Jimin presses his hands tightly together, taking a deep breath, trying his best to calm his racing heart, trying his best to seem better than who he actually is. When he walks in, they're already all there, as if they were waiting for him.
He thinks that they probably were.
"Are you Jimin?" one of them asks. He stands up, a polite smile on his face and kind eyes as he takes him in. He's taller than Jimin. Jimin recognizes him.
"I'm the leader, Namjoon," he says, holding out his hand.
Jimin nods, knowing that. It's one of the first things he was told when he was debriefed quickly about the group.
He smiles back, taking the hand and shaking it. It's bigger than his. Everything about Namjoon seems to be larger than Jimin is. Jimin feels a bit overwhelmed.
"I'm Park Jimin," he greets.
Namjoon squeezes his hand gently and introduces him to the rest of the group.
Eventually, Jimin's heart stops beating so fast.
Jimin scowls at himself in the mirror, straightening his crinkled shirt and shaping it in such a way that it accentuates his waist. He sighs.
Jimin's head snaps up and he sees Namjoon walking in.
"Namjoon-hyung," Jimin says, surprised. He thought Namjoon was working in the studio. Namjoon comes over and pats his back. Jimin tenses up a bit but eventually lets himself lean into the touch
"You look good, Jimin," is what Namjoon says next.
Jimin blinks. "T-thank you," he stutters out, flushing. Namjoon grins at him, dimples popping out and walks right back out, his hand moving across Jimin's back as he does.
Jimin looks back at himself in the mirror.
He thinks Namjoon is just being nice, but he flushes again when he remembers how Namjoon's lips shaped the words.
Namjoon thinks he looks good.
"Can you go give this to Namjoon?" Seokjin asks Jimin, holding out a warm cup of tea. Jimin had just walked in to get a drink of water and he feels a bit offended at being the one asked to do this suddenly, but… but it's Namjoon and he's Jimin.
"I'm about to go practice, hyung," Jimin whines nonetheless, but he's already reaching for the paper cup. It warms Jimin's hands. Seokjin grins at him.
"He's in the room."
Jimin moves slowly as he makes his way to Namjoon. Namjoon, who's propped against the wall, book in hand and headphones on.
"Namjoon-hyung," Jimin says, making his way over to him and sitting beside him. Namjoon takes off his headphones and takes the tea with smiling, but tired eyes.
"Seokjin make this?"
Jimin nods. "He told me to give it to you."
Namjoon laughs. "He's lazy. He was making tea anyway and he can't even walk in here to give it to me."
Jimin laughs with him, sitting for a few more seconds and then bracing himself to sit up.
"Wait," Namjoon says, grabbing his wrist gently. Jimin glances at him, waiting.
"Can you just… sit with me for a few minutes?"
Jimin wants to say he needs to practice his singing more. He wants to say he needs to get a certain move down in their new routine, but he looks at the embarrassed blush covering Namjoon's cheeks and he doesn't.
"Okay. Yeah. Sure."
They don't speak at all, Namjoon going back to reading, taking quiet sips from the cup every now and then. Jimin just stays beside him, listening to how their breathing eventually syncs up and he stays until Namjoon's finished all of his tea and then some.
As Jimin goes to leave, Namjoon whispers, so quietly Jimin almost didn't hear it, "Thanks, Jimin."
Jimin gasps at how his name is said and doesn't respond as he steps out of the room.
His heart is racing, and he isn't sure why.
"You don't like beans, Jimin?" Seokjin asks. Jimin doesn’t want to shake his head. Seokjin made these.
"He doesn't, hyung."
Jimin looks up, gaze meeting Namjoon's, who's smiling at him.
Seokjin gasps. "I'm sorry, Jimin. I really didn't know."
Jimin shakes his head, embarrassed. "It's okay, hyung. I can find something else to eat."
Jimin stands up to make some noodles and he listens to the boys laugh at Seokjin in the other room, hearing Jeongguk exclaim how Seokjin should have known Jimin doesn't like beans, especially since he knows that Taehyung doesn't.
Taehyung walks into the room, offering half of his food, and Jimin shakes his head, smiling.
"I'm okay, Taehyung. It's really not a big deal. I've never told anyone before."
Taehyung nods, eyes wide like he wants to offer his food again, but he leaves nonetheless.
