He should go home.
It’s late and the day has been one of those that leave you with a pounding skull and lacking the mood to hold any conversation, so Namjoon should go home. Instead, his eyes linger on the shining club sign on the other side of the street after his driver stops at a red light.
“Jiwon-ssi,” he mutters, dragging his eyes away from the neon letters. “Let’s stop here.”
The older man looks at him through the rearview mirror, eyebrows furrowed. Namjoon understands why; it’s not typical of him to choose to go anywhere other than his apartment (or Yoongi’s) during a weekday, but being a professional, Jiwon doesn’t make any comments, simply offering his boss a short nod before giving signal and making a turn to the right.
Namjoon doesn’t know what kind of club this is, has never seen it before, although it’s on his preferred route to his building. It could be that he’s always been either too busy or too tired to look out the window, or perhaps the light was never red when they were driving through this road.
“You can go home,” he tells Jiwon when the driver stops the car in front of the establishment. He takes a pill of aspirin from his briefcase and downs it dry, hoping it will be enough to appease his mind while he’s inside. “I’ll take a cab.”
“Are you sure, boss?” Jiwon’s still looking at him through the rearview mirror and Namjoon finds that interesting; how the man never turns in his seat. “I could wait.”
Namjoon shakes his head no. “Go home to your wife, Jiwon-ssi. I’ll be here a while.”
He’s not sure that’s true; he could very well enter the club, realize it’s not his type of place, turn around and call a taxi all within the next five minutes, but for some reason that has probably to do with how fucking shitty he feels right now about his entire existence, Namjoon thinks the club and him are a good match.
After grabbing his phone and wallet, Namjoon decides to leave everything else in the car since he has work tomorrow as well and it’s not like he’s getting anything done tonight. Namjoon takes a deep breath as soon as he’s out in the cold air, undoing the first two buttons of his dress-shirt and walking the few steps that will take him inside the club Pluto .
It’s not loud, which is good for his head, but there’s music playing through speakers— Namjoon doesn’t recognize it, but it’s not radio pop, that he knows for sure. The club isn’t crowded, too, but that makes sense considering it’s a Wednesday. A couple people turn their heads to him when he walks in, but Namjoon pays them no mind. All he needs right now is to sit at the bar and ask for a glass of whiskey.
“Good evening,” he greets as soon as he sits on the stool.
The bartender, a woman with sharp eyes and tattoos coloring her exposed skin, from neck to arms, offers him a smile. “What can I get for you tonight?”
“Whiskey.” Namjoon looks behind her to the array of different brands he never bothered to differentiate. “Your best.”
She hums, turning around and grabbing a half-empty bottle of Highland Park 16. Namjoon may not know much about whiskey, but he knows that bottle’s an expensive one. Not that it matters.
The bartender pours him a shot and slides it across the counter. “Anything else?”
Namjoon shakes his head, wrapping his slant fingers around the cold glass and staring at the brown drink. It’s hard to ignore the pounding behind his eyes, but Namjoon doesn’t want to go back to an empty apartment and look at the ceiling until he’s won by exhaustion. At least, not for a few more hours.
He can see the bartender glancing at him from time to time, probably wondering why he’s not drinking. Namjoon can almost see the thoughts going through her head; perhaps she thinks he’s a recovering alcoholic. Would she take his drink away if so? If not, would she be able to sleep at night? Place her head against the pillow and ignore the fact she didn’t stop someone from giving in to their addiction?
Namjoon doesn’t think he could forgive himself, if it were him. But it’s not him, and it’s not her. He’s not an alcoholic; he just fucking hates whiskey.
A young girl sits on the stool next to him, giggling as she types on her phone. She doesn’t look old enough to be there, but maybe it’s just the lights. Namjoon turns back to his drink, asking himself why he insists on ordering a drink he has no interest in.
“Can I get a beer, please?” The young girl’s voice makes its way to him.
“Can I see your ID?” Asks the bartender a second later. “Please.”
Namjoon raises his eyes in time to see the girl pout. “You didn’t ask for anyone’s ID, but fine.” She opens her purse and hands the bartender what she asked for. “See? I’m 20.”
The bartender looks from the document to the girl, raising an eyebrow. “You wanna know how long I’ve been doing this, darling? Too long,” she completes before the girl has a chance to reply. “This is fake. Please, go home.”
She hands back the ID and the girl yanks it out of the bartender’s hand, groaning. “You know I’ll find a bar that won’t give a shit, right?”
“Make your own mistakes,” the woman behind the counter replies. “They won’t be my problem or my lawsuit. But a little word of advice, don’t be stupid. Go home.”
The girl flips her off before turning around and storming out of the bar. Namjoon blinks, headache almost forgotten. “Wow.”
“Kids,” the bartender grimaces, shaking her head. “They’re insufferable. Want to grow up too fast.”
“Humans are never satisfied with where they’re at in life,” Namjoon mutters. “We only want what we can’t have.”
She turns to look at him, locking their gazes for a moment longer than necessary. Then, “I’m Sunmi. What’s your name?”
“Namjoon,” he replies slowly, not sure why they’re introducing themselves so suddenly.
“I like to know the names of customers who I believe will come back,” Sunmi explains because the confusion on his face must’ve been obvious. “And I think it’s only right to offer my name in return.”
Namjoon tilts his head. “I haven’t taken one sip of alcohol and you think I’m gonna come here again?”
“I do.” Sunmi places both of her hands on the counter, stretching her purple colored lips in another smile. “Call it a bartender’s intuition.”
“Of course. You have been doing this for a while after all.”
Sunmi chuckles and the brightness of it takes Namjoon by surprise; she looks too fierce in her tight corset and black eyeliner to have such a laugh, so he can’t help but mirror it.
“I think I’ll have a beer,” he says after both of them have stopped. “The cheapest you sell.”
“Alright,” Sunmi exclaims, clapping her hands. She turns towards one of the refrigerators and takes a bottle out. “Cheap beverages are something I understand highly.”
Namjoon smiles at that, the pain behind his eyes pulsing a bit less. He grabs the cold beer and takes a gulp, grimacing a second later. “Fuck, this is disgusting.”
“For the price of 3,300 won, that’s heaven’s chosen drink, my friend.”
