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chapter one: spring-summer 2011

 

i want to tell you this story without having to confess anything

richard siken, 'the torn-up road'

 

 

As far as Seokjin was concerned, there was nothing worse than crying in public. On the floor. The linoleum floor of his high school, to be specific. He’d been hoping that no one would come down this hall, but now there was a hand extended in front of him, holding a bag of his favorite sour gummy worms. 

He wiped his eyes quickly, sniffling once before looking up. When he did, he saw that the hand belonged to an unfamiliar boy with pale and skinny legs, scraped knees, and a kind of unfortunate haircut. He was crouched in front of Seokjin on the dusty tiles, but he didn’t seem to be bothered.

“What are these for?” Seokjin asked, wincing at his weak sounding voice. 

“They’re for you,” said the boy. “I think you should have them.”

“Oh,” Seokjin said, sniffling once more. “That’s really nice of you.” For some reason, saying this made more tears well in his eyes, and he glanced away. He could feel his ears turning red - this was fucking undignifying, was what it was.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” said Mystery Boy. “This is a tough day for most people.”

Seokjin nodded reluctantly. That was true enough. 

 

See, today was the day students heard back from SKY universities. A day that was designed to cause the maximum amount of emotional distress in South Korea’s teenage population. 

But Seokjin wasn’t one of those teens whose dreams had been crushed. Whose life would be put off another year as they spent countless hours in hagwon, studying to retake the CSAT so that Seoul National University would accept them. Because what else mattered, right?

In a hallway filled with a hundred other tense, distraught, elated, or else indifferent students, Seokjin had opened his letter to discover that he’d done it. He’d made it, and SNU had accepted him.

And now, inexplicably, he was crying on the ground, being offered gummy worms by a stranger. 

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” the stranger asked.

Seokjin hesitated, ready to say no. He didn’t even know this boy. But then, he thought, that’s exactly the person he should talk to. Someone he’d never see again. 

“You’ll think I’m ridiculous.”

“I highly doubt it.” He moved, coming to sit next to Seokjin against the lockers. Seokjin looked over at his scuffed red and black Air Jordans. 

“Well. I got in to SNU.”

The boy raised a brow, but he didn’t scoff. “What’s upset you, then?”

“I’m upset - I don’t know, because this letter is all I have to show for the last three years of my life?”

“And?”

“And I feel nothing,” he whispered. “No happiness. Relief that it’s all over, I guess. But then I think - is it really over?”

The boy hummed, considering. “We have to believe that. I think it will get better from here on out. College is different.”

“Maybe,” Seokjin conceded. He was a skeptic, but it helped. It helped to hear someone say that life wouldn’t always be so joyless. “And you?” he asked. “Any good news?”

The boy nodded, and a grin bloomed on his face, revealing small, white teeth. It was charming, and Seokjin wanted to ask his name.

“I got into SNU, too,” he said. “Through Susi though.” 

“Oh.” Seokjin realised how he sounded, his surprise coming through too clearly. “I mean - congratulations.”

“Thanks.” He nodded at the bag of worms clutched in Seokjin’s hand. “You should eat those. And don’t despair, Seokjin-ssi.”  He stood quickly, sending one last reassuring smile before heading down the hall. 

“Thank you,” Seokjin called after him. He opened the bag, took out a pink and blue worm. And then he realized - the boy knew his name. 

Seokjin frowned, confused, certain he hadn't seen the guy anywhere around before. He didn’t even look like the typical student at Yongsan. Too unruly. Something in his eyes, too, was more alight. A mystery boy, indeed. Seokjin would ask around. 

 

He sighed, moving to stand up. There was a heaviness in his bones left over from the sudden onset of sobs. And he knew his eyes had to be red, as well. 

When he got home, he would be accosted by his parents - his phone was already buzzing non stop in his pocket. But he didn’t want to go back just yet and have to see their joy. See how their expectations for him had now been raised even higher. They wouldn’t understand why he could barely muster a smile.

There was a park across the street from the school, and though the March wind still had a bite to it, he began to walk. He walked for probably a half hour, until he had to think about where the nearest bus stop was. The sun was almost gone now, leaving pink in its wake. Sunsets in winter were underrated, in Seokjin’s opinion. But he understood why no one was outside to watch them. Only nineteen year olds who were already worn too thin to care about the cold. When he got on the bus, his hands were numb, the skin of his knuckles protesting its treatment by beginning to crack. 

It was a thirty five minute ride to his neighborhood, and it gave him plenty of time to think. 

Relief. That was the feeling he had to grasp onto. He never had to set foot in cram school again. He was done with practice tests and memorizing endless formulas and English vocab words. And he knew he’d be in a far worse state if he’d actually failed. That eased the tightness in his chest and was close enough to joy that he could pretend. 

His hands were in his pockets, and he could feel the bag of worms still in there. He took one out, biting it in half along the line that divided the colors. That boy had been a good distraction. He was too nice, really. There were enough pitiful souls in that school that Seokjin was a drop in the ocean. But someone had cared. 

Had he met gummy worm boy before and just forgotten?

The bus rumbled underneath him as he closed his eyes, pictured a face hovering in front of him, its expression casual but eyes comforting. 



Soon enough he was stepping into his apartment, crouching down to pet Jjangu as he scampered over and smelling kimchi jjigae simmering on the kitchen stove. At the sound of the door closing, both his parents turned around from their seats on the couch and looked at him with scarily blank faces. They were waiting.

He cleared his throat. “SNU accepted me,” he said, standing still as his mother leapt up and came over to envelop him in a hug. 

They were beaming, or in his dad’s case smiling modestly, and just as he expected it was only making the knots in his stomach worse. 

“Our Seokjin-ah,” his mom said, her eyes watery. “We couldn’t be prouder. I’ve made you jjigae, come and eat as much as you like. I always knew you’d get in.”

As if failure was an option, he thought. He managed a smile for her as she handed him a large portion. She’d never looked so gleeful while scooping stew as she did now. 

“You know what we have to do, Seokjin-ah? We have to go over to campus and go for a walk around. See all the buildings. Oh, it’s so exciting.”

“Great men have gone to Seoul National University,” his father added. “You could start whatever business you liked, with a degree from there.”

Seokjin put a chunk of rice in his mouth, nodding in agreement. Had his father ever once noticed him, his actual interests? He guessed not. 

 

After dinner, his mom presented him a bag of gummy worms. “I got these for you. Whatever the results were, I knew you’d enjoy them.”

Seokjin wanted to laugh. 

“Thanks, mom. Hey, I’m gonna go over to Namjoon’s for a bit, if that’s alright?”

“Of course. Just don’t stay out too late.”



Seokjin loved Namjoon’s bed for a few reasons. To begin with, it was easier to be in someone else’s house than his own; Namjoon’s parents were notoriously chill. And they left him to his own devices in his room. They respected his privacy.

Namjoon’s bed was also just really soft and big. The two of them were sprawled across it now.

“Are we gonna be roommates?” Namjoon asked, propping himself up on an elbow next to Seokjin. Seokjin was holding one of many Ryan plushies against his chest, staring at the ceiling.

“Do you plan to stop snoring in the next six months?”

“Hey! That’s mean.”

Seokjin glanced up at him, smiling. “I’m not trying to be mean, Namjoon-ah. How about room neighbors?”

“Okay. But when your roommate ends up being an alien or something, don’t come crying to me.”

“Are you kidding me? If my roommate were an alien, that would be amazing.”

“True enough. I’m excited. Aren’t you?”

“In some ways.” He sighed. “What do you think it will be like?”

“I don’t know… freeing, I guess? A lot of work, but still. You’ve seen college kids. They’re much cooler than us.”

“Yeah, true. And freedom does sound nice.”

“Mm. We just have to wait a few more months. We can do it.”

“What are we gonna do as college kids, do you think? I can't picture us being cool ever.”

“I don’t know. Go to parties? Discuss Foucault? You can star in a musical and become the campus crush.”

Seokjin scoffed. “Sure, sure.”

“Hey, speaking of which - White Day’s next week.”

“Oh. Huh, I completely forgot about that.”

“Well, you have no reason to remember. No girls to give gifts to at our school.” He said this with only a hint of wryness.

“Good, then. I can pretend love doesn’t exist.”

 

 

The next day, everyone at school was abuzz, talking about acceptances and waitlists and prospective majors. Some looked dead inside, others looked smug as all hell.

Seokjin didn’t even notice the way he was craning his neck, looking around the halls in search of a certain smile until one guy raised an eyebrow at him. 

He looked around his classes, too, just in case he’d missed the boy somehow. But he was nowhere to be found.

 

At lunch, Jeongguk stopped by to congratulate him and Namjoon, pulling them into a group hug. 

“I’m so proud. But now you’ve gone and made it so I can’t follow you two geniuses.”

“Don’t say it like that, Jeonggukie.” Seokjin frowned. “You’re a genius, too. You’re gonna do great things.”

“Ah, hyung, you’re too much.”

“He’s right,” said Namjoon. “And no matter where you end up, we’re all gonna see each other still. But for now you’re stuck here.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me.”

“We have the whole rest of the year and the summer together, though. We’ll make the best of it.” Seokjin was determined for that to be true. “Anything could happen between now and then.”

 

 

Six days later, he found himself with fourteen roses in hand. 

Some were left in his locker, others on his desk. One boy was even audacious enough to stick one in his backpack as he walked through the halls. 

Some had notes, gifts of chocolate. But wherever Seokjin went, there was a rose, and wherever he went, boys laughed and grinned and pointed at the burgeoning bouquet in his hands.

He wondered if it was all a joke. Or, maybe someone here actually liked him? His heart thundered in his chest for a moment before he forced himself to be rational. That was unlikely.

 

Still, he couldn’t help but look around at familiar faces and see them as possible rose givers. 

Kyungsoo wouldn’t stop glancing over at him during English. They’d talked a lot during the school’s production of Swing Kids. Maybe he was a suspect? 

And then there was his friend Jaehyun from student council who stopped him in the hall to chat and flung a friendly arm around his shoulders.

Seokjin was flustered.

But he was most surprised when he stopped by his locker and found a note taped to it alongside a paper sleeve containing a CD.

Dear Seokjin, the note read. I hope the world never gets its hands on you and your goodness - I admire the way you leave joy and smiles in the path of your radiance. 

Hopefully one day we can meet again.

-Gloss

He had to take a moment after reading that, to quell the surge of happiness that swelled in him. By the time he’d tamped it down, he had to run to Korean class.

 

There, he slid into his seat next to Namjoon with his eyes on the floor, too embarrassed by the long day of attention. When he looked up, Namjoon was grinning.

“Namjoon-ah,” he whined, “What ever happened to White Day not being a big deal?”

“I thought it wouldn’t be. But hey, I’m glad people are fighting back against the heteronormative idea of White Day only being only for boyfriends and girlfriends. And you compelled them to!”

Seokjn stared at him blankly. “You don’t think they’re just making fun of me? Or doing it out of boredom?”

“Huh? Why would they? People like you. And obviously, some people like you a lot .”

“Oh,” he managed. “But I got fourteen roses.”

Namjoon rolled his eyes. “God, I hate hot people.”

“Hey! You’re hot, too.”

“That’s not the point,” Namjoon protested, but he fought a pleased smile. “Jin, it’s our last leg of high school. People have decided to be brave, finally, and buy a rose for a man they think is sweet and beautiful. It’s that simple.”

Seokjin giggled. “Aw, Joonie. Thank you for the compliment.” 

He slipped a hand into his backpack pocket, touching the heartfelt note that he’d kept in there. He was about to show it to Namjoon when he changed his mind. Best to keep something special like that to himself, for now.

 

When he got home from school, he fled to his room before his mother could see him, dumping the roses on his bedspread. Then, he counted them again despite knowing how many there were.

If he were honest with himself, he would admit that his heart had been messing with him ever since Namjoon suggested people found him beautiful - boys at their school found him beautiful.

No big deal, he figured; who didn’t like a compliment, no matter who it came from.

He popped a chocolate into his mouth, smiling, and finally took the note out.

Whoever wrote it talked like they actually saw him, and that only made him all the more curious. 

From his backpack he took the CD out of its paper sleeve and read ‘in love alone’ written in the same messy scrawl. 

He had no idea what to expect from this.

When he put it into his CD player, a piano melody started, the chords dramatic and enrapturing. A person whispered: fall, fall, fall, scattering apart. He could hear the love and pain in it. But those were the only words in the song. By the time it was over, Seokjin was sitting in stunned silence. He waited for the next song to play, but nothing did. Just one song. It must mean a lot, then.

Carefully, he took the CD out and slipped it back in its case.

He pictured all the boys he knew who might do this sort of thing. Was this mixtape giver handsome? With a wide white smile, taller than Seokjin maybe? 

He was laying face down on the comforter, imagining Choi Minho from the soccer team sitting at a keyboard when there was a knock on his door.

“Dinner’s ready, Seokjin-ah.” 

His eyes flew open. “I’m coming,” he called, jumping up and hiding the roses in his dresser drawer. The note, he put under his pillow for safekeeping.

 

After a torturously long dinner during which his parents discussed real estate while he wished Seokjung were there as a buffer, he holed himself back in his room. There’d been something on his mind all day.

His fingers moved without his permission across his keyboard, and he found himself staring at a screen reading Kinsey Scale Test in an unassuming sans-serif font.

First it asked for his age and gender. Okay, he could do that. Then, it jumped to whether he’d ever felt sexual desire. Sure, yeah.

Next: I find the idea of having sex with another man repulsive. True  False 

He hesitated for a moment. He couldn’t say yes to that, really. Repulsive was strong language - when was this test even made? 

Scanning the rest of the questions, he thought they seemed stupid. 

One asked whether the gender composition of an orgy would affect his participation. Well, yes, he was one to consider the details of a goddamn orgy carefully, but what were they going to determine about him from that?

Another asked if he was sexually submissive. He frowned, closing the tab with a sigh. Useless.

Somewhere deep in his mind, there was a protest to see this through. But it was too quiet.

Defeated, he logged onto Maple Story and slipped into his preferred state of happy oblivion.

 

 

The last months of school after that flew by, with tests and college paperwork occupying most of his brainwaves until one day it was done for good.

Graduation was moved inside due to the rain, and the humidity in the air had quickly ruined Seokjin’s blow dried hair. He nudged Namjoon in the shoulder. “Namjoon-ah, what’re you doing tonight? Junmyeon invited me to his party, but I don’t know if I really want to go.” 

Namjoon made a face. “I don’t know about that. Can’t we just do what we always do?”

“True, true, I just felt like tonight was special.”

“I bet Jeongguk’s brother would get us some soju?”

“Hm, probably. I’ll text him now. So after dinner, I’ll meet you at yours?”

“Sounds good.”

Seokjin texted Jeongguk quickly, and just as he slipped his phone back into his pocket something caught his eye. His eyes narrowed as he followed a head through the crowd and out of the auditorium door. He hadn’t seen the face, but he could’ve sworn it was Mystery Boy. It had been a long time now, and Seokjin still hadn’t figured out his identity.

“Namjoon,” he said. “Do you know anyone who got into SNU via Susi ? Shorter, with a bad haircut and red and black Air Jordans?”

“Uhh, that’s a really interesting description there. But no, I hadn’t heard of anybody who got in that way. Why do you ask?”

He thought back to the soft tenor of the boy’s voice as he handed over the gummy worms. “No reason, there was just someone a while ago and I never got his name.”

 

After the ceremony was done, Seokjin’s parents took him out for dinner. Seokjung was there, too, having taken leave from the military for a few days.

They went for sashimi - Seokjin’s request - at an upscale restaurant of the type that always made his dad act more pompous than usual. “Seokjung, how’s your service going?” he asked. “Is Eunhee-ssi still content to wait for you?”

Seokjin watched his brother bring another piece of seaweed to his mouth and chew slowly before answering.

“It’s not bad, just going a little slowly.”

“Eunhee?”

“I don’t know, Dad,” Seokjung said, a little tightly. “I don’t know how she feels, we actually haven’t spoken in a while.”

“Hm.” He turned to Seokjin. “Seokjin, you’re almost a man, now. What do you think - after you graduate from SNU? Then you’ll go serve your country?”

Seokjin hunched his shoulders a bit. “I mean, I hadn’t rea-”

“Speak up, son. And sit up straight.”

His stomach fizzled with frustration. “I said, I hadn’t really thought about it yet.”

“I guess no one wants to answer my questions tonight, then. Christ, it’s like pulling teeth with you two.”

Seokjung was tense at Seokjin’s side, and their mother was quiet across from them. When the waitress came to drop their meals off, they all thanked her politely. His dad started talking about his business again, and they all continued the charade.

 

Seokjin was glad to escape after that, meeting Namjoon at his place so they could take the bus over to Jeongguk’s.

His brother, Junghyun, gave them a case of soju with a wink for Seokjin, and the three of them made their way to the rooftop terrace.

“Shouldn’t you be celebrating with someone who’s actually graduating?” Jeongguk asked, ripping open a bag of shrimp chips for them to share.

“I don’t have any other friends, I guess,” Seokjin said. He laughed as Jeongguk pushed him over on the blanket they’d spread out. “And, hey, consider this a last hurrah for you before you have to enter 24/7 study mode. Twenty-four hours a day, literally.”

“What’s that they say?” Namjoon added dryly. “Sleep more than five hours a night and good luck getting into college?”

“Fuck, why are you two scaring me like this? You should be encouraging me, otherwise I’m just gonna be living on your floors next year.”

Seokjin settled with an arm behind his head. “We believe in you, Jeonggukie. Couchsurfing won’t be your fate.” He sighed. “God, if I had to be at home another year I’d go insane.”

“What, your dad?” Jeongguk asked, laying down next to him.

“Mm. Same old, same old. You were right, Namjoonie, college must be better than all this.”

“Us living it up in Seoul. Just imagine it.”

“Maybe Seokjin-hyung can finally get a girlfriend,” Jeongguk said, giggling.

“Hey! Rude.”

“I’m just saying. That could happen.”

“I guess,” Seokjin mumbled. “I hadn’t really thought about dating.”

“That’s just not your priority. It’s all good.” Thank god for Namjoon and his reassuring self.

“What’s your goal, Namjoon-ah? We might as well make them now.”

He was silent for a moment, considering. “To speak myself.”

Jeongguk and Seokjin exchanged looks of fond exasperation. “Well, I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but it sounds nice.”

“It just means be honest, be fearless, don’t let anyone make you feel lesser. Say your name.” He stood up and walked to the edge of the roof, clambering up onto the edge. Seokjin gasped, standing up to come pull him back. 

“Namjoon, what are you doing? You’re going to fall and die and then we’ll have to scrape you off Ggukie’s sidewalk.”

Namjoon looked back at him and smiled. “Watch.” Then, he turned his face up to the sky and shouted. “Kim Namjoon!” 

Behind them, Jeongguk writhed in laughter on the blanket before getting up and leaping onto the ledge. “Jeon Jeongguk!” he shouted with arms spread wide. “Come on hyung, get up here. Speak yourself.”

Seokjin’s ears were red of secondhand embarrassment despite the fact that no one was around. Maybe Namjoon was right, and he needed to stop letting people make him feel small. He took a deep breath before climbing up next to them. “Kim Seokjin,” he said, once. Too quiet. 

Jeongguk and Namjoon each took his hands and he tried again. “Kim Seokjin!” His voice echoed out over the suburbs of Seoul. 

Only a few more months. And then - freedom. Just like this.

 

 

Summer was strange. Time went by like molasses at some points, and yet it also flew - this was the paradox that existed when a person did nothing day in and day out.

On July 2nd, Seokjin woke up at noon for the eighth day in a row and stumbled into the kitchen. His mother looked up at him from the kitchen table. Things were normal today, peaceful. His father was away on a business trip.

“Oh, perfect, you’re just in time to join me for lunch.”

He shook his head. “You won’t shame me, mother. I’m just a bear who’s gone into hibernation after too many long, long years of hardship.”

“You’re right, you do deserve a break after all that. Here, sit down, I’ll put together some breakfast for you.”

Seokjin ate with her before showering and throwing on another pair of sweatpants to go over to Namjoon’s. 

 

Namjoon let him in, and without even thinking Seokjin followed the path to his room and flopped down on the bed. When he opened his eyes, Namjoon was still standing, hovering in the way he did when he was overthinking something.

“What are you doing? Get down here.”

Namjoon crawled on, arranging himself so he was sitting cross-legged. Seokjin figured there was no point pushing Namjoon into speaking; he was always honest about his thoughts in the end. Instead he just grabbed his laptop and pulled up the episode of One Piece they were on. Namjoon didn’t like these shows as much, but he was good company anyways.

Halfway through, he cleared his throat. “Seokjin.”

“Yes, Namjoon-ah?”

“There’s something I wanted to tell you. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, for a while, and finally I came to a conclusion, but yeah.”

Seokjin blinked up at him. “What is it?”

“Um. So I’m bi, I think.”

It was like someone hit pause in Seokjin’s mind for a split second before hitting play once more. A small shift in his conciousness, not enough to register. “Bisexual?”

“No, bicycle. What else?”

Namjoon rarely resorted to sarcasm in that way, and Seokjin realized at once that Namjoon might be really worried about telling him this. He put a hand on Namjoon’s knee. “Oh, Joonie. That’s great.”

“Is it?”

“Well you’ve come to terms with something about yourself. I consider that great.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re right. I have been ruminating over it for too long.”

“Ah. How long?”

“Uh. Well, I don’t know exactly. Sophomore year I first started thinking about it. And I overcompensated by being gross about girls all the time.” 

“I remember,” said Seokjin, and Namjoon’s grimace shifted into a playful glare.

“I always knew that was a front to some extent. But the beginning of this school year, something happened, and I was forced to be honest with myself.”

“What was it?” 

“Nothing big at all.” Namjoon flushed and picked at a hole in his jeans.

“Oh.” Seokjin said. For a moment, it was quiet as they both retreated into their thoughts. Something was on the tip of Seokjin’s tongue, though, and it wanted to get out. “Joon,” he said slowly. “Have you ever kissed a boy?”

“Kissed?” Namjoon’s eyebrows disappeared under his bangs for a second, before his eyes scanned Seokjin’s face. “No. But I don’t need to have to know that I’m bi.”

“That’s not why I was asking,” Seokjin muttered. “I know that. All you need is to want it.” He was speaking more to himself at that point, eyes trained on the ceiling above. When he looked back at Namjoon, he was regarding Seokjin like he knew something.

“You’re right,” he said. “Actually, there was this guy - and he just touched me casually, but I was in a weird mood that day, and all of a sudden I couldn’t stop imagining what it would be like to kiss him.”

“Oh,” Seokjin said again. His heart was in his throat, and though they continued watching the show soon after that, it didn’t leave that spot for a while.

Chapter Text

chapter two: fall 2011

 

there is something in your throat that wants to get out and you won't let it.


margaret atwood, from power politics

 

As soon as Seokjin saw his roommate’s face, he realized that he may have made a mistake. 

He and Namjoon had arrived on campus early, unpacked, and said goodbye to their parents, all by 3 pm. Now they were sitting on Seokjin’s bed, Namjoon’s eyes drifting shut while Seokjin played MapleStory. 

And that was when the miraculously preserved Cro Magnon specimen walked into the room. His roommate, Jongho.

“Hey,” Seokjin volunteered. “Welcome! Do you need any help with your boxes?”

Cro Magnon/Jongho just barely glanced at him, the muscles in his all-too-large neck shifting. “Nah.”

“Oh, alright. Just let me know.” He met Namjoon’s now open eyes and communicated his telepathic message of ‘ wow’.

Now, Seokjin wasn’t the type to make assumptions about a person just by the way they looked. But sometimes he got vibes, and they were rarely wrong. After ten minutes of unbearable silence, he pulled Namjoon off the bed. 

“We’re going to the Student Union for, uh, juice. See ya!”

There was no response, obviously, but Seokjin couldn’t help but be polite. Always trying to ignore tension, that was a perk of growing up in his household.

 

In reality, they went next door to Namjoon’s room.

“Fuck, I left my laptop in there.”

“Do you really need to be playing MapleStory right now?”

Seokjin glared at him. “I was about to beat the level. But whatever.” He climbed up onto the vaulted bed, which had a bureau underneath. “Christ, this is dangerous, Joonie. Good luck hooking up with anyone on here, they might fall to their death.”

“How vigorous of sex do you think I’ll be having?”

“Uh, I don’t know. That’s not something I find myself thinking about, in general.”

Namjoon laughed. “Fuck off.” Then he was leaping from the overturned laundry basket that currently acted as a stepping stool onto the bed, crushing Seokjin’s leg in the process.

“Ow, shit, watch where your limbs are going there, noodle boy.”

“You’re so mean today,” said Namjoon, snuggling up to him.

“Ah, no. You’re my noodle boy.”

 

After a while, Seokjin’s stomach grumbled. “Maybe we actually should go to the Student Union,” he suggested. 

“Yeah, I’d be down. Do you want to bring a pizza back here, actually? My roommate messaged me saying he’d be here in a half hour.”

Seokjin grimaced. He knew that he should try and meet new people. But he was down for the count already with a roommate who either had no brain cells or just hated him.

“Don’t worry, Hoseok’s nice,” Namjoon assured him. “We’ve been messaging for a few weeks now.”

“So your roommate can actually talk, eh? Well alright, I’ll give him a chance.”

“Good Jin. I’ll spring for extra toppings.”

“And a sweet potato mousse crust?” Seokjin made his eyes big and pleading.

“Alright, alright. Anything you want.”

 

The campus had come alive since that morning, and as they walked across the green to the Union, Seokjin couldn’t help but look around at all the friends reuniting, the upperclassmen that walked around confidently, seeming so natural and at home. 

He wanted that to be him, one day. 

 

At the food court, Namjoon ordered them a large pizza with sweet potato crust, seafood, kimchi, and bulgogi that made their mouths water. They power walked back to the dorm, eager to eat.

At the door to Namjoon’s room, though, they could hear the loud voice of someone within, who seemed to be on the phone. The two exchanged a look of trepidation before stepping inside.

A boy turned around, and oh - he had bright red hair and a wide, heart-shaped smile. “Namjoon,” he cried. Then, “Alright, mom, I’ll talk to you later. Love you, bye.”

“Hello,” said Namjoon, mouth falling open as Hoseok strode over and embraced him tightly. 

Seokjin was hovering awkwardly by the side, unsure of his place, when Hoseok moved and gave him a hug as well. “Oh, hi there.”

“You’re Seokjin, right? Namjoon told me about you. And I may have stalked you on Facebook, so that’s kind of a rhetorical question.”

Seokjin laughed at the unflinching honesty. Already, Hoseok was infinitely better than his own roommate. “Yeah, that’s me. It’s nice to meet you.”

“You, too. Namjoon also mentioned that you’d probably be around a lot. I think we’ll all make a good team. Oh! Speaking of which.” He ran over to his suitcase, then, and pulled out an old-fashioned looking bottle of makgeolli. “I stole this from my grandma’s house for our first night at college. Feel free to invite your roommate over, too.” 

“Ah, nice. And, uh, I’m not sure he’d be too receptive to the idea.”

Namjoon put the pizza box down on the desk, taking out a slice to eat over his hand. “His roommate is lowkey a troglodyte.”

Seokjin gasped. “Hey, I was calling him Cro-Magnon in my head. Telepathy goals.” 

“Yikes,” said Hoseok. “Hopefully he’s the type who’s out all the time partying.”

“That would be preferable.” 

