“It looks awesome!” Taehyung shouted, throwing his arms around Jimin and Namjoon’s shoulders so suddenly that they both wavered. “Guys, we’ll have so much fun!”
Jimin smiled, looking up at the big building labelled Busan University of Art. Wide, square, bathed in sunlight, stones led to huge stairs and an entry framed with concrete columns. The creamy-white structure was making quite the impression, especially against a background of rolling hills and a blue sky.
“I heard they have a huge library where you can also find comics. Even those from the 40s,” Namjoon buzzed.
“You’re such a nerd, Namjoonie.”
“Like you didn’t know, party boy.”
They teased each other, just like they always used to. Taehyung and Namjoon had forever been oil and water and Jimin wondered how they’d ever become friends. Taehyung was loud, always swamped in a crowd of other people whereas Namjoon preferred to stay home with his nose buried in a book.
And then there was him. Jimin. Who didn’t know what kind of person he was. With these two beside him, he could be the silliest dork and really quite sociable but as soon as Taehyung was introducing him to strangers, he didn’t know how to start a conversation.
But he felt blessed for having Kim Taehyung in his life. With him, his social calendar wasn’t a total disaster and at least there was someone to cheer him up when he was feeling dull. It wasn’t like Namjoon couldn’t do the same but, as a hyung, he was more like a voice of reason than a pick-me-up.
He’d actually been the first friend Jimin made in high school and it had been so much easier to get closer because they were neighbours for years and their parents were friends years before either of them even existed. And, as a hyung, Namjoon was always taking his side whenever school made things difficult.
That was actually how he’d met Taehyung. It was kind of a funny story because Taehyung was Jimin’s classmate but they’d never spoken. Jimin thought that the chatty boy with the big ears and the low voice would be too much for someone as withdrawn as himself, but one day, he saw him in Namjoon’s house, playing Xbox.
That’s how they’d become the Busan Trio – and, just to be clear, the name was Taehyung’s idea – but for some reason, the unity had made Jimin so much happier and far less lonely.
Speaking of which, things had changed since the other two started to date while Jimin stayed single. Namjoon had a girlfriend back in Seoul and he was visiting her every weekend, and Taehyung couldn’t get enough of his high school sweetheart, Yoongi. They’d even decided to study at the same university.
“Hey, what’s up?” Yoongi called, approaching the three friends and pulling Taehyung closer. “How’s your schedule?”
“I’m starting classes on the first floor.”
“Okay, let’s meet later, babe.”
Taehyung sighed and kissed Yoongi goodbye. A few people shot them sideways glances, dripping with surprise, but neither of them cared. Jimin wished he was that brave.
“What are we having now?” he asked as they trooped into the building.
“Copyrights,” Namjoon responded, scrutinising his timetable. “You’ve got it on the first floor and I’m in the room beside you.”
“Wait … Did you print our schedule?” Jimin scoffed, eyebrows arching in incredulity.
“You’re welcome kids,” the taller boy answered proudly, handing Taehyung a similar piece of paper. “I’m afraid that I’ll have to babysit you two for the rest of my time here. I can’t believe you didn’t even know when your classes were.”
“That’s why we have you, hyung!” Taehyung laughed, prodding him in the back.
They ascended the stairs, side by side, and Jimin couldn’t deny that even that simple act felt awesome. The steps were made of marble, complete with a black railing carved into the shape of leaves and flowers. Just like some kind of palace.
He still wondered how he’d made it as a student of such a prestigious university. And it was even more exciting to have his friends by his side.
When they passed the dining hall, he drew to a stop at the sound of music and looked around, identifying the source of the tune as a neighbouring room where a group of people were gathered, stretching out their muscles as though preparing for a dance class.
Jimin could see everything through the glass wall and he watched as some guy dressed in all black made a graceful spin, looking up at another dancer for approval. It seemed that they were discussing techniques and they were clearly having the time of their lives.
Something clenched around Jimin’s throat and he took a step back, Taehyung reaching out to put a hand on his arm.
“I still can’t believe you didn’t get in there.”
“Tae …” Namjoon hissed, rolling his eyes.
“I just meant that they’re idiots if they didn’t notice Jimin-ssi’s talent.”
“Come on, Tae. I just wasn’t good enough.”
“No. The chairman of commission is just an old prick who doesn’t understand modern dance.”
Jimin laughed at Taehyung’s words. The kid had always been his number one supporter and he loved him for it.
“Maybe you should try next year,” Namjoon offered.
“Guys, I just started media management and I’m staying there.”
“If you say so,” Namjoon sighed as he moved on down the corridor. “See you around.”
Classes were reasonably practical and the professor didn’t beat around the bush, giving them real examples to violations of rights, and when Jimin and Taehyung left the hall, Namjoon was already waiting for them with some other guy he’d probably met along the way.
“Hey, guys! This is Hoseok. He’s a dance major.”
“Nice to meet you.”
He seemed familiar and only then did Jimin recognise him as the boy he’d seen in the dance class. As they were standing there, shaking hands and exchanging introductions, a boy in combat boots and trousers with huge pockets appeared right in front of them.
“Jungkook?!” Taehyung laughed, giving him a high five across their little cluster. “You’re studying here, too?”
“Yeah, how are you, bro?” the tall guy grinned, lips stretching in a wide smile as they hugged.
He seemed laid-back and cheerful. And he was very handsome.
“This rascal,” Taehyung laughed, still holding onto Jungkook’s hand as he pointed to him. “We met at a concert in Seoul like … two years ago?”
“Or even three.”
“Yeah … And we were partying like mad. The best party ever. I haven’t heard from you since then. How have you been? And why the hell didn’t you invite me on facebook?”
Jungkook chuckled before launching into an explanation about how he was studying dance in the US and had barely had time to use any form of social media due to the tightness of his schedule.
“Wow, that’s so cool,” Taehyung grinned, eyes widening in excitement.
Jimin was just standing to the side, watching the exchange, and even Namjoon and Hoseok had to stop their conversation because of how loudly Taehyung was laughing.
“Hey, man. I get that it’s cool to meet an old friend but I can’t hear my own thoughts,” Namjoon pointed out, gesturing to his ears.
At the same time, some other guy with brown hair and thick lips approaching the group and came to a stop in front of Namjoon.
“Oh!” he cried, lips splitting into a dazzling smile. “Hi, Rap Mon.”
“What the fuck? It’s been so long!” Namjoon laughed with obvious surprise, stepping forwards to engage the newcomer in a tight embrace. “Guys, this is Jin. My senior from high school. We used to prepare radio auditions together.”
Jimin remembered. Jin was this funny guy who was always spewing dad jokes at anybody who would listen. And his laugh was unforgettable.
“Did you change your major, hyung?” Namjoon asked.
“No. It’s my second major.”
“Whoa. Hyung is so smart.”
“And how do you know each other?” Taehyung cut in, pointing at Jin and Jungkook.
“We’re actually cousins,” Jungkook informed him, his attention travelling over to Jimin. “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“We’re soulmates,” Taehyung declared, wrapping his arms around Jimin from behind.
“Are you dating?” Jin asked and Jimin took a whopping step away from his friend.
“No,” he said, maybe a little too quickly, feeling uncomfortable under Jungkook’s amused gaze. “We’ve just been friends for ages.”
“Chill out, bro. I know his ass belongs to Yoongi,” Jin giggled. “We’re on the same group chat.”
Jimin wished he could feel more relaxed but he was too anxious to make a good impression on all these new people. Or maybe it was because of this cool guy in black? Yeah, Jungkook seemed cool. But he must have thought that Jimin was overreacting.
When the boy looked at him again, Jimin instead focused his gaze on the rest of the group, not wanting to make eye contact. But it didn’t change what he already knew: Jungkook was incredibly, ridiculously handsome.
There was no use denying it. His sparkling eyes were big and coloured with a beautiful chocolate hue and, like that wasn’t enough perfection, his smile was sweetness personified and every time it graced his face, his nose would wrinkle in a funny way. Not to mention the smooth skin and thick glossy hair brushing his forehead.
“I’ve never seen you before at parties with Tae,” he said.
“Um … I might not have been there,” Jimin mumbled, only allowing his eyes to settle on the taller figure for a second before he looked away again.
“He hates partying,” Taehyung added, ignoring the way Jimin stamped on his foot. “And he’s …”
“Tae, I’m hungry!” Jimin interrupted before anything too personal was revealed to this complete stranger.
He knew that his friend didn’t want to be rude but he had a big mouth and sometimes it just needed to be reminded how to shut.
“Oh, right, guys. Let’s go eat. Dinners here are really nice,” Namjoon spoke up and Jimin shot him a thankful smile, grateful for his quick wit.
It was funny, really. Everybody seemed to be meeting someone from their past but Jimin hadn’t been awarded that same fortune. But if a ghost from his life did happen to pass by, he wasn’t sure he’d be nearly as happy as he was just hanging out with his friends right here, right now.
“His lips look swollen. I heard that he uses filters to make them look that big?”
“Really? So gross. He looks like a fish with this fat face.”
Girls kept whispering to each other in front of the lockers, but Jimin wasn’t deaf. He knew exactly who they were talking about but he walked past, pretending that he hadn’t heard anything. They laughed but he didn’t care about them.
The only thing that mattered was what that guy from the year above thought about him and, speak of the devil, there he was emerging from his classroom.
“Hi,” Jimin greeted, just like always.
“Hi,” came the answer, complete with that award-winning smile.
It was progress. Thanks to Taehyung’s sociability, Jimin had been able to introduce himself and start saying ‘hi’ to his crush. Now he was even receiving a smile in return. Maybe he liked him, too.
Taehyung had said that he might prefer guys as well but then, in one second, all Jimin’s hopes were dashed as the guy stopped in front of a girl and kissed her. With a fucking tongue.
And like that wasn’t enough, he glanced up at Jimin like he wanted to make sure he was watching. He smirked, flashing him the middle finger, and it felt worse than being run over by a truck.
More humiliated than he’d ever been before, Jimin turned on his heel and walked away as fast as he could.
“Cheers!” everybody shouted and there was a chorus of clinking glasses.
It was the end of the first week of university classes and the new friendship group they’d formed had decided to perk up a little and go to a restaurant to grab a nice meal and have something to drink.
“By the way, how were your first classes?” Taehyung shot to Hoseok.
“It was really cool.”
“We’re preparing for a dance tournament,” Jungkook chipped in. “It really is an amazing event. All dance departments from various colleges compete in group and in solo categories.”
“Wow,” Jimin whispered to himself.
He almost added that he’d loved to join, completely forgetting that he wasn’t in the same department. And if he said he’d danced for ages, everybody would be curious as to why he hadn’t applied for dance classes. And if he said that he did but he hadn’t passed the audition, they would know he wasn’t good enough.
Anyway, it would be an uncomfortable situation. And people usually asked you to show your skills when you claimed you could do something. He didn’t want to feel the same pressure he’d been under in front of that panel of examiners.
Maybe if he was in a random group of people, he wouldn’t mind talking about himself, but he was among the coolest people on campus and it just wasn’t an option.
Overthinking was really exhausting and that’s where the alcohol came in handy. He took a quick sip of Soju from his glass and waited until the rest of the group had downed their own beverages.
“May I?” he asked, starting with the seniors as he poured another round.
“So kind of you, Jimin,” Jin thanked him.
When he reached the dancers, he leaned over the table and made sure to pour as carefully as possible for Hoseok and Jungkook. They expressed their gratitude and he simply smiled in response. He often showed these kinds of gestures whenever he didn’t know what to talk about.
Otherwise, he would be considered an arrogant jerk who had no interest in anyone else around him.
“To a new school year!” Jin toasted, raising his glass for the fourth round. Or maybe the seventh. Or maybe the twelfth.
Things were escalating fairly quickly.
“What?” Jimin laughed.
“And for a good weekend!” Hoseok crowed.
“For my hyungs!” Jimin joined in, feeling a little braver.
Jin sent him a flying kiss and he sent one back, shoulders trembling with the intensity of his giggling as he brought the Soju bottle back up to his lips.
“Yah! How about those your age!” Taehyung shouted indignantly.
“Come here, Jimin. We young people should stick together,” Hoseok said, patting the seat between him and Jungkook and Jimin moved over, suddenly realising for the first time just how close he was to that incredibly handsome boy.
Even after a considerable amount of alcohol, he felt his pulse increasing.
“Jin-hyung is last in age,” Jungkook contributed. “He started this university in the age of the dinosaurs.”
“What did you say?”
“See?” Jungkook chortled, glancing over to Jimin while he pointed at his cousin, nothing but pure amusement on his face. “Even his hearing’s gotten worse.”
“Do you even know my age, you brat?!” Jin squawked, throwing a napkin at Jungkook who dodged it easily.
Jimin laughed, swatting playfully at Jungkook’s arm. It only took another shot to start fragmenting his memory and all he knew was that he’d poured Hoseok and Jungkook their drinks.
“Jimin, try these warm tteokbokki!” Jungkook said with his eyes half-closed, holding a spoon out towards his companion.
“Yah … How cute. He opens his mouth like a little chick,” Hoseok cooed and then he yawned.
Jimin remembered Taehyung smirk in amusement as Jungkook fed him.
“My name is not ‘little chick’. My name is Chim Chim,” Jimin pouted, squashing his cheeks between his hands.
He might have babbled on for a bit, might have mentioned that he used to dance and he definitely laughed a lot, sprawling across multiple chairs and possibly even somebody’s lap. Fuck …
But then he was certainly sitting on the floor and Jungkook was helping him to his feet. After that, all he remembered were a few disjointed facts.
They’d been waiting for a taxi but Jimin had said he was bored and before anyone even noticed, he was stumbling off towards the subway. He sat down on a bench, eyes drooping shut as he waited for a train that wasn’t coming.
He didn’t even know how he managed to answer his phone.
“How many times do I have to call you?!” he heard Taehyung screaming from the other end of the line.
He didn’t understand what was going on. He’d just heard his phone … or maybe he’d only felt it vibrating in the pocket of his coat, and now he was being yelled at.
“Jimin, where are you?”
“What do you mean, where?” he slurred, surprised that Taehyung sounded so concerned and wondering why he was screaming so loudly.
“Where? Tell me, where are you now?”
“On a train …” Jimin mumbled blankly, glancing around. “I mean, I’m waiting for a train. Why?”
“What?! At 3am?”
“Yes! I’m going home, you idiot!” Jimin shot back, raising his voice and closing his eyes against his pounding headache. “What do you want?”
“Dear God … Do you even know where you’re going? In your state …”
“How can I not k-know the way to my … own house …” Jimin snarled, words slurring slightly, barely keeping the phone to his ear and ultimately deciding to give up, shoving the device in his pocket without even turning it off. “Aigoo … So annoying …”
He opened his eyes and wandered off the platform, coming across a café complete with tables and plastic chairs. He sat there, staring blankly up at the posters of various delicious meals.
“I’m … o-ordering instant noodles … Take out,” he mumbled to himself.
“What are you doing?” he heard from behind him and glanced round to see Taehyung standing there with his arms folded and his eyebrows raised.
He didn’t know how he’d got here so fast. Or maybe it was just his mind playing tricks on him with the concept of time.
“Did you teleport here?” he asked, giggling, but Taehyung just rolled his eyes and Jimin sighed in defeat. “Aish … The waiter didn’t come. I’ve been waiting for hours.”
“This is a self-service shop and it’s closed.”
Jimin blinked up at him before scrutinising the door, finally spotting the sign labelled CLOSED and laughing aloud at his own stupidity.
“See? Good for you that I don’t like drinking,” Taehyung frowned as Jimin reached up and used his friend to pull himself out of his chair.
