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With one-minded pursuit, Kim Seokjin: stabs Jimin’s door code in, kicks his sandals off in the foyer, rushes into the common room, and—as soon as he catches sight of yellow-blonde poking up over the back of the couch—blurts, “We had sex.”

Jimin instantly jerks up from where he’s curved up against Yoongi’s side. “What?” His eyes are still smudged with last night’s eyeliner—exhaustion drooping the outer corners down towards his cheekbones—but, now alert, he tracks Seokjin as Seokjin circles around to get a better view of the disgusting lovebirds (lovecats?) dressed in one another’s clothes: Jimin in Yoongi’s sweatshirt, Yoongi in Jimin’s too-large sleep tee.

“I think,” Seokjin amends. He threads his fingers together against his belly and waits.

“With Namjoonie?” Yoongi doesn’t look conscious, face slack with sleep, a dead arm draped around Jimin’s middle. His morning voice reminds Seokjin of rocks rattling inside a plastic container. The night wasn’t kind to him, either, it seems; oddly enough, that gives Seokjin some comfort amongst the madness.

“You think,” Jimin deadpans. “You think you had sex.”

“Yes. More than a kiss, less than… body parts inside of—other body parts.” He isn’t sure what else to offer without delving into the filthy details. “Well,” Seokjin pauses to reconsider, “kinda. I think.” His laughter comes out more like a mangled cough.

Jimin doesn’t look impressed. Yoongi still doesn’t look conscious. Regardless, Jimin slowly untangles himself from Yoongi and pushes up onto his elbows, assessing Seokjin from head-to-toe as if—if he stares long enough—whatever happened after he left with Yoongi will transfer into his own mind. And, in a way, maybe it does: Seokjin is draped in the brown leather jacket Namjoon let him borrow in between bar-hopping. It hangs over his shoulders, leather arms flapping down over Seokjin’s real arms in the same manner Namjoon had first placed it onto him. I have more muscle mass than you; I’ll be okay, he’d laughed when Seokjin gave a weak complaint about letting a dongsaeng suffer to keep him warm. Also—you look better in it. Seokjin’s ears had set on fire, tattling on him even as he gave a weak, scoffing, of course it does, and blinked out towards the sidewalk.

Last night, Seokjin kept the jacket on over his blouse, tugging the lapels over the keyhole neckline whenever a breeze came through and nipped at his chest and collarbones. This morning, Seokjin has a plain sleep tee underneath it, sweats hanging low on his hips. Namjoon forgot to take it with him after he left Seokjin’s. It’s easier to deliver it to Jimin to then deliver it to Namjoon rather than risk the possibility of an awkward, embarrassing debrief of their night by reaching out himself. Allegedly.

“Alright,” Jimin drawls once it’s made clear Seokjin won’t be giving anymore context without prompting. “So… how do you feel? Like a non-straight man?”

“I’ll let you know as soon as I figure out what a straight man feels like.”

“He had sex with Namjoonie?” Yoongi repeats. His eyes are now twenty-percent open.

Jimin says, “He thinks.”

“Didn’t think you had it in you.” Yoongi licks at his lips and lets his eyes shut completely again. “Just thought you liked the attention.”

Seokjin huffs a scandalized breath. “Yoongi-yah… wow.” He’s going to have to pretend that isn’t a true statement, if only for the sake of his post-(gay)-sex vulnerability. “I’m talking to Jiminie right now; maybe you should go back to sleep and wake up when you’re ready to be respectful.”

Yoongi gets comfortable, smacks his lips. “Mm. Sorry, hyungnim.” Dreadfully disingenuous. Seokjin will remember this.

Jimin gives Yoongi’s left pec a swat, giggles when Yoongi grimaces and pushes his bottom lip out. “That’s rude, baby.” Punishment aside, he doesn’t sound the least bit offended on Seokjin’s behalf either. This may have been a bad idea. Jimin bites his smile away and asks him, “Okay. Maybe you two had sex. Did you enjoy it?”

Seokjin wraps the jacket tighter around his torso and slowly lowers himself onto the adjacent couch. “Ye—yes? I—don’t know if it’s because…” He takes a quick glance towards Yoongi. “If it’s because I liked the attention, or—if I just. Liked it. Am I making sense?” The mangled-cough-laughter bubbles up on instinct, nerves gurgling deep in his chest.

“You are.” Jimin gentles his eyes. “But. No regrets? You don’t feel, like… coerced?”

He thinks this one over. Then, “No. If there was any coercion, I think I coerced myself.”

“To like it?”

“To not overthink it.”

Jimin doesn’t offer anything else other than his gentle stare. It coaxes Seokjin to settle back against the cushion, shoulders finally going loose after the whirlwind of his morning.

He’s never considered himself ‘aggressively’ straight. He’s not ‘aggressively’ anything—except maybe annoying, according to Min Yoongi when he’s in a sour mood and Seokjin won’t stop cracking jokes. In fact, he’s never given much thought to his sexuality at all. It wasn’t a pressing matter growing up in Gwacheon; it did not progress systematically like each tick on the wall his mother made with every passing centimeter; it couldn’t be tracked and laid out in his school folders like test grades; it didn’t earn him a seat at Seoul Institute of the Arts, nor could it be written out on a CV as an accomplishment, an experience.

That was Seokjin’s overdrawn way of recognizing that his ‘sexuality’ wasn’t anywhere near the realm of consideration—and beneath contempt wasn’t the right phrase, because that meant it mattered enough to be given that description.

Seokjin also recognized: his father and brother and cousins and uncles spoke of women. At the dining table, at luncheons, at business events and in the corner of rooftop bars, when the wives and girlfriends were out of earshot, distracted with one another. His high school friends were hormonal young men—the consequence of going to an all-boys school—and they’d traded computer files filled with clips of women, women, and more women. Seokjin’s first, second, third, and fourth relationships were with women. His one or two flings were with women.

Seokjin had never given men much thought, because it’d never even occurred to him that he could think of men at all.

Before last night, that was where he stood on the matter.

Leading up to last night, Seokjin grappled with the idea that he wanted to inject some newness to his life. That’s what he told Jimin after Jimin swatted him on the back of the head and asked why he kept sighing and groaning instead of studying. Because Seokjin only knew Gwacheon and Seoul and luncheons and business dinners—but Jimin, a Seoul-transplant as mandated by his matriculation into Seoul Institute of the Arts—knew what it meant to live a little recklessly, a lot wildly, less like his rigid, no-nonsense ballet lectures and more like those rattling Yoongi-rocks let out of the plastic container, and Seokjin was tired of living vicariously through him.

Seokjin likes bars. Seokjin goes to bars. He goes to clubs on odd weekends and gets tipsy and will offer a kiss to any pretty woman that sees an opportunity and grabs at it. Seokjin does not (did not) know what Park Jimin et al. knows. The clubs and bars in Incheon that you’d have memorized as if it were the creases in your palm if you were young, queer, and willing. All the Jongno-gu hotspots with their twisted, neon ambiances, subtleties, and, occasionally, flamboyance urging you inside. A world’s world, not hidden but easily missed if you weren’t inclined.

And while Jimin is the Seoul-transplant, sometimes Seokjin feels like it was he who relocated to a city not meant for him. Taking up space in a friend group—Jimin et al.—that gave him the privilege to do so. Yoongi, Jungkook, Hoseok, Taehyung, Namjoon: Seokjin’s privilege is never having had to consider what his sexuality means to him.

His privilege is being allowed to be bored and wanting to chase that new-life-feel. Wanting to be wanted, to be desired, attention from a man that knew his way around another man. These things fell into his lap the night Jimin asked if he was comfortable clubbing with them in the crooks of the city that he wasn’t inclined to.

Seokjin’s been trained to seize any opportunity given to him.

Now, he wonders if every opportunity needs to be seized.

“Do you think he thinks I took advantage of him?” Seokjin asks quietly.

Jimin gives pause. With bubbling laughter, “I think he thinks he had a good time with a very beautiful man. It’s sex. He likes sex.”

“He thinks it’s sex,” slurs Yoongi.

Jimin pinches his cheek with a thumb and forefinger. “Go to sleep, princess.”

“Fuck. I told myself not to overthink it.” Seokjin curls farther into himself, jacket lapels tugged over his chest by his hands. Notes of Namjoon’s cologne clings to the leather, pluming up into Seokjin’s nose whenever he manipulates it. That’s—definitely not helping here. “Am I overthinking it?”

“Or just thinking.” Jimin shrugs both shoulders, lips pursed. “Give it time to settle; this is your personal journey. It could be that you’re straight, and this was an experience that you needed to have to confirm it. You could also be… not-straight, and you may still end up marrying a woman and living happily ever after. You don’t have to have it figured out literal hours after doing—whatever you two did. Okay? Hyung?”

He wonders if Namjoon still thinks he’s straight. Should he ask?

No. Bad idea. Seokjin isn’t sure if he wants to know the real answer. They’d kissed goodbye at the front door, even, and there was a glitter in Namjoon’s pupils that felt equal-parts ominous and exciting. (And then, once Namjoon was gone, both emotions spun and spun until Seokjin was left with the leather jacket, wet hair, and dread. It overwhelmed him, resolute through his exhaustion.)

“Okay,” Seokjin squeaks. “Give it time. It’ll settle.” It’s settling, yeah, like a boulder in his gut. “Thanks.” He jerks up, Jimin tracking his every move with careful eyes. “Give this back to Namjoonie, will you? It feels expensive, so I know it’ll be missed.” He shoves the jacket off his shoulders; it makes a dull thwap as it hits the couch.

Yoongi blinks at him from upside down. “Wanna stay for breakfast? ‘M about to cook.”

“Not hungry. Thank you.” Seokjin shifts, falters, shifts again, falters again. He peeks over to where Jimin and Yoongi are both now watching him, heads turned as if they’re controlled by the same string. This is what zoo animals must feel like. “Goodbye.”

Jimin frowns. “Don’t wanna at least tell us about how it went? Just a teaser?”

“Honestly? No.” Seokjin begins to back away, one foot behind the other. “I—I need it to settle. Thanks, Jimin-ah. No thanks, Yoongi-yah.”

Yoongi gives a sleepy blink. “Always here to help.”

“Come by later? Yoongi’s cooking dinner, too.” Jimin smiles, a try to appear inviting. Seokjin revisits the zoo animal metaphor. It’s like he’s being approached with trepidation. He can’t withstand this—whatever this is. Time to go.

“I’ll see. Might be still asleep. Long night for an old man. Ha-ha.”

With that, Seokjin makes his escape, navigating through the same route he came in on and yet not any closer to self-actualization. He can feel Yoongi and Jimin watch him go without another word.

 

 

 

Seokjin only knew sober, daytime Kim Namjoon. Sharp in the mind, edges rounded out, brimming with enough respect that he made up for Yoongi twice over. They kept interactions very polite, very proper; Namjoon never seemed to know how to respond to Seokjin’s banter. If he could match a quip with another quip from a hyung without toeing into unmannered territory. He’d unclenched overtime, but he’d never forsaken that kind, polite disposition, his have a good study day, hyung as he bowed his head and left the café Seokjin, Hoseok, and Jimin frequented to complete their assignments.

Namjoon didn’t go to an art school like they did; he’d heard from Hoseok—the one that Namjoon knew first from his own brief stint in slam poetry and talent nights at Hongdae bars—that Namjoon graduated from KU with a four-year degree in public administration. His father worked in the Occupational Safety branch of the Ministry of Employment and Labor while Namjoon studied on KU’s Sejong campus. Very convenient.

On weekends and odd days off, Namjoon would board the KTX and make the hour-trip to Seoul, escaping his father’s watchful eye to then stay with his mother and sister—or Hoseok, since he had a place of his own and didn’t live in any form of campus housing like Taehyung and Jungkook. These were details relayed by Hoseok as Seokjin gradually got to know Namjoon; details that Namjoon didn’t seem comfortable speaking to. “He doesn’t wanna come off, I ‘dunno,” Hoseok waved a hand around, dismissing the tense air after Namjoon’s departure, “not—artsy?”

It’d been another evening in their café, and Namjoon came by to drop off some cheese-pastry Jimin and Hoseok requested. Seokjin asked, “You’re a government family, huh?” in a weak attempt to establish some sort of relationship (Who knows! Seokjin was grasping straws here!) and Namjoon gave a cough, a wry, dimpled grin, and a quiet, “Not really,” before he found a way to escape. I’ll let you guys concentrate. Fighting. Seokjin was flabbergasted.

“I have no idea how answering that question could make him sound ‘not artsy’, but alright. Fine. No government-family questions,” Seokjin hiccup-laughed at the time—but it did leave a sting. Like a water-in-a-papercut sting.

Namjoon from a distance wasn’t the Namjoon that Namjoon was when Seokjin was within earshot. Seokjin understood, rationally, respecting your elders, remaining conscious of their age gap and unfamiliarity, but damn it! Seokjin wanted the lax, clever Namjoon that quipped at Yoongi and swatted Hoseok’s ass while Hoseok laughed with glee and kissed Jimin’s fingers when he mashed them between a door and its jamb! He wanted the Namjoon that wrestled with Jungkook and pretended to let him win! He wanted the Namjoon that held sword-fights with Taehyung with invisible swords until there was an invisible victor! Why did Seokjin only get the yes, hyung, sorry, hyung, okay, hyung, thank you, hyung? Fuck! And it was as if nobody else really noticed except him! Which he also understood could’ve been because there was already so much action and interspersed conversation happening that he and Namjoon never had a genuine, private moment to talk without interruption. But. Still.

If anyone told Seokjin that the key was to join Jimin et al. on their weekend gay-bar excursions, he wouldn’t have believed them. If anyone told Seokjin that he’d garner the courage to accept joining Jimin et al. on their weekend gay-bar excursions… he may have believed that one. There were three important facts about him: he liked friends, he liked drinking, and he liked attention. (Congratulations, Min Yoongi. You were right.) More than that, Seokjin wanted that newness, he wanted to be included in the fun that Jimin et al. got into and talked about the week after while he sat there and listened quietly, nothing to contribute since he hadn’t gone. He realized late that the clench in his throat meant he felt—he felt like he was missing out.

On what? Friendship? Relationship-building? Excitement? Being queer?

Those could all be true at once—maybe minus the ‘being queer’. Jimin’s queerness certainly helped build his friend group at school, Seokjin benefiting since he automatically had five new friends, too. A buy one get five deal, Jimin was: Jimin’s partner Min Yoongi, Min Yoongi’s hoobae Jeon Jungkook, Jimin’s classmate-friend Kim Taehyung, Taehyung’s boyfriend Jung Hoseok, Hoseok’s friend Kim Namjoon. Years later and here they were. Tight like they were the old friends Seokjin never had back in high school.

…Except maybe Namjoon was still an acquaintance.

Until. Until Seokjin accepted the invite, and—for the first time in his life—he was going to go gay-bar hopping in Itaewon. He’d passed ‘the test’ with flying colors, apparently; as the only straight man in the group, it was important they assessed him carefully before Full-Time Initiation—Taehyung’s words.

What, Seokjin squeaked at the time, is there some separate KaTalk group chat you guys discuss this kinda stuff in? Am I being left out?! Taehyung and Jimin’s averted gazes and silence were answer enough.

(So now Seokjin knows Jimin et al. has a group chat that doesn’t include him. His crime? Being straight.)

(Fair. Seokjin could accept that; boundaries were important. That was something he understood best: setting realistic expectations, not prying. Protecting yourself. Seokjin never wanted to intrude despite his jokes about feeling left out slash discriminated against that Jimin and Taehyung always took well. Very funny, hyung, haha, what a jester. Aimless banter!)

Regardless of the reason, he’d been invited and he’d accepted. Seokjin was a fully initiated member now, and he’d spent the weeks leading up to the weekend with pep-talks, letting nervous excitement tickle at him, prepped to explore every facet of himself. This was about letting loose, having fun, not overthinking—Seokjin knew how to do that.

This morning, Seokjin—shut inside his car and post-(gay)-sex pyjamas and damp hair and anxious skin—reviews last night as if it’d happened in a movie. To a him from another dimension. A fever dream could also be an acceptable interpretation.

Dramatic? Sure. Seokjin can be dramatic. He thinks (dramatically, he supposes) about his life in Gwacheon up until his life today.

His sexuality did not progress systematically like ticks on a wall that rose in centimeter-increments; it’d been shaken and dumped out of a plastic container like Yoongi-rocks.

 

 

 

 

He begins, as he does, with last night at Jimin’s.

“They’re going to be fucking obsessed with you,” Jimin is telling Seokjin where he straddles Yoongi’s belly, eyeliner brush suspended over Yoongi’s closed lids. “I think you’re too gorgeous to go out with us.” The lovecats are lying on Jimin’s common room floor, table shoved aside to make room for the scatter of makeup palettes.

“Always have been,” Seokjin says. “But thanks for finally noticing.” Feigned braggadocio despite it all.

He showered and dressed himself at his own apartment and then hopped the train to Jimin’s to carpool; Yoongi and Jungkook were there before him, Taehyung, Namjoon and Hoseok already at their first choice of a bar. He’d been primed by Jimin via KaTalk to wear something ‘alluring and sexy,’ and Seokjin could do that, no problem. His face is the sexy, his outfit is the allure: a blouse made see-through by the doily-patterned material, his skin teased through every gap. It has a keyhole neckline that follows along into the collar. His jeans are light and tight at his thighs, skin nearly pouring out through slits made mid-way up. Seokjin’s done the whole routine: tinted chapstick to his pout, foundation dabbed, fringe parted to flash the left half of his forehead, a thin chain at his collarbones, a band on his right ring finger. Subtle touches because he doesn’t need to do much to stand out. He can accomplish that in a tracksuit if he wants.

Yoongi peeks over at him, says, “We’re going to have to make a plan to save you from pushy men. They can get pretty assertive, hyung.”

No problem. “It’s fine. I’m not afraid of men,” Seokjin retorts. “Except maybe my father. You know how those things go.”

Jungkook gives a nose-scrunched giggle where he sits flicking along his phone, draped in his signature black on black. Seokjin goes to plop down onto the couch beside him, crosses his legs, happy for the laughing backtrack.

“Princess, close your eyes, please,” Jimin murmurs. He wiggles the eyeliner brush. “Important job here.” When Yoongi hums and silently acquiesces, “Just stick with us and you’ll be fine,” he tells Seokjin. “Okay?”

“That was the plan.” Seokjin gives a dismissive wrist flick. Warnings aren’t necessary; he’s going to make memories with his friends no matter what happens tonight; sticking with them is the most essential part to making true on that. Though… slipping away to earn a few free drinks from pining men isn’t that awful of an idea.

While Yoongi receives his finishing touches from a giggling Jimin (Lips out. Ah, you’re so cute. So cute, baby.), Seokjin keeps busy by trying to snatch Jungkook’s phone from him, howling, “What’re you looking at! Lemme see! Show hyung your phone, Jungkook-ah!” and earning himself a shove off the couch for his efforts. “Disrespectful! I should spank you for that!”

Jungkook lisp-giggles, “Wanna see you try,” challenge in his eyes as he assesses Seokjin head to toe.

“Keep bullying him and you’re the one who’s gonna get spanked,” Yoongi mumbles.

“Maybe I’d like that!” Seokjin, defeated where he lies, can feel his ears going hot. “Maybe I like being spanked! Have you considered that? Huh, ‘princess’?”

Jungkook’s giggle graduates to a cackle. Jimin’s biting back laughter of his own as he dabs his fingertip across Yoongi’s bottom lip.

Yoongi opts to not acknowledge Seokjin’s presence anymore.

After Jimin’s finished with Yoongi, Jungkook fetches their taxi. They wait down in the safety and warmth of the lobby until Jimin sees it pull up—then they scurry outside, cram in, and ride into Yongsan. At this time of night the trip graduates from a cool fifteen minutes to a near half-hour; traffic leading farther into the city is hell. Stop and gos, neon lights, hoards of people ambling across every crosswalk. Jimin and Jungkook spend most of their ride deliberating on where to go after they grow tired of the first spot; Seokjin can see Jimin typing away in their (seemingly) very active, queer-only, No-Seokjin-Allowed KaTalk chatroom. Yoongi, who’d chosen the passenger seat, talks quietly with the ahjussi about… who knows what. Seokjin can hardly hear anything over the children (see: Jimin and Jungkook) bickering. It’s too cold to go up there! You should’ve worn something thicker! You should’ve worn something not-black for once! You should shut up! So on and so forth. Seokjin gets comfortable, arms crossed, drowns them out with his own internal dialogue.

