The first time Jackson and Jaebum meet it goes a little like this:
Jackson walks into Bambam's apartment to see him getting choked half to death. His first reaction is to point and cackle - possibly not the best move in all honesty. But it catches Bambam's attacker's attention and the smile Jackson receives shortly after makes possibly seeming like a bad friend completely worth it.
See, Jackson considers himself a pretty good guy. But he can't help it if there's a small, super tiny part of him that cares about... Well - aesthetics. Minor shallowness exists in everyone, right? Jackson blames the media. He's totally above this usually. But, this guy.
His smile looks too sharp, too bright, but it takes Jackson's breath away for a second. A millisecond. Jackson's own smile is probably way more breathtaking. But that millisecond exists and Jackson forgets to keep laughing, finger still hovering in midair, limp and embarrassing.
"Hey," the stranger tries, arms loosening from around Bambam's neck. Jackson's going to have to remember to thank Bambam for all the unattractive gasping and croaking that follows because it's loud enough to drown out the horrific little squeak that leaves his throat before he can get back on track.
He clears his throat and avoids the twinkle in the stranger's eyes. His resolve to stay in denial and believe that he didn't just semi-embarrass himself is strong. Plastering a charming smile on his face - the one he knows makes his face light up no matter what anyone else says, he's tried it in the mirror countless times - he tries to make his body fall into a more casual, more relaxed demeanor and says right back, "Hey."
And then something interesting happens.
Bambam grins his shiteating grin, the one he gets whenever he's aiming to matchmake and humiliate - Bambam is the king of two for one deals - and Mr. Beautiful and Unknown jumps.
Not literally jumps but definitely jerks back a little. His eyes even go all wide, in the cutest of ways, and his hand shoots to his left wrist, rubbing at the skin there. Jackson thinks he's got a pretty good hunch about what's up. The Brat confirms.
"Jackson!" Bambam chirps. Literally chirps. "Meet Jaebum hyung. He's just like you."
Jaebum raises a brow, giving Bambam a sidelong glance but Jackson just nods with an, "Ah." To Jaebum he waves his own wrist, where there's a dark tattoo of the word hey in script probably identical to Jaebum's, "It's nice to meet you, Jaebum." To Bambam, he shoots a frown, "Call me hyung too!"
"You're not even Korean," he thinks he hears Bambam mutter but Jackson's attention is already back on Jaebum. It's like Jaebum is the Magneto of eyeballs - Jackson can't keep his eyes away from him. They flick back every few seconds, trying to drink in more of this tall glass of Lord, have mercy.
"Nice to meet you too," Jaebum says, eyes tracking the movements of Jackson's arm. His hasn't stopped stroking the black markings on his own wrist. "So, you too, huh?"
"The most common soulmate phrase in the world," Jackson grins, rocking to and fro on the balls of his feet for a moment before deciding to make his way over to the couch. He plops himself right between Jaebum and Bambam - Bambam squawks as he's jostled, much to Jackson's pleasure. A scuffle starts and he manages to knock Bambam off the couch completely. But hey, he drops a kiss against his knuckles to make it up to him.
"What about me?" Jaebum asks and Jackson blinks at him stupidly for a couple seconds too long. He shoves his hand in Jackson's face as an explanation. The hey tattoo glares up at him. "I got elbowed and shoved around too. Kiss it better."
Jackson feels his ears flush red but grins wide and places his lips against Jaebum's hand anyway. Bambam wretches. Jaebum grins. Jackson's heart skips a beat.
"Bam's an asshole though-" an indignant I'm leaving! is shouted in the background. "And you're... not so much. So far. You probably deserve a better kiss."
Jaebum smirks and Jackson can tell, right off the bat. He was totally wrong about the asshole part. He watches in muted horror as Jaebum leans back, throwing his arms over the back of the couch, legs spreading wider, and tongue poking out to swipe across his bottom lip deliberately. Lewdly. Jackson needs to stop meeting people that are so heart attack inducing.
"You won't hear any objections from me."
The second time they meet, it's the middle of the night:
Jackson is trudging through the entrance of the library, groaning as fresh air hits his face. It should be refreshing but he's spent so long hunched over a library desk, smelling nothing but old books and feet because of the guy next to him that decided to prop his nasty feet up, that being outside just feels unnatural. He whimpers. This must be what it feels like for a cat when they get thrown out in the rain. Just Not Right.
There' s a chuckle from nearby that makes Jackson's head shoot up. He's ready to defend himself until he's blue in the face, mouth open and a whine on the tip of his tongue when he recognizes Jaebum. Jaebum, who is paused a couple of steps behind him on the stairs leading from the library. Jaebum, who has bruises under his eyes and a heavy backpack slung over a shoulder but still manages to look Hot As Hell.
