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They’re driving from Seoul to the sea, for a photoshoot, maybe. Jin can’t remember. He knows that the sky was orange, he had the windows down.

He’s in a car with a boy, and he doesn’t say he wants him, but that’s because he doesn’t, not yet. He won’t tell Joon that he makes him whole, not yet, because the rush of the wind in the windows in his ears is too loud, the hush of the road as the car roars, the wind roars, the sound of his heart roars, all can see is the sun on the tips of Joon’s hair, and that’s all right. For now.

Instead, Joon says “we could go anywhere in the world we want, you know,” a line of heat against his side. This was three weeks before they kissed for the first time.

“Anywhere?” says Jin.

“Why not?” Joon laughs.

He’s in a car with a boy, and he’ll go places with him, but not just yet. He’ll see what he sees. Jin doesn’t realise this yet. There’s only two years between them, seventeen, nineteen. He is young, and Jin’s young. He doesn’t know just how young they are until much later.

Jin bumps his knee against Joon’s, looking at him from beneath his fringe. “I don’t know, I – there are so many things I want, I can’t possibly have all of them.”

Joon watches, eyes trained to Jin’s face.

“Yes, you can,” he says. “I’ll give them to you.”

“Joon,” Jin says.

The sky is wide enough to drown in, and it’s the most beautiful thing Jin’s seen in a long time.

 

+++

 

It’s late summer in Seoul. Jin’s tired, and he’s older, much older. They’re about to start another world tour, another twelve months of cold hotel sheets, pixellated facetimes with his family. He’s laid on the leather couch in his flat, head lolling on the arm rest, face lit up by the talk show on the TV he's half-heartedly watching.

He's here, alone, the only light coming from the muted TV and the cigarette loosely held between his fingers, ash falling to the floor. Big Hit would cause so much grief if they found out about Jin's smoking habit, but he figures a few secrets are necessary to keep his own sanity in the long run. He picks lazily at cold fries on their plate on the coffee table and sighs. Jin admits to himself that this is probably what brooding feels like, and he probably looks ridiculous to anyone who might walk in. 

He sighs again, louder this time, and closes his eyes.

Jin wakes up abruptly to pitch darkness, the TV having been turned off and the curtain thrown over the window. It's silent save for the muted sounds of late night Seoul outside and his watch methodically ticking off the time. His eyes slowly adjust to the darkness and he realises someone is standing in the doorway, their silhouette a mass of black against the dark. Jin startles, his heart pounding.

They step forward after a few seconds and Jin lets out a rush of air he didn't even realise he was holding in when Namjoon's face moves from the shadow of the doorway. Jin tenses, like an animal about to flee or fight their way out. Silent, they stare at each other for a small eternity until Jin finds himself reaching a hand out in the space between them. Joon hesitantly steps from the doorway and crouches just in front of Jin, smelling like smoke and clean, cold night air.

He pauses for a beat and then slowly drags his hand across Jin's palm in the darkness, continuing up his arm and rests his palm on Jin's neck right over his pulse point, his fingers trailing fire on Jin’s skin. Jin’s heart races in the dark. 

"I fucking knew it,” breathes Namjoon, his eyes blazing.

Jin wants to scream, wants to laugh, wants to hurl words designed to hurt to shatter this moment, wants to grip Namjoon and punch him clean across the face. He wants, and wants, and wants. 

Instead, he just says "You don't know anything, Joon-ah," and pulls him down onto the couch, hands circling Namjoon's slim waist like muscle memory. Like they haven’t done this a thousand times before. Like they won’t end up here again, aching and broken.

Namjoon's body gives immediately, a surrender, like all the fight left him as soon as Jin touched him like this.

Their lips meet in a heavy dragging kiss, already shattering the limits Jin has promised himself not to break, making him exhale a long shaking breath. He can feel the solid length of Joon's torso pressing him down into the couch, feel the desert heat radiating from him as Jin's hands skate up his back, already seeking out skin. Namjoon has a hand tangled in Jin's hair and the other hand cradling his face as he licks into Jin's mouth, teeth colliding in wet clicks and breath coming in short puffs of hot air on Jin's cheeks. One of them moans, Jin not even knowing who, a painful sounding groan.

In the back of Jin's head he's reminded that anyone could walk in on them like this. Any one of the boys could see Namjoon slowly fucking his hips into Jin's on the couch, their half-bitten off moans betraying what's going on.

"Joon-ah," he moans, his head spinning like he's just chain-smoked a whole pack, “We can’t.” The implied what the fuck are we doing hangs in the air between them.

Namjoon huffs a broken laugh and throws both of Jin's hands over his head, holding him down easily as he rolls his hips down right where Jin wants him most.

“I know you don’t wanna stop this, Jin-ah. You need this.” 

Jin hazily thinks to himself that this is a game that he doesn’t know the rules to anymore. He used to play it, carelessly, easily, but he’s way in over his head now. It’s a fucking twisted thing to do to someone, say one thing and do another. He doesn’t even know if he means himself, or not.

The only thing that makes sense about this is that he can’t end this tonight, not when Namjoon has both of them held tightly in his hand, slick with heat and need and the immense ache of loneliness, not when Jin's whole world is balanced on this sharpened edge, not when Namjoon is looking at him like this, like Jin is an answer to a question that they both know they can't ask.

Anyone could walk in, but Jin finds he doesn't fucking care as he arches up and up and up into the boy who shattered his heart into a million shards, kissing his blood into Joon’s mouth.

 

+++

 

When Jin was small, his mother sat him down and told him how his life was going to be.

“With a handsome face like yours, Seokjinie, things will come easily to you. But holding on to them, that's another matter entirely.” She patted his head once, twice and swept away, and Jin was alone with just the lingering smell of perfume –soft and dark like the earl grey she drinks– to keep him company.

Things did come easily to Jin. Boys from well bred families like his tended to get their way, if not by force but by the compelling nature of influence.

In school he learned how to get want he wanted through charm and grace, making girls blush and his teachers smile with satisfaction, and surrounded himself with a posse of boys like him, perfect and easy and casual in their arrogance.

Boys like Jin grow up to own gated houses in Pyeongchang-dong, marrying an elegant beauty and fathering gentle children, making CEO of one of those old guard institutions in glittering skyscrapers in Gangnam by forty, taking holidays to Europe and driving their BMWs on the weekends.

Boys like Jin are the darlings of South Korea, representing the golden standard of boyfriend material and filial duty and national pride. Boys like Jin don't deviate from the expectations.

Many years later, when Jin came round to his childhood home to tell his parents he got a spot in Bangtan, he expected a solid thump on the back and a shared glass of soju with his father and brother, but instead received a brisk and you’re sure this is the right path for you, Seokjin? Singing songs and dancing instead of working towards your future?

Jin stayed quiet, not even sure himself, feeling like he was spinning out of control behind the wheel of a car going a hundred kilometres an hour. He knew he was always expected to carry on the family business, like any good son, not indulge in his fantasies like some little kid’s daydream.

His father flicked his newspaper open and cast his eyes downward. The disappointment radiating off of him cut into Jin like a knife.

Later that night in his bed, his mother sat him down, the moment making him feel small again, and steadily held his gaze in the dim light of his old bedroom. "Your duty is now not just to your family, but to those boys, and to your success.”

Tears suddenly shook in her eyes, "Jin-ah, I fear that holding on to true happiness won't be easy for you from now on."

Jin forced a smile, “Ah-ma, I will be fine. Maybe I’ll even get to be famous one day.”

At that she shook her head. “Don’t expect that to give you everything you need. You must find your own way, Jin-ah.”

 

+++


Jin thinks most people have forgotten this, but even after the audition, even after making it to the final round by his ability to bullshit, even after Bang Shi Hyuk leaned back in his chair and looked Jin up and down and said he was going to turn him into a singer, Jin had no damn intentions to join BTS. This wasn't a dream of his he wanted for his whole life like the other guys in the room.

He was never supposed to be an idol. His path should have never crossed with Big Hit, not even when they stopped him as he was stepping off the bus on his way to university, handing him a small slip of paper with the audition date for this last chance idol group and a rushed please consider this opportunity.

Jin bowed and hurried off the platform to show the card to his waiting friends and joined in on a chorus of shrieking laughter at the thought of Jin dancing on stage.

He grinned against the cold and wrapped his coat around him, face turned into the sun. He was 18. He was going to be an actor. He had a girlfriend. He was content and could almost reach out and touch his life laid out in front of him, perfect and easy.

It was only when he started getting careless in tossing around escape plans and rumours of leaving like so many of the other candidates that he was introduced and firmly sat down before the boy called RM to be convinced to stay, a trainee spoken about only in whispers and hushed voices like he was this crazy fucking rap prodigy.

Jin guesses that he was to be won over and convinced to place all his chips in this struggling company, to join this tiny idol group that, by anyone's count, would not succeed. To shift around his entire life, entire personality to suit what was needed from him, to leave a path laid out for him since he was born for a future reeling with a soul shaking brand of uncertainty.

Jin measures up the boy sat in front of him, his boyish face harshly lit by the fluorescents in this small practice room and eyes holding his gaze with a steely consideration.

"You're not the only one with a pretty face, you know. That's not going to get you anywhere here."

A laugh escapes Jin before he can help it. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. They want me to persuade you, but we both know you won't last a day if this isn't something you want more than anything." He stares at Jin for a silent moment.

Namjoon speaks like his words carry weight, like if he’s not careful his dream could collapse at any moment. Jin suddenly feels tiny, feels like his flippant cockiness amongst the other boys has no place between the two of them.

"I can't make you stay, but you'd be an idiot to not want to see how far we can take this, how much we could create, how long we could go before we self-destruct, how much we might need to do this together,” Namjoon says.

Jin is speechless, eyes wide.

Namjoon pauses again, watching Jin closely. "Right now, all I know is that there's a reason you're sat across from me right now. "

Jin can already feel the thread of his life careening wildly towards this boy in front of him, already beginning to twist and spiral, like two orbiting planets destined for collision in the distant future.

Suddenly feeling like he has to prove himself to this boy who looks years too young for the look in his eyes, Jin cocks his head and says, “You don’t know me.”

“Oh, but I will,” Namjoon says. 

Jin breathes in.

Namjoon breathes out.


+++

 

Hours later, when Jin feels heavy and satiated and on the blurred edge of wake and sleep, when Namjoon is detangling himself and tugging his shirt back on, Jin thinks he hears a whisper floating down to his ears just before he's left alone again, cold and empty in the dawn light.

You make it so hard for me to hate you.


+++

 

A few days after they debuted, Bang Shi Hyuk took him aside after his singing lessons and asked him what he wanted from all of this. From the other boys. From their leader, Namjoon.

Jin didn't have an answer back then, his cheeks still plump and virgin hair freshly bleached blonde, only just getting used to his new chain of monikers, a snappy, shortened Jin, hyung, one-seventh of BTS.

The reality of Kim Seokjin, son of a CEO and younger brother and university student and a boy who wanted to grow up and become a journalist seem another world away.

Jin wished he could look out a window, but there weren't any in this cramped office he was sat in.

"I want to make my family, my bandmates, my managers, and the company proud of my hard work," he said with convincing sincerity, with the manners he was brought up with. He'd been training for hours longer than the other boys lately, repeating their dance moves until the mirrors fogged up and dinner came and went.

Bang Shi Hyuk barked a laugh at Jin's answer, "That's a pretty answer from a well trained idol. But I'm asking Kim Seokjin right now." He leaned back in his chair, arms folded.