And as the noodles cook, Jimin quietly wonders to himself how Namjoon knew it at all.
"Do you think we'll make it?" Taehyung asks as they all lay together during a late, quiet night. Jimin can hear the fear in his voice laced with genuine curiosity. They had had a bad day today, working themselves too hard and Hoseok had to leave the dance studio early out of frustration with their situation.
He can feel how they're all holding their breath.
"I think so, Taehyung," Seokjin responds, breaking the silence, soothing the tension. "And even if we don't, we will be okay. But I think we'll make it and be more than okay."
Jimin can tell it eases Taehyung's worries. But Jimin can't help but feel the pit in his stomach.
"Do you really believe that, Seokjin-hyung?" he whispers before he can stop himself.
Seokjin sucks in a breath and Jimin squeezes his eyes tightly, curling up in on himself. He feels vulnerable and he hates that, hates feeling vulnerable and pathetic, hates feeling so small. He clears his throat. "Never mind. We can do it," he says, the words sounding fake to even himself.
He thinks they'll leave it at that and Jimin is half-convinced Yoongi is sleeping already, but then Namjoon speaks and Jimin's breath catches, it's always Namjoon, why is it always Namjoon?
"I believe in us. I won't lose you. Any of you. I believe we'll make it."
At first, Jimin thinks that maybe Namjoon is only saying that because he's the leader and he probably felt obligated to, but then it hits him what he said. I won't lose you. Any of you.
And Jimin understands, the pit in his stomach breaking him wide open and Jimin forces back his tears. He doesn't want to lose them either. Because… because if they don't make it, if they can't accomplish their dreams, Jimin doesn't know what would happen to them afterward.
He's had nightmares about it. Nightmares where they promised to see each other, but as time moved forward, they forgot and forgot and continue to forget until it's gotten to the point where each one of them treated the members like old childhood friends they only have vague memories of.
Jimin couldn't stand to see that happen. And he knows Namjoon doesn't either. And he knows the others don't want that either.
They have to make it. Not just for their fans and their goals, but for them.
Jimin goes to bed that night thinking that Namjoon's words are always so pretty and meaningful.
He goes to bed that night thinking, We'll make it.
The thing is: Jimin just thinks Namjoon is really cool. Nerdy and clumsy and he snores too loudly, but when he's in his element, when he's writing and producing and talking and just generally existing, Jimin thinks he's cool.
Jimin knows he likes being complimented. It makes him feel good about himself. He thrives off positive attention and he knows that.
So, when cool Namjoon compliments him on his singing after a recording session, Jimin can't help but preen a bit.
But Jimin didn't expect Namjoon to smirk at him afterwards.
Jimin frowns. "What is it?"
Namjoon laughs, leaning back in his chair. "You really like being praised, huh, Jimin?"
Jimin splutters, shocked. "What the fuck, hyung~" he complains. Namjoon laughs harder.
"It's cute, it's cute, don't worry."
Jimin blushes, crossing his arms, but not able to meet Namjoon's eyes. "I'm not cute."
Namjoon laughs even more. "You can't have it both ways, Jimin. Some days you're out there saying we should pay attention to you because you're cute and sometimes I think you're going to knock me out for even suggesting that you're cute."
Jimin purses his lips. "I am cute," he finally relents after a long internal decision. He likes feeling complimented and cute. He likes it. But that doesn't mean— "I'll still knock you out though," he grins, rushing at Namjoon and settling on his lap to fake at hitting Namjoon's head.
Namjoon's arms wrap around him instantly so Jimin doesn't fall off and when Jimin realizes that he's now just sitting on Namjoon's lap, face basically pressed into his neck, he gets off immediately.
"Sorry, hyung," Jimin says, shame coursing through him. Namjoon looks a bit confused, a small smile on his face.
"It's no probl—"
Jimin has already turned around and left.
When Jimin was thirteen years old, he had two crushes on two twin siblings. A boy and a girl. Brother and sister.
And when his friends had asked him if he had a crush, he only ever said the girl's name, completely ignoring his crush on her brother.
He was scared back then.
And he's scared now, too.
And it's on an early winter morning in December, before anyone else is awake, that Jimin realizes he has a crush on Namjoon.
And just like before, he ignores it.
