The first time it happens—they’re two dumbasses going stag to their high school winter formal.
“This is officially the gayest thing we’ve ever done,” says Jimin, adjusting his corsage.
“Whatever, you’re the one who wanted to save money by purchasing the couples tickets.”
“Are we ready?” The camera man eyes the pair of them apprehensively. They’re the only same-sex couple in the room, and it’s glaringly obvious. Teachers, chaperones, students, pretty much everyone attending the Candy Cane Lane Ball is looking at them. On any other occasion this kind of blatant ostentatious display would have been Seokjin’s idea but no. This one had actually been Jimin’s.
(“You’re gay, I’m gay, no one wants to date us, why not go together?”
“Where to start. My dignity? My reputation? Perpetuating the stereotype that the only gay guys within a square mile radius have to be dating each other?”
“The tickets are discounted when you buy as a couple, you know.”
And well, Seokjin’s a broke-ass high school student. He could hardly say no to that.)
“Well, are you ready?” The camera man isn’t even trying to mask his annoyance. “What’s it going to be? Charlie’s Angels handguns or a jumping mid-air pose?”
That, more than the standoffish looks from peers and teachers, makes something stubborn rise in Seokjin. It’s the tone. The flippant pose suggestions. The blatant implication that he and Jimin are going to pose like they’re Just Guys Bein’ Dudes because they couldn’t get a date with a girl.
(It’s technically true, but there is a difference. There is a difference between two stag straight guys going together and two stag gay guys, and it’s a difference that’s written all over the photographer’s face. Keep it PG, the face says. No Homo.)
Seokjin doesn’t like being told what to do in any capacity. Certainly doesn’t enjoy being told “no”.
“Calm down Ansel Adams,” he snaps, then, with his most theatrical voice, “Darling,” to Jimin. He may be seventeen and really in no position to be blatantly flamboyantly gay at this stage in life (High school sucks, period. High school while gay sucks even more) but he no longer cares. “My dear darling boyfriend, may I do the honors?”
In one swift movement Seokjin sidesteps behind Jimin to place his hands lightly at Jimin’s waist. Then, maintaining direct eye contact with the photographer, he pulls Jimin flush against him, standing close so that there is no mistaking the connotations of this relationship. They’re gay. G-A-Y.
“What are we going for here?” Jimin murmurs. “Brokeback Mountain or The L Word.”
Seokjin’s mouth twitches. “Okay, baffled at how we would re-enact a pose depicting Brokeback Mountain that wouldn’t get us absolutely kicked out of here, but let’s bookmark that for later. Titanic, dear Jimin, Titanic.”
He waits for Jimin to get skittish and call the whole thing off. Jimin’s not exactly shy but he’s shy about some things. Seokjin expects him to become aware of the eyes in the room because he’s a punk-ass sophomore who talks a big game. But Jimin doesn’t balk. Jimin swings his arms straight out to the side. Leans into Seokjin’s chest like he was born to do this. Like he’s fucking Kate Winslet and he’s out to get his goddamn Oscar or die trying.
“Let it rip, Ansel,” he says dreamily, and Seokjin has to try really hard not to crack the fuck up.
God. It’s why Jimin’s such a good friend to have. He doesn’t think, doesn’t question. Just sees whatever wild shit Seokjin is doing and thinks of five other ways to take it and run with it and make it even wilder. He’s a terrible enabler and wreaks absolute havoc on Seokjin’s impulse control. What an upstanding citizen.
The shitty wallet-sized polaroid comes out great, both of their expressions blissed out and completely enamored. Definitely gay. Jimin holds up the slowly transforming photograph underneath the twinkling dance floor lights, grinning wide. “Oh my god, I need like a scan of this ASAP. I’m going to print out a hundred of these and shove them in all my homophobic family’s medicine cabinets during holiday dinners. This is fantastic.”
They look certifiably ridiculous. Seokjin laughs so hard he cries, hanging off Jimin’s shoulder as much as Jimin is hanging off his.
“We have to do it!” Seokjin bellows, tripping over his broken flipflop as it dangles from his foot, almost eating shit on the deck. “It’s tradition!”
Jimin trips after Seokjin, laughing so hard he’s hardly able to stand up straight, half empty bottle of wine clutched in his hand. “Fine! Jeonggukie, take the picture for us!”
