fuck you’re doing here, Seokjin?” Jimin says, coming forward. His arms are crossed and he doesn’t look too happy.
“Just passing through,” Seokjin says airily, going back to his pan. Jungkook’s hand falls to his side. “Here, try this.” He’s holding out more of the corn fritter.
“Is that the same spoon Jungkook used?”
“You’ve exchanged more than saliva before, don’t be shy now. Open up!”
“I don’t really want to—”
“I said open up,” Seokjin says. His eyes narrow, voice goes slightly deeper. Jimin’s mouth immediately pops open. Seokjin feeds him the chunk of fritter and steps back, looking satisfied. A strangled sound comes out of Jimin’s throat and he freezes mid-chew. “Don’t you dare spit that out.”
Jimin’s face twists. He keeps chewing and swallows it down, grimacing the whole time.
“That was disgusting,” Jimin says, looking ill. “How did you even eat that? I think all the salt burnt my tongue.”
Jungkook shrugs. “Practice.”
“Hey!” Seokjin slaps Jungkook across the head again with the knife. “I fed you, I put clothes on your back, I taught you everything you know! And this is how you repay me! I am a good fucking cook. Say it!”
“You’re the best cook ever,” Jungkook says from rote. “No one is more handsome or skilled than you.”
“Thank you.” Seokjin gives a gracious smile and he’s almost too pretty to look at. “Now, tell me what’s going on here.”
“Well to start off with, you’ve invaded my brother’s kitchen. Are you going to explain that?” Jimin taps the spatula against his thigh. Jungkook’s mouth waters a little.
“Hmm, no, I don’t think I will.”
“You were just passing through Korea? This district in particular?”
“Indeed.” Seokjin scrapes one of the fritters off the pan. It’s black on one side and uncooked on the other. He dumps it on a plate anyway. “Just happened to be coming down the street and heard a rumour that you live here now. And that Jungkook was here too, helping you out with your little flower business.”
“I’m a private investigator,” Jimin says. “Florist on the side.”
Seokjin snorts. “Boring.”
Jimin’s lips flatten into a tight line. Jungkook can read the warning sides. He wants to say that’s what I said! but he has a sense of self-preservation, so instead he says, “We’re not allowed to say it’s boring.”
Jimin turns angry eyes on him.
“Uh, I mean it’s not boring,” Jungkook corrects. “So you should… not say that.” Jimin doesn’t look that appeased.
“Why are you here?”
“Is it safe to come up now?” Hoseok says from the doorway. He gives them a bright grin.
Jimin sighs, switching back to Korean. “You’re already up here. What’s the point in asking?”
“Waa, beautiful,” Hoseok says, voice wondrous. He approaches Seokjin with wide eyes. “Who are you? You’re welcome to use my kitchen any time.”
“Kim Seokjin. Jungkook is my son and protege.” Jungkook is annoyed to realise Seokjin’s Korean is perfect and accent-free.
Both Jimin and Jungkook make a face, but they’re ignored.
“Your hair is so luscious,” Hoseok says. “What do you use? The last shampoo I used burnt all of my hair right off.”
“You said it was some kind of family hair loss thing!” Jungkook cuts in.
Seokjin leans in close to Hoseok. “A lady never tells her secrets.” Then he winks. Hoseok looks like he’s about to faint.
Jimin turns to Jungkook and points an angry finger at him. “You did this. Get him out of here!”
“Don’t worry, darling, I was just leaving,” Seokjin says. He unties the apron covered in cartoon suns from around his waist and throws it on the counter. Half of it lands in the sink. “Jungkookie and I have plans.” He comes around the bench and slides behind Jungkook, giving him a hug from behind. His bony chin digs into Jungkook’s shoulder and he squirms.
“Ew, get off me,” Jungkook mutters.
Seokjin’s hand pinches his ass. “Stop that.” And Jungkook, because he’s never been able to stand up to Seokjin and isn’t going to start now, stops squirming. He gives a beseeching look at Jimin, but he’s not looking at him. He’s too busy glaring at Seokjin.
“We’re also heading to a club opening tonight in Itaewon, if either of you would like to join us.”
“We are?” Jungkook says. Seokjin pinches him again and Jungkook whines.
“We are. There’ll be lots of free drinks. And cute boys. And lots of dancing, maybe even with cute boys.”
Jungkook frowns. This isn’t why he called Seokjin here. Seokjin is meant to be helping him with Jimin, but Jimin just looks mad as hell.
“Ooh, how cool! I’ll be there!” Hoseok says, bouncing on his heels.
“Jimin? From memory, you’ve always loved a night out.” Seokjin’s voice has a taunting tone to it that Jungkook doesn’t understand. Seokjin’s hand sweeps up Jungkook’s chest and he says, “Mm, hard.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes.
“Fine,” Jimin says, crossing his arms. His eyes are narrowed in suspicion. “If only to keep you all out of trouble. Jungkook, send me the details.”
“Perfect! Can’t wait,” Seokjin says. His pointy chin disappears for just a second then he’s blowing a wet raspberry into Jungkook’s neck. Jungkook squeals and slams his elbow back, but it only glances off Seokjin’s side as he giggles and dances away.
“Gross!” Jungkook cries, using his shirt to wipe off the remaining slobber. “You’re disgusting!”
He grabs the butter knife Seokjin had been using earlier and flings it at him, but Seokjin leans to the side and it flies past him. It embeds into the bookshelf.
“Hey, no fighting in Hobi’s apartment!” Jimin says. “Break it up.”
“Yes, Jungkook,” Seokjin says, looking awfully smug. “Grow up.”
“I hate you,” Jungkook mutters, stalking past him to the door. His neck still feels dirty and gross. “Come on!”
“Bye, Jiminnie,” Seokjin says, voice silky. “And lovely to meet you, Hoseok. I can’t wait to see you both tonight.”
The door is closing behind Seokjin when Jungkook hears Jimin cry, “Hey, you can’t just leave this mess here!”
“I think that went well,” Seokjin says, tapping on Jungkook’s shoulders like he’s playing the drums as they go down the stairs and out of the backdoor. “Relative, of course. God, Jimin’s ass is a work of art, hmm?”
“Hey,” Jungkook says, turning and knocking Seokjin’s hands off him. “You don’t get to say that. Or look!”
Seokjin rolls his eyes, moving past him to the street. “So you’re definitely still hung up on him?”
“It’s not just because you’re sex-deprived and fixated? I’m sure Uzbekistan didn’t have much to offer in the way of nice, willing asses. Maybe you should use tonight to hook up with someone else and see if it’s just the sex deprivation talking.”
Jungkook hadn’t told Seokjin about Uzbekistan, but he’d stopped being surprised at Seokjin’s knowledge a while back. He doesn’t understand how he knows everything, but he doesn’t question it.
“It’s not the sex deprivation,” Jungkook says, scowling. “I don’t need sex all the time. Unlike you!”
“Oh, yeah that’s right. You’re weird about sex.”
“I’m not weird about sex. Most people are just gross. I’m picky!”
“Boring,” Seokjin says, rolling his eyes. He gets out his keys and presses the unlock button. A fancy sports car in a no parking zone lights up. “So you’re still set on Jimin? Even though he’s boring as hell now?”
They get to the car and there’s a piece of white paper stuck to the windscreen. Seokjin picks it off, reads it, snorts, and throws it behind him.
“He’s not boring,” Jungkook says, sliding into the car. He really has to squat low to get into it, then has to spend a few minutes fiddling with the chair controls to get more room. “He’s the best. And he likes what he’s doing, so…” Jungkook shrugs.
Seokjin is silent for long enough the Jungkook looks over. Seokjin is staring at him, hand on the gearstick but not moving it out of park.
“It sounds like you think his new life isn’t boring as hell,” Seokjin says slowly, eyes narrowing. “Despite saying on the phone, quote, ‘You need to help me get him out of this boring as hell job and back to his real life’.”
Jungkook squirms. “Yeah, he does need to get back to his real life. But it’s not that boring here.”
Seokjin rests one elbow on the steering wheel, cupping his chin in his palm. His gaze turns even more searching.
Jungkook crosses his arms and frowns. “What? What’s interesting? Nothing’s interesting. Let’s go, c’mon. You’re gonna get another fine.”
“You see, I came here with one objective. But now I’m realising that it’s technically two objectives and they’re not as connected as I thought. Objective one: Get Jimin back to normal. Objective two: Get Jimin and Jungkookie back to their normal state of fucking like rabbits and staring at each other all grossly. And it looks like objective two might be the more important one here.”
“Those both sound the same to me,” Jungkook says. “Can we go?”
Seokjin is staring up at the sunroof and muttering to himself. “...guess we can’t do the cruise ship anymore, but that’s fine, it was a bit of a stretch anyway. Itaewon’s still a go… And I have that lace shirt… Or should I go with the mesh one? We’ll probably need more, though, but Seoyun should be around—”
“Can we go?”
“New objective, same mission!” Seokjin declares. “You have to seduce Jimin. No more of this ground rules bullshit.”
“But I promised him I wouldn’t!”
“You promised him you wouldn’t fuck him, not seduce him. And when have you cared about your word anyway? I raised you better than that.”
Jungkook thinks about it and nods. “True. I didn’t. But how am I meant to seduce him? He hasn’t even looked at me with sex eyes like he normally does!”
“Ew, I don’t need to hear about your boring, monogamous, vanilla sex rituals.”
“We’re not vanilla—”
“Regardless, I’ve already thought of a plan. A seduction plan. Can you put your seatbelt on please?”
“I don’t even know if he wants me anymore,” Jungkook mutters, looking down at his fingers twisting in his lap.
Seokjin snorts. “Oh, he does. Trust me. Now, seatbelt on.”
“How do you know! I kissed him and he didn’t even really care!”
“Seatbelt on,” Seokjin growls, “or the car doesn’t start!”
Sulkily, Jungkook reaches back for the seatbelt and clicks himself in. “That’s a stupid rule—waa!”
The car shoots out from the kerb, darting into traffic. Seokjin’s cackle can barely be heard over the roar of the engine.
“Trust me, Jungkookie!” Seokjin says. “He’s gagging for it just as much as you are. We just have to create the perfect circumstance for sparks to fly!”
Jungkook has both hands clutching onto the handle on the roof. His shoulder still collides into the window as they spin around a corner.
“I don’t think I trust you at all,” he says, feeling a bit nauseous as the car swerves to avoid someone coming across a zebra crossing.
Seokjin just cackles.
“You don’t even come to Korea that often,” Jungkook says, leaning into Seokjin’s space and yelling to be heard. “How did you get an invite to this?”
“I work in mysterious ways,” Seokjin says, wiggling the fingers of one hand like he’s about to cast a spell. “No one can resist me. Ah, Taeseob! What a lovely club.” Seokjin switches to Korean smoothly, smiling at a blond-haired guy in a long, striped shirt. They start conversing and Jungkook grows bored and more than a little cranky that when Seokjin speaks Korean, he sounds like a native. He wanders away after a little while and towards the bar.
He feels itchy and uncomfortable in what Seokjin has stuffed him in. He’s had to wear weird, high fashion shit like this before, but it’d always been for a job. Not for this. The pants feel too tight, like if he did a squat the ass would tear, and the silk shirt feels strange on his skin. Seokjin had also poked and prodded at his face for an hour, but what’s the point of makeup in a dark club?
And the worst part is that Jimin isn’t even here, so it’s pointless.
“Hey, can I get you a drink?”
Jungkook tilts his head to the side and looks at the man leaning against the bar next to him. He’s in a collared shirt made of deep-red leather. It’s strange.
“Aren’t they free?”
The man’s smile widens and he winks. “Exactly.”
“Then you’re not really getting me anything, are you?”
“I can order it for you. I’ve been told I’m great at ordering.”
Jungkook isn’t really sure what’s going on, but whatever it is, he doesn’t like it.
“That’s nice,” he says, and turns back to the bar to try and catch the bartender’s eye.
“Would you like to—”
“Can we just stand here in silence instead?” Jungkook cuts in. “I’d like that better than anything you can offer me.”
The man blinks and his stance loses its languidness. “The hot ones are always assholes,” he sneers, then disappears into the crowd.
“Thank fuck,” Jungkook mutters under his breath, then finally gets the bartender’s attention and orders a beer.
He finds a mezzanine level where he can drink his beer in peace and keep a close eye on the doorway. It takes Seokjin fifteen minutes to find him then drag him back to the bar and feed him three shots in quick succession.
“Drunk seems like a bad idea,” he says, making a face at the burn going down his throat.
“Nonsense,” Seokjin says, dropping a shot class into a beer and shoving it in Jungkook’s face. “Bottoms up!”
Jungkook does, but really wishes he hadn’t. “What the fuck is that?”
“Poktanju! Here, have another!”
Jungkook sputters and shoves Seokjin’s hands away. His head is starting to swim with that first wave of tipsiness. “No! Why are you doing this!”
“Our mission is to seduce Jimin and this is stage two.”
“What was stage one?”
“The ‘fuck me’ makeup and pants. Duh.”
“The what makeup?!”
“And stage three is you working those hips on the dancefloor. C’mon.” Seokjin grabs him by the wrist and starts tugging him through the crowd.
“Working what? No!”
Seokjin stops so suddenly Jungkook bumps into him. When Seokjin turns around, his glare is frosty. Uh oh.
“I’m sorry, what was that? Was that a ‘no’? Are you throwing my help back in my face?”
“Uh, no, I—”
“Because I dropped everything and flew all the way here, even though the pollution in Seoul makes me break out. But have you heard me complain? Hmm, have you?”
“No,” Jungkook mutters.
“No, you haven’t. Because this is an emergency. But why am I the only one treating it like an emergency?”
“No, I don’t think you really are. Now, for the rest of the night, you’re going to drink whatever alcohol I put in your hot little hands and you’re going to dance like our lord and saviour Britney Spears has asked you to. Yes, Jungkook?”
Seokjin cocks an eyebrow and waits.
“Noo, I hate saying it!” Jungkook whines. “Please don’t make me!”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought we were in the middle of a crisis, Jungkookie. Now say it!”
“Fuck, fine!” Lowering his voice, he says, “Yes, I understand, daddy-Jin.” He kind of wants to wash out his mouth.
Seokjin grins and crows, “Excellent! Glad that’s settled! Now come, I’ve found a hot twink to grind on you.”
“What, no—” At Seokjin’s death glare, Jungkook shuts up. He wants to die a little bit, but Seokjin really can make him do whatever he wants. He drags him to the dancefloor and throws them into the middle of it, and it’s horrible.
Well, okay, maybe it’s not so horrible. Jungkook doesn’t mind a dance every now and then, and when he fends off enough wandering hands that those around him realise he’s not into grinding, no matter what Seokjin says, he loosens up and has fun.
The alcohol probably has something to do with it as well.
“I don’t really get what this has got to do with operation seduce Jimin,” Jungkook yells into Seokjin’s ear.
“That’s why you’re not in charge, baby.” Seokjin grabs his hand and twists his arms. “Now, spin!”
“No—” But it’s too late and Jungkook has to twirl unless he wants to dislocate his shoulder. The world blurs then Seokjin’s grinning face slams back into focus. “You know I hate spi—”
“Now the other way!”
Jungkook is forced to spin again and this time, Seokjin dips him backward and places a loud, wet kiss on his nose. People around them cheer. Jungkook’s nose wrinkles in disgust.
“I hate you,” Jungkook grumbles, stomach still spinning.
“Oh baby, keep talking dirty to me,” Seokjin purrs, running a hand down Jungkook’s back to tap his ass. Jungkook jolts forward. “Now it’s go time!” Seokjin pulls away and Jungkook stumbles a bit. “Jimin, how lovely you could make it. And the other one. Please keep the predators away from my dear, sweet Kookie while I go touch up my powder. You, other one, come with me.”
In one moment Hoseok is standing next to Jimin, bopping on his toes, and in the next he’s being whisked away by Seokjin. Jungkook is left staring at Jimin.
The light is still shit in here, but Jimin glows to him in a way no one else does. There’s some kind of gold shimmer on his cheekbones that keeps catching the light, as well as the chains dangling off his ears. His top has a deep enough v-neck that Jungkook can see collarbone. He wants to bite it.
Someone bumps into him from behind and he has to catch himself.
“Um…” he says, very intelligently.
“Would you like to grab a drink?” Jimin says, pushing his hair back with a ring-covered hand. When Jungkook nods, Jimin grabs his hand and interlocks their fingers, then leads him through the crowd. His hand is small and perfect in Jungkook’s own. They’ve held hands thousands of times, Jungkook doesn’t get why he’s freaking out about now. It’s fine and it’s normal. He doesn’t need to get weird.
“I like your fingers,” he blurts, then wants to walk into a wall. “Uh, I mean, your rings.”
Jimin throws him an amused look. “I know you like my fingers, Kook,” he says. “A lot.”
Jungkook’s mouth goes dry. The look in Jimin’s eyes is hot, simmering, but then he’s turning back to the crowd and leading them up to the bar.
Somehow, Jimin gets served right away. While they wait, Jimin reclines back against the bar and Jungkook’s eyes helplessly draw down his throat. There’s also gold dusted across his collarbones.
“Seokjin really did a number on you,” Jimin says, and Jungkook’s eyes snap upwards.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in eye makeup.”
“I’ve worn eye makeup before. That job in Dubai at the casino?”
“You were wearing a mask. Doesn’t count.”
“I can wear makeup if I want.”
“I know.” Jimin smiles and pats him on the cheek. “It looks good.”
Jungkook’s body lights up and he bobs happily on his heels. Jimin laughs and turns back to the bar, grabbing the two rose-pink cocktails. There’s something dusted along the rim and Jungkook sniffs at it sceptically.
“Just drink it, you wuss,” Jimin says. “It’s—”
Jungkook looks up from his drink when Jimin cuts himself off. Jimin’s eyes are trained just behind Jungkook’s ear. Jungkook turns but just sees a mass of people.
“You are so unsubtle!” Jimin hisses, tugging his shoulder back around. His cocktail sloshes over the rim.
“What are you looking at?”
Jimin blinks and focuses back on Jungkook. There’s a change on his face – like a screen has come down. Closed off, almost. It’s his job face.
“Luke Yeung,” Jimin says. “I thought he might be here.”
“What? What does that mean?”
Jungkook goes to turn around again but Jimin forces him back.
“Stop that! Just… go along with this, okay? C’mon.”
And then Jimin is dragging him through the club, sliding easily between people while Jungkook stumbles behind him.
They reach some stairs with a bouncer standing in front of them, but Jimin just smiles at him and the man steps aside. It’s on the opposite end to the mezzanine Jungkook was on earlier and it’s much bigger, with its own private bar, lounges and separate dancefloor. The atmosphere up here is slower, heavier. There’s a hell of a lot more shiny things and weird clothing, which means rich people.
Jimin blends in with these flashy people perfectly, but Jungkook feels big and awkward. He leans in close to speak, but Jimin upends the rest of his cocktail down his throat. Jungkook blinks.
After tossing his empty glass aside, Jimin grabs Jungkook’s cocktail with one hand and runs his fingers through Jungkook’s hair with his other.
“Tilt back,” he says, voice low and accompanied by a hair tug, and Jungkook can’t do anything but obey. Jimin pours the rest of the cocktail into his mouth, easing up at the right times so Jungkook doesn’t choke. Jungkook wants to ask what’s the point in the sugar-coated rim if they’re just going to do this, but the thought fades quickly. Jimin’s hand in his hair is tight, but the good pain, and his eyes are dark and intense. It’s the Jimin Jungkook knows well. And as much as he loves being back in Jimin’s company, he’s missed this as well.
“Good boy,” Jimin murmurs when the liquid is gone. A bit spills down the side of Jungkook’s mouth as he swallows and brings his head back down. Jimin leans in and his tongue slides up Jungkook’s jaw, gathering all of it. “Sweet,” he says, popping a quick peck on Jungkook’s lips and withdrawing.
Jungkook is confused, but it’s not an urgent feeling. Instead, he feels like he’s floating and all he really cares about is getting Jimin’s lips back on him. He leans in but Jimin’s hand tightens in his hair.
“Nuh uh.” He smiles, sweet and angelic. “Not yet. We’ve got a job to run.”
Jungkook blinks. “A job?”
“Just go along with it.” And then Jimin’s hand is gone from his hair and he’s dragging him onto the dancefloor. Jimin tugs him close so their hips slot together, then he’s swaying. His moves are like liquid and Jungkook is helpless but to go along with it. Jimin tucks his head in close and Jungkook can feel his breath fanning his neck, tingling on the sweat there.
Hesitantly, Jungkook places his hands on Jimin’s hips. He tightens his grip when Jimin doesn’t say anything, just leans back into it.
Then Jimin’s hand is back in Jungkook’s hair, pulling his head to the side. His lips skim up his neck to his ear.
“There’s a man approaching,” Jimin says, just a puff of breath in his ear. “I need you to put a bug on him.”
It feels like cold water has been poured on him. “W-what?”
Jimin rolls his eyes. “I know you keep at least three on you at all times. And I also know you keep planting them on me even when I find and destroy them.”
Well… Jungkook was thinking about it like one of those fun unsaid things between them – that Jungkook is constantly tracking Jimin, and Jimin is constantly destroying the bugs.
“You’re his type, not me. Now, shut up.” Jimin’s teeth dig into Jungkook’s neck and he goes boneless immediately, shuddering.
“We don’t get boys like you both here often.”
The voice is deep, gravelly, loud enough to be heard over the music. Jungkook stiffens and his eyes fly open, but a quick tug from Jimin has him loose again in moments, eyes sliding half-shut.
He’s not completely unaware anymore, though, so he takes stock of the man that approached them. He looks like he’s mid-thirties, strong in that way that just lifting weights does, sharp jawline and a dusting of grey at his temples. His eyes are sharp and hungry, but Jungkook isn’t too worried – he’s already got the fight planned out down to four exit route options. If it comes to that. Which it probably won’t, because Jimin has his work face on again with a slow smile spreading across his face.
