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gossamer in the light

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“It’s okay. Don’t worry about me. This isn’t awkward for me at all. Please, carry on. I’ll just sit here and watch.”

Taehyung unfurls himself slightly, frowning. He’s got all four limbs tightly wrapped around Yoongi, vaguely reminding Jimin of an octopus. If he actually were an octopus, Jimin is certain the remainder of his arms would be entwined around Yoongi as well.

“But I love him!” Taehyung whines. Yoongi makes an apologetic face, slowly peeling Taehyung’s left arm off his chest.

“I know you do,” Jimin says. “But there are no laps here for me to sit on, so it’s making me sad.”

“Are you kidding? I bet you could talk your way into the lap of any guy here in, like, five seconds flat. Hello? You’re you.” Taehyung slides the rest of the way off Yoongi, settling back down next to him in the booth.

“I don’t want to sit on a random lap,” Jimin says, pouting. “I want to sit on a lap that loves me.”

“Now you’ve actually made him sad,” Yoongi says, sighing. He nudges Taehyung with his shoulder. “Say you’re sorry.”

“Sorry, Jiminie,” Taehyung says, reaching across the table and squeezing Jimin’s hand. “But I still don’t think a random lap would hurt.”

The three of them are sitting together in a booth near the back of the White Rabbit, a huge bar that’s just down the street from Jimin and Yoongi’s office. It’s Friday night, so it’s packed with all sorts of burned-out corporate slaves, desperate to drink away the stress of the week. Jimin and Yoongi had both come straight from work, and Taehyung, Jimin’s roommate, met them here a couple of hours ago. 

Jimin certainly looks the part: he’s got a pair of well-worn bags under his eyes from a long week of little sleep, and his white dress shirt is rumpled, unbuttoned at the collar with both sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Anyone who didn’t know him would probably just assume he’s worn out after a tough week at work. What’s actually weighing on his heart, though, is his disaster of a love life.

He’s been single for a little over two weeks now, and he’s still getting used to it. He’d spent the past few months in a casual relationship with Park Hyungsik, his tall and handsome coworker from the finance department. In addition to being tall and handsome, however, it turns out that Hyungsik was also a lying, cheating bag of shit. A few weeks ago, Yoongi was heading home late from the office and happened to spot Hyungsik in the parking garage, steaming up his car’s windows with some guy from IT perched right in his lap.

Their relationship may not have been very serious, but it was exclusive. They’d made that explicitly clear. And their agreement to exclusivity definitely did not include any loopholes that would allow for Hyungsik to fuck any members of the IT department inside his vehicle. 

Jimin ended things, of course, but Hyungsik made him feel like shit about it. He barely even apologized. And there are so many gossips working in that office building that Jimin’s cheeks were permanently on fire for a full week, knowing everyone was whispering behind his back about how Hyungsik cheated on him. Speculating about why Hyungsik cheated on him. It was embarrassing and awful, and he’s spent the past two weeks trying to convince himself that he isn’t inadequate. That this wasn’t his fault. That he’s perfectly loveable and there’s nothing wrong with him.

So despite Jimin’s cheeky remarks about longing for a lap, he honestly doesn’t think he’s anywhere near ready to find himself in another lap again. 

It’s not like he was madly in love with Hyungsik or anything. But the betrayal hurt—a lot—and Jimin doesn’t think he’ll be ready to open himself up to someone new anytime soon, despite how good it would feel to flaunt someone else on his arm in front of Hyungsik at their next office get-together. 

Tonight, he’s actually feeling pretty okay, all things considered. He’s several drinks deep, and he had almost forgotten how lonely he was—at least until Taehyung decided to start essentially dry-humping Yoongi across the table. 

Jimin loves them both, and he’s grateful that he was able to play matchmaker and set them up last year, but… sometimes they’re a lot. More than a lot, actually.

“Who wants to go buy us another round?” Taehyung asks, draining the last of his wine glass. “It can’t be me. I’m too wobbly.”

“Do you really think you should have another round if you’re already too wobbly?” Yoongi asks with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s actually about maintaining the perfect level of wobbliness,” Taehyung explains, running a hand down Yoongi’s forearm. “If I don’t have another drink, my wobbliness will diminish, and I’m not ready for that to happen yet.”

“I can go,” Jimin says with a sigh. A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth, despite himself.

He starts to slide out of the booth, but then he glances up and sees Yoongi’s mouth fall open, his eyes focused somewhere behind Jimin, looking towards the front of the bar. 

“Maybe don’t,” Yoongi hisses, reaching out and yanking Jimin’s arm, pulling him back into the booth.

“What is it?” Jimin asks, turning around and craning his neck to see. Taehyung follows the path of Yoongi’s gaze, then he pales slightly.

“Jimin, duck,” Taehyung whispers loudly. “Duck down!”

“What?” Jimin says, whirling back around, understandably alarmed. 

“That might have been a little too dramatic,” Yoongi says, turning to Taehyung. “You’re making it seem like he’s about to be assassinated.”

“Emotionally assassinated, maybe!”

“Can someone please tell me what is going on,” Jimin says flatly, looking back and forth between the two of them.

“Hyungsik just walked in,” Yoongi says.

Jimin’s heart falls into his stomach. 

He hasn’t seen Hyungsik since they broke up. The finance department is three floors down from the floor that Jimin works on, and Jimin’s been avoiding it like the plague, sending other coworkers on any errands that would usually bring him there.

He takes a deep breath, frowning. “Okay. Well, I should probably go home anyway.”

“No!” Taehyung says, reaching out and grabbing Jimin’s hands. “I’m not ready to go yet.”

“We don’t have to go together,” Jimin mumbles. He slides down a little bit so that the back of his head isn’t visible from behind the booth. “You still remember where we live, don’t you?”

“But what about the cab fare! We were going to split it! I can’t take the subway by myself, I’ll fall over and be arrested for public indecency.”

“Remember what I said about being dramatic,” Yoongi says dryly, turning and brushing his hand briefly through Taehyung’s hair. 

Jimin tosses back the rest of his gin and tonic, sighing. Maybe cutting his evening short would just be letting Hyungsik win. Maybe he deserves to have fun, too. He hasn’t even gotten to dance yet—the dance floor wasn’t packed enough when they arrived for him to dance without feeling awkward, but it’s swarming with bodies now.

Dancing alone with Hyungsik’s eyes on him, though… Jimin isn’t sure whether he’s quite reached that level of post-breakup confidence yet.

“Fine,” Jimin says, groaning. “I’ll stay. Only because I want to dance. But you have to promise to dance with me, and don’t let him anywhere near me.”

“If he gets within a ten foot radius, I’ll pounce like an attack dog,” Taehyung says solemnly. “I’ll start barking. It will be very scary. He’ll leave.”

“You’re so fucking weird,” Yoongi says, plucking a maraschino cherry out of his glass and popping it into his mouth. “But like, in a hot way, I guess.”

“Thank you,” Taehyung says, beaming.

“Let’s focus,” Jimin reminds them. “Can I go up to the bar now? Where is he?”

Yoongi leans to the right a little bit, gently colliding with the side of Taehyung’s head as he peers across the large space. “You should be fine. He’s sitting at a table all the way on the other side.”

“Okay,” Jimin says, huffing as he slips out of the booth and rises to his feet. “You just want another one of the same?”

They both nod.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to go instead?” Yoongi offers. “I don’t mind.”

Jimin shakes his head. “No. It’s fine. It’s so packed, I doubt he’ll even see me.”

Famous last words.

Jimin squeezes his way through the crowd until he reaches the massive bar in the center, using his small stature to his advantage, wiggling between bodies until he ends up pretty close to the bar, with only one very tall woman standing between him and the bartender. He pulls out his phone and scrolls through Twitter mindlessly while he waits, running a hand through his blonde hair. Someone dims the overhead lights a little, and cheers erupt from the dance floor.

After the woman ahead of him grabs her drink and ducks out of the way, Jimin steps up to the bar. The bartender closest to him, a short girl with bright blue hair, catches his eye and nods as she pours a pint. “What can I get you?”

Jimin lists off the three drinks, then reaches into his pocket for his wallet, fishing out his credit card. He hasn’t opened a tab yet—Taehyung has been the one ordering drinks for everyone so far tonight.

As he’s about to slide his credit card across the bar, he feels a tap on his shoulder. A second later, there’s a familiar voice, low and close to his ear.

“Jimin. Hey.”

Jimin freezes, every muscle in his body tensing up.

Did Hyungsik just teleport here from across the room? What the fuck?

“Hyungsik,” Jimin mumbles, barely turning to face him. Jimin keeps his eyes on the bartender. “Hello.”

Jimin’s trying to play it cool, but inside, he’s completely panicking. He’s got to get out of this somehow. He was never planning on speaking to Hyungsik again. He wants nothing to do with him. Being near him makes him feel ill, actually, and all the alcohol in his stomach is starting to feel a little unsettled. 

“How are you?” Hyungsik asks. He slides into the freshly vacated spot on Jimin’s left, leaning against the bar. He looks obnoxiously handsome, as usual—he’s wearing a perfectly tailored navy suit, not a single hair out of place. 

He’s far too close for comfort, and the way he’s looking at Jimin is borderline predatory. 

“I’m fine,” Jimin says flatly, still staring at the bartender. She’s busy taking someone else’s order at the other end of the bar.

Please come over here and take my credit card. Please.

It seems she hasn’t learned how to read minds yet.

“I’m doing well. Not that you asked,” Hyungsik says coolly. “I’m here on a date, actually.”

How perfectly pleasant. Jimin was just sitting in the back of the bar, whining about how lonely he is, and meanwhile, Hyungsik’s already got himself a date.

A wave of hot embarrassment washes over Jimin, his cheeks flushing, but he doesn’t even fully understand why. It’s not like he’s here completely alone. But he still feels like Hyungsik has bested him somehow. 

“How nice,” Jimin says. 

A few guys squeeze into the space to Jimin’s right, trying to get the bartender’s attention, shifting Jimin even closer to Hyungsik. There’s nowhere for Jimin to go.

“Are you here by yourself?” Hyungsik asks, the tiniest hint of a smirk on his face.

And then Jimin does something dumb.

He isn’t quite sure where the idea comes from. He does it before fully thinking it through, taking action before the thought has even finished processing in his brain, and he’s just drunk enough for it to make sense—for it to seem logical and not absolutely idiotic.

He swiftly turns to the right with only one goal in mind: immediately laying hands on the nearest physical body. The lucky winner is a guy wearing a flannel shirt, his back turned to Jimin. He’s several inches taller than him, with broad shoulders and long, wavy hair.

“There you are!” Jimin says loudly, his eyes wide and a little crazed, his hand pressing into the small of the stranger’s back. “I was worried about you. You weren’t texting me back. How was your day, baby?”

The man slowly turns to face him. He stares down at Jimin with an absolutely perplexed expression. His eyes are already huge to begin with, but they’re extra round now, his lips pursed in an unspoken question.

With Hyungsik right behind him, Jimin can’t audibly tell this guy what’s going on, but he figures he can try to signal it with his face. So he waggles his eyebrows to the left, eyes widening further, mouth twisting to the side, desperately trying to communicate: Please help me out here.

Understanding slowly dawns on the stranger’s face, and Jimin lets out a tiny breath.

“Sorry I’m late,” the man says, his expression shifting into something more apologetic. “I got tied up at work and forgot to text you.”

“Such a hard worker,” Jimin coos. He shifts a bit further away from Hyungsik and closer towards the man, pressing up against his side. He silently reminds himself to apologize later for getting all handsy without asking for permission. “I missed you today.”

The stranger quirks a smile, his eyes twinkling a little. He’s very cute, actually, but Jimin is hardly concerned with that right now. 

“Aren’t you going to introduce me?” the man asks expectantly, glancing at Hyungsik.

“Of course,” Jimin says, turning to face Hyungsik. “How rude of me. Hyungsik, this is my boyfriend.”

The corners of his mouth twitch. “What?”

“Yes,” Jimin repeats. “My boyfriend. His name is...” Jimin finds the stranger’s foot with his own and steps on it gently, crushing the toe of his chunky sneaker under his Chelsea boot.

“Jungkook,” the man says, and it sounds like he’s choking back a laugh. “My name is Jungkook.”

Hyungsik lifts his chin a little, meeting Jungkook’s eye. “I see. Well, I hope you’re enjoying my sloppy seconds, Jungkook.”

Jimin’s mouth falls open.

Jungkook huffs quietly, clenching his jaw and squaring up his shoulders. He reminds Jimin of a threatened peacock, a little bit. Jimin has to give him credit—he’s an excellent actor.

“From what I’ve heard, I am much more enjoyable than you ever were,” Jungkook says coolly.

Jimin’s mouth falls open even further.

Hyungsik laughs incredulously, grabbing the beer that the bartender has just placed in front of him. "Wow. Seems like you two really are suited for each other."

"We are," Jimin says, now that he's regained the ability to speak. The urge to sucker-punch Hyungsik right in the stomach is quite overwhelming. More than anything, though, he’s shocked by how enthusiastically Jungkook is playing along.

"Nice seeing you," Jimin says dismissively.

Seeing him was not nice. Jimin just wants him to leave.

Hyungsik looks like he wants to say something else, but he just shakes his head a little, disappearing into the crowd.

Jimin waits until he's out of earshot before spinning to face Jungkook, his shoulders sagging in relief. "Thank you so much. That was my ex. I mean, you probably guessed that, after he said sloppy sec—well, anyway. I seriously can’t thank you enough.”

“Your ex is an asshole,” Jungkook says matter-of-factly, sipping his beer. “You should reevaluate your taste in men.”

They both take a step back from the bar, making space for others to come forward and order. “It’s a work in progress,” Jimin mumbles. “I think I’ve sworn off dating for a little while.”

“Can’t say I blame you.”

Now that the panic swarming through Jimin’s brain has died down significantly, he takes a moment to actually process Jungkook’s appearance. If he hadn’t just sworn off dating, he would probably be blushing right now. Jungkook is tall and broad, with sparkling eyes and a bright smile, and his demeanor is completely disarming—Jimin feels strangely comfortable and safe around him, even though they’ve barely exchanged any words at all. Jimin realizes, then, that he hasn’t even told him his name.

“My name is Jimin, by the way,” he says. “And I’m sorry for touching you like that without asking first.”

“It’s okay. I don’t think you could have asked me first without blowing your cover.”

“I guess that’s true. But, I mean… are you here with anyone? I don’t want to have stepped on any toes—”

“In case you forgot, you literally and physically stepped on my toe. Kind of hard, for the record.”

“Right,” Jimin says, wincing. “Sorry.”

“I’m not here with anyone who would care,” Jungkook says. He tucks some hair behind his ear. Jimin is surprised to see that his fingers are tattooed. “I’m just with some friends.”

“Let me buy your next drink,” Jimin says. “I mean, as a thank you. For helping me. Not to like, hit on you. I’m not doing that. I wouldn’t do that. Well, I mean, I would, but—”

“It’s fine,” Jungkook says, laughing and waving him off. “I get it. But you don’t have to do that.”

‘“Are you sure? I feel like I owe you.”

“I don’t like it when people owe me,” Jungkook says, shrugging. “Consider the debt already paid.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, thank you.”

“It was nice to meet you, Jimin,” Jungkook says, turning back towards his friends and starting to walk away.

Jimin opens his mouth to say goodbye, but then it hits him. 

This isn’t going to work.

“Jungkook! Wait.”

Jungkook turns back to face him. “Yeah?”

“You can’t… um. Can you just come back here for a second, please?”

Jungkook looks a little unsure, but he takes a couple of steps back towards Jimin, leaning down to hear him better. He smells like fabric softener. “Yes?”

“If… well. If you’re supposed to be my boyfriend, and we were meeting up here… it’s just—if I go back to my table, and you go back to yours…”

Jungkook blinks at him. 

“It would be obvious I was lying,” Jimin says quietly.

“Ah,” Jungkook says, understanding. “Right.”

Jimin doesn’t even know what he’s asking of Jungkook, exactly. The only thing he knows is that he would never be able to survive the embarrassment of Hyungsik discovering that he had lied.

“Do you want me to stay here and talk to you for a little while longer?” Jungkook offers.

“If you don’t mind,” Jimin says apologetically. “I’m sorry, I feel awful about this—”

“It’s fine,” Jungkook says. But it doesn’t feel like he’s brushing Jimin off—Jimin actually believes him. “Your ex seemed pretty awful. I understand why you’re worried.”

“He is awful. He cheated on me.” Jimin is not sure why he volunteers this information so readily. Jungkook is terribly easy to talk to.

Jungkook grimaces. “Yikes. Sorry.”

“It’s okay. It wasn’t serious. But we’re coworkers, so it’s made everything really awkward.”

“Do you have to see him at work every day?”

Jimin shakes his head. “I work at Fila. It’s a huge office building, so we don’t work on the same floor. Tonight was actually the first time I’ve seen him since we broke up.”

“Oh, you work at Fila?” Jungkook asks, eyebrows raised. “That’s cool.”

“My job isn’t very cool,” Jimin admits. “I’m not like a designer, or a model, or anything even half as exciting as that. I’m just the assistant to the CEO.”

“I still think that’s cool,” Jungkook says. “You probably get to see a lot of the company’s inner workings, right? I’ve always found that stuff interesting.”

“Yeah, it can be interesting. And unpredictable. Plus, the CEO is super nice, which makes it a little more bearable.”

A guy comes up behind Jungkook and taps him on the shoulder. They’re around the same height, and he’s just as handsome as Jungkook—he has full lips, perfectly tousled hair, and the face of a model. Jimin stares for a couple of seconds longer than is probably appropriate.

“Hey! We’re going to go dance. Are you coming?”

Jungkook shakes his head. “Not yet. I’ll meet you out there.”

The man glances over at Jimin, then stares at Jungkook suspiciously, a mischievous glint in his eye. “Well, this is certainly not what I expected from you tonight, Jungkookie. I thought you said—”

“It’s not like that,” Jungkook says, cutting him off. “There was… um. There was a situation.”

“Jungkook is pretending to be my boyfriend,” Jimin offers helpfully. “Just pretending, though.”

“Well, he’s not doing a very good job,” the man says flatly. “Jungkook, I’ve taught you better than this, haven’t I? You literally live with an actor, and this is the end result? You look very obviously like two people who have only just met.”

“Well, we did just meet,” Jungkook says slowly.

“I have no idea what’s going on, but if you want this to be believable, I’m going to need you to take at least two steps closer to him—whatever your name is, short businessy person—and get a lot more flirty. Bat your eyelashes!”

“I’m—um, okay. Thank you for the advice… tall actor person?” Jimin says, his eyes slightly wide. 

“Seokjin,” he says, bowing a little. “Pleased to help. Please don’t actually tell me what’s going on here, though, because I have no desire to know. I’m going to go dance with my boyfriend now. Goodbye.”

Jimin laughs, and after the stress of his encounter with Hyungsik, he can physically feel some tension melting away as he does.

“He’s probably right,” Jungkook says. “He is an actor. He didn’t make that part up.”

Jimin blinks, wondering which part he did make up.

Jungkook takes a couple of steps forward, right into Jimin’s space, so close that Jimin can see the faint pilling of the fabric on his plaid flannel shirt. 

“It would probably be better if I…” he trails off, slipping one arm around Jimin’s waist, fingers splaying out across the small of Jimin’s back. “This is good. Right?”

Jimin nods. He’s had enough drinks to feel slightly unsteady on his feet, and it feels nice to have a big, steadying hand on him. Especially a big, steadying hand attached to someone this cute—as meaningless as it is.

Jimin looks up at him. He’s close enough to count Jungkook’s eyelashes, if he wanted to. “Yeah, this is good.”

“Okay. Cool.”

They’re silent for a moment. It should probably be awkward, but it feels fine. Good, even.

“So, where do you work?” Jimin asks.

“If you think your job is boring, mine will put you to sleep,” Jungkook says, smiling. He has a very kind face. “I’m a developer.”

“Like, you code stuff?”

Jungkook nods. “Websites. I work at a small agency that’s just a few blocks away from here.”

“And you get to dress like that for work?” Jimin asks, eyeing Jungkook’s flannel and cargo pants. He stares down at his own outfit—his rumpled dress shirt, his fitted grey slacks, his shiny boots. He looks awfully stuffy in comparison.

“Yeah. The nice thing about working in tech is that everything is more casual,” Jungkook says. “The dress code isn’t strict, and I never interact with our clients, so they don’t care about my tattoos.”

Jimin glances at the tattooed fingers wrapped around Jungkook’s beer glass. “How many do you have?”

“I stopped counting a couple of years ago.”

“A lot, then?”

Jungkook nods. “A whole sleeve. Plus some others.”

“Where?”

Jungkook smiles. “That’s for me to know and you to find out.”

Jimin blinks rapidly, his cheeks flushing. “How am I meant to find out—”

“Ah, sorry,” Jungkook says sheepishly, his palm rubbing up Jimin’s back a little. Jimin has to resist the urge to shiver. “I may have taken this role-playing scenario slightly too far.”

“It’s okay. I do appreciate your commitment to the role,” Jimin says, his eyes crinkling at the corners.

“I can’t have Seokjin kicking me out of my own home. I’m feeling the pressure.”

“I have tattoos too, actually,” Jimin says.

“Really?” Jungkook asks, sounding genuinely surprised. 

Jimin hums, holding up his wrist. At work, this one is usually covered by his long-sleeved dress shirts, but he has his sleeves rolled up now. 

“Pretty,” Jungkook murmurs. “You said tattoos—plural. There are more?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out,” Jimin says teasingly. 

Jungkook pokes at the inside of his cheek with his tongue. “Fair enough.”