Seokjin’s a steady drunk, a giggly drunk, but he laughs all the time as it is so sobriety doesn’t change much of his behavior. Still, it takes him a second to find his footing, get all the way over to the bow of the ship, take Jimin gently by the hand.
“Are they okay?” A concerned booze cruise attendant walks by. “They’re not gonna jump, are they?”
“Please, just ignore them,” Hoseok sighs, flopping into one of the deck lounge chairs as Seokjin and Jimin get into position. “They’ve been doing this for three years now. It’s kind of their thing. I’m tired. I’m TIRED, YOU FUCKS,” he shouts at their backs. “Nothing. God. I’m dead inside.”
The attendant backs away very slowly.
“You’re just jealous because no one holds your hands and makes you feel like you’re flying,” Jimin shouts.
“Excuse you, yes I fucking do.” Hoseok blinks. “His name is Yoongi, and he’s the wind beneath my wings every goddamn day.”
“Babe,” Yoongi’s ears are pink. “That’s gross. I’m not drunk enough for gross.”
“Well I’m drunk enough,” Hoseok replies.
“You’ve had one beer.”
“I said what I said.”
“Anyways,” Seokjin shouts. “Before our fun was so rudely interrupted—Jeonggukie, please be the James Cameron to our Kate and Leo.”
Jeongguk takes a photo with his phone and then giggles impishly. “Oops, that was a selfie.”
It takes several more minutes, much more haranguing from Hoseok and Yoongi, until finally, after five drunken attempts to turn the flash on, Jeongguk gets the pic. It’s a bit blurry and ghoulish—Seokjin mostly in dark, arms spread wide, eyes closed in bliss with Jimin behind him, arms wrapped around his chest, grinning stupidly into Seokjin’s shoulder—but it’s still undeniably cute. Still quite gay.
Their friends drunkenly swagger down the stairs below deck, but Jimin and Seokjin remain.
“You know what’s weird.” Jimin’s breath is warm against Seokjin’s ear, a contrast to the cool night air.
“Other than the fact that we’re doing the Titanic Pose on a boat that’s currently at port and not moving?”
“Yeah. Weirder than that. We’re not actually re-enacting the whole scene. Like, the actual iconicism of the scene.”
“Iconicism. Big word for someone on a booze cruise.”
“I haven’t had nearly enough shots to warrant total lack of braincells. You mistake me for Hobi-hyung.”
“Fair enough. So, we’ve got the pose wrong?”
“Well.” Here Jimin’s voice goes low, careful. “You know what happens next, right? In Titanic?”
It’s not that Seokjin’s body breaks out into a cold sweat, it’s just that he suddenly feels a bit chillier than he was moments ago. Because he does know what happens next. Titanic may have been a massive borefest to watch (fourteen year old Seokjin had taken one look at Kate Winslet’s naked body and figured if that wasn’t going to do it for him, no woman’s body would) but he still remembers what happens next. “What—you want me to jump into the icy water and die?”
“I’m not talking about the end of the movie, hyung.”
“Right.” Seokjin’s mind lurches forward like a high-speed locomotive where someone’s gone and pulled the emergency break, so everything’s just sort of halted and screeching. “Right. Silly of me.”
So he finishes the scene. So he tilts his head back and kisses Jimin. It’s not a big deal. Their entire group of friends kiss on the cheeks and peck on the lips on the regular. It’s not weird. Nothing about this is weird. Okay, maybe the part where Seokjin’s dick is suddenly at half mast but. The rest of it. Definitely not weird.
Seokjin pulls away, watches Jimin’s eyes flutter open prettily a few seconds later. No offense, but Leo DeCaprio’s baby blues have got nothing on the asymmetrical dark warmth that lies in the eyes of Park Jimin.
“That all you got?” Jimin pouts. It’s an admirable pout. A worthy opponent to Seokjin’s pout, which is objectively the best pout. A thought crosses Seokjin’s mind to measure the pouts up against each other. To mash them together, maybe. A pout measuring contest.
(No. That’d be too much. That’d be crossing a line. That wouldn’t be anywhere near the realm of their carefully established Definitely Not Weird.)
