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There’s a lone textbook sitting on a table in the cafeteria and Jungkook doesn’t know who it belongs to.

Usually Jungkook would ignore this kind of thing, but there are no bags sitting by the table and the textbook is pretty big, meaning it must be important in some way or another. How can someone forget a textbook? Should Jungkook just leave it here and hope the person comes back? Now that he’s spotted the book he feels a responsibility he can’t shake, like if this person fails their next exam it will be his fault because he didn’t stop someone else from stealing it. Textbooks are in high demand. If Jungkook doesn’t do something about this, this textbook could go to anyone. He looks around, searching for someone he doesn’t know a single thing about, waiting for a person to run up to him explaining that it’s theirs and they left it behind. When no one does such a thing, Jungkook keeps standing there dumbly staring at this book wondering what to do next.

Apparently, after standing still in front of the table for a second too long and looking like an idiot, Jungkook thinks the best course of action is to sit at the table for fifteen minutes waiting for the person to come back. Which they don’t, so now he’s missed a class and is apparently in ownership of a book that isn’t his. When he finally works up the courage to pull it closer to him, he notices that it’s a library book, and that just makes him freak out even more because oh my god, what if they never return this and they end up with a fine? Is Jungkook allowed to return it on their behalf? But wait, if Jungkook returns it, and they need it for an exam, they could fail, and that just brings him back to square one. He’s seen the book. He’s aware of the book’s existence. To not do anything at all could hinder someone’s GPA, but taking the lawfully right course of action and returning it to the library could do the exact same thing.

Before Jungkook can think too much more about it, he picks up the textbook and brings it home with him.

“Aren’t you meant to be in class?” Taehyung calls out as soon as Jungkook has opened the door and slipped his shoes off. He rolls his eyes, trudging into their living room where Taehyung is playing video games on the couch. He has a test tomorrow. His notes are lying open and forgotten on the coffee table.

“I found this textbook,” Jungkook explains, holding it up. Taehyung pauses his game for just long enough to take a look at what’s in Jungkook’s hands before returning his attention to the television.

“Cool, how much are you gonna sell it for?” he asks, because that’s exactly what Taehyung would do.

Jungkook rolls his eyes. “I’m not gonna sell it, dickhead. I’m gonna try and find whose it is.”

“Just post on Facebook, someone will claim it.”

“Yeah, of course ‘someone’ will, it’s a free textbook. There’s no guarantee it’s actually theirs though,” Jungkook points out, joining Taehyung on the couch to investigate the book some more. It’s heavy, and the only identifying mark on it is the number up the spine that the library uses to catalogue it by. He traces the number a few times over with his pointer finger, pondering to himself.

“What are you gonna do then?” Taehyung asks next. Jungkook doesn’t know if he’s genuinely interested or just humouring him. They haven’t been living together for very long, considering Jungkook is just a freshman that really didn’t want to stay in the dorms, so he’s still learning how to read the other boy. They aren’t necessarily friends by any means, but Taehyung has proved himself to be an alright roommate so far, except when he leaves the dishes piled up for Jungkook to come home to. You could say they’re still a work-in-progress.

Whatever his reasons, Jungkook answers him anyway. “It’s a library book. But if I return it to the library, the person might not get it back, and they need it.”

“Surely the library could just call them or something.”

“I don’t want to risk it!”

“You’re too good,” Taehyung says, serious all of a sudden, and he pauses his game, placing the controller down onto the coffee table on top of his study notes like they’re not even there. “It’s not your problem. You’re missing class for this and you don’t even know them.”

Jungkook feels a bit small; tiny, even, under Taehyung’s gaze, shrugging his shoulders a little to express his apparent nonchalance. “I mean, if it was me that lost it, I’d hope that the person would try and find me to give it back.”

“But how do you expect to find him? There are thousands of people on campus, Jungkook. It’s pointless.”

Jungkook stands abruptly, taking the textbook with him. “Everything is pointless. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” he says stubbornly, collecting his bag off the floor to head back to his room.

Taehyung frowns, watching him. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I just mean that everything we do doesn’t have a point unless we give it one. The point of trying to return this is to make someone happy. I’m giving it that point because I want to.” Taehyung simply gapes at him as he beelines for his bedroom in order to further figure this out. He pauses in front of the hallway, though, turning around one last time to gesture towards the piles of papers on the coffee table. “Your test is tomorrow. You should try reading those beforehand. It’s pointless even taking it otherwise.”

Taehyung blinks, staring down at his notes as though seeing them for the first time. He shakes his head, saves his game, and starts picking up all the fallen papers on the floor while Jungkook retreats to his room for some privacy.

Staring at the textbook, Jungkook wonders what his next move should be. All he has is a serial number. The only way to get any details out of that is to be connected to the library database. Which he isn’t.

Jungkook smiles. He has an idea of how he could be, though.

 

 

Standing in front of the university library’s front door, Jungkook realises that this is probably not going to be as easy as he originally expected it to be. He has a random lanyard hanging around his neck, and he’s printed out a ‘library staff’ card to slide into the plastic case, but he honestly doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to pull this off. He’d tried searching up the number of the book online, like that would do anything for him, and the website had just come up telling him that the book is on lease. Jungkook knows that. He’s holding onto it right now.

The idea behind this is that Jungkook will walk in, wait until one of the librarian’s computers is free, and search up who the book is loaned out to. He’s supposed to look so cool in his old prom suit, walking into the library with purpose and finding the owner of this lost book in seconds. Initially, Jungkook had imagined the Mission Impossible soundtrack playing as he exited the building having discovered all the information he had needed, book under his arm, library exploding in the background in slow motion.

Instead, Jungkook enters the library and paces in a panic for half an hour.

There are so many people here. He feels like they’re all staring at him, some guy who is clearly a student wandering around the library on a Thursday in a full tuxedo like he’s a businessman or something. God, Taehyung had told him he was crazy for doing this, but it doesn’t really click into place until now. “Jesus Christ, Jungkook,” he had said, rolling his eyes. “You don’t even know the guy. Why are you putting so much effort into this?”

Jungkook couldn’t answer that question at the time and he still can’t now. Why is he doing this? He’s about to attempt to break into the database of the educational institution he’s enrolled in just to find a person who’s lent out a textbook. He should just walk up and hand it to the first librarian he sees. He should just forget about it. It doesn’t even have anything to do with him.

Regardless, Jungkook still ends up gathering enough courage to casually walk up to a free computer and set the book down on the table next to it. He thinks he looks suave enough and totally not nervous at all. Cracking his neck, playing it cool, Jungkook turns to the computer and is abruptly faced with a login screen.

Oh, no. Jungkook is so dumb. Jungkook is so, so, so dumb. Of course he needs to login to the staff computer. Of course he needs staff credentials. That should have been obvious. That should have been the first thing Jungkook thought about before rocking up here to use the first computer he found for the purpose of stalking an unknown student. That sounds so bad in his head. Jungkook wants to die. He shuffles away from the computer and hides his head in his hands on a bench nearby.

What’s he supposed to do now? He considers texting Taehyung an S.O.S., but he’d probably just get laughed at, and that’s way too embarrassing to have to face. Another option is to just leg it out of here and think of something else, but Jungkook has no idea what else there is for him to do besides just return the book. Jungkook doesn’t want to return the book. Now that he’s set himself up for this, to do anything but find the owner of the book himself would feel like failing, or maybe giving up. Jungkook isn’t having that at all. There has to be another option.

As though God himself is listening to his internal monologue, Jungkook watches as another staff member walks away from their computer, evidently to do something quickly as they didn’t feel the need to log out, leaving the screen completely free for anyone to use. For Jungkook to use, if he so desires. Before Jungkook can change his mind, he’s leaping off the bench beneath him and racing towards the computer, unaware of how much time he has before the librarian comes back.

Now Jungkook is faced with a screen that looks like it’s been Photoshopped straight from the year 1998.

Fuck, is this dial-up? The website he’s on is surely older than Myspace. There are no graphics anywhere on the page, all the writing is in Times New Roman and the mouse moves half a second slower than it should. Jungkook scans the sidebar, almost in desperation, but none of the terms there make any sense to him. He stares at the serial number on the textbook in horror, frantically typing it into the search bar, waiting the torturous two minutes it takes for the next page to load only for the results to come up blank. Jungkook gapes at the computer, utterly lost, then nearly jumps out of his skin when someone loudly clears their throat beside him.

Great. The librarian is back. “Is there something I can help you with?” he says, sounding suspicious but trying not to accuse.

Jungkook gulps. “Sorry, was just looking for something and this computer was free. I think I’m alright though. Thanks!” With that, Jungkook departs from the computer and walks as swiftly as he can towards the exit without looking like too much of a dumbass. As the fresh air hits Jungkook’s face, sunlight welcoming him back out into the world, there is no slow motion. The only explosion that is set off is the one inside Jungkook’s stomach as he groans and sinks to the ground, banging the textbook against his head furiously. He can never enter this library again. He’s mortified for life. To make matters worse, he still has this fucking textbook and he still has no fucking idea who it belongs to.

Taehyung doesn’t ask questions when he comes home and bypasses the living room, collapsing head first straight onto his bed with a load and agonizing groan. The older boy simply closes his door for him on the way in to let him ruminate in peace. At least sometimes, he’s a decent enough roommate.

It’s not until later in the night that Taehyung hesitantly knocks on his door, poking his head in curiously to see if Jungkook has moved. He hasn’t. He’s lying still with his eyes closed trying to nap, but he opens one eye upon Taehyung’s entrance, raising an eyebrow. “What’s cookin’, good lookin’?” Taehyung greets, throwing two finger guns at him. Jungkook doesn’t react, staring blankly. Taehyung sighs and rolls his eyes. “Look. So you didn’t find your book owner. That’s chill! I have a friend who’s studying IT and he’s like, a crazy good hacker. He’s not free tomorrow but you can hit him up the day after if you want.”

Jungkook sits up, intrigued but somewhat concerned. “Isn’t that illegal?”

Taehyung frowns. “And you trying to use the library database for the same purpose wasn’t?”

He’s got Jungkook on that one. “Okay, fair. What time is he free?”

 

 

Yoongi Min isn’t anything more or less than what Jungkook expected him to be. He opens the door to his apartment dressed in black, ushering Jungkook in with a wave and a small smile. He doesn’t say much and his house smells like sandalwood, as though he has incense burning somewhere that Jungkook can’t see. It’s kind of awkward, but Taehyung had assured him that it would be totally fine and that Yoongi would be happy to do this for him. Which he is.

“It’s a hobby anyway,” Yoongi says with a shrug, waving off Jungkook’s offer of payment (even though he can’t afford it). “Improves my skills and that. But also this could get you expelled. Just thought I’d warn you.”

Jungkook gulps, pretending he doesn’t hear that. “It’s fine,” he says a little brokenly, then hands Yoongi the book.