Namjoon can’t disagree with that, so he takes another sip and it goes down easier this time. He knows he shouldn’t be drinking on a weekday, or while he has a headache, and especially not after having such a big fight. It’s impulsive and reckless and a bit idiotic for a 26 year old. He takes a larger gulp this time, eyes on the bottle.
“It gets better the more you drink it,” he comments and Sunmi nods, amused.
She moves away from him to attend to a new customer who sat far on the other side and Namjoon tries not to think about anything – which is hard for a person like him, who harbors so many thoughts the only outlet possible is to write them down.
Someone clears their throat against a microphone. “Good evening, everyone.”
Namjoon turns around on his stool, beer on his hand.
There’s a young man on a tiny stage across the room, a stage Namjoon hadn’t even noticed was there before. He has blueberry hair, big, round eyes and glittery lips, dressed in a see-through, black, long-sleeved shirt and tight jeans.
Namjoon watches, intrigued, as the boy whispers coordinates to the man holding a guitar behind him and then turns back around to face the small audience. He places his tattooed hand on the mic and smiles, waiting for the first few notes to begin playing.
When the melody hits and his voice soon follows, Namjoon thinks the beer is indeed what they offer in heaven. He flies through the song like it’s his, softly, delicately, eyes closed, face at total bliss.
It’s beautiful, both the man and his voice. The kind of beauty, Namjoon thinks, that shouldn’t be confined to random bars in unpopular streets with pretty neon light letters.
Namjoon feels so calm all of a sudden. Not okay, not happy. Just calm. Like the only thing he should be doing right now is watching the way the man’s lips move and hearing the delicate notes that he sings. It makes his muscles relax, the hard line between his eyes disappear. And he knows it’s all momentary, it’s just a chemical effect to what he’s watching, what he’s hearing, but it’s good. It’s what he needs.
When the music ends, everyone in the room claps, and Namjoon puts his beer back on the counter to do the same, maybe a little louder than the others, but oh, well. It was beautiful and the man deserves to know it is appreciated.
The singer bows in a silent thank you and grabs a bottle of water to take a sip.
“Who is he?” Namjoon asks, taking his eyes away from the other man for the first time since he saw him to look at Sunmi. “He’s incredible.”
“That’s Jungkook.” Sunmi looks at the singer with a fond smile. “He sings here a few nights a week for extra cash. Wednesday’s not usually one of them, but he said he had a bad day.”
Just like me, then , Namjoon thinks to himself, diverting his eyes back to the singer.
Jungkook starts another song, something just as slow as the first one. His tongue rolls out the words as if they’re a poem he has decorated, proclaimed time and time again, just to make sure it stuck. Jungkook feels every single lyric, and in every quick intake of breath of his, Namjoon sighs, pleased.
By the third song, a lot of people have lost a bit of interest, going back to their drinks or their friends, but Jungkook doesn’t seem bothered. Namjoon isn’t even sure he cares if people are paying attention or not, like the most important thing is the music itself, and not who’s performing it.
Then, Jungkook looks at him, and Namjoon feels himself stop breathing altogether.
It’s a lingering look, not one you’d expect from a singer who was just travelling their eyes through their spectors. Jungkook’s gaze doesn’t turn away after a moment, and instead, he sings all of the chorus while looking at Namjoon, who feels his cheeks heating up, not understanding why he’s suddenly getting the other man’s attention.
He looks away and Namjoon decides now is a perfect time to finish his beer bottle. He chungs it all down, glancing briefly at Sunmi in a silence request for another.
“ Oh, our lives don’t collide, I’m aware of this , we’ve got differences and impulses, and your obsession with the little things, you like stick and I like aerosol ,” Jungkook sings softly, blinking his eyes towards Namjoon again. “ I don’t give a fuck, I’m not giving up, I still want it all .”
Namjoon licks his lips, mind swirling around the words Jungkook sings next. He accepts the beer from Sunmi and takes only a sip this time; he shouldn’t drink too much or too fast.
The song ends and Namjoon finds himself clapping louder than the first couple of times. That doesn’t go unnoticed by the performer, who bows directly at Namjoon before reaching towards the water bottle to take another gulp before continuing his set.
Jungkook sings a few more songs and Namjoon would be a liar if he said he knows any of them, but he enjoys it all as if he’s familiar with every single word. It fills his heart with something good, to hear the other man sing. Namjoon didn’t even register the moment his head stopped hurting.
“Thank you,” the man mutters against the microphone before stepping down the stage, a hand running through his dark blue locks.
Namjoon thinks this is probably the best time for him to look away. His eyes land on the freshly empty beer bottle and he wonders whether he should ask Sunmi for another one.
“Did you like it?”
The voice is right next to him, and Namjoon can’t help the small smile that appears on his lips. He looks up, now seeing Jungkook’s face from up close, completely astonished that the man manages to be even more beautiful when he’s just a meter away from Namjoon.
“Your performance? Of course, you’re very talented.”
“Thank you.” Jungkook bows his head politely, accepting the shot of vodka Sunmi silently offers him, but not yet drinking it. “I’ve never seen you here before.”
“I’ve never been here before.”
Jungkook smiles, showing off his bunny teeth and Namjoon notices he has a mole under his bottom lip. Cute.
“I’m Jungkook,” he introduces, and Namjoon almost says I know .
Jungkook decides to down his shot now, barely even wincing at the burning taste of it before he lands his eyes back on the man next to him.
“So, Namjoon,” starts the singer, and the way Jungkook’s lips pursue when he says his name makes Namjoon hold onto the empty bottle tighter. “What are you doing in a club you’ve never been to before on a Wednesday night? Had a rough day?”
“I did, yeah,” Namjoon replies in a dry chuckle. “My job’s difficult to deal with sometimes.”
And that would be the understatement of the century.
“And what do you do for a living?”
“I–” Namjoon stops, thinking of how best to word it. He decides for something simple; it’s 2am and this is a stranger who doesn’t need nor want his sappy rich kid with daddy and mummy issues life story. “Well, I work at an office. Reading documents, creating documents. Quite boring. Your job is much cooler.”
Jungkook seems confused for a second and then chuckles, shaking his head. “Oh, this ? This isn’t my job, well, it is, but it doesn’t pay the bills, so consider it half of my job and mostly a hobby.”
