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Jimin's run on Chef Challenge lasted two more weeks, getting shut out in Week 12, just before the finals. He'd probably be embarrassed later, his teary and splotchy cheeks immortalized forever on cable television, but for now, he would cry.

 

"And so, as we bid farewell to Park Jimin, that means," Hoseok announced to the cameras, rather solemnly, "that we will see you next week with our finalists, Lee Ilhwa, Kim Sejeong, and Yook Sungjae."

 

After a few more closing remarks, Hoseok nodded goodbye to the home audience and turned to give Jimin a hug once the other three contestants released him from theirs.

 

He ruffled Jimin's hair a little. "Be proud of yourself," he said. "You did well."

 

Jimin nodded gratefully. He knew Hoseok was right; there was nothing he'd done to disgrace himself, hadn't done anything wrong. Though it was a disappointment to have to go, the other three remaining were just a little better than him, and Jimin had no shame in admitting it. He'd come as far as he could, competing against the some of the best amateur cooks the show had seen so far, making amazing friends, meeting Yoongi. Jimin had no regrets.

 

Seokjin and Hani left the judges' table to come over and extend their commiserations as well, with Seokjin crushing Jimin to his chest and Hani patting his back.

 

"Manggaeddeok!" Seokjin said. "I'll miss you so much!"

 

In spite of himself, Jimin laughed at the pet name.

 

"You'd better keep in touch, okay?" Seokjin said. "Give me your Instagram right now. I'm going to stalk you immediately."

 

Once that was done, Hani squeezed Jimin's shoulder comfortingly. "Don't get discouraged by this, okay?" she said with a gentle smile. "You've shown us a lot of wonderful skills. Your life is going to change in so many ways after this, I promise."

 

The cameras were still rolling; on television the credits would appear over everyone saying goodbye to Jimin and celebrating the finalists. Jimin sniffled but smiled as much as he could. After all, it wasn't just about him leaving. Sejeong, Sungjae, and Ilhwa were headed to the finals of Chef Challenge, and he couldn't think of three people more deserving. It was going to be such an awesome finale, even if he wasn't in it.  

 

As soon as the cameras turned off, Jungkook came running in from the sidelines. Though Jimin expected another sympathetic hug that might fracture some of his smaller bones, Jungkook slung an arm around Jimin's shoulders instead. "Hyung, you good?"

 

"Mmhm," said Jimin, mostly meaning it.

 

"Taehyung and I are gonna take you out to drink after this, okay? You're not allowed to say no, and he's already on his way," said Jungkook.

 

Jimin rolled his eyes, though he wasn't displeased at the prospects of a) alcohol, and b) getting a lift home that wasn't the bus. "I still have interviews," he said, nodding in Namjoon's direction. "It might be a while."

 

Jungkook shrugged. "Taehyung knows lots of people here. He'll keep himself occupied," he said. Another thought occurred to him, and he licked his teeth. "Or, failing that, I can keep him occupied."

 

"Hard pass on drinks with the two of you," Jimin said, but failed to get away from Jungkook's iron grip.

 

"We'll be good," Jungkook promised with a snorting laugh.

 

Jimin noticed Namjoon motioning him over and said, "Gotta go. Text you when I'm done."

 

He trotted over to Namjoon, who directed him to the interview room where the makeup noona was ready and waiting with her brushes to touch him up, his original makeup runny and tracked with dried tears.

 

"What's the point, though?" Jimin asked, accidentally getting a mouthful of brush. "I'm just gonna cry all over again when I'm talking to you, PD-nim."

 

Namjoon smiled. "Then at least you'll look pretty when you do."

 

Jimin did end up tearing up again over the course of the interview. It wasn't just having to leave the kitchen set that had somehow become almost like a second home with a second family, but he was losing out on the prize money now. Culinary school would have to wait much, much longer.

 

"You know," Namjoon said, once the official interview was done and the camera operator was moving the equipment out of the way, "I wouldn't worry about it too much. I can't tell you much more than this, not until the show is all over, but we've already been getting calls… Inquiries always come in about our best contestants."

 

Jimin frowned. "What does that mean?"

 

"It means people are interested in you," said Namjoon. "Like, in a wanting-to-give-you-a-job kind of way."

 

"What… kind of job?" Jimin asked.

 

Namjoon waved the question off. "I've already told you too much," he said, exasperated. "Just… take some time to rest, okay? Things will work out on their own."

 

Though Jimin narrowed his eyes in dissatisfaction, then used his best aegyo to ask Namjoon to pretty please be less cryptic, Namjoon only grinned and shooed him away, leaving Jimin standing outside the interview room to wonder who exactly was interested in potentially hiring him.

 

He went back to the dressing room to find a few notes stuck to his backpack -- messages of loud affection from the other three contestants, who'd already left for home by the time Jimin had finished his interview. He smiled at the notes and tucked them carefully into his pocket.

 

Inside his backpack, Jimin's phone blinked insistently at him, lit up with a million messages from the Chef Challenge group chat, starting with Sejeong posting the results and the ensuing posts from everyone else congratulatory and sympathetic alike. One from Shinwon included an invitation to Jimin to something he called the Happy Losers Club, which the three finalists were emphatically forbidden to join, because it was to gossip about them.

 

It didn't actually exist, but reading the subsequent bickering between the rest of his friends made Jimin laugh out loud and forget his tears.

 

Jimin had plenty to be thankful for already, but no longer having the stress of the competition was definitely another one. He could sleep now; he could come home from work and do absolutely nothing, and it'd be fine.

 

He could go drinking with his friends.

 

Jimin texted Jungkook and hitched his backpack over his shoulders, ambling over to their usual exit to see Jungkook already loitering there.

 

"Hyung!" Jungkook called out, waving. "Taehyung's just outside. Ready?"

 

"Are you sure this is going to be fun for him?" Jimin asked as Jungkook pulled him by the elbow and out the doors. "He doesn't drink, right?"

 

"Not much," Jungkook confirmed, "but he says his reward is getting to watch other people make fools of themselves."

 

"Ah," said Jimin in understanding. "No wonder you get along so well." 

 

Taehyung was waiting by his idling car, casually leaning against its frame while his thumbs moved at lightning speed over his phone. He lifted his head at Jungkook's call, and his lips pulled into a wide grin. Taehyung waved enthusiastically at them both. "Hi!" he trilled. "Who's ready for a night of unlimited debauchery?"

 

"Uhh," said Jimin.

 

"He means we're going to get grilled intestines and then go to noraebang," Jungkook explained.

 

"Oh, fair," Jimin conceded. "Thanks for coming out, Taehyung-ah."

 

"Of course!" said Taehyung, as if he wouldn't have considered any other option. "After a day like today, you deserve to let off some steam, right?"

 

They piled into the car, and Taehyung drove them to a bustling restaurant packed with customers and shouting but friendly staff who moved around the tight spaces with practiced ease. A chatty ahjumma came to take their order, shooting the breeze for a little bit with Taehyung, who seemed to be a regular, and in a few minutes brought over a large pan of intestines and placed it on top of the grill at their table, sparking a fire underneath it.

 

She left the intestines to cook for a bit and came back with three bottles of soju and glasses, one bottle more than they'd originally ordered. "Service," she said with a wink at Taehyung, who responded with a cute noise of gratitude. "Where's the other one?"

 

"Oh, Yoongi hyung? He's on a business trip," Taehyung said.

 

"You tell him to come and visit when he gets back," she said, cutting up some of the bigger pieces of intestine and turning them on the grill. "It's been too long since I've seen his face."

 

That makes two of us, Jimin thought.

 

"Yes, imo," said Taehyung obediently. He smiled after her as she moved away to help at another table. To no one in particular, he added, "He's in Europe. It'll be a while before he gets back. Almost two weeks."

 

Jimin restrained himself enough not to ask when exactly Yoongi's return flight was scheduled to arrive and definitely didn't imagine a touching airport reunion just outside the arrivals gate. He filled a piece of lettuce in his palm and stuffed it in his mouth instead, listening to Taehyung and Jungkook lead the conversation elsewhere.

