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first, it’s the apple watch.

honestly, seokjin has no understanding of why one would need a watch that has instant messaging capabilities. is that not what cellphones are for?

he had gone out for dinner with his friends, to a restaurant a short bus ride away from campus to celebrate the end of the first round of exams. they stuff themselves with as much all-you-can-eat meat as they can and leave happy, stomachs and smiles bursting alike. they’re checking the bus time schedule to see how long they have to wait for a bus to bring them back, and jimin lifts up his left arm to wake the watch screen, and—wait, is that— 

“it’s 8:43, so we shouldn’t have to wait long.” jimin drops his wrist again, and the watch face goes dark.

it must be his tired brain, just making things up. it’s probably all mush by now, after all those exams. yeah. because there’s no way… 

the lime glow of the light post they’re standing under as they wait for the bus shouldn’t be flattering in the slightest, and yet jimin still manages to look ethereal as he laughs with his whole body at one of jeongguk‘s antics.

(seokjin blames his mushy brain for this mushy thought, too.)

the bus ride back is nice and comfortable, and so very typical; namjoon is already scrolling on his phone to check for his next exam dates while hoseok tries to pry the device out his hands, and yoongi’s arms are crossed as he leans back into his seat, his eyes fondly following the two as they struggle. taehyung and jeongguk are planning on going to the pc bang next, and jimin—jimin has tucked himself into seokjin’s side, wrapping around seokjin’s left arm with both of his own like an octopus while he half-heartedly scolds taehyung and jeongguk, telling them they should go home and get some rest, they still have work the next morning.

seokjin sits back in his seat on the bus, careful not to move too abruptly as to not dislodge a comfortable, almost-sleepy jimin. he decidedly does not glance at jimin’s left wrist, and does not hope that a bump on the road will activate the screen to confirm (or deny. probably deny) that he saw one of his selcas from his instagram light up the watch face.

 

»»»

 

jimin moved into seokjin’s apartment at the beginning of the previous school year. it was convenient: seokjin’s roommate was graduating and he needed to fill the spot; jimin was looking for a new place because he wanted to move out of the dorms after his first year. facebook makes for good connections.

over a year into their living arrangement and subsequent friendship, seokjin and jimin have become plenty comfortable around each other and developed a weekly routine. on saturdays, they go grocery shopping, and then they meal prep their lunches for the week on sunday. every other thursday is movie night, wednesdays after classes are reserved for the weightroom, and as of late, they take turns doing their joint laundry after they come home from the gym.

(“you do your laundry together?” yoongi had asked seokjin when it somehow came up in conversation, one brow arched so high up it disappeared into his bangs. “that’s married couple shit.”

“no it’s not,” seokjin grumbled back. “it’s just... efficient. if we throw our dirty clothes in together, it fills up the washing machine and we can do laundry every week, instead of every other week but separately, just to save money. it’s gross not to wash our clothes after we get back from the gym!”

“which you also go to. together. and do you fold jimin’s underwear for him after you get the clothes out of the dryer?”

after three entire seconds of silence, yoongi reached over to flick one of seokjin’s reddening ears. “yeah. you’re married.”)

they don’t have anything planned on tuesdays, but today they still find themselves in each other’s company. seokjin is outlining an essay at the kitchen table when jimin comes home from the dance studio and plops himself face-first onto the couch. 

seokjin puts down his pen. “long day?”

jimin mumbles something into the cushion in response, then lifts up his head towards seokjin. “i’m hungry.”

“‘yes, hyung, thanks for asking. how was your day?’” seokjin says cheekily, pitching up his voice in a low-effort attempt to mimic jimin’s voice.

hyung,” jimin whines, i’m tired and hungry. please feed me.”

seokjin snorts and closes his laptop. “okay, fine. i was gonna make fried rice. you want?”

