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" Alright everyone, feel free to move down to the front for the countdown. "

 

As the stage attendant makes her announcement to the crowd of milling idols, Namjoon looks up right when Jimin and Taehyung appear, beaming and holding hands. They both shine with sweat—they all do under the combination of bright overhead lights and lingering adrenaline from performing earlier that night.

 

"Come on!" With Jimin and Taehyng leading the way, the rest of the members are brought closer to the front of the crowd, standing close enough to be within view for the cameras but still behind a row of other idols and the MCs for the event.

 

The crowd buzzes with energy, excitement practically saturating the stage like a fog as the time for the countdown grows closer. Namjoon is grateful for it—he'd started to feel the exhaustion of the evening (and really, the exhaustion of all of 2018) finally crash down on him earlier, sometime between changing out his comfortable well-worn sweats into his performing outfit and clambering up on the very stage where he stands now.

 

But now —now he feels light and airy and awake . Especially when he feels a warm familiar body brush against his, ring-laden fingers finding and grazing his. A small smile spreads across his face.

 

" 10! "

 

The members all pull in, huddling into a circle. Namjoon keeps his arm especially tight around Jimin to his right.

 

" 9! "

 

The huddle starts to bounce, energy from each other and the excitement in the room hyping them up.

 

" 8! 7! "

 

2018 wasn't all bad, Namjoon decides. Stressful and mind-meltingly busy, sure, but with plenty of silver lining to make a gaudy cape. As the circle continues bouncing, a cheer rising up from the center of the seven of them, Namjoon feels Jimin's left hand tighten on the bit of his jacket he grips.

 

" 6! 5! "

 

2019 will be better, Namjoon also decides, raising his head just enough to glance towards Jimin. He beams, cheeks flushed, forehead shiny, eye makeup smeared. He’s beautiful.

 

4!

 

“Hey, I, uh—” Namjoon says, leaning in to speak directly into Jimin’s ear. His own cheeks burn. He doesn’t know why—they’ve both said I love you enough times for it to no longer be this Big Scary Thing. And yet...

 

3! 2!

 

“Jimin—”

 

Jimin places his fingertips over Namjoon’s mouth for the briefest of moments, quick enough to startle and shut Namjoon up. Their own unspoken language, one communicated through touch alone— I know .

 

1! Happy New Year!

 

The confetti cannons blast as the crowd erupts in cheers. At the front of the crowd, one of the MCs bounces up and down, waving his hand. In their group huddle, the seven of them continue bouncing, laughing, soaking in the happiness and excitement.

 

Gradually, the group detaches from one another—Namjoon spots Taehyung and Jungkook darting off to wrap a few of their same-age friends in a hug, and Hoseok launches into a series of anecdotes and jokes to the bemusement of Yoongi and delight of Seokjin. Leaving only—

 

“Hey, you,” says a low and sultry voice in his ear. An arm wraps around his side and the comforting scent of Jimin’s cologne—light like a perfume, faded from the time since last applied—floods Namjoon’s senses. “Happy 2019, stud.” Namjoon turns his head to see Jimin smiling, a smile that’s joking and light and reserved just for him.

 

They’re playing a dangerous game, being so touchy out in the open like this, where fans with telescopic lenses could capture a lingering moment to be downloaded, uploaded, and shared for the rest of eternity.

 

2019 will be better . Namjoon’s own words come rushing back to him.

 

Namjoon turns to fully face Jimin, taking both of his hands. “Jimin,” he starts. “This year...This year, I want things to be better. Last year was great, so great —” The repurposed wedding ring he’d received from Jimin seems to warm up where it sits snug on his fourth finger. “—and I want this year to be even better. So, I—”

 

Two girls pass by them, screeching as they run to hug friends from a different group, momentarily interrupting Namjoon. He blinks, trying to find his place back in his speech. His hands have started sweating so profusely that Jimin’s slip in his. “So, um, yeah, back to what I was saying. This year, I want to try making more time for us?” He clears his throat before continuing. “ Just us. As...Well, as us. To relax and...you know, just be us—together, I guess. Whenever we can, you know! During tour, er , or after tour when we can rest and stuff—”

 

Jimin squeezes Namjoon’s hands, causing Namjoon to halt his nervous rambling. His face feels so flushed he’s sure he might catch fire and the realization he hasn’t had a drink in almost three hours becomes stark as he swallows with a dry throat. Jimin’s eyes are large and round, rimmed with eyeshadow and shiny from the stage lights. Then, he rises up on his toes, using the opportunity to lean in and land a quick peck on Namjoon’s cheek.

 

“You’re too fucking good to me,” he whispers into Namjoon’s ear.

 

Namjoon knows they should probably step away from each other now, less any of the hundreds of idols or fans or stage hands give them looks for the extended hug.

 

2019 will be for us.

 

Namjoon wraps his arms around Jimin, lifts him, and spins them both in a short circle. When Jimin yelps, bursting into laughter as he flails in Namjoon’s arms, Namjoon beams, allowing himself—for once—the chance to revel.

 

⋇⋆✦⋆⋇

 

Namjoon feels sticky. He’s since changed out of the suit he’d performed and spent about eight consecutive hours in—but god damn, he still feels a soul-deep sense of discomfort and just... stickiness . He knows once they arrive home, it should go away with a thorough shower, so for the time being, he accepts it. He adjusts his glasses with a heavy sigh, leaning back. The soft leather of the couch cradles him, lulling him closer and closer to nodding off right there in the green room.

 

The Golden Disk Awards are an affair and a half, typical beginning of the year award show fodder. Not nearly as resounding and hectic as pre-New Year’s shows, but still chaotic in their own right. This year’s awards had been good—plenty of wins, some fun antics while watching the other performers, and a stellar (if tiring) performance of their own, complete with a massive stone lion.

 

All and all, pretty good. Except—

 

Namjoon pries his eyes open, looking over to the opposite side of the room where Jimin is just leaving the bathroom. He, too, has changed out of his performance outfit, opting for a pale blue long sleeve shirt and sweatpants. His platinum blonde hair is mostly hidden beneath a beanie, only the slightest hint of his bangs visible where they peek out from the front. As he moves about the room, collecting his things and thanking the lingering staff, Namjoon notices the way his whole body is etched with exhaustion, from the slow shuffling way he walks to the way his head occasionally tips forward even while he’s standing.

 

The day had been good, except—in the chaos of so many outfit changes and rushing from place to place, Namjoon and Jimn hadn’t managed to stop and take some time for themselves. For just them. Granted, it was to be expected, given the hecticness of an award show, but even still, as Namjoon watches their makeup artists pack up their work stations, his words from New Years come back to him.

 

This year, I want to try making more time for us.  

 

And look how successful that’s been so far.

 

Namjoon swallows, sitting up a little in his seat. An idea, one that had formed hours ago, pushes to the front of his mind.

 

Now finished collecting his things, Jimin makes his way over to Namjoon.

 

“Hi,” he says. He smiles, eyes tired but his grin still bright as ever. God, he’s beautiful.

 

“Hi.”

 

Jimin sticks out his arm, offering a hand. “Ready to head out?”

 

Namjoon nods, scooting to the edge of the couch so he can take Jimin’s hand and let himself be pulled to stand. He only allows himself a beat to continue holding Jimin’s hand before releasing it with a squeeze. Despite the other members knowing about them, the majority of their staff doesn’t—not yet, anyways. Can never be too careful, he tells himself mournfully.

 

He and Jimin exit the green room, calling back one last thank you to their staff as they enter the hallway. Now alone, Jimin, ever one to disregard caution, reaches to interlock his and Namjoon’s fingers, swinging their arms back and forth slightly as they walk to the exit. 

 

“Long day today, huh,” says Jimin.

 

Namjoon looks down at Jimin. Up close, Namjoon can see what are clearly under eye bags, normally masked with military-strength concealers. “You seemed tired a little bit ago.”

 

Jimin shrugs, knocking into Namjoon slightly with his hip. “Oh please, nothing phases me, I’m the ultimate energizer battery.”

 

Namjoon chuckles at that. “You nodded off in the makeup artist’s chair earlier,” he says. Then, feeling emboldened, he releases Jimin’s hand to loop his arm around Jimin’s waist, tugging him closer. Faint traces of his cologne and the conditioner in Jimin’s hair mix together in Namjoon’s nostrils, a distinctly Jimin scent.

 

Jimin makes a grumbling noise. “Well that’s because it was before we performed,” he says defiantly, crossing his arms. “I could still run, like, half a kilometer right now.” Immediately upon saying this, he suppresses a yawn, causing Namjoon to fall into him as he laughs.

 

“You really do live off of performing,” remarks Namjoon.

