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What Happens In Vegas Does Not Stay In Vegas

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[Time: present, 7:13 a.m.]

[Location: Random Motel Room, somewhere in Vegas]

 

 

There are many horrors in this world. The human species are absolute filth and there will be a reckoning one day, the sixth mass extinction so they may join their dinosaur brethren. Every once in a while, such realisations are normal.

There are horrors the like of which the human mind can’t comprehend.  

Such as the ring on Seokjin’s finger. 

Okay. Rewind. Back the fuck up because he went way ahead further than he meant to and story-telling is an art Seokjin has owned since his days at the college theatre society. 

Deep breathe. Collect his thoughts. The human mind is magnificent. It is flexible and adaptable, it can change any moment, it is always improving and it will surely accept the–

“Jungkook, why the fuck is there a ring on my ring finger?!” Seokjin screeches. He can’t wretch his eyes away from the cheap gold, some of the paint chipping off already. The knuckle above it is bruised like the culprit had shoved it on without a care, without taking his uniquely-shaped fingers into account. It hurts, and it also clashes terribly with his skin, and Seokjin’s just about had it. “Jungkook? Jungkook!” 

“What!” The shout is muffled by cheap...motel pillows? It belongs to none other than the bane of his life, the sole owner of Seokjin’s last reserve of patience, the brat of the century– Jeon Jungkook. “Why the fuck are you screaming in my ear?” 

“Get up, this is an emergency.” He tugs at Jungkook’s arm– Jungkook’s naked arm, connecting to his naked torso...the rest of him hidden under scratchy motel sheets. Oh god, please don’t let him be naked under that. Seokjin will hurl. “Jungkook– I’m serious. Get up. This is seriously an emergency and if you don’t I’m going to pinch your butt.” 

“Kinky.” There is a rustle of sheets followed by a groan. The popping of muscles cracks aloud and the heathen appears at last. Naked (insanely muscled) torso connects to a slim neck, and the owner of said neck wakes with all of his scruffy black hair and cute rabbit teeth glory. “If you wanted to touch my butt, you should have just asked.” 

Seokjin whacks his chest instead, just slightly above his nipple where he knows Jungkook’s nipple sensitivity carries on. Jungkook winces, glare not yet catching up to the sleep evident in his eyes. 

“Stop being disgusting. And focus. We have an emergency.” 

“What could possibly warrant waking me up at this ungodly hour– wait. Why am I naked?” 

“Same question, my darling Jungkook. I’m used to you wanting to be naked as the day you were born but this is something else–” 

“No, scratch that– why the hell are you naked?” 

Seokjin pauses. Looks down at himself where his own majestic washboard abs stare right back up at him, the sheets scratching horribly at his dainty skin when he likes no less than threadbare silk–

He looks back up at Jungkook. Trails the eyes down to his finger wherein shines...another cheap ring. Meets Jungkook’s eyes again.

Both scream. 

 

 

There are many horrors in this human world and in Seokjin’s existence. But none, he thinks, is as bad as having accidentally married his best friend. 

So Seokjin needs to really go back. Like way, way back to how he and Jungkook are. How they started, how they met and why they’re best friends for life, in order for the events to make sense. Every story has a start. Introduction, body, conclusion. Seokjin would know, he’s great at bullshitting essays.

He’s great at bullshitting through life, period. Fake it till you make it, all that jazz – works for essays, career aspirations and orgasms. Fool proof.

Except when he accidentally marries his best friend in another country, seriously what the fuck

“Okay. Okay, let’s just– calm down. There’s obviously an explanation for this,” Seokjin says after the mandated ten deep breaths from his meditation class he’d taken with Hoseok. He’s Seokjin, he is always collected and calm. “We just have to retrace our steps backwards. It’s all cool.”

“Yeah, for non-hungover people, maybe,” Jungkook snarks. He’s still very much upper-torso naked (Seokjin is not going to think about anything below, or any implications of that, he will not) in bed, though he’s gone from being a brat to a brat with social anxiety. His teeth bite into his bottom lip which Seokjin taps against as a reflex. “Which we are not. There’s a black hole in my memory.”

Seokjin presses his lips into a line; Jungkook is not wrong. He’s not getting any younger and as well as Seokjin handles his liquor, memory recall is not a great forte anymore. “I’m not much better. But we can still try. Starting from why are we in this crappy motel when I’m pretty sure I booked a room in the Hilton.”

“Oh right, you must be hating the sheets,” Jungkook nods, and Seokjin glares. He worked damn hard to deserve silk on his divine body, so this is a right tragedy. “I have an important question, though.”

“Shoot.”

“Are you naked under them?”

“Jungkook!” Seokjin shrieks. He wanted to avoid this. He wanted the horror to remain only at the rings because the possibility of… “I am not.”

Jungkook frowns. He pushes down the sheets, revealing horrible red and gold Iron Man boxers. A whole man-child. “Neither am I. Congratulations, we most probably did not sleep with each other.”

“Terrible boxers on is not proof of not sleeping together.”

“First of all– fuck you, Iron Man is the love of my life, and second– I hate to ask you this and trust me, I’m internally gagging right now– but are you feeling…any tenderness in your butt?”

There’s a beat of silence that goes on for approximately thirty-seven seconds before Seokjin explodes, and nearly smothers Jungkook with a terrible motel pillow.

“How dare you, Jeon Jungkook!” Seokjin screeches again, while Jungkook’s screams are muffled under the pillow. “I am your hyung. I will also have you know I won’t bottom for you, not that anything is wrong with bottoming but how dare you–”

“Hyung, calm down!” Jungkook yells back, escaping the attack of pillows and sheets. He stands in all his workout success glory, off-set by his terrible choice in boxers. Seokjin’s blood boils. “Fuck, you’re a nightmare.”

“You’re my nightmare, you fucking heathen–”

There’s a knock on their door. Both pause.

An American accent sounds through. “Hi, this is housekeeping – we at Swan Love Motel believe in the freedom of love, but there have been multiple complaints by your neighbours to keep the volume down. Happy marriage!”

The voice fades away and there is silence between them once more. Jungkook’s looking at him with his wide doe eyes and Seokjin–

Grabs the nearest pillow and screams into that instead, cheap cotton scratching his insured lips be damned.

 

 

[Time: 4 days ago, before The Mistake]

[Location: A bar obviously, somewhere in Itaewon]

 

The way Jungkook finds Seokjin is not the most strange – drunk, nursing drink number whatever and perhaps crying into the bar counter top, but Seokjin will never admit to that. He will admit to Jungkook always coming to save him from the Sad Days at bars and then inevitably joining him because Jungkook is an empathetic feeler, but he won’t admit to crying. There are just some lines one doesn’t cross.

But that’s how Jungkook finds him: sad once more, a pathetic image that even the bartender takes pity on when usually they are absolutely charmed by Kim Seokjin. It’s a fancy bar too, so it’s even more alarming, and yet.

“There you are,” Jungkook says, a warm presence that smells of fruity Victoria Secrets, a very Jungkook-like scent where most people slather themselves in obnoxious colognes. Seokjin appreciates that about Jungkook. “Located you finally after the ten voicemails you sent. Well, crying ones anyway.”

“I’m so fucking saaaaad, Jungkook-ah,” is how Seokjin greets him. He barely manages to rise up and hangs off Jungkook’s arm for support, vaguely aware of Jungkook signalling the bartender for a glass of water. “Is this ever going to go away? This sadness? It’s eating away at my chest but it never goes, what will I do, Kook? Hmm? What will I do?”

“First, a glass of water,” Jungkook murmurs, even holding the glass to Seokjin’s lips, which Seokjin laps up like a dog. Water was so delicious, goodness. “There you go. Feels nice, right?”

“Yeah, but – ugh, I’m just – why me?”

Jungkook sighs. Signals for his own drink, a beer –ew– and settles down next to Seokjin. The bar is relatively empty at this point of the night, god knows what Seokjin’s voicemails must have done to rouse Jungkook out of his deep sleep. “Is this about Chaeyoung-noona?” 

Seokjin wails. Just her name pierces his heart. “Why did she leave me, Jungkook-ah, I was so good to her, I did everything she wanted even though I hate office parties but I went to them for her, and now…” Seokjin bows down again. He feels the vibrations of Jungkook’s sigh through his shoulders and the gentle pats rubbing in.

“Maybe that’s why hyung. Because you’re so good, and bend over backwards for the people you love, and…fuck, I need a drink for this.”

 

 

[Time: Present, 10:30 a.m.]

[Location: the wonderful inner monologue of Seokjin’s mind]

[Location: Wedding Chapel Located Conveniently Near the Motel]

 

Turns out they don’t have to retrace their steps too far. After asking around with Annie, the head of the housekeeping who had smirked at them while Jungkook had converted into a cherry tomato, both find themselves at the wedding chapel where they apparently tied the knot, and it is…only a five-minute walk from their room.

“I cannot believe this,” Seokjin frets, while Jungkook blinks at the sign. Welcome to the Swan Wedding Chapel! True love is tied here forever. No discrimination, zero refund. “I cannot believe I got married to you in a Vegas wedding chapel of all places.”

“You’re talking like I’m psyched about it,” Jungkook grumbles. They still haven’t removed the rings, probably because Seokjin’s knuckle is swollen over Jungkook’s inconsideration for his unique knobs. “I thought Hollywood was just Hollywooding with Vegas marriages."

“Hapless Asians like us always fall for American pyramid schemes,” Seokjin mutters. Terribly so, he plays with the ring, hating how plain it feels. He deserved 24 karat gold, damn it. “Let’s get this over with.”

So they enter. It’s a small place, dingy and dark save for the altar wrapped with fairy lights. There’s a table to the side wherein sits the…officiant. Possibly. He’s old and he’s got that old man kindness in his blue eyes.

“Um, hello?” Seokjin prods. Out of the two, he’s better with his English given his years at culinary school abroad. Jungkook is hopeless. “Are you the officiant at this chapel?”

“That would be me!” The man claps, standing up. He’s short and portly, smile just as bright as his eyes. “You two lovebirds came by yesterday, didn’t you?”

“We…did?” Seokjin swallows. He’d been hoping it was a big colossal joke they could all laugh it off, and he could attend…whatever matter he came to Vegas for before jetting back to South Korea, away from this madness. The man frowns, and Seokjin hastily corrects himself. “I mean– we did! Of course, we did, ha-ha.”

“It was quite sweet,” the man goes on. “I’ve seen many weddings in my lifetime, watched people fight against all odds…but yours moved me to tears.”

Seokjin looks at Jungkook. He’s in that zone of his where he’s over-processing and not responding to the world in real-time, which– bad. “R-right.”

“But I’m sure you both know that. Tell me – is there something I can help with?”

Seokjin wanted to confirm if he had really married Jungkook…but that cleared out the moment they entered. The man is looking at them with love-sick eyes and Seokjin’s stomach ties itself in knots. Jungkook has gone non-verbal and he doesn’t– he can’t–

“Yes– actually, we were kind of drunk last night and we don’t recall much, which is not how we want to remember our marriage,” Seokjin says, pulling Jungkook close by his waist. Jungkook stiffens. He smiles at the officiant, his best smile that always puts people at ease. “Could you maybe run us through what happened?”

 

 

[Time: 4 days ago, Pre-Mistake]

[Location: Still Itaewon, but make it a Monologue]

So context, before Seokjin goes into the whole Before-After scenario, went something like this:

Seokjin had been happily in a relationship for six months. He was very nearly on the road to being engaged, a first for him, and he had been…happy. Ecstatic even, because Lee Chaeyoung had been a dream and a half. Sure, it was super-fast, but at his age, with his parents breathing down his neck to settle down? He thought it was acceptable.

He thought wrong.

Chaeyoung and he had hit it off at an after-party of a mutual friend’s wedding and sparks had quite literally flown As in, they got caught making out somewhere near the switchboard for the venue and their actions had nearly caused a blackout at the wedding. Nearly being a crucial word here.

Now – Seokjin didn’t blame anyone for this. Chaeyoung was a smart, funny, independent woman and great at communicating. In fact, when she said no to Seokjin’s proposal after a whirlwind relationship of six months, Seokjin had taken it with a grain of salt. He was being hasty! No sane person would say yes, especially for such an important decision.

But he didn’t expect Chaeyoung to go off-grid for a week and then turn up a week later, announcing that she wanted to break up because she clearly wasn’t as serious as Seokjin and she had other goals. She was sweet about it and the break-up was amicable, but here’s the catch.

Seokjin isn’t used to being dumped.

It’s not a wholly arrogant thought. He’s smart, he’s handsome, he’s an excellent cook and comes packed with a great sense of humour. He’s so used to being wanted by people that this change in his path threw him well-off.

He gets why he liked Chaeyoung so much, so fast. Because she was the female version of him, and he’d met his match at last…sort of. A respectable female version anyway, but yeah. His parents liked her too; she had a great business sense, his friend circle also liked her (except Jimin, but Jimin’s always a little cold to outsiders) and really – it made sense to merge the union fast. He’s a patient man, but maybe diving head-fast into this wasn’t a good decision in hindsight.

All of this is important because it warrants his sadness and the god-awful plan he concocted with Jungkook, who obviously gave into the charms of free alcohol (when will that boy ever pay Seokjin back) and decided to join him in his sorrows. Great going, 10/10 best friend of the century.

“It’s been six months after that, hyung!” Jungkook exclaims in his ear, smelling like peach and sharp tequila. Who gave him that, Jungkook’s terrible with tequila. “So, like, one year since your engagement broke-”

“Technically, we never reached the engagement stage,” Seokjin notes, downing a shot, scrunching his face because it burns so bad.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, point being – you need to get over this. Like, Chaeyoung-noona was cool but c’mon. She wasn’t, like, hyung level cool, ya know?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Hyung, seriously.” Jungkook leans into his vision suddenly, all cut bug-eyed with his starry doe eyes and red cheeks. Seokjin pats him absent-mindedly. “I don’t like seeing you like this, you know?”

“Yeah, sadness does not suit me. Look at this zit I got on my chin the other day.”

“Horrendous. You don’t even have pores. Do you see how bad all this stress is?” Jungkook blinks. The bartender cuts them off and places water, then announces closing time, which, what the fuck, Seokjin thought this was a twenty-four-seven outlet. “Take a break. You never do, you’re always working, which I’m grateful for because it pays my bills–”

“Aish, you free-loading brat–”

“–But seriously. I’ve come to pick you up, like, almost ten? Twenty? Times at these solo outings of yours and even I’m getting worried. So please. Take a break? For me?”

Jungkook has gone full doe-eyes blown out mode and Seokjin can’t resist. He’s never been able to, honestly, what with how cute Jungkook is when he’s being all whiny and demanding like this. Adorable. Seokjin’s favourite.

“Uh, yeah, maybe outside Korea…oh yeah, there’s that business trip I have in Vegas, maybe I could make it work-vacation trip!”

“That sounds neat! Count me in.”

“Yeah, sure– wait, what?” Seokjin turns to Jungkook who grins innocently, but Seokjin knows all of Jungkook’s stupid tricks. He’s taught it to him. “No. No, you’re not coming with me to Vegas, Jungkook, c’mon!” When Jungkook grins wider and blinks rapidly with his dumb long eyelashes, Seokjin groans. He hates this. “Why are you the bane of my life–?”

Seokjin doesn’t finish. He finds a trashcan in the nick of time before emptying the contents of his stomach.

 

 

[Time: Present, 11:14 a.m.]

[Location: Back to the wedding chapel]

The officiant doesn’t know what happened before they came to the chapel, but he’s definitely sure the two of them came in sloshed to the heavens, yelling confessions back and forth at each other.

Seokjin and Jungkook are red in the face while the officiant– whose name is John Wallace– gushes about the events.

“We were near closing but you two demanded that the ceremony happen then and there, there wasn’t a moment to waste,” John says. He’s offered them orange juice and a slice of toast, which Seokjin is touched by. Jungkook nibbles at his silently. “I had suggested waiting till today, but you– I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite catch your name, dear– said that it had to be now because you aren’t allowed to marry in Korea yet, and you can’t bear a moment away from this young man anymore. That’s all.”

That’s all. That’s all, like the biggest mistake of his life hadn’t happened in a ceremony of twenty minutes. Twenty minutes– what the fuck was in those Vegas drinks, Seokjin doesn’t know.

But he’s a well-mannered man, raised with proper table manners and social etiquette and he can’t really yell at the officiant for doing his job, can he? Or do something stupid like grab him by his old-man suspenders and yell into his face, why? Why couldn’t you stop us?

They’re now an officially registered and married couple in the US, according to John’s accounts and certificates. They paid two-hundred dollars for it too. There is cheap gold metal on both Seokjin and Jungkook’s hands, and Seokjin’s brain has reached his processing limit.

“Thank you for your time,” he tells John, clasping his hand. He can sense Jungkook nearby going into a sensory overdrive anytime soon and it is not a pretty sight. “I’m– um. Grateful you got me…married. To the love of my life.”

“May you kids remain happily married forever. May your love persevere Korean laws,” the man says kindly. Seokjin squeezes his hands in thanks. Then he gets the hell out.

He drags Jungkook out, straight to the motel room which has no other belongings, so that means they just crashed for the night. He picks up all that he had, including the cheap three-piece suits that Seokjin can’t believe touched his Armani worshipping body, and then– sits Jungkook down.

“Okay, if you’re about to have your meltdown, now would be a great time,” Seokjin says, kneeling in front of him and rubbing soothing circles into the back of his neck. He’s a little worried about Jungkook, even amidst all this. The younger doesn’t do well with overstimulation of any kind. “Because after this we have to book a cab, get to the actual hotel and really think about what we have done, but preferably in a five-star suite.”

Jungkook nods dumbly. Then he shakes his head, eyes shifting in their doe-like structures before he places his hands over his face and at last– screams. Not the horror movie kind but the kind he often does when he has way too much energy and doesn’t know how to get it out; Seokjin’s more than used to it. He pats Jungkook’s back through it all. How did he mess up this badly?

When Jungkook’s done screaming dying cat sounds for about ten minutes, he gestures that he’s much better and Seokjin can pay attention to other tasks. Seokjin books a cab to the hotel, pays at the reception and then he and Jungkook make the walk of shame (in their heads) to the entrance, entering the said cab.

They’re silent throughout. Jungkook is usually trying his best to get on Seokjin’s nerves and banter has been their food since they became friends, back when Jungkook was a scrawny freshman and Seokjin was the more established, perfect skincare routine elder. They go way back, it’s been nearly seven years since and this has to be the most tragic and hilarious part of their friendship.

They arrive at the Hilton. If Seokjin remembers right, he’s booked the suite for four days. Two days for the business meeting, two days for the inevitable sightseeing. One side each for Seokjin and Jungkook, not that the brat really used his room when he could just crash into Seokjin’s and be a constant annoying presence.

They lock the door and sit down on Seokjin’s bed. His queen-size foam memory mattress bed, thank all the gods.

“Jungkook,” Seokjin starts. Jungkook’s been silent all the while and though it’s not strange, it is odd when it’s the two of them. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this, alright? Hyung will fix it. The marriage won’t hold in Korea and no one has to know. We’ll find a way to annul this or something, I don’t know, and we’ll go right back to normal.” He pats Jungkook’s knee. “Alright?”

“Sure, hyung,” Jungkook mutters, soft and breathy. He looks like a little boy and Seokjin’s heart clenches. “I know hyung has my back.”

“Hyung always will,” Seokjin assures, before getting up. “Now– time for a nice, long bath in your five-star bathroom. It’ll smell like all those fancy essential oils you like so much, Kookie. Then we’ll retrace everything and get it over with once and for all.”

Jungkook nods and trudges off to his side of the suite, shutting the door in between.

Neither has checked their phone since the mess started. Jungkook doesn’t check his phone anyway, but Seokjin is particular about his phone etiquette as well and makes sure to always respond in time. He leaves Jungkook in the other room and decides a proper bath is in order. Everything will be alright once he’s smelling salt crystals and rose bath bombs.

Seokjin, however, is not meant to have peace. Because he’s soaking right there in hot, scalding water, dreaming about peach creampuffs from his restaurant back in Seoul, wondering if he can twist the recipe a little when his phone rings loudly and ruins everything.

Jimin’s face glares at him from the screen.

“What?” Is Seokjin’s gracious response. “I’m bathing.”

Why didn’t you tell me?” Jimin shrieks on the other side. Seokjin checks the time on his phone; 12:07 p.m. It must be a little past three in the morning for Jimin.

Seokjin sighs. He’s so not in the mood for this. “Tell you what?”

Why didn’t you tell me you and Jungkookie married? Do I look like a joke to you?”

The phone nearly slips out of his hands. Even then, Seokjin pulls the device away while Jimin screams excitedly about how he’d always known and how hurt he is he had to find out through an Instagram update but also, oh, I’m so happy for you guys, hyung, give the phone to Kook!

“Uh, hey, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin says at last, cutting off whatever theory Jimin is ranting about. “Give hyung a few minutes – I’ll call you back in a while.” He cuts the call.

The water seems ideal to drown in. Maybe if Seokjin slides in slowly he can rebirth himself like one of those gross alien movies and pretend like his life hasn’t become a clusterfuck of stupid mistakes.

He doesn’t go under, but he does scream into the water briefly, letting the bubbles caress his face before coming out, legs and arms wrinkled as a prune. He stuffs himself into the bathrobe, clutching the phone in one hand like it’s a lifeline, which it very well might be.

He stumbles out, opening Jungkook’s door without knocking – really, he’s seen everything he’s ever had to and he has no shame. Jungkook startles but Seokjin doesn’t care – they have bigger problems at hand.

“Hyung? Why are you dripping soap water over the carpet?” Jungkook asks. Oh, sweet child. The horror this day keeps on revealing to be.

“Jungkook-ah. We have a problem,” is all Seokjin says, before showing Jungkook the screen on his phone.

 

 

[Time: 2 days ago, The Night of the Mistake]

[Location: Somewhere in Vegas, obviously very drunk. Someone, please save them]

The two days of back-to-back meetings were over. Seokjin and Jungkook could relax at last and relax they had. He was a sponge soaking up all the alcohol, and they were all the fruity eye-sore colour cocktails that Seokjin adored. Jungkook hated it but then that was Jungkook, he had a desperation to uphold his emo-boy image.

Except, he now had an excellent business proposition and Seokjin is so on board.

“Hear me out,” Jungkook slurs. He’s got a good tolerance, but no one can beat Seokjin. Well, Jimin can, but Jimin is a demon from the underworld. Oh, and Yoongi, but Seokjin likes Yoongi a whole lot better so he gets a pass. “You listening? Because I have the wildest offer for you.”

“I’m listening,” Seokjin acknowledges. The hotel they’re at is excellent, and all of Seokjin’s muscles are loose. As is his tongue. His brain melted a long-time ago and his mouth is cotton, but Seokjin is loving it. “However, if your offer is stripping then no, I’m declining the proposition straight away.”

“As if you could ever say no to this sweet deal,” Jungkook crows, standing up and flexing, or well, trying to – he stumbles a little. “But your poor choices aside – here’s the offer.”

“Okay. Go on.”

Jungkook pauses. He frowns like he’s collecting his thoughts, or maybe he forgot because the boy’s short-term memory is atrocious, to say the least, so it could either be that or the alcohol. “Ugh, I was going to say something amazing.”

