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Trouble Comes in Twos

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It’s three o’clock on Sunday afternoon, and Jimin is sitting on the kitchen floor in his dormitory, shovelling another spoonful of cookie dough ice cream into his mouth, while Taehyung sits next to him, nursing his own tub of strawberry cheesecake. Today was move-in day. Classes haven’t even officially started for the semester, and he’s already on the brink of a school-related breakdown.

It’s not that there had been anything particularly traumatic to trigger Jimin’s sudden need to eat his bodyweight in ice cream – nothing happened at all. And maybe that’s the problem. As soon as Jimin and Taehyung had finished unpacking and getting settled in, they headed out to get some groceries and last-minute supplies, and now here they are on the floor, spoons-deep in ice cream, trying to get in the last taste of summer before it's gone completely.

“You know,” Taehyung says, shifting Jimin’s focus onto him instead of the kitchen cabinets he’d been zoned out on. “It’s not gonna be that bad.”

Jimin smiles half-heartedly around his spoon. Taehyung is always encouraging – always looking on the bright side, and if Jimin can be thankful for one thing right now, it’s him. They’d been inseparable since meeting in their first year of university, and even though Jimin isn’t necessarily looking forward to this semester, he is looking forward to getting to spend another year living with his best friend.

“I know.” Jimin rests his spoon in his ice cream, deciding not to dwell on the fact that the tub is already half empty. “It’s just that this year is gonna be the exact same as last year…and the year before that.” He sets his ice cream on the floor beside him, and brings his knees up to his chest. “I just wanna get my degree and start my life, you know?”

“Yeah.” Taehyung looks down, dark brown hair covering his eyes as he pokes at it his ice cream with his spoon. “I know the feeling.”

It’s not that Jimin’s university experience has been bad – in fact, he’s had a lot of fun these last few years. He just wants a change of pace, wants something different, wants to move on to the next stage of his life, and maybe he’s impatient and getting a little ahead of himself, but he can’t help it. Knowing that he still has three full years standing between him and his teaching degree is kind of an annoying reality.

Jimin is fully aware that he’s being pessimistic and unreasonable, and he doesn’t intend on wallowing in his own negativity for the entirety of the school year. It’s just that he needs one day of ice-cream eating and overdramatic venting before going back to normal.

It’s relatively quiet for a good minute or so following that, with just the sound of Taehyung’s spoon scraping the bottom of his ice-cream container filling the air while Jimin contemplates the quickest way to get over these move-in day blues.

“You know…” Taehyung clears his throat suddenly. The hesitation in his voice coupled with the apologetic smile he’s wearing sets Jimin on edge. “This year is actually gonna be a little different.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows, reaching for his ice-cream once more, like he’s preparing himself for bad news and only ice-cream can protect him. “What do you mean?” He asks slowly, proceeding with caution.

Taehyung on the other hand, opts for diving in headfirst. “I’m getting a part-time job.”

Jimin freezes, his spoon halfway to his mouth. “A what?”

“I’m starting next week.”

“Tae, I’m never gonna get to see you.”

“You’ll still see me...just not as much as you did before.”

“Who am I supposed to hang out with?” Jimin doesn’t bother concealing his pout.

“Are you kidding me?” Taehyung asks, eyes widening in disbelief. “You have tons of friends!”

“No. Yoongi and Hoseok graduated, and Taemin transferred schools to do his masters–”

“You have other friends!”

Jimin leans his head back and slumps down against the cabinets, his blonde hair sticking to them and fanning out above his head. “No one else would sit on the floor with me while eating a bucket of ice-cream, and not question my sanity while they do it.”

“The only reason I don’t question your sanity is because I already know you’re insane.”

“See! No one else would ever say that to me. This is why I need you.”

“You’ll meet other people and make other friends. Maybe one will be as weird as you.” Taehyung pauses, giving time for a teasing smile to stretch across his lips. “Unlikely, but.” He shrugs. “It could happen.”

Rolling his eyes, Jimin repays Taehyung by giving his foot a playful nudge. “Always so supportive.” And even though Jimin is full of sarcasm, his words are true. Taehyung is a good friend – he’s always supportive of Jimin no matter what, and Jimin feels guilty for not showing that same support to him right now.

“I try.” Taehyung hums. “And hey, I’m only gonna be working at the coffee shop on the south side of campus. “You’ll be able to stop by whenever.”

Jimin perks up a bit at that, and offers his friend a genuine smile, wanting nothing more than for him to know that he has his support too. “I’ll bring you food on your breaks.” His smile widens into something more mischievous. “And I’ll make sure to order the fanciest and most complicated drinks on the menu. To put you to the test.”

When Taehyung laughs, Jimin instantly feels a bit warmer. “Wouldn’t expect anything else from you.”

“Seriously though.” Jimin says, adopting more of a serious tone as he sits up. “I know you’re gonna have a lot on your plate with all your classes and a part time job, so if you ever need help with anything, just let me know.”

Taehyung grins. “Thanks, Jimin.” He reaches out and offers a spoonful of his own ice-cream, and Jimin leans over to accept, letting Taehyung feed it to him. “Let’s just get through this first week, and then on Friday we can go out and get hammered at Jackson’s party. Like the good ol’ days.”

Getting drunk with Taehyung is always an adventure. Now, Jimin has something to look forward to, something to help him make it through this first week. He’s planning on making this Friday night a night to remember.

Smiling, Jimin gives a firm nod. “Deal.”

They end up finishing all of their ice-cream (they’d already made it past the halfway mark, why not just finish it off?), and they decide to spend the rest of the day watching movies and relaxing before the reality of school really sinks in.

Taehyung had dismissed himself a while ago to use the washroom, leaving Jimin to set up his laptop for them. He’s just starting to scroll through movies when he hears Taehyung call out to him.

“Hey, Jimin?” His voice echoes in the bathroom, and Jimin immediately stops what he’s doing to listen. “You know how you said you felt like we were forgetting something when we were in the checkout line at the grocery store?”

“Yeah…”

“I think I know what we forgot.” There’s a beat of silence, and then: “toilet paper.”

“Shit.”

“Literally.”

Jimin hopes this isn’t a sign of more bad things to come.

---

The first week of classes passes by rather uneventfully. Jimin spends most of his time hanging out with Taehyung and doing homework – making sure to keep up with all of his readings, because after two years of this, he knows just how easy it is to fall behind in his classes.

Jimin is a good student. He’s a hard worker, maybe even a bit of a perfectionist, and he really likes when he can actually smile after reading the feedback he gets on his papers and assignments.

And even though he does all his homework this week, even though he’s practically a model student, the only thing getting him through it all is the prospect of Friday night’s party. It’s not like this week has been bad in any way, and it’s not like he’s looking for an escape by getting drunk, but he really misses partying with Taehyung, and doesn’t know how often they’ll get to go out once he starts working.

He wants to make sure they have a really good first weekend back, and hopefully if they have a good first weekend back, it’ll set the tone for the rest of the year. So, when Friday night finally rolls around, Jimin is pretty much buzzed just from his excitement alone.

Jimin and Taehyung aren’t at the party just yet. Right now, they’re sitting at the table in their dorm room, listening to music and chatting as they sip on sugary coolers that are way too sweet, but are tolerated because they taste nothing like beer.

Tonight is a night where Jimin’s smile comes even more easily than it usually does, and where his laughter is always lying just below the surface – ready to make an appearance at any time. In fact, he’s in the middle of laughing at Taehyung as he shows off some new, rather avant-garde dance moves when he’s interrupted by a sudden knock at the door.

Jimin’s laughter dies down immediately, his amusement replaced by curiosity as he glances at the door. They weren’t playing their music very loud, so he doubts it’s an RA coming over to complain about the noise. His quizzical gaze shifts to Taehyung instead, and now Jimin finds himself more suspicious than curious when he notices the sly smile teasing the corners of Taehyung’s lips.

“Tae…” Jimin narrows his eyes at him.

Taehyung remains unbothered. “I invited someone over.” He supplies with an air of nonchalance. 

Jimin’s lower lips juts out. “I thought it was just gonna be us tonight.” His words sound suspiciously whiny.

“I know, but this guy is super nice – and he’s really cool.” Taehyung takes a step backwards towards the door, remaining facing Jimin so that he can clearly see the way his smile never falters but only grows. “He’s from my economics class…and I really think you guys will get along.”

It doesn’t take Jimin very long to clue in. “Are you trying to help me make new friends?"

“What?” Taehyung gasps melodramatically. “Jimin, I am offended that you think I would do something like that. I know you don’t need my help to make friends."

Jimin isn’t necessarily mad at Taehyung for inviting someone else, and he doesn’t care whether or not Taehyung really is trying to push him into making a new friend. It’s just that he expected it to only be them tonight.

And now it just won’t be the same.

Taehyung takes another step backwards, grinning. “No but seriously, I think you’ll really like him.” He’s nearly at the door now. “Oh, and I told him it’s okay if he crashes here tonight, so.”

“Tae–”

“I’m answering the door!” Taehyung cuts him off in a sing-song voice.

Jimin wants to protest, wants to tell Taehyung that he owes him, because now he won’t get to fully enjoy their first night out for the semester, because he’ll be concerned with keeping up appearances, and won’t be able to really be himself like he usually is when it's just him and Taehyung.

But Jimin’s complaints die on his lips and wither in his head the second that Taehyung opens the door.

The stranger greets Taehyung with a smile, and even though that smile is directed at Taehyung, Jimin finds himself smiling right back. Taehyung gives him an enthusiastic pat on the back before ushering him inside. And now, Jimin knows why Taehyung had been so certain that he’d like him.

The guy is attractive. Almost insultingly so. His black hair is parted down the middle to show off a sliver of forehead, his neat fringe just at eyebrow level to keep it out of his eyes. He may be a bit dressed up for a university party, but he’s still dressed simply; wearing dark jeans free of holes, accompanied with a jean-jacket over a plain white t-shirt. The shirt looks so strangely immaculate that Jimin briefly wonders if the guy had ironed it.

As Taehyung leads him towards the table, the stranger's smile comes closer, and Jimin can appreciate it that much more. And yes, the guy is attractive, but he’s not just attractive.

He’s…nice. Jimin can tell he’s nice even though he hasn’t even spoken a word to him. His smile is sweet, and it’s one that makes his eyes crinkle with warmth. They haven’t even spoken one word to each other, and already, the guy has made a good first impression. They haven’t even spoken one word to each other, and already, Jimin wants to be his friend.

His smile is just that nice.

“Jimin,” Taehyung’s bright voice draws his attention, pulling Jimin away from his silent admiration. “This is Jeon Jungkook.” He gestures at the space between the other two, looking rather proud as he does so. “And Jungkook, this is Park Jimin.”

“Hi.” Jungkook is the first one to speak up after the introduction, acknowledging Jimin with a polite nod, that smile on his face just as prominent as ever. “It's nice to meet you.” He offers his hand, which Jimin doesn’t hesitate to take.

“Nice to meet you too." Jimin grins. His dad always told him that you can learn a lot about a person just from their handshake, but he never really put much thought into his dad’s words until now. Jungkook's grip is firm, and he looks Jimin in the eye when he shakes his hand, allowing him see the way the light catches in them.

And Jimin kind of gets the feeling that Jungkook is just as genuine as his smile is.

“You want a drink, Jungkook?” Taehyung asks suddenly, and Jimin is so thankful that his friend is there right now, or else he’d probably spend more time than what is socially acceptable staring at Jungkook and thinking about how good of a smile he has. “We only have coolers, so if you’re a beer guy, you’re out of luck.”

When Jungkook redirects his attention to Taehyung, he rubs the back of his neck rather sheepishly. “Actually, I brought something else.” He sets the sleek leather duffle bag he brought with him on the table “I thought we could all share? It’s the least I can do, I really appreciate you guys letting me stay over here tonight.” Jimin’s eyes widen as he watches Jungkook pulls out two unopened bottles of vodka.

“Oh my god,” Taehyung laughs breathily, obviously sharing Jimin's surprise. “Are you trying to die or to get drunk tonight, Jungkook?”

Chuckling faintly, Jungkook sets the bottles on the table. “Honestly, this will probably be the first and last time I go out all year. I wanna make it good.”

“Amen to that.” Taehyung grins. “I’ll go get us some glasses,” he announces before skipping off to the kitchen to do just that.

Now that he’s alone with Jungkook, Jimin figures he should take the opportunity to test out the waters – to see what kind of guy he is, because even though he’s already convinced that Jungkook is nice, there are so many other things about him that he’s curious about. Like why will tonight be the only night he goes out all year? He’s already intrigued by Jungkook and he hasn’t known him for more than two minutes, and honestly, Jimin is excited to learn more about him. He forgot how much fun making new friends is.

“Not much of a partier, Jungkook?” Jimin asks teasingly, ironically addressing the guy who just pulled out enough vodka to put him in a casket.

Jungkook takes Jimin’s comment in stride, and Jimin doesn’t miss the playful yet subtle way the corner of his mouth quirks. “You say that like you think there’s something to be gained from being a partier.”

“Oh, not at all.” Jimin assures with a smile, thankful that Jungkook seems to be able to take a joke. Partying isn’t a requirement of being a university student, but most people treat it like it is. “It’s just that most people I know are still very much in their party phase, you know?” It’s rather rare to find someone who isn’t in that phase.

Jungkook might just be an anomaly…and Jimin likes that about him too.

“Well, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad phase to be in. Just one I can’t afford to be in.” Jungkook says with a shrug, and when Jimin raises his eyebrows in a silent request for an explanation, Jungkook doesn’t hesitate to indulge him. “I’m taking an extra class this semester, and I need to keep my grades up if I want my father to keep funding my education.”

Jimin can’t help but notice the formal way in which Jungkook referred to his dad – in a way that none of his other friends refer to their own dads. He doesn’t comment on it though, he just picks up his half-finished cooler, and offers it to Jungkook. With a heavy course load and an assumably overbearing dad, Jimin figures the guy could really use a drink.

“Well if tonight’s gonna be the only night you go out all year,” Jimin pauses, giving time for his smile to widen. “Let’s make it good.”

Jungkook accepts both the cooler and the proposal with a grin. “Let’s.”

Taehyung returns shortly after with three plastic shot glasses, and he only spills a little bit when he fills them up with the vodka Jungkook had so graciously provided. Once all three glasses are full, Taehyung passes them out, and Jimin can feel his friend's excitement.  

“Alright,” Taehyung nudges Jungkook, his eagerness spilling over into his words. “Me and Jimin always make a toast before we go out. Since you’re the guest, you go first.”

Not seeming fazed in the slightest despite being put on the spot, Jungkook nods. And when he speaks, he speaks with confidence– almost formally. “Seeing as we’re starting out a new school year,” Jungkook raises his shot glass. “To new beginnings.”

Jimin grins and mirrors the action. “To new friends.”

Taehyung lets out an enthusiastic whoop, lifting the glass high above his head. “To getting fucked up.”

All three of them throw their heads back and down their shots. The first shot is always the worst– it always burns, and no matter how much mental preparation you do, it always always tastes like shit. This shot was no different, it tasted awful and it burned like hell on the way down, but this time, there was something a little different.

There was something that made Jimin actually smile after taking the shot. 

It’s Jungkook that makes him smile, and it’s Jungkook that makes him forget about the sharp tang of vodka sitting heavy on his tongue. Jimin smiles because when Jungkook finishes his shot, his whole face screws up; lips pursing and nose wrinkling, eyes squeezing shut as his entire body shudders.

It’s such a funny sight to see, and Jimin has to press the back of his hand to his mouth to stifle a laugh. Now, he feels that he can confidently say that Jeon Jungkook is in fact, not much of a partier.

And that’s not a bad thing at all. 

The three of them barely even make a dent in Jungkook’s alcohol supply, but even so, they’re reduced to nothing more than a collective giggling mess by the time they’re ready to head out. Jungkook doesn’t say a whole lot, he mostly contents himself with sitting back and laughing at Jimin and Taehyung’s antics, and Jimin finds out that he really likes the sound of Jungkook’s laugh.

Right now, Jimin is at a good stage. He’s dizzy in the best of ways, teetering on the edge of drunkenness, and he knows that this is a safe, no, a good stage for him to be at. It’s the stage where anything and everything is funny enough to make him tip his head back and laugh, and it’s an especially good stage to be at right now, because Jungkook’s eyes shine with amusement every time he watches Jimin laugh.

And Jungkook’s eyes look really nice when they’re shining like that.

He’s only just met Jungkook, but already, he feels at ease around him, already feels like he can just be himself, and maybe the alcohol has a little bit to do with it, but he’s certain that he’d be just as comfortable around him if he was sober.

Taehyung really knows how to pick good friends.

The cab ride to the party doesn’t feel like much like a cab ride at all. It feels more like a concert. Taehyung is the star of the show, somehow coaxing their unsuspecting driver into giving him free reign of the aux cord. After that, Jimin doesn’t remember much of the ride except for Jungkook’s overzealous clapping and open-mouthed laughing (which hilariously sounds like cackling when he’s drunk) as Taehyung sings his heart out, using his phone as a make-shift microphone.

Even though parties are just another part of his never-changing cycle as a university student, Jimin always finds parties to be exciting. Even though most parties are the same, even though all of them are nothing more than a group of people caught up in a whirlwind of loud music, binge drinking, messy make outs and party games, Jimin always has fun– probably because it’s hard not to have a good time when you’re fucked up.

And it’s even harder not to have a good time when you’re fucked up with Kim Taehyung. Now, add Jungkook and his silly smiles into the mix, and Jimin is pretty much guaranteed to have a good night.

The house is already packed when they get there. As soon as he steps inside, Jimin feels the air wrap around him, all hot and stuffy, and the distinct smell of hard liquor mingling with cheap cologne assaults his senses. Downstairs, the lights have all been turned off, but a flashing disco-ball paints the walls in random splashes of colour, obnoxiously loud music reverberating throughout the walls. The main floor is tamer; the lights are on and the scene mostly consists of people playing drinking games and chatting, but even so, there are a few people clinging onto the walls for balance, and someone’s already passed out on one of the couches – a tell-tale sign that nowhere in the house is necessarily tame.

Jimin can’t wait to dive right in and lose himself in the chaos. He turns to Taehyung, bubbling with excitement as he tugs on his hand. “Tae.” The heavy thud of the bass is practically luring Jimin downstairs. “Tae,” he gives him another tug, “Let’s go dance.”

Jimin doesn’t only want to dance because he loves dancing. He also wants to dance because he needs to know what sort of dancer Jungkook is, needs to know what he looks like bathing underneath the glow of those flashy lights, needs to see him really let go and have fun.

But Taehyung doesn’t seem to share that same need as him at the moment.

“No – we need to get more drunk first.” Taehyung states, like he’d already planned out their itinerary, and intends on sticking to it. “Drinking games and then dancing.”

Feeling wronged, Jimin immediately turns to Jungkook, shamelessly pouting. He’s drunk enough to think that it’ll get him somewhere, that the guy will side with him if he pouts hard enough. All Jimin ends up getting from Jungkook is a rather amused smile, which isn’t exactly what Jimin wanted, but he’s not complaining about it either

“I’m staying out of this.” Jungkook says, raising his hands to show his neutrality.

Jimin huffs, and Taehyung grins.

“Rock paper scissors?” Taehyung suggests, holding a fist out.

Even though Jimin wants to just grab both Jungkook and Taehyung by the wrist and yank them downstairs to the dancefloor, he begrudgingly accepts Taehyung’s proposal. “Fine.”

Jimin ends up losing twice in a row, which means that Taehyung ends up getting his way. The three of them soon find themselves sitting on the floor around the coffee table. Taehyung throws himself into a game of sociables while they wait for a turn at beer pong, while Jimin and Jungkook opt for passively watching the game and talking amongst one another.

Jimin is having a lot more fun talking to Jungkook than he would have playing a card game. They don’t talk about anything in particular, and honestly, they do a lot more giggling than talking. Jungkook is easy to laugh with, and considering just how much Jimin loves to laugh, that’s a really good thing.

“You know,” Jimin hums into his solo cup, eyeing Jungkook over the rim. “For someone who doesn’t party very much, you handle your liquor pretty well.” He’s meant to be the one teasing Jungkook by saying that, but when he looks into Jungkook’s eyes, Jimin gets the sense that he’s the one being teased. 

“For someone who’s as short as you are, you handle your liquor pretty well too.”

If anyone else said that to him, Jimin would probably be mildly offended. If anyone else said that to him, he’d probably get at least a bit defensive.

Instead, Jimin just snickers into his cup. “You were way nicer when you were sober.”

“And you’re way nicer when you’re drunk.”

Jimin laughs again, and yeah. He really really likes laughing with Jungkook.

They both fix their attention onto the card game now, watching with smiles lingering on their faces. The truth is, Jimin doesn’t have a hard time making friends, but he doesn’t usually click with people like this right off the bat. The fact that he can get along so well with Jungkook so soon after first meeting him lights a spark within Jimin –  a spark of hope – one that gives him the sense that this year might not be so bad after all.

Jimin keeps drinking, and keeps sharing short, teasing little back and forths with Jungkook, and even though he hasn’t had the chance to dance yet, he’s still having a good time.

His smile has now taken up permanent residence on his face, and he’s just about to ask Jungkook if he wants to go make another drink with him when he hears an unfamiliar, rough voice call out from behind him: “hey, trust-fund kid.”

No one else at the table reacts. Everyone else keeps playing their game, and under any other circumstances, Jimin wouldn’t react either. The only reason he pays attention to that voice is because of the way it makes Jungkook tense up beside him.

Jimin casts a curious glance Jungkook’s way. Trust-fund?

The thing is, Jimin is drunk. He’s drunk, and now he’s incredibly intriguied. His head is more than a little foggy, and it’s hard to piece together intelligent thoughts in the midst of this alcohol induced haze.

So, he’s not really surprised at himself when he fixes his eyes on Jungkook and blurts out: “you’re rich?” But he is a little embarrassed by his own bluntness.

Jungkook visibly deflates, mouth opening like he wants to say something to explain himself, but he doesn’t get the chance to.

“First party I’ve ever seen you at.” The unfamiliar voice says, and when Jimin finally turns around, he finds that the owner of the voice looks just as rough as he sounds. He sidles over, a mocking smile on his face as he stands before them. Jimin doesn’t know who this guy thinks he is, but he knows he wants to smack that smile right off his stupid face.

“Last party you’ll see me at, too.” Jungkook replies simply, and Jimin is quite honestly amazed at how calm he manages to sound while talking to such an asshole. And he's equally amazed at how Jungkook can still seem intimidating when he’s the one sitting down, while the stranger is practically looming above him.

Jimin thought that he’d been getting to know Jungkook tonight…but there’s obviously still a lot to learn about him.

“Why’s that? Your daddy cutting you off?” The stranger sneers. “Might as well make tonight count, then.” He holds out a bottle of dark rum to Jungkook. “Sorry, don’t have any fancy champagne or finely aged whiskey here.” He’s taunting in every sense of the word.  

Jimin watches Jungkook out of the corner of his eye, noticing the way his jaw is set in silent determination. Like his pride is on the line.

Jungkook’s gaze doesn’t waver as he reaches out for the bottle. And unlike all the other times Jimin had watched Jungkook take a shot that night, this time, he doesn’t even flinch when it goes down.

It's enough to shut that jerk up. The stranger doesn’t even say anything else. He just rolls his eyes when Jungkook gives him his bottle back, like he’s upset Jungkook didn’t choke or something. And without another word, he turns his back to them and walks off.

Jimin blinks after him, briefly wondering if he’d imagined that whole thing, because what the actual hell was that? When he glances over at Jungkook though, he knows that while the encounter had been strange, it had also been very real.

There’s no trace of a smile on Jungkook’s face anymore.

“Are you okay?” Jimin murmurs, his frown more prominent than usual because his face is kind of numb right now and he’s not sure how hard he’s actually frowning. “Who was that? Do I need to beat him up?”

Jungkook laughs at that, and Jimin mentally high-fives himself for coaxing it out of him. “I’m okay, Jimin.” He softens as he takes in Jimin’s concern. “And he's no one, really.” Jimin must not look convinced (because he isn’t), and when Jungkook notices, he sighs before offering a bit more. “I had a couple classes with him in first year. He found out that my family has some money, and he’s pretty much hated me ever since.”

Jimin nods slowly. “I see…” Even though he has a feeling that there’s a lot more to the story, he doesn’t press Jungkook any further. No matter how comfortable he already feels around Jungkook, the fact remains that they had only met earlier that night, and there are some things that aren’t appropriate to discuss with people you’ve just met.

Besides, Jimin is drunk, and not exactly in the right headspace to have a serious conversation. “People are dicks.” Is all that Jimin offers up instead, which earns another smile from Jungkook, and Jimin is happy with just that.

The next hour or so of Jimin’s life passes by in a blur. They play a few more drinking games together, and Jimin drinks so far passed the edge of drunkenness that he falls right off of it. He isn’t quite sure what happened after beer pong, isn’t quite sure what events led up to the point he’s at now, all he knows is that Taehyung is currently MIA, and he’s sitting on the living room floor with his legs stretched out in front of him, and next to him is an amused (and perhaps mildly concerned) Jungkook.

Wriggling his toes, Jimin lets out a heavy sigh. His socks are soaking and they smell suspiciously like beer. He doesn’t know when he took off his shoes, or even how he took them off. All he knows is that his socks are wet and he doesn’t want them to be.

Frowning, Jimin leans forward, stretching out for his feet, but when Jungkook reaches out to delicately take hold of his wrist, he ceases all movement.

“Jimin, hey.” Jungkook’s words come out accompanied by a slight chuckle. “What are you doing?”

“They’re wet.” Jimin mumbles. “My socks are wet.” He hesitates, blinking at Jungkook, not sure why he’s trying to stop him from taking off his socks, and not sure why he sounds so…normal.

Jimin squints in confusion, head lolling to the side. “Why aren’t you slurry? Why are your eyes still all the way open? Why doesn’t alcohol affect you? Are you like, god or something?”

Smiling, Jungkook slowly releases Jimin's wrist. “I stopped drinking after Taehyung tore off the shower curtain and started wearing it as a toga.”

“Oh.” Considering the fact that Jimin hadn’t kept track of his own drinking, it’s not that much of a surprise that he failed to keep tabs on Jungkook’s drinking.

“Yeah.”

A distant, more sober part of Jimin feels bad that Jungkook isn’t as drunk as he is, and that he’s now taking on a role of responsibility…but it’s a very very distant part of him.

“My socks are wet.” Jimin says again. “Gonna…gonna put ‘em in the microwave.”

“Oh my god, Jimin–” A noise that sounds suspiciously like a snort comes from beside Jimin, and he immediately turns his head to look at Jungkook, who’s wearing a wide smile.  

“Did you just snort at me?” Jimin asks, genuinely curious, vaguely wondering if there was some wild animal running rampant in the party.

“You can’t put your socks in the microwave.” Jungkook says instead of answering the question.

“Why not?” Jimin sulks.

“Because you just can’t.”

“But they’re wet.”

“You can wear my socks.” Jungkook offers. “Let’s trade.” He doesn’t even think twice about it.

And that really touches Jimin’s drunk heart. Jungkook is just so nice. “But then…but then you’ll have wet socks.” He murmurs.

“That’s okay, I don’t mind.”

Jimin shakes his head adamantly, inadvertently growing dizzier in the process. “It’s not okay.” When he stops shaking his head, he has to narrow his eyes to get a proper look at Jungkook, because now he’s swimming in and out of focus. “I don’t want you to have wet socks – I’ll cry if you have wet socks.”

Jungkook laughs, and even if he’s only laughing at Jimin’s expense, Jimin is glad that he can make Jungkook laugh.

“Okay, I won’t switch socks with you. But only on one condition.” Sitting up a little straighter, Jungkook fixes his eyes directly on Jimin, in a way that makes Jimin inclined to just sit back and listen to anything and everything that he has to say. “We go find Taehyung, and then I take you guys back home.”

Jimin nods without question, and he’s not sure if he’s agreeing because he’s drunk and really wants to go home and get to bed, or if it’s because of how persuasive Jungkook is.

Whatever it is, Jimin doesn’t protest when Jungkook helps him to his feet, and he lets him lead him around the house by the hand as they search for Taehyung. It's almost like he’s afraid Jimin will go wandering off if he lets go. But Jimin wouldn’t wander off even if Jungkook did let go.

Thankfully, the hunt for Taehyung doesn’t last very long. They find him sitting on the carpet upstairs, slumped against the wall, using the shower curtain as a blanket.

Yeah. It’s time to go home.

Just like how Jimin doesn’t remember a good portion of the night, he doesn’t remember whether or not he’d asked for a piggyback ride from Jungkook. But the next thing he knows, he’s on Jungkook’s back with his arms secured around his neck, being carried outside to a cab.

Taehyung is walking along beside them, dragging his feet, eyes barely open, wearing one shoe on his foot and holding the other in his hand. It’s an indicator of a good night – they planned on getting hammered and they did, but even so, Jimin doesn’t feel like the night was a total success.

He can’t help but feel guilty. 

“Sorry, Jungkook…’m not making a very good first impression, am I?” Jimin slurs, pressing his face into Jungkook's jacket. “But you, you’re making a good one. You’re really nice, and you – you smell nice. You smell clean.”

Jungkook hums. “I try to shower regularly.”

“He’s nice and he showers regularly?” Lifting his head, Jimin makes an impressed noise in the back of his throat, and addresses the non-existent studio audience. “What can’t this guy do?”

When Jungkook chuckles, Jimin is close enough that he can feel it vibrating right through him, and he grins at the faint tickling sensation.

“I’ll tell you what he can’t do.” Taehyung’s voice almost startles Jimin. “He can’t find two other people to make his first ‘n last party of the year this memorable.”

“S’not memorable, Tae.” Jimin counters weakly, too drunk and too tired to bother filling his words with conviction. “He probably had a shitty night. Had to take care of us for half of it.”

Taehyung scoffs. “Not memorable to you, maybe– you’re so wasted you’re not gonna remember shit.” Somehow, he manages to stumble over his words less than he stumbles over his feet.

“Gonna remember this so I can prove you wrong.” Jimin refutes just for the sake of it.

“Will not. You – you’re drunk as a skunk, Jiminie. Only thing you’re gonna remember is nothing.”

“Not true.”

“True.”

The two of them argue like that for the duration of the cab ride. Jungkook sits back, listening to it all, smiling through it like he’d just found the most entertaining thing in the whole entire world.

 

Jimin wakes up the following morning in his own bed. He’s still wearing all of his clothes from last night, save for his socks. He wakes up with no recollection of getting back to the dorms, or of getting into bed, or of falling asleep. What he does wake up with is an overwhelming sense of embarrassment. He may not remember everything that happened last night, but he remembers enough.

Heat rises to his cheeks, his shame making itself known as bits and pieces of the night flash through his head like a faulty slide-show. How did he let himself get that drunk? No, how did he let himself get that drunk in front of Jungkook?

Jungkook.

Shit.

With worry flashing straight through him, Jimin sits up immediately, stiff as a board. Where did Jungkook sleep? Was he still here or did he cab back home after putting him and Taehyung to bed? Is he awake, and if he is, what is he thinking about right now? Jimin doesn’t know, but what he does know is that he’s not going to be winning any Host of the Year awards any time soon.

Throwing the covers off his body, Jimin swings his legs over the side of his bed and gets to his feet, and if there’s one silver lining to this whole thing, it’s that he doesn’t have too terrible of a hangover. He’s mostly just suffering from a sense of guilt, but hopefully he’ll be able to remedy that after apologizing to Jungkook for being a drunk mess.

He hopes he didn’t ruin his shot at being his friend.

When Jimin steps out of his bedroom, he finds Jungkook sitting on the couch, head down as he scrolls through his phone. Jimin holds his breath, and he doesn’t take more than a few cautious steps towards him before Jungkook is lifting his head and then looking right at him. Jimin freezes.

And Jungkook smiles at him. “You’re awake,” Jungkook notes cheerily. “How do you feel? You okay? Do you need me to get anything for you?”

Jungkook’s concern floods Jimin with warmth. “I’m…” Jungkook is nice – he’s so nice – and Jimin wants nothing more than to be his friend. “Yeah. Yeah I’m fine, I’m just…” Embarrassed. “A little tired.”

“I’m glad.” Jungkook says, and he sounds genuinely relieved.

So nice.

“Um,” Jimin shoves his fingers through his hair, pleased to find that it’s still relatively soft and not stiff with sweat or any other bodily fluid. “Are you hungry? Me and Tae usually go for food after a night out.” Truthfully, Jimin isn’t all that hungry himself, but after last night, he figures that the least he can do is buy Jungkook breakfast.

Jungkook’s smile widens. “I’d like that a lot.”

“Sweet – let me just wake up Tae and then I’ll change, and then we can go.” Jimin steps up to Taehyung’s bedroom door, finding that there’s more of a bounce in his step now than there’d been when he first woke up that morning. “Tae?” He knocks a couple times, then waits. “Me and Jungkook are going for breakfast, wanna come?”

Something that sounds half like a grunt and half like a groan comes from the other side of the door. “No.” Taehyung’s voice is muffled, and Jimin imagines his head is buried in a pillow. “Just leave me here to die.”

Jimin nibbles at his lower lip, slowly turning to face Jungkook once more. “I uh…I guess he’s not hungry.”

Jungkook’s nose scrunches up when he laughs.

 

There’s a cozy diner not too far off campus that they decide to go to. Jimin ends up ordering a bowl of fruit, unable to stomach much more than that at the moment, while Jungkook gets an omelette and toast for himself. He offers Jimin a bite on more than one occasion, even though Jimin politely declines every time he offers.

But Jimin likes that he still offers.

It may be a simple gesture, but it makes Jimin that much more certain that Jungkook is a good guy. And suddenly, this year of university is a year to look forward to.

Much like last night, they make easy conversation as they eat, and Jimin doesn't have trouble smiling. However, near the end of their meal, his smile falters when he realizes that he’d never formally apologized for last night. And even though Jungkook doesn’t seem to hold anything against him, Jimin still feels the need to apologize.

“Jungkook…” Jimin absentmindedly starts to play with the corner of a napkin. “I’m sorry about last night.” He lowers his gaze, a fresh wave of shame washing over him. “And I really wanted to thank you for looking after me and Tae. I really appreciate it. A lot.”

“It’s fine, Jimin.” Jungkook’s reply is immediate. “I honestly had a lot of fun with you guys. I couldn’t have asked for a better night.”

Jimin glances up doubtfully. “Really?” Though, the more he thinks about it, he realizes that Jungkook didn’t seem at all miserable at the party. Even though memories from last night are fragmented in Jimin’s mind, he does recall seeing Jungkook smiling a lot, and hearing him laugh a lot, too. And that makes Jimin feel a little better about the whole thing.

“Really.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.” There’s nothing in Jungkook’s eyes that would suggest otherwise.

Jimin presses his palms against the warmth of his coffee cup, a soft smile tugging at his lips. Jungkook really is a good guy.

When their server brings them their bill, Jungkook already has his wallet out, but Jimin is having none of that.

He shakes his head before Jungkook can even say anything. “Let me pay – I owe you.”

With a wave of his hand, Jungkook dismisses Jimin’s offer. “It’s fine. You guys let me sleep on your couch. I’m the one who owes you.”

“Jungkook.” Jimin huffs, “please just let me–”

“You can pay the next time we get a coffee or something.”

Next time? At that, Jimin relaxes in his seat, and he wouldn’t be able to keep the smile off his face even if he tried to. “Okay.”

But it’s not just okay. It’s more than okay.

---

Even though Jimin doesn’t see Jungkook for the next few days, they end up texting quite a bit. Taehyung notices and doesn’t miss an opportunity to tease Jimin about it, and he ends up declaring himself the ultimate matchmaker; taking all the credit for Jimin’s budding friendship with Jungkook. 

Jimin can’t exactly refute him. After all, Taehyung was the one who introduced them. So, whenever Taehyung goes off on one of his teasing little lectures on the importance of friendship and on how good of a friend he himself is for bringing Jungkook into his life, all Jimin can really do is roll his eyes and call Taehyung a dork in the fondest way possible.

He really is thankful to Taehyung though. He hasn’t met a lot of people like Jungkook, and he gets the feeling that he won’t meet anyone like him ever again. And that’s really special.

 

It’s Wednesday afternoon when Jimin sees Jungkook again. They agreed to meet up for coffee after class, and Jimin can’t wait. He can’t wait to hang out with Jungkook, and to get to know him better, and to prove that he’s not a total mess all the time (only when he’s really drunk), and to buy him a coffee and pay him back for the weekend.

Jimin waits for Jungkook outside the library where they planned to meet, leaning against one of the big stone pillars in front. He feels like a little kid on the first day of kindergarten; looking forward to meeting new people and to making new friends, stomach aflutter with earnest anticipation.

Considering the way that Jimin's head is up and on a swivel, on the lookout for a familiar face, it’s not long before Jimin spots him. Funnily enough, Jungkook isn’t walking towards him. In fact, he walks right by, and even though Jimin only catches a brief glimpse of him as he passes by, he’s certain that it’s him.

Pushing himself off the pillar, Jimin chases after him, a smile breaking out over his face. “Jungkook!”

When Jungkook doesn’t turn around at the sound of his own name, Jimin rushes to catch up. He figures that he must be thinking about something else at the moment, maybe he's preoccupied with something and there’s a lot on his mind, because when JImin says Jungkook’s name again he still doesn’t turn around.

Determined to get his attention, Jimin reaches out and taps him on the back. When he finally stops, Jimin’s smile widens. But when Jungkook turns around, Jimin finds himself more dazed than delighted.  

“Jungkook...” Jimin says, smile faltering, though he does his best to prevent it from disappearing altogether. “Hey.”

It’s not that anything is wrong. It’s just that Jungkook looks…different.

Jimin takes a moment to take him in, doing a quick once over to see that he’s wearing grey joggers and a loose fitting black t-shirt, and it doesn’t look bad by any means, but it’s just so different from what Jimin had assumed his style was. Maybe he just came back from the gym or something. 

“Hey.” Jungkook doesn’t smile, but he does smirk, and that smirk coupled with how he’s dressed is such a stark contrast to what Jimin had seen of him on the weekend.  

And those aren't the only things that are different.

Tilting his head to the side, Jimin studies Jungkook, hoping his curiosity won’t be mistaken as rudeness. “Did you do something different with your hair?”

It’s not that the colour of it had changed, but it’s not all neat and parted as it had been before – he must’ve put product in it to make it look wavy. Somehow, his hair even seems longer now – long enough for it to fall over his eyes a little.

And with a start, Jimin realizes that Jungkook is dragging those eyes over him. He definitely doesn’t hide the way he’s looking Jimin up and down, almost like he’s making a show of it. Jimin feels his face flush despite himself.

“Yeah, I did.” Jungkook’s lips quirk as he runs his hand through his messy dark waves, eyes finally coming to settle on Jimin’s face. “Do you like it?”

Shifting his weight from foot to foot, Jimin finds himself feeling a little more self-conscious than he’d care to feel underneath that gaze of his. “Yeah.” He nods. “It looks really good.” Because it does look really good.

“You like it better than my old hairstyle?” Jungkook asks, a hint of smugness now edging his smirk.

“Um…” Jimin hesitates, not totally sure what Jungkook is after. It’s not that Jimin likes one hairstyle better than the other – both of them look good. Both hairstyles suit him in their own way– hell, each one seemed to give Jungkook a whole new persona.

Quite honestly, Jimin doesn’t know how he feels about this side of Jungkook. He doesn’t necessarily dislike him, he’s just so… different.

Jungkook cocks a brow, and Jimin suddenly realizes that he’d stayed silent for far longer than he’d meant to. “I like both.” He says quickly.

But Jungkook doesn’t seem to be satisfied with that. “But this one’s better, right?” There’s a playful lilt to his voice, and Jimin can’t help but feel like he’s being toyed with.

Does he want Jimin to tell him that he looks good? Is he flirting, because it certainly feels that way. There’s a certain heaviness in the air now, but it’s not so heavy that it weighs Jimin down. It’s a tension that’s more stimulating than stifling,

Jimin isn’t sure how he feels about it. He just knows his heart is aflutter and his cheeks are blooming with colour, and his mind is going a mile a minute trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

“That speechless, huh?” Jungkook grins. “I guess I’ll take that as a yes, then.”

He'd been silent for too long again, hadn't he?

Jimin’s mouth opens on instinct, ready to rise to his own defense and to come up with something to explain why he’s substantially less eloquent than he’d like to be at the moment. But Jimin doesn’t get a chance to say a single thing.

Because soon, Jimin is rendered speechless for a whole new reason.

Something over Jungkook’s shoulder catches his attention. There’s someone looking at him, and heading straight towards them. The someone heading their way looks even more familiar than the person that Jimin had been talking with.

Jimin doesn’t say anything – he can’t say anything – but his mouth doesn’t snap shut, it just hangs open stupidly as he stares in stunned silence at the person approaching them.

All at once, Jimin’s mind short circuits and he’s flooded with an overload of information, and hit with the realization that the person he’d been talking to isn’t Jungkook.

It’s not Jungkook standing in front of him, because he can now clearly see that Jungkook is the one walking towards them, with his shorter hair parted neatly down the middle, wearing light-wash jeans and a black trench coat that’s unbuttoned to show off a checkered button up, and that’s the Jungkook that Jimin met on the weekend.

Jungkook – the real Jungkook – stops when he’s standing in front of Jimin, and next to his imposter. Jimin blinks in silence. He doesn’t know what to say, and he certainly doesn’t know what to do.

His eyes shift between the other two; back and forth, back and forth, again and again, until he’s nearly dizzy. “Twins?” He ends up blurting out, fully aware of how dim he sounds.

But he feels rather dim too, so it’s fitting.

He feels stupid. He feels like an idiot for not realizing that the person he’d been talking to hadn’t been Jungkook at all. Even after everything he’d noticed, and even after all those signs that suggested this was someone totally different than Jungkook, he still didn’t clue in to the fact that he’d been talking to Jungkook’s twin. Then again, it’s not like Jungkook ever told him he had a twin.

“Wow,” Jungkook’s brother snickers. “Cute and smart?” He gives Jungkook a good-natured slap on the back, which causes him to stumble forward a step. “You sure know how to pick ‘em, Kookie.”

Jungkook casts him a scolding look, but it’s nothing compared to the glare that Jimin levels him with.

This guy has some serious nerve.

Jungkook turns away from his brother, focus shifting to Jimin instead. He offers a smile, though it seems a little forced. “Jimin, I see you’ve met JK.”

“Jimin, eh?” The twin that Jimin can now properly identify as JK grins, unfazed by the unwelcoming glower coming from Jimin’s direction. “We’re actually already pretty well acquainted.” He lifts his chin, nodding Jimin’s way. “Jimin here was just telling me that he likes my hair better.”

Jimin’s eyes widen, indignation flaring up within him. “I was not!”

JK whistles. “Feisty, too.”

And Jimin is floored. How can someone be so…annoying? Jimin is speechless again, speechless because Jungkook has a twin brother who he’s known for no longer than five minutes, and who is quite possibly the most aggravating person Jimin has met in his whole entire life.

“JK.” Jungkook warns.

“Jungkook.” JK mimics almost perfectly, the only difference being that he’s grinning and Jungkook isn’t. When Jungkook doesn’t crack a smile or show even a hint of amusement, JK rolls his eyes at him. “Well this has been fun.” He turns his head, his eyes finding Jimin once more, that playful gleam ever-present. “Nice meeting you, Jimin.” Dipping his head, JK bows deeply yet insincerely. “We should do this again sometime.” After straightening up, he nods to Jungkook and gives a half-hearted wave. “Later.”

JK turns around, and Jimin is relieved that he’s leaving, already feels his shoulders relaxing and the tension dissolving. But just before Jimin can relax completely, JK looks over his shoulder and flashes him a winning smile.

Jimin sort of hates that it’s a winning smile. No matter how irritating the guy may be, Jimin can’t deny that he has a nice smile.

He has such a nice smile, just like how Jungkook has such a nice smile, and Jimin doesn’t know either of them that well, but he knows them well enough to know that they aren’t alike in the slightest, and to know that damn they both have really nice smiles.   

Yeah. Jimin has a feeling that he’s in for some serious trouble.

 

 

Chapter Text

Jimin definitely didn’t think that getting a coffee with Jungkook today would mean awkwardly sitting across from him at the table, tapping the side of his cup as he tries to figure out what to say. He thought that getting coffee with Jungkook today would mean good things– like exchanging smiles and participating in teasing trade-offs.

That's what they were supposed to be doing right now, but then JK happened, and it kind of messed everything up. Now, there’s tension leaking into the air around them, and Jimin’s mind is reeling, still trying to make sense of his first encounter with JK.

It’s annoying. Even though JK isn’t even here to be a distraction, Jimin still finds himself feeling rather distracted.

Jungkook watches him from across the table, looking far calmer than Jimin feels. He smiles faintly, and normally, Jimin would smile right back.

“Why didn’t you tell me that you have a twin?” Jimin asks in place of a smile. His words come out a little more accusing than he meant for them to, but he’s still a bit flustered from everything that happened.

“It never came up in conversation.” Jungkook shrugs, bringing his cup up to his lips to take a sip.

It’s a simple explanation, and Jimin believes him, even feels a little silly for expecting a far more complicated answer than what he’d been given. After all, it’s not like Jimin ever told Jungkook about his own older brother. So why should he expect Jungkook to tell him about his brother?

Jimin lowers his gaze, pensive as he stares at the layer of foam sitting on top of his coffee. As frustrating as JK is, and as much as Jimin wishes that their first meeting hadn’t panned out the way that it did, he just can’t stop thinking about that stupid smirk of his. He doesn’t understand how someone can be so damn shameless, and Jimin is frustrated with himself– frustrated that he let the guy worm his way under his skin so easily.

“Are you upset with me?” Jungkook asks suddenly, sounding a little resigned, like he’d already come to terms with his question being a reality.

Jimin snaps his head up so fast that he thinks he might’ve given himself whiplash. “What? No. No, I’m not upset with you at all.” He says in earnest, wanting nothing more than to rid Jungkook of his worries. “You didn’t do anything to upset me, it’s just that I’m…” Jimin trails off, not quite knowing how to finish the sentence. He doesn’t even know what he is right now. “I guess I was just a little caught off guard by it all. I mean, I thought that he was you, and I was talking to him like he was you, but he–”

“Wasn’t me?” Jungkook cuts in, lips quirking subtly.

“Definitely wasn’t you.” Jimin agrees, a short little laugh following his words. He’s glad that they’re talking about it. He’s glad that Jungkook isn’t offended that he’d mistaken JK for him, and he’s glad that he can get to know Jungkook a bit better through this whole thing.

“We get along most of the time, you know.” Jungkook says after a moment. “It’s just that sometimes JK can be–”

“Insufferable? A brat? An insufferable brat?” Jimin speaks without thinking, but as soon as those words have left his mouth, he presses his lips together and sinks back into his chair like he’s trying to hide from his own sense of shame. It’s not exactly polite to talk shit about someone else’s family member.

Or to talk shit about anyone at all.

But then, Jungkook’s lips stretch into a smile just as his eyes brighten with amusement, and all of Jimin’s worries dissolve into the air around them. “You sound like you’ve known him for longer than you actually have.”

Jimin remembers the way that JK had taken his time with raking his eyes over him as he looked him up and down, and his face suddenly feels a bit warmer than it was before. “Well he’s not exactly shy around strangers.” Jimin murmurs into his cup before taking a sip.

“No. No, he’s certainly not.” Jungkook smiles faintly, and Jimin swears it’s a fond one.

Okay, so Jungkook and JK don’t hate each other’s guts, nor do they have some weird twin rivalry thing going on as Jimin had so wrongfully assumed. He’s glad that he’d been wrong. Getting caught in the middle of a family feud didn’t exactly sound appealing.

“Anyway, don’t let him get to you.” Jungkook says. “He’s harmless.”

Jimin doesn't want to let JK get to him. “Don’t worry, I won’t.” It’s not as if he'll have to see JK all the time. Just because he wants to be friends with Jungkook doesn’t mean he’s obligated to spend time with his brother. If he doesn’t give JK a chance to get under his skin, then how can he possibly get under it?

Feeling better now that they’d talked it out, Jimin perks up a bit. “Besides,” he leans forward ever so slightly, like they’re discussing something serious, but the playful lilt in his voice doesn’t lend itself to seriousness. “I could beat him up if I have to.”

Jungkook had been about to take a sip of his coffee when Jimin says those words, so when he laughs, he ends up snorting into his cup, nearly spilling coffee down the front of his shirt. He sets his cup down hastily and grabs a napkin to wipe away the bit of foam that got on the tip of his nose.

Jimin lifts his hand to his mouth, giggling behind while he watches as Jungkook tries to collect himself. “So you do snort when you laugh sometimes.” He teases.

“So?” Rather than getting defensive, Jungkook opts for playing offense, and is quick to launch his own attack. “Sometimes you squeak when you laugh.” He points out, and Jimin is certain that Jungkook’s smile is just as wide as his own.

“I’d rather squeak than snort.”

“Maybe that’s just because you’ve never tried snorting before.”

“Well I really hope that I don’t start snorting anytime soon, because it’s kind of embarrassing.”

“No more embarrassing than mistaking my twin brother for me.”

Jimin’s eyes narrow at that, but the atmosphere is just as light as ever, and it’s obvious that Jungkook’s words haven’t seriously offended him in any way. “Low blow.”

“I have no choice but to aim low when it comes to you.”

“Wow.” Jimin laughs, head tipping back, eyes crinkling at the corners. It’s so easy to have fun with Jungkook. He doesn’t even have to try. “You know, you’re gonna have to come up with some new material pretty soon. You’ve already made fun of my height before. It’s gonna get old real fast.”

“I’m not too worried.” Jungkook muses. “I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding new material.”

“Why not? What do you mean?”

“You have your quirks.”

So, while Jimin had been having fun noticing all of Jungkook’s little tendencies, Jungkook seemed to be having fun with learning all of his tendencies too. Jimin sucks his lower lip between his teeth, his smile threatening to grow wider than it probably should. “I bet yours are more embarrassing than mine are.”

“Debateable.”

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, won't we?”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Jimin is certain that this is the start of a beautiful, beautiful friendship.

It doesn’t take them long to finish their coffees, but even once they’re done, they don’t stand up to leave. They talk for hours in the coffee shop, and to Jimin’s delight, he gets to learn even more about Jungkook.

Jungkook is majoring in business, and plans on getting his MBA. He likes to read, and is a little bummed that he doesn’t have much time for it anymore considering his course load this semester. His favourite series on Netflix is Planet Earth, and his favourite place to study is by the pool, because he likes the smell of chlorine. His favourite colour is yellow because it reminds him of spring, and his favourite time of day is in the morning, just before the sun rises.

When Jungkook talks about himself, he gets a little shy, and he kind of talks out of the corner of his mouth while a crooked smile plays at the edges of it. Jimin adds it to his steadily growing list of Jungkook’s quirks.

He doesn’t know exactly how long they sit in that coffee shop for. He knows they must've spent quite a while there, but it didn’t feel like it had been a long time, and the reason they finally get up to leave isn’t because they’ve run out of things to talk about. They get up only after Jungkook glances down at his watch and takes note of the time. Apparently, he’s already swamped with assignments, and he needs to head home so he can get started on his homework.

They walk out together, and Jimin’s steps are just as light as the smile gracing his lips. He’s not all that disappointed about having to leave, because he knows that he’ll be seeing Jungkook again soon. They’d already made plans to study together later on in the week, so Jimin has something to look forward to. 

When they’re standing just outside of the coffee shop, Jungkook comes to an abrupt stop, and the look on his face has Jimin stopping dead in his tracks too. And things suddenly don’t feel so light anymore.