“What is your job, then?”
“I work at a flower shop.” Jungkook scrunches his nose when he mutters the words. “My best friend’s flower shop.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” Namjoon replies sincerely, imagining it to be a much less toxic work environment than what he’s used to.
“Is it?” Jungkook sounds doubtful.
“Yes!” Namjoon exclaims, nodding his head. “You get to make art for other people. All I do is read and sign shit and try not to have a migraine before 5 o’clock.”
“Well, I’m sure your job pays much better than mine.”
“Wanna trade?” Namjoon offers. Jungkook laughs harder, then shrugs as if saying maybe I do . “When are you performing again?”
Jungkook stops laughing, but the smile doesn’t leave his lips. “Friday,” he replies in a sultry tone Namjoon did not see coming. “Why?”
“I’ll be here.”
Namjoon has a ball to attend Friday night, one his father has been reminding him of for weeks now, telling him how important it is for them to be there and further cement some connections.
“Yes,” Namjoon whispers easily.
Jungkook pursues his lips again, offering Namjoon one more lingering look. “It’s a date, then.” He turns towards Sunmi. “Thanks for the free drink, noona, see you Friday.”
“No problem, JK,” Sunmi waves, her tone amused. She must’ve been listening to their conversation.
“Well, bye, Namjoon,” says Jungkook, glancing at him for only a second. “See you soon.”
“Bye,” Namjoon replies when Jungkook’s already making his way further inside the establishment, probably to grab his things and leave.
Sunmi drums her fingers on the counter and Namjoon snaps out of whatever trance he fell into while staring at the black curtains in which Jungkook disappeared behind.
“Do you want another drink, Namjoon-ssi?” She asks, eyebrows raised.
“No, I, uh, I should go.” He grabs his wallet. “How much do I owe you?”
Namjoon’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “I thought that was a cheap beer.”
“It is,” Sunmi pops out the words, tilting her head. “The whiskey. You asked for the best.”
“Oh, yeah. Of course.” He takes out a 50,000 bill and hands it to her. “Keep the change.”
“Well, your job does pay well.” Sunmi takes the yellow paper and places it under the counter. “So, see you Friday?”
Namjoon rolls his eyes in amusement, then nods his head yes, pulling his phone out to get a cab.
“I told you you’d come back,” Sunmi mutters with a wink before moving away from him.
He looks down towards his phone smiling, and then he sees two missed calls and five texts from his mother about this afternoon’s events. She’s disappointed in him, she says.
Namjoon’s lips turn downward, wondering if has ever gone a month without hearing those words.
“Are you even listening to me?” Asks Yoongi, lips touching the champagne glass’ rim a second later. “You seem to be miles away.”
“Not miles,” Namjoon replies with a sigh. “Just a little far.”
Yoongi raises an eyebrow, silently questioning what does Namjoon mean by that, but there are too many people around them and even if Namjoon knows Yoongi hates it all as much as he does, he’s not sure his friend will approve of him ditching the ball to go to a club to watch a boy sing.
When it becomes clear Namjoon won’t offer any details, Yoongi changes the subject. “Is your father talking to you?”
“Barely.” Namjoon glances to his left, to where his father is pretending to deeply enjoy a conversation with the mayor’s wife. “But at least he’s talking . Since the texts I got from her a couple nights ago, my mom’s been giving me the silent treatment.”
Yoongi makes a face. “Still can’t believe you told your father to fuck off in front of the other partners.”
“They all thought I was an ungrateful and spoiled brat already, I just helped cement that belief.”
“You’re not, though,” Yoongi says with his serious face on, a deep frown between his eyes. “You’re just at your limit.”
“That’s very kind of you to say, hyung.” Namjoon sips at his own glass. “But I was out of line. No matter how I feel, that was unprofessional and disrespectful.”
“Be that as it may, everything will be fine.” Yoongi places a hand on his shoulder and Namjoon can almost feel his father’s eyes burning on his back. Yoongi notices the look on his face and pulls his hand away. “Sorry.”
Namjoon shakes his head, chuckling bitterly. “He’s just– too mad already. Let’s not also remind him that I like men.”
“Your father is so stupid, though, like what a fucking narrowminded idiot.” Yoongi downs all of the champagne in his glass. “Just because we’re close, it doesn’t mean we’re fucking.”
“Louder, I don’t think they heard you over there,” Namjoon jokes, tilting his head to where his father is still talking to the mayor’s wife.
“I need another drink.” Yoongi looks around, trying to locate a waiter. He raises his hand a bit, showing off the empty glass. “Maybe I should wear glasses, I’m not seeing much of anyone.”
“It’s the alcohol.”
Yoongi snickers, offering him a look. “You offend me. I have a higher alcohol tolerance than Kim Seokjin, and that’s saying a lot .”
“Where is he, speaking of him?”
“He’s indisposed,” Yoongi mutters, voice amused. “At least that’s what his mother said. I’m pretty positive if I call him right now he’ll pick up the phone singing.”
“How does Seokjin always get away with doing stuff like this?” Namjoon shakes his head. “He’s lucky.”
Yoongi hums in agreement, eyes squinting as he looks around. “Oh, finally.” He raises his hand again and a waiter comes towards them, positioning his tray in front of Yoongi so he can take one full glass. He takes two. “Thank you.”
Namjoon sips on his own champagne, now sadly warm, and thinks of what he can do to get out of here. He looks at Yoongi, who’s silently drinking one of his new glasses while not so secretly staring at Park Jimin – who, on the other hand, is very successfully ignoring Yoongi’s presence.
“He can’t be mad at me forever, can he?”
“You’re so dramatic.” Namjoon rolls his eyes. “You had a fight. Just talk to him.”
Yoongi considers. “Maybe tomorrow.” He finishes one of the champagne glasses. “So, are you going to tell me why you feel so restless tonight? I know you enough to know it’s not because of your parents.”
“I told someone I’d be somewhere tonight.”
His best friend scrunches his nose. “A lot of gymnastics you did there to not tell me anything, Kim.” Yoongi looks between Namjoon and the champagne glass a couple times. “I can cover for you, just– try to be here before midnight, Cinderella.”