“Hyung will wait.”

“Right!” He claps twice, then gazes at Seokjin with stars in his eyes. No, Seokjin isn’t waxing poetic; Jungkook literally has stardust in his eyes and it’s not funny anymore. “I think we,” Jungkook indicates the two of them, “should get married.”

“Huh.” Seokjin isn’t horrified. “Wasn’t expecting that, honestly. But go on. Present the presentation.”

“PowerPoint sucks, boo,” Jungkook says, slurping in his cocktail. “Anyway– it makes sense because everyone breaks our hearts, right?”

“Yeah. That really sucked. I should have dumped Chaeyoung.”

“No, you shouldn’t have dated her ever! You were too good for–” Jungkook says hotly, then squeezes his eyes shut. “Sorry. Not the point. The point is – oh, is that why they called it PowerPoint?”

“Holy shit, yeah.”

“That is so cool. Anyway – remember that pact we made once? When Jaehyun had dumped me over ‘creative differences’, whatever the fuck?”

It’s Seokjin’s turn to frown. The alcohol blocks his brain but he does recall and slams the bar top. The couple next to him give him a stink eye, and he blows a raspberry at them.

“Right, the thirty and single one!”

“Mm, yeah, so I’m thinking – we both have people who have stolen our wonderful hearts and crushed them like peanuts. You know who won’t crush it further? The two of us.”

Seokjin’s eyes widen. Jungkook’s right. He’s a smart little one, which makes sense, he was born, like, twelve days before Namjoon so all that Virgo smartness was bouncing around in his little coconut head. Oh, Seokjin was so proud.

“Right. And because we know each other so well, and we barely even fight – it makes sense. We always have each other’s back, no one gets Mario as we do and we get each other!” Seokjin is considering it. It’s already there in his mind, it sounds like the best idea ever. “Ooh, we’re also in Vegas!”

Jungkook beams, all glorious white with front-and-centre bunny teeth to make it all the more cute, and really – it’s so natural, why hadn’t Seokjin thought of it before–

“Yeah, we’re in Vegas, baby! Let’s get married!”

 

 

[Time: Present, 1:43 p.m.]

[Location: now, the inner monologues of Seokjin’s mind]

So Seokjin has to go even further back to explain the next set of events.

Here’s the thing– Seokjin and Jungkook have known each for years. A decade almost, since Jungkook came to Seoul for university and accidentally met Seokjin in a series of unfortunate events involving Seokjin’s cousin, Kim Taehyung.

Jungkook and Taehyung were the roommates. Shitty dorm, small space save for the state of the art gaming system that Taehyung splurged on, that Seokjin caught Jungkook trying to – well, not steal, per se, but definitely hoard for himself. And even though Seokjin wasn’t that bothered about ethics and wasn’t even aware of what Taehyung was up to half the time, he obviously cared that some doe-eyed kid was trying to take the system all for himself.

So yeah. That’s how they met – a screaming accusation from Seokjin, an equally hot-headed snap from Jungkook, Taehyung in the middle screaming at them to listen whilst only wrapped in a tiny towel leaving little to imagination. As far as best friend stories go, Seokjin thinks he and Jungkook take the cake.

They didn’t become friends right away. After weeks of accusatory glances, snappy responses and intense Mario matches, Taehyung had put a foot down and banned either of them from the apartment until they fixed it because he couldn’t handle such conflict. Seokjin didn’t care about that since he was already two years out of university back then and had his own place like an adult, but Jungkook was a newbie and also, he shared the dorm with Taehyung – so Seokjin caved.

He doesn’t usually tell people that the real reason he became close with Jungkook was how he once caught Jungkook sobbing about missing his family and wanting to quit university to go back to Busan when Taehyung had gone to visit family in Daegu, and how Seokjin had begrudgingly taken the young one out on a Seoul tour. Seokjin and his bleeding, golden heart, ugh.

With the age gap between them, he didn’t expect any sort of friendship to last. But here they are, seven years later in a hotel in Vegas, married to each other. Because of a stupid, drunken pact.

Hollywood must be laughing. All the k-dramas Seokjin hated but secretly watched in his spare time were probably having a blast.

“Correct me once again,” Jungkook whispers calmly. He’s very calm. So calm he hasn’t moved from the spot he’s been rooted in ever since Seokjin barged into his room. “But I’m looking at a series of Instagram stories where you and I are yelling into the camera, which has apparently documented this entire night, as well as a post of the two of us with our rings captioned 30 and single, we’re married #Married. Correct?”

“Yes, except you’re twenty-four so technically…we didn’t follow the pact exactly either. I’m still one year short.”

“And this has been for the world to watch for nearly seventeen hours now, and our close group of friends who weren’t supposed to know, know now?”

This is scary calm Jungkook. This is the Jungkook that simply shuts down when he’s angry and refuses to resurface, and it is ten times more effective in raising Seokjin’s hackles and making him nervous.

“I know this has gotten way out of hand…but I mean…it’s still…fixable?” Seokjin tries, his voice small. It’s not exactly fixable. Considering they have to leave for South Korea tomorrow.

“Sure,” Jungkook says. He gets up, pacing. Hands behind his back, which flex his biceps involuntarily. “Of course it’s fixable. It’s not like our friends know and they’ll be leaving us alone peacefully. Or that my phone hasn’t stopped blowing up since the morning. Or that we have apparently been married for eighteen hours without knowing about it!” He turns to face Seokjin and Seokjin is terrified. Oh boy, the meltdown is here at last. “It’s so fixable, hyung, it’s a piece of cake!”

“You’re mad and I absolutely understand,” Seokjin says softly, placating. It’s no one’s fault but their own that they drank way more than they should have simply because the hotel was offering happy hours. He is closing on thirty, this is kind of unacceptable. “It’s no one’s fault, Jungkookie, we’ll find a way–”

“You do realise we can’t annul this marriage until you choose to become a resident of Las Vegas for six weeks, right?” Jungkook explodes. He’s clenched his fists now. “Neither of us are American citizens even. You were here on a business trip. And it is absolutely your fault that we’re in this.”

“Hey, now,” Seokjin starts, irritation bubbling under his own skin. He’s willing to take equal blame but not the sole one, no way. “Marriage is a partnership. We both…agreed to it, so don’t be a dick.”

“No, because maybe if you hadn’t been a loser mourning your broken engagement, we wouldn’t have done this stupid shit,” Jungkook hisses back. It’s mean and it hurts Seokjin in all the right places, but he’s the hyung and he’s supposed to be better than this.

He’s mad anyway.

“Don’t talk about things you don’t know shit about,” Seokjin spits right back. And because he’s Seokjin and sometimes, only sometimes, he has a petty streak as well, he adds on, “maybe if you weren’t a freeloader from hell you wouldn’t have begged to come with me on this trip and avoided this all. Ever think about that, Jungkook?”

Jungkook snaps his mouth shut and hurt drips into his eyes. Seokjin feels bad instantly, guilt souring his tongue because it isn’t a problem, it has never been no matter how many times he’s nagged at Jungkook for it, but he decided to be a cheap shot and use it anyway. Great. What an amazing example of a hyung.

“Just– let’s take a breather, alright? Have a shower, we’ll– we’ll do something.” He doesn’t add trust hyung like he usually does because right now, he doesn’t even trust himself.

Jungkook simply stalks off to the bath.

 

 

[Time: the next day, 9:53 a.m.]

[Location: McCarran International Airport, Vegas]

Here’s how the pact came to be:

Jungkook was around twenty-two, Seokjin was twenty-seven and fending off his mom about marriage and ‘settling down’. He was fabulously bisexual and had no shortage of beautiful men and women, but he had still been focused on setting up his restaurant chain and didn’t need things like lifelong commitment to distract him. Also, he was Kim Seokjin, he could have anyone anytime he wanted. He just had to wink and do a finger heart, easy-peasy.

Jungkook and he got along like a house on fire. A grudging acquaintanceship to show him through Seoul turned into a mission of making Jungkook realise that Seoul was it and running away from that would be a mistake. He’d even taken Jungkook to meet his parents because Jungkook just missed home so much, and Seokjin’s parents had been more than willing to take one more baby chick under their wide wings and massive hearts.

It had been some four years of friendship then but it honestly felt like forever. Seokjin hadn’t thought he’d ever get along well with someone five years younger than him, practically a baby, but he’d always had a penchant for being liked by his hoobaes. Actually, Seokjin was just great with people, period. He didn’t like them all the time, but he was good at it and could hold the audience’s attention splendidly. He did need his time to retreat and recover in solitude, and this is where he and Jungkook got along supremely well. Introverts through and through, the two of them, though Jungkook was a little bit more obvious about his.

It had been four years, Jungkook had broken up with his boyfriend of one year when the Pact had come into existence, and he had been weeping into the bar counter-top when Seokjin had found him. They’d drunk some more, and then in all his drunken blabbering, Jungkook said the damning (but at the time, super cute) words:

“Jin-hyung! Love sucks. But I love you, you’re my best friend for life and the only one I trust.”

“That’s cute, Jungkook-ah.”

“But!” Jungkook had slammed the shot glass down. He had giggled and Seokjin remembered being endeared. “But sometimes, you’re alone and sad, and everyone leaves you behind when they get what they want from you,” Jungkook hiccups. Seokjin drinks to that. He’d been kind of sad that someone as young as Jungkook was facing such harsh truths. “So I am offering a business proposition.”

Seokjin had raised his eyebrows. He liked business propositions alright. He just never expected it from someone as horrible with it as Jungkook. “I’m listening.”

“Between you and I,” Jungkook had slurred. Clasped Seokjin’s hand between his own and looked deeply into his eyes – or well, tried, but failed because his eyes were swimming around and showing the bright starts encrusted in them. “If you’re thirty and single- you marry me. If I am thirty and single, and you’re also single, then I marry you. Agreed?”

And Seokjin, bright, going-with-the-flow, bullshitting through life Seokjin who had also been a tad bit drunk, had only laughed. “How does it work when we will turn thirty at different times?”

Jungkook had frowned. His big nose got all scrunchy and Seokjin had cooed. “Right. That’s an issue. But whatever, we’ll handle it when it comes! So do you agree?” He’d held out his pinkie finger and looked up at him with those starry eyes, and damn Seokjin and his bleeding heart but he’d said yes. Of course, he’d said yes. He’d always say yes to Jungkook.

“Agreed.”

This is the gist behind the pact. But neither Jungkook nor Seokjin are thirty, so it doesn’t technically hold except they have, like, papers and everything. And Seokjin is an adult business man who can’t exactly annul the marriage. It doesn’t hold in Korea, and it could have been brushed under the carpet except both of them were fools who documented every single thing, and Jimin the demon got hold of it so obviously, everyone fucking knows.

Thank god Seokjin’s personal Instagram is private. His business deals might have tanked otherwise.

“I would say that’s an accurate summary,” Jungkook says as they sit in the boarding area, waiting for their flight to Korea. A long, long flight. Seokjin’s legs and back are already cramping even though he paid for business class tickets. “Dumb shit happens. We got shit-faced and we made shit-faced decisions. We can just explain that to the others when we get back.”

“Right, exactly,” Seokjin agrees. Their little squabble from yesterday afternoon isn’t forgotten and Seokjin is still pissed as is Jungkook, but they’ve called upon a truce for now. Both of their comments had been mean. “We tell them it’s a mix-up, a drunken mistake. We can’t annul it but it’s whatever.”

“We can even say we were just faking marriage for free dessert! We’ve done that before,” Jungkook prompts excitedly, and Seokjin nods enthusiastically. They’d done the odd fake relationship and fake date to dip out of unsatisfactory ones or brush off desperate losers in Itaewon. And yeah– free dessert. Duh.

“I would say yes…but faking marriage? Why would they believe that?”

“Maybe they need grand gestures like proposals in the States to get free stuff. It’s not like they know what goes on in that country anyway.”

It’s doable. Over the past twenty-four hours, he’d refreshed both his and Jungkook’s social media, removed certain rowdy stories but didn’t know if he could remove all of them. Especially with the way Jimin was spamming them in the group chat, not that Jungkook or Seokjin were checking. They were being the epitome of avoidance at the moment.

“The way I see it, I have my bets on Yoongi or Hoseok sniffing it out,” Seokjin hums. He hears the call for boarding and gathers all their stuff. Jungkook follows. “Jimin is being weird about it and taking it way too seriously, Taehyung loves relationships so he will take a hit. Namjoon is too wrapped in his own brain to really notice but I don’t think he’s read into USA marriage laws for fun.”

“Smart analysis,” Jungkook notes. Then frowns. “Wait– why are we worrying about this? We just have to break the news to them that it’s a mistake.”

“Oh. Yeah. You’re right.”

“And remove any notions that this was, like, some carefully thought out decision.”

“Well, there’s the pact,” Seokjin adds, not at all helpful. He totally sees the slap Jungkook sends his way. “Which we didn’t fulfil properly…”

“Semantics,” Jungkook mutters. He walks down the bridge. “You’ll be thirty next year. A year here or there doesn’t really matter, sunbae.”

“Call me hyung! I am not that old!” Seokjin hisses. Jungkook only cackles in response.

 

 

[Time: 15 hours 5 minutes later]

[Location: Incheon International Airport, Seoul]

 

It’s not light and breezy.

Here they are, fifteen hours later, legs cramping and back pinching in pain even though he had a blast in business class. However, there’s nothing like going back to his bed in his apartment. It’s all Seokjin can think about. He’s back in Seoul, smelling the familiar city smell, have the yellow dust tickle slightly in his nose and the wonderful sounds of the Korean syllables tumble in his ears. He’s home, he’s alive– life was all about the small blessings, right?

He’s going to call his driver, have him drop Jungkook first before going to his own haven, shower away aeroplanes, airports and America, before facing the day with a bright attitude.

But this doesn’t happen. Bright attitudes cannot face storms. Especially when they’re storms named Park Jimin and his infallible excitement.

See, Seokjin’s a business man. He runs a successful chain of gourmet restaurants dotting the Seoul landscape and he’s also the one who makes the chef’s special for each of those places. He’d developed an astute sense for business since he was a child but has never been an unethical one, and luck has shined upon him for his honesty. He’s doing very well for his age, as can be seen by the evidence of fancy business trips, straight-up buying business class tickets and one Jeon Jungkook leaching off of him, and that boy is expensive to maintain.

However, every business man knows that bad luck and bad decisions happen. Sometimes things are out of control and nothing can stop the tidal wave of shit. It happens. Seokjin’s managed it before and he’ll manage it again.

Just not now, it seems, when he walks out of the airport with Jungkook in tow only to face his gang of stupid, adorable yet absolutely senseless, friends waving around a gigantic banner that screams Congratulations Lovebirds!!!

Right. So Jimin went ahead and decided to create an embarrassing, wedding-themed welcome for Jungkook and him. Way to rub their mistake into their faces. Seokjin sighs. Jungkook cringes, hiding behind his mask.

“Seokjin hyung! Jungkookie! Hi!” Jimin yells, jumping up and down while Taehyung has a hold around his waist. In his hands is a bouquet, while Hoseok stands next to them with a box of…chocolates. Shaped like hearts.

Alright, this is going to be much harder to do than they had originally planned. No doubt. All good.

“Hi, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin says, letting Jimin wrap around him like a koala while Jungkook is smothered in kisses by Hoseok and Taehyung, both. “Where are Yoongi and Namjoon?”

“In the car, they thought it was embarrassing what we were doing,” Jimin grumbles, still rubbing his head under Seokjin’s like a cat. Seokjin is more than used to his ways.

“Well, they were definitely right about that,” Jungkook snarks nearby, and Jimin swiftly moves backwards to glare at him. “What the fuck, Jimin hyung.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, am I not supposed to celebrate my best friends marrying each other? Even though they had the audacity to go to some floozy white country and get married there without letting me plan the perfect dream wedding? Hmm?”

Jungkook blinks and then looks at Seokjin, who is just as lost. Okay, this sounded…serious. “Actually–”

“Which doesn’t matter! I’m happy you guys are back because it’s time to plan one anyway!” Jimin says, clapping excitedly. Taehyung is looking at him with those sickening lovey heart eyes, but Seokjin’s throat closes up. Plan another wedding?

Jimin probably misreads the panic as doubt because he places placating hands-on Seokjin’s shoulders. “Don’t worry, hyung. I know it’s not, well. Allowed in Korea, but a party is a party! You and Jungkookie hate loud crowds anyway so I’ve booked this really cute place. Like it’s really cute! Taehyung, tell them.”

“It’s fucking adorable. I’m going to marry Jimin there,” Taehyung says dreamily. Jimin huffs, however.

“As if I’m going to go for used goods. Sorry, hyung, I just have to keep mine and Taehyungie’s venue really special. But you guys, ugh! There’s so much planning to do.”

Jungkook is now looking at Seokjin with panicky eyes.

“Wait, what–”

“I just always knew that’s the place for you guys when you finally got your heads out of your asses and just admitted it to yourselves,” Jimin chatters, leading them to the car. “Marriage is a bit much though, but I’ll take it. I’m willing to forgive you guys for coming to your senses in Vegas of all places, but love is love and I love that the most.”

Jimin didn’t– Jimin doesn’t really think what Seokjin thinks he’s thinking, right, he couldn’t possibly–

“Wait, Jimin hyung, what do you mean you booked a place?” Jungkook asks at last, wrenching himself away from Hoseok’s hold. Bless the child for asking the really important questions.

Jimin looks back, frowning. Taehyung is already in the car while Hoseok helps load the luggage. Seokjin belatedly realises they’re using his SUV– the audacity, really.

“What? Obviously, you’re not going to have some white chapel wedding alone, Jungkook-ah. You’re going to have a proper wedding here, with proper Korean food and soju in the company of your best friends who have seen you and Seokjin hyung fall in love all along! Now get your ass into the car!” Jimin disappears.

Seokjin and Jungkook are left standing, staring at where Jimin had been standing before they’re turning towards each other.

“So maybe,” Seokjin starts, though he feels disassociated from the entire scene. Like a stage director watching a play workout. “Maybe we’re in a lot more soup than I originally thought.”

 

 

[Time: 4:10 p.m.]

[Location: Seokjin’s Apartment]

 

They should have checked the messages in the group chat throughout.

What started as a small random suggestion from Yoongi (he’s dead to Seokjin, dead) had blown up into a grand plan in no less than forty-eight hours. Maybe seventy-two; Seokjin isn’t sure how long it’s been since this mess started but he’s ready to succumb to the slight jet lag and sleep away his problems.

Jungkook had forgone going to his own place and decided to crash with Seokjin. Not an issue, since he’s been doing that forever, to the point that the guest bedroom is more like Jungkook’s room, has his god-awful metal band posters, an entire closet that’s been filled with his clothes over the years. Jungkook crashes in Seokjin’s place way more often than he’d admit to, and his excuse is that Seokjin’s apartment is just more conveniently placed closer to the city.

It’s a lie, but Seokjin kind of likes Jungkook’s presence in his life, though he is annoying as a gnat about it.

They had a quick shower, Seokjin fixed a quick snack and now they’re scrolling through Seokjin’s phone, heads locked together and assessing damage control.

Not a lot of control can be done, however.

“I can’t believe Jimin hyung just fucking booked a wedding venue,” Jungkook says while chewing on an apple. “Like, isn’t it spring? Shouldn’t venues be completely booked?”

“I’d say nothing is impossible when Jimin is trying,” Seokjin replies, though he’s in similar disbelief. This is a bit much, even for Jimin’s skills. “It is two months from now, apparently, so we still have…time.”

“Are you insane? Just cancel the thing, tell him the truth and get this over with,” Jungkook snaps.

“Jungkook-ah, it’s non-refundable. I’m not going to do that to Jimin.”

Jungkook raises an eyebrow. “Money isn’t an issue for you, though.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s what you like thinking,” Seokjin mutters, and the tension from Vegas is back, a snapping elasticity stretching in between. Seokjin regrets it immediately but the words are out there.

“Is it such a big problem for you, Jin-hyung?” Jungkook asks, arms crossed. “Like, jeez, I do pay you back, you know. You’re the one who waves it off half the time.”

“I know, I know, it wasn’t fair of me to accuse you of something I’ve majorly played a part in,” Seokjin says. He hates fighting. Especially with Jungkook, because he’s just– he’s a baby. Seokjin’s raised him, practically. “Just your casual attitude about it may not be the best at the moment.”

“Well, I’m sorry I accidentally married you and I’m not really thinking about Jimin hyung or my poor money attitude right now.”

Seokjin rolls his eyes. “I’m aware, Jungkook. This happened to both of us, and we need to think rationally.”

Jungkook bites his lip harshly and looks away. Seokjin keeps quiet. When Jungkook’s angry, he’s found it effective to give him time to open up, or else he’d clamp shut again.

Several minutes pass and Seokjin rises to arrange his fridge. It calms him down, allows him to think.

“So you’re suggesting that we don’t cancel this…wedding, and instead find ways to break whatever wrong idea Jimin has.”

Seokjin hums. “I mean, why cancel a party at all? By the time the date rolls around, we’ll have cleared this thing out and we can just have a regular old party. Cancelling it now would waste a lot of good money. Jimin must have shelled out a lot to have a date so close by in thick wedding season.”

“Yeah, maybe if he’d asked us instead,” Jungkook glowers darkly onto the table, and Seokjin reaches around to smooth away his frown.

“Hey, c’mon – don’t blame Jimin, he’s just being his usual self. It’s been a lot of stressful hours. We’ll meet them tomorrow for lunch, explain it all and clarify whatever they have thought about us. I’ll even pay Jimin the amount later on.” He starts rubbing circular motions in Jungkook’s shoulders and Jungkook groans a little, head titling back. Seokjin smiles. “Let’s just sleep a good while, and then tackle it tomorrow. Alright?”

Jungkook is probably in massage orgasm mode which is slightly disturbing but something Seokjin’s used to as well, and so he nods. Seokjin lends him pyjamas and doesn’t even complain when Jungkook climbs into his bed, clinging close like he always did since they began to sleep side by side. He brushes Jungkook’s hair away and pecks him soft on his forehead instead.

 

 

They don’t get a lot of time to prepare. Seokjin and Jungkook wake up when a polite text on the group chat informs them of meeting up for the first of many ‘wedding lunches’. As in, lunches wherein they will plan for the wedding.

It’s so painfully hilarious Seokjin is tempted to laugh. But Jungkook’s not a morning person and anyway, they’re both fraught with nerves. He’s extra pouty and his arms have been crossed the entire drive to the café Jimin sent the location of, so much so that Seokjin’s properly antsy by the time they reach. And he won’t have any of it.

“Okay, before we go in,” Seokjin starts, killing the engine and shifting in his seat to face Jungkook, who only tightens his arms which threatens to make his biceps pop, ugh, what a muscle freak. “We should talk.”

“’bout what?” Jungkook mumbles. He’s got a black bucket hat and black mask on, and the only thing visible are his eyes which are puffy from a disturbed sleep cycle. Jet lag was a bitch. “We have to go and listen to Jimin-hyung being an annoying busy body–”

“Not about that,” Seokjin cuts in, voice soft. He and Jungkook don’t necessarily fight, not because it’s bad or uncomfortable but because ninety percent of the time, they usually get along. Except for when Jungkook is being an incorrigible brat, but he’s improved marginally. “About the stuff we said in Vegas. I think we both were wrong.”

