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[URGENT] Bid Brief & Brainstorm

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For the better half of the past two years, Seokjin’s survived off warm bodies. He’s figured out the most efficient way to get a lay from the plethora of dating apps on his phone. On other nights, he stays out late with Jimin and Taehyung, drinking until his vision blurs, and then it gets even easier to bring someone home.

No one really says no to Seokjin, is the thing. “With a face like this?” Seokjin always jokes, and the thing is, it’s true. It’s the same joke they throw back in his face, after every heartbreak. “You, hyung?” they say, shocked, dismayed. “They left you?”

The last time was perhaps the deepest cut. He was with Yoongi when it happened, and even now, two years later, he can picture everything clearly in his mind’s eye: Chanyeol, his arm around a woman’s shoulders, pulling her close and kissing her while they waited in line for ice cream. Like a TV drama, Seokjin dropped the cup in his hand, and he walked out of the cafe with his jeans stained with coffee. He didn’t turn back to check on Yoongi, kept walking until he reached Ttukseom. Only then did he stop, faced with droves of people sitting in the summer sunshine.

Then, he walked to the nearest trash bin in his line of sight, and vomited.

 



 

Seokjin turns to his side and catches his phone just as it’s about to slide off his bed as it vibrates with his morning alarm. He stumbles out of bed and blinks blearily at his reflection in the mirror, then winces when he sees the red mark on his neck. The guy last night was a bit too enthusiastic, and Seokjin was just on the right side of tipsy that he didn’t push him off.

Yoongi’s leaning against the entrance to the subway and sipping on his first coffee of the day when Seokjin arrives. He raises his eyebrow at the black turtleneck Seokjin had opted to wear, but says nothing and drops his cigarette to the ground and crushes it with his heel before heading down. They don’t speak as they wait for the train, and only once seated inside does Yoongi murmur, “Fun night?”

Seokjin tuts, and pulls his phone out of his pocket to check his schedule. “Urgent meeting?” he says, tapping around his phone. “Did you get Hoseok’s email?”

Yoongi groans. “New brief.”

“The day’s barely started.”

“You know him.”

Seokjin sighs. So much for his week being a light one.

 

 

 

They can hear Hoseok’s distinct manic typing as soon as they arrive, the sound of clacking keys carrying across the relatively empty office. At the sound of their footsteps, Hoseok grins and cocks his head towards Seokjin and Yoongi’s shared desk. “Coffee!” he says, not looking up from his laptop.

“For both of us?” Seokjin asks, looking suspiciously at the cup of what was once an iced americano. On his desk is the evidence of ice, left in a sad pool of condensation.

“Big brief, then,” Yoongi says, before walking up to Hoseok’s desk and helpfully throwing away Hoseok’s empty cup of coffee.

“Yeah, big brief,” Hoseok says, taking a deep breath before finally sending what Seokjin presumes is an important email. Hoseok turns to face them, his chair wobbling a little with the violence of his movement. Even after a year, Seokjin still isn’t used to the energy levels only Hoseok is capable of. “So don’t thank me for the coffee.”

“I wasn’t going to,” Yoongi answers, leaning against his desk. Seokjin’s already set up his laptop, which is slowly booting to life.

“Are you free any earlier? I saw that you’re both booked through ‘til 1.” Then, Hoseok seems to take notice of Seokjin’s outfit. “Is it cold out? It wasn’t so cold this morning.”

Yoongi cackles. “I dunno, hyung, you wanna give Hoseok an answer or shall I?”

Seokjin slams his laptop shut and stands up. “I have a meeting, suddenly,” he says, and stalks off.

“There’s barely anyone here!” Yoongi shouts after him, coupled with Hoseok’s tinkling laughter.

 


 

Once the pitch ends, they all file into the elevator in silence—after a warning glance from Hoseok not to show any reaction within view of the potential client—and once the metal doors slide shut, they all let out a collective exhale. It’s been a while since Seokjin has presented alongside Yoongi, but he's glad about it. The pitch was big enough that it warranted a senior team, and if they win this account… well. Seokjin can look forward to a vacation sooner rather than later.

“I think that went really well!” Hoseok says brightly.

Yoongi lets his head thunk back against the metal of the elevator. “Yeah.”

“Good response, when they asked about longevity,” Namjoon says.

Seokjin startles and looks at Namjoon, whose eyes are fixed on the numbers on the small panel of the elevator, slowly counting down. “Oh,” Seokjin says, smiling a little. “Thanks.”

“Do you have any meetings lined up for when we get back?” Hoseok asks, checking his watch.

“Fuck that,” Yoongi says emphatically. “I’m getting a drink.”

“I’ll join you,” Namjoon says, turning to Yoongi and nodding.

At this, Seokjin finally feels all his exhaustion from the week settle. “Me too. But just a round or two.”

“I don’t think any of us have any energy to do more than that,” Yoongi admits.

“Not until the juniors come, at least,” Hoseok says mildly. They all snap their heads to look at him, and his eyes remain trained on his phone as he texts.

“What?” Yoongi asks.

“You didn’t—” Seokjin says at the same time.

“What!” Hoseok yelps, as Namjoon snatches his phone from him. “They worked hard on the pitch too, we deserve a small celebration, don’t we?”

Aigoo,” Yoongi groans, covering his face with his hand. “I’m leaving at 9. No matter what they say.”

Seokjin snorts. “With those three around, that usually means 9 in the morning.”

“I’ll try and manage them,” Namjoon says apologetically. “We’re all tired, anyway. I’m sure it’ll be a peaceful evening.”

 

 

 

It most definitely is not going to be a peaceful evening, Seokjin thinks sourly as Namjoon’s three juniors arrive and squish into their table, bottles of soju in hand and somehow still full of energy despite the taxing week they’ve had.

Seokjin huffs and busies himself with grilling meat.

“So how was it!” Taehyung asks. “All Hoseok-hyung said was that it went well.”

“It did,” Yoongi says. The three—Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook—lean forward, eager for more and managing to jostle Seokjin, making him shift closer towards Namjoon.

“And?” Jungkook presses.

“Like I said, we’ll find out in a week’s time,” Namjoon says.

Seokjin’s impressed by Namjoon’s tone: fond, without any hint of exasperation.

“Or more,” Hoseok says, still typing on his phone.

“Tell us more,” Jimin demands, reaching over and pushing Hoseok’s phone down.

“Aish,” Yoongi says, annoyed. “You were at the run throughs.”

“All three of them,” Seokjin supplies, unhelpfully.

“Yeah but it’s different when you’re actually there!” Taehyung cries out, just as Jungkook asks, “Did they like the big idea? What about the campaign line?”

“They were very impressed,” Namjoon says, and Seokjin looks up to check if the smile in Namjoon’s voice was reflected in his face.

He’s never been this up close to Namjoon’s dimples, and he nearly burns himself for his ogling.

“They really liked our launch idea, too,” Hoseok adds. “And they didn’t complain about our costs.”

“Sounds too good to be true,” Taehyung says.

“Guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” Yoongi says, tone brooking no argument.

“Did Seokjin-hyung do that thing?” Jungkook asks, looking from Seokjin to Yoongi excitedly. Not unlike a puppy, actually, Seokjin muses to himself, finally moving the meat off the grill and onto his plate.

“Eat,” he says, because he refuses to even acknowledge—

“Oh of course,” Yoongi drawls, and Seokjin doesn’t need to look at him to know he rolled his eyes.

“What? What thing?” Namjoon asks.

“Oh,” Jimin grins, turning to Seokjin, once again bumping into him and making Seokjin shift away, his knee knocking against Namjoon’s.

“Sorry,” he murmurs, when he sees that Namjoon is almost fully pressed up against the wall.

“It’s okay,” Namjoon smiles down at him. “Kids, right?”

“Hey!” Taehyung shouts from the other end of the table. “I heard that!”

“Well, what thing?” Namjoon asks smoothly, as if Taehyung hadn’t said anything.

“I forgot that was your first time presenting with hyung,” Jungkook says, a devilish smirk on his lips. “He has a signature pitch move.”

“I do not,” Seokjin says archly. “The meat’s getting cold,” he adds, and to make his point, he stuffs his mouth with an over-full ssam.

“As you know, everyone has their ‘pitch things.’ Hoseok-hyung wears his lucky necklace,” Jimin says, counting off his fingers.

“Hey—” Hoseok protests, but Jimin continues on, unfazed by the seniors around him. “And Yoongi-hyung transforms into this weird eloquent, extrovert version of himself, never again seen outside of the four walls of whatever conference room you present in.” At this, Jimin pauses, waiting for Yoongi to retort.

Instead, Yoongi nods. “It’s what they pay me the big bucks for.”

“And here I was thinking it was for your big engagement strategy brain,” Jimin simpers.

Beside him, Seokjin notices Namjoon move his hand, a small gesture to Jimin as if to say, come on, get on with it.

“But you’ve seen that already,” Jimin nods. “And today, I can safely assume that you also saw Seokjin-hyung’s classic pitch move...” he pauses, once again, but this time Seokjin assumes it’s for dramatic effect.

“He sits down after presenting his brand strategy,” Jimin says. “He leans back on his chair, maintaining eye contact with the lead client—or whatever top decision maker is there—then runs a hand through his hair.”

“You’re exaggerating, I don’t—”

“And then!” Jimin continues, nearly standing up from his seat, such is his fervor in this imagined retelling, “Then he nods. Just once. And every time, the client nods back.”

“Jimin, you’ve never even been to a pitch,” Seokjin deadpans. Project managers, while essential, rarely ever did client-facing work, but if his current performance is anything to go by, Seokjin doesn’t doubt that Jimin would be great at the role, if he wanted it.

Jungkook looks at Seokjin as if he hung the moon. “It’s always so cool when you do that,” he says.

“I don’t always do that!” Seokjin says shrilly.

“Oh my god,” Namjoon says, sounding shell shocked.