 

Not that it mattered when Yoongi's plane touched down; Jimin already knew: not until the competition was over. In fact, it was better in a way, that Yoongi was on some far-off continent and not a mere five-minute bus ride away. His restraint might not hold against a cheap bus fare, but definitely couldn't do anything about the cost of an international flight.

 

By the time they'd picked the grill clean, Jimin had a little under two bottles of soju under his belt and was feeling pleasantly buzzed. The kind of loose, giggly feeling that, if not entirely throwing caution to the wind, made him care a lot less about the concept of having inhibitions.

 

Which explained both his and Jungkook's perfectly synchronized performance at noraebang to EXID's Up & Down, as well as letting Taehyung record it on his phone while he whooped with laughter the whole time.

 

More drinks and snacks appeared on the table thanks to Taehyung, and about an hour and a half into their room reservation, Jungkook flagged, stretching himself out on one of the cushioned benches, head in Taehyung's lap. He still managed to sing a decent ballad from that position, earning himself 99 points from the finicky rating system before dozing off.

 

Jimin decided to lie down as well, taking up the other length of the L shape their benches were in, while Taehyung got stuck in the bend. Stretched out on his back, Jimin burrowed his head into the bench to look up at Taehyung, upside-down. "I think I'm supposed to threaten you at some point about treating Kookie right," he said. "In the name of hyung duty."

 

With no songs to play, the sound system blared a monthly promotion announcement to the backing track of excitable synth pop.

 

Fingers threading through Jungkook's hair, Taehyung said, "I'm ready."

 

"If you hurt Kookie," Jimin began, not actually knowing how to finish. He'd never really had to do this before, Jungkook's past relationships never important enough for him to feel like he had to get involved. Being slightly drunk and sleepy at the moment didn't much help either. "Um, if you hurt Kookie, I will break into your house and wrap everything in an inch-thick layer of plastic film. Like, everything. Toothbrush, individual socks, faucets, bed…"

 

Taehyung nodded. "I understand." He cocked his head, an amiable look on his face. "You want me to threaten you now? For Yoongi hyung? Dongsaeng duty."

 

"Hit me, bro," said Jimin, a hiccupy giggle escaping.

 

"Mm, if you break Yoongi hyung's heart, I'm going to hire an airplane banner service to fly over your workplace every day announcing what a tiny dick you have," said Taehyung.

 

"Nice," said Jimin in appreciation, lifting his hand up for a high five.

 

Taehyung laughed and slapped his palm.

 

They were possibly doing it wrong.

 

"But really," said Taehyung, "he seems a lot happier since he met you. I mean, except for the part where he was making himself miserable, but that's his own fault."

 

Jimin tried not to visibly perk up. "Does he talk about me?"

 

Taehyung hummed a note of disagreement. "Not especially, but he's never told me much about personal stuff. He keeps things to himself a lot. Unluckily for him," said Taehyung, tapping Jimin's nose, "I've known him too long and have the passcode to his house, so I notice things."

 

Flopping over with force onto his stomach, Jimin said, "You can't say things like that and then not spill."

 

"Remember that drawing you did of him once? The weird circle with legs?"

 

"It also had arms, thank you," said Jimin. "But go on."

 

"It might be up on the wall in his home office now," said Taehyung.

 

Blushing with surprised pleasure, Jimin wished he had a pillow to giggle into. His arms would have to suffice. "What did he say when you saw?"

 

"Pretended it didn't exist and kicked me out, and then made me promise not to tell," said Taehyung. His eyebrows shifted up slightly, and he lifted a hand to his lips. "Oops. Oh well, that was a while ago. Times have changed and we must change with them."

 

Despite enjoying this little nugget of information, Jimin said, "You're bad at keeping secrets."

 

"I know," said Taehyung, as if excited to have a flaw.

 

"But you're good for Kookie," Jimin appended, "so it's cool."

 

"Huh?" said Jungkook, roused suddenly from hearing his name. "Where?"  

 

"Here," said Taehyung and poked Jungkook in the stomach.

 

Jungkook squeaked, his body folding in half like the snap of a clamshell. He scrambled to his knees, affronted. "You're dead," he said, the intensity of the threat somewhat marred by his pout and ruffled hair. He swiped the noraebang's tambourine off the table and shook it, its gentle jingling doing even less to back him up. "I'm gonna wring your neck with this tambourine."

 

"That's a novel way to go," said Jimin, popping a stale shrimp cracker in his mouth.

 

"Really inventive, babe," Taehyung enthused.

 

Jungkook's eyes narrowed in slight confusion. "I feel like you're ganging up on me." He looked between the two of them, suspicion in full bloom on his face. "What were you talking about while I was out?"

 

Jimin smiled. "Nothing important."

 

*

 

As expected, Yoongi had received the news about Jimin's ousting, which was why Jimin opened the door the day after to another flower delivery -- a little less ostentatious in size this time -- with a card that read, Proud of you - Hyung.

 

Jimin set it happily in the center of the kitchen table for the time being; by the time meals and other projects rolled around he'd have to move it elsewhere, but he liked being able to see it where he was.

 

Though he didn't have his own projects anymore for the competition and was already starting to feel something like withdrawal without the adrenaline-pumped feeling of having to rush home every day to practice, both Sungjae and Sejeong had enlisted his help to test their recipes and provide feedback.

 

He was more than happy to do it. It passed the time and gave him something to keep his mind on.

 

The week went by quickly, and for the first time in three months, Jimin didn't have to wake at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning to get to filming. It felt weird. Even weirder was sitting home and just about every hour wondering what was happening on set. He couldn't quite remember what his regular life had been before all of this.

 

It wasn't until late evening, of course, that filming ended, and Sungjae posted in the group chat: Everyone bow down to Queen Sejeong!

 

The chat exploded with congratulations and row after row of celebratory emojis at Sejeong's win, and Jimin squealed to himself in the empty apartment. He would have been ecstatic at any of the three finalists taking the crown, but Sejeong had been the very first friend he'd made at Chef Challenge, and somehow that made it all the more special.

 

Soon, the chat turned into plans hastily pulled together for everyone to meet for a late supper and drinks, and half an hour later, Jimin hopped out of a cab and into a barbecue restaurant. He greeted the former contestants who had already arrived before him, getting pulled into a loose hug with Shinwon and Hakyeon.

 

They had to keep it to themselves that Sejeong had won, lest it leak before the final episode's broadcast date, and in keeping with that spirit, tried their best to behave as if they knew nothing. If a few toasts were made, it was only with their best surreptitious, stealthy glances and hushed whispers, as if they were plotting a heist together.

 

Jimin couldn't remember a time in recent memory when he'd laughed so hard he started hiccupping, and the image of Yoongi glowering at him while slamming a bottle of water down suddenly popped into his mind. Jimin grinned even harder and hiccupped again.

 

His phone vibrated in his pocket, and Jimin excused himself to check it and make a run to the bathroom.

 

On his phone was a message from Taehyung: Yoongi hyung will be back on Friday in time for the watch party. You'll be there right? (v^°)

 

Jimin's heart leapt about a thousand feet. The production crew were throwing a viewing party at the studio so everyone could gather for one last time and watch the final episode's broadcast together. He'd been planning on attending to begin with, but if Yoongi was going to show as well, then nothing short of a hostile alien takeover was going to stop Jimin from being there.

 

*

 

Jimin stood in the doorway of his bedroom, glancing nervously at the bathroom. He hadn't spoken to Yoongi in a long time, out of necessity, but he was still getting flowers, and considering Taehyung passing along intel on Yoongi's near future whereabouts, Jimin was fairly sure that Yoongi was still interested.

 

The question was, Jimin mused as he worried his lower lip between his teeth, exactly how interested?

 

"Hyung, what are you doing?" said Jungkook, appearing in the hallway.

 

"Do I, um…" Jimin began, then felt his face go hot. Why in god's name was he considering asking Jungkook about this? "Never mind. Go away."

 

"Okay," said Jungkook with a shrug, "but if you turn up in front of Min Yoongi with that constipated look on your face, don't blame me. I tried to help you."

 

Jimin grimaced, which probably didn't help the pinched air about him. "Do you think Yoongi will want to fuck me?"

 

"I take it back, I don't want to help you," said Jungkook.

 

"Yes, you do. You're always in my business," said Jimin.