“You’re my GPS, Taehyungie …”
It was several hours later when Jimin awoke on his well-known bed in his well-known room. He’d lived here until not so long ago when he moved into the dorm with Namjoon and Taehyung.
Propping his elbows beneath him, he shifted into a sitting position and gave a loud groan, bringing a hand up to his head.
“Shit!” he moaned as most of last night’s events came flooding back to him.
And now he was at his parents’ house and he had no idea why. But Taehyung was sitting in a chair beside the bed, watching him as he shovelled spoonful after spoonful of porridge into his mouth, chewing loudly.
“Hmm … Your mom makes really nice breakfast. I don’t even have a hangover but this is too good,” he said, passing Jimin the second portion of porridge gloop. “That’s for you. Your mom told me to call her when you wake up so she can give you a beating for yesterday. But I’ll let you enjoy the food first.”
“Why?” Jimin asked carefully. “I wasn’t really that drunk, right?”
“You demanded the taxi driver take you to your mom so she could prepare noodles for you. You even invited him in for dinner and he thought you were crazy. And now here we are. At your parents’ house. You woke them up at 4am and your father had to carry you to bed because you lay down in the middle of the guest room.”
“And by the way … I never would’ve thought that you’d find Jungkook hot. You mentioned it at least five times in the cab.”
“You lying ass!” Jimin shouted, seizing the pillow from behind him and hurling it at Taehyung who caught it with one hand.
“Did I say anything stupid in the restaurant?”
“You wanted everybody to call you Chim Chim.”
Jimin threw himself backwards onto the mattress and rolled over, burying his face in his pillow with a wail of anguish, “Somebody kill me, please …”
He looked up a few minutes later to see Taehyung engrossed in a text message he was composing on his phone.
“I have quite a few invitations on Facebook,” he said, slowly raising his eyes to Jimin’s face as his lips curled into a smirk.
“I heard that Jungkook is bisexual. He used to date some guy. Jin told me once he’d had a few too many to drink.”
Jimin almost choked on the porridge that he’d only just grabbed from the table, “What?!”
“I never thought you were slow-witted but, to put it bluntly, I just suggested that you’ve got the green light.”
“Please, shut up,” Jimin whined.
“Come on. We both know that you’re into guys.”
“I told you I’m not sure,” Jimin mumbled, keeping his tone low and his eyes downcast.
“Maybe you just need someone to help you figure it out.”
“I don’t want to go out with anyone,” Jimin said adamantly, remembering all his previous attempts and how disastrously they’d ended. “And I’m not going on any dates, particularly if they’re arrange by you.”
“Jimin-ssi, you can’t be single forever because of a few failures,” Taehyung sighed, his brow creased in concern.
“Please, don’t even start. It’s my business.”
2 years ago
They were sitting on the couch, munching on churros and various other sugary snacks. It was just one of those ordinary days after school.
“Tae, somebody sent you a message,” Jimin called just as Taehyung ambled into the kitchen, leaving his phone unlocked and unattended on the table, messages popping up on the screen.
“I’ll answer when I’m back from the kitchen.”
But the messages kept flooding in. Jimin stared at the screen, both confused and impressed, before he noticed a familiar name and his eyes automatically scanned the newest text.
So, please, don’t arrange any of my dates with your dorky friends.
He knew the girl who’d written that and scrolled down to read conversation from the start. It was Tae who sent message first:
Why don’t you want to meet with Jimin again?
Oh, please, he’s so awkward. He talked some weird shit.
He’s shy. Give him a chance.
Keep looking further, dude. He’s not my type. Does he even take care of himself? His cheeks are huge. He looks like a hamster.
You’re such a bitch. I regret even asking you
Then there were three separate responses from Taehyung’s so-called friend:
Sorry. Just honest.
It was cringey.
So please, don’t arrange any of my dates with your dorky friends
“I told you that …” Jimin heard from behind him before the sentence sputtered into silence and he looked up to see Taehyung frozen to the spot, staring at the phone in Jimin’s hand.
“You said she moved to another city and that’s why she wasn’t talking to me,” Jimin whispered, unable to keep the bitterness in his voice.
He threw Taehyung’s phone at him, anger evident in both his expression and his body language, and before the boy could respond, Jimin was out of the room and then out of the house.
“Jimin!” he heard before he slammed the door behind him.
People lose faith in humanity and everything that’s good in this world because of trash like you.
Jimin scribbled in his notebook as the last line in his dialogue.
He’d just finished writing the story of a boy who’d gotten revenge for being bullied and he couldn’t prevent himself from scrawling it down the moment that it entered his mind. It was the same with dance. Whenever he heard music that inspired him, he needed to dance to it with whatever choreography popped up at the time.
Maybe his self-esteem and his communication skills were real shit but he was, at the very least, creative.
Classes didn’t start for another five minutes so he took some time to finish off his masterpiece. He shuffled on his seat, instinctively covering his notebook with his arms at the sound of somebody moving in his direction.
He glanced up at the dark-haired guy with the round, chocolate-brown eyes and the gorgeous face. Jungkook. He was wearing a white shirt and baggy jeans. It was a casual look but the way the shirt wasn’t buttoned all the way to the top made it just a little sexier.
“Hi,” he said, smiling.
“Hi,” Jimin sighed in response, almost losing his breath when Jungkook sat down beside him.
He was still embarrassed after the night of excessive drinking and he still wasn’t sure how much damage he’d done to his reputation.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” Jungkook asked and Jimin quickly shook his head, glancing around him.
The hall was crowded and nobody seemed to want to sit in the first row except a couple of geeks. All the seats at the back were taken and Jimin knew that was why Jungkook was coming to him. There couldn’t be any other reason.
“Seems that we have the same classes together,” Jungkook pointed out, their gazes naturally meeting.
“I didn’t see you last week,” Jimin blurted out, and only then did he realise that he’d made himself sound like he’d been checking every day for sight of Jungkook. “And … Hoseok as well.”
“We had training. We’re still preparing for the tournament. But we’ve also got a casting audition.”
“What kind of casting?”
“They’re looking for backup dancers.”
“That’s cool,” Jimin chirped with sudden revival. “Do you want to be a backup dancer?”
“I guess. Maybe someday I’ll be good enough to dance for one of those really popular idol groups.”
“I wish …” Jimin whispered under his breath, imagining himself up on a stage like that.
“Nothing,” he said, slightly breathless as he came crashing back to his senses, glancing up at the professor who stepped onto the stage. “We’d better be quiet now.”
But the class was exceptionally boring. It was one of the subjects in the core curriculum that nobody really liked, and Jimin’s thoughts were somewhere else anyway.
Obviously, he was unable to forget the fact that Jungkook was so close and he couldn’t help himself from glancing his way every now and again to see what he was doing. But that wasn’t the only thing circling his mind.
Quotes. Random quotes kept popping up out of nowhere and he opened up his notebook, needing to write them down before they slipped from his grasp and were lost forever.
Something as pure as love can’t grow from the dirt in the ground.
He smiled, not even understanding where the statement had come from. Maybe he could use it for another of his stories.
“What do you keep writing?” he heard Jungkook whispering beside him.
“Nothing. I’m taking notes.”
“I don’t think so, Chim Chim,” he teased, leaning closer and grinning cheekily.
“Don’t get angry. It was cute,” Jungkook defended, chuckling at the confused expression Jimin had made at the mention of the embarrassing nickname.
“I always say things like that when I’m drunk. Don’t pay it any attention.”
“I like it though,” Jungkook murmured, and Jimin’s heart skipped a beat. “I’ve never seen someone act that cute while being drunk.”
It took all Jimin’s will power to pretend that those last few words meant nothing to him as he busied himself with inking a thick line in the corner of his notebook.
“So what is it?” Jungkook asked again after a while, probably bored out of his mind like everybody else in that room. “Some nice story?”
“Yeah … I like to write sometimes and then upload them on social media.”
“May I see some of your works?” Jungkook posed the very question Jimin hated so much.
“Oh …” the boy mumbled, withdrawing from the conversation and turning his gaze to his lap, sparking a spasm of guilt in Jimin’s gut.
“I mean …” he started, frantically trying to backpedal as he turned to Jungkook. “It’s nothing that would interest you.”
Jungkook frowned, “How could you know that?”
“It’s for people who like to live in delusions.”
“Hmm …” Jungkook hummed, nodding his head absently as he delved into his thoughts. “What do you mean?”
“I like writing stories about things that will never happen to me,” Jimin explained before hurriedly correcting himself. “That will never happen to the readers, I mean.”
“Why assume the worst?”
And that was it. Nobody had ever been able to understand why Jimin was so negative, and Jimin himself was just as clueless as the rest of them. Maybe it was just wishful thinking that everything would change for the better one day.
It was a vicious circle. He felt lonely because he couldn’t – he was scared to – open up to people, but when he did, he knew how ugly and disappointing he must seem and it only sent him recoiling back into his shell again.
No, he decided. He wouldn’t open up to Jungkook.
He forced a smile. It wasn’t anywhere near genuine, but it had the desired affect and Jungkook smiled back.
“Come on, it’s usually such bullshit that I laugh at it myself. It’s fun. Like imagining going on a trip around the world and shit like that.”
“But it’s still in your mind, right?” Jungkook continued to push. “Like, your dreams?”
Why was he getting so deep with this? He’d never seemed like one of those shallow dudes who didn’t understand when you relayed your life reflections to them, and so Jimin decided that he could share his opinion, too.
“Maybe. But it’s usually personal and stories like that show what bothers you in life. It’s fine when strangers read it, but those you know? Nah.”
“Why do you think that opening up will make people think badly of you?” Jungkook whispered, glancing up to check if the professor had noticed their little conversation, and Jimin was surprised at his willingness to discuss societal problems in the middle of class. “It’s this stupid assumption that we should always show the happy side of us. Aren’t we all human?”
“We are, but we usually don’t talk about the bad stuff in our lives. Even if everybody has it, we hide it and we don’t want to share that sadness with others,” Jimin said calmly, staring Jungkook right in the eye as he spoke.
Gosh, they looked just like a puppy’s.
“Maybe that’s why people go crazy. Because of the weight they carry around,” Jungkook sighed, looking away.
Crazy … Jimin repeated that word in his mind. Would Jungkook think of him as crazy if he spoke up about the burdens he was shouldering?
“So you’re good now?” Namjoon asked as the three of them feasted on their cornflakes at breakfast.
“Yeah. It’s easier to tell them what I feel now,” Jimin mumbled back, spooning the last dregs of carbonated sugar into his mouth. “At least I know I won’t be judged.”
“I can’t believe you thought they wouldn’t understand you. I’ve known your mom and dad since I was a little kid and they’re the softest and kindest people I’ve ever met,” Namjoon continued.
“Guess I needed to be reminded of it.”
“Sometimes you’re such a dumbass, Jiminie,” Taehyung laughed at him and Jimin couldn’t help but smile, shrugging.
Several days ago, when he’d stumbled over his parents’ threshold stinking of alcohol, swinging from Taehyung’s shoulder, he hadn’t been smiling at all.
It was probably a good two minutes that he stood there right outside the living room door, listening to his mother and father conversing in harsh whispers. He’d never been much of an eavesdropper but he’d heard the beginnings of a fight and hadn’t wanted to intrude. That was until he heard his name.
“But why did he get so awfully drunk?” his mother was saying. “I’ve never seen him like this before. I hope it won’t become a bigger problem.”
“My son is not an alcoholic,” his father snarled back.
“Of course he’s not, but maybe he drinks to drown his sorrows? I haven’t seen him smiling for ages. Doesn’t it upset you?”
“I know what you mean. I’ve noticed it, too. I hope he isn’t having any problems at University. He used to be such a cheerful boy.”
Jimin’s feet carried him forwards before he could stop them and the word bubbled up from his throat without warning, his hands trembling at his sides, “Dad …”
“Oh, you’re awake,” his father observed, rising from his armchair with a slightly confused expression on his lined face.
“Were you just talking about me behind my back?”
He didn’t recognise his own voice. It was cold and, above all, offended.
“It’s not …”
“Yah! How should you be talking to your father?” his mother shouted, whipping his arm with the dish towel she was holding. “And how can you eavesdrop on somebody else’s conversation?”
Jimin ducked his head, bringing his hands up to protect his face as his mother continued her assault.
“Such a shameless boy! Coming home so drunk!”
“Mrs Park …” Jimin heard from behind him and peeked through his fingers to see Taehyung standing in the doorway. “Please don’t be hard on Jimin. It was only once.”
Everybody grew silent and Jimin cast his gaze down to the floor, anger boiling inside of him.
“I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment to you, Dad. I’m really sorry,” he growled through gritted teeth. “You probably don’t say it to me because you don’t want me to know that even my own parents see me as a loser.”
“Jimin, darling, it’s not like that,” Mrs Park cooed, the fury in her tone completely ebbing away as she moved forward to lay a hand on his arm.
“I only meant that you’ve changed,” his father said and Jimin’s lips twitched in a bitter smirk.
“Because I’m not like the carefree twelve-year-old I used to be? I’m sorry, but kids grow up.”
“You know that’s not what I meant!” Mr Park suddenly shouted, rage clearly bubbling over, but he seemed to regret the action at once because his facial expression softened when he saw the tears in his son’s eyes. “You enjoyed life. You was meeting many people and you wanted to fight for your dreams …”
His voice cracked and he looked away, clearing his throat awkwardly before continuing.
“We have always supported you as best we could but some bastards made you believe you’re not worthy of it and it breaks my heart.”
“Dad …” Jimin whispered.
He wanted to look at his father but he couldn’t. Everything was blurred through tears but it didn’t matter because his father pulled him against his chest and hugged him tightly.
“We’ve been raising you so you could be happy …” he murmured, stroking the back of his son’s head.
The moment Jimin’s lids slid closed, the tears spilled over in tidal waves and, over his dad’s shoulder, he saw his mother watching him with concern written in every feature of her face.
“You think we don’t see you struggling?” she murmured, bringing a hand up to his cheek as he drew back from his father’s hug.
Taehyung was standing in silence behind them but when Jimin turned to look at him, he broke into a reassuring smile. At least one weight had been lifted off his chest and his parents had heard what he’d wanted to say to them for such a long time.
They were dancing so smoothly that Jimin couldn’t resist stopping to watch the sea of coordinated legs and pumping arms practise their choreography. The last few moves looked excruciatingly difficult but so effective and Jimin couldn’t help but give in to his curiosity, slipping into a side corridor to try the routine he’d seen.
He spun for a quick warm up, shaking his head from side to side to loosen up his neck muscles before he contorted his body into the first few moves he’d already memorised and tried to recreate the masterpiece he’d just witnessed.
But when he turned on his heel, somebody was standing right in front of him, watching with a satisfied smirk. The guy with the dark, fluffy bangs.
Jimin flinched, feeling like he was a thief caught in the act, and he had no idea how long he stood there, just staring at Jungkook without any idea of what to say.
“So it’s true?” Jungkook finally broke the silence, glancing Jimin up and down before raising his hand. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Jimin mumbled back in embarrassment, jerking his thumb towards the end of the corridor.
“You probably don’t remember, do you?”
“What?” he stuttered, finally conceding to look up into those big chocolate eyes. They were so warm and inviting and addictive that it was easy to stare and stare and stare until you completely lost yourself in the deep brown irises. Fuck, this wasn’t good.
“When we were sitting at the table that evening you were telling me how you started dancing and you loved it but you didn’t pass the exam to our department.”
Jimin bit down on his lower lip. He wanted to scream.
“Too bad that you remember more than me, but don’t pay much attention to it,” he finally managed to force out with a fake smile. “It was just drunk gibberish.”
