It’s a typical day in the marketplace. Vendors are hawking their wares, shouting over each other to ensure the potential customers walking by that, no, really, their prices are the best in town. A group of screaming children are racing down the street, playing with some bauble their parents purchased for them. There’s a pair of women in fancy dresses with parasols, giggling behind their hands when a handsome gentleman walks by and tips his hat with a smile.
Said handsome gentleman turns to look at the ladies as they walk to the next stall, and Yoongi takes the opportunity to relieve him of his coin purse.
Like he said, typical day.
Yoongi cuts through the crowd, counting out the gold he just received. Only five pieces, a measly sum for such a rich looking guy to be walking around with.
Jungkook is going to give him so much shit for misreading his mark.
He tosses the empty purse on the ground and shoves the gold into the pocket of his threadbare trousers, weaving his way over to a food stall. The smell of cooked meat makes his mouth water.
“Hey, hey, keep your grubby hands to yourself, thief,” the vendor says, shooing Yoongi away from his stall.
Yoongi holds his hands up in mock surrender. “Look, I’ve got coin this time. I just want some food.” He makes a show of fishing four coins out of his pocket, holding the pieces in his palm.
“Can I get two lamb shanks, please?”
The vendor holds out his hand, and Yoongi hands over the coins. He pockets it before handing Yoongi a single piece of meat.
“Hey, I gave you enough money for two!”
“And I know you stole this from someone. Now take off before I call the guards.”
“That’s not fair! I paid you, and I expect to get what I paid for.”
“Too bad, street rat. Now bugger off.”
Yoongi looks just past the man, widening his eyes and giving a barely imperceptible shake of his head. Barely, but enough that the man would notice.
And he does. He whirls around, thinking Yoongi is trying to communicate with someone behind him, and Yoongi takes the opportunity to snatch a giant turkey leg before he takes off, weaving through the crowd again.
“HEY! STOP THAT THIEF!!” the man yells after him. He hears shoving, followed by the clanking of armor clad footsteps, but Yoongi doesn’t slow down, moving out of the congested marketplace and down a side alley.
He zigzags through the city, ducking in and out of alleyways and cutting through back gardens. The guards are far behind him now, but he doesn’t take any chances. He finally comes upon his little ramshackle home, a rundown wooden structure tucked against the city wall.
“Took you long enough,” Jungkook greets as Yoongi tosses the lamb shank at him. “Thought the guards caught you again.”
“Nah,” Yoongi says, settling on a threadbare blanket and digging into his own meal. “Did get caught stealing, though, had to take the long way around.”
“What happened this time? Someone catch you with your hand around their purse?” Jungkook asks around a mouthful of meat.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Yoongi admonishes him, but Jungkook just shrugs. “I made off with the guy’s coin just fine, just… the stupid butcher stole my gold. I paid for two cuts of lamb, but he only gave me one. It’s bullshit, gold is gold, why should he care?”
“Why bother paying at all? Just steal it like we always do.”
“Taking a purse is much easier than stealing from a stall, you know that. Besides,” Yoongi says, making a vague waving gesture in his hand in the direction of the marketplace. “I wanted to be able to shop like anyone else. Who cares where I get the gold from?” He takes a bite of turkey a little more aggressively than necessary. “A street rat’s gold is still gold.”
“Yoongi,” Jungkook says softly, and Yoongi wants to shove the lamb in his mouth just so he doesn’t have to hear him speak in that soothing tone he gets whenever he’s trying to make Yoongi feel better. Yoongi is the oldest, dammit, that’s his job.
“You can’t let that asshole get to you. Whatever he thinks about you is wrong. Whatever anyone in that marketplace thinks about you is wrong. I’m the only one that matters to you, therefore my opinion is the only one that matters.” Jungkook nods, like that’s that. "Fuck what anyone else thinks. You’re twice the man they’ll ever be.”
Yoongi bites the inside of his cheek to keep the tears from springing to his eyes. It’s true that Jungkook is the only person that matters to him, has been since Yoongi found him on the street, dirty and starving. Yoongi was a teenager, and had already been eeking out a meager living for years since his parents passed away. Jungkook was just a kid, another little orphan, like him. Yoongi had taken one look at those huge doe eyes and ended up giving him the piece of bread he had worked so hard for.
Jungkook hasn’t strayed from his side since.
“Alright now, don’t get all sappy on me,” he says, trying his best to sound annoyed. Jungkook just smiles, so Yoongi reaches over to ruffle his hair. “Thanks kid.”
Jungkook finishes his lamb shank pretty quickly, so Yoongi hands over his half-eaten turkey leg. He tries to wave it away, but Yoongi insists that he’s full, and that if Jungkook doesn’t eat it then all that running Yoongi did would go to waste. Jungkook finally eats it after that.
“I think I’m going to walk around the market,” Jungkook says after he finishes eating.
Yoongi slots open one eye from where he’s curled up on the pile of straw he calls a bed. “Don’t do anything stupid. And don’t do anything to that vendor. I mean it, Jungkook.”
“Fine, fine,” Jungkook waves Yoongi off as he leaves their little hut, stretching his arms above his head. “Enjoy your nap. I’ll be right back.”
Yoongi just hums, already half asleep.
A moment later he’s being jolted awake by someone shaking his shoulder, and he rolls away from them on instinct, ready to be on his feet and running before he even opens his eyes.
“Yoongi!” Jungkook exclaims as Yoongi finally gets his bearings. “Yoongi, it’s me. You’ve gotta come see this.”
Jungkook is moving away before Yoongi can ask him what’s going on, so he has no choice but to follow, blinking blearily as he tries to get his mind to catch up to what his body is doing.
“Jungkook, what’s happening?” Yoongi asks as they turn down a side street.
“You’ll see,” Jungkook replies, grinning, and Yoongi does not like that, not one bit.
But he doesn't ask any more questions, knows it would be useless with Jungkook so determined to keep it a secret. Best not to spoil any fun for the younger.
The street they’re following spills out into the marketplace, and Yoongi is confused as to why it seems so empty. There are empty stalls with no vendors, wares unguarded, and Yoongi finds himself veering off towards the jeweler’s stall.
“No, not right now. You have to hear this,” Jungkook says as he grabs Yoongi’s wrist and drags him to the opposite side of the market where a crowd has gathered. The people in the crowd are murmuring excitedly, snippets of conversation that Yoongi can’t quite catch.
The town crier stands on his pedestal, reciting the news from the day.
“Duke and Duchess Alfons are pleased to announce the birth of a baby girl, Lady Elizabeth Marie Scarlett Alfons. This happy news comes almost two years to the day since their second eldest son was killed in a duel-”
“Jungkook,” Yoongi hisses. “Did you seriously wake me so I can hear about the birth of some royal brat? Do you think I give even the tiniest little shit about what happens in that-”
Jungkook shushes him with a hand over his mouth. “Listen.”
“Lastly, I would like to repeat the announcement made on behalf of Lord Park,” the crier says before clearing his throat. “‘As many of you may be aware, I have yet to be married. I am eager to be betrothed, but have yet to find someone I would like to spend the rest of my life with. Therefore I have devised a game, and a rather simple one at that. I have attached to my lovely cat’s collar the key to the front door of my home. The first person to collect the key and open the door will be the one I will marry. Good luck.’”
Jungkook looks at Yoongi excitedly.
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “Yoongi, Lord Park. As in Park Jimin.”
Yoongi just continues to stare at him, eyebrow cocked. “Yes, I know who he is.”
“Okay, now you’re just being pig-headed to irritate me, aren’t you?”
“Jungkook,” Yoongi starts, moving away as the crowd begins to dissipate. “What’s your grand plan here? You want to marry Lord Park?”
“No. I can help you catch the cat, then you can marry him! We won’t have to steal our supper ever again. Besides,” Jungkook says with a grin, and Yoongi just knows he’s not going to like what comes out of his mouth next.