Seokjin turns to face him fully. “I don’t!”

“When you did that earlier, even I was nodding,” Namjoon says, still sounding dazed. He looks at Seokjin, blinks a couple of times, then asks: “Do you practice that, or something?”

“No,” Seokjin sulks. “I just—oh whatever, go eat your food.”

“I always said that hyung should’ve been in accounts, like me,” Hoseok says, grinning at Seokjin. “You’d be so good at it!”

“I don’t have your patience,” Seokjin snorts derisively.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Namjoon says, a small smile on his lips. “You manage to work with the juniors just fine, don’t you?”

“Not as closely as you do,” Seokjin parries. “And I wouldn’t want to.”

“That’s not what you said last night,” Jimin says, feigning hurt. “You said we were the best creative team in Big Hit.”

“And you are,” Namjoon placates. He folds some of the grilled meat neatly into a lettuce leaf and hands it to Jimin, a bribe. “Eat.”

 

 

 

Seokjin sighs as they push through the throng of the Friday night crowd in search of a bar that’ll still have a table empty for them. They’d drank more and more in the restaurant, and when he offered to pay the bill, it was in vain hope that it would chasten everyone into going home. Instead, they took it to mean that they had more money to spend.

He’s usually the life of the party when it comes to nights out, but the past week has been one of the most exhausting in his life—and that’s not an exaggeration. More than once, he’d looked up blearily from the data swimming in his screen, only to make eye contact with Yoongi, who looked as haggard as Seokjin felt.

“Cheer up, hyung! That account’s in the bag, and we’re not working on a weekend! There’s so much to celebrate!” Jimin punctuates his last word with a small twirl, grinning as he goes.

“I just want to sleep,” Namjoon whines. “Aren’t you tired? We’ve been working until midnight for the past week.”

“This is so unlike you,” Taehyung chides, linking his arm with Namjoon’s. “In the next bar we should do shots.”

“We should not do shots,” Hoseok says emphatically, and all of them stop to look at him. Earlier in the evening he’d sunken into his drunken persona, taciturn and broody.

“Maybe with shots, we can finally break through to J-Hope,” Jungkook muses. “Last time we met him, you drank two bottles of wine.”

Seokjin bursts out laughing at the memory. “Okay,” he says between hiccups. “I vote for shots.”

“Don’t remind me,” Hoseok groans, evidently still deeply embarrassed by his other drunken persona, who had happily offered Yoongi a lapdance.

Seokjin cranes his head over the crowd, realizing that Yoongi’s been missing from the conversation. He finds him talking to a bouncer, then looking around for the rest of them. Seokjin waves, and when Yoongi sees him, calls them over.

“Shots,” Yoongi says to Seokjin, before anyone else arrives. “So that they finally get drunk and we can all go home.”

“I admire your optimism,” Seokjin laughs. “Taehyung suggested the same, just now.”

“What, going home?” Yoongi asks, surprised. The rest of the group arrives, and the bouncer leads them in.

“They want to get Hoseok to J-Hope level,” Seokjin whispers, then laughs when Yoongi’s jaw drops.

Once again, they squeeze to fit beside each other on the small table and Seokjin orders a bottle of tequila. Now that he’s sitting, the exhaustion once again makes itself apparent; he’s too old for this, he realizes with a jolt. But everyone’s chatting amiably, save for Yoongi and Hoseok, who are content to sit beside each other in silence.

“I still can’t believe you wore this to the pitch,” Taehyung says, fussing with the collar of Namjoon’s shirt. Namjoon had taken off his suit jacket earlier, and rolled up his sleeves. “You look like a professor.”

“Hey,” Seokjin butts in, just as the tequila arrives. He hands the bottle to Jungkook, who begins to pour them shots. “We’re all in suits.”

“Yeah, but you don’t look like a professor. You look like—“ Jimin pauses as Jungkook hands him a shot, and he knocks it back expertly. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand before continuing. “You look like a sexy daepyonim.”

Seokjin feels his face heat, and he takes a shot to give himself a moment to settle.

“Don’t you think so, hyung?” Jimin asks, turning to Namjoon and blinking at him innocently.

Seokjin leans forward, intrigued.

“I—“ Namjoon starts, flustered. “We dressed up well for the pitch. Of course Seokjin-ssi looks good.”

Jimin and Taehyung smirk, and Seokjin doesn’t miss it, but Namjoon does.

“Just good, then?” Seokjin asks, because this is interesting. He’d never considered Namjoon as an option before, and everything suddenly clicks into frame. Jimin and Taehyung moving and moving until he and Namjoon were squished together in the restaurant. All those late nights in the conference room they’d converted into a war room, Seokjin crazed with post-its and ideas, and Taehyung suggesting that Namjoon could help make sense of the mess, causing the two of them to confer quietly so as not to disturb Hoseok and Yoongi who were deep in research and forming their final deck. How, over the course of the week, he’d caught Namjoon looking at him—and how at the time, he’d just chalked it up to Namjoon paying attention to his strategy.

Namjoon sputters, and Seokjin, Jimin, and Taehyung laugh.

Beside him, Yoongi and Hoseok clink shot glasses before downing them. Hoseok makes a face. “What’s happening?”

“They’re teasing Namjoonie-hyung,” Jungkook pouts.

“About?”

“About nothing,” Namjoon finally manages. “Pour us more shots, Jungkook.”

Seokjin rolls his eyes, put out. He’s too tired to be the one pushing for something tonight, and if Namjoon’s too shy, then it’s his loss.

The conversation shifts from there: Jimin starts gossiping to Hoseok about another team’s project, and everyone leans in to listen. Yoongi looks over to Seokjin and raises an eyebrow. Seokjin shakes his head, and takes another shot.

“I’m going for a cigarette,” Seokjin says, standing.

“Me too,” Namjoon says, nearly toppling the table as he stands.

Seokjin smirks. “Okay.”

 

 

The air is crisp when they step out onto the street, and Seokjin offers Namjoon a light. Namjoon cups Seokjin’s hand in his, holding their hands steady as the flame flickers over Namjoon’s cigarette. It sends a small thrill through Seokjin; the game is afoot, and he hopes Namjoon can keep up.

“Thanks,” Namjoon murmurs, letting go of Seokjin’s hand. They’re quiet for a moment, taking a drag from their respective cigarettes as the bass beats from the bars around them reverberate through their bodies.

Seokjin observes Namjoon secretly, looking at him only through the corner of his eye. His face is lit up by the neon lights around them, and he takes a deep breath, as if deciding to finally do something. Seokjin bites back a smile.

“It was good to finally work with you,” Namjoon says, after blowing out smoke.

Seokjin is silent, unimpressed by the compliment.

“Jungkook and Jimin are always so excited when a project’s with you, so…” Namjoon trails off, fidgets a little. “I was curious.”

Seokjin hums. “Yeah,” he finally says, relenting and throwing him a bone. “We make a good team.”

Namjoon nods, apparently satisfied. “And if we win this…”

Seokjin holds up his hand, stopping Namjoon. “Don’t,” he says. “Don’t jinx it.”

Namjoon laughs, a small, shy sound that charms Seokjin, much to his surprise.

“Sorry. I always get too excited and hopeful about these things.”

Seokjin snorts, shaking his head. “One would think that years in an agency and losing pitches left and right would rid you of that optimism.”

“Nah,” Namjoon says, taking one final drag from his cigarette before crushing it under his heel. Seokjin blinks, momentarily mesmerized by the way Namjoon’s cheeks had hollowed. “I like to think a little optimism goes a long way.” Namjoon grins at Seokjin, then winks.

“I’m going to have another,” Seokjin says, coming back to himself and pulling a pack of cigarettes out from his pocket. When, exactly, did Namjoon become attractive? He’d always seen Namjoon around in the office, and they had so many friends in common, but Seokjin had simply never looked at him properly.

As Seokjin lights his cigarette, part of him hopes it isn’t just a trick of the light, mixed with all the tequila. “You can head in if you want.”

“I can wait,” Namjoon says. He surveys the street, and Seokjin looks at him some more, at the strong line of his jaw, the silver hoops dangling from his ears, the way his lips are quirked just enough to make his dimple make an appearance. He’s attractive, no matter the light, Seokjin decides. He only wishes Namjoon would do something about it.

After a few beats of silence, Seokjin huffs and looks away. He feels like a petulant teenager, puffing at his cigarette, but the truth of the matter is maybe he’s gotten used to men tripping over themselves to talk to him. And now Namjoon’s spoiling a perfect opportunity to charm Seokjin’s pants off. He resigns himself to the passing fancy. Besides, he’s in no shape to sleep with anyone tonight—or tomorrow, even. The whole team’s been running on fumes, and he’s sure that as soon as any of them stop to eat something hot then it’s all over. Properly, this time.

“I think this is the first time we’ve hung out,” Namjoon says.

“What?”

Namjoon shrugs. “You’re usually with Yoongi and Hoseok, and Taehyung and Jimin have told me about going for drinks with you, but I don’t think we’ve ever really spent time together this much, have we?”

“No,” Seokjin agrees, understanding. “No we haven’t.”

Namjoon smiles a little, and there it is again, a small divot on his cheek. Seokjin tries not to fixate, and fails.

“Sorry, what?” He asks, coming back to himself. He takes a drag from his cigarette, centering.

“I said I like it,” Namjoon laughs, suddenly self-conscious. “So how long have you and Yoongi been working together?”

Seokjin’s momentary shock is overtaken by the softball question, and he takes the out. “Ever since,” he answers. “We were in the same student organization in college, and so when he graduated I recommended him for a position in the agency I was working in. Then when he got pirated, he recommended me, and we’ve just been doing that.”

Namjoon nods. “Sounds nice. At least you don’t need to make new friends when you go.”

“That’s one way to look at it,” Seokjin laughs.

“What’s the other?”

