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hey siri, whose cat is this?

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Seokjin waits until Yoongi is distracted by his lunch to move past the enforced ring of personal space around his desk.

The masking tape on the floor is all tatterred from the times Seokjin has rolled his chair over it. One might say it defeats the purpose, but Yoongi and Seokjin’s relationship functions thanks to firm groundrules, even if they are constantly broken (mostly by Seokjin).

“Why are you so close to me?” Yoongi immediately asks, hunching protectively over his food.

“I’m just checking what you’re having for lunch.” Seokjin wheels his chair to Yoongi’s other side and cranes his neck to see over his shoulder. “What’s in that?”

“It’s jajangmyeon from downstairs.” Yoongi looks between Seokjin and his food with growing suspicion. “Why?”

Seokjin pulls back and hums. “There’s a stray cat hanging out in the rooftop garden of my building and I don’t know what to feed it. Doing research.”

“Okay?”

“So you eat noodles,” Seokjin says, writing down noodles and underlining it with force. “What else?”

“What are you—oh my god, hyung. I’m not a cat.”

“Yet to be proven.”

Yoongi gestures between them with his chopsticks. “We’re literally talking to each other. We’re having a conversation.”

“Hmmm.” Seokjin scribbles something down and rolls back to his desk. Yoongi just sighs; as far as lunch break conversations go, this is pretty standard. Two weeks ago Seokjin called Yoongi after their morning meeting and watched Yoongi blink at his desk phone until he sighed and picked up. “Yoongi-yah,” Seokjin whispered into the receiver. “I think the ghost of Jackie Chan visited me in my sleep.”

Yoongi leaned around his computer to frown at Seokjin. “Jackie Chan isn’t dead.”

“Then why do I have such a strong urge to neck-slice everybody in this office?”

“I have that, too,” Yoongi had sighed. “I have that too.”

Seokjin groaned and hung up. Then he karate chopped a tear down the middle of the closest bit of paper he could find—which turned out to be Yoongi’s original copy of the week’s data with all his hand-written notes and Seokjin had to buy him two coffees and lunch to make it up to him.

“You do have a cat though, don’t you?” Seokjin asks now, safely back at his own desk. He should go and buy something for his own lunch, but that would mean getting up, and Seokjin doesn’t want to get up. He opens the website for the place downstairs; maybe they do delivery.

Yoongi hums. “Surprisingly, they eat cat food.”

Seokjin gives him a round of golf claps. “You’re a genius, Min Yoongi. This company would crumble without you.”

“I hate you.”

“That’s workplace harassment! I’ll be reporting that to human resources.”

“Oh for fu—”

“Siri, make a note. Min Yoongi, September twenty-second. During lunch he said he hates me, Kim Seokjin, and then he did that thing with his nose like he’s smelling his own feet, which I know he does because I’ve seen it happen three times. Endnote.”

Yoongi throws a paper clip at Seokjin. “Is that how you write all your reports?”

“Yes. I take being head of HR very seriously.”

Yoongi snorts into his noodles and an intern comes over to shyly ask Seokjin for help with work. He closes his order for ₩80,000 worth of side dishes with a wistful sigh before following them to their desk.

 

-

 

The cat appeared on the rooftop one week ago.

After Yoongi’s helpful—if not terribly bland—advice, Seokjin bought dry food and two bowls and put them side by side next to his tomato plant. The cat was hesitant at first, but Seokjin watched from the other side of the garden as it approached the food and finally lay down in front of it to eat. Seokjin sent a blurry photo to Yoongi and got a thumbs up in return.

When news of the cat reaches Jungkook and Taehyung, it takes them less than fifteen minutes to arrive on Seokjin’s doorstep, begging to meet it.

“Have you given it a name, yet?” asks Taehyung once they get to the roof. The cat is keeping a safe distance, staring at the younger boys with suspicion. Seokjin thinks it’s a smart cat.

“No, I’m just referring to it in noun form,” Seokjin says with a shrug. “No room for confusion. If I say, ‘hey, I’m going upstairs to feed the cat’ then nobody’s going to ask questions. But if I say, ‘I’ll be right back, just gotta feed Yujin’ people will think I’m harbouring a fugitive.”

Jungkook pinches the bridge of his nose. “Gotta say, hyung, I don’t think anyone would come to that conclusion.”

“It’s not a risk I’m willing to take.”

Taehyung gasps and grips Seokjin’s shoulder. “Let’s call it Egg.”

The cat chooses that moment to perk up and move closer. Seokjin looks at Taehyung in horror; his friend looks back with a grin like he’s just discovered fire for the first time. On his other side, Jungkook is all wide eyes and a fly catching mouth.

“Alright,” Seokjin sighs, watching the cat rub its face against Taehyung’s outstretched palm. “Egg it is.”

 

-

 

A few days later, Seokjin comes home from work and takes the elevator up to the roof with a jug full of water and finds a new bowl of cat food sitting right outside the door: it’s bright green, and looks a lot more expensive than the one Seokjin bought. The fish and biscuits inside are mostly finished and there’s a bowl of water next to it, as well.

“What’s this?” he says to himself, crouching down to poke the bowl. Is someone else feeding the cat? The cat that Seokjin just assumed didn’t have an owner even though it’s on the rooftop of an inner-city building with no access points besides the elevator, which must be operated by a human? Ridiculous.

He stomps around the garden, calling for Egg and brandishing his jug of water. He finds the cat hiding behind some old garden furniture he starts to loudly interrogate it, but it’s a cat, so it can’t give him any information.