“Don’t act like you don’t go all starry eyed every time you see him.”
Jungkook laughs, hopping up on a low stone wall as they make their way back to their home. “Oh yes you do,” he says, arms out to keep his balance. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed the way you stop what you’re doing to watch him as he walks by. Then that one time we saw him giving gold to the beggars in the marketplace? Honest to god, I saw hearts in your eyes.”
“Shut up,” Yoongi says, pushing Jungkook, hoping to knock him into the flower bed. It’s not even enough to knock him off balance, the jerk. “Even if I did look at him like that, it doesn’t mean I’d want to marry him.”
“Jungkook,” Yoongi snaps. “Drop it.”
He does, and the two walk in silence the rest of the way home.
Yoongi immediately feels guilty for losing his temper, because the truth is, Jungkook is right. Yoongi knows he has stars in his eyes for the young noble, but honestly, everyone does. It’s hard not to look at Park Jimin, not to hear him laugh or watch him smile, and not fall head over heels in love with him.
He’s easily the most beautiful person Yoongi has ever seen, with his plump lips and sharp jawline. He carries himself with an air of grace and sophistication, and he looks intimidating, every bit the highborn he is, until he smiles. Then his eyes disappear and his cheeks puff up, and Yoongi remembers the first time he saw it. His chest ached so much he thought he was having a heart attack.
And it would be easy if Park Jimin was just good looking. Yoongi could easily just enjoy the way he looks without wanting to talk to him, to know anything about him. He’d be content to just watch him as he walks by. Something pretty, but of no use to him. Like the gardens that bloom in the springtime.
But he’s not.
He’s everything good in this little shitty world Yoongi lives in. He smiles at highborns and lowborns alike, greeting them as if they were old friends. He never passes by someone begging on the street without giving them something. Usually it’s gold, but Yoongi once saw him take off his fur cloak to wrap it around a young woman shivering in the snow, before ushering her inside a little cafe to buy her something warm to eat.
He once even saw him arguing with a guard who had caught a man stealing his purse. Jimin had told the guard that it was a mistake, that the man had found his purse and was bringing it back to him. Nevermind that the guard caught him going the opposite direction. The guard didn’t even argue, releasing the thief and apologizing for the mixup. Jimin had smiled at the guard and thanked him for looking out for everyone. The guard had blushed to the tips of his ears.
Jimin ended up giving his purse over to the thief anyway.
So really it’s no surprise that Yoongi is a little in love with a man he’s never spoken to, a man who has no idea he exists. Maybe Jungkook is right, maybe he should try to join in the game. He has just as much a chance of winning as anyone else.
But Jimin is beautiful, and kind, and deserves better than some thief living on the street. He knows he can’t tell Jungkook that, because he’ll just be supportive and will try to talk Yoongi into playing. He’ll try to convince him with some ‘it’s about what’s in your heart’ bullshit that Yoongi knows he can be easily swayed with.
No, better to just not think about the stupid game at all.
It turns out that not thinking about the game is easier said than done.
It’s a couple of days later, and Yoongi is sitting in one of the little parks that dot their town, watching the aristocrats mill about and trying to pick his mark for the afternoon. The park is small, centered around a fountain, around which a group of children play, splashing each other until their mothers call them to their side.
The entire town had been abuzz about Jimin’s announcement, but nobody had seen the cat anywhere. The current gossip was that the game was fake, just a rumor started by Jimin to force one of his suitors’ hand.
Yoongi had scoffed at that idea. If someone courting Jimin was stupid enough to drag their heels like that, they deserve to be pushed out anyway.
He finally spots a potential mark, some earl that Yoongi has never bothered to learn the name of. He’s the son of some well-to-do family, a fucking spoiled brat. Yoongi has seen him smacking beggars with his fancy cane more than once.
Yoongi’s gonna enjoy taking his money from him today.
It’s as Yoongi is getting close to him, dagger in hand to sever his pursestrings, that he hears it.
Everybody in the park seems to stop what they’re doing, looking around for the sound. It doesn’t take them long to spot the source.
There, sitting on the wall surrounding the fountain, is a little calico cat. Its head cocks to the side, and Yoongi swears it locks eyes with him, like it knows what he was about to do.
The cat meows again.
Earl Whatever the Fuck is the first to approach the fountain, steps slow and measured. The cat just watches him curiously, tail flicking behind it. It doesn’t move, and Yoongi wants to yell at the cat to fucking run, because the earl is an arm’s length away and this game is about to be over before it really began.
The earl lunges for the cat, but the cat easily hops out of the way, and he ends up landing in the fountain with a resounding splash.
The cat still sits on the wall, watching the man as he surfaces, sputtering and cursing as he tries to get the water out of his eyes.
Yoongi loses it. He starts laughing, small little chuckles that turn into full belly laughs that have him doubled over, hands on his knees and tears streaming down his face. The cat is looking at him again, and Yoongi wants to give it a freaking hug.
“You little shit,” the earl says, but if it’s to the cat or Yoongi, he’s not sure. He lunges for the cat again, who deftly hops off the wall and onto the dirt path, just out of reach.
Then, all hell breaks loose.
Everyone leaps into action as the cat darts around the park. Men in nice waistcoats and breeches dive onto the ground, coming up with nothing but grass stains and a face full of dirt for their trouble. A woman with a parasol tries to herd the cat towards a group of men, but the cat breaks off at the last minute, causing one of the men to tackle the poor woman to the ground, her skirt flying up and revealing her underclothes.
And in the midst of it all is Yoongi, sitting on the fountain wall and laughing at the spectacle playing out around him. Every highborn that was strutting around with so much dignity earlier has been reduced to a dirt covered madman, practically feral as they chase the cat around the park.
Finally the cat seems to have had enough, and it quickly climbs a tree. One man climbs after it, getting pretty close before the branch beneath him breaks, sending him tumbling to the earth below. Luckily, the other branches broke his fall somewhat, so only his ego is battered and bruised.
Most of the people in the park give up after that. Yoongi assumes they go home to clean up and lick their wounds, so to speak, but a couple of men stay, pacing back and forth under the tree. Yoongi waits, and watches, and after about an hour those men also give up, leaving the park with nothing to show for their hard work except dirt stained clothing.
Yoongi realizes he’s alone in the park, it’s almost sunset, and he was so wrapped up in the whole cat debacle he forgot to steal from someone. His stomach growls, a reminder of what he was supposed to be doing.
He hears a soft thud next to him, and looks over to see the cat walking along the fountain wall. It stops a couple of feet from him, hazel eyes trained on him in amusement. Yoongi can see the silver glint of a key nestled against its fur.
“I think you enjoyed that a little too much,” Yoongi says, smiling when the cat just meows back.
He feels kinda silly, talking to a cat, but this will probably be the closest Yoongi ever gets to talking to Jimin, so he doesn’t stop.
“It’s good you didn’t let that earl catch you,” Yoongi continues, leaning back on his hands. “He’s an asshole. Treats anyone he thinks is below him like crap. Which is everyone.” Yoongi looks over at the cat, mock scowl on his face. “I was about to steal from him when you made your dramatic entrance, by the way. Now I’ll have to find someone else to buy my supper.”
The cat meows again, and Yoongi swears it almost sounds disapproving.
“Oh please, you can’t possibly know what it’s like to go hungry. I bet you eat fresh fish out of a bowl of fine china. You’re Park Jimin’s cat, and if he treats you half as well as he treats people like me, you’ve got it made.” Yoongi stands, and the cat takes a step back like it’s getting ready to bolt.
“Relax, kitty,” Yoongi says, holding his hand up. “You’ve got nothing to fear from me. I won’t try to catch you.” He walks a couple of steps away before turning around, surprised to see the cat still watching him. “But hey, if you could ever distract some of these rich snobs so I can borrow some coin, I’d really appreciate it.”