It’s both a blessing and a curse once the taxi pulls up to their destination; Seokjin won’t have to sit through the arguing anymore, but autumn has matured, and Seoul’s night air nips at Seokjin through the endless gaps in his blouse when he’s out on the sidewalk. He embraces himself around the middle in a futile attempt to fight the breeze, waiting for everyone to step out with him—resisting the urge to bark at them to hurry, as much as he wants to. Then Jungkook pays and thanks the ahjussi, and Seokjin follows their lead straight up the steps and towards the bar.

“Excited?” Jimin nudges at Seokjin’s bicep with his elbow, grinning hard enough that it reaches his eyes. They linger near the door as a couple edges their way in.

“Cold,” Seokjin responds. He tacks on, “and excited, yes,” when Jimin starts to frown.

Finally, the door clears.

It’s warm inside (thankfully) with the heat and the clusters of guests—it’s darker, too. The furniture and fixtures are black and steel, the ambient lights deep browns. Bar to the left, lounging to the right. Through the buzz of conversation and pop, Seokjin hears Jimin shout, “They said—the chairs!” and beckons his little ducklings through the crowd: Seokjin in front of Jungkook, behind Yoongi and Jimin, stumbling along to where the space opens up and deposits them by a row of tables and sofa chairs wide enough to hold two or three people.

The newness Seokjin expected: a bar comprised almost entirely with men. Jimin in a sheer top that leaves nothing to the imagination. Yoongi in eyeliner and sandy eyeshadow and a pleated skirt layered over his jeans. Jungkook in heeled boots. Men carelessly making out by the barstools. Pop and neon drinks.

The newness he doesn’t expect: being met by a tipsy Kim Namjoon at their first spot—Why Not—whose gaze uncharacteristically lingers.

Hoseok is cheering, “There they are!” while laughing wildly at Jimin’s introduction—AKA making exaggerated model poses in front of him, palms turned up with flair. Jungkook speed-rushes to take one spot on the sofa chair beside Taehyung and Hoseok’s, snatching Taehyung’s margarita to steal a sip (“Thief! Get your own!” Taehyung shouts, trying to grab it away from him without spilling the drink all over their jeans); Yoongi lingers by Jimin, shoulders quivering in silent laughter at Jimin’s theatrics—and Namjoon is smiling at Seokjin where he sits on the lounge chair across the (drink-cluttered) table. His chair is pressed against the wall and facing the bar while the others have their backs to the bar, facing Namjoon.

Namjoon greets, “Seokjin-hyung. Wow.” He makes to scoot closer to one chair arm, a silent invitation to sit.

It’s the closest to a compliment that Namjoon’s given him yet. If this means more compliments and, hopefully, the opportunity to break down whatever wall Namjoon has erected, he’ll gladly take it. Seokjin is goal oriented, after all.

“I know.” Seokjin gives Namjoon a quick once-over—black turtleneck, brown leather jacket, loose blue jeans—before making the move to settle next to him. A blasé shrug. Namjoon’s eyes track his every gesture. “Jiminie told me to wear something ‘sexy and alluring’. My face is the sexy and my outfit is the alluring; do you agree or do you agree? Choose wisely.”

Namjoon’s laugh is little whoops, those dimples coming back to play. His gaze roams down to Seokjin’s thigh-slits, to his boots, then back up again. Finally, “I agree,” he breathes, almost too low to catch in the noise. “Definitely sexy.”

And that’s a definite upgrade from wow. It’s a bit of a splash to the face, a not-so-subtle reminder of where Seokjin is and who he’s with. Unfortunately, it also reminds him of his nerves, try as he might to pretend like this is just any other bar on any other street.

Hoseok’s cackle brings him back to the moment, and he glances over just as Hoseok topples into Jimin’s belly, clinging to his belt loops for dear life. Taehyung and Jungkook have come to what looks like an agreement, sharing the anju on the table and the neon blue margarita between giggles.

Then there’s Namjoon, still watching him over the lip of his beer glass. Seokjin desperately needs a drink of his own.

Namjoon seems to notice. “Want me to grab you something? What d’you like?”

Seokjin eyes Namjoon’s. “I’ll take whatever you’re drinking.”

“Hite?”

“I like Hite.”

“Hite it is.” With a pat and squeeze to Seokjin’s thigh—directly over the slit—Namjoon sets his glass down and pushes up, shuffling out and towards the bar.

First free drink from a gay man? Seokjin can’t help but think as he watches Namjoon retreat. He didn’t expect it to come from Namjoon of all people, but… beggars can’t be choosers. Not like Seokjin would’ve (or could’ve) chosen anyone else. It’s already looking like a promising night?

“Picture, hyung!” Taehyung’s voice rises over the commotion. “Picture of Jin-hyung in his first gay bar!” He already has his phone at the ready, angled towards Seokjin; with a laugh, Seokjin immediately finds a pose: one leg hooked over the other, leaning back into the chair, gaze sharp.

“Ooh,” Hoseok coos, attention caught, “sexy, hyung, sexy.” Then everyone is paying attention as Taehyung’s flash goes off and Seokjin keeps creating new poses, laughing creakily in-between shots.

Jimin pout-coos, too. He crosses his arms and watches, a bit enthralled. “You’re gorgeous. This isn’t fair.”

“He’s okay,” Jungkook says.

Ignoring Jungkook, “How do they look?” Seokjin shouts. “Flawless? Perfect enough to put on Insta? Lemme see.” He leans as far as he can on the sofa chair, craning his neck to look when Taehyung stretches his phone out.

“Perfect enough to put on Insta,” Taehyung confirms.

“How does it feel?” Yoongi asks. He’d settled onto the spot to the right of Hoseok. “Notice anything different about yourself yet?”

“Give me a few drinks and we’ll see,” Seokjin says.

“Hyung is a drunk-bisexual?” Hoseok asks with glee. The glitter at his lids flash as his eyes make room for his smile.

Jimin giggles, shoving Hoseok’s shoulder. “What’s a drunk-bisexual?”

“You know,” Taehyung peeps up. “Someone that kisses men when they’re drunk.”

“Who’s kissing men when they’re drunk?” Namjoon shuffles his way back in with two, tall glasses in his hand, amber beer sloshing over the rim. “Seokjin-hyung?”

“Hyung is a drunk-bisexual,” Taehyung explains with the confidence only a tipsy Taehyung could muster. “Hobi-hyung said so.”

Yoongi’s eyes track Namjoon as he settles in his spot again, handing Seokjin one glass while he keeps the other. Seokjin gives a quiet thank you and takes a sip. Then, pushing back up to his feet, “I’m getting us drinks,” Yoongi declares. He meets Jimin’s eyes. “Coming?”

“Coming,” Jimin loops their elbows. “Place your orders now or suffer a sober night!”

Seokjin grins fondly around his sip, watching Jungkook, Hoseok, and Taehyung fight to get their requests in in a chaos of voices and odd drink names Seokjin doesn’t recognize. Must be bar-specific mixes. Seokjin is fine with his Hite.

Namjoon asks, “You kiss men when you’re drunk?”

“No,” Seokjin sputters. He pauses to dab at his lip with a sleeve. “I mean—I’ve never. I’ve never kissed a man. And I’ve been drunk plenty of times. Around—men.”

“Mm.” Namjoon considers him.

Seokjin clarifies, “And never kissed them.”

“Mm.”

Seokjin clears his throat behind a fist.

There’s so much happening it’s hard to focus on any one thing. Yoongi and Jimin leave to fetch the drinks, Taehyung’s showing Jungkook something on his phone, and Hoseok is peeking over Taehyung’s shoulder as well, his free arm wrapped around Taehyung’s waist. That leaves Seokjin to nurse his beer and Namjoon to scan as guests shuffle in and out, weaving by their tables to try and snag their own. Seokjin takes it all in so he won’t forget: bursts of noise, the pop music that somehow sounds louder versus when he first entered the bar, conversation and low, deep-brown ambience. And maybe this is odd to think, but Why Not doesn’t feel much different from any other bar Seokjin has been to in his life—save for the fact that he’s almost entirely surrounded by men. And some of those men are making out. And some of those men can’t keep their hands off of each other. And some of those men are in crop tops. And some of those men are—

“I honestly didn’t think you’d come out,” Namjoon leans over to say-shout into Seokjin’s ear. Their arms and thighs brush as Namjoon adjusts to make himself heard. “When Jiminie told me, I was like—I ‘dunno. I thought you said yes just to be nice.”

Seokjin’s finished half of his glass already, mindlessly taking gulps as his thoughts whisked him away. Now that he’s returned, “Just to be nice?” he asks.

“Yeah.” Seokjin watches Namjoon while Namjoon watches Seokjin’s mouth. “Because Jimin wanted you to feel included. With—us. So I thought you just said yes at the time to be nice to him.”

Honestly… it isn’t an unfounded assumption. Seokjin can see himself doing that: accepting an offer to not step on toes, only to later fumble through an excuse on why he can’t make it. He’s done it a handful of times to dodge family-mandated events. Except this time, “I didn’t,” he says. “I was the one who kinda insinuated. I guess. I told him I wanted to do something—different? Fun? So he asked me if I wanted to join. And...” Seokjin shrugs, the rest of that thought obvious considering he’s currently here, at a gay bar, Hite in his belly and Namjoon’s side pressed warmly to his.

Namjoon gives a nod. “Okay. I’m glad.”

“Glad I came? Or that I didn’t feel obligated to come?”

“That you came. Feels easier talking to you here.”

Seokjin’s brows must have asked the question before his mouth could, because Namjoon clarifies, “I get a bit intimidated. By you. I—‘dunno.” An awkward cough-laugh, Namjoon quickly taking a gulp of his beer.

What? Now it’s Seokjin who considers Namjoon.

Interesting. He wants to press it—what can possibly be intimidating about him when he was the one incessantly trying to soften Namjoon up by making a fool of himself?—but a burst of voices and light from across the table draws Namjoon’s attention a little too readily; Hoseok has his phone up and megawatt grin out, recording Jungkook as he gulps down the rest of the pitcher of some sort of neon-green liquor they had sitting in front of them, Taehyung shaking his fists and chanting, “Go, go, go, go, go!”

Jungkook’s throat bobs with each swallow, loose rivulets snaking down his jaw and towards his black bomber jacket. Hoseok’s laugh is nothing short of unadulterated joy once Jungkook finishes the final gulp and slams the pitcher down theatrically. “Oooh, Jungkook-ah,” he rasps at his phone screen. “You’re so cool. Look at you.” Jungkook coolly wipes his mouth with the back of a hand, gives the camera a thumbs up.

“Someone is going to throw up again tonight,” Namjoon is laughing. “Pace yourself, Jungkook-ah, okay?”

“He wants to show off,” Taehyung says, “so let him. Dare you to buy another pitcher and finish it!”

“Don’t.” Namjoon gives Jungkook a firm look made not quite firm from alcohol. “Jungkook-ah. Don’t.”

Jungkook doesn’t acknowledge neither Taehyung nor Namjoon, instead guiding Hoseok’s phone closer to him so he can rewatch what Hoseok prepared to put on his Instagram story. “Close friends only, don’t worry,” Hoseok tells him while they watch.

“I wanna see!” Seokjin shouts. “Show me next!”

“Watch your close friends, hyung,” Jungkook says, still distracted watching himself with a growing smile. Both he and Hoseok make a delighted giggle. Taehyung, crammed between both of them, seems more focused on playing with Hoseok’s fingers where they lie over his belly.

“I don’t wanna take my phone out. Brat.” Seokjin goes to sip on his beer only to realize he’d just mindlessly finished it. Already? Seokjin sets his empty glass down, shoving the other glasses and appetizer plates aside to make room.

Namjoon hands off the second glass he’d brought from the bar. “Hyung. Here. I’m still working on mine, so you can have this one.”

How nice. “Thank you,” Seokjin readily takes it, sucks from the frothy top. He’d had an early dinner and his body reminds him; that first glass is buzzing warmly just beneath the surface of his skin, shooing off some of his nerves to replace them. It’s nice. The buzz is nice, Namjoon is nice. He needs to keep drinking.

Drinks keep coming. Jimin and Yoongi return, hands full; Yoongi has two pitchers—one beer, one more neon-green liquor—and Jimin has two martinis, each a different color. “No full pitcher for Jungkook,” Namjoon insists while Taehyung insists, “Give that pitcher to Jungkook!”

“I trust Namjoonie more than you,” Yoongi says to Taehyung, “so no pitcher for Jungkook.”

“I just want my martini, it’s fine,” Jungkook flexes his fingers in Jimin’s direction. “Gimmie.”

They do another futile rearrangement with the plates and drinks on the table, Yoongi eventually being the one to give up when it’s clear not everything will fit and carrying their dirty dishes to the bar to be retrieved. Then, the lovecats take their spot in the sofa chair next to Namjoon and Seokjin, and Jungkook, Taehyung, and Hoseok remain on the other side.

Hoseok claps his hands together. “Okay, real quick! A toast, a toast! Grab your drinks!”

“A toast!” Jimin agrees. He leans forward so he can make eye contact with Seokjin. “To Jin-hyung finally joining us! All seven are here. It’s been way too long, hyung.”

Taehyung cheers and shakes his fists some more. “Welcome, Jin-hyung. ‘M happy to know you passed the final test and—and have proven yourself.”

“Proven himself what?” Jungkook laughs. “We already knew he wasn’t a homophobe.”

Taehyung makes a show of shoving Jungkook’s face away, immediately getting swatted in retribution. They trade a few swats until Hoseok swats at them to stop.

“The honorary guest should make a speech, shouldn’t he?” Seokjin says, quirking his glass and an eyebrow. “To finalize his initiation?”

Namjoon and that uncharacteristic gaze and palm returns, fingers squeezing into Seokjin’s thigh. “Okay, hyung, a speech. Let’s hear it.”

Seokjin immediately grabs their attention; even Yoongi clicks his phone screen off to entertain Seokjin’s theatrics—a feat only a Yoongi with liquor in him can commit.

Seokjin makes a show of clearing his throat. He projects his voice, spine going straight, shoulders squared. “To a good night,” he shouts so everyone can hear, “to memories as a whole group, and, of course, to me, Kim Seokjin, for being fun, sexy, and spontaneous. Thank you.”

“Fun, sexy, spontaneous,” Hoseok cheers. He lifts one of the pitchers and his phone in the other—prepped to make a video of the ordeal—Namjoon and Seokjin lift their beers, Taehyung and Jungkook lift their martinis, and Yoongi and Jimin lift the other pitcher together. With a variety of woo!s they messily clink all their beverages together, tap the table, then take a sip.

“I really am happy you're here with us,” Jimin says once he’s swallowed. His nose tip and cheeks are tinted red, eyes wide and glassy. “We need lots of pictures, okay?”

“Already on it,” says Hoseok, phone at the ready.

“I’m fine with all pictures. Just get my good side,” Seokjin says, “Which is my right. Especially if you're gonna put it on your Insta. Got it?”

Hoseok and Jimin look thoroughly entertained. Jungkook isn't paying attention anymore and Taehyung has been scrolling on his phone since they finished their toast. “Got it,” Jimin laughs.

Soon after, conversations fractionate. Seokjin is trying to listen to what Hoseok starts telling Taehyung about his social media when Namjoon turns back to him, saying, “So I know your parents work in the food industry… but neither of them ever modeled? Have you ever modeled?”

Seokjin takes a moment to process each question. It’s jarring enough to process Namjoon willingly speaking to him beyond their pleasantries—but a Namjoon that’s essentially complimenting him, too? Maybe he needs to feed Namjoon beer more often; Namjoon without the pretenses is nice. This is nice. Drinking is nice.

“I did print work as a kid,” Seokjin tells him. “Tiny boutique shop stuff. My parents never modeled; they’ve always worked for our family restaurant. My grandfather passed it down to my father when he turned thirty-five.”

Namjoon hums to this. He shifts his body closer in Seokjin’s direction until their knees knock, his back practically to Yoongi and Jimin (of whom don’t seem to care about anything but what one another are saying, anyway). “What got you into digital media?”

“Several things.” Seokjin takes another sip as he pieces his words together. “Learning how to market and distribute ads helps with the business. It’s something creative that I enjoy. It requires constantly learning new platforms and tools and software, so I don’t see myself growing tired of any position I choose. And it’s not just passive income; I have to actively put my mind to it. I want a career that challenges me.”

“You thought about this.”

“I had to,” Seokjin squeaks into laughter. “To convince my parents I wasn’t wasting their money by going to an art school late in my twenties.”

Namjoon goes quiet, studies him. Seokjin swallows his nerves down with a mouthful of beer.

Then, “No, I get that,” Namjoon says eventually. “I chose my major because of my parents too. They’d be overjoyed if I got a job in Sejong, in any of the head offices for the ministries, really. Not picky.”

Seems like Namjoon is open to talking about his government-family now. Has Seokjin passed some sort of trial? Is this commiseration?

He’ll take any in he can get.

“What do you wanna do?” Seokjin asks.

“I don't hate what I studied,” Namjoon says. “I’m fine doing what they would like me to do.” It’s an answer that feels intentionally equivocal.

“But there’s nothing you would choose to do if you had the option to?”

Namjoon’s smile turns wry. “Nothing feasible. Right now… I think I just wanna travel.”

“Any places in particular?”

Immediately, “I wanna visit China’s Zhejiang province. They have gorgeous country land there. ‘N there’s also this… village in the province where the families have this six-hundred year culture of cultivating a specific type of green tea. I’d like to go in the spring time to watch and maybe participate in picking the leaves, brew some tea of my own.”

Seokjin is a bit taken aback by this, admittedly expecting another vague answer like Tokyo or… Germany. Namjoon has not said this many words directly to him in a while. He’s at a bit of a loss. “That sounds—cool.” A dumb response, but it can’t be helped.

“It is.” Namjoon sips his drink with one hand, his free arm looping around the back of the chair behind Seokjin, posture going lax. “They hold exhibitions there too, for tourists to learn about the whole… Longjiang tea history. I told myself I’ll go as a graduation gift to myself, but… it’s been almost three years since then and I’ve yet to go. Only went to the states and Japan last year. But I’ve been saving up.”

“What’s holding you back?”

“Fear,” Namjoon laughs, self-deprecating, head tipped. He thinks it over for a beat, then looks up to Seokjin again. “First, I know elementary Mandarin and I’m pretty sure they speak Shanghainese there. I think in the bigger cities I’ll be okay with English and Mandarin—but this village is tiny. I know I can try to find a translator to go with me. I just. I ‘dunno.”

“You don’t like being helpless in that way?” Seokjin urges, gentle.

“Yeah? At the mercy of someone else to guide me… it’s kinda frightening. Also—I wanna travel there alone but traveling alone in a country whose language I barely speak is scary too. In Japan, I had company. In the states, I can speak fluent English. It’s—well. As you can see, I think too much.” Namjoon laughs again, absently spinning his glass in the curve of his palm.

“It’s a lot to think about. You’re smart to consider all of this.”

Namjoon doesn’t say anything else. He leans into the cushion and watches him. Seokjin takes the chance to pinpoint his more subtle details: the little clip-shaped stud in Namjoon’s left earlobe, the tight stretch of his leather jacket over his biceps. His turtleneck is stretched tight over his pecs, too, Namjoon’s sturdy torso filling his clothes well. Namjoon has his temples buzzed to the scalp while he’s left everywhere else a bit longer but still cropped, his hair dyed an ashy shade of brown. Why Not’s ambiance plays across his jawline, a contrast of shadow and light that accentuates his more mature features.

Objectively, Namjoon is an attractive man. Seokjin doesn’t have to be sexually attracted to men to appreciate that. It’s why Seokjin has no issue with insinuations, giving Namjoon’s closest bicep a squeeze while shout-telling him, “I never realized how fit you are; I swear you were just a little noodle when I first met you.” Namjoon seems to instinctually tense his arm as Seokjin’s fingers pulse over the jacket. “Wah, Namjoon-ah. Good job. Hyung’s proud of you.”