“We don’t play often,” Jimin says. The up-down he gives the other man is very deliberate. “What do you think, Kook-ah?”
They’re still swaying slightly to the beat and Jungkook lets more of his weight rest on Jimin. He tilts his head so it’s resting on Jimin’s shoulder and shrugs.
Suddenly, Jimin’s hand is tight in Jungkook’s hair again and he’s jerking his head back up.
“I asked you a question,” Jimin says, and there’s that undercurrent of steel to his voice that hits Jungkook in his core like nothing else. His eyes are fiery and intense, and Jungkook can’t look away. The line between reality and con is blurring. “And I expect a proper reply.”
“Not to me. To him.”
Jungkook lets Jimin spin him around to face the other guy. He feels small and blurry, but Jimin’s tight grip on his shoulder helps to ground him.
“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says, keeping his gaze trained low.
“Is that it?” Jimin’s voice is low and daring. “He can barely hear you.”
Jungkook slinks forward, into the man’s space. The guy’s eyes widen slightly, but he holds his ground. Jungkook steadies himself on the man’s hips and stretches up so he’s whispering, “Sorry,” in his ear as he’s slipping the bug out of his pocket and scratching off the protective layer.
“Apology accepted,” the man says. His pupils are blown wide. Jungkook drops back onto his heels and steps back, dragging a hand down the man’s arm. He places the bug on the inside of his watch and then Jimin’s tugging him back.
“You’re welcome to come and find us later,” he says with a grin, then he’s spinning and dragging Jungkook through the crowd with him like he can’t wait to get his hands on him. It’s normal. They’ve done this a thousand times.
But instead of heading to the nearest toilet cubicle, Jimin drags them down stairs and out the back door. The cold slams into him.
What’s worse is Jimin letting Jungkook’s wrist go immediately, like it burns to touch him. As if the past twenty minutes hadn’t happened.
Jungkook’s brain is struggling to catch up.
“What’s going on? What was all that?”
“Luke Yeung,” Jimin says, as if Jungkook is meant to know who that is. “He’s been on my radar for a few weeks. We think he’s a dirty cop.”
Jungkook frowns, trying to get his brain to start working again. It feels like he’s moving through honey.
“‘We’? No, wait, what? Are you saying that was all a con?” He thinks of Jimin tilting his head back, licking up his jaw. He can’t keep the smallness from his voice when he says, “All of it?”
“Yeah, sorry for not giving you much heads-up, but thank you for going along with it.” Jimin is so business-like. Cool and collected, where Jungkook feels like he’s splintering apart. “This is really a breakthrough—”
“But you didn’t.”
“Heads-up. You didn’t give me any heads-up.”
“Ah, yeah… sorry. I had to move quick.”
Jungkook takes a step away from Jimin because he can’t quite think properly when he’s that close. And he needs to think, because his head is all messed up from what happened in there and it doesn’t feel right.
“So that, in there.” Jungkook gestures back to the club. The bass is pounding out a quick rhythm. He can’t hear much else. “That was all fake? Part of the con?”
Jimin, for the first time, begins to look unsure. “It’s not a con, exactly. Not like we used to do.”
“But that back there, everything, with the hair and the teeth and the licking – that was just to get that guy’s attention.”
Jimin’s fingers are turning white where his hands are gripping each other.
“I’m sorry I didn’t give you more of a heads-up—”
“It feels like.” And Jungkook stops, because he’s not really sure what he’s feeling, but it’s not right. And he’s not good at saying what he feels, but he knows he has to say something. So he tries to get it out, slow but persevering. “That, in there, was real. For me. And I think you knew that and used that.”
“Jungkook,” Jimin says quietly, but Jungkook isn’t listening.
“You gave me ground rules and you said no kissing, but you kissed me back there. And… and you know what I get like when you’re like that. But you… manipulated me, almost? Yeah, manipulated. That’s what it feels like.”
“And I guess this is my fault? You’ve never really said you wanted me here. You left and didn’t tell me in the first place, and I had to track you down. So maybe it doesn’t matter to you because it’s all fake to you? But it’s real to me. It always has been. And I think you knew that and used it, because I was the quickest way to get to your goal and you know I’m a shit actor, so it was easier to just leave me in the dark?”
“That’s not— I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Yeah, okay,” Jungkook says. He hates how small his voice is. He hates how small he feels. Not long ago he broke out of a high security prison using only blunt utensils. He’s even stolen a tank once, fake or not. He shouldn’t be feeling like this, but Jimin has always had a way of sneaking right in and setting up a place in his chest.
And now, Jimin doesn’t saying anything like “it wasn’t fake” or “it was real, always” – he just stands there with his eyes wide and shining, beseeching. And Jungkook could reach out and touch Jimin, real and solid in front of him, yet he’s never felt further away.
“Okay,” he says again, voice smaller. “I’ll just… yeah. Maybe need to digest this a bit more. So… I’ll see you.”
“Don’t leave,” Jimin says, and Jungkook freezes. “Seoul, I mean. We, uh, we still have that job to finish. With finding Chunhwa. I’ve got a lead.”
Jungkook has no idea who Chunhwa is, but he feels too tired to ask. He also has no idea what it means that Jimin is asking this, after being so cold for so long.
“Okay,” he says. “Sure. I’ve got to, uh, tell Seokjin I’m leaving. So.” He does an awkward wave then ducks back through the door. He doesn’t look back.
The door slams open.
“You think you can just leave without telling me? Huh?” Seokjin sails into the apartment. He gives Jungkook, standing there with a gun in his hand, a dismissive up-down. “Put that away. Do you have any food? I’m hungry.”
Jungkook blinks as his heartbeat slows back down and he puts the gun away. Maybe this is what it was like for Jimin all those times. He trails Seokjin into the kitchen, where he’s slamming open and closed all the cupboards. Everything’s empty.
“You’re not meant to know where I am,” Jungkook says, frowning. He still had his hotel room. This apartment was meant to be untraceable.
Seokjin pauses to turn to him and raise both eyebrows slowly. “Who do you think I am, darling? Some talentless hack? Some unattractive fail thief?”
“Okay, yes, fine, dumb question—”
“Please, remind me who I am again.”
“Remind me who I am.”
“You’re Kim Seokjin, flower of South Korea, jewel of the US, blessing on all those you come into contact with,” Jungkook recites, voice bored.
“And I’m sorry I questioned your abilities. Happy?”
Seokjin sniffs. “No. You have no food. I raised you better than this.”
“I just moved in twelve hours ago!”
“You need to stop your pitiful excuses. They’re worthless to me. Order us some groceries right now.”
“Do I have to?” Jungkook whines. “Can’t you do it?”
“Jungkook, do not test me!”
“Fine,” Jungkook mutters, slinking back into the living room and collapsing on the couch. He navigates to the app and orders the usual range of stuff Seokjin likes.
“Now,” Seokjin says, perching himself delicately in front of Jungkook on the coffee table. “Explain to me why you left last night without saying anything.”
He’d meant to go tell Seokjin he was leaving. He really had. But when he’d gone back inside, the loud music and pulsing lights had been too much. He’d ended up grabbing his jacket and getting the hell out of there.
But he doesn’t really want to go into any of that. There’s still a sick feeling in his stomach and he’d rather just keep lying on the couch and playing Snake instead.
Something must show on his face, because Seokjin sits forward suddenly, all laughter gone from his face in an instant.
“You’re upset,” he says and it’s not a question. “What did Jimin do.”
Jungkook stares at the ceiling and tries to stop twitching.
“It’s not a big deal,” he says, and he’s not lying. He’s not. “I overreacted.”
In one smooth movement, Seokjin is crouching over him and jabbing his knee into his diaphragm.
“What did he do?” Seokjin’s folded in half so his face is right in front of Jungkook, who goes cross-eyed.
“It’s nothing,” he whines.
Seokjin stares at him, eyes scanning his face. He sits up and tugs a pair of gloves out of his jacket, slipping them on.
“Fine. If you don’t tell me, I’ll have to get it from him.” He takes out a slim pouch from an inner pocket and Jungkook can hear the tinkling of glass tubes. “Good, I have the SP-117. Maybe I want something more… memorable…”
“You are not drugging Jimin,” Jungkook says. “I’ll tell you. Just get off me!”
“I’m just fine here, thanks,” Seokjin says, settling back so he’s sitting on Jungkook’s thighs. “And I’m not promising anything.”
Jungkook makes a face, but it fades when he thinks back on last night.
“Jimin was… kind of like he used to be with me? Touchy. Controlling.”
“I saw him lick your face,” Seokjin says, eyebrows wiggling. “Hot.”
“Gross, stop doing that.”
“So are you saying you didn’t want that? I thought my plan had worked.”
“No, I did, I just…” Jungkook makes a frustrated noise, because he fucking hates talking about feelings and emotions. “He didn’t mean it. He wanted to plant a bug on some dude and I’m apparently his type. So he did all that to get his attention, but… I guess I didn’t realise that. Even though he told me.”
“Did he tell you this before or after putting you into subspace?”
Jungkook jolts. “He didn’t— We didn’t—”
“I saw you, Kookie, and I know what subspace looks like. Don’t look at me like that, it’s not weird.”
“I don’t want to know anything else about your sex life.” He feels nauseous. He’d once walked in on him and Yoongi fucking, and it’d scarred his eyes for months.
“Such a prude,” Seokjin says, rolling his eyes. “But whatever. You need to answer my question.”
“I… I don’t know. Maybe before? Just before? But it wasn’t subspace, okay, not really.”
Seokjin’s mouth flattens. “If you’re not sure, then that answers the question. I’m going to fucking kill him.”
Seokjin springs off him like he’s dismounting a horse. Jungkook lunges after him and snags his wrist. “Don’t—”
Seokjin spins and dislodges Jungkook’s hold.
“I’m going to pull off his nails one by one. I’m going to chop his fucking tiny dick off and make him eat it. How fucking dare he? And not even be here afterwards? He fucking left you alone?”
Jungkook’s on his feet now and he slides between Seokjin and the door. Seokjin’s face is twisted with an ugly scowl.
“You’re not doing any of that because it wasn’t that big of a deal!”
“Get out of my way, Kook.”
“No! I can handle this, okay?”
“By what, sitting in last night’s makeup and playing Snake some more? You’re going to break out now and that’s his fault too.”
“I don’t need you to beat up mean people anymore!”
“I’m sure you don’t, but you can bet I’m fucking doing it anyway. Now, move.”
Seokjin goes for his pouch again and Jungkook’s been knocked out by whatever Seokjin has in there enough to act quickly. He jumps forward, grabbing Seokjin’s wrist and twisting it behind his back. Or, at least he tries to – Seokjin slithers out of his grasp, spinning and hooking an ankle around the back of his knee hard enough to send him crashing down.
“He needs to learn that—” Jungkook, still on the floor, stretches forward, grabs Seokjin’s ankle and pulls hard. Seokjin goes down, slamming into the coffee table and breaking it down the middle.
Jungkook doesn’t waste a moment. He scrambles forward, narrowly missing a shoe to the face. Seokjin is pulling out that fucking pouch again. Jungkook grabs onto the hand holding the pouch and slams it to the ground, moving so his knee is pinning down Seokjin’s other arm. He ends up flopping like a fish.
“Let go of it,” Jungkook growls. “I won’t let you hurt him.”
Seokjin huffs, but complies. The pouch drops to the floor and Jungkook eyes it warily.
“You’re always such a little bitch about my poison pack,” he says. “I’ve never even used the really bad ones on you!”
“Yes you have,” Jungkook says. “Remember? When you went through that phase of trying to build up my tolerance?”
“Huh, oh yeah. You’re right. But I’m still going to rip your little boyfriend’s pretty head from his lovely long neck.”
“No,” Jungkook says, banging Seokjin’s hand against the floor in emphasis. Seokjin is straining to look up at him upside-down, but his scowl is still well-pronounced. “You’re not doing that. I don’t need you to do that.”
“He hurt you. He doesn’t get to do that. No one gets to do that.”
“You’ve hurt me. Literally when you put VX in my steak dinner that time. That was fucking painful.”
“Okay one, I gave you the antidote right away. Two, it’s not my fault you didn’t do your homework properly so you couldn’t detect it. Three, I did it out of love. It’s not the same.”
And that just reminds Jungkook that Jimin didn’t do any of that out of love. He did it because he saw a handy tool in front of him and no reason why he shouldn’t use it.
Jungkook slumps down, letting go of Seokjin. He makes sure to kick the pouch away, but he lets Seokjin gingerly sit up.
“You’re not allowed to beat him,” Jungkook says. “Or go near him. Or do anything that might harm him, passively or not. It was shit what he did, I guess, but it’s not his fault I felt everything so strongly. He didn’t even realise. He thought it all wasn’t real.”
“That’s bullshit,” Seokjin says, but his voice is softer now.
Jungkook looks down and shrugs and doesn’t say anything.
“Do you love him?”
Jungkook’s breath catches in his chest and he makes a face to hide it. “That’s a stupid word. You think it’s a stupid word.”
“So you do,” Seokjin says, nodding to himself.
“I guess,” Jungkook says, shrugging jerkily. This is making him so uncomfortable he wants to crawl out of his skin. He much prefers fighting with Seokjin to this. “It’s always been him. Ever since we met.”
Jungkook doesn’t have many people he considers his in the world. He doesn’t remember his parents, or much before Seokjin had picked him up off the streets, dusted him off and set to creating a mini-me. So the people he considers his number only two: Seokjin and Jimin. That’s the way it’s always been for Jungkook.
Seokjin watches him and Jungkook reluctantly looks back.
“Being here is messing with your head,” he declares. “You need to get out of this shit city.”
“You mean… leave?” Jungkook blinks. “But I just got an apartment.” And he’d need to get a new coffee table, thanks to Seokjin and his enormous fucking shoulders.
“You need to clear your mind and that’s not gonna happen here,” Seokjin says. “You asked me to help you get Jimin back into the game. And now you have an apartment, Jungkook. Spoiler alert, you need to come to terms with the fact that you’re more upset about Jimin leaving you than leaving the game. Sort your emotions out, and then sort out Jimin’s. Because at the moment, both him and your stupid delusions are leading you on, and you need to sort it out. I’m not letting you keep following Jimin around like a lost puppy if there’s nothing actually there.”
Jungkook looks down and drops his fist against the ground. It feels good, so he does it a few more times.
“Stop punching the floor,” Seokjin orders. “This is what you’re going to do. You’re going to take that job in Taipei that Joon is running and we’re going to see if a little away time gives you some perspective. Okay?”
Jungkook frowns. He remembers reading through the message Namjoon had sent about the job a few days ago – it’d looked fairly interesting. Lots of potential to try out cool new weapons.
“How do you know about that?”
Seokjin’s eyes go warm and buttery, slow smirk spreading across his face, and Jungkook knows exactly the reason for that gross look.
“Ew, Yoongi? Really? When the hell did you see him? You were deep undercover!”
Seokjin, smirk still in place, shrugs. “I had to make a stopover somewhere. He just happened to be in Singapore at the same time. And undercover wasn’t the only thing I was deep in.”
Jungkook retches loudly.
There was definitely nothing coincidental about that meeting, and they both know it. Seokjin would stalk Yoongi to the ends of the earth.
“So, back to the more important thing here. Text Namjoon and say you’re accepting the job.”
Don’t leave Seoul, Jimin had said. But Seokjin had a good point. And it’d be good to do an actual job where he’d be doing more than just standing there and looking tough. And Namjoon’s jobs always had less rules – well, technically they had more, but Jungkook could get away with not following them.
“Okay,” Jungkook says slowly and Seokjin crows in delight. “But I’m not leaving straightaway.”
“Because we’re going to go beat Jimin up together?” Seokjin says hopefully.
“No. I’ve got a job here to finish first. Looking for… some girl, I can’t remember her name.”
Seokjin’s eyes narrow. “Sounds like an excuse.”
“It’s the best you’re gonna get,” Jungkook says, getting out his phone and sending Namjoon a message. “So you’ll have to be happy. And stay the fuck away from Jimin.”
“Fine.” Seokjin sniffs. “For now. But I get to pick the movie.”
“Since when are we watching a movie?”
Seokjin stands up gracefully, dusting wood splinters off himself. “Since now,” he says, stepping daintily over the ruined table. “And I choose Coyote Ugly.” He drapes himself along the couch and makes grabby hands at Jungkook. Huffing and pretending he’s not happy about it, he stands and nestles himself in next to Seokjin.
As Seokjin navigates to the movie, Jungkook ignores the way the sharp pieces in his chest have been smoothed over. Not completely, but better than that shitty, long night he’d just been through.
Jimin is fidgeting outside a depressing looking apartment building when Jungkook rounds the corner. Jungkook hesitates for a moment, just watching him. He looks precious wrapped up in a puffy jacket and scarf, blonde hair peeking out the top. His legs look long and slim poking out the bottom of the oversized jacket.
Jungkook takes a deep breath and starts forward. Seokjin had given him a pep talk earlier, including an impromptu, gloves-less boxing session to “get the blood flowing”. Whatever the fuck that’s meant to mean, since Jungkook ended up just sitting in a taxi for half an hour on his way here.
Jungkook approaches warily and stops a few feet away, out of reach. Jimin’s hands twist together in front of him. It’s worlds away from the self-assured, powerful Jimin of the other night.
“I got your message,” Jungkook says.
“I assumed that when you got here at the right time,” Jimin says with a weak smile. It falls flat.
“I also sent you the link to the tracker.”
“I got it, thanks. I wanted to apologise.”
Jungkook’s arms cross and he shifts, uncomfortable.
“I thought we were finding that girl? Whatsherface.”
“Hong Chunhwa. We are, but this is more important.”
“Is it?” Jungkook says with a frown. “Why?”
“Why wouldn’t it be important?” Jimin says, eyebrows drawing down.
“For you, I mean. Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to tell me for weeks? That this job and this place and Hoseok are all first? I’m not good at subtle but I pick some things up, okay.”
Jimin looks lost. “I, ah… No, not quite. Look—”
Jungkook huffs and walks past Jimin to the apartment entrance. “Let’s just get this done, okay? I—” He tugs on the door and it doesn’t open. With another loud huff, he begins shrugging off his jacket.
“What are you doing?”
“Well we gotta get in somehow.” He starts wrapping the jacket around his elbow. He’ll probably get a nice bruise from it, which’ll be cool – he’s been lacking in the cool injuries lately.
“What, no! Jesus, you don’t have to break the door, move.” Jimin butts Jungkook out of the way. He presses random numbers on the keypad and calls up to an apartment.
“Eh?” someone answers.
“Hello, seonsaengnim, I have a flower delivery?”
“I didn’t order any.” And hangs up.
“Really effective,” Jungkook says, rolling his eyes. “Great conman skills.”
Jimin glares at him and turns back to the keypad. It takes three more tries and finally, someone lets them in.
Jungkook sulkily puts his jacket back on.
They wait for the elevator, Jungkook darting ahead to press the button first. Jimin groans and for a moment, it feels normal again. But then they get in the elevator and Jungkook remembers everything that’s happened and he feels himself go silent again. Seokjin had told him he needed to talk it out with Jimin, which is such un-Seokjin advice that he knows he talked to someone else about it. And the only person Seokjin listens to is Yoongi. So now Yoongi knows about that whole embarrassing night, which means Jungkook is going to have to threaten him into silence when he sees him for the Taipei job.
Jimin is looking at him out of the corner of his eye and is opening his mouth to say something when the elevator dings open. Jungkook lunges out, calling over his shoulder, “What number?”
“Slow down, oh my god,” Jimin says. “There’s no way I’m letting you go in first.”
The door is number 74, but it’s hard to find because the 4 has gone missing and there’s just a vague outline of it on the door where the paint is less faded. Jimin knocks on the door, three quick taps.
The door opens and the guy standing there looks at them with suspicious eyes. He’s wearing sweatpants and a stretched, faded t-shirt with a beer logo on the front.
“Not interested.” He goes to shut the door but Jimin sticks his foot in the way.
“Hi,” he says, eyes crinkled and kind. “We’re looking for Hong Chunhwa?”
The guy pauses. The suspicious look doesn’t fade.
“Why?” he says.
“Her parents sent me. They’re really worried about her.”
He rolls his eyes, scoffing. “Sure they are. Now that she’s not getting them perfect A’s they can brag about to their shitty friends, now they care.”
“I’d just like to talk to her,” Jimin says softly. “Make sure she’s okay.”
“Of course she’s okay,” the guy says, but when Jimin doesn’t move, he says, “Fine, fuck, come in.”
He leaves the door open for them and disappears into the apartment. Jimin has to jump to catch the door before it closes. The living room isn’t big – space enough for a two-seater couch and TV set, kitchen shoved into the corner. It’s somewhat tidy, which is amazing since Jungkook still has nightmares about that dorm room.
“Babe!” the guy shouts. The only other door in the apartment opens and a girl peeks her head out. Her eyes go round when she sees them. “Your parents sent these guys.”
“Hello, Chunhwa-ssi,” Jimin says, bowing his head. “I’m Park Jimin. Do you mind if we have a talk?”
“How did you find me?” she asks, fingers tight around the side of the door.
“It’s my job.” Jimin smiles and Jungkook can see the girl thawing. Not that he blames her. “Your parents are really worried about you.”
“I don’t want to talk to them.”
“They’ll want to talk to you,” Jimin says gently. “But if I can make sure for myself that you’re okay, we can work something out so they don’t come barging into here and drag you back. Your safety is the most important thing here.”
She studies Jimin for a moment. “Fine. We can talk.”
“Maybe in there? Jungkook-ah can keep your boyfriend company out here.”
Her eyes shift to her boyfriend, who nods his head.