“What do you—”

Jimin is cut off by a large hand clamping down on his shoulder. He jumps slightly. It’s Taehyung, his dark, wavy hair sticking out in a million different directions. “Jimin! There you are. Yoongi sent me on a search and rescue mission. What are you…” he trails off, glancing down and noticing Jungkook’s arm around Jimin’s waist. His eyebrows furrow. 

“Sorry. I ran into Hyungsik while I was up at the bar,” Jimin says. “I was so focused on getting away from him that I didn’t even end up paying for our drinks. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t care about the drinks,” Taehyung says. “I am actually more interested in hearing about...” he wildly gesticulates in Jungkook’s direction, nearly whacking Jimin in the face as he does it.

“I’m pretending to be his boyfriend,” Jungkook says.

“Huh?”

“I sort of, um, accosted him,” Jimin explains. “I acted like he was my boyfriend so that Hyungsik would leave me alone.”

Oh,” Taehyung says, nodding in understanding. “So now you’re committing to the bit?”

They both nod.

“Why are you helping him?” Taehyung asks Jungkook, his eyes narrowing. “What’s in it for you? Jimin isn’t ready to date again yet, you know. And he doesn’t do one night stands. So if you think you’re going to get in his—”

Jungkook’s cheeks turn a little pink and he rushes to cut Taehyung off. “No, I, um—that’s not why. I’m not interested in that right now, actually. I just felt kind of bad for him because his ex was really rude.”

“Oh, good. I love being pitied. Thank you,” Jimin says flatly.

Taehyung bursts out laughing.

“Oh, no, no, I didn’t mean—” Jungkook stammers, eyes round above his beer glass. “I don’t pity you. Not at all. I just meant I—I wanted to help.”

“I’m just messing with you,” Jimin says, tilting his head and smiling. Jungkook’s shoulders immediately relax.

“So you’re going to hang out with my Jiminie for the rest of the evening, then? Because that’s what you’ll have to do. Otherwise, Hyungsik will know you’re faking.”

Jimin is starting to feel a little guilty. When he’d grabbed Jungkook in the midst of his panic, he only figured Jungkook would need to help him out for a few minutes max. He didn’t fully think this through. How can he reasonably ask this complete stranger to ditch his friends for the night and hang out with him instead? He can’t.

“My friends are annoying,” Jungkook says, smiling sweetly, as if he’s reading Jimin’s mind. “You have no idea. I should be thanking you for giving me a convenient excuse to escape them tonight.”

“Seokjin didn’t seem annoying,” Jimin says. “He seemed… entertaining.”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong—I love him. But I’m only here with him and his boyfriend, so I’m like the third wheel, and it can sometimes be really awkward, because they’re really… well. Let’s just say they love each other a lot. Also, I live with him, so it’s not like I’m starved for his attention. Trust me. It’s fine.”

“I know exactly the type of couple you mean,” Jimin says dryly, turning to look at Taehyung.

Taehyung gasps. “Jimin, we have literally invited you into our bedroom. The door is always open—”

Jungkook’s eyebrows shoot up.

“I don’t think now is the time to discuss that!” Jimin says brightly, reaching up to pinch Taehyung’s cheek. “Please go tell Yoongi I’m fine. And order drinks, I guess, if you want. Sorry for abandoning you.”

“I’ll be watching you,” Taehyung says to Jungkook ominously. 

Then he makes his way up to the bar, leaving them alone again. At Jimin’s request, Jungkook tells him more about Seokjin and the variety of roles he’s been cast in, mostly minor roles in cable dramas. He never removes his hand from Jimin’s back, continuously rubbing his palm in small, slow circles. Jimin feels sort of like a cat being stroked—it feels good, and it’s physically relaxing him, and he knows he’s arching into the touch, which he hopes Jungkook doesn’t read into too much.

Taehyung reappears behind Jungkook after only a few minutes, reaching past him to hand Jimin a double gin and tonic. Jimin blinks in surprise, accepting it gratefully. 

“I figured you might need another drink to deal with… this situation,” Taehyung says, glancing at Jungkook meaningfully.

“What do you mean by that?” Jungkook asks, his eyebrows furrowed.

“Nothing. Just that Jimin does better with some extra lubrication in unorthodox social situations.”

“Why are we talking about lubrication?” Jimin groans, taking a big sip of his drink. 

“At least dance with him,” Taehyung says, ignoring the question and turning to Jungkook. “It doesn’t seem like Jimin is getting his money’s worth right now. That bothers me.”

“I didn't pay him, Taehyung.”

“I was speaking metaphorically.”

“I’m right here, you know,” Jungkook says. 

Behind Jimin, someone squeezes up towards the bar, pushing Jimin in closer towards Jungkook’s body. Jungkook seems unbothered—he just tightens his arm further around Jimin’s waist. 

It feels nice. Being touched by Jungkook, being this close to him—Jimin is surprised by how nice it feels. How easy it is. Jimin thinks that dancing with Jungkook would probably be a lot of fun. 

Taehyung is gone when Jimin looks up again, presumably to deliver drinks to Yoongi back at their booth. Jimin places a hand flat against Jungkook’s chest, and he can feel the sharp inhale that immediately follows. Jimin doesn’t know what to make of that. He surprised him, maybe. 

His chest is solid and muscular. The baggy flannel was doing a pretty good job of keeping that a secret. But now Jimin knows. He silently reminds himself that this is useless information. 

“I want to dance,” Jimin says. “And since you are my fake boyfriend, it feels appropriate for you to dance with me.”

“Do you just want to dance, or do you want to put on a show?” Jungkook asks, his eyes twinkling. 

Okay, dancing with Jungkook will definitely be a lot of fun.

Jimin’s eyes flicker over to the dance floor behind Jungkook. He can see Hyungsik near the far edge, now minus his suit jacket, and some scrawny little guy is grinding on him, arms looped around his neck—his date, presumably. 

“Let’s put on a show,” Jimin says, grabbing Jungkook’s hand and tugging him onto the dance floor. 

Jimin isn’t necessarily expecting Jungkook to be a very good dancer, but he takes the lead easily, his hands low on Jimin’s hips, pulling him in close. It’s easy and effortless, and more than anything, it’s fun—the DJ is playing song after song after song, but Jimin doesn’t feel like much time has passed at all. He’s losing himself to the music, just perfectly drunk enough to feel warm and buzzy and careless, and he all but forgets about the unpleasant situation that’s led him to dance with Jungkook in the first place. His world has narrowed down to the heavy thrum of the bass, the flashing lights above them, and the feeling of Jungkook’s warm, solid body against him.

Jungkook seems like he’s having fun, too. He’s all bright smiles and laughter and gentle touches, eyes solely focused on Jimin as they move perfectly in sync. Any outsider who glanced at the two of them would definitely assume that they were in love. Jimin can’t believe he’s picked such an excellent fake boyfriend. He’s rather proud of himself, actually.

“Is he looking?” Jungkook murmurs into Jimin’s ear after a while, pulling him in so close that their bodies are pressed together, front to front. Jimin tilts his head, gazing over Jungkook’s shoulder lazily. 

Hyungsik meets Jimin’s eye from across the dance floor.

“Staring,” Jimin replies, winding his arms around Jungkook’s neck.

“Mmm. Should we give him something to stare at, then?”

Jimin smiles up at him, playful and catlike.

Thanks to the alcohol buzzing through his bloodstream and the thrill of having Jungkook’s hands all over him, this is starting to feel less like a catastrophe and more like a game.

Jimin doesn’t say anything in response. Instead, he spins 180 degrees, backing up until their bodies are pressed together again and he’s grinding his ass against Jungkook’s front. Jungkook makes a strangled little noise in his ear. 

Jimin hums in satisfaction. Jungkook’s hands land on his waist, smoothing over the fabric of his dress shirt and skating along the top of his pants. Jimin can feel him breathing against his ear, warm and fast. 

“This seems fairly convincing,” Jungkook says quietly. His voice is rumbly, about an octave lower than before, tickling the shell of Jimin’s ear. 

“Mmm. Well, you’re an excellent actor. In fact, I think you’re probably giving Seokjin a run for his money,” Jimin purrs, rolling his hips again to the beat. Jungkook’s grip on his waist tightens. “The Academy Award goes to…” 

“Don’t let him hear you say that,” Jungkook says, puffing out a tiny laugh. “Also, stop acting like I’m the one doing all the work. I’d say you’re contributing just as much to our little ruse.”

“Am I?” Jimin murmurs, reaching a hand back to comb through Jungkook’s hair. It’s soft. “Well, it’s only fair that I do my part. I’m the one who dragged you into this, after all.”

“I do appreciate your commitment,” Jungkook says. He leans forward, nosing along Jimin’s jaw. Jimin stops breathing for a moment. “And it’s been a long time since I danced with anyone even half as fun as you.”

“I mean, I had to somehow make it worth your while.”

“You did,” Jungkook murmurs against Jimin’s skin, lips brushing against his jaw. Jimin shivers.

Jimin is liking this a little more than he expected, but he reminds himself that this is probably just a normal physical reaction to this kind of proximity. And that’s a good thing—the more into it he is, the more natural it will appear from the outside.

As he pushes back against Jungkook, leaning his weight into him as Jungkook’s palms skate up his sides, Jimin discovers he’s definitely not the only one enjoying himself. Not at all. There’s something suspiciously hard pressing right against his ass. It sends a thrill straight through him, making his stomach flutter. 

It means he’s doing a good job. But it also means he’s teetering a dangerous line.

Jimin spins around, looping his arms around Jungkook’s neck again, and Jungkook stares at him with a face that clearly reveals he knows he’s busted.

“Well, don’t you look like the cat who ate the canary,” Jimin sing-songs, fingertips dancing along the nape of Jungkook’s neck. “Having fun?”

“No one would be able to survive what you just did to me,” Jungkook says, pouting. It’s a sharp contrast to the low timbre of his voice.

“Maybe not,” Jimin murmurs, scratching at Jungkook’s scalp a little. He can’t help himself. 

“Is he still looking at you?” Jungkook asks quietly. The bass thumps loudly in Jimin’s ears, nearly drowning him out.

Jimin peers over Jungkook’s shoulder again. Hyungsik isn’t in the spot where Jimin saw him last. There’s a rowdy group of girls there now, all jumping up and down and screaming along to the song that’s currently playing. Jimin’s eyes scan across the crowd, and then he realizes with a jolt—Hyungsik is much closer to them now. There are only a few bodies between them. His date is still grinding on him very enthusiastically. Hyungsik’s eyes are closed, but then they flutter open, and he looks right at Jimin, a tiny smirk forming on his lips.

The eye contact isn’t pleasant. Jimin quickly turns his head, looking up at Jungkook again. He’d much rather feel the warmth of Jungkook’s gaze on him instead.

“Yes,” Jimin says. “He’s a lot closer to us now.”

“Do you still care what he thinks?”

Jimin swallows. He decides to respond honestly, even though he wishes the answer wasn’t true. 

“Yeah, I do.”

“Well, it seems like he wanted a better view,” Jungkook says. His hands slide up Jimin’s back, and Jimin hums. “So maybe your plan is working.”

“What was my plan, exactly?” Jimin asks hazily.

Jungkook laughs. “You’re asking me?”

“I don’t care about making him jealous,” Jimin admits. “I just didn’t want him to think that I was alone.”

“You’re not alone,” Jungkook says, almost too softly for Jimin to hear. 

Jimin stares up at him. His eyes are big enough to get lost in, mesmerizing and dark and slightly half-lidded. Jungkook’s looking at him with such an earnest expression that Jimin momentarily forgets how to speak. He can’t remember the last time someone looked at him like that—like they were willing to share all their secrets without a second thought.

You swore off men, Jimin silently reminds himself. This is just pretend. And he’s just pretending, like all the rest.

As long as he remembers that, everything will be fine.

Jimin allows himself to go molten underneath Jungkook’s hands again, warmth spreading everywhere he touches. He allows himself to enjoy this for exactly what it is: a ruse, and nothing more.

“Do you think he’s convinced?” Jimin asks, cocking his head. “That you’re my boyfriend?”

“That depends,” Jungkook says. “How convinced do you want him to be?”

Jungkook’s gaze flickers down to Jimin’s lips.

“Very,” Jimin murmurs quietly.

They’re barely dancing anymore, but Jimin doesn’t care much. He hardly notices the bodies jostling them on all sides, dancing and laughing and pushing.

Jungkook lifts a hand to Jimin’s face, cupping his cheek. Jimin tilts his chin up, leaning into the touch. Their noses brush. Neither of them move.

“Is this more convincing?” Jungkook breathes.

“Probably,” Jimin says. 

“Convincing enough, then?”

“No.”

“No?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Mmm,” Jungkook says, his thumb tracing over Jimin’s cheek. “You’re very demanding.”

“And yet you’re still playing along.”

Their noses brush again. Jimin fists Jungkook’s flannel in both hands, squeezing the fabric bunched together in his palms. There’s nothing but hard body underneath. It’s hot in here, and Jimin can feel how warm Jungkook is through the cotton. It’s a radiating heat. But it’s not unpleasant.

“Yes, I guess I am.”

“So then you must be having fun,” Jimin murmurs, tilting his chin up further. The blue and purple lights above the dance floor reflect in Jungkook’s eyes like tiny stars.

Jungkook’s thumb roams further down, gently tracing over Jimin’s bottom lip. Jungkook pushes against it. Jimin’s mouth falls open a little, his breath catching in his throat.

“Good?” Jungkook asks, breath hot against Jimin’s cheek.

“Kiss me,” Jimin whispers.

Jungkook smiles a small, knowing smile. 

“Only if it’s pretend,” he says, searching Jimin’s eyes. Jimin nods—perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

That seems to be all the confirmation Jungkook needs. He leans in, closing the tiny bit of remaining distance between them, lips pressing into Jimin’s, gentle fingers cupping his jaw.

Jungkook’s mouth is soft, and kissing him is easy, just like all the rest of this has been. It’s not logical, but it feels like the right thing to do. Jungkook hums against Jimin’s mouth, like he’s agreeing. 

It’s slow and cautious at first, neither of them sure how far to take it. They’re playing a game with no rulebook. But Jimin’s brain is chanting at him: more, more, more, so he tentatively sweeps his tongue across Jungkook’s bottom lip, and Jungkook reciprocates, opening up to let him in.

Jimin sighs into his mouth, and Jungkook’s hand trails around to the back of Jimin’s head, fingers tangling in his hair. He pulls a little, tilting Jimin’s head back for better access. 

Jimin should probably not be surprised that his hot, charming, perfect fake boyfriend is also fantastic at kissing. 

He’s also fantastic at pretending, apparently.

“More?” Jungkook murmurs, his other hand trailing down, fingertips grazing along the curve of Jimin’s ass. Jimin nearly moans, but he swallows it down, nipping on Jungkook’s bottom lip instead.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Jungkook says, smiling against him. He grips Jimin’s ass more firmly, cupping it in his hand, and Jimin arches his back, winding his arms around Jungkook’s neck, and then—

“Alright, loverboys, the show’s over.”

Jimin yanks back, frantically searching for the source of the voice in a daze. It’s Taehyung, looking very drunk, hovering so close to Jimin’s shoulder that he’s nearly got his head perched on top of it.

Jungkook hesitantly removes both hands from Jimin, taking a step back.

“We’re going home,” Taehyung announces. “Which means you have to come too, because we’re splitting the cab fare.”

“Oh. Right,” Jimin says, trying not to sound winded. He’s embarrassingly out of breath. “Okay. That’s fine.”

“Is he coming too?” Taehyung asks, turning to look at Jungkook meaningfully. As if this couldn’t possibly get any more awkward.

“Oh, no,” Jimin and Jungkook both say at the same time. Taehyung stares back and forth between them, one eyebrow raised.

They’re both silent for a moment.

“I guess your work here is done,” Jimin says, completely unsure of how to wrap up this sort of thing. 

“I guess so,” Jungkook says, running a hand through his hair, which is very messy now. He blows out a breath. “Yeah. Okay. Get home safe, okay?”

Jimin nods. “Yeah. Okay.”

Taehyung starts to pull Jimin away by the arm, and after a moment of looking quite uncertain, Jungkook turns to walk away.

Jimin suddenly feels a fleeting sense of panic. This is it? That can’t be right. He’ll never see Jungkook again?

But it is right, and that stings, although it shouldn’t. There would be no reason for him to see Jungkook again. None of what just happened was real. He was just a stranger. They both played the parts they were cast in, and now the play is over. 

Jimin blinks, allowing himself to be dragged across the dance floor and towards the back of the bar. 

“That didn’t look very fake to me,” Taehyung says under his breath, finally loosening his grip once they arrive back at their booth. Yoongi is sitting there, staring up at the two of them with a suspiciously neutral face.

“That just means we were doing a good job,” Jimin says defensively.

“Uh huh,” Taehyung says, reaching out a hand to help Yoongi up. “Hyungsik was staring at you every time I looked at him, so I guess it worked.”

“I guess so,” Jimin mumbles. He desperately needs another drink.

“Taehyung filled me in on your little scheme,” Yoongi says as he rises to his feet. “I’m actually quite impressed.”

“Thank you. I think,” Jimin says. “It’s been a while since I was complimented on… um, on a scheme.”

“Are you bringing him to the company gala next week, too, then?” Yoongi asks.

Every single one of Jimin’s thoughts comes crashing to a sudden halt. His brain makes the Windows shut-down noise and goes dark. He blinks as he fully registers Yoongi’s words.

“The gala,” he says slowly.

“Yes. I mean—did you not think about that? Hyungsik will expect this guy to be your plus one, if he’s supposedly your boyfriend. If you show up alone—”

Jimin doesn’t hear the rest. He’s already dashing across the bar, frantically searching for that blue flannel shirt in the crowd. 

Shit. Shit.

He emerges on the other side of the dance floor and scans the booths lining the far wall, pushing up onto his tip-toes. The bar is so packed that it’s nearly impossible to see, and he’s about to give up, but then he sees him—he’s just about to sit down, joining Seokjin and another guy who is already seated on the opposite side of the booth.

Jimin breathes out a sigh of relief, and then he quickly walks over, only realizing once he arrives in front of their booth that it probably would have been beneficial for him to spend at least, like, five seconds considering what he was going to say beforehand.

As he approaches, Jungkook looks up at him with round eyes and a mix of surprise and something else on his face that Jimin can’t quite figure out.

“Hi,” Jimin says. He clears his throat. “Can I talk to you?”

“Oh. Okay, sure,” Jungkook says, moving to slide back out of the booth.

Seokjin reaches out, grabbing Jungkook’s arm and pinning it to the table. 

Jimin’s eyes go wide. 

“Certainly there’s nothing you need to say to him that you can’t say here in front of us,” Seokjin proclaims, setting his beer down. “You stole my Jungkook for the entire evening, and I’m quite bitter about it. I’ve had to wait all this time to tell him about my latest expedition, and now you’re interrupting again.”

“Expedition?” Jimin asks, blinking.

“Yes. To the fish market.”

Jimin decides not to ask questions. “You know, you’re right. It’s nothing I can’t say here, actually.”

“I think you’re being a little scary,” the man across the table pipes up cheerfully, reaching out to pat Seokjin’s arm lovingly. “Let Jungkook have his fun.”

“Acting isn’t all fun and games, you know!” Seokjin says, turning to face Jimin. “If Jungkook had merely asked me for advice, I would have told him—”

“I’m so sorry,” the other man says to Jimin, reaching out and yanking him down until he’s forced to sit down in the booth, butt sliding across the cool wood as he settles in next to whom he assumes must be Seokjin’s boyfriend. “This is just how he is. And I enjoy it, for some reason. I am not sure why. Anyway, please ask Jungkook whatever you needed to ask him.”

Jimin glances at Jungkook across the table. He looks terribly apologetic. 

Jimin feels like he could either burst into panicked tears or hysterical laughter at any moment, but he’s not sure which.

“Well,” Jimin says, clearing his throat again. “I realized something. After we, um… said goodbye.”

“That you’re in love with him? You’re going to have to join the other fifty men lined up around his apartment block,” Seokjin says flatly.

“No—no, it’s nothing like that,” Jimin rushes to explain. “It’s just… there’s a gala I have to attend next week. And it’s a work thing, so my ex will be there. I didn’t think about it until my friend, um, my coworker, he said something. And it’s just—we’re supposed to bring a plus one, and if I show up by myself, I think it would be—”

“I’ll come,” Jungkook says with a tiny shrug, cutting him off.

Jimin blinks at him. “What?”

“I said I’ll come.”

“Oh,” Jimin says. “Okay. Um, cool.”

The guy sitting next to Jimin shoots a look across the table at Seokjin that Jimin doesn’t quite know how to translate.

“Why?” Seokjin demands. “I don’t understand this arrangement. Isn’t this rather one-sided? Perhaps you should consider charging him by the hour, Jungkook. You never were a very good businessman. There’s so much you could learn from me. Too bad you abandoned me tonight. Maybe don’t do that ever again. I don’t think you can afford it.”

“I’m not going to charge him,” Jungkook says. The sleeves of his flannel are rolled up to the elbows now, revealing a full sleeve of tattoos on his right arm. Jimin fleetingly wonders about the other ones he mentioned. Maybe he has one on his shoulder? Or on his thigh?

That’s for me to know and you to find out.

He blinks away the thought. This is not a thought that he should be thinking at all. He does not need to know if his fake boyfriend has a thigh tattoo.

“I had fun with you tonight,” Jungkook says. He looks a little shy all of a sudden. “Even if it was just pretend. So I don’t mind helping you again. I think you’re right that it would be suspicious—I mean, if you showed up to your party alone, when you’re supposed to have a boyfriend.”