Him initiating touch seems to spur Namjoon on; Seokjin isn’t quite sure what it is. Either way, Namjoon doesn’t hesitate to shift that arm behind Seokjin forward and around his shoulders, closing the angle at his elbow a bit to shift Seokjin closer in. “Trying to get as broad as you,” Namjoon says, casual, mouth hovering near Seokjin’s ear. “We can’t all have this naturally. Gotta work for it.”

This close, Seokjin can now feel the warmth and cologne—notes of cedar wood, smoldering—from Namjoon’s leather, his skin. He can catch sweet beer in his breath, too, Hite ghosting across Seokjin’s cheekbone with every word. Seokjin tries to maintain a light tone, hiccups, “I come from a long line of genetically broad-shouldered men, Namjoon-ah. Handsome, broad-shouldered, gifted men.”

“I can tell.”

“The Kim clan bestowed this gift upon me because they knew—as told to them in a prophecy—that I’d be too lazy and slash or busy to do any weight-lifting. They wanted to save me some time so that I can reach diamond four on LoL. Do you play League?”

Trembling through laughter, Namjoon shakes his head. “No, never played.”

“See?! Because you’re too busy lifting weights!”

Namjoon’s laugh curves him into Seokjin, his forehead sweeping Seokjin’s collarbone. Seokjin laughs with him, hands coming up to hold Namjoon at the biceps, face burning hot from beer and Namjoon’s enthusiasm. It’s the hardest he’s gotten Namjoon to laugh yet; without a doubt, it climbs up to play in his head.

“Am I wrong?” Seokjin tries through his squeaks. “Tell me I’m wrong!”

Namjoon is lifting his face, full mouth open to say something, before a series of flashes blink from across the table. Seokjin and Namjoon both peek just in time for Hoseok and Taehyung to snap more pictures (or to make a video? Seokjin can’t tell with the bright lights blinding him). “Candid shots,” Hoseok says by way of explanation. “Ignore me ‘n try to act natural. Okay?”

Namjoon immediately straightens up. “Hard to act natural with cameras in my face.”

“I said to get my good side!” Seokjin shrieks. He can imagine his awkward, dopey smile caught mid-laugh—the worst photo choices for social media. “How do they look?”

“Like a couple,” Taehyung lowers his phone to examine his shots. “You look like a couple.”

“That wasn’t what I asked.” Seokjin releases Namjoon’s biceps to grab for Taehyung’s phone. “Lemme see!”

Taehyung lets him see. It’s debatable whether they look like a couple, but the pictures themselves aren’t half-bad. Namjoon’s face is hidden against Seokjin’s chest, broad back and shoulders tucked into him, and Seokjin is laughing with all his teeth, his eyes narrowed. Jimin unravels his body from Yoongi’s to ask, “Who looks like a couple?” while Seokjin assesses, flicking through each with his thumb, and then approves and returns the phone to Taehyung.

“No one,” Namjoon says. “Taehyung is just talking shit.”

“Of course.” Jimin loses interest almost immediately. Yoongi’s never been paying attention, legs crossed, eyes roaming across the lounge.

Still, Namjoon doesn’t adjust his body so that he’s no longer pressed against Seokjin. His arm sits resolutely around Seokjin’s (broad) shoulders, their legs squished from hip to knee. They start to fractionate again, Jimin and Yoongi getting caught up in conversation with a tall, skinny guy that—telling by Jimin’s wide grin—they seem to know; Jungkook gets up and starts towards the bar without saying anything; Taehyung tosses his legs over Hoseok’s lap and pouts for attention (to which he receives, Hoseok tickling a few fingers under Taehyung’s chin and earning a giggle for his efforts); and Seokjin has to stretch across Namjoon to refill his glass with the beer pitcher.

Namjoon is about through with his, Seokjin sucks down half of what he’d just poured for himself, then, “Okay,” Seokjin huffs, tilting to fix Namjoon with a firm, tipsy-wonky stare. “Very important question that I have to ask.”

“Ask.” Namjoon matches his stare, free hand returning to rent the spot just above Seokjin’s closest knee, first four fingers sitting idle along the inside seam. He’s beginning to feel light in his chest and, oddly enough, Namjoon’s palm bolts him to the sofa chair.

“Earlier,” Seokjin starts, a finger up, “you said I was intimidating. Which I don’t get.”

Namjoon gives a serious nod, brows furrowed. His gaze swings between Seokjin’s finger to his face and back again. “Okay.”

“I’m serious, Namjoon-ah—”

“—I can tell—”

“How am I intimidating when you’re friends with Yoongi? Think about it: I keep eye contact,” he flexes his finger, “I—I make jokes,” more flexing, “I don’t demand that you—like, for you to act like yes, hyung, okay, hyung. I’m always friendly. Y’know? Explain.”

There’s a few seconds where music fills their silence. Chaos erupts near the bar, friends clambering to talk over one another. Seokjin watches Namjoon get his mouth at the lip of his glass, taking a few gulps. Namjoon goes to grab the pitcher. “You want honest?”

Seokjin follows along as Namjoon fills his own glass up, then tops Seokjin off. He says, “Thank you.” Then, “Why would I ask if I didn’t want honest? I want honest. Tell me.”

“I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

A beat. Seokjin frowns. “That’s why I’m intimidating?”

“No,” Namjoon snorts. He shoots Seokjin a careful glance. “I mean—the reason could make you uncomfortable.”

Seokjin flicks his wrist around, dismissing the thought with a scoff. “Namjoon-ah. Don’t worry about that. Hyung wants us to take our relationship to the next step, okay? That’s why I’m here.”

“Yeah? The next step?” Namjoon’s mouth curls, almost amused.

Seokjin is undeterred. “I’ve had to give myself pep talks, y’know. About this—going out. Here. But! I like this. It's been fun so far. Not, like, radically different from any other night out with friends.”

“Good. I don’t want you to feel awkward or out of place.”

“I don’t! It’s cool. And,” Seokjin nudges Namjoon’s knee with his own, “I’m getting to actually talk to you. One on one. We’ve never gotten to do this.”

“We haven’t.”

“Why? Tell me. How am I intimidating.”

If Seokjin is tipsy, Namjoon must be leaning on drunk. He was already drinking when they first showed up and hasn’t stopped; Seokjin tracks Namjoon’s Hite dwindling as he keeps taking (nervous?) sips.

“It’s,” Namjoon vocalizes while he thinks, mouth open, “hard enough when you’re—attractive. You are. Very, very attractive. You know that.”

Know that? Yes. Hearing it from Namjoon? Knowing his attractiveness doesn’t detract from his embarrassment, his ears and throat going red without his consent. “Okay. Sure. Yes.”

“But it’s harder to talk to you when you’re very attractive and—and just a cool guy. Laidback and funny, and… everyone likes you because you act like you like everyone back. That’s intimidating.”

Seokjin isn’t sure what to say. His mind isn’t as clever when he’s not sober. A flame is flickering beneath his skin. “Okay,” he repeats.

And you’re smart. Like… I don’t know. Am I making sense? I sound stupid.” Namjoon rubs his free palm over his face, lips gone awry. “Shit. ‘M gonna regret this tomorrow. Hah.”

He can’t tell Namjoon whether he’s going to regret this or not but, “Thank,” Seokjin sputters a bit. “Thank you.”

A direct compliment. Several, even. From Namjoon. It settles nicely in his belly, that flame picking up as if doused in butane. It’s a bit embarrassing, sure, but that almost enhances the genuity to Namjoon’s confession—his shy, fumbling words that contradict the Namjoon Seokjin’s always known. This is nice. Feels good. Seokjin decides he won’t investigate further past the fact that he’s enjoying this—a lot.

“Yeah. Wasn’t really trying to—wasn’t supposed to be, like, me being kind. You wanted an answer, so… That’s the answer.” Namjoon removes his palm from his face but quickly dips his head, dodging Seokjin’s eyes. His body is honest, though, unmoving where he drapes over Seokjin’s shoulders, tilted into Seokjin as Seokjin tilts back into him. Strangely, it’s only then that Seokjin notices how crammed they are against each other, enough free room on Namjoon’s other side for an extra person to join them on the sofa chair. The armchair is digging into his ribs, his legs awkwardly knocking together from the squeeze. Every inhale invites sweet beer and cedar wood into Seokjin’s sinuses; he’s sure Namjoon is taking in gulpfuls of his own peach-bergamot.

“I know,” Seokjin mumbles. “I just felt like… it needed it.”

Namjoon looks up at Seokjin’s mouth. “What? Can’t hear you.” He points, vaguely gesturing to the speakers.

“I know,” Seokjin repeats, louder. “I jus—”

“One more time,” Namjoon’s draped arm travels down to Seokjin’s middle, tugging him impossibly close as Namjoon tilts his head so his ear is right to Seokjin’s lips. Seokjin can’t help but squirm; the shock of Namjoon’s palm greeting his skin through the gaps of his top is sudden, bold.

Okay. That’s okay. This is—okay. Seokjin can’t remember the last time a man has touched him there—to his bare skin—but that’s okay. This is fun and Seokjin is spontaneous and sexy. He leans to Namjoon’s ear and repeats, “I know! I know that you’re not saying it just to be nice!”

“Yeah,” Namjoon shouts back. When he lifts his head to look at Seokjin, their noses nearly touch. “Being honest.”

Seokjin nods jerkily. He doesn’t know what to do with his arms, his body curled up in the inside curve of Namjoon’s half-embrace.

“Namjoon-ah,” a voice that is clearly Hoseok’s croons, sounding impressed, “Are you hyung’s gay date for the night? What is this?”

“Told you they look like a couple,” another voice that is clearly Taehyung’s yells, words all slurred from his drinks. “Jimin-ah! I told you! Listen!” He unhooks his legs from where they hang over Hoseok’s lap to try to get Jimin’s attention. “Jin-hyung is dating Namjoon-hyung tonight!”

Namjoon leans away but doesn’t remove his arm from Seokjin’s waist. “Guys. C’mon. Don’t do this to him—”

Seokjin’s visceral reaction is to laugh, loud and unabashed and panicked; his red face gives him away, so there’s no helping that. “Is that what I should do?! Be Namjoonie’s gay date for the night?”

This is what appears to draw Jimin’s attention back from the tall, skinny guy Yoongi is now standing up to chat to. “Huh?” Jimin gasps. “Are we taking a vote? Are you gonna date Namjoonie-hyung for the night?”

“Guys,” Namjoon starts.

“Is Namjoonie drunk-flirting with a straight guy?” Somehow, Yoongi has tuned in—so it’s serious now, Seokjin supposes. Seokjin watches dreadfully as Yoongi’s slow gaze follows along where Namjoon has Seokjin tucked in. “D’you need me to save you, hyung?”

Seokjin’s laugh is going crazed. “No.”

Taehyung waves Yoongi off with drunken flair. “He doesn’t need saving—”

“Leave him alone,” Namjoon insists. “We’re no—”

“Picture!” Hoseok goes fishing for his phone again. “This time with Jin-hyung and Namjoonie as boyfriends—”

“Or one night stands before the one night stand—”

“Hyung, if you need me to save you just say so—”

“Fine! It’s fine! I’m fine! Boyfriend-one-night-stand picture with Namjoonie!” Fuck it; Seokjin is skirting the periphery of euphoric, his bloodstream at least twenty-percent alcohol at this point. He’s in a doily-pattern top and with his queer friends in a gay bar and having a fun time. He can take a joke, he can roll over and go belly-up to banter at his expense. He can follow wherever a road leads him.

Where this particular road leads him: submit, don't resist. Seokjin says fuck it to it all. He takes a page from Taehyung’s book and tosses his legs across Namjoon’s sturdy thighs, leaning into Namjoon’s embrace while looping his arms around Namjoon’s shoulders. Hoseok is raising his phone and Seokjin doesn’t think before he squeezes his cheek up against Namjoon’s cheek, belting, “Picture!” one more time—to convince himself as much as he’s convincing everyone else—and then does his signature, close-mouthed smile.

Seokjin can tell that the first few shots are of Namjoon looking confused, uncertain; he’s gone stiff in Seokjin’s returned embrace. It takes Hoseok, Jimin, and Taehyung’s encouraging laughter for him to untense. Then, when Seokjin remains stubbornly over his lap and pressed into his body, Namjoon gives in and smiles for Hoseok’s next burst of pictures, one palm coming to help keep Seokjin’s legs up by the thigh, just underneath his ass.

Taehyung gives the screen a delighted cheer. “You two look good together!”

“Wooooo—”

“This is so...” Namjoon doesn’t finish that thought. He shakes his head in amused disbelief.

In a flash, Jimin and Yoongi are circling the chairs to see what Hoseok and Taehyung see. Jimin is all smiles, no eyes. His joy has him tilting into Yoongi, trembling from shoulders to toes. “Oh, shit! You guys do! What the fuck! Send me these, hyung, please!”

His friends are happy, so Seokjin’s happy. “Story material?” He removes his legs from Namjoon’s lap. Namjoon lets go of his thigh, clears his throat.

“Uploaded straight to it,” Hoseok cackles. There’s a quiet pause as he types something with his entourage watching. Then once he’s through, they—Yoongi included—burst into laughter simultaneously. He turns his phone in Seokjin and Namjoon’s direction without having to be asked.

It’s Hoseok’s close friends only story, his thumb pressed to the screen so it doesn’t time out. There’s Namjoon and Seokjin in their pose, both smiling with their lips, Seokjin’s arms around Namjoon and Namjoon’s arm around him, the other hooked at his thigh. New couple made official tonight!!!! Everyone DM Namjoonie congratulations!!!! [Two people kissing emoji] [Heart emoji] [Rainbow emoji]

“I hate you,” Namjoon says, “with all my heart.”

Hoseok and co. are back in hysterics. Hoseok folds over into the table and Jimin folds over into him. Taehyung covers his face in two, large trembling hands. Yoongi has his arms folded and head ducked. Jungkook is nowhere to be seen.

“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says into Seokjin’s ear. “They’re being extra stupid tonight because—I ‘dunno why.”

“It’s okay.” Seokjin shoves weakly at Namjoon’s elbow crook. “I’m fine. This is fun.”

“As long as you’re oka—”

“Namjoon-ah. Gentleman-ssi. I promise I’m okay. Okay? Trust your hyung.” Seokjin gives Namjoon’s cheek a pat then a quick squeeze with two fingers. Quieter, “Are you?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m,” Namjoon is nodding, “I’m good.”

“Good.”

Seokjin is good, Namjoon is good, their friends are clearly good, everyone is good.

And since everyone is so good— “I think I need some water,” Seokjin says, pushing up to his feet. “Th’beer’s getting to my head.”

Namjoon follows him up. “I think I do, too.” His hands find Seokjin’s waistband, careful fingers hooking through a belt loop or two. “Lead the way.”

 

The night is amorphous. Seokjin feels amorphous. Namjoon hasn’t left his side since they first leaned up against the bartop, his touch almost mindless on Seokjin’s elbow, his waist, his hips and knuckles, and Seokjin is terrified at how much he… he likes this. He may be tipsy-drunk and in a circumstance he’s never found himself in before, but he isn’t naïve; Seokjin’s captured and kept Namjoon’s undivided attention. There’s this exciting, skin-thrumming newness to Namjoon’s gaze that Seokjin feels like he’s viewing from the inside out.

They nurse waters where they’re crammed between two occupied barstools and talk. It feels like years of catching up stuffed into a single night. Seokjin gets to learn lax, loose-lipped Namjoon and not the (sober) Namjoon that overwhelms himself with what he should and shouldn’t be in front of Seokjin. A bit clumsy (keeps spilling his water when his antsy hands reach for it) and a bit goofy (a laugh that reminds Seokjin of seals), but endearingly verbose and eager to tell Seokjin whatever to keep him engaged.

Seokjin’s just gotten a crash course on Qingming festival and the legend of Emperor Qianlong—spurred from a single, curious so why the interest in this tea?—before they take a pause to drink water and watch their surroundings. The bar keeps growing in number, humidity clinging to Seokjin’s forehead and the curve of his upper lip; movement at his back keeps jostling his front into Namjoon. He can’t tell if Hoseok or Taehyung are still at the lounge chairs. Jimin’s loud blonde hair has migrated near the back wall; Yoongi must be somewhere nearby.

“Y’gonna be swarmed if I leave your side,” Namjoon suddenly says against his earlobe, two fingers of his left hand hooked into the belt loop over Seokjin’s hip, “there’s like five guys watching you right now.”

“Really?!” Excited and curious, Seokjin makes unfortunate eye contact with a man the second he peeks over Namjoon’s shoulder. He’s got mousy features, small nose bridge and small mouth. Seokjin immediately looks away, ears burning as he squeaks laughter and tries to duck behind Namjoon’s body. “I just looked right at one of them, oh fuck. You think he’ll come over?”

Namjoon tightens his fingers at Seokjin’s belt, tugs him imperceptibly close. Seokjin fumbles into his chest; his palms come up to press into Namjoon’s jacket lapels. “Not if he thinks you’re accounted for.”

Cedar wood. Namjoon smells like a pleasant bonfire—is hot like one, too. Literally. Namjoon’s body is physically hot under Seokjin’s hands. That heat transfers to his skin when red mottles his throat from his returning shyness. “Oh—kay. Yes. Accounted for. Me.”

Seokjin’s still caught on the fact that men are checking him out. Him! Unabashedly checking him out! Sexually? Of course sexually; he’s at a gay bar. And he’s sure men have checked him out at least once before in his lifetime—but if it happened, he never knew about it. That’s more enthralling to think about.

Now, he considers the dichotomy between fantasizing about being desired by someone of the same gender (and, if so, what he’d do) and the reality of it. A realm of consideration that he spent twenty-eight years blind to grabbing him at his waist, tugging him into orbit by his belt loops. Seokjin peeks around to find men still watching him, but his road ends with Namjoon’s eyes on his lips.

Bold. There’s a sound in Seokjin's ear, the click of a door being pumped open.

Boldly: “Since I’m accounted for,” Seokjin leans into Namjoon’s embrace to make sure he’s heard, “my accountant should buy me a shot. Vodka goes down well with beer, yeah?”

Namjoon doesn’t miss a beat. His breath is amber-sweet on Seokjin’s mouth, “Vodka?” Seokjin nods with the enthusiasm of a drunk man, muscles loose like someone turned his internal sensitivity setting up. “Okay. Comin’ right up.” Namjoon confidently turns towards the bartop, jaw set, flagging the bartender with a quirk of his fingers high up in the air. It doesn’t take long for them to notice and make their way down.

This is nice. Namjoon is nice. Why has it taken Seokjin this long to do this?

 

 

“I did!” Seokjin can’t stop laughing. His jaw is starting to hurt from the exertion; he’s two shots in and counting. “I sang for my hyung’s wedding! What? You don’t believe I can sing?!”

Namjoon alternates between pressing his forehead to Seokjin’s shoulder bend while cackling to straightening up to try and focus on Seokjin’s face, his own flushed cutely at its highpoints. He clings onto Seokjin’s hips for balance, thumbs digging in over where his bone pokes out through the jeans. “That’s,” he gasps, “not it—I just—I’m imagining you drunk on champagne trying t’to sing For You all seriously—”

“And champagne-drunk me did a damn good job at it! Wheesung-nim himself would’ve given me a standing ovation if he were there!” Seokjin lets his body sway with Namjoon’s emotion, his arms folded up in-between their bodies, hands idly pressed at Namjoon’s chest. “Don’t doubt me until you’ve seen the video! I’ll show you!”

“I—I believe you, hyun—hyung—”

Seokjin tells Namjoon about nearly passing out during Seokjung’s reception after having half a bottle of wine on top of the champagne (I was wallowing in my misery about being single, alright?!), and Namjoon tells him about inadvertently threatening his sister’s fiancé by bringing a knife set as an apartment-warming gift (She asked for kitchenware and I wasn’t thinking! I brought other cutlery, too! Fuck me, I guess! Namjoon tries as Seokjin loses it, slapping at Namjoon’s arms while cackling.)

Namjoon flags for another round of shots, and they clink their glasses together on Seokjin’s, “To taking our relationship to the next step,” to which Namjoon parrots, “To taking our relationship to the next step,” with a syrupy grin. They tap the bottoms onto the bartop, Seokjin bodily manipulates Namjoon’s arm so their elbows are locked, and then they back their vodka shots. Seokjin makes an obnoxious, hissing pwah! that Yoongi would scowl at, but it’s only Namjoon’s outer eye laugh lines he finds.