 

Jimin grins, his cheeks puffing up slightly, cradled in the face mask down around his chin. “I’d do it for the rest of my life if I could,” he says, voice soft. Then, he reaches over to loop both his arms around Namjoon, hugging him. “With you, if I could.”

 

The idea taps against the inside of Namjoon’s skull.

 

Then, Jimin balks. “Oh God, that was cheesy as hell, wasn’t it.”

 

No , no, I just–” stammers Namjoon. He takes a deep breath. “ Um , Jimin, did you—”

 

Yah, hurry up, lovebirds ,” comes Taehyung’s voice from behind. Namjoon whips around, releasing his hold on Jimin out of habit, and sees Taehyng and Jungkook coming up just behind them. They both come to a stop, Taehyung standing with his hands on his hips as he appraises Namjoon and Jimin. “The hyungs and drivers have been waiting while you two walk like you’re on a stroll by the Han.”

 

Namjoon’s face burns with embarrassment as Jimin cackles out loud, turning around.

 

“And just how long were you following us, you creeps?” accosts Jimin, detaching from Namjoon to grab Jungkook into a playful chokehold.

 

Namjoon watches them play-fight like a litter of kittens, fond and amused.

 

Then the idea, the question he’d been about to ask Jimin, reasserts itself, and Namjoon 

 

“We’d better get out there,” says Namjoon, donning his Calm Assertive Leader Voice. “If they’re waiting for us and all.” It’s enough to break up the play-fight, and Jimin drifts back over to Namjoon’s side.

 

“Race you to the exit,” says Jimin, eyes glinting.

 

Then he’s off, running as though he actually isn’t tired. Taehyung and Jungkook take off after him, leaving Namjoon alone standing in the hallway. After a moment, Namjoon starts off after, only half-heartedly participating in the race.

 

When Namjoon finally arrives, Jimin’s alone, leaning against the wall by the door, scrolling on his phone. In the dim light of the hallway, the soft blue light of the screen illuminates his face, casting his skin and hair a glowing shade of blue. Just like earlier in the green room, he looks utterly exhausted, his eyelids fluttering slightly.

 

“Where are Jungkook and Tae?” asks Namjoon, his breathing just the slightest bit winded.

 

Jimin looks up, smiling and pocketing his phone. He comes up to Namjoon, then surprises him by leaning up for a peck on the lips. “I wanted to wait for you,” he says. Then, with a triumphant smirk, he says, “Besides, I won the race, anyway.”

 

Something tells Namjoon that Jimin’s probably lying, but he still accepts a second kiss gratefully. 

 

“Come on,” says Jimin, grabbing Namjoon’s hand again.

 

The air is crisp and cold when they step out into the night. The sky above is dark, slightly orange from the city lights. The slight sweat that had sprung up on his skin during his run immediately turns cold and when Namjoon exhales, a puff of air escapes his mouth. Despite the relative cold, his hand in Jimin’s still feels warm.

 

Once again, the idea—now a fully formulated question—rattles around inside his head.

 

They make their way to the waiting cars, climbing into the final in the line with a friendly greeting toward their driver. She’s nice, Namjoon thinks as he notices the way she doesn’t even react to them still holding hands. 

 

The car is already fully warmed up as they settle inside, and Namjoon sticks out his free hand toward the heater, sighing in relief.

 

The car starts off, leaving the Sky Dome parking lot. The combination of the smooth roll of the car and the fully surrounding warmth has Namjoon closest he’s felt to falling asleep all night. He leans his head back against the headrest, eyelids fluttering.

 

He then hears a shift, a soft click , and suddenly Jimin’s made his way across the seat to sit right beside Namjoon, his warmth somehow more persistent than that of the heater.

 

Hi ,” he whispers, soft enough for only Namjoon to hear. 

 

“Hi,” says Namjoon, eyes flicking up to look toward the driver and their manager up front. Before he can voice any concern, Jimin reaches  out to hit the button to roll up the partition, reading his mind. As the glass divider rolls up, Jimin leans his head onto Namjoon’s shoulder, giving Namjoon another strong whiff of his conditioner.

 

“What did you wanna say earlier?” Jimin asks, his voice stretching around a yawn. “Before Tae and Kookie came?”

 

The question in Namjoon’s mind stands up, rushing to the tip of his tongue.

 

Um , well,” he starts. He swallows around a sudden lump in his throat. When’s a better time than now? Gathering the confidence, he readjusts his arm to loop around Jimin, reaching to take hold of his boyfriend’s left hand. When he speaks again, he strokes his thumb over Jimin’s fingers, turning the sole ring he still wears. “I was wondering if you’d like to, er , go on a...date? A proper one, tomorrow, since our schedule is free. Nowhere special or anything, even just going to the Han, or maybe Ilsan? Or Anyang, or—”

 

Namjoon’s rambling comes to a halt, not because of Jimin squeezing his hands or leaning up for a kiss, but because of the soft snore that rises up in the space of the car. Namjoon looks down to see Jimin fast asleep against his shoulder, fingers still laced with Namjoon’s. His chest rises and falls slowly, his face smooth with peacefulness.

 

Namjoon considers waking him, gently shaking him until he wakes up, blinking slowly.

 

But just as he’s considering it, Namjoon feels a yawn crawl up from deep in his chest as the exhaustion of the day finally fully settles on him.

 

He hugs Jimin closer again, leaning his head to rest on top of Jimin’s, and lets the comforting warmth and silence of this little cocoon in the backseat envelop him.

 

⋇⋆✦⋆⋇

 

When Jimin dives onto their hotel bed, Namjoon rolls over to face him. “Hi.”

 

Jimin wiggles his way across the king sized bed to lie beside Namjoon, tangling their legs together. “Hi.”

 

“So,” starts Namjoon. Immediately, a wave of anxiety crashes over him, so strong he feels like suddenly vomiting. Feeling fidgety, he reaches out to play with Jimin’s fingers, fiddling with his rings. “I was thinking, you know...our last show for this leg of the tour is tomorrow, and we still haven’t gone on a date while abroad.” Haven’t gone on a date at all , thinks a small bitter part of his brain. He’d never brought up going on a date to Jimin after the failed attempt to ask after GDA, half out of insecurity and half because they’d been too busy with rehearsing for the shows in Nagoya. Now, it had been almost two weeks since then, and Namjoon felt he’d gathered enough courage to ask again, making sure Jimin was awake this time.

 

Jimin’s face remains the same, waiting for Namjoon to completely finish his statement. Namjoon swallows, then continues. “So, I thought, uh...there’s one of the bay areas we could visit. O-Or maybe just a mall, or a night market, or—”

 

“Kim Namjoon, are you offering to take me on a nighttime date around Singapore?”

 

Namjoon deflates with his sigh of relief. “ Yes , yes I am.”

 

Jimin pulls his hands away only to place them on Namjoon’s shoulders. He leans forward and lands a kiss on the corner of his mouth and when he pulls back, he’s smiling, his glowy happy Reserved-For-Namjoon smile. “Then yes, I accept your offer to, metaphorically, take me out on the town.”

 

Before he can stop himself, Namjoon surges forward to capture Jimin’s mouth in a kiss, one they both sort of smile and giggle into.

 

They’re hasty in getting ready, stripping out of their post-concert lounge clothes. Namjoon exchanges his sweatpants for dark jeans, his ratty t-shirt for a slightly nicer t-shirt, and stuffs his hair into a baseball cap. When Namjoon turns around from his suitcase, his shoes held in one hand and his bag in the other, he’s both surprised and not to see that Jimin has pulled on a slightly more “night out on the town” appropriate outfit. A crisp new graphic t-shirt (how it’s remained unwrinkled after days spent in a suitcase will forever boggle Namjoon), plenty of silver jewelry, and the pièce de résistance—a long flowy skirt that hits just above the tops of Jimin’s long socks disappearing into casual sneakers.

 

Namjoon does not gape like a fish—his mouth does, however, drop open for a moment as he watches Jimin do a quick spin, presumably checking the flowiness of the skirt in the hotel mirror. “When did you get that?” Namjoon’s startled by the—for lack of a better term— thirstiness in his own voice. 

 

Jimin glances over his shoulder as he tucks the bottom of his shirt into the waistband of the skirt. Then, he smirks . “This old thing? Bought it with Jungkook and Tae in Osaka,” he answers, tugging out the sides slightly to show off the navy fabric dotted with silver bits like stars. Then, in a complete reversal of the cool and sexy tone he’d spoken with, he strikes a goofy pose, contorting his body like a 90s model. “Why? Like what you see?”

 

Namjoon snorts, crossing the room and tossing aside his shoes. Once he’s reached Jimin, he reaches out to cup his boyfriend’s face with both hands, tilting it up until he can press their lips together. Just like before—just like always—they both smile into the kiss.

