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found in love

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i’m nervous [21:32]

[21:34] it’s gonna be okay

[21:35] i’ll be there too you know ;)

aish [21:35]

can we meet up before? [21:36]

just the two of us?? ;( [21:36]

[21:36] kkkk

[21:37] sorry

[21:37] we’re taking off in a minute

[21:38] i’ll see you soon

ok [21:38]

have a safe flight [21:39]

[21:39] ok :)

<3 [21:40]

wait [21:42]

how am i supposed to meet you? [21:42]

should i hug you? [21:43]

like, what should i do? [21:43]

joon? [21:44]

oh right [21:45]

well fuck [21:46]

 

“Attention all passengers. Do not leave your luggage unattended. If you see bags without …”

“Namjoon-ah!”

It was easy to notice him, probably due to the height and big black sunglasses, but Seokjin liked to think it was because of the dimples. These dimples were impossible to miss – and impossible to not miss, god, he wanted to kiss him.

It’s been almost a month since Seokjin saw them in real life, not through awkward selfies or morning facetime sessions, and while it was nothing compared to all the years he had to wait to get to this moment, he still had his weaknesses.

Namjoon caught his voice instantly, eyes finding him in the crowd, loud and happy “Seokjin-ssi!” escaping his mouth, and how old are they, again? Because he was grinning like a puppy, not 44 years old man, clumsily pushing through people, hurrying to get closer, and maybe that’s what made Seokjin fall for him all over again. Maybe that’s what he was always looking for.

The tall, clumsy and dimpled stopped next to him, Seokjin pushed down his mask, eyes shining as they looked at each other properly, and if only he could kiss him, right here, in front of all young and old Koreans around them, reminding that they are entering the land of freedom. If only…

“Woah, you’re so handsome.”

Two pairs of eyes were staring at him, one with curiosity, other – with uncovered awe. It was easy to recognize which one belonged to Jungkook, polite smile and tilt of the head reminding of professional posture of his father. He was reserved and quiet at the first glance, just like Namjoon always described him; next to him, Taehyung was like a volcano, red hair and shining eyes, every emotion so clear on his face it was hard to even turn away, instantly captivated with purity of the boy’s features.

Seokjin couldn’t find in himself even a bit of complaint for Taehyung’s open stare – he only smiled and nodded, pride shimmering inside (he still got it!), “Thank you.” In a moment Namjoon confirmed his guesses, introducing the boys respectively, exchange of bows immediately following:

 “Nice to meet you, Seokjin-ssi.”

“Thank you for having us, Seokjin-ssi!”

Even their clothes looked like they were picked up on different continents, the dark, loose concept of the younger one contrasting with soft colored and stylish shirt of his boyfriend. They looked comically fit together, too self-aware to touch but keeping as close to each other as possible.

“It’s my pleasure.” He bowed in return, feeling three gazes now, all soaked with attention, and habitually pushing the thought away, smile only growing wider. “So, how was…”

“Wait, you are… Oh my god, you are Kim Seokjin, I mean, the Kim Seokjin, right?” Taehyung’s eyebrows suddenly jumped up.

Oh, here we go...

He couldn’t stop a quick glance from darting Namjoon’s way – the man only shrugged, content smile not leaving his face even for a second – and turned to the boys again with amused chuckle. “Yes, I am the Kim Seokjin, one and only, you can’t find anyone like me anywhere else.”

“No, but I mean ‘The Most Beautiful Moment’, ‘Wide Awake’, ‘I am the One’, oh, I loved it so much!” Taehyung looked like he will start jumping right there, fidgeting on the place with excitement, eyes wide and adoring as he turned to his boyfriend. “Jungkook-ah, you remember?”

The boy scoffed with amusement, “Of course,” looking at brimming Taehyung with his own adoration, before quickly turning to Seokjin, a glimpse of guilt appearing in his eyes, “but it was great! Really! I’m sorry if it sounded rude, I just… We watched ‘I am the One’ three times, so it was the question that was funny, not…”

“It’s okay, Jungkook-ah,” Seokjin couldn’t stop a wide grin from spreading all over his face, barely hidden laughter making his voice tremble, as he reached out to pat the boy on the shoulder, “you don’t look like a person that would offend a stranger.”

Namjoon next to him let out a cough, poorly hiding shy laughter behind the palm. Adorable. Why he was always so adorable.

“And yes, that’s me.” He turned to Taehyung again – but the boy already shifted his attention, curious gaze studying green hills in the distance, now barely recognizable in the fog.

Also, about that…

“Why are you, guys, dressed so lightly?” Seokjin scanned their outfits once again: shorts, shirts, dark blue jacket on Jungkook’s waist, yup, first time in San Francisco.

As soon as he turned to Namjoon, accusation and silent question written all over his face, the man shook his head. “I told them. But they’re not kids,” he sent a pointed look the boys’ way, emphasizing last words with bemused expression, “so I left them alone.”

“But it’s sunny, look!” Taehyung pointed outside, where bright morning sky was streaked with thin clouds. Two men quickly exchanged amused looks.

“I hope you at least packed some warm clothes,” Seokjin said with quirk of an eyebrow, the boys hesitantly nodding, clearly not realizing yet what’s with all the fuss. “Good, then we have to hurry, I parked outside and quite far from the entrance. Here, let me help you.”

He automatically reached out for the biggest suitcase, too big for a 5-day vacation – but Namjoon quickly caught his hand. “It’s okay, Seokjin-ssi, thank you.” Their eyes met for a second, and Seokjin had to bite his own cheek to not let out a teasing remark, only smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

“Okay.”

But with the way the man chuckled, he knew the remark was heard all the same.

They went through the crowd of all ages and nationalities, Seokjin immediately catching t-shirts and loose-fitting hats of the first-time tourists, oh, what a surprise was waiting for them outside. It was mid-August, and while warmer, lighted up sunny days were appearing more and more often, Karl the Fog was lingering in the doorway, bidding goodbyes and leaving promises to come back soon all over the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite the sunny weather, as Taehyung accurately noted, chill breeze was blowing over the city since very morning, promising a thick cloud of fog before noon.

Seokjin was thinking through the possibility of leaving the walk to the beach for another time, when a string of beeps came from his right side, attracting attention just in time to see Namjoon’s smirk directed at the phone in hand.

Oh right, the messages.

It was too late to talk about it now, so all Seokjin could do is throw a quick glance at the couple a few feet in front of them – Taehyung was excitedly pointing at the glass installation on the roof, Jungkook was excitedly listening – and scrunch his nose at Namjoon, who was now looking back with fondness. Yes, he doesn’t want to mess up with the boys’ first impression, and what about it.

Namjoon chuckled and turned to look at his son as well, a visual cue for Seokjin to follow the gaze, yearning for an open expression of affection smoldering inside. They couldn’t yet, not here, not now – but he wanted so badly, and a sudden feeling pierced through him again, reminding of the time years ago, when he was being hidden like…

Long, cool fingers brushed against his wrist, traced invisible lines over his palm before sliding between Seokjin’s own and gently squeezing. Namjoon was smiling at him with warmth and love, not even bothering to look around, dimples, these seductive, wonderful, so fucking adorable dimples shining like Seokjin’s own stars.

He was always so, so weak for this smile, guts tightening at the sight, heart purring in his chest, and Namjoon, sweet and lovely Namjoon, was still oblivious.

Just like he often was.

Oh, I’m sorry!

Their hands darted from each other.

“Dad, come on,” Jungkook said in Korean, more tiredness than accusation in the voice, before turning to the owner of the backpack his father accidentally pushed and slightly bowing, the girl looking more confused than irritated. “Excuse us, he’s always like that.

It’s true.” Namjoon sent her a sheepish smile, the girl already waving dismissively and murmuring words of acceptance with a small smile of her own.

Everything Jungkook had to tell was written in his eyes. “I’m serious, dad, you have to be careful, what if something will… Wait, what the fuck.”

"Kim Jungkook!"

Seokjin chuckled, throwing the hood over his head.

They finally left the building, and cold wind rushed to embrace them, smell of the ocean Seokjin was so used to already seeping through exhaust fumes. Now his previous words finally reached the kids’ ears, young couple almost jumping with every step and silently asking to hurry as they were going through parking lot, rumbling of Namjoon’s suitcase following them from behind.

“Now, second, let me think how to fit all of your luggage in.”

They finally stopped next to his black Hyundai, Jungkook quietly shivering, Taehyung almost pouting next to him, “Can we think about it inside, Seokjin-ssi?”

“Taehyung-ah.” There was a hint of discontent in Namjoon’s voice, lips pursed, but Seokjin only laughed, patting the boy on the shoulder.

“Sorry, of course, you’re right,” he moved to open the car, not forgetting to add a teasing, “it’s still sunny though, isn’t it?”

The boys didn’t even react properly, only bowed with stumbling thanks and hurried to get into the vehicle, leaving all bags behind. Jungkook peeked out from the almost closed door though, stuttering out a high-pitched “Do you need help?” and disappearing as soon as Seokjin shook his head, unable to stop himself from laughing.

It was very cold indeed, he felt it too, but seeing the boys’ genuine surprise and frustration was amusing enough to keep him outside.

“Sorry, usually they are much more polite.” Apologetic smile appeared on Namjoon’s lips, Seokjin’s laughter dying away as he moved to pick up Jungkook’s backpack and Taehyung’s bag from the ground.

“They are very polite, don’t worry.” Seokjin looked back as soon as he straightened up, his own smile growing wider and softer as their gazes met, lingering for much, much longer than they had to before finally parting. “Now, let’s try to fit it all in. Didn’t know yours will be that big.”

“Love that phrase.”

He just had to use that voice, huh, that breathy, hoarse, sex voice in front of the children (okay, technically they were adults, but come on), hadn’t he? Even if they couldn’t hear – he made sure to say it low enough – Seokjin still felt a rush of warmth, fucking reflex or something.

It’s not that he was weak for any reference to sex after a month of containment, he was a grown man after all.

It’s that he was weak for any reference to sex with Namjoon, because, god, was it in the top 3 of the best experiences of his life, and no, not now, Seokjin-ah, get yourself together.

“Don’t hear it that often?”

He couldn’t just let it slide, right?

But Namjoon only let out a husky laughter, pushing his own hoodie down, revealing dark hair, still messy after the flight, and nodded, “No, not as often as I’d like to.” They lingered behind the car, eyes shining with something more than just warmth, taking each other in slowly and thoroughly, until Seokjin felt breathless from just a stare.

“We’ll work on it, don’t worry.” His voice was now low and breathy as well, heart picking up the pace, muscles of his stomach tensing for a second before Seokjin turned away. “So, how’s your first impression of joyful and sunny California?”

The boys inside whined in unison as a gust of cold wind rushed into the car as soon as he opened the trunk.

“Actually, it’s not my first time here.” The flame of Taehyung’s hair fidgeted, the young man turning to watch the suitcase being placed inside. Seokjin demonstratively bent over to send him a skeptical look through the opening, Taehyung quickly catching the gaze and giggling in response. “No, I mean not here, in San Francisco, but in California. My family wanted to send me to high school in Riverside, so I went there for two summers to study English.”

“And you never heard of our ‘beautiful’ summers?”

Taehyung shrugged, warmth of the car bringing back his vigorous grin. “I heard it’s cold in here, but I always thought it’s cold in terms of California weather, not, like, the usual scale.”

“Well, now you know.” Seokjin sent him a wink, checked if everything was in place, and closed the trunk, Namjoon already standing next to the front door, waiting for him.

Seokjin just couldn’t let the chance slip away, smirk making its way on his face, “Wanna drive?”

Namjoon’s annoyed but fond expression was priceless, eyes rolling, but lips unable to hide a smile. Seokjin could tease him for the rest of his life – and that’s exactly what he was planning on doing.

“One day I’ll pass the test and get that license, just for you.”

They finally settled on their places, vibration going through the car as Seokjin turned the engine on, grin still present on his face. “Yeah? I’m flattered.”

“Yeah,” Namjoon shifted on the seat next to him, joking confidence in his voice, “and then I’ll drive you all over the Bay.”

“I’ll be eagerly waiting.” He leaned back on the seat, voice almost laughing, hands habitually lying on the steering wheel, tingling sensation spreading under skin. It was always so comfortable to be next to Namjoon, to exchange whatever small remarks they had, to express love in quiet voices and small smiles, to…

Wait, did they just flirt in front of his son?

Seokjin blinked a few times, trying to understand if they should try to do something about it, and looked at the man, hoping he’ll understand the implications – but Namjoon was staring at the sky, blissed smile on his face. And which one of them was going to come out in the next 48 hours, again?

But Namjoon looked so careless, so boyish and happy Seokjin couldn’t even be mad at him for not thinking about what was to come, instead quietly scoffing and throwing a quick glance at the mirror. The couple in the back were holding hands and staring outside as well, not a hint of big realization on their faces. 

Seokjin sighed with relief – overthinking was his superpower – and shifted attention to the car again, “So, Taehyung-ah, tell me more about Riverside,” slowly driving out of the parking lot.

 

It took them 50 minutes to reach the house, clear weather and minimal traffic allowing to slip into the city before noon. The fog was kindly waiting around the shore for them to enter the Sunset District before making first steps of its own.

After seeing the immense mass of cloudy blanket for the first time, Taehyung let out a sound of pure awe, clapping at his boyfriend’s knee and pointing at the ocean, “Look, look, woah, Jungkook-ah, it’s so beautiful, you got the camera, right?”, the boy only nodding in return, immersed in his own quiet fascination. But it didn’t last long, and soon their attention jumped to the hills, parks and San Francisco itself, so by the time the car stopped at Seokjin’s driveway, they barely paid a heed to the white haze crawling through the neighborhood.