“yes, please!” jimin jumps up from where he’s sprawled on the couch to go throw his arms around seokjin from behind. “you’re my favorite hyung.”

the weight of the younger on his shoulders is welcome, and seokjin’s not sure if he leaned back or if jimin pulled him in. “yeah, i know. now go shower, you smell.”

jimin tightens his arms around seokjin’s neck into a loose chokehold. “that’s mean. take it back.”

seokjin turns his head to bite at jimin’s arm, and his cackles join jimin’s cry of surprise as the younger pulls back to rub at the fresh teeth marks.

“the fuck! you actually bit me!”

“not the first time, won’t be the last. now, go!”

jimin pouts at seokjin and starts stomping down the hall to his room, but it’s obvious that jimin isn’t the slightest bit angry judging by the way his crescent-shaped eyes hold so much mirth. smiling to himself, seokjin stands to fix the couch pillows, disorganized after jimin threw himself onto them, and as he straightens the last one against the couch arm, something lights up in his periphery—jimin’s phone. he fishes it out from between the cushions and is about to call out to his roommate when he sees it. not the notification from taehyung that reads, “we just set our kitchen on fire again”—which, he’ll definitely have to come back to that later—but what’s behind it: a photo of someone’s back as they face the stove, broad shoulders taking up almost the whole width of the screen. 

he could try to convince himself that he doesn’t recognize this person, but the backdrop is undeniably their kitchen, and the faceless man is wearing a shirt that he owns. 

he’s not sure how long he stares at it, but eventually the screen turns black and he catches sight of his reflection—his face betrays just as much shock as he feels. he stands there for another moment and is only spurred back to life when another text comes in from taehyung: “put out the fire! lost our dinner, tho. wanna eat out with us?”

wondering how taehyung and jeongguk even manage to survive on their own, seokjin locks jimin’s phone and places it back face-down on the couch. he’ll just… pretend he didn’t see any of that?

seokjin sets about making dinner, relieved that there’s enough day-old rice for two. he’s chopping carrots when he stops trying to ignore the fact that jimin’s home screen is a photo of him. not even, like, the more-conspicuous lock screen. and what about the apple watch, which he also tried to forget but clearly hadn’t? what does all of this mean?

when seokjin is almost done with dinner, jimin emerges from the hall, dressed in pajamas. “hyung, have you seen my phone?” he asks, running a hand through his damp hair. “can’t find it.”

yes, seen too much, honestly, seokjin thinks, flush spreading quickly to his ears. “try the couch?” 

after padding over to the couch, jimin locates the phone and picks it up, falling back onto the cushions again. “ah, you were right.” then after a pause, he laughs, “taehyung and jeongguk burned their dinner again. they’re hopeless.”

“that does not surprise me one bit.” he turns fully to the stove so his face is hidden from jimin’s—it would easily give away that he already knew that. “they’re a combined threat to society.”

jimin laughs, and seokjin hears the sound of feet on the kitchen tile coming up from behind him. “that they are. it smells really good, hyung. you need any help?”

“can you just set the table?”

happy to be of use, jimin sets about grabbing plates and utensils, humming what’s most likely the song he’s learning choreography to at the moment for class.

a small part of seokjin decides that he’s pleased about jimin not taking up taehyung’s offer to eat together tonight.

 

»»»

 

seeing as it’s seokjin’s last year before he’s thrown into Real Adult Society, he figures it’s also time to spruce up his linkedin profile. 

this is how he ends up all suited up in a quiet part of campus, standing in front of jeongguk and his camera. jeongguk chose the location, taking advantage of the cloudy day for ideal lighting, and the wall of a classroom building adorned with vines for a unique, yet simple backdrop. (“i refuse to shoot you indoors against some boring white wall, hyung,” jeongguk said when seokjin asked if all this was necessary. “this isn’t a yearbook photo! your face deserves better than that.”)

and wherever jeongguk is, you can always expect to also find taehyung—so the latter hovers over jeongguk from behind now, a lollipop in his mouth as he peeks at the viewfinder.