Jungkook doesn’t know how any of this hacking stuff works, but Yoongi works quickly, quickly enough that Jungkook has no idea if he’s close to finding any of the information or not. Yoongi explains that this information is actually pretty public if you look in the right places. Jungkook chooses to ignore that little slice of info, wondering how many people out there could potentially find his address and steal his mail or something. Then again, they can also technically find his address by following him home, which is a thousand times creepier. Jungkook almost prefers this method if it means at least he doesn’t have to be aware of it.

“All done. His name is Jimin Park,” Yoongi says proudly, after only ten minutes of searching. Jungkook, frazzled, hurries to write down his address as Yoongi provides it, hands shaking, unsure and sprinkled with doubt. Is this really the right thing to do? God, what if this guy calls the police as soon as he turns up at the front door? Should he drop the book and run? But what if he trips? God, that would be so embarrassing. Jungkook would never be able to live it down.

“Hey, are you okay?” Yoongi asks, waving a hand in front of Jungkook’s face. He’s spacing out again, staring down at the little piece of paper in his hands like it has the potential to rip out his teeth. He gulps, carefully folding it away and tucking it into his pocket. The book is still on the table in front of him, too, so Jungkook grabs that as well and curls himself around it, as though it’s a pillow, or something equally as comforting.

“’M fine,” Jungkook says, less than convincing. Yoongi doesn’t know him all that well, though, so he doesn’t really think it’s his place to say anything. He smiles, tapping Jungkook on the knee with his palm, the nicest gesture he feels he can provide given their current situation.

“As long as you’re sure.” Yoongi seeks the confirmation, only nodding in satisfaction when Jungkook rushes to affirm it. “In that case, you got a book to return, kid. Glad I could help.”

“Thank you!” Jungkook squeaks, expressing his gratitude incessantly, hoping this is enough to show his appreciation. Yoongi tells him it’s fine, he doesn’t need to do that, and leads him back out to the hallway outside his apartment. They say their goodbyes. Jungkook heads towards the elevator.

Outside, the world has become a niveous haze, everything tinted pale and faded, light snow dusting everything in its path. Jungkook gasps, standing out in the middle of the sidewalk, turning his face to the sky. It’s not cold enough for the ice to stick, but the city looks so pretty like this, like they’re confined within their own tiny snow globe and Jungkook’s just waiting for them to get all shaken up again so that more snow can fall at his feet. He giggles, feeling far more confident now that he has such a pretty view to accompany him on the journey to the book owner’s dwelling.

His hands are cold, but he thinks it’s worth it since he has the privilege of seeing a sight like this. He warms up on the train, sitting in a corner rubbing his palms together, book heavy and present in his lap. He tries to ignore the reality of what he’s doing, but it’s hard when it’s so nearby, and he’s so close to facing it. He’s just trying to do the right thing, but what if the right thing isn’t accepted as well as he wants it to be? What if the right thing in his terms isn’t the same as someone else’s?

Jungkook debates these questions in his head nonstop as he walks along lined streets of apartments in a more well-off area of the city. Most of them are more like flats, skinny homes with three floors stuck close to one another like they’re glued. Jungkook almost misses the right address entirely, too lost in his own head to realise he’s supposed to stop. On his right, there’s a pale blue house with a big white door waiting for him to knock on it. He double checks, triple checks, quadruple checks the address in his pocket, but this is definitely the right place.

It’s still snowing, but Jungkook’s cheeks are warm. He hesitantly climbs up the steps and knocks three times on the front door, stomach churning in knots, because all of a sudden he’s been hit with the weight of what he’s done. This is super illegal, isn’t it? The person behind this door is going to call the police. Jungkook is so done for. He’s so done for, and he’s considering making a run for it, but then there’s footsteps on the other side of the door and voices and oh god this is really it I’m about to lose everything—

A short boy with fluffy black hair opens the door. He has rounded cheeks, a cute nose, and his pretty brown eyes widen at the sight of Jungkook standing at his doorstep, his own hair probably covered in tiny snowflakes, settling onto his shoulders and the ends of his fringe. Beside the boy stands another, someone taller, with tanned skin and dark hair and a unique face that Jungkook swears he’s seen before but can’t quite place it. His hand rests comfortably on the shorter boy’s waist, he, too, eyeing Jungkook curiously from the doorway. “Hello,” the taller one says, licking his lips. Jungkook feels a little bit like he’s being scrutinised, but he can’t tell if it’s a good or bad feeling. “Can we help you?”

“Um,” Jungkook says, terrified and unsure. “I’m looking for Jimin Park?”

The shorter boy raises an eyebrow, clearly recognising himself in Jungkook’s words. “That’s me. What is it?”

“I found your textbook,” Jungkook blurts, thrusting the bulky thing out at him like it’s physically repulsive. Jimin eyes the book as though only just realising Jungkook is holding it, face brightening in recognition. “Thought you might need it so. Yeah. I’m dropping it off.”

Jimin reaches for the textbook, taking it out of Jungkook’s hands tenderly, beaming in delight. “Oh my god, I’ve been looking everywhere for this! Joonie, look, this is the book I was talking about, I need it to study for my final tomorrow,” he gushes, showing the cover to the boy beside him. ‘Joonie’, apparently, smiles fondly at who Jungkook can only assume is his significant other, eyes thinning and cheeks flushing pink, a single dimple popping in at the corner of his mouth. Jimin, still grinning brightly, turns back to Jungkook with a happy bounce. “Where did you find it?” he asks, running one of his hands along the spine.

Jungkook’s feet are frozen to the ground beneath him, much like his hands are in this bitter cold. “Um. The uh. The cafeteria,” he replies. Joonie’s hand is still wrapped around Jimin’s waist. Jungkook can see the way he leans into it, comfortable with their intimacy, and god, his waist is so pretty. So is his face. Both of their faces are very pretty, actually, Jungkook realises, and it’s starting to inhibit his ability of speech.

“I thought I left it somewhere! Thank you for bringing it back. How did you find me, by the way?” Jimin asks next, but Jungkook feels like his brain is shutting down. They’re both looking at him, gazes intense and kind, seeking out the parts of him he feels like he’s trying to hide. Joonie is leaning against the doorframe, Jimin tucked into him, their bodies intertwined in a way Jungkook can’t stop staring at. They look good together. They look so very, very good together. Jungkook opens his mouth to answer Jimin’s question, but he closes it, not knowing how to explain himself, terrified of their reaction. He looks up at their faces. Jimin raises an eyebrow.

“Hey,” Joonie says suddenly, standing taller, which Jungkook didn’t think was possible. “Have I seen you somewhere before?”

“Have a nice day,” Jungkook blurts, and sprints away from their front door. They call out to him, but he doesn’t listen, wind loud in his ears, heart beating at a thousand miles a minute. He slips a bit on the concrete while he runs, which is terribly embarrassing, but no matter what he refuses to look back. How is he supposed to explain exactly what lengths he went to in order to bring Jimin’s textbook back to him? They’ll report him for sure. Thank god he didn’t tell them his name! Will he have to start tearing down WANTED posters tomorrow? Jungkook contemplates his options as he sits on the train home, cheek against the window, a little bit more than mopey. A deep, feral part of him, the most unrealistic hollowed corner of his chest, wishes that he could have met the couple under different circumstances. Sue him, alright—they’re both so beautiful, in that could-be-Instagram-famous kind of way. He’d been too nervous to really think about it earlier, standing in front of those godlike men, too gorgeous to be real. Now that he’s alone with his thoughts, it dawns on him—the true weight of their beauty. It’s too heavy. Jungkook thinks he will probably collapse in mere moments.

“My body is too weak,” he says to Taehyung later, face down on his bed again, kicking his feet in frustration. “I’m carrying this knowledge that these people exist and can find me and I can find them—I know where they live, Taehyung! And they have these—these fucking, jawlines and, a-and cheekbones! Cheekbones, Tae!”

“You have cheekbones,” Taehyung points out unhelpfully. He’s sitting to Jungkook’s side with a hand in the younger boy’s hair, massaging soothing motions into his skull. That’s what he’s attempting to do, anyway. He’s not sure how successful he’s being, with Jungkook still complaining into his sheets and all, but regardless, he continues to do his very best.

“That’s not what I’m saying,” Jungkook groans, but Taehyung knows that. “What am I supposed to do now?”

Taehyung shrugs. “Go back to classes and pretend this never happened.”

Jungkook likes to live by avoidance, so after much encouragement from his roommate to emerge from his bedroom to eat something, he decides he’ll do exactly that. Jimin has his textbook back, so he’s going to ace his final, return to kissing his very attractive boyfriend and live his lovely beautiful-person life without Jungkook in it.

Then Jungkook walks into his media class, turns around and walks right back out again.

 

taehyung

dear god taehyung help

hes here hes ufcing here thr

 

who??

JOONIE

whos that

rot in hell

 

“Are you coming in?” Jungkook’s tutor is standing there with the door open. Jungkook nearly drops his phone in shock, but other than that has no idea how to respond. He catches sight of Joonie again, sitting on his phone in the far corner of the room, laptop closed in front of him on the table.

“In a moment,” Jungkook wheezes, opening up his texts again.

 

ive done nothing to deserve hell

you’ve forgotten my plight

of the lost textbook

didn’t you resolve that

that was yesterday

now joonie is in my class

where’s joonie from

jimins bf

whos jimin

are u fkin serious rn

ooooh the textbook owner

the hot ones

just ignore him

tae u don’t understand

i fled from this man yesterday in an act of cowardice

theres no way he wont notice me and make me explain what ive done

i see no other alternative

you must drop out of university

ah fuck

i had a good run i guess

youre a freshman

so it goes

 

“I thought I knew you from somewhere,” a voice in front of Jungkook speaks up, shocking Jungkook enough to actually drop his phone for real this time. He’s paralysed, rooted to the spot just like he had been at Jimin and Joonie’s front door, except now Joonie has Jungkook’s phone in his hands and there’s no escape.

“Small world,” Jungkook chokes. Joonie is grinning at him from ear to ear. It only makes Jungkook feel worse.

“I believe this is yours?” Joonie offers, outstretching his hand. Jungkook takes it and wishes he had never been born.

The thing with university is that Jungkook doesn’t know the people in his classes. He recognises the people that sit at his table each week, but beyond his peripheral vision, nobody else exists. He doesn’t even know their names. Naturally, this means that Jungkook hadn’t expected Joonie to pop up in his media class, of all places. It’s rather humiliating.

“I’m Namjoon, by the way. I knew I recognised you from somewhere,” Joonie continues, seemingly unbothered by Jungkook’s lack of provision of a two-way conversation. “Did you have somewhere to be yesterday?” He’s being cheeky. Jungkook doesn’t think this can be any more embarrassing than it already is, but the reminder of his pathetic Pokèmon-style flee-from-battle moment the day before makes everything so much worse. How dare this beautiful, ridiculously dimple-y man remind him of his weakest moment, right now, when he’s at his most vulnerable?