Jungkook huffs. He doesn’t say anything but he does pull his mask down, so that’s a good sign. He bites his bottom lip and then sighs at last. “Yeah. It was uncalled for.”

“I know I haven’t been the best with the Chaeyoung thing,” Seokjin says, calm and collected. “It’s been nearly a year, so I know it doesn’t– well, make sense anymore, trust me, I’m just as shocked as you are. But that line really hurt.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. His voice is all soft and breathy, the slight lisp he possesses coming out a bit. “I know it was hard for you and really, none of us saw it coming…using it against you like that was a low blow. I knew it and did it anyway.”

“Yeah, since, well,” Seokjin gulps, the first acknowledgement of his vulnerability that he absolutely hated. “Well, you were the first one to find out and take care of me so, like. You’re the only one who really knew.”

“I know. It was a cheap shot.” Jungkook begins tapping the car window with his knuckle, a strange beat that he does when he’s wondering or thinking about what to say. Seokjin’s long learnt not to rush him through it. The key to his patience. “Does my…freeloading really bother you that much, hyung?”

It’s the softness of the voice that pinches Seokjin. The slight treble in his pitch, the way it hikes over his breath that makes it pretty clear that Seokjin’s accusation and perhaps his jabs over the years may have been chipping away at Jungkook far longer than he’d known or realised. Guilt floods his lungs and stomach, for Seokjin hates being the reason for Jungkook’s pain.

“No, Kook-ah, are you serious?” He asks but knows he can’t really mock Jungkook for thinking so. “There’s no way on Earth I would ever mind that. I love it, in fact. I,” Seokjin gulps down the bile of vulnerability, the corrosiveness of it. “I love that you have someone you can ask for help for anything without ever thinking twice about it.”

“But it does bother you somewhere, right?” Jungkook asks, looking up from under his bucket hat. “I mean, no one really likes spending that much on a friend, so I definitely crossed some line–”

“Well, you didn’t cross mine,” Seokjin insists. He likes giving, he always has since he paid for Jungkook’s meal the first time in the Seoul Exploration Tour and adored the way he stuffed his chubby face with jjajangmyeon, happiness making a lazy flip in his belly. He loved the way Jungkook had become happier and happier the more they explored the food market then. “I know I’ve griped about it in the past and it’s honestly because it sets you off, and I love it when we fake-argue.”

“God, your kinks are so horrid and I hate that I know them all,” Jungkook remarks, rolling his eyes. “The fact that the others don’t know it really gets to me sometimes, and yet I sacrifice the innocence of my precious mind.”

“Innocent, my fucking ass,” Seokjin replies just as hotly. “You don’t know my kinks. I don’t overshare. I hate it.”

“You absolutely love sharing with me, like the time you told me you liked stuffing yourself with food because you liked the semi-choking sensation from it.” Jungkook shudders, casting a disgusted once-over at Seokjin. “Had to go bleach my mind from knowing that.”

“Okay, listen, in my defence I was single and ready to mingle but with no hot takers. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, Jungkook-ah.” Jungkook shudders again and Seokjin smiles. He can already feel the fight resolved. All he and Jungkook need are some good old few minutes where vulnerability is timed at exactly five minutes, some good old humour and voila! Friendship back on track. “I really am sorry, Kook. Please never stop dipping into my bank account.”

“You got it, daddy.”

“Shut the fuck up, Jungkook, I swear to God, I do not have a daddy kink– get back here! Jungkook!”

 

 

[Time: around noon-ish?]

[Location: Café selected by Jimin that Seokjin doesn’t care to remember]

 

One thing is pretty clear after some thirty minutes of meeting with Jimin, Taehyung and Hoseok:

Jimin isn’t kidding about these wedding lunches, that’s for sure.

And Seokjin’s pretty annoyed at this point.

So. No backing up needed for this part. Jungkook and he had entered the café armed with their charms, their general aloofness and amazing sense of humour, ready to settle things once and for all. The plan discussed in the car (after Seokjin had wrangled him back inside and attracted the attention of judgy ahjummas) had been simple: they march in there, tell Jimin the entire story and end the tom-foolery before it even began. Or became much worse. It was so easy.

But nothing ever comes easy for Seokjin. Sure, things are easy between Jungkook and him, but from the external world? Nada. It’s a little annoying and it’s only due to the combined prowess of their chaotic brain that the two fix shit. However, this time, maybe that might not be enough.

“So yeah. We’re thinking of some wisteria greens, little carnations that make it sweet but not too obvious, you know what I’m saying? Taehyung, show him the designs!” Taehyung shuffles around in his bag for his iPad but Seokjin’s kind of had it up to this point. This is ridiculous. Who believes and carries on something so stupid for so long? What prank are they playing on Seokjin and Jungkook?

Believe it or not, but Seokjin actually can’t handle it when he’s the butt of a joke and he doesn’t know why.

Jungkook, however, is not as incensed about this as Seokjin is. He’s actually pretty chill, slurping in his milkshake (that Seokjin paid for, obviously), only his slightly narrowed eyes an indication of his irritation.

“Aha! There you go, Jin-hyung. The venue, as you can see, is pretty small and tight, not a lot of guests, excellent bathroom facilities which check out because Taehyungie and I–”

“–broke it in with some hot bathroom sex, I’m presuming?” Hoseok drawls cheekily, yelping when Jimin slaps his shoulder, though no one misses the bright spots of red on his plump cheeks. Taehyung only grins, and Seokjin scoffs. The two of them are absolutely shameless. “Jimin-ah, you really need some anger management lessons.”

“Yeah, and some mind-your-business ones as well,” Seokjin mutters, but low enough that no one can hear except Jungkook, who snorts. Seokjin needs to get out of here or he will lose his damn mind. “Jimin, Taehyung– would you excuse us a bit? We need to talk about something.”

Seokjin means to discuss the new development in this domino effect bullshit with Jungkook, in private, but of course– of course, the other three only whistle and wiggle their eyebrows. He groans out loud.

“Ooh, going for some bathroom action of your own, huh, hyung?” Hoseok quips, trying to eat a French fry as sexily as possible but instead misjudging the accuracy and getting ketchup on his face. Seokjin internally crows; he deserved that.

“No, we just have– some important conversations that are 100% PG. Or even lower than that.”

“Lower, nice,” Taehyung says now, wiggling his eyebrows and making super obvious eye contact with his crotch, which, what the fuck. Why are his friends so weird. “Hey, Jungkook-ah– I would recommend the second to last stall, it’s got this super loud flush and door rattles that drown out any…sounds.”

“Great, I’m totally going to be avoiding that,” Jungkook snarks back, going ahead of Seokjin while Seokjin flips the bird and trails behind, ignoring the hoots of the heathens. “Fucking desecrating a McDonalds’ outlet; god, those two have zero shame.”

“I mean, maybe the sizzle of the oil gets things really sizzling, you know?”

Jungkook side-eyes him, disgusted. “Hey, Jin-hyung, let’s keep the food kinks discussion for later, yeah?” He speed walks ahead, leaving Seokjin squawking in surprise. He rescues Jungkook and this is what he gets. The world has no respect for the old and the beautiful.

Once they’re in an empty stall– a reasonably clean one at the start of the washroom rather than whatever terror Taehyung suggested– Seokjin locks the stall and Jungkook leans against the door, uncaring of the millions of germs getting on his hoodie. Seokjin is cultured, however, so he chooses to sit primly on the toilet seat after spraying it with sanitiser.

“So, why are we here?” Jungkook asks after five minutes of Seokjin making himself comfortable pass.

“To make love, Jungkookie, why else?” Seokjin deadpans, then huffs suddenly when Jungkook pokes his side viciously. Okay, bad thing to joke about when it’s such a sensitive topic. “Sorry, sorry– god, you’re way too spoilt.”

“It’s all hyung’s fault for letting me get away with stuff,” he replies just as easily, absolutely unbothered. He’s not wrong; Seokjin is a wimp when it comes to his dongsaengs. So yeah, his entire friend circle basically. “Before they get even more ideas, you wanna tell me what’s up? Or is this like a breather because Jimin-hyung’s fucking insane?”

“Both, I suppose,” Seokjin says, catching his breath. “So– clearly everyone’s taking this way too seriously and now I am…suspicious.”

Jungkook hums. He picks the dirt under his nails. “I have a feeling I know what you’re thinking but go on. Spill.”

“First of all– it’s weird you’re not bothered. You were nearly breaking down yesterday.”

“I was jet-lagged, sue me,” Jungkook shrugs, still the picture of perfect nonchalance. A leg crossed over another, arms crossed, posture lazy as a cat’s…

“You’re up to something,” Seokjin states immediately. He would recognise Jungkook’s scheming act anywhere.

“Welllll,” Jungkook sings, a little off-key which is an even surer sign because Jungkook’s singing is excellent. “Not really up to something. But I’m well-rested today, and I had some great milkshake that really filled my stomach and my heart, and it got my, you know, brain thinking.”

“Ah. A rarity, let’s frame this moment.”

“Shut up,” Jungkook scowls. It’s cute because he looks so harmless. “I can only guess what you’re thinking but here’s mine– I think they’re playing a prank on us.”

A beat of silence, two. Someone flushes a toilet down the stalls and both wait for the person to leave before they continue.

“Sorry. Did you say prank?” Seokjin notes. Jungkook nods, rubbing his hands slightly.

“Think about it– why would our friends, who have known us for so long, suddenly be all up in our asses? Why would they believe photos and posts that clearly look like a drunken ride through hell?” Jungkook says all this excitedly like he’s onto something. And maybe, he is. “All these years and they’re suddenly acting like it’s the coming of Jesus. Which means they’re definitely up to something.”

“Sounds plausible,” Seokjin nods. He wasn’t up for conspiracy theories against his friends on a Saturday afternoon but this is what his life has come to, he supposes. “I mean, they haven’t let either of us contribute to the planning either!”

“Exactly!” Jungkook begins to pace, or well, tries to, given how small the stall is. But his restlessness is building up and Seokjin has maybe five minutes before he begins shooting off like a crazy ball. “I bet they just want to annoy us and tease us, I don’t know the reason, and it’s working. Or well– it was working.”

“Now it’s not?”

“Every joke or prank loses its magic once you discover what makes it funny,” Jungkook says, rather ominously. “I began to think that way when they cut you off at your, what, fourth attempt to explain? It felt strange to me. Like, why not take the main stars’ approval for their plans, right?”

Seokjin nods. It makes so much sense now. “I have to admit, that’s pretty freaking smart, Jungkook-ah.”

Jungkook beams. His eyes crinkle happily and Seokjin is so fond. He’s just so cute. “All those detective dramas paid off, hell yes.”

“Yes, let’s hope this does not end in crime,” Seokjin adds hastily. Just to be sure. He knows Jungkook doesn’t have an evil bone in his body, but still. Can never be too certain. “Sooo…what do we do now?”

It is then that Jungkook grins. Not his happy one, but something…sinister. A little more gleeful. Seokjin’s totally taking back that evil bone assessment. He definitely knows this Jungkook alright.

“I’m so glad you asked, hyung,” Jungkook says, rubbing his hands even more forcefully than before. “You know what they say– answer a prank with a prank.”

“I’m pretty sure no one’s ever said that,” Seokjin replies. Trepidation gathers under his sternum. “What prank are you planning now?”

“First of all– yes, there is, it’s called tit for tat but I didn’t want to sound all boring and scholarly like Namjoon hyung,” Jungkook gripes. “Second– we prank them by doing exactly what they think we’re doing.”

Seokjin’s officially lost. “What now?”

“God, hyung, you’re so slow in your old age!” Jungkook whines, and at that very moment someone whistles outside, which heats up Seokjin’s cheeks. Oh goodness, they’ve been in here a long time. “We prank them by pretending to be in a fake relationship! They think they’re just making us uncomfortable but we’re gonna up the metre!”

“Huh.” Seokjin mulls over it. He’s learned the art from his father, and also his business meetings when he has to pretend to be interested in whatever bullshit PowerPoint presentation there is. “So like– weird them out by doing all relationship heavy stuff?”

“Yep! We out weird them and soon enough they’ll back off because c’mon, who can handle us when we’re being sweet and gushy?”

“Definitely not that waiter at Namsan Tower,” Seokjin says, a grin of his own taking over. This is genius. This is great. Seokjin and Jungkook were known to be pretty low-key despite how loud they pretended they were, how noisy, and seeing them so disgusting like they had been that one time would really put their friends off. “Wow, Jungkook-ah. Hyung’s impressed.”

“Hyung’s about to be wined and dined, bitches,” is his reply, and Seokjin has his revenge at last by poking Jungkook this time. Jungkook groans and when the whistle sounds, it’s definitely Hoseok’s. Seokjin bangs the stall door only once, a warning sign and Hoseok’s giggles trail behind him. “So– you in?”

Seokjin smirks back. “Always, Jungkook-ah. Hyung will never say no to you.”

 

 

The first step of a prank– make it believable.

Seokjin walks out of the bathroom with his head held high. His hair, however, is a right mess, something he doesn’t usually allow because of how much he curates his appearance into casual perfection. But right now, his hair looks like Jungkook went to town on it– which he kind of did.

“Did you have to tug so hard,” he hisses at Jungkook while walking towards their table. Their table where their friends are grinning hard as Cheshire cats. “This scalp is insured, Jungkook. Insured.”

“I don’t relate to your rich people lifestyle,” Jungkook snaps back. He’s not much better off, what with his own hair all over the place (more so than usual; Jungkook never quite grew out of his college phase) and the area just beneath his ear a light pink that Seokjin had pinched for over five minutes to immolate a hickey. Not bad for art. “And yes– it’s for all those times you pulled me around by my hair instead of my ear.”

“Everything’s about revenge for you. Why are we dating again?”

“Because no one’s ever gonna make you work for it as I do.”

And isn’t that the truth. Seokjin knows Jungkook meant it as a joke, except it’s not. Jungkook really does make him work for it. How, he can’t enumerate, but his body sure agrees. Again, this is not meant sexually. At all.

They make the walk of shame towards the table, and just before they sit, he feels Jungkook’s hand intertwine with his, something he’s not exactly bothered by but something that’s rare enough it feels– out of place. They’re soft, however, a testament to Jungkook’s obsession with smelling nice and having an array of products for every part of his body.

“So, how was the ‘important’ talk?” Jimin starts, and even though nothing happened, Seokjin still blushes. His ears are red hot and it’s all the focused attention, he swears. “Was it all heated?”

“Well– I mean– it was something,” Seokjin begins, stumbling over his word. Great start. Excellent. “What I mean to say is, it was, um, special and needed, and uh–”

“What hyung means to say is– it was just what we needed,” Jungkook cuts in, tone low and– is he simpering? He’s looking through hooded eyelashes and a soft smile on his face, and– yeah, he’s totally simpering. He’s laying it on thick. What the fuck, Seokjin can’t be the loser here. “You know how it gets. One day you’re carrying on, the next day you’re married to someone as amazing as hyung.”

Jungkook plays with the hair at Seokjin’s neck as he says so, sending involuntary shivers down his spine. If Seokjin didn’t know of the plan or how terrible Jungkook’s acting was in reality, he would have bought it– hook, line and sinker.

“Right. And sometimes all that excitement just needs a release,” Seokjin adds and covers his wince when Jungkook pinches his thigh. That sounded like a line from a porno; he deserved that. He turns towards Taehyung, who’s staring. “Thanks for the bathroom tip, Tae. It really helped.”

“The flush was so loud! I almost didn’t hear Jin hyung co- uh, cry,” Jungkook omits, and Taehyung’s face screws up in disgust. Hah, it was already working. “Jin hyung, that thing you did with my nipple, do that again when we get back home–”

“Okay, okay, stop, that’s disgusting,” Taehyung breaks. Jimin is looking both disgusted and vaguely…turned on? Which is just disturbing. And Hoseok is tomato red. “As much as I love that you two lovebirds finally got together, please refrain from talking about Jin-hyung like that. He’s my brother.”

“Cousin,” Seokjin adds out of reflex, and Taehyung glares. “What? It’s important.”

“It doesn’t negate that I’ve still seen you with diapers or at family meets, hyung, please,” Taehyung adds. “Just– maybe not in public.”

“Not in public?” Jungkook blinks, and uh-oh, that’s not good news. “Not in public? I’ve had to bail you out because of your dumb exhibition kink!”

“Why do you keep track of everyone’s kinks, Jungkook-ah, that’s concerning,” Seokjin butts in, and now he faces Jungkook’s glare.

“Because no amount of #Don’tKinkShame can actually reduce how embarrassed people get over their kinks, hyung,” Jungkook responds, lips pressed. He turns towards Taehyung, who looks sheepish now. “Do I need to remind you about the millions of time I’ve seen you with your tongue shoved down Jimin’s throat? Or that I’ve been the unfortunate witness to both your dicks?”

“I mean, we all have them–”

“If I want to PDA the fuck out of hyung then I will do it, and you two are the last people to be stopping me,” Jungkook says hotly, and both Jimin and Taehyung shut their mouths. Hoseok slurps in his milkshake like his life depends on it, eyes going back and forth between the two. And Seokjin, well.

Seokjin’s kind of taken aback, not having anticipated how defensive Jungkook could get over a fake relationship. Or that his hands can actually get clammy, which ew, he was a higher level of being, he can’t be sweating like a regular human. Disgusting.

“I don’t think they meant to challenge you, babe,” Seokjin inputs, at last, freeing his hand and casually wiping it on his jeans. He chooses instead to wrap it around Jungkook’s waist and pull him in close, the epitome of a couple just married. “You can PDA me all you want.”

Jungkook huffs, still glaring at Taehyung and Jimin. “Good. Because I will.”

Then he turns sideways and softly pecks Seokjin’s cheek.

“Oh my god, look at Jin hyung’s ears,” Jimin gushes, while Hoseok laughs and Taehyung lowers his head. Jungkook only leans back, smug and way too chill for something they’d never discussed. Not that Seokjin minded but– holy crap, his ears were hot. “They’re so red they could be a new colour of its own.”

“Damn, Jungkook, you sure do have an effect,” Hoseok comments, even leaning in to touch the top of Seokjin’s ears like it’s free real estate. Seokjin slaps his hand away.

“Shut up! It’s because all of you are focusing on me,” Seokjin splutters, cupping his ears and wanting to die. This was embarrassing, really, why didn’t Jungkook warn him–

“Hey, don’t tease him like that,” Jungkook says, taking Seokjin’s hands away–gently– and into his own. He has the softest expression on his face as he rubs the lobe of the ear between his fingers, and Seokjin’s stomach jumps. This is way out of control. “Would you guys like it if people deliberately made fun of you?”

“Well, you do it all the time,” Jimin says, raising an eyebrow. Jungkook rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, well, I’m the exception because I’m the maknae, hyung, duh. But anyway– let’s not push hyung, okay? He’s new to all this.”

“About that,” Hoseok starts, lips pursed. His voice sounds serious, and Jungkook instinctively winds his hand through Seokjin’s again. “When the fuck did you guys start dating? I mean, I’m all for weddings, but, uh, don’t they usually happen with…some experience? Thought?”

Excellent observation that Seokjin and Jungkook hadn’t even thought of, holy crap. He looks at Jungkook briefly, who looks equally as panicked. His eyes shake and Seokjin realises how Jungkook isn’t that good with on the spot bullshitting. That’s mostly Seokjin’s speciality.

“We, uh, kinda– um, actually–”

“A month after Chaeyoung,” Seokjin cuts in, not wanting Jungkook to come up with some lie that most probably would not hold, especially in front of Hoseok. He was an excellent observer. All three of them blink in surprise. “We, uh– I mean, it just happened? I realised why it didn’t work with Chaeyoung, I was obviously bummed about it and Jungkook– really helped me through it.” Seokjin looks down at their connected hands, feeling that awful vulnerability collect in his throat. Sometimes bullshitting required dipping into the truth, and this was one Seokjin didn’t mind. “He was there throughout, way more than required and it just dawned on me, then, that he would– always be there for me? We go way back and there’s no one that’s stuck more or made sense so…”

“Yeah,” Jungkook breathes, and to the audience maybe it looked like A+ acting but Seokjin’s listened to Jungkook’s whispers long enough to tell them apart by sound alone. “Yeah, we just kind of realised that there’s nothing better than us, right? So it made sense to…try.”

“And the trial kept on going,” Seokjin continues, a tight ball in his throat. Why was this so weird to say? “We didn’t want to tell anyone because he’s my best friend, what if we messed up or something? But then this Vegas thing happened and we realised we’d never get a chance like this again. And there would be…no one like Jungkook. So here we are.”

Jungkook’s looking at him strangely, but nodding swiftly. “Here we are indeed. Married, ha-ha.”

Silence surrounds the usually loud table, though, for some bizarre reason, Seokjin’s heart feels loud in his ears.

“That’s cute as fuck,” Jimin says, at last, his eyes a little misty. “I totally agree. I’ve been begging for this to happen for so long, the gods have abandoned me.”

Seokjin frowns. What does Jimin mean–

“But that still doesn’t explain a whole fucking wedding, though?” Hoseok asks, frowning for entirely different reasons. “I respect the wedding craze but one year is…”

It’s Jungkook who answers, sighing. His grip feels a little more confident now, and he tugs it close to his chest. Cheesy. “Yeah, I know. Especially so soon after Chaeyoung-noona but…Do you guys remember the dumb pact hyung and I made?”

Seokjin widens his eyes. What is Jungkook doing–?

“Wait. The thirty and single one?” Taehyung chips in, having finally raised his head now that the threat of PDA is non-existent. “What the fuck that, wasn’t that some dumb joke between you and hyung?”

“It was, but since it already existed…it just made perfect sense.” Jungkook crosses his arms, though he doesn’t release Seokjin’s hand and now he’s trapped. Physically, metaphorically. “I mean, we already knew this was it so why not, right? It finally served its purpose.”

“And so…you got married…in Vegas. Of all places,” Jimin says quietly. Seokjin and Jungkook shrug.

There’s a quiet, contemplative silence once more before all three of them nod and move to pay the bill, lunch effectively ended. Seokjin hadn’t expected that, but Taehyung’s grimacing a bit looking at them, so.

“I find it both endearing and kind of stupid and I hate that this is how you two idiots bonked and made up,” is what he says, while Jimin giggles behind. “But for real– I hadn’t been expecting this.”

“It’s young love, Taehyungie, leave hyung alone,” Hoseok chides. He turns towards them, his gaze warm. And sincere, which wasn’t what Jungkook and he had planned for at all. “For all intents and purposes, hyung– I think it’s really cute and fits the two of you well. I can’t wait to help plan the perfect wedding for you guys.”

Wait. That’s not what–

“And I can’t wait to cry at your wedding and ruin my make-up! So it’s time to shove it and plan, plan, plan!” Jimin shrieks, waving a hasty goodbye while shoving Taehyung and Hoseok out the door, leaving Seokjin and Jungkook alone in silence.

It lasts a while before–

“Okay,” Jungkook says after a contemplative moment. Seokjin nods in a daze. “What the fuck?”

Yeah. What the fuck indeed.