Namjoon shakes his head, trying to contain the laughter. “You’re so annoying.”
“Shut up and just go.” Yoongi rolls his eyes. “I’ll tell whoever asks that you’re a bit indisposed , but you’ll be back soon.”
“Thank you, hyung.” Namjoon feels the urge to kiss Yoongi’s cheek, but neither his best friend or father would like that, although for totally different reasons.
Namjoon makes his way to the toilets, knowing if he just walks out of the great hall his father will notice immediately. After splashing his face with water, he stares at his reflection in the mirror, wondering if he’s lost his mind.
He’s been thinking a lot about Jungkook since Wednesday. His voice, his smile, the pretty curve of his lips whenever he says fools . And that’s obviously dangerous territory, Namjoon isn’t an idiot. Yet, he can’t help it. He needs to see that man again. He needs to hear him sing again.
So, after a few deep breaths, Namjoon calls Jiwon and asks him to wait for him at the side door.
Even though Jiwon was hired by his father, Namjoon knows he’s loyal to him. The man has been his driver ever since Namjoon moved out of his parents house 5 years ago, and has kept silent about each and every indiscretion Namjoon has committed (which aren’t many, to be fair, but enough to make his father angry if he knew).
So, he knows Jiwon won’t mention it to anyone that they are going back to the club tonight when Namjoon’s supposed to be holding boring conversations with people he’d rather vomit on.
“Wait for me,” he asks once they arrive. “I won’t be too long.”
“Yes, sir.” Jiwon nods, the perfect image of responsibility in the driver’s seat.
Namjoon steps out of the vehicle, belatedly realizing he’s wearing a tuxedo and not a three piece suit tonight, and that’s just too fancy for a place like this.
He has lost his mind, definitely.
As expected, the club is crowded tonight; it’s the end of the week and people want nothing more than to relax. Bursting with life even on the outside, it takes Namjoon a couple minutes to get in, but as soon as he crosses the door, Jungkook’s beautiful soulful vocals reach his ears.
He walks through the small groups, most of them lost in their own conversations, but a lot still paying attention to the boy singing on the small stage. Jungkook has his eyes closed, giving his all, eyebrows drawn together in concentration. He’s wearing a silk white blouse today with a soft pink blazer, his blueberry hair trapped in a ponytail.
Namjoon stares, admiring him. His voice, his looks, his determination. He probably worked at the flower shop today, made arrangements and took care of pretty flowers. Then he went home, perhaps, or straight here; Namjoon doesn’t know. And now he’s singing, pouring his soul into the lyrics like this song is the only thing that matters in the entire world.
When it ends, Jungkook finally blinks his eyes open, receiving a round of applause. He bows, says thank you, and then looks around the crowd, as if searching for someone. His glittery lips part while he does so and Namjoon’s eyes can’t gaze away from them.
“I thought you wouldn’t show,” mutters Jungkook against the microphone and Namjoon’s eyes go wide. He’s looking at him, and consequently, so is everyone else. “I dedicate this next one to you.”
It feels like Namjoon’s heart skipped a bit, even if he knows that’s probably not true. He stands in the middle of the crown, eyes on the boy gracing the stage, as the first few notes of Fools play to the entire club to hear.
“ I am tired of this place, I hope people change ,” Jungkook sings softly. “ I need time to replace what I gave away, and my hopes, they are high, I must keep them small. ”
Jungkook’s lips turn upward in a smile, or is it a smirk? Namjoon isn’t sure. He doesn’t close his eyes now, keeping them on Namjoon’s face for the entire song, which is both flattering and nerve-wracking for him.
“Only fools fall for you, only fools fall.”
The final notes play and once again, everyone applauds. Jungkook bows, taking his eyes away from Namjoon. He grabs the water bottle and takes a gulp before going back to the mic. “One last song?”
Namjoon’s mouth is dry all of a sudden and he feels kind of hot inside his tuxedo. Jungkook doesn’t look at him while he sings his final song, rather closes his eyes again. And when it ends, and he steps off the stage, Namjoon doesn’t think the man will make his way to him, but he does.
“All dressed-up,” Jungkook says, leaning close so Namjoon can hear him, a floral scent making its way to Namjoon. “Almost missed the entire set.”
“I’m sorry,” Namjoon replies, deciding to lean in as well. “I had this thing and couldn’t get out of it. Still can’t. But I told you I’d be here, so here I am.”
“Here you are.” Jungkook’s smiles sweetly. “I hope you liked it.”
“Of course I did. No one’s ever dedicated a song to me before.”
Jungkook chuckles, then bites his lower lip. “Well, there’s a first time for everything.”
Namjoon likes the way Jungkook’s eyes shine a bit, and how he blinks slowly, as if he’s had a bit of alcohol before his stage and now feels like he could fly if he put his mind to it.
“I can’t stay,” he says, hating every word. “There’s someone who will get really mad at me if I’m not back in 20 minutes.”
“My father,” Namjoon feels the need to add. “When is your next performance?”
“Tomorrow.” Jungkook tries not to smile, but the corners of his lips betray him. “I always sing on weekends.”
“Then, I’ll see you tomorrow.” It comes out more like a question than an affirmation. Namjoon clears his throat. “I’ll come by earlier, then after your performance we can… Talk, maybe?”
Jungkook hums again and this time, he lets himself smile. “Sounds like a plan. See you tomorrow, Namjoon.”
“See you tomorrow, Jungkook.”
Namjoon doesn’t move first, even if he’s the one who’s leaving. Jungkook darts his tongue out to wet his chapped lips, then tilts his chin up before winking and turning around. And Namjoon, instead of getting the fuck out of there, keeps watching his back until Jungkook eventually disappears in the crowd.
When he walks out of the club, Namjoon feels a bit like flying himself, even if he has only had half of a warm champagne glass to drink tonight.
At six years old, Namjoon asked his nanny if he could go home with her. She laughed, probably believing it to be a child’s nonsensical request, and told him sure, why not ?
Namjoon remembers more the feeling than the moment itself. Euphoria, is how he can best describe it now. When Mrs. Oh said he could go home with her, he felt euphoric. Then, later that week, when she left and he didn’t, it was the first time he felt betrayal.