Jungkook opens his mouth, then closes it again. He looks up at Namjoon (He’s taller than you, Jungkook’s brain chirps, which is so not what he wants to be thinking about right now) and winces, hoping that his eyes express his own disappointment in himself. “Yes?” he replies after far too long, inflecting up at the end so obviously it can’t be anything but a lie.

To Jungkook’s surprise, the boy in front of him laughs, eyes crinkling in the corners as he shakes his head in something like disbelief. “Alright, I get it. Wanna come and sit with me?”

Jungkook doesn’t know what Namjoon means, but he finds himself sitting next to him through the entire class anyway. Against his better judgement, he does tell Namjoon his name, but manages to avoid answering the questions about how he knows where he lives. The whole scenario feels out-of-body, like it’s someone else sitting here and not Jungkook, like someone else is living out their perfect Wattpad fantasy and not him. Well, not quite a perfect Wattpad fantasy. Jungkook still has to figure out how to explain his own impulsive behaviour regarding illegally finding Jimin and Namjoon’s address, as well as the fact that they’re in a relationship and are, therefore, totally out-of-bounds when it comes to Jungkook’s potential romantic bonding with them.

Maybe a Wattpad fantasy isn’t the right metaphor at all. Jungkook thinks he might be taking this analogy a little too far.

By the end of the class, Jungkook has Namjoon’s number in his phone and he has no idea how this happened to him.

“Oh, you survived,” Taehyung says once Jungkook staggers back into their apartment, still perfectly shell-shocked. He sounds surprised. Jungkook is too confused to take offense to this, choosing instead to flop down heavily on the couch, eyebrows furrowed together the same way they have been nearly all afternoon. “Okay, so maybe not survived completely,” Taehyung goes on, but he doesn’t sound concerned. He keeps munching on the chips in his lap, chips Jungkook hadn’t noticed before, and the crunch brings him back to nearly full attention. Before he answers, he reaches out with grabby hands, and Taehyung rolls his eyes but hands him the bowl without protest.

“So ‘is name ‘s Nam’oon,” Jungkook announces around a mouthful, “an’ now I ‘ave ‘is num’er.”

“Come again?”

Jungkook swallows. “His name is Namjoon and now I have his number,” he repeats, but he doesn’t sound terribly happy about it. He shoves another handful of chips into his mouth while he stares at the coffee table, sulking.

“Isn’t Jimin his boyfriend?” Taehyung asks, just as confused as Jungkook, and Jungkook groans and drops his head into his hands.

“Yes! Exactly! So he was probably just being nice?” When Jungkook looks up, he appears vaguely hysterical, speech coming faster as he shovels more and more chips into his mouth. “Like, he has a boyfriend, so he’s totally just being nice, like he’ll send me notes or something, or maybe like, the occasional meme? Giving someone your number doesn’t mean you necessarily want to date them, I totally get that, it’s 2019, don’t assume people’s intentions, but oh my god Taehyung, he’s so hot. He was smiling at me the entire time and I was just staring at him like some sort of weirdo. I’m totally a weirdo. I illegally found his boyfriend’s address through some shady guy that smells like sandalwood, which is probably to cover the smell of weed or like maybe crystal meth, and it’s also his address, not just his boyfriend’s address, it’s totally his address too, I’m gonna go to jail—”

“Oh my god would you please shut up?” Taehyung interrupts, cutting him off. “Yoongi is not shady and he doesn’t have a meth lab.”

“That doesn’t rule out the weed,” Jungkook replies meekly, sinking further into the couch.

“That’s beside the point. You’re thinking about this too much.”

“I think I’m thinking about this the perfectly right amount,” Jungkook argues, petulant. “Also you ignored the part where I’m gonna go to jail.”

“You are not going to go to jail, Namjoon is just being nice because you did something that helped his boyfriend, he probably doesn’t think you stalked him, and Yoongi isn’t growing weed in his apartment,” Taehyung says calmly, hoping to appease his younger roommate. It works, to an extent, because Jungkook gives the chips back and allows himself to take a deep breath.

“Okay but that totally means he’s smoking it—”

“Are we done here?” Taehyung asks. Jungkook hesitates, then nods. “Good. You’re gonna be fine. I still don’t understand why you went to so much effort in the first place.”

“Remember like three weeks ago when you came home and I was about to throw the microwave off our balcony because I watched a conspiracy video on YouTube that told me the radiation would give me a disease?”

“Vividly, yes.”

“I’m like, super extra,” Jungkook says flatly, like that explains everything. Taehyung decides he’ll take it, shrugging and ending the conversation by unmuting the TV. Jungkook is no longer interested, so he trudges back to his room, collapsing into his bed while he stares at Namjoon’s contact in his phone. He won’t text him, obviously. He’ll just stare at the number for a bit and accidentally memorise it because he’s a freak and thinks Namjoon is being too kind for his own good.

The thing is, Jungkook has seen a lot of attractive people in his life. Hell, he’s had his fair share of attractive people express an interest in him, too. He knows he’s cute enough. The existence of Jimin and Namjoon shouldn’t be affecting him so much, but there’s just something about the way they’d looked together. How Namjoon’s hands had wrapped so nicely around Jimin’s waist—how Jungkook, albeit briefly, had imagined himself between them, wrapped up entirely on both sides and safe from the world. Is it something about the unattainable? The fact that there’s two of them, not one, and Jungkook wants to make himself a part of that?

It’s too soon for him to say. Besides, it’s impossible for him to form a crush on some guys he’s met only once or twice. He may be impulsive, but he’s not that impulsive.

 

 

It’s only two days later that Jungkook meets Jimin again. He thinks there must be a science behind it, how you suddenly notice people that have always been there. That faces are all unfamiliar until you have a name, and a bit of a story, and suddenly they’re everywhere, pulling you in, saying Hey, I’m here, right here, I’ve been here the whole time. Jimin smiles at him across a corridor. Jungkook wouldn’t have paid him any attention before, wouldn’t have looked up from his phone, wouldn’t have thought to see. Now he knows what Jimin looks like, has felt the brush of his fingers along his own, the brief handover of the textbook, and Jungkook’s skin still burns.

“Jungkookie!” he calls out, way too familiar and overly excited. “Namjoonie told me you’re in his media class, isn’t that such a coincidence?” He’s bounding over before Jungkook has the time to think, not quite touching him but close enough that Jungkook can see he’s wearing pretty blue contact lenses. He also smells like peaches, which totally isn’t fair. Jungkook’s mouth nearly waters.

What’s with these guys acting like they’ve known Jungkook forever? Do they do this with everybody? He feels like they’re the kind of men that could easily have a harem of individuals ready to bend to their every beck and call and if Jungkook isn’t careful, he’s going to become one of them.

When Jimin is smiling at him so sweetly like this, though, he finds it hard to question why that would really be such a bad idea. “Yeah, uh, it—it really is. Hi,” Jungkook replies awkwardly, again far too many seconds too late.

“I just really wanted to thank you again for bringing my textbook back to me,” Jimin explains earnestly, biting his lip. Why the fuck is he biting his lip? The reminder of the textbook has Jungkook reeling with guilt again, brain fumbling with an excuse that can get him out of here, but he comes up blank. He can’t stop staring at Jimin’s lips.

“You’re—you’re welcome,” Jungkook chokes, fiddling with the strap on his bag. He thinks about Namjoon and turns away from Jimin’s mouth, forcing himself to look into his eyes. Somehow that’s worse. Jungkook thinks he might die, again.

“I actually got you something really small as a thank you, I was so worried I’d flump that final but you saved me big time,” Jimin continues, reaching into his bag.

Jungkook panics. “What? Oh my god no, it’s so fine, you didn’t have to get me anything, I really didn’t go to all that much effort you don’t need to—”

“Relax,” Jimin chuckles, which shuts Jungkook up instantly. He presses a chocolate bar into his palm. “It’s dairy-free. Just in case,” he comments offhandedly with a shrug, like this isn’t the single most thoughtful thing anyone has done for Jungkook ever. He’s actually speechless for a good few seconds, staring at the hazelnut chocolate bar, gripping tightly onto it like a lifeline.

“T-thank you,” he manages finally, slipping the chocolate bar into his pocket, fully accepting that he’ll devour it whole as soon as Jimin is out of sight. “You really didn’t have to,” he adds as an afterthought, finding it appropriate to say.

“I know. But I wanted to.” They lapse into awkward silence after that. Jimin doesn’t appear to be too bothered by it, but Jungkook is about to crawl out of his skin if he has to withstand another moment of this.

“Well, I was actually just on my way to a class, so…” Jungkook hints, gesturing randomly to one of the hallways, uncomfortable on his feet. On one hand, he wants to keep staring at Jimin forever, but on the other, he knows if he does he’ll say something really stupid like I think you’re so pretty or Yesterday I thought about watching you and your boyfriend kiss.

Yeah. It’s better for him to get out of here, and fast.

“Oh, of course!” Jimin exclaims, hurrying out of his way. “I’ll see you soon, yes?”

Jungkook doesn’t know what else to do besides squeak an affirmative and scurry down a random corridor as quickly as he can, in the complete opposite direction of his class. He doesn’t stop until his lungs burn, hunching over on the sidewalk to catch his breath. He’s in a sector of his university that he doesn’t recognise, but he doesn’t care at all as he rips his water bottle off the side of his bag, gulping down water like he hasn’t had a drink in days. It’s probably not normal for a person to be so worked up over something like this. Jimin’s just a boy. Just one boy out of the many boys Jungkook has spoken to in his eighteen years.

Namjoon is, admittedly, also just a boy.

Jungkook sits down on a bench nearby, wondering if his class is even worth going to anymore since now he has to take the long way around—if he can even find it from here. After a few moments of agonising contemplation, he decides he really shouldn’t be skipping any more of his classes and trudges off in the general direction of where he came from, hoping he finds where he’s meant to be along the way. Now that Jimin’s thanked him properly and knows his name, Jungkook figures that should hopefully be the end of it and he won’t have to deal with this type of twisted humiliation again. The past few days have already been more than he can take.

Unfortunately for Jungkook, as these things generally go, Namjoon is waiting for him outside their media class the following week. “Not a fan of texting?” he jokes, leaning coolly against the wall like one of Jungkook’s pre-pubescent high school fantasies.

“Um,” Jungkook says in reply. Words don’t come easy when you’re staring at a man in light denim boyfriend jeans and a peach sweater that makes him look positively delectable.

“So articulate,” Namjoon teases. “It must be the freshman in you.”

“Is it that obvious?” Jungkook winces, self-conscious as Namjoon opens the door for him, waving him inside. The gesture makes him blush as he ducks his head on the way through, trying not to let it show. “And don’t make fun of me, I only met you last week.”