 

 

[Time: 5:54 p.m.]

[Location: Jungkook’s apartment]

 

They’re at Jungkook’s place this time. It’s a pale comparison to Seokjin’s penthouse but one that Seokjin feels certainly more comfortable at than his mansion of metal and glass. Jungkook’s apartment screams of him: a disarray of various interests arranged neatly, in hues of black, white and grey– which are the only three colours Jungkook seems to like, in contrast to Seokjin’s loud love for bright pinks and blues. Additionally, there’s a splash of yellow here and there– which the younger admits is the only colour he makes an exception for.

They’re back here because things did not go as planned, and when things don’t go as planned, the usual plan is to get a little shit-faced with cheap soju and takeout. Which is Jungkook’s speciality.

“Okay. So maybe our plan didn’t work out,” Jungkook says, watching Seokjin wear a hole into the rug underneath. Seokjin’s even bare feet, which is an indication of the crisis in his head. “Hyung– calm down, you’re going to ruin my carpet.”

“I’ll buy you a new one,” Seokjin replies absent-mindedly, though he does stop. This is bad. This is a deal gone bad. “Oh goodness, this is horrid.”

Jungkook rolls his eyes, stuffing his face with jjajangmyeon followed by a swig of peach flavoured soju. “I mean, shit happens, hyung–”

“Not shit like this!” Seokjin exclaims, hands up in the air. “Jungkook– it’s not about our prank not working out. It’s about the fact that there was most probably nothing to begin with but we went ahead and did something idiotic! Instead of clearing it out as we planned.”

“Right, yes, that is an issue,” Jungkook says through a mouth full of food, gross. “Clearly neither of us saw our friends being…serious about our marriage.”

“The look in Hoseok’s eyes will haunt me,” Seokjin laments, clutching his head. He plops down into the couch and his stomach grumbles. “Now our friends think we have some sappy love story to back our wedding and are planning it with even more gusto!”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad–”

“Maybe if you stop stuffing yourself and check your phone, you’ll see the nightmare of an itinerary Jimin sent a while back,” Seokjin snaps, snatching the bowl of jjajangmyeon from Jungkook’s hand and proceeding to stuff himself instead while Jungkook squawks in indignation. “Lesson learnt. Never let Jimin plan anything ever.”

“He did all this…in three hours?” Jungkook asks, swiping through their group chat and checking the PDF document Jimin sent an hour back. It’s bright and terrible, flooded with pictures of Seokjin and Jungkook that Seokjin didn’t even know existed. Or that they looked decidedly…in love in them. Like a couple, whatever the fuck, which wasn’t what Seokjin needed to see. Or know.

“So you see why I’m right to freak out,” Seokjin quips. Jungkook looks guilty, his bottom lip quivering while his teeth try to tear into it. Out of habit, he uses his chopsticks to stop him. “I don’t think we can explain our way out of this anymore.”

“We can still talk…it’s not too late, right?”

Seokjin places his chopsticks in the now-empty bowl, dabbing at his mouth for leftover sauce. Then he turns to face Jungkook with hopefully pity in his eyes.

“We could have, except the costs are even more and also– you did a great fucking job laying it on so thick, buddy.”

Jungkook catches on and loses the doubtful expression. He crosses his arms now. “If you hadn’t been such a terrible actor, I wouldn’t have had to,” he says.

“Terrible actor? Me?” Seokjin points at himself. “I’ll remind you that I was the actor they looked out for in college–”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re worldwide talented, I know. But that still didn’t stop you from stuttering like some virgin when the main question was asked, was it?” Jungkook teases, a grin rising around the corner of his lips. Seokjin can’t believe this. “Red ears from a little peck, my, my, Kim Seokjin–”

“It was the suddenness of it!” Seokjin yelps while Jungkook finally breaks into cackles at last. “You did not warn me about this, Jeon Jungkook.”

Jungkook keeps cackling. “Now, now, hyung, where’s the fun in that?”

“I’ll have you know, consent is very sexy,” Seokjin shoots blindly. Jungkook stops and leans back, eyes filled with mirth. A smirk dances around his lips, and for a brief moment, for a very brief moment, Seokjin’s gaze is distracted.

“And I’ll have you know that all the blushing was quite sexy too,” Jungkook quips, voice soft and eyelashes lowered. Seokjin shivers out of nowhere. “So I’d say it was worth it, overall.”

He stares into Seokjin’s eyes and for a moment– an ugly doubt rises in Seokjin’s chest. Not a doubt, but a sensation, the same sensation he gets when he knows he’s being made fun of but doesn’t know why, when he knows something is off but can’t put a finger on it. Something’s changed but he can’t name it, not right now. And it’s all pooled in Jungkook’s dark, starry eyes.

It keeps rising until Seokjin, an expert in squashing down his feelings, breaks whatever the fuck it is. “Jungkook-ah…are you trying to flirt with me?”

Jungkook blinks before breaking into cackles again, hands over his knees and tears out of his eyes. “Gotta admit, that got you good.”

“There’s a reason I used the word trying, Jungkook, it was really not.”

“Sure, sure, tell yourself that,” Jungkook says cheekily, collecting all the empty glasses and bowls. “You and I both know I don’t have to try, not with you at least.”

He walks off before Seokjin can think of anything smart to say, the echoes of his cackles haunting the hallway.

 

 

[Location: Yoongi and Namjoon’s apartment]

 

Admittedly, Seokjin has no choice but to accept his fate with a grain of salt. Jungkook handles the turn of events far better than he, which is a twist he never saw coming– after all, his Jungkook is more prone to feeling things while Seokjin’s the suave, in-control guy that saves the day with his bullshitting. That’s how it’s always been.

Yet, this is something that Seokjin’s never thought about, not even in passing. Sure, he and Jungkook are close, and sure, they’ve done the odd fake dates at the club to get rid of creeps. Save the Namsan Tower incident, which really was just them being indecent as hell for a bet (thank god neither of them got arrested), Seokjin and Jungkook have more or less been tight and on the same page.

This isn’t to say they’re not now, but– it’s not every day one gets married to said best friend, and it’s not every day that said best friend’s friends treat it as the most normal thing in the world, accepting the event without blinking an eye before throwing themselves into the planning process. His friends are warm, understanding and looking at the two of them with adoration instead, and Seokjin– he doesn’t know what to make of it.

“Yoongi-hyung volunteered to compose the entire wedding soundtrack,” he hears Jimin say, though it sounds like it’s coming through a sponge. Seokjin’s been that way for a couple of days. “He said Jungkook really likes piano compositions, so he’s busy with that.”

“Good. And Namjoon hyung?” Taehyung asks, chewing on a pencil while gazing down on a notepad. Jimin reaches out to smoothen the wrinkles on his forehead. It’s such a tender gesture, and Seokjin involuntarily thinks back to how he sometimes does the same for Jungkook when he’s stressed, but– that’s different.

“He registered himself as an officiant so he’ll be saying the vows and what not,” Jimin murmurs. Seokjin blocks them out then, getting up to leave and wallow in the kitchen. Maybe make himself a drink while he’s at it.

They’re gathered at Yoongi and Namjoon’s apartment to celebrate Yoongi’s birthday. The tell-tale signs of spring linger about in the air, though the sharp chill of winter still persists; it’s Yoongi’s favourite weather. And Yoongi being Yoongi will never go all out for something as basic as birthdays. He’d given the planning reigns to Hoseok and had only requested it be a ‘super chill gathering and no idiots invited’, so naturally it meant the presence of the only idiots in Yoongi’s life: their collective friend circle.

It’s Yoongi’s birthday and generally, Seokjin’s pretty pumped about his friends’ birthdays. He loves making them happy and having dumb competitions on who wished whom first. But right now, he’s bummed. He’s about as grey as a winter morning and the weather’s all depressing. He wishes he weren’t and yet, he can’t stop. He’s also sure Yoongi might have picked up on it– honestly, out of all their friends, Yoongi’s the closest to reading Seokjin like a pro, and Seokjin’s sure it’s because Yoongi possesses some perceptive superpowers. There’s no way regular people can pick through Seokjin’s carefully curated image unless he wants to be read.

Point being– Seokjin’s weirdly sad, Yoongi probably knows about it but in true Yoongi fashion will not initiate the stupid what’s wrong questions, and life isn’t looking so bright.

And of course, it becomes even sadder when he enters the kitchen hoping to be alone but finds Jungkook there, making his own drink. Not that Jungkook is ever the reason for sadness.

“Escaping the madness out there as well, I see,” Jungkook quips, pouring an absurd amount of vodka into his cup, mixing with a pathetic amount of chaser. This boy, Seokjin swears. “Welcome to my retreat.”

“It’s not yours,” Seokjin grumbles, leaning against the counter and closing his eyes. He hates when his moods get like this. “This sucks. Make me one.”

“It sure does,” Jungkook murmurs, something sad and pensive and worried in his eyes as well, though he looks much better than Seokjin feels. “They’re really into this, huh? Tequila or vodka?”

“Tequila; vodka is for heathens,” Seokjin says, and Jungkook rolls his eyes, though he looks fond. “Fucking hell, Kook– they’ve roped in Yoongi for composing the songs. Namjoon’s registered as an officiant. I don’t know how it got out of hand like this.”

Jungkook downs his shot, chasing it down with lemon and salt. He scrunches his nose and for a brazen moment, Seokjin kind of wants to poke it. “Well– it’s either that or we tell our friends, and watch a shitstorm start right in this tiny apartment.”

The thing is, logically, Seokjin can explain the mess to his friends. He’s sure they wouldn’t mind. Maybe curse them out, maybe Jimin would have to be held back by Taehyung– or so Seokjin wants to believe. The truth is, he doesn’t know. He’d seen the PDF and done the calculations in his head. He’d checked out the venue and had nearly choked at the price of the booking. Jimin hadn’t asked Seokjin or Jungkook for a single penny and now, it was too late for…ethical reasons. Not-to-be-a-dick to his friends’ reasons. He could pay Jimin back everything they invested, no doubt, but the joy on their friends’ face…

“It’s not even just the money, you know,” Jungkook mutters suddenly, leaning next to Seokjin and looking out at the living room where Jimin and Taehyung fret over their wedding notes, Hoseok attempts to hang party streamers and Yoongi yells at him to take it down or how Namjoon’s busy fiddling with the speakers and will probably break them soon. “I thought about it first. I mean, it’s obviously not an issue for you and I would have definitely paid you back the half but…”

“But?” Seokjin probes, the same uncertain, odd sensation gathering in the pit of his stomach. He grips the kitchen counter reflexively as if his entire body is hooked on Jungkook’s words. It’s strange. It’s never been done before.

“But they’re happy,” Jungkook sighs, sipping at his second cup of the day. “It’s weird and I don’t get it, I don’t get how someone can be that stoked for their friends but I don’t want to put a damper on their spirits now, you know?” He turns towards Seokjin with a question in his eyes, like he’s asking Seokjin if he’d be willing to do that. And the thing is– no, he can’t. He’s had the same thought pass through his head throughout the evening, the entire story at the very verge of his tongue that he swallowed down each time he was met with Jimin’s excited eyes or Hoseok’s comforting warmth, with Taehyung’s exaggerated gags but congratulatory pats. Or even how Namjoon and Yoongi had both raised their hands in congratulations with a rare, “I couldn’t be happier for you, Jin-hyung,” from Yoongi that Seokjin had never expected to hear in his lifetime. Yoongi just wasn’t that expressive verbally.

It’s off-kilter. It’s weird, and it all feels like a big colossal joke that his friends are on and Seokjin’s banging the door on the other side, begging to be let in.

“So what? We pretend to be married for the rest of our lives?” Seokjin asks, the important question at the back of both of their minds. “It’s a big thing, Jungkook-ah. Not just some dumb date.”

Jungkook looks down, troubled. His eyes swim with confusion, and fear, a little bit of doubt that Seokjin knows like the back of his hand, has been the recipient of more often than not. Jungkook bites his lips. Out of reflex, Seokjin taps against them again. “Well. Yeah. We can do that, pretend for a while. When the excitement is down and it’s all hush, we can…announce that we’re breaking up? Or it didn’t work out the way we expected.”

“And if they ask why we aren’t awkward? It’s a marriage breaking, not a random fight.”

“I’m sure we’ll cook up something then, hyung,” Jungkook responds softly, touching his cup with Seokjin’s. “You and I are good at that.”

 

 

Pretending to be married or in love or whatever, however, does come with its pitfalls.

Such as Seokjin never realising that, hey, he’s now in a relationship with Jungkook, which means he has to show it to the world. The world being their closest friends who have been with them since they were stupid university kids, and who can pick apart lies blindfolded.

It’s one thing to agree to an even dumber plan with Jungkook. It’s another to not really think about it, and have it backfire in even more ways.

Case example one: a game of (rigged) Spin the Bottle.

Party games will never get old, no matter how old they get and how much their backs hurt from said old age. Sitting around in a circle playing college-level games may not sound appealing but when one’s drunk off their ass, everything is acceptable.

Seokjin should have known his friends, especially Jimin and Hoseok, would be up to no good. His ears should have stood up straight when they made him sit opposite Jungkook cackling away while Jungkook had looked at him confusedly. He should have known it was planned to all heavens when they brought out the empty beer bottle and placed it in the middle, smug grins gracing their faces.

And just as his luck would have it, Yoongi had managed to get quite drunk and was louder than usual, the total life of the party. The one-time Seokjin wanted his friend to be his quiet, stoic self with excellent alcohol tolerance is the one time the Universe blasts a big fuck you at him. He blames Taehyung’s terrible punch for all the mayhem.

So here he is. He’s tipsy, but his heart races every time the bottle spins. He doesn’t know why he’s bothered; he’s fake made out with his friends at least once in his life and not thought twice about it. Well, not all his friends; Yoongi would have punched him, Taehyung is his brother and Jungkook is…well.

He’s not going to think about it now.

He zones back in time to catch Jimin leaning across and shoving his tongue into Hoseok, and of course, they make a show of it. Taehyung’s eyes glimmer; he’s got to be the most secure boyfriend Seokjin’s ever seen. Hoseok smacks his lips afterwards and Jimin winks. Seokjin wonders for the umpteenth time if the three of them have something going on. Then he sees Hoseok shudder, so probably not.

What an odd rag tag of a group.

He zones out enough that he doesn’t catch Jimin spinning the bottle, or that when he zones back in, the bottle is pointing towards him and– Jungkook.

Great. Fucking great.

“The universe wants the lovebirds to go at ittttt,” Jimin sings. Hoseok cackles, Yoongi raises his glass while Namjoon wraps a hand around his waist to keep him straight, but Seokjin’s heart is in overdrive. He gazes up, horror coating his tongue in a black sludge as he meets Jungkook’s eyes, whose eyes are shifting between his and the bottle.

He’s staring at the bottle hard like he could convince it to move elsewhere. A brief pang of pity throbs throughout Seokjin because goodness, this is not the way to be put on the spot. Why didn’t either of them think about this?

“Hello, Seokjin-hyung, Jungkookie, what are y’all waiting for?” Taehyung quips, waving a hand between them. It does nothing to deter the horror in their eyes, the single thought that they’re both surely sharing.

“Shh, Tae, I think they’re having, like, a moment,” Jimin whispers, and the noise lowers. No, there is no moment, Seokjin wants to yell. But his voice is caught in his throat and his gaze is trapped by Jungkook’s, whose eyes are wide with– not terror, but something close to it. Fear or doubt, Seokjin can’t name it.

“Oh, like, how they wanna go about this?” Taehyung whispers, and it’s too much, the way that odd feeling crawls up his throat and wants to dislodge itself as a scream. “I hope they contain themselves. Don’t want things to get nasty.”

“Are you guys doing it any time soon, though?” Hoseok asks, his cheeks already red from that one shot he had.

They didn’t plan for this. Sure, Jungkook had pecked him on the cheek and sure, Seokjin’s given Jungkook his share of fond forehead kisses (only when he’s sleeping though) but spin the bottle is nasty. It’s meant to be short and messy, and the point is– they didn’t plan for this.

Jungkook, however, reaches some conclusion in his head because he’s leaning in, cupping the back of Seokjin’s neck and pulling him in close into his space, landing a soft kiss that Seokjin– doesn’t return. Is too shocked to, even as their friends holler and cheer them on. Jungkook notices, and presses in even harder, a slight nip at his lip to break Seokjin out of his stupor, and Seokjin kisses back briefly at last.

There’s no tongue involved, but it’s seared into his lips, into his mind. Jungkook tastes of strawberry chap-stick and peach soju, his lips thin but moisturised– and soft. Seokjin isn’t sure of where he stands or how long it lasts but soon, he’s being pushed away and he stumbles back down, mind in a daze.

Jungkook doesn’t look any better, though his face is bright pink. Seokjin might very well be the same, and his ears–

“They’re so red, holy crap, you guys weren’t kidding,” Yoongi comments, and he feels long spindly fingers over his ears. He doesn’t even slap them away, for the beating of his heart is much too loud in his chest and in over his ears. “Didn’t know Seokjin-hyung would be so shy around Jungkookie.”

“They’re so cute, my heart hurts,” Jimin wails, flinging himself into Taehyung’s lap, who pats him on the head while his own eyes shine with tears. What happened to his brother being disgusted with him, he doesn’t know. “Spin the bottle is supposed to be dirty but look at them! They made even that cute! I don’t know what to do with myself, Taehyung-ah!”

Seokjin can’t look anywhere but the floor. He thinks he might puke or– maybe it’s that odd feeling manifesting in his stomach and he can’t name it, doesn’t want to. For the first time in a long time, he can’t think of bullshitting and carrying on, can’t think of faking a smile so the young ones can enjoy. He’s not mad, exactly, but he’s– confused, at the very least, and the company of his wildly drunk friends is the last place he wants to be for the inevitable meltdown building up.

He tries, though. He does try, listens to the chatter as white noise and keeps praying the bottle doesn’t land his way, and the universe listens for once. Yet, he can’t make eye contact, can’t think and he doesn’t want to, doesn’t want to mess this up but–

“Sorry, guys, I have to– I have to leave, just received a message from work,” Seokjin blurts out, holding up his phone. The noise stops, but Seokjin avoids everyone’s gaze. Avoids the one gaze that would unearth him right there and then.

“Oh. So suddenly?” Yoongi questions, frowning. He must be drunker than usual if he’s actually asking instead of taking it at face value.

“Yeah, just– one of the restaurants had an issue, have to go sort that out,” Seokjin lies hastily, gathering his belongings and car keys, putting on his coat. He bends down to hug Yoongi once. “Happy birthday, Yoongi-chi. I hope you receive many tangerines.”

“Thanks, hyung, have a safe drive,” Yoongi murmurs, but his hug is tighter than normal and he uses the opportunity to whisper in Seokjin’s ear. “I’m there if you need to talk about whatever.”

“Thanks, Yoongi. Bye, everyone,” he says, not even looking back to see how they react or whether they caught on or whether–

Jungkook was watching. Seokjin simply runs away.

 

 

Seokjin’s still awake, nursing his own drink when he hears the jingling of keys and the stumbling of feet, a sliver of light enter the hallway before the bang of the front door shutting.

He keeps sitting at the table, in the dark, watching the way the moonlight hits the glass just right, shows the bright amber of his drink. He keeps staring at it until he’s wholly aware of the presence of another being in front of him, waiting, watching.

“Comfortable, are we?” Jungkook finally says, his soft voice loud in the silence of Seokjin’s apartment, the vastness of it.

Seokjin raises his glass in salute. He’s sad, yes, but there’s also the ugliness of anger, of being wronged or taken for granted chipping away at him underneath. He had wanted utter silence but he should have expected this. Jungkook is the only one to have the keys to his place.

“Want a drink?” Is what Seokjin says instead of the tiny million words he wants to bleed out, that have been building inside since the kiss.

“Does it taste better after bailing your friends? Because if yes, sure, why the fuck not.”

“Okay, back down,” Seokjin spits, taking in his drink and standing to wash the glass. He’s not drunk per se, just pleasantly tipsy. He can see and hear and talk alright. “Do not give me a fucking attitude.”

“Oh yeah, sure, that’s the main concern when you bailed your friend on his birthday,” Jungkook snaps back, still taut at the table. Seokjin can feel the waves of tension coming his way. “Or how you bailed on me.”

“So that’s the issue, isn’t it, Jungkook-ah,” Seokjin laughs, keeping the glass and wiping his hands dry on the kitchen towel before turning around, leaning against the counter. Now his arms are crossed. He’s calmed down plenty since the near breakdown at Yoongi’s, but the energy still bubbles. It craves release. “Seokjin-hyung left his darling Jungkookie all by himself like the big bad man he is.”

“You know it’s not that, don’t be a dick,” Jungkook hisses. His own arms are crossed. “It was rude and I felt alone, considering you’re not the only one who is– affected.”

“Well,” Seokjin starts, tasting the words on his tongue, knowing that they would be devastating, wanting to say them anyway. “You should have thought of that before kissing me without a warning, don’t you think?”

Jungkook flinches but keeps mum. He knows Seokjin is right, that this is the crux of the matter. Seokjin is easy going most of the time, willing to go for hair-brained schemes or pranks, always willing to be the good-natured hyung. He likes acting young, likes the adventure and spontaneity instead of the stuffiness of following an age hierarchy beyond reason. However, he has his limits. He has certain boundaries, and he doesn’t appreciate them being crossed. Most people who know Seokjin know this. Jungkook, of all people, definitely knows this.

“I had to– we were being too suspicious,” Jungkook says, shoulders hunched. There isn’t any excuse, though. He knows this.

“Then you could have simply said something!” Seokjin exclaims. “There were ten different ways of doing this than choosing the one thing neither of us agreed upon, Jungkook, what were you thinking–”

“Well, maybe you could have said something as well!” Jungkook yells back, fire in his voice and his eyes. His fists are clenched. “But no, you had to freeze and be a terrible actor even though you keep saying you’re the best of the best, I’m honestly–”

“This isn’t an opportunity for you to justify yourself, Jungkook,” Seokjin cuts in, cold. It’s not often he uses the tone, reserving it mostly for terrible chefs or arrogant customers shitting on his waiters. “You know you were wrong, you know it crossed the damn line and an apology would be a lot better for your case.”

Silence stands in their wake and he can see that Jungkook’s taken aback. It’s true, he and Jungkook don’t fight. They bicker, and they have silent stand-offs at best before they come slinking back to annoy each other again– Seokjin’s sure this is new for Jungkook. Seven years of friendship and there’s always something new.

A part of Seokjin feels guilt gather but the larger part of him is angry. More than angry, he feels wronged. He knows logically why Jungkook did what he did and maybe when he’s better, he’d even thank him for his quick thinking. But the whole point is that this should have been planned. And if it wasn’t, then an alternative should have been in his mind.

Finally, the silence breaks as Jungkook sighs and unclenches his fist. Seokjin can see the silhouette of his shoulders relax.

“I’m sorry, hyung,” Jungkook whispers then, taking a step towards Seokjin. “You’re right– this crossed the line. A kiss on the cheek is one thing, this is different altogether.” He sees Jungkook run a hand through his hair and collapse into the dining chair. “I wasn’t thinking and I just went for it, but that’s not an excuse and you don’t have to accept it. I really am sorry.”