 

It’s perfect. This is everything he’d envisioned and more when he’d first brought up his New Year’s promise.

 

“We can’t stand here kissing all night,” Jimin murmurs, his hands having raised to rest on Namjoon’s chest while rubbing up and down comfortingly. Their lips are still together though, and it’s with great reluctance that Namjoon pulls back. 

 

He takes one of Jimin’s hands, the one with a single ring on his fourth finger, and grins. “Alright, let’s go.”

 

It’s when they’ve left their hotel room and begin heading down the hall that, as Namjoon is in the midst of texting a manager to ask if they would drive them, his phone buzzes in his hand.

 

manager shin

Hey, Namjoon-ssi. Any chance you could come by room 902?

We need to discuss the schedule for once we get back with BPD-nim.

 

Namjoon’s entire being deflates as his attention narrows down to his phone in his hand. He doesn’t even notice he’s stopped walking until he feels Jimin run into him from behind with a startled yelp.

 

Yah, Namj—

 

“Sorry,” Namjoon mutters. He stares down at his phone, heart pounding in his ears. It’s as though he’s completely forgotten what he’s meant to do next. Reply? Right, he should reply to Manager Shin. But then...Jimin—

 

“Can someone drive us?” Jimin asks, appearing beside Namjoon and taking his phone unceremoniously from his hand. Namjoon doesn’t bother to stop him.

 

There’s a beat as Jimin reads the screen.

 

“...Oh,” Jimin says.

 

The air shifts noticeably, colder and tinged now with melancholy.

 

Namjoon squeezes Jimin’s hand in his, but doesn’t look at him. “I can...I can text back and tell her I can’t, that I’m heading to bed—”

 

“Then we couldn’t ask for someone to drive,” Jimin says. He doesn’t sound sad. He doesn’t even sound angry. Just…

 

“Maybe...Taehyung or Yoongi-hyung could—”

 

Jimin squeezes Namjoon’s hand, harder than Namjoon had squeezed his. It’s then when Namjoon finally braves a look towards his boyfriend. He looks incredibly at ease as he smiles, but it’s a forced smile. Namjoon feels awful.

 

“Text her back,” Jimin says simply. He glances left and right quickly, checking the hall for people, then rises up on his toes to lightly peck Namjoon. “I’ll be in our room.”

 

Namjoon’s shoulders sag forward when Jimin slips his hand free, replacing it with Namjoon’s phone, and starts back down the hall toward their hotel room. He feels sick. He feels like throwing his phone. He feels like crying.

 

“Hey.”

 

Namjoon whips around at Jimin’s voice. Illuminated by the warm lights of the hallway, Jimin looks every bit the angel leader of the fairies he always jokes that he is.

 

“You up for a post-tour trip once this leg is over?” he asks. 

 

That, at least, blooms a shred of hope in Namjoon’s chest. He nods, smiling.

 

“You bet your ass I am.”

 

⋇⋆✦⋆⋇

 

Except there is no post-tour trip either. Because after that leg of the tour wraps, it’s suddenly February and they’re prepping for attending the Grammys ( the fucking Grammys ), which eats up what little other time they might’ve had to themselves. And the Grammys are great—they even get to present an award and daydream about one day being the ones receiving instead—but afterwards, it’s right back into rehearsals as they head back to Japan for their last two shows in Fukuoka.

 

And the Fukuoka shows are great, a resounding and successful end to another leg of the tour before taking a month long break. 

 

They miss Valentine’s Day because they’re rehearsing, but it’s fine.

 

It’s fine.

 

“I promise, it’s fine,” Namjoon says to Jimin on their flight back home. It’s the day after the Fukuoka shows finished, and they’re all packed into their private jet, the members scattered amongst the plane. Though the flight is short, everyone else has fallen asleep, leaving Jimin and Namjoon the only two awake, sitting face to face.

 

Jimin worries his bottom lip between his teeth. “But it was supposed to be our first Valentine’s together after...you know.” He reaches out and takes Namjoon’s right hand, fiddling with the wedding ring. “It was going to be special.”

 

Namjoon furrows his brows, trying to school his expression. Because if he’s honest with himself, he feels the exact same way. It was supposed to be special—he’d drafted about five pages of notes for what all he wanted to do for and with Jimin, from buying flowers to renting a hotel room for them all on his own. And he’d had to toss them all out once he and Jimin had noticed the overlap in travel between the Grammys and the concerts. But he’s gotten over it, sort of. 

 

“There’s still White Day,” he says, rubbing his thumb over the back of Jimin’s hand. “And it’s not like it was the last Valentine’s Day ever.”

 

“I know , but—” Jimin huffs, exhaling sharply through his nose. He’s annoyed. “It’s the principle.”

 

“The principle?”

 

“We’re a couple,” Jimin says in a hushed voice, gesturing between the two of them, “so we celebrate couple holidays and shit together. It’s, like, the most important part of this whole ‘being a couple’ gig.”

 

Namjoon snorts. “I thought loving each other unconditionally was the most important thing.”

 

“I mean, that’s definitely part of it,” Jimin says, finally cracking the smallest of smiles as Namjoon interlaces their fingers together. He’s a little more chipper, but there’s still a slight sag to his shoulders.

 

An idea comes to Namjoon, about half formed but enough.

 

“Well...we could still celebrate? It’d just have to be...well, a little later, considering everything,” he says.

 

Jimin sits up at that, face creasing with thought. Then, he lifts his head and his eyes practically sparkle. “The twentieth. After Hobi-hyung’s birthday,” he says.

 

Namjoon swallows hard. “It’s a date.”

 

By the time the twentieth rolls around, Namjoon’s so wound up with stress and anxiety that he thinks he might have developed an ulcer. In the time since arriving back home, Jimin had been uncharacteristically secretive. Namjoon had caught him, on numerous occasions, rushing to hide his phone, always with a too big smile and kiss to distract him from asking about it (which it did—every single time). Namjoon had even gone and attempted to get the truth from Taehyung, who’d been just as tight-lipped and fake smiley as Jimin.

 

So needless to say, Namjoon had managed to convince himself that Jimin was about to break up with him.

 

When the twentieth does finally arrive, Namjoon wakes up in his room, alone because Jimin had decided to sleep in his actual room for once. He stares at the ceiling, swallowing down the anxious bile creeping up his throat.

 

This is it, he thinks grimly as he sits up. Today’s the day when I and my unofficially married husband get unofficially divorced.

 

Namjoon goes through the motions of getting ready in a constant state of near tears, brushing his teeth while reminiscing on all the times he and Jimin had spent together. He nearly chokes on toothpaste when he happens to glance down at the ring on his finger and lets out a pitiful gasping sob.

 

He shuffles into the kitchen to prepare breakfast, following the scent of cooking eggs and french toast, watching the door to Jimin and Hoseok’s room carefully.

 

“Morning, Seokj—” Namjoon starts. Then he stops, coming to a halt just outside the kitchen’s entryway.

 

Because the one flitting around the kitchen, dressed up in Seokjin’s typical cooking apron and wielding a spatula is... Jimin ?

 

“Ah! Morning, babe!” Jimin says, spinning around and practically skipping over to plant a fat kiss on Namjoon’s cheek. Namjoon shudders. Jimin smells like fresh french toast and his own cologne.

 

“What’s…” Namjoon says.

 

“It’s Valentine’s Day,” Jimin says, pointing at Namjoon with the spatula. He raises an eyebrow. “Or did you forget, huh?” He says the last bit with an extra lathering of Busan satoori, in such a way that normally has Namjoon bursting out into laughter.

 

As it stands now, it feels more mocking than anything.

 

“No, I—didn’t,” Namjoon says, shoulders sagging forward. “Just caught me off guard.”

 

“Well, get back on guard, ‘cause we’re celebrating,” says  Jimin, turning on his heel to rush back to the stove. He flips the toast in the pan, then waves his spatula towards the table. “Sit, sit!”

 

Namjoon sits, curling in on himself. In front of him is a place setting using their finest dishware—the unfaded plastic plates one of them had picked up from Daiso when their washing machine had broken once and they’d run out of dishes. Along with a bowl of pre prepared rice, chopsticks, and a spoon was a note, a doodle of a cartoon heart smiling and surrounded by the words ‘I love you!’ in Jimin’s blocky handwriting.

 

Taunting him.

 

In the next moment, Namjoon looks up to see Jimin shimmying over, pan and spatula in hand. He moves the french toast and eggs from the pan and onto Namjoon’s plate, making sure to keep everything together, just the way Namjoon likes it.

 

“Bon appetit,” Jimin says with a grin, settling down in the chair beside him as he places the remaining toast and eggs on his own plate. “Had Jungkook text me his french toast recipe ‘cause I remember you liking it when we went to Malta.” When he says this, he reaches out to pinch one of Namjoon’s cheeks.