The cat meows again, almost like an agreement.
Yoongi leaves the park, smiling to himself. He’s smiling the entire way home, even through the hunger he has gnawing at his belly. Luckily it seems Jungkook has had better luck, and they split a piece of bread, still warm from the oven. Jungkook must have run like hell to get this back here so quickly.
Jungkook tells him about the people he saw searching for the cat, at how half the vendors in the market didn’t even open up their stall today. He asks Yoongi if he saw anything, and Yoongi just shakes his head.
He’s afraid Jungkook will try to convince him to join the game again, so he just says, “Everyone is saying it’s just gossip, that Jimin never intended for his cat to wander the streets like that.”
Jungkook shakes his head. “There’s no way he would lie. Just you wait, we’ll see the cat soon enough.” He laughs. “I can’t wait to watch all these people tripping over themselves to be the first one to get the key off its neck.”
Yoongi huffs a laugh, but doesn’t say anything.
Jungkook has no idea.
After that day, Yoongi sees that damned cat everywhere.
Well, he shouldn’t call it a damned cat. It’s actually been pretty helpful.
Whenever it makes an appearance, it calls attention from everyone. More than once it’s climbed a tree, doing nothing but sitting on a branch and grooming itself as a crowd gathers around it. All eyes were skyward, so nobody noticed Yoongi as he picked their pockets.
Actually, Yoongi has been doing pretty well since the cat showed up. More people are focused on the game than on their own person, and Yoongi has managed to collect quite a bit of gold. Not enough to afford a house or anything, but enough that he and Jungkook don’t have to worry about where they’re going to find their supper for the foreseeable future.
And call him crazy, but he swears the cat is in on it. More than once it seems like it picks a mark for Yoongi. It’s always some haughty noble, with more coin than sense, that the cat stays just out of reach of, until Yoongi takes his purse, and then the cat leaps away.
Jungkook has even gotten in on it too, and the cat helps him as well. Only when Yoongi is around though, like it doesn’t quite trust Jungkook yet.
This goes on for weeks, and Yoongi has never been more entertained. Part of him wonders how long this game will continue, but he's not going to worry about it for now.
Yoongi is leaning against a building, watching as the cat paces along a high wall across the street. On the other side is a man holding a fish head, wrapped in a handkerchief. Yoongi has to hand it to him, he’s surprised any man born into money would do something so disgusting. But given the terrible grimace on the man’s face, Yoongi would guess he’s not very happy with the situation.
Jungkook is a few feet behind the man, half hidden in the shadows of a building, waiting for the perfect opportunity. Jungkook has always been more rushed, more impatient, and Yoongi is glad to see him taking his time.
It’s as Jungkook is coming out of the shadows that he sees another man slinking along his side of the wall, out of sight from the cat. He’s got a burlap bag in his hand, gaze focused on the little calico.
The cat is too focused on the man below it, meowing and swishing its tail as the man comes closer with his piece of fish held out in offering. It doesn’t even see the other man with the sack until it’s too late.
The man swings the bag over the cat, capturing it with a triumphant shout. The cat yowls in panic, clawing at the burlap as the rich man hastily drops his fish head and races towards his partner.
Yoongi doesn’t think twice.
He darts across the street, narrowly missing get hit by a carriage, and rams into the man that captured the cat. The hit takes him by surprise and he slams against the wall, dropping the sack. The cat races out of it right as the rich man and Jungkook come racing around the wall.
“Run,” Yoongi says, looking between the startled cat and Jungkook. “Run!”
They all take off in separate directions. The cat sprints across the street and over a wall, disappearing into a back garden. Jungkook races up the street and down a side alley. Yoongi hops the wall next to him and races down the side street Jungkook had been waiting in.
He hears pounding footsteps behind him and he makes a sharp turn, hoping to lose them through a private garden around the corner. His heart drops when he sees the gate is shut, but he can't exactly turn back the way he came. He tries to climb the iron bars, but he’s having to be careful not to fall on the sharp ends and it’s slowing him down.
Slowing him down too much.
He’s almost over the fence when he feels an iron grip on his ankle and he’s being tugged down onto the hard stone below.
“You little shit,” the rich man says, sneering as his friend, who’s fucking huge, Yoongi just now realizes, stands over him. “That cat was as good as mine, and you ruined it!” he screams, stomping his foot.
Yoongi laughs at the childish display, a little kid that has had his toy taken away. That is until the man nods to his friend, and Yoongi is being hauled up by a meaty fist gripping his tunic.
He sees the punch coming, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Pain explodes across his cheekbone with the first hit, and he tastes blood on the second. By the fourth he’s pretty sure his nose is broken. After the fifth punch the hulking man drops him to the ground, giving him a few kicks to the gut.
“Enough,” the rich man says, sniffling behind his handkerchief. “If you kill him it’ll just cause more problems for me. Just leave him.”
Their footsteps fade away, leaving Yoongi sprawled on the hard stone, broken and bleeding.
Yoongi groans, curling in on himself as pain shoots like lightning across his face and abdomen. His stomach is rolling with nausea, and he tries his best to lie still and not throw up. There’s blood caking his upper lip, and he reaches up to weakly wipe it off with the back of his hand.
Once the nausea finally subsides, and the pain in his side feels less like it’s going to rip him apart, he sits up, leaning against the gate behind him, one hand braced on the stone beneath him. He has to get up, he has to go home. Jungkook will be worried, or what if those guys come back?
C’mon, Yoongi. Stand up. You’ve taken harder hits than this. Stand up.
But he can’t. Everything hurts, and his head feels like it’s going to explode, and he just cannot bring himself to move right now.
And then he hears a tiny meow.
He turns to see the little calico slinking towards him, looking sufficiently guilty. At least his scrambled brain thinks it looks guilty.
“You’re getting sloppy,” he says, groaning as he adjusts how he’s sitting. He leans his head back against the gate, staring at the sliver of blue sky he can see in between the buildings. “Not that we don’t appreciate the help, but all this teasing and playing around is going to get you caught.”
He hears another plaintive little meow, and then feels something warm butt against his knuckles.
He looks down, surprised to see the cat nuzzling against the back of his hand. After all this time they’ve spent around each other, this is the first time the cat has ever let him within arm's reach, let alone let him touch it. He holds his breath, slowly rotating his hand until it’s palm up. The cat doesn’t hop away, or hiss, or anything that Yoongi is expecting.
Instead it just watches, hazel eyes locked with Yoongi’s own as Yoongi tentatively scratches underneath its chin. The cat closes its eyes, purring as Yoongi gently scratches from its chin to one of its ears and back down again. His fingers hit the leather collar around the cat’s neck, and he follows it to the key. He rubs his finger over the warm metal, suddenly very tempted.
But he can’t do it.
He gives the cat one more little pet between its ears and stands, groaning as his sore body protests the movement. The cat meows again, and it sounds like a question.
“Gotta get home,” is all he says, gritting his teeth as he takes a painful step forward. “Jungkookie is probably worried sick.”
The cat follows him down the alley, hopping up on the wall it was on earlier, where it was when this whole mess started. It watches Yoongi as he walks down the street, and when Yoongi looks back before turning a corner, he swears it almost looks… sad.
Jungkook hovers over Yoongi for a week after his altercation with the rich asshole and his huge friend.
It’s not really necessary. Yoongi looks a lot worse than he feels. He has bruises blossoming across his face, one on his left cheek and the other across the bridge of his nose. The swelling around his nose has finally gone down, so at least Yoongi can breathe again, and his split lip has healed.
Then there’s the mottled purple bruises that wrap around his waist, from his bellybutton up to his ribs. Those hurt the most, making every inhale feel like he's being stabbed with pins and needles.