Seokjin too sighs then, the anger leaving just as quickly as it has risen. He wasn’t good with keeping his anger for long; that was Jungkook’s skillset. He pulls the chair across from him and sits down as well.

“It took me by surprise, Jungkook,” Seokjin says. He wants to reach across and– and maybe hold Jungkook’s hand, give him that physical comfort he usually needs when he’s in a conflict or antsy, but he doesn’t feel ready. “And it’s both of our– well, not faults, because how would we have known this would happen? So we can’t blame ourselves.”

“Yeah. We can plan for such similar events.”

“Exactly. And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry as well,” Seokjin says, now leaning in a little close. He can vaguely make out Jungkook blinking in the moonlight. “I shouldn’t have left you like that. You were obviously shocked as well, even if you had initiated it.”

“Yeah, I mean– like I said, I wasn’t thinking, all I could think about was that the others would know something was weird or off, and we had no plans for telling them after that talk in the kitchen, so.”

“Yeah, no, I get it. It’s a tough decision to make,” Seokjin admits. He chews on his lips. The thought is brewing in his mind, another decision to make. One that could take them only deeper, and they need to be prepared. “Jungkook-ah– if we’re being serious about this, this pretending to remain married so our friends can get it out of the system, so we can break off sometime later and go back– then we have to lay down ground rules. Plan. Stuff like what happened today can and probably will happen again, so we have to be on our toes.”

“Yeah,” Jungkook responds, straightening up. It’s clear in the air that they’re both making a choice, and going back from it would require an equal amount of planning. “We have to be extra careful and check with each other all the time. Communication is key and all that.”

“Sure. But can we do it tomorrow? I kind of want to crash.”

“Oh thank god, I’m so glad you said that. Yes, absolutely, let’s face the day tomorrow. See, we’re already behaving like a married couple–”

“To bed, Jungkook-ah. Don’t hog the sheets this time.”

 

 

The second step of the plan that Jungkook suggests is just plain preposterous. Seokjin’s been running his chain of restaurants for nearly five years now and he’s heard some pretty tall claims in that time. He’s heard ridiculous ideas otherwise as well, and he likes to think he’s seen it all…more or less. There’s a certain understanding one comes to when nearing their thirties, and while Seokjin doesn’t particularly like thinking about his old age, he has to admit the benefit of clarity that it brings with it.

The clarity goes right out the window with Jungkook’s suggestion, however.

“I’m sorry. You want to what?” Seokjin asks over the bowl of frosted flakes, warm milk and a plate of fruit, his go-to morning rush breakfast. Jungkook, sitting on the other side, is only having a banana and his beloved banana milk, which he claims is ‘good enough’ breakfast. He’s also red above his neck, pouting over the can of banana milk.

“Hyung, c’mon, don’t make a big deal out of this,” Jungkook mumbles, looking rightfully mortified. He should be, given what he just suggested. “We have to be believable, and that requires…certain practices. Actions.”

“And you think practising…kissing is relevant to it somehow.”

“Well, yeah!” Jungkook says, dropping the can and placing the half-eaten banana by the side, still in its peel. He looks both uncomfortable and annoyed, which echoes what Seokjin is feeling because…yeah. Kissing Jungkook.

As if last night hadn’t been enough.

“And pray, tell, how you think you’d go about this,” Seokjin asks primly, slipping in the wedge of melon in his mouth. The season’s first piece, not quite tart the way he likes it, but he’ll take it. “And why?”

Jungkook rolls his eyes. Seokjin’s begun to notice the increase in the tendency and he doesn’t appreciate it, not one bit. Even if it makes Jungkook look…better than cute. But nope. It’s disrespectful, he’s going to have a word.

“Because! You’re so bad at it!” Jungkook exclaims. Seokjin gasps involuntarily and the other begins to look sheepish. “I mean. Not bad at kissing, but like, pretending to go with the flow. You weren’t even kissing me back yesterday!”

“It was out of turn and I had a normal reaction to being ravaged like that,” Seokjin replies, not thinking about last night. He’s going to bleach it soon as well.

“It wasn’t ravaging, what the fuck, it was a kiss and we didn’t even involve tongues! We might as well as have been two dead people having the time of their lives.”

“One, gross imagery, and two– dude, I don’t want to kiss you.”

“Ouch, but I’ll let it pass because you wish you could have these goods,” Jungkook says hotly, and happiness tickles under Seokjin’s ribs. He doesn’t know why. “We have to, Jin-hyung. We’re fucking married, our friends are definitely going to question why we’re being so weird around each other.”

“Not frenching each other isn’t weird…”

“Ew, don’t call it that. And we don’t have to involve tongues or get nasty, we’re leaving that to Taehyung and Jimin. But we have to be believable, hyung, or you know how fast they’ll sniff out the bullshit before we’re ready to tell them.” Jungkook finishes, looking miffed. Seokjin sighs– Jungkook is right. He doesn’t want the wrath of Park Jimin falling upon him when the latter finds out it was all a farce and his money has most probably gone down the drain.

“Okay. Okay, yeah, I see it, but why do we have to practice–

“Because, hyung, I’m sorry to say but you freeze, like, literally freeze if I do anything remotely romantic or affectionate with you and you make it super obvious that you are not enjoying it,” Jungkook explains, his eyes reproachful. Seokjin blushes, looking into his now half-empty plate, choosing to shove an apple this time. Again, he’s not wrong because– Seokjin’s not the best with physical affection. He lets his dongsaengs hang off him because they’re brats and he’s powerless in front of them but he doesn’t initiate.

It’s not something that comes naturally to him. Even in his relationships, Seokjin’s always been low-key, keep it for the house/bedroom sort of person. Not just the kinky, sexual stuff, but in general; Seokjin’s never been great at displaying his vulnerability, whether negative or positive. He can talk about them as jokes, but being truly vulnerable is awkward for him.

His friends do know this. Jungkook knows it the best, of course, with the amount of time he spends yet how often he can’t seek out Seokjin for the physical comfort he needs not because Seokjin doesn’t want to but doesn’t know how to. The max they’ve done is sleep side-by-side, but Seokjin never changes his positions so he’s not unaware. The other hasn’t ever pressured him or teased him, but now circumstances are different. Now, they have to pretend like they’re something bigger than the two of them.

“I want to say we can tell them to mind their business, but…” Seokjin already knows it’s a futile suggestion. There’s something different about setting boundaries as a couple, and especially a newly discovered one. He remembers Jimin’s reaction from last night; it would be hard to fend off but very easy to get him suspicious. Jimin was like a hound. “We have an unfortunate group of friends, don’t we?”

Jungkook laughs. He doesn’t look any pleased himself, so at least that’s one thing Seokjin can relate to. He has to give it to him; he’s been doing all the heavy lifting for this mess. “With Jimin hyung and Hoseok hyung? Or even Yoongi hyung? I don’t see any other option.”

Seokjin nods. He’s right, of course, he is. Jungkook’s being right about a lot of things these days. “Right, so…how do we do this?”

 

 

He hadn’t expected the answer to happen so soon. Jungkook had told him to go to work while he went home to freshen up, maybe attend some of his own clients. They both agree to meet at Seokjin’s place in the evening and that was that.

Seokjin can’t concentrate, however. He’s usually gifted at compartmentalising, but the events over the last one week– a week, oh how his life has changed– tumble around in his mind. A mere week ago, he was unmarried, a hot, single bachelor coveted by Korean high society (which he took immense pleasure in rejecting) and now, he’s married to his best friend and is keeping the charade up because his friends are convinced that he and Jungkook were made to be.

Which bothers him. Not in a terrible way, like, bad food or inconsistent tax records but an irritating, gnawing feeling, like entering your house and getting the rancid smell of rotting fruit but being unable to locate it. Everyone around him save Jungkook seems to be knowing something more, and Seokjin hates it. He hates how they send him knowing glances or how fond they look, he hates the memes about being madly in love that Jimin sends (granted, those could be for Taehyung but it all feels like a personal attack at this point) and he just–

He wants to say he hates the assumption hanging in the air that this was meant to happen, that he and Jungkook were a reality in everyone’s mind but the two parties involved. Did either of them ever give any sign or mixed signals? Seokjin tries to run through scenarios in his head while he tastes the new dishes laid for him; a scattering of memories from the last seven years. He doesn’t see anything odd or out of place.

Did he and Jungkook spend a lot of time together? Yeah, of course, because the younger was often the only one free and ready to go food tasting with Seokjin, or randomly skip class when Seokjin offered arcade hopping. Seokjin was close to all of them in their own ways, a different kind of friendship carved with each one. What set him and Jungkook apart from that? With Jungkook, Seokjin could be his childish self, spontaneous and loud, bickering over the most inane reasons because it would end up in some playful boxing match that Jungkook would obviously win. He tries to compare, to make comparisons between all his friendships and he just doesn’t see it, so what the hell were his friends on about?

He comes back to scene when the chef reminds him again, and Seokjin remembers he has a damn job that he should be paying attention to than this internal drama. His friends were getting into his mind; there was nothing different and it was just the stress of the last week twisting things. He was fine. He and Jungkook were fine and they had to simply plan better. It would all work out.

When he’s done for the day and given his comments, praises and criticisms, he drives home to wash off the workday. Perks of being your own boss included taking off whenever he wanted, though Seokjin was quite diligent with regards to his work ethic. It was something Jungkook would often make fun of, how ‘old’ he was and how ‘organised, hyung you really need to live a little’, which was a lie because Seokjin lived, and boy did he live loudly. He smiles involuntarily, simply thinking about the memory and how Jungkook would often whine whenever Seokjin was working at home. He’d eventually stop and give in, and they’d have one of their numerous Mario matches. He liked the easiness that came with Jungkook.

Jungkook’s already home when he keys himself in, slumped on the couch with his feet stretched out in front of him on the table. It would annoy Seokjin generally, but he’s used to Jungkook agreeing and then continuing anyway. The TV is playing a grisly murder documentary and Jungkook’s watching wide-eyed, blindly grabbing for the popcorn in his lap.

“All settled in, I see,” Seokjin comments, towing off his shoes and keeping away his work laptop, unbuttoning his suit jacket. He rolls his sleeves up while on the way to the kitchen, grabbing a glass of water as well. “I hope you change the channel to something more human-oriented by the time I come out.”

“Murder is human-oriented!” Jungkook calls back, and Seokjin smiles. He gulps down the water, grabs a beer from the fridge and comes out, settling in beside Jungkook. He looks fresh, a lot more than Seokjin feels, hair slightly damp and face bare-faced, his scar and slight acne marks showing up. Seokjin doesn’t admit this to most people, but he’s always liked Jungkook like this the best: in his true element with no pressure to cover up or hide who he is. “Murder is, like, the most human thing ever.”

“Ah, the crimes of passion. How telling of our species.”

“Everything we do is for feeling, hyung, it’s so– it’s so beautiful,” Jungkook sniffs, looking at the screen with misplaced besotted affection. He definitely has a problem. “But enough about me– how was the first day at work?”

Seokjin makes to grab for the popcorn himself, sliding down the couch, his shoulders touching Jungkook’s. “It was pretty great, actually. Three of the restaurants are turning over a great profit, two of them are doing okay-ish so I yelled at them a bit, and I’m thinking I’ll definitely have to shut one down because it’s just. Not. Working.”

“Oof, you’re so hot when you’re going all CEO businessman,” Jungkook comments ideally and Seokjin chokes, both on the popcorn and the beer he’s swishing it down with. “What? It’s true.”

“Um, thank you?”

“It’s actually a kink of mine if you must know,” Jungkook presses, mercilessly in Seokjin’s opinion and– and there’s no way he’s serious. Right? He definitely knows it’s all deliberate.

“I really don’t–”

“–like, there’s just this thing since I was in university, you know, and I never thought about it much before. It makes sense though. And when they roll their sleeves and walk around in suits like they own the whole building? My, my.”

What the fuck was Jungkook doing– “That sounds, uh. Pretty well-thought out?” Seokjin squeaks. He knows his ears are red right now. Everything feels hot.

“Mm, my favourite part is that business people look like they know what they want but once they’re in the bedroom, they’re like little mice, ready to burst there and then. It’s pretty fucking hilarious,” Jungkook chuckles. Is his voice low? It’s totally low. This is weird. And highly specific and why is Seokjin reacting to it at all? “I’ve had the experience once or twice. It was fun.”

Seokjin doesn’t have any words to say, all of them caught tight in his throat, his brain in a cotton candy fuzz as it runs around like the house is on fire. Jungkook turns towards him then, eyes dark and questioning, Seokjin is going to die–

Jungkook smirks. Seokjin, naturally, explodes.

“What the fuck!” He screams, slapping Jungkook on his thigh while Jungkook breaks into cackles, the real evil kind that he’s heard in cheap horror movies. “What the actual fuck, Jeon Jungkook!”

“The look on your face, oh my god!” Jungkook shrieks back, making a run for it before Seokjin’s hand can reconnect with his thigh again. There’s already a handprint and Seokjin refuses to look at it, or even think about how well-muscled they are. How the vein underneath protrudes in an unnatural manner that looks well-placed. “I seriously thought you were going to bust a nut!”

“Fuck off!” Seokjin snarls, now taking a pillow and chucking it at Jungkook, who is unfazed. Seokjin can’t believe he fell for that. “That wasn’t– that was not cool, Jungkook!”

Jungkook keeps cackling. He throws up hands futilely against the remaining pillows Seokjin chucks at him. When he stands up, there are tears in his eyes and he just won’t stop grinning. “So. Description of sexual settings get you going, huh, hyung?”

“They don’t– how preposterous! Nothing gets me ‘going’, and definitely not your dumb– dirty talking or whatever the fuck that was–”

“See, hyung, this is what I was talking about in the morning,” Jungkook cuts in, letting the pillows remain on the floor and falling back into the couch, clearly unperturbed by Seokjin’s violence. “You react like this to harmless stuff, how else are we going to pull this off?”

Seokjin, who was about to respond and maybe shriek some more, maybe twist Jungkook’s ears until they were as red as his own– stops. Pauses, and reflects, while Jungkook looks on, head leaning back against the couch. The sound of the murder documentary is white noise.

Right. If Seokjin responds like this to, say, Jungkook holding his hands or giving him a peck or god forbid, some other, horrid kissing game, then his friends will catch on. Married or not, people who have dated definitely don’t react to touches or jokes like their ass is getting scorched.

“Okay, so maybe I over-reacted,” Seokjin admits. Jungkook snorts, but he carries on. “It’s just the whole…non-warning part of it.”

“Hyung, I know you like a certain sort of plan in order to be the chaotic god you say that you are,” Jungkook says, and is that pity in his voice? It totally is. “But things like this…don’t have a plan. It’s natural, it’s just supposed to play out. We can’t curate the perfect relationship, but we have to be natural about it. We can’t be– jilted or awkward about something that happens naturally.”

“I know, I know that, but it is still– a lot. Like I don’t anticipate it, I don’t even think about it so it always takes me by surprise.”

“Which is why we have to get used to it,” Jungkook says, tone placating. He gingerly wraps Seokjin’s hands in his own, tender and soft in a way that they haven’t before. “Look, we don’t have to be– gross about it, we don’t have to Taehyung-and-Jimin this but when you react like you’ve been speared by the Devil’s tongue, it definitely gets harder to portray a relationship. You know what I’m saying?”

Seokjin does, he really does. He can’t see himself when he does, but he can guess by the comments and laughs, by the heat trapped in his ears or how his belly flips out of control. Of how he stiffens up and freezes, unable to think or speak or hear. That’s not what’s going to sell their story and act. And it’s high-time Seokjin stopped ruining it.

“Yeah, I hear you,” Seokjin says, though his hands don’t stop clenching his pants. “Okay, so– how do we do this?”

Jungkook tilts his head, screening Seokjin up and down. The flips in his belly continue, and he gulps, forcing himself to hold Jungkook’s calculating gaze. It’s so different from his usually innocent, happy-go-lucky one, the one which is round and bright when he overstuffs himself with food or scrunches his nose. An unwarranted thought wanders in Seokjin’s mind, about whether this is how Jungkook looks when he’s scouting out one-night-stands or he’s engaged in a date. It’s new and something he hadn’t even thought about, yet facing it in its glory makes his heart race a little faster.

“Hmm,” Jungkook says after an agonising five minutes. “How about this– kiss me.”

Seokjin blanks out. Jungkook says it so easily like his entire world isn’t shifting in saying something so different, so unlike them. His heartbeat cascades into white noise in his ear and–

“Goodness, Jin-hyung, relax,” Jungkook hisses, shifting closer, their knees bumping slightly. He can already smell Jungkook’s perfume, the one that feels like cherry blossoms tickling his nose in an entirely pleasant way. Jungkook places his hands gingerly on Seokjin’s shoulders, carefully, as if Seokjin might break from how tightly he’s holding himself. “Just relax. That’s right, shoulders lose, keep your neck muscles at ease– there you go, all warm and nice…”

Jungkook keeps working on the shoulders, the back of Seokjin’s neck, rubbing soothing patterns in between his blades, face furrowed in utmost concentration. Against his racing mind, Seokjin finds his body loosening under Jungkook’s touch. His hands unclench and he lies back down against the couch while Jungkook looks on, something unreadable in his eyes.

He doesn’t miss the way Jungkook briefly looks down at his lips before looking back up as if he too is preparing himself.

“Okay, hyung, I’m going to kiss you now, alright?” Jungkook whispers, edging closer, a part of his knee pressing into Seokjin’s thigh. They’re still maintaining a respectable distance but Seokjin knows it won’t be that way any longer. “Just a short one, close your eyes and push me away if it crosses any lines. Cool?”

Seokjin nods, words long gone, brain empty but heart pounding furiously. It’s weird to react like this. It’s just practice, just a prank so they can convince the world they’re a happy couple and natural about it. It’s nothing different from the hundreds of times he’s kissed other people or Chaeyoung or his other dates–

Jungkook leans in then, and for the second time in his life, Seokjin knows what it’s like to kiss Jungkook.

The first time, he hadn’t known. Hadn’t taken the time to really think about it save for a desperate need to leave the scene. But now, it’s all out there, talked about and discussed to death, and now, Seokjin pays attention. He closes his eyes automatically and lets Jungkook take the reins, lets the soft press of his lips sear into his own. Like last time, he can taste the strawberry with the abject lack of soju, though this time there’s also the overwhelming sensation of Jungkook around him.

Jungkook kisses like Seokjin’s precious. Maybe it’s the way he prefers, but Seokjin can’t help but wonder if it’s different because it’s him and not some random person at the club. He pulls back shortly after and Seokjin blinks open his eyes carefully, eyes adjusting to the onslaught of light painfully slow. Jungkook is close by, blinking himself and the same unreadable expression on his face. It’s funny because Jungkook is perhaps one of the most open-faced people Seokjin’s ever come across. He can’t hide his feelings for shit, and yet now, it’s like the book is shut to Seokjin.

“Good?” Jungkook whispers and Seokjin knows he’s not asking if the kiss was good but whether Seokjin is good. He shouldn’t even be thinking if the kiss is good or not; the whole point is showing that it’s good to the rest of the world. Seokjin nods mutedly, resisting the urge to touch his lips as if Jungkook might have let some imprint on them. “Okay. Yeah. I still think you need to, uh, work on relaxing a bit. Can you do that?”

“No time like the present,” Seokjin jokes weakly, rolling his shoulders and neck. “That was– well. No rush, all casual.”

“Yeah! It was light and breezy,” Jungkook hastily says, rolling back on his haunches. He’s twisting his hands into his shirt, and Seokjin automatically goes for them, prying them apart. “Felt a bit like kissing a dead fish but marginally better than last time.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Seokjin shoots, rubbing Jungkook’s hand between his own. “I’m a great kisser. Have you seen these lips? Fucking insured.”

“Is there any part of you that you haven’t put up for monetary benefit?” Jungkook questions, then shakes his head. “And great kisser, my ass, you’ve got nothing to show for it.”

“Is that right, Jungkook-ah?” Seokjin asks, raising an eyebrow. Competition rears its ugly head deep inside. “You weren’t that great yourself, then. Five-thousand won you’ll be the first to pull away if we really start.”

“Oh, you’re on,” Jungkook snaps, and just like that, without warning, Jungkook leans in again, nearly crashing his lips against Seokjin. Only this time– Seokjin doesn’t think he truly minds.

It’s odd, how competition and bickering set something inside him on fire, this inexplicable need to win taking over as Seokjin meets Jungkook in the middle. It’s odd, how all his inhibitions and doubts, his fears don’t matter when Jungkook’s hands move from his shoulders into his hair, or how his thighs press incessantly against his like he’s clambered over in a desperate need to come out triumphant.

It’s odd how naturally he parts Jungkook’s lips with his own and their tongues do meet, and it’s something neither of them planned for.

He notes the mint from Jungkook’s toothpaste but also the leftover salt from the popcorn, and in a brazen, animalistic way Seokjin finds himself licking it all up. He wraps his hands around Jungkook’s tiny, tiny waist and feels something roar inside, at how well Jungkook fits in his arms or how their mouths slot well, how Jungkook is right and a great kisser–

Seokjin forgets all his reservations at that moment. Forgets, perhaps alarmingly, that Jungkook is his friend, a close one who he’s seen as nothing else but that. Forgets how easily the walls fall for a moment as if they hadn’t existed at all. Forgets that this shouldn’t be so natural, so normal and most of all– he shouldn’t be enjoying this. He shouldn’t.

He pulls back to blindly say as much and it’s– a lot, because neither want to let go. It’s odd how attached he feels to the moment, but he has to let Jungkook know–

He can only stare, however. Stare at the way Jungkook’s hair is messed up, how red and swollen his lips are which means that Seokjin’s must be twice as bad, how his chest runs up and down like he finished a marathon. His lips are slick with spit, shiny in a way that Seokjin has the urge to touch, to really see if that was his handiwork. Jungkook seems to be doing the same if the way he keeps shifting his gaze between Seokjin’s and his lips is any indication.

This is a lot. This was unplanned. This was so not how practice worked–

“You owe me five-thousand won now,” Jungkook whispers in his ear, and Seokjin hates how even that makes his belly flip like a ballerina on a sugar high. “Told you I was better.”

Seokjin wants to debate and bicker (and maybe, a tiny, tiny part of him wants to challenge Jungkook again just so they can– what? Kiss again?) But he thinks he’ll cave. His heart is racing way too hard to handle anything else. Also, the situation downstairs is a little problematic and he totally does not want Jungkook noticing because he will never hear the end of that.

“Yeah, fine, you win. Fair and square,” Seokjin grumbles, pushing Jungkook off to grab his wallet and take out a crisp note. He expects Jungkook to cackle gleefully and run around, celebrate his win over Seokjin once more. It’s standard.

