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bro...what if we dated? haha...unless?

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Childhood crushes are the worst. They especially suck when they never go away. Jungkook knows this.

“Are you seriously stalking his Instagram again? Dude, isn’t this like the sixth time this week?” his roommate, Taehyung, says, nudging Jungkook’s shoulder gently. “You’re so whipped.”

“Am not,” Jungkook mutters, still fully in denial. “He’s a childhood friend and I’m allowed to check up on him.”

“Yeah, he’s a ‘childhood friend’ who also happens to be exactly your type and who you spend more time checking up on than your brother,” roommate number two, Jimin, says from Jungkook’s other side.

“Jin and Yoongi are almost always together anyways,” Jungkook defends himself. “And out of the two, Jin is more likely to check his phone. So really, I’m checking up on both of them when I’m checking up on Jin.”

“That’s a bit of reach, but sure,” Taehyung mumbles. “You’re hopeless.”

But Jungkook's not hopeless. Sure, he's maybe harbored this tiny, itty bitty crush on his older brother's best friend for an absurdly long amount of time, but things are different now. He's about to graduate from college, for one, and he's old enough to know that whatever feelings he had for Jin were probably just, like, minuscule. No big deal. Everyone has a first crush. And yeah, Jin ages like fine wine and keeps getting better looking year after year but that doesn’t mean that Jungkook’s—

“You’re doing the thing again, Jungkook,” Jimin chastises. “I can see it written all over your face. Pure and deep denial. Stop it.”

“I’m not in denial!” Jungkook protests. “It’s just weird how you guys keep on acting like I’m, like, in love with Jin or something. I’m really not. He was just my first crush, but now we’re, like, chill.”

“Right…’Chill,’” Taehyung says with air quotes. “So chill that you have all of his social media notifications turned on and you’re the first person to comment on all his posts even though you literally only bother to like every other one of my of Jimin’s posts.”

“I’m not good with social media!” Jungkook exclaims. “You know this! I’m not purposefully ignoring your posts.”

“You’re bad at social media unless it’s Jin,” Jimin corrects. “Get it right, sweetheart.”

Jungkook scrunches his nose. “You guys are making it sound weird. It’s not like that. And, like, I’m about to move in with him and Yoongi so it’d be nice if you guys would quit it. I’m not in love with him. He’s a childhood friend.”

“And your first crush,” Taehyung adds.

“And my first crush,” Jungkook agrees. “But crushes fade and I’m a sort-of adult now and I sometimes have my shit together. Good looks aren’t as important to me as a good credit score.”

“Proud of you,” Jimin replies. “You’ve really grown up. Before you know it, you’ll be mustering up the courage asking for Jin’s credit score.”

“Actually, I’ve already asked Yoongi about it. His credit score is pretty good.”

“Are you sure you’re not in love with him?” Taehyung asks.

“Positive,” Jungkook says. “I mean, like, sure my childhood self is screaming at the fact that I’ll be living with him and that I’ll have the blessing of seeing his face every day but it’s all good. Semi-adult Jungkook has some shred of self-control and won’t scream like a banshee when I inevitably see Jin naked at some point in the next six months. It’ll be more like a small squeak. See? That’s progress.”

“Wonderful,” Jimin answers. “So your plan is to act totally chill around him while still being totally, full-blown in love with him.”

“I’m not in love,” Jungkook corrects. Both Taehyung and Jimin give him a look. “Okay, maybe just a little, but it’s no biggie. I have self-control now, remember?”

“Sure,” Taehyung mutters. “No shade but I wouldn’t be boasting about my sense of self-control if I spent last Saturday eating six whole bowls of spicy cup ramen. Six, Jungkook. Six whole bowls. How are you still alive?”

Jungkook shrugs. “It seemed like a good idea at the time. And everything turned out fine in the end.”

“You spent the day after in bed, groaning about how you wouldn’t ever be able to look at a cup ramen package ever again and how your face felt so swollen you could die,” Jimin supplies helpfully.

“Everything turned out fine in the end,” Jungkook repeats with emphasis. He sighs. “Anyways, what should I comment on this post? A fire emoji? Or a thumbs up? What makes me seem friendly yet mysterious, cool yet approachable?”

“Neither,” Jimin answers. “Just go with one of those bowing down emojis because that’s the face you’re making right now.”

Jungkook freezes and tries to school his expression into something more collected. “That’s weird. I’ll just go with a fire emoji.”