 

I’m going to miss this , Namjoon thinks pitifully as he picks up his chopsticks.

 

They eat in relative silence, when Jimin suddenly drops his spoon with all the purposeful clumsiness to be expected of him. “ Whoops ,” he says, casting Namjoon a look. Namjoon watches, chopsticks halfway inside his mouth, as Jimin slides to the ground, crawling beneath the table and arrives between Namjoon’s legs. He pushes Namjoon’s chair back, allowing himself to crowd closer and raise his head.

 

“What—” Namjoon starts.

 

“Happy Valentines,” Jimin says, looking up through his lashes as he bats them. Then, his hands move to begin pulling down Namjoon’s hastily put on jeans. He manages to fully unearth Namjoon’s dick—

 

—And that’s, embarrassingly, when Namjoon bursts into hideous tears.

 

Whoa, whoa, Namjo— Namjoon-hyung ,” Jimin says, hands moving to rest on the tops of Namjoon’s thighs and rub comfortingly. “Why are you—?”

 

“Is this some kind of sick joke?” Namjoon asks, barely intelligible through his tears.

 

Jimin’s face pinches in confusion. “I don’t…”

 

“Y-You’re—You were going to break up with me! Right? That’s why you’ve been acting all secretive and stuff,” Namjoon blubbers, finally setting down his chopsticks and hunching forward to cry into his hands.

 

Jimin blinks. Then, his face cracks into a smile. Then , he fully bursts into laughter.

 

“Namjoon-ah, oh my god ,” he says, laughing so hard he falls forward, facefirst into Namjoon’s actual crotch. “ Namjoon, you are so—

 

“This isn’t funny!” Namjoon cries, exasperated. He practically glares down at the man currently laughing two inches from his dick.

 

“I’m not breaking up with you!” Jimin replies, lifting his head. He’s laughed himself to teary eyes and a flushed face. He wipes at one of his eyes, then reaches up to cup Namjoon’s cheek gently. The touch immediately relaxes Namjoon some. “Oh my dumb baby, your perceptiveness really can be such a curse, can’t it.”

 

When Namjoon doesn’t reply, Jimin spells it out clearly by leaning up for a kiss, tensing his hands to dig his fingers ever so slightly into the skin of Namjoon’s face. “I was working on...well, this,” he says against Namjoon’s mouth, reaching back to gesture towards the table. “I wanted to surprise you. For Valentine’s.”

 

And—

 

Namjoon knows he can get a little caught up in his own head, even to the point of missing blatant facts right in front of his face, but…

 

“You’re not going to break up with me?” Namjoon asks, voice soft and vulnerable.

 

Jimin smiles, eyes soft, smile reassuring. “Of course not. I’d rather die, if I’m being totally honest.”

 

Namjoon’s sob of relief is so strong it releases all of the tension in his body and he sags forward, depositing almost the entirety of his weight on top of his kneeling boyfriend.

 

“I really am dumb sometimes,” he says.

 

“Yes, you are, I’m not even going to attempt arguing against that,” Jimin says with a laugh, rubbing Namjoon’s back.

 

Namjoon snorts. They remain like that hugging for a bit.

 

“Still want me to suck your dick?”

 

Namjoon shakes his head. “Too emotionally shot. I think I’d have a heart attack if I did anything more than just finish breakfast,” he says with a grimace. “Sorry. Not a very sexy Valentine’s.”

 

Jimin makes a noise. “We’re spending it together, and that’s what matters,” he says. Then, he leans back to look Namjoon in the eye and smile, a wide and reassuring smile. “Besides, it’s not like this is the last Valentine’s Day ever.”

 

Namjoon loves Jimin. He truly truly does.

 

After tucking his dick back into his pants—though not after a hearty slap to the shaft, “Just for funsies!” from Jimin—they return to breakfast, eating in comfortable silence as they hold hands across the table.

 

⋇⋆✦⋆⋇

 

After the “Not-Actually-On-Valentine’s-Day”-Valentine’s-Day-Embarrassment-of-2019, Namjoon finds himself overwhelmed with Big Horny Energy, stronger than he’s felt in months. The combination of work-induced blue balls and the near-blowjob from Jimin, he deduces one day. Something about the way Jimin had looked up at him through his eyelashes while on his knees had aroused the long dormant Horny Dragon that slumbers deep inside him, now locked in a battle with the Sword of Abstinence until at least the end of tour.

 

What was he saying?

 

Namjoon is horny, and there’s not too much he can do about it, which has led him to this unyielding frustration.

 

The most they’ve been able to lately do is sleepily rut against one another in a different hotel room every two days and occasionally share a handjob in the shower. Which—is fine , but Namjoon considers both of them to be worth a bit more than hookups that resemble the kind of stolen moments they’d had when they’d first gotten together.

 

They’re still on a mini break before they’re back to touring in March, so Namjoon knows that this is the last chance he and Jimin will likely have to fuck with some dignity in the privacy of their own bed.

 

Except that, in the absence of a schedule, Jimin has taken up the challenge of attempting to binge as many episodes of One Piece with Namjoon as he can.

 

Which—would be fine , except that Jimin only ever seems to watch the show when he and Namjoon could be fucking.

 

“Just one more episode, babe,” Jimin will say, eyes glued to the TV or his laptop even as Namjoon does everything in his power to emit his most intense please come over here and let me finger you until you cry pheromones.

 

“This one is half over, I’ll be ready after,” he’ll say despite him and Namjoon both knowing once this episode ends, he’ll simply let the auto-play continue to the next one and this entire cycle repeats again.

 

And Namjoon’s a really good boyfriend—while he doesn’t totally get the appeal of the show (“So the pirate boy is made of...jelly?”), he does know it brings Jimin joy, and there’s nothing he loves more than taking part in Jimin’s joy.

 

He does wish at the very least that Jimin wasn’t so invested as to be almost completely oblivious to Namjoon’s frankly obvious attempts at devolving their watch session into an in-bed makeout session.

 

They’re currently on episode 643 and Jimin’s as enraptured as he’d been thirty episodes ago. He’s currently sitting sideways in Namjoon’s lap, having plopped down after returning with wine for both of them.

 

And Namjoon’s not paying even a modicum of attention to the show on screen because for the first time during one of their watch sessions, Jimin’s sitting on him . Close enough for Namjoon to catch faint whiffs of rose and peach conditioner whenever he turns his head. Close enough for Jimin’s heat to warm him at the touchpoints between their bodies. Close enough for Namjoon to feel the clear and defined outline of Jimin’s ass against his crotch whenever Jimin shifts in place.

 

It’s so much all at once after multiple days of nothing and Namjoon feels like he might die from it. But maybe that’s just the wine he’d downed in nearly one go messing with his head. 

 

The Horny Dragon sits up in its den deep in his chest.

 

His hands flexing where they sit beside his legs, Namjoon swallows hard. Then, he asks softly close to Jimin’s ear, “Can I put my hands on your legs?”

 

Jimin glances towards Namjoon. With a blink, he smiles and says, “Sure, go ahead.” Then he turns back to watching, sipping from his glass of wine.

 

The Horny Dragon stretches languidly as Namjoon places his palms against the tops of Jimin’s thighs. He’s wearing leggings so it’s not as though his skin is exposed, but for Namjoon, it’s enough to nearly make him cry out.

 

They remain like that throughout the end of the episode, watching the auto-play countdown to the next episode.

 

7...6…

 

It’s now or never.

 

5...4…

 

Namjoon’s skin feels clammy as he leans forward and places a dry kiss to Jimin’s neck. He shudders. Jimin’s wearing the cologne he’d gifted him for Christmas last year. The Horny Dragon vibrates at a speed that could shatter every bone in Namjoon’s body.

 

3...2…

 

When Jimin doesn’t react, Namjoon pulls back, wets his lips—difficult, considering how dry his mouth is from the wine—and places another more purposeful and obvious kiss against the spot behind his ear.

 

Then, Jimin turns, his hand raising to cup Namjoon’s face as he catches Namjoon’s mouth in a kiss.

 

Jimin’s mouth is soft and warm and tastes slightly bitter from the wine. Namjoon’s own mouth had dropped open from the surprise of the kiss, so all of a sudden he’s also got Jimin’s tongue in his mouth, and Namjoon thinks he might actually cry—

“One more episode, baby?” says Jimin, having pulled back way too soon to speak. Namjoon, a bit bazed, blinks his eyes open to see the fucking opening for the next episode rolling.

 

And Namjoon, ever the best boyfriend, nods, sitting back.

 

He wields the Sword of No Fucking Until After Tour once again and slays the Horny Dragon. Or whatever he’d said.

 

It’s the next day, while Jimin’s out with Taehyung and Seokjin, that Namjoon finally blows his top to whatever poor soul will listen.