Jungkook was fuming, that blank, silent anger that spelled disaster if he were to go out unsupervised. So Yoongi doesn’t protest as much when Jungkook cleans his face, or waits on him hand and foot. He doesn’t let Jungkook out of his sight, playing up how injured he is, knowing Jungkook wouldn’t want to leave him alone.
He’s been hurt way worse, but Jungkook doesn’t need to know that.
Only when Yoongi can finally see that Jungkook’s anger has lessened, that he’s not going to do anything stupid, like get into a fist fight in a misplaced attempt to defend him, that he lets him go out.
“We almost have enough gold to buy new winter clothes and boots, and I’d like to have them before the first cold snap hits. I promise I won’t be gone for long, okay? You’ll be alright while I’m gone?”
Yoongi waves him off. “I’ll be fine. Don’t get caught. And don’t cause too much trouble.”
“Don’t worry,” Jungkook says, grinning. “I won’t get into any more trouble than you do.”
Yoongi doesn’t want to say it out loud, but he’s worried about the cat as well. He hasn’t seen it, what with him being practically bedridden, and he wonders if it’s been caught yet.
He hopes it hasn’t.
He dozes on his little straw mattress, only being roused to the sound of Jungkook coming home.
“Wake up, Yoongi,” he says, gently smacking Yoongi’s thigh. “I brought dinner.”
Yoongi sits up, gingerly rubbing at his eyes as he listens to Jungkook pad around their little home.
“Also brought a guest.”
Yoongi's eyes snap open at that, gaze instantly landing on the calico sitting right in front of him.
It meows, standing up on its hind legs, little front paws braced against Yoongi’s chest. It sniffs Yoongi’s face, whiskers ticklish against his skin.
“I’m okay,” Yoongi coos. He scratches behind one of its ears before running his hand down its back. “I’m okay.”
The cat lets out a soft meow before rubbing its head on the underside of Yoongi’s chin. It finally settles in his lap, and Yoongi smiles, stroking its soft fur.
“Yoongi, what the hell?”
He looks up at Jungkook, who’s frozen where he stands, holding two plates of food. His eyes are wide, looking from Yoongi, to the cat, then back again.
“Yoongi,” he says again.
Yoongi just shrugs. “I think it likes me.”
Jungkook sits the plates down between them. “No, I got that. Take the key.”
“Can’t,” Yoongi lies as he takes a bite of what looks like beef. It’s tasty, so tender it practically melts in his mouth as he chews. “It hisses and tries to bite when I touch its collar.”
“Oh really?” Jungkook asks, tone disbelieving. “You’ve tried?”
“Yes,” he says at the same exact time the cat meows.
A very distinct meow that almost sounds like no.
“Take the key.”
“I’m not taking it,” Yoongi says, tone final.
But Jungkook isn’t dropping it, not this time.
Jungkook groans, rubbing his hands over his face in irritation. “The cat is right there, it’s practically asking you to take the key. You haven’t hurt it, you haven’t tricked it, just take the goddamn key!”
“I already told you no,” Yoongi snaps, irritation rising. He runs his fingers through the cat’s fur, trying to calm himself. “Dammit, Kook, I don’t want the fucking key.”
“What, you don’t want a chance to get off the streets?”
“You don’t want a chance to have a better life, to not have to wonder where your next meal is coming from? You don’t want money, the chance to walk down those streets and know you’re just as good as anyone else?”
“But I’m not!” Yoongi yells, startling both Jungkook and the cat. “I’m not like any of those people, Kook. I’m nothing, just trash that was left on the street.” His eyes well with tears, and he knows he can’t do anything to stop it. He looks down at the little calico in his lap as the first tear rolls down his nose.
“I’m nothing,” he whispers, but it sounds deafening in the quiet of their little home. “I’m just… I’m an orphan and a thief, and I am nothing. But Jimin, he-” Yoongi sniffles, rubbing the cat underneath its chin. “He’s good, you know? Not like he’s nice or he helps people, he does, but he’s just. Good. He’s every little good thing about life rolled into one beautiful package. He’s big smiles and breathless laughter, and warm tea and soft words. I don’t even know him but he’s just so… good.”
“Yoongi,” Jungkook murmurs, reaching out to take his hand. “You’re good too. You are. You took me in when I was an orphan. You fed me and took care of me when you could have just walked on by. How many times did you go hungry because you weren't able to steal enough for the both of us, but you refused to let me go to bed with an empty stomach? How many times did you let the guards catch you so they wouldn’t catch me? How many punches have you taken because you had to save me from trouble?”
Yoongi shrugs, sniffling. He’s still looking at the cat, at the patterns of black and white and orange that swirl over its fur.
“Yoongi, look at me.”
Yoongi does, a fresh wave of tears coming when he sees Jungkook is crying too.
“You are good,” he says, voice breaking. “I wish you could see that.”
The cat meows between them, leaning up to nuzzle Yoongi’s chest.
Jungkook huffs a watery laugh. “The cat certainly sees it. If Jimin’s cat thinks you’re good enough, I’m sure he would too. Isn’t that right, kitty?” He asks, gently patting the top of the cat’s head.
It meows in agreement, and Yoongi laughs too.
“Come on,” he says to Jungkook, pushing his plate towards him. “Our food is gonna get cold.”
Jungkook takes a breath like he wants to argue again, but finally he just sighs, leaning back to pick at the food on his plate.
They eat in silence, with Yoongi occasionally offering bits of meat to the cat, which it eats happily. It’s purring in Yoongi’s lap as they finish their dinner, eyes closed and content.
“You really should think about it,” Jungkook says. “I know what you want to say, but you should give Jimin a chance to know you. Let him see what I do.”
“I know,” Yoongi murmurs.
“So you’ll consider it?” Jungkook asks, hopeful.
Yoongi sighs. “No. So let’s just drop this. Please.”
Jungkook looks disappointed, but he doesn’t try to argue again.
“Okay,” he says quietly.
Jungkook puts their little wooden plates away before busying himself for the night with trying to patch his worn shoes. He works quietly on his side of their home while Yoongi watches the cat asleep in his lap, the silence broken up every now and then by Jungkook’s gentle humming.
He thinks about taking the key from the cat’s neck, about opening Jimin’s front door. He wonders what he would think when he sees Yoongi crossing his threshold, cat on his heels. Would he be happy? Or would he be disappointed, trying to cover it with a smile?
And how would Yoongi fit into his world? Yoongi, who can barely read or write, who’s never eaten a meal using proper utensils. Who can't remember sleeping in a bed that wasn’t made from straw. Socializing would be awkward, considering Yoongi has stolen from half of the nobles in this city. And it looks like Jimin thrives on socializing.
His head hurts, a mix of crying and thinking too hard and probably some residual pain from the beating last week. He wants to sleep, but the cat is still curled up in his lap, and he doesn’t want to disturb it.
“Hey,” he whispers, quiet enough he doesn’t think Jungkook can hear him. He taps the cat on the head, and is rewarded by the cat stretching lazily, head resting on his knee as it opens its eyes to look at him.
“It’s getting late,” he tells the cat. “Time for you to go home. Jimin is gonna be worried if you stay out all night.”
The cat studies him for a second more, and Yoongi is afraid he’s going to have to physically remove the cat from his lap, which sounds terrible because it looks so comfortable, but finally the cat stands, back arching in a stretch before it moves off of his lap.
It quietly pads out of Yoongi’s home, glancing back at him one last time before it disappears into the night.
Yoongi watches it as it goes, and for a few moments after he can no longer see it.
He glances over at Jungkook to find him watching him, face carefully blank.
“Goodnight, Jungkookie,” Yoongi says, rolling over in his bed and pulling his blanket up to his ears.
He hears Jungkook sigh. “Goodnight.”
