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the ink of our hearts

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When Namjoon’s phone chimes with a notification, he almost falls on his face trying to get to it, feet skidding over the tiled floor of the shop. It’s a good thing he doesn’t have a client right now, but then again, he does have the presence of mind to turn his phone to silent when he’s working on someone.

The work he does is indelible and extremely special, and he’s not going to cheapen it - or his art - by half-assing it.

Still, he reaches the reception desk and grabs his phone, ignoring the knowing look Hoseok throws his way. Hoseok is playing solitaire on the shop’s ancient computer, but he seems more interested in Namjoon’s phone.

“Is it him again?” he asks, and Namjoon makes a noise, nodding, but his eyes don’t leave his phone as he unlocks it and loads Instagram.

Truly, he feels kinda stupid to be this anxious and eager to see the new post, but he can’t help it. The guy has a terrible username - bbunjjkoo97 - but always posts the best pictures Namjoon has ever seen. They’re - works of art, really.

He never shows his face and never puts his name, which Namjoon can understand, as tattoos in Korea are still kinda taboo, still surrounded by stigma, and bbunjjkoo97 is covered in them. Seems to Namjoon that the guy is some kind of collector, regularly adding new pieces and posting on Instagram about it.

This time, though, it’s an old one. Namjoon has seen this tattoo before, the dragon curling around a firm shoulder and slithering down, the mouth of the creature opened around a dark, pebbled nipple. The picture today seems intended to showcase the tattoo as much as it is the silk of the shirt bbunjjkoo97 is wearing, a deep navy blue that looks almost purple in some ripples of the fabric. There might be a filter on the picture but Namjoon doesn’t care, not when he can spend a solid two minutes staring at the perfect tiny bud of bbunjjkoo97’s nipple, the way his shirt is just falling off of his shoulder, the way his collarbone juts out flawlessly in a line of bone under the ink that Namjoon traces with his finger, unthinking.

He sighs softly, and Hoseok tsks. “Just DM him and say you’re an artist that’d love to tattoo him, Joonie-yah,” he says, and Namjoon makes a strangled noise under his breath.

“I’m not that desperate! I just like his choices, that’s all.”

“You want your hands and your ink all up on this skin, don’t lie to yourself. You’ll regret not offering.”

Namjoon grunts; maybe he will, but he’ll deal with the consequences himself. “Whatever. I’ve got to set up for my next client. If Taehyung shows up —”

Hoseok waves a hand around, interrupting Namjoon. “Show him to the back, yeah, yeah, I know.”

With a nod, Namjoon retreats to his station, phone in his pocket. “And don’t forget to order more transfer paper!”

;;

“One more, Jungkook-ah, and you’re clear for the day,” Seokjin says gently from his position, hovering above Jungkook, who’s lying on the table. Seokjin’s got Jungkook’s left foot in his hand, his left leg raised in the air, and Jungkook braces for when Seokjin starts pushing, his muscles screaming after the strenuous training.

Jungkook rolls his eyes. “You just like to torture me,” he says, flexing his toes. Seokjin grins.

“Of course I do.”

Jungkook snorts this time, a smile on his lips. It’s still hard for them sometimes to maintain a sense of professionalism, because they’re friends outside of work and have been for a very long time, since before Seokjin retired from playing professionally himself.

They played different sports, but they were still close, having met by chance at a charity event when Jungkook was just emerging as a pitching prodigy and Seokjin was a second-line forward for the Halla.

Fast forward quite a few years, and here they are. Jungkook’s star has only risen, while Seokjin suffered multiple injuries and had to retire. Fortunately, he found a new career, and Jungkook had been quick to push for Seokjin to be hired to the Heroes’ PT team.

It didn’t help their relationship at first, the sudden imbalance between them. But they’d gotten over it.

“Want to go for dinner with me?” Seokjin asks, pushing Jungkook’s leg closer to his chest, tutting lightly. “Don’t bend your knee.”

Jungkook grunts, but breathes through the discomfort. “Can’t do dinner, got a session tonight,” he says through clenched teeth. Seokjin sighs.

“You really have a pain kink. Also, if you’re going to do that, you should be eating first.”

With a little smile, Jungkook shrugs. “Stop frowning, you’ll get wrinkles.”

Seokjin scoffs, finally letting go of Jungkook’s leg, which drops back to the table with a thunk, Jungkook groaning. Seokjin brings his hands back to Jungkook’s calf to massage the sore muscles. “Have you looked at this face? Wrinkles look at this face and think ‘no, even we can’t ruin this masterpiece’.”

Jungkook laughs “Okay, hyung. Are you done torturing me yet?”

Seokjin slaps him on the calf. “Get off my table, you brat.”

;;

Opening a tattoo studio wasn’t exactly easy. You can’t be legal without having a medical license in South Korea, and it’s not exactly a field that many med students think about going into. But Namjoon’s nothing if not determined.

Sure, his parents aren’t happy with him, and he’s sort of a pariah in his family, the one they like to gossip and whisper about whenever he comes home. His sister keeps him up to date with the most outrageous stuff. But he loves his job, his loves his art, he loves the people he works with and the family he’s found for himself, and he makes decent money.

It isn’t the dream he’d always had. But it’s the life he’s made now, and he likes it. He likes it a lot.

;;

Jungkook gets his first tattoo at 18, on a whim. His parents wouldn’t have approved, Seokjin wouldn’t have approved, hell, even his brother wouldn’t have approved, but Jungkook doesn’t care. He gets this tattoo of a baseball, it’s not even a good one, and he knows it’s stupid, and he doesn’t care, because it’s important to him.

That’s how it starts.

;;

The next update from bbunjjkoo97 is sun-drenched, and… pretty naked. Well, Namjoon has no idea if he’s naked or not, but what he can see in the picture is a hint of a hipbone, some swimming shorts, and a thigh tattoo that sprouts out of them, a bunch of inky, dense tentacles that wrap around bbunjjkoo97’s thigh. His skin looks golden and it’s a bright, bright, bright picture - Namjoon doesn’t even think there’s a filter on it. The tattoo is black and white, detailed, and Namjoon might spend quite a bit of time just staring at the picture, as he tends to do.

And not just at the tattoo, either. He spends way too long tracing the line of the hipbone on show with his eyes, tongue pressed to his top lip. Bbunjjkoo97 is hairless, from what Namjoon can see, and he’s gorgeous, from what Namjoon knows.

It’s getting harder and harder to resist the temptation of contacting him.

;;

Jungkook goes to Malta for a vacation, spends 20 hours on a plane and lands in the sunniest island ever, even though it’s only March, and he tries to leave the apartment he rents for the week as little as possible. The issue with that is that he takes Jimin with him on his holiday, because he doesn’t like the idea of going alone, but Jimin wants to see shit, and drags Jungkook along all the time.

Jimin is Jungkook’s best friend, in a different way that Seokjin is Jungkook’s best friend. Jimin’s a gymnast, and the two of them found each other when they were both struggling with one of those things that has to stay well-hidden in the career they both chose: their sexuality. Both of them gay and unable to come out without burning their careers to the ground, they found solace and comfort in each other, blunting the edges of their respective loneliness.

Now, of course it means that they made out a few times, desperate and sometimes sad and sometimes happy, fucking elated. It doesn't stick because they work better as friends than anything else, and it's good like that, it's good to have someone to talk to when shit feels.... extra shitty. Which is often when you're a baseball player that has to pretend locker room jokes are funny just so you don't get shunned by your own teammates.

But this is how Jungkook ends up taking Jimin with him on his vacation to Malta, and how Jimin tries to go everywhere to absorb the culture and the history of old stones, or whatever. But at least there’s a pool on the roof deck of the apartment, and that’s more than enough for Jungkook to lounge a little, tan a little - although not his face, which he covers with a large bucket hat every time he steps foot outside. He takes a bunch of pictures for his Instagram, lets himself model for Jimin in impromptu photoshoots that grow more and more indecent as they go. Jimin models for him, too, of course, soaking up Jungkook’s praise as he poses against limestone walls in the streets of Valletta.

It’s a good vacation. Seokjin only calls once to check on him, and he doesn’t even talk about baseball.

 

;;

Namjoon can’t take it anymore. He looks at the picture - a forearm in the sunshine, propped against a wall, the tattoo of a dense forest starting at the wrist, the shades of grey and black giving the trees depth and detail. A hand is visible too, holding on to a Costa coffee cup, drop of water rolling down the heel of bbunjjkoo97’s palm down towards the tattoo.

Namjoon can’t do this anymore. He tells himself, fine! and goes to send bbunjjkoo97 a DM.

Hey,

My name’s Namjoon and I’m a tattoo artist based in Seoul. I think your ink’s really cool, and I just wanted to say, you know, if you ever want a new tat and you like what I do (there’s lots of pictures on my insta), we could meet up and discuss! I totally would slot you in for a tattoo

Thanks,
Namjoon

;;

Jungkook gets the message as he sits on a dusty hill at Ghar Ilma on Gozo, the night sky set alight by hundreds of paper lanterns. It’s very beautiful, and Jimin sighs wistfully next to him, his eyes full of wonder as he watches. They’re pressed shoulder to shoulder, comfortable as ever, Jungkook noisily chewing on a plastic straw from his latest iced drink. They’re set to fly back home tomorrow, but for tonight, it’s nice to witness something entirely removed from what they’re used to.

Which is partly why the message completely blindsides him. He immediately goes to the check Namjoon’s Instagram, sees the art displayed there, and completely loses track of time. Namjoon is good; how did Jungkook not know about him before?

“You’re missing it all,” Jimin says, but his voice is not exactly reproachful. It’s just matter-of-fact. Jungkook looks up, sheepish, and puts his phone away.

“Sorry.”

He still responds to the DM as soon as they’re back to their apartment for the night.

;;

Namjoon blinks at the notification that he’s got a message, his stomach twisting itself up in knots, and his heart beating right into his throat, like it needs to be a part of this. It could be a client, someone asking for info, it could be anyone but bbunjjkoo97, but Namjoon’s hands are sweaty and he can’t open his DMs, he can’t know for sure because what if.

Fuck, he’s really ridiculous and also in way, way over his head for a guy he doesn’t fucking know at all. The internal voice that scolds him sounds very much like Hoseok’s, and Namjoon forces himself to listen, and open the message.

;;

At work, Jungkook tends to hide his tattoos. Some of them he can’t, as much as he tries: the flock of birds he got done when he was just freshly 19 trails up to the heel of his palm and apart from wearing gloves everywhere, that one shows no matter what. He doesn’t really care, and in a way, it adds to his edgy image, but for the team’s sake, he always puts on a skin-tight, long-sleeved undershirt beneath his uniform when they’re playing.

But it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is to never, ever show his face on his Instagram, where he shows too much skin. He knows that some fans must have made a vague connection, but he tends to be very careful with what tattoos he shows on Instagram, and he’s careful not to appear on camera any less than fully clothed. He can deal with some conspiracy theories, and at the end of the day, he’s not exactly doing anything wrong.

But that means that even Namjoon doesn’t know what he looks like. Namjoon, with whom he’s started exchanging messages, planning a session together. Namjoon, into whose Instagram - professional and private - Jungkook has started deep-diving.

Jungkook will keep his secret until they meet.

;;

There’s a new picture, and Namjoon is in bed when bbunjjkoo97 uploads it, which, honestly, is a small mercy. It shows the back of bbunjjkoo97’s hip, a white shirt pulled up a little, rumpled around his side. His skin looks so soft, and the ink is so, so dark on it, Namjoon swallows with difficulty as he looks. The tattoo is a pretty simple one, a shooting star, but the trail of it starts low, low, low enough that the little dimple above bbunjjkoo97’s ass is showing, and Namjoon is pretty sure he’s not wearing underwear, or at least, he’s pulled it down for the picture. The trail keeps going all the way up to his hip, scattering over his skin like a constellation, and Namjoon’s stomach contracts, imagining himself bent over this patch of skin, hands steady as he presses the tattoo machine to that perfect expanse of skin.

He’d draw galaxies for bbunjjkoo97. He’d draw absolutely anything to have a chance to tattoo him, to touch him, to make his mark on that body, to be a part of this collection.

Of course, his treacherous brain doesn’t stop there, and next he knows Namjoon is imagining his lips instead of the tattoo machine.

Here he is, hard, in bed and with nothing better to do. He doesn’t exactly mean to jerk off to images on bbunjjkoo97’s Instagram, he really doesn’t, but - he swipes, from one picture to the next, from hipbones to biceps to nipples to the top of his spine, some messy brown hair showing, and Namjoon’s a goner. It’s not just that it’s a lot of skin, either, it’s - the tattoos, and how they complete each other and how they seem to tell a story, along with the captions bbunjjkoo97 leaves on his images, often quotes from books. It should be cheesy, but it usually suits the picture, and it’s quotes focused on photography, and Namjoon likes to think that bbunjjkoo97 maybe wears glasses, and maybe he’s a hipster, but he’s definitely hot.

Namjoon thinks of hands on his own body, covering his own tattoos. He’s seen bbunjjkoo97’s hands on some pictures, a finger or two appearing on the rare occasion, and he knows they’re long and thick and somehow delicate looking, and he imagines them pushing his hips down into the mattress, imagines a mouth sliding down his chest to his dick. He lets out a shuddering breath, barely feeling like he’s touching himself, completely gone on his fantasy.

He thinks about touching his skin, pressing his fingers into the dips and planes of his muscles, lets himself imagining tracing inked contours with his thumb, just to feel bbunjjkoo97 tremble under him. He imagines the way he laughs, and how he might talk about his photos, what kind of passion he has behind them.

Maybe it’s these kind of images that makes it so easy for Namjoon to come all over his own hand and chest, his mind going a mile a minute with images of a man he’s never even met, a man he’s never even seen the face of.