“And you live with that all the time?” Taehyung pointed at the end of the street that was disappearing in thick cotton-like fog, disbelief and almost horror in the eyes as he turned to the local resident, Seokjin letting out a short laughter in return.

“Usually I’m at the restaurant, it’s on the sunnier side, but yeah, Karl is here pretty much all the time.” He shrugged and hurried to the back of the car, Kim family already waiting for him there, fidgeting in cold.

“Ah, right, Namjoon-hyung talked about the restaurant.” Taehyung followed him, their conversation easily flowing throughout the whole ride.

Seokjin didn’t get to know Jungkook enough, except for all the similarities he had with his father, but he definitely liked Taehyung, all the times he heard “oh, everyone adores him” from Namjoon making more and more sense. There was something about the boy’s smile and manners, his open heart and genuine admiration of the world around him that made Seokjin’s own heart warmer.

They could definitely get along - but Jungkook was a completely different story, the one that's been making him nervous from the beginning. Even now he wasn’t smiling, wasn’t looking at others, more focused on his own bare ankles and attempts to stand still than the conversation around.

“Jungkook-ah, can you help me with the suitcase?”

The boy looked up, polite smile and a quick nod, immediately moving forward to support the luggage and carefully put it on the ground, Namjoon behind him frowning in surprise.

Quiet, well-mannered young man who just preferred to keep his emotions to himself, Seokjin understood it perfectly, he really did – but… No matter how much Taehyung liked him, if Jungkook will be the one to not accept Seokjin, everything’s gonna be so bad, and so he wished to receive a smile, just one genuine smile.

“I will take the bag too, thank you, Seokjin-ssi.”

But Jungkook kept giving him an empty mask of respect, so loved in Korean houses but almost frustrating in Seokjin’s own.

The man smiled himself then, albeit joyless “Sure,” and handed the bag over, their eyes meeting for a second before Jungkook turned away to look for his boyfriend. Taehyung was already squatting next to a tiny alpaca figurine on the stairs and murmuring something. It was a cute thing indeed.

“Hey,” a gentle touch to his elbow, an even more gentle note to Namjoon’s voice, eyes looking at him with concern, “you okay?”

Oh. He got upset enough to let it slip out?

Not that Seokjin had anything to hide from Namjoon, but opening his true worries in front of two boys that barely knew him was not the kind of behavior he could allow himself as an actor. Well, ex-actor, but you know, some things get into your head for good, especially when you spend almost 30 years on them.

“Yeah, it’s okay.” He smiled shortly and closed the trunk, knowing perfectly that Namjoon didn’t buy it, but also knowing himself that it’s not the time to get through this conversation again. “I’ll help you to the door, come on.”

Namjoon must’ve been tired of this already, but Seokjin just couldn’t help himself, not when it was coming back to his family. “He’s a very sweet boy, he’ll love you”, “you don’t have to worry, it’s gonna be okay”, “I will not leave you in any case”, “I will be there too, you know ;)” – Namjoon was repeating over and over again, but his own words were still ringing in Seokjin’s mind.

“I love my wife, I love my children, I love my life.” 

Through all these years he carried the memory of the glimmering eyes and honest, pleading voice. He was coming back to it once a week, once a month, once every half a year, to wonder if Namjoon told his wife, if their relationships cracked because of him, if Seokjin ruined the life of the nicest, kindest person he ever known by letting him stay back then.

He knew that, technically, none of it was his fault, that Namjoon was a grown man and relationships with his wife were his responsibility, not Seokjin’s, so even if they did break up because of what happened, he was not the one to forcibly push Namjoon into this direction. Namjoon took the first step on his own – but still, lying at night, alone or with somebody, looking at New York from an airplane, noticing couples kissing in the dark corners of the bars, he was thinking about it, fear that their meeting could bring pain to Namjoon clawing his own heart.

And now all of it was coming back to him, anxiety that Jungkook might not like him, might refuse to accept him following everywhere since the three of them bought tickets. Namjoon was joking that in the worst case they’ll be able to sell their story on how homosexuality ruins families and maybe even get a paycheck from some conservatives – but Seokjin wasn’t laughing.

As much as he was sure that Namjoon is the person he wants to spend the rest of his days with, Seokjin didn’t know if he’d be able to forgive himself for taking him away from his son. And that doesn’t even cover the fact that he’ll have to meet Sangmi as well…

He turned off the engine and sighed, placing forehead on the wheel. Garage was quiet and dull, as unwelcoming as always, the only difference is barely distinguishable voices from above. He has to do something about it, bare walls and depressing silence meeting him every day – but it’s been only six months since he moved in, he’ll get there.

Usually, Seokjin didn’t stay here for long, hurrying to get to the kitchen, or bedroom, or bathroom – but now it was perfect for splashing in his own pool of dumb thoughts, yay. He knew he has to go back there, show the boys his confidence and charms, work for that good impression, just like with producers and cameramen – but for now Seokjin suddenly felt tired, staring at his own knees. Why can’t everything work out on its own? Why can’t Jungkook just like him?

Well, somehow he managed to stay in this field for more than half of his life, surely he’ll figure out how to play with the boy’s mask. It won’t be hard, he still has time, just focus on the task and stop stressing out about the possibility of your partner’s heart being broken, that’s all.

“What’s wrong?”

Seokjin startled and quickly turned around, Namjoon already closing the door with his back, concernment clear in the features. Of course, he would come, of course. Fondness was quick to spread all over Seokjin’s mind, pushing out all other thoughts, smile involuntarily appearing on his lips.

“Nothing, just nervous.”

“Is this about Jungkookie?” His voice was so honest, so genuinely worried, Seokjin didn’t know what to do with all the affection bubbling inside as he moved, Namjoon waiting for him next to the door.

As soon as he came close enough, the man caught his hand, tugging even closer, looking attentively in the eyes. “Don’t worry so much, he’s just quiet and keeps to himself. But he likes you.”

“Yeah, sure,” Seokjin automatically dismissed, hands wrapping around the other’s waist for a loose hug, Namjoon’s fingers already rubbing circles around his neck.

“Alright, Kook doesn’t show much, but Taehyung definitely likes you, which is already a big plus, and oh, look, I like you too, so what does everything else matter?”

Namjoon was grinning, showing off his dimples again like Seokjin wasn’t already melting into him, too deprived of intimate contact to resist, his own smile growing wider. “You like me?”

“Yeah.”

Seokjin hummed, nose gently bumping into his. “You sure?”

“Oh, I’m so very sure,” Namjoon’s lips finally came forward to press against his, still mumbling quietly, “so, so sure.”

There always was something exhilarating about kissing Namjoon. Maybe it was because of the original circumstances, maybe because they were still seeing each other quite rarely, maybe because it was as close to love as Seokjin ever got, but it always felt special, it always felt like something worth waiting – one month, eleven years, or whole life.

Seokjin knew his lips were pretty, mom’s friends not forgetting to mention while praising his face, stylists complimenting when they were in a good mood, some weird journalist writing an article about them instead of spending time on something meaningful – but what was it worth without a person he loves to kiss them? No one, ever, touched him the way Namjoon did, kissed not only with reverence, not only with lust, but with caress and honesty, putting all feelings into every movement.

It became an unwritten rule: Seokjin was allowed to lose himself – just for a second, just for a second that was already turning into minutes – to forget about everything else when Namjoon’s lips were on his skin. What does everything else matter indeed.

“Sure you want to show up in front of your son with a boner?” But Seokjin couldn’t stop himself from teasing, whispering into the man's mouth with a smirk, touches already too intimate, kisses too deep for them to stay quiet.

Namjoon chuckled, “I’m too old for this,” but acknowledged the warning, fingers shamefully hurrying to get out from under Seokjin’s blazer, lips moving to kiss his cheek instead. The man only hummed – half delighted, half amused – and pulled back to properly squint at him.

“Are you doubting my abilities?”

“Yours? Never. Rather mine.” Namjoon was already so used to his never-ending habit of turning everything into a challenge, Seokjin couldn’t even be frustrated at being robbed of a chance to prove that he can do it, only huffed and shifted into a proper hug.

They stood like this for a couple more minutes, silently bathing in each other’s presence, echoes of the past not allowing to break apart as easy as it should be by now. He could feel Namjoon’s nose slowly rubbing above his ear, warm air touching the earlobe with every exhale, so sweet, so tender, it was more intimate than any kiss. Seokjin sighed with content, nuzzling into the other’s shoulder on his own.

“I missed you.”

Namjoon was smelling of airplane freshener and his cologne – musky mixture of pine woods and citrus notes – the memories of which Seokjin carefully but unintentionally kept in the back of his mind. He was never a fan on heavy scents, but Namjoon’s was harmonizing with his own favorites – fresh and flowery – in such pleasing manner he couldn’t get enough of it.

“Not for long,” smirk was clear in the low voice, “I’ll annoy the hell out of you.”

Seokjin couldn’t keep a smile, pressing closer into his partner for a second, images quickly taking over his mind, nudging the heart to beat faster against Namjoon’s chest.

“Can’t wait.”

 

Seokjin’s house wasn’t particularly big, at least not from the outside, rather a small thing that, surprisingly, managed to fight for its own piece of lawn in fully packed Sunset District. Inside it looked more spacious, Seokjin always putting his soul into making things pretty and comfortable. When Namjoon came for the first time, his habit of paying attention to details showed off itself in full force, making Seokjin’s ears red and heart warm. It was a very special evening indeed.

Sometimes, of course, he did miss the apartment he left in Seoul, the one that was taking up an entire floor and was designed by an artist whose name Seokjin forgot long time ago. It had enormous windows from two sides of the building, separate room for home cinema, and a painting he received as a gift on his 40th birthday that costed a fortune – he figured after seeing results of the auction – but in reality was a weird depiction of a bottle of Sprite.

He liked his old place, its aesthetical lines and views of the city, in a way only single person can appreciate – even if Seokjin wasn’t single all the time, probably even less than he’d like to. There was something in walking around the huge, lonely rooms in search of a way to entertain oneself, something you eventually get used to – peace, quiet. He held parties sometimes, it was part of his job after all, but always preferred to leave the apartment for a night out rather than bring the night in.

He liked his old apartment most of the time, except for a couple of days after one of his work trips to New York, when he hated every inch of it – but overall it was quite nice.

When he was looking for a new place, though, Seokjin decided to change everything completely. He didn’t want center of the city, didn’t want big, didn’t want apartment. He wanted his peace and quiet – but warm and cozy, with a fireplace (so what if it’s electrical?), a dog (he was already looking through shelters) and, preferably, someone to share it with (Universe always had a soft spot for him).

And so, he found it – or rather, his manager contacted a real estate agent, and she found it, but whatever – a small latte-colored house near the Golden Gate Park, almost twenty minutes from the beach, with two floors, big kitchen and, yes, an electric fireplace in the living room. The latter got Taehyung’s attention immediately, the boy cooing at the glowing coal for long enough to make his boyfriend giggle.

“Alright, this one will be your room.”

After a quick lunch in the form of ramyeon – of course, covered with Seokjin’s special dressing and thin sliced pork, in addition to a whole bunch of pickled vegetables – and a couple of yawns from the youngsters, they finished the house trip in the guest bedroom. Seokjin never paid special attention to decorating the room, sure that it won’t be used for a long time, so the walls were still covered with flowery patterns, resembling the bedsheets of two single beds, and curtains still looked like they were brought from the 20th century.

Seokjin involuntarily scrunched his nose at the dull colors all over the room – yup, definitely needs to do something about it – and turned to the couple, Taehyung already sprawling on one of the beds and blissfully sniffing.

“Thank you, Seokjin-ssi.” Jungkook, as attentive as he was, lingered next to a small painting of the Golden Gate Bridge, studying it with quiet curiosity before turning to the owner of the house.

Taehyung immediately followed, “Yes, thank you for everything,” raising himself on the bed to give Seokjin a wide smile. His red hair was messy, veil of tiredness seeping through the bright face, fingers already rubbing squinted eyes – the boy looked like a child.

Seokjin gave him a warm smile of endearment, “And, again, it’s my pleasure, now rest, we have big plans for the evening,” nodded at Jungkook who was already unpacking his bags and moved to the door.

Yeah, the plans were big indeed.

But before he went out into the hallway, going deeper into the thoughts of how Namjoon is going to “deal with it”, a serious voice stopped him.

“But where will dad sleep? I hope we didn’t take his place.” Jungkook looked genuinely concerned, knitted eyebrows and pursed lips, looking at the beds with uncertainty before turning to the man.

Nervous chuckle managed to escape Seokjin’s lips despite him begging for it not to.

“No, no, don’t worry about it,” he tried to sound as confident and calm as possible, damn, he was good at acting, “the couch downstairs is okay, so, I’ll be sleeping there.”

“Oh,” but Jungkook’s frown only grew deeper, gaze darting to the bed he’d taken, “I can go there, it must be better …”

“Kookie.” There was a warning in Taehyung’s voice, unspoken wish to, maybe, talk things through before deciding on leaving his boyfriend in the company of another person. Jungkook turned to him with raised eyebrows and an answer – also unspoken but clearly seen in the serious eyes.

Before it grew into something more, though, Seokjin quickly meddled in. “It’s okay, I’m your host, Jungkook-ah, don’t worry about it,” with a reassuring smile and a wink, “also, I’m sure you two will prefer each other’s company more.”

Quiet giggle and another “Kookie”, this time soft and delightful, reached him through the already closing gap. Seokjin smirked, eyes darting to the door of his own bedroom, before moving downstairs – in search of his own source of delight.