 

Jungkook lifted a shoulder in concession. "Fine, then yes. Is this about what you're wearing? Because I don't think you want to wear those joggers to the watch party. They do nothing for your butt."

 

"No one asked you to look at my butt. And I know what I'm going to wear. It's just…" said Jimin, feeling silly to voice his uncertain thoughts aloud. No doubt continuing this conversation would only make Jungkook agree. "I don't want to jinx myself? If I assume that we're going to fuck and if I prep and then it doesn't happen and then it'll be like I--"

 

"First of all, this is the dumbest thing you've ever said," said Jungkook, "and the competition was already stiff as shit. Second, you should always assume he wants to fuck you."

 

He slapped his hands onto Jimin's shoulders and turned him around, marching them into Jimin's bedroom and in front of the full-length mirror hanging on the inside of an open closet door. "Look at this stupid face," he said, squishing Jimin's cheeks with his palms. "It's heinously attractive. Who wouldn't want to do you? Besides me, because I think you're gross."

 

Jimin's reflection frowned at Jungkook's just over his shoulder. "How is this both uplifting and bullying at the same time?"

 

"I'm gifted, like my mom always said," Jungkook replied with a grin, pressing Jimin's cheeks in with every other syllable. "Anyway, so what if you prep yourself and then he doesn't fuck you? Then you come home and film yourself to show him what he missed."

 

"What did your mom think you were gifted in, exactly?" Jimin asked.

 

"In life, obviously," clipped Jungkook. Once again, he pushed Jimin by the shoulders to go wherever he wanted, which this time was apparently towards the bathroom. "Now you go make yourself all sexy, and while you're doing that, I'm going to tell Taehyung every detail about this conversation."

 

"I should have murdered you when I had the chance," said Jimin.

 

Jungkook shook his head in mock disappointment. "You just don't want it enough."

 

He walked away, and a second later, Jimin heard him starting up some game on his tablet. Jimin shut the bathroom door and stared at his face in the mirror. He didn't want to have unrealistic expectations -- about anything. It wasn't about the sex, really, not all of it. It was that, for all he knew, absence had made the heart grow less fond, and Yoongi was planning on turning up to let him down gently.

 

Jimin shook his head to dispel the thought. He couldn't let some nebulous fear get in the way. What he had to go on were Yoongi's words and actions, and he should at least afford Yoongi the benefit of his confidence.

 

After washing up, Jimin put on a simple shirt and blazer and a pair of his fanciest jeans that at least Jungkook would approve of as butt-worthy.

 

"Yes," Jungkook confirmed, "he'll definitely want to put his dick in that."

 

They took a taxi together to the Chef Challenge studio, Jimin fidgeting the entire way. He wasn't sure he'd felt this nervous even during judging, his heart barreling at light speed and ready to burst into a shower of tears and confetti at the first sight of Yoongi.

 

It was with slight disappointment but mostly relief that Jimin and Jungkook arrived at the set -- which had been decorated beautifully with faux foliage and strings of twinkling lights to the effect of a cozy outdoor affair -- with Yoongi and Taehyung nowhere in sight yet. It at least gave Jimin the opportunity to say hello to and catch up with various staff members, along with the other contestants and the family or friends they'd brought, rather than staring at Yoongi the whole time.

 

His own parents wouldn't be here to witness him in all his fourth-place glory, but even though they'd have gladly gotten on a plane for this, Jimin had told them not to. It'd be a waste of money for them to come all that way just for a viewing party when he hadn't even won anything, and besides, he wasn't sure he was ready to introduce Yoongi to them yet. They'd be so nice and scare him off immediately.

 

"Jimin-ah!" Ilhwa called out from a few feet away, a smiling man standing next to her.

 

Jimin waved happily and went over to say hello, glad to see Miran with her as well. It hadn't been that long since he'd last seen either of them, and they were both active in the group chat, but he couldn't stop grinning at seeing all the contestants in the same room again.

 

"Noona! And noona!" Jimin greeted them.

 

"Have you lost weight?" Miran asked him suspiciously. "You've been taking care of yourself, right? I made a lot of banchan this week, do you want me to give you some? Give me your address. I'll bring some by tomorrow."

 

"Don't badger the poor thing," laughed Ilhwa. "Jimin-ah, this is my husband, Dong-il. He watched the show every week and rooted for you so hard!"

 

Jimin bowed in gratitude. "Thank you. You must be so proud of Ilhwa noona!"

 

Her husband shrugged, though his face shone with admiration for his wife. "She's all right, I suppose," he said, then grinned and put his arm around Ilhwa, pulling her in snugly and smacking a kiss to her temple. "I kid, honey. You've done so well."

 

Ilhwa glowed under the praise and said to Miran, "Where did your boys go?"

 

Rolling her eyes, Miran jerked her head towards a corner of the room where two young men were talking to Hani. "Embarrassing their mother trying to chat Hani up," she said. "I suppose I should go and save them from themselves."

 

While Miran stalked off to pry her sons away from Hani, Jennie and Lisa ran up, hand-in-hand, to squeal their hellos to Jimin and Ilhwa.

 

After chatting with them for a while, Jimin excused himself to get a drink, feeling his throat starting to go dry at the imminent prospect of seeing Yoongi again. He took in more of the décor as he wandered the set looking for where the refreshments were.  

 

Rows of chairs had been arranged in front of the large screen that had previously been used to show their cooking timer, and a little bit behind the chairs were long trestle tables on which myriad enticing finger foods and beverages had been placed.

 

Jimin was just getting himself a soda when Namjoon sidled up next to him, some sparkling fizzy drink in his hand.

 

"Oh, Jimin!" said Namjoon, giving him a hearty handshake. "Good to see you again."

 

"You too, PD-nim," said Jimin brightly.

 

Namjoon smiled. "You don't have to call me that anymore now that the show's done," he said. " Yoongi and I hang out outside of work a lot, so if you guys are together, you might as well call me hyung. Don't you think?"

 

"Uh, what?" said Jimin. "Did you-- You know? You… knew?"

 

Chuckling, Namjoon said, "Like I was going to let Yoongi quit the rest of the season for no good reason. He told me." His smile softened. "It was the right decision, but all the same, it must have been hard on you, especially him going no-contact."

 

"Oh, I…" Jimin didn't know quite what to say. It had been hard. There had been so many times he'd wanted to coincidentally bump into Yoongi in the streets for the sole purpose of shaking him by the shoulders and telling him to stop being such an idiot. But, in the end… "He's worth it," Jimin said.

 

"I feel like I should throw up," said Namjoon, frowning at Jimin's sudden sentimentality. "But I'm also really happy for you guys, so I'll restrain myself."

 

"Thanks, hyung," said Jimin.

 

"Oh, yah, Manggaeddeok!" came Seokjin's familiar voice, and not long after that, Seokjin's arm slung around Jimin's shoulder. He lowered his voice conspiratorially. "I heard about the general manager from Serendipity calling! That must be so exciting."

 

"Huh? Serendipity… You mean the restaurant?" Jimin said, brow furrowing. It was the only thing he could think of, the Gangnam-based restaurant that specialized in European contemporary cuisine. He'd never set foot in it, but it featured in top twenty lists constantly. "Called who?" 

 

"Joon!" said Seokjin.

 

Namjoon landed a light whack on Seokjin's arm. "You know we're not supposed to tell them about those yet."

 

Brushing off Namjoon's chiding, Seokjin said, "Ah, it'll all start tomorrow anyway, and today is practically over." To Jimin, he explained in a happy sing-song voice, "They're interested in you."

 

It didn't seem much of an explanation, so Jimin turned to look at Namjoon for help.

 

Namjoon sighed. "Fine, but as soon as this conversation is over, it never happened. Remember when I said there were a lot of people interested in hiring you?"

 

"Ha, see, you already talked about it before," Seokjin pointed out. "And you're scolding me for doing it? This disrespectful kid."

 

Barely suppressing an eye roll, Namjoon said, "Anyway, Serendipity's one of the places that inquired about you. The thing you made for Illusion Week -- they really want to have that on their menu, apparently. And you on their staff." He paused to take a more considerate view. "I mean, you still have to go through interviews and stuff, but you know. They seem to like you."