Jungkook doesn’t do that, however. No, Jungkook only looks at the bill in his hand as if it’s the last thing he wants. He’s sitting half-hazard, one leg off the couch and one tucked underneath, still pressing into Seokjin in a way that his own leg feels like it’s on fire. All of that exposed leg isn’t helping, damn it–

Jungkook looks up at Seokjin in a daze, like the money doesn’t matter, not anymore. Like he received something else that mattered more but he can’t name it or even begin to explain it. He looks at Seokjin, gaze raking up and down until it pauses at just below his navel, and–

“Holy shit, is that what I think it is,” Jungkook breathes, gaze unwavering. Seokjin looks down confused before realising that Jungkook fucking noticed. He noticed Seokjin’s little friend getting all interested because of some stupid kissing action. Seokjin is mortified; for fuck’s sake, he isn’t some horny teenager with a constant hard-on anymore. He’s nearing thirty, he definitely has better control over his nether regions. He’s also run out of pillows from throwing them all at Jungkook before so of course, he can’t do much but press his legs together and pray. “Is that– hyung, are you–”

“Finish that sentence and you die.” Seokjin spits, mortification replacing the pleasant excitement from before. Jungkook begins laughing, and Seokjin wants to be irritated yet finds himself vaguely pleased for evoking such a reaction. Weird, because he’s made Jungkook laugh plenty of times before. Instead, he avoids the thought by focusing on Jungkook and notices his own little situation going on. “Not like you’re any better.”

Jungkook stops, looking where Seokjin is and– they shouldn’t, it’s weirdly intimate after what they just shared. And the thought is even more stupid because it’s Jungkook and Seokjin, of course, they’ve seen each other’s junk before– by accident, and not intent, but to-may-to, to-mah-to.

Jungkook, however, doesn’t look bothered– even leans back, arms behind his head and the result of their impromptu kissing a little more obvious, which burns Seokjin’s cheeks and ears red, red, red– he’s insane. He’s crazy, and it’s making Seokjin’s heart beat way more than it should.

“I’m not ashamed of it,” Jungkook says simply, smirk edging on his (red) lips and mirth dancing in his eyes. “You’re a great kisser. Why won’t I react?”

Seokjin blinks. How is Jungkook so chill– “You– what– I–”

“Seokjin-hyung, really,” Jungkook sighs, reclining from his position and adjusting his shorts to hide the most of it, thank goodness, “don’t freeze on me now, okay? It happens. We’re healthy, functioning dudes, we got young blood, and sometimes kissing is enough to get the blood flowing. You react. This is natural. Alright?” Jungkook looks at him imploringly as if he wants to imprint the message into Seokjin’s brain.

“R-right.”

“Say it with me: this is natural and I totally find Jungkook hot.”

“This is natural and I– hey! No!” Seokjin exclaims, breaking out of the spell. He was such a fucking brat.

“No?” Jungkook blinks. And pouts, great. “No, as in, no this is not natural or–”

“No, you’re not hot,” Seokjin cuts in, desperate to find some holding. Everyone’s taken him for a ride this evening and he’s so done.

Jungkook pouts even harder. “That…hurts my feelings, but alright. I’m not your type, it happens.”

And now Seokjin feels like shit. Because he’s lying, Jungkook is hot. He’s definitely got that thing going, but Seokjin will not acknowledge it. “Now, c’mon, Jungkook-ah, you know hyung didn’t mean it like that–”

“It’s okay. I’m alright, hyung. I know you didn’t mean it.” Jungkook begins grinning, and the odd sensation rises in Seokjin once more. “I’ve heard one’s vision begins getting weaker the older they get.”

Seokjin blinks. Then, he groans. “Why are you such a brat, Jungkook, for the love of God, let me have this–”

“Nope,” Jungkook sings, getting up off the couch and whistling, carrying the empty popcorn bowls. His situation seemed to have improved and so has Seokjin’s…but the kiss will haunt him for a while now.

He doesn’t think he’s ever kissed someone this good, and he doesn’t know if he ever will– it sets of all kinds of alarm bells in Seokjin, so much so that he doesn’t notice when Jungkook rounds around the couch and is close to him, meeting his eyes, a finger under his chin. His gaze is searching, the slight playfulness of earlier gone.

“Also, you’re pretty hot as well, hyung. I’d totally go for you, at another time. Pity it has to be this way,” he breathes, his voice low before he drops Seokjin’s chin and walks away once more, leaving Seokjin’s heart in right shambles.

 

 

Like a lamb sacrificed to a god, helpless and bleating in terror– Seokjin too can’t help it.

He wanted to be chill about it, you see. Get up the next morning, Jungkook’s leg flung over his waist as usual, probably his head under Seokjin’s with his hair tickling his chin in the best way, and carry on. Say his good mornings, bicker with Jungkook, run the hot water, bicker with Jungkook, have his breakfast and push off to work– and bicker with Jungkook.

He wanted to be so chill about this. He wanted to wrap an iron fist around his heart and squeeze it shut so it did not lead to traitorous thoughts, and yet here he is: wanting to bicker with Jungkook, which he is, but also, thinking about his kiss with Jungkook.

It’s maddening, is what it is, the way he just can’t stop– when he wakes up and Jungkook’s sleeping face is there, his lips back to normal yet all Seokjin can remember is how red they were, from the way he had bitten them without control. When he stumbles out of the shower and Jungkook whistles, in that usual way of his that Seokjin can’t help but assign more meaning to now, or how he’s brushing his teeth and Jungkook comes in, patting his butt casually on the way. It’s maddening, and Seokjin doesn’t know how to stop it.

Like the lamb facing its final moments, Seokjin begs his brain for mercy.

It was supposed to be chill and supposed to be natural– and that’s the thing, because it is. Somehow this mishap fits into their lives like a missing puzzle piece and Seokjin doesn’t know what to think about it. Nothing really changes– they bicker and have their bets, they argue over the movies to watch and have fake boxing matches, Seokjin pays for Jungkook’s takeout for the millionth time and doesn’t even blink at the amount of food that shows up. It’s normal, and yet.

There is a slight difference, Seokjin thinks. Or maybe he wants that, so he doesn’t feel so alone in his realisation that perhaps, there was something both of them were blind to. He doesn’t want to accept it, but his heart betrays him. There’s a difference, in the way Jungkook makes a dirty joke and then pauses, before continuing, or how he jokingly flirts with Seokjin and Seokjin freezes. Like how he finds his gaze slipping to Jungkook’s lips, quite accidentally, only to find Jungkook looking at his. There’s a burning sort of difference, like how you know something’s burning but you don’t know yet where. That’s how Seokjin feels.

And of course, it doesn’t help that their charade, their practice continues.

Seokjin knows, logically, that practising once or twice wouldn’t be enough. He’d hoped for that, sure, because who in their right mind would want to make out with their friend? Objectively, sure, as a thought experiment– why the fuck not, they’ve all played fuck, marry, kill– but in reality? It’s a lot harder than Seokjin had anticipated. But they have to because Seokjin’s dumbass still hesitates, still stresses over the slightest gestures, even though Jungkook warns him well in time. They have to keep the act up so that it doesn’t feel as practised in front of their friends. And Jungkook is taking up the challenge like a champ.

Jungkook kisses him first with warnings, always taking his consent. It often takes Seokjin a few minutes to relax into them, and it never transgresses into that mad plunge they’d both made because of a bet. Jungkook says Seokjin has to be broken down like piñata into basic kissing and even teases him for being such a high-school boy about it.

Seokjin doesn’t get how Jungkook is so relaxed about it. His Jungkook, whose eyes had bugged out when he’d seen Namjoon after gym and confessed to Seokjin shortly that Namjoon had been his gay-awakening maybe. His Jungkook, who would stutter around girls and was the quiet sort, would hesitate before making his coffee order or volunteering in class. His Jungkook, who would blush bright in spite of his own body looking scarily ready to bench-press the world. This very Jungkook was now the only reason their whole plot wasn’t falling apart.

Jungkook kisses him with warnings, with a little coaxing. His kisses, Seokjin notes, are always soft like he carries his whole heart in them and is beholding it to the one he’s kissing. Maybe Seokjin’s being dramatic about that; he can’t imagine Jungkook’s kisses to be that way with some stranger at a club, for instance. So maybe that’s how Jungkook kisses, specially tailored for Seokjin.

He’s not quite sure what to do about that.

Like today morning– a couple of days later after the first time, things settling around like dust– Seokjin was telling Jungkook about something in one of his restaurants, a new recipe he was eager to try with his chefs while Jungkook had hummed, listening in silence, though his gaze was attentive on Seokjin’s. And today, of all days, is when Jungkook breaks a little rule and Seokjin can’t find it in himself to be upset about it.

Jungkook kisses him without his standard warning.

It’s so sudden. Usually, Jungkook prepares himself, prepares Seokjin before they can embark on an explorative journey to Make Seokjin Chill. Except that doesn’t happen; one moment Seokjin’s gushing happily about his idea and Jungkook’s eyes are bright as they watch him; the next– Jungkook keeps aside his mug and reaches for Seokjin, kissing him and cutting him off effectively.

And that’s not the most surprising part. The surprising part is that Seokjin goes with it, as if it were habit, as if Jungkook’s been kissing him for years maybe. As if they were a normal couple exchanging niceties in the morning before work. Jungkook goes for it and Seokjin lets him, doesn’t even freeze. No, he instinctively wraps an arm around Jungkook’s waist and pulls him in even closer.

He notes that, unlike the practice kisses, this flows better. Seokjin’s brain is blank but in the best possible way; today, Jungkook tastes like cherries and vanilla, today, he smells like soft laundry detergent and something flowery, like lilacs maybe.

Today, Seokjin’s heart beats faster, but in a way that settles the odd rearing deep inside. He can feel Jungkook’s too, feel the way his hands hold Seokjin’s head tenderly and at last– how his lips move as a song. It makes Seokjin heady, and even more so when he feels himself getting pushed backwards, his back meeting the counter while Jungkook remains attached to him. It’s the best kind of heady, Seokjin thinks dreamily, as he meets Jungkook in the middle just as fiercely, though the entire moment is painfully tender.

Something in his heart cracks and ache, just for a brief moment.

It’s Jungkook who pulls away first, this time, and his eyes remain closed for a couple of seconds after as if he had to savour the moment too. As if he too felt what Seokjin felt and ached to treasure it.

Where were all these thoughts coming from?

They watch each other, the silence beating between them in time with their hearts. Seokjin doesn’t think– anything, really, for once in his life. He’s no great over-thinker like Namjoon, but he has his preferences for logical thought over brazen emotion. Jungkook is the one who feels with his entire being, feels so much Seokjin often worried about where he carries all that load. He admires Jungkook for his bottomless empathy, though he hasn’t ever expressed it.

“What was that for,” Seokjin breathes, at last, still leaning against the corner. His lips tingle, with want or excitement or fear, he does not know. The same lingers in the air around them and has been for a while now. Neither seem to want to cross or name it.

“Look at you, kissing without a warning,” is what Jungkook says, his own eyes starry, a quiet happiness written across his face. “Wasn’t that easy?”

And logically, Seokjin knows that’s what it was about, that one day they would have to transgress to kissing without a warning, kissing or being physically affectionate without it being drilled into his head. Consent is sexy, but so is being able to read what someone you like is feeling and going for it because your gut wants you to. Telepathic consent was the ultimate sexy, and Seokjin could feel it in his very bones.

Logically, he knows that’s what this was about, but for a moment– a brazen, wanting moment nestled deep inside, Seokjin had wanted that Jungkook kissed him just because he wanted to. Because some need had over taken him, some thought such as that Seokjin’s excitement had been too much and had triggered something in Jungkook. He hates how much he wanted that, can’t handle where it’s all coming from or how it all happened to change in a few weeks. Jungkook was his best friend, his comrade-in-arms, his partner-in-crime. Since when did Seokjin think of Jungkook as anything else?

“As easy as butter,” Seokjin replies, just as soft. Jungkook smiles, all crinkles and nose scrunches, his front teeth showing in the cutest way possible. “Good thinking on your part.”

“Well, hyung,” Jungkook says after a while, taking a step back and bringing back the respectable distance of friends. “Looks like you’re finally ready for the show.”

Seokjin laughs. Right. There was a purpose to all this. “Thank you, master Jungkook.”

“Hmm, no. Call me daddy instead.”

Seokjin doesn’t even respond, laughing as he swats Jungkook’s butt with the kitchen towel.

 

 

And so, Jungkook and Seokjin are prepared at last.

It’s not a test or anything. They don’t have anything to prove; it’s just for their own mental peace and Jungkook’s perfectionist drive that they have to nail this.

Jimin invites them for lunch at his and Taehyung’s place, which isn’t an odd occurrence; as they’ve grown older and busier, keeping in touch has become a disciplined routine to create. It’s one Jimin keeps track of intensely well, having always been attached to his friendships once he adopts them. Seokjin thinks if it weren’t for that fierceness or Taehyung’s natural extrovertedness, all of them wouldn’t have been in touch as much.

They leave together, Seokjin picking up Jungkook from his apartment. It’s a little out of the way but Seokjin’s been driving Jungkook to most places for years before Jungkook was legal enough to drive himself. The brat still hasn’t brought a car and doesn’t plan to, and for once, Seokjin’s glad he isn’t. Even if he complains on the surface because he enjoys the whole drama that is picking up Jungkook, or how he makes Seokjin wait until Seokjin has to come up and drag him out. Seokjin’s learnt for years that if they want to reach anywhere on time, he has to tell Jungkook the wrong time and prepare at least two hours in advance. It’s the only way.

“You look nice,” Jungkook comments as he gets into the car. It’s nearing summer and he’s wearing a white button-down with khaki pants, very unlike Jungkook. Seokjin’s wearing a t-shirt and some jeans, his version of dressed down. “Love how you’re trying to fit in with the young generation.”

“Ha-ha, what a new joke,” Seokjin snarks. He waits until Jungkook wears the belt and then begins driving, letting Jungkook handle the AUX. If he doesn’t, he’ll keep whining and whining until Seokjin can’t hear his collection of car trot songs, so might as well as compromise. “Khaki and white?”

“Jimin-hyung requested I come dressed seasonably instead of my usual Goth,” Jungkook sighs, and Seokjin can tell he’s upset about it. Jungkook likes to dress his way, and it’s very moody. “It’s so bright.”

“It’s cute on you. You should wear bright colours more often,” Seokjin says ideally, making a turn. The softness of Tori Kelly wafts through the speakers and Jungkook doesn’t respond. Seokjin doesn’t check to see why. There’s been enough gazes and thinking lately.

For once in their drives, he and Jungkook don’t bicker. Or exchange much, Jungkook’s playlist the only sign he’s in the car with Seokjin. That’s been happening a lot lately, this difference from the Before. It’s the same, but slightly pixelated that Seokjin can’t find the resolution option. It’s irritating and antsy both, yet neither of them willing to fix it or name it.

They reach Jimin’s apartment and Seokjin kills the engine, dropping the car into silence. Neither make way to exit, either, choosing to stew in it. Seokjin’s not an idiot; he knows Jungkook isn’t one either.

“So…here we are,” Seokjin comments, tapping the steering wheel. Jungkook hums. They both know what’s to come in the next few hours.

“You ready?” Jungkook asks, finally meeting Seokjin’s eyes, his gaze searching. Reflexively, they fall on Seokjin’s lips.

“As ready as I can be,” Seokjin shrugs, though he feels the tell-tale signs of anxiety brewing in his stomach. It was easy when it was just him and Jungkook in his apartment. Would he be able to carry over the same in front of guests? Other people? Would he be able to ignore whistles and cheers and focus simply on Jungkook?

“Want to…Want to have a dry run before we go?” Jungkook asks, tone hesitant, biting his lip as if he’s unsure. Seokjin hates how his heart races not in fear but in excitement, a part of him relieved for this excuse to kiss again. It’s so not the way he functions, and yet.

“Can’t be too certain,” is all Seokjin says before Jungkook nods, unlocks the seatbelt and very nearly falls into Seokjin’s lap. The suddenness of it takes him aback just for a moment, not having anticipated– the desperation, he wants to say, but that would be stupid, won’t it, because they’re not– they’re not desperate to kiss each other. It’s all practice.

At least, that’s what Seokjin holds on to as he finds himself full of Jungkook, an awkward position because he’s not exactly on his lap (thank god, right?) and he’s not exactly sitting, a terrible scramble for something in the middle. But Jungkook’s lips are soft as ever, he smells just as good and his hand runs casual circles at his neck that make Seokjin shiver.

Fuck, he doesn’t think he’s kissed so much in his entire life. But Seokjin is finding, as Jungkook successfully nips open his lips and explores a little, just as softly, that he’s frankly getting a little addicted to the way Jungkook kisses and how his heart races in a specific rhythm around him. It’s probably a problem (definitely) but he doesn’t care. Not when they’re like this.

It stops just as fast as it began, but each kiss ends like they both don’t want it to. Jungkook still looks like he savours each one, Seokjin’s hands almost act of their own accord wanting to bring the other close once again, and thank god for Seokjin’s tinted windows because this is so not PG-13.

“What’s the verdict?” Seokjin breaks the silence, desperate to cut across and fill it up.

“Yep, you’re good. No tension, all action,” Jungkook replies, still out of breath. Seokjin blushes out of reflex, not wanting to think about Jungkook breathless due to this. He’s worked out with Jungkook, had eating competitions and what not, but somehow this seems– too loud. Too intimate. “Everything alright down there?”

Jungkook’s glancing down at Seokjin’s crotch, and then he blushes like he too didn’t want to indicate the very real but natural thing that may or may not happen because of impromptu car make-outs. Wait, no, practice. It’s practice.

Seokjin adjusts his pants casually like this isn’t Jungkook in front of him. It’s all good, which is great because he doesn’t think he could bear waiting it out in the car and then entering his friends’ apartment above with guilt all over his face. “Yep, all good.”

“Aw, I didn’t put in enough effort, did I,” Jungkook whines, and Seokjin’s brain short-circuits. What the fuck does that even mean.

“Do you…do you want me to be hard when we go up to meet our friends, Jungkook-ah?” He questions, his heart beating faster. Something so dirty shouldn’t be slipping out of his mouth in front of Jungkook. There were just some things that you couldn’t share with your friend.

Jungkook shrugs, a picture of innocence save for the fact that he is blushing, and he is blushing hard, no pun intended. “I mean, we’re happily married or whatever.”

“Yeah, but not publically indecent, goodness gracious, Jungkook,” Seokjin says, reeling himself and his thoughts in because he’s not going to be thinking about this. He is not. “Let’s go before they call us. Taehyung’s put this braying donkey as the ringtone and I haven’t figured out how to remove it yet.”

“You’re so fucking old, ugh.”

Of course, it doesn’t matter in the end whether Seokjin and Jungkook were decent, because when they walk in through the door, they’re met with aggressive hooting and whistles anyway. They’re the last to appear apparently, and though they don’t look bad, they still look like they were a lot busier than intended. Thanks Jungkook and his Seokjin-hair-tugging habit.

“Aw, looks like the lovebirds were busy,” Jimin greets, his eyes shining while a grin dances around his face. “Damn, Jungkook, you don’t joke around, do you?”

“It’s a struggle to stop sometimes,” Jungkook replies easily, his hand slipping into Seokjin’s. And perhaps Jungkook was right after all because all that practice helped. Seokjin barely reacts. “Seokjin-hyung is a wild card, phew.”

“Really?” Jimin appraises Seokjin, going up and down. Mischief shines through and Seokjin’s already dreading the disgusting thought Jimin’s probably having. “Shame you’re Taehyung’s brother, hyung, or I would have invited you and Jungkookie sometime.”

All three blink before Jungkook throws himself at Jimin and it’s all Seokjin can do to wrap his arms around his waist and hold him back, Jimin dancing away.

“You disgusting prick!” Jungkook yells, still struggling in Seokjin’s arms. Thank god Seokjin’s just as much a muscle freak as Jungkook and can hold him just fine. “Seokjin-hyung’s mine! Do you hear that? Mine!”

“Whoa, whoa, bunny, calm down,” Seokjin says, though his heart drops at the mine, the vindictiveness with which Jungkook uttered the word. “He’s kidding, you know it’s stupid.”

Jungkook huffs, relaxing into Seokjin’s chest. It’s a lot of proximity all of a sudden and what bothers Seokjin is how easily he fits.

Taehyung rounds the corner, looking curiously between all three. “What happened now? And hey, Seokjin-hyung, Jungkook-ah. Shoes on the side.”

“If you must know, your disgusting boyfriend offered a foursome between all of us,” Jungkook spits heatedly, towing off his boots with such fervour Seokjin’s worried he’d injure himself.

Taehyung gasps. “Jimin! That’s my brother!”

Jimin looks guilty, moving to wrap his tiny arms around Taehyung. “I know, that’s why I said it’s a shame we can’t. I was joking.”

“Even if hyung wasn’t Taehyung-hyung’s brother, I will never share him,” Jungkook says. He looks strangely cold, and Seokjin isn’t used to this side of him. He’s used to Jungkook’s possessiveness, but not over people and certainly not with him. That’s more of a Jimin thing. “Clear?”

“Uh, sure, Jungkook,” Taehyung mutters, eyes wide and holding Jimin close as if they were all realising that Jungkook wasn’t joking. “Um, the others are all here. Food’s here. Join whenever.”

They leave them alone in the hallway, and Jungkook breathes deeply. Seokjin places a hesitant palm on his shoulder and he relaxes as if coming back to Earth.

“That was intense,” Seokjin jokes, proceeding to rub circles. “You don’t have to pretend so hard, Jungkook-ah.”

Jungkook snaps his eyes open and levels Seokjin with a non-nonsense stare. “It wasn’t pretend, hyung. You’re mine, don’t forget that.”

Jungkook walks away, leaving Seokjin in disbelief.

 

 

Seokjin mulls over Jungkook’s words all throughout the lunch.

All their practice does blossom into its fruit; Seokjin barely thinks when Jungkook crowds into his space or presses into his side, when he keeps holding his hand or involuntarily leans in to peck from time to time. It’s so natural Seokjin very nearly believes the act himself. Thinks: are we real. Thinks: your hand fits so well in mine.

Thinks: kiss me one more time.

He shouldn’t be having such thoughts about his friend, right? It’s not right. Yet, it’s all he can think of. Seokjin-hyung’s mine, and I will never share him. How easily Jungkook had said it, as if the belief was carved in his heart and bones and marrow. As if it were a central truth in Jungkook’s life, and Seokjin was realising only now.

It’s easy. It’s easy enough that the rest of them notice as well, only instead of confused looks he receives fond ones. As if the universe is right again.

“So, the bachelor’s party,” Hoseok says while they chew and exchange mindless chatter. Today’s menu is continental, which Seokjin’s okay with. Ultimately, every Korean loves their own food the most. “What’s the plan for that?”

“Bachelor’s party?” Jungkook questions, shovelling in the pasta like he’s never going to get it again. Why is Jungkook like this with food? Seokjin shakes his head fondly. “Why do we need those?”

“Uh, just because you two brainless asshats decided to get married doesn’t mean we won’t hold all the wedding traditions,” Jimin says, glaring at the two of them across the table. “We’re going UNO reverse and then some. It doesn’t make sense but whatever.”

“Speaking of…where are your rings?” Namjoon asks, pointing at their hands. Seokjin freezes momentarily and so does Jungkook. They’d immediately removed the cheap metal in Vegas itself, unable to bear the sight of it. He doesn’t know where he’s kept them.

“Uh, they’re, um, they’re–” Jungkook stutters, and Seokjin swoops in to save the day.

“They’re back home. We realised you guys wanted us to give a proper wedding and we decided to get better ones than…the cheap ones the chapel gave,” he rushes, squeezing Jungkook’s hand under the table.