Namjoon was still busy though, leaning on the counter with one hand, the other pressing phone to his ear, blank eyes staring at the thin veil outside. The sun was slowly going through its routine, reaching higher and growing warmer, making the fog dissipate under bright rays. The mist was still surrounding the house, but shapes of the park trees were already peeking over its fences.

Yes, they definitely weren’t ready,” Namjoon let out a polite chuckle, muffled laughter coming out of the phone.

Seokjin lingered in the doorway for a few seconds, taking the sight in: a cup of unfinished coffee on the table, quietly rumbling dishwasher, black hoodie Jungkook left on one of the chairs, and Namjoon’s back outlined by the grey light from outside. He was so used to empty rooms, meeting him every day after work, not bothered even by the noises of the park; he was so used to solitude he barely ever noticed it, automatically finding a way to entertain himself – or just sit in an armchair, enjoying the silence. He was used to being the only living soul in the house.

The difference between yesterday and today was slowly getting Seokjin, and it was not only about a bunch of kids running around – yes, technically Namjoon was younger than him as well, so take that – but rather about the warm, steady presence.

He was used to quiet peace of the house – but instead of ruining it, the low voice and fingers absentmindedly tapping at the counter were gently blending in, bringing solace and some kind of completeness. Like a crucial piece of the puzzle has been finally found, taking its place in the middle of a huge picture, bringing sense into every other line – the only piece that ever mattered.

“No, no, don’t worry about me, Mr. Losa, I’m used to this, this, uh,” Namjoon accidentally stumbled, letting out a noise of surprise in response to warm pressure on his shoulder, “this kind of weather. I’ll be there on Friday for sure.”

Without even pausing, he threw a quick glance at Seokjin, silent question in bright eyes, but the man only shook his head and smiled, cheek still pressed to his shoulder – nothing, just wanted to make sure you’re really here, just hope I can see you like that every day. And, probably, some part of the answer was written somewhere in his features anyway, because smile tugged at Namjoon’s lips as well.

“I haven’t asked yet,” his eyes turned back to the window, hands replacing the phone from one to another, “but I’ll tell him you invited, yes, personally, of course,” to let the one closer to Seokjin move behind, palm blindly finding his waist and gently squeezing. The voice on the other side was loudly and excitedly talking.

They stood like this for a couple of minutes – Namjoon still talking, or rather listening, Seokjin still pressing wide grin into his shoulder, knuckles rubbing lines against the small of his back – sharing the quiet joy of closeness, before Seokjin stepped away, as carefully and quietly as before. He could feel the other’s gaze following him to the shelf with books and further, to the doorway, where Seokjin lingered to send a wink back and go out into the living room.

Namjoon had his own plans to deal with right now, Seokjin had his own.

By the time the man followed him – still focused on his phone but going straight to the couch without a pause – Seokjin was already deep in his thoughts, studying the list of recipes from his favorite book. He decided long time ago that he’ll be the one to cook today and at home, even if lately he preferred to practice in the restaurant, tasting ingredients and testing equipment while polishing his cooking skills.

Of course, clients were receiving their food from professional cooks, not the owner – Seokjin’s cooking art was usually distributed between the workers. No one complained. According to Benjamin, he was too soft with them – but the clients were satisfied, Seokjin didn’t have time to make friends outside of work, and spending time in the restaurant was actually fun that way, so it was a win anyway.

“What do you think about marinated crabs?”

Despite his eyes still fixed on the phone, fingers quickly typing something, grimace of disgust immediately appeared on Namjoon’s face. “You are cruel.”

“Yeah, sometimes,” Seokjin shrugged, small smirk appearing on his lips, and turned back to the book. He wasn’t actually going to make Namjoon suffer, neither his mind – at the sight of tiny pincers he held close to his heart – nor his stomach. There was a huge photo of grilled pork on the page instead.

“Are you free on Friday?”

Seokjin hummed, words tearing through the images of the recipe, and nodded – a bit too slowly for such a simple question. “Yeah, I have the whole week reserved for you, why?”

“Want to come to the lunch with me? Mr. Losa asked about you – personally.” There was a hint of joking seriousness in the voice. Seokjin snorted quietly and finally turned to him, head leaning backwards to lie on the back of the couch. Namjoon threw a quick glance at his neck. Seokjn bit his lip to not smile too widely. Still got it.

“Will he be teasing me again?”

“Maybe.” It was Namjoon’s turn to snort and shift, placing elbow on the back, fidgeting to turn his whole body properly. “He just thinks you could afford a better place.” His knee was pressing against Seokjin’s thigh – the man sighed with exaggerated tiredness, palm automatically coming to lie on it.

“So what if I could, I like it here.” He pouted slightly at the end of the sentence, closing eyes when cool fingertips ran over his temple.

For a few seconds Namjoon was just quietly tracing the lines of his face, thumb caressing cheeks, gently removing hair from his forehead, lingering to rub at one of the eyebrows – Seokjin giggled then and shook his head, brushing the hand off. It was a signal for Namjoon to come back to the matter at hand. “You don’t want to come?”

“Who said so?” Seokjin squinted at him, a sort of challenge seeping into the smirk. “I will gladly tease him back, Ben promised to start learning Korean three months ago.”

“Maybe he did.” Fingers came back, this time to brush through his hair with just tips, grin spreading on Namjoon’s lips.

Seokjin only scoffed and shifted to sit upright again, gaze coming back to the book, leaving the palm to lie on the couch behind his neck. “Please, Joon, it’s like you don’t know him.”

“You’re coming then?”

“Yes,” he placed a palm on Namjoon’s thigh, squeezing for a second, eyes already skimming through the list of meat stews, “can’t leave you alone to them wolves.”

“You just don’t want to entertain the boys.” Despite the joking words, there was content and a hint of gratefulness in his voice. Seokjin only hummed in half-agreement – yeah, he kind of didn’t know what to do with a couple of teenagers on his own. “Where are they, by the way?”

“Passed out.” He leafed through the book in search of something to catch his attention. “Poor kids aren’t used to switching countries. Stir-fry or grill for chicken?”

Short hum. “Grill.”

Alright, that cut the options. Seokjin went back to the pages coded “BBQ”, one palm still lying on the other’s thigh, thumb absentmindedly stroking through jeans. It wasn’t really comfortable to balance the book on his knees and turn pages with one hand – but not enough to make him break the contact.

After a few seconds though another hand gripped his, Namjoon leaning forward to drop the phone on the coffee table and turn attention to his partner. It was a well-established fact that Seokjin was the clingy one, always yearning for warmth, always too lazy to let the other go – but it didn’t mean that Namjoon couldn’t be the clingy one either. At least sometimes. At least after a long flight.

“Can I annoy you for a bit?”

Seokjin couldn’t contain a chuckle – though he tried, he tried very hard – when that huge pile of limbs and softness fidgeted closer to nuzzle at his shoulder, an arm entwining around his to hold the palm while the other creeped its way on Seokjin’s thigh.

“You better go to sleep as well.” He squeezed the other’s fingers where they were holding each other. Namjoon huffed, still pressed to his shoulder, sound coming out muffled and rather cute than displeased.

“Don’t like to sleep on big beds on my own. Reminds me of hotels.”

“Oh right, you prefer small beds – according to your size.”

Namjoon immediately looked up, squinting at him with cautious suspicion – Seokjin laughed again, unable to stop endearment from bursting outside. The man looked sleepy and innocent, feeling of loss so typical for jet lag clinging to his face. He looked like a confused puppy, unable to process the words properly and just silently asking for an explanation.

“I meant that you’re too big.” Seokjin pressed a quick kiss to his lips before giving a confused look of his own, “You were so collected two minutes ago.”

“Got tired of being collected.”

As soon as he received the answer, Namjoon pressed himself against his partner once again, inconspicuously snuggling closer and almost knocking over the book on the way – Seokjin managed to catch it in the last second.

“Finished with work?”

“Finished with work.”

He hummed, trying to focus both on the beef marinade and Namjoon’s fingers tracing slow lines towards his inner thigh with vague intention. Warm breath on the collar of his shirt soon turned into lazy kisses – soft, long pressure, skin to skin. Seokjin swallowed. It was getting harder to maintain attention on both.

“Do you mind?” Namjoon slightly shifted, placing the chin on his shoulder – Seokjin could feel the gaze studying his face, catching it from the corner of his eye, still trying to get through the list of ingredients.

“Kind of, yeah, I’m trying to read.”

Tiny “oh” escaped Namjoon’s mouth after a second, exhale of the sound reaching the other’s ear – Seokjin scrunched from the tickling – and the palm quickly disappeared from his thigh, awkwardly lingering in the air before coming back to its owner’s side. Namjoon himself backed away as well, as soon as the words got properly processed, lost gaze darting to the side.

“Sorry.”

Something squeezed Seokjin’s heart, god, he was such a teenager sometimes.

They both had their insecurities, but Namjoon’s lack of experience in relationships and overall innocence were making it even harder, especially outside of bedroom. He was confident and well-established adult – but when it came to feelings, he was starting to mumble, and when it came to signs, he clearly needed guidance, and maybe that was one of the things Seokjin was so fond of. He was always attentive, always popular, always wanted to be there for the people he cared about, and having a 44 years old to explain the subtleties of love felt like something he was gaining experience for all his life.

“Don’t overthink. Come on,” he pressed a smiling kiss to Namjoon’s cheek, fingers squeezing his where they were still intertwined, “let’s get you into bed.” He spent a few more seconds, though, distracting the man with his lips until the frown and hesitance were nowhere to be seen.

Namjoon was soon sent to shower while Seokjin himself lingered in the kitchen to leave pork bones to soak and quickly mix marinade for the main dish. But it took him some time to find a compromise between the recipe and his own experience, changing things and tasting on the way, so by the time he entered the bedroom, the man was already sprawled on the sheets, long limbs taking up all the space.

“You sure you don’t like big beds?” Seokjin couldn’t stop himself from teasing, halting next to the footboard only to run his fingers against a still warm hill – the ankle twitched in attempt to escape, quiet groan quickly following.

“It smells like you.”

Namjoon’s voice was low and sleepy, muffled by the pillow he was hugging – the one snitched from Seokjin’s side of the bed – head quickly turning to face the owner. Seokjin only chuckled, hiding shy grin in the insides of the wardrobe, searching for the pair of home pants a bit longer than usual.

“It’s my bed, it's supposed to smell like me.”

“Not for long.”

The voice was still lazy, tiredness covering Namjoon up to the top of his head – but the unspoken promise made Seokjin’s breath hitch a bit all the same. He didn’t reply, focusing on changing his pants and taking the shirt off instead, definitely not thinking about the heavy scent of sex that was always lingering for days even after Namjoon’s departure. That the two of them were always leaving in the curves of bedsheets and each other’s skin.

“What you decided to make?”

Seokjin hummed, chewing on his lips for a few moments while pulling a thin blanket from under the other’s ankles, Namjoon slowly rolling over at the motion. “Chicken barbeque for later, and stew with pork bones for now. You think it’s okay?”

“They were staying over for the last few days. In my place. Eating food I was cooking.” The man squinted up at him pointedly, lying on his back to catch the soft material Seokjin thrown over him. “They, thank you, would be happy to finish the remnants of your soup from last week.”

“That’s… reassuring.” He chuckled, meeting Namjoon’s eyes for a second, the man smiling back at him. “You do realize it’s my duty to teach you cooking?”

Namjoon took a few seconds to think about it, getting comfortable under the blanket, eyes sleepily shutting down. “I’ll be happy to be your student. Not sure if the rest of my life will be enough though.”

“Don’t worry,” Seokjin smirked, leaning on the headboard, Namjoon’s hand groping over the blanket, “I’ll be happy to explain the difference between red pepper and paprika next to your deathbed.”

Namjoon snorted, “Sounds perfect,” words coming out in a mumble, hand finally finding Seokjin’s palm and settling with content over it. His partner didn’t say anything, only watched with fond smile as his eyelids drooped down, features relaxing as consciousness started to slip away, before reaching out for the laptop on the bedtable.

Soon enough Namjoon drifted off into his post-flight nap, quiet hums and frequent turnings accompanying it as usual; even Seokjin’s simple caress – thumb slowly rubbing his fingers while gaze was fixed on the tables and numbers – did little to soothe his rest. The body had a hard time adjusting to the new time zone, mind kept trying to kick him out of the nap. Usually with a loud inhale or mild startle, Namjoon was coming back to reality, if only for a few moments, hazed eyes mindlessly scanning for familiar presence, grip on the pillow and Seokjin’s palm tightening – before automatically relaxing again.

The cycle was repeating itself over and over, until it was time for Seokjin to slip away, with a quick peck on the back of Namjoon’s head.

 

“Feeling better?”

Taehyung only groaned in reply – that was enough though, his appearance already spoke for itself – and entered the kitchen. Bright red hair was now sticking to the left side of his head in a peculiar manner, betraying the way pillow was pressed to his face some minutes ago.

Not a trace of his wide smile now, only half-open eyes and pouting lips searching for any source of water. Long tanned legs were showing off from under the shorts – Taehyung apparently had no prejudice against showing up almost in underwear in front of almost a stranger. Unlike Seokjin, who spent too much time tiptoeing all over the bedroom in search of something good-looking but casual enough for the evening.

“Can I help you?” he offered after a few minutes of silent staring at Seokjin’s manipulations.

Namjoon warned him about the boy’s habits, but Seokjin found the long silence awkward nevertheless.

“No, it’s… Well, if you want to.”

Taehyung shrugged, taking a step closer, “Kookie is still asleep,” as if it explained everything, voice still cracking with sleepiness.

Hard to tell what he expected to change, but the next couple of minutes were spent in silence as well, Seokjin carefully measuring seasoning ingredients and throwing glances at the boy blankly staring at the boiling cabbage. The weather outside was already much better, warm and sunny, like the morning sights were coming from another dimension. Taehyung didn’t seem to notice though, focused solely on the task at hand – or so it seemed.

