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how many more nights do i have to stay up?

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Jimin wakes up in a sweat. When he checks his phone, it’s seven in the morning on a Monday and he has fifteen minutes left before his first class.

Fuck. He’d fallen asleep.

The screen of his laptop is already black, having turned off some time during the night. As Jimin quickly becomes conscious of his surroundings, he remembers he’d been proofreading their chem lab report right before falling asleep. He vaguely recalls Jungkook asking him to reread it another time, but due to his exhaustion, he hadn’t been able to. When he looks at the clock and sees the seconds tick by and his chances of getting late become higher, he springs into action and prints the report without a second glance.

He figures it should be fine, since Jungkook has always been a little unsure of himself when it comes to reports like this. He’s never been that confident in his writing, always asking Jimin to proofread his parts several times no matter how much Jimin reassures him that it’s fine. This is like all those times before, and Jimin trusts Jungkook enough to know whatever he’d edited is good to go.

Jimin makes it to class just in time, slipping into his seat beside Jungkook.

“Oh, hey, Jimin.” Jungkook greets, a little surprised. “I thought you wouldn’t make it today.”

“Me? Why? As if I’d ever miss chem,” he jokes.

Jungkook laughs lightly, and Jimin presses his lips together, regretting he said anything. He’s not yet sure how he feels about Jungkook after finding out he’d had the letter with him this whole time. Jimin couldn’t even reason that he hadn’t read it yet because he saw that the envelope had been opened.

Why hadn’t he said anything? Had Jimin embarrassed himself that much? Was he not worth a proper rejection?

It sucks, and he quickly he turns away from Jungkook before the boy can say anything else. He busies himself with his things, and when their teacher enters, he gets up quickly to submit their report.

“Jimin! Hi, what’s this?” Mr. Kim smiles at him.

“It’s our lab report, sir.”

“Oh, is this due today?”

He feels the corners his lips turning upward without meaning to. “No, no, it isn’t due until this Thursday. We just wanted to submit it early.”

“Ah,” Mr. Kim nods, a twinkle in his eye. “You’re passing it for the bonus, aren’t you?”

Jimin laughs but doesn’t deny it.

“Alright, thanks, Jimin. You can go back to your seat.”

When Jimin sits down again, there’s a crazed look in Jungkook’s eye. He tries to ignore him, but Jungkook’s staring at him so intensely that he’s compelled to turn to his side.

“Was that our lab report?” Jungkook asks.

“Yeah, why?”

Jungkook visibly swallows. “Did you, uh, read what I wrote?”

“Yeah,” Jimin lies.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes, Jungkook. It’s fine. Don’t worry.”

“What does that mean?”

“Why are you always so unsure of yourself? I told you, it’s okay. You can stop worrying about it.”

“Oh.” Jungkook says, voice so small that Jimin almost regrets sounding so harsh. “Okay. Sorry.”

Jimin sighs. “Stop apologizing, Jungkook. It’s fine.”

Jungkook smiles, and although Jimin can see it’s forced, he doesn’t say anything else.

 

“Jimin?” Mr. Kim calls him right when he reaches the door.

When Jimin looks around, everyone else has left. Mr. Kim is looking at him expectantly with stapled sheets of paper in his hands.

“Yes, sir,” he says, starting to walk towards the teacher’s desk.

“So I was reading your report earlier while you guys were working on the probset—”

“Oh, did we forget to answer one of the guide questions again? I’m really sorry, sir, we’ll fix it—”

“What? No! Your results and discussion’s just fine, Jimin. Relax.”

“It is?” Jimin frowns, confused. “Okay, what is it, then?”

Mr. Kim smiles mischievously, teeth showing as he chuckles.

“Did you proofread this?”

“Yes, sir. Did I miss a typo?”

“Not a typo, but maybe something more important.”

Mr. Kim passes the report to Jimin, and he sees that it’s on the page with the conclusion and recommendations. Jimin squints, trying to find what’s wrong.

“Maybe you should check the end of the conclusion. There may have been something that you’d left unnoticed.”

Jimin’s eyes zero in on the paragraph right before the start of the references, and he feels his world stop.

 

 

hey jimin

i’m so sorry for being a dick to u

u deserve better than that

i’m probably too late but i jus wanna say that i really really like u

like… i like u so much it’s insane. i like u so much, everything in ur letter finally makes sense

i’m so sorry :(

 

Jimin gasps, and he knows for a fact that that part hadn’t been there before he’d fallen asleep last night.

“Do you see it now?” Mr. Kim laughs a bit, and Jimin is utterly grateful that he’s not mad.

“Oh my God, sir, I’m so sorry, this is so unprofessional! I didn’t even see this before passing it, I had no idea.”

“It’s fine, Jimin. It’s honestly a little funny.”

“Are you gonna deduct points because of this?”

Mr. Kim laughs even harder. “What? No!” His expression suddenly turns serious again as he looks at Jimin. “But if you don’t talk to Jungkook about it, then I might.”

“What?” Jimin almost shrieks.

The bell rings, and he knows that if he doesn’t leave now, he might not make it to his next class on time.

“I’m kidding, Jimin. But seriously, I think you should talk to Jungkook soon. The poor boy must be going crazy thinking you’re ignoring him.”

Jimin wants to say more, wants to defend himself and explain the entire situation, but now isn’t the time open up and make his chem teacher his personal therapist. He nods and walks away, thanking Mr. Kim on his way out.

Lunch break doesn’t seem to come as fast as it should. When Jimin’s last morning class ends, the first thing he does is look for Jungkook in the cafeteria. Just as he’d expected, the tall boy enters through the doors, looking for his friends.

“Jungkook!” he nearly yells.

