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death by a thousand cuts

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jimin wakes up to an elbow in his gut and a leg thrown over his hip. there’s hair in his mouth, courtesy of taehyung, whose face is currently smushed into the crook of jimin’s neck. he sputters a little and turns his head, only to knock straight into jungkook’s shoulder.

“ow,” he whispers distantly, very much still half asleep. jimin blinks blearily into the brightness as it streams through the open blinds, listens to jungkook snuffle a little in his sleep, feels taehyung’s even breath puff against his skin.

jimin shakes his hair out of his eyes and rubs a hand down taehyung’s back, lets it settle against the dip of his spine. jungkook’s dead asleep and snoring, turned the other way but still close enough for jimin to accidentally brain himself on one of those stupidly broad shoulders. jimin scratches lightly at jungkook’s back, smiles when he shivers a little in his sleep. cute.

when he turns back to taehyung, there are two pretty doe eyes peaking up at him. “morning, jimin-ah,” taehyung murmurs, voice raspy with sleep. he nuzzles in closer, smile lazy, his chubby cheek mashed against jimin’s chest. he looks so beautiful in the morning light, sunshine falling across golden skin like diamond dust.

jimin swallows, tries to shove everything he’s feeling down into the deepest crevices of his mind, his heart. these emotions, overwhelming as they are, have begun to feel routine. wake up, drown a little, go about your day. fall asleep. wake up. rinse, repeat.

there are some days that jimin thinks they must know, the both of them. he’s always been a terrible actor, and lying has never been an option when it comes to his best friends. they see right through him—a paper thin boy with emotions just as fragile, just as easy to rip and tear. nearly translucent if you look in the right light.

“morning,” jimin says. he smiles, an automatic response to taehyung’s general presence, and lets his other arm flop across jungkook’s hip. “jungkookie has class in an hour.”

“he does,” taehyung agrees easily, stifling a yawn into the flannel of jimin’s pajama top. “and you have work in about forty minutes. i can drop you both off on my way into the salon.”

jimin lets his head drop against the pillow. “you’re an angel.”

taehyung pats jimin’s chest lightly, offers a cheeky little smile. “i know.”

jimin doesn’t get a chance to respond. he’s cut off by rustling sheets—a groan, a sharp, echoing crack when jungkook stretches his arms high above his head. taehyung makes a disgusted little noise in the back of his throat, immediately contradicting himself by reaching across to jimin to tug at jungkook’s t-shirt. jungkook blinks at them slowly, pretty brown eyes still cloudy with sleep, and promptly rolls on top of them.

“mmph,” jimin says intelligently, choking a little on jungkook’s hair.

“jungkookie, ge’off,” taehyung whines, squirming. his elbow catches jimin in the hip and jimin grunts, groaning when jungkook buries his face into his neck. “sorry, jiminie.”

“s’okay,” jimin says, fighting to free his arms from where they’re pinned under massive amounts of boy. he wrangles one out from underneath jungkook, wraps it snugly around his tiny waist. “morning, koo.”

“morning, hyung,” jungkook mumbles, muffled against jimin’s sleep shirt. “morning, other hyung.”

“brat,” taehyung says fondly, carding careful fingers through the rat’s nest that is jungkook’s sleep hair. “you have class in an hour.”

a pause, and then a long, drawn out noooooooo whined into the crook of jimin’s neck. still, he leans into taehyung’s touch, flailing an arm out to the side in search of taehyung’s warmth. jimin lets his eyes fall shut, and pretends, just for a second, that this—this waking up together, this sleepy morning routine—means something more. means anything at all.

the peace is shattered when jungkook rolls off of jimin. he ends up flat on his back and pouting at the ceiling like the giant baby he is. taehyung throws his leg out to kick him, which results in a perfect, tanned thigh resting across jimin’s lap like the cruelest of tortures. he’s not awake enough for this—all he wants to do is reach down and trace the pretty patterns of stretchmarks and freckles until tae giggles breathlessly and tells him to stop, jimin-ah, that tickles.

he’s like, seventy-eight percent sure he’s about to pop a boner when jungkook inadvertently saves him by grabbing tae’s ankle and yanking him across the bed. taehyung lets out an indignant yelp and rolls over jimin, elbows and knees digging into places elbows and knees do not belong. jimin huffs and shoves taehyung off of him with an overdramatic sigh that goes completely ignored.

taehyung and jungkook start to play-wrestle, limbs and sheets and curses flying. jimin flops over onto his stomach, away from the chaos and—hopefully, but probably not—out of harm’s way. he sighs, pretends to be annoyed, bites down on a smile.

loving them comes as easy as a heartbeat. he’s loved taehyung since he was twelve years old, new to the city and terrified until a kind boy with the cutest ears and sweetest smile asked to sit with him at lunch. he’s loved jungkook since he was nineteen, when it was his turn to reach out and help someone new, when a scared-looking freshmen with jimin’s hometown accent and pretty brown eyes asked for directions to his very first uni class.

he hadn’t thought he’d ever be able to love anyone else the way he loved taehyung, so wholly and completely, all-consuming and, at times, a little terrifying.

jungkook proved him wrong, carved out his own space. just as big, just as encompassing. and when jimin introduced him to tae, when the three of them clicked into place like the universe had quite literally moved for them, like fate had bent and twisted itself in half to throw them together—

jimin knew he was in trouble.

the sharp jab of a knee to his side jerks him from his reverie rather abruptly. on instinct, he lets out a confused, pained little noise—something like a sad quack. in an instant, the chaos stops, like they’ve entered the eye of a particularly sexy storm.

and suddenly there are large hands cupping at his cheeks, squishing them up until he can barely see. taehyung and jungkook’s worried faces appear in his blurry line of vision, brows pinched together in near identical expressions of concern.

“did we hurt you?” taehyung asks, sounding mournful. it’s a little bit of an overreaction in jimin’s hazy, half-awake opinion, but—

what the hell. he’ll play it up.

jimin nods as best as he can while taehyung’s spindly fingers still hold his head in place. jungkook looks crestfallen at the affirmation, whispers, “i think it was me. i think i kneed him.”

taehyung gasps. “jungkook!”

“i thought i was kneeing you!”

“that doesn’t make it any better, what the fuck—“

jimin sighs, tries to hide the smile that blooms when their attention instantly redirects to him at the sound. “i’m sorry, hyung,” jungkook says, eyes wide and sad. he slots himself against jimin, lying down beside him and resting his head on jimin’s chest. taehyung takes his (rightful) place on jimin’s other side, chin hooking over jimin’s shoulder. they both throw an arm over his belly, one right on top of the other.

taehyung looks off into the distance, a pensive expression taking over those strong, gorgeous features. “war is never worth the casualties it engenders.”

jimin snorts. jungkook cackles. taehyung smiles, goofy and bright. “what? i was being serious.”

“shut the fuck up,” jungkook tells him cheerfully, reaching up to shove at his shoulder.

“please don’t start this again—” jimin groans, tries to wiggle away, but the two of them hold on like flies stuck to flypaper.

jungkook sighs dramatically, presses a palm against jimin’s chest to get him to stop moving. “okay, okay, fine. just stay still. m’trying to nap.”

“no,” taehyung says, immediate and firm—or, something close to firm. the bitten down smile full of fondness and light gives him away. “you have class and jiminie has work. i will drop you both off on my way into the salon, but don’t think for a second that i won’t leave your asses here if you make me late again.”

it’s a lie, and both jimin and jungkook know it’s a lie—taehyung would be late a thousand more times before he refused them a ride. still, they hustle out of bed and get dressed as fast as their sleep-soft limbs allow, grumbling the whole while. taehyung disappears into the bathroom and reemerges barely ten minutes later, hair perfectly tousled, make-up glowy and divine. perks of being a cosmetologist, jimin guesses.

or maybe it’s just a perk of being as effortlessly beautiful as taehyung is.

jungkook flops onto the bed, tugging his combat boots over bright pink polka-dot socks. he’s scowling darkly and looking about as scary as a little black bunny, despite the piercings and tattoos littering his body. he’s amassed quite the collection of both over the years, gorgeous pieces of art inked permanently to smooth, warm skin, nose studs and earrings and eyebrow hoops glittering in the morning sun. he looks like art himself, blinking sleepily up at jimin through a veil of dark, butter-soft hair and long, fluttery lashes.

jimin looks away, feeling a little like he’s stared at the sun for too long. the familiar presences of taehyung and jungkook bustling around jimin’s room like its their own sometimes feels like too much.

“what do you guys feel about pasta for dinner?” jungkook asks, running a hand through his hair.

“i feel like i don’t care as long as i don’t have to make dinner,” taehyung says, fluffing his hair in the mirror over jimin’s dresser.

“not in the mood to be poisoned, thanks,” jimin says, “but if i’m ever feel a hankering for certain death, we’ll let you cook.”

“dickhead,” taehyung mutters, and jimin gets a wadded up make-up wipe to the face for his efforts. “should make your bitch ass walk to work.”

jimin siddles up, hugs tae from behind, arms locking around his waist. taehyung instantly leans back, head lolling against jimin’s. “i’m sorry,” jimin pouts, “i love you. besides, you owe me for injuring me.”

taehyung scoffs, but smiles. “i don’t owe you shit. jungkook’s the one the kicked you.” he squints at jimin playfully in the mirror, adds, “besides, you’re milking it.”

“i’ll never recover,” jimin says, very seriously, “ever. the trauma will never leave me. my best friends, the only two people in the world i thought i could trust—“

“oh my god,” taehyung groans, sagging until jimin is carrying the majority of his weight, “you’re so dramatic.”

jimin sniffs. “and you’re heartless.”

jungkook appears behind them, ruffling both of their hair before giving jimin a quick swat on the butt. “let’s go. i get a whole grade letter dropped if i’m late again.”

“hey!” jimin squeaks, jerking away and jolting taehyung. “where is the respect, you little shit?”

“ass too fat,” jungkook responds sagely, and taehyung nods like this is a perfectly understandable answer. “couldn’t resist.”

“you can’t even see my ass through these scrubs,” jimin argues, pinching taehyung’s hip. “that’s for not defending my honor.”

“you could see that ass from outer space,” jungkook counters, just barely audible over taehyung’s indigent yelp. taehyung twists in jimin’s arms and cups his cheeks in both of his palms, large hands nearly overtaking jimin’s entire face.

“pretty jiminie,” he sings, swaying them to an imaginary rhythm. “pretty, pretty jiminie.”

jimin feels himself flush, cheeks heating under taehyung’s warm touch. “fuck off,” he groans, shoving lightly at taehyung until he stumbles back, laughing. “drive me to work. i hate you both.”

they manage to leave with enough time to stop at jimin’s favorite coffee shop, and jungkook buys him an apology tea for both the blossoming bruise (courtesy of jungkook’s wayward knee) and the ass smacking, though jungkook insists he does not regret the latter. jimin gets shotgun because it’s his turn and shotgun dibs are sacred—which means he also gets control of the aux chord, because taehyung is powerless when it comes to jimin’s pout.

jimin sighs happily, settles against the passenger seat, his steaming tea infusing the air with lemon verbena and mint. he’s speaking it into existence—

it’s going to be a good day.

 

-

 

it’s a bad day.

they were understaffed—fucking jennie, calling out last minute as per usual—and there are no such thing as breaks when you’re dealing with human lives in need of constant care. jimin ate his sandwich—the crust removed, courtesy of taehyung—in-between rounds and shots and check-ups, meetings with concerned new parents and stinky diaper changes. he didn’t get a chance to sit down until he clocked out, well-past his scheduled time.

jungkook had offered to pick him up on his way back from his night class, but jimin didn’t want him out in the rain any longer than he needed to be. he’d texted back, saying that jin would drive him home—which was a lie, jin had left an hour earlier—and promptly ordered an uber with the extra money he didn’t actually have.

the uber driver was an old man who smelled like cheese—not the good kind—and kept up a constant stream of mindless chatter, which, usually, jimin doesn’t mind. he’s good with people, likes making new friends, hearing stories. today, though—today, jimin felt like spy-rolling out of the back door and into oncoming traffic.

pulling up to his and taehyung’s apartment complex after forty-five minutes of stop-and-go traffic had felt a little like watching the gates of heaven open up, angelic music and all. he’d thrown a tense smile and a thank you to the driver before bolting home, his thighs and calves screaming at the exertion after a full day on his feet.

now, he trudges up the stairs at a snail’s pace, rain-soaked hair plastered to his forehead. it’s highly likely that he looks like a drowned rat. a sad, grouchy little rat with bags under his eyes and the weight of the world on his tiny rat shoulders. he wouldn’t know, of course—there’s barely enough time to go to the bathroom during a shift, let alone stop to check himself out in the mirror.

besides, hospital lighting is atrocious. best to just...not look. too depressing.

jimin opens the door and drops his bag on the scratched-up countertop, toeing his shoes off by the trash can. taehyung’s boots have been discarded haphazardly by the couch, right next to jungkook’s timberlands.

“guys?” jimin calls, shrugging off his jacket. he can hear murmuring from down the hall, whispers floating through the air like smoke. he hangs his coat on the old fashioned rack taehyung found at some antique shop, half-priced because it only had one branch. they alternate who gets to use it, shifting through a fine-tuned schedule like clockwork. “tae? jungkook-ah?”

he rolls his shoulders, body aching from his nightmare of a shift. he specifically remembers being promised pasta this morning, and yet there is no pasta to speak of. all he wants to do is curl up on the couch and binge watch queer eye until he falls asleep and jungkook has to carry him to bed, but first he needs to find his asshole best friends and demand to know why he is not already being fed.

jimin pads down the hallway, hardwood floors creaking under bare feet. he smells like baby throw up and antiseptic, a particularly jarring scent that he’s learned to ignore over the past year. jungkook always tells jimin that he smells like a hero, thumbing at his under-eye bags until he smiles. taehyung, on the other hand, usually just hands jimin a pair of fresh pjs and guides him pointedly towards the bathroom. sometimes, on the particularly bad days—days when jimin thinks that maybe he’s not strong enough for the job he’s picked, when he isn’t able to do enough for the defenseless babies in his care, when he has to look a parent in the eye and deliver the very worst sort of news—

taehyung and jungkook will be waiting at the apartment, a steaming bath already drawn and a glass of jimin’s favorite moscato waiting on the ledge of the tub. they’ll sit with him and chat about their day, jungkook throwing little cheese cubes into taehyung’s mouth from the other side of the bathroom, their legs entangled between them. they’ll bundle jimin up in taehyung’s fluffiest bathrobe before he prunes up, put on the notebook and cuddle close when he inevitably starts to tear up—from the movie, he’ll swear, and taehyung will nod kindly like jimin’s not lying through his teeth.

jimin thinks that today absolutely falls under the category of a Bad Day, and he could really use some moscato right about now.