Later, when the person behind Seokjin vacates the barstool, Namjoon gestures at Seokjin to take it. Seokjin hops up with Namjoon’s guiding hand cupping his waist, then, once he’s settled, Namjoon shifts forward to take the space between Seokjin’s spread knees. It’s the most intimate position Seokjin has been in with another man—which doesn’t say much, considering Seokjin has… only been intimate with women—but before he can let his nerves return to him, Namjoon’s hands curve over each thigh, and Namjoon’s touch and undivided attention injects this—there’s an exhilaration inside him. Seokjin feels exhilarated. Is that the word?

Beer and vodka can be to blame, absolutely. Still—Seokjin can’t stop grinning at Namjoon and he can’t stop laughing, and Namjoon’s palms feel scorched and overwhelming, like Seokjin’s standing a hair too close to a campfire. Like he’s running frostbitten toes under hot water. Pinpricks before he’s suddenly aflame, painful relief. Namjoon doesn’t touch like a woman; he doesn’t sweep by to make himself known before retreating altogether. He grips, he rocks, he asks but commands his presence anyway. It’s not that it’s better; it’s that it’s different. Seokjin chases with a curiosity that might be foolish or—naïve? Naïve. He didn’t know that was still possible at his age.

But Seokjin is sure that he hasn’t stopped blushing since Namjoon first held him over his thigh-slits.

“See?” he says, getting one hand onto Namjoon’s leathered shoulder to lean in and talk against the bend of his helix. “Not so intimidating, am I?”

“Still intimidating.” Seokjin can practically feel Namjoon shape words at his sideburns, breath hot, “Just easier to pretend ‘m not when I’m drinking.”

“I don’t get it. I’ve never been called intimidating!”

“No one was brave enough to tell you,” Namjoon counters.

“I think you’re just the only one,” Seokjin counters the counter.

“I think you don’t know how intimidating gorgeous people can be.”

Seokjin is thankful Namjoon can’t see his face—not that that’d spare him. His entire body must be red at this point. He flounders through his vodka-hazed mind, grasping for a counter to the counter of his counter. He finds, “You’re not shy around Taehyungie and he’s gorgeous.”

“Taehyungie isn’t my type.” Namjoon isn’t missing a fucking beat; how can he manage this after three shots? Seokjin is losing his grasp.

“I’m—” Seokjin pauses to think. Namjoon’s fingers are burrowing into his legs, and it has his attention half-caught. “I’m everyone’s type.”

“I don’t doubt that. Guess that means I’m everyone.” Then Namjoon tilts back from his ear to look into Seokjin’s face, lips twisted. “But. . . sense. . . look at . . .”

The chaos of music and conversation is stealing his voice; Seokjin tries and fails to read his mouth. He frowns. “What?”

Namjoon doesn’t lean in any closer. “Sense. . . look a. . .”

Seokjin frowns harder. “What?!” He hates how much he wants to hear this. It’s sounding like yet another compliment.

Now Namjoon leans back in—but not towards his ear. It’s his mouth what must be a centimeter from Seokjin’s mouth, Namjoon’s jaw angled as if he’d tried and given up halfway to reach it. Seokjin is captured by Namjoon’s gaze as Namjoon summarizes, “You’re a classic beauty! Classic! I like classic!”

That’s more like it. Seokjin hiccups into laughter, curls his fingers into Namjoon’s jacket lapels. “Classic?” he pries, shameless and drunk and fun and sexy. And classic, apparently.

“Classic,” Namjoon confirms. “Y’know what I mean.”

“Do I?”

Seokjin is stuck on Namjoon unfalteringly matching his stare; he doesn’t notice Namjoon’s hand coming up until its knuckles brush his fringe from over one eyebrow, quick but poignant enough that it returns any words he thought to say back into his throat. His mouth hanging open, eyes round. “You do,” Namjoon insists. It’s a cross of gentle and firm, and Seokjin loses those prying throat-words altogether.

Someone could simply knock Namjoon’s back as they squeeze by and they’d be kissing. That’s how close Namjoon feels. No—that’s how close Namjoon is. Seokjin’s chest fizzles, fear churning into excitement like how decades of pressure creates diamonds. Would Namjoon’s lips create diamonds? Namjoon is certainly looking at Seokjin’s pout as if it’s a diamond to take. Is this happening?

Namjoon doesn’t close the gap. Namjoon yell-asks, “Am I making you uncomfortable now?”

Discomfort… Seokjin genuinely considers. He can feel himself trembling. It’s subtle but present, the thrill left with nowhere else to go but out through his pores. And, yeah, that’s uncomfortable, trembling and feeling the hazy edges of liquor creeping in, but not all discomfort is unpleasant.

“Namjoon-ah,” Seokjin beckons, melodramatic with his disappointment. Being dramatic is fun and this is fun. “Important step to leveling up our relationship: you need to learn to trust hyung.”

This seems to put Namjoon at ease. His fingers pulse where they dig into Seokjin’s thigh fat, making him squirm and thrill-tremble some more. “Okay. ‘M trusting hyung.”

 

 

Hoseok finds them some indeterminable time later—Seokjin has no idea how much time has passed until he peeks at Namjoon’s phone and finds that it’s a few minutes past midnight—to yank at Seokjin’s elbow and shout, “We’re heading to Avant! Jiminie and Taehyungie wanna eat!”

Seokjin has no idea what or where an Avant is either, but Namjoon apparently does, because he shouts back, “They wanna freeze up there?” He doesn’t budge from where he’s standing up against Seokjin’s front despite Hoseok’s curious, roaming gaze.

Regardless, “Jungkookie’s gonna give Jimin his jacket!” Hoseok says.

“What a gentleman,” Namjoon scoffs. “Alright. Let’s get it.”

Not the only gentleman, maybe; Namjoon holds Seokjin’s forearm as if Seokjin requires assistance hopping off of a barstool. Hoseok starts off towards the front with a wrist flick, and he’s promptly swallowed up in the crowd. Namjoon doesn’t let go of Seokjin’s forearm, fingers instead drifting down until they’re wrapped to Seokjin’s wrist. He wordlessly guides Seokjin in the direction Hoseok went.

Having to stand and walk is an embarrassing reminder of Seokjin’s vodka-casualties; his head spins a bit before it levels off. He lets himself get jostled about as they battle through, the bar so much more crowded than it was a couple hours prior. Have Seokjin’s legs been traded for soggy noodles? Must have been. Yet, he’s walking, walking well! A miracle.

“Namjoon-ah!” Seokjin shouts. They’ve made it to the front doors, Namjoon guiding him out and back into Seoul’s mature, autumn night. “Waters when we get to Avant, or—or wherever. Okay? More water.” It’s burning at least ten percent more brain power to pronounce words. Jimin et al. are already down the steps and loitering on the sidewalk, though Seokjin looks to Namjoon.

And Namjoon fixes him a look that warms. Those wrist-fingers amble down, down, over Seokjin’s palms to then thread between Seokjin’s own, holding on tight. Seokjin’s ears are ringing even now that they’re out in the quieter open air. Namjoon says, “I’ll get us water, hyung. Don’t worry.”

And then… and then Namjoon walks down the steps with Seokjin to join the rest. And Jimin is whining, “Jacket now, Jungkook-ah, pleasepleaseplease,” while Namjoon holds Seokjin’s hand and watches Jungkook grumble complaint as he acquiesces to Jimin’s drunken aegyo. And Seokjin lets himself hold Namjoon’s hand back while Hoseok chants at Yoongi to hurry and plug in the directions so they don’t have to ‘stand around and slowly die of hypothermia.’

And Namjoon is standing casually with one hand hanging from his jeans pocket and the other threaded through Seokjin’s while Yoongi tells Hoseok to be patient because the connection is shit here, wait. And Taehyung is clinging to Hoseok’s back like a koala, and Jimin is cheerfully wrapping Jungkook’s bomber jacket around his sheer blouse, and once Yoongi’s connection improves they’re walking and—and Namjoon falls into step behind everyone, his hand in Seokjin’s hand, not letting go.

So—this is happening now. Seokjin supposes. Alright! Fun.

“I thought Jiminie was going to make a scene,” Yoongi’s hiccuped laugh flitters back towards them from the apex of the group, “You saw me practically dragging him off.”

Hoseok says, “I was trying to figure out what was going on! Taehyungie had me distracted so I missed the first half—”

“Did he even apologize?” Jungkook asks, laughter in his voice too. “I thought that he’d say something.”

“No!” Jimin’s voice, alcohol ticking up his enthusiasm. “Not a single fucking word! I was. . .”

“Sounds like we missed a lot,” Namjoon says, peeking over at Seokjin.

Every neuron in Seokjin’s body is converging directly where Namjoon’s hot hand meets his. Belatedly, “Sounds like too much chaos for me,” he offers. Clears his throat. A breeze howls through and takes advantage of Seokjin’s flimsy top, nipping at him.

How far is Avant? Fuck. Seokjin didn’t know how good he had it in that crowded, humid bar; it’s miserable out here.

“. . . have to get extra mozzarella again, teddy bear,” Jimin is craning his neck to look back at Taehyung, who has his chin hooked over Hoseok’s shoulder, his arms wound tight at Hoseok’s slight middle. Jimin has the hand Yoongi isn’t using nestled in his own. “Was so good.”

Taehyung must answer with his expression, because Jimin smiles lazily at whatever he sees; Seokjin only has the back of Taehyung’s wavy head to go off of.

“Share this time.” Jungkook, the third wheel to Hoseok and Taehyung’s walk-embrace.

“Extra mozzarella on what?” Seokjin asks. The prospect of food has reminded him of his early dinner and sloshing, alcohol-heavy belly.

“Chips,” Jungkook says. “It’s like an appetizer plate, but we usually just get it with our food.”

“They load all kindsa jalapenos and salsa ‘n shit on it.” Hoseok peeks over at Seokjin. Peeks at where Seokjin and Namjoon’s hands are. Peeks back up and then away. “‘Re hungry, hyung?”

“Hunger is my natural state of being.”

Namjoon snorts.

“Alright, hyung,” Hoseok’s laugh bubbles in his chest, jostling Taehyung too. “Well. Food comin’ right up in… in how long, Yoongi-hyung?”

Yoongi clicks his phone off, stuffs it in his back pocket underneath the skirt. “Few more blocks; I remember how to get there from here now.”

A few more blocks? What does that mean? Five minutes? Ten?! The breeze is becoming relentless, once every minute to once every few seconds, as if to torture Seokjin for trying to be sexy and alluring; he’s shivering, and it’s not from thrill-trembles or exhilaration pores. Namjoon’s palm is the only warmth he can chase, his free arm useless where it curls over his middle, holding his top down so the breeze can’t creep underneath.

“Hob-ah,” Seokjin chatters. “I’m jealous.”

“Mm?” Hoseok doesn’t look.

“You have a human space heater of a boyfriend, rubbing it in for all of us loveless losers.”

Yoongi calls back, “Speak for yourself.”

“Jwan,” Hoseok says, tone good natured despite his bite, “you just don’t know how to be single. Try and last at least four months before you start complai—”

Taehyung, Jimin, and Jungkook are already giggling. Seokjin interjects, loud enough to obliterate the rest of Hoseok’s scolding, “I just don’t know how to be cold! I’m cold! How far is this Avant? The wind is gonna take me out before hunger does!” He barely registers Namjoon unwrapping their hands, distracted with trying to kick at Jungkook’s shins. “Don’t laugh at that! I know how to be single—I am single—fuck you guys!”

It’s not until there’s a heavy, thick blanket of cedar wood and warmth and leather draping over his shoulders does Seokjin realize his palm is naked and Namjoon-less—and, when he glances up, Namjoon is leather jacket-less. Because the jacket is hanging from his own shoulders. And it’s got this fishy, authentic leather smell, that smoldering firewood note curling up into his nose.

Namjoon so casually returns to walking with his one hand in his pocket and the other scraping across Seokjin’s fingers that Seokjin almost doesn’t know how to react. Alcohol drifts thoughts to his consciousness like wading through porridge, too-slow.

When he catches up: “Namjoon-ah,” Seokjin sputters, a bit too loud, eliciting curious glances from Jimin, Jungkook, Taehyung, Hoseok, “You’re kind. Truly. Kind and—and gentleman-ly and—whatever. But I’m not going to let a dongsaeng suffer to keep me warm.” Seokjin makes a show of shrugging the jacket off, although that’s probably the last thing he wants to do right now. “Take this ba—”

“I have more muscle mass than you,” Namjoon explains, seeming to find hints of that Seokjin-shyness he holds when cold sober, unable to keep eye contact for more than a second, “I’ll be okay.” He fixes the collar so it’s sitting properly around Seokjin’s decolletage. “Also—you look better in it.”

Seokjin sputters some more. Embarrassment is one way to heat him up, that’s a guarantee.

There’s no loud music to drown them out. The night isn’t quiet, but it’s definitely not overwhelmingly loud; there’s distant music from bars, there’s other bar-hoppers stumbling around and laughing, carefree; there’s workers handing out fliers and yelling about sales; there’s the stop and go of traffic out in the road beside them. Jimin et al. can hear everything being said without strain. And most of them are unabashedly watching. Them.

Finally, “Of course it does,” Seokjin scoffs, weak and unconvincing. He blinks out where the sidewalk meets asphalt. He tugs the jacket around himself by the lapels.

Hoseok, Jimin, and Taehyung must exchange the most obvious glances in the world. If Seokjin wasn’t already stewing in his own bashful distress, he’d call them out. But he is. So he lets them communicate through blatant, giggly, wonky-grinned expressions until they all return to whatever mini-worlds they were in.

They take a few turns into Yongsan’s narrow side streets, walking farther in from the main roads until Seokjin can hear rhythmic thumps from overhead, repetitive. Yoongi and Jimin lead them around a quick bend and directly into a… line? It’s a line of people snaking the side of a building, leading up several, narrow steps to where Seokjin can now parse the melodic thumping as live music. A rooftop bar, he realizes. Waiting guests loiter on each step up and towards the bouncer-check in threshold.

“Oooh,” Namjoon says. “Baile funk night? Who is this?” His arm sneaks under his own jacket, sitting idly on Seokjin’s waist as the group squeezes in against the brick wall. Seokjin tries not to react—outwardly. Because he’s fun and Namjoon is being sweet by trying to keep him near and warm(er) and every inhale brings in more firewood to stir his chest up inside.

“Probably Sango,” Yoongi calls back, voice muffled into Jimin’s throat. “Sounds like him.” Lovecat number one (Jimin) has Lovecat number two (Yoongi) wrapped up in an embrace, both of them trying to get maximum benefit out of Jungkook’s bomber jacket. Either Jungkook is not cold in his flimsy long-sleeve or he’s trying to act like he isn’t because he’s… Jungkook. Seokjin can guess which.

There’s a pause for Yoongi and Namjoon to parse the beat and for everyone else to pretend to understand. After a second, “I think you’re right,” Namjoon squints up towards the rooftop in thought. “Cool. Didn’t expect to hear him.”

Seokjin asks, “Sango?”

Namjoon tilts his head towards him. “American artist. Inspired by the Brazilian genre baile funk. Just didn’t expect to hear him here.”

That does not bring him any closer to context but, “Cool. You and Yoongi are really into—diverse music.”

“I thought I was gonna be some hotshot rapper when I was in junior high,” Namjoon snorts. His fingers tighten into the divots of Seokjin’s ribs. “And… maybe like. First year of high school. And—second year.”

Seokjin’s shoulders tremble with his laughter. “Maybe part of third year too?”

“Maybe,” Namjoon’s laughing with him. He shakes his head. “Nah, but—I was really into music in general. Lots of hip-hop… house. R&B. Still am.”

“Baile funk?”

“Found that through rap, actually. Baile funk has some origins in rap.”

The line starts shuffling forward; Jimin et al. make a new home of the first two steps, Seokjin and Namjoon—the stragglers—still on flat ground. Seokjin is kept close by Namjoon’s arms.

“‘M gonna die from hunger,” Taehyung whines. He has Hoseok practically pressed to the wall, their hips fused in a way that has Seokjin not wanting to look below the waist. “Hobi-hyung. Hob-ah. Hyung. Feed me.”

“What should I feed you? Mm?” Hoseok pinches Taehyung’s chin, giggling at Taehyung’s lost stare. He coos. “Do I look like food to you? Does Hobi-hyung look like food?”

“Yes.” Taehyung tilts his mouth a breath from Hoseok’s. “Hobi-hyung. Feed me. Want y—”

“So!” Seokjin blurts, making panicked, creaky squeaks. Eyes widened, he turns to Namjoon. “Is this normally how they are when you guys go out? Princess and Jiminie? Hobi and Taehyungie?”

The group shifts another step up. Closer to freedom.

“Unfortunately.” Namjoon and Seokjin share one, Seokjin tucked to his side by that pervasive arm. “They love to remind us how single we are. Gotta get away sometimes… especially when Hobi has his tongue in Taehyung’s throat. Honestly surprised that hasn’t happened yet.” He peeks up to where Jungkook is curled over his phone. “Though I don’t think Jungkookie cares all that much.”

“We can’t all be cool like Jungkookie,” Seokjin projects his voice, stealing glances at the back of Jungkook’s head. Jungkook doesn’t react at all. “Can we? Hard to be cool like Jungkookie!” Still nothing. Fucker. What’s got this kid so enthralled on his phone?

They graduate a few more steps; just a few more to go. The music is getting exponentially louder, the buzz of what must be hundreds of people leaking out and into Yongsan’s side streets.

Seokjin jumps a bit when Namjoon presses his nose and mouth into Seokjin’s cheekbone, asking, “What was that about you and dating? Not knowing how to be single?”

And fuck that other fucker Jung Hoseok. Way to make him look needy and histrionic. “I just,” Seokjin grapples for a diplomatic explanation. “I like—I like… being involved. With. Women. Romantically.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Namjoon offers, though there’s mirth in his voice.

“I don’t, like,” Seokjin continues to grapple. “I’m not a whore, or anything!” Namjoon outright whoops at this. “I’ve dated four women back-to-back—but they were all longer than a year! So! Not serial dating!—with, like, one or two casual… things… in-between, and now Hobi thinks I can’t be happy by myself.”

Namjoon hums, leaning away from Seokjin’s red-hot cheek. “Got it.” They move up another two steps; now Yoongi and Jimin are chatting with the bouncer, fishing for their IDs.

“I can! I can be happy by myself! This is the longest I’ve gone solo! So—ignore him. He always has shit to say. Thinks he’s such an expert because he’s been dating Taehyung for fifty years, or something.”

“It’s okay even if you do prefer to be with someone rather than being alone. I tend to prefer my autonomy, actually.”

Seokjin’s attention is caught. He watches Namjoon. “Yeah?”

“My last, uh. My last official relationship was two years ago. Lasted a year. I ‘dunno. I haven’t found anyone I wanted to date longer than a few months. ‘S less stressful being alone.”

True. Still, “‘S way less boring spending your life with someone.”

Namjoon lifts one shoulder. “I do that with my friends. Don’t need a romantic partner to have excitement.”

True. Still—Seokjin prefers excitement from a romantic (or sexual, but mostly romantic) partner. That’s a part of him he’s long since accepted.

He doesn’t tell Namjoon that. It’s a bit embarrassing, honestly. He nods and says, “That’s true,” and then lets the conversation drift.

After Seokjin and Namjoon get their turn at the bouncer, a lot happens fast. The rooftop bar is much bigger than Seokjin expected; half of it is shrouded under the safety of an awning while the other half is open to the element. The live music is a DJ, Seokjin notices, with his own corner of the venue claimed for his equipment, headphones hanging uselessly at his neck. The theme matches the ‘baile funk’, almost: tropical, with fake grass where there isn’t awning, tall space heaters shaped like palm trees, the standing tables and booths and barstools the shade and texture of oak.

The crowd is more diverse here too, gender-wise. Miniskirts, backless tops, couples and friends scattered about the open space, closest to the railing—also the shade and texture of wood.

Seokjin has no idea how Jimin manages it (Jimin Magic), but it takes ‘et al.’ loitering for a while before Jimin guides them like little ducklings to a long half-booth table by the outside perimeter. It looks like it’d just been cleaned off. Jimin pushes his bottom lip out, says a slurry thank you, hyungnim to a man dressed in business casual. The manager on duty? Yoongi gives the man a bicep-squeeze and a smiling thanks of his own, so they must know him. The lovecats have connections. Not surprising.