Hoseok cracked open the bottle of makgeolli. “Uh, sorry, I didn’t bring any cups or bowls.”

Namjoon put his hands up. “Don’t look at me, I certainly don’t own any dishware. It’s fine, though, none of us has meningitis, probably.”

“Why would you bring up meningitis, you know it scares me.” Seokjin pouted, eyeing the bottle in Hoseok’s hand.

“You’re scared of it?” Hoseok giggled.

“Hey, the commercials make a big deal of how quickly you can die. I like being alive.”

“Fair enough,” he agreed. “Oh, wait. I have cups for mouth rinsing, we can use those!”

Namjoon shrugged. “Works for me.”

It was like this that they ended up getting tipsy drinking rice wine from Dixie cups, laid out on the plush carpet Hoseok had brought along.

 

They had orientation meetings bright and early the next morning, but when Seokjin tiptoed back into his room at 1 am, Jongho was gone. Seokjin breathed a sigh of relief, settling into bed ready to face a day of icebreakers and awkwardness.

 

 

After the first two weeks of classes, Seokjin figured he had the hang of it, overall. 

He was majoring in computer science to placate his parents, and those classes were hard. But he expected that. His only hope was that if all else failed maybe he could design video games. He was also enrolled in a theater class, though, and that was where his heart was.

 

On the Friday before everyone went home for Chuseok dinner, he made his way over to the Performing Arts building to audition for the musical. This year, the drama club was putting on Les Misérables , and he was eyeing the role of Marius. When Jongho was gone, he had practiced, singing the parts with gusto inside their box-sized room.

Now, he pushed open the doors to the auditorium.

I don’t know how I could have let him go! ”, came a booming voice from on top of the stage. “ I am ordered to arrest him, but he has done so many things to me, kind things, and yet I have treated him like the dirty criminal I thought he was.

Seokjin’s mouth fell open as he sidled closer and watched the boy deliver his line, decked out in a bicorn hat and cape. Was he supposed to have brought a costume? Shit. He could feel himself sweating.

The boy leapt down from the stage once he’d finished his monologue, and the three people in front clapped politely. He came up in front of Seokjin, who couldn’t help but take a tiny step back.

“Hello.” He grinned. “Who are you?”

“Kim Seokjin. I’m here to audition.” He really should have brought a costume, damn it.

“Kim Taehyung, sophomore,” said the boy. “Let me guess.” He leaned back on his heels and studied Seokjin with a hand on his chin. “Marius Pontmercy?” Seokjin nodded. “I knew it! Well, here’s hoping we can burn down this stage.” He winked, and Seokjin’s stomach swooped with an unidentifiable feeling. 

After a few more people went, most auditioning for Jean Valjean or Javert, it was his turn. He took a deep breath. Steady , he thought. Shyness isn’t an asset.  

 

That night, he headed back to his dorm feeling accomplished. Whether he got the role he wanted or not, he’d put himself out there.

When he got to his door, he could hear voices inside. A lot of voices. He pushed it open, slowly, and felt someone’s back make itself known.

“Oops.” The loud voice of a drunk guy, and then there was movement. Seokjin stepped in, reluctant, to see Jongho holding court, laughing loudly. There was a girl on his lap. People were sitting on Seokjin’s bed, too. He wasn’t a fan of that; his skin prickled with annoyance.

Jongho didn’t acknowledge him, so he just grabbed a textbook from his desk and quickly evacuated.

He knocked on Namjoon’s door, and Hoseok opened it after a second. He had a swiffer in hand, and Kendrick Lamar was blasting in the background. “Hey,” Seokjin said. “My roommate’s having a party, do you mind if I chill here for a bit?”

“No of course, come in. I’m just having my weekly clean and unwind session.”

“Oh, sounds...fun?”

“Only for me,” Hoseok laughed.

Seokjin sat down tentatively at Namjoon’s desk chair. He’d talked to Hoseok a fair amount by now, but not one on one that he could recall. 

“Is Joon-ah out tonight?”

“He just ran to the convenience store for some study snacks. Personally, I don’t believe in studying on Fridays.”

“I wish. Hey, wasn’t your dance team tryout today?”

“Yeah, it was.” He stopped his swiffering now to sit at his own desk. “It went really well - the captain basically told me they wanted me, but I’ll hear officially next week.”

“Congratulations, that’s awesome,” Seokjin offered. “I’m just glad there’s no dancing in Les Misérables.”

“But a lot of singing.” To his credit, he only grimaced slightly. “I remember my dad took me to see it a while ago. I think you’d be perfect for Marius.”

Seokjin flushed, pleased. “Thanks.”

Namjoon burst in, then, arms laden with yellow smiley face plastic bags. “I brought the goods,” he announced. “Oh, hey Jinnie. What’s up?”

“Jongho’s having a party.” He rolled his eyes. “So I guess it’s just me who he dislikes. Plus, there was a girl on his lap. I’ve decided he’s the most grossly heterosexual person I know.”

Namjoon just laughed; he was more used to Seokjin’s sense of humor. 

“Wait, aren’t you straight, too?” Hoseok asked.

“Yeah,” Seokjin agreed meekly. “But I don’t like to think we have anything in common.” 

Hoseok grinned. “Fair enough.” 

 

 

On Thursday of the next week, Seokjin got an email from the Drama Club labelled ‘Roles’. He held his breath as he opened it and quickly scanned the list for his name.

Marius Pontmercy - Kim Seokjin. He exhaled, biting his lip as a smile escaped him. 

The email invited the main cast to a readthrough tomorrow night. He glanced over the names of the other cast members, but he only recognized the handsome and eccentric boy he’d met before - Taehyung. He’d gotten the role of Javert after all. Seokjin was looking forward to seeing him perform, he had to admit.

 

 

“Welcome! Welcome one, welcome all to our first Les Mis rehearsal. I’m Lee Jaehwan, Drama Club president. This is my second time directing.” Seokjin blinked up at the boy who was pacing the stage in front of the rest of the cast. He was wearing a cravat, and somehow that seemed fitting. “Why don’t we all introduce ourselves, hm? And do a fun fact about yourself.”

Fuck. Fun facts were the bane of Seokjin’s existence.

Taehyung was sitting to Seokjin’s right, and so he was the first to be subject to this brand of torture. 

“I’m Taehyung,” he began. “And I’m Javert, Do not forget me.” His baritone singing earned a few chuckles. “But for real, a fun fact about me is that I once met my doppelganger in a lucid dream, and I’m fairly certain he was evil.”

Seokjin was so caught up in staring at Taehyung that he didn’t realize it was his turn. He started when he saw everyone looking at him. “Oh, sorry. I’m Seokjin. And uhhh… I can walk in a backbend?”

“Show us,” Taehyung insisted. With flaming ears, Seokjin stood, bending backwards until his palms were on the stage, and walked around. There were a few shouts.

“Marius from the Exorcist,” Jaehwan commented. “Awesome.”

 

Soon after, they were all given a script to read through. For now, they weren’t singing, only focusing on understanding their characters and lines. But Jaehwan let them know that next time, Chanyeol, their pianist, would be there, just to help them through a rough version of the songs.

Seokjin didn’t know why he was so worried. He’d had to sing a bit at his audition. But then, this was a much bigger deal. He’d gotten the role in a college production with a bunch of experienced upperclassmen. Plus, he’d be singing the whole time. No breaks. 

You’ve got time to work on it , he reminded himself. 

 

And for the next two weeks, he sang himself hoarse. Jongho was at wrestling practice often enough that Seokjin could use the room. He balanced rehearsing with homework and studying and hanging out with the roommate duo he’d taken to calling Namseok. Taehyung also invited him out for bubble tea a few times. 

It was all going well. The rest of the cast were enthusiastic and nice people. A little loud, like any theatre enthusiasts, but hey.

 

One Saturday in the beginning of October, Seokjin found himself at Jaehwan’s apartment with a playlist that included both the Spring Awakening soundtrack and Shinee’s ‘Lucifer’ blasting in the background as people danced around. Solo cups littered the table. ‘Cast bonding’, Jaehwan had called it.

He was sitting on the couch alone while Jaehwan ran to the store for more alcohol and feeling increasingly awkward about it. So when the door opened and Taehyung walked in, he sat up straighter, ready to call out his name. Until a pink haired boy stepped in behind him, and Seokjin noticed that their hands were joined, and then they were against the wall and kissing and. Oh. He looked away quickly, his whole body heating up. Fuck, he berated himself immediately. What kind of reaction was that? He didn’t… it’s not like he cared . Just. He hadn’t ever seen that before, in real life. He swallowed over a dry throat and jolted when a body plopped down next to him, too lost in thought to see Taehyung approach.

“Seokjinnie,” he cooed. “Good to see you here.”

“Hey, Taehyung-hyung. How are you?” When he glanced up, he saw the other boy sitting thigh to thigh to Taehyung. They met eyes, and Seokjin’s widened a fraction.

“I’m great! Oh, yeah. This is my boyfriend, Jimin.”

“Hi,” Jimin waved, smiling, and Seokjin did the same. 

They were both so nice. He needed to be better. “Um, do you do theatre as well, Jimin-ssi?”

Jimin giggled, and it was pretty enough that Seokjin suddenly understood why Odysseus’s crew was so tempted by the sirens. “No, no. I do dance. But I’ve never danced in a musical before.”

“I can’t really picture that,” Taehyung added. “Park Jimin doing musical theatre. Hm. Anyways, Jin-ah, how’re the songs coming along for you?”

“Pretty good. I just wish rehearsals were more often. It feels so much better doing it with Chanyeol.”

Taehyung laughed, now. “That’s what he said.” 

“Um, what?”

“God, leave the poor boy alone. You’re so immature.” Jimin clucked his tongue, propping black Chelsea boots up on the coffee table in front of them. 

Just then, the front door burst open, and Jaehwan stalked in with two bags of alcohol in hand. “Crisis, everybody. Crisis, I say.” He set the bags down, and a sheepish looking Chanyeol followed behind.

“Speak of the devil,” Taehyung murmured. 

“Show them,” Jaehwan announced, flinging out a distressed hand. The man loved theatrics, unsurprisingly. 

Chanyeol’s eyes flicked up to the ceiling in exasperation as he lifted his right hand, which was weighed down by a bulky white cast. An audible gasp travelled around the room. 

Rumor had it Chanyeol’s hands were insured. But in the meantime, they were out one pianist. 

“Fuck,” said Seojoon, their Jean Valjean. “What are we gonna do?”

Chanyeol sat down heavily. “I’ll help you all find a replacement.”

“Well.” All eyes travelled towards Taehyung. “I have a friend in songwriting class. He’s really good. I could ask if he’s interested.”

“Sure,” said Jaehwan. “Ask as soon as you can, and let me know. Otherwise, I’ll post an announcement.”

 

 

Taehyung must have been successful, because when Seokjin showed up at rehearsal the next week, someone was sitting at the piano, their back to him.

He took a deep breath. Today he was performing ‘Empty Chairs’, and he’d been practicing the song so much that a swell of emotion threatened him even at the thought of singing it. 

As he walked down the aisle and climbed up on stage, he tried to get a look at the new pianist. He was turned around, though, getting caught up by Chanyeol, whose wild hand gestures were apparently uninhibited by the cast.

“Alright, everyone,” said Jaehwan once they’d all settled. “This is our new pianist, Min Yoongi. Please welcome him warmly.” Seokjin peeked around Taehyung’s shoulder to see, and his mouth fell open. He may have gasped audibly, because the boy’s eyes flickered over to his, an equally shocked expression appearing on his face. 

It was him. Gummy Worm Mystery Boy. His name was Min Yoongi. 

Seokjin hadn’t forgotten that day, but he had given up on ever finding his mysterious knight. 

“Hi,” said Yoongi, waving to the cast. “Uh, so today’s just gonna be a practice run for me, but I’m glad I’m getting to be part of this production.” He nodded curtly.

Shit, he seemed so cool. And his voice was just as Seokjin remembered. He was still staring when Yoongi glanced back his way. Seokjin quickly looked down at his feet, sucking in his bottom lip. He needed to take it down a notch. 

Soon after, they got started on rehearsing, beginning where they left off last time. Since Yoongi was only sight-reading, things were a little slower than usual, but it still sounded beautiful. 

When the melody for ‘Empty Chairs’ started, Seokjin imagined the orchestra that would join in later, closing his eyes where he sat center stage, alone.

“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on.” He felt tears prick his eyes and pain echo in his voice as he sang. The auditorium was utterly silent. “Empty chairs at empty tables, Now my friends are dead and gone.

He walked off after his scene, and Taehyung wrapped an arm around his waist. “Great work.” Seokjin smiled in response, plopping down on the bench. Now, he just watched and found his gaze drawn towards the piano. Yoongi’s eyes scanned the sheet music, sharp and dark.

The way his hands moved was mesmerizing. 

Rehearsal finally ended a while later with the finale, the reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing”, and a buzz of chatter filled the room - excitement that they’d finally gotten all the way through. 

Seokjin was grabbing his backpack from one of the seats when there was a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Yoongi in front of him.

“You!” he exclaimed, then flushed and brought a hand to his mouth. 

A small smile played on Yoongi’s lips. “Me.”

“Sorry, I was just surprised to see you. You’re him, right, you gave me the gummy worms on SKY decision day? You never introduced yourself, back then.”

“Yeah, uh, that was me. And I know.” He grimaced. “I’m Min Yoongi.” He put out his hand for Seokjin to shake. 

“Nice to meet you, officially,” said Seokjin.

“It is, isn’t it. Hey, you were really amazing up there. Not that I’m surprised, I saw you in a few plays in high school.”

“Oh, wow.” Seokjin didn’t want to imagine how red his ears were now. “Thanks, Yoongi-ssi. By the way, I never really got to say thank you sincerely. For talking to me that day. It made me feel a lot better.”

Yoongi glanced away, lips contorting into a pleased shape. “Don’t mention it. But I wondered, would you do me one favor? I wouldn’t ask normally, but when it comes to music I have no shame.”

“Of course I would, Yoongi-ssi. What is it?”

“When I heard you sing just now, I thought you would be perfect for this track I’m working on.”

Seokjin found himself surprised at this turn in the conversation. “You write songs, too?” Impressive, he thought. “I’d be glad, that sounds super fun, actually.”

“Okay, good. Um, I’ll text you my dorm number if you’re free tomorrow afternoon?”

“Yeah.” Seokjin nodded, handing over his phone and feeling excitement bubble up inside him.

 

When he knocked on Yoongi’s door the next day, he didn’t feel as awkward about it as he thought he would. Maybe it was because he’d known Yoongi so long, in his head at least.

Yoongi answered, black hair ruffled as if he’d been pulling at it in frustration. “Hey, Seokjin-ssi, welcome.” He showed Seokjin into a room that was almost as small as his, with a keyboard and other sound mixing equipment set up on the desk.

“Where’s your roommate?” Seokjin asked, looking at the somewhat desolate other side of the room. 

“Oh, he’s at home. He hasn’t officially changed his status to commuter yet, though, so I’m alone for now.”

“Lucky you.” 

“You don’t like yours?”

“Not exactly. I could’ve roomed with my best friend, too. Oh yeah, do you know him? Kim Namjoon?”

Yoongi’s eyes widened a fraction. “I do, yeah.”

“Huh. I find it strange we never met, then.”

“Strange.” There was something odd in his voice that Seokjin couldn’t place. Yoongi sat down at the desk, then, typing something into the computer. “Here, I’ll play you the demo of the song. I had to fill in for vocals, so please don’t laugh.”

Seokjin sat on the bed, suddenly conscious of every one of his limbs when Yoongi’s eyes flicked over to him. The song began with a muffled voice, a swelling melody. Then, a rap.

The lyrics were heavy. Seokjin’s stomach felt tight at the line ‘everything’s going to be alright if you go to university and do as we tell you’. When the chorus came, it was apparent Yoongi wasn’t a singer. His voice was rough, low. But it didn’t sound bad. So far away, if I had a dream - If only I had a flying dream.

He brought his socked feet up on the bed, resting his chin on his knees as he listened to the rest of the song. In the end, he felt a little misty.

“Wow, Yoongi-ssi, that was beautiful.”

“Really?”

“Mm. I don’t know how to feel, exactly. But I’m touched by it.”

“Good.” He cleared his throat, shuffling together some sheets of paper and handing them to Seokjin. “You can read music, right?” 

“Yeah.”

“So these are your parts. Um, we can give it a try now if you want?”

The music Yoongi had written was for a soprano and would sound very different from the way he’d sang it. Seokjin started to sing, tentative as he read the notes. He could feel Yoongi’s eyes boring into him.

Yoongi was smiling when he finished and put the sheet music down. “Perfect, just like I thought. Hey, this is probably gonna take a few sessions to get completely finished, so if there’s anything I can do in return, just ask.”

Seokjin was usually the type to say no when people offered him things, but this time - “Well, actually, there is something.”

“Oh?”

“It’s just - I’ve been kind of nervous about the musical. I’d wanted to practice more with Chanyeol instead of on my own, before. Maybe I’m neurotic, but I feel like there’s something to be said for practicing with the live music that’ll be there for the performance.”

“No, I get it. So - you want to have extra sessions with me then?”

“I would, if that’s not too much to ask? Just once a week, and we’ll only do songs where I have big parts.”

“It’s not too much at all. Um, how about Friday afternoons? I’m in the music building for class until 2, anyways.”

“Perfect.” Seokjin beamed at him. “You’re too nice, Min Yoongi-ssi.”

He smiled back, brushing too-long black bangs out of his eyes. They were better than his spiky hairdo from before, at least. “I’m not, really.” 

Yoongi recorded him going through the song one more time for demo purposes, and then closed down his laptop. “So. I’m kind of hungry, would you be down to try this fried chicken place nearby?”

“When it comes to fried chicken, you don’t even have to ask.”

 

They grabbed a corner booth in the moodily lit chicken restaurant, and Seokjin watched as Yoongi confidently ordered them the spiciest thing on the menu. When he noticed Seokjin reaching across for the bean sprouts a few times in a row, he pushed the dish closer to him. 

Yoongi seemed quiet and considerate, and while Seokjin didn’t know much about hip hop aside from what his brother had taught him, he liked hearing Yoongi talk about it anyways. And Yoongi seemed to know a lot about 90s rock as well, which was Seokjin’s favorite.

“But for real,” Yoongi said, pulling his jacket closer against the October breeze once they’d stepped outside. “Your voice is super unique. It catches attention.”

Seokjin flushed. “Like your rap. It was so real, Yoongi-ssi. I’m a little intimidated, to be honest.”

“Don’t be. I’m not as scary as I look.”

“Hm.” Seokjin look the chance to look Yoongi over. Maybe objectively Yoongi would seem tough to observers. The confident, laid-back look in his eyes. The black clothes. Ears decked out in spiky jewelry. But Seokjin just thought he looked cool. “I don’t see it. You’ve got a kind face.”

And when Yoongi chuckled just then, his shoulders shook a little bit. Nope, not scary at all.

 

The week after that, Seokjin headed towards the music department for his extra practice session. There was a baby grand in an empty classroom that Yoongi had laid claim to for the next hour. Seokjin stood by the blackboard, paced around and practiced his expressions and gestures while Yoongi played, steadfast.

By the end of it Seokjin felt, strangely, that they’d grown much closer. They went to the dining hall to eat dinner together afterwards, and Yoongi made him tea with honey in it for his voice. Small things like this, Seokjin noticed.

 

This became routine. On Fridays, they met for practice and recording. And on Sundays they arrived early at rehearsal and sat shoulder to shoulder on the piano bench until it started, talking about anything.

One Friday not too much later, Yoongi smiled at him as he walked into the practice room. 

“It’s done,” he said.

“Really?” Seokjin knew immediately that he was talking about ‘So Far Away’. He’d done his final recording a few days before, and it was only a matter of time.

“I stayed up all night doing the editing and stuff. But it’s ready.”

Seokjin came to sit down next to him at the desk. “Can I hear?”

“Yeah, of course. I hope you like it.”

When Yoongi hit play, the difference was audible. It had sounded good before, but like a rough draft. This was poetry. The music swelled perfectly, and honestly Seokjin hadn’t known his voice could sound so good.

“It’s beautiful.” He beamed at Yoongi. “Send me the file so I can listen to it every night before I go to sleep.”

“Sure thing.” Yoongi’s cheeks were rosy, scrunched up in a smile that almost seemed, dare he say it, bashful? Seokjin was enamored. 

“And let me know if you ever need me again.”

 

 

October slipped by. It was the night before Halloween when Seokjin heard something he wished he hadn’t. It’s usually only in movies, really, that you walk into a room right at the second you shouldn’t.

It went like this. Seokjin was exhausted from rehearsal and was only going to pop inside his room for a moment to get his costume. He was supposed to meet Hoseok and Namjoon at a theme party in some CS nerd’s apartment. 

Instead, he opened his door to a sentence that ended with “my pretty boy bitch of a roommate” coming from Jongho’s mouth. This might’ve been the first time in months that Jongho had made eye contact with him, and fuck.

Costume forgotten, he ran to the bathroom down the hall and sat heavily on the toilet. God, this was a new low. He shouldn’t care. After all, he knew Jongho wasn’t his biggest fan - Seokjin didn’t like him much either.

But it was one thing to know in general that someone doesn’t give a shit about you and another to hear directly from their mouth that they consider you a ‘pretty boy bitch’. 

He couldn’t even wrap his mind around that combination of words, it was so immature and nonsensical. He was surprised to feel his face screwing up with the premonition of tears - he didn’t want to cry about this. Everyone was insulted once or twice in their life. 

In an attempt to stop his breakdown, he pulled his phone from his pocket. His fingers hovered over his chat with Namjoon, but Seokjin knew he was already at the party, and he didn’t want to pull him away from that. The boy needed to let loose some time.

For a second, his lip wobbled as he thought his fate was to sit in this bathroom stall all night, but then his phone chimed with a message from Yoongi.

You left your gloves behind at rehearsal, it said. I brought them back with me.

Seokjin exhaled. Typed in - Are you going to a party tonight?

It took Yoongi two minutes to respond, during which someone came in to the bathroom, peed, and left Seokjin with his feet pulled up on the toilet seat.

Jury’s still out on that 

Why do u ask?

Could I come pick up the gloves now, then?  Seokjin asked.

Sure

Now Seokjin had a destination, he closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down. At least it was dark out, so nobody would be looking at him.

 

It was a five minute walk to Yoongi’s dorm, quicker when you had long legs and a mission. Yoongi opened the door with a neutral but knowing expression that only he could make.

“What’s up?” he asked, scanning Seokjin’s face quickly. “I know you didn’t just come for your gloves, is everything alright?”

Seokjin stepped inside, shedding his parka and backpack and sliding off his sneakers by the door. “Well. Not quite.”

“Do you wanna talk about it?” 

“Hm.” He flopped stomach first onto Yoongi’s bed - nothing made him feel better than a soft, warm bed. “I just overheard Jongho call me a ‘pretty boy bitch’. So. Yeah.” He heard Yoongi inhale sharply, then felt the bed dip and a gentle hand land on his back.

“Wow. That is… fuck him so much. Dickhead.”

Seokjin laughed a wet chuckle. Wait, fuck, was he seriously crying in front of Yoongi again? “I just feel so stupid about the whole thing. I knew he didn’t like me. But - I never did anything to him? Why am I a bitch?”

“You aren’t, Seokjin, not at all. He doesn’t know you.”

He turned his face on the pillow to look up at Yoongi, then, and noticed his artfully tousled hair and lined eyes. “You were going out,” he said. “I’m sorry. I just - didn’t know where to go.”

“I was thinking about it,” said Yoongi. “Kind of. But this matters more.”

“Thanks, Yoongi-yah. I don’t know how I’m gonna go back there.” He sighed deeply, the exhaustion of the past two months of hostile living catching up with him. “You can still go out, if you want. You look good, it shouldn’t go to waste. I hope those jeans don’t cut off your circulation, though.”

Yoongi flushed, or maybe not, then scoffed. “You sound like a geriatric, Seokjin-ah.”

Seokjin didn’t remember when they’d dropped honorifics with one another, but he knew he preferred it this way. “Just worried for your health.” He patted Yoongi’s thigh once, then squeezed. Yoongi slid off the bed hurriedly, and Seokjin blinked. Maybe he should hold back on the touching, then. 

“Oh, and I’m not going to leave you here. The whole plan was pointless, anyway.”

“What plan?”

“Uh. Just this plan Taehyung-hyung had to get me out there, or whatever.”

“Huh. Hyung does like to meddle from time to time.”

“True. So, you want to watch a movie to distract yourself?”

“Yes, please.”

Yoongi left for a minute to change into black shorts and a white t-shirt, but his eyes still looked sharp and expressive with the makeup. He climbed into bed next to Seokjin and propped his laptop between them.

“What’s your pick?”

“Hm. I’m kind of in a Spirited Away mood right now. I know you don’t like those sorts of movies as much, but I don’t think I can deal with Tazza right now.”

“It’s whatever you want. I’ll pull that up now.”

The film did lull Seokjin into a better mood. By the time they were halfway through, he’d settled against the pillows with his head resting against Yoongi’s upper arm. “Yoongi,” he whispered. 

Yoongi glanced down, pressing pause. “Yeah?”

“I’ve been thinking. I want to see if I can move rooms, will it be difficult?”

“That's a good idea, I’d hate for you to have to stay there. And I think it'll be fine.”

Seokjin nodded. “There’s one thing. How he called me pretty boy - the way he said it. I still feel really unsettled by it.” His eyes fluttered shut as Yoongi brought his hand around, thumb rubbing a circle over Seokjin’s shoulder.

“I don’t blame you. That’s - I don’t know that anyone who would use that as an insult could have good motives. There’s nothing wrong with being pretty.”

“I didn’t have a problem with being called pretty, before. I still don’t. He got under my skin, is all.”

“I’m glad you don’t. And I know, Jin. We’re gonna go to the housing office first thing tomorrow.”

Seokjin smiled up at him, now. “Thanks again, Yoongichi. You’re a good friend.”

 

At 1 am, Yoongi lent him pajamas and a toothbrush, plus blankets and a pillow to set up on the vacant bed. Seokjin was bone weary, and after a whispered goodnight to a Yoongi lit up by the blue light of a phone screen, he drifted off. 

 

Just as he’d promised, Yoongi went with Seokjin to the housing office, where Seokjin filled out the paperwork for a room transfer. 

“It will be a bit before we can move you to a new room,” said the receptionist. “We have to see who else has put in requests.”

Seokjn was frowning, wondering how long it would be and if whoever he ended up with would be any better when Yoongi spoke up.

“My roommate would have just sent in the commuter paperwork, but I’ve been living alone for weeks. I’m in the freshman dorms, would it be possible for Seokjin to request to become my roommate? If he wants.” He glanced over at Seokjin now, who was shocked by the gesture.

“If that’s possible, I would prefer that,” Seokjin said, relieved.



By the time they left, it was all sorted out. And Seokjin happened to know that Jongho had practice this time on Mondays, so he headed back to his dorm while Yoongi went to class. 

“Is it alright if I bring my stuff by later today?” he asked. “I still can’t believe you did that, you really saved me.”

“Really, Jin, why wouldn’t I? I like you better than some rando, so think of it as you doing me a favor.

“Okay.” Seokjin smiled. “See you at 4 then? And we can get dinner after.”

“Sure thing.”

 

Namjoon had class until one, but he was quick to knock at Seokjin’s door when he came back.