Namjoon's snores seem to make the realization more stifling.
"Moni?" Jimin asks, turning when he feels Namjoon's hand rest on top his shoulder.
"I wanted to speak to you for a second. Is that cool?"
"You just did," Jimin teases and Namjoon rolls his eyes. Jimin nods though, casually shrugging Namjoon's hands off his shoulder and walking to a more private room. They shut the door.
"Is something wrong?" he asks. Namjoon shakes his head, looking dejected. Jimin just watches as he mutters something he can't understand to himself.
Finally, Namjoon asks, "Are you mad at me? I've noticed you've been a bit weird with me recently and I just don't want any bad blood between us for any reason."
Jimin laughs it off so easily he's actually a bit impressed with himself.
"I'm not mad at you. Sorry if it seems that way. I've just been a bit stressed recently."
Namjoon's shoulders deflate and he laughs softly and self-deprecatingly. "Yeah, that's a bit of an understatement. It's been a busy year and it's just begun."
Jimin nods. "Don't push yourself too hard, Namjooon."
Namjoon grins at him. "Back at you, Jimin. Okay, well, I'm glad you aren't angry at me. That would have been shit."
Jimin shakes his head. "You make me happy, hyung. Not angry."
Namjoon blinks at him and Jimin almost cringes with how much affection he put in those words.
Embarrassed, Namjoon ducks his head, scratching the back of his neck. "I'm glad then," is what he eventually says, voice delicate and fond, and Jimin can't believe he didn't realize sooner, he can't believe he didn't realize earlier, how could he have been so blind to his own feelings?
They leave the room together, arms brushing ever so slightly, Jimin's nerves blazing.
There are some days where Jimin just feels delightfully happy, happy with who he is and happy with what he's doing, happy with his friends and his family. He's happy and he looks forward to the time where these days make up most of his days.
"Namjoon!" he exclaims, giggling loudly. Namjoon has come to his hotel room and decided to reenact the moment today when one of their hair stylists got into an argument with another one of their hair stylists. Not something to be laughed at usually, but when the boys were all forced to sit through it, trying to help every now and then by interjecting, just to have them both glare at all of them, they're allowed to make fun of it a bit in their own private time.
"I told you that you weren't allowed to go through my supplies! This is the fourth time, bitch!" Namjoon acts, voice high and shrill, expression serious, but eyes laughing.
Jimin's so fucking in love with him.
He stops laughing abruptly after he realizes what he just thought. Namjoon notices and sobers up.
Jimin is blinking rapidly, unable to come up with an excuse or lie, so he just stays quiet for a few more seconds.
"Jimin, are you okay?"
Jimin starts laughing again. He's in love with Namjoon. In love. This smart, ridiculous man in front of him has made Jimin fall in love with him, however unknowingly.
Jimin's mind decides this is the funniest thing in the world.
For a brief second, Jimin considers just telling him. He considers confessing just how much Jimin loves Namjoon, but fear settles through him and Jimin realizes he doesn't want to lose him either.
Any part of him.
He sighs, still grinning, watching as Namjoon watches him.
"Thank you, Namjoon."
Jimin's smile widens. "For making me happy."
Namjoon blushes. "You make me happy, too."
Jimin's heart splits right open.
The night is chillier than usual, the effects of a storm coming in. Taehyung and Jimin are out for a walk, Taehyung having had a fight with Seokjin earlier and Jimin recognizing his need to get out for a bit because of it.
"Taehyung?" Jimin's voice is quiet; he didn't mean for it to be so quiet.
He wonders if he should tell him. Taehyung likes to know things about Jimin, just as Jimin likes to know things about Taehyung. And Jimin's information might distract him from the argument with Seokjin.
"I… I have a crush on Namjoon. I'm in love with him actually."
Taehyung makes a startled noise, but upon inspection, Jimin doesn't see the surprise in his face.
"You already knew, didn't you?" Jimin asked, sighing. Taehyung nods.
"Yeah, I knew. I'm just shocked you just told me."
"How did you know?"
Taehyung shrugs. "I just did, I don't know. You care about us all so much and we can see it. So, for me, it's easy to see how you treat Namjoon just a bit differently."
Jimin slumps his shoulders. "Oh," he whispers, the words disappearing into the air. "Do you think Namjoon knows?"