(more than anything, he could really use tae and jungkook right now.)

“guys,” jimin calls again, the slightest bit of a whine creeping into his tone. “you promised me noodles.”

he pads down the hallway towards taehyung’s room in socked feet, sighing at the ache in his lower back. he thinks that maybe, with enough needling, he could get jungkookie to massage him after dinner. jimin rolls his neck, shakes his shoulders out. stops just outside taehyung’s door.

it’s almost all the way closed, just a little crack of light slipping out between wood and wall and that’s—strange. they don’t close their doors, never have. they’ve seen each other in just about every compromising position possible, have had full conversations while taehyung was pissing and jimin was in the shower and jungkook was just there because jungkook is always there. jimin has walked in on tae jerking off more times than he can count. hell, he’s walked on jungkook more times than he can count, because as their unofficial third roommate, he takes “make yourself at home” to a different level entirely. brat doesn’t even bring his own lube, just steals jimin’s.

(which, like. okay. maybe jimin associates the smell of his favorite lube with the daydream of what it would taste like being licked off of jungkook’s—)

“you’re fucking with me.”

there’s a rustling noise, accompanied by a tiny sniffle. taehyung’s voice, thick with tears and a little wobbly. jimin pauses with his hand on the door, shoulders tense.

“tae—”

jungkook—his tone tinged with desperation, a glimmer of hope. jimin frowns. what the fuck are they talking about?

he could just walk in, of course, but something about this feels fragile. important. like he could shatter it with just a creak of the door, a footstep muffled by the carpet.

jimin has never felt like an outsider before, not when it comes to taehyung and jungkook. he’s always known that his place is right between the two of them, nestled comfortably between his favorite people. he’s never felt unwanted, unnecessary—three’s a crowd, or so the saying goes, but it has never applied to them.

until now.

“you’re fucking with me.”

“i’m not,” jungkook insists, “i’m not, i’ve—god, i’ve felt this way since the day we met—”

and doesn’t that sound awfully like a confession. jimin’s heart freezes in his chest, cold seeping down to the very marrow of his bones.

“you—” taehyung cuts himself off, takes a shaky breath. “you—”

“i love you,” jungkook says. he sounds so grown-up, so sure. nothing like the scared little eighteen year old jimin met nearly seven years ago, asking for directions around campus because he was late for his very first class and super lost. “i love you,” he repeats, and the words hold a different weight.

jimin’s heard them through laughter, through tears, on movie nights and study dates. but never like that. never with such heaviness, such reverence. like a revelation, a universal truth. the sun rises in the east, the moon controls the tides. jungkook loves taehyung.

and—

“i love you, too,” taehyung whispers, broken and a little bruised.

taehyung loves jungkook right back.

something inside jimin fissures, splits. cracks clean in two.

he always knew that one day—one day, taehyung and jungkook would find the the people they were destined to spend the rest of the lives with. they’d move on and jimin would step aside, fall into the roll of best man at their respective weddings, the godfather to their kids. he’s already cleaned up a few heartbreaks, and he’s steeled himself against the worst of it. he knew that one day he would have to burst this little bubble of paradise where it’s just the three of them, barely scraping by but happy. drowning in love and laughter and the little pieces of each other that have made this shithole apartment a home.

he knew he’d lose them, that it was only a matter of time, but somehow, still, he’d thought—

he’d thought—

beyond the door, taehyung’s old mattress squeaks as one of them moves closer. maybe taehyung brushes jungkook’s hair off his face, maybe jungkook presses a kiss to taehyung’s palm. maybe they gaze into each other’s eyes and the world lights up with fireworks, all for them. just for them.

jimin doesn’t know, because he doesn’t look. he could, if he wanted—the crack in the door is right there. he could peer inside but this moment isn’t for him. he’s the outsider, the outlier. the extra. this glowing piece of intimacy belongs to taehyung and jungkook and no one else. not even their very best friend.

still, it’s unmistakable when they start to kiss. the sound washes over jimin like a funeral march, signaling the death of—something. his hope, maybe. that tiny spark of a wish that one day—one day they would be his and he would be theirs and everything would be beautiful.

the worst part is that he’s happy for them. it hurts—feels like his heart has been ripped out of his chest and stomped on, set on fire, thrown out the window to the street below only to be stomped on again, but—

he loves them both so much, he can’t quite snuff out that little glow of serenity settling into the cracks of his broken heart like glue. they’ll be taken care of. they’ll take care of each other.

and jimin, like he always knew he would, will step aside.

he stumbles back a little, back thumping against the wall behind him. he winces, heart thudding in his chest, tears threatening to spill over. the floorboards creak beneath him shifting weight and he’s being loud, he knows he is, doesn’t mean to be, but everything feels like so much and he just needs to leave

the kissing cuts off, followed by a strangled little noise from jungkook and an emphatic shit from taehyung.

“jiminie?” taehyung calls, clears his throat. “jimin—”

“sorry,” jimin blurts out, mind all jumbled up. “sorry, i didn’t mean to—interrupt—”

he wants to run, but he’s rooted into place. locking himself in his room would immediately blow his cover. leaving the apartment would do the same, as would any variation of what jimin’s mind has currently categorized as safe—away from taehyung and jungkook.

he can’t run. he has to stay. he has to face them.

jimin struggles to steady his breathing as the door flies open. taehyung stands in the frame, eyes wide and a little terrified, like he’s entirely unsure of how jimin is going to react. jungkook hovers behind him, shifting his weight from foot to foot, won’t meet jimin’s eyes. his hands are clutching at the bottom of a sweatshirt—jimin’s sweatshirt, he realizes, the irony weighing heavy in the pit of his stomach. both of their mouths are kiss swollen and spit-slick, taehyung’s eyes tinged red with tears.

for a moment, no one says anything. no one even breathes. and then—

“how much—” taehyung shudders, a full-body shiver that startles jungkook back into his own head. “how much did you hear?”

jimin flounders, scours his scrambled mind for something close to an acceptable answer. anything that doesn’t make him sound like a heartbroken fool, a lovesick idiot. he forces a smile, lets the momentum of the false emotion propel him into something manic, jittery. “congrats!” he blurts out, so loudly that taehyung flinches. “dunno how i didn’t see this coming, holy shit.”

and honestly, now that he’s said it out loud, he realizes it’s true. taehyung and jungkook fit together perfectly. they understand each other. they work. if jimin thinks back, he can pinpoint more than a few times where their glances lingered, their touches and smiles a little too soft.

it makes sense. they make sense.

“i—” jungkook shakes his head, hair falling over his face like a curtain. he looks troubled, a little confused. “you didn’t...hear anything else?”

“if you’re asking if i heard you confess to each other, you sappy fucks, yeah. i did.” jimin forces a laugh. it rumbles his insides around, leaves him feel nauseous and off-center. “sorry to crash your moment. seriously, you just—go back in and forget i tripped and we can pretend i didn’t embarrass myself like this.”

taehyung wrings his hands in the hem of his shirt, eyes wide. “what about dinner? jungkook was just about to—”

“i ate on the way home,” jimin lies. he doesn’t think he could stomach any food right now, anyway.

jungkook frowns. “maybe we should—”

you two should go celebrate this—this new relationship,” jimin says pointedly, waving a general hand between the two of them, “because that’s super exciting and i’m—” he takes a deep breath, and his smile softens into something a little more real. painful, but genuine. “i’m so happy for you guys.”

something in jungkook’s eyes shutters off, like a door has been closed. they’re usually so expressive, so open, but now—now jimin has no idea what jungkook is thinking.

“thanks, jiminie,” taehyung says softly, reaching out behind him. jungkook’s fingers thread through his without a second’s hesitation, and it’s not exactly a surprise. only, this casual affection has a weight behind it now. holding hands is not just holding hands—they’re doing is because they’re boyfriends and they love each other.

the air turns stale between them, awkward and stilted like they’re three strangers trying to make small talk. taehyung looks scared, like he’s been caught doing something he shouldn’t and jungkook—jungkook looks so shut down, a little mournful, pretty lips turned down into the slightest of frowns. jimin’s still wearing his painted-on clown grin, like some fucking sad sideshow who forgot his lines.

“i’m—” jimin cuts himself off, clears his throat. “i had a really long day. think m’gonna, like. shower and go to bed.”

“okay,” taehyung says, still so soft. still so sad. “was it a bad day?”

yes, jimin wants to scream. it was awful and all i want to do is cuddle up between the two of you and fall asleep and maybe cry a little while you pet my hair and jungkook feeds me fancy crackers.

“no,” jimin says, falsified cheer dripping from his voice like melted taffy, “just long. goodnight.”

he turns on his heels and half-jogs to his room. neither of them make any move to stop him.

 

-

 

the second jimin is alone, he breaks. crumples to the floor of his room the moment he shuts the door. he’s crying so hard he can’t see, these big, heaving sobs that wrack his body like an earthquake, shaking his entire world hard enough to crack it right down the middle. over his own crying, over the insistent hitching of his own breath, he can hear taehyung and jungkook moving around in the living room, the kitchen. going about their evening like they haven’t flipped jimin’s worldview on its head. like they haven’t broken his heart.

but that’s not fair. even as worked up as he is, jimin knows he’s not being fair. they would be devastated to know the anguish bubbling in his gut is because of them, however accidental. he thinks about this morning, how quickly they’d put a stop to their roughhousing at the tiniest noise of discomfort from jimin, fussing and checking and then doublechecking that he was alright.

jimin knows with a bone-deep certainty that if he mentioned even the slightest bit of discomfort about the two of them dating, the whole thing would fizzle out like a sparkler doused in rain water. they’d tuck their love for each other into the quietest corners of their heart and try to continue on as normal. just taehyung and jungkook—best friends and nothing more, carrying the devastation that comes from being in love with your very best friend and being able to do jackshit about it.

jimin knows that feeling, lives with it tugging at the delicate strings that hold him together every single day. he can’t do that to them. he won’t do that to them.

he has to be brave, has to be strong. for them.

he can do it. he’ll pull it together, pull himself together.

jimin thinks he could do just about anything if it meant tae and jungkook would get to smile just a little bit longer.

 

-

 

the next morning, the new couple shuffles out of taehyung’s room, wearing matching wide-eyed expressions. jimin smiles tiredly at them over his cereal, hopes to god they believe the puffiness around his eyes is from sleep instead of the all-night cryfest he allowed himself. “morning.”

they step further into the kitchen, looking a little like the twins from the shining. jimin’s not even sure if they’ve blinked yet. slowly, taehyung rounds the corner and settles in the chair beside jimin. he looks a little puffy himself, sleep-soft and radiating warmth. it occurs to jimin that last night was the first time he slept in a bed without one or both of them suffocating him in almost a month.

taehyung reaches up and, very carefully, boops jimin on the tip of his nose.

and just like that, it’s something close to normal.

“morning,” jungkook finally says, collapsing into a chair across from them. he tugs jimin’s bowl of cereal closer and steals the spoon right out of his hand.

“fucker,” jimin mutters, pouting automatically.

taehyung coos, pokes him in the cheek, says, “i’ll get you another bowl. the cute one with the little chickens.”

“that one’s your favorite,” jimin says, “you always use it.”

taehyung pokes him again. “you’re my favorite.”

jimin’s shy smile goes a little stale around the edges. not anymore, he thinks.

 

-

 

to jimin’s utter dismay, life goes on.

he wakes up. goes to work. tries to ignore the crushing loneliness weighing down on his lungs, smothering him slowly and painfully. goes to sleep.

rinse, repeat.

things—aren’t all that different, and somehow that’s worse. if there was a clear Before and After, if the world was upside down and jimin was inside out and everything was cataclysmic, apocalyptic, he would at least be able to force himself into his new role. he’d work to adjust and shift and adapt with his surroundings like some kind of weird, rare species of—of lizard, or something.

but life goes on, and it goes on as normal—so normal that sometimes, jimin is able to forget.

only, forgetting is dangerous. forgetting means remembering over and over and over again, the realization crashing over him like an avalanche every time jungkook smiles at taehyung a little too softly, every time taehyung leans over to peck jungkook on the mouth like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

forgetting means reliving the moment he lost the two loves of his life in one swift go every time he closes his eyes go to sleep, every time he has a moment to himself in the craziness of the hospital. every time he comes home to see them napping on the couch, tangled up in each other like they were created to be extensions of each other.

it’s fine, though. or at least, it will be. jimin will survive.

besides, taehyung and jungkook are happy and that’s—that’s all that really matters, anyway.

 

-

 

a few days later and jimin is rummaging through the cabinets after work for saltine crackers. his stomach feels off, and maybe it’s something he ate but probably—probably it’s everything from the past week crashing down on him at once. he’s exhausted from work and maybe he’s been avoiding taehyung and jungkook like the plague because seeing them is...hard. difficult. gut-wrenching in a way that makes him feel terribly, horribly guilty.

he’ll get over it. he’s trying, but rome wasn’t built in a day and the wall jimin is slowly but surely building around his heart won’t be either. he needs time to—to heal, to come to terms with the fact that the future he’d been hopelessly hoping for will never come to fruition.

it’s fine. he’s fine.

there’s a sudden jingling of keys and then the front door opens, revealing taehyung and jungkook wrapped up in scarves and puffy jackets and little knit hats with pom-poms. there’s a light sprinkle of snow covering their heads and shoulders like fairy dust, cheeks tinged a pretty red. “hi, hyung!” jungkook says, eyes bright. he’s carrying a brown grocery bag, which he hands to taehyung after patiently waiting for the other to hang his jacket up. it’s tae’s turn to use the wonky coat rack.

everything has changed, but their weirdly specific coat rack schedule has stayed right on track.

“hey, guys,” jimin says, smiling tiredly. he can’t tell if he’s actually getting sick or if the feeling in his stomach stems from seeing the two of them. “good day?”

“yes,” jungkook says, flopping dramatically onto the couch. “i got an A on my photography assignment and my professor said i’m quickly progressing to a professional level!” he says the last bit concisely, carefully, like he’s been mulling the words over in order to parrot back the exact compliment his teacher had given him. jimin feels a rush of fondness, a surge of pride.

“that’s amazing. you’re amazing,” jimin says, fighting the urge to run over and jump on top of jungkook. “m’so proud of you.”

jungkook smiles, pleased. “thanks, jimin-hyung,” he says, sounding a little shy. it’s adorable. jimin’s two seconds away from eating his entire fist to keep from screaming.

taehyung makes his way into the kitchen, dropping the bag unceremoniously on the counter. “we picked some stuff up to celebrate. some wine, snacks. figured we could order pizza and have a movie night?” he looks so hopeful it aches.

jimin tries for a smile. “sure,” he says, pretends not to notice the way taehyung’s shoulders sag in relief. “i’ll probably pass on the wine, though.”

