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i've been drinking, i've been drinking

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Jungkook’s refilling the ice bucket, running back and forth, back and forth, trying his hardest to step around the bar patrons. Behind him, Seokjin flits around, running to and from the kitchen like a beheaded chicken, carrying trays on his broad shoulders. Jungkook tries to help Seokjin when he can, when Yoongi’s good on the ice, but the bar gets so busy he doesn’t get a break. By the time he brings the bar glasses back to the kitchen, there’s a few dozen more waiting for him on Yoongi’s counter.

Jungkook has no clue how Seokjin and Yoongi were able to hold down the fort before they hired him and Jisung. Granted, the bar’s only about the size of his studio apartment so just two people manning the front was probably fine at first. But then Yoongi’s regulars started coming, following him from Yoongi’s old bar, and once the regulars settled back in, people poked their heads in out of curiosity. Now the bar gets so packed they have to hire a bouncer on occasion—Jungkook had originally applied for that position but Seokjin had shaken his head, muttering, “maybe if you put on just a bit more muscle” (Jungkook was quite offended). Still, they were probably desperately in need of someone so they hired him on the spot. Yoongi had nearly sobbed in relief. On Jungkook's first day, Yoongi kept crying out “thank fucking god you're here" even when Jungkook did the absolute bare minimum. That was three months ago.

“Jungkook!”

Jungkook spots Yoongi waving at him from across the bar, a floating arm behind all of the bodies in line for a drink.

“Jungkook!” he yells again, his throaty baritone traveling across the room.

Jungkook speeds over with the plastic bin in hand, ready to grab some more bar glasses and empty bottles of soju but Yoongi says “screwdriver,” and Jungkook has to do a double-take.

“Uh,” he starts, “I remember seeing a wrench or something in the back? And a hammer. But—”

“Jungkook, no—JACK AND COKE—” he places it in front of a haggard-looking business man. “Screwdriver,” he says again, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, “one part vodka, two parts orange juice.”

“…you mean you want me to make one.”

“Jungkook, YES.”

“But I—”

“Jungkook, shut up and grab the damn vodka—MOSCOW MULE.”

 

Jungkook wipes his hands on his pants before hurrying over to Yoongi’s side, grabbing a bottle of vodka from below the counter. One part vodka, two parts orange juice. Orange juice. Fridge. A cup, he needs a cup. Cup… where are the goddamn cups?

After Jungkook makes a full circle, Yoongi appears with a cup in his hands as though he sensed Jungkook’s silent panic, and Jungkook mumbles a thanks as he untwists the top of the Smirnoff bottle—”Jungkook, ice”—right. Drinks need ice first. Of course.

Jungkook shovels some ice into the mouth of the cup, pours in some vodka, and then tops the entire thing off with orange juice and, shit, it ends up being more like a one-to-one ratio but whatever. Here's hoping they're so drunk they won't notice.

“Screwdriver,” he says, and when he looks up, there’s a young woman signaling to him, waving money with one of her manicured hands. Jungkook grabs the cash, counts it briefly before he hands the drink off, and Yoongi squeezes his shoulder as if to say “good job” or “thanks”. In actuality, he says, “cranberry vodka, one to two.”

 

By the time Jungkook gets to catch his breath, Seokjin is upending chairs onto the cocktail tables, letting them screech and clang as he drags them across the floor. The last few stragglers nudge each other, taking it as a cue for them to leave, and Seokjin chirps a “thank you” as the door closes behind them.

Yoongi hands Jungkook a glass of water and then pours one for himself. “So first, you’re going to get your alcohol license. Because what we did just now was technically illegal.”

“Hyung.”

“And then,” Yoongi says with a quirk of his lips, “I’m gonna teach you the fun stuff.”

Seokjin overhears and sighs dramatically, “oh god, here we go again.”

 

For as lazy as Yoongi claims he is, he works fast. Jungkook stumbles trying to keep up with him and god knows how many times Jisung has had to sweep up glass from Jungkook’s clumsy doing. Jisung shrugs it off when Jungkook stutters a sorry, says it’s fine, but Jungkook notices he’s been leaving his broom right by the bar, as a safety precaution or something. Yoongi is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, a seasoned pro who doesn’t drop a single glass. He even flings them in the air sometimes, throwing them behind his back and catching them the way he would catch his basketball. Jungkook doesn’t have time for bar tricks. Not when Ms. Vogue is tapping her long red nails on the counter, waiting on her vodka soda while Jungkook is still struggling with another person’s Bloody Mary. In the end, Yoongi has to take over for him while Jungkook hurriedly spritzes the soda into a glass. When he finally places it on the counter before her, dipping his head in apology, her lip curls as she hands over her credit card.

Minutes later, the crowd finally dies down. Jungkook sighs with his entire body and looks over to Yoongi who’s wiping down the bar counter with a wet rag.

“How do you do it?” he groans, flopping his arms across the table like they’re dead weights.

“Hmm?”

“There’s so many people hyung, how do you even catch up? That lady was seriously gonna climb the bar and pour her drink herself if I took any longer.”

Yoongi snorts like that's the least of Jungkook's worries, and then he shrugs a bony shoulder. “I kinda guess.”

“You… guess,” Jungkook deadpans.

Yoongi stares at him then, straight on.

“Yeah,” he says, firmer this time. “I guess.”

Jungkook's face goes blank, the way it does during Yoongi’s dirty jokes, like he’s waiting for the punchline even though the joke’s already been told.

“Jungkook, what kind of drink do you think I’d get? If I were to go to a bar?”

“To be honest, if it has alcohol, you’d probably drink it.”

Yoongi gives him a withering look.

“But what would I order?”

Jungkook thinks to himself for a minute, weighs all of the options in his head. And then he says, testing, “…soju?”

When Yoongi’s mouth twists, Jungkook corrects himself.

“Whiskey. Probably something with whiskey.”

“Better,” Yoongi nods in approval. “And what about Seokjin?”

Jungkook glances over to Seokjin who’s smiling wide at a couple cozied up at the table in the corner, takes in his whole appearance from the way his eyes blink wide, listening rapturously to the customers’ stories, to the way he cocks his hip as he rattles off the menu items. Jungkook hasn’t seen Seokjin drink but he’d probably order something light and refreshing. Something that goes well with food.

“I don’t know. Like a- like a beer probably,” he waves his hand around as though it helps him explain, “or like a Moscow Mule or something.”

“Bingo,” Yoongi responds with a hint of a smile, “he likes beer a lot. Likes things made with ginger beer too.”

“Okay, but I’m serving strangers most of the time,” Jungkook says, matter-of-fact.

“That doesn’t matter. People are predictable. What they order says as much about them as what clothes they wear so if you can guess what kind of person they are, you can usually tell what their drink of choice is. I’m not saying you’re going to get it right every single time, but it’s a pretty good rule of thumb.”

“So you’re telling me to stereotype people. Basically.”

Yoongi opens his mouth. Closes it.

“Yes.”

The door chimes open then, and Seokjin bows to a middle-aged woman who’s toting an Hermès bag in the crook of one arm. She drags her cat eye glasses up to push her dyed locks out of the way and acknowledges Seokjin with a tilt of her head.

Yoongi catches Jungkook’s eyes and juts his chin towards her. Guess, he mouths at him, and he turns away to stack some empty bottles in his arms, heading towards the kitchen.

Jungkook reads her, eyes traveling up and down her body, from the French-tipped fingers to the kitten heels that click as she struts over. She gives him a half-smile and Jungkook searches her face, young but for the crow’s feet framing her eyes. Wine—Cosmopolitan—martini? But not a flavored one.

“Hello, what can I get for you?”

“Dirty martini,” she says with a girlish voice.

Jungkook nods at her and reaches for a martini glass, and it’s only when he turns around that he smiles to himself, pleased. Yoongi comes back then, quirking an eyebrow at Jungkook who’s pouring brine juice into a glass.

“Dirty martini,” he says, dropping in an olive garnish.

She thanks him, sandwiches her card in between two fingers for him to take. When Jungkook runs her card through the machine, Yoongi takes in Jungkook’s puffed chest and self-satisfied grin and chuckles to himself.

“How was it?” Yoongi asks smugly, already knowing the answer to his question.

Jungkook beams at him. “Easier than I thought.”

“See? It’s like Psych 101.”

“Maybe I can get class credit for this then.”