His phone rings somewhere to his right, but Namjoon doesn’t make any effort to pick it up. Rather, he stares at the ceiling, wondering if he will ever feel like he belongs, but all he can feel is the cold air around him, and the silk sheets beneath his body. This is his bed, his bedroom. He’s tired.
Namjoon turns his head to look at the clock. 4:04 am. That means he’s been lying in bed for at least 2 hours now, and the incessant ring of his phone is most likely Yoongi to ask if he’s okay, or his father to tell him he’s a disappointment.
You do realize every fucking thing you have I gave to you, correct ? His father whispered to him when he arrived back at the ball. You’re nothing without me. You have a duty to this family, you have responsibilities. You’re 25 years old, Namjoon, start acting like it.
Namjoon exhales heavily, wondering what would have become of him if his nanny had taken him with her.
Maybe he wouldn’t be sleeping in such a cold room and living such a cold life.
The phone finally stops ringing, so Namjoon pulls the covers over his torso, curling in on himself and closing his eyes. He needs to sleep. At least in his dreams, most of the time, he’s warm.
“Good evening,” Sunmi greets when Namjoon approaches the counter. Her hair is trapped in a high ponytail tonight, and she’s dressed in a yellow dress. “You’re early, he’s not here yet.”
Namjoon sits on the same stool he did last Wednesday. “I was bored, thought I’d have a better time talking to you and drinking cheap beer.”
Sunmi laughs. “I’ll get you one.”
While she moves towards the refrigerator, Namjoon taps his fingers on the counter, looking around the mildly empty room. It will be crowded again by the time Jungkook performs, he’s sure. Namjoon wonders if the other man will be able to see him if he chooses to stay seated by the bar.
“Here.” Sunmi uncaps the beer and offers it to him. “Third time this week alone. Are you going to become a regular?”
“Would that make you happy?” Namjoon takes a sip, enjoying how cold the beverage is more than he enjoys its taste.
“That would definitely make my boss happy,” Sunmi replies with a sneaky smile, turning to attend to another customer.
Namjoon watches her work, wondering if this is her only job. He doesn’t know if Sunmi was there yesterday (even if she somehow knows that he was), but like on Wednesday, there’s no one else working behind the bar.
“Doesn’t it get crazy behind here when the club’s full?” He asks, unable to contain his curiosity.
“Ah, it does. I don’t work alone during weekends.” Sunmi’s busy making a very good looking purple drink. “Kibum-oppa’s shift will start in about half an hour.”
Namjoon nods, taking a larger gulp of the beer before it gets warm and disgusting. His mind wanders off, trying to picture himself working behind the counter with Sunmi. He’d probably be awful at it, clumsy as he is. Yet, it could be fun.
The amount of stories he’d hear, people he’d meet. Maybe someone like himself, even. An uptight 20-something dude with a whole lot of emotional baggage he should probably go to therapy for, but finds much easier to just drink. Or someone like Yoongi. A guy who’s figured himself out young and has done everything he can to live to the fullest, even if at the end of the day, duty still calls.
He’d listen, and then he’d write about it. So many poems, so many songs. Instead of making it all about the books he read and the faraway lands he visited within those pages, he’d make it about the people who sat in front of him and asked for a martini, or the cheapest beer.
It’d be a good life, he’s sure of it. Simple, but good. He thinks he would be happy.
“Want another?” Sunmi asks, bringing him back to the present where he’s the storyteller without a story to tell.
Namjoon blinks, looking towards the empty bottle in front of him. “Sure.”
A little while after Sunmi has given Namjoon his third bottle, Jungkook arrives. He waltzes into the room and smiles at Namjoon, all sparkly eyes and outfit, blueberry hair falling in curls.
“You’re so early you got here before me!” He exclaims, dropping himself on the stool next to Namjoon’s. “Trying to make up for yesterday?”
“Something like that.” Namjoon feels a bit like flying already; he’s never been one to handle alcohol well. “What time are you performing tonight?”
“In half an hour or so,” Jungkook mutters, tapping his fingers on the counter. “Do you have any special requests? Maybe I can dedicate another song to you.”
Namjoon’s cheeks grow hotter at the same time a nervous, pathetic laugh escapes through his lips. “Uh, yeah, let me think…”
“Take your time,” Jungkook says, giving him a wink. “I’ll go get ready, and then I’ll come back to you, okay?”
“Okay,” Namjoon replies, confused; he thought Jungkook was already prepared for his stage.
The other man blows Sunmi a kiss before disappearing inside the black curtains and once he’s gone, Namjoon feels a bit sober than he did a moment ago.
When Jungkook reappears, twenty minutes or so later, Namjoon understands what he meant by getting ready.
Jungkook walks towards him, offering a sweet smile, then places his hands on the counter and asks for a vodka shot. He’s applied blue eyeshadow, a color that deeply resembles his hair, and glittery stars all around his eyes. When he pursues his lips to talk to Kibum, Namjoon can see the pink gloss spread across them and the only thought on his mind is how much he would like to taste it.
“Did you think of a song?” Jungkook’s attention is on him now, elbow on the counter, hand supporting his cheek.
“I want you to sing Fools again.”
“Really?” Jungkook’s pink lips stretch in a smirk. “Okay, then. Only for you.”
Is he flirting? Namjoon’s not sure. He’s embarrassingly short in experience for a 25-year-old. Most of the people he’s been involved with were girls he went to high-school with and boys he met in college. Nothing ever serious, nothing really lasting. And then, dating app hookups that are very much to the point. Hushed kisses, quick fucks.
“You look a bit dazed, Namjoon. It’s cute.”
“It’s the alcohol,” Namjoon contradicts, even though he liked being complimented. Jungkook laughs sweetly in response, and he likes that too. “This is my last beer.”
Jungkook drags his eyes towards the bottle and then back to him, sitting up straight. Namjoon thinks he’s going to make a comment about that, maybe doubting that Namjoon’s being honest, but he doesn’t. He reaches forward and holds the bottle by the neck, bringing it to his lips and downing a good amount.
“Can you promise me something?” He asks, placing the bottle next to Namjoon again, who nods immediately. Jungkook leans in just enough so that he can whisper: “Don’t take your eyes off me for even one second.”