“I got your SOS text,” he said. “What’s up?”

“Some things went down last night. I ended up at Yoongi’s, like I texted you. But yeah, Jongho is actually the worst, and I’m moving rooms.”

Namjoon’s eyebrows shot up. “Seriously? What happened?”

“I’ll explain later. Would you mind helping me throw all my shit in this suitcase? I’m taking my worldly possessions over to Yoongi’s at four.”

“Yoongi’s?”

“Yeah, he doesn’t have a roommate at the moment, so. That’s me now.”

“Huh. You said that he said he knew me, but I swear I don’t remember that name.”

“Maybe you two can meet tonight, then? I swear I’ve been meaning to make it happen, but I’m a Sagittarius.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” 

“Nothing, probably. I just like saying that.” He smiled as Namjoon shook his head, trying to hide his grin.

“Alright, well. I’ll come with you to move in tonight, and I can finally meet your mysterious new friend.”

 

The first thing Namjoon said upon meeting Yoongi was “Oh.”

Seokjin glanced between Namjoon and a wide-eyed Yoongi. “Why ‘Oh’?”

“I do know him,” Namjoon said. “I just knew him by a different name.”

“What?” 

Now Yoongi was shaking his head minutely at Namjoon, and Namjoon just looked confused. 

“He’s a rapper. We met at underground events.”

“Ohh, yeah. Well this is shaping up to be a complex web. Wait, Yoongi, you knew Namjoon’s name when I asked before.”

“That’s ‘cause he told us all his real name. No offense, but. He’s kind of an open book.”

Namjoon just shrugged.

“But - one more thing,” said Seokjin. We all went to school together, and you two rapped together and yet never interacted outside of that? Namjoon, I even asked you about Yoongi once and you said you didn’t know-” Seokjin froze, suddenly regretting his big mouth as he watched Yoongi’s eyes flick over to him. 

“You asked about me?”

“Yeah.” Seokjin felt ears ears redden. “After that time in the hallway I wanted to at least know who you were. You know, now that we’re friends, I swear you were purposefully trying to be mysterious.”

Yoongi laughed. “Maybe a bit. Now, as fun as this discussion is, how about we bring your bags in?”

 

It took them an hour and a half to move Seokjin in, and by then they were all ravenous, ready to eat anything. The three of them headed to a nearby pojangmacha for tteokbokki and dakkochi and drinks - one of Seokjin’s favorite parts of going to school in Seoul was the endless food options within walking distance.

“Is it bad to be drinking on a Monday night?” Namjoon asked, later, cracking open his second bottle of soju.

Seokjin waved his hand. “Time is a construct. As long as you don’t get wasted and miss your morning lecture, then I approve.”

“You two are funny,” said Yoongi, taking a sip from his own bottle. Seokjin watched him. He wondered how even the way Yoongi held a bottle was cool.

“In what way?”

“You just have a good dynamic. It’s easy to tell you’ve known one another a long time.”

The way Yoongi said this was almost wistful, it seemed.

 

When Seokjin came back from paying their bill, Yoongi had his elbows on the table, saying something to Namjoon that looked serious. Namjoon nodded, though seemingly confused, and they both sat back when Seokjin approached.

“Ready to head back?” he asked. They stood, heading off into the chilly night together. Seokjin was happier than he’d been in a while.



It was a nice feeling, he decided, getting ready for bed without a yawning silence hanging over the room. He and Yoongi were quiet, sure. But all the tension had lifted from Seokjin’s back.

“Hey,” he said once he was under the covers. “Why didn’t you and Namjoon talk in school? No one ever said, and I can’t help thinking we could’ve met much sooner.”

Yoongi didn’t answer for a moment. “We just ran in different circles. Kept the rapping separate from our normal lives. Plus, the guys I hung out with - they weren’t the kind you or Namjoon would talk to. Luckily, because they weren’t good people.”

“Oh. It’s okay, we’re here now. I was just curious.”

“That’s fine. You can always ask me anything,” said Yoongi. 

There was a lot more Seokjin wanted to ask him. He thought he knew Yoongi well, and yet there was still mystery. But he would wait a little longer to try and find out.

 

 

As the weather got colder, rehearsals had been getting more frequent and more intense.

The next Saturday, Jaehwan pulled Seokjin aside when he arrived. “Hey, Jinnie. You’ve been doing great work, I’m glad we have such talent in the freshman class.”

“Thank you, sunbaenim.”

Jaehwan laughed. “Oh, you’re cute. You can call me hyung if you want.”

“Sure,” Seokjin managed, turning pink. 

“Good, good. I wanted to talk to you quickly. We’re running through ‘A Heart Full of Love’ today. So I was thinking of having you and Nayeon test out a kiss just to see what it will look like for the audience. It’ll be super quick, but is that alright with you?”

“Oh.” Seokjin’s throat suddenly felt dry. “Yeah, that’s fine.”

“Awesome. See you up there.” He winked and bolted away.

“Was he flirting with you just now?” Yoongi grinned, coming up next to Seokjin. “You look a bit unsteady on your feet.”

“What? Oh, no, no, he was just telling me that I was gonna do the kiss today. You know we’ve just been doing a cheek kiss this whole time.” He rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, lost in thought. 

“Ah,” said Yoongi. “And you’re nervous?”

“Well, a bit. It’s embarrassing…” he trailed off.

“What is? There’s no need to be embarrassed.”

He gestured for Yoongi to come closer, and he did, forcing Seokjin to lean down a bit to whisper. “There is. Because I’ve never kissed anyone before.” He winced, the admission making him want to run away.

Yoongi seemed surprised. “Oh. I see why you’d be nervous, then. But you guys will just touch lips, you really don’t have to worry about messing it up. Just pout a little bit, and it will be over.”

“Alright.” Yoongi’s description of it made him smile a bit. “It’s just so annoying. I’ve spent the last five years studying my ass off at an all-boys high school, and before that I was - well I was 14, that speaks for itself. When was I expected to kiss anyone?” He grumbled.

Yoongi breathed sharply through his nose - a laugh. “The world is wildly unfair, Jin.”

 

Rehearsal began, and despite Seokjin’s heart palpitations about it, the kiss really was over in a blink. Nayeon was natural and sweet about it, which helped. He couldn’t help but think, though, that that milestone had passed with not a single butterfly.

Alright, maybe there was one. Nayeon was adorable, after all - the perfect Cossette. 

She pulled him aside once they were done for the night. “Hey, Seokjin-ssi. I wanted to ask if you’d come along to barbeque with me and Jeongyeon and a few others tonight? You can bring Yoongi, if you like. I feel bad I’ve been playing opposite you this whole time and we haven’t really had a chance to talk outside rehearsal.”

Seokjin knew she and Jeongyeon were a thing, so he was glad it wouldn’t be just him and them. Third wheeling was his least favorite activity. 

“That would be great,” he agreed happily. “Thanks for the invite.” 

At dinner, Yoongi took charge of the barbeque, and across the table, Nayeon tapped Seokjin on the shoulder. “Hey, Seokjin, do you mind if I offer a word of advice?”

“Oh, no. Not at all.”

“I’m not worried about it in the least, but during the kiss earlier - your eyes were screwed really tightly shut.”

Seokjin thought back to it and remembered closing them and thinking don’t make a fool of yourself. “Shit, I’m sorry. I was a little nervous.”

“Hey, don’t sweat it. Just thought I’d let you know. As your loyal wife,” she joked.

He smiled back. “Okay, wife. Next time I’ll be perfect.”



Afterwards, Yoongi and Seokjin took their time wandering back to their room, still full from the uncountable quantity of meat they’d consumed. 

“How was your first kiss, then?” Yoongi asked, bumping his shoulder against Seokjin’s.

“Ah, that.” Seokjin nudged him back. “I was too busy thinking during it. But I’m pretty sure it was good. I’d like to do it again, sometime.”

Yoongi raised an eyebrow. “With Nayeon?”

“What? No, she has a girlfriend. I mean… if she didn’t and was interested at all, then maybe. But I just meant in general.”

“Well you won’t have a hard time finding a volunteer, trust me.”

“Oh.” Seokjin glanced over at Yoongi, who stared at the sidewalk. “That’s good to know, I guess.”  

They kept walking. After a minute, Seokjin spoke again. “I would like to be friends with Nayeon, though. Or any girl. If you can believe it, I’ve never had a really close girl friend. Maybe I should start with friendship.”

“I think that’s a good plan. And Nayeon’s sweet, she’ll be easy to befriend.”

 

 

The Saturday after that, Seokjin had promised Namjoon and Hoseok he’d go with them to this art exhibit they both wanted to see. The only reason he agreed was that it was free. But admittedly the colorful figurines were fun to look at. He would’ve stayed longer, except that the dining hall fish he’d eaten earlier was not sitting well with him.

“I think I’ll just head back home,” he said, grimacing as his stomach protested his existence painfully. “You guys enjoy the toys.”

Namjoon held back a snide remark only because Seokjin was sick. “We will. Now go lie down.”

 

The ride back to campus was not fun at all, and so when Seokjin finally arrived back at his room, he was groaning as he flung open the door.

He didn’t have much luck, clearly, with entering rooms at the right moment. Now, he stood there with his mouth hanging open as he watched the two people entangled on the bed disentangle hurriedly.

Yoongi and some guy Seokjin didn’t know, Yoongi bearing down on him, the muscles in the pale expanse of his bare back flexing as he did. And then Seokjin was meeting Yoongi’s wide eyes and seeing his kiss swollen lips and. “Sorry,” he squeaked, closing the door.

Again, he fled to the bathroom down the hall, but this time he actually had to use it. After he was done, he waited there, thinking about his life. What he had felt when he saw Yoongi kissing another boy. The way his heart had leapt into his throat. Fuck, he was hopeless, needed to learn how to act normal when confronted with intimacy. And seeing intimacy between two guys, why did it make him feel so untethered? He leaned his head against the stall door, gross as that was, and resolved to figure himself out. 

After a few minutes, he saw feet approaching, familiar feet in white socks and black slides.

“Seokjin-ah,” Yoongi called. “Why are you standing in a bathroom stall?”

“I had to go the bathroom,” he said. “What are you doing? You can go back to your date. I know I said I wouldn’t be back until 9.”

“He’s not my date.”

“Your kissing partner, then.” He heard Yoongi chuckle, and then he started giggling himself, until they were laughing like maniacs on either side of a bathroom door. Finally, he pushed back the latch and stepped out, smiling ruefully at Yoongi.

“Are we good?” Yoongi asked. “You looked a little shell-shocked back there.”

“Oh, Yoongi, of course we are. I’m sorry if I seemed surprised, I’m just no good dealing with intimacy, I guess. You probably know that.”

“Hm, maybe. Uh, so yeah, I’m bi.”

Seokjin smiled gently at him. “Thank you for telling me.”

“I mean, you probably would’ve guessed from what you just saw.”

Seokjin stuck his tongue out, going around Yoongi to wash his hands before they went back to the room. “So who was that guy, if not your date?”

“Just someone Taehyung’s been trying to set me up with since Halloween.”

“Ahh, I see. Taehyung’s boyfriend is really beautiful.”

Yoongi smiled at him, teasing. “And how is that relevant?”

“I’m just saying, ” Seokjin huffed, “he probably has good taste. Now, I need to grab some pepto bismol from the room but then you can have it back. I’ll go lay down in the common room.”

“No need. He left already.”

“Oh.” Seokjin frowned. “And did you reschedule?”

“Maybe one night if I’m in the mood.” Yoongi put a hand on Seokjin’s lower back and guided him into the hall. “Let’s get you horizontal now, Jin-ah.”

 

Later, when Seokjin was playing Animal Crossing on his DS, he thought of something. “Hey, Yoongichi?”

“Yes?”

“I just realized. That line about your rap sending men and women to Hong Kong…”

Yoongi rubbed a hand over his face. “God, Jin, what about it?”

“Nothing, nothing, I’m just having some realizations over here. That’s a bold claim, at any rate.”

“One I can back up, though.”

Seokjin just stared at him for a long moment, not wanting to unpack that. “Alright, I’m gonna go back to playing Animal Crossing.” 

 

The next day, Seokjin joined Namjoon for a study session, but he was too distracted to get much done.

“Do you think Yoongi’s hot?” he asked after a half hour of staring blankly at his CS problem set. 

Namjoon made an incredulous face. “What’s with that question?”

“Nothing, I was just curious.” He leaned in to whisper conspiratorially. “I walked in on him making out with someone last night.”

“And? You thought it was hot?” 

Seokjin hated that shit-eating grin of Namjoon's. “That’s not- I mean, sure, objectively.” he sputtered. “But I’m asking you if you think he’s hot. I never thought of him as a sexual being before last night, honestly.”

“I’d say he’s attractive,” said Namjoon. “Definitely when he raps. Jin, if you could’ve seen him live.” 

He nodded. “Sounds about right, based on the recordings.”

“Who was it, by the way? I can imagine your awkward face.”

“Oh. I don’t know if I can tell you that.”

“Why not?”

“I just can’t.”

“Wait - is it that guy Taehyung-hyung set him up with?”

Seokjin sat back in surprise. “How’d you know that?”

“I have Poetry with Taehyung. And he knows we’re best friends, so we’ve been talking - he’s very passionate about his matchmaking. But it’s fine, Yoongi’s open about things. He used to come by the club with his boyfriend, not that he told everyone that’s who it was.”

“Oh, I see.” Seokjin filed that information away for later. “Anyways, I don’t think it worked out, the guy left right after I barged in.” He scribbled in the margin of his notebook, looking up again when he felt Namjoon’s eyes on the side of his face. “What?”

“Nothing… just - you thought it was hot? Seeing Yoongi making out with this guy?”

“Objectively, I said. Why shouldn’t I?”

“No reason, Seokjin.” He scratched his head, turning back to his textbook. “Nevermind.”

 

 

Now Seokjin could safely say he’d thought about kissing more in the past week than in the past two years. He’d come to terms by now with the fact that whatever sexual experience he did or didn’t have didn’t define him. But. That didn’t mean he was free of wanting. He resolved to put himself out there whenever he went out next.

That ended up being the same weekend. Taehyung was hosting a party in one of the society houses, despite not being in that society. Hoseok, who apparently also knew Jimin through dance, and Namjoon came with. Yoongi said he’d meet them there later. 

By 9:30, Seokjin had downed two drinks, some kind of jungle juice that he was wary of but tasted too good to pass up. Besides, it wasn’t like Namjoon and Hoseok wouldn’t look out for him. They stood together in a corner at the moment, debating whether to go dance. 

Parties were a minefield, Seokjin thought, full of people you might accidentally make eye contact with - and who knew what eye contact really meant, then?

At 10, he noticed a girl who kept looking at him. She was pretty, with a black bob and black clothes, even a tattoo on her forearm that he couldn’t quite make out. 

Taehyung had dressed him that night, and he felt a little like he was putting out a very different image than he usually would with black ripped jeans, a holey T-shirt and a hoop in his ear. 

The girl started cutting through the crowd, moving towards where they were dancing. (Namjoon was bouncing wildly and Hoseok was casually putting them all to shame). 

“Hi,” said the girl. The party wasn’t so loud that he had trouble hearing her.

“Hello.” He subconsciously stood up a little straighter.

“What’s your name?”

“Seokjin.” He reached out a hand, and she grinned before shaking it. 

“I’m Miyoung. Are you in the Arts Department?”

“Computer Science.” He grimaced internally, wishing he hadn’t been so practical with that major choice. Film would have sounded better. “I’m in the musical, though.”

“Oh, cool,” she said. “Maybe that’s why you look familiar, I must’ve seen you around the building. I’m a Studio Arts major.”

“That’s awesome!” Now that was impressive, he thought. And the way she looked so assured, it showed that she was doing just what she wanted with her life.

She nodded, smiling again. Her lips were thin, smile sharp and alluring. “Wanna dance?”

 

They danced for a while, with Seokjin moving as minimally as possible where he would usually goof off. It was getting hot in there, and he found himself pulling his shirt away from his chest, trying to fan himself.

“C'mon,” said Miyoung, taking his hand and pulling him out to the back porch. “Let’s cool off a bit.” Dark corners - he knew what this led to. 

Miyoung’s eyes glittered in the low light, and then she leaned up and kissed him. It was different from kissing Nayeon, so different. His heart thumped in his chest at the wet slide of lips on lips and the press of a body against his own. He put his hands lightly on her shoulders, and she chuckled into his mouth, her fingers hot over one of the tears in his shirt. She guided his hands to her waist, and it was soft, giving under his touch. 

After a while his pulse was racing and his pants were getting embarrassingly tight, and she pulled away.

“Just so you know - I’m only looking for something casual,” she said. 

“Oh.” His eyes landed on the smudge of her red lipstick. “I'm sorry, I don’t know if I can do that.” He would have to become far more confident before he ventured into thar territory,

“It’s alright. No need to apologize” She took his hand in her own. “You’re sweet. I’d like to paint you sometime.”

They exchanged numbers, and Seokjin stumbled back inside, finding Namjoon and Hoseok easily by the latter’s red hair. When he rejoined them, he saw Yoongi was there, too.

“Hey,” he said, dazed.

Namjoon had started giggling at the sight of him. “You look like a changed man.”

Yoongi raised an eyebrow, and Hoseok explained. “Seokjin disappeared with a girl a bit ago. Tattoos and a streak of red in her hair. I never knew that was his type.” He smiled an elfin smile. 

“Aha,” said Yoongi, eyes drifting to Seokjin's neck.

Seokjin brought his hand to cover it. “What?”

“Nothing.” He took a sip from his cup. 

“Oh my god, Jin, she ravaged you,” said Namjoon, staring at the spot on his neck where bruises bloomed.

Seokjin whined in embarrassment as Namjoon reached out to smooth his ruffled hair. 

“What are you doing back here, then?” Yoongi asked. 

“Oh. She was just looking for a hook up. She offered to paint me, though.” 

Hoseok cooed. “Paint you? Our Seokjin a muse. How perfect.”

“What was her name? I think I might know her,” said Yoongi.

“Miyoung.”

He nodded. “I do. She plays the bass in a band, too.” 

“Wow. She’s definitely out of my league, then.”

“Nah,” said Namjoon, slinging an arm around his shoulder. “I mean, she sounds very cool, but so are you.”

 

 

Namjoon was right, in a way. Miyoung texted him a few days later to ask if he wouldn’t mind coming to the painting studio. And despite Seokjin’s nerves and intimidation, she was easy to talk to. After a few sessions, he considered them acquaintances, if not friends.

The only thing was, he didn’t know whether or not she was into him. As a rule, he never assumed anyone was. But they had kissed, and though she was only looking for something casual that night it didn’t mean she couldn’t be into him, right? Sometimes she acted like she was. He was confused about it.

As they spent more and more time together while she finished the independent study project, the more his heart betrayed him. There were people you knew you had different priorities from, who you knew wouldn’t suit you emotionally, and yet. Like this, his crush gained a chokehold on him.

 

It was the end of November, now, and things were getting insanely busy. His birthday was soon, and right after that was finals. But here he was, standing in the studio with Miyoung and wishing his attraction away. 

She’d just finished the painting the night before, and now she was ready to unveil it. The way her eyes lit up with excitement only made his heart ache more. “Oh, Jinnie, wait until you see this. You’ve been such a help, you have no idea how valuable the right inspiration is.”

“I’m happy to inspire such a great artist. Now show me, the suspense is killing me.”

She pulled a sheet off the canvas, which was so large that she had to jump to reach the top. 

He blinked, staring up at it in awe. He’d seen it as it progressed, but it had transformed entirely. It was colorful, with abstract Klimt-like shapes surrounding the luminous centerpiece of his face, his expression a coy smile.

“It’s incredible,” he said, beaming at Miyoung and pulling her into a hug. She hugged back, tightly, and he couldn’t help but tuck his face against her shoulder. She smelled like jasmine.

 

Later, as they walked back to their dorms together, he found the courage to ask. “So. My birthday’s on Saturday, and I was having a few friends over if you wanted to join? It’s okay if you can’t.”

Her arm was wound around one of his. “What? Of course I’ll come. I wish you would’ve told me sooner so I could start making you something.”

“You don’t need to. You already painted that enormous thing, and I’m gonna pretend it’s dedicated to me. Let me live in oblivion.”

“It is for you,” she said. “Text me the time of your party. I’ll be there.”



In the end, she was forty minutes late, and Seokjin tried not to care. When she did show up, though, she brought a beautiful handmade card with an illustration of his MapleStory character on it. His mouth fell open before he looked up at her with a wide smile. “I can’t believe it, this is amazing. Thank you, noona.”

“I’m glad you like it.” She leaned up on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek, then tilted her face to whisper in his ear. “Happy birthday, Seokjin-ah.”

He showed her into the room, willing away his red ears. It was Yoongi, Namjoon, Hoseok, Taehyung, and a bunch of drinks. Seokjin had also picked up a pizza and a crepe cake to treat himself.

“You guys know Miyoung-noona,” he said.

“Hey,” she said. “What’s up?”

Seokjin rarely entered a room without pausing to test the mood, but Miyoung was so casual about everything. She sat down on an empty spot on Yoongi’s bed and immediately started talking. “Yoongi! How’s the mixtape coming?”

He put down his drink, eyebrows rising under his bangs. “Good, yeah. Almost done. I still have to write some lyrics, but yeah.”

Seokjin settled himself next to Miyoung, letting his legs dangle off the bed. As the night went on, she somehow shifted closer so their thighs were up against one another.

Drinking always made him a little sleepy, and so he leaned back against the pillows, smiling contently and laughing as Hoseok and Taehyung body rolled to his Britney Spears playlist.

At 11, Namjoon and Hoseok stood. “Well, I think we’ll hit the hay a little early.”

“Yeah, and I have a thing to go to, so. I won't be back here until 1-ish,” said Yoongi. Taehyung yawned dramatically.

Seokjin blinked. It was painfully obvious what they were doing. “Oh, alright then. Thanks for coming, guys.” 

The door clanged shut behind them, loud as always, and he and Miyoung were alone.

“How does it feel to be twenty?” she asked after a moment.

Seokjin hummed, considering. “It’s a little weird. There’s a lot I have to do, still, to feel like I’ve earned that age.”

She leaned closer. “Like?’

He flushed at her tone, making a face in response. “I don’t know. Stand up to my dad? Get over stage fright? Fall in love, maybe.”

Her smile was soft. “Take your time. One day you’ll back and realize how much you’ve grown as a person. I’ve only been here a year and a half, and I feel like I’ve changed so much.”

“That’s good to know. I guess all will come with time.”

She hummed in agreement. “You don’t need my advice, you’re already the most steadfast person I know. I don’t think anything could knock you off your feet.”

“I hope so.” Her hand was hovering over his, now, and the alcohol had opened a yawning pit of desire in him. He swallowed, looking down at the duvet.

“Hey,” she whispered, making him look up at her. “You have to make a wish.” 

He knew his eyes were pleading, even if he didn’t mean them to be, and then she kissed him.

This is a bad idea, he thought.

But it didn’t feel like one as they shifted so he laid against the pillows. Her hands were on his legs, with one thumb pressing into the flesh of his upper thigh left bare by the rips.

He had his eyes screwed shut, overwhelmed at how much better this was than their last kiss, how much more intimate. It scared him, like a car accelerating too fast. When she moved away from his lips to press a bruising kiss to his neck, tongue against his pulse point, he couldn’t help but sigh. She pulled away, sitting back quickly.

There was remorse in her eyes at once, and it pained him, moreso as she moved further down the bed, away from him.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I should’ve known better.”

“I don’t understand,” he said. “I thought you didn’t like me.”

“I do, I do like you.”

“Then… you just don’t want to date.”

Her mouth twisted up. “I’m sorry,” she said again. “I’m drawn to you, but I know that we’re not feeling the same things. And I don’t want to hurt you. I really don’t.”

They were both quiet for a minute. “Would you want to be friends?” she asked.

“Alright.” he said. It was all he could say. “Yeah. Just - just give me some time? I’m good at getting rid of feelings.”

She looked distraught at that, but only nodded before pressing a kiss to his forehead. Unexpected. He felt his lips purse in unhappiness.

After she left, he just laid there for a while before remembering Yoongi. “You can come back whenever,” he typed. He made a typo on ‘whenever’ but couldn’t be bothered. He sighed, hitting send.

There was a slice of pizza left over from the party, so he hauled himself up to eat it at his desk. A few minutes later, the door opened. He turned around, somehow hoping and dreading that Miyoung had come back. Yoongi poked his head in.

“Hey,” he said. His voice was soft and low like he’d read every line of Seokjin’s face.

“Hey. I thought you went out?”

“Ah. I was just in the common room. I made that up so you’d have the room.”

“You guys didn’t have to leave,” Seokjin muttered. “It’s like I said last time, Miyoung’s not looking to date anyone.”

“Oh. We just thought… it seemed like something more, tonight.”

“Not a romantic something, though.” He took another bite of the pizza. “I hate having feelings.”

“Seokjin-ah,” Yoongi’s voice held a pout. “What can we do to make you feel better?”

He shrugged.

“I know. I haven’t given you your present yet.”

“A present? You didn’t have to.”

Yoongi was rustling under the bed, now, and he came up with a package, large and wrapped in pink paper.

Seokjin took it, feeling it squish beneath his fingers before he tore the paper away. The head of a plush animal was revealed, white and fluffy with a kind smile. “Yoongi-chi,” he said, smiling at his roommate. “How sweet.”

Yoongi smiled back, ducking his head a bit. “You mentioned that you wanted a plushie, so. His name’s RJ.”

“You’re the best.” It did lighten Seokjin’s mood, in a way. A reminder that friendship was most important. Something he could count on.

The two of them stayed up together, until it was late enough to think about life.

“How do you do it?” Seokjin murmured, turning onto his side and looking over at Yoongi.

“Do what?”

“Tonight - well, we could’ve… you know. If I’d wanted to. But I knew it would hurt me, in the end. That it didn’t mean the same thing to her.”

“You want to know how I do hookups?”

Seokjin nodded. “I’m not being judgemental, I swear. I’m just curious - what it’s like.”

“I know you aren’t. And I’m glad that you didn’t go forward when you both weren’t on the same page. It only works if you are. If you’ve both internalized the idea that it’s about pleasure only. Not everyone can do that, really.”

“Pleasure only,” Seokjin repeated.

“Yeah, rather than intimacy. Some people don’t want that intimacy, for whatever reason. Or they only want it with a specific person, someone they love, but with others they don’t feel the same desire for it, you know?”

Seokjin thought about what he was saying. “Makes sense. Do you, I don’t know, do you feel different about intimacy when it comes to different genders?”

“A lot of questions tonight.”

“Sorry, sorry. I’m just trying to distract myself. And I like to know things. But you don’t have to answer.”

“No, I will. I just have to think.” He paused for a moment. “So, I’m most attracted to men. It was damn hard to sort that out, since I knew I liked women first. For a while I thought I was all set. Until I started thinking about men, and I was like shit, alright.” He chuckled. “But as for intimacy, I’d be into it with whoever as long as they were the right person. Someone I cared about a lot.”

“Aha,” Seokjin hummed. “I see. You’re really smart, Yoongi-yah. You know way more than me about this stuff.”

Yoongi reached out a hand from where he sat against the headboard, but it fell short of Seokjin and landed on the duvet. “It’s fine if you don’t already know all this. At any rate, you’re good to talk to.”

Seokjin’s eyes fell shut as he smiled, and when they finally went to bed he was far less upset.