“Before I go, there’s actually something that I’ve been meaning to ask you.” Jungkook says, turning grave all at once, which in turn has Jimin feeling nervous all at once. “You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to.” Jungkook adds in a way that Jimin assumes is meant to be comforting, but the last thing he feels is comforted.

He watches Jungkook cautiously, wondering where all this seriousness is coming from, wondering if maybe he’d already done something wrong during their brief friendship. It’s silent for only a few seconds, but those seconds seem to stretch on for so much longer, and just when Jimin’s nerves are reaching their peak, a slow, playful smile stretches over Jungkook’s lips.

“Do you really like JK's hair more than mine?”

Jimin squeaks when he laughs, and he doesn’t mean to do it, but seeing the way that Jungkook’s smile widens has Jimin wanting to squeak any and every time that he laughs.

---

Later that evening, when Taehyung comes home after his first official shift at Daily Grind, Jimin is waiting up for him on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a blanket. Taehyung plops himself down next to Jimin, sinking back into the cushions with a heavy sigh.

“Tough first day?” Jimin asks.

"Nah." Taehyung lifts one shoulder in a noncommittal shrug before reaching over to grab a handful of popcorn. “It wasn’t that bad– everyone there is super nice. I’m just really tired right now.”

“You smell like coffee.” Jimin notes with a smile.  

Taehyung’s eyes go wide. “You can smell it too?” He lets out a breath of relief. “Thank god. I thought it was permanently stuck in my nose or something. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life smelling coffee when it isn’t even there. Phantom coffee.” Taehyung pauses, eyes getting glassy as he looks off into the distance. “Somewhere down the road I’d forget what fresh air smells like. And then one day I’d forget what happiness smells like.”

“And you call me insane?” Jimin blinks, a hint of wonder in his voice.

“I’m not insane,” Taehyung is quick to refute, snapping back to reality. “I’m overdramatic. There’s a difference.” He lifts his arms up a bit so that Jimin can spread the blanket across both their laps. “Anyway, what about you? How was your day? You hung out with Jungkook, right?” Even though Taehyung just claimed that he was tired, he perks up, and doesn't seem to lack energy at the moment. Maybe it’s from all the coffee fumes he’d been inhaling. “How was it? What did you guys do? Tell me everything.”

Jimin doesn’t need any more prompting on Taehyung’s part. He eagerly launches into a detailed account of his day with Jungkook, and even though they didn’t really do that much, even though they only went for coffee, Taehyung is on the edge of his seat as he listens, hanging on to every word as if Jimin is telling a riveting story.

By the time Jimin is finished telling him all about his day with Jungkook, Taehyung is wearing a smile that can only be described as proud.

“You’re welcome.” Taehyung says.

Jimin raises his eyebrows. “For?”

“For introducing you to your number two best friend.”

 With laughter bubbling up from his chest, Jimin shakes his head. There’s fondness in his eyes as he watches Taehyung. “And I’m guessing you’re my number one?”

“Damn right I am.” Taehyung hesitates with a handful of popcorn just in front of his mouth. “I am, right?”

“You are.” Jimin assures. Even though he’s getting along with Jungkook – even though he really likes Jungkook – no one could ever replace Taehyung.

Seemingly satisfied with Jimin's response, Taehyung goes back to happily munching on his popcorn. It’s movie night, and since it’s Taehyung’s turn to pick what they watch, Jimin hands over his laptop so that he can start browsing through Netflix.  

It’s quiet as Taehyung scrolls through movies, and while Jimin sits back and watches, he realizes something. He’d been so caught up in telling Taehyung all about his day with Jungkook that he completely forgot to tell him everything else happened.

He can’t believe he forgot to mention that.

“Hey, Tae?” Jimin starts slowly. He picks at the corner of the fuzzy blanket, eyebrows drawing together. “Did you know that Jungkook has a twin?”

“What?” Taehyung snaps his head up. “A twin?” He splutters, and for a moment Jimin is worried that he’s about to choke on a popcorn kernel. “A twin as in an identical twin?” When Jimin nods, Taehyung’s eyes somehow grow even wider. “No way.”

“His name’s JK.”

“Wait.” Taehyung adopts a rather sombre expression. He places a hand on Jimin's shoulder, looking so uncharacteristically serious. “Which one’s the hot one?”

Jimin leans his head against the back of the couch, laughing. “I just told you that they’re identical.”

“So? There’s always a hot twin.” When Jimin pops a few pieces of popcorn into his mouth instead of answering, Taehyung nudges him. “Which one?”

“I don’t know.” Jimin murmurs. He’s not even trying to be a brat – he genuinely doesn’t have any clue who the hot one is. He pauses, weighing his next words carefully. “They both have their own style.”

“Yeah, but which one do you wanna bang?”

“Tae!”

 “Or are they both equally hot?” Taehyung probes.

“I don’t know!”

“You have two eyes, don’t you?”

“I also have two feet, and I’m about three seconds away from kicking you in the shin.”

“Alright, alright.” Holding up his hands, Taehyung admits defeat. “Keep your secrets. But at least tell me what this JK guy is like.”

What is JK like? Jimin goes quiet, nibbling at his lower lip. “He’s…” JK is a lot of things, but right now,  Jimin doesn’t have the energy to get into it. Not only that, but he doesn't want to think about his embarrassing first encounter with the guy. "He's not like Jungkook at all." 

“So he’s ugly?”

“What? No–”

“So you think that he’s the hot one?”

That night, Taehyung earns not one, but two kicks to the shin.

---

They’re already into the third week of the semester, and despite his ever-growing mountain of schoolwork, Jimin's life doesn’t suck. It doesn’t suck at all. He’s actually pretty damn happy with the way his life is going. The only downside to things is that he doesn’t get to see Taehyung as often as he’d like to, but he makes sure to drop by Daily Grind frequently, even if it’s just to say a quick hi.

In fact, he’s planning on heading over there after class to finish up an assignment, and to bring Taehyung his lunch since he forgot it at home. Daily Grind isn’t the busiest coffee-shop on campus, and it has a nice atmosphere, so it’s actually a pretty decent place to study. Plus, Taehyung is there, so that’s a bonus.

Jimin steps into the lecture hall, ten minutes early (like always) to his literature class, and seeing as he's excited about getting to see Taehyung afterwards, there’s a bit of a bounce in his step as he goes to find a seat in the middle row where he usually sits.  There's only a few other students in the room so far, and while their prof isn’t anywhere to be seen, there are already some notes written on the board. With nothing better to do, Jimin pulls out his notebook and a pen to get a head start on copying them down.

While Jimin focuses on writing, more people start filing into the room, and soon, it's filled with the indistinct chatter of students. Someone plops down into the chair right next to him, but Jimin doesn’t look over, just keeps writing, not paying any mind to anything else around him.

And it’s easy to ignore everything else going on, and to focus on writing when there’s nothing worth paying attention to.

“Long time no see.”  A voice says from right beside him.

But it's hard to focus on writing when there’s something that demands his attention.

Jimin freezes.

No way.

He knows that voice. Even though Jimin has only met the owner of that voice once, he knows exactly who it belongs to. There’s far too much smugness hanging off those words, there’s an ego within each syllable that he speaks. There’s no mistaking who it is.

Thoroughly unimpressed and not bothering to hide it, Jimin finally lifts his eyes from his notebook. He turns his head to look at the person sitting beside him, even though he already knows exactly who he'll see sitting there. “There’s no way.” Jimin deadpans.

JK doesn’t seem bothered by Jimin’s lack of enthusiasm. He raises his eyebrows, his expression a mixture of amusement and curiosity. But mostly amusement. “There’s no way what?”

“There’s no way you’re in this class.” Jimin says with an air of finality– one that leaves no room for arguing, and no room for ridiculous explanations.

There’s no way that JK is in this class. He would know if JK was in this class, because while the classroom isn’t necessarily small, it’s not massive either. Jimin knows for a fact that he hasn’t seen JK in here before. He would know.

“Yeah?” JK shrugs off his backpack and sets it down on the floor, keeping his eyes on Jimin’s all the while. “What makes you so sure of that?”

“I would’ve remembered seeing you.”

At that, JK flaunts a smile, and Jimin immediately regrets what he’d said. “I guess I’ll take that as a compliment.” JK’s eyes are bright, flickering with an unmistakable playfulness. “Thanks.”

Jimin could argue if he wanted to. He could say that his words weren’t meant to be taken as a compliment. But Jimin doesn’t say anything like that, because he knows that that he’s not going to win whatever sort of game JK seems so intent on playing right now.

Instead of saying something back, Jimin just puts his head down and picks up his pen. He starts doodling in the corner of his page, actively avoiding eye contact.

But he can still feel JK’s eyes on him.

Knowing that JK is staring at him causes Jimin to grip his pen just a bit tighter, and to press down just a bit harder, the blue ink nearly appearing black on the paper. JK doesn’t even need to say anything, all he has to do is sit there, and he’s already grating on Jimin’s nerves.

Jungkook told him not to let JK get to him, and up until now, Jimin had been doing a really good job of doing just that. It had been easy to forget all about JK when he never even saw him– but now here he is, sitting right beside him and staring right at him, and now all Jimin can think about is the way JK toyed with him when he pretended that he was actually Jungkook. And all he can think about is how much of a brat this guy is.

“I really am in this class.” JK says eventually. “This is just the first one I’ve shown up to.”

Of course.

“You're one of those people who likes to cut class?” Jimin huffs out a little laugh. “Why does that not surprise me?” He finally turns to face JK, and is met with a grin.

“Know me so well already, don’t you?” JK props an elbow up on the table and leans closer, resting his chin in his hand. “What else do you know about me?”

Jimin considers that for a moment, his eyes doing a quick sweep over JK’s face, taking in all of the cheekiness that he’s so proudly putting on display just for him. “I know enough.” Jimin answers simply, and with that, he dips his head once more to focus on his doodling.

He hopes class will start soon.

“That’s not very fair.” JK goes on, unfazed by Jimin’s efforts to appear disinterested. “Because I don’t think I know nearly enough about you.”

In all honesty, if someone else – someone who’s not JK –said that to him, Jimin would probably be flattered. He’d probably smile, maybe even blush. But JK is the one who said it, and JK teases and flirts just because he can, just because he thinks it’s fun. This is only Jimin’s second encounter with the guy, but he already knows that much about him.

So Jimin ignores his words, and changes the topic with relative ease. “Why’d you decide to start showing up to class now?” He asks, not only for the sake of steering the conversation in a different direction, but also because he’s genuinely curious. Jimin doesn’t understand people who cut class– they’re paying for their classes, and it’s not exactly cheap to attend post-secondary. Skipping doesn’t make sense to him, nor does it make sense for JK to randomly start showing up now, when they’re already three weeks into the semester.

Why not just stay at home and stick to his pattern of laziness?

JK eases against the back of his chair, leisurely stretching out his feet in front of him like he’s on a recliner back at home and instead of a desk in a classroom. “I saw you walking out of this class the other day.” He seems intent on playing tug-of-war, pulling the conversation right back to where Jimin tried to keep it away from. “Thought it might be worth my while.”

JK is annoying. He drips cockiness and he’s confident in everything he says and in everything he does, and Jimin doesn't like it, but there’s something about his over the top flirting and self-assured nature that draws Jimin in. Even though Jimin doesn’t want to play JK’s game, he feels compelled to play all the same.

“The class,” Jimin raises his eyebrows, “or me?”

He’s not giving in because he wants to give in, he’s doing it because it feels like JK is challenging him. It feels like JK is only teasing him so much because he doesn’t think that Jimin can dish it right back, like he thinks that Jimin will just sit back and shyly take it with a blush on his face.

But Jimin won’t do that– he can’t just take it lying down. If he does, then JK wins.

The corner of JK’s mouth curls into something mischievous, and he appears more than happy to have Jimin play along. “What do you think?”

“I think you’re gonna last a week, tops.” Jimin is playing with fire and he knows it. He knows that JK is far more well-versed in this kind of game. Hell, the guy is probably a pro, but that just means that it’ll feel even better when Jimin beats him at his own game.

“And I think you’re severely underestimating me.”

Jimin probably is. He doesn’t know JK, not really, and he’s probably way out of his depth right now, but he’d rather drown than give JK an excuse to get even cockier than he already is. And that’s just the way it is.

When their prof finally steps up to front of the room and starts the lecture, Jimin actually breathes out a sigh of relief. He’s quick to turn away from JK, and to turn his eyes to the front of the room– more than happy to focus on something else instead.  

And JK proves to be annoying even when he isn’t talking or fixing Jimin with one of his smug smiles. JK doesn't sit still. He bounces his knee up and down so that it makes a dull thud noise when it hits the bottom of the table, and if he’s not doing that, he’s twirling a pen between his fingers, and if he’s not doing that, he’s drumming his fingers on the table.

Jimin isn’t sure if he’s doing it on purpose to get a rise out of him or if he’s really that fidgety, but either way, he does his best to ignore it. And he’s doing a really good job at ignoring JK– he nearly makes it all the way to the end of the lecture without so much as casting a glance his way.

Nearly.

There’s about ten minutes left in class when their prof makes an announcement. An announcement regarding a project. A project that will take nearly half the semester to complete. A project that is to be completed in pairs.

All at once, the lecture hall fills with the excited murmur of students as everyone turns in their seats, searching for a prospective partner.

But Jimin doesn’t move.

“Hey.” JK leans over – and maybe it's to be heard over everyone else’s talking – but Jimin kind of gets the feeling that he does it just so he can get closer. And Jimin doesn’t need to look at him to know that there’s a smirk on his face right now. He also doesn’t need to be a psychic to know exactly what he’s going to ask. “Wanna be my partner?”

“Not really.” Jimin mumbles. He sees a flash of JK’s white teeth from the corner of his eye.

Will you be my partner?”

Jimin makes sure to keep his eyes trained on the front of the room. “I guess.” It’s convenient, isn’t it? To pair up with someone sitting right next to you, to not have to turn in your seat and helplessly look around, hoping you’ll make eye contact with someone else who doesn’t have a partner yet. This is a partnership of convenience. Nothing more than that.

JK hums slowly. “You don’t think I’m gonna last more than a week, hey?” There’s something dangerous lacing the tone that JK speaks with. “Funny. Because I don’t think you’re gonna last very long, either.”

Eyebrows knitting together, Jimin risks a glance over at JK. What was he talking about? Jimin isn’t the one who skipped the first two weeks of classes, he isn’t the one who was bored out of his mind all throughout the lecture today. So what was JK on about?

“What do you mean?” Jimin murmurs, half curious and whole-heartedly hesitant.

“I don’t think it’s gonna take very long for you realize that you could have so much more fun with me.”

Jimin fills in the blanks for himself, and instantly feels guilt sitting heavy on the bottom of his stomach. It's not hard to figure out who JK is talking about. It’s not like Jimin is betraying Jungkook by talking to JK, or even by being his partner for this project. But he still feels a bit like a traitor.

Looking down at his notebook, Jimin starts tracing over the words he’d already written, just because he needs to busy himself with something. “Do I look like I’m having fun right now?” He mutters, regretting asking it the second that the words are out of his mouth. JK takes the question as an invitation to rake his eyes over Jimin.

Heat rises to Jimin's face, and he's certain that his cheeks are tinted pink, and he can’t control his blush, so he does his best to school his expression into a neutral one. 

“Well,” JK smiles wryly. “You don’t look bored.”

And he’s right. Jimin isn’t bored at all.

 

Chapter Text

Going for coffee with JK isn’t anything like going for coffee with Jungkook. At all. Jimin had met up with JK at Daily Grind to talk about their project, and they haven’t been there for very long – just long enough to order their drinks and to find a table to sit at – but not long enough to actually start doing something useful with their time. They should start discussing the project, Jimin wants to start, but he doesn’t have a clue how he’s supposed to start. He doesn’t know what to do.

He doesn’t know what to do with JK.

It’s silent as they sit across from each other, with Jimin absentmindedly tapping the plastic lid on his coffee while JK simply leans back in his chair, watching Jimin, his eyes never straying from his face.

It’s silent, JK hasn’t said a single word to him, but Jimin still kind of wants to tell him to shut up. JK may not be explicitly saying anything, but the way he’s looking at Jimin is far too loud for his liking. JK’s mouth curls into a complacent rendition of a smile, and Jimin has to resist the urge to turn away from it completely.

Jimin sips his coffee slowly, and is a bit disappointed to find that not even the sweet taste of a caramel macchiato with extra caramel can make him feel better.

Honestly, he doesn’t know what he expected out of this. It’s not as if JK ever did anything to make him think that he’d behave any differently from the way he’s behaving right now. Jimin thought – no, prayed– that JK wouldn’t be everything that he thinks he is, prayed that he wouldn’t really be as troublesome as he portrays himself as.

But it turns out that JK is exactly who Jimin thought he was.

“Stop smiling at me like that.” Jimin finally mutters, unable to take a second more of the silent staring. He hopes that the subtle edge in his voice will make JK think that his cheeks are tinted pink with frustration, and not for some other reason.

“Like what?” JK asks, and his tone may indicate innocence, but the gleam in his eye tells a completely different story.

“Like that.” Jimin emphasizes, making a vague gesture. He’s trying. He’s really really trying not let JK get to him, but it’s really really hard, especially when JK looks really really pleased with himself, and now Jimin really really wants to dig into his backpack and pull out his heaviest textbook just so he can whack JK on top of the head with it.  

“What, you don’t like it when people smile at you?” JK leans over the table a bit, like he’s intrigued by the very notion, or maybe he’s just intrigued by Jimin. “What do you have against smiling?” He quirks a brow, which in turn has Jimin’s twitching in annoyance.

“I don’t have anything against smiling.” Jimin answers curtly. “Unless you’re the one smiling at me.”

“Damn.” JK laughs softly, raising his cup. “You really know how to make a guy feel special.”

Jimin rolls his eyes in a very deliberate manner, and allows his gaze to wander, shifting onto something that isn’t JK. Taehyung is working today, and to Jimin’s dismay, he’s actually working. He’s behind the counter, topping off a drink with a generous amount of whipped cream, and Jimin stares directly at him, trying to telepathically communicate.

Eventually, Taehyung glances up at him, and Jimin’s heart leaps. He pleads with his eyes, begs Taehyung to come and save him from JK, wants him to come over and witness first-hand how much of a menace JK is. But apparently, today Taehyung is in the mood for being a good employee and an awful friend, because the only thing he gives Jimin is a grin and a playful eyebrow wag before he’s turning away to tend to a customer.

Traitor.

“So,” JK says, and Jimin reluctantly turns back to him. “You like your coffee disgustingly sweet.” JK tilts his head to the side, and Jimin holds his breath, preparing for the worst. “But how do you like your men?”

Jimin isn’t a violent person. But he does briefly consider dumping his hot coffee on JK’s head. He draws in a slow, deep breath, doing his best to maintain his composure. Maybe he should look at this as an opportunity of sorts. When he becomes a teacher, he’ll have to deal with bratty kids all the time– he should see this as an opportunity to hone his skills, to practice his patience, because god knows he needs a lot of patience.

“JK,” Jimin says, loading his voice with sugar, like he’s talking to a room full of kindergartners. He even plasters a smile on his face, going all out. “We’re here to talk about the project.”

“Then why haven’t we been talking about it yet?”

Jimin nearly forgets all about his façade, he nearly breaks character, but by some miracle manages to keep himself check. Where does he even begin? They haven’t gotten around to talking about the project, because for some reason JK has made it his personal mission to be the biggest brat in the whole entire world, but Jimin can’t say that, because he’s trying to keep it civil, trying to keep his cool, trying to handle this situation like he would if he were a teacher.

“The why doesn’t matter.” Jimin replies, his smile still artificially sweet. “Let’s just start–”

“I mean, you started going off on a tangent about my smile, and now here we are talking about how coffee is somehow correlated with a person’s taste in guys. Not really the most productive use of our time together if you ask me.” JK clicks his tongue admonishingly. “Kind of irresponsible of you to let it get this far.”

Jimin’s smile finally falters, his face going completely blank. He blinks at JK in silence. Composure be damned. He’s not dealing with a room full of children right now. He’s dealing with the antichrist. “This is the first time in my life where I feel like I can actually sympathize with murderers.”

JK grins. “So I’m kind of your first.” 

Humming thoughtfully, Jimin glances up at the ceiling. “Poison might be the best way to do it–”

“–I can be your first for a lot of things.”

“Or maybe pushed off a bridge.” Jimin tilts his head from side to side, weighing the option. “That way it would look like an accident.”

“Fantasizing about murder?” JK leans closer, and Jimin ignores him. “What else do you like to fantasize about?”

“Then again, who cares if it looks like an accident? I don’t think jail would be all that bad.”

“Wow, no one’s ever risked going to jail, just for me.”

“I think I could make friends in jail. But could I handle the food?”

“You don’t have the guts to kill someone.”

Those words snap Jimin out of his trance, his eyes locking with JK’s. “Then I’ll put you on a boat and ship you far, far away.”

“Not the worst thing you could do to me.” JK muses, lifting his coffee up to his mouth. He smiles around the cup. “But there are definitely better things that you could do to me.”

“Oh my god, I might do it.” Jimin stares down at the table, eyes wide as he presses his fingertips into his forehead. “I might actually do it. What are my parents gonna say? They wouldn’t come visit me in jail. They’d disown me.”

“I don’t think you have to worry about your parents disowning you.” JK shakes his head, his grin just as prominent as ever. “There’s no way you’d be able to kill me. I mean…” He trails off, only so that he can take his time looking Jimin up and down. “You’re kind of at a disadvantage.”

Jimin narrows his eyes. He's heard this all before. “Yeah, I’m short, I get it–”

“I mean, I was gonna say weak, but yeah. You’re short, too.”

Jimin doesn’t even reply to that. He wouldn't be able to reply even if he wanted to, because frankly he just doesn't have the energy. Instead, he looks away, searching for Taehyung; his best friend, his last hope, his saviour. In the end, Taehyung just turns out to be a traitor. Taehyung is watching from where he’s standing behind the counter, looking exceptionally entertained, his hands up by his eyes as he uses imaginary binoculars to spy on him.

Worst best friend ever.

Realizing that he’s on his own, Jimin begrudgingly turns to JK once more, but he still doesn’t say anything. And now they’re back to square one, silent like they’d been when they first sat down.

JK smiles to himself, doesn’t seem to be bothered by the lack of conversation, and Jimin isn't bothered by the lack of conversation either, he's just bothered by JK in general. Jimin stares down at the white lid on his cup as if it's the most interesting thing in the world, contemplating life (and jail), and he doesn't know how long he stays spaced out for, but it's the sound of JK's voice that brings him back to reality.  

Shit.” JK murmurs underneath his breath, barely loud enough for Jimin to hear. “Um,” he shoves his phone back into his pocket, presumably after checking the time, and when his eyes find Jimin’s, there’s something rueful in them. “I’d love to stay and chat, but I gotta go.”

There’s nothing in Jimin’s mouth, but those words still nearly make him choke.

No way.

This has to be a dream, a nightmare, a prank – something.

The guy has got to be joking.

Jimin laughs. He actually throws his head back and laughs, and he’s honestly concerned by just how insane he sounds. “You’re kidding.” His expression darkens. “Tell me you’re kidding”

“I never kid.”

“Let me guess, you never lie, either.”

“Wow.” JK says teasingly. “You really do know me.” He pushes away from the table, his chair scraping against the floor and sending Jimin further over the edge of exasperation. “No, but seriously. I gotta go.”

Jimin didn’t think JK could get any more aggravating, but here he is, taking home the gold medal for being the most frustrating human being known to man.

Jimin isn’t playing anymore. He’s done with playing. “We haven’t even talked about the project yet.”

This time, when JK’s mouth curves, it curves into an apologetic smile. “I know, but I’m already late.”

“JK.” Jimin doesn’t want an apology. He wants a partner who isn’t a total ass. “I swear to god–”

“Let’s meet up next week or something?”

“JK–”

“I’ll text you!”

JK leaves. He leaves without even finishing half of his coffee, he leaves even though they didn’t get a single thing sorted out for their project, and he leaves Jimin feeling even more flustered than he’d felt after meeting him for the first time.

And that’s saying a lot.

---

The sanity that JK seems so intent on depriving Jimin of is always restored whenever he gets to hang out with Jungkook. Hanging out with Jungkook reminds him that even though there’s a lot of annoying shit in the world, the world isn’t really all that bad.

Just some parts of it are. Namely, the parts named JK.

It’s been a few days since JK abandoned him at Daily Grind, which means that it’s been a few days since Jimin last saw him, which means that these last few days have been wonderfully peaceful days.

Jimin spends most of his free time studying with Jungkook, and while it might not sound like the most exciting thing in the whole entire world, he actually enjoys it quite a bit. Jungkook is the perfect study buddy. He doesn’t make any annoying noises when he studies, he doesn’t fidget, and he doesn’t interrupt him by pulling up random DIY videos on YouTube and forcing him to watch (Taehyung is guilty of that one).

Usually, they end up doing their work in the library or by the pool, but not today. Today’s just little bit different.

They’d planned on meeting in the library after their classes, but when Jungkook finds Jimin and pulls him aside after his last class that afternoon, the look on his face tells Jimin that today, things likely aren’t going to go according to plan.

“I owe you an apology.” Jungkook says, which naturally has Jimin even more confused than he’d been when he walked out of the lecture hall to see Jungkook standing there.

“An apology?” Hiking his backpack up a little higher, Jimin eyes Jungkook, confused. Jungkook isn’t the twin who owes him an apology. And Jimin is fairly certain that Jungkook is incapable of ever doing anything that would warrant an apology. “What do you mean?”

“I forgot my laptop at home this morning.” Jungkook answers, looking wholly regretful. When Jimin responds with a blank stare, he elaborates. “I need it to work on an assignment.”

“Oh.” Well that does throw a bit of a wrench into their plans, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. Admittedly, Jimin finds the look of remorse on Jungkook’s face to be rather amusing. The guy looks like he’d killed Jimin’s pet goldfish and doesn’t quite know how to break the news to him. “It’s not a big deal.” Jimin smiles in the hopes that it’ll somehow ease Jungkook’s obviously troubled mind. “We can study tomorrow instead?”

“I can’t tomorrow.” Jungkook confesses, and if possible, his face falls even further.

In a way, it’s endearing that Jungkook seems so genuinely distraught over having to make changes to their plans, especially when it isn’t a particularly life altering change.

“Jungkook,” Jimin says, his amusement just as present in his voice as it is on his face. “It’s okay.” He assures. “Seriously, we can get together another time.”

“But we made plans for today.” Jungkook's eyebrows knit together. There’s a moment of hesitation on his part, like he’s in the middle of a silent debate with himself, though it doesn’t last very long – just long enough for Jimin to notice it. When Jungkook speaks up again, he doesn’t sound like he’s confident in whatever decision he’d made. “If you want, you can come over? We can study at my place?”

Jimin’s mouth parts a bit at that. “Are you sure?”  When Jungkook nods in confirmation, Jimin eagerly accepts. “Okay – as long as you don’t mind.” The thing is, Jimin has been curious about Jungkook since the first day he’d met him, and all he knows is that he doesn’t live on campus, so of course he’s more than a little excited to see what his place is like. Though, he does his best not to let that excitement show too much.

“I don’t mind.”

But before Jimin can get too excited, before he makes a hasty decision that he might later come to regret, he stills. “Wait.” There might be something that he minds. “Is JK gonna be there?”

Jungkook pushes out a laugh, head dipping a bit to look down at the floor, his shoulders shaking with amusement. “No, he won’t be.” He brings his eyes back up to meet Jimin’s, and they’re twinkling. “I don’t live with JK, don’t worry.”

“Okay.” Jimin tries not to sound too relieved, but probably fails.

“What happened to not letting him get to you?” Jungkook asks, eyebrows raised teasingly.

“I’m not letting him get to me. We’re going to study at your place– a place where he won’t be. Does that sound like I’m letting him get to me?”

“It does.”

“Well you’re interpreting it wrong, then.” Which is a lie, because Jungkook is interpreting it perfectly, and yes, Jeon JK has gotten to him.

“Aren’t you guys partners for a project?” Jungkook starts to walk, leading Jimin outside to the bus loop.

“Don’t remind me.”

Jungkook seems rather entertained by Jimin’s evident lack of enthusiasm, but he doesn’t make a comment on it, and drops the subject there, which Jimin is grateful for.

It turns out that Jungkook doesn’t live that far away from campus, but the bus makes frequent stops, making it seem farther than it really is. Not that Jimin minds, he’s perfectly content with talking with Jungkook all throughout the ride.

 When it’s finally their turn to get off the bus, Jungkook doesn’t even say anything. He just stands up, but Jimin doesn’t even notice, he's to busy staring out the window, a bit in awe as he looks up at the apartments looming over him, stretching so high that Jimin has to crane his neck at an odd angle to take it all in.

Jungkook lives here?  When Jimin tears his eyes away, Jungkook is already making his way off the bus, and Jimin scrambles to catch up with him.

Jungkook doesn’t really talk on their way inside, which is fine with Jimin, because it gives him a chance to take everything in. Because there’s a lot to take in.

Before they even stepped foot inside, Jimin knew that Jungkook’s apartment would be nice. He could easily tell just from seeing the exterior of the building that these apartments were well out of a typical student’s price range. And then when they walked into the lobby, and when he saw the impressive fountain and the marble floors and the fancy chandelier, Jimin could easily tell that these apartments were out of a typical person’s price range.

Jimin was fully prepared for Jungkook to bring him into a nice apartment. But his jaw still nearly drops when Jungkook leads him into his apartment all the way up on the ninth floor.

Jimin didn’t fully prepare himself for this.

“You live here alone?” Jimin looks around with wide eyes, the wonder in his voice as evident as it is on his face.

“I do.” Jungkook says faintly, but Jimin is too busy admiring the apartment to give much thought to his tone.

The apartment is really something else. It’s spacious – huge– with high ceilings and giant windows, and Jimin swears that he can hear his footsteps echo on the floor. An electrical fireplace in the living room gives off a soft orange glow, and bathes the apartment in warmth. All of the furniture in the apartment is big, from the leather couches to the flat screen TV. Even the paintings hanging on the walls are relatively big, but they’re nice paintings – mostly of flowers and trees – which Jimin likes far more than the abstract styles of art he’s seen.

Jimin wanders farther inside, effectively dazed as he takes his time appreciating the apartment. He nearly stumbles over his own feet when he gets a good look at the kitchen. It looks like a kitchen from TV– one you might see on a cooking show. The marble countertops, the island with barstools sitting around it, the stainless-steel appliances – everything about it is impressive. The fridge even has an ice maker.

The whole apartment is nice – far nicer than the house Jimin grew up in back in Busan – but Jimin’s favourite thing about the apartment has to be the sliding glass doors that lead out to a balcony. Jungkook has a nice view. The city is spread out beneath them, teeming with life, and Jimin imagines how pretty it must look at night with all the buildings lit up.

The dorm that Jimin shares with Taehyung isn’t anything compared to this, not that he’s ever complained about their dorm. He actually likes it a lot. It’s cozy. They have their own kitchen, and even though it’s small, it’s not like they need a lot of room. No one’s making any gourmet feasts in that dorm. They have a living room (it’s pretty much just a couch and a coffee table tucked away in a corner, but it still serves its purpose), they each have their own bedrooms, and they share a bathroom, and that’s all that they really need. It’s more than enough for them.

“Um.” Jungkook speaks up, pulling Jimin out of whatever trance he’d been in, and when his eyes flicker to Jungkook, he takes note of the sheepish smile playing at the edge of his mouth. “I know it’s pretty big for one person – and I really don’t need all the extra space.” Jungkook rubs the back of his neck. He does that a lot when he’s shy. “It’s probably a bit too much…”

And that’s when Jimin realizes that while he had been walking around, silently admiring Jungkook’s apartment, Jungkook had been silently worrying about what he thought of it. And now, Jimin understands why Jungkook had seemed a little hesitant to invite him over.

Jimin smiles softly, and he hopes that when Jungkook looks in his eyes, he can see that there’s not a single trace of judgement hiding in them. “I mean, it’s huge.” Jimin laughs, spreading his arms out as if it’s an accurate measurement of huge. “But so what?” When he sees the tension start to melt from Jungkook’s face, Jimin’s smile widens. “It’s nice –  I really like how you decorated it and everything. I love the pictures.” Jimin points to the painting of pretty pink cherry blossoms in the living room. “I think that one’s my favourite.”

Do most students live in apartments like this? No. Is it a bit much for one person? Maybe. But it doesn’t matter, Jimin doesn’t resent him for it, doesn’t think he’s a snob for it or anything like that. Jimin does, however, find himself wondering how much rent is for a place like this, and how Jungkook can possibly afford it.

Jimin frowns a little when he remembers the first night he met Jungkook, and how the jerk from the party called him trust-fund kid. Now that he thinks about it, he recalls Jungkook saying that his family has some money, and now Jimin can verify that his family does indeed have a whole lot of money. Not that it matters.

Despite all of it, Jungkook is still the humblest person that Jimin knows. And Jimin really likes that.

“Thanks.” Jungkook says. And he really does look thankful. After a moment, he clears his throat, and motions towards the table, inviting Jimin to take a seat. “Do you mind if we start on our homework now?” He goes to retrieve his laptop from where he’d left it in the living room. “I have a lot to get though.”

“Yeah– yeah, of course.” Jimin says, and he’s glad to discover that Jungkook looks far more relaxed now than he’d been before.

They sit down at the table together, finally getting started on their work– after all, that’s the whole reason that Jimin is there in the first place. For homework.

Even though they don’t have any classes together, Jimin still enjoys these quiet studying sessions with Jungkook. He always feels especially productive when he’s studying with Jungkook, because seeing how hard he works motivates Jimin to work just as hard.

Every now and then, he’ll sneak a quick glance at Jungkook, just to see how he’s faring. Jungkook’s expression is always the same every time he looks; his eyebrows furrowed in silent concentration, and his lips slightly parted. Jimin adds it to his list of Jungkook’s quirks.

And, even though Jimin spends a bit of time studying Jungkook, he really does spend far more time studying for his actual classes.

Neither of them speak, and it's like that for a good couple of hours; the only noises coming from the scratching of a pen on paper, and the click of a keyboard as Jungkook types away. So, when the distinct sound of Jimin’s stomach growling unexpectedly joins in with those other, subtler noises, it’s kind of hard to miss.

Jimin immediately wraps his arms around himself, hugging his middle as if to stifle any other unwelcome noises. He keeps his eyes trained dutifully on his textbook while his face flushes, and it’s only then that he realizes he hasn’t eaten since breakfast. He hopes that it hadn’t been as loud as he thought it was, hopes that by some miracle, Jungkook hadn’t heard it.

Jimin slowly lifts his eyes off the page, his curiosity getting the best of him, hoping that when he looks up, he'll see that Jungkook is still be absorbed in his work. But, when he looks up, he finds that Jungkook is already staring directly at him.

“Oh my god.” Jungkook says with wide eyes, looking genuinely distressed. “I’m an awful host. Are you hungry?” He pushes his chair away from the table, not waiting for Jimin’s reply. “You didn’t eat dinner, did you? You must be starving. I’ll make you something.”

And just like that, Jimin’s embarrassment dissipates into thin air, the uncomfortable heat that had spread over his cheeks fading into a fainter, more pleasant warmth. He doesn’t know why he’d been so embarrassed about his stomach growling. Jungkook has never given him a reason to feel anything but comfortable. Touched by the offer, a faint smile graces Jimin’s lips. “That’s sweet, but.” He shakes his head. “You don’t have to make me anything.”

“But you’re hungry.” Jungkook stands up, and is on his way to the kitchen before Jimin can stop him.

Sure, Jimin is hungry, but he doesn’t want Jungkook to go to the trouble of making a whole meal when they can easily order food and get it delivered to them instead. “We can get take-out or something, you don’t have to cook just for me.”

“It’s not a big deal.” Jungkook waves his hand dismissively.

“Jungkook,” Jimin sighs gently, following Jungkook to the kitchen, where he’s already opening a cupboard. “You really don’t have to.”

"I know." Jungkook pulls out a pan and sets it on the stove, but doesn’t move beyond that. He simply turns to face Jimin. “But I want to.”

And he really does look like he wants to.

The sincerity in his eyes causes Jimin’s lips to quirk ever so slightly. Today, he learns that it’s impossible to say no to Jungkook when he’s looking at him like that.

“Okay, fine.” Jimin gives in. But only on one condition. Rolling up his sleeves, he heads to the sink so he can wash his hands. “But at least let me help you.”

The smile that breaks out over Jungkook’s face brightens the whole entire apartment. “Deal.”

Jungkook assigns Jimin the task of chopping up the vegetables, and Jimin is more than happy with it. Honestly, Jimin is pretty decent at cooking, though him and Taehyung don’t usually cook for themselves like this. They mostly stick to frozen meals, canned soups, and ramen, and Jimin knows they’re not the best choices, but they’re quick and easy fixes to hunger.

As a university student, Jimin has come to appreciate quick and easy.

If he had a kitchen like this though, he’d probably be cooking a hell of a lot more.

“You know.” Jungkook says. He’d just finished setting a pot of water to boil on the stove, and now he’s walking past Jimin, on his way to grab some spices from the cupboard. “You’re actually not so bad in the kitchen.” When Jimin glances up at him, he catches the playful little flicker in his bright eyes. 

“Why does that kind of sound like a backhanded compliment?” Jimin asks, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“It’s open to interpretation.”

Jimin laughs at that, the evidence of that laughter lingering on his face as he watches Jungkook bustle around the kitchen. “When I was a kid, I always used to help my mom out in the kitchen.” Jimin admits, smiling faintly as he looks down at the cutting board once more, taking his time with chopping up a red pepper.

“Really?” Curiosity curls around Jungkook’s words. “You must’ve enjoyed it, then. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun.”

“It was – I loved it. It was always one of my favourite things to do.” Jimin still loves it – whenever he goes home to visit his family, he makes sure that he helps his mom with the cooking. And even though he’s not doing much right now, even though he’s just cutting up vegetables, he’s enjoying himself.

He likes to know he’s helping.

“What about you?” Jimin says after a moment. “You look like you know your way around a kitchen.” He tilts his head in interest. “Did your parents teach you how to cook?”

“Um,” Jungkook chuckles, though there’s more of a sense of awkwardness in it than there is a sense of humour. “Not exactly. My mom didn’t really cook. And my dad was always busy, so he never had time to either.” He pours some oil into the pan, avoiding Jimin’s eyes. “We had someone who cooked for us.”

“Oh.” Jimin stops cutting. He doesn’t really know what to say. “That’s cool.” And that was a lame response, but it’s better than not saying anything at all. He doesn’t know why he’s surprised to hear that Jungkook’s family had someone that cooked their meals for them. He shouldn’t be surprised considering his high-end apartment, but still. Jimin hasn’t ever met anyone who grew up with hired help. He hopes Jungkook won't think he's judging him for it. 

“Yeah. My parents actually enrolled me in cooking classes when I was younger, so that’s how I learned.”

“Really?” Jimin sees a way out, and he takes it. He perks up a bit, resuming his cutting. “Do you have any pictures from those classes?”

“Pictures?" Jungkook repeats slowly, warily. "I don't know...why do you ask?" 

“I wanna see kid you in an oversized chef hat and an apron, looking all serious while making a grilled cheese.” Jimin replies with a smile. The idea of it is rather adorable.

Jungkook snickers. “Even if I did have pictures like that, I would never show you.”

“Why not?” 

“You’d probably find a way to blackmail me with them.”  

“Would not.” Jimin murmurs unconvincingly.

“Well, I’m not willing to risk it – are you finished cutting yet?”

If there are pictures of kid Jungkook cooking out there, Jimin will find them. One day. For now, he drops the subject in favour of showing off his handiwork. “Yep,” Jimin beams, stepping away from the cutting board. “I'm all done.”

“Are you?” Jungkook walks over to inspect Jimin’s work, and after one quick look, he raises a skeptical brow. “You forgot the onion.” He points to it, amused.

Jimin didn’t forgot the onion. “I know.” Jimin purposely left the onion out. “I figured that I’d give you the honour of cutting the onion.” He says sweetly, as if he’s doing a special favour just for Jungkook.

“The honour?” The corner of Jungkook’s mouth twitches as he reaches out to take the knife from Jimin. “Jimin.” Jungkook hums, head tilting to the side. “Are you afraid of cutting onions?” He doesn’t mask his smile, allowing it to have free reign over his face.

“I’m not afraid.” Jimin is quick to refute. “I’m just–”

“Prejudiced towards onions?”

“No.” Jimin murmurs, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Then what do you have against them?”

“Nothing, I just hate cutting them, okay?” The cat’s out of the bag. Park Jimin is discriminatory when it comes to onions. But for good reason. “I haven’t known you long enough to cry in front of you.”

Jungkook laughs, eyes shining, and Jimin thinks the way that Jungkook scrunches up his nose when he laughs is one of his best quirks.  

“Okay, fine.” Jungkook humours Jimin, much to his delight. “I’ll cut it for you. But you’re gonna have to face your fears one day.”

“I’m not afraid!” Jimin says with a breathy laugh.

“Onions can’t hurt you, Jimin.”

“Rub one on your eye, and then try telling me that again.”

“Touché.”

Jungkook doesn’t even bat an eye when he chops up the onion. Jimin expected him to at least get a little teary, but no. Jeon Jungkook is even good at cutting onions. Jimin is convinced that there’s nothing this guy can’t do.

It’s not long before they’re sitting down at the table to eat, and Jimin isn’t shy about telling Jungkook how good it is, and he doesn’t hold back when it comes to thanking him either. Jungkook making dinner for him was such a sweet gesture – so sweet that it makes Jimin’s smile never want to leave his face.

“We make a pretty good team, you know.” Jimin says, swinging his legs back and forth underneath the table, and even though he’d been happy before, now that he has some food in his belly, he’s even happier. “This is honestly the best thing I’ve eaten since I left for uni.”

“Really?” Jungkook smiles, looking down at his food. “I’m glad that you like it.” He pushes the pasta around his plate with his chopsticks. “If you want, we can do it again some time.”

“Depends.” Jimin says, a certain playfulness in his voice.

Jungkook raises his eyes, watching Jimin with an expression that’s half confused and half curious. “On?”

“Are you gonna make me cut the onions?”

With his head tilting back a bit, Jungkook laughs, the corners of his eyes creasing. “No, Jimin.” He shakes his head slowly, still smiling. “I won’t make you cut the onions.”

“Yeah?” Jimin doesn’t buy it, not for a second. “And what happened to that whole thing about me needing to face my fears?”

“I’ve decided that I’ll face them for you.”

Jimin certainly didn’t expect that – he hadn’t expected such a chivalrous response, not while they’re discussing something as ridiculous as vegetable cutting. He presses the back of his hand to his lips in an effort to stifle his laugh, not wanting to embarrass himself by having noodles fly out of his mouth. Jungkook is a practical person, and Jimin knows that… but he is ridiculous in his own unique way.

“Will you?” Jimin lowers his hand once he’d successfully swallowed his mouthful, putting his smile on full display. “What made you change your mind?”

Jungkook shrugs. “I don’t want to see you cry.”

And Jimin didn’t expect that, either.

Maybe it’s stupid to find those words sweet. Maybe it’s stupid for those words from Jungkook to flood Jimin with warmth. Maybe it is.

But even if it' stupid, Jimin still thinks that it's one of the sweetest things that anyone has ever said to him, and he still feels warmth washing over him.

Jimin’s mouth curves into a sweet smile, and even though he can feel heat rising to his cheeks, he doesn’t resent it. He doesn’t dislike blushing in front of Jungkook. “Well, I guess that’s a good thing. Because I’m a really ugly crier. And I don’t want you to have to see that.”

“I’m not that shallow, you know.” Jungkook chuckles, reaching out for his glass of water. “I’m not going to stop being your friend just because you’re an ugly crier. I mean,” he pauses, fixing Jimin with a lopsided grin. “I’m still hanging out with you, even though I’ve heard the way you laugh.”

“Hey!” Repaying Jungkook by gently nudging his foot, Jimin squints his eyes at him, showing off a glare that isn’t intimidating in the slightest. “Rude.”

“Payback for you making fun of my laugh.”

“You mean your snort?”

“Uncalled for.”

They spend the rest of their dinner like that. They joke readily, talk easily, can barely go for longer than a few seconds without smiling at least a little bit.

Jimin leaves Jungkook’s apartment an hour or so later, once they’d cleaned everything up. Jungkook offers to take the bus back with Jimin, saying that it’s dark out and he doesn’t know the area very well, and Jimin is appreciative of the offer, but of course he declines it. He assures Jungkook that he’ll be just fine, and that he’ll text him when he makes it back to the dorms.

But Jimin doesn’t take the bus back. The walk back is only about thirty-minutes, and he’s in good spirits right now, and won’t mind the walk at all.

Jimin zips up his jacket all the way to his chin to shield himself from the slight chill in the night air, and he shoves his hands into his pockets, keeping his head up as he walks down the sidewalk. As he listens to the din of traffic, his mind wanders, and his thoughts naturally drift to Jungkook.

Jimin is still learning so much about him, and he loves learning more about him, and he wants to learn more about him.

But the more he learns about Jungkook, the more he starts to wonder. He wonders what it would be like to grow up in a family where his mom didn’t cook for him, and where his dad was always busy with work. He wonders what it’s like to live in that big apartment all alone.

Jungkook’s apartment is nice – it’s gorgeous– and it has everything that a university student could need, and then some. But Jimin wonders.

He wonders if Jungkook is lonely.

Jimin knows he wouldn’t be able to live there by himself. Even though Taehyung can be kind of messy sometimes, Jimin loves him and he loves living with him, and he couldn’t imagine having to live alone.

He wonders if Jungkook is used to being alone.

And that thought hurts Jimin, because he cares about Jungkook. They haven’t known each other for very long, but he knows enough about him to know that he’s a good person, and to know that he cares about him. Jimin wants to make sure that Jungkook is always smiling.

He’s never seen Jungkook sad, and Jimin wants to keep it that way.

He doesn’t ever want Jungkook to feel like he’s alone.

 

Chapter Text

“Let me.” Jimin clasps his hands together to show his conviction, even lets his lower lip stick out a bit so that he’s showing off a subtle pout.

“Jimin,” a breathy chuckle pushes past Jungkook’s lips. “It’s fine. You don’t need to.”

“I know that I don’t need to.” Jimin says. “But I want to.” He makes it a point to copy Jungkook’s words from the night he’d insisted on cooking dinner for him. “Come on,” Jimin stands up from his chair, leaving his notes where they lay spread out across Jungkook’s table. “Go to the couch.”

Jungkook is stubborn, Jimin knows that, so he does his best to speak in a commanding tone that doesn’t leave any room for arguments.

“Fine.” Jungkook relents, letting out a soft sigh, and even though he’s acting like this is an inconvenience, a faint smile still shows through as he pushes his chair away from the table.

Satisfied that Jungkook had given in without too much trouble, Jimin happily makes his way to the living room. 

“You know,” Jungkook takes a seat in the middle of the leather couch, tilting his head back to look at Jimin, who’s now standing behind him. “When I told you that my shoulders were sore, I didn’t say it so that you’d give me a massage.”

“I know.” Jimin smiles at him sweetly to take the bite out of his next words. “You said it because you’re whiny.” When Jungkook laughs, his shoulders shake a bit, and Jimin puts his hands on them as if to still him. “No, but seriously, I give Tae massages all the time. It’s no big deal. And I still owe you for cooking dinner for me.”

“You don’t owe me anything–”

“Just be quiet and let me massage you.” Jimin hushes him, and Jungkook doesn’t say anything more, just shakes his head in amusement as he lets Jimin work his fingers into his shoulders.

When they’d been studying earlier, Jimin would glance up every now and then, and he’d notice Jungkook rolling his shoulder back and forth, grimacing as he held onto it. At first, Jimin didn’t think anything of it, but when Jungkook kept doing it, he had to know what was going on. After Jimin asked what was up, Jungkook (reluctantly) admitted that his shoulders have been killing him lately (probably because of the way he’s always hunched over at a desk, working on something). And the second he told Jimin that, Jimin was on his feet, ushering Jungkook over to the couch, not willing to allow him to continue studying in discomfort.

It’s not uncommon for him to jump at the chance to help Jungkook – Jimin often finds himself wanting to help out in any way that he can. He’s really grown to enjoy seeing a soft smile grace Jungkook’s lips while he murmurs a shy thank you.

Besides that, they’d been diligently working for long enough today, and Jimin figures they could both use a break.

And that’s how they got to where they are now; with Jimin pressing his fingertips into the taut muscles of Jungkook’s shoulders, while Jungkook’s head lolls to the side, letting out a quiet grunt every now and then. Jimin is in the zone – he’s had years of practice ironing out knots in Taehyung’s back, and he’s just starting to really dig his thumb into a particularly stubborn knot in Jungkook’s shoulder when he’s interrupted by someone’s voice coming from behind him.

“Well what do we have here?”

At the sound of the voice, Jungkook tenses up a bit in surprise, but Jimin on the other hand, nearly suffers from a heart attack.

His eyes go wide, and an embarrassing squeak escapes his parted lips as he practically vaults himself over the back of the couch, scrambling to get to the opposite side so he can put a bit of distance between himself and the intruder. At this point, Jimin’s heart is pumping so fast that it nearly breaks free from his chest, but all of his nerves and all of his panic dissipate into thin air when he actually looks to see who had spoken.

Standing there leaning against the doorframe is JK, eyebrows raised as he takes in the scene before him. He crosses his arms over his chest, eyes scanning over Jimin appraisingly. “When Jungkook is done, can I have a turn?”

Even though Jimin has calmed down significantly after realizing that he’s not in danger of being physically harmed (just mentally), he still wouldn’t necessarily classify himself as calm. His mouth is hanging open, and his eyes are big, rounded with incredulousness as he stares at JK. “How’d you even get in here?” Jimin points an accusing finger, and JK brushes it off with a shrug.

“I know the passcode. Everyone who works in the lobby knows me.” JK steps further into the apartment, nonchalant in a way that suggests he’s no stranger to being there. “Wasn’t really that hard.”

Jimin stops pointing, lets his arm hang at his side, feeling a bit ashamed about the way he jumped to conclusions. He automatically assumed that JK was, for some reason, banned from the apartment, and that he must’ve pulled off an elaborate heist to get inside.

Sometimes, Jimin forgets that just because heisn’t particularly fond of JK, doesn’t mean that Jungkook isn’t fond of him. He never even considered the possibility that Jungkook had given JK the passcode, and lets him come and go as he pleases.

Jungkook remains where he’s sitting on the couch, but turns so that he can face his brother. “Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled that you came to grace us with your company,” Jungkook starts, a faint smile on his lips, which makes JK’s own smile widen as he saunters on over to the couch. “But I wish you’d text me and let me know when you’re coming over.”

“I figured I’d surprise you.” JK’s eyes flit over to Jimin, and suddenly, the smile that he’d been wearing feels more teasing than it had been before. “Hope I wasn’t interrupting anything important.”

A flush of colour washes over Jimin’s cheeks, but he ignores it, and tries not to let the gleam in JK’s eyes make him feel like he should have something to be embarrassed about.

“You weren’t interrupting anything.” Jungkook assures.

And of course, he’s right.

And Jimin shouldn’t feel flustered, because it’s not like JK had walked in on anything particularly incriminating, but he hadn’t mentally prepared himself to deal with JK today, so he finds himself flustered anyway.

“Good.” JK says, pausing once he’d made it over to them, so that just the couch separates him from Jimin and Jungkook. “Honestly, I’m kinda jealous,” he points a thumb in Jimin’s direction. “You get back rubs, but the only things I ever get from Jimin are angry texts asking when we’re gonna start our project.”