“Baby.” Seokjin grins, the several drinks he’s had mixing both pleasantly and unpleasantly in his stomach. “You aren’t ready for all I’ve got.”
Jimin shoves Seokjin away with a roll of his eyes. The cold air seems to rush in to fill the space. Seokjin hates that he notices it.
“Yah, so full of yourself hyung.”
Sleazy line? Check. Odd moment locked back in its proper place? Check. Successfully killed boner? (…almostnearlycloseenough) Check.
“Bet you won’t be so cocky when I challenge you to a game of Flip Cup,” says Jimin with a smirk. “You always lose.”
Seokjin narrows his eyes. “That’s because you always put me on a team with Namjoon and Jeongguk, asshole. One cannot flip a cup to save his life, and the other flips his cup into the fucking stratosphere.”
It makes Jimin laugh, which is good. Seokjin can handle Jimin’s laughter, loves it even. Gets a secret thrill of being the one who makes Jimin laugh the hardest, even though that’s always been the case wherever he and Jimin are, even though that’s been the case since before college. And that’s weird to think about and be proud of, but he’s drunk, so it’s fine. He can take a secret and selfish thrill in that laughter.
“So that’s a yes?” The teasing in Jimin’s voice is impossible not to respond to, even as he turns to saunter away.
Seokjin sucks the cold night air into his lungs and follows Jimin below deck. “You’re on.”
Yoongi and Hoseok were the ones who chose to have their honeymoon on a cruise, so really, this isn’t anywhere near Seokjin’s fault.
“It absolutely fucking is,” Yoongi glares. “I told you which cruise and when I was booking in confidence, you sadistic fuck.”
“Look, you and Hoseok have the entire wedding suite to yourself. We’re on the other side of the boat. You don’t even have to interact with us. I’ve done nothing wrong!”
“So you’re saying you didn’t tell Jimin, who ‘randomly’ got the idea to book the exact same fucking cruise on the exact same fucking dates just for shits and giggles?”
“I…might have let it slip.” Seokjin cringes. “Sorry. In my defense, I think the kids felt left out.”
“I wasn’t under the impression that by marrying one of our group I was marrying all of our group.”
“Well that’s on you, Yoongi-yah. You should have read the fine print.”
“Unbelievable,” Yoongi mutters. “Fine. Hoseok and I just won’t leave our rooms and we will order room service the entire week.”
“Really? Because there’s Karaoke every night on the Blue Deck that I figured we’d—,” A flat look from Yoongi cuts him off. “You know what, fair. I deserved that. I’ll keep everyone out of your hair. Enjoy all the boring married couple sex.”
“Thank you,” Yoongi says. “We shall.”
Lucky for Seokjin, he doesn’t have a hard time keeping the gang busy. The cruise is packed and there are tons of activities to do every hour, on the hour. Most of them are really awkward and corny and involve some form of song and dance, but every time Taehyung or Jeongguk or even Namjoon get a remotely wistful let’s go see what Yoongi and Hoseok are up to face, Seokjin shouts out whatever random activity he can from the itinerary, and they go.
When all else fails, there is always alcohol.
He manages to keep the pack distracted for at least the first few days of the cruise, but by the final night Yoongi and Hoseok emerge from all their honeymooning because, as much as they want to deny it, they missed their friends.
Which obviously means Taehyung has to get his camera to commemorate, takes shots of them as they drink their way through several expensive bottles of wine, lounging about on the deck chairs and staring out into the dark.
The cruise is fucking eerie at night, deck mostly empty, stars not visible from here. It’s eerie to stare into the dark beyond the lights of the boat. It seems impenetrable. Consuming. There’s some metaphor in here about uncharted waters and the fear of the unknown but Seokjin is far too tipsy to think of it.
Then Jeongguk steals the camera from Taehyung’s hands, starts snapping more candids at rapid fire. Seokjin, never one to be caught off guard and looking less-than-attractive in a photo, grabs Jimin’s hands and loops them around his waist.
(He hasn’t been avoiding Jimin on the cruise. They’re sharing a room, a bed, together after all. It’s just that Seokjin looks at Jimin and sometimes Jimin looks back and Seokjin thinks something’s coming. In kind of an excited way but more of a terrifying way like the Jaws theme starts playing in his head. Not that Jimin is the giant deadly shark in this but that’s the sense of foreboding Seokjin feels. Something’s coming. Something’s about to change. He just doesn’t know what.)