“Fine,” Seokjin huffs, “but I’m still giving you extra water because it’s going to be really warm tomorrow. I love you.”

Egg hisses at him. Seokjin nods like he was expecting it.

He doesn’t think about it much over the next few days, if he’s honest, but when he gets to the rooftop on Sunday morning to find a cat bed next to the green bowls, he pulls his phone out and speed dials Jungkook.

He picks up on the second ring. “Hey hy—”

“Have you been feeding Egg?”

There’s some rustling like Jungkook is tumbling off a bed full of chip packets. “Have I… hyung, I haven’t been feeding egg to anyo—ooohhhhhhh. You mean the cat. No, I haven’t. Why would I be doing that? Maybe it was Taehyungie-hyung.”

“Unless he’s been stealing your spare keycard again, then I doubt it.” Seokjin nudges the cat bed with his foot and pouts. “Looks like we have a situation.”

“What kind of situation?” asks Jungkook. “Code green, yellow or blue?”

“Are you free tomorrow? I need you to lurk on my rooftop for a few hours.”

Jungkook whines. “Hyung, come on, you said you would honour the code system.”

“I don’t care about the codes,” Seokjin hisses. Egg is now drinking from the fancy green bowl instead of his flimsy Daiso one, and it’s hurting his feelings.

“Hyung,” Jungkook says, scandalised.

“Sorry, Jungkook-ah, I didn’t mean it. It’s just that someone else is feeding Egg and now they’ve started setting up real estate, too. I need you to find out who’s doing this so I can confront them.”

There’s muffled silence from the other end for a moment before Jungkook says, “Taehyungie-hyung wants to come. Also, we want to be there for the fight.”

“There isn’t going to be a fight. I’m a reasonable adult.”

“Right.” Jungkook sounds unconvinced. “Buy us snacks. We’ll be there at nine.”

 

-

 

jungkook (9:45am)

still nothing

seokjin (9:50am)

when i said updates, i didn’t mean every 15 minutes

 

taehyung (9:53am)

hyung your toilet is blocked

seokjin (9:55am)

no it’s not

 

taehyung (9:56am)

it’s definitely blocked

 

jungkook (9:57am)

hyung you bought the wrong honey butter chips

seokjin (9:58am)

i’m muting this chat

call me if it’s URGENT

taehyung fix whatever you did and /please/ eat a vegetable once in a while

taehyung (10:19am)

hyung careful when u get home the bathroom floor is covered in water

 

jungkook (11:03am)

old lady spotted

no interaction with cat

 

jungkook (11:29am)

the cat is eating your food hyung!!!! it’s a win

jungkook (12:34pm)

our snacks are depleted. very hot today. we r wasting away.

 

taehyung (12:46pm)

what are the symptoms of heat stroke

taehyung (12:49pm)

nvm he got up

 

jungkook (2:00pm)

final log… no sign of life…

just two guys and a cat, hangin out

hey hyung is cat food toxic for humans

seokjin (2:09pm)

do nOT EAT THE CAT FOOD

JEON JUNGKOOK

 

taehyung (2:13pm)

[sent image]

he just threw up into someone’s tomato plant kekeke

 

-

 

“The cat is having an affair,” Seokjin announces.

Yoongi keeps his attention on the coffee pod machine but his head is tilted towards Seokjin, so he continues.

“Someone else is feeding Egg and providing them with luxury bedding. My sources were unable to catch the culprit, but it’s all very suspicious.”

“By sources, you mean those two university students who mooch off you, right?”

“Yeah.”

Yoongi hums and bangs the side of the machine when it stutters; probably harder than necessary; he strongly dislikes coffee pods as a concept.

“Have you considered that the person feeding… Egg… is its owner?”

Coffee finally starts dribbling into Seokjin’s ‘No Coffee, No Workee’ mug and Yoongi hands it to Seokjin once it’s full.

“I have,” admits Seokjin, accepting his pod juice with a smile. “But I saw the look in its eyes the first day and that cat belongs to no-one but itself.”

“Which cat?” Jaebum struts over and leans between them to slamdunk a decaf pod into the machine. Yoongi doesn’t bother hiding his disgust.

“Garfield,” says Seokjin.

“Isn’t he that white guy’s cat?” asks Jaebum.

“That’s what they want you to think.” He takes a long sip of his coffee and doesn’t elaborate. The coffee machine gurgles into the awkward silence; Yoongi’s shoulders are starting to shake with the effort of holding back laughter at Jaebum’s look of discomfort.

“Cool, well…” Jaebum takes his mug with a tight smile and scurries back around the corner.

Yoongi lets his laughter out in one sharp exhale. “Can I go back to my desk now, hyung?”

“Nobody’s forcing you to be here. Begone, slacker.”

Yoongi flips him off as he goes.

 

 

.--- .. -- .. -. / ... .- -.-- ...

 

 

Jimin steps into the apartment and drags his feet to the couch, dumping his bag somewhere along the way and falling face-first into the cushions with a groan. A gentle hand instantly settles onto the back of his head.

“Bad day?” asks Hoseok.

“Mmf.” Jimin worms forward and squishes his cheek atop Hoseok’s thigh. “We had to put one of the dogs down today.”

Hoseok makes a noise of sympathy and starts stroking Jimin’s hair. He has to scrunch his nose against the tears threatening to resurface. God, he’d even cried on the metro because he saw a woman carrying a chihuahua in her handbag and it just looked so happy and why can’t all dogs be happy and alive all the time? It’s not fair.

“I was really rooting for Paendeo.”

Hoseok makes a wounded noise. “Oh no—the dalmatian?”