Yoongi wakes up the next morning to a bright light and whispering voices.
Wait, only one voice, just one half of a conversation.
He sits up, blinking at the bright light shining on his face. It must be almost noon, and he’s surprised Jungkook hadn’t woken him up. He stands, stretching as he walks out of his home and towards the voice he heard earlier.
“Jungkook?” Yoongi calls as he walks outside, looking around. He spots Jungkook squatting on the ground at the corner of their little shelter, and he stands as Yoongi approaches.
“Ah, I was wondering when you were going to wake up,” Jungkook says, turning to face him. He’s smiling, hands tucked into his pockets, and Yoongi is instantly suspicious.
“Kook, what are you doing?”
“I just came up with a way to solve our money problems for life,” he says, grin getting bigger. He pulls his hand out of his pocket, holding up the cat’s collar, key glinting in the bright sunlight.
That’s when Yoongi notices the cat behind him, stretched out on a soft patch of grass, soaking in the sun.
“I told you, I’m not-”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jungkook cuts him off, tossing the key and collar into the air and catching it. “You’re not gonna marry Jimin. I don’t want to marry him either. So,” he catches the key in his hand one more time. “I’m going to sell it.”
“You’re going to what?!”
“Sell it,” Jungkook repeats, shrugging. “The cat let me get close enough to take it, I guess it trusts me because it trusts you. So I took it. And since you’re not gonna use it, I’m gonna sell it. Just think of how much money we’ll get from this.”
Yoongi stares at Jungkook, convinced he’s mishearing everything. “Jungkook, do you hear yourself? We can’t sell it! That’s like selling Jimin himself to somebody, I won’t do it.”
“Good thing you won’t have to. I already have a buyer lined up, I’m going to meet him now,” Jungkook says, starting to walk past Yoongi. “See you when we’re rich!”
Yoongi moves in front of him again. “No, absolutely not.”
“Yoongi, I’m doing this with or without you. Now move.”
“Get out of my way,” Jungkook growls, and tries to push his way past him.
Yoongi shoulder checks him, spinning him and knocking him off balance. His hands fly out to keep from falling, and Yoongi snatches the collar from his grasp. He holds the collar in front of Jungkook’s face.
“I’m putting this back on the cat, and then you and I are going to have a very long discussion about what the fuck you were thinking,” he snarls, absolutely seething. He's never been so furious at Jungkook before. He takes a breath to try to calm himself before he goes over to the cat, who’s just been watching this entire exchange take place.
“Here, kitty, this belongs to you,” he says softly, kneeling down to place the collar back around the cat’s neck.
Except instead of coming up to him, the cat backs away, hissing and swatting when Yoongi reaches for it.
“What the hell…”
“Huh, would you look at that?” Jungkook says from behind him, sounding way too pleased with himself. “It’s almost like the cat wants you to take the key.”
Yoongi clenches his jaw, turning to stand and face Jungkook again. He’s still standing where Yoongi left him, a shit eating grin on his face. Fuck, he’s a better actor than Yoongi gives him credit for.
“Are you serious? This was your plan, to make me take the key so now I have to open Jimin’s door? You realize I could just hide this somewhere and never use it, don’t you?”
“Except you won’t,” Jungkook says, walking over to Yoongi as he talks. “You won’t hide it here, cause our place isn’t exactly secure. You won’t hide it somewhere in the city, cause there’s always a chance someone will stumble upon it. You could throw it in the canal, I guess, but someone might see you do it and dive after it.”
He comes to a stop in front of Yoongi, eyes twinkling with mischief. Yoongi wants to smack him.
“You could keep it on your person at all times, but someone is bound to notice that you have it. Plus, I’ve heard that there are a bunch of pickpockets around this town,” he continues, grinning even wider. “No matter what, that key won’t be safe, not for long.”
Yoongi huffs a laugh, equal parts irritated and oddly proud, thumbing over the key in his palm. “You really thought this through, huh?”
Jungkook shrugs. “Gotta think through all the options, that way they can’t surprise you.” He nudges Yoongi’s shoulder. “I learned that from you.”
Yoongi nibbles at his lower lip, studying the key. “Jungkookie….” he starts.
“Don’t,” Jungkook says, grabbing Yoongi by the shoulders. “Whatever you’re thinking, don’t. Just… let yourself be selfish, for once in your life. Please.”
He feels something nudge his calf, and he looks down to see the cat leaning against his leg. It meows up at him, its own tiny form of encouragement.
“Fine. Okay, I’ll do it.”
“Yes!” Jungkook says, fist pumping in excitement. “Let’s go!”
“Wait, now?” Yoongi asks, surprised as Jungkook starts pulling him away from their home. “But, but look at me!”
Yoongi gestures to his threadbare breeches and tunic, to his bare feet. He’s got smudges of dirt on his legs and arms, and he just knows he has straw sticking out of his hair. He always does when he first wakes up.
Not to mention the bruises on his face. He looks like bad news.
“You’re fine!” Jungkook says, not slowing down as Yoongi uses his free hand to comb through his hair, removing a piece of straw and trying to style it into something that’s not a tangled mess. “I’m sure Jimin has a tub as his place, you can wash up there.”
“But… but…” Yoongi says, trying to stall, but Jungkook isn’t swayed. He leads him through the city and onto the main street, past grandiose homes and fancy storefronts. Jungkook marches him straight up to the Park mansion, planting him by the front door.
The cat had run ahead, but Yoongi can see it now, pacing along the upper balcony. He looks at the key in his hand, and back up to Jungkook.
Jungkook is looking around them and glances back at Yoongi nervously. “You better hurry up, before someone comes over here and takes that from you.”
Yoongi looks over his shoulder to see that they’ve attracted quite a bit of attention, and he is scared someone will come over here and take the key from him. He takes a deep breath, nodding once to Jungkook, then he’s sliding the key in the lock, turning it with a click.
“Go on. I’ll see you later, okay? Come back home and tell me all about it.”
“Okay,” Yoongi says, still a little struck that the key actually works, and he’s about to step into Jimin’s house. Which means he’s going to marry Jimin.
He pushes against the door and it swings open. He gives Jungkook one last look, ignoring the loud murmuring behind him as he tentatively steps into the cool interior of Jimin’s house. The cat is close on his heels, and he lets the door swing closed behind them, cutting off the sounds from the street.
Everything in his house is so bright. The floor is white marble, extending before him and past a grand staircase, ending at two glass doors that overlook a massive garden. There are rooms on either side, and he catches a glimpse of a piano in one and massive bookshelves in the other before the cat runs past him and up the stairs.
“Hello?” he calls out, half expecting his voice to echo in the huge home. It doesn’t, and despite how big it is, it doesn’t feel overly grandiose. It’s simple. Or, at least, as simple as a home owned by one of the richest people in town can be.
He doesn’t hear anyone, so he follows the cat up to the second floor, calling as he goes.
“Hello, is anyone home?”
He follows the cat along the landing. “Hey, where’s your owner? If anyone comes in here, they’re gonna think I’m stealing something,” he hisses.
The cat just meows, walking down a hallway that leads deeper into the house before disappearing around the corner.
Yoongi follows, overwhelmed by everything he sees. There are vases with flowers on every available surface, to the point where it feels more like Jimin lives in a greenhouse. There are paintings on the wall that, even to Yoongi’s untrained eye, look like they were painted by the same artist, as well as a few mirrors. Yoongi steadfastly avoids looking into those as he walks by.
He turns where the cat did and gasps when he steps into a large bedroom. A magnificent four poster bed dominates the room, red fabric draped over the dark wood. The sheets on the same deep red, and shimmer like water where the sunlight hits. Yoongi wants to run his fingers across it.
The rest of the furniture in the room, a little vanity, a bookshelf, and a large wardrobe, are all made out of the same dark wood, and while Yoongi thinks it would look imposing in any other home, the sunlight streaming through a large bay window and the flowers dotted across the room make it feel cozy and comfortable.