 

"Ah, he's a shoo-in. Anywhere!" said Seokjin. He positioned an upturned palm underneath Jimin's chin. "Who would turn down this cute face?"

 

"Not me!" said Taehyung, popping up from somewhere behind Jimin.

 

Jimin turned to face him, a cheerful response submitting to a quick death on his tongue as he caught sight of Yoongi trailing behind Taehyung. "Yoongi hyung," he breathed.

 

"Park Jimin," said Yoongi with a soft smile, and in that instant, all of Jimin's previous doubts melted into nothing.

 

While Yoongi greeted a couple of staff members walking by, Jimin was only vaguely aware of Taehyung grinning and clapping his fingers together in quiet excitement and Namjoon pulling Seokjin away on the pretext of saying hello to someone else who'd just walked in. They seemed to dissolve into the background, not much more than blurry white noise.

 

Jimin took a step towards Yoongi, desperate to rush forward and hug him, but still had enough wherewithal to hold himself back with so many other people milling around.

 

Taehyung positioned himself in front of them like some kind of bodyguard to afford them a semblance of privacy, turning to wink at them once.

 

"He's so embarrassing," Yoongi muttered, rubbing the back of his neck.

 

"How have you been, hyung?" Jimin asked.

 

"Terrible," said Yoongi. "I missed you."

 

A smile flared onto Jimin's face, his heart lighting up equally bright. "Me too. Thank you for the flowers. And the bear. I listened to your voice every day."

 

Yoongi seemed to be fighting a grin, ducking his head slightly. "What are you doing after this?"

 

"Nothing," said Jimin.

 

The lights overhead dimmed a little, and a crew member announced that the broadcast would be starting in a couple of minutes.

 

As the others in attendance began to gravitate towards the seating area, Yoongi reached out a hand, his fingertips gliding over Jimin’s wrist. It was such a simple and incomplete touch, but it made Jimin’s whole body shiver.

 

Yoongi leaned in. "Come home with me."

 

The rawness of his voice made Jimin’s breath catch in his throat, his heart racing forward like it was being called home.

 

"Yes," Jimin said, as if there was any answer but that.

 

Yoongi's smile was the warmest beam of sunshine under which Jimin wanted to curl up forever. "Okay," he said. "Meet me later? At our usual exit?"

 

Jimin nodded, swallowing a laugh at the fact that they had an exit that was now considered theirs. He allowed himself a quick squeeze of Yoongi's hand, then went to find a seat next to Jungkook and Taehyung, just in time to cheer along with everyone else when the broadcast started with the familiar Chef Challenge logo lighting up the screen and Hoseok introducing the show with his usual flair.

 

Though his mind was half on Yoongi, Jimin thoroughly enjoyed watching the final episode, prouder than anything of his friends as they met challenge after challenge and showed their mettle through several unexpected setbacks, proving why they were the finalists.

 

And even though he'd known for a week already that Sejeong had won, Jimin still clutched his fingers together throughout most of the viewing, gasping at the sight of Sejeong accidentally cutting her finger while cleaning a fish, wincing at Ilhwa nearly dropping a pan of hot oil on herself, sympathizing with a quiet groan when Sungjae's handmade mandu skin came out slightly wrong and he had to start all over, precious time wasted.

 

In the end, Sejeong's salt-crusted fish from the second round that the judges could find absolutely no fault with carried her to victory.

 

The crowd erupted in applause as the credits rolled, and someone turned the lights back up. For several minutes after, it was all a tangle of hugs and cheers and group selcas.

 

It was a while yet before Jimin was able to pull himself away. Eventually, with promises to meet up with his friends again soon and plans to go to Sungjae's house to sous vide everything they could get their hands on, Jimin slipped out of the room, not quite able to avoid Jungkook hissing obnoxious, lewd encouragement at him as he left.

 

Yoongi was already waiting at the exit, hands in his pockets. He smiled as Jimin approached, and without the distraction of everything else at the watch party, Jimin now had the proper opportunity to drink in the sight of Yoongi. He looked amazing in just a simple black suit, slim and dapper and beautiful.

 

Jimin had waited long enough. He strode up and took Yoongi's face in his hands and kissed him.

 

He felt a quiet, tensed gasp against his mouth, then Yoongi's lips pressing back against his, soft and pliant. It was everything Jimin had ever imagined, warmth suffusing his body as Yoongi held him so close he was sure Yoongi could feel the flutter of his heart.

 

They kept the kiss gentle and chaste, a bookmark to come back to.

 

Pulling away a little, Yoongi leaned his forehead against Jimin's and drew his thumb over Jimin's bottom lip. "Shall we go?"

 

"Yeah," said Jimin.

 

Yoongi held out his hand for Jimin's. "Is it okay if we walk? My place is only about ten minutes from here."

 

Jimin had no objections; in fact, with Yoongi looking at him like that, all fond and tender, Jimin would gladly walk to the ends of the earth. He took Yoongi's hand and they headed out together, strolling down a quiet but well-lit, landscaped path. "How was Europe, hyung?" he asked. "Which part did you go to? What did you do there? You were gone so long."

 

"Italy and France. I took a couple of courses out there," said Yoongi, "on some new techniques and sustainable practices. Walked around a lot. Ate a lot. Wished you were there with me a lot. Almost fell down some cathedral stairs. That's about it."

 

"Hyung," said Jimin, swinging their arms together, "how can you be so good at talking about food and then so bad at describing literally everything else? Like your room, that time I asked. All I know is that it's plain." 

 

"Well, you're going to see it soon anyway, aren't you?" said Yoongi.

 

Jimin pursed his lips, trying to will the flush away from his face at the implication. "Okay, but it's not like I'm going to see Europe, am I?"

 

"I'll take you with me next time," said Yoongi casually.

 

"Careful," said Jimin, "I'm gonna hold you to it. Even if I have to sneak into your luggage as a stowaway."

 

"What? And make me pay the ridiculous overweight baggage fee? How could you?"

 

"Who are you calling overweight, hyung?" Jimin demanded in mock outrage, but couldn't keep it together for long enough and laughed.

 

Yoongi's feet slowed, his eyes lit up with an affectionate smile. He turned his body to face Jimin and lifted a hand to caress Jimin's cheek. "Jimin-ah, you know I really like you, right?"

 

Jimin nodded.

 

"Good," said Yoongi. "I don't know if I ever actually said."

 

His insides welling up with warmth, Jimin stepped forward and pressed another kiss to Yoongi's lips. There was no surprised hesitation this time, Yoongi's lips parting easily for him. Gently, Jimin sucked Yoongi's bottom lip between his teeth and he heard a minute groan drift into his mouth.

 

Yoongi drew back and tugged on Jimin's hand, cheeks flushed and pretty underneath the glow of an overhead streetlamp. "If you keep doing that, we'll never make it home."

 

"It's not my fault that I've been deprived all this time," said Jimin, though he let himself be pulled along the pathway -- at a quicker pace than before, it seemed like. "That's all on you, hyung. I can't be held responsible for the fact that you're so cute."

 

Shaking his head, Yoongi chuckled and said, "I could say the same about you, and yet here I am restraining myself in public like a model citizen."

 

"Sounds like you're just not motivated enough," said Jimin airily. "Do you even want to kiss me, hyung?"

 

Yoongi gave him an arch look, which was the first indication that Jimin had made a strategic error. The second, by which time it was already too late, was Yoongi pulling him into a dark patch of shadow from overhanging trees and grabbing Jimin by the waist to bruise a hard kiss to his lips, open and hungry.

 

Wind curled and susurrated through the leaves above them, keeping a raspy rhythm to the rapid hammering of Jimin's own heart. Yoongi brought one hand up to the back of Jimin's head, fingers a tight comb in his hair, and Jimin heard himself moan softly against the swell of Yoongi's warm, wet lips.

 

His hands raked up Yoongi's back, desperate to hold him as close as possible. Jimin opened his mouth and their tongues met in a hot slide as the kiss deepened, sending a rush of heat through him.

 

So much for keeping things chaste, with Yoongi claiming Jimin's mouth for his own, sparking fire to burn all around him. Distantly, Jimin wondered how long he could stand, his body electric and shaken and close to combustible already from the intensity of Yoongi's kiss alone.