They finish their Titanic pose and Seokjin’s still staring off into that endless black at the rail of the ship, all their friend’s laughter in the distance, Hoseok’s shriek, Yoongi’s goblin cackle. He’ll never fucking admit it, but he’s glad he casually mentioned the cruise dates to Jimin. It’d been a calculated and chaotic risk and Jimin, as always, rose to the occasion. And everything turned out alright.
“They’re really happy,” whispers Jimin.
“Yeah.” Seokjin sighs. “You were right about booking the cruise tickets. I should never have doubted you.”
“I knew they would miss us too much,” says Jimin smugly. “I am always right.”
“Hm. What a horrible notion.”
Jimin laughs, shoulders shaking against Seokjin’s chest.
This is nice. This moment is nice. But already Seokjin can feel the shift of intention, the intake of breath as—
“Hey.” Jimin’s grip on his arms tightens. “Do you ever think—”
“Never,” Seokjin cuts him off, and Jimin throws his head back in laughter.
“I’m serious. You ever think about getting settled down?”
“Sometimes? Maybe? I don’t know.” Seokjin shrugs, feeling vaguely uncomfortable as he answers the question. “If I settle I don’t necessarily want to slow down, you know?”
“How do you mean?”
Here, an opportunity for a joke about always wanting to look young and beautiful so as to fuck everyone’s dad. But something about Jimin’s voice feels important. So Seokjin finds himself answering straightforward, for once.
“Like. I see so many friends of mine that get married or become committed to someone and become almost these lesser versions of themselves. As if they have to make room for the other person in their lives so they cut off pieces of who they are. Hobi and Yoongi aren’t like that, thank god, but. You know what I mean?”
“Yeah.” Jimin frowns. “I think I do.”
“It’s not that I don’t like dating and don’t think about getting married,” Seokjin continues, unable to shut up. “It’s more like, the people I have been with ask me to change, and not in good ways. Want me to act more mature or stop making so many jokes. They want me to be less, and maybe that worked on me when I was younger and stupid and wanted to badly to be loved but. Not anymore. If I’m going to ‘settle down’ I don’t want to slow down, you know? I want to continue cavorting about like the fucking chaos gay that I am, and I want someone who’s going to cavort along with me.”
No response. Jimin looking down Seokjin’s hands, settled around his middle. He taps his fingers along Seokjin’s wrist, like plays a scale across his skin, like he’s parsing something out and doesn’t want Seokjin to see it.
Then, like he’d never paused or hesitated at all, “I like this.” Jimin leans back against Seokjin, tips his head back on his shoulder, smiles up at him with wine-dark lips. “We should do stuff like this more often.”
“Crashing our friends honeymoon and being general nightmares?”
“More cruises. More trips. More travel. More extravagant champagne with strawberries ordered to the room and luxurious overpriced spa treatments. I want—,” Jimin cuts off, bites his lip. The look he gives Seokjin is a few shades of shy, and not a look Seokjin sees often. “I want to do more stuff like this with you.”
“What, matching me shot for shot at our favorite dive bar isn’t doing it for you anymore?”
Jimin laughs. “I will always be there to drink you under the table but, no.” Jimin shakes his head. “I like our dive bars. I’m just saying that this is nice too. Trying something new on for size.”
There’s weight in the words as Jimin says them, but Seokjin can’t see Jimin’s face and Seokjin isn’t looking back to show his so the brief glance of panic that skitters over Seokjin’s spine—oh god oh fuck what the hell what’s going on hELP ME—is there and gone in a flash.
Then Jimin is sighing, stepping out of the circle of Seokjin’s arms. His face looks like it’s glowing under the warm yellow deck lights of the cruise. All the black behind him makes him look like a painting, like an angel on canvas, like something too good to be true.
“Come on. I heard there’s an LGBT Mixer happening that’s been double booked at the same time as the Senior Citizen Piano Sing-a-Long.”
“Oh, that sounds absolutely abhorrent.” Seokjin grins. “Which duet shall we sing?”
“A Whole New World. Duh.”