“Yeah, because commenting a fire emoji under a post of Jin and Yoongi fishing isn’t weird at all,” Taehyung says. “It just looks ominous, dude. Maybe go for a wave or fish emoji?”

“Hm, that’s an excellent point.” Jungkook scrolls through to find a fish emoji and comments it. “Thanks.”

Taehyung hums. Jimin sighs and mutters something under his breath that sounds like, I'm not in love, he tells me. I'm not in love, but I spend ten minutes debating on what to comment on his Instagram posts. What the hell?

Jungkook ignores him. He’s just trying to be a good best friend’s younger brother. It has nothing to do with his tiny gross feelings for Jin. Nothing at all.

 

***

 

Jungkook is antsy on the day he moves in. It’s been a little less than a year since he last saw Jin and Yoongi, when he came to visit last summer.

Like all young people his age, Jungkook is dreadfully broke, so he had anticipated having roommates and living in a cramped apartment after graduation because there was no way in hell he was going to move back in with his parents.

But Jungkook isn’t great with new people, which is why it’s really great that Jin and Yoongi offered their apartment’s spare bedroom to him. Jungkook is at the point in his life where decreasing his interaction with random people feels like winning the lottery.

Jungkook already has a temporary job lined up at a nearby café to pay the bills while he searches for jobs and internships in his major, film.

He gets Taehyung and Jimin to help him load the boxes into his car. Luckily, the two of them had managed to find their own place nearby. Jungkook’s just glad to be out of their hair so his risk of walking in on them making out, while still nonzero, is significantly lower.

He's got two boxes tucked under each arm as he maneuvers to press the doorbell to Yoongi and Jin’s apartment. He hears rustling from the other side of the door before suddenly the door is yanked wide open and there Kim Seokjin is, standing there in all his glory.

Jungkook is, for lack of a better word, fully shook. None of the pictures on Jin’s Instagram can do justice to him in the flesh.

His lips are moving, but Jungkook has no idea what he’s saying. Jin is smiling and nodding, before his face slowly morphs into a look of concern.

“Jungkook? You there? I’ve said ‘come in’ like five times now, and you’re still standing on the doorstep and gaping at me like a fish.”

Jungkook closes his mouth and forces his brain to reset. He coughs and forces a laugh. “I’m all good, dude. Just, like, you know, not a morning person.”

“It’s two in the afternoon.”

“I’m not a morning person,” Jungkook repeats. “’Morning’ is a relative term.”

“Um, okay.” Jin stares at the boxes under Jungkook’s arms. “You need help with those?”

“Oh, I’m good, dude. I’m not scrawny anymore.” Jungkook grins. “You’re not the only one that works out now.”

Jin gives him a weird look. “How did you…?”

“Um. I’ve seen post-workout selfies on your Instagram…” Jungkook trails off, knowing that he definitely sounds like a creeper now. He clears his throat. “Sorry. I’ll just set these down and grab the rest.”

Jin steps aside as Jungkook barges in and unceremoniously drops them off inside his new room. He’s quiet even as Jin follows him out to his car.

“Yoongi’s at work right now, by the way,” Jin says as he hoists a larger box into his arms. Jungkook tries not to stare at Jin’s arms and fails. This is hell. “He’ll be back around five.”

Jungkook makes a small humming noise, not trusting himself to actually form words. He really hopes Jin forgets the comment he made about the older’s Instagram account. This is not how Jungkook was planning on starting off this “living with Jin” chapter of his life.

(If Jungkook is honest, he’s been rehearsing different conversation starters with Jin, thinking of different ways to give off the right vibes. He doesn’t want to fail a vibe check or anything. That would be embarrassing.)

Fortunately, Jin doesn’t bring up Jungkook’s creepy comment and instead says, “So how are things going? Have you heard back from any places yet?”

They set the boxes down in Jungkook’s room as Jungkook gives Jin a small nod. “Yeah, I’m gonna be working in a café for a bit, until I can get things figured out.” His voice comes out shaky and weird. He cringes internally. Try to act human, he instructs himself.

“Solid choice,” Jin comments. They don’t speak as they grab the last of the boxes. Jungkook is grateful for the silence, because it reduces the probability of him embarrassing himself again in front of Jin. Currently, the odds of embarrassment are still at a formidable eighty-three percent.