 

 

After that, there wasn’t time for Seokjin to even think about the disappointments of his love life with finals crashing down on him. He could hardly believe he’d made it through his first semester, but still a lot was riding on these exams. His father expected an A in his CS course, seeing as he didn’t approve fully of the major anyways. So Seokjin spent reading period holed up in the library, and as far as he knew Yoongi rarely left the practice rooms in the music building, busy practicing Rachminoff’s piano concerto.

On the last day, Seokjin came home to see that Yoongi had upended his whole desk. Sheet music was strewn everywhere, and there was a box full of CDs on the wooden chair. Probably he was preparing to submit an assignment, but who knew.

Seokjin sighed happily to have the evening to unwind, going over to the closet to throw on some pajamas. As he did, he bumped Yoongi’s chair in his haste and swore as the box came crashing down.

“Fuck, fuck fuck.” He crouched down to gather the toppled CDs, feeling lucky that their cases prevented them from getting damaged. He was stacking them up again when the title scribbled across one in black sharpie caught his eye. Gloss: The First Mixtape.

“Gloss,” he murmured. His mind was working at a hundred miles an hour, his stomach sinking with realization.

It felt like it had been so long since White Day senior year. But he still remembered it. The note signed with that mysterious nickname: Gloss. I hope the world never gets its hands on you and your goodness, the person had written. Yoongi, he corrected himself, Yoongi had to have written that, if he was Gloss. He bit his lower lip anxiously, tearing away a piece of dead skin and leaving a stinging sensation in its wake.

The flowers, the note, the song. He’d stored it all deep, deep inside of him, considered it a dream rather than reality. But now he was made to wonder whether it was his roommate who did all that. And if it was, that meant that Yoongi had liked him. He swallowed. It could be possible this wasn’t actually Yoongi’s mixtape, right?

With nervous hands, feeling like he was invading Yoongi’s privacy, he picked the CD up, uncased it, and slipped the disc into his computer.

He only let it play for a second, enough to hear a voice that was unmistakably Yoongi’s introduce the song, and then he ejected it and returned it to its case. He put the box back on the chair, too, just in case Yoongi came in at that very moment.

Alright. So Yoongi had been his secret admirer in high school. Or maybe the note was one of platonic admiration? But the rose didn’t seem to be.

Like this, he played tug of war in his mind, unsure how to move forward regarding the revelation. In the end, though, that was in the past. He was glad to have solved the mystery, but he didn’t want to embarrass Yoongi by bringing it up. It would be best to keep this information safely wrapped up in the designated spot in his chest.

 

Yoongi came back an hour later, looking exhausted.

“Finished?” Seokjin asked, glancing away when Yoongi’s eyes met his.

“Yeah, just performed the concerto, so that’s it for the semester.” He sighed. “My hands need a break.”

“Can I give you a hand massage?” Seokjin offered before realizing that prolonged eye contact with Yoongi would be hard right now. He had a secret to keep. But then, Yoongi had been keeping his secret for a while, and Seokjin never caught on. 

Yoongi cleared his throat. “Uh, sure?”

“I promise I know what I’m doing. I learned at physical therapy.” He wiggled his own crooked fingers at Yoongi, who nodded and came closer. “Okay, let me get some lotion.”

“Strawberry flavored,” Yoongi commented, archness creeping into his tired voice.

“Mm. My uncle owns a strawberry farm, you know. Reminds me of my childhood.”

He looked up at Yoongi, now, as he took his hands and started massaging in the lotion. That was a mistake. Yoongi’s dark eyes were heavy on him, but they quickly flicked away. Maybe he still has a crush, Seokjin thought. An inkling of one, or something. 

He felt his face flush, and it was only made worse as he worked his own hands over Yoongi’s. They were nice hands, bare of their usual rings right now. Long fingers, rosy knuckles.

His brief fling with Miyoung had only made things worse in the yearning department. He knew now how much he liked physical contact. How much he liked to be touched. His heart sped up.

“This feels nice,” Yoongi said.

“Good,” Seokjin managed. “I can do your back, too.”

After five minutes, he moved around and sat on his knees behind Yoongi. He wiped the excess lotion on his jeans, then brought his hands up to slumped shoulders.

The fabric of Yoongi’s t-shirt was warm and soft over sharp shoulder blades as Seokjin dug his thumbs into several nasty knots.

Yoongi groaned lowly, then ducked his head more. Seokjin could tell even from behind that he was embarrassed. “How’d your finals go?” Yoongi asked hurriedly.

“Oh, they were good,” said Seokjin. “I think CS went alright. And my drama teacher said he was pleased at how well I read for an antagonist. I guess he’d stereotyped me.” He laughed squeakily and heard Yoongi huff a laugh.

“You’re a sweetheart, that’s why.”

“Aw, Yoongi-chi, I didn’t know you felt that way.” This was easy. Joking was easy, when in reality Seokjin did know how Yoongi felt. Or at least past Yoongi.

He finished up the massage, and the next morning he gave Yoongi a hug before he departed for winter break.

“See you in a month.”

“See you then. Be safe,” said Yoongi.

Seokjin just laughed. “I will.” Yoongi and his practicality. He realized then how much he’d miss his roommate, seeing him slumber peacefully until noon or play the piano like a storm. He glanced back once more, then left his first semester of college behind him. 

Chapter Text

chapter three: winter-spring 2012

 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

mary oliver, 'wild geese'

 

Home was home. At once, the changes Seokjin had felt take root in him were washed away as if by the tide, the unhappiness and unfulfillment of high school replacing them. How long he had spent here, dragging his feet day after day, and it felt worse now that he knew how right he could feel.

Family dinners were excruciating as ever, it seemed like Seokjung would never return, and his parents were sleeping in separate beds. Seokjin could hear the creak of the floorboards as his dad went into Seokjung’s room at night and saw the rumpled sheets in the morning. It wasn’t a surprise, so he felt silly for being oddly upset about it.

He got to see Jeongguk, though, and that was a plus. He wrapped Seokjin up in a boa constrictor level squeeze as soon as he entered the café. “Hyung, my favorite hyung, I’ve missed you.”

Seokjin laughed. “I thought Namjoon was your favorite?”

“I like you both equally.” 

Seokjin hugged his friend back tightly. “God, how’d you get this swole? I didn’t think cram school left time for the gym?”

Jeongguk made a face. “Fuck cram school. I took the CSAT last week, so I’m free as a bird.”

“Good, I’m glad. And what’s the verdict? What’s your dream school?”

“Seoul Institute of the Arts,” he said, buck-toothed grin growing. “They don’t care much for test scores, so it’s just about putting together my portfolio and application.”

“Sounds perfect, JK. Let me know if you want any help with the essay.”

He nodded, and they moved inside to grab their usual table. Namjoon joined them a few minutes later, and Jeongguk leapt up to give him a bear hug as well.

“Do you want a hug from me, too?” Seokjin asked Namjoon sarcastically.

“I’ve seen enough of you this semester.” 

Just to spite him, Seokjin got up and made a big show of his embrace. “There’s no such thing as too much of me.”

“Sure, sure,” Namjoon laughed into Seokjin’s shoulder before pushing him back down on the bench.

Once they all had their drinks, Jeongguk leaned in, conspiratorial. “So, do you two have your eyes on anyone?”

Seokjin made a face, trying to cover up the unhappiness that question welled in him. “There was a girl, very briefly, but we never dated. And that’s over now.”

“You never told me about her,” said Jeongguk. They texted frequently, but. Seokjin just hadn’t gotten around to it.

He waved a hand. “You don’t need to hear about the failures in my love life, JK.”

“I can be a good confidante, you know. I’m not that much younger.”

“We trust you,” Namjoon said. “I’m sure hyung just didn’t want to say anything because he wasn’t totally sure about it all.”

Damn Namjoon for psychoanalyzing him successfully. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s right. But hey, why don’t we talk about Joon’s love life, eh? I never spotted him with a paramour.”

“Well.” Namjoon began. “I like someone, but. Nothing’s come of it.”

“Who?” asked Seokjin, incredulous.

“Fine, fine, I’ll tell you. But, Jeongguk-ah, you should know the infinite cute guys there are in college. Like, cute in a way that doesn’t scream straight.”

“Such as Jongho,” Seokjin added.

Jeongguk grinned. “Yeah? That’s a plus, then. I’ll take the train over to survey the land.”

“Good idea. So, uh, Seokjin I know you’re gonna kill me for this but the person I like is actually Hoseok.”

Seokjin’s mouth fell open.

“Your roommate?” Jeongguk hit Namjoon on the bicep. “You drama protagonist.”

“I had no idea,” said Seokjin. “You had me completely bamboozled.”

“I did not bamboozle you. It’s like I said before, I didn’t want to say anything while it was all so unstable.”

“And now?”

He sighed. “I don’t know. Hoseok’s an enigma. Jin, maybe you can help me understand that mysterious Aquarius.”

“Why me?”

“Cause no one understands you either.”

“Hey! All you have to do is try a little harder,” Seokjin muttered. If anyone looked closely, it was clear that, beneath whatever he put on, he was sensitive. He only wanted to be happy, and that was a simple enough ask, wasn't it?

 

 

It was only after their get together that Seokjin dared to do what he’d been meaning to for days. With his newfound knowledge, there was so much to consider. The feeling thrummed through his veins as he dug under his bed for the box and unearthed the CD and note.

He recognized the handwriting this time, of course, the sharpness of it so obviously Yoongi. His eyes ran over the words. I admire the way you leave joy and smiles in the path of your radiance, Yoongi had written. 

That was - that was something. Now that Seokjin had figured out who the note came from, he knew it was someone he cared for who had shared such touching words. He swallowed over a lump in his throat.

Hopefully one day we can meet again. And they had, luckily. Seokjin exhaled shakily before pressing the CD into the player. He listened as the deep voice spoke the familiar words and sat there as the piano music swelled, somehow sounding so full of emotion.

The plan was to never let Yoongi knew what he had found out. He could look him in the eyes, no problem, he’d just have to bury whatever strange feelings this discovery elicited deep deep down. An ostrich with its head in the sand, that was him. 

 

 ➼

 

But spring semester snuck up on him, and that plan was tested. Especially when Yoongi turned up in their room with bleach blond hair and his leg in a cast. Seokjin sat up in bed, gaping, unsure where to look first. 

“Yoongi - what happened?” He pushed the covers away, coming to help Yoongi put his crutches aside and get up on the bed. 

“You mean my hair or the leg?”

“Your leg, weirdo, I don’t imagine the hair is due to some freak accident with bleach.”

Yoongi chuckled, struggling to slide back against the pillows. Seokjin put a hand on his waist to help. It worried him to feel Yoongi’s frailty beneath the shirt, and now to see him like this. “I got knocked off my bike,” he said. “It was raining, a car came out of nowhere, and I veered and hit the curb. So, yeah.” 

“Holy fuck,” said Seokjin. “Min Yoongi, I’m absolutely going to have a nightmare about that, please be more careful.”

“Sorry,” Yoongi grimaced. “At least my arms are fine, though.”

Like him to be always thinking of music. Seokjin looked down, saw that the cast was on his left leg. “And you can play the pedals.” Yoongi nodded and Seokjin sighed. “That’s good, but you still gave me a heart attack, Yoongi-chi.” He reached up a hand to pull on a fried-looking white strand. Yoongi batted his hand away before speaking.

“That reminds me - you should bleach your hair, too.”

“Hm. Maybe after the play?”

“Oh yeah. I forgot. Well, I think you’d look good, not that your ego needs more inflating.”

“Hey,” Seokjin crossed his arms. “Just cause you’re injured, doesn’t mean I won’t come after you.”

“You won’t.” Yoongi smirked. God, that smirk was insufferable. “I predict that you’re gonna be fawning over me nonstop until I get this thing off.”

Seokjin shook his head. “Not anymore, Min Yoongi,” he said.

But of course he made Yoongi a cup of tea that night, as if that would help a fractured tibia, and carried his books in the morning, walking slowly so Yoongi could keep up on his crutches.

 

On Friday, they had rehearsal. There were only two more weeks of practice before opening night, and it was clear by the crazed look in Jaehwan’s eye. It died down a bit when he saw that none of them had forgotten their lines over winter break. 

“People,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, now let’s just work hard for the next weeks so we can blow everyone’s mind.”

There were vague murmurs of ‘hwaiting’ and some scattered clapping, some heckling from Jaehwan’s friends, and then he shooed them all the way. “Be free, children, go do jager bombs and get ass tattoos for all I care.”

Seokjin made his way over towards Yoongi, who was sitting on the piano bench with Taehyung next to him, laughing about something.

“But seriously,” he heard Yoongi say as he got closer, “how am I supposed to hook up with anyone wearing this thing.”

“They can be in cowboy position,” suggested Taehyung gleefully, waggling his eyebrows while miming a lasso motion.

Seokjin stopped next to the piano, covering his smile with a hand. “Am I interrupting something?”

“Nah,” Taehyung waved a hand. “Back me up, Yoongi here can totally still get it with his cast, right?”

“I don’t see why not. They might just have to help him maneuver a bit.” He giggled as a now subdued Yoongi slumped over on the bench, crossing his arms and grumbling something.

“He has a date tonight,” Taehyung said. “I think you walked in on them once.”

“Oh, him, yeah we’re the best of friends. That’ll be fun.”

Yoongi was looking up at him, now, grimacing a bit. “Yeah, uh, I hate to ask, Jin-ah, but would you mind giving me the room for, like, two hours max? Maybe until 10?”

“Ah.” Seokjn raised a brow. “Of course, Yoongi-yah. I owe you for last time.”

“Thanks.” He pulled on his jacket, then. “Okay, gotta run and get ready. See you guys later.”

Seokjin and Taehyung watched him scurry away, then met eyes. 

“So,” said Taehyung. “Dinner. You wanna come hang with me and Jimin? I’d hate for you to be sexiled.”

“Wouldn’t you two rather be alone? Friday's date night, I thought.”

Taehyung stood, smiling fondly at him and pulling his newspaper boy cap down over feathery black hair. “We’ve got plenty of time to be alone. Let us dote on you for a night.”

“Okay,” Seokjin agreed. Maybe it would take his mind off the weirdness of being sexiled. It was odd - he was fine with it, obviously, but it was still weird to know the exact hours your friend would be having sex. Or this might just be a him thing.

 

He followed Taehyung back to him and Jimin’s apartment for a nutritious meal of Shin ramen. Neither of the boyfriends could cook, but Jimin proudly cracked a few eggs into their bowls before bringing them over to the living room. 

“Bon appetit,” he said. “Now, what are we watching?”

“I’ve been meaning to rewatch Coffee Prince for a while,” said Taehyung. “You down, Jin?”

“Oh, definitely. I haven’t been keeping up with any dramas lately, it’s sad.”

“We can be drama watching buddies, then,” Taehyung said, smiling widely. 

Jimin settled in to Taehyung’s right side, Seokjin to his left, legs drawn tightly together so as not to intrude on their space. But then Taehyung glanced over at him and lifted his arm. “C’mere, snuggle in. There’s room in my arms for everyone.”

“You’re just a cuddle bear, aren’t you?” Jimin said in that sweet voice of his. Seokjin had to look away from the affection in his eyes. 

They were including him, but still there was an almost palpable feeling of love in the space between the two of them that Seokjin was envious of. He tried to ignore the awareness of their closeness that settled in his stomach as Taehyung hit play with Jimin’s hand around his waist. He could feel one of Taehyung’s hands dangling next to his bicep, and it was distracting - it was nice. 

 

It was half past eleven by the time he headed home, speeding up his pace as his breath turned to fog in front of him. And though he tried his best to avoid it, as soon as he got home and met eyes with Yoongi, he thought, he was having sex. 

“Hey,” Yoongi said.

“Hey.” Leaving his coat on his desk chair and kicking off his shoes, Seokjin crawled into bed and immediately cuddled the alpaca plushie Yoongi had given him in his arms. “How was your date?” How was the sex? He thought to himself. Then, fucking hell, what’s wrong with me.

Yoongi nodded. “It was good.” His voice was neutral, like usual.

“That’s all? Am I ever gonna get to meet this guy or what?”

“I’m not sure we’re at that level. Or that we ever will be.”

They were silent for a second. “Uh,” Seokjin began. “So… did the leg, like, hinder you or anything...” 

Yoongi made a weird noise. “God, Jin.”

“What? You and Taehyung were talking about it.”

“Yes, but it’s different.”

“How?” 

Now Yoongi groaned, putting his face in his hands. “You’re not Taehyung.”

“So what?”

“I don’t want to talk to you about that stuff.” The way he said it was short, like a slip due to frustration.

Oh, Seokjin thought. He blinked. “Ah. Alright then.”

“I didn’t mean - it’s not like that,” said Yoongi. Whatever that meant.

“It’s fine. We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” 

But Yoongi didn’t seem inclined to talk about anything else, either, and Seokjin didn’t want to look at his weird constipated expression any longer. He leaned over to grab his DS from the nightstand, then settled back against the pillows with RJ.

Later, when he shut off the lights, Yoongi’s murmured goodnight felt like a peace offering.

 

 

There was a reason the week before a show was called hell week. Seokjin and Yoongi didn’t get back to their room until 10 most nights, and homework and essays were put on indefinite hiatus. 

Seokjin kept dreaming that he’d fall off the stage, or his voice would give out, or one night, that an oompa loompa would come and trap him in a box minutes before curtain.

“Don’t let stress dreams get to you,” Taehyung told him. “We’ve been doing this for so long, it’s settled into your skin. Just give in to that natural feeling when you step on stage.”

“Sure,” he agreed. Easier said than done.

 

Before he knew it, he was sitting in the makeup chair, dressed like an eighteenth century French gentleman and about ready to shit his pants. He tried doing some breathing exercises after the makeup artist finished with him, but startled when someone came up behind him and grabbed his shoulders, whipping around.

Yoongi stood there with his hands up, crutches tucked beneath his arms. “Jesus,” he said. “Are you good?”

“Sorry, just a little stressed. But what are you doing back here, you need to be in the pit.” 

“It’s fine, I can leave for a minute to wish my friend luck, can’t I? Not that you need luck.”

Seokjin’s shoulders slumped as the tension is his body left in a rush. “It’ll be fine, right?”

“Of course. Just think of it as us two - I’ll be down there, playing for you, watching you.” 

“Shouldn't you be looking at the sheet music?”

Yoongi chuckled. “My third eye will watch you, then?”

“Alright.” Seokjin allowed himself to reach out and cover Yoongi’s hand where it lay on the crutch. “Now get going, the show can’t start without you.”

Yoongi left, slowly making his way back, and Seokjin took a deep breath. He knew these songs, these words like the back of his hand. And he knew Yoongi’s playing, too.

When he stepped onto the stage for the first time, he let his eyes drift imperceptibly to the darkness below, where a figure he knew well sat hunched over the keys. 

Beyond the pit, the auditorium looked so much bigger when it teemed with people - they all wanted to come for opening night, for whatever reason. Namjoon and Hoseok were out there, and Jimin, too. 

And then all that fled his mind as he sang, and sang, until the curtain was closing on them all standing with joined hands. Taehyung scooped Seokjin up in a bear hug, twirling him around and making him trip on his feet, laughing loudly.

“We did it,” he said. “You were amazing, Jin.”

“You were more amazing - you literally gave me chills, hyung.”

Taehyung grinned widely, throwing his arm around Seokjin again. Now, the two of them beamed as they made their way backstage, towards the reception area where family and friends came to congratulate them. 

As soon as Seokjin stepped foot inside, he was bombarded with flowers. They offered the audience a chance to buy a cast member a rose for 1000 won; Seokjin got eight. He wasn’t sure who from, but he craned his head and looked around for Namjoon and Hoseok. As he did, one of the ushers stopped him to hand him a huge bouquet of roses interspersed with baby’s breath.

“Holy shit,” he said, turning to Taehyung with his mouth agape. 

“Your parents?” Taehyung asked.

“No, they’re not coming until next weekend. I’m not sure who would…”

Namjoon shouted Seokjin’s name then, charging over in that awkward way of his before giving Seokjin a similarly awkward hug from behind.

“Namjoon!” he shouted back, grinning at the boy clinging to him. 

“You’re a star. A fucking star.” 

Hoseok was there, too, holding Yoongi’s bag full of sheet music while Yoongi trailed after him on his crutches.

“Seokjin,” said Hoseok, reaching out past Namjoon to put a hand on his bicep. “You were amazing. And you got our roses, I see. Well deserved”

“Mm,” he nodded, cheeks pushing up into a smile. “Thank you guys so much. I’m not sure who this huge bouquet is from, though.”

Namjoon peered over his shoulder, chuckling. “Reminds me of White Day senior year, remember, Jin? You were practically buried in roses.”

Seokjin laughed, too, but he couldn’t help nibbling on his lip, eyes darting over to Yoongi as he remembered that day.

His heart sped up - Yoongi was looking at him already, brows drawn together. When he saw Seokjin looking back he startled a bit, shifting backward in surprise. Then, his forehead cleared, some sort of realization dawning in his eyes. 

“Our Seokjin-ah buried in roses. Of course,” said Taehyung. At some point Jimin had ambled over, and now Taehyung held a big bouquet of purple flowers in one hand and his boyfriend in the other. “Maybe this is from a secret admirer as well.”

“No,” Seokjin blushed. “No, just a friend, I’m sure.” He looked over at Yoongi again, and cursed himself at his obviousness. The other boy hadn’t said a word since arriving, and wouldn’t stop staring at Seokjin.

Now Yoongi spoke up, though. “They’re from me, actually.”

Seokjin gaped at him. There was some determination in his voice, a kind of challenge Seokjin didn’t understand.

“What a generous friend,” Jimin cooed. 

“I-” Seokjin began. “You really didn’t have to, Yoongi-yah. I mean, I got you a rose! But this is so much. I’ll go to the florist after th-”

“Seokjin,” Yoongi interrupted. “It’s fine. Pretend they’re not from me, and just someone in the crowd who really enjoys your voice.”

Seokjin frowned, unsure what to say, and then Taehyung was saying something and everyone was talking, and now Yoongi wasn’t looking in his direction. When everyone started filtering out for cast drinks, Yoongi stopped Seokjin with a hand on his arm.

“Can we talk quickly?”

“Oh - yeah, of course.” The whole bouquet was still in his hands, clutched alongside several single roses. His palms were sweaty. “What’s up?”

“It’s just. You know, right?”

Seokjin swallowed. “Know what?” 

“Come on, Jin. You looked right at me when Namjoon mentioned White Day.”

Seokjin looked away. People were still trickling out past them where they stood in the corner. The room was getting more and more silent. “I don’t-”, he began. He didn’t finish the sentence.

“How’d you find out?” Yoongi asked. 

“I - well I accidentally knocked over a box in our room and saw one of your old mixtapes. I recognized the name. Gloss.”

“Ah. Makes sense.”

“It was all an accident, I swear. Are you mad?”

“Mad? Why would I be? I’m just kind of embarrassed. When I did that… I didn’t think you’d ever know who wrote it. Or know me .” He rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. “Things haven’t gone like I imagined they would. I just thought it might make you smile.”

Seokjin’s heart was in his throat, though he didn’t know why. “It did,” he said. “It did make me smile, Yoongi.”

Yoongi nodded. “Right. Well, uh, we’d better get going so we can catch up to everyone.”

Seokjin didn’t want this to be awkward as it was. Yoongi’s cheeks were pink, he was self-conscious, and Seokjin didn’t know how to reassure him that it didn’t matter when it did matter to both of them.

“Yoongi,” he tried, catching up to him with ease. “That was so long ago. Please don’t be embarrassed or anything.”

“I guess it was,” said Yoongi. He continued walking, not saying anything else, crutches clattering against the sidewalk, and Seokjin had no choice but to follow.

 

The whole cast was in one bar, and it was a lot right now. Seokjin just wanted to get under his blankets with RJ, but couldn’t exactly leave. Not with Taehyung and everybody around him, Nayeon pressing a shot into his hands. Even Jimin was there, an honorary cast member.

Yoongi was against the wall in their booth, phone in hand. Seokjin didn’t know who he was texting so intently, but it was weird. It was even weirder when five minutes later, Yoongi had to clamber over everyone to get out, then sauntered up to the bar to meet someone.

Seokjin stared at them. He was pretty sure that was the date guy, though he’d only seen him for a few seconds months ago. He didn’t get it - every time Seokjin asked about this dude, Yoongi acted like he didn’t give two shits.

But now they were kissing, and alright - Seokjin looked away quickly, flushing and sipping at his peach soju.

“You good?” Taehyung asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired. And a little woozy. What kind of shot was that?”

“Nayeon’s?” he frowned. “Tequila, I think. God knows why she drinks that.”

“Huh.” Seokjin could feel himself swaying a bit in his seat, drunkenness turning his limbs to jelly. “What’s that guy’s name anyway?”

Taehyung glanced over at where Yoongi had unknown date against a wall, then raised an eyebrow at Seokjin. “Kihyun? Has Yoongi never said?”

Seokjin shook his head, running a finger through a patch of condensation on the table. He felt Taehyung’s hand squeeze his shoulder.

“You seem kind of out of it,” he said. “You don’t have to stay, you know. Jiminie was leaving soon, he can help you back.”

“Alright. I’ll be more fun when we go out next, I promise.”

“No worries, Jin-ah.”

 

Jimin was the best, Seokjin decided, leaning on the smaller boy a bit as they made their way through the cold towards the dorms. Jimin was talking about his favorite parts in the show.

“You make a great romantic lead,” he said. “But ‘Empty Chairs’ was incredible. I’d love to see you in a tragedy.”

“You mean my life?” 

Jimin tutted. “It is not.” His arm tightened around Seokjin’s waist. “You know you can talk to me, though, right? I know how hard first year is and all. Don’t be shy.”

“Thanks, Jimin-hyung.”

It started snowing, then. Seokjin made a noise of dismay, but Jimin just held out his hand. 

“It’s so pretty,” he said, smiling up at the sky. Flurries of snow landed in the faded pink of his bangs.

Seokjin couldn’t help himself. Drunk honesty was a thing. “You are, too,” he said.

Jimin turned to him, smile blooming into a grin that showed his slightly crooked front tooth. “Aw. You’re sweet, Jinnie.”

A minute later, Jimin dropped him off at his dorm with a tight hug, and Seokjin trudged inside. Despite his bone weariness, he remembered to wipe off his stage makeup and moisturize before falling into bed. And then he was out.

 

 

Seokjin didn’t like to say things were weird, but they were weird. They’d done their last show now, the Sunday before, and yet. Even time hadn’t erased whatever funk Yoongi was in. They hadn’t actually hung out in a while now, and when they’d been busy with rehearsals, that made sense. Now Seokjin just wanted to watch a movie with his friend who was never there. 

Things seemed to be picking up with Kihyun, or so Seokjin assumed, since Yoongi would dress in his date outfits pretty often. 

Now, when Yoongi slipped out the door, eyeliner rimming his eyes, Seokjin called after him. “Have fun”. Then he grabbed his phone and texted Namjoon.

Can you come over?

Sure, Namjoon replied a minute later. Should I bring snacks?

Seokjin smiled. Always.

 

Namjoon arrived twenty minutes later with a can of Pringles and some peach aloe vera drink.

“You have the key to my heart,” Seokjin said, tugging him inside.

“Wow. Aren’t I lucky. Where’s Yoongi?”

“He’s on a date with Kihyun. Not that he told me that, I just assumed.”