“Okay,” she says. And suddenly Jungkook is left alone with the guy staring at him. Jungkook stares back. The room is silent for a few minutes and the other guy’s face is twitching, obviously uncomfortable.
“So what do you do?” he finally asks in a rush. “If that one does the talking, you just… stand there?”
“Yep,” Jungkook says. This is beginning to feel familiar.
“So that’s a real job? You get paid to stand there?”
“Sure,” Jungkook says, even though he hasn’t been paid in anything except cupcakes. Still counts.
“Huh,” the guy says. “How’d you get into it? Maybe I can do it.”
Jungkook’s eyes fall to the guy’s arms. They’re skinny with no definition at all. Jungkook crosses his arms and gets satisfaction from how the guy stares at his biceps, straining through the jacket.
“Maybe you can,” Jungkook says. “One day.”
“Heh, yeah…” The guy goes back to twitching silently. Jungkook stares back. He once had a job where he had to impersonate an elite soldier in the People’s Liberation Army and it mostly involved just standing and not moving for hours at a time. He’d gotten very good at it.
He can hear the faint murmur of voices from behind the door, but nothing distinct.
The boyfriend finally twitches himself into action, saying, “Hey, how about some tea? Let me get some. I know I have it.”
Jungkook shrugs and the guy takes it as a confirmation, hurrying over to the kitchen. He drops the kettle three times. While the tea leaves are steeping, he stands there and wrings his hands. It’s mildly entertaining, which is good since the rest of the apartment is boring as hell and he just wants to find out what’s going on with Jimin and the girl.
When the door opens five minutes later, the boyfriend is sitting on the couch with the tea clutched in his hands. Jungkook is sipping from his, still standing.
“Just remember what we talked about, okay?” Jimin says.
“I will.” The girl has sparkles in her eyes when she looks at Jimin. She leans forward and hugs him. Not one of those polite ones with the awkward back patting that Jungkook is a master at, but a real one. Tight, squeezing emotion. “Thank you so much.”
Jungkook has no idea how the fuck they got here, but he understands how the girl feels. He’s used to seeing people fall in love with Jimin all the time. Normally, he doesn’t mind. But ever since Jimin left, everything’s been turned on its head. Now, Jungkook feels like one of those million people Jimin makes fall in love with him and then leaves.
They’re both quiet on the way out of the building with none of the weird, angry tension of before. Jungkook just feels… tired. Tired in a way he hasn’t felt before, even when pulling back-to-back all-nighters. A weariness that goes below skin-deep.
“Um… I can give you a lift?”
Jungkook stares at Jimin, at the way he’s biting his lip nervously. When Jungkook stays silent, Jimin adds, “Please?”
Jungkook sighs and nods.
At the very least, he’s a much better driver than Seokjin. When they pull out of the park and into traffic, it’s smooth. No one even beeps them. It’s quiet except for the radio playing some cheery girl group. Jungkook doesn’t mind it.
Jimin’s fingers drum against the steering wheel then tighten.
“Hobi is sick,” he blurts.
“Is he?” Jungkook frowns. “He looked fine the other day. I saw him do a slut drop off that ladder. Should we pick up some herbal tea or whatever?”
“No, he’s… he’s in remission.”
“I don’t know what that means,” Jungkook says slowly. “Am I meant to?”
“He has stomach cancer. Had, rather. Remission means it’s mostly gone. That’s how he lost all of his hair. The radiation treatments.”
Even though they’re stopped at the lights, Jimin looks straight ahead.
“What? Last time he said he used the wrong shampoo and it got burnt off.”
Jimin lets out a breath with an edge of a laugh. The light turns green. He sinks down a little more in his seat as the car eases forward.
“Yeah, he does that. He told one of the delivery boys it’s what happens when you eat too much vitamin A and it scared the shit out of him.”
“So…” Jungkook says, frowning and trying to work out what Jimin’s saying. He doesn’t want to get this wrong. This moment feels delicate. Fragile. “You came back to help him through it?”
“Yes. But also no. He didn’t even tell me until he was mostly done with the treatment, the asshole. But… I’ve wanted to get out for ages.”
It’s really not what Jungkook wants to hear. He turns and faces the road and tries not to frown too much.
“Well why’d you wait so long to get out? If you hated it that much.”
Seokjin had told him that Jimin leaving the job doesn’t equal him leaving Jungkook, but it’s pretty fucking obviously that. Fucking Seokjin and his useless fucking pep talks.
“You really can’t think of one reason I’d stay? After I stopped enjoying the work?”
“The money? The hotels with buffet breakfasts and free fancy shampoo and shit?” Jungkook throws out. “Why are you making me guess, what the fuck?”
“Jungkook, hotels everywhere do buffet breakfast, not just the fanciest ones.”
“Okay, that’s nice, are you really going to make me keep fucking guessing—”
“—because I’m sick of— wait, what? Me what.”
“You, you idiot.” Jimin makes a frustrated sound and runs a hand through his hair, not gently. It’s left sticking up everywhere. It looks adorable. “I stayed for you.”
“What?” Jungkook repeats, blinking. “Why?”
“Did you not ever find it weird that we were mostly on the same jobs? Every time?”
“Not really. I liked working with Namjoonie and you always work with him because of your weird, shared moral code thing. But what do you mean me? You haven’t explained that.”
“What is there to explain? I stayed for you!”
“Yeah, but then you left,” Jungkook snaps. “So you can’t really say that because it doesn’t make sense. And you can’t say that when you just… used me, or whatever, the other night. You know what, you can just let me out.”
“We’re on the expressway, I can’t just— Jungkook!”
Jungkook has the door opened. He can feel the force of the wind beating against it. He undoes his seatbelt and suddenly Jimin’s hand is snaking over, pinching his ear and dragging him back towards him.
“Ouch, get off, ow!”
“Close the fucking door right now,” Jimin says viciously, loud over the wind. His tiny fingers are twisting his ear so hard Jungkook’s head is on his shoulder.
“I can barely reach—”
Jungkook strains to reach and tugs the door shut. The car is suddenly silent without the sound of the wind.
“And put your seatbelt back on,” Jimin says.
“Maybe if you— ow, okay fine, fuck.”
When the seatbelt clicks in, Jimin releases his ear. Jungkook mumbles angrily to himself, rubbing it to ease the stinging.
“You are not jumping out of a moving car on my watch, Jungkook, so don’t try it.”
“You weren’t even going that fast,” he says sulkily.
“I was going a hundred kilometres an hour!”
“I’ve jumped out of faster.”
“You— That’s not— No, we’re not doing this. We’re just going to sit in silence.”
“But what about—”
“Silence, Jungkook, I can’t fucking look at you right now.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes, but he’s not particularly worried. This Jimin is more familiar to him than the you’re the reason I stayed Jimin of earlier. And Jungkook doesn’t want to think about that, so he turns up the radio. Another girl group is playing, this one singing something about… fruit, maybe? They’re high-pitched and giggly and Jungkook is into it.
They only get through two songs in silence before they’re pulling up across the road to the flower shop. That angry old lady is sweeping out her store and she gives them a hard look. It transforms into a bright smile when Jimin leans into view and waves at her. She waves back. Jungkook shifts further away from the window.
“So,” he says. “Is the silent rule finished?”
Jimin sighs. His hands fall from the wheel as his head thumps back against the headrest.
“I think, before anything else… I’m sorry for the other night, Kook. I crossed a line. I should’ve made the plan clear to you beforehand and not just thrown you in the deep. I knew you’d react like that and you were right, I did do it on purpose.” Jimin turns and faces him, and his eyes are hard and determined. “It was fake. I used you and that wasn’t right.”
“It felt like shit,” Jungkook says. “Seokjin wanted to tear your head off, you know.”
Jimin’s eyes widen. “You told Seokjin?”
“Was I not meant to?” His tone is pissy and Jimin immediatly backtracks.
“No, sorry, you were right to, I just… I think I’m more scared of him than anyone else in the world.”
“Good,” Jungkook says, folding his arms. “As you should be. It’s fine, I talked him out of it. Kind of. Just maybe don’t accept anything from him. Or touch anything he gives you. He’s been trying out a lot of contact poisons recently that get absorbed through the skin. He told me to tell you that. The contact poisons bit, not the ‘don’t accept gifts from him’ bit.”
“He terrifies me,” Jimin says weakly.
“Don’t worry about it. That whole night doesn’t matter. And I told him it didn’t matter because it doesn’t, right?” Jungkook shifts uncomfortably. “It wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s fine. I’ll stick to your rules.”
“No, it was a big deal, don’t say that—”
Someone knocks on the window and Jungkook startles so badly his knee slams into the glovebox.
It’s the old woman with that fucking broom, same floral puffer jacket on.
“Eh!” she says, knocking on the glass again. “Park Jimin-ah!”
Jimin rolls down the window and leans across Jungkook, giving her a smile. It’s strained.
“Hello, halmeoni. How are you today?”
Jungkook frowns. This woman almost bit his head off when he called her halmeoni, but her smile just widens at Jimin.
“I made you and the other boy some japchae, my family recipe. I’ll bring it over to you later, hmm?”
“That sounds lovely, thank you, halmeoni.” Jimin bows his head, every inch the proper Korean boy. Jungkook wants to roll his eyes but won’t, because he’s felt that broom before and he doesn’t feel like getting jabbed at again.
“No, no, thank you for always trying it. Tell the other boy I send my love.”
The woman retreats back to her store, giving Jungkook suspicious looks the whole time. Jimin puts the window up. Sighs.
“C’mon,” he says. “I can’t talk seriously with her staring at us.”
Jungkook follows him into the shop. Hoseok greets them cheerfully. There’s heavy bass pounding through the speakers once again and a deep voice rapping in… Russian? Maybe?
It’s actually not bad. If Jungkook gets through this alive, he might even ask Hoseok for the song name.
Jimin leads him through the store and to the office out back. When the door closes, most of the music is cut too. Jimin turns to him and the air feels heavy, weighted.
“I need you to know this,” Jimin says, fists clenched. He looks like he’s gearing up for a fight. “Even if you’re leaving today, or tomorrow, or next week. I can’t keep… carrying this shit around with me. What happened that other night was fake, but what I feel for you – that’s real.”
Jungkook frowns. “What do you mean?”
“It’s always been real for me, Kook. All these years. You were the best part of the job and when I no longer loved the job, you were the only good part. I love you, Jungkook. I have for the longest fucking time.”
Jungkook stares. Love is still a gross word, but it sounds a whole lot less gross coming out of Jimin’s mouth.
“But you left,” Jungkook says. He’s surprised to find his voice is rough. “You can’t love me if you just left. For good. And you haven’t even let me touch you! You told me to get away from you!”
Jimin’s arms wrap around his middle like he’s shielding himself. “I’m doing what’s right for me, Jungkook.”
Hurt splinters through his chest. “What the hell does that mean?”
“This is what I want to do. And I can’t keep waiting around, waiting for you to love me when all we have together is sex. And the sex is fine, it’s good, but I can’t keep doing it to myself. It’s not fair to you, either.”
Jungkook’s eyes are wide. “What?”
“I know it was just a no strings attached thing. And I won’t let this affect our friendship. But… I needed to tell you. I’m sorry. It’s just a lot, in my head, and you deserve to know why I acted the way I did.”
“What do you mean, a ‘no strings attached thing’? I never said that.”
Jimin’s eyebrows flicker down. “What? When we first started. I said that and you agreed with me.”
“I don’t think that ever happened.”
“It definitely did – Jungkook, are you serious, did you really not listen? Again?”
Jungkook shrugs. “I listened to your ground rules, okay. You’re the one that broken them with the fake kiss thing.”
“I don’t— what the fuck are we even arguing about? Jungkook. Can you please just tell me something about what I just said.”
“I did,” Jungkook mutters.
“Something serious, fuck. Make a joke and I’ll twist your ear so hard this time it’ll rip off.”
Jungkook’s hand flies to his ear on instinct. It’s hot to the touch.
“That’s not fair,” he whines. “It was a legitimate question. What do you even want to know?”
“Jungkook I just told you I love you and you have nothing to say? I’ll even take a ‘thank you’ at this point.”
“I don’t like the L word; it makes me uncomfortable.”
“I don’t get what you’re saying! Why are you sorry? What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Because I caught feelings and you don’t feel the same way. And I couldn’t handle it so I didn’t even tell you where I was.”
“There, that. That’s what I don’t get. What do you mean I don’t feel the same way?”
Jimin stares at him. “What.”
Jungkook gives an awkward shrug. “I hate that word, but Seokjin said that’s what I feel for you, so.”
“Jungkook.” Jimin’s speaking gently, like he’s trying to let Jungkook down easily, and he hates it. “It’s fine, okay? I get it. I’ve had time to get accustomed to the idea.”
“No, you don’t get it. You’re acting like a martyr. I’m not going to use that stupid L word, it’s lame and makes me cringe and I don’t even get what it means.”
“You don’t have to use the word if you don’t want to!”
“Good, because I won’t.”
“Will you please at least say something? Anything? Fuck, Kook.”
Jungkook frowns and fidgets, and eventually settles for pacing the small office back and forth. His thoughts are a mess. He hates talking about “emotions” and other stupid things. Especially when he’s not prepared. Seokjin went through a phase of making him do monthly “feeling times”, but stopped when Jungkook would deliberately take jobs on the other side of the world to miss them.
Jimin has always been so eloquent. He uses words like Jungkook uses weapons.
“I don’t think I believe you,” Jungkook says, striding across the room. He hits the wall and spins around. “You don’t even really want me here? You’ve made that obvious from the beginning. But obviously I’m here anyway and staying and don’t care about that.”
“I thought someone had taken out on a contract on me when you first appeared. Excuse me for not being excited.”
“Now that’s offensive,” Jungkook says, stopping for a moment to stab a finger at Jimin. “If I wanted to kill you, you wouldn’t have seen me.” He continues pacing.
“It’s more plausible than you just showing up out of nowhere!”
“Why? It’s plausible to me. Why wouldn’t I have shown up?”
“Because all we do is fuck!”
Jungkook looks bewildered. “What else are we meant to do?”
Jimin slumps down in the chair.
“Jungkook… maybe you should just go? The job’s done. And we’re not fucking, so.”
And now he’s even more confused. He stops pacing. “What? Go? Why? I thought we were talking about feelings or whatever.”
“I was talking about feelings. You were talking about… I don’t even know.”
“Feelings. I was talking about feelings,” Jungkook says, because it’s the truth. He had been. He’d been trying really fucking hard too, but now Jimin looks tired and defeated and it makes Jungkook’s chest hurt.
“Okay,” Jimin says softly. “Okay, Jungkook. But could you please just… go? I’m sorry for the other night. And for putting all of this on you. It doesn’t change anything.”
Jungkook frowns. “Okay,” he replies, slowly, because what else is he meant to say? He doesn’t want to force anything on Jimin. And people might say Jungkook is stubborn, but Jimin is just as bad. He wouldn’t be able to get through to Jimin even if he had his thoughts in order, which he definitely does not.
Jimin looks so relieved. It makes his heart hurt a little. He clears his throat and continues, “Let me know what happens with whatsherface, I guess.”
“Yeah sure, her. Okay. Bye?”
Jimin waves an awkward hand at him and Jungkook ducks out of the room. He stops outside the office, just breathing.
“Hello, Kook-ah!” Hoseok appears out of nowhere, scaring Jungkook so bad he has a knife at Hoseok’s throat before he can think. Hoseok’s mouth forms into an ‘o’ shape, eyes wide and staring down at the knife.
“Oh. Oops,” Jungkook says. “Sorry. Habit.” He puts the knife away.
“I think you should find some more wholesome habits,” Hoseok says. “Like flowers! Here, would you like a bunch?”
Jungkook doesn’t get time to reply when Hoseok is shoving a bunch in his arms. It’s full of yellows and pinks and whites and greens, and he guesses it does look nice?
“Go off and spread cheer through the world!” Hoseok says, throwing his hands out dramatically.
Jungkook is still for a moment, blinking. Hoseok has another hat on his head, this one in the shape of a frog, but you can tell his hair is just starting to grow back. Cancer. And Jimin moved back to help him with it. And get away from Jungkook.
“Uh, sure. Thanks,” Jungkook says, because the pause is growing longer and Hoseok is looking at him strangely. He glances once back at the office door, then leaves the shop.
Jungkook is sure talking about feelings is meant to make someone feel better, not worse. Getting it off your chest and all that. But Jimin had looked shattered and Jungkook doesn’t even know why the fuck for? So his only option now is to phone a friend. His only friend who has a functioning relationship and also his only friend.
Jungkook puts the keycard into the door. It beeps green and he slams it open.
“Seokjiiiiiiin,” he whines. “I need help!”
He hears multiple loud thumps and curses. He comes out of the small entryway and into the rest of the hotel room. Yoongi is on the floor, butt bare and blinding white as he scrambles towards the bed. Seokjin is lounging on the couch, naked except for a pink silk robe which isn’t even tied.
“Ew, gross!” Jungkook cries, shielding his eyes. “Give a guy some warning!”
“Hello, Kookie,” Seokjin sing-songs. “Are those for me?”
He’d forgotten about the flower bunch Hoseok had given him. He thrusts it out in front of him. Seokjin takes it, but Jungkook still doesn’t open his eyes.
“What the fuck!” Yoongi spits. “What are you doing here? Fuck!”
“Are you all still naked?”
“Stop acting like you haven’t seen a dick before, Kookie,” Seokjin says. “I’ve walked in on you and Jimin doing worse, remember.”
“How did you get in here?! What the fuck!”
“I just stole the cleaner’s keycard,” Jungkook says. “Chill. Can I open my eyes now?”
“How did you even know we were here!” Jungkook doesn’t think he’s ever heard Yoongi whine so much. “You told him, didn’t you?”
He gets tired of waiting and peeks open eye. Yoongi is sitting on the bed, wrapped up in the duvet so he looks like a giant dumpling. Seokjin has kindly tied his robe together, but he’s still reclined on the couch like he’s about to be feed grapes in a Greek play. He’s admiring the flowers. Jungkook takes his hands off his eyes.
“I didn’t tell him,” Seokjin says mildly. “Why would I do that? That would be weird.”
“We have each other on Find My Friends,” Jungkook says.
Yoongi stares at them, face flat. “Is that meant to be less weird?”
“It’s more reliable than a tracking device, to be honest,” Jungkook says with a shrug. “What’s weird?”
“You don’t find any of this weird. At all?”
“Look, he brought us flowers, Yoongles,” Seokjin coos. “Isn’t that lovely?”
“What’s lovely is getting off without being interrupted.”
“I agree,” Jungkook says. “I also wish I hadn’t seen your tiny ass. So small.”
Yoongi looks indignant.
“It’s a beautiful ass,” Seokjin says. “Don’t listen to him. It’s perfect just the way it is. Small and cute and cup-able.”
“Why the fuck are you here?” Yoongi’s glare is vicious, but he looks so cute wrapped up like that. Jungkook can’t take him very seriously. “And when can you leave.”
Jungkook suddenly remembers the whole conversation and sighs. He flops down onto the floor, scrunches his face at the ceiling and whines, “I need help.”
“Seokjin, get him out.”
“Oh no, what happened?” Seokjin pads over and peers down at him. Jungkook flinches away so he can’t see up his robe.
“Jimin told me to leave,” he mumbles. He hears Yoongi sigh and flop down onto the bed in a rustle of sheets.
Seokjin gasps, sitting down gracefully next to him. He pats his lap and Jungkook wriggles closer so his head is resting on Seokjin’s knee. Seokjin’s fingers card through his hair and Jungkook feels the tension sliding out of his shoulders.
“Tell me what happened, Kookie,” Seokjin says, voice deep and soothing.
“I told him about the poison thing.”
“Good. What about the building thing?”
“I told you I wasn’t going to say that,” Jungkook whines. “And you can’t pressure the building to kick them out! That’s Hoseok’s shop!”
“I thought you didn’t like Hoseok.”
“I don’t.” Jungkook pauses. “But Jimin just told me he has cancer. So we have to be nice.”
Seokjin snorts. “Yeah, I could’ve told you that. You’re not very observant, are you.” It’s said as a coo, Seokjin poking at the tip of Jungkook’s nose. Jungkook scrunches his nose up and swats him away.
“Can we get to the point here?” comes Yoongi’s grumpy voice, muffled.
“You can leave,” Jungkook says, loudly. Seokjin slaps him lightly on the forehead.
“Don’t be rude. And you do need to get to the point. I have arrangements to make.”
“I told you you’re not allowed to hurt him!”
“Good thing I don’t listen to you, hmm? You are my sweet baby Kookie and it’s my responsibility to make sure no one ruffles your sweet baby feathers. I will fuck him up.”
“Get to the point,” Yoongi grits out. “This is horrible to listen to.”
“No, I’m not telling him if he’s just going to do his overprotective crazy routine!” Jungkook says. He tries to sit up, but Seokjin places a hand on his forehead and forces him back down.
“Fucking hell, fine,” Yoongi says. “I’ll make sure he doesn’t do anything.”
Seokjin sniffs. “Excuse me, you can’t make me do anything—”
“I can, Seokjin. And I will.”
From Jungkook’s view, he watches in fascination as Seokjin opens his mouth, forms a word, then snaps it shut.
“Fine,” Seokjin says. He sounds petulant. “Fine. Just tell me what happened.”
Jungkook sighs. “A lot happened.”
Yoongi sighs even louder.
“Start at the beginning?”
“Well, we had a job. Finding some girl, I don’t know. Chunhwa. And then he apologised.”
“As he fucking should,” Seokjin whispers viciously.
“Well, he kind of apologised. And then I had tea with this random dude?”
“Is that a euphemism?” Yoongi drawls.
“And then he gave me a lift home and he said Hoseok is sick and that’s why he came back but also that it was just an excuse to get away because he hates doing all those jobs and wants to help people or something.”