“I won’t.” Namjoon doesn’t say what he thinks of next. He doesn’t say that it’s not something he’d have to promise, that he wouldn’t take his eyes off Jungkook anyway, that it’s impossible to do so. He doesn’t say it because he believes it to be obvious. “Of course I won’t.”
Jungkook takes the shot Kibum placed on the counter between the two men and downs that too. Then he throws Namjoon one last look before starting to walk to the stage and Namjoon’s eyes follow him while his treacherous heart beats a little bit faster. The blue haired man opens a couple buttons on his dress-shirt and rolls up the sleeves, allowing Namjoon a better look at his tattoos for the first time. He can’t imagine ever doing something like that, inking his entire arm with drawings and words. His father would probably have an aneurysm, say he’s now more of a disgrace to the family than he already was.
But they look so pretty against Jungkook’s skin, the black contracting perfectly. An urge to run his fingers over each one of them suddenly takes over Namjoon, so he grabs the almost forgotten beer on the counter and drinks the rest of it, eyes open and focused on Jungkook.
“Good evening, everyone,” Jungkook mutters, lips close to the mic. “Hope you’re feeling as good as me tonight.”
The first few notes play and Namjoon’s struck by familiarity. It reminds him of late afternoons in his childhood bedroom, books all over his bed and the almost desperate need to stay above water. He’d listen to this one album religiously on his iPod, trying not to scream the lyrics so his father wouldn’t be mad at him for taking a break from his homework.
Namjoon’s favorite song, Someday , is what Jungkook’s performing now with a smile on his face, eyes closed and eyebrows drawn together. He’s having fun, enjoying every moment. It makes Namjoon mesmerized, to see someone loving something this much. He thinks that could be him, in another life.
Jungkook opens his eyes and focuses them on Namjoon, the smile spreading wider. He looks and he sings, and it makes something warm spread across Namjoon’s limbs. Would Jungkook ever sing a song he wrote, would he lend his beautiful voice to the lyrics Namjoon came up with? Would his eyes linger on Namjoon while he did, just like right now?
“He’s something else, isn’t he?” Namjoon hears Sunmi’s voice from behind him, but just like he promised, he doesn’t take his eyes off Jungkook.
“Yes,” Namjoon mutters. “He is.”
Jungkook’s last song is Fools and he dedicates it to Namjoon again.
“ Only fools fall for you, only fools fall ,” he sings while looking at him, and for the wildest of moments, Namjoon forgets the entire room and it’s like there’s just him, and just Jungkook. Everyone else disappears and they are the only people walking on earth. It’s unnerving and beautiful, and Namjoon quite likes it.
Then it’s over and the crowd somehow reappears, but Namjoon’s eyes remain on the other man, who makes his way directly to him, smiling as large as the night before.
“Did you like it?” He asks with a tint of seriousness in his usually amused tone.
“Of course I did,” Namjoon replies easily; it feels good to be able to be honest.
“I’m glad.” Jungkook’s lips are shining and so are his eyes. He licks over his bottom lip, gaze leaving Namjoon’s to focus on his own hands playing with the hem of his shirt. “Do you want to, uh, go eat somewhere? So we can… Talk.”
“Yeah, yeah I do.” It’s easy to say that, too. “Do you want to leave now?”
Jungkook looks back at him, nodding. “Yes, let me just grab my bag.”
“Okay, I’ll wait for you here.”
He disappears behind the curtains one more time, and while he’s gone, Namjoon tries not to think too much (he has a tendency to do that).
Sunmi comes close to him, a wicked smile on her lips, and Namjoon doesn’t need to know her more than what he does now to understand the meaning of that. He shakes his head, allowing his lips to smile. “How much do I owe you?”
He grabs his wallet and takes out a bill. “Keep the change.”
“Thank you, Namjoon-ssi.” She places the money under the counter and turns her eyes back to him. “Hope you and Jungkookie have fun.”
Jungkookie . That’s a cute nickname. They must be close if she calls him that.
“Me too,” he replies, exhaling heavily.
Sunmi looks at him in a certain way and is about to say something when Jungkook emerges from the backroom, sporting a denim jacket and a plain white t-shirt. He’s taken most of his makeup out, but his lips still shine with pink lipgloss.
“Ready to go?”
Jungkook throws Sunmi a look, a very long one, but doesn’t say anything. He turns his eyes to Namjoon and indicates somewhere behind him. “The exit is that way.”
They go outside in silence, doing their best to move past the excessive amount of bodies who apparently find clubs’ entrances the best place to hangout. Then, the cold air hits and Namjoon braces himself, glad he decided to wear a sweater, hoping Jungkook’s jacket is thick enough to warm him up.
“Do you have a place in mind?” He wonders, turning to look at the slightly shorter man. “I don’t know much around here.”
“You live in a different part of town?” Jungkook runs a hand through his hair absentmindedly.
“No…” Namjoon clears his throat. “I just– don’t go out much.” Which is not true, but saying he only goes to fancy expensive restaurants doesn’t seem like a great conversation starter. “But I’m not a picky eater, take me anywhere you like. Except places where they serve seafood.”
Jungkook raises an eyebrow. “You don’t like seafood?”
“I don’t like seafood,” Namjoon confirms.
“I know a great kimchi place just a couple blocks from here.” Jungkook turns to point to the east and Namjoon’s eyes linger a bit longer on the tattoos covering his knuckles. “It’s humble, but the food is great and they’re open during the late hours.”
“Then, let’s go.” Namjoon offers him a small smile. “You lead the way.”
If someone would’ve told Kim Namjoon five days ago that he would be sitting on a metal chair waiting for kimchi fried rice at 11:45 on a Saturday night listening to the most gorgeous man who’s ever walked on earth talk about how he almost destroyed an entire orquideas arrangement this morning, he would not have believed them.
Jungkook has stars in his eyes while he talks, a can of soju in hand. He decided to tie his hair on a ponytail a few minutes after they arrived, and Namjoon did his best not to follow his every movement, but he’s drunk three beer bottles tonight already; there’s only so much he can do to help himself.
He’s not drunk, though, and he doesn’t want to be. Not with Jungkook, not right now. He wants to remember everything they talk about, the way Jungkook’s voice gets a bit higher when he’s talking about his boss slash best friend and how Jungkook’s a bit clumsy like Namjoon, letting the drink spill from his mouth and go down his chin.
