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(Make Sure To) Keep My Distance

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Every time he and Namjoon meet up, Jin has to actively stop himself from falling in love with him a little bit more than he already is.

“Hyung!” Namjoon waves a hand at him excitedly, dimples showing as he smiles, and Jin’s completely swept away. Namjoon’s taller now, lankier, still keeping the shade of pale blond hair Jin advises him to have, now cut and styled properly. He isn’t even wearing glasses like he used to, gray-colored contact lenses covering his irises. He’s completely gorgeous now, and Jin feels his heart breaking a little, because Namjoon’s always there but not there, always present but not aware, and it hurts, a little, even while his heart pounds in happiness because Namjoon’s there.

“Namjoon.” Jin smiles, they hug briefly (Namjoon’s warm and solid, scent of his aftershave and cologne making Jin want to lean on him, just a little), and settle into their seats. “How are you?” He asks, tone utterly fond, and silently glad that he doesn’t have to hide this. He’s never made it a secret on how much he likes Namjoon as a person. “Working hard?”

“Yeah! My single’s going to be released tonight!” Namjoon grins, all boyish smile under that mature face, and Jin laughs, exclaims in delight and pride. “Really?! That’s great Namjoonie! I’m so proud of you!” He leans in, holds Namjoon’s hand, and squeezes it excitedly. And he is, Namjoon’s worked so hard to debut as a rapper, spreads his stage name far and wide in the Underground for years before finally getting his big break. Jin knows that this has been Namjoon’s longtime dream, and it’s finally going to be achieved. “What time? Where? Can I download it? I want to listen to it!”

“Hyung, calm down!” Namjoon says, holding his hands steady, but his eyes are also brimming in happiness and relief. Jin’s not into the kind of music Namjoon makes, they both know that, but Jin has heard many of Namjoon’s compositions, praises and critiques them the best he can despite his minimal knowledge. He is the sole witness to Namjoon’s struggles in the music industry, has endured his breakdowns and creativity slumps, and has lived through his breaking points and frustrations. Jin is a simple person with a management degree, doesn’t know the names of iconic hip-hop artists or upcoming rappers, prefers easy-going ballads to hard-sounding beatboxes, but never fails to listen to any of Namjoon’s songs, tries to understand his raps and the message it brings. “I’m here because of that, actually.” Namjoon says, reaches into his jacket and pulls out a square object. Jin is suddenly speechless.

“Joon-ah…”

Namjoon slides it over to him and Jin looks at the CD, its jacket case, the white background and the simple black RM printed in the middle. Flips to the first page, sees Namjoon in black and white, smiling at a distance, posing for the camera. The other side’s completely black except for a few words and a signature, written in light gray ink.  

For the one who believed in me, it reads, when I didn’t believe in myself.

Thank you, hyung.

Tears gathered in his eyes, fingers tracing the indents the silver pen made in the paper. He’s touched, he’s hurt, he’s broken, and he’s completely elated, all at the same time. It’s liberating, and at the same time, completely heartbreaking. “Thank you, I’ll treasure it.” And he will, because it’s a part of Namjoon’s heart, maybe not the part he hopes for, but still a part nevertheless. And whatever Namjoon chooses to give him he will fiercely guard and protect, until his dying breath. “I’ll listen to it as soon as I get home.”

“Okay, I’ll hold you on to that.” Namjoon beams and Jin couldn’t help but smile back, Namjoon’s energy is infectious, and his excitement is obvious. But his anxiety is also palpable, his fingers tense in Jin’s gentler grasp, shoulders stiff, smile strained and not reaching his eyes. Something’s wrong. Jin is suddenly filled with foreboding.

“Namjoon… what happened?”

Namjoon takes a deep breath, and finally looks at him. “Hyung… I’m planning to propose. Will you help me?”

Just like that, Jin’s entire world crumbles into dust.


The thing is, even if he’s a guy, Jin doesn’t want to be that girl.

The one that stands back and watches as the love of his life enjoys himself with another person, the one who disses the current girlfriend in their mind because she wears high-heels, he wears sneakers, she wears short skirts and he wears t-shirts. He might have known Namjoon the longest, the best, but their relationship doesn’t work like that. Friendship isn’t like that. As his friend Jin only looks after Namjoon’s well-being and happiness, and if Namjoon’s happy and fine, then that’s what matters.