“Yes. Exactly,” Jimin says. “I’m glad you agree.”

“When is it?” Jungkook asks.

“Next Saturday. It starts at five, I think. I’ll have to check the email.”

“Do I need to dress up?”

Jimin nods. “You can wear a suit, if you have one. Otherwise, just a dress shirt and tie would be okay. Nice pants. Like what you’d wear to an office.”

Jimin’s just starting to sober up enough that he’s beginning to get sleepy. He can’t believe he’s chatting with Jungkook about office apparel. This evening has certainly taken a turn.

“Just give him your number already,” Seokjin says, grabbing a cocktail napkin and shoving it across the table towards Jimin. He whips out a pen from—well, Jimin isn’t exactly sure where.

“Okay,” Jimin agrees, becoming increasingly more terrified of Seokjin with every passing second. He scrawls his number onto the napkin in a hurry, then passes it back across the table to Jungkook. Their fingers brush as Jungkook takes it, and then he folds it up carefully, sticking it into his shirt’s front pocket.

“I’m Hoseok, by the way,” the guy sitting next to Jimin says. He sticks out his hand, and Jimin shakes it awkwardly. “Seokjin will warm up to you. Don’t worry.”

“Oh? I didn’t anticipate that I’d ever have the chance to,” Seokjin says, his eyebrows furrowed.

“Maybe not,” Jimin says cheerfully, sliding out of the booth with great haste. “Jungkook, text me this week, okay? I’ll send you everything you need to know about the gala. And… thank you. For this, and for tonight. I owe you.”

Jungkook shakes his head. “Remember what I said about owing me? You don’t owe me anything. If I didn’t want to help you, I wouldn’t. Don’t worry about it.”

“Such a philanthropist,” Seokjin says, sighing.

“You make it sound like Jimin is a charity case,” Hoseok says, frowning.

“Well, he’s not wrong,” Jimin says. He’s not sure if he’s kidding. He might not be.

There’s a beat of awkward silence.

“I’ll text you,” Jungkook says, graciously giving Jimin permission to escape.

“Wait. The boy is looking,” Seokjin says as Jimin is about to turn and walk away.

“What?” Jimin asks, his heartbeat accelerating. He’s scared to turn around. “How do you even know who—”

Jungkook doesn’t even look. He just reaches out and grabs Jimin’s hand, pulling it to his mouth and kissing his palm briefly before letting go. 

“There you go. A slightly more believable goodbye,” he says.

Jimin feels dizzy. He pulls his hand back, flexing his fingers. 

Seokjin bursts into laughter, wheezing and windshield-wipery. They all turn to stare at him.

“He’s not looking. I was just fucking with you.”

Jungkook’s cheeks go pink. He smacks Seokjin on the shoulder, frowning. “This is serious! Don’t be an asshole.”

“Oh, please. You’ll both live. A little hand kiss never hurt anyone.”

Jungkook glares at him. 

“Okay, sorry, sorry. I just wanted to see how committed you were. You passed the test. I’m kind of surprised.”

“He is an amazing fake boyfriend,” Jimin says defensively. “The best I’ve ever had.”

“Have you had multiple fake boyfriends?” Hoseok asks, raising his eyebrows.

“Well, no.”

Seokjin hums like Jimin has just said something reprehensible.

“I’m going to go,” Jimin says. 

Jungkook smiles at him apologetically. “Okay. Get home safe. You’re going with your friends?”

Jimin nods. “Yeah. I’ll be okay.”

“Nice meeting you!” Hoseok says with a bright smile. 

Jungkook gives him a lingering look—one that could mean something, if it did, although Jimin knows it doesn’t.

And then Jimin is out of there, riding home in a cab with a clingy Taehyung, running fingers through Jimin’s hair and cooing about how badly he wants some ramyeon once they get home. 

Jimin is confused, and a little stressed, but he feels like he’s just successfully pulled off the greatest heist of the twenty-first century. 

 

  ҉    

 

Chapter Text

“What ended up happening to the call later? The one with the investors?” Namjoon asks, eyes flickering back and forth between his two computer screens as he rapidly types away on his keyboard. He’s wearing a navy suit today, his hair neatly combed back off his forehead, trademark wire-framed glasses perched on his nose.

“It’s still happening today, but it was bumped to 4:30,” Jimin says. He’s sitting with his legs crossed at one of the two tables in Namjoon’s large office, blonde hair falling down into his eyes, scanning through a contract and highlighting all the points he wants Namjoon to review. “I sent you an updated calendar invite a few minutes ago.”

“Thank you,” Namjoon says. He sounds distracted. “Also, sorry—did you talk to the events team about the gala? About the plants?”

“Yes, I did,” Jimin says. He can feel a smile creeping onto his face, but Namjoon would give him hell if he saw him smirking about this, so he tries to mask it as best as he can. “They weren’t happy, but in the end, what you say goes. I gave them three different leads for real ferns. They shouldn’t have much trouble sourcing them.”

“Oh, thank God,” Namjoon says, rolling back in his desk chair and wiping a hand down his face. “I would have been so mortified. I’m so glad you saw the purchase order. This is why you’re never allowed to quit—this place would fall apart without you.”

The theme of this year’s company gala is Growth/Renewal, and the decor is nature-inspired: bright and airy with lots of greenery and plants. Namjoon said he wanted everyone to feel like they were in a rainforest or a jungle. Jimin thinks this is actually just a thinly veiled excuse for Namjoon to spend an evening surrounded by plants, but the theme seems nice enough.

When Jimin was thumbing through a pile of documents that needed Namjoon’s approval, he spotted a purchase order for over 200 artificial ferns. Fake plants. Jimin had nearly choked on his coffee. They were probably ordered by some intern in the events department who doesn’t know anything about Namjoon or his… well, his quirks. 

Jimin brought it to Namjoon’s attention, as he was obligated to do, and when he showed Namjoon the order, Namjoon’s face was painted with such comical horror that you’d think the intern had committed murder. To Namjoon, actually, buying plastic trees was far worse than that.

It was all sorted out in the end. Jimin gave the events team a heads up about their grave mistake, and he even went the extra mile and researched a few places they might be able to find some real plants that were similar to the fake ones they’d ordered. With the gala quickly approaching on Saturday, he caught the mistake in the nick of time.

It might seem like Jimin went out of his way to fix the plant catastrophe because he’s a stellar employee—and sure, maybe he is—but his actual motivation was rather selfish. Jimin spends about 50% of each workday right by Namjoon’s side, and if Namjoon is happy, then Jimin’s days are much easier.

It’s not that Namjoon is difficult to work with when he’s not happy. He seems to be much more kind and easygoing than the other CEOs Jimin has encountered during the course of his work at Fila. But when he’s having a good day, he tends to ask Jimin for less, which means Jimin has more time for all the other work he needs to get done.

This particular Monday has been busier than usual, with multiple appointments that needed rescheduling to accommodate Namjoon’s ever-changing schedule, plus a slew of documents for Jimin to comb through related to an upcoming round of investment funding for one of Fila’s subsidiaries. His brain is already halfway to fried and he hasn’t even taken his lunch break yet.

When Jimin tells people that he’s Namjoon’s assistant, they often assume he’s something like a secretary—taking care of Namjoon’s dry cleaning, bringing him coffee, doting on his every need. In reality, it’s nothing like that at all. Jimin has a business degree and previous experience in the corporate world, and Namjoon wanted an assistant who would do more than just wait on him hand and foot—he wanted a confidant, a consultant, a jack-of-all-trades with a brain big enough to help him with literally anything he needed. And for the past two years, Jimin has done exactly that.

“You haven’t eaten lunch yet, have you?” Namjoon asks, glancing down at his watch. “It’s almost two.”

“Not yet,” Jimin admits, scanning through the final page of the contract and sorting the papers in front of him into a neat stack. “I lost track of time.”

“Why don’t you go eat? The paperwork will still be here when you get back, I’m sure.”

On cue, Jimin’s stomach grumbles loudly. Jimin winces. “Yeah, I probably should eat something. You need anything before I go?”

Namjoon shakes his head, taking his glasses off and setting them on the desk. “I’m good. I’ll be busy this afternoon—I’ve got a few calls. Just pop back in here before the meeting at 4:30, okay?”

Jimin nods. “Will do.” 

After dropping the freshly highlighted contract onto Namjoon’s desk, Jimin heads out of Namjoon’s office, then down the hall to his own office, which is much smaller and far less sunny. There’s barely enough room for his desk and a single chair in the corner. It could be worse, he figures—at least he has a window, even if it’s small. There are lots of offices in the building with no windows at all.

He shrugs off his gray suit jacket, rolling his shoulders and throwing the jacket over the back of his desk chair. Then he picks up his cell phone off his desk, planning to order some food for delivery. He’d been in too much of a rush this morning to pack his lunch like he normally does.

When the screen lights up, he almost ignores the long list of notifications that have accumulated since this morning, but then something catches his eye—a few texts from an unknown number that isn’t in his contact list.

He swipes up on the notification.

 

+011-0901-0613 12:23PM

hey, it’s jungkook. from the bar

+011-0901-0613 12:24PM

your fake boyfriend

 

Jimin stares down at the messages in surprise. After Sunday came and went without a text, Jimin honestly wasn’t sure if Jungkook was going to message him. He was starting to think maybe Jungkook regretted saying he’d come as Jimin’s date to the gala. Jimin had purposely left the ball in Jungkook’s court—he’d asked a lot of him, after all, and he didn’t want to be too pushy about it. 

But now the ball has been returned, and Jimin is happier about that than he anticipated. He’s borderline giddy, actually. 

And that’s probably bad. He shakes his head, frowning. He does not need to develop a crush on his fake boyfriend. He barely knows anything about him, anyway. Just that he’s a web developer, and probably smart, and definitely hot, and very good at kissing, and also willingly pretending to be dating him. Jimin hasn’t managed to figure out that part quite yet. 

Jungkook probably has some skeleton in the closet that makes him undateable, Jimin thinks. Why would he be single, otherwise? Maybe he’s a convicted felon. Maybe he’s in the witness protection program and doesn’t allow himself to get too close to anyone. 

Jimin adds Jungkook’s number to his contact list, entering him in as “boyfriend” with a sparkly heart emoji.

He chews on the inside of his cheek for a moment, pondering how to respond. The temptation to flirt is overwhelming. But that’s unnecessary—no one is watching their text conversation, after all. 

He ends up firing off a single message: wow, you actually texted me. Less than a minute later, his phone lights up with another notification.

 

boyfriend 💖 2:03PM

did you think i wouldn’t?

jimin 2:04PM

i mean, kind of?

boyfriend 💖 2:04PM

that’s offensive. i’m a man of my word

jimin 2:05PM

sorry to offend you, mr. honorable. i guess i need to stay on your good side if i still want you to accompany me to the gala

boyfriend 💖 2:07PM

that’s why i texted you. can you send me the info? like, the address and time and stuff? also, it would be nice to know what it is, exactly? those of us who aren’t corporate hotshots don’t attend galas very frequently

jimin 2:09PM

yeah, i’ll check the email invite later and send everything over. it’s our annual celebration for employees… it’s basically just a wild party with a fancy dress code. there’s dinner and drinks and dancing, and they give out awards, which is kind of fun, but it’s mainly an excuse for everyone to get really drunk 

boyfriend 💖 2:10PM

that actually doesn’t sound as bad as i thought it was going to be

jimin 2:11PM

i’m happy to hear you assumed that being my date was going to be a bad time

boyfriend 💖 2:11PM

that is not what i meant and you know it 

jimin 2:12PM

i did not know it. in fact, i hardly know you at all. which may prove to be problematic when i am parading you around in front of all my coworkers and they start to ask me questions about you

boyfriend 💖 2:13PM

just make up the answers! that’s more fun anyway

jimin 2:13PM

i was going to suggest that i ask you a few questions to get to know you better but i suppose that’s also an alternative

boyfriend 💖 2:15PM

jimin, where did your boyfriend grow up? “on mars”
jimin, how did you meet your boyfriend? “in a sex shop. he was the cashier. i was buying a dildo. it was fate i think”
jimin, how old is your boyfriend? “he’s 85. love has no age limit”

jimin 2:15PM

wait, how old are you actually?

boyfriend 💖 2:16PM

i’m 24

jimin 2:16PM

ah. just a baby

boyfriend 💖 2:17PM

i feel much older. life is exhausting

jimin 2:17PM

aren’t you going to ask how old i am?

boyfriend 💖 2:18PM

wasn’t planning on it

jimin 2:18PM

i’m 26

boyfriend 💖 2:18PM

thank you for sharing

jimin 2:19PM

i don’t remember you being this sassy when we were at the bar

boyfriend 💖 2:20PM

really? maybe that’s because you were drunk

jimin 2:20PM

i wasn’t THAT drunk

boyfriend 💖 2:21PM

i mean, you were drunk enough to make out with me and let me grab your butt

jimin 2:22PM

oh so we’re just going to… acknowledge that. i assumed we would never discuss that again

boyfriend 💖 2:23PM

it’s only awkward if you make it awkward! which you kind of are, now! thank you!

jimin 2:24PM

you’re welcome. let’s keep the ass grabbing to a minimum at my company function. i have a reputation to uphold

boyfriend 💖 2:25PM

that’s fine. can i kiss you though?

 

Jimin stares down at his phone with wide eyes, his cheeks going pink. He takes a minute to respond, which unfortunately inserts an awkward pause into their rapidfire back-and-forth conversation. He hopes Jungkook won’t realize that it’s because he got flustered.

 

jimin 2:28PM

yes, you should. but keep it chaste. no tongue

boyfriend 💖 2:28PM

that’s no fun :(

jimin 2:29PM

my coworkers do not need to see you sticking your tongue down my throat

boyfriend 💖 2:30PM

look, i’m just trying to keep things believable. it’s what i was hired to do

jimin 2:31PM

i did not hire you. you volunteered

boyfriend 💖 2:31PM

yeah after you literally sprinted across the bar and nearly fell to your knees begging me to come

jimin 2:32PM

to the gala. come to the gala

boyfriend 💖 2:32PM

yes?

jimin 2:33PM

i just wanted to clarify because you very much made it sound like something else

boyfriend 💖 2:33PM

i guess i should not be surprised you are this filthy

jimin 2:34PM

???? are you flirting with me

boyfriend 💖 2:34PM

haven’t you ever heard of method acting

jimin 2:35PM

is seokjin pressuring you into this. does he want you to burst onto the acting scene or something

boyfriend 💖 2:36PM

he is not. i actually haven’t seen him in like two days. he gets home late from shooting and i’ve been busy with work

jimin 2:36PM

must not be that busy considering you’ve spent the last 30 minutes texting me

boyfriend 💖 2:37PM

i needed a break from CSS. can you really blame me

jimin 2:37PM

i literally have no idea what that is

boyfriend 💖 2:38PM

i’m honestly so jealous 

jimin 2:38PM

well this little conversation was nice and weird but i am starving and need to order food and get back to my job thank you

boyfriend 💖 2:38PM

ok! don’t forget to send me the info

jimin 2:39PM

i’ll send it when i’m done work. also to be completely serious for a moment: thank you, i really appreciate that you are coming with me

boyfriend 💖 2:40PM

don’t worry about it. i’ve never been one to turn down a free meal. plus i’m bulking right now

jimin 2:40PM

does that mean trying to get bigger? it didn’t seem to me like you need to do that at all????

boyfriend 💖 2:41PM

oh really? how interesting to know that you feel that way

jimin 2:42PM

BYE

 

Jimin ends up hastily scarfing down his delivery jajangmyeon while simultaneously responding to emails, since he wasted away most of his lunch hour texting Jungkook. But strangely enough, he doesn’t regret it. The conversation left him with a warm glow in his chest. Talking to Jungkook was fun

Everything about Jungkook seems fun, actually. Even if the boyfriend part has to stay fake, Jimin wonders if maybe they could be friends after this is all over. It’s been a long time since someone made him smile until his cheeks hurt. 

 

  ҉  

 

When Saturday arrives, Jimin is less nervous than he anticipated. Namjoon was insistent that he wanted Jimin to be able to kick back and actually enjoy the party, so his day-of responsibilities are basically zero. He had to make sure Namjoon’s notes were prepared for his speech, but that was about it, and he was able to take care of that the day prior. 

And surprisingly, Jimin doesn’t feel that strongly about seeing Hyungsik again. Seeing him at the bar seemed to adequately relieve those first-time jitters. He does care about keeping up appearances, though, because he would be horrified if Hyungsik found out he had lied—so he’s grateful that Jungkook will be there with him tonight. 

Jimin thought he might feel anxious about spending the evening with Jungkook, but it turns out he’s mainly just excited. Jungkook already proved himself to be an excellent date while they were at the bar—and a fabulous actor, to boot. Jimin doesn’t think he has anything to worry about at all.

The gala is being held at a gorgeous venue on the water—all natural wood and tall ceilings and open air, decked out from top to bottom with lush greenery. The open space has been set up with dozens of tables for everyone to sit and eat dinner, along with multiple bars scattered along the perimeter, and there’s a podium near the front where Namjoon will give his speech and announce the annual employee award winners.

Jimin shares a cab with Taehyung, who’s attending as Yoongi’s plus one. Having Jungkook come meet them at their apartment seemed like overkill, so Jimin ended up just texting him all the details and asking him to meet them at the venue. 

When they arrive, Jungkook is already waiting in the lobby, off in the corner by himself and staring down at his phone. It takes Jimin a moment to spot him, because he looks like a completely different person than that night they met at the bar. That messy-haired, flannel-clad boy is nowhere to be found. His hair has been tamed and combed back away from his forehead, and he’s in a fitted black suit with the jacket unbuttoned. He’s wearing a white dress shirt underneath and no tie. 

This outfit does a much better job of revealing his anatomy than the baggy bar ensemble did. The suit is tailored to fit him like a glove, the pants tightly hugging every curve of his muscular thighs, the black leather belt cinching and accenting his deceptively slim waist. Honestly, he looks like he just walked off a cover shoot for some swanky fashion magazine. In other words: he’s scary hot.

“You sure clean up well,” Jimin says teasingly as he and Taehyung approach. Jungkook looks up from his phone with a small jolt, his eyes wide, then smiles when he sees it’s Jimin.

“Jumpy,” Taehyung comments. “Suspicious.”

Jimin gives Taehyung a look.

“You look great,” Jungkook says, appraising Jimin from head to toe. He leans in slightly, lowering his voice. “How nice of you to get all dressed up just so that I can take it all off you later.”

Taehyung gasps, eyes going round. He looks completely scandalized. Jimin just bursts out laughing, covering his face with his hand.

“What? Was that too far?” Jungkook asks, looking back and forth between them. “Maybe I shouldn’t have listened to Seokjin’s advice. You know, now that I’m saying it out loud, I’m realizing I really probably shouldn’t have listened to Seokjin’s advice.”

“Did he give you a script?” Jimin asks, still laughing.

“He told me that he would do the dishes for a whole week if I promised to use the lines he gave me,” Jungkook groans. “I think he just likes feeling important.”

“I don’t think you need his lines,” Jimin says with a shrug. “You performed perfectly well at the bar with no coaching at all.”

Jimin does look great. That much is true. He’s wearing his favorite suit with a skinny tie and a perfectly shiny pair of boots. His blonde hair is styled in a deep side part with one side swept back. He’s wearing his most expensive cologne and his nicest watch, both of which he reserves for special events only. 

“There you are,” Yoongi says, approaching them from the other side of the lobby. He slides an arm around Taehyung’s waist, and Taehyung leans in, kissing him for about two or three seconds longer than is probably appropriate for this hour of the evening. 

When Taehyung pulls back, he gives Jungkook a pointed look. “That’s how couples usually greet each other, you know.”

“Hyungsik isn’t around, though,” Jimin says, glancing around the lobby inconspicuously. 

“This goes beyond him now,” Yoongi says. “If you’ve brought Jungkook here, you’ve got to make sure the whole company believes it. Otherwise, you know someone will tell Hyungsik the second they catch you faking. This office is full of snitches.”

“You’re right,” Jungkook says, nodding in agreement. He steps forward, and before Jimin even really has a chance to get nervous about it, Jungkook places his hand on the small of his back, pulling him in. Their lips brush for a moment, and then Jungkook kisses him. It’s soft and sweet. He tastes like coconut lip balm.

Jimin is very taken aback.

“Oh,” Jimin says, pulling away. He blinks, hand coming up to touch his lips. “Hi.”

“That’s better,” Taehyung says cheerfully. “That was very believable. Jimin, I think you’re blushing. Can you teach me how to blush on command? I think that would come in handy for me.”

“I am?” Jimin asks, pressing a palm to his right cheek.

Jimin looks up at Jungkook. His eyes are sparkling. But it seems like they are always somewhat sparkly, so this is probably normal.

“You’re so easy to fluster,” Jungkook murmurs under his breath with a tiny smile, sliding his hands into his pockets.

“Your job is not to fluster me,” Jimin says flatly. “Your job is to dote on me and make it seem like we are very much in love.”

“Being flustered is part of being in love,” Yoongi chimes in helpfully.

“I don’t think anyone is going to expect you to be in love, anyway. Not after you’ve only been together for… what, a week?” Taehyung asks. “You’d still be in the infatuation stage at this point.”

“We still are in the infatuation stage,” Jungkook says. “Not would be. My point is that we should stop discussing this out loud. We’re at risk of blowing our cover.”

“You are so good at this,” Jimin says, reaching out and squeezing his shoulder. It feels like squeezing a rock. “You are truly the best fake boyfriend I could ask for.”

“Don’t say that out loud,” Jungkook hisses with wide eyes. “Did you not listen to what I just said?”