“since when have you ever passed on wine?” taehyung asks, and his tone is teasing, but there’s a little concerned little furrow between his brows.

jimin shrugs. "don't feel well."

taehyung's brows pull tighter together in worry. jimin's fingers itch to smooth the crease away, kiss the spot until taehyung is back to his smiley, happy self.

he doesn't. he keeps his hands firmly and safely by his side, and offers a weak smile that he most definitely does not reach his eyes.

taehyung presses a cool palm to his forehead, checking for a temperature. he hums before smoothing the hair back from jimin's face, gaze so warm that jimin feels himself melt a little. "doesn't feel like a fever," taehyung says, nimble fingers scratching lightly at his scalp. "go lay with jungkookie. i'll make you some soup."

jimin sighs even as he leans into the touch. "what about the pizza?”

"we can have it another night. jungkookie won’t mind. right, baby?"

“right!” jungkook calls, throwing a thumbs up over the edge of the couch.

jimin hunches in on himself a little, feeling too big for his body. he didn’t mean to fuck up their whole night. “i’m fine, seriously—”

“didn’t ask,” taehyung says airily, turning jimin around by the shoulders and lightly pushing him in the direction of the couch, where jungkook is flopped out like a starfish. "go. shoo." he swats at jimin's butt, cackling delightedly when jimin yelps and scampers over to jungkook.

"demon," jimin mutters, scowling at taehyung over his shoulder.

"isn't he?" jungkook asks dreamily. "c'mere."

the situation is...less than ideal. jungkook looks so soft and sleepy sprawled across the couch in old sweatpants and one of tae's tee-shirts. he's flat on his back and looking up at jimin expectantly, which would usually be his cue to flop down on jungkook's chest and snuggle in close until strong arms wrapped around him in the safest, coziest hug. now, though, there's an extra level of weird—is he really allowed to just, like...cuddle with his best friend's boyfriend? especially when his best friend's boyfriend also happens to be his best friend and he's head over heels in love with them both?

the decision is made for him when jungkook lets out an affronted little whine, pouting up at jimin with those beautiful baby doe eyes. "c'mere," he repeats insistently, arms spread wide like an invitation.

jimin takes a deep breath and chances a glance over at taehyung. he’s rummaging around their cabinets, tongue poked out in concentration and ass looking fucking phenomenal in his work pants. if he doesn’t have a problem with jimin cuddling his boyfriend then it’s...probably fine? not for jimin’s mental health, of course, but like. in general.

jungkook makes another impatient noise and reaches up to tug at the hem of jimin’s shirt. jimin offers a tense smile and, with one last look in taehyung’s direction, sets a knee between jungkook’s legs. he lowers himself slowly, very careful of his hand placement, until he’s lying stiff as a board against jungkook’s chest.

“hyung,” jungkook murmurs, and jimin can hear the frown in his voice. this is hardly a first for them, but it feels a little like the beginning of the end—like their new normal will be this stilted, awkward thing, with jimin always wondering if the way he interacts with the best people in his life is allowed, is appropriate, isn’t over-stepping. “what’s wrong?”

“i told you,” jimin says, just a hair too quiet. jungkook pulls the blanket off the back of the couch and settles a warm hand against the small of jimin’s back. “m’not feeling well.”

jungkook hums, uses his free hand to maneuver the blanket until it’s covering them both. “you just seem a little tense is all.”

“it was—” jimin clears his throat, listens to taehyung bustling around in the kitchen for a moment before continuing. “it was a long day.”

“wanna talk about it?”

jimin shakes his head, cheek smushed against the solid chest beneath him.

“why didn’t you text us?” jungkook asks quietly, concern dripping from his voice like the warmest water. “we could have had the soup ready, drawn a bath.” he stops fidgeting with the blanket, shifts a little beneath jimin, asks, “do you want a bath? because i can run you a bath.” another pause, this one heavy with worry. “i think tae’s almost out of that bubble bath you like, but i can run to the store.”

and there it is again—that devastating, all-consuming ache running through his veins like poison. jungkook sounds so distressed at the thought of jimin feeling anything less than perfect, is so willing to drop everything and trudge through the snow for fucking bubble bath, just for the slight chance it will make jimin smile.

he knows he doesn’t deserve this, knows it with a certainty that knocks the breath clean out of him. he doesn’t deserve jungkook’s warm comfort, taehyung’s unconditional care. he wants so much more than what they’re willing to give, wants this—to be taken care of, to take care of them in return, but he wants it to mean something more.

jimin swallows thickly, squeezes his eyes shut. listens to taehyung singing softly a few feet away, feels the steady beat of jungkook’s heart through his chest. breathes.

“no, i’m. i’m okay. thank you, jungkook-ah,” he murmurs, trying his hardest to sound a little less like the world is crumbling down around him. “i think i just need to go to sleep.”

it’s supposed to be an out—a cue, one that jungkook is supposed to respond to with something along the lines of sure, hyung, we’ll wake you up when dinner’s ready and then like, let him go. it’s supposed to be jimin’s excuse to get up and run to his room and hide and also maybe (probably) cry all of these shitty feelings out of his system so that his face is only a little puffy when taehyung knocks on his door with soup.

needless to say, that’s—not at all what happens.

“let’s take a nap, then,” jungkook says, free arm wrapping tight around jimin’s waist. the other moves up to rub circles against the tense line of jimin’s upper back, nose nuzzling against his temple. “tae will wake us up when he’s done,” he adds, warm breath rustling jimin’s bangs. it smells like spearmint gum and five-hour energy drinks.

it’s a weird combination, but it’s a scent that jimin associates with jungkook. it’s a scent that he associates with home.

“okay,” jimin sighs, because he’s weak and he’s sad and jungkook is so warm and comfortable beneath him. he lets himself melt a little, cheek smushed against one of jungkook’s broad shoulders. jimin sighs and snuggles a little closer—in for a penny, in for a pound, he guesses. he’s already gone and made it weird. no sense in making it worse.

jimin’s eyelids feel heavy, a mix of gravity and the weight of the world tugging down until they’re fully shut. he feels jungkook breathing beneath him, hears taehyung bustling around in the kitchen—the clatter of pots and pans, the slice of a knife through saran wrap, the bubbling of water boiling. the smell that overtakes the apartment is a familiar one, and it doesn’t take more than a moment for jimin to recognise as taehyung’s grandma’s chicken soup—the one she’d send over with taehyung whenever jimin was feeling poorly. it’s the only thing tae can make that doesn’t end up burnt or undercooked; he knows the recipe by heart, and it’s his go-to when jimin or jungkook aren’t feeling their best.

there’s a heavy, solid palm weighing down on the dip of jimin’s back, fingertips pressing lightly against all the sore spots leftover from hours on his feet. jungkook hums and shifts, scratches lightly up jimin’s spine with his other hand. it’s soothing and careful and jimin feels himself sinking forward into jungkook and deeper into sleep. he feels calm and warm and something close to happy.

it’s almost enough.

 

-

 

“should we move him to his room? i can carry him.”

“i really think he should eat something before he goes to bed for the night—”

there’s a hand brushing through jimin’s hair, soft and scratching lightly at all the right places. jimin sighs, burrows closer to the solid form in front of him. thinking feels a little like trudging through thick molasses, and it’s a fight to stay even half-awake when sleep is tugging so insistently at the fuzzy edges of his mind. he’s warm and comfortable, and he vaguely registers that he’s been moved to his side, head tucked carefully under jungkook’s chin.

“jimin-ah?” taehyung sings softly, and yes, those are definitely his long fingers carding through the tangled strands of jimin’s hair. “jimin, my love. are you awake?”

jimin’s stomach flips at the sound of taehyung’s honeyed voice murmuring my love like the sweetest, softest prayer. he latches onto that little piece of happiness, tucks it close to his heart. “mhmp,” he mumbles, voice muffled in the soft, worn fabric of jungkook’s—taehyung’s—t-shirt.

“hey, sleepy boy,” jungkook says, holds jimin close to his chest. “d’you think you can eat before you fall back asleep? taehyungie-hyung is going to heat up some soup for you.”

even jimin’s sleep-addled brain recognizes the fact that the need to reheat the soup means he’s been knocked out for a while. he blinks his eyes open, lets them adjust to the darkness of the living room. “time’s it?” he asks, and it comes out a little slurred because his tongue feels almost as fuzzy and heavy as his brain.

taehyung’s fingers trail from jimin’s hair to his face, thumb smoothing a careful line down jimin’s cheekbone. he shifts closer, lets his head fall against jimin’s arm. “a little after nine. you passed out hard. how are you feeling?”

overwhelmed is what jimin wants to say, but can’t. they’re both so close, touching him so gently, voices dripping with a concern as sweet as melted brown sugar. “better,” he whispers instead, pulling away just enough to glance up at jungkook.

this turns out to be a horrible idea, because jungkook’s looking at him with sparkling stardust in his eyes. he reaches down to adjust the blanket that’s fallen off of jimin’s shoulder, even though he’s stolen the whole thing and left jungkook completely uncovered. jungkook doesn’t seem to mind, just keeps staring at jimin with his moonbeam gaze, lighting him up from the inside out.

jimin swallows, tries to squash the panic that crashes over him like a wave. he pushes himself up into a half-sitting position, taehyung’s hand on his waist to steady him. “think you could eat a little?” taehyung asks, offering a hand.

“yeah. yes, please.”

taehyung reheats the soup and then tries to spoon-feed him, which of course turns jimin the color of a freshly ripe tomato. the three of them sit huddled on the couch, watching reruns of family feud, jungkook yelling the most ridiculous answers and dancing along to the theme song. taehyung plays with jimin’s hair, lets jimin snuggle up under his arm while jungkook washes his bowl and spoon for him.

jimin ends the night feeling precious, cared for, loved beyond words—

and knowing in his heart that it’s not enough.

 

-

 

jimin blinks awake, the sun streaming in through half-closed blinds. he fell asleep sandwiched between taehyung and jungkook, just like old times—three weeks ago—and now he’s alone.

the irony of this does not escape him.

he sits up, rubs a hand down his face. he genuinely does feel better, a little more settled, like maybe things will turn out okay no matter how dire they currently seem. it’s not like jimin’s lost them—they’re still here, they’re just. happier. together.

jimin pads down the hallway, rolling his shoulders as he goes. he doesn’t have work today, which is a beautiful reprieve—another shift in a row might well have just killed him, and then taehyung and jungkook would have to use their meager savings to throw him a funeral and that’s just a horrible way to start their lives together. he yawns, stretches, rolls his neck until it cracks, a sickening pop that echoes through the room like a gunshot.

“gross, jimin,” taehyung laughs, voice carrying loftily through the living room like a breeze.

jimin turns, poised and ready with a comeback that immediately dissipates like smoke when he takes in the sight before him. taehyung is lying on the couch, stretched out like a cat and wearing these obscenely tiny satin shorts. his legs are on full display, pretty stretchmarks mapped out across thick thighs, leading up up up towards paradise. his t-shirt is riding up, showcasing his perfect tummy which pouches over the waistband of those sinful shorts. sleep-mussed curls frame his face, spill over chubby cheeks like a river of chocolate.

jimin loves him.

god, does he love him.

“jungkookie left for class,” taehyung says, looking up at jimin with that cotton candy sweet smile, “so it’s just you and me for breakfast. we could go to that bakery around the corner?” it’s posed like a question, a nervous undercurrent thrumming through his words. “it’s been a while since we’ve hung out, just the two of us. i miss my soulmate.”

jimin feels his heart throb inside his fragile ribcage. “sure,” he says, helpless to deny taehyung anything. “we can split an order of those strawberry-cheese danishes.”

taehyung lights up, glowing warm and pretty from the inside out. “let me go get dressed,” he says, sounding relieved. jimin hates himself for pulling away. hates himself even more, knowing that he’s not going to stop. doesn’t know how to.

they split the danishes. taehyung talks about the salon, how business has been picking up. regular clients, he says, eyes shining, people who want me to do their hair. can you believe it?

“yes,” jimin answers immediately, honesty dripping from his voice like honey, “you’re amazing, tae.”

taehyung flushes, hides his smile behind a bite of strawberry-cheese filling. jimin buys a powdered donut with jelly filling for jungkook to eat when he gets back to their apartment, because jungkook almost never goes to his own dorm. not when there are two cozy beds—just one now, just taehyung’s—to crash in.

when they get home, taehyung pulls jimin into a tight hug. “thank you for hanging out with me.”

jimin hugs him back just as tight, sags a little into his best friend’s embrace. “don’t be dumb,” he says, going for casual and missing the mark a little. “you don’t have to thank me for that.”

taehyung pulls away, presses their foreheads together for a just a moment. jimin’s eyes slip shut. “you know i love you, right?” taehyung asks, voice going a little wobbly. “me and jungkookie both. you know we love you.”

jimin swallows thickly. “course i do. i love you too.”

more than you could ever know.

 

-

 

the start of the work week finds jimin drowning. he feels jumpy, like a stranger in his own skin, uncomfortable and itchy and skin-crawly. his previous optimism was short-lived, sucked out of him by the sight of taehyung looking like a dream in the early morning light, the vision of jungkook looking gorgeous and glowing in the sunset streaming through the passenger seat window. the knowledge that he’ll always love them sitting heavy in his gut like a stone at the bottom of the sea—cursed to watch the light shift over the water, but never getting the chance to feel the warmth of it for himself.

jimin sits on the couch and leans back with a huff, toeing for his sneaker under the coffee table. he ends up sliding halfway off the cushions before he manages to reach it, letting himself fall to the floor with a sad little thud. he doesn’t even have to be at work for another two hours but it’s getting increasingly harder to see taehyung in the morning, looking soft and sleepy and so terribly kissable, pouting around the rim of a tea cup and drowning in one of jungkook’s stolen sweatshirts.

it’s different now, of course—jimin has accumulated his fair share of hoodies and tee-shirts and sweatpants from both jungkook and tae, but those pieces of clothing, those little pieces of each other

jimin doesn’t have a place in that equation anymore. three’s a crowd, or what the fuck ever.

the tears spring up and take him by surprise before he can stop them, which only serves to frustrate him more. jimin angrily shoves his foot into the shoe, digs the heels of his palms into his eyes and releases a shuddery breath. get it together. get it the fuck together—

it’s a shit pep talk, and it doesn’t work. jimin starts to cry harder, shoulder shaking and chest heaving under his mickey mouse scrubs. he stands up and wipes angrily at his eyes, tries to calm the dissonant thumping of his heart. his movements are stilted, jerky as he stumbles towards the kitchen, reaching blindly for his backpack. he has to get out of the apartment, has to leave before—

down the hall, he hears taehyung’s bedroom door creak open. fuck.

jimin shoves his water bottle in his bag and shoulders it quickly, stumbling over himself because his shoe still isn’t all the way on. he trips on one of his untied laces and his things go scattering to the floor, water bottle bursting the second it hits the ground. this, of course, only serves to make jimin cry harder—big, heaving sobs that rock his entire body, little hiccups and raspy coughs echoing off the kitchen walls like the saddest of songs.

a pause, before fast footsteps pound their way into the kitchen. “hyung,” jungkook murmurs, voice soft with sleep, “jimin, what’s wrong?”

jimin finds himself pulled against a solid, familiar chest, long fingers brushing through his hair. he clings to jungkook, his best friend, his constant. he just wants to be held, doesn’t even care that the person holding him is one-half of the reason he’s crying in the first place.