“ooh, looks good, hyung. very sexy.”

seokjin rolls his eyes and tries not to blush under the attention. “i’m not going for sexy, taehyung. this is professional. these are supposed to say, ‘hire me, i studied really hard for years and want to make money now!’”

taehyung pulls the candy out of his mouth with an obnoxious, wet, pop. “and you can’t be hireable and sexy?”

“you can, and you are,” jeongguk says, sounding pleased. he lowers his camera. “let’s try some without the jacket.”

 

when jeongguk decides he’s gotten the shot, he begins packing away his camera, and seokjin pulls a hoodie out of his backpack, replacing it with his suit jacket. since jeongguk vehemently protested being paid for his work, seokjin had said he would at least treat him to gongcha after, and so he came prepared with a change of clothes. (now that he’s thinking about it, it suddenly makes more sense why taehyung is here, too.)

“oh, nice hoodie, hyung,” taehyung says in appraisal as seokjin adjusts the fabric around his shoulders.

a thanks is on the tip of his tongue when jeongguk says, “oh, it’s the same one you’re wearing on jimin’s ipad wallpaper!”

the single word of appreciation gets trapped in his throat. “wh—what?”

taehyung reaches over to fix the hood so that it’s not inside-out. “you’re wearing this in his ipad background,” he says again, matter-of-factly and not-at-all helpfully. “we were using his crunchyroll the other day.”

all seokjin can do is nod and act like he knew this. “uh, yeah, it’s one of my favorites.”

jeongguk zips up his camera bag and gives it a gentle pat. “bubble tea?”

seokjin nods again, and as two arms wrap around his shoulders from either side as they set off in the nearest gongcha’s direction, he wonders, finally, if jimin is doing all this intentionally.

 

»»»

 

even though his friends have not once been useful to him in his entire life, seokjin decides to take a chance and ask them for their advice.

“i think,” yoongi drawls, unmoving from where he lies face down on the floor of his apartment, “you’re married.”

hoseok, after erupting into laughter at yoongi’s very unfunny statement, adds, “at the very least, i think it screams ‘romantic interest.’ it’s that, or stalking.”

seokjin turns expectantly to namjoon, raising a brow, daring him.

“you... you wash your underwear together,” namjoon mumbles, averting seokjin’s eyes.

seokjin leans back onto his hands and looks up at the ceiling. “i knew it. you’re all useless.”

“not really sure what you wanted us to say, hyung.” hoseok moves to lie so his head rests in the dip of yoongi’s back. “maybe jimin-ah wants you to notice; he wants your attention.”

“well, we know at least you’ve got his.”

this sends hoseok into another round of giggles, and seokjin can’t help but join in a little, maybe not because of the jimin thing, but the simple joy of being able to drink with his friends on a weekend night.

“so what, you think i should tell him i saw his phone screen?”

this is directed at namjoon, because the other two aren’t listening—yoongi is weakly trying to roll out from under hoseok while hoseok pins him down by the shoulders. seokjin is looking away, respectfully.

“i just think that if it were me, i’d lose my mind, not knowing why. but i guess the key difference here is that you actually do know why, somewhere in that tsundere heart of yours.” namjoon reaches over to poke at seokjin’s chest for emphasis.

he can vehemently try to deny it, but seokjin wonders if namjoon is on to something. he knows fuck all about chemistry, but sometimes, some part of seokjin feels like there’s... something. is there such a thing as litmus paper for requited love? 

he swats at namjoon’s hand. “i’m not a fucking tsundere.”

namjoon grins. “that’s what a tsundere would say, hyung.”