Plus the room doesn’t look perfect. It looks… lived in. There’s jewelry and makeup thrown haphazardly across the vanity, books on the floor near an overstuffed chair in the corner. The bed isn’t even made, the duvet laying in a crumpled heap in one corner, like Jimin had kicked it off in his sleep and hadn’t bothered to put it back.
And there, on the edge of the bed, sits the little calico, watching Yoongi as he takes in the room.
He gently places the collar and key on the vanity and looks at the cat, feeling lost. “Now what?”
The cat leaps in the air towards him, and Yoongi takes half a step forward, ready to catch it as it flies towards his chest.
But as the cat is in midair, its form shifts, so when it lands less than a foot from Yoongi, it’s tall, standing on two legs.
And it isn’t a cat at all.
It’s Park Jimin, looking absolutely stunning in a white flowy shirt and black slacks.
"Shit!" Yoongi curses, stumbling backwards and into the vanity, yelping as perfume vials and makeup containers go skittering across its surface and onto the floor.
Jimin giggles. “Sorry. If you can’t tell, I like my dramatic entrances.” He cocks his head at Yoongi, a smile still on his face.
Yoongi just stares, open-mouthed at Jimin.
What the fuck?
He remembers what small amount of manners he has and shuts his mouth with an audible click of his teeth.
“Hello,” Yoongi says, surprised at how strong his voice sounds when his heart is thudding so fast and loud in his chest he’s sure Jimin can hear it. If the sight of the cat turning into a human out of nowhere wasn’t enough to get his heart racing, Jimin being less than five feet in front of him certainly does the trick.
“It’s, um, nice to meet you.”
Jimin positively beams at him. “It’s nice to meet you too. Well, I mean, meet you as me.”
Yoongi nods slowly, peeling himself off the vanity and taking a step closer to Jimin.
“You were the cat this entire time?”
Jimin nods. “Yeah. I thought this would be the easiest way to see how people are, really are, when they think nobody’s looking. Everyone always acted differently around me, like they didn’t want me to see who they were.”
“That makes...sense, I guess. I just meant...You can turn into a cat?”
Jimin giggles again, and the sound makes Yoongi’s head spin. “My bloodline has magic. A lot of magic. A long time ago that’s how we made our fortune, selling potions and poisons or offering to perform spells or curses. We don't do that anymore, well, not on such a grand scale, anyway, but our magic still manifests itself in other ways. I’ve got a cousin who can make plants grow with a touch of his hand.”
“Huh…” Yoongi says, because, honestly, what else can he say? He’s standing here, talking with Park Jimin, in his own house. Honestly magic pales a little in comparison to that.
“So, um, what happens now? I… why me?”
“I would like to get to know you,” Jimin says, spinning one of his rings around his finger, a nervous habit that Yoongi picks up on immediately.
“Or, I guess, I would like you to get to know me . I… I sort of know a lot about you. I know that you’re a thief, but you only steal from people who wouldn’t miss it anyway. You take care of Jungkook like he’s your brother. You didn’t see marrying me as a ticket off the streets.”
Jimin steps closer, reaching out to hold one of Yoongi’s hands. “You saw me as a person, not as money or a title or a trophy. You saw me, and you protected me from people who would have just used me. Jungkook was right, Yoongi. You are good.”
Yoongi swallows, mouth suddenly dry. He looks down at their hands, cheeks burning when he sees how dirty his skin is in comparison to Jimin’s. But Jimin doesn’t seem to care, with the way he’s rubbing his thumb over his knuckles.
“I’d like to learn more about you,” Yoongi whispers, looking up at him. “I’d like that very much.”
Jimin grins, and Yoongi smiles back, wincing when the action makes his face hurt.
"Oh…" Jimin says softly, reaching up to touch Yoongi's face, delicately tracing the bruise over his cheekbone. "I'm so sorry this happened. You were right, I was getting sloppy."
Yoongi shrugs, cheeks on fire. "It's okay," he murmurs huskily. "It's not the worst beating I've ever gotten." He reaches up to wrap his hand around Jimin's wrist, holding him there. "And it was worth it."
“Yoongi,” Jimin sighs, before clearing his throat and taking a step back, removing his hand from Yoongi’s cheek.
Yoongi tries not to whine.
"Um, there are some things I wanted to discuss with you, and Jungkook,” he says, still holding onto Yoongi’s hand. “I can make us some tea and snacks. Do you want to go home and get him?”
Yoongi laughs. “Oh, he didn’t go home,” he says, walking with Jimin out of his bedroom and down the stairs. “He’s waiting across the street, probably, or maybe a couple of doors down. He won’t go far until he knows if everything has worked out or not.”
Jimin smiles again. “Well go and get him. I’ll meet you in the drawing room,” he says, pointing to the room on the right, the one with the piano.
Yoongi opens the front door, surprised to see that there’s still a small crowd gathered nearby, probably curious to know who was the one that unlocked the door. He spots a familiar face across the street, right where he thought he would be.
“Jungkookie!” he calls, and the younger startles before jogging over to him.
“Yoongi, what happened? Is everything okay?”
Yoongi grabs him by the collar and pulls him into the house, quickly shutting the door behind him. “Everything’s fine. Jimin wants to talk to both of us.”
“That’s good, right?” Jungkook asks, eyes wide as he takes in the grand entrance of Jimin’s house. “I mean, he didn’t throw you out, so I think it’s going better than you thought it would.”
Yoongi doesn’t answer, instead just pulling him into the drawing room, where Jimin is already waiting, setting out teacups and little cakes on a table.
“Nice to finally meet you in person, Jungkook,” Jimin greets him.
Jungkook bows, stiff and awkward. “It’s nice to meet you as well, Lord Park.”
Yoongi sits in a chair, stuffing a tiny cake in his mouth to keep from laughing.
“Oh, none of that,” Jimin says, waving off his bow and sitting on the settee across from Yoongi. “I want us to be friends. I think we could cause a lot of trouble, you and I,” he continues, eyes twinkling. “We already did a good job tricking Yoongi here to take the key.”
Jungkook looks between the two of them. “Huh? That wasn’t you, that was all me. It was my idea.”
“I helped. I’m the one that let you take the key in the first place.”
“Uhh…” Jungkook says, looking at Jimin with a confused and slightly worried look on his face.
“Jimin’s the cat,” Yoongi says, taking a sip of tea.
Jungkook laughs. “No he’s not.”
“Prove it,” Jungkook says, crossing his arms over his chest.
Jimin sighs, setting his teacup down. He folds his legs under him and then his form shrinks until it’s replaced by the little calico cat.
Jungkook’s jaw drops, and he plops down into the chair next to Yoongi, stunned.
Yoongi hands him one of the little cakes to ease his shock as Jimin shifts back.
“See? Wasn’t lying.”
Jungkook finally closes his mouth, still holding the saucer with cake on it. “Jimin was the cat?” He looks at Jimin. “You were helping us steal this entire time?”
Jimin blushes. “Well… yes.”
“Oh my god,” Jungkook says before shoving the piece of cake into his mouth. He moans. “ Oh my god.”
“Pretty good, huh?” Jimin asks as he pours Jungkook a cup of tea, who takes it with a small thanks. “So, I wanted to talk with both of you because I have a… proposition, of sorts.”
Jungkook snorts. “Do you want to marry both of us?”
Jimin rolls his eyes. “No. I just don’t want you two to be homeless anymore.”
Jungkook and Yoongi both pause at that, attention on Jimin.
“I can’t do something for Yoongi and not do something for you too,” Jimin says, looking at Jungkook. “You’re like brothers, and… well, you remind me so much of my little brother that I hate the thought of you living like you do.” He clears his throat, setting his teacup down.