Seokjin snorts. “Boring.”
“I know,” Jungkook says, but with a lot less conviction than he has previously. “Anyway, then I tried to jump out of the car but he didn’t let me.”
“Oh man, remember when you did that in Chennai?” Yoongi says, giggling. “Sunmi lost her shit at you.”
“You what,” Seokjin says flatly.
“Anyway,” Jungkook hurries to say, “then he said he stayed for me, whatever the fuck that means. And then there was an old lady for a bit – a real bitch – and then he said he loves me and apparently I agreed to no feelings although I don’t remember that, and I don’t really believe him anyway? Because if he loves me why would he set those stupid ground rules? And then we talked about feelings and I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t love me and I was right because he kicked me out? And then Hoseok gave me flowers and I came here and gave them to you.”
The room is silent.
“Can you explain the old lady a bit more?” Yoongi asks.
“Oh, she’s my enemy, she poked me with her broom on the first day—”
“He said he loves you?” Seokjin cuts in, voice gleeful. “I knew it! Didn’t I say I knew it, Yoongles! I knew it! I did! I called it ages ago! No one can resist my Kookie, not when I raised him and taught him everything he knows!”
“Well, I don’t think everything—”
“You’re not helping,” Jungkook says. “You’re meant to be helping!”
“Ground rules?” Yoongi asks.
“No fucking, no kissing, no attacking random people, some others I think – I don’t know, I’ve forgotten. The first two are the most important ones. Even though he kissed me! It doesn’t make sense. If he loves me, shouldn’t he want to kiss me all the time?”
“I think,” Yoongi says, voice wary, “that you don’t really understand how love works.”
“What? I know.” But Jungkook’s voice is defensive and not very certain.
The bed rustles again and then Yoongi is stepping into view, still wrapped up in the duvet. It trails along the ground behind him. His feet poke out the bottom and they’re knobby and funny looking.
“You’re like a smaller, worse version of Seokjin,” Yoongi says.
“And worse looking,” Seokjin adds.
“So if I know Seokjin and how he is, and just imagine it worse, somehow, then I can understand Jimin’s point.”
Jungkook pouts. “You’re so mean sometimes.”
“Good.” Yoongi sinks down to the floor and sits cross-legged, duvet billowing around him and pointy knees poking out. “Let’s sort this shit out so I can go back to getting off.”
“Ew,” Jungkook says, nose scrunched, but not very loudly because Yoongi is good at advice when he bothers to give it and Jungkook trusts him more than Seokjin.
“So let’s unpack this from the beginning.” Yoongi leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees. “You and Jimin have been fucking for how long?”
“Six years,” Jungkook says without pausing to think. “In March.”
“Six years. And you apparently agreed to no feelings?”
“I didn’t agree to that—”
“But Jimin thinks so and since he actually listens, it probably happened. I’ve seen you two together enough times to know you’re fucking obsessed with each other. So from his perspective – he catches feelings and thinks you don’t. Then you show up here out of nowhere, wanting to continue your little ‘fucking with no feelings’ arrangement, so he has to push you away. Are you following?”
“I have feelings,” Jungkook says, voice uncharacteristically small.
“Sure, but he doesn’t know that.” Yoongi’s voice is ruthless.
“He should! I told him!”
“How did you tell him, Jungkook?”
Jungkook thinks back. “I said it was probably the L word because that’s what Seokjin said it was.”
There’s a long pause. Then Seokjin snickers. Yoongi sighs.
“You’re a fucking idiot,” Yoongi says. “I can’t.”
“No!” Jungkook jerks upright, out of Seokjin’s lap, and latches on to Yoongi’s bony forearm. “You have to help me!”
“Get off,” Yoongi says, shaking his arm until Jungkook lets go. “Fine. Obviously what you have to do is actually show him you love him for once. He probably doesn’t believe you do.”
“But I do,” Jungkook says.
“Then show him. And get the fuck out of my room.”
“But how do I show him that?”
“I don’t know,” Yoongi says irritably. “I also don’t care. Get out.”
“If you don’t get out of here in five seconds, I’ll send your porn history to Jimin.”
Jungkook sniffs, but gets up anyway, mumbling, “He’d probably be into it.”
“So long, darling,” Seokjin calls. “Message me if anything happens, hmm?”
“Sure,” Jungkook says, but his head is already occupied with plans.
It takes Jungkook a while, but he does come up with a plan. Kind of. And it’s a good one, or at least he thinks so. But there he is, signing the lease, when he gets a phone call. He frowns at his mobile – he never gets phone calls. He doesn’t recognise the number, but he doesn’t really expect to.
“Hello?” he answers cautiously.
“Hey, Kook.” It’s Namjoon. “I need you in Taipei ASAP. I’ve got you on the next flight out from Incheon. You’ve got four hours until it departs.”
“The job, Kook. The timetable’s been moved up. We can’t wait until next week anymore.”
“Are you bailing on me?” Namjoon asks. “Because if you are, I need to know now. I can probably get Chan or Changbin on—”
Jungkook snorts and says without thinking too much about it, “Yeah, if you wanna fuck up the whole job. I said I was in, didn’t I?”
“Good.” Namjoon’s voice sounds relieved. “Four hours, Kook. Contact me in the usual way, I’m killing this number.”
Then he hangs up. When Jungkook checks his email, he has a flight itinerary and hotel confirmation. He recognises the name as part of a fancy chain. They probably have buffet breakfast. Maybe even one of those ones that has different sections for each cuisine. Jungkook loves to have at least three courses at a breakfast buffet.
He looks up from his phone at the real estate agent. “Can you just… sort this? I gotta go.”
The woman smiles, because of course she does – he’s paying her a lot of money. “Of course. I’ll email you a copy of the lease and the rest of the details, Jeon Jungkook-ssi.”
“Thanks,” Jungkook mutters, distracted, eyes on his phone as he leaves. This delays his plan, but he thinks it’ll be okay. He’d always been planning on ducking out for this job, but he’d thought he’d at least have a few days. No matter.
Jungkook uses his handy tracker to see Jimin is still in his apartment. When he shows up twenty minutes later, he’s halfway through picking the lock when the door swings open.
Jimin is standing there, looking down with an unimpressed frown.
“Uh wash—” Jungkook spits out the pick he’d been holding in his mouth. “Ugh, sorry. I was almost there. Rude.”
He gathers his tools and puts them back in the sleek black case, shoving it into his jacket pocket as he stands.
“I stopped you from breaking into my apartment again, and I’m rude?”
“You haven’t even invited me in or offered tea,” Jungkook says with a pout. “That’s rude.”
Jimin stares at him, then rolls his eyes. “Fine. Come in, whatever.”
Jungkook smiles and follows Jimin inside, a bounce in his step. He looks around with interest – he hadn’t gotten much of a look the first time, between it being dark and Jimin throwing him out. It’s quite small, but it feels cosy rather than cramped. There’s some expensive looking art on the wall – one looks very familiar, as if it’d been part of a job – and it’s a direct contrast to the worn in couch, buried under pillows and throws. There’s no TV, which is highly disturbing to Jungkook. Instead, there’s an enormous bookcase packed with books and some photo frames. Hoseok’s in a lot of them. Jungkook is in none.
Jungkook startles and turns to face Jimin. He’s standing there with his arms crossed, one eyebrow raised. Guarded.
“You don’t look like you love me at all,” Jungkook blurts.
Jimin groans and his arms uncross, falling to his sides. “Just forget I said that, okay?” His face is pained. “It never happened.”
“Wait.” Jungkook frowns. “Does that mean you don’t love me?” Because that’d really fuck up a lot of the plans he’d made. And also feel really shit.
“I think I preferred it when you couldn’t say that word.”
“What, love?” Jungkook shakes his head. “No, don’t distract me. That wasn’t an answer!”
“What does it matter?” Jimin says, throwing up his hands. “Just forget it ever happened! Why are you even here? I haven’t heard back from Hong Chunhwa’s family yet.”
Jungkook wants to sink into the floor and disappear. He wants to open the window and scale back down the side of the building even though it’s daylight and he’s trying not to get the cops called on him. He wants to pull Jimin close and hug him, and play with his tiny fingers like he used to be able to. He wants Jimin to look at him like he used to, instead of this tense, guarded stare.
But he’d come here with a plan and he’s going to fucking continue, with Jimin’s permission or not. So he keeps Yoongi’s words at the forefront of his mind and grits his teeth.
“I’ve got a job and have to be at the airport soon, but I wanted to let you know that I’m coming back. And I need you to water my plant.”
Jimin’s jaw clenches. “You’re leaving?”
“Yeah, but just for one job. I’ll be back soon,” Jungkook says warily.
Jimin looks down, breaking eye contact. His fingers twitch at his sides. “Okay. Is that all?”
Jungkook blinks. “What do you mean ‘is that all’? You’re not going to say anything?”
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Jimin says. He moves all of a sudden, brushing past Jungkook and heading to the kitchen. “Tea?”
“I don’t want tea,” Jungkook says. “I want you to, I don’t know… react!”
“Well, I’m making myself tea,” Jimin says, slamming a mug down on the bench. “What do you want me to say? I’m sad you’re leaving? I always knew you being here was temporary.”
Jungkook frowns. “I said I was coming back, though.”
“To what?” Jimin’s back is still to him as he rummages through a cupboard for tea leaves. “To finding runaway girls? To getting paid in cupcakes and homemade meals?”
“To you,” Jungkook says. “So we can… I don’t know, work this out? Get back to how we were?”
“There’s nothing to work out.” Jimin slams the cupboard closed. The kettle is starting to get louder. “I’m staying here. I’m not going back.”
Jungkook frowns. “I know.”
“Well then, what the fuck do you want from me?” Jimin spins around, running a hand through his hair. “What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to believe me,” Jungkook says. “I’m coming back.”
Jimin’s mouth presses together in a tight line, like he’s physically holding his emotions back.
“I can’t,” he says, voice weak. “I just don’t believe you. Why would I? Why would you come back? You love the job.”
“Yeah,” Jungkook says, shrugging one shoulder. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t come back here. And it’s you, Jimin. I’ll be coming back to you. So the rest doesn’t matter.”
The kettle stops boiling and clicks off. The apartment is suddenly dead silent.
In a small voice, eyes shining, Jimin says, “I don’t know if I can believe you.”
Jungkook breathes in. Breathes out. The space between them seems enormous, even if Jimin is only a few steps away. There’s so much between them now, when before it’d been simple and easy.
He wishes he’d turned Namjoon down. But if he’d done that, there would’ve been another job later on, and they’d be back here in this same position.
“Okay,” he says, the words forced out because he has to say something, right? “Okay. Well. I guess I’ll have to just prove it to you?” He chuckles weakly. “Anyway, I need you to water my plant because you’re the only one here I know. Other than Hoseok, but I don’t have time to go to the store too. So… here’re the keys to my apartment. I’ll text you the address.”
He places the keys on the bookshelf.
“Apartment?” Jimin echoes. “What do you mean?”
“My apartment. Where I’ve been staying?”
“You’ve been staying in a hotel!”
Jungkook frowns. “No I haven’t. Not for a while, at least. I’ve been staying in my apartment. I told you this!”
“You haven’t said anything about an apartment!”
“Oh.” Jungkook thinks for a moment. “Maybe I didn’t. Well, I have an apartment and a plant and it needs to be watered.”
“As in you’re now renting an apartment?”
“No, I bought it. I have that piece of paper saying I own it.”
“Like the deed?”
“Yeah, that thing. Whatever. I own it and I also own a plant, so could you please water it?”
Jimin is silent for so long Jungkook begins to shift from foot to foot. Jimin’s face is unreadable. It makes Jungkook anxious.
Eventually, Jimin holds out his hand. Jungkook stares at it in confusion.
“The keys,” Jimin huffs.
“Oh.” Jungkook snatches them off the bookshelf and places them in Jimin’s hand, moving back warily. He’s not sure where this leaves them. “Okay. It needs about half a cup and only once a week, so you won’t need to do it too often, but when I was reading this forum it said they’re really temperamental and that, like, they pick up the vibes of the place? So hopefully it won’t miss me. But if you’re over there, I think you should spend some time talking—”
“Kook,” Jimin cuts in. Jungkook stumbles to a stop. The changes are subtle, but Jimin looks warmer now. Less closed off. Still that edge of sadness, though, in the tilt of his head and the furrowing of his eyebrows. “I take care of plants all day. It’s fine.”
“Oh, ah… okay,” Jungkook says. He shifts on his feet again. “Cool. Yeah. So, I’ll just…”
He jerks a thumb at the door and starts backing away.
“Fuck, Kook,” Jimin says, face twisting. Between one breath and the next, Jimin is in front of him, hands on his face. He pops up on his toes then leans forward, his lips brushing against Jungkook’s. Jimin’s shaky exhale hits his lips and then he’s kissing him properly, deeply, hands cradling his face like he’s something precious. Jungkook is shocked into stillness at first, then his hands come up to rest on Jimin’s hips.
Jimin pulls away – not far, just enough to lean their foreheads together and breathe the same air. His fingers tap along the side of Jungkook’s jaw, twitchy and nervous.
“Goodbye, Kook.” Jimin’s voice is a whisper.
“I’m coming back,” Jungkook says, because it sounds like a final goodbye and it’s not. He’s coming back. He has a plan, damnit.
But Jimin’s eyes are still sad when he pulls away.
“Say hi to Joon for me.”
Jungkook looks at Jimin helplessly. He’s bad at words at the best of times and right now is not the best of any time. There’s an avalanche of feelings inside him, pushing against his throat and mind but his mouth can’t form the words.
So as he backs away to the door, all he can say is, “I’ll be back,” and make it as firm as possible. “I promise.”
Jimin doesn’t reply. Jungkook leaves.
Jungkook shifts lower in his chair, holding his phone up as discreetly as possible and snapping a photo. He smirks down at the image and shoots it off to Jimin.
LOL look at this nerd
“Jungkook?” Namjoon’s voice whips out and Jungkook flinches, fumbling his phone. Someone laughs. “Something to share with the class?”
“What? No. Nope. What?” He slides his phone into his pocket.
“He definitely just took a photo of you,” Felix says from next to him, spinning around on his chair.
Jungkook sticks a foot out, hooks it underneath his chair and upends it. Felix goes sprawling, laughing.
“Jungkook. Can you please listen?” Namjoon’s got an exasperated look on his face, hands on his hips.
“I was listening,” Jungkook says. “I didn’t take a photo.”
“He definitely did,” Sunmi drawls, head resting on her palm, fingers drumming against the side of her head.
“We can just steal his phone and prove it,” Felix says, jumping back onto his chair with enough force for it to roll to the other side of the room, away from Jungkook.
“I did not—”
“I don’t care about the photo,” Namjoon says firmly. “Pay attention to the plan. All of you.” His eyes stare down Jungkook.
Jungkook meekly nods and does his best to make his face look like he’s listening intently. His phone stays silent in his pocket – no reply from Jimin.
Jungkook is standing behind Namjoon’s shoulder, doing his best at looking as threatening as possible. It mostly consists of wearing a suit tight enough to feel like he can’t move his arms that well and just making a lot of flat eye contact. The less he blinks, the better. It’s not the worst thing he’s ever done, but it’s pretty fucking boring.
They’re in a penthouse with floor-to-ceiling windows showing Taipei sprawled out around them, all pretty twinkling lights. Taipei looks better at night than during the day – the haziness has cleared out and all the buildings are lit up in bright colours.
The apartment itself is stuffed to the brim with useless, gaudy shit. There’s an enormous white sculpture of some Greek dude in the corner. All of the walls have gold detailing. Everything is so shiny too, enough to be impractical. It’s so shiny that Jungkook could feel his dress shoes slipping on the floor when he stepped out of the elevator.
It’s all ugly as anything, but it suits the man in front of them. He’s currently sitting cross-legged on a chair that looks more like a throne, dressed in black silk pyjamas. His hair is styled back from his face in a way that you can tell no amount of wind is going to move it. His lips are thin and nose long enough to look down on anyone, despite being a good head shorter than Jungkook when they were introduced. He’s someone Jungkook could imagine Seokjin getting on with, but not in a good way.
“…can’t stress this enough, Liu xiansheng,” Namjoon is saying, voice deep and persuasive in that way he has, “you are in danger and the threats against you are very real.”
“Because of some rumour you’ve heard?” The man snorts. “I’m always getting threats. It comes with the territory.”
“Not like this.” Namjoon opens up a sleek briefcase and pulls out a file, opening it up. “The person threatening you goes by the name Ace—”
“Another day, another threat.” Liu rolls his eyes. “I allowed this meeting to happen because you come highly recommended, Mr Hyun. But now you’re just spreading paranoia.”
Namjoon closes the file. Jungkook can’t see his expression, but his shoulders stiffen up. “My sources mentioned a Jack Moore.”
Liu’s eyebrows slam down. “A who? No, I have no idea what you’re talking about. And I think it’s time for this meeting to come to an end.”
“Liu xiansheng, you don’t want to—”
Jungkook’s phone vibrates in his pocket, two quick pulses. A message. Jimin? His fingers itch towards his pocket, but Namjoon would chop his head off if he took it out. Even so, he can barely concentrate on the scene happening in front of him. He tunes out the words and tries to focus on just the physical threats. Not that they’re expecting anything, but you never know.
The old dude is pretty angry. Everytime Namjoon says something in his normal calm and measured way, he gets cut off. Unable to help himself, Jungkook shifts on his feet. Liu’s several bodyguards all switch their gazes to him in a flash. Jungkook suppresses a sigh. He just wants to check his fucking phone.
Finally, finally, Namjoon stands. “Then I’ve done all I can. You have my number if anything happens.” He offers a short bow, which Liu scoffs at. Then Namjoon is striding out of the room, Jungkook trailing dutifully one step behind. Multiple sets of eyes stay on them until they reach the elevator.
And, to be fair, there’d still be at least two sets of eyes still watching them in the elevator as it flies down fifty floors, but Jungkook doesn’t care at this point. He whips out his phone, the screen lighting up and showing the message from—
Not Jimin. It’s some kind of promo message from his phone network and Jungkook’s written Chinese isn’t good enough to work out exactly what it says. It doesn’t matter, anyway. It’s not what he was hoping for.
He deflates, dropping the phone back into his pocket. He catches Namjoon’s eyes on him. He’s frowning at him.
“Important message?” Namjoon asks, one eyebrow arched and annoyance in his voice.
Jungkook shrugs. The doors slide open and they walk through the lobby. As soon as they’re outside, Namjoon calls for a car to pick them up. Almost without conscious thought, Jungkook’s phone appears back in his hand, his messages to Jimin on the screen. He frowns, scrolling through them. Jungkook’s messages and photos fill up the screen. There’s no reply from Jimin.
Suddenly, his phone is plucked from his hand.
“Hey!” He lunges towards Namjoon, hands outstretched for the phone. Namjoon spins, nudging him out of the way so he stumbles past him and almost into a parked car. Jungkook gets his feet back under him and turns around, scowling. “Give it back.”
Namjoon is scrolling through his phone, tiny frown etched between his eyebrows.
“Hmm,” he says. Jungkook is almost vibrating out of his skin. Namjoon locks the phone but doesn’t hand it back. “You’re distracted. This is distracting you. And you know what happens when someone is distracted?”
“I just want my phone back,” Jungkook mutters. “Not a lecture.”
“People die, JK. When you’re on the job, I expect you to be one hundred percent on the job. Haven’t I made that clear?”
Jungkook sighs. “Yes.”
“So you need to remove the temptation entirely. Get a new phone and we’ll use that as your contact instead. I don’t want this one on at all when we’re working. Do you understand?”
Jungkook sighs again, shifting on his feet. “Yeah,” he says, a little mutinously because Namjoon’s right and Jungkook hates being wrong. But Namjoon does have a point. Unfortunately.
“Okay. Car’s here.” And he flips Jungkook’s phone into the air. Jungkook swears, jumping forward and fumbling with it before it hits the floor. Namjoon’s laugh cuts through the air.
Jungkook doesn’t think he’ll ever complain about a stakeout again after this. Namjoon must still be annoyed at him. Maybe for the phone thing? Maybe for not really going along with the plan that time in Helsinki? Or a hundred other times? Jungkook isn’t sure, but he is sure that Namjoon must be pissed at him for something, because he’s spent two hours every morning for the past few days in this toilet and it fucking stinks. On the first day he didn’t even have a face-mask and that was bad. But even with it, the smell still penetrates.
Squat toilets are all well and good until someone pisses all over the floor and he has to stand in it for two hours, because this exact cubicle has the best view of the park.
And he’s annoyed his phone is turned off so he can’t see if Jimin has finally replied or not. Not that he’d be looking in the middle of the job since he’s a professional, but it’d be nice to have the option.
The door slams open and Jungkook hears a guy shuffling in, then the telltale sounds of pants unzipping and a stream of piss hitting the urinal. He wrinkles his nose.
“You know what’d really suck?” comes Felix’s too-chipper voice in his earpiece. “Being stuck in a toilet all morning.” And then he laughs, obnoxious and loud. Jungkook’s sure the rest of the team is laughing as well, the assholes.
“When I get out of here,” Jungkook says, “I will hunt you down and shove your head down the toilet after I’ve done a giant shit in it and then we’ll see—”
“Break it up,” cuts in Sunmi. Her voice is soft, just a murmur, but Jungkook learned the hard way years ago not to fuck with her. “I have eyes on the target.”
“Fucking finally,” Jungkook mutters, shifting on his feet. His sneakers squelch a little. Gross.
Every few days, seemingly at random, Liu Yanting starts the morning at Daan Park with some taichi. He always brings at least three bodyguards, but he’s still just out in the open. Sunmi had had a lot to say about the arrogance of rich old men. It works out in their favour anyway – it’s the only time he’s consistently in such a public area and his security is at its weakest.