“Yeah,” Jimin sniffs wetly. “We had two people show interest this week but neither of them came back and then he turned out to be sicker than we thought. Just sucks. Wish we could adopt all of them.”

“And then we’d have no money and an apartment full of random animals,” Hoseok says teasingly.

“Doesn’t sound so bad,” mumbles Jimin.

“Ah, Jiminie,” sighs Hoseok. “Your heart's too big for your little body.”

Jimin pinches Hoseok’s thigh and he yelps. “My body isn’t little.”

“It’s okay, this is a safe space.”

“Hyung, stop,” Jimin laughs softly, rolling onto his back. Hoseok looks down from the book he’s reading and makes a goofy face at him which Jimin returns. It helps. Hoseok is so good.

He must have been shooting a video before Jimin got home because his eyelids are covered in a beautiful gradient of blue, pink and gold and his cheekbones shimmer in the lamplight. There are lines of rhinestones above each eyebrow and his blond hair curls gently over his forehead. The grandeur of it clashes with the old sweater he’s wearing, but Jimin loves that the best: the easy balance Hoseok strikes between sharp and soft, relaxed and ready for anything.

Maybe he should ask for a mini-makeover after dinner to help get his mind off of things. Something about the rhythm of makeup brushes skittering along his eyelids and cheekbones calms Jimin down like nothing else.

“If it makes you feel better,” Hoseok says after a few minutes of quiet, “I checked on Billy just before I had dinner, since I knew you’d be getting back later. I’m guessing you didn’t go up this morning?”

“Oh, yeah I was—shit, I totally forgot. Thanks, hyung.” Jimin narrows his eyes. “I thought you were scared of him?”

“It’s a cat, Jiminie.” Hoseok rolls his eyes like he hadn’t screamed and hidden behind a plant the first time he followed Jimin to the rooftop to meet the stray cat. “And it was hot today, I just wanted to see if he had enough water.”

“And? How was he? Did he eat the food? Was he using the bed?”

“I didn’t actually see him, but his food was mostly eaten and the bed was unoccupied—” Jimin whines sadly and wriggles like a fish out of water, kicking his legs hard enough to displace some pillows “—but I’m sure he will use it tonight. It’s the best cat bed ever.”

“Why does he hate me?” Jimin pouts.

“He doesn’t hate you, Jiminie,” Hoseok coos. He puts his book down and pulls Jimin up into his arms, tucking him into his chest and rocking back and forth. He smells like the rosewater setting spray he always uses. “He just needs a few more days to warm up. You only found him a week ago, give it time.”

“Sure, hyung,” Jimin says softly. If he stays tucked into the circle of Hoseok’s arms for much longer then he’ll really start crying again, and he’s too tired for it. He pats Hoseok’s hip and straightens up. “Thanks for checking up on him.”

Hoseok leans in to kiss his hair. “Anything for my Minnie.”

“Gay,” Jimin gags, rolling off the couch with a squeaky laugh at Hoseok’s expression of horror, perfectly enhanced by the makeup.

“Says the man who wears skinny jeans and Chelsea boots to work!”

“Hey, they’re fashionable.”

“You work at an animal shelter. It’s impractical.”

“You’re not allowed to talk to me about practical fashion, Jung Hoseok,” Jimin calls from the kitchen. “I saw the shoes you bought last week. They look like something you’d wear into a quarantine lab. And Namjoon-hyung spent our entire lunch break trying to sell me on pants with more than four pockets and shoes that look like they belong next to the welcome mat of a log cabin, but you know what? I’m not interested. I know who I am.”

He walks back to the couch with a bottle of sparkling water in hand. “Big heart,” he prompts, holding it up like a toast.

Hoseok rolls his eyes with a smile. “Bigger butt,” he finishes.

Jimin cheers and takes a swig of the water like it was top shelf vodka.

They end up curled together on the couch watching some random home improvement show and cursing out the designers for their choice in wallpaper.

“If you ever suggest bright green for our kitchen then you’ll be kicked out,” Hoseok says, and Jimin believes him. He falls asleep with his shoes still on and wakes up to a blanket draped over his body and his boots lined up neatly by the door.

 

-

 

It’s still early enough that the air bites when Jimin steps out onto the rooftop. He pushes the small metal chair between the door and its frame so he doesn’t get locked up here (which has happened too many times).

The green bowl he brought from the shelter is more or less in the same spot he left it on the weekend, and to his delight, the food has been finished.

However.

There’s a plastic bowl sitting a few feet away, filled with water on one side and dry biscuits on the other. Jimin narrows his eyes at it. He didn’t see that last time. Did Hoseok bring it up?

Jimin makes a note to ask later, then he tips those biscuits out into a nearby flowerbed, because they look like the cheap stuff, and Billy deserves better.

He starts tapping his nails on the side of his green bowl and calling for Billy, scanning the rooftop. It’s not very big, but there are several large pots and Mrs. Yang’s herb garden off to the left, where Jimin often finds Billy curled up, asleep by the mint and basil.

It takes a minute, but eventually the scraggly grey cat comes padding over from his spot behind a tomato plant.

Jimin’s face splits into a grin and he stays crouched down, totally still save for the hand he extends towards the cat. He still doesn’t let Jimin pat him for more than a few seconds, but that’s okay. It’s progress.

The first day he found Billy, he was thin and skittish, and wouldn’t even come close enough for Jimin to see whether he was wearing a collar or not. Jimin prides himself on being good with animals—it is his job, after all—so every extra second Billy chooses to stay close feels like a victory.