Taehyung shakes his head. "Probably not. But he'll find out one day, Jimin, you know he will."
Jimin purses his lips. He's thought about that as well. It's why he tries so hard to not try so hard around Namjoon. Namjoon is an observer, a leader, a communicator. And Jimin loves it about him, but sometimes he fears Namjoon will see right through him.
"Will you tell him?"
Jimin shakes his head. "No."
"But you want him to know."
Jimin wonders how Taehyung knows him so well.
"It's okay that you want him to know, Jimin."
The night sky is cloudy and Jimin wishes he could see the stars. "Is it really?"
"Of course it is."
Jimin sighs again, pressing his body against Taehyung and letting Taehyung hug him tightly.
"I won't tell him. Not while we're in a group. Maybe not ever."
"That's okay, too," Taehyung says. "Your love is okay, Jimin."
Jimin breaks and Taehyung lets him.
The night embraces him in a hug as he cries for a love he's only now just letting himself accept.
"Ow, fuck," Jimin mutters when he cuts his finger on a slip of paper. He sighs, frustrated with today in so many more ways than one.
Jimin looks up, Namjoon standing right in front of him. Namjoon's holding out a tissue for him.
"Thanks," he says, pressing the tissue against the cut.
"How has your day been? I haven't talked to you in a while."
Jimin grimaces. Namjoon's right. They've both been so busy with their own shit they haven't been able to see each other often. Jimin has barely seen anybody else but Hoseok and Seokjin these past few days.
He shrugs. "I'm okay."
Jimin shrugs again.
"It's important that you're okay," Namjoon adds.
Jimin frowns, hating his blush, and Namjoon is leaning in before he knows it and Jimin feels his lips on his forehead.
"N-Namjoon," Jimin breathes out, flustered.
Namjoon pulls away and smiles softly at him.
Jimin doesn't understand.
"Don't push yourself too hard, remember?"
Jimin nods, pressing the tissue harder into his finger. His forehead feels warm. His finger doesn't even hurt anymore.
When Namjoon walks off, Jimin pulls the tissue away, seeing the small stains of blood on it.
"Shit," he whispers.
"I'm so sleepy," Jeongguk says, yawning. Jimin laughs at him.
"I know, I just want to go home and sleep," Seokjin adds, yawning as well. Jimin laughs at him, too.
Awards season starts soon and they're rehearsing for their performance.
"Where's Yoongi and Namjoon?" Jeongguk asks, blinking sleepily as he looks around.
Jimin grins. "They're sleeping. They stayed up pretty late last night trying to finish a song together."
"Why aren't you the least bit tired, Jimin?" Seokjin complains, pinching his cheeks. Jimin steps back, holding up his hands.
"I don't know, I slept okay, I suppose."
Hoseok and Seokjin sigh simultaneously. Taehyung grins at him.
"Where did you sleep last night, Jimin? You didn't come home."
Jimin glares at him fondly. "Namjoon-hyung's studio. I watched him work for a bit. That's how I knew Yoongi and him stayed up so late."
"You… slept in his studio?" Seokjin asks, frowning. "While him and Yoongi were in there?"
Jimin shakes his head, laughing again. "No, I fell asleep while Namjoon was working, but woke up briefly when I heard Yoongi come in and ask if Namjoon could help him. Namjoon never came back, so I just… figured."
"Oh," Seokjin says.
They don't bring it up again and Jimin doesn't let himself think about how when he woke up, there was a soft blanket covering him. It had smelled like Namjoon.
"Namjoon-hyung thinks you're cute," Taehyung whispers to him conspiratorially one day.
"W-what?" Jimin asks, nearly spilling his water.
Taehyung pinches Jimin's cheeks, frowning. "He's right, you are cute."
"What are you talking about?"
Taehyung smirks. "He just told me."
"What do you mean he just told you?"
"I mean he just told me. Like five minutes ago."
Jimin just stares at him. "What was the context?"
Taehyung shrugs, still smirking. "I don't know. We were just talking about you and he laughs and says, 'Jimin's so cute.' He's right, honestly."
Jimin wishes his heart would shut the fuck up.
Taehyung pinches his cheeks again and Jimin lets him.
"Why are you so surprised? He calls you cute like every damn day. I didn't think you'd take it so seriously."