Jin thinks to himself that the real Kim Seokjin would have wished for a window right then. He wanted to watch the clouds.

Later that week, tucked away in a low lit ramen shop, Jungkook says to him, "This might be the last time we get to do this, Jin-hyung."

Jin glanced incredulously over the salty bowl he brought to his lips. "Eat ramen?"

As hyung, Jin was automatically given the title of older brother, a role that distanced and brought him closer to the boys in equal measure. But Jungkook and him have a clean symmetry that Jin likes, the oldest and youngest. They are uncomplicated together. He takes care of him, the way his brother did when he was little, the way he wished someone still did. Their knees knock together under the table.

"No, hyung" Jungkook looked down at his menu, fingers tapping a discordant beat. "Pretend that we have the freedom to do what we want."


+++

 

Jin wakes up, this time to chaos and light. He sits up, head pounding, as Yoongi walks over and hands him a cup of hot tea and sits hunched on the coffee table, arms on his knees, looking sadly at Jin. Jimin and Tae are in the kitchen, laughing. Jin takes a sip of his tea.

“You shouldn’t be sleeping out here, hyung. Why don’t you check into the Hilton if you’re so displeased with your bed, princess.” Yoongi laughs and drags Jin up by his arm.

They end up having breakfast at the café down the road, masks pulled over their faces and sunglasses on. They pick at a plate of honey bread piled high with cream and caramel and Jin feels a bit less empty for the first time in weeks, legs stretched out in a ray of late morning sun and enjoying the sense of anonymity, even if fleeting.

Yoongi pauses, fork suspended in air.

“We need to talk about Namjoon.”

Jin swallows and lounges back in his chair. “Talk about who?”

“Namjoon.”

“No."

“Jin-hyung.” Yoongi sighs, his blank stare somehow sending disapproval across the table much to Jin’s annoyance. “You know you can tell me anything. Please, please stop hiding this from me.

Jin looks away, fiddling with his fork.

“It’s obvious you’re not okay. We all just want to help you.” Yoongi pleas, his hand flat on the table.

“I’m not a charity case,” Jin spits out.

The sunlight dances through the window forcing Jin to look away, eyes stinging from the brightness. 

 

+++

 

On Jin’s nineteenth birthday, Seoul was cold, the air crisp and blue, their schedule giving him no time off except late at night, just like every other day.

These were the early days. When they were still dressed in all black and Namjoon had those awful haircuts and none of them really knew what they were doing, but god, if they weren’t running on pure adrenaline everyday, not stopping for a breath until they made it.

Jin and Joon taught themselves together how to spend all the excess energy they had built up during the day, from live shows or a tabloid mention.That does something to you, Jin thought, the anticipation giving them a current of electricity running through their veins, intensifying every emotion shared between all of them by a thousandfold. They would break off into pairs and trios, all seven of them falling into an intimate pattern by now, and it was always Jin and Joon's habit shaking off their managers, and running, always running, letting the blood bloom into their cheeks, both wanting escape, but for different reasons.

It was 3am and Jin was staring at Joon who was staring at the buildings across the river, the city lights giving his face a soft blur.

"I had a dream about you last night," Joon says.

“Was I more handsome there than in real life,” Jin laughs, the grin reaching his eyes.

“You asked me to drive you to Venice, you wanted to watch the city sink. We ate dim sum on top of the basilica and you had wings."

“That’s very beautiful. Doesn’t make sense though, because you can’t drive.”

Joon dimples flash, cheeks pink in the night air. Jin suddenly noticed how bright the stars were that night, reflected in the honey brown of Joon’s eyes.

“Happy birthday, Seokjin. It’s crazy….” he trails off. Jin knows what he means.

“It’s like a dream,” Jin quietly offered.

“A dream,” echoed Joon.

He slowly turns to Jin, eyes glittering, "I feel like I could do anything tonight."

Jin stills, suddenly the space between them prickling with heat. His eyes cautiously track Joon's.

They were good together, the two of them. Much to Jin’s disbelief, they fell in step with startling ease since the very start, knowing where to push and when to pull. Where one faltered the other would step in, moving in tandem with an immediate understanding Jin never even had with his older brother. He had been the first person in his life to see straight through his meticulously crafted nothing can touch me persona, letting Jin breathe for the first time in a while. Over years they quietly slipped into a quiet space built only for them, Joon inviting him into his world, allowing him to become fluent in his tells. But Joon's eyes gave nothing away now. 

"If you could do the thing you wanted to do most, right this second, would you do it?" Joon asks, suddenly a lot closer to Jin's face than a moment before.

They are family, bandmates, best friends. He’s seen Joon at his absolute lowest and his earth-shattering highest, he’s slept in his bed, he’s seen him naked. He’s held him as he was shaking apart in a panic attack in the street outside of their studios. He’s fought with him in their kitchen, throwing dishes until the others crowd him against the wall. He’s loved him like a brother.

Until this moment, Jin hadn’t thought about Joon in any other way. But sometimes a moment is all it takes.  Jin breathes out a quiet Namjoon-ah and the moment shimmers around them, enclosing them, trapping them.

Joon leans in and presses his lips against Jin's softly.

They both freeze, Joon's exhalations like small gunshots in the cold air. Jin can see the real fear in his eyes, the terror that he ruined whatever that they had together, terror that Jin would tell and ruin his chances at being an idol, terror that exists at every earth-bending threshold in life.

Jin is taken aback by how much he hates seeing that fear in Namjoon's face, left winded over by how much he wants to put something, anything else there instead.

The thought of how he'll do anything in his power to be the one to give Joon what he wants sends a wave of searing heat through his gut and Jin knows his answer.

He surges forward, his body pressing into Joon's smooth lines, and this time they both fall into each other, like relief and recognition and an apology and a you know what, i’ve waited so long for this all rolled into one.

The stars fall from the night sky and crash around them, catching them on fire.


+++

 

Jin falls, he falls, he falls, thinking he would be caught, one way or another.


+++

 

It would be a lie to say that Namjoon and Jin are inseparable. He’s got his own life, as does Joon. There are weeks where they only see each other in passing, a slight look in their eyes as they brush past in confidence, like two spies with an intimate code.

They grow into each other, build a world just made for them two.

They start fires, Joon in this season’s Prada, Jin a little desperate for it, with a lighters and a bit of luck in hotel room waste baskets just to rebel, or maybe for the symbolism, maybe because both of them are a bit insane together. Jin can’t get near him without his eyes flicking up, all their fight on show. Joon looks at him like he wants to rip his seams. Like it’s a fact. Like he has brown eyes. Like he wants to find all the places that tear him apart.

The idea of them is still new, and they’re still unsure where the limits should be drawn. They haven’t learned the art of subtlety. But when Namjoon bumps his thigh against Jin's underneath the table at fan signs, camera flashes falling down around them like hot summer rain, a lingering hug from behind, chins resting in necks, fingers dragging here and there. They don’t do anything more than that and Jin knows one of them is going to break. It’s not surprising when they do, just a continuation of all the rules they’ve broken so far.

It's late evening, humidity hitting Jin like a wet blanket, the sky so close he could reach out and grab it.

His hands are filled with bags of pineapple buns though, something that Jin always saved for himself during tour stops in Hong Kong. He might be a bit of a hedonist, but he knows restraint like an old friend.

Jin made their driver take him straight to the bakery he liked as soon as he finished showering off the sweat from the concert, letting the heavy equatorial air dry his hair into soft black waves. The younger members usually don't get freedom like this, but he always charms management, cheats, and lies, and promises to bring back a bun or two. He was driving through the Mid-Levels, window open, when his phone vibrated and lit up with a text from Namjoon.

“Come to my room when ur back.”

He felt heat pool in his belly as he read the words. They had never done this, never sent texts like this.

If he rationalised this convoluted game Namjoon and him had created around their desire, or something deeper that Jin didn't have the patience to think about right now, he would think that Joon just moved his king.

He leaned his head out the car window, the darkening sky giving way to the neon glow of Hong Kong's skyline that made him feel almost drunk with excitement about the reason he's here, about his future, about tonight. The air smelled dark and spiced and dangerous, heavy with promise. Jin inhaled and took off his glasses, lights spiralling in his eyes.  He thanked the driver, and pineapple buns still in hand rode the elevator up to the fortieth floor where the boys and management's rooms were, thinking he might shake apart if any of the boys caught him just now, slinking down the dark-panelled hall to Joon’s room.

Jin stood outside his door and breathed for a moment, half of him berating himself on behaving like a kid with his first crush and the other half feeling like he was twenty-one and on top of the fucking world.

He quietly let himself in Namjoon's room and immediately was provided with the sight of the younger man stood at the massive bay of windows at the other end of the room, watching the last few moments of the sun slipping below the glittering bay, his back to Jin.

He turned to the noise of Jin setting his bags down and Jin took in a sharp breath. He'd never seen Joon like this, not even in the dorm, soft and freshly showered with his light brown hair gently curling at the ends, dressed in a white tee and dark jeans that showed off the long, lean line of his legs.

“Hey, you look good," Namjoon smiled. 

Jin stood there for a beat and then another, unmoving. He’s always had a steady stream of partners in his life, a long history of girlfriends and casual hook-ups with guys, more than a few in school and a healthy amount since becoming an idol. He loves easily, he's always flirted carelessly, ceaselessly, he likes sex as much as any other man.

He knows that he's expected to one day marry a girl in the industry when he's old enough that his fans won't care that he's taken. One that will hang on his arms during red carpets, the two of them sharing soft hidden smiles. But he also knows he couldn’t give less of a fuck, not when the two of them started this fire and knowing Joon will carry it through, the neon lights from the city licking in his eyes like flames. He knows that if Big Hit ever found out he had slept with Namjoon, he could be kicked out of his own life tomorrow.

He knew all of this. And he found that he didn't care at all. 

He strode from his rooted spot at the doorway and careened into Namjoon, sending them both stumbling until Namjoon flew his hand out to support them on the room's desk. Jin had his hands gripped to the front of Namjoon's shirt, breathing in his scent at his neck. Namjoon smelled like cold skies and heavy rains and tanqueray, he smelled like Jin’s favourite song and snow and hot springs.

He pressed up into Namjoon's mouth, still a soft oh at the shock of Jin's attack, and kissed him.

Namjoon melted against him, wrapping his arms around Jin's small waist, and drew him close so that he had to lean down to meet Jin's lips. "You taste like pineapple," he laughed into Jin’s mouth.

"You're such an idiot," Jin evenly replied, even with his heart in his throat, nipping Joon's lip with his teeth. Joon makes a noise of petulance and then hooks his leg around Jin's, groaning into the kiss.

"Why did we wait so long to finally fucking do this," Jin whines into the hot space between them and Joon stills, gently knocking their foreheads together.

“Because nothing ever makes sense, until it does.”

Jin looks up at him with a wild look, all traces of laughter gone. The kiss turns desperate, all searing heat and inertia, like things finally sliding into place. Joon has his hands clutching in Jin's hair, pressing wet kisses up the long line of his neck and Jin slides his hands under Joon's shirt, seeking out the hot skin of his smooth back.

They pull back gasping and Jin runs his tongue along Joon's full upper lip, grabbing a fistful of his shirt like it's the only thing keeping him from flying away.

Joon suddenly flips them around, shoving Jin down so he’s splayed on the desk, the sharp edge of the glass the last thing on Jin's mind. There's a biting, pleading cry that neither of them are quite sure who made as Joon leans over and rocks his hips up into Jin’s, rolling them together, hot and urgent. Hi s hand slips between them to cup Jin through his trousers and his lips drag slow and dangerous over the line of Jin's jaw.