“Seokjin-ssi, how did you and hyung meet?”

The man spilled almost half a spoon more of fish sauce into the tiny bowl – both the raised voice and the question were sudden enough to startle him. “Didn’t he, I thought he told you?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Taehyung sent him a curious look before hurrying back to the stove, where water started to hiss under the cover’s edges.

Perfect timing. Helping the boy and replacing the cabbage with potatoes gave Seokjin a few seconds he so much needed to collect himself and find a proper answer.

“It was a long time ago,” he finally started, gaze fixed on the green leaves flowing in cold water, mind focused on the memories, god, has it been more than 10 years already? “We got stuck in one hotel in New York thanks to work. Met at the bar, then coffee shop, then dinner, and then stuck together for some reason. It all went on from there, you know.” Fell into the dumbest and longest crush only to be found again eleven years later.

He smirked at the sad-looking cabbage, pushing lush leaves into one bowl. It looked like this one was too small anyway, better find-

“For how long have you two been together then?”

-something bigger, wait.

“What do you mean?” Seokjin turned to the guest, keeping the posture calm while everything was swirling in panic inside. Does he know? Why does he know? Is he supposed to know?

“I mean, you are… dating, right? I’m not sure if that’s what it is. Maybe, there’s another word for it when you get older, this one sounds a bit,” Taehyung’s thoughts trailed off with a short hum, fingers coming to tap at his lips. He kept staring at the pot – now filled with potatoes – for a few seconds more before coming to some conclusion in his head and turning to the man again, this time with quiet and welcoming expectation.

Seokjin still had no idea what to say. He didn’t like being caught off guard like that, mask of calm confidence barely keeping emotions at bay, but his mind just couldn’t comprehend properly. He still had no fucking idea.

“Why do you think we are… dating?”

Fuck, now his ears got red. He could feel the blood warming up at the tips, it was so annoying, so embarrassing.

“Angels told me,” oh, okay, “also, couldn’t fall asleep and heard steps coming to your bedroom.” Seokjin exhaled with quiet relief – alright, this one is possible to explain. “And with all due respect, Seokjin-ssi, but you aren’t really subtle about it.”

He looked up with a silent question, only to meet a warm smile on the boy’s face, his usual cheerfulness slowly seeping back. It looked like he had his answer prepared beforehand – unlike Seokjin himself.

“You look at each other, like, all the time, and you don’t notice how often you touch. Also Namjoon-ssi is nice and friendly, but even he would get frustrated at the amount of teasing – he gets all flustered and giggly instead. As I said, you are pretty obvious. Also, you spent too much time in the garage for a simple checking…”

“Okay, I got it.” His face was red now as well, crimson quickly blooming on the cheeks. The sight was truly comical – a 46 years old famous South Korean actor blushing in front of 21 years old boy. What a headline it would be.

They were quiet for almost a minute, Seokjin digesting the information, Taehyung respectfully not pushing and only humming something under his breath while poking potatoes with a fork.

“Do I really tease him too much?”

“For my taste.” Taehyung shrugged, sending a wide grin immediately after. “But hyung is also kind of cute when he’s happy, so I guess that’s understandable.”

“God, he was supposed to tell you after dinner.” Palm came up to cover his eyebrows, eyes shutting in quiet despair. It wasn’t that bad, but Seokjin still felt guilty somehow – even though the reason Taehyung found out wasn’t solely on him.

“Jungkookie doesn’t know if that’s what you mean, Jin-ssi. He’s good at reading others, but when it comes to his father,” the boy shrugged without finishing the sentence. “Don’t think he sees Namjoon-ssi as potential partner for other people.”

Seokjin swallowed and slowly opened his eyes. Well, it was good, right? It was good. It was... good?

He was quiet for some time, busying himself with the meal preparation – it was time to remove potatoes from the boiling water anyway, meat still gurgling in another pot. Taehyung didn’t interrupt him, watching the elder’s hands just as quietly, clearly fascinated by quick and confident movements over still steaming vegetables.

“Five months. Technically.” Seokjin paused to rub at the patch of half burnt skin on his forefinger before going back to peeling, most of attention focused rather on his mind than hands.

Was it okay for him to talk about their relationships so freely?

Even though everyone but Namjoon’s family (“yes, of course he is, Taehyung is like a second son to me… god, it doesn’t count as incest for them, right?”) were aware. They weren’t particularly subtle about it indeed, but why would they have to be? It’s not that they wanted it to be public – holding hands in the park or a couple of stolen kisses on the beach was enough – but were never hiding or denying, and now Seokjin felt a bit lost.

How much could he share? How much should he share? If the boundaries were still there with Taehyung, then where exactly they lay?

Until Namjoon’s “official” announcement it still felt like an affair, at least in this house, at least for today. It had that sour taste of being something wrong. He didn’t like it, not right now, not back then, when Namjoon agreed that it might be better for all of them to get together for “the talk”.

It was Seokjin’s idea to wait. Jungkook was practically living with Taehyung full-time anyway, there was no need in hiding their night-time English lessons or long lazy morning talks about nothing, so Namjoon easily agreed to wait for the summer vacation. For the proper meeting and personal talk. For Seokjin to become a real person, man, his partner in Jungkook’s eyes, not a stranger from another continent, not a work acquaintance, not a ghost from the past. Seokjin wanted to be a part of this, from beginning to end, meeting Namjoon’s family head-on while holding his hand.

It might’ve been silly – holding onto the bitter wishes of the past, making a fuss only to beat the insecurities that were already pointless, because Namjoon was here, Namjoon came back, Namjoon chose him – but it still was important. The wall between him and Namjoon’s family was still there, and it was important for him to see it breaking with his own eyes, help it crumble with his own hands – or it would stay in his mind for the rest of his life, daunting shadow over their future.

But Namjoon had to be there with him for it to become empowering rather than nerve-wrecking. He didn’t know Taehyung enough to figure out where to step in this conversation, which bumps were hard enough, and which would pull him under water in an instant.

And so, he decided that three words were enough, at least for now, shifting his focus back to the meal instead. For a few seconds Taehyung looked like he wanted to ask something again – but decided against it as well. Instead, as soon as the proper tasks were done, he turned to the window.

The sky was clear, spilling bright blue up to the horizon, where it was touching its darker reflection somewhere behind the vague mist. Sun was shining up in the sky, unperturbed by its late appearance, slowly rolling over azure blanket.

It was around four.

“Can we go to the beach today? The weather is so pretty now!” Taehyung tipped his head to look at the host with vibrating excitement of a child. Apparently, he was fully back to his usual attitude.

“Sure – if Kim family will wake up soon enough.” Seokjin nodded in the direction of the stairs, small smile on his lips. He was still in the midst of his thoughts, politeness hiding him without hesitance. “The fog will be back in a few hours.”

“You know, I’m a Kim as well, Seokjin-ssi,” the boy dropped with a smirk, already following the man’s nod and hurrying to get upstairs.

“Yeah, me too… Looks like I needed to make Kim-chi instead,” he replied automatically, the joke already brewing in his mind for too long to miss the chance. Quiet snort came back to him.

“I always thought these puns were a part of your media image.”

Something soft peeked through Taehyung’s amused notes – but Seokjin’s head snapped up nevertheless, mind brought back into present moment in an instant. “How dare you compare my talent with cheap tricks for attention?”

He turned around, hazel eyes flaming with indignation, chopsticks readily pointing at the door – but a loud giggle was already coming from the top of the stairs, “Sorry, Mr. Kim” breaking the languid peace of the house.

Seokjin only sighed, something similar to “kids” echoing through the sound, and turned to the stove. This time the corner of his lips rose a bit higher, wrinkles forming around the eyes. “Media image,” he huffed once again after a few seconds, fishing a piece of scallion out of the broth.

Soon enough the pork ribs and vegetables were finally together, lazily bathing in the milky liquid. Rich aromas were floating in the air, nutty notes of perilla leaves freshly chapped under Seokjin’s hands making his smile warmer. Rice cooker was quietly humming on the other side of the kitchen.

Sometimes, back in the day, when Seokjin was bored or deep in thoughts over his place in the grand scheme of things, he’d go to Naver or any other social media that’d catch his eyes at the moment. He’d search for articles with his name, comments, people that were rather fans of his works, and people that rather hated most of them. He saw a lot, read a lot, felt – a lot during these moments.

But right now he caught himself thinking of people that felt bad for him. “Such a nice, well-mannered man”, “all his youth under cameras”, “never even had a chance to be” – what? Seokjin never knew. But he never worried as well, smirking rather softly at such words. It was nice of others to take their time to care about him, but he was okay. Really, he was okay.

Until he realized that he wasn’t anymore. That he doesn’t want to be there, in the middle of Seoul, with a bunch of invitations to private parties and posters to sign.

Until he realized it’s the time to move on. Find that something he, supposedly, never had. Normal life? As much as it could be now.

His parents always wanted him to get married and settle down nearby. Bring children (and grandchildren) into their already too quiet house, hand in hand with a beautiful wife. They used to hint about it a lot – and were ecstatic when he finally brought Kyungmi eight years ago. They thought marriage was near. She was the only one to appear on their doorstep.

What a shame.

The flow of Seokjin’s thoughts lingered there for a moment: on the image of blue dress and short dark hair. She cut them right before moving out. He liked them long better – but it didn’t matter anymore.

“You promised you’ll think about it. You promised we, you and me, will grow into something more. I can’t wait, Jin-ah, I want family, I want home, not a place for you to come back to for a few hours. It’s a bird cage, Jin. I can’t wait anymore.”

What a shame.

Media were spreading rumors about his supposed fiancée for months, but well, was it the first time?

He liked being in some kind of stable relationships – but could never offer any stability himself. Korea, Japan, France, movies, ads, festivals, actresses, managers, security guards, bars, parties, hotel rooms. He was everywhere, with everyone, all at once, his attention span encircling the whole planet.

Maybe, that’s why Namjoon caught him in a matter of days without even trying. Showed the way to find meaning in every step, allowed to breathe through honest conversations, tied him up to the present moment – without even trying.

What they had, then and there, couldn’t wait for later – because there was no later.

Was only Namjoon, with his sad eyes and shy giggles, big hands and open heart, billions of stories and one ring that mattered more than all of them put together. The most real person Seokjin had ever met.

 

“Hello, Mr. Kim, I hope it’s okay that we slept for so long.”

You slept for so long – I’ve been up for over an hour.”

Seokjin only smirked, watching the younger couple quietly bicker, words hastily turning into light tickles and elbowing. Jungkook looked much more self-conscious than his boyfriend. He was already fully dressed, loose dark t-shirt hanging off his shoulders, toes sticking from under pajama pants; his hair wasn’t perfect – but was diligently combed at least, traces of sleepiness only lingering in the corners of his eyes.

Apparently, they were heading towards bathroom – weight of red-haired and brightly grinning 21 years old on his shoulders wasn’t troubling Jungkook in the slightest – when Seokjin caught them, hand still lying on the railing.

“It’s nothing, Jungkook-ah.” As soon as the boys’ attention returned to him – only partially, their fingers still pinching (or holding?) each other – Seokjin pouted. “And I told you, call me Seokjin.” He was going to use his potential to the fullest, wasn’t he?

Taehyung only glanced at him with understanding before hiding a giggle of amusement in the younger’s neck. Jungkook, on the other hand, stayed as calm as ever. “Of course, Seokjin-ssi, sorry, I’ll try to remember this time.”

For a moment Seokjin considered banging his head against the wall.

“The dinner is ready – try not to eat too much, or you won’t be able to fall asleep later.” He suppressed a sigh and instead pushed another polite smile out. “I’m going to wake Namjoon up.”

“Okay!”

“Thank you, Mr. Kim.”

The host waited for them to close the bathroom door (yes, Taehyung followed his boyfriend inside as well) before allowing his shoulders to drop down, blank gaze scratching the door for a second longer. Okay, Taehyung likes him, it’s already something. The rest needs more hard work, that’s all.

He let the sigh out and moved towards the door on the other side of the hallway.

“Hey, you still asleep?”

Stillness of the room barely changed since he left it – almost an hour ago indeed. The pile of dark blue material and caramel tanned limbs fidgeted at the sound of his voice, the mop of dark hair turning. That way Namjoon’s face was even seen from the doorway, eyes still closed, brows knitted, displaying just how unhappy he was about being awake – but lips moved around the word all the same.

“Yes.”

Seokjin chuckled, stepping closer to the bedside, fondness rushing over him without any warning. “How are you talking to me then?” It felt a bit like talking to a child, conversation without much sense, kept just for the sake of love shared in between words. He squatted, lowering himself next to Namjoon, just to get closer to the other’s face, puffy and cute.

“Maybe, you are just a dream?” The voice was still groggy, thick with sleep and dehydration but sensible enough to reveal the truth: despite the quiet complaint – both in words and pouty lips – Namjoon had been awake for some time already.

Seokjin immediately huffed, first reaction to take the words as a mindless, half-joking compliment (that it probably was). He even had a vague plan to reply with something as cheesy and witty, leaning forward to rest elbows on the mattress and smirking – but then an odd, deeper feeling took over him.

Namjoon’s face was right in front of him, eyes lazily squinting from the pillow, glistening with a mixture of amusement and affection, probably reflecting Seokjin’s own. He looked relaxed, open, almost vulnerable, like it was his home already. Like he trusted Seokjin with everything. Dark hair was messed from uneasy nap, bangs falling on the forehead – Seokjin carefully pushed them back.