Jimin glares at him, Taehyung still cooing over his cheeks. "I don't know. It's not like he seriously means it when he does that."
Taehyung lets go of his cheeks. "Seriously?"
Jimin takes a sip of his water. "'Seriously' what?"
"You think Namjoon isn't being serious when he says it all the time?"
Jimin raises his eyebrows. "Yeah? He's just joking, Taehyung."
Taehyung is the one glaring at him now. "You're so dumb sometimes, Jimin."
Taehyung just sighs, patting Jimin's right cheek lightly, almost pityingly.
"Taehyung!" Jimin exclaims. Taehyung giggles and runs off. Jimin chases him for a while, but Taehyung manages to slip away.
He takes a deep breath. "Brat," he mutters.
But Jimin's heart is still talking to him, reminding him of what Taehyung told him.
But Taehyung's wrong. Namjoon is always just joking.
Jimin is leaving vocal lessons when he gets a call from Namjoon.
"Namjoon?" he answers.
Jimin swallows. "Yeah?"
"Could you come meet me?"
Jimin frowns, quickly glancing at the time on his phone. It's nearly midnight.
"Er, sure? Where are you?"
"I'm at the park. You know the one, right around the corner."
"Hyung, I'm coming from vocal lessons and I'm really tired…." he says, already walking in the park's direction.
Jimin can hear the breath that Namjoon sucks in, though. "Oh, I'm sorry. Right. Of course. You don't have—"
"I'll be there in fifteen minutes, Moni."
"Okay, Jimin. Yeah. Cool."
Jimin wants to ask why he sounds so breathless.
He hangs up.
The walk there is pleasant, his nerves tingling in a comfortable way and his body relaxing, soothing him even more.
When he gets to the park, he sees Namjoon on the swing. Jimin's heart skips a beat.
"Hey," he says when he walks to where Namjoon is. Namjoon had watched him approach and Jimin sees the nervousness in his eyes. Jimin frowns, sitting on the swing beside him.
"Jimin," Namjoon greets back.
Jimin sucks in a breath. He glances around at the empty park, seeing the flowers sway in the light breeze of the night.
"Can I… can I ask you something, Jimin?"
Namjoon nods as well but doesn't say anything. He sighs, clenching his fists tightly. Jimin wonders why he's so frustrated.
"How was your walk over?" Namjoon says instead.
"Is that what you wanted to ask?"
Namjoon shakes his head. Jimin bites his lips.
"It was… it was nice. The weather is nice."
Namjoon nods. "Yeah. It is."
They remain quiet for a few more minutes, Namjoon scuffling his feet around on the gravel.
"Is it scary to say out loud?" Jimin asks, breaking the rising tension. Namjoon lets out a breath.
Namjoon sighs again, his frustration obvious.
"You don't have to tell me, hyung. Whatever it is you want to tell me."
Usually, Jimin would think he'd be more nervous and anxious about the situation, but he's sleepy and exhausted and worn-out and he enjoys just existing with Namjoon and he doesn't want to say or ask anything that could ruin that. He'll let Namjoon speak on his own time.
Namjoon shakes his head, however, letting out another frustrated sigh.
"No, I want to ask it. It'll keep driving me insane if I can't."
Jimin just nods. "Okay."
A few more minutes pass and a car passes by on the road, the sound fitting in so nicely with the quiet of the night.
"Okay, I think I'm ready now," Namjoon says. Jimin smiles a bit, tilting his head. His heart is beating beating beating beating beating beating beating beating beating—
"Do you like me, Jimin?"
Jimin's eyes widen and his heart almost stops. He sucks in a breath and then releases it.
"What do you mean?"
Namjoon looks mortified, embarrassed, but determined. He's blushing, Jimin realizes.
"Shit. I mean… if you don't, it's okay, I'm just asking, but do you… do you like me?"
Jimin doesn't know if Namjoon means what Jimin thinks he thinks he means so Jimin just frowns.
"I like you, yes." He says it in a way that will either have Namjoon sighing in relief that their friendship is strong or in a way that Namjoon will have to clarify further.
Namjoon scrunches his nose a bit.
"No, I mean—why the fuck is this so hard—do you have a crush on me? Do you like me… in a romantic way?"
Jimin feels ripped open completely.