And god, yes. This wasn't just a casual hook-up. This was showing each other the soft hidden spaces of their bodies, saying shoot me here if you want it to hurt.

The blood rushing through Jin's ears is deafening when Joon pulls him off the desk, stumbling against each other like victim and rescuer, even though Jin can never be sure who's playing which part, even after playing back this memory over and over and over. Joon shoves Jin, who's somehow only wearing his trousers now low around his hips to the bed and he looks up at Joon, now only a shadowed silhouette standing tall against the ambient city light cascading through the window.

He looks dangerous, here, in the dark, and Jin's head is spinning.

With a shivering laugh, he watches Joon yank his shirt over his head and climb on top of him, and shakily exhales when he feels the solid weight of Joon press him down into the cool sheets. Joon feels so good in his arms, all of him strong and real and substantial, exactly what Jin knew he hid behind his tailored suits and oversized hoodies, the long lean line of this thighs nudging Jin's apart, his lips plush and wet and honey sweet. Jin drags his fingernails down Joon's back, a wild, frantic part of him needing to draw blood, make a mark, leave something permanent that can last beyond the shuddering universe of tonight.

His head hits the pillow, eyes wide, as Joon starts to slowly bite down his chest, leaving wet blooming bruises behind. He reaches Jin's waistband and slowly leans down, his gaze meeting Jin's, eyes wine-dark in the dusk light, suddenly stilling like he's asking for permission, for allowance.

Jin cards his hand through Joon's hair and presses down, causing Joon to breathe a hot kiss where Jin is straining through his pants.

It's like time has slowed to a syrup-slow crawl as Jin watches Joon unzip him and take his him out of his pants, mouth descending and suddenly Jin is plummeted into a world narrowed only to Joon and his lips and them, here. A moan is ripped out of him as his back arches off the mattress, Joon's tongue dragging over the head and sucking him deep into the back of his throat.

"How have you been hiding this from me all this time, fuck me," Jin breathes out in a laugh, the sound suddenly cut off by a groan as Joon flicks his tongue in an especially good way.

"Shhhh," Joon murmurs, his cheek nestled in the soft warm spot of Jin's hips, and sucks him down and down until Jin can't manage any more words.

Jin's been close ever since been shoved onto the bed, fuck, he's been close ever since he got that text message, so it only takes a few more hot-wet suctions of Joon's mouth, sliding up and down before he grips Joon's hair, pulling him off and flipping them over.

He can see Namjoon's face better now, here, under him, his lips bit raw, colour cast high on his cheeks, eyes blown black with lust. Jin grabs both of them in his hand, slick and desperate, and both of them keen at the contact.

“Do you have a condom?” he breathes out, back arching off the mattress.

“What sort of guy do you take me for, Jin-ah?” Joon grins around his bite on Jin’s collarbone, his laugh showering both of them in white hot sparks when Jin shoves him off and rips opens his suitcase, wishing he could be surprised, but he isn’t.

“You know, you look pretty perfect naked in my room. I might have to keep you around.” Joon tosses from his perch on the pillows, a smile colouring his voice into a honey slow warmth.

Jin crawls back onto the bed, legs on either side of his hips and slowly leans over Joon, watching with satisfaction as his eyes lose their humour and gain a feverish intensity again.

He rips open the condom with his teeth, and says, “I might just stick around if you’re worth my time.”

Joon shivers beneath him. “Say that again and see what happens.”

“If you’re worth my time” Jin pants, grinding each word into the hot space between their legs.

They rut against one another, urgent and clumsy. Joon flips Jin over onto his back, and holds him down with a featherlight touch on his neck and a dangerous look in his eyes as he reaches down. Jin’s spine arches, pulled taut like a bow by the press of Joon’s fingers inside of him.

“You’ll be the fucking end of me, Joon-ah,” Jin says, sounding like it was ripped out of someplace deep inside him.

“No, I’ll be the making of you,” Joon says, and by then he's is already thrusting into him, and Jin’s head hits the pillow, seeing fucking stars, immediately forgetting every language he knows.

Joon holds Jin’s weight in his arms, Jin-ah, Jin-ah, Jin-ah dripping off his tongue, landing deliciously in Jin’s mouth. He licks a hot stripe down the length of Jin’s neck like he’s something that he needs to claim, like a promise made in the heat of the moment, easy to make, easy to deny.

Jin gasps as Joon’s body moves between his thighs, pressing his knees apart. “I want the people in the next room to hear you,” Joon says, snapping his hips upwards, and Jin moans for him, hitching his legs high onto him.

“That’s right, that’s right,” Joon says, laughter breathless, “I’m after some bad publicity.”

Jin drags his fingers hard down Joon’s back, trying to draw him deeper into him, riding the friction of Joon’s stomach rubbing against his cock.

“Come on then,” Jin says, shoving back on the bed making it shake, “Make me scream.”

Someone is banging back at them angrily, from the other side of the wall by the time Jin is coming, shaking and shaking in Joon’s arms, him so far gone as to not give a fuck about anything else beyond the way Joon kisses the moans out of mouth.

Afterwards, both of their chests heaving in the deep late night blue of the dark room, stray lights from behind the curtains casting neon flickers over Joon’s bare torso, he rolls over and tucks his arm tightly around Jin’s waist, almost unbearably close like Jin is going to disappear by the morning.

That night, Jin dreams of flares, bombs held in hands, too close for comfort, the wick burning just a hair too close.


+++

 

It’s not that they’ve avoided defining whatever they have, it’s just that once you enter certain dangerous waters, labels become impossible.

They have too much history to give it a name. Seven years of it. In seven years every single cell in your body is reborn, and in seven years Jin has spent the greater part of it filling himself with Joon. His tells, his pleasures, his dirty secrets, an entire universe of Kim Namjoon.

Joon still dreams in Korean even after days of only English. He has every line of In The Mood For Love memorised, and thinks the Beatles were shit. He can sing in a beautiful falsetto but will go to great lengths to pretend like he can’t. He once flew from Shanghai to Osaka just to give Jin a blowjob in his hotel room (I am not flying to Japan just because you want me to suck you off. Of course not, Joon, you’re flying to Japan because you want to suck me off.)

He likes his japchae with enough chilli sauce that his cheeks are shot red by the spice. He can quote an astonishing amount of the Confucian poets on verbatim. He tried to smuggle a lobster in his luggage from Saipan, just because Jin said he wouldn’t do it. He does a lot of things because of Jin.

He has PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT, painted in big letters on his studio door and a dragon tattooed on his back that would kill him if his fans ever found out. He has a temper like no one Jin’s ever met but he’s the only one of them who knows how to write songs with a gutting intimacy. He prefers sunsets to sunrises, confessed after sex that it’s because he's always liked the endings rather than beginnings of things.

Jin has never underestimated him, but he has never understood him either.

Sometimes he feels like he’s drowning in all of this knowledge and with absolutely no one to tell. It makes him sick that they have to keep it a secret when he has so much to say.

He wants to show off Joon to the world, saying out of everyone in this life, he is by far the best. Jin knows that fear dictates their relationship, tinges everything with a tension that shows itself in Joon’s eyes late at night when Jin shows up outside his door while everyone else is asleep, reveals itself in the way he holds himself at a distance around Jin than he does with the other boys even in private. 

But there are moments.

A week in their hotel in Singapore on tour where their bodies relearn each other, sunburnt lips slick and biting, blurry nights with Jin pressed up on slick black walls of bathrooms in rooftop downtown bars, late enough that no one’s around to see, stolen chances to just breathe around each other, just for them and not for anyone else.

Moments that sustain Jin like walking down a side-alley in Gangnam during a frost-cold winter morning, wrapped in big coats to the point of anonymity and cappuccinos in gloved hands when a mob of calico cats swarmed out of the greenery lining a café, surrounding Joon in a circle of raucous meows, tails brushing the back of his ankles.

Joon stared at Jin in shock, true horror evidenced in his eyes, when Jin burst out in laughter, tears watering his eyes and stinging his face when they met the cold air. The cats meowed louder at the noise.

"They love you!," he pointed in accusation, "Why do they only love you?"

Joon, still flushed with surprise, bent at the waist, holding his coffee carefully, and gently pet the cat climbing up his leg.

They suddenly erupted in a chorus of purring, rubbing their ginger cheeks against Joon's legs. Jin's laughter echoed across the buildings and into the sky, bounding across Seoul, unworried, easy.

There are some memories that Jin keeps tucked away, running his tongue round to make it smoother, fit better in his head.

Him and Joon, in the middle of the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. It's dawn and Joon still has wet hair and he's moaning about being brought here, you know I hate seafood, Jin-ah.

They're in Tokyo for a concert, for a promo tour, for some interviews, Jin doesn't even keep track anymore. All he wanted to do was creep softly into Joon’s hotel room he was sharing with Tae and shake him awake and bring him here, standing in the pale pink light of sunrise in one of Jin's favourite places.

He and Namjoon carefully thread themselves through the rush of tuna gutters, fishermen, and restaurant buyers, shoulders bumping into each other every time Jin points out a rare squid or fuji being sliced open, Joon laughing at Jin's excited chatter over expensive cuts of tuna.

"Your love affair with fish is pretty much common knowledge by now. There’s no point trying to hide your love. You’ll only further damage your delicate psychosocial profile,” Namjoon teases.

“Says the desperate guy who complains just for the attention," Jin tosses over his shoulder.

Joon has the audacity to look like wounded as he spits out, “I do not! Besides, I hardly get any attention by you.“

He tosses a takoyaki that he bought at the last stand in a high arc into his mouth, apparently thinking he’s in some high school drama.

Jin groans, rolling his eyes and goes back to taking pictures to send to the rest of the boys. “Anyway, back to me. I’ve been thinking. I want to spend a lifetime right here, taking time to eat every single thing, no rush. And then cook my favourites for everyone I love in a tiny restaurant open only when I feel like it. Jin’s Kitchen,” he says, turning to Joon.

"It's such a simple dream. But I would die happy, you know?”

Namjoon links his arm through Jin's with a blooming grin fighting the mock serious look on his face, “That sounds awfully beautiful, jagiya.”

Jin tenses, the two of them still in the flood of people rushing around them.  He sees the exact moment Joon realises what came out of his mouth. A look Jin can’t place shutters over Namjoon’s face, closing him off almost immediately. There’s an unspoken rule between them that leaves no room for affection beyond friendship, more than sex. That’s what makes it work. Nice and simple. Anything more than that complicates the entire world Joon has built for Jin, with Jin — warm beds, easy release, dark rooms.

Jin feels the need to grab the bottom of Joon’s coat, holding on tightly. “Joon-ah, hey—” he starts.

“Admit it, it's not like it changes anything,” Joon interrupts, turning on his heels and striding down a packed row of market tables, leaving Jin to decipher that, alone.

Because he can’t do anything else, he follows him back to the hotel, neither of them speaking and Jin shoves past him at their door. With hot tears pricking his eyes, he takes his bag from their room and stays with Tae and Jungkook for the rest of their time in Japan.

They don’t speak for another two weeks, and when they do, it’s him saying, pleading, I want with Joon watching him.I want –“

It’s Joon leaning forward. “You’re so – ”

It’s a hiss of Joon’s name against his throat, Joon’s right hand fisted in his hair, and Joon saying Seokjin like he’s drowned on it.