Jimin narrows his eyes, and it’s probably a good thing that there’s a couch between them right now. “And you still haven’t given me an answer.”

“I’m a busy man.” JK answers easily.

Before Jimin can offer a snippy remark about how JK is an irresponsible one too, Jungkook cuts in with a well-timed question.

“Why’d you stop by, anyway?”

“What, is it a crime to visit my favourite twin brother?”

Jungkook cocks an eyebrow, unconvinced, but thoroughly amused.

“I was gonna ask to borrow a shirt.” JK supplies, which has Jungkook nodding his head in understanding, seemingly more satisfied with that response. “Have a date tonight and didn’t really have time to do laundry.”

Jimin freezes. He doesn’t know why he’s so shocked to hear JK say that. JK is obviously a flirt, so obviously he must go out on lots of dates with other people. It shouldn’t be surprising to Jimin in the slightest. And yet, Jimin finds himself surprised.

Surprised that someone out there actually finds him charming.

“You didn’t have time?” Jungkook’s voice interrupts Jimin’s thoughts, and he looks over just in time to watch a knowing smile spread over his lips. “Or you just didn’t want to do it?”

“You know me too well.” JK says, lifting his chin in Jimin’s direction. “Almost as well as Jimin knows me.”

“I don’t know you that well!” Jimin blurts out before he can stop himself. A flash of panic shoots straight through him, and he’s quick to look at Jungkook so that he can see what kind of damage JK’s comment had incurred.

But, judging from the way Jungkook has to dig his two front teeth into his lower lip to conceal his smile, he hadn’t interpreted JK’s comment in a damaging way. Rather, he seems to find humour in Jimin’s response to the comment – probably taking Jimin’s hasty defense as a sign that JK is indeed getting to him.

JK is annoying for getting to him, and Jungkook is annoying for knowing that JK is getting to him, so now Jimin is doubly annoyed, and he finds himself rolling his eyes at the both of them. It’s not fair. It’s two against one.

“Anyway, you said you needed a shirt?” Jungkook says after a moment, and Jimin is content with fading into the background at this point, staying out of their conversation and out of the line of fire. “What kind of shirt are you looking for? What sort of date is it?”

“Oh, you know. The standard.” JK says with a flippant wave of his hand. He adopts a rather theatrical tone, one that suggests he’s more prim and proper than he really is. “We’re flying to Paris for dinner. Might make a quick stop in Italy for a quick gondola ride and a wine tasting.” When Jungkook snorts, JK grins and drops the act. “It’s just gonna be food and a movie.”

“So something casual.” Jungkook leads the way to his bedroom, but when Jimin doesn’t make a move to follow them, he hesitates. “Jimin,” he says, looking over his shoulder with a curious expression. “You can come, you know. Want to help pick something out?”

For some reason, Jimin feels a little weird about the idea of helping JK pick out an outfit for his date. He shakes his head, but makes sure to offer up a smile along with it, not wanting Jungkook to think he feels excluded, because that’s not the case at all. “That’s okay – I think JK’s in good hands with you.” Besides, Jimin can only imagine the teasing that JK would subject him to if he were to accompany them into the bedroom.

“Yeah,” JK beams at Jimin, just as shameless as the spark in his eye. “But I’d rather be in your hands.”

And that is precisely what Jimin is trying to avoid.

Jimin has to bite his tongue to stop himself from saying something about how if his hands were ever on JK, they’d be around his neck. But, he’s fairly certain that saying something like that would only incite JK to make another one of his suggestive comments. So Jimin holds back, and settles for shooting him a piercing glare instead.

“Stop harassing my guest.” Jungkook warns, sounding a little playful, but looking a lot serious when he fixes JK with a reproving stare.

JK sighs dramatically. “You’re no fun.” His eyes flit over to Jimin for only a split second, but it’s more than enough time for Jimin to catch the mischievousness flash in them.

And now, Jimin finds himself thinking about what JK said to him in class that one day. How JK said that he could have more fun with him.

Jungkook puts a hand on JK’s shoulder, steering him towards his room, and Jimin is glad that he chooses to whisk his brother away now. “Let’s find you a shirt.”

Jimin doesn’t understand how it is that JK manages to outdo himself every day – how every day, he proves to be bolder than he was the last. It could honestly be considered a talent at this point, though Jimin would never admit to him that he’s talented in any way, shape, or form.

Jimin plops himself down on the couch, figuring that he should enjoy this break from the teasing while it lasts, and he pulls out his phone to do a bit of mindless scrolling through social media.

However, Jimin can’t quite focus on his phone – he soon finds that he’s rather distracted by something else. From where he’s sitting on the couch, he can hear both Jungkook and JK perfectly. He’s not eavesdropping on them, because he’s not trying to listen in. He just happens to be able to hear their voices loud and clear from where they are in Jungkook’s room.

Jimin smiles faintly, knuckles lightly pressing against his lips as he listens.

“Do you have anything black?” JK asks, and Jimin hears the sound of a closet door sliding open. “I look best in black.”

“Why don’t you try something with a bit of colour?”

“Grey? You got any grey?”

“What about this?” Jungkook suggests, his words followed by the subtle scraping of clothes hangers. “Try this.”

There’s a pause.

“It’s blue.” JK finally says, and it’s easy to hear his deadpan expression.

“You look good in blue.”

“Blue looks good on you, not so much me.”

“JK, it looks the same on both of us.”

“See, that’s what you’d think.”

They go back and forth like that for a while, and Jimin finds their exchange to be strangely endearing. When Jungkook had told him that he gets along with JK for the most part, he’d certainly been telling the truth. Maybe it’s odd to think that someone like Jungkook can get along so well with someone like JK, but still, it’s obvious that they get along despite their obvious differences.

And that gives Jimin a bit of confidence, because if Jungkook can handle being JK’s twin brother, then Jimin can handle being JK’s partner for a school project.

It’s not long before Jungkook and JK emerge from the bedroom, and when they do, Jimin is sure to have his head down and his eyes glued to his phone as if he hadn’t just been listening to them the entire time. He only glances up at the sound of JK’s voice.

“Thanks for the shirt, Kookie.” JK waves around the garment carelessly, and Jimin supposes it’s better to be concerned with whether or not clothes are clean than with whether or not they’re wrinkled.

The shirt is a dark navy-blue, and upon seeing it, Jimin smiles faintly, suspecting that it’s the closest thing to colour Jungkook could get JK to wear.

“Just remember to bring it back, please.” Jungkook says, following behind JK as he heads for the door, seeing him out. “And try not to get it dirty.”

“You have no faith in me, do you?”

Even from where he’s sitting on the couch, Jimin can see the dubious expression that’s taking over Jungkook’s face.

“The last time I let you borrow a shirt, you gave it back with most of the buttons missing. And there was a giant tear in it.”

“Yeah.” JK sighs wistfully, getting a faraway look in his eye. “Now that was a party.” He seems to come back to his senses, and his focus shifts to Jimin. “I’ll see you later – we should definitely get started on that project of ours. We’ve been kind of slacking.”

Jimin’s smile fades. His mouth drops open, fully offended by JK’s audacity.“We’ve?” He repeats, his tone coming out more shrilly than he’d meant for it to.

Unlike JK, Jimin has actually been trying to find a time that works for the both of them so they can start their assignment, but JK never seems to have time to meet up. Yet, he manages to find time to go out on dates.

Go figure.

Jimin has a lot to say to JK right now, but before he gets the chance to say anything, before he can give him the scolding that he deserves, JK is waving goodbye.

“I’ll see you guys later – have fun." He calls over his shoulder. "Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”

Jimin thinks back to when Jungkook told him not to worry about JK, and how he told him that JK was harmless.

Yeah. Jimin isn’t so sure about that.

---

It’s a couple days later when he sees JK next. They’d finally agreed on a day and a time to meet for their project. Or at least, Jimin thought they did. 

Jimin gets to the library on time – he’s always on time – and when he sees that JK isn’t there yet, he’s not exactly surprised. He honestly anticipated it, and it would even be kind of weird if JK came right when he was supposed to come. Jimin didn’t expect him to show up right on time. But he didn’t expect him to be this late.

When JK finally shows up, it's hours after their agreed upon time. Jimin isn’t even angry at him at this point. He’s just tired. He's so tired of this. Whatever game JK is having so much fun playing, isn’t a game that Jimin is willing to play. It’s not even just about him anymore – it’s about his education – it’s about his marks for a class that he cares about.

JK approaches slowly, almost uncertainly, and Jimin watches him in silence, arms crossed over his chest. When JK comes to a stop, he's standing at the opposite end of the table, and offers up a faint smile. It’s not a cocky one; it doesn’t radiate self-assuredness like it usually does, in fact, this smile is a mere delicate quirking of the lips.

And it looks innocent, almost sweet, it looks like it’s laced with something akin to shame, and it is still one of the most aggravating things that Jimin has seen in his whole entire life.

Jimin stares up at JK, his expression cool, though he can feel the heat of his frustration residing just below, nearly bubbling up to the surface. “You’re late.”

“I know.” JK says, head dipping almost imperceptibly.

“I’ve been waiting here for over an hour.”

“I know.” JK says again. He pulls out a chair carefully, taking the seat across from Jimin. “I should’ve texted you saying I was gonna be late–”

“Do you not get it? It’s not just about that, JK.” Jimin frowns, his cool disposition ebbing away. “I asked if you could meet up at one, and you said you couldn’t, so then I asked if you could meet at three, and you said you couldn’t. So then I asked you to pick a time that you could make, and you said that six worked for you, but then at six-thirty, you text me saying you changed your mind, and that eight actually worked best, but I was already at the library by that time, so I just stayed because there was no point in going back. And then you didn’t even show up on time for eight.”

While Jimin had been disappointed before JK even showed up, saying everything out loud like this just serves as a reminder of how inconsiderate JK had been, and gives him a renewed sense of frustration.

“I’m sorry.” JK draws in a breath just to blow it out the next second. He shakes his head, “I didn’t plan on being late–”

“I know you don’t give a shit about school.” Even though JK apologized, and even if he really is sorry, Jimin isn’t done with him. He’s not going to accept his apology and move on, he’s not going to let JK think that it’s okay to do this type of thing, and get off scot-free. “I know you couldn’t care less about your grades, or about what people think of you, or about anything, really. But I do. I care. I take my grades seriously, and you’re wrong if you think I’m gonna sit back and let you make a joke out of it.”

When Jimin finally finishes, he's wearing a severe frown, and is more than ready for some snarky comment or a lame excuse from JK. But he doesn’t get either of those. He doesn’t get anything close to what he’d been expecting.

Instead, he gets JK nodding his head in solemn understanding. “I know you do.” JK’s gaze shifts from Jimin’s face so that he's now staring down on the tabletop, making him look like a little kid whose mother had just scolded him for taking a cookie out of the cookie jar. “And I really am sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Jimin blinks. Frankly, he's shocked by JK’s response. He can't believe that he actually seemed to get through to him, and Jimin wants to rejoice in that fact, but he can't. The trouble is, Jimin doesn't know where to go from here, because he didn’t think he’d get this far. He was fully prepared to go into battle. But right now, as he studies JK, he doesn't feel even a hint of frustration. What he does feel, is a twinge of guilt.

Had he been too harsh on him?

The second that thought creeps into his mind, Jimin shakes his head as if to shake some sense into himself. No. No, he hadn’t been too harsh– everything he said to JK had been completely necessary. Jimin knows that. Still, he finds himself wondering if he should’ve been a bit gentler.

Jimin clears his throat. “Whatever.” He shrugs with as much nonchalance as he can muster, tries to make it seem like he's indifferent to JK’s unexpected display of remorse. “Let’s just start now, yeah? There’s a lot we have to do.”

JK’s glances up, eyes finding Jimin’s. “Okay." He nods. "And I don’t have anywhere to be after this – I can stay for as long as you need me to.”

"Good." Jimin maintains his unaffected air. "Let's get started." 

They work without any distractions – without any off-topic remarks or playful comments. Of course, Jimin is stunned by the drastic change in JK's behaviour, he’s stunned that the guy is capable of being something else besides his usual teasing self. Though, considering how he's supposed to be focused on their project, Jimin tries not to put too much thought into this different side of JK.

JK doesn’t talk much throughout it, he mostly just nods along to what Jimin says, and jots down a few notes here and there. In a way, Jimin is pretty much making decisions for their group project all on his own, but JK doesn’t seem to mind, and Jimin doesn’t really care either – he’s just glad they’re finally getting shit done.

After a couple hours of working, Jimin decides that they should call it a night. He's more than happy with leaving things as they are for now – he's actually quite pleased with their progress. He tells JK that he thinks they've done enough for tonight, and JK still doesn't say anything, he just nods agreeably, just like he'd been doing ever since he showed up to the library. 

It’s only when Jimin starts packing up his belongings that JK finally decides to speak up again.

“Are you going back to the dorms?” He asks, watching as Jimin shoves his books into his bag.

Jimin glances up at him, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “Yeah, that was the plan.” He gets up from his chair, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “Why?”

“Let me make it up to you.”

“Make it up to me?” Jimin repeats, eyebrows raised.

“I feel like a dick for making you wait today–”

“And you should.”

The corner of JK’s mouth quirks. “I should.” He agrees. “So let me make it up to you. You don’t have anything else to do tonight, right?”

Jimin actually does have something to do tonight. He hesitates, gently nibbling at his bottom lip. “Well…I was gonna go home and work on an essay–”

“Right, so you have nothing to do.”

“An essay is something.” Jimin refutes, and the speed of his response is enough to humour JK even further. Sure, an essay’s not necessarily an exciting something, but it’s still something.

“Suddenly, it makes sense that you get along with Jungkook so well.” JK quiets, and if Jimin didn’t know him any better, then he’d think he looks a little reflective – even if it's only for a moment. “So…” JK starts again, jerking his head in the direction of the doors. “Let me make it up to you?”

Jimin doesn’t know why he says yes. Maybe he does it out of curiosity, or maybe it’s out of boredom, or maybe it’s because he’d feel bad if he turned him down. What makes Jimin nod his head and follow JK out of the library is a mystery even to himself. 

It turns out that JK's definition of making it up to Jimin, is taking him to the school cafeteria and treating him to instant ramen. Jimin doesn't mind though, and he'd be an idiot to complain about this. This is the nicest thing JK's ever done for him, and he’ll take what he can get.

Besides, free food isn’t ever anything to scoff at.

They sit at a table near the window, even though it’s dark outside and there’s not really much to look. Seeing as it’s rather late, the cafeteria is quiet – bizarrely quiet – but the reason why it feel so bizarre isn’t because of the absence of other students. It’s because JK is still being quiet, and Jimin still isn't used to it.

Usually when JK is quiet, Jimin feels like the guy is taunting him in some way, but right now it just feels like JK is being quiet out of politeness. Before this, Jimin would’ve rejoiced in the idea of JK keeping his speaking to a minimum, but now, Jimin just finds the silence between them to be a little unsettling.

He watches as JK peels back the lid from his bowl, letting the steam escape into the air, and Jimin notices that he keeps his eyes down the whole time, doesn’t even glance up at him once.

Now, Jimin is more certain than ever that JK truly does feel bad about how he made him wait in the library tonight, and it's weird because Jimin doesn’t want JK to feel bad. Sure, Jimin had been more than a little pissed off at him earlier, but not anymore. After JK buckled down and showed him that he was actually capable of seriously working, most of Jimin’s anger had left.

It looks like JK still thinks he’s upset though, and it feels like he’s not talking because he doesn’t want to risk pissing Jimin off even more.

Jimin isn’t pissed off though – he honestly just wants to put an end to the tension lingering in the air around them. Picking up his chopsticks, Jimin eyes JK, absentmindedly poking at his food. “What are you in school for, anyway?” He asks, hoping that if he’s the one to initiate a conversation, JK will see that he doesn’t hold any hostility towards him. “I don’t think I’ve ever asked you.” Now that Jimin thinks about it, he hasn’t asked a lot of things about JK. Really, he doesn’t know much about him at all.

JK looks up, casual as stirs around his ramen. “Accounting.” And his answer is spoken casually too.

But Jimin doesn’t react to his answer with anything even close to casualness. Jimin slaps a hand over his own mouth, nearly chokes on his ramen when an unexpected laugh bubbles up to the surface.

“Something funny?” JK tilts his head, asking in a way that makes it clear he knows exactly what it is that Jimin finds so funny.

“You’re an accounting major?” Even though Jimin had managed to regain enough of his composure to properly speak, saying those words out loud while looking at JK makes him feel like he’s about to break down again at any second. “Are you serious?”

“I never kid, remember?” A familiar smile tugs at the corner of JK’s mouth – the playful one that Jimin is so used to seeing him wearing – but this time, it’s a little milder, a little less irritating.

Jimin shakes his head. “I know, but…” He tries to imagine JK sitting at a desk, crunching numbers, dainty glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. Needless to say, Jimin is having a hard time picturing JK like that, and he ends up having to turn away and cough into his fist to conceal another round of giggles.

“Yeah, yeah. Laugh all you want.”

“I’m not laughing.” Jimin claims. Now, he’s just trying to contain his smile. “So…” But he isn’t doing a very good job at containing it. “You’re an accounting student, who’s taking a literature class just for fun?”

“I’m taking all my classes just for fun.”

“What do you mean?” Jimin cocks his head, his curiosity sufficiently piqued. 

“I’m in a sports psychology class, a cinema class,” JK sets his chopsticks down momentarily, listing off his courses on his fingers as he glances up at the ceiling. “Astronomy, physical education,” after a brief pause, his eyes settle on Jimin once more. “Oh, and our literature class.”

This is officially the most confused that JK has ever made Jimin feel.

“Wait…let me get this straight.” Jimin pushes a hand through his hair, leaving his fingers there, tangled in his blonde tresses. “You’re an accounting major…” He says carefully, as if speaking slowly will help him make sense of this all. “But you’re not in any classes that are going to go towards an accounting degree?”

“Yup.” 

“Isn’t that kind of a waste of money?”

“A huge waste.”

Jimin knows that JK’s family is well off, but still, it’s frustrating to hear him speak about money with such indifference, especially when there are so many people who want to be in university, but can’t afford it. He shakes his head, struggling to follow JK’s logic, but he just can’t make sense of it – of him. “Then why are you even in accounting?" Jimin frowns. "Why are you even here?”

JK doesn’t seem bothered by the hint of accusation seeping into Jimin’s tone. He shrugs. “Because my dad wanted me to be.” 

“Oh…” Jimin murmurs, suddenly feeling contrite for no particular reason. He chews at the inside of his cheek. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” A faint laugh follows JK’s words. “It’s not exactly your fault.”

“No, I know…But that still sucks.”

“It’s whatever.”

Jimin had been raised in a supportive family, had always been told that he could do whatever he wanted to do when he grew up, and he can't imagine what it would feel like to be forced to go to school for something he didn't even want to do. He doesn't want to imagine it.

And he doesn't want to get into it with JK right now. Even though JK doesn’t necessarily look uncomfortable, he doesn’t seem like he's too keen on going much deeper into things, and Jimin doesn’t really mind if they don't. They aren’t really that close, they don’t really need to get that personal.

So Jimin steers their conversation in another direction, wanting to ease them back into more light-hearted territory. 

"You know." He taps his fingers on the table, thoughtful as he observes JK. “I kind of get why you chose all those other courses… but why’d you choose the literature class?”

“Thought it sounded interesting.” JK admits with a casual roll of his shoulders.

Jimin blinks at him. “You thought survey of western literature sounded interesting?” A smile spreads over his face, and he’s delighted to see that JK doesn’t only laugh at other people, but he can laugh at himself, too.

“Wasn’t my brightest moment.”

“Yeah. I have a feeling those are few and far between for you.”

“Okay, ouch. But I guess I deserved that.”

“You did.”

And he probably deserves much worse than just that, but Jimin doesn't have it in him to be cruel. 

 

When Jimin and JK go their separate ways that night, Jimin is left with a strange sense of uncertainty clouding his head. He thought that he had JK figured out, he thought that he knew who JK was. 

Jimin thought that when it came to JK, what you see is what you get. But what if there’s more to him? What if Jimin had been wrong to assume all those negative things about him? What if there’s more to JK than his surface-level smirks and teasing banter?

There's something unsettling sitting on the bottom of Jimin's stomach, something he can’t ignore.

Jimin is nervous. He’s nervous to learn more about JK.

He’s nervous, because he wants to learn more. 

Chapter Text

Jimin hasn’t ever met anyone who works as hard as Jeon Jungkook works. Jungkook pours all of his energy – his entire soul– into everything he does, whether it involves school, or something else entirely. No one works as hard as Jungkook works, and Jimin admires that a lot about him.

There are honestly a lot of things to admire about Jungkook. And right now, Jimin has the perfect opportunity to just sit and admire.

It’s a little past eight o’clock on Tuesday evening, and Jungkook has fallen asleep at the table. Jimin is there, sitting across from him, a fond smile making his eyes fill with warmth as he sweeps his gaze over Jungkook.

These days, Jimin studies at Jungkook’s apartment a lot, and the two of them often find themselves studying late into the night. Jimin is used to spending time with Jungkook in comfortable silence as they study, and he’s used to being over at Jungkook’s place long after the sun has set. But he isn’t used to seeing Jungkook dozing off while in he’s in the middle of studying.

Jungkook’s eyes are closed, and the light from his open laptop spills over his face, illuminating it. He still has a highlighter between his fingers, held in a loose grip, and Jimin can hear his gentle breaths pushing past his slightly parted lips.

Jungkook works hard, Jimin knows that, and he'd always thought a hard worker is someone who is to be respected. Though, Jimin wonders if Jungkook goes overboard sometimes. Maybe he pushes himself too hard.

Jimin may be here to see Jungkook like this right now, but how often does this sort of thing happen? How often does he do this, how often does he study so much that he ends up just passing out at the table, using his textbook as a pillow?

Jimin’s smile turns a little sad.

Is this how Jungkook falls asleep at night when he’s all alone? The thought of it makes Jimin’s heart feel heavy. The thought of Jungkook waking up alone at the table – alone in his apartment – makes the corners of Jimin’s mouth sink.

Even if Jungkook is used to living alone, Jimin doesn’t ever want him to feel like he’s alone. He wants to take care of him.

After allowing his gaze to linger on Jungkook for a moment longer, Jimin draws in a deep breath and slowly pushes away from the table, making an effort to be as quiet as he possibly can. When he stands up, Jungkook doesn’t even stir. He must be really tired, and Jimin intends on letting him rest.

There’s something else that he wants to do for him too.

Tiptoeing his way to the kitchen, Jimin’s eyes flick back to Jungkook every now and then, just to make sure that he’s still sleeping. Jungkook remains as he is, with his cheek pressed against a page of his open textbook, and his face completely relaxed – free of all of the stress that today may have brought.

In the kitchen, Jimin is busy searching through cupboards in silence, and he has to open up a few different ones before he finally finds what he’s been looking for.

Ten minutes later, and he's carefully setting down a steaming hot cup of green tea next to Jungkook, who’s still snoozing away.

As he watches him, Jimin loses himself in thought, biting the edge of his lip. He still wants to do more for Jungkook, he wants him to be comfortable, and to feel all cozy when he finally wakes up. With that in mind, Jimin retrieves a fuzzy white blanket from off the couch in the living room, and with the utmost care, he lays it over Jungkook’s sleeping frame.

And Jungkook still doesn’t wake up.

Jimin is just about to set off on a mission to find a pillow so that Jungkook can have something soft to rest his head on, but his steps falter when he hears a faint groan coming from the table.

“Did I…” Jungkook mumbles, his voice thick with traces of sleep, and Jimin feels rather fond when he watches him slowly lift his head and blink his eyes open. “Did I fall asleep?” There’s a tuft of unruly hair sticking out at his forehead, and Jimin smiles at the sight of it.

“You did.” Jimin says softly.

Huffing out a sigh, Jungkook shakes his head “Sorry." The blanket covering his shoulders slips down a bit. "I stayed up late last night and I–” He cuts himself off, going silent when he reaches back, grabbing the blanket to stop it from falling off completely. The look of surprise on his face is only magnified when he notices the cup of tea in front of him. “You...” Jungkook’s voice is light, almost breathless, and the warmth in his gaze is enough to make Jimin melt. “Tea?” A slow, sincere smile stretches over Jungkook’s lips. “And,” he lifts a corner of the blanket, “this?” 

It’s not like making tea and bringing over a blanket had been difficult. Jimin’s actions really weren’t that noteworthy, and yet Jungkook is looking at him as if he’d stretched his arm up to the heavens, and brought it back down with a handful of stars.

“I thought you’d be more comfortable.” Jimin offers shyly.  

“You didn’t need to do that for me.” Jungkook reaches out for his tea, holding the cup in both hands, his eyes never leaving Jimin’s. “Thank you.”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s not. It’s not nothing.”

There’s no doubt in his words. The way that Jungkook says those words makes it very clear that to Jungkook, this had really been something. Jimin isn’t the one drinking tea, but he still feels a certain warmth in his chest.

Together, they decide that they’ve had enough studying for the night, and they leave the table with all their notes and books behind, and head to the living room instead. They spend the rest of their time together watching Planet Earth on Netflix.

The two of them share the fuzzy blanket, spreading it across both their laps as they sit side by side on the couch. Jimin has watched Planet Earth before, but he’s never watched it on a TV this big, and it makes the experience even better. It’s nice to just relax like this with Jungkook after a long day.

Jimin stares at the TV with wide eyes, fully immersed and appreciating each and every scene, but there’s one scene in particular that has him tearing his eyes away, and hurriedly pulling out his phone from his pocket. When Jungkook casts a curious glance at him, Jimin offers up an enthusiastic explanation.

“Tae loves monkeys.” Jimin beams, aiming his phone at the TV so that he can snap a picture of said monkeys. “I’m gonna send him a pic.” He sends it hoping that it’ll give Taehyung an energy boost that'll help carry him through the rest of his shift at work.

After putting his phone away, Jimin notices that Jungkook is watching him with faint smile.

“What?” Jimin asks, smiling back effortlessly – instinctively – even though he isn’t quite sure what it is that he’s smiling about.  

“Nothing. It’s just…” Jungkook gives a subtle shake of his head. “You and Taehyung. You guys are really close.” There’s softness in his eyes as his smile widens. “It’s good to have someone like that in your life.”

And Jimin couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing to have someone like Taehyung in his life, and he’s so thankful that he has him. Jimin sits up a little straighter, eagerness spurring him on and perking him up. “He’s my best friend – I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him.” He’s always ready to gush about Taehyung, and about how wonderful he is.

“He talks about you a lot.” Jungkook nods, shifting a bit so that he’s turned more towards Jimin than the TV. “In fact, in class the other day, he told me something very interesting about you.”

“Oh god.” Jimin pales, suddenly drained of all perkiness. Something about the look in Jungkook’s eye sets him on edge, and his mind is already racing, going through all the things that Taehyung could have possibly said, flashing through the most embarrassing stories that Taehyung could tell. “What did he say?” Jimin asks, visibly afraid to hear the answer. 

Jungkook leans over so that their shoulders are nearly brushing, and despite the serious air he’d just assumed, Jimin can see that there’s something playful hidden underneath. “You never told me that your birthday is coming up.”

Sweet relief washes over Jimin, and he blows out the breath that he didn’t know he’d been holding in. He could manage just fine if that’s really the only thing that Taehyung told him.

“Why?” With amusement dancing in his voice, Jungkook smiles a knowing smile. “What did you think I was gonna say?”

“Not important.” Jimin gives a flippant flick of his wrist. “But what you should know about Taehyung is that he’s a liar. A huge liar. There’s something seriously wrong with him, he needs help. So any embarrassing stories that he tells about me are completely fictional.”

“Really?” Jungkook is grinning now, and his eyes look so bright, even though most of the lights in the apartment have been dimmed. “Even the story about how you got stuck in a baby swing at the park and he had to call the fire department to come get you out?”

“He told you that?” Jimin gasps, but what he wants to do is groan and hide his face in his hands. “I can’t believe he’d do that to me.” He opts for crossing his arms over his chest, and sinking deeper into the couch, wishing it would just swallow him whole. “I can’t believe I just sent him that monkey picture.” He glances off to the side, muttering his next words underneath his breath. “Only good friends deserve monkey pictures.”

Jungkook laughs airily, and the sound of it is enough to dissolve Jimin’s bitter display. In reality, he’s not that upset with Taehyung…but he’ll be sure to make him regret telling Jungkook that story.

No more back rubs for a whole month. That’ll teach him.

“Anyway, I was gonna ask you something.” Jimin speaks up quickly, talking partly because he doesn’t want Jungkook to get a chance to tease him, but mostly because there really is something he’d been meaning to ask. Resting his hands in his lap, Jimin tries (and fails) to keep his keenness in check. “Are you doing anything on the thirteenth? You should come over for the afternoon. Tae works in the evening, so we were just gonna spend the day together. Order take-out and watch movies. Just hang out, you know?” Jimin pauses, his lips quirking hopefully. “You should come – tell me that you’ll come.”

Jungkook doesn’t even hesitate. “I’ll be there.” He says with a smile.

“Good.”

Truthfully, birthdays aren’t that big of a deal to Jimin. There doesn’t have to be some big celebration, and he doesn’t have to be surrounded by a bunch of people. As long as there’s cake (or some other sweet treat), and as long as there’s at least one person that he cares about with him, then he’ll consider his birthday a success.

“What should I bring?” Jungkook asks, and he looks as excited as Jimin feels. “What do you want for your birthday?”

Just like that, Jimin’s sunny disposition vanishes. “Don’t you dare buy me a present, Jeon Jungkook.” Jimin shakes a finger, meaning to look threatening, but when Jungkook glances at it, he has to press his lips together like he’s trying to fight off a smile. “I’m serious, if you buy me a present, I’ll never forgive you. Promise me right now that you won’t buy me anything.”

Jungkook doesn’t answer right away. It looks like he’s struggling not to laugh, but Jimin can still see the smile in his eyes. “Okay.” He finally says. “I won’t buy you anything.”

Unsatisfied, Jimin shakes his head. “You have to promise.” He holds up his hand, and lifts his pinky finger, offering it to Jungkook. “Promise?”

Jungkook doesn’t say anything. He blinks at Jimin, and then at his pinky, and then back at Jimin. There’s confusion creasing his brow, and he looks a little lost. “I…” He hesitates, tilting his head to the side. “I promise?” It’s spoken like a question, and now it’s Jimin’s turn to be confused.

“Do you not…” Jimin trails off, his eyes going wide, rounding with genuine intrigue. “Do you not know what a pinky promise is?”

“A pinky promise?”

“Yeah – you and your friends never did pinky promises when you were a kid?”

“I uh…no? I don’t think I ever did.”

“Oh.” Jungkook hasn’t ever made a pinky promise with someone? Jimin doesn’t know why that thought makes his heart ache.

“What do I have to do?”

“Well you kind of just…” Jimin holds his hand up a little higher. “Link your pinky with mine.”

Jungkook reaches out uncertainly, and when he locks his pinky with Jimin’s, he locks eyes with him too. Jimin smiles, finding something so adorably childlike in Jungkook’s shyness.

“Now what?” Jungkook asks curiously, and his innocence causes warmth to bloom throughout Jimin's chest.

“Now the promise is sealed.” Jimin says, smiling brightly. He slips his pinky out of Jungkook’s hold. “Now you can’t break it.”  

Jungkook nods slowly. “So a pinky promise is kind of like a binding contract?”

“I guess you could say that.”

“So it’s like a blood oath, but a little less hard-core?”

A bubbly laugh breaks free of Jimin’s chest, and he tips his head back, resting it against the couch. “Did you just compare a pinky promise to a blood oath?” His eyes crinkle at the corners, making it a little hard to see Jungkook, but he can see enough of him to know that he’s smiling too.

“What? They’re essentially the same thing.”

At that, Jimin laughs even harder, and it’s when he lets out a little squeak that Jungkook finally gives in and starts laughing along with him. 

---

Friday starts out typical enough. Jimin and Taehyung grab a coffee together before their classes that morning, and then Jimin spends the rest of the day in lectures. Later that evening, while Taehyung is at work, Jimin takes the bus over to Jungkook’s. They chat, watch a bit of Netflix, but they mostly work on homework, and nothing about it is out of the ordinary.

It’s later that night when things start to deviate from the path of what is ordinary.

Jimin is just finishing up an assignment when he gets a text from JK, asking if he wants to go to the bar for drinks. Jimin is hesitant.

It’s not like anything bad has happened recently with JK – their last conflict had been when he showed up late to the library, but that had been a while ago, and Jimin isn’t upset with him anymore. But still.

Going to the bar with him? The only time they really ever see each other is in class, or to work on their project, and the idea of hanging out with him outside of something school-related is a little strange.

It’s strange, but Jimin is still tempted to accept.

“Hey, Jungkook?” Jimin says softly, prompting Jungkook to tear his eyes away from his laptop, and fix his attention on him. “Um…” Why does he suddenly feel so self-conscious? Jimin shifts in his seat, nodding at his phone, “JK just asked me if I wanted to go to the bar–”

“You should go.” Jungkook says before Jimin can even get the rest of his words out.

He wanted to ask Jungkook whether or not he thought it was a good idea, but apparently, Jungkook seems to think that it’s a very good idea – he doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with it at all.

“Really?” Jimin doesn’t know what he expected Jungkook to say, but he feels a little taken aback, so he obviously hadn’t expected this.

“Jimin, it’s the weekend.” Jungkook smiles faintly, before gesturing to the various books and papers scattered out across the table. “Who wants to spend their weekend doing this? You should go.” He looks sincere. “You’ll have fun.”

“I’m having fun now.” Jimin says, earning a half-laugh half-snort from Jungkook. “I am!” He insists.

“No one has fun doing homework.”

Jimin is having fun though. And it’s not because he’s sitting at a table doing homework, it’s because he’s sitting at a table with Jungkook.

“Seriously, Jimin. You should go.” Jungkook is encouraging him now, smiling like he has Jimin’s best interest at heart, and Jimin knows he has his best interest at heart.

And Jimin tells himself that that’s the reason why he decides to take JK up on his offer. That, and because Jungkook doesn’t look like he’ll take no for an answer.

In reality, Jimin doesn’t know exactly why he ends up going to the bar with JK that night. But there’s something in the back of his head saying that it’s not just because of Jungkook’s encouragement.

 

And that’s how Jimin winds up where he is now. In a bar that’s not too far off campus, sitting at a table with JK on the other side of it. This bar is actually one of the better ones to go to if you want to talk– the background music isn’t overpowering, and it usually doesn’t get too rowdy there.

And even though this bar is more suited for chatting than most of the other bars, so far, Jimin and JK’s conversation has been at a minimum. It’s not that it’s necessarily awkward, it’s just that Jimin doesn’t know what they have to talk about. Usually, they meet up with the understanding that they’re going to be working on their project, and then things just go from there. But tonight’s different, and Jimin finds himself struggling to make small talk, especially when JK is quite literally pouring all of his attention into him – his eyes never leaving him for even a second.

“So.” Jimin says for the sake of saying something. They don’t have their drinks yet, and he doesn’t know what to do with his hands, so he starts picking the edge of the table with his fingernail. “How did your date go?”

“My date?” JK echoes with an entertained quirk of his lips.

“Yeah.”  The date had been over a week ago already, and Jimin has already seen JK a couple times since then, but he hasn't asked about how it went yet. And, seeing as he doesn’t know what else to talk about right now, Jimin thought it wasn’t a bad idea to ask. But it was probably a mistake to bring it up. “Was it good?”

“Why?” There’s nothing but playfulness glittering in JK’s eyes now. “You jealous?”

It was definitely a mistake to ask. 

Jimin rolls his eyes, as if that was sufficient enough of an answer, because in his mind, it is. He’s not jealous, and JK knows it. JK is just toying with him, like always, and Jimin will have to do his best to ignore it, like always.

When the server comes over with their drinks, Jimin lets out a silent breath of relief, grateful that he now has something to distract himself with. He reaches out to slide his drink closer, and busies himself with stirring the straw around the glass.

JK eyes Jimin’s drink, and amusement flashes over his features. He takes a swig of his beer, smiling around the rim of the bottle. Talking isn’t necessary when it comes to JK. The look on his face says it all for him.

Jimin stops his stirring, but the straw keeps circling around in the glass for a couple seconds. He lets out a resigned sigh. “Judge all you want.” 

“What?” JK feigns confusion, looking around the bar like he’s searching for an answer to his own question. “What did I do?”

“You’re making fun of me for my drink choices.” Jimin and Taehyung always get raspberry mojitos when they go to the bar. Jimin’s isn’t going to not get one just because he’s there with JK.

“Hey.” JK holds up his hands in defense, “I never said anything.” He leans forward a bit, crossing his arms and resting them on the edge of the table. “And it’s not like I’m surprised. I kind of expected you to get something like that.”

“Oh?” Jimin is honestly a little curious, but he tries to hide that curiosity by casually sipping at his drink. “Why’s that?”

JK shrugs. “I know what sort of coffee you order.” When Jimin doesn’t do anything but raise his eyebrows in response, JK shows off a smirk and then elaborates. “Caramel macchiato with extra caramel and extra whipped cream doesn’t exactly scream avid beer drinker.” 

Which might actually have some truth to it, because Jimin absolutely hates the taste of beer. Not that he's going to admit that out loud. “And what does it scream, then?” 

“I could tell you, but you probably wouldn’t like it.”

Jimin has to bite back a smile. Since when has that ever stopped JK from saying something? Jimin places a hand on his chest. “What?” He lets out an exaggerated gasp, and plasters on an animated look of surprise. “Jeon JK is refusing to tell me something because he’s concerned that I won’t like what he says? Am I dreaming?” He pauses for dramatic effect, and his smile finally shows through. “Is this…is this progress?”

JK tips his head back a bit, letting out a short little laugh, and as Jimin sips his drink and watches, he can’t help but feel a little proud of himself.

He likes this game a lot better than the games they usually play.

When JK’s eyes find Jimin’s once more, there are still traces of laughter on his face. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up.” JK says.

Jimin smiles sweetly. “I never do when it comes to you.”

His tone isn’t cutting like it usually is, and his words aren’t meant to offend JK. This time, it’s more playful than anything else.

“See, I’m teaching you valuable life skills, Jimin. Never get your hopes up, and you can never be let down.” JK raises his eyebrows expectantly, and taps a finger on the table a couple times. “Pull out your notebook, write this down.”

“I don’t carry around a notebook everywhere I go.” Jimin protests, but it’s a weak one, pacified by the way his mouth curves into a subtle smile. 

“Yeah, okay.” JK gives an unconvincing hum. “Sure you don’t.”

“I don’t!” Jimin insists, sounding more offended than he really is. He kicks JK’s shin underneath the table, but it’s not hard enough to hurt him, just hard enough to let him know that he can and he will kick his shin.

“Ow.” Jungkook murmurs, but his expression isn’t one of pain. “I thought you were supposed to be nice. That wasn’t very nice.”

“Nice people can do mean things.”

“Damn. Maybe I should’ve brought my notebook.”

Jimin props his elbow up on the table, resting his chin in his hand. “Like you own a notebook.” Despite the fact that those words aren’t necessarily sweet, Jimin makes sure to say them with a honeyed tone.

“Wow.” JK puffs out his cheeks blowing out a breath of air. “First you assault me, now you’re insulting my intelligence?” There’s humour lacing his words, matching the way that a smile curls at his lips. “What’s going on with you?”

Jimin just smiles like he has a secret, and has no plans to tell JK what that secret is. Then, he takes a sip of his drink while maintaining that smile all the while. What is going on with him? Why is he actually having fun talking to JK like this? Why doesn’t talking with JK make him want to rip his hair out?

One explanation may be that Jimin doesn’t find JK to be all that annoying anymore. He’s still annoying – JK has always been annoying – and Jimin is convinced that he always will be annoying. But…maybe he has different degrees of annoyingness.

And maybe tonight he’s on the less annoying side.

Another explanation (and the one Jimin is more willing to believe), is the alcohol. Jimin isn’t drunk – and he doesn’t plan on getting drunk tonight – but he is a little lightheaded, and his smile doesn’t seem like it’ll leave anytime soon. It's not a bad thing. 

Jimin and JK easily create a light-hearted atmosphere, and they surround themselves in it; taking turns teasing each other, though it never goes far enough to become offensive. Jimin doesn’t think he’s ever smiled this much in front of JK before. He’s not familiar with this tamer, more tolerable side of JK, but Jimin finds himself thinking that it’s definitely a side of him that he could get used to.

It’s later – when they’re both on their second drink of the night – when Jimin realizes that there's a whole lot more to JK than he thought. 

“I’m sorry I was late the other day.” JK says rather unexpectedly.

For the first time that night, Jimin frowns. It’s already been about a week since JK had been late, and they’d met up a couple more times since then for the project, and he’s been true to his word so far, and hasn’t showed up late again.

So why is JK suddenly bringing this up now? Just moments prior, they’d been immersed in an amusing (albeit stupid) argument about who would win in a fight – JK’s physical education prof, or Jimin’s Korean prof.

Needless to say, the sudden shift in conversation catches Jimin off guard.

“It’s fine.” Jimin assures. And it really is fine. He isn’t still upset with him, and he thought that much was obvious, but if JK still feels the need to apologize, then maybe it wasn’t that obvious after all. “I’m not still mad about that, you know?”

“No, I know you’re not.” JK presses his tongue against the inside of his cheek. He shakes his head. “But I never told you why I was late. And I don’t want you thinking that I showed up late for no reason.”

When it first happened, Jimin didn’t really care about the reason behind JK’s lateness, all he cared about was letting him know that it wasn’t okay for him to do things like that.

But now, Jimin is curious. There was obviously a reason for him being late, and now Jimin wants to know what is is. “Okay…” He says slowly, eyeing JK with a hint of apprehension. “Why were you late, then?” The atmosphere doesn’t feel so light-hearted anymore.

JK doesn’t say anything for a moment. He picks up his beer like he’s about to take a sip, only to set it back down the next second. This is the most serious that Jimin has ever seen him look. “If I tell you, you have to promise me you won’t tell Jungkook about it.”

Jimin doesn’t conceal his bewilderment – he wouldn't be able to, even if he tried. “What?” His eyebrows knit together. “Why?” Leaning back in his chair, Jimin drops his hands into his lap, his confusion steadily mounting. “Why can’t I tell him?”

“Just don’t.”

The idea of having to keep a secret from Jungkook isn’t an idea that Jimin is particularly fond of. He doesn’t like the thought of it at all. What if JK did something bad? How is he supposed to keep something like that from Jungkook? Jimin doesn’t know if he’ll even be able to do it. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to, but he knows that he wants to know what made JK late. Jimin’s confusion might be increasing with each passing second, but so is his curiosity.

Before he fully realizes what he’s doing, Jimin is nodding his head. “Okay.” He gives in, and he already feels like he’s betraying Jungkook by doing it. “I won’t tell him.”

 JK seems to take his word for it, because he doesn’t wait much longer after that before he’s explaining himself. “The reason I was late, and the reason I couldn’t ever find time to meet up was because I was picking up some extra shifts at work.” He shrugs. “A ton of my co-workers have been sick lately, so I was filling in for them.”

Now, Jimin’s frown is more prominent than ever. “Why can’t I tell Jungkook about that?” He asks, tone bordering on demanding. Why would Jungkook care if JK has a job? Unless… “What sort of work do you do? Are you like, a drug dealer or something?”

JK gives him a blank stare. “Do I look like a drug dealer to you?”

“I don’t know – I’ve never met a drug dealer.”

“I don’t sell drugs, Jimin.”

“Okay, so what do you do?”

“I work at a grocery store. Stocking shelves.”

Jimin does his best to hide his surprise, he stuffs it down, tries not to let his expression give anything away. At first, he didn’t think it was that weird that JK had a job. But the more he thinks about it, the more lost he feels. Doesn’t JK come from a wealthy family? Wouldn't it be easy for him to get a better, more high-paying job? And why does he even need a job while he’s in school? Doesn’t his dad take care of his expenses?

Jimin has so many questions, but he can’t ask them all at once, and most of them are probably too personal to ask anyway. It’s not like he’s that close to JK.

So, Jimin settles on asking just one question for now – a safe question.

“And you want to keep this a secret from Jungkook because…?” He raises his eyebrows, honestly struggling to see JK’s logic.

“He wouldn’t get it.” JK answers, like it’s a hard fact, but Jimin doesn’t know if he really believes it. “He’d try to talk me out of it, try to tell me I don’t need a job. Just trust me. It’s better if he doesn’t know.”

Jimin still doesn’t understand. He really doesn’t get it, he doesn’t know why it’s such a big deal, or why it has to be such a big deal, but he doesn’t question JK. It’s probably none of his business, and he already told him that he won't tell Jungkook about it. So he won’t.

There’s not much else to be said.

There’s an uneasy silence between them now, and it’s very apparent to Jimin that they’d wandered into uncharted territories. He doesn't know what else to say. Maybe they should just stick to what they know best, maybe it's best if they never stray from the playfulness that they're so accustomed to.

In the end, JK is the first to speak up. “Do you want another drink?” He asks, holding up his own bottle, giving it a little shake to show that it’s empty.

But Jimin doesn’t want another drink, and he doesn’t want to be so serious, either. There’s a time and a place for seriousness, and it’s not now, it’s not while he’s in a bar with JK. He wants to put JK’s mind at ease, wants to help him let go of whatever might be troubling him at the moment.

Jimin glances over to the other side of the bar, and is delighted when he sees that there’s an open pool table. Smiling faintly, he turns his attention back to JK. “Sorry,” he hums with calculated innocence. “I can’t have another drink if we’re going to be playing pool.”

Is Jimin a pro at pool? No. Is JK probably going to destroy him, and then tease him relentlessly if they play? Probably. But Jimin would rather have JK laugh at him than have him look all glum.

God. Jimin thinks that there must be something seriously wrong with him for thinking that.

“We’re playing pool?” JK perks up a bit, his eyes brightening. When a smirk twitches at the corner of his mouth, Jimin is actually glad to see it.

Yeah, there's definitely something wrong with him.

“Yeah, we are.” Jimin answers simply. He hops up without another word, and he doesn’t even need to look back to see if JK is following him, because he can hear his stool scraping over the floor as he pushes away from the table.

And just like that, the playfulness is back, and they’re walking on a familiar path.

There’s no seriousness here.

Before they'd even started playing – before Jimin had even touched a pool cue – he had been fairly certain of his own defeat. He'd already accepted defeat. It’s not often that he plays pool, and on the rare occasion that he does play, it’s usually against Taehyung, who’s a perfect match him when it comes to shitty skills.

So, Jimin expected to lose against JK– and he does lose against JK– but he never thought that the game would be as close as it ends up being.

Jimin is actually quite proud of himself. With every ball he sinks, he does a little hop on the spot, and a smile breaks out over his face. It’s obvious that he’s having a good time, especially considering the way he’s always bouncing on the balls of his feet whenever he makes his way around the table to line himself up for a shot.

JK notices, and doesn’t miss an opportunity to tease him about it every now and then; asking if Jimin was a bunny in his past life, telling him it’s dangerous to jump with a pool cue in his hand, and saying he’s never seen someone look so happy to be losing.

And whenever JK teases, Jimin never bites back, he simply flashes a sweet smile at him. He does it in the hopes of annoying the guy a bit, but JK never ends up looking annoyed by it.

By the time JK sinks his last ball, Jimin only has three of his own left on the table, and he’s more than happy with the loss. In fact, he considers it a success. Jimin may not be the winner, but he’s not pouting, he’s not hanging his head in defeat, and he’s certainly not feeling sorry for himself. He may not be the winner…but he kind of feels like the winner.

JK cocks an eyebrow as he studies Jimin. “You know you lost, right?” He goes to lean his pool cue against the wall, but he keeps his eyes on Jimin all the while. “Or do you not know how pool works?”

Jimin smiles, undeterred, and he half leans-half sits on the edge of the pool table. “I know.” He still has his pool cue, holding it in both hands. “But I didn’t think it would be that close.”

A slanted smile pulls one side of JK’s mouth higher than the other, and he takes a step towards Jimin. “I was going easy on you.”

Even as JK approaches, Jimin remains as he is, head held high, not willing to back down. “Well next time go harder.” He’s on a bit of a high from his almost-win.

“Yeah?”

“I like a challenge.”

JK takes another step closer, and now, he’s so close that Jimin has to tip his head back so he can properly look at him. “Me too.”

Jimin is suddenly very aware that JK is wearing cologne. He’s also very aware of the fact that he should say something. He knows that he’s staying quiet for too long, but when JK’s gaze drops to his lips, Jimin finds that he’s at a loss for words.

JK doesn’t seem to mind his silence. His gaze sweeps over Jimin’s face, and even though those eyes of his are partly obscured by the way that his hair is falling over them, Jimin can still see the playful glimmer lighting them up.

It’s getting harder to breathe, getting harder to think, because all he can focus on now is how close JK is to him. This shouldn’t be happening. Whatever this even is.

Whatever it is, it’s out of the realm of comfort. It’s not something Jimin is used to, and it’s not something he wants to get used to.

Forcing himself out of his own daze, Jimin sidesteps, shuffling over so that JK is no longer directly in front of him. He grips the pool cue even tighter, holding on to it like a lifeline, and he wills himself to smile. “Let’s play another round!” He says brightly, and he’s suddenly more excited to play pool than he’s ever been in his whole entire life. Jimin turns around, and starts retrieving the balls from the pockets so they can start a new game.

“Whatever you want.”

Even though Jimin isn’t looking at him, he can hear the smirk in JK's voice.

The rest of the night passes by rather uneventfully. Jimin loses the next two games of pool, and JK teases him. It’s nothing new, and Jimin is thankful for that, thankful for the familiarity of it. 

It’s a little past midnight when they decide that they should call it a night. Jimin feels like staying out any later with JK would just be…weird. Besides, he’s looking forward to getting home and crawling into bed.

“I guess I’ll see you in class on Monday?” Jimin asks on the way out.

“Yeah.” JK holds the door open for him, and Jimin nods in thanks.

They step outside, and Jimin welcomes the feeling of the cool autumn air on his cheeks, soothing the heat from being inside a stuffy bar all night.

“I meant what I said, you know.” JK says after a moment. They stand off to the side, away from the door to make room for other people as they come and go.

Jimin tilts his head, unsure of what JK is referring to. He looks up at him, his curiosity taking over as he shoves his hands into his pockets. “About what?”  

JK shows off a lopsided smile. “Liking a challenge.” And without another word, he turns around and walks away.

And Jimin gets the feeling that JK isn’t just talking about pool.

 

Chapter Text

“Why didn’t you invite JK?” Taehyung asks, and the question is so out of the blue that it nearly has Jimin stumbling over his own feet on his way to the table, where Taehyung is busy blowing up balloons (because according to Taehyung: it’s not a birthday without balloons).

“What?” Thrown off by the inquiry, Jimin lets out a bemused laugh, pulling out a chair to sit across from his friend. “Why would I?”

“I don’t know. Why wouldn’t you?” Taehyung shrugs, and after tying off a balloon, he lets it fall to the floor with the others that he’d already blown up. “Don’t you like him?”

Jimin had been halfway through blowing up a balloon of his own, but after hearing that, he ends up sucking back most of the air, nearly choking on it.

Like?

As Jimin splutters, Taehyung grins.

“I didn’t mean like like.” Taehyung clarifies. As soon as Jimin comes down from his coughing fit, Taehyung is leaning over the table, a playful smile lighting up his face. “Unless you do like him like that.”

Jimin narrows his eyes. Taehyung seems to be determined to make him choke today, and it’s really not fair, because it’s his birthday and he shouldn’t have to be subjected to this kind of teasing.