He took a step back, wanting nothing more than to remove himself from this confrontation, but Jungkook advanced, making up for the distance gained between them.
“And thanks to that, I got to know you better,” he said and Jimin realised they were standing even closer now than they had been before.
“Um …” he muttered, looking anywhere but at the face in front of him. “You probably need to go back to practise.”
“You should come and practise with us. We rehearse with Hoseok after classes every Monday at 2pm because the hall’s always free for a couple of hours.”
“Oh …” was all Jimin could say, twisting his lips into another smile.
It was tempting. But how was he supposed to practise with them when he’d promised himself that he would avoid Jungkook at all costs?
“Just saying, you know,” Jungkook shrugged, hiding his hands in the deepest pockets of his military trousers.
He seemed a little taken aback at Jimin’s refusal to give a concrete answer and Jimin found it inherently cute. It was the first time he’d seen Jungkook confused or thrown off guard, not the other way around like it always seemed to be.
Maybe Jungkook wasn’t the cocky daredevil he’d thought he was. Maybe it was just Jimin always getting too shy in front of that tall handsome guy who seemed to be addicted to dark clothes and Timberlands.
Yeah, Jungkook loved Timberland boots. He probably had thousands of identical pairs at home. The thought of Jungkook opening his wardrobe and prompting a wave of boots to tumble out stretched Jimin’s lips into a smile.
“What?” Jungkook asked, shocking him out of his reverie.
“Nothing. Sometimes you’re cute.”
Fuck. He didn’t know why he’d just said that. It was almost like he couldn’t control his own tongue. But then Jungkook’s face brightened and it filled Jimin’s stomach with an inherent sense of warmth.
“Only sometimes?” he asked, his voice dropping several pitches as he leaned closer.
It was only a few inches but the distance was more than noticeable and Jimin couldn’t help but wonder if this boy was flirting with him.
“Stop,” Jimin forced a laugh, swatting at Jungkook’s arm and immediately regretting it when he noticed the dancers emerging from the hall.
“Jimin! Hi!” Hoseok called out, throwing him a wave.
“Hi,” Jimin mumbled back, his face burning with embarrassment at the thought of being caught exchanging flirtatious gestures with Jeon Jungkook.
“We’re going to lunch,” Hoseok invited. “Are you guys coming with us?”
“Jimin, you coming?” Jungkook spilled, once again using Jimin as his sole focus.
“I have things to do. So … I’m going home,” Jimin dismissed, forcing his mouth into a stiff smile that he hoped would shield his awkwardness before hastily adding, “Bye, guys.”
He sent them a slightly half-hearted wave which Hoseok returned at once. But Jungkook didn’t. And he could feel the tall boy’s gaze burning into his back as he turned towards the staircase and hurried down, two at a time.
He could only hope that Hoseok hadn’t interpreted the little moment he’d walked in on as anything more than a couple of pals hanging out. He’d always tried his best to ensure that nobody ever suspected his true feelings and that one weakness had led him into the most hurtful and humiliating experiences of his life.
“Hey!” he heard from behind him, feeling a gentle grip close around his wrist.
“Tae … Where have you been? I waited for you.”
“Namjoon called me. He won’t be coming back today and I’m actually kind of pissed off. I hoped he’d bring us some of his mom’s cooking.”
“Seriously …” Jimin laughed. “We can always eat out.”
“I don’t have enough money.”
“I’ll buy then,” Jimin grinned, ruffling his friend’s hair affectionately.
“No. I bought a monthly package at the college cafeteria. Let’s go.”
Before Jimin could respond, Taehyung’s grip was tightening on his hand and he was being tugged towards the main hall that bubbled with the chatter of hungry students.
“No, wait,” Jimin hissed, digging his heels into the floor and bringing the two of them to a stop when he noticed the dancers sitting at a table near the door. “I told them that I was in a rush.”
“Why?” Taehyung asked, brows furrowed in surprise. “We usually eat with them. Did you have a fight with someone?”
“Come on. We can just go somewhere else.”
“Jimin, don’t be such a hermit,” Taehyung chastised, giving his friend’s hand another pull.
“I want to eat out,” Jimin continued to protest, forcing a smile when Hoseok glanced over in their direction. “Let’s just go.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Do you want to die?” Jimin hissed dangerously.
“What’s gotten into you?” Taehyung suddenly burst out, letting go of the smaller boy’s wrist and turning to face him with the beginnings of irritation dawning on his face.
“Please … Why are you so slow?”
“Taehyung, you rascal!” Hoseok shouted from the table where he and Jungkook sat with the rest of their group. “Are you teasing Jimin again?”
“Fuck …” Jimin whispered under his breath, feeling dozens of eyes all focusing on him.
“Hey, guys!” Taehyung called back jovially. “Save us a couple of seats. I’ll grab some food.”
He sauntered off towards the counter and Jimin was left cowering in the confused glare of Hoseok and Jungkook. He didn’t even know what his facial expression looked like and he wasn’t sure he wanted to.
“He said that he won’t eat without me,” he improvised, floundering to find something that would explain his illogical behaviour. “He thinks we always need to eat together. Aish … This kid.”
“Oh, I see,” Hoseok answered but before he could say anything else, Jimin was already hurrying over to join Taehyung at the counter.
“You’re acting weird, Jimin-ssi,” the boy muttered as he piled several spoonfuls of rice onto his plate.
“Not now,” Jimin whined, giving Taehyung’s elbow a jab so he could reach the vegetable bowl.
The difference in their personalities had always put Jimin on the spot. Of course, their polar opposite demeanours had its advantages such as helping somebody as introverted as Jimin to get to know more people. And it wasn’t like he wanted to avoid the nice guys from the dance department.
It was just that he wanted to avoid Jungkook.
Firstly, because he always felt strangely nervous whenever they were around each other. Secondly, because deep down, he knew why he felt that way and he was trying his best to prevent something like that from starting to develop. But maybe it wasn’t going to be that difficult.
He took a seat beside Taehyung, ensuring that he was as far away from Jungkook as the seating arrangement allowed. Their gazes met but Jimin immediately looked down at his lunch tray and soon afterwards, Jin joined the group along with some guy he didn’t know.
But he wasn’t surprised that Taehyung seemed to be on excellent terms with the new comer as he reached across the table to shake his hand.
“This is my best friend and roommate, Park Jimin,” he introduced his friend to the muscled guy in the tank top and ball cap.
“Jimin? Nice to meet you. I’m Jackson.”
“Nice to meet you, too,” Jimin answered, but even he could tell that his tone was dull and uninviting.
“So you’re living in a flat together with Namjoonie and Taehyung, right?”
Jimin just nodded, focusing instead on his meal.
“Do you know Namjoon?” Jin asked, eyebrows arching. “I thought you seemed familiar. Did we go to school together?”
“Only for one semester. I moved abroad later that year.”
“That’s why I don’t remember you that well.”
“By the way, are you guys going to Jisoo’s house party tomorrow?” Jackson changed the subject, addressing the table at large. “Her parents are on a trip and she’s invited practically half the year.
Jimin could feel Jungkook’s eyes on him but he didn’t take the bait. He had a horrible feeling that there was at least a little anger in that stare.
“Why not? Text me the address,” Taehyung said at once.
“Sure thing,” Jackson laughed before turning to Jimin. “Are you going?”
“Hmm … I might go.”
“Really?” Taehyung spluttered incredulously.
“I need to brush some dust from my shoulders after a lifetime of rooting about at home, right?”
“You’re a really funny guy, Jimin,” Jackson complimented, patting boy on the back.
Well, if everybody around them already knew that Jimin was a hermit – as Taehyung had put it – then he didn’t give a damn about making a few sarcastic comments that poked fun at his lifestyle. He was already fucked.
“I can’t wait for something interesting to happen,” Taehyung said and Jimin sent him warning gaze.
What? his friend mouthed back at him but Jimin just sighed and popped a carrot into his mouth. He could see Jungkook smirking out of the corner of his eye but he didn’t hesitate to look away as soon as Jimin glanced over.
His heartrate sped up.
When Jimin was around people he’d known for ages, he could do the most random shit.
For example: putting Namjoon’s hair into colourful rollers and humming songs from his phone while they waited for their turn at the hairdresser’s. The guy’s name was Mark and he was Taehyung’s gay friend. And also Namjoon’s and Jimin’s.
It was actually Mark who’d helped Jimin figure out whether or not he liked men rather than women. He always had good advice and talked openly about his own sexuality.
Once he’d dyed Taehyung’s hair with streaky highlights, he invited Namjoon into the chair in front of the mirror.
“Same as always?” he asked him.
Jimin only heard a short snippet of their conversation as another song popped up on his playlist and he sang along with Blackpink.
Baby, hold me until I explode
Stop thinking, what’s so hard about this?
Kiss me like it’s a lie
As if I’m your last love
“Moron …” he muttered to himself, instantly skipping the song when the image of Jungkook’s smile clouded his mind.
When Mark smirk and Taehyung reached over to pat his arm, he realised he’d been rather loud with his impromptu performance and they’d all heard him humming along.
“Jiminie, are you feeling okay?” Taehyung giggled.
“Yeah …” he sighed, removing the buds from his ears.
“So you’re saying you’re going to the party as a trio this time?” Mark continued what Jimin assumed was his conversation with Taehyung. “Something new.”
“I know, right? It’s been a long time since Jimin came to a party with us. He used to go more often,” Taehyung answered and, for once, Jimin didn’t mind them talking about him because he knew Mark was trustworthy. “To me and Namjoon, he’s the same cute little Chim Chim but he’s just a bit stand-offish to new people.”
“Yeah …” Jimin mumbled.
“I mean, you were quite cold to that Jackson guy at the lunch room. Is it some defensive reflex when you think someone’s hitting on you?”
Jimin slid down further into the sofa cushions and scoffed incredulously, “I knew it.”
“You arranged my meeting with Jackson? You really should run a matrimonial office.”
“No,” Taehyung defended, swatting Jimin over the head with a rolled-up magazine. “I already gave up because you’re such a picky bitch.”
“I’m not picky. I just don’t want to date anyone. That’s all.”
“But you need to at least try and have fun,” Mark interjected, winking.
“That’s why I’m going with these guys. I should get my head out of my ass.”
“Yup. And it would be better if you took care of someone else’s ass,” Taehyung teased, laughing when Jimin punched him in the shoulder.
He realised too late that Taehyung was peering over his shoulder at the screen of his phone and that he still hadn’t turned off some handsome guy’s Instagram home page.
“Jung Jewon?” Taehyung murmured under his breath, resting his hand against Jimin’s arm. “Did you find Jungkook’s ex?”
“It was in my recommendations,” Jimin lied smoothly but the truth was that he had indeed spent almost twenty minutes searching through Jungkook’s “following” list to find that particular account.
“No wonder … I’ve seen his profile. The guy is hella popular on Instagram,” Namjoon added, admiring his new hairstyle in the mirror. “Almost a million followers. I heard he’s a model or something.”
A model. It wasn’t like Jimin was surprised but something inside stung. Painfully. Because of course. Of course someone like Jungkook would only date the hottest and coolest guy on social media.
“Jungkook has really high standards apparently,” he grumbled before he could stop himself.
“Looks aren’t everything,” Taehyung retorted, his tone lathered with indignance like he’d been personally offended by Jimin’s comment.
Apparently he hadn’t gotten the memo. But Jimin was thankful for that.
“You’re talking like this because you know that you look like a fucking doll and everybody says you’re good-looking,” Jimin teased, reaching up and ruffling his newly-done hair.
“But yeah, this dude looks like an idol,” Namjoon contributed once more as he joined them on the sofa, taking a glance at Jimin’s phone screen.
“But Jungkook is such a damn visual as well,” Taehyung stated. “He could date anyone. If I didn’t have Yoongi, I’d hit on him.”
“I can’t believe you guys are actually gossiping,” Mark laughed. “Especially Jimin.”
Desperate to change the subject, Jimin grabbed the closest catalogue and started flicking through the pages, “What if I dyed my hair blue? I want to look fucking cool.”
“Whoa, Jimin-ssi, you’re getting wild,” Mark grinned suggestively, running a brush through his next client’s hair. “But how about blonde? It’ll look good on you.”
“We can try.”
And here he was. After hours of waiting until the bleach had changed his hair colour, after the trim, the drying, the styling, Jimin finally caught sight of himself in the mirror.
“Do you want your bangs on your forehead or parted?” the hairdresser inquired, playing with the glossy strands. “Or maybe combed back?”
“Parted!” both Namjoon and Taehyung shouted at the same time as Mark brushed Jimin’s hair from his forehead.
He even suggested some subtle form of eye make-up for the party, for all three of them, but Jimin wasn’t really listening. All he could do was stare at the reflection in front of him, wondering how a simple hairstyle could change somebody’s entire appearance.
“Wow, Jiminie,” Taehyung whistled, leaning on the back of his chair and inspecting his friend in the mirror. “If I wasn’t taken, I would definitely have the hots for you. You look gorgeous.”
“Really, Jimin,” Namjoon joined in, squeezing his shoulder encouragingly. “You look handsome.”
“Like an angel,” Taehyung added.
“You mean an angel of death? Because I bet he’d kill anyone he looks at with those eyes,” Mark grinned, clearly proud of his work as he helped Jimin put in a pair of earrings to finish the whole makeover.
Taehyung suggested a matching outfit as his dark jeans and grey t-shirt weren’t even going to come close to the perfection that was his face and hair. It felt kind of crazy to change his entire image in one fell swoop and Jimin had never even dipped his toe in these waters before.
He used to wear … anything, so long as it made him comfortable. But now even he himself had to admit that he looked cool. The colourful sequin bomber jacket made his shoulders look broader. Tight black leather trousers underlined his chiselled muscles and shapely butt.
His fluffy blonde hair was the perfect contrast to his brown eyes and full pink lips and, in that moment, Park Jimin believed that he really was good-looking. If only he believed that others thought so too.
“Why the fuck are they staring? I feel like a monkey at the circus?” he whispered in Taehyung’s ear as soon as they stepped into Jisoo’s house. Everybody seemed to do a doubletake when they saw him. “Is it really that weird to see a nerd coming to a party?”
“I don’t think they give a shit if you used to party or not,” Namjoon said, pouring himself a beer.”
“Jimin-ssi,” Taehyung groaned, rolling his eyes. “You still don’t get it, do you?”
They sat together on the living room couch, surrounded by chatting cliques of fellow students. The house was crowded, the music thumping in their bones.
“It was five or four years ago when those bastards picked on you. We were just kids,” Taehyung continued explaining. “Kids are little shits and they laugh at others but then they grow up. Some of them get smarter. And those who were bullied … well, sometimes puberty hits them pretty fucking hard. You’re an attractive guy for fuck’s sake, Jimin. Sometimes I wonder if you really mean what you say. maybe you just fool us.”
“Why would I? Come on.”
“Well, then maybe you should look at the man in the mirror back in the hair salon rather than the old guy you used to be at school,” Namjoon summed up. Always the smart one. “And by the way, there’s a really hot guy staring at you.”
Jimin glanced round as discreetly as possible but the only person he could see was Jackson who was just chugging a beer with his pals in the corner of the room. He waved and then seemed to decide he’d come over to them.
“Hey … You guys made it. How do you like the party?”
“I need to dance to feel like it’s a real party,” Taehyung suddenly announced, jumping up from the couch. “Come on!”
He took hold of Namjoon’s hand and Jackson did the same with Jimin, both of them pulling.
“Maybe later. I want to just chill with my beer right now,” Namjoon declined.
But obviously, Jimin was never one to refuse a dance. He enjoyed it far too much as long as he was feeling a good beat.