If Jin’s being eaten alive by jealousy because a girl’s spending time with Namjoon, getting his attention and care, well. That’s because he’s human, and something he needs to keep to himself. But those moments are few and in-between, thankfully, always overtaken afterwards by a bout of shame and self-disgust. Jin’s a better person than that, and if a girl likes Namjoon then she must have seen the same things in Namjoon that he does, how kind, how smart, how utterly selfless Kim Namjoon is, how determined, how hard-working, and how dedicated.

At least, Jin desperately hopes so.

And Kang Sunjeon’s… beautiful. Good-looking, in a cold, haughty way, chic and fashionable, definitely Namjoon’s type, and Namjoon’s told him about it several times in the span of their friendship. She’s an amateur model and Namjoon’s always been helplessly in love with her, even when they were all in university and Namjoon’s still a geek in horn-rimmed glasses, collared t-shirts and cut-off jeans. Jin, being two years older and her classmate, is coerced into becoming his wingman, and back then his twenty-one year old self is already at Namjoon’s beck and call, already half-smitten with the brilliance hiding under Namjoon’s bespectacled gaze. He’s always looked at Namjoon differently, always treated more as a same-age friend than an underclassman because Namjoon has a maturity Jin can’t explain. He’s drawn to him, the wave always meeting the shore as long as time allowed it.

Naturally, obviously, the first meeting ends badly. Sunjeon doesn’t give Namjoon the time of the day, breezes past him with nary a glance but smiles sweetly and thanks him whenever Namjoon does something for her. Jin’s heart aches for him, because Namjoon’s being used, he’s being pushed and pulled and Jin couldn’t stop her, no one could but Sunjeon herself, and Jin curses himself for his helplessness. But Namjoon’s so in love he’s practically blind, won’t listen to reason or advice, chases after her doggedly and it’s all Jin can do to stop Namjoon from self-destructing.

Besides, Jin tells himself, she’ll eventually see how lucky she is that Namjoon pays attention to her. Namjoon’s really sweet and caring past all his awkwardness, has a certain charm that makes you listen to him, straightforward and confident once he starts, and it’s breathtaking.

But nothing Namjoon does to woo her heart is clearly working on her, and Jin can’t bear to see Namjoon’s heart break in the end. So he steps in, pulls Namjoon’s glasses away from his face despite his protests. Takes him shopping for new clothes, teaches him how to talk, encourages him to find his self-confidence, helps him to reveal the beauty hidden underneath the layers of clothing and awkwardness. Namjoon still stays as adorably out of his depth as ever, even with better-fitting clothes, better styled hair, and contact lenses, but this time around, something changes.

She finally notices him.

They go out for coffee after class, and Namjoon’s so ecstatic he hugs Jin the moment they meet again, presses against his body so completely against him and it’s a paradox, how Jin feels so close and so far from Namjoon at the same time, having him whole for the shortest moment and finally losing him forever.

“Thank you, hyung,” he whispers in Jin’s ear while holding him tight, and Jin’s breathless, grasps at the back of Namjoon’s new coat while ignoring the burn that’s building at the back of his eyes, the way his throat closes in on him, like a vice. He buries his head in Namjoon’s shoulder, squeezes tight, and tries not to care at the cool trail silently sliding down his cheek. He’s happy.

“… You’re welcome.”

He is.


Jin watches Namjoon from behind, tries to move on, and eventually meets a guy named Min Yoongi.

Yoongi’s immediately different. Smaller, pale and lethargic, Jin meets him while browsing for some songs in the music store to help heal his broken heart. He’s witty, sarcastic, and grumpy, but the fire in his eyes as he defends his stand on rap music draws Jin in, and they talk for hours until it’s time for the music store to close. Despite his mind’s warnings he visits the music store again the next day, finds Yoongi in his usual spot by the cash register, and they talk again, longer and deeper than ever before.