It was a simple action, a short movement, but something changed in the air. Namjoon’s hand moved, too slow to actually catch the wrist – but Seokjin wasn’t planning on taking it away. Long fingers grazed against his cheek before moving down, to playfully tap on the wing of the nose. Namjoon immediately scrunched at the touch. Something inside Seokjin pinched in response.

“Not a dream,” he added with gentle affection, watching Namjoon blinking through the double meaning, fingers holding Seokjin’s wrist gripping tighter, pulling somewhere forward.

“Not a dream,” the man confirmed with soft chuckle, filled with happiness rather that any sort of amusement. “Come here.”

“What, now?”

“Yes.”

“But the boys…”

“...can wait a minute longer.”

“Just a minute?”

They both giggled, Seokjin easily following the other’s hand despite the hushed protests. He was the clingy one after all, “The food is almost ready,” murmur already sliding down Namjoon’s collarbone.

The man only hummed, closing his eyes again, unperturbed by the weight pinning him down. Seokjin didn’t bother with looking for a proper position, just climbed on top of him, knees to waist, chest to chest, elbows caging Namjoon’s shoulders. Palms came to hold his waist in response, finishing the intricate composition of limbs and bodies.

It was warm. It was nice. It was comfortable. They could have a minute indeed, only…

“Joonie.”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“You… Namjoon-ah!”

Seokjin almost shoot up – the joint in his lower back let out a weird sound, barely noticeable pain skipping past him in a familiar manner – catching the other’s hands and guiding them back up. Blood was boiling on the tips of his ears, embarrassment clashing with a wave of arousal, god, why he had to be so sensitive there.

It’s not like other people don’t enjoy some butt stimulation, but at least they have other places to focus on: neck, chest, ears, or – like Namjoon – a particular spot right under hipbone. So many body parts to choose, why then he had to get an additional bunch of nerves in the ass? It was a source of all kinds of comments – from cooing to straight up offensive – but he couldn’t do anything about it. If only he had a chance to choose…

Although Namjoon liked it, so maybe he’d decide not to change anyway.

Even now he was grinning like a cat that got the cream, not a trace of innocence or guilt in his features, thumbs rubbing circles into Seokjin’s waist.

“You think this is funny?” Seokjin pursed his lips in half-pout, joking frown creasing his forehead. Of course, Namjoon wouldn’t laugh at him, they both knew it well enough – but Seokjin still fidgeted like he was planning to get up, if only to play along. Reaction was immediate.

“I think it’s amazing. I think you are the most amazing person in the world.”

And this man was 44? Seokjin huffed, allowing Namjoon’s hands to catch his wrists and pull back down, pout faltering under pressure of fondness. “You allow them to touch your ass once – and they flood you with compliments.”

Their fingers mindlessly groped for each other, entwining in the air, Seokjin’s arms gently pushing down, Namjoon’s – as gently pushing up for balance. Similarly, the gazes were holding onto each other in the tightest embrace, unable to untangle, unable to tear apart. Skin was warm, movements slow and unfocused, soaked with exhilaration and intimacy. Time was barely reaching the other side of the bed, dragging over the sheets. The rest of the world barely existed.

Namjoon smirked up at him, sweeter than honey, warmer than sun, eyes glimmering in the dimmed light of the room. “I think they are just weak for you.” His voice was still low but not with sleepiness now – only desire to not disturb their closeness. “I think they’d flood you with compliments anyway.”

“Yeah?” His heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t a dream?

“Yeah.”

“You think so?”

“I just know it,” Namjoon gently pulled him down, “Trust me,” in a whisper already as their smiles finally met, physically pressing against each other.

He was weak. He was so fucking weak for him.

“Seokjin-ssi?”

They almost jumped up at loud knock on the door, quiet creak revealing Taehyung’s curiosity. While Seokjin was unable to come up with anything but a nervous giggle, pushing his face into the pillow next to Namjoon’s head, the palms on his waist stilled. Namjoon blinked at the ceiling for a few moments before hurrying to lift his head and look at the door from behind Seokjin’s shoulders, a hint of tightness to his voice.

“Taehyung, you can’t come in without permission, it’s not your…”

“It’s okay, it’s okay.” The owner of the house came back to his senses pretty quickly, although muffled chuckles were still reaching him through absurdity of the situation.

He turned back, where Taehyung was already fiercely pouting at the prospect of receiving a fatherly lecture, grumpy gaze boring into Namjoon. The boy quickly caught up with the situation though, seeing Namjoon obediently going quiet under Seokjin’s voice, and sent a wide grin the latter’s way.

“What did you want, Taehyungie?”

“We are hungry, and the stew smells delicious, and can you hurry up please?” He let out everything in succession, eyebrows rising in expression of innocent plea – before the effect was ruined as soon as he finished the speech. “Figured you might be busy, so you know, just a reminder.”

His childish grin turned into a smug smirk too fast for Seokjin’s taste – but could he blame the boy? Absolutely not. If Seokjin was in his position, he’d probably tease himself to death.

It didn’t stop him from pursing his lips though – you can’t encourage kids for being naughty, can you? – and giving Taehyung a look of disapproval, accompanied by “Alright, we’re coming.”

The signs went straight past him.

“Okay!”

The intruder only lingered for long enough to watch them untangle, before disappearing with a bright chuckle.

“That was too easy even for him,” Namjoon mumbled as soon as the door closed, sitting up and thoughtfully scratching through hair. Seokjin allowed himself to relish in the sight of confused Namjoon – not so rare but always so cute – for a bit longer before giving him a helping hand, both literally and figuratively.

“He already figured everything out.”

“Huh?” The man looked up at him with a look of hesitant surprise, accepting the hand and standing up easier – but not letting go yet. “How do you know?”

“I can read minds. And he can read minds. We read each other’s thoughts and,” surprise quickly turned into suspicion, so Seokjin interrupted himself with a ‘no sense of humor’ sigh and added, “he told me.”

Namjoon’s narrow eyes cleared up in an instant. “Oh. Okay, that makes much more sense.”

“Than?”

“Than your superpowers.”

Seokjin didn’t refuse himself the pleasure of offended pouting the other’s way. “You don’t believe in my powers?”

Fuck, was he really teasing him too much?

“I do.” But then, what else could make Namjoon smirk with such endearment, arms entwining like vines around his waist, pulling Seokjin into another hug. “But I think you could have something cooler than mind-reading, such a cliché.”

The man scoffed, rolling his eyes – only Namjoon could call his fantasies banal and still say it with warmth and adoration – hands finding their place on his shoulders. Seokjin had no choice but to smile back, taking the bait.

“Yeah? Which would be better then?”

They were supposed to hurry up, to get down, save Jungkook from suspicion and Taehyung – from hungry frustration, but well, at least, they were standing now? Though still glued to each other, one hug readily transforming into another.

“First, you could charm the hell out of anybody.”

“That’s a superpower?”

“Obviously. You’re like the biggest distraction. Ever. No one would be able to defeat you.”

Seokjin hummed in quiet approval, heart tearing up between shyness and affection, beating feverishly to catch up with both while Namjoon, deaf to its struggles, kept going.

“Then, you could be like a joy-spreader. Wherever you appear, people would smile and…”

“They’d laugh at me?” He tried to sound as offended as possibly with his voice trembling, revealing the feelings stubbornly kept at bay. They both knew he was joking, but Namjoon hurried to reassure him nevertheless, shaking his head so sharply he almost knocked Seokjin’s head off his shoulder.

“No, they’d be happy. Imagine how cool it’d be – to make everything brighter with just your presence?”

“Yeah, it’d be very cool.” He already had no defensive mechanisms left to fight the force of shyness, just accepting and pushing his flaming face deeper into Namjoon’s neck.

“Also, there’s that thing…”

“Joon.”

“…where you can turn into someone else. I saw your movies, I think…”

“Joon!”

“…it would also be, huh?”

He finally reacted – only after Seokjin, desperate for the compliments to stop and let him breathe, bit his shoulder through t-shirt, quickly but rather painlessly. For a few more seconds Seokjin kept silently squeezing the man in his arms, waiting for his heart to calm down. Turned out it still wasn’t enough, cause as soon as he raised his voice, it became too obvious that feelings were still overwhelming, pulling at the vocal cords, trembling on the edges of the statement. “You’re impossible.”

Namjoon took a moment to think it through, hands traveling up and down the other’s back, before replying cautiously, “Is it good?

Seokjin giggled, closing eyes for a second, “Yeah,” before raising his head to catch Namjoon’s look and hold it for a heartbeat longer, hoping that his eyes show enough to explain without words. “Yeah, it’s pretty fucking awesome.”

It took less than a second for Namjoon’s lips to spread into a wide grin. “Good,” he planted a kiss in the corner of Seokjin’s mouth, “I’ll try to be as impossible as possible for you then.”

“You’re too cheesy for your own good.”

This time they both giggled, shared sound physically pulling their lips together. It would be easy to spend an eternity like this, attached to each other, both in hearts and in bodies; just stay in this one room for the rest of their lives, drinking each other’s feelings, filling up through each other’s gazes, getting high on the touches. It would be easy, but-

“You know, Taehyung may come back any second.”

Almost immediately a loud, exasperated sigh left Namjoon’s lips, the man still not pulling back, only pouting under his partner’s gaze – which was definitely a sight to see. “Then let him see? You have no idea how much of their snuggles I’ve seen over the years – including the ones not meant for public.”

Seokjin cooed with a hint of sympathy, “Poor Joonie,” and patted him on the head before finally breaking the hug – otherwise they’d be stuck here till the end of the day. “But the boys still need to eat.”

 

Turned out the boys didn’t need anything after all.

By the time the couple came down, Namjoon’s sulkiness notably shrinking at the notes of food in the air, the youngsters were politely sitting at the table. If not for the barely heard chewing noises and oily lips, the other two might’ve even felt guilty.

“Boys.” A hint of accusation skimmed through the word, Namjoon coming to lean on the opposite side of the table – specifically to give them a look of disapproval.

“We were hungry,” his son immediately attempted to explain, “and you were busy,” while his boyfriend pouted, letting out a disapproving huff of his own.

“We only grabbed a spoon!”

“It’s delicious, Jin-ssi.”

The cook only smiled at that, detaching himself from the conversation and just quietly filling the bowls. Taehyung’s knowledge and endless teasing hints were making it that much harder to stay the same, making everything even more awkward.

Seokjin kept reminding himself to not look at Namjoon, to stay mindful, to behave like a friend. Thoughts were swirling in his head once again, keeping him busy enough to not be interested in joining the talk – that already shifted to the evening’s plans anyway.

“Yes, I think we can spend some time on the beach today – and leave the center for tomorrow. Maybe, even stop by ‘Wings’, what do you think, Jin-ssi?”

“Of course, yes, I think it’s good too.” Caught by the sudden question, he didn’t think again – and looked straight at Namjoon, immediately meeting his eyes. It was a trifle, a habit, nothing serious – and yet Taehyung cleared his throat, sound equally amused as cautious.

Right.

Seokjin couldn’t stop the corners of his lips from turning down, eyes coming back to his hands. It was okay. They were doing nothing bad. He was not rejected by the boys. It was okay – but surprisingly draining at the same time.

He was quiet (or at least less loud than usual) for the rest of the dinner, mostly keeping his gaze on the table apart from a couple of jokes that were too lame even for his own taste. Eventually, Namjoon even bumped his foot with his own, silently questioning – but Seokjin only gave him an unfocused look and short smile. It was okay.

It was okay, it was okay, it was okay.

He was such a teenager himself.

“Jin, what’s wrong?”

Next chance for them to stay alone came only half an hour later, Seokjin refusing to accept more glances from Jungkook and deliberately avoiding his father in the bedroom. In result, Namjoon was sent to change into his clothes only after cleaning up the kitchen – by his own will – giving Seokjin enough time to dress up and escape into the living room.

But even that was not enough for the boys, the two of them still pursuing one another all over the second floor under the pretext of using bathroom and bedroom at the same time. Namjoon even gave them a loud “Hurry up” – before hurrying downstairs on his own.

“Nothing, it’s nothing.” Seokjin even smirked to emphasize the carefulness of the words, tearing palms away from his elbows to show up as confident as ever. How mature, Kim Seokjin, how honest.

But Namjoon’s frown only went deeper at that. “Are you serious, or are you trying to convince me?”

For a newbie in relationships Namjoon was pretty damn good at reading others’ intentions. Is that what marriage teaches you?

“I don’t know, it’s,” he stumbled, gaze clinging onto the fingers anxiously fumbling with the sleeve. He couldn’t even properly hide it – but what? What was making him nervous – if it was supposed to be okay?

“Jin-ah,” and he automatically moved towards the gentle voice. It was embarrassing, it was embarrassing.

He was so weak for him it was embarrassing – and what if it doesn’t work out again?

He was so used to loneliness before, but how he’s supposed to get used to the lack of “good night”s waking him up in the morning and random photos of pretty trees from the streets of Seoul? Namjoon just had to wreck him all over, second time, second time, and give no hope. Hide from his family like something embarrassing – second time – and...

He had no idea where all of this was coming from, because never, not a single time did Namjoon hint that their relationships were something undesirable – but the feeling was choking Seokjin from inside. “It’s harder than I thought,” was all he could put into words, wrapping arms around Namjoon’s neck.

Palms came to rub his back in wide, soothing strokes. “What do you mean?”

“Hiding. Pretending. I don’t like how it feels, it’s so hard.” The words came out muffled, getting lost in the folds of Namjoon’s sweatshirt. He was talking so quietly it was easy to miss the words – if only they weren’t standing this close.

“But we aren’t hiding, Jinnie.”

Seokjin scoffed, confused frown hiding in knitted brows, and moved away just enough to look him in the eyes. Namjoon looked back with an equally confused gaze, only his features were much softer, soaked with affection. So he did mean it, the only question was, “What do you mean? Of course, we are.”