“jimin,” jungkook whispers, lips pressed to jimin’s temple, “hyung. talk to me.”

“i’m okay,” jimin cries, sounding extremely Not Okay. “seriously, i’m fine. i’m sorry—”

jungkook squeezes him once, arms wrapped tight around jimin’s waist. “no, hey. don’t apologize. what’s wrong? why are you up so early?”

to avoid you, jimin thinks miserably, though of course he can’t say that, so he buries his face into jungkook’s shoulder and says nothing at all.

“taehyung’s still asleep,” jungkook continues, when jimin fails to fill the silence. “do you wanna go cuddle for a little? you don’t have to be at the hospital for another two hours, right? let’s go calm down for a little. tae will want to see you before you leave.”

it sounds amazing. curling up between them, his head pillowed on taehyung’s chest, jungkook curled up behind him, arm over jimin’s waist like an anchor to keep him from drifting off. he wants to sleep, drift off for another hour enveloped in their warm, comforting scents—

but he can’t. he knows he can’t.

jimin pulls away, shakes his head. wipes at his eyes with the sleeve of his hoodie. “no, i—” he sniffles, averts his eyes. lies through his teeth. “i picked up an earlier shift. i have to go in now.”

jungkook’s gaze pins him to his spot. “let me drive you in.”

jimin shakes his head before jungkook can even finish his sentence. “no,” he says, “no, it’s. i’m fine.”

“hyung—”

“i have to go,” jimin cuts him off, offers a tense smile. “i’ll see you later, okay? i’m fine. promise.”

jungkook doesn’t look like he believes him, which. fair. jimin opens his mouth to cut off whatever he’s about to say next, but stops short when tae appears just over jungkook’s shoulder.

“hey,” he says, sleepy and a little confused. he’s wrapped up in his fluffiest robe, arms crossed over his chest as he pouts. “jimin? have you been crying, baby?”

“nope,” jimin chirps, which is a bold-faced lie. jungkook stares at him, betrayed. “gotta go. i’ll be home for dinner.”

he turns around and jogs out the door before either of them can make a move to step him, or even get a word in edgewise. jimin scoops up his sopping wet backpack on the way out, wincing as it squelches against his back. he sighs, wipes a hand down his face. tries and fails to will away a fresh wave of tears.

jimin takes the subway to work, squished between two burly men who smell like salami. nobody comments on his red, tear-tracked cheeks because nobody cares. when he finally makes it to the nurse’s station in the nicu, jennie snaps her gum at him, looks him up and down.

“you look like shit,” she says.

jimin shrugs. “feel like shit.”

after a moment of scrutinization, jennie nods. “that’s a fat mood. here,” she adds, handing him the remainder of her coffee. “you need it more than i do.”

jimin suddenly regrets every bad thing he’s ever said about her. “you’re an angel.”

she rolls her eyes. “don’t make it weird.”

 

-

 

jimin fumbles with his keys, nearly drops them onto the doormat that reads cum inside in cheerful english cursive. he’s exhausted—but when is he not, honestly. he just wants to curl up in his bed and sleep until he’s forced to face another day, maybe change out of his throw-up scented scrubs if he can find the energy.

he kicks his shoes off in the doorway, not caring where they land. “guys, are you—shit!

taehyung and jungkook are on the couch, half-naked and grinding against each other like the world is about to end. taehyung’s sat pretty in jungkook’s lap with one of the younger’s hands down his pants, his lips attached to the delicate curve of jungkook’s neck. at the sound of jimin’s voice, they jump apart, jungkook pulling his hand away like he’s been burned, fingers shiny and slick with—oh my god, that’s taehyung’s pre-cum. oh god. oh fuck.

jimin slaps a hand over his eyes and whirls around, faces the wall. “i’m sorry, oh my god—”

“you weren’t supposed to be home until—”

“i got off early,” jimin whines, positively fucking mortified and a little—a lot—turned on. “i think my eyes are burning out of their sockets.” he plays up the disgust because he’s afraid if he doesn’t they’ll know and the very last thing he needs is them zeroing in on the fact that he’s chubbing up in his baby pink scrub pants.

taehyung makes an offended little noise in the back of his throat. “hey! we’re cute!”

“that’s not the point!” jimin yells, frantic and beyond flustered.

a pause.

“so you think we’re cute?” jungkook asks, a teasing lilt to his voice.

“fuck you,” jimin groans, eyes squeezed shut. he gropes blindly for the wall—wishes he was groping them instead—and tries to make his way down the hall to his bedroom, where it’s safe. as soon as he shuts the door, he flicks the lock and shoves his pants down, grips himself tightly, thinks—

he’s not going to survive this.

 

-

 

it’s the saddest, most depressing jerk-off he’s ever had. he comes, disappointed and unsatisfied and oddly empty. he wipes his hand off with a wad of tissues from his bedside table, curls into his side, and starts to cry.

god, he feels so pathetic. so hollow. he wonders, not for the first time, if this will ever get easier. better.

he hears taehyung giggle down the hall, curls up tighter, thinks, probably not.

 

-

 

the days pass. things get simultaneously easier and more difficult—he becomes a little more accustomed to this new normal, but it hardens him. fossilizes him from the inside out. seeing them kiss and touch and laugh into each others mouth, whisper secrets and love declarations into nibbled ears—it doesn’t hurt him the way it used to.

the problem is, nothing hurts him the way it used to. he’s numb to the pain, but he’s also numb to the little moments of happiness, the giddy feeling he used to get when one of them would walk into a room, touch his hair, kiss his cheek.

jimin is pulling away. he knows it. they know it. it’s the giant elephant in the corner of the room taking up space, growing more expansive each day.

he just—doesn’t know how to stop. how to fix this.

doesn’t know if it can be fixed.

jimin’s lying on the couch reading when tae throws a hoodie at him. it’s one that’s been passed between them for so long they’re not entirely sure whose it was originally (jimin swears up and down it’s his, though even he’s not one-hundred percent sure when it comes down to it). “i’m picking jungkookie up from class,” he says, shrugging on an oversized jean jacket. “come with me?”

jimin smiles tightly over his book. “it’s okay. wouldn’t want to intrude.”

taehyung frowns, pauses midway through toeing on his shoe. “you wouldn’t be,” he says, like even the thought is the most ridiculous thing in the world. jimin appreciates the sentiment, but he’s also tired of kidding himself. things have changed, whether he wants them to or not—and god, he’d give just about anything for the dynamic of their friendship to stay at least kind of the same. the three of them against the world, instead of taehyung and jungkook with jimin off to the side, unnecessary and likely unwanted. “you always come with me to pick up jungkookie.”

he looks so genuinely confused, pretty lips falling open into the tiniest of pouts, and jimin’s heart aches.

“that’s sort of the problem, isn’t it?” jimin asks gently. his stomach is doing somersaults, anxiety bubbling up and spilling over, because this isn’t the sort of conversation he ever thought he’d be having with his best friend since middle school. “it’s just—i’m always with you guys.”

taehyung stares at him. “yeah,” he agrees, like he can’t quite wrap his head around what jimin’s getting at and that’s just—all sorts of frustrating because holy shit, is jimin really going to have to say it? out loud?

“tae,” jimin starts, stops. clutches the sweatshirt to his chest because it smells like taehyung. “you and jungkookie are dating, and i’m with you guys all the time. you don’t—you don’t even really just. spend time as a couple? go on dates?” he shrugs, feeling a little helpless and so impossibly small. “i’m always third wheeling.”

the reaction he’s expecting is something along the lines of—a realization? some sort of epiphany? that maybe taehyung would nod and hm in that deep, inquisitive way of his, mull it over a little bit, come to the conclusion that yeah, jiminie. you’re right. it is a little weird to try and keep everything exactly the same when your world has been single handedly flipped upside in all the worst ways.

needless to say, what he expects is not the reaction he gets. taehyung is so many wonderful things, but predictable has never been one of them.

within seconds, jimin finds himself with a lap-full of his best friend, long fingers cupping at jimin’s cheeks, concerned eyes glimmering with a deep, genuine sort of sorrow. “jimin-ah,” he says, voice low and regretful and sad, “have we made you feel like a third wheel?”

jimin would laugh if this whole situation wasn’t so fucking pathetic. “no,” he chokes out something halfway close to a snort, incredulous. what the actual fuck is happening right now? “no, tae, that’s the problem.

something—his expression, maybe, the shift in his tone—causes taehyung to flinch away, to slide off of jimin’s lap and settle a little farther back, clutching at a throw pillow like a lifeline. “do you—” taehyung swallows thickly, looking a little like he doesn’t know how to talk to jimin right now, which is just. absolutely fucking devastating in its own right. “do you not like that jungkook and i are dating?”

his tone, his posture, his hesitance—all of it implies that taehyung already knows the answer, that he’s dreading hearing it out loud but needs to. the final, deadly crack in their splintering foundation.

the problem is—he’s wrong. he’s so hilariously, disastrously wrong.

jimin can’t think of anyone more deserving of tae than jungkook, anyone more deserving of jungkook than tae. they—they complete each other in all of the best ways, fill in each others’ cracks with pure, molten gold. where jungkook is shy, quieter, taehyung is bold and fearless. where taehyung tends to close off, hide his emotions and tuck them away for safekeeping, jungkook is an open book with a truly impressive way of getting you to spill your deepest secrets before you can properly realize what’s happening. they’re so good together, clicking into place like the strongest of magnets, and jimin is just—he’s so fucking happy that his best friends have found such a deep, unconditional love in each other.

he just. wishes that maybe there was a little space carved out for him as well.

“no, that’s not—” jimin clenches his fists in his lap, wills himself not to cry for the thousandth time this month. “that’s not what i’m trying to say—”

again, taehyung switches gears, and again—he’s wrong.

“jimin, baby,” taehyung murmurs, and that’s the nail in the coffin, isn’t it? that sweet, low voice dripping like honey, sighing through pet names that don’t mean anything close to what jimin wishes they did. “you know how much we love you, right? you’re so important to us—”

later, when jimin looks back on this moment, he’ll understand exactly what broke him. the separation of you and us, the clear distinction of other—the horrible, gut-wrenching pain that erupts with the realization that he no longer has a place in their we anymore.

later, he’ll regret everything, curled up in a ball under a mountain of blankets, alone and sobbing into a pillow that still smells a little like jungkook from the morning before when he’d woken jimin up with an impromptu pillow fight. he’ll wish he never opened his big, stupid mouth, made taehyung feel so small and sad when he was only trying to—god, when he was only trying to make jimin feel better.

later, the loneliness will sink in, along with the realization that he willingly isolated himself from the two most important people in his life because he was selfish, because he wanted more than they were willing to give, because he wasn’t smart enough to realize that a little bit of their heart was still better than none at all.

now, though—now, jimin snaps like a twig beneath a firm step. something ugly rises in his chest, feeling cornered and pinned beneath taehyung’s knowing gaze, clawing its way out through a raw and bloodied open wound.

“don’t patronize me,” he hisses, standing abruptly. “i’m an adult, okay? i can handle my friends dating each other. you don’t have to baby me or whatever it is you’re trying to do. include me, make me feel like less of an outsider. you don’t need to fucking do that, okay?”

taehyung’s mouth falls open, brows knitting together. he’s hurt, jimin can tell, but he shuts it down as quickly as it comes, schools his face into something neutral. cold. they’re quick to rise to each other’s bait, always have been, which is why jungkook fit into their dynamic so seemlessly—sweet, soothing jungkook, who makes them talk about their stupid feelings and hug it out before silly disagreements turn into knock-down drag-out fights.

but jungkook’s not here right now. he’s in class, and jimin feels trapped, and taehyung is feeding off of that negative energy, spitting it right back into jimin’s face like acid.

“i’m not trying to do anything except be a good friend,” taehyung snaps, throwing the pillow to the ground. “what the fuck is your problem?”

“my problem is that you seem to think i’m some sort of—some sort of fucking charity case.”

taehyung’s face hardens. it’s not something a face like that should be able to do—taehyung is all soft curves, gentle slopes. he is made for smiles and laughter and light. jimin hates himself for being the reason taehyung’s features darken, his eyes go flat, his expression sharpens.

taehyung stands up, and the movement is abrupt—stiff. jimin flinches but doesn’t back down because it’s too late for that. he’s made his bed. time to lie down and die in it.