“He’s heading to position C. Jungkook and Felix, you’ll have eyes on him in twenty seconds. Let’s get into position.”
Jungkook’s position, unfortunately, is right where he is. He’s only a scout for this part and even though it grates on him, he knows he’ll be having more fun later. Eventually. He’s had this niggling feeling in him for days; a restlessness that won’t go away. Hopefully blowing up some stuff will sort it out.
“Yoongi, how are we on cameras?” comes Namjoon’s voice. He’s also away from the action but unlike Jungkook, not in a fucking public toilet.
“Position C has been set to a loop,” Yoongi says, voice crackly from the distance. “You’re all clear for the next thirty minutes.”
He’s not even in Taiwan. Jungkook doesn’t think he’s in Seoul still, either – he knows for a fact that Seokjin isn’t and wherever Yoongi goes, Seokjin isn’t far behind. Thinking about their weird cat and mouse game makes him feel nauseous. Like imagining his parents having sex, if he could remember them or even wanted to remember them.
Either way, Jungkook’s sure Yoongi is in some fancy five-star hotel where he doesn’t end the day smelling like piss.
Liu finally enters his vision, strutting along with two of his bodyguards flanking him. He’s late and the rest of the group is already in formation, but he slots in at the back with an airy wave to a few of the others.
“I see him,” Jungkook says. “One bodyguard next to him, one ten feet behind him and… two more at three and seven o’clock.” They’d arrived a few minutes ago and while they’re technically undercover, they aren’t as subtle as they think. Both walk with too much assurance, both are constantly scanning. Jungkook had also spotted the shape of the gun strapped to the back of the one closest to him.
Jungkook sees Sunmi jog into the square, dressed in exercise gear. She even has one of those straps on her arm that holds her phone. Jungkook has no idea where you’d even go to get one of them. He spots the rest of her team trickling into the square and narrows his eyes at Felix, who has been sitting reading a manga on a bench this whole time.
Jungkook’s phone vibrates in his pocket. Unknown number. He frowns at it and mutes his microphone.
“Hello?” he answers.
“What’d Jimin say about you leaving?”
“What the— Yoongi? What the fuck?”
“That’s no way to greet your elder.” His voice is a lazy drawl.
The outside door bangs open, footsteps echoing as someone heads to the cubicle next to Jungkook.
“You’re the one that didn’t say hello first!” Jungkook hisses, trying to keep his voice low.
“Oh, are you my elder? How forgetful of me.”
“What? Ugh, fuck, why are you calling me? Not a good time for it.”
“The sooner you answer me, the sooner you can get back to sitting in piss.”
Jungkook grumbles and wants to hang up, but he knows that won’t end well for him. Yoongi is like a grumpy, squishy bear most of the time, but Jungkook’s seen him be petty as hell. It’s probably what he has in common with Seokjin.
“It’s fine,” he eventually says. “I said bye, he said bye, then I left.”
The phone line is silent for a moment.
“Yah, I don’t know why I bother,” Yoongi mutters. “I’ll ask Jimin himself—”
“No!” Jungkook yelps, voice echoing in the bathroom. The guy peeing stops for a moment. Jungkook coughs and lowers his voice. “No, okay, what do you want to know?”
“Did you fix it?”
“Yes,” Jungkook says. Then he thinks about all the unanswered messages on his phone. “Kind of yes. Almost. When I get back, the answer will be yes. For sure.”
Yoongi makes a thoughtful noise. “So you’re still planning on going back?”
Jungkook frowns out at the courtyard where Liu is still doing taichi. “Yeah, of course. What do you mean?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s just interesting, is all.”
Jungkook’s fingers tighten around the phone. “What do you mean?”
“I just didn’t expect you to want to go back.”
“Why does everyone keep saying that?” Jungkook says with a frustrated noise.
Yoongi makes another thoughtful noise and Jungkook wants to punch him.
“Think about it—”
Namjoon’s voice comes through his earpiece: “Let’s get this going in thirty seconds. Be on standby for my call.”
Affirmatives from the rest of the team follow. Jungkook unmutes his microphone long enough to follow along, then goes back to Yoongi.
“I’m going back and it’ll be fine, okay? Just fine.”
“I’m not sure I even want to know what kind of plan your twisted brain has come up with,” Yoongi says.
“Well why would you ask?!”
“But,” Yoongi continues on, as if Jungkook had never spoken, “it better involve telling Jimin your feelings and properly, this time.”
“I already told him. He knows,” Jungkook mutters, which is a blatant lie and Jungkook knows it, and he also knows that Yoongi knows it.
“The L word,” sing-songs a voice and Jungkook was right, because it’s Seokjin in the background. “You gotta tell him you luuuuurve him.”
There’s a slap and a thump, then Seokjin’s voice whining and indistinct, further away than before.
“Stop fucking this up, Jungkook,” Yoongi says sternly. “I like Jimin. I’d rather speak to him for the rest of my life than you, so don’t make me make that choice.”
Jungkook opens his mouth to get angry, but he can’t really because he would also choose Jimin over himself. “Fine,” he ends up saying. “Fine. I’ll say it to him. But I’m not fucking anything up. I’ve got a plan! And it’s going wel—”
“Sunmi, go,” Namjoon says.
“Ah, gotta go!” Jungkook says as he watches Sunmi and her team all pull on full-face masks. They’re all Avengers themed. Jungkook had bought them.
Without taking his eyes away from the courtyard, he shoves his phone in his pocket and flicks his microphone back on. Closest to him outside, Felix in his Hulk mask is sweeping the feet out from one of the undercover guards. The guy hits the ground hard and Felix lunges after him, but the guy rolls out of the way and onto his feet. He goes for his gun. Felix tackles him.
The rest of the onlookers are running out of the park, a few hovering and filming on their phones.
Further away, Sunmi has knocked out the bodyguard next to Liu and has him pinned to the ground. Jungkook can see the glint of the gun she’s holding to his head.
Her voice comes over the earphone, slightly muffled from the Thor mask. “Jack Moore,” she snarls. “Where is he?”
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about—”
Sunmi’s arm drawns back, then slams down. Jungkook can hear Liu’s choked off groans.
“Don’t lie to me,” she hisses. “We fucking know everything, you can’t lie to us. Do you even know who we are?”
Felix is still struggling with the bodyguard on the ground.
Yoongi’s voice in his ear: “Police have been notified. Two minutes away. Park security guard is closer – one minute.”
“Let’s wrap this up,” Namjoon says.
Jungkook smiles – time for his favourite part of the plan. He tries to keep scanning the courtyard, but his eyes go back to Felix on the ground in time to see him sag a little. The bodyguard sees his opportunity and gets in a hook right across Felix’s face. Felix goes flying back. Jungkook hears him thump into the ground and sees him dramatically roll a few feet. He ends up splayed on the ground, twitching his arms for extra effect.
“Bodyguard heading your way, Sunmi,” Jungkook says, not even trying to hide how gleeful he sounds at seeing Felix almost be knocked out.
“Motherfucker,” Felix groans. “That hurt.”
The bodyguard gets out his gun. In one graceful movement, Sunmi spins around and is on her feet, gun out and trained on the bodyguard. She pulls the trigger between one breath and the next. The gunshot booms through the park. The onlookers who had been filming scatter, screaming.
One moment the bodyguard is on his feet, gun in hand, and the next he’s on the ground clutching his shoulder. Blood oozes onto the ground. Sirens wail in the distance.
“Clear out,” Sunmi says, shoving the gun into the waistband of her tights. Jungkook is thrumming with adrenaline, but he can’t leave yet. His fingers itch for a gun, his muscles twitch to be used, but he’s responsible, dammit, and he can follow the plan.
Sunmi and her team scatter, heading to the pickup point. Felix, despite groaning on the ground dramatically, is up in an instant and fleeing as well. He passes the park’s security guard who lunges for him, but Felix dances nimbly out of the way with a maniacal giggle that’s too high-pitched for Jungkook’s ears.
And then the courtyard is empty except for the security guard, Liu and his bodyguards. Liu is curled on his side, shaking, struggling to push himself up. One of his bodyguards is knocked out on the ground. Another is slowly sitting upright, clutching his shoulder as blood gushes out. The other two are battered but run to Liu’s side.
The bathroom block is close enough that when Jungkook strains, he can hear what they’re saying.
“—how did they find me?” Liu’s voice is sharp, making the Mandarin sound even harsher. “And what happened to the backup team? What do I fucking pay you all for!” Then he speaks too fast and Jungkook can’t really keep up, can only understand words here and there.
“Police are thirty seconds out.” It’s Yoongi in his ear.
Jungkook shifts on his feet – he can’t wait around for much longer.
And then, finally, finally, he hears Liu say it.
“Jack Moore. That was it. Find out who the fuck that is! And get that security hack, that Korean idiot, in my office ASAP. Can you at least do that?! Fucking useless, I pay for—”
It’s all Jungkook needs. He slams out of the cubicle, stumbles to a stop when he sees someone trembling in the corner.
“Uh… I think they’re gone now?”
The guy stares at him, wide-eyed and pale. He doesn’t reply, so Jungkook shrugs and jogs out the door. Peeking around the corner of the building, he sees the police swarming into the courtyard. The bathroom borders onto a garden filled with bushes and trees and flowers.
With a sigh, he jumps over the low wall and squishes at least a dozen flowers.
“Sorry, Jimin,” he whispers, low enough that the microphone hopefully won’t pick up on it. “And Hoseok. I guess.”
He disappears into the trees before the police see him.
Phase two of the job, as Namjoon calls it, gets started smoothly. Namjoon gets this spring in his step when it’s all going to plan, but Jungkook is just finding it… boring. He’s now part of Liu’s security team, which just means a lot more standing around with nothing but his thoughts. He thinks a lot about Jimin. He thinks a lot about what Yoongi said.
So, he keeps messaging Jimin. One day: have u had pineapple cakes before? SO GOOD. I’ll bring some back. Sunmi said it’s a real tourist thing but idgaf YUM. And another: The aunties here love me. The pork bun auntie keeps giving me free pork buns and pinching my cheeks and trying to set me up with one of her nieces. I bet if Hoseok was here they’d still like me more. Tell him that.
Jimin doesn’t respond.
That’s okay. Jungkook will be back when this job is over and Jimin won’t be able to ignore him after that. So he practices for when he’ll see him again.
“I… lo—” Jungkook chokes, coughs, can’t get the word out. He frowns at the pineapple cake in front of him, half-eaten. He’s surrounded by quite a few wrappers, alone in his hotel room. He tries again. “L-love,” he says, voice just a whisper. “Love. Love love love. Love. Okay.” He looks his delicious snack in the eye. “I love you.”
Nothing happens. The room is silent. The world doesn’t stop. Jungkook feels weird and jittery. He stays frozen for a few moments, glancing around. “Easy. Easy peasy. No sweat. I love you, pineapple snack. Easy.” He shoves it in his mouth and chews. Easy.
He tries again the next day. This time, with a tiny dog that runs up to him when he’s standing guard outside of the restaurant Liu is in. It puts its dirty paws on his leg and wags his tail, and Jungkook melts into a pile of goo.
“You are so cute,” he coos as soft as he can. The dog’s tail wags furiously when he scratches behind its ears. “The best! Just the best! I, uh.” He pauses and so does the dog. It stares at him, eyes wide, tail frozen. “I love you,” he coughs out. “Yeah, yes, I love you. So much.” The dog’s tail starts wagging again and it dances on its two legs.
“Jungkook? What was that?” Namjoon asks via the earpiece.
“Uh,” Jungkook says, remembering that he’s on a job and meant to be paying attention, even if the threat to Liu is fake. “What was what? I didn’t say anything.”
“Hmm,” Namjoon says and he doesn’t sound convinced. “Sure. Liu’s wrapping it up so we’ll be out in about ten minutes.”
The dog has moved on now, trotting away down the street. I love you, Jungkook thinks after it and it doesn’t even make him cringe as much. He’s getting better.
So he continues to try it out. He says it to his cheeseburger that night. He says it to the plant in the lobby of his hotel that really looks cool. He says it to his driver. Eventually, he works up the guts to call Seokjin.
He doesn’t use the emergency line. It’s not quite an emergency yet. But the number he uses is only one step down, emergency-wise.
Seokjin picks up on the second ring.
“Darling angel, sweet child of mine, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
There’s a lot of noise in the background. Maybe someone grunting a bit? And something sizzling closer to the phone.
“Uh… is this a bad time?”
“When it comes to you, light of my life, there are no bad times. Perish the thought!”
Jungkook frowns and listens harder. “What are you doing? Are you… cooking? For Yoongi? Is it dinner time? Maybe I should call back. Yeah, I’ll call back.”
“Hang up this phone, young Kookie, and I’ll make you regret it. You called for a reason. Spit it out.”
“But you sound busy…” Jungkook says, weakly.
“It’s just a job, nothing important.”
“You’re… cooking on the job?” Because now Jungkook is sure Seokjin is cooking – he can hear the oil spitting and pans moving about.
“Gotta do something to pass the time while the poison takes effect,” Seokjin says, voice mild. “And this man has a nice kitchen. I may look like an angel, darling, but I’m no saint. I can’t resist temptation like this.”
“...right. Okay.” It’s not even the weirdest thing he’s caught Seokjin doing.
“So, what’s the emergency? It’s not job-related, is it?” Seokjin’s voice changes, becomes angrier. “Yoongi swore to me he’d give me an instant update if anything went south. If he hasn’t, I’ll pick his tiny scrawny arms off of his tiny scrawny body and shove—”
“No, no, jeez, no, chill. It’s fine. Nothing’s wrong with the job. I’m just calling to chat.”
The phone line is suspiciously silent. Except, of course, for the faint groaning in the background.
Then, Seokjin carefully says, “How has your cat been feeling lately?”
Jungkook lets out a frustrated sigh. “I’m not being held at gun-point, Jinnie, seriously—”
“How is your cat, Jungkook?”
“Fun but rambunctious,” Jungkook says with a sigh. It’s their safety phrase – Jungkook had had to use it a few times, so it was technically a good idea, but it was just annoying now. “I told you, I’m fine. Do you believe me now?”
“Hmm,” Seokjin says. Pans start clattering again. “Fine. What do you want? To ‘chat’?”
Jungkook doesn’t feel so great about this idea anymore.
“Uh, yeah. So. How’s life?”
“I would say my life is going well, thank you, Jungkookie. I got a full nine hours of sleep last night, isn’t that good? I also did this seaweed bath last night and honestly, I believe the hype now. I don’t think my skin has ever felt so good. You know how I get that constant dry patch on my upper arm? Just on my left side? It’s gone. I’m going to send you some, it’ll change your life. I know you think you’ve been blessed with eternal youth, Kookie-pie, but you need to start taking better care of your skin. Don’t think I didn’t notice that patch of blackheads on your right nostril when I saw you last. And your skin is nowhere near as springy as it used to be—”
“I love you!” Jungkook shouts. The sound echoes off the walls of his empty hotel room.
“Oh, is Jiminnie there with you? Why didn’t you say so, I have advice for him, too—”
“No, Jin. You. I love you.”
Jungkook’s breath feels caught in his throat, strangling him.
“Hmm,” Seokjin says. “Weird. Are you trying to give me a pimple to make yourself feel better about your terrible skin? You know real emotions make me break-out. How do you think I’ve stayed so wrinkle-free and ageless? That’s a low move, Kookie, even for you.”
“Did Yoongi put you up to this?”
“No— well, I mean, I guess?”
“That naughty, delicious little gremlin. Time to pay him another visit, I guess. I told him that emotions are just a social construct—”
“Love you, bye!” Jungkook rushes out, hanging up and throwing his phone across the room. It vibrates again almost instantly with an incoming call. Jungkook scrambles back away from it. The room phone starts ringing shrilly and Jungkook kicks out at it, the cord ripping from the wall as it tumbles to the floor.
His room is silent.
Slowly, muscle by muscle, he relaxes.
Honestly, it went better than he thought it would. He’s getting better at this.
“We now have a timeline for when he’s moving the Acker-Loewe diamond,” Namjoon is saying. “We’ll be doing the switch just before it gets moved, so the blame will be on his own security team rather than us. Which means we need to start part two of the Ace storyline so we can wrap that up and resign without any suspicion being on us.”
Namjoon is in his favourite position – front and centre of the group, all eyes on him. They’re all squished into the back of the surveillance van. Jungkook is shoved into the corner as hard as he can so no part of his body touches Sunmi next to him. Her legs are carefully crossed in front of her. Felix, on her other side, is also pressed against the person next to him so he doesn’t touch her. It’s just the aura she has.
Namjoon drones on, but Jungkook already knows this. He was the one who made copies of all the documents and drew up the layout of Liu’s apartment. Namjoon made him come to this team meeting anyway, “to show camaraderie”. Boring.
His phone vibrates in his pocket. Out of habit, Jungkook slides it out of his pocket—
And almost drops it to the floor. It’s a message from Jimin.
Jungkook’s breath catches in his throat. He rushes to unlock the phone. There, finally, finally, is a message from Jimin. It’s a photo, nothing else. It’s of his plant, sitting right where he’d positioned it next to the window. It looks way better than he remembers – more leaves than before and even a small, white flower beginning to bloom. It looks well-cared for.
Jungkook’s fingers itch. He wants to call Jimin straightaway. His heart hurts so bad he can feel tears prick at the corner of his eyes. The phone is clutched in his hand so hard he accidentally clicks the lock button. The screen goes dark, but it doesn’t matter. Jimin texted him. That means he’s been reading all of the ranting nonsense Jungkook’s been sending him. Fuck. Fuck.
“Jungkook!” Namjoon says, which makes Jungkook realise he’s already on his feet and is pushing his way out of the van. He doesn’t answer, just opens the door and stumbles out into the weak sunlight, slamming it behind him. He opens the message and stares at the photo again. What should he say? He’s been practising I love you so much that it’d be easy to say now, surely. But maybe not – he’s fairly sure Yoongi would want him to say it face-to-face. That’s something Yoongi would say. It’s not as meaningful over message and Jungkook needs Jimin to take him seriously this time.
He paces back and forth. He feels like he’s going to crawl out of his skin.
After a few minutes, the van door opens again and Namjoon jumps out. He stumbles a bit when his foot catches on the doorway, swearing. When he recovers and looks at Jungkook, his eyes are searching.
“Is everything okay?” he asks, head tilted to the side. This is what makes Namjoon a good leader and what makes Jungkook follow him more than anyone else in the industry. Namjoon has a way of connecting with people that’s rare. Somehow, it seems like he genuinely cares about everyone on his team, every time. It’s probably a ploy, but he’s so damn good at it that Jungkook buys into it.
Jungkook opens his mouth, then closes it. Thinks. Thinks really hard about the photo on his phone, about the man behind the photo, about a lot of things.
“Why are we doing this?” he asks eventually. The pause had been long, but Namjoon doesn’t look impatient.
“This? As in, the job? Or are we getting more existential here, like why are we on this earth?”
“The first one,” Jungkook says. He doesn’t even say anything about the weird “existential” comment, which is rare for him. Jungkook loves to needle Namjoon about his philosophical bullshit. “Why Liu? What’s the point?”
“Money,” Namjoon says without a pause.
Jungkook makes a sound of frustration. “No, you don’t just choose these people because they’re rich. I’m not an idiot, Namjoon, I know you and I know all about your weird ethics, and how you only steal stuff from bad people. I wanna know why you chose Liu. Your actual reason.”
Namjoon’s expression doesn’t give anything away. His eyes flicker over Jungkook’s face.
“Good and bad is subjective,” Namjoon says.
“Yes, thank you, I’ve heard this speech before,” Jungkook says, rolling his eyes.
“But,” Namjoon says, giving Jungkook a look that makes him settle down, “for me, and I think for a majority of people, Liu is a bad man. He’s made most of his wealth taking from those that are desperate. Of course, that’s what capitalism is, but beyond that – his factories have terrible conditions. Two months ago, fifteen people died when one of the buildings collapsed, with many more injured. Liu’s response was… lacking. That’s why I chose him.”
“So you’ll only steal from bad people? Why did Jimin leave, then? This sounds exactly like what he’s into.”
“I think… he wants to create a real, tangible difference. One not so tied to wealth. After we steal this diamond, what’ll we do with it? Sell it to someone equally – if not more – rich. We split the money. We get richer.”
“What about the families of the people who died?” Jungkook cuts in.
“They’ll wake up one morning to find themselves a hell of a lot richer. However… money is helpful, but it’s a very cold comfort to someone who just lost a loved one. That’s why Jimin grew sick of this – he wants to make a real difference. And I admire him for that.”
“You do?” Jungkook asks, surprised.
“Of course I do. He gave up all of this to do something real. I could never do that. I love this too much. I love the strategies, I love the fancy places, I love the adrenaline. I help out where I can, but it’s really just an excuse to keep doing it while being able to sleep at night. So when I said the money is the reason why I do this – I meant that. It’s what it all boils down to and I try not to be a hypocrite where I can.” Namjoon pauses and turns that searching look back on Jungkook. “Does that answer your question?”
Jungkook looks up at the sky. It’s hazy, the sun barely peeking through.
“Yeah,” he says. He squints. “I think I wanna leave, though.” He glances back down at Namjoon, cringing slightly.
But Namjoon doesn’t look angry. He doesn’t even look that surprised.
“You can leave before the job ends,” Namjoon says. “But you need to stay for one more day so I can get you out of this properly. And not fuck over the rest of the team.”
“Yeah,” Jungkook says, wincing, “heh. Oops. Thanks!”
“You owe me for this,” Namjoon says, frowning. “You gave me your word you’d be here 100% but you’ve been distracted from the beginning. You go back to Seoul, get your shit sorted out and by the time I call in my favour, you won’t pull this again. Got it?”