He even chuckled joylessly, trying to read the other’s thoughts from his face – unfortunately, it was barely working out. Namjoon only slowly shook his head, eyes still fixed on Seokjin’s, and raised a hand to squeeze the other’s neck – with proper amount of tenderness and reassurance.

“No, baby, there’s nothing to hide. You are my lover, my boyfriend, call it whatever you like. We are together – and we are just waiting for a good time to tell my son, but it doesn’t change anything. And if it makes you uncomfortable, we will tell him right now. Are you okay with that?”

Seokjin swallowed through sudden tightness in the chest, gaze darting to the stairs where rustle of clothes and rushed steps were growing louder with every passing second. It had to happen, right? It had to. That’s what he wanted. That’s what they needed to do.

His stomach was still tight, both nerves and Namjoon’s earnest words tying knots out of his guts, when he nodded with a stutter, “Okay,” and exhaled into the lips that came to peck him.

“Okay.” Namjoon nodded too, turning to the stairs as well, hand finding Seokjin’s palm and squeezing – a bit too harsh to count it as gentle. His nerves weren’t silent either.

“Wait, let’s, let’s sit.”

Seokjin couldn’t remember last time he allowed his voice to be so weak openly (not counting countless times he was failing in the bedroom). Heart was pounding heavily in his chest, air coming in and out with notable hitches. It was okay. He tightened his grip on Namjoon’s hand, fingers frantically looking for a way to entwine. It was okay.

“It’s not like we are going to tell him that Santa isn’t real.” Namjoon let out a chuckle, a bit more strangled than usual, staring at his own thumb rubbing circles into Seokjin’s.

“What do you mean Santa isn’t real?”

It was weak, he knew, but still tried to give his voice as much surprise and amusement as possible. It was easy to pretend. It was easy to play – if only for the sake of Namjoon’s cackle and warm gaze.

It was harder to be honest – because you never know what you'll get in return.

Their eyes met, smirks faltering to give way for smaller affectionate smiles. Silent exchange of thoughts and feelings. I am sure about that. I want to be with you. I love you.

Something deep but familiar was glistening through Namjoon’s eyes, the warmth and love meant only for him, only for Seokjin; something he couldn’t name but would never allow himself to lose.

He wanted to repeat, once again, this time for Namjoon, not for himself, that it’s gonna be okay – but steps finally reached the first floor. Cheerful voice broke through the intimate silence.

“Sorry, we are almost ready, Jungkookie is just a bit… oh.”

Taehyung stopped in his tracks right at the bottom of the stairs, assessing gaze flickering over the couple. Understanding smirk tugged at the corner of his lips in less than a second. “I see. I’m gonna bring him.”

“I’m here, here, hyung, it’s not my fault the camera was so deep.”

Seokjin took a deep breath as soon as Jungkook’s legs appeared in his line of vision, back automatically straightening up, hand squeezing Namjoon tighter. Weird thought ran through him: Namjoon didn’t tell how Jungkook reacted when they told him Santa isn’t real.

The man next to him fidgeted as well, clearing his throat before calling, “Kookie, come here, I, um, we want to talk to you. To both of you.”

Taehyung grinned at this and nodded, readily taking off in the direction of the only armchair and jumping in with a satisfied sigh, leaving his boyfriend behind. Just like him, Jungkook studied the room for a couple of seconds, cautious gaze lingering on the couple but barely touching the entwined hands as if too shy to stare.

He didn’t say anything, only followed the older one, ignoring empty space next to Seokjin in favor of the back of Taehyung’s seating, leaning in right above the mop of bright red hair.

Awkward silence followed him as well, settling in more comfortably in the middle of the room. Namjoon was clearly looking for words, a hint of anxiousness in his deep frown, while Seokjin was almost frozen. He sat there, straight back and blank face, eyes fixed on a spot right above Taehyung’s shoulder. The room was silent, but the pounding heart and loud thoughts were mixing into his own personal cacophony.

What will he do if Jungkook decides that he’s not a good fit for his father? What if they all end up in an argument? They had to wait, Seokjin could make himself more likeable, it would be better, god, what had he done, what had he done.

As if hearing his thoughts – or maybe for his own reassurance – Namjoon moved his wrist a bit, trying to adjust in Seokjin’s steel grip.

“Jungkook, Taehyung, you know that back in April I was here for work – and accidentally met Seokjin. You also know that we already knew each other, from long time ago.” Namjoon’s voice was deep, words flowing out in slow, thoughtful patterns – not like when he was nervous, but when he cared about what he was saying. The boys watched him curiously, only Taehyung’s gaze kept slipping into Seokjin’s direction, a hint of warm smile in the corners of hazel eyes.

He might’ve been a child sometimes – but definitely the smart and honest one.

“What you don’t know is that we are not just friends. We’re boyfriends?”

“Partners.” Seokjin smirked a bit, gaze finally leaving the armchair to rest on Namjoon’s face, hesitant eyes looking for an answer on his own. It was happening. Namjoon was here. It was okay. He gently squeezed his hand again. Partners. Yes, he liked how that sounds.

“Yes, yes, that’s better,” Namjoon smiled at him too before turning back to the couple, “we are partners.”

“I think it’s cute. Don’t you think, oh no, he doesn’t think it’s cute.”

In the span of 5 seconds Taehyung managed to turn around twice and change his expression thrice – from joy to hesitance to small reassuring smile. Jungkook was quiet. Confused frown lingered on his face, gaze slowly moving between the elders and their clasped hands.

“So, does it mean you’re gay?”

Everyone turned to him. Namjoon blinked in surprise, like he didn’t expect the question (though he probably should’ve), and hummed, uncertain frown making its way on his face as well. His eyes automatically turned to look for his partner – but even Seokjin couldn’t help him here. He only smiled, putting as much reassurance as he could through the lump in his throat.

“I guess so?” But Namjoon still managed to read something, why else would he keep looking back at him? “I mean, I was never not gay, like, fully, you know that,” Jungkook nodded as if in response to particular memory, “but if you mean, um, officially, then yes, yes, of course.”

The boy hummed at that – Seokjin turned just in time to catch a quick glance of his – and nodded with a shrug. “Okay, um, congratulations? I’m, I’m happy for you, dad. And, of course, you too, Mr. Kim,” the boy quickly added, awkwardness being seemingly their family’s trait. Luckily, Taehyung was always there to help him out.

“Yes! Congratulations, that’s so cool! We are like a family now. Gay family. Wow, I didn’t think about it before.” He was looking between all three of them with a wide grin, hand finding Jungkook’s sleeve to tug in excitement.

It looked like he was the only one in the mood for celebration.

Namjoon’s gaze was unfocused, mind somewhere still in his thoughts, though a small smile was supporting the younger’s excitement. His son’s face was reflecting the same pattern, hand mindlessly taking a hold of Taehyung’s – only for the boy to pull it back in order to sit properly again.

And Seokjin, well, Seokjin did feel relief, soft smile responding to cheerful words, but something heavy was still pressing on his chest. It didn’t look like he imagined, and even though many things in his life didn’t, that particular case was not so easy to let go of.

Namjoon was telling dozens, hundreds of times that Jungkook is shy and keeps to himself – “but he’s a very active boy, he likes to joke around and laugh a lot; when you’ll get to know him, it’s like another person.” But something wasn’t right. Something wasn’t clicking. They only knew each other one day, obviously, there was no reason for him to open up – but it wasn’t only that. There was a hint of unknown hostility Seokjin couldn’t properly place or explain to himself.

Had he done something wrong?

“Are we gonna go now?” Taehyung suddenly asked, turning around to look at the window behind Jungkook’s back like the fog might decide to come back any second (which it actually could).

“Yeah, I think…”

“No, Joon-ah.” Seokjin gently tugged at the hand, shaking his head, eyes searching for his as soon as Namjoon moved to stand up. It took the man a few confused moments before “Oh” finally left his mouth, gaze moving back to the boys.

Of course he’d forget.

Their hands, already sweaty from the nerves and tight grip, lost initial pleasure of holding each other – so he pulled the palm out of Seokjin’s grip to wrap around his shoulders. Unconscious reminder of the other’s presence.

Suddenly, Seokjin felt an urge to move to him, onto him, hide face in Namjoon’s neck and not deal with it, not deal with anything. Instead, he only fidgeted to get comfortable in the embrace, allowing himself only to press against the other’s body a bit firmer than needed, and turned to the boys as well, hands awkwardly landing on Namjoon’s thigh.

“Right, boys, it’s important too. We, me and Seokjin, talked about the situation and decided it’ll be better for me to move here. I’ll leave the apartment to you, so, Taehyungie, you can move in, and…”

“Wait, what are you talking about?” Jungkook’s wide eyes were staring back at his father with disbelief. “Dad, you can’t just move to another country.”

“I’ve been doing it all my life.” Namjoon grinned, clearly oblivious of the strained tone of his son – unlike Seokjin whose smile faltered.

Something wasn't right.

“That’s not what I mean, what about your job?”

“I have a client here, he’d been asking me to move for a while. And I can always come back to online…”

“No, no, dad.” Almost a plea appeared in the boy’s voice, now even Taehyung turning to look at him with concern.

“Kookie, it’s okay, what’s wrong?” But the youngest didn’t even look at him, eyes fixed on the couple. Seokjin unconsciously gripped Namjoon tighter, fuck, it was really happening.

“Dad, you can’t, you, you barely know each other!”

Finally, Namjoon seemed to sense something, whether through his partner’s grip or clear protest in his son’s voice. He fidgeted, now straightening up on his own, steel notes reverberating through his voice, “We know each other enough, Jungkook.” Seokjin felt the grip on his shoulder tightening, bringing closer.

The action brought the boy’s attention, and for a fleeting moment his and Seokjin’s eyes met.

There was fear. Jungkook quickly turned away, pursing his lips and putting visible efforts into swallowing whatever else he wanted to say – but Seokjin saw, and had no idea what to do about it.

“Okay. I mean, alright, of course, you know better. I’ll wait outside.” He left so quickly, frame tense and eyes down, that even Taehyung needed a couple of seconds before shooting after him.

Deafening silence fell on them.

“Oh god.”

“Everything’s fine.”

“No, it’s not, and you know that.”

Namjoon conveniently pulled him closer, catching hands that were ready to land on his face.

Fuck, it really happened, it was bad, it was so bad, and they didn’t even know why, and what if-

“Trust me.” He placed his own hands on Seokjin’s face instead, bringing attention, pulling at his gaze. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not okay, Joon.” He couldn’t do anything about the despair seeping into his everything. Tiny voice at the back of his head was reminding that everything was okay indeed. That nothing was ruined, it just didn’t go as planned – but there’s a way out of this.

But the voice was barely heard through his pounding heart. Because now Seokjin was scared too. Because no one expected this from Jungkook, no one understood what happened, no one knew what’s wrong (“with you” another, louder and uglier voice added).

He’d gladly latch onto any chance to fix things – but they didn’t even know what needed to be fixed.

“It’s bad.”

“It’s not.” Namjoon patiently repeated again, thumbs brushing his cheeks. “It doesn’t change anything. He’s just a boy, and it wasn’t something he expected. Give him time.”

“But…”

“We will live together,” he pointed the statement with a quick peck on Seokjin’s eyebrow, “everything’s settled already. It’s okay. Unless, of course, something changed your mind?”

Namjoon leaned back to look him in the eyes properly – but Seokjin blinked and looked away, tongue coming to swipe nervously over his lips. He wanted, of course, he wanted, the nagging feeling in his chest only reminding how much he actually wanted for the two of them to be together.

But if it had to happen against Jungkook’s will…

“I don’t know, Joon, I don’t like it. Maybe, it’s better to wait?”

Something flashed through Namjoon’s eyes, corners of his lips turning down – and Seokjin immediately regretted saying anything.

“We spent eleven years apart. I guess, a few more months won’t change anything indeed.” He smiled again with reassurance – but it was obvious just how much upset was pushed behind it. Seokjin felt his heart sinking down, just enough to poke at his guts.

“Joon, I’m not taking my word back, you know that, right?” He got a hold of Namjoon’s hand, palms already slipping down his face. “We just need to figure it out first, that’s all.”

“Yes, yes, of course, I understand.” The man smiled again – but it turned out awkward, eyes betraying the lack of focus.

Fuck.

Seokjin sighed and leaned forward, to press his brow against Namjoon’s shoulder, hands still holding his. The initial panic already settled in – they were working on the problem, they were going to solve it – leaving the heaviness behind. It didn’t go smoothly. It didn’t go perfectly. The wall was still there.

Palm lay on his back, thumb drawing soothing lines. Seokjin closed his eyes.

“It’s gonna be okay.”

 

The rest of the evening went as smoothly as it’d begun – that is, roughly and with countless bumps. Seokjin kept trying to lift the mood, splattering jokes and loud laughter here and there, openly ignoring the restrained reaction, at least from the Kim family. Taehyung was generously chuckling and overall helping him in making the trip less painful – but kept strolling away to awe at new sights, leaving all three of them in quiet awkwardness.

Namjoon was smiling when needed, even laughing and joking on his own from time to time – but hiding back inside his head quickly after. His thoughts were wrapped around something Seokjin couldn’t see, though it wasn’t hard to guess. Despite the calm and confident façade, Namjoon was prone to overthinking just as much as Seokjin. Birds of a feather flock together, huh?

And Jungkook, well, his behavior barely changed since morning. He was keeping his quiet, polite attitude, nodding and smiling when needed. The rest of the time, though, he was repeating his father, blank gaze staring at the ground or looking for something in the distance – until Taehyung was appearing in his line of sight again, softening tense features.