“Huh,” said Namjoon, climbing onto the bed and grabbing RJ. “Kihyun’s a music major, too, I think.”

“Ugh, of course he is.”

Namjoon laughed. “I don’t get you, Jin.” 

“Nevermind.” He waved a hand. “I’ll you about the whole thing later, but how are you? How’s Hoseok?”

“Yeah, about that…”

“What? Tell me!” He smacked Namjoon on the arm with the Pringles, and he glared.

“Hey! I just think maybe, possibly, there’s a slight chance he might like me back.”

Seokjin squealed, whacking Namjoon’s bicep again. “Of course he does, you’re a catch, Joonie.”

Namjoon rubbed his arm, smiling reluctantly. “Thanks. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. It’s a bit weird when you live together.”

“I can imagine, yeah. Give me updates though.”

“I will, I will.” He took the chips from Seokjin. “Now, tell me about life. Is it freeing now Les Mis is over?”

“Oh god, you have no idea. I’ve done nothing but play MapleStory and sleep for the past week. No more vive la révolution, la révolution is dead. Never to be seen again.”

“I think you might have missed the theme of the play.”

“Maybe so.” Seokjin pulled up Crunchyroll. “Now remind me what episode we left off on?”

 

They binged One Piece for a while, until it was late, and Seokjin had his head propped against Namjoon’s shoulder. “I don’t know what time Yoongi will be home,” he murmured. 

“Weren’t you gonna tell me about the whole deal with Kihyun?” Namjoon asked.

“Oh, that. It has nothing to do with Kihyun, it’s just that Yoongi’s been acting weird lately. Like, avoiding me, or something.”

“Really? That surprises me. Do you know why?”

Seokjin leaned away from Namjoon, propping RJ behind his head. “Well... kind of. It’s a long story, but you know how I got all those roses senior year?”

“How could I forget?”

“Yeah, so Yoongi was one of the guys who gave me one. And he made me a mixtape, but I just found out in December that it was him, and then he just found out that I know, so now it’s awkward.”

Namjoon was gaping at him. “He made you a mixtape? God, that is so Yoongi to do. Then he liked you back in high school?”

“I guess so.” Seokjin grimaced. “I feel really bad, he seemed embarrassed when he asked me about it.”

“How’d you find out?”

“I accidentally saw one of his old mixtapes - it said ‘Gloss’, which is what the note from White Day was signed with.”

“Gloss?” Namjoon blinked. “That was the stage name he used when we rapped together. Fuck, wait a second.”

“What?”

“The first time you introduced us - Yoongi asked me not to mention his stage name to you. I asked why but he just said he wanted to rebrand and stuff. I thought it was stupid, but I didn’t think anything of it. Shit, that makes sense, now.”

“Shit,” was all Seokjin could say. “He really put some thought into it.”

“I guess so. Anyways, he’ll probably be fine. I’m sorry he’s avoiding you, though.”

Seokjin shook his head. “I get it. I avoid Miyoung all the time. But that happened way more recently.”

“Do you think maybe he still likes you?”

“Oh- no. No, I don’t think so.” Seokjin could feel his ears turning red. “He has this thing with Kihyun.”

“I-” Namjoon started to speak, and then the door was opening. Yoongi stepped in, nodding at them and doing a double take when it was clear they were both staring at him with wide eyes.

“Uh, what’s up?”

“Nothing,” said Seokjin. “Just chilling. What have you been up to?”

“At the bar,” he said, unwinding his scarf and throwing his jacket on the chair. There were flurries of snow on it. “There’s supposed to be a blizzard tonight, you know?”

Namjoon glanced at his watch. “Ah shit, I should probably go then. See you guys soon.” 

 

After Namjoon left, Seokjin crawled under the covers, yawning. Yoongi changed into his pajamas behind the closet door. Ten minutes later, the power cut out.

“Shit,” said Yoongi. 

Seokjin stared into the dark. “It’s okay, it should be back before long.”

“I was just gonna work on a song for a bit.” He sighed and ambled over to bed, and the time on Seokjin’s laptop switched to midnight of March 9th.

“Hey,” Seokjin said. “Happy birthday, Yoongi-yah.”

Yoongi looked over at him, mouth falling open a bit before he smiled lightly. “Thanks, Seokjin.”

“Do you want to go for barbeque tomorrow to celebrate? It’s been a while since we ate together.” He tried his hardest to keep the feelings he’d been bottling up out of his voice.

“Yeah,” Yoongi said, soft. “Yeah, that’d be nice.”

 

 

Seokjin texted the gang the next day, asking if they were free that night to surprise Yoongi at the restaurant. When Yoongi came into the barbeque place later that night, the five of them blowed obnoxiously on kazoos before shouting “Happy Birthday!”

Yoongi looked bewildered, then broke out into a smile and covered his face with his hands. 

“Surprise,” said Seokjin. “Happy birthday, roomie.”

Yoongi laughed. “Thanks, Jin.” He came forward and settled in at the head of the table. “It’s really nice of you guys to come.”

“Of course,” said Taehyung. “I’m just mad that you never mentioned to us that it was your birthday.”

Yoongi waved a hand. “Eh. I aged another year, so what. The only thing it’s good for is a reason to go out for drinks and barbeque, so. Let’s order.”

Shortly after, the waitress brought over the meat and side dishes they’d asked for, and left them to their rowdiness. Once they’d all stuffed themselves to the brim, Yoongi cleared his throat.

“I, uh, have something to tell you guys. I just heard back this morning, actually. It’s this Conservatory in Tokyo, they took me on for their summer program. Full ride, too.”

They all began shouting at once, so that no one’s congratulations were even audible. As they all calmed down, though, Seokjin leaned close to Yoongi. “Congratulations,” he said. “No one deserves it more than you.”

 

Afterwards, the two of them made their way back to the room. These walks on winter nights always made Seokjin feel honest, and the soju that warmed his stomach wasn’t any help. 

He kept thinking about what Namjoon had said. About whether Yoongi still liked him. And he wondered why Yoongi would’ve enlisted Namjoon to help keep his secret, even now.

“Yoongi,” he said.

Yoongi looked up from where he was watching his boots crunch through the snow. “Yeah?”

“Can I ask you something?”

“You know you can.”

Seokjin worried at a bit of dry skin on his lip. “Well. I know you don’t really want to talk about it. But Namjoon told me that after Halloween you asked him not to mention your old stage name to me? And I can’t help but wonder why you would be so worried, even then.”

“Seokjin,” Yoongi sighed.

“I’m sorry, I just wanted to ask. I mean - I guess I don’t consider it lying, but you were actively trying to hide it from me, and that’s a bit different from just never mentioning it.”

“It’s not lying, you’re right.” Seokjin didn’t like the serious set of Yoongi’s eyebrows as he spoke, and looked down at the sidewalk, chastened.  “I want you to try and imagine a nervous nineteen year old boy actually doing something about his crush. On another boy. Thinking he’d never see him again, until shit, there you were. I was just trying to protect that boy.”

“But I wasn’t going to be mad, or laugh at you or anything.”

“That’s not the point. God, Jin, you’re an amazing friend, but you’ll never know how it feels to like a boy who’s straight. And doesn’t even know who you fucking are.”

“I’m sorry,” said Seokjin. He could hear how small his voice sounded. “I- I’d never really met you before, but if I had...” He trailed off, unsure what he meant to say.

“The funny thing is, we had met, even before I gave you the gummy worms. Kind of - you wouldn’t have known it was me.”

Seokjin looked up now, meeting Yoongi’s eyes. “What? When?” 

“Come on. No sense in standing out in the cold, I’ll tell you inside.”

 

Their room was toasty, the radiator churning out hot air against Seokjin’s socked feet where he sat on the carpet. Yoongi settled across from him, propping his leg in its boot cast on a pillow. “You didn’t go to Silver Spoon much, did you?” he said. “To see Namjoon rap?”

Seokjin blinked. “Uh, no. To be honest, I hated the place. I hated that Namjoon went there.”

“Do you remember the night of the drug bust, though?”

“Oh.” Seokjin thought back.

 

It had been one humid and cricket filled night in August, the summer before Seokjin’s senior year. At 1 am, Namjoon called him. Seokjin picked up, worried, to hear Namjoon’s shaky voice through the speaker. 

Seokjin, fuck, the police came to Silver Spoon. Apparently some of the older guys had cocaine, can you please come get me? I’m in that sketchy bar across the street. I’ll wait by the bathrooms.”

His heart had sped up as Namjoon spoke. “ Shit, yes, I’ll be there in twenty. Stay safe, Joonie.”

 

He snuck through the quiet, shadowy apartment, took the elevator to the parking garage, and sped off. When he made it through the bar to the dingy corner where the restrooms were, though, Namjoon wasn’t there. He swallowed, trying not to freak out as he stepped into the bathroom. The first thing he saw inside was a pair of Air Jordans attached to a person who was crouched on the ground inside of a stall, from what it looked like. Their breathing was ragged, interrupted by pitiful hiccup-like crying.

Seokjin hesitated. “Namjoon?” he whispered, approaching slowly.

“Namjoon?” said the person - a young man, Seokjin guessed. “No. He was just here, though, said he’d be back in a minute.”

Fuck.” Seokjin braced his hands against the sink, debating whether to leave and go find Namjoon. Probably better to stay and wait. And then the boy in the bathroom stall’s shoes squeaked and Seokjin thought, oh. This boy wasn’t Namjoon, but he was crying, and Seokjin couldn’t just do nothing . “Hey,” he began, shuffling towards the stall. “Are you alright? You’re not hurt, or anything?” 

“I’m fine.” 

Seokjin crouched down, maybe intruding, but this boy with his rough, sad voice didn’t seem angered. “Your hand’s bleeding,” he pointed out.

“Ah. I fell down, earlier. Must have landed on something sharp.”

Seokjin’s mouth twisted in consternation. “Hey. I came to pick up a friend of mine. But I have a first aid kit in my car if you don’t mind waiting until I find him.”

Now the boy laughed, a wet sort of scoff. “I don’t mind. But you really don’t have to.”

“I know I don’t. I want to.” 

Namjoon barged in, then. “Fuck, Seokjin, there you are.” 

“Yes, I am. And where did you go? I thought you might’ve died or something.” He stood, taking Namjoon’s hand. “Come with me quickly, I need to get my first aid kit from the truck before we go.”

Namjoon glanced behind him, eyebrows furrowing. “Oh? Okay then.”

After, Seokjin had taken the boy’s hand under the goddamn bathroom stall, wiping it clean with alcohol before placing a bandage on the scrapes. Namjoon sat against the sink, eyes drooping shut. It was almost 2 am by then; Seokjin later swore it all felt like a dream. “Everything’s gonna be alright.” He remembered that this was what he had whispered to the boy before leaving.

 

Now, Seokjin met Yoongi’s eyes, and a sense of acknowledgement flickered between them both.

“That was me that you helped in the bar, that night.”

“I-” Seokjin began. He didn’t know what to say, really. “Yoongi. I can’t believe all the secrets you’ve been keeping.” Then he laughed, bringing his hand to cover his mouth. “That’s how you knew me? And all this time you were just bathroom stall boy and gummy worm boy in my mind.” He laughed again, and scooted across the carpet to lean his shoulder into Yoongi’s.

“Well, how would you propose somebody tell their friend that his long ago angelic behavior towards a stranger had them whipped as fuck?”

“I don’t know, that phrasing sounds good to me.” 

Yoongi rolled his eyes, but the both of them had small smiles on their faces now. Seokjin leaned his head against the soft cotton of Yoongi’s shirt. “Yoongi-yah,” he said after a minute. “What happened that night? Why were you in there? It just made me so sad, seeing anyone like that.”

Yoongi sighed. “I’ll tell you about it soon, I promise. It’s just… a story full of not good people. And then you. You were so kind.”

“I wasn’t, really,” Seokjin murmured. He saw Yoongi open his mouth to object. “Ah, stop there Min Yoongi. I have something to give you.” He stood, going over to his desk and pulling from the bottom drawer a slim package. “Happy 20th.”

“What is it?”

“Open it and find out, Yoongi-yah. That’s how presents work.”

Yoongi ripped open the paper with a playful scowl, revealing an unassuming clear CD case. 

On the disc was a song Seokjin had written one night over break when he was laying there and thinking about roses and secrets and every time Yoongi had comforted him that semester. 

 

Late nights together and breath fogging in the winter

I wish you’d tell me all your secrets

(I’d tell you mine) 

But my tongue doesn’t know how to speak them

 

Seokjin was bit hesitant to share the song. The lyrics were… vulnerable to say the least.

But he went for it. 

“So,” he began. “I’m not very good, I know, but this is a song I wrote for you over winter break. You kind of inspired me to try to get back into it, since you’re so amazing at music…” He trailed off as he watched Yoongi’s smile grow until it was gummy and bright.

“That’s awesome, Seokjin-ah. Really, thank you. I’ll go listen to it now.” He moved to stand.

“Noo,” Seokjin whined. “Wait until I’m asleep. That’s like reading someone’s card in front of them.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll wait. I’m sure it’s great, though.”

“I don’t know. But I hope you like it.”

 

Seokjin went to sleep that night feeling the most content he’d felt in weeks. He and Yoongi were fine now, but more than that he felt like he understood Yoongi a little better. He wondered, though, about many things. And that night he dreamed of scraped palms cradled in his own.

 

 

Spring break came upon them soon after that, some blessed relief from impossible computer science quizzes. Seokjin hated Python with every fiber of his being.

It was when he was packing his overnight bag the day before break began that Seokjung called him.

“Hyung!” he said. “What’s up? This is a rare occasion.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry about that. But how are you, Jinnie? Enjoying school?”

“I am. Spring break starts tomorrow, you know. It’s good cause I’ve been so busy I haven’t even played any games for a while.”

Seokjung laughed. “Maybe that’s a good thing, though." There was a pause, but Seokjin knew somehow that his brother wasn't done speaking. "So listen. I don’t really know how to say this, but I just talked to Mom the other day, and, uh, they’re getting a divorce. Mom and Dad,” he added, as if this weren’t clear. “I wanted to tell you in advance… I don’t want it to be awkward when you go back home.”

Seokjin felt his stomach drop for a second. He and Seokjung had always said they were waiting for the day when this happened, but. Just because something wasn’t a surprise it doesn’t mean it felt good. “Oh,” he said. “Wow, that’s gonna be so fucking awkward. Shit, is Dad moving out?”

“I think so. He’s been staying at a hotel near his office for a while now. But Mom said they were gonna take you out to dinner to tell you the news, and I didn’t want that to happen. So, yeah. I’m sorry, Jin. I know it’s no fun at all.”

“Yeah,” Seokjin sighed. “Well, I don’t know. I guess I could tell them I’m staying on campus for break to like, apply for internships or something? I’m sure they don’t want to have that dinner any more than I do.”

“Definitely not.”

He and Seokjung talked for a while more, trying to avoid the topic as much as possible. But Seokjin couldn’t help thinking about it. “You know what’s worst, maybe? Neither of us want to see Dad, but now he’s not just gonna be there in the same house. So we have to somehow avoid it if he ever asks us to see him.”

“God,” Seokjung said. “Don’t know how that’s gonna work. Maybe I’ll just ask the military to keep me longer.”

“And I’ll move to Australia.”

They moved on again, but when Seokjung hung up, Seokjin just sat there and stared at the wall, lost in thought. After some time, the door opened and Yoongi stepped in, humming some SNSD song.

He stopped when he saw Seokjin’s dead-eyed look.

“Seokjin-ah? Everything alright?”

“Huh? Oh, hey Yoongi. Uh, well. Kind of. Hyung just called to tell me our parents are getting a divorce.” He scratched his head. “Kinda ruins my plans for a not tension filled spring break.”

Yoongi came towards the bed, frowning. “I’m sorry, Seokjin. That must be difficult.”

“Yeah. I mean it’s not really a surprise, but still.”

“I get it. You know, my parents are split up as well. Since I was twelve.”

“Really?” Seokjin asked. 

Yoongi nodded. “It’s fucked up. Like, I’m still working on not being salty when people talk about how much their parents love each other.”

Seokjin winced. “Yeah, it just doesn’t seem realistic, does it?”

They sat in commiserating silence for a few minutes before Yoongi spoke up again. “Hey, I know it’s last minute but I’m going back to Daegu for break, if you wanted to join? There’s really not much to do there -”

“Yes!” Seokjin interrupted. “Sorry but please, if you really don’t mind. I need to escape.”

“Of course. I’ll show you my town, then.”

 

 

Yoongi had grown up in Daegu, only moving to Seoul for high school, after which his mother promptly moved them back. Something about hating Seoul’s hustle and bustle.

The next morning, Seokjin had a painful call with his own mother in which he told her his plans for the break and also that he knew about the divorce. I’m sorry to cause you so much trouble, Jin-ah , she’d said sadly. And that hurt the most, because, really, he didn’t blame his mom at all for needing this.

On the bus ride, Seokjin slept on Yoongi’s shoulder and fiddled with his DS, and the three hours passed quickly enough. 

“Wow,” said Seokjin as they stepped off.  “So this is the city you’re always rapping about?”

 “This is the one. Come on, my brother’s picking us up.”

Seokjin took Yoongi’s duffel bag from him amid protests, and strode towards a red sedan with Yoongi’s brother standing in front. “Hyung,” said Yoongi, letting his brother give him a bear hug with an embarrassed grin on his face. “Thanks for getting us. This is my roommate, Kim Seokjin. Seokjin, this is Geumjae, my hyung.”

Seokjin gave a quick bow at the shoulders. “Thank you for having me.” When he straightened, he studied Geumjae’s face; the Mins truly looked like brothers, with the same sort of smile he could only describe as fae-like.

Now, Geumjae threw an arm around Seokjin’s shoulders. “Don’t even mention it, Seokjin-ah. Yoongi talks about you a lot, you know.”

Seokjin smiled. “Oh, really? That’s nice, Yoongi-chi.”

Yoongi just scoffed, mumbling something before darting into the passenger seat. But Seokjin could see the pink of his cheeks.

 

They had to drive for twenty minutes to get to Yoongi’s place, then take the elevator up six flights. Inside, Yoongi’s mom greeted Seokjin with a hug, exclaiming, “Oh, you’re as sweet as Yoongi says you are.”

Seokjin laughed. “I’m glad to know Yoongi sings my praises. It’s lovely to meet you, eomeonim.”

 

Afterwards, a tomato red Yoongi showed him to his childhood bedroom.

“So, uh, yeah, You can have Geumjae’s room when he leaves on Monday, but this is me. We can set you up a palette later, if you like. Or we can share.”

“Whatever you want.” Seokjin, who had been holding RJ in his arms for a while now, put him gently down against Yoongi’s pillows. “So, what do you want to do first?”

“We could go to the park, if you want? It’s pretty nice out.”

“Sounds good to me.”

So they rode to the park with Seokjin on the back of Yoongi’s bike, and Seokjin laughed at how much this felt like a teen movie. The cherry blossoms were in bloom, too, and Yoongi showed him a pond full of gorgeous fat koi of all different colors.

 

That night, they ate with Yoongi’s family before reentering their usual recluse state. Seokjin could hear Yoongi’s mom speaking to him outside the bedroom door, though.

“Yoongi-yah,” she said. “I don’t have to institute the no closed doors rule, do I?”

“What? No, mom -” he cut himself off and groaned. “It’s not like that.”

“Okay, I believe you, hon. Just have to check.”

Yoongi slipped back into the room, then, scowling. It melted off his face when he saw that Seokjin was holding in laughter. “You heard that?” He laughed, too. “I am in college, I don’t think she realizes.”

“Of course not,” said Seokjin. “Good luck with ever getting her to realize.”

“Hyung told me his rule was that they couldn’t even be on a bed together.”

“Oh?” Seokjin said. He plopped down on the bed. “Better not sit next to me, that’d be too scandalous.”

Yoongi did a little thing with his brows that Seokjin hadn’t seen him do before. It was oddly enchanting. “I’m a rule breaker,” he said, sitting down next to Seokjin and settling against a Kumamon plushie.

“So, wanna watch a movie?” Seokjin asked. “Binge watching dramas and gaming was my original plan for spring break.”

“You know I’m always down,” said Yoongi. “Choose whatever you want, as usual.”

“Hm. How about Oldboy ?”

Yoongi raised a skeptical brow at him.

“What? If I’m ever gonna get in with the film kids, I’ve got to start somewhere.”

“Alright, if you insist.”

An hour later and Seokjin had his face buried in Yoongi’s shoulder, holding his hand in a death grip. He peered at the screen with wide eyes for a second, then as Daesu held the scissors up to his tongue, he squeezed them shut again. 

“Oh god,” he said. “I can’t watch.”

Yoongi chuckled. “It’s okay, you don’t have to.” He adjusted his hand in Seokjin’s, stroking his thumb reassuringly over the meat of his palm. Despite the scene playing in the background, Seokjin smiled to himself, resting his forehead again on the soft cotton of Yoongi’s shirt.

When the credits finally rolled, he yawned, tilting his face up towards Yoongi’s. “That was a good movie.”

“It was,” Yoongi agreed. “By the end of the week, you’ll be able to hold your own with those film snobs.”

“I don’t want to be a snob, though.”

“Good,” Yoongi huffed a laugh. “I don’t think you could ever be. It’s just not in your blood.”

Seokjin closed his eyes, humming. “Thanks, Yoongi-yah.”

They were silent for a few minutes, Seokjin laying there and Yoongi typing away at his laptop. Seokjin could hear when his keystrokes slowed down. “Hey,” Yoongi said.

“Yeah?”

“This is a weird segue, I know, but. I wanted to thank you again for the song. I really liked it. Uh, and you can tell me anything you need to, by the way.” 

Seokjin flushed. He’d felt a bit embarrassed by the lyrics, but then, Yoongi had shown him songs that were equally vulnerable. “Thanks,” he said. “I know I can.”

Yoongi nodded. “Oh, and, I was wondering if I wrote a song for you to sing whether you’d like to?”

Now Seokjin sat up. “Are you kidding? Of course I would! I’m always ready to sing for virtuoso Min Yoongi.”

Yoongi never knew what to do with praise. Now he tapped his fingers on the laptop, an unwitting smile revealing cute white teeth. “Alright, good to know.”

 

 

For the rest of the week, the two of them wandered the city during the day and watched movies together at night. Yoongi flat out refused to watch the Matrix again, but other than that it was easy to choose. 

There was one thing, though, that Seokjin hadn’t been able to stop thinking about since Yoongi’s birthday dinner. So that Friday night when they were sprawled out on Yoongi’s bed with the end credits to Thirst playing, Seokjin’s hand in Yoongi’s again, the question burst out of him. 

“Yoongi,” he said, turning his head on the pillow to look up at his friend. A sense of déjà vu hit him then - how many times had he turned to his friend just like this, name on his lips?

“Yeah?”

“Oh. Um, well. On your birthday, you mentioned that you’d tell me one day about what happened that night at the bar?”

“Ah,” said Yoongi. “Yeah, I did.”

Seokjin waited patiently as Yoongi moved his laptop to the bedside table, and then it was mostly dark in the room. He slid down on the pillow, placing his hands beneath his cheek.

“I have to tell you about my boyfriend, first,” Yoongi said after a minute. “We’d been dating since May of my junior year, I wanna say. He was always a tool, you know, but I was pretty good at ignoring that. So, uh, that night in August I show up at Silver Spoon, and he’s in a booth with his friends. They were all older, deadbeat sorts who weren’t even rappers, just misogynists.” He scoffed.

“But this time, I see Sanghyun - my boyfriend - doing a line of coke off the table. So obviously I freaked out, and I pulled him into the alley to be like ‘what the fuck?’. I mean, he’s a highschooler doing this with a bunch of 27 year olds, and I also didn’t want him to go to fucking jail . But he brushed me off, and then somehow the argument led to him telling me my dream of doing music was ‘never going to fucking happen’, and that I was severely deluded and stuck up. At which point one of the guys walks out and tells us that the cops are coming, then sneers something at me. I curse him out, he pushes my shoulder, I fall down, etc. You know what happens from there.”

Seokjin stared at him, stomach all twisted up with distress. “Holy shit, Yoongi. That’s- that’s insane. I can’t believe… fuck, I could’ve taken you home or something! I feel terrible.”

“Seokjin, no. That’s not the point - you helped me more than anyone else. And I was still locked in a bathroom stall, so it’s not like you were gonna bust it down.” He laughed wryly. 

“But Namjoon knew you,” Seokjin protested. “Did he make sure you were really alright? How’d you get home?”

“Seokjin,” Yoongi said again, meeting his eyes. “Namjoon asked me if I was alright before you came, and I told him not to worry about it. He had no reason to push, since we weren’t close, and he always saw me around Sanghyun, who was trash, like I said. And I took the bus home, you know, I wasn’t in complete disarray.”

“I probably would’ve been, if my boyfriend said those awful things to me.”

“Oh, I was a mess, don’t worry. You saw as much. But I’m pretty tough, too.”

“I know you are.” Seokjin smiled softly up at him. He could feel his eyelids getting heavy, now. “Anyways, you’re gonna be the most successful pianist-songwriter-producer of the century,” he murmured. “I know that, too.”

And then he fell asleep. When he woke up, he was in Yoongi’s bed, and there was a Yoongi shaped lump under the covers next to him. The bed smelled like Yoongi, too, which was to say pine and sandalwood and whatever detergent he used. Seokjin pressed his nose into the pillow for a second before reaching his arms up to stretch, sighing softly as he did. 

When he opened his eyes, Yoongi was blinking up at him from his pillow. “Oh, morning, Yoongi-yah. Sorry I hogged some of your bed space.”

“That’s okay,” said Yoongi. His voice was lower than usual. “I didn’t want to wake you last night.”

“Mm,” Seokjin hummed. “I was very comfy, not at all inclined to move. Oh, by the way, I wanted to give you a hug.”

Yoongi’s eyes widened. “What? Why?” 

“I just feel like you deserve one.” He rolled forward in the bed, giving Yoongi time to object before he attempted to hug him. It was actually pretty hard to do when both parties were laying down. He felt Yoongi’s hand come tentatively to his back, though, moving over the fabric. Yoongi had nice, big hands, Seokjin always thought so.

After a minute or two, Seokjin pulled back, smiling at his friend. “Let’s go eat some breakfast.” When Yoongi trailed after him, still in some sort of daze, it only made Seokjin smile wider.

 

 

On the first Monday after break, Seokjin was lounging in the sun on the quad when he got a text from Miyoung. His heart palpitated for a second; despite her insistence that they be friends, they were only ever acquaintances to begin with before the awkwardness of all that.

Hey Seokjin-ah, the text read. I know this is out of the blue, but my friend Chaerin heard about a summer internship slash acting workshop in Seoul. Should I send you the application? I could really see it being good for you.

Sure, he answered. That sounds interesting!

He was originally just saying that to be polite, but when she sent him the link afterwards, he ended up spending an hour looking into it. There would be directors and screenwriters coming to speak and various independent projects for the students, as well as the chance to work on a real set. The more Seokjin read, the more he was certain that this was what he needed to do.

 

So he wrote up his application over the next week, sent it in one hour before the deadline, and waited. He told his parents he’d gotten a research assistant position at school for the summer so they’d stop bugging him, but then his acceptance email came.

He called his mom a minute later. “Mom! You’ll never believe what just happened?”

“Hello, Seokjin-ah,” she said. “Please share what’s got you all excited.”