“No. No, I definitely don’t like him in that way.” Jimin doesn’t even know if he’d go so far as to say he likes JK in any way. “I mean…I tolerate him.” When Taehyung smiles even wider, Jimin points his balloon at him, letting out the remaining air so that it blows directly in his face. “And who the hell says like like? Are we in elementary school?”

“If anyone’s acting like they’re in elementary school, it’s you. Acting like JK has cooties or something.”

“I’m not acting like JK has cooties.” Jimin insists, because he really isn’t. He invited Jungkook because he’s way closer to Jungkook than he is with JK, and he likes Jungkook. A lot. He doesn’t hate JK, but for some reason, Jimin is hesitant to admit that he likes him.

“Then why didn’t you invite him? You might hurt his feelings if he finds out that you invited Jungkook over, and not him.”

Jimin laughs at that, because the thought of JK getting all upset with him over not being invited to his birthday is very elementary school like, and extremely amusing. “Tae, he doesn’t even know it’s my birthday. And even if he did, I don’t think he would really care about not getting an invite. No one’s feelings are getting hurt.”

“If you say so.” Taehyung hums, annoyingly innocent, and when Jimin throws his deflated balloon at him, he dodges it with ease. “Missed me.”

Jimin doesn’t hesitate to stick his tongue out at him.

A playful bout of bickering ensues, accompanied by a rather pitiful fight involving the balloons. It doesn't last very long, and they're soon interrupted by someone knocking at the door.

At the sound of it, Jimin’s heart leaps in his chest and he jumps up from his chair, a jolt of excitement running straight through him. “I’ll get it!”

Taehyung doesn’t argue, he just laughs underneath his breath, and there’s fondness in his eyes as he leans back in his chair and watches Jimin practically skip his way to the door.

Before Jimin even answers the door, there’s a smile taking over his face, already knowing who’s on the other side of it. So, when he opens the door to see exactly who he expected to see – exactly who he wanted to see – Jimin’s smile grows that much bigger.

“Happy birthday.” Jungkook beams.

Jimin laughs airily, feeling a little breathless as he takes in Jungkook’s smiling face. “Thanks.”

Jungkook’s smile is so bright that it rivals Jimin’s, and his eyes are equally as bright, brimming with so much light and looking so pretty. It looks like he’s even more excited for Jimin’s birthday than Jimin himself, and Jungkook’s enthusiasm has Jimin feeling giddy.

The two of them stand in the doorway in silence, simply taking each other in as if they haven’t seen each other in months, even though they’d been together just a couple days ago.

Taehyung’s voice is ultimately what snaps them out of their silent staring.

“Hey Jungkook,” He greets from where he’s still sitting at the table, and Jimin takes that as his cue to step aside to make room as he ushers Jungkook in.

Jungkook takes the invitation with a nod of thanks, throwing a grin Taehyung’s way as he steps inside. “How’s it going?”

It’s only the three of them, but they still fill the room right to the brim with bubbly energy. They’re all teeming with excitement, and there are plenty of smiles to go around. At least, it’s all smiles until Jimin notices that Jungkook didn’t show up empty-handed.

Jungkook is standing at the table by Taehyung, and he’s holding something in his hand, and when Jimin sees it, he stops dead in his tracks, eyes fixed on the offensive presence of what Jimin knows is a birthday gift.

The relatively flat square shaped gift is nicely wrapped in pale pink paper, and it’s not exactly small, so it’s honestly a wonder that Jimin hadn’t noticed it when he opened the door for Jungkook. Then again, Jimin had been so caught up in admiring him and his smile that maybe it’s not all that surprising that he’d overlooked the gift.

But now, Jimin can see it, and now, he trades in the bright smile that he’d been wearing for a pout. Jimin didn’t want a present – he specifically asked Jungkook not to buy him anything.

“You promised me.” Jimin crosses his arms over his chest, and his whining is enough for both Taehyung and Jungkook to whip their heads in his direction. “You promised me you wouldn’t buy me a present. How could you do this to me?”

Not even Taehyung bought him a present, and that’s fine, because they have a no present policy on birthdays. Jimin buys the food on Taehyung’s birthday, and Taehyung buys the food on Jimin’s birthday, but that’s pretty much it as far as presents go.

The sight of Jimin sulking must be funny in some way, because Taehyung is doing a poor job at concealing his laughter with a cough, and Jungkook’s smile is spreading even wider.

“It’s not funny.” Jimin huffs, pouting even harder. “Breaking promises isn’t funny. I told you not to buy me anything and–”

“I didn’t break the promise.” Jungkook interrupts before Jimin can go any further. His words are followed by a quiet laugh, and Jimin finds it hard to keep sulking when he hears it. “You told me not to buy you anything,” he holds up the present a little higher, “and I didn’t buy this.”

“So what?” Jimin eyes him dubiously, taking a few slow steps towards him. “You just found it on the street?”

“No,” Jungkook’s laugh is a little louder this time, and he shakes his head. “I didn’t find it on the street.”

“Then what is–”

“Why don’t you just open it?”

“Yeah, open it!” Taehyung echoes excitedly. “I wanna know what it is too, you know.”

Jimin sighs in resignation, his curiosity starting to override his suspicion. He can't not open the present. So, with both Taehyung and Jungkook smiling at him in encouragement, he reaches out and takes the gift. He sits down to unwrap it, delicately peeling away the wrapping paper as if it's a present all on its own.

It’s quiet save for the sound of the crinkling paper, and there's eager anticipation floating through the air, which makes Jimin speed up the unwrapping process ever so slightly. However, when the gift is fully unwrapped, Jimin doesn’t even smile. Instead, he pouts again. He doesn’t know what else to do as he looks down at the present.

“Jungkook…” Jimin doesn’t know how else to express what he’s feeling, because he doesn’t even know what he’s feeling right now. He’s feeling so many things as he stares at the familiar painting of pretty pink cherry blossoms.

Jungkook brought this painting from his own apartment. This is the painting from his living room – the painting that Jimin is always admiring every time he's there. Jimin lifts his head to look up at Jungkook, whose smile has turned rather bashful, and Jimin pouts even harder as he carefully hugs the painting close to his chest.

His heart aches with fondness, and his whole being is enveloped in a lovely warmth, and there’s so much affection running through him right now that he just wants to fling himself at Jungkook and wrap his arms around him and squeeze him tight, because he’s just so insanely adorable, and Jimin doesn’t understand how someone can be so pure.

“Um,” Jungkook clears his throat, his shyness taking over as he rubs the back of his neck. “When you came over for the first time, I remember you saying that it was your favourite painting. And I always see you looking at it whenever you’re over, so…”

Jimin doesn’t know what to do with all of this sweetness, but he feels like he’s overdosing on sugar, and his heart is having a hard time keeping up with it. He sighs softly, almost dreamily. “I can’t keep this...”

“I think what our dear Jimin means to say,” Taehyung chimes in with a broad smile, “is that he loves it, and he thinks you’re super cute for giving him something like that.”

Jimin's eyes go wide, throwing Taehyung an incredulous stare. Of course, Taehyung’s words are completely true, and Jimin does love it and he does think that Jungkook is way too cute, but Taehyung definitely could’ve chosen to leave out that last part.

“What?” Taehyung picks up a balloon from off the floor and starts to rub it on his head, casual as can be, the static making his hair stick up. “Last week you were telling me about how cute Jungkook was when he fell asleep while you guys were studying–” He shuts up when Jimin kicks him underneath the table.

Ignoring the scowl that Taehyung gives him, Jimin is quick to turn to Jungkook once more. “I do love it,” he says hurriedly, hoping to move on before his face grows warmer than it already is. He feels like melting when he notices that Jungkook's cheeks are dusted a light pink, just like the cherry blossoms in the painting. “But it’s yours...”

“I want you to have it.” The sincerity in Jungkook’s eyes touches Jimin’s heart, making it flutter. “Seriously.”

Jimin knows there’s no point in arguing any further. “Okay. If you’re sure.” Besides, it’s not like he wants to refuse such a thoughtful gift, especially not when it’s from Jungkook. He carefully sets the painting down on the table, and his smile is so big that he can feel it crinkling is eyes. “Thank you.”

Jungkook seems to relax, his shyness ebbing away and turning into something more like calmness, and Jimin allows himself to be wrapped up in the gentle warmth of it.

The calmness turns out to be rather short lived though.

“Alright!” Taehyung claps his hands together, the sound of it startling Jimin and nearly making him jump in his seat. “Well that was cute, but can we order some food now? I’m starving.” It’s never calm for long when Taehyung is around. Not that Jimin minds.

Taehyung’s enthusiasm earns laughter from the other two, and Jimin’s birthday isn’t over yet, but he already feels like this has been one of the best birthdays yet. He doesn’t need much. With Jungkook and Taehyung, he has everything that he needs.

When their food arrives, the three of them crowd onto the couch, knees touching as they eat and chat. They put on a movie, but it’s mostly just for background noise, and they’re paying more attention to each other than they are to whatever’s going on in the movie. Jimin sits in the middle with Taehyung and Jungkook on either side of him, and he smiles more than he eats. On more than one occasion, he has to put his chopsticks down and take a break from eating so he can just lean back into the cushions and lose himself in a laughing fit. It’s a real miracle that he manages to make it through the whole meal without choking.

Jimin is pretty much in a constant state of laughter all day. After they finish eating and cleaning up all the empty take-out containers, Taehyung brings out dessert. While carrying a plate of vanilla cupcakes from Jimin’s favourite bakery over to the couch, he launches into the most ridiculous version of happy birthday that Jimin has ever heard.

Taehyung decides to go for opera style this year, throwing his head back and dramatically belting out the song. Jungkook on the other hand, isn’t quite as ambitious when it comes to the singing. In fact, Jungkook can barely sing at all because of the way he’s laughing at Taehyung, but bless his heart, he still tries. Jimin’s own giggling spills into the air around them, mixing with Taehyung’s dramatic singing voice and Jungkook’s trembling singing voice to create the most unique and chaotic version of happy birthday ever.

It also happens to be Jimin’s favourite version ever.

When the song finally ends, Taehyung urges Jimin to have a cupcake, and Jimin doesn’t need much coaxing. He’d been patient all throughout the song (which drags on longer than normal when it’s sung opera style), and his mouth is practically watering as he reaches out for one of the cupcakes. The cupcakes have all been iced all different colours, and Jimin chooses the one with pretty lavender frosting. Just as he’s about to take the first bite of sweet vanilla bliss, Taehyung bumps his arm and destroys his confectionary fantasy.

The light purple frosting that had been decorating the cupcake now decorates Jimin’s face.

“Tae!” Jimin protests, but it’s not Taehyung who Jimin turns to look at. At the sound of Jungkook snickering, Jimin snaps his head to face him instead. Jungkook’s nose is all scrunched up, his two front teeth sticking out as he laughs freely. “It’s not funny.” Jimin scolds, but it’s hard for him to look intimidating when there’s cupcake all over him.

When Jungkook only laughs harder in response, Jimin doesn’t hesitate to lean over and shove his cupcake at Jungkook. Whatever frosting had been left on Jimin’s poor cupcake is now smeared over the bottom half of Jungkook’s face.

Taehyung howls with laughter, slapping his own thigh. Jimin just grins.

“Hey!” Jungkook’s eyes go wide, his mouth dropping open in surprise, and a dollop of frosting drops from the tip of his nose down onto his pants. “I wasn’t even the one who did it, it was Taehyung!”

“You’re right.” Jimin agrees with a solemn nod. His grin widens, and before Taehyung can react, Jimin grabs a new cupcake from the plate, and isn’t gentle when he smashes it right into Taehyung’s laughing face.

Soon, all three of them have more cupcake on their faces than they do in their bellies, and the frosting tastes sweet on Jimin’s tongue, but the sound of everyone’s laughter mingling together is even sweeter.

Jimin spends all day with a smile on his face, and there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. He couldn’t have asked for anything more for his birthday, and he really is happy. But, when it’s finally time for Taehyung to leave for work, Jimin can’t help but feel a little bummed out. He does his best not to show it, though.

He’d be a lot happier if Jungkook could stay for a while longer, but Jimin knows that he has a couple tests coming up, and a lot of homework to do. So asking Jungkook to stay would be selfish.

“I feel bad for leaving you alone on your birthday.” Jungkook says, the beginnings of a frown threatening to pull the corners of his mouth down. He’s leaning against the doorframe and Jimin is standing in front of him as they wait for Taehyung, who’s currently in his room getting changed for work.

“Don’t feel bad – I’d feel bad if you stayed.” Jimin smiles softly, hoping that it comes across as reassuring. He doesn’t want Jungkook to feel guilty about leaving – that’s the last thing that he wants. “I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” Jungkook asks, and Jimin will never get over how sweet he is. “It’s your birthday. I can stay, you know.”

And Jimin wants him to stay, but it would be wrong to ask him to. Jungkook has work that he needs to do, and Jimin doesn’t want to interfere with it. That’s why he shakes his head, that’s why he tells Jungkook that he’ll be fine.

It’s really not that big of a deal, anyway.

“It’s okay.” Jimin says. “I promise.” He holds up his pinky, and when he does, he notices a hint of a smile plays at Jungkook’s lips.

“Okay.” As they intertwine their pinkies, Jungkook’s eyes fill with warmth, and at the sight of it, so does Jimin's chest. “Thanks for inviting me over.”

And even though Jimin is still a bit disappointed that Taehyung and Jungkook are leaving, as he stands there looking up at Jungkook, and as Jungkook stands there looking down at him, he feels similar to how he felt earlier that afternoon when he first opened up the door to let him in. He’s a little nervous, but there’s undeniable excitement underlying those nerves. “I’m really glad you could make it.” Jimin says softly. His words aren’t hard to say, because they’re the truth, but as he looks into Jungkook’s eyes, he finds himself feeling a little shy.

“So am I.”

When Jungkook’s smile spreads across his face, Jimin’s own smile naturally begins to grow, and soon he’s smiling so big that he forgets to feel upset that he's leaving.

Jimin’s smile stays on his face for a while after that. When Taehyung steps out of his room after he’d finished changing, he envelopes Jimin in a tight embrace, and Jimin is smiling when Taehyung is squeezing all of the air out of him as he tells him happy birthday over and over again.

He smiles when Jungkook waves goodbye to him, and he smiles when Taehyung throw his arm over Jungkook’s shoulders before whisking him away. Jimin leans against the door, watching as they walk down the hall together, and Jimin’s smile widens when Jungkook turns his head to get one last glimpse of him before rounding the corner and disappearing from sight.

Jimin’s smile does fade eventually, though.

It’s fine for the first couple hours after Taehyung and Jungkook leave. His parents call to wish him a happy birthday, and he ends up talking with them for a while. After he hangs up, he watches a bit of Netflix, and treats himself to another cupcake.

It’s fine like that for a bit, but it’s not long before he grows restless. His excitement has subsided long ago, and now, being all alone in the dorm that had been filled with laughter just hours ago leaves him feeling rather empty.

Jimin doesn’t need a lot for his birthday, his birthday doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, and he doesn’t need to celebrate it with a ton of people, but still. He doesn’t want to be alone on his birthday.

And, as Jimin sits on the couch in his empty dorm, he feels more alone than he’s felt in a long time.

It’s not exactly a pleasant feeling.

Sighing, he takes out his phone and starts aimlessly scrolling through his contacts. He stops at one name in particular, his thumb hovering over it as if he had been looking for that name all along. Jimin nibbles at his lower lip, thoughtful as he stares down at his phone.

Jungkook is busy studying right now, Jimin knows that for a fact, and he also knows that he would end up feeling guilty if he pulls Jungkook away from his work. That’s why even though he would love to spend more time with Jungkook, Jungkook isn’t the one who Jimin ends up texting.

 

[Jimin, JK]

Jimin: Hey, are you busy?

 

Immediately after sending the text, Jimin drops his phone into his lap, burying his face in his hands. He can’t believe he’s doing this, he doesn’t know why he’s doing this. He must be losing his damn mind. This isn’t the first time he’s ever texted JK, but it’s the first time he’s ever reached out to him for a reason that doesn’t involve their project. When he went to the bar with JK last week, JK had been the one to ask.

Now, Jimin’s the one initiating something non-school related, and he’s nervous, but he has no idea why he’s nervous. It doesn’t make sense. Thankfully, he doesn’t have much time to rack his brain trying to figure out why he’s doing what he’s doing, because JK replies only a few minutes later.

When his phone gives off a soft ding, Jimin picks it up carefully, like he’s afraid it’s about to blow up at any second.

 

[Jimin, JK]

JK: Not really. Was just about to play some video games. Why?

Jimin: I was wondering if maybe you wanted to do something?

JK: Like what?

 

Jimin hadn’t thought this far ahead. He hadn’t planned on doing anything in specific – there’s nothing that he particularly wants to do with JK. He just knows he wants to get out of his dorm.

 

[Jimin, JK]

Jimin: Idk, wanna go for a walk?

JK: Ohhh

JK: Romantic

Jimin: I suddenly regret asking

JK: Kidding, kidding

JK: Unless…

Jimin: Look, do you wanna go for a walk or not?!

JK: I’m down for a walk

Jimin: That’s all you needed to say

JK: But where’s the fun in that?

 

Jimin nearly replies with something like: not everything needs to be fun, but he’s certain that JK would have a lot to say on that matter. So Jimin refrains, and instead simply responds by asking where they should meet. He doesn’t know where JK lives, but apparently, he’s only a ten-minute walk from campus.

In the end, they meet up near a park that’s more or less an equal walking distance for both of them.

It’s not awkward when they see each other. JK is standing underneath a streetlamp when Jimin shows up, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his leather jacket. When his eyes land on Jimin, his signature grin breaks out over his face, and he lifts his chin in a greeting.

“Took you long enough.” JK says, but both the look on his face coupled with his tone suggests that he hadn’t been waiting long at all.

“I figured it was my turn to make you wait.” Jimin fires back easily, and already, there’s a bit of a bounce in his step. It might be from the fresh night air, and it might be from the familiarity of JK’s teasing, or maybe it’s a combination of both those things that make him feel considerably better than he’d felt sitting alone in his dorm room.

Whatever this feeling is from, Jimin welcomes it.

They fall into stride alongside each other just as easily as they fall into conversation. Going for a walk with JK has never been on Jimin’s to-do list, and it’s frankly not something he ever thought he’d be doing with JK. Ever. But he is enjoying himself. After they do a couple laps around the park, they wander off in a different direction, and start heading down the street instead.

Jimin doesn’t have a destination in mind, and he doesn’t think JK does either – they’re just walking wherever as they talk about whatever. The street isn’t too busy, there are far more people driving on the road than there are walking on the sidewalk, probably because of the chill in the autumn air. But Jimin doesn’t mind the slight chill. It’s more refreshing than anything.

“To be honest,” JK says at one point. They’re just passing by a restaurant, and a waft of warm air spills out into the street when someone opens the door to go inside. “When you texted me tonight, I thought you were gonna ask to work on our project.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows, mildly amused. “Schoolwork isn’t the only thing I do, you know.”

“Of course it’s not the only thing.” JK scoffs. “On weekdays, you go to cafes and drink overpriced sugary coffees, and then on weekends, you go to bars and drink raspberry mojitos.” When Jimin rolls his eyes, it only seems to egg JK on. “Oh, and apparently, you go for evening strolls too. You’re a very adventurous person.” His voice drips with sarcasm. “Totally not confined to schoolwork.”

Jimin has always been studious, but he is very much aware that this year he’s been spending more time than ever on school. Part of it is because his classes are getting tougher and he has a heavier course load, but there’s more to it than that. It’s also because the people he used to spend his time hanging out with either graduated or transferred schools, and now Taehyung has a job, and Jimin doesn’t get to see him nearly as much as he saw him before, which leaves far more time for schoolwork.

Of course, another reason he dedicates so much time to his studies is because of Jungkook. Doing homework with Jungkook is far less painful than doing homework alone. So maybe Jimin spends a lot of time on school, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing he cares about. It just happens to be something he’s focused on at this stage of his life.

“I like doing other things too, you know.” Jimin says, only mildly defensive.

“Yeah? Like what?”

“I don’t know…” With his head bowed, Jimin watches his feet as he walks. “Anything.”

“Anything?” JK’s tone is combination of skepticism and amusement.

Jimin shrugs. It’s a vague response, but it’s not a lie. “I like being around the people I care about. And if I’m with someone I care about, then it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing. I’ll have a good time no matter what.”

“Guess that explains why you and Jungkook study so much together.” There’s a faint smile on JK’s face, and when Jimin glances over, he can see that it’s a quizzical one. “You don’t feel like you’re wasting your time by focusing so much on school?”

“Not really.” Jimin answers honestly. Considering the fact that JK is an accounting major who is taking classes that won't count towards his degree, he's attending university for pretty much no reason at this point, and Jimin knows just how unalike they are in terms of their attitudes towards school. So, he can’t help but feel a bit touched that JK seems to be trying to get a better understanding of him. “I’m a student, and that’s where I’m at in life right now. It’s the chapter I’m on. Yeah, sometimes it gets boring and sometimes I get impatient, and sometimes I just want to be done with it already. And it’s not like I always want to study. But I’m doing it for a reason.”

Jimin wants to be a teacher – he’s known what he’s wanted to do with his life since he was a kid, and even though university is tiresome, at least he has a goal in mind, and at least there’s something he’s working towards.

“And you know, I’ve been saving up money from my summer jobs since I was in middle school.” As he continues, a timid smile plays at the corner of Jimin’s mouth. “If I work hard enough, then after I graduate and get my life sorted out, I’m gonna reward myself by taking a trip somewhere.”

"Really?" JK’s pace falters and he slows down so that soon, the two of them are standing in the middle of the sidewalk, facing each other. There’s brightness in JK's big eyes as he stares at JImin. “That’s what I’m doing right now – saving up so I can travel. I’ve never really been anywhere besides Korea. I don’t know where I want to go yet, I just know that I want to get out of here for a while. Go somewhere, you know?”

This time, it’s Jimin’s eyes that are widening. “Actually?” It’s not the fact that JK wants to go travelling that shocks Jimin. He’s shocked by the idea that JK has to save up if he wants to go somewhere.

Even though he knows JK has a job, and even though JK obviously has a job for a reason – to make money – Jimin never considered that he would need to use his own money if he wanted to go travelling.

JK nods. “I already have a lot saved up. I was actually thinking of going somewhere this summer.” The innocent wonder in his eyes dies down, only to be replaced by something more bold and familiar. And as if the teasing flicker in his eyes wasn’t enough, his mouth even curls into a smug half-smile. “You should come.”

JK’s teasing snaps Jimin from his momentary reverie, and he pushes out a breath of air in a half-hearted laugh. “You barely know me.” He starts walking again, and JK follows, matching him step for step.

“I’m not asking you to marry me, Jimin.” JK snickers. “And I know you well enough to know that we could have a lot of fun.”

Warmth creeps up to Jimin’s face, spreading over his cheeks, and he desperately hopes that if his blush is noticeable, JK will think it’s from the chill in the night air. “Really? Weren’t you just saying how I’m too confined to schoolwork? And that I’m not adventurous?” Jimin says, tone flat like he isn’t interested in hearing JK’s response, even though he is. “What makes you so sure you’d have fun?”

“I’m having fun right now.” JK says, and that alone is enough to make Jimin’s face grow that much warmer. “Why wouldn’t I have fun with you somewhere else?”

The warmth spreads all the way down to Jimin’s toes, and he’s so warm that when he looks up at JK, he can’t help but smile. “I didn’t think going for a walk was your definition of fun.”

“What do you think my definition of fun is, then?” JK asks, one eyebrow raised challengingly.

“I don’t know.” Now, it’s now Jimin’s turn to tease. “Partying. Annoying people.” He pauses for dramatic effect, his smile widening. “Vandalism.”

“I’m offended that you think I’d be into a juvenile crime like vandalism.” Despite his words, he doesn’t look offended in the slightest. “And you must not know me at all if you think that’s my definition of fun.” He carries on, playfulness weighing heavily in his tone. “I love walking. Nothing excites me more than a good walk. It’s my thing – my kink. I get off on it.”

Jimin’s own laughter catches him off guard, and he stumbles forward a step or two as a giggle breaks free from his chest. “Oh my god,” his voice shakes with laughter, “you’re honestly so weird.”

JK flashes him a shameless grin. “I’m one of a kind.”

Jimin can’t argue with that. Jeon JK certainly is one of a kind.  

The two of them continue on down the sidewalk, talking about random things here and there. Jimin stopped paying attention to where they are and where they’re heading long ago, but if he was paying attention, then he’d notice how familiar these buildings are, and how familiar this street is.

If he was paying attention, then he’d realize that he goes down this same street every time he walks back from Jungkook’s apartment instead of taking the bus.

But Jimin doesn’t notice where they are until he notices a familiar face heading their way – someone who is even more familiar than the street that Jimin is walking down.

It’s Jungkook.

Jungkook is walking towards him and JK, and the lights from the shops and streetlamps are illuminating his face and bathing it in a soft orange glow so that Jimin can perfectly see the surprise flashing over his features as his eyes settle on him.

Jimin is certain he looks just as stunned as Jungkook does.

“Kookie!” JK calls out with a laugh when he spots him, but Jimin doesn’t say anything.

An unexpected pang of guilt shoots straight through him, and even though he kind of wants to turn away and hide, Jimin forces himself to keep up with JK as they continue on down the street, walking straight to Jungkook as Jungkook walks straight to them. He knows what this looks like. It looks like he chose JK over Jungkook – it looks like he'd sent Jungkook away earlier that day so that he could hang out with JK alone later. But it's not like that at all. 

They stop when they're about an arm's length away from him, and Jimin’s heart nearly stops too. There’s a smile on Jungkook’s face, but it doesn’t reach his eyes, and Jimin tries to push aside his anxiety, tries to swallow down his nervousness, but his mouth is dry and the tightness in his chest is hard to ignore.

Seemingly unaware of the tension that had seeped into the air around them, JK grins at his brother, saying something about how funny it is to see him, but Jungkook seems to be paying more attention to Jimin than he is to JK.

The chill in the air seems to be much more prominent now than it was before.

“Jungkook.” Jimin tries to smile, but it wavers. “Hey.” His voice sounds cheery, but in a forced way. Even to his own ears, it doesn’t seem quite right. Jimin didn’t expect this, he didn’t think he’d run into Jungkook while out with JK, and he didn’t think seeing Jungkook would send his mind reeling.

He’s not doing anything wrong, but Jimin still feels like he’d just been caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. “What’re you doing out? I thought you’d be busy with studying all night.” Jimin nearly cringes at his own words. They sound like a lame excuse.  

“I was.” Jungkook says. “I mean, I am gonna be studying all night.” His gaze wanders to JK for a split second before his eyes are back on Jimin. “I felt like taking a break. I thought I’d go for a walk.” He pauses, gesturing to the coffee shop just down the street. “Get a coffee.”

Jimin doesn't know what to say. From the corner of his eye, he notices JK retreat a step or two, obviously picking up on the tension. Jimin doesn’t blame him for wanting to simply fade into the background. Glancing down at the ground, Jimin awkwardly scuffs the toe of his shoe along a crack in the sidewalk. He wants to hide from Jungkook’s eyes. There’s nothing harsh in Jungkook’s gaze, there’s nothing accusatory or spiteful, but Jimin wishes there was. He’d rather have accusation and spite than have the resigned look that’s there now.

Jimin feels like a traitor, and to feel like he’d betrayed Jungkook – the sweetest person he knows –  knocks all the wind out of him.

It hurts to think that Jungkook feels hurt by him.

“Well, I’ll let you two get on with your night.”

Jungkook’s words have Jimin snapping his head up to look at him, scrambling to say something.

“Jungkook, you’re more than welcome to hang out with us, you know.” There’s a frown on Jimin’s face now, because there’s no possible way that he can fake a smile. “I just know you’ve been stressed out about school, and I know you have a lot of work to do and that’s the only reason why I didn’t ask–”

“It’s fine.” Jungkook cuts him off, but there’s nothing cutting in his voice, there’s no bite in it. He sounds accepting – understanding. But Jimin really doesn’t think that Jungkook understands. “I didn’t mean to interrupt or anything.”

“Jungkook…” Jimin breathes out, and silence follows as they watch one another. The wind picks up, ruffling Jungkook's dark hair, and the breeze wraps Jimin up in more coolness than he knows what to do with. Funnily enough, there's s no coolness in Jungkook’s eyes. There’s warmth in his eyes, but Jimin just can’t reach that warmth. He doesn’t deserve it.

“Don’t worry about it.” Jungkook waves his hand like he’s trying to wave away Jimin’s worries. It doesn’t work. “I have a lot of homework, so I should get back to it.” When Jungkook’s eyes drift to JK, he smiles at him. “See you later, JK.” And when he turns back to Jimin, he’s still smiling. “Happy birthday, Jimin.” Jungkook dismisses himself, and he doesn’t give Jimin a chance to say anything else before he’s brushing by them.

Jimin can’t do anything but stare after him, silently watching as he ducks into the coffee shop.

“It’s your birthday?” JK blinks, and Jimin can't believe that after everything that just happened, that's the only thing JK got out of the whole exchange. “Why didn’t you tell me? We should go out to eat or something – my treat.”

Jimin doesn't feel like eating. Quite honestly, he feels sick to his stomach. Shaking his head, he shoves his hands into his pockets, vainly trying to find some form of warmth. “No, it’s okay. I kind of just want to go home.”

They lapse into silence. JK’s eyes are on Jimin, studying him carefully, and Jimin is staring down at his feet, thoughts of Jungkook taking over his mind.  

After a while, JK nods his head slowly. “You feel bad for hanging out with me.”

Jimin doesn’t respond. He doesn’t need to.

“So don’t hang out with me if you’re gonna feel this bad when you do.”

Jimin peeks up at him, his teeth gently digging into his lower lip. “But I…” He trails off, not knowing how to finish his sentence.

“Can’t stay away from me, huh?” JK teases with a smile, but Jimin doesn’t understand where JK is finding the humour in all of this.

He frowns, not willing to let JK think for even a second that he finds this amusing in any way. It’s not a joke – none of this is a joke. Jimin honestly doesn’t know what to do. Even though JK gets on his nerves, even though Jimin is always ready to launch into a full-on lecture about how much of a brat JK is, he doesn’t want to stop hanging out with him. There’s a reason that he’s here with him now, and as much as Jimin might try to deny it, the truth is that he likes hanging out with JK.

If he didn’t, then why did he text him tonight?

“Look.” JK sighs, and all traces of his smile have suddenly disappeared. “I know you care about Jungkook. And I know you feel like shit, but you shouldn’t.”

“Yes I should.” The words are out of Jimin’s mouth before he even realizes he’s saying them.

“Why?”

Jimin keeps his mouth shut. He doesn’t have an answer.

Should he feel bad? It’s not as if he lied to Jungkook, it’s not as if he blew him off just to hang out with JK. It might seem that way to Jungkook, but it’s not what really happened. When Jungkook left his dorm with Taehyung earlier that day, Jimin didn’t know he was going to wind up with JK later that night. It just happened. And just because he’s hanging out with JK now, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to hang out with Jungkook.

When Jimin stays silent, losing himself in his own thoughts as he mulls everything over in his head, JK lets out a breath of air that almost sounds like a laugh.

“You and Jungkook are the same, you know. You think you can please everyone, you think it’s your job to please everyone.” JK shrugs his shoulders up to his ears. “But you can’t. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first. You’ll never be able to please everyone. You’ll run yourself dry if you try to.”

Jimin is frankly surprised that JK had said something so…wise. And he knows that JK is right, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling guilty about the whole thing. Crossing his arms over his chest, Jimin's gaze drifts, and once again, he finds himself looking down the street to the coffee shop Jungkook had disappeared into. Realistically, he knows he’ll never be able to make everyone happy, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to try.

He hates when the people he cares about are sad, and he especially hates when they’re sad because of him.

“Hey.” JK gently nudges Jimin, drawing his attention once more. “Don’t worry about Jungkook. It’s your birthday. And you shouldn’t spend your birthday feeling shitty.”

“But I–”

“I’m taking you out to eat.”

“I’m honestly not hungry right now.” Jimin shakes his head, but it doesn’t seem to sway JK. “I already ate a lot today.” He adds hastily.

“Okay, well I’m starving. So, let’s go sit down somewhere and warm up, and you can watch me eat my share and yours.”

Despite Jimin’s reluctance and despite his lingering worries, when he takes a moment to just sweep his eyes over JK, a slight smile eventually quirks his lips. “That sounds terrible.”

“Excellent. Let’s go.”

Jimin doesn’t argue. He lets JK take him to a diner where he orders a burger and fries, but Jimin doesn’t get anything for himself. Instead, he contents himself with stealing a fry or two off JK’s plate every now and then.

Somewhere along the way, he starts feeling a little better.

He feels better up until he gets back to his dorm later that night. When he’s alone, there’s that awful feeling at the bottom of his stomach again, and there are those nagging thoughts in the back of his head saying that he’d done something wrong.

Jimin falls asleep that night wondering if what he’s doing is right or wrong.

But how can he know if what he’s doing is right or wrong if he doesn’t even know what it is that he’s doing?

 

Chapter Text

The following morning, Jimin wakes up feeling exactly the same way he’d felt before falling asleep.

Like shit.

Nothing changed since last night. He’s still kicking himself over and over again for what happened. He didn’t lie to Jungkook, but that doesn’t even matter because he still feels like he did. JK said he didn’t do anything wrong, and deep down Jimin knows that he’s right. But he also knows that Jungkook hadn’t exactly been happy last night when he saw him out with JK.

So of course Jimin feels like shit. How can he not? How else is he supposed to feel when he remembers the look on Jungkook's face? Jimin’s guilt is natural, and he wants nothing more than to fix things and make them better, but he doesn’t know how to do it.

That’s why he spends his entire first class that morning trying to think of a way to make it up to Jungkook, but it's not as easy as it may seem.  It's not easy because Jimin knows Jungkook. He knows that if he tries to confront him about it and if he tries to apologize, Jungkook will brush him off and say he doesn’t have anything to be sorry for. And even if he tries to explain himself, even if he tells Jungkook that the reason he asked JK to hang out was because he didn’t want to interrupt his studying, Jungkook will just say that he doesn’t need to explain himself to him.

Needless to say, Jimin is at a complete loss. At the end of his lecture, he leaves having no idea what the prof had been talking about the entire time, and no idea how to approach Jungkook about last night.

Which is why Jimin is not only surprised, but also relieved when he walks out of the lecture hall to see Jungkook standing just outside the doors. There's a tentative smile on his face, and the mere sight of him is enough to have Jimin's heart missing a beat or two, and the fact that Jungkook is actually smiling at him is enough to make his chest swell with hope.

“Hey.” Jungkook says, scratching the back of his neck. His hesitation is apparent, though he does seem to relax a bit when Jimin smiles at him. “Can we talk?"

“Yeah." Jimin gives a few nods in quick succession. "Yeah, totally.” Even though he accepts without a second thought, he can't help but feel a little nervous. He has no clue what Jungkook wants to say to him. His stomach is twisting, it flips and lurches like it’s trying out a gymnastics routine, and he wraps his arms around his middle inconspicuously in an effort to make it stop.

It doesn’t really do much – his insides are still somersaulting around.

They walk in relative silence for a minute or so before spotting an empty couch to sit on. It’s next to the huge glass windows that overlook the rest of campus, but Jimin’s attention isn't taken by the view outside. His attention lies elsewhere. He’s watching Jungkook with a muted curiosity, quiet as he studies the way that the corners of his mouth are curved into the subtlest of smiles, and wondering why his head dips slightly when their eyes meet– like he wants to look away.

Jimin gets the feeling that Jungkook is even more nervous than he is.

His nervousness doesn't surprise Jimin at all, but the thing is, Jungkook doesn’t just appear to be nervous. If he was just nervous, then fine, Jimin would be able to understand that. But Jungkook looks downright ashamed, and it confuses the hell out of Jimin.  

He has absolutely no idea what that look on his face is for.

“Before you say anything,” Jungkook speaks up after clearing his voice. He shifts his weight, making the leather couch squeak a bit. “I just want to tell you that I’m sorry.”

And as strange as it may be, that was one of the last things that Jimin wanted to hear from him. “Jungkook…” His name comes out of Jimin's mouth as a quiet sigh. What does Jungkook even have to be sorry for? He wishes that he knew what was going on in Jungkook’s head, wishes that he knew why Jungkook thinks he owes him an apology when he hadn’t even done anything wrong. “You don’t have anything to be sorry for.” Jimin says with a frown. 

“But I do.” Jungkook replies simply, and when Jimin opens his mouth to protest, Jungkook’s lip twitches upwards ever so slightly, as if he’s amused by Jimin’s insistence. “I know you don’t think I did anything wrong, but just trust me when I tell you that I did.”

But Jimin is stubborn, is adamant that Jungkook has no reason to be sorry. He shakes his head to stress his point, eyes big and earnest, showing nothing but his honest conviction. “You don’t have to–”  

“The way I walked away from you was rude.” Jungkook interrupts with an air of finality, showing off his own conviction. “It was cold of me, and I shouldn’t have done it.”

This time, Jimin doesn’t have a comeback. Had Jungkook acted a bit cold last night? Maybe, but Jimin wouldn’t necessarily classify his actions as rude. Unsure of what to say, he starts to absentmindedly tug at the sleeve of his sweater, picking at a random loose thread. "You weren’t rude.” Jimin murmurs eventually.

“I was rude.” Jungkook says, and Jimin is almost annoyed that Jungkook is as stubborn as he is. “And I owe you an explanation.”

“You don’t need to explain yourself to me, Jungkook.” Jimin says, but he knows Jungkook is going to carry on anyway. And, if Jungkook is intent on going on and explaining himself even when he doesn’t have to, then it’s only fair that Jimin stays quiet and listens.  

Jungkook doesn’t talk right away, though. His eyes stray from Jimin’s face, gaze drifting so that he’s looking out the window now. He takes a moment to himself as if he’s trying to work up the nerve to say whatever it is that he wants to say. Jimin knows that Jungkook is nervous, and he wants to reach over and place his hand on his knee as if to offer him some form of reassurance. But he doesn’t reach out to him. He just watches, absentmindedly chewing at his lower lip.

“There are only a couple people who I’m really close to. There are only a couple people who I consider to be my good friends.” Jungkook begins slowly, like he’s putting careful consideration into each of his words. “I've known the both of them since I was a kid, but they’re older than me, they graduated years ago and they have their own lives, and I don’t get to see them much anymore–” He stops abruptly, giving a firm shake of his head. “Never mind, that’s besides the point. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t…” Jungkook has taken a sudden interest in his hands, bowing his head as he stares down at them. “I don’t really have a lot of friends.”

This time, when Jimin gets the urge to reach out for Jungkook, he doesn’t think twice about it, and he wordlessly leans over to rest his hand on Jungkook’s knee. His heart feels heavy. He wants to say something, but seeing Jungkook so vulnerable has him struggling to find his voice. And even if he could find it in himself to speak, what would he say to him? 

“I’m not saying this so that you pity me. I know it sounds sad, but I don’t want you feeling sorry for me.” Jungkook continues, fingers fidgeting in his lap. “I do this to myself, because I don’t make time for friends. At least, I never did in the past.” It’s with noticeable reluctance that Jungkook lifts his head back up, but when his eyes meets Jimin's, his gaze doesn't waver. “But I wanted this year to be different. I told myself that I’d try harder this year.” Jungkook says, and Jimin catches the faint strain in his voice, his frustration making a subtle appearance. “I told myself I’d make more of an effort to meet new people, and to make new friends. That’s why I went out with you and Taehyung that first weekend back, because I wanted to try. I want to make time for people I care about, and I want to spend more time with people like you and Taehyung, but I’m taking an extra class and I’d be lying if I said that school wasn’t kicking my ass.”

Jungkook draws in a deep breath, chest puffing out a bit before he lets all that air out in one long exhale. “I want to hang out with you, and I want to be able to go out and do stuff with you – stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with school. But I need to keep my grades up too.”

And Jimin gets it. He understands Jungkook perfectly. Maybe Jimin isn’t taking an extra class, maybe he doesn’t spend quite as much time on his studies as Jungkook does, but he understands where he’s coming from.

He wants Jungkook to understand where he’s coming from, too. 

“You know that I don’t mind studying with you, right?” Jimin slowly retracts his hand from Jungkook’s knee, and now it’s his turn to open up, it’s his turn to start fiddling with his own fingers. “I don’t care that we study a lot. I’ll do anything with you, Jungkook. And no matter what we do, I’ll have a good time.” His words must have some sort of soothing effect, because he can see Jungkook’s unease start to melt away as his shoulders relax.

“Really?” Jungkook asks, and Jimin is more than delighted to see the telltale signs of a smile quirking at Jungkook’s mouth.

“Of course.” Finding a renewed sense of energy in the way that Jungkook’s eyes brighten, Jimin perks up. “And I know this might sound a little hypocritical coming from me, but you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. You need to make sure you take breaks from your work– even if it's a short break.”

It’s no secret that there are times when Jimin is guilty of overworking himself and getting too wrapped up in school, so yeah, maybe he’s not the best person to give Jungkook advice about finding balance. But at least he knows what Jungkook is going through.  

Jimin can feel his smile starting to take over his face, and he lets it, hopes that the warmth in his smile can chase away any lingering concerns that Jungkook may have. “Even if you want to just meet up and go for a quick walk or something, text me and let me know. Or if you don’t wanna leave your apartment, just call me if you need a break, and we can talk on the phone for a while.”

Jungkook seems to like that idea. He grins. “Can we facetime and watch Planet Earth?”

Jimin wonders why he didn't think of that before. With exaggerated awe filling his voice, Jimin sighs. “Have I ever told you that you’re the smartest guy I know?”  

“If I’m the smartest guy you know, then you must not know very many smart people.”

Jimin hums softly. “Most modest guy I know too.” He's more than pleased when Jungkook lifts his hands up to cover his face.

“Oh my god, stop.” Jungkook groans, but Jimin can see his smile peeking out from around his hands.

“Tell me you’re the most modest person alive, and I’ll stop.”

“But I’m not.”

“See, only a modest person would say–”

“Before I forget!” Jungkook pipes up hastily, effectively cutting Jimin off. “There’s something I wanted to ask you.” He lets his hands fall away from his face, and Jimin takes note of the excitement now edging his features. “You know how earlier I mentioned that I have those two close friends?”

Jimin suspects that this is only part of some sort of a ploy to change the topic and divert his attention, and if it is, well it works. Because Jimin’s curiosity is sufficiently piqued. He completely forgets all about teasing Jungkook, more interested in hearing the rest of what he has to say. “Yeah?” Jimin raises his eyebrows, moderately suspicious. “What about it?’

“Well there’s this charity event next Friday that one of them is hosting. It’s like a Halloween themed fair,” Jungkook isn’t even done talking yet, but Jimin is already eagerly nodding his head. “Do you wanna come with me?” Jungkook finishes with a laugh.

“Yes.” Jimin says pointlessly, because his answer is obvious. He's already excited, and already knows that he’s going to spend the rest of this week and all of next week looking forward to the fair.

---

Jimin’s excitement doesn’t go uninterrupted, though. His excitement takes a bit of a hit a couple days later. 

He’s sitting in class, drawing doodles in the corner of a blank page of his notebook as he waits for the lecture to start. When JK drops his backpack onto the desk beside to him, Jimin glances up at him, blissfully unaware of the bad luck that’s about to befall him.  

In retrospect, he should’ve suspected something to go wrong. He’d been far too happy for something not to go wrong. 

“Hey.” JK says as he sits. “Are you busy next Friday?”

And just like that, every ounce of Jimin’s excitement is gone, only for it to be replaced by a sense of dread. “Next Friday?” He repeats like he’s in need of clarification, but he had heard JK perfectly clear.

“Yeah,” JK stretches out his legs, slouching back in his chair. “There’s this charity thing that I’m invited to.”

“Oh?” No way. There’s no way that JK is about to ask what he thinks he’s about to ask. “Sounds fun.” Jimin smiles faintly, hoping the awkwardness he feels doesn’t translate into it.

“I mean, I think it could be fun.” There’s playfulness lacing JK’s words, and Jimin knows what’s coming next. Jimin bites the inside of his cheek hard, bracing himself for impact. “I’d have more fun if you came, though. Honestly, I'm probably only gonna go if you can come.”

It turns out that the landing is much softer than Jimin expected it to be. He recovers from it quickly, going back to doodling as if nothing had happened. Maybe he isn’t so unlucky after all.

Is it lucky that JK asked him to the same event that Jungkook asked him to? No. Is it lucky that JK is only going to be attending the event if Jimin tells him that he can go with him? Yes.

This way, he can just tell JK that he already has plans for Friday, and since that means he’s not going, it means that JK won’t be going, which means Jimin can go and have a good time with Jungkook, and JK won’t have to know about it. This way, he can avoid conflict. Jimin isn't totally sure if there even would be a conflict if he tells JK that he’s already planning on going with Jungkook, but he figures that it’s better safe than sorry. 

“Actually, I’m busy that Friday.” Jimin frowns, like he’s really regretting already having made plans, and like he’s not actually going to be attending that same event with JK’s twin brother instead of him. "I have a thing with Taehyung. Sorry."

It sucks that he has to lie about it, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And Jimin is desperate to avoid another run-in like the one that happened on his birthday.

“Don’t worry about it.” JK dismisses with a shrug. “All good.”

Jimin doesn’t anticipate his heart to clench the way that it does when JK says that. But of course his chest would feel tight – of course he would feel guilty. He’s lying right to JK’s face. Jimin hasn’t ever been one to lie. He hopes he doesn't make a habit of it.

“But I’m free later?” Jimin blurts out, his mouth working faster than his brain. “We could hang out later in the evening if you want?” He feels so awful about lying that it’s like he’s trying to make it up to JK by offering to hang out with him later. Jimin knows it’s wrong, knows it doesn’t excuse his lie, but at least it's better than not doing anything at all. Right?

“Yeah?” JK raises his eyebrows, a slow smile spreading over his face “Okay. Yeah, let’s hang out later then.”

 Jimin smiles back weakly. He spends all class trying not to dwell on the fact that he’s officially a liar.

---

Jimin carries his guilt with him through the rest of the week and into the next one, but when the day of the fair finally rolls around, he’s filled with so much excitement that there’s not much room left in him to feel guilty about lying to JK. He hasn’t been to a fair since he was a kid, and being with Jungkook makes it more special, and the fact that it’s a charity event hosted by one of Jungkook’s good friends makes it even better.

There’s not a single cloud in the pale blue sky above their heads, and it’s warm enough outside that Jimin can leave his jacket unzipped, and his hands out of his pockets. It’s the perfect autumn day.

A gentle breeze passes through, carrying with it the smell of popcorn mingling with the distinct sweetness of sugary treats. They haven’t ventured much farther than the gated entrance yet, but Jimin can already see the booths set up for games, all of them blinking with lights and painted in orange and black stripes to fit the Halloween theme. There's face painting stations and places where people can sit down to carve pumpkins, there's snack stands selling caramel apples and hot chocolate, and there's so many things to see that Jimin’s is having a hard time taking everything in.  

“My friends told me they won’t be able to meet up with me until a bit later.” Jungkook says, drawing Jimin’s attention that had seconds before been taken by a group of kids giggling as they chased one another through the fair. “So for now, do you want to just walk around? See what there is to see?” Jungkook suggests, smiling down at him.

Jimin finds himself already feeling like he's a little kid who’s had just a bit too much sugar. “Sounds good to me.”

At least, it sounded good to him in the moment.

And it had been good up until about five seconds ago. Up until this point, everything had been fine. Jimin and Jungkook had wandered around the fair together, arms swinging lightly at their sides as they walked, pointing out little things here and there, and everything had been fine until they stumbled across a sign labelled House of Horrors which is pointing to a house of, well, horrors.

And now things aren’t so fine because Jungkook is asking Jimin if he wants to go inside, and Jimin is standing there silently, eyeing the decrepit house with no small amount of apprehension.  

Fake blood is smeared across the front door and splattered over the broken and boarded up windows. Jimin isn’t staring at the house because he’s admiring it, but he has to give props to whoever was in charge of setting it up – the house looks so rundown that it almost looks like it’ll crumble in on itself if he were to so much as breathe on it.

Tombstones litter the yard in front of the house, and the odd grave has an arm or some other limb sticking out of the ground. It’s all fake, and Jimin knows that none of it is real, and maybe it’s even a little cheesy, and it’s not even dark outside yet, and Jimin is still afraid to step foot near the house.

“Jimin?” Jungkook’s voice nearly makes him jump.

“Huh?” Jimin blinks up at him, taking a moment to remember where he is. “What – what’s up?”

“Nothing.” Jungkook smiles knowingly. “I just asked if you wanted to go inside.”

“Oh.”

Despite the obvious amusement on Jungkook’s face, there’s a certain gentle understanding lying below it, and Jimin can see the softness in his eyes. “We don’t have to go in if you don’t want to.”

Jimin is touched by Jungkook’s concern – he really is. But he’s also stubborn and doesn’t want Jungkook to think he needs to be concerned. “What? Why wouldn’t we go in?” Jimin says, his voice coming out a little higher than usual. “We should totally go in. Let’s go in.” From somewhere inside the house, someone screams. Jimin swallows.

“Really?”

Jimin has always been a bit of a wimp when it comes to this sort of thing. He loves horror movies, but haunted houses have never been his style – even though he knows it’s all fake. 

“We don’t have to go in if you don’t want to.” Jungkook says.

Evidently, Jimin isn’t doing a very good job of masking his fear. But Park Jimin has never been a quitter. “No, let’s go in.” It takes everything he has in him, but somehow, Jimin manages to shove aside his fear and plaster a bright smile on his face. “Come on.” Grabbing the sleeve of Jungkook’s jacket, he tugs him towards the walkway that leads to the entrance of the house.

Jungkook follows, and when Jimin glances behind himself, he can tell by the flicker in Jungkook’s eyes that his amusement has morphed into something more akin to playfulness. “You know,” Jungkook hums. “You don’t have anything to be afraid of. I’m sure there won’t be any onions in there.”

Jimin comes to an abrupt stop, whirling around to properly face Jungkook. An involuntarily laugh pushes past his lips. “I’m not afraid of onions!” He declares breathlessly, his air stolen away with the way he’s laughing. “You know the reason why I don’t like cutting onions isn’t because I’m afraid of them.”

Jungkook scrunches up his nose, grinning as Jimin pointlessly defends himself. “I’m just saying you don’t have to be scared.”

Even though Jimin rolls his eyes at him, there’s not a hint of annoyance in the action.

“Well if you’re so brave, then why don’t you lead the way?” Calling into question Jungkook’s bravery is absolutely just a strategy Jimin is using in the hopes that it’ll somehow help him salvage whatever illusion of bravery he himself has going for him.

“Alright.” Jungkook takes the bait without question, but the look on his face has Jimin feeling like he’s the one on the hook. “Let’s go, then.” This time, it’s Jungkook who takes the lead, and Jimin is more than happy to trail along behind him.

As they step up to the door together, Jimin tries to calm his racing heart by drawing in a deep breath, though it does little to ease his nerves. His palms are sweating, and he wipes them on his jeans. 

“Hey.” Jungkook’s voice has gotten a lot softer. “You can hold my hand if you want.”

Jimin didn't think his heart could possibly beat any faster than it already had been, but now here it is, doubling in speed in response to Jungkook's sweet words. Jimin's mouth curls into a delicate smile. “Okay.”

But Jimin doesn’t end up holding Jungkook’s hand. He ends up with his forehead pressed against Jungkook’s back, arms wrapped around his middle, and his face buried into the fabric of his jacket.