Overall, it was quiet and unpleasant stroll, at least for the majority of them – judging by the amount of photos Taehyung was taking, he was pretty much satisfied.

“Ah, the sunset is so pretty, can we stay a little longer?”

“No, Taehyung-ah,” Seokjin tugged him up the street – the boy kept turning around, to the beach and colorful skyline that were still peeking through the buildings. “The fog will be back soon, you won’t see anything anyway.”

“But it’s not fair! Why it has to cover the prettiest sights?”

Taehyung threw another last look at the shoreline and turned in the direction of the house, sulky pout on his lips. Seokjin only chuckled, protected from its effects by his own experience, and lead him to the store the other two entered minutes ago. Jungkook was looking for some special milk, Namjoon decided to buy a cup of coffee (undeterred by his partner’s unpleased gazes).

They both came out soon enough, together, shared frown on their faces confirming that some kind of discussion was inevitable. Seokjin kept the sigh to himself and smiled cheerfully, pointing at the bag in the elder’s hands.

“What’s this? Did they pack you with coffee?”

The joke was lame, he knew it – but Namjoon granted him with a gracious chuckle anyway, taking a sip of his drink before answering with a shrug. “Stuff. Cake for the evening, strawberries, tablets for dishwasher.”

“Dishwasher?” Seokjin gave him a look of obvious confusion, an old thought scratching at the back of his mind.

“Yeah, I noticed you were running out of them.”

Oh, right… Wait, did he tell Namjoon about it?

In the meantime Taehyung got interested in something else entirely, struggling to get a glance of the insides of the bag before giving up and asking “What kind of cake?” as innocently as possible.

“Chocolate.”

While the boy let out a sound of excitement, clearly happy with the choice, Namjoon turned to look at his partner with a hint of question. And Seokjin was already smiling softly back at him, overcome with a sudden rush of affection, feeling more like a boy gifted with his favorite sweets than a man that could buy one for each of them. But, to disperse any doubts entirely, he closed his eyes for a second in expression of delight, nose scrunching and hum leaving his smiling lips.

He was happy with the choice as well.

“Thank you, Namjoon-ah, now, let’s hurry to, uh,” he stumbled unintentionally, mind trying to catch up with the sudden smell of coffee and soft pressure on his left cheek. Someone next to him let out a cooing sound, most likely Taehyung.

Seokjin blinked.

Namjoon was looking at him with a wide grin, probably satisfied with the effects. Whatever was bugging his mind before managed to hide or disappear entirely, affection and light amusement looking at Seokjin through his eyes.

“What were you saying?”

“We need to, um, to get home,” fuck, he could feel his cheeks warming up, why couldn’t everyone just turn away, “soon, to get the cake.”

“I agree. Jungkookie?” Taehyung, not hiding his excitement, turned to look for his boyfriend.

While they were having a conversation next to the store entrance, Jungkook went a few yards up the street, lurking into the stores and windows with childish curiosity. As soon as his boyfriend’s voice reached him, though, he looked back to wave at them – before hurrying to get further away.

“Hey, it’s not a competition, it’s, hey, wait, Jungkook-ah!”

By the time the elder couple reached the house, quietly bickering about the weather – or rather it was Seokjin trying to reclaim his dignity by circling around Namjoon and beckoning him into making predictions about tomorrow (after checking all reliable sources himself, of course) while Namjoon was watching him with a fond smile and quietly sipping on his coffee, but who needs details – the boys were already sprawling on the stairs and trying to catch their breaths.

 

Apparently, the intense jog (“you cheated, Jungkook-ah, it’s not fair!”) lifted the youngest’s mood. For the rest of the evening he was slightly louder than before, even laughing at a couple of Seokjin’s puns and helping to clean the kitchen after their second dinner. His hesitant “good night” coming from the doorway even made Namjoon smile, the man sending him off with a “night” of his own, accompanied by Seokjin’s wink and “Have fun”.

He wasn’t sure if it wasn’t too early for such jokes, but Jungkook didn’t say anything, only turned away with a hint of shyness and disappeared. The couple exchanged amused looks behind his back.

“Maybe, he’s come to the terms on his own?”

Seokjin shrugged as if Namjoon could see him, climbing under the blanket while his partner was still dealing with the suitcase. Apparently, he didn’t think it through and packed the pajama first (to not forget it later) and now had to rummage through everything else to find his favorite t-shirt. The whole situation was too amusing for Seokjin to offer help – the man would refuse anyway, always so stubborn to deal with his forgetfulness on his own – so he just settled with watching Namjoon’s bare back from the bed.

It was a glorious sight to study anyway.

“Maybe – but it’s still better to talk. Did you switch workout?”

“Yeah, decided to work on my shoulders.” Namjoon only threw a quick glance behind to make sure he understood the question right, before going back to the task at hand – flexing muscles on the way by pure accident, surely. Seokjin only smirked at that. Not like he had anything against.

“Want to compete with me?”

The man audibly chuckled, finally placing the books (god, Seokjin hoped he had enough space to fit this part at least) back into the suitcase and turning to the bed. Yes, that side was even better.

Apparently, some of the thoughts got reflected on Seokjin’s face, because instead of pulling the long-lost shirt on, Namjoon dropped it on the footboard, smile turning into a smug grin in a matter of seconds. “Want to impress you,” he murmured, crawling over the bed to take his place next to Seokjin, or rather above him, hand tugging the blanket down.

Not like Seokjin cared about keeping it at place.

He only fidgeted, allowing the other’s palm to slide further down his waist, getting comfortable under attentive gaze, squinting and grinning back himself. “You are doing a pretty decent job at it.”

“Yeah?” Namjoon smirked – ah, too smug, Seokjin will have to tease him in the morning for that one, just for the sake of equality – and planted a kiss on Seokjin’s neck, the other’s arms pulling him closer in encouragement. “Are you impressed?”

“Every time.”

His voice was going lower, deeper, eyes shutting under continuous caress of lips on his neck and hands on his chest. Jungkook could wait. Everything could wait. Namjoon was here, firm and soft, rough and gentle, nibbles seeping through the flow of kisses, making Seokjin gasp.

He missed it. He missed it so fucking much.

They were already half-way into undressing Seokjin, the man giggling at Namjoon’s curses directed at the buttons on his pajama, when a knock came from the other side of the door.

This time Taehyung didn’t come in, didn’t even call out, only, after a few seconds the couple spent in a silent dialogue of gazes, knocked again.

“Coming.” In the end, Namjoon was the one to give up, pushing himself off the bed (and Seokjin) and reaching out for already forgotten t-shirt.

“Namjoon-ssi, can I talk to you?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“I mean, here.”

“…Okay.”

And just like that, Seokjin was left alone, heated kisses quickly cooling down on his skin. He looked around the room for a few more seconds, mind clearing up from the fog of intimacy, and buttoned the shirt up again. It looked like the night will be shorter for the two of them.

“What happened?”

As soon as the door closed again, Namjoon not caring about the knock despite the late hour, Seokjin looked up. Three minutes was enough to set him on edge. The man’s thoughtful face didn’t soothe him either.

“They got into a fight. I guess.”

“What?” Seokjin straightened up in a moment. And Namjoon was speaking about it so calmly! “Why?”

“Not sure. But Tae calls Kookie an idiot when they’re fresh from a quarrel.”

Despite Seokjin’s obvious worry, the man only shrugged, climbing back into bed from the other side. Apparently, his intentions had time to cool down as well.

“Joon, I don’t think- I’ll go check up on him.” But before he could do as much as lift the blanket, a palm caught his thigh – the closest part Namjoon could reach.

“Don’t stress out, it happens. I already helped him to settle downstairs.”

Under the firm, calm gaze Seokjin’s mind settled as well, body leaning back on the headboard – but the frown refused to leave, barely hiding the darker thoughts.

“Often?” he finally asked, voice as tense as his insides.

Seokjin didn’t like it, Seokjin didn’t like it at all – unlike Namjoon who shrugged light-heartedly and turned around to reach for the book he prepared before, something about Chinese sculptures. Seokjin flipped through it before but didn’t find anything for his taste. His and Namjoon’s were quite different after all.

“Sometimes. They used to bicker a lot for about a year after becoming ‘official’,” he quoted in the air with one hand. “Then everything kind of settled – but sometimes,” he finished the sentence with a shrug, eyes already skimming through pages. “Taehyung tends to be dramatic.”

The man had obviously no intention to fall asleep.

It was all that Americano, Seokjin absentmindedly noted. And the plane. Damn plane.

They sat in silence for a while – only Namjoon’s fingers fumbling with the corner of the book – even though Seokjin felt like his thoughts should have at least some kind of physical representation. How, otherwise, would they be so loud in his own head?

Eventually – after staring at his laps and imagining Jungkook saying that he will never accept Seokjin for the fourth time – he let out a sigh and turned on the side, away from Namjoon. The light of the lamp was soft enough to not distract him, but his own anxious face could easily distract Namjoon.

It didn’t work as well as he expected, because Namjoon did get distracted – at least enough to fidget closer.

The palm returned to his side again, fingers gently squeezing his waist through the blanket, its soothing weight setting some of Seokjin’s anxiety at peace. Low murmur reached him, “Don’t overthink, it happens,” thumb stroking through layers of material.

Seokjin only sighed again, too entangled in his own thoughts to try and explain them. Instead, he shifted on the bed, maybe not as graciously as he planned, maybe accidentally slipping off the pillow, but stubbornly crawling backwards until his back pushed into the other’s side. Until Namjoon’s hand was close enough to pull it further onto his stomach, to cradle with his own like the most precious possession.

Fond chuckle came from behind. “I’m here,” he clumsily squeezed Seokjin’s hand in return, “I’m not going anywhere.”

 

By the time Seokjin woke up, with sharp inhale and stinging eyes – a reminder that sleep doesn’t count as sleep when you’re all wired up to begin with – the room was drowning in heavy blue of the dawn. There was barely enough light to distinguish the forms and shapes in the corners. Boogeyman could be hiding anywhere – but the true scares were already under skull.

It was hot. Not as much in the room as under blanket, long limbs curling over Seokjin’s body. Did that wake him up?

As much as Seokjin loved his partner, it wasn’t that easy to get used to his weight again. Especially when it was on his elbow.

He huffed, turning into better position, pushed a leg from under the blanket to get some kind of ventilation, and closed his eyes again. It should’ve been no more than 6AM, for goodness sake, of course he wasn’t going to actually get up.

But the thing with the sleep is that it rarely obeys. Mister Sandman left his house already.

For a few long minutes Seokjin kept struggling to fall asleep again, tossing and turning, flipping the pillow up and down, counting Namjoon’s exhales, and crawling a few inches away from him (but safe enough from the edge of the bed). Nothing helped.

His head was heavy, body sore from lack of sleep, eyelids still threatening to drop any moment – only to be annoyingly ready to open seconds later.

Seokjin pushed his face into the pillow and quietly whined. Stupid heat. Stupid blanket. Stupid…

He exhaled, sound rustling through thin material, and turned his head. No, Namjoon wasn’t stupid. Namjoon was cute, lips slightly parted, shoulders rising with every inhale, hair sticking to the forehead in chaotic patterns.

Seokjin watched him for some time, frustration silently settling down, something deeper taking its place – before daring to reach out.

Namjoon was always a deep sleeper – as long as he could share space with someone else, cold sheets being the only obstacle between him and the kingdom of sleep. Seokjin knew it very well, countless attempts to wake up the man – be that for a jog or his own unintended boner – finishing with “baby” and blind movements in the direction of the sound. He never claimed it wasn’t endearing, just, sometimes, not the result he wanted.

But now, for some reason, he wanted to be delicate, long fingers stroking Namjoon’s cheek almost tenderly. It was so familiar, so similar to that one night long time ago, when all he could do was stare at Namjoon’s serene face, tearing up between knowledge that the man needs more rest and craving for these eyes to look at him again – once more, just once more.

He could even feel the ache again, deep pointed flame in the middle of his chest.

35 years old Kim Seokjin wouldn’t dare to imagine that he’ll be able to look at this face again – even if part of him wanted to believe so badly.

He swallowed, lump in the throat growing wider, already whole palm pressing against soft cheek, thumb carefully stroking over invisible wrinkles.

Seokjin was head over heels for him, always, since the very beginning. Managers and stylists were teasing him every single day till the end of New-York schedules, rumors about “hot, dimpled, married friend” spreading like fire among the crew. He had to use his entire arsenal, from charms to joking threats to pouting, to keep his dignity intact – even if the truth was too obvious to hide. As well as the bruised lips. And a hickey on his chest. Thank god no one had to check his thighs.

He let out another sigh, room swallowing it without a hitch.

Maybe, Jungkook was right? Maybe, they were too caught up in all the can’s, that every can’t was too much to bear?

But it was more than that. It wasn’t simple frustration from lack of intimacy and closeness. It was desire to refill all vessels of the hearts, all cells of the memories. For every night spent apart reclaim a morning pressed into each other.

He sighed again, unable to stop the sound that was almost annoying to his own ears already, and flipped himself on the back, hand falling off Namjoon’s cheek to rest on his own shoulder. Seokjin blinked through the darkness; someone was playing with contrast and brightness, room getting lighter but still unbearably grey.

Time was slowly rolling over him, thoughts flowing through the same passages again, and again, and again. He was in some kind of trance – when the sound of steps reached him. Muffled knock against the stairs. Hushed whisper, another one, both silencing in an instant. A couple of seconds – and barely distinguishable clink of a door lock.

Seokjin closed his eyes. At least they were okay. Maybe, it was not the heat that woke him up in the first place.

Whether it was a nap that came to him after all, or thoughts just swallowed him for longer than before, but when Seokjin opened his eyes again, the room was notably lighter. Not brighter – fog was lazily swaying behind the window – but lighter, shape of the lamp under ceiling familiar and clear.