;;

Being an in-the-closet professional athlete means that Jungkook has - bad days, sometimes. He’s surprisingly mild-mannered most of the time, for someone who spends most of his waking hours with a bunch of macho dudes constantly locked in a dick-sizing contest, but there are days when he comes home and he just wants to smash something. Tear through his professionally-styled apartment, get really angry and shouty at how unfair everything is for someone like him, destined to stay locked away and hiding part of who he is for his whole career or face the consequences in a world that doesn’t want him to be free.

He’s found some coping mechanisms. There are nights where he heads down to the gym in his building and goes through hours of kickboxing, until his hands hurt and the rest of his body feels blissfully numb. There are nights he talks to Jimin about it, the only person who knows, who’ll sit with him and binge watch Men on a Mission with him and pretend the world doesn’t fucking suck while they cheat on their diets.

And then there’s the tattoos. Sometimes, the pain and anger he feels is a little too acute, a little too raw, and nothing but a physical counterpoint lets him forget about it. He has a few favored artists, people he knows and trusts, with whom he discusses designs and big picture ideas, and whenever he goes to one of them, it feels, in itself, a little like therapy. Tonight, Sion, the tattoo artist, is working to fill out colors of a traditional fan on the back of Jungkook’s arm, using a fat magnum needle to color in the fan slats in a dense black, leaving spaces for the bright, beautiful flowers to come next. Every time the needles sink into Jungkook’s arm, he sighs a little, breathing easier with each pass, scraped raw skin feeling like a way for him to cleanse the bad away.

He loses himself to the feeling, thoughts wandering. He thinks back to Namjoon, who he hasn’t yet met, but with whom he’s constantly texting. He wonders what it’d be like to be tattooed by Namjoon. Would it feel different than it does now?

Jungkook’s eyes drift closed, his whole body taken by the hum of the tattoo machine, Sion’s expert fingers pulling his skin taut, the needles pushing ink into his arm, the dry pass of the paper towel wiping off excess ink after. He doesn’t look, he doesn’t speak, just lets his eyes go half-closed, his body relaxing after a day full of stress. It’s probably strange, to a lot of people, that feeling pain like this could be a relief to anyone, but to Jungkook, it makes sense. It’s putting everything he buries deep inside right there on the surface, beading like the small drops of blood on his skin and being wiped away carefully with warm water and soap. It’s seeing the colors appear inside the drawn lines of the tattoo, violently bright red and butter-warm yellow and soothing green and attention-grabbing blue, like so many of the things he wants to be able to say in the locker room, so many feelings he’s got tucked away in his chest.

The tattoo appearing bit by bit on his skin is a map of all these things he has to hide, loud and proud and hurting sometimes. And like that, he builds up his armor, one piece at a time, protecting the mess of feelings inside with an interpretation of them all over his body.

Sure, he has to hide them most of the time. Under suits for press conferences, under his uniform for games. But there are moments where he can let it out, let it all out, in secret and never revealing who he is, but. It feels like a breath, whenever he posts a picture on his Instagram account.

;;

“You know, hyung, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were lovesick,” Taehyung says, waving his chopsticks around as he speaks. His beret sits a little askew on his - today, seafoam green - hair, his muddy brown cardigan a little baggy on his frame. And yet, he looks completely put together, like he belongs in his outfit, in this exact configuration, and Namjoon believes in it.

They’re having a quick lunch of barbecue from Yoongi’s hole-in-the-wall, just down the street from the tattoo parlor, and Namjoon has been talking about bbunjjkoo97’s latest post for the past five minutes, so he can’t quite refute Taehyung’s words. Also, there’s the fact that his phone is full of messages between him and bbunjjkoo97, messages that have been going on since they exchanged numbers, a fact he’s not going to reveal to Taehyung.

“I don’t even know what his face looks like,” Namjoon responds into his lettuce wrap, before pushing it into his mouth.

Taehyung snorts. “So? Doesn’t matter. I was in love with a ghost, once.”

This - this is the kind of thing that Taehyung says, completely serious, completely nonchalantly. The kind of thing that you, sometimes, just take at face value, because it’s Taehyung, and he is the most earnest person Namjoon’s ever met, and he only lies when he’s trying to win at a game.

Namjoon blinks owlishly, leaning his head a fraction forward. “Like, conceptually, or -”

“You remember when I was subletting this attic room from the old lady in Itaewon? I shared it with a ghost. He had the most poetic soul.”

Taehyung’s eyes have taken that faraway look he sometimes gets when he’s working hard on a piece, or when he’s thinking about Yoongi, so Namjoon doesn’t dare to play it off as a joke. It feels cruel, especially if Taehyung believes it, despite Namjoon’s own beliefs.

“Anyway,” he says out loud, eating some rice. “You think it’s - okay?”

Taehyung shrugs. “I doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen his face, hyung. You’re talking to him like, all the time lately. And you’re talking about him even more. You definitely think about him a lot. Is it healthy? I don’t know. But plenty of people have started relationships on a lot less, otherwise Tinder wouldn’t exist.”

“Tinder isn’t for relationships, Taehyung.”

Taehyung looks up from his bowl, an eyebrow raised. “Says who?”

Namjoon has no response for that, so he shrugs, and keeps eating.

;;

Jungkook is nervous about meeting Namjoon for the first time. Here he is, he’s admitted it to himself, which is a first step to eventually finally daring to go down the steps to Namjoon’s basement studio. It’s a little side street in Hongdae, not quite as busy as the main street, still full of people shopping, even now that the sun is down and the hour is ticking towards late.

Jungkook has a consultation towards the end of the working hours for the tattoo parlor, in hopes that he’ll be the last one in. He’s shoved his hair into a messy bun that’s currently covered by the hood of his sweatshirt. A face mask, long sleeves, and dark skinny jeans conceal most of him as he paces the street, looking like a shadow in the descending night. Eventually, because he runs out of excuses to keep pacing, he goes down the stairs to the tattoo parlor, disappearing into the hidden hallway that crosses under buildings to join the next alleyway.

Hidden there is the door to Namjoon’s tattoo parlor. It’s nondescript, as these places tend to be, but when Jungkook steps inside, he’s immediately blinded by how bright it is, ceiling fixtures flooding the main room with sunshine-like light. It makes him blink, tilting his head up and squinting for a second before he adjusts, taking in the room. Most tattoo parlors like to go with the same aesthetic: dark walls, pictures of completed tattoos in frames, leather couches. Something that feels smokey and illicit. But this studio?

This studio isn’t like that. Two of the walls are entirely covered in a huge mural that starts behind the reception desk and courses throughout the whole side of the studio, wrapping around doorframes, depicting a huge wave and dipping under the water, marine life taking over by the end of the mural on the other side of the shop. It’s gorgeous, too, detailed and precise without trying to be photo-realistic. Jungkook is awed, trying to take in the whole thing, without missing the rest of the interior design going on, all clean, sharp lines, light colors.

It’s the complete antithesis to what he’s used to, but he likes it. Somehow, it fits the Namjoon he’s beginning to know, the idea of him in his own head. He pushes his hood off of his head as he looks at the art, spinning slowly with his eyes wide and his heart feeling like it’s lodged in his throat.

“Hello there, can I help you?”

The voice makes Jungkook startle, turning towards the reception desk and the guy behind it, all sunshine and a heart-shaped smile as he looks at Jungkook. Out of habit, Jungkook pushes his hat further over his head, obscuring his face. “I have a consultation, with Kim Namjoon? Name’s JK.”

The guy's smile, somehow, grows even bigger in size. Jungkook feels like no one should be able to smile that big, but at the same time, the expression is so genuine that Jungkook finds himself relaxing as he smiles back behind his mask.

"Yes, of course. Do you want a drink? I'll tell Namjoon-ah you're here."

"No, thanks, I'm good," Jungkook replies softly, and the guy nods, before slipping out from behind the desk and through one of the doorframes. Jungkook stands, despite taking note of the couches, in the middle of the reception area, hands in his pockets and eyes still on the mural, picking up more and more details as he goes. He can hear voices coming from the back, but he resists peeking, trying not to let his nerves take over.

Thumping footsteps, more voices - sounding distinctly harried, and then Jungkook looks up to the guy from reception again, followed by two other guys, all bundled up.

"Nam-" The syllable is followed by a soft growl coming from past the doorframe, far enough that Jungkook can't see. “We can stay if you want!”

"Let it go, Hoseok-hyung. He said he'd lock up, so let him. Oh, hello," the tall guy says, at first to reception guy - Hoseok, apparently - and then to Jungkook, when their eyes meet.

Jungkook bows, trying to ignore the way the other guy - the small one - is looking at him, like he's assessing something. He might be recognizing Jungkook, which happens regularly, but is still awkward anyway. Jungkook averts his eyes, knowing that doing so is suspicious, but he's not quite sure how he'd feel if he found himself having to suddenly sign an autograph while in the middle of a tattoo parlor. Imagine if the guy asks him to sign his arm or something, and got it tattooed?

"Hello," Jungkook replies to the greeting, tugging his hood over his head again. The tall guy smiles bright.

“You’re here to see Namjoon-hyung, right? I work here too, I’m Taehyung! And this is Yoongi-hyung, he owns the restaurant just upstairs!”

Jungkook just - nods, a little overwhelmed. He can’t help but feel sort of relieved when said Yoongi pushes Taehyung towards the door.

"C'mon, I promised you meat."

They start moving, but Yoongi gives Jungkook another long look with a frown on his face, and Hoseok stops for a second in front of him.

"Namjoon will be right with you. Sorry about those two," he says, gesturing to the two now leaving the shop. Jungkook shrugs, smiles, trying to calm his rabbit-fast heart.

"No need to apologize. Thank you."

"Of course. Hope the consultation goes well!" Hoseok says, before he's walking out as well, jogging away to meet with the other two. The little bell dangles as the door opens and closes, leaving Jungkook alone again in the front room of the parlor.

Only for a moment, though, because it's like Namjoon waits for the others to leave before he shows his face, walking through to the front of the shop, looking tall and broad shouldered and fuck, really, really hot. He's wearing what looks like a cardigan Jungkook's granddad would wear on top of a white t-shirt and holey jeans, and his hair is bleached platinum, and Jungkook is struck dumb for a moment, just staring at him.

He pulls his mask down with a hand and swallows hard, forcing himself to focus. They stare at each other for a moment longer, before Namjoon seems to physically shake himself out of it, stepping closer and extending a hand.

"JK-ssi, right? I'm Kim Namjoon."

Jungkook shakes his hand. He doesn't believe in love at first sight and stuff like that, that's Jimin's area of expertise. He doesn't believe you can feel sparks when you touch someone for the first time, but he could swear he feels a shiver of electricity between the two of them as they shake hands. Namjoon chuckles. "Ah, sorry, static."

Jungkook flushes. Of course, static, not some kind of sign from above, or whatever. Get a grip, Jungkook. He pulls back, his smile feeling a little tight. "It's nice to finally meet you, Namjoon-ssi."

"Ah, please, can we abscond with the formalities?"

A part of Jungkook relaxes, and so does his smile. He nods, minutely. "Yeah, yeah. Of course. Hyung."

Namjoon smiles, and then motions to one of the couches. The two of them sitting facing each other. When he smiles, Namjoon gets dimples, and that - that is devastating knowledge for one Jeon Jungkook, who didn't even consider the fact that Namjoon could potentially be hot before they met, and is now faced with the consequences of his oversight.

“Sorry about my friends, by the way. I thought it might be better if we - we were alone.”

Namjoon rubs his palms over his jeans, like he’s nervous, and Jungkook’s eyes follow the moves, his lips parting a tiny bit when he realize just how much thigh there is here, Namjoon is tall and big and tan and there are holes in his jeans that Jungkook imagines slipping his fingers into -

“JK?”

Jungkook startles, inhaling sharply as he looks back up, flushing. “Oh, sorry. Um. Sorry.”

Namjoon, surprisingly, chuckles. His fingers are digging into his knees. “So… strange, right?”

Jungkook runs a hand over the back of his neck, his cheeks still red as he laughs along. “Yeah. It’s cool, though. I saw your work, you’re - really talented.”

Namjoon flushes too. It’s cute. God, Jungkook needs to stop thinking that.

“Thank you. I’m honored you’d consider me, you know? The art you’ve been getting… Gorgeous. Hard to get, too. You’ve got some from Lazygarden, don’t you?”

Jungkook nods, pulling his sleeve to reveal the dark forest that encircles his wrist. From up close, it’s all dot work. “Yeah, this one. You recognized it?”

“I love tattoos,” Namjoon replies, a little dreamily, as he stares at Jungkook’s arm. Jungkook grins.

“Yeah. Me too.”

;;

Namjoon feels like he might be losing it. Before meeting bbunjjkoo97 - JK - in the flesh, he’d absolutely built him up in his own head, of course. He’d imagined someone young and maybe a little childish, because of the username. He’d expected someone a little pretentious - like Namjoon himself could be, he knew. He sort of expected him to be hot, just because that fueled the fantasies he’d been having about bbunjjkoo97.

Namjoon, however, had not expected JK to be someone so earth-shatteringly beautiful that your hands get sweaty just looking at him. He’d expected that, to keep things fair, JK would have been gifted with an extraordinary body, but an average face. That is not what JK has. No, JK has one of the best faces Namjoon has ever seen in his life.

And since meeting him, Namjoon can’t stop thinking about him. About his bunny smile and his bright eyes and the way he scrunched up his face when he laughed and the sound of his laugh and his big nose and his obvious interest in everything Namjoon had to say and and and -

Namjoon is losing it. Somehow, during their first meeting, he managed to keep himself in check, but since they parted ways he has been completely unable to stop thinking about JK, and it’s getting ridiculous. He hasn’t dared to check Instagram, even after getting notifications, because he isn’t totally sure he won’t spiral if he does.