Seating ensues. Jungkook, Namjoon, and Seokjin (in that order) slide into the booth side that has its back to the city view; Yoongi, Jimin, Hoseok, and Taehyung (in that order) slide into the other side that has its back to the venue. Their waitress appears quite collected in spite of the chaos of waitressing at a busy bar, and Namjoon immediately requests, “Two waters, please,” before anyone can say anything else.

“For the table,” Yoongi interjects. “Please.”

“Seven glasses of water, okay.”

They’re given three paper menus. Jungkook hoards one for himself, so the other six share: Seokjin and Namjoon, Lovecats and Horny-Fuckers.

After a second of looking, “I know what I want already.” Jungkook slides his menu away.

“Same,” Yoongi says.

“What was the point of snatching one when you already knew?” Seokjin leans into the table ledge so he can shoot Jungkook a playful frown. “Selfish bunny.”

“Says the hyung letting his dongsaeng freeze to death by stealing his jacket,” Jungkook retorts. “At least I let my hyung use mine.” Hoseok cackles immediately, joyous.

“What?!” Seokjin guffaws. His ears are going to incinerate at this point. “I didn’t steal it; he offered it to me because he’s a good dongsaeng! Sorry we can’t all have muscle mass like you, you disrespectful fucking kangaro—”

Namjoon asserts, “Be nice to your hyung, Jungkook-ah. He’s skinnier than us.”

Jungkook scrunches his nose up and blinks away.

“Yeah! What Namjoonie said! I’m skinnier! Frail! I’ll die! You want hyu—hey! Pay attention when your hyung is talking to you! Stop looking at your phone! Jungkook-ah!”

Hoseok keeps knocking into Jimin, Jimin knocking back into him as they lose themselves in hysterics. Yoongi has returned to his own phone, cradling it in two, broad palms. Taehyung is watching the scene unfold like he’s seeing them in a dream.

Namjoon’s hand drifts over to squeeze Seokjin’s nearest thigh—again, over the slit. It’s impossible to see since it’s happening beneath the table and under the folds of the leather jacket, but it’s very much felt. Seokjin’s damned neurons, converging anywhere and everywhere Namjoon’s body touches his own. A grip, a command, not a suggestion.

Instead, it’s Namjoon’s voice that suggests, “The loaded fries are my go-to. Y’like cheese?”

“Do I love cheese? Namjoon-ah.” Seokjin fixes him a look. “Do you like baile Sango?”

Namjoon snorts. “Baile funk? Yes.”

“That answers that. I’m allergic to potatoes, but it’s worth it. I think maybe frying it and removing the skin helps.”

“You’re allergic to potatoes?” Namjoon gapes at him.

“I know. Very unfortunate. I sacrificed garlic and potatoes for my broad shoulders and good looks in the genetic war.”

“How did I not know this? We’ve known each other for a while.”

“Hard to learn about my quirks when you’re too busy running away,” Seokjin counters.

With this, Namjoon finds his shame. “Touché.”

Cheesy fries it is. The others deliberate on what platters to share, and after an extensive, drunken back and forth they decide on two mozzarella/jalapeno/salsa chip platters. Yoongi, Jimin, Namjoon and Jungkook order beers while the others stick with water only. “Neither of us are gonna get home safely if we drink anymore,” Hoseok says once the waitress deposits their waters and leaves, his fingers massaging into Taehyung’s nape. Taehyung has his temple to Hoseok’s shoulder and his eyes closed. Recuperating.

“Safety first,” Jimin says, tipping his beer between his parted lips.

While they wait, Jungkook takes a panoramic video for his Insta, Jimin snaps selcas of Yoongi and himself (Hyung! What the! How are you so cute?! Yoongi is just making a Vee with both hands, mouth corners curled. Cute… Seokjin isn’t seeing it.), Hoseok stands up to get one of the city skyline then of the crowd, and Namjoon’s hand hasn’t left Seokjin’s thigh.

Seokjin sobers up with his water. Namjoon and Yoongi fall into conversation about Brazil, electro, and whatever music nonsense no one else but Hoseok can interject into. Jimin ends up squeaking about having to piss, so Taehyung, Jimin, and Seokjin—who realizes that he also has to piss once Jimin mentions it first—stumble out of the booth to go find the bathrooms. “Gonna leave this with you,” Seokjin tells Namjoon before he departs, carefully setting the jacket on his now-empty spot.

Namjoon pauses mid-sentence to reach out, automatic. His first two fingers hooking over Seokjin’s to stop him from taking off, Namjoon tilts his head up to look at him, asks, “Don’t wanna just put it on? Still cold.”

Seokjin doesn’t think about it. Not actively, at least. He lets his fingers tighten around Namjoon’s, mindlessly swaying Namjoon’s arm closer to himself, and shout-explains, “Don’t wanna take it in the restroom with me; I’ll be okay now.” He waves his free hand vaguely around the venue. “There’s heat here.”

“You sure?”

Seokjin nods. His neck still feels loose from liquor. “Yeah.”

Namjoon doesn’t say anything. Seokjin can see Yoongi staring in his periphery because Yoongi was the last person Namjoon was speaking to before he’d interrupted. What are the others looking at? Who knows. But he can guess.

Seokjin is nervous. He’s nervous, suddenly. He watches as Namjoon’s eyes linger on him. Namjoon’s tight jaw and the dancing, amber hues of the space heaters’ infrared across his forehead, cheek, damp mouth. Wool-elastane turtleneck cinched to his pecs, his arms and where it’s tucked under the waistband of his jeans. His eyebrows are gentle, pupils lit with amber flame. Thumb flexing up to rub over Seokjin’s knuckles, Namjoon murmurs, finally, “Okay.”

Seokjin’s heartbeat is in his throat.

There’s movement to his left. “What is this debate about a jacket?! Hyunggg.” Jimin. He’s whining and squirming, knees rocking rhythmically. “Gonna piss myself here!”

When Seokjin unhooks their fingers and walks off, he… the nerves dwindle, and Seokjin is giddy. Thrill-trembly and giddy and laughing way too hard at Jimin screeching about how he hopes there’s no line as they rush under the awning. He trembles and does a jitter in the narrow hall by the bar and laughs, again, with more enthusiasm than it warrants at Taehyung trying sadistically to press his palm at Jimin’s pelvis while Jimin shoves him and threatens to spike his water with vodka. Taehyung is barking laughter and Jimin is trying to give him a dead arm and Seokjin is giddy enough to vibrate right out of his fleshbag of a body.

In the restrooms, Seokjin spends more time sprucing up in the mirror than he does pissing. He reapplies his tinted chapstick and twists his head this way and that, assessing the alcohol-flush to his features that make him look alive. His hair has seen better days (nights), but Seokjin likes it. Windblown, carelessly sexy. Sexy and alluring and fun.

“Picture?” Taehyung’s done drying his hands. He retrieves his phone from his crossbody—a neon yellow crossbody that looks suspiciously like one of Hoseok’s many crossbodies. “Bathroom picture with hyung and Jiminie?”

Jimin shuffles up, spooning Taehyung from behind, chin propped over his shoulder. “Post-piss picture with your hyungs.”

“With my hyungs,” Taehyung repeats in a breath.

Seokjin hesitates. Then, “Do I wanna know?”

Taehyung takes a bathroom picture ‘with his hyungs’. Whatever. Ones of Jimin spooning Taehyung, ones of Jimin spooning Seokjin, ones of them making a Seokjin Sandwich with themselves as the bread. It’s only once everyone is satisfied with how they look does Taehyung upload it to his stories.

On the way out into the narrow hall again, “Namjoonie, huh?” Jimin asks—as blatant a pry as there ever was one.

“You’re a natural at this,” Seokjin hiccups. Giddy but collected, “He’s nice. Easier to talk to when he has some drinks in him.”

Jimin’s eyebrows keep climbing. “Uh-huh.”

“He is! Nice!” Those eyebrows continue their perilous climb toward Jimin’s bleached hairline. Seokjin hiccups some more, sputters. “What?! Just say it, Jimin-ah, because I can’t take the sarcastic lit—”

“You two are okay? He’s been cool with you? Not—”

—making him uncomfortable? No. “He’s nice,” Seokjin repeats. “We’re catching up.”

There must be some finality to Seokjin’s tone, because Jimin doesn’t push it anymore. “Good,” he chirps. Then they’re out on the rooftop again, and it’s too loud to carry easy conversation while walking.

They return to the table full with their appetizer plates. Seokjin tosses himself back into the booth, arm, leg, and shoulder knocking over Namjoon before he adjusts. “My bladder is empty and I’m ready to eat!”

Namjoon laughs as he watches Seokjin grab for the cheesy fries. He cups Seokjin’s kneecap, rubs a thumb across the outside bend. “Feeling lighter?”

“Too light; need these fries to tether me to the rooftop before I float away.”

More Namjoon Laughter. Seokjin may float off the rooftop no matter how many fries he scarfs down. “I’ve got you,” Namjoon murmurs, tightening his grip.

Seokjin gives a cheesy smile—literally. He’s got six fries stuffed in his mouth and he can feel the warm cheese smeared across his lips. “Thank you,” he warbles.

Namjoon and Seokjin share the fries while the other five share their chips. Hoseok films on and off—“Couple shot, couple shot!” he cheers while capturing Namjoon and Seokjin and where their plate sits between them (ensue his little audience of four falling into hysterics once more). Meanwhile, Jungkook polishes off half of one plate before hopping up to piss, Yoongi joining him. Jimin gets some photos of their now-cluttered table, selcas of him and Hoseok, a close-up shot of Taehyung and his mouthful of crushed chips, jalapenos plucked off before consumption.

“Like it?” Namjoon asks him. “Not gonna go into anaphylactic shock?”

“I think I’ll live to see another day,” Seokjin says. “Yes. I like it. I like food.”

“Good.”

Namjoon nurses his beer between bites. Seokjin eats until he’s satisfied.

Random conversation flitters about, Seokjin distracted with water, before there’s a shared holler from both Jimin and Hoseok. Seokjin jerks his attention to the two of them pointing at something on Hoseok’s phone screen. “No—Namjoo—Namjoon-ah—” Hoseok’s gasping. Jimin has his face completely obscured by his hands, forehead tipped. “Some—someone asked me—”

“Spit it out,” Namjoon urges, “you’re scaring me!”

“—Someone aske—”

“What!” Seokjin guffaws. “Just say it! What did someone ask?!”

Taehyung yanks Hoseok’s wrist so he can see, too. His eyes track the screen, mouth hanging in anticipation—and then he’s barking too, releasing Hoseok’s wrist so he can twist away. Seokjin starts to get hysterically curious when even Yoongi cranes his neck, reads, and promptly loses it.

“Guys, c’mon.” Namjoon’s exasperated.

“Someone just ask—asked if Jin-hyung’s—if Jin-hyung’s really your boyfriend—”

“‘N—And someone else said,” Jimin’s trying now, “congratulations—!”

Now Namjoon’s interest is piqued. “Who?”

“Donghyuck-hyung—”

Namjoon flatlines. He says, flat as his face, “You guys are the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Somehow that has them laughing harder. Seokjin’s worried that Jimin will pass out on them, he’s so red.

“What?” Seokjin scans their faces to try to make eye contact. When he can’t, he turns to Namjoon. “Why can’t this Donghyuck-ssi think we’re dating?”

Namjoon waves a palm. “No, I don’t,” he pauses. Sighs. “It’s not about it being bad that he thinks that. I’m fine with that. Whatever.”

“Then why the,” Seokjin does his best approximation of Namjoon’s voice, low and rumbling, “‘You guys are the worst thing that’s ever happened to me’? It’s so bad he thinks we’re boyfriends? I thought we were boyfriends for the night! Or one night stands. Boyfriends. Whatever it was. You’re embarrassed to be my one-night-boyfriend?”

“We can be,” Namjoon rushes. “We are. That’s—it’s not about… Donghyuck hyung is just—nosy? Invasive? Gullible?”

Hoseok recovers somewhat. At least, he recovers enough to bite out, “We need another couple's picture to post. We nuh—Jimin-ah, stop! My—my stomach hurts—gotta keep this momentum going—”

“In his lap again?” Taehyung twists back to offer.

“Can’t with the table,” Yoongi, professional shit-stirrer, has decided to join the fray. “Bolted to the ground.”

Namjoon is shaking his head. “I think we’ve been convincing enough; we don’t need t—”

“Kiss!” Seokjin blurts. “A kiss!”

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Shock chases away some of the laughter but it doesn’t chase away the vigor. Jimin looks a cross between incredulous and impressed as he searches Seokjin’s face for a joke. Everyone else slows down like they’re also waiting for him to say he’s fucking around so they can move on, keep laughing, keep teasing Namjoon.

But Seokjin isn’t joking. Seokjin twists in Namjoon’s direction and declares, emotive and thrill-trembling and fun and sexy and spontaneous, “For the picture! Kiss me.”

Now it’s Namjoon that looks impressed. Impressed, a touch uncertain—a building hunger. “Kiss you?” he asks.

Everyone on the other side has gone uncharacteristically quiet, save for a stray chuckle here and there. Most likely in anticipation, four sets of eyes stuck where Seokjin looks at Namjoon and Namjoon looks at Seokjin. Jungkook hasn’t returned from the restrooms.

Doesn’t matter who’s watching. Seokjin insists, “Kiss me.”

Honestly… Seokjin expected Namjoon to put up more of a fight. He’d spent half the night asking if Seokjin was good, if he was comfortable, seemingly exasperated at his friends and their weaponizing a straight guy to bully him. Understandable.

But Namjoon doesn’t repeat himself. He doesn’t ask kiss you? again, just to be sure. He doesn’t go looking for a way to escape. Trusting hyung? Must be. Namjoon’s attention flickers from Seokjin’s eyes to his mouth to his eyes and back again. Namjoon’s jaw locks up, tongue rolling against his cheeks, before he curls up his lips and lets shadows dip into his eye sockets. It’s a tighter, more serious, still humored expression that happens quick enough that Seokjin can’t properly absorb it; Namjoon rasps, “Alright,” as if he’s left with no other choice.

“Oh, fuck?” Jimin.

“Really?” Taehyung.

“Jin-hyung!” Yoongi’s hiccupy-laughter, stunned. “No more drinks for you—”

Hoseok has his phone brandished, and Namjoon brandishes Seokjin’s face. Gentle, slender fingers sweeping over his red-hot ears, the heel of his palms pressed into his cheeks. Seokjin barely has time to close his eyes or respond in kind before Namjoon is leaning into his space—guiding Seokjin close by those gentle hands—tilting his own head to find his angle, and pressing his lips to Seokjin’s.

Trembling in the limbs, Seokjin lifts his hands to find Namjoon’s shoulders, immediately shuts his eyes.

“Ooh, hyung!” Hoseok’s voice is nearly a shriek. Flashes of light bleed in through Seokjin’s lids. There’s a chorus of cheers and crazed laughter and gleeful hands clapping together, loud enough that it’s heard even over the DJ and bar-hoppers circling them.

And—

Seokjin is going to float. The enthusiasm from his friends inflates his insides like hot air; he grounds his body to time and place with two palms sliding over Namjoon’s throat, chasing the quick pulse of Namjoon’s heart beneath his touch. Seokjin’s eyes are closed, but Namjoon’s body heat gives the image of a much larger, broader frame leering over him. Standing too close to a fire, all Seokjin can feel and smell is cedar wood.

It’s not some fantastically special kiss. Not that Seokjin expected a man’s kiss to have some—unique allure to it. No fireworks or late-onset epiphanies or other grandiose nonsense that Seokjin is too old for. He may be naïve in this regard, but he’s still fucking twenty-eight.

It’s simple. Namjoon puckers his mouth in an easy, slow rhythm, one thumb sweeping like a pendulum at Seokjin’s undereye. There’s a tease of tongue along the seam of Seokjin’s mouth when he parts his lips and lets himself sink into the kiss. Lets his headspace sink, too.

“Fuck! This is so hot.” Jimin?

“Of course you’d think that.” Yoongi?

“Hyung. Stop pretending like this isn’t hot—”

Seokjin’s truly going to float. He’ll boil up and evaporate into mist.

Hoseok hasn’t stopped laughing. Camera lights haven’t stopped itching at Seokjin’s lids. Multiple cameras, he thinks. He can feel Namjoon smile into the kiss, trembles when his hands tighten at his jaw. He’s offering a few puckers of his own before Namjoon drifts back, hovering so that they’re no longer kissing but still sharing the same breath, like a tease.

And when Seokjin blinks his eyes open to find Namjoon, he’s met with a sloppy grin, pupils dark and leering. Namjoon breathes, half-rasp, “Guess now y’kiss men when you’re drunk.”

He knows no one heard that but him; Namjoon practically wrote the words into Seokjin’s lips. Their friends haven’t stopped laughing and clapping and jumping in with suggestions on what to caption Hoseok’s future story of Namjoon and Alleged Boyfriend making out (Just put rainbows! Only rainbows!! Tag Namjoonie hyung! Tag me so I can repost it to my story! Put that it’s their 100 days!).

Seokjin trembles and squeaks because he isn’t sure what else to do. He’s convinced Namjoon can feel his fingers quivering where they’re pressed to the curve of Namjoon’s throat. Namjoon is staring at him and won’t move away, won’t let go of his jaw. Like he’s waiting for Seokjin to say something. Seokjin always has something to say, doesn’t he?

Seokjin says, “Congrats on being my—first.”

“First? ‘M not gonna be your only?” Not a single beat missed.

“You wanna be my only?”

Namjoon’s eyes drift to where they connect. “Can’t I?”

“You… it’s fi…” Seokjin falters to stare. His dialogue tree has hit a dead end.

“What is this?” Hoseok’s got his teasing voice equipped. “Are we gonna get another off-camera kiss? Gonna feed Jiminie’s straight guy porno fetish?”

“You know it’s hot,” Jimin guffaws. “Can we stop pretending I’m the only one who thinks it’s hot?!”

Taehyung affirms, “You’re not the only one that thinks it’s hot.”

“Thank you! Can always count on my teddy bear.” Jimin reaches across Hoseok to pinch the skin beneath Taehyung’s jaw. Taehyung beams. “Cutie.”

Namjoon lets go of Seokjin, leans back to safety. Whatever Seokjin was sputtering to say is promptly lost to the chaos. And Seokjin—mottled red down to his chest, giddy once more—hiccups out a loud, delirious laugh and turns towards their audience of four. “The—the picture! Our couple’s picture! How does it look? Show me.”

 

 

The night has ripened. Avant’s DJ flicks the music up, a bass-heavy track blending into the forefront, and it’s as if that’s the mating call: Jimin et al. begin to disperse. It’s magic, really, how quickly they fall into their element. Hoseok and Taehyung, hands entangled, find themselves up by the DJ booth, dancing with abandon. Jungkook has once again disappeared (he never came back to the table after his piss-trip, actually. Where is that kid?). Yoongi and Jimin have wandered over to the perimeter of the rooftop to sway together. And Yoongi’s wearing jeans under his skirt, sure, but it’s somehow still obscene, the way they’re pressed front-to-front, Jimin’s arms up underneath the back of it, blatantly groping at his ass.

Seokjin immediately looks away once Jimin’s long tongue flicks out to make a home of Yoongi’s mouth.

Things escalate—instantaneously. Seokjin abandoned something within himself after the kiss. Or, that something abandoned him. He thinks.

His resolve? It could also be that Seokjin found a spot in his chest that was not-so hidden; he’d just never thought to look for it. A door now open, Seokjin peers out to an endless horizon.

Namjoon watches him with a smirk like he wants to consume him piece by piece. Seokjin goes and Namjoon—hands in his leather jacket pockets—follows. Is this how it is for a woman? The exhilarating dance of being chased, desired, a man’s attention bold and resolute. Seokjin has never had a woman tail him like this, to grab and not suggest, to not let their body ask permission.

Seokjin fetches another water at the bar and he finds an unoccupied standing table; Namjoon is always a step away. When Seokjin makes a joke about wanting to tell the group of girls that keep staring at Namjoon to join them, making a show of walking off, Namjoon chuckles a, c’mon, quit it, and scoops a cackling Seokjin back in by his waist.

“Not interested?” he bites out.

“You know the answer to that.”