 

»»»

 

in the days following, seokjin covertly attempts to catch a peek at jimin’s device backgrounds again, just so he can be sure of it himself. the apple watch incident was a few weeks ago, and it happened so fast, it could have been his imagination? and, well, he’s a bit more sure about the phone, he stared at it quite some time… but it could be another person? maybe jimin has other broad-shouldered friends and he invited them over. (even though seokjin spends most evenings at home. it’s possible.) as for the ipad… can you ever trust jeongguk or taehyung? and them combined—a disaster. they were probably just messing with him.

but seokjin is unsuccessful in getting even a glance, and he is way above snooping through jimin’s stuff.

and through all of this, their weekly schedule is unchanging: they went grocery shopping on saturday, and they cooked on sunday, and today, a wednesday, they’re at the gym. 

they start off at the treadmills to warm up, and seokjin sees jimin fiddling with his apple watch, probably to record his workout. he turns his head with the intention of sneaking a look at the watch, but sees that jimin is already looking at him. when their eyes meet, jimin’s soft smile stretches into a grin, and seokjin is torn between looking away in embarrassment and fully indulging himself of being the subject of jimin’s undivided attention. 

he stares back—or at least, it feels like staring, but it really couldn’t have been for more than one second—until he mumbles back a weak “what,” turning back to his machine to adjust the settings.

“nothing,” jimin says, and seokjin isn’t looking at him anymore, but his smile is still evident in that single spoken word.

seokjin tries to empty his mind, to not think about jimin’s flawless skin and the shine in his eyes and his adorable toothy smile, because in a few short minutes, he has to spot jimin at the bench press. and he especially needs his full concentration today, seeing that jimin has chosen violence by deciding to wear a tank top. no sleeves! it’s violence!

 

»»»

 

seokjin has a group meeting on campus at six, so he showers first when they get home. as he’s putting on his shoes at the door, he calls out, “thanks in advance for doing the laundry, jimin-ah. i’ll probably eat dinner out with my group tonight, so i’ll see you later.”

“stop thanking me every time, we have a system.” jimin peeks his head out from the hallway to send seokjin off and waves. “but no problem. good luck!”

 

when seokjin comes back to the apartment three hours later, he finds that it’s dark and quiet. he pads down the hall to see a stream of light filtering out from under jimin’s door. there’s the faint thrum of music and the sound of feet hitting the floor, in irregular patterns, but always in time with the beat—the telltale signs of a boy who never stops practicing. seokjin smiles to himself and continues down to his room, but his smile twists a bit in shyness when he opens the door. on his bed is his laundry from the past week, neatly folded and sorted into little piles. one for his shirts, another for sweaters, his jeans, sweats, and then... his boxers.

he has to admit that it’s not the most conventional thing, for roommates to do laundry together, but he thinks it’s so them. as he sorts his folded laundry into the appropriate places in his dresser, he replays moments of their comfortable domesticity in his head—the laundry thing, for one, but also things like pushing a shopping cart down the aisles of the supermarket together as they try to recall things that are already in their fridge and thus don’t need to buy, or cuddling during their biweekly movie night, seokjin massaging jimin’s feet after a strenuous week of practice, and jimin making tea for the both of them and knocking on seokjin’s door to deliver his mug to him. and… well, now, he guesses, jimin making his backgrounds photos of seokjin, too.

instead of disrupting jimin’s practice, seokjin sends him a text: “i know u said not to thank you, but thanks for folding my laundry. good luck practicing <3”

he gets a response later, as he’s tucking himself in bed: “then i don’t know why you’re thanking me anyway… but it’s no problem 😊 ty 💜💜” 

then a few seconds later, “goodnight! sleep well! 😚”

seokjin doesn’t respond, just plugs his phone into the charger, places it on the nightstand, and then covers his eyes with the back of his hand.

they’ve never really talked about it, but it’s clear they’re both dancing (hah) around the question: what are we? 

it doesn’t really matter, seokjin thinks as he feels his arm already sliding off his face, muscles relaxing as he falls asleep. because we’re good together already as we are.