Jin doesn’t mean to get himself more involved than he is right now. While Jin doesn’t mean to use Yoongi he’s a good distraction from his aching chest, and it will do him good to distance himself from Namjoon for a while, as advised by Hoseok (co-worker) and Taehyung (annoying cousin and the younger brother Jin has never had), fellow troublemakers who knows of Jin’s sordid unrequited love. Both of them’s been pushing him to confess to Namjoon for years, and it’s only the fact that he’s older than them that prevents Taehyung from kidnapping him and locking him in a room with Namjoon until he blurts out his feelings. They’re good kids, they have their hearts in the right place, but Jin deals with his heartache like he deals with any kind of new emotion: solitary and quiet, with occasional bouts of self-pity. So he smiles, pats their cheeks fondly, and tells them he’ll take their advice to heart.

So he sinks in Yoongi’s attention and care, kisses him back fervently when Yoongi finally does, curls his hands in Yoongi’s pea coat and lets himself drown in his heat and romance. Yoongi’s a lagoon to Namjoon’s shores, still, silent, rises and falls with the shift of the tides, breaks him down and cradles him until tranquility settles in. Jin surrounds himself with it, shut himself in it, this detached version of inner peace. Yoongi is soft, gentle, pampering him with the attention he desperately craves.

When Namjoon eventually finds out, it’s a shock to him.

“Hyung, you didn’t tell me you were…” he says, in the middle of their fortnight dinner, because Namjoon’s already trying to break into the music industry and Jin has a stable job and needs to plan around his free times. He tries putting some physical distance between them without making it too obvious, something he’s hilariously bad at doing because Namjoon only has to text him and he comes running, like a dog to its master. But this meetings he can’t avoid, and Jin looks up from texting Yoongi where and when they’ll meet later.

“What?”

“That you were gay.” Namjoon looks at him, not disgusted or recoiling, but thoughtful, considering. Jin’s heart drops to his feet as Namjoon continues, “Taehyung told me. You’re seeing a… singer?”

“Rapper.” Jin automatically corrects because Yoongi’s raps are his pride and joy and Jin will not insult him by referring to him differently. “He’s an underground rapper. And I didn’t think it mattered.”

“Ah.” Namjoon looks down, pokes at his squid, and Jin feels that this is it, he’s going to lose Namjoon for good this time and the first time already hurt enough. He feels light, dizzy, and only later realizes he’s actually holding his breath. “He’s… Is he treating you okay?”

“… What?” Jin has to ask, because of all the things he’s expected Namjoon to say, that one isn’t on the list.

“Of course, you’re my favorite hyung,” Jin dies a little, in both a good and bad way, every time Namjoon says that, “and I’m happy that you finally found someone. Because I was planning to set you up on a blind date with one of Sunjeon’s friends, but now I realize that you won’t enjoy yourself.” Namjoon laughs at himself. “I just want to make sure he’s treating you good. He is, right?”

“He is.” More than Jin deserves, actually. “He’s very kind.”

“Then we’re settled. I just… I just want to see you happy with someone, Jin-hyung.” Namjoon swallows his food and grins. “Just like you’ve helped me attain my own happiness. I can never thank you enough for helping me with Sunjeon.” Even after Namjoon’s graduation they’re still together, despite having arguments and fights that shake the walls of Namjoon’s apartment and drives him to arrive on Jin’s doorstep like a puppy taking shelter from a storm.

No, that analogy’s wrong. If anyone’s a dog, following his master’s beck and call, it’s definitely not Namjoon.

Jin thinks he’s going to faint. “No, no, you don’t have to, Namjoon. I’m fine, really. I’m with someone now.” Yoongi. He has to talk to Yoongi now, because his chest’s aching so much he can’t draw another breath. Namjoon’s so kind it’s viciously cruel, and Jin downs the glass of wine he’s drinking, hands shaking, so he doesn’t have to look at Namjoon’s earnest face.

“Cool. You know that I have to meet him now, right? Since we’re both rappers and all.” Namjoon says, smiles widely.

Jin has no option but to say yes.


It’s in their first and last meeting that Yoongi finally realizes the depth of Jin’s true feelings.