“Uh, yeah,” Jungkook says, feeling chastened. “Yeah, sorry. I tried— I didn’t really—”
“You’re bad at emotions and life in general, I know. I blame Seokjin more than you. Just… give me one more day.”
“I can do one day,” Jungkook says. He begins bouncing on his heels, jittery. One day. One day and he’ll be back in Seoul.
“You have to tell the team, though.”
Jungkook stops bouncing. “Wait, what? No!”
But Namjoon is already heading back into the van.
Jungkook flies through airport security when he’s back in Seoul. He’s out the door and in a taxi in record time, especially since he didn’t check in any luggage. But it stops being fast after that. It’s the early evening, so peak hour is in full swing. The taxi inches along the motorway, slower and slower as they get closer to the city. And, of course, Jimin’s store is on the other side of the city.
By the time the taxi arrives, Jungkook is ready to fight something. Or someone. He throws the money at the driver and leapsout. Heart in his throat, he throws open the flower shop door and enters in a rush of cold air.
“Jimin!” he calls, glancing around. It looks exactly the same and it makes something in his heart smooth over. “Hello! I’m back!”
Someone comes out of the back. It is… not Jimin.
“Jungkook-ah!” Hoseok grins, opening his arms. His shirt has at least four different neon colours on it in jagged stripes. “You’ve returned!”
His shirt may make Jungkook want to scrub his eyeballs, but there’s something truly welcoming about his smile that even Jungkook can’t deny. So he steps forward and hugs Hoseok. It’s awkward and stiff, but Hoseok doesn’t seem to notice.
“I knew you’d be back,” he chatters when they part. Jungkook still stands there stiffly but Hoseok is full of movement, flitting around behind the counter. “Jimin wasn’t sure, but I told him! My threat still stands, you know? And I knew you wouldn’t forget about my army of angry ajummas. And now you’re back! So I won’t need to follow through on my threat! I’m glad. I didn’t really want to, you know? I like you.”
“Hoseok,” Jungkook cuts in. “Where’s Jimin?”
“Oh, didn’t I mention that? How awkward. You’re here for him but I’ve just been chatting all this time. I feel like the words have built up in me, you know? Since Jimin’s been a terrible conversation partner these past few weeks. And—”
“He left a few hours ago. Probably at home.”
Oh. Jungkook tries not to feel let down. But that’s fine – he doesn’t live far from the store.
He leaves the shop, barely acknowledging Hoseok when he calls after him, “You’re welcome!”
It takes a few minutes to hail another taxi and he can feel the angry ajumma from across the street staring at him from her shop. He feels like he can’t take a full breath.
But when he gets to Jimin’s apartment and breaks through the security door, then picks the lock and bursts in dramatically – Jimin’s not there.
“What the fuck,” Jungkook says to the still air after he has searched his entire apartment, top to bottom. The air has a staleness to it that makes Jungkook think maybe no one’s been here for a few days, but that can’t be right. Where would Jimin go?
Jungkook loads up his tracking app just in case, but Jimin had disabled the last hidden bug he’d had on him a week ago. Jungkook had been checking regularly.
He leaves the apartment building a lot less excited than when he entered. With the adrenaline drained from his limbs, he suddenly remembers how greasy and smelly the plane had made him. His hair feels lank. His face oily.
He can call Jimin. He should call him. But when he’d tried previously, Jimin hadn’t picked up and he probably won’t start now. He wouldn’t know that Jungkook’s back in Seoul. Jungkook had wanted it to be dramatic and romantic, like something out of a romcom that he’d deny ever watching, but now he just feels… sad.
He ends up back in another taxi, staring without a focus outside as stores and apartment buildings flash by.
His apartment block feels cold and foreign to him. He takes the stairs, unable to deal with being cramped in an elevator at the moment, and the exercise makes his mind settle. He’s feeling a little bit better when he gets to his floor, enough that he has a plan of attack in mind for surprising Jimin at the store in the morning.
So he doesn’t really hear the TV or register that it’s on until he opens the door and sees a figure sitting on his couch, wrapped in blankets, staring back at him in shock. He reacts on instinct – flinging his bag at the intruder, lunging and grabbing the gun from under the cabinet, spinning and aiming on one knee.
“Wha— ow, what, what the fuck? Kook?”
And it’s Jimin. Blond hair messy on his head, eyes wide, still wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket from Jungkook’s bed.
“Oh,” Jungkook breathes, gun falling limp to his side. “You’re here.”
“I’m here? What the fuck are you doing here!”
“This is my apartment, why wouldn’t I be here?”
“You’re not meant to be in Seoul! The job isn’t over?”
Jungkook goes to reply then frowns. “Wait. How do you know the job isn’t over?”
Jimin suddenly looks a whole lot more wary. “I have contacts, you know.”
“Oh!” Jungkook snaps his fingers. “Taehyung. He was making the diamond forgery, yeah? That’s your inside source.”
“Maybe,” Jimin says, raising his eyebrows and trying to look haughty. Since he’s wrapped up like a very cute dumpling, it has no effect whatsoever.
“So that means you’re keeping tabs on me?” Jungkook’s mood shifts and he’s suddenly delighted.
“No. I just talk to Taehyung, that’s all.” But there are two spots of red high on Jimin’s cheeks that belie this.
“You were keeping tabs on me,” Jungkook says, almost to himself, smiling. “And you watered my plants. And you’ve been living in my apartment.”
“I have not,” Jimin says sulkily. For a conman, he’s terrible at lying sometimes. Jungkook’s apartment looks way more lived in than when he was here. There’s plates piled up in the sink. Pairs of shoes by the door. A few of the chairs at the fancy dining table aren’t quite straight. It looks lived in. By Jimin.
And his plant is thriving.
“You’ve been here,” Jungkook says, stepping forwards, “this whole time.”
“Not this whole time,” Jimin says, but it’s weak. His eyes are wide as he looks up at Jungkook. Jungkook squats down and ends up slightly lower than him. He rests his hands where he thinks Jimin’s knees are and can feel them tremble.
“You missed me,” Jungkook breathes. “You came here because you missed me.”
“I didn’t think you’d be back,” Jimin says. “So it wouldn’t matter.”
“But I am back. For good.”
Jimin’s breath hitches and Jungkook is so close he can see it.
“I don’t believe you,” Jimin says.
“It’s the truth.”
“I don’t believe you,” he repeats.
“I love you,” Jungkook says, and it flows out of him like it’s the easy. Like he hadn’t been unable to say it a few weeks ago. Like he hadn’t been practicing this for days. Like it’s the truest thing he’s ever said, because it is. He feels it everywhere in him, from the moment he saw Jimin and recognised him. He loves him.
Jimin goes still. His eyes are wet.
“I don’t believe you,” he says again, voice catching. “I don’t.”
Jungkook’s fingers tighten involuntarily on Jimin’s knees through the blanket. He can feel his words bouncing around his head, mixing with Jimin’s.
I love you. I don’t believe you. I love you. I don’t believe you.
“Okay,” he says, because what else can he say? “Okay. Can I… can I hold you?”
Jimin gives a quick nod. Jungkook pushes off his knees, climbing onto the couch and settling in beside Jimin. He feels an uncharacteristic awkwardness for a moment, arms hovering around Jimin without touching. Then Jimin shifts around enough that the blanket covers both of them. He scoots back into Jungkook’s side so he’s leaning against him, body warm and so very, very Jimin. Jungkook feels his throat close up. He takes a breath and it’s all Jimin, the sweet smell of his shampoo, the muskiness of his own scent underneath it.
It feels like home.
“You smell like plane,” Jimin says, shifting a little so the blanket tightens around them both.
Jungkook thinks of his greasy hair.
“Yeah… I should probably take a shower.”
“Probably,” Jimin says, but he doesn’t move. Jungkook doesn’t either.
“Shh,” Jimin says, eyes fastened on the TV in front of them. It’s playing anime – one of Jungkook’s favourites, actually. “This is the best part. Don’t ruin it.” He feels Jimin wiggling and suddenly Jimin’s tiny hand is covering his, threading their fingers together. “Talk later.”
Jungkook breaths out and the tension of the past few weeks – months, years – flows out with it. Jimin is warm against his side, so very, very present, and he doesn’t ever want to move.
So he doesn’t.
Much later, Jimin switches the TV off and they’re left in darkness. Then he’s getting up, pushing away from Jungkook, and cold air rushes in in his wake. Jungkook’s not the best at social interactions, but this feels like the time he should leave. Except he doesn’t want to leave. They’re also in his apartment. But it doesn’t matter what he wants; Jimin’s the only one that matters here—
“Stop thinking so loudly,” Jimin says and Jungkook’s mouth snaps shut. “Come on. The TV is hurting my eyes.”
“Oh,” Jungkook says in a rush of air. Jimin walks into the bedroom, trailing the blanket behind him. Jungkook follows. When Jimin throws the blanket onto the bed then climbs in under it, he stutters to a halt.
“Get in. You’re making me cold.” Jimin throws the blanket back.
Jungkook still hesitates. “But—”
“We’re not having sex.” Jimin rolls his eyes. “I’m just not going back to my apartment this late. It’s too cold. And I’m not sleeping on the couch or making you sleep there.” There’s a fine dusting of pink on his cheeks, barely illuminated by the streetlights outside. “Just get in!”
Jungkook’s body jolts into motion and he climbs into the bed. He curls up on his side so he’s facing Jimin. After a moment, Jimin rolls onto his side so they’re face-to-face. His breath fans Jungkook’s face.
“I’m really back for go—” Jungkook tries, but Jimin’s eyebrows slam down.
“Don’t,” he cuts in. “I don’t want to talk about that.”
“Okay,” Jungkook says softly, curling in on himself a little. After a moment, he feels Jimin’s hand slide into his and they’re holding hands again. His heart soars.
They’re quiet. Jungkook’s eyes trace over Jimin’s face, over his sharp jaw, rounded cheeks, the faint laugh lines carved into the corners of his eyes. Maybe this is his favourite Jimin – one that looks at him so openly, vulnerably. It’s not one he sees often.
“Jungkook,” Jimin says softly after a few moments. “I feel like… you don’t really know me. And that’s my fault as well, I guess, it was all part of protecting myself—”
“What?” Jungkook frowns. “I know you. What?”
“You don’t really know me.”
“I didn’t know where you lived. Or your past. Or about Hoseok. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know you.”
“But you don’t. I wasn’t that open—”
“Jimin. You’re a great conman. Or you were. Or are, if you’re still doing it. Whatever. You’re great at it, but you’re good at it because you’re so genuine. Seokjin – he hides things. Yoongi, too. But… I don’t think you were hiding as much as you thought, Jiminnie.”
It’s a lot and feels like word vomit, spewing out everywhere. He doesn’t think it really covers what he wants to say, but there’s so many words in his head and he’s always been better with his fists than his words. He can’t exactly fistfight Jimin to make him believe him, though. Not yet, anyway.
It doesn’t look like his words have much of an effect. Jimin’s eyes are hard. “You don’t even know my favourite colour.”
“Of course I do. Blue.”
Jimin’s eyes narrow. “I guess I do wear a lot of blue. I’ll give you that one. But what about what I do in my spare time? We were always either fucking or on a job.”
“Or fucking on a job.”
“Yes, Jungkook,” Jimin says, rolling his eyes.
“You like obscure music. You always looked up the local artists of whatever country we were in. You find reading boring, but you like owning books. You like watching anime, obviously, but also all of those animal documentaries with that old dude. And you like helping people. Does this mean I know you?”
“Okay, so I guess you know my hobbies or whatever—”
“Your biggest pet peeve is people not covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough. I know you’ve listened to every Adele song ever released at least three times. I know you have a weird fascination with dinosaurs and visit any museum with an exhibit wherever we are. Jimin, I know you. Okay? Why can’t you accept that?”
Jimin’s not looking at him anymore. His head is ducked down, staring at where their hands are still interlinked. He hears him inhale shakily. Jungkook’s fingers clench around Jimin’s, but he doesn’t move otherwise. He knows a lot of superficial shit about Jimin, sure, but he also knows the deeper stuff – Jimin hates to be weak. The last thing he’d want is Jungkook acknowledging the shudder that wracks his body.
So silence falls between them again, Jungkook hanging onto Jimin’s hand like an anchor.
“Did you blow anything up this time?” Jimin asks.
Jungkook blinks then remembers – the job.
“No, actually. I didn’t do much of anything, really. I saw Felix get punched in the face and that was nice.”
“Oh, but he’s so pretty. They didn’t miss up his nose, did they?”
Jungkook gives Jimin’s hand a warning squeeze. “Hey! You can’t say that when I’m in bed with you. That’s mean.”
“What’s mean about it?” Jimin taunts. “Mean sounds like depriving the world of his perfectly symmetrical face—”
Jimin lets out an oof as Jungkook shoves him and rolls on top, pinning his arms down by his sides.
“Take it back!”
“Take what back? That he might have prettier eyes than you—”
Jungkook lets go of one of Jimin’s arms to shove his fingers into his waist, tickling. Jimin immediately curls up, screeching.
“No, cold, no!” he wails.
“Take it back!” Jungkook yells over the top.
“Fine! F-fine, you’re prettier than, than him,” Jimin wheezes out. When Jungkook draws back, Jimin sags against the mattress.
Unfortunately, the laughter dies quickly from Jimin’s eyes and Jungkook realises the position they’re in. He’s sitting in Jimin’s lap, who is sprawled out below him and staring up at him. Jimin’s hair is a mess. He looks debauched. Slowly, slowly, Jungkook sees the tension start to leak back into his face.
In a burst of movement, he pushes himself off Jimin and falls to the bed beside him. He’s a little further away this time.
“Er,” he says at the roof, “sorry.”
“Kook,” Jimin says on a sigh, and Jungkook’s really sick of hearing his name said like this – with regret, with sadness, with so much emotion pent up in one syllable.
“No, really, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have—”
“Stop talking.” The bed shifts under him and suddenly Jimin’s at his side again, warm and golden and present. He curls up beside Jungkook and rests his head on Jungkook’s chest. Jungkook is scared to move. They’ve been in this position thousands of times before – it’s how Jimin likes to cuddle after sex – but it’s different this time. Jungkook hasn’t just had a mind-shattering orgasm. All their clothes are on. Jimin hasn’t shown any signs of wanting him like that, anyway.
“So you didn’t blow anything up?” Jimin’s voice is quieter than before. Jungkook glances down but all he can see is Jimin’s blond hair fanned across his chest. He wants to take a photo of this moment but instead he tries to commit it to memory.
“No,” Jungkook says. The mood is affecting him, too, making his voice softer. “There was one fake attack on the target, but I was a lookout. The rest was just boring, pretending to be a bodyguard stuff.”
“What? Then why did Joonie want you?”
“Oh, there probably would’ve been more of an opportunity to blow shit up later, but I skipped out.”
“What do you mean ‘what’? You knew the job wasn’t over.”
Jimin wiggles around so he can look up at Jungkook, head still rested on his chest.
“I thought that meant your part was done.”
“Oh. No. I just left.”
“What? Is Joonie pissed?”
Jungkook shrugs his Jimin-less shoulder. “Not really. The rest of the team, not so much. I’ll probably have to avoid Sunmi for a few years.”
“So you left a job early to come back here. And watch anime. With me.”
Jungkook’s eyes trail up and fasten onto the ceiling. “Yeeeeep,” he says. “Yep. I sure did, huh.”
Jungkook shifts a little, then stiffens when he realises Jimin’s still lying half on top of him and he shouldn’t make him uncomfortable.
“Well, I was bored. And there’s that other reason too, but you got mad when I said it before and I like where we are right now so I don’t want to make you angry again.”
“Oh,” Jimin says, voice small. Jungkook risks a glance down and gets caught in Jimin’s intense stare. After a moment, Jimin shifts and curls up, ducking his head so he’s not looking up at Jungkook anymore. Jungkook breathes a bit easier. “Well. I’ve got a lead on a guy fleeing fraud charges. So you won’t get to blow anything up, but you can probably hit things.”
“Are you… inviting me on your jobs again?”
Jimin sounds annoyed when he says, “Well if you’re going to make a big deal out of it—”
“No! No, it’s fine. It’s good. I like hitting things. Hitting things is good. I’m in.”
“Okay,” Jimin says softly. “Good. See you in the morning, Kook.”
The thing between them is still fragile, delicate enough that any wrong move will destroy it completely. But it’s there. It’s something. And as Jimin falls asleep against his chest, Jungkook finds himself grinning up at the ceiling.
The next morning is… interesting. When Jungkook wakes up, surprisingly, Jimin’s still in the bed next to him. He’s awake, too, and staring at Jungkook unblinkingly.
“Morning,” Jungkook says, voice rusty. He clears his throat a few times. Jimin blinks at him. His hair is a mess on his head, pillow creases etched into one cheek. Then he springs up, muttering “breakfast” as he walks quickly out of the room. Jungkook is left staring at his bedroom door.
Well. It’s better than waking up alone? Marginally.
Jungkook gets up a lot slower, stretching a bit and smelling an underarm. He makes a face – he stinks. On the way to the shower, he strips off his shirt and drops it with a yawn.
It feels good to scrub off the flight, especially when he notices the extra bottles in the shower. All he’d had before was a bar of soap stolen from a hotel, but now there’s five new bottles. He frowns at each of them, giving a sniff before finding the one that smells the most like Jimin and lathering it everywhere.
He didn’t bring any fresh clothes into the bathroom and his old ones don’t smell great. Probably explains why Jimin flew out of the room so fast this morning. He ends up wrapping the towel around his waist and kicking his dirty clothes into the corner.
When he steps back into the hallway, he’s hit with a delicious smell. Almost unconsciously, his feet turn away from the bedroom and head into the kitchen instead.
“Bacon?” Jungkook says, eyes wide.
Jimin’s at the stove, flipping something in a frypan. The kettle beside him is whistling loudly.
“Yeah, I remember how much you like it. And I found bread you’ll like, not like the really sweet stuff you’ve been complaining about here.” The kettle clicks off and Jimin picks it up, pouring into one of the mugs. “Don’t be expecting much, though. I’m not good at cracking eggs so only one has the yolk intact—” Jimin glances up and freezes. His eyes are wide. He’s still pouring water into the mug, which overflows onto the counter.
“Jimin!” Jungkook yelps, leaping forward and grabbing the kettle. Jimin bursts into motion, dancing back so the hot water doesn’t hit him.
“‘Oops’?” Jungkook repeats. “What! You could’ve burnt yourself.” Crankily, he swipes a dishcloth and begins wiping up the water. It cools down fairly rapidly, enough that he can squeeze out the towel without being in pain.
“Mmm,” Jimin says. “Sure.”
“You’re meant to be the adult one,” Jungkook says, giving the dishcloth a final squeeze and turning around. Jimin is leaning against the cupboard, biting his lip. His eyes drag slowly back up to Jungkook’s face. He can feel it like a physical weight. “Oh,” Jungkook says. He’s in a towel.
The moment stretches between them, heavy. Jungkook breathes in slowly, feels tingles running down his arms. Jimin’s eyes are dark and wanting. Jungkook goes a little boneless.
“Jimin,” he whispers. It’s a plea. But it has the opposite effect – Jimin blinks and the haziness disappears. He straightens. Turns back to the stovetop.
Jimin clears his throat. “Uh, hope you like your eggs not runny, because these might be a little crispy.”
Jungkook stares at Jimin’s back. He can see how tense his muscles are even through the shirt. He wills him to turn around.
“Yeah, however,” he eventually says, then ducks out of the kitchen. They’re better than they were – Jungkook has to keep reminding himself of that. There’s progress. But the rejection still stings.
He takes a little longer getting dressed than normal. Jimin doesn’t comment on it.
Jungkook shifts, grimacing at how numb his butt is getting on the metal bench. The newspaper in his hands crinkles loudly and begins to fold at a weird angle. He shakes it to get it to open out again – broadsheets are fucking frustrating to read. He’s not one to ever read any news, but he’s sure as hell never going to do it with an enormous newspaper. It’s his own fault, anyway – he’d picked out the most legitimate looking newspaper at the newsstand to go with his disguise, but he should’ve just gone for a magazine instead. He can’t even read much of it anyway.
Jimin snickers in his ears.
“Comfortable?” he asks.
Jungkook’s phone is in his pocket, earphones connected to it. He’s been on the line with Jimin for over two hours now and he might have to hunt for his battery pack at this rate. Working without proper tech is hard.
Jungkook mentally adds it to his list of things for the office.
“Never been better,” Jungkook replies as sweetly as he can with both butt cheeks going numb. Staking out a location is the worst part of any job, no doubt about it. The only good point is having Jimin’s voice in his ear. Jimin’s positioned at the main entrance, alternating between different locations. Currently he’s in a KFC and Jungkook can hear him munching on fries. His own stomach rumbles.
“Can’t you bring me some fries? Or some nuggets at least?” Jungkook whines. “I’m hungry.”
“Can’t leave my position.” Jimin’s voice is smug.
“Technically, you weren’t scouting when you ordered food for yourself!”
“It’s all part of the disguise, Kook-ah. Just like your newspaper that I’m sure you’re very invested in.”
Jungkook grumbles, but it reminds him to turn the page to look like he’s actually reading it. He has to fight with the pages for a bit to make them lie flat.
Jimin must take pity on him, because he says, “I’ll take you to barbecue when we’re down here, okay? The fancy one. This guy’s bounty is a lot.”
Something nags at Jungkook. “Bounty hunting,” he says. “That’s not normally your thing, right? Getting actual money? What’s the deal with him?”
Jimin’s silent for a moment. Then, “Well… there’s not much of a story. He defrauded investors for his tech start-up. His bail is set at about 100 million won, though, so that’s a hefty bounty. Gotta get paid somehow.”
“So there’s no moral story? No ethics involved?”
“I… maybe missed the excitement, too. Thought it’d be something you’d like.”