“if that’s what you think i’m doing—if that’s what you think of me, of jungkook—“ taehyung shakes his head. “then i have nothing to say to you. fuck you.”

he turns on his heels, slams the door on the way out. the picture frames and paint splattered canvases rattle on the walls, precariously close to dislodging. the one that shakes the hardest, the one that almost falls, cracks, shatters—

it’s a picture of the three of them at a bar, taken by yoongi a year or so ago. they’re puppy-piling, legs over laps and arms around shoulders. taehyung and jungkook flanking jimin, one on either side, dwarfing him in size but still squishing themselves under his arms, into his side. they’re all beaming, full-fledged eye-crinkle smiles lighting them up from the inside out.

they look settled and comfortable, molding into each other like clay figurines. where one person ends, the other starts.

they look happy.

they were happy.

jimin waits. he waits to hear the tell-tale scuffle of jungkook’s gigantic shoes thunking down the hall, the jingling of tae’s bracelets and earrings. it doesn’t come. after an hour of trying and failing to read his stupid book, he realizes that jungkook’s class didn’t run late. they’re not stuck in traffic, or stopping for food.

they’re just. not coming home.

it shouldn’t hurt as much as it does. jungkook has a dorm that he does (very occasionally) sleep at. after the fight taehyung and jimin had, it makes sense that they’d go there instead, maybe even stay over night. it’s probably to give jimin the space he needs to calm down—and the time taehyung needs to stop himself from coming straight home and metaphorically bashing jimin’s head in.

it’s probably for the best. they’re hurt, fractured and a little bruised. the cavern between them needs to close. but it’s still just another line in the sand, another glaring distinction between him and them. jungkook will always take taehyung’s side, because taehyung’s his boyfriend. it’s basically law.

jimin understands, but the knowledge still rips at the precariously stitched-together break down the center of his heart.

he throws the book onto the coffee table, where it lands with a thud. “fuck it,” he mutters, and heads to the kitchen. he throws open the fridge and digs around until he finds the unopened bottle of pink moscato they’ve been saving for the next time one of them had a bad day—except every day has been a bad day lately, so jimin has a lot of drinking to make up for.

he curls up in a soft blanket that smells like taehyung, not even bothering to get a wine glass. he drinks straight from the bottle, pulls up netflix. puts on the saddest, sappiest movie he can find and cries his eyes out until it gets dark, until the bottle is halfway empty and jimin is feeling a little dizzy, lightheaded from the wine and the overwhelming emotions flowing through him like the blood in his veins.

jimin polishes the bottle off in record time, stumbling off of the couch to pee. he trips over the blanket when it falls off of his shoulders and pools at his feet, curses under his breath at its audacity. jungkook and tae still aren’t home, still not with him and he hates them. he loves them so much that he hates them for leaving him alone like this, sad and lonely and so fucking pathetic. drunk on a wednesday night, knees knocking into side tables and vision swimming.

most of all—most importantly—he hates himself for being utterly unable to cope.

jimin wipes a hand down his face, stomach lurching. the movie is too loud—there’s a woman crying, a man yelling, dramatic music swelling at the climax. it drives straight through his head like a pickaxe, the meager contents of his stomach rolling. he’s going to throw up, can feel the saliva pooling in his mouth, a metallic tang settling around his gums, down his throat.

he makes it to the bathroom, to the toilet just in time, and that’s where jungkook finds him twenty minutes later.

the front door creaks open, keys jingling down the hall. jimin groans, head pillowed pitifully against the hard porcelain of the toilet seat. they’re laughing, talking, and jimin can hear the sound of styrofoam boxes crunching against the counter.

so they went on a date. in his mind’s eye, jimin sees a flash of himself spitting you don’t even spend time as a couple. i’m always there.

he huffs out a sad little laugh. it echoes through the toilet bowl. taehyung certainly does enjoy making a point.

the footsteps get closer, and jimin hears taehyung’s bedroom door open. the clunking of jungkook’s massive shoes doesn’t disappear into padded carpet-steps—it continues down the hall, down towards jimin’s room. “hyung?” he calls, and jimin flinches. “are you awake? we bought you back some japchae.”

jimin’s stomach lurches again, both at the mention of food and the thought of taehyung and jungkook specifically ordering said food to bring home for him while out on their date, even after everything. god, he doesn’t fucking deserve them. nobody does, they’re too good and lovely and kind, but jimin in particular really does not deserve them. he dry-heaves into the toilet, because there’s nothing left in his stomach to throw up. the retching noise shoots through the room like an explosion, jimin’s face burning with shame.

the clunky footsteps quicken until they’re inside the bathroom, until jimin can smell jungkook’s cologne, feel his light touch against jimin’s curved spine. “hyung,” jungkook murmurs, crouching down beside jimin. a cool hand is pressed to jimin’s forehead and he leans into the touch as if pulled by gravity. “are you okay? what happened?” he pauses, frowns, probably smells the scent of wine rolling off of jimin in sickly-sweet waves. “have you been drinking?”

“a little,” jimin whispers, voice impossibly small. “i’m sorry.”

“hey, no, you’re okay,” jungkook says, so gently it hurts. he plops onto his butt beside jimin, scooching closer in order to smooth jimin’s hair off of his face. “we’ll get you into bed and i’ll get you some water, okay?”

jimin shakes his head, even as the motion sends a fresh wave of nausea through him. “tae—”

“—is fine,” jungkook smiles softly, “we’ll talk about what happened tomorrow. can you stand up?”

jimin shakes his head, lips falling into an automatic pout. jungkook laughs quietly, fondly, ducking his head a little. he maneuvers jimin to his feet and dutifully holds up the vast majority of his weight, lets jimin stick to him like a baby leach.

“m’sorry,” jimin mumbles again, face pressed to jungkook’s shoulder. “didn’t mean it, m’sorry. love tae. love you.”

jungkook doesn’t say anything for a moment. when he finally speaks, his voice is strained. “i know. we love you, too.” jimin shakes his head, nose knocking against jungkook’s collarbone. “hyung, we do. you have to know that.”

jimin stumbles, and jungkook steadies him, hand firm and warm against the small of his back. “don’t wanna talk about it,” jimin slurs, feels the younger boy’s palm burn through his shirt like a hot iron. “just wanna sleep.”

“okay,” jungkook soothes, though he sounds a little hurt, a little off-kilter. “why don’t you come sleep in with me and tae so we can keep an eye on you? get you some water, make sure you’re okay?”

jimin finds himself shaking his head before jungkook even finishes speaking. “can’t,” he says, fingers gripping tightly in jungkook’s shirt. a wave of panic crashes over him, breath hitching, eyes pricking with fresh tears. the world is fuzzy, hazy, and he can’t remember literally half of what he just said but he is one-hundred percent sure about this. “can’t, jungkookie. tae is mad at me.”

jungkook slides an arm around jimin’s shoulders, a comforting weight. “you two need to talk,” he says carefully, pulling jimin a little more tightly against him, “but he’s worried about you, and he’s scared that you’re mad at him.”

“no,” jimin says, almost too quickly, “no, no. m’not mad at taehyungie. miss him already. m’sorry. so sorry.”

he sniffles, presses his nose against the sunflower tattoo curling up jungkook’s neck. jungkook pulls him into a full, tight hug, rocks the both of them back and forth until jimin’s heart stops pounding fast. they crab-walk sideway through taehyung’s bedroom door, pressing close together in order to fit. taehyung is there in a second, brushing gentle fingers through jimin’s hair, his free arm wrapping around the both of them.

jimin is passed from jungkook to taehyung like a little kid. they kiss once over his head, whisper something tinged with worry, and—it should feel weird, like he’s intruding, but instead it just feels...nice. safe. like for the first time in almost a month, he’s back where he belongs—smack in the middle of taehyung and jungkook, soaking up the love and warmth flowing between them like a tangible force of nature. he latches onto taehyung a little tighter, arms locking around his waist, face pressed into the soft silk of his pajamas. jungkook disappears down the hall with the promise water.

“hey, jimin-ah,” taehyung whispers, rubbing a gentle hand up and down his back. “let's lie down.”

“kay,” jimin says. he lets himself be tugged towards taehyung’s blanket-covered nest of a bed. there’s so much he wants to say, but he doesn’t get the chance.

he falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, to the ghost of careful, hesitant fingers tracing reverent lines down tear-tracked cheeks.

 

-

 

when jimin wakes up, the room is too bright. someone has drawn the curtains back. he keeps his eyes shut, focuses on the sensation of soft, nimble fingers carding carefully through his hair. he burrows closer to the warm body beside him, the smell of vanilla and lavender calming his sensitive whirlpool of a stomach.

all at once, he realizes exactly who he’s snuggling up to.

jimin tenses, and the fingers in his hair freeze. there’s a heavy pause and jimin holds his breath, feeling nauseous for an entirely new reason. “tae?” he asks, voice raspy and a little wobbly.

the fingers resume their movement, this time with a few soft scratches to jimin’s scalp that leave him absolutely boneless. “morning,” taehyung murmurs, before pressing a quiet kiss to jimin’s forehead so gentle it rips something open inside of him.

jimin starts to cry in earnest, overwhelmed and exhausted and feeling a little bit like a piece of dogshit that someone stepped in and tracked through the house. taehyung instantly pulls him closer, holds jimin tight against his chest and rubs at his back, nose nuzzling the crown of jimin’s head.

“m’sorry,” jimin sniffles, gasping around a gross snot bubble. he twists his fingers in taehyung’s sleepshirt, breath coming out stuttery and uneven. “tae, m’sorry, i didn’t mean what i said—”

taehyung shushes him, shakes his head. “it’s okay, jiminie. you’re okay. i know. i’m sorry, too. i shouldn’t have snapped at you like that. i should have let you explain and just—just shut up for a second. listened.” he’s crying, too. jimin can hear it in his voice, can feel tears falling into his hair like morning dewdrops. “you’re okay. we’re okay.”

“are we?” jimin asks, hating the way his voice sounds so small.

“of course we are,” taehyung says, without a single second’s hesitation. “we always will be. it’s us.”

the door creaks open and jungkook pokes his head in, smiling at the sight of the two of them curled up together like little kids. he’s got a glass of water in one hand and a bottle of advil in the other, holding them out like a peace offering. jimin reaches for him instinctively, and jungkook responds with a brilliant, eye-crinkling smile.

he sits down on the edge of the bed, tossing the pill bottle onto the comforter. “how’re you feeling?”

“awful,” jimin sighs, eyes falling shut at the feeling of jungkook’s thumb rubbing comforting circles against his hip. “i’m an idiot.”

“yeah,” taehyung agrees easily, blowing a cute raspberry against jimin’s cheek. “silly boy. but we love you anyway.”

there’s something in taehyung’s tone when he says we love you, something in the way jungkook is looking at the two of them wrapped up in each other—a fondness so genuine it smashes clean through the last of jimin’s resolve. he starts to cry, shaking like a leaf in taehyung’s arms.

taehyung and jungkook immediately shift into panic mode. “hey, no, i’m sorry,” taehyung says, voice as wobbly as jimin feels. “what did i say? i’m sorry. please don’t cry, baby.”

the use of baby ends up having the opposite of its intended effect—jimin hiccups, burrows closer, cries harder. jungkook’s big hands feel solid in his hair, against his shoulder, brushing down his side, and taehyung holds him impossibly tighter. finally, he hears jungkook murmur fuck it, hears him set the glass of water down on the bedside table. the bed dips further as he crawls closer, depositing himself flush against jimin’s back, one arm thrown over jimin’s waist far enough that his hand settles in the dip of taehyung’s hip.

he presses his forehead against the nape of jimin’s neck and breathes. “you’re okay, hyung. we’re here. please—” his voice cracks a little. “just...tell us what’s wrong. help us fix this. we—we miss you. you’re here but you’re—you’re so far away. come back to us.”

“i’m trying,” jimin gasps, eyes squeezed shut. they smell like vanilla and apples, an intoxicating mix of sweetness that settles the violent rolling of jimin’s stomach. “i’m trying to get over it, i’m sorry, i’ll—i’ll try harder. i promise.”

taehyung shifts, and jimin can almost hear him frowning. “get over what?”

jimin shudders, breath hitching. his chest hurts, aches from crying, from the love filling him up and spilling out through the spaces in his ribcage. maybe if he just—if he just says it, if its out in the open, it will be easier to move on. if he can get that clear rejection, a firm we love you but not like that

maybe he’ll be able to move on.

it’ll be awkward for a little while, sure, but he knows with a bone-deep certainty that they would never cast him aside over this. they’d help him work through it, set the boundaries necessary to get back to some semblance of normal.

“i—” jimin cuts himself off, takes a deep breath. jungkook nuzzles his shoulder encouragingly. he can’t look up, can’t meet taehyung’s questioning gaze. more tears start to fall but he pushes on, afraid that if he doesn’t get it out now he never will. “i’m in love with the both of you.” jimin cuts himself off with another choked sob, hand pressed to his mouth like he can hold everything inside of him by sheer force of will. “i’m sorry. i’m so fucking sorry—”

he waits for the inevitable tension to rise up around them like the thickest of smoke, stifling and choking until they’re forced to forge out some distance. jungkook will stiffen and taehyung will recoil and their reactions will finally, finally, force him to make the distinction between him and them, to recognize that he is once and for all no longer included in their “we.

jungkook will stay quiet and let tae take the lead, and taehyung will look so sad but he’ll do it, rip the bandage off as swiftly as possible. his characteristic bluntness will cut deep and quick like a hot knife slicing through butter—but he won’t let jimin wait and wonder and stew in his embarrassment. he’s far too kind for that.

jimin knows it will genuinely hurt taehyung to tell jimin that no, sorry, we don’t see you like that—but he’ll do it because he has to, and because while jungkook may be great at preventing conflict, he’s horrible at dealing with it when he’s directly involved and the ship has already sailed.

the feeling of jungkook’s warm hand carefully sliding off of jimin’s hip will be more than enough to get his point across.

jimin waits for it, and, for the thousandth time this month—

jimin is wrong.

there’s a sharp intake of breath from taehyung and jimin steels himself, eyes squeezed shut, determined to soak up the last of their warmth and tuck it away in a safe place before he loses it. and then, inexplicably, jungkook starts to cry, pressing closer and closer until he’s plastered against jimin’s back even more firmly than before. taehyung brings a shaky hand up to jimin’s cheek, uses his thumb to wipe at the swollen space beneath jimin’s eye.

“do you mean it? both of us?” taehyung asks, and god, he sounds wrecked, like pulling the words out of his chest physically hurts him.

jimin feels frozen all over, can only nod, eyes barely lifting to meet taehyung’s. he watches in a sort of horrified confusion as taehyung’s face crumples, tears welling up and spilling over. behind him, jungkook shifts again, forehead pressing into jimin’s shoulder like he’s trying to fuse them together. jimin reaches back instinctively for his hand, offering as much comfort as his hangover-addled brain can currently handle. jungkook slots their fingers together, uses this newfound leverage to tug jimin impossibly closer, their hands resting tight against jimin’s chest as he’s hugged within an inch of his life.

“what—” jimin rasps, blinking rapidly. if someone doesn’t explain within the next two seconds he thinks he might actually combust.

taehyung laughs suddenly, a bright and happy thing that nearly scares jimin out of his skin. “you love us,” he whispers, sounding awed, like this new piece of information is a sacred treasure instead of something that will inevitably tear them to pieces. “you love us like we love you.

jimin’s stomach rolls, and he feels himself shaking his head before he can even fully process what’s being said. “don’t—” he sniffles, hiccups. feels jungkook squeeze his hand. “if you don’t mean it, if you don’t really—”

taehyung moves closer, presses his forehead against jimin’s. “i love you, too. we both do. jungkookie—”

“love you so much,” jungkook gasps, the words nearly unintelligible from how hard he’s suddenly crying. “love you, hyung. jimin—”

and jimin is so overwhelmed, brain racing a mile a minute, but the most pressing thought in the forefront of his mind is thatjungkook is upset make him feel better right now. he twists, tugs his hand free and manages to turn in jungkook’s vice grip. he takes jungkook’s face in both of his hands, murmurs, “i love you, i do, please stop crying—”

“can’t,” jungkook shakes his head, but he’s smiling. it’s dazzling, brilliant, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds. jimin’s heart sings. “m’too happy.”