 

“I’m getting blue-balled by fucking Luffy ,” Namjoon grouses over coffee with Yoongi. “We have barely two weeks left before we head back on tour and God , I think I might actually go insane if I don’t get to fuck my boyfriend once.”

 

“You’re being overdramatic,” says Yoongi, stirring a spoonful of honey into his coffee. He glances over to Namjoon from where he’s standing at the kitchen counter. “And you sound like a pervert.”

 

“Thanks,” Namjoon says, glaring up from where he has his head down on the kitchen table. “And I’m not being dramatic. I know it’s not like he... owes me sex or anything, but it’s like having an itch you need to scratch and you know that once you do, you’ll finally be able think clearly.”

 

“Kinda sounds like you think he owes you sex.”

 

Namjoon groans, lifting his head only to drop it down on the table again with a loud thud . He hears the chair across from him scrape along the floor as Yoongi takes his seat then feels Yoongi nudge his foot.

 

“I’m joking, I’m taking your woes seriously,” says Yoongi.

 

“I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” says Namjoon, still facedown on the table. “Like yeah, I could just wait until after the tour wraps, but…”

 

“You have an itch you need to scratch,” says Yoongi matter-of-factly, “And you have a hot boyfriend who’s very hot but also incredibly distracted by a shitty anime.”

 

Namjoon lifts his head just enough to rest his chin on the table, looking up at Yoongi with a pout. “Maybe I am being dramatic.”

 

Yah , you can’t suddenly decide you wanna backtrack and act rational,” says Yoongi, reaching out to flick Namjoon’s forehead. “Alright, so Jimin’s absorbed with this show.” Yoongi pauses for a moment, pondering. “So, you want to draw his attention away from the show and towards you.” Then, he laughs out loud.

 

“What?”

 

“I have an idea, it’s just a stupid one that definitely won’t work.”

 

“We’re two days away from restarting rehearsals and Jimin’s reaching the point where we don’t cuddle at night because he’s watching the show.” Namjoon leans forward, grabbing Yoongi’s hand with a tight, desperate grip. “I’ll do anything .”

 

Anything , as it turns out, includes a rush-order from Alibaba, Hoseok’s (steadily improving) sewing skills, and an all-nighter spent in Yoongi’s studio while they work.

 

The next day, their last day of freedom before jumping back into rehearsals for the tour, when Namjoon receives his anticipated “ do you wanna watch one piece? :3 ” text from Jimin, he replies casually, asking if they can watch in his room, and gets ready in his bathroom.

 

Namjoon’s still in the bathroom putting on the final touches when he hears Jimin’s melodic, “ Namjoon-ah, I’m here, ” as he enters the room. Namjoon catches his eye in the mirror one last time, adjusts his top, then throws open the door to his room.

 

Jimin is splayed out on his bed, having already made himself comfortable with his laptop. He’s wearing sweats—not uncommon—and a loose t-shirt—one of Namjoon’s going by the size and logo—and lying with his head hanging backwards over the side of the bed, face toward the bathroom.

 

“Hey—”

 

Jimin stops, blinking in surprise. Then, he rolls over onto his front, eyes bugging wide, as he fully takes in Namjoon.

 

Namjoon, in a tight red vest that exposes his entire chest and stomach, yellow sash looped around his waist, blue shorts that had been much longer when they’d first arrived earlier that day, and a straw hat plopped about as sexily as a straw hat could be.

 

Namjoon feels ridiculous. Even so, he lifts his chin, striding forward and until he reaches the bed. Then, just like he’d painstakingly practiced with Yoongi and Hoseok, he reaches out, placing a finger beneath Jimin’s chin.

 

“Let me be your Pirate King,” he purrs, voice low and eyes hooded. Internally, he feels like the human equivalent to rapidly curdling milk.

 

There’s a beat. Then another.

 

Then—

 

“Is this...a sexy Luffy cosplay?” Jimin asks, reaching out to tug on Namjoon’s vest.

 

And just like that, Namjoon’s entire facade of resolve dissolves at once and he’s covering his chest as his cheeks flush bright red.

 

“Um...yes?”

 

Jimin doesn’t laugh—he definitely looks like he wants to, but he doesn’t. He instead reaches up to take hold of Namjoon’s face, smile delighted as he leans up on his knees to kiss Namjoon. It tamps down the embarrassment somewhat.

 

“Who’s idea was this?” Jimin asks, their faces still close.

 

“Yoongi’s,” Namjoon answers immediately. “With some help from Hoseok to make the costume fit better.”

 

“Really?” says Jimin, eyebrows furrowing as he sits back. “This has all the trappings of a Seokjin-hyung and Jungkook scheme.”

 

“Well, I was...desperate,” Namjoon says, shifting awkwardly under Jimin’s gaze.

 

Jimin’s eyebrows fall with amused concern. “Ah...I’ve been neglecting my baby, huh,” he says.

 

“A little bit,” says Namjoon, answering honestly. “I wanted to get your attention, so…”

 

“Well this definitely got my attention,” he says, leaning back so he can do a full suggestive look up and down of Namjoon’s entire body. Namjoon is, thankfully, fully used to the blatant objectification from his boyfriend, so it doesn’t make his self-consciousness worse.

 

“And I know you don’t get a lot of free time to do things you want, like watch the shows you like or just—fucking relax, you know? So I didn’t want to take away time for you to just—”

 

“Hey.”

 

The one word cuts off Namjoon’s rambling immediately. Namjoon raises his head—when he’d dropped it, he’s not sure—and meets Jimin’s soft gaze.

 

“‘More time for us’,” says Jimin. “That’s what you said. And I haven’t been doing my best to honor that and make sure we’re both doing the things we want.” Then, with a half shrug and a charming smile, he rubs his thumbs along Namjoon’s cheekbones and asks, “So what do you want to do, Namjoon-ah?”

 

Namjoon loves this man. He could kiss him.

 

“Can we just...watch something else? Just for today?” asks Namjoon with a relieved sigh. “It’s not that I don’t...like One Piece , it’s just…”

 

“We’ve been watching it a lot,” finishes Jimin, tone understanding.

 

Not what I would’ve said , thinks Namjoon, but he nods regardless.

 

Dressed in a much comfier outfit of his own sweats and a hoodie, Luffy costume left abandoned by the dresser, Namjoon sidles up beside Jimin beneath the covers, the opening credits to Fullmetal Alchemist playing on the laptop. He loops an arm around Jimin, pulling him closer.

 

This is nice, thinks Namjoon.

 

“By the way,” whispers Jimin into his ear. “It was Zoro I had a crush on, not Luffy.”

 

This is perfect.

 

⋇⋆✦⋆⋇

 

March brings cherry blossoms and rehearsals.

 

And with rehearsals comes news—an April comeback. An EP, the start of a new series, a new trilogy. Map of the Soul: Persona .

 

Namjoon’s away to film the intro’s music video when he’d promised to be home for date night. Jimin’s away with the hair stylists figuring out which color he wants to go with when they’d planned to spend the evening in.

 

With March comes cherry blossoms and tension, slowly building.

 

Far too many times, Namjoon will roll over in bed to see Jimin dressing in the faint morning light.

 

“What—”

 

“Heading to the practice room,” Jimin will say simply, not looking at Namjoon. He zips up his jacket, the final touch.

 

Namjoon looks over at his bedside clock. “It’s like five in the morning.”

 

And that means it’ll still be empty,” replies Jimin, stretching his arms overheard. “I have to stay limber now that we’re moving into comeback mode.”

 

A bitter taste—Jealousy? Annoyance?—spreads itself on the back of Namjoon’s tongue. “You can’t just...wait? Until the sun comes up at least?” Namjoon tries to sound convincingly concerned, but the bitterness feels like it’s begun spreading to every part of his body. “We rarely get breaks between things for this long, so can’t we just...stay in bed together a little while longer and fucking cuddle?”

 

Jimin pauses. His face flashes with something, but smooths over too fast for Namjoon to accurately name the expression. Jimin crosses over, kneeling beside the bed. He offers a small smile, reaching out to cup Namjoon’s cheek. His hand, normally warm, feels noticeably cold. 

 

“I’ll be back in two hours,” he says. “Three, tops. Then we can cuddle all you want.”

 

Then he’ll kiss Namjoon, but it will feel wrong, too much like Jimin is trying to placate him. And then he’ll go, leaving Namjoon alone with a confusing mix of longing and resentment.

 

Again, and again , and again , until Namjoon simply stops reacting when he hears Jimin climb out of bed and leave their room in the morning.

 

Or just his room, at this point.

 

The tension is palpable enough for Seokjin to comment on it.