It’s quiet as Jungkook starts unpacking his things. Jin’s watching some home renovation show in the living room, and Jungkook spends an absurdly long amount of time debating on where to place his Iron Man memorabilia. He wants to display it, but what if displaying it too prominently will make him look immature and childish? He doesn’t want Jin to keep seeing him as that small, short kid with big eyes and a shy smile.

After a quick “how to seem like an adult” Google search, Jungkook decides to still display his collection, but in the far corner of his room where it can easily be looked over.

“Yeet,” he mutters to himself as he finishes and takes a step back to admire his work.

Yoongi gets back from work a few minutes after Jungkook is completely done setting up his room. There’s a knock at the door before Yoongi barges in and takes a moment to scan Jungkook’s room.

“Looks nice,” he says as Jungkook pulls himself up from his bed to wrap his brother in a hug. Yoongi lets out a small giggle and reaches up to ruffle Jungkook’s hair. “I swear to God, every time I see you I feel shorter. Stop growing.”

Jungkook laughs. “It’s revenge for you and Jin calling making fun of my height for years. Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it?”

“Hey, Jin’s still got a centimeter on you, so don’t get too confident about it.”

“Whatever,” Jungkook replies. “That doesn’t change the fact that you’re tiny.”

Yoongi looks personally offended as he pulls away from Jungkook. “I am not tiny. You’re walking on thin ice. I have the power to kick you out now!”

“You’re acting like you’re not a total softie,” Jungkook says with a grin. “We both know you’d never do it.”

“Well, I’ll tell Jin about it and he’ll kick you out to defend my honor.”

“Sure,” Jungkook mutters, fully aware that Jin is also too soft to do such a thing.

Yoongi smiles before ruffling Jungkook’s hair again. “So what do you want for dinner?”

The three of them order Chinese takeout and spend the evening talking and watching reruns of old sitcoms. Jungkook manages to keep his cyberstalking tendencies on the down low around Jin. It’s a successful night.

 

***

 

Working at the café is alright. Jungkook doesn’t completely hate it, but working in service is always a bit of a tradeoff.

As the only Asian employee, about approximately one hundred thousand people have stopped to ask him about his ethnicity, including his manager and his co-workers (Okay, maybe it wasn’t one hundred thousand, but it felt pretty damn close to it. Jungkook’s three more probing questions away from just tattooing “I’m Korean-American” onto his forehead.)

(Okay, so maybe getting a face tattoo is extreme. His parents would murder him in cold blood if he came home with one. But Jungkook is still reasonably annoyed with all the dumb things he’s been asked. One dude asked him if he was from North or South Korea. Who the fuck asks if you’re from North or South Korea, especially after you’ve just told them that you were born in the States?)

The point is things are okay. Not great, but okay. He’s dealt with worse before. No one is particularly mean, they’re just curious, so goddamn curious. One of these days Jungkook is gonna make a diversity training PowerPoint for his co-workers.

“Yeah, dude,” Jungkook is explaining. “Korean-American is, like, when you’re an American citizen but you have Korean heritage. In my case, my parents, like, yeeted out of South Korea to come here and then they had me.”

His co-worker is making a face that indicates to Jungkook that his dumbed-down explanation is still too difficult for his co-worker to understand.

He takes a deep breath and tries again. “My parents are Korean. I am American. So I’m Korean-American.”

The dude is still making a confused face but Jungkook’s tired and decides to just drop it.

“So, like, where are you from again?”

Jungkook holds a groan in and starts all over again.

 

***

 

By the time Jungkook gets home, he’s annoyed and tired and absolutely done with life. He thinks about eating his weight in Hot Cheetos and Choco Pies before deciding that maybe that wouldn’t be the best choice for his mental or physical health.

Jungkook’s got about an hour to kill before Yoongi or Jin get home so he pulls his phone out and starts playing IU’s latest album.

Yoongi opens the door to Jungkook lying in a miserable heap on the floor and singing along to the lyrics of the saddest song on the album, which he’s had on repeat for approximately twenty minutes. It’s a totally healthy and valid coping mechanism.

Yoongi stares at him, opens his mouth, and then decides not to question him. “I ordered pizza,” he says. “It should be here in a few. Jin won’t be home until late. He’s got a date.”

That’s enough for Jungkook to jolt upright from his position on the floor and turn off the current theme song of his life. “What? A date? Jin has a boyfriend?”