“You don’t like it when things move too fast? That’s okay, we can take it slow.”

What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? Jungkook’s brain starts setting off alarms he didn’t even know he had, ringing in his ears like little handheld bells from all directions, swarming his senses and ricocheting across his skull. That’s totally flirting. Jungkook isn’t oblivious enough not to realise when a man is openly flirting with him. The difference here is that Namjoon is not a single man—his boyfriend had given Jungkook a chocolate bar, for fuck’s sake. They’re all perfectly well acquainted, so this has to be some sort of joke. It has to be, because Jungkook likes it so much and if it’s a joke then at least he can excuse himself for it. Namjoon is flirting with him and Jungkook hates that he wants him to keep going. He hates that he wants to see where this goes, hates that the fact that Namjoon is dating Jimin doesn’t put him off at all—rather, it thrills him in a way he can’t quite describe. Not because of the secrecy of some sort of rousing affair. That’s not what excites him.

What excites Jungkook is the image of Jimin sitting across the room, watching him intently as Namjoon’s fingers flutter along his neck. He imagines Jimin approaching them slowly, eyes fixed on Jungkook like his prey, steps fluid and rhythmic and sure. He imagines Jimin’s hands on his back, pressing him closer into Namjoon’s body, commanding them to kiss.

Jungkook wants to watch while Jimin and Namjoon kiss.

He’s never had thoughts like these over a couple before and it terrifies him. It surely can’t be what Namjoon wants—Jungkook doesn’t even know if a relationship like that really exists. He’s heard bits and pieces about it, about three people kissing and cuddling and dating instead of two, but the likelihood of that being what this could be is so slim Jungkook doesn’t even want to entertain the thought lest he inevitably gets let down when Namjoon is only looking for a bit of flirting. Instead he coughs and splutters and pretends he doesn’t know what Namjoon is hinting at and panics through the remainder of the class, cheeks flushed hot under Namjoon’s gaze. Namjoon doesn’t stop looking at him the entire time.

Jungkook thinks he’s in some serious trouble.

 

 

Somehow, Jungkook runs into Jimin again in the cafeteria a few days later, then finds Namjoon in the supermarket over the weekend. He’s seriously beginning to entertain the possibility that these two boys are stalking him instead of the other way around. It must be some type of payback, like they both figured out how awful Jungkook is and now they’re trying to give him a taste of his own medicine by spiralling him into paranoia.

Jungkook is probably exaggerating just a bit. He doesn’t see them everywhere, but when he can’t get them off his mind it surely does feel like it. A few weeks pass of these chance encounters, Jimin in line behind him for coffee and Namjoon insisting they work together in class, until one fated day Jungkook receives a text on his phone.

 

did you forget you gave me this?

 

It’s Namjoon. Of course it’s Namjoon.

 

gave you what?

your phone number

i gave you mine too, i do recall

considering you haven’t yet asked to whom youre speaking to

oh right

um

no i didn’t forget

then why the silence?

i just

didn’t know what to say?

sorry

cute

im just teasing

i was actually texting to ask if you wanted to go to this film festival with me on the weekend

study for class, and all that

?

let me just check my schedule

 

“TAEHYUNG!” Jungkook screams, throwing himself out of bed and across his apartment to his roommate’s bedroom. “TAEHYUNG I IMMEDIATELY REQUIRE YOUR ASSISTANCE!”

“Stop shouting, holy fuck,” Taehyung grumbles, rolling over on his bed only to be thrown back against it again from the force of Jungkook’s body landing on top of him. “Jesus, what is with you? What’s the problem? Get off me, you’re heavy as shit, god.”

Jungkook ignores him, hands shaking as he thrusts his phone into Taehyung’s face. “Look at this, oh my god Taehyung, is he asking me out? What the fuck? He called me cute, what the fuck.”

Taehyung fumbles at his side table for his glasses, shooing Jungkook’s hands away when he tries to forcefully push the glasses onto his face in order for him to hurry up and read the damn text already. “Film festival? He clearly says right there that it’s for class. Don’t you do media together?”

Jungkook groans, shoving himself off of Taehyung’s body to lie next to him on the bed instead, staring at the messages as if they’ll change if Jungkook looks away. “Do you know nothing? He called me cute first! Cute!”

“That’s because you are,” Taehyung points out, shrugging. “You’re reading into it too much again.”

“He has a boyfriend, he shouldn’t call me cute when he has a boyfriend, that’s so against the rules,” Jungkook gushes. Taehyung thinks that if he gets any more hysterical, the poor boy is going to explode.

“Just say yes you’ll go. It’s fine.”

“It’s so not fine.”

“Oh my god get out of my fucking room.” To emphasise his point, Taehyung dramatically turns over so his back is to Jungkook, tired of his theatrics. It’s been like this for the past few weeks—Jungkook will come home and collapse on Taehyung’s chest, waxing poetic about Namjoon’s smile or Jimin’s eyes or anything else of the like, and it’s starting to drive Taehyung a bit insane. There’s only so much whining he can take and it’s safe to say he’s at his limit.

Jungkook grumbles something incoherent and doesn’t move, but he does stop bothering Taehyung about it as he bites his lip and stares at his phone, considering. Surely, it’s not that bad of an idea. While it does come across as very date-like due to the compliment, Jungkook seriously has to stop jumping to conclusions about this sort of thing. First of all, Namjoon has a boyfriend. Second of all, they are literally classmates, and the film festival is arguably class-related. Third of all, the likelihood of Namjoon even liking him that way is so slim considering fact number one (Namjoon has a boyfriend) that Jungkook shouldn’t even be worried about it in the first place.

im free! time and place?

It may be a horrible idea, but Jungkook still shows up at the festival that coming Saturday wearing his cleanest pair of jeans, which is concerning for a number of reasons that he won’t go into. Taehyung picked out his shirt for him, insisting that his regular white oversized tee was just “not going to cut it”, so he’s in a slightly smaller black long-sleeved top that Taehyung insists makes his biceps look really good. Jungkook really shouldn’t be trying to make his biceps look good for a friend (a friend with a BOYFRIEND!!!! Jungkook’s brain screams at him, ever the lover of unwanted reminders, but Jungkook chooses not to listen to his better judgement, as per usual) but he can’t help himself. So what if he puts a bit of extra effort into his appearance by styling his hair and picking out nice clothes and wearing his prettiest earrings? He’s just trying something new, is all. There’s nothing more to it than that.

Jungkook winces, standing alone at the ticket gate. Lying really isn’t his strong point, especially when it comes to lying to himself. He can see right through his own pathetic attempts to cover up the truth.

“Jungkookie! I’m so glad you could make it,” Namjoon calls out, noticing Jungkook straight away when he turns around the corner. Jungkook smiles shyly, nodding his head in acknowledgment, opening himself up to the hug Namjoon gives him when he gets close. If Jungkook holds onto the older boy a bit longer than might be socially acceptable, then that’s nobody else’s business but his own.

“Me too,” Jungkook agrees softly, the scent of Namjoon’s cologne clouding his senses, natural and musky and sweet. Trust Jimin and Namjoon to both have impeccable taste in cologne, the kind of smell that drives Jungkook crazy, like he’s about to start secreting pheromones at triple the speed from experiencing one whiff alone. He hopes it doesn’t show too obviously on his face, but Namjoon appears too busy grabbing flyers and checking out what movies are going to be playing today to pay Jungkook’s brief weak-at-the-knees moment any attention.

Jungkook honestly couldn’t care less what movies are going to be playing when his heart is pounding the way it is. He knows Namjoon is a taken man, but he can’t stop staring at him even when he knows it’s wrong. Namjoon and Jimin have been so kind to him, willingly allowing him into their lives without Jungkook even realising it was happening, weaving him into their day-to-day like he’s always been there, like he’s known them forever. They always greet him as if they’re more than familiar, like their friendship is more than a few weeks old, foundations built long ago as old work friends or schoolmates or children who once met at playgrounds before dark. They treat him like something moulded, someone important and solidified in crafted stone. Jungkook feels like he belongs with them, which is why he hates this so much. This, being Namjoon smiling at him in line for the theatre, eyes crinkled and warm, dimples deep and swallowing Jungkook whole. This, being the way Namjoon looks at him, the way Jungkook thinks he shouldn’t be looking at him, the way Jungkook thinks he might be reading too much into. Maybe it’s just Namjoon’s face. Maybe Namjoon looks at everyone like that. Jungkook probably isn’t special at all.

Jungkook refuses to acknowledge the way his heart sinks at the thought.

From the perspective of a student studying media and film, the movies are all very interesting and noteworthy, perhaps the kind of movies one would take down dot points on to write about later in an essay, or to keep tabs on one of the directors to catch them at the next indie film festival. As it stands, though, Jungkook is too busy freaking out staring at Namjoon’s open palm on the arm rest between them the entire time to even enjoy any of the movies. Namjoon, at least, appears positively enraptured by them all, jumping at the right moments and laughing at all the jokes. Jungkook, however, is always a split second behind, slightly out of tune, struggling to focus on the plot when Namjoon’s hand is right there waiting to be held.

Jungkook considers that Namjoon naturally sits like that when he goes to the theatre and it isn’t at all an invitation for Jungkook to link their hands together. The pose is so unnatural, though, because who even rests their hand on an arm rest with their palm facing upwards, anyway? Jungkook certainly doesn’t, and he’s never been to the movies with someone who does, so Namjoon is totally ready for Jungkook to hold his hand. Except then Jungkook thinks about how Namjoon has a boyfriend and how he shouldn’t be holding other boys’ hands in theatres and his entire brain implodes again. It’s cycling over and over, the initial excitement that Namjoon seems to be interested in him, then the reminder that he’s not allowed to be. The guilt follows after that, the consuming, all-encompassing guilt that makes Jungkook feel like he shouldn’t be here and neither should Namjoon. Namjoon should be at home with his boyfriend and Jungkook should be at home with his roommate who pities him (even though he never says it, Jungkook knows) crying into his bedsheets or something. God, that sounds depressing, Jungkook thinks, slouching further into his seat. Namjoon’s hand is still resting there between them, taunting Jungkook like some sort of forbidden fruit, and his own hand itches to link them together, but he doesn’t want to make a fool of himself yet again today. He’s been doing that far too much recently and quite frankly, it’s getting exhausting.