They aren’t even in the house for a full three seconds before someone jumps out at them, which means Jimin doesn’t even get much of a chance to look around before he’s letting out an embarrassing squeak and clinging onto Jungkook like a koala. 

Jungkook barely even flinches, and seems more surprised by the way Jimin grabs onto him than anything else. They shuffle inside a couple more steps before Jungkook decides to stop.  “Jimin,” he says gently. “We can turn back, you know.”

“No.” Jimin doesn’t even bother pulling away from him, his voice getting muffled into Jungkook’s coat. “Just keep walking.” He knows they can leave right now if they wanted to. They aren't far into the house at all, and they'd only have to turn around and take a few steps to leave the exact same way they came in. But Jimin is determined to make it through the whole house – even if that means having his eyes closed and holding onto Jungkook the entire time.

When Jungkook lets out a soft chuckle, Jimin can feel it vibrating through him. “If that’s what you want.”

It is what Jimin wants. And it’s what he gets, too.

Jimin spends the whole house tour hiding his face in Jungkook’s jacket. Even when he opens his eyes, the only thing he can see is Jungkook's back, so he doesn’t really know what the house is like on the inside. But judging from the occasional yelp and muttered curse from the other people who are making their way through the house, Jimin would say that it's scary. Jungkook never screams though. In fact, he doesn't let out any noise at all. Every now and then, Jimin can feel him tense up, but other than that he doesn't react to whatever scares the house had to offer. 

Before he knows it, Jungkook is telling him that it's safe to open his eyes again. They've made it through the house, and only once they're safely outside does Jimin release his hold on Jungkook. He's not even embarrassed about the way he'd been clinging to him. After all, Jungkook said he could hold his hand if he wanted to, and clinging to his back was just a more advanced version of hand-holding. 

“So,” Jungkook says as they walk side by side. They’re leaving the haunted house behind them, but Jimin’s heart is still beating just a bit faster than normal. “How was it?”

Jimin response turns out to be a rather casual one. “Wasn’t so bad.” He shrugs, pretending like he’d been totally unaffected by the whole experience. He's only doing it so he can see Jungkook smile.

“Yeah?” Jungkook doesn’t just smile though, he beams, and Jimin finds himself beaming right back. “You weren’t even a little scared?”

“Nope.”

“Wow.” Jungkook shakes his head, eyes crinkling at the corners. “I wish I was as brave as you.”

Jimin is about to reply with something like maybe one day you will be, but the words end up getting lost somewhere in his head before he gets a chance to say them. There's something that catches his eye, stealing all of his attention so that it's the only thing he can focus on. “Oh my god,” Jimin grabs Jungkook’s arm, and with his other hand, he points to the thing that has him so worked up. “A photo booth? Are you kidding me?” Jimin exclaims, his excitement making him lightly squeeze Jungkook’s arm. “We have to go in,” he’s already walking towards it, eagerly tugging Jungkook along.

There’s a bin full of clothing items and accessories sitting just outside the booth, and Jimin doesn’t hesitate to start rummaging through it in search of the perfect props for them. It only takes him a few seconds to finds exactly what Jungkook needs.

Not wanting to show his smile, Jimin presses his lips together, doing everything he can to compose himself before turning around to hand Jungkook his prop. “Here.” Jimin hands it to him once he’s confident that he has his smile in check. "Put this on."

Jungkook doesn’t say anything for a moment. He stays quiet as he turns the accessory over in his hands, examining it like he thinks it’ll magically morph into something else. “Um…”

“What?” Jimin asks innocently. He goes back to the bin, pulling out a black feather boa for himself, draping it over his own shoulders. “Something wrong?” He tries to maintain his façade of innocence, but the smile stretching over his face betrays him.

“I’m supposed to wear these?” Jungkook holds up the cat ear headband a little higher, and Jimin nearly bursts out into laughter.

“It’s photo booth tradition.” Jimin tries to reason with him, but Jungkook doesn’t look even the slightest bit convinced. “Come on, just do it,” he lifts one end of the boa up, waving it around. “I have props too!”

“Yours isn’t as bad as mine.” Jungkook says with a laugh.

“What’s wrong with yours? Do you have something against cats?”

“No, I just–”

“Just wear the ears, Jungkook.” Jimin grabs two pairs of neon orange glasses from the bin, and he takes the liberty of helping Jungkook put his on. “There.” Pleased, he takes a step back to admire Jungkook in those goofy neon glasses.“Now put on the cat ears and let’s do this thing.”

Jungkook looks like he’s about to protest, but in the end seems to think better of it. Instead, he lets out a soft sigh, and slides the headband on. “I can’t believe you’re making me do this.” His smile tells Jimin that he’s more entertained than upset.

With a grin, Jimin pushes his own pair of oversized glasses up higher on bridge of his nose. “Let’s do this.”

Photo booths are always fun. Jimin and Taehyung never pass up the opportunity to go in and take stupid pictures whenever they pass by the photo booth in the mall. Him and Taehyung are pros at photo booths. They strike silly poses for the camera, and are always sure to contort their faces into extremely unflattering expressions.

But with Jungkook, his photo booth experience turns out to be a little different. With Jungkook, Jimin completely forgets all about the fact that they’re in a photo booth, and the only thing he can do as soon as he’s in there is laugh. They don’t pay attention to the camera – it’s hard to pay attention to it when they’re laughing as hard as they’re laughing. The second they step inside, they’re reduced to nothing more than a giggling mess.

By the time they’re stepping out of the booth, Jimin is in physical pain. His cheeks are aching, and yet there’s still a smile on his face despite the pain, and that smile only grows even wider when he actually sees the pictures that have been printed off.

The two of them huddle close together as they look at the photos.

The pictures are adorable – so adorable that Jimin wants to clutch them to his chest and hug them. He loves them. He loves how happy Jungkook looks in them. They aren’t looking at the camera in any of the pictures. They're looking at each other and only each other. In each one of the frames, they’re smiling so brightly and so widely that their eyes disappear into slits, and Jimin can practically hear their giggling coming from the photos.

“I don’t think we did it right.” Jungkook snorts, leaning down a bit as he inspects the photos.

“What are you talking about?” With a breathy laugh, Jimin shakes his head, handing one set of the pictures to Jungkook, and keeping one for himself. “They’re perfect.” The smile that surfaces on Jungkook’s face now is almost as wide as the ones he’s wearing in the pictures.

They set off from there and decide to explore a bit more, and when they start walking again, Jimin finds that his steps are just as light as his heart is.

It’s shortly after their photo booth adventure that Jimin’s good mood takes a sudden drop. Jungkook gets a text from his friend telling him that he’s sitting at a table near the food trucks, and Jimin and Jungkook immediately set off to go find him. But that’s not the reason for Jimin’s sudden shift in mood. Maybe he’s a little nervous to meet Jungkook’s friend, but that’s not what ruins the perfect day he’s been having thus far.

What ends up wringing every last drop of excitement from Jimin's body is what he sees when they make it to the sitting area where all the tables are. It's what he sees when Jungkook points over to the table that his friend is at.

Jimin’s brain stutters, and so do his eyes as he uselessly blinks at the people seated around the table. There are two people sitting down, but Jimin’s eyes are fixed on only one person, and it’s the presence of that one person that has Jimin short-circuiting.

It’s JK.

JK is leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head, staring directly at Jimin.

Jimin's heartbeat falters, only to build up speed within the next couple seconds, and a new strain of unease washes over him – different from how he’d felt earlier outside of that haunted house.

“Hyung!” Jungkook says, which is ultimately what causes Jimin to tear his eyes from JK. He watches Jungkook practically bound over to the table to greet the other person who Jimin can only assume is the friend he’d been talking about. Jimin himself is much less enthusiastic as he follows along behind him.

The man stands up from his chair, holding his arms out for Jungkook, and they exchange a brief but warm embrace. Jimin doesn't know what to do at the moment, but he can feel JK staring at him. He can't believe this is happening. He dips his head, keeping his eyes down. There are two styrofoam cups on the table, and judging by the steam rising from them, Jimin assumes they're full of either tea or hot chocolate. There’s a centrepiece in the middle of the table, and Jimin dutifully pretends to admire the dainty orange flowers and the colourful leaves sprinkled around it. Really, he’s just trying to distract himself from the fact that JK is still looking at him.

He can’t believe his luck, or rather, his lack of it. Jimin told him JK that he couldn’t come because he already had plans – and now here Jimin is, at the fair, looking like a total asshole.

Maybe he really is an asshole.

“Jimin,” Jungkook gently touches his arm, and Jimin belatedly remembers that JK isn’t the only other person at the table. “This is Namjoon. He's the one who organized the event.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Jimin says hastily, hoping he doesn't look as flustered as he feels. When Namjoon extends his hand for a handshake, Jimin straightens up and accepts it, getting his first good look at the man.  

“Likewise.” Namjoon is tall – taller than Jungkook  – and he’s smartly dressed in  a white button up tucked into black pants with a brown jacket over top. A pair of glasses with designer frames is perched on the bridge of his nose, and for a fleeting moment, Jimin feels intimidated by him and how well put together he seems. But then, Namjoon offers up a genuine, dimpled smile, and Jimin finds an endless amount of warmth in that smile of his.

After exchanging pleasantries, the three of them take a seat around the table, and because he might very well be one of the unluckiest people on earth, Jimin finds himself sitting in between Jungkook and JK.

“JK,” Jungkook leans over the table slightly to get a better look at his brother, “I thought you said you weren’t coming, what made you change your mind?”

“Well I wasn’t planning on coming," JK admits with a casual roll of his shoulders. "But then I realized that I don’t know when I’ll get to see the hyungs next, so.” There’s a brief pause in which JK makes a deliberate show of turning in his seat so that he’s fully facing Jimin. “Didn’t think that I’d see you here, Jimin.” He smiles wryly.

What strikes Jimin as strange is the fact that JK looks amused – impressed, even. JK doesn’t look upset, doesn’t seem to hold anything against him even though Jimin had lied to him. And Jimin has no idea what that look on his face is supposed to mean. He wonders if he should be thankful for it or afraid of it.

Either way, it has him awkwardly shifting in his seat, feeling too much like there’s a spotlight shining directly on him. He wonders if JK plans on exposing him, if JK is about to ask why he’d lied, or ask why he chose Jungkook over him, but Jimin shoves those thoughts aside just as quickly as they surface.

JK can be a brat, but he isn’t that much of a brat. 

"Well," Jimin begins. His smile is a bit shy, his guilt slowly seeping into it. “Jungkook invited me, and it sounded like a lot of fun.” Needing to direct his attention elsewhere – somewhere that’s not anywhere near the smirk now curling at JK’s lips – Jimin turns to Namjoon instead, hoping to maintain some control over the situation. “And it is really fun – you’ve done an amazing job with it, seriously.” Gradually, Jimin’s excitement starts to pick up, and when Namjoon gives a modest shake of his head, Jimin becomes that much keener to let him know just how well he thinks he did. “Me and Jungkook went into the photo booth and the haunted house–”

“The haunted house?” JK cuts in with a whistle. “Clever.” 

“Clever?” Jungkook repeats with a frown, and he’s obviously just as confused as Jimin is.

“Yeah, you know. It’s a classic move.” JK says, nonchalant as he reaches for one of the mini decorative pumpkins from the middle of the table. “It’s like watching a horror movie with a date.” He carries on, absentmindedly tapping the side of the plastic pumpkin. “Pick something scary, and then five minutes into the movie they’re crawling into your lap, and the next thing you know your clothes are–”

“You know, JK. There’s something that I’ve always admired about you.” Namjoon interrupts him before he can go on, and Jimin is so thankful for that, because his face is burning and if JK had been allowed to finish his sentence then he’d probably overheat.

“And what’s that?” JK asks, head cocked to the side.

“Your shamelessness.” There’s a fond smile on Namjoon’s face as he speaks, and JK grins back at him. At first, the sight of it catches Jimin off guard, but he soon realizes that Namjoon probably isn't just Jungkook's friend. He's probably JK's friend too. “I think I only know one other person who can match you when it comes to shamelessness.” Namjoon adds. 

“But he’s a different kind of shameless.” Jungkook is quick to point out, joining in on their conversation. Apparently, he knows exactly who Namjoon and JK are referring to.

Jimin on the other hand, is at a complete loss. The other three start talking amongst themselves, and Jimin is left to sit back and watch, mind wandering as he tries to imagine whoever they’re talking about. He's just about to lean over to ask Jungkook who they’re talking about, but it turns out that he doesn’t have to.

Jimin gets an answer without even asking.

“Oh my god.” A voice says from directly behind him, and everyone immediately spins around in their seats to face the source of the voice. “I haven’t seen you two in months, and look at you. Look at you.” The owner of the voice turns out to be a strikingly handsome man, all broad shouldered and well built, and even though Jimin can easily see that the man is older than him, there’s something undeniably boyish about him too.

“JK.” The man says, and Jimin watches with wide eyes as he ruffles JK's hair. “You need a haircut.” He turns swiftly, directing his focus onto Jungkook. “And Jungkook,” he gently pokes him in the ribs, “you need to eat more.” His words are met with mingled: no I donts, spoken by the twins at the same time.

Blatantly ignoring them, the man whirls around yet again, and this time, his eyes land on Jimin. “And you.” He points at him, and Jimin’s breath catches in his throat, nervous for no real reason, and all he can do is stare up at the stranger dumbly. “You need to introduce yourself.” A blinding smile breaks out over the man’s face, and the laugh that Jimin lets out right then sounds both awkward and relieved.

“Um,” Jimin stutters. “I’m Park Jimin.” Realizing that he needs to give the man a proper greeting, Jimin shoots up from his chair, arms staying glued to his sides as he bows. “I – I’m Jungkook’s…” He trails off, nervously licking his lips. How is he supposed to introduce himself? “I mean, I’m Jungkook and JK’s–” Jimin stumbles over his own words, wishes he could be just a bit more eloquent at the moment. “I know the twins.” He finishes.

Thankfully, most of that struggle must’ve been an internal one, because no one else seems to have picked up on how nervous Jimin is at the moment. Or maybe they just chalk Jimin's stuttering and awkwardness up to being introduced to the man in front of him (who really is as shameless as they'd all claimed).

“Kim Seokjin.” The man beams, and when he reaches out for Jimin’s hand, he shakes it with such vigour that it nearly has Jimin’s teeth clacking together.

“Hyung.” Jungkook is the next one to stand up to greet Seokjin, and while they pull one another into a hug, Jimin quietly sinks back down into his seat.

But he can’t relax just yet.

“You know, Jimin.” JK whispers, his voice dangerously close to Jimin’s ear, speaking so that no one else at the table can hear. “I didn’t peg you as a liar.”

Under normal circumstances, Jimin might feel flustered by JK's proximity and by his warm breath ghosting over his ear. But this isn't normal circumstances. Instead of feeling flustered, a sense of shame takes over, causing the corners of his mouth to droop. He knew JK would confront him about the lying eventually – and so he should. JK has every right to question Jimin, every right to feel offended and every right to call him a liar, because Jimin had straight up lied to him.

“I’m sorry.” Jimin murmurs, and even though his guilt makes him want to look away, he forces himself to keep eye contact. “I shouldn’t have–”

“It’s okay.” JK says, and even though he has every right to feel offended, he does’t appear to be offended in the slightest. He cocks a brow, and a slow smirk follows it. “Still trying to please everyone, huh?”

Even if Jimin had been able to pull himself together quickly enough to form a reply, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to say it, because Seokjin is suddenly pulling JK up by the shoulder, and soon he’s smothering him in a hug.

“Don’t think I forgot about you, JK.” Seokjin says.

“I didn’t think you forgot, hyung.” JK assures. “Just hoped you would.” Despite his words, JK still hugs Seokjin back with enthusiasm. In fact, judging from the look on Seokjin’s face, he hugs him a little too enthusiastically.

Seokjin is the first to break away. He rubs his back, scowling at JK once they’ve pulled apart. “I know you love me, but you don’t have to squeeze so hard.”

“The harder I squeeze, the more I care.”

“Well care a little less next time.”

“He’s right, JK. You should respect your elders.” Jungkook chimes in, though the look on his face is anything but scolding. He looks like he’s trying to fight a smile, but he’s doing an awful job at keeping it at bay. “You have to think about how old he’s getting. Pretty soon you won’t be able to do those things to him.”

“Are you two serious?” Seokjin’s eyes are wide, disbelief written plainly across his face, but when JK starts cackling next to him, he narrows his eyes at him. “I haven’t seen you two in months, and this is how you treat me?”

His scolding doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the twins; Jungkook’s smile doesn’t look like it intends to leave anytime soon, and JK is laughing, slouching lower into his seat.

Jimin doesn’t mind staying quiet and simply sitting back to watch the scene unfold in front of him. He doesn’t feel awkward or out of place, in fact, even though he’s not offering much up in terms of conversation, Jimin feels more than included, and more than welcome. Without even realizing it, Jimin is smiling, feeling strangely fond as he watches the interaction.

Jimin is glad that he came today– not just because he got to spend time with Jungkook, and not just because he’s having fun. He’s glad he came because he gets to see a different side of Jungkook, and a different side of JK.

He likes both these new sides that he’s seeing.

“Why don’t you ever harass Namjoon like this?” Seokjin asks, waving his head around wildly, and Jimin briefly wonders if he's ever given himself whiplash doing that.

“Namjoon doesn’t give the same reactions as you do.” JK answers simply, like it’s common knowledge. His grin had subsided for a moment, but it’s soon twitching back to life. “You should be honoured – I don’t treat any of my other hyungs like this. You’re the only one who gets special treatment.”

“Honoured?” Seokjin slaps a hand over his heart, mortified. Namjoon coughs into his fist in a poorly executed attempt to hide his amusement, and Seokjin is quick to pick up on it, zeroing in on him.

“Sorry.” Namjoon clears his throat, one cheek dimpling as a subtle smile finds its way to his face. “But you know, you do give the best reactions.”

“Well excuse me for having some emotion– not everyone can be all cool as a cucumber like you all the time.”

From there, Seokjin and Namjoon break off into their own little conversation – or quarrel – Jimin doesn’t know exactly what to call it, but whatever it is, it’s obviously light hearted. Jungkook joins in on the conversation at one point (Jimin suspects it’s to rile up Seokjin even further), and Namjoon looks more than happy to have his support.

Jimin can see a bit of himself and Taehyung in them, and he smiles unconsciously. It’s obvious how close the twins are with both Seokjin and Namjoon, and Jimin is glad that they have people like this in their lives. Jimin figures that having a couple really good people in your life is better than being surrounded in a bunch of mediocre ones. Quality over quantity. 

“Hey, Jimin.” JK pipes up. He slides the styrofoam cup that had been in front of him towards Jimin, offering it to him. “It’s apple cider. Try it." A hopeful glimmer lights up JK's eyes. "I think you’ll like it.”

At first, Jimin is hesitant, wondering if JK had done something to the drink. Maybe he put salt in it, or maybe it just really doesn’t taste good at all. Jimin scrutinizes JK for a moment before finally deciding that it's safe and that he doesn’t have any bad intentions.

Slowly, Jimin lifts the cup up to his lips. When the first sip hits his tongue, his eyes widen in delight, and he immediately helps himself to another. “Oh my god.” He finally sets the cup down, pushing it away from himself like he’s afraid he’ll down the rest of the drink if it's too close to him. “That’s so good. It’s so–”

“It’s sweet, right?” JK smiles. “You can have the rest if you want – I know how much you like sweet things. To be honest, I’m kind of surprised you’re not carrying around a bag of cotton candy with you.” He trails off, eyes straying from Jimin to Jungkook. “Then again, you and Jungkook were preoccupied with other things, weren’t you?”

At the sound of his name, Jungkook turns to look at them. “You say something?” He asks curiously.

“Yeah, actually.” JK nods, and Jimin eyes him warily. “I was just saying to Jimin that we should go take a look around. See what else there is to do. You coming?”

Jimin doesn’t like the way JK phrased that. It was probably innocent enough, he probably didn’t mean any harm by it, but Jimin just wishes that he'd asked a different way. 

Jungkook doesn’t seem like he’s particularly thrilled by JK's proposal, he agrees to it nonetheless. “Yeah.” He nods his head slowly, briefly glancing over at Jimin. “Yeah, okay.”

And Jimin hopes that it really will be okay.

Seokjin and Namjoon don’t tag along with them, instead, they decide to stay at the table to chat. They tell the other three to have fun, and let them know that they’ll be waiting for them there when they come back from their little adventure.

It’s approximately one whole minute after they’ve parted ways with Seokjin and Namjoon that Jimin realizes it probably would’ve been best if he just stayed at the table with them. The table wasn’t awkward compared to this.

This is awkward.

Jimin is sandwiched in between the twins as they wander around the fair. No one is talking. Around them, everyone else is laughing and chatting and having a good time, yet the three of them are immersed in a heavy silence. Jimin is seriously starting to wonder what the hell he’d gotten himself into. He’s been in the same room as JK and Jungkook before, but it’s never been as awkward as this moment right now, and Jimin finds the silence to be suffocating.  

At this point, Jimin is desperate for something – anything– to alleviate the tension. So, when he looks out into the distance and sees the giant sign that simply says Maze, it’s like a shining beacon of hope, an oasis in the desert.

Jimin is quick to grab both Jungkook and JK, impatiently dragging them towards the maze by their wrists.

At the time, going into the maze seemed like a good idea, because at the very least it would give them something to do besides aimlessly walking around in awkward silence.

The maze is a lot of fun in the beginning. It's not scary like the haunted house was, and the black and white spiral patterns on the walls make it more disorienting than anything.

In the beginning, Jimin was the one taking the lead. It’s been so long since he’s done something like this, and he feels his inner child coming out to play, his excitement taking over as he bounces on the balls of his feet as he navigates his way through the maze. He has no strategy in mind, he’s just turning whenever he feels like turning, and the twins don’t seem to mind the fact that he’s leading the way.

At least, it was like that for a while.

But it doesn’t take long for Jimin to realize that taking the twins into a maze had been a big mistake. Going into a maze with JK and Jungkook at the same time was probably the worst possible thing he could've made them do.

Because now, Jungkook is standing to his right, adamant that they should go to the right if they want to get out, and JK is standing to his left, telling Jungkook that he’s wrong and that they should go to the left. Jimin is standing in the middle of it, eyes darting back and forth between the other two, mentally slapping himself for bringing them into a maze. A goddamn maze.

“If you wanna get out, come this way.” Jungkook says, waving Jimin over. Jimin is tempted to take a step towards him, but he stays still, rooted to the spot.

“Jimin, don’t listen to him.” JK rolls his eyes. “It’s this way.” He points behind himself with his thumb, confident. “Jungkook doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Still, Jimin doesn’t move. He casts a forlorn glance Jungkook’s way, only to see that Jungkook isn’t even looking at him anymore. And JK isn’t looking at him either. The twins are staring directly at each other.

“In the nicest way possible, JK.” Jungkook stands his ground, and it’s obvious that he’s not about to concede any time soon. “You have no sense of direction.”

JK pushes out a breath of air that Jimin assumes is meant to be some sort of laugh. “Please. Your sense of direction is about as good as your sense of style.”

Jungkook’s mouth drops open, looking far more stunned than offended. “You’re the one always asking to borrow my clothes.”

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“And how can you even attack me for my sense of style? The only colour you wear is black – and you own three of the same shirt.”

“Yeah, and I look damn good in all three of them.”

Jungkook presses his fingertips into his forehead, like he's trying to stave off a headache. “We are not fighting about this right now.” He turns his body to the side slightly, beckoning JK to come his way. “Just give it up, JK. It’s this way.”

“No.” JK's answer is instantaneous. He crosses his arms over his chest in an act of defiance, scowling like he’s offended by the mere thought of having to give in and follow Jungkook. “Just because you’re three minutes older than me doesn’t mean you know everything, it doesn’t mean you’re smarter than me.”

“I’m not smarter than you because I’m three minutes older. I’m smarter than you because I actually paid attention in school. I’m smarter than you because I actually put in effort.”

“Yeah." JK deadpans. "I bet school is really helping you out right now with all of this. My bad. I guess I must’ve dozed off in Escaping Mazes 101.

“Stop trying to pick a fight with me. You’re being childish.”

“Right, because you’re being so mature right now.”

“I’m not arguing with you anymore.”

“Kinda seems like you are.”

Jungkook’s eyes narrow, but he doesn’t say anything else.

And that’s when Jimin decides that this has gone on for long enough. “Will you guys cut it out?” Both Jungkook and JK snap their heads in Jimin’s direction, like his voice had startled them. They probably forgot he was even there. Jimin knows that he probably should’ve stepped in a while ago, but he’d been more than a little stunned to see how quickly things escalated. At least he’d doing something about it now. Better late than never, right? “Just – just play rock paper scissors or something." Jimin figures that it's the quickest and fairest way to come to a solution. "Whoever wins gets to pick which way we go.”

Neither Jimin nor JK seem pleased with the suggestion, but they keep whatever complaints they may have to themselves and begrudgingly agree to play.

Jimin doesn’t care if they aren’t happy about it. He just wants a solution, and rock paper scissors always gives a solution. He looks up to the sky, says a silent thank you to whoever created rock paper scissors.

It’s Jungkook who ends up winning. JK doesn’t even say anything when he loses – not that he needs to say anything. He’s obviously pissed, which Jimin sort of gets, because whenever he loses to Taehyung he’s never happy about it.

Jimin is glad when they start walking again, glad they’ve made a decision, but he’s not glad about the silence that settles around them once more. The tension that had invaded the air around them is magnified tenfold when they make it out of the maze no more than a minute later. It turns out that Jungkook’s way had been the right way.

Jimin thought things were awkward before they went into the maze. But this is so much worse. 

He doesn’t have to look over at JK to know that he’s less than happy, because Jimin can feel the annoyance radiating off him, spilling out into the atmosphere so that it clouds the space around them with tension.

The only thing that brings Jimin relief is when they finally make it back to the table where Seokjin and Namjoon have been waiting. Jimin almost wants to run over to them and throw his arms around them, to thank them for just being there so that he doesn’t have to spend another awkward second alone with the twins.

But Jimin keeps himself composed, figures he doesn’t quite know them well enough to do that just yet.

“Are you guys hungry?” Namjoon asks once the three of them have stopped in front of the table. “We were just about to grab a bite to eat.” He adds, pointing towards the food trucks.

“Actually.” JK starts. His mouth forms a tight-lipped smile, making it look like it’s paining him to smile at all. “I was just gonna ask Jungkook if he wanted to go check out the games. They look fun.” He stares at Jungkook, his brows raised challengingly. “What do you say?”

Jungkook stands stoically, not giving anything away in his expression. “Fine.” 

“Alright, well you two have fun with that.” Seokjin says, dismissing them with a careless wave of his hand, though neither of the twins are even paying attention to anything but each other. “I’m starving.”

“Are you hungry, Jimin?” Namjoon asks gently. “Want to come with us?”

He does want to. Jimin wants to go with them, and there’s nothing stopping him. Jimin glances at the twins one last time, and it seems like they've both forgotten that he's even there at the moment. It's not hard fro Jimin to make up his mind about what he wants to do. He turns back to Seokjin and Namjoon, smiling. “I’d love to.”

“Food before games.” Seokjin nods in approval. “This kid has a good head on his shoulders.” 

Jimin is leaving Jungkook and JK behind, but he doesn’t think that they’ll notice his absence, and Jimin isn't necessarily offended by that. Honestly, he's more than glad to leave them for a while, because it gives him a chance to get to know Seokjin and Namjoon a bit better. Maybe he’ll even get to learn a little more about Jungkook and JK through them.

After all, they’ve known the twins since they were kids. They must know a lot.

 

Chapter Text

 

Jimin really doesn’t mind being away from Jungkook and JK for a while. Namjoon and Seokjin make Jimin feel more than welcome, and they prove to be quite the pair, with the both of them being just as interesting as they are entertaining. They order tteokbokki from one of the vendors, and then they head back over to their table so that they can enjoy their food and chat (Jimin finds the place where JK had gotten the apple cider from earlier, and he’s sure to get himself a cup too).

The three of them sit and make small talk, and when Jimin asks Namjoon a bit more about the event and what exactly he’s raising money for, he’s more than happy to tell him all about it. He remains humble all throughout, even as he talks about his efforts to raise money for the children’s hospital, and how he plans an event much like this one every year. It turns out that Namjoon works for his father’s company, and his father just so happens to be the owner of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Korea.

Jimin already sort of guessed that Namjoon and Seokjin both came from wealthy families just like the twins had, and his suspicions are only confirmed later when he learns that Seokjin’s father owns a prestigious hotel chain.

And the more Jimin learns, the more he starts to wonder. At some point during the conversation, he finds himself hesitating as he stares down into his half-finished bowl of tteokbokki. He’s sitting at a table, casually eating with two older and extremely successful and well-off individuals, yet learning about them and their families isn’t the reason that he’s hesitating right now. He’s not intimidated by either Seokjin or Namjoon.

Jimin is only hesitating because he’s suddenly now more aware than ever that he still has no idea what JK and Jungkook’s dad does. Their dad has come up in conversation before, but neither of them ever went into detail about him. And maybe it’s not so strange that Jimin doesn’t know much about him, because he hasn’t exactly gone into great detail about his own father’s profession, but he still can’t help but be curious about it.

He glances at the older two seated across the table from him, thoughtful as he sucks his lower lip between his teeth. “Can I ask you something?” When his question is met with nods and an invitation to ask anything he wants, Jimin decides to simply dive straight into it. “What does Jungkook and JK’s dad even do?”

For a fleeting moment, he wonders if he’s overstepping some sort of boundary, wonders if it seems like he’s being too snoopy or something. Though, Namjoon and Seokjin don’t seem put off by the inquiry, so if they do think that Jimin is prying, they don’t show it.

“They never told you?” Namjoon raises his eyebrows, but he doesn’t sound all that shocked that the twins hadn’t said anything about what their dad does for a living.

“No,” Jimin shakes his head and takes another bite of his tteokbokki. “I mean, their dad’s come up every now and then in conversation, but they haven’t told me what he does.” It’s not like the twins have an obligation to tell Jimin, so he doesn’t have a right to feel upset that they’d never offered much information about him – and Jimin doesn’t feel upset. He’s just insanely intrigued.

“Doesn’t surprise me that they never told you.” Seokjin says with a casual roll of his shoulders. When Jimin gives him a questioning look, Seokjin leans over the table to get closer, lowering his voice like he’s afraid of someone overhearing. “He’s the head of a mob – leader of the biggest gang in Korea’s underworld.”

The gears in Jimin’s brain come to a grinding halt. His mouth drops open, cool air flooding in to contrast with the lingering spice from the tteokkboki. He stares at Seokjin unblinkingly, and is more than a little confused when he slouches back into his chair and starts laughing in the seconds following.

“Hyung.” Namjoon lets out an unimpressed sigh. He shakes his head and adjusts his glasses, pushing them up a bit higher. “You’re scaring him.”

Jimin remains frozen in place, eyes darting back and forth between Seokjin and Namjoon, still not totally sure if the twins have a dad who makes money off illegal activities, and whether or not he should cut all ties to them now before he has to go into witness protection or something.

“Sorry, sorry.” Seokjin apologizes. “I couldn’t resist.” He’s stopped laughing, a contrite smile replacing his amused one, and he reaches across the table to delicately pat Jimin’s hand. “Their dad isn’t a mob boss.” He amends. “But he is kind of scary.”

“He’s just strict.” Namjoon rectifies, and even though Jimin has never met their dad, even though the twins don’t talk about him that much, Jimin knows enough about him to have already guessed that much.

“Yeah, yeah.” Seokjin waves Namjoon off. “Call it what you want.” When it looks like Namjoon is about to open his mouth to protest, Seokjin cuts in, talking before anyone else gets the chance to say something first. “You ever hear of JBC, Jimin?”

“JBC?” Jimin tilts his head. “Isn’t that a TV network?”

Seokjin hums in confirmation. “And what about Our Korea?”

“You mean the newspaper?”

Seokjin nods. “You listen to the radio?”

“Sometimes?”

“Right. Well I don’t know the exact stats, but let’s just say that Jungkook and JK’s dad owns a company that owns a shitload of the media. Television channels, newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasting networks. All that stuff. He owns a lot in Korea, not sure how much he owns overseas. Just know that he does.”

“Oh.” Jimin says, not exactly sure what an appropriate response is. “That’s…” He had a hunch that their dad owned something, but to hear just how much he owns, and to hear just how prevalent he actually is in Korea is a bit of a shock. A short laugh escapes Jimin’s parted lips, the sound of it showing just how overwhelmed he is by the revelation. “A lot.”

“Damn right.” Seokjin stabs his tteokbokki with a single chopstick, waving it around. “The man’s rolling in it.”

“It is a lot.” Namjoon says. “Their dad is an extremely successful man, and he’s worked hard to be as successful as he is. But like I said before, he’s strict.” Namjoon speaks slowly, obviously trying to be mindful of what he says and how he says it. “He knows how to be successful. He knows what he wants, and he knows what he wants for his sons. He’s hard on them.” Beside him, Seokjin nods in silent agreement.

This isn’t the first time since meeting Jungkook and JK that Jimin finds himself struggling to imagine how hard it would have been to grow up with a dad like that. He can’t relate to it at all, doesn’t even want to think about how tough it would’ve been to grow up with such a strict parent. And he knows that the last thing that Jungkook and JK would want from him is pity, and Jimin doesn’t pity them. His heart just aches for them.

“But,” Namjoon carries on, and Jimin notices that there’s now a faint smile on his face. Already, it has the mood shifting, the atmosphere lightening. “The four of us all grew up together in the same neighbourhood, that’s how we all came to know each other. Seokjin and I watched Jungkook and JK grow up. And despite it all, they turned out well. They’re good kids.”

“Great kids,” Seokjin chimes in, playfully nudging Namjoon in the side. “Probably because you and I had a hand in raising them.” Jimin snickers at the dubious look that Namjoon throws his way.

“We hardly raised them.”

“Are you kidding me?” Seokjin’s eyes go wide, and he draws back, reeling in the most melodramatic manner. “We taught them fundamental life skills,” he says, and if Jimin didn’t already know that Seokjin was a successful businessman, then he’d think that he was an actor of some sort. “I taught JK the joys of video games, and you taught Jungkook the joys of reading. And I taught them how to skip rocks. And how to pick out the best watermelon at the store.”

“Right. All the fundamentals.” Namjoon pauses, smile widening and dimples deepening. “Yet you still haven’t been able to teach them how to respect you.”

Seokjin’s playful disposition vanishes. He looks out into the distance like he’s recalling painful memories from a past life. “I fear that day will never come.”

Raising his hand to his lips, Jimin quietly laughs behind it. Sure, learning about how influential the twin’s dad is had thrown him for a bit of a loop, and hearing Namjoon talk about how much pressure their dad puts on them had made Jimin’s chest feel tight and his stomach sink, but he doesn’t dwell on that.

Like Namjoon said, they turned out well. Jimin shouldn’t be so worried about them, because at the end of the day, they’re their own people, right? It looks like they’re both managing just fine. And, even though Seokjin and Namjoon had seemed to only be joking around when they talked about helping to raise them, Jimin has a feeling that they really did help shape JK and Jungkook into the people they are today. Good people.

“Anyway, I think you’re a good kid too, Jimin.” Seokjin says, smiling warmly. Those words have a sudden shyness taking over Jimin, and he dips his head slightly, hands reaching out to grasp the styrofoam cup in front of him. “And I think that you’ll be really good for both of them.”

Jimin hesitates with his cup halfway to his lips, the steam still lazily rising from the cider. “What do you mean?” He asks, eyebrows knitting together slightly.

Before answering, Seokjin takes another bite of his tteokbokki, finishing it off and then reaching over to steal some from Namjoon, who lets him take it. “You seem like you could keep JK out of trouble, and help Jungkook get into a little more trouble.” There’s food stuffed into one side of Seokjin’s mouth as he speaks, making him look a bit like a chipmunk. “The good kind of trouble.”

Namjoon crosses his arms over his chest. From behind his glasses, his eyes flicker with amusement. “There’s a good kind of trouble?”

“Of course.” Seokjin scoffs, as if what he’s saying is common knowledge. “Like staying up until two in the morning and eating a whole bucket of ice cream. Or eating dessert for dinner. Or binge watching an entire Netflix series in one night.”

Jimin sips at his drink, smiling around the rim of the cup and letting warmth diffuse through him. It’s nice to know that Seokjin thinks he’s good for both Jungkook and JK. Jimin hadn’t exactly been seeking approval today, but he’s glad that he seems to have gotten it anyway.

“I don’t know if that counts as trouble.” Namjoon muses.

“It’s not trouble– it’s the good kind of trouble. Weren’t you listening to me?” Seokjin scolds, but in that silly, over the top way that he does so often. “Or do you just always have to find something to argue with me about?”

Namjoon slides his paper bowl towards Seokjin, like he’s trying to appease him with the rest of his tteokbokki. “I don’t always have to find something to argue with you about.”

“You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Arguing with me.”

“Am I?”  

Jimin simply sits back and watches the playful bout of bickering unfold in front of him. He likes Namjoon and Seokjin a lot, and he feels a little sad knowing that Jungkook and JK don’t get to see them very often. Though, he also can’t help but feel a little touched (maybe even a bit proud) that Jungkook wanted to introduce him to them. Maybe it means that Jungkook thinks he’s pretty special too. 

“Anyway, Jimin. There's something you should know about Jungkook and JK.” Namjoon says, suddenly breaking off from his silly argument with Seokjin, perhaps deciding that it was too silly to keep it going. “Like I said before, Jungkook and JK are good kids. They’re good people.” He smiles, his fondness seeping into his words. “And I know it might seem like they’re nothing alike….” He trails off, attention stolen by something going on somewhere behind Jimin. Jimin twists around in his seat to see what Namjoon is looking at, and when his eyes land on Jungkook and JK, he finds himself blinking again and again in quick succession. “But they’re more alike than you might think.” Namjoon finishes.

Those words are left hanging in the air, and Jimin can't find it in himself to offer up any sort of response. He's too busy staring at the twins. Both JK and Jungkook are making their way over to the table, but only one of them is smiling.

Jungkook isn’t the one smiling, but he’s not frowning either. His expression is neutral – perfectly unreadable – and he’s got his arms crossed over his chest as he walks towards them, falling a few steps behind JK.

JK.

JK, who’s wearing a smile that lights up his entire face. Hell, to say smile might even be an understatement. JK is beaming as he approaches, and not only is there a noticeable bounce in his step, but there's also something in his hand. He's holding what looks to be a stuffed toy bunny. Jimin can only assume that the source of his enthusiasm is stemming from that stuffed animal. It swings lightly in JK’s hand, all fluffy pink fur and floppy ears, and the bunny is pretty damn cute, but Jimin finds himself thinking that the way JK looks with it as he practically skips on over to them is even cuter.

And that’s weird. Because Jimin has always had a long list of words that he could use to describe Jeon JK, but cute had never been on that list.

When JK finally stops, he stops directly in front of Jimin, and he has to tilt his head back a bit to get a proper look at him. JK’s hair had fallen over his eyes in his rush over to the table, and he gives his head a shake to clear it out of his face. He looks down at Jimin, still smiling, and Jimin can only stare up at him with wide eyes, thoroughly taken aback.

“Jimin.” JK says, sounding a little breathless. “Here,” he holds out the stuffed animal, and if possible, his smile grows even wider. “I won this for you.”

Somewhere along the way, Jimin’s mouth had dropped open, and he's suddenly very aware of how dry his mouth is. He doesn't know what to say. No one had ever won him something at a fair before. And it’s not even like he asked JK to win him something – JK just did it on his own. “You…” Jimin’s smile starts out small, but it’s soon brightening his eyes. “You did?” His question is met with rather fervent nodding from JK.

“Thank you.” Jimin reaches out to take the bunny, and it feels just as soft as it looks.

 “What?” Seokjin says, and Jimin's gaze shifts from the toy to him instead. “You didn’t win anything for your favourite hyung?”

Even though Jimin is only now just realizing that both Seokjin and Namjoon had been watching that entire exchange, he doesn’t feel embarrassed or shy. Just warm.

JK grins. “My love for you should be enough of a gift, hyung.”

Seokjin seems to really like that. He stands up from his chair, clapping his hands and nodding his head in approval. “Bravo. Good line, perfectly executed.” In response to the praise, JK does a little bow.

Somewhere in the midst of all the excitement, Jungkook had joined them at the table. He pulls up a chair to sit next to Jimin, and Jimin immediately picks up on his bad mood. Jimin isn’t stupid, and he has a fairly good idea why Jungkook doesn’t seem all too happy. Just like how JK had been far from pleased when Jungkook had led them out of the maze, Jungkook is probably far from pleased that he hadn’t won anything. In fact, Jungkook is dangerously close to pouting. And even though Jimin thinks it's kind of cute, he doesn't want Jungkook to be all pouty. 

“Hey.” Jimin gently nudges his foot underneath the table, and when their eyes meet, he offers him a smile that's meant to cheer him up. “Want the rest of my tteokbokki? You must’ve worked up an appetite playing those games.” When Jungkook returns the smile, the warmth in Jimin’s chest spreads. “You definitely worked up a sweat.” He adds playfully, nose wrinkling. “I think you need a shower.”

Jungkook huffs out a quiet laugh, shaking his head. “I’ll stick with the tteokbokki for now. You’ll have to put up with me and my smell for the rest of the day.”

“I don’t know if I can do that.”

“Why not? I’ve had to put up with yours all day.” Jungkook’s teasing earns him another nudge to the foot, just a little harder this time.

Jimin doesn’t know why, but he feels sort of giddy right now. He’s in such a good mood, and he doesn’t think that anything can bring him down. Despite a few minor hiccups earlier on, today had been a good day. A really, really good day.

The five of them remain sitting at the table for a while, simply talking and catching up. And of course, there’s a generous amount of laughter thrown into the mix. Jimin is the one who talks the least out of everyone, mostly because he’s more than content with sitting back and allowing the other four to fill each other in on what’s going in on their lives since they’d last seen one another. Everyone’s so wrapped up in conversation that time has a way of flying by.

It’s when the sun's warmth starts to wane as it sets, and when Jimin zips up his jacket to his chin that JK leans towards him to get his attention. When Jimin glances at him questioningly, JK jerks his head in the general direction of the main gates.

 “Hey, you ready to go?” He asks, which has Jimin frowning in confusion. “Or do you not want to hang out anymore?” Shrugging noncommittally, JK adds, “it’s fine if you don’t.”

And then all at once, it hits him, and Jimin remembers that he’d made plans to hang out with JK later that day. Granted, they made plans to hang out before Jimin knew that he’d be seeing JK at the fair, but Jimin can’t back out of them now. It would be rude. 

“No, let’s still do something.” Jimin says, not wanting JK to think that he’s about to bail. Jimin is someone who likes to keep his promises. Besides, it’s not like he minds spending time with JK. He just minds that he has to tell Jungkook that he has to leave because of it.

He's kind of grateful when JK breaks the news for him.

“Me and Jimin have to go.” JK’s announcement comes completely out of the blue, and even though Jimin might have been a bit more tactful if he was the one telling everyone that they had to leave, he's not about to complain about JK's method. “Sorry, we totally lost track of time. We gotta go work on our project.” It’s a lie, and Jimin knows that hanging out with JK won’t mean working on their project, but he’s honestly glad that he used it as an excuse.  

Though, Jungkook doesn’t seem like he’s fully convinced by it. He eyes his brother skeptically, one eyebrow lifting higher than the other. “Never seen you so concerned about schoolwork before.”

“Yeah, well I guess Jimin’s just rubbing off on me.” JK replies easily.  

Jungkook doesn’t have anything else to say.

Jimin and JK don’t leave without saying their goodbyes. JK gets scooped up into what looks to be a bone crushing hug from Seokjin, and while the hug he gets from Namjoon looks a little tamer, Jimin can tell that it’s filled with just as much warmth.

Even Jimin gets a hug from both of them.

Seokjin and Namjoon tell Jimin that it was nice meeting him, that they hope they’ll see him again soon, and Jimin eagerly returns the sentiments. Jimin isn’t necessarily upset that he’s leaving, but when he waves bye to Jungkook, he can’t help but feel a little guilty. Jungkook is the one who invited him to the fair…but it was only supposed to be a day thing, and Jimin is the one who told JK that he’d hang out with him later. So, there’s nothing much that can be done. 

At least Jungkook smiles at him when he waves back.

By the time he’s leaving the fair with JK, the sun is starting to dip below the skyline of the city. When Jimin asks what he wants to do, JK says that he just feels like chilling out, and suggests that they go over to his place. Jimin doesn’t object. He’s been curious about where he lives for a while now, so Jimin figures he shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to see for himself.

Since the fair had been on the outskirts of the city, the bus ride to JK's turns out to be fairly long, but it’s not a boring ride. JK is easy to talk to, and he makes the time go by quickly. Before Jimin even knows it, JK is getting out of his seat, telling him that it’s time for them to get off. 

JK's place isn't anything like Jungkook's place. 

“Come on in.” JK says, carelessly kicking his shoes off at the door. “Make yourself at home.”

Still holding the bunny in his hand, Jimin slides off his own shoes, neatly setting them on the doormat before taking his first few steps inside. The first time that he went to Jungkook’s apartment, Jimin had been speechless because he had been so preoccupied with taking everything in, and with admiring it all. And now as he looks around JK's, Jimin is left speechless again. But he isn’t speechless because he’s busy with taking everything in. In truth, there’s not a whole lot to look at. Jimin is only speechless right now because of how different this is from Jungkook's apartment. JK doesn’t live in a luxury apartment. He lives in a quaint little basement suite.

There’s not much to look at simply because it’s not that big of a space, and if Jimin had to guess, he would say it’s only slightly larger than his own dorm that he shares with Taehyung. But it’s still nice. It’s more than nice. It’s warm and cozy, and it reminds Jimin of home.

The kitchen doesn’t have an island like Jungkook’s does, but the countertops still look like they’re marble. And while Jungkook’s place is decorated with paintings, JK’s is decorated with random articles of clothing strewn about. There's a hoodie on the table, a t-shirt hanging off the back of a chair, and a jacket draped over the arm of the couch. Jimin finds himself smiling at the sight of it. He’s not surprised.

This place is fitting for JK, and Jimin can’t imagine him living anywhere else.

“Didn’t expect any company?” Jimin teases, nodding at a lone sock laying on the floor near the couch. It’s a fairly large couch, and takes up most of the space in the area that JK uses as his makeshift living room. Judging by the assortment of controllers sitting underneath the TV, Jimin assumes that he mostly uses the area to play video games.

“What, you can’t handle a bit of a mess?” JK shrugs off his jacket and tosses it onto the couch, right on top of the other one. “And it’s not even that messy.” He disappears into a room, and after Jimin catches a glimpse of a bed when he opens the door, he assumes it's his bedroom.

His place really isn’t that messy, but it’s not like Jimin can pass up on a chance to tease. “You and I must have very different definitions of messy.” He hums. With JK still in his bedroom, Jimin wanders over to the couch. He considers it for a moment before simply plopping himself down, making himself at home just like JK had told him to.

“You think this is messy?” JK calls back, and Jimin hears the sound of a drawer being opened. “You should’ve seen it before.”

“I don’t wanna know what it looked like before.”

"Yeah, you really don't." A few seconds later, JK returns from his room. But he doesn’t return empty handed. Jimin had just been about to ask what he was doing in there, but when he notices what JK is holding, he simply sits there, gawking at it. “Is that a…is that a joint?” He can clearly see that it is. It’s unlit, but Jimin knows that it’s a joint. “You smoke weed?”

In retrospect, it probably shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise, but Jimin hadn’t been prepared for JK to randomly whip out a joint while he was there. He knew they weren’t going to be doing any schoolwork, but he didn’t think JK would be doing this.

“Every now and then I do, yeah.” JK says. “It’s not like I smoke every night. It's mostly only when I’ve had a shitty day at work or when I’m stressed. Just to relax, you know?” He leans against the doorframe as he considers Jimin, lazily twirling the unlit joint between his fingers. “You wanna smoke with me?”

“No.” Jimin’s answer is immediate. “No, I don’t do that.”

It’s not that this is the first time that Jimin’s ever been around weed. He’s been to his fair share of parties, and even back in high school, whenever there was a party, someone would always show up with pot. But Jimin never tried it himself, and he doesn’t intend on trying it.

JK shifts his weight from foot to foot, shuffling awkwardly. “Sorry, I…” He clears his throat, looking a bit regretful. “I guess I should’ve asked if you were okay with it. If you’re not comfortable with me smoking around you, then–”

“JK, it’s fine.” Jimin says, waving his hand. Will Jimin ever do any sort of drug himself? No. But he’s not going to condemn JK for smoking, and he’s not going to hold him back from doing it. A couple of Jimin’s friends are even casual smokers, and Jimin doesn’t think they’re bad people for doing it. It’s just not for him. “If you wanna smoke, then go ahead. It’s your house and everything.”

“Really?” JK’s eyes are so big that it almost looks comical, like he can’t believe that Jimin is really giving him the okay. “You’re actually fine with it? Are you sure?”

“I mean, I don’t think that it’s really that good for you. And I would never try it myself. And you could get into a lot of trouble if the wrong person finds out about it.” But JK is his own person. And if he’s prepared to deal with whatever consequences may come, then it’s his choice. It’s not like Jimin can control him. “But it’s your call.”

“I know, I know. I could get into a lot of trouble, but I’m careful with it. And hey, it’s better than alcohol. At least I’m not drinking myself to sleep every night.”

“I guess.” 

JK hesitates, chewing at the inside of his cheek as he observes Jimin. “You sure you’re okay with it?” He presses, and Jimin nods once more.

“Yeah, go ahead.”

Only then do the telltale signs of a smile tug at JK’s lips. “Okay. I’ll be right back, just gonna go smoke this in the spare room. Make yourself comfortable. Turn on the TV – pick a movie or something.”

JK disappears into the spare bedroom, and Jimin reaches over to grab the remote from the coffee table. He certainly didn’t expect his night to turn out like this. But he’s not mad about it. He sort of wonders what JK will be like when he’s high.

While JK smokes, Jimin manages to find his Netflix, and he starts aimlessly scrolling through movies as he waits. He can’t smell any smoke, so he assumes that JK must have a sploof or something, or maybe he’s just blowing it out the window. Jimin’s glad for that, glad that JK doesn’t want his place reeking of weed. If JK did smoke all the time, and if he didn’t care about where he smoked, then Jimin would’ve been able to smell it as soon as he walked inside. He doesn’t know why he likes that JK is careful about where he smokes so much, but he does. It makes JK seem somehow responsible, even though smoking weed is pretty damn irresponsible by Jimin’s standards.

It’s a weird sort of paradox.

A short while later, JK is stepping back out and joining Jimin on the couch. He smells a bit like cologne, like he’s trying to cover up any smoke that might be lingering on his clothes, and Jimin likes that too. There’s a crooked smile on his face, and Jimin lets out a short laugh at the sight of it.

“Feel good?”

“Mm, yeah.” JK hums. “And uh…I know this probably goes without saying, but don’t tell Jungkook about this.”

“I won’t.”

“Thanks.” JK settles into the cushions, seemingly more relaxed now after getting Jimin’s assurance.  “So, you pick a movie?” He pauses, just so he can make sure he has Jimin’s full attention before he’s wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. “Wanna watch a horror?”

Remembering what JK had said about horror movies back at the fair, Jimin rolls his eyes. “Shut up.” He murmurs inoffensively, which in turn has JK’s smirk stretching wider.

“What? I’m just trying to get into the Halloween spirit.”

“I’m sure you are.” 