Namjoon insists on a double date, and Yoongi doesn’t particularly care either way. They go to a slightly upper-scale restaurant, Sunjeon’s insisting on it, according to Namjoon, and he will be paying for everything despite the fact that he has no stable source of income and they can always go to a different restaurant with cheaper prices and the same menu. Jin’s completely furious. What is she doing, forcing Namjoon to pay such ridiculous amounts of money for something Jin can cook better? But she’s happily oblivious, or rather, deliberately indifferent, Namjoon’s smile straining under the effort of maintaining a gracious façade, and the so-called date is on its one way trip to failure.

Failure is an understatement.

Yoongi’s in the middle of it all.  Yoongi, who sees Jin’s hand as they cover Namjoon’s, who tries to push his wallet in Namjoon’s hands, tries to convince him that it’s no trouble, really, they’ll pay for at least half of the meal. Yoongi, who sees the way Jin looks at Namjoon, always different, always fond, always yearning, who waits until they finish their disaster of a dinner and goes back inside the four walls of Jin’s apartment before tearing into him with a viciousness he completely deserves.

It’s a fight that’s been long coming, and Jin’s been waiting for it, preparing for it. But it doesn’t compare in reality, being faced with Yoongi’s anger, Yoongi’s pain and heartbreak.

“Jin, I’m not going to be some fucking replacement for another guy.” Yoongi says, angry and hurt because he loves Jin, and Jin knows that, tries so hard to return his feelings but finally can’t, in the end. So Jin cries, holds on to Yoongi’s shirt and whispers his first (and still) love into Yoongi’s skin, watches his face change from hurt to literal pain and he’s sorry, that he led Yoongi on, that he thought he can forget Namjoon and learn to love Yoongi the same way. Because he does love Yoongi, cares for him deeply, never wants to hurt him… but that isn’t enough.

Now he finds out it’s impossible, and he regrets it. That he has to learn the hard way, that he has to cut Yoongi’s heart deeply for him to realize it. Yoongi’s been good to him, and Jin can be happy with him for the rest of his life, can content himself with having Yoongi’s love.

But Namjoon’s a constant presence in his life, and Jin’s always drawn to him, the earth rotating around the sun. If something happens to Namjoon (god forbid) there’s nothing Jin won’t exchange if it means having Namjoon safe and whole again.

Including Yoongi.

So he continues to cry, holds on to Yoongi because he’s solid and present and there, saying his apologies again and again because Yoongi deserves better than to love someone like him. He deserves someone brighter, someone with a large sunshine smile and looks at him like he hung the moon and the stars and all the constellations in the sky.

Not someone like him.

And Yoongi, precious strong selfless Yoongi, despite his heart being broken, raises his arms, holds him close, kisses him with all the need and craving of a man dying of thirst in a desert.

And never has Jin felt closer to Yoongi until that moment.


They break up.

Jin’s not about to drag another person into the same situation he’s in right now and both of them are both old enough to understand that. Yoongi becomes distant for a few months and Jin understands, keeps himself equally unreachable so Yoongi can heal his own heart without distractions.

When Yoongi finally does contact him again, they remain close friends. Jin knows that Yoongi isn’t entirely over him, not yet, and it leads into some awkward moments, memories of kisses and touches suddenly blooming in their minds with hot clarity. But Jin respectfully doesn’t push, treasures Yoongi fiercely for his good heart and kind soul, pushes him to find another and eventually Yoongi does find someone else.

Park Jimin is Taehyung’s co-worker and best friend, has that bright, sweet smile and eyes that disappear in moments of complete happiness, and looks at Yoongi like he’s created the universe itself. Jimin even asks for his permission, to love and chase Yoongi until the ends of the earth, and Jin gives him his blessing, because Jimin deserves someone like Yoongi, who’s already starting to stare at him like he stared at Jin, before.

And Jin’s okay. Weeks turn into months, into a year, and Jin’s fine. Jimin and Yoongi finally find their way to each other and Jin couldn’t be more thrilled, doesn’t attempt the same mistake he did with Yoongi and surrounds himself with family, friends, and his career. And he’s stable. He’s happy.

Until Namjoon comes and makes his world collapse again.