It’s Jin wondering what the fuck happened, if he even really knows Joon at all.

 

+++

 

It’s late afternoon, the soft October sun sending the dust flickering in the room into golden spirals. It’s just the two of them. They’re laying on the couches in their flat, sharing a bottle of wine, listening to Namjoon’s mixtape the day before he releases it.

Jin is listening to Joon talking about chart data and streaming analytics and timezones, an air of excited nervousness around him. Twitter is going mad, their fans trending his name already. By tomorrow morning he might make history, might make another million dollars. But for now, it’s just the two of them and the quiet autumn evening.

“Why haven’t you written any songs about me,” Jin asks, really only half-joking.

Joon stops talking, quiet for a measured moment and turns to look at Jin who is looking out the window, pretending to have already forgotten what he asked.

“What makes you think I haven’t already?” he says.

Namjoon hides a lot. He doesn’t talk to them about his songs, his lyrics, inspiration, where the deep well of emotion that bubbles away is kept. Their fans think he’s soft and carelessly easy, but there are some parts of you that everyone in this industry keeps hidden, and sometimes hide even from those who know you in real life. Sometimes Jin doesn’t even know what’s real and what’s not anymore, what’s for the cameras and what’s genuine, in both himself and Joon.

T hey’re playing a high-risk game, one with rules the change every day, one where neither come out as winners.

“What should we do for dinner?” Jin says, wanting to shatter the careful moment and turn it back into something uncomplicated, something less delicate, less likely to hurt.

And if Namjoon looks disappointed for a brief moment before going along with the front, well, that’s not Jin’s problem.

 

+++

 

The early evening sky was a deep saturn blue when they climbed into the waiting van from their concert venue.

This is how he sees his life now, Jin thinks, brief glimpses into worlds withheld from him at an arm's length as they venture from their dorm, their studios, their concert halls, their interview rooms into a thousand different cars. His days are vanta black window-tinted and sound-proofed, looking through a blurred lens into the world beyond performance.

Jin can't really remember anymore what his life felt like before he debuted. Sometimes even now he feels that he's looking in onto his own self from far above, like he's standing at an airport gate waiting for a plane that might never come, yet unable to go back home where he came from. He's departed the world that laid before but not yet fully arrived in this one. The people, the things he's seeing, the places he's going they don’t seem to be on the same plane of reality Jin’s at.

He throws himself in the back row of the van, a baseball cap tucked low over his head, and is impossibly glad that it's Hobi that settles in next to him, knocking their shoulders together. Jin's not in the mood for conversation tonight. He's exhausted from the concert and exhausted from trying to figure out this thing that's happening between him and Joon, and Hobi can see it in the way Jin’s slumped on the window, the need for quiet.

Jin feels like his hands are floating, detached from his body, and he lifts one up to find it bathed in shadow and light and shadow from the undulating highway lights. All of the other boys are loose-limbed and dozing, heads lolling back and forth in the car when Hobi reaches and smoothes Jin's hair back, Jin allowing the touch.

"Is everything ok, Jin-hyung?" he asks softly, leaning in close as to not wake anyone up.

"Mmm," Jin replies half-heartedly, looking at his own reflection in the window.

Hobi is silent for a moment, obviously carefully planning his next words with the white-noise of the road the only sound in the car. "I... saw you and Namjoon…together, in the dorm last week."

Jin turns his head around so fast he fears he gave himself whiplash, staring at Hobi with wide eyes and blood pounding in his ears.

"I don't think anyone else really knows about you two though, hyung." He pauses, a cautious smile playing on his lips, "So your secret is safe with me.”

Jin softly curses. “Ah, it’s not what you think. We’re not like that, it’s just relieving stress and all that… ” He lets his voice trail off.

It's not that Jin cares less about getting caught or that they've become familiar enough with each other to instinctually seek out comfort, but that the longer this goes on the sharper his desire becomes, making him blind and desperate in his need for Namjoon, his body, his touch, the shatteringly open look on his face when he comes, that heady smell of his sweat and lust that is the most interesting thing in the world right now for Jin.

The more he gets to experience Namjoon in this way, the harder it's going to be to stop this. If he can at all.

They had come home from a photoshoot, Joon in all-black and his honey-brown hair tousled in such a way that made Jin's stomach immediately flood with heat upon sight. It’s been a while for them, since the last time they touched, and he felt drunk with intent and a bit delirious by the time he clambered out of the car outside their building.

He walked straight up to Namjoon and yanked at his wrist the minute they got to the front hall of their flat, muttering something about needing a chat, only caring to half-shut his door when he led Joon inside. Jin hoped to god he had at least five minutes before Yoongi would come in, praying that the shower line would be long, and shoved Namjoon onto his bed.

Joon immediately let the long line of his thighs spread apart, making room for Jin to rush in between and claim Joon in a long, desperate kiss. He smelled like cologne, the expensive kind that he never wears except on red carpets and photoshoots and Jin inhales it in as he licks a long line up Joon’s neck.

“What the fuck is all this about,” Joon hisses, his hands at odds with his tone in their tight grip in Jin’s jacket.

“You looked so good today, " Jin moans into Joon's mouth, "I had to be so careful. So careful, Joon-ah, to hide how hard I was during the shoot.”

He bites down on Joon’s ear. “I feel like I’m going insane because I couldn’t touch you.”

Joon lets a grin spread across his face, sharp-toothed and dark and dangerous in the dark, a smile that only Jin gets to see, another thing that makes Jin dizzy just thinking about it, and whispers, “So I really have that much power over you, huh?”

Jin stops in his frantic unbuckling of Joon’s belt, hands paused on the leather. “Yes.”

"Jin-ah," Joon's voice is low in his ear, "Did you close the door?"

"The door?" Jin can't focus, not with Joon's hand already tight and hot around Jin's cock. "No, I didn't."

“It’s like you want us to get caught,” Joon groans, his hips bucking into Jin’s grip.

"Yes," Jin says, already on the edge, pleasure pulsing behind his eyes, streaming out of the tips of his fingers.

"Reckless, Jin-ah."

Joon would almost sound angry if it weren't for the catch in his voice, the way it stutters as Jin twists his hand around the head of Joon's cock. His body always betrays his need, and Jin shut his eyes and abandons himself to it.

In hindsight, Jin knows that they should have been more careful, they should have shut that door and kept quiet or better yet, Jin should have gone to his room alone and slept soundly without thoughts of Joon’s lips around his dick in his head.

It's a small blessing that he completely trusts Hobi and when he says he won't tell, he won't tell. 

"I---," Jin, begins and realises he has no fucking clue what to say.

Hobi looks at him. He sees honest emotion in Hobi's face, an empathy laid bare for Jin.

"I'm scared, Hobi," Jin finally says, plainly. "I don't know what I’m doing anymore.”

They both look at Namjoon, slumped asleep in the passenger seat, always up front, always at the centre of the things.

Hobi squeezes Jin's hand once, hard. “It was only a matter of time before something like this happens. Seven years. Something was bound to happen.” He  lets out a heavy sigh. “But I know that if things go bad between you two, it'll affect all of us. It'll mess everything up," he says, Jin knowing he means more than he can say.

Still staring at the back of Joon's head, Hobi says, “You must really mean a lot to Namjoon-ah, him risking his image like this. Could you imagine what would happen to him, to either of you, if any rumours came out of you two?"

Hobi turned to look at him, his gaze serious yet without blame. "They'd tear you apart."

“Well, you know what they say. Burn your bridges and all that.”

Jin feels like he's shattering apart, spilling pieces of him everywhere. Tears prick his eyes and he realises he's livid, furious at having to watch all of them, him, Joon, learn to carefully hide under layer upon layer under layer over layer.  Jin's head hits the back of the seat and he shuts his eyes. He thinks back to that night. About the refusal to close the door. About the hidden need to get caught, to throw the windows open and let the moonlight rush in on him and Namjoon.

They came together that night, rushed and silent and Joon's eyes slammed close, breaths staccato and sharp. They wasted no time in cleaning up and with a soft laugh pressed against Jin's lips, Joon slipped out of the room and disappeared amongst the noise of the flat.

Jin stood in the centre of his room for a minute, and another, and then carefully sat on the edge of his bed, hands shaking.

 

+++

 

They’re in Bangkok, the sky a deep violent red over the Chao Praya, the entire city holding its breath in anticipation for the monsoon to hit.

They’ve found themselves on the rooftop pool, and it’s quiet up here, just the two of them. Jin thinks he might be high enough to get struck by lightning, and wouldn’t that be an incredible thing.

This time Jin isn’t drunk, not yet, but Joon is.

This is not the same sort of fight they used to have, spirited and red-cheeked, curses spat with shattering laughs attached to the end of them, giving too much away. But it isn’t the last one either, like a gunshot to the knee with both of them pretending that they aren’t bleeding out all over the floor, hands filled with their own blood.

Jin can’t remember much other than his face, open and hurt, and the words You don’t even give a fuck about any of this do you thrown in the space between them, their hair tossed in the growing wind. Later, softer, after dinner, Sometimes it feels like I’m just waiting for the day that you decide to leave because you wake up deciding it’s not worth it anymore.

The hotel lobby pitches and the words ring back in Jin’s ears again and again, like he’s stepped off a a cliff, waiting for the sea to rush up and meet him.

Jin tells him to fuck off and goes to the Grand Palace by himself, not finding any peace from the Buddha.

He ditches his entourage and walks back to the hotel because he doesn’t have anywhere else to go, taking the long way through the palm-tangled side streets. By now, it’s pouring down, the humidify suffocating and deafening thunder of the rain lashing him across the face. He doesn’t realise he’s crying until he feels the sobs rip through his body, silent in the downpour.

Joon is there waiting for him in his darkened room when he slips inside, clothes dripping all over the floor. “Like tears,” he says, brushing his fingers across Jin’s cheek catching the rain wetting his skin.

Jin leans into his hand.

The sea will hit, just as it always does.

 

+++

 

Sometimes, usually late at night, usually in hotel rooms scattered over Asia, usually when Joon is asleep in Jin's bed and he can look at his profile without interruption, sweetly curved and edged with violent sharpness, Jin wonders.

Wonders what it was like for Namjoon to lose so many people in those early days, watch them come and go, bail out of a sinking ship while Namjoon was left behind.

Wonders what it was like all those long early nights, alone, driven forward by some inner will to make it to their debut, cast into the role as leader even though Namjoon didn't have anyone to take care of him, no one to prepare him for this role.

He wonders how that changed him as a person. What a journey like that does to someone.

Those early days are what set him and Yoongi apart from the rest, both of them know the sacrifice they made to the band, to themselves, and can point with immovable clarity at the path they took on to get where the are now. A struggle, a truth, a life.

Sometimes in brief moments when Namjoon thinks no one's looking his way, like when all the boys are quiet for once in the living room sprawled in one another's laps and watching a drama on tv, Jin will glance over and find an unfathomable depth to his eyes, a gaze cast inwards, not for anyone to decipher, not even Jin.

Sat in a dark hotel room with a boy who terrifies him asleep next to him, Jin wonders how he himself ended up here. What paths have brought him to this moment, to feel such longing and fear and fight.

He'll put his palm on Joon’s neck like a prayer for which no words exist, and Jin feels his heart taking root in his body, like he’s discovered something he didn’t even have a name for.


+++

 

It was late at night, Seoul was in the middle of a heatwave, an album was due soon, they had just moved to their new flat, too big and too clean, and he hadn’t spent time with Joon in what felt like months.