“What? Oh,” Seokjin puts out his cigarette. “That wherever I go, there’s someone who’ll never let me live down my shitty campaigns.”

Namjoon huffs out a soft laugh. “That’s not so bad. Keeps you humble.”

“A word rarely used to describe me,” Seokjin grins, puffs out his chest for good measure. Namjoon laughs a little louder now, and they head back inside without having to say anything. As Namjoon leads them towards the table, Seokjin realizes that all the annoyance and exhaustion from earlier has nearly dissipated. So maybe he’s easy, and all it takes is a bit of attention and a few compliments. So what?

As he and Namjoon take the two empty seats left, their thighs pressing together because of the space, Seokjin decides that if Namjoon is just a little bit braver tonight, he’ll relent. It’s not like it’s any great difficulty; Namjoon’s cute, it’s a great way to blow off steam, and Seokjin’s pretty sure Namjoon isn’t the type to make a big deal out of it. For all his sudden bouts of shyness, Namjoon carries himself well, with a quiet confidence that Seokjin wants to poke at.

He’s curious, so sue him.

Jungkook passes them another round of shots, and Seokjin downs it readily. Beside him, Namjoon relaxes into his seat, throws back the shot, and stretches his arm to rest it on the back of Seokjin’s chair.

Seokjin smirks, orders a round of beer for the table, then shifts forward so he can rest his hand right on Namjoon’s thigh as he leans forward and listens to Hoseok’s latest story, the alcohol evidently working and moving him past his initial torpor. He doesn’t miss the way Jimin’s head turns from Taehyung to Jungkook, and it only makes him smile wider as he nods at Hoseok, encouraging him on.

As the night wears on, Seokjin and Namjoon sit closer and closer to each other, and after Seokjin cracks a joke, Namjoon finally, finally curls his arm around Seokjin’s shoulders, gripping Seokjin’s arm as he laughs. He turns to Seokjin, eyes crinkled up, grin spread so wide the dimples are deep, deep enough for Seokjin to poke, so he leans close and does just that, and that only makes Namjoon smile even more, and Seokjin finally breaks. Their faces are so close that Seokjin only has to turn his head to whisper to Namjoon and say, “Well, are you going to take me home or what?”

Namjoon pulls away, ducks his head in a bad attempt to hide his blush. Then he looks back up at Seokjin and says, “I thought you’d never ask.”

 

 

They’re quiet in the cab, but Seokjin can’t stop fiddling with the cuff of Namjoon’s shirt, rolled up tight around his forearm. “You’re a lot more muscular than you look,” he admits, quietly.

Namjoon smiles, tight lipped. “You like it?”

“Of course,” Seokjin says, affronted. He palms Namjoon’s bicep, and gives it an experimental squeeze.

Namjoon shivers, peels Seokjin’s hand off him, and links their fingers together. “Be patient,” he whispers.

“I’m trying,” Seokjin hisses.

After an excruciating 15 minutes of silence—five SHINee songs had played, and Seokjin had estimated that they were all at least three minutes long each—they finally arrive at Namjoon’s apartment. Once in the elevator, Seokjin wastes no time and shoves Namjoon (and his considerable bulk) against the wall and kisses him, rough and messy.

The night devolves from there, and Namjoon gives just as good as Seokjin takes. The sun is rising by the time Seokjin flops onto the bed, breathing hard.

“What the fuck,” Seokjin says, after a few more deep breaths.

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees.

“You have no right being that good of a lay.”

Namjoon sits up a little, rests his weight on his elbow as he looks down at Seokjin. “I’m sorry?”

“No,” Seokjin says, pulling him down into a kiss. “Don’t be.” He kisses him again, then again, for good measure. “Do it again.”

 

 

Seokjin spends the rest of the weekend with Namjoon, lazing around the bed and ordering take out. He’s pleasantly surprised to find that the near-religious experience he had the night before wasn’t a fluke caused by the alcohol, and Namjoon seems only too eager to test out the theory, again and again.

Between all the sex, Seokjin is surprised to find that he enjoys talking to Namjoon, despite him holding a perspective so far removed from Seokjin’s. It’s interesting, and fascinating, and Namjoon’s mouth…

When Seokjin gets home, he hops in the shower, falls into bed, and sleeps better than he has in years.

 


 

Seokjin takes a deep breath before entering the office. He’d overslept, so Yoongi’s probably in already, as is most of the office, and he walks quietly to his desk, trying to be as unassuming as possible.

For a brief, euphoric moment, he thinks nothing’s going to happen. He sets his bag down, pulls out his laptop, then, from across the floor, he hears someone run into the copier (if the flurry of paper is anything to go by) and Jimin, half-bent over the Xerox machine, is giving him the widest shit-eating grin known to man. Seokjin closes his eyes, and prays to the gods that be for patience.

Yoongi takes this opportunity to swivel his chair to face Seokjin, sipping daintily from his usual morning coffee—always care of Hoseok, and each time he’s tried to bring up this blatant favoritism, Yoongi’s face had shuttered closed, so Seokjin had learned to accept this as a plain fact—“So,” Yoongi says, smirking around his straw.

“What?” Seokjin asks, feigning innocence. Maybe if he’d had coffee before entering this den of vipers he’d have a quip ready, but he was late, and now he’s here.

“How was your weekend?”

Seokjin sits down, rolls his chair forward so he and Yoongi are face to face, their knees touching. Seokjin takes another deep breath, finds the recesses of energy within him, and deflects in the only way he knows how: “I had a religious experience,” he says, eyes boring into Yoongi’s.

“Wh—hyung,” Yoongi rolls away, horrified. Seokjin laughs, relieved, and hopes for Namjoon’s sake that he’d figured out his own way out of this situation. Yoongi and Hoseok were easy to scare off; just provide the most intimate details possible and that would send them running.

But if he’s read Namjoon’s team right, they probably herded him to the closest cafe under the guise of team breakfast and grilled him until they’d gotten every single detail out of him, down to Seokjin’s underwear brand. (Good thing, Seokjin muses, that he wore his Calvins. Hoseok wasn’t the only one with lucky things for pitches.)

Seokjin turns back to his desk to actually begin working, groans at the number of emails that have come in over the weekend, and the next thing he knows, Hoseok’s calling him to lunch.

Prior to the pitch, he never would have joined the creatives at their lunch table, but today it seems almost natural, and they wave him and Hoseok over. Yoongi’s already there, tucking into some leftover bulgogi.

Hoseok takes a seat between Seokjin and Jungkook and uncovers his own tupperware.

Seokjin blinks at Hoseok’s food—bulgogi with similar toppings. He opens his mouth to tease, then Namjoon arrives and all of Seokjin’s thoughts are derailed.

This isn’t, of course, Seokjin’s first time seeing Namjoon out of a pitch. In fact, he’s seen Namjoon in his relaxed office outfits more often than he’s ever seen him in suits, but today he looks good. Seokjin can’t tell if that’s because of what he’s wearing (a plain white shirt fit just right, and tucked into light-wash jeans), or because for the first time, Seokjin’s actually looking. He’s seated right in front of Seokjin, and he’s a lot more distracting than Seokjin thought anyone could be. Privately, he wonders if he has the same effect on Namjoon—he knows he has that effect on other people, but they don’t matter, not right now.

Lunch passes relatively peacefully, until Seokjin catches Namjoon frowning at Taehyung, who smothers a laugh behind his hand.

Jimin, who is sitting directly across Taehyung, glares.

Seokjin sighs, long suffering. “Okay,” he says. The table seems to straighten up. “We’re all adults here.”

“Some, more than others, clearly,” Namjoon says, quirking his eyebrow at Taehyung, who has gone an interesting shade of red.

“So let us be adults about the fact that Namjoon and I went home together last Friday,” Seokjin continues, and Jungkook almost spits out his Coke. Hoseok pats his back consolingly.

“Agreed?” Seokjin finishes.

“Agreed,” Yoongi drawls, setting down his chopsticks and closing up his tupperware. He moves to stand. “Well this was fun, let’s do it again.” And with that, he’s off. The rest of the table take it as their cue to clear out, and Jungkook shovels the last of his rice into his mouth before bolting after the rest of them, leaving Namjoon and Seokjin alone, still surrounded by the din of a creative agency at lunch break.

“Well, that was handled with more grace than I thought possible,” Namjoon says, leaning back on his chair and looking impressed.

“A talent borne from experience.”

Namjoon nods, understanding. “So, what are our ground rules?”

Seokjin smiles, pleased. “I don’t want anything complicated. We have fun. We stop when it stops being fun. No hard feelings.”

“Simple enough.”

“You’d think, right?” Seokjin huffs out a laugh, remembers all the difficult and awkward conversations of having to let people down easy.

“You’ve clearly done this before, and I have too,” Namjoon says, fixing up the emptied dishes in front of him. “I’m fine with those boundaries.”

Seokjin chews on his lip, thinks back to his team teasing him, and how that probably belied something more. “What about yours?”

Namjoon shrugs, and it highlights the sculpted muscles of his arms. “I’ve always found you attractive. That’s why they tease me. But it’s not like I knew you back then, and if you want to keep this casual, then I can do that.”

“Oh,” Seokjin says. He feels his neck and ears heat, surprised by the sudden compliment. “Well, that was easy?”

Namjoon shrugs again. “Like you said, we’re adults. Things can be simple.”

Seokjin wants to argue otherwise, and has a wide berth of experience that proves that adults are, for the most part, horrifyingly complex beings who are prone to acting against their own benefit. Thankfully, his phone buzzes, reminding him of an upcoming meeting.

“Here’s to hoping,” Seokjin says, standing. When he turns back to wave bye to Namjoon, he isn’t surprised to find him looking—gazing, really—but it sends a shiver through him, all the same.

 


 

True to his word, Namjoon keeps it simple. On Wednesday, they’re both working late, and when Seokjin slams his laptop shut, Namjoon strides over to him, bag already slung over his shoulder.