In the end, they choose an action movie – something about spies and thwarting elaborate heists. It’s not usually the genre that Jimin would go for, but he actually gets pretty into it, and is enjoying it for the most part. He holds the stuffed bunny in his lap, absentmindedly playing with its ears, rubbing its soft fur between his fingertips. He’s so absorbed in the movie that he completely forgets JK had even smoked.

He’s reminded of it soon enough though.

“I hope,” JK says suddenly, and just from hearing those two words, Jimin can tell that he’s starting to feel the full effects of the weed. Jimin turns away from TV, ignoring the explosion going on in the movie in favour of paying attention to JK. “I hope you like that.” He speaks with a bit of a lag, and Jimin is already finding himself struggling to fight off a smile. JK lifts his hand, gesturing half-heartedly to the stuffed animal. “That bunny.”

High JK might be Jimin’s favourite JK. There’s something innocent about him, like he’s adopted some childlike quality. “I do like it.” Jimin assures, amused as he takes note of the way JK is struggling to keep his eyes fully open.

“Good.” Slumping back like he’s trying to lose himself completely in the couch cushions, JK lets out a lengthy sigh. “I had to get so many balls in the basket to win it. Like, they’re supposed to make those games for kids. But that game was hard, Jimin. A kid could never win that. It wasn’t fair. I should write a letter. Make a complaint.”

Jimin laughs at that, the sound of it bubbling up from his chest before he has the chance to conceal it in his hand. “I don’t think you’re in the right state of mind to write a letter right now.”

“What’re you talking about? I’m in the perfect state of mind.”

“Yeah okay, JK.” Jimin hums. “Whatever you say.”

They lapse into silence after that, the only noise now coming from the TV. Jimin tries to turn his attention back to the movie, but there’s something that prevents him from focusing on it. JK is still looking at him. He has been for a while now, and at first Jimin had been able to ignore it, but now he can't bring himself to. JK has his eyes on Jimin, and even though his eyes are partially obscured by his heavy lids, his gaze never wavers. He keeps staring even when Jimin finally turns to him and stares right back in the hopes that he’ll look away if he maintains eye contact with him long enough. But JK never looks away. He just keeps staring, just keeps smiling a dopey lopsided smile.

And Jimin isn’t uncomfortable, because JK’s gaze is soft. His head lolls to the side as it rests against the back of the couch, and his eyes aren’t searching for anything, it’s like he’s looking just to look. It doesn’t make Jimin uncomfortable, but it does make his cheeks feel warm.

“What?” Jimin questions, and when JK’s smile stays the same, a smile of his own begins to surface. “Do I have something on my face?”

JK snorts. “No.” He goes quiet, blinking slowly. “It’s just that–” cutting himself off, he flops his wrist back and forth like he’s trying to dismiss Jimin’s inquiry. “Never mind. Nothing, nothing.”

Naturally, JK’s evasiveness only draws Jimin in. “You can’t just do that. You gotta tell me.” Jimin insists, nearly grinning now as he readjusts his position to fully face JK. It might be useless to try to get a glimpse inside a high person's mind, but it’s entertaining too. “Please?”

“You won’t like it.”

“So? I don’t like most of the stuff that comes out of your mouth.” Jimin points out.

JK seems to think it’s a fairly good point too, because seconds later, he’s giving in. He shakes his head slowly. “It’s just your smile.”

“My smile?” Jimin repeats, raising his eyebrows.

“Yeah. You have a really nice smile.”

Needless to say, Jimin doesn’t really know how to deal with compliments. He glances down at the stuffed bunny on his lap, tries to focus on something else, but when he looks down all he can think about is how his face is probably the same shade of pink as the bunny’s fur. He’s never known how to handle compliments in the past, and he certainly doesn’t know how to handle them now, and since he has no idea how he’s supposed to react, and since he’s more than a little flustered at the moment, he says the first thing that comes to his mind.

“So do you.” He tells JK that he has a nice smile too. And even though he hadn’t given much thought to his words, even though he said them because he felt like he needed to say something, what he said wasn’t a lie.  

JK really does have a nice smile.

JK snorts. “Are you just saying that because it reminds you of Jungkook’s smile?”

“What? No.” The beginnings of a frown weigh on the corners of Jimin’s mouth, though he doesn’t let it take over his face completely. Why JK even think that? “You and Jungkook have completely different smiles.” Jimin doesn’t know how to explain it exactly, but even though JK and Jungkook are identical twins, their smiles aren’t the same at all. They both have their own unique array of smiles.

“Really? You’re not just saying that?”

“No.” Jimin answers softly, still feeling too shy to speak any louder. “Why? Were you just saying that?”

“No. I meant it. I like when you smile.”

When Jimin feels something inside his stomach flutter, he’s quick to remind himself that JK is high right now, and that that’s the only reason why he’s saying these things. JK is shameless when he’s sober, but he’s obviously even more shameless when he’s not. Just like how JK’s sober teasing doesn’t mean anything, his high compliments don’t mean anything either.

So Jimin brushes it off, forcing himself to laugh out a quiet thanks.

He's quick to steer the conversation in another direction too – before his cheeks can bloom another shade darker. Being with a very high and very chatty JK is a good thing, because Jimin has a few questions he wants to ask. He’s curious about so many things, and he’s confused about so many things. His questions might bring down the mood down a little, but he’s willing to risk it.

“JK?” He ventures softly. “Can I ask you something?” Tugging at his sleeves, Jimin tucks his hands away so that they’re hidden in his sweater. He doesn’t know why he’s suddenly so nervous, but there’s a hint of wariness surfacing, mingling in with his interest.

“Ask anything.” JK says. Even though it’s smaller now, his smile is still there. “I’m an open book.”

And that’s all the invitation that Jimin needs. He gets more comfortable, lifting his feet up off the floor and hugging his knees to his chest. “Why do you live here, and why does Jungkook live…” Jimin takes a couple seconds to try to think of an appropriate word to use, but in the end, can’t come up with anything other than: “there.”

JK lives in a cozy little basement suite, and Jungkook lives in a luxury apartment, and Jimin doesn’t understand why. He doesn’t understand, because it doesn’t make sense when he thinks about how hesitant Jungkook had been when he invited him over for the first time. Jungkook seemed so worried that Jimin would judge him for where he lived, or that he’d think it’s too extravagant. Not only that, but Jimin knows just how humble Jungkook is. So why wouldn’t Jungkook live somewhere else? Somewhere like this?

JK looks slightly more alert now, like the change in topic has him sobering up. "My dad." He says shrugging his shoulders up to his ears. "He doesn’t really care where I’m living as long as I’m going to school. At first, he wanted me to live in those apartments too, but after I argued with him and told him I didn’t want to, he sort of just gave up on trying to tell me where to live.”

“And Jungkook?” Jimin murmurs, the subtlest of frowns creasing his forehead. “He wanted to live there? He didn’t argue?”

“No. No, he didn’t want to live there either. But my dad pressured him about living there way more than he pressured me. Always told Jungkook that he should get used to living like that. Told him that he should get used to living in fancy places like that, because that’s how he’ll be living when he’s older.”

“Oh.” Jimin doesn’t know what else to say. He knew that he’d bring the mood down, but he didn’t think he’d bring it down so low, and he didn’t anticipate feeling an ache in his heart. His heart aches for both of them. For Jungkook and for JK. 

“Yeah. Jungkook is like, the golden boy, you know? So my dad was always way harder on Jungkook than he was on me. I was mostly just pressured to go to university. Dad pressured the hell out of me on that. So when he started suggesting what I should go to school for, I picked a random degree, just so he’d get off my back. But he doesn’t know that I’m not in any of the right classes for my degree, and he doesn’t know I’m not coming back to school next year.”

“What? You're not?” Jimin murmurs. The disappointment in his own voice surprises even himself. He's not disappointed because he thinks that JK would be making a mistake by not coming back next year to finish his degree. He’s disappointed that JK won’t be around. Jimin never realized until now that he’d miss him if he was gone.

“Nope. I’m wasting my time in school.” JK shakes his head, kicking his feet up onto the coffee table. “After this year, I’m out. My dad’s paying for my rent and for my food and pretty much for all my expenses right now, but when I don’t come back to school next year, there's no way that he's gonna keep supporting me. That’s why I have a job, that’s why I’ve been saving up. I need my own money. I don’t want to be in school. I know what I want to do, and what I want to do is travel. I want to be happy.”

I want to be happy.

Everyone wants to be happy. It’s not as if JK had said anything profound or notable, but those words coming from JK have Jimin feeling…strange. He feels strange because he realizes that he wants that for JK too. He wants JK to be happy. He cares about him.

“Okay, this is getting really deep. I’m so in my head right now, holy shit.” JK snickers. “I think we should watch a horror movie to compensate.”

“Absolutely not.” Somehow, Jimin manages to laugh. And it's a genuine laugh. No matter how heavy things might have been, JK managed to bring the mood back up with that infamous teasing of his, and with his signature smirk. Those things used to be parts of JK that annoyed Jimin to no end, but now, they’re simply parts of JK.

And Jimin is quickly realizing that JK wouldn’t be JK without all his annoying little quirks. And Jimin wouldn’t be sitting here on JK’s couch, enjoying spending time with him, if JK wasn’t JK.

---

“JK likes you.” Taehyung is grinning from ear to ear, and that grin of his is meant to tease Jimin, and nothing more than that. It’s been a couple days after the fair, and this is the first time since then that Jimin has had a chance to sit down with Taehyung and properly talk.

They’re sitting at a table near one of the coffee shops on campus, sipping on smoothies as they bring each other up to speed on what’s been going on in their lives these last two days. Taehyung had told Jimin all about work, and all about a few unruly customers he had to deal with the other day, and Jimin told Taehyung all about the fair.

And, because Kim Taehyung is his best friend who apparently gets off on seeing him suffer, as soon as Jimin told him that JK won him a stuffed bunny, he made it his personal mission to ruthlessly tease Jimin about it. Which is where they are now.

Jimin laughs, though it’s more so a product of disbelief and exasperation than it is of amusement. “No he doesn’t.” When he says this, Taehyung slams his plastic cup down on the table and stares at Jimin as if he’s the epitome of clueless.

“Jimin, the guy won you a stuffed bunny at a fair. That’s the closest thing to a marriage proposal you’ve ever gotten.” Taehyung's eyes suddenly brighten like he’s experiencing an epiphany. “Or was the closest you’ve ever been to a marriage proposal when a certain someone literally took a painting off the wall of his apartment and gave it to you for your birthday because one time you told him that you liked it?”

“Either way, those are both very very far from a proposal.”

“Yeah, but which one is closer?” When Jimin only rolls his eyes in response, Taehyung takes his refusal to indulge him as an invitation to keep talking and to keep pushing. “Jimin, I don’t know if you realize this, but you’re living every teenage girl’s fantasy right now.” Those words have Jimin choking on his smoothie, but Taehyung pays him no mind, continuing on as if Jimin isn’t currently spluttering and struggling for air. “Two hot guys are fighting over you – and not just any guys. Brothers, Jimin. And not just any brothers. Twins, Jimin. Twins.”

The sole reason that Jimin recovers from his choking incident so quickly is so that he can scold Taehyung and set him straight. “Oh my god.” Jimin groans. “Will you cut it out? No one is fighting over me. They don’t like me like that.”

“But what if they did? I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch. I mean, especially if we’re talking about JK. The guy flirts with you all the time. I see it all the time when I’m at work, spying on you guys when you stop in to get a coffee and do your project.”

“But it’s not serious.” Jimin says quickly. He picks up his cup, lightly tapping the straw against his lips as he thinks about his next words. Sure, he can recognize that JK is a bit flirty sometimes, but Jimin never puts much thought into it, because that’s just the kind of guy that JK is. That’s just the sort of stuff that he does, and Jimin is fairly certain that he treats other people the exact same way. “The flirting and the teasing…that’s just what JK does. He doesn’t mean anything by it.”

“Would it make a difference to you if you knew he was serious about it? If you knew for a fact that he wasn’t just playing some game?”

“I don’t–”

“And what about Jungkook? Do you think he’s so sweet to you because that’s just who he is, or because he might potentially have a bit of a crush on you? Would it make a difference? Would you feel different about him if you knew he wasn’t just being sweet because he’s sweet?”

“I don’t…I don’t know.” Jimin murmurs. He isn’t entirely sure why they’re even having this conversation – it's certainly not a conversation he wants to be having. For some reason, it makes him uncomfortable, which is strange, because he can literally talk to Taehyung about anything, and it’s never uncomfortable. In the end, Jimin just sighs, shaking his head. “They’re my friends, Tae.”

“Okay, right, right. Friends, of course. Right.” There’s a break in conversation that lasts a moment or so, and Jimin takes those silent seconds as an opportunity to drink his smoothie in peace. But then, all too soon, Taehyung is piping up again. “So…I mean, I know that they’re just your friends and all, but hypothetically speaking, if they were fighting over you, who’s winning at the moment?”

Jimin doesn’t reply. He just narrows his eyes and flicks his straw wrapper at his friend.  

In the end, Taehyung ends up dropping the subject. But for some reason, even when they start going off and talking about other things – things that are on a completely different topic – Jimin’s thoughts end up drifting back to Taehyung’s question. Would it make a difference?

Jimin doesn’t know. Would it? And would he even want it to make a difference?

 

Chapter Text

November usually turns out to be the busiest month for students, and this year is no exception. The next few weeks that go by prove to be the most hectic weeks of Jimin’s semester. He’s so busy that he doesn’t have much time to think about anything besides school, meaning that Taehyung’s questions that had been lingering in his mind have already faded away into the background. Jimin doesn’t allow himself to think about it.  

Jungkook and JK are his friends – nothing has happened to make him think otherwise. The majority of Jimin’s November is spent with the twins, and he likes where he’s at with both of them right now. Every day, he can feel himself growing a little closer to them, and he likes where things are going. Jungkook and JK are so different, but that’s not a bad thing, and Jimin likes them both in their own ways, and he’s grateful that he has both of them. With the help of the twins, the month flies by in no time.

If Jimin isn’t studying with Jungkook, then he’s most likely hanging out with JK. When he’s with JK, Jimin gets a chance to sit back and unwind. He doesn’t have to think about studying, or about how finals are just around the corner, or about anything at all really. Being with JK gives him a much-needed break from the chaos that is school, and Jimin couldn’t be more thankful for that.

But tonight is a night for studying, tonight is a night where Jimin is over at Jungkook’s. It’s already late, and Jimin had forced himself to step away from his books for a while so that he can get some fresh air. He’s standing alone on Jungkook’s balcony, and even though they’re on the cusp of December, he’s not wearing his jacket. It’s cold outside in just his sweater, but it’s nice. The winter edge in the air isn’t too bad, it’s just sharp enough to wake Jimin up and chase away his fatigue from.

Jimin leans over the railing, resting his forearms on it, his eyes sweeping over the city spread out before him. Seoul looks so pretty at night with all the buildings lit up. Those twinkling lights of the city are the closest thing he’s seen to stars in a while, and even though Jimin thinks that those lights are pretty, he can’t help but wish he could see the stars too.

Maybe in few years when he finally takes his time to travel, he’ll get to see a night sky that’s so full of stars that he can barely even see any black. He hopes he’ll get to see something like that. Seoul is fine, and Jimin doesn’t dislike being in the city, but he knows there’s so much more to see. He exhales slowly through his mouth, his breath lingering in the air around him, creating a fine cloud of mist.

There's a slight tugging in his chest, and Jimin feels that familiar impatience threatening to surface. It’s the same way he felt at the very start of the semester – he wants to be done with school so that he can start his life, so he can go out and see what else the world has to offer. Jimin figures the only reason that he’s feeling like this is because of the stress of school and his rapidly approaching final exams. In reality, he knows that there's no need to be so impatient, there’s no need to rush. He should just enjoy what he has now. There’s not much that he has to complain about. Life is good.

“Hey. Thought you came out here.” Jungkook’s voice startles Jimin out of his thoughts, even though he had spoken softly. “Here, you must be cold.” Stepping out to join him on the balcony, Jungkook reaches over to drape a blanket over Jimin’s shoulders.

“Thanks.” Jimin says, a smile spreading over his face. He pulls the blanket up a little higher over himself, grateful for the warmth that it envelopes him in. Of course, he’s grateful to have some company too.

“It’s nice out here, isn’t it?” Jungkook says, zipping his jacket up. Jimin nods in agreement, and takes note of the way the light from the city dances and reflects in Jungkook's eyes.

“It’s beautiful.”

“I always come out here to clear my head. It’s a good place to just…think.”

“Yeah?” Intrigued, Jimin perks up. “What do you think about?” His curiosity makes him lean in just a bit closer to Jungkook. It’s warmer when he’s closer to him.

Jungkook smiles faintly. “I don’t even know – I think that I think too much.” He lets out a quiet laugh. “I think about life, I guess. You know. Everything.”

It’s quiet for a while after that, at least, it’s as quiet as the city can get. There’s still the murmur of traffic coming from down below, there’s still the telltale sounds of a busy city, but it all seems muted somehow. Like he’s in his own little bubble with Jungkook, full of lovely warmth and comforting quiet.

Jimin can't help but wonder what thoughts take up space in Jungkook's head. He wonders about what aspects of life he thinks about, wonders what sorts of things he thinks about in that brilliant head of his. Even though Jimin knows Jungkook so much better now compared to the beginning of the semester, he still wonders about him just as much now as he did back then.

“Jungkook?” And Jimin doesn’t want to wonder in silence anymore. Their eyes meet, and Jungkook’s gaze is so gentle, and in his eyes Jimin finds assurance that lets him know he can always ask Jungkook anything. No matter what. “Are you happy?”

Jungkook blinks at him. He probably hadn’t expected Jimin to ask that. And maybe it was wrong of Jimin to ask such a deep question when their brains are already fried from a day of studying, but he wants to know. And asking now just felt…right.

Jungkook traps his lower lip between his teeth, nibbling at it as his expression grows thoughtful. His eyes drift from Jimin’s face, gaze wandering so that he’s staring out at the city once more. “I think happiness is kind of a weird concept.”  He says, and Jimin waits patiently for him to continue, silent as he studies him. “Every day, that’s what everyone’s trying to do, isn’t it? We’re all just trying to get closer to happiness. And sometimes, I think people get so caught up in the idea of being happy somewhere else, that they never really stop to look for happiness where they are right now.”

There’s this look that crosses over Jungkook’s face right then – something resembling akin to awe. “Do you think that anyone is ever really happy?” His eyes are shining pools of light as he looks out at the city, full of wonder. “Or do you think there are just a bunch of little things in life that we find enjoyable. And when we’re doing those things we enjoy, we say we’re happy. But then as soon as we stop, are we still happy?”

Jimin considers the question, weighing it carefully. He’s thought about happiness before, has his own views on it, but it’s hard to put his thoughts into words. He does his best to speak in a way that makes sense. “I think…I think we need to find the things that make us happy.” He shifts his weight as he stands, shuffling his feet. His toes are getting a little cold, but not unbearably so. “I think we need to find the things we love, and we need to surround ourselves in them. So then, if you’re always surrounded by things that make you happy, then you can say that you’re really happy. Not just that you feel instances of happiness.”

"I think so too." When Jungkook turns to look at him again, Jimin notices traces of a smile on his lips. “And to answer your question, I don’t know if I’d necessarily call myself a happy person. But there are lots of things that make me happy.”

Jimin tilts his head. “What makes you happy?”

“You make me happy.” Jungkook’s smile takes a shy turn, and Jimin thinks he can see traces of pink staining his cheeks. “Ever since I met you and Taehyung, I think that I’ve been a lot happier. I think that I’m better at being happy in the moment, instead of thinking about all the things I have to do if I want to be happy in the future.”

Ever since he met Jungkook, Jimin has only wanted him to be happy, has only wanted him to smile. So, knowing that he makes Jungkook happy fills Jimin with so much warmth that it starts to overflow. And now Jimin can feel a blush spreading over his own cheeks, and because of the way it contrasts with the cold, it feels so much warmer than any other blush he’s ever felt.

“You make me happy too.” Maybe it seems like Jimin is saying it out of obligation, but he’s not. There’s a reason that Jimin feels so good right now, and that reason doesn’t have anything to do with how pretty the city is at night. “You know, I asked Seokjin and Namjoon about what your dad does.” Jimin says, pulling the blanket tighter around his body when the temperature seems to have dropped a few degrees.

Jungkook arches a brow. “Oh?”

“Yeah – back at the fair. I hope that’s okay with you.” Jimin goes on, absentmindedly picking at the edge of the blanket. “And don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset that you never told me who he is or what he does or anything. But I guess I’m just curious if there’s a reason why you never told me.”

Jungkook gives him a shrug, but Jimin can tell this is a serious subject to him, not one that he can simply shrug off and dismiss. “If I’m being honest, usually when people find out about how much money my family has, they either resent me for it, or they suddenly want to be my best friend.”

“Did you…” Jimin trails off, licking his lips. He’s a little afraid to know the answer to his next question. “Did you think that I’d be one of those people?”

“No.” Jungkook’s reply is immediate. He shakes his head thoroughly. “No, I knew you weren’t like that. I knew you were different. But I guess over the years, I’ve learned to be a little guarded when it comes to that kind of thing.”

“I would never use you, Jungkook. You know that, right?”

A delicate smile finds its way to Jungkook’s face. “I know.”

But Jimin doesn’t just want him to know. He really really wants him to know. “I don’t like you because of where you live, and I don’t like you because you dress really nice, and I don’t like you because your dad’s rolling in it – those are Seokjin’s words, not mine.” Jungkook dips his head, letting out a quiet snort that dissolves into a laugh. And Jimin’s smile is unstoppable. “I like you because you’re the nicest person I’ve ever met in my whole entire life. I like you because you snort when you laugh. I like you because you’re a complete dork.”

“You know, I would say thank you. But those last two seem like backhanded compliments to me.”

“Take what you can get.”

Jungkook laughs again, and Jimin won't ever get tired of the sound of him laughing. “I will. Thank you, Jimin. I mean it.”

Jimin opens his mouth to reply, but he's silenced when something cold lands on the tip of his nose. He blinks in confusion, head tilting back to look at the sky. And sure enough, when he looks up, he's met with the sight of snowflakes. They decorate the night sky with flecks of white, the city lights making them sparkle like tiny crystal shards. 

It’s the first snowfall of the season. The snowflakes take their time on their way down, falling slowly like there’s no need to rush. Like the time spent fluttering through the air is so much more precious than the moment when they finally touch the ground.

Jimin and Jungkook stay quiet, both of them with their eyes turned towards the heavens, lips slightly parted in silent wonder. And as Jimin looks up at the sky, watching those snowflakes fall, he’s reminded of Christmas. He’s reminded of colourful twinkling lights and sitting by the fire drinking hot chocolate, he’s reminded of the taste of home cooked meals, and the smell of cookies baking in the oven.

He brings his eyes back down to Jungkook, and he can’t keep the excitement from his voice. “Hey, what are you doing for Christmas?” Jimin doesn’t know whether or not Jungkook’s family has any Christmas traditions, but considering what he knows about them, he doubts they do. “If you’re not busy, you should to my house. Spend it with me.”

“Really?” Jungkook's eyes double in size. “I–I mean, I would love that. My dad’s usually busy on Christmas, and my mom usually spends it with her friends.” He gets over the shock of Jimin’s offer quickly, and all at once he’s turning serious, the beginnings of a frown wrinkling his forehead. “Are you sure it would be okay with your family, though? I don’t want to intrude or anything.”

“It’ll be fine.” Jimin assures, quickly dismissing Jungkook’s concerns. There’s no need for Jungkook to fret, Jimin knows that his family will be more than happy to have him over. His dad is pretty laid back and won’t mind, and his mom loves cooking, and she especially loves cooking for other people. She’d be delighted if Jungkook came. “I promise.” Christmas is Jimin’s favourite holiday, and all he wants is to make sure that on Christmas, Jungkook can feel the warmth of family – even if it’s not his own family.

They still have to get through the rest of the semester, they still have to get through finals, but Jimin doesn’t think it’ll be so bad. Not when he has something to look forward to.

---

It’s around 6pm on a Saturday, and Jimin is over at JK’s. The both of them are comfortably sprawled out across his couch, with Jimin laying at one end while JK lays on the other, their bodies stretched out so that their feet meet in the middle cushions, toes just barely touching as they lay there. JK had just revealed some extremely upsetting news, and Jimin is having a hard time coming to terms with it.

He can’t believe the words that just came out of JK’s mouth. He can’t believe what he’d just heard. He doesn’t want to believe it.

“A-are you serious?” Jimin asks, his mouth dropping open in horror. He stares up at the ceiling with wide eyes. “You mean…you're telling me that when you were a kid, you never believed in Santa?” The mere thought of it is horrifying. Some of Jimin’s best memories from childhood involve waking up on Christmas morning with his brother, and rushing out to the living room to see the prettily wrapped presents from Santa laying underneath the tree.

“Nope. My parents never did the whole Santa Claus thing.” JK says, a hint of amusement seeping into his voice at the end of his sentence. He laughs breathily. “I remember one time in elementary school, I accidentally let it slip to this one kid that Santa wasn’t real, and he just started bawling. Like, full on snot and tears. I got in so much trouble from my teacher.”

“You’re terrible." Jimin scolds. "Ruining the magic of Christmas.” Even though he doesn’t want to find amusement in some poor child’s crushed dreams, a stubborn smile somehow finds its way to his face. He laughs softly, playfully kicking at JK’s foot. “How can you live with yourself?”

“It was an accident!” When Jimin lets out an unconvinced hum, JK sits up like a loaded spring, slapping his hand over his own heart. “I swear!”

The defensive look on JK’s face makes Jimin laugh even harder.

They’d already finished and handed in their project for their literature class a week ago, so it’s not like Jimin can even pretend like the only reason he’s with JK so much is because he’s his partner for a project. That excuse had worked for a little bit, but he’d given up on it a while ago, and is now perfectly fine with admitting that he likes spending time with JK.

Going over to JK’s means chilling out on that giant, worn-in couch of his, and relaxing – it’s nice to just unplug when he’s at JK’s.

After the first time that JK had gotten high with Jimin there, there have only been a couple other instances where he’d gone for a smoke while Jimin is over, and Jimin still doesn’t mind it. A couple weeks ago, JK admitted to Jimin that he doesn’t even smoke at all anymore when he’s home alone.

He said that when he does smoke, he likes it best if it’s when Jimin is with him, because according to JK, it makes him feel even better when he's with Jimin. When JK told him that, Jimin tried to act as if his words didn’t effect him, because really, to get all flustered over that would be pretty strange, wouldn’t it? JK saying that he likes getting high best when Jimin is around is a pretty unconventional compliment – if it can even be called a compliment at all. And yet, Jimin’s cheeks were still all rosy after JK said it.

Not that he thinks too much about that.

“Anyway, speaking of Santa and crushed childhood dreams,” Jimin says once his laughter had died down. He sits up a bit, leaning back on his elbows so he can get a proper look at JK. “What are you doing for Christmas this year? Are you gonna be around?” Of course Jimin is going to invite JK over for Christmas too. It’s not that he feels like he has to do it in order to avoid a conflict if he only invites Jungkook and not JK – Jimin genuinely wants them both to be there. He wants to spend Christmas with them so that he can do everything he can to make sure that they both have a special one.

“I’m spending it with a couple of friends from high school." JK answers. "But aside from that I’ll be free for most of winter break. We should hang out. I can take you ice skating or something.”

Jimin smiles. “Yeah, I’d really like that.” Even though he’s a bit bummed that JK won’t be able to come over for Christmas, he’s glad that he’ll at least be with his friends for it.

“Sweet.” JK says. He gets up from the couch, and makes a vague gesture towards the spare room. “I think I’m gonna smoke, do you mind?”

 “Go for it.” Jimin knows that it’s JK’s own way of unwinding, and he doesn’t want to stop him from it. “Want me to make some popcorn?”

“You read my mind. Do you remember where it is?”

“I think so.”

“Cool. Oh, and it’s your turn to pick the movie. Unless tonight is finally the night where you let me show you the wonders of video games.”

“We’ll see.” Jimin hums on his way to the kitchen.

JK has been trying to convince Jimin to let him teach him how to play for weeks now. The only reason Jimin is so stubborn about it and refuses the offer every time JK makes it is because Jimin knows that he’s going to suck at it. Which also means that JK will tease and harass him about it, and Jimin would rather not give him the upper hand.

“Anything I can do to persuade you?” JK asks, the playful lilt in his voice matching the playful quirk to his lips.

“Depends.” Glancing over his shoulder, Jimin flashes him an amused smile. “What are you offering?”

“Depends on what you want.”

“What do you think I want?”

“Oh, I think I know exactly what you want, Jimin.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows. “Yeah?” He opens up a cupboard in search of JK’s popcorn, hiding behind it so that JK can’t see the way his smile widens. “And what do you think I want?”

“Bet you’d like some new pens.” JK says, his voice low, mockingly seductive. “You know, those colourful ones so you can colour code your notes and stuff. Or a brand-new notebook that has lots of space for you to doodle.”

“Mm, that does sound good. Tell me more.”

“A Starbucks gift card to fuel your sugary coffee addiction.”  

“Such tempting offers.”

“I can be very persuasive.”

Jimin stays quiet for a moment, pretending to be deep in thought, like he’s weighing the pros and cons of each of JK’s ridiculous suggestions. It’s not like he’s going to make the guy do anything too crazy for him. But he also isn’t going to pass up the opportunity he has to make JK do something. A moment later, Jimin reaches his decision. He peeks his head out from around the cupboard door, smiling sweetly.  “How about you just pay for my coffee the next time we go for one?”

“Deal.” JK grins. “Park Jimin, I’m about to show you a whole new world.” And with that promising little declaration, JK walks off to the spare room to go for his smoke.

Jimin shakes his head, laughing quietly. He leans against the kitchen counter as he waits for JK to come back, listening to the sound of the popcorn popping in the microwave, and thinking about random things. When the microwave beeps, Jimin takes the bag out of it, his thoughts wandering over a variety of topics. The semester is almost over, and Jimin is so excited to get to spend time with Jungkook without any schoolwork looming over them, and now he’s excited for another reason, because he's totally going to show JK up when they go ice-skating, and–

“Shit.”

JK hisses out a curse, and it’s loud enough that it carries from the spare room out to where Jimin is in the kitchen. He’d been in the middle of emptying the popcorn into a bowl when he hears it. Brows pinching together, Jimin pauses, listening for more. What the hell was that about? He’s just about to ask if everything is okay when he hears a second voice.

“Are you kidding me, JK?”  It’s Jungkook. The voice is muffled, Jimin is hearing it through walls and through closed doors, but there’s no mistaking who that voice belongs to. It’s Jungkook.

Jimin forgets all about the popcorn, leaving it on the counter as he rushes over to the bedroom, suddenly frantic. His erratic heartbeat sends him into a state of panic, and he had been so content just seconds before, he’d been so relaxed and felt so good, and now he’s just afraid. He never thought about how he would feel if Jungkook found out that JK smokes, never thought that it would affect him, but here he is with his eyes wide and his heart beating out a sporadic rhythm. And he feels selfish, because he’s not even anxious for JK. He's anxious for himself.

Because this looks bad. If Jungkook sees him there then it’ll look bad, it’ll look like he’s smoking too, and even if Jungkook doesn’t automatically assume that he’s smoking, he’ll obviously know that Jimin lets JK smoke. Weed had never been a topic of discussion for him and Jungkook, but Jimin is certain that Jungkook isn’t okay with it. Otherwise JK wouldn’t have asked Jimin not to tell him about it.

Jimin doesn’t even make it to the spare room before the door is flinging open, and JK is storming out, his jaw clenched and his eyebrows slanted down in a severe frown. Now that he can see inside it, Jimin notices the open window in the spare room, and he can only assume that Jungkook had happened to be walking by at the worst possible time, catching JK while he'd been smoking.

JK doesn’t even spare a glance at Jimin, he just brushes by him on his way to the front door.

Jimin doesn’t know what to do, and he doesn’t even have time to think about what the best thing for him to do is right now, because the next thing he knows, JK is opening the front door, and Jungkook is barging inside.

And not only does Jimin not know what he’s supposed to do, but now, he doesn’t even know where to look. Jungkook notices Jimin the second that he steps inside. Their eyes meet, and when they do, Jimin is quick to lower head to look somewhere else. But it’s too late. He’s not quick enough. He still catches the look of confusion in Jungkook’s expression, still registers the disappointment that flashes through Jungkook’s eyes, and Jimin wishes so badly that he had already been staring down at the floor when Jungkook walked in.  

The only thing that Jimin can be thankful for is that Jungkook doesn’t choose to focus on him for more than a few seconds. He’s more preoccupied with his brother at the moment.

“JK.” Jungkook starts, and it’s so obvious that he’s trying so hard to keep himself in check. “Are you serious right now?” His voice is dangerously low. “You’re smoking again? Or did you never even quit in the first place? You just lied to me and told me you quit?”

Jimin wonders if he should step in before this goes any further, because it already sounds like it’s going to go too far. But it’s not his place to do that, is it? It’s not his business. Hell, the best thing to do is probably leave, but he can’t bring himself to move a single muscle.

Jimin feels so out of place there, standing beside the couch, feeling so helpless as he stares down at his feet.

“What the hell are you even doing here, Jungkook?” JK demands.

“I was at the school. Just finished up in the library.” Jungkook answers sharply. “Thought I’d stop by and bring you some food before going back home.” Jimin glances up then, watches as Jungkook lifts a bag of what he assumes is food. Jimin flinches at the sound it makes when he drops it on the table. “And then I find you getting high? With Jimin here?”

“Is that why you’re so pissed at me?” JK sneers, the volume of his voice increasing with each word that he says. “Are you pissed at me because you think I pressured Jimin into smoking too?”

“I never said that–”

“Jimin doesn’t smoke. And even if he did, so what? You don’t get to decide what he can and can’t do.”

“It’s not about Jimin – it’s not about what he wants. It’s not about what you want. It’s about what’s good for you.”

JK bites out a bitter laugh at that. “Oh my god. It’s perfectly safe. I don’t even do it that often.”

“It’s not just about that, JK.” Jungkook says, syllables becoming stressed, exasperation sitting heavy in his voice. “You told me you stopped–”

“Why does it even matter to you if I smoke?”

“It matters because you lied to me, it matters because it’s still illegal, it matters because your neighbours could find out,” Jungkook keeps talking, listing off reasons on his fingers, picking up momentum with every reason he says. “It matters because if dad ever finds out, he’ll kick you out onto the streets. You can’t just live your life chasing what makes you feel good, without ever stopping to think about the consequences.”

That's when JK finally snaps. It’s as if each word that left Jungkook’s mouth had slowly but surely been pushing JK towards the edge, like every one of them had been grating on his nerves, had been stripping away whatever semblance of patience he had left.

And JK has had enough. 

“You can’t control me, Jungkook!” He yells, throwing his hands up in the air. “You can’t control everything! Stop trying to be like dad, because you’re not him, okay? You’re not.”

The next few seconds pass by in silence. No one says anything. The air that had been so rife with tension seems so strangely hollow now. Jungkook and JK are just standing there staring at each another, and Jimin has long since faded into background, feeling like a coward as he helplessly watches it all fall apart.

He wants to speak up, but what the hell is he supposed to say? He’s watching something he shouldn’t even be watching, he shouldn’t even be here right now, he shouldn’t be seeing this. He really wishes he wasn’t here to see the look of hurt that settles on Jungkook’s face.

“And you know, it doesn’t even matter if dad finds out, or if he kicks me out.” JK finally says, his tone considerably softer than it had been before. As if he’d exhausted all of his anger. “He’s gonna kick me out anyway when I don’t come back to school next year.”

“When you…when you what?” Jungkook murmurs. “What are you talking about?”

“Yeah. I’m gonna finish next semester, but I'm not coming back after that. Surprise. Oh, and by the way, while we’re putting everything out in the open, I have a job too. I’ve had one for years now. Been saving up money so I can travel.” JK shrugs. “Don’t know where I want to go yet, just know that I don’t want to be here.”

Jungkook opens his mouth only to close it again. It seems like he’s having a hard time processing everything that JK is saying. His eyebrows knit together, eyes searching JK for answers. “You’re not going to finish your degree?”

“Jungkook.” JK forces out a breathy laugh. “You think I want to be a fucking accountant? You really think that’s what I want to do with my life?”

“I don’t know…I guess I just thought that you’d–”

“What? That I’d tough it out and finish up school so I can land a career I hate and be miserable for the rest of my life?”

For a while, Jimin had been convinced that both JK and Jungkook had completely forgotten he was even there. But then Jungkook’s gaze suddenly settles on him. Jungkook is looking at him like a kicked puppy, and for some reason Jimin can’t bring himself to look away.

“Jimin, did you…” Jungkook trails off, like he’s afraid of hearing the answer. “Did you know about all of this?”

Even if Jimin could find the right words to say, he knows they’d just get stuck in his throat if he tried to speak. He feels useless for not being able to do anything to make any of this better. All he can do is silently nod his head.

He wonders what Jungkook is more hurt by. Is he more hurt that JK trusted Jimin with all of this when he didn’t even trust his own brother with it? Or is he more hurt that Jimin knew about it but never told him any of it? Maybe both of those hurt equally as bad.

Jungkook tears his eyes away from Jimin, and fixes them on JK instead. He shakes his head slowly. “Why wouldn’t…why didn’t you ever tell me any of this? About you working, or about you not coming back next year? Why didn’t you ever tell me you want to travel?”

“Because you wouldn’t have understood.”

And Jimin thought that Jungkook looked hurt before. But the hurt that had been on his face before is nothing at all compared to the hurt taking over it now.

“You know.” Jungkook says, his voice drained of all bite, drained of any resentment, drained of anything at all. He just sounds empty. “I’m more human than you seem to think I am.” 

No one seems to know what to say, because not another word is spoken. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing else that can be said in that moment. Maybe everything’s already been said, maybe all the damage has already been done, maybe there’s no possible way for things to hurt even more than they already do.

Jungkook doesn’t stick around, not that Jimin expected him to. He turns around and leaves just as suddenly as he came. Even though Jimin didn’t expect him to stay, his heart still drops when he watches him go.

Jimin can’t let him go.

The sound the of the door shutting behind Jungkook yanks Jimin out his stupor, only for him to be thrown into some other trance instead. He heads straight for the door that Jungkook just left through, not thinking about anything else besides him.

“Jimin." JK says quietly, and it's enough to make Jimin hesitate with his hand on the doorknob. “He won’t want to talk to you. He needs time to cool down.”

But Jimin can’t let Jungkook leave like that, he can’t let him go when he’s that upset, especially not when there’s this urge burning deep within him – an overwhelming urge to say he’s sorry. Even though Jimin isn’t totally sure if he did something wrong, and even though he doesn’t know if he should apologize, he feels like he has to. Then again, it's not like he ever lied to Jungkook. Is keeping secrets from someone the same as lying?

Jimin doesn’t even know, all he knows is that he needs to make this better. So despite JK’s advice, Jimin goes after Jungkook. He slips on his shoes, not bothering to put them on properly, running outside to chase after Jungkook.

The ground is dusted in a light layer of snow, and Jimin follows in Jungkook’s footprints. He doesn’t get very far though. Jungkook must hear him approaching, because Jimin doesn’t even get a chance to say Jungkook’s name before Jungkook is spinning around to face him.

“Jimin.” He warns, the flatness in his voice stopping Jimin dead in his tracks. “Don’t.” He holds up his hand, like he’s trying to keep Jimin at bay, even though Jimin is still so far from him. “I’m not mad at you, okay? I just want to be alone right now.”

But Jimin is desperate. “Jungkook, I–”

“Please.” Even from this distance, Jimin can see that Jungkook’s eyes are begging too. “Don’t.”

It’s then that Jimin realizes that he has to drop it. He knows he’ll only make things worse if he tries to push any further, and things are already so bad that he’s terrified for them to get any worse. Jimin doesn’t say anything back, and he doesn’t dare take another step towards Jungkook. And in the seconds that follow, when Jimin doesn’t talk and when Jimin doesn’t move, Jungkook shoves his hands into his pockets and continues on his way down the sidewalk.

Jimin still wants to go after him, but he forces himself to stay exactly where he is. Because going after him would be selfish, because Jungkook doesn’t want to talk to him, and Jimin just wants to talk to him so he can stop feeling so damn guilty.

When Jimin comes back inside, JK is still in the same spot he’d been standing in when Jimin ran out. He doesn’t look angry, though it’s difficult for Jimin to tell exactly what it is that he’s feeling at the moment.

JK exhales a soft sigh. “I’m sorry you got caught in the middle.” He rubs his eyes, pressing the heels of his hands into them. “I shouldn’t have made you keep secrets from him. That was stupid of me.”

“It’s…it’s okay.” Jimin murmurs, because it looks like JK could use the reassurance.

Honestly, Jimin doesn’t know if it had been wrong for JK to ask him to keep his secrets. He doesn’t know if it had been wrong for Jungkook to blow up the way he did. Maybe they’re both wrong, or maybe neither of them are in the wrong. He doesn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong, and he doesn’t know who’s right and who’s wrong. Maybe it’s him. Maybe he’s the one who’s wrong.

 

Chapter Text

“Jimin, please stop being all sad and pouty.” Taehyung begs, clasping his hands together in sheer desperation.

Jimin had been zoned out on the now cold cup of coffee sitting in front of him on the table, but when he hears Taehyung’s pleas, he forces himself to glance up. “I’m not all sad and pouty.” He mumbles, but the way his bottom lip sticks out says otherwise.

It’s not like he can help it– how is he supposed to put on a sunny smile when it’s been two whole days since he talked to Jungkook? The last time they spoke, Jungkook said that he wasn’t mad at him, and Jimin trusts Jungkook and doesn’t think he’s anything close to a liar, but still.

If Jungkook isn’t mad at him, then why hasn’t he tried to talk to Jimin since then? So far, Jimin has been respecting Jungkook, giving him his space like JK advised him to, but everything in Jimin is screaming at him to whip out his phone and text him – just to ask how he’s doing.

“You’re sulking as we speak.” Taehyung points out, crossing his arms over his chest. “And if you don’t stop sulking before the end of my break, then I’m going to be forced to stand up on this table and sing the explicit version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

“You’ll get fired.”

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Jimin smiles faintly at that, and Taehyung softens, speaking more seriously than jokingly now. “I get that you still feel guilty about the whole JK and Jungkook thing, but trust me. It’s not something you should feel guilty about.”

“But…” Jimin wants to believe Taehyung – he really does. He wants to believe that there’s no reason he should feel responsible for it, but he just can’t bring himself to. “But how do you know?”

Taehyung probably has enough on his mind with his job and with finals coming up, and he probably doesn’t want to spend the remainder of his break playing therapist, so Jimin does feel a little bad that he’s about to dump all of his problems on his friend. But he needs to talk to someone.

“Tae, I don’t know what to do anymore.” Jimin sighs, going back to staring into his cup. “Like, what if I’m coming between them? They already don’t have the best relationship with their parents, and now what if I’m making them fight? What if I’m causing problems for them?” He props his elbow up on the table, resting his cheek on his hand as worry grips his heart. “What if I’m not good for them?”

“Jimin.” Taehyung both speaks and smiles gently when Jimin lifts his head to look at him. “You know I love you to death, right?”

“I know”

“And you know I’d do anything for you, right?”

“I know.”

“Then please understand that when I say this, I’m only saying it with the best intentions.” Taehyung leans across the table, and before Jimin can even register what’s happening, he’s watching Taehyung reach out, and then he's getting flicked in the forehead. “Stop being a big ol’ dummy!”

Jimin isn’t offended– but he is surprised, finding himself unable to do much else besides silently blink at Taehyung. He’s not sure if he’s more surprised by Taehyung’s novel use of big ol’ dummy, the flick, or the absence of soothing words.

“Siblings fight all the time.” Settling back into his seat, Taehyung gives Jimin a pointed look. “You have a brother – don’t you guys ever fight?”

“I mean…” Feeling admonished, like a kid who’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Jimin hangs his head to look at his lap. “I guess we do sometimes.”

“Exactly. I know you feel like you caused their fight, but it’s not just about you, okay? I promise, it’s not your fault. You aren’t doing anything wrong.”

Jimin doesn’t know where he would be without Taehyung. No, he knows exactly where he’d be. He’d be in a state of panic – he’d be an anxious mess who worries about everything and anything. Without Taehyung, he wouldn’t have someone to pull him out of his own head, he wouldn't have someone to put things into perspective for him. It's not as if Jimin's worries have magically dissolved into nothing now, but already, he's starting to feel a bit better. Already, his shoulders have stopped sagging. 

What happened between JK and Jungkook wasn't because of him. It was so much bigger than that. 

“I guess you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. I’m Kim Taehyung. When have I ever led you astray?”

Raising his eyebrows, Jimin stares at Kim Taehyung. The man who has led him astray on more than one occasion. “What about that time you told me the party we were going to was a costume party, and then when I got there I was the only one dressed up?”

“Okay, so I’ve led you astray one time–”

“And what about the time you convinced me that one guy from the swim team wanted to get with me, so I spent two whole weeks making a fool of myself and flirting with him only to find out that he’s straight and has a girlfriend?”

“It was an honest mistake! Remember that one party we went to? He was staring at you like, the whole night. He couldn’t take his eyes off you.”

“Yeah, because I was the only one there wearing a costume!”

“Let’s stop dwelling in the past.”

Jimin is on a roll though. He sits up a little straighter, a smile easily finding its way to his face. “Or that time that you gave me a jalapeño saying it was a pickle and I almost died–”

“That’s your fault for eating a whole jalapeño in one bite.”

“You told me it was a pickle!”

“Okay, then that’s your fault for not knowing the difference between a jalapeño and a pickle.”

“No, if anything it was my fault for trusting–” Someone catches Jimin's eye, and he trails off, swallowing down the words he’d been ready to say. He goes completely silent when he notices that Jungkook is walking over to their table.

Their eyes meet, and Jungkook smiles a little timidly, hands shoved into his pockets as he heads over. Taehyung turns his head to see what Jimin is staring at, and when his eyes land on Jungkook, he doesn’t miss the opportunity that he’d been given.

“Well would you look at that.” Taehyung says abruptly, tapping the imaginary watch on his wrist. “I’d better get back to work.” He pushes his chair away from the table, nearly knocking it over in his rush to flee the scene, only sparing Jungkook a quick hey how’s it going on his way by.

Jungkook watches Taehyung scramble away, a faintly amused look on his face. When he turns back to Jimin, he points to the now unoccupied chair. “Is it okay if I sit here?”

Jimin nods, wide eyes glued to Jungkook’s face as he takes a seat. There’s something fluttering in his chest – maybe it’s hope, hope that they're about to move on from what happened and not let it affect them. Or maybe it’s excitement. Excitement from just getting to see Jungkook, because he’d really missed him.

“I’m sorry about the other day.” Jungkook is straightforward, cutting straight to the chase, and Jimin couldn’t be more thankful for that. It's a bit anticlimactic considering Jimin spent two whole days worrying over it, but he's not about to complain. “And I want you to know that I’m not mad at you.” Shaking his head, Jungkook lets out a regretful sigh. “I’m not mad at you at all, Jimin.”

While Taehyung’s advice and assurance had been comforting in its own way, hearing Jungkook say all that offers Jimin an even greater sense of relief.

“And if I’m being completely honest,” Jungkook continues, “I wasn’t even that mad at JK. I was more mad at myself than I was at anyone else.”

“Really?” Jimin murmurs with a frown. He fiddles with a napkin on the table, confused about why Jungkook would be mad at himself ,of all people. “Why?”  

“JK is my brother.” Jungkook shrugs, like that alone is enough of an explanation. “I always thought that I knew him so well. I always thought we had a good relationship, I always assumed that he felt like he could tell me everything.” Hesitating, Jungkook glances off to the side. He clears his throat before going on. “But I guess I was wrong. I’m not mad that he’s not coming back to school after next semester, and I’m not mad about him wanting to travel.”

Jimin believes him, knows that Jungkook is being sincere, can see it in his eyes even though Jungkook seems a little hesitant to keep eye contact for too long.

“I just want him to be happy.” Jungkook says. “And if he’s going to be happy dropping out of school, and doing his own thing, then I’m glad that he’s going to do it. I just wish he didn’t feel like I wouldn’t understand. I wish he felt like he could tell me about it.”

Jimin doesn’t even know why JK didn’t want to tell Jungkook everything. JK said Jungkook wouldn't understand, but Jimin doesn't know why he would think that in the first place. Sure, he has his own ideas about why JK kept so much hidden from his brother, but right now it’s just speculation, and Jimin doesn’t want to speak on behalf of someone else. So he keeps his mouth shut about it for now.

He runs his thumb along the rim of his cup, sliding it back and forth as he watches Jungkook. Jimin doesn’t feel any tension between himself and Jungkook, but he wonders how things are faring with Jungkook and JK. “Have you guys talked yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“But you will talk eventually, right?” There’s hopefulness bleeding into Jimin’s words, underlying his fear that the twins are now going to be sworn enemies for the rest of their lives. It’s an irrational fear, and Jimin knows that, but still.

He just wants things to be okay with them, not just because he doesn’t want to be caught in the middle of it, but because he genuinely cares about them.

“Eventually.” Jungkook says. “I just think that we both need more time before that happens.”

“Okay.” Jimin is more than satisfied with that answer, happy to know that they’ll work through it in their own way. Of course, he hopes they’ll work through it sooner rather than later, but he’ll keep that to himself for now. There's something else that he needs to ask Jungkook about anyway.

After taking a moment to work up his courage, Jimin tests out the waters by delicately nudging Jungkook’s foot underneath the table. “Hey." Jimin starts out softly, almost cautiously. "You're still coming over for dinner on Christmas, right?”

Jungkook smiles. "If you still want me to.” When he nudges his foot back, Jimin’s heart skitters in his chest.

“I do. I really want you to.”

“Then I’ll be there.”

---

When the semester finally finishes, Jimin is happy to be done with the late nights of caffeine fueled studying, he’s glad to be through with exams, but most of his excitement stems from the fact that Jungkook is going to be coming over.

By the time Christmas day rolls around, Jimin has already been back at home in Busan for almost a whole week. During his time at home, he had a chance to catch up with some old friends, and to spend time with his parents and brother – and the time he spends with his friends and family is time well spent.

He sort of feels like all of that stuff had been leading up to today, though. Jungkook is supposed to be driving down that morning, and for some reason, Jimin likes the idea of Jungkook driving all the way out to Busan to see him. He likes the idea of Jungkook driving in general. Jungkook doesn’t drive when he’s going to school, because it’s usually easier for him to take public transit. Not only that, but in typical modest Jungkook fashion, he doesn’t like all the attention that his fancy car gets him, which is why he always chooses to take the bus. 

But today, Jungkook is going to be driving, and Jimin is going to get to see him, and he's more than a little eager. 

Jimin had woken up early today– far too early for someone who’s on break, but he’d been too excited to sleep in. It's later that morning, when Jimin is just about to change his bedding so that Jungkook has clean sheets to sleep on, that his phone starts ringing. He glances at it to see Jungkook’s name displayed across the screen, and Jimin's excitement skyrockets, dropping the laundry basket on the floor, choosing to answer the call instead. 

“Hi.” Jimin says, flopping down onto his bed. He already feels like he’s about to giggle for no particular reason.

“Hi.” Jungkook replies, sounding a little flustered on the other end of the phone.

Jimin smiles, amused by Jungkook’s slightly awkward greeting. “Hi.” He says again, rolling onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. “Everything okay? Have you left yet? Need me to send you the address again?”

“No. No, I’ve got the address. It’s just that I’m–” Jungkook cuts himself off, and Jimin hears a door sliding open. There's silence on the other end of the line for a few seconds before Jungkook asks: “What are you wearing?”