He's started dreaming about him in his sleep, weird feverish flashes of Joon and heavy rain and his hands, always just a hairsbreadth from Jin's face but never crossing the distance to make contact. They made him wake up feeling desperate and too hot, like a fever that persists without breaking and he hates it. 

It was times like these that Jin wished he had a place of his own. He couldn't imagine a life separate from the six other boys, but like most good things in life it asked for sacrifice.

Jin grew up in a quiet, sprawling house, his brother grown and moved out by the time he was old enough to remember, so he found comfort in time spent alone, hours occupied in his own head. It could be lonely, but Jin liked the peace.

Sometimes, on long blue mornings that stretched near infinity and limbs akimbo warming in the sun, he would yell as loud as he could, shaking the dust that held suspended in his room. His nanny would run in, eyes comically wide, and upon seeing him on his bed with a cheeky grin, would gently smack him on the head with an affectionate attention-seeker and so Jin did this again and again and again, learning as he grew how to take up space when it suited him, when it would get him what he wanted. How to focus people on him with his easy grins and easy habits that obscure everything else, a salacious wink when a gaze is held too long, a laugh that's the loudest in a room.

It’s all just a game to Jin, one that he's trained to be the best at, and it’s killing him but he doesn’t know how to stop playing it.

Jin throws off his duvet a week after they move in to the too big, too clean flat and gently opens the door to his room, stepping into the cool hallway.

He feels his way through the hall, not yet knowing by heart where all the boys’ rooms are. He stops in front of a door, warm light spilling out from underneath and pushes gently. He can see Joon leaning on the wall, blowing smoke out of his window and letting the cold winter air rush into his room and making Jin shiver. He walks in, closing the door with a solid click behind him and Joon turns around, smiling, and tugs Jin over by his elbow to give him a warm, soft hug, his head bent low, a small hey murmured into Jin’s shoulder.

“When do you even have time to get this shit, Joon” he laughs again, shoving him away until his back hits the wall. Joon looks at him with a lazy grin on his face, eyes tired.

“Jin-hyung, I’m famous,” he says slowly, like Jin hadn’t realised. “I can get whatever I want just by asking.”

At that he bursts into laughter, and passes Jin the joint he was holding between his fingers, like he’s some Parisian aristocrat.

Jin stares at him incredulously. 

They stand shoulder to shoulder leaning through the open window, Jin decidedly warm now despite the cold breeze drifting in now and then, taking turns passing the joint.

They talk, thoughts loose and meandering, and comfortable like home. Jin spends god knows how long trying to describe to Joon in excruciating detail the flavours of the curry he had last time he was in Germany, because oh my god, Joon, you had to be there, it was fucking divine. Because Namjoon deserved to know about everything Jin did.

They talk, and they lean on each other in companionable silence, Jin’s eyes slipping close.

“I miss sharing a wall with you,” Joon says.

In the new flat Jin was automatically given the largest room at the very end of the hall as hyung, the one furthest away from Joon’s that faced the sunset, illuminated in orange during the evening.

He turns to face Joon, the curls of his fringe falling into his eyes.

“I think I just miss you, actually,” Joon adds, tugging at Jin’s shirt, a small smile on his face.

Joon puts the joint back between his lips, pinpricks of constellations from the burning tip swinging in his eyes. With just a look, the mood shifted entirely and a low aching pleasure settles in Jin’s stomach.

Jin places his index and thumb on the joint and slowly takes it from between Joon’s lips as he takes a long drag, heads hung low and close and secretive. Their lips brush as Joon exhales straight into his mouth and Jin breathes in the smoke, letting it coat his lungs and as he breathes out, fill the space between them. The smoke curls around them like an eclipse, the boys hidden from view for just a moment.

When the smoke clears, Jin finds that he’s put a hand on Joon’s chest, right over his heart.

He feels it beating beneath his palm, and Joon slowly brings his hand up, placing it over Jin’s, pressing him down, like he wants Jin to sink through his ribcage and touch what is crucial, what can’t be said out loud

 

+++

 

Jin is drunk.

His world is a mess of heavy, heavy beats and heady, humid air. Jin is drunk, stumbling through the mess of people crowded up to the bar with a silly, stupid grin on his face.

It’s some rising K-drama star’s birthday, and he can’t remember who because being in BTS always gets you entry to every single party in Seoul. He’s also fucked beyond belief because there’s always a hundred people that’ll buy you a drink too.

And that’s the thing, Jin thinks. He hasn’t had a single moment to himself since this life started. They’re surrounded by people all asking for something and most giving nothing in return except drugs and alcohol and twitter mentions.

He slips his way through the crowd, the low lights blurred and tracking like contrails in his vision, and waves down the bartender, asking for a round of shots for the booth of producers he’s found himself caught up with. He’s about to leave when he catches Joon’s eyes across the bar. 

He knew he would show, probably with Jimin and Yoongi in tow, but the sight of him, here, is like a straight shot of dopamine and sex punched into his bloodstream. He huffs a laugh at no one in particular.

Jin stares at Joon, who’s slouched over the glass, looking like the only person worth taking home in this entire club. He’s wearing black and his hair is tousled, like someone’s already got their hands in it, and that makes something dangerous and sharp settle deep in Jin’s stomach and the room spins, and it spins, it spins. His world is tilted on an axis that would throw anyone off but Joon, Jin thinks.

Jin takes out his phone and texts him, u look rly hot.

He watches Joon feel the vibration and let a slow grin creep onto his face. It has an arrogant edge to it that gets right under Jin’s skin, like he knows he’s all that and drunk Jin would be lying if he said he didn’t love it.

He’s always thought that Joon suits this life the best out of all of them. He’s always been the sort of person, even before becoming RM, that when they speak, people listen, when they enter a room, people look. Fame has just added a new undercurrent of power to his personality because when Joon walks into a room now he’s dressed in a ten thousand dollar suit and a few platinum records under his belt and people don’t just listen, they shut the fuck up. He’s powerful because he knows he is and that’s the sexiest thing Jin has ever seen in his life.

His feet carry him to Namjoon, weaving through the crowd with every reverberation of the music playing pounding into Jin’s blood like upper cuts. Bruising his veins in sparks of pleasure like Namjoon swung first. He presses his palms on each side of the bar where Joon leans onto the glass and waits for him to turn around in his arms. A moment passes and he turns around, and they’re nearly pressed chest to chest, hearts beating just out of sync.

Joon smells like cigarettes and his cologne, a deep, clean pine, and thankfully no one else’s.

“Fancy meeting you here,” Jin leans into Joon, letting a spark of careful desire colour his eyes.

There are people around them that shouldn’t see them like this, but that doesn’t stop Jin from tilting his head to gently brush his nose against Joon’s neck.

Joon has a hand pressed on Jin’s chest, pushing him off, but then places his hand around his bicep, holding him close. Jin laughs at his undecidedness, the sound only reaching Joon’s ears in the loud thrum of music around them.

“Where’s your drink? I’ll buy you one,” Joon says, unexpectedly soft, bordering on fond.

Jin has no idea what to do with that, so he tugs Joon’s sleeve and says, “I wanna dance, Joon-ah, come on,” and spins on his feet and weaves back into the crowd.

If Joon’s drunk enough, he’ll follow him, Jin’s sure of that. He’s seen Joon do some kinky things during a night out, after a bottle or two of soju is in each of them.

Jin feels foreign hips pressing against his own and elbows bumping his sides in the centre of the floor, when a strong arm slides confidently around his waist, and drags him around. The shuddering energy of the party pulses around them. Using the noise as a cover, Jin leans into Joon again, but this time it’s heavier, with more intent.

As they sway to the music, his shoulders, his chest, brush Joon’s, and it’s all Jin can do not to let his full weight fall against him, to press his face into the dry skin of Joon’s neck and kiss. He doesn’t do this, not here; he can’t.

But he can whisper, “Come on,” into his ear and tug the lobe gently with his teeth.  He can inhale, wanting much more than they can have.

Joon stiffens. He holds himself very still, tensed, like they’re about to make a mistake. And maybe they are. Jin feels a thrill run through him. There’s a wild glint in those dark eyes, and Jin stares back boldly, daring him.

Slightly, almost undetectable from a shudder, Joon shakes his head at Jin.

It’s not a no.

“This place has a rooftop, you know” Jin says, pressing his hands on the bare skin where Joon’s shirt has ridden up.

“You know all of Seoul’s secrets, don’t you” Joon says, staring at him with abandon.

Jin grabs his hand and stumbles his way through the party, feeling every pounding rush of blood in his body and the lightness in his limbs, the dance floor lights exploding around him like falling stars.

He’s half hard already, which is ridiculous given that Joon has barely touched him yet, but he can feel the promise in those eyes weighing on his back.

He leads them both out of the room, tossing a deliberate smile at the bouncer, and up a flight of marble stairs, the beat of the music growing fainter and fainter until they reach a metal door, cold to the touch. Jin’s been here before, with a few different people, a few different times. But he’s never felt like this, shaking and feeling sick with desire.

They step out onto the deserted patio, the space closed in the cooling autumn weather, and Jin locks the door. He barely has time to inhale and turn before Joon’s behind him, pressing into his space.

“You seem to have a lot of experience in illicit afterparty affairs, Seokjin,” Joon says, eyes flashing and the cool wind making them both shiver, still sticky with sweat from the club.

“Yeah, I just might have,” says Jin.

Joon’s fingers are already tightening around Jin’s hips as Jin twists around, wanting to see Joon’s face, but Jin lifts his chin anyway, daring Joon to make something of it.

Before Jin can think, Joon brings both hands up to cup his face, yanking him forward and licking into his mouth like he wants Jin to forget everything beyond the two of them, on the precipice of what Jin knows will be one of the best fucks of his life thus far.

He moans and Joon bites into the kiss, his hands all over Jin’s ass, squeezing over the silk, sinking beneath the waistband to feel flesh. He tugs Jin hard against him, pushing up with his thigh between Jin’s legs, and Jin ruts back recklessly, trying to shove his fingers up Joon’s dress shirt, searching for his heat. Joon changes the angle of his hip and Jin’s mouth drops open, vision shot with specks of light at the sensation.

Joon kisses him on an inhale, like he’s trying his best to breathe Jin in, and suddenly his desire makes him keen, needing for Joon to be inside him and within him and buried in the very centre of him, like nothing he’s ever wanted before in his life. Every spot where Joon has his hands on him, running down his sides, through his hair, on his neck, feels like he’s on fire, as his blood plummets straight to his dick.

He feels like if it weren’t for Joon’s tight hold on him, he would shake apart, scattering into a thousand pieces over Seoul.

Both of their trousers are tight and unforgiving; they don’t leave enough room for movement that Jin needs and whimpers until Joon shoves him back around and pins his hands to the poolside bar. A rush of dizziness from the sudden movement overtakes him, until he realises his hands are on top of Jin’s, his body splayed against his.

Jin can feel the length of Joon's body, solid and warm, pressing into his back, his ass, the backs of his thighs. His arms shadow Jin’s, inflexible and unyielding. It’s too cold and uncomfortable, but Jin needs the sharp edge of pain to keep him from thinking clearly.

Seoul shimmers in a strobing blue in front of him, the black night air bringing only the muted sound of the rush of cars below him, the city pulsating alongside his desire.

He tries to thrust back against Joon, but Joon refuses to give him any friction. Some nights, Joon takes his sweet time, kissing him like they have all the time in world.

This is not one of those nights.