 

“Are you and Jimin doing okay?” he asks one day while he and Namjoon are stretching in the practice room. Though he speaks to Namjoon directly, when Namjoon lifts his head, Seokjin’s looking over at Jimin, who sits chatting and laughing casually in a full side split.

 

“We’re fine,” snaps Namjoon, dropping his head and blinking back sudden angry tears.

 

They’ll have to fly to Hong Kong soon, and then Bangkok, and then it’s comeback time, and then it’ll be off to the US for god knows how long while they run the promotional circuit.

 

2019 will be for us.

 

Namjoon wants to laugh at the sheer naivete of his past self.

 

Even still, a few days into March, he finds himself standing outside the door to Jimin and Hoseok’s room, knocking quickly. The Jimin who answers is disheveled and clearly exhausted, likely having woken up from a nap, one of few he allows himself to take these days.

 

What ?” snaps Jimin, eyes struggling to stay open against the light of the hallway.

 

“Can I come in?” asks Namjoon, pointedly ignoring the rude tone of Jimin’s voice.

 

Jimin sighs, his shoulders sagging forward, then steps aside to allow Namjoon to enter. His and Hoseok’s room is the same as ever—large to a kind of ridiculous extent, clear delineations in what space counts as Hoseok’s versus Jimin’s , one side messy in a very particular way. Jimin’s bed is mussed, the sheets bunched together and kicked aside.

 

“Oh, you were sleeping,” says Namjoon dumbly.

 

“Yeah, I was,” says Jimin, tone flat.

 

That does it.

 

Namjoon whips around to face Jimin. “I’m sorry, but have I done something wrong?”

 

Jimin, standing near the now closed door, crosses his arms and yawns. “You’re here to ask me to go on another date, right?” His tone is still flat, and coupled with the tired expression on his face, Namjoon feels a bit like he’s being actively antagonized.

 

“Well, we have a few days before rehearsals start again, so I—”

 

“Is it not enough for us to just rest on our own, Namjoon?” snaps Jimin suddenly, the explosiveness to his voice startling Namjoon into flinching. Jimin’s jaw sets as he runs a hand through his hair, pushing the sleep-mussed platinum blonde strands away from his face. He’s due to have it dyed soon when they go to film the music video for the comeback. “I mean, jesus , does every fucking break we get have to have some grand romantic gesture of a date included? Can’t we just—fucking relax alone?”

 

Namjoon pauses, taken aback. “I thought… You like when we go on dates,” he says.

 

Jimin shoves the finger of one hand deep into his hair. “Not when we’re this close to a comeback. Not when we’re still on tour in the middle of preparations, not when I haven’t had the chance to be truly alone and just fucking sleep for three months straight.”

 

“We said we were going to take time for ourselves,” says Namjoon, his throat suddenly tight and his face flushed.

 

“Yeah, and that’s turning out to be just as stressful as every other aspect of our lives,” says Jimin. “Face it, Namjoon-ah, this —” Jimin raises his other hand to bury in his hair, shaking his head back and forth. “—This...taking time for ourselves shit? It was never going to work, not for us.”

 

And that—

 

That stings . Namjoon feels like he’s just been slapped across the face.

 

“We’ve been trying,” says Namjoon, hands curling into tight balls at his sides. “We’ve been trying to make it work, despite everything, but now you just wanna...give up?”

 

Then—

 

Jimin rolls his eyes—a true and unmistakable eye roll that’s normally reserved for clueless interviewers. That’s normally shared between him and Namjoon as a moment of understanding.

 

Never towards him.

 

Namjoon feels the rage rise up in him like vomit.

 

“Have you ever considered,” he says slowly, the anger bubbling close to the surface, “that the reason we’re never able to make time is because you’re so fucking high maintenance .”

 

And that

 

That does catch Jimin off guard, enough for the expression on his face to temporarily fall away, revealing confusion and...hurt.

 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t deter Namjoon.

 

“It’s like nothing I do is ever good enough,” Namjoon continues. “If I don’t come up with some mind blowing idea that’ll make you want to take time and actually pay attention to me and this relationship, then you’ll just end up forgetting I even exist.”

 

“Is this about the fucking One Piece —”

 

No! ” shouts Namjoon, surprising even himself. His shoulders are up to his ears and he knows he’s at a level that’ll be difficult to come down from. “It’s not about One Piece , or the Valentine’s Day shit, or the fucking string of failed dates. It’s you! It’s you and your bitchy fucking attitude towards anything that doesn’t meet your fucking standards. Do I not meet your standards, Jimin? Is that it?”

 

And that

 

“Fuck you,” spits Jimin. He shakes his head. “ Fuck you , I’m not a bitch.” 

 

Namjoon blinks, then rolls his eyes. “That’s not what I said—”

 

“But it’s what you meant .”

 

And that statement rings with so much finality it practically echoes throughout the room.

 

Jimin glares, stepping to one side. “Get the fuck out of my room.”

 

And Namjoon—

 

He doesn’t waste another second, storming out of the room without sparing Jimin a second glance.

 

⋇⋆✦⋆⋇

 

I should go to the studio , thinks Namjoon. He turns his head towards the clock on his bedside table.

 

4:01

 

They don’t have anything on the schedule tomorrow, so theoretically speaking, there’s nothing stopping him from rolling out of bed and walking over to the studio to work until sunrise. Maybe even get some cheap ramen, since he’d neglected to eat dinner.

 

When Namjoon rolls his head the opposite way, he expects to see a huddled, too-warm form curled up beside him.

 

But…

 

Namjoon sits up in the darkness of his room, rubbing at his face. Yeah, he’s going to the studio to work all of this... energy off so he can hopefully spend the afternoon napping.

 

Out of habit, he reaches for his phone, tapping on the screen to check for messages.

 

A few reminders from their managers and Bang PD, one from his mom reminding him to eat, and one from Jungkook in the main group chat that looks like a link to some video.

 

But none from…

 

Namjoon sets his phone aside, then slides to the edge of his bed so he can climb out and get dressed to head out.

 

Just as his feet are touching the ground, he hears a faint knock at his door, so soft he thinks for a moment that he’d imagined it. He freezes. When he hears the knock again, a little more insistent, he stands up and makes his way to his door.

 

Namjoon blinks as he opens his door.

 

“Hi,” says Jimin. He’s dressed in pajamas, a big shirt (one of his own) and long flannel pants, and his hair is mussed, but not enough to suggest that he'd just woken up. More like he’d been tossing and turning for some time.

 

“Uh,” says Namjoon. He clears his throat, then says, “ Er , hi.”

 

Jimin shifts in place. “You, uh...You were up?”

 

“Yeah, couldn’t sleep.”

 

“Me neither,” says Jimin, perking up slightly.

 

They fall into silence. Cold air from the hallway drifts into Namjoon’s room, making him shiver.

 

“Did you want—?”

 

“Could we maybe—?”

 

They stop speaking at the same time, then share an awkward laugh. The awkwardness is so thick Namjoon’s sure you could cut it with a knife. “Go ahead,” he says with a nod of his head.

 

Jimin worries his bottom lip between his teeth. “Could we try sleeping? Together? Since we’re both...having trouble…?”

 

Namjoon blinks. Oh . “Oh, uh—”

 

It’s been about two days since their fight. And in that time, they’ve managed to successfully avoid one another. Even during Yoongi’s birthday, when the tension had led to Namjoon heading back to his room early just to dry heave into his toilet. They haven’t spoken once, not face to face, not through text, and whenever either of them enters a space where the other already is, there’s an unspoken expectation that one of them leave.

 

So this…

 

“I was going to go to the studio,” says Namjoon.

 

A microexpression of disappointment flashes across Jimin’s face. “Oh, I didn’t—”

 

“But yeah,” says Namjoon, going against his better judgement. “Yeah, we can. My bed’s big enough, anyways.”

 

Jimin swallows hard, face softening with relief as he nods. He looks so much...younger and more vulnerable than Namjoon last remembers him.

 

Namjoon steps aside to let Jimin inside, heart pounding as he catches a whiff of Jimin’s conditioner and cologne. That distinctly Jimin scent that he hasn’t had near him in days.

 

There’s some awkward shuffling around one another as they both climb into Namjoon’s bed, careful in a way that feels so fundamentally wrong . They should be flopping thoughtlessly into bed only to wrap around one another like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

 

They lie side by side in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Jimin’s presence beside Namjoon is agonizing—every fiber of his being, down to his fucking DNA, practically screams to reach out and touch him already . But an even smaller part of him, deep in the back of his mind, reminds him of what he’d said to Jimin, how he’d hurt Jimin, and how he’d been too stubborn to apologize.

 

“Can we...um…” asks Jimin, voice soft in the darkness.

 

“Cuddle?” Namjoon finishes.