Then Seokjin stands there and lets Namjoon’s arms roam, lets Namjoon press their chests together and rub a palm over Seokjin’s back and wind his arms around Seokjin’s middle, nose and mouth to the side of Seokjin’s jaw to whisper-shout, “Your waist is so small. You shouldn’t have a waist like this.”

Seokjin gladly and shamelessly lets the trap nip his fingers. “Why not?” he shouts back against Namjoon’s ear. His hands sit idly at both of Namjoon’s shoulders, nowhere to go inside Namjoon’s embrace. He’s blushing. He doesn’t think he’s been blush-free for more than five minutes at a time.

Namjoon squeezes his arms around Seokjin, making him leap, squirm. “‘S a waste on a straight guy. Not gonna be used right.”

“Not used right,” Seokjin parrots on a snort. “What does that even me—”

“Handles,” Namjoon explains like he’s telling him about dragon tea from the countryside of China. His arms shift, bending at the elbows so he can snatch Seokjin right under his ribcage. He grips firm, eliciting another leap and squirm. “Move you where they need you. Hold you down.”

Ah?

Ah! Okay! Cool! He may not be the only sexy and spontaneous one here; Seokjin is going to combust. That’s becoming more and more of a possibility. He releases hot air through more laughter, his learned reaction. “Namjoon-ah,” a weak interpretation of scolding. “Wah. Didn’t know you had that in you.”

“Have what in me?” Namjoon’s mouth drags along Seokjin’s cheekbone until he can make eye contact.

“Dirty minded! Thought you were a sweet, polite boy. But I guess this makes sense, considering you’re friends with Jiminie and Hobi.”

Namjoon chuckles. Seokjin can’t hear it with how loud it is, but he can see it. Namjoon trades eye contact for watching Seokjin’s lips. “What does that make you, then?”

He didn’t think that far. “Shit. Guess if I’m being logically consistent, I’m a pervert, too.”

They laugh together.

Then Namjoon’s laugh fades but his gaze doesn’t. Seokjin’s laugh fades, too. Namjoon watches him, and Seokjin watches Namjoon. Seokjin isn’t sure whether that’s his heart that’s beating or if it’s bass. Either way, Seokjin’s chest thuds.

Namjoon leans in and captures his mouth again.

There’s pause. Their noses are squished at a slant. This time, Seokjin goes lax, parting his lips with a sigh, and Namjoon takes it as invitation to slant his head, slip his tongue into Seokjin’s mouth.

Seokjin shudders through another sigh. His palms come up, tentatively hovering, before he decides to touch, to cradle Namjoon’s face while Namjoon demonstrates what he’d said—Seokjin’s waist doubling as a handle—and grips tight to drag Seokjin close, closer, closer. The small of Seokjin’s back curves in, his upper body curves back, and Namjoon chases his mouth with teeth and his sweeping tongue. Seokjin’s next sigh arrives with a bit of voice, edging towards a moan.

Fuck. This kiss reads entirely different. It is entirely different: there’s no audience to entertain, no assurances, no jest. There’s tongue, a crafted sensuality where Namjoon draws out each stroke until Seokjin’s lost his rhythm and has to relearn himself. Rearrange what he’s spent twenty-eight years memorizing.

He can count on one hand the amount of times a girlfriend yanked his waist while they kissed; no girlfriend has ever had hands the size of Namjoon’s, either. Seokjin has seldom stood on lower ground than a girlfriend, has seldom craned his neck up instead of down—and those moments were because she’d been on a taller chair, on a staircase above, draped over him in bed or on a couch, when they were horizontal. It’s… it’s strange. Strange in the way uncommon things are: having to use his conversational English to direct a foreign student to their lecture hall; getting a tearful, private I love you from his father (who’s had to have drinks in him to reach that threshold); fingering a clarinet for the first, fourth, ninth time before his parents gave up on their dreams of having a child that could play two-plus instruments.

Seokjin struggles with an awareness of his body. How to hold a man that’s spent years holding men. It reminds him, dreadfully, of his high school girlfriend, skin aflame, thoughts leaving him to fend for himself.

Now, he fends for himself. Letting Namjoon tip him back, letting the waist he doesn’t deserve get handled and maneuvered, matching Namjoon’s seeking tongue with his own careful, sweeping tongue. Seokjin’s palm rubs across chin-stubble, his fingers through cropped hair. Heat trails downward.

What would his father think? Oh, fuck. He’d pass out right where he stood. He’d ship him off to the country to live with his grandparents. He’d regret ever giving in and letting Seokjin go to an art school, where his family assumes the kids walk around with idol-colored hair and face piercings and reek of societal failure. Never mind the fact that some of the country’s greatest actors and creatives of their time were alumni. Ungrounded bullshit.

None of that matters. Seokjin is here in Yongsan, not in Gwacheon. He’s going to have fun, he’s going to be spontaneous, he’s stumbled through doors that cannot be hidden again. Found doors:

Their lips click apart when Namjoon retreats. Barely. He rolls his forehead against Seokjin’s, lids low, gaze lower. He tells him, “You’re the hottest person I’ve seen in real life.”

This is what fun spontaneity gets you: an unfaltering gaze, unfaltering compliments. Seokjin’s laugh is raspier, almost distracted. “Haven’t seen many classic beauties?” he quips.

“No.” It’s not lighthearted. Nothing to work off of.

Blushing fiercely, an intuition tells Seokjin to peek to his right.

He peeks.

Avant seems to have doubled in guest-load. Any open space has been eaten, mere slivers left to weave about, music rocking the building’s foundation. Nonetheless, Seokjin finds Hoseok—and Hoseok has clearly already found him. Who knows when Hoseok first started watching (Seokjin was… occupied), but he can take an educated guess; he hasn’t seen Hoseok smiling that wide since—since he kissed Namjoon for the first time. Taehyung is too busy gnawing at Hoseok’s throat bend to pay attention to what Hoseok is doing.

Hoseok starts to excitedly mouth out words, and Seokjin manages to parse ‘gay’ and ‘one night’ before he averts his eyes. No thanks. That’s a puzzle Hoseok’s going to have to physically bring to Seokjin for him to solve.

Moving on. Seokjin shouts at a staring Namjoon, “I think I’m ready for another drink!”

 

 

Sober or plastered, Seokjin’s never been afraid to dance in public. It’s the best ice breaker, proving to someone else that he doesn’t take himself as seriously as others seem to take him.

This wields new context, though, swaying with Namjoon flush to his back, arms stubborn to his middle, his own hands holding Namjoon by the forearms. Namjoon’s smile to his throat, Soekjin’s head tipped back onto Namjoon’s shoulders and his eyes to the sky. He hallucinates stars where the city’s pollution has scraped them clean. He shivers, breathes a voiceless sigh when Namjoon’s incisors scrape at his skin.

“Liking the music?” Namjoon has reached the spot beneath his ear.

Seokjin listens for a moment. Hadn’t even been paying much attention. Then, “Not bad. This still baile funk?”

“Nah,” Namjoon says, “kinda feels like dancehall. YDG.”

“Never met a person that knew music genres like this.” Seokjin tilts his head in Namjoon’s direction. At this angle, they’re breathing the same air. “Can’t believe the government is stealing you from your real calling. I’m gonna add that to their pile of infractions.”

Seokjin’s spine vibrates against Namjoon’s whoop. “I can still do music if I want. Time management. And—not my real calling anymore.”

“Liar! Hobi said you were in Hapjeong rapping just, like, a year ago.”

Poetry. It was poetry. It wasn’t some—pre-established thing. I signed up last minute since Hobi was already gonna perform.”

“Is rapping not just poetry but faster? And over a beat?”

Namjoon’s got his full, dimpled smile on. “I guess so, yeah.” He cranes until their nose tips kiss. Tilts his head. Lingers. “Why’re you tryna convince me about this?”

“Because I can tell it wasn’t some old childhood dream.”

A titter. “Becoming a bigshot rapper? That was definitely ‘some old childhood dream.’ I can enjoy art and discovering new genres and writing poetry and not want to pursue music as a career. I feel… I was always afraid that if I made music my job, it’d become that. A job. Work. And then I’ll lose it as a hobby forever.”

Practical and very Namjoon. But, “You don’t think that was an excuse? To save your parents the heartache?”

Namjoon takes a moment to consider Seokjin, vaguely stunned. Did he come on too strong? Shit. Reel it back, rewind, rewind.

“I mean,” Seokjin blurts, “that was mine. My excuse. Before I—when I was in junior university. Not wanting to do something I really like because I didn’t wanna hate it. Digital media was our compromise.”

This has Namjoon untense. “You might be right. I ‘dunno. I have to—I’m gonna wait until I’m sober to soul-search.” He falters, lost in thought, then makes another titter. “Look at you. Trying to make me have a fuckin’ quarter-life crisis in the middle of a bar.”

Seokjin scoffs, incredulity exaggerated from the beer they’d just shared. “Namjoon-ah… don’t slander me! I wasn’t trying to ‘make you’ do anything! I was just asking questions!”

“Just asking questions,” Namjoon parrots. “Okay. That was a very interesting, non-aggressive, nonchalant question, hyung. It was absolutely not meant to put me on the defense. Thanks for the introspection.”

Here comes the red creeping back to embarrass him. Eyes bulging out, Seokjin gasps, offended, “Aggressive?! That was aggressive to you—?”

“I said non-aggressive—”

“You don’t know an aggressive me! If I wanted to be aggressive, I would’ve asked: why are you lying to yourself, you weak, lazy, wasted-on-the-government rapper-in-disguise with no—”

Namjoon tightens his embrace over Seokjin’s ribs, pecks at the corner of his mouth until Seokjin shuts up in a punted breath. “Got it. I’m sorry. You’re right, hyung. Forgive me for accusing you; that was slanderous of me.”

“Don’t…” Seokjin’s brain is whirring uselessly, frozen from Namjoon’s prodding lips pecking at him, teasing tongue at his mouth corner. What was he saying? Shit. Okay—right. “Don’t go back to your closed off yes, hyung, okay, hyung bullshit again. We’re past that. Next level, remember?”

“I can’t challenge you,” a peck, “and I can’t apologize,” more pecks from Namjoon’s viscous, grinning mouth, “What can I do?”

“Listen to me.”

“I’m listening.”

“You have to be nice,” Seokjin squeezes Namjoon’s forearms, feels them flex in response, “but you can’t be Dongsaeng Robot Nice. Find the balance. That’s your mission. Got it?”

Namjoon presses down with more intention, his breath ghosting. He murmurs, “Got it.”

Good. Satisfied, Seokjin finds an angle to finally give Namjoon what he wants: a proper kiss. Tongue licking over Seokjin’s, mouths fused. They click apart. Then he gives another. Allows another. Another. Messy, languid. Namjoon must taste the accidental moan from Seokjin’s throat; it’s nowhere near quiet enough for him to hear it.

He’s trying to contain it. Himself. But Namjoon’s unthreading him, plucking him loose. Trembling and thrilling, Seokjin’s fingers pulse around Namjoon’s forearms, clinging as if he’ll float off if he lightens up. There’s a stubborn, amber heat dripping. Namjoon nips to the plump middle of his lip with his incisors, and Seokjin’s jaw slackens on another whistling moan.

Seokjin’s ears have burnt off. Undoubtedly. He can’t feel them anymore. He’s fire and scintillation, torched into soot.

“Namjoon-ah,” he exhales, lips breaking. He’s going cross-eyed trying to follow Namjoon’s devil mouth.

“Y’good, babe? This okay?” Namjoon relatches to Seokjin’s throat at a slant. “Hyung?”

He wants to say he’s good, that this is fine, everything’s fine because he’s fine, but he really isn’t sure. If he’d ever been sure. Seokjin is converging neurons and synapses personified, trying his damndest not to vibrate straight out of his skin, puncture Namjoon’s lungs with a stray rib. Even tipsy-drunk, it’s sensory overload: every place that Namjoon’s skin touches his, the intimate embrace of a man as large as he, the shameless want in Namjoon’s tongue and stray, careless hands.

Seokjin doesn’t want to lie. He also doesn’t want Namjoon to stop.

He stretches his throat out along Namjoon’s shoulder for easier access. He pants out another, “Namjoon-ah,” that gets swept in the noise, a surrender that says, do what you want—and don’t ask me again.

 

 

Seokjin knows his lips have reddened and doubled in size by the time Hoseok and Taehyung swoop in to gather them. He’s been making out with Namjoon on-off for what reads like hours, roaming around for the sole purpose of being chased.

“It’s three a.m,” Hoseok shouts by way of greeting, Taehyung draped over him, half-conscious. “We’re gonna head out!”

Namjoon has a palmful of Seokjin’s left asscheek. He lifts his face from Seokjin’s jaw to blink, stunned, at them. “Three already? Shit.”

“Yeah—gotta be out before five, anyway.”

“Shit.”

Three. Seokjin fixes his posture as if waking up from a long, disorienting dream. He surveys the venue with his eyes. “Where’s the others?”

“I’m gonna get them. One sec.”

They watch Hoseok waddle off with Taehyung until the crowd eats them up. Then Seokjin turns to Namjoon and asks, “Time to wrap it up?”

“Think so.”

Three a.m. Seokjin’s stuck on that. He swears it was ten just one hour ago; it feels simultaneously eons back that Namjoon first asked him about his major, called him intimidating, arm hovering but not yet crossing that boundary. And now it’s over.

Where does he go from here? Is there anywhere to go? Seokjin, off-kilter, goes searching for the nylon that kept him sutured tight.

“Should probably start calling for taxis,” Namjoon says from beside him. He hand drifts off of Seokjin’s ass, seemingly gone to find his nylon, too. “Before it gets crazy.”

“Yea,” Seokjin blinks around him. Doesn’t look like Avant is slowing down any. “Yeah. Okay.” He pats at his pockets for his phone.

When Hoseok circles back around with Lovecats and Jungkook in tow, Seokjin has his Kataxi called and—as stated by the app—is fifteen minutes away. “Start calling the taxis,” Yoongi says once they’ve approached. His face is flushed, lips swollen, eyeliner smudged. “Gotta beat the crowd.”

“‘S what I said,” Namjoon says. “Hurry.”

The journey down the bar and into the side street is as harrowing as it was getting up; Namjoon keeps a grip on Seokjin's forearm instead of his wrist. Jimin et al. are knocked about, weaving until they’re stumbling down the still-crowded staircase and then ambling their way towards the main road, exhausted and alcohol lingering with each step.

“Ours is thirty fucking minutes away,” Taehyung whines, peeking at Hoseok’s phone. “I’ll pass out in thirty minutes.”

“Ours is ten minutes,” Jimin says, words slurred, “I’d let you share with us, but… you’re going to Hobi’s.” Opposite directions.

Namjoon deadpans, “Which means I won’t be going to Hobi’s.”

“Not going home?” Jungkook asks.

“It’s a half-hour ride on a good day, so it’s gonna be, like, an hour or more to get to Ilsan right now.”

They reach the sidewalk, loitering out by the road. Yongsan at three in the morning has a stubborn motion to it, taxis lingering at the curbs, students intoxicated as they warble from bar to club to bar. There are three girls gasping for breath as they laugh-cry against an empty store window. Music follows from every narrow corner.

“I can sneak you in with me.” Jungkook. “If we beg hard enough, they should let you come u—”

“We’re not risking that,” Namjoon says. “Already tried once with Taehyungie. Didn’t go well.”

Yoongi glances up at Namjoon from over Jimin and Seokjin’s heads. “You can crash on our co—”

“Hyung, sorry and thank you, but no. You two are worse than Hobi and Taehyung. I’m forever scarred from the time I found yo—”

“Okay!” Jimin blurts, finding his shame. “Okay! Enough. No need to recap. We know.”

Hoseok’s giggle is sleepier, weaker.

Seokjin glances at his app. Four minutes away. He tells Namjoon, “Just—hyung will take you with him. It’s fine. My ride is almost here.”

Namjoon blinks at him. Pleasantly surprised, “Really? Uh. You don’t have to, hyung, it’s okay. I can—I’ll just make the trip to Ilsa—”

Seokjin tuts. Red heat is pooling under his cheeks again, but he powers on, scolding, “What did I say about this polite act? And listening to and trusting hyung? You’re failing your lessons already. I’m disappointed.”

A louder, stronger giggle from Hoseok. “Lessons? What is this? Roleplay?”

“Right.” Namjoon bows his head, though his mouth corners are ticking up in a grin. “Sorry, Jin-seonsaengnim. Thank you for—letting me crash at yours.”

“Ours is here,” Yoongi says to the taxi curving up and lingering nearby. Jimin has Yoongi’s phone in hand, looking at Kakao T to confirm. “Get home safely, everyone. Lemme know.”

“Thanks for coming out!” Jimin returns Jungkook’s bomber jacket, then weaves through them to reach Seokjin, tugging him into an embrace, head cuddled to one shoulder. “Was so fun, Jin-hyung. Y’need to join us more often. ‘Kay?”

Seokjin returns the embrace, taking in a lungful of Jimin’s citrus conditioner. “We’ll see; I’m a very busy, very popular man.” Then, quieter and less theatric, “Thanks for inviting me out. I had a good time.” Being trusted, being allowed into a private, vulnerable space not meant for him—Seokjin won’t take advantage of that.

Jimin seems to understand. He always has. He meets Seokjin’s soft eyes and returns a soft smile of his own. “Yay,” he gives a quiet cheer. “Goodnight.”

Goodnights are passed to each member. Hugs from Jimin, a tight-lipped smile from Yoongi. Before sliding into the backseat, Yoongi calls out, “Namjoon snores!” to which Namjoon, absolutely mortified for reasons Seokjin can’t quite understand—is snoring that big of a deal?—yells at him to shut up and close the door. Jimin’s muted laughter can be heard even as he obeys.

As Yoongi and Jimin’s taxi takes off, Seokjin’s arrives.

“Jungkook-ah,” Seokjin sighs, turning to face his captive audience. “Hobi. Taehyung-ah. I’m afraid this is where we depart. Until next time.”

Jungkook nose-scrunches. “You’re shivering, hyung.”

“I’m cold! Hug me and warm me up! C’mere!”

Seokjin earns his warm, muscled hug. It immediately turns into Who can Subdue the Other the Fastest—but it’s warm and muscled nonetheless. Hoseok and Taehyung get their turn for hugs after Seokjin lets Jungkook win (AKA, Jungkook actually wins and Seokjin pretends he let Jungkook win), Hoseok repeating Jimin’s sentiment—“Was a really good time with you, hyung. Come next time too, okay?”—and Taehyung, half-conscious, mumbling, “Welcome, honorary member.”

“Don’t forget to let us know you got home, Jungkook-ah,” Namjoon instructs him. “I’m serious. I get spooked when I don’t hear from you.”

“I’ll try.”

“You will.” It’s his hyung voice, to which Jungkook yields, nodding and repeating I will. That satisfies him.

Then Seokjin and Namjoon climb into the patient taxi. Namjoon lets Seokjin slide in first, holding the door open, and soon follows. Their driver has the heat on, praise any and every omnipresent being watching from above, and Seokjin melts into the upholstery in relief, tipping his head back against the headrest.

Seokjin greets and confirms the address; the car gently drifts back into traffic.

Finally in a silent, warm place—motionless—Seokjin discovers his exhaustion. Each blink grows slower and slower, slower and slower, until he blinks and doesn’t lift them again. His brain sloshes around in his skull with the movement of the car.

“Jin-hyung. Um. Thanks again.”

Seokjin hums. Too tired to scold. Barely wants to think. The last thing he manages to register is Namjoon’s palm finding his knee before he slips into sleep.

 

 

The thirty-minute nap was necessary. That’s what Seokjin concludes when they pull up to his apartment complex south of the river. It’s a mostly quiet affair, Seokjin thanking their driver and then Namjoon, who holds the door open for him.

Namjoon’s expression is drowsy as if he’d fallen asleep too. He follows Seokjin’s lead as they make it into the building, Seokjin tapping his card to call the elevator. It opens automatically, already on ground level.

“Feels like forever since the last time I’ve been here,” Namjoon says. His voice sounds odd in the privacy of their elevator, no longer having to shout to be heard. “When was the last time I was here?”

“When Hobi still taught contemporary dance,” Seokjin mumbles. He nearly rubs his eyes before remembering that that’ll transfer foundation to his fingers. “Last summer.”