"Long night?" Jaebum asks, stumbling down the couple of steps that separate them. Jackson isn't sure it's safe to be around him when he's this sleep deprived.
"Long week," Jackson complains, the whine getting its time in the spotlight after all. "Long life."
Jaebum snorts a laugh and shifts his back of chips toward him. "Salty snacks help," he says, sagely, "Salty snacks always help."
Jackson's quick to shove his hand into the bag, if for no other reason to give himself something to do as they fall into step. "My hero."
"Oh you know," Jaebum bumps their shoulders together, "I'm just here trying to sweep you off your feet."
Jackson chokes on his fistful of chips. Jaebum has to smack him - hard - between his shoulder blades. They've come to a complete standstill halfway to the dorms and Jackson hates himself.
"Remind me to never make jokes while you're eating again," Jaebum huffs, hand now rubbing slow circles against the center of Jackson's back. Jackson thinks he's gonna start choking again any second now.
Gasping a loud, wheezing, breath, Jackson pokes an accusatory finger into Jaebum's chest. Jaebum blinks back at him, slowly. "I can't believe," Jackson croaks, still panting, "That you almost just killed me."
Laughter bursts pasts Jaebum's lips like he hadn't expected that comment. A little bit of spittle even goes flying. But he's friends with Bambam and Jinyoung so Jackson doesn't know where he gets off being so surprised.
"I guess I owe you," Jaebum grins, flattening his hand against Jackson's back and steering him away from the dorms. "I'll pay you back right now."
"What," Jackson stumbles, putting up a weak fight against being pushed around. "It's two in the morning."
"So, perfect timing then."
"What kind of asshole," Jackson blanches.
Jaebum just grins wider, pulling his arm away and falling back into step with Jackson. Their shoulders brush every few steps and Jackson may or may not sway closer. Bump their bodies together. Jaebum may or may not reciprocate. Jackson can feel the butterflies rousing.
"It's happy hour at the Shake Shack," Jaebum explains, "And we just had salty snacks. You always have to have sweet snacks after salty snacks. It's the only way to do it."
"You're a snacking fiend," Jackson snorts, trying to pay off the fact that he might as well be stepping right onto Jaebum's feet, he's gotten so close.
"Are you complaining? Do you not want to go? I can find a different middle-of-the-night-snack-buddy?" Jaebum raises a brow at him. Their faces are definitely not supposed to be invading each others personal space like this.
"Hey! You're the one that just almost killed me, remember?" Jackson pouts. A grin bubbles up across Jaebum's face almost immediately. "Be nice."
It's later, when they're sitting in a booth across from each other, knees knocking, that Jackson finally brings up something Bambam had said earlier. "You know, you warmed up to me pretty quick. I know I'm super lovable and all... But you don't look the type."
Jackson keeps his gaze fixed down on the milkshake he's trying to suck down with all his might. He can feel Jaebum's eyes on him and tries to subtly turn his body a little so that his good side is facing Jaebum, instead of full-frontal 2 am Jackson.
"Do I look rude or something?" Jaebum finally pipes up.
Jackson scrunches his nose, rolling his eyes at Jaebum. He points his straw at him, some of the milkshake dripping off and onto the previously clean surface of the table. Jaebum makes a face at that. "Bambam told me you're like an old grandpa and don't get along with people right away. So. What's the deal, am I really that great?" He bats his lashes for added affect, smiling extra hard.
Jaebum opens and closes his mouth a couple of times, words failing him. His eyes fall to Jackson's wrist. Things kind of click.
"Oh my god!" Jackson crows. He might have been a little too loud, it sounded like his voice echoed. For his part, Jaebum looks like he totally knows what's coming - dread and embarrassment curling along his features. "You're totally into this soulmate thing!"
Jaebum's ears immediately flare up a bright red. So red that Jackson thinks it might not be healthy. Hell, he thinks his ears might just actually fall off. What a story that would be for their grandchildren.
"Am not!" but Jaebum's refusing to meet Jackson's eyes and Jackson is loving it.
"You totally are, wow."
"Shut up and drink your milkshake," Jaebum pouts, honest to god pouts, kicking his shin under the table and grumbling into his own shake.
The third, fourth, and fifth time Jackson and Jaebum meet all go much like the second:
Incessant flirting. Ridiculous teasing. Jackson constantly wondering what it would be like to get a taste of Im Jaebum. The usual.
It's driving Jackson half crazy honestly. He's ready to just strip in front of Jaebum and wait for him to just shove him up against a wall but he has more restraint than that. He totally does. He's a grown up. An Adult. Dick Thirst Doesn't Exist.
The sixth time Jackson and Jaebum meet, Jackson realizes that Dick Thirst might be an understatement and he has really no restraint whatsoever.