“Earth to Namjoon-ah? Namjoon-ah, come in!”

Namjoon blinks, wrenched from his thoughts by Hoseok’s voice. He looks at his friend, who’s leaning over the reception desk, chin in his hand, heart-shaped smile at full blast.

“What were you thinking about, Joon-ah?”

“Work,” Namjoon lies, looking down at his sketchbook.

“Yeah? Work for a gorgeous young guy with killer abs, maybe?”

“I wasn’t thinking about his abs.”

“Oh, of course you weren’t. You didn’t say anything about it, though, how did it go? The consult?”

Namjoon puts his pen down, looking up at Hoseok properly. He adjusts his glasses, just as a little smile appears on his lips, dimples making an appearance. “It went well.”

The thing is, he and Hoseok know each other very well. And Hoseok knows all too well that Namjoon likes to process and analyze his feelings through his words, whether it’s when he’s writing songs or poems or just talking things out. So he waits. He stays right here, leaning against the desk, only moving to switch the song playing softly throughout the studio to another one, so EXID’s I Love You starts to play.

Namjoon gives in.

“It went really well. We talked a lot - about tattoos. He’s got work done by some huge names on the Seoul scene, the kind of names I want to be associated with, so. That’s cool. And he’s - he’s cool. He’s nice. Funny. A bit shy.”

“He’s beautiful, too,” Hoseok remarks, which makes Namjoon shrug, even if he entirely agrees.

“Yeah, he is. But that doesn’t matter, does it? I’m a professional. I’m not going to ogle him, that’d be creepy. He’s not the first hot guy I work with.”

Hoseok holds up a hand, smiling. “All right, all right. Forget I asked.”

;;

Jungkook’s known that he has to stay in the closet for the sake of his career for a long time, and most of the time, he has no desire to even come out to anyone, least of all his teammates, who are sure to treat him differently, if not outright cast him out.

But there are days where he feels flayed raw with the weight of what he’s not saying, the too-heavy armor he’s building himself thick, and yet not thick enough at the same time. Moments like right now, as he looks at the sketch of his upcoming tattoo Namjoon sent him in his DMs, all the while Seokjin is cooking ramen in Jungkook’s kitchen.

“You know you could help, right?”

Jungkook looks up from his phone, and at Seokjin instead, through the open door to the kitchen. Usually, he would have some quip, some teasing words for his hyung, but right now, he can’t. There’s nothing in his head other than the turmoil of having to hide such a huge part of who he is, even to Seokjin, whom he considers his brother. Seokjin is the one that kept Jungkook going when he was struggling in Seoul after he was drafted. He’s the one that’s always here to help, console, feed, and laugh along with Jungkook.

And yet Jungkook still hasn’t told him. He sits on his secret, huge and unwieldy, and pretends that he’s got nothing to hide from Seokjin, like he’s not terrified of his reaction. Seokjin, who tuts every time Jungkook comes home with a new tattoo, but always offers to help him with the aftercare. Seokjin, who sat by his side as he threw up after getting too drunk for the first time, handed him a toothbrush and a glass of water, and helped him out of his clothes to take a sobering shower. Seokjin, who whines and complains that he has to take care of Jungkook when he gets sick, but still does it. Seokjin, who takes him out for dinner regularly and always pays, despite Jungkook making more money than he does right now.

Seokjin is the best friend that Jungkook could ever ask for. And yet, as he looks at him with his stupid apron tied around his waist and his teasing look on his face, Jungkook feels seized by fear. What happens to him if he loses Seokjin?

Maybe it’s his silence, or the look on his face, Jungkook isn’t sure, but Seokjin’s smile falls after a moment. “Jungkook-ah? Is everything okay?”

“Hyung,” Jungkook says, his voice sounding weak. “Hyung, I’m gay,” he finally lets out, in a croak as the words squeeze past his heart in his throat.

For a heartbreaking moment, Seokjin doesn’t say anything. He turns around, walks back into the kitchen, putters around a little, and then walks out and over to Jungkook, who’s been making himself smaller and smaller on the couch, knees bent, feet against his thighs, arms wrapped around his ankles.

Seokjin kneels on the floor in front of Jungkook, and reaches out a hand to Jungkook’s hair, fingers carding through the messy strands. “Did you think I’d be angry?” he asks softly. He sounds a little hurt.

“I don’t know,” Jungkook replies honestly. He’s looking straight at Seokjin, eyes open wide. “I just know what I’ve always known, hyung. People’s attitude change once they know. Especially in sports. You’re my best friend, but I was scared. I’ve been scared. I am scared. But I’m sorry, Seokjin-hyung. I should have told you earlier.”

Seokjin lets out a frustrated noise in the back of his throat, and lets go of Jungkook’s hair to sit back on his heels. “This world sucks. Jungkook, I’m sorry,” he says suddenly, which startles Jungkook a little. He blinks, but Seokjin keeps going. “I understand why you didn’t say anything until now. I’m sorry that you have to hide part of who you are to keep being able to live the life you worked so hard for. The life you deserve to live.”

Jungkook doesn’t mean to cry. He doesn’t want to, but Seokjin says these things and the tears just rise up, and Jungkook barely realizes before they’re falling. He hugs his knees even closer to him as he opens his mouth, trying to say something but finding himself mute in the face of the sudden tears. He brushes them away with the heels of his hands, blowing out a breath as Seokjin chuckles weakly.

“Hey, Kookie-ah. You’ll always be safe with me, okay? Always.”

They’re not much for hugging each other, the two of them. But tonight, it’s the only thing that feels right, so Jungkook unfurls from the ball he made himself into and throws his arms around Seokjin, broad and safe and secure.

“Thank you, hyung.”

;;

“You!”

Namjoon looks up suddenly from the reception computer screen as the bell jingles over the tattoo parlor door, and Yoongi stomps in, boots loud against the hardwood floors. His eyes widen when he sees that Yoongi is pointing at him, and he looks mildly pissy.

Namjoon thinks back, reviewing the last few days. He doesn’t recall having done anything to warrant Yoongi’s ire. Not that he can tell. Did Taehyung do something and blame it on him? He can’t even go to the back and check, since Taehyung’s with a client.

Slowly, Namjoon raises a hand, and points at himself. “Me?”

“Yeah, you! I can’t believe you!”

Namjoon blinks slowly. “Have I done something, hyung?”

Yoongi scoffs, sounding extremely offended considering Namjoon has no idea what this is about. Usually, he can read Yoongi better than this, but for once, he is utterly lost.

“Have you ever. Have you!”

Seriously, Namjoon isn’t sure he’s ever seen Yoongi look this agitated. It’s worrying, and he’s about to say so when Yoongi barrels on.

“You didn’t tell me your client was Jeon Jungkook! Jeon fucking Jungkook, rising star pitcher of the Heroes! Jeon Jungkook!”

Namjoon blinks again, trying to parse the words into something that makes sense in his head. He’s not entirely clueless, but it takes him a second, before he drops his hand to the desk, surprise making his jaw slacken.

“Are you talking about JK?”

“The guy you had here the other night! The one Hoseok-ah says you have a crush on! He’s a huge deal!”

“I don’t -”

Yoongi waves his hand in the hair, shaking his head. “Oh, please, spare me. Do you really not know who he is?”

Namjoon shakes his head, knowing he must look slightly dumbfounded, and Yoongi steps closer, dropping down on the couch by the desk and looking up at Namjoon.

“He really is a baseball star, Joon-ah. Got drafted 3 years ago, and he’s one of the best in the league. He’s only going to get bigger, if he keeps going the way he is.”

Well.

Namjoon doesn’t reply right away, taking a moment to process what he’s just been told. To him, it doesn’t change anything; he’s not a sports fan, and what JK does in his professional life doesn’t really impact what Namjoon thinks anyway. But now, the secrecy around the Instagram account makes even more sense than before. If he’s a public figure, no wonder he doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s posting artful-but-sometimes-pretty-scandalous pictures of himself on the internet.

It doesn’t matter, is basically what Namjoon is getting at.

“Okay,” he ends up replying to Yoongi, his tone neutral. Yoongi groans.

“I can’t believe you!”

“Did you really think I’d know? Have you ever seen me watch sports?”

Yoongi takes a moment to reply, like he’s trying to think back on a time when he saw Namjoon anywhere near a sporting event, and then hums softly. “Yeah, okay, fair. But. Hey, now you know.”

“Cool,” Namjoon replies, as yet unsure about what exactly he plans to do with the knowledge. Honestly? Probably nothing, not at long as JK doesn’t supply the information himself. As it is, he hasn’t, so maybe he wants to lead a double life, or he just doesn’t want to talk about it, and that’s fine. That’s something Namjoon can respect.

With a little huff, Yoongi sits up, looking over towards the back rooms. “I guess you won’t ask for an autograph for me, huh?” Yoongi, after all, knows Namjoon very well. Namjoon shrugs, but it’s fond, and the two of them then share a smile, before Yoongi claps his hands on his knees. “Anyway, where’s Taehyungie? I’m starving!”

There’s a noise coming from the back room, louder than the faint buzz of the tattoo machine, and Namjoon chuckles.

“He’ll be done soon. Hey, would you bring me back some bunggeoppang, hyung?”

Yoongi sighs, long-suffering, but nods. Namjoon gives him a sunny smile.

;;

“Okay, well, you know the drill, right? Let me know if you get uncomfortable or you need a break,” Namjoon says, and JK nods, his smile disappearing for a second when he takes off his shirt, which.

Namjoon has seen multiple pictures of that chest, but it doesn’t make it any less impactful to see it in front of his face, in real life. He focuses on getting the stencil ready instead of staring at JK - he’s not going to be unprofessional, he’s seen and touched a multitude of chests before, it’ll be fine, he can handle this.

Sure, he’s never tattooed someone he kind of has a crush on. But he is a professional. After cutting the stencil, he turns back to JK, forcing himself to look into his big eyes.

“Alright, so - you want this on your side, right?”

It’s a constellation - stylised stars and space themed tattoos are kind of Namjoon’s thing, the reason why he’s gotten some buzz in the community, what he’s known for, and he’s glad that JK wants to lean into what Namjoon is best at. He wants to give him his best work.

So it’s a constellation, one that Namjoon will work around with a mix of watercolor and negative space, and he’s pretty excited. It means he’s got to work freehand, too, which is a show of trust from JK that’s genuinely flattering.

“Yeah. A little towards the front,” JK replies, motioning to the area, and Namjoon nods, coming close to move the stencil around.

“Yeah?” He asks when he’s got it where he thinks JK wants it, and JK nods. Namjoon puts the stencil in position and dampens it, peeling the paper off after transfer. He bites on the inside of his lip as he looks at the placement, crouching in front of JK. At least, in moments like these, he’s completely focused on the work and what he’s doing, he barely thinks twice about the fact that he’s face to face with JK’s hip, fingers on the waistband of his sweatpants. “Okay, then let me delimit the rest of it,” he mutters, drawing a loose, faint outline to the tattoo, the size they’ve discussed before for the galaxy watercolor design. Once he’s happy, he stands and motions to the full length mirror in the room.

“Check it out, let me know,” he says firmly, letting JK have a look and setting up his station, picking out the needles he’ll need and the colors he wants to use - it’s a whole array, as he wants to create depth and contrast.

“Looks good, yeah,” JK says from beside him after a beat, and Namjoon nods, before patting the tattoo chair.

“Cool, then hop up. On your back for now, we’ll see later if we’ve got to turn you to your side,” Namjoon replies, snapping on gloves.

He sets up his tattoo machine as JK gets situated, making sure everything is wrapped up right, then puts down his inks. “Oh, hey, you got a preference on music?” He asks as he measures one, two, three drops of midnight blue in a tiny plastic container.

Jungkook hums. “I’m easy,” he replies, and Namjoon looks up to see him relaxing in the chair, hands on his stomach. Namjoon can’t help the way he licks his lips, but goes back to setting up his station, finishing that up before he quickly and efficiently shaves the tattoo area, even though it looks completely smooth.

Namjoon settles into the routine of getting everything set. He picks music, some lo-fi beats reverberating through the room, he cleans up everything that needs to be, and then he finally can get started. He smoothes on a layer of moisturizing cream on JK’s hip first, and then flicks his tattoo machine on with his foot pedal.

“You ready?”

“I’m ready,” JK replies with a grin, and Namjoon smiles right back, nodding.

He gets to work, pulling his headlamp close as he leans over Jungkook’s hip, starting with the swirl pattern in the middle of the constellation stencil. The second the needles press into JK’s skin, Namjoon hears him make the softest little noise, and his eyes flick up to see JK’s eyes closed, but not in pain, he’s not wincing - if anything, he’s smiling even bigger than before.

Namjoon loves this moment. He loves the moment where he starts working on someone new, a fresh canvas of sorts; he loves learning what makes people tense and what makes them relax, loves learning if they like to chat, if they’re nervous, if they’re calm. He loves, beyond everything, to see a design start to appear on someone’s skin, to work on something that his client can be proud of later.

After a moment, Namjoon looks up at JK’s face, only to see him looking right back, eyes curious as he watches the design. Namjoon leans back a little.

“You like it so far?”

“Hm?” The noise is a little startled, a little dazed. JK’s eyes lift up to Namjoon’s, and they’re a little glassy. He blinks, before nodding. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, it looks really cool.”

Namjoon grins, wetting a paper towel and running it over the tattoo in progress, wiping off the excess ink to get a better view before he gets back to work. “I’ll leave the constellation as negative space, aside from the stars, when I do the white. You’re doing okay?”

At that, JK nods. “All good. You can keep going.”