The movies pass by in a blur, but it’s a slow one at that, more like Jungkook is frozen underwater and can’t make out the details rather than the blinking rush of a blur that’s unrecallable, moments stretching down into seconds, hours into minutes. Time passes at an excruciating pace, and Jungkook is glad for it to be over, away from the dark of the theatre and Namjoon’s open, welcoming fingers. Stepping outside, Jungkook breathes in deep, hoping Namjoon doesn’t notice his relief. The air is fresh out here, sun bright and perfect even though it hurts his eyes. It feels like the first proper breath he’s taken in hours, finally above water, kicking frantically to the surface. The ocean is still rough, though, because now that there’s no movie to keep them occupied, Namjoon is looking at Jungkook again, and Jungkook’s heart still doesn’t know how to handle that. Any fresh air he’s managed to take in gets trapped in his lungs on the exhale, catching Namjoon’s eyes, reflecting golden in the evening sun, skin dark and honey-touched and beautiful, and Jungkook may as well be underwater again.

“So, what do you think?” Namjoon asks, interrupting Jungkook’s trail of thought. Jungkook blinks owlishly, dropping his arms from where he’d been stretching them out, twisting away the urge to grab Namjoon’s hand and hold it tightly to his chest like a vice, right against his heartbeat.

“About what?” Jungkook says rather dumbly, not realising his mistake until Namjoon laughs.

“About the movies. That we were just watching?” Jungkook hates that he doesn’t sound annoyed, only endeared. He should be annoyed with Jungkook. He should be frustrated that he invited Jungkook to this event he was clearly excited about, only to find out that Jungkook hadn’t been paying attention. His expression holds nothing but fondness, though, and Jungkook hates that he loves that, too.

“Oh,” he stutters, grasping at straws, struggling to remember anything about any of the films at all. “They were really good. Yeah. Very cinematic.” He nods decisively, giving Namjoon a look he hopes comes across as more intelligent than he feels.

Namjoon raises an eyebrow. He’s got that amused smirk on his face still, like Jungkook is particularly entertaining to look at, not in a bad way. Rather, it’s in a way that makes Jungkook’s skin feel hot, blushing at the attention. “Cinematic,” Namjoon repeats slowly, copying Jungkook’s nod. “A good descriptor.”

“Right?” Jungkook squeaks. “I learnt it in class.”

Sometimes Jungkook wishes he never left the womb.

Namjoon laughs at that, a full-bodied laugh, head thrown back and whole body shaking. Jungkook stares at him in something like awe, struck by the crinkles in the corners of his eyes, how his mouth turns up and opens wide in delight, happy and unapologetic and sweet. The sound, too, of Namjoon letting himself go, chuckling loudly and purely, makes Jungkook want to follow him wherever he goes, just so that he can hear it again. He’s frozen listening to it, his own lips turning up into a smile, until Namjoon’s laughter finally dies down some and he’s throwing an arm over Jungkook’s shoulders to walk them back to a bus stop.

“Where did you come from, Kook-ah?” Namjoon asks, pointing at the timetable. It turns out they’re catching different buses, but Namjoon lets his own bus go past in order to wait with Jungkook for his to come. Jungkook insists he doesn’t have to, but Namjoon is determined. “It gives me an excuse to spend more time with you, anyway,” he admits with a shrug, which Jungkook chooses not to think about.

They don’t talk much, but Namjoon seems perfectly happy with that. He slides closer to Jungkook on the bench and nudges a shoulder against him, catching his eye, sharing a look with him that Jungkook can’t figure out the meaning of. It’s all very overwhelming, nearly suffocating, to be the centre of Namjoon’s attention like this. Jungkook’s almost thankful by the time his bus arrives, yet still finds himself missing the weight of Namjoon next to him, alone at the back of the bus and leaning against the window. It gives him time to process the entire day, though, even though he honestly has no idea where to begin.

It felt like a date. The way Namjoon had looked at him, stood closely to him, even flirted with him, had made the whole event feel very much like it was supposed to be a date. Except Jungkook feels sick, because if it’s a date that means Namjoon is cheating on his boyfriend, and Jungkook likes Jimin, too. He thinks about saying something to him, but then he realises he doesn’t want to be presumptuous and assume this was a date when they hadn’t even held hands, and Jungkook thinks he might be going crazy. Namjoon’s too nice to cheat on his boyfriend. Theoretically, Jungkook knows that nice people can still cheat on their partners, but Jungkook can’t imagine Namjoon ever doing something like that to Jimin. It simply isn’t plausible to him. This leaves Jungkook with the understanding that today really had just been two friends hanging out to expand their knowledge of film for their shared media class, which actually really sucks, because—

Jungkook wants it to be a date. Jungkook wants to hold Namjoon’s hand. Jungkook wishes they kissed before Jungkook shyly hopped onto the bus and headed home.

Groaning out loud, Jungkook bangs his head against the bus window and tries not to cry. This isn’t fair. Of course, he would be cursed with the fate of forming a crush on two people, who are dating one another, no less. He hasn’t spent as much time with Jimin thus far, but he knows how he feels when Jimin smiles at him, is aware of the sensation in his stomach when it flips. He can’t imagine being with Namjoon with Jimin in the picture, too.

Except even if Namjoon does like him that way, even if Namjoon had intended for their time together today to be considered a date, Jungkook still doesn’t know where Jimin sits on that. Hell, he doesn’t even know where Namjoon sits on that. The only thing he can do about it is ask them, which is terrifying, so instead he goes home and collapses into bed and texts his friends about things that aren’t related to Jimin or Namjoon. Taehyung pokes his head in at some point to ask how it went, to which Jungkook replies with a very generic answer that Taehyung isn’t satisfied with, but he doesn’t push it. Even though Jungkook hasn’t known Taehyung for long, they’ve become quite close over the course of this whole ordeal, and it’s safe to say out of everyone in Jungkook’s life, Taehyung knows the most about it. It’s a bit sad to admit, but after high school, he drifted from quite a few of his friends, even the ones he was closest to. It’s hard to catch up in person when all your friends are attending different colleges across the country. While they still text often, Taehyung is the person Jungkook turns to these days, and Taehyung knows Jungkook now better than arguably half his friends back home.

Which is why when Jungkook blows Taehyung off, he knows not to push it. He nods his head and takes his word for it, knowing by now that when Jungkook is ready, he’ll come to Taehyung. As much as he’s a sucker for gossip, he understands people’s limits. Jungkook needs time sometimes to process things himself before he gets anybody else involved.

Jungkook is still processing three days later when Jimin skips up to him between classes, throwing himself onto Jungkook’s back without warning. They started crossing paths here every week on the way to their next class, syncing up their schedules naturally enough that they’ve never mentioned it. Jungkook used to use this one particular bathroom outside a building further back, but in order to meet Jimin on time he uses the one in his building further up, long after Jimin is well behind him. He knows that Jimin is coming, so he catches the smaller boy with ease, swinging him around once before settling him back down again.

“One day I’m gonna be carrying more stuff in my backpack than normal and I won’t be able to catch you,” Jungkook warns, breaking into a smile. Despite the constant internal crisis he’s been going through recently, Jimin’s presence before him never fails to make his day brighter. It’s probably a side effect of the big fat crush he has on the older boy.

Jungkook tries not to wince at the reminder.

“Ah, Jungkookie, you wouldn’t dare,” Jimin teases, keeping an arm thrown around him even though he’s shorter. Jimin’s entire demeanour makes one easily forget what he lacks in height, his larger-than-life persona making up the difference. Jungkook often forgets he’s several inches taller, because sometimes when Jimin smirks at him he feels like cowering under his gaze. Or maybe he just wants to drop to his knees. His thoughts get a little muddled up over the details.

“It wouldn’t be on purpose,” Jungkook mumbles shyly, cheeks hot due to their continued proximity, and Jimin coos at him, pinching one of his cheeks. Jungkook slaps his hand away in faux annoyance, which only makes Jimin giggle, reaching out to pinch him again. This definitely isn’t good for Jungkook’s poor, weak heart.

Jimin seems to have a reason for stopping Jungkook this time, though, finally backing off of him to put a respectable speaking distance between them. “I actually wanted to ask you,” he begins, and Jungkook feels his heart begin to race. “Would you wanna come to the carnival with me this weekend? There’s one set up about a twenty-minute drive from here, I think it looks super fun!”

“What—what about Namjoon?” Jungkook stutters, faint at the prospect of more alone time with another half of a couple he feels like he’s intruding on. Does it make him a bad person to go out with one boyfriend one weekend, and the other the next? Should he wait a few weeks? Should he be going on these outings at all? Don’t get him wrong, the idea of spending more time with Jimin outside of university is positively thrilling, but the heavy pull of the guilt in his chest outweighs most else. It makes it difficult for him to find joy in this innocent thing. How can he, when he doesn’t know where they stand, and he’s too afraid to ask?

Jimin pouts cutely, reaching out to grip one of Jungkook’s hands in both his own, almost like he’s pleading, as if he’d ever need to beg for Jungkook. Jungkook would give him anything, begging or otherwise. “He has a paper due Sunday night and I know if he comes he’ll just be stressing about it the whole time and won’t have any fun. That doesn’t mean we should miss out, though! Do you like carnivals?”

“I love them,” Jungkook whispers, wishing this was easier.

Jimin’s face brightens so much Jungkook almost forgets why he’s feeling bad about this. “Perfect! I wanna get there before too many crowds, so is it alright if I pick you up Saturday around, let’s say, 9:30am?”

That’s how Jungkook finds himself waking up at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning, exactly one week after his not-date with Namjoon. He puts too much effort into his outfit and his hair and is just glad Taehyung isn’t awake to tease him about it. He’s nervous, understandably. The thing is, Jimin is so, well, Jimin. He’s gorgeous and flirty and gives Jungkook butterflies. Not only that, but he’s kind and considerate, and actually cares when he asks Jungkook about his day. Seeing him like this feels intimate and Jungkook isn’t sure if he’s capable of handling his sweet compliments and carefree giggles for the next several hours, especially when Jimin is as touchy and affectionate as he is. When he laughs, his whole body rocks into Jungkook’s side, and he loves holding hands just to drag Jungkook around or point something out to him, even if he does let him go seconds later. It’s too much. Everything about Jimin is too much and Jungkook is so nervous he thinks he might explode.

Right as Jimin rings the doorbell at around 9:35, Jungkook is hit with the realisation that he again doesn’t know if this is meant to be a date or not. He can’t tell from the invitation whether or not he’s a stand-in for Namjoon, or if Namjoon was supposed to come with them had his paper not been due.

God. Jungkook has to stop this before it gets out of hand (as if it hasn’t gotten out of hand already). As he walks towards his front door, he intends to ask Jimin straight up about what this all means, but then he sees Jimin standing in front of him and he’s at a loss for words.

“Good morning, Jungkookie~” Jimin chimes sweetly, as if he isn’t wearing skin-tight denim jeans and a white button-up shirt that’s far too open at the collar. The shirt is just see-through enough that Jungkook can make out a tattoo across his ribcage and that’s enough to send him spiralling, let alone with the addition of the collarbones and the shape of his thighs stretching the denim up to his ass. Jungkook can’t see his ass, but he can already imagine how exquisite it must look beneath the thin fabric, and he kind of wants to die.