 

 

“Old-Fashioned,” Jungkook says as he twists an orange peel and places it in the whiskey glass before him. A middle-aged man takes it from him, rolls up his sleeves as he takes a tentative sip. His droopy eyes sparkle in delight and he gives a nod of approval.

“No cherries. Smart boy.”

Jungkook likes him. Jungkook only gets a few interesting drinks now and then, usually from someone who knows their alcohol, judging from the way they sniff at their whiskey, ask for it neat. And then there are others, like the barely-legal guys who think drinks are made incorrectly because they "can't taste the alcohol". Beside Mr. Old-Fashioned, a guy complains, says there’s not enough vermouth in his martini.

You asked it for dry.

Jungkook grins tightly and apologizes through clenched teeth. He pours in a bit more vermouth and turns it into a wet martini. With the other hand, he makes some vodka sodas for a pair of girls that just walked through the door. He has the drinks ready before they even order.

“Getting easier?” Yoongi asks as Jungkook thumbs through his phone, waiting on the next customer.

“A little too easy,” he admits. “Kind of wish you didn’t tell me about the whole alcohol psychoanalysis thing.”

Yoongi huffs.

“I’m sorry for giving you the knowledge you needed to do your job better.”

“Hyung, you know what I mean. I’m just tired of making the same old drinks. Do you know how many cranberry vodkas I had to make today?”

“More than usual?”

“Like twenty three, hyung. Twenty three. I should start investing in Ocean Spray.”

“Hm.”

“And the ones that don’t get those get vodka sodas or a Jack and Coke or something. I just want something different for once.”

“So convince them to try something else then,” he says dismissively.

“Okay, let me just tell Mr. CEO that he should have a Shirley Temple instead of his go-to Whiskey Sour. That’ll definitely get me tips,” Jungkook sneers, earning himself a smack on the back of his head.

“Don’t be stupid. You’d get him a Manhattan or a Rusty Nail at least. And Jungkook, bartenders don’t just make whatever drink people want; they introduce them to new stuff too. That’s how you get regulars,” he says with a smug grin.

Jungkook grimaces. He doesn’t care for regulars, doesn’t want to push himself to make unnecessary small talk when he doesn’t need to. They tell him their order, he makes it, they pay. Exchange over. When the bar is emptier he’ll do his best to grunt a “how are you,” but nothing above that. Conversations aren’t his strong suit.

 

Yoongi returns to his conversation with one of his regulars, Mr. Sidecar, from what Jungkook remembers, and a girl approaches the bar then, combing her long hair with one hand, wearing daddy’s money.

“What would you like?”

She stares past him, eyes vacantly sweeping over the liquor bottles. ”Can you just make me something yummy?” she says, eyelashes fluttering.

Jungkook nods and makes a conscious effort to keep his eyes from rolling back into his head. He hates the “something yummy”. Hates it just as much as “surprise me," which always comes when there's ten other customers waiting on him and the person's just too lazy to think of something at the top of their head. Still, Jungkook clenches his jaw and reaches for the pineapple juice, splashing in some cranberry for good measure. When Jungkook grabs at the vodka, Yoongi raises his eyebrows as if to say, “this is not what I meant when I said ‘introduce them to new stuff." He knows vodka is what Jungkook goes for when he’s being lazy. Vodka’s his easy way out. Everything mixes well with vodka.

When the girl’s out of sight and happily sipping on her drink somewhere, Yoongi turns on him with his arms crossed, completely unimpressed with Jungkook's actions.

“Jungkook,” he says with a purse of his lips.

“What? She asked for something yummy so I gave her ‘something yummy.’”

“What was that even supposed to be?”

“I don’t know. Like a fancy fruit punch with vodka.”

“Jungkook.”

Jungkook doesn't look at him. He understands why Jisung refuses to be called by his name now; probably Yoongi’s doing with the way he utters “Jisung” with varying degrees of exasperation.

“Hyung, if someone can’t tell the difference between boxed wine and a 30-year aged Bordeaux, why would you buy them the more expensive bottle?”

Yoongi opens his mouth to respond but gets distracted by the front door.

 “Holy shit—” Yoongi drops the cocktail shaker in his hands with a clatter and Jungkook’s head shoots up to see Yoongi racing out from behind the bar, weaving around a few patrons to greet someone at the door. The man laughs and throws his head back in delight as Yoongi hugs him, practically squeezes him to his chest. Jungkook had no clue Yoongi was even capable of more physical interaction than just a pat on the shoulder or a bro hug. He's so distracted that he doesn't even notice the customer in front of him. He just stares incredulously at the guy who manages to turn stone-cold Yoongi into a softie. The guy says something to Yoongi while hiding his cheeky grin behind a sleeve and Yoongi shoves at him teasingly, talks in that fake scolding tone that he uses to hide his affection. 

Two more guys walk in then, gesturing wildly with their hands and speaking in rapidfire like they’re caught up in some disagreement, but their hands drop when they catch sight of Yoongi who pulls them in for a one-armed hug. Even Seokjin joins this faux high school reunion, rubbing his hands on the towel at his waist before he hugs them hello. Jungkook notices that he sways on his feet a little as he embraces the tallest one. 

Jungkook's in the middle of making a mai tai when they walk over.

“Jungkook, these are my old coworkers,” Yoongi motions to the first two that sit down at the counter. The shorter one looks at him with interest, peering up at him behind soft, black hair. He looks young for his age, like he can't quite get rid of his baby fat—but there's something about it that's charming. Of course he'd win over Yoongi's heart.

“Jimin,” the man says with a shy smile, eyes sparkling. Jungkook swears that the man’s gaze drops slightly like he’s checking him out, glancing at Jungkook’s chest through the dip of his V-neck, and he silently thanks the universe for allowing him to find time to go to the gym even with school and a part-time job. Hoseok grins beside Jimin, having introduced himself with a slight dip of his head.

Yoongi continues and gestures to the man who stands behind them imposingly, dressed in black from head-to-toe. “And this is Namjoon,” he says. “He owns this bar and the main bar that we all worked at.”

Jungkook's mind blanks.

“Wait, what? I thought Seokjin-hyung—” he looks over to Seokjin whose cheeks are sucked in like he’s trying to hold back his laughter.

“I just take care of this branch for Namjoon,” he says, rubbing Namjoon’s shoulders fondly.

Somewhere along the way Jungkook remembers his manners and bows to show his respect, so low that his nose almost grazes the counter. Namjoon just pushes him to set him upright, complains and says he doesn’t care for formalities.

“Namjoon-hyung is fine,” he says, dimples showing.

 

Seokjin goes back to tend to his customers but Yoongi makes drinks for the rest of them. Namjoon gets some decade-old Japanese whiskey with a splash of water, something from the top shelf, which Jungkook could have guessed just by looking at his outfit. It’s deceptively simple, like he rolled out of bed and threw on whatever was the cleanest, but they’re all designer brands that Jungkook can’t even dream about affording. Namjoon’s shirt probably costs more than Jungkook’s entire closet combined but Jungkook can tell Namjoon doesn't spend his money carelessly. His clothes show his good taste; it says that Namjoon has an eye for business, that he's a guy who knows what he's doing. His drink shows it too, a nicely aged Yamazaki with some water in it in order to bring out the flavors that ice can’t.

Hoseok on the other hand, just gets a beer, and Jungkook probably could have guessed that too. He smiles easily, so wide that it looks painted on, and the lazy hand motions that he makes as he talks gives off an air of nonchalance.

It’s Jimin though, that gives Jungkook pause. When Yoongi asks for his order, Jimin shakes his head, jerks his hand from side-to-side to wave him off.

Jungkook can't help but to blurt, “are you driving?”

Jimin jolts in his seat then, blinking wide at Jungkook like he wasn’t sure the question was directed at him.

“No, I just…” his brows furrow. “Why do you ask?” he shoots back, that small flash of pensiveness replaced by a teasing grin. “Are you gonna make me something?”

“I- well, it depends on what you want? We have lots of stuff here.” So smooth, Jungkook. A real, modern-day lothario you are. Yoongi seems to think so too because he snorts at Jungkook’s vapid description while grabbing a bottle of beer for himself. Jimin humors him at least.

“Surprise me.”

From anybody else he would have hated it, would have made his patented Fancy Fruit Punch with Vodka, but Jimin’s lips are quirked and his eyes crinkle like he knows he’s being a pain in the ass and Jungkook rises to the challenge.