“Yes, Jiminie! That’s my man!” Taehyung shouted when his friend ripped off his jacket and tossed it onto the couch beside Namjoon.
“Whoa, nice moves,” Jackson smirked, moving closer as Jimin couldn’t help but bust out some body rolls.
After just two beers he already felt completely relaxed and didn’t even mind when a few people looked over at him. It was actually an incredible sensation. When he was dancing, he seemed to forget all his shyness.
“You look really hot,” he heard Jackson crooning in his ear.
“Thanks,” he responded breathily, not really sure what else to say in reply.
They danced together and it took Jimin a while to notice that Taehyung had detached himself from their private little disco and had wandered off to greet Hoseok and … Jungkook.
The boy’s eyes stopped on Jimin who desperately tried to cover up his temporary shock by pretending to fix his hair. But Jungkook’s mere presence froze him right to his core.
And right at that moment, a truly sexy song started oozing from the speakers and Jimin couldn’t resist capturing his bottom lip between his teeth. It was a habit he couldn’t control whenever he was dancing to a song he was enjoying too much.
He wanted to look hot. He wanted Jungkook to see. He wanted everyone around to think he was the best-looking guy they’d ever seen. He wanted to feel sexy.
“Cool, babe,” Jackson smirked, leaning even closer.
Jimin ignored the hand that found its way to his hip but when fingers began to trail further down towards his butt, he swatted at the trespassing digits and stepped away, glaring at his impromptu dance partner.
“I didn’t tell you that you could touch me.”
“Are you serious?”
“Oh, fuck off,” Jimin dismissed irritably, distancing himself with Jackson’s rather tipsy figure.
That’s when he noticed that Hoseok and his dance crew had been watching him, probably for the entire time.
“Hey, Jimin! You’ve got some moves! Should we show these losers what a real dancer looks like?” he yelled, jerking his thumb in the direction of Jackson and his friends, all of whom were very drunk.
“Yeah, let’s do this,” Jimin laughed but as soon as he saw Jungkook’s eyes on him, his grin slid right off his face.
“Oh … Hi,” Jungkook greeted and something in his gaze grew a little softer.
“Hi,” Jimin returned. “We’re going to dance. You want to join?”
He didn’t even recognise himself and this newfound confidence.
Jungkook’s quick answer blossomed a sudden warmth in his stomach that he’d already grown more than familiar with. Taehyung raised his eyebrows and smirked but Jimin ignored him, moving to the centre of the dance floor with Hoseok and Jungkook.
“Let’s go!” Hoseok shouted, jumping up and down as the next song started up. “Should we show Jimin-ssi our new move?”
He and Jungkook danced for Jimin in perfect synchronisation and he clapped in appreciation. Jungkook’s dark hair stuck to his sweaty forehead and his moves were sharp and smooth and … he was really good.
“Now show me what you’ve got, boy!” Hoseok cheered, pointing at Jimin who covered his face in embarrassment.
“Go Jimin! Go Jimin!” Jungkook started chanting, a huge grin plastered across his face.
It was the best kind of encouragement, especially when the rest of the students from the dance department – and Taehyung – joined in with the mantra. Jimin showed them his perfect spin and they all whooped and hollered.
He didn’t know how long they were dancing there together but it was already 11pm by the time they collapsed onto the couches for a breather.
“And he kept staring all that time.” Jimin heard from somewhere to his left and turned to face Namjoon.
“Jungkook,” Namjoon laughed. “Who else?”
“So … You meant him all that time?”
Namjoon’s eyes got wider, clearly having misunderstood what he meant but before hyung could respond, Jimin was pushing up from the couch, grunting out a noncommittal “whatever” and marching off to a nearby table.
Said nearby table just so happened to contain Jeon Jungkook, the guy reaching for a bowl of snacks. And he looked so cute as he ate. It was driving Jimin crazy. A few minutes ago, he had looked so mature and sexy while he danced but now, he just resembled an innocent little puppy.
The list of things Jimin found cute in this boy was getting longer by the day. Maybe he was already tipsy, maybe it was temporary insanity but he approached the tall dark-haired boy with Bambi eyes and smiled.
“It’s so hot here,” he commented, suddenly laughing at himself when he realised just how suggestive he sounded.
“What?” Jungkook giggled even if he didn’t get it. “You want to get some fresh air?”
“Hmm … Yeah.”
They headed to the door and stepped out onto the porch together. Mission failed. Some girl was vomiting over the railing while her friend held her hair back.
“Sorry,” she apologised, cringing in embarrassment.
“Okay, let’s go,” Jungkook said, pulling Jimin back inside.
“Yeah. I’m suddenly not that eager either.”
“I feel a bit dizzy.”
“What? Really?” Jimin shot sharply, slipping his arm around Jungkook’s waist. “You should lie down. Come on.”
They wobbled up the stairs and into the first free room they could find. Jungkook sat down on the bed with a thump but not once did his fingers relinquish their hold on Jimin’s hand. If the situation was any different, Jimin would be blushing but now he just felt worried.
Jungkook smiled slowly, nodding in relief, “I am now.”
Jimin sat down next to him, not missing the way Jungkook’s gaze moved from his eyes down to his lips.
“Is your beer good?” he asked, still staring intently at Jimin. “I haven’t tried that one yet.”
“Um … Yeah,” Jimin stuttered, completely caught off guard. “Mango flavour or something.”
He felt the warmth of Jungkook’s fingers on the hand that was holding the beer. Jungkook took it from him and brought it to his mouth, taking a swig before his gaze snapped straight back to Jimin.
Had he been lying about not feeling well? He seemed totally fine now, not to mention that they were sitting a lot closer to each other than they had been before.
Jungkook leaned closer, so close that Jimin could feel the breath on his neck. He turned his head and that was when their lips connected. It was a short but firm peck and Jimin’s heart leapt into his throat.
“You’re right,” Jungkook whispered, licking his lips. “It tastes so good.”
Jimin could barely get the word out, still gaping at Jungkook in a stunned stupor. He didn’t answer, studying the details of his companion’s face and, somehow, that felt even more intimate than the kiss they’d just shared.
“You’re so gorgeous,” Jungkook growled, his voice suddenly husky.
“Oh, please …” Jimin dismissed, still fighting with this unfamiliar euphoric feeling. He wanted to sound like Jungkook’s words had no effect. “What else have you got? ‘Your eyes are so beautiful’?”
“Yes, they are. Everything about you is beautiful,” Jungkook gulped, his Adam’s apple bobbing against his throat. “I was going to say it a long time ago but now I feel like an idiot because you mocked me.”
“I didn’t mean to mock you. It’s just …” Jimin faltered, unable to hide the nervousness in his voice. “Why are you doing this? Are you drunk? Because it’s not funny.”
“What’s funny about it?” Jungkook asked quietly, not even bothering to conceal the resentment in his words, his eyes darkening. “You know, you can think whatever you want but I’ll keep saying what I feel. You do with it whatever you will.”
And that was what made Jimin reckless. But oh, how good that recklessness felt. He leaned in closer to Jungkook and kissed him, his hands resting against the broadened chest.
“That was really sweet,” he mumbled against his lips, instinctively yearning for more.
Jungkook’s pupils widened and a weak smile sprouted on his face as his hand found its way to Jimin’s thigh, “Park Jimin … What am I going to do with you?”
Their lips collided once more and Jimin couldn’t help but deepen the kiss. Jungkook’s tongue caressed his lower lip, his hands moving up and down on his thighs and his back and he pulled him closer. Jimin clung to him, letting out a shuddering moan at the feeling of a mouth on his neck.
“You taste so good,” Jungkook murmured, sounding a little breathless. “You really are as sweet as you look.”
Their tongues rubbed against each other and Jimin suddenly felt how tight his jeans had gotten beneath his waistband.
“Fuck …” he groaned. “Then I wonder what you taste like.”
“Then go on,” Jungkook challenged.
Their mouths latched onto each other, messily, sloppily, wetly and full of moans and sighs. Jungkook pulled back to take a look and Jimin melted at the sight of his messy hair, caused by his own hands.
“You can have all of it, babe,” he said as Jimin climbed onto his lap, unbuttoning his shirt. “Take it all.”
His hands were shaking with growing arousal. He wanted to touch his chest. To kiss it, lick it, bite it. Jungkook groaned as the touches he longed for finally arrived, Jimin dry humping him slowly. Their crotches rubbed against each other, Jungkook growing harder by the second and Jimin longed to ride him.
Jungkook ripped off Jimin’s shirt, relishing in the view of the beautiful blonde rolling his hips on top of him. His mouth was emitting the most gorgeous sounds, juicy lips gaping open in pleasure. Jungkook dreamed of inserting his dick between them.
“Yeah …” Jimin moaned.
“You like it?” Jungkook whispered in his ear, feeling the tremors that ran down the boy’s’ spine.
“Oh, yeah,” he whined as a tongue grazed over his earlobe.
“Yeah?” Jungkook kept teasing, feeling himself getting painfully hard beneath Jimin’s movements.
“Fuck, I love the sounds of it,” he growled, wrapping his arms around Jimin’s waist and flipping him over so that he was lying flat on the bed.
Straightening up, he kicked off his jeans and then climbed back onto the mattress. He unzipped Jimin’s fly as the boy stroked his dick and once both of them were completely free of clothing, Jungkook leaned down to lick the hard, pulsating cock.
“Jungkook …” Jimin moaned as Jungkook took him in his mouth. “Fuck, so good.”
Jungkook’s movements were slow but his lips were tight and it felt heavenly.
“Fuck, yeah,” Jimin grit out, clenching his fingers in the bed linen.
“You do that because you know it sounds fucking hot, don’t you?” Jungkook murmured, pulling off for just a moment.
“No,” Jimin answered innocently, nibbling on his lower lip, knowing full well that he was just turning Jungkook on even more.
“Okay, I do lie,” Jimin chuckled, rubbing Jungkook’s dick in his small hands.
“You’re so hot, Jimin-ssi. Why are you like this?”
“Jungkook … Shut up and fuck me.”
Jungkook spread Jimin's legs and took his sweet time kissing his muscled belly, coming to a stop on his lips. He moaned inside his mouth and it made Jungkook pull him up and clench his fingers on his butt, Jimin tightening his legs around his hips.
,,Shit, hang on,” Jungkook cursed, wriggling free of Jimin’s grip and reaching for the table beside the bed. “Gotta use protection.”
He wasn’t sure what he would have done if there not been a couple of condoms pushed into the very back of the drawer and he thanked his lucky stars that the owner of this bedroom at least knew their stuff.
Jimin whined and Jungkook shushed him as he slid the latex over himself before returning to the prone figure impatiently awaiting the touches he’d been so cruelly deprived of. He braced his hands against Jungkook’s arms as he felt his dick entering him slowly but sharply.
“Yeah, baby,” he groaned, moving his hips up and down.
Jungkook pushed harder. Jimin tried to kiss his lips but at the same time he moaned when Jungkook changed the rhythm and made it faster. It was like he couldn't stop fucking him, pushing his dick inside his ass as deep as he could.
Jimin’s back arched off the sheets, his legs spreading wider, hips raised. Jungkook couldn't resist running his hands over his torso, bringing his lips to the caramel skin. Jimin moaned loudly, almost shaking when his lover's moves became rougher. He had never been fucked this way. Gentle and yet brutal at the same time.
Jungkook leaned down to kiss the belly and chest that were moving faster due to which the speed its owner breathed. He pressed his body against Jimin's, almost lying on top of him and he thrust his dick deeper, groaning close to his ear.
Jimin clenched his legs harder and dug his fingernails in the skin of Jungkook's back. He made him fuck him even harder by grabbing his muscled ass and directing a rhythm by the movement of his hips. It felt so good and they both let out pleasurable moans simultaneously.
“Come here, baby,” Jungkook gasped.
Jimin moved back on his knees, already knowing what to do when Jungkook lay against the bed sheets. When. When he got rid of condom, he took his cock in his mouth, looking Jungkook straight in the eye while he did.
“Fuck … That’s so hot,” he whined, watching Jimin's lips moving swiftly around his whole length.
It was deep and he even felt the gentle graze of teeth. His legs shook as he grew closer to his climax, in danger of coming in Jimin’s mouth.
“Wait …” Jungkook was only just able to gasp out.
He quickly raised himself off the bed and pressed Jimin back into the sheets again. The older boy thought of how hot a view it was when Jungkook looked over him like that with his sweat-soaked hair plastered to his forehead and his eyes darkened with lust.
“I want to.. come inside y-you,” he panted, stroking his swollen cock and putting another condom on.
He entered him again and pushed harder when Jimin nodded and bit down on his lip in excitement. He kept pumping his hand around his hardened dick while Jungkook was fucking his hole.
He felt a grip on his wrists and then Jungkook was pounding harder, faster, suddenly bending. Jimin could feel warm fluid running down his thighs and Jungkook's naked body lying flat against his chest. He came right after Jungkook, gasping in exhaustion.
“Fuck …” Jungkook sighed in satisfaction, rolling onto his back.
He gnawed on his lip, turning to Jimin who was still gasping. He shuffled lower down the bed and caressed Jimin's buttocks, inserting his fingers and relishing in the moan he elicited.
“So pretty,” he murmured, kissing his back and then his neck.
Regrets and guilt could wait until later.
But no, it was already here for Jimin as soon as Jungkook lay his head on his chest, fingers brushing his arm. He felt like crying, realising how affectionate and good it all felt.
How did they even end up in this room, fucking so senselessly? He would never – not in a million years – have imagined that he would end up having mindblowing sex with his crush.
“Me and Jungkook had sex at the party.”
“You did what …?!” Taehyung spluttered, almost choking on his hamburger as Namjoon’s eyes bulged to the size of dinner plates.
“Please,” Jimin hissed, glaring down at his lap in embarrassment. “No judging.”
“I’m just … surprised,” Taehyung covered up, still coughing slightly as he shook his head. “Wow, Jimin. You got wild pretty fast.”
“Oh my God, shut up!” Jimin whined, covering his face with his hands and slipping further down in his chair.
“Wait … So what’s the problem?” he heard Namjoon ask.
“It was awkward.”
“The sex was bad?” Taehyung prodded, and Jimin almost screamed in response.
“So it was good?” Taehyung didn’t even seem to care about Jimin’s death stare at this point. “Yeah, I bet he’s had a lot of lovers. Guys like him …”
“Tae! I swear, someday, I’ll …”
“So why was it awkward?” Taehyung interrupted with a whine of impatience and Jimin let out a sigh as he remembered Jungkook’s expression in the darkness that night.
“I took my phone like someone had just texted me, I pretended I had something important to do and I left the room.”
“Okay …” Namjoon acknowledged slowly as he and Taehyung exchanged a glance.
“Why the sudden silence?” Jimin shot back. “You’re making me nervous.”
Taehyung gave a shrug of defeat, jerking his thumb in Namjoon’s direction in a clear indication that he wanted the older boy to do the talking for him so he didn’t make things worse.
“Well,” Namjoon started cautiously. “Now Jungkook probably thinks that he did something wrong because I doubt he bought that excuse.”
“No. I don’t think he cared that much. It was probably nothing more than a one-night stand for him.”
“Do I sense regret?” Taehyung cut in, sniffing Jimin up and down like a dog. “Yeah. I smell regret.”
“Dude, you’re so weird.”
“That’s why we’re friends,” Taehyung grinned, pinching Jimin’s cheek. “Because, Jimin, I hate to break it to you, but you’re weird, too.”
But before Jimin could smile, he was punched in the arm, “Ouch!”
“Who leaves like that right after having sex?!”