“Dinner?” he asks, leaning against the partition of Seokjin’s desk.

He doesn’t need to say more; it’s sustenance, a precursor. It’s a veiled invitation for sex, so Seokjin allows it. And if they spend two hours eating and talking about their respective accounts, and then later on about art and literature, and finish lazily on Namjoon’s couch, barely unclothed, well. It still counts.

On Saturday, Seokjin is bored and alone, so he sends Namjoon a crude and direct text asking him to come over, relieved that this arrangement means they don’t need to buy each other flowers to get fucked.

Namjoon arrives, and Seokjin is on him so quickly he barely registers what Namjoon’s wearing until he’s getting dressed, afterwards.

“Where are you going?” Seokjin asks, noting the particularly nice cut of Namjoon’s pants, and the fabric of his shirt.

“Oh,” Namjoon says, tugging on his socks. “There’s a play I was going to watch.”

Seokjin laughs. “And you came to fuck me first?”

“Well, other way around, but I suppose that doesn’t matter,” Namjoon mumbles, more to himself than Seokjin.

Seokjin snorts.

Namjoon finishes dressing, checks himself in Seokjin’s bathroom mirror.

“You look good,” Seokjin says, assessing him.

“Thanks,” Namjoon says, smiling down at Seokjin. They gaze at each other for a moment, then Namjoon laughs and ruffles Seokjin’s hair.

“You going to spend the day in bed?”

“That was the plan,” Seokjin says, rolling onto his back. “Bed all day. Preferably with you in it, but you have plans.” He blows at an errant lock of hair, and tries to figure out why he’s put out. Then again, the answer’s simple: he wanted to have more sex.

Namjoon crouches down and fixes Seokjin’s hair. “Wanna come watch the play with me, then have more sex after?”

“A compromise,” Seokjin says, and he chalks his awed tone up to being recently orgasmed. “We can do that.”

“We can, if you can get dressed in the next ten minutes,” Namjoon laughs.

“I only need five,” Seokjin says, sitting up. As he tugs on pants and fusses with his hair, he tells himself: more sex is happening later, so it’s allowed. Besides, he and Namjoon had become friends at this point—and their friendship could exist outside of what they were doing. They get coffee every morning, now, like real friends, and when Yoongi laughs at him, Seokjin only has to point to Yoongi and Hoseok’s matching cups of coffee to shut him up.

 


 

Friday nights usually end early for the Big Hit team—either from proper project management or simply giving up, the office empties out by seven. Tonight, though, Namjoon, Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook are working late.

And Seokjin is in the office, too. He’d waved off Hoseok’s dinner invite and avoided Yoongi’s knowing smirk, telling them that he was putting in some work so that next week wouldn’t be too overwhelming. Which is partly true; he’d done some initial research for a project that was due two weeks from now. So maybe he’d gotten used to spending Friday nights with Namjoon—it’s convenient, and easy, and maybe Seokjin wants to work out some tension from the week.

After half-heartedly clicking through the open tabs on his browser, Seokjin finally stands up and heads to the Creatives’ desk, where all their heads are huddled together, reviewing a video playing on Jimin’s laptop.

“Are you going to take any longer?” Seokjin asks, stretching his arms over his head and feigning nonchalance.

“Why, do you have a date?” Jimin asks, grinning devilishly.

“We could’ve, but you already had your overtime dinner, so I guess now all we can do is fuck.”

“Hyung there’s a child here—” Taehyung says, reaching over to cover Jungkook’s ears.

“I’m 24!” Jungkook screeches, worming out of Taehyung’s hold.

“We’re almost done,” Namjoon says, smiling fondly at them, then at Seokjin. “I didn’t know you were waiting.”

“I wasn’t,” Seokjin says flippantly. “But I finished working and you’re still here, so...”

“I mean, so are we, but okay.”

“Be quiet, Taehyung, the adults are talking.”

“Give me 30 more minutes,” Namjoon says. “Have you eaten?”

Seokjin sniffs, unused to being rejected, even if minutely. “Fine, I’ll find something to eat.”

“Okay, see you in a bit.”

Seokjin bites back a smile, then turns to leave. The office is empty, so sound carries, and he hears Jimin say, “Oh, did you see! His ears were so red!”

 


 

Seokjin’s going through a deck, discussing data points, when Hoseok’s phone buzzes. Seokjin pauses, knowing from experience that Hoseok will turn his over, check the notification, then act accordingly: either turn it back over, which means it can wait, or hold his left hand up as he types with his right, which means it can’t.

As such, Seokjin is completely unprepared for this hitherto unknown reaction. Hoseok’s face lights up, like literally, lights up starting from the curve of his lips up to the smile scrunching his cheeks up, his eyes pinching shut, his eyebrows raised, and he lets out a scream.

“WE FUCKING WON,” Hoseok screeches, and for a second Seokjin registers the sheer volume of sound, then he realizes that the words have meaning, and the next thing he knows he and Hoseok have hopped up from their seats, clutched each others’ shoulders, and shouted at each other.

“We have to—I have to—” Hoseok says, looking like he’s about to vibrate out of his skin. He throws the door to the conference room open. “WE WON NAVER!” he shouts, then runs out.

Seokjin collapses back onto his chair, wrung out. He hears another raucous cheer from down the office, then Namjoon pops his head into the room. “Did I hear that right?” He asks, eyes wide.

“Yeah,” Seokjin says, huffing out a laugh. “Congratulations to us.”

Namjoon steps inside the room and pulls Seokjin into a hug, grinning from ear to ear. “Yeah,” he says, his breath warm against Seokjin’s neck. “Congratulations.”

Seokjin melts against him, and this is still within the bounds of friendship, he tells himself. He’s sure that outside, in the open floor plan office, Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook are hugging, congratulating each other and themselves.

Namjoon pulls away a little, just enough so they can look at each other, and Seokjin smiles at him, all of him flooded with warmth and pride. They stayed up past midnight for a whole week and managed to present as if they’d prepared months in advance. That was all their hard work, and now Seokjin really could go on a vacation, like he said all those weeks ago.

They stand there a bit longer, smiling at each other like loons, and so Seokjin does the only possible thing left to do and kisses Namjoon, chastely on the lips.

“I didn’t think we were allowed to do that,” Namjoon says, his arms tightening around Seokjin’s waist.

“Extraordinary circumstances,” Seokjin says, winking.

Namjoon laughs, shakes his head, all exasperated fondness, before pulling away. It makes Seokjin pout. “One more, since we’re already here?” He asks sweetly.

Namjoon scrunches up his nose, then leans forward. “Since you asked so nicely.”

Seokjin grins, kisses Namjoon again. It sends a thrill through him, doing this in the office, knowing that Hoseok could walk back in at any moment.

“See you later?” Namjoon asks, his hand on the door.

“Of course,” Seokjin says. “Mine?”

Namjoon nods and steps out. Seokjin’s about to sit back down when the door swings open once more. “Congratulations, again, hyung,” Namjoon says.

“I barely did anything, compared to you,” Seokjin laughs. “Congratulations, Joonie.”

Seokjin waits for a few more minutes before Hoseok bounds back in the room. “Meetings cancelled,” he says, grinning. “Let’s get drinks.”

Seokjin laughs, picks up his things, and follows Hoseok out. “Fucking Naver,” Hoseok says under his breath. He turns to Seokjin, a crazed look in his eye. “Can you believe it?”

“No,” Seokjin says, laughing a little, feeling a mix of euphoria and concern.

“Oh,” Hoseok stops so abruptly Seokjin almost bumps into him. “Have you seen Namjoon?”

“Yeah,” Seokjin says, nonplussed. “I—he dropped by the meeting room when he heard the news.”

“Nice,” Hoseok’s smile gets even wider. “Text him! Tell him we’re getting drinks.”

Word has spread fast across the office, and everyone that passes them either claps them each on the back, or shakes their hands. Through the commotion Seokjin manages to fish his phone out of his pocket. Hoseok said celebratory drinks, he texts.

Of course. See you there :)

They all converge in the bar nearest the office, a cafe by day that served drinks at night. Unsurprisingly, Yoongi, Jimin, and Taehyung are there by the time Hoseok and Seokjin arrive.

Jimin and Taehyung leap up from the couch and collide into Hoseok. They hug and jump for a while, making wild, happy sounds.

Seokjin slides in to sit beside Yoongi, and they share a happy, exhausted smile. “Worth it,” Yoongi says simply, and Seokjin nods.

Yoongi hands him a beer and they clink their bottles together, waiting patiently for the three to calm down from their high. Eventually, Namjoon and Jungkook arrive, and they’re engulfed as well. Seokjin orders a new round of drinks.

“Congratulations,” Namjoon says, reaching over to shake Yonngi’s hand before he sits down. “Have you heard from Bang daepyonim?”

Yoongi and Seokjin shake their heads. “Haven’t you?” Seokjin asks.

“No,” Namjoon says, just as he checks his phone again. “But—“

“Yeah,” Seokjin finishes. “You should.”

Namjoon nods at Yoongi, then smiles at Seokjin as he stands, phone already raised to his ear. They all know that Namjoon is the favorite; he’s been in Big Hit the longest, and Bang Si-Hyuk always cared more about creative work than the business end of things. Namjoon smiles when—Seokjin assumes—Bang daepyonim answers the phone. Namjoon jumps a little, happiness flooding his whole body.

Yoongi knocks his knee against Seokjin’s, and that’s the only time Seokjin realizes he’s been staring. Yoongi laughs.

“Going well, then?” He asks, pouring Seokjin a shot of Soju.

“Casual,” Seokjin answers, before knocking the shot back.