“I brought you breakfast, baby,” Jimin says, pouring his (superior) biscuits into the (superior) bowl and filling up the water. “You look good today. Did you like the fish?”

Billy meows at Jimin and he clutches his heart.

“That’s good. I’ll bring you some more later, okay? I have to go to work now but I’ll come and see you soon. Stay out of the sun!”

Jimin goes in for another pat but Billy sidesteps it lightning-fast. He’s eyeing the biscuits like he’s waiting for Jimin to leave, so Jimin laughs quietly and heads for the door. He only leaves once he’s seen Billy lie down in front of the bowl to eat and has taken a photo.

The elevator is empty when he steps in and Jimin leans against the back wall, taking his phone out to send the photo to Namjoon.

 

minnie (8:04am)

[sent image]

He’s eating!!!!

monie (8:05am)

I love him!!!!

He’s looking a bit chubby how much are you feeding him?

 

Jimin scoffs at his phone. He’s busy typing something about not fat-shaming the cat and appreciating his choice to become a round boy, when the elevator pings and comes to a stop. They’re on the 16th floor, which is two above Jimin’s and also—Jimin’s breath catches in his chest and he frantically fixes his hair and adjusts his posture to seem a little more casual, but also sexy and effortless, just in case. 

The doors open to reveal the very person Jimin was hoping to see.

He doesn’t let the giddy relief show on his face—he needs to look just disinterested enough, like this wasn’t planned. Not that it was. It just happens to be the time people leave for work. Anyway.

Colgate Commercial looks up from his own phone as he steps into the elevator. He’s wearing sleek business clothes that show off his mile-long legs and impossible waist—Jimin’s favourite outfit, after the soft sweaters and ball caps—and he smiles the second he meets Jimin’s eye.

“We have to stop meeting like this,” he says with a wink. Jimin rolls his eyes in response, but he’s fighting off a grin.

This is how their conversations always start: with a pick up line so recycled it could power a small city.

Sometimes they’re so creative that Jimin has to take a second to appreciate them. He’s clapped once or twice in the past (that is to say, the six weeks they’ve been playing this weird game of gay elevator chicken), and some have even made him keel over in laughter.

Those are the best, because they make Colgate Commercial—or, as Jimin finally found out last week, Seokjin—smile even wider and laugh along, like he’s not used to people laughing at his jokes. It’s so cute.

The other people in the elevator aren’t usually as appreciative, but Jimin doesn’t care about them.

“You’re to blame as much as me,” quips Jimin. He’s so glad he put his work clothes on before going to the rooftop instead of risking it in his pyjamas. The hottest guy Jimin has ever met does not need to see him in his tattered duck pyjama pants. Unless he’s taking them off.

“I resent that. I’ve never done anything wrong in my life,” Seokjin says.

Jimin snickers. The elevator is slowing down for his floor. Maybe he should pretend he’s going to the lobby, or going out to get coffee, just to get another few minutes, just to bask in the happy glow he gets from his stupid crush. But he didn’t bring his wallet and he needs to leave for work in the next ten minutes or he’ll be late and Namjoon will give him another lecture about the most efficient way to use public transport.

The doors start to close and Jimin dives forward to press the open button. “Wow that was fast,” he says. God he’s so obvious, it’s embarrassing.

“Yeah, elevators these days are really efficient. Travelling two floors in seconds. What’ll be next? Taking us to the moon?”

Jimin levels him with a stare that Seokjin returns. The doors close again and Jimin jabs the button to open them, maintaining eye contact the whole time.

“Well, have a nice day,” he says, finally stepping out.

“I will now,” Seokjin says. Jimin doesn’t miss the way his eyes dip down to his feet and travel back up to meet his eyes. He winks just before the doors close and Jimin feels like his heart is racing out of his chest.

It’s so dumb. He’s flirted and been flirted with so many times in his life, but something about the stupidly broad guy from two floors above, who gave himself a bad dye job last week because he, “Thought it would be funny” just gets under Jimin’s skin like nobody else.

He power walks down the corridor and re-enters the apartment with a quacking-shriek that makes Hoseok yelp in shock.

“Jiminie, what the fuck?” He turns to Jimin to show a streak of liquid eyeliner across his cheekbone. “I’m filming.”

“Sorry, hyung.” He’s not sorry. He sighs dreamily. “I saw him again.”

All trace of anger in Hoseok’s face disappears and he takes the camera off the tripod and points it at Jimin. “The audience wants to know what he was wearing.”

“A white button down tucked into navy slacks.”

“Delicious. What line did he use?”

Jimin deepens his voice. “We have to stop meeting like this.

Hoseok turns the camera back around to film himself swooning back into the couch. Jimin giggles; he feels like someone just hooked him up to an IV filled with raspberry soda; he could float away.

Now, Jimin is usually a man of action—he could easily turn his dial up to two hundred and watch Seokjin melt to his knees right there on the elevator floor. But he’s stubbornly waiting for Seokjin to make the first move and as a result, he’s been waiting for over a month, and it seems like the trend is continuing because neither of them have dared to pushed past the odd jokes and prolonged eye contact. It’s starting to feel like an itch under Jimin’s skin.

His brooding is interrupted by Hoseok clapping once from the couch. “Don’t you have to leave for work?” he calls.

“Oh, shit.”

 

-

 

Jimin gets to the shelter two minutes before nine o’clock.

He had to jog the last fifty metres, but it’s worth it to catch Namjoon with his phone out, ready to text Jimin something snarky about his chronic lack of punctuality. Namjoon isn’t even his boss. He just likes being an asshole sometimes. It’s something they have in common.