“I chickened out!” he defended, curling up in his chair as Taehyung’s gaze turned serious, a clear mix between compassion and concern.
“Jimin, you can’t run away your entire life. Just give it a try.”
“There’s nothing to try! Firstly, we were both kind of drunk and … I doubt he thinks of me as someone he could date.”
“So what are you going to do now?”
“Great plan!” Taehyung sighed dramatically.
Jimin opened his mouth to respond but Namjoon beat him to it.
“Jimin-ah, what did you feel after you decided to leave that room?”
Jimin snorted at the older boy’s official tone and the way he was leaning forwards in his seat, elbows on his knees as though deeply invested in the conversation.
“You sound like a therapist, hyung.”
“Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Namjoon countered calmly, a slight smirk exposing his dimples. “I think some therapy would help you to figure quite a few things out. So?”
“I can’t, Joonie,” Jimin deflected on impulse. “Have you seen him? He’s got everything. Looks, talent and a great personality. Guys like him date someone equally awesome.”
“I knew it. You like him,” Taehyung declared just as Jimin realised he regretted spilling his thoughts like that.
“No. I don’t.”
“Because you’re scared.”
“Yes, I am,” Jimin admitted at last, surprising even himself.
But, after all, they were friends and had been for years. It would be stupid to hide all his fears and weaknesses from them when they already knew how badly he was struggling anyway.
“Everytime … Yeah.”
He didn’t finish, but they knew how he felt. They always did.
“Jimin-ah …” Namjoon sighed, his tone soft as he rested his hand on Jimin’s arm. “You can do what you want but you should at least explain things to Jungkook. He must have felt pretty awful.”
Jimin couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t like Jungkook had hooked up with the hottest guy on campus so he shouldn’t be feeling … what was it? Rejection? No, it was just him. Just Jimin.
Jungkook had definitely had better looking and more exciting lovers in his bed. The sex had been good. At least, it had been for Jimin, but … any of that wasn’t going to happen.
“You don’t know for sure what Jungkook felt,” Jimin countered instead.
“But I know how intensely he was staring at you at the party. Hoseok told me that, last week, he kept telling him that you should join them for practise sometime.”
“What?” Jimin breathed out, too shocked to even bother hiding his surprise.
“What I mean is that he seems like a nice guy and I think that he may have feelings for you,” Namjoon continued, but it was just the one word that stuck in Jimin’s mind.
May. He may have feelings for him, but that didn’t mean he did for sure.
Namjoon definitely noticed Jimin’s not-so-subtle eye roll but he kept talking nonetheless, “And he did nothing wrong, but he also has no idea that you’ve met some pretty shitty people in your life and that’s what made you so guarded. Most people – especially nice people – usually look for the reason that something didn’t work out. Only toxic idiots put blame on other people in an attempt to hurt them.”
He’d always been so good with words.
“Okay, you’re right,” Jimin admitted, nodding slowly, but, of course, Namjoon wasn’t done.
A simple conversation about hooking up and one-night stands seemed to have suddenly transformed into Namjoon’s intellectual monologue.
“It’s actually a really interesting course of events. Somebody hurts you and so then you hurt somebody else because you don’t want to be hurt again. It’s kind of like a domino effect.”
Taehyung smirked in Jimin’s direction before investing himself in his phone, knowing that Namjoon’s rant wasn’t going to be ending anytime soon.
3 YEARS AGO
At first, Jimin thought it was strange to meet someone through a dating app when he was only eighteen, and it wasn’t like he didn’t have plenty of opportunities to socialise in real life. Well, theoretically …
But after that incident with the senior who’d made fun of him before kissing another girl in front of him, Jimin decided that he would avoid everyone from his school society. Most of them knew he had a ‘thing’ for men and they were always sending him judging looks. Some of them had even called him a ‘faggot’.
The prospect of being treated the same way by the guy he’d connected with through social media was terrifying but someone he’d managed to convince himself that rudeness only existed within the four walls of his high school.
He was wrong.
The guy was hot. Jimin had concluded that the moment he first saw his photos. Big, dark eyes and rock-style clothes. He seemed interesting and by their third meeting, they’d already kissed a few times.
Jimin thought that maybe they would become a couple but then he heard something that caught him completely off guard.
“I met with this chick yesterday,” the guy told him, completely casual. “It was kind of strange. She kissed me when it was only our first meeting.”
“Oh …” was the only thing Jimin could think of to say.
Had he really just been told, right to his face, that the boy he’d been (unofficaly) dating for almost a month had made out with somebody else?
“What do you think?” the guy continued, clearly unbothered by Jimin’s surprise. “Does it mean she’s cheap?”
“Because she kissed you first?”
“Maybe it’s you who’s cheap,” Jimin snapped, unable to keep the bitterness from his tone as he realised that he’d somehow managed to get himself in this situation again. “Why do you only blame her?”
“I mean … it’s flattering that I got her so horny but it got me thinking, you know? Am I weird?”
Who the fuck did he think he was? Not only was he completely disregarding Jimin’s feelings but he also thought it was appropriate to use him as some kind of counsellor?
“No, you’re a fucking asshole,” Jimin snapped, leaping up from the table and grabbing his jacket. “But that’s good to know. At least I won’t waste any more of my time on you. Bye.”
Maybe that was the trigger that changed his entire perspective, maybe it wasn’t. But from then on, Jimin was done with being treated so badly.
It wasn’t until a few months later that he received a message from one of Taehyung’s friends.
Hi. IT’S JAEBUM. CAN WE MEET TOMORROW?
Jimin just stared at his phone screen, refusing to believe that Taehyung had given his number away to this guy. Then again, he had always been the mother of fools.
But maybe this situation was different. Jaebum was a ‘verified’ friend and that certainly decreased the chances of Jimin’s heart being ripped out of his chest yet again. Too bad his attitude had already changed so drastically …
“Fuck,” he mumbled under his breath, knowing it would be unkind just to ignore the offering. “Okay. Get over this shit.”
OKAY. I’LL LET YOU KNOW IF NOTHING COMES UP.
They eventually met two weeks later, after Jimin had run out of reasons to cancel at the last minute, at a pub in the evening, and the first thing Jimin observed was that Taehyung’s friend was tall and pretty decent-looking.
Maybe he could even admit that he was handsome.
“Jimin?” the boy asked tentatively, and his eyes bore a striking resemblance to a cat’s.
“Exactly,” he answered with a smile.
They sat down together and initiated their first bout of small talk. It was only when Jimin realised how desperately he was trying to come up with new topics to discuss that he wondered if that was the reason why he rarely had any second dates.
Was all of this his fault? Had he just not been lucky enough?
He finished his latte, which had long since gone cold, and let out a sigh as he regarded the boy before him with caution.
“Listen, we can get over it,” he blurted out, causing his date’s eyes to widen in surprise. “You must feel awkward since Tae probably convinced you to come out with me.”
“Get over it?”
“Yeah. Let’s just leave it at a one-time thing. You don’t have to feel obligated,” he explained, already starting to regret his bluntness. “I know you’re not anyway but … my friend really likes to arrange meetings.”
Jaebum’s expression softened a little and he even smiled.
“I see … And you hate that?”
“I’m … um … I’m not sure if I want to date anyone at the moment,” Jimin answered, trying to be as sincere as possible.
“Well, I’m open to meeting new people so it’s not like I’m here to be punished.”
Two hours after they parted ways, Jimin’s phone vibrated with a new message.
DO YOU MIND IF WE MEET AGAIN SOME TIME?
“What? He wants to meet again?” Jimin whispered under his breath, gawping at the words on the screen.
“Is that a bad thing?” Taehyung questioned but Jimin just shrugged, sinking down next to him.
“I don’t get it. It wasn’t the most exciting date.”
“Apparently exciting enough for him to want to see you again.”
“It’s because he thinks I’m hard to get,” Jimin decided after several moments of thinking. Or overthinking.
“What?” Taehyung choked, his expression painted with confusion.
“People are so weird. As soon as I give up on this shit and stop caring, the first random guy I see wants to meet again.”
Taehyung grabbed a cushion and flopped back against the couch, whining in exhaustion, “Stop overanalysing it. It’s not that deep.”
“It’s actually really simple. I said I don’t date so he wants to see if he can make me change my mind. It’s a hetero thing. I bet he’s just another straight guy with gay fantasies.”
“Jimin, stop it. He’s one of my good friends and I can promise you he’s 100% gay. And he’s not one of those morons,” Taehyung grit out, his eyebrows creasing in irritation. “Do you want to see him again or not?”
“I don’t want to.”
Taehyung sat up, practically growling with frustration, “Then why did you agree to go on a date with him in the first place? I don’t get it, Jimin.”
“Because you forced me!” Jimin shouted, seizing a blanket and wrapping it protectively around himself.
“Wow … I forced you?!” Taehyung repeated, tone dripping with sarcasm. “What did I do, push you onto the edge of a cliff and make you choose between dating and death?”
“I only just dumped that asshole from the dating site,” Jimin mumbled, keeling over to lie against the cushions and burying his face from view. “I’m really not in the mood to meet any other assholes.”
“That happened because you met him on a dating site. They’re practically breeding grounds for fuck boys and idiots.”
“No! It’s because I attract the worst people and I lack too much to actually date someone decent, Tae!” Jimin snapped, sitting back up to glare at his friend. “So stop arranging dates and just let me be. If I decide to die single then that’s what I’ll do.”
“Go on then!” Taehyung shouted back.
He got to his feet, looking as though he were about to storm out of the room before he stopped, sighed and then sunk back down onto the sofa, turning to face Jimin.
“God, you’re such a dramatic bitch,” he hissed, rubbing his fingertips into his eye sockets. “You know what? I’ll tell you this: Jaebum broke up with his boyfriend last year and he got hurt, too. You’re not the only one who’s had shitty experiences. I thought that you’d be a good match for him because you’re a nice person and you don’t want to be screwed over either. But it looks like I was wrong. Now you’re the one who’s done the screwing.”
“Come on,” Jimin countered. “It was only one meeting. He probably met few other guys already.”
“Ugh.. He’s seen our photos from the party. He said you were his type and he was interested in meeting you. He already had his eye on you long before he came to me.”
Jimin gulped. He felt like an asshole.
“Then I won’t lead him on,” he mumbled shamefully, looking down at his hands. “I’m not ready for a relationship and I don’t want to confuse him. It’s not that I could ever have a big enough effect on somebody to actually hurt them.”
Taehyung kept staring at him, his gaze almost painfully piercing. His eyes were just so big and … judgy.
“What?” Jimin whined, feeling uncomfortable under such scrutiny.
Taehyung just shook his head, sighing in disbelief.
“Sometimes, I just … seriously want to punch you.”
Jungkook was sitting right in front of him with his back turned but he had definitely noticed Jimin, and when class came to an end and everybody was leaving, there was just no way they could avoid bumping into each other.
Jimin slowed down as soon as their eyes met and Jungkook seemed to recognise the want to initiate conversation as he stopped obediently at his side.
“Um … Hi.”
“Hi,” Jimin answered, nervously jostling his backpack.
“Is everything … okay?” Jungkook mumbled awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck and looking anywhere but at the person in front of him. “Whatever you do to do that evening …”
Why did he have to be so cutely shy? One look at that innocent expression of his and Jimin almost smiled.
“Oh! Y-yeah,” he stuttered, remembering his pathetic excuse for ditching Jungkook at the party. “Everything’s fine. Thanks for asking.”
He nodded and, after a longer silence between the two of them, Jimin finally turned to leave.
Jimin whipped around far too quickly for Jungkook to react and their bodies almost collided.
“Jungkook, I’m sorry that I left so fast that time. I hope you didn’t feel like I was ignoring you,” Jimin babbled, staring up at Jungkook’s wide chocolatey eyes.
He didn’t want to hurt him but he knew that he had to push him away somehow.
“Yeah …” Jungkook sighed, the ghost of a relieved smile flickering across his face. “No problem. I mean, that was actually what I wanted to talk to you about …”
“I know, right? It was kinda crazy. We were both really drunk,” Jimin interrupted anxiously, his breath catching in his throat as Jungkook stared at him for several moments and then winked.
“I wasn’t drunk.”
“I remember everything. That’s why I wanted to ask you …” He was moving closer. “If we could meet under different circumstances. Like … go for a coffee or something?”
Jimin really didn’t want to make that smile fade away but he had to nip this in the bud as soon as possible or it would just hurt Jungkook even more. He deserved someone better. Somebody without so many insecurities. Somebody who was good enough for him.
It was the first time Jimin had ever found himself trying to escape a potential relationship not because he didn’t think the guy was a jerk who would just rip him to shreds in the future. This time it was someone who was too good to be true and deserved somebody equally good to match them.
“Oh my God … I’m sorry, Jungkook,” Jimin mumbled. “It was … I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Jungkook frowned and those little sparks in his eyes vanished.
“You mean, you’re not into men?”
He didn’t want to lie.
“I just don’t … I don’t date,” Jimin admitted solemnly, knowing it was a shitty excuse but too panicked to come up with anything else. “I want to be focused on studying and my plans for the future. I’m really sorry.”
Shit. It was the worst excuse ever. He looked down at his shoes, feeling Jungkook’s gaze burning into the top of his head.
“I thought you were interested in me, too. I mean, that night, you seemed really …”
“I was drunk. Things like that happen at parties,” Jimin dismissed, unable to shake the feeling that he was just making everything worse. “I mean … It was nice. And you're a great person and.. I mean, I had a good time but … I’m sorry that I confused you.”
The disappointment in Jungkook’s face broke his heart and when he didn’t answer, Jimin retreated several steps and pointed towards the exit.
“I’ll go first,” he whispered shamefully.
The next time he saw Jungkook was the following morning, almost as soon as he walked into the university. Just like every other day, he found himself watching the dance class stretching out their muscles through the studio window.
“You know, hyung … It’s really pathetic that I keep coming here just to stare at them,” he told Namjoon. “I think I will try again next year.”
“Really?” Namjoon grinned, clapping Jimin on the back as he nodded. “I’m so glad. I’m sure that you’ll pass this time around.”
“Jimin! Hi!” came Hoseok’s voice from the end of the corridor. “Did you come to practise?”
“No,” Jimin laughed, ignoring the painful pang in his gut. “I was just stopping by.”
“Oh, Jungkookie is here,” Hoseok chirped, reaching behind him and tugging Jungkook into view.
“Hi?” Jungkook mumbled, but Namjoon was clearly the only one he was addressing.
“Hi,” Namjoon responded.
“Let’s go,” Jungkook chivvied, taking Hoseok’s wrist and pulling him towards the dance studio. “We’ll be late.”
As soon as they were out of sight, Jimin sensed Namjoon staring at him.
“I guess he didn’t like what he heard from you.”
“No.” Jimin whispered shortly and Namjoon gave a defeated sigh.
“Are you really sure you don’t want to give it a try?”
“Stop talking nonsense, Joonie.”
Jimin’s love for dancing was too strong to just stop and stare at all the performers from the department. Even if Jungkook happened to be one of them.
“Jimin, are you finally going to practise with us today?” Hoseok asked when he noticed the smaller boy standing at the door of the studio, watching the group warming up.
“With you and …?” Jimin stuttered, his sentence trailing off as he realised how suspicious he’d sound if he finished it.
“Jungkook,” Hoseok finished for him. “And some of the other guys.”
Of course. Of course, Jungkook would be there. What a silly question. But it had already been such an exhausting task avoiding Jungkook for so long. So long as he acted like nothing happened, maybe Jungkook would do the same.
“Jimin’s joining us today,” Hoseok announced to the room at large, sparking a few smiles in some of the dancers.