“So you’ll be buying new ones?” Yoongi questions, curious. And oh fuck, they really didn’t think this through did they.

Also, why the fuck are weddings so expensive?

“Yeah, we’ll be buying new ones,” Seokjin says. More expenditure on an act they dug themselves into only deeper. “We’ll buy them separately and stuff so as to not raise suspicion.”

“Hmm. Well, the wedding is only a month away, FYI,” Jimin states. He doesn’t look suspicious, which is good, because they could have been exposed so fast. “Now back to the bachelor’s party.”

“Do we really need it?” Jungkook whines, stabbing his pasta moodily now. A pout graces his face and he’s scowling. Seokjin’s heart hurts. “It doesn’t even make sense! Why do I have to celebrate my bachelor days when I’m already dating Jin-hyung and marrying him?”

“It’s a stupid heteronormative tradition that makes me gag since it’s all about celebrating the ‘freedom’ before marriage locks people down forever,” Yoongi inputs with his great wisdom and yeah, that makes a lot more sense. “But really– It’s just an excuse to drink, Jungkook-ah, it’s not that deep for us gays here.”

“Oh, yeah. Drinking’s a pretty neat reason.”

“We won’t have strippers or anything like that though, will we?” Seokjin asks, just to make sure. If he leaves the planning to Jimin and Taehyung, the place would be teeming with anything that says wild, and lines have to be drawn.

“No, it will be just us. Why, hyung, do you want some?” Hoseok asks, wiggling his eyebrows. Seokjin would roll his eyes but decides to play along.

“No, but who would mind some hot dudes with oiled bodies and tiny spandexes?”

“You’re right, that’s actually pretty tempting. Do they strip ever?”

“No, but I’m sure they can be convinced,” Seokjin chortles, and then chokes on his drink when his hand is nearly squeezed to death. Seokjin coughs, Hoseok reaching to pat his back. Seokjin checks what the fuck happened and finds– Jungkook’s gaze, positively murderous. “But– no strippers. Zero. Or I will Taser everyone’s balls off.”

“Damn, Jungkook, you got hyung whipped,” Hoseok comments, and everyone shakes their head fondly like this is normal. It’s not, Seokjin wants to yell. Jungkook’s not this possessive over people. Things, yes, people: no. “We won’t do anything indecent, don’t worry.”

“What do I care, do what you want,” Jungkook says with forced nonchalance, and no one buys it. Even Seokjin doesn’t buy it. “Everyone knows I would smoke those strippers out anytime, any day.”

Yoongi whistles at that and even Namjoon nods. Hoseok and Jimin look delighted. And Seokjin–

Has a sudden visceral image of Jungkook giving him a lap dance or stripping just for Seokjin, and he can’t breathe.

Holy crap, what was happening to him?

“Anyway. No strippers, no, not even you, Jungkook, as much as I’d love to see it,” he gets himself to say. No, Seokjin won’t love it. Not because he doesn’t want to but because he knows, somewhere deep inside, just how much he’s going to love it that he will definitely explode. He knows exactly how Jungkook’s body is built. He was there when Jungkook was building it.

“You guys are so cute, I can’t believe we were deprived of it all these years,” Jimin sighs dreamily.

“I know right! I used to always think it’s weird they weren’t dating,” Hoseok comments, like Seokjin and Jungkook aren’t right there. “I’ll be really honest– I didn’t like any of your dates before.”

“Not even Chaeyoung?” Seokjin finds himself questioning. He doesn’t care about that time in his life anymore, but to not like any of them…

“Especially her,” Jimin hisses, and Seokjin’s taken aback. They’d all reacted well enough when Seokjin had introduced her. “I mean, she was really sweet and amazing, no doubt, but I just didn’t like her with you. It always felt like she didn’t really like you, like, more than a fling.”

“You sure you’re not saying that because of the engagement falling through?” Seokjin jokes, covering up the discomfort growing inside.

Jimin meets his eyes. “I don’t know, hyung– I just didn’t like it. I wasn’t surprised when she said no.”

“And Jungkook just makes sense!” Hoseok puts in, and the others nod vigorously, even Yoongi and Namjoon. Seokjin is only confused. “Like, do you guys remember when Seokjin hyung was away for the military duty and Jungkook would be going crazy about how much he missed hyung?”

“Oh god, don’t even start,” Yoongi groans. “It was just– Jin-hyung this and Jin-hyung has only 120 days more and do you think we should send him a card while he’s in there, hyung? I lost my damn mind.”

“Or when Jin-hyung was sick and didn’t tell anyone but Jungkook somehow found out and he didn’t know how to make soup so he bugged Yoongi to make some but kept saying it was for his “girlfriend” since Jin-hyung asked you to keep shut? Like, c’mon, Jungkook, you freeze around girls.”

Jungkook is bright red by his side. “That wasn’t– it was just a friendly thing. Friends can miss each other!”

“Sure they can”, Namjoon says in that Wise Old Tree way of his, smiling softly at Jungkook. “I’m not one for saying acts of care are only restricted to romance, but you’ve gotta admit…that was a lot more ‘please be my bro’ instead of ‘here you go, bro’.”

“Or like when you first met Jin and you’d follow him around like a little puppy, back in university,” Taehyung adds in, smiling fondly. “Oh, Tae-hyung! Do you think Jin-hyung’s single? Do you know what hyung’s type is like? Do you think I’d fit it?” Taehyung carries on in a falsetto, and everyone chuckles. Seokjin raises his eyebrows and looks sideways, but Jungkook refuses, face buried in his hand.

“Yeah, Jungkook was so obvious back then, I’m surprised you didn’t notice it, Jin-hyung,” Namjoon comments.

Seokjin takes in the moment, takes in all the revelations. Jungkook missed him. He bugged everyone with it, he apparently asked about his type when he was a scrawny eighteen-year-old but showed a brat attitude towards Seokjin anyway, indicating nothing. And he wants to tease Jungkook too, but he sees the red face, the slow ascend of mortification and takes pity.

“If Jungkook wanted it to be as friends, I’m not going to point it out for him,” Seokjin says, much to everyone’s chagrin. “A friendship with Jungkook is just as good, if not better. Why would I notice something unless I’m told about it?”

Everyone quiets down. Seokjin squeezes Jungkook’s hand in a silent message of support, and Jungkook looks grateful when he raises his face. He shares a soft smile, going back to his food.

 

 

Later, in the car, Seokjin can’t resist.

“So,” Seokjin begins as he powers the engine, “a crush, huh?”

“Finish that thought and die,” Jungkook says darkly, though nothing about him speaks dark. “They were being stupid. It was nothing like it.”

“Hey, hey, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Seokjin placates. “I’ve crushed on plenty of friends before. It’s natural.”

“Yeah, well, they blew it way out of proportion. It wasn’t like that,” Jungkook insists, hands fisted in his lap. He genuinely looks upset. “I– I do value you as my friend, hyung. Promise. I missed you like one and I– promise, there wasn’t anything selfish or double meaning behind any of that–”

“Hey, hey, no,” Seokjin says, pulling over to the side and turning the wait signal on. He turns towards Jungkook, whose lip seems to be trembling…Seokjin wants to kiss it away. Then he shoves the thought away. “I know you meant it, Jungkook. And honestly, it doesn’t matter if it was for romance or friendship, an act is an act and I cared that you cared so much. I’m touched that you did.”

Jungkook sniffles a little. “Yeah, well. I missed your dumb-ass.”

“And I missed yours,” Seokjin says softly, smiling. When it seems like he’s doing okay, he restarts the car and begins driving. The silence is a comfortable one and Seokjin revels in it for once. It’s new for them and he enjoys it.

“The crush at eighteen was a short thing,” Jungkook suddenly breaks it, voice soft as he looks resolutely out the window. “I just– I was alone in Seoul, I didn’t know the other hyungs and you were the only one who took me Seoul watching. And I was just newly gay or whatever, so I kind of– imprinted on you, I guess.”

The admission both raises Seokjin’s heartbeat and makes it swoop straight into his stomach, but he keeps a straight face. “Ah. Couldn’t help yourself around such a handsome hyung, could you?” He jokes.

Jungkook snorts weakly. “Sure, tell yourself that.”

“So there’s nothing now, huh?” Seokjin asks, heart wailing to be let out of its cage. Why did he ask that, what the fuck?

Jungkook’s silent for a long while before he shrugs. “All your dumbassery kind of killed it, so no. Not anymore. I’m over it.”

“Thanks for telling me now, then,” Seokjin says, as they near Jungkook’s place. Something sour and corrosive rises in his stomach at Jungkook’s confirmation. “Great on the honesty part.”

“We’re totally nailing this,” Jungkook comments deadpanned. “Although if we’re being honest…”

“Hmm?”

“You’re definitely fitting my type,” Jungkook says, his gaze serious before breaking into a grin. “I don’t know about you, but I hope the same is true for you!”

And then, like always, Jungkook gets out the car and walks away, leaving Seokjin conflicted and alone once again.

 

 

[Time: 6:07 p.m.]

[Location: Strip club, but without the strippers, thank you very much]

 

The D-day arrives soon enough. Not the wedding, which is a whole other stressor altogether that Seokjin’s not thinking of.

No, it’s the dreaded bachelor’s party, courtesy of Park Jimin and Kim Taehyung. Why Seokjin dreads it when he knows nothing untoward would happen is a mystery.

Probably because of that one time Jungkook said he’d be a hot stripper, his brain offers snidely, and Seokjin taps his foot impatiently. Now wasn’t the time for such thoughts or images, certainly not when he was being dragged by Hoseok and Namjoon blindfolded to the venue, Yoongi grumbling behind. Jimin and Taehyung had taken care of Jungkook, and all of this felt way too much effort for something both of them would be attending.

“Are these tactics really necessary,” Seokjin grumbles, stumbling around blindly and putting all faith in his dumb friends’ hands. God forbid if he fell on his face and got a cut on it; he’d sue them all. “We’re all attending the same party.”

“Yeah, but it’s the spirit of the thing!” Hoseok yells right in his ear, making Seokjin wince. He can tell they’re all a little tipsy, having pre-gamed at Yoongi’s. Seokjin and Jungkook were to only drink at the club they’d booked, so he’s painfully sober through this entire experience.

“We’re here!” He hears Namjoon chirp. Hoseok’s grip on him tightens. Anticipation bubbles inside him, a strange nervousness gripping him even harder. It was a party; why was it any different.

Jungkook will not be naked or stripping, and no, he will not be in a slutty bunny costume like you dreamed that one time, he chides himself. He tries not to think of The Dream or how he’d woken up hard, and had to think of Mario dying to really cool himself down. And the long cold shower. He hadn’t been able to look Jungkook in the eye for a week after.

He feels himself entering a cool surrounding, the music throbbing under the floor beneath him. The smell of alcohol and sweet shisha smoke clambers through his nose and he sniffs, already feeling the headiness of the substance in. He’s walking more carefully now, Yoongi close at his heels in case he stumbles and falls.

Finally, they reach wherever they have to and at last, the blindfold is lifted, leaving him blinking at the dull surroundings and the low lights. He’s pushed to sit in a chair, and he faces forward to find Jungkook in a similar position.

“Welcome to the Bachelor Party of Bachelor Parties!” Someone– Jimin– announces into the mic at the DJ podium, and what he’s wearing leaves very little to imagination. Great. “We’re gathered here today to celebrate the one last time our young guests will be free, single and ready to mingle! Give a hand for Kim Seokjin and Jeon Jungkook everyone!”

Their friends all cheer and clap, and Seokjin barely has time to notice their outfits (or lack of them, thereof) before a tray of shots is shoved into his face and he’s urged to down all of them down. His stomach is empty since his lunch hours ago and the shots hit his head fast, surging through him at lightning speed. His tongue is like cotton. Fuck, this stuff was strong.

He looks at Jungkook who’s downing his shot like a pro too, sucking on the lime afterwards in a way that sends heat down Seokjin’s stomach. He then nearly chokes, through the tipsy haze of too-fast shots, at what Jungkook is wearing: a sheer black shirt that shows off his abs and nipples, tucked tight into black leather pants that cling to his thighs like cling wrap and leave little to imagination. His waist is so narrow Seokjin nearly has a seizure. Jungkook looks like a dream.

Jungkook looks fuckable, his brain adds and Seokjin’s desperate to have another shot so he doesn’t lose his mind. He then, perchance, happens to look down and see what his outfit is like, and– yep, his friends are going to die horrible, horrible, deaths.

It’s a sheer black shirt as well, though his is sheer only at the top and only gives a hint of his nipples, leaving him feeling really exposed. His pants are, thank the heavens, not some torturous leather device but still stick to him, giving away the shape of his legs which he works very hard on, thank you very much. He’s not the most comfortable, and maybe that’s why all the shots– drunk Seokjin rarely gives a fuck.

He catches Jungkook’s gaze across him and finds something like hunger in the other’s eyes, as if he too were drinking Seokjin in like it was the first and last time.

Now, Seokjin doesn’t want to be a doom naysayer and say that it goes downhill from there on. It honestly depends on perspective; if his friends were asked, they would say it was excellent, 10/10 the best show of the year. If you ask him or Jungkook– he’s not quite sure what his response would be, but it’s in the works.

His friends did promise them no strippers and there are none– the entire venue has been booked by Jimin. Seokjin can’t even begin to think the sheer expenditure for this one thing, and he is definitely going to pay his share because this is plain ridiculous. It’s his last sober thought before he’s handed another shot which he accepts gladly.

The theme of the night is obviously to keep him and Jungkook apart, in weird bachelor party fashion, and once upon a time, Seokjin would have looked at the scenario and said, no problem, hah, but now he’s not so sure. A thread keeps pulling him towards where Jungkook is, an incessant call in his body that wants to be close to Jungkook. Jungkook seems to be just as distracted, and only Taehyung and Jimin’s combined force seems to be keeping him at bay.

Since when did they act like animals, unable to bear the distance?

The crux of the night comes by soon, some two or three hours in by then, when they all sit on chairs in a circle, drunk out of their minds. Yoongi’s slightly better, having volunteered to be the chaperone of sorts, but it is still mayhem. Jungkook and Seokjin are kept on opposite ends once again.

“I know you guys said no strippers,” Jimin yells into the mic, swatting away Taehyung’s wandering hands from his butt, “and that was a damper. But! Jungkook’s thing about the whole ‘I’d smoke all them stripper bitches’ gave us an even better idea.” He urges everyone to clap and they do. Even Seokjin. “So now– on to the game of the night!”

“Right!” Taehyung joins in, holding a bunch of cards and grinning stupid. “This is like Truth or Dare, except it’s Dare and Dare, and much, much dirtier version of it,” Taehyung wiggles his eyebrows. “Jiminie and I spent hours looking at every dirty version of every game ever to come up with these cards. You’re welcome.”

“I’m betting it led to some good roleplay, didn’t it,” Hoseok hollers, and Taehyung flashes a thumbs up, while Jimin giggles, smug. “You guys are nasty.”

“Nastiness gets the results,” Taehyung shrugs, then claps his hands once more. “Let’s begin!”

And begin they do. And oh, how messy it promises to be, with the dares that Seokjin very laughs at. There are some that are off-limits, some harmless ones, like when he had to make out with Yoongi for one-full minute, and some medium ones, like having Jimin lick a whole line of salt off his abs. The serious ones are the ones that have his nerves on fire, though Seokjin does notice that none of the dares lead him to Jungkook. And sue him– all the dares, the words have him heated, and he wants nothing more than to devour him whole, that’s how badly the need itches underneath. Jungkook looks much the same.

As far as dirty games go, Jimin and Taehyung come through with the reinterpretation. It’s definitely going to go down as one of the weirdest yet most fun memories in his life, and–

“Jeon Jungkook!” Jimin calls, after having exchanged a shot between Hoseok and him which was all sorts of nasty and definitely a little hot, “I dare you to give Kim Seokjin the best lap-dance there is. Ten-minutes.”

Everyone cheers. They’re all drunk beyond means and it’s going to hit horribly tomorrow but for now, anything’s possible under the sun. Moon. Disco lights, whatever the fuck, but Seokjin’s paying attention now. Paying attention to the way Jungkook’s gaze locks onto him and doesn’t waver, like he’s the prey and the predator’s catching him at last. Need shivers in steady rivulets down his spine and into his stomach, twisting into heated knots of the best kind.

“Are there extra points for a strip-tease?” Is what Jungkook asks. Seokjin throat runs drier than it already is, his head pounding in tandem with his heart.

“Ooh, Jungkook coming in strong,” Hoseok giggles. “Not that there are points but sure, why the fuck not. Here’s a thousand won bill if you do.”

“From me as well!” Jimin crows, but it all sounds like white noise when Jungkook staring at him like that, like he’s going to be the most delicious meal to last him a while.

A doubt niggles at the back of his head, whether he should be encouraging this, whether he’ll regret it later but the alcohol streaming in his blood shushes it, unlocking all his wants and desires that have been collecting steadily over the past month, roaring to be let out.

Jungkook gets up smoothly, not at all showing the amount of alcohol he’s ingested. He walks up to Seokjin, gait careful and measured– before plopping himself right in Seokjin’s lap.

“Hi, hyung,” he slurs, right in Seokjin’s ear, voice all throaty and soft, a strange velvety soft. “Missed you.”

Seokjin finds his hands curling around Jungkook’s petite waist, loving the feel of it, how well it fits. “Missed you too, Kook-ah.”

“Bunny, call me Bunny,” Jungkook whispers, hitching himself in close. He’s pressed to Seokjin in all the right places and Seokjin is having the time of his life. “Liked it when you called me that one time.”

“Is that right? Peculiar name to get attached to,” Seokjin murmurs, letting Jungkook get comfortable. He knows Jungkook’s thighs are strong; he also knows his are some of the few that can really handle it.

“It’s going to be my stripper name for today,” Jungkook says, before blowing air into Seokjin’s ear and then– licking his face right from his jaw to ear.

The room explodes, their friends hooting but Seokjin doesn’t care because for all he knows, it’s only him and Jungkook in the room. Everything else is spinning in his vision but Jungkook is the only thing that’s clear, so steady and gyrating on his lap. He clearly knows how to use it– there’s an expert precision in his movements, the way they brush just tantalisingly close to the areas he wants pressure at, the way his ass settles underneath and Seokjin aches to– to cup them, maybe move them in a certain way. It’s disgusting. It’s amazing.

Jungkook doesn’t kiss him but touches him in soft grazes. He opens the buttons of his sheer shirt one by one until there’s only one holding it together, and he guides Seokjin’s hand down his chest. There’s a wildness in his eyes that Seokjin’s never seen but loves so much, he can’t believe his eyes. He can’t believe the Jungkook he’s seeing and touching and feeling but god damn, it’s amazing. It’s remarkable and Seokjin wants

Jungkook presses soft kisses along his face and neck but never his lips or where he wants. He opens a few buttons of Seokjin’s shirt but doesn’t touch, doesn’t acknowledge and it’s driving Seokjin mad. Lust, irritation, drunken helplessness– he doesn’t know, but he wants it to end before he dies in the chair.

He can see the strain in Jungkook’s movements, feel the strain in his own pants, feel Jungkook’s own pressed tight against his and he can’t escape that awareness. It’s one thing getting accidentally hard from some light kissing; it’s another to have your friend give you a lap-dance for the very purpose. And enjoy it.

The timer goes off in the distance yet neither seem to realise it until someone claps right in between their faces. Seokjin blinks, suddenly aware that he’s in public. He’s in public, even for a private event, with Jungkook in his lap, both panting and hard and wanting, absolutely having lost time in the world. There are the shrieks and cheers in the background but Seokjin’s having none of that. No, all he’s staring at is Jungkook, and how gorgeous he looks sitting in Seokjin’s lap, skin dotted with sweat and some of his makeup coming lose. How he’s warm and compliant and perfect, in a way Seokjin’s never experienced but wants now that he has a taste of it, and–

“Phew! That was hot! Back to your seat, Jungkook-ah, we have to move to the next unfortunate lamb–”

“Excuse us,” Jungkook cuts in, getting off Seokjin’s lap and adjusting his pants which do little to hide his boner. He then grabs Seokjin by the arm and lifts him, dragging him away. “We have some business to attend to.”

He doesn’t wait for the others to respond, and Seokjin is limp in his arms. The rest snicker, with Hoseok yelling, “Oi! Don’t forget a condom!”

 

 

Jungkook, it seems, is on a mission. He doesn’t say a word, doesn’t indicate anything until he’s pushing Seokjin into a stall and locking the door behind. He doesn’t say a word in the brief two seconds they eye each other before he’s pushing Seokjin against the wall and kissing him harsh, prying his lips open like his only source of air would come straight from Seokjin.

It’s a kiss from hell and exactly the kiss Seokjin wants. He doesn’t hold back, cupping the back of Jungkook’s head and kissing him just as hard, tongues battling with each other. It’s disgusting and probably not even the most correct but it’s the best damn kiss Seokjin’s ever had. He’s way too drunk for this. He’s exactly drunk enough for this.

He can feel Jungkook opening the rest of shirt, feels the way his hands roam on exposed flesh like he wants to draw Seokjin from memory and trace him forever. He pulls back just enough to latch on to Seokjin’s neck like a leech, and suck into him. Seokjin’s head swims as he groans, hitting his head into the stall.

“Fucking hell, hyung, you’re so hot,” Jungkook whispers along his skin, nipping at it all along. He’s going to leave so many marks, but Seokjin loves being claimed. “God, I near damn busted in the chair. Who gave you the right to exist this way?”

“Saying that about me when you should be talking about yourself, Jungkook-ah,” Seokjin says, letting Jungkook ravage him as he pleases. All of him throbs with a certain need, a certain calling. This isn’t practice. This is nowhere close to it. “Pretty little thing sitting on hyung’s lap. Weren’t you just an angel?”

“The best angel,” Jungkook whispers in a daze. He’s on the other side of Seokjin’s neck. “God, you have the best neck. Every part of you is perfect.”

Seokjin’s loving all the praise but he’s also had enough. He counts till ten before he flips Jungkook around and moves him away from his neck, kissing Jungkook once again. He can’t get enough of him or his mouth or the way he tastes, like he knows how to mould himself just for Seokjin. He doesn’t do anything but moan, hips making little swivels like he can’t help himself. When Seokjin latches on to his neck, he honest to god whines and Seokjin hopes to have that sound on a loop forever. He thinks it’s going to be one of his favourite sounds.

He then decides to do something bold– he hitches Jungkook up in his arms, just a little so he’s above him and he can reach his chest, and Jungkook’s legs wrap around his automatically. His pupils are blown wide and dark with want, and he breathes heavy.

“Fuck, that’s so hot,” Jungkook croaks, while Seokjin hums, making his way down Jungkook’s throat and above his clavicle where he knows how sensitive Jungkook begins to get it. He’s rewarded by tiny whines and shudders, and he smiles into Jungkook’s skin. “Fuck, hyung, you’re the only one who can lift me so easily.”

“Hmm, I’m the only one who knows just how much you bench-pressed and what your limit was, Bunny,” Seokjin pulls away to quip, smirking when he sees Jungkook squeeze his eyes shut. “Remember how mine is the only record you couldn’t beat?”