Beside him, Hoseok hoots with laughter. “Don’t fall for it Jungkook,” he says between little hics. “You can’t surprise this guy. Jimin used to go around to different bars to mess with the other bartenders. He’d order the girliest drinks just to see the looks on their faces.”

“They actually taste good!” Jimin protests with a scrunch of his nose. “I mean, if they make it right."

“He ordered a red-headed slut one time and the customer next to him overheard. He nearly got slapped,” Yoongi adds on, trying to get a rise out of him.

Jimin whines cutely in response.

“Stop embarrassing me. I wasn’t trying to be crude. I just wanted to see what it tasted like.”

“Red-headed…” Jungkook doesn’t finish the name.

“Jäger, peach schnapps, and double the cranberry,” Jimin says without skipping a beat. “Hyung, why aren’t you teaching him the important stuff?”

“Jimin, no one in their right mind would order that except for you.”

“Let him order what he wants,” Namjoon jumps in, “he’s just shaking up gender norms that’s all.”

“Right, because ‘red-headed slut’ is so progressive,” Yoongi snorts with a swig of his beer.

They’re so distracted they don’t notice Jungkook moving around the bar until he’s done and places a shooter in front of Jimin, filled all the way to the top with a clear red. Everyone nearly dies of laughter.

“Jungkook, you too?” Jimin pouts, sniffing at the drink.

It gets quiet when Jimin brings the cocktail to his lips and Hoseok mumbles something that Jungkook can’t quite hear, something like “Jimin, you don’t have to—” but Jimin sends him a look that shuts him up. Everyone holds their breath as Jimin flings his head back, swallowing it down.

“Just like I remembered,” he smacks when the burn clears from his throat.

Jungkook tries not to gape at the way the cranberry juice stains Jimin’s lips and makes them look even fuller than they already are.

“As good as yours?” Namjoon asks with watchful eyes. Yoongi doesn’t stop staring at Jimin, like he’s waiting for him to throw up or break into hives or something equally bad. Instead, Jimin gives an easy laugh.

“Hyung, you know nothing beats my drinks. I even give Yoongi-hyung a run for his money sometimes.”

Yoongi snaps out of his stupor and scoffs.

“Yeah, yeah, your style’s flashy and all, but learn your whiskey and then we’ll talk.” Namjoon raises his glass in agreement and Jimin’s nose wrinkles like he sniffed his father’s high-proof scotch.

Behind the bar, Jungkook gawks at Jimin who looks more like a barista than a bartender with his feathery hair and cozy, oversized sweater. “You’re a bartender?” he chokes.

“He was my first apprentice,” Yoongi corrects him. “He was pretty good too, even if he was a little shit most of the time.”

“Aw hyung, you’re making me blush," Jimin drawls and then giggles at the end like he couldn't handle his own sarcasm.

Jimin's really something.

“Jimin was a finalist for one of KBG’s flair bartending competitions too,” Namjoon adds. “Almost makes up for all of the glasses that he broke when he worked here.”

And Jimin flushes for real this time, hiding behind his sleeved palms, ears as red as the cocktail he drank.

“You don’t work there anymore?” Jungkook asks curiously.

“I don’t.”

“Why not? It sounds like you enjoyed it.”

Yoongi and Hoseok inhale their beer, eyes meeting briefly in some silent conversation and Namjoon watches Jimin intently, swirling his half-finished drink around with one hand like he’s aerating wine. The buzzing of the chitchat around them gets louder, Jimin's wary silence becoming painfully obvious and Jungkook wishes he had never asked. The air is so tense he can choke on it.

Jimin's lower lip puffs out, swollen and red from where he gnawed on it.

“Life gets in the way,” he answers finally.

Yoongi puts his empty bottle down almost theatrically, distracts everyone by refilling their drinks (he hands Jimin a glass of water instead). The awkward conversation is readily forgotten because Yoongi too eagerly throws Jungkook under the bus, recounting the time when Jungkook made one of Yoongi’s regulars a Dark n’ Stormy when his preferred drink was actually a Fuzzy Navel.

“He said to surprise him and I did,” Jungkook sulks as everyone laughs at his expense.

“Are you still doing that stupid alcohol personality test?” Hoseok hiccups as he swallows down his second beer. His nose wrinkles in disgust.

Yoongi shrugs.

“Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”

“I thought I broke it a long time ago with all the girly drinks I ordered,” Jimin quips.

“The laws of the universe never really apply to you, Park Jimin,” Hoseok responds fondly, pinching his cheeks for good measure. Jimin beams and laughs shyly, face dusted pink from the shooter. Jungkook can’t seem to tear his eyes away until Yoongi nudges at him, smirking when Jungkook refocuses his attention to the invisible stain on the counter.

“Jimin, what do you think Jungkook would order at a bar? I never really figured it out,” Yoongi asks tauntingly.

Jimin drinks him in, soaking him up from head-to-toe and Jungkook’s neck burns under Jimin’s studying gaze, so much that he has to turn away, rubbing the same spot over and over with his bar towel. In the corner of his eye he sees Yoongi’s white knuckles clenched around the beer bottle and Jungkook knows he’s trying to hold back his laughter. Jungkook makes a mental note to water down the bourbon that Yoongi hides in the back of the cupboard, away from Jisung’s curious hands.

“I think he’d get a box of apple juice,” Jimin grins playfully. “With a little straw and everything.”

Yoongi barks with laughter.

Jungkook hopes Jisung will like his new bottle of whiskey.

 

Chapter Text

The next time Jimin comes to the bar, he comes with a friend named Taehyung who’s tall and nice and really, really touchy with Jimin. Said friend also orders a virgin cuba libre (“You know that’s just a Coke, right?” “I know what I’m doing.”) and steals cherries when Jungkook’s not looking. Needless to say, they don’t get off on the right foot.

“Taehyung, if you keep eating the cherries, I’m gonna start putting them on your tab,” Yoongi says as he scoops out more cherries from the jar, eyes fixed accusingly on Taehyung’s shameless, grinning face.

“You mean my tab.” Jimin corrects him, plucking a cherry out of Taehyung’s hands.

He pops it into his mouth, stem and all, and Jungkook looks away, preoccupies himself with a highball glass and tries not to think about Jimin’s tongue and whether or not he’d be able to knot the cherry stem in his mouth. Jungkook makes a few Snake Bites, and then a Jägerbomb for a guy who laughs too loudly, frowns too easily. The guy throws cash onto the table.

“So Jungkookie,” Taehyung says conversationally, “how’d you get into bartending?”

After a moment, Jungkook shrugs.

“Yoongi-hyung just called me over one day and started ordering me around.”

Jimin gives a breathless little laugh, “that’s how he got me into it too. I like it though. You get to meet a ton of cool people.”

“Yeah…” Jungkook trails off. “I guess I just—I’m not really much of a talker.”

Taehyung stares blankly at him, chewing on the end of his straw.

“You’re a bartender,” he deadpans. “Who’s not a talker.”

Jimin cuts in with a sympathetic smile.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he protests. Jungkook could probably forgive him for getting a virgin 7 & 7 (a ginger ale, ordered under Taehyung’s bad influence most likely).

“Yeah, but Yoongi-hyung had you to balance it out,” Taehyung says pointedly. “Now there’s two Yoongis. One’s already bad enough.”

A loud voice cuts through the ruckus of a 21st birthday party.

“Heard that,” Yoongi yells by the cash register, completely unamused. Taehyung doesn’t back down; his face splits in a wide grin and he lunges beyond the counter to steal some more cherries.

Jimin reprimands Taehyung with an elbow to the ribs, and then with a petulant voice, starts talking about Jungkook like he’s not standing less than a meter away.

“Jungkook’s not so bad. And he makes good drinks too.” (Jungkook tries to contain his glee and ends up pouring twice the recommended amount of vodka into a guy’s Black Russian.)

“And you would know this because…?” Taehyung drawls.

“Because he made me one.”

He hides his face behind his glass, lifts it up and makes a show of swallowing in order to avoid Taehyung’s glance. There’s a screech of metal against the linoleum and Jimin’s drink splashes, ice clinking as he jolts in his chair. Taehyung nibbles on a cherry with an innocent face, but Jungkook can tell from the way they jerk and fidget that they’re squabbling with their feet beneath the counter.