“Wow.”

Neither talk again until they’re on Seokjin’s floor, Seokjin thumbs in his door code, and they’ve pushed into his foyer. “You can borrow a shirt if you want,” Seokjin’s saying, tossing off his boots by the shoe cubbies. “Can also grab you a spare towel and rag if you wanna shower.” He hears Namjoon kicking off his own sneakers behind him. “Blankets are in my room. One sec…”

Seokjin flicks on lights as he steps in; he’s made it past his little foyer hall and into the common room when Namjoon, always one step behind, rubs a hand at his waist. A quiet breath. “Jin-hyung.”

Seokjin turns to look.

He doesn’t know what he’s doing. If this is his being fun and sexy and spontaneous or him being foolish. In over his head. Dangerous. His veins are thrumming ten percent alcohol, his chest stuttery on anxious, drowsy breaths. Kim Namjoon is in his apartment at near-four in the morning, staring at him like he had in Why Not, on the rooftop: famished, curious. Prepared to chase.

There’s neither baile funk nor dancehall to mask the gasp Seokjin makes, his head tipping as Namjoon takes a confident step forward and dips down to mouth at his throat. Firm, nonpermissive hands discover his hips again, gripping, shifting him close so that Namjoon can find his right angle, his teeth nipping, tongue flicking out to soothe.

“Ha—ah,” Seokjin quivers. He stares absently at a far wall over Namjoon’s head, his own hands creating fists at Namjoon’s shoulders. Then Namjoon sucks skin between his lips, and Seokjin gasps another, “Ah,” before he can filter and swallow it back down.

Are they doing this? Oh, fuck. Is he doing this? The implication, subtle as it was, must have been received. A curiosity that carried him through the entire night. He can feel every nip and suck in his groin; that terrifies him. He’s scared, he’s flexing his toes against the wood and his fingers at Namjoon’s jacket, he wants to ask Namjoon to stop and he wants Namjoon to try regardless. He wants to run and he wants to be chased. The fear thumps like excitement, loops back into fear to then return to arousal. The eager touch of another man titillates him.

Seokjin can fight off a woman; he can’t fight off a 181cm, 75kg man. Namjoon wouldn’t do that—but he could. Seokjin’s witnessed how aggressive men can be when they desire, he’s seen them miss blatant cues, blinded by the proclivities of their cocks. And they’re alone now—alone and in his silent, humming apartment tens of kilometers away from the others—and Seokjin doesn’t want to be asked permission and he doesn’t want to be asked if this is what he wants, if this is what he wanted when he told Namjoon he could stay with him.

“Nn, ah. Hah.” Seokjin’s lashes flutter, his jaw slack. Namjoon’s creating a path up towards where his throat meets jaw, wet and slow and clicking. He’s smoldering in Seokjin’s sinuses. “Ah—”

How far will Namjoon go? As far as Namjoon dares.

His kisses are wet and plump against Seokjin’s jaw hinge. He trails the plump, wet kisses along his cheek, each clicking as he breaks apart from Seokjin’s skin. He reaches Seokjin’s lips—leaving a firm, wet kiss right at its pouted center—before Seokjin untangles himself from Namjoon and jerks back.

They watch one another. Namjoon’s hands are suspended where Seokjin’s hips once were, his expression imperceptibly shifting into—surprise? Concern?

Seokjin takes another step back. Breath quivering with his voice, he says, “Need to—change,” and then takes more steps back. Back, back, Namjoon watching underneath the dull light of his four-a.m. apartment. “Let’s change.”

Chase me.

He turns and escapes to his bedroom.

Seokjin flicks on his nightstand lamp. He’s trying to keep himself steady as he goes through his routine: he grabs a large, white sleep tee from his dresser, shakily peels off his jeans, leaving himself in briefs and his top.

He’s working on replacing the top when Namjoon slips in, leather jacket gone.

Seokjin looks. “Namjoon-ah.”

Namjoon shuts the door behind him, gaze falling to Seokjin’s bare legs.

He wants to say something else. There’s nothing else that comes to mind. His room is draped in shadows, resolute against the lone yellow hues of his lamp; Namjoon looks imposing like this, just within the umbra, expression fixed, tall and full in his turtleneck. Less like the shy, skittish, playfully flirtatious Namjoon from the past few hours and more like virile tenacity.

Namjoon steps up to Seokjin, and Seokjin’s calves press up to his bed frame. There’s a quick waver, their eyes caught. Seokjin is frozen, fingers at the bottom hem of his top. He opens his mouth before he knows what to say; Namjoon’s hands glide up underneath his top, taking claim of his bare waist as his lips come down to take claim of Seokjin’s.

Namjoon’s hands are warm. His mouth is warmer, heated up from endlessly kissing. His fingers dig into the dips of Seokjin’s ribcage, squeezing skin and the minimal fat, and Seokjin doesn’t mean to gasp as loud as he does. Namjoon takes that sliver of opportunity to roll his tongue into Seokjin’s mouth, forearms shoving Seokjin’s top farther up to his clavicles, and Seokjin offers his mouth up for the taking. Namjoon’s broad laps are sloppy, dripping; there’s drool at Seokjin’s philtrum and the upturn of his top lip.

“Nah,” Seokjin stands still as Namjoon keeps driving his top up and up, “Nah—Namjoon-ah—”

Namjoon breaks apart only to shove Seokjin’s blouse off and over his head, musing his hair. He tosses it carelessly to the floor, quick, before he yanks Seokjin back in by two handfuls of skin at his middle, tilts his head, and laps his way back between Seokjin’s teeth.

It’s loud and wet. Seokjin is breathing hard from his nose and Namjoon’s panting, excited. Spittle clicks as their lips slot, break apart, slot at a new angle. Terror builds with the stir of Seokjin’s cock, trembling obliterated by Namjoon’s firm hold. The terror feeds his chubbing cock and his chubbing cock feeds right back into his terror; it’s a feedback cycle that begins to overwhelm him the longer they kiss, the deeper Namjoon’s tongue flicks.

Emotion boils over. Seokjin jerks his head away and sucks in air, skin broken out in sweat. The sudden break loosens Namjoon’s grip, and it’s with this that Seokjin pries himself free, averting his eyes, hands warbling as he grabs his sleep tee and tugs it on.

“Do,” Seokjin pauses to breathe. “Do you need—pyjamas?”

Namjoon doesn’t respond right away. When Seokjin braves a peek, he finds Namjoon watching him, picking at his expression and body language to figure out how to match him. Belatedly, “Just a shirt. Please.”

Seokjin relocates his abandoned clothes to the hamper while Namjoon changes out of his turtleneck and removes his jeans. His thighs are thicker and sturdier than Seokjin’s, his torso filling the sleep shirt out more than Seokjin’s would’ve. He’d lost weight he didn’t need to lose during a LoL marathon, subsisting on water, sliced fruits, and the occasional ramyeon cup, and the contrast to his body with Namjoon’s is a painful reminder. Broad shoulders aren’t going to help him if he doesn’t maintain his appetite.

Namjoon doesn’t ask for a pillow or for blankets. He doesn’t ask where Seokjin wants him. He doesn’t move to the couch. Namjoon slides into the bed while Seokjin pads into his en suite bathroom, robotically grabbing his toothbrush and getting the bristles wet.

Honestly, he does an awful job at brushing. Knowing there’s a man in his bed doesn’t help, absolutely, but he’s also exhausted. Exhausted, still a bit tipsy, a little bit unsteady on his feet. He sways, his eyes drooping, anticipation and fear and… and zeal like rocks in his lungs. Rinsing his mouth is a blur of practiced movement, as is washing his face of foundation and blotting dry with a microfiber towel.

Seokjin tries to focus on his reflection. The tips of his fringe are wet, his skin unblemished even without makeup. The whites of his eyes are tinged the same color of his cheekbones, the curve of his ears. Red-pink. His sleep shirt sinks at his collarbones, loose around the broadness of his shoulders before hanging loose where his waist curves in, tight. Seokjin unhooks the necklace at his neck and slips off his ring, letting them sit in his plastic jewelry case on the countertop.

Doily top, makeup, thigh-slits or not, Seokjin is gorgeous. He knows he’s gorgeous. He wonders, slightly disoriented, what Namjoon sees. Must be something great—even greater than what Seokjin, who’s accustomed to his own face, sees—considering his inability to keep his hands and mouth to himself. An inconsiderate desire, an audacity only a man could wield.

What was that saying? Better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission? Is this how men have always operated? Is this how Seokjin’s been socialized to operate, in his plight for intimacy from women?

Tonight, he stands on the other side of that passion. He thinks. Namjoon’s a sweet, polite boy… or maybe believing that was and is erroneous of Seokjin. There’s one way to figure that out.

Seokjin flicks off the bathroom light. He listens to his quiet breaths. In, out. In-in. Out.

He slips out of the bathroom and makes his way to his bed.

Sweet, polite Namjoon is wearing the sleep shirt and nestled underneath Seokjin’s covers as if he’s never known any different. He’s been scrolling on his phone until Seokjin approaches, and he silently glances up before clicking the screen off, swiveling to set it on the floor. Like he was waiting.

Seokjin’s lost the coltish streak to him in his nerves and fatigue, but he tries regardless, a raspy, “Comfortable?” as he watches himself lift the baby pink covers and slide in like observing his actions in a first-person shooter.

“Very. Smells like you.”

He squeaks a surprised laugh. “In a good way? Or a sweaty, beer-stench way?”

“Peaches. Linen. Laundry detergent.” When Seokjin doesn’t do anything but stare, Namjoon clarifies in a titter, “It’s very good, hyung.”

More squeaky laughing. “Okay. That’s,” he swallows, burrows down into the memory foam, “good. Thanks.”

They fall quiet.

He realizes then that Namjoon’s never been in his room before. The two or three times Namjoon’s been here, he kept to the common room, kitchen, and second bathroom. There wasn’t anything in here for him—or any of his friends, unless it was Jimin or Yoongi wanting to watch him play PC games. His gaming computer and desk are shoved up against the wall with his window; the console games are out by the common room TV. And, from what Seokjin knows, Namjoon’s not much of a gamer.

There’s not a lot else. Maplestory plushies, a jute hand-braided rug, a bookshelf of textbooks, his vanity. His sheets are pink, bed frame the same color of his rug (tan). Low ceiling, sheer curtains, yellow hues. A bit boring, a bit plain. That’s the consequence of funneling most of his money into his gaming consoles. Juvenile? Yeah.

Not that Namjoon seems to give a shit. He’s more preoccupied with what Seokjin is doing, lying supine, eyes tracking as Seokjin shifts up. Turning off the light, Seokjin wants to say, but the words are trapped in a fissure in his throat. The silence weighs down on his chest, on his tongue, foreboding as if threatening Seokjin not to ruin it. He decides it’s not worth it to speak.

Time for bed.

Seokjin pivots to reach out for his lamp’s switch knob.

He barely scrapes its base with his fingertips before an arm comes to hook around his middle and drags him back.

This time, Seokjin is prepared for his mouth to be claimed, for his body to be maneuvered. He isn’t quite prepared for Namjoon to guide him on top, one arm firm across his ribs while the other grabs at a thigh to help it over Namjoon’s hip. Seokjin breathes a mindless ah!, and Namjoon fits his tongue between his teeth. Then, the kiss devolves into more tongue than lips, filthy and open-mouthed and damp, clicking moisture. The hand at Seokjin’s thigh drags up underneath his brief leg before popping up over it and grabbing a palmful of his ass; Seokjin moans into Namjoon, pelvis jerking down, trembling full-body.

Namjoon is sturdy and firm like lead beneath him. He could just… he could tighten that arm at Seokjin’s waist and trap him here. He could dig his fingers into Seokjin’s jaw until his cheek insides cut open across his molars. He could turn them over and pin him down, take and not ask. Every possibility returns terror to Seokjin’s chest, and that terror translates into arousal as it travels into his cock.

His cock. Seokjin’s—Seokjin is getting hard. Namjoon is sucking and lapping at his tongue, his fingers are digging into as much fat on Seokjin’s ass as he can gather, his hooked arm is present but not punishing, and Seokjin’s cock is filling out from pleasured fear.

Seokjin is trying to keep his mind from slipping while Namjoon slips over to his jaw, nips. Nips lower. Nips lower still when Seokjin pants and bares his throat. Namjoon exhales, “Hyung,” his hot breath setting flame to Seokjin’s skin, straight down to his groin. “Hyung. Shit.”

Don’t ask. Don’t ask, don’t ask, please—

His room swirls into beige, yellow, pink watercolors as Seokjin is turned over and deposited onto his back. Namjoon’s incisors get careless over the bend of cartilage and it stings. Seokjin blinks up at his ceiling, trying to reorient his mind, Namjoon’s hair tickling under his chin as he keeps gnawing at his neck, sucking and leaving the smudge of his wet lips in his wake. Seokjin scrambles blindly until he finds Namjoon’s biceps; he digs in, gasping as his thighs are spread for Namjoon to fit in-between.

“Ah—ah, Nah—joon—” This is happening. Oh, shit, it’s genuinely happening. Laughter bubbles up, a bit delirious, and maybe Namjoon interprets it as a big, fluorescent green light, because he gives a breathy laugh himself.

Fuck, y’sound gorgeous,” Namjoon continues his path between Seokjin’s clavicles, hooking a finger under the neckline to drag it down, baring more skin. “Like a song.”

Shit—

“Gorgeous. Can’t believe it.”

Shit, shit—

“You’re so fucking hot.” Namjoon is rolling Seokjin’s sleep shirt up, up, up. “Hyung…”

It satiates him. A wave of relief and pleasure simmering from his flexing toes to his scalp. Namjoon’s praise touches him like a flame from burning wood—cedar. Smoldering, hot to the boundary of overwhelming, yet Seokjin lingers, and he lets Namjoon’s damp teeth sink into any piece of skin he can reach, greedy.

Seokjin sinks into his memory foam. He’s rendered pliant, nothing but his quivering whimpers, quivering limbs. His muscle leaps with each bite, cool air a second bite after Namjoon’s moved on. “Namjoon-ah,” another incredulous laugh.

Namjoon falters just above his belly-button, peering up. “The things I wanna do…” Don’t ask. Don’t ask, please. “Jin-hyung.” There won’t be an answer. Seokjin doesn’t know what to say. Just—

There’s a moment where Seokjin knows he’s being assessed. He doesn’t look down. He looks up, eyes fixed to a dust speck on his ceiling, his chest rising and falling, gently jostling Namjoon where he’s lying prone at Seokjin’s waist. His shirt is folded up over his pecs, nipples dark and pointed. His throat is clenched. The apartment hums. There’s no way Namjoon doesn’t feel his half-hard cock against his own chest.

Namjoon plants a kiss over his navel. Tentative. Seokjin, abdomen hopping, expels a breath and clenches one fist into his baby pink sheets. A second, sloppier kiss presses in, tongue flicking out this time. It burns directly into Seokjin’s dick. Nn-ah… His moan rises an impossible two octaves, whistling.

Namjoon stops to groan. His biceps tremble in Seokjin’s hand. “What the fuck. You always sound like this?”

A question that can be answered. “Like what?” Seokjin mumbles.

“You sound like a song. Like you’re singing.” Namjoon resumes his kisses. Click, click. The next one dips down to Seokjin’s sparse happy trail. “‘S driving me fucking crazy.”

Seokjin bites his bottom lip to trap the next whimper. Namjoon’s fingers are toying at his waistband, a voiceless request. He unlatches to whisper, broken at the edges, “Told you I can sing.”

Namjoon’s chuckle vibrates into his lower belly. “Never doubted you.”

Namjoon reaches his waistband. His fingers continue to tease, slipping under, slipping out, slipping a bit farther the next time, skirting close to Seokjin’s pubic hair. Now Namjoon can see rather than feel Seokjin’s swelling cock, the plump shape of it where it sits in the stretch of his briefs. “Jin-hyung.”

Seokjin blinks, blinks, keeps blinking. He’s lost sight of the dust speck he was watching. His fists tighten, knuckles starting to ache. “Mm—?”

“I wanna,” kiss, “taste you,” kiss, “wanna suck you off so bad, pretty thing.” Namjoon scrapes with teeth, sucks the skin just above Seokjin’s waistband between his lips and nips at it.

“Ah, ahh.” Seokjin’s legs snap out where they flank Namjoon’s upper body.

“I’ll do a good job... wanna make you come in my throat. Thought about it all fucking night.”

Not such a sweet, polite boy after all. That shouldn’t be a surprise—especially not right now—but Seokjin stubbornly lingers on the confession that Namjoon wanted to… he wanted to suck his cock every time he touched him, gripped him. Did he think about sucking his cock when Seokjin told him about Seokjung’s wedding? When they talked about music genres? Was he thinking about Seokjin coming down his throat when they shared their fries?

Seokjin was candidly telling Namjoon about his romantic life and Namjoon, in that same breath, was thinking about how he wanted to fuck him. Taste him. And Seokjin was none the wiser. What the fuck.

Thrilling.

His thoughts are caught with Namjoon’s sudden grab, his hands yanking Seokjin’s briefs down and peeling it out from under his ass. “Namjoon—”

Then Namjoon can see his cock. His real, swollen cock, fat where it lies curved along his pelvis. His trimmed pubic hair, his tightened balls, everything. Seokjin’s visceral reaction is to want to cover himself—his erect cock is out in front of another man—but he reorients his mind to time and place and grabs weakly at Namjoon’s fingers instead. Not to pry them away but to cling onto something. Someone.

His ears are on fire. Namjoon is just staring. He managed to peel Seokjin’s briefs to mid-thigh, pausing to lie there and stare. Seokjin squirms. He isn’t sure what to say. His skin is itching, his ears burn, his mouth gapes on his shocked Namjoon. It’s seconds that feel like minutes before Namjoon breathes, finally, “Hyung, shit. Cock’s as gorgeous as you.”

Ah. Okay? Seokjin doesn’t think he’s ever heard someone call a dick ‘gorgeous’ before. Pussy? Sure. Cock? Does anyone genuinely believe a cock can be gorgeous? Do straight women tell each other about their boyfriends’ ‘gorgeous’ cocks? It brings a shocked, mortified (pleased) laugh to him. “What?”

“Thick, long. Shit.” Namjoon sounds affected, voice shaky, so Seokjin’s inclined to believe him. Still, he’s confused. Confused and oddly flattered.

Namjoon slips his briefs the rest of the way off. Tosses it over the bed like he’d done to Seokjin’s top—careless.

Seokjin barely has time to settle again; Namjoon hooks his arms under Seokjin’s thighs and hauls him closer—Seokjin erupting in a squeak, scrambling for purchase—settling them over Namjoon’s shoulders. Like this, his face is positioned perfectly in Seokjin’s groin, his hot breaths ghosting over the girth of him.

It’s an unusual position. Seokjin has never had his legs hooked over someone for a blowjob before. He watches, dazed, as Namjoon rolls his tongue around in his mouth, puckers his lips out, and pours a glob of spit at Seokjin’s frenulum. The sudden warmth has Seokjin’s thighs hop; Namjoon tightens his grip, holds him down.

Then Namjoon cranes his neck, sucks the head of his cock right into the circle of his mouth.

Haaa—ahh. Shit. Was that him? It’s just a mouth. He’s had those before. It’s a mouth and tongue and wet, wet suction, Namjoon’s full lips sinking to the crown of his cockhead, tongue stroking at that sweet little spot right at the flare. Another haah—! comes loose, Seokjin’s jaw going slack. His legs and belly clench, untamed. His hands shoot down to create pigtails in Namjoon’s hair. He untightens to scritch his nails along Namjoon’s scalp.

“Nam, Nam—ah.” Seokjin’s going to crush Namjoon’s skull with his thighs. He’s going to embarrass himself and come too quickly. He lifts his head to blink down, and it’s Namjoon’s closed lids he finds, his wet, tight mouth rocking down, up, down farther, farther, working Seokjin like he’s savoring this.

And now that Namjoon’s made him aware of it, he can’t stop noticing: his lilting moans. Musical, high, cracking in emotion. His thighs flex at another tongue-stroke, and this time Namjoon pries his legs from where they’re holding his skull with brute strength. Seokjin’s next moan cracks and shatters altogether.

The fact that—that Namjoon can just do that. Whenever he wants. Pin him to the mattress like butterfly wings. Moaning around Seokjin’s shaft as if it turns him on just as much, to have Seokjin’s trembling body at his mercy.