 

A sigh of relief. Wordlessly, Namjoon rolls over, finding his front pressed against Jimin’s back in a way that feels so familiar and right. This close, he has a proper faceful of the back of Jimin’s head and neck, the cologne and conditioner stronger being so much closer to the direct source. Namjoon can even feel the subtle and slow movement of Jimin’s breathing against the front of his chest. It’s better, but even still…

 

“I feel too wired,” says Namjoon.

 

“Me too,” replies Jimin.

 

“I don’t think I can fall asleep like this.”

 

“Me neither.”

 

Silence. 

 

“We could go on a walk?” offers Namjoon. Late night walks have always been their thing—a solution to their shared insomnia and an excuse to escape out into the empty night. But since the fight, Namjoon’s not sure if he’s pressing his luck too much by suggesting something so personal and intimate to them.

 

Jimin shifts, then rolls over. Namjoon, unprepared to be this close and face-to-face with Jimin so suddenly, gasps. Even in the dim light of the room, Namjoon can make out the shining darkness of Jimin’s brown eyes, the curve of his nose, the shape of his mouth. The urge to reach out and place his hand on the slope of Jimin’s waist nearly overtakes him, but he suppresses it with a hard swallow.

 

Jimin wears a small, nervous smile. “How about a bike ride?”

 

A lump rises in Namjoon’s throat. He thinks if he were to open his mouth, he’d cry. So instead, he nods.

 

They both slide back out of bed, not bothering to make up the sheets, and get ready on opposite sides of the room in silence. Namjoon, after pulling on a pair of dark sweats and a ratty hoodie, glances back. Jimin’s sorting through a pile of—it takes Namjoon a beat to realize—Jimin’s own clothes, remnants left over that Namjoon had become so accustomed to that he hadn’t moved them after the fight. Jimin lifts first a skirt then a dark blue hoodie, holding it up to himself as he looks down.

 

“Trying to look good for Dispatch?”

 

Jimin startles, looking up at Namjoon’s voice. Namjoon’s mouth immediately snaps shut and he rushes to apologize when Jimin cracks a small smile.

 

“You know my motto,” he says, letting the hoodie drop back into the pile. “There’s always a camera somewhere, so might as well always look good.”

 

Namjoon does smile at that, finishing up tying his sweats. “Well, if we end up on the front page of Naver tomorrow, at least you’ll look good.”

 

Jimin humphs, then rises to stand. He strides over, past Namjoon and straight to his closet. He rifles through the hangers, then pulls down one of Namjoon’s nicer long sleeved tops, one with a geometric pattern and everything.

 

“Wear this instead,” says Jimin, handing it to Namjoon.

 

Namjoon narrows his eyes at the hanger in Jimin’s hand. “Okay. If —” Namjoon crosses to his dresser, opening the middle drawer. He searches through the mass of unfolded fabric and pulls out a plain black hoodie. He turns back, holding it out to Jimin. “You wear this.”

 

“I’m not wearing that, it clashes with my pants.”

 

“Anything you wear would clash with those pants.”

 

Jimin’s expression changes to that of faux-shock as he playfully swats towards Namjoon with the hoodie. “You know what, I’m gonna prove you wrong,” he says, then proceeds to pull the hoodie over his head, mussing up his hair even more so it sticks out a little wild.

 

Meonjimin , Namjoon thinks.

 

“Well?” says Jimin turning back with his arms spread wide. The hoodie doesn’t clash at all—of course it doesn’t—and Jimin looks devastatingly adorable.

 

Namjoon swallows hard. “Cute. But your hair…”

 

Jimin reaches up and runs his hand through the strands, setting them back in place. “Do you have a beanie I could borrow?”

 

Namjoon jumps into action, placing the shirt he’d been handed on the bed as he rifles through his closet, pulling down two hats. He tosses the beanie to Jimin as he pulls off his ratty hoodie. He turns his back to Jimin, then quickly pulls on the long sleeve shirt, shoving his hair into a black cap as he faces his mirror.

 

He’ll be the first to admit it—Jimin does have a natural eye for this kind of thing, styling people. Namjoon looks a mix between sleep-rumpled casual and early spring formal, in a way that somehow works. He adjusts his sweats, then turns back to face Jimin. He spreads his arms. “Well?”

 

Jimin smiles, small. “Cute.”

 

Once they’ve finished getting ready—Jimin finds a suitable bag to bring with him to carry his wallet and Namjoon finds his tan jacket to wear over top his shirt—they both stop at the exit to Namjoon’s room. There’s a pause.

 

They’ve not brought up the looming presence of their fight once, and now they’ve managed to create a familiar and light atmosphere in the confines of this room. Opening the door, Namjoon realizes, might ruin that. Leaving here, heading out to be alone in the world together without reconciling—without apologizing—might ruin them .

 

Namjoon turns to Jimin, resolved and ready.

 

But then—

 

Jimin is stepping forward, his arms coming up Namjoon’s back. Jimin is pressing his forehead against Namjoon’s chest, hiding his face. Jimin is huddling closer until Namjoon can feel the warmth of the other man leaking through layers of clothing and into him. Jimin is hugging him.

 

Namjoon mentally flounders for a moment. He wants to speak, but it doesn’t feel right to speak and break the calm quiet. He lifts his arms to hug Jimin back, squeezing him slightly as he lets his cheek rest on the top of Jimin’s head. In his arms, Jimin trembles.

 

After a beat, his voice soft, barely a whisper, Namjoon asks, “Okay?”

 

And Jimin nods.

 

They pick up plain masks from the basket by the apartment’s entryway, slipping on their shoes and then heading out. They’re silent in the elevator ride down, silent while walking beside one another to the back entrance. Jimin flashes a gleaming smile at the door attendant and Namjoon’s heart lurches.

 

Outside, Namjoon starts off in the direction of the nearest 24-hour bike rental, followed by Jimin.

 

“My hands are cold,” whines Jimin, shoving his balled up fists into the pocket of his hoodie. Namjoon’s ears perk up at that. He recognizes that as Jimin Speak for please hold my hand .

 

But he hesitates, keeping his hands firmly by his side.

 

“Aren’t your hands cold, hyung?” Jimin asks. He somehow sounds casual and anxious, like he’s masking a sense of nervousness with light flirting.

 

“I mean…” Namjoon starts. Then he stops, physically coming to a halt.

 

Now. Do it now.

 

“Jimin, I—”

 

Before Namjoon can continue, the frankly appallingly loud sound of his stomach growling draws both their attention.

 

Right . “I forgot to eat dinner,” Namjoon blurts out.

 

Then, a second, even louder stomach growl rises up between them, clearly coming from Jimin.

 

Jimin’s eyes widen, then scrunch up as he bursts into laughter. Full, body-folding-in-half, stumbling-where-he-stands, has-to-grab-onto-Namjoon-to-steady-himself, high pitched laughter. The kind Namjoon has sorely missed. His heart lurches again even as he crumples in his own fit of laughter.

 

As Jimin starts to recover from his own laughing fit, he says, “I’m down for 7-11 ramen if you are.”

 

Namjoon nods, a knot of stress releasing with relief in his chest. As he and Jimin start off toward a nearby 7-11 with Jimin navigating on his phone, Namjoon notices that, at some point, Jimin’s hand had slid down from gripping his arm to fit into Namjoon’s own. Based on how he grips Namjoon’s hand, using it to lead them, he doesn’t seem keen on letting go.

 

The 7-11 is empty save for the cashier at the front, who looks half asleep leaning on the counter. Namjoon and Jimin are quick getting their food—Shin for Namjoon, Bibimmyeon for Jimin—but do stop to give the cashier their autographs after they notice the Yoongi photocard nestled in the back of his phone case.

 

They head to the back to make the ramen, settling down at the table with their food. While the noodles cook, Namjoon feels the urge from earlier return.

 

“Jimin,” Namjoon says.

 

Jimin, who’d started fiddling with the sleeves of Namjoon’s jacket, looks up. Like this—eyes large and round, hair hidden beneath one of Namjoon’s beanies, and his face slightly pink from the exertion of climbing the hill to get here—Jimin looks small. Slightly vulnerable. Unprepared.

 

Now .

 

“I’m sorry,” says Namjoon. And his eyes well up immediately. “I’m so sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean to snap at you like that, didn’t mean to say such awful things. I don’t think you’re a b-bitch, I don’t think you’re high maintenance, I don’t think any of those things.”

 

Nearby, the microwave beeps, announcing that their rice has finished. But Namjoon continues.

 

“I was just so— hurt when you acted like me wanting us to take time for ourselves was something stupid. When you...rolled your eyes at me,” he says, keeping his eyes down on his hands. His cuticles are a little picked at from the stress of the last few days. Last few months, really. “And, I dunno, I guess I wanted to hit back at you for making me feel like you thought we were stupid for wanting to try. And I’m sorry. I don’t care if we break up after this and you never talk to me outside of a professional work setting ever again. Just please , I need you to know I don’t think those things about you.”