Yoongi narrows his eyes at Jungkook. “It’s a first date, so no, they’re not boyfriends.” He sinks down onto the couch and stares down at Jungkook. “Are you just gonna hang out on the floor forever?”

Jungkook shrugs. “It’s kind of comfy.” He bites his lip before mustering up the courage to ask, “So what’s the other guy like?”

“I dunno. Some dude who works in finance and likes traveling. They met on a dating app. I ran a quick background check on him and he seems alright.”

“So he’s rich,” Jungkook concludes.

“Eh, he’s about our age so not exactly. I’m sure he’s got a mountain load of student debt like the rest of us. But he’s got a nice job and everything, so…maybe in a few years or so he’ll be rich.” Yoongi fakes a dreamy sigh. “You know nothing makes me swoon like the possibility of financial stability.”

“Is he hot though?” Jungkook probes.

Yoongi shrugs. “Not really my type, but he’s decent.”

Jungkook tilts his head. “So is he Jin’s type, then?”

“I suppose so,” Yoongi answers.

“So what’s Jin’s type then?”

“Uh, like dudes who have their shit together. Jin’s a real sucker for competency and maturity.”

“Oh.” Jungkook wonders if he seems competent or mature. Considering he had to just stop himself from eating an irrationally large amount of junk food earlier, maybe he’s got some work to do before he can call himself either of those things.

“Why all the questions?” Yoongi asks. “Also, why did I walk in on you lying on the floor and pretending to sing-cry to IU?”

“Work kind of sucked today,” Jungkook mutters. “Sometimes people are so annoying I wanna yeet myself out of the nearest window.”

“That’s a whole mood,” Yoongi answers.

A few seconds of silence pass.

“So are we just going the ignore the fact you totally still have a crush on my best friend?”

Jungkook chokes on his own spit. “What? What are you talking about?”

Yoongi gives Jungkook a withering look. “I’m not stupid, Kook. I see your heart-eyes expression every time he so much as breathes in your direction. Also, you literally like and comment on every single one of his Instagram posts.”

“I thought you stopped using Instagram?”

Yoongi shrugs. “I like lurking. I see everything.”

“That’s not weird at all,” Jungkook mutters sarcastically. “And no, I do not have a crush on Jin. I’m over it. It’s all good. I’m cool now. Super cool. So cool—”

“—that you tripped over your own feet the other day when you saw Jin cooking breakfast shirtless.”

“I was just caught off guard, okay? It’s no big deal,” Jungkook defends himself.

“You sound like you’re in denial,” Yoongi observes.

“I’m not in denial!”

“That’s totally something that someone in denial would say.”

“You’re the worst.” Jungkook pouts. “Okay, so maybe I have a super tiny crush on Jin. Happy? It doesn’t matter. I’m not his type.”

Yoongi looks like he’s aging 10 years from this conversation. “Why do I only associate with dumbasses?”

“Doesn’t one of your closest friends have, like, an IQ score of 148?” Jungkook questions.

“You mean Namjoon? The man can explain major geopolitical issues but still doesn’t know how to purchase a subway card and has to buy himself a ticket every single time he rides. Therefore, he’s still a dumbass at heart.”

“Have you tried, like, helping him purchase one?”

Yoongi has the expression of a man that has been through three divorces and two mid-life crises. “Yes, unfortunately. But Namjoon’s brain apparently only has room to memorize the names of his favorite poets and not how to do basic everyday tasks. The amount of stress and worry he’s caused me…”

Yoongi’s face twists into something else briefly before settling back into a scowl, but Jungkook still catches it. “Ha! Looks like I’m not the only one with a crush!”

Yoongi doesn’t even try to deny it. “It doesn’t matter. Namjoon’s dating Hoseok, remember?”

“But I thought you and Hoseok…”

“Listen, I’m trying to fix your romantic life, not tell you all the intricate details of mine,” Yoongi says firmly. “You have a massive crush on Jin. It’s obvious. Please figure it out. I can’t live in an environment filled with so much romantic tension for much longer.”

“What do you mean ‘figure it out?’” Jungkook questions. “I’m doing my very best to be chill about it. What are you suggesting?”

Yoongi closes his eyes and starts chanting, “I promised myself I wouldn’t meddle. I promised myself I wouldn’t meddle. I promised myself I wouldn’t—”

The doorbell rings and Yoongi’s eyes shoot open. “Pizza’s here.”