So Namjoon nods, and does. He loses himself in it; in the design he’s working on over JK’s skin, in the steady whirr of the tattoo machine, in the rhythm of the music playing in the background. He focuses on the splash of color starting to spread over JK’s side, pulling the skin taut as he moves the needles in long drags.

He’s so focused he loses track of time for awhile, only checking the clock when he’s switching colors or needles, and every time he does, fifteen to twenty minutes have passed, and JK stays quiet and relaxed, only moving his hands from time to time, sighing like he’s pleased. Namjoon glances up after finishing a swirl, only to pause, tattoo machine in the air by his side, his eyes glued to JK’s crotch and the bulge there, his jeans not really hiding the fact that he’s apparently hard.

Namjoon’s a professional, and this isn’t the first time that one of his clients has popped an accidental boner while getting tattooed, but it’s the first time that he finds himself licking his lips as he stares, wondering what it’d be like to reach out and touch. Which is an extremely unprofessional reaction, so Namjoon shakes his head, scratching his throat, and the noise makes JK’s eyes fly open, hands immediately dropping to his crotch as he blushes deeply.

“Shit, I’m - this doesn’t usually -”

Namjoon lifts his free hand and shakes his head. “No, no, it’s fine, don’t worry about it. It happens.”

“Not to me,” JK says a little darkly, and Namjoon presses his lips together, trying to keep himself from smiling, something a little prideful blossoming in his chest. If this doesn’t happen regularly, or at least as JK says, then it might be a little because of him, because of Namjoon, and not just the tattoo. And that? That’s a little kernel of something that Namjoon is going to cradle close and allow to keep him warm at night as he looks through JK’s Instagram.

“It’s really okay,” Namjoon repeats. If only JK knew the way he’d made Namjoon get hard, too…

Nope. Not going there, definitely not now. It’s unprofessional and frankly, not something Namjoon is proud of.

“D’you want a break?”

JK seems to hesitate for a moment, before he nods, and Namjoon pushes the tattoo machine pedal, turning it off for now. Then he stretches his arms above his head and stands up.

“Okay, cool. I’m going to stretch my legs then, give you a minute, yeah? D’you want some snacks?”

JK looks up at Namjoon, his hands still cupped over his crotch. His eyes are all big, and he looks more innocent in that moment than Namjoon expected him to ever do, considering the awkward boner, the shirtlessness, and the tattoos.

“Honey twist crisps?”

Namjoon grins. “You got it.”

;;

After all that, after Jungkook calms down and Namjoon comes back, they resume the session, and both of them pretend nothing weird happened.

Because, in a way, nothing weird happened. But it’s weird for Jungkook, who has never popped a boner during a tattoo session before. Jungkook can’t help but think that it’s because for the first time ever, he is really attracted to his artist, and he let himself get so relaxed under Namjoon’s precise touch that it had just… happened.

He’s kind of mortified by it, really. He doesn’t ever get hard in the dressing room, even though it’s full of guys walking around with their dicks and asses out. But put him under the hands of Kim Namjoon, this gorgeous man with incredible skills and cute dimples and coke bottle glasses and tattoos snaking up his arms? Jungkook wants to see them, explore them, see how high and how far they go over Namjoon’s body, he wants to see them all and have Namjoon tell him how and why he got them.

And maybe that’s why he got hard during their session. It’s not just the tattooing, it’s the artist doing it, it’s the freedom to completely let go of his usual hang-ups as Namjoon draws on Jungkook’s body. It’s all these images and desires and - damn, if he lets himself think about it all too much again, he’s going to be right back to having the same predicament as the other day.

A couple of weeks have passed since his first session, and the first part of the tattoo has been healing nicely, if stretching uncomfortably during practice, nothing Jungkook can’t handle. And now he’s back in Namjoon’s tattoo parlor, ready for session number two, thinking things over while Namjoon putters around, getting ready.

The thing is - the thing is that Jungkook, almost 22, a superstar of South Korean baseball, nicknamed Kingkook by some fans? Has virtually no sexual experience whatsoever. It’s never been at the forefront of his mind as he grew up, too focused on sports, making it big, being the best. And after that, he had to stay in the closet. Random one-night stands with strangers weren’t worth his career, and he didn’t have time to develop relationships. Aside from Jimin, but he’s never had that kind of relationship with Jimin, not really.

So he’s an almost-22 superstar virgin getting awkward boners because the guy he has a crush on touched him. It’s embarrassing.

But he’s not going to let that get in the way of him getting his tattoo completed. So he’s back in the studio, hands braced on either side of the chair, his shoulder blades sticking to the leather, but he’s nowhere near as relaxed as he’d like to be, staring straight up at the ceiling, breathing in a controlled, rhythmic way.

“Hey, you okay?”

Namjoon’s voice takes him by surprise, and Jungkook startles, blinking as he turns his head to see Namjoon looking back at him, a slight frown on his face. “You’re very tense.”

Jungkook blushes. “Yeah, I’m okay,” he says softly, and Namjoon raises an eyebrow. He doesn’t make a move to grab his tattoo machine, just waits Jungkook out, maybe either to tell him he’s ready for the session to start, or to start talking about what’s on his mind.

Jungkook bites down on his bottom lip, rolls it between his teeth for a moment, flexing his fingers into the leather of the chair.

“I really am fine,” he says finally. “It’s just. I don’t know. I can’t relax today.”

Namjoon hums softly. “You don’t have to tell me what’s on your mind, JK,” he replies, giving Jungkook an out.

But Jungkook inhales, shaking his head. “Jungkook. My name’s Jungkook.”

When he looks back, he sees that Namjoon is smiling. “Yeah, I know. My friend told me who you are. You’d rather I call you Jungkook?”

It strikes Jungkook then, that Namjoon knows, he’s been told, and yet he’s kept going with the name Jungkook gave him. It’s respectful, and it makes Jungkook’s heart feel a little funny.

“I wouldn’t mind.”

Namjoon’s smile grows, his dimples showing as he hangs his head for a second, chuckling to himself. Jungkook isn’t sure why what he said was funny, but his heart just keeps tumbling in his chest at the sight, which surprises him. It feels so completely new, but he has to admit that it’s not just about the fact that Namjoon is more than just beautiful.

“You know, I feel like I already know you. Or at least, I know JK. Sure, it’s very surface level, but maybe that’s why when Yoongi told me who you were, it almost felt like a disconnect. But I wouldn’t mind getting to know Jungkook, too.”

Yeah. Definitely more than just beautiful. Jungkook’s breath is caught in his throat, and he sits up, curling his hands together on his lap as he looks at Namjoon.

“I’d like that, too. They’re not that different, really, JK and Jungkook. It’s just… there’s a lot I can’t say, or show, as Jungkook.”

Namjoon seems to consider that for a moment, before he looks up. “Would you be willing to share some of the things he can’t say? However much you want.”

It doesn’t take Jungkook nearly as long to reply. “Yeah.”

The smile on Namjoon’s face is softer now, his eyes disappearing a little. His hair looks soft. “So what if we went for lamb skewers after this? My treat.”

That - sounds like a date. Jungkook’s heart jumps a little.

“Yeah, okay. I’d like that.”

;;

“My friend Taehyung thinks that we capture little pieces of our soul in every tattoo we get. That’s why he takes so much care in every tattoo he designs, but doesn’t have one himself,” Namjoon says after swallowing a piece of lamb, twirling the skewer in between his fingers. Next to the both of them, the grill is going, the mechanism moving the cooking skewers along, and between them, there’s a whole arrangement of sauces and side dishes.

Pays to be friends with the owner of the restaurant.

“Is he scared?” Jungkook asks, his face looking a little flushed in the dim lights of the restaurant. Namjoon grins.

“I don’t know, maybe. He can be a little peculiar, but it’s just one of the many reasons I love him. And - there’s something interesting about that, isn’t there? That every tattoo we get holds a part of us.”

Jungkook seems to consider that, looking down at his hands on the table. His sleeves are down, and he’s mostly covered up at this point, which Namjoon knows now is his default whenever he’s in public. So many people get tattoos to flaunt them, show them off, but Jungkook doesn’t get to do that, outside of the anonymity of his Instagram.

“I like to think that’s true, too. At least, to an extent. I like to think of my tattoos as a way to show myself, without showing myself. You know? And in a way, it’s like they keep me safe, too. They tell a story that only I know, but they tell it. And because they do, I don’t feel the need to say much of it out loud.”

Namjoon doesn’t eat as he listens to Jungkook talk. He’s fascinated, focused entirely on Jungkook and his words. To be so young, but have so much to say - it’s amazing, to him. Under different circumstances, maybe - maybe Namjoon would reach out, put his hand over Jungkook’s. But it doesn’t feel right, especially because he has a thought that Jungkook might like him, but he doesn’t actually know, for sure, and that - that matters to him. He likes to use his words.

“I think your story deserves to be told,” Namjoon replies finally, quiet over the clinking of their skewers, the hum of the smoke extractor. Jungkook smiles and squirms a little in his seat, and then he pushes at one of the bowls of rice with a finger, moving it closer to Namjoon.

“Please eat, hyung.”

Namjoon does.

;;

“Show me,” Jimin says, insistent - the way he usually is when he wants something and he’s not getting it fast enough. He used to be that way about an Olympic gold medal, and look at him now. It’s framed and displayed on his mantelpiece, next to a picture of his brother.

Jungkook sighs, but shifts from his sprawl on Jimin’s couch, moving to tug at his shirt and expose the still-healing tattoo on his side. Jimin shuffles close, on his knees on the carpet, to take it in.

“Wow. Looks really cool, Jungkook-ah.”

Jungkook sighs softly, tipping his head back against the couch. His hair follows the movement, freeing his face. “Yeah. He’s really good, hyung. Like, really, really good. And he’s so interesting, too. We went for lamb skewers after the session and we ended up talking ab-”

“Wait, back up,” Jimin interrupts, holding a hand up. He’s got a slight smirk on his face. “You went to dinner with him?”

Jungkook, fingers curled into his shirt, finds himself blushing a little, because he knows what Jimin is thinking, and he’s thought it too.

“Yeah. He offered. We got to talking because I was pretty tense at first, and he asked me if I wanted to grab dinner after. So we did.”

Jimin sits back on his heels, looking at Jungkook, all soft and gentle like he knows how to be. “Jungkook-ah, did you go on a date with this guy?”

Jungkook frowns. “You say ‘this guy’ like I met him on Grindr. And I don’t know if it was a date. It was. Dinner. Talking. It was nice.” They’d talked, actually, until close, when Yoongi, Namjoon’s friend, had kicked them out - after shoving a bag of recycling in Namjoon’s hands for him to take care of.

With a tiny wounded noise, Jimin leans forward again, his hand on Jungkook’s knee. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I’m happy for you, if you like him, you know? I want you to be happy, you know that. It’s just... “ he trails off, but Jungkook knows exactly what he means.

“I know, Jimin-hyung. I know. I don’t want to risk my career, either. But I’ve never felt like this before. Like, I’m attracted to him, yeah, sure, but there’s also… so much more. He’s smart and gentle and super talented and funny and hot. Hyung, he’s got dimples and these thighs, I swear, I see thighs all the time but his, I. I don’t know. They’re just very nice.”

“You want them wrapped around your head?” Jimin asks, his smirk right back in place, making Jungkook cover his face with a pillow, groaning into it loudly as Jimin giggles. He pats Jungkook’s knee. “It’s okay, Kook-ah. We’ve all been there.”

;;

Namjoon has always been fond of research, He does a lot of it surrounding tattoos and their design whenever he’s asked to do something he’s never heard about, because he wants to do a good job, and he also loves learning.

However, sports have never been something that he took much interest in. Sure, he fell into the soccer craze, just like everyone else in South Korea back in 2011. He’d let Yoongi explain the rules to him, and he’d patiently learned, but even then he couldn’t really muster the same enthusiasm that he’s always had for reading about philosophers and mythology.

Nonetheless, here he is, in his bedroom in the middle of the night again, his laptop burning hot on his bare thighs as he looks up the basics and principles of baseball. Because baseball is something that Jungkook is passionate about, it’s something he loves and has dedicated his life to, and so Namjoon is interested, too. He wants to understand and he wants to be able to talk about it with Jungkook, hold his own, show Jungkook that he does care.

He knows that Jungkook kinda likes the anonymity he gets to have with Namjoon. They’ve established that. But that doesn’t mean that Namjoon can’t take an interest in what Jungkook does, day in and day out. The reason he’s in the news on the regular. He just - he gives a fuck about Jungkook, and that means he gives a fuck about what Jungkook does.

He falls into a spiral on youtube, the videos not really teaching him much about baseball, but teaching him lots about Jugnkook’s career up until now, which is on a stellar trajectory, apparently. Fans call him Kingkook, pundits call him golden maknae, but he gets as much flack as he does praise, of course. Too quiet in the locker room, not enough of a leader, should step up his responsibilities now that he’s not a rookie anymore, etc, etc. It goes on and on, and Namjoon can only hope that Jungkook doesn’t see even half of this kind of coverage - how disheartening it must be.

Namjoon can’t help but spend a moment being so glad for his own anonymity. It doesn’t surprise him now that Jungkook appreciates how he’s just Jungkook, as long as he’s around Namjoon.

Still, Namjoon wants to see Jungkook in action now. He wants to cheer him on, cheer for him louder than all the detractors. So he grabs his phone, and shoots Jungkook a quick message.

Me:
Hey, would you be okay with me coming to one of your games?

The response is pretty much immediate, to Namjoon’s surprise, but it also makes him smile, falling back into bed with a happy little grin.

Jungkook:
Oh. you want to? I’d like that, hyung, yeah. I can get you tickets!