“Guess not,” Jimin says with a shrug, grabbing his arm and pulling him towards the main entrance to the event space. “Let’s get a drink.”

Taehyung and Yoongi trail behind them. They walk through a huge archway constructed out of lush, fragrant plants—all real, of course—and then they’re in the main space, already crowded with people, where appetizers are currently being served by waitstaff floating their way around the tables. 

“You guys go get drinks,” Taehyung says, veering off in the other direction. “Order me a glass of cabernet, please. I’m going to grab us a table so we don’t end up being forced to sit with weirdos.”

“Are you not aware that... you are a weirdo?” Yoongi asks. “Surely you must know—”

Taehyung doesn’t answer. He just waves a hand in the air, his back turned as he weaves his way through the crowd.

Jimin makes his way towards the closest bar, and Jungkook trails behind him, doing the stereotypical boyfriend-in-a-crowd thing, one hand lightly pressed to his back, steering him gently through the empty spaces between mingling employees. A few people stare at them for a little too long. After all the buzz that his breakup with Hyungsik created, Jimin knows the office busibodies must be thrilled to see him with someone new so soon. And he’s happy to give them something else to talk about.

After they order their drinks, they crane their necks to find Taehyung, and they eventually spot him all the way on the opposite side of the space. He’s sitting at a table with Hana, a woman from the marketing department who Jimin is somewhat acquainted with, along with her wife. 

As fate would have it, while they’re making their way through the crowd, Jimin almost slams directly into Hyungsik, who is walking and talking while looking over his shoulder and not even paying the slightest amount of attention. 

Hyungsik stops, and then when he looks down and realizes it’s Jimin he’s nearly collided with, he rolls his eyes. Jimin glares at him.

“You should probably watch where you’re going,” Jungkook says calmly, his jaw ticking. 

“Oh, it’s you,” Hyungsik says, laughing in disbelief. “Wow. Can’t say I expected to see you again. Honestly, when Jimin said you were his boyfriend, I wondered if he was lying.”

Jimin is not at all drunk enough to handle this situation. He tries to plaster an insulted look on his face and prays he doesn’t look caught out. 

“That’s offensive,” Jungkook says, still using that low, unbothered voice. “Just because Jimin is way out of my league doesn’t mean our relationship isn’t legitimate. I’ll have you know that I actually have a number of redeeming qualities, despite my subpar looks. Now if you’ll excuse us.”

Hyungsik huffs, shaking his head as Jungkook ushers Jimin past him and guides him in the direction of their table. 

“Subpar looks,” Jimin says dryly. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Compared to you? Yeah.”

Jimin’s eyebrows furrow. “Wait. You weren’t kidding? I thought you were just trying to throw him off.”

They arrive at the table, and Jungkook pulls out Jimin’s chair before sitting down in his own. “I mean, I was trying to throw him off, but I still meant what I said.”

“Wha—”

“Wine!” Taehyung exclaims giddily, making grabby hands at the glass Jimin is holding. Jimin passes it to him, frowning. 

“You look like you need to start drinking,” Yoongi says to Jimin. “Also, Hana is already two drinks ahead of us. We need to catch up.”

Hana giggles from behind her half-empty wine glass. “I always try to get at least four drinks deep before the speeches start. You know how long-winded Namjoon can be.”

“I know that better than anyone,” Jimin says, laughing. “Hana, I don’t think I’ve met your wife?”

“Oh, you’re right,” she says, beaming. She turns to the woman next to her, who’s very pretty—she’s wearing a fitted red dress with matching red lipstick. “This is Hayoon. She’s a physiotherapist.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jimin tells her. 

“Nice to meet you, too,” she says, smiling politely. “Do you work directly with Hana?”

“Not directly,” Jimin explains. “I’m the assistant to the CEO. But our paths do cross from time to time. I interface with pretty much every single department during the course of my regular responsibilities.”

“Ah, Namjoon’s assistant,” Hayoon says, clucking her tongue. “How is that?”

“It’s honestly pretty fun,” Jimin says, taking a big sip of his wine. He’s got to catch up, especially if he’s going to be forced to engage in the medieval torture that is small talk. “Namjoon’s very easygoing. And my work is different every single day, so it’s never boring.”

“Jimin’s job is definitely more exciting than mine,” Hana says, draining the rest of her wine glass. “I spend all day every day herding my employees like they’re chickens escaped from the coop. Now, please do tell me... who’s this handsome young gentleman you’ve brought with you?” she asks, looking over to Jungkook.

“Oh,” Jimin begins. “Well, it’s kind of a long—”

Jungkook stomps on Jimin’s foot under the table.

It hurts like a bitch. It takes all of Jimin’s human strength to not immediately release a long string of expletives. He coughs into his wine, wincing. 

“Oh dear—are you alright?” Hayoon asks, looking concerned.

“Just went down the wrong pipe,” Jimin says weakly, clearing his throat. 

Jungkook’s message is received loud and clear. Jimin can’t let anyone in on their secret if this is going to work.

“This is my boyfriend, Jungkook,” Jimin says with a small sigh.

Jungkook smiles, and a tiny dimple pokes into his left cheek. Jimin hadn’t noticed it before. “It’s nice to meet you both,” he says.

“Oh? Your boyfriend?” Hana asks, blinking. “Jimin, I certainly don’t mean to pry, but wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that—”

“Hana,” Hayoon says, interrupting her and reaching out to touch her forearm. “I don’t even know exactly what you’re planning on asking, but I can already tell it’s going to be terribly inappropriate.”

Hana smiles sheepishly. “Maybe it’s the wine.”

Well, one thing’s confirmed: every damn person employed by this company is an insatiable gossip. 

“It’s okay,” Jimin says, wishing he could somehow magically summon another glass of wine from the bar. “Yes, I was in a relationship with someone else until very recently. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on dating again so soon, but… life has a funny way of opening doors when you least expect it, I guess.”

“That is literally the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard,” Taehyung says, popping a shrimp into his mouth that he’s just snagged from one of the wandering waitstaff. 

“That’s because he is cheesy,” Jungkook says wistfully. “It’s one of my favorite things about him, actually.”

Jungkook literally has no idea whether or not Jimin is actually cheesy, but he delivers the compliment with an impressive amount of conviction.

“Thank you,” Jimin says, tearing off a small piece of the slice of crusty bread in front of him and feeding it to Jungkook. It’s supposed to seem like a loving gesture, but it ends up looking more like he’s feeding a baby bird.

Yoongi dissolves into laughter across the table.

“You’ve been awfully quiet, Yoongi,” Jimin says with a saccharine smile and a threatening glare. “Why don’t you tell us about your team’s new project? You know the one, with the—with the thing, and the people.”

Yoongi blinks at him.

“Yeah, the people thing,” Taehyung says brightly. “With the thing and the people! He’s been talking about that one a lot lately. Very thrilling.”

Apparently sensing that Jimin is trying to shift the topic of conversation away from his relationship status, Yoongi launches into a story about a project that Jimin is 99% sure is completely made up. Jimin nods along enthusiastically like he’s familiar with all the details, and he somehow manages to keep a straight face—even when Yoongi inserts three different acronyms into one sentence, rattling off a comical jumble of letters that Jimin knows doesn’t actually stand for anything at all.

Thankfully, as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon and the three-course dinner is served, the conversation starts to get a little easier, largely thanks to all the alcohol they’re consuming. The collection of empty bottles and glasses on the table has begun to accumulate into quite the impressive hoard.

They’re all taking turns getting up and ordering rounds of drinks for everyone at the bar, and they even had Yoongi take an extra turn, stashing an extra round of beers at the table, since the bars will be temporarily shut down during Namjoon’s speech and the awards presentation. Jimin feels a deep pang of sympathy for all the employees hired over the past year who are attending the gala for the very first time and are unaware of this fact.

The dance floor always opens up right after the award presentation is done—and seasoned professionals like Jimin, Yoongi, and Hana are always well-lubricated enough in time to hit it right away. Luckily, it seems like Jungkook can hold his liquor fairly well, and he’s keeping up with them round for round. He’s the perfect drinking companion, dapper and composed. And he’s polite, making well-mannered conversation with everyone at the table throughout the meal. Jimin is starting to wonder if he has any flaws.

Jimin excuses himself for five minutes to check up on Namjoon and make sure he’s ready for his speech, but everything has gone according to plan and his notes are all in order, so Namjoon shoos him back to his table, telling him to have fun (“but not too much fun.”) Jimin grabs another drink for himself and Jungkook just before the bar closes, and he slides back into his seat just as Namjoon is taking his place at the podium and a hush is falling over the crowd.

“Welcome, everyone,” he says, dressed in a black suit, leaning down to speak into the mic, which is slightly too low for him. Jimin makes a mental note to scold the events team about that later. “Thank you so much for joining us here tonight. As you know, this celebration is about you. We’re here to honor all your incredible accomplishments over the past year.” He pauses, allowing the audience to applaud for a few seconds. “I’d also love to take the opportunity to share a little bit about the direction I see Fila heading in the next year. There are so many amazing things we’re going to do together.”

“He looks young to be the CEO,” Jungkook whispers, leaning in close to Jimin’s ear.

“He is,” Jimin whispers back. “He’s barely 30.” 

“How did that happen?” Jungkook asks, eyebrows furrowed.

“His dad was the CEO before,” Jimin explains. “But he got sick and had to step down. Everyone thought that his brother—Namjoon’s uncle—would be appointed as CEO, but Namjoon’s dad surprised everyone and appointed Namjoon instead. He was working in accounting at the time. It blew everyone away. But he’s been CEO for a couple of years now, and he’s done an amazing job, so he’s earned a lot of trust.”

Jungkook nods, not saying anything else, turning his focus back to Namjoon’s speech.

It goes by rather quickly, at least compared to prior years. He touches on some of Fila’s greatest achievements over the past 12 months, thanks a few departments in particular for all their hard work, and then he talks a little bit about his vision for what Fila will accomplish over the next year. If Jimin was sober, it would probably feel longer, but he’s buzzed enough to feel warm and giddy and content right where he is.

Plus, he keeps stealing glances at Jungkook, which is fun. Why is it fun? He doesn’t know, nor does he plan on trying to figure it out. It just is

There’s no break between Namjoon’s speech and the awards ceremony—after a long moment where everyone gives him a round of applause, rising to their feet, he pulls out a new stack of notecards and straightens the edges, knocking them against the podium. Jimin hasn’t seen these notes. The award winners are kept confidential from pretty much everyone until they’re announced.

“As you know, these annual awards are meant to recognize the best of the best here at Fila. The employees who have worked relentlessly over the past year, going above and beyond to leave a legacy behind them. To those of you who are about to receive this award tonight: your work hasn’t gone unnoticed, and I hope this will help demonstrate our deep appreciation for you.”

The audience applauds, tittering nervously. Jungkook leans over to Jimin, whispering: “Are these awards a big deal or something?”

Jimin nods. “Getting one is pretty much the highest honor you can receive here. Plus, everyone who wins goes on a trip,” he whispers back. “Apparently it’s a lot of fun.”

“I think you’ll win,” Jungkook says matter-of-factly.

Jimin laughs. “No, I don’t think I’ve worked here long enough. Usually it’s people who have been around for a long time.”

Yoongi dramatically shushes them from across the table.

“As many of you already know, everyone who’s honored tonight will be awarded with an all-expenses-paid trip next month. This year, we’ll be spending four days at a resort on Jeju Island.” The crowd oohs and aahs, and Namjoon smiles. “After last year’s experience on the mountaintop, we decided to go with something a little more traditional this year.”

“Apparently people with a fear of heights didn’t fare so well when they showed up and realized the accommodations were perched right on the edge of a mountain,” Jimin whispers to Jungkook. “Some people went home early because they were too worried about plunging to their deaths.”

“Ungrateful,” Jungkook whispers. 

“Stop,” Jimin whispers back, laughing quietly.

The awards presentation begins. Namjoon gives a brief introduction for each person, submitted by whoever nominated them for the award, then the winner walks up to the podium to collect their engraved glass trophy, which is an intricate sculpture of the Fila logo.

There are usually about 20 winners, and Namjoon makes quick work of running through the list. There’s a woman from HR, someone from the marketing department who’s relatively new, a man from the product design team, a seasoned member of the PR department, and one of the custodial staff. They’re all absolutely delighted to receive the award, smiling wide and bowing and practically bouncing back to their seats, and it’s heartwarming to see them all so happy.

“It is my personal honor to be presenting this next award, which is also the last award of the evening,” Namjoon says at the podium. “I’ve been lucky enough to work side-by-side with this person for over two years now. His work ethic is second to none and he’s an absolute joy to be around. His warmth and positive attitude is contagious. And he puts up with me every day—that alone makes him deserving of an award, I think.”

The crowd laughs politely. 

Jimin’s mouth falls open a little.

Namjoon meets Jimin’s eye in the crowd and smiles. “Please congratulate Park Jimin, my assistant, for winning this year’s Fila Excellence award.”

Jungkook bursts into applause next to him, beaming like he’s known Jimin for years. It’s very convincing. Jimin rises to his feet in shock, weaving his way through the tables as he makes his way up to the podium. He really was not expecting this at all.

“Congratulations,” Namjoon says to Jimin, stepping away from the mic and handing him the trophy. “You’ve earned this.”

“Thank you so much,” Jimin says, bowing. He laughs incredulously. “Honestly, I can’t believe this.”

Namjoon slaps him on the back gently. “You should. You’re more deserving than anyone. Now go celebrate. I’ll catch up with you later.”

Jimin bows again, then returns to his table with the award, smiling politely at the people at other tables whispering their congratulations to him on his way back.

“Congratulations, you motherfucker,” Yoongi says as Jimin is sitting down. For Yoongi, this is a term of endearment. “I’m going to have to bust my ass for the next ten years before I’m ever considered for one of those.”

“I think working for Namjoon probably gave me a slight advantage,” Jimin says sheepishly, touching his hair to make sure the swept-back style is still holding.

“False,” Taehyung declares. “You deserve every award in existence. If it were up to me, you would have a Nobel Peace Prize by now, a Pulitzer Prize, the Order of Cultural Merit—”

“I agree,” Jungkook says, nodding.

“What has he done to deserve any of those, exactly?” Yoongi asks, one eyebrow raised.

“Everyone loves him,” Taehyung says. “I love him. His parents love him. Animals love him. Jungkook loves him.”

Jungkook chokes on his beer a little. 

“I think you have to do a bit more than be widely loved to win a Nobel Peace Prize,” Yoongi says to Taehyung. He says it kindly and with sympathy, like it’s understandable that Taehyung doesn’t actually know this.

“We should be congratulating Jungkook, too,” Hana says from across the table. 

Jungkook blinks. “What do you mean?”

It dawns on Jimin, then, what she’s going to say. What he hadn’t thought about until now. He has to fight the urge to clutch his head in his hands. 

“All the award winners are allowed to bring a plus one for the trip!” Hana says, glancing over at her wife. “Hayoon has been harassing me for years because I haven’t won yet. She really wants a free vacation.”

“I just think it would be nice,” Hayoon says, pouting.

“Anyway, I guess you’re going to Jeju!” Hana says to Jungkook, smiling brightly.

Jungkook looks like he’s struggling not to laugh. He leans back in his chair, the corner of his mouth twitching up in a smile. “Wow. Cool. I guess so.”

“You don’t have to,” Jimin insists, turning towards him. “I mean, if you’re too busy.”

“Why would I be too busy to go on vacation with my boyfriend?” Jungkook asks, tilting his head. His eyes are twinkling. “I can clear my schedule.”

“Oh,” Jimin says weakly. “But you don’t even know when it is.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Jungkook says with a shrug.

Jimin glances at Taehyung across the table. He looks like he’s about to lose it—his shoulders are shaking and he’s covered his face with his hand. Jimin shoots a look at Yoongi, and Yoongi swats at Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung straightens up, pulling his hand away, revealing watery eyes.

“I’m sure you two will have a wonderful time,” Taehyung chokes out, clearly one second away from bursting into hysterical laughter. He wipes at his eyes. “Sorry. I just got a little emotional because I’m so proud of you.”

After presenting Jimin’s award, Namjoon had stepped away from the podium for a few minutes to take photos with any of the award winners who wanted a picture with him. Now, he returns to the mic, tapping on it a couple of times to get everyone’s attention.

“I know you’ve all been waiting for this moment,” Namjoon says, smiling. “Let’s get this party started, shall we?”

The crowd erupts into cheers.

“I hope you all have a fantastic night. Have fun, be safe, and thank you again for all your hard work.”

Namjoon steps down from the podium, and the lights are dimmed a few seconds later. Party lights begin to flash above the large, open space in the center of the venue, and the DJ in the corner leans into his own mic as the music starts to play. “I want to see everyone out on the dance floor right now!”

Everyone immediately flocks to the dance floor. Hana leaps up and practically drags Hayoon away from the table. Taehyung rises to his feet, and Yoongi follows. Jungkook starts to get up, but Jimin touches his arm, stalling him.

“Aren’t you guys coming?” Taehyung asks, pausing.

Jimin shakes his head. “Not yet,” he says. “In a few minutes. We’ll meet you out there.”

“Are you unwell?” Taehyung says, putting the back of his hand to Jimin’s forehead. 

“No,” Jimin says, smiling and swatting him away. “Go. Have fun.”

Yoongi takes Taehyung’s hand and leads him out to the dance floor. Jungkook turns to Jimin, scooting his chair a bit closer to him. Jimin is not sure why he does that. It makes him feel slightly flustered. 

“Why do I feel like I’m in trouble?” Jungkook says quietly. He’s smiling, though.

“You’re not in trouble,” Jimin says. “I just figured we should talk about the trip before we get too wrapped up in our—well, you know.”

“Our scam?”

“That makes it sound so unpleasant.”

“Mmm. It’s not unpleasant,” Jungkook says.

“I mean—well, no. I guess not.”

Jungkook reaches out and rests his hand on Jimin’s knee. He squeezes it a little. It’s very distracting.

“I need you to explain something to me. Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” Jimin demands, keeping his voice low.

Jungkook laughs. “What?”

“It’s suspicious that you don’t have a boyfriend,” Jimin says. “It’s very weird to me that you’re single. With your… you know. All of you, and all of your… anyway. I want to know why.”

“I should probably take this as a compliment, I guess?” Jungkook asks, scratching his head.

“I don’t care how you take it. I just want to make sure you’re not an axe murderer or something before I bring you along with me to Jeju and let you sleep in the same room as me.”

“Jimin. If I was an axe murderer, do you think I would tell you?”

“Probably not,” Jimin grumbles.

Jungkook squeezes Jimin’s knee again. He leans back in his chair, sighing. 

“I’m just picky,” Jungkook says quietly, looking straight ahead. “Well, maybe picky isn’t the right word. I’m… particular. I’m too intense for a lot of people. I’m big into romance and I believe in soulmates and I feel all of my feelings really strongly. It usually scares everyone away. After a while, I kind of stopped trying.”

“Oh,” Jimin says, blinking. That is not the answer he was expecting. 

“Yeah,” Jungkook says, laughing sadly. “It’s kind of pathetic.”

“It’s not pathetic,” Jimin says. “It sounds like you just haven’t found the right person yet.”

“Maybe not.”

“So you don’t kill people. And you’re not in the witness protection program. You’re just… cheesy? You tell people you love them three days after you’ve started dating? That’s it?”

“I think my record was five days,” Jungkook says wistfully. “But I really thought—”

“You know what, that’s fine,” Jimin says, brushing him off. “I don’t think these are flaws. They’re just… quirks.”

“Thank you?”

“You’re welcome. Now, about the trip…”

“Hold on. Hyungsik is staring at you,” Jungkook says, gazing somewhere past Jimin’s shoulder, towards the dance floor.

“Okay. Do something boyfriend-y, then.”

“You’re not going to look? To double check whether I’m telling the truth?”

Jimin stares at him. “Why would I do that?”

“Well, I could be lying. I could just be making up an excuse to kiss you.”

Jimin’s cheeks flush. “Why would you—”

Jungkook bursts into laughter, cutting him off. “Oh, you’re so fun when you’re drunk.”

“Only when I’m drunk?” Jimin huffs, crossing his arms.

“No. All the time, I think.”

“Stop fucking with me. No one is around to overhear us and your flirting is extremely confusing.”

Jungkook smiles. “I wasn’t lying. He’s looking.”

Jimin sighs, closing his eyes. “Do something, then.”

Jungkook leans in close, pressing a kiss to Jimin’s temple. With his eyes closed, Jimin doesn’t see him approach, so he doesn’t realize what he’s going to do until it happens—until he feels the warm brush of Jungkook’s lips against his skin, his breath on his cheek. He lingers there for a moment, not pulling away.

“You are very good at this, you know,” Jimin murmurs. 

“Then you should reward me with an all-expenses paid trip to Jeju,” Jungkook whispers in his ear. 

Jimin pulls back, frowning. “You seriously want to go?”

“Of course I do. Don’t you think I deserve some compensation for all the hard work I’ve been putting into this relationship?”

“There is no relationship,” Jimin reminds him.

Jungkook pushes a finger to Jimin’s lips, shushing him. Jimin’s eyes go wide. 

“You can’t say that here,” Jungkook says, scolding.

“But we need to talk about this,” Jimin hisses. “Hyungsik isn’t even going on the trip. Is it really necessary to keep up the charade, then?”

“You heard what Yoongi said earlier. Everyone at the company has to buy it—otherwise he’ll find out. So, yes, it would be weird if I’m supposedly your boyfriend and I don’t come with you. I mean, unless you want to tell everyone we broke up.”