“Um,” Jungkook chokes, struggling not to stare directly at Jimin’s crotch. “Yes.”

Jimin tilts his head in supposed confusion, but Jungkook sees in his eyes that he knows exactly what he’s doing and why Jungkook is unable to experience a single intelligent thought. “Yes?” he questions, nearly smirking.

“Mhmm,” Jungkook affirms, pursing his lips. He’s worried that if he tries to speak again, he’s going to blurt something ridiculous, such as I think you might be an angel or I need you to take me against my front door, like, twenty seconds ago.

Jimin pouts, which he seriously has to stop doing lest Jungkook’s heart stops beating. Jungkook is beginning to notice that it’s a regular move of his to get what he wants, but he can’t find it in him to be salty about it when Jimin looks so cute. “I spent this long getting ready this morning and you’re not even gonna properly tell me how pretty I look?” he asks, pretending to be put out, but Jungkook scrambles to correct himself anyway, utterly wrapped around his finger. Is he like this with Namjoon?

Shit. Namjoon. Jungkook shouldn’t, because of Namjoon, but—“Oh my god, um, yes, I mean yes you look really pretty, like the prettiest, you’re like so great, um, ten out of ten, good.” Jungkook gives him a thumbs up and wants to cry. Jimin looks endeared, which is lovely, but Jungkook feels that guilt eating away at his insides, hungry and ravenous and eager to humiliate Jungkook even further. Sweet, Jimin wants Jungkook to compliment him. That’s such a date-like thing to do. Everything about this screams “This is our first date!” just like it did last week with Namjoon and it shouldn’t, Jungkook doesn’t get it, Jungkook wants to ask, wants to know—

He doesn’t ask. He lets Jimin link their arms together and skip down to his waiting car, because he’s a coward. Jungkook is a coward and all of this feels so good despite how wrong and he doesn’t want to ruin it, doesn’t want to burst this pretty little bubble he’s floating in, because even though he feels like shit every time Jimin or Namjoon leaves his side, the moments he’s together with them make him the happiest he’s been in years. It’s always separate—just Jimin, or just Namjoon, but Jungkook thinks that all three of them together would make him the happiest of all.

Best of both worlds, right? Bitterly, Jungkook thinks himself greedy. How terrible it is for him to feel anything at all. What rotten luck.

“You can take the AUX cord if you’d like,” Jimin offers as he starts the car, but Jungkook isn’t sure if playing k-drama OSTs the whole way there will make a good impression, so he settles for the perfect mix of idol groups and western hits in his queue and hopes Jimin doesn’t judge him too harshly for any of the tracks. It takes Jungkook a full five minutes in silence out of the entire trip just to pick songs for the remaining fifteen minutes, but he’s too engrossed in his task to notice the passage of time, nor does he catch the way Jimin’s eyes flicker towards him on long stretches of empty road and stoplights, entirely enamoured and fond.

Conversation flows easily once Jungkook is done, because even though Jungkook is anxious and shy Jimin is a force to be reckoned with, squeezing speech out of him so easily Jungkook thinks it has to be some kind of superpower. They actually end up talking about a k-drama they both love, so Jungkook changes his beautifully curated playlist into the OST of the show for the last few minutes of the trip after all, against his earlier doubts.

Despite the precautions Jimin took, the carnival is relatively busy when they finally arrive, filled with children and teenagers and elderly couples alike. Jimin positively glows as he hops out of the car, excitedly running around to Jungkook’s side to grab his hand in order to drag them quickly towards the entrance. Everything is bright and lit up even though it’s only ten in the morning, and the onslaught of sensation is almost overwhelming to Jungkook as he silently allows himself to be tugged, taking it all in. There’s screaming in the distance, as well as small food and balloon carts to dodge on their way to the ticket booth, haggling them to waste their spare change. The pinging of attractions is loud, bells ringing from every odd direction, different songs spilling from the speakers of different rides, and the whole thing is one huge sensory overload but the firm grip of Jimin’s hand in his keeps him grounded. He’s comforted by the knowledge that no matter where they go, Jimin will be right by his side, holding him tight, preventing him from losing himself or floating away.

Jimin pays for their tickets, much to Jungkook’s dismay, and drags him to the first ride. In all honesty, Jungkook adores rides and rollercoasters and carnivals, but being with Jimin is so nerve-wracking and consuming he forgets how excited he usually is about this sort of thing in favour of trying to stop his palms from getting all clammy with sweat. It doesn’t help that Jimin keeps insisting on touching him in any way that he can, be it to encourage him forward in the line or fix a hair that’s out of place on his head. Jungkook feels suffocated in the best way.

The first ride is fun, a whirlwind of colour and sound that leaves Jungkook breathless. He welcomes the adrenaline-fueled distraction, because the second they get off the ride he’s forced to face Jimin’s windswept hair and flushed cheeks, laughing so adorably Jungkook wants to melt. They go on a couple more rides until Jimin catches Jungkook eyeing a fairy floss stand, to which he again pays for so they can share candied sugar on a bench by the Ferris wheel. The way Jimin licks his fingers should be illegal. Jungkook tries not to stare at his thumb entering his mouth, Jimin’s full lips sucking around it, hollowing his cheeks and moaning obscenely. Is eating with Jimin always this pornographic? The thumb comes out of his mouth with a pop, spit soaked and shiny, but he doesn’t stop there. He moves on to the next finger. Jungkook thinks his own lips might be parted, saliva pooling in his mouth, close to drooling. He’s foregone eating the fairy floss entirely, too focused on Jimin’s devilish lips, so enraptured he doesn’t even realise how long he’s been still. Jimin notices, though, licking a fourth finger that isn’t even sticky. The attention makes Jimin’s heart flutter, and Jungkook’s hungry eyes fuel him on, encouraging him to scoot closer to Jungkook on the bench and tilt his head.

“Here, you have…” he trails off, eyes on Jungkook’s lips, and for a second, Jungkook thinks Jimin is about to kiss him. The way he leans in suggests as such, and holy fuck, Jungkook didn’t think this would be happening so soon, he should be pulling away, putting distance between them, because there’s a reason he shouldn’t be together with Jimin like this but quite frankly at the moment he can’t remember it. Instead his eyes are drooping, hypnotised by Jimin’s display, but at the last second Jimin brings his wet thumb up to Jungkook’s mouth and wipes his bottom lip, leaving him barely-touched. “Fairy floss on your face. You should clean up after yourself better, Jungookie,” he scolds, putting distance between them again, sucking the sugar from Jungkook’s mouth off his thumb and pretending none of that just happened.

Jungkook blinks, woozy and disoriented. “Wha…?” he mumbles dazedly, opening his mouth on instinct as Jimin brings more fairy floss to his tongue. They hadn’t been feeding one another before, but Jungkook is so lost in his own head he doesn’t see anything odd about it, accepting each bite Jimin offers him with a pleased hum. He secretly loves being pampered and taken care of. It makes him feel all soft inside, like a toasted marshmallow, dripping and warm. Every time Jimin feeds him, his insides turn to warm toffee, honey down his oesophagus, molasses in his gut. Something about this moment feels ethereal. If Jungkook closes his eyes, he can almost convince himself it’ll last forever.

“Kookie, c’mon, hurry up,” Jimin whines, snapping Jungkook out of it. “I wanna go on the bumper cars.”

Even though Jungkook does finish the fairy floss, he doesn’t quite feel like himself again until after the ride, the embarrassment of the moment finally setting in as he realises he was literally hand fed like a baby. It’s too late to even explain himself, but clearly Jimin doesn’t have an issue with it, dragging Jungkook along in every odd direction as though they do this all the time. It doesn’t take away the embarrassment, though, no matter how much Jungkook tries to forget it ever happened. He knows objectively there’s nothing wrong with Jimin fussing over him, but he doesn’t want Jimin to think he’s incapable, or something. Which, come to think of it, Jimin would never think that, so why is Jungkook so worked up over it in the first place? Societal expectations? The need to prove himself? Prove what? Maybe he’s just anxious about making a good impression again, even though Jimin has known him for weeks now and has clearly decided he likes him just the way he is. Jungkook is far too used to second guessing himself.

He manages to shake himself out of his increasingly self-deprecating thoughts in time to hear Jimin saying, “Oh my god, I’ve never actually played one of these games before.” They’ve stumbled into the area of the carnival where you pay with tickets to win prizes by slamming a hammer against a machine or popping a balloon with a weighted dart designed to make you miss.

Even though Jungkook knows they both are aware of these things, he wants to make Jimin happy. “Do you want to?” he asks, nodding towards the ticket stand. Jimin’s answering smile makes it totally worth the money he’s about to drop on games he hasn’t played since he was a kid. He buys Jimin’s tickets and follows him around the area, cheering him on even as he loses again and again. Jungkook doesn’t play himself, opting to give Jimin all of his own tickets, because watching him enjoy himself is worth more than any prize. Jimin insists on Jungkook having a go, but Jungkook continues to refuse, wanting to witness as much joy on Jimin’s face as he possibly can.

After a while, though, Jungkook can tell Jimin is starting to get frustrated. His lips form into a permanent pout, whining louder after each loss, turning to Jungkook with crossed arms and a bratty expression. Jungkook pouts back and draws him into a hug because it feels like the right thing to do. “You know these games are fluke wins, right?” he murmurs into Jimin’s hair, rocking them from side to side. “I know it’s disappointing to lose, but hardly anyone ever wins.”

“I just really want one of the plushies,” Jimin whines, pulling back. There’s a look in his eyes that Jungkook can’t quite figure out.

“You still have one more ticket left, is there another game you want to try?” he suggests, pointing to the balloon darts, one of the attractions they haven’t gotten to yet.

Jimin huffs adorably. “Not really. I’m kind of discouraged. Have you ever played these games before?” he asks, something hopeful and sweet in his expression that Jungkook wants to treasure.

He frowns, though, shaking his head. “I haven’t played any since I was a kid. My dad would always end up winning something for me.” Jimin raises his eyebrow suggestively, but Jungkook still doesn’t catch on, gaze perusing the carnival as he bites his lip and settles on the basketball hoops. “I did play a bit of basketball in high school, though. It’s super easy to pick up. C’mon, you have one ticket more, why not try the hoops?”

Jimin sighs in exasperation. “God, Namjoon said you were oblivious, but I can’t believe…” he trails off, shaking his head fondly. Jungkook doesn’t know what he means by that, staring at him in confusion, eyes wide and misunderstanding. “Jungkook, it would be really cool if you had a go at one of these games. I will buy you more tickets. I also think the Kirby plushies are super cute.”

It takes Jungkook about half a second to process the suggestive tone, brain working on overdrive to go through the last few minutes of conversation on repeat and finally pick up on all the context clues. “O-Oh,” he manages eventually, flushing red. “No, you don’t need to buy any more tickets, Jimin, really.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows again. “So you think you can win with only one?”