Jungkook blinks. He feels warmth spread through him. Jimin had been working this case before he knew Jungkook would be back. He hadn’t even expected Jungkook to be back. So he’d picked this with Jungkook in mind – he’d been thinking of him.
His butt suddenly feels a whole lot less numb. He tries to bite down on the smile spreading across his face, but can’t stop it.
“You were thinking of me,” he says out loud, and he can hear how soft his voice is. Jimin would be able to hear it too, even through the crappy sound quality of the earphones.
“Don’t read too much into i— oh, shit. I’ve spotted him. Coming in fast through the entrance now. Looks like he’s already got a ticket. Following him now.”
Adrenaline rushes into his body and his muscles tighten, but he stays seated. Over the top of the newspaper, he scans the crowd. Jungkook is positioned on the platform for the high-speed Busan trains, where they’d assumed he’d be going.
“Black coat, light brown hat,” Jimin says, voice low and urgent. “Sports bag on his shoulder. Looks like he’s by himself. He’s heading your way.”
Jungkook folds up the newspaper, taking care to flatten it properly. It doesn’t really work – it looks like a child’s arts and crafts project, folded all wrong. Whatever.
“He’s tried to grow a beard.” Jimin snickers. “Oh boy. It’s not a great look.”
“Like you can talk,” Jungkook says and Jimin makes a wounded noise.
“Hey,” he says. “At least I know I can’t grow facial hair and aren’t trying to grow it as a shitty disguise.”
Jungkook’s eyes catch on to the target, Park Jaegeun. He’s coming up the escalator to the platform, tugging his hat down lower over his eyes.
“Oh god,” Jungkook says, eyeing the patchy bits of facial hair. “That’s not great.”
“I told you!”
Jimin pops into view, bouncing up the escalator stairs.
“Okay,” he says, “I’m ready to engage. 5,000 won says he’s a runner.”
“What?” Jungkook stands up and begins making his way through the crowd towards them. “I’m not betting against that—”
“Hello, sir?” Jimin’s voice is guileless and airy, a complete 180 to what it was before. “Does this platform go to Jeonju?”
“What?” The microphone barely picks up Park Jaegeun’s voice, but Jungkook can still hear the annoyance. “It says Busan right there. Can you not read?”
“Thank you so much for your help, Park Jaegeun-ssi,” Jimin says sweetly.
“Whatev— Hey, how do you know my—”
“Maybe you can be equally as helpful escorting yourself back to police custody? You missed your court date.”
The guy’s body goes rigid. Jungkook can see the fight or flight response coursing through his body – flight wins out. He throws his bag at Jimin’s face and spins, throwing himself into a dead sprint. People cry out when he shoves them aside. He only makes it a few steps before Jungkook is there, sticking his leg out. Jaegeun goes flying. He hits the ground with a muffled noise and Jungkook is on him a second later, pinning him to the ground.
“Nice beard,” he says, digging the handcuffs out of his back pocket and slapping them on. “Really brings out your eyes.”
“Get off me! Help! Hel—”
Jungkook digs his knee into his back and wrenches his arms up. He can feel the joints straining. “Hey, none of that. Let’s be civil.”
Jaegeun whimpers, but shuts up otherwise.
Jungkook glances back. Jimin is soothing the gathered crowd, showing the warrant. “This man has a bounty on his head,” he’s saying, “and we’re authorised by the police to bring him in.”
Jimin glances back at him and Jungkook freezes – the look Jimin’s giving him is dark, eyes hooded and lips parted. He blinks and the look disappears. In the next moment, he’s turning to console an upset woman.
“I want my lawyer—”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jungkook says, standing up and pulling Jaegeun up with him. His mind is occupied with that look and how quickly his body had responded. Was that… was he reading this right?
They frogmarch Jaegeun out and catch a taxi to the nearest police station. Outside, Jungkook wavers for a moment. Jimin notices, because of course he does, and throws him a wry smile.
“You can wait out here, if you want,” he says. “I’ll handle it.”
“Yeah…” Jungkook says, eyes flicking back to the giant police sign. “I think the fresh air is better for my jet lag.”
Neither of them mention that the air is probably fresher inside, away from the low-hanging smog, or that the time difference is only an hour.
It takes Jimin about half an hour to sort everything out inside. Jungkook wanders aimlessly in small circles for a while, then realises how sketchy he looks doing that outside of a police station. He uses the time instead to call up his real estate agent and make sure everything’s finalised. And add a few more things to the list.
When he sees Jimin hopping down the stairs, hair blowing back off his forehead, he mutters a quick goodbye and hangs up.
“Who was that?” Jimin asks. He doesn’t stop, just grabs Jungkook’s wrist and tugs him towards the road.
“Uh… wrong… number?”
Jimin sticks up a hand, hailing a taxi. He gives him a sceptical look over his shoulder.
“Wrong number? Really, Kook-ah? This is why you always get the ‘stand silent and look intimidating’ part of the job. You’re a terrible liar.”
“I am not,” Jungkook says, pouting. “I can lie well when I want to, okay.”
Jimin hums, no less sceptical than before. But he doesn’t reply further, since a taxi pulls up and they clamber in. Jimin leans forward and gives the address to his own apartment. Jungkook frowns.
“Wait, aren’t we going to the store? What about the paperwork?”
Jimin still hasn’t let go of Jungkook’s hand.
“Nope.” He looks out the window.
“What? But the store—”
Jimin turns, leaning close in one smooth motion. He’s only an inch away from Jungkook, his face taking up most of Jungkook’s vision.
“No,” he says, very deliberately. “We’re going back to my place.”
Jimin looks at him steadily, then his eyes drop to Jungkook’s lips. And— lightbulb.
“Oh!” Jungkook’s eyes widen. “Ooooh.”
“Finally,” Jimin mutters, falling back into the seat. His eyes stay on Jungkook, though, and they’re lazy, almost. Hooded.
Jungkook feels the complete opposite. It’s like electricity is running through his limbs. He can’t sit still – his leg bounces. He tries to stare outside, but he’s not really seeing anything. Jimin. Jimin. He hadn’t made up that look from before. Fuck.
Jimin’s hand comes down on Jungkook’s thigh, fingers digging into the muscle. Jungkook lets out a gasp before he can stop it. His body feels tethered to the hard weight of Jimin’s hand.
His legs stops jiggling.
The rest of the ride is a blur. Jungkook has never been so aware of his body, each breath running in and out of his lungs. Jimin next to him, one leg sliding over to hook around his ankle. His hand isn’t digging in anymore so much as tracing patterns on the inner seam of his pants.
Jungkook blinks and Jimin is gone, leaning forward and paying the taxi driver then sliding out the door. Jungkook follows in a daze, out the car and up the steps towards the entrance. Jimin pauses at the door, holding it open for a woman. His smile to her is sweet, angelic, then he looks at Jungkook and his expression grows hot again. They’re silent until the elevator dings open and they step inside.
“Jimin…” Jungkook says, stepping forward, needing to touch. Be touched.
“Kook.” Jimin’s hand rests on his chest, keeping space between them. “Do you want this?”
Jungkook lets out a breath, eyes darting around Jimin’s face. His eyes are intense, brows drawn, serious. He wants to make a joke, act flippant, but Jimin’s too grave for that.
So, he says, “Yes.”
Jimin’s breath stutters out and then he’s on him, clutching Jungkook’s hair and fitting their lips together. It’s messy, teeth clinking as they work out how to sink back in together. Jimin’s mouth dominates Jungkook’s, tongue licking in, pulling back only to nip at his lower lip.
Jimin’s hands run down his body and Jungkook gasps when they brush his crotch. He’s hard. It’s obvious.
Jimin smirks against his lips, whispering, “Good.”
The elevator dings open. Jimin grabs his wrist and drags him down the hallway. Jungkook blinks, dazed, feeling cold. Jimin’s keys jingle as he opens the door. Inside, Jungkook turns to Jimin like a homing signal.
“No,” Jimin says, and Jungkook freezes with his hands halfway to Jimin’s face. “Take your clothes off.”
Before his brain even catches up, he’s moving to undo his jacket. He lets it drop to the floor behind him. His shirt comes off next and he’s not shy about tensing his muscles. He doesn’t miss the way Jimin’s eyes drag down to his abs. He hesitates at his pants, glancing at Jimin, who hasn’t made a move to take anything off except for his shoes.
“Everything.” Jimin’s voice is low. Jungkook kicks off his boots then pushes down his sweats and briefs in one go. He steps out of them and nudges the pile to the side. Jimin’s eyebrows quirk up as he glances down at his feet. Jungkook’s eyes follow his down and— oh. Flushing, he bends over and takes off his socks, throwing them to join the rest of the pile.
And then he’s naked, standing in the cold apartment in front of a fully-clothed Jimin.
“Better,” Jimin says.
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
Jungkook’s mouth snaps shut and Jimin smiles. “Come here,” he says, gesturing with two fingers. “And get on your knees.”
Jungkook complies so quickly that it might’ve been embarrassing if he’d cared. The floorboards are hard and icy beneath his knees. Jimin’s hand comes up to cup his jaw, fingers stroking along his skin. Jungkook shivers, goosebumps rippling down his arms.
“Did you miss this?” Jimin asks. Did you miss me?
“Yes,” Jungkook says, fervently, in a harsh breath. “So much.”
“Good,” Jimin breathes. His thumb sweeps along his lower lip, pulling it to the side. Jungkook’s mouth drops open. Jimin’s thumb hooks into the side of his mouth, tugging. “Wider.” Jungkook opens enough that his jaw strains. Two of Jimin’s fingers slide in, pressing down on his tongue. “What do you want, Kook-ah?”
His fingers are still in his mouth. Jungkook, muffled, says, “Please.”
“Use your words.”
Jimin’s fingers retreat, pulling back to rub spit along his lower lip. It’s enough for Jungkook to say, “Your dick. Please.”
“Such good manners. Do you think you deserve it?”
Jungkook nods fervently. Jimin cocks an eyebrow, looking sceptical, but he still says, “Fine.” Jungkook’s hands fly up but Jimin snatches his wrists before he can get to his fly. “No,” he says. “No hands.”
Jimin’s hands squeeze and his eyes flash. “What did I just say, Kook-ah?”
“No hands.” His voice is a whisper, hoarse. Jimin releases his hands and strands back upright, smiling.
“Good,” he says. “Keep them behind your back.”
“Or what?” It tumbles out of his mouth before he can stop it. He freezes. Jimin’s face doesn’t flicker, staying blank. His head tilts to the side and Jungkook feels him like a physical force, all around him. He’s so dominant, filling up the whole apartment. Jungkook feels so small. His shoulders curl in, trying to be even smaller.
“Would you like to find out?” Jimin asks, eyes alight. “Do you think that’d end up well for you?”
Jungkook breathes out. “N-No,” he says, shifting on his aching knees. “Hands behind my back. Okay.”
“Good boy,” Jimin purrs, one hand coming out to stroke through Jungkook’s hair. Jungkook leans into it and Jimin smiles. Then his hands are undoing his jeans. Jungkook’s eyes latch on, hungrily. Jimin pushes his jeans and briefs down only enough for his cock to be freed, hard and upright. Jungkook feels his mouth water. Jimin holds out a hand, palm out. Jungkook frowns.
“Lick,” Jimin instructs. Jungkook tilts forward, running his tongue up Jimin’s palm and taking his thumb into his mouth, before drawing away. Palm glistening, Jimin takes himself in hand and strokes long and slow. The head of his cock is dark red, drops of precum gathered on the tip. Jungkook’s hips shift, but his hands don’t move from behind his back.
Jungkook’s eyes follow every moment of Jimin’s hand, how he tightens it at the base, how his fingers sweep over the head to gather the wetness there. Jimin stops.
“Open,” he says and Jungkook’s mouth drops open, tongue pushing out slightly. Jimin steps closer and cups his jaw. Jungkook shifts forward but Jimin’s fingers tighten, nails biting in under his jawline. “I said open,” he says, “not move.”
“Sorry.” His voice is breathy, barely substantial, and he opens his mouth again straight afterwards.
Jimin smiles and rubs his fingers where’d they’d bitten into his skin. He tilts his jaw upright and, with his other hand, guides his cock into Jungkook’s mouth. Jungkook lets out a sigh so loud it’s a moan. Jimin’s cock pushes slowly into his mouth. It’s a heavy weight on his tongue. Jungkook’s missed this; this feeling of having his mouth so full. Of being so powerless and small while Jimin burns around him.
Jimin’s cock reaches the back of his throat. Jungkook shifts, tilting his chin up further and exhales. He can feel his saliva gathering, wetting everything. Just before Jimin slides into his throat, though – he retreats. Jungkook frowns, although it’s probably not that threatening with the tip of Jimin’s dick still lying on his tongue.
Jimin chuckles, saying, “You look so good like this. You won’t let me appreciate it?”
Jungkook can’t really say anything in reply, but Jimin doesn’t seem to be looking for one. He pushes back in, this time faster, and Jungkook breathes out slowly. Finally, finally, Jimin’s cock slides into his throat and down. Jungkook’s good at a lot of things, but he’d put giving head in his top five skills. Practice makes perfect and Jungkook’s practised enough to make his gag reflex near non-existent.
For the first time, there’s a crack in Jimin’s exterior as his head tilts back, groaning. He withdraws an inch then pushes back down, deep into Jungkook’s throat. He thrusts once, twice, several more times, then pulls back. Jungkook gasps in a breath, feeling the saliva dripping down his chin and doing nothing to stop it. He tilts forward, mouthing at Jimin’s balls. Jimin’s groans are like music to his ears.
It doesn’t take long for Jimin’s hand to tighten in his hair then he’s guiding his cock down Jungkook’s throat again. Jungkook’s hands clench behind his back. His nose presses against Jimin’s groin and he wants nothing more than to run his hands over Jimin, feel the strength of his muscles, his smooth skin.
Jimin’s breathes are loud in the still apartment. It’s the only sound except for the wet sounds Jungkook’s mouth is making and his occasional choke. Jungkook tries to keep his eyes on Jimin, on how his face has gone lax with pleasure, but his eyes slide shut on their own accord and then he’s just feeling.
Jungkook can tell when Jimin’s about to come. He knows it well; has felt it countless times. He can feel the fine trembling in Jimin’s limbs, especially when Jimin’s cock is all the way down his throat. Jimin’s pants begin to carry sounds, tiny little moans that grow less choked off. His hips stutter and then he’s coming down Jungkook’s throat, pulling back so Jungkook can suck on the head.
“Fuck, Kook-ah,” Jimin says. He takes a stumbling step back, then another, then his back hits against the wall and he’s slumped against it. His face is wrecked, hair falling into his closed eyes, lips bitten red. Jungkook definitely looks worse. He can feel the saliva dripping onto his chest. His lips feel numb, jaw aching. But deep satisfaction thrums through him. It was him that put that look on Jimin’s face. He’s the one who wrecked Jimin.
Jimin opens his eyes and meets his gaze. Jungkook lets his mouth drop open and a small amount of come drips out.
“You little shit.” Jimin’s voice is hoarse.
Jungkook smiles. It’s a fleeting thing because as he looks at Jimin, wrecked, dick hanging flaccid outside of his jeans, he remembers his own very pressing issue. Jimin seems to think the same thing, because his face turns smug.
“Need some help there?”
Jungkook shifts on his knees, dick bobbing between his legs. He’s so hard it’s almost painful not to do anything to relieve it.
“Please,” he says. “Can I use my hands?”
Jimin straightens up, rolling his neck and shaking his orgasm off. When he opens his eyes again, his face is intent. Hungry.
“Not yet,” he says. “When you next come, you’ll be inside me.”
Jungkook feels like he’s been punched in the stomach with hot, pure want. Jimin sees this and smiles. He comes forward and kneels in front of Jungkook. His eyes roam Jungkook’s face, taking in every inch.
The smile still hangs around his lips when he murmurs, “Beautiful boy.”
Jungkook feels himself flushing from the praise, warmth spreading through him.
“Let’s clean you up.”
Jimin helps him off the floor because his knees have locked up. He leans heavily on Jimin as he takes him to the bathroom, carefully wiping off the mess Jungkook’s made of his mouth and chest, humming under his breath. Jungkook’s arousal fades. It’s still there, but the urgency lessens under Jimin’s gentle care.
“I’ll meet you in the bedroom,” Jimin says. “I have to clean up. I didn’t think this day would end in sex.”
Jungkook’s lips make an oh shape. Jimin pushes him out of the bathroom, saying, “If you touch yourself, I’ll put a cock ring on you and make sure you don’t come for the rest of the night. Got it?”
Jungkook frowns. “But—”
“But what?” Jimin stares him down with his eyebrows raised and Jungkook feels cowed.
“Fine,” he says sulkily. He makes sure to close the door hard behind him.
Jungkook flops back on the bed, squirming a little bit. All he wants to do is turn over, breath in Jimin’s scent and rub against the sheets until he comes, but he’s had enough experience to know when Jimin’s not fucking around. So he stares at the ceiling and traces his lips, touching the edge where it feels cracked.
Finally, after what feels like hours of waiting but wouldn’t be more than ten minutes, the bathroom door cracks open. Jungkook sits bolt upright. Jimin slips out, completely naked. Jungkook’s mouth goes dry. Jimin’s always been so slender, but each of his muscles are clearly defined. He’s completely confident in his skin and that makes him even more appealing. Jungkook wants him so much it hurts.
But instead of coming towards the bed, Jimin passes him by and heads to the window. There’s a ledge seat in front of it, built into the wall, and Jimin climbs onto it. He leans his back against the window, makes eye contact with Jungkook and smiles. Then opens his legs.
“Are you going to make me wait here all day?”
Jungkook stumbles off the bed and starts towards him. Jimin raises his eyebrows and it’s enough to halt him. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” he asks. One hand flutters along his chest, trailing up to pinch a nipple, and it takes Jungkook longer than it should for that lightbulb to go off.
“Oh!” He grabs a bottle of lube and a condom from the bedside table. When he turns back to Jimin, he’s struck motionless again. Jimin has a hand on his cock and is slowly stroking it. He’s looking at Jungkook, still with that smirk on his face. The sun shines down and lights up his body so he glows. Jimin makes a sharp twisting motion with his hand and gasps, mouth dropping open.
Jungkook comes forward, groaning, “Jimin.” He drops the supplies on the bench next to Jimin and crashes into him, gripping his hips and slotting their lips together. He moans into it, feeling Jimin’s hard dick pressing into his hips. Jungkook’s hips thrust forward, trying to find any kind of relief.
Then there’s a hand in his hair, gripping tight and jerking his head back. He freezes.
“Jungkookie,” Jimin coos. “Were you just trying to get off without fucking me?”
“No,” he pants. His hips twitch. Jimin’s other hand grabs his dick in a rough hold. Jungkook gasps.
“I’ve been dreaming about you fucking me right here for weeks and this is how you treat me?”
“I’m sorry.” He squeezes his eyes shut, trying to calm himself down. It’s not working. Jimin’s still plastered to his front, soft and hot and everything he’d been missing. It doesn’t help when Jimin kisses down his neck, then bites into the meat of shoulder. “Jimin.”
Suddenly he’s being shoved away. He stumbles back, wobbling. Blinks dumbly. Jimin isn’t even looking at him – he’s uncapping the lube and squeezing some onto his fingers.
“You,” he says, pointing his lubed fingers at him, “stay there. I don’t trust you to behave.” Jimin scoots back on the ledge, enough so he can plant his feet up onto the seat. It leaves him completely exposed. His dick is curled up against his stomach and his ass is bare to Jungkook. His eyes meet Jungkook’s and he smiles. Then his fingers reach down and push into his hole.
Jungkook whines. Jimin’s smile widens.
“You know,” Jimin says, only a hint of breathiness to his tone as he works on opening himself up with two fingers, “I’ve fingered myself right here before, thinking about you. Not my proudest moment, maybe. I’d also hoped that you’d be the one opening me up, but you messed that up, didn’t you?”
“I’m sorry.” Jungkook can’t take his eyes away from Jimin’s ass – the way his fingers are glistening, the way his hole stretches and flutters. Then he’s adding another finger.
“When I let you fuck me,” Jimin says. His lips are bitten red, wet, panting open. “I want it hard. I want you to fuck me so hard I can’t even speak. If I can form words, you’ve failed. Do you understand?”
Jungkook can feel the precum dripping off his cock. He feels half-wild with need.
“Yeah, yes, I understand,” he babbles. “Please, just let me, please—”
Jimin shifts and, with barely a sigh, takes his fingers out. He throws the condom at Jungkook, who barely manages to catch it.
“Come on, then.”
Jungkook almost trips over his feet coming forward. His hands are shaking so much it takes him a few goes to rip open the wrapper. Jimin laughs and it sends shivers down his spine. In record timing, he rolls it on and is between Jimin’s legs. Jimin drapes his arms over Jungkook’s shoulders.
“Are you going to fuck me, baby?” he says, wiggling his ass a little. “Hard?”
“So hard,” Jungkook pants. “So good, Jimin—”
Jimin grabs onto his cock, giving it a few pumps. Jungkook’s head falls back and he moans. Then Jimin’s guiding him into his body. He’s tight, and hot, clenching around Jungkook as he slowly pushes in. Jimin lets out a small sigh, wrapping his legs around Jungkook’s waist.
“Does that feel good, baby?” he breathes into Jungkook’s ear.
Jungkook bottoms out and shudders. All he can do is nod frantically, head against Jimin’s shoulder.
“You feel so good in me,” Jimin whispers. “You stretch me so well. I love the feel of your dick in me—”
Jungkook’s hips stutter. “Jimin,” he whines.
Jimin’s hand stroke through his hair, down his neck and to his back.