The thought of doing that sends a weird and unpleasant pang right through the center of Jimin’s chest that he doesn’t understand at all. 

“Well, no. I don’t want to do that.”

“Then take me with you,” Jungkook says, shrugging.

“Why do you want to come so badly? I don’t get why you want to keep helping me.”

“It’s not about helping you. It’s been, like, two years since I went on a proper vacation. I don’t get much time off at work. And this one would be free… so.”

Jimin sighs. “Fine. You can come. But I’m specifically requesting a room with two beds. No funny business.”

Jungkook puts both hands up. “No funny business, I promise.”

As Jimin drains the last of his beer, the music fades out to something quieter, and the DJ leans into the mic again. “This one’s for all the couples out there. Let’s slow things down a little! Now’s the time to grab your lover and come on out to the dance floor.” 

He presses a few buttons, and then a slow ballad starts playing. Jimin vaguely recognizes it—maybe from a drama he watched a long time ago. 

Jungkook reaches out, still seated, placing both hands on Jimin’s shoulders.

Jimin blinks at him. “What are you doing?”

“Grabbing my lover,” Jungkook says solemnly.

Jimin dissolves into laughter, sliding out of Jungkook’s grip. “You are so ridiculous. Come on, let’s go.”

Jimin leads him out to the dance floor, and they settle into an empty space near the edge as the song reaches the first chorus. Jungkook steps in close and places his hand on the small of Jimin’s back. He takes Jimin’s other hand in his own, then starts to lead them around in a slow, lazy circle, humming a little.

“I can’t remember the last time I slow danced like this,” Jimin admits.

“Hyungsik not much of a slow dancer?”

“Not really,” Jimin says. “He wasn’t exactly the romantic type.”

“I gathered that much.”

“We were together for a few months, but it was a lot less serious than you’d expect a relationship to be after you’d been together for that long,” Jimin says. “I mean, like, we rarely went on dates at all, and when I saw him, it was usually just to fuck. He intentionally kept things very casual. And I didn’t mind, I think because I was just… lonely? I don’t know.”

“You deserve much better than that,” Jungkook murmurs quietly.

Jimin already knows that’s true, but for some reason, hearing Jungkook say it feels terribly validating. It makes his chest tighten in a way he’s not expecting.

And Jimin knows it’s emotionally irresponsible, but it’s easy to let his mind wander when he’s pressed this close to Jungkook. When his hand is gently enveloped by Jungkook’s larger one. When Jungkook is humming so softly in his ear, like it’s a song only meant for him to hear, it’s easy—so easy that Jimin allows himself to think for one fleeting moment: What would it be like to be loved by him?

It would feel like the warmth of the sun, Jimin thinks. If he was ready to feel the warmth of the sun. Which he’s not.

Clearly he’s had too much to drink.

“What are you thinking about?” Jungkook asks, breaking the moment of silence that had stretched between them during Jimin’s reckless thought experiment. They’re still continuing their slow, easy sway, guided by Jungkook’s steady hand.

“You don’t want to know,” Jimin says seriously.

Jungkook smiles. “Okay.”

“Why are you so easy to get along with?” Jimin asks, frowning. “I’m waiting to discover a flaw. Tell me one, actually. I would like to know.”

“Well, I already told you earlier that I’m a disaster in relationships. I think that’s probably a flaw.”

“Tell me another one, then.”

Jungkook pauses for a moment, his eyebrow creasing in thought. That damn dimple pokes into his cheek again as he ponders. Jimin wonders why everything he does has to be so fucking cute. It’s starting to become relatively distressing.

In the background, the song is nearing its end, and the DJ gradually transitions this ballad into another slow one. “Here’s one more for all you lovebirds before we get the party started back up again,” he says into the mic.

“I’m too clean,” Jungkook finally says.

“You’re too clean,” Jimin parrots, his voice flat.

Jungkook nods, his hand sliding up Jimin’s back a little. “Yes.”

“And you’re claiming this is a flaw.”

“It is! It drives Seokjin crazy. I have to organize everything in my own particular way, and I have a special way of folding all my clothes, and if anything is out of place, it drives me nuts. I’ve been told it’s very annoying.”

“Well, coming from someone who lives with Taehyung—Kim Taehyung, you know, the one right over there, who thinks underwear strewn all over the floor counts as home decor and makes his room look lived in —I think that actually sounds quite ideal.”

“You do strike me as someone who would be tidy,” Jungkook says, pulling Jimin a tiny bit closer. 

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

“It’s just the energy you give off.”

“Well, you strike me as someone who is suspiciously perfect.”

“I have now told you about two of my flaws. How can I be perfect if I have two flaws?”

“Oh, I’m so flawed,” Jimin says in a sing-song voice. “I’m way too romantic and I love doing laundry. Who could ever love me!”

Jungkook frowns a little. “Don’t make fun of me. People really have been bothered by those things.”

“I’m sorry,” Jimin says, and he is. He can’t help it—he reaches up, tucking a lock of hair behind Jungkook’s ear. “I think those people must have been pretty silly. You seem great just how you are.”

Jungkook smiles sadly. “You’re playing the role of fake boyfriend impressively well right now.”

“I’m not playing anything,” Jimin says, shaking his head. “I meant what I just said.”

“Oh,” Jungkook says, his face softening. “Okay.” 

“You’re the one who’s best at faking, anyway, not me.”

“I have to be the best at everything I do,” Jungkook says seriously. “It’s a complex.”

Jimin glances over Jungkook’s shoulder, eyes roaming over the rest of the dance floor. He spots Yoongi and Taehyung swaying together prom-style, Yoongi’s arms looped around Taehyung’s neck. Several feet behind them, Hyungsik is slow-dancing with his date, who appears to be the same guy he’d brought to the bar last weekend. Surprisingly, the sight doesn’t make Jimin feel much of anything at all.

“You know, even though we ran into him, I’ve barely thought about Hyungsik tonight,” Jimin murmurs. “I’ve just been having a good time with you.”

“Good,” Jungkook says. “He doesn’t deserve to be thought about, I don’t think.”

“At this point, all I really care about is making sure he doesn’t find out that I lied about you.”

“Then it sounds like our ruse is still underway,” Jungkook says. “Can he see you?”

Jimin nods. “He’s over by Yoongi and Taehyung.”

Jimin glances over Jungkook’s shoulder again, then glances back just in time to feel the firm press of Jungkook’s mouth to his.

Jimin makes a little noise in surprise, closing his eyes, and he can feel Jungkook smile against his lips, releasing his hand so that he can reach up and gently cup the back of Jimin’s neck.

“Remember what I said,” Jimin says, murmuring against his mouth. “No tongue.”

“I remember,” Jungkook says, kissing him softly again. “I have a very good memory.”

“Everything about you is very good, apparently.”

“Remember when you said I was being confusing and flirting with you too much,” Jungkook says, kissing along Jimin’s jaw, just below his ear. “It kind of feels like you are the one doing that now?”

“I am not,” Jimin says. “You’re the one kissing me.”

“You kissed me back.”

“Of course I did. That’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it?”

Jungkook leans in one more time and kisses him again, his fingertips tracing across Jimin’s back. Jimin tilts his head back a little, lips soft and open against Jungkook’s mouth. The ballad is ending now, quickly transitioning to something more upbeat, and the people who had only come out for the slow songs start to trickle off the dance floor.

Neither one of them make any move to leave. They’re too busy kissing.

“We’re making a scene,” Jungkook says after a moment, pulling away and brushing quickly across Jimin’s bottom lip with his thumb. Jimin blinks up at him in a daze. 

“Probably,” Jimin agrees after a moment, letting out a shaky breath and taking a small step backwards. “Do you wanna go sit?”

“Sure,” Jungkook says softly.

So they head back to their table, and for the rest of the night, they just sit there and talk, both of them nursing one final drink. In previous years, Jimin has always spent this part of the evening going wild on the dance floor, letting loose all of the work-related stress he’d accumulated over the course of the year prior, but tonight, that doesn’t appeal to him as much as this. 

The rest of their table companions spend the night dancing, so they’re alone at the table. They talk for a long time, and in their semi-drunken state, the rest of the night rushes past them surprisingly quickly. 

Jungkook explains more about his work—which up until now, had felt like a mystery to Jimin, considering he knows nothing at all about web development. They talk about their families and realize that they both grew up in Busan. Jimin tells the story of how he was able to land the job working for Namjoon. He tells Jungkook more about Taehyung, gushing about how he is Jimin’s favorite person in the world, despite all of his idiosyncrasies. Or maybe because of them.

Talking to Jungkook is easy. And Jimin thinks the reason it’s so easy, mainly, is because Jungkook actually listens to him. It seems like he genuinely cares what Jimin has to say. He listens intently. He asks questions. He laughs whenever Jimin is trying to be funny. Although there’s no way to be completely certain, Jimin is pretty sure he isn’t faking any of that.

It’s been a long time since Jimin met someone who actually seemed to care about him so much.

What makes this all terribly confusing is that Jimin has now also spent a considerable amount of time kissing Jungkook, and touching Jungkook, and thinking about how hot and cute and kind he is, and then he has to immediately remind himself that every bit of this is fake. Which, incidentally, is getting a little bit harder to do.

It’s entirely possible that Jeju is going to be a disaster. 

But it seems like Jungkook really wants to come, and secretly—although he gave Jungkook a hard time about it—Jimin really wants him to come, too.

So although it seems slightly ill-advised, Jimin agrees to text Jungkook all the details about the trip once he learns more about it next week. Jimin also leans his head on Jungkook’s shoulder when the end of the evening draws near and he’s starting to get a little sleepy. He reassures himself that this is all just part of the scheme. If his fake boyfriend has a shoulder, he may as well take advantage of said shoulder.

Eventually, groups of people start to head home, and Taehyung and Yoongi return to the table, looking thoroughly exhausted. 

“Getting a boyfriend made you boring,” Taehyung whines, crossing his arms and pouting. “You didn’t dance with us at all.”

“Don’t make Jungkook feel bad,” Jimin scolds him. “He’s only doing his job.”

“This situation is still incredibly confusing to me, but I feel like it’s best if I don’t ask questions,” Yoongi says with a sigh, buttoning his suit jacket.

After gathering their belongings and nearly forgetting Jimin’s trophy, they all walk out of the venue together, and since Jimin and Taehyung are sharing a cab home, Jimin has to bid Jungkook farewell once they get outside.

He looks different out here, under the starlight, hair falling into his eyes. It makes it even easier to pretend that all this actually means something.

“Get home safe,” Jungkook tells him, slipping his hands into his pockets.

“I will,” Jimin says, shuffling his feet nervously. “You too, okay?”

Jungkook nods. “I had a lot of fun tonight. Thank you for inviting me,” he says earnestly.

“I had fun too. I should be thanking you, really. Thank you for coming with me. You didn’t have to.”

Jungkook smiles softly. “I wanted to. Do you want a regular goodbye, or a boyfriend goodbye?”

“A boyfriend goodbye, probably.”

Jungkook leans down, lips brushing across Jimin’s mouth in a kiss so gentle that Jimin wonders if the whole thing was a figment of his imagination. Then he kisses Jimin’s nose, and then his forehead, pulling away a moment later, starting to walk backwards in the other direction, hands still in his pockets.

“I’ll see you in Jeju, okay?” 

Jimin nods, trying to calm his pounding heart.

“I’ll see you in Jeju.”

 

 ҉    

 

Chapter Text

“You better hurry up. You’re going to be late,” Taehyung calls from the bathroom, voice garbled as he brushes his teeth. 

Jimin glances up from where he’s wrestling with his tiny carry-on suitcase on the bed, his body flung halfway on top of it, trying to squish it down enough that he’ll be able to zip it closed. “Who are you to lecture me about being late? You’ve never been on time for anything in your life.”

“I think I was on time for a doctor’s appointment once,” he says. Jimin hears him spit his toothpaste into the sink. “Seriously, though, I’m just trying to help. Didn’t you say you needed to leave by 10:30?”

Jimin grabs his phone, tapping the screen. It’s 10:35. 

Shit.

“It’s later than I thought,” Jimin says, zipping up his suitcase with a final grunt and hauling it off the bed. It hits the ground with a loud thud. “You’re right, I gotta go.”

“Do you have everything you need?”

“I think so.” Jimin wheels his suitcase out of his bedroom and down the hall. Taehyung follows him, still wearing his pajamas from the night before.

“Deodorant? Sunscreen? Sunglasses?”

“Yes to all of the above,” Jimin says, grabbing the backpack he’d packed and left by the door last night. He’s in a summery outfit that’ll also be comfortable for travel by plane: a breezy white short-sleeved button-down with navy cutoff shorts. 

“What about condoms?”

Jimin stops in his tracks, leveling what he hopes is a very threatening glare in Taehyung’s direction. “I do not need to bring condoms.”

“You’re right, you don’t, because I already put some in your suitcase!” Taehyung says, smiling brightly, walking over and slapping the suitcase twice. “You can never be too prepared.”

“Dammit, Taehyung,” Jimin whines, running two hands through his hair. “Please tell me you didn’t put anything else in there?”

“Just lube,” he says noncommittally, rounding the kitchen island and opening the fridge. He pulls out a container of orange juice, taking a swig right from the bottle. “But don’t worry—it’s travel size, so it’s fine to have in your carry-on!”

“Thank you so much,” Jimin says flatly. “Truly don’t know what I would do without you.”

“How nice of you to finally show me a little appreciation,” Taehyung says. “I thought about putting your handcuffs in there too, but I wasn’t sure if you—”

“I’m leaving,” Jimin announces, scowling, hauling his backpack over one shoulder and putting on his sunglasses. He reaches for the doorknob. “And by the way, I know about your bet with Yoongi. I know that’s why you put that stuff in my suitcase. You’re just trying to win.”

Taehyung gasps. “He wasn’t supposed to tell you!”

“Yeah, well, he really wants to win. I don’t know what you wagered, but please don’t tell me, because I don’t want to know. If he’s that passionate about it, I know it’s got to be something freaky and inappropriate.”

“You’re not wrong,” Taehyung says, pouting. “But a bet was irresistible! He’s so sure you won’t cave! He’s so naive. He’s seen Jungkook, so I don’t know what’s not clicking for him.”

“Just because Jungkook is hot doesn’t mean that I’m going to sleep with him. You know I don’t do one night stands.”

“It wouldn’t have to be a one night stand, though.”

Jimin blinks. “You think we’re going to get together, then? Like, as a couple?”

“I’m just saying it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” Taehyung says, holding up his hands. “Wait, so you admit that he’s hot?”

“When have I ever denied that he’s hot?” Jimin says, rolling his eyes.

“Oh, I’ve totally got this in the bag,” Taehyung says, smiling happily to himself and pulling out his phone. “I’m going to text Yoongi right now and tell him my new safe word so that he can plan ahead.”

“Goodbye, Taehyung,” Jimin says dully, opening the door and wheeling his suitcase through. “You are the light of my life, but you deeply exhaust me.”

“Bye! Love you!”

The door swings shut behind Jimin, and he heads briskly down the hall towards the elevator, checking the time on his phone again. He had planned to take the subway for the first leg of the journey to the airport, but since he’s running late, it’s probably going to be better to take a cab the whole way there. 

Just before he’s about to slide his phone back in his pocket, it buzzes and lights up in his hand. He glances down at the screen.

 

boyfriend 💖 10:45AM

just got to the airport :) are you here?

 

Jimin hastily types a reply with one hand as the elevator dings and reaches the ground floor.

 

jimin 10:46AM

sorry i’m running late :( just leaving my apartment now, taking a cab so i’ll be there as soon as i can

boyfriend 💖 10:46AM

oh sure you are

boyfriend 💖 10:47AM

have i fallen victim to an elaborate scheme to ship me off to jeju alone so you won’t have to deal with me anymore

jimin 10:47AM

if i was going to do that, trust me, i would ship you off to somewhere much further away

 

Jimin shakes his head and smiles, slipping his phone back into his shorts and climbing into the cab idling at the curb in front of his apartment building. 

“Gimpo Airport,” he tells the cab driver, and the driver nods and merges back into traffic.

Jimin is oddly excited to see Jungkook. The gala was about a month ago, and they haven’t seen each other since then, since there wasn’t really a reason for them to. Jimin hasn’t had any other work functions or social gatherings where Jungkook was required to step in and play the role of handsome, doting boyfriend. 

But it would be awkward if they completely stopped talking for an entire month, then suddenly went on a trip together, so to prevent that, they’ve kept in touch, texting from time to time. Not every day like real boyfriends would, but enough that Jimin feels like he’s been able to get to know Jungkook a little better and will feel slightly less out of his depth when he’s thrust into spending four straight days with him.

Jungkook feels less like a stranger now and more like a friend. He’s shared more about himself with Jimin—including his hobbies, which apparently consist of going to the gym, playing video games, and trying to learn how to play the piano. Before Jimin could begin irrationally swooning over that, Jungkook informed him he’s currently about as skilled as a five-year-old who’s just starting to learn. 

Which was good, because Jimin does not need any more reasons to swoon. He needs less reasons to swoon, actually.

Now that a bit more time has passed since Jimin’s breakup with Hyungsik, he’s allowed himself to wonder occasionally, fleetingly, usually when he’s lying in bed and having trouble sleeping: what are these weird feelings that swirl in the pit of his stomach when he thinks about Jungkook? 

Why has Jungkook agreed to this arrangement for so long?

And the most terrifying question of all: is there any chance that everything hasn’t been completely and totally fake?

During those two nights he spent with Jungkook, Jimin had worked hard to convince himself that everything he felt was just pretend. But as the angry haze of his post-breakup man-hatred has started to lift, he’s starting to question whether that’s actually true. 

Because when he thinks about Jungkook… when he thinks about how it feels to have Jungkook’s hands all over his body, about the way Jungkook kisses him so easy and slow, about the way Jungkook throws his head back when he laughs… Jimin can feel a familiar warmth spreading through his chest. Sometimes, he even blushes. That isn’t exactly something he can fake. 

But Jimin isn’t sure if he’s ready to put himself out there again, especially since he’s not sure that Jungkook feels the same way. Jungkook has dropped tiny hints that he isn’t interested in dating anyone, especially early on. He’d made offhand comments at the bar, and at the gala, he’d said that he was too picky and particular. Jimin can’t imagine that he would be the choice pick for someone who’s admittedly picky. So maybe Jungkook is just pretending, after all.

If he’s being totally honest with himself, then Jimin can admit he has a tiny crush. That’s it, though. It doesn’t mean anything, and it doesn’t mean he has to do anything about it. It certainly doesn’t mean anything is going to come out of it. After this trip, as much as Jimin hates to think about it, it’s likely that his arrangement with Jungkook will be over.

So he’s decided to simply enjoy the trip for exactly what it is: four days with someone cute and fun who makes him laugh, and maybe they’ll even get to kiss a little, if somebody happens to be looking.

Traffic is terrible, and it takes longer than Jimin was expecting to get to the airport, but when they pull up to the departures terminal, there’s still a little over an hour until his flight is scheduled to board, so Jimin figures that should be plenty of time. He pays the cab driver, thanking him before grabbing his suitcase and wheeling it through the automated revolving doors leading into the airport.

He looks both directions, then sees a sign for Jeju Air with an arrow pointing to the left, so he heads in that direction, down towards the check-in counters that are visible in the distance. Once he gets closer, he spots Jungkook—he’s sitting on a row of airport chairs across from the counters, wearing a pair of fitted shorts and a patterned blue short-sleeve button-down. His hair is loose and wavy, a pair of sunglasses is perched on top of his head, and he’s scrolling through his phone, his foot tapping. 

 “Hey, you,” Jimin calls out once he gets within ten feet of him. “I decided not to ship you off to Jeju alone after all.”

Jungkook glances up, and when he sees Jimin, a bright smile quickly takes over his entire face, his nose scrunching. 

Jimin doesn’t know what to make of the way his stomach swoops nervously at the sight.

“I’m delighted to hear that,” Jungkook says, rising to his feet and slipping his phone into his shirt pocket. He steps forward—three long, quick strides—and then he’s wrapping Jimin in a tight hug, pressing him to his chest, surrounding him in that comforting fresh-laundry scent that Jimin had been wondering when he’d get to smell again.

“Oh,” Jimin says. “Hi.”

“Hi. How was the drive?” Jungkook asks, releasing him.

Jimin gets a good look at him now that they’re up close. He has a little bit of a glow about him, like he’s been spending some time in the sun this summer. “It was fine. Traffic was bad, so I was worried about being late. I’m gonna check in. You already did?”

Jungkook nods. “Shouldn’t take long.”

Jimin turns around to look at the check-in counter and is relieved to see there’s hardly a line. “Okay, wait here? I’ll be right back.”

After waiting in the short queue, the process of checking in is ultimately quick and easy, and once he shows his passport and gets his boarding pass, Jimin heads back over to where Jungkook is sitting. He doesn’t have a suitcase with him—only a large black backpack.

“That’s all you brought?” Jimin asks. “How’d you fit all your clothes in there?”

Jungkook slings the backpack over his shoulder easily, trailing behind Jimin as they walk towards the security check on the opposite side of the terminal. “I mean, I didn’t pack that many. I assumed I wouldn’t need very many clothes for this trip.”

“Perfect,” Jimin says flatly.

“What? We’re going to the beach!” Jungkook says. “We’ll probably just be in swim trunks most of the time, right? I packed a couple of real outfits for dinner and stuff, don’t worry.”

For some reason, Jimin hadn’t really considered until now just how little clothing would be required during their time together. He hadn’t thought about all the time they’d spend at the beach or pool. It’s probably better that he didn’t.

“Guess I’ll finally get to see all those tattoos of yours, huh?” Jimin asks.