“You’re destroying yourself, Jin.” Yoongi tells him that night, in Jin’s apartment where empty bottles of liquor are strewn around the living room floor, Jin’s cheeks wet and shining with his tears. After Namjoon breaks the news Jin doesn’t know what to do, only calls Yoongi, sobbing and half-hysterical, on his phone. Yoongi drops everything to see him, including his date with Jimin, and Jin thinks Jimin is actually an angel, with the way he reacted. He doesn’t stop his boyfriend from meeting a pathetic, desperate ex, even comes along to make sure he’s okay, trying to comfort and soothe a heart Jin realizes can still break. “He’s not worth your tears. Don’t torture yourself like this.” It’s painful for us to see, he doesn’t say, because we love you. Jimin snuffles quietly in Yoongi’s lap, deeply asleep, and Yoongi looks down on him with an adoration Jin has never seen before, not even when he and Yoongi were together.

Jin envies them, suddenly, because they found each other, an anchored ship floating on the sea, while he gets thrown around in the waves. But Jin merely shakes his head and places a kiss on Yoongi’s cheek.

It’s warm, familiar, and completely not comforting.

“Thank you, Yoongi. But that’s for me to decide.”


He helps with the proposal.

What else can he do? Namjoon’s happiness is always more important than his own, and he takes everything into detail, makes sure that Namjoon’s proposal will be the most romantic, most extravagant event in the Korean entertainment industry. Money isn’t an issue, Namjoon’s single is an instant hit, played in stations, radios, shows everywhere and Jin is sick of it, being surrounded by his voice, his sound, everywhere he goes. His popularity skyrockets, and suddenly Namjoon doesn’t have time to see him anymore, only texts and gives him brief calls to check in on the progress of the proposal event, and at this rate, Namjoon only has to go in, kneel down, and open the ringbox in front of Sunjeon.

“Hyung, this is killing you.” Taehyung says in distress, finding Jin sleeping in his home office, hotel pamphlets and event reservations scattered alongside his work reports and presentations. He hasn’t gotten any sleep, juggles his work alongside his preparations for Namjoon, and Jin knows he can do it, he just needs a few more days to finish his work and he can concentrate on the proposal. “Please stop, this isn’t healthy.”

“I’m fine, Taehyung-ah.” Jin tries to smile, and Taehyung bursts into tears, escapes the room, and he feels guilty. Taehyung can’t even look at him, his younger brother in all but full blood, and Jin’s the most despicable person in the world, to make someone like Taehyung cry. He’s gone too far, a voice says in his mind, the small, logical part that he should be listening to, but like always, he ignores it, and continues on working.

Intervention comes in the form of Hoseok and Jimin, who take him out to soak some sunlight through sheer force. Hoseok isn’t smiling, looking at Jin with such a hard, stoic look a shiver runs down his spine. They don’t talk, Jin almost falling asleep over his hot espresso while Jimin gives him the saddest expression that he shouldn’t even know how to make.

Dimly, Jin reminds himself to watch his back for the next few days. Yoongi will not be happy.

“I hate him,” Jimin declares, stares at Jin with compassion as he holds Jin’s hand, so warm, while his own is simply ice. “Hyung, I really hate him.”  

And finally Jin realizes how far he’s fallen, to make sweet, thoughtful Jimin utter such vile and hateful words. How can Jin say that this isn’t Namjoon’s fault, that he’s doing this completely out of his own free will? They accuse Namjoon for his stupidity, for his utter obliviousness, but Jin knows there’s only one person to blame.

“I know, Jiminie.” He says softly, “and I know you hate hyung as well. But please don’t do anything. Both of you.” He casts his warning glance to Hoseok, who by now is close to shaking him to his senses, or go to Namjoon to tell him to get a clue. “I accepted the job. Don’t interfere.” By now, Jin is confident that they will listen, let it slide off as they always do. By now, Jin has accepted it. Namjoon will never look at him that way. Looking for another isn’t the solution, and even then, Jin will never be able to give himself completely to anyone else like he’s done with Namjoon. He’s okay.

He has to be.

But Hoseok shakes his head, mouth a thin, firm line as he throws age and seniority out the window.

“I won’t make any promises, hyung. But I won’t see you suffer like this. Not anymore.”


Namjoon’s words when they finally meet face-to-face again stop him cold.

“Hyung, I know that the proposal plans are almost done so… I’m sorry, can I meet you another time? I have a… recording I have to do, yeah. So don’t contact me for a while, okay?”