“I thought you were going to fuck me,” he says. “All these muscles and all you can do is stand the— oh fuck.” Jungkook had reared his hips back and shoved back in. Jimin’s fingers dig into his back. “Yes, baby, come on. Just like that, make me think about you for days, weeks—” Jungkook does it again. “Yes.”
Everything around him is Jimin, Jimin, Jimin. He plants his feet a little better then hooks both arms underneath Jimin’s knees, spreading him further. Jimin’s mouth curves into a smile. It disappears when Jungkook starts thrusting. Jimin’s body is like a rag doll, slamming against the window, a constant litany of, “yes baby yes there yes,” falling from his lips.
Sweat is beading on his forehead, running down his face. Jimin’s hands are arched up behind him, pressing against the glass to get enough leverage to thrust back. His stomach muscles ripple. Jungkook’s hands slip on Jimin’s knee, dropping it. Jimin whines at the interruption.
“Fuck,” Jungkook pants, “I want— I can’t—” With a cranky noise, he rearranges his hold and picks Jimin up completely. He heads towards the bed.
“Kook-ah,” Jimin breathes out, sagging against him. “You’re such a caveman. And I can still talk.”
Jungkook dumps Jimin onto the bed. Jimin bounces, giggles. Then he rolls over and crawls to the centre. He looks over his shoulder and Jungkook loses his breath. “Come on, baby,” he says, eyes hooded, all long lines and soft strength.
Jungkook doesn’t need to be told twice – he follows Jimin. He kisses his ass first, then up his back. “You’re so beautiful,” he breathes into Jimin’s ear. He can feel more than see Jimin roll his eyes.
“Save the sucking up for later,” he says. “Right now I need to come. Again.”
Jungkook sits up. Jimin is on his hands and knees in front of him, back arched. His ass glistens. He wants to take longer to appreciate it, but he knows Jimin well enough to realise that’s a bad idea at this point. So he grabs onto Jimin’s hip with one hand and guides himself back in with the other. Jimin lets out a breath, knees widening so his hips open up more.
He sets up a punishing pace again, one hand on Jimin’s hip, the other clutching at his ass to help the rhythm. It’s good. Jimin’s ass is tight around him and his pants are sweet, breathy.
“Come on, baby,” Jimin pants out. “Want more. More.”
Jungkook, desperate, snaps his hips harder but it’s just not right. Jimin is meeting each of his thrusts, but it’s not enough. Scowling, he grips onto Jimin’s shoulder and thrusts.
Jimin’s head hangs down and he whines, loud and long, into the mattress. Jungkook grins. He fucks deep into Jimin and it feels good.
“There, there,” Jimin says, before his words disappear into garbled nonsense. Jimin’s arms give out, then his knees slide out. Jungkook pauses for long enough to plant his knees outside of Jimin’s legs and then just use him. Jimin’s writhing underneath him, whimpering. Jungkook can hear his balls slapping against Jimin’s ass. Jimin’s hands scramble out, fingers clenching in the sheets. His hole clenches around Jungkook.
His hips are moving enough that Jungkook can tell he’s using the friction of the bed to help him come. It just makes him fuck into him even harder.
And then Jimin’s freezing up below him, his ass clenching so tight Jungkook shouts. With a staggered moan, Jimin comes beneath him. Jungkook’s chest is heaving. He stops. One of Jimin’s hands come back to slap him across the chest.
“Keep going,” Jimin grits out, voice weak and muffled.
It doesn’t take long for Jungkook to come. Three, four thrusts and he’s done for, spilling inside the condom.
Spent, he falls to the side, panting. Jimin shuffles, turning his head so they’re facing each other. He smiles. Jungkook smiles back. His head is floating, like he’s in a meditative state. Jimin’s hand reaches out and curls his hair behind his hair.
Then he flicks him in the forehead.
“Ow!” Jungkook yelps, rearing back.
“Don’t fall asleep,” Jimin orders. His eyes are twinkling. “You’ve gotta clean up first.”
“Why do I always have to clean up?” Jungkook whines, but he’s already dragging himself to the bathroom. The condom goes in the bin, then he’s grabbing a towel to rub them both down. Jimin has shifted in the bed, staying far away from the wet patch.
Jungkook sighs at it.
“We can deal with it in the morning,” Jimin says. “C’mere.” He makes grabby hands at Jungkook. Jungkook, grinning, falls into bed with him even though the sun’s barely set.
Jungkook wakes up slowly. He feels his body first, melted like goo into the sheets in that way only good sex allows. He’s surrounded by warmth, blankets heavy on his back. Then sounds filter in – faint music, something classical. He blinks into awareness and smiles, squishing his face into the pillow. Jimin’s sheets are super smooth and feel rich. Maybe he should get something similar for his apartment. He can’t believe Jimin had been sleeping on his starchy sheets when he’d had this.
It occurs to him that he’d never thought about something as boringly domestic as sheets before, but this? This is nice.
Sighing, he rolls to his side and pouts when he sees it empty. The music is still going – Jimin’s probably out there.
He curls his toes and stretches out all of his muscles, from his calves to his neck. He feels sore but good. So, so good. Things between him and Jimin no longer feel fragile. They’d been walking on eggshells around each other for so long that Jungkook can hardly believe they’re back. But they are – it’s what it used to be, but better, because now he’s finally unfucked his emotions and told Jimin how he really feels. And he believes him – otherwise they wouldn’t have had sex, right?
Jungkook spreads out on his back, feet finding the parts of the bed that are cold. He thinks back on the past 24 hours, and frowns. He hadn’t told Jimin he loves him again. What the fuck.
Ready to rectify his mistake, he gets out of bed. His clothes are folded all nicely on top of a set of drawers, so he shimmies back into his sweatpants.
Jimin’s curled up on an armchair, wrapped in a blanket and with a mug cradled in his hands. He’s staring out the window with a small frown on his face but when Jungkook comes out of the bedroom, his eyes dart to his. The frown doesn’t disappear.
“Morning!” Jungkook chirps. “Is that tea? Gimme.” He makes grabby hands at the mug. Before he can get to Jimin and burrow his way into the armchair, Jimin stands up. The blanket falls back onto the couch.
“It’s coffee,” Jimin says.
Jungkook makes a face. “Ew.”
“We need to talk.”
“We do! Let’s make some tea. Also, I love you. I forgot to tell you yester—”
Jungkook blinks. Yesterday it had been Kook-ah, and now they’re back to this? Uneasiness crawls through his gut.
“Yes?” He eyes Jimin cautiously. Jimin’s lips are pressed together so they’re thin. There’s two lines dug into his forehead between his eyebrows.
“We had sex.”
“Yes?” Jungkook says again, this time a lot slower. “It was great.”
“So now that’s done, you can… you know.”
“I know what? I’m confused. What?”
“You can leave.” Jimin’s knuckles on the mug are a stark white. “You don’t have to do this anymore. We had sex, but it won’t be happening again.”
“What?” Jungkook’s chest feels tight tight tight. “I thought it was good. Did you not enjoy it?” He could’ve sworn he’d enjoyed it. He’d come twice, after all.
“That’s not my point,” Jimin says, frustration bleeding into his tone. “My point is that it’s done and it won’t happen again, so you don’t have to keep sticking around and trying to make yourself believe things you obviously don’t.”
“Are you saying it was a mistake?” He feels like he’s five steps behind. It’s not a good feeling. “Then why come onto me in the first place!”
“It was selfish, I know,” Jimin says. His jaw clenches tight for a moment. “But I wanted it at least once more before you leave again.”
“What the fuck is going on!” Jungkook’s hands fly up in the air in frustration. “I’m so confused! Who said I’m leaving? No one’s said that except you! I’m not going anywhere!”
“But you will.” One of Jimin’s arms crosses his front, clutching at his hip. He looks pale, sick. “I know you will.”
Jungkook opens his mouth, then closes it. He wants to scream. Punch a wall. He feels so fucking frustrated but he needs to use his words. Fuck. Fuck.
“For fuck’s sake!” he cries, hands flailing. “What the fuck do I need to do? Fuck!”
Jimin blinks at him.
“You know what? Come on.”
Jungkook grabs Jimin’s wrist. He lets him.
“No, you don’t get to talk anymore! You’re just going to sit in silence until we get to where we’re going, and then you’re going to listen to me and you’re going to stop saying stupid shit. Okay?”
Jimin wrenches his wrist back and glares at him, halfway out the door.
“You don’t have a top on. That’s what I was going to say. You’re going out in the cold half-naked?”
Jungkook pauses. “Oh.” He goes into the bedroom and grabs his jacket, not bothering with a shirt. Jimin is standing next to the door when he returns, tapping his foot and looking pissed.
“You don’t get to invalidate my feelings like that either, you fucking jerk,” Jimin says. “I’ll come with you, but only because I’m choosing to. Rationally. No stupid shit involved.”
Jungkook feels a little less self-righteous than before. But he’s nothing if not stubborn, so he just rolls his eyes and stalks out the door. They take the elevator in silence. Silence reigns until they get into the taxi, where Jungkook gives the address of the flower store.
“What?” Jimin asks. “Why are we going there?”
“No,” Jungkook says, poking a finger at his chest and scowling. “No, you’ve said your piece. Now we can sit in silence until I’ve shown you what I need to, okay?”
Jimin rolls his eyes, crosses his arms and spends the rest of the ride frowning out the window. Jungkook’s in a similar position. When they get to the store, Hoseok’s setting up a sign out front. His face lights up when he sees them together.
“Good morning, love birds! Jiminnie, I wasn’t expecting to see you for a few more hours? Not that I’m complaining, but—”
“Not now, Hobi,” Jimin says, smile strained. “Okay?”
Hoseok’s eyes dart between the two of them, at how they’re standing stiffly two feet away from each other.
“Okay,” he says, bright smile overtaking his face again. “I’ll be inside when you need me, yeah? I’ll brew some tea.”
When the door shuts behind him, Jimin turns to Jungkook. He raises his eyebrows, the movement containing a hell of a lot more attitude than Jungkook would be able to do.
“So?” he says. “Why are we here? What’s this got to do with the stupid shit I think?”
“Okay, fuck, I’m sorry for saying what you think is stupid. And that it’s shit. It’s still wrong, though, and I’m not going back on that, so…”
“Don’t rush me! I wanted this to be a surprise. I had a whole speech planned or whatever and now I’m too cranky to remember it.” He digs in his pocket and finds his keys, then leads Jimin over to the building next door. “So I want you to know that this could’ve been a lot better and romantic or whatever, but you ruined it. And it’s your fault.”
He fits the key into the lock and pushes it open. It’s dark, the front windows frosted so while some light gets in, it’s not much. It’s enough to see the space, though – a reception desk at the front, leading to a more open area behind. It’s not huge, but a few empty desks are set up. One wall clear of anything and painted with whiteboard paint. Bookshelves that are empty, filing cabinets that are also empty.
“What is this?” Jimin breathes. He comes into the office slowly, eyes wide as he looks around. Jungkook shifts nervously, then jerkily starts towards the lights. They come on with a low hum.
“An office. For private investigating, specifically. One a little bit bigger than the back office of the flower store. And more professional.”
Jimin runs his fingers along the reception desk, along the keyboard and monitor that’s already been set up.
“An office,” he repeats.
“Yeeeeep,” Jungkook says, rocking back and forth on his feet. “It needs a sign. And a business name. I didn’t know what to call it, so. It’s nameless. But it’s not open yet, so that’s fine, but it’ll need a name. For this office where we can do private investigating, all professional and stuff. I don’t know what’s really meant to go in here, like desks and computers and stuff, so this is just a start, but we can work it all out later—”
Jungkook’s mouth snaps shut and he has to take a moment to reorder his brain after that spiral down into word vomit territory.
“Yes, we. It’s our office. That’s my desk,” he says, pointing at one along the wall, “and that’s yours next to it. See how it’s set up slightly lower?”
Jungkook can’t read Jimin’s face. He shifts from foot to foot. Jimin takes a breath and walks over to one of the desks, ducking down to check out the drawers underneath. Jungkook bites down on his lip but it doesn’t take long for him to burst.
“So, like, you can arrange your desk however you want. And we can get whatever. I’ve already ordered some better comms tech because using my phone today was just not sustainable, you know, that battery pack was bulky as fuck and I’m sometimes not so great with cords—”
“Kook. Shut up.”
“Yep, okay, yep. Shutting up.” His hands clench at his sides. That feels awkward, though, so he shoves his hands into his pockets instead. That still doesn’t feel great.
Jimin runs his fingers along the wall with the shiny paint.
“Whiteboard wall,” Jungkook says before he can stop himself. Jimin just hums and continues on. He glances down the hallway at the back which leads to a bathroom and a break room, then comes back.
He stops in front of Jungkook and, once again, Jungkook can’t hold it in.
“Do you like it? You hate it, don’t you? I can call my agent and get her to refurb it—”
“You did all this before you went away?” Jimin asks. His brow crinkles slightly.
“Yeah.” Jungkook shrugs, takes his fists out of his pockets, crosses his arms. “Well, I was always coming back, so…” He uncrosses his arms, remembering that he’d read once about how crossed arms make you seem defensive. It’d been in an article Yoongi sent him about body language. That’d been the first point and he’d read up to there, gotten bored, and hadn’t thought of it much since.
“You want to open a private investigating firm here? In Seoul?”
“Well, not really, it’s more like just expanding yours. And it took a while because I did it all legit or whatever. Ethics and stuff. Except for where the money came from, I guess. So you can keep helping cats down from trees but be more legitimate. And comfier. That floor wasn’t the best.”
“If you did all this,” Jimin gestures around the office, “then why’d you leave?”
Jungkook makes a frustrated noise. “Because I always knew I’d be coming back! You’re the only one here who doesn’t believe it. Even Hoseok knows. I wasn’t leaving you. I was just… doing a job for a while. And I like them, so I’m not going to stop, okay, but I was thinking of splitting it up 80/20? So 80 here, and 20 off in fun locations getting to blow shit up, especially since I missed out this time. Not that I cared, because I was just worried about you the whole time, obviously, since I love you, and now I’m ranting again, sorry—”
“Kook,” Jimin says, voice soft and sweet, and then he’s throwing himself at Jungkook. Jungkook stumbles back a step but manages to grab onto Jimin before he slides off. Jimin throws his arms around his neck. He fits his palms beneath Jimin’s legs, corded with muscle. Then they’re kissing.
“You built an office,” Jimin says, punctuating every few words with a kiss, “for me. For us.”
“I didn’t exactly build—”
Jimin pinches the back of his neck and he flinches. “No, shut up, it’s my time to talk.” Jimin draws back, but they’re still close enough to share the same air. “Okay. This isn’t easy for me, okay, but I’m trying. I find it hard to trust anyone. But I also find it especially hard to trust you.”
Jungkook’s chest tightens. “But—”
“No.” Another pinch. “My turn.” He takes a breath and Jungkook can feel it against his torso. “I find it hard to trust and to me, you betrayed that trust. No, don’t say anything. This is how I felt. For years. And you’re a real shit when it comes to emotions, so it’s not exactly surprising that it all imploded but… I want to try and make it work. Properly, this time, with actual communication and no lying and no more assumptions. Okay?”
Jimin’s eyes are blown wide and he looks nervous, scared. Jungkook has no idea why, because his answer is so fucking obvious.
“You want to try?” Jungkook can’t stop the smile spreading across his face. “Properly?”
“I do.” The nerves fade from Jimin’s features and a small smile appears. Then it disappears in a stern look. “But we’re setting rules, okay?”
Jungkook frowns. “I don’t like your rules.”
Jimin rolls his eyes. “There’ll be no no-sex rule, okay?”
Jimin tries to look exasperated with him, but it doesn’t work. He just looks mostly fond, instead. Jungkook loves it.
“I want us to talk,” Jimin says. “Properly. If I’m worried about something or just… whatever, then I want to be able to come to you at any time.”
“I want a rule, too,” Jungkook says. “No assumptions. Yours are always wrong.”
“Hey.” Jimin scowls. “I’m only letting you get away with that because I guess I was wrong, technially, somewhat wrong. But this is the only time I’ll admit that. No more.” He stares Jungkook down until Jungkook rolls his eyes and nods. “Okay, and the third rule is – if you, at any time, want to leave Seoul, and this job, and me…” Jimin takes a deep breath. “You tell me. You don’t stay out of some misguided sense of right and wrong. Okay?”
Jungkook wants to make a joke, wants to say that it’s amazing Jimin is finally admitting he has a sense of right and wrong, but he can see how serious Jimin is about this.
“Okay,” he says softly.
Jimin smiles and it’s so beautiful it makes his heart hurt. His hands slide into the hair at the base of Jungkook’s neck, just stroking there.
“You know what,” Jimin says, “I was ready to suck your dick in here before and give it a real christening. But now I just want to cuddle.”
Jungkook groans, head thunking forward onto Jimin’s shoulder as Jimin giggles. “Why did you have to tell me that?” he whines.
“Well I’m going to keep pretending my baby brother doesn’t have sex—wah!”
Jungkook has his gun out, twisting around so he’s mostly shielding Jimin, who is still clinging on to him like a koala. It’s Hoseok in the doorway.
“You have a gun!” he crows. “I knew it! I knew you were into weird spy shit! You liar, Jiminnie! You lying liar!”
Jungkook, chagrined, puts the gun back.
“What are you doing here?” Jimin asks, voice high-pitched. He hits Jungkook’s shoulder. “Let me down! Hobi, what the fuck!”
“You’re not allowed to be angry at me, you left the door open! And you guys were the ones acting all suspicious earlier. You pretty much invited me to eavesdrop! Oh, and congratulations Jungkookie, I’m glad you’ve finally sorted this mess out. I honestly thought you’d fuck all that tension out weeks ago, but—”
“Hyung!” Jimin stomps over and pushes Hoseok out the door.
“Go get em, tyke!” Hoseok yells over his shoulder, and then Jimin’s slamming the door shut behind him and locking it.
The office is silent.
Then Jungkook bursts out laughing.
“It’s not funny, Kook-ah,” Jimin whines, coming back over. “I can’t believe he heard all that!”
“It is funny,” Jungkook says between giggles. “For once it’s not me being humiliated by someone else. It’s you!”
Jimin smacks him across the chest and it just makes Jungkook giggle more. Giving up, he huffs and crosses the room, going into the breakroom.
“Hey, where’s the coffee machine? If we’re doing this, we need coffee.”
Jungkook’s giggles finally die down and he wrinkles his nose. “No. Coffee is ew. And this is my office.”
“Jungkook,” Jimin says, head popping around the doorway to scowl at him. “Give me my coffee machine or I will beat you over the head with the kettle.”
“Like you could reach.” Jungkook rolls his eyes. Jimin takes a step towards him and Jungkook backpedals wildly. “Yes, fine, a coffee machine. I’ll add it to the list!”
“Good.” Jimin does another loop around the room, smile on his face as he looks at it, glancing back at Jungkook often. “I love this. I really, really do.”
“Good,” Jungkook echoes back, the pride warming his chest. “I love you.”
Jimin snorts. “Gross, that was corny. Gay.”
“Say it back!”
“I was going to say it,” Jimin taunts, “but now you’ve ruined the mood.”
Jungkook gasps. “Say it back!”
“It’s not my fault you’re corny.” Jimin gives him a smug smile.
Jungkook lunges forward, trapping Jimin against the wall when he squeaks and tries to run. But Jungkook is too fast, and Jimin didn’t really try, so they’re pressed up against each other with Jungkook’s hands on the wall on either side of Jimin’s head.
“Say it back,” he whispers.
“No,” Jimin says.
Jungkook drops a kiss on his mouth. “Say it back.”
Jimin raises his eyebrows, presses his lips together and shakes his head.
“No fair!” Jungkook whines. Jimin’s right there though, and all his now. Finally. He darts down and presses another kiss against the side of his lips. “I love you,” he says, then kisses the opposite corner. “I love you.” He kisses the tip of Jimin’s nose. “I love you.” Then one cheekbone. “I love you.”
“This is so lame!” Jimin complains, but he’s not moving. Pink is spreading across his cheeks, down his neck.
“I love you,” Jungkook sing-songs, kissing a quick line down his jaw. “I love—”
“For fuck’s sake,” Jimin growls, grabbing a fistful of hair and forcing their lips together. Despite the start, it’s a soft kiss. Jungkook feels himself melting into Jimin, insides like hot taffy. Jimin exhales into his mouth and it sounds like a sigh. When his tongue darts along Jungkook’s bottom lip, things heat up a bit more. Jungkook’s hands slide off the wall and down his waist, one hand grabbing onto Jimin’s ass. Jimin whines and his hips open up, one leg hooking around Jungkook’s waist.
“Oh shit,” Jungkook says, breaking apart.
“Maybe we will christen this office,” Jimin says, eyes at half-mast, looking dazed and fucked out already.
Jimin blinks and his eyes focus in an instant. “Excuse me? Were you thinking about your weird adopted father while we were hooking up? Jungkook! What the fuck is up with you two!”
“No, no.” Jungkook breaks away, running a hand through his hair and trying not to look at Jimin, because he looks so damn good and Jungkook is just so damn hard. “Well, technically yes, but! He made me promise to tell him the moment we got together finally! He’s invested, okay, and I’m scared of him. He said the moment it happens. And it’s already been several moments. He’ll know! He knows everything!”
Jimin stares at him for a long moment, then pushes off the wall. He straightens out his jacket, muttering angrily, “Maybe this can be the fourth rule. I am not, and will never be, in a relationship with both you and Seokjin. You are to never speak about him or think about him when we’re about to fuck again. Are you kidding me? What the fuck. I can’t even look at you, I’m going to drink some tea with my brother who I don’t have a weird relationship with.”
But even as he leaves, Jimin’s hand trails along Jungkook’s arm and Jungkook feels like fireworks are exploding in his head.
He gets out his phone and dials Seokjin’s emergency number.
“Hey, Seokjin? Guess what...”