 

 

 

It’s the first time since the first time that Seokjin finds himself inadvertently spending the weekend holed up in Namjoon’s apartment. But they spend less time having sex, and more time with Seokjin in Namjoon’s pajamas, lounging around and reading, or watching movies and eating. On Saturday night, Seokjin lays down on Namjoon’s lap, and after a slow, lazy blowjob, Namjoon plays with his hair and reads to him.

He falls asleep like that, and wakes on Sunday morning on Namjoon’s bed. They talk a bit more, and after all this time, Seokjin’s pretty sure he’s gotten Namjoon figured out, for all his facets. Quiet and soft with his plants at home, strong and in control when at work, clumsy for all his strength. It’s not so far from the picture of his first impression of Namjoon, which makes it even more fascinating.

Usually, at this point, the sheen would have faded. It’s not like there have been too many to have reached this point in the first place, but based on experience, Seokjin moves on once his curiosity is sated. Still, somehow, he wants to know more. He wants it all.

Seokjin catches himself in this train of thought when he finally lets himself into his apartment on Sunday evening. Then he realizes some more, and he can’t stop realizing, and then he’s standing in the middle of his hallway wearing Namjoon’s shirt, and he’s fucked, isn’t he? He’s fucked.

He throws his clothes into the washing machine, takes a shower, and tries not to have a panic attack. It’s a close thing; through the steam rising around him, he lets out a small, hysterical laugh, then stops himself.

 


 

It’s been a whole week since Seokjin and Namjoon have gone home together. It’s not like it’s hard, or that Seokjin has to work at it. Winning the Naver account meant executing their grand plan, and Seokjin and Yoongi combed through the clients’ own data, marrying it with their strategy. Namjoon hadn’t asked, and Seokjin was grateful for it; as he lay awake on Sunday night, he’d decided that the next time should be the last time. What he can’t figure out is if he’s brave enough to actually do it—and he doesn’t want to examine that too closely, not yet.

By the time Seokjin looks up from his laptop, the office is dark, and the only people left in the office are him, Yoongi, and Hoseok.

“We should probably go,” Seokjin says, pushing away from his desk, his chair following some unknown natural arc and making him bump against Hoseok. Seokjin laughs, pokes Hoseok’s side. “Hoseok.”

“In a minute,” Hoseok says, clicking around his laptop.

“Yoongi,” Seokjin calls, pushing himself off Hoseok’s desk, then dragging himself back to his and Yoongi’s desk. “Yoongi,” he repeats, resting his head on Yoongi’s shoulder.

Yoongi only grunts in response.

“Oh come on,” Seokjin huffs, standing up. “If you don’t pack up in five minutes, I’m leaving.”

“Okay,” they both answer.

“Hey!” Seokjin yelps. “It’s Friday night! What happened to my friends?”

“Naver,” Yoongi says, pushing his glasses up his nose.

Hoseok swivels in his chair to look up at Seokjin. “You should go ahead, hyung. I’m almost done, and I promise I’ll drag Yoongi-hyung out of here if it’s the last thing I do.”

“If you try and drag me anywhere it will be the last thing you do,” Yoong mutters.

“I got this,” Hoseok says confidently.

Seokjin snorts. “I know.” When he finishes packing up his things, he turns to Yoongi, then to Hoseok, who are both still focused on their laptops. “I’m leaving,” he says, a touch hopefully.

“Enjoy what’s left of Friday,” Yoongi says, reaching around his chair to squeeze Seokjin’s arm.

Seokjin sighs. “Hoseok?”

“You know me,” Hoseok says. “I gotta stay to make sure Yoongi actually leaves.”

“Liar,” Yoongi says. “Bet I’ll be the one packing up and asking you to wrap up.”

Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Okay, I’m leaving both of you. If you’re looking for a desk to fuck on, Sulwhasoo’s art team has the sturdiest—”

“Hyung!” Hoseok cries out, scandalized.

Seokjin laughs all the way to the elevator.

He’s still chuckling to himself as the doors slide open, and Namjoon steps out.

“Oh,” Seokjin says, and he doesn’t really know what to do with his mouth, with his face, with his hands. Maybe it’s the hour, or that the long week is finally over, but seeing Namjoon is a relief.

“Hey,” Namjoon says, tone clipped.

“Why are you—”

“Left my laptop,” Namjoon says, already walking toward the door. He’s halfway through the door when he stops and turns back to Seokjin. “Hold the elevator for me?”

After the previous weekend’s almost-meltdown, Seokjin knows he shouldn’t. He should just let this thing between them die a natural death, preach distance and practice aloofness. But there’s a tight set to Namjoon’s jaw, and Seokjin’s seen disappointment in Namjoon’s face (when faced with lackluster copy from Jungkook, or a bad proof from Taehyung), seen frustration once or twice (when Jimin had mixed up deadlines, causing them to work overtime). But this? This is new.

So Seokjin holds the door to the elevator open and waits.

Namjoon comes out seconds later, laptop in hand. “Thanks,” he says, stepping in.

They’re quiet in the elevator, and Namjoon breathes out through his nose. His jaw is still clenched, and Seokjin is intrigued.

“What happened?” he asks. He can’t explain why, doesn’t want to, but he steps towards Namjoon, keeps moving towards him until he crosses the gulf of space between them and rests his hand on Namjoon’s elbow. At his touch, Namjoon turns to him, surprised.

“Nothing,” he says, relaxing a little. “Something urgent came up, and of course they’re all out already, and this suit can’t manage their client properly. Couldn’t make them wait until Monday. I was halfway home and I realized I left my laptop in the office, with all the RAW files, so.” Namjoon grunts, annoyed, and rubs his temples.

Seokjin takes Namjoon’s hand, cradles it in his own, and tiptoes a little to press his lips to where Namjoon’s fingers were.

Namjoon lets out a shaky breath.

Seokjin takes a step back, shocked at himself. Then he switches tact, on instinct. “Want me to come home with you?”

Namjoon turns to him, a rueful smile on his lips. “I have to work.”

Seokjin shrugs. “I can wait. I haven’t eaten, so maybe I’ll get something to eat while you do what you need to do.” He links his arm with Namjoon’s. “Besides. Don’t you want to blow off some steam?”

Namjoon huffs out a laugh. “Point.”

So they head to Namjoon’s, and Seokjin eats through all of Namjoon’s leftovers while watching a replay of the week’s Music Bank. Namjoon stays beside him on the couch, his toes tucked under Seokjin’s thigh, and Seokjin hates the way warmth spreads from his chest at the easy intimacy, but at the same time basks in it, tries to hoard every bright moment between them.

At odd intervals, Namjoon leans over with his laptop and asks Seokjin what he thinks of the design, then later on, of the copy. It’s well past midnight when Namjoon finally shuts his laptop and moves around to flop onto Seokjin’s lap.

“Hooray!” Seokjin cheers, smushing Namjoon’s face between his hands.

“Hooray,” Namjoon echoes, the word muffled.

Seokjin laughs, and as he leans down, Namjoon rises up to kiss him.

 

 

Seokjin wakes up in Namjoon’s bed alone, and for a brief, wild moment, he hates it. He wants—wanted—to wake up with Namjoon’s arms around him, cuddled up to Namjoon’s warmth. The realization only strengthens his resolve; he’s overstayed his welcome, and now he needs to cut loose. Anything else is unfathomable.

Which doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, and Seokjin mopes for a while, staying in bed and only getting up when he hears something sizzling in a pan. He gets dressed slowly, completely: socks, underwear, jeans. Shirt, watch, jacket.

He finds Namjoon in the kitchen.

“Oh,” Namjoon says, looking shocked to see Seokjin fully dressed. Another sign that this has to end, Seokjin thinks to himself, because Namjoon was expecting him to stay. “I cooked eggs.”

Seokjin nods, and Namjoon tells him to sit, so he does. He drinks the glass of orange juice that Namjoon pours for him. They eat in silence, and Namjoon tilts his head at Seokjin, confused.

“What’s wrong?”

Under the table, Seokjin pinches himself. Get on with it.

“We can’t date.” After Seokjin says it, he looks up to check Namjoon’s reaction.

“Okay…?” Namjoon furrows his eyebrows, confused.

“I’m saying this because we’re acting like we’re dating.”

“Who—Can you expound on that, please?”

Seokjin expected this, for Namjoon not to let it go easily. “I mean,” he explains. “We don’t act casual. Casual doesn’t usually include cuddling at night, or breakfast.”

Namjoon’s brow furrows as he picks at his food. “I think actions only hold weight when we give them meaning beyond the present.”

An annoyed sound escapes from Seokjin’s lips. “Uh, no,” he says, gathering himself. “Actions—no, it’s too early for us to debate on the inherent meaning of any physical act, Namjoon.”

“Okay, noted on this other arbitrary limitation,” Namjoon says, setting his chopsticks down.

Seokjin sputters. “Do you do this with everyone you sleep with?”

“Not particularly.”

It shouldn’t, but that warms something inside Seokjin. He pushes past it. “I don't like this,” he says, pushing his plate away. Again, changing tact, being more direct. “I’m not having fun anymore.”

Namjoon’s face falls, but he’s quick to cover it up. “Okay.”

At this, Seokjin balks. He was ready for another round of verbal sparring. “Wait. What?”

“What do you mean, what?”

“You’re not going to fight me over it?”

“No, why should I?” Namjoon frowns again, clenches his jaw.

Somehow, Seokjin feels knocked off balance. He was supposed to be the one in charge, so why does he feel hurt?

“But you want this—” he starts. “You want more from me. You want to be with me.”

Namjoon raises an eyebrow. “Don’t project.”

“Project!” Seokjin repeats, affronted. He takes a moment and breathes, trying to calm down.

Namjoon raises his eyebrows in question, as if goading him to explain himself. “Well you’re clearly running away from something—so tell me.” Namjoon’s sighs, his jaw clenching before he speaks. “Are you afraid of getting hurt?”

The question hits Seokjin like a punch to the gut. “No,” he says, easily, like it’s the truth. “Of hurting.”

“And so what’s all this?”