“I see,” one of them answered. “Let’s go then.”
“Come on, Jimin-ssi,” Hoseok encouraged, clapping him on the back.
The music started playing and the grin that curled Jimin’s lips upwards was nothing more than 100% natural.
“Good. Now like this,” Hoseok said, watching Jimin mimicking their dance moves.
Hoseok seemed to be the leader. He was good with explanations and motivated the rest of the dancers to keep going despite the fatigue that gradually grew within them. Jimin looked at his reflection in the mirror, marvelling at the way the rest of the group seemed to move in perfect unison like their nerves were connected through the music.
He practised a few spins, just to make sure he was steady on his feet, and then leapt into the routine to join them.
“This part is cool!” he giggled, unable to remember the last time he’d felt this happy.
When the song finally came to an end, Hoseok shuffled over to the speakers so he could restart it up again.
“How about you do this part alone?”
“Really?” Jimin choked, anxiousness suddenly exploding with him as all eyes in the room seemed to be boring into his back. “Okay …”
“You’re great,” Hoseok assured him as several of the others gave him supportive pats on the shoulders. “Really, you are.”
Jimin danced like he was told. Like he’d been born to and he felt like there was absolutely no room for nervousness when the sensation was so good. But then the chorus transitioned into the bridge and as the lyrics filtered through his mind, he felt his heart speeding up.
It was raining
It was snowing
But all unhappiness stopped
You brought heaven to me
He saw Jungkook mirroring him from behind, matching his every move.
Don’t speak so easily
Because without you, there’s no me
You’re the best of me
The best of me
Jimin grinned, seeing how their actions were synchronised to perfection. When Jungkook shifted to the left, Jimin did the same to the right, changing the dance’s dynamic into something far more interesting.
Without warning, Hoseok stopped the music and they both turned to him in surprise.
“Can you guys do that again? I think it would fit our choreography.”
“You do?” Jungkook panted, wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.
Jimin couldn’t help but think that he looked even hotter with his dark hair slicked back against his scalp, individual strands clinging to his skin. For a second, he lost himself in Jungkook’s eyes like an idiot.
He was just so tall and his legs were so incredibly long and his arms were so broad … he was so fit that, even under his clothing, Jimin could see every one of his perfectly-chiselled muscles.
“Shall we then?” Jimin heard, realising too late that the question had been directed at him and only just managing a nod as he awoke from his daydream.
He closed his eyes as the music resumed, listening carefully to the melody pounding in his bones. He moved to every beat and when Jungkook joined him, they completed each other.
“Cool!” Hoseok shouted, leading the rest of the dancers in a round of applause.
Jimin couldn’t stop a giddy grin from splitting his face in two and he clamped his hand over his mouth in an attempt to hide it. He met Jungkook’s eye and reached up to return the high five that was offered him.
“Where did you learn to dance so well?” some girl asked him as they all separated for a break.
“Um … I just like it.”
“Jimin-ssi’s really good, isn’t he?” Jungkook interjected as he joined them. “He should totally be in our department.”
“Totally. That was awesome,” the girl agreed, sending him the thumbs up.
“You should stay for longer so you and Jungkook can practise this part,” Hoseok suggested as he wandered over. “I think it could be the best part of our choreography.”
“I … I just came here to have some fun,” Jimin stuttered in disbelief. “And … I’ll only be here for an hour. I have classes afterwards.”
“Ah … Too bad,” Hoseok sighed as he took a swig of his energy drink.
Watching him seemed to wake Jimin’s body up to the realisation that he was desperately thirsty, too. Stepping out into the corridor, he headed straight for the vending machine but when he stooped down to retrieve his drink from the tray, he heard footsteps approaching from behind him.
“You seem really busy lately,” Jungkook observed casually as he slotted some coins into the machine for himself.
“Kind of. Yeah.”
Jungkook regarded him closely, leaning against the vending machine, “Do you really hate me that much?”
Jimin almost choked on his drink, “What?”
“You have to admit it was kind of a strange vibe between the two of us. You’re always distant and you’re definitely trying to avoid me.”
“No,” Jimin lied, gulping on his drink as his tongue dried out. “I’m not.”
“Really? So then you like me, Jimin-ssi?”
Jungkook’s eyes were burning with anticipation as he leant against the vending machine’s glass wall, impatiently awaiting an answer. Jimin’s heart felt like it had crawled up into his throat.
“I … What do you mean?”
“You really confuse me,” Jungkook muttered, straightening up and stepping closer. So close that Jimin could feel the heat from his body. “It was like you were keeping you distance but … I don’t know. Just the way you look at me and you smile … I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately.”
“Jungkook …” Jimin whispered, retreating a step or two to try and put some more distance between them.
But then he felt Jungkook’s hand clamping down on his own, his chocolatey gaze fixated on Jimin’s lips. He moved in until his prey was backed up against the wall, caging him in with his arms.
They were behind the vending machine. Nobody could see them.
“You may keep pushing me away but it won’t change the fact that I have feelings for you. I can’t forget that night …”
As soon as the words left Jungkook’s mouth, his lips were on Jimin’s.
The last time they’d kissed, he’d tasted like flavoured beer but now it was more like lemon water. Not to mention that his tongue rubbed up against Jimin’s, drawing from his throat a murmur of pleasure.
He didn’t know how he found the sanity to brace his hands against Jungkook’s chest and push him away.
“Please stop,” he gasped, clutching at the front of his shirt as he felt his chest tightening.
“Why?” Jungkook panted back, his eyes darkening ever so slightly at the rejection.
“Because I don’t want to date anyone and I won’t let you..” Jimin said weakly, wriggling free of Jungkook’s trap. “Let’s not complicate things. We’re friends so just … don’t. Okay?”
Jungkook remained silent, staring so intently that Jimin had to turn away. He would have marched off then and there if Jungkook hadn’t grabbed his wrist.
“I don’t want to be your friend,” he said, his voice husky and his eyes curiously dangerous.
Jimin felt his spine shivering with a sudden chill and, for a moment, he was afraid, but then Jungkook released him and stepped back. Without waiting for another opportunity to be stopped, Jimin turned on his heel and staggered back into the studio where he immediately began gathering his belongings.
“Jimin?” Hoseok asked, brow furrowed in surprise. “You’re leaving?”
“Yeah,” Jimin forced out, feigning a smile. “I don’t want to be late for class. Have a nice day, guys.”
,,But he hates me now.''
,,No. He's in love and his feelings were hurt so he's resentful.''
So here's the last chapter. I struggled how to finish this fic but I actually based it on my own hardships and hard work to be bolder. It was meant to be a romcom so here's happy ending.
Like always, thanks dor your help, Andie.
A week passed where Jimin saw nothing of Jungkook but, of course, the time would have to come when their paths crossed. Surprisingly, however, that time was not during university hours but instead in a crowded pub.
When Jimin appeared in the doorway with Namjoon and Taehyung at his side, his heart leapt into his throat as he spotted Jungkook sitting at a nearby table with some of his dancing pals.
Instinctively, he drew to a stop and turned to Namjoon, preparing to make some excuse that would get him out of this, but his friend’s hand found its way to his back first.
“We don’t have to join them if you feel uncomfortable.”
“No, it’s okay,” Jimin sighed, accepting that running away would be nothing more than childish. He’d promised himself that he would try his best to face difficult situations and this was definitely one of them. So he shook his head and shot his friends a smile, “I’m done being a fucking coward.”
Taehyung and Namjoon exchanged looks of surprise.
“Well, then …” was all Namjoon murmured as he followed Jimin to the group of dancers at the table.
Hoseok welcomed them with his usual cheerful smile, already seeming more than a little tipsy. But when Jungkook noted the new arrival, the tension that suddenly knotted his shoulders was clear even from across the table.
Jin was there, too, but Jimin was so nervous that he barely even noticed as his eyes connected with Jungkook’s.
“My folks!” Hoseok announced as soon as the three newcomers joined them. “I’m a bartender today!”
The waiter brought over their glasses and Hoseok clumsily sloshed a mixture of beer and Soju in front of each person. Jimin was sitting between Taehyung and Namjoon but Jungkook was directly opposite him, clearly trying to focus on something else.
“Why are you stealing my dumplings?!” Jin suddenly shouted as Jungkook snatched some food from his plate.
He seemed very proud of himself even as his cousin scolded him and Jimin couldn’t help the subtle smile that stretched over his face.
“Yah! Seriously, you keep stealing my food tonight! Didn’t I spend enough money on you when you were young?”
“I’m still young,” Jungkook mumbled through a mouthful of food, completely unbothered.
“But now you can earn money so go out and buy something for yourself!”
“Even if I had a job, I wouldn’t make enough. You’re old, you have more savings so it’s your job to take care of us younglings.”
“Have you heard this kid, guys?” Jin asked incredulously, prompting a laugh from Taehyung as the eldest punched his cousin in the arm. “Don’t try to play smooth.”
Jungkook swatted him back and that’s when Jimin’s laugh burst free, at the sight of Jin’s comically horrified expression. Jungkook’s gaze flickered to him and he grinned, like he was enjoying the fact that he’d made Jimin laugh so heartily.
It only took Jimin one more drink before he was wondering what was stopping him from dating this boy in front of him. But he drove the thoughts away and decided that he’d just enjoy his night. And, with every glass he drained, the less he focused on Jungkook.
“I’m bored!” he declared unexpectedly, drawing everybody’s attention as he stood up from his seat, swaying slightly. “Are we really going to sit here all night?”
“Jimin-ssi’s right,” Taehyung interjected. “How about some karaoke?”
“Oh my God, no …” Namjoon whined, burying his face in his hands.
“Now you’re the buzzkill. Not me!” Jimin laughed as he grabbed his hyung’s hand and forced him to traipse across the bar to the karaoke with the rest of them.
Except Hoseok, who seemed like he could barely see straight. It was funny because it was like the energy he expelled every day was fading after each drink he swallowed when the exact opposite seemed to be happening to Jimin. Now he was the talkative and bubbly one.
It wasn’t even a few seconds after they all entered the karaoke room that Jimin started jumping up and down with the microphone clutched in his sweaty hand, laughing so hysterically at Jin’s ridiculously stupid dancing that he fell to the floor.
At some point, Taehyung must have texted Yoongi because he joined them somewhere around the fifth song.
“We like to partyyy! Heyyyyeyyyyeeeee!” he screamed into the microphone, Jungkook’s arm around his shoulders.
It seemed like Taehyung’s boyfriend enjoyed karaoke more than any of them, Jimin observed from the sofa as he watched. Hoseok had fallen asleep in the corner of the room and Taehyung was trying to entertain Namjoon with stories of crabs.
When Jungkook stepped up, a floaty-sounding ballad filtered through the speakers and, accompanied by the Jungkook's angelic vocals, it was one of the most gorgeous things Jimin had ever heard.
Taehyung broke into a round of appreciative applause and Yoongi gave up on his screeching in favour of listening to the youngest.
Don’t be sorry, that makes me more pitiful
With your pretty red lips, please hurry
Kill me and go, I’m all right
Something clenched in Jimin’s throat as he listened to the lyrics and he turned away at the realisation that this particular song was one of his favourites. And yet it felt so uneasy listening to it.
The only thing that kept Jimin from surreptitiously slipping out of the room was the fact that Jungkook was facing the screen and therefore couldn’t see him.
Your eyes, nose, lips, your touch that used to touch me
To the ends of your fingertips, I can still feel you
But like a burnt-out flame, it destroyed all our love
It hurts so much but now I’ll call you a memory
The song was only a few minutes long but the change it had on the atmosphere was colossal. At least, that’s what Jimin believed as he looked at Taehyung and Yoongi wrapped in each other’s arms, calmly and contentedly listening to the melody.
“Want to take a breath outside, hyung?” Jimin asked, nudging his elbow into Jin’s side.
But the eldest shook his head, stuffing his mouth with yet more food, so Jimin downed the rest of his beer and left by himself, slipping his arms into his jacket. The alcohol left a pleasant warmth in his stomach and it seemed to be spreading through his veins, loosening the tightness in his muscles.
When the cool air of the outside world assaulted his senses, he felt even more intoxicated and laughed to himself, leaning against the wall and sliding his hands into his pockets. A few seconds passed and then he laughed harder because, for some unknown reason, everything seemed funny.
“Jimin?” he heard from somewhere off to his left but it took him a moment before he glanced up and recognised the wide doe eyes blinking back at him.
“So it’s you!” he cried loudly, pointing straight at Jungkook and tripping over his own feet, prompting yet another giggle. “Aish … I’m so clumsy.”
He felt Jungkook’s hand close around his elbow, “Jimin-ssi, are you alright? Are you not feeling well?”
Their faces were very close.
“Do I not look well?” Jimin mumbled back and Jungkook smirked.
“You look drunk.”
Jimin grinned giddily, allowing his head to fall forwards so that it rested against Jungkook’s chest. He could feel the solid grip on his arms but he moved away, reaching up to grab the younger boy’s pinkish cheeks which had probably obtained such a colour from all the alcohol in his system.
“Damn it … Why are you so cute?”
“Huh?” Jungkook grunted, clearly confused, and Jimin grabbed the material of his shirt so he could pull him closer. “Me?”
“You make things difficult. I don’t like it.”
“I don’t understand.”
Jimin’s forehead somehow found its way to Jungkook’s arm and, even though they weren’t looking at each other, his heart was racing.
“Don’t make me like you. It felt really shit when I had to reject you,” he murmured, words muffled by Jungkook’s shirt.
He was certain that he wasn’t loud enough but, apparently, his state of mind left him unable to estimate how audible his speech was. He realised his mistake, however, when Jungkook took him at arms’ length and forced their gazes to meet.
“Then stop doing it,” he said slowly, eyes lingering on Jimin’s lips a little too long.
“Please, Jungkook. Just …” Jimin almost whined, trailing off as he realised how close they’d gotten again. “I want things to stay like they are now.”
Jungkook moved forwards, pinning Jimin up against the wall and caging him in with his arms. Again. Like before. Damn it.
“Why? Why are you being like this, Jimin?” he asked with palpable frustration in his voice and, for a second, Jimin thought about grabbing his neck and kissing him.
It was like he suddenly sobered up and all of a sudden, he wanted to cry. He didn’t realise that he actually was until he felt the first tear dribbling from the corner of his eye. Embarrassed, he glanced down.
“I don’t want to be hurt again. I’m really s-struggling to push you away gently and not fuck up but … It’s better to be single … At least, for me …”
Jungkook cupped his chin, touch surprisingly delicate, and lifted his face.
“I won’t hurt you.”
And for a moment, Jimin believed it. He encased Jungkook in his arms and hugged him tighter than he’d ever hugged anyone.
“You will, because you’re the coolest guy I’ve ever met and you could break my heart so easily,” he admitted, closing his eyes and allowing his fingers to wander through Jungkook’s hair.
“I really like you. Fuck … really, really … but we can’t date. It won’t work out. I used to meet so many assholes but then … I realised it was hopeless because of my insecurities and the fact that I’m just a loser … I keep ruining good relationships because I get scared … I can’t handle all these feelings. I still don’t get why you like me.”
As he finished, he relinquished his hold and stepped back. It was like Jungkook had frozen.
“Jimin …” he whispered, carefully reaching out for the smaller boy’s hand.
“Let’s go,” Jimin dismissed, leading him silently back into the karaoke bar.
Taehyung pulled him aside, glancing between him and Jungkook with an apprehensively knowing expression on his face.
“I don’t know.”
Jimin woke up the following afternoon with a dry throat and a heavy sensation in the pit of his stomach. He’d never been so thankful for Saturday mornings and a distinct lack of classes he would need to attend.