They eat in comfortable silence, save for when Jungkook mumbles “let’s get this bread” as he shoves his face full of breadsticks. Yoongi looks both disgusted and endeared.

 

***

 

According to Jin, his date was “as bland as store-bought white bread” with the personality “of a goldfish.” Jungkook takes it as a hopeful sign. Now, if he can just convince Jin to see him as competent and mature…

It’s his day off, and he’s hanging out with Taehyung and Jimin at their place, watching a random K-drama while complaining. Well, it’s mostly Jungkook that’s doing the complaining while Taehyung and Jimin laugh at him.

“You? Competent and mature?” Jimin giggles, and Jungkook chucks a throw pillow at him. “You literally just graduated college, dude. It’ll be a minute before you can become either of those things.”

“Well, I don’t have a minute!” Jungkook says exasperatedly. “Jin’s going on dates and shit! It’s only a matter of time before someone snatches him up!”

“Have you ever considered that maybe Yoongi was just fucking with you?” Taehyung chimes in. “Competency and maturity are like…I dunno, man. If I were to describe my type, I’d probably just go with short and feisty.”

Jimin chucks another pillow at Taehyung. “I am not short! You can sleep on the couch tonight for all I care.”

Taehyung doesn’t bat an eye. “You get what I’m saying, right?”

“I guess,” Jungkook mutters. “But I think Yoongi was probably just trying to hint to me that I’m definitely not Jin’s type.”

Jimin rolls his eyes. “Listen, it’s the 21st century, guys. Who even has a ‘type’ anymore? It’s all bullshit.”

Jungkook feels himself pouting. “I know you’re just trying to make me feel better. It’s fine. It’s all cool, my dudes.”

“You know,” Taehyung says tentatively, “maybe you should just tell him how you feel. Instead of, like, agonizing about how to change yourself so he likes you.”

“I’d rather eat my left foot,” Jungkook mutters.

“That’s not the right attitude,” Jimin comments.

“Okay. Full honesty. The thought of admitting my…feelings or whatever…is about as appealing to me as eating three-week-old pizza. With the mold on and everything.” Jungkook pauses. “Imagine the food poisoning. Horrifying. Nauseating. Scarring. Yeah, that’s how I feel.”

“I always forget that you’re a former emo kid,” Jimin mutters.

“Feelings aren’t as bad as food poisoning,” Taehyung says. “I promise.”

“Sounds like a lie but okay.”

That seems to be enough for both Jimin and Taehyung to give up on helping him. They go quiet, watching as the lead on screen breaks the second male lead’s heart. Jungkook hates how it feels a bit like an omen.

 

***

 

It takes approximately .67 seconds for Jungkook to completely embarrass himself in front of Jin that night.

“Have fun with your friends?” Jin asks as Jungkook kicks his shoes off.

“Yeah, it was pretty great, broski.”

There’s a long pause.

“What…What did you just call me?” Jungkook has never seen Jin look so confused in his life.

“Um…‘broski?’” Jungkook repeats. “It’s like, um, ‘my dude’ or ‘bro.’ But instead…‘broski.’”

Jin looks even more confused. “Is that how the kids talk these days?”

And there it is. Kids.

“I’m not a kid,” Jungkook says, an unsettling feeling gathering in the pit of his stomach.

Jin shrugs. “I know you aren’t. But anyone more than three months younger than me is automatically a kid in my eyes.”

“So, like…you think Yoongi’s a kid?”

“He has his moments.”

“Huh…” Jungkook’s brain works and sputters, trying to connect all the dots. “So that’s why all of your boyfriends have always been older than you?”

Jin makes a choking noise. “What?”

Jungkook, suddenly realizing what his lips just uttered, desperately wants to disappear into the ground. “W-What?” he repeats dumbly.

He can feel his cheeks heating up rapidly. He really hopes Jin doesn’t notice.

But Jin is staring at him like he’s seeing him for the first time. “Jungkook…” he finally says, “are you alright?”

“I’m…swell,” Jungkook answers before slowly beginning to back up, inching closer and closer to the safety of his room. “Haha, um. See you later, broski. Peace out!”

Jungkook lets out a huge breath once he’s in his room and the door is shut. He shuts his eyes tightly before grabbing his pillow and screaming into it. Once. Twice. Maybe five hundred times.

But it’s fine. Totally cool. Jungkook’s super cool. Right?