Joon yanks Jin’s pants down, taking his underwear with them. The metal edge of the bar is a cold shock across Jin’s skin compared to the heat of Joon. A sudden touch of skin between his ass makes him clench his muscles and strangle a moan in the back of his throat. There are long fingers, there is the sudden touch of lube, and there is that familiar sharp edge as his prostate is hit, again and again. Suddenly a blunt pressure pushes into him, and he eases back against the slow, delicious burn. He can still feel the smooth chill of silk on his thighs. Joon hasn’t pulled his own pants down, only pulled himself free so that he can slide himself inside Jin.

Joon has one heavy arm folded around Jin’s chest, cushioning him from the bar. Very slowly, Joon pulls back, until only the head of his cock is still inside Jin’s body and Jin is hissing and writhing, desperate to be fucked hard and fast. 

“My selfish, Jin-ah, always wanting what he can’t have,” drips from Joon’s lips as he presses into him slowly again.

He reaches for his cock and manages to pump his hand around it once, twice, before Joon is catching that hand and shoving it back to the bar, palm down.

“Baby, we both know you aren’t gonna come until I say you can” he says.

Jin squeezes down through his body and Joon grunts at the tightening of muscle around the sensitive head of his cock.

Baby, if you don’t fuck me until I can’t fucking remember my name, I’ll go find somebody who will. I’m sure there are plenty of people downstairs who would love to,” Jin says, tilting his head to lick at the underside of Joon’s jaw.

The little hit of jealousy is enough. Joon thrusts forwards. He knows the exact angle to hit to pound out all of Jin’s breath and send shots of pleasure skittering along his wrecked nerves.

They fuck in earnest, loud and hard, like the music which they can still hear vibrating beneath them.  He lets out a long groan, and lets his head fall between his shoulders as Joon fucks him. 

It’s rough and messy and fast, and Jin’s orgasm is torn out of him, like a screaming high note, as he feels the wet spill of Joon’s come, deep inside.  The pleasure is drawn out, almost too much in his drunken state, and Jin is shaking, eyes blown black by the end of it.

He turns and they pant into the sweat of each other’s necks as they come down, until the blood stops pounding and the echo of city begins to filter in. Then, they disengage and tidy themselves away with shaky hands.

They sit by the pool for a while, hands tangled, neither saying anything, but both not wanting to leave the moment.  It’s safe up here, quiet, an entirely different world from the one below them.

“Do you remember the first real thing you said to me?” Joon asks, after some time, his voice soft and quiet over the sound of the night.

“You don’t know me,” Jin says, without hesitation, turning to look at Joon.

He doesn’t turn to Jin at that.

Soon, both of their phones light up with texts from the others asking where they are. He takes one last exhale, and then he grabs Joon’s hand and leads him across the roof, only letting his hand drop to his side when they enter the club again, the noise hitting him like a immense wave, the sight of Joon disappearing into the crowd sobering him up.

(Oh, but I will.)

Later that night, when he’s in his bed, feeling impossibly lonely, he makes a list in his head just before he falls asleep.

Here is a litany of things that Jin wants but cannot have:

A weekend free in the next six months.

A bowl of his mother’s bimbibap on tour, just the way he likes it.

A leading role in a K-drama.

A night where he doesn’t feel like he needs to drink himself into oblivion.

A life of his own.

Kim Namjoon.

 

+++

 

The meaning of them is the space between them and the meaning is their two years difference, perhaps, or seven years of understanding. Meaning is the slick stomach flip of a hairpin turn and they’re reaching a new one every other mile now.

Sometimes he has false conversations in his head, sometimes he just wants to ask Joon, wait. Where are we headed to now?

Joon could say, Somewhere.

Joon could say, I don’t know.

Jin might reply, Oh baby, I’ll go where you go, but he’s learned that he’s a coward so he’ll say, Take me back to when our hearts weren’t in this. When it was safe. When I didn’t have to face my fucking fears.

Namjoon, standing next to Jin could say, All right, leaning out of his window, lean and beautiful and sometimes Jin thinks he’s lost, but he’s not, he knows exactly where he is, and Jin will see this coming before it hits him, like car lights before the impact. 

Joon says, “I’m coming with you.”

Jin says, “No.”

“I don’t need you to protect me,” he would say. “I know what I want, and it’s nothing to do with you.”

“You might be older than me, but I know better,” Joon might say.

“You don’t know anything.”

Meaning is the space between the two of them and meaning is the tilt of his head, too close to Jin, always too close for comfort, and it makes Jin feel fucking alive.

“You don’t have to stop and wait for me,” Jin will say, and he’ll trap his fingers right over Joon’s pulse.

“What else could I possibly do?” Joon says.

 

+++

 

Because everything begins and ends in media res: Jin, alone in the a dark and empty bathroom, glass on the floor and his own blood on his hands.

This is where it ended, on the last night of their world tour at the peak of his life, like his gaze in the shattered mirror isn’t enough of a self-inflicted, vicious metaphor. Jin takes most of the blame for it, as he’s the one who got drunk before the show, and slid up to Joon in the middle of his chorus, wrapping his arms low around his hips, swaying to the music. The audience screamed, and Joon stiffened, a hollow smile planted on to his face.

Jin wanted to kiss him right there, lick into his mouth, filthy and obscene. He wanted to shut down twitter. Fuck the consequences, he’d take them as they come. He bumped his hips against Joon’s and spun away with legs made of jelly, the lights making him feel like he was reeling.

The concert was over and Jin was hyper-aware of Joon next to him as they were walking down the hall back to the ready room, feeling the heat radiate from him in waves and heavily reconsidering that public display of whatever that was. Joon still hadn’t said anything, let alone cast a look in his direction since their bow. Suddenly Joon stops and pulls Jin to his side, letting everyone pass.

“We’ll just be a moment,” he tells Jungkook, who was the last one off the stage. “Tell the others, Jungkook, yeah?”

Jin has no idea what’s going on, but Joon leave his side to stride down an unlit hallway, and Jin has no choice but to follow him, slipping into a dark bathroom and shutting the door behind them.

Joon pulls Jin into him, not allowing him breath, not allowing him doubt, in his claim of a kiss.

It’s like they’re drunk, or maybe that’s because Jin is drunk, an edge tied in with a near proclamation of love or lust or that they’re fucking or much more, the absolute thrill of it all that leaves the both of them shaking.

And Joon’s on his knees, and Jin’s eyes are already blown black with want, he didn’t realise how much he wanted this again, always more, always one more time, until they’re in the moment again, right back here again. And Joon is on his knees, mouth already around Jin, eyes shining bright and clear and real, the heat between them so perfect and then ––

“Fuck, I think I might love you,” Jin breathes out while Joon’s lips are wrapped around the base of him.

Looking back, Jin doesn’t know why he said that, in that context, that way. Maybe he has a cruel streak, maybe he wanted to punish him for never truly letting Jin in beyond sex, hit him while he’s at his most vulnerable, mouth around his dick.

Joon pauses, head resting on Jin’s thigh, and then slowly rises to his feet, lips still slick with spit, cheeks red with a horrible mix of lust and shock and fear.

“What did you say, Seokjin,” words slow and careful.

Jin stilled, hands splayed on the cool tile behind him. “I didn’t say anything.”

He quickly zipped up his jeans, suddenly feeling sick.

Joon nodded once, twice and slowly backed away, his eyes shuttering close with an emotion Jin didn’t want to read into.

“Joon, I didn’t mean it, honestly, just forget about it.” Jin said, more urgently now at the look at Joon’s face. “Please —“

Joon cut him off abruptly, “I know you didn’t mean it, but you can’t just say that, Jin. You know I can’t ever give you what you want back.”

Jin looked down to see that his own hands were shaking as they hung by his sides.

“Whatever we’re doing, whatever this is,” Joon says, gesturing between them, “It can’t continue. One of needs to stop this before we fucking ruin everything because we forget about the world we live in and the consequences of breaking the rules. You risked everything on that stage tonight by doing what you did, Seokjin. Our reputations are our lives. We can’t have a relationship. We can’t have anything more than this.”

He exhales, and runs his hands through his hair. “Fuck, Jin, how did we end up here.”

“Well, what now, Namjoon,” he shouts, his voice echoing in the small room. “We can’t just go back to how things were before this. There wasn’t a before. We’ve always been like this.”

“And we never agreed to anything more,” Joon says, “We did it your way, no strings and no attachments and all that shit. And it killed me. Did you know that? Did you ever stop to think about what I needed? I was never allowed anything more, and now you suddenly want to talk about love.”

He laughs, it coming out somehow as a sob.

Jin went silent after his first words hit him, face pale, staring at Joon from across the small bathroom. He felt nothing but his heartbeat drumming in his ears.

“I… I don’t think we should do this anymore. I can’t do this.” Joon finally stutters, walking backwards, hands held out like they’re meant to defend himself against Jin, or pacify him.

He’s never heard Joon trip over his words like this, Jin thinks with a sort of vicious clarity. Joon turns and opens the door without even a glance back, shutting it with a slam that sounds a lot like finality.

Jin stands there for a moment, swaying. He realises for the first time that Joon was the only thing that made him feel alive in a long time, and now, without him, all he could see ahead of him was blackness. He slams his fist into the mirror, because he wants to feel something other than the feeling of such sudden absence, because deep, deep down maybe he likes the excess of such an act.

The blood drips down onto the floor, and he slumps forward, head resting on his hands . And so this is how they ended, Jin thinks. Over the one thing they both danced around for years. Joon has both of their reputations to protect. Jin should’ve known this was coming. To think this would last forever was fucking foolish.

He washes the blood off his hands and quietly walks out through the door, only stopping once to alert a staff member that there’s a glass hazard in the bathroom. 

 

+++

 

A memory, a vignette, shadowed and darkly shimmering around the edges. It’s very late at night and this time Jin is half asleep on his bed, Namjoon cross-legged at the far end. Namjoon looks up from his book, he’s reading Rumi now.

Namjoon looks up and Jin closes his eyes. He starts reading softly out loud, his low timbre rushing into the room like the river meeting the sea.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”

Jin drifts asleep, Joon’s words wrapping themselves around him, sinking into his skin.

 

+++

 

Yoongi and Jin walk back from the café, taking the long way home, Yoongi knowing that he needs some time away from the other boys.

It’s late summer, the humid heat finally starting to burn itself off into cooler eastern air and the river Han flat and shimmering like champagne.  It’s Yoongi’s favourite time of year, and he walks slowly, face tilted to the low late afternoon sun. They walk through the park near their building, hidden under the cool, damp trees, and Yoongi knows what he needs to do.

He walks over to sit beneath a towering camphor tree, and pats the spot next to him.

Jin looks at him strangely, and walks over, leaning down with a sigh as he tosses his jacket down to sit on.

They sit in silence for some time, the only sounds the hushing of cicadas and whisper of wind through the leaves.

Yoongi turns to Jin and looks him over, really noticing for the first time the dark circles under Jin’s eyes, how thin his wrists have gotten, how there’s no laughter left in his eyes.

By now, everyone knows about Joon and Jin’s breakup. Joon fucked off, practically moving out, but Jin hid it well. At least at first he did, until one late night Jungkook heard cries coming through the wall and found Jin with a litre of vodka, sitting in the middle of his wrecked room, a cacophony of his books and clothes and photos strewn around him. He sobbed into Jungkook’s arms until Yoongi was called home and got him into his pyjamas and a glass of water and heard everything from beginning to now, now with Jin curled up into himself, dark hair and dark eyes. Hobi had kept quiet, keeping his promise until the end.