After shuffling to the kitchen to down a glass of water, he returned straight to his bed and buried his face in a pillow so that no light would irritate his poor unfortunate eyes. But it didn’t take long before his slumber was interrupted by the vibrations of his phone against the bedside table.
He lifted his head with a groan of displeasure but the moment he registered the name plastered across the screen, his eyes were blown wide and his churning stomach did yet another somersault.
“Shit …” he cursed, his thumb hovering over the DECLINE button before he gave into the need to hear Jungkook’s voice.
And it would be immature to ignore the call after everything that’d been said the previous night. Despite how drunk he’d been, he remembered every little detail and silently kicked himself for his lack of intoxicated emotional control.
“Hi,” came Jungkook’s voice when Jimin finally pressed that damn green button.
“How are you feeling?”
Jimin smiled, sensing the care in Jungkook’s tone.
“Could be better,” he breathed out.
He felt like he’d run a thousand miles with the frequency of which his heart was thudding against the inside of his ribcage. There was a long silence from the other end of the line and his nerves only increased in intensity.
“Will I only ever be able to talk to you when you’re drunk?”
“I …” Jimin started, suddenly engulfed in a fresh wave of shame. “I don’t know what’s happening but I always seem to be doing things I shouldn’t because of you. That night at the party and now my drunken confessions … But I really meant what I said.”
“I see. I get it,” Jungkook answered slowly, as if he were analysing Jimin’s words in his head.
“You do?” He couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice.
“I understand it may be hard to open up to someone after a bad experience.”
“Oh,” Jimin murmured flatly, a sensation similar to regret creeping out from the back of his mind.
“And I know how you love dance. You’re really talented, Jimin-ssi. You shouldn’t waste that so just feel free to come to our rehearsal room whenever you want. I won’t do anything that might make you uncomfortable. I hope we’re okay now.”
“I hope so, too, Jungkook,” Jimin responded, the heaviness to his words weighing him down.
“Okay then,” Jungkook chirped, a little too quickly to be natural. “Take care. Bye.”
The call ended before Jimin could even process what had just happened.
Jimin allowed his body to flow with the music, the darkness of the lyrics seeping into his mind like they’d been written just for him.
Caught in a lie, find me when I was pure
I can’t be free from this lie, give me back my smile
Caught in a lie, pull me from this hell
I can’t be free from this pain, save me, I’m being punished
There were a big group of dancers – probably also seniors – watching him during the rehearsals for the contest and he’d never felt more alive. He knew exactly which move he wanted to present on each beat even though he’d never sat down to actually choreograph anything.
When his feet planted themselves into the floor for the final time and his whole body twisted itself into the concluding pose on the last resounding note, the room erupted with applause.
“Wow, that was amazing, man,” Hoseok cried, rushing forwards to hug him. “It sucks that you’re not in our department. Then you’d definitely be joining us for the contest.”
“That’s fine. I just love that I can dance here and others enjoy it.”
“Great job,” another student pitched in, approaching the both of them. “I’ve seen you before during classes.”
“I’m Taemin, by the way.”
“I’d love to do a collaboration with you someday,” Taemin proposed.
“Really? I’d love that, too. I like your dance style, sunbae,” Jimin piped with wide eyes, sensing the attention he was getting from a set of big dark eyes on the other side of the room.
Jungkook was sitting on the floor with a cluster of his friends and Jimin waved to him, smiling, but the younger boy simply nodded, his expression enigmatic.
Jimin was just about to walk over to him when Taemin started talking about choreography, the rest of the dance group slowly filtering into their conversation as well.
“…and I really want to dance to this song,” some girl finished her sentence with a beaming smile.
Jimin was still a little distracted but he nodded and grinned at her when she turned to look at him.
“Guys, we should discuss this during lunch,” Taemin said.
“Sunbae, are you going to buy us meat?”
“Sure thing. You all worked hard.”
“Daebak … Everybody, Taemin-sunbaenim is buying meat for all of us!”
The surrounding dancers cheered in approval and Jimin excused himself to go to the bathroom so he could freshen up and change his sweaty clothes.
He expected to see Jungkook sitting on the bench right outside the studio door like the rest of the group but, as soon as he stepped out of the toilets, he found him slouched on the floor beside a metal locker in the changing room.
“What are you doing here? We’re all going for lunch.” Jimin questioned him, sweeping his still moist hair back from his forehead and still buzzing from the endorphins that dancing granted him.
“Is that so?” Jungkook replied in a monotone, completely devoid of enthusiasm.
Jimin grabbed both his hands and pulled him from his seat, giggling, “Come on, Jungkook-ssi. We need to treat ourselves to a good meal.”
At first, he thought that maybe Jungkook was just tired, but there was something lacking in his eyes. That sparkle was gone, replaced by something worryingly similar to sadness and maybe even a little anger.
“You guys can go. I have something to do,” he dismissed, pulling his hands from Jimin’s grip and turning to unpack his sports bag.
It was a clear indication that he didn’t want their conversation to continue any further and Jimin took the hint.
“Oh … Okay …” he muttered under his breath, retreating to the corridor, joining the group of other students.
It was almost an hour before he was back in the university building, begrudgingly preparing to resume the rest of his daily classes but, when he passed by the dancing room, that tall boy in black was just sitting on the floor as he sipped absently from a water bottle.
“Hey,” Jimin greeted shyly as he stepped inside, a little surprised to see him still there.
“Hey,” Jungkook replied, still staring at the ground.
,,You practised again? But you're doing great already, Jungkookie."
,,I'm just trying to get rid of negative energy."
Jimin advanced a little closer, wracking his brain for something appropriately compassionate to say.
“Is everything okay? You seem kind of down today. You actually …”
But his words were cut short when Jungkook suddenly leapt to his feet, facial features dripping with anger.
“Jungkookie …” Jimin mumbled pathetically as he watched the taller boy marching towards the door. “Jungkook, wait!”
He stumbled out of the practise room but found himself skidding to a very abrupt halt at the sight of Jungkook turning to face him on the stone steps outside the building.
“Sorry. I’m not in the mood for talking.”
It took a while before Jungkook sighed heavily and looked at Jimin to answer.
“You really want to know? Everything!” It was the first time he’d ever heard Jungkook yell. “I mean.. Why the hell are you following me?”
“What? I …”
Jimin didn’t know what to say. He just kept staring at the frustration in Jungkook’s eyes.
“You said you wanted everything between us to be fine,” he tried again.
“No. It actually can’t be. I realised it today. I tried my best to keep it cool but I'm pissed when I see other guys around you.."
,,What other guys?"
Jimin was authentically surprised.
,,I mean sunbae." Jungkook fumed.
,,There's nothing.. It was just a group lunch ."
“You must be really blind or you’re just heartless.'' Jungkook fumed, biting down on his lip and shaking his head with a bitter smirk as he stepped closer. ,,You keep saying all these sweet things to me like it’s nothing … And I really want to believe that you’re just oblivious and you can’t see that I’m in love with you so that, at some point, you’ll finally open your eyes … But now that I’m seeing you so often, I wonder what I was thinking. Fuck … I’m so done, Jimin! I can’t act like everything is fine because it’s not! I’m so sorry but I can't act that everything is fine after what you said to me last night and I definitely don’t want to see you outside of dance.”
His words were echoing in Jimin’s mind as Jungkook turned on his heel and, this time, he left without being pursued.
Stunned. There was no other word for it. Jungkook’s speech had hit him so hard that he couldn’t feel his body but what was worse was the realisation that he’d hurt someone. Jungkook. He’d hurt Jungkook.
He’d been struggling so badly because of the feelings he was harbouring. And Jimin had never imagined that he could have such power over somebody, especially somebody he was certain could never – ever – consider him as a potential love interest.
… And I really want to believe that you’re just oblivious and you can’t see that I’m in love with you …
Fuck. Fuck. He’d really said that. And Jimin couldn’t even deny that, behind all the fear and guilt, there was still space for joy because Jungkook was in love with him.
He watched that broad back retreating and the words that slipped into his mind came completely naturally, without his control.
I’m in love with you, too.
“It’s worse than I expected it to be. Ugh … Everything’s a mess,” Jimin finished, slumping over the table as Namjoon and Taehyung silently observed his meltdown.
“Isn’t that what you wanted?” Taehyung eventually offered up, ignoring the way Namjoon rolled his eyes in disapproval.
“I’m sorry, but someone needs to kick Jiminie’s ass so he can finally wake up.”
“Yeah, I’m a fucking jerk. Punch me,” Jimin hissed, glaring down at the tabletop and frantically trying to blink back the tears that were so desperate to fall.
At the first trace of moisture on his face, he reached up and swatted at his cheeks, ashamed and upset and dejected.
“I thought I wanted to punch you but now I just want to hug you,” Taehyung sighed, begrudgingly reaching out to gently rub his hand up and down his friend’s back. “Ugh … Jimin-ah, you really like him, don’t you?”
Jimin didn’t have to answer verbally. He knew his expression was explanation enough.
“Stop torturing yourself,” Namjoon interjected calmly. “Tell him how you feel about him.”
“But I did.”
“No, I mean when you’re sober. And a sincere confession, no excuses because of all these fears and insecurities.”
“But he hates me now.”
“No. He’s in love and his feelings were hurt so he’s feeling resentful,” Namjoon contradicted, smart and predictable as ever.
Jimin took a shuddering breath, mind already rifling through ways he could initiate the next phase of this conversation. He felt like now was as good a moment as any to admit to them what he’d been keeping secret for so long.
“I’ve never told you this, guys, but I think I’m okay with it now,” he began slowly, still avoiding eye contact at all costs. “Remember when I told you that I fell from my bike and cut my lower lip?”
“Yeah,” Taehyung answered.
“But that was back in high school,” Namjoon declared, clearly confused. “Why are you suddenly bringing it back up?”
“That’s because I didn’t actually fall from my bike. There were bruises on my back and stomach that I never showed you.”
Taehyung shifted in his seat, his voice dropping to a horrified whisper, “What? Oh my God, Jimin … Did somebody hurt you?”
Jimin nodded slowly.
“I said I had math with my tutor and I cancelled that cinema trip with you because I was at the doctor’s. I thought I’d broken my ribs with all those kicks they gave me.”
“Christ … Which fucker was it?” Namjoon interrupted, the true extent of his rarely-displayed aggression beginning to bubble over.
“He … That senior. He knew I liked him. He probably told the other guys in his class,” Jimin whispered, closing his eyes as the memories of that night accosted him once more. “They cornered me in an alley and they kicked me like some fucking dog. They … Fuck, it took me a long time before I stopped feeling disgusted with myself for having a crush on any man. Because they made me think I was disgusting.”
Taehyung’s gaze was razor sharp as he ground out through gritted teeth, “Because they were trash.”
“I know that now … But I’m afraid that it might happen again. I’m afraid that somebody will mock me for my feelings. That somebody will beat me when they find out who I am.”
His breathing was starting to escalate and Namjoon pulled him closer with a hushed and emotional, “Come here.”
“You should have told me,” Taehyung murmured weakly as Jimin nuzzled his tear-soaked face further into Namjoon’s chest and shook his head.
“That would’ve just provoked them even more.”
“No,” Namjoon disagreed, giving Jimin a strong squeeze. “They would’ve been dead meat because we would’ve killed them.”
It had been an exhausting day and all Jimin wanted to do was collapse into his bed so he could finally get some sleep but his phone decided otherwise as it burst into a rhythmic ringing while he was walking home from the university.
“Hey, Jimin,” he heard Hoseok’s voice filtering through from the other end of the line. “By any chance, are you with Jungkook?”
Jimin stopped walking, brows arching in surprise, “No. Why?”
“He was going to practise at the studio and then he said he’d bring us noodle soup for dinner, but he’s not answering his phone.”
“Oh. Where’s this studio?” He wasn’t even bothering to hide the concern in his voice.
“You know the library near the university?”
“It’s on the opposite side of the street. The gym and the dance studio are on the second floor.”
“Ah, that one. I can check it out.”
“Yeah, I just finished classes,” Jimin said, deciding to only reveal half of the truth. His classes had, indeed, come to an end for the day but he was already almost at the bus stop and nowhere near the university.
“Thanks,” Hoseok sighed, the gratitude in his tone bleeding through.
But it wasn’t like Jimin was doing him a favour. He was genuinely worried and probably would have melted into a full blown panic if he didn’t at least check why Jungkook was out of reach.
He sprinted over the pedestrian crossing just as the green flashing light was about to turn to red. The promenade seemed to stretch on forever and Jimin wished he had enough money to catch a cab but life wasn’t that kind.
So as not to waste anymore time, he dialled Jungkook’s number but received no reply.
“Come on, Kook,” he muttered under his breath.
The university came up on his right and he crossed the street with the phone still stapled to his ear, and felt his heart stop. There was an ambulance parked in front of the building complex.
“Ahjussi!” Jimin gasped, staggering towards the closest person in the crowd that had gathered. “What happened here?”
“I’m not sure. Somebody collapsed,” the older man explained absently. “Some young man. The paramedics already …”
But before the man could finish his sentence, Jimin was running to the ambulance. He tried to get a look at the patient on the gurney but the medics were obstructing his view so he leapt onto the first of the metal steps leading into the back of the vehicle.
The first paramedic turned to him with an expression of disbelief.
“Sir, you can’t come in here,” he scolded, but Jimin ignored him, dodging to the side so he could identify the unfortunate young man. The unfortunate young man who wasn’t Jungkook.
“I’m.. I’m sorry,” Jimin murmured as he stumbled out of the ambulance.
Assured but not completely so, he rushed to the huge glass entrance doors and made a beeline for the elevator in the hallway of the gym. There was a receptionist conversing with a customer but he paid them no attention and instead followed the sound of music coming from one of the rooms to his left.
His feet stopped of their own accord the moment he recognised the shape of the silhouette in black as Jungkook danced in front of the mirror.
“Jungkook!” he cried, bursting in with his shoulders heaving in exertion.
Jungkook froze even as the music kept playing and turned around to look to the unexpected arrival.
“What are you doing here?” he snapped, his tone laced with ice, but Jimin was too overwhelmed to hear the resentment.
“Why weren’t you answering Hoseok’s calls?”
“I turned my phone off so I could practise. The studio in the university’s already closed.”
“I … I thought it was you in ambulance,” Jimin exhaled, realising he hadn’t stopped running since he’d seen the phosphorescent vehicle parked outside.
He rested his hands on Jungkook’s arms, unaware of when they had gotten so close but too relieved to even notice when the taller boy’s muscles tensed. He pressed his forehead into Jungkook’s chest and finally allowed himself to breathe.
“Ambulance?” Jungkook mumbled, expression still unreadable.
“Yeah. It was in front of the building and you weren’t answering your phone and …” Jimin stopped as his words caught in his throat. He gulped and suddenly Jungkook’s face was blurry as tears started rolling down his cheeks.
“Jimin …” Jungkook muttered, apparently taken aback since his tone was a lot softer, and he pulled him closer so the older boy could stroke his hair.
“You scared me, Jungkook.”
“I’m fine. Really,” Jungkook soothed him, the look on his face a concoction of concern and fondness.
Jimin smiled through the tears and nodded, relishing in the feeling of Jungkook’s fingers caressing his shoulder. He glanced down and swatted the moisture from his face before he found himself staring at Jungkook’s lips for a little too long.
“Why were you practising for so long?” Jimin diverted as his heart started to speed up.
“The contest is coming up soon. I need to be good.”
“You are,” Jimin told him sincerely. “You’re a great dancer.”
“Nah. I can still be better.”
“You’re just like me. Trying to make everything as perfect as possible,” Jimin said with a smirk, leaning backwards against the mirror.