“A preemptive measure.” He knows Namjoon too much now, and knows that if anyone deserves honesty, it’s him. It makes it even clearer, then, that he can't give it to him. Won't, for his own sanity's sake. “We can't take this any further.”

“I never said that we should,” Namjoon says.

“Those words mean different things.” Seokjin rubs at his nose, annoyed. “Of course you still manage to make me argue fucking semantics with you right now, but I’m telling you that I am literally am incapable of taking this any further.”

“Can I ask why not?”

Seokjin tries not to shrink into himself. So that means you wanted to? You wanted to, too?

“I just—I can’t. I don’t want to.” Because he may want it now, but he knows he won’t want it longer than that. He thinks of every single heartbreak. He remembers Chanyeol, and it’s still so clear to him, vivid and bright. He can still hear the rush of Hangang, can smell the rancid smell of his own puke.

Namjoon scoffs. “What, you just decide that every day? Today i’m not going to fall in love, is that how it is?”

At this, Seokjin’s head shoots up, and he can feel the bile rising up his esophagus. “Love?” Seokjin almost screams. “Love?”

Namjoon waves him off. “Well, is it?”

“I don't know, and frankly i can’t bear finding that out!” Seokjin does shout now, stands up with the force of it. “Is it that for you?”

Namjoon shakes his head, his disappointment radiating off in waves. “Coward,” he says, softly, and if it wasn’t so quiet in the apartment, Seokjin wouldn’t have heard him.

“I guess so,” Seokjin says, slipping into cold fury. And if Namjoon thinks Seokjin is a coward then let him think he’s petty, too, so Seokjin doesn't hold back when he says, “I wasn’t having fun with you anymore, anyway.”

Namjoon rolls his eyes, starts clearing up the table. “Tell that to your abandonment issues.”

Seokjin repeats the phrase to himself, growing more offended by the second. This is better—this is easier. Anger is easier.

“Abandonment issues, huh? Okay, go ahead. How else have you psychoanalyzed me?”

“I barely need to. You hold everyone at arms’ length and you have these—these rules about keeping things casual, which probably means someone hurt you before, and that’s fine. If that’s how you want to live, then go ahead. I’m not here to stop you.” Namjoon’s back has been turned to him as he speaks, and at the end of his little speech, he seems to deflate, but only marginally.

Why not? The question forms in Seokjin’s brain, travels down his nape, and dies on his tongue.

“Okay,” he says, instead. “I see what you think of me.”

“No, you really don’t. But if it helps you to make me the villain, then by all means.”

“You don’t know me,” Seokjin hisses.

“No,” Namjoon agrees. “I guess I don’t.”

“And you’re the one! Who waited after work for me!” Seokjin says, standing up and picking up his bag from where he left it last night.

“I was working. And you did the same thing to me.” Namjoon’s tone is irritatingly calm. Seokjin almost prefers rancor that could match his own.

“You asked me on dates!” Seokjin continues, and his face feels hot, his whole body feels hot, he feels he might explode. He knows what he wants, and he’s getting what he wants, but he didn’t want it like this.

“I didn’t consider them dates, at the time.”

“I didn’t either!” Seokjin says shrilly, and only then does he realize he’s been pacing.

“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says, turning around to finally, finally face Seokjin again. “I think you lost me. So what did I do exactly, that broke your rules?”

Nothing, everything, you made me want to break my own rules and that’s the greatest betrayal of them all. “This is why I don’t date,” Seokjin says, stopping by the door. “I hate—all of this. The mess. The fighting. It never ends well.”

Namjoon is still standing by the kitchen sink, watching him. “I’m not the one who picked a fight. And I’m not the one who said we were dating.”

“Oh just admit it, admit that you like me so we can just end this farce. Stop acting as if you’re so unaffected—” Seokjin’s hand is on the doorknob, and he rests his head against the wood, the fight suddenly flying out of him. “What do you want?”

“Only what you’re willing to give,” Namjoon says, walking towards Seokjin. Seokjin can feel his presence, far enough that Seokjin can still breathe, can still run out.

He’s horrified to find out he doesn’t want to, even after all this.

“You could've said no, any of those times,” Namjoon says. He lets out a sad, painful laugh. “I was ready for you to say no. But you never did. You drive me crazy, Seokjin, and that’s the truth. I’ve never allowed myself to think beyond that, because you have rules, and I did my best to follow your lead. And now we’re here. So—so if you mean it when you say this isn’t fun anymore, that you don’t want to do this…”

Namjoon trails off, stays quiet long enough that Seokjin turns around to look at him. “Then I respect your decision,” Namjoon says, eyes downcast.

This is it, Seokjin realizes. The moment he needs to make a decision: chase, or be chased after. He thinks of every moment he’s ever gotten his heart broken, every time he’d taken a risk, made himself vulnerable—and the decision is painfully clear.

“Thank you,” Seokjin says, turning the doorknob to Namjoon’s apartment, and leaving.

 


 

Seokjin’s surprised to find that he doesn’t dread coming into work on Monday. What he is surprised about, though, is that seeing Namjoon hurts. It’s a strange ache inside him, and he didn’t realize that leaving yesterday actually meant loss.

From his desk, he can hear Namjoon talking—discussing briefs, giving Jungkook direction, running through the deadlines for the week with Jimin. It grates at Seokjin, and he isn’t thinking as he turns around and snaps: “Can’t you book a room if you’re going to have a meeting?”

The creative team’s heads all snap up from Jimin’s laptop to look at him.

“Excuse me?” Namjoon asks, eyebrows drawn together.

Taehyung, Jimin, and Jungkook exchange glances.

Seokjin sucks in a breath. “I mean, if you’re having a meeting,” he says haltingly, the embarrassment over his small outburst now sinking inside him. “It’d be good if you went in a meeting room for it.”

Namjoon’s face shifts, annoyed to impassive, in the span of a second. “Sure,” he says, picking up his laptop. “Didn’t realize we were breaking a rule by catching up at our desk,” he adds, before striding off.

Again, the juniors exchange looks, then hurry after Namjoon. As they pass Seokjin, they murmur their apologies, and more than ever, Seokjin wishes he didn’t know them so well. He wishes he didn’t know that as soon as the door to the closest meeting room shut, they’d all turn to Namjoon with questions on their lips, and Namjoon would silence them with a firm hand up and say something like: “These are the priority projects for the week.”

 

 

Lunch is a strange affair. Seokjin sits in his usual spot, directly in front of Namjoon, and smiles at him. Namjoon nods to him in response and continues to talk to Yoongi.

Jimin arrives last. “So how was your weekend?” he asks, as he slides into his seat.

Seokjin catches Namjoon’s back straighten a little, and only then does he realize that his own shoulders have hunched up. “Fine,” Seokjin answers, making an effort to relax his posture. “Yours?”

“Oh I just watched some movies at home,” Jimin says, spooning soup into his mouth. “Did you and Namjoonie-hyung do anything fun?”

At this, Namjoon snorts.

The table goes silent, punctuated by distant laughter from other tables and the low thrum of conversation.

Jungkook looks at both of them. “Are you two fighting?” he asks.

Hoseok drops his chopsticks.

“No,” Seokjin says, scrambling. Namjoon watches him, expressionless. “We’re fine.”

Namjoon nods, scoffs, then stands up and leaves.

 

 

The rest of the week is agony. In Seokjin’s mind, it should all make sense; it should be fine. Namjoon hadn’t tried to stop him, hadn’t tried to talk to him since, and Seokjin can’t explain why he wants Namjoon to do exactly that. In all his experience with office flings turned sour, they’d all tried to make it work. Bent over backwards to keep him, or at least have him one more time. To play by his rules.

As Seokjin’s washing his hands, he looks at himself in the mirror and thinks: Maybe he didn’t like me that much, after all.

But all signs pointed otherwise, and it’s not like Seokjin’s ego is that inflated. They all joke about how good he looks, him most of all, but he never really means it. It’s just that he’d caught Namjoon looking at him, back then, and the fondness was unmistakable.

In any case, it’s beneath him to continue to puzzle over Namjoon’s shift in behavior; if Namjoon wants to act like a petulant child, then that’s on him. In fact, he’s so busy not thinking of Namjoon that he doesn’t think twice when he accepts a calendar invite from Hoseok that reads: [URGENT] NAVER CAMPAIGN. So when Seokjin enters the meeting room to see Hoseok and Namjoon already seated, all he can think is: Well, that’s on me.

“Okay,” Hoseok says, dragging out the vowel as he clicks around his laptop to flash his presentation on screen. “First things first, don’t kill me.”

Seokjin begins to massage his temples.

“Presentation on Tuesday,” Hoseok says, and Seokjin and Namjoon both sit up a little straighter.

“That’s four days from now,” Namjoon grunts. “How big is the project?”

Seokjin doesn’t miss the way Hoseok keeps glancing nervously at both of them across the room as he goes through the brief.

When they finally get to the requirements, Hoseok winces. “So, since we need to launch a new feature—” Hoseok’s phone begins to buzz violently on the table, and he pauses to glance at it. “Client. Wait,” he says, as he stands up abruptly and walks out.

And just like that, the air in the room shifts, fills with tension.

“How was your week?” Seokjin ventures, trying desperately to be normal. This is the first time he and Namjoon have been alone since the weekend, and he’ll never admit it out loud, but he’s missed Namjoon. The realization hits him like a train.

“Fine,” Namjoon answers.

Seokjin’s annoyed by the clipped response, but is undeterred; he tries to think of something else to say, only to distracted by the sound of Namjoon tapping his pen against the table.

“Stop that,” Seokjin snaps.

“What now,” Namjoon groans, rolling his eyes.

“That,” Seokjin says, gesturing to Namjoon’s pen. “It’s annoying.”

Namjoon’s grip tightens around the pen, and for a moment, Seokjin thinks that Namjoon’s about to throw it across the room. Instead, he sets it down gently on the table.