And he starts crying.
"Jimin! No, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to, no, fuck, please don't cry, I'm so sorry—" Namjoon exclaims, jumping off the swing and kneeling in front of Jimin, arms clasping around Jimin's and bringing him in closer.
Namjoon is warm and Jimin cries harder.
"You don't have to tell me, Jimin. I'm sorry."
Jimin sniffs against his chest. "And what if I do? What if I do love you, Namjoon?"
"You love me?"
Jimin's heart drops more when he realizes his mistake. Jimin goes to push Namjoon away and Namjoon lets him.
"I didn't say that," Jimin says, wiping at the tears still falling.
Namjoon is sitting on the ground, looking up at him, eyes wide in shock.
Jimin wonders what Namjoon thought he'd get from this. And suddenly he's angry.
"Why? What the fuck is this, Namjoon?"
"Jimin, no, let me explain first before you become more upset."
Jimin goes quiet and Namjoon straightens his back. He takes Jimin's hands in his own.
"If you loved me, Jimin, I'd tell you that I love you back. If you only liked me, Jimin, I'd tell you that I love you back. And… and if I made a mistake in my interpretations, I'd tell you I love you so much, but you don't have to and that's okay and that I just wanted to let you know."
Jimin shakes his head, the words not making sense, none of this makes sense, Namjoon wasn't supposed to love him back, this was just supposed to be his secret, something he'd think about all the time, something he'd deal with until he moved on or didn't, something that was his and his alone, Namjoon wasn't supposed to love him back, what will this mean for them, what will it mean for the group, what will this do, this changes everything and Jimin is terrified terrified terrified, absolutely and utterly terrified, and he feels so selfish for how scared he is and he feels so selfish for how happy he is, and it hits him finally, it hits him that the man he loves loves him back and that he would love him even if Jimin didn't love him back, but what a ridiculous notion, of course Jimin loves him, he's loved him for years, for years and years, Namjoon has held Jimin's heart in his own, even if he wasn't aware, but Namjoon loves him too and Namjoon loves him too and Namjoon's hands are squeezing his own so tightly and Namjoon will get gravel marks on his knees with how he's kneeling but it doesn't matter because Namjoon is here and he loves him back.
"You love me, too?" Jimin whispers finally, voice breaking, and he watches as the man he loves breaks as well, hands gripping tightly onto Jimin's like Jimin is his lifeline, and Namjoon's head falls into his lap and Namjoon just weeps.
"You do love me," Namjoon whispers into his lap. Jimin's hands let go of Namjoon's, falling to stroke his head, and Jimin's heart feels frozen in time, this moment feels absolutely inescapable, almost, and Jimin doesn't know how or where they'll go from here.
"How did you know?" Jimin asks when he understands that Namjoon must have realized and of course he realized, he's Namjoon, he's Namjoon and Jimin is Jimin and Jimin is in love with Namjoon.
Namjoon laughs through his tears. "It's the way you said my name. It's the way you say my name."
Jimin laughs too. Out of all the things, out of all the damn things that could have given him away, it was that, it was always that.
"Namjoon," he laughs. Namjoon pulls back, hand resting against Jimin's cheek.
"Yeah. Like that."
Namjoon kisses him. Jimin's hands grasp at his back, Namjoon's holding his face, and Jimin is having to lean forward a bit because he's still sitting on the stupid swing and Namjoon is still kneeling and Namjoon's lips are everything and more that Jimin knew they'd be and Jimin is kissing the man he loves and the man he loves is kissing him back.
He smiles into the kiss and Jimin tastes Namjoon's laugh.
"Jimin," Namjoon says, tugging on Jimin's lower lip gently.
Jimin pulls away to rest his head in the crook of Namjoon's neck.
"Taehyung told me you thought I was cute."
"I've been telling you that you're cute since you joined the group."
Jimin laughs again, pressing into him more, Namjoon's grip on him tightening.
"Yeah. That's what he said."
Jimin stays in the warmth of Namjoon for just a bit longer and when they stand up to go back to the house, Namjoon's hand is larger than his but holding his own and Jimin feels overwhelmed in all the right ways.
Jimin wants to know everything about everything, but he stays silent and lets the moment exist at all.
His heart is pounding pounding pounding and yet he hasn't felt so serene in years.