Jimin snickers, unable to stop himself from getting a bit of teasing in. “Didn’t know this was gonna be that kind of phone call.”

“Jimin,” Jungkook sounds breathless, like he’s trying not to laugh himself. “I’m serious. What am I supposed to wear? Should I dress up?”

“You don’t have to.” Jimin lightly swings his feet, legs dangling off the end of his bed. “I’m just gonna be wearing jeans and a shirt.”

“Okay, I can do that.” There’s a brief pause. “So,” Jungkook stalls, like he’s trying to work up the nerve to ask his next question. “A button-up shirt?”

“If you must know exactly what I’m going to be wearing, it’s a t-shirt with a cardigan over it. And jeans.” Having Jungkook fret over what to wear to his family dinner is something that Jimin finds incredibly endearing. “But you know, if you wanna wear a button up, you’re more than welcome to. Just wear what you want. My family is super easy-going, and they’re gonna love you. Even if you show up at the door wearing a hot pink fuzzy onesie.”

“That was strangely comforting.”

“It’s what I’m here for.” Jimin hums, though his playfulness doesn’t last for long. He debates silently with himself about whether or not he should ask his next question, and in the end, he decides there’s no harm in simply asking. “Hey, have you and JK talked?”

Jimin hung out with JK before he left to Busan, but they never talked about Jungkook, or about the fight. Even though Jimin wants so badly for them to make up, he doesn’t want to tell either of them what they should or shouldn’t do. When they make up, he wants it to be on their own terms, without any outside influence.

“No,” Jungkook says. “Not yet.”

“Alright.” There’s not much else to say on the matter. Because again, Jimin isn’t about to interfere with their business.

“Anyway, I’d better go. I’m gonna leave pretty soon.”

“Sounds good – drive safe. And try not to worry too much.”

Jungkook chuckles. “I’ll try not to. See you soon.”

 

It’s mid-afternoon, and Jimin’s mom has been busy cooking and prepping for their dinner for a while now. She bustles around in the kitchen while his dad sits at the table reading the newspaper. Jimin’s older brother is spending the day with his girlfriend’s family, but he’s supposed to be coming over later, closer to dinnertime.

Everyone is off doing their own thing. Jimin’s own thing happens to be aimlessly wandering around the house, looking out the front window every five minutes. His dad even comments on it, saying he’s going to wear a hole in the floor if he keeps it up, but it doesn’t stop Jimin’s pacing. The only thing that stops it is the sound of the doorbell.

Hearing the doorbell finally ring after what feels like an eternity of waiting has Jimin nearly falling flat on his face in his rush to answer the door. His socks have no traction, and he slips and slides across the hardwood, but he doesn’t have any concern for his safety right now.

Apparently, Jimin doesn’t care about the door either. He unceremoniously flings it open to find a wide-eyed Jungkook standing on the other side of it, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

“Hi.” Jungkook breathes out, eyes reverting back to their normal size when he sees that it’s Jimin who'd answered the door.

Jimin doesn’t know why he laughs at that, but he does. “Hi.” He steps to the side, ushering Jungkook in and out of the cold.

“I brought wine.” Jungkook steps inside, holding the two bottles in his hands up a bit higher for emphasis.

Jimin isn’t a wine connoisseur by any means – all he can tell is that one is a white wine and the other a red – but to his untrained eyes, it looks like it’s pretty fancy stuff.

“I told you not to bring anything.” Jimin says, not at all in a scolding way. He had a feeling that Jungkook would bring something anyway.

Jimin takes the wine off Jungkook’s hands so that he can take off his jacket. He watches Jungkook shrug it off to reveal that he’s dressed quite simply underneath. He’s got on a black pair of jeans and a red long-sleeved shirt, and Jimin can’t help but think that he looks good, but then again, he would’ve looked good in whatever he chose to wear.

As he waits for Jungkook to slip off his shoes, Jimin smiles to himself, and is reminded of the day he first met Jungkook– when he brought over all that vodka to his dorm for him and Taehyung.

It seems like it happened so long ago, but in reality, only one semester has passed them by. When Jimin first met Jungkook, he thought that he was nice, and he wanted to be his friend, but he had no idea they would get to the point where they'd be doing this.

Funny that now, Jungkook is such an important person in his life. And now, Jungkook is here in the house he grew up in, and he's about to introduce him to his parents. It's funny how fast things change.

What’s even more amusing is perhaps how flushed Jungkook is at the moment, because even though it may be cold outside, Jungkook hadn’t been out there long enough for his cheeks to develop a permanent pink tint. Jungkook is nervous to meet his family, that much is obvious, but he really has nothing to be nervous about.

If Jimin wanted to, he could spend a couple minutes standing at the door with Jungkook, trying to calm him down, offering words of encouragement to him. But Jimin feels like that would be a waste of time. It’s best to just dive straight in.

“Mom!" Jimin calls out. "Jungkook brought us wine!” He bounces on the balls of his feet as he leads Jungkook further inside.

They don’t even make it to the kitchen – Jimin’s mom is rushing out to welcome their guest before they can take more than a few steps.

She wipes her hands on the apron around her waist, smiling warmly when her eyes land on Jungkook. “Oh, you didn’t have to do that. That was very sweet of you.” 

Jimin’s heart nearly melts when he sees the shy little smile quirking Jungkook’s lips.

“Thanks for letting me come over.” Jungkook says, bowing politely. He’s too cute. Jimin wants to reach over and pinch his cheeks. “I really appreciate it.”

“It’s no trouble at all. And don’t you worry,” she reaches out to Jimin, taking both bottles of wine from him, “we’ll put this to good use.” After sparing Jungkook one last smile, she slips away, disappearing into the kitchen.

Again, if Jimin wanted to, he could pull Jungkook to the side and see how he's doing, give him a bit of a pep talk, but again, Jimin doesn't do that. He doesn't need to, and maybe Jungkook doesn't know that right now, but he will in a minute after he's done with the introductions and realizes he had no reason to be nervous. 

Jimin leads Jungkook over to the table where his dad is, and he doesn’t miss the way that Jungkook’s nerves seem to spike, doesn’t miss the way his movements seem just a little tighter now. It’s understandable, though.

Even though his dad is laid back and friendly, he doesn’t smile as readily as his mom does. For someone who doesn’t know him that well, it can be a little hard to gauge what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling sometimes. But Jimin knows everything will be fine. 

“Dad,” Jimin waits for him to look up from his paper before motioning to Jungkook. “This is Jungkook.”

Jungkook nods to him, and doesn’t hesitate to accept the handshake when it's offered to him. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Park.”

Jimin’s father doesn’t speak right away. But when he takes a moment of silence after shaking Jungkook’s hand, there’s a faint smile edging his lips. “This one’s got a good handshake on him.” He says, wagging his finger in Jungkook’s direction. After a single, firm nod of his head, he adds, “good man.”

From the corner of his eye, Jimin can see the way that Jungkook’s shoulders relax, like all of his nervousness had just evaporated into the air. And Jimin doesn’t think there’s ever been a time in his life where he’s wanted to reach over and smoosh someone’s cheeks as much as he wants to right now.

Everything seems to be happening quickly, all in a flurry, and Jimin hopes that Jungkook isn’t too overwhelmed by it. But there’s just so much enthusiasm bubbling up in Jimin that even he feels rushed (not that he knows what he’s rushing towards). He just feels like there's so much to do with Jungkook here now.

Jimin's mother makes a reappearance right then, carrying two glasses of wine with her. She had chosen to open the white wine first, and hands one glass to her husband and the other to Jungkook.

“Jimin,” she says, “you’ll have to come to the kitchen for your glass. Sorry, but I only have two hands you know.”

Funnily enough, the kitchen seems like the perfect place to be at the moment.

“It’s okay.” Jimin assures. He turns to Jungkook, flashing him a meaningful smile. “I was planning on ending up there anyway. Me and Jungkook can help you get dinner ready.”

The way that Jungkook’s eyes brighten with childlike excitement doesn’t go unnoticed by Jimin.

His mother, on the other hand, scoffs.

“Nonsense.” She waves the idea away, already making her way back to the kitchen. Jimin tails her, and Jungkook isn’t far behind.  “I never get to cook for you anymore. You boys should sit down. You work so hard at school, you should enjoy resting while you can.”

Jimin is stubborn. He gets that from his mother. And it doesn’t always work out this way, but this time, his own stubbornness ends up winning out.

He and Jungkook win the honour of getting to help out in the kitchen.

She hasn’t started on the soup just yet, so his mom leaves Jimin and Jungkook in charge of cutting up the rice cakes and vegetables for it. It’s an easy job, maybe even a little boring to some people, but Jimin has always loved helping his mom out in the kitchen, and it’s even better when he has Jungkook working next to him. 

Vegetables aren’t particularly funny in any way, but for some reason, today Jimin finds himself prone to giggling as he cuts them. It’s probably a little dangerous for him and Jungkook to fool around so much when they both have sharp objects in their hands, but the last thing on Jimin’s mind right now is kitchen safety.

“You call that cutting?” Jimin scrunches up his nose as he eyes Jungkook’s side of the cutting board, acting as if he’s seriously insulted by his craftsmanship. “Weak.”

My cutting is weak? Look at yours.” Jungkook dishes back, and he’s about as good at hiding his smile as Jimin is. “All your slices are different sizes. No consistency at all.” Picking up the onion from the cutting board, he teasingly waves it in front of Jimin’s face. “And at least can cut this. I’m versatile. You, on the other hand… not so much”

Jimin narrows his eyes at both Jungkook and the offending onion. “Low, Jungkook. That was low.” He reaches into the bowl in front of him to grab a couple slices of rice cake. The second that he pops them into his mouth, he hears his mother’s voice over the sound of all the pots simmering and boiling on the stove.

“Park Jimin.” She says. “Are you eating all my rice cakes?”

“No, mom.” Jimin lies predictably, his words mumbled around his mouthful. He doesn’t understand how she always knows.

Beside him, Jungkook is tipping his head back to look up at the ceiling, struggling to laugh quietly. Jimin narrows his eyes at him, taking a rice cake slice and trying to force it into his mouth. It turns into a rather childish battle between them, shoving rice cakes into each other’s faces like they’re trying to get the other into trouble by making them eat food they aren’t supposed to be eating.

They end up getting kicked out of the kitchen.

Jimin’s mom shoos them out when they start doing more playing than cutting, and she assigns Jimin a new task instead, telling him to go show Jungkook where he’ll be sleeping for the night.

Jungkook goes out to his car to bring his bag in, and Jimin takes it off his hands, bringing it to his room for him. Since Jungkook is only staying for one night, he’d packed light, and his bag is easy to carry. Naturally, that doesn’t stop Jungkook from insisting on carrying it himself, and naturally, Jimin doesn’t pay any attention to his offer.

Jimin also doesn’t pay much attention to Jungkook’s reluctance when it comes to sleeping in his room.

“But..." Jungkook murmurs, looking around the bedroom with a frown. “Isn't this your room? I can’t sleep here. Where will you sleep?”

Jimin rolls his eyes, though he feels more fond than annoyed. “You’re sleeping here.” He sets Jungkook’s bag down next to the bed with an air of finality. “And I’m sleeping on the couch in the living room. I’ll be fine.”

“But–”

“Besides,” Jimin cuts him off. He takes back his glass of wine, which he’d given to Jungkook to hold while he carried his bag for him. “My mom wouldn’t be very happy if she found you sleeping anywhere else. Don’t do it for me. Do it for my mom.”

Jungkook sighs, and Jimin knows he’d won. Playing the mom card is a surefire way to win. “Fine. But only for your mom.” Jungkook stares into his half-finished wine glass for a moment, looking a little thoughtful before lifting it to his lips to take a sip.

“So,” Jimin hums, sitting himself down on the edge of his bed. He pats the space beside him, pleased when Jungkook takes the hint and sits next to him. “How do you feel? You still nervous?”

Jungkook shakes his head. “Honestly, not really. Your parents are…” He trails off, like he can’t quite find the right words to say. A moment later, he’s showing off a smile, seeming to have thought of something suitable to respond with. “They’re really sweet. I can see why you are the way that you are.”

“Yeah?” Jimin flutters his lashes, lips curling into something playful. “Are you calling me sweet?”

“Implicitly?" Jungkook raises his eyebrows, voice lilting teasingly. "Yes."

Jimin thinks the wine might be getting to him, because he suddenly feels giddier than he’d felt before. “And what about explicitly?”

“Do you want me to be explicit?”

“I wouldn’t be opposed to it.”

“Fine, then.” There’s a light pink blush creeping higher onto Jungkook’s cheeks, but Jimin doesn’t think it’s anything compared to how flushed his own face must be right now. He feels like he’s burning up when Jungkook’s eyes do a slow sweep over his face. “You’re sweet, Jimin.”

It’s too hot in his room. It’s so hot that Jimin is seriously considering taking off his cardigan, but he doesn’t do that, because right now he feels like keeping all of his clothes on his body is of the utmost importance.

Instead of taking off his clothes, Jimin jumps to his feet. Somehow, he manages to keep his wine from sloshing out the side of his glass. “Come on, we should get back out there.” Jimin is talking too fast, but it’s understandable, because his heart’s beating too fast too. “They’ll probably wonder what’s taking us so long.”

Which is a lie, because Jimin’s mom is busy in the kitchen and she’s not going to be thinking about where they are or what they’re doing, and Jimin’s dad won’t pay any mind to their absence at all.

Jimin is already halfway to the door though, and if Jungkook thinks that Jimin’s behaviour is strange, he doesn’t comment on it. He simply stands up and follows Jimin out of his room.

They don’t get more than a few steps into the hall before Jimin is forced to come to a stop when he feels Jungkook grabbing onto his arm. When he turns to see what the problem is, he’s met with an intense stare form Jungkook. He looks serious – a little too serious.

“Jimin.” Jungkook whispers, keeping his voice low like he’s afraid someone will overhear. The way his mouth is downturned into a frown only adds to his suddenly grim disposition. “I think I’m drunk.”

“Drunk?” Jimin repeats. Jungkook hasn’t even had a full glass of wine yet. Pressing his lips together, Jimin tries not to let his amusement show.

“I didn’t feel it when we were sitting down in your room, but now that we’re walking, I think I kind of feel it. And I know I haven’t had that much, but I didn’t really eat anything today because I wanted to save room for dinner, and you know I don’t really drink that often–”

The soft laughter bubbling up from Jimin's chest stops Jungkook short. He thought that Jungkook couldn’t get any cuter, but he’d been so very wrong.  “Don’t worry about it – I can’t even tell. And it’ll wear off when we eat dinner and you get some food in you.”

“But what if I say something embarrassing in front of your parents?”

“You won’t. And you don’t even have to talk if you’re scared you’ll say something weird.”

“I can’t just not talk. They’ll think I’m rude.”

Jungkook already proved himself to be more than polite, and Jimin knows his parents won’t think he’s rude. But he also knows that Jungkook doesn’t feel fully confident or comfortable at the moment, and Jungkook’s comfort is the most important thing right now.

“I’ll tell you what. Let’s go sit with my dad, and you can just listen to us talk. He usually doesn't say much either, he won’t think it’s weird if you’re a little quiet too. I can talk enough for all three of us.”

“Okay." Jungkook nods determinedly. "Okay, I can do that.”

They sit down at the table with his dad just like Jimin promised, and just like Jimin promised, he makes sure to do all the talking for Jungkook. It’s like that for a little while, until Jungkook finds the courage to start talking himself, perhaps realizing that the wine hadn’t gotten to him as much as he thought.

At one point during the conversation, Jimin finds himself tuning out of it completely, because Jungkook and his dad are talking about the stock market (something that Jimin has no interest or real knowledge in), and he has better things to think about. Like how serious Jungkook looks when he’s talking about stocks. And when dinner is going to be ready, because the smells coming from the kitchen are heavenly, and his mouth is practically watering as he fantasizes about all the food he’s going to eat.

The sound of the front door opening is what ultimately reels Jimin back to the present. A couple seconds after he hears it, his brother Jihyun steps into the room.

Jihyun had been home just a couple days ago, but his mom is still rushing to greet him as if it’s his first time stepping foot into the house since the holidays started. She comes out from the kitchen and goes to smother him in a hug, asking how his girlfriend is doing and how her family is doing, and his dad greets him from his chair.

Everyone in the room is smiling – even Jungkook. Jimin watches him from the corner of his eye, noticing the gentle curve of his mouth as he quietly takes in the sight before him. Maybe Jimin should take it easy with the wine too. He’s starting to feel a little warm again.

“Jimin, hey." Jihyun grins at him as he approaches the table, finally getting a chance to properly address Jimin when things have settled down. Jihyun stops when he’s standing directly across from where Jimin is sitting, and even though his eyes are on Jimin, he’s pointing at Jungkook. “Boyfriend?”

Jimin suddenly forgets how to properly drink wine, and ends up snorting it up his nose. Wine isn’t meant to be snorted. It stings.

“Friend.” Jungkook is quick to correct. He chuckles, and Jimin isn’t sure if he's doing it out of awkwardness, or because of the way Jimin is wiping wine off the tip of his nose with his sleeve. “We go to school together – I’m Jungkook.” He adds before standing up to properly introduce himself.

After they say their hellos, Jihyun heads for the kitchen, and Jimin is able to breathe a bit easier. Despite the mild embarrassment that his brother’s wrongful assumption had caused, Jimin is quick to get over it, and is soon falling back into a state of simple contentment.

He has his family and he has Jungkook, and Christmas hasn’t ever felt quite this special, and when Jimin glances over at Jungkook's smiling face, he has a feeling that Jungkook thinks it’s pretty special too.

“Park Jihyun!” His mother’s voice is sudden and shrill, making everyone at the table whip their heads in the direction of the kitchen. “Get your hands out of there – it’s not ready yet.”

Seconds later, an extremely smug looking Jihyun steps out of the kitchen. He has a glass of wine in his hand, and his mouth full of something, cheek bulging as he chews.

And even with Jungkook there, everything feels so familiar. It feels like home hasn’t changed at all.  

Dinner is Jimin’s favorite part of the night – so far, at least. Jungkook eats his food like he’s never tasted anything so good in his life. He compliments Jimin’s mother so much that she’s practically beaming underneath the light of all of his praise. Whenever Jungkook’s plate looks like it’s lacking, she urges him to eat more, telling him that there’s lots left and he doesn’t need to be shy.

Besides that, Jungkook doesn’t seem like he’s a guest in their house. He blends right in with them, joining in the easy conversation they share, talking when he feels like he has something to add to it. It’s not like there’s some spotlight on Jungkook, no one feels compelled to drill him with questions, and Jimin is glad for that. He’s glad that everyone can just sit and talk comfortably.

At the end of the meal, Jungkook thanks not just his mother, but everyone for having him over. Jimin won’t ever get over how polite Jungkook is. He has a feeling his family won’t either. They’ll probably be talking about him and his manners for the rest of the time that Jimin is home for.

Not that he’d blame them if they did.

“You’re very welcome.” Jimin’s mother says to Jungkook, her eyes sparking with something resembling mischief. “And it was nice to have help in the kitchen. Maybe you can teach Jimin a thing or two.”

Scandalized, Jimin lets out a gasp. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

His mom reaches over, gently touching his arm as if to soothe whatever pain she’s about to inflict. “Let’s just say I could tell who cut what.”

“My cutting skills are perfectly fine!” Jimin defends, feeling even more indignant when he hears Jungkook trying and then failing to disguise his laughter with a cough. Jimin will never live this down. His mom just gave Jungkook a life time’s worth of ammunition.

“Of course, dear.” She hums absently, her attention having shifted to Jungkook instead. “Jungkook, you’re welcome here any time.” Jimin’s dad nods in silent agreement – silent approval– and Jihyun seems to share the same opinion.

“Yeah, you can come any time.” Jihyun says. “As long as you bring more wine with you.” He jokes, smiling good-naturedly before taking a sip from his glass.

When Jimin looks over at Jungkook, he’s shyly looking down at his empty plate, but he’s glowing. He wishes Jungkook could stay for more than just one night. 

After supper, Jimin’s parents head to the living room to relax, while he hangs back in the kitchen with Jungkook and Jihyun to do the dishes. Even dish washing proves to be an adventure when he’s with Jungkook.

Jimin and Jungkook fling bubbles at each other, standing so close that they bump hips regularly, and giggling so much as they try to keep most of the water in the sink. Jihyun is in charge of drying the dishes and then putting them away, and every time Jimin hands him something, he earns an eyebrow raise and a knowing glance from his brother.

Jimin only rolls his eyes at him. He knows that when Jungkook leaves tomorrow, he’s going to be getting his fair share of teasing from Jihyun, but he's already had practice getting it from Taehyung, so maybe it won’t be that bad.

When the dishes are done, the three of them join his parents in the living room, where a fire has already been lit, where the couch space is severely lacking, and where warmth is easy to find. It's a little crowded, but Jimin wouldn’t trade their cramped little living room for anything. The rest of the night passes them by in a perfectly peaceful way, full of lighthearted conversation.

Jimin’s parents are the first ones to head to bed when it starts getting a little late. His dad starts nodding off in his chair, and his mom says that she’s tired too, and she’d better put him to bed. Jihyun only stays up for another hour or so after that before he taps out and heads to bed himself, leaving Jimin and Jungkook alone.

If Jimin is being honest, he’s probably tired enough to retire for the night too, but he’s not about to go to bed any time soon. He wants to stay up with Jungkook.

Now that they’re alone, the house seems so strangely quiet, though neither of them are rushing to fill in the lapse in conversation. They don't talk for a while. 

At some point, they’ve moved to sit on the floor, sitting with their backs resting against the couch so that they can bring themselves closer to the warmth of the fireplace. Jimin brings his knees up to his chest, arms loosely wrapped around his legs as he stares into the glowing embers in front of him.

Beside him, Jungkook is cradling his mug with both hands. There isn’t any tea in it anymore, he’d finished it off a while ago, but he’s still holding that cup in his lap, seemingly preoccupied at the moment. Jimin glances over at him, idly watching, watching the way that Jungkook’s eyes flicker as they catch the fading light of the fire.

Jungkook almost looks like he’s mesmerized by it. It bathes his face in a subtle orange glow, making his skin look so soft and smooth. Jimin is almost tempted to reach out and stroke a finger over his cheek, but he doesn't. Instead, he leans over to nudge him. It’s not that Jimin minds the quiet, but he’d much rather listen to the sound of Jungkook’s voice right now.

“Did you have a good time?” Jimin asks, knowing that it’s a bit of a redundant question, but wanting to ask it all the same.

“Are you kidding?” Jungkook turns to him, laughing softly, and Jimin thinks he hears a hint of incredulity in it. “Do you even have to ask?”

“No. I just want you to tell me that you had a good time. And that you’re happy.” Jimin says, unabashed. Jungkook should know that he wants him to be happy, he should know that Jimin thinks that he deserves to be happy.

“Well I had a good time. And I’m happy. And I’m not just saying that because you want me to." Jungkook says, glancing down into his empty cup. He smiles, finally setting it on the floor. "I honestly don’t remember a time where I’ve felt like this before."

Jimin shifts, hugging himself just a little tighter. He doesn't think he's ever felt this way either. “I know you didn’t say that just to make me happy. But it made me happy anyway.”

Jungkook opens his mouth, looking like he’s about to say something else, but he’s interrupted by the sound of his own phone buzzing. His eyes go wide when he pulls it from his pocket. 

“It’s JK.” Jungkook murmurs. He snaps his head up to look at Jimin, and then back down to his phone that’s still vibrating in his hand, then back up to Jimin. “Is it okay if I–”

“Yes,” Jimin nods with an eagerness that he doesn’t bother to hide. “Go ahead– take it.”

With Jimin’s encouragement, Jungkook scrambles to his feet. He heads straight for the front door so he can talk outside, probably being mindful about the fact that it’s a small house, and everyone else in it is asleep.

Jimin didn’t think the night could get any better, but now he’s watching Jungkook hastily slip on his jacket and shoes before disappearing out the door to answer a call from JK, and everything just got a little more perfect.

He doesn't have to wait very long before Jungkook comes back in, which is a good thing, because Jimin can be impatient at the best of times, and he's more than curious about how the phone call went. Judging from the look on Jungkook's face, it had gone well.

Jungkook's cheeks are all rosy just like the tip of his nose, and there’s a spark in his eyes that hadn’t been there before, and a certain mellowness in him when he joins Jimin by the fire again. “That was JK.” Jungkook says once he’d settled back down, apparently forgetting that Jimin already knew who it had been on the phone.

Jimin hums, a mixture of acknowledgment and amusement. “Yeah?”

“He called to say Merry Christmas.”

“Everything okay?” Jimin asks, voice small, but full of hopefulness.

Jungkook nods his head slowly. “It’s getting there. It’s definitely getting there.”

And that’s good enough for Jimin. One phone call isn’t going to fix everything – they probably have a lot more to talk about, but at least it’s a start. He can tell how much that phone call meant to Jungkook.

“You know, I still feel bad that you thought I was mad at you.” Jungkook says suddenly. The corner of his mouth quirks upwards, which is something Jimin didn’t expect to see considering the topic of conversation they're on now. “But Jimin,” Jungkook breathes out a little laugh. “I honestly don’t think that I could ever be mad at you.”

And that was equally as unexpected. There must be something about the waning light of a fire that coaxes out a person’s sentimentality, because Jimin isn’t sure what else would have triggered Jungkook’s sudden confession. Jimin blinks once, twice, then settles for rolling his eyes instead. The amused snort he lets out makes it clear that he doesn’t feel annoyed, though. Just unconvinced. Maybe a little overwhelmed too.

“I’m serious.” Jungkook is adamant. “I don’t think you realize how good of a person you actually are.”

“Jungkook…” Jimin is at a loss. “I’m really not that great.” He has no idea how to handle the surge of warmth flooding through him. And yes, the warmth he gets from those words is undeniable, but the fear that he feels is just as impossible to ignore as that warmth.

He's afraid. He really doesn't think he's as good as Jungkook is making him out to be, and he doesn’t want Jungkook to think of him like that. He’s scared that if Jungkook thinks that highly of him, then he’ll only end up letting him down somewhere along the way. It’s too much pressure.

“You are.” Jungkook insists. “You aren’t like anyone I’ve ever met before.”

“Okay, Jungkook.” It’s said to appease him, and it’s said in a tone that makes it clear that Jimin isn't keen on talking about it anymore.

Jungkook must understand, because he doesn’t press any further.

They don’t talk for a while after that, but it’s not awkward. They just sit there staring into the dying light of the fire. Every now and then it crackles, filling in the silence, and Jimin could get up and stoke it if he wanted to, but he’s so comfortable where he is right now that he doesn’t want to move.

It isn’t long before his eyelids start to grow heavy. He still doesn’t want to get up, though. He doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to stay exactly where he is. Jimin leans over, his head finding Jungkook’s shoulder, and he lets it lay there. He’s fighting against fatigue, fighting to keep his eyes open, but it’s a losing battle.

“Are you tired?” Jungkook asks gently, his voice sounding so low from where Jimin is, his head so close to his chest.

“No.” Jimin murmurs. His eyes are already slipping shut. “Are you?” A second later, he feels Jungkook’s cheek resting against the top of his head.

“No.”

They both turn out to be liars when they fall asleep right there in front of the fire, only a few minutes later.

---

When Jungkook leaves the following afternoon, Jimin is disappointed and he doesn’t try to hide it. He tells Jungkook that he can stay another night if he wants, and Jungkook declines, which honestly isn’t surprising. Jungkook says he didn’t bring enough clothes to stay another night, but Jimin knows he just doesn’t want to be a nuisance – which he wouldn’t be if he did stay.

Jungkook is just so polite, always thinking about other people and never wanting to cause trouble. Maybe he's polite to a fault, but if it is a fault, then it’s a fault that Jimin loves about him. No one else is like Jungkook in that regard. It makes him unique. 

It’s not like Jimin has to wait that long before he sees Jungkook next – the new semester will be starting soon, and he’ll be back in Seoul before he knows it. Not that that stops him from missing Jungkook.

 

It’s a few days later when Jimin’s mood takes a turn for the better. It happens unexpectedly, but the best kind of happiness is often the happiness that you don’t see coming.

It’s a perfectly mundane day. Jimin is at the grocery store picking up a few things for his mom when he gets a text from JK. 

 

[Jimin, JK]

JK: When are you coming back to Seoul?

JK: I haven’t seen you in so long. I forget what you look like

Jimin: It hasn’t even been that long!

Jimin: You’re just saying that because you want me to send you a pic

JK: No

JK: But if you’re offering…

Jimin: Hah no. And I’m leaving for Seoul in a few days

JK: Idk if I can wait that long. I’m suffering withdrawals

Jimin: You’re so dramatic

JK: And you’re heartless

JK: Oh ya, and I know we planned on ice skating, but how do you feel about going sledding instead?

Jimin: Are you kidding me?!?

Jimin: I haven’t been sledding since I was a kid. I’m so down

JK: That’s what I like to hear

 

Jimin catches his lower lip between his teeth in a useless attempt to hide his smile, but he has to at least try to do something about it, because he’s in public right now – in the produce section of the grocery store – and he’s definitely in danger of getting some weird looks from strangers. It might look a little odd if he’s grinning while feeling up a cucumber.

But he gets to see JK soon, and no matter how hard he tries, Jimin just can’t hide that smile of his. Months ago, he would’ve been smiling over the idea of not having to see JK. Now, Jimin is looking forward to seeing him and his mess of wavy hair, and he's looking forward to seeing that lopsided smile of his, and he's even looking forward to hearing his voice. He’d really missed him.

Funny how fast things can change.

 

Chapter Text

When Jimin lays eyes on JK for the first time since getting back from Busan, there's a grin taking over the entirety of JK’s face. He’s leaning against the fence, standing near the bus stop waiting for Jimin, who had walked there from the dorms.

Seeing JK grin at him like that does something funny to Jimin, and it has him picking up his pace, taking short but quick steps as he hurries down the sidewalk to get to him, careful not to slip on any ice that might be hidden underneath the snow sprinkled ground.

Jimin had spent the whole trip from Busan to Seoul thinking about today. He’s looking forward to having a carefree day with JK before he has to dive back into his studies when the new semester starts up.

JK’s grin tells Jimin that he’s just as excited as he is.

“Wow.” JK says when Jimin finally comes to a stop in front of him. His eyes do a quick sweep over Jimin before he tilts his head to the side. “You’re different from how I remember you,” he adds as if they’d been away from each other for years, and Jimin rolls his eyes at him. “Thought you used to be taller.”

And now, Jimin is narrowing his eyes at him.

“Funny.” Jimin cakes on a smile that’s a little too sweet, and speaks with an equally syrupy tone. “Because you’re exactly how I remember you.”

JK laughs, and at the sound of it, Jimin finds his artificial smile turning into something more authentic.

While JK’s behaviour is exactly how Jimin remembers it to be, the more he looks at him, he can tell that JK’s appearance has changed just a bit. They haven’t been away from each other for more than a few weeks, but JK’s hair has gotten noticeably longer, and it looks like it’s even more of a hassle to tame than it was before. But it still looks good, still suits him. 

Other than JK’s hair, he’s exactly the same. His eyes are still home to that ever-present playful glimmer, and his smile still turns a little crooked when it gets too big. It’s not that Jimin expected him to change, but it’s still comforting to see him exactly as he is.

“So,” JK says, lightly kicking the sled sitting on the ground at his feet. “You ready to have the best sledding session of your life?”

Jimin arches an eyebrow. For some reason, that question felt like a challenge– it's like JK is challenging him to have fun. One thing about Jimin is that he has a hard time backing down from challenges. Especially when they involve JK.

“Am ready?” Jimin points a mittened hand at himself, as if there was any doubt who JK had been addressing. “The real question is are you ready?”

“Jimin.” JK scoffs, breath puffing out of his mouth and forming a cloud in the cold air. “I was born ready.”

“Yeah?” Jimin hums innocuously, while at the same time giving off the impression that he’s a force to be reckoned with. “Bet you that I’m gonna have more fun than you.”

“Not a chance.”

Folding his arms over his chest, Jimin stands up a little straighter, as if his change in stature will make his words more believable. “I’m a pro at having fun.”

“Big words for someone who finds enjoyment in writing essays.”

“Hey!” Jimin is the first one to break character. “Essays can be fun– it depends on the topic.”

The smile on JK’s face is blinding. “Alright, Jimin.” He says, his words are followed by the sound of squeaky brakes, and Jimin turns around to see a bus pulling up to the sidewalk. Bending down, JK picks up the sled. “Why don’t you tell me all about how much fun essays can be on the way there.”

“Why?” Jimin asks, following JK onto the bus. “So you can mock me?” 

“Exactly.”

Jimin likes to think that he's a nice person, so to live up to his own personal view of himself, he spends the entirety of the bus ride telling JK all about the essays he’s written during his time in university. He chooses to focus on the essays that he thinks JK will find the most boring. Honestly, Jimin thinks it’s funny to watch JK fake an interest in what he’s saying. The way JK nods along to his words like he’s actually intrigued by them has Jimin biting back a smile.

It’s not like Jimin would be offended if JK interrupted him or tried to switch the subject, but he doesn’t do either of those things. JK just sits there and listens, making an effort to look alert. It’s kind of cute in a way.  

Eventually, the bus stops near a wooded park, and JK tells him that it's where they’re supposed to get off. Jimin has no idea where they’re going, but JK said he knows about a perfect place to sled, so he lets him be the guide on their little adventure.

According to JK, they still have a ways to go before they make it to the hill. There’s a ring of trees that surrounds almost the entire park, and JK leads him to a particular spot in the ring of trees– a spot that looks to be the most dense, the trees growing so thick that it’s almost like a mini forest. Apparently, the hill is just on the other side of it.

As they walk through the foliage, wading through brambles and dodging branches, Jimin asks if this is where JK is going to murder him. JK’s reply comes in the form of an ominous glance over his shoulder. Jimin isn’t scared, though. Knowing JK, it would be scarier if he didn’t do something like that.

When they finally make it to the other side of the trees, Jimin stops in his tracks, his eyes widening as he takes in the scene. He didn’t know a place like this existed. The area is secluded, cut off from the city, making Jimin feel like he isn’t even in Seoul at all.

There had been quite a few people out walking in the park, but there’s nobody at all on this side of the trees. It’s pretty much just wide-open space, a field of white snow with a giant hill in the middle of it.

“Me and my friends always used to come here when we were kids.” JK tells him, smiling faintly. “Not a lot of people know about it.”

Which isn’t surprising, because Jimin doubts that many people would feel the need to walk through that mess of trees just to see what’s on the other side of it.

“I like it.” Jimin says decisively. This place gives off a strange sense of isolation, but sometimes, it’s nice to be isolated from the busy city.

It’s still a bit of a walk to the base of the hill, and then when they finally get to the base of the hill, they have to walk up it. But it's not as tiring as it probably should be. In fact, Jimin is practically skipping up the hill, his steps as light as his heart. He’s excited, hasn’t been sledding since he was a kid, so the journey up isn’t bad at all.

“Alright.” JK says once they’ve made it to the top. He sounds out of breath, the climb taking most of it away. “You have to sit at the front.” He sets the sled down and then plants himself on it, scooting back to make room for Jimin.

Jimin hadn’t realized the significance of there being only one sled until now. They’ll have to share.

Jimin hesitates, glancing down at the space that JK had left for him on the sled. “Why do have to sit at the front?”

“You’re smaller than me.” JK shrugs. “If you sit behind me, you won't be able to see anything. Your face will be in my jacket the whole time.”

Jimin is ready to argue, but he can’t think of anything to say. JK is right. Suffocating in his puffy jacket doesn’t sound very appealing.

“Come on.” JK encourages, gesturing to the empty spot. He pauses. “Unless…” The corner of his mouth twitches. “Unless you’re scared of being at the front.”

Offended by the accusation, Jimin’s own mouth drops open. “I’m not scared.” He’s not. And to prove it, he wastes no time in stepping up to the sled, settling down right in front of JK.

The sled probably isn’t made for two people, and if it is made for two people, then it’s probably made for two children. There’s not a lot of room, in fact there’s no room between him and JK. Jimin can feel JK’s chest against his back, and he's sitting in between his legs, can feel them caging him in on either side of his body. 

Jimin isn’t scared, but his heart is still beating faster than it was before.   

“You good?” JK asks, his words spoken so close to Jimin’s ear that it startles him, making his breath catch in his throat.

Having trouble finding his voice, Jimin simply nods. He barely has time to register JK’s arms encircling his waist, barely has time to think about the way his heart flutters when it happens, because the next thing he knows, they’re sliding down the hill.

Jimin didn’t think the hill was that steep when they were climbing up it, but the speed they’re flying down it at makes him think that it was a hell of a lot steeper than what he initially thought.

They go down so fast that the air feels sharp when it hits his face, nipping at his cheeks. His vison grows blurry from the wind blowing directly into his eyes, and they start watering so that the world passes by in a flash of white. The squeal of delight that slips out of Jimin’s mouth is involuntary.

He can’t help it– everything just feels so good. It feels like there’s nothing in the world he has to worry about, feels like he left all of his worries up there on top of the hill.

Adrenaline washes over him in waves, and when JK lets out a whoop of excitement from behind him, Jimin tips his head back and laughs up at the sky, his blurry world of white turning into a blurry world of blue.  

Their ride doesn’t last nearly long enough for Jimin’s liking, and he's jumping to his feet the second that their sled slides to a stop at the bottom of the hill.

“Come on!” He urges, reaching down to grab JK’s arm. “Let’s go again.”

“Alright, alright.” JK laughs, letting Jimin haul him to his feet.

As soon as JK is standing, Jimin is scurrying up the hill. “See?” The cold air has Jimin’s cheeks going numb, his smile permanently stuck there on his face. “Told you I’d have more fun than you.” 

“Are you kidding me?” JK is lagging behind slightly, but only because he has a sled to carry. “You were sitting in front of me– you couldn’t even see my face. You couldn’t see how much I was smiling.”

But Jimin can see how much JK is smiling now, and it looks like he’s having a lot of fun. Maybe just as much as Jimin is.

When they get to the top of the hill, they resume their positions on the sled. And this time, Jimin is the one who grabs JK’s arms, guiding them so that they’re wrapped tightly around himself. His eagerness is unmatched, and all he wants to do is chase that same excitement he felt when he went down the hill the first time.

He never wants the feeling to end.

Jimin is more relaxed when they go down this time. He leans back, letting his head rest against JK’s chest, feeling on edge and at ease all at once as they zip down the hill. They hit a bump in the snow, causing their sled to go airborne, and Jimin lets out a squeak of surprise when they slam back down onto the ground.

He must’ve sounded funny, because JK starts laughing so hard that Jimin feels his entire body shake. At the bottom of the hill, they’re both laughing so hard that neither of them can properly breathe.

Jimin doesn’t mind the burn in his lungs.

As the day wears on, Jimin loses track of how many times they walk up the hill, but it must’ve been lot. Because now, even though he doesn’t know how many trips they made, he knows that his legs are aching and his thighs are screaming– protesting against him making another trek up.

He’s standing at the base of the hill, zoned out as he stares off into the distance, fatigue starting to catch up to him. And judging by the way JK is sitting on the sled, making no move to get up, he’s just as spent as Jimin is. 

Jimin glances at the sky and realizes that not only did he lose track of how many trips they made up the hill, but he lost track of time in general. The sky isn’t the pure blue that it used to be, the sun’s already starting to set, and now the blue sky is melting into pink and golden hues. It’ll be dark soon, and Jimin can’t believe how quickly the day passed.

He wishes the sun was still high in the sky, wishes that they could stay for hours and hours. He really does feel like he’s a kid again. The setting sun makes him feel that same disappointment he felt when he was a kid, when his mom would call him in for dinner when he was in the middle of playing with his friends at the park.

He doesn’t want it to end.

Poof.

Jimin is startled out of his thoughts when a snowball hits him in the shin...there’s only one place that snowball could’ve come from. He whirls around to look at his attacker.

Apparently, JK isn’t as tired as Jimin assumed he was. JK is already on his feet, a playful gleam in his eye as he stares Jimin down, silently daring him to make a move.

It turns out that Jimin underestimated his own energy too, because a fiery determination still ignites in his belly as he narrows his eyes at JK. He’s not about to let him get away scot-free. This is war.

This is war, but there’s no time to strategize or come up with a battle plan. Acting on sheer impulse, Jimin bends down and scoops up as much ammo as he can. He doesn't waste time making it into a ball, and he flings two handfuls of powdery snow right into JK’s face.

It’s a direct hit, and JK recoils, turning away and squeezing his eyes shut to shield himself from the attack.

JK recovers quickly. "Oh." He flaunts a smirk. “It’s so on.”

Instead of getting scared, something more akin to thrill shoots straight through Jimin. “Bring it.”

With grins breaking out over their faces, they put some distance between themselves, taking quick choppy steps as they run backwards so that they can stay facing each other. It’s not really a proper snowball fight since there’s not anything to hide behind or anywhere to run to, but at least they can still throw snowballs and see who’s the best at dodging.

JK is already in the process of forming another snowball, and Jimin makes sure to keep an eye on him as he squats down and packs a ball of snow for himself. They end up throwing their snowballs at virtually the same time; JK’s hits Jimin on the thigh, and Jimin’s dissolves into a cloud of powdered white when it makes contact with JK’s arm.

Throwing snow at each other shouldn’t be this fun, but for some reason Jimin can’t stop smiling.

He quickly gathers up more snow, determined to make this one a little bigger and to hurl it a little harder, planning on hitting JK in the chest this time.

But Jimin doesn’t get a chance to throw this one. Before he can even draw his arm back, a snowball cuts through the air and hits Jimin square in the face. For a second, all he sees is white. Dazed, he drops to his knees, going down hard.

Shit.”

He hears JK curse, followed by the sound of his boots in the snow as he sprints towards him.

Jimin isn’t hurt. The snow was cold (as snow tends to be), and it stung a little when it hit him, but Jimin isn’t hurt. He just wants JK to think he is. He remains kneeling, head bowed, hiding his face from JK.

“Jimin, are you okay?” JK’s voice sounds close to him, but not quite close enough for what Jimin has planned. “I didn’t mean to hit you in the face, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” He asks, full of genuine worry, and Jimin is glad that his head is down so he can hide his smile from JK. “Jimin?”

A shadow falls over him, and Jimin knows that JK is leaning over him. And now JK is close enough.

Jimin lifts his head, gives himself just enough time to see JK’s eyes widen, and then he’s taking a handful of snow and shoving it in JK’s face. It’s a cheap move and Jimin knows it, which is why he doesn’t stick around to give JK time to collect himself.

Once he’d given JK a good snow facial, Jimin turns and makes a break for it– even though there isn’t anywhere for him to run to. There’s nowhere to run and there’s nowhere to hide either– the patch of trees would be an ideal place to seek refuge, but it’s too far away. It’s all the way on the other side of the hill and he can’t even see it right now. He knows he’ll never make it.

“Park Jimin–” There’s laughter in JK’s voice, and Jimin is grinning from ear as he hurries away. “You are so dead.”

Jimin is a fast runner. But he soon learns that JK is faster.

Jimin lets out a gasp, completely caught off guard when he feels two strong arms wrap around his middle, lifting him off the ground.

He throws his head back and giggles, his feet hanging helplessly in the air as JK starts spinning him around. “P-put me down!”

“Not until you say you’re sorry!” JK fires back, and Jimin can hear his smile.

“JK!” He weakly bats at JK’s arms, even though he knows it won’t make him let go. Jimin is far too giddy and far too dizzy, and when JK keeps twirling him, he has to squeeze his eyes shut. “Please!”

“Say sorry!”

“But I’m not sorry!”

“Guess you want me to keep spinning you then.”

“I don’t!” Jimin really doesn’t. His eyes might be closed, but he still feels the world whirling around and around. It’s too much for him. He doesn’t want to surrender, but he can’t take any more spinning. “Okay!” It pains him to give in, but there’s still a smile on his face when he does it. “I’m sorry– you win.”

Just like that, JK stops. Jimin’s feet make contact with the ground a second later, but he can’t stand straight, and has to lean against JK for support.

“I always win.” JK hums, and as soon as Jimin has his eyes open, he’s narrowing them at JK and his smugness.

“That’s because you torture people to get your way.”

“Torture?” JK echoes. “You know, you sure laugh a lot for someone who’s being tortured.”

“We all cope with pain in our own ways.”

JK must think that it’s a fair point, because he doesn’t argue– or maybe he’s just too tired to come up with an argument. Jimin knows that he himself is exhausted. All that laughing really took a toll on him.

The sun has already set, and they both agree that it’s best to head back before it starts to get too cold. JK retrieves the sled, and together they begin their journey to the other side of the hill. They’re both dragging their feet as they walk, Jimin’s footsteps feeling far heavier now than they’d felt at the beginning of the day. His hands are going numb too– he’d shoved his mittens into his pockets a while ago when they started to get too damp from the snow.

When they make it to the other side of the hill, the patch of trees comes into view, and something near the treeline catches Jimin’s attention, tugging at his curiosity. 

“What’s that?” He murmurs, squinting to get a better look.

“Don’t know.” JK says, his own eyes narrowed in an attempt to bring the scene into focus. “Looks like some people are having a fire over there.”

JK turns out to be right. As the two of them draw closer, Jimin can see that there’s a group of people standing in a circle around a fire. He can even hear them talking now, laughter and indistinct chatter drifting through the cold air.

Considering the fact that JK and Jimin are practically walking straight towards them, it's not long before someone from the group spots them.

“Hey!” A friendly voice calls out, waving them over. “You guys cold?”

JK and Jimin turn to each other, share a look, then shrug. There’s no harm in warming up a bit before catching the bus.

There are eight people standing around the fire when Jimin and JK finally get there, and all of them have a beer in their hand and a smile on their face. Everyone seems nice. They make space for Jimin and JK around the fire, and they even go around the circle and introduce themselves. Though, Jimin doesn’t put much effort into memorizing names since there are eight of them and he knows he won’t remember them all, and they aren’t going to be staying long anyway.

After the introductions, everyone kind of splits off to do their own thing. While Jimin is mostly focused on the fire, JK ends up getting caught up in a conversation with a couple of the other guys. JK is social, able to make friends easily, and even though Jimin is the same way, right now he doesn’t really feel like socializing.

He’s content with soaking up the warmth of the fire, staring into it as he absently listens to the conversations going on around him. Someone throws a couple more logs on, and Jimin watches the flames eagerly licking at the wood, the fire growing bigger, giving off even more heat.

“Hey.” Someone says, unfamiliar voice coming from directly beside Jimin. He’s talking quietly, making it clear he’s addressing Jimin and not the whole group.

Jimin tears his eyes away from the fire, turning to look at him instead. “Hey.” He replies, offering up a smile. 

“You look like you could use a beer.” The guy says, and in the light of the fire, Jimin can see that his eyes are a little glazed over, which tells Jimin that he’s had a few beers himself.

Jimin gives his head a little shake, politely declining the offer. If the guy had offered him hot chocolate, then it would be a completely different story, and his answer would be an emphatic yes please. But it’s beer, so he passes on it. “I’m good, but thanks.”

The stranger gives him a look that says he doesn’t really believe him. “Come on. Let’s get you a beer.” Jimin stiffens when the guy places a hand on his lower back, trying to steer him away from the fire. “I have them in my truck. It’s not that far of a walk.”

Oddly enough, Jimin doesn’t feel the warmth of the fire anymore.

“Seriously, I’m okay. I don’t drink beer.” Jimin says, which isn’t even a lie. And even if he did like beer, he’d lie and say the same thing just so he’d have an excuse not to go to this guy’s truck with him.

“Well then just come with me and help me bring some back for everyone else.”

Jimin doesn’t say anything. The hand is still on him, and all Jimin wants to do is swat it away, but he doesn’t want to cause a scene. It’s not like he knows these people. Sure, they seemed friendly enough, but he doesn’t know them. He and JK are outnumbered, and he doesn’t want everyone ganging up on them if they do something to piss them off.

“What’s the matter?” The stranger asks, edging a little closer to Jimin, arm sliding around his waist, and Jimin’s entire body goes rigid. “You shy?”

“Look.” Jimin’s had enough. He doesn’t bother faking a smile anymore. He backs away, but the guy only takes another step towards him. “Can you please just–”

“Hey.” This time when Jimin hears a voice coming from his side, it’s a voice that he recognizes. JK is standing right next to him, his eyebrows pulled together as he stares at the guy Jimin is still trying to distance himself from. “What’s your problem?” JK demands, and Jimin feels his heart skip a beat. “Back off.”

The stranger slowly withdraws from Jimin, the hand not holding his beer raised up in surrender. “Shit, sorry man.” The smugness on his face doesn’t make him seem all that sorry. “Didn’t know he was yours.”

“He’s his own fucking person.” JK scowls.

Jimin reaches out to put a hand on his arm as if to calm him down. A fight is the last thing they need.

“Okay, okay.” The stranger chuckles. “Chill out, damn. Like I said, I didn’t know you two were a thing.” His gaze flickers to Jimin, and he smirks. “But come on. At least tell me how." He says, eyes going back to JK. "Tell me how I can find someone like that to take home with me every night.”

Jimin’s grip on JK's arm tightens when he feels the way he tenses up.

“Well maybe you’ll have an easier time finding someone when you learn how to show some fucking respect.” JK snaps.

“JK.” Jimin murmurs. He tugs at his arm, wants to take him away from fire, wants to take him away from everyone else, because he doesn’t think they’re welcome there anymore. Not that he wants to stay anyway.

JK doesn’t resist. He lets Jimin guide him away from the group of people, all of whom had gone completely silent.

They leave the fire without another word– not to each other, and not to anyone else. At one point, someone shouts something out to them, but they’re too far away now and Jimin can’t make out what they’re saying. It’s probably nothing good.

They walk in silence. Casting a glance in JK’s direction, Jimin notices the way he’s clenching his jaw, and he decides to take the long way all the way around the trees. They could both use some time to cool down. Luckily for them, the moon is bright tonight. It’s giving off more than enough light, and they don’t have trouble navigating.

All Jimin can hear is his own heart pounding against his chest, and their boots crunching in the snow. His face feels warm, though he doesn’t know why. The sun is long gone, and it’s not like they’re anywhere near the fire now. He’s not sure where the source of his warmth is stemming from.

“JK?” Jimin says after a while. He waits until JK is looking at him before continuing. “Thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me for being a decent human being.” JK mutters. He hesitates, tone softening when he speaks next. “Are you okay?”

It’s not like what happened at the fire left Jimin particularly shaken. He’s been to his fair share of clubs and parties, and he’s had to deal with creeps and pushy guys before.

“I’m fine.” Jimin assures.

“Good.”

“Do you wanna sit down?” Jimin surprises even himself when the question comes out of his mouth. He doesn’t know why he asks. He doesn’t know why he wants to sit down. The only place they have to sit is the ground, but for some reason, Jimin doesn’t want to keep walking.

“Sure.”

The snow is cold on his butt, but Jimin doesn’t mind. It’s nice where they are. It feels like they’re in the middle of nowhere, in their own private space, with just the night sky above their heads and the snow-covered ground at their feet.

“You forgot your sled at the fire.” Jimin notes. He crosses his legs, hands resting in his lap. His fingers are cold, and he regrets not drying his mittens by the fire when he had the chance.

“Yeah, it was my friend’s.” JK pulls his jacket sleeves down to cover his hands before stretching his arms out behind himself, leaning back on them. “I’ll buy him a new one.”

Nodding, Jimin glances down, absentmindedly playing with his own fingers. He can still feel a subtle burn in his cheeks, remnants of warmth making it easier to sit there in the snow. It’s weird, he could be on his way to a warm bus right now, and he should be looking forward to getting on that bus where the heat is probably cranked up a little too high.