Seokjin rubs his face with his hands. He’s feeling too much, from missing Namjoon to wanting to strangle him to wishing he’d just pretended that nothing was wrong and maybe then they wouldn’t be here.

“Why aren’t you talking to me?” Seokjin asks, and his hand flies to cover his mouth.

Namjoon groans, scrubs his face, and turns to Seokjin. “What the fuck do you want from me?”

“What? I—nothing,” Seokjin tries to backtrack. “I just want us to be friends again.”

“Friends,” Namjoon repeats, disbelief clear in his features.

“I know we didn’t exactly end on the best terms last Sunday,” Seokjin says softly. He hadn’t planned for this conversation, but it seems a waste to let the moment go. He doesn’t know when he and Namjoon will be alone in a room like this again. “But I was hoping—”

“No,” Namjoon says, gathering his things and standing.

“What?”

“I said no,” Namjoon repeats. He pauses by the door. “You’re not the only one with an instinct for self-preservation.”

Seokjin’s half out of his seat as Hoseok passes Namjoon. Through the open door, he hears Namjoon say, “Give the brief to Taehyung.”

 


 

On Friday, as usual, Yoongi meets him by the subway entrance. The commute passes in relative silence.

“Plans this weekend?” Seokjin asks.

Yoongi looks away, and Seokjin tilts his head in response. Then Yoongi’s head snaps back to look at Seokjin. “Don’t you?” he asks, scrutinizing.

“No,” Seokjin says, incredulous.

“Right,” Yoongi says after a moment. “Hoseok mentioned that you all agreed to just work overtime on Monday for the Naver project, but what about N—”

“Yeah, no,” Seokjin says, cutting Yoongi off easily.

“Well,” Yoongi considers him. “I’m free tonight.”

“Perfect.”

 

At 5:30, Jimin slides onto Seokjin’s shared desk with Yoongi, his computer balanced precariously on his lap. At 6, he slams his laptop shut and begins tugging on Yoongi’s sleeve.

“Let’s go,” he pleads.

“Wait,” Yoongi says, curt as usual. Seokjin eyes them both, but says nothing.

Then Taehyung takes the empty seat beside Yoongi and taps his foot against Yoongi’s shin. “Hyung,” he says. “Hyung.” He drags the vowels out.

“Wait,” Yoongi repeats, flapping a hand at him while continuing to type with the other.

“Aren’t we going yet?” Jungkook half-shouts, three tables down. “Yoongi-hyung. Hyung, you said six.”

“Aigoo,” Yoongi whines, throwing his head back in surrender.

“Going?” Seokjin finally asks. “Where are you going?” He’s a little hurt that Yoongi suddenly made plans, especially since they’d agreed this morning—then it all clicks together. “You told them.” It’s not a question.

“They asked me,” Yoongi whines. “You know how they are.”

“Why did you only want to go out with Yoongi-hyung?” Taehyung asks, pouting.

“Well—“ And at that moment, Seokjin realizes that he doesn’t know what to say. He glances around and realizes that Namjoon isn’t there.

Jungkook follows his gaze. “He’s been in meetings all day.” Before Seokjin can correct him, can begin to defend him and say, I wasn’t looking—

“I’m here!” The door to the office flies open and Hoseok scampers in, clutching a messy sheaf of papers to his chest, his laptop holding it all up. “Sorry, the briefing ran long.”

“All good,” Yoongi says, shutting his laptop.

Seokjin huffs. So everyone’s invited. Yoongi gives him a conciliatory pat on the shoulder. “Okay,” Seokjin says. “Let’s go.”

 

 

The man at the bar has been making eyes at Seokjin all night, and after his fifth drink Seokjin finally decides to do something about it. “Refills?” He asks, standing up. It’s not a real offer; Yoongi and Hoseok wave him off, and Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook left to dance two drinks ago.

Seokjin stands by the bar, leans forward a little to catch the bartender’s attention. He made sure to stay near enough the guy—tall and lean and well dressed. He looks over his shoulder and their eyes meet.

“Hey,” he says.

“Hi,” Seokjin smiles, leans back against the bar.

“Let me buy you a drink?”

Seokjin tilts his head towards the bartender, still busy with other customers. He does it mostly to elongate his neck, and he doesn’t need to hear it to know the man sucked in a breath at the sight. He’s missed this, how easy it is. It’s almost second nature, and he’s buoyed by the confidence of the game being rigged in his favor.

The man steps closer, their knees knocking together, as he leans over and waves over the bartender. Their bodies are almost completely flush against each other, and Seokjin only has to look up for their eyes to meet. He smiles slowly, and the man bends down, one hand falling to Seokjin’s waist.

“Hyung!”

Seokjin groans, rolls his eyes, and turns his head. The man above him huffs out a laugh, steps away.

“What.”

Taehyung is standing in front of them, flanked by Jimin and Jungkook. “We—” he starts, looks helplessly at Jimin.

“Hoseok-hyung was looking for you. You said you were going to get drinks, right?” Jungkook pipes up.

“Well, I don’t have them.”

“I do!” Jimin chirps, holding up a bottle of whiskey, and okay, maybe Seokjin is drunk because he hadn’t even noticed that Jimin had left. “Let’s go!”

“Go ahead,” Seokjin says, waving them off. But Taehyung takes him by the elbow and Seokjin sighs, waves goodbye to the hot man by the bar, and follows. There’s no point pushing it now—there never is, when the three are intent on anything.

As soon as they get back to the table, Jungkook pours them drinks and passes them around while Jimin tells them about how someone tried to dance with Taehyung. Seokjin smiles through the story, then turns to Yoongi to tell him about the guy and stops.

Hoseok has managed to fall asleep, his head on Yoongi’s shoulder. That’s standard. Yoongi’s arm around Hoseok’s shoulders? Acceptable, too, Yoongi’s always been more affectionate than people think. But what stops Seokjin is the look on Yoongi’s face—fondness.

As if on cue, Hoseok wakes up with a start, and mumbles an apology that’s drowned out by the music. Then Hoseok nuzzles closer, tips his head up a little. Behind him, Seokjin hears Jimin coo. Seokjin’s head is beginning to buzz, a mix of alcohol and shock, because he’d always suspected, but Yoongi had never said anything—

Yoongi huffs out a small laugh, presses his lips to Hoseok’s forehead.

“Oh, come on!” Seokjin snaps.

Distantly, he hears Taehyung say, “Huh?”

Yoongi looks up at him, a frown beginning to form. “What?”

“No one needs to see that,” Seokjin says, annoyed. Then, as an afterthought: “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”

Yoongi straightens up a little and takes a deep breath. “Don’t take your heartbreak out on me,” Yoongi says, and if he was sober, Seokjin would’ve recoiled at the venom in Yoongi’s voice, but he’s not, so it only makes him angrier. “If you’re mad at yourself, fine, but don’t you dare act as if no one else in the world is allowed to be happy just because you’re sad.”

“Hey,” Jimin says gently.

“Fuck you,” Seokjin hisses, standing up. He doesn’t spare them a backward glance as he leaves, weaving his way through the throng of bodies moving to the beat. Once he steps out of the club, he sobers up and feels suddenly, completely alone.

He shakes it off and starts walking, not knowing where he’s going or what he’s looking for—until he sees it. Namjoon did say that he wasn’t the only one with instincts for self-preservation, and Seokjin knows what works for him, what helps.

He makes a sharp turn into a packed club, undoes the first three buttons of his shirt, and orders a shot at the bar. This, he’s familiar with. This, he can work with. How can he be lonely when he has the whole Seoul at his hands, ready for the taking?

 

 

 

Seokjin gets home at ten and makes waffles. Then he sends Yoongi a text: Apology breakfast ready.

A few minutes pass before Seokjin hears the doorbell ring.

“This is exactly what I signed up for when I said we should live in the same building,” Yoongi says, walking into Seokjin’s apartment as soon as he opens the door. “But your apology will be accepted depending on how crispy the waffles are.”

“Very,” Seokjin says, following him in. “I have strawberry jam, too.”

“Good,” Yoongi says, sitting down.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

“No,” Seokjin sighs, pouring them each a cup of coffee. “I don’t think you do, really.”

Yoongi slathers butter on his waffles. “So tell me.”

Seokjin’s throat closes up. “Tell me about you and Hoseok, first,” he says.

Yoongi waves him off. “We’re dating. I’m happy. He’s happy. We don’t talk about work as soon as we leave the office. It’s good.”

Seokjin smiles, reaches over and pats Yoongi’s hand. “I’m happy, then.”

“Of course you are,” Yoongi says, sparing Seokjin a small smile in response. Then, he goes back to business: “Now tell me what happened.”

So Seokjin does. Yoongi eats one more waffle as Seokjin tells him about the warning signs, their conversation, and what happened over the past week. When he’s done, Seokjin sighs. “I can’t stand it. I just want us to be okay.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why? Because he’s a good friend.”

“Is he?”

Seokjin frowns. “I don’t like what you’re implying.”

“I don’t need to imply anything. You were barely friends before you fucked, and now you’re here, making me apology breakfast because you acted out because of your heartbreak.”

“I’m not heartbroken!” Seokjin shouts, banging his hand on the table.

Yoongi stares at him. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I—I just miss talking to him,” Seokjin admits.

Yoongi tilts his head, assessing him. “Just talking?”

“Well, since you asked, the sex was good too,” Seokjin says, teasing, trying to throw Yoongi off.

It doesn’t work.

“Have you not been laid since?”

“Of course I have!”

“So…?” Yoongi hums, waiting for more.

“I mean it’s different,” Seokjin says defensively.

“Why?”

“Whose side are you on?” Seokjin can feel his hackles rising.

“No one’s.”

Seokjin reaches over to take Yoongi’s plate. “Apology breakfast revoked.”