Jin knows he’s lying. Can read Namjoon like a fucking diary, knows every dot and scribble and erasure on each page, and fear grips his heart. Why is Namjoon avoiding him? He’s never done this before.

“Is everything all right?” He blurts out before he can think, grabs at anything, everything he could, to keep Namjoon’s attention on him. It feels like… “If there’s something you don’t like I can change it.” He adds, almost desperate, tries to grasp the wisps of smoke that’s starting to escape through his fingers. “Namjoon…”

“No, no, it’s not you, hyung…” Namjoon doesn’t look at him, holds his elbow with his hand, a habit when he’s uncomfortable or unsure, leaning away. “It’s not… you.” Namjoon meets his gaze then, looking apologetic, worried, guilty, and it just clicks in Jin’s mind.

He knows. Namjoon knows.

How? When? Where? Who told him? Jin wants to scream, to run away, because this isn’t happening. The secret Jin has hidden so carefully for so many years, the one that he kept deep in his heart, is exposed. Namjoon can’t know. Why does he know?

“Oh.” Where is this strangled, high-pitched voice coming from? “Oh. Okay.” A thick swallow. A hitch of breath. “I won’t, then.” A shuddering exhale. “W-When—?” His voice cracks pathetically, and Jin clears his throat immediately, vision starting to blur, mist over. “When will you be free again?”

“… Thanks.” Namjoon pauses, the silence between them thick, impenetrable. Jin can almost see the thread between them fraying, breaking, strand by strand and no, no, he can’t lose Namjoon completely, please—! “I… I don’t know. I’ll… I’ll get back to you on that, Jin-hyung.”

His nightmare’s coming true. He’s dreaming, and he’s going to wake up soon, he has to, he has to. “Okay.” Jin nods, can barely stand, speak, as Namjoon bows (what, what, Namjoon never bows to him! Why?!) and leaves, and Jin stays, legs gripped by the roots under the ground.

“Young man? Are you all right?” An old woman taps him gently on the arm and Jin looks at her, suddenly, inexplicably lost. The moment she sees his face, she immediately becomes sympathetic.

“Oh, my dear, who went out and broke your heart for you?”

Jin crumples.


It’s the night of the proposal and Jin’s a nervous wreck.

He double-checks, triple-checks everything, makes sure that the menu, the food arrive on time, and the ring (delivered via Namjoon’s manager) in its velvet box, to be delivered by the waiter at the right moment when Namjoon calls for him. His hands tremble with anxiety and this is the most heart attack-inducing moment in his life, including his first office presentation with his bosses. The restaurant’s been briefed, the chefs are notified, and as the clock ticks towards the appointed time Jin’s jumping so badly he has to be forcibly sat down, a cup of hot chocolate shoved into his hands. Jin is looking for something much stronger (and maybe illegal) to soothe his nerves but he can’t let himself be inebriated, has to ensure the engagement’s success.

Namjoon. He has to think about Namjoon.

Taehyung arrives for moral support (for his sake more than Namjoon’s, he’s sure) and talks him down every time he starts to hyperventilate, which is around every ten minutes or so. He’s going to be a firsthand witness to his trainwreck of heartbreak, unstoppable, morbid, fascinating, and finally he takes pity on him, letting him down shot after shot of vodka to make sure he doesn’t lose his mind.

An hour before Sunjeon’s supposed to come Namjoon arrives, decked out in a coat and tie and it’s all Jin can do to not cry at the sight. God, Namjoon looks so handsome it’s physically painful for him to look into his face, and when he finally does, it’s a shock.

“Namjoon, your face! What happened?!” Make-up can’t hide the telltale evidence of a bruise on his cheek, and Namjoon blushes.

“It’s… It’s nothing, I got into an accident.” He mumbles, physically taking a step back and Jin stops, hands hovering, about to touch. Hurt, Jin lets his hands fall down, exasperated and irritated and adoring, because only Namjoon can hurt himself before he proposes to the love of his life. “Don’t worry about it, Jin-hyung.” He looks dazed, distant, and Jin doesn’t blame him. Any man will be scared shitless of proposing marriage.