“Someday I will,” Jungkook challenges back hotly. Everything is hot; their clothes stick to their skin and the air is charged all around. Seokjin’s long stopped giving a fuck about mistakes and rushes, not when Jungkook is all wrapped pretty around him. “Not today, but– someday. You mark my words.”

“Sure, pretty. Looking forward to that.” Then he dips in, taking a nipple in that makes Jungkook cry before he slaps a hand over his mouth. Seokjin knows how sensitive they are, discovered the fact when he’d come to pick Jungkook up for college and had to wake him up with unusual methods. He’d never thought to try them sexually, but well, never later than never. He’s merciless with it, experimenting and pushing Jungkook to see what his limits are, whether he’d drop his hand and cry out loud, whether he’d come from some little nipple play. The very thought sends another hot burst of want coursing through him. Earlier it had been simply kissing; now it was wanting to see just how debauched Jungkook could look like this.

“Hyung, hyung, please, it’s– it’s too much,” Jungkook whines at last, and Seokjin lessens the pressure, takes pity on him. Where the sudden confidence came from after weeks of letting Jungkook have the reigns is a mystery. He lets Jungkook down, feet touching the ground while he makes do with kissing his neck, his lips, letting him rest and catch him breath.

“Feeling better?” Seokjin whispers while he pecks him here and there, little butterfly kisses that are way too tender for such a moment but perhaps, exactly what they need. “Nipple action too much for little Jungkookie?”

“Shut the entire fuck up,” Jungkook gasps. Sweat lines his forehead and his lips are so red, it’s a miracle they aren’t bleeding yet. “That was– I– that was not what I’d been expecting walking in here.”

“Hmm, what had you been expecting then?” Seokjin asks, pressing in close, letting Jungkook know how not done they were. Jungkook shudders under his palms. Has he always been so damn pretty?

“Honestly, wanted to– wanted to kiss the fuck out of you– fucking driving me insane looking like that,” Jungkook gasps as Seokjin grinds into him, a brazen sort of deliberation that neither have attempted in all this while they’ve been tangled with each other. Weeks upon weeks of burning gazes and practiced kisses; they were never enough. Who had Seokjin been kidding? “Hyung, what– what are you doing?”

“Been thinking about it since you handed your pretty little ass to me on a plate,” Seokjin says, absolutely gone under the influence of alcohol and the pleasure of Jungkook in his head. “Okay if hyung helps you out a little, baby?”

“Fuck– fuck yes, hyung, I’m dying for so long– oh,” Jungkook breathes as Seokjin unzips the pants and reaches his hand inside, nearly short-circuiting at the fact that Jungkook went fucking commando. Fuck, this brat. He was going to be the death of Seokjin. “Oh, hyung, oh– that’s it, right there.”

Seokjin strokes him slow, drinking in Jungkook’s whines and moans like they were ambrosia, food of the gods for its exactly how Jungkook sounds, like he’s unleashing a reckoning. He wants to focus on Jungkook simply but he’s too worked up himself and pauses to unzip his own pants, before taking both himself and Jungkook in one hand and resuming. He groans against Jungkook’s mouth, foreheads pressed together as Jungkook moans wordlessly, silent with each stroke of Seokjin’s hand. The pressure is unlike anything else, building and building like a crescendo, simply waiting for the beat to drop and peace to come at last. It’s unbearable, how turned on Seokjin is by this, how Jungkook is like putty in his hands but Seokjin’s not any different, in the end. They’re both at the mercy of each other and then–

The beat drops, both coming together in tandem. It’s a reckoning, a calling, for Seokjin’s never come this hard– and he’s had some good sex. He doesn’t know what made this so different, but it is and he can hardly breathe, all oxygen stolen from the hidden crevices of his lungs.

Both collapse into each other, breathing hard and their pants messy, most probably ruined forever. A sudden clarity hits Seokjin like thunder; you know an orgasm is good when it shakes you to the very core and changes the way you look at life. Both come down from their high and both, it seems, come to the realisation of a different sort.

Seokjin blinks, all hunger and want gone, only a slight tipsiness colouring his edges. He’s not sure if orgasms take away alcohol’s influence but he can attest to it because he realises, with slow, sludge-y horror, what he’s done. What they’ve both done.

It was so, so not practice.

Panic bleeds into Jungkook’s eyes as he pushes Seokjin away and hastily begins to tuck himself in, uncaring of the muck and how he’d have to go home in that. He grabs for the toilet paper blindly, wiping his hands and around his crotch to remove most of the stains, his hands shaking with the force of how he’s barely holding on.

“Fuck, fuck, what did we do, hyung–” he hisses as he pats away, and Seokjin’s pretty sure he sees tears gather in his doe eyes. He uses some of the toilet paper to clean himself up before tucking himself in, following the same process. His mind is in a strange sort of calm, the kind of calm that only happens when you’re panicking so hard you go into a calm overdrive mode. “Hyung, what–”

“Jungkook-ah, calm down,” Seokjin begins, which is a wrong thing to say because Jungkook snaps.

“This isn’t the time to calm down!” He snaps, hands clenched around the disgusting tissue. His eyes shake, not quite meeting Seokjin’s and tears gather around them. Seokjin feels the same trepidation around himself, though the need to soothe Jungkook takes over just as fast. He didn’t matter when Jungkook was nearly breaking in front of him. “Hyung, this isn’t what we planned.”

Seokjin sighs. Out of reflex he takes Jungkook’s hands in his own, smoothening them out through the clamminess. “Yeah. I know.”

He keeps rubbing Jungkook’s hands until Jungkook seems to make a decision and snatches his hands back, holding them close to himself. Small, like he wants to protect himself from Seokjin.

“This…this was a mistake,” Jungkook whispers, words loud in the quiet space between them. There’s the beat of the club finally making its way through to Seokjin and the heady, heavy smell of sex clashing with their perfumes tickling his nose. Yet all Seokjin can focus on is the erratic jump in his heartbeat when Jungkook says that. Dread curls around him, at the implication of the words and Seokjin is suddenly afraid. “I…I should go. Sorry, I can’t be here anymore.”

Jungkook scrambles to unlock the door as if he wants nothing more than to escape from Seokjin. In all of thirty seconds, things flipped so fast, a whole 180 he didn’t see coming and now…

“Fuck,” Seokjin breathes, hands in his hair and exhaling harshly as the reality catches up fast. Dread mixes with anger and sadness, an odd betrayal he doesn’t know the source of that has him banging the stall door in a short, unusual burst of anger. “Fuck!”

 

 

Jungkook has apparently left the club altogether, and when Seokjin joins the others after a few moments of angry thinking, he’s met with worried glances from his friends. At least it wasn’t pity. At least Jungkook didn’t expose them or their stupid plan.

“Hyung!” Jimin says, crowding around him. They’re still drunk, having partied while Seokjin and Jungkook were busy crossing all the fucking lines they’d drawn oh so carefully. Seokjin is too sober for this. “Hyung, Jungkook just left, is he alright–”

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Seokjin cuts in. He wants to leave, desperately, doesn’t want to be around people right now. Sheer will pushes him to act a little while longer. “He, uh– he wasn’t feeling well. I told him to leave.”

“Damn, hyung, what did y’all do in there,” Hoseok whistles, eyes shining. Seokjin wants to snap, tear through his words and explode, wants to for a tiny moment blame everything on his friends for dragging this farce of a ceremony on, for being so involved in his life. But his rationality reigns in his chaos, reminds him of what a dick he’d be for something that was ultimately his fault.

So Seokjin smiles. It’s weak and he knows it probably doesn’t reach his eyes or whatever, but he counts on the others to assign whatever reason there is and let him go. “Nothing much. But I’m really worried about Jungkook, so I’m going to have to–” He indicates with a thumb over the shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah, of course, hyung. We’ll handle everything here, you go take care of your dream boy,” Taehyung says. Seokjin’s heart squeezes at the words. Dream boy. Of course, that’s what it was. Another realisation is close at his heels but Seokjin is not in a frame of mind to cater to it. He waves them goodbye, hugs them briefly before taking off and–

Yeah. He doesn’t quite know where to go from here.

 

 

Understandably, Jungkook doesn’t get in touch with him.

Seokjin doesn’t make an attempt either. The tension is fraught between them, even amongst the distance and silence. There’s a knot in Seokjin’s throat every time he thinks of calling Jungkook or even texting him, Jungkook’s words floating in his mind like free lunch. This was a mistake.

Seokjin agrees– but not, he thinks, for the reason Jungkook thinks it’s a mistake. The days of silence lead to quiet clarity at 4:00 am a random Wednesday morning, some four days after the incident at the club. It’s the kind of clarity that brings forth calmness, settles the frantic beating of his heart into a quiet acceptance.

It was a mistake not because it was Jungkook. No, it was a mistake because they went about it the wrong way, from the start, and now, Seokjin’s caught up. He’s caught up, faced his feelings and the weight of them, only to have no one to share it with. To not have the one person to share them with.

The group does realise that something’s terribly off but, out of respect or fear, they don’t address it or bring it to attention. Yoongi texts him once, a silent offer of support. Whatever you and Jungkook are going through, it’ll get fixed. I’m there, hit me up anytime. He receives another private text from Taehyung, something along the lines of Jimin’s scared he did something wrong but I know it’s not about that, hyung. Here anytime you want. Seokjin appreciates it, his irrational anger of earlier gone as fast as it came. He’s grateful for the understanding.

Seokjin carries on with his life and duties. Jungkook doesn’t visit, doesn’t enter his home like he owns it or make a mess in his curated life, and Seokjin, he misses it. Misses how loud Jungkook’s presence was in his life, how he curated his life for that one little spot of Jungkook’s chaos, how that had always been the case since he took in the youngest. How it always made sense, the way Jungkook had always fit that Seokjin didn’t have to think twice about it but not that he was gone, felt incredibly void.

He gives Jungkook his time. They’ve never quite gone without talking for so long, even in some of their fights which were rare to count. They’d slip back into each other’s life because distance didn’t make sense. Everything in this world did, but a gap between the two? Seokjin doesn’t know if he can handle the new reality.

He carries on, numbs himself a little so he doesn’t have to think until one night, when he’s woken up at two in the morning by a rapid set of knocks in his door. It’s odd and a part of Seokjin worries immediately, worries if someone got hurt or his family of friends, if Jungkook got hurt which makes him want to hurl. He’d never forgive himself if anything happened to Jungkook. He was his to care for.

He opens the door, sleep still hanging around him as a cloud but it vanishes when he’s faced with Jungkook. Jungkook, who is dressed in jogger sweats and a sweatshirt, whose hair is all over the place and who is breathing hard as if he ran all the way over form his place.

“Jungkook?” Seokjin asks, a little numb and a little dumb too, his brain reactivating much too slow. “What are you doing here–”

“I lied,” Jungkook breathes. He bends over then, hands over his knees as he catches his breath. It’s odd and certainly something he didn’t expect at two in the damn morning. The hallway behind is empty. “I’m not over it. I’m not over the crush.”

Seokjin, understandably, blanks out. These were not the words he expected to here, again, at two in the morning, and he thanks his body for not stumbling down dramatically. “Um. I think you should come inside.”

He steps aside as Jungkook does just that, hurriedly towing off his shoes. Seokjin shuts the door behind and walks in auto-pilot towards the kitchen switching on the light and grabbing a glass of water. He offers it to Jungkook, who gulps it down like a man in the desert. Seokjin offers him a second one, which Jungkook drinks slower. Silence brew in between, fluttering and waiting for the sword to fall and cut across.

When he thinks Jungkook’s at a stable breathing rate, he takes the glass away and settles into the chair. “So, what you said–”

“Hyung, I have a request,” Jungkook cuts him off, holding up a hand. He’s still not looking at Seokjin. “I have something to say and I want you to simply listen, alright? No questions, no jokes, no nothing.”

“Okay.”

It takes Jungkook a while. He fiddles with the chopsticks at the table. With his hoodie strings, chewing his lip apart like he wants to swallow it whole. It’s disturbing and Seokjin aches to reach across, to ease away his pain but this isn’t the time.

“So. I have a crush of you,” Jungkook says at last. Seokjin makes to ask since when but it seems Jungkook already anticipated that, because he raises a finger. “I’ve had a crush on you since we met. So, seven years now.”

Seokjin can’t say anything, but he waits. His entire body is on edge, sleep long gone and a song singing in his blood.

“I lied the other day. I don’t…No, I don’t have a crush on you. That’s stupid. Defining this as a crush is fucking stupid,” Jungkook laughs, staring holes into the table. “I’m pretty sure I’ve been a little in love with you forever. Since I was eighteen and you thought I was stealing Taehyung’s PlayStation, and you yelled at me.

“It started with a crush. I crushed on you so hard, hyung, and I knew I was being obvious about it. There’s no way you didn’t realise. But you never returned the feelings or ever acted like you cared so…it went away. Or rather, I don’t know, it just settled into my head that maybe this is the way. And it was okay. You know? Maybe I can be your best friend, your partner-in-crime or whatever. Maybe this is the way you love and if that’s the case, then so be it. I’d take it. If I got to spend time with you, I’d take it a thousand times over.”

Seokjin simply aches. “Jungkook-ah–”

“Let me finish, please,” he requests quietly, like he needs to get all the words out or he’d never be able to. He’d have to forever hold his peace. “I don’t think it’s a crush because it never felt like it. I think it just melted into something that made sense. Like this understanding. I think I even forgot it existed because of how natural it was. And I didn’t realise, until this entire– this entire dumb prank, how deep it was. How it just erupted from a place I didn’t even know I’d buried deep inside. But they came back and I’ve been struggling for a while now because god, hyung, it never went away. I was and still am madly in love with you. And I don’t…I don’t think I’ll ever stop. It doesn’t make sense to stop.

“I thought about it. At first, it was a stupid prank. Trick our friends, do what we do best, you know? Have a little fun. I never felt bad about having fun around you, you always went along with me. And then…we kissed. It was fine when we were joking about it or alluding to it, when we just flirted for the sake of it but it got real after the game. Suddenly there you were, seven years later, kissing me and bringing back my wet dream from college to fruition.”

Seokjin can’t help himself. “Kissing me was your wet dream–?”

“Hyung, please,” Jungkook drags out, pain in his eyes like he’s mortified. But Seokjin’s blood sings like a damn Disney soundtrack. “I was eighteen, I was newly gay and just– you were everything I could have ever hoped for. Not because you were so gorgeous, like, fucking out of my league but just– you. You were put-together, you were pursuing both culinary arts and a business major, you had your life figured out while I was so fucking beneath you, a scrawny kid making his way through Seoul after a lifetime in Busan. You would flirt shamelessly and you were so– so sure of yourself, of what you wanted and how you wanted it but you were also so chill, like, you never felt arrogant or rude. You were so kind. Even after you accused me of stealing a friend’s TV you offered to take me around Seoul so I wouldn’t run back home like a coward. You took me to all those places for a student and you even took me to meet your parents so I wouldn’t feel so fucking alone. Of course, you were my wet dream. A constant one.”

He breathes out slow after that, eyes closed like he’s got it out at last, like they’d been trapped in his being clamouring to be let out. It’s all spilt in front of them but it’s not a mess. It’s a glorious bucket of paint.

“Jungkookie…that was just me faking it till I made, you know that–”

“Of course, I know that now,” Jungkook hisses, curling into himself. He looks angry and put off and so, so in love. How had Seokjin never noticed? “But back then? When the world was too big for me and I didn’t know anything, I didn’t even know myself? You were everything I hoped for. The others were right. I followed you like a damn puppy. I tried to– to be like you, maybe, to think like you do. I couldn’t. And to see that you didn’t notice or probably didn’t even feel an iota of what I did…It did crush me back then. But I got over it. It was either that or forgoing our friendship and I couldn’t have that. I had to have you.

“And I’m not one to say that friendships are in anyway less than a romance. You were the best possible friend and I hold on to that with honour. Even if you don’t return my feelings right now, I wouldn’t care because being your friend has been the best part about my life. So yeah. That’s all.”

That’s all. That’s all, like Jungkook hadn’t just spilt the ink across their pages and made smudges all over, but in a way that it looked like another piece of art instead of an irritating mess. That’s all, like he hadn’t just changed the very fabric that threaded them both together and added in his own splash of colour.

Seokjin finds himself smiling. He can’t help it, can’t help the way the hope emerges from deep within, blossoming at an alarming rate and eager to come out of his mouth and stay. Jungkook looks up and frowns, perhaps curious to know why Seokjin’s smiling like a creep. “Hyung?”

“I think I owe you an apology, Jungkook-ah,” Seokjin says. It all makes sense now. Seokjin had been so blind. “I owe you an apology big time.”

Jungkook stiffens, sadness marring his face like he’s expecting the worst news possible and preparing for it. “You don’t have to, hyung, it’s fine if you don’t return my feelings–”

“I owe you an apology for making you think that way,” Seokjin says. He wishes he were near Jungkook so he could take his hands and hold them. “I’m sorry for being so blind all along.”

Jungkook blinks, and of course he can’t hide the kernel of hope firing up in his eyes. Jungkook could never hide anything. “Hyung, what do you–?”

“I’m sorry for you thinking I didn’t love you as something more when I think I always have,” Seokjin continues. The words tumble out so easy, because everything is easy with Jungkook. “I always have. Only in my case, I was too stupid to ever think about it, or name it. You were Jungkook, you were the one who got me and went along with me on my stupid ideas and laugh at all my jokes. Like, all of them. How could I not?”

Jungkook’s eyes water, and happiness shows in them. They’re so close, it would be a shame if they were cowardly now. “Hyung, are you– if you’re doing what I think you’re doing and it’s some joke, hyung, I swear to god I will end you.”

“No, you brat,” Seokjin laughs. The distance was unbearable; he gets up off his chair and kneels down in front of Jungkook, who is wiping his eyes furiously. There he was. His little emotional bean, the one who felt too much and gave too much and made Seokjin feel larger than he felt he was. “Hyung loves you. I always have. It’s not a joke, I promise.”

“Oh god,” Jungkook claims, now pressing into his eyes. It’s a futile exercise, for the tears leak out anyway and Jungkook’s nose is all red and stuffy, but he’s never looked prettier to Seokjin. “Oh, god, this is real. This is happening. Oh my god.”

“Hyung’s sorry for being so oblivious,” Seokjin says, even as he pulls down Jungkook’s hands and takes him in, takes in the eyelashes clumping together and the tear tracks, the glorious bare-faced nature of him. The mole at the corner of his lip, the tiny scar on his cheek. Seokjin wipes away his eyes. “You…you have always made sense, Jungkook-ah. Maybe that’s why nothing ever felt right.”

“Oh god, I was so prepared to be rejected,” Jungkook blabbers, holding on to Seokjin’s hand tightly, as if Seokjin would vanish were he to let go. “I had the damn thought at, like, 1:25 and I ran all the way here because a text felt stupid and a phone call was just not it, and I had to tell you, hyung, because it was eating me up inside like you wouldn’t believe–”

“I know. I know, I had a similar realisation a while back.”

“And I just– I knew it was stupid and way-over-the-top and that’s not what we do, that’s not who you are but there wasn’t anyway because I thought I would rather die than go one more day not letting you know the truth. So here I am.”

“Here you are, indeed,” Seokjin comments. His heart is going to burst out of his chest, like a gross alien movie, and Seokjin would probably pick it up and gift it to Jungkook. What a morbid thought. “So…it wasn’t a mistake, was it?”

Jungkook turns sheepish. He’s still sniffling but it’s so damn cute. “I– no. I mean, the two of us, that wasn’t a mistake. But the way we went about it, that was a mistake. We shouldn’t have gone and done it like that.”

“How surprising. I had a similar understanding.”

“I suppose that’s good, since we’re soulmates or whatever.” There’s a beat of silence and then they both laugh. It feels great to laugh with Jungkook at last. Seokjin sees a lot of them in the future. “But had it not been for this…we wouldn’t be here either.”

“That’s true,” Seokjin murmurs, tucking away Jungkook’s hair, wiping underneath his eyes. He aches to keep touching him, always, forever. “I think it suits our brand, honestly.”

“Right? Of course, we’re dumb enough to have been in love all along and prank ourselves into realising it. It’s perfect.”

Some more silence but this time comfortable, a wave of connection between them. Yet, Seokjin can’t help it. “I don’t mean to put you in the spot, Jungkook-ah, but was I perhaps your gay-awakening?”

“Don’t you want your ego-boost already,” Jungkook snorts. He fiddles with Seokjin’s fingers. “You were. I mean, Namjoon-hyung was a close second since I literally met him the second day at the gym with you, and I’m sorry to say, hyung, but his thighs…”

“No, no, don’t apologise, I agree,” Seokjin says. “His thighs are insane. I’d be pretty gay for them too.”

“If it makes you feel better, he was like a more physical awakening while you were of the more emotional kind?”

“Careful, bunny, hyung’s not so benevolent. Let’s not forget that, hmm?”

“Aw, hyung, you’re both for me now. Or was the stall not clear enough?” Jungkook breathes, and Seokjin’s stomach jumps. He tamps down it, but god, the way Jungkook just flipped his shit. He would drive Seokjin up the walls and he was loving it. His face is all close to Seokjin and even at two– now three, who cared– he smelled good. Jungkook always did. “I can always arrange for a reminder.”

“That– I– nope,” Seokjin stutters, pushing himself away, clearing his head. “Not now. Nope. We’re going to go about this slow and nice and right, and I will not have you messing with it, Jeon Jungkook. I refuse.”

“Slow and right? While being married?”

“Absolutely while being married.”

And finally, at last, they meet in the middle and kiss.

 

 

[Time: 12:03 p.m., a month later]

[Location: Fancy wedding place Jimin booked that’s actually pretty dope]

 

They get married, Korean style, amongst the attendance of their closest friends and families.

It’s a small event, a private one. It’s not technically legal, but Seokjin paid good money to keep it mum. It’s the only thing Jimin allowed him to contribute financially in, so he’s done a damn good job.

Their parents didn’t even blink an eye when they were informed. According to Seokjin’s mom, who had met Jungkook when he was a lost kid and was the prime reason why Jungkook had even stayed, Jungkook’s crush on Seokjin was pretty obvious. Jungkook’s parents agreed, saying that they’d had their doubts about Jungkook’s sexuality and future but once they met Seokjin the first time, they understood pretty quickly. Everyone laughs at how oblivious Seokjin was or how Jungkook had really been the main star of keeping a crush so tightly wrapped. Seokjin had laughed and then pulled Jungkook in for apology kisses.

They exchange the rings they bought secretly, real gold with a sapphire for Jungkook and the regular diamond for Seokjin. Seokjin even gets misty-eyed when slipping the ring on and Jungkook very near bawls without care.

They promised each other that they’ll figure out who they are and how they are the proper way, even if they were getting married before it. It was chaotic and stupid and really not how most romance stories panned out, but hey, as Seokjin said– this was so on brand for them.

He smiles at Jungkook as Jimin raises a toast, as Taehyung recounts the two of them through the years. As his parents comment on the soft love they’d always seen between the two and waited. Jungkook smiles back and raises a glass, happiness glimmering in his eyes.

They haven’t told anyone about the reality of the wedding and their past, and they don’t plan on doing so. It’s for them, their story and it’s on brand for them.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

~

The End