 

***

 

Jungkook spends the next day distracted at work, replaying the humiliating events of last night in his head over and over again. Who the hell calls their crush “broski?” Jungkook kind of wants to yeet himself into an alternate dimension where he isn’t a walking human disaster.

(But there’s no guarantee that Jin exists the same way in the alternate dimension the way he does in this one. So that’s a definite no-go, Jungkook determines. He doesn’t want to think about a universe in which Jin wasn’t the older kid who protected Jungkook from kids who made fun of his nose and his teeth and his shyness. He doesn’t want to think about a universe in which Jin wasn’t the one who always picked him up from school and didn’t make him feel bad when his grades weren’t stellar. He doesn’t want to think about a universe in which he doesn’t love Jin the way he does now because of how Jin makes him feel safe and accepted and valued and—This is precisely why Jungkook hates feelings.)

It seems Jungkook isn't the only one thinking about their conversation though, because when he pushes the apartment door open that evening, Jin says, “For the record, my previous partners have not all been older than me. It just seems that way because my handsome face is so youthful and full of vitality.”

Jungkook blinks. “Oh. Cool. Good…Good to know.”

“And, uh…I would like to extend an apology for referring to you as a kid. I know you’re not a kid anymore, Jungkook.” Jin scratches his neck awkwardly. “I dunno. I hope you know that I’ve never meant it like that. I’ve always meant it as an endearing term, but I understand if it comes off as me patronizing you. I’ll try to be more conscious about it in the future.”

Jungkook can feel his face doing that OJO thing his friends keep telling him about. He tries to keep it under control. “Oh no. It’s totally cool, dude. I know what you meant. It’s just like…I’m still trying to figure out this adulthood stuff and I guess I just get, like, embarrassed easily.” He sucks in a deep breath. “Sorry. I know I’m not explaining very clearly—”

“I get it.” Jin waves him off. “It’s all good.” He pauses thoughtfully before adding, “My dude.”

Jungkook wonders if all that alternate dimension daydreaming early actually manifested into reality.

“Did I use that correctly?” Jin asks as Jungkook stares at him in shock. “Is that not the proper usage of ‘my dude?’ You gotta help teach me these things, my dude.”

“No, no, that was perfect,” Jungkook answers. “I’m just, like…I guess I just never thought about the day I would hear you say ‘my dude’ to me.”

Jin smiles. “I like it. Very versatile. Suitable in many situations.”

Jungkook smiles back and tries very hard to not fall deeper in love with the one and only Kim Seokjin.

(He fails. Epically. But it’s all good. There are worse things to do with his time than love Jin.)

 

***

 

For all that Yoongi has told him, Jungkook has never actually met Namjoon or Hoseok in person before.

Following in the footsteps of all the great struggling fresh college graduates before him, Jungkook decides to spend his Saturday curled in bed while watching random YouTube videos. He’s watching a baking video. He’s never turned an oven on in his life.

There are voices coming from the living room, but Jungkook feels so exhausted from a week of interacting with people nonstop that he’d rather stay in his blanket burrito than make himself known to whatever guests Yoongi and Jin must be hosting.

An hour passes before he hears the front door open and close. He checks the time on his phone. It’s just past eleven in the morning. He remembers Yoongi vaguely mentioning an important lunch meeting with a client from his architecture firm.

Jungkook shuts his phone off and tries to discern what’s going on in the living room.

There’s boisterous laughter, followed by a “You’re such a dumbass sometimes, Namjoon,” coming from an unknown voice.

“Hey, I feel like it’s a common mistake,” another voice answers. “Anyone could easily do the same.”

“I mean,” Jin says, “I, for one, have never microwaved a fork with my ramen and then attempted to use said fork, resulting in a weirdly shaped second-degree burn.” A pause. “What about you, Hoseok? Have you made this so-called ‘common mistake?’”

Another laugh. “I can’t say I have.”

“You guys are being mean,” a voice—Namjoon—whines. “You were the ones asking me about how I got that scar.”

“Forgive me, how was I supposed to know such a hilariously idiotic story would accompany that question?” Jin says playfully.

Jungkook wonders if he should pull himself out of bed to introduce himself or not. A small part of him—a childhood part of him that never quite faded away—wants to avoid having to interact with new people at all costs.

You’re an adult now, he reminds himself. And these are your brother’s best friends. Get it together.

But Jungkook’s shyness tells him to stay in bed, at least for another ten minutes or so. He promises to himself that he’ll spend the time psyching himself up to meet Namjoon and Hoseok.