Still, Jin soldiers on. “Okay, so when she comes in…” He tells Namjoon the plan, from start to finish, and it’s relatively easy to follow. Namjoon nods along but still looks like he’s on another plane, only coming back when Taehyung slaps his shoulder, hard.

“Good luck, hyung. I hope she says yes.” He says, all teeth and gums and Namjoon winces, nods his thanks and stumbles to the designated private table. Jin’s too preoccupied to scold his younger cousin, because fuck, it’s only 30 minutes before the event starts and he needs to check on dessert.

Sunjeon arrives almost an hour late, which puts them drastically behind schedule, and Jin twists the tenth napkin in his hands to shreds. Still, the dinner’s going well enough, with the courses coming out smoothly from the kitchen and any minute now they’re going to finish eating and Namjoon pops the question. Taehyung’s a steady presence on his back, rubbing between his shoulder blades soothingly but Jin doesn’t notice, eyes trained on the sight before him. Dishes get cleared, the atmosphere’s good, the waiter’s called over for wine—

Then he sees Namjoon get down on one knee in front of her, and it’s more than he can bear.

The champagne glass shatters as it hits the ground, the sound catching the attention of the nearby patrons. Jin can’t imagine the look on his face at that moment, but doesn’t try to find out. Just turns around and runs, away from the sight, away from everyone else, sight blurred and washed away by the wet heat streaming down his face. He thought he could bear it, seeing Namjoon getting married to someone else, but he can’t, can’t lie to himself, can’t help but admit that it fucking hurts, a crowbar digging itself into his chest and levering his heart out. Maybe he’s in denial all this time, that Namjoon won’t really propose, that Namjoon eventually sees how much she doesn’t care for him while he’s there, always beside him, always willing to pick up the pieces of his fragmented relationship. Jin loves him, is so in love with him he’s willing to give him up, but only to someone who deserves him.

Kang Sunjeon doesn’t deserve him.       

Like a fucking cliché the sky flashes with lightning and rain starts to come down, hard, unforgiving. Jin barely sees where he’s going, can only hear the gasps of his breath, the ache in his chest, the cold rain seeping into his clothes, into his skin. He can’t believe he’s so pathetic, running away again, but that’s the only thing he knows how to do. He’s spineless, a complete coward, couldn’t say what he feels and lets himself be destroyed by it, makes him hurt the people he loves. He’s outright sobbing, the noise blanketed by the soothing rage of the rain, and Jin thinks he can stay here forever, surrounded by the cold and shattering pain echoed by the raindrops splattering on the ground.

Then his hand is grabbed, body forcefully pulled and turned around, and Jin’s clenched fist slackens when he sees who it is.  

“Nam…joon…?”

“Jin, I’m sorry,” is the first words that come out of Namjoon’s mouth, breathing hard, droplets clinging to his bleached hair, harried and guilty. But he looks determined, gripping Jin’s wrist firmly, both of them standing at the edge of a precipice. Jin is only grateful that the rain hides his face; can’t bear it if Namjoon finds out he’s actually crying. “I’m so fucking sorry.”

The thunder rumbles above them and Jin stares, uncomprehending, taking in Namjoon’s expression under the light of the fluorescent street lights. Why is Namjoon here? Isn’t he supposed to be inside, warm, celebrating his engagement? Why—?

“I should have noticed sooner.” Namjoon starts in a rush, voice competing with the downpour, but he doesn’t stop, stands so close and even with their meager height difference, Jin still feels impossibly small. “I should’ve noticed it sooner. I’m stupid Jin, you know I don’t get this things and I’ve made you suffer all these years.”

“I don’t—”

“You’re in love with me.” Jin’s breath stutters, couldn’t deny it even if he wanted to. “You’ve been in love with me for years. You’ve taken care of me so well and I’ve taken that for granted and I’m sorry for hurting you.” Namjoon looks so serious, so regretful and disgusted with himself the words to comfort him reflexively come on Jin’s tongue.

“… My feelings for you don’t matter anymore.” He’s done pretending. Jin lays down all his cards, has nothing to hide anymore. He can’t hide the shakiness of his voice, the thickness of his words. “It’s a burden to you and something I need to fix in myself. It’s not your fault.”