“Hey hyung, you really look like shit,” Yoongi says, with a soft laugh and sad eyes as he catches Jin’s gaze.

“You always look like shit,” Jin laughs, the smile not quite reaching his eyes.

“Jin-ah, did you love him?”

Jin misses him like a special type of madness, dreaming himself backwards to relieve the pain again and again and it hasn’t gotten easier with time, with sleep, with alcohol, with anyone else to distract him.

Five months and three seasons have passed since him and Joon broke up. A winter, spring, and summer without him. And soon it would be autumn and a new album and a new year and the rest of a life and Jin wouldn’t be able to share any of that with Joon either.

“He understood me, and I understood him.”

“I don’t think it’s too late, you know. To make things right again.”

“I don’t know if that’s true.”

“You were best friends once. Your hearts are connected. That sort of thing doesn’t ever go away.”

Jin looks at him, pain shattering in his eyes. Yoongi exhales.

The trees sway above them, casting them in golden light and shadow.

 

+++

 

This time Jin is drunk and Namjoon isn’t.

Jin slips into the flat, quietly shutting the door behind him with as much grace as anyone coming home at dawn can.

By the time he kicked off his shoes and scrubbed his face in the sink and poured himself into his room, the sun was rising above the horizon hinting at a dawn that’s never poetic to Jin. From his window Seoul was bathed in pale pink, the slow transformation from night to day made itself known in the beginning rumbles of traffic below him. He leaned his head out of the window, letting his eyes close as the cool breeze swept over his hair, catching his fringe in the wind. He was fucking tired. He felt fucking empty again.

He stood there, the white noise of the city tumbling over him, suffocating everything else. In a quick moment his mouth parted, a whisper released into the wind, floating past the blue.

I miss you so fucking much.

Jin huffed a sad laugh, knowing that this is where he’ll always end up regardless of any earnest attempt to move on or the beds he wakes up in the morning or the paths he takes or time or time or time, he will always end up right here. Hungover and alone at dawn, missing Namjoon with the sharpest ache he’s ever felt in his life.

Despite everything, he can’t move forwards, can’t forget how much he wants Namjoon like a part of him is lost forever. And that’s the cruelest bit of it all. He’s sick of it.

The last edges of the night are wearing off into a dull ache behind his eyes, and memories come pounding back despite his desperate attempts at repression. A club, after a bar, and another bar, and rounds during dinner, and beer in the park sat under the tree with Yoongi who thought he needed to get drunk, like that ever solves anything — well, I need a drink anyways, hyung.

A hand crawling up his arm, detached from its body in the strobing lights and shadows. Bites down his neck outside the venue and his head hitting the rough concrete wall and a taxi to the girl’s place. She looked good and Jin didn’t want to think anymore, doesn’t want to feel anything except easy, uncomplicated sex. 

And now he’s here, thinking about Joon again.

Before he can think, Jin’s taken his overnight bag out of the closet, throwing clothes into it. He suddenly decides that can’t stay another night here, not with Joon’s absence deafening, Jin’s heartache undeniable. He’ll go home. He’ll sleep in his childhood bed and come back to Seoul for shows and forget about Namjoon. Learn to be okay, remember how to be alone again.

He opens his door and immediately is shoved back inside. 

“Where the fuck where you,” Joon says, mouth snarled.

Jin is too damn shocked to give an answer, still processing who the hand holding him against his own bedroom wall at four in the morning belongs to.

He follows the arm up to Joon’s face, his dark fringe falling across his face and eyes, tired and angry. Jin realises with a sudden punch how drunk he is right now, how much he’s not even close to being ready for this confrontation.

Joon shoves him again, whispering a violent edged, “I asked you a question.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you.” Jin says, shoving his shoulder with his free hand.

Joon releases him and Jin yanks his shirt down, feeling desperately out of control. He shoves past him, Joon stalking after him, until he roughly grabs his shoulder when they reach the front door, Jin’s hand on the handle.

“If you thought you were being so exceptionally discrete,” Joon says, gritting the word through his teeth, “you’ve never been further from reality. Honestly, Jin, a fucking public club? You should see the photos already online.”

He laughs, somehow turning the sound into a threat.

Jin looks past the dark line of Joon’s shoulders and through the living room windows at the blue clouds just outside.

“Oh, it’s so typical for you not to have anything to say.” he says, “Seokjin, I have to applaud you for fucking up this badly.”

Suddenly Namjoon stalks forward, hands shaking when he rips Jin’s collar down, obviously seeing the evidence of his night, and sharply inhales when he saw the bites cascading down into the shadows of his rib cage in stains of red and blue and black.

“Did she do this to you?” Joon asked, a sharp desperation leaking into his voice.

Jin’s laughed, loud, recklessly. He didn’t feel like being quiet anymore, he felt like he wanted to hurt Joon with all the ammunition he has.

“Just because you fucked me once doesn’t mean you have dibs, Joon-ah,” he says, stretching out his name like a taunt.

Joon yanks Jin forward and Jin comes without a fight, body limp. He wants this, he tells himself. This is better than the months of silence. Better to let Joon’s hate burn his blood white then have nothing at all of him.

“I can smell her perfume all over you,” Joon sneers right in Jin’s face. “Did you like that? Did you love her hands all over you, her lips all over you, getting you off? You fucked her, didn’t you?”

Joon tightens his grip in Jin’s shirt, holding himself like he can’t decide to drag him closer or shove him away, and Jin finally violently shrugs off Joon’s hold, opening the door. 

“Do you love her? Do you fucking love her?” Joon shouts, his voice breaking off the walls.

Jin whips his head towards Joon at that, anger blurring his vision, fury rising in Jin’s chest like the roaring swell of a crescendo, a lividness he had never experienced before; not the anger of having been denied something, but a more complex fury, one that hummed right through his ribs and pulsed its way upward towards his throat. It cuts straight through the bone, in the way that no person other than Joon has achieved.

“Oh, so now you think I’m capable of such a thing,” Jin yells. “Of love. Too bad you decided that you don’t give a fucking shit about me, not even enough to at least give me a real fucking reason why you couldn’t give us a chance.”

Joon takes a step back, his face suddenly blank like he wasn’t expecting Jin to be the first to mention it.

“I look at you and I don’t even have a clue what is going on inside your head, like why you think it’s okay to not talk to me for fucking months but that it’s perfectly fine to fuck me in the middle of the night only to wake up and pretend like it never happened.”

Jin was gasping, tears in his eyes, blurring Joon’s edges in the dim light. “Why you think it’s okay to fucking destroy me like this when you made me believe that I might’ve been more than a quick fuck all those years to you.”

Jin closes his eyes. He breathes out. He opens them. Joon stares at him. He picks up his bag lets the door slam behind him, echoing down the hall.

There aren’t any taxis outside his street at this time of day, so he slowly walks to the station, the city still quiet. He calls his mom, who picks up on the first ring, to let her know he’ll be staying there for a while. He goes through the motions. He drinks his cheap coffee. He boards his train, and falls asleep to the quiet rush of the tracks, the slow climb of the sun warming him through the window.

When he wakes up, he has seven missed calls from Namjoon, two from Yoongi, and one from Jimin. He turns off his phone.

The train pulls into his home station, the familiar sight of the platform a grief in its own right. He sees his family’s car idling outside, its exhaust visible in the cold morning. He pulls his bag from the overhead rack and steps outside, stopping just past the station entrance.

His mum, waiting outside the car, rushes over, wrapping him in her soft embrace. He drops his bag and brings his arms around her, tucking his head into her neck, feeling like a small boy again. He tilts his face, trying his best not to cry, but it comes out all the same, a quiet sob wracking through his body.

“Oh, my Jinnie. I know. I know,” she says. “I know.”

They drive home, and Jin puts his bag down in his old bedroom, gets into his childhood bed, soft sheets decorated with dancing jungle animals, and sleeps.

 

+++

 

He wakes up to his phone vibrating. It’s early afternoon but the sky outside is white with snow that’s blanketing the ground. It’s a quiet, still moment, probably the only one in Jin’s life for a year now. He sees Joon’s face on his screen, the photo he set as his contact years ago of the both of them after dance practice, cheeks pressed together and eyes shut in laughter.

He lets it ring once, twice, before picking up, letting his silence be the answer.

There’s nothing, and then a breathed, “Seokjin,” like Joon’s plan began and ended with Jin not picking up the phone.

Jin doesn’t say anything, instead he stares at his ceiling. There’s still the glow-in-the-dark stars he would count before falling asleep, feeling comfort in the knowing that they were watching him as he slept.

You think that’s what it all was in the end, then?” Joon says quietly over the phone, nearly unheard. “That I thought you were something to throw away that easily?”

Jin sits up, not wanting to take this conversation lying down anymore.

“Joon, you left me without any answers, leaving me to pick up all the pieces on my own.” Jin suddenly feels so deeply exhausted, like the weight of the last six months has just collapsed on his shoulders, making Jin sway on the spot.

“You always thought I’d be the one to leave, didn’t you. Why did you leave first.” Jin breathes out, no anger left in this body, leaving him empty.

“But it’s not a problem. I don’t want this anymore,” he says.

"If there is no problem, then why are you running. Why the fuck are you running from me. If there is no problem, why are you scared of this,” Joon says.

“I’m not scared, I’m not, why would I be scared of you,” Jin says.

He hears Joon make a small noise on the other end. Maybe it’s a sigh, maybe it’s a sob.

“Do you wanna know what I think, Jin? I think you’re afraid of letting people in. You’e afraid of getting hurt, so you hold everyone at an arm’s length, because you hope to god that if you act like nothing ever affects you, then it might come true. But baby, everyone is afraid. Maybe it’s hopeless, blind faith, but you just have to trust that they won’t hurt you.”

“This isn’t weakness, Jin, this is something on an entirely different plane and I promise you that no one will think any less of you if you let this thing happen. Just…. let it be.” Joon says.

(Oh christ, I just wanted to fuck you and then I terrified myself. I wanted you to love me.)

Maybe it’s just the static, but Jin thinks he hears the soft sound of snow fall where Joon is, over the crackling phone line. He imagines he’s standing on the station platform, huddled against the cold, and a deep and profoundly private part of Jin somewhere hopes to god that Joon chases him.

“Let what be,” Jin says, at last, devastated. “It’s not like what we have is perfect, it’ll never be perfect.”

“You shouldn’t be afraid of love,” Joon say and that does it, he breaks, the layers around him falling down like a house of cards.

He presses his hand to the window, a sob wracking out his body. “You still left.”

“Joon, you still left me.”

“I ran because I saw how much it hurt you to get close to me. I left because I thought I could stop it before it ruined both of us, so I could save us. But I was wrong. I was so fucking wrong, Jin, it feels like I can’t breathe without you.”

“You don’t get to say that I have to stop loving you, now,” Jin says.

“Even after all this, you still love me?” Joon asks, his voice soft and hushed over the phone

“There is nothing in this world that could make me stop, Namjoon,” says Jin.

There is a long pause and he think he hears Joon laugh over the phone, a soft exhalation cutting though the static.

“Fuck everything. Jin, I mean it this time. Fuck everything else. I want you. Where even are you? Why are you never here when I need you to be? I’ll come to you right now, please hold on. Please,” rushed out of Namjoon, desperation sharpening his voice.

“I’m home, Namjoon. I’ll be here,” he says, and hangs up.

As soon as his closes his eyes, the skies open up, the snow swirling around his bedroom.