 

Finished, Namjoon releases a breath he’d been holding, sagging in on himself. He feels ragged and cold and like he might vomit, but—

 

There it is, out in the open.

 

The microwave beeps again. They remain seated.

 

Then, Jimin moves, reaching out to lay his hand over Namjoon’s, squeezing. His hand is so warm, even warmer than it had been while they’d been walking.

 

“God, you really are too fucking good to me,” says Jimin, almost exasperated. An echo of what he’d said months ago while they’d stood together, surrounded by idols and covered in confetti. “I had this whole speech ready to go, but then you went and beat me to it and now I have to...restructure my thoughts. I need a second.”

 

Namjoon nods, still looking down. “Take all the time you need. Take an hour if you want.”

 

Jimin closes his eyes for a moment, exhaling. When he opens his eyes, the vulnerability in them is jarring.

 

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he says, softly. “I can’t give any excuses for why I said those things when I knew how much this meant to you. How much spending time together means even when we only get so little time to call our own as it is.”

 

“But you were right,” cuts in Namjoon, lifting his head. “I was trying to monopolize all of our free time so much I forgot that we deserve proper alone time too. You deserve proper alone time.”

 

Jimin blinks. Again, the microwave beeps and this time, Jimin rises from his seat to grab their food. He returns, setting the ramen, rice, and wooden chopsticks a little bit away on the table. Then, he sits, facing Namjoon fully. He takes both of Namjoon’s hands this time. Takes a breath before he continues.

 

“I’ll admit, what you said stung. A lot .” There’s a slight waver in his voice that cuts deep into Namjoon’s heart. God, he really hurt the man he loves, didn’t he? “Mostly because I hate being called names in that way, but also because that anger...it didn’t feel like you .” Jimin smiles. “My Joonie is a quiet and silent angry type, not a yelling angry type.” Namjoon flushes at the diminutive name. “So as I thought about it afterward, it helped me realize just how much this means to you. And how, despite what you might think or say, the way I snapped at you wasn’t fair in the slightest. So—” Jimin huffs, curling Namjoon’s hands in his. He rubs his thumb over the ring on Namjoon’s fourth finger, the one Namjoon hadn’t been able to convince himself to remove even after everything. “I forgive you. And I’m sorry, too.”

 

They sit in silence, Namjoon’s hands cradled gently in Jimin’s.

 

“Can I kiss you?” Jimin asks, tilting his head slightly. His eyes are so large and shining, like he might cry.

 

Namjoon nods so strongly he worries he might hurt his neck, but still waits for Jimin to take the lead. He pulls down his own mask, then reaches out to slip a finger behind Namjoon’s to pull his down too. With a gentle hand on Namjoon’s chin, Jimin pulls him forward.

 

Just like his hands, Jimin’s lips are warm. Dry. Soft. Namjoon thinks he really will die in this moment, and he can’t even be disappointed in how he will go.

 

In unison, both of their stomachs growl.

 

Jimin smiles against Namjoon’s mouth, dragging the fingers of his hand across Namjoon’s cheek. “Ok, ok, let’s eat now,” he says, sitting back.

 

The ramen is still hot when they dig in, sharing noodles back and forth until they decide to just swap dishes. Jimin ends up eating half of their rice, and Namjoon whines. 

 

When they’ve finished, placing the empty bowls in the trash, Namjoon catches Jimin’s arm.

 

“Can I have another kiss?” he asks. “Please?”

 

Jimin smiles, then rolls up on his toes to plant a quick peck on Namjoon’s nose. While Namjoon stands there blinking in surprise, Jimin dumps the trash, grinning with an evil flash in his eyes.

 

“Race you to the bike rentals,” he says with a raise of his eyebrow. Then he takes off running for the exit of the store, leaving Namjoon still dazed.

 

“Hey!” Namjoon calls, running to catch up. “Wait! We literally just ate, what the fuck!”

 

The bike rental place, thankfully, isn’t too far, and Jimin does end up beating Namjoon. He smiles triumphantly while Namjoon bends over, close to actually vomiting. “Loser pays.”

 

“When did we establish that ?” Namjoon grouses, swallowing back bile.

 

Jimin blinks innocently. “Just now.”

 

The bike rental shop owner is an older woman who (thankfully) doesn’t recognize them, simply taking the money for the bikes and mumbling, “Have them back in three hours,” as she continues reading.

 

The bikes out front are cold as they unlock them. Namjoon works on raising the seat to his bike while Jimin takes off riding, standing up at a point to circle back and hard break nearby.

 

“It’s been so long,” Jimin says, grinning behind his mask.

 

“Three years, almost,” says Namjoon as he takes his seat.

 

God . Three years. Back when they’d just been entering what one could argue was the start of their relationship. Uncertain of how to navigate the feelings they held for one another, unsure whether or not to pursue them at all, but overcome with a need to be close.

 

All ready to go, they take off without another word. They ride without a set destination in mind. They ride past open cafes emitting warm light, closed store shops with darkened windows, convenience stores with their fluorescent white. They alternate between one being in front and the other following behind. At one point, they race again, both standing up on their bikes this time to gain more speed. After that, they go slower, recovering and taking in the night appearance of Seoul. As they ride through an empty city area, lit up only by the streetlights, Jimin lets out a carefree whoop of joy, one that Namjoon, with reckless abandon, answers in kind.

 

They find themselves near the Han, riding along the sidewalks hugging the river’s edge. They ride beside one another, try reaching out to hold hands, then dissolve into giggles as they fail tremendously. With Namjoon slightly ahead, Jimin sneaks out his phone at some point to record a video, smiling when he speeds up to ride alongside him and catches his surprised face on camera.

 

That’s definitely going on Twitter,” Jimin says when they stop for a moment, panting heavily.

 

“What? No!” says Namjoon, reaching out to swipe the phone from Jimin’s hands. “At least let me get one of you that I can post too.”

 

Jimin grins, holding the phone up above his head, which—doesn’t do much to keep Namjoon from taking it, considering the height difference. He doesn’t delete the video though, instead looking from the phone in his hand to Jimin.

 

“C’mere,” says Namjoon.

 

Jimin waddles himself and his bike closer until they’re side by side. Namjoon raises the phone, working to angle it so he and Jimin can both be within the frame of the camera. Wordlessly, Jimin reaches out and takes the phone himself, angling it perfectly on the first try. He’s still got his mask up, unlike Namjoon, but he still sighs a soft, “ Smile ,” before clicking the shutter button.

 

He takes a total of five—two for Twitter and three to be added to his ever growing collection, never to be shared.

 

“It’s getting close to sunrise,” Jimin says, looking out as he pockets his phone. Namjoon follows his gaze. In the distance, the inky orangey-black of the sky gives away to a gradient of red and yellow, light from the sun beginning its slow climb.

 

Namjoon looks back to Jimin. He doesn’t look ready to head back to the apartment yet, something in his expression 

 

“We could watch it,” says Namjoon. “If you want.” 

 

Jimin looks back to Namjoon, eyes large. Puppykitty is what their fans and the subtitles on their videos always call him, and in that moment, Namjoon can absolutely see it. Jimin looks down, then reaches out to take Namjoon’s hand. “I’d like that.”

 

They find a bench on a wooden platform in a park near the Han. They park the bikes closeby, still within view if they look back over their shoulders. They hold hands as they take a seat on the bench, huddling close. The sky continues to lighten overhead, as the bloom of red and yellow grows larger and brighter.

 

Namjoon slips an arm around Jimin’s shoulders, to which Jimin responds by lifting both legs and throwing them over Namjoon’s lap. Namjoon slips his free hand between Jimin’s thighs, seeking out warmth.

 

They sit in silence, watching the world turn golden around them as the sun finally peaks up from behind the horizon.

 

Oh, wow,” breathes Namjoon. He’s seen sunrises plenty of times before, but something about the circumstances—being outside with the freezing bench slowly warming up beneath him, sitting wrapped up with the man he loves—makes this sunrise particularly beautiful.

 

Jimin slips out his phone, taking a photo of the trees and lightened sky. Then, he turns the camera back on him and Namjoon again, using his free hand to take hold of Namjoon’s chin and turn his head. He’s pulled his mask down, so he’s able to kiss Namjoon properly this time. He snaps a photo of them. Another for the collection.

 

Jimin pockets his phone, snuggling closer and watching the sun continue its rise. Namjoon, his gaze still toward Jimin’s face, watches his eyes brim with tears.

 

After a beat, Namjoon kisses Jimin’s temple and asks: “We’re okay?” 

 

And Jimin nods.