“I’m such a mess,” Jungkook whines, cleaning himself with a couple napkins. His ears are red and so are his cheeks, but Namjoon doesn’t think he has any reason to be embarrassed.
“Have you ever twisted your left ankle three times in less than six months?” Namjoon’s question catches Jungkook by surprise, but he shakes his head no. “Then, you’re cool. I’m a much bigger mess.”
“ No way .” Jungkook puts the wet napkins on the metal table between them. “How the fuck did you manage to do that?”
“When I was 12, my best friend Yoongi dared me to climb a tree in school. I don’t know why I said yes, I knew it wouldn’t end well for me, but… Then, a week later I decided it was enough immobilization and fucked it up even further.”
Namjoon frowns, thinking about how much that hurt. In actuality, he wanted to get away from his father, so he stood up and couldn’t handle the weight of his body in only one feet.
“And then the third time?” Jungkook seems genuinely interested in the story, big round eyes cast on Namjoon.
“Ah, it was five months after, I just stuck my foot inside a hole. Since it was damaged already…”
“Poor thing.” Jungkook pouts, then takes one more sip of soju. “I’ve never broken anything, as incredible as that might sound, and I’ve always been the adventurous type, you know? I like to try new sports. Last week I decided to start ice skating.”
“Really?” Namjoon arches his eyebrows, pictures Jungkook in a rink, flying away in roller skates, blueberry hair and glittery eyes. “That’s amazing.”
Jungkook hums, shrugging. “I’m not good at it yet, but at least I can stand on the ice without falling.”
“It’s impressive, not all of us can say the same.”
That makes Jungkook burst out into the prettiest laugh Namjoon has seen from him yet. It’s so genuine, so soulful, that it makes Namjoon laugh too (although hardly as pretty).
The food arrives a couple minutes later, its smell making Namjoon realize he’s actually hungry. He doesn’t remember the last time he had something to eat, and considering he had three beers earlier, that makes him feel really stupid.
“Can you bring me diet coke, please?” The waiter nods. “Thank you.”
They dig in, not leaving much room for additional conversation now that they are served with so much food. Namjoon’s especially satisfied, not quite sure the last home cooked meal he tasted. His mom was never a cook, and of course they had more than one back at his parents mansion, but ever since Namjoon moved out he didn’t make it a habit out of having people cook for him. Add that to the fact he can’t, for the life of him, cook and that he’s hardly ever at his own apartment, his eating habits are mostly made of frozen meals and takeout food.
“It’s good, isn’t it?” Jungkook chuckles around a mouthful. “I knew you’d like it, there’s not one single Korean who wouldn’t.”
“It tastes like God made it herself.” Namjoon takes a break to gulp a bit of the coke down his throat. “I’m coming here every week.”
Jungkook claps his hands, chewing the food. “Ajumma will be pleased to know she has gained another regular. Maybe she’ll give me a discount.” He puts the soju aside, unscrewing the water cap to take a long sip. “God, I really should’ve had dinner before going to Pluto .”
“I can’t judge you, I don’t even remember if I had lunch today.”
“That’s not okay, Namjoon.” Jungkook has his serious tone on again. “But at least you’re eating well now.”
Ajumma comes by their table a little while later, when basically all the food has disappeared into their bellies. She has a kind smile and small eyes, and she reminds Namjoon of his own grandmother. “I hope the food was alright.”
“Ajumma, you know your food is the best ,” Jungkook exclaims, shooting Namjoon a look. “Tell her what you told me!”
“I– I said I want to come here every week.”
Her smile widens. “Well, if so, you are welcomed. Jungookie rarely brings any friends.”
The comment, innocent as it is, makes Jungkook’s cheeks turn pinker, Namjoon doesn’t fail to notice.
“Thank you for the food and hospitality.” Namjoon stands up to bow to his elder and Jungkook does the same, saying thank you about ten times before Ajumma cuts him off with a laugh, letting him know that’s enough.
After she walks away, Namjoon turns to Jungkook. “I’ll pay the bill, wait here.”
“No, we’ll split.”
Namjoon had a feeling he would say that. “Really, it’s fine. You can pay for the ice cream.”
“We’re getting ice cream?” Jungkook’s eyes go wide and it’s the most adorable thing.
“If you want to.”
“I want to.”
“Then, wait here.”
He goes to the cashier, not so unconsciously attempting to hide his black card from Jungkook. Namjoon couldn’t explain it if he tried to. It’s just… Easier. It’s easier not to be Kim Namjoon, first son of Kim Sungsoo and heir to the Ko conglomerate when he’s with Jungkook.
“There’s an ice cream place, in like...” Jungkook’s staring at his phone when Namjoon stops by his side. “We should get a cab.”
“Not really, but it’s so cold.”
“Fair enough. Order a cab, then.”
Jungkook does and they wait only a few minutes before it arrives. It’s interesting, Namjoon thinks, to be in such close proximity and not be able to touch him. Well. Technically, he can, but that would be breaking some sort of silent wall; he doesn’t know what they’re doing yet.
Are they on a date? Jungkook might think so. Namjoon isn’t bothered by the idea. As long… As long as Jungkook knows it can’t be more than dates and kisses and sex. But he can’t know that because Namjoon hasn’t told him. Tricky, since the situation can be something completely different and Jungkook’s just looking for a friend and if Namjoon says anything it can come off in the wrong way.
“There.” Jungkook points to a shop, all lights on and a couple people in the interior. He reaches inside of his pants and takes out a bill, handing it to the driver before Namjoon can protest. “Thank you, have a good night.”
It’s a nice place; not too cold, not at all loud. Namjoon likes it. He takes one of the farthest tables from the balcony, grabbing the menu at once. Jungkook sits in front of him, nose pink from the coldness outside.
“I just realized I don’t know your surname,” he mutters, eyes on the glass window separating them from the night. “Isn’t that weird?”
“Depends on your point of view, I guess.” Namjoon puts the menu down. “Haven’t you ever shared a meal with someone you didn’t know the surname?”
Jungkook hums. “Maybe, but I’ve definitely never dedicated a song to someone I didn’t know the surname of. Twice , too.”