“i don’t know what’s happening,” jimin admits, feeling beyond helpless. taehyung scoots closer, tucks his arm around jimin’s waist and snakes his hand up to press flat against jimin’s chest, right over his pounding heart. “i don’t—what’s happening right now?”

taehyung hooks his chin over jimin’s shoulder so that they’re pressed cheek to cheek. his breath is warm where it rustles jimin’s bangs, smells like fresh peppermint. “when you walked in on us confessing—we weren’t just confessing to each other.”

“what do you mean?”

jungkook laughs, a burst of breathless little giggles that leave jimin feeling light, illuminated. “i was so dumb, i didn’t mean to just fuckin’—say it like that.”

“we were watching a movie, something cheesy about a girl crushing on her oldest friend. and he sighed, told me he could relate, that it was a bitch being in love with his best friend,” taehyung says, fondly exasperated. “so i said, which one? and he looked at me like i’d just told him i was about to kill him.” he tightens his hold on jimin, thumb rubbing gently over jimin’s chest. “i was preparing myself to get my heart broken, because either he was going to say you and i’d have to casually melt into the floor, or he’d say me and i’d have to explain that i was in love with you as well and he’d look at me like a freak with thirty heads and twenty-six eyes—but he just sort of squeaked and said ‘both?’ like he wasn’t sure.”

jungkook laughs, ducks his head, and he’s so close that his nose knocks lightly against jimin’s. jimin, who is still very much stock-still, stuck in place with jungkook’s cheeks squished between his palms, thumbs carefully at the corner of jungkook’s mouth. just to feel his smile.

jungkook smiles harder in response, brushes a kiss against jimin’s thumb that lights a fire in his aching chest. “and then we both started crying,” jungkook says, eyes glittering with unshed tears and so full of light, “because we were both in love with you but also in love with each other—”

“which is why we asked how much you’d heard,” taehyung says, “we didn’t know if you’d heard us and felt—uncomfortable, or upset. and then you started acting so strange, and we weren’t sure if it was because you knew how we felt or you were just weirded out by the change in dynamics—”

jimin shakes his head, presses his lips into a tight line. “i didn’t hear. i would have—i would have barged in and kissed the shit out of you both. i would have never let you go, not if i knew.”

“well,” jungkook says quietly, so timidly hopeful, “now you know.”

jimin shivers, a full body tremble in response to the feeling of taehyung and jungkook’s hands and lips on him like that, with intent and purpose and a meaning that he didn’t make up. “is this real? is this—is this actually happening, or am i still drunk?”

taehyung’s laugh rumbles through him from where they’re pressed back to chest. he kisses jimin’s temple, noses at the soft baby hairs he finds there, whispers, “it’s real. we’re real. please say you’ll be ours.”

jimin starts to cry again, can’t help it. all of this immense, staggering love has nowhere else to go. he buries his face into jungkook’s chest, holds onto taehyung’s hand for dear life. “you want me?” he asks, a little broken, a little cracked at the edges.

“more than anything,” jungkook says, “so much it hurts.”

taehyung hums his agreement, and jimin can feel his tears dripping down the flushed warmth of his neck. “can we kiss you?” he asks, whisper-soft.

“my mouth tastes like throw up,” jimin mumbles, suddenly self-conscious. “because i got drunk instead of dealing with my feelings like a grown up.”

taehyung burrows closer, voice tinged with a tangible sadness. “i shouldn’t have yelled at you—”

“stop,” jungkook cuts in, “both of you. we’ll talk everything out until we’re so good at communication it’ll be disgusting, but for now—jimin needs to brush his teeth so that i can stick my tongue down his throat asap.”

this startles a laugh out of jimin—a short, sharp cackle that surprises even him. it shatters the tension, keeps them giggling and stumbling as they make their way towards the bathroom. taehyung, absolutely unwilling to let go, stays stuck to jimin’s back like honey, whispers sticky-sweet words into the shell of his ear while jimin brushes his teeth. jungkook sits on the counter, kicking his feet and watching them with a fondness so open it makes jimin a little dizzy. he’s still not completely convinced that this isn’t an elaborately detailed fever dream, but taehyung feels warm and real against him and at one point jungkook accidentally kicks him hard enough that he probably would have woken up, so. it’s probably actually happening.

the second jimin sets his toothbrush down, taehyung turns him around and swoops in. he’s so gentle when he pulls jimin closer, backing him up against the counter with his large palms cupping jimin’s cheeks. jimin’s pretty sure his heart has to reboot when taehyung’s lips brush against his, and the little whine he emits should be embarrassing but—it’s not. there’s no room for embarrassment, not when taehyung is holding him like he’s the most precious thing, licking into his mouth with an unmatched reverence. he’s slow and careful, tongue swiping over the swell of jimin’s bottom lip like he can’t get enough.

jungkook is staring at them openly, looking more than a little dazed, but when taehyung finally pulls away, he huffs loudly. “fucker,” he mutters, pouting. “you didn’t even let me rock paper scissors for the first kiss.”

jimin laughs, still a little breathless, his forehead knocking against taehyung’s cheek. “i don’t care,” taehyung sniffs, “i’ve been waiting to do that since i was thirteen years old, you can fuck right off. i have automatic dibs.”

jimin’s head snaps up. he presses his hands a little more firmly against the other boy’s chest, the tips of his fingers dancing against taehyung’s collarbones. “really? that long?”

taehyung flushes, opens his mouth, but jungkook doesn’t give him a chance to answer. “that’s not the point! it’s my turn. move, dickhead.”

“that’s dickhead-hyung to you.” taehyung shakes his head. “honestly, ever since we’ve started dating, you’ve gotten way too comfortable, you little shit.”

jimin sighs, exasperated and so, so in love. “jungkookie. tae. focus.”

jungkook cuts himself off mid-retort, eyes wide. “sorry, hyung,” he says, adorably sheepish. there’s a pretty pink tinge to his cheeks and he looks so nervous, fingertips pressing carefully into the dips of jimin’s waist. emboldened by his kiss with taehyung—with the knowledge that they really, genuinely want him—jimin steps closer, winds his arms around jungkook’s neck in order to tug him down a little bit lower. jungkook goes cross-eyed trying to keep looking, to soak up every little detail of jimin’s soft, quietly shy expression.

jimin is the one to push closer, close the distance between them. jungkook’s lips are soft and he lets his hyung take the lead, pretty mouth falling open as he sighs contentedly into the kiss. jimin pushes up on his tip toes when jungkook drags him closer, tummies flush against each other. one of taehyung’s hands settle on jungkook’s lower back, the other brushing at jimin’s hair, and then jimin is pulling back to let them kiss, and it’s—

it’s breathtaking. jimin keeps one hand on jungkook’s chest, his other arm reaching out to wrap around taehyung’s waist. he doesn’t feel that same sense of longing, that detachment, because they’re all connected, all touching in some way—hands, lips, chests, hips. he lets his head rest against taehyung’s shoulder and gets a kiss to the forehead. jungkook dips back down to kiss jimin again, like he can’t help himself. jimin smiles into it, unable to tamp down on the giddy feeling bubbling up in his stomach like champagne.

they spend the rest of the day in taehyung’s bed, cuddled up to each other like puppies. they talk and they cry and they laugh, ironing out the details of the past few weeks and what this means for them going forward. what they are, where jimin fits into the equation.

“you fit with us,” jungkook says, like it’s that simple.

and maybe it is.

 

-

 

jimin doesn’t realize he’s fallen asleep until after he wakes up, sandwiched between the two loves of his life. they’re talking quietly over his head—something about an anime that they’ll have to restart so that he can watch it with them, which. cute. taehyung notices that he’s awake first, swooping down to capture his lips in a sleepy-soft kiss that leaves jimin boneless and shivery. he hums into it, feels jungkook mouthing at his neck from behind. feels himself start to chub up a little in his sweatpants, which he desperately tries to will down.

he breaks the kiss, jittery with nerves, asks, “why’d you let me sleep so long?”

“because your body needed it,” jungkook says, sounding earnest as ever. “how do you feel?”

“a lot better,” jimin admits, knowing full-well that the swirling in his gut is not from the hangover but from the feeling of jungkook’s fingers tracing out gentle, tickling patterns over his lower belly. he feels his cheeks heat up, annoyed at himself for getting so worked up over next to nothing but holy shit, could literally anyone blame him? he’s in a bed with two gorgeous boys who have decided they want to be his boyfriends, a term agreed upon over the late breakfast-for-lunch jungkook made them. they’d sealed it with a kiss that turned a little heavier, a little headier than expected, left them all panting and refusing to look each other in the eyes, giggling like little kids.

“good,” taehyung hums, nosing along jimin’s jawline. neither of them have been able to stop touching him since they woke up this morning and it feels so fucking good to hold and be held after everything they went through to get here. the uncertainty, the fear of losing each other—it’s all melted away into this soft gentleness, light touches and the occasional ass grope. “are you hungry, my love?”

a happy little shiver runs up jimin’s spine. my love. “no,” jimin murmurs, melting into the pillow as jungkook reattaches himself to jimin’s neck. “what time is it?”

taehyung watches them hungrily, eyes tracing the line of jimin’s throat, settling on where jungkook has decided to nibble a little mark into jimin’s tanned skin. “a little after eight. you only slept for a few hours.”

“that’s—ah—not too long,” jimin says, gasping a little when jungkook’s nips at his earlobe.

“sorry,” jungkook murmurs, not sounding very sorry at all.

“you’re fine,” jimin says, a little higher pitched than normal.

taehyung laughs, low and honey-sweet. his eyes are sparkling when leans in, gaze falling on jimin’s lips. “i really wanna make out with you,” he says, sounding the slightest bit overwhelmed himself. jungkook makes an enthusiastic noise in the back of his throat, tongue laving against a proud purple-y bruise left in the juncture of jimin’s shoulder and neck.

“please do,” jimin breathes.

“sit up for me?” taehyung asks. jimin doesn’t even get a chance to answer before jungkook is pulling the both of them up and depositing jimin in his lap, arms wound around his waist.

“that’s like, stupid hot,” jimin says, leaning back and tilting his head until jungkook can kiss him properly. he pulls away for a moment just to add, “seriously. please feel free to just, like. swing me around.”

“noted,” jungkook grins, nipping at jimin’s bottom lip. taehyung knee-walks closer, settles between jimin’s sprawled-out legs, dips down to pull jimin into a slow, sensual kiss. jungkook’s hands wander up his chest, down his thighs, leaving trails of fire in their wake. it’s maddening, an absolute sensory overload having both of their attention on him like this, overwhelming in the best way. jimin lifts an arm off of taehyung’s shoulders, snakes it up and back to bury his fingers in jungkook’s soft waves, keeping him close and anchored.

taehyung leans closer, almost pushing the both of them onto their backs, the soft give of his perfect belly pressed tight to the firm lines of jimin’s stomach. jimin licks into his mouth, pushes back, bites down lightly on taehyung’s soft, spit-slick lip.

just when jimin thinks he’s reclaimed at least a little bit of control, jungkook’s hand moves from jimin’s hip to his dick. taehyung smirks as he swallows the startled moan that falls from jimin’s lips, body jolting at the contact.

“shit, i’m sorry, that was an accident—” jungkook rushes out, hand jerking away like he’s been burned.

jimin shakes his head, takes a deep breath. grabs jungkook’s hand and slowly, carefully guides it towards the ever-growing bulge tenting his pants. “is this okay?” he whispers. jungkook responds by cupping him through his sweats.

his eyes widen. “holy shit, hyung. you’re big.”

taehyung takes a deep breath, pins jimin with a very serious look. “okay, listen. i have loved you for years. the size of your dick does not affect that. however—” he holds up a hand for jungkook to high-five, which he does without hesitation. “fuckin’ jackpot.”

“you two are so fucking embarrassing, oh my god,” jimin groans, head lolling against jungkook’s shoulder. he means to roll his eyes—and he does, but not the way he’d originally intended to, because jungkook strokes him once over the pants and that’s it. jimin’s a fucking goner. “shit.”

taehyung bites his lip, leans down to kiss jimin and then jungkook. “what do you want, hyung?” jungkook asks, mouthing at jimin’s neck, fingers twisted in taehyung’s curls.

the question is overwhelming because it’s not like he’s ever had a threesome before, let alone a threesome with the two most perfect, important people in the entire universe. what he wants is to touch and be touched, to feel them and know them in every possible way, but—

taehyung and jungkook know each other’s bodies inside and out, they know what to do to make each other feel so achingly, toe-curlingly good—and then there’s jimin, awkward and fumbling and trying his best to keep up. why would they even want him? what purpose could he possibly serve when they’re already—

in a moment, tae is there. he presses his forehead to jimin’s, breathes with him. anchors him. jungkook remains a warm weight at his back, lips soft but firm against jimin’s shoulder.

“breathe, jimin,” taehyung whispers, kissing carefully at the corner of his mouth. “it’s just us. just us, baby. we’re like, the least intimidating people alive. remember when we watched the grudge and jungkookie screamed so loud we got a noise complaint?”

an indignant hyung! from jungkook startles a wet laugh out of jimin. “i remember,” he says, biting down on a small smile.

taehyung smiles back, soft and brilliant. “see? not scary. it’s just us, and we love you so—very—much.” he punctuates each pause with a kiss—one to jimin’s forehead, one to his nose, one to his lips.

jungkook nuzzles his nose into jimin’s neck, palm splayed across jimin’s belly. it’s an anchoring weight, calming and familiar, and it settles something wild in jimin’s chest. “whatever you wanna do, hyung,” jungkook murmurs, earnest as ever, “whatever you’re comfortable with. we can stop, just hang out and cuddle and watch a movie.”

jimin shakes his head. “no, i’m okay,” he says, and he means it, too. he’s always okay when he’s with taehyung and jungkook, always feels safe and cared for—knows that whatever happens, however fast or hard he falls, they’ll be there to catch him. “i want to—i want to be with you. i really, really want to.”

he feels taehyung smile against his cheek, longer fingers gripping at his hips. “that’s good to hear.”

jimin swallows, tightens his arms around taehyung’s shoulders to pull him a little closer. “i just—i don’t know—i don’t know what to do. i don’t know what—what position, or...or where everybody’s dicks will go—” jungkook snorts into jimin’s shoulder. “—i just know that i want to be close to you.”