 

As if he could hear Jimin's thoughts, Yoongi stepped back, breathless but more than a little smug at Jimin's momentary speechlessness.

 

"Unfair," Jimin wheezed. "You can't do that and then just-- just--"

 

"I think I did," said Yoongi, grinning, Cheshire cat-like.

 

"And you expect me to restrain myself now?" Jimin whined.

 

Yoongi giggled, which would be the most adorable sound Jimin had ever heard if he wasn't currently out of his mind. Yoongi grabbed Jimin's hand, brushing his lips across the ridge of knuckles, and said, "Come on, we only have a little bit to go."

 

"Is it too late to get a cab?" Jimin asked, looking around in vain.

 

"I have to say, this is amazing for my self-esteem," said Yoongi.

 

"And I'm a lot easier than I thought," Jimin grumbled, but he sidled close to Yoongi and pressed up against his side. "Hyung, you're mean."

 

"That was hyung teaching you a lesson not to start things you can't finish," Yoongi said, tapping Jimin on the nose.

 

"I was just saving it for later!" Jimin protested.

 

Yoongi pecked his cheek. "Okay, baby," he said, probably to be patronizing, but Jimin was mollified anyway, thrilled to be called that in person and that Yoongi was wantonly displaying affection in public -- not that there was really anyone else walking around at the moment.

 

It wasn't long before Yoongi pointed out a high-rise apartment complex, in the lobby of which a security guard loitered and nodded a quick greeting to Yoongi as they came in.

 

They rode the elevator up in silence, but still holding hands, and they got off at the top floor. When Yoongi opened the door to his place, he gestured for Jimin to enter first, and Jimin was met with the sight of floor-to-ceiling windows that looked upon a broad, twinkling view of the city below.

 

"Wow," he breathed. "This is so nice."

 

Jimin stepped into a pair of soft house slippers that Yoongi laid out for him and went to the window to get a better view of the nighttime cityscape while Yoongi got them both glasses of water.

 

"I can't believe you live here, hyung. It's beautiful," Jimin said, careful not to get fingerprints on the window glass, or a nose print. He accepted the water gratefully, a little thirsty from their walk activities.

 

"Seems nicer now that you're in it," said Yoongi.

 

"Can I see your office?" Jimin asked.

 

"Sure," said Yoongi, leading Jimin by the hand to a room just off the main living area, where -- just like Taehyung had said -- Jimin's drawing had been framed and hung up on the wall right by the desk.

 

Jimin grinned at Yoongi. "It really is there! Taehyung told me."

 

"I must not pay him enough," said Yoongi with a twist of his mouth. "Spilling all my secrets like that."

 

"Don't worry, it was well-intentioned. It was only part of him threatening me to treat you right," said Jimin.

 

"Why? Were you thinking of being mean to me?" Yoongi asked, lifting an eyebrow.

 

Jimin took Yoongi's glass of water from him and set it down on the desk, along with his own, so that he could run his fingers along the lapels of Yoongi's jacket. "I would never," he said and leaned in to kiss Yoongi.

 

It took no time for them to pick up where they'd left off, urgent, open-mouthed kisses that made Jimin's knees want to buckle. Only now there was no reason they needed to stop, nowhere to go and nothing to hide.

 

"Hyung," Jimin breathed, tilting his neck back as Yoongi moved to mouth at his jaw.

 

He let Yoongi nudge him towards a wall, its presence solid at Jimin's back and something to hold him upright while everything about Yoongi's touch threatened to bring him to his knees. Jimin had never wanted anyone this badly before, the force of his need straining against his chest, pounding a furious drumbeat in his pulse.

 

Yoongi returned to his mouth, their teeth clacking together in desperation, and sucked on Jimin's lower lip until it wrenched a moan from Jimin's throat. Jimin arched away from the wall slightly as he felt Yoongi's hands pushing his blazer off his shoulders and heard it drop to the floor.

 

It was only polite to return the favor, Jimin tugging Yoongi's jacket open and yanking it off him. He spread his hands over the firm planes of Yoongi's chest and felt the fervent heartbeat underneath it match his own.

 

Breaths ragged and harsh, Jimin pulled back to look at Yoongi, a sudden sense of wonder sweeping over him, an incredulity that this was what he had.

 

Yet Yoongi was first to speak the very same thoughts, his eyes roaming over Jimin's face. "I can't believe you're really here," he said in a hushed voice that made Jimin's heart twist almost painfully.

 

"I'm here," said Jimin. 

 

Like waves meeting the ocean, they crashed together again, inexorably destined for one another.

 

With a quick flick of his wrist, Yoongi untucked Jimin's shirt and moved his hands underneath its hem to burn against Jimin's sides. Already it felt incredible to have just this much of Yoongi's hands on his skin, yet Jimin wanted more.

 

He fumbled with Yoongi's belt, lifting the strap end out of the first loop and trying to bend back its buckle. "What the fu-- I," Jimin grunted, struggling with the belt for what seemed like an eternity, but it wouldn't give under his hands. "Wh-- What is this, some kind of chastity belt?"

 

He felt Yoongi shaking against him, silent breaths of laughter huffed into the skin at his neck.

 

"Don't-- Hyung, it's not funny," Jimin said, though he couldn't help the giggle that burst out of him. "I'm trying to-- Your belt is defective."

 

Yoongi pulled back, still laughing, and took Jimin's face in his hands. With a fond smile, he said, "It's not defective; you're just bad at this."

 

"Rude," gasped Jimin and slapped him on the shoulder.

 

"But still so adorable." Yoongi grinned and kissed his pout away to make up for it. It should have been alarming how quickly Jimin's indignation melted away from the warmth of Yoongi's smile and the heat of his lips, but he'd practically already forgotten what they'd been talking about, his head fuzzy and full of Yoongi.  

 

Pulling away once more, Yoongi undid his belt himself, stripping it from the belt loops in one smooth movement and tossing it aside.

 

"I loosened it for you," said Jimin mulishly.

 

"Mmhm," said Yoongi with a smirk. He unbuttoned his pants and shoved them down, then pressed a palm to the wall just next to Jimin's head for balance as he peeled his trousers off, socks pulled away with them, eyes trained on Jimin's face.

 

Jimin felt his mouth go dry at the sight of Yoongi's erection straining against his black briefs. He wanted to know what it would feel like in his hands, his mouth, deep inside him. "Shit, hyung," he breathed. "You're so hot-- I want-- Can I touch you?"

 

In answer, Yoongi took one of his hands and pressed Jimin's palm to his cock, his eyes fluttering shut in pleasure. He let out a soft moan as Jimin stroked him and moved to fondle his balls. "Jimin-ah… Fuck."

 

Watching Yoongi give himself over to Jimin's touch sent electricity coursing through his veins. Jimin curled his free hand around the back of Yoongi's neck to draw him in close, mouthing at his throat. "Wanted to do this for so long, hyung. I didn't think I'd ever get to," he said, between long, wet kisses to the column of Yoongi’s neck. Jimin’s hands curved around the tops of Yoongi's thighs to palm his ass. "Didn't even know if you wanted me the way I wanted you."

 

"Fuck that," Yoongi rasped. He hooked his fingers under Jimin's chin and bruised a kiss to his lips. "I'll show you how much I want you. How much I want to make you mine." 

 

He moved a hand behind Jimin's thigh and lifted, bringing Jimin's knee up to his hip. Yoongi angled himself forward, his cock pressing flush against Jimin's groin. A gasp stuttered out of Jimin's throat.

 

"You feel that, baby? Can you feel what you do to me?" Yoongi said against the shell of his ear, his breath hot and harsh and intoxicating. "Should I tell you how many times I got off to the thought of you? Imagining taking you up against the wall, bending you over my desk, watching you fuck yourself on my cock?"

 

Yoongi's words tightened Jimin's stomach into a taut, nearly unbearable coil of humming nerves. Even if he could form the words at all in the static nothingness of his brain, Jimin could barely speak them, capable only of whimpers and gasps, his whole body concentrated on the pleasure of grinding his hips against Yoongi's. 