Competitiveness swirls in Jungkook’s gut, face hardening as he puffs out his chest and stands a little taller. “Of course I can. How dare you doubt me.”

Okay, yeah, maybe Jungkook does have an issue with this whole proving-himself thing.

“Sure thing, tough guy,” Jimin says disbelievingly, rolling his eyes and holding out the ticket. “Show me the best you’ve got.”

Jungkook narrows his eyes, before setting off for the basketball hoops, tugging Jimin in tow. He doesn’t realise that he’s the one initiating the hand holding this time, too focused on his goal of proving Jimin wrong. He thrusts the ticket out to the woman at the stand, already planning his approach to the hoops, calculating trajectories and angles to hit his shots. Right now, Jungkook has a one-track mind, and that’s winning.

Jungkook barely feels Jimin watching him as he lines up his first shot, sinking it in with ease. Nothing else matters but the basketballs, the hoops, and the giant Kirby plushie hanging above Jungkook’s head, taunting him from afar. He lines up shot after shot, scoring over and over again as though on autopilot, taken over by the spirit of some professional player, right up through his toes to his fingertips. A small crowd forms to watch, fascinated by Jungkook’s ability. Even when the hoop starts moving up and down, Jungkook pays it no mind, continuing to increase his score up into the hundreds. His senses are solely focused to eyes and touch. There is no hearing, only feeling. No sound, only sight. Jungkook barely notices the bell going off, signalling that he’s won. People are cheering, but he doesn’t even care.

“Would you look at that, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!” the woman calls, clapping wildly, slowly pulling Jungkook back to the present. He snaps his eyes up to her, registering the applause faintly in the back of his skull. “Congratulations, young man. Very impressive. For your prize, you can choose—”

“The Kirby,” Jungkook blurts, pointing above his head. It’s one of the largest toys at the stand, but Jungkook figures he can pick any of them with a score like that. “I want this one.”

The woman smiles. “The Kirby it is.”

It’s not until the giant Kirby is in Jungkook’s arms that he finally turns to Jimin, nearly forgetting his presence due to the intensity of the competition. “You said you liked the Kirby, right?” he asks belatedly, suddenly worrying he chose the wrong plushie, gazing back up at all the options and wondering if he can switch. “I can ask for a different one, if you don’t like it—”

Jungkook is cut off by Jimin throwing his arms around him, Kirby and all. His tiny body barely manages it, but he’s apparently quite determined, gripping tightly to the back of Jungkook’s neck and squeezing him close. “Jungkook, he’s perfect, oh my god. You’re amazing. I can’t believe you just did that, what the fuck.” Jungkook is at a loss for words, standing comically still while Jimin holds him, noticing the crowd dissipating around them, vaguely embarrassed they even had an audience to begin with. It takes a few moments for Jimin to pull away, but when he does, he frowns and slaps Jungkook harshly on the arm.

“OW! What?” he squeals, flinching hard. “What was that for?”

“‘I played a bit of basketball in high school’ my ass. What the fuck was that?” Jimin demands, pulling the Kirby out of Jungkook’s arms and hugging it tightly to his own chest. “You looked like you weren’t even trying! This is so unfair.”

“I may have played competitively for like, six years,” Jungkook admits sheepishly, tugging at the end of one of his sleeves. “I was offered a scholarship for it but I got one for my filmmaking instead because I was more interested in that.”

“And he was offered not one, but two scholarships. Humble brag?”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook deflates, staring down at his shoes. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to put you down, sorry.” He suddenly feels a bit sick. Trust him to go and ruin and perfectly good day by showing off like a loser. What an idiot.

“Oh, Jungkook, baby, no,” Jimin gushes, rushing forward to pull Jungkook into another hug. It’s again awkward with the Kirby between them, but Jungkook is too busy playing the word baby over and over again in Jimin’s voice in his head for him to notice much. “No, I’m sorry, don’t apologise, I shouldn’t have said that. I was just joking. You’re amazing, sweetheart, thank you so much for this, I love Kirby very much and I’m very grateful.”

Jungkook sniffles, suddenly realising he’d been on the verge of tears. He rushes to suck them back in, silently begging Jimin not to notice, because he doesn’t want him to find out so soon that he’s this sensitive. Especially not on the first date. “You’re welcome,” he mumbles, pulling away from the hug and smiling cutely in a way that tugs at Jimin’s heartstrings.

“How about we call it a day, huh?” Jimin suggests, reaching forward with a free hand to tuck some hair behind Jungkook’s ear. “It’s getting dark and it’s not like I can do much now that I’m hauling this giant Kirby around. I’ll drop you off, yeah?”

Jungkook nods in agreement, following diligently after Jimin through the crowd, and it’s not until they’re back in the car and Kirby is strapped into the backseat that Jungkook realises he referred to today as a first date in his head and didn’t even question it.

This is really, really getting out of hand, after all, Jungkook thinks, biting his lip as he presses play on Jimin’s phone and his choice of music floods the small car all over again. He makes eye contact with Jimin across the gear shift, both of the breaking into a tiny, private smile, and Jungkook is already far too late. He’s in this crush for the long haul and there’s no longer anything he can do to stop it.

 

 

Of course, Jungkook mopes. Taehyung tells him he can visualise a storm cloud hanging above his head, perpetually pouring with rain, thundering down his spine. Jungkook thinks that at least then, he’d have a better excuse for why he’s feeling this way. He still goes to university, but he’s no longer scouting for Jimin or Namjoon in the halls, taking longer routes to his classes and avoiding the cafeteria. The only class he misses is media, knowing that the second he locks gazes with Namjoon’s warms eyes he’ll melt all over again and be unable to leave his side. He knows his crush won’t go away for some time, but he figures the longer he avoids the both of them, the easier it will be. It’s not fair for him to be pining after two taken men, let alone men that are dating one another. They’d given Jungkook their friendship and support and Jungkook had gone and ruined it.

Sure, their interactions have always felt like flirting, and their time together has always felt like a date. Jungkook doesn’t like how unsure this all is, how little he understands about what Jimin and Namjoon want from him. He knows the best possible way is to ask, but asking is hard and avoidance is easy. Besides, Jungkook remembers how this all started, with him finding Jimin’s address and never telling him how he did it, and this whole relationship they’ve formed feels like it’s founded on a lie. Jungkook still hasn’t come clean, but he’s in this far too deep to admit anything now. He should have said it at the start, but as the weeks passed Jungkook has dug himself further and further down into this hole and now he wants to bury himself alive. That, he thinks, is a far better fate than seeing the disgust in both Jimin and Namjoon’s eyes when they find out the efforts to which Jungkook went just to stalk them down.

Taehyung suggests he find a hook up or meet up with some of his friends to take his mind off it and maybe even find a new crush in the process, but even now, Jungkook doesn’t want to let go. At night, he rolls over in his bed and imagines Jimin and Namjoon lying on either side of him, pulling him in close and lulling him to sleep. Jungkook doesn’t want anyone else. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Forever is a lot for an eighteen-year-old freshman in college to commit to, but Jungkook is young and the future stretches as far as the end of the year and then some. Forever could mean six days or six years or six decades.

It’s all the same. Jungkook is tired and misses the two boys he likes more than anything. That’s forever enough.

There’s a million missed and unread texts from the pair of them on Jungkook’s phone, but he continues to ignore them, hoping that eventually they’ll give up and Jungkook can move on. Not that moving on is much of an option for him at this stage, but he figures that if they move on from him, he’ll be more able to move on from them. It’ll hurt, but Jungkook hurts already. What’s a little more pain if it benefits him in the long run?

It turns out Jungkook can’t avoid them both forever, though. It takes two weeks of sneaking around campus and leaving class early to get home before anyone can find him for Jungkook to finally be caught at a coffee shop he’s never been to before. He figured he’d be safe in the engineering building—clearly, he was wrong, because just as he’s sitting down to enjoy his coffee between classes, Jimin walks through the door and shatters any progress he might’ve made over the last few weeks on his own.

Jimin is beautiful, but there are bags under his eyes that Jungkook can’t help but notice. He’s dressed down, in sweatpants and a hoodie that’s far too large, covering his hands and emphasising how small he is. While Jungkook knows Jimin’s probably been worrying about him, the reality of it hits hard, different than imagination. He feels immensely guilty for disappearing out of both Jimin and Namjoon’s life like that on such immediate notice, especially after such a perfect day. Jimin’s on the phone and Jungkook slouches in his seat, hoping that by some miracle Jimin doesn’t notice him, but it’s a lost cause. Jimin’s eyes flick around the room, almost like an instinct, and the second he spots Jungkook his jaw falls slack, his gasp audible across the café. In seconds, he’s muttering something to the person on the phone, hanging up and racing to Jungkook’s table, his entire body sagging with relief.

“Jungkook, oh my god,” he gushes, throwing his arms around him. Jungkook makes an “oof” sound in surprise, not expecting it, voice muffled by Jimin’s body squeezing him tight from all directions. Jimin is leaning down at an awkward angle but he doesn’t seem to care, too busy breathing in the scent of Jungkook’s hair like he needs it to survive. “I thought you died or something, fuck.”

“I—I, no, I didn’t, I—” Jungkook stutters, at a loss for words. He’s so happy Jimin is here he feels like he’s about to cry. The weight of missing Jimin hits him all at once, heavy and thick on his chest, so much so he nearly forgets how to breathe. Luckily, Jimin is right here, holding him closely enough that the weight distributes, somewhat. Like Jungkook is capable of inhaling only if Jimin doesn’t let go.

“Are you sick?” Jimin pulls back to fuss over him, pressing a hand against his forehead, checking the whites of his eyes. “Have you been sleeping at all? You haven’t replied to any of our texts! Oh my god, Namjoon and I have been worried sick, you haven’t even been coming to uni—”

“No, no, I’m fine,” Jungkook insists, flushing with guilt. Jimin shouldn’t be wasting his energy on him like this. Jungkook’s been ghosting him for weeks, yet Jimin doesn’t even seem to consider that an option for what’s happened here, engrossed in making sure Jungkook is okay, genuinely happy just to see him alive. He’s too good. A person like Jimin is far too good for someone like Jungkook. “I have been coming to uni.”

Jimin frowns. “Namjoon hasn’t seen you in class. You haven’t been anywhere we usually see you.”

“I know.” Jungkook looks up at Jimin, watery eyed. “I’m sorry. I know.”

Shame sits heavy in his gut as he watches the realisation take over Jimin’s features, worry turning into despair, fear into hurt. “You’ve been avoiding us,” Jimin says simply, sitting down heavily across from Jungkook at the table. Looking at Jimin is far too painful, so Jungkook stares at the salt and pepper shakers between them instead.