“So, I have a proposal. I already told Yoongi that I wanted us to get to know each other better, and in the meantime, I’d like to offer both of you a place to live.”
“You want us to live here?” Yoongi asks.
“You can,” Jimin replies, “but you don’t have to. I have quite a few properties around the city. There’s also a carriage house behind mine, through the garden, that has a little apartment above it. That way…” Jimin blushes, nibbling on his lower lip. “That way, if things work out well between Yoongi and I and he moves in here, you won’t be far away.”
Yoongi and Jungkook look at each other. It would be nice to have a roof over their heads, an actual roof that doesn’t leak when it rains. And while living with Jimin sounds amazing, he hates the idea of Jungkook living alone in some big house on the other side of the city.
“We’ll take the carriage house, please,” Jungkook says before Yoongi can answer, taking another sip of his tea. He glances over at Yoongi. “If that’s good with you?”
Yoongi nods. “That’s good with me.”
Jimin claps his hands. “Excellent. Well, it’s yours starting today. I can show you around, and you can move your stuff in later. Oh, also, I have some clothes you can borrow. Jungkook, you probably won’t fit in mine, but a friend left some here that should fit well. There’s a bath in the carriage house for you to use.”
It’s a whirlwind after that. Jimin shows them their new home, which is slightly smaller but no less fancier than Jimin’s house. There is indeed a bath, complete with runes to heat the water.
“Magic,” Jimin had said, winking at Yoongi.
Jungkook and Yoongi each have their own bedroom, as well as a little kitchen and sitting area. There’s even a small library piled high with books.
Jimin brings them clothes and lets them bathe and change, and tells them he’ll see them inside the main house when they’re done.
Yoongi spends over an hour scrubbing himself and relaxing in the warm water, and once he comes out and changes, he hardly recognizes himself. The clothes look good, even if the fit is a little odd. The pants are a little loose around his legs, and the shirt a little tight across the chest and shoulders.
Still, they're beautiful and more grand than anything either of them had ever worn, and Yoongi spends a solid five minutes toying with the soft fabric of his sleeve.
He studies his reflection in the mirror, like he thinks this is a trick and that if he stares long enough the reflection will move, and Yoongi will be able to prove this is all fake.
“You go ahead and meet Jimin,” Jungkook calls from the bathroom, and when Yoongi peeks in Jungkook is still lounging in the clawfoot tub, suds in his hair. “I’m gonna be a little while longer in here.”
Yoongi huffs a laugh. “Don’t take too long. You’ll get all pruny.”
Jungkook gives him a mock salute before submerging himself in the water. Yoongi rolls his eyes, making his way through the house and exiting into the garden.
He walks into Jimin’s home and finds him sitting on the settee in the drawing room, book in hand. Yoongi clears his throat to get his attention.
“Enjoy the bath?” Jimin asks, smiling, looking up at Yoongi. He blinks, smile falling from his face.
Yoongi can feel his confidence diminishing, suddenly feeling very out of place in his fancy clothes. “No good?” he says with a laugh, trying to cover up how uncomfortable he feels.
“What? No, no,” Jimin says, standing to face Yoongi. “No, it’s just… you’re very handsome. I mean, I thought you were even with the dirt and the straw in your hair, but…”
He takes a few steps forward, reaching out to touch Yoongi’s chest. Yoongi doesn’t stop him, heart in his throat as Jimin strokes along his fabric clad collarbone.
“I didn’t realize how broad you are,” Jimin murmurs. “Those buttons are holding on for dear life.”
Yoongi reaches out and places a hand on Jimin’s waist, holding his breath when Jimin lets him pull him a bit closer, their chests almost touching.
"This 'getting to know each other' thing, are there any rules? Like, do I have to court you, officially? Cause I'm gonna be honest, I don't really know how to do that."
Jimin shakes his head. "Whatever you want to do, Yoongi. We can go at your pace."
"And if I said I wanted to kiss you?” Yoongi murmurs into the small space between them. “Is it too soon?"
"No," Jimin whispers, breath fanning over Yoongi's lips. "I've wanted to kiss you for weeks now."
Yoongi smiles, one hand coming up to cup Jimin's cheek and guide his face closer. It feels like a dream, but if it is he does not want to wake up, because Jimin is leaning closer, eyes closing as their lips brush together and-
"Oh, am I interrupting something?" a deep voice asks, tone laced with amusement.
Yoongi and Jimin spring apart as the newcomer chuckles. Jimin's cheeks are pink and Yoongi is sure his face matches.
"You know damn well you are, TaeTae," Jimin greets the stranger, not taking his eyes off Yoongi.
'Sorry,' he mouths before turning away and towards the source of their interruption.
Standing in the doorway is a tall brunette with a large smile on his face. The clothes he's wearing aren't as fancy as Jimin's, but they're nicely made and fit him well. Yoongi vaguely recognizes him.
"Taehyung, this is Yoongi. Yoongi, this is Taehyung. He is unfortunately my best friend."
Taehyung approaches Yoongi with a laid back smile. "Kim Taehyung, painter, sculpture, and all around family disappointment," he says jovially, bowing deeply to Yoongi, like he's meeting the king. "Nice to meet you.”
"Uh, likewise," Yoongi replies, a little taken aback by Taehyung’s introduction, and his overall presence. Taehyung is pretty, very pretty, in a way that is almost intimidating. That is, if his eyes weren't twinkling with mischief, and his smile wasn't so big it nearly splits his face. Then there is the yellow paint smeared under his jawline, which takes him from intimidating to downright endearing.
"Taehyung is very dramatic, and takes his job as black sheep of the Kim family very seriously," Jimin informs him with a laugh.
Taehyung just shrugs. "You say that like you're not the same."
"I don't take it quite as seriously as you do."
"Says the man who's marrying outside the aristocracy."
Jimin blushes, smacking Taehyung on the shoulder. "Shut up."
Yoongi hears footsteps behind him, and when he turns Jungkook is walking into the room, scrubbed clean and dressed in fine clothes.
"Ah, Jungkookie," Jimin greets with a smile. "Do those clothes fit you okay?"
Jungkook just nods, smoothing down the front of his shirt. The outfit Jimin gave him includes a pair of brown trousers and a white, flowy blouse. It almost looks like it was meant for a woman, but Jungkook fills it out nicely, and Yoongi is oddly proud at how natural he looks in fine clothing, like he was meant to be a prince this entire time.
"They're very pretty, Jimin," he says, smiling. "Your friend has very fine taste in clothes."
"Speak of the devil," Jimin says, gesturing towards Taehyung. "This is Tae, my best friend, and the source of that fine blouse you're wearing."
Jungkook grins at Taehyung, eyes disappearing. "Nice to meet you. I hope you don't mind that I borrowed your clothes."
A beat passes without a response, and when Yoongi looks at Taehyung his eyes are wide, a blush riding high on his cheeks. Yoongi tries not to snicker.
"Uh, y-yes," Taehyung stutters, looking for all the world like a frightened deer. "That's…yes, you're welcome. Hi."
Jimin giggles behind his hand, sharing a mischievous look with Yoongi.
"Taehyungie here is an artist," Jimin tells Jungkook, and Yoongi sees an opportunity.
"Oh, how interesting," Yoongi says, like this is new information. He looks at Taehyung. "Jungkookie here sketches sometimes."
“Ah, not really,” Jungkook says, cheeks tinged pink. “Little things on scraps of paper when I could find them.”
"Really ?" Jimin says, laying it on a little too thick. Luckily, neither of the other men seem to notice. "Taehyungie, you should show Jungkookie your paintings. I have them hanging upstairs."
"I'd love to see your paintings, Taehyung,” Jungkook says, beaming at him.
“Oh, yeah, sure, they’re, um... “ he gestures towards the door. “Right this way.”