“Overruled,” Yoongi says, snatching his plate away and holding it away from Seokjin. “I deserve so many apology breakfasts. You are being such a child, it’s unbelievable.”

“I’m still your hyung!”

“Then act like it!” Yoong snaps.

Seokjin takes a deep breath. “Look! I can’t just—I can’t just go up to him and say, ‘Hey I miss being your friend and also fucking. Would you consider doing that again?’”

Yoongi puts down his plate and snorts. “You know that that means dating, right? That you were dating.”

“Well that’s why I called it off!”

“Okay, and so…” Yoongi trails off and waits for Seokjin to speak. At Seokjin’s silence, he sighs. “I need you to say it. That you want to date him.”

“I—I don’t want to date anyone.”

“Sure. Just Namjoon, right?”

“Why are you doing this to me?” Seokjin groans, scrubbing his face in frustration.

Yoongi chews on his waffle, then swallows before speaking. “Because it’s time someone finally knocked some sense into you.”

“I can’t! I can’t do it,” Seokjin says, deflating.

“Why not?”

“Because—because I don’t want to fall in love with anyone, okay? It’s just.” Seokjin gestures around vaguely. “Easier to not do that.”

“At this point, what do you have to lose?” Yoongi asks, and Seokjin feels something break open inside him.

“All this!” Seokjin gestures around his apartment. “All my weekends will be with him, and we work in the same office, and what if I want to see other people? What if I want to go somewhere and he doesn’t want to go with me? What if—” Seokjin balks. “What if he finds someone else.”

Yoongi reaches over and takes Seokjin’s hand in his. “Hey,” he says. “You’ve let that ruin your life long enough. You’re better than that, and you deserve better than that.”

“I know,” Seokjin mumbles. He draws his hand away from Yoongi and drizzles syrup over his waffle, and they eat in silence.

Then Yoong nods and clears his throat. “I think you jumped straight into dissonance-reducing behavior—”

Seokjin’s head snaps up from his waffles. “Are you using fucking marketing terms on me right now?”

“Stay with me. I just mean that you think that you’ve convinced yourself into thinking that these are the only options available, and you chose, and now you’re regretting it. Right?”

“Okay.” Seokjin tries not to roll his eyes. “Fucking buyer behavior,” he mutters under his breath.

“But, the risk is much higher. Do you recognize that?”

At this, Seokjin does roll his eyes. “Sure, make this a complex buyer behavior study, fuck’s sake.”

“Exactly. What are the risks? The rewards?”

“You assume that I want to buy something at all,” Seokjin snaps.

“Tell me right now that you don’t want to be with Namjoon and I’ll drop it.”

Seokjin is silent. “I don’t know,” he says despairingly. “How do you know, anyway? How did you know—”

“You just do,” Yoongi says simply.

Seokjin groans. “Eat your waffle. I prefer it when you’re not speaking.”

Yoongi laughs, and for a few moments, leaves Seokjin in peace.

“You know who else deserves apology breakfast—”

“Don’t start with me, Min Yoongi.”

“Maybe even a whole brunch spread…”

“Get out.”

 


 

The realization comes to Seokjin as he’s doing his laundry on Sunday. It starts with, this is really the sign of adulthood, isn’t it. Doing your laundry.

Then, like a car careening from the opposite lane, he thinks, the other sign is recognizing when you’ve made a mistake and owning up to it.

“What the fuck,” Seokjin says, as the machine shifts into spin cycle.

 


 

Monday passes in a blur, and next thing Seokjin knows, the sun has set and Yoongi has gone home. The office is half-empty, other teams working overtime on their own projects.

Hoseok must have noticed Seokjin taking stock of the office, because he rolls up to Seokjin and says, “Dinner’s on the way.”

“Thanks,” Seokjin says. “I was thinking of getting coffee. Want anything?”

“No, I’m still okay.”

Seokjin grabs a post-it and walks up to the creative team, who are all quietly working. “I’m getting coffee,” he says.

“Oh, I can get it, hyung,” Jimin says, sitting up.

“It’s fine, I wanted to stretch my legs before we grind.”

“Oh, you’re sure?” Jimin asks, just as Taehyung says, “Hot chocolate, please.”

“Iced mocha, please,” Jungkook says, and Seokjin takes down notes.

“Jimin?”

“Iced latte?”

“Got it.”

“Do you want me to ask Namjoon—”

“Oh, he’s still here?” Seokjin scribbles down iced americano, one pump classic syrup.

“Yeah,” Jimin looks at Seokjin’s post-it, then back up at Seokjin. “He’s in Room B.”

Oh, Seokjin thinks, looking down at Namjoon’s coffee order. He looks up at Jimin, who is smiling softly at him.

Seokjin turns and walks into the meeting room.

Namjoon’s focused on his laptop, and only looks up when Seokjin closes the door behind him.

“I know your coffee order,” Seokjin says.

“Okay,” Namjoon nods, waiting for an explanation.

Seokjin feels a little crazed. Maybe he should have gotten coffee first. Then again, maybe not. “I mean, first of all—first of all, I’m sorry for last week. I shouldn’t have acted that way.”

Namjoon nods, confused. “Okay?”

“I know your coffee order,” Seokjin repeats. “Do you know mine?”

“Caramel macchiato, iced, upside down. Wait—what’s happening? Am I missing something?”

Seokjin feels his heart swell. “I made a mistake,” he says, emotions roiling inside him and spilling out of him. “I mean, we know each other’s coffee orders, and I’ve just been so afraid, but—” Seokjin stops, breathes.

Namjoon stands up, sits down, then stands up again. “You’re freaking me out,” he says, finally settling down. He opens and closes his fists. “Are you going to pick a fight with me again?”

“No,” Seokjin says emphatically. “I’m trying to tell you that I know your coffee order.”

“I think that’s been established,” Namjoon says, a little breathlessly.

“And I realized,” Seokjin starts again, and finds himself pacing in the small room. Three strides, turn, three strides, turn. “I realized that I made a mistake when I said that I wanted to stop doing what we were doing. I—I want to know your coffee order, is what I’m saying. And that scares me.”

Namjoon nods, looking bewildered.

“I don’t think I’m following.”

“I—I’m going to stop using coffee as a metaphor.”

“I think that would be for the best,” Namjoon says, and Seokjin catches him trying to bite back a smile.

“Don’t laugh at me!” Seokjin cries out. “I’m trying to tell you that I—” Seokjin falters. “That I,” he tries again. “Do you know that you’re the only one who’s ever said no to me?”

“What? When?”

“Just—last week! You just let me leave, and that—that drove me crazy!”

“Okay, like, how dare I respect your boundaries, right?”

“No!” Seokjin yelps. “I mean—yes, of course respect my boundaries, but you know, I—” Seokjin runs a hand through his hair, feeling wild. “Before I say anything else I need to know if you like me.”

Namjoon’s face scrunches up. “What?”

“Because I’m pretty sure I like you, is the thing, and I’m horrified by the idea that you’ll stop liking me first, and I’m not sure where we stand on that right now.”

“Of course I like you,” Namjoon says, looking stricken.

“You didn’t seem to like me last week.”

“In my defense, you told me that we should stop whatever that was that we were doing, then come Monday just immediately picked fights with me.”

“That’s fair,” Seokjin says. “And again, I’m sorry for acting like an asshole. It was probably a defense mechanism, but that’s no excuse.”

Namjoon’s eyes are wide, and he nods. “Okay.”

“The thing is,” Seokjin starts, “I’m just afraid. Of a lot of things, when it comes to dating, and relationships in general.”

“I understand.”

“I’m not done.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Sorry, it’s just hard for me to verbalize,” Seokjin gestures at his chest. “There’s a lot going on.”

“I can feel that.”

Seokjin shoots Namjoon a look.

“I wasn’t being sarcastic!” Namjoon’s hands fly up in a placating movement. “I just feel really tense right now.”

“Imagine how tense I’m feeling,” Seokjin almost shouts. “I’m trying to tell you that—” Seokjin stops. The words seem lodged in his throat.

“I’m trying to tell you that I’m afraid of losing my independence, I’m afraid that we’ll fight a lot, and most of all,” Seokjin swallows and collapses into the seat beside Namjoon. “Most of all, I’m afraid that you’ll stop finding me interesting first, and I can’t stand that. I can’t do that again. Or at least, I thought I couldn’t. But I know your coffee order, and you know mine, and—and well, well maybe I want to try.”

They’re silent.

“I’m done.”

“Oh, okay,” Namjoon sits up a little. “How does the coffee figure into this?”

“I paid attention,” Seokjin murmurs. He turns away from Namjoon as he speaks. “You make me pay attention. I want to keep paying attention, with you.”

“Oh,” Namjoon says.

“Yeah.”

“Well,” Namjoon starts, turning to Seokjin, their knees knocking against each others’. “I can’t promise not to lose interest, because that’s brought about by a lot of factors that neither of us can foresee.”

“I know,” Seokjin says sulkily. He still can’t bear to look at Namjoon.

“But if you do want to try—properly, this time, with rules that make sense to the both of us, then I’m with you, a hundred percent.” Namjoon touches Seokjin’s knee, then slides his hand up Seokjin’s arm, and then finally tilts Seokjin’s chin up to look at him. “Okay?”

“Just like that?” Seokjin asks, shocked. “I was ready to grovel.”

Namjoon arches his eyebrow. “I don’t believe it.”

“Do you want me to?” Seokjin challenges.

Namjoon shakes his head and huffs out of laugh. “I think a kiss will do, for now.”

“Just one?” Seokjin teases.

“Do you want one or not?”

 



 

For the better half of the past two months, Seokjin’s woken up to Namjoon’s warmth. They’ve figured out the sweet spot to each other’s schedules, and Namjoon gives him as much space as he needs. On some nights, he stays out late with Jimin and Taehyung, drinking until the sun rises, and the next day, Namjoon brings him a cup of coffee.