Namjoon looks up as the bell above the door rings through the waiting room. “Sorry we’re cl—oh my god. I can’t believe my eyes.”

“Believe it, baby,” Jimin sings, twirling like a ballerina to reach the front desk. He ends his dance with a wink and a pinch to Namjoon’s cheek. The wall clock ticks over to nine and Jimin punches in with enthusiasm. This feels good. Maybe he should be on time to work more often.

“What’s gotten into you this morning?” Namjoon asks, following Jimin through to the back office. He gasps. “You saw elevator guy again, didn’t you?”

Jimin smirks. “I don’t kiss and tell.”

“You KISSED HIM?” Namjoon yelps and—did he just choke on his own tongue? Jimin looks over his shoulder and—no, he’s still standing. Good. Jimin did a first aid course a few months ago but he can’t remember anything except how to put someone’s arm in a sling, and that’s great, but it isn’t very helpful if said person is also choking.

“I wish,” Jimin pouts. He collapses into the ratty old couch next to the fridge. “How many times do we have to ‘run into each other’”—he grimaces as he makes air quotes with his fingers—“before he gets the hint and asks me out or pins me against the wall of the elevator and gets those goddamn pillow lips all over mine? It’s been weeks. I’m ready, Namjoonie-hyung. I’m ripe for the picking.”

Namjoon scrunches his nose with a smile, but he doesn’t look up from the tablet in his hands. “Have you considered asking him out?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Jimin scoffs. “What if he rejects me?”

“Why the hell would he reject you?”

Jimin pouts and shrugs his shoulders. When it doesn’t get a reaction, he huffs, long and drawn out.

Namjoon sighs and looks up. “You’re the most attractive person I’ve ever met in my life,” he says in a monotone.

“Aside from Hoseokie-hyung.”

“Yeah, aside fr—hey,” Namjoon whines, blushing as Jimin claps gleefully. “You can’t do that.”

“I just did.” Jimin stands up to boop Namjoon’s tiny little nose. It’s cute that he thinks his Jupiter-sized crush on Jimin’s roommate is a secret. “Come on, let's go and say good morning to the kids.”

By kids, Jimin means one bearded dragon, two parakeets, a rat, four cats, and three dogs. He tries not to look at the empty kennel in the far right corner where Paendeo used to sleep, but his eyes are drawn to it like a magnet. Namjoon notices and puts a clumsy arm around his shoulders.

“He’s in a better place,” Namjoon says quietly.

“Yeah, I know. Still hurts.”

“It does.” Namjoon moves over to the reptile tank and pulls Bindie out with a smile. She blinks and wiggles, settling happily against Namjoon’s chest and clinging to his shoulder. “But that just means you loved him. And that’s what he needed the most. That’s why he was here.”

Jimin nods. He pulls on some gloves and begins to clean bird shit off the floor to distract himself from the overwhelming urge to cry because if he starts, he won’t stop, and Namjoon never seems to know what to do with a Crying Jimin. So he decides to spare his friend. This time.

 

 

- .... . / -.-. .... . .-.. ... . .-

 

 

“Fuck,” groans Seokjin, pressing his face into his hands as the miniature basketball rolls sadly back towards him. He hasn’t landed a shot in almost twenty minutes.

He’s a failure.

He can’t get Egg to like him.

He can’t level up on Maple Story because there’s this one player who keeps following him around, distracting him and flinging insulting messages at him and Seokjin is pretty sure they’re like, twelve, and they’re better than him.

And he can’t act like a normal person around the hottest guy he’s ever met.

He spent less than a minute in the elevator with Chelsea Boots this morning and it was enough to make him sweat through his shirt. He had pit stains when he got to work. Pit stains! Yoongi made sure to point it out like the asshole he is, and Seokjin frantically covered himself like a maiden who’d accidentally flashed their ankle in front of a nobleman.

Seokjin met Chelsea Boots—known to the government as Park Jimin—just over a month ago.

It was a humid day in August and Seokjin was pressed up against the back of his building’s elevator, arms folded awkwardly against his body as more and more people kept getting in, like it was some sort of clown car.

Seokjin was about to close his eyes and dissociate until they reached his floor when suddenly from his right came a spluttering, airy sound—kind of like someone was letting air out of a balloon in sporadic bursts, because that’s a fun thing to do.

Strange noise to hear in an elevator, though.

Seokjin looked out the corner of his eye to find one of God’s greatest creations standing close enough that Seokjin could see the freckles along his nose and the ghost of a third earlobe piercing.

He was tanned, blond, and gorgeous (and definitely new in the building because Seokjin would remember seeing someone like that). A quick scan of his body revealed sinfully tight jeans and Chelsea boots, the sight of which made a new wave of sweat break out along Seokjin’s skin.

The weird balloon noise turned out to be laughter. Directed at Seokjin.

“At least let me in on the joke,” Seokjin said quietly. He could feel blood pooling into his ears because he always wore his nerves like a bad haircut, obvious and unfortunate—but he held Chelsea Boots’ stare like it wasn’t affecting him.

“You look how I feel.”

“Hot and bothered?” Seokjin asked with a cheeky smirk. The elevator stopped and three people got out.

“Hmm.” Chelsea Boots looked him over with dangerous eyes. “Something like that.”

The elevator stopped at the fourteenth floor and he got out before Seokjin could say anything else. He caught a glimpse of the guy looking back at him with a smile dancing along his perfect mouth before the doors closed entirely.

“Fuck me,” he said on an exhale.

(The old lady standing to his left hadn’t really appreciated it.)