“sounds perfect,” taehyung sighs, fingers tracing little circles into the dip of jimin’s hip. he kisses jimin again, soft and sweet with no expectation that anything will come of it. giving jimin as much time as he needs to process and feel better. “we’ll talk through it, yeah? communication is sexy.”

jungkook presses a smile into the crook of jimin’s neck. “you think everything is sexy, you horny fuck.”

“i think everything the two of you do is sexy,” taehyung corrects him, poking jungkook in the side hard enough that his happy cackle echoes through the room. jimin lets his head fall forward against taehyung’s shoulder to hide his smile, hands sliding down to rest against his chest. taehyung presses a smacking kiss to his temple, knee-walks even closer to wrap his arms around jungkook’s back, squishing jimin between them. “and what about you, jimin-ah? what do you think is sexy?”

his tone is light, teasing, shimmying obnoxiously to jostle both jimin and jungkook until they laugh, but jimin knows what he’s doing—he’s trying to lighten the load a little bit, ease them into it. get jimin out of this weird headspace he’s shoved himself into, give him an avenue to talk about what he likes, what he wants, without feeling pressured or foreign.

it’s working. jimin feels himself melt a little, relaxing into their arms, letting them hold him up, letting them hold some of the heaviness that’s weighing him down. they take his extra weight in stride, without complaint, supporting him and filling in the cracks of his previously deteriorating foundation.

“i think the both of you are,” jimin says, watching in wonder as taehyung’s coy smile breaks open into a breathtaking grin. “beyond that, my brain is just—a little too mushy right now. if i try to think past the fact that your dick is touching mine i think i’ll explode.”

jungkook huffs out a laugh, presses an open-mouthed kiss to the curve of jimin’s neck. it sends a shock through him, like a livewire twisting and jumping in a puddle. “that’s okay,” jungkook says, sweet and gentle. he nuzzles his nose beneath jimin’s ear, nibbles softly at the warm skin he finds. “we can just go with what feels good.” he sighs, grinds forward lightly. “we just wanna make you feel good, hyung.”

jimin goes boneless in his arms, cock twitching in interest. taehyung kisses up his jaw, wet and open-mouthed, while jungkook traces a finger along the line of his waistband. “we only go as far as you want to,” taehyung murmurs against his skin, nosing lightly at his cheek. “okay? you tell us to stop and we stop.”

jimin shakes his head, pushes up insistently towards jungkook’s hand. “please don’t stop.”

jungkook’s fingers dips lower, pulling at the elastic waistband. “can i?” he asks, sounding a little shaky himself.

“yes, holy shit,” he manages, voice strained, body pulled taut like a rubber band waiting to snap. the second jungkook puts his hands on him he’s going to explode, just fucking burst into tiny little pieces of jimin-confetti, and then— “oh, fuck. oh, fuck.

jungkook snakes a hand down his pants to grip him, jimin automatically bucking up into his fist. he’s so keyed up, so sensitive over just a few touches—he’s probably the most experienced out of the three of them but this is different. this matters.

“shit,” taehyung blows out a sharp breath, eyes blown wide and trained on the movement of jungkook’s hand beneath jimin’s sweats. “can you—wanna see—”

jimin yanks his own pants and underwear down, doesn’t even wait for taehyung to finish. taehyung helps him—what a gentleman, jimin thinks hazily—gets the both off in one swift tug, throws them to the side before spreading jimin’s legs back into their previous position. jimin feels exposed, almost shy, but he stays put, lets his head loll against jungkook’s shoulder as they younger boy strokes him slowly.

“i can’t be the only one naked,” jimin says, and he receives two very different reactions to that statement.

jungkook tugs at jimin’s shirt, teases, “you’re not like, fully naked,” while taehyung immediately starts to strip. whatever retort he could have possibly shot back dies in his throat at the sight of taehyung’s perfect curves, the soft dip of his hips, the little pouch of his tummy. jungkook, to his credit, seems similarly affected. “fuck,” he whispers, hand stuttering on jimin’s leaking cock.

taehyung flushes a little, uncharacteristically shy but remaining stubbornly bare. he leans to the side to kick his underwear off, now officially the Most Naked out of them all. “it’s nothing you haven’t seen before,” he teases jungkook, tucking a wayward curl behind his ear.

“still stunning,” jungkook breathes. he looks down at jimin’s pliant form, and then back to taehyung like he can’t quite believe his luck. “holy shit. you two are so hot, what the fuck.”

jimin opens his mouth, closes it. “i think my brain just. stopped working.”

taehyung flops onto his back, cheeks blazing. “okay, shut up. everyone else needs to take their clothes off so it’s equal. stop objectifying me.”

jungkook snorts loudly into jimin’s ear. “you act like you’re not literally posing right now.” still, he uses his free hand to teasingly tug jimin’s shirt up until his chest is fully exposed.

“nuh uh,” jimin says, batting his hand away. “you’re still fully dressed. we’re baring our souls and asses for you, the last you can do is show me your abs.”

taehyung whistles his agreement, hugging one of his pillows to his chest. jungkook grumbles a little, cheeks flushing adorably, wiggling until jimin sighs heavily and gets to his knees, t-shirt falling down over his achingly hard dick. jimin turns around just in time to watch jungkook pull his sleep shirt over his head in one swift movement, revealing toned abs and a gorgeous collage of vibrant tattoos. jimin feels his mouth go dry watching jungkook try to hide behind the soft black hair falling over his eyes like a veil. jimin doesn’t let him—he reaches down, takes jungkook’s chin in his hand and draws him closer for a kiss, deep and slow like dripping molasses.

“not to interrupt,” taehyung says, “but i have a full view of jimin’s ass right now and holy shit, it is fucking phenomenal.”

jimin breaks the kiss with a laugh, wiggles his butt just because. taehyung reaches out to swat at it lazily, fingers burning wherever they touch. jungkook stares up at him adoringly, eyes warm and sparkling when they meet his. jimin feels his heart flutter inside his ribcage, and in that moment he can’t help himself—he kisses jungkook again, soft and firm, palms cupping warm cheeks.

when they break apart, jungkook nudges his nose against jimin’s, says, “not to pressure you, but if we want to—do anything, i have to go get the lube from the bathroom. and, uh,” he stops, averts his eyes, cheeks warming in jimin’s grasp, “should i—should i get the condoms?”

“yeah,” jimin says, feels his cock twitch where it’s pressed against jungkook’s stomach, “yes. i—i think i know what i wanna do, but, i mean...only if you guys want to.”

“tell us,” taehyung says, kicking lightly at jimin’s thigh. “pretty sure you could suggest anything and we’d be up for it. we’re freaky like that.”

jimin turns halfway to face him, hand curling around taehyung’s ankle. “noted,” he laughs, smiling so hard he can barely see. he feels a little self-conscious, a little bit dirty suggesting this, but—

“i want to fuck taehyung-ah while jungkookie fucks me.”

“we can do that,” taehyung says immediately, sounding faint, and jungkook squeaks. “fuck. baby, go get the condoms, please.”

jimin does not miss the way jungkook scrambles to do what his hyung says. interesting.

he turns around, takes a moment to just—exist, to breathe, to take in the gorgeous sight that is taehyung sprawled out in front of him. taehyung glows under his gaze, cheeks dusted the prettiest pink, arms framing his head and legs falling open just a little wider. he’s baring himself for jimin, completely exposed, trusting that jimin will love him the way he deserves, will make him feel good. there’s not a hint of hesitation or nervousness in those beautiful brown eyes—nothing but the unconditional love that has marked their relationship since they were little, the unspoken knowledge that jimin will take care of taehyung and taehyung will take care of jimin and that’s that.

it’s that level of trust, that openness, that has jimin’s breath catching on the way out, heart stuttering in his ribcage. he runs his hands up taehyung’s thighs, across the constellation of freckles and stretch marks, marvelling at the way taehyung’s mouth falls open in the softest of sighs.

jungkook returns with the lube and condoms not even a second later, crawling across the soft expanse of sheets to reach them. he settles on his knees beside jimin, wrapping his arms around jimin’s waist letting his head fall against jimin’s shoulder. he’s full naked, now, his pants and underwear discarded somewhere between the bathroom and the bed.

“so pretty, hyung,” he murmurs to tae, voice reverent. then, to jimin, “isn’t he the prettiest boy you’ve ever seen?”

jimin lifts a hand off of taehyung’s thigh to cup jungkook’s chin, tilt his head up until he can press a kiss to the corner of jungkook’s mouth. “one of them,” jimin murmurs, so fond it aches. he’s still nervous, so scared of fucking up—but the way jungkook’s looking at him right now loosens the knot coiled in his chest, helps him breathe that much easier.

jungkook’s smile blooms like spring, eyes crinkling and cheeks flushing. “gross, hyung,” he says, though his smile betrays him. he leans up to kiss jimin, open-mouthed and lazy like they’ve got all the time in the world to explore each other.

more than anything, jimin hopes they do.

when he turns his attention back to taehyung, lube in hand, tae’s looking at them with so much open affection that jimin’s heart feels tender, a little bruised. jungkook disentangles himself from jimin to sprawl across taehyung’s naked form with a quiet oof, and taehyung’s arms wrap around his waist on instinct.

and now it’s jimin’s turn to watch, fingers trailing delicate paths up the inside of thick, tanned thighs. jungkook settles against taehyung’s side, hand roaming across his broad chest and down down down to where taehyung needs him most, so close but not quite touching. they’re so beautiful, so open and raw, and jimin feels—honored, almost, to be allowed to see them at their most vulnerable, too see this private moment between two people in love—

because they love him, too, just as much as they love each other. enough to fill entire galaxies and sink them under the weight of the enormousness of what they feel. jimin watches jungkook pillow his head against taehyung’s bicep, kiss at the warm expanse of skin he finds there. he watches taehyung bury his face into jungkook’s hair, smiling as he maneuvers his arm out from under jungkook’s body to curl around his shoulders.

jimin watches, and he feels. he feels so much—love, all-encompassing and overwhelming. a strange sort of wistfulness, knowing he could have had this sooner but was too blind to look a little closer. an all-consuming tenderness, seeing his boys touch and kiss and move against each other in perfect harmony. a little bit of possessiveness curling around his heart in quiet satisfaction, content in the knowledge that they are his and he is theirs. together, just like they were always supposed to be.

experimentally, jimin scratches lightly at the inside of taehyung’s thighs. taehyung rewards him with the most gorgeous little gasp, fingers twisting in the sheets and legs twitching in an aborted attempt to close them. helpfully, jungkook slides a hand down one of taehyung’s thighs and holds it open, tongue poking out to playfully swirl at taehyung’s nipple.

“thank you, jungkookie,” jimin smiles, and he doesn’t miss the way jungkook preens under the acknowledgement. “taehyung-ah, you’re so sensitive.”

“only because it’s you,” taehyung says, and jesus christ does that go straight to jimin’s dick. taehyung’s bedroom eyes pin him to the spot, alluring but still so soft, so gentle. “been wanting you to touch me since forever, jiminie.”

“been wanting to touch you since forever,” jimin breathes, moving close enough to bend down and crowd both taehyung and jungkook against the bed. they’re all so close, skin to skin, jimin doing his best to straddle the both of them—one leg in between taehyung’s, the other planted in the little space between jungkook’s thighs. his cock drags along taehyung’s hip as he dips down to capture jungkook’s lips in kiss, the air between them shifting into something a little more heated, a little more desperate. “both of you, god. that day i walked in on you—”

“knew you liked it,” jungkook murmurs against jimin’s mouth, lips quirking into a knowing smile. “wish you would have watched, hyung. wanted to be good for you, show you how i take care of taehyungie hyung.”

“always good for me,” jimin says, swallowing thickly, heart fluttering when jungkook’s eyes go a little glassy. “you took care of taehyung for the both of us, didn’t you? while i was too busy being an idiot.”

taehyung laughs, cups at jimin’s cheek with his free hand to drag him down for a slow and languid kiss, noses knocking. “did so well, too,” he murmurs, smiling against jimin’s lips when jungkook’s breath hitches. “made me feel so good, jungkookie.” he drags it out, a little breathy, like he’s remembering—and maybe he is. maybe he’s thinking about whatever jungkook did to him the last time they were together like this, and god, what jimin wouldn’t give to know every single detail.

jimin blows out a shaky breath, turns to jungkook with a fire burning in his gut. “baby,” he says, watches with warm satisfaction just how quickly jungkook reacts to his voice, the pet name. there’s a rush of affection so strong it nearly knocks him over, gives him the bit of confidence he needs to ask, “do you think you can be good for me again?”

jungkook nods, looking a little dazed. taehyung reaches up to run a hand through his hair, looking so fond it hurts. jungkook leans into the touch, eyes never leaving jimin’s. “yes, hyung.”

jimin can’t help it—he dips down, presses another soft kiss to jungkook’s lips, so deeply in contrast to the white-hot tension crackling between the three of them. he feels giddy, breathless and a little dizzy because holy shit. this is really happening. “can you—can you open taehyung up for me? show me how to make him feel good?”

jungkook’s nodding before jimin even finishes his sentence, eyes wide and bright. jimin drops a kiss to his forehead and then another to taehyung’s lips, pushes himself up so that he’s sitting on his haunches with a full view of jungkook moving closer to taehyung, hooking a leg over one of tae’s thighs to spread them that much wider. shameless as ever, taehyung helpfully lets his other leg fall flat against the bed, bent at the knee, runs a hand down his own thigh and bites his lip, eyes never leaving jimin’s.

“you like to watch, jiminie?” he asks, teasing and soft.

jimin nods faster than he ever has in his life, because shame has no place in this sacred space they’ve created together. “when it’s you two? holy shit, yeah.” he blushes a little, shrugs. “besides, i’m still sort of nervous and i think that—maybe if you two start, i’ll be able to just...jump in. when i feel ready.”

taehyung hums, smiles, reaches out and wiggles his fingers until jimin grabs his hand. taehyung squeezes once, tugs to get jimin a little bit closer, get him to sit beside his and jungkook’s entangled forms. “is this okay?” he asks, settling their interlocking fingers against the warmth of his own hip. jimin squeezes and nods, thankful for the contact—the feeling of being involved, of being wanted, even when he’s not directly participating.

taehyung gifts him with another warm, calm, eye-crinkly smile, lets his head loll towards jungkook until their foreheads knock gently. they grin at each other softly, so wide their eyes nearly disappear, before taehyung nips at jungkook’s bottom lip, murmurs, “let’s give hyung a show, hm? he deserves it. been waiting so long.”

jungkook responds by reaching down, taking taehyung’s cock in his hands, heavy and warm and so achingly hard from the build up. he squeezes the base once, smiles when taehyung’s eyes roll back, before starting a slow, tortuous glide up and down until taehyung has all but melted into the mattress. jungkook twists his wrist on the way back up, paying extra attention to the sensitive skin just below taehyung’s head. jimin’s like, ninety-eight percent sure he stops breathing for a solid minute once he realizes how wet taehyung is getting, how slick the slide looks and sounds

“holy shit,” jimin says, hand moving to grip himself.