“Most of them,” Jungkook says, nodding.

Jimin stares at him, his eyes narrowing.

The right side of Jungkook’s mouth curls into a crooked smile. “What?”

“Nothing,” Jimin huffs, hauling his suitcase onto the conveyor belt to go through the scanner. 

Jungkook falls into line behind him, laughing quietly and plopping his backpack down behind Jimin’s bag. “I guess I’ll get to see the rest of yours, then, too.”

“You already could, if only you were more observant.”

Jungkook’s head pops up in interest. “Huh?”

“Mmm.”

Suddenly there are two strong hands on Jimin’s shoulders from behind, basically manhandling him, tilting his body from side to side. Jungkook leans left to right, turning his head, trying to check Jimin from every angle. 

Jimin dissolves into laughter. “Stop. You’re making a scene.”

“Ah!” Jungkook says, fingertips pushing Jimin’s shirt sleeve up a little bit, exposing the back of his arm. He runs a finger across the tattoo there, and goosebumps rise across Jimin’s skin. “You have one here.” 

Jimin nods, swallowing audibly. “I do.”

“And…” Jungkook checks the other arm, giving it the same treatment. “One here.”

“Yes.”

“That’s all?” 

“No.” 

No?

“No,” Jimin confirms, unable to fight back a laugh.

Jungkook starts to spin him around, but Jimin wiggles out of his hold, smiling and shaking his head. “You’ll see the other one eventually.”

“Is that a promise? Or a threat?” Jungkook asks, raising an eyebrow.

“You’re doing the confusingly flirty thing again.”

Jungkook’s face softens. “I just like tattoos.”

Of course that’s all it is. Jimin sighs. He can sense that his cheeks have gone a little pink. 

He steps forward to go through the body scanner, and Jungkook follows once he’s done. It doesn’t take long, and after making a stop at one of the overpriced airport convenience stores to grab bottled water and a couple of snacks in case they get hungry on the plane, they arrive at their gate, which isn’t very crowded yet.

“Is everyone from Fila coming on the same flight?” Jungkook asks, looking around at all the empty chairs. “There’s hardly anyone here.”

Jimin shakes his head. “There are lots of flights to Jeju each day, so they let us each book our own. That way we could make sure the timing worked with our own schedules. There’s no itinerary for today, since everyone is arriving at different times, so we’ll just be able to do whatever we want once we get there. Tomorrow, though, there are some workshops during the day that I have to go to.”

“They’re making you go to workshops while you’re on vacation?” Jungkook asks, eyebrows furrowing. “How rude.”

“Just during that one day. Don’t be so offended. After all, it means you’ll get to escape my clutches and actually have some time to yourself.”

Jungkook does not look as happy about that as Jimin would have anticipated. 

“There are a couple of people I recognize here, though,” Jimin says, nodding towards the wall near the gate. “The lady in the pink dress is one of the other award winners. She works in HR.”

“I guess my role resumes now, then,” Jungkook says. He reaches out, taking Jimin’s hand in his own. He laces their fingers together. “Boyfriend mode officially activated.”

Jimin squeezes his hand, glancing up at him and smiling. 

He does not know how he is going to survive four whole days of this.

 

  ҉  

 

The flight is quick—only about an hour long—and they don’t talk much, although it’s not awkward. Jimin takes care of a few last minute things he needed to wrap up for Namjoon before the trip, working on files he’d saved to his phone so they’d be accessible offline, and Jungkook puts headphones in and plays a game on his phone. When they touch down in Jeju, there’s hardly a cloud in the sky, and the sun feels brighter somehow, like the whole world is a little more saturated. They fly in low over the water, deep blue and sparkling.

The resort they’re staying at is called The Shilla, and since it’s all the way on the other side of the island, it has a dedicated shuttle that runs hourly from the airport. They follow the signs out of the airport towards the public transportation hub and wait for the next one to come. The ride is comfortable and goes by fast, too. It’s a large bus with soft, cushioned seats and powerful air conditioning, which offers them a welcome relief from the burning hot sun. Jungkook idly drums his fingers against Jimin’s knee the whole way there.

The resort is scenic and sprawling, and they get a great view of the ocean as the bus climbs the mountainous hill the resort is perched on top of. The resort itself isn’t directly on the beach, but it’s walkable, with a winding path and long set of stairs leading down to the ocean. Because the building was constructed on the highest point of the hill, there’s nothing to block the view of the water, so all the rooms facing that direction have an ocean view. Jimin is hoping their room will be on that side, although they won’t know for sure until they check in.

“This is beautiful,” Jungkook murmurs as they walk together into the lobby, a gigantic open-air space with huge ceiling fans, everything painted in earthy tones of cream and tan and brown. Lots of large plants—real ones, Jimin observes, as he’s been trained to do—decorate the space tastefully. It’s giving very expensive vibes. Jimin is quite thankful he isn’t paying for a cent of this.

“Hello, gentlemen,” the woman behind the counter in the lobby greets them. “Checking in?”

“Yes,” Jimin says, pulling out his wallet and fishing out his ID. “We’re here for the Fila trip.”

“Oh, wonderful,” she says kindly, starting to type on her computer. “Welcome. We’re so happy to have you and the rest of your group here.”

She takes his ID, and after a bit more typing, grabs two keycards from under the counter. “We’ve upgraded your room to one of our swim-up suites with an ocean view,” she says, sliding the keycards across the counter towards him. “Complimentary.”

“Oh, really? Awesome,” Jimin says, taking the keys. “Thank you so much.”

“You’ll be on the ground floor, since it’s a swim-up. You’re in room 186. You’ll want to exit this building, walk to the right, and follow the path down until you reach the villa building. The signs there will point you in the direction of your room.”

“Sorry, what’s a swim-up?” Jungkook asks slowly. “Does that mean we have to… swim up to it?”

The woman bursts into polite laughter. “Oh, no, not at all. Your room has two doors, one leading to the inside hall and one to the outside patio, both of which are very much accessible by land. A swim-up means that you can enter the pool directly from your patio. You’ll have a semi-private area of the pool located right next to your room, which is connected to one of the larger public pools, so you can use the pool and swim directly back to your room.”

“Whoa. Cool,” Jungkook says. 

“You two should be all set. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call the front desk. I hope you enjoy your stay.”

“Thank you,” Jungkook tells her, bowing a little. Jimin smiles and says thank you as well. Jungkook grabs Jimin’s hand and leads him away from the desk. 

They head out of the building and to the right, down a winding brick path lined with bright orange and yellow flowers, fragrant and sweet, the warm sun beating down on them from above. It eventually leads them to the smaller building which houses the swim-up suites. The back side of the structure is right up against a large pool, and the seemingly endless ocean is visible beyond it in the distance, down the steep slope of the hill.

Jungkook pulls open the door to the building and they enter the hall on the ground floor, the air conditioning practically punching them in the face with its intensity. Jimin wheels his suitcase behind him, and they easily find their room after a couple of twists and turns down the hall. 

“I can’t believe they upgraded us for free,” Jungkook says. “I mean, we weren’t paying for anything anyway, but still.”

“I know. The pool thing seems really cool. Plus, I was hoping we’d get an ocean view room, so I’m really happy,” Jimin says, rummaging in his pocket for the keycard and pulling it out. He holds it against the door and it lights up green, unlocking with a click. “The ocean always reminds me of home.”

“Busan, you mean, right?”

Jimin nods, pushing the door open. “Yeah. Sometimes I really miss—”

As Jimin walks into the room, the words die on his lips.

This is going to be a problem.

The room itself is gorgeous. There’s no problem with the room. It’s all white and airy and sunny, and the far wall is made completely of glass, fitted with a sliding door that leads out to the patio and pool. It smells fresh, like summer and greenery, and there’s tasteful art on the walls, and it’s probably—no, definitely—the most expensive hotel room Jimin will ever stay in. 

That’s all fine. That’s not the problem.

The problem is the giant king bed sitting in the middle of the room, perfectly made with soft and pristine white bedding, adorned with piles of fluffy white pillows neatly propped up against the headboard. 

There is no other bed. It’s the only bed.

Jungkook bursts into laughter behind him.

At first, Jimin assumes he’s laughing at their predicament, but as he takes a couple of steps closer, he realizes what’s actually caught Jungkook’s attention. It’s impossible for Jimin to imagine something that could make this situation more awkward, but as it turns out, he doesn’t have to imagine, because there it is, right in front of him: two folded towel animals—swans, to be precise—fucking in the middle of the bed.

Yes, fucking. If this was a polite and civilized resort, the staff probably would have positioned the swans in some sort of romantic heart shape, or maybe simply sitting next to each other, side by side, like well-mannered swans ought to be. But no. There is no doubt about the way these swans have been posed: they are in the throes of passion, hitting it from the back, doggy style.

Jimin’s cheeks are flaming hot. He spins around to face Jungkook. “We have to request a different room.”

“Are you that offended by the swans? We can just move them—”

“It’s not about the swans!” Jimin screeches. “I’m talking about there only being one bed.”

“Oh,” Jungkook says, blinking. “Right.” 

“I specifically requested a room with two beds.”

“I mean, our original room probably had two beds. I guess this room only has one because we got upgraded.”

“It’s fine. I’ll just call the front desk and let them know we need a new room,” Jimin says, heading over to the nightstand by the bed, where the room’s phone is.

Jungkook wanders across the room, stopping to peer through the glass wall. “But Jimin…wait. Come look at this.”

Jimin walks up beside him, staring through the glass. His eyes go a little round as he takes it all in. The patio area outside their room is huge. There’s a tile-floored area with a table and chairs, and next to it, there’s a full-sized hot tub. To the left of that, there’s the semi-private pool the receptionist had described. It’s small and oval-shaped, with stairs leading into the pool right off their patio, only a couple of steps beyond their door.

The whole area is rather private—there are walls on either side of the patio, and the balconies jutting out from the rooms above offer a bit of shade and privacy from overhead, too. If they were to swim out past their own patio, then they’d be entering the main, larger pool that presumably connects to all the swim-up rooms on the floor.

“Wow,” Jimin says, in awe. “This is amazing.”

“We’d probably be giving this up if we got a different room, right? I bet they would just put us in a regular room.”

Jimin sighs. “I mean, yes. You’re right. But if we stay in this room, we’ll have to share a bed.”

“Is that really so awful?” Jungkook asks, running a hand through his hair. “I mean, I want you to be comfortable—don’t get me wrong. But it’s a king, so it’s probably big enough that you’ll hardly notice me. I’ll keep to my own side. I promise.”

It’s kind of hilarious that Jungkook actually believes Jimin could share a bed with him and not be constantly thinking about his presence. Maybe Jungkook doesn’t understand his own power. Maybe he doesn’t realize what he looks like. Maybe he’s never looked in a mirror. Maybe he’s a vampire?

Jimin takes a deep, calming breath. 

“You promise?” he asks, still staring out at the patio.

Jungkook nods. “It’ll be fine. I promise. It’ll just be like, you know, um… a sleepover. Or something.”

Ah, yes. Perfect. Exactly the vibes Jimin was hoping for. A sleepover with his crush, who is apparently completely unfazed by the idea of sharing a bed with him.

“Fine,” Jimin agrees, trying to shake off some of the tension in his shoulders. “It’s fine. We’ll keep the room. I love hot tubs too much to give it up.”

“That’s the spirit!” Jungkook says, smiling brightly. “Now let me just take care of these screwing swans before you get all upset again.”

Jungkook walks over to the bed, gingerly picking up one of the swans and setting it back down a few inches away from its counterpart. He pats it on the head gently before backing away.

“Thank you,” Jimin says. He suddenly feels a little sheepish. “I just don’t like it when things don’t go according to plan. Sorry if it seemed like I was freaking out about the bed. I didn’t mean to ruin the mood.”

“It’s okay,” Jungkook tells him. “This is supposed to be a relaxing trip. You quite literally earned it. So try not to worry about anything too much. If something doesn’t go right, we’ll fix it together.”

“I think the swans made it worse,” Jimin mumbles.

“Jimin, I want you to be comfortable around me,” Jungkook says. His eyebrows are knitted together with worry. Jimin is suddenly overcome with the overwhelming urge to reach up and smooth out the creases. “I understand that what we’re doing—like, the fake affection and stuff—has the potential to make things uncomfortable if you don’t actually feel that way towards me. If you ever want to stop, you can just tell me.”

What a strange way for him to have phrased that. Jimin glosses over it, eager to placate him.

“No, no, it’s not that,” Jimin rushes to explain. “I am comfortable around you. Really comfortable, actually.”

“Oh,” Jungkook says. His shoulders relax a little bit. “Okay. That’s good. I’m really comfortable around you, too.” 

“I think we just need to accept that this is naturally going to be a little awkward,” Jimin says with a nervous laugh. “I mean, all of it. Sharing a room, sharing a bed, pretending that we’re together for the next four days. It’s a much bigger commitment than what we did at the bar, or at the party. It’s normal for it to be weird. What we’re doing is weird.”

“I guess so. And I can see how the fucking swans could make it feel, um, weirder.”

“Is that a sentence you ever anticipated you would speak during the course of your lifetime?” Jimin asks as he walks back towards the door to grab his suitcase.

“I’m afraid not.”

“Don’t worry about me,” Jimin tells him, sitting down on the edge of the bed. “I just want you to have a good time. You deserve to, after how much you’ve helped me. And considering we have endless amounts of free alcohol at our disposal and don’t even have to leave our room to go to the pool, having a good time should be very easy.”

“You’re right,” Jungkook says, nodding. “And don’t worry—I’m not worried.”

This conversation about worrying is quickly becoming a little too meta for Jimin’s tastes.

“Then let’s get on with our day,” Jimin says, clapping his hands together. “What do you want to do?”

They end up spending the short remainder of the afternoon exploring the resort and all it has to offer. After they both take a bit of time to freshen up, they leave the room and go for a walk around the expansive grounds, enjoying the comforting smell of the sea and the warmth of the sun on their skin. 

The resort is huge—there’s a variety of different shops and restaurants, two gardens, so many different pools that Jimin starts to lose count, and even more bars than there are pools.

When walking around in the heat starts to wear them out, they dip into a bar near the far edge of the property, an open-air shack with a thatched roof that has no other customers at the moment. They split a bottle of soju, enjoying the breeze from the fans behind the bar, and like everything else with Jungkook has been, it’s easy. It slows down the passage of time. 

Sitting next to Jungkook, watching his eyes sparkle as he launches into a story about Seokjin and Hoseok, laughing with him, teasing him—it all makes Jimin so grateful that Jungkook is the one he brought with him on this trip. Grateful that he’s the one who gets to selfishly enjoy Jungkook’s company for the next four days. Even if he doesn’t get to enjoy his company forever.

The more he thinks about it, he can’t believe the odds—he can’t believe that this gem of a human being is the one he randomly grabbed at the bar.

When it starts to get late, they head over to one of the resort’s restaurants for dinner, eating an elaborate three-course meal consisting mostly of seafood. They eat until they’re stuffed, and Jungkook jokes that Jimin is going to have to roll him back down the hill to their room. When they actually approach the hill, Jimin starts to push him, and Jungkook swats him away, laughing.

The path down to the building looks a little different in the setting sun, but they manage to find their way back to the room, and Jimin unlocks the door, letting Jungkook go in first.

“Wow. I’m exhausted,” Jungkook says, sliding off his sandals near the door and stretching his arms above his head, yawning. His shirt rides up a little bit, exposing a sliver of hard stomach. Jimin glances away. 

“I am too,” Jimin admits, perching on the end of the bed. He glances down at his phone, checking the time. “It’s only eight, though. Way too early to go to bed.”

“Mmm. I was considering checking out the gym tonight, but I think I’m too tired. I might go tomorrow instead.”

“I don’t think one single day off will kill you, Mr. Muscles.”

“Probably not,” Jungkook agrees. To Jimin’s surprise, he does not object to the nickname.

Jimin walks over to his suitcase in the corner and bends down to rummage through it, pulling out a few random skincare and hygiene items he’ll need for his evening routine. “Maybe I’ll take a shower.”

“Before you do that...” Jungkook says. Jimin turns around to glance at him. “What if we went in the hot tub? That seems like a nice enough way to pass the time.”

Jimin’s muscles, sore and achy from a long day of travelling and walking around, practically start singing at the thought. “That sounds amazing. I’m kind of sore, actually.”

“Well, it should help relax your muscles,” Jungkook says. “Plus, you deserve some actual relaxation time before Fila inhumanely forces you to work tomorrow.”

“Stop,” Jimin says, laughing. He digs back into his suitcase, pulling out one of the pairs of swim shorts he’d packed. They’re turquoise with tiny lemons embroidered on them. “They’re paying for this trip, remember? Besides, it’ll hardly be anything. I don’t even think it will take the full day. Do you know what you’re going to do while I’m out?”

Jungkook hums. “Probably go to the gym, since I’m not going tonight. Maybe go lay on the beach.”

“That sounds nice, “Jimin says, sighing. He looks down at the shorts in his hands, then glances back up at Jungkook awkwardly. “I guess we should… change?”

“Right,” Jungkook says, picking his backpack up off the floor and plopping it onto the bed. He searches around in there for a few moments, then looks up at Jimin. “Um.”

“I’ll go change in the bathroom!” Jimin says way too enthusiastically, rushing off in that direction. “I’ll let you know before I come out, in case you’re not ready.”

“Okay.”

Jimin slips through the open bathroom door and closes it behind him hastily, leaning back against it with a sigh.

The most challenging part of the trip is already beginning, apparently. You know, the part where he has to see Jungkook half-naked and pretend he doesn’t care at all, since there’s nobody around to witness him caring about it.

Jimin feels inexplicably self-conscious about changing into his own bathing suit, too. He has a nice body—and he knows that—but there’s something about stripping down in front of Jungkook that’s terribly intimidating, despite how otherwise comfortable Jimin feels around him. Maybe it’s the fact that he isn’t sure how much Jungkook will actually care to look.

“Get out of your head,” he mumbles to himself, unbuttoning his shirt and slipping it off his shoulders. His shorts come next, then his boxers, and then he pulls the swim trunks up and over his thighs, lacing them at the waist. They sit pretty low on his hips, and the tight fit doesn’t leave anything about his ass to the imagination. Jimin briefly wonders if they’re too inappropriate. He analyzes himself in the mirror for a moment, turning to look at himself from the side.

“If he stares at your ass, that’s his problem, not yours,” Jimin says to himself in the mirror. “Actually, you know what—it’s not a problem at all. It’s an opportunity.”

He folds his clothes on the counter, then opens the bathroom door a tiny crack. “Jungkook? Are you dressed?”

“Yup,” Jungkook calls out.

Jimin leaves the bathroom. 

When he catches sight of Jungkook standing over by the glass door, Jimin’s eyes go comically round. He desperately attempts to regain control of his facial expression, plastering on what he hopes is a neutral look before Jungkook can realize he’s staring at him like some sort of crazed animal. 

He tries to swallow, but he can’t—his mouth has suddenly gone dry.

Oh, Jimin knew this was going to be bad, but he didn’t know just how bad. 

Jungkook is shirtless, unfortunately, and he’s wearing a pair of navy blue swim trunks. They’re fitted and they only come down to about mid-thigh. He has both arms raised, pulling the top of his hair into a half-ponytail, his biceps and shoulders flexing. His entire right arm is covered in tattoos, the artwork dense and dark and swirling all the way up to his shoulder. 

His arms and abs and chest are all clearly defined, but he’s not so muscular that he’s bulky or big. His skin is golden and smooth, all soft against hard muscle, and his waist is impossibly slender compared to his broad shoulders. His shorts are riding perilously low, slipping down even further as he raises up his arms again to adjust his ponytail, tightening it.

Jimin has forgotten how to speak.

He lets his eyes roam lower. Just for a moment. And that’s when he sees it—a large tattoo on Jungkook’s right thigh, the bottom edge of it just barely peeking out from beneath his swim trunks. Jimin can’t tell what it is. Primarily because he’s gone a little cross-eyed. Why is it so hot in here?

“I’m going to turn up the air conditioning,” Jimin announces hoarsely, walking over to the thermostat and aggressively pressing the button a few more times than is probably necessary.

“Okay,” Jungkook says, adjusting his shorts slightly. He pads over to the sliding glass door in his bare feet. “Ready?”

“Yup,” Jimin confirms, his voice artificially strained. 

Jimin follows Jungkook outside. Since they’ve returned to the room, the sun has all but set, leaving only a few hints of pink and purple streaking across the otherwise black sky. They can’t see the ocean anymore, but they can still hear the waves lapping against the shore in the distance and smell its familiar salt in the air. 

The vibe out here on the patio is totally different at night. Most of the light is coming from their brightly illuminated pool, glowing soft and cyan in the dark. The hot tub has a few dim bulbs along its inside walls, as well, but it’s not as bright as the pool.

“Is that the last of them?” Jungkook asks as Jimin slides the door shut behind them. 

Jimin turns to look at him, trying very determinedly to keep his gaze at eye level. “Hmm?”

“Of your tattoos.”

Jungkook is not looking at Jimin’s face. He’s looking at his body. Jimin glances down, following Jungkook's line of sight, then realizes that Jungkook is staring at the tattoo on his ribs.

“Oh. Yup,” Jimin says. 

Jungkook hums. “I like it. Your tattoos all really suit you.”

“Um, thanks. Yours do, they—yours are… nice.”

Apparently Jungkook’s state of half-undress has rendered Jimin completely unable to form a coherent thought. 

“Thank you,” Jungkook says. He looks like he’s fighting back a smile.