“I got this really prestigious internship for the summer. There’s classes at Yonsei and real world job experience, too.”

“Really?” She sounded happy. “That’s amazing. Is it for Computer Science?”

“Um, not exactly. It’s about acting. But it would be such a great opportunity.”

“Oh,” she said. The line was silent for a minute. “Are you sure, Seokjin? You could be getting good experience for jobs this summer.”

“Mom, please. It’s only my first summer, there’s plenty of time for other stuff later. I didn’t even tell you the best part - there’s a scholarship, so I wouldn’t even have to pay.”

“That is good,” she admitted. “I’ll have to think about it.”

“Uh, well.” This was the hard part. “I kind of already accepted it. I’ve been thinking, and I believe it’s important to do something I’m passionate about.” He lowered his voice. “You know, not like dad.”

She sighed. “Okay, okay. If you already accepted it, then there’s nothing I can say. I’m glad you’re happy with it, honey. And I’ll tell your dad for you.”

“Thanks, mom,” he said. “You’re the best. Love you.”

He hung up and exhaled, glad to have been honest, finally, and to have insisted on the basic idea of doing what made him happy. He wasn’t lying when he said that he never wanted to end up a successful but unhappy and unfulfilled and businessman like his father. 

He thought about the internship again and smiled. This felt like a victory. 

 

 

Finals came upon them fast after that, and then Seokjin was taking down posters and packing up clothes - all to be moved to another apartment somewhere in Seoul. He’d sublet from a student at Yonsei, and was sharing with Miyoung’s friend Chaerin. Yoongi, meanwhile, had a flight to Tokyo only a fews days from then. 

“I’ll miss you,” Seokjin told him, teasing. “You don’t have to say it back.”

“I’m gonna miss you, too, you dweeb,” mumbled Yoongi. “I'll see you in September.”

Chapter Text

chapter four: summer-fall 2012

 

"it's a summer day, and i want to be wanted more than anything else in the world"

frank o'hara, 'homosexuality'

 

Summer in Seoul was hot and busy. Seokjin had no time to relax, spending every day in classes or doing random shit on set. Oftentimes it was apparent that their only purpose was to stand around and absorb knowledge, that they were pretty much in the way. Despite that part, though, Seokjin felt fulfilled. He was so glad not to be back home and to be doing what he actually wanted that he didn’t care about much else.

The other best part of it all was Chaerin. She was absolutely wild, one of the most vivacious and sharp people Seokjin had ever met. Living with her was markedly different from living with Yoongi, though they were both geniuses in their own right. 

For one, she was constantly roasting Seokjin, and it took him awhile to realize she did it out of fondness. Sometime in June she confronted him in the goddamn bathroom asking why he was so scared of her, and from then on they were friends. Chaerin was the kind of film person that you wanted to talk to - incredibly knowledgeable, but never a snob. She showed him all the arthouse films he’d never heard of. 

 

One night, a rare night they had off, they watched some deep, reflective indie film that gave Seokjin an existential crisis. Chaerin had made a huge bowl of Sangria that left the two of them sitting on the couch and staring dizzily up at the ceiling. “Sometimes I think I don’t know myself at all,” said Seokjin. “Like - some people are always thinking about who they are, but I never do… is that bad?”

Chaerin hummed in acknowledgment. “I think people are so much more complex than they give themselves credit for. They just want to come up with all these easy, digestible descriptors for themselves so they don’t really have to dig deep, you know? And I’m not talking about gender and sexuality - I’m lesbian, and I’m always gonna shout that out. But other things… it’s impossible to map the soul. So it’s fine if you struggle with that.”

“I think it’s more than that, though,” he said. “I feel like I’m tumbling through life blind. How do I get myself to look?”

Now Chaerin touched his forearm, making him look down and meet her eyes. “Seokjin,” she said. “I love you a lot, okay?” Seokjin blinked in shock. “I know it’s only been a month or whatever, but I think you have the greatest heart of anyone. So, I guess I’m gonna contradict what I just said and ask you to take a moment, whenever you’re ready, to just stop and think about what you want. That might help you feel less like you’re losing time.”

Seokjin nodded, though that seemed a difficult task. “I’ll try,” he said. “And… I love you, too.”

She grinned at him before turning her eyes back to the ceiling. “God, what did I put in that sangria?”

 

 

A couple weeks later, Seokjin was laying in bed one day as he attempted to think about things. He had decided it was very hard, and he had just managed to scrape past the surface level.

Another thing Chaerin was always talking about was self-love, and specifically ‘alone time’, as she called it. 

It always made Seokjin blush furiously, at which point she would laugh at him. And now he was laying here, alone, and one of the things he was having a purposeful think about was how little he ever fantasized about sexual things. Yeah, he masturbated from time to time, but it was more like a chore. He was so bad with the idea of sexual intimacy, and this felt like part of that, so now he was going to let himself imagine.

He closed his eyes and thought of a touch. A kind of innocent one, though in his mind’s eye he was shirtless. A hand ran over the delicate bones in his shoulders and down his arms. It splayed over his stomach. He followed the same path with his own, real hand, before wrapping that hand around himself. There was some lube on the duvet next to him, which he’d bought specifically for the occasion, feeling kind of silly at the 7-Eleven self-checkout. 

The shadowy figure in his mind kissed him, then, and touched his legs and back and every part of him. Seokjin stroked himself a little faster. He squirted some of the lube in his hand, and right as he was nearing orgasm, lip drawn between his teeth, he slipped a finger back to rub over his rim, tentative. He groaned lowly, doing it again, not sure if he was doing it right, and then he was coming. 

He wiped the lube and come off his hand with a wrinkled nose, then turned over and buried his face in the bed spread. All this session had accomplished was to remind him how much he wanted to be touched by anyone. But he supposed an insurmountable feeling of yearning was better than stuffiness he’d suffered from before. Maybe. 

 

 

Summer flew by after that, and one day Seokjin found himself packing up and getting his last coffee from his favorite cafe down the street. Chaerin gave him a big bear hug before she left.

“If you try and ghost me during the semester, I will literally come through your screen like the Grudge.”

“I don’t have a television, though.”

She scowled at him. “Kim Seokjin, you better text me, or else.”

“I will,” he said, laughing. “I promise.”

 

He took the bus back to SNU campus later that day, feeling oddly triumphant in his return. Sophomore year, Seokjin thought, was much better as a concept. He knew what he was doing, for one. And he could look back on how much he’d changed - after the summer he’d had, Seokjin felt almost like someone else. He was going to keep thinking, like Chaerin told him to. 

 

Yoongi had texted to say he was already in the room, and Seokjin replied with a string of excited emoticons. He collected his key before making his way to the dorm - when he pushed open the door, Yoongi was standing at the bed, hair back to black, taking socks out of his suitcase.

“Yoongi-yah.” He broke out into a smile, coming forward to wrap his friend in a tight hug. When they pulled apart, Seokjin looked around. “Look how big our room is!”

“It’s really not,” said Yoongi. Seokjin had missed his voice, his way of muttering.

“I’ll take what I can get. How are you, though?”

“I’m not bad. It feels like it’s been forever since I saw you.”

“And you discovered over these long three months that you can’t live without me?”

“Well, you’re probably better than the smelly flutist I had to share with at the conservatory.”

Probably?” 

Yoongi laughed, then. Seokjin had missed that sound even more. 

 

It really did feel like it’d been forever, and he could feel Yoongi appraising him even as they slipped into familiar patterns. Things were not the same as they’d always been.

 

This became quite clear one Friday two weeks into the semester, after a Chuseok dinner evaded with the excuse of a stomach flu. Seokjin found himself sitting on a kitchen counter with Jimin’s hands on his face.

“Sit still,” Jimin scolded him. “Or I’m gonna poke you in the eye.”

“On purpose?”

“Who’s to say?”

“I’m still,” Seokjin mumbled. “What are you doing, anyways?”

“A subtle smokey eye. We want you to look fabulous.”

“Alright then.”

Taehyung was directing the play this year, an adapted screenplay of Queen Seondeok that Seokjin was inordinately excited for. They were celebrating the end of auditions with a special outing to one of Itaewon’s famous gay bars, Trunk. 

The man in question stepped out of the bedroom, then, in a long red silk coat and huge red gems on either ear. Jimin glanced over at him.

“Taehyung, honey, I told you not to wear that, coat check is 3000 won.”

“And? I can afford that.”

“But you don’t need to. It’s eighteen degrees outside.”

Seokjin had to lean back to avoid Jimin’s wildly gesticulating hand while this went down. Nothing unusual in the Taehyung-Jimin apartment. Taehyung didn’t take the coat off, and Jimin huffed, returning to Seokjin’s eye to finish up.

After, Jimin fled to his closet to find an outfit for Seokjin, and came out a minute later with a black button that was sheer in certain lighting.

Seokjin stared at it. “Isn’t that a bit scandalous?”

“Not in the least,” Jimin laughed. “Wait until we get there. You’ll see.”

 

Seokjin did see. As soon as they stepped in, they were confronted with flashing lights and a writhing crowd in various levels of undress. It was only then that he felt apprehension stir in his gut and tugged on Taehyung’s sleeve, leaning close to his ear to be heard.

“Are you sure it’s okay for me to be here?” he asked.

Taehyung pulled back to meet his eyes with his usual heavy gaze. “Of course it is. You’re with me and Jimin, and we know you’d never do anything disrespectful.” Seokjin shook his head vigorously in response. “Now come on, let’s dance and have fun.”

Dance and have fun they did, with several of Jimin’s questionable mixed drinks stirring in their veins alongside a plate of shots from a group of men in leather.

Yoongi showed up a half hour later, having come from a piano lesson, hair disheveled probably from running his fingers through it in frustration. He joined them with a nod, then started dancing. He was good.

Seokjin watched him. He couldn’t stop watching him these past two weeks, either, and could only blame the summer they’d spent apart for making him notice the glint in Yoongi’s eyes or the sun-kissed quality of his skin. 

Seokjin danced, too, keeping his eyes fixed somewhere safe and tilting his head back as he lost himself in the beat. They all drank more. At some point in the night, Taehyung and Jimin drifted a few feet away to dance with one another; they were probably making out, and Seokjin had no plans to interrupt that. He checked his phone to see that it was past 1, now, and despite his drunken energy, he yawned. 

That was when someone sidled in front of him; he startled, looking up from his phone to see a beautiful man standing there - he smiled just like the handsome male lead in a college drama. 

“Hey,” said the man. “I was wondering if you wanted to dance?”

Seokjin blinked; he was drunk, but still lucid. Just maybe less prone to his normal social paralysis. “Sure,” he agreed. The song playing was a good one, but for a split second he completely forgot how to move his limbs now that someone was watching with interest. Seokjin felt his ears turn red at just how obvious that interest was. 

They were dancing close enough that he could feel the heat of another body, and then there was a hand on his hip, careful, clearly asking permission. Seokjin leaned into it.

His throat was dry, his breaths coming out shallow; he could barely explain what he was feeling right now. He liked this, he was trying his best not to think so much about it, but they were dancing and there was a hand and fuck . He lasted five minutes, during which he avoided eye contact at all costs and tried not to let the slide of fingers over his waist undo him.

“Seokjin,” said a voice by his ear. Yoongi. 

Seokjin pulled back, lips falling apart. Thank god for Yoongi at this moment - Seokjin had no idea what he was doing, where he was going with this. “Yoongi,” he exclaimed. He watched Yoongi’s eyes flick towards male lead skeptically, then back to him.

“Uh, I’m leaving in like, fifteen minutes - Taehyung and Jimin are kind of going at it, but. You can try and go back later with them if you want? I think you shouldn’t be alone, though.”

“Oh,” Seokjin said. “No, yeah, I’ll come now.”

He turned to his dance partner and smiled, a smile that probably showed how out of his depth he was. “I’ve gotta go,” he said. The man nodded with a polite smile of his own, running a hand over Seokjin’s bicep once more before disappearing into the crowd.

“Christ,” said Yoongi, eyeing Seokjin’s arm. “He was a little handsy. I’m sorry, this is my fault for leaving you alone.”

“It’s fine,” Seokjin murmured. “I would’ve come to find you in a minute. I mean, it was nice but… people want things from you, you know. More than dancing, more than kissing, even.” He knew he only sounded so ridiculous because he was tipsy. 

Yoongi’s gaze was heavy on him. “Uh, yeah, you’re right. So it’s good - to stay together.” He stuttered a bit as Seokjin moved towards him, then, something in him needing to be close to someone again (and he much preferred it to be Yoongi). He brought his arms around Yoongi’s neck, tilting his head so his nose rested against his own shoulder, and sighed. 

“Let’s dance for a bit, then,” he said.

They didn’t really dance, though, and Seokjin could hardly breathe. His heart was beating too fast; all he could feel was where Yoongi’s knees brushed against his own, where his hands landed tentatively on Seokjin’s waist. 

A moment of clarity exploded within him, that he wanted to be held like this by a man. He felt like someone had turned him inside out. 

Yoongi didn’t keep him close for long, and when he pulled back, he was toying with a piece of skin on his lip, like always. His dark eyes were lit up pink by the disco lights.  “Come on, Jin-ah,” he said. “Let’s get you back home.”

 

Seokjin held it together on the subway ride back to campus, but he could feel his epiphany resting heavy inside him, insistent, so utterly different in feeling from the nothingness of repression. Back home, too aware of Yoongi in the bed across from him, he got under the covers quietly after washing his face and brushing his teeth. Under them, he felt safe. Safe to think.

Safe to imagine in the darkness of their room his lips against another man’s. 

His mind shuffled through faces. The man in the club, hands tight on his hips. He watched the two of them draw nearer and felt a tightness in his chest at how much he wanted that. Then his mind switched, and it was him and Yoongi on this bed as they’d been so many times, just about to kiss. Seokjin squeezed his eyes shut, turning his face into the pillow as he forced his mind to return to a faceless man.

He had just begun to allow himself to want, and it wouldn’t do to allow too much. With that, he fell asleep.

 

But of course his mind betrayed him, providing him instead with a dream that was no more than PG-13, but still left him untethered. In it, there was a man - in the beginning, it was Yoongi, but he got blurrier, more vague. The dream world was like this. The two of them were on the bed again, and it started off innocent, but then Yoongi was taking Seokjin’s shirt off, and then his own, and their chests were pressed together. They kissed, hotly, passionately. Dream Seokjin rutted against a thigh as a feeling of arousal swept through him like a wave, and then Seokjin was blinking awake.

He wasn’t quite hard, but he was definitely on edge. He exhaled, checking the time on the alarm and preparing himself for a day of weirdness.

At breakfast, Yoongi looked up from his plate of eggs to stare at Seokjin for a minute with narrowed eyes. “You good?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m fine. Just a weird night last night, you know.”

“It was, yeah. But you’re sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Seokjin insisted. “I’m fine.” Other than the fact that I fantasized about making out with you, we’re all set.

 

 

For the next week and a half, he pretty much just wandered around in a daze. He didn’t know what to do now. Try saying ‘I am bisexual’ aloud? Do more thinking? He was doing plenty of that, whether he wanted to or not.

One night, though, he was alone again,, and he figured maybe it would be good to explore desire again. He could basically hear Chaerin when he thought those words, but she had turned out to be more right than she probably knew, so. He sent her a meme quickly, just so she wouldn’t come through his screen like she’d threatened.

Then he opened his laptop slowly, looking at it as if it were a foreign object. There was this site he knew about, not that he ever really went on there since porn had always weirded him out. Now, though, he tentatively clicked on the gay category. He scanned the thumbnails, stopping at one that said something about a first time. He swallowed heavily - this was nice, this was good. He wanted to imagine these sorts of things. He wasn’t freaking out at all. 

Just as he was about to click on the video, the door opened, and Yoongi stepped inside. Seokjin slammed his laptop shut. 

“Uh,” said Yoongi. “What’re you up to there?”

Seokjin flushed. “Nothing. Um, I thought you had a lesson right now?”

“Cancelled, thank God. I hate the piece we’re going through right now.”

“Ah,” said Seokjin sympathetically. He pulled the duvet up to his neck. Alone time would have to wait, it seemed.

 

 

Another week passed, and now Seokjin was legitimately going crazy. He had to talk about this to someone. He texted Namjoon to ask if he was alone in his room at the moment, and then made his way to the floor above his, where Namjoon and Hoseok lived.

“So what’s up?” Namjoon asked, letting Seokjin in to go lay face down on Namjoon’s bed. 

“Who says anything is ‘up’?” Though his face was currently smushed in a blanket, Seokjin could practically hear Namjoon roll his eyes. 

“Well for one thing you’re currently planking on my bed.” The bed dipped as Namjoon and sat by him. “Just let me know whenever you’re ready.”

“Alright,” said Seokjin. He distracted Namjoon for a while asking him about his Environmental Ethics course, but then the conversation turned back to love. That was dangerous territory. 

“Hoseok and I texted a lot over the summer, and I know I keep saying it, but this time… I think I’m gonna ask him out soon.”

“Really?” Seokjin grinned. “I’m happy for you. You’ve liked him for so long.”

“Pining is my natural state, Seokjin.”

“Mm.” Well Seokjin certainly understood that now, thanks to his cursed mind and its stupid erotic roommate dreams. 

“You good?” Namjoon asked. “You look a bit constipated.”

“Ah. It’s just… I don’t want to interrupt your story, or anything.”

“Please do.”

“Okay, fine. So you know how Taehyung took me to that gay club a few weeks ago?” Namjoon nodded. “Well, while we were there, this guy was dancing with me. And. I kind of liked it, I guess? Anyways, I’m pretty sure I’m bi? No, I mean, I am bi. So I wanted to tell you. Cause it’s kind of a lot to think about on my own.” When he finished his rant, he looked up at his best friend to see the softest expression in his eyes.

“Jin-ah,” he said. “This might be weird to say, but I’m really proud of you.”

Seokjin flushed. “Thanks,” he mumbled.

“But really, I am. Is there anything you wanted to ask? We can always talk about it.”

“I know, I know. That’s why I came to you. But, uh, you would say that fantasizing about kissing a guy would make me bi, right?”

Now, Namjoon laughed, though it was kind. “Yeah, I’d say that’s a strong indicator.”

“Okay, just checking. I’ll think of some more questions later.” And with that, they settled into the pillows to watch One Piece , Seokjin thinking about how far the two of them had come together.

 

 

At the next play rehearsal, Seokjin couldn’t help but stare over at Yoongi whenever he was backstage, wondering if he had a crush. It was weird not to know. I mean, he’d had that dream and everything? And though the stranger’s touch had sparked something in him, it had been Yoongi he turned to next. Who he’d really wanted to kiss.

But that was just a hypothetical kiss, he figured, and so he just kept staring. Trying to determine where to compartmentalize these feelings. At one point, Yoongi was getting out some sheet music and caught Seokjin’s eye, raising a brow. Seokjin stuck his tongue out in response, but when he looked away he could feel that his ears had flamed up. 

After rehearsal ended, Yoongi asked him. “Is something wrong? You kept staring at me.”

Seokjin spluttered something unintelligible. “Uh, no. Can’t I just look at my friend?”

“I mean, yeah,” said Yoongi, smiling incredulously.

Seokjin cursed himself for being so obvious.

 

“Whaddya think about the play so far?” Yoongi asked, after, over a plate full of chicken. “Feeling good?”

“I think so, yeah. Tae-hyung’s directing is really good.”

“So’s your acting. You were great before, obviously, but I think that Yonsei course gave you a boost in confidence. It’s noticeable.”

Seokjin ducked his head, pleased. “Thanks for saying that.”

“I mean it. You know I only say things I mean.”

“Hmm. So you think I could be an actor? A real one?”

“You already are a real one. But I think you’ll be in much-beloved dramas and critically acclaimed films. And quite possibly become the nation’s son-in-law.” At Seokjin’s embarrassed hiding, he pressed on. “It’s true. One day I’m gonna be in line at the grocery store listening to the aunties gush about the dreamy Kim Seokjin, and I’ll be like, ‘he was my roommate, you know’.”

Yoongi,”  Seokjin whined. “You’re the one who’s gonna be famous.”

“We both can be. That’s the dream isn’t it?”

“Mm. And to have penthouses next door to each other.”

“Sure,” Yoongi smiled. “If that’s what you want.”

 

Later that night, Seokjin thought about Yoongi’s earnest statements as he pondered his laptop screen. He’d pulled up the minor declaration form, and was only one click away. A minor in film, he figured, might be good for him. He’d be able to do something he liked, and maybe try acting for real. See if it was possible. This past month, he’d been trying to be brave. He came out to himself, and to Namjoon. What was this in comparison? Inhaling deeply, he hit send. And that was that.

 

 

When it was nearing the end of October, Jeongguk texted Seokjin and asked if he and Namjoon were free to meet up that weekend. They ended up going for noodles, first, at a warm and cozy family owned joint that was just like the one they frequented in high school. 

“I’m settling in, I think,” said Jeongguk. “My classes are amazing. It just feels right to be doing creative things, you know?”

“I get it,” agreed Seokjin. “Doing what you want to do is the most freeing thing.”

 

Back in Seokjin’s room, the three of them squeezed onto his bed to keep talking, about anything and everything. It had been more than a month now since Seokjin’s epiphany, and he felt much more comfortable talking about it. Namjoon put an arm around him as Seokjin recounted to Jeongguk the whole tale of that night in Itaewon. 

“I wanted to thank you guys,” he said. “You were always better than me at knowing, if that makes any sense. I feel like I took so long…”

“There’s no such thing as too long,” said Namjoon. 

Jeongguk nodded. “Yeah, heteronormativity is extremely insidious.”

“I know, I know. It really had me seeing everything as platonic. It’s like … for as long as I can remember I’ve had these close friendships with guys that I really valued and cared about, you know? And I wanted to be physically close to them.” He blinked. “I didn’t have any girl friends, though, so what I knew was attraction was always categorized separately?

I guess I never let myself think that the intimacy I pictured with women I craved with men, too, because I just satisfied myself with the platonic touch I was allowed. Like, I was always touching you guys.” He laughed, shaking his head.

Namjoon smiled. “It was pretty much the same for me. Then you and your constant touching actually sent me into crisis mode.”

Seokjin gaped at Namjoon, while Jeongguk cackled. “Seriously?”

“Oh come on, hyung,” Jeongguk said. “Wasn’t Namjoon-hyung incredibly obvious?”

Seokjin covered his face with his hands, and Jeongguk tugged on his reddening ear.

 

“So you’ve still never done anything with a guy before?” Jeongguk asked Seokjin later. 

“It’s only been a month,” Seokjin whined. “What am I supposed to do, just find a random man and request he make out with me?”

“Well, I mean… you could do that,” said Namjoon. “Just saying, Seokjin.”

Seokkjin just glared at him, and an hour later sent the two of them off, giving Jeongguk a big hug and telling him he’d visit soon.

The conversation was good. It made him feel comfortable and warm inside, to talk about it all. 

 

But despite the ridiculousness of Jeongguk and Namjoon’s suggestion, Seokjin couldn't seem to get it out of his mind. He really, really wanted to kiss a boy.

 

 

Taehyung’s Halloween party was a notorious thing amongst the drama club, and probably even the whole College of Art. Anyone invited was expected to go all out on their costume.

Now, Seokjin found himself sitting with Park Jimin centimeters in front of his face for the second time in as many months. 

“This is gonna be good,” said Jimin. “Taehyung-ah, go fetch the wings, please.”

“On it,” said Taehyung, stomping away in black platform boots with a coat of black feathers trailing after him. 

“So, what am I supposed to be again?”

Jimin sighed. “We’re both fae in the court of Taehyung, who’s the Raven King. Come on, Seokjin-ah.”

“Wow, no idea how I forgot that.”

Jimin narrowed his eyes at him before bringing his hand back to brush pink powder over Seokjin’s eyelids.

Seokjin liked being around these two; their authenticity made him feel brave and capable. One night in a few days ago he’d quietly told the two of them that he was bi, and suffered anaconda level hugs as a result.

Jimin sang under his breath as he worked, If You by Big Bang. Seokjin harmonized with him, and Jimin pulled back to smile brightly at him, eyes making pretty crescents.

“I don’t want you to stop, but I need you to stay still.”

Seokjin laughed. “Alright.”

When Jimin finished, Taehyung came forward to place the wing’s on Seokjin’s back.

“There we go,” he said. “Look at my two beautiful courtiers.” He gave them both a kiss on the cheek, and Seokjin blushed.

“You guys didn’t have to invite me in on your couples costume,” he said.

Jimin waved a hand. “Oh please. It’s not a couples costume, it’s a group costume for the most beautiful people in the room, hello .”

“Damn straight,” said Taehyung.

“Not any of us.” Jimin said, collecting his brushes from the counter.

“Oh god,” Seokjin groaned.

Now Taehyung sidled up next to him. “Speaking of which, have you got any plans to find yourself a boyfriend tonight?”  He waggled his brows.

“Well,” Seokjin began. “I’d like to kiss a boy tonight, just to see what it’s like. But I don’t know… I’m too shy to just go for it with someone I don’t know. I feel like I’d do something wrong.”

“Kissing is pretty much the same, regardless of gender,” Jimin pointed out. 

“Yeah, I know it’s the same idea. I just mean I’d want to be comfortable.”

“That’s totally valid,” said Taehyung.

Seokjin was looking at his feet, so he didn’t see the look the two boyfriends exchanged. 

 

Two hours later, the party was in full swing. Seokjin danced with Hoseok and Namjoon, who were now officially dating, and pondered his and Yoongi’s status as the only singletons among the SNU friend group. Yoongi, who was fashionably late as always.

At 11:30, Taehyung and Jimin pulled him into the kitchen, which was surprisingly empty of people.

“Seokjin-ah,” Jimin said. “Taehyung and I have a bit of a crazy idea. It might be good, but if it’s something you don’t like, please, please tell us.”

“Uh, what is it?” Seokjin asked. When he glanced over at Taehyung, he was gazing at Seokjin in that heavy way of his, but quickly transformed it into a smile.

“Well,” Jimin began. “We were kind of thinking - you mentioned that you would want your first kiss with a guy to be with someone you know, or are comfortable around. Sooo, we figured we would volunteer ourselves so that you can see what kissing a guy is like.”

Seokjin could feel that his lips were parted in shock. “Really?” he asked.

“I know it’s weird,” said Jimin. “You don’t have t-”

“No,” Seokjin said hurriedly, before ducking his head in embarrassment. “I’d like to. You mean, uh, right now?’ Jimin nodded, trying to look encouraging. Seokjin looked between the two of them. “Who do I…”

“Oh, yeah.” Taehyung stepped forward, slipping an arm around Jimin’s waist as he did. “It’s just whoever you’d like first.”

Seokjin nibbled at his bottom lip, glancing over at Jimin in his flowing pink shirt with his plush pink lips, who he’d always thought was so pretty , even before. “Jimin-hyung,” he said.

Jimin smiled. 

“Lowkey offended, not gonna lie,” said Taehyung. Seokjin looked at him with big eyes and a pout, and he relented. “I’m kidding, god. You two go for it, I’ll just enjoy the show for now.”

“Stop being creepy,” said Jimin, pushing him away and stepping in closer to Seokjin. Seokjin swallowed, and it was clearly audible from the sudden gleam in Jimin’s eye. 

The kitchen counter pressed into the small of Seokjin’s back, and Jimin’s hands smoothed over his arms before landing on his neck, fingers splayed just below his ears. 

Then Jimin kissed him.