Gutterball is the worst dive bar slash bowling alley Seokjin has ever been to, hands down. The bathrooms are permanently out of order. The karaoke nights somehow always end up in brawls, and the pool tables are slightly tilted. The floor sticks to your shoes when you walk on it and everything is covered in either peanut shells, spilled beer, or man sweat.
It’s fucking disgusting. The building deserves to be condemned and torn down. Jimin loves it.
“Drink up sluts.” He sets a round of shots on the table, sliding them down to all their friends. “Tonight, we die like men.”
“Can’t I just take a shot of a tequila sunrise or something?” Taehyung cringes at the clear liquid in his shot-glass. “This looks hazardous.”
“Don’t worry baby, it’s water,” Jimin snickers, ducking when Taehyung swats at him.
There’s no reason for this particular visit. Well, there is in the way of Seokjin and Jimin haven’t been here since getting together, so it felt about time to visit. But sometimes after a long week in adulthood it’s just good to say, “Let’s get fucked” and come to Gutterball. They’re probably too old to be the kind of people that do this, but Seokjin doesn’t necessarily feel too old.
Yoongi and Hoseok are, maybe. But that’s what boring married couples like them do. They have missionary sex with the lights off and go to bed at 9 p.m., as far as Seokjin is concerned.
“Hey, I think we’re gonna head out soon,” says Hoseok, some time later and—see? Point made.
“Fine, hyung and I are going to the photo booth. Bye losers. Get home safe.” Jimin waves.
Seokjin lets himself be dragged, a pleasant amount of shots in. Not wasted, but solidly drunk, that warm happy feeling where everything’s a little bit funny and you’re so loose and relaxed. He lets Jimin’s tiny hand wrap around his and tug him through the bar, past where Namjoon is trying to play pool with Taehyung and Jeongguk and they are very obviously scamming him by pretending they don’t know how.
He plops with an oof when Jimin pulls him onto his lap, both of them giggling. The photo-booth is cramped and small, with a curtain over the doorway, tucked away in the video arcade corner of the bar alongside the pinball machines and air hockey. Jimin shamelessly gropes Seokjin’s ass for a second as he searches for his wallet. Seokjin sighs, content, tilting his head to look at their image reflected back at them in the screen.
“Do you even have to ask?” Jimin inserts his credit card into the payment slot, selects the number of photos to take.
They Titanic pose for the first two, dramatic and cracking up, sweetly peck on the lips for the third, and then Seokjin pays for the next round, the poses getting dumber every time, contorted faces and caught mid-laughter. The photos come out a little blurry from all the movement and commotion but their smiles are full and beaming. Gross.
“I think everyone’s left, hyung.”
Seokjin shivers. The bar will be closing in about an hour. He can’t hear Namjoon’s voice anymore so yeah, they probably took off the second they realized they weren’t being fed shots anymore by Jimin.
“Mm,” hums Seokjin. “Let’s just stay a sec.”
Jimin leans his head against Seokjin’s shoulder, nuzzling and affectionate. Drunk. Seokjin does it back, because that’s the fun of being playful with Jimin. Every gesture returned in full. Mutual piggy back rides and matching each other shot for shot at their favorite dive bars. Telling jokes till Jimin laughs so hard he cries and then only taking mercy when Jimin at last touches him, grips his arm while he begs and wheezes.
Dating Jimin’s not so different. Scarier. A new vulnerability that Seokjin feels like he has to choke down some days but worth it. Jimin is worth it.
They sit and breathe, then Jimin lifts his head with a soft grin. His smile is a beautiful thing. For most people it’s swoon worthy, knee-buckling. To Seokjin it just feels warm and good. Like coming home at the end of a long exhausting day, sinking into the couch. The smile with the crooked tooth, the little dimple to the right. Jimin, for all the ways that he is small, feels so absolutely larger than life to Seokjin when he smiles.
“You’re my favorite person,” says Seokjin, simply, and means it. His drinking buddy, his partner in all chaotic gay crime.
Jimin’s eyes are big and shining. He brushes his nose to Seokjin’s. “Yeah, hyung? You’re mine too.”
It all goes to hell in a hand basket rather quickly after that. Which, Seokjin supposes, is what happens when you drunkenly kiss your drinking buddy slash boyfriend in a photo booth.