 

Yoongi pulled Jimin's shirt apart and threw it on the floor, warm hands skimming over his ribs. He rolled his thumb over one of Jimin's nipples, then bent his head to suck on it.

 

Jimin's head fell backwards, hitting the wall with a dull thud that hardly registered above the sound of the whine Yoongi pulled from him. "Hyung, please," he panted, though he wasn't even quite cognizant of what he was asking for. He brought shaking hands up to Yoongi's shirt buttons, determined to get to Yoongi's bare skin.

 

Shrugging the shirt off, Yoongi grabbed Jimin by the hips and kissed him again, hard and wet and hot, and dragged Jimin along down the short hallway to his bedroom.

 

He pushed Jimin onto the bedcovers and followed quickly after, crawling over Jimin, knees on either side of his hips. Propped up on his elbows, Jimin watched, licking his lips, Yoongi's deft hands work his jeans open, his stomach contracting with anticipation as Yoongi pulled them off. "God, I want you so much," Yoongi said.

 

"Fuck, hyung," said Jimin, his eyes squeezing shut as Yoongi moved up to mouth at his cock through his underwear.

 

"I bet you're gonna taste so good," said Yoongi. He curled his fingertips into the waistband of Jimin's underwear and eased them down his hips, releasing Jimin's cock, already leaking and shiny with precome. He dipped his head down, taking Jimin's cock in one hand. Looking up at Jimin through his eyelashes, Yoongi darted his tongue out at the wet head, licking up the taste of him.

 

Jimin cried out softly. He never could have imagined that this would ever be real, that his fantasies would be anything but that -- fantasies. Feeling the need for Yoongi's skin, for this moment to feel exactly as real as it was, Jimin pulled him up roughly by the arms and kissed him, fingers twisting in Yoongi's hair. Yoongi responded eagerly, opening his mouth to Jimin's at once. Jimin tasted the hint of salt on his tongue and moaned into his mouth.

 

He splayed his hands across the expanse of Yoongi's back, skating them down his shoulder blades and spine, then underneath his briefs. Jimin squeezed the firm flesh of Yoongi's ass, making Yoongi buck his hips a little, then pushed his briefs down to his thighs.

 

"Shit, hyung," Jimin said. He licked his lips, staring at Yoongi's erect cock, hard and marble smooth. He wanted to rub his face on it. "You're so hot, fuck."

 

Yoongi pulled his underwear the rest of the way off and lay himself half on top of Jimin, his cock pushing at the outside of Jimin's thigh. "Yeah?" he murmured, pressing gentle kisses to Jimin's jaw. "Like what you see?"

 

"Fuck yes," said Jimin.

 

"What do you want hyung to do to you, Jimin-ah, hm?" said Yoongi.

 

The sultry tinge to his slow, deep voice alone might make Jimin fall apart, waves of heat crashing over his body. "Anything you wanna give me," said Jimin, angling his head down so he could catch Yoongi's lips with his. "Anything, please, I just need you."

 

Yoongi kissed him hard, one hand trailing down Jimin's stomach to wrap his fingers lightly around his length. "How about I start with my fingers," he purred, "and then fuck you with my tongue?"

 

The desperate sound that surged up Jimin's throat, falling somewhere between a whine and a growl, was as good as a yes, and Yoongi maneuvered him onto his front, where Jimin drew himself up so he could balance on his elbows and knees. Yoongi kissed the knobs at the base of Jimin's spine and kept one hand on his hip as he reached over to the bedside table to root around in a drawer.

 

A bottle of lube in his fist, Yoongi tossed a condom packet onto the bed for later. He clicked open the bottle, then seemed to change his mind, closing it again.

 

Jimin whined, shifting backwards. "Hyung, why--"

 

Yoongi slapped him lightly on the ass. "Patience, baby boy. Just want to do this first," he murmured, unruffled, then spread Jimin's ass cheeks with his hands.

 

Jimin cried out and almost collapsed into the mattress as he felt Yoongi's tongue lapping at his rim. "Oh, fuck-- fuck, hyung," Jimin blathered.

 

"You like that?" Yoongi asked, sounding as if he knew full well. "You like my mouth on you?"

 

"God, yes, yes, please--"

 

Yoongi licked at the tiny ridges of his rim, peppering kisses to the skin around it.

 

The lube bottle clicked open again, and Yoongi squeezed a liberal amount of it onto his fingers. Jimin looked back briefly to see him warming the lube up between his fingers, then Yoongi pressed a fingertip to Jimin's rim and kissed his back through the initial discomfort that filtered up in his voice. "Feel okay?" Yoongi asked softly.

 

Jimin grunted a yes. "I can take it, hyung. Please, more. I want more."

 

"You're so good, Jimin-ah," Yoongi said, rubbing the side of his thigh, and pushed his finger in deeper. "God, you're so tight. Can't wait to get my cock inside you."

 

Jimin moaned and pushed back against Yoongi's hand, but Yoongi took his time, careful and slow. He added more lube and another finger, burying them deep inside Jimin, his accompanying words alternately soothing and incendiary, until Jimin was almost in tears with how much he wanted Yoongi to just take him apart.

 

When the slide became easier and easier with three of Yoongi's fingers fucking into him, Jimin gasped out, "Please, please, hyung. Please, fuck me."

 

Like lightning, Yoongi pulled his fingers out, making Jimin whimper softly, only to push his ass cheeks apart again and thrust his tongue inside Jimin's hole.

 

"God, fuck-- ah--" Jimin cried, his head falling onto the pillow in front of him.

 

He might have crumpled altogether were it not for Yoongi's hands holding him steady. But hearing Yoongi moan against his skin as he fucked Jimin with his tongue only made the sensation ever more shattering, like he was being blown to pieces from the inside out, simultaneously excruciating and exquisite a feeling.

 

Yoongi snaked his hand forward to lightly tug at Jimin's cock, seemingly determined to torture him into an early grave.

 

"Hyung, please, please, god," Jimin said, through cracked, effortful breaths. "Please, I need your cock, please, hyung. I-- I don't wanna come unless you're inside me."

 

Yoongi drew back, breathing heavily through his mouth. "On your back then," he said.

 

With Yoongi's help, Jimin shifted onto his back, drinking in the gorgeous sight of Yoongi before him, eyes dark and hair mussed, a light sheen of sweat shimmering at his forehead. Yoongi wiped his chin with the back of his hand and smiled at Jimin while trying to get his breathing under control.

 

"You look so good like this, baby," he rasped as he rolled the condom on and slicked himself up. "Waiting and ready for me to fill you up."

 

Jimin's cock twitched in response. He couldn't properly describe the feeling of having Yoongi rake his eyes up and down his body like that, so exposed and open. He wanted to be swallowed up, to be engulfed entirely by Yoongi's touch, for Yoongi to be his whole universe. 

 

Yoongi leaned forward, something shifting and shining in his eyes as he looked over Jimin's face. He brushed his thumb over Jimin's lower lip, then replaced it with his mouth, soft and sweet. "I adore you, Park Jimin," he breathed. "Every inch of you, inside and out."

 

"Hyung…" Jimin whispered.

 

Yoongi lifted Jimin's knees over his thighs. Then, holding him by the hips and locking Jimin's eyes to his, Yoongi eased his hips forward, the tip of his cock pushing at Jimin's sensitive rim. Murmuring praise and encouragement as Jimin fisted at the bedsheets, Yoongi pressed further in.

 

His tongue had felt good before, amazing, but this-- Jimin could scarcely breathe. His head was spinning and his chest tight with the beautiful, delicious, agonizing feeling of Yoongi's cock stretching him and filling him up. Slowly, Yoongi pushed his cock deep inside Jimin, until there was no further to go.

 

"Shit, Jimin-ah…" Yoongi said. He bit down on his bottom lip, a harsh breath blowing out through his nose. "Fuck, you feel so good."

 

Having Yoongi buried inside him felt incredible and overwhelming all at once, Jimin’s chest close to bursting and tears springing to his eyes of their own accord. None of the previous times he'd had sex before had ever felt like this, like more than just physical pleasure, like a flame sparking to life in his heart and spreading its embers to burn in his bones and blood.