 

»»»

 

if we’re all familiar with the schedule by now, you would remember that every other thursday is movie night.

it’s thursday, and seokjin comes out of his room at eight o’clock after getting a couple hours of studying in. jimin is already on the couch with his legs crossed, the light from his laptop screen illuminating his makeup-free face.

seokjin falls back into the spot next to jimin with all his weight, ready to unwind after reading and rereading his textbook on… ugh, he doesn’t even want to think about it anymore. “hyung is ready to passively absorb visual media like a basking shark consuming plankton for the next two or so hours. what’re we watching, jimin-ah?”

jimin keeps scrolling on his laptop. “i don’t know, i can’t choose. you wanna look?” then, he turns and places the laptop on seokjin’s lap.

using an elbow to push himself up, he moves to sit upright and adjusts the laptop. “i chose last time, though. at least tell me what genre you want, or like what kinda—”

the rest of the sentence dies on seokjin’s tongue, because peeking from the top of the non-maximized web browser, is what looks really, really, really like his own hairline.

and, like, he’s sure that forensic scientists or fbi agents or whoever does people-identifying stuff wouldn’t use just one’s hairline to confirm their identity, but… still. that really looks like his hair.

“uh…” seokjin looks to his right, to see jimin’s attention fixed on his phone as he scrolls through an app, maybe his email? so seokjin uses this opportunity to grab the edge of the window with the cursor. he hovers like this for a second, afraid to pull it down, but then he does, and—

“um… jimin.”

“yeah?”

“why…” seokjin clears his throat, cheeks hot with something that isn’t quite embarrassment. but close. “why is your desktop photo… my headshot?” he doesn’t look at jimin, just stares back at his own face on jimin’s computer screen.

“oh. i asked jeonggukkie for it and then i set it as my screensaver.”

seokjin blinks. “okay… but i mean, why is it your screensaver?”

if seokjin was looking, he would have caught jimin’s tiny smirk before he schooled his expression. “because you’re so pretty, hyung.” he sounds so innocent, so unassuming. “why wouldn’t i want to see your face everywhere?”

“uh…?”

“honestly, you inspired me, hyung, when i saw your home screen first.”

he whips his head to the right. his home screen?

seokjin swears he can literally feel his stomach falling out of his ass. “my… you what?” he squeaks.

“well,” jimin says, and his voice is small, a bit sheepish. “you left your phone unlocked on the table once when you stood up during dinner to grab seconds, and i saw…”

what jimin saw would be a photo of himself from months ago, mid-laugh with all his teeth showing. they were in the library, sitting across from each other at a long communal desk, and jimin was trying to stand all his pens upright during a self-proclaimed study break. when jimin managed to get all ten of his pens in various colors standing, he hurriedly asked seokjin to take a picture—but as seokjin was snapping the photo, someone got up from the desk and shook it, causing all the pens to topple. the photo immortalized the exact moment jimin started barking in laughter as the pens were on their way down (and also the one right before a library assistant came by to shush them).

it’s the moment seokjin realized he has Feelings for jimin. with a capital ‘f.’

“i didn’t mean to look, it’s just...” worry clouds jimin’s face as seokjin continues to sit in silence with his mouth agape. “i’m sorry, hyung. can you say something?”

seokjin clears his throat again, blinking away the memory from that day in the library. there’s no point in lying, really—he’d been caught. “uh. it’s… it’s okay, jimin.”

they stare at each other for a moment before a small smile returns to jimin’s face. “is that all?”

“um.” jimin doesn’t seem angry about seokjin using the photo as his background. what’s going on? “yes? i mean, i have questions. but don’t you, too? like, why i used your photo in the first place…”

jimin just laughs and scoots a little closer towards seokjin. “no. i know why, i think.”

seokjin blinks. “you do,” he says flatly.

“yeah.” jimin tilts his head, coy. “you like me.”

he says it like he’s observing the weather outside.