Mr. Snake Bite hollers and Jungkook makes him another Jägerbomb. 

He’s pulled back to Jimin’s side of the counter when he feels someone’s gaze on him. Taehyung’s face is blank but his eyes glint under the bar lights; he searches Jungkook’s face for something (for what, Jungkook doesn’t really know) but Jungkook knows his mind is probably churning, planning something.

“If you’re so good, why don’t you make me something?”

“What would you like?” Jungkook asks without hesitation.

Taehyung flops a hand around.

“Whatever you like to drink,” he says lazily. The fidgeting stops and beside him, Jimin stretches forward, curious.

“I… don’t really drink,” Jungkook confesses. “But I’ll make you something you’ll like.”

Taehyung barks a booming laugh.

“A bartender who doesn’t drink or talk. Man, you’re incredible.”

Even Jimin gives his input, cheeks puffing out, amused. “Guess I was right about the apple juice,” he teases.

Jungkook’s ears turn red and he fumbles with the spritzer, sprays some soda into an ice-filled glass, pours in a trickle of grenadine. Jimin makes him nervous and he doesn’t know why—Jimin’s attractive, Jungkook knows that much, but there’s something behind the coquettish smiles that Jungkook wants to figure out.

Jimin chuckles pleasantly when Jungkook scoops in more than the standard amount of cherries.

After the last addition of a straw, Jungkook offers the glass to Taehyung who turns it around in his hand before he takes a sip.

“Okay, okay, you got me,” Taehyung concedes. “This is better than I expected.”

Jungkook and Jimin share a glance; Jimin raises his eyebrows teasingly at him and smiles into his drink, knowing very well that Jungkook just made Taehyung a Shirley Temple and lives to tell the tale, and Jungkook can’t keep his chest from swelling, has to bite his cheek in order to keep himself from preening under Jimin’s silent praise. But Taehyung reaches into his drink to grab a cherry, dangles it in front of Jimin’s lips like it’s bait and Jungkook’s chest drops astoundingly quick. Jimin catches the cherry with his tongue. With bumbling arms, Jungkook grabs another glass, wipes it down with his bar rag. He makes it a point to ignore the knotted cherry stems garnishing Jimin’s empty drink.

“You’re not going to make me anything?” Jimin asks sweetly.

Jungkook clears his throat.

“Another virgin 7 & 7?”

Jimin’s eyes crinkle and he grins like he always does. Jungkook vaguely wonders how many speeding tickets he’s managed to avoid. Probably at least a dozen with a face like that.

“A real drink,” he says. “Whatever you think I’d order.”

“So something girly,” Taehyung butts in. “With an umbrella on top.”

“Shut up, Tae.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t go anywhere near the umbrellas, much to Taehyung’s chagrin, but he does wipe at his apron a little before he pulls some gin and apricot brandy off of the middle-shelf. He makes sure Yoongi’s not looking when he reaches for the Calvados—Yoongi would give him too much shit if he sees what Jungkook’s mixing together and he’d rather not have to deal with Yoongi’s knowing smirk. From what Yoongi had told him, Jimin’s good at flairtending but not the best at distinguishing between different liquors. Yoongi had grunted, “His tastebuds are shot to shit from all the stupid sugary drinks he used to order. The kid thinks scotch, bourbon, and cognac all taste the same.” That’s fine by Jungkook if it means Jimin won’t be able to figure out what this is.

Jungkook strains the drink into a cocktail glass, dries his hands on the front of his pants. With a shaky palm, he places the drink in front of Jimin who takes it immediately. Taehyung looks over in mild curiosity.

“What’d you make me?” Jimin asks, sniffing at the liquid. He does that a lot, like he’s trying to smell the different ingredients in order to compensate for his poor sense of taste.

“I- I forgot what it’s called,” Jungkook clears his throat, “but—it’s good and I just… thought it suits you.”

Taehyung leans over Jimin, sniffs at it also, but his nostrils jerk at the sharp smell of brandy and he too willingly returns to his own drink. When Jimin raises the glass to his lips, Jungkook’s entire body tightens.

“I like it,” Jimin says after a taste, face softening, lips curved in a relaxed grin. “What’s in here?”

Jungkook tenses and then finishes in one breath, “gin and two types of brandy.”

Jimin swishes it around in his mouth, humming to himself for a minute, but Jimin’s face shows no signs of recognition and Jungkook’s shoulders roll back in relief.

“If I don’t know what it is, then it’s not something I’d order,” Jimin remarks. “Nice try though. It’s really good.”

Taehyung steals a sip and blanches, washing down the burn with his own drink.

“Ugh, gin. Gross,” he gags.

Jimin laughs, shoves Taehyung’s head playfully, “you need to learn how to enjoy your liquor."

 

Jungkook is dragged away from them by a young guy with slicked-back hair who orders a whiskey on the rocks for himself and an apple martini for the dolled-up girl beside him. Jungkook does a laugh-cough into the elbow of his sleeve when the guy chokes on his drink, green-faced and cringing as he tries to swallow it down, though he schools his face into a relaxed bravado when his date glances up at him. Jungkook appreciates the fact that Jimin knows what he likes, can admit that he doesn’t care for whiskey the way other fresh-out-of-college kids claim they do.

A loud whoop comes from the crowd, a few Ms. Woo Woos gabbing loudly, Mr. Snake Bite chatting up Ms. Vodka Tonic. And then more orders roll in: lemon drops, yogurt soju, cranberry mojitos—but even as Jungkook makes them, he can’t keep his eyes from wandering over to where Jimin and Taehyung are sitting, heads touching as they laugh at something on Taehyung’s phone. His stomach hardens when one of Jimin’s hands reach up to play with the baby hairs at the base of Taehyung’s neck.

“Hey- c’n I get ‘nothr Jägerbomb?” the guy in front of him sways on his feet, hunches over the counter while fiddling with his wallet and Jungkook wrenches his eyes away from Jimin to deal with the drunk customer.

“I’m sorry sir, but I’m going to have to cut you off for the night.”

The guy blinks hard, trying to adjust his focus, and then he squints accusingly.

“ ‘m a payin’ customer,” he slurs, jabbing a finger into Jungkook’s chest.

“I understand, sir, I’m just… concerned for your safety,” Jungkook says, trying to assuage him. God, he hated the Jägerbomb drunks. Tequila drunks were rowdy, but they listened to you. It was the Jäger drunks that would start bar fights, run off into the middle of the street. “Here, why don’t you have some water? I’ll go ahead and call you a cab.”

The guy backhands the glass, sends it rolling down the bar, and the other customers snap back in their seats with cries of disgust as the water streams down the counter.

Jungkook can see Yoongi signaling to the bouncer from the corner of his eye, but the guy gets in his face too quickly, a blur of drunken rage and fragile machismo. He grips Jungkook’s shirt, spits out some nasty words and Jungkook’s hands clench and unclench, every muscle in his body tightens and his fists itch. If the guy calls him a “dumbass” just one more fucking time, Jungkook’s not gonna be able to stop himself.

Then an empty cocktail glass is placed in his field of vision and Jimin pops out of the air with a smile on his face, acting like he didn’t just walk into the middle of a potential crime scene.

“Whoa buddy, you look like you could use a drink,” Jimin laughs, patting the guy’s shoulder all too familiarly.

“Tell me about’t,” he grits, hands still fisted in Jungkook’s shirt, “but this f’ckin’ jerk won’t giv’ me one.”

“Aw, Jungkook, the least you can do is make the man a cuba libre or a 7 & 7,” Jimin winks at him and Jungkook gnaws on his lip to hold back a laugh. Goddamn cheeky Jimin. Jungkook doesn’t know if he’s making the situation better or worse.

After a bit of time, Jungkook sighs, lifting both hands up in defeat.

“Fine, but this is your last drink, alright? I’ll make it for you and then I’m gonna call you a cab. For your own safety.”

The man lets go, satisfied, fishes out some warm crumpled bills from his pocket and drops it on the table and Jungkook pours some coke into a cup, wets the rim with whiskey and gives the man his virgin cuba libre. The guy barely gets a sip in before the bouncer escorts him out. Jungkook sticks to his promise and calls him a cab.

 

When the ordeal’s finished, Jungkook finds Jimin back in his original seat, chatting with Taehyung who’s moved onto the olives after depleting the bar’s supply of cherries.  Jungkook fills up a glass with ginger ale and places it on the counter in front of him.