“Sorry,” Jungkook mumbles. “I promise it’s nothing to do with you.”

Jungkook can imagine Jimin’s pained smile. “Namjoon’s on his way, just so you know.” Jungkook’s head jerks up with fear. God, now he’s going to have to face disappointment from both his crushes at once. It’s what he deserves, honestly. “I was on the phone to him. We’ve been searching everywhere for you. I’m sorry that’s not what you wanted. I can text him now and ask him not to come, if you’d like.”

His voice is so emotionless and empty that Jungkook feels his heart break. “No, no, it’s not like that, I swear, I just didn’t know what to do, I haven’t been completely honest with you—”

“Jungkook!” Namjoon blurts from the front of the café, turning far too many heads. He’s breathless, but he doesn’t stop moving until Jungkook is in his arms, holding him close just like Jimin did. “Fuck, I was so scared, I’m so glad you’re safe, I was seriously considering putting out a missing person’s report.”

“Don’t,” Jungkook chokes, the tears nearly spilling over. “I don’t deserve this, don’t.”

This catches Namjoon’s attention, pulling away from the hug, the mood of the table finally hitting him as he winds down from his desperation. “What’s going on?”

“It’s neither of your fault,” Jungkook promises, wanting them to understand that most of all. Namjoon carefully sits down next to Jimin across the table, eyebrows furrowing in concern as he takes in his boyfriend’s tense shoulders and visible apprehension. “You guys are great, it’s just me. I have some stuff I’m trying to work through and I haven’t been honest with you both.”

“I—I know we both didn’t always have time for you, but our schedules were so busy…Namjoonie and I, we were organising a time for all three of us to do something together, I promise, but you just disappeared. When everything was going so well,” Jimin says, nearly a whisper, the ache clear in his tone.

“I don’t understand,” Jungkook says honestly. “I haven’t understood for weeks, but there’s also something I need to tell you—”

“We can leave you alone now, we promise, but please, just tell us why—”

“I asked a hacker to find your address illegally online!” Jungkook blurts, unable to hold it inside any longer, throat closing up so much it hurts to swallow. “Then you were both so nice to me but I held this gross, terrible secret, that I literally stalked you just to get that stupid textbook back! And it just got worse, and worse, and you were both nicer and nicer and like, flirting with me? But you guys are dating, which confuses me, and I still had this secret, and I couldn’t find a way to say it, but then it was too late. I’d come too far, fell too deep. I didn’t know how to bring it up anymore, and I was scared, so I ran away, and I needed to get over how I feel about you guys, because I feel like a fucking homewrecker, and I don’t—I don’t—” Jungkook sniffles, unable to finish, choking on his own tongue. If he says anymore he’s surely going to cry, but at least he’s finally said it. They finally know.

The silence stretches for more seconds than Jungkook feels comfortable, so he risks it and looks up at the pair of them, terrified of their reaction. What he finds, though, is not what he expected to find at all.

Clearly the initial shock of the confession has worn off, but instead of appearing angry, both Jimin and Namjoon look somewhat…fond? But that doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t add up. They should be horrified. Why aren’t they horrified?

“Oh, Jungkook,” Jimin sighs, honey-tongued and relieved. “Baby, it’s okay. We knew. We know.”

Jungkook blanks. “What?”

Namjoon takes his turn to speak, reaching out to hold Jungkook’s hand over the table. Jimin joins him, which makes Jungkook feel warm all over in a way he can’t describe. “Yoongi is in my music production class.” He waits for a reaction from Jungkook but it doesn’t come. He’s far too stunned to reply. Taking this as a good sign, Namjoon ploughs on. “Yeah, Yoongi is studying IT, and he could theoretically do what you asked for him, but he actually only agreed just because he was going to give you a bit of a lecture on the dangers of invading people’s privacy. Don’t worry, your friend Taehyung didn’t know that,” he adds as an afterthought, smiling warmly. “He genuinely asked Yoongi to help you—your little partner in crime, I’d say.

Anyway, he knew that because you’re Tae’s friend, you genuinely didn’t have any ill intentions, so when he saw that the book was the exact one I mentioned Jimin had lost, he sent me a message about it. I gave him the okay to send you on your way to our place. We thought we’d mess with you a bit, I guess.” Namjoon shrugs. “In hindsight, it was pretty immature of us, but we didn’t quite yet know how sweet you’d be.”

“What?” Jungkook blurts again, as though he’s a broken record unable to repeat any other sound.

“Namjoon and I have been in an open relationship for a while,” Jimin admits, and oh. Some of the puzzle pieces begin to click into place. Jimin and Namjoon share a look, reminiscing on some memory that Jungkook isn’t a part of. “But it wasn’t making us happy. We love being together, don’t get me wrong, but it always felt like something was missing. We thought maybe including other relationships in our lives would help, but it didn’t.”

“Then there was you,” Namjoon finishes, like that explains everything. “You, standing there at our front door, snow in your hair, and we both knew. You were beautiful. Are, beautiful.”

“I don’t get it,” Jungkook says, even though he kind of does. He’s beginning to, but he needs them to say it outright because otherwise he’ll convince himself this is all one big hoax to wind him up and Taehyung’s gonna jump out from behind the coffee counter and scream “Surprise!” like one of Jungkook’s sleep paralysis demons.

“I think this has all been one big misunderstanding,” Jimin says. “We went about it the wrong way. I guess Namjoon and I thought you’d pick up on it, but now that I think about it, I can see how confusing this would be for you. We thought we’d just kind of hint at it and flirt because you’re so cute when you’re flustered but that wasn’t fair.”

“I thought you guys were cheating on one another or something,” Jungkook admits, deciding maybe it’s best for him to say all the embarrassing things at once just to get them out of the way. “I didn’t understand why you were both flirting with me but I was only ever with one of you at once, I just assumed…”

We shouldn’t have assumed that you would know about or understand polyamorous relationships without us explicitly stating that’s what we want,” Namjoon corrects, shaking his head. “We got too into it. Everything was going so well, so we forgot about all the details.”

“Polyamorous?” Jungkook questions, word foreign on his tongue. “I thought that was when some dude has a lot of wives.”

Jimin giggles loudly, and Jungkook is so hypnotised by finally hearing him laugh again he doesn’t even care that he’s the one being laughed at. “Oh no, Jungkook. That’s polygamy, baby. A polyamorous relationship is when three or more people all date one another. It’s not just one person dating two people separately, but all three of us dating together.”

“All three of us?” Jungkook repeats, catching onto the pronoun change. Sure, his perception has been somewhat lacking recently, but he thinks he’s beginning to get the idea.

The couple across from him beam widely in response. “If that’s something you want, then yes,” Jimin says, appearing excited by the mere prospect of it. “We want to date you, Jungkook-ah.”

“Jimin was actually meant to come with us to the movies,” Namjoon admits, scratching the back of his neck. “And I would have come to the carnival with you guys had my paper not been due. They were supposed to be three-way dates, but we could never get our schedules to match up. I can see now why that must have totally confused you.”

“So you were trying to hold my hand!” Jungkook blurts, pointing an accusing finger. Namjoon laughs. “And you! With the fairy floss!” He turns to Jimin, who’s laughing just as freely. “Oh my god, I felt so guilty. I wanted to kiss you both so badly. I was going through a fucking crisis! I thought there was something wrong with me!”

“There’s nothing wrong with you, baby,” Jimin promises, settling down. “And please, feel free to kiss us both as much as you want. I thoroughly encourage you to do so.”

“I’m gonna take you up on that,” Jungkook grumbles, pouting and reaching for his coffee. The put-out act doesn’t last very long, though, because he can’t help but smile while the couple is looking at him like that—the same way they look at each other.

With this comes the sudden realisation that they’re not a couple anymore. Jungkook is a part of them, too, and this is the start of something good.

 

 

 

“Namjoon, please, can I have your answers, I don’t get it,” Jungkook whines, no more than a week later, hanging off his arm and reaching for his paper.

“You told me you’d done this already!” Namjoon disputes, laughing far too loudly for a classroom situation. They’re back in media, and Jungkook hasn’t done the pre-class work, which Namjoon should have expected, in all honesty.

“Yeah, well,” Jungkook huffs, turning away. “You wouldn’t kiss me until I was done and I felt like making out.”

“God, you really have a one track fucking mind, don’t you?” Namjoon chuckles in disbelief, shaking his head. “I can’t believe you.”

“But you like me anyway~” Jungkook sing-songs, which Namjoon can’t deny, so he rolls his eyes and slides his paper across the desk for Jungkook to furiously read in an effort to understand it before their class is over.

“Hey, Joon,” a boy says across the table, sounding a little awkward. He’s one of Namjoon’s friends that he made earlier in the year, so Jungkook doesn’t know him, and he more or less tunes him out while he continues to furrow his brow and work through the content as best he can in these final few minutes.

“Yeah?” Namjoon replies, giving the boy his full attention.

“Sorry if this is like, super invasive, but are you, um, still with Jimin? You posted a picture together with his legs wrapped around you like a koala on Instagram just last night…” The boy trails off, confused as ever, and Namjoon blinks rapidly, not expecting the question. It’s not like he’s super close to the guy, and people don’t ask these sorts of things.

“I am,” Namjoon confirms, the humour of the question catching up to him as he smiles knowingly and doesn’t elaborate.

“I took that photo!” Jungkook chimes in excitedly, oblivious to the topic of conversation. “They’re both so cute, I had to.”

“Um…” The boy looks ever so confused, and Namjoon nearly takes pity on him and explains their relationship, but then their teacher is wrapping up the class and Jungkook is tugging on Namjoon’s sleeve to point to the door. Jimin’s there waiting for them, leaning against a wall like the lead role of a drama, eyeing them both up with a pleased smile on his face.

“See you next week!” Namjoon says, leaving the confused boy alone and grabbing Jungkook’s hand, the pair of them nearly skipping out the door to meet their boyfriend outside. They both lean in at once, which makes them all burst into laughter, so instead they compromise and kiss one cheek each, squeezing Jimin between them like he’s the filling of a sandwich.

A very tasty sandwich, Namjoon thinks, giggling at his own analogy, pulling away to kiss Jungkook’s cheek next. The younger boy blushes, just in time for Jimin to capture his lips, kissing him for real, and when Namjoon turns around to glance back at his friend at their table, he sees the realisation drawing over his face, the click of understanding. He notices Namjoon watching him, then throws him an enthusiastic thumbs up. Namjoon laughs, turning back towards his boyfriends, only for Jungkook to kiss him next, just a quick peck, new and foreign and wonderful.

While Jimin’s lips are familiar, Jungkook’s still feel like home.

There’s a lone textbook tucked under Jimin’s arm and Jungkook knows exactly who it belongs to. Even though their road together has been long and rough and hard to navigate, Jungkook likes to think they’ve all turned up exactly where they're meant to be regardless.