Seokjin’s mind went blank, full of fuzzy static as something else rushed through his veins. He didn’t know what to do with his hands, faltering for a moment before placing them on Jimin’s waist. It felt so nice, and it took a second, but he remembered how to kiss and tried to kiss Jimin back, parting his lips slightly. Jimin bit lightly at the bottom one, giggling at Seokjin’s ensuing gasp. His hand moved back down from Seokjin’s neck to hold his hip in a bruising grip. The kiss became wetter, and then Jimin pulled back, looking satisfied.

“How was that?” he asked.

“Good,” Seokjin managed, a little out of breath. 

“I’m glad. You can touch me more, you know.”

“Oh, okay.” Seokjin glanced over at Taehyung, who had his arms crossed as he stared intently. He quirked a brow at Seokjin and god, how were they both so damn attractive?

“You still fine to try it out with Taehyung, too?”

Seokjin nodded, feeling a little bereft as Jimin stepped away.

Taehyung took Seokjin’s hand first thing, and placed a kiss on the top. “May I have the honor?”

Seokjin couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes. You weirdo.” 

His laugh died out when their joined hands were trapped between their bodies as Taehyung moved closer. Seokjin felt much more caged in, now, in front of tall and broad Taehyung. He let his eyes flutter shut as Taehyung ran fingers through his hair and over the smooth line of his cheek. Then he took Jimin’s advice and let his own hands roam more, first over the wide expanse of Taehyung’s back, and then over his neck to the shell of his ear. 

Taehyung kissed in a gentler way than Jimin, and Seokjin was entranced by the slow, deliberate way of it. When Taehyung finally pulled away, Seokjin’s knees were a little wobbly. He held on to Taehyung’s shoulders and laughed again, knowing how red his ears must be.

“So what do you think?” Taehyung asked. 

“I- well, I think I want more of that. It was really nice. And different from kissing a girl, I guess. I don’t know, it felt different.”

“I’m glad you liked it. We did, too,” said Jimin, leaning his head against Taehyung’s shoulder. “If you want us to introduce you to any potential love interests, just say the word.”

Seokjin nodded, and, still in a daze, made his way out of the kitchen. He found Namjoon and Hoseok sitting on the couch after a minute, Hoseok’s hand covering Namjoon’s on top of the cushion. Then, he saw Yoongi next to them, drink in hand, dressed like Naruto.

“Yoongi,” he exclaimed, hurrying over to them, “You went full weeb!” He propped himself on the arm of the couch, putting his hands on Yoongi’s shoulders to hold him still while he looked at the costume details. When he glanced up he saw Yoongi studying him intently, though his features relaxed quickly when they met eyes.

Namjoon was also looking at him with a quirked eyebrow. “Where’d you go there, Jin? You look a little… debauched.” He gestured at Seokjin’s hair, and Seokjin quickly smoothed it down, laughing sheepishly.

“I’ll tell you about it later,” he said. “Does anyone want to dance?” 

 

It was almost 3 by the time Seokjin headed out; he gave Taehyung and Jimin quick hugs before he left, warning them that he would probably not be able to look them in the eye for a while. 

“Oh, don’t even try that,” said Jimin. “Or I’ll haunt your bedroom.”

“That’s not really a threat, babe,” said Taehyung. Seokjin scurried away, not wanting to be there when that devolved into foreplay.

Hoseok and Namjoon had left at 2, but Yoongi had stayed despite seeming preoccupied about something. Seokjin fetched him from the couch and called out another goodbye as they slipped through the door.

“That was fun,” Seokjin said. He felt light, and pretty in his fairy costume, and his feet hurt from dancing but that was the best type of pain. Yoongi just nodded, still seeming lost in his mind.

After a few minutes, Seokjin couldn’t bear the silence any longer, and asked, “Is everything okay?”

Yoongi glanced over, surprised. “What? Oh, yeah, yeah, it’s fine. Just thinking, you know.” Seokjin let him be again, walking along the empty path in peace until Yoongi spoke up.

 “Hey, so feel free to tell me to mind my own business, but, uh, I saw you with Taehyung and Jimin earlier -”

“Oh god,” Seokjin interrupted him, bringing his hands to cover his face. He’d had a few more drinks since the kitchen episode, and was feeling particularly rambly now. “That’s so embarrassing, shit. There’s a reason, I swear - it’s just that they offered to help me.”

Yoongi stopped them in the middle of the path with a hand on Seokjin’s bicep. “Seokjin-ah, it’s okay. There’s no reason to be embarrassed. What do you mean, though? What’d they offer you? Cause if they were being too much, I can talk to them, you know.”

“No, no,” Seokjin said, peeking out from his hands and eventually dropping them to his sides. “They weren’t. I told them I was curious about kissing a boy and wanted to try it with someone I was comfortable with. So, yeah, they were helping me.”

Yoongi nodded slowly, nibbling on his lip. “Alright,” he said. “Thank you for telling me. Sorry I was being nosy.”

“No, you were just concerned,” said Seokjin. “But, um, I have been meaning to tell you about… that. I just haven’t gotten around to it.”

“That?”

That as in, I realized I’m bi. A little more than a month ago. ”

Something cleared in Yoongi’s expression. “Ah,” he said. “That’s - I’m really happy for you, Seokjin. Truly.”

Seokjin sniffled, nose running from the brisk fall air, smiling softly at his roommate before leaning forward to wrap him up in a hug. “Thanks for always answering my questions, and showing me what it’s like to be yourself. And always being there for me.” He was rambling again. And maybe getting a little choked up.

Yoongi’s hands smoothed up and down his back. “Shh, Jin-ah, it’s alright. No need to thank me.” Seokjin pressed his forehead against Yoongi’s shoulder, taking a minute to breath in the comfort and safety of this moment. His heart clenched. Here they were, with Yoongi still dressed like Naruto, and he cared about his friend so much. He wanted to be wrapped around him like this, and fuck, it wasn’t a crush. It was more than that. 

 

Back home, the two of them exchanged whispered goodnights, and Seokjin dreamed once more of lips against his own.

 

 

The first thing Seokjin did in the morning - well, afternoon by the time he got up - was to run to to the drugstore.

When he came back, Yoongi was still in bed, eating a slice of toast. “Yoongi-chi,” he said. “I request your help on a mission.

“Oh? What is it?”

Seokjin emptied the plastic bag on his bed, and boxes of bleach and toner and hair dye all fell out. “I want to dye my hair pink,” he said with a grin.

 

And so he ended up sitting at his desk with Yoongi massaging bleach into his hair. Seokjin wrinkled his nose at the smell, but managed until they could rinse it out and start on the pink dye.

“I’m so excited,” he said as Yoongi squeezed the color into his hands.

“Me too, I think it’ll look good. Any reason you’re doing it?”

“I don’t know. According to Jimin-hyung, dyeing your hair funky colors should be covered by insurance for gay people.”

Yoongi laughed out loud at this. “He’s right, it should. Well, glad you’re jumping on the colorful hair train.”

Seokjin smiled, closing his eyes and relaxing as Yoongi finished up. After, he just had to sit and wait for a while. 

“Yoongi,” he said. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Mm,” said Yoongi. Seokjin could tell he meant, yes, as usual.

“When did you have your first kiss with a boy?”

He felt Yoongi’s eyes slide over to him, heavy. “That would be with Sanghyun. I’d just turned 18.”

“Was it romantic?”

“Not at all. It happened in a bathroom stall at Silver Spoon.”

Seokjin frowned. “That’s... disgusting.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi laughed. “I somehow convinced myself it was thrilling, or whatever. But you would definitely have hated it.”

“You’re damn right I would’ve. Nothing that happens within feet of a toilet is good.”

“Interesting proverb. So, uh, was yours romantic, then?”

“Ah. I guess so? I mean they’re both handsome, people I care about. They kissed well, and the way they touched me was kind of… tender? But I know it would be best with someone I love.”

Yoongi was quiet, and Seokjin turned red. “Sorry, that sounds dumb.”

“No, not at all. I’m sure it would be best that way.”

 

 

November soon became what Seokjin deemed his ‘crushing deeply on Yoongi month’, and Yoongi found plenty of reasons to make it worse for him, the tormentor.

At one point, he walked into the room when Yoongi was just standing around in only a pair of skimpy boxers. And he didn’t bother to put on a shirt or anything, leaving Seokjin to train his eyes on a million different spots in the room lest he be tempted by the pale, smooth-looking expanse of a chest.

Yes, he was basically a monk now.

And then there was the time when Seokjin made hot chocolate for the two of them and made an offhand remark that the very first sip with the real whipped cream was better than an orgasm. To which Yoongi replied: “If you think that, you just haven’t had a mind blowing enough orgasm.” Seokjin had promptly choked on his drink at the vivid images his mind supplied. 

 

By the time December arrived, Seokjin was ready for some respite.

December also meant his birthday, however, and this year he dragged Jeongguk along to the usual subdued dorm room gathering. “You can finally meet Yoongi,” he said when they were in the elevator together. “I think you two would get along well.”

“Mm, I am excited to meet your future boyfriend.”

Seokjin glared at him. “Shush. You better not make any comments to him.”

“Relax, relax, I’m not gonna reveal your crush. I am excited to meet him though. See if he’s worthy of you.” Jeongguk wrapped an arm around his shoulders, and Seokjin smiled, putting his own around Jeongguk’s waist

“I think he is. Definitely.”

Seokjin pushed open the door to his and Yoongi’s, where everyone was sitting with bottles of soju. “Everyone,” he announced. “This is my treasured dongsaeng Jeonggukie - Jeongguk, this is Yoongi and Hoseok. I’m not sure how this random guy got in,” he said, gesturing at Namjoon and earning a playful scowl in response. “And those two are Taehyung and Jimin.”

They all greeted him loudly and enthusiastically, and the drinking quickly devolved into a game of truth or dare, which was particularly dangerous around Jimin and Jeongguk. When it got to be Seokjin’s turn, Jeongguk sat up straighter.

“Ooh, I have a question for hyung.” 

Seokjin narrowed his eyes. “What if I chose dare?”

“I mean, that works, too.”

“Fine.” The idea of a dare from Jeongguk was scarier than anything. “Ask me your question.”

“I will. How many piercings do you have?”

"You don’t know that?” Namjoon asked. “He just has one.”

“Well,” Seokjin began, slowly. “Two, now.”

“Really?” Jimin asked. “What’s the other one?”

When Seokjin hesitated, Taehyung spoke up, too. “C’mon, tell us. Bend the rules a bit.”

“Fine, fine. It’s a nipple piercing. JK and I went earlier today.” He glanced over at Yoongi as he said this to see him staring back, lips parted in surprise.

“Seriously?” asked Hoseok, clapping his hands together in delight. “I love that, that’s very unexpected.”

“Blame the art student,” said Seokjin. “It was Jeongguk’s ‘birthday present’ to me. Despite the fact that I never asked for it.”

Jeongguk cackled “Aren’t I a genius?”

“I must say that you are, Jeon Jeongguk. I can’t believe Jimin and I never thought of this,” Taehyung said. 

Seokjin sighed heavily. “Okay, you are all insufferable. Someone else go, now.”

More soju bottles were emptied. Taehyung revealed that he and Jimin had a sex tape, to everyone’s dismay. Seokjin dared Namjoon to dance sensually, which ended up with him wiping tears of mirth from his eyes. 

When everyone was laying on the ground and the clock neared 2 am, Taehyung asked Seokjin, “So, do you have a crush? And more importantly, is he in this room?”

Seokjin turned red. “That’s two questions, hyung, that’s illegal.”

“Fine. Then my question is, is your crush in this room?” He grinned evilly. 

There was a long pause. “Yes,” Seokjin said. Then he leaped to his feet. “Okay time for bed! Jeongguk-ah, Namjoon has a sleeping bag for you in his room.”

Of course no one listened, choosing instead to make fun of Seokjin endlessly until he was covering his face with his hands. Jeonguk pushed him to the bed to tickle him. “Hey,” he whined. “You’re all so evil, it’s my birthday, you know.”

“That means that we have to do this,” said Namjoon. “It’s out of love. But we’ll leave now.” He winked on his way out, and leaned in close to whisper. “You can be alone with your crush, finally.”

The room became much quieter in the absence of all the others. Seokjin just threw himself onto his bed, then yelped when he landed on the piercing. 

“You good?” 

He turned to Yoongi with a pout. “Jeongguk didn’t tell me how much it would hurt.” Yoongi opened his mouth, then closed it. “What?” Seokjin asked.

“It’s just… do you mind if I see it? The piercing? I was thinking about getting one myself, so.”

“Oh,” Seokjin said, blinking at him. “Yeah, that’s fine. I just didn’t really want to flash six people at once.”

Yoongi nodded. “Understandable.” Then he got up and came closer to Seokjin’s bed so that his hips rested against the edge. Seokjin sat up, suddenly feeling weirdly nervous. Well, it wasn’t that weird. He was also wondering whether Taehyung’s question had made it obvious that he liked Yoongi. After all, the only other single one in the room was Jeongguk.

“Uh,” he said. “Here, I’ll just show you.” He pushed up his sweater to reveal the slightly reddened skin and the silver barbell, and watched in half anticipation, half horror as Yoongi’s hand came forward. His fingers just barely brushed the ribs right below Seokjin’s pectoral muscles before they darted away. Seokjin released the breath he’d been holding.

“Sorry, sorry,” said Yoongi. He cleared his throat. “It looks good. Make sure to clean it frequently.” 

When he finally looked up, Seokjin realized how close their faces had come and was frozen for a moment with lips parted. A heartbeat hung suspended between them, and Seokjin felt something shift. But then Yoongi pulled away and retreated to his side of the room.

A few minutes later, he spoke again. “I hope you had a good birthday, Jin-ah. I’ve got another present for you. It’s just not quite done yet.”

Seokjin frowned. Yoongi had already given him a soft pink hoodie. “Oh - another? That’s not necessary.”

“It is,” said Yoongi. “You’ll see.”

 

A few days later, reading period began. It was the day before finals that Yoongi e-mailed him two files - one .jpeg, the other .wav; the subject header read: for jin’s 21st. 

Seokjin grinned. This must be the song that Yoongi had mentioned writing for him so many months ago, after Seokjin had given him his song. 

He clicked on the .wav file first, listened to the song. It was good. It was really good. The piano sounded almost nostalgic - he would never get tired of the way Yoongi played. The .jpeg would probably have the sheet music and lyrics for him to sing, he figured.

At first, he was preoccupied reading the notes, trying to follow along, humming under his breath. But then one lyric made him stop.

The soft way you speak

& The loud way you laugh

 

He remembered something Yoongi had said to him once, a while ago - that he had a ‘delicate’ voice. He frowned, looking closer at the words written out in Yoongi’s scrawl.

 

This is the music I know best

And when my fingers dance over keys

I can only wish it were your skin

So please

Fall into my arms tonight

 

He read the rest in a daze. The song was a love song. One Yoongi had written for him to sing. Yoongi who had once had a crush on him and given him a rose. He swallowed, picking up his phone quickly and clicking on Yoongi’s contact.

Are you in the music building? He sent.

It only took Yoongi a minute to respond, and then Seokjin was grabbing his parka and heading out the door. It was fucking freezing out, but this was worth it. Seokjin wasn’t going to back down.

 

It was almost eleven pm at that point, and when he pushed open the doors to the practice room Yoongi was sitting hunched at the piano, looking drained. Seokjin sighed, starting forward and handing him a coffee. “You should rest.”

Yoongi raised an eyebrow at the drink, questioning.

“Decaf,” Seokjin clarified, sitting on the bench next to him and letting their thighs brush against one another. “How’s practice going?”

“It’s going. I’ve got other things on my mind.”

There was a pause. “I listened to your song,” Seokjin said. 

“Ah. What’d you think?”

“I loved it, of course. I can’t wait to sing it for you. But, um, the lyrics were my favorite.” He looked down at where their knees touched, Yoongi’s still as knobby as the day he’d first seen him. “I was wondering,” he started. Then, “no, nevermind.” 

He heard Yoongi breathe in a ragged breath before speaking. “Did you want to know if the lyrics were about you? Because they are.”

Seokjin looked up, wide eyed. Yoongi was gnawing at his lip, as usual. “Oh. I thought I was reading into things, or something.”

“I mean, we all know how I felt about you senior year. I’m just surprised you didn’t realize until now that I still feel that way.”

“I really thought your feelings had gone away,” Seokjin objected. “You didn’t know me as well, back then.”

“I don’t see how knowing you better would ever have that effect. You’re kind of wonderful, you know?”

Seokjin groaned, flustered. “Min Yoongi,” he said. “I’m going to stop you before I get too tongue tied to speak. Because I need to say that I like you, too.” 

The smile that bloomed on Yoongi’s face at that was the greatest thing Seokjin had seen in months, possibly years. He laughed gleefully. “You know, I asked Taehyung the other day whether it was Jeongguk you had a crush on that was in the room. He called me an idiot.”

“Oh god, you are. I was so embarrassed when he asked that 'cause I thought you’d figure out.” 

“I had hopes.” Yoongi put his hand over Seokjin’s, then, and Seokjin’s heart thumped as they met eyes.  “Here, I’ll play you the song,” Yoongi said. “Sing along if you can.”

Seokjin tried his best, but he was kind of distracted singing the poetry the boy he liked had written for him. When Yoongi finished playing, Seokjin quickly tugged one of his hands back into his.

“I like your hands,” he said in response to Yoongi’s smirk. “They’re very talented.”

“They’re all yours. Do with them what you like.”

“That sounds kind of like an innuendo.”

Yoongi huffed a laugh. “If you insist.”

“So are you gonna come back home with me or stay here a while longer?”

“I wish I could, really. There’s just this one movement torturing me. And the final’s only a day away.”

“I get it, don’t worry. Don’t stay up too late, though.” And in a burst of confidence, he leaned forward to press a kiss to Yoongi’s cheek before standing and hurrying out.

 

Finals messed with things for a while, though the way the two of them treated one another was now colored with the sweetness of a burgeoning relationship. And Seokjin liked to hold Yoongi’s hand whenever the other boy wasn’t gone being a musical genius. 

On the last day of the term, once the both of them had finished with exams, they laid down in Seokjin’s bed together to rest their eyes. Yoongi had one tentative arm thrown about Seokjin’s waist, fingers light over the cotton of his shirt as if he was afraid of pressing too hard.

“This is nice,” Seokjin murmured, eyes still closed. 

“Mm. Probably would be better if the bed were a little bigger.” 

“You can just move closer,” he said, pulling Yoongi forward so their knees tangled together. When he opened his eyes, their faces were only inches apart, and Yoongi’s eyes were dark and wide. Moving on instinct, Seokjin tilted his face forward so their lips pressed together. He heard Yoongi inhale sharply, and finally his fingers pressed into Seokjin’s waist. His lips were sweet and pouty, if a little chapped.

It was perfect, Seokjin thought, bringing a hand up to Yoongi’s jaw and fiddling with the chains on his earrings. “Why didn’t I do that sooner?” he whispered when they broke apart.

“It’s okay. There’s no time like the present, they say.”


Despite the bed’s smallness, the two of them fell asleep in it, and Seokjin woke up the next morning tangled in Yoongi’s arms. It was a beautiful feeling, only slightly marred by the knowledge that he was going home later that day. He laid there for a while, contemplating, until Yoongi stirred. 

“Good morning,” he said into Seokjin’s shoulder, voice still raspy from sleep. Seokjin turned over in his arms.

“Good morning to you, too. See, we both fit just fine in here.”

“It’s not as good as my bed at home, though.”

“Mm, true. I wish I could be back there. I’m probably just gonna come back to campus before Christmas.”

“I mean… you could come to Daegu for Christmas if you want? And stay through Sinjeong, or however long you want.”

“Really? You wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course I wouldn’t mind. More time with you is always what I want.”

Seokjin laughed. “Okay, Min Yoongi, you smooth talker. I’ll come.”

 

Later, he packed up his bag to take the train home, feeling less bad about it now that he knew he would see Yoongi soon enough.

He had to search for a minute to find his key before he let himself in to the fourth floor apartment he’d grown up in. When he stepped inside, it smelled the same as always. It’d been quite a few months since he’d been back, and this smell was an odd comfort - the basil plant his mom kept in the kitchen and the specific detergent she used. “I’m home,” he called, getting down on his knees to give a barking Jjangu a big old hug. “Hey there my scruffy friend. I’ve missed you.”

 

That night, he and his mom ate together on the couch, which his dad had always refused to do, and watched Reply 1997. She had been part of the reason he’d gotten so into dramas as a kid and ended up trying out for the school plays. “How’s Queen Seondeok coming along?” she asked after they’d finished dinner. “Your friend is directing this one, right?”

“Yeah, my friend Taehyung,” he said, petting Jjangu who had now leapt onto his lap. “I think you’ll enjoy it.”

She nodded. “I’m excited to come see it.”

 

 It was when they were washing the dishes together, him on drying duty as usual, that she spoke up again. “Seokjin-ah,” she began in a more serious voice.

“Yeah?”

“It’s nice to have you here. I know I’m silly, but I’ve missed you.”

Seokjin set down the dish he was drying, suddenly feeling awful for the months he’d been avoiding home at all costs. “I’m sorry, mom-”

“Don’t be sorry,” she interrupted him. “It’s my fault for disrupting our family the way I did. I’m worried I’ve been selfish.”

“Mom, no. I don’t blame you at all. I’m really glad you did what would make you happy.”

She sighed. “You’re sweet, Jin-ah. I just think sometimes about how we never set a good example for you, me and your father, maybe made you think that all relationships are tense and loveless. But they aren’t, and I just know real love is out there for you. So please don’t be influenced by our failure. Okay, I’m done ranting.”

Seokjin’s lips trembled a bit. “I know, mom, really. I think it took me a while, but I believe I can have love, too.” He felt a single tear run down his face as she pulled him into a tight hug. It had been a battle in more ways than she knew. 

 

The two of them spent the rest of the week with that weight at least somewhat off their chests, going for walks in the park and grocery shopping and cooking. Seokjin hadn’t cooked in a while, either, and he’d missed that, too. He sent Yoongi a picture of the hotteok he’d made, then bit into it happily.

Looks yummy! Yoongi responded. Then, a moment later. Can’t wait to see you

Seokjin smiled, bringing the plate into his room before laying down on the bed. Me too. I’ve missed you , he sent.

Cute, said Yoongi.

Seokjin sent an angry face in response, and then remembered something. 

Hey, did you tell your mom about us yet?

I was just thinking about the no closed door policy

 

No, I haven’t yet

Oh, were you?

Seokjin could practically hear his voice there. He blushed, unsure whether to admit just how much he was thinking about it. 

Yeah, 

I’d rather the door were closed, that’s all

Yoongi took a minute to answer.

Me, too , he finally said.

We don’t have to do anything, though 

I want to

 I’m just nervous...

I don’t know what I’m doing

No need to be nervous. It’s pretty simple when you get down to it

Are you sure? Not according to Naver

What were you looking up?

Seokjin blushed. How did one tell their new boyfriend they were looking to be fucked?

Ummm. Can i tell you in a few days?

Of course

Thank you … I also wanted to say that I really want to kiss you again

Like a lot

Shit, Seokjin. So do I

I waited a long ass time to do it. 

Now you’ve got me all to yourself



His mom sent him off that Friday with another hug. “You have to bring Yoongi to visit here sometime, his mother must be quite kind to have you so many times.”

“I will, I will. He can come over sometime during the semester.”

“Good,” she said. “Safe travels, darling.”

 He waved goodbye, hopped into his truck and headed off.

 

Three hours later, he was wrapping Yoongi up into a hug outside his apartment door and sneaking a quick kiss on his nose.

Yoongi returned it. “Seokjin-ah. How was home?”

“It was actually nice. I missed you, though.”

“Sappy,” said Yoongi, though his pleased smile betrayed him. “Here, come inside. No one’s home right now. Mom’s still at work.”

Seokjin followed him in, and once he’d put his stuff down in Geumjae’s room, the two of them laid down on Yoongi’s bed. 

“Is there anything you want to do today?” Yoongi asked. “I feel like we’re always in bed.”

Seokjin laughed. “We’re just homebodies, Yoongi-yah. Embrace it.”

“I do,” he said. “Just making sure.”

Seokjin rolled over to cuddle closer to him, wrapping an arm around his torso and resting his head over Yoongi’s heart. He could hear it beat steadily, if slightly fast, and could tell that Yoongi was holding his breath. “What are you doing that for?” he asked.

Yoongi exhaled, smiling sheepishly. “I don’t know,” he said. Seokjin smiled back - he knew why. It was easy enough to readjust himself so he was looking down at Yoongi before leaning in for a kiss. It felt different this time, when they were wide awake and utterly alone. There wasn’t even the usual noisiness of a dorm to distract them.

After a minute, he opened his mouth against Yoongi’s and felt a puff of hot breath against his lips; the kiss became wetter, messier, and when Yoongi’s hands slid from Seokjin’s shoulder blades to the small of his back, Seokjin found himself clambering so he straddled just above Yoongi’s knees before leaning in to kiss him again. He brought nervous hands up to press against Yoongi’s chest, and exhaled shakily when Yoongi’s hands slipped below the hem of his t-shirt to slide up the bare skin of his back.

“Is this alright?” Yoongi murmured. Seokjin nodded, pressing closer. Yoongi’s tongue slipped into his mouth, sliding against his own. After a few minutes of this, Seokjin moved his hips up, trying to make it less obvious that he was getting hard just from this, but then he felt something against his stomach and realized. It turned out that a hardening dick pressed against him was not a sensation he’d ever taken the time to imagine. 

Yoongi seemed to sense that Seokjin had froze, and scooted away so Seokjin was sitting back on his thighs again, in safe territory. When they met eyes, he saw how much Yoongi’s pupils had dilated, noticed the high color in his cheeks. A hand that rested on Seokjin’s hip came up to cradle his cheek. “You good?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” He shook his head, embarrassed. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be. I, uh, I don’t want to sound condescending, but I know this is new for you. And scary maybe. And I just wanted to tell you that it’s all at your pace. Whatever you want, I want.” 

“I know,” Seokjin said softly, hunching his shoulders a bit. “It’s annoying cause I’ve had two months now to let myself want, and to come to terms with all that. And I’ve realized I do want. A lot of things. But I’m still afraid I’ll do something wrong, or whatever. It’s just stupid.”

“Is there any way I can help you feel less afraid?” Yoongi asked. Seokjin brought a hand up to Yoongi’s where it had buried itself in his hair.

“Just be gentle with me, I guess.”

“Always.”

 

That evening, they went to the grocery store together and got started making kalguksu before Yoongi’s mom got home.

When she came through the front door, she made a dramatic show of smelling dinner already in the air. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “Seokjin-ah, you are quite the good influence on my son.”

“Oh, well,” Seokjin said, smiling a small and pleased grin. “I'm glad. He’s not too bad in the kitchen, at least.”

“Hey,” Yoongi objected. “I’m good, actually.”

“Okay, fine, fine. You’re good. Now take the noodles out, please.”

 

Yoongi held Seokjin's hand under the table at dinner, and afterwards they moved to the couch to watch City Hunter (Seokjin’s request). “Have you seen every Lee Minho drama?” Yoongi asked with a raised eyebrow. Seokjin stuck his tongue out.

“No, I have not, thank you very much. I could never finish Boys Over Flowers.

“Was it Junpyo’s perm?”