His dreams this time, all of them drenched in a painful sort of desperation, the kind that makes you wake up gasping, tears pricking the eyes.

Jin dreams in ultra-violet, sudden flashes of Joon, white-hot and sharp-edged.

 

that one night that he read my mind and

poured lemon tea in a champagne glass, for me, 

and asked me if i wanna go to mars and watch the world spin.

 

that one morning i woke up in his bed,  thinking i might need him forever, 

we played destiny’s child at dawn,

we might never leave his room. 

 

today he likes falling leaves, 

yesterday it was paint strokes, 

tomorrow might be koi fish.

 

when he said, ‘baby i’ve been ready for you since the beginning, 

i was never satisfied with first base,

i ’ve been widely known to cause earthquakes.’

 

his face through the dark tint of the mercedes, 

laughing, laughing, laughing,

rice wine and liquor.

 

hands under the swing of my jacket

exploding supernovas on bare skin

a hidden world centred on heat, breathless.

 

joon moving with the concert strobes,  silhouetted against eclipses, 

playing the game to change the rules. 

 

joon.

joon.

joon.

 

+++

 

It’s close to evening, when his mother comes in and says, “You have a guest, Jin.”

“Is this a boy to be invited in?” she asks, a quiet smile on her lips.

He gets up without a word, and walks to the door. Joon is standing in the doorway, soaking wet from the snow and dripping all over the floor.

His mother takes his coat to be hung up, with a thankful bow from Joon, and he follows Jin up the stairs, neither saying anything, both saying everything that can be said. Joon follows Jin through his door, and Jin shuts it, reminding himself of all the memories of them, alone in rooms, superimposed unto one another, one after the other, one after the other.

Joon looks at his shoes, muddy on Jin’s bedroom floor. He’s there and he’s standing and he’s whole, and it suits him, Jin thinks, taking up space in Jin’s bedroom, like they didn’t meet when Jin was already ruined, angry, but before.

(Days after they meet for the first time Joon says, You’re an ungrateful bastard,” laughing. Jin doesn’t smile. “I might be a bastard, but I’m never ungrateful.")

“So, you’re here,” Jin says.

“So, I am,” Joon says.

Joon takes a deep breath. “I wish you could’ve seen the absolute shit show back at the company. Both of us disappearing hours before the debut. It’s causing mayhem, you would love it.”

He smiles, his face a rare kind of open and hesitant, eyes flickering from his floor to his face to the floor.

“You’re not meant to be here. I’m not neccesary, but you, you’re irreplacable.” Jin says.

Joon centres his gaze at Jin, a mimicry of that night after the concert, him slowly backing away, the gulf between them growing larger and larger. Jin fully expects him to do the same now, walking out of that door and never coming back.

And that would be the right choice. Jin would never get another good night’s sleep again, his heart would remain in pieces, but he would move on in time, both of them would. But tonight, tonight Joon takes a step forward, closing the space between them.

“No, I’m not,” Joon says, “But, well, you weren’t meant to leave.”

He grabs Jin’s wrists, holding them tightly in his large hands, not afraid of breaking him anymore. “I don’t want to go back, because my life isn’t there in some stupid fucking concert. Let the media talk, the others will be fine. My heart isn’t there. Not when I’m looking at it right now.”

They reach each other, hands unconsciously tangling in the dark of his room.

The world shifts, just enough to make a difference, like the night on the banks of the Han that Jin still replays in his head years later, but this time it looks a lot like last chances.

Joon leans into Jin, like so so many times before, but this time it’s feels like new. Every part of Joon that touches him feels like the start and end of every damn thing. Like every one his windows are thrown open. Like spring after a long decade of winter.

“I am so sorry,” Joon presses into his skin.

“I am so fucking sorry, Jin-ah.” Joon whispers against his mouth, both of them tasting salt and blood and pain and grace.

“I’ve missed you.” Jin’s voice breaking with a quiet grief, pouring through the cracks of the barriers he’s built upon since they met.

“I don’t want to talk about it anymore, please let’s not talk about it,” Joon pleads, face buried in the softest part of Jin’s neck, cheeks wet.

He kisses the words out of Jin’s mouth like he’s carefully taking each one into his own and running his tongue over the edges, making sense of them, putting them in the deepest centres of his body.

This is his apology, Jin knows. This is Joon’s promise.

“I feel like I went through the entire world to find you again,” Joon says. “I spent every night thinking about why I did what I did.” He runs his hands up Jin’s back, slowly, feeling every dip of his spine. “I was afraid for the both of us, but now I’m not.”

 

+++

 

It’s Jin’s turn to be the responsible one.

Joon makes it hard, with his arms wrapped around him, hands trailing over his ribs and over his stomach, like he suddenly decided that he doesn’t want to let go of Jin ever again.

He leaves an unsteady Joon in his room and says goodbye to his mother, kissing her on the forehead and breathing in her perfume.

“I think… that it’s my duty to be back in Seoul. I’m very sorry, I need to go,” he says.

“I’ve been wanting to say this for almost a decade now, Jin-ah, but damn duty if it’s not what will make you happy. Do you want this, Jin-ah? Forget the company for once, and place yourself first. What do you want to do?” she asks, eyes piercing.

Jin thinks about the boys waiting for them back in the city, who would give up their lives for any of them without a second’s hesitation. Jin thinks about the boy in his room, who takes up space in every moment, every memory, every second of Jin’s life.

(He’s in a car with a boy, and he’ll go places with him, but not just yet. He’ll see what he sees. Jin doesn’t realise this yet. There’s only two years between them, seventeen, nineteen. He is young, and Jin’s young. He doesn’t know just how young they are until much later.)

In a sudden moment, he realises he’s been terribly selfish.

Like a dark thread running through his life, he’s always acted like the world is out to get him, empty him, the stakes high and his odds even lower. He’s spent more days drunk than not, he’s fucked over the people he loves, he’s gambled with more than he’s been given. He never wanted to be ungrateful. But maybe Joon was right at the end of the day. Fuck, if he didn’t go it about the wrong way, but it was there. The empathy, the understanding that Jin had only half a heart in this life, one foot in and the other out, always tensed like he was going to run. Joon knew him better than he did. He’s been so tired, lately. He didn’t want to run anymore. Maybe it’s time to stay.

“I think I want this. I’m still figuring things out, but, yeah. I think I might need them. Everything, him.”

She wraps his scarf around him, and places his hand on her cheek, resting her head. “You’ve been through so much, Seokjin. I hope it is easier for you, with him.”

They have Jin’s mom drop them off at the train station to get the high-speed back into Seoul, hands held close under their thick puffer coats.

It’s still snowing as they speed through the outer suburbs of the city, and as Jin gets off the phone with his managers, hushing them with a of course we’ll be there in time, no, there’s nothing to talk about, yes, have a car waiting for us, Joon is looking at him with wide honey-brown eyes, cheeks red from the cold, and says, “Do you still really want me after all I’ve done? After all this time?”

Jin turns to him, and says “I’ve been told that I’m very stubborn. I don’t give up that easily, Joon. We make each other alive, does it matter if it hurts sometimes?”

They arrive at the station at dusk, the habit of publicity separating them by a few strides, Namjoon up front, always up front as they walk to the taxi bank.  He suddenly stops and turns around, winding his long arm around Jin’s waist tucking him close to his side. His eyes are hidden by sunglasses and his face by his mask, but Jin can tell he’s grinning.

He punches his arm, “I didn’t consent to this public affection.”

Namjoon flicks Jin’s cheek, and tightens his grip, his laugh bounding across the snow-softened streets like a thousand birds taking flight.

By the time they get to the venue, they’re hurried away by a panicked staff to get their hair and makeup done and Jin receives smacks to his head to by his noonas for skipping the soundcheck and sympathetic mutterings of heartbreak makes you do crazy things. Jin doesn’t see Joon or any of the boys until he’s thrown out into the hall just before the stage.

Their choreography keeps him and Joon separated, but that doesn’t keep Jin from making eye contact across the stage with a few tens of thousands of people watching them, lights exploding and evaporating around them like falling stars.

He’s spinning, hand in hand with Jungkook, making himself dizzy when Jin when he hears the stadium plummet into an anticipatory hush, and he looks over to see Joon at the front of the stage, standing tall in silhouette, staring at him across the space between them for what seemed like a lifetime, his soft sweep of hair lit by the concert lights like a halo behind him.

It’s his solo, and he sings, Joon steadily holding his gaze while a wave of camera flashes engulf them both in light. Joon sings and Jin is motionless.

The other boys stare back and forth, the lights reflected in their eyes like planets, and when Jimin leaps on Joon’s shoulders breaking the moment they all swept away back to their places, Jin laughing, laughing, for the first time in a long time, the sound enveloped in the deafening, shimmering air around him.

because of you, i know why human and love sound similar. you make live to a love.

you make live to a love.

 

+++

 

Later that night, after Joon, after the best they’ve ever had, after Jin kicks off the duvet in Joon’s room, breaths still staccato, nerves still on high from the come down, after he detangles his legs from Joon’s and gets up to throw the window wide open, letting the cold air cool the sweat off his skin, Joon follows him, like they’re tethered, and kisses him, gently, devastatingly, right behind his ear in the same spot he’s kissed since the very beginning.

“I want to know you,” he says.

“You do know me. More than anyone else,” Jin replies, shivering from his touch.

“But I want to know you entirely. I want you to give me everything you have. I promise I’ll take care of you for as long as you want,” Joon whispers, his words settling in Jin’s heart.

“If you think I don’t want this forever, you don’t know me very well at all. You might get bored of me.” Jin says, eyes shut, head leaning back against Joon’s chest.

“Then let me in, Jin-ah. So I can prove you wrong, everyday.”

He turns Jin around, so it’s Joon’s bare back to the window, taking the cold for him, looking down at him. It’s dark and quiet in the room, but he’s nonetheless blinded by Joon’s smile, sunlight from the wellspring inside him, and it’s the most beautiful thing Jin’s ever seen in his life.

It's messy—a wrong angle, Jin's teeth too sharp against Joon's lips and his fingers pressing bruises into Joon's collarbone, his jaw, his ribs.

Their legs are tangled together again, and god, this is the way it's supposed to be with them, Jin hurriedly concludes. Unwavering, honest, profound. In love.

Jin pulls back to breathe when it's finally too necessary, lungs on fire from the feeling in his chest, the kiss.

“I’ve been told I’m excellent boyfriend material,” Joon murmurs against Jin's lips, and Jin laughs a little, shakes his head and kisses the corner of his mouth, running his hands along his chest and shoulders.

“Who told you that? Your fans?”  

“I’ll prove it to you.”

“And just how might you do that," he asks, and Joon looks up with a disreputable grin on his face.

"I can think of some ways, right now.”

“Right in front of the window? That might cause a scandal," Jin replies, and he smooths Joon’s hair off his forehead, impossibly fond.

  He links his arms loosely around Joon’s hips, and walks them backwards until the back of his knees hit the bed. He tumbles down with Joon and arches into him, already aching with the need to have close.

He’s just got Joon and it’s already not enough, a lifetime might not ever be enough. But for now, they have all the time they need. He grabs the duvet and pulls it over both of their heads as they press into each other in the dark, fingers in each others hair, promises in each other’s mouths.

“You’re going to stay,” Joon says, but it's a question.

“Yes," Jin says, and then, “You’re going to love me.”

“Yes."

Jin breaks into a smile, leaning in for another kiss, and another, and another, and another.

Yes.