It must. Namjoon’s making little rocking fucks against Seokjin’s mattress, thoughtless, Seokjin’s dick lighting up erogenous zones at the damp, fleshy insides of his cheeks, behind his lips. With no other noise save for Seokjin’s whines, there’s nothing to mask the shlick of Namjoon sinking as far as he can get, throat fluttering as Seokjin’s cockhead teases, breaches through before Namjoon has to draw back and suck in.

Held to his own bed, beads of perspiration between his furrowed brows and Namjoon between his legs: time to accept that this is happening. They’re here. Namjoon chased and he tried. It’s only appropriate, then, for this to be Seokjin’s surrender.

Seokjin tames his limbs loose. He surrenders.

Remnants of beer and liquor gives pleasure a hazy sort of feel, his head undulating as if swinging in a hammock. It’s surreal, too, to begin the night teasing Jungkook and end the night here, alone with Namjoon. Namjoon is small and tight and a drooling mess on his dick. He chokes on the downstroke—hips fucking a bit harder into the memory foam each time—and massages Seokjin’s dick around his insides with a hot, eager tongue. And he’s making these choppy moans, genuinely, unabashedly savoring. What the fuck.

“Namjoon, Namjoon,” Seokjin’s gasping, having lost control of his mouth. “Oh, fuh-fuck, fuck—yeah-ah—” He writhes, bucks up into that throat that clenches around him so fucking good, squirms until Namjoon’s fingers tighten into his thighs, displacing fat and muscle, branding him.

Every stroke builds up in Seokjin’s belly. He tries to watch Namjoon’s head bob between his legs for nothing other than to confirm this is not a figment of his imagination, but it’s near impossible; Namjoon flicks his tongue at his frenulum, returns his cock back into his throat, swallowing wetly, and Seokjin promptly loses his pupils inside of his skull. He has to be clawing Namjoon’s hair out by the roots. Namjoon doesn’t seem to even notice.

Pressure builds. Seokjin feels time slipping by in drips. Namjoon isn’t heavy or quick with his pumps but he’s efficient. Expert, even. That’s a bit maddening to imagine, Namjoon having done this tens or maybe hundreds of times before. Each and every experience leading him up to this night, now, mouthing Seokjin to near-incoherency without having to use a single hand to do it.

Namjoon pops up and sucks in, phlegm rattling, and those stoking belly flames are tempered.

Seokjin pants with Namjoon, a discord of noise. He rediscovers his eyes; they blink until his ceiling comes into view. No moist heat to obscure it, his room’s air feels chilly at his groin.

Wow. Shit. He thinks he’s said that aloud, but Namjoon doesn’t respond—not directly. His response is a languid kiss to Seokjin’s length, the fat of him, and a hoarse, “Fuh-fuck. Could come just from listening to your moans.”

It’s an inflection Seokjin never thought he’d hear from Namjoon’s chest. Desperate. Overwhelmed. A Kim Namjoon in a scenario not made for his viewing. Speechless, Seokjin shudders through more incredulous laughter, lets it shudder through to his toes.

Namjoon plants another kiss. Another, lower. Lower again. He drags his messy mouth down Seokjin’s messy dick, then laps at the drool and phlegm that collected at his balls. Seokjin jerks up, groans, “Ah,” and turns his head into his pillow.

“Gorgeous,” Namjoon huffs. “Jin-hyung. Jin-hyung...” The bed whines against Namjoon’s humps, working his own clothed dick into its give. He sucks one, tight ballsack between his lips and groans around it, eliciting muffled whines above, where Seokjin shoves pillow and cotton into his mouth.

Seokjin’s dick is leaded against his pelvis, smearing drool. It kicks as Namjoon takes his time there, nestled underneath, slurping crudely at each package, spittle crackling. Mmh, Namjoon whimpers. Mm—mmh. He hasn’t stopped fucking his hips down; Seokjin can’t see it anymore, but he can feel the bed frame as it rocks, the creaks light, rhythmic. Namjoon’s getting off on this.

Another realization that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Namjoon takes his time here, too. Sucking at the looser skin, kneading the flat of his tongue between each sac, drowsy and with intent to unravel. Seokjin’s sweet, broken noises bubble up; they arrive like a third person, someone inside of him. A second thought, incorrigible.

He wants to speak but there’s nothing to say. There’s nothing his ever-reliable banter can do to dispel the mood or distract from how anxious-fear weighs like rocks in his gut. Some comment about Namjoon’s proficiency is an acknowledgement that Namjoon is sucking his cock; pleads to speed up, to be gentle, to give him time before he comes all over his belly, only accomplishes the same result: acknowledgement.

So? So, fuck, Seokjin’s trapped to muffled whimpers, to his writhing and that anxious-fear pulsing hot in his dick. Namjoon’s mouth continues to glide lower and lower, grip prying Seokjin open and up. And up. And farther up as Namjoon travels down. “Wha,” Seokjin trembles. At first he isn’t sure if it’s Namjoon just getting a bit… sloppy. Lapping up the drool that collected at his perineum to drive it back up to his waiting cock. “—Nah?”

Then Namjoon does it again. A broad, flat stroke of tongue at the spongy spot between Seokjin’s hole and the looser skin of his balls. Then again, a clear intent. Namjoon’s hips have slowed but his groans are louder, panting, Namjoon’s jaw slackening to give broader laps.

The first lick to Seokjin’s hole is a shock. He jerks a hand down to grab at Namjoon’s fingers, where they’ve pressed into the backside of Seokjin’s thighs to hold them closer towards his chest. The second lick has him flinch, gasp. “You’re, okay, oh—”

This is undeniable now. Namjoon is—Seokjin has never—exhausted and tipsy, he’s struggling to process this. “C’mon,” Namjoon’s breath in such an intimate place keeps him quivering, his foot kicking out. “Be good for me. Relax.”

His tongue point prods at the clench of Seokjin’s hole. He teases, teases, until there’s a pause, and—and Namjoon messily spits a glob of spit, smoothing the way for his next try in.

Seokjin’s voice is detached from his corporeal form. “You don’t have to,” he edges into laughter, “this isn’t—my—?”

“No one rimmed you before?” Namjoon exhales. He gently eases one leg down and out, crooked at the knee. “‘M the first?”

He doesn’t let Seokjin gain the brain power to respond to that before he dives back in for a taste. He probably already knew the answer, anyway.

Seokjin himself has never rimmed someone before. No rimming, no anal, save for maybe a quick thumb swipe as he fucked his girlfriends from behind; he just hasn’t had any interest in it. Prude? He’s fine with that. Who’s there to impress? His partners had no issue with the sex they’ve had. And he’s too old—and private in temperament—to worry about what his friends or cohorts thought. Sex is an intimate affair, not something to devolve for backpats.

Namjoon is huffing, “I got you,” between tongue-kisses to the tight furl of him, and Seokjin, piecemeal, allows that spontaneous edge slip over him like a shield. Tries to chase the pleasure from his asshole being played with, his neglected cock beading at its tip.

At first it’s just… strange. Uncomfortable, almost. Namjoon’s chin glistens with his saliva on every dip up, then when he’s back to prodding and slurping, Seokjin tries not to ruminate on the thought that that’s his asshole Namjoon is drooling over. Groaning into. Humping the bed for.

Seokjin’s whimpers have dissipated into occasional, heavy breaths out. He lifts his shoulders up to reattach his fingers to Namjoon’s hair. Blearily, he tries to watch Namjoon close his eyes and enjoy working Seokjin’s hole loose, sloppy.

Then Seokjin feels a finger. A finger eased beside Namjoon’s tongue, rubbing, circling, rubbing once more before—“Ah, fuck, Namjoon-ah, wai—wait—?” It’s a bit too late for that, though, because Seokjin’s groin is drenched enough for Namjoon’s index finger to slide in to the first knuckle—and this is certainly different than a tongue.

Namjoon twists his wrist palm up and keeps fucking his finger in at the same time he sucks Seokjin’s right ballsack back into his mouth. His thumb massages at that spongy spot in-between. And everything combined is… the damp, uncomfortable feeling gradually trades out for indirect arousal, the same way teeth to Seokjin’s throat throbs at him between his legs. He humps up, cock rutting into nothing, detached voice once again bubbling up to whine.

“There you go,” Namjoon pops off, peeks up to watch Seokjin. Seokjin quickly looks off towards his en suite bathroom, mortified. “You’re so hot. Shit. No one played with your ass before, hyung? Feeling it?”

Seokjin battles a brief war through how to respond. He doesn’t manage a single productive thought before Namjoon tries yet another finger, and this one eases in right next to his first, nudging up, up, his thumb nudging down. “Fu-ah, ah, Namjoon-ah, please, pleaseplease,” he scrambles for Namjoon’s hair, pleasure burning him inside and leaking out. His dick is leaking, precome massaged out and beneath his navel from Namjoon’s deft fingers.

Namjoon is staring. Just staring. Seokjin drops his shoulders and head back into his mattress and widens his eyes up at his ceiling as if to persuade the dust specks to help. “Sexiest fucking…” Namjoon trails off and doesn’t return. He finished with his strokes instead, drool squelching as he works his fingers in, not letting up, not giving Seokjin time to rationalize the smoke pit in his belly.

He gives Seokjin his fingers for a while. A long while, Seokjin thinks gravely. Namjoon lies there and watches Seokjin buck away from and into his fingertips, body trying to decide whether it’s too much or not enough. At times, Namjoon can’t resist nipping into Seokjin’s closest thigh, sucking teeth and fat between his lips and not relaxing until there’s a bloom of red in his wake. Again, again, Namjoon discovers a new spot, palm heel rubbing against Seokjin’s balls as he fucks his hole open.

“Good job,” Namjoon can’t stop fucking talking, it’s driving Seokjin mad, it’s butane to Seokjin’s arousal, “You’re feelin’ it, good, let’s go…”

Go where? Seokjin immediately curses himself for asking; Namjoon shuts up, yes, but he shuts up with a mouthful of Seokjin’s dick—then a throatful of his dick when he sinks fast, nudging his cockhead into that tight little spot that has Seokjin bucking and shattering in a sob, helpless. Namjoon chokes around him, his throat flutters, fingers nudging ruthlessly, and Seokjin sees it, now, reminded that this is all for the purpose of getting him off. Making him come. Namjoon wants Seokjin to come into his—

Seokjin’s spine curves off of the mattress. His thighs snap back in, flanking Namjoon’s skull. Maybe liquor and his racing mind distracted him, maybe Seokjin navigates pleasure as if in a dream: his orgasm is sudden, one wave that feeds into another. His belly jerks, trembles; he has the forethought to fist his baby pink sheets instead of Namjoon’s hair. Namjoo-Namjoon-ah, please—

Namjoon swallows each pulse of come. He keeps Seokjin in his mouth after his ripples of climax settles and suckles him clean. He tongues into Seokjin’s slit, groaning through a relieved moan, like Seokjin’s pleasure has fed into his. He pops off his cock, lets Seokjin recuperate, heaving for breath. Lazily laps up any dribbles of precome and drool at his navel.

Sweet, polite boy.

“Fuck,” Namjoon laughs airily. Cheek resting at Seokjin’s hip crease, he mumbles, “Barely got a hand on my cock and came. Made a mess in my fucking underwear. Hah.”

That’s not a confession Seokjin can process at the moment. He’s still floating in his head-high, disoriented but well aware that he just came in Namjoon’s throat. And Namjoon’s tongue has been in his mouth and up his ass. And that his come is currently in Namjoon’s belly, digesting. And, above it all, Seokjin’s body weighs like feathers. Incredible.

What time is it?

Seokjin hasn’t opened his eyes since he orgasmed. The comedown returns his fatigue, that gentle undulation of his brain-hammock. “Shit,” he laugh-breathes. “Shit.” He’s rendered speechless.

The bed creaks and lightens up with movement. Namjoon. “Made a mess of myself,” he laughs too. “Gonna—wash up.”

Seokjin says okay. At least, he thinks he does. He drifts off before he can even hear the bathroom door hinges whine open.

 

 

 

Seokjin barely manages three hours of sleep. It’s rocky, on and off, a half-dream state. Then he’s jerking awake under his sheets—when the fuck did he get there?—lying on his front but with residual stickiness between his legs and a grown man snoring to his left. His curtains carry an eight a.m. sun in stripes across his bed. His temples throb, his mouth is terrifyingly dry, and his mind, as if picking up where it left off, injects shock-fear-confusion right back into his spine.

There’s no reprieve: all at once, Seokjin remembers. He’s not given the chance to forget.

No mercy for the stupid.

Namjoon’s chest rattles in another snore. Seokjin twists his head to peek.

Namjoon.

Kim Namjoon.

In his bed.

Snoring.

Kim Namjoon lying on his back, his own head twisted in the opposite direction, towards Seokjin’s gaming computer. His head of hair is mused and the sheets—Seokjin’s sheets—are settled at his sturdy waist. And Namjoon’s snoring. Because he’s sleeping. In Seokjin’s bed.

Seokjin stares. Should he wake him? No. No, no. Seokjin needs time. He’s drowsy and hungover and he’s still wet between the thighs and he can’t believe—

A strike of pain shoots down his left temple. Seokjin winces, shoots up to sitting at the edge of his mattress. Oh, shit. Shit, shit, what the fuck, Kim Seokjin, what the fuck—

He has no idea what the fuck to do. He has no idea what he’s done. What this means for—for his friendship with Namjoon (taking things to the next step? Is that what that meant? Who is drunk Kim Seokjin? Sober Kim Seokjin used to know!), his relationship with Jimin et al., his relationship with himself.

Seokjin has no idea what to do. What he doesn’t want to do: wake up Namjoon. Think. Be awake.

Adrenaline won’t let him go back to sleep in hopes that Namjoon leaves before he’s up again. Seokjin won’t be waking Namjoon up to ask him to leave, either. That’s rude and unnecessary. Regardless of what happened, Namjoon is a friend. So Seokjin does what he does best.

He pushes up to his feet, warbles across his bedroom to the bathroom, and… he performs his morning routine.

Seokjin opens his medicine cabinet and pops a few painkillers, swallows them down dry. He does another awful job at brushing his teeth. (He doesn’t look at his reflection.) He tiptoes back out—letting Namjoon’s snores mask his steps—to yank another sleep shirt, sweats, and clean briefs from his vanity drawer. He tiptoes back into the bathroom, folds his clothes up against the sink, and starts the shower faucet. He undresses, sets his dirty sleep shirt at the countertop, too, then warbles across the tiles to get under the water stream.

Oh, that’s good. Very, very, good. Seokjin sighs, tips his head to the ceiling, and lets the moist heat pinch his skin red.

If there’s one thing Seokjin has gotten good at, it’s compartmentalizing. A gift from maturing? A gift from trauma? It doesn’t matter, because it’s working in his favor right now: he tucks the visceral panic-shock-fear behind his guts and lets the painkillers numb him with his headache.

Peach body wash, yes, smells nice. Light tones, a touch of lavender to ease his nerves. Seokjin does what is probably the most efficient, most thorough scrub of his entire adult life. He begins with his hair, trails down to behind his ears, his face and neck, the tricky patches of his back that he can reach thanks to his flexibility, then below.

The webs of his toes have never been cleaner, he thinks. The soles of his feet, too. Seokjin scrubs so well he emerges from under the shower head a new man. That has to have been forty minutes of meticulous work at the least. Seokjin tugs that forty minutes to a near-hour by patting his skin dry in slow, careful circles. He dabs his serum on his face by muscle memory, rubs his lotion into his skin, and then tugs on his shirt, briefs, and sweatpants. Peach. Linen. Laundry detergent. Smelling great, Kim Seokjin. Thank you, Kim Seokjin.

He manages to not think a single thought for a full hour.

He has to start thinking thoughts again when he returns to an empty bedroom.

Shit. Shit, shit. Seokjin freezes and observes the scene: the bed has been spread. Poorly. (—and Seokjin is going to need to toss it all in the washing machine since the drool ruined them—) But it’s neat. Namjoon’s abandoned turtleneck and jeans are gone. The briefs Namjoon yanked off of him just hours ago are nowhere to be seen. It’s like Seokjin went home alone.

Seokjin can feel his heart thumping in his gut.

Namjoon… Namjoon wouldn’t leave like that. Without saying a single word. Would he? No, he wouldn’t. Namjoon isn’t rude. Namjoon is polite and respectful, he never drops his honorifics (unlike Jeon Jungkook) and he’s quick to apologize for any perceived overstepping (unlike Jeon Jungkook). Seokjin doesn’t know the Namjoon that does hook-ups, sure—maybe that version of Namjoon leaves without saying goodbye to his hyungs—but. No. No, he wouldn’t! Not after…

Seokjin tosses his dirty sleepshirt in the hamper and pads out of his bedroom.

He doesn’t have to go far to find non-asleep, non-snoring Kim Namjoon.

(Because Namjoon wouldn’t leave him. Seokjin knew he wouldn’t.)

“Hyung,” Namjoon says, quiet and polite and Namjoon. He immediately tucks his phone into his back pocket. “Good morning.”

He’s lingering near the foyer. Turtleneck, jeans, sneakers not yet on. The apartment is silent, and it feels ominous almost. Seokjin’s initial relief is slowly being overtaken with nerves.

They watch one another from across the common room.

“Good morning,” Seokjin says. His fringe sticks to his forehead with shower water. He flicks it out of his eyelashes. “You…” were waiting for me?, “...do snore.”

A pause. Namjoon blurts a laugh, shy and incredulous. “Oh. I’m sorry. I—I was really tired. I snore when I’m—exhausted. That’s embarrassing. Hah.”

“It’s fine. Snoring is common. Natural. My father snores.”

Namjoon snorts. His eyes are gentle as he studies Seokjin. “Does he.”

“A lot. We can’t share a room when we go on vacation. I don’t know how my mother’s managed all these years. Awful.”

Another snort. “Ah.”

They quiet down. They watch one another from across the common room.

Seokjin asks, careful, “Heading out?”

“I,” Namjoon rubs his palms at his thighs, “should. I need to shower, and we didn’t get much sleep, so…”

“That’s true.”

Seokjin blinks off towards the foyer behind Namjoon.

“Jin-hyung.”

Seokjin blinks to attention again. Namjoon is still watching him, gentle eyes and gentle tone. “Walk me out?”

“Of course.” Seokjin’s scoff is weak and vulnerable instead of its usual theatrics. “C’mon.”

Walking him out’ isn’t so much as actually walking him out as it is simply approaching the foyer while Namjoon shoves his sock-clad feet into his sneakers. Seokjin has his arms crossed as he watches, lingering and swallowing over and over because there’s too much saliva in his mouth and his throat is too tight.

Namjoon straightens up once his shoes and their laces are neat(-ish). He offers Seokjin a nervous smile, an aching reminder of the smiles he used to give him when they first met. “Alright. Thank you for. Y’know. Letting me spend the night.”

“What kind of friend-slash-hyung would I be if I made you take an hour trip to Ilsan at three in the morning?” Seokjin mumbles. He alternates between meeting Namjoon’s gaze and staring at the tight pull of Namjoon’s turtleneck over his arms. (Stupid arms. Sturdy and heavy like lead, impossible to fight off when they hold him open so that Namjoon can dip down and su—)

Namjoon’s fingers skirt across his jaw, jerking Seokjin to attention. “Hey.”

Seokjin gives him his attention, wide-eyed and loose at the mouth and toes flexing in remnants of thrill-trembles.

Because he’s not naïve. He knows what this is: the placid touch along his jaw, the glitter in Namjoon’s pupils that feel equal-parts ominous and exciting. The question Namjoon is asking with his face and not his voice. Seokjin’s been on the other side. Mirror or no mirror, his image is being reflected back to him.

Seokjin murmurs, “Hey.” He held an erroneous belief, to assume that a single night would cure that newness-chasing away forever.

Seokjin tilts his chin up, allowing Namjoon the angle to lean forward and capture his lips.

Namjoon leans forward and captures his lips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With one-minded pursuit, Kim Seokjin: stabs Jimin’s door code in, kicks his sandals off in the foyer, rushes into the common room, and—as soon as he catches sight of yellow-blonde poking up over the back of the couch—blurts, “We had sex.”

Jimin instantly jerks up from where he’s curved up against Yoongi’s side. “What?”