Surely, over the next four days, Jimin will eventually get accustomed to seeing Jungkook like this. For the sake of his mental health, he must

Jungkook nods at the hot tub. “You go first,” Jungkook tells him. “Tell me how hot it is.”

“Why? You scared of a little heat?” Jimin asks, making his way down the three stairs leading into the hot tub, hissing quietly as the hot water makes contact with his bare legs. It’s hotter than he was expecting, but it feels amazing

Once he’s all the way in, the water hits him mid-waist. He maneuvers his way over to the far side, turning around and sliding down to sit on the built-in bench, sinking down until the water is all the way up to his shoulders. He positions himself so there’s a jet directly behind him, massaging his sore back muscles. 

He sighs.

“This is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Jimin murmurs, closing his eyes.

“It’s not too hot?”

“Mm-mmm,” Jimin says, eyes still closed. 

Jimin doesn’t see it, but he feels it: the gentle ripple of the water as Jungkook steps in, the feel of Jungkook’s calves brushing against Jimin’s own as he sinks down onto the bench across from him, sighing. The hot tub is technically big enough for two, but Jungkook’s legs are long.

Jimin opens his eyes. 

Now that Jungkook has settled in, most of his body is concealed by the water, thankfully, except for his bare shoulders. His arms are spread out, resting along the sides of the hot tub. Maybe Jimin can actually manage to have a conversation with him like this.

“I’ve gotta say, I’m glad you convinced me to keep the room,” Jimin says.

“Me too. Imagine if we had to fight with all the other people—I mean, peasants—over the shared hot tubs instead? That would have been unimaginable.”

Jimin swirls the water in front of him with his hand. “Imagine not having our own pool? Imagine having to wake up early every day to scavenge for a lounge chair that isn’t taken yet? I’m not built to withstand that kind of struggle. I wouldn’t have survived.”

“Maybe the receptionist could sense it,” Jungkook says, his brow furrowing in realization. “She gave us the complimentary upgrade because she knew it would save our lives.”

“I forgot to text Yoongi and brag about it,” Jimin suddenly remembers. “I love making him mad. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I need to send him a picture tomorrow.”

“It sounded like he really wanted to go on this trip. If it wasn’t for me, I bet he would have talked you into taking him instead.”

“Oh, absolutely not. Taehyung would have never allowed it. I mean, like, not because he would be jealous, but because he would want to come as my plus one instead. I would have brought him, probably, if I hadn’t brought you.”

“I am once again feeling very lucky to be your fake boyfriend,” Jungkook says, smiling. He brushes some hair out of his eyes with wet hands.

“Once again?” Jimin asks, tilting his head.

Jungkook looks slightly startled by the question. “Oh. Yeah, I just mean—it seems to be working out rather well for me. I’m on a free vacation, after all.”

“Mmhmm,” Jimin agrees, closing his eyes again.

It’s very relaxing out here. There isn’t much splashing or laughter happening at the main pool, which is mostly out of their line of sight. It’s that time of the evening where everyone starts to transition into night mode: showering, going out to dinner, starting their first round of drinks. Jimin and Jungkook are the earlybirds tonight, apparently, since they’ve slid in for their pre-bedtime soak barely past eight thirty. Jimin isn’t used to that—usually, he’d be the one hitting the bars early and staying out until they close—but he really doesn’t mind the change. This is nice.

Jimin hadn’t realized how desperately he was in need of some relaxation, but he can feel the tension rapidly melting out of his body the longer they sit here. Knots that have been there for months are starting to untie themselves. It’s been a long time since he felt like this. Now he’s wishing he didn’t have to deal with the company itinerary tomorrow, because he never wants to leave the hot tub again. He could die here and be happy about it.

“After my workshops, let’s keep the rest of the trip very low key,” Jimin declares. “Like, no energy expenditure whatsoever.”

“I guess the 17 kilometer hike across the mountain I was going to suggest for Thursday is a no-go, then.”

Jimin stares at him blankly.

“I’m kidding,” Jungkook says, laughing. His eyes are sparkling, reflecting the blue light of the pool.

Jimin splashes him with a little water. “You scared me. For a minute, I feared we might be truly incompatible.”

“Don’t worry. We’re definitely not incompatible.”

“I know. Wait, what—”

“I despise cardio,” Jungkook interrupts him. “Hiking is like literal, actual torture for me. Running, too. I would rather burn in hell. I would never, ever seriously suggest a hike.”

“Really? I would have assumed you were into all that stuff. Since you’re, like, you know. Since you have—um. Since you look—” Jimin vaguely gestures in Jungkook’s direction, floundering.

“You mean my body?” Jungkook looks a little bashful all of a sudden. He runs a wet hand through his hair again. “It’s from weight training, mostly. I have a personal trainer. I would never be able to figure out workouts and all that stuff by myself. Since I have to sit at a desk for like nine hours a day, I try to stay healthy.”

“You do seem very healthy,” Jimin blurts out.

Jungkook looks at him quizzically. “Oh. Thank you?”

“Anyway, I just want to be lazy the whole time we’re here,” Jimin says, trying to regain his footing. “We should have done this from the beginning. Walking around earlier was fine, but… this is better.”

“If you want to be lazy, we can be lazy,” Jungkook says, smiling. His leg brushes against Jimin’s underneath the water, and Jimin doesn’t pull away.

Being lazy with Jungkook sounds like the best possible way to pass the time.

So they immediately get some practice—they stay in the hot tub until their fingers get pruny, listening to the birds calling quietly in the distance and the calming drone of the ocean waves in the dark. They talk for a while, relaxed with voices low, and never about anything serious. The lulls in conversation are filled with a calm quiet that isn’t uncomfortable at all. By the time they get out, it’s nearly ten thirty. 

They towel off and head back inside.

Getting ready for bed is about as awkward as Jimin imagined it would be: relatively, but not unbearably so. They take turns in the bathroom, each of them taking a quick shower, washing the chlorine out of their hair, taking advantage of the privacy in there to get dressed when they’re done, too. 

Jimin goes second, and after he finishes his skincare routine, he comes out of the bathroom to find Jungkook already under the covers on the left side of the bed. His hair is messy and towel-dried, and he’s wearing a plain white t-shirt, his cheeks still a little flushed from the hours spent in the hot tub, his cell phone screen lighting up his face in the otherwise dim light of the room. 

The sight makes Jimin’s stomach flip. 

“I hope it’s okay that I took this side,” Jungkook says. “I wasn’t sure if you had a preference.”

“That side is fine,” Jimin reassures him, crossing the room and plugging in his phone by the nightstand on the other side of the bed. The lamp on that table is the only one that’s still on. 

He climbs into bed, carefully positioning himself so that he’s fairly close to the edge. There’s only a couple of feet separating him and Jungkook. Which is a totally respectable and platonic amount of feet, he thinks. It should not make him feel nervous at all. He does not need to freak out over the fact that they are now sharing a bed. Officially.

He scrunches his eyes shut, praying Jungkook can’t hear the sound of his hammering heart.

“Is it okay if I turn the light off?” Jimin asks. 

Jungkook mumbles something in assent, and then Jimin can feel his body shifting on the mattress slightly, springs creaking with the movement. Maybe he’s setting his phone on the bedside table. Jimin is too scared to look. Not that he could look, anyway, since his eyes are still closed. 

He is not handling this well. He needs to get this infatuation under control before he has a full-blown heart attack.

Jimin takes a deep breath and opens his eyes. Then he leans over, flicking the switch on the table lamp, plunging them into darkness. He shimmies back down until he’s all the way under the covers, rolling onto his side, facing away from Jungkook. 

“Goodnight,” Jimin murmurs. 

“Goodnight, Jimin,” Jungkook says quietly.

Now it’s time to sleep. Rationally, Jimin understands this. He closes his eyes, but he doesn’t feel tired at all. His mind refuses to shut down.

The air conditioner hums. It’s quiet. This should be a perfectly conducive environment for sleeping. But all Jimin can think about is the warm and kind and enigmatic person lying next to him, close enough to touch. 

He wonders what it would be like to touch him. Jimin’s touched him before, sure, but not like this. Not in a bed. Not with nobody looking.

But Jungkook is just barely out of his reach, the same way he’s always been, ever since Jimin first laid eyes on him at the bar.

Disappointingly, Jungkook clearly isn’t as nervous about this as Jimin is, because after only a few minutes, Jimin can hear his breaths have evened out, slow and steady, a dead giveaway that he’s already fast asleep.

And eventually, although it takes a little while, Jimin lets the quiet, rhythmic sound of Jungkook’s breathing lull him to sleep, his limbs feeling heavier once he finally allows himself to relax.

He drifts off with his face firmly pressed into the pillow, and as he goes, he accepts that he’ll probably end up dreaming about Jungkook, which seems like a rather ironic thing to do while they’re sharing a bed.

 

  ҉ 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Jimin wakes up the next morning, bright rays of sunshine are streaming through the glass wall, reflecting and shining directly into his eyes. He winces, barely awake, shifting his body slightly, trying to orient himself in the unfamiliar bed.

As he moves, he realizes there’s something unfamiliar touching his cheek. Warm, soft... skin? He opens his eyes, squinting. He’s greeted by the sight of a tattooed arm so close to his face that it takes a moment for his eyes to focus on it.

Jimin wakes up the rest of the way with a jolt, his eyes flying open in panic.

He quickly assesses the situation. Jungkook still seems to be asleep, and Jimin quickly thanks every single deity he’s ever heard of for that, because the situation they’re in is—well, it’s compromising, to say the least.

They must have gravitated towards each other in their sleep. Jimin is much closer to the center of the bed than he remembers, and Jungkook’s arm is flung out over Jimin’s head. Jimin’s cheek is pressed to his bicep. Jungkook’s other arm is loosely draped over Jimin’s waist, and Jimin has both calves tangled up in Jungkook’s legs.

They vaguely resemble some sort of human pretzel. It’s not entirely clear who is ultimately responsible for it. Jimin blinks, comically frozen, trying not to move a single muscle.

How the hell is he going to untangle himself without waking Jungkook up?

Because waking Jungkook up, allowing him to discover this, is not an option. What if Jungkook thinks that Jimin snuggled up to him in the middle of the night? How embarrassing. Jimin would never do something like that. Except, well, he did, apparently. So maybe he would. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, because he’s going to get out of this before Jungkook has any idea of what’s happened.

He starts with his left leg, slowly pulling it out from between Jungkook’s calves. When he gets it all the way out, Jungkook’s leg falls down onto the mattress with a gentle thud. 

Jungkook groans.

Jimin’s eyes go wide. He freezes, holding his breath.

But Jungkook doesn’t wake up. He bends his leg at the knee a little, sighing in his sleep, eyelashes fluttering. 

Jimin knows it’s a race against the clock now. He decides to work on Jungkook’s arm next—the one that’s looped around Jimin’s waist. It feels like a dead weight lying on top of him. It’s so heavy, actually, that Jimin wonders how it’s physically possible for it to weigh that much, but now is probably not the time to try and solve that mystery. 

Jimin grabs it carefully, wrapping his fingers gently around Jungkook’s forearm, and then he starts to pull it off his body, inch by inch. He stares directly at it, moving very slowly with laser focus.

When he’s finally maneuvered the arm back onto the mattress and he’s about to remove his hand, he looks back up at Jungkook’s face—and he finds Jungkook staring right back at him.

Jimin yelps, yanking his hand away from Jungkook’s arm like he’s been burned. He pulls his other leg out of the pretzel, then lifts his face off of Jungkook’s other arm, staring at him with wide eyes.

“Good morning,” Jungkook murmurs, his voice scratchy and deep. He’s barely awake, but there’s a tiny hint of a smile on his face. 

“Good morning,” Jimin croaks, leaning up on one arm and trying to act nonchalant, although that’s probably useless at this point. “I was just… it seems like we—I guess overnight, we—”

“I probably should have warned you about that,” Jungkook says, still sounding sleepy. “My friends call me a koala, sometimes, because I just latch onto things in my sleep. I was going to try not to do it to you, but… I guess that was kind of dumb, in retrospect, since I’m asleep when it happens.”

“Oh,” Jimin says weakly. “A koala. Okay. Yes. I see.”

“Sorry,” Jungkook says, rubbing some sleep out of his eyes. “We can build a pillow fortress between us tonight, if you want.”

I absolutely do not want! is what Jimin would like to say.

Jimin ponders how he can communicate that without blowing his cover. “Oh, don’t worry about it,” is what he settles on, trying to sound casual. “It’s okay. I get cold at night, anyway.”

He silently curses at himself. That did not sound cool and unbothered. That sounded very much like: “No! I am begging you to snuggle me, if you erect a wall of pillows between us I will quite literally freeze to death, your body heat is all I’ve ever wanted, let me be your bamboo stalk, I’m ready and willing—” 

“Okay,” Jungkook says, rolling onto his back and stretching his arms above his head, yawning. 

Well. That’s that, apparently.

“Are you hungry?” Jimin asks, sitting up in bed and combing fingers through his hair, trying to smooth it down. His cheeks feel hot. “I’ll be eating breakfast with my coworkers this morning.”

“No, I don’t usually get hungry until later,” Jungkook says. “Don’t worry about me. I can hunt down some food.”

Jimin slips out of bed and slides his feet into the slippers he’d left waiting on the floor last night. “Are you getting up now, or do you want more sleep? I can get ready in the bathroom, so it’ll be quiet out here, if you want to sleep more.”

“It’s okay. I should get up and go to the gym anyways,” Jungkook says, sitting up and leaning over to check his phone. It feels so strangely intimate, seeing him like this, all bleary-eyed with messy hair in the early morning light. 

He stays in bed for a little while longer, scrolling through his phone as Jimin gets ready for the day. There’s a big conference room in the main hotel building where Jimin is supposed to meet everyone at 9AM sharp. He’s not sure exactly when they’ll be done, but he assumes it will be sometime in the afternoon. Jimin gets dressed, then packs his backpack with some essentials: his work laptop, a water bottle, an extra tube of sunscreen. 

“I’ll text you whenever I’m finished,” Jimin calls out to Jungkook from the bathroom, where he’s leaning forward and combing his hair in the mirror. “And then I can just come meet you wherever you are. There’s a dinner tonight, by the way—it’s optional, but we should go, because Namjoon will be there.”

“Oh? Is it fancy?”

“It’s on the beach,” Jimin says. “Should be nice enough.”

“That does sound nice. I will be on my best boyfriend behavior.”

“Thank you. If you’re very good, I’ll introduce you to Namjoon.”

“Really?” Jungkook sounds excited. “Ah, I’m nervous. I’ll probably say something dumb.”

“Impossible,” Jimin reassures him, stepping out of the bathroom and slinging his backpack over his shoulder. He slides out of his slippers, then into the sandals he’d left by the door last night. “You good? Need anything before I go?”

“I’m good,” Jungkook says, sitting up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. “Have a good day, okay?”

It’s such a domestic and boyfriend-like thing for him to say, especially while perched on the edge of the bed they shared last night, that it makes Jimin stutter for a moment.

“Yeah, um—I will. Don’t have too much fun without me.”

Jimin slips out the door, letting it swing closed behind him, then makes his way down the hall and into the bright heat of the early morning sun. He puts on his sunglasses, muttering to himself as he heads down the path towards the main building.

“You usually have no trouble with flirting at all,” he grumbles, adjusting his backpack on his shoulder. “You flirt with everyone! You flirt with inanimate objects! Why are you being so fucking awkward!” 

A frog leaps across the path in front of him, croaking twice, like he’s directly answering him: It’s because you really like him, you idiot.

“Nobody asked you,” Jimin tells the frog, carefully stepping around it. It croaks once more before hopping away. “Have a good day, though. And be careful. I almost stepped on you.”

When Jimin enters the conference room, he’s one of the first few to arrive, and after nodding a few polite hellos to his coworkers, he plops down at an empty table, pulling his laptop out of his backpack and connecting it to the hotel wifi. If he has a few extra minutes, he figures he might as well use it to catch up on work stuff.

He scrolls through his email inbox, trying to scan through and open anything that seems important. He has hundreds of unread emails already, so it’s a little difficult to wade through the mess. He almost misses it as he’s scrolling, but he spots it just before it vanishes off the top of the screen—from late last night, there’s an email from Yoongi.

It’s unusual for Yoongi to email him about work-related things. Usually, he’d just text him instead. Jimin clicks on the email, one eyebrow raised.

 

From: Min Yoongi <min.yoongi@fila.co.kr>
Date: August 5, 2021, 9:49PM
Subject: Fwd: Finance team opening

Hey you,

Some intel about the motherfucker. Figured you’d want to know.

-MYG

Sent from my iPhone

<begin forwarded message>


From: Kim Eunji <kim.eunji@fila.co.kr>
Date: August 5, 2021, 12:32PM
Subject:
Finance team opening

Hi team,

We have an urgent opening to fill in the finance department. Park Hyungsik has put in his two week’s notice, and Jeong Ryung will be stepping up to fill the team lead role, but that leaves us in desperate need of a replacement for him, as the team is already understaffed. The position will be posted tomorrow. Please check and see if anyone might be a good candidate for an inter-departmental transfer.

Best,
Kim Eunji
Senior Recruiter

 

Jimin blinks at his computer screen, processing the news. Hyungsik is leaving Fila?

His first reaction is overwhelming relief. If Hyungsik is leaving, that means Jimin will never have to see him again. It means Jimin will actually be able to go down to the finance department floor without having to send someone else in his place. Most importantly, it means Jimin can finally move on and forget all about Hyungsik—faced with no more awkward reminders of what they were, or what he did to him. 

Jimin quickly realizes something else, though. If he’s never going to see Hyungsik again, that means there’s definitely not going to be any reason to carry on his fake boyfriend arrangement with Jungkook beyond this trip. 

He sort of figured that might be the case, anyway, but the finality of it squeezes his heart in a vice grip that he wasn’t expecting at all. 

He’s sure that he and Jungkook will still be friends when this is all over, but it won’t be the same as this. It won’t be the same as this weird, thrilling, confusing thing they’re doing right now. 

Jimin frowns, leaning back in his chair. Why does he feel more upset about breaking up with his fake boyfriend than he felt about breaking up with his real boyfriend?

“Hey, you,” a voice says directly behind Jimin, and a friendly hand clamps down on his shoulder. Jimin jumps in his seat a little, startled out of his thoughts. 

“Sorry, didn’t mean to catch you by surprise,” Namjoon says. “I just wanted to say hi since I hadn’t seen you yet. Are you having a good time?”

“Oh, hi,” Jimin says, forcing a smile. “Sorry. I was just zoned out. Yes, this resort is really nice. You really outdid yourself this year, huh?”

Namjoon smiles. “Only the best for my best of the best. You like your room?”

“They gave us an insane upgrade. We’re in one of the swim-up suites. We have our own hot tub and pool. It is the fanciest hotel room I have ever seen.”

“Don’t tell anyone about that,” Namjoon whispers. “The others, I mean.”

Jimin raises an eyebrow, lowering his voice. “Wait. Are you the one who got us upgraded?”

“I can neither confirm nor deny that,” Namjoon says in a dramatic whisper.

Jimin’s eyes widen. “No way. Namjoon, you didn’t have to—”

“I know,” Namjoon says, cutting him off. “But you deserve it. So enjoy it. Is your boyfriend enjoying himself?”

“Boyfriend? My—oh. Right. My boyfriend. Yeah, he is. He’s just gonna have a lazy day today while I’m occupied. Well, his version of a lazy day, which means he’s going to the gym.”

“Going to the gym on vacation,” Namjoon says, shaking his head. “I’m sure he’s a nice person, Jimin, but that’s a red flag.”

Jimin bursts into laughter. “I’m with you on that one. But, no, he is a nice person. You’ll meet him tonight, hopefully.”

“I’ll look forward to it.” Namjoon slaps Jimin on the shoulder again. “Enjoy yourself this week, okay? I’ll try not to drag out the festivities too long today.”

“Thank you,” Jimin says, smiling. “I hope you get to relax while you’re here, too. I think you deserve it slightly more than I do.”

“After today, you won’t hear a peep from me,” Namjoon assures him. “I’ll be in the pool for three days straight. I even brought my own inflatable swan floatie.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I am not.”

“Don’t mention swans to me. I’m going to start having war flashbacks.”

“What?” Namjoon asks, eyebrows furrowing.

“Nothing. But it was your fault, apparently.”

“Okay. With you, I learned not to ask questions a long time ago. I apologize in advance if you see me in my swan floatie and it triggers any… unpleasant feelings.”

“Thank you.”

Namjoon smiles an awkward smile, then leaves to go talk to someone at the next table over. Jimin resumes scanning his email inbox, trying not to think too much more about the news of Hyungsik’s departure.

Although Jimin would rather not be trapped in this windowless conference room while he’s on vacation, the day of activities passes by rather quickly. They start out with opening remarks from Namjoon, thanking everyone for being there and talking a bit more in depth about Fila’s strategy for the next year. There are a couple of different presentations from HR and marketing, as well as a few team-building activities, and a brainstorming workshop to come up with new methods of collaborating between different divisions. 

They have breaks for breakfast and lunch, too, but by the time 3PM rolls around and the brainstorming activity ends, it’s obvious that everyone is getting antsy. The woman sitting across the table from Jimin looks like she’s at risk of falling asleep. One of their other table companions excused himself to go to the bathroom an hour ago and just never came back. Jimin figures he’s already two beers deep by now.

Namjoon walks to the front of the room at that point, clearing his throat to get everyone’s attention.

“I think I’ve made you all suffer enough. As a token of my appreciation, before you go, I’d like to do a quick drawing and hand out some prizes. Consider it my way of saying thank you for putting in a little work while all your spouses and family members were relaxing on the beach.” There’s a polite chorus of laughter around the room. “These are vouchers to be used for resort activities. Some are for excursions, some are for the spa, and so on.”