But Jimin doesn’t want to be anywhere else right now.

“Jimin?” JK asks, and Jimin wonders why there’s so much uncertainty present in JK’s voice. “That uh…that guy at the fire.” Avoiding Jimin’s eyes, JK chooses to look somewhere off in the distance instead. “He made you uncomfortable?”

It’s a rhetorical question, but Jimin finds himself answering anyway. “Yeah. I guess.”

“Have I ever–” JK cuts himself off, clearing his throat. “I mean, was there ever…” His gaze shifts slowly, from his feet and then to his lap before it finally settles on Jimin. “I never made you feel like that, did I?”

“What?” It comes out a little breathlessly, the question catching Jimin by surprise. “What do you mean? Why would you think–” And then, all at once, something clicks.

When he first met JK, Jimin didn’t like him, and it wasn't a secret. JK was always teasing him, always toying with him, always smug and cocky in one way or another, and it grated on Jimin’s nerves. But JK never made him uncomfortable. And sure, JK still teases him, can still be cocky and smug, but it’s different.

Jimin doesn’t mind it. Sure, sometimes he can be a little irritating, but Jimin knows JK better now, and he knows there’s so much more to him.

The stranger at the fire overstepped so many boundaries that JK never did, did so many things Jimin knows JK would never do. 

“No.” Jimin shakes his head. “You never made me uncomfortable. Never.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” Jimin smiles faintly, hoping he can coax a smile out of JK too. “I mean, when I first met you, you annoyed the hell out of me. Sometimes you still annoy the hell out of me.” Jimin’s plan works, his eyes catching the way the corner of JK’s mouth quirks. “But you never make me feel like that.”

“Okay. Good.”

JK eases, jaw not so taut anymore, neck not so stiff. It has Jimin relaxing too, and even though he’s starting to feel the cold sinking into his bones, even though he’s trying to fight off the urge to shiver, he doesn’t make any move to get up. He still doesn’t want to leave.

Shoving his hands in his pockets, Jimin tilts his head to the side, a curious smile taking over his face. “Did you have a good Christmas?”

He asks not for the sake of filling in for the silence, but because he genuinely wants to know. He wants to know what JK and his friends got up to, wonders if he has any funny stories to share. Most of all, Jimin hopes that he had a good time, and that JK smiled as much as he did on Christmas.

JK takes a moment to himself before he says anything. He looks at Jimin, presses his tongue against the inside of his cheek, then looks away again, like he’s scared of looking for too long. “Yeah.” JK’s blunt, deadpan response isn't what Jimin had been expecting. “Yeah, it was nice.”

Jimin frowns. He isn’t exactly sure when things went wrong, and he doesn’t even know what’s wrong, but he knows that something’s up. This isn’t normal– JK’s cold response wasn’t normal. Jimin observes him cautiously, unsure why there’s a severe slant to his brow, unsure why he’s resolutely avoiding eye contact.

He’s just about to ask what’s wrong, but is silenced by JK whipping his head around to look at him. The movement is so sudden that it has Jimin’s mouth closing and eyes widening.

“Can I ask you something?” JK doesn’t wait for a reply. Just seconds ago, JK couldn’t have appeared more disinterested in him. Now he’s staring directly at Jimin, and the intensity in JK's gaze almost makes him want to look away. “Why didn’t you want me to come over for Christmas?”

Jimin blinks, confusion taking over. It’s obvious now that JK knows Jungkook came over for Christmas, not that Jimin ever tried to hide it from him in the first place. He never tried to hide it, because he didn’t think that Jungkook coming over would be an issue. Jimin doesn’t understand what’s going on, doesn’t understand where all this is coming from.

JK pauses like he’s waiting for Jimin to say something, but Jimin stays silent, too stunned to speak.

“No, it’s okay. You don’t have to tell me. I get it.” JK says, pushing out a humourless laugh. “Why would you wanna bring me home, right? I mean, it's not like I care about getting an education. I’m dropping out of school, I smoke, I’m probably not gonna make anything out of my life.”

JK is talking so quickly and so carelessly that Jimin barely has time to think, only has time to feel his heart sink and his eyes fill with tears.

“What do I have going for me?” JK goes on, oblivious to the way Jimin is fighting back his tears, and Jimin hates the way that JK talks about himself, hates that he’s the reason why JK is talking about himself like that. “Why would anyone take me home to their family, right? I’m not the one people take home.”

“JK–” Jimin’s voice cracks, finally failing in his effort to hold himself together. He shakes his head. “I–I wanted you to come. I wanted you to come too, and I was gonna invite you.” A single tear spills over and rolls down Jimin’s cheek, the wet trail feeling so cold against his skin. “But then when–when I asked what you were doing for Christmas, you said you already had plans, you said you were gonna be with your friends, and I–”

JK’s eyes widen, panic settling into his features. “Jimin.” His tone is soft, concern filling his words. “I didn’t mean to–”

“And I guess I should’ve invited you anyway, I just didn’t because you told me you were gonna be with your friends, so I didn’t think there was a point in asking. But I still should’ve asked, I should’ve invited you, I’m sorry, I should’ve–”

“Hey, hey.” JK quiets him, carefully reaching out to swipe away another tear streaking down Jimin’s face before it can reach his chin. “I’m sorry, Jimin.” He whispers. “I’m so sorry.”

Sniffling, Jimin wipes at his cheeks himself when JK withdraws his touch, feeling a little embarrassed that he’d cried so easily.

“I didn’t mean to make you sad.” JK says, and Jimin knows that he means it. “I shouldn’t have said any of that. I don’t know why I did. I’m not mad at you, I promise.”

It’s not even that Jimin felt attacked by JK’s words– that’s not the part that hurt the most. What hurt the most was the fact that everything that JK said was an attack on himself

“You know that I don’t care about all that, right?” Jimin swallows, throat still feeling too tight for comfort. “I don’t care that you’re not coming back to school next semester, I don’t care if you smoke, I don’t care that you’d rather play video games than read a book. None of that matters to me, JK. I don’t think any less of you because of any of that.”

JK doesn’t say anything for a long time. He just lets his eyes wander over Jimin’s face in silence, and Jimin lets him look, lets him search him for his sincerity. He's not afraid of what JK will find if he stares too long, because Jimin is telling the truth. He wants JK to know that he’s being honest, that he’s not just saying what he’s saying to make him feel good about himself.

Finally, JK speaks up. “I know.” He says. “I know you’re not that kind of person. I know you don’t think those things about me, and I don’t know why I said any of that. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Jimin murmurs, but his frown hasn't left his face.

“Is it?”

Jimin nods.

JK presses his lips together, studying Jimin for a moment. “Then can you smile for me?”

“Maybe you should do something to make me smile.”

Saying that was probably a mistake, but Jimin can’t take it back now. All he can do is lay back and take what JK gives.

JK lunges forward without warning, his fingers wasting no time getting to work tickling Jimin underneath his chin. Jimin doesn’t stand a chance. He giggles as he tries to squirm away from the attack, and ends up laying on the ground, flat on his back.

His eyes are squeezed shut as he laughs, but he can still hear JK snickering above him. Jimin’s stomach flutters, and he tries to tell JK to stop but he’s giggling too much to say anything.

Thankfully, JK eases up on his own.

It sort of happens all at once– so suddenly that it leaves Jimin a little dazed, going from being mercilessly tickled to having no contact from him at all. When JK stops, Jimin peeks his eyes open slowly to sees that JK is still leaning over him.

JK is staring down at him and smiling, and Jimin is still laying on his back, and it’s cold and his hair feels like it’s getting damp from the snow, but he doesn’t mind one bit.

JK’s eyes dip, and now he’s looking at Jimin’s mouth, and Jimin wonders if JK is thinking that he has a nice smile. Because all Jimin can think about right now is how nice of a smile JK has.

“Um.” JK blinks a couple times, shakes his head and then clears his throat all within the span of a couple seconds. And then, he’s pushing himself to his feet. “Come on.” He brushes snow off his pants before reaching down, offering Jimin his hand. “We should get back before we freeze to death.”

“I’m not even cold.” Jimin says, and he still doesn't want to leave, but he still takes JK’s hand, still lets JK pull him up. 

“Jimin,” JK huffs out a laugh. “Just admit that you’re cold.” They start walking again as if they’d never even stopped, side by side, their hips sometimes bumping so that they jostle one another.

“I’m not.”

“You’re shivering.”

He is. But Jimin still mumbles no underneath his breath, and JK still laughs at him, and somehow that gives Jimin enough warmth to tolerate the rest of the walk to the bus stop.

Their night together comes to an end far too soon for Jimin’s liking.

After parting ways with JK, Jimin returns to his cozy dorm and curls up on the couch underneath a heap of blankets with a hot cup of tea. He’s still shivering, and it’ll be a miracle if he doesn’t catch a cold. Though, even if he does catch a cold, it would be worth it. 

Sipping at his tea, Jimin pulls out his phone for the first time since that afternoon, and he notices that he has a couple missed texts from Jungkook. He smiles when he reads them.

 

[Jimin, Jungkook]

Jungkook: I thought about you tonight while I was making dinner.

Jungkook: Cooking is more fun when it’s with you

 

But Jimin isn’t smiling later that night when he’s laying in bed. He just stares at the wall, unsure of why he feels the way he feels right now. Jimin knows he should feel blessed, because he has so many things in his life that make him happy, so many people in his life that make him happy. His life is so good.

He knows he should be happy, but his heart is so heavy, and his chest is so tight, and happiness isn’t anything close to what he feels right now. And he has no idea why. That night, he doesn’t fall asleep as easily as he usually does.

 

Chapter Text

It’s the start of a new semester, but not much has changed.

Last semester, Jimin started it off by sitting on the floor in the kitchen of his dorm with Taehyung. He’d been in low spirits then, hadn’t been looking forward to the start of another school year where everything would be the same as it had always been.

And then something unexpected happened. He met JK and Jungkook, and Jimin’s semester turned into something amazing.

That’s why Jimin thought he’d be starting off this semester feeling better than he’d felt at the beginning of the last one. He thought things would be different.

But they’re not.

It’s the start of a new semester, and Jimin is wound up tight for no reason. He’s already overwhelmed, he hasn’t even been to all of his classes, and he already feels like he’s behind. It gets worse as the weeks go by.

He hangs out with JK and Jungkook, makes time for Taehyung whenever he can, and Jimin laughs and smiles just as much as he usually does.

He can ignore the stress and the uneasy feelings for the most part. It’s easy to ignore them during the day, because his days are filled with people who distract him from it all, filled with people who make him happy.

But it’s different when the day ends. Jimin’s days always melt into nights where he’s laying bed, staring into the darkness of his room and feeling so low. Something always feels off at night when he’s alone. It doesn’t matter how amazing his day was, it doesn’t matter how much he laughed, because night always comes, and night always brings something that Jimin can’t escape.

Something that makes his heart ache.

The weeks wear on, and the weeks wear Jimin out, and his life soon turns into one big paradox, because he wakes up every morning looking forward to the upcoming day, and scared of the upcoming night.

Jimin is used to it now, though. It’s just the way things are.

---

Jimin blinks his eyes open, waking up in a room that isn’t his own. It only takes a second for him to realize where he is, and it only takes one glance at the floor to ceiling window to tell him that it’s evening.

The last thing Jimin remembers is studying at the table with Jungkook, and that had been while the sun was still up. Jimin doesn’t remember falling asleep, and he doesn’t remember Jungkook carrying him to his bedroom either, but he obviously did.

Jimin doesn’t remember even remember feeling that tired, but he must’ve been exhausted if he passed out while studying.

Classes are tougher this semester. He’s more than a whole month into it, but he hasn’t gotten used to it yet. Classes are tough, his work keeps piling up and up, but Jungkook somehow manages to make everything better.

Smiling faintly, Jimin rolls over onto his back, stretching his arms high above his head in an effort to chase away his lingering grogginess. Jungkook’s sheets smell like him– like that light floral laundry soap he uses, and his mattress is so much softer than the one in Jimin’s dorm. Jimin is almost tempted to close his eyes and go back to sleep, but he forces himself to get up.

No matter how cozy Jungkook’s bed may be, Jimin would rather be with Jungkook right now than stay there alone in his room.

When Jimin walks out of the bedroom, he’s greeted with the smell of cooking. Something savoury wafts through the air, luring him to the kitchen where Jungkook is busy at work. Jungkook must see Jimin out of the corner of his eye, because he glances over at him as soon as he steps into the kitchen.

“Hey.” Jungkook smiles at him. “Did you have a good nap? I hope you don’t mind that I moved you to my room. I figured you’d be more comfortable there than at the table.”

“I don’t mind.” Jimin assures. He can’t believe how sweet Jungkook is, can’t believe that out of all the people in the world, he’s lucky enough to be someone that Jungkook is sweet to.

Jimin stops near the stove, curiously eyeing the sauce bubbling in one of the pans. “What’re you making?”

“Spaghetti. There’s garlic bread in the oven, too.”

“Italian night?” Jimin hums approvingly, mouth already watering. He’s starving, and Jungkook’s cooking never disappoints. “Need any help?”

“Everything’s pretty much done already.” Jungkook's mouth is quirked into an apologetic smile as he stands with his knife poised above the cutting board. “I just need to add a couple more things to the sauce.”

“You did it all without me?” Jimin murmurs, putting on a deliberate pout.

“Jimin,” Jungkook chuckles softly. “You were sleeping.”

Pushing out an exaggerated sigh, Jimin shakes his head in mock disappointment. “Excuses, excuses.”

“Next time, I’ll be sure to wake you up. Even though it’ll mean subjecting myself to you and your grumpiness.” 

“I’m not grumpy when I wake up.” Jimin mumbles, though the lack of conviction in his words doesn’t make him sound all that believable.

Since there’s nothing for him to do in terms of helping with the cooking, Jimin ends up sitting on top of the counter, legs lightly swinging, watching as Jungkook expertly minces fresh herbs.

Although Jimin might not be able to help with cooking, there might be a different way that he can help out. Jimin pulls out his phone, struck with a brilliant idea, trying to fight off a grin as he types something into his phone. The internet is a wonderful thing– full of everything that a person could possibly need– and it doesn’t take long for Jimin to find what he's looking for.

A music playlist.

Jungkook’s head is down and he’s busy with cutting right now, but Jimin’s eyes are fixed directly on him, eagerly anticipating his reaction when he presses play on his phone.

Music immediately floods the kitchen in the form of a trilling melody, and as soon as the first note rings out, Jungkook is snapping his head up, eyes landing on Jimin as he searches for the source of the sound.

The smile on Jungkook’s face is so big that it makes his eyes crinkle, and he smiles at Jimin in a way that says: you’re ridiculous, and Jimin smiles right back, unashamed, because he knows that he is.

The thing is, Jungkook is making spaghetti, so Jimin figured that it was only fitting for him to put on some traditional Italian music. He doesn’t know what song is playing, doesn’t even know what instruments are being played, but he thinks he can hear an accordion in there somewhere.

“Jimin, you–” Jungkook cuts himself off, snorting out a laugh.  

“What?” Jimin plays innocent. He pretends to be oblivious, acts like putting on Italian music while Jungkook makes spaghetti is just another typical night for them. “I’m setting the mood– helping you get in the zone.”

“Ah yes, of course. Always so helpful.” Jungkook teases. “What would I ever do without you?” He shakes his head, smiling to himself even when he goes back to his cutting.

A new song starts playing soon, and Jimin contents himself with simply sitting back and letting his eyes follow Jungkook’s movements. Neither of them speak, they’re both fine with the mere presence of one another as company.

Jimin leans his head against the cupboard behind him, letting it loll to the side, watching as Jungkook adds the remaining ingredients from the cutting board into the saucepan. As he watches, Jimin's mind starts to wander. He doesn’t know exactly why his thoughts are wandering all of a sudden, and he’s not sure why they’re wandering so far away– so far beyond anything that’s happening in the kitchen right now.

He's so lost in his own head that the question that comes out of his mouth slips out of its own accord.

“Are you happy?” Jimin asks. He’s stopped swinging his legs, becoming serious for no apparent reason.

Jungkook raises his eyebrows at him, appearing amused and bemused all at once. “That was random.” He says as he stirs the sauce with a wooden spoon.

He's right, it was random, and Jimin doesn’t know why he asked. He just knows that he wants Jungkook to tell him that he's happy.

Maybe Jimin asked the question because he’s been thinking about his own happiness a lot lately. He's been thinking about all the things that make him happy.

Jimin is happy. He knows he’s happy, but sometimes at night he just doesn’t feel happy.

“Why do you ask?” Jungkook sets the spoon down, tiling his head to the side as he carefully examines Jimin. “Do I look unhappy?” He takes a step away from the stove, and slowly makes his way over to where Jimin is sitting on the counter, and maybe Jungkook looks curious, but no, he doesn’t look unhappy at all.

Shaking his head, Jimin goes quiet, watching as Jungkook comes right up to the counter so that he’s standing directly in front of him. The apartment is filled with noise, from the sound of music playing off his phone, to the sound of simmering pans, yet everything seems so still and silent as he looks down at Jungkook.

Jungkook stares at him for a moment longer before lifting his hand. He raises it, palm facing up, offering it to Jimin. “Would you like to dance?”

Jimin blinks. Nothing could’ve prepared him for that question, and while he’s thoroughly surprised by the unexpected invitation, the jolt of giddiness that shoots through him is perhaps even more surprising.

“Jungkook,” a laugh squeaks out of Jimin, a sound so light that it floats on air. “That’s so–”

“Random?” Jungkook suggests, finishing Jimin’s sentence for him. Smiling, he lifts his hand a little higher. “I guess we’re both kind of in a random mood tonight.”

And Jimin is inclined to play along with their trend of randomness. The idea of dancing around in Jungkook’s kitchen while spaghetti cooks on the stove and garlic break bakes in the oven, and as Italian music plays off his phone is completely and utterly ridiculous.

But Jimin loves it.

He takes Jungkook’s hand, and loses himself in the ridiculousness of it all.

The song that’s now playing is upbeat, and that’s all that Jimin knows about it. He doesn’t know the song and he doubts that Jungkook does, but Jungkook somehow still manages to move with finesse, as if he’s well acquainted with it.

Jungkook steps this way and that without pause, effortlessly spinning Jimin whenever the mood takes him, never missing a beat. Jimin’s own movements are far less graceful, but he’s having too much fun to find it in himself to feel embarrassed about how uncoordinated he is.

He’s not familiar with whatever dance they’re doing, he’s not familiar with the way his heart is aflutter, but he is familiar with the smile on Jungkook’s lips.

And as long as Jungkook keeps smiling like that, that’s all that matters.

Jimin tilts his head back, eyelids falling shut, putting all his trust in Jungkook as he lets him lead the way around the kitchen. “Where am I right now?” Jimin asks, pushing out an exaggerated and dreamy exhale that’s fit for a theatre audience. “Am I in Italy?”

Jungkook’s laughter spills into the air, mingling with the melody playing. “Not quite. But,” He pauses, seamlessly twirling Jimin. “If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?”

“I don’t even know–” Jimin admits, opening his once more. He shakes his head, finding that it feels so light when he does. “I’ve been wanting to travel since I was a kid, but I still don’t know where I want to go yet.”

“You want to travel?” Jungkook’s mouth curves into a curious smile, genuine interest playing across his face.

“When I’m done school.” Jimin confirms. “When I have my life sorted..." The idea of having his life sorted out seems so far away. Right now, he doesn’t feel like he has anything sorted out. He shrugs his shoulder up to his ears, letting out a weak laugh. “I guess I still have a lot of time to figure out where I wanna go.”

“Hey, don’t sound so discouraged.” Jungkook says, giving Jimin’s hand a subtle, but reassuring squeeze. “You’ll be sipping espresso in a café in Italy before you know it.”

When Jimin laughs this time, it’s genuine. Somehow, Jungkook always makes him feel better.  

When he looks up at him, Jungkook’s eyes are alight with something beautiful, looking so bright and so vibrant that they put the stars to shame. And suddenly it’s okay that Jimin can never see the starts in the Seoul sky at night. Because he can see them in Jungkook’s eyes anytime he wants.

“What about you?” Jimin asks. “If you could go anywhere in the world right now,” he smiles gently, “where would you go?”

Jungkook shakes his head, almost imperceptibly so. His eyes never stray from Jimin’s face. “There’s nowhere else I want to be right now.”

Jimin can’t see himself, but he’s fairly certain that his face is turning red right now. Or at the very least, a deep shade of pink. His cheeks are hot, burning so much that he thinks he can actually smell something burning…

Jimin hesitates, blinking in confusion. 

No. Something is actually burning.

“Jungkook?” Jimin frowns. “Do you smell–”

“The garlic bread!” Jungkook’s eyes widen, and he rushes over to the oven, opening the door to reveal that the garlic bread is burnt to a crisp.

Jungkook isn’t laughing about it now, but Jimin knows this will be something for them to both laugh about in the future. The burnt garlic bread is the perfect ending to their perfectly ridiculous night.

And even though the garlic bread turns out to be a total failure, the spaghetti is just fine. Dinner is perfect. Jimin’s life feels perfect.

Jimin goes home that night feeling happy. He’s so, so happy.

And when he’s lying in bed with the covers pulled up to his chin, something inside him hurts so, so much.

---

Things are better in the morning– they always are.

Where there’s morning, there’s the sun, and with the sun comes the promise of another wonderful day. Jimin’s days are always something to look forward to, because the people in his life fill his days with more smiles than he knows what to do with.

School is still draining, and he's always tired, never able to fully rid himself of his fatigue, but he’s used to it now. He’s used to it, and he always manages to find a dose of energy somewhere.

Today, he finds it in JK.

The two of them hang out together when they finish their classes for the day. Originally, Jimin had planned on going home and taking a nap after his last class, but when JK texted him asking if he wanted to hang out, sleep became the last thing on Jimin's mind, and JK became the first.

He told Jimin that there’s somewhere he wants to take him today, and of course, because he’s JK, he refused to tell Jimin where that somewhere is. Apparently, it’s meant to be a surprise (though Jimin is certain he only wants to keep it a surprise to be a bit of a brat).

And that’s where they are now; with Jimin’s curiosity spiking as they walk down the street. All the snow has melted by now, but the lingering chill in the air says they still have a while to wait before spring finally gets there.

Jimin makes up for the lack of spring in the air by walking with a noticeable spring in his step. JK is supposed to be the one leading him, but Jimin is the one who's walking faster. Every once and a while, he has to force himself to stop in the middle of the sidewalk, having to wait for JK to catch up to him so that he can steer him in the right direction.

“Are we almost there?” Jimin asks, sounding like a whiny child even to his own ears. “Where are we even going? Can’t you at least give me a hint?”

“I don’t get why you’re so excited.” JK says instead of answering any of Jimin’s questions. “We aren’t going anywhere special.” He must find Jimin’s impatience to be amusing, because a smile takes over his features as he looks down at him. “Don’t get your hopes up too much.”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s not special.” Jimin replies simply. “You told me that it’s a surprise, and surprises are naturally exciting. The second that someone mentions surprise, it incites excitement. It’s a fact.”

“Is it?”

“It is.”

“So is it safe to assume that you’re more than a little excited right now?”

“It is.”

“Then it’s a good thing that we’re here.”

They come to a stop after rounding a corner, and Jimin is met with a sight that he certainly hadn't been expecting– not that he even knew what he was expecting.

“You spent all day in classes so,” JK shrugs like he’s trying to play cool, trying to justify his reason for bringing Jimin here, like he’s afraid Jimin won’t like it. “I guess I figured that you’d have a lot of energy to burn.”

Jimin stays quiet, staring at the playground in front of them. JK decided to take him here – to a playground –  because he thought he needed a place to blow off steam.

“See?” JK chuckles. “Told you that it wasn’t anything special–”

Jimin doesn’t hear JK’s full sentence, because he’s running over to the swing set before JK gets a chance to finish talking.

“Push me!” Jimin calls out eagerly, already hoisting himself up onto one of the swings.

There isn’t anyone else out at the park right now, meaning they have the whole playground to themselves, which also means that Jimin doesn’t have to be afraid of getting weird looks from parents, who might find his excitement to be a little excessive for someone of his age.

JK doesn’t seem to think that Jimin’s keenness is out of place or strange. In fact, he's grinning as he jogs over to the swings where Jimin is waiting.

JK was right. Jimin did need this. He needs to let loose, to forget about the pressures of school, and making JK push him on the swings is the perfect way to let loose.

“Ready?” JK asks from behind Jimin. When Jimin nods in confirmation, he feels the warmth of JK’s hands on his back, starting out with a rather gentle push as if he’s trying to ease Jimin into it.

“Higher.” Jimin urges, hands gripping the chains tighter when JK gives him another push.

“So impatient.” JK scolds, clicking his tongue. “I’m just getting started. Soon, you’ll be begging me to stop.”

“Doubtful.” Jimin lilts, almost challengingly, and JK must hear the dare in his voice. There’s a lot more force behind his next push, and Jimin’s stomach swoops when he’s sent higher into the sky.

It’s like that for a while, but eventually, Jimin takes pity on JK and tells him that he doesn’t need to push him anymore. JK takes a seat on the empty swing next to Jimin, and Jimin lets his own swing slow to an almost complete stop.

They sit side by side, chains creaking faintly as they idly rock back and forth. Jimin breathes in deep, filling his lungs with fresh air, like he’s trying to force out all of his stress. There always seems to be some sort of weight pressing down on him lately, and a part of him is afraid that weight will never leave his shoulders. He wants it gone, but he doesn't have a clue how he's supposed to get rid of it. 

“Jimin?” JK says, shoes dragging in the gravel as he speaks. Jimin hadn’t even realized that he’d been zoned out and in his head until JK's voice pulls him out of it. “What are you doing this summer?”

“This summer?” Jimin repeats slowly, like he’s testing out the words on his tongue. He tilts his head from side to side, humming thoughtfully. “I don’t know…I’ll probably be working for most of it. Why?”

“You should come travel with me.” JK leans back and kicks his legs out, giving himself just enough momentum to lightly swing He looks as relaxed as ever, while Jimin is sure that he himself looks positively stunned.

He stares at JK unblinkingly as he lets those words sink in. Even though he heard him loud and clear, for some reason, Jimin doesn’t feel like he fully understood. “What?”

JK had proposed the idea to him months ago when they first started getting to know each other, but that offer had been more of a way to tease Jimin than anything else– it wasn’t serious, and Jimin laughed it off.

But this time, he can’t laugh it off. Because this is real. This isn't teasing, it's not a joke. 

JK actually wants to travel with him in the summer.

Another person might be offended by Jimin's reaction, but JK doesn’t appear offended in the slightest. If anything, he looks entertained. Jimin imagines that he must be quite the sight right now– with his uncharacteristically wide eyes and parted lips as he practically gawks at JK.

JK just smiles, casual as ever. “I think it would be a lot of fun. I mean, I’m gonna be going away for a few months, and I don’t expect you to come with me for the whole time. But I was thinking if you just wanted to come for a couple weeks or something? Then you could fly back to Korea, and I’d keep going. Do my own thing, you know?”

“JK,” Jimin wets his lips, finally finding his voice, though he's still struggling to find words. “I–”

“And I don’t want you to feel pressured or anything. Don’t feel like you have to say yes. Trust me, I get it if you can’t come.” And JK really does look like he’d understand completely if Jimin said no, though, he can see a hint of hopefulness underlying that understanding. Jimin knows that JK really wants him to go. Shrugging, JK adds, “I just thought I’d put it out there.”

Jimin is glad that he asked, he really is, but his shock hasn’t worn off yet, and he’s having trouble piecing together something intelligible to say. “I mean, I’d love to.” Jimin would. He’d love to go, and he knows that he’d have fun if he went. But there’s something stopping him from saying yes.

He doesn’t know if he should, he doesn’t know if it’s a good idea, he doesn’t know so many things. He suddenly feels like he doesn’t know anything at all. “It’s just that–”

“You don’t have to give me an answer right now. There’s no rush.” JK assures. “Just think about it, okay?”

Jimin gets the feeling that it’ll be the only thing he’ll be able to think about. Biting the edge of his lip, Jimin nods. He doesn’t know if he’s going to go, but he can’t believe that JK asked. He can’t believe that JK wants to travel with him– travelling with another person is a big deal. JK inviting him means that he has a lot of faith in Jimin, faith that he’ll enjoy the trip more if Jimin is there with him than if he’s not.

And Jimin can’t believe he’s lucky enough to be someone that JK enjoys spending time with.

He digs his teeth into his lip a little harder now, trying his best not to smile too wide, trying to force his heart to beat slower, afraid JK might be able to hear it thumping in his chest.

“Bet you I can swing higher than you can.” Jimin challenges, just so he has something else to focus on– something that isn't his racing heart.

“Yeah?” The gleam in JK’s eyes says that he finds Jimin’s ambition to be both admirable and amusing. “You think you and your tiny legs can beat me?”

“Watch me and my tiny legs kick your ass.” Jimin smiles freely now, not so concerned with hiding it anymore. If JK asks why he’s smiling so wide, then he’ll tell him it’s because he’s about to beat him in their little competition.

“Feisty today, aren’t you?” JK grins, pumping his legs to get himself going, and Jimin follows suit, setting their contest into motion.

Jimin spends the rest of his day happy. Because Jimin is happy. He’s happy.

And that night when Jimin lays in bed, he stares at the wall and thinks about how good his life is. Everything in his life is so, so right. But something inside him still feels so, so wrong.

---

Jimin doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t even want to think about it.

He doesn’t like thinking about the way he feels at night, doesn’t want to put much thought into it, because if he does, then it all becomes real.

And Jimin doesn’t want it to be real. He’ll focus on the good and ignore the bad for as long as he can, and he knows that it’s wrong, he knows that he can’t run away from it forever, he knows he has to acknowledge why he’s feeling the way he’s feeling. But he doesn’t want to.

He doesn’t even talk to Taehyung about it. He'll hide and he'll run from it for as long as he can. But hiding and running are exhausting.

 

“You look tired.” Taehyung comments from where he sits across the table from Jimin. They’d met up for a coffee in between classes today, though no amount of caffeine ever gives Jimin quite enough energy these days.

Although Taehyung had spoken nonchalantly, Jimin notices the hint of concern in his eyes. Concern that Jimin is determined to dispel, because he doesn’t want his friend to worry about him. Because he’s fine. If he keeps telling himself he’s fine, if he keeps saying everything is fine, then maybe it’ll all turn out fine in the end.

Jimin knows he’s tired because he can feel it, knows he’s tired because he can see it every time he looks in the mirror to see the dark circles underneath his eyes. But he’s fine. Jimin is fine.

“Classes are just a lot right now.” Jimin says, absentmindedly tapping the side of his coffee cup. “I have a couple group projects that are due at the end of the month. And there’s this presentation that I have to do next week.” Which isn’t a lie. He really does have all of that on his plate. But that's not the only reason he's so tired. 

Taehyung recoils, nose wrinkling. “Gross.”

Jimin smiles faintly. “It is kinda gross, isn’t it?”

“Bordering on disgusting.” The look of revulsion on Taehyung’s face only lasts for another second or so. Soon, it’s being replaced by a grin. “Sounds like you could use a break.” When Jimin raises a questioning brow, Taehyung clasps his hands together eagerly. “What are you doing on Saturday? We should totally go out– I don’t work this weekend, and we haven’t been out in forever.”

Jimin visibly deflates, shoulders drooping just like the corners of his mouth. “Believe me, Tae, I really wish that I could.” He sighs sadly. “But I can’t.”

“What, why not?” Taehyung frowns.

“Group project.”

“You’re working on a group project on a Saturday night?” Taehyung’s mouth drops open in horror. “That is… that is just repulsive.”

“I know. But everyone in my group has such weird schedules, and Saturday nights are the only times we can all meet up.”

The next two Saturday nights of Jimin’s life will be spent working on a project with people he doesn’t like even half as much as he likes Taehyung, and it sucks. Jimin could really use a night out with his best friend. Hell, he could really use a drink.

“Hey, don’t look so sad.” Taehyung says, his pout morphing into a gentle smile. “We can’t go out Saturday, but so what? Let’s do something on Sunday.” His smile widens, and Jimin already finds himself wanting to smile right back, because Kim Taehyung is the owner of one of the most infectious smiles known to man. “All you can eat sushi and a movie?”

“That sounds perfect.” Jimin says softly, relieved that they can do something together this weekend.

“Sweet.” Taehyung beams. “And don’t worry, it won’t be a repeat of the last time we got sushi.”

“No vomiting?”

“No vomiting.” Taehyung promises, placing a hand over his heart. “I solemnly swear to take the phrase all you can eat seriously, and I will only eat all that I can eat. Nothing more than that.”

“I’m holding you to that.” Jimin perks up as he sips his coffee, smiling when his lips meet the lid of the cup. He really does have the most amazing people in his life. They always make him feel better.

A few minutes later, Taehyung dismisses himself to go to the washroom, so Jimin pulls out his phone to kill time as he waits for him to get back. The first thing he sees when he looks at his phone is a missed message from JK.

 

[Jimin, JK]

JK: Remember that time we saw a puppy when we were on a walk, and you got so excited when you saw it that you tripped and fell down when you ran over to pet it?

JK: Anyway I randomly thought about that and I started laughing in the middle of class and my prof called me out for it. So you got me in trouble. Thanks a lot

 

Jimin grins, and is just about to type out a reply when he gets another text. It’s from Jungkook this time.

 

[Jimin, Jungkook]

Jungkook: There’s an art exhibit set up by the library. They have some really nice paintings, you should check it out

Jungkook: I know you have a thing for cherry blossoms

[image attached]

 

Attached is a picture of one of the paintings, and in it, pale pink cherry blossoms blend in with the snowflakes falling against the backdrop of a light blue sky. It’s beautiful.

And Jimin frowns.

He frowns as he stares down at his phone, and even though he’s looking right at it, his eyes aren’t really seeing anything. He’s completely zoned out, thoughts running rampant, and there’s something gnawing at his stomach so insistently that it feels like it’s trying to tear a hole right through him.

“What’s the matter?” Taehyung startles Jimin when he plops back down into his seat. Jimin must be easy to read, or maybe Taehyung is just really good at reading him, because he knows something is up. He glances at the phone in Jimin’s hand, then back at him. “Is it the twins? Are they fighting again? Last time you looked like this, it was because they were fighting. Jimin are you unnecessarily blaming yourself for their problems again?” Taehyung gives him a meaningful look. “Remember what I said about unnecessarily blaming yourself?”

“I remember.” Jimin’s voice comes out a little breathlessly, like he’d just had all the wind knocked out of him. “And I’m not blaming myself.” He feels sick.

“You’re caught in the middle of an argument though?”

“No.” He’s not caught in the middle of an argument. He’s just caught in the middle.

As far as Jimin knows, JK and Jungkook have mended their relationship since the fight they had around Christmas. Things are good between them. Things are good between all of them. And that’s the best and the worst part.  

“Then what’s wrong? You were all smiley when I left.” Taehyung says, worry creasing his brow. “Now you’re all frowny. What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing.” He doesn’t want anything to be wrong. “Um, I gotta go to class.” Jimin stands up abruptly, grabbing his backpack from off the floor where he left it. “See you later tonight?”

Taehyung nods, and Jimin can see that he wants to ask him something else, he can see that Taehyung is concerned, but again, Jimin doesn’t want him to worry. So he forces himself to smile before he leaves, hoping that if Taehyung sees him smile, he’ll worry a little less.

He just wants everything to be okay. He just wants everyone to be okay.

That afternoon, Jimin has a hard time concentrating on his lecture. All he can think about is a phrase that his mom used to tell him all the time when he was a kid. A phrase that he never quite understood until now.

But now, he knows that there really is such a thing as having too much of a good thing.

---

 [Jimin, JK]

JK: I get off work pretty soon. Wanna get something to eat?

 

[Jimin, Jungkook]

Jungkook: Hey, I’m gonna be in the library for the next few hours. If you’re not busy then feel free to come study with me

 

It’s just after 6pm on a Wednesday, and Jimin can’t do this. These last few days, he’s somehow managed to evade Taehyung’s questions whenever he asks if there's something wrong, and he’s somehow managed to convince him that he’s fine. Jimin has been doing a decent job of holding himself together, but he just can’t do this right now.

Taehyung is working tonight, meaning Jimin is all alone in the dorm. It’s nice in a way, because he doesn’t have to force himself to smile when he’s alone.

Jimin doesn’t reply to the text from JK, and he doesn’t reply to the text from Jungkook. Instead, he sits on the edge of his bed, and stares at his wall. Or, more specifically, he stares at the painting on his wall. The painting of the cherry blossoms, the one from Jungkook's apartment, the one that Jungkook had given him for his birthday.

And then, Jimin's eyes shift, lowering his gaze so that he’s staring at his dresser. Or, more specifically, he stares at the stuffed animal sitting on top of his dresser. The pink bunny that JK won him at the fair.

Jimin’s chest tightens as he looks back and forth between the cherry blossoms and the bunny. It suddenly feels like there's a shortage of air in his room, and he tries to swallow down the anxiety clawing at his throat, but he can’t.

He can't do this.

He knows what he has to do. He knows who he needs to text. Jimin grabs his phone, scrolling through his contacts until he finally finds the name he's looking for.

 

[Jimin, Seokjin]

Jimin: Hyung

Jimin: Do they ever talk about me?

 

Both Seokjin and Namjoon had given their numbers to Jimin the day he met them, but this is the first time he’s texted either of them since then. They probably only gave him their numbers in case of an emergency, but right now, this feels like an emergency.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take more than a couple minutes for Seokjin to reply.

 

[Jimin, Seokjin]

Seokjin: Jimin! What r u tlking about??

Seokjin: Jimin are you drunk rn??? Because me too lol

Seokjin: Wait I know why I’m drunk. Im celebrating closing a business deal. But why r u drunk? It’s a Wednesday? Is that the night u kids go out now??

Seokjin: Wow I feel old

Seokjin: And who are u even talking about? Does who talk about u? What do u mean? Who’s talking about u? Is someone slandering u? Do uu need someone taken care of?

 

Despite the state he’s in now, a small smile twitches to life at the corner of Jimin’s mouth. It had been a good idea to text Seokjin. 

 

[Jimin, Seokjin]

Jimin: Sorry, I meant JK and Jungkook.  Do they ever say anything about me?

Seokjin: Are u kidding me?

Seokjin: Tthey talk about u all the time. I always get random texts from them telling me about something cute u did. Or telling me about some of the conversations that u guys have

Seokjin: I probably wasnt supposd to tell u that. Ignore me, soju is flowing through my veins

 

And now, Jimin isn’t sure if texting Seokjin had been a good idea after all. He doesn’t know what he expected to get out of this conversation, he doesn’t know what he expected Seokjin to tell him. He doesn’t know what he wanted Seokjin to him.

But it’s not this. He didn’t want Seokjin to tell him this. Maybe Jimin wanted Seokjin to say that JK and Jungkook both secretly talk shit about him behind his back, maybe he wanted Seokjin to tell him that they both secretly hate him.

Things would be so much easier if they both hated him.

Jimin forces himself to take in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He tries to stay focused, tries to stay calm, puts all of his effort into texting back something coherent even though his head is spinning.

 

[Jimin, Seokjin]

Jimin: They both say nice things about me?

Seokjin: Of course! Ur so important to them. I told u that youd be good for them both, my intuition is scarily accurate

Seokjin: Jimin I'm drunk so im going to overshare now.

Seokjin: And I want to say thanks for being there for them. It means a lot

Seokjin: oh I gotta go, theyre handing out more shots. Pray for me

 

Jimin just sits there, reading and then re-reading those texts, feeling so inexplicably high and so insanely low at the same time.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Jimin tries his luck with texting Namjoon. He knows it’s stupid to hope that Namjoon will tell him something different, but Jimin is desperate. Maybe this is all just a pathetic cry for help, because god knows he needs help.

 

[Jimin, Namjoon]

Jimin: Do the twins ever say anything about me?

 

Everything would be so much easier if they didn’t care about him, and if he didn’t care about them. Jimin wishes he didn’t care so much.

When his thoughts start to wander, they wander to awful places– places that tell him it would’ve been better if he never met them at all. But as soon that thought creeps into Jimin’s head, he’s throwing it out.

No.

He doesn’t regret anything, he can’t imagine his life without them in it. And that’s one of the scariest things of them all.

Namjoon doesn’t text him back that night, but it’s okay, because Jimin is used to his nights being anything but pleasant.

 

Namjoon does reach out eventually, though. It's the following evening, and Jimin is doing homework on the couch back in his dorm when his phone rings. He actually cringes when Namjoon’s name pops up on the screen. Quite frankly, Jimin is embarrassed. He texted Seokjin and Namjoon last night on impulse, in a moment of desperation where he hadn't been thinking clearly, but he never should have done it. He shouldn’t be dragging other people into his own problems.

He shouldn't drag other people into his own problems...but it’s not like he can just ignore Namjoon's call.

Jimin sets his reluctance and his textbook aside, and picks up his phone instead. “Hello?”

“Jimin.” Namjoon’s voice sounds friendly and familiar, and Jimin imagines him and his dimpled smile. “It’s Namjoon.”

“Hi, hyung.” Jimin can’t sit still. He gets up and starts pacing around his dorm, hoping he doesn't sound as nervous as he feels. “What's up? How are you?” As if he doesn’t already know the reason Namjoon called.

“I’m good. And what about you?”

“Good.” There’s a certain tension between them, both of them knowing there’s so much more to be said than these pleasantries.

“I talked to Seokjin earlier today.”

And there it is. Those words make Jimin’s stomach drop. He’d been holding on to the hope that maybe Namjoon really did just call to ask how he was. “Oh?”

Namjoon hums in confirmation. “You know, he probably didn’t seem like it when you were texting him last night, but he’s worried about you. Both of us are.” And now Jimin feels guilty. The only thing he can seem to do right now is make other people worry about him. “Is there something you wanted to talk to me about?”

“No.” It comes out of Jimin’s mouth on instinct, but the second he says it, he regrets it. He needs to talk to someone, he knows that. He can’t keep it all to himself, can’t keep drowning in his own worries.

There’s a patient pause on the other end of the line, and Jimin knows he’s supposed to say something else, but when he keeps his mouth shut, Namjoon offers up words of his own. “Look, Jimin. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t know something is bothering you, but I’m not going to force you to talk to me, either. Just know that you can come to me with whatever. I’m always here to listen.”

“I know.” Jimin nibbles at his bottom lip. He’s been doing it so much lately that it’s starting to sting when he does, and he can taste a hint of blood on his tongue. “It’s just…” He stops mid-step. Instead of pacing, he stands in the middle of the room. “School.” And there’s that lame excuse again. “Life, I guess.” He’s being more honest now. “Decisions.” A surge of exasperation takes him by surprise, overriding his instinct to keep his mouth shut. The hand that isn’t holding his phone is on top of his head, fingers tangled in his own hair.

“I mean, why can’t we just be programmed to know what to do?” He’s talking fast, being vague and painfully clear all at once. “Why can’t we just know how to make the right choice– and why does life have to have to be full of so many choices anyway? And why…” Jimin’s frustration bleeds out into the air around him, leaving him feeling so strangely empty. His voice sounds hollow. “Why can’t we just know what we want?”

Namjoon doesn’t reply right away. And when he finally does say something, his words are prefaced with a soft sigh. “I wish I had an answer for you, Jimin. But I don’t.” He says. “The only thing certain in life is uncertainty. We’ll never know the consequences of a decision until we actually make that decision. We don’t know. All we can do is make a decision, and trust that the people in our life will understand that decision.”

Namjoon’s words are comforting. “Thanks, hyung.” Namjoon’s words are comforting, and Jimin is glad that he talked to him.

“I wish I could talk longer, but I have to go now. Don’t hesitate to call me any time.”

“I won’t. Thanks again.”

“Take care, Jimin.”

Namjoon’s words are comforting, but nothing’s changed. Jimin is stuck in the same place, and he’s afraid that he’ll never find his way out of it, afraid he’ll keep going around in circles until he can’t anymore.  

---

On Saturday night, Jimin is stuck in the library with four of his classmates, hammering out a group project. It’s the weekend, no one wants to be there right now, but at least they can bond in their misery together.

Even though Jimin doesn’t necessarily want to be in the library on a Saturday night, at least it serves as a distraction from everything else going on in his life.

Things haven’t gotten better. At one point, he considered avoiding Jungkook and JK altogether, thinking that it might be beneficial to stay away from them while he tries to sort everything out. But he can't avoid them– he doesn't want to. He needs them. 

Nowadays, Jimin hangs out with them as often as he usually does, and he smiles with them just as often as he usually does, and then as soon as he’s alone, he’s left feeling drained. He's still going around in circles. 

Jimin knows that something has got to give.

It's around 10pm when Jimin walks out of the library that night. When he checks his phone for notifications, he sees there are several missed ones from Taehyung.

 

[Jimin, Taehyung]

Taehyung: Please don't be mad at me, but I’m going to the bar tonight 

Taehyung: Oh! And I invited Jungkook to come out with me and a few other people. You should’ve seen him in class the other day. Damn that boy looked like he could use a drink

Taehyung: Anyway, you should meet up with us later tonight when you’re done being all studious and stuff

 

Jimin isn’t mad that Taehyung went out without him, but he is surprised that Jungkook went with him. It's not often that Jungkook goes out. Maybe Jungkook is having a rough semester too.

Although Taehyung invited him out, Jimin texts back telling him he doesn’t feel like it tonight. After spending the last few hours in the library, he’s not exactly in the party mood.

So, instead of joining Taehyung and Jungkook at the bar, Jimin heads back to the dorms.

He throws on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, picks something random on Netflix, and crawls into bed with his laptop and a bag of chips to snack on.

Jimin spends the rest of his night like that, only half paying attention to whatever show he’d chosen, not even having enough energy to properly watch Netflix. Jimin is just about to doze off when he get another text.

 

[Jimin, Taehyung]

Taehyung: Heyy Jungkook’s gonna crash on our couch tonight

Taehyung: Jimin hes so drunk lol

Jimin: Really? Is he okay?

Taehyung: He’s fineee I promise. Don’t worry, I’ll look out for him

 

Jimin may be a little worried about Jungkook since he knows that he doesn't drink often, but he trusts that Taehyung will make sure he's alright. Jimin actually falls asleep relatively easily that night.

But he doesn’t stay asleep for very long.

When Jimin wakes up, he’s so thirsty that his throat feels like it’s burnt– probably thanks to those salty chips he ate right before bed. Smacking his lips, Jimin blindly fumbles for his phone, and one quick look at it tells him that it’s nearly four in the morning.

It’s too early, he doesn’t want to leave the warmth of his bed, but he needs water. If he doesn’t get some water in him within the next couple minutes, he thinks he might actually be putting his life in danger. He’s that thirsty.

And that’s why Jimin ends up braving the kitchen at an ungodly hour.

When he steps out of his bedroom, not only is he suffering from thirst, but he nearly suffers a whole damn heart attack when he peers through the darkness and sees a body lying across the couch. Luckily, it only takes him a second to remember what Taehyung had about Jungkook staying there tonight.

There’s no reason to worry. It’s just Jungkook.

Jimin carefully tiptoes his way to the kitchen, holding his breath as he passes by the couch. It’s not exactly easy (or possible) to fill up a glass of water at the sink without making any noise, but Jimin does his best to be as quiet as he can manage. After guzzling down two glasses of water, Jimin deems his thirst sufficiently quenched, and he commences on a new mission– getting back to his bedroom without waking Jungkook up.

Though, he ends up failing this mission no more than a few seconds after he starts it. He takes three, maybe four steps in total before he hears Jungkook calling out to him.

And Jimin wonders if Jungkook had ever been asleep at all.

“Jimin?” The voice cuts through the silence, a soft whisper that sounds so much louder than what it really is.

Jimin freezes. He stares at the couch, the moonlight trickling in through the windows allowing him see the outline of Jungkook’s body, letting him see that Jungkook is laying on his side, facing him. He can see the way Jungkook’s eyes are shining, twinkling in the light of the moon.

If Jimin wanted to, he could pretend that he didn’t hear him, could pretend that he didn’t even see him. It would be easy to just walk away. But he doesn’t.

Jimin slowly makes his way to the couch, not bothering to tiptoe anymore. “Hey.” Jimin smiles faintly. Jungkook is too big for the couch, and his feet dangle off the end of it. He he has a blanket and a pillow, which is a good sign, means Taehyung hadn’t been too drunk to look after him.

“Did you have a good night?” Jimin asks softly, taking another step closer to the couch. That one extra step is all it takes for his smile to fade altogether. He can see Jungkook’s face more clearly now. And the closer Jimin gets to Jungkook, the colder he feels.

“Jimin.” Jungkook’s voice breaks, and Jimin stops in his tracks, no more than two strides away from him. From this distance, Jimin can see the reason why Jungkook’s eyes are shining. They aren’t just shining because of the way the moonlight reflects in them. His eyes are shining with tears. “Jimin, promise me.”

Jimin is kneeling down at the edge of the couch before he even knows what he’s doing, panic flashing through him as he watches a tear slip out of the corner of Jungkook's eye.

“Promise?” Jimin echoes, confusion and fear hitting him like a wall. “What do you mean?” He tries not to sound frantic, tries to keep his voice steady and calm, but Jungkook is crying. Why is he crying?

“Just promise me you’ll always do what makes you happy.” Jungkook swallows audibly. “No matter what.”

Jimin shakes his head, failing to understand. “Jungkook, I don’t–”

“Please, Jimin.” There’s desperation in his words, and Jimin feels so stupid and so helpless as he watches more tears pool in those eyes of his.

Jungkook is drunk, Jimin knows that, and he doesn’t know if Jungkook will even remember any of this in the morning. But Jimin will. He’ll remember, he won’t ever be able to forget the way Jungkook’s eyes glisten with tears, won’t be able to forget the broken rasp in his voice.

“Promise.” Jungkook pleads. He holds up his pinky finger, offering it to Jimin. “Jimin, promise me.”

"I–" Swallowing the lump in his throat, Jimin reaches out to link Jungkook’s pinky with his own. He knows Jungkook won’t stop begging him until he does. “I promise.” Jimin whispers.

That’s all it takes– Jungkook seems satisfied with that. He doesn’t say anything else. He lets go of Jimin’s pinky, and Jimin watches Jungkook's eyelids flutter shut, watches as Jungkook falls asleep with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes.

Jimin returns to his own bedroom in a daze, feeling more lost than he’s ever felt before. He doesn't know how he falls asleep, but eventually, sleep takes him. 

 

Things are usually better in the mornings. But not today. Not this morning.

When Jimin wakes up, he walks out to find that Jungkook is already gone. The only evidence that he was even there in the first place is the neatly folded blanket on the couch, and the pillow sitting on top of it.

And for some reason, that’s what finally breaks Jimin.

He’s crying before he even knows what’s happening, hot tears stinging the back of his eyes one second, only to roll down his cheeks the next. He doesn’t know what to do, because he doesn’t know how he feels.

Jimin doesn’t know. He feels so many things, too many things, and he hates it. He wishes he could shut it all off, wishes he could just stop feeling and stop thinking for one goddamn second, but he can't.  

Taehyung comes out of his bedroom a little while later, all messy haired and bleary eyed. “Morning.” He yawns. “Did Jungkook leave–” Taehyung cuts himself short, eyes widening as they finally take in the scene in front of him, and he's at Jimin’s side before Jimin can let out his first real sob.

“What’s wrong?” Taehyung questions, pulling Jimin into his arms, and Jimin's entire body shudders with a sob as Taehyung holds him close. 

“I don’t know, Tae. I don’t know.” Jimin chokes out, fingers desperately clinging to the fabric of his shirt, finally letting it all out. “I don’t know what to do.”