“Hey, wasn’t Yoongi’s little brother supposed to move in this month?” Hoseok asks suddenly. “Is he around? Yoongi’s been itching to have us meet him for a while now.”

“I think he’s still asleep,” Jin answers. “But he’ll probably emerge sometime in the next hour to grab some food.”

Jungkook decides that Hoseok’s question is a great cue for him to make himself presentable enough to meet people. He pushes his hands through his hair, rubs the sleep out of his eyes, and does his best to seem less like a zombie and more like a human. He splashes water on his face and brushes his teeth before deeming himself as ready as he’ll ever be. He whispers “let’s get it” to himself in the mirror for good luck.

“Is it weird with three people in the apartment now? You and Yoongi have lived together since college…”

“It’s about the same,” Jin says. “It’s just like when we were younger.”

Jungkook eases open the door and starts padding his way towards the kitchen. Or the living room. The apartment is small enough to where the kitchen and living room are basically the same room.

“How so?” Namjoon asks.

“When we were little, it was always me and Yoongi hanging out, with Jungkook trailing after us. It’s just like you always see on TV, the two best friends and the annoying younger brother following them.”

They laugh, and Jungkook pauses in his footsteps.

“So basically, there’s no getting rid of him,” Hoseok comments.

“Something like that,” Jin replies. “I wasn’t in the least surprised when Yoongi told me Jungkook wanted to move in with us.”

That’s weird. Jungkook had always been under the impression that they had wanted him to move in with them. Maybe they’d just offered out of pity.

“Isn’t Yoongi’s little brother the one who keeps commenting on all your posts?” Namjoon questions.

“Yeah, he’s the one.”

That pulls another chuckle out of them. “He’s definitely the ‘annoying younger brother’ type,” Hoseok says.

Jungkook feels…Well, he feels a bit betrayed.

Am I annoying?

He tries to tell himself to just forget about it. It’s cool, dude. It’s no big deal. Just be cool.

He forces a big smile onto his face and slowly steps into the living room, immediately heading into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water.

“J-Jungkook?” Jin calls.

Jungkook holds his breath for a half-second. Forces it out. “Good morning,” he says brightly. Be welcoming. Be friendly. Be cool. He nods towards the two unfamiliar faces. “You guys must be Namjoon and Hoseok. It’s really nice to meet you guys.”

The awkwardness in the air makes the pleasantries painful. “Likewise,” Namjoon finally says. “Um…” He nudges Hoseok, whose face is contorted into a mix between a wince and a smile.

“Nice to meet you,” Hoseok chokes out.

This is awkward. This wasn’t supposed to be awkward. Fix it, you fool.

"It's all good," Jungkook says in that same fake bright tone. "I'm cool with being labeled the 'annoying younger brother.' It's a pretty accurate description." He forces a laugh.

Jin looks horrified. “Hey, listen—”

“It’s cool,” Jungkook interrupts, hating how fragile and small he feels in this moment. “I mean, like, I only let myself have feelings like twenty-three percent of the time. It’s no biggie, my dudes.”

Another long silence stretches itself out. Jungkook lets out another forced laugh.

“Well, I, uh, I won’t hold you guys up any longer,” he says. He gives Namjoon and Hoseok an apologetic smile. “Hope to see you guys around again sometime.”

And then he promptly grabs the nearest food item—some stale bagel Yoongi’s must’ve forgotten to eat this morning—before rushing off to lock himself in his bedroom.

It’s stupid, he tells himself. Just be chill about it.

It’s stupid, he repeats to himself. It just be like that sometimes. It’s totally cool.

But then why would Jin apologize to him for calling him a “kid” before turning around and saying those things?

It’s stupid, but Jungkook still finds himself staring at Jin’s Instagram profile, deleting each and every one of his comments on Jin’s posts from the past nine months.

It’s stupid, but Jungkook turns off his baking videos and instead watches those sappy “two sides of the love story” videos to make himself feel even more lonely and sad and pathetic.

It’s stupid, but Jungkook had really hoped—had desperately wished—that maybe Jin would finally like him back.

 

***

 

There’s a bag of Hot Cheetos sitting outside of his bedroom door the next morning. Jungkook knows this is Jin’s way of apologizing, a habit Jin’s had since they were kids.

Jungkook inhales deeply before picking the Hot Cheetos up and putting them back into the snack cabinet, acutely aware of how Jin is sitting on the couch and staring at him.