;;

Technically, the tattoo Namjoon did on Jungkook is complete, but. But. Jungkook is not ready. He is not ready to let go, just yet, not when everything feels like it’s just beginning with him and Namjoon. Even if they have plans to meet up after the game Namjoon is coming to, it’s the tattooing part he wants, right now. He’s feeling the itch under his skin already, and he knows it’s not just about Namjoon, and it’s not just about the tattoo. It’s both, tangled up in his chest like vines.

So he comes back to the tattoo parlor, and Namjoon looks surprised, but happy.

“Hyung, I think I want to expand it. The tattoo, I mean. Make it go up a little, so that it looks like the dragon is breathing out the galaxy,” he says in a rush right after saying hello. Behind Namjoon, he can see Hoseok behind the reception desk, obviously listening in.

“Oh,” Namjoon replies, seemingly a little taken aback. But then, he starts smiling. “Oh, that would look really cool, actually. I was going to have an early day, but. I’m free now, if you are. We can talk about it, think up a design?”

Jungkook almost protests, wants to give Namjoon time, but he came here for a reason and with a goal in mind, so instead, he blows out a breath, and grins, running a hand through his untied, messy hair. “Yeah, I mean, if it’s okay with you, that’d be awesome.”

This is how he ends up in Namjoon’s chair once again, shirtless, leaning back, a fresh stencil tracing smoke and loose stars up along his ribs. They talked and Namjoon drew and they agreed, and Namjoon has been going for just under a half hour, migrating from the edges of the tattoo he recently finished, and moving up.

Which is when Namjoon, focusing on the higher part of the tattoo, inadvertently brushes his fingers against Jungkook’s nipple. It’s like electricity rushing through Jungkook’s whole body, just that touch, not even on purpose, it’s more than enough for his toes to curl in his boots. His reaction is more than just that, too - Jungkook hisses through his teeth, but it’s a wanton noise, and he arches into the touch a tiny bit.

But it only lasts a second, because as soon as it happens, Namjoon pulls back like he’s been burned, right hand clutching the tattoo machine as his eyes look up into Jungkook’s, open wide in what might be panic, what might be guilt. Jungkook isn’t too sure, a little confused by the reaction, but he doesn’t say anything just yet. Namjoon seems to be holding his breath, and Jungkook flushes, one big ball of want dropping in his stomach. He thinks daring, bold thoughts, because he knows this isn’t just him. He knows. There’s no way he’s wrong about this, even if he needs to - he needs to use his words and not just presume, which is exactly what he’s doing right now.

“Sorry,” Namjoon says, but Jungkook shakes his head immediately.

“No, it’s okay,” he whispers, voice soft. “It’s okay.”

He reaches out, and curls his fingers in the collar of Namjoon’s shirt. His brain is reaching for something, something that feels so close, just at the tip of his fingers, and his heart thrums in his chest at the mere idea of it.

But, to his surprise, Namjoon reaches out, uncurls Jungkook’s fingers from his shirt, and rolls his stool back.

“No, Jungkook, it’s not okay,” he says after a moment, his eyes flicking up to meet Jungkook’s. They look pained. “What if it wasn’t me? Would you think it’s okay?”

Jungkook is pretty sure his face is all slack and his expression entirely open as he thinks about Namjoon’s question. The answer is - no, it probably wouldn’t have been okay, or at least not like that, it wouldn’t have made him react that way and he’d have been more uncomfortable than anything. It’s because it’s Namjoon.

He closes his mouth, and looks back at Namjoon. Jungkook is glad that his circumstances mean he spends a lot of time doing research on who he’ll let tattoo him, because it means he’s also read about a lot of terrible experiences people have had, and he has avoided them.

But him, doing this right now, was almost crossing a line. “You’re right. It wouldn’t be.”

Namjoon nods, looking slightly less tense. “Right. So I apologize, Jungkook.”

“Thank you,” Jungkook replies, his voice small and a little uncertain. He waits for a moment, to test out the atmosphere between the two of them, but while Namjoon still looks tense, he doesn’t look ready to bolt anymore. So, after a minute longer, he smiles. “You want to keep going?”

They’ve barely started the session, after all. Namjoon hesitates, but then he grins, takes a deep breath, and nods. “Yeah. Yeah, let’s do it.”

;;

Gocheok Sky Dome is full, filled out by fans of both the home team - the Heroes - and the opposing team, the Tigers, both sides mixing in the stands, red and white sitting next to burgundy and grey. It’s a bright day, and Namjoon observes the crowd as he hides behind his sunglasses. Next to him, Yoongi is decked out in his Heroes jersey and baseball cap, smiling big and happy as he points out the different parts of the field to a very excited Taehyung, who found and bought a huge foam finger the moment they entered the stadium.

“Thanks again for getting us tickets, Namjoon-ah,” Yoongi says.

“Oh, it wasn’t me. It was Jungkook,” he replies immediately, because it’s the truth. Yoongi knocks their shoulders together.

“But you asked him for them. And look at that, he got us the best seats in the house.”

Namjoon smiles. Jungkook did get them really good seats, close to the field, all the while saying, it’s no big deal because players can get tickets whenever they want, but it makes Namjoon feel… well, a little special. Jungkook cares, and wants him to have a good view, and wants him to have a good time.

So he reaches out, wrapping a hand around Yoongi’s wrist. “You’ll explain things to me if I don’t get it, right?”

Yoongi laughs, patting Namjoon’s knee. “Don’t worry, I got your back.”

The thing that gets to Namjoon the most is the atmosphere. When the game starts, the whole crowd comes alive, becoming another member of the team, moving and cheering and holding their breath and Namjoon finds himself swept into it, following right along even when he has no idea why he’s doing what he’s doing.

It’s fun, is the thing. Before, when Yoongi convinced him to sit with him through any kind of sports event, there was always a time where Namjoon wished he was somewhere else. But not here, not while watching Jungkook on the pitch, doing what he’s best at and basking under the cheering and the applause whenever he gets an out. He is in his element, here, positively glowing. He looks so alive down there, confident in every pitch he throws, and even Yoongi coos dreamily as they watch the game unfold.

Mainly, what Namjoon keeps on thinking is: Jungkook’s beautiful, inside and out.

;;

Jungkook’s rituals after a game are usually always the same. Give some rote answers to the press - still wearing his UnderArmour of course, hiding 99.9% of his tattoos, then a quick shower, and then off home for a late dinner and as much sleep as possible. Some days, he stays longer to let Seokjin help him further with cooling down.

But not tonight. Tonight, Jungkook is vibrating out of his skin as he talks about his no-hitter, a huge smile on his face, looking happy enough that a few reporters ask him about it. He deflects, of course, but the reason why he rushes through his shower and doesn bother drying his hair is because he knows that Namjoon is waiting for him.

He’s still one of the last ones to get to leave, because his press rounds always last longer, and the players’ exit area is almost empty by the time Jungkook finally makes his way there. The concrete floor is a little wet from being cleaned up earlier, and the lights feel too bright as Jungkook crosses the empty space to the door, equipment bag slung over his shoulder and shiny shoes squeaking.

Namjoon is alone, reading something on his phone. He looks a little pink in the face, and his hair looks lighter than usual, like it has been sun-bleached being out all day. He’s wearing ripped jeans that show part of the tattoo on his thigh, and Jungkook swallows mechanically when he feels his mouth watering.

Jungkook just…. really likes Namjoon. Not just physically, but in every way. He wants to listen to him talk, and he wants to tell him about his whole life, and he wants - he wants. It’s a feeling Jungkook knows well, to want things, but he’s usually not so scared about reaching for them.

Namjoon looks up when he hears Jungkook approach, and they exchange smiles, Jungkook doing his best not to trip over his own feet to get closer faster. Namjoon puts his phone away and there’s something so fond in his expression, it makes Jungkook’s heart flutter.

“Hey, hyung. You’re alone?”

“My friends had to go, dinner reservations. Jungkook-ah, you were - you were amazing!”

Namjoon sounds genuinely awed, and Jungkook ducks his head, blushing. He was, and he knows it, but he feels like he was fueled by the need to put on his best show possible. He had a reason to be this fired up.

“Thank you. It was a good effort from the whole team,” he replies automatically, one of his usual ‘we all played well’ answers. Namjoon snorts.

“Yeah, sure, but you were still exceptional.”

Jungkook chuckles, not wanting to boast too much, even if he does feel proud of his accomplishments. He motions at the door, and looks up at Namjoon, pleased that while they’re close in height, Namjoon is still a tiny bit taller.

“Do you want to get some dinner?”

Namjoon breathes out slowly, like he’d been holding it in. “Yeah. I’d love to.”

;;

“I can’t help but feel very privileged,” Namjoon says as he toes off his shoes in Jungkook’s entryway. He takes a second to check out the bare, cavernous apartment. It feels a little empty.

How did he end up here? Well.

Well, when Jungkook offered dinner, he meant dinner at his place. He has a diet to respect and only so many cheat days, and Namjoon wasn’t about to say no, way too curious to see how Jungkook lives.

“Privileged? Why?”

Namjoon smiles, a little ruefully, as he follows Jungkook to his kitchen, socks slipping on the hardwood floor. “Because I get to see both sides of you.”

And truth is, he does feel privileged about that. He feels glad that he is one of the few people Jungkook trusts with this, with knowing who he is as a baseball star, but also as just a man, scared of the world and trying to hide himself under a carefully curated suit of armor. Namjoon - Namjoon feels scared too, all too often, and he’s not even a public figure.

When he steps into the kitchen, Jungkook is bent over, looking into the fridge, and Namjoon licks his lips without thought, looking at the shape of him, the way his thighs fill out his suit pants. Jungkook’s ditched the suit jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt to his elbows. For a moment, Namjoon allows himself to just look, imagine how it must be to touch, outside of a professional context. He pushes his hands into his pockets.

“Not many people do,” Jungkook finally replies, straightening up with a big tupperware in his hand, pushing the fridge door closed with his hip. “I’ll just put this in the oven. My best friend made it, it’s good, I promise.”

Turns out it’s bibimbap, and Jungkook is right when he says it’s good, because it’s really good, but Namjoon feels a little nervous, and only eats a little, while Jungkook demolishes most of the dish. He’s earned it.

“Did you enjoy the game?” Jungkook asks at some point, and Namjoon lights up, grinning from ear to ear as he nods.

“It was amazing, Jungkook-ah. I know I said that already but - I won’t lie, I didn’t understand half of what was going on. But I felt like I was a part of it anyway, you know? The atmosphere was incredible. And you! A no-hitter!”

Jungkook chuckles, bringing the back of his hand in front of his mouth. His eyes crinkle at the corner, and Namjoon finds himself wanting to make him smile more. More and more.

“Did your friends tell you that’s what I threw?”

Namjoon flushes, and laughs as well. “Maybe. But I know what it means, now. And it’s awesome,” he adds, making Jungkook blush too. Good. “And - I wanted to thank you again. For the tickets. For allowing me to see you, like that.”

“Aw, hyung, no, I’m glad you wanted to come,” Jungkook replies softly, putting his chopsticks down. He reaches up to cover his ears for a second, rubbing at them before he forcibly puts his hands down, as if he’s been caught doing something something damning.

Namjoon just think it’s cute.

“Do you want to go out with me? Like. On a date,” Namjoon blurts out, and he’s embarrassed but at the same time he thinks finally because he’s wanted to ask this since the day they met and he hasn’t dared, and now here he is.

And he knows he’s risking something here, because Jungkook never openly said he’s into guys, he’s never said he’s into Namjoon, but Namjoon believes in contextual clues.

Still, before Jungkook can say anything, looking at him with his big bright eyes, Namjoon continues. “If I’m out of bounds, I’m sorry. I will drop it and never bring it up again, because I like you, and I like having you in my life. But if I’m not wrong and there is something here, I’d like to explore it. With you.”

Jungkook lets out a noise, and then he starts coughing, like he got rice stuck in his throat, his face growing red as he thumps on his chest, and Namjoon panics, sliding off his chair and over to Jungkook, slapping his back until Jungkook is only breathing heavily for a moment, catching his breath. He grabs a napkin and wipes his face. Namjoon leans back on his heels.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean -”

“I like you too,” Jungkook interrupts, voice thin and still a little wheezy. “I like you so much. But I’m - I can’t go out with you. Not like that.”

“Oh,” Namjoon says softly. “I’m confused.”

Jungkook straightens in his chair, then turns to face Namjoon, looking down at him on his knees on the floor of Jungkook’s kitchen. It feels like some kind of sign.

“I’m not out, Namjoon-hyung,” he admits, visibly biting the inside of his lip. “I can’t come out. But if you can accept that, and respect it, then. I want to explore things with you, too.”

Jungkook looks out of breath again, like this was hard to say for him, and Namjoon can understand why. This is a huge step, a huge show of trust. Namjoon could turn around and contact the press, out Jungkook in just a moment, and it wouldn’t matter if his only proof was his own word. People would tear down Jungkook for it.

Jungkook trusts him. And Namjoon feels sick about the idea of ever betraying this trust. He raises himself up, coming closer to Jungkook as he does, and looks at him straight in the eyes.

“We should try. And you have my word that whatever happens, I will always, always respect you, and your needs.”

Jungkook’s bottom lip jut out when his teeth release it. Namjoon puts a hand on the table to steady himself. And then he kisses Jungkook.

There’s probably a lot more they have to talk about, but there’s also this. Namjoon fits his free hand against Jungkook’s neck, feeling him surge forward into the kiss, a tiny noise escaping him, sounding almost curious. It morphs into something warm and pleased by the end, and Namjoon smiles as he feels Jungkook’s arms loop around his shoulders.

It’s so - gentle, is the word Namjoon would want to use to describe how the kiss feels. It’s gentle. Jungkook is gentle in a cautious way, and Namjoon is gentle in a careful way, not wanting to get ahead of himself.

He thinks they can take their time. He just wanted Jungkook to know that he’s serious about this. When he pulls back, his lips stick to Jungkook’s for a second, and both of them open their eyes slowly, only leaving a breadth of space between them.