“What’s this for?” Jimin blinks.

“I just… wanted to thank you. For stepping in.”

Jimin laughs, shakes his head.

“I didn’t do anything. You’re the one who took care of it,” then his voice drops. A bit softer. “Thanks for calling him a cab.”

Jungkook’s confused by the gratitude, doesn’t know why Jimin’s thanking him when he’s just doing his job.

“I just didn’t want him to put anybody’s life in danger. It’s my responsibility since I’m the one that got him drunk.”

When Jungkook looks up from where he’s wiping the bar counter, Jimin has the oddest expression on his face, eyes piercing, boring into Jungkook like he’s trying to figure him out. Jungkook can’t keep eye contact for long (he never really can, especially when it comes to Jimin). He turns away, stripped apart by Jimin’s stare. Beside them, Taehyung slurps his drink a little too loudly, darting glances between the both of them. And then Jimin starts when his phone vibrates on his pocket.

“Shit, Tae, we gotta go. I forgot about that stupid group project,” Jimin grabs at the drink, chugs it down (Jungkook’s noticed that Jimin finishes every plate and drink that he’s given, like he wouldn't dare throw away someone’s hard work.). Jimin pulls out his credit card but Jungkook waves it away, shakes his head no.

“Stop being so stubborn, just take the damn card. I’m your customer.”

“They’re on the house,” Jungkook says. “It’s the least I can do.”

Jimin knits his brows together, lurches forward in order to slip his card into Jungkook’s chest pocket but Jungkook twists his body and avoids him just in time.

“Jungkook,” he says humorlessly.

“I messed up on your drink order. You can pay when I get it right, okay?”

Jimin huffs, doesn’t move from where he’s standing until Taehyung gives an exasperated sigh.

“Jimin, just pay him later. You’ll be back anyway.” For some reason, Taehyung’s looking at Jungkook as he says this.

Defeated, Jimin slides the card back into his wallet, sips the melted ice from his glass and waves goodbye to Yoongi and Jungkook. When Jimin’s halfway towards the door, Taehyung gives a sudden shout.

“Wait, you go ahead first, I need to use the restroom.”

Jimin groans, “It’s fine, I’ll just wait.”

“Just go—you’re already running late,” Taehyung says in a rush. He pushes his bulky suede coat into Jimin’s chest and shoves at him. “Here, I’ll meet you at the car.”

Taehyung makes it back from the restroom a little too quickly. When Jimin’s out the door, Taehyung puts his weight onto the bar counter, beckons Jungkook to come closer with one hand, maybe to slip his own card in or ask for the cocktail recipe—maybe to tell Jungkook to stay away from his boyfriend.

Instead, he careens forward, holds a hand up to Jungkook’s ear, and whispers, conspiratorially, “Jimin’s single.”

Jungkook chokes on his spit, blunders with the cocktail shaker.

“W-what?” he gapes.

But Taehyung’s already leaning back, completely expressionless like he didn’t just give Jungkook the go-ahead to pursue his friend. “If you actually go to class every once in awhile, you might see him on campus.”

“But- how did you—“

“Yoongi said you go to the school nearby. Me and Jiminie go there too—probably different departments though.” Taehyung noisily sips up the last of his drink and rummages through his pockets with one hand. “He likes going to the coffee shop at the south side of campus."

With a toothy grin, Taehyung pulls his hand out of his pocket, dangles his keys around an index finger in triumph.

“Thanks for the Shirley Temple,” he singsongs, jangling the keys as he waves goodbye. “Bye Yoongi,” he hollers over the crowd, snickering and fleeing before Yoongi could chew him out for dropping the honorifics. Yoongi mutters something under his breath but Jungkook doesn’t hear it, still slack jawed and staring vacantly at Taehyung’s back as he exits.

Jungkook owes him about five jars of Maraschino cherries.

 

Sure enough, Jungkook comes across Jimin at the coffee shop, never mind that he has basically camped out there all day with a spread of textbooks in front of him, neglecting his studies to watch the ever-revolving door. When Jimin finally, finally walks in, large Wayfarers perched on the bridge of his nose, looking all cozy in his snug sweater, Jungkook’s heart stops. It beats again in double-time and Jungkook sucks in a quick stuttering breath. Jimin doesn’t seem to notice him, too preoccupied with his phone, biting on his full, full lips as he texts someone. Jungkook could shout his name, could spring out of his seat and say hi, could pay for his drink all suave and smooth-tongued, but Jungkook’s glued to his chair, tongue stuck in his throat.

The barista calls out an “almond latte” and Jimin’s head jerks up. He takes the drink with a smile and heads out the door.

Jungkook slumps in his chair, lets out the breath he didn’t know he was holding and then rolls his head back onto the headrest with a pained groan.

Jungkook comes back the next day, and the next day, and the next. Even Seokjin and Yoongi noticed he’s been coming into work with his backpack on—Seokjin pats him on the back proudly, praises him for going to class. Little do they know, Jungkook spends more time at the coffee shop than he actually does in lecture (but he’s still getting a good amount of studying done, so it’s not a complete loss).

Jimin comes in around the same time each day, gets an almond latte as an afternoon pick-me-up, a creature of habit. Every single time he walks through the door, Jungkook’s pulse quickens like he’s Pavlov’s dog, fluttering at the sight of Jimin’s wind-tousled hair and soft, pouty lips. Jimin never looks over, always thumbing through his phone or cramming in some last-minute reading, but Jungkook’s the one to blame for choosing a corner table anyway, far away from Jimin’s field of vision. One day, Jimin actually stays behind at the café, pulls some textbooks out of his backpack, and spreads his pens and highlighters on the table. Even though Jimin’s not facing him, Jungkook’s still mesmerized by the back of his head, by the way his back flexes through his shirt as he writes. Jimin’s a fidgeter, never completely comfortable in any position, always crossing his legs and uncrossing them, bouncing his knee up and down as he reads, resting his chin on the table or his palm or the crook of his elbow. Jungkook wants to find out more—wants to know  his favorite color, his childhood memories, wants to see if Jimin’s hair is really as soft as it looks.

He wants to know what Jimin would order at a bar.

  

Jimin doesn’t come to the bar until a week later, but he comes alone at least. Jungkook is practically bouncing on the balls of his feet when Jimin makes his way towards Jungkook’s end of the counter. Jimin barely gets a greeting in before Jungkook places a shooter in front of him.

Jungkook’s been planning this for a while now, ever since Jimin ordered the almond latte at the coffee shop—a deconstructed almond latte made with three layers of liquor. Like a B-52 but with Amaretto instead of Cointreau (Jungkook’s not too sure if Jimin would appreciate the bitter, orange taste of triple sec). Jungkook takes it even further and adds a spiral of whipped cream at the top, just the way Jimin drinks his latte.

“Jungkook? What is this?” He looks at the stripes dubiously.

Jungkook swallows before he speaks. “I’ve- well, I know you like almond lattes so I thought this would be something you’d order too. It’s kind of like an almond latte. Or- well, I tried to make it like one,” he vaguely motions to the whipped cream on top. “I-it’s more like a B-52, I guess, but I just replaced the triple sec with Amaretto instead for the almond flavor. Just a little though.”  Jimin’s face stills, eyes unreadable, and Jungkook closes his mouth in embarrassment, realizing that he’s been nervously rambling. He could feel the heat creeping up his neck, moving up his cheeks.

“Jungkook,” Jimin says, voice tight, “sorry, what’s in it again?”

Jungkook answers meekly, “Kahlua, Bailey’s and Amaretto? With whipped cream at the top, because… you know, it’s like a latte.”

Jimin bursts out laughing, cracks up so hard the entire bar turns to look. Jungkook’s face flares.

“Jungkook,” he wheezes, “you just made me a fucking blowjob.”

Jungkook stiffens, mouth falling open, stomach curdling.

“W-what?” he croaks, not expecting to hear the word “blowjob” in Jimin’s soft lilt.

Jimin’s still laughing, clutching his sides, voice coming out in squeaks.

“Oh my god,” he gasps, “I can’t believe this. Yoongi doesn’t teach you anything,” his pitch rises, breaks off in disbelief and he has to hold onto his chair for support from laughing so hard.

Jungkook wants to hide under the counter. He could probably stay there for a while, live on a diet of cherries, olives, and cocktail onions.

Jimin finally comes down from his high, wiping at the tears in his eyes with one hand.