It’s been almost two months since then, and they’ve still only been interacting in sixty-second bursts. Sometimes alone, sometimes with other people awkwardly sharing the elevator.

Seokjin starts twirling his pen; he’s supposed to be responding to emails but stewing over his social short-comings is a better use of his time.

He never lets it show—always quick with a joke to distract from the rocky foundations of his smile—but every time he sees Jimin, Seokjin’s skin still feels like it’s going to fall off from how nervous he is. But it’s like, a good kind of nervous. Horny nervous? I have finally found my equal nervous. Something like that.

He hasn’t told anyone about his crush because he likes to keep a lot of things to himself, despite what his friends and coworkers might think. Well. Maybe he keeps the important things to himself. He’s happy to discuss the bodily aftermath of eating too many spicy noodles or his recurring dream about a beluga whale trying to teach him to tapdance. Hyejin from finance thinks it represents his aversion to risk. Seokjin thinks she might be onto something.

“Jin-hyung. Chan wants to know if you got his email.” Yoongi leans his hip against Seokjin’s desk and resets the mini basketball. He gets it in the hoop on the first go. Seokjin pouts.

“I don’t know, probably,” says Seokjin. He clicks around his inbox and—yep, there it is. Under an email about next week’s Dogs on Ice show times that Seokjin hurriedly files away for later before Yoongi sees. “Tell him I’ll get to it after the meeting.”

“What meeting?”

“Ours. I know you’re free until two o’clock, I checked your calendar.”

“I told you to stop doing that.”

Seokjin stands with a clap. “Let’s go. There’s something important I need to discuss with you.”

 

-

 

~*~ Kim Seokjin’s Grand Plan to Win Back Egg’s Affection ~*~

[let the record state that Min Yoongi is an unwilling participant. he was threatened with a six hour training day if he didn’t help come up with ideas]

  1. interpretive dance???
  2. come up with a new name for the cat
  3. let yoongi nap on company time
  4. buy cat treats
  5. move my bed onto the roof to show egg that i understand them
  6. sacrifice jungkook

[after an hour of deliberation, we have decided that option number four is the best way forward. let the record state once more that seokjin put up a good fight for number 6, but yoongi said it was, quote, ‘inhumane and illegal’. seokjin thinks he is boring and wants that in the minutes, too.]

 

 

-... --- --- - ... / ... - .- -.--

 

 

Jimin is sitting in the office playing games on his phone when he hears the front door open.

"Good morning," he hears Namjoon say. "Or, well. Afternoon."

"Hello," comes another voice. Jimin pauses his game. "This is the animal shelter, right?“

Jimin sits up so quickly he displaces several couch pillows. He knows that voice. He flings his phone into the couch and stumbles over to the full length mirror behind the door.

Hair, great. Shirt, covered in cat hair but otherwise okay. He turns around and looks back over his shoulder and, yep—ass, great, but he didn't need to check to know that. He hikes his jeans up for effect, anyway.

He starts walking down the main corridor, trying to quieten the sound of his boots on the linoleum by walking toe to heel like he’s a burglar from The Sims.

"It is!” says Namjoon. “What can I help you with?"

"I was actually looki—oh!" Seokjin's eyes almost bug out of his head when Jimin comes into view.

"Fancy seeing you here," Jimin says haughtily, beating him to the punch.

It's like a film of plastic is being pulled away as Jimin watches Seokijn's expression shift from quietly polite and shy, to something a little more familiar: eyes shining and lips pursed around the set up of a joke.

“You’ve definitely used that one before,” he says with a smirk. “No double dipping.”

“Aw, but I’m not as creative as you,” Jimin pouts dramatically. “Give me something to work with.”

“Hmm, how about: twice in one day? That’s new.”

Jimin giggles into his hand and Seokjin’s eyes crinkle at the corners.

Namjoon looks between them with a confused expression before his eyes zero in on the way Jimin is peacocking, twirling his rings around his fingers and leaning all soft against the counter, and his eyes turn wide in understanding.

"Namjoon-hyung," Jimin says sickly sweet. "Wasn't there something you had to do? Urgently?"

"Oh yeah. Yeah, I have to... give Bindie a bath.” He pats the lizard still clinging to his shoulder. Jimin sighs internally; reptiles don't needs baths. 

Luckily, Seokjin's reptile knowledge seems to be below average so he just nods and says, "Sounds slippery."

"Uh," Namjoon says. Jimin tries to subtly jerk his head towards the back rooms and Namjoon does this awkward laugh-wave-finger-gun mess of a goodbye before hurrying out of sight.

"He seems nice," says Seokjin. There's an echoing crash from the back and an "I'm okay!" that makes Seokjin smirk and raise an eyebrow. "He's in charge of animals? Real life ones?"

"Yeah," Jimin says solemnly. “He takes better care of them than he does himself, really. Some days I feel like I’m taking care of Namjoon-hyung first, animals second.”

“And I'm sure you do a wonderful job," Seokjin says. It could be a joke, but it’s not. It sounds earnest and sincere, and suddenly Jimin doesn't know what to do with his hands. This is the longest conversation they've ever had. Where do they go now?

Luckily, it seems Seokjin is just as perceptive as he pretends to be. He claps his hands and rubs them together. "I'm here on a mission, and I need your help.”

Jimin drapes himself over the countertop and props his chin up with a hand. “Go on.”

"I need the best cat treats you have."

Jimin snorts before he can stop himself, but for once, Seokjin doesn't seem to be in on the joke. The set of his shoulders have drooped slightly and his ears are turning redder by the second. Jimin straightens up with a more neutral face. “Oh, you're serious. I mean. This is only an animal shelter. We don't actually sell that stuff?"