“Hey,” Jin says gently. “Can we talk, Jungkook? I think…I owe you an explanation.”

Jungkook remembers telling Taehyung and Jimin about his desire to consume his left foot over talking about his feelings. But he knows this is it. Not even eating his own foot will get him out of this conversation.

So he sits on the other end of the couch, ignoring how weird it feels to be sitting on the same couch as Jin with more than three feet between them.

“I’m sorry,” Jin starts. “I know you overheard us yesterday. We were being cruel, and I’m really, truly sorry about that. I hope you know that I’ve never seen you as a nuisance, or an inconvenience, or anything like that. It was a joke in poor taste.” Jin clears his throat. “To be honest, living with you has been really great. I never meant to imply otherwise. Both Yoongi and I love having you around, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Jungkook knows he’s supposed to be talking now, but he doesn’t even know where to begin. Maybe with a reassurance. “It’s okay,” he says quietly. “Like, I get it. I’m not mad or anything. I’m not always the greatest at like…self-awareness and stuff. It’s cool.”

“Hey, you’re not doing anything wrong at all. You’re always good at everything, remember?”

Jungkook lets out a weak laugh. “Yeah, sure.”

“I mean it.”

“I know you do, man.” This is how it’s always been, with Jin being so fucking nice and supportive and perceptive.

Jungkook spends a half-second wondering if eating his foot is still an option. He determines that it’s time to stop being a coward for once. He knows Jimin and Taehyung would be proud of him if they could see him now.

“Okay, listen,” Jungkook starts. “I have something to tell you.”

Jin stares back at him, giving him an encouraging nod.

Jungkook swallows hard. “Um, so it has been pointed out to me, by Yoongi and my friends and Namjoon and Hoseok and whatever, that I’ve been…obvious.” Jungkook sucks in a deep breath. “But I think I should just say it aloud anyways. I really like you. I have for a while. And I guess I thought you should just, like…know about it.”

Jin goes still and blinks at him for several seconds before his face bursts into a giddy smile. “Oh thank God. I was wondering how much longer I would have to wait.”

Jungkook stares at him. “What?”

“When I spoke to Yoongi about this last summer, he gave me his blessing under the condition that I wait until you were ready to tell me yourself—”

“You guys talked about this already? Yoongi knew the whole time? What?”

Jin waves a hand in the air. “Of course he knew. He’s my best friend.”

“And he’s okay with it?”

“I mean, he was a little skeptical at first, but I got him to come around to the idea.”

“What idea?”

“The idea of us together.”

“Excuse me,” Jungkook says in a strained voice. “What?

Jin squints at him. “Isn’t that how these things work? You like me, I like you, then some stuff happens and then we’re together.”

“You like me?”

“Have you not been paying attention this entire time I’ve been explaining things to you?”

"Not really. I have one brain cell and I think you just fried it."

“That’s fine. I have enough brainpower for the both of us.”

“Did you say that you and Yoongi talked last summer? Are you saying—”

“Yes, last summer I came to a stunning realization that, to my horror, the kid who I watched grow up was suddenly very attractive and I was very scared. But, you know.” Jin gives a small shrug. “I got over my fear and Yoongi was like ‘Well, I guess there are worse people Jungkook could date,’ so everything was settled.”

Jungkook is still very confused. “So you just kept this all to yourself for a year?”

“Did you not hear the part where I promised Yoongi to wait for you to talk to me first? Something about you ‘needing to get over your fear of talking about feelings.’”

Jungkook feels kind of attacked. “I don’t have a fear of talking about feelings!”

Jin gives Jungkook a look.

Jungkook sighs. “Fine. I may or may not have a healthy fear of talking about feelings.”

Jin narrows his eyes.

“I definitely have a fear of talking about feelings. There. Happy?”

“If it makes it easier, I suggest inserting ‘my dude’ and ‘broski’ when you feel like you’re getting too deep. It really helps lighten the mood. For example, ‘I think I’m head over heels for you, broski.’”

“I’m gonna yeet myself out of the window if you say that again.”

“What? Don’t do that. I like you back, my dude.”

“Stop. You’re scaring me.”

“Fine. Can I kiss you now?”

“Uh.” Jungkook’s brain feels like mush. “Hell yeah.”

And then Jin’s lips are pressing against his and it very much feels like one of those “I’m head over heels for you, broski” moments.