Jungkook turns to the sound of his voice, surprised. Before he can question him, Jimin’s dragging him out of the cafeteria and onto the field. There aren’t as many people around since the late February air is still a little too cold, and he feels like he can finally breathe.

“Hey, Jimin. What’s up?” Jungkook asks, but Jimin can hear the anxiety in his voice.

He can’t blame him. He’d all but pretended to have read Jungkook’s message, waving it off casually and telling him it’s fine. He’d feel scared too.

“You like me?”

Jungkook’s eyes nearly pop out of their sockets.

“Do you actually like me?” Jimin repeats.

“Yeah,” Jungkook finally forces out.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I did.”

“In our fucking lab report?”

Jungkook looks away. Still quite taken aback, Jimin sighs and goes to sit by a table. Jungkook follows and takes a seat across him without having to think about.

“I know it’s not ideal—”

Not ideal,” Jimin murmurs under his breath.

“I’m sorry!” Jungkook whines, and Jimin finally lets him speak. “I was so scared of my own feelings, and they were starting to drive me crazy. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and I was so scared you’d never talk to me again and thought that if I didn’t say it then, I might never get the guts to tell you.”

Jimin takes a moment to digest what he just said.

“Spur of the moment?”

“It was nearly midnight and I was losing my mind! We were talking while doing the report, but we weren’t talking, and I kept thinking about you and your laugh, and I know you deserve a better confession but I was so scared.”

Jungkook looks like a small kid when he’s vulnerable like this, and Jimin wills himself to calm down.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“That’s my fault. I was scared, and I’m bad at handling my feelings and even worse at expressing them. But it’s still my fault. I’m sorry.”

“Why were you scared? It’s just me, Jungkook.”

“That’s exactly why. You’re Park Jimin, the most charming person I’ve met, the smartest, most responsible person in school. You’re a senior and you’re leaving soon, and I’m just me.”

“Just you?”

“I’m just me. I know you’ve said why, but I’m still not sure why you like me when you deserve so much better. It was even worse when I realized a few days after reading your letter that I like you too. That’s what I’m so afraid of—not being good enough for you.”

“What do you mean you’re not good enough for me?” Jimin doesn’t mean to, but his voice has grown from a whisper to something more like a roar. “You’re one of the most popular guys in school. So many people have fallen for you because of how handsome, sweet, and passionate you are, and rightly so! What makes you think you’re not good enough for me?”

“You’re graduating, Jimin. In a few months’ time, you’ll be off into the world, meeting so many new people and living your best life. What do I have to offer you that sets me apart from everyone else?”

“You’re you.” Jimin breathes out, feeling so many emotions at once. “You’re Jeon Jungkook, and I don’t want anyone else because I like you.” Jimin’s voice becomes softer, and he leans in close, wanting to calm the storm behind Jungkook’s eyes. “Why are you worrying about something that’s still months away from now?”

“I can’t help it,” Jungkook croaks out.

Jimin gets up so fast and goes to sit beside him, hugging him tightly. He feels Jungkook sigh while he wraps his arms around him. They’ve never hugged before, and yet it feels like the most natural thing in the world. They melt into each other, skin cold where they touch, and Jimin slows down his breaths. Jungkook’s breathing syncs up to him a minute later.

“I’m sorry, Jimin. I’m sorry I’m so complicated.”

Jimin’s embrace only tightens. When he lets go, he looks at Jungkook intently, making sure he’s listening. He smiles.

“It’s okay, Jungkook. I get why you’re overthinking. I’m an overthinker too, remember?” Jungkook breathes out in amusement, and Jimin continues, “But you’re getting way, way ahead of yourself. You’re more than enough for me. I’m just upset because you didn’t tell me what you felt after reading my letter. And that you didn’t tell me when you realized you liked me back. You didn’t even try to explain when I saw the letter fall out of your bag.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook repeats. “I tried to run after you but you were already gone.”

Jimin frowns. “Have you thought about what I must’ve felt? I did something so risky by wearing my heart on my sleeve like that, but you just set it all aside and pretended my feelings didn’t exist for nearly a week. Would you have acknowledged it even if I hadn’t seen the letter on the floor last Friday?”

Jungkook inhales sharply. “Maybe not as soon as I had.”

“See?” Jimin purses his lips, choosing his words carefully. “I forgive you, okay? But I hope you know how upset I felt. I just kept thinking that it would’ve been so much better if you’d just rejected me outright instead of not bringing it up completely.”

“I just didn’t wanna make things awkward. I got scared, because what if you regretted it? I thought not bringing it up would be safer, especially since I still didn’t know that I liked you when I read the letter.”

“Okay,” Jimin nods simply. “Okay. I forgive you.”

“You do?”

Jimin smiles. “Yes, you idiot. But can you say it again? Just so I can hear you say it properly?”

Jungkook wrinkles his nose in confusion, and Jimin resists the urge to coo.

“Say what again?”

“That you like me, stupid. I deserve at least that after pouring my heart and soul into that letter.”

Jungkook smiles, and up this close, he really is the most handsome boy Jimin has ever seen. Jimin stops breathing for a moment, letting it sink in how lucky he is.

“I like you.”

“What?”

“I like you.”

“Sorry, I didn’t hear that.”

Jungkook’s smile grows.

“I like you, Park Jimin.”

“I think it could still be a little clearer,” Jimin giggles.

“I like you, Park Jimin, and I’m so lucky to have you as my lab partner, because I don’t know if we would have ever started talking if we hadn’t gotten paired together. You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, and I really, really wanna take you out on a date.”

“Ew!” Jimin whines, drawling out the syllable. “You’re such a cheeseball!”

“But will you go out with me and let me be your cheeseball?”

“Yes. It’s always been yes.”

Jungkook hugs him again, and out on the field in the middle of the freezing winter day, Jimin feels the warmest he’s ever been.