Jungkook walks by Taehyung, a smile still on his face. Taehyung looks at Jimin, eyes wide and panicked, before following Jungkook out.
“Well,” Yoongi says, looking back at Jimin with his eyebrow raised. “That was certainly interesting.”
Jimin giggles, the sound like tinkling bells. “I have never seen Taehyungie act that way. And did you see the way he blushed? I bet you could fry an egg on his face. Your Jungkookie is gonna torture him.”
“Well,” Yoongi says, looping his arm around Jimin’s waist again. “It sort of serves him right, interrupting like that.”
“Is that so?” Jimin asks, cocking his head and letting himself be pulled closer. “Remind me never to get on your bad side.”
“Ah, well, I think that would be pretty much impossible,” Yoongi murmurs, cupping Jimin’s face. He strokes his thumb over his cheekbone. “If anything, with your background in magic, I should be the one watching out for you.”
Jimin smiles, hands settling on Yoongi's chest. “All I can do is turn into a cat, hyung.”
“Which still means I need to keep you from scratching up my furniture. Oh, wait, I have furniture now.”
Jimin rolls his eyes, but leans closer. “You’re ridiculous.”
“Says you,” Yoongi mumbles against Jimin’s lips, right before their mouths meet.
Jimin kisses like a rainstorm. Soft and sweet at first, gentle movements of his lips against Yoongi’s like the soft pitter-patter of raindrops. It already feels familiar, comfortable and easy. Yoongi sighs into this kiss, moving the hand on Jimin’s cheek to the back of his neck to curl in the short hairs there. He would be content to spend hours like this with Jimin in his arms, his lips moving against Yoongi’s like a sweet promise.
Then one of Jimin's hands moves to tangle in Yoongi's hair with a gentle tug, his tongue sweeping over Yoongi's lower lip.
Yoongi sucks in a sharp breath through his nose and opens his mouth, welcoming in Jimin’s tongue. Then it’s like a thunderstorm, shaking through him and leaving him breathless. Yoongi whines against Jimin’s mouth as Jimin crowds him against the wall, the front of their bodies melding together.
Yoongi’s poor mind is suddenly bombarded by several things all at once. The soft swish the silk makes as it rubs between their bodies, gliding across Yoongi’s skin like a whisper. The way Jimin gently sucks on Yoongi’s lower lip, humming like it’s the sweetest thing he ever tasted. The feeling of Jimin’s strong thighs, bracketed around one of Yoongi’s legs, the muscles bunching as he tips his body closer.
Yoongi feels desire like a hot lash down his spine, completely overwhelming him. He tightens his grip on Jimin's waist, gently pushing him away.
Jimin goes, but Yoongi is devastated to see a pout on that perfect mouth of his. He ignores his desire to kiss it away.
“I’m sorry, too much?”
“Yes. I mean, no, I just… I, um,” he looks down at their feet, nibbling on his lower lip. “I would really like to continue this, but my brother and your best friend are right upstairs.”
Jimin’s eyes widen at that, ears turning red. “I’d, uh, forgotten about them,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck. “Shall we sit?”
Yoongi nods, and Jimin takes his hands and leads him to the divan.
That’s how they pass the rest of the afternoon, Jimin curled up next to Yoongi, holding his hand and playing with his fingers as they talked. Jimin tells Yoongi about his childhood, about how he took over the family business after his father was lost at sea a few years ago. Yoongi had known the broad strokes, just because nothing happens to a wealthy family without the entire town knowing.
But it's different to hear the details. To hear how Jimin had been raised by nannies and governesses because his mother had passed away when he was young, and his father drowned his sorrow in his work. At how terrified he was to suddenly be thrust into the spotlight of his family's shipping company, but made it through with the help of a close cousin.
Yoongi, in turn, tells him what he remembers about his family - his mother pressing kisses into his cheeks and nose until he was breathless with giggles, his father's calloused hands hoisting Yoongi into the air, a deep booming laugh resonating within the walls of their tiny home.
At one point their conversation is interrupted by the reappearance of Jungkook. He's practically bouncing with glee, telling Yoongi that Taehyung has offered to show him his studio before disappearing again, an enamored Taehyung following in his wake.
Eventually Jimin asks Yoongi if he'd like dinner, and half an hour later Yoongi finds himself in Jimin's sprawling kitchen, watching as the younger chops vegetables to add to a stew.
Honestly, out of everything that's happened today, this is the one that Yoongi is the most thrown off by.
"I thought you'd have servants for this," Yoongi says, sitting at a well worn table in the corner. He'd tried to help three times, only for Jimin to finally point his knife in Yoongi's direction with a scowl, telling him to sit back down.
Jimin snorts. "I can take care of myself, you know."
"I know you can. I'm just surprised you don't have servants."
Jimin fidgets a little. "I mean I do. They just have today off."
“I knew it,” Yoongi says, grinning. “How many people do you have working here? I imagine a large house like this requires a lot of upkeep.”
“Yes and no. I’m the only one here, and I very rarely have guests that aren’t close friends that I wait on myself. I really only have… hmm, three people working here? Cook comes over to make breakfast and dinner everyday. She lives with her husband and their children a few streets over. Her baking is to die for. There’s Nari, my maid, but she only comes by a few times a week to clean, and in between when she’s here I clean up after myself. Jeonghan is my gardener, and he and his team are responsible for keeping up the grounds. I hire various other people as I need them: a chef and servers for the rare dinner party, carpenters when part of the house shows signs of wear. Otherwise it’s just me.”
Yoongi blinks, looking at him. He’d always imagined that Jimin, like every other rich person in this city, was constantly surrounded by people. Always throwing lavish parties that lasted well into the night, always surrounded by people waiting on him hand and foot. A house as large as this one, belonging to one of the most popular men in town, Yoongi thought it’d be loud with activity.
“Sounds lonely,” he finally says.
“It is,” Jimin agrees quietly, staring into the pot in front of him, wooden spoon stirring its contents. He sighs.
“I mean, I have Taehyung, and my cousin Namjoon and his husband Hoseok. Namjoon helped when I took over the family business.” Jimin looks at Yoongi and grins. “He’s the one that can grow plants.”
Yoongi gives a little ah in recognition.
“But… it’s not the same as having someone, you know? Taehyung is my best friend, but it’s just… it’s not the same.”
Yoongi quietly stands and pads his way over to Jimin. The younger doesn’t show any signs of noticing him, and Yoongi gently wraps his arms around Jimin’s middle, burying his nose in his hair.
Jimin sighs, relaxing in Yoongi’s hold and leaning against him.
“I get it,” Yoongi murmurs, voice a gentle rumble between them. “It’s just been me and Jungkook for years, and for a while that was all I needed. But I get it, wanting to have someone to spend your life with. Someone that you can call yours.”
Jimin stiffens a little, and when he speaks his voice is soft, timid.
“Yoongi… I want you to know that you don’t owe me anything, okay?” He is still facing away from Yoongi, staring at the pot over the fire. “I didn’t… I didn’t buy you,” Jimin continues, spitting out the word, his shoulders trembling. “You can never speak to me again and that would be okay, I would still do my best to help you and Jungkook in any way that I can, but please don’t think that you have to say or do certain things because I want it.”
Yoongi’s heart aches at Jimin thinking that anything he does would be insincere. He spins Jimin around, hands coming up to cup his cheeks.
“You don’t have to worry about that with me, Jiminnie,” he murmurs, thumbs tracing over the apples of Jimin’s cheeks. “You could be a poor street rat like me and I think I would still fall in love with you.”
Jimin’s eyes widen, and Yoongi belatedly realizes what he just said.
“I… I mean, not that - Not now, necessarily, but - I.. one day, you know...”
“Yeah,” Jimin laughs, giving Yoongi a gentle kiss on the nose. “I know.”