“Nice,” Jungkook says, and Namjoon chuckles.

“Yeah?”

Jungkook grins, all big and toothy. “Yeah. Wanna watch a movie?”

“Yeah. Sounds good.”

;;

This - this feels like the actual start of something, between the two of them. They start dating, in a very tentative, very secretive way. Jungkook wishes he could offer Namjoon more, but Namjoon doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other. While Jungkook is in training, he goes to the library and sends him selfies in the middle of huge stacks of books, and in the evening, brings Jungkook something to read. About photography, about sports, about philosophy, and Jungkook tries to read them, or at least give it a go. He uses some of the noteworthy quotes he finds on his Instagram captions, and Namjoon makes a comment sometimes that tells Jungkook he’s seen it. They have dinner, often at Jungkook’s place, they hang out, they talk, they watch movies, they make out.

It’s nice, it’s much better than before, because now Namjoon is not holding himself back because of professionalism, Jungkook isn’t his client anymore, he’s the guy he’s dating, and so that means that hands wander, mouths wander, and it feels - electric. Jungkook has never felt so alive in his life, at least, not when off the pitch; but in Namjoon’s arms, a leg thrown around Namjoon’s hips as Jungkook finds himself pressed into the couch, and he feels like he’s going to break through from the inside out, every glide of Namjoon’s hands down his arms threatening to just undo him at the seams.

He likes this. He loves this. He loves clinging to Namjoon and having Namjoon press sweet little kisses along the column of his neck, all the way down to his collarbone, loves feeling Namjoon’s tongue against his inked skin, doesn’t want it to stop. So far, they’ve been going slow, and one of them always stops before things could get too heated, but Jungkook is growing impatient, and Namjoon is getting more and more handsy with every passing date.

Jungkook thinks - maybe tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night where he loses his virginity, where he sees Namjoon naked, where maybe they have a good time together. He wants - he wants - especially when Namjoon’s hands slide up under his shirt, past his newly healed tattoo, and up, up, until his fingers brush Jungkook’s nipples, with purpose this time, and Jungkook responds with a wanton moan, body reacting almost too much to all of Namjoon’s touches. He’s hard already, he’s been hard for a little while, but he’s fine with it, one of his feet hooked against the back of Namjoon’s meaty thigh, fingers digging into the grooves of his spine. They’re past words for now, just making out a little furiously, a little thoughtlessly, like they’re still trying to make up for lost time, for all the time they’ve spent building up to this moment.

Maybe it’s because it’s a little thoughtless, that Jungkook doesn’t realize how much the pleasure is building, how he goes from lying on his plush couch under Namjoon to mindlessly rutting against Namjoon’s thick thigh. How Namjoon lets him, even pressing his thigh closer to Jungkook’s groin, until Jungkook is panting little moans every time their lips part, struggling to breathe and pulse going wild under Namjoon’s tongue on his neck.

He doesn’t think about stopping, about pushing Namjoon off of him and giving them both some space. He doesn’t think at all, which is why he clings to Namjoon, the kissing turning desperate, Namjoon’s pupils blown when he manages to open his eyes to look at Jungkook, hands seemingly everywhere, tracing tattoos and holding tight and they’re both hard and it’s definitely it, Jungkook’s finally -

“Oh, fuck!”

Jungkook comes. His whole face scrunches up with the force of it, a gut punch of pleasure that explodes through his whole body, and he stills, muscles tense and fists clenched in Namjoon’s shirt. Fuck, Namjoon’s shirt isn’t even off. Jungkook’s let himself get riled up with just some kissing and rutting, and as soon as the pleasure subsides a little, replaced by shame, making his cheeks hot. Above him, Namjoon has gone still too, apart from one of his hands, petting Jungkook’s wild hair.

“Kook-ah?” he asks, voice gentle. He absolutely knows what just happened, and it just makes Jungkook even more embarrassed. Jungkook starts to try and sit up, and Namjoon pulls off of him, looking a little disoriented, his hair sticking up at odd angles. Jungkook scrubs a hand over his face, hating how he still feels sort of floaty, because he also feels uncomfortable in his jeans, uncomfortable in this space right now.

“I’m sorry,” he says in a tiny voice, and hears Namjoon shift on the couch.

“Why?” He sounds confused. Jungkook makes a wounded noise.

“God, stop being so cute,” he says a little desperately, and Namjoon chuckles. Jungkook pulls a pillow to his lap, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. His head is at war with his heart; he could fake it till he makes it, after all, the way he does every day. But it doesn’t feel fair to Namjoon, and it’s so stupid that what is precipitating all of these thoughts is Jungkook, coming in his pants like a teenager because Namjoon got handsy. Damn it, “Namjoon-hyung, I’m - okay. I get if this is a dealbreaker.”

He looks up, only to see Namjoon frowning deeply, and he wants to reach out, smooth out the lines on his forehead. He expects Namjoon to protest, but he doesn’t say anything, just waits Jungkook out.

“I’m a virgin.”

His cheeks burn anew. Namjoon’s mouth is in a little ‘o’ shape, surprise all over his face, but he doesn’t let it last. One moment to the next, the surprise is replaced by that gentle affection Jungkook is so used to seeing on Namjoon’s features.

“Oh. Okay. I thought you were going to tell me you’re a precocious ejaculator, which, I mean. It wouldn’t be a deal breaker either.”

Jungkook whines, hiding his face in the pillow he’s holding, and Namjoon chuckles again. “Sorry, sorry. But hey. I don’t care. I really don’t care.”

Jungkook peeks from behind the cushion. “You don’t think I’m - I don’t know. A baby, or something?”

“A ba - No, Jungkook-ah, I don’t think you’re a baby. I think you’re amazing, and you’ve had a tough run of it having to hide a big part of who you are, not only to your family and friends like so many of us do, but also to the rest of the country, if not the world. It’s no wonder you’ve never been able to let your guard down enough to have this kind of experience.” Namjoon reaches out, gently wrapping a hand around Jungkook’s bony, bare ankle. Jungkook just takes it all in, lips slightly parted. “I’m really honored that you’d show me that part of you, Jungkook-ah, and I promise I won’t make you regret it.”

There are layers to this sentence, and Jungkook bites his lip again, looking at the tiny crooked smile on Namjoon’s lips. He wants to ask Namjoon to take his virginity, he wants to ask for sex right now, but he also feels exhausted all of a sudden, his body sagging a little around the pillow he’s still hugging close.

“Okay,” he says softly, and then: “Thank you. I’m, um. I’m gonna get changed.”

Namjoon reaches out, standing when Jungkook does. He doesn’t say anything right away, but laces their fingers together, swaying close. Jungkook wants to kiss the tattoos on his knuckles. He thinks he wants some for himself, too.

“I want you to know that it doesn’t change anything. I still think you’re the hottest person to ever walk this Earth.”

Jungkook swallows around the feelings that are clogging up his throat - the humiliation, the desire, the embarrassment. “Do you still want me?” he asks, his voice unsteady.

Namjoon grins, enough to show his dimples, to make his eyes very small. “Yes, Kook-ah, I still do. But we don’t have to rush into anything now, do we?”

Even with the frustration setting heavy in his bones, Jungkook can appreciate the sentiment. The care. The respect. So he nods, and squeezes Namjoon’s hand. “Yeah. Thank you, hyung.”

Still smiling, Namjoon kisses Jungkook again, only much softer. Jungkook makes a tiny noise into it, smiling back now, but pulls back quickly with a laugh.

“Okay, but I really do have to get changed.”

;;

Dinner is raucous. The lot of them have taken up the biggest table in Yoongi's restaurant, with the man himself sitting at the head of it, like a gang leader looking over his ragtag bunch of misfits with a healthy mix of fondness and apprehension. Namjoon and Jungkook decided that the easiest way for them to meet each other's friends properly was to bring them all together for dinner and drinks, and so here they are.

Fifteen minutes into meeting, Jimin and Taehyung had declared they were each other's soulmates, which had stopped Yoongi in his tracks before Taehyung had sweetly reassured him with a 'platonic soulmates, hyung'. Seokjin had shown up half an hour late, and he was the one Namjoon was the most worried about meeting, so he’d stood up when Seokjin had waltzed in, draped in a long, cream-colored coat, hair impeccable, his piercing gaze taking in Namjoon from head to toe before accepting his handshake.

"I hope you know, if you hurt him, they'll never find the body," he had said in a smooth voice as a way of greeting, and Namjoon had tried to smile, but it came out a little tight.

"Hyung," Jungkook had whined, thought Namjoon had a feeling it wasn't an empty threat. So he'd nodded before sitting back down.

"I respect that," he'd replied, and Seokjin, surprisingly, had smiled a little.

Seokjin had been the last one to arrive, and so now, here they are, a too-high number of soju bottles on the table, a multitude of side dishes scattered around, skewers being distributed as soon as they were done on the grills, the conversation loud and the laughter even more so.

"So what's this one for?" Jimin asks Namjoon, pointing at the geometric patterns on the inside of his wrist, running up his arm. "Does it mean anything?"

Namjoon shrugs. "When I first got it, I liked to think it was supposed to represent the tapestry of my life. The triangles moving into each other, like my family. But over time, I realized that I don't really assign that meaning to it anymore. It's just pretty. Because family - I used to think family meant one thing, my parents, my sister, but I was wrong. Family is - family is this, too."

Jimin opens his mouth, but Taehyung leans in from the other side of the table, grinning bright and boxy. "Tattoos can represent who you are or how you feel on the inside at a certain point of your life, but life is in constant flux. They can be like... a piece of history. Do you have any tattoos, Jiminie?"

Jimin flushes, then nods. "I have two," he replies, and Taehyung grins.

"I don't have any yet. I want some, but I have too many ideas, and none of them are really all that personal to me."

Under the table, Namjoon feels Jungkook's hand sliding along his thigh, wrapping around it and squeezing, and he loses the thread of the conversation between Jimin and Taehyung, turning towards Jungkook on his other side instead. They can't quite be overtly affectionate, even if everyone around the table knows about them, or at least has an inkling. The dinner was just supposed to be friends meeting friends, but none of Namjoon's friends are stupid, and they have been putting two and two together for a while already. Still, they're in public, and have to keep up pretenses.

"You okay?" Namjoon asks quietly, and Jungkook nods, smiling. His cheeks are reddened by the heat of the grills and the alcohol they've been drinking.

"I'm good. You?"

"I'm good. I like your friends."

"They're more my family. Like you said. But I like yours, too."

Namjoon resists leaning his head against Jungkook, despite terribly wanting to. Instead, he moves his hand under the table, lacing his fingers with Jungkook's over his leg, smiling as they look at each other. This - this is the kind of thing Namjoon has never had with anyone he's ever dated before. He's always had a thing for heavily tattooed boys, but Jungkook doesn't fit the stereotype, funny and gentle and inquisitive as he is, feeling like a precious jewel in Namjoon's hands, which are surprisingly clumsy when he isn't working.

Namjoon never really felt the need for his boyfriends to meet his friends, before. Jungkook's different like that, too, rushing past all of Namjoon's usual defenses from the very moment they met. It should be deeply terrifying, but instead, it's just exhilarating. He even had a head start, what with his Instagram and his beautiful - hot - pictures, and thoughtful captions. Namjoon had been enthralled from the get go.

"I'm glad. I want you to like them, and them to like you."

"The more important thing for me is that you like me, hyung," Jungkook says, eyes all soft. Namjoon chuckles, hand squeezing Jungkook's.

"Well, you don't have to worry about that, Jungkookie, because I like you more than I even have words for," Namjoon replies.

"You have words for everything," Jungkook replies, frowning, and Namjoon laughs.

"Touche. I guess I just would want to think about it," he replies quietly, eyes flitting over to Seokjin, who is casually looking straight at them. Jungkook giggles.

"Okay. Write them down for me one day," he says, a moment before Hoseok asks him something, and Jungkook turns away.

;;

Jungkook looks at himself in the bathroom mirror, taking on as combative an expression as he can, shoulders straight, arms folded over his chest. No, wait - he doesn't want to look intimidating. He just wants to look confident, certain of himself, giving Namjoon no room to protest.

"I want us to have sex," he tells his reflection, which doesn't react. Is this good? Is this good enough?

The problem is, since Jungkook shamefully came in his pants like a teenager and admitted his inexperience to Namjoon, the physical side of their relationship didn't exactly grind to a halt, but it... slowed down, a lot. Now Namjoon holds him like he's delicate, and kisses him like he might break at any moment, a little hesitant at times, and Jungkook is growing more and more frustrated.

He wants to have sex. He wants Namjoon to put his hands all over him, and he wants him to not stop until they both have had orgasms, together, and they're exhausted and sweaty and happy. He just wants, he wants Namjoon, he wants so badly but he can never seem to get the words out.

Until tonight. Tonight, he's doing it, he's saying it. Nodding to himself in the mirror, he turns around and leaves, marching right to the living-room where he left Namjoon waiting after abruptly excusing himself to the bathroom. Namjoon, who then looks up at Jungkook expectantly.

"Hyung," he says, some of the strength in his voice already gone. Namjoon raises an eyebrow, encouraging him to continue. Jungkook takes a deep breath. "Hyung, I want you to take my virginity."

That's not really what he meant to say, and Namjoon opens his mouth for a second, looking a tiny bit lost before he shakes it off and shifts on the couch, patting it for Jungkook to join him. He does, a little stiffly.

"Jungkook-ah. I don’t want to take anything from you. You know that virginity is a social construct, right? It doesn’t really mean anything. But I feel like it’d be wrong of me to say I took your virginity. You’re not losing anything, and you wouldn’t be giving anything to me, not really, I mean - not like that -”

Jungkook huffs out a loud breath, knowing he sounds, and looks, annoyed. Namjoon stops mid-thought, looking taken aback.