“Yes, it does!” The fierceness of Namjoon’s tone surprises him and Namjoon holds his arms, keeps him still, and Jin can’t move away. “Your feelings do matter to me! It’s my fault for not noticing, for always assuming that you’re okay! I didn’t… I didn’t treasure you Jin, like you should be, because you’ve always been there for me! Jin, you’re important to me, you, I—”

“It doesn’t matter anymore, Namjoon!” Jin yells back, and it doesn’t. Not with Sunjeon’s presence. “You’ve never seen me the way I saw you!” He strikes Namjoon’s chest feebly. “I love you, damn it! I love you and that’s never going to change but you’re never going to love me back! Not… Not the way I love you.” The tears start again but this time they never stop. So ugly, so unrefined. “I can’t be your friend anymore.” He thought he can be satisfied with being Namjoon’s friend, being beside him but never being with him, and now he realizes it’s just a fantasy. An ideal he’ll never be able to commit to. “I can’t… I can’t do this anymore.”

It's the only way. To have Namjoon’s everything or to have nothing. There’s no halfway.

“Love me or damn me Namjoon, but for god’s sake… don’t do both.”

Namjoon doesn’t answer, both of them breathing hard, the rain making up for the silence that now envelops them. Jin stares at him, terrified, upset, gasping for air, finally knowing this is the moment Namjoon pulls back and walks away, being given an ultimatum like that. But Jin can’t take it anymore. He can’t be Namjoon’s friend, can’t watch him walk that aisle, can’t bear to see him in Sunjeon’s embrace.  

Namjoon leans forward and kisses him.

It’s warmth against cold, a single point of contact between their bodies, when everything seems to freeze and stop. For a moment, the stars and the universe revolve around them.

Then Jin surges, a wave going back to the shore, clutches at Namjoon’s shoulders, rake his nails down his clothed back. They breathed each other’s scent, felt the heat of their mouths, and Jin’s dreamed of it so badly, to have Namjoon like this, to consumed and be utterly consumed by him, tasting Namjoon’s tongue with the cool, flowing rainwater. Like magnets they’re drawn to each other, moving forward when the other pulls back, glancing into each other’s eyes, darting down to the other’s lips. Again and again and again, long, drawn out, lingering, chest to chest and hip to hip and Namjoon’s fingers are in his hair, his neck, his arms, moving, exploring, and never stopping.

The rain falls around them, on them, and Jin doesn’t notice.

He is overwhelmed, shaking, twists his hand around Namjoon’s shirt collar, anchoring himself as he finally finally pulls away, Namjoon’s face centimeters from his own, trying to catch the air Namjoon’s stolen from him again and again. What did this mean, for them? Why did—How would they…?

“I… I just realized I’ve already found who I’ve been searching for all my life.” Namjoon whispers against his cheek, and he’s trembling, Jin realizes. He… He isn’t the only one affected. “They’re in front of me all along.”

“Namjoon…” Jin’s heart is quivering. This isn’t happening, it can’t be happening, because this only happens in movies, romance flicks that he and Taehyung watch and cry over. “Are you…?”

For many years, Namjoon's the center of his world. Lets himself be ruled by it, be ruined by it, and nothing else matters to him than Namjoon. Is he doing what Jin thinks he's doing? Is he...?

“I’ve broken up with Sunjeon. It took Hoseok punching me in the face to see it, but she’s not the one for me. Not anymore.” Namjoon takes Jin’s hand, ice cold, presses it to his bruised cheek, now completely visible to him. Namjoon is bare, hiding nothing, and Jin’s heart falls. “Please… Please give me a chance. I don’t care if you pull away. I’ll chase you this time, I’ll do anything for you to notice me again. I’ll…” He presses their foreheads together, shudders in the cold, in fear, in determination.

“I’ll make myself worthy of you.”

Just like that, Jin breaks, clutches Namjoon to him, feels Namjoon hold him like he’s terrified of Jin disappearing in front of his eyes. He didn’t care if this is a lie, that he needs to go back to reality eventually, because Namjoon’s here. He’s solid and warm and real, and the pain, the tears, the exhaustion of the past didn’t mean anything anymore, not now.

Not when Namjoon finally sees him.

I love you. I love you.

The rain softens, and eventually stops.

I’ve always loved you.