 

Yoongi leaned down and pressed a kiss to his lips so gentle it spilled Jimin's tears. "Oh, baby… Is it too much?" Yoongi asked softly. "Do you want to stop?"

 

Jimin shook his head frantically. Never, never, never. "No, don't-- Don't stop. Just… go slow, okay?"

 

Yoongi nodded and brushed another light kiss to his lips. He bracketed his arms by Jimin's sides, then gradually dragged his hips back, pulling almost halfway out of Jimin, before easing in again. Jimin whimpered, nearly unable to hold himself together, but he lifted his hips slightly to encourage Yoongi to keep going.

 

"You're doing so well for me, sweetheart," Yoongi murmured, the endearment almost bringing tears to Jimin's eyes again. "I've got you."

 

Slowly, Jimin acclimated to Yoongi's glide and pace, and he wanted all that Yoongi could give him. "More, hyung," he said, touching his fingers to Yoongi's. "Please, I want it."

 

"Okay, baby," said Yoongi.

 

He moved slowly in and out of Jimin a few more times, then began picking up his pace. Jimin's back arched underneath him, mouth open in a continuous gasp. Yoongi snapped his hips forward, thrusting deep and hard, sweat beading on his chest. He shifted one of Jimin's legs over his shoulder, adjusting the angle and hitting a sweet spot deep inside Jimin.

 

"Fu--uhh," Jimin groaned, the sound ripped from the depths of his being. He couldn't take much more, the edges of his vision starting to close in.

 

Hands scrabbling and useless over the bedsheets, Jimin cried out again and again as Yoongi's cock drummed relentlessly against that spot, turning the backs of his eyelids a blinding white. He could barely tell where his body was in space anymore; all he knew was Yoongi, Yoongi, Yoongi.

 

"Hyung," he managed to grate out, "I-- I'm-- g'nna--"

 

Yoongi reached out for Jimin's neglected cock and wrapped loose fingers around its length. "Look at me," he commanded.

 

Jimin fought against his body and pried his eyes open, catching Yoongi's gaze. He held it for as long as he could while Yoongi continued thrusting hard into him and stroking his cock, the intense, ardent look on Yoongi's face throwing him over into a supernova of wild, bright, bursting starlight.

 

Yoongi stroked him through his release, spurts of hot come falling in white ribbons across his stomach and chest.

 

"Sh-- I--" Jimin said, though he didn't even know what he was trying to say. "Ngh--"

 

Yoongi pressed his face into the side of Jimin's knee, grunting as he continued rutting into Jimin, close to edge himself.

 

"Hyung, yeah--" said Jimin, his tongue heavy. He tightened his walls around Yoongi's cock. "Give it t'me."

 

Yoongi abruptly stilled with an aborted cry, and Jimin felt the tremors of Yoongi's body pass through into his. Jimin kept a hold on him, clenching at Yoongi's cock, until he felt the strain leach out of his body. Yoongi fell on top of him, smearing Jimin's come everywhere between their bodies.

 

"Fuck," Yoongi groaned, exhausted, into Jimin's neck.

 

Jimin slid soothing hands up and down Yoongi's back. "Agree," he said with a light laugh.

 

"You're fucking amazing," Yoongi said, muffled against Jimin's skin.

 

"'M not," mumbled Jimin, looking for somewhere to bury his face.

 

Yoongi lifted his head, eyes half-lidded with fatigue and his mouth open in a half-smile. "After all of that, you're being shy now? You're ridiculous," he chuckled and kissed Jimin on the cheek. Reluctantly, he pushed himself up onto his elbows, frowning at the mess he'd made, and eased himself out of Jimin.

 

Jimin made a small noise of dissatisfaction but sat up and followed Yoongi to the en suite bathroom so they could clean themselves up.

 

While Yoongi waited for the tap water to run warm, he tied off the condom and lobbed it in a trash can. Jimin took the opportunity to observe him from the doorway, unable to keep the smile off his face, wondering just how he and Min Yoongi had gotten here. He was so, so beautiful; Jimin had no idea how he'd ever thought the opposite before.

 

"Didn't anyone ever tell you it's rude to stare?" Yoongi asked, with a quick glance towards Jimin as he wet a washcloth under the tap then wrung it out.

 

"Can't I stare at my own-- um," said Jimin and clacked his teeth shut. He'd been about to say boyfriend, but they hadn't really gotten to that point yet, hadn't talked about it at all. It wasn't as if they were Jungkook and Taehyung, and Jimin could just say it and it'd be true. Those a-holes.

 

"Your…? Yoongi prompted, coming over to wipe the dried mess off Jimin's stomach. His movements were slow and gentle, and Jimin bit his lip, not wanting to say anything too sappy too soon.

 

"My, um, Yoongi hyung?" he said.

 

Yoongi raised an eyebrow at him. "Oh, hm," he said, while he cleaned himself off. "I was sort of hoping you'd say 'boyfriend' there, but if you--"

 

"Really?" Jimin cut in. "You want…?"

 

"If you'll have me," said Yoongi with a small smile. He busied himself rinsing out the washcloth at the sink, but Jimin could see his cheeks flushing a little pink in the reflection of the mirror. Yoongi wrung the washcloth out again, then set it to the side. He seemed not to know what to do with his hands now, frowning at them. "But I'm not trying to pressure you or--"

 

Jimin strode forward and cupped Yoongi's face in his hands. "I want you, always," he said, and kissed Yoongi.

 

And kissed him and kissed him, until they fell into bed again, boyfriends.

 

*

 

Jimin woke feeling sated and pleasantly sore. Though the space next to him on the bed was empty, he could smell strong coffee brewing and the faint sounds of Yoongi moving in the kitchen through the closed bedroom door. A smile bloomed on Jimin's face and, even though there was no one to see him, he pressed his face into the pillow, as if that would keep a safe lid on his happiness.

 

He reached out to touch the corner of Yoongi's pillow, bits and pieces of the night before coming back to him with more clarity as he slowly grew more awake with a soft beam of sunshine warming his face.

 

Jimin could scarcely believe any of it had happened, but he was in Yoongi's bed, wearing a pair of Yoongi's pajamas, and had spent most of the night holding Yoongi in his arms. As far as dreams went, it was probably his best, and Jimin wasn't about to test-pinch himself.

 

Rubbing his eyes, he eased himself out of bed and went to the bathroom, squeezing toothpaste onto the extra toothbrush Yoongi had given him the night prior. After brushing his teeth and splashing some water on his face, he poked his head out of the bedroom to see where Yoongi was.

 

Jimin found him at the stove, dressed in his usual sweats and standing with his back to Jimin, getting ready to fry a few eggs.

 

"Hyung," he said quietly.

 

Yoongi turned his head and smiled at the sight of Jimin. "Good morning," he said. "I'm making breakfast."

 

Jimin walked up and slid his arms around Yoongi, pressing against his warm back and resting his cheek against the back of Yoongi's neck. "That's nice," he said, relishing the feeling of being so close. "You're nice."

 

The vibrations of Yoongi's chuckle traveled across Jimin's body. "There's coffee if you want some."

 

Murmuring a yes, Jimin made no move to get it. "I don't want to let you go yet," he said, nuzzling against Yoongi's neck. "I had to wake up all alone. It was very sad."

 

Yoongi reached behind him to pat Jimin on the butt. "Poor thing," he said, obviously without any real sympathy. "Free lodging and breakfast and still complaining. What am I going to do with you, hm?"

 

"Mm," Jimin hummed. "I don't know. I'm not really that hungry yet. You want to help me work up an appetite?"

 

"There's an elliptical in that other room and a few weights," said Yoongi, pointing with his spatula. "Knock yourself out."

 

"Hyung," Jimin whined. He hopped from foot to foot, jiggling them both with his hold still tight around Yoongi.

 

Yoongi snapped the stove burner off and moved the half-cooked eggs off the heat. He turned around to face Jimin. "Yes?"

 

Taking his chance, Jimin pecked him on the lips. "Good morning."

 

"I can see it's going to be difficult to get anything done while you're here," said Yoongi, though his eyes were warm, and he gently pushed a lock of Jimin's fringe out of his eyes. He snaked his arms around Jimin's waist and ran his hands up and down his back. "You're a lot of trouble, Park Jimin."