“Hyung, I want us to have sex. I didn’t phrase it right, fine, whatever, I don’t care about the virginity thing, I just want you, so, so bad, and I’ve been working on it for myself, you know, I’ve been fingering myself, and I know last time I came really fast but I think I can hold on a little longer maybe. I just want you to… I just want you.”

By the end of his tirade, Jungkook is pretty much whining, and the words are coming out in a rush, but he can also see how Namjoon is blushing a little, how his lips part and his breathing seem to grow heavier. Maybe Jungkook’s actually having an impact, here.

“You’ve been fingering yourself?” Namjoon asks, voice a little rough. Jungkook swallows thickly, nodding as he looks a little questioningly at Namjoon.

“Yeah. You like that?”

Namjoon presses the tip of his tongue against his top lip, looking like he’s suffering for a moment before he takes a deep breath and he moves closer, and Jungkook instinctively loops his arms around Namjoon’s shoulders, smiling a little.

“I just want it to be clear that if you want to stop at any time, we can, okay? We don’t have to do anything,” he says gently, and Jungkook surges forward, pressing their noses together.

“Okay. Now can we go to bed?”

Jungkook might be impatient, but mainly, it’s because he’s bursting at the seams with excitement and with the desire to do this, to get this, to feel this. He wants the intimacy Jimin’s always talking about, and he knows from experience that Namjoon is extremely good at taking care of him.

He wants this, and badly, so when Namjoon nods and stands, Jungkook does too, leading him to the bedroom, where he hovers by his bed for a moment before unceremoniously whipping his shirt off - Namjoon has seen him shirtless multiple times, after all. He doesn’t reach for Namjoon, but Namjoon reaches for him, a soft groan escaping him when he fits his hands on Jungkook’s hips, his eyes moving all over. Then he looks up, and Jungkook tries to smile but it feels like a grimace.

“You nervous?” Namjoon asks in a tone that carves through Jungkook’s defenses like they’re made of warm butter.

“A little. Mainly excited. I just - want it to be good for you.”

Namjoon’s palm slides over Jungkook’s hip, and he steps closer, close enough that Jungkook can only reach out too, curling fists into the material of Namjoon’s white t-shirt.

“I promise I’ll tell you, okay? You trust me?”

Jungkook nods fiercely, no hesitation there, and he moves closer, his hands starting to push Namjoon’s shirt up. Namjoon lets him, and soon enough he’s shirtless too, his skin glowing in the late afternoon setting sun. He’s so broad and solid, with a tiny mole above one of his nipples, and - fuck. Jungkook dry-swallows, hand hovering inches from Namjoon’s chest, and his pierced nipples.

“You have piercings,” he says, haltingly, and Namjoon nods.

“Is that okay?”

Jungkook feels a little overwhelmed. He huffs out a breath, fingers skittering up along Namjoon’s stomach when he finally dares to touch more.

“It’s not fair,” he says softly, eyes focused on the expanse of skin in front of him.

“What isn’t?”

“You’re so hot, and I can’t process it. Meanwhile, you’ve seen me shirtless like, a million times already,” he mutters, and Namjoon chuckles, shaking his head.

“Nah. Didn’t count. I had to maintain professionalism. I had to not look. It’s not the same anyway. And, well. You can look, now. You can touch,” Namjoon says, taking one of Jungkook’s hands and laying it on his skin. The contact feels electric, and Jungkook licks his lips, swaying forward without thought and fitting his mouth against the little mole right there, right above Namjoon’s nipple. Namjoon inhales sharply, free hand moving up into Jungkook’s hair.

“I can’t believe you have nipple piercings and I didn’t know,” Jungkook says, pressing the words right into Namjoon’s skin, before he moves down to reach one of said piercing, teeth clicking against it when he tugs before he starts licking experimentally, making Namjoon gasp loudly.

“Fuck, fuck, yeah, okay, okay - let’s lie down before you make my knees give out,” he says, and Jungkook feels a rush of pride as he looks up at Namjoon, beaming with the feeling. He can do that.

There’s a little flurry of movement, then, Jungkook feeling somewhat ungraceful as he hops on the bed, trying to get the rest of his clothes off at the same time, but also wanting to help Namjoon out of his, and trying to keep his eyes on Namjoon, plan some kind of strategy for all the touching he wants to do. He kicks off his sweatpants and toes off his socks, not really feeling the kind of self-conscious he thinks maybe he should be feeling, mostly because he’s too preoccupied watching Namjoon and -

“Wow. Thighs,” he murmurs to himself, but Namjoon must hear him, because he chuckles, and Jungkook blushes. He can’t be blamed for letting his mouth run wild when Namjoon looks like that, all golden skin and strong thighs and tattoos covering so much of him, so many tattoos Jungkook has not yet seen, the two of them completely different canvas telling completely different stories. Jungkook is curious about all the stories Namjoon’s skin has to tell, but - later.

Right now, he reaches out, pulling Namjoon to him and kissing him, falling back on his huge bed and the fancy as shit sheets that Jimin made him buy, soft under his shoulder blades. Namjoon’s skin is so soft under his hands, too, and there’s so much of it, so much Jungkook wants to touch. He gasps when Namjoon presses against him and he can feel the hard metal of his piercings, making Jungkook break the kiss with a moan, his whole body trembling with the force of his desire.

“You sure you want to do this?” Namjoon asks, and Jungkook growls, pushing at Namjoon’s shoulders to flip them around, sitting himself on top of Namjoon, feeling Namjoon’s dick nestle between his ass cheeks. That’s - that’s a sensation all right, and he can’t help rocking back a little, himself hard and leaking at the tip already.

“I want to, Namjoon-hyung,” he says, his voice low, and Namjoon nods, reaching out and wrapping a hand around Jungkook’s erection, making him tip his head back immediately in response, a shiver of pleasure running up his spine.

“Just making sure. Consent is sexy.”

In response, Jungkook rolls his hips again, and it’s gratifying to hear Namjoon choke on a breath, his own hips coming off the mattress to meet Jungkook’s. Because he can, Jungkook bends over Namjoon, lips circling one of his nipples again, tongue playing with the barbell going through it, his fingers grazing Namjoon’s sides, wishing he could feel the tattoos under them. When he pulls back, it’s only to kiss around, pressing his mouth to inked skin. Namjoon has a large moon taking up most of one of his pecs, looking over a nature scene that wraps around all of Namjoon’s side. It looks like a painting, and something about it reminds Jungkook of the mural in the tattoo parlor - he’ll have to ask about it later. Later, when Namjoon’s thick thighs aren’t being bracketed by his calves, the muscles shifting under the silky skin. Later, when he’s not feeling Namjoon’s dick against his ass, and sure, sure, Jungkook doesn’t have much experience at all, but he’s watched enough porn to be able to tell that Namjoon is - well, he’s big, and the thought exhilarates and unnerves Jungkook in equal measures.

Namjoon’s thumb slides up along Jungkook’s newest tattoo, his own creation, the skin still a little raised as it goes through the last stage of healing, and Jungkook presses into the touch, mouth moving up to Namjoon’s collarbones and the dotted line of Morse code he has tattooed there, stretching from the tip of one all the way to the other. Another thing to ask about, but at another time, a time where Jungkook is not completely focused on tasting Namjoon’s skin, or wanting to map out his whole body with his hands and his lips and everything else; he’s still moving his hips, Namjoon’s hard cock slipping back and forth between his cheeks, a little wet too. Jungkook feels warm, from his head to his toes, a little sweaty, a little overwhelmed, wondering what it’d be like if he angled his hips just right and let Namjoon push inside him, but he’s not stupid, and he’s well-informed - he doesn’t want to make things more painful than they have to be just because he’s impatient. Like this, it’s a steady build, and the air around them in the bedroom grows heavier, full of choked off, needy moans and the slick sound of damp kisses, the rustle of bedsheets and panted breaths.

Jungkook shudders hard when Namjoon moves his hand over his cock, presses his thumb to the slit, making Jungkook leak all over his finger, just like that. Jungkook stops moving to just breathe, heavy and damp, against Namjoon’s skin, eyes screwed shut, fingers digging into Namjoon’s sides.

“Ah, ah, fuck, no, don’t, I’m gonna -”

“Maybe I want you to,” Namjoon replies, his voice sounding rough, and Jungkook looks up, shaking his head as he reaches up, cupping Namjoon’s jaw in one hand.

“I don’t want to, I want to - at least finger me,” Jungkook pants against Namjoon’s lips, and Namjoon nods frantically in response. Jungkook wants a lot more than that - he wants his mouth on Namjoon’s dick, because he’s always wanted to do that, and he wants Namjoon inside him, more than just his fingers, but he’s also trying to be sort of realistic here. He’s going to come in two minutes if they keep going like this, but maybe that’s okay, maybe Namjoon will like that.

After all, Jungkook is a very, very horny, very healthy 22-year-old, and the night is young. Namjoon rolls them over again, the sheets getting wrinkled underneath them. Jungkook chuckles, tipping his head back into the pillows, and reaches up to push his hair off of his face, laughter dying in his throat when Namjoon sucks a kiss to his collarbone, and moves steadily along the shape of the dragon’s neck winding down Jungkook’s upper chest.

“You got lube?” Namjoon asks after licking Jungkook’s nipple, like he’s not made Jungkook arch all the way off the bed with a moan, only stopped from moving further by Namjoon’s own body. But Namjoon smirks when Jungkook looks down at him, which tells him Namjoon knows exactly what he’s doing, and he’s perfectly fine with it.

Jungkook grits his teeth and nods, twisting a little to reach his bedside table drawer, pulling out the bottle of lube and handing it to Namjoon, who is still smirking, looking unbearably hot and, most importantly, in control. It makes Jungkook feel like he's in good hands; he's safe and he knows that Namjoon will take care of him. So Jungkook relaxes, carding his fingers through Namjoon's bleached blonde hair, the urgency dipping, giving him the chance to just enjoy the moment, the smile on Namjoon's face, his cute dimples, the care he's put into every touch.

It doesn't last - Jungkook's stomach drops with arousal when Namjoon pulls back a little, on his knees in between Jungkook's spread legs. He's fucking majestic, so broad and softer than Jungkook is, but so solid and strong at the same time. Their tattoos seem to join up where their skin meets, and Jungkook wishes it were true, not just wishful thinking.

"Fuck, you're so hot," Namjoon whispers, lube grasped in his left hand. Jungkook giggles, settling a little in the sheets, letting Namjoon look his fill. Not many people get to see his body, ever, despite the fact that Jungkook works so hard on it, and is proud of it - he works too hard at his career to ruin it for a boast on his abs.

"Thanks," he replies quietly, preening a little.

There's something he does love about the idea that Namjoon is the one to see him like this, because it reinforces an intimacy that Jungkook has so badly craved for so long. So he doesn't urge Namjoon, lets him look, and he looks right back, spending an inordinate amount of time just blatantly staring at Namjoon's thick cock, notably bigger than his own. He gives himself a moment to think about having it inside of him, and flushes from head to toe as his own dick jerks at the mere idea, spurting precome on his stomach.

Namjoon raises an eyebrow, but doesn't comment. Instead, he lubes up his fingers, and Jungkook's stomach knots up in apprehension and arousal, fingers curling into the sheets.

"Ready?" Namjoon asks, as he teases Jungkook a little, rubbing his fingers against him, and Jungkook clenches his jaw, hips rolling down in an attempt to get Namjoon to get going already. He nods instead, frantic, and Namjoon, finally, finally, pushes a finger inside Jungkook.

In response, Jungkook arches again, hissing softly at the sudden, intrusive feeling. But he likes it, is the thing - he's been fingering himself for awhile, after all, curious and adventurous enough to take that step for himself a long time ago, and he's always liked it. But with Namjoon's fingers, it's completely different. There's no weird angle, there's just the easy slide in, and Namjoon goes deeper than Jungkook ever has, pushing in until his knuckle is against Jungkook's rim. Jungkook breathes through it, the slight discomfort, the weird sensation; his erection flags a tiny bit but he doesn't pay it any mind, too focused on Namjoon's finger.

Namjoon is leaning over him, kissing his chest again, long, lingering kisses that might leave marks under the tattoos. He's not moving much, not until Jungkook starts squirming a little.

"Please, hyung, please," Jungkook says, every word choked out, and he feels Namjoon nod against his chest, starting to move his finger, crooking it when he's in deep. The discomfort is entirely gone now, and soon enough Jungkook is letting out these loud exhales, on the verge of turning into moans, as he moves in rhythm with Namjoon.

"Fuck, you look so good like this," Namjoon murmurs, his forehead pressed to Jungkook's chest and looking down. "You're doing so well. Can you take more?" he asks, making Jungkook shiver with how much want there is in his voice.

"Yeah, yeah, I c-can," Jungkook replies, and Namjoon wastes no time adding another finger inside Jungkook, making him cry out, loud.

Jungkook almost feels like he could last long enough for Namjoon to fuck him with more than his fingers when Namjoon ruins his plans thoroughly by hitting Jungkook's prostate dead on. The sensation makes Jungkook's entire body jerk, his legs kicking and his fingers digging hard into Namjoon's upper back.

"Ah, shit!"

It feels so good, if only a tiny bit uncomfortable when Namjoon presses too hard, but Jungkook finds that he likes that, wants more, and so he reaches down, clamps a hand around Namjoon's wrist, and keeps him right where he is as he grinds, fucking himself on Namjoon's fingers, having completely lost control and just following instinct.

"Holy shit," Namjoon whispers sounding awed. "Fuck, Jungkook-ah. Wow."