Namjoon managed to turn on the stomach, closer to Seokjin again, his shoulder now pressing against his, sharing warmth. He’ll be very convenient in the winter, won’t he?

Seokjin chuckled at the thought, fond gaze stroking Namjoon’s hair – the man managed to, also, turn away from him. Quiet sniffing was still echoing through the room.

Yeah, it will be the warmest winter of his life. It will be.

 

Seokjin wasn’t really sure why he got out of bed so early, but he needed to do something. He couldn’t stay there, slowly digested by his own thoughts – sleep was nowhere to be seen once again.

The house was morning-like, grey and quiet, just like Seokjin was used to – though after warm sheets it felt much colder than usual. He didn’t really bother with staying quiet in the bedroom, making sure instead that Namjoon has a warm pillow to snuggle into. But as soon as he pulled an already-his hoodie on and stepped out into the hallway, every rustle suddenly grew in volume.

He almost crawled down, carefully listening to every sound behind. But there was no need for it – everything stayed the same. Even muffled snoring from the guest bedroom.

The only thing confirming Namjoon’s words was the back of the couch pushed as far back as possible, probably to make it more comfortable for lying. Electric fireplace was still on, which would be a good reason for Seokjin to complain every other day – but for now he was grateful, stepping into comfortable warmth, with a glimpse of lighted up coals, instead of dull and unwelcoming room.

Seokjin liked his house, he really did – but on the foggy mornings it was hard to stay positive about it. He absently considered thermostat, for the umpteenth time this month – and lost the thought in between tea leaves once again. 

He had to almost dance through the kitchen, keeping himself warm, while making a cup of jasmine tea. It was pointless to turn on the heater – the first proper sunrays will remind that it’s actually summer. Or he was just a bit too lazy for it.

Namjoon, apparently, provided Taehyung with the thin “living room blanket” Seokjin was keeping there for warmer cuddles. It was now lying in the armchair, neatly folded and left to rest – perfect for a slow morning (and Seokjin’s was definitely stretching out for too long).

He spent some time, staring at the fireplace and slowly sipping on his tea – but none of that had enough soothing effect on him, so pretty soon he grabbed a book instead. It was the one Namjoon recommended him some time ago, a Russian novel translated into English: he was diligently working on his language skills even if the second chapter still wasn’t finished. He liked the plot, but character names were too hard to keep up with.

It took him a while to start actually reading instead of skimming through the same passage five times in a row, but by the time the morning started for the rest of the house, he was doing a decent job at it. Which all went to waste, when steps on the second floor turned out to be much lighter and quicker than Namjoon’s usual morning shuffling.

“G-good morning, Mister Kim.”

Jungkook even stuttered for a second, confusion and surprise clear in his whole frame, tensed and frozen at the base of the stairs. He clearly didn’t expect to see anyone else already awake.

Seokjin smiled, as calmly and honestly as he could, “Good morning, Jungkook-ah,” fingers nervously sliding against the edge of the cover.

There was an awkward moment of silence, the likes of which Seokjin hated the most. The one that was growing in awkwardness with every passing second.

“Didn’t know you’ll be up so early,” he said finally, struggling for the easiness that allowed him to start dialogue with practically any kind of people at bars and parties. Why on Earth flirting with strangers was easier than finding a common ground with teenagers?

“Yeah, I, um, I was going for a jog.”

“In the park?”

“No, down to the beach.”

“It’s foggy out there.”

“Yeah, I saw.”

“Better be careful near the road.”

Jungkook hummed in forced agreement, fidgeting on the place. His eyes kept darting in the direction of the door – and Seokjin almost wanted to set him free, painfully uncomfortable himself. Instead, he sighed and closed the book with a thud, loud enough to bring the other’s attention back to him.

“Jungkook, I think we need to talk.”

He didn’t move for a few moments, only gaze slowly shifting to the couch, frown seeping through his features – and then nodded.

“Yeah, hyung thinks so too.”

He still didn’t move though, eyes slowly losing focus, fingers playing with the edge of the sleeve. He looked like a boy now, the one that he was, not some force Seokjin had to conquer but a boy, lost in thoughts he was too nervous to let out.

“Do you… want to go out first?” the man reminded, as gently as possible, when Jungkook didn’t move for a dozen of seconds.

The voice seemed to snap him out of something, Jungkook blinking in almost surprise before stepping closer, “No, it’s okay,” shyness from zoning out making his movements clumsier. He was in such a hurry to take place on the couch that, apparently, forgot about the back of it and almost fell instead of confidently leaning backwards.

Seokjin did his best to not smile too widely – the boy was already flustered on his own – thinking about countless times Namjoon was bumping into furniture all over the house. The two of them shared so much more than just the last name.

There was another hitch, air hanging low and heavy, silence stretching out for too long. They were so clearly uncomfortable with each other, it was physically pressing on Seokjin’s shoulders. He tried to remember any joke to break the ice, but all of them seemed too forced, too awkward on their own – so the silence kept going. Until Jungkook raised his voice first.

“Why him?”

The man frowned, tilting his head in confusion – but Jungkook kept his gaze on his laps, glued to fingers folding and tugging loose material of his track pants. Seokjin automatically followed his fingers for a few moments too, frown deepening, mind rummaging through the layers of the question.

“What do you mean?”

“Why my father? He is not that handsome, he’s not that rich, he is kind of smart – but then he’s also kind of dumb.” Tiny soft smile tugged at his lips – the one mirrored by Seokjin – before his face turned serious again. “And you are, well, you are Kim Seokjin. Worldwide handsome,” the man winced at familiar title, hasn’t heard it in a while, “relatively famous…”

“Thanks.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” they both knew it was truth anyway.

Jungkook cleared his throat, still uneasy about the words, fingers now entwining in a nervous lock.

“I meant that you are, um, different from him, so, so why would you want to be with him?”

Everything mixed under skin, swirling in the middle of his chest – anger, frustration, confusion, disbelief, but most of all bitterness, clawing at his throat. Seokjin took a deep breath before carefully choosing the words.

“Do you think I can only like someone rich and breathtakingly beautiful?”

Was he not good enough for Namjoon? Was Namjoon not good enough for him? Did he give any reason to doubt his feelings? To think they aren’t real? And if only Jungkook was the only one to give him this tone of hesitance.

The boy finally looked up at that, if only for a second, to throw a quick glance his way – and go back to studying his laps. Seokjin, in turn, was now staring at the coffee table, trying to put the pieces together, trying to understand why

“That’s not what I meant, I’m sorry if I explained it poorly, I just- How do you know you won’t get tired of this? I’m sorry if it sounds offensive, because I respect you, Mr. Kim, and I don’t want to offend you, I don’t – but I think you are used to different life.” He took a pause to give Seokjin a chance to protest. He didn’t. “And I don’t think my father can give it to you.”

For a 19-year-old he was pretty smart.

But then again, he was Kim Namjoon’s son, so was it really surprising?

Seokjin sighed, fingers coming to rub his forehead as if asking for the answer to materialize in his head. How could he explain what was wrong before – and what was so right now?

“You are right, Jungkook-ah, and I’m not mad at you. I am used to different life – but that doesn’t mean I liked it.” He fidgeted first, and then just leaned forward on his knees, catching Jungkook’s surprised glance. For some reason he didn’t feel like sitting with straight shoulders and confident gaze anymore. They were supposed to talk like equals.

“I got away for a reason. It was not the life I wanted anymore.”

“But how can you know that this is what you want?” Jungkook moved forward as well, as if they were trying to understand each other’s minds through space.

Seokjin took a few moments of silence – and then smirked, half-sad, half-enamored.

“I feel that.”

But that was clearly not enough for the boy, Jungkook quickly leaning back again, almost disappointment on his face.

He kept chewing his lips, fingers drumming against his thigh – but this time his gaze was fixed on something else entirely, the window, or rather his own thoughts, eyes absently staring at the frame. He appeared to be deep in his own mind, quiet for long enough for Seokjin to settle back in the armchair again, feeling like a student trying to pass an important exam. Only he graduated 20 years ago, but none of the questions were ever that hard.

“Do you love him?”

Looks like retake is inevitable.

He almost gave up to temptation to whine, or scold the boy for inappropriate question – but then again, it was natural for him to want to know. The problem was: they didn’t go that far yet.

Eleven years ago the words slipped off his tongue so easily – but now they were bearing a much deeper note of responsibility. Commitment. Shared future. Love.

There was not a single doubt in him that he did love Namjoon, his childish giggles and long gazes at the sky, his morning grumpiness that was for everyone but Seokjin, his habit of biting lips without noticing, even his hot breath that was waking Seokjin up every morning. He loved him a lot, to say the least, but saying the words out loud? It felt serious. It felt special.

After squandering the words throughout the youth, he realized that there was a limit, a certain weight to the seemingly simple words. And if he says them now, he won’t be able to repeat them later. With someone else. If… if.

Even just a thought pinched him from inside – it had to work out, it had to work out – but with every passing year he believed in forever less and less. He wanted to be tied to Namjoon so badly – but too many cut strings were already dragging after him.

“It’s not that simple, Jungkook-ah.”

“I think that is, there are only two options.”

“It’s much more than that, it’s not… Such confessions need time.”

“But it’s been enough time for him to move in?”

“You don’t understand.”

“Because I’m too young?”

God, he should’ve waited for Namjoon.

Seokjin had nothing to answer, perfectly understanding the other’s anger. It annoyed him as well, the fact that the only argument he had is Jungkook not being old enough – despite the boy proving already how perceptive he is.

But why he wouldn’t accept then, that his father knows what he’s doing? Why kept questioning things that were already decided – not in a fleeting moment but after long and proper discussions? Why couldn’t he trust them? Believe in them?

Seokjin covered his face, small desperate exhale escaping his lips. He was well-aware that Jungkook can see his expression of weakness, but couldn’t be bothered enough to do something about it. Sometimes he had to let his inner actor down.

“I know he loves you,” after a few moments a low, almost sad voice said. Jungkook decided to open up too. Equals, huh? “Or at least that’s what he feels right now.”

Seokjin’s heart suddenly reminded of its existence, beating loud and clear against his ribs. Namjoon never told him either – maybe because he was waiting for something, or maybe because he was scared as well.

So, why would Jungkook have such a thought? It was silly… right?

But something was telling him that it wasn’t. That, actually, Seokjin knew it already, saw in everyday texts and affectionate smiles, felt in morning hugs and gentle kisses.

There were no doubts in him that Namjoon loves him too – but then why Jungkook’s words were boiling on his cheeks?

The boy didn’t pay attention to fluster on his face and nervous gaze darting his way, thoughtfully staring at the window instead. Clouds of mist were lazily rolling over outside. The morning was only waking up, even if inside the living room it felt like eternity is not so far away.

“Dad has a big brain – but he follows his heart much too easily. He was ready to propose after two months of dating.” What? Whom? “Mom laughed it off – and he waited for two more years.” Oh, right. “Did he tell you that?”

“Yes.”

Jungkook glanced his way, not even hiding his surprise – but what could he say, Namjoon loved to talk about his family. Always, but especially back in the day when it was full and complete, not having much thought about Seokjin’s ache.

“Well, then you should understand. He falls quickly and deeply, and while I’m sure you are a good person and have feelings for him as well – what will be after? In a year, two years, five years?”

Five seconds of tense silence.

“It’s not about you personally, Seokjin-ssi. It’s about you taking him away 12 hours after I got to know you. It’s about him being ready to leave his home six months into relationships. It’s about two credit cards and five keys he lost the first month we moved out. It’s about him eating noodles and coffee and wearing the same clothes until grandma came to check up on us and stayed for a week. It’s about him spending nights in the living room instead of bedroom, because…”

“…because he hates to sleep alone.”

Jungkook breathed out sharply at the interruption, coming down the force fueling his speech.

“Right.”

Seokjin wasn’t looking at him either, suddenly feeling sore in the throat.

They never really talked about the divorce and its aftermath – Namjon overall was never keen on talking about Yoonja, and Seokjin, for some reason, assumed it all went smoothly. He knew Namjoon and Jungkook moved out as soon as the elder found a place, leaving apartment to the woman. Sangmi was already studying in Daegu and stayed away from the family’s break-up, deciding on neutrality. Taehyung was often keeping them company (as Seokjin understood from the amount of times Namjoon was mentioning him), soothing the couple’s struggles, but Jungkook had to go to therapist a few times nevertheless.

Namjoon mentioned his mother a couple of times (who still doesn’t know her son is gay, god, Seokjin, it’s a trap all the way), but Seokjin always assumed she was helping her grandson rather than him.

They had to talk about it, they had to talk about it, fuck, they had to talk about it, even if right now all Seokjin wanted was to climb back under blankets and nuzzle into Namjoon, if only to give his sleep a little bit more peace.

“Hyung thinks I shouldn’t be so defensive. He thinks I should trust in love and let go – but it’s not that simple. It was not my fault, I know and I’m not taking it on myself,” he said in an almost lesson-learned manner, “but what I can take is a promise to be there for him. We are together, he used to say, and that’s all that matters. We are together – but, well, not anymore, right?”

Jungkook let out a joyless chuckle before humming in response to the question – and suddenly standing up, startling the other.

“I don’t blame you, Seokjin-ssi, neither of you, just wanted to make sure you know that. I understand that you made this decision not in a minute. That you love each other and want to be together as well. It’s just that I love my father too. And I will miss him.”

With that, Jungkook bowed politely and left the room, sound of the closing door following closely behind. First patches of sunlight were piercing through the fog outside. The morning was speeding up – only Seokjin kept still, words swirling like dust in the air around him.