“yeah,” taehyung agrees, breathless gasp breaking off into the deepest of moans when jungkook moves lower to cup his balls. “mmm, just like that, baby. feels so good. you feel so—hnggghohmygod.” his hips jerk up as jungkook circles the tip of his pointer finger around taehyung’s hole, fingers squeezing jimin’s hand tight as the sensation overtakes him. taehyung twists his head up and purses his lips, waiting for a kiss that jungkook delivers immediately.

jungkook pulls away just long enough to grab the lube, drizzle some over his fingers. he tosses it aside and jimin grabs it immediately, letting go of taehyung’s hand to smear some onto his own fingers. taehyung watches him, eyes widening. “are you going to—” he cuts himself off, gasps as one of jungkook’s fingers slides into his clenching hole.

“yeah,” jimin breathes, reaching behind himself to circle his own hole before pressing his pointer finger slowly inside. “just, y’know. figured it would be faster.”

“efficiency kink: activated,” taehyung sighs, melting in the pillows as jungkook starts to fuck him with his finger. jimin huffs out a laugh that turns into a moan halfway through, the combination of his finger and the visual of taehyung falling apart in front of him too much to handle at once. for a little while, the only noise in the room is the sound of their heavy breathing and the squelching of lube, jimin working himself up to two, three fingers and watching, mesmerized, as jungkook does the same to taehyung.

jimin never considered himself a voyeur, would have never thought that watching was his thing, but—

he’s definitely learned something new about himself.

“you’re so beautiful together,” jimin blurts out, when the silence becomes too much and the aching in his heart is somehow stronger than the one in his dick. “god, i just. i could look at you forever.”

“looking is great,” taehyung says, more than a little breathless, “but, um. how do you feel about touching?”

“i feel very good about touching,” jimin says, nodding emphatically. his fingertips burn with the need to press and tug and wander.

taehyung laughs, pretty and stuttered, asks, “and how do you feel, like. emotionally?

jimin swallows, reaches out to grab taehyung’s hand. he shifts a little closer, watches jungkook’s beaming smile widen with each inch the gap between them closes. “i feel—” he stops, pauses. thinks it over. he wants to give the most honest answer possible, because its what they deserve from him. “i feel a little overwhelmed, and really nervous and—and sort of scared. but mostly i feel like there is more love in my body than any one person should be able to hold, and it’s—it’s all for the two of you.”

taehyung’s mouth falls open a little, before he swallows thickly. “god. love you so much, jimin. didn’t think you’d want us like this,” he breathes, voice a little shaky. he lets his eyes slip shut as jungkook presses a soothing, careful kiss to his cheek. “i’m so happy, jimin-ah. baby. our baby.”

“yours,” jimin promises, reaching out to cup taehyung’s cheek. then, with a soft kiss to the corner of jungkook’s mouth, “and yours.”

“love you, hyung,” jungkook murmurs, nuzzling his nose against jimin’s. “love you so much. can we—do you feel okay, or do you wanna keep watching?”

jimin nods, before realizing he hasn’t actually answered the question. “want you to touch me again. please.”

“yeah?” jungkook asks, and his crooked smile knocks the breath clean out of jimin’s chest. “c’mere, then.”

jimin pulls his fingers out of his ass, wipes them unceremoniously on taehyung’s pretty lilac bedsheets. it’s fine. they’ll have to wash them later anyway. besides, his bed is just down the hall, so they won’t even have to do the laundry until tomorrow, which is a win-win in jimin’s book.

jungkook hands him a condom, already in the process of ripping open his own. the crinkle of tin foil has him shivering in anticipation, and he watches jungkook roll the condom on with an unparalleled concentration. he’s like, 90% sure he’s drooling because jungkook’s cock is so long and pretty, curving up towards his belly like a beacon. jimin leans forward to kiss jungkook just because he can, swallows the surprised, happy little noise jungkook lets out at the contact. taehyung sighs dramatically, whines a little, and looks entirely too pleased with himself when both of their attentions shift back to him almost immediately.

he makes the cutest little grabby hands, tummy folding adorably as he props himself up. “jimin-ah,” he says, pretty doe eyes wide, “want you. please?”

and really, who is jimin to say no?

he rolls the condom down quickly, hissing as jungkook helps slick him up with the lube—taehyung’s favorite, strawberry-scented like everything else he owns. “he’s ready for you,” jungkook murmurs, “made sure to stretch him wide, since you’re packing and all.”

“shut the fuck up,” jimin mutters. he shoves lightly at jungkook’s shoulder, though of course he’s secretly pleased. he tilts his head, knee-walks a little closer until they’re pressed flush against each other, their cocks trapped between them. “thank you, jungkookie,” jimin murmurs, pitches his voice just a little bit lower—and delighting in the way jungkook swallows, averts his eyes.

taehyung, shameless as ever, strokes himself lazily, legs spread wide and languid. “he likes to be told when he’s doing good, jimin-ah. our sweet boy loves to be praised. right, jungkookie-baby?”

jungkook’s eyes gloss over a little and he bites his lip, hips kicking forward at taehyung’s velvet-soft tone. “yes, hyung,” he sighs, sounding a little far away.

jimin smiles, indulgent and sweet, presses a lingering kiss to the corner of jungkook’s mouth. “did so well, baby. did exactly as i asked, opened hyung up and made him feel so good. thank you, beautiful.”

and jungkook—jungkook goes boneless, melting forward into jimin’s loose hold and—oh no. jimin’s in love. he’s so, stupidly in love. he feels a surge of affection so strong it nearly knocks him over, and he tries to infuse every last drop of it into his trembling voice when he asks, “are you ready?”

“aren’t i supposed to be asking you that?” jungkook asks, and there goes that beautiful smile again, pretty and soft in the warm glow of the fairy lights above taehyung’s bed.

“you don’t have to,” jimin smiles, “i’m ready. have been for a really long time.” with a parting kiss, jimin settles himself between taehyung’s legs. “hi, baby,” he says, drops a sweet kiss to taehyung’s nose at the exact same time he slips a finger inside of him.

taehyung gasps at the intrusion, arching up so prettily. “hi, oh my god.” he smiles, eyes rolling back. “looks like you’re feeling a little more comfortable.”

jimin hums, noses along the delicate line of taehyung’s jaw. jungkook’s hands settle on his waist from behind and jimin sighs, content to have them both so close and touching him like this, like they want him—because they do want him, and it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the entire world. “i’m thinking with my dick instead of my anxiety right now,” jimin says matter-of-factly, “and my heart, because i love you both a stupid amount.”

taehyung’s face goes soft, and he tilts his head to drop little pecks all over jimin’s cheek. “i don’t think i’ll ever get tired hearing you say that you love us.”

jimin smiles so hard he can barely see, nose pressed to the soft give of taehyung’s cheek. “good, because i do. i love you so much.”

“we’re going to annoy all of our friends,” jungkook says, though he doesn’t sound particularly put out by that fact. he dips his thumb into jimin’s wet hole, humming when jimin moans at the sensation.

it’s so much—jimin feels so exposed, so vulnerable, being watched and touched by the both of them like this, but—it’s also intimate, and special, and all those dumb cheesy things jimin never thought he’d feel during sex. it’s romantic, with tae underneath him murmuring how beautiful he looks like this, how good jungkook is doing, how lovely they both are.

“baby,” tae whispers, his voice butter-soft. jimin’s eyes flicker towards him, a little dazed. “i need you to do something for me.”

“anything,” jimin says, reverent and spellbound.

very seriously, taehyung cups his cheeks. “i need you to stick your dick in me right now or mine might actually fall off.”

it’s ridiculous—taehyung is ridiculous, and jimin loves him so much he doesn’t know how he has room in his heart for literally anything else. jungkook snorts behind them, laughing so hard he has to prop himself up with his forehead pressed against the curve of jimin’s ass, and oh yes. that’s how.

jimin smiles, shifts until the curve of his cock is pressed against taehyung’s entrance, and he rolls his hips forward just to watch tae’s eyes roll back, pretty mouth falling open in a perfect O. the wetness of the lube sounds absolutely obscene, and the amount jungkook used seems a little unnecessary but—but he guesses tae likes it messy, likes it wet.

jimin files that little bit of information away for later.

the frankly pornographic amount of lube dripping from taehyung’s hole makes it incredibly easy for jimin to reposition himself and slide right in to the hilt. taehyung gasps, eyes flying open, fingers clenching around jimin’s biceps tight enough to bruise. jimin clenches his jaw, focuses all his attention on not immediately thrusting into taehyung like his body craves. “okay?”

“fucking phenomenal,” taehyung slurs, grinding his hips down. “kiss me, jiminie, please—”

jimin does. he kisses taehyung like he’s terrified of letting go, like this moment will disappear into a whisp of smoke if he doesn’t pour all of his love and energy and emotion into this single kiss. taehyung kisses back just as hungrily, starts to swivel his hips in these intoxicating little figure-eights that leave jimin gasping into his mouth. “move,” taehyung murmurs, “fuck me, want you—jiminie, baby—”

“okay, okay, i’ve got you,” jimin breathes, thrusting into this beautiful, lovely boy with everything he has. “fuck, god. love you so much. jungkook, where—”

“sorry,” jungkook says, sounding dazed, “i think i passed out for a second. holy shit. you two are so hot it’s actually unfair. how am i expected to survive this?”

“the apocalypse is jimin’s dick and it’s coming for all of us,” taehyung says, his words mumbled and unclear.

“jungkook,” jimin almost-whines, breath coming out in stuttered gasps, “fuck me.”

“shit,” jungkook says. “shit.”

there’s a sound like a cap flipping open, a bit of rustling, and then the head of jungkook’s cock is pressing against jimin’s fluttering hole. the slide is slow, careful, like jungkook is afraid of hurting him, which—cute. jimin feels so full, tears pricking at the overwhelming waves of pleasure cascading over him like the world’s sexiest waterfall. taehyung is so warm around him and jungkook feels so thick and hot inside of him and holy shit, he’s not going to last very long.

“baby,” taehyung murmurs, dazed and fucked-out but still so hyper-focused on jimin. “baby, you’re crying. does it hurt? jungkookie, maybe you should—”

“don’t pull out,” jimin says, a hair too loud, “m’fine, promise. just—feel so good. so good, taehyung-ah, jungkookie, my boys. my babies. holy shit.”

“i think we broke him,” jungkook stage-whispers, though his voice sounds strained, and jimin can feel his cock pulsing hard inside of him like a second heartbeat.

“move, please,” jimin says, grinding back pointedly. “hard, fast. wanna feel you—”

jungkook does exactly as he’s told—he sets a brutal pace, fucking jimin within an inch of his life, gripping his waist to keep him steady. he thrusts hard into jimin, which sends jimin thrusting into taehyung, which sends taehyung into an absolute frenzy. he wails, fingers scratching down jimin’s back for leverage, and the sting sends another jolt of hazy pleasure straight to jimin’s cock.

“m’not gonna last long,” jimin warns, his words slurred. “holy shit. make me feel so good, jungkookie, being so good for me, for us. so good for your hyungs.”

jungkook’s hips stutter at his words and he lets out the most gorgeous little whine, drapes himself over jimin’s back to be closer, to touch and feel and mouth at jimin’s neck. he reaches down, threads his fingers with taehyung’s, mumbles, “love you, love you so much,” into sweat-slick skin.

taehyung lets out a raw-sounding sob, punched out of him by the sheer force of jimin and jungkook’s combined thrusts. “love you, love you both, love you so much,” he babbles, tears streaming down pretty red cheeks. “feel so good, please don’t stop—”

without warning, he comes, painting his perfect belly white. they fuck him through it, a little gentler now, jimin pressing soft kisses all over taehyung’s cheeks, forehead, nose, lips. “love you,” taehyung says again, melting into the mattress, “holy shit.”

jimin pulls out carefully, nuzzling at taehyung’s temple. “we love you, too. so much, baby. so much.”

jungkook bends down further to kiss taehyung, slow and sensual while still buried deep inside jimin. taehyung makes a soft, pretty noise in the back of his throat, eyes falling closed, lashes fanning over tanned cheeks. “do i get a show, now?” he asks, and his lazy smile holds the slightest hint of deviousness.

jungkook nods, slips out of jimin, flips him over onto his back without warning. “wanna see you,” he says, nosing at a bruise jimin hadn’t realized taehyung left on his collarbone. fuckin’ vampire. “wanna kiss you.”

“want that, too,” jimin breathes, moaning as jungkook slides back inside, lifts his hips to find the perfect angle. jungkook’s hands wander up and down his body, cupping his ass, thumbing over his nipples.

taehyung scoots closer, tucks himself against jimin’s side, under his arm. he purses his lips until jungkook obediently delivers on his silent request for a kiss. jimin lets his head loll to the side, presses his lips to taehyung’s forehead as jungkook thrusts forward, working up to a steady rhythm that leaves jimin burning all over, builds a warmth in his belly that spreads through his body like wildfire. “jungkookie, baby,” he murmurs, feels the younger boy trace a path with his tongue from jimin’s throat, up to his jaw, and finally to his lips.

jimin lets his mouth fall open, feels jungkook kiss and suck and nip, cock brushing against his prostate on every thrust. the build up is slow, anticipatory, until taehyung reaches between them, pulls the condom off of jimin’s length and starts to stroke him quick and long, murmuring filth into the shell of his ear.

“fuck,” jimin says, and then, “fuck, i’m gonna—”

he comes so hard his vision whites out, tears streaming down his cheeks as his boyfriends—god, will he ever get over that?—take care of him. it doesn’t take long for jungkook to follow suit, spilling into the condom as taehyung licks into his mouth. they collapse into a heap of limbs and love and come, jungkook still softening inside of jimin. he moves to pull out, to—clean them up, maybe, try and rally them into walking down the hallway, out of and away from the sticky mess they’ve made.

jimin shakes his head, holds on tighter. “not yet,” he whispers, feels taehyung smile against his temple. they’re wrapped up in and around each other, molding like clay figurines—can’t tell where one ends, where the next begins. “just stay with me.”

“always,” jungkook says.

“forever,” taehyung adds.

jimin smiles. they’ll clean up later.

they’ve got all the time in the world.