Jungkook’s gaze was back on him and there was a strange sense of tension in the air as their eyes met and the music filtered through the speakers in the background.
“Show me the moves. Which part are you practising?” Jimin changed the subject again, approaching Jungkook and turning him so that they were both facing the mirror.
He watched carefully as the boy outlined each of the dance’s steps at a slower pace.
“See? This part is lacking something.”
“Let’s see,” Jimin muttered, stepping up beside him. “Try to do it faster. Maybe with a turnover?”
Jungkook copied his demonstration and then they performed it in synchrony, grinning at each other when they were done and staring for probably too long a stretch of time.
“Yeah. That’s it,” Jungkook breathed out.
“It’s better now?” Jimin laughed.
“Yes. Thanks,” Jungkook responded, holding out his hand so Jimin could high five him.
After that, the two of them seemed to feel just as awkward as each other because the smiles disappeared almost immediately and Jungkook retracted his hand rather slowly, as though unsure what to do with it.
“Jungkookie, are you still angry at me?” Jimin finally broke the silence.
The boy shrugged, avoiding all eye contact, and then folded his legs beneath him so he could sit on the floor. Jimin joined him, watching carefully for any sign of a reaction.
“I’m not sure. Right now.. I don’t know.. but I just feel joy.”
Jungkook smirked, too cutely for Jimin to hide his excitement over it.
“You were worried about me,” he said, his eyes mellowing out like they used to.
“Yeah …” Jimin said slowly. “I think I need to explain something to you.”
“Explain? What is it?”
Jimin moved closer so that they were only a few inches apart.
“Why I was like this. Why I was keeping my distance. I want you to understand me.”
“Okay,” Jungkook nodded slowly, resting a hand against Jimin’s arm in a gesture of comfort. “You’re alright?”
“Yeah. Give me a moment,” Jimin sighed, licking his lips as though preparing himself.
“You know, when I was at grammar school, I was really cheerful and I had all these friends. Maybe it’s hard to believe but I was quite social and I laughed a lot. Then high school happened … I tried to date girls but I just kept messing it up. You know, I didn’t look like I do today. I had chubby cheeks and I wore glasses … I went on a diet and I lost all this weight and … I fainted at school. My parents were worried because I had anaemia and they thought I was seriously ill. They sent me to a doctor and he diagnosed me with an eating disorder. Not to mention that this was about the time I realised I was gay. And these kids at school were bullying me after this guy found out I had a crush on him. They beat me a lot …”
He glanced up at Jungkook who was still listening, waiting for him to continue.
“There was a stage of my life when I tried to convince myself and everybody around me that I was still confused or bisexual … I kept going on these really tiring dates. Taehyung tried to help me but every arranged date was just failure after failure. Sometimes people were mean but it wasn’t that long ago that I realised my attitude was pretty negative, too. I gave up. I lost faith in ever meeting the right person and damn … Then I met you. But I didn’t believe that you could like me and then … I got so fucking scared. I’m not good at handling my feelings but I guess I care about people too much and … That’s it.”
Once he’d finished, he realised for the first time that his heart was beating like crazy, hammering against the inside of his ribcage.
“Jimin-ah … I’m sorry. I’m glad that you’re telling me this,” Jungkook murmured after a long stretch of silence, reaching over to take his hand. For a few moments, he just played with his fingers and then brought it up to his mouth to brush his lips against the soft skin. “Do you want to take a walk?”
Jimin nodded eagerly.
He waited outside in the corridor for Jungkook to change out of his sweaty clothes and then they escaped onto the streets, talking about the stupidest things and laughing like idiots.
They even stopped at some of the stalls to buy some street food, and once they’d finished eating, they headed towards the coast.
Jimin could have kept walking like this the entire night. It was just so comfortable with Jungkook by his side and it was only then that he realised that was how being with the right person was supposed to feel like.
They drew to a stop at the edge of the dock and Jimin averted his gaze from the gently lapping waves to focus solely on the boy by his side. Jungkook’s eyes were sparkling vividly in the dark as he watched the flowing water and counted the speckled lights of buildings from afar.
“Jungkook-ssi, there’s also something else I want to say to you,” Jimin started, and when he saw the seriousness on Jungkook’s expression, he tried to smile as reassuringly as he could. “I’m really sorry that I hurt you. The truth is that I already had a crush on you after the first week of college.”
“What?” Jungkook almost shouted, a grin of joyful disbelief creeping onto his face. “Really?”
“Of course. You’re so charming,” Jimin whispered, moving closer. “The truth is.. I like you so much. I’ve confessed it before in.. not so good state but this time it's different.”
Jimin felt like his heart might explode right out of his chest as he nodded.
“Yeah, because right now, in this moment I think I just want to take a risk. I’m still scared but I want to be with you. It was hard at first, acting like everything was fine when it wasn’t, but now I realise it’s just stupid to try denying my feelings. I’m so comfortable with you. You made me believe in myself.”
He finished with a nervous laugh at the sight of Jungkook’s dreamy expression.
“How can you be so handsome and kind? I couldn’t believe that someone like you could like someone like me. I kept searching for your flaws.”
Jungkook arched his eyebrow playfully, leaning forwards a little.
“Did you find one?”
“W-hat?” Jimin stuttered, his own mouth breaking into a wide smile. “Yeah. You have this awful habit of stuffing yourself full of food.”
Jungkook laughed as he glanced down at his shoes, clearly trying to focus on something else in order to hide his embarrassment, and Jimin couldn’t help himself from giggling as well.
“Seriously. You really …”
There was just something so adorable in Jungkook’s smile and in his eyes, almost like he was glowing with happiness, and Jimin was struck with a sudden irresistible urge to close the gap between them and kiss his lips.
They were so soft.
Jungkook seemed to freeze, staring at Jimin in pure undiluted shock as they drew apart.
“Oh my God.. I’m sorry. I didn’t even ask,” Jimin gabbled, shaking his head at his own stupidity and retreating several steps. “You might still be angry and.. I can’t be sure you wanted to do that. I’m sorry..”
Jungkook’s strong arms encompassed his waist, reeling him in so their chests were connected, hearts beating side by side as their lips met and Jimin gave in instantly, reaching up to wrap his arms around Jungkook’s neck.
The kiss was sweet but strong. The chill of the wind whipped at their skin but at the same time their lips were burning with growing desire. Jimin’s hands slid down to Jungkook’s chest as the taller boy’s fingers carded cornrows into his hair.
The way Jungkook grabbed the back of his neck to deepen the kiss pulled a moan from Jimin’s throat. Even when they disconnected, their foreheads remained touching and their eyes remained closed before Jimin raised himself up onto his tiptoes to peck Jungkook’s lips.
He moved back, cracking his eyes open, and the first thing he saw was the smile.
“So now do you get it was stupid?” Jungkook murmured.
“Yeah. I never should have tried to fight my feelings,” Jimin conceded, kissing him yet again. “I want to be your boyfriend.”
His teeth clamped down on his bottom lip at the realisation of what his impulses had made him say but Jungkook’s hand leapt to his chest, eyes widening.
“Wow. You just made my heart flutter so much.”
“Geez! You’re so cheesy!” Jimin shouted, swatting at his chest.
Jungkook pulled him closer, wrapping him up in those thick muscular arms, “But I’m serious.”
“So … Do you still want to go out with me?”
“Who knows …” Jungkook’s expression was serious, but his eyes were still soft.
“Yah!” Jimin laughed, reaching up to squeeze the younger boy’s cheek because it just felt like the natural thing to do. “Is that a yes?”
Jungkook grinned, burying his face in Jimin’s neck.
“Yes. Of course, Jimin-ah.”
They held hands all the way to the bus stop, completely free of potentially judging eyes by the lack of people walking the streets at this hour. Jimin allowed his eyes to rove up and down his new boyfriend’s handsome figure before settling on his face.
Jungkook caught his gaze and sniggered, reaching out to pinch his chin playfully. The action seemed not to have satisfied him, however, because he threw an arm around Jimin’s shoulders and hauled him into his side.
“Why are you so cute?”
The bus halted and Jungkook stole a quick kiss before grabbing Jimin’s hand, leading him through the open door. And Jimin knew that, if this was how their relationship was going to be, he already loved it.
He laughed, sitting beside Jungkook at the very back of the bus and squeezing his thigh, knowing that no intrusive gazes could interfere.
“I found some therapist online,” he started, glancing up at Jungkook nervously but continuing when he realised he had his boyfriend’s full attention. “I want to work on many things. Do something about my issues. Will you be okay if we take things slowly?”
“Hm …” Jungkook murmured, cocking his head to the side as though deep in thought. “But not too slow.”
He brushed two feather-light kisses on Jimin’s face, the first on his cheek and the second on his lips.
“Yeah, that may be hard. I like these kisses too much already,” Jimin sighed, leaning over to rest his hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. “Will you wait for me?”
1 year later
It was like a year had passed in the blink of an eye but, at the same time, so many things had changed. If Jimin looked back at how he was before and then at how he was now, his attitude would be unrecognisable.
But nothing would have been any different if not for Jungkook’s help or just his existence in general.
Jimin had successfully passed the next year’s round of auditions and was enrolled as a student of the dance department, allowing him to spend even more time with his boyfriend. His social life had been resurrected and he was nowhere near as scared of being judged or hurt.
Now he could go with the flow and life was better that way. But there was one thing he was terrified of and he knew that, someday, he would eventually have to face it.
His dance troop were running through the final rehearsal on the contest stage when Jimin’s eyes suddenly connected with somebody else’s. And, for a moment, it felt like he couldn’t breathe.
He had no idea why they would be here. Him and three of his companions. It was an open event and every Busan citizen had the ability to just walk through the door but Jimin was certain he had the worst luck in the world.
It had only been five minutes since they’d spotted each other and already he felt like he was back in his old body with his old mind and his old fears.
“Jimin, you mistook the directions,” one of the dancers called out to him.
And that’s when he knew he couldn’t take it any longer.
“I’m sorry. I just need a drink of water. Do you want one?”
“No, thanks. But hurry up.”
Jimin nodded, turning his back and praying to God that the group of young men at the side of the stage hadn’t recognised him.
He stumbled to one of the dressing tables and stared at his reflection in the mirror, trying to regulate his breathing. It was like all the sounds and sensations from the past were coming back to haunt him. All those shouts and curses that were thrown his way. How he tried to run to the other side of the street but they blocked his way and pushed him into the wall. How his cheek slammed against the rough brickwork.
At first, it hurt a lot but when a pair of studded-toed boots planted themselves in his ribs, he could do nothing more than curl into a ball and wait for it to end.
It felt like forever but at long last, they stopped. Maybe because they’d heard an approaching car or somebody had passed by. All Jimin could remember was some elderly lady watching with concern as he staggered to his feet.
He didn’t even remember her face, too ashamed to look anyone in the eye while he was in such a state. She asked if he was alright but the only thing he could manage was a wordless nod.
He vaguely heard her telling him that he should go to a hospital before his muscles finally lurched back to life and he fled the scene as quickly as his beaten body could manage.
Footsteps were approaching and then Jungkook was in front of him, forehead creased with worry.
“Hey,” Jimin mumbled back, brushing his fingers over his chin to convince himself that the bruises he felt on his skin were nothing more than residual memories.
He sensed Jungkook’s frown as the taller boy stepped closer, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, don’t worry, hun..” Jimin tried to say, standing up from his chair and resting a reassuring hand on Jungkook’s shoulder only for his boyfriend to wrap his arms around his waist.
“Jimin-ah, I can’t help you if you won’t tell me what’s wrong.”
“I’m just nervous for the show,” Jimin lied, feeling a little more in control of his own emotions now that he had Jungkook so close.
Just to prove to himself that the boy in front of him really was in front of him, he reached up and brushed his fingers through the blackened hair.
“I can see. You’re shaking and I’d say you look terrified.”
Jimin gulped and looked down, noticing that, indeed, his hands were quivering like flimsy autumn leaves in the wind.
“Jungkook … I can’t do this …”
“Shh … I’m here,” Jungkook whispered, carefully wrapping him in his arms.
Jimin allowed himself to breathe in the smell of his shirt and closed his eyes, fisting his fingers in the material stretched over Jungkook’s back.
“They’re all here.. Those guys who used to.. I hate seeing the people who used to make me feel so small.”
“Jimin, listen to me. It’s all in the past. You’re going to do great,” Jungkook told him, seizing Jimin’s arms and bending his knees so that he could look right into his eyes. “I still haven’t answered your question but I think this is the right moment.”
“I didn’t ask a …”
“That night in the karaoke club when you were drunk and you asked me why I liked you. Remember?” Jungkook asked, his eyes sparkling slightly when Jimin nodded. “You’re not like these assholes. You’re kind, you care about other people’s feelings. You’re a little weird sometimes but it’s so damn cute. And.. you’ve got talent. You look so cool when you dance.”
And he kept talking, giggling a little in between words when a small smile started to dawn on Jimin’s flushed face.
“You’re so pretty, Jimin-ssi. And you’re the prettiest when you dance with a smile. If I can see that then the audience will see it, too.”
Jimin kissed him.
“They’re not Jeon Jungkook.”
“So you admit it?” Jungkook smirked.
“That I’m someone special?”
“Yeah. Yes. You are,” Jimin admitted without hesitation, squirming uncomfortably when Jungkook continued to gaze at him with half-lidded, glossy eyes. “Stop staring!”
“Jimin-ah, are you blushing?”
“Stop!” Jimin chuckled, grabbing both of his boyfriend’s hands and giving him a playful shove.
Jungkook was by his side during the remainder of their rehearsal slot and it must have been intentional because as soon as the music stopped playing for the final time, he hugged Jimin from behind and peppered his neck with feather kisses.
“That jerk will never know how cool the guy he could have dated was,” he said, shamelessly spinning Jimin around and locking their lips together. “Do you want me to beat the shit out of them?”
“Kook …” Jimin only mumbled, his disbelief growing as nobody from dancers around them seemed to have a problem with two guys kissing. “No. Just be close.”
After the last sound check, Jimin returned to the dressing room with his troop to change his clothes and do his makeup. He presumed it was a good thing that their group dance was first so he could grow in confidence before his solo.
And when he heard the music and he focused on it.. No, when he actually felt the music flowing through his bloodstream, he forgot about the rest of the world. The only things that existed were him and Jungkook and the energy they shared when they stood beside each other.
Jimin had to try hard not to smile, schooling his facial expression into one of seriousness when the two of them started their duet segment. Finally and officially, they could show the choreography they’d practised for months to the world.
Jimin was a dancing major and he could shine.
Because without you, there’s no me
You’re the best of me, the best of me
When the music filtered out one final resounding note, the audience kept clapping until they were off the stage. And then it was time for Hoseok’s solo and Jimin gathered under the stage with the rest of the group to watch.
Jungkook gave him the thumbs up as they crouched there, waiting for their hyung’s performance.
“I showed those fuckers, right?” Jimin whispered, a kind of boldness in his tone that he’d never heard before.
“And now I would like to introduce my great friend, Park Jimin,” he heard from above the stage, his head snapping up to see Hoseok clutching a microphone in one hand and wiping the sweat out of his eyes with the other. “I feel honoured that he decided to change his field of study after watching our group dancing during class. Because Park Jimin is really something else. I can stand here and tell you that he was meant to dance but you should probably see for yourselves.”
“Your turn, baby,” Jungkook encouraged, squeezing the back of Jimin’s neck before gently pushing him out onto the stage.
He smiled to the audience and then began his dance.
None of this is a coincidence
I’m just going with the flow
The world is different from yesterday
Just with your joy