"What?" Seokjin says in a tiny voice, looking around the waiting room like some cat treats will magically pop out of the air conditioning vents. "But my friend told me…"

"How much do you trust your friend?" Jimin says around a laugh.

"More than I should," Seokjin sighs. "But hey, he led me here, to you. So maybe I owe him thanks." He winks gently and it makes Jimin feels stupid and fuzzy and just a little bit horny. More than a bit.

“I’m certainly grateful for your friend,” he says, low and smooth.

Seokjin reels back with a dramatic gasp. “Honey, are you having an affair?”

“Oh!” Jimin clutches his chest. “I never wanted you to find out. Please don’t leave me.”

“Forty years of marriage, and you run off with my best friend?”

“Forty years? What are we, seniors?” Jimin whispers, leaning in close.

“It’s a round number, just roll with it,” Seokjin hisses. His voice goes back to a wail of despair. “Ah, Jimin-ssi, how can I ever forgive you?”

Jimin tries and fails to hold back his giggles and Seokjin’s face lights up in return. It’s so stupid. The way they talk to each other—all smokes and mirrors with odd interjections of sincere emotion—it’s enough to give someone whiplash. But Jimin loves it. He never knows what Seokjin is going to say next. He doesn’t know much about him, where he works or what he likes to eat on Sunday mornings, but more than ever Jimin desperately wants to change that.

“I can see you thinking,” Seokjin says with wide eyes, like he can literally see into Jimin’s brain. “I hope it’s about where to get cat treats from.”

Right. The cat. Jimin plasters on a smile. “What does your cat usually like to eat?”

“Ah, yes. My cat,” Seokjin says shiftily. “They like… biscuits.”

“O-kay…” Jimin says, when it’s obvious Seokjin isn’t going to elaborate. “Like, human food kind of biscuits? Or dry food?.”

“Dry food?”

“Is that a question or your answer?”

“It’s my answer.”

Jimin nods. This wasn’t the turning point in the conversation he was hoping for, but he likes animals, and he loves cats, so he’ll take it.

“Well, you can get cat treats at some convenience stores, but there’s a pet store three streets over if you want to get the good kind,” Jimin says. “Here, I’ll give you the address.” He leans around the front desk partition to find a notepad, but then he has a better idea.

Six weeks is long enough.

He hands his phone to Seokjin and gives him his best smile. Seokjin blinks a little at him before blinking at his phone.

“Why don’t you just give me your number?” Jimin says sweetly. “Then I can text it to you.”

For once, Seokjin doesn’t have a smart retort. He just says, “Okay, sure” in a small voice before gently taking Jimin’s phone. Jimin watches him type his number in and his brain immediately supplies him with no less than six uses for Seokjin’s long, slighty crooked fingers. Jimin takes a deep breath and looks around the room.

“Here you go,” Seokjin finally says, handing over the phone. Their hands brush when Jimin takes it back, and Jimin would be lying if he said his heart rate didn’t spike at the contact. He hurriedly sends the map location to Seokjin’s phone and watches in delight as Seokjin opens the message to show that he got it.

“Well, I should probably get going. I told my manager I was taking an extended lunch break to visit my grandma in hospital, but I still have to be back for a meeting at 3.”

“Oh, no,” Jimin says. “Is she okay?”

“Who? My grandma? Yeah she’s fine. Probably watching infomercials in her house by the beach and eating digestives.” Seokjin sighs fondly. “I miss her. Anyway.” He holds his phone up. “Thanks for this, Jimin. I owe you.”

Jimin preens. “I’ll hold you to that.”

“See you tomorrow?” Seokjin says as he walks to the door. “Usual place?”

“Usual place,” Jimin laughs and gives him a thumbs up. The bubbly-soda of his bloodstream feels like it’s been shaken hard enough to push his head off his shoulders and splatter his boy-crazy brains onto the waiting room walls.

Jimin is completely useless for the rest of his shift, just smiling dopily while he grooms one of the cats. Namjoon huffs about it, but he doesn’t actually get mad. Jimin loves him very much.

 

 

--- -. / -.. ..- .-. .. -. --. / ... . -..-

 

 

Seokjin gets home and quickly trades his stuffy office clothes for a hoodie and sweatpants. Then he takes the over-priced cat treats out of his bag and heads to the roof.

Maybe after he wins Egg’s affection he’ll make too much kimchi jjigae and eat all of it while watching the saddest, sappiest drama he can find. No human interaction. It sounds like a plan.

When the elevator doors open, however, the plan is instantly cancelled.

Jimin looks up from his phone with wide eyes. “Oh. Hey.”

“Hey,” Seokjin responds with a genuine smile. He goes to press the rooftop button but it’s already illuminated. He leans against the opposite wall and looks Jimin up and down, notices he’s still in the clothes he wore to work.

If he’s being honest, he’s too tired for their routine, but maybe seeing Jimin laugh will give him an energy boost. “Three times in one day. Coming off a little strong, don’t you think?”

It works a charm: Jimin ducks his head with a breathy laugh. “I think you’ll find I was here first.”

“Ah. You make a very good point.”

“I know.” Seokjin raises an eyebrow at that. Jimin raises both of his in response, cocky and attractive. Damnit. “Did you find the cat treats?”

Seokjin holds the bag up like a trophy as they step out of the elevator. “I sacrificed today’s matcha latte to pay for them.”

Jimin doesn’t laugh like he’s supposed to.