There's no way he's going to last, not now. Jungkook knows this and he accepts it, because he feels so good. He lets go of Namjoon's wrist after a moment, returning to clinging to him, skin tacky with sweat, and Namjoon keeps on fucking him, fast and deep and maybe a touch desperate, which Jungkook loves because he feels that, all the way to his toes.

The fact that he comes with his dick untouched takes Jungkook by surprise, though. It's after another press of the pads of Namjoon's fingers to his prostate, just a glancing touch before Namjoon pulls back, but just what Jungkook needs, the last push for him to come hard, all over his own chest, and Namjoon's, too. Jungkook clenches around Namjoon's fingers, keeping him in place, and he wraps his own fingers around the base of his own cock, head thrown back as he cries out.

He feels all tense, clenched up, riding the waves of his orgasm for a while, trembling with the aftershocks until he starts coming down, endorphins flooding his system as he smiles to himself, sighing softly. When he opens his eyes, it's to the sight of Namjoon jerking off, which makes his stomach drop all over again, like he hasn't just had an orgasm. He feels Namjoon's fingers slip out of him, and he tries his best not to frown.

"Namjoon-hyung," he says softly, and Namjoon meets his eyes.

"Sorry, I -"

"Don't apologize," Jungkook replies, before he reaches out, wrapping his hand around Namjoon's. "Let me help."

Namjoon seems about to protest, but then just sighs, chin dropping to his chest. He moves his hand, so that Jungkook is the one that's touching him while Namjoon wraps his hand over Jungkook's, guiding him. "Fuck, that was the hottest thing I've ever s-seen, Kook-ah. You -"

Jungkook, still enjoying the floaty, hazy post-orgasm feeling, looks up at Namjoon with heavy-lidded eyes. "I'd like to go down on you sometime," he says, all gentle and genuine.

Namjoon chokes, and comes, his eyes open wide, like he's surprised by it. His come mixes with Jungkook's over his chest, painting new designs over the tattoos. Namjoon tips over to the side, falling to the bed next to Jungkook, breathing heavily.

"You can't say things like that," Namjoon mutters into the sheets, and Jungkook giggles, reaching out to drag his fingers in between Namjoon's shoulder blades.

"I'll have you know that I can. And also, I meant it. There's so much I want to do," he starts, excited by the prospects. A whole new world is open to him, now. Namjoon groans again, but there's fondness laced in with the noise, even as he reaches out to clamp a hand over Jungkook's mouth.

"At least let the room stop spinning, you menace."

Jungkook laughs, and kisses Namjoon's palm. "Okay," he says, softly, against his hand. They both laugh when their eyes meet.

;;

Their relationship, despite its limitations, grows from strength to strength, after their first night together. Jungkook seems to revel in the new form of intimacy, matching Namjoon’s libido with curiosity and boldness.

Namjoon is… amazed, constantly. He’s amazed the first time that Jungkook goes down on him, a determined little frown on his face as he tries, and follows Namjoon’s instructions. He’s amazed by how horny Jungkook gets after a win, coming back to his apartment having texted Namjoon to meet him there, only to practically push Namjoon down on the nearest surface. He’s amazed by all the little things, too, the places where Jungkook is ticklish, and how he likes to take really long showers during which he definitely jerks off, how he always ties his hair up before cooking, and how he’s much better at that than Namjoon is.

There’s just so much about Jungkook that Namjoon loves. He loves that Jungkook is easy to read, that he’s straightforward with his emotions, even if he struggles to name them sometimes. He loves that they could have both pined for months and months, if Namjoon hadn’t decided to offer going to the baseball game. He loves that Jungkook smiles easily, and that, while his heart is guarded, he’s not unwilling to let someone in.

He’s so glad Jungkook let him in. Namjoon cherishes every moment he gets to spend with Jungkook, and he knows. He knows how he feels. He knows it’s more than cute infatuation with the hot athlete. It’s an ache when they’re apart, when Jungkook is off to an away game and all they have are texts, because Jungkook doesn’t get his own hotel room, so he can’t even Facetime. It’s the way he wants to brag about Jungkook to everyone but can’t, and won’t. It’s the goofy smile on his face whenever they meet up, be it in public or in private.

It’s everything.

;;

“What about Instagram? What did you think about me back then?” Jungkook asks one night, kind of randomly. The tips of Namjoon’s ears grow red, and Jungkook blinks, surprised. “Wait, seriously? Tell me about it,” he says, pushing at Namjoon’s chest a little to make him sit on the bed.

They’ve had dinner, they watched a drama, and Jungkook is done paying attention to anything but Namjoon, now. He straddles Namjoon’s lap in a graceful move, squeezing Namjoon’s thighs with his own as he loops his arms around Namjoon’s shoulders.

Namjoon’s own hands move to Jungkook’s thighs, ten points of contact pressing there, Jungkook’s sweatpants between them. “Your Instagram… I don’t know, the shots you take are so good. It’s so sensual, the fact that you only ever show a tiny bit of skin. It’s sexy.”

Jungkook can see the wheels turn in Namjoon’s head. He grins, because it’s cute. They’ve been having sex for a few weeks now, and Jungkook is actually surprised he never thought to ask until now. After all, his Instagram had been how they met, and he knew very well that the pictures he posted on it were… risqué, most of the time.

He gets a lot from the comments people give him, the compliments, even as crude as they could be sometimes. He enjoys it, enjoys being this anonymous person on the internet that can show his audience bits and pieces of himself. Although, lately he’d been posting a lot less. He’d been too busy basking in Namjoon’s adoration to really need strangers to tell him he’s hot.

“Have you ever jerked off to my pictures?”

Namjoon blushes further, and Jungkook gasps, unable to stop himself from laughing. “Hyung!”

“Hey, I feel bad about it, okay! I get that it’s creepy.”

Jungkook shakes his head, pushing their foreheads together as he holds onto Namjoon’s jaw in between three fingers.

“No, it’s okay, hyung. I think it’s hot, that you think I’m hot.”

Namjoon’s eyes flick up. “You know it’s not just that, either, Jungkook-ah,” he says. “Like, I don’t want you just for your body.”

“I know,” Jungkook replies simply, because he does.

“I’m serious, too, like. You make my brain liquefy with how hot you are but you’re so - amazing. You have such passion in you.”

Jungkook pulls back a tiny bit, thumb moving back and forth over the back of Namjoon’s neck. “Doesn’t it bother you? That I have to - hide you, for the sake of that passion?”

Namjoon takes a moment to reply, his hands sliding to Jungkook’s waist, steady, solid. “It doesn’t. For now, anyway. I think - I think it’s terribly unfair, that you can’t truly be yourself and have the career you’ve worked so hard for. You’ve already given up so much. But I also think… it’s not forever, and in the meantime, I do get to have you. And when we’re together, I never feel like I’m an afterthought. You give me everything.”

As Namjoon speaks, Jungkook melts into his arms, letting out a soft noise as he pushes his face into the crook of Namjoon’s neck, pressing their chests together and tightening his arms around Namjoon’s shoulders. Namjoon chuckles, the sound warm and loving.

“If that changes, you’ve got to tell me. And, just so you know, I really wish I could be like the other guys and talk about my hot tattooed boyfriend all the time. It’s so hard not to.”

“If I start to feel differently, I promise I’ll tell you,” Namjoon says with finality, and Jungkook nods, three little words stuck against the roof of his mouth.

;;

“Stay still,” Taehyung says softly, looking like he’s not actually bothered by the fact that namjoon just jerked a little.

“Sorry,” Namjoon replies, forcing himself to relax back into the tattoo chair. He’s shirtless, Taehyung hunched over him as he works on Namjoon’s latest idea, humming along with the music playing in the background.

Up in the large moon tattooed on Namjoon’s upper chest, Taehyung traces the shadow of a moon rabbit, the tattoo machine buzzing in this unmistakeable way that always lulls Namjoon into a zen-like state, the pain the only thing keeping him awake.

“So, it’s getting serious between you two, isn’t it?” Taehyung says as he stops tattooing Namjoon for a moment, wiping the area with a damp piece of kitchen towel.

“Huh?”

“The bunny. It’s for Jungkook, right?”

Namjoon blinks, looking down at Taehyung, who tilts his head back, an eyebrow raised. Taehyung has the ability to make anyone think that he’s not always completely here, but Namjoon, having been his friend for years now, should know better. Of course Taehyung noticed. Jungkook, from his Instagram username to the way he keeps on biting down on everything, has a few bunny-like tendencies that Namjoon can’t help but be fond of. Adding to it the folklore of the Moon Rabbit and its selfless and auspicious nature, and the idea just made sense to Namjoon.

“Oh. Hm. Yeah,” he ends up replying, feeling a little warm in the cheeks at Taehyung’s inquisitiveness. But Taehyung just smiles, looking pleased.

“Cool. I think I decided on my first tattoo, by the way.”

“Wait, what? Shit, that’s big news!”

Taehyung shrugs, pressing his free hand on Namjoon’s chest to keep him from moving as he gets back to work. “It’d be some lyrics I worked on with Yoongi-hyung. I wouldn’t be worried about showing those to the world, because I wrote them for that purpose.”

“And hyung would like that, too.”

Taehyung smiles. “And I’m sure Jungkook-ah will like this, too.”

;;

Jungkook bites down on a laugh as Jimin stomps through the living-room to the kitchen, his controller still in his hand.

“Can you believe this, hyung? He totally cheated!”

Jungkook watches from his current position, sitting on the floor in front of the tv, having leaned back until he’s lying down on the carpet, the Mario Kart music playing in the background.

“I don’t know why you’re surprised, Jimin-ah. You know he doesn’t play fair, he never has. I taught him everything he knows,” Seokjin replies, which makes Jungkook cackle loudly. “Now, come help hyung carry the food out.”

Jimin obeys as Jungkook sits up again, clearing the coffee table for the food. Soon enough, the three of them are settled and digging into the fried chicken they ordered, Jungkook eating with enthusiasm as always.

“Where’s your boyfriend tonight?” Jimin asks, a little smirk on his lips. Jungkook sticks out his tongue at him, before gnawing on a thigh bone, getting all the meat off.

“Why do you care?”

Jimin shrugs. “Maybe I like seeing you getting all moon-eyed. You look so stupid, it’s kinda cute.”

“Jimin-ah, don’t be mean,” Seokjin cuts in, only to turn to Jungkook too, raising an eyebrow. “You’ll offend him if you call him cute, you know that.”

Jimin laughs, and Jungkook rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling anyway, glad for the evening, for the good-natured ribbing, for his best friends. A year ago, he would never have thought of a moment like this, where they gang up on him to tease him about his boyfriend. His tall, handsome, tattooed, kind, funny, clumsy, smart boyfriend.

“Do you like him more than you like me, Jimin-hyung?” Jungkook asks, pouting a little. Jimin grins.

“Nah, but maybe I do like Taehyung-ah more than I like you. Seriously, if he and Yoongi-hyung ever need a third, I hope they ask me,” he says dreamily, and both Seokjin and Jungkook reply with gagging noises, which sends Jimin into another fit of giggles as Seokjin starts yelling about disrespect to his poor ears.

Jungkook relaxes, eating heartily, laughing along, making comments whenever he deems it necessary, mainly just intensely grateful. So, when the conversation lulls, he looks down at his chopsticks on the table, taking a deep breath before he starts speaking.

“Guys, I - I know I don’t say it often but I. I do love you, you know?”

Jimin coos softly, but Jungkook continues, looking up to meet their eyes, Seokjin smiling encouragingly.

“I just want you to know that. And that I’m so grateful for your support, and acceptance, and how you’ve just taken everything in stride. And how open you’ve been to Namjoon-hyung. It does mean the world to me, because I love him, and I love you, and I’m so glad you all get along. So just. Thank you?”

Seokjin has this serene look on his face, like he’s absorbing the words before he makes a joke. Jimin just coos a little more. “You love him?”

Jungkook flushes, but doesn’t back down. “Yeah.”

Seokjin snaps out of his moment, clicking his chopsticks against the side of his bowl. “Then don’t forget to remind him that I know plenty of torture techniques if he steps out of line.”

Jungkook chuckles, his heart feeling way too big for his chest, radiating warmth and light. “Thanks, hyung.”

;;

Jungkook giggles, his phone in his hands, tilting the screen for Namjoon to see the picture he’s just taken. It’s one of their thighs, Jungkook’s draped over Namjoon’s, a hint of underwear, and not much else. Their tattoos clash - Jungkook’s octopus tentacles seeming to reach for the script on Namjoon’s thigh, just above the pattern on his knees. It’s one of his earliest tattoos, and not exactly his favorite, as the ink has spread a little, making the letters difficult to decipher. But he still knows the words, and he still cares for them, lyrics from a song he wrote years and years ago, when his future felt bleaker than it does now.

He’d played it for Jungkook when he’d asked, played everythinggoes for him, and Jungkook had cried a little. Namjoon realized fairly early that Jungkook cries easily.

“You’re okay with me posting it?” Jungkook asks, bringing Namjoon right back to the moment.

“Are you sure you want to? It’s riskier than anything you’ve ever posted before.”

Jungkook shrugs. “I locked my account and kicked out any follower I found suspicious the other day. Did a bit of spring cleaning. So yeah, it’s still a risk, but I want to.”

Namjoon leans in, kissing Jungkook’s temple. “I love how brave you are,” he says, and Jungkook beams up at him. Namjoon watches him edit the picture for a bit, and then get on to Instagram, loading up the picture and writing up a caption.

“Our bodies were printed as blank pages, to be filled with the ink of our hearts,” Namjoon reads aloud, pressing the words to Jungkook’s skin. He smiles. “God, I love you.”

Jungkook presses the share button, and then drops his phone by his side, turning into Namjoon’s arms. “I love you too,” he says, before kissing him soundly, full of laughter. “Now can I ride you?”

Namjoon doesn’t have to be asked twice.

;;

The end