 

Jimin grinned. "I can always go if you don't want me here," he said, and kissed Yoongi's neck. 

 

"When did I say that?" asked Yoongi, leaning his head backwards to give Jimin better access.

 

"You tried to make me exercise, hyung," said Jimin, lightly biting the curve of Yoongi's shoulder as punishment. He lifted his head back up to kiss Yoongi on the lips again. "That's no way to treat a houseguest."

 

"Hm, how ever can I make it up to you?" Yoongi wondered.

 

Jimin kissed him, biting his lower lip lightly, and Yoongi opened up easily for him, their tongues sliding languidly against one another's. Smiling into their kiss, a part of him still incredulous that he got to do this, Jimin licked into Yoongi's mouth and moaned softly at how good it felt. He felt Yoongi's hand at the back of his head, fingers clutching into his hair, keeping him close.

 

For a few long, lazy moments, they stood in the kitchen simply savoring the feeling and the novelty of getting to kiss each other whenever they wanted, but Jimin's hands began to itch to touch Yoongi's skin.

 

He pulled back slightly, one hand trailing down Yoongi's stomach and to his already half-hard cock, and said, "How do you feel about a good morning blowjob?"

 

"I get to make it up to you by having my dick sucked?" said Yoongi. He tugged Jimin forward for another quick kiss. "I hate to tell you this, Jimin-ah, but you have absolutely no negotiation skills."

 

Jimin laughed. "It's my final offer."

 

"Oh, all right," said Yoongi with a shrug and a playful sparkle in his eye. "If you must."

 

 

*

 

EPILOGUE

 

Ahn Hani's wedding to idol star Im Hyunsik was the celebrity wedding event of the year.

 

It seemed like every movie star and idol group and top chef had been put on the guest list, and then there was Jimin. To be fair, Hani had also invited many past contestants and the crew from Chef Challenge, but they still appeared vastly outnumbered by entertainment luminaries Jimin had never seen up close before.

 

"Will you stop gawping?" said Yoongi. "They're just regular people."

 

"No, I can't," said Jimin while staring in the direction of a gaggle of guests he was sure contained at least three MAMA Daesang winners. "I can't and I won't."

 

Yoongi sighed, sliding his arm around Jimin's waist. "I can't take you anywhere."

 

To satisfy him, Jimin gawped at the décor instead. The ceremony was to take place at one of the most expensive wedding venues in the city, and it showed in its attention to detail. Every table had crisp linens and centerpieces in exquisite bloom; the ceiling was studded with hanging garlands and lights like they were in a magical forest; even the way the sunlight streamed softly into the room through the wall-to-wall glass doors seemed to come in at the perfect angle.

 

The tables were arranged to create an aisle in the middle of the room, at the end of which was a platform for the bride and groom. For a brief moment, Jimin entertained the thought of him and Yoongi standing up there with an officiant, saying their own vows.

 

They'd only been together for a little over six months -- during most of which Jimin had been steadily working his way up to being a recipe developer at Serendipity -- probably a little too early to be imagining these things. It looked good, though, in Jimin's head. Though maybe they would do theirs outdoors in some beautifully kept garden grounds with a floral arch and a gentle spring breeze.

 

Oops, that got away from him a bit.

 

Jimin felt Yoongi tugging at his wrist. "I think," said Yoongi, gesturing to a table where Taehyung and Jungkook were already seated and waving enthusiastically at them, "our seats are over there."

 

"Selca time!" Taehyung announced as soon as they got there.

 

Yoongi grumpily submitted to a couple of snaps but soon bowed out, complaining about all the photos being the same, and sat to watch the others clown around with their selca-taking instead.

 

"Don't look now," said Jungkook, sotto voce, "but I think Yoongi hyung likes you."

 

Jimin laughed and looked. His eyes met Yoongi's, and he felt a rush of warmth in his chest at the sight of the soft, fond expression on Yoongi's face. Jimin would never get sick of it, he was sure, the way Yoongi gazed at him as if he was the most precious thing in the world.

 

"Don't be silly," said Taehyung in his own stage whisper. "Yoongi hyung loooves him."

 

"Why are you all staring at me?" Yoongi asked.

 

"No reason," said Taehyung, grinning.

 

"Wasn't," said Jungkook.

 

"I love you," said Jimin.

 

It wasn't the first time he'd said it, but it still made Yoongi's cheeks go slightly pink, and he ducked his head with a pleased smile -- though the ensuing hooting from Jungkook, who decidedly had not spent the last six months growing out of his joy at embarrassing his hyungs, chased the blush away about as quickly as it had turned up.

 

Jimin abandoned Jungkook to his own devices and went to sit next to Yoongi, squeezing his hand, as other friends began arriving at their table and an adjacent one. For a short while, they chatted with Seokjin and Namjoon, while Hoseok appeared to have started some clandestine betting pool with Taehyung and Shinwon at the next table.

 

Someone at the front of the room tapped a microphone, so Jimin didn't get to find out what the betting was for, as the ceremony was about to commence.

 

The doors to the event hall eased open to a sweet swell of music from a string quartet, and Hani and her husband-to-be stepped in, in all their wedding finery, arms locked. The assembled crowd stood and clapped while the couple walked down the length of the aisle, their smiles sparkling. 

 

"That's going to be us one day," said Yoongi, leaning to Jimin's side and nodding towards the happy couple.

 

Jimin's hands stilled, mid-clap. "Are you proposing to me right now?"

 

"Hell no," said Yoongi, barely audible above the din of the guests' applause and cheers. "You think I'd be so crass as to steal the spotlight at someone else's wedding to propose to you? It's going to be much classier than that. It's like you don't know me at all, Park Jimin." He clicked his tongue in disappointment.

 

"But… you are saying you want to marry me someday?" Jimin tried to clarify while pretending to still clap. Maybe to Yoongi it wasn't a big deal, but Jesus fuck, it was a big deal. "Like… marry. Me."

 

Yoongi smiled. "If you'll have me."

 

Jimin attempted very, very hard to tamp down the delirious, happy blush beginning to bloom across his face. "This sounds suspiciously like a proposal at someone else's wedding," he said.

 

"Well, it's not," said Yoongi with an insouciant shrug. "I don't know what else to tell you."

 

Narrowing his eyes, Jimin only received a blank smile in return.

 

As the couple reached the platform, the guests sat and witnessed their vows in a happy silence. Cheers erupted again when the newlyweds kissed, and they walked out of the hall to change into traditional wedding hanboks. In the meantime, rather than a buffet station that Jimin was used to at weddings he'd been to, they were served their meals.

 

Mouth-watering grilled steak appeared in front of them, along with a lobster risotto and roasted carrots.

 

"Ready?" Yoongi asked quietly.

 

Jimin nodded with a grin, and they both cut into their steaks. Yoongi always ended up winning these little games they liked to play when they ate something new together, but Jimin was getting better and was looking forward to the day he could reach the same standard of Yoongi's palate.

 

After chewing carefully, Jimin counted down from three on his fingers under the table where Yoongi could see them. On zero, they both said, "Tenderloin."

 

"That one was too easy, though," said Yoongi, and Jimin had to nod in agreement, given that tenderloin was that much more distinct from other cuts of beef.

 

"Sauce next?" Jimin said.

 

"My god, you guys are doing this again?" Namjoon sighed once he noticed both their faces deep in concentration as they each tasted the sauce that had been drizzled over the steaks. He reached over and shook Jimin by the shoulder. "The competition is over, Jimin-ah."

 

"Not while Yoongi is still around," Jimin said cheerfully.

 

"What do you mean while I'm still around?" Yoongi asked, pinching his thigh lightly. "I'm not planning on going anywhere. Are you?"

 

Jimin leaned in to kiss Yoongi's cheek. "Nope."  

 

If there was anywhere to go, he planned to go there with Yoongi. The past six months with Yoongi had been the happiest and most fulfilling of Jimin's life; sure, they had their off days and little quarrels once in a while, but at the end of the day, they always came back to each other, ready to make amends and move forward together, stronger than before. Jimin wasn't going anywhere without Yoongi.

 

"Good, then stop stalling," said Yoongi. "Sauce."

 

Jimin smiled. "Three, two, one…"