And then it’s suddenly a lot all at once. It’s Seokjin turning, it’s Jimin leaning, it’s their lips meeting in the middle, a combination so sweet that Celine Dion might as well be belting in the background. Seokjin turning, shamelessly straddling Jimin’s firm thighs, their mouths catching over and over again. Jimin’s tiny cute hand pulling viciously in Seokjin’s hair, mouth tasting like honey-whisky and fireball. Just the right amount of messy and dirty and perfect.
“Wait wait wait,” Seokjin gasps, around the same moment Jimin tongues lasciviously at his pulse point, feeling woozy and euphoric. “Jimin-ah, fuck, stop that, we cannot have sex in a photo booth.”
“Why not,” Jimin whines and grinds upwards, grinning impishly. “I’ll buy another round of photos. Could be fun.”
God. Jimin’s the craziest motherfucker Seokjin’s ever met.
“Fine. Handjobs only.”
“You don’t count hand jobs as sex?”
“Not when I can give myself one at any time.”
“Well, clearly you’ve been getting the wrong kind of handjobs.” Jimin cocks his head, eyes glimmering. “What you need is a hella handjob, hyung.”
“A hella handjob.” Seokjin must have some sort of contorted The Scream face because Jimin doubles over in his laughter, forehead banging Seokjin’s shoulder.
It’s a stupid kind of fun with Jimin always. Stupid silly crazy fun kind of love.
“You’re the craziest motherfucker that I have ever met,” Seokjin says the repeated thought out loud, like he’s not undoing the belt buckle on Jimin’s jeans. “I’m so into you it’s fucking unreal.”
“Likewise,” laughs Jimin, kissing at Seokjin’s throat, reaching for the button on his pants and jamming his debit card back into the Purchase Photos Here slot.
“Just one more.”
“C’mon, please?” Jimin begs.
“God. For fuck’s sake. You gave me a look book of eighty-six poses and it’s your fucking engagement shoot,” Taehyung complains. “We’ve been here on this romantic beach pier since sunrise and it is now noon. Please have mercy on me.”
“I’m sorry, are we not generously compensating you for your work?”
Taehyung kicks childishly at the sand. “No.”
“Good, then shut the fuck up. What’s next on the list?”
Taehyung scrolls through his phone and sighs. “Titanic.”
“Ah, of course.” Seokjin nods, stepping behind Jimin with a wink. “A classic.”
Out of all eighty-six poses Jimin and Seokjin picked—Charlie’s Angels, Brokeback Mountain, The Silence of the Lambs, to name a few—Titanic’s the one that turns out the best. When Taehyung sends them the proofs a few days later, and they spread them out all over the floor as they eat breakfast. In the photo, Jimin’s got his head tipped all the way back, smiling serenely, eyes closed, committing to the pose as dramatically as possible. It would be silly, only Seokjin’s looking down at Jimin with so much tenderness in his eyes that the whole photo, widespread arms and all, doesn’t look silly at all. Not one bit.
“Good god,” says Jimin, curled up on Seokjin’s lap, munching on a piece of toast. “This is a new level of gay. And that’s saying a lot, considering it’s us.”
“It’s like, exponentially gay.”
“Gay to the 10th power.”
“Really quite proud of us.”
“Poor Taehyung. We should tip him for his sacrifice.”
“Already sent him double what he billed us for.” Seokjin yawns, tucks his chin over the top of Jimin’s head. They’ve got wedding invites to send out soon. It’s going to be a whole morning of licking envelopes and writing out addresses. His hand is already cramping in protest.
“Can’t wait to get this picture screen printed on souvenir t-shirts for everyone at the wedding. Hey.” Jimin prods Seokjin’s shoulder. “What if instead of putting them on everyone’s seats we got a t-shirt canon and fired them at the tables, right in the middle of dinner?”
“Better yet. T-shirt canon and we print out a dozen or so wallet sized ones of the different poses that people can take home with them. Like trading cards.”
“I like the way you think, hyung.” Jimin’s eyes sparkle, they positively dance, and Seokjin feels himself sink into that smile like the damn Titanic itself. Their lips meet, and it’s just total destruction, but in the good way. In the non-icy water death way. In the best way. “I like the way you think.”