“Sorry, sorry. I appreciate it, I really do,” he chuckles, face still red from his laughing fit. “You’ve never had one, huh?”

Jungkook squeaks, “…a blowjob?” and Jimin’s in hysterics again, doubling over in shock.

“No, I mean—” he cuts himself off between laughs. “Here, let me show you.”

Jimin gets off of the stool, drags his hands behind his back in some form of self-bondage, and then bends forward, parting his lips over the mouth of the shot. He takes the entire thing in one go, gulps it down with his head thrown back, creamy neck tensing as he swallows. Then the shot is set upright on the counter, empty except for the saliva that wets the rim of the glass, and Jimin wipes the whipped cream from the corner of his mouth with a finger, licks it off like he can’t bear to waste it. Jungkook’s throat closes, tongue thick in his mouth. He tries to ignore the way his pants tighten.

After the show, Jimin sits back in his seat, smiling shyly behind a hand like he couldn’t believe what he just did. Jimin keeps fluctuating from being giggly and coy to being bold and flirty and it really throws Jungkook in for a loop.

“S-so you’ve had a few of those, huh?” Jungkook says, clearing his throat.

“Actually… Taehyung’s the one that orders them for me. I’m too embarrassed to order all the… dirty-sounding drinks,” he admits sheepishly.

“I never would have guessed,” Jungkook says under his breath.

Jimin breaks into a grin but then something switches, his expression flickers.

“How'd you know I like almond lattes?” he asks with a tilt of his head.

Jungkook breaks into a cold sweat. Fuck. He didn’t think that one through at all.

“I’ve seen you at the café a few times—the one on campus. I’m not stalking you or anything,” he stammers and then mentally kicks himself, realizing that he’s not helping his case. “I just like studying there. And I noticed you tend to get the almond one.”

“I didn’t know,” Jimin complains while fiddling with the shot glass. “Why don’t you say hi?”

Because you’re gorgeous and intimidating and I’m awkward as fuck.

“You always seemed busy,” he says weakly.

“Well, say hi next time, okay?”

He nods a little too rapidly.

They fight over the bill again—Jungkook shoos him off, says he didn’t get the drink right. “I’ll keep your tab open, just pay me later,” and he can tell from Jimin’s pinched expression and pursed lips that Jimin’s annoyed, probably hates people paying for him. He should ask Yoongi to confirm.

Jimin lets out a long, drawn-out sigh.

“You better figure it out quick.”

“I will,” Jungkook says firmly.

Satisfied, Jimin puts his wallet back in his pocket, shrugs on his coat. But then he stops himself before he leaves. His lips quirk playfully and he looks at Jungkook with a naughty look on his face.

“You know,” he says coyly, “if you poured in just a bit more Amaretto and served it over ice, you would have given me an Orgasm.”

Jungkook sputters, mouth gaping open and closed like a fish.  

Jimin just laughs.

 

The next time Jimin comes, Jungkook makes him an Americano, thinking that he’d appreciate Campari—a liqueur as pretty and complex as him. No dice. A few days later, Jungkook tries a Fuzzy Navel after Jimin hands over some peach-flavored candy on one of their study dates (which was really just Jimin inviting himself to Jungkook’s lonely study party by dumping all of his books on the table). Jimin says it’s too sweet for him but he still finishes the entire thing like the goddamn peach that he is (in theory, the Fuzzy Navel should have been perfect). Jungkook even makes Jimin a hot toddy when he coughs more than usual, a Midori Sour when he comes in sucking on a Melona Bar, a mint julep after Jungkook catches him eating the garnish off of the appetizers. He doesn’t come close.

Yoongi cackles when he finds out what’s going on, but he doesn’t say anything, just sort of chuckles to himself, looks over to Jungkook with a raised eyebrow whenever Jimin walks in. Jungkook’s actually kind of grateful to him. Yoongi will never admit it, but Jungkook notices that Yoongi picks up the slack whenever Jungkook’s tending to Jimin, insists “I’ve got it” whenever a customer walks up to the bar, playing wingman in his own way.

Jungkook doesn’t realize the amount of work that Yoongi took on for himself until Yoongi calls in sick on a Friday night. Jisung’s already red-faced and sweating from carrying all of the trays back and forth; food is slower so Seokjin helps him out with the barback duties. It’s helpful, but it does nothing to diminish the numbers of impatient customers. An hour in and Jungkook is wiping the sweat off his face with a forearm; Seokjin squeezes a shoulder in pity but Jungkook doesn’t even have time to acknowledge him because order after order keeps coming in. He’s suffocated behind the counter; the crowd holds their credit cards up in the air like they’re deli tickets and it never ends. Jungkook caves when a bachelorette party comes parading through the door—they descend on him like wolves, shouting drink after drink after drink. Panicking, he turns to Jimin who’s in sitting in his usual spot, sipping on the Pink Lady that Jungkook made for him earlier in the night.

“I’m going crazy—I need help. Can you take over for Yoongi?” he pleads.

Jimin’s face goes blank.

“Jungkook, I haven’t bartended in ages—“

“Hyung, please.” Jimin always complains about Jungkook’s stubbornness, grumbles when Jungkook refuses to accept hints about his drink order. He had complained about it when Jungkook turned down his coffee offer; Jimin had said, “stop being so prideful, just ask for help when you need it.” Jungkook’s at the end of the line and Jimin knows it. Jungkook’s back is drenched like he ran a marathon, face flushed, chest heaving, damp hair sticking to his forehead. Even while he’s talking, his hands don’t stop, dropping a garnish into one cup, stirring another one.

Jimin relents.

“Alright,” he says, “where do you keep the bar aprons?”

 

Yoongi’s taste buds are his strong point—he can taste the difference between Ciroc and Stoli, can distinguish between the light fruity smoke of a Yamazaki and the caramel smoothness of a Blue Label. He can probably figure out a drink’s components just by taste alone. Jungkook has yet to test this out, but he has no doubts about it. His drinks don’t win “cocktail of the year” for nothing.

Jimin is different. He doesn’t have Yoongi’s sense of taste, can’t custom-make drinks the way Yoongi can or sniff out different liquors. He’s more of a performer than he is a bartender, but even though he’s a little out of practice, he blows Jungkook out of the water. Jimin moves like he’s dancing, tossing bottles effortlessly into the air, balancing one on the back of one hand while he flips another. The restless crowd settles down when Jimin gets behind the bar, treats it like his stage. Even Seokjin gets distracted by Jimin’s little tricks, tripping when he watches the way Jimin spins the vodka bottle, reaches behind his back and pours it from up high.

He’s a talker too. Jungkook understands what Taehyung meant the other week when he said Jimin and Yoongi balanced each other out. Jimin greeted everyone with a smile, cracked jokes, basically charmed the fucking pants off of even the sourest businessman. It’s stupid but Jungkook can’t ignore the way his stomach burns when a customer’s flattered by Jimin’s attention, when her (or his) hand lingers a little too long on Jimin’s. They all bat their eyes as they talk, giggle at his witty comments. Even worse, Jimin flirts back. He kind of has to. It’s his job. Still, Jungkook can’t keep his jaw from clenching every time someone leans in a little too close.

Jungkook works a good distance apart so that he doesn’t get in Jimin’s way, but he unconsciously edges closer and closer every time a customer gets a little too friendly. He wipes at the counter to feign nonchalance, hiding the fact that he's eavesdropping. All of the conversations are the same, just fake, shallow flirting—except one.

Jimin asks one customer what she’d like to order and she responds, without skipping a beat, “you”.

He doesn’t bat an eyelid, quips, “on the rocks?”

She smiles, thrilled that he’s humoring her.

“Not straight up?” she asks back.

“Definitely not straight.”

Jungkook nearly drops a martini glass.

She just throws her head back in laughter and orders a margarita instead. When Jimin hands her the check, Jungkook sees a peek of the ten dollar bill she leaves underneath the receipt. A ten dollar tip. For a fourteen dollar drink. Jimin’s probably set for life from bartending—what could have been so bad that it made Jimin quit? He had attempted to ask Yoongi about it once but Yoongi just replied cryptically, “that’s cheating” and continued muddling some mint like the conversation never happened. He had asked Jimin about it again too, in the middle of pouring vodka into Jimin’s Sea Breeze (Jungkook had made it after Jimin slipped into his Busan lilt—it just so happens Jimin didn’t care for grapefruit). Jimin just asked with an amused grin, “why do you want to know so badly?” and Jungkook got so flustered he couldn’t even push for the answer.