Seokjin laughed. “The perm was fine. It was everything else that was an issue. This one’s good, though.” He nodded at the screen. “Park Minyoung is beautiful isn’t she?”

Yoongi made a noise of assent, and pulled Seokjin back so he could settle into his chest before pressing play.

 

It was comfy enough that Seokjin drifted off at some point, waking to a blue lit living room when Yoongi shifted. 

“What time is it?” he muttered, making Yoongi look down at him in surprise.

“11:30,” he said.

“Ah. I have to shower.” He was picky about that, preferring a warm shower before bed even when it was late.

“Sure,” said Yoongi. “The sheets are all changed in your room, everything’s set.” Seokjin nodded, stumbling away to the bathroom. It was a jack and jill set up, connecting Geumjae and Yoongi’s room. 

Seokjin had just turned on the shower and was standing around in his boxers while he waited for the water to warm when Yoongi knocked on the door. Seokjin let him in. “Yes?” he asked, leaning against the door frame with a jokingly coy smile.

“Uhh,” said Yoongi, eyes obviously trained on Seokjin’s bare torso. “Do you mind if I brush my teeth quickly?” Seokjin moved aside to let him in, sticking a hand under the water once more. It was still cold. “I have to say,” Yoongi continued. “That piercing is very distracting for me.”

“Oh?” Seokjin turned to him. “Yeah, you seemed kind of out of it when I told everyone about it.”

Yoongi shrugged. “You look good.” He hadn’t reached for his toothbrush yet. “I know nobody’s supposed to touch it while it heals.”

“Unfortunately,” said Seokjin. To his surprise, Yoongi came up behind him and slid his arms around his middle before pressing a kiss to the nape of his neck. 

“Your skin is so soft,” he murmured.

“I moisturize.” At Yoongi’s scoff, Seokjin turned around in the circle of his arms before kissing him deeply, burying hands in his dark hair. His own was now a faded pink.

Now that they were standing, he could feel the way their bodies swayed as they kissed like this, heavy and eager. Yoongi’s hands were bruising on Seokjin’s hips, and Seokjin inhaled shakily before pressing those hips forward into Yoongi’s. Yoongi groaned, nipping at his bottom lip before soothing it with his tongue. One hand moved up to slide over Seokjin’s non pierced nipple. Seokjin gasped, hips jerking into Yoongi’s again, and now he was there he couldn’t help but grind forward. Yoongi pulled away from the kiss to nip just below Seokjin’s jaw, then to suck a bruise into the soft skin of his neck.

“We’re wasting water,” Seokjin managed finally. Yoongi pulled off, and took a step back.

“Sorry, I interrupted your shower, didn’t I?”

Seokjin nibbled on his bottom lip, gathering bravery. “Well, you could join me.”

“Oh,” said Yoongi. “Sure, yeah. Sounds good.” He respectfully averted his eyes when Seokjin stepped out of his boxers and into the stream of hot water. 

He’d just finished wetting his hair when Yoongi pushed aside the curtain and stepped in. Seokjin smiled at him and his awkward stance, pulling him close with a wet hand on his trapezius. “Kiss me again.” 

Yoongi did, hands roaming over Seokjin’s skin. They kept landing on the dip in his waist just before his hips flared out. When he pulled back, he looked at Seokjin with dark eyes, shaking his head. 

“How are you so fucking beautiful?”

Seokjin glanced down, which in this context was dangerous. He trained his eyes on a shampoo bottle instead. “Yoongi-yah,” he whined. The steamy shower was already making him pink all over, so at least he evaded that particular red flag of his. Instead, he came forward and rested his forehead on Yoongi’s shoulder, bringing his hands to his sides, fingers running over the ridges of bone below the skin. He pressed a kiss to a sharp shoulder, then raised his head to kiss pretty and chapped lips. “You can touch me,” he whispered. “If you want.”

He heard Yoongi breathe in a ragged breath. “Yeah,” he said. And if Seokjin had been caught off guard earlier about what all this felt like, now he felt his knees tremble as Yoongi wrapped a hand around him. He held on to Yoongi’s biceps, watching his face. When his palm smoothed over the head of Seokjin’s cock, Seokjin moaned, a breathy thing. Yoongi’s eyes flicked to his, half-lidded.

It was embarrassingly soon that Seokjin came with a gasp, back curving forward as he did. Then, Yoongi kissed him, pressing him against the shower wall. Seokjin could feel him against his hip before he pulled back, smiling sheepishly. 

“I can help if you like,” Seokjin said.

“If you like.”

Seokjin rolled his eyes. Then, figuring he should just go for it before he lost his nerve, he reached out a hand. It took a minute to figure out how to position his wrist, and then he still wasn’t satisfied with the way it felt. His face twisted up in consternation, lips pouting, and when he looked up Yoongi was smiling at him. “Hey,” he said. “This is hard.”

“You bet it is.” 

“Ew. Skeevy,” said Seokjin, withdrawing his hand as he contemplated his task.

“Here,” said Yoongi. “How about you come behind me. Then it might feel more natural.” 

Seokjin did, and it did help a bit. He pressed in close, and the feeling of his chest slipping against the wet expanse of Yoongi’s back was an oddly captivating one. Still less than the sound of Yoongi’s low moans as Seokjin found a rhythm, though, so similar to the regular tenor of his voice. 

When Yoongi finally came, Seokjin only suffered a mild shift in world view as some of it landed on his knuckles. He pressed a kiss to the knobby bone at top of Yoongi’s back, and then let the water rinse them both off. “I guess I should actually shower now,” he said with a grin.

“Let me help.”

 

After, Seokjin pouted at the idea of sleeping all alone and secured an invite into the soft flannel sheets of Yoongi’s bed. He even got a good night kiss, and Yoongi as a big (little) spoon. 

“Good night,” he murmured. “See you in the morning, Yoongi-chi.”

 

 

The next day, Yoongi’s mom had to leave for a conference in Seoul that she’d told them about before. She gave them both kisses on the cheek as they sat in the breakfast nook. “Now, I’ll be back late on the 24th. You two will be alright?”

“Yeah, mom,” said Yoongi. “We know which take out places to go to.”

She scoffed. “Alright. Well there are some banchan in the fridge. Call me if you need anything else.”

After she left, Yoongi brought their plates to the sink and started on them, turning to Seokjin as he did. “Anything in particular you wanted to do today?”

“Hmm. Well I know you’re like a cat when it comes to water, but I was kind of in the mood for a swim. If there’s a public pool nearby?”

“I’m down to do whatever you want to do. And there is, at the high school. We can leave in a half hour?”

“Awesome.” Seokjin stood to go and help with the dishes. “Thanks, Yoongi-chi.”



The truth was Yoongi did hate swimming. He still tried his best though, wading in the shallow end or sitting on the side of the pool and playing Categories with Seokjin while he went off the diving board. When they finally got home, Yoongi’s hair was still dry and fluffy, but Seokjin was soaked through with chlorine. 

“I’m gonna take a quick shower,” he said. “And I gotta clean my piercing well, too.”


He came out after a half hour of standing under the steamy water to find Yoongi laying back on his pillows, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian held up above his face.

“Interesting choice,” Seokjin said. Yoongi’s eyes flicked over to him, and the book slowly lowered as he stared in the general vicinity of Seokjin’s navel.

“Yeah,” he said, distractedly. “I like it, I think.”

Seokjin smirked, slipping his t-shirt over his head. It stuck immediately to some water droplets he’d missed when drying his shoulders. Then he sat down heavily on the bed, draping a hand over Yoongi’s waist. “We’ve got the house to ourselves,” he said.

“Mm,” Yoongi hummed. The usual sleepy set to his eyes was gone. “We do. You know, I’ve been thinking about something you said the other day.”

Seokjin raised an eyebrow. “Which was?”

“Well, when we were texting you mentioned looking things up on Naver that made you nervous, and, uh, I figured we should talk about that? If you want. I’m pretty sure I can be more helpful.”

“Oh.” Seokjin felt blood rush to his ears. “I don’t like porn,” he blurted, then grimaced at Yoongi’s bewildered expression. “Sorry, bad segue. I just mean, I haven’t watched any gay porn. Actually, I was about to once when you walked in me.” He chuckled. “I guess it’s good you did cause porn’s pretty unrealistic, right? Anyways, my point is, I couldn’t get any information from that route, so I was forced to turn elsewhere. But I think Naver was too realistic.”

“In what way?”

“Well they talked about all this cleaning you have to do,” he lowered his voice. “For like an hour. And then they talked about prep and how you have to do that right or it’ll be really painful.” His lower lip trembled a bit.

“Ah,” said Yoongi. His hand was on Seokjin’s elbow. “It’s okay. It won’t be painful. I’ll make sure of it. I mean, I won’t deny that it’s a long process to get ready, and it’s hard to be spontaneous. But as for prep… I honestly like it. Some see it as a means to an end, but I don’t know. Especially with you, I’d have no problem being down there for a long time. You know, you can come multiple times from it. Fingering, I mean.” When Yoongi finally finished, Seokjin’s lips were parted, his tongue sitting dry in his pallette.

“I didn’t know that,” he squeaked.

Yoongi’s eyes flickered over Seokjin’s face. “I know this is a stupid question,” he began slowly. “But what made you decide you want to bottom? If you do feel too nervous about it hurting, I can always bottom. Or we can just wait. Like I said before, it’s all up to you.”

“I want to,” said Seokjin. “I don’t want to wait. And… though the other way sounds great, too, I’d like if you would be - if you would fuck me.” He closed his eyes as he said this, took a deep breath. “To be honest, ever since I realized I was attracted to you, I’ve wanted that. Uh, over the summer Chaerin mentioned pegging once, and I had to look it up but. Yeah. It sounded so hot to me, even though at the time I thought I was weird for thinking that.”

“No,” said Yoongi forcefully. Seokjin opened his eyes to glance down at his fierce face. “It’s not weird. It’s really fucking sexy, actually.” He squirmed a bit on the bed. “Not that my horniness equals validation or anything.”

Seokjin laughed, turning on his knee so that he could straddle Yoongi’s thighs, place his hands on his delicate breastbone. “Mm,” he hummed. “It is nice that I can be honest about my fantasies now. With myself, and with you. I can tell you that your hands have no right being so attractive. I used to always watch them when you played. And I don’t think I’ll be able to get everything you just told me out of my head for a while.” 

He watched Yoongi’s eyes darken at this and felt those same hands come rest on his thighs as he leaned down for a kiss. Goosebumps broke out across Seokjin’s body, maybe from the weak sputtering of the heater or maybe from the feel of Yoongi’s lips. Either way, he cuddled closer, pressed himself against Yoongi’s core to gain some semblance of warmth. It was intimate, even with layers of clothes between them, to be joined like this, to feel his ribcage expand against Yoongi’s as Yoongi licked into his mouth. Yoongi pulled away after a few minutes, nosing against Seokjin’s neck before pressing an open mouthed kiss at the base where his pulse pounded. 

Seokjin sighed, eyebrows furrowing, hands sliding past Yoongi’s pectoral muscles to hold on to the soft slope of his shoulders. “Yoongi,” he whispered. Yoongi hummed, sucked a mark into the sensitive skin below Seokjin’s jaw, and Seokjin couldn’t help but press even closer, so their hips joined. His blood fizzled, and the hair on his arms stood on end. He tugged Yoongi back so they could kiss again, tracing his tongue over the delicate cupid’s bow that has always caught his attention. Minutes slipped away, Seokjin’s shirt was ruched up, and hot hands squeezed the flesh of his waist and hips. He definitely wasn’t cold now. 

“Yoongi,” he gasped, again. “Let’s - let’s...”

“What is it?” Yoongi pulled away, and they met eyes. In a way, this was Seokjin’s favorite part, seeing the unadulterated want in hooded eyes and blown out pupils.

“Can we try it? What you mentioned before?” Seokjin drew his bottom lip into his mouth - a nervous habit of his.

“What I said before? Sorry, my mind is kind of blank right now.”

Seokjin rolled his eyes. “You’re just trying to get me to say it.”

“I’m not, I swear,” said Yoongi, teeth peeking out as he smiled up at Seokjin. Then his eyebrows went up a notch. “Ah, I remember. You’re sure?”

Seokjin nodded. “It’d better to start with just fingers, I think.”

“Works for me. Let me just get some stuff.”

Seokjin scooted back so Yoongi could turn his upper body and grope around in his nightstand drawer. Finally, after a minute, his hand emerged with a worn looking bottle of lube and a silvery condom packet. “Ah, this condom’s expired, but it’ll do the trick for now.” He patted Seokjin’s knee. “Here, switch spots with me.”

Seokjin clambered off Yoongi’s legs to plop himself against the pillow and watched as Yoongi settled himself, a look of concentration on his face. “Okay,” Yoongi said. “Are you relaxed?”

Seokjin shrugged. “Kind of. It’s you, so that helps.”

“Good,” Yoongi smiled. “Let me know if you want me to stop at any point.” He leaned down, then, and they kissed again. Unrushed, he took off his own shirt, then pushed Seokjin’s up, trailing his fingers over his stomach. “So soft,” he murmured. Seokjin made a noise in the back of his throat, hands falling to the waistband of Yoongi’s shorts. Bottoms came off in a flurry of legs, and Seokjin was greeted with the sight of Yoongi’s half-hard dick hanging against his thigh. He inhaled sharply, then kicked off his own shorts, suddenly feeling more urgent. Though he wanted to kiss Yoongi some more, he knew this required Yoongi to look where he was going, so to speak. Instead, he kept his eyes on the mole on Yoongi’s cheek while he warmed the lube between his fingers. 

Before he started, Yoongi rubbed a palm, the only part of his hand still dry, over Seokjin’s thigh. “Hey. I’ve got you.” And so Seokjin let his legs fall apart, though he winced internally at the vulnerability of the position, and let himself trust Yoongi. 

It was a good decision.

The intrusion was odd at first. Seokjin just laid there for a minute or two, unsure what to do with his hands, as Yoongi wiggled his finger about, then squeezed in another, scissoring them. It wasn’t painful, at least. Yoongi looked up at him, and yeah, he seemed into it. His face softened at Seokjin’s expression, though. “I know it’s weird,” he said.

Seokjin shook his head. “It’s fine. I’d let you do a lot of things to me, probably.”

Yoongi laughed gleefully, then suddenly did something that made Seokjin’s abs clench as he choked on a moan. “What’d you just do?” 

“That’s your prostate. I was just stretching you before.”

Seokjin knew his mouth was hanging open. “Keep doing that.” Yoongi did. It felt so fucking good, so new, so overbearing. Honestly, it felt a little bit like he was about to pee. He screwed his eyes shut, tossed his head against the pillow. He never imagined himself as the type to moan wantonly, but here he was having to force himself to stay silent. 

“You’re quiet,” said Yoongi. Seokjin glanced down to scowl at him playfully, and at that moment Yoongi brought one hand up and wrapped it tightly around the head of Seokjin’s flushed dick. 

“Ah,” Seokjin cried. His head fell back against the pillow. “You did that on purpose.”

“Maybe.” Yoongi collected precum in the meat of his palm as he said this, then spread it down Seokjin’s shaft, building a rhythm there as his other hand brushed against Seokjin’s prostate.

Seokjin whined, breathed heavily through his open mouth. He wasn’t going to last long. He had no idea how many minutes had passed. It couldn’t have been many. 

“Yoongi,” he whispered raggedly. “I’m close.” 

Yoongi didn’t speed up his pace, just brought his slick hand down, over Seokjin’s balls, his perineum. And then his mouth was on Seokjin’s dick. The tight heat of it was too much. He came with a shout, watched in horror and delight as some of it landed on the pink of Yoongi’s lips.

“Yoongi.”

“Mm,” Yoongi hummed, dragging the back of his hand against his lips. “That was fun.”

Seokjin pulled Yoongi back on top of him, now desperate for a kiss, and wanted to combust when he realized what the taste on Yoongi’s tongue was. He sucked on it harder, brought a hand down to Yoongi’s length. The angle still troubled him, but he was quick and relentless and soon enough Yoongi was coming, moaning low into Seokjin’s mouth as he did.

 After, when Seokjin felt fit to melt into the mattress, he murmured into Yoongi’s chest. “Can we try the rest tomorrow?”

“Mm,” Yoongi hummed, sounding sated. “Tomorrow evening, 5:30. My bedroom. Sex date with Seokjin. I’ve got it all down in my mental Palm Pilot.”

Palm pilot ,” Seokjin snorted. “Shut up, you loser.”

“You’re the one who has a sex date with a loser.”

“I guess I am. And I’m looking forward to it.”

 

 ➼

 

The next day, Yoongi took Seokjin on a date to the aquarium. 

“Do you like it?” he asked.

Seokjin looked up from where he was making a face at the creepy stingrays. Signs above the tank invited visitors to touch them. Hell no, Seokjin thought.

“The stingrays?” he said to Yoongi. “I prefer the beluga whales, definitely.”

Yoongi chuckled. “I know you hate the stingrays, Jin-ah, it’s obvious. I meant to say, do you like going on dates? Having a boyfriend?” He scratched the back of his neck, a nervous habit Seokjin had picked up on in the last year and a half of living together. 

He stepped closer to Yoongi, caught his hand for a moment. “I like it a lot,” he said. “I’ll be honest, at first I struggled with having the things I imagined for some nebulous future exist in reality. You know, it’s a lot easier to daydream, to have a crush when you’ve just begun to understand your sexuality. But, yeah. I couldn’t ask for a better boyfriend than you. So keep taking me on dates, please.”

“Of course. If you show the rays some love.”

Seokjin gasped. “Min Yoongi, you traitor.”

 

In the end, Seokjin reluctantly petted the ray, flushing deeply when his ensuing shouts gained them some looks from judgmental parents. They saw penguins and manatees, and Yoongi bought Seokjin a plush beluga keychain at the gift store while Seokjin bought him a tshirt with a terrible graphic of stingrays swimming, labelled ‘Daegu Alive Aquarium’ in a Microsoft Word font.

“Wear this to your next rap show,” he said, “Let those posers know not to mess with a D-town boy.”

Yoongi sighed. “Sometimes I regret letting you listen to my discography.”

 

They caught the bus back after grabbing boba downtown, and though Seokjin hadn’t been thinking too much about the impending ‘appointment’ all day, he was suddenly nervous as his watch informed him that it was 4:30.

Back in Yoongi’s neighborhood, Seokjin shooed Yoongi away before he stopped in the drugstore, thanking whatever god was out there for self-checkouts. Then, he took a long, hot shower, scrubbing every inch of his body. 

He kept zoning out under the torrent of water, imagining the toe-curling pleasure of last night. The idea of virginity, too, invaded his thoughts. It wasn’t something he was concerned with, at large. Chaerin had made sure he knew that it was a construct. Still, he couldn’t help but think about losing it, now, and figured it was good that Yoongi knew what he was doing; Seokjin certainly didn’t. And it was good that Yoongi was his friend and wouldn’t judge him for his lack of experience. Because even though Chaerin was right, he knew very well that some people’s opinion of you changed when they figured out you hadn’t had their idea of sex. 

When he finally stepped out, the triangle of chest revealed by his robe pink from the heat, he noticed his hands shaking a little. Huh. 

Yoongi was on the bed when he slipped into the bedroom, just like the day before. Seokjin hovered at the doorway, one arm crossed protectively across his stomach, until Yoongi looked up.

“Seokjin?” he said. “Everything alright?”

“Mm.” He treaded over, crawling onto the bed to curl up at Yoongi’s feet. “Just a little scared. When I’m anxious, my hands shake, too.”

Yoongi frowned, forehead furrowing. “Jin,” he began. 

Yoongi. I know what you’re gonna say, and it’s okay. I’m scared that it might be painful, yes, but I know you’ll make sure it’s the least amount of pain possible. I also know that the pleasure will outweigh the pain. So. Our appointment in still on.” He got up on his knees then, and moved so he was curled next to Yoongi, who was flat on his back. “If we could just cuddle for a while, until I feel better?”

“Of course,” said Yoongi softly. He laced his fingers through Seokjin’s over his stomach, and Seokjin breathed in and out while feeling the rise and fall of Yoongi’s chest. It was so, so peaceful. He could feel the tension seeping out of him. A half hour later, he turned his face lazily to capture Yoongi’s lips in a kiss. In place of tension, a warm, hazy arousal had arrived, helped by the tangle of their bare legs on the duvet - Seokjin’s smooth against Yoongi’s. 

The kiss was slow, not urgent. Seokjin wiggled until he was half on top of Yoongi and became suddenly extremely aware of how a) he was only wearing a robe and b) the robe was coming undone.

“Yoongi-yah,” he giggled. “You didn’t even have to undress me.”

“Taking away the best part.”

“Hmph.” Seokjin fully straddled Yoongi, then. “Here,” he said, gesturing at the robe slipping down his shoulders. “You can do the rest.”

Yoongi’s hands smoothed over his biceps as he slid the terrycloth down and down, til it bunched at his waist. He moved his hands underneath to grasp at Seokjin’s hips, pressing his fingers into them like he was trying to make a mold.

“I love your hips,” he said, staring up at Seokjin with dark, admiring eyes. 

Seokjin flushed, pleased. “No one’s ever said that before.”

“They clearly weren’t paying attention.”

Seokjin scoffed. “Okay, Mr.Tongue Technology, get over here.”

“Relevance?” Yoongi protested, but he came easily enough when Seokjin bent over for a kiss. As their bodies pressed closer together, Seokjin felt the rhythm he’d been getting used to over the past week build, and build. He licked into Yoongi’s mouth, relishing in the resulting quick exhale that meant he was getting turned on. 

The lube was still on the nightstand from last time, and maybe that was slightly shameless of them, but it made it easier for Seokjin to reach over and grab it before grinding his ass down over Yoongi’s crotch. 

“Will you?”

Yongi nodded, and Seokjin moved off of him to lay on his back. Yoongi was quick to hover over him, placing kisses over his sternum, down the dip of his rib cage towards his navel. “You’re gorgeous,” he murmured into the skin.

Seokjin closed his eyes, tight, then opened them to Yoongi’s unruly head of hair. “So are you. Let me see you.” Yoongi shed his old t-shirt and shorts, and Seokjin took him in his arms. 

He knew what came next, and he was glad they’d had yesterday. On Seokjin’s urging, Yoongi spilled a good amount of lube onto his fingers. He went slower, now, focusing less on the prostate and more on stretching. Once he’d scissored three fingers in a squirming Seokjin, he pulled them out. Then he kissed him deeply. 

“I’m ready,” said Seokjin, breathless. “How should I…? I want to see your face.”

“Here.” Yoongi slid a pillow under his hips, then brushed his fingertips over his thighs. “Let me know how that feels. I want this to be good for you. Fuck, now I’m nervous.” He laughed, and Seokjin took his face in his hands.

“Don’t be. I know you’re gonna make me feel so good.” Yoongi nodded, grabbed the condom and poured enough lube to supply a small army onto his dick. He rubbed the spare over Seokjin’s hole with his thumb. Seokjin whimpered, watched as Yoongi aligned himself. 

He couldn’t quite describe the sensation. Even with just the head of Yoongi’s cock pushing past his rim, he felt his mouth freeze in a small ‘o’ as he panted heavily. He watched the look of concentration on Yoongi’s face to distract himself, until the feeling of complete and utter fullness overwhelmed him. 

They were still for minutes, with Seokjin holding Yoongi by the shoulders or trailing his hands over his stomach and lower back while they waited for Seokjin to get used to it all.

When Yoongi finally moved, the pace was something slow but deliberate that made Seokjin deliciously dizzy. He felt the cockhead grind over his prostate, felt the drag deep inside of him as Yoongi moved his hips. All of a sudden he was achingly hard. 

“Yoongi,” he breathed. 

“Seokjin,” Yoongi whispered back, voice rough. He captured Seokjin’s lips, by now swollen and wet, with his own. Seokjin couldn’t hold back a low moan, couldn’t help but bring his legs up to wrap around Yoongi. This feeling - it was so odd, but so good.

Soon, he was writhing against the sheets as it seemed he drew closer and closer to orgasm but never quite arrived. His whines and frustrated moans seemed to clue in Yoongi, who brought a hand up to wrap around Seokjin, jerking him once, twice, sliding his whole palm over Seokjin’s leaking head just the way he liked. He kept the pace of his hand slow like the pace of his hips.

It wasn’t long before Seokjin whispered Yoongi’s name again in a broken voice, and this one meant: I’m about to come. 

Now Yoongi fucked into him harder, chasing his own release, his eyes fixed on Seokjin’s face like he couldn’t look anywhere else. Seokjin came as one thrust glanced off his prostate, moaning loudly, eyes closed as he fell into a brief moment of oblivion. 

Yoongi was quick to pull out so as not to make Seokjin oversensitive, then wrapped a hand around himself and came a moment later. Much of it landed on Seokjin’s hipbone. Seokjin opened his eyes blearily, watched Yoongi move quicker than he’d ever seen him as he grabbed a washcloth from the bathroom. 

Seokjin smiled lightly as Yoongi wiped him up. “Thanks,” he murmured. “That was nice.”

Now Yoongi laid down next to him, and their legs tangled together once more.

“Was it really?” he asked.

“I liked it. You know, you being inside of me.” There was a pause. “Jesus,” Seokjin said, embarrassed in a nebulous sort of way at the statement, but not immediately. He chuckled. “Can’t believe I said that.” He heard Yoongi swallow audibly.

“I’m glad. That you liked it.”

Their kiss was interrupted by a sudden growl of Seokjin’s stomach.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “I’m starving.”

 

And so they ordered Chinese takeout and set up on the couch in the baggiest clothes possible, stealing kisses as City Hunter played in the background. This part was familiar, comfortable and lovely, but in truth everything was with Yoongi. There was nothing dramatic or painful, just pleasure and Yoongi showing that he cared. Seokjin burrowed closer to him in their nest of blankets.

 

The morning sun flooded the kitchen as Seokjin stood at the stove, frying some eggs and humming a medley of love songs. He turned, smiled brightly as Yoongi shuffled into the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot Seokjin had brewed. 

“Good morning, babe.”

Yoongi chuckled over the rim over his mug. “Morning, sweet cheeks.”

“Ooh, I like that one,” Seokjin said, pushing the eggs around some more. 

“You’re in a good mood this morning.”

“All due to your prowess in bed, of course.”

Yoongi shurugged, grinning. 

“Okay, fine that’s part of it. But actually, I feel so light.”

There was a companionable silence while Yoongi waited for him to elaborate. “I don’t know how I never realized this,” he finally managed. “But I’m beginning to see that I can be who I want. I’m free, you know? To sing and dance, to be cared for, to fall in love…” He lifted his eyes to Yoongi’s, then. Yoongi didn’t say anything, just looked back at Seokjin like he was the most important thing in the world.

“I have something for you,” Seokjin continued, voice turning quiet despite their solitude. “Watch the eggs.” He darted to Geumjae’s room, and came back with his hands behind his back.

“Min Yoongi,” he said. “You use your powers of perception for good. To create beautiful music, to pick others up when they’re down. I ran to that hallway almost two years ago so no one would find me. But you did.” He glanced back down as tears pricked his eyes. “I’m unsure so often, and bad with words. I just wanted to tell you that I care so, so deeply for you.” From behind his back he withdrew a single red rose and a packet of Trolli gummy worms. 

Yoongi’s laugh was like music. He drew Seokjin into the tight circle of his arms, turned to place a soft kiss on his temple. “Thank you, Seokjin-ah.” He kissed him again. “My love, thank you.”


The eggs burned.