“It’s Kim.” Namjoon replies, glad that’s a common enough surname that Jungkook won’t make a connection to his father or the company. “What about yours?”
“Jeon Jungkook,” says Namjoon, feeling it on his tongue. “It’s a strong name. I like it.”
“I like it too.” Jungkook smiles as sweetly as always. “So, Kim Namjoon, how old are you?”
Jungkook raises both eyebrows as if that's very surprising information.
“Only 25 with such tense shoulders,” he comments, eyes going over every part of Namjoon he can look at with a table between them. “Why is that?”
The question catches him by surprise; it’s personal, like something a therapist would ask if Namjoon were ever brave enough to book a session, but Jungkook says it like they haven’t just learned each other’s surnames, as if he’s asking what Namjoon's favorite food is.
“I think–” he starts, then clears his throat. Jungkook’s essentially a stranger and he’s not sure how that makes him feel about sharing. It could be good to let out some stuff, to know there wouldn’t be any repercussions since his world and Jungkook’s world exist in different galaxies. But it could be a stupid decision, because there’s a part of his brain that wants to know everything about Jungkook, and letting the other man into his dark, fucked up thoughts would probably ruin any chance of that happening.
“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, Namjoon,” Jungkook says after Namjoon’s silence has gone on for too long. “I’m just– curious. You walked into Pluto a few nights ago for the first time, and then you came back in a tuxedo, and now we’re here, about to eat ice cream, and I have no idea who you are.”
“I have no idea who you are, either.”
Jungkook hums, placing his elbows on the table and his chin on his crossed tattooed knuckles. “There’s beauty in that, right? Being drawn to someone and having no fucking idea who they are outside of the little moments you’ve shared together.”
“You’re drawn to me?” Namjoon can’t help but ask, a hint of smugness lingering on his tongue.
“Duh.” Jungkook rolls his eyes. “Or you think I dedicate songs to just anyone?”
Namjoon feels blood rushing to very particular places on his body and he hopes Jungkook can’t notice the effect those words had on him.
“Jungkook, I– my life is very complicated, so I don’t need more–”
“Namjoon,” Jungkook interrupts him in the gentlest of ways. “I’m just a guy singing on a stage and you’re just a guy sitting by the bar. There’s no need for complications. Okay?”
Namjoon takes a deep breath. “Okay.”
“Now,” Jungkook starts, his bunny smile making an appearance. “Let’s eat some ice cream, I feel like I deserve it. Don’t you?”
“Do I think you deserve it, or do I think I deserve it?”
Jungkook offers a deep sigh, followed by a light chuckle and a shake of his head. “Ah, Kim Namjoon. You think too much.”
“That is a fact.” Namjoon licks his lips, trying to think of something to say that will make this moment less awkward, but it seems impossible; he’s very bad at this sort of thing. “What’s your favorite ice cream?” It seems like an appropriate question, since they are here, but still. It’s a stupid fucking question, it’s like asking someone what’s their favorite color is.
“Vanilla,” Jungkook replies, absentmindedly, eyes on the menu in front of him. “I know, I’m basic, or whatever. But there’s just something about vanilla… Not that I’m a vanilla kind of person, though.” He looks up at Namjoon for a brief moment. “Thought maybe you’d wanna know.”
Namjoon can’t hold in the grin that spreads across his face. He might be a bit inexperienced, but he’s very much aware of what Jungkook meant by that. And he likes it, he likes to know Jungkook wants him, that he’s drawn to him. Even if it’s just right now, for this moment, and never again, it makes him feel good to know someone as beautiful and enchanting as Jungkook finds him, at some level, attractive enough to flirt with.
“I like strawberry ice cream,” Namjoon replies. “I think that’s a bit basic, too.”
“Basic is good, sometimes.” Jungkook closes the menu. “People run after excitement all the time, searching for that one thing that’ll make them feel alive without realizing they’ve been alive all along, and being alive isn’t only about swimming with sharks and bungee jumping.”
“What else is it about, then?”
The younger man crunches his nose, shrugging. “With the possibility of sounding like a character coming off directly from a YA book, I’ll say life’s about the little moments. Like laughing out loud with your friends or singing your heart out on karaoke night.” Jungkook bites down his lower lip for a moment, as if he’s gathering his thoughts. “I think it’s also about the instances in which you can’t breathe because someone took your heart and shattered it all over the floor, the moments you thought the heartache would never pass. Pain is also being alive.”
“Very deep conversations for an ice cream shop at 2am,” Namjoon comments, which makes Jungkook laugh. “I like it,” he adds for good measure.
“All the deepest conversations happen at 2am.” Jungkook tilts his head. “Although I think the ice cream shop part isn’t that common.”
Namjoon smiles at him again; he’s lost count of how many times he’s done it tonight. He hopes Jungkook hasn’t noticed it, or attributes it to the alcohol. “I just realized we’re getting ice cream on a super cold night,” he says. “Makes no sense.”
“Ah, it was your idea,” Jungkook replies, licking his lips as he blinks slowly at Namjoon. “I think it’s just because you wanted to spend more time with me and ice cream was the first thing on your mind.”
Jungkook says it with such confidence that the fact he started the sentence with I think makes no difference at all. Namjoon just stares back, knowing that what Jungkook thinks it’s totally true, but speechless at the fact he acknowledged it at all. People don’t do that, do they? But Jungkook doesn’t seem to fit the mold. He’s bold, unashamed, reckless, free. He didn’t get the same life memo Namjoon was forced to learn.
“Wanna skip the ice cream and take me home?” Jungkook asks, even more boldly, and even though Namjoon remains speechless, he nods his head yes, making Jungkook chuckle. “Am I too straightforward? I hope I’m not freaking you out.”
“You’re not freaking me out,” Namjoon mutters, finding his voice again. “Yeah, I’ll take you home.”
“Let’s go, then.” Jungkook smiles brightly and sensually at the same time, and Namjoon has no idea how he does it. How he pulls him in so easily, how he makes Namjoon want to turn every page of a book he has no summary for. Maybe it’s the cover; it’s too inviting. Maybe it’s the possibilities that come with it; too infinite.
Or maybe, leaving metaphors aside, it’s just him . Whoever that may turn out to be.