 
A few more drinks and the bar closes; Seokjin’s passively aggressively kicking people out like he always does, making a show out of wiping the tables and stacking the chairs.

“Seokjin does a good job at managing the bar,” Jimin comments with a breathy laugh.

The sheen of sweat on his skin makes him glow; the bar lights reflect off of his eyes just right. It takes Jungkook’s breath away.

“Thanks for helping out,” Jungkook says after a moment.

Jimin smiles.

“You look like you needed it."

They clean up in silence; Jungkook can’t stop his eyes from flickering to Jimin who’s fanning the cocktail napkins with his short fingers.

“You should leave soon. Don’t you have that group project tomorrow?” Jungkook remembers Jimin grumbling about it the other day—Jungkook had made him a Fuzzy Comfort in consolation.

“Yeah, but I’m not gonna let you close up by yourself.”

“Hyung, just go, I can take care of it myself.”

“It’s fine, we’re almost done anyway,” he says.

Jungkook huffs and childishly throws his towel at Jimin in protest, but his chest feels full and warm.

 

When they finally lock up the bar (Seokjin and Jisung had already left in a hurry), they linger for a few minutes by the front door. Jimin sends him little darting glances like he wants to say something or he’s expecting Jungkook to say something (which is absolutely ridiculous because Jungkook can’t carry a conversation in a bucket). Jimin looks fucking adorable in his big, fluffy scarf and wool coat and his eyes are shining like they're goddamn stars. It makes Jungkook so nervous he wants to puke.

“Did you park far from here?” Jungkook asks, voice strained.

Jimin blinks up at him, shrugs.

“Just a block away.”

“…you sure you don’t want a ride? My car’s right here.”

Jimin's warm laugh cuts through the bone-chilling wind.

“I’m fine, Jungkook. Get home safe.”

Jungkook awkwardly hovers, not sure if he should hug or high-five or wave or slap him on the back—Jimin answers for him with a tight hug and small wave goodbye.

In the car, Jungkook lolls his head against the chair, squeezes his eyes shut. He could still feel the warmth against his chest, where Jimin pressed up against him. It’s such a small insignificant gesture—for god’s sake he’s hugged Seokjin (and on the rare occasion, Yoongi) plenty of times, but to Jungkook, it feels like Jimin branded him, burned his skin everywhere he touched it.

With a distracted mind, Jungkook fumbles with his keys, hastily shoves it in the ignition. He pulls out of the spot and rolls up slowly to the traffic light where Jimin is standing on the corner of the street, waiting for the pedestrian light to go on.

Jimin sees him through the tinted windows of his car and waves cutely, fingers peeking through the sleeves of his sweater. The heat flares up in his chest and Jungkook waves back.

In front of him, the light turns green. Jimin does a silent little laugh, jerks his head up to the lights as though he’s saying, “Jungkook, pay attention” the way he does when they’re studying and Jungkook’s too distracted by Jimin to read his textbook. Jungkook grins, embarrassed, and lets go of the brake.

Even through the windows he hears the distinct rev of an engine, the squeal of brakes. In the middle of the intersection a car’s speeding up quickly, clearly out of control. The headlights blind him, the car comes closer and closer, bit by bit like everything’s happening in slow-motion when in reality it’s only a second.  Jungkook just remembers gripping the steering wheel tight, limbs petrified, stiffening from the shock.

He blacks out before he feels the impact.

Chapter Text

Jungkook wakes up to sterilized white walls and the steady beeping of a heart monitor. His head’s a jumbled mess; the last thing he remembers is Jimin and some flashing lights and his brain sears when he tries to put the pieces together. There’s a heavy weight in the air, a presence in his room. The beeping picks up when he notices it, and he cranes his neck forward to see who it is but his muscles scream in response.

“If you’re looking for Jimin, you just missed him.”

The drawl is low and smooth, and as Jungkook regains consciousness, he identifies it as Yoongi’s throaty baritone. Jungkook sits up to greet him but the pain in his arm flares with the movement, cuts through his nerves like a knife. With a start, he realizes his forearm’s wrapped up.

“Don’t move idiot, your arm’s fractured.”

Without a moment’s breath, Yoongi’s by his side, uncapping a water bottle and handing it over. He braces one arm on Jungkook’s back to hold him steady while Jungkook washes the dryness out of his mouth.

“Scared the shit out of me there, kid,” Yoongi says as Jungkook drinks his fill, “when Jimin called me I nearly had a heart attack. How the hell am I supposed to find a replacement for you?”

Yoongi taps Jungkook on the head lightly with the water bottle to scold him but Jungkook just laughs. Yoongi has a weird way of showing his love.

“Jimin can replace me. He did just fine when you were gone.”

Yoongi purses his lips but doesn’t respond.


“That reminds me—” his hands scrabble around the pockets of his baggy jacket.

“Here,” he says, placing something on Jungkook’s lap, “it’s from Jimin. He says he’s sorry he couldn’t stay—he had some presentation or something.”

Jungkook can’t hold back the grin that stretches across his face, wide and unashamed. Jimin got him a box of apple juice, “with a little straw and everything.” Taped on the side is some tiny scrawl on a hastily torn piece of paper.

         Feel better~

                 -     Jimin

He must have looked completely smitten because Yoongi says with no small amount of disgust, “you two are driving me nuts, just ask him out already, stupid.”

“I don’t- wh- he doesn’t even like me like that,” Jungkook sputters, face burning.

Yoongi furrows his eyebrows, perturbed, and then he says with exasperation, “Jungkook, are you blind? Jimin likes you. “

“Yeah, but as like a brother or a friend.”

There’s a deep soreness in Jungkook’s chest that’s more agonizing than anything a painkiller could numb.

“Oh my god, you-” Yoongi throws his hands up in defeat and Jungkook’s ready to dodge whatever punch Yoongi is about to throw at him, crippled or not, but Yoongi’s just running a hand through his hair out of frustration, looking to the ceiling for some answers.

“Jimin doesn’t drink,” he says finally.

Jungkook’s blood stops cold.

“…what do you mean?”

Yoongi doesn’t answer. During the stretch of silence, Jungkook hears some faint footsteps echoing down the hall, some small chitchat between nurses. The constant slow beeping of his monitor is putting him on edge. The still air of the hospital has always unnerved Jungkook.

Yoongi breaks the quiet with a sigh.

“He stopped drinking a while a back,” he says slowly, softly, like he’s divulging some deep, dark secret. “He hasn’t had a sip in years.”

Jungkook doesn’t understand.

“But he drank mine,” he utters.

There’s a duh impending, Jungkook can tell by the unimpressed look on Yoongi’s face, but Jungkook’s still lost.

“Let me rephrase that. He gave up drinking until you made him that shot.”

His mind’s still hazy. There’s a headache coming on—whether it’s from the post-accident whiplash or from all the information Yoongi’s throwing at him, Jungkook doesn’t know, but nothing seems to make sense.

“Why did he stop drinking?”

There’s a sudden knock on the door and a nurse pokes her head in. Yoongi never looked so relieved.

“I’ll wait outside. Let me know when you’re discharged.”

When Yoongi drives Jungkook back to his apartment, it’s like the question has never been asked. It’s only when he checks his phone later that day that he sees Yoongi’s text.


Not my place to tell you, but look up Park Jihyun Busan.

 
What he sees is more than he could have ever imagined.  Link after link reads “Driver charged with DUI in fatal Busan crash” “One killed in suspected drunk driving accident” “Busan student killed by alleged drunk.”

The weight in Jungkook’s chest gets heavier and heavier with each article that he reads, yet somehow he can’t get himself to stop, like it's a trainwreck that he can't stop watching. He reads them all with horrid fascination. 


20-year-old Park Jihyun was killed in a fatal crash Monday—

it was almost 2 a.m. when Park Jihyun was hit by an alleged drunk driver—

the victim was driving home when he was struck and killed—


Jungkook’s throat closes up when he sees Jihyun’s school headshots, eyes shining bright, lips full and curved like Jimin’s. Jimin’s never mentioned him but Jungkook can tell from the pictures that they’re brothers. He can't imagine how it must have felt to Jimin, how horrifying it must have been to see Jungkook almost end up like his brother.