“is that okay?”

but then jimin’s eyes widen. “wait, you do?”

seokjin closes the laptop that’s resting on his thighs, maybe a little too forcefully—he did not just get uno reverse-carded. “wha—you said it first? why are you asking me!?”

“oh.” and jimin has the nerve to look abashed, eyes cast downwards and lip curling at one end, toying with the hem of his shirt. “because i like you, too. and if you mean it, it’d be nice if we could skip the awkward confessions.”

“... was this entire exchange not an awkward confession?”

jimin finally moves so that he’s facing seokjin and laughs, something between a giggle and a snort. “maybe a little. it wasn’t that bad.”

“wait. so, you wanted me to see all those on purpose?”

seokjin falls back onto the arm of the couch as jimin laughs and throws his entire weight onto the elder. “yeah. i just think you’re the nicest, prettiest hyung. i made all my wallpapers photos of you, partly to tease you, but also because i like seeing your face all the time.”

he thinks about pushing jimin off, but instead, pulls him in just the slightest bit. words fail him for a few seconds, and in that time, jimin rearranges himself so he’s tucked into the crook of seokjin’s neck, feet curled up on the couch. sometimes, they end up like this after they finish a movie, a little drunk and a lot tired, finding comfort by becoming a tangle of limbs in the living room, dimly lit by the rolling credits on the tv. tonight, they’ve just skipped the whole movie.

the closed laptop is wedged in between them after jimin clung onto seokjin, and the cool metal against his shirt brings him back to reality. he moves a hand that was resting on jimin’s back to loosely grab a fistful of the younger’s hair.

“so you thought the best thing to do was mess with me?”

seokjin feels jimin’s giggles vibrating in his chest before they bubble out of him. “seokjin-hyung, don’t be mad. you know it’s kinda how we do things.” not a single time does jimin try to escape from seokjin’s grasp.

spreading out his fingers, seokjin releases his grip on jimin’s hair to instead run his hand through it. “i still think you could have… oh, i don’t know. used your words.”

“as if you would have. if i didn’t do something, we would still be in mutual-pining-jail. at least i figured out some way to escape.”

not feeling up for a debate (or, more accurately, not feeling up to admitting that jimin is right) seokjin just sighs and continues stroking jimin’s soft hair, the way he likes—slow pets starting from the crown of his head and ending at his nape, shifting his hand over slightly each time so that eventually he’ll cover all of the back of jimin’s head.

“hyung?” jimin’s voice is muffled, lips moving against seokjin’s collarbone.

“hm?”

“can i keep my wallpapers as they are?”

even as seokjin rolls his eyes, never mind that jimin can’t even see him, a smile plays across his lips. “do whatever you want.”

there’s another round of giggles and jimin’s nose burrows even deeper into seokjin’s neck. “you can make all your backgrounds pictures of me, too. make it your home screen. don’t be shy.”

“i’m not shy, you brat. just not shameless, like you.”

jimin’s head jerks up. “so are you saying you don’t want people to know i’m yours?” his eyes are narrowed exaggeratedly, voice light and playful, but seokjin knows there’s a hint of insecurity behind jimin’s question. it’s a good thing that seokjin is well-versed in “how to take care of park jimin,” where the first lesson is to remind him he’s loved whenever you can.

seokjin runs his hand through jimin’s hair again, and leaning in close to his ear, whispers, “there are plenty of other ways to tell people that you’re mine.”

jimin gasps and slaps seokjin in the chest. “i hate you.”

“i meant i could write you a love song, but okay.”

“i still hate you and you’re embarrassing.”

seokjin throws out more and more ridiculous ways he could show jimin that he’s loved while jimin gets redder and redder, but their combined laughter never ceases, because they both know that no public declaration of love beats this—wrapped up in each other on the couch, bickering in jest while they share in the warmth of the other. 

and to think, it all started from a flash of an apple watch—or perhaps, when he left his phone open on the dining table?

seokjin could not have asked for a better roommate.