He's shoved up against the door of Jaebum's apartment, their legs slotted together, mouths hot and wet and eager against each other. Jackson really can't believe he's in this position. He's not even sure how he got in this position in the first place.
One second he was making a joke about how Jaebum could shove him up against a wall - like he always does - and the next second, Jaebum is actually doing it.
Jackson must be dreaming.
But then Jaebum's cupping his cock through his sweatpants, squeezing him, and Jackson realizes that this isn't a dream after all. It's his death. Im Jaebum is going to kill him via Dick Thirst.
A moan, loud and filthy, fills the room and it takes a second for Jackson to realize it came from him. "Nice," Jaebum mumbles between the biting kisses he leaves along his jawline, because that's the kind of asshole he is.
Jackson wants to kick him out of his own apartment. But he wants this to continue more.
"Shut up," he groans, slipping his fingers into the short strands of hair at Jaebum's nape and tugging. Hard. He pulls Jaebum's head up until their kissing again, tongues slipping and rolling against each other, finding their sensitive areas. Jackson's toes are curling and they haven't even had skin to skin contact yet.
But then Jaebum is pulling back, too far for Jackson to just easily pull him back. But Jackson's a gentleman and he wouldn't have anyway. Any sign of hesitation should be taken seriously. And he makes as much clear, settling his hands on Jaebum's shoulders.
"Is this not okay?" he asks, voice completely serious, despite the fact that he's breathing heavy. "Are you not ready for that?"
Jaebum blinks, smiling softly before ducking back in for a quick peck, completely different from the heavy kisses just moments before. It's cute, small. Makes Jackson want to giggle.
"No I just--" Jaebum nuzzles into the curve of Jackson's neck, "I don't have any more condoms."
And Jackson hadn't brought any because he wasn't expecting to be mauled.
Jaebum nods, sighs, moves away.
"We can still make out though? Blowjobs?"
And Jaebum is once again, right back in his space. "Good point."
"We should probably talk about this." Jaebum's voice is hoarse. It makes shivers tingle down Jackson's spine. He's still hazy, it's too soon to be reminded of why Jaebum is so hoarse.
"Mm," he flops a hand at him, "Go ahead."
"So, I have a confession." This makes Jackson open his eyes finally. He looks over at Jaebum who's jiggling his leg, finger rubbing against his tattoo again. This is the first time he's really seen him nervous, he thinks. "Maybe you were right."
Jackson turns his body towards Jaebum fully, blinking at him in confusion. "I'm right about a lot of things," he says, because duh. "You're going to have to be a little more specific."
Jaebum lands a punch against his shoulder. Followed by a deep enough sigh that Jackson decides now isn't the time to fake-cry.
"I kinda am into this whole soulmate thing."
Jackson shoots up into a sitting position, staring down at Jaebum who seems to be completely invested in the ceiling pattern. "I knew it," Jackson laughs.
Jaebum frowns. The laugh stops halfway out of his mouth.
"I don't mean it in a bad way," Jackson rushes, laying back down so he can curl into Jaebum's side, wrapping a hand tight around his hip and pillowing his chin on Jaebum's shoulder. "But like," he wiggles around a little helplessly, looking for the right words. "Every other person has hey tattooed on their wrists."
"I know," Jaebum grumbles, pushing the hair off his forehead. He turns to look at Jackson and their noses brush. Jackson can feel the way Jaebum's heart picks up its pace like this. Can see the bob of his throat when he gulps. He thinks back to when they first met, how Jackson felt like he couldn't look away from Jaebum ever. Like, ever again.
"We can try?"
"What," Jaebum deadpans. Jackson panics for a second. He doesn't want Jaebum to think he's not taking him seriously. He strokes a wide path along Jaebum's side, calming. For who, he's not sure. His skin tingles.
"No-- I mean," he flops more toward Jaebum, so half his body is on top of his, "I like you. Like like. Like, I have since we first met and I saw you trying to kill Bambam." Jaebum grins at this and Jackson can feel an answering grin spread across his own face. "I'm pretty sure I'm at least half-obsessed with you."
Jaebum's turning a little red again and Jackson is so, so endeared. He leans forward to drop a peck against his lips. "Glad I wasn't the only one," Jaebum breathes, mouth brushing Jackson's with every word.
"Definitely not," Jackson smiles, backing up a little. "So, I don't know if we're soulmates or whatever, but I'd like to be... Your significant other? I'd like to try to be your soulmate?"
Jaebum is all out grinning now but attempting to hide his face behind a hand. The other one tugs Jackson back down against his chest. "That's so cheesy," Jaebum grumbles, but pulls him into a kiss. A proper one that makes Jackson feel like he should go to the school store and pick up some protection.
"You're the one that basically called me your soulmate."