Everything clicks.

 

Jungkook returns to work in two weeks. His arm’s still in a cast, but he just takes it as a challenge. He still has enough dexterity to make drinks with one hand anyway. Seokjin says he’s an idiot for not resting longer.

“You’ll still have your job here if that’s what you’re worried about,” he says.

“It’s too boring staying at home,” Jungkook replies.

He won’t admit it out loud, but he missed his job, missed making drinks and learning about people through the cocktails that they order.

Yoongi kind of understands even though Jungkook doesn’t say anything. He ruffles his hair and hands him a cocktail shaker. Even Jisung pats him on the back, says he misses cleaning up Jungkook’s messes.

The night goes by so smoothly that Jungkook doesn’t even notice he’s already halfway through his shift. His usual pet peeves don’t even bother him anymore. He happily makes the fourteenth cranberry vodka of the night, doesn’t bat an eye when a guy asks for a whiskey and coke made with an expensive bottle of Lagavulin. He even chats with a person or two, offers them more than just a “how are you doing”?

Two hours later, Jimin walks in.

It’s only been two weeks but Jimin looks different somehow. Maybe it’s because of Jihyun that’s making him see Jimin in a new light. Jimin still makes Jungkook’s heart beat quicker, still sends the blood coursing through his veins like liquid fire. But something about it feels more than just a plain old crush.

Jungkook’s chest hurts just looking at him.

Jimin doesn’t notice anything’s amiss. When he catches Jungkook’s eyes, his face lights up and he walks over to take his usual spot by the bar. It almost feels like routine again but something’s irrevocably different.

“Why are you working? You should be resting up,” he scolds.

Jungkook admits, “I was bored.”

Jimin just laughs, as sweet as Jungkook remembers.

“Are you really okay?” he asks, concern creasing his brow. Jungkook wants to take his hand and rub the wrinkles away.

“I’m okay,” he says. “Thanks for taking care of me. Sorry you had to see something like that.”

“Don’t be sorry, stupid,” Jimin says quietly.

After a pause, Jimin changes the mood around, asks brightly, “so what have you got for me today?”

He’s prepared himself for this. Has spent the past two weeks thinking about it. He’s got it in the bag, he knows it.

“Do you mind staying after my shift ends? It’ll just be another half an hour. I’ll make you something in the meantime. Whatever you want.”

Jimin looks like he’s about to say something cheeky, but he must have caught the earnestness in Jungkook’s face because he stops himself.

“I’ll wait,” he says.

Jungkook gives him an apologetic smile and tends to the other customers.


Towards the end of the night, Jungkook’s fingers start to tremble, cold nervousness settling in. His stomach rolls when the last customer leaves. As soon as the door closes after him, Yoongi announces that he’s leaving early too and yells for Jisung and Seokjin to get some dinner with him because he’s “fucking starving."

They both look at him suspiciously, but he eggs them on.

“Jungkook can handle closing for tonight. It’s the least he can do since he made us suffer alone for the last two weeks.”

On the way out, Yoongi’s eyes gleam in a way that says, “thank me later.”

Jungkook owes Yoongi his life.

When Jungkook turns back around, Jimin is waiting patiently, jiggling a leg under the bar counter the way he does when he’s studying.  

“No peeking,” Jungkook says.

Jimin makes a show of covering his eyes with a hand. He’s so fucking cute Jungkook can’t stand it.

Jungkook makes the drink, places it on the counter. Jimin pulls his hand away once he hears the clink of the glass on the table and then he takes in the lime wedge and the clearness of the liquid and tilts his head quizzically.

“A vodka soda, Jungkook? Really?”

Jungkook wads up a cocktail napkin and flings it at him.

“Just taste it,” he mutters in embarrassment.

Jimin can’t taste the difference between most spirits, but he definitely knows when a drink’s lacking in alcohol (he doesn’t deserve to be a bartender if he can’t). Jungkook knows Jimin’s figured it out when his head jerks up after a sip.

“Jungkook? What is this?”

“Club soda. With lime.”

Jimin’s face is blank but after a moment, his eyes narrow, like he’s trying to figure Jungkook out. Before he could say anything, Jungkook blurts, “why didn’t you tell me?”

When Jimin flinches, Jungkook adds, softer, “I wouldn’t have made you drink…”

Jimin heaves out a sigh and flops back into his chair. He doesn’t look at Jungkook, just runs a hand through his hair the way he does when he’s troubled. Jungkook’s come to learn so many of his quirks now; he thinks he could probably guess what Jimin’s feeling with every breath and every glance.

“You didn’t make me,” he says. “I wanted to.”

“But why?”

The ice clinks as Jimin swirls the straw around the glass and he rests his head in a palm, refusing to look at Jungkook.

After a while, he mumbles into a hand, “you made me miss bartending a little. You took it so seriously—I saw the look in your eyes when I was talking about that shot. You looked so excited about learning something new. I kind of missed that, I guess.”

He doesn’t know if it’s the bar lighting or not, but he swears Jimin’s cheeks look a little pink.

Jungkook’s pulse flutters.

“Did I get it right?” he asks.

Jimin jolts, looks at Jungkook with wide eyes, “what?”

“The drink,” Jungkook says, nodding towards the glass.

“O-oh, yeah, you know me too well.”

Jimin giggles under his breath and Jungkook responds impulsively, “not well enough.” He nearly clamps a hand over his mouth from the shock. He can’t believe he said that.

If Jimin heard, he doesn’t show it.


“Can I make you something?” Jimin says out of nowhere.

It takes Jungkook off-guard and he nods dumbly, gesturing for Jimin to join him behind the counter.

“No peeking,” Jimin says sweetly.

Jungkook mimics Jimin, slapping his working hand over his eyes. The laugh Jimin gives in return is so worth it. He wants to hear that again and again and again.

After the tell-tale rattle of some ice inside of a cocktail shaker, Jungkook opens his eyes to see a warm, amber drink in a whiskey glass.

“So this is the result of you psychoanalyzing me?”

“Basically,” Jimin says with a mischievous little grin.


And of course, Jimin makes him some adult apple juice.

“I can’t believe you just did that.”

Jimin’s eyes sparkle as he laughs, “I can’t help it, I saw the recipe online and I immediately thought of you.”

“You know me too well,” Jungkook drawls, rolling his eyes. He presses his lips together to show his disapproval, but he can’t keep the smile from erupting on his face.

Jimin says softly, “not well enough.”

Something shifts in this moment. It’s like the goddamn stars aligned. Jimin’s looking so perfect smiling to himself as he fiddles with a bar towel. The bar lights make him look impossibly soft, and just having Jimin beside him—not across the bar counter or across a study table, but right beside him just like when Jimin subbed for Yoongi that day—something about it felt so right. He’s close but something's itching inside Jungkook, wants him to pull Jimin even closer. Everything's hazy, white noise behind the pounding of his ears, behind the low thrum of the blood rushing in his veins.

He dips his head in for a kiss without even realizing it.

Jungkook feels Jimin’s body start, and he draws away quickly.

“Sorry, that wasn’t okay, I didn’t realize—”

Jimin interrupts him by dragging Jungkook’s head down with an arm. He kisses Jungkook back and it’s more than anything he could ever ask for. Jimin’s lips are soft and plush and they fit so damn perfectly against Jungkook’s own. Jungkook forgets to breathe.

When Jimin breaks the kiss after a moment, Jungkook’s pulled roughly out of his daze.

Jimin gives him a quick peck on his lips out of apology.

“Took you long enough,” Jimin mutters.

Jungkook pulls him in for another kiss, eager for more, and Jimin lets out a breathless laugh against his lips.

Jungkook learns that he can’t rest his hand against Jimin’s neck because he’s really ticklish there (he still feels the throbbing pain from where Jimin’s forehead connected to his chin). Jungkook also learns that Jimin really likes it when he nibbles on his lower lip. And that Jimin lets out the best moans and sighs when Jungkook plays with his hair, shivers when Jungkook's hand travels down his rib cage.

Jungkook can’t wait to learn so much more.

 


Bonus:

“Remember that drink I made you? With the gin and the brandy?”

“Yeah? What about it?”

“I lied.”

“Huh?”

“I know what it’s called.”

“Jungkook.”

"..."

"Jungkook."

“Hm?”

“Jungkook. What’s it called.”

“...Angel Face.”

“...oh my god, you sap.”