“Why did you bring those to the roof?” he asks, suddenly very serious. Seokjin feels like he’s done something wrong.

“I’m… they’re for the cat.” Seokjin looks between Jimin and the bag. “It’s—the mission?”

Jimin stops walking and his eyes go very round. “Oh my god.”

“What?”

Jimin frantically reaches into the shopping bag hanging off his arm and pulls out a tin of cat food.

“What’s th—“ Seokjin gasps and points at Jimin. “It’s YOU!”

“Oh my god,” Jimin says again.

They stare at each other like they’re in a mexican standoff. Then they both bolt for the door at the same time, getting stuck in the doorway for a second before Jimin bursts out first. Damn his tiny, beautiful body.

“Egg!” shrieks Seokjin, at the same time Jimin calls, “Billy!”

“Billy?” Seokjin says incredulously. “What kind of name is that?”

“Coming from someone who called a cat egg!”

“Hey, I didn’t choose the name.”

“Oh, did the cat ask you to call him that?” Jimin snorts. He grabs the fancy metal bowl and starts tapping it. “Billy, dinner time! I have your favourite!”

“No, I have your favourite.” Seokjin tears the bag of treats open with such gusto that they explode onto the floor. He throws a few in the air like confetti. “Look what I have brought for you,” he cries. “My love is bountiful and rich, just like these tasty treats!”

Jimin abandons his bowl and starts picking up any treats he can reach before flinging them off the edge of the roof.

“Hey!” Seokjin yells. Jimin ignores him. In fact, he picks up the pace, throwing the food with impressive speed. Seokjin scrambles over to him and blocks the next throw; the treat hits him in the forehead. “Stop throwing them away they were—Jimin, stop!—they were expensive!”

“You have a fancy job, you can afford it.”

“You don’t know that—Jimin—” Seokjin grabs Jimin by the wrists and brings them face to face, shaking him lightly. “Can’t you see what’s happening? This cat is tearing us apart. We’re better than this!”

Seokjin pulled Jimin close for two reasons: because turning things into a joke is his default panic setting and because those treats were expensive and his job has good benefits but he has better things to spend his money on. He didn’t think it through, and now they’re so close—close enough that Seokjin can feel Jimin’s breath on his lips. Close enough that he can hear Jimin swallow and see the way his eyes widen, the way they dip down and up from Seokjin’s mouth.

“If you don’t want to get kissed you’ve got two seconds to say so,” Jimin breathes out in a rush.

“No—I mean, not no don’t kiss me, like no, that is something I w—“

Jimin rolls his eyes and presses forward to fit their mouths together. It’s awkward for a second because Seokjin is still holding Jimin’s wrists between their chests but he recovers fast enough—letting go and threading one hand along Jimin’s jaw into his hair while the other comes up to rest against his neck. Jimin hums happily into his mouth and grips at Seokjin’s waist.

“I have been wanting to do this—” Jimin squeezes “—for weeks.”

“Same,” Seokjin breathes between kisses. He really hopes nobody comes up to water their plants in the next few minutes.

“Then why didn’t you?” Jimin pulls back to pepper kisses along his cheek and jaw.

“I don’t know I was—” Seokjin gasps when Jimin nips at his earlobe before coming back to catch his mouth in a quick, noisy kiss. “I was nervous.”

Jimin pulls back and Seokjin tries not to whine. “You were nervous? Why?”

“Have you seen yourself?!”

“Aww, were you intimidated?” Jimin looks and sounds like he just got paid the highest compliment.

“No,” Seokjin says stubbornly. “Stop reading me. That’s not sexy.”

Jimin pulls Seokjin in by his waist so their bodies are flush and pries Seokjin’s lips open with his, and into the waiting space of his mouth, whispers, “Is this better?”

Seokjin makes a weak noise of assent and Jimin giggles like the fucking devil he’s turned out to be, but at least he doesn’t leave Seokjin hanging, because they’re back to making out less than a second later.

Before tonight, Seokjin felt bitter about how long it was taking for the tension between them to snap, but now he’s grateful—everything feels heightened because of it. The feel of Jimin’s hair between his fingers, the taste of his mouth, the sounds he’s making.

“Was that you?” Seokjin asks when one of the sounds comes out a little higher than the others.

“Hm?” Jimin pulls back, looking dazed. His lips are swollen and his eyelids are heavy. Seokjin takes a deep breath through his nose.

The sound happens again and—

Egg (or Billy, or whatever—the cat) is sitting a few feet away, staring at them expectantly.

“How long have you been there, you pervert?” Seokjin says.

“Hey, don’t be mean,” Jimin says, lightly hitting his shoulder. “That’s our child.”

“Child? You move very quickly, Park Jimin.”

Jimin mimes tossing hair over his shoulder. “What can I say? I know what I want.” He moves closer to the cat, and by some miracle, manages to pat him behind the ears and all down his back before he scurries back out of reach. Jimin picks up one of the surviving treats and uses it to coax the cat back for a few more pats.

Seokjin watches them fondly. It should be stupid to feel nervous, considering he and Jimin just spent several minutes attached at the mouth. But that’s life.

Here goes nothing.

“How about a date with me?” he asks. “Is that something you want?”

Jimin drops his hand and straightens up with a smile brighter than the moon overhead. “Yeah,” he breathes. “It is.”

“Cool,” Seokjin says dumbly. They stare at each other with matching grins. Then Seokjin has the greatest idea of his life. His smile turns devious and Jimin rolls his eyes like he knows exactly what is coming.

“How do you feel about ice skating dogs?”

Jimin’s legs give out with the force of his laughter.