Namjoon walks over to the nearest table, where there’s a clear glass vase filled with tiny folded slips of paper, along with a stack of what Jimin assumes are the aforementioned vouchers. Then he starts drawing names out of the vase—five total, since there are five vouchers to be given away. Someone wins a zipline excursion, and the next person wins a mud facial at the hotel spa.

“Our next winner is…” Namjoon digs into the vase, pulling out the next slip of paper with a flourish. He unfolds it, then smiles brightly. “Park Jimin!”

“This is rigged,” someone complains from the next table over, but they’re obviously kidding. Jimin laughs, shaking his head.

“You win…” Namjoon picks up a voucher from the top of the stack. “A couple’s massage at the spa!”

Jimin blinks. A couple’s massage? What does that… entail, exactly? He’s never had a massage before. What, in particular, makes it a couple’s massage? He has many questions. None of which he can ask Namjoon. Or anyone, actually. He’ll need to search it up on Naver later. 

He forces himself to smile. “Thank you,” he tells Namjoon, walking up to collect his voucher. “That sounds… lovely.”

Namjoon winks at him when he hands him the voucher, which Jimin finds very concerning. 

They’re free to go after Namjoon has handed out the rest of the prizes, so Jimin packs up his laptop in his backpack, eager to head back to the room and get changed. There are only a couple of hours until the dinner on the beach, so he wants to be sure to squeeze in some poolside time beforehand.

As he walks out of the conference room and exits the building, stepping into the bright afternoon sun, he slips his phone out of his pocket, checking his texts, since he’s been MIA pretty much all day. He has texts from Taehyung and Jungkook. He taps on the one from Taehyung first. 

 

taehyung 1:47PM

so :) did i win yet :) 

 

Jimin laughs, rolling his eyes. He types a quick response, glancing up every now and then to ensure he avoids any potential crash collisions with sassy frogs. 

 

jimin 3:13PM

no, you didn’t. sorry love. i think yoongi might have this one in the bag.

taehyung 3:14PM

????? absolutely not. you still have two more nights there. this game is far from over. 

honestly, though, i’m kind of surprised?? i really thought you were into him

jimin 3:15PM

i have avoided speaking with you about it, because that would make it into...a thing, but yes, i have realized i am very much into him

taehyung 3:16PM

!!!!! OKAY WELL THEN!!!! I AM TOTALLY GOING TO WIN!!!! i don’t mean to make this all about me but listen… the stakes are high 

jimin 3:17PM

as i already told you, i DON’T want to know.

look i’m sorry but… i don’t think you’re going to win. i’m legitimately not sure if he’s into me

taehyung 3:19PM

ah, my sweet oblivious jiminie. some things never change. you are simply adorable

i’ve seen the way he looks at you. there is no doubt in my mind that he’s into you. he would eat you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you only gave him permission

jimin 3:19PM

he was PRETENDING, though

and he’s obviously a very good actor

taehyung 3:21PM

nobody is that good of an actor. trust me.

 

Jimin sighs, deciding it’s not worth arguing with him further. He exits the conversation, tapping to view Jungkook’s texts instead. 

 

boyfriend 💖 11:34AM

done my workout! the gym is really nice, and there was basically no one there

jimin 3:22PM

probably because you are the only weirdo who wants to work out on vacation

what are you up to now? i just got done with my work stuff

boyfriend 💖 3:23PM

oh hello! yay! come hang out with me :) 

i’m by the pool, if you swim out from our patio to the big pool, i’m in one of the chairs on the right side

jimin 3:24PM

ok! lemme change and then i’ll meet you

 

Jimin makes swift work of getting changed once he gets back to their room. It’s a little weird, being alone in here, able to just change out in the open. He sifts through his suitcase until he finds his other pair of swim trunks—the pink ones with daisies embroidered on them—then puts them on, not bothering with a shirt, since he’s going to be swimming through the pool to get to Jungkook anyway. 

That means he can’t take his phone, either, so he leaves everything but the room key, sliding it into the pocket of his swim shorts. He doesn’t even bring shoes. Just walks out onto the patio in his bare feet, climbs into the pool, and starts lazily paddling his way out to the main pool.

He hangs a right, avoiding two teenage girls in the middle of a splash fight, and he eventually spots Jungkook lying back in a reclined lounge chair. He’s underneath the shade of an umbrella, and there’s a half-empty beer bottle on the little table next to him. He’s got one arm swung over his eyes, and a paperback book is resting on his bare stomach, opened and turned over to keep his place.

“Am I interrupting your afternoon siesta?” Jimin asks, hoisting himself out of the pool in front of where Jungkook is lying. He does his best to not splash him, running both hands through his wet hair to push it back off his face. 

Jungkook removes the arm from his face, smiling lazily when he sees Jimin. “Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.”

Jimin blinks at him. “Me? I’m—”

“Come here,” Jungkook says, sitting up and setting his book aside, then reaching out to drag another lounge chair closer to him, so that it’s partially under the shade of the umbrella. He pats the chair.

Jimin walks over and sits. “Have you been out here for a while?”

Jungkook nods. “For a few hours. I just had a beer, but it made me sleepy.”

Jimin allows himself to steal one full-body glance. Jungkook’s wearing black swim trunks today, slightly longer than the ones he wore last night, so his thigh tattoo isn’t visible at all. His hair is damp, starting to curl slightly, and there’s a thin sheen of something—Jimin’s not sure if it’s sweat or pool water—glistening on his chest and across his collarbones. He has very nice collarbones.

“Do you have sunscreen?” Jimin asks, swiveling away to face the pool. “Since I swam over, I couldn’t bring anything with me.”

Jungkook nods, angling his head towards the small table between them. Jungkook’s cell phone and a bottle of sunscreen are sitting underneath it.

Jimin grabs the sunscreen, squeezing some out into his hands, then starts rubbing it into his arms and shoulders. It smells good—like coconut and banana. It reminds Jimin of his childhood, of long days spent by the sea, with sticky feet covered in sand.

“Dinner on the beach starts at five thirty,” Jimin says. “So we only have a little while before we’ll need to go back and shower.”

“Who eats that early?” Jungkook whines. “I wanna nap.”

“I know. I think it’s because it’s supposed to be like a big party. So dinner is earlier because there will be drinks afterward. Making an appearance is the most important part, though, so once we do that, it doesn’t matter how long we stay.” Jimin tilts his head to the side, rubbing sunscreen into his neck.

“Do you need me to do your back?” Jungkook offers.

Panic bells instantly start ringing inside Jimin’s head. It would be helpful, since Jimin knows he’d miss spots if he tried to do it himself, but—Jungkook’s hands? His big, tattooed hands—are going to be all over him? In public? Is that even allowed? It seems like it should be illegal. Everything about Jungkook seems like it should be illegal, actually.

 “Oh. Um, sure! Thanks,” Jimin finds himself saying anyway.

Jimin takes a deep breath, turning around in the chair and swinging his legs over to the other side so that his back is facing Jungkook. Jungkook leans over, picking up the bottle of sunscreen off the ground and squirting some into his hands. He rubs it between his palms to warm it up first—very considerate, Jimin thinks—and then two broad palms are rubbing over Jimin’s shoulder blades, working the sunscreen into his skin.

A tiny strangled noise tries to work its way out of Jimin’s throat, but he manages to keep it in.

“How was your work stuff?” Jungkook asks, thumbs rubbing over Jimin’s shoulders. Jimin is not entirely sure if that particular motion is necessary for effective sunscreen application.

“It was fine,” Jimin says. “Oh, actually, I forgot to tell you. I won a prize for us.”

“Yeah?” Jungkook asks, squeezing more sunscreen into his hands and rubbing it into Jimin’s lower back with firm strokes. It is very difficult, but Jimin somehow resists the urge to arch his back like a cat in heat.  

“Mmhmm. Namjoon gave out vouchers for stuff around the resort. We won a couple’s massage.”

Jungkook makes an abrupt noise that sounds halfway between laughing and choking. “Oh, really? Wow. How...romantic.”

“Yeah,” Jimin says, laughing weakly. Jungkook is still rubbing his back, although Jimin is pretty sure all the sunscreen must be absorbed by now. He lets his head loll to the side a little bit. It feels like he no longer has any bones. They have evaporated.

“You’re all set,” Jungkook says, giving Jimin’s shoulders one final squeeze before leaning back in his chair. “When’s the massage? Tomorrow?”

Jimin nods. He spins around in his chair to face Jungkook again. “10:30AM. Appointment’s already booked and everything. All we have to do is show up. I mean, only if you want to. If it’s going to be too awkward or something—”

“No, no, we should go,” Jungkook insists, lying back in his chair again and picking up his book. “It’s been forever since I had a massage.”

“Same,” Jimin says, deciding not to reveal he has never had one before. Apparently Jungkook is not disturbed by the couple’s aspect of the massage, so maybe it will be fine.

Jimin eventually ends up grabbing a pool raft and floating in the pool right in front of where Jungkook is lying, close enough that they can still talk. But time ultimately passes way too quickly, and he’s barely soaked up any sun before it’s time to head back to their room to shower and get ready for dinner. 

“I’ll walk around the long way, since I have my phone and stuff,” Jungkook says, getting up off the chair and stretching. “I’ll see you back there?”

“Okay,” Jimin agrees, one leg dangling off his raft, kicking gently in the cool water. 

He stares a little too long at Jungkook’s retreating form, admiring the way his back muscles shift as he walks away. Then he closes his eyes, sighing.

He almost shared the news about Hyungsik quitting while they were lounging by the pool, but he changed his mind at the last minute. He’ll try again at dinner. Jungkook deserves to know he’ll be off the hook after this, even if it makes Jimin terribly sad. 

 

  ҉  

 

“What do you think?”

Jimin blinks, tilting his chin up towards Jungkook. “Hmm?”

“Do you think Namjoon liked me?”

Jimin smiles. “Yes. You’re very polite when you actually try to be.”

Jungkook leans a little closer, one eyebrow shifting down worriedly. “Hey. I’m polite all the time, aren’t I?”

“Historically, you’ve done a few things in my presence that were rather impolite.”

They’re standing under the large white canopy that has been erected on the beach for the company dinner, string lights strung up along the inside of the tent to provide some soft illumination. Outside the tent, it’s nearly pitch black, the dark ocean subtly glittering under the moonlight off in the distance.

They’ve stayed longer than Jimin thought they would. After dinner, they mingled with Jimin’s coworkers, and Jimin introduced Jungkook to Namjoon while he was still relatively sober. Namjoon seemed awfully charmed by Jungkook, which is not surprising at all.

Now they’re a few drinks deep, and they’re standing off to the side of the small dance floor, although they’re not really dancing. They’re just talking, and standing way too close to each other, and looking at each other with starry, googly eyes, and kissing every now and then, just like fake boyfriends ought to do. They’ve always been believable, but there’s not a single person out there they wouldn’t fool tonight.

Jimin is taking advantage of every possible opportunity to touch Jungkook in ways that would usually not be permissible, which he probably would have denied if you asked him before tonight, but he’s come to terms with his delusional crush at this point.

“What kind of things?” Jungkook asks, dipping his head lower. Jimin’s nose brushes against his cheek. He reaches up and places a hand on Jungkook’s bicep, barely resisting the urge to squeeze. With some alcohol in his system, it seems he’s regained his ability to flirt with Jungkook without blushing and stuttering like a teenager.

“Your tongue has been in my mouth on more than one occasion.”

“I wouldn’t say that’s impolite. It was consensual, after all.”

“I suppose it was,” Jimin says, tilting his chin up further.

“I’m only doing my job. I like to do things well.”

“You’ve done it very well,” Jimin assures him.

“Which part?” Jungkook asks, rubbing his thumb along Jimin’s jaw softly.

Jimin swallows, trying not to reveal how affected he is. “Hmm?”

“The fake boyfriend part, or the kissing part?”

Jimin’s drunk enough to be honest. 

“Both,” he says quietly. 

Jungkook tilts his head a little. “You think I’m a good kisser?”

“Don’t act surprised. I’m sure you must already know you’re good at it,” Jimin says. “There’s no way this is news to you.”

“Maybe,” Jungkook says. His hand gently wraps around the back of Jimin’s neck, and Jimin shivers. “The part that’s news to me is that you think I’m good at it.”

“Oh,” Jimin says weakly. “Well.”

Jungkook leans in, lips pressing lightly against Jimin’s as his fingers thread through the hair at the nape of Jimin’s neck. Jimin opens up to him immediately, and Jungkook smiles against his mouth.

“I thought you said no tongue in front of your coworkers.”

“Did I say that?”

“I think you did,” Jungkook confirms. “I believe you said you have a reputation to uphold.”

Jimin decides it might be a little too obvious if he directly asks Jungkook to stick his tongue down his throat. He just hums instead, then kisses Jungkook one more time, soft and purposely chaste, before pulling away.

He suddenly feels like he’s given away too much, so to help offset his painfully transparent desperation, he decides that now would be an ideal time to share the news about Hyungsik.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Jimin says.

“Hmm?” Jungkook asks, his hand moving from Jimin’s neck down to the small of his back instead. 

“I found out Hyungsik is leaving Fila. In two weeks, he’ll be gone. I’ll never have to see him again.”

Jungkook blinks. “Oh. Wow. That’s good, right?”

Jimin nods. “Yeah, I think so. I’m happy he’s leaving. It’s just… since I won’t be seeing him again, that means after we get back, you won’t need to pretend to be my boyfriend anymore.”

Jimin doesn’t know why he expects Jungkook to seem relieved by this news. Maybe it’s because he sort of dragged Jungkook into this against his will, at least at the beginning. 

But surprisingly, Jungkook doesn’t seem relieved at all. Instead, he’s frowning.

“Oh. Okay,” he says.

“We can still hang out,” Jimin assures him. “We just won’t have to do… you know, this.”

“Right,” Jungkook says, swallowing visibly. “That makes sense.”

“You’ll finally be free,” Jimin jokes, tilting his head and trying to smile. 

This is not going how he expected. It feels like he’s ruined the mood, which is the opposite of what he wanted to do.

“I guess so,” Jungkook says. He sounds terribly despondent.

“I thought you would be more excited about your newfound freedom,” Jimin says, frowning.

Jungkook takes a deep breath, then totally transforms his facial expression, plastering on a soft smile. “Don’t worry about me. Do you wanna get out of here?”

“Yeah,” Jimin says, nodding. “I don’t think I want to go back to the room yet, though.”

“Me neither. Want to sit on the beach with me?”

Jimin smiles. “Yeah.”

Jungkook leads the way, and Jimin silently follows him. They head out of the tent and onto the dark beach beyond it, slipping off their sandals so they can walk across the sand in their bare feet. As they put distance between themselves and the tent, they veer closer down towards the water, to where the sand is slightly damp and cool beneath their feet. The chattering and clinking of glasses audible from the tent gets further and further away, eventually drowned out by the sound of the waves.

“I can’t even remember the last time I went to the beach,” Jimin says, slowing down once they reach a particularly flat and smooth area that looks good for sitting. Jungkook plops down on the sand, then offers up a strong hand to Jimin, which Jimin uses to help him ease himself down next to him.

“Me neither,” Jungkook says. “It’s been forever since I left the city at all. I always feel bad when I take time off work, so I haven’t been on a proper trip in ages.”

“That’s why you were so excited to come with me, right?”

“One of the reasons,” Jungkook says, nodding. “My team is really small, so if I take time off, it’s not like there’s anyone there to do my job. The work just piles up until I get back. So that makes it hard to relax while I’m away. Since this was only a few days, I figured it would be okay.”

“It’s important to take time off, though,” Jimin says. “But I understand how you feel—I’m Namjoon’s only assistant, so it’s not like there’s anyone else there doing my job whenever I’m gone. Namjoon always stresses how important it is for me to take a break sometimes, though, which I really appreciate. It makes me feel less bad about it when I do.”

“I wish my boss was like that. Namjoon seems really great.”

“He is,” Jimin says. “Maybe you should look for another job? You deserve to be able to take a vacation without your boss making you feel bad. You’ll burn out, otherwise.”

“Yeah,” Jungkook says. He sounds hesitant. “I’ve thought about it. About switching careers entirely, actually.”

“Really?” Jimin asks, surprised. “What would you do instead?”

“That’s the problem. I don’t know,” Jungkook says, laughing sadly. “There are lots of things I like doing, but I don’t know how to turn any of them into a career. Development is all I’ve ever known how to do. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it—it pays well, and I’m good at it. But it doesn’t feel completely fulfilling sometimes.”

“There has to be meaning behind it,” Jimin murmurs. “I get that.”

“Do you feel that way about your job? Like it has meaning?”

Jimin nods. “Yeah. For me, I think my primary motivation has always been to help people. Not only in my career, but, like—in life, in general. And I know Namjoon is only one person, but my job pretty much consists of helping him in one million different ways, so it is fulfilling for me. Especially because I think he’s a really good human. It feels meaningful to help him. He helps a lot of other people in return.”

“I noticed that about you,” Jungkook murmurs. His gaze is fixed on the ocean in front of them, hair blowing softly in the warm breeze. “The night we met, you were so hellbent on repaying me for helping you. Like you couldn’t accept the help without feeling like you needed to offer help in return.”

“I guess I’m…” Jimin trails off. “I guess I’m not used to being the one who’s helped. Usually it’s me who’s doing the helping.”

Jungkook hums. “That sounds like it might be a little exhausting.”

“Yeah,” Jimin breathes out, nodding. “It is.”

“It’s tiring when you give and give and don’t get anything back,” Jungkook says. “I’ve been there before, too. It sucks.”

Jimin leans backward until he’s lying flat on the sand, staring up at the starry black sky above them. A moment later, Jungkook lies down too. There’s about a foot of space between them.

“I feel like—um. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t feel that way with you,” Jimin mumbles. “I worry a lot about whether I’m doing everything I should be, about whether everyone has everything they need—like, what I should be doing for people. But with you, I feel like I can just… be? Like I can relax and put my guard down and actually have fun.”

Jungkook turns his head to look at him. “Good. That makes me happy.”

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t want you to come on this trip as a form of repayment for helping me, but… that wasn’t the only reason. I really, legitimately have fun with you. I wouldn’t have brought you if I didn’t.”

Jungkook smiles. “I have fun with you, too.”

Jimin meets his eye for a long moment, then glances away.

“You promise you’ve been having fun?”

“Mmhmm,” Jungkook says, nodding. “I’m having a great time.”

“Well, good. What do you want to do tomorrow night? It’s our last night here.”

Jungkook is quiet for a few seconds, thinking. “It doesn’t really matter to me. We can do whatever you want.”

“Maybe we can go to the bar,” Jimin suggests. “I kind of wanted to have at least one night out while we were here.”

“This doesn’t count?” Jungkook teases.

“Nah. We had everybody watching us tonight. Tomorrow night, it can just be us.”

“Okay,” Jungkook says. He rolls over onto his side a little, facing Jimin. “After we go back home, we’ll still hang out, right? You weren’t just saying that to ease the sting of breaking up with me?”

Jimin turns his head to look at him. “Of course we’ll still hang out. And for the record, I didn’t break up with you. That would require us to be together in the first place.”

“You kind of did,” Jungkook says, pouting. “You fake broke up with me.”

“I just thought you deserved to know.”

“That my services were no longer needed?” Jungkook sighs deeply. “Couldn’t you have employed me for a bit longer? I like feeling useful.”

Jimin’s stomach does a nervous flip. He’s not sure if Jungkook is just being silly and flirty like he always is, or if he’s trying to imply something more.

“It had nothing to do with your performance. Your performance was excellent,” Jimin assures him, reaching out to pat his hand. 

“Seokjin is going to be so disappointed when I tell him I don’t need his acting lessons anymore.”

Jimin bursts out laughing. “He was giving you acting lessons?”

“Against my will, yes. Usually he’d corner me while I was in the shower and had nowhere else to go. I would cower behind the shower curtain while he yelled at me about Stanislavski's method.”

“Wow.”

“I know.”

“He and Hoseok are such a surprising couple. Hoseok seems so chill and easygoing.”

“That’s why they work, though. Seokjin is a lot, but Hobi is the perfect person to handle him. He’s go-with-the-flow enough that he’s never bothered by Seokjin’s antics at all. He mainly finds the craziness entertaining, I think.”

“It seemed like he didn’t like me,” Jimin says, smiling softly and glancing over at Jungkook. “Seokjin, I mean. I think that’s why I find him so intimidating.”

Jungkook shakes his head. “No, he likes you. He wouldn’t have been giving me acting lessons if he didn’t like you.”

“But he was so scary.”

Jungkook smiles. “It wasn’t about you. He was just worried about me.”

“Why?”

“Well, before we left for the bar, I was ranting to him about how I was swearing off dating forever. I told him I wasn’t going to flirt with anybody, or dance with anybody, or… yeah. So he was obviously very confused when he saw us together.”

“Why did you say that?” Jimin asks, eyebrows furrowing.

“Ah, it’s kind of what I explained already.” Jungkook blinks up at the sky, thinking for a moment, digging his toes into the sand. “I had started talking to this guy—nothing serious, we hadn’t even gone on our first date yet—but it turned out he was really only interested in hooking up. Not that there’s anything wrong with hooking up, but… I want more than that. And it seems like all the guys I meet only want me for my body. They don’t care about me. You know?”

Jimin rolls over to face Jungkook, resting his head on his hand, frowning. “There is a lot more to you than your body.”

Jungkook smiles a sad half-smile. “You think so?”

“Yeah. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s very—well. You know. It’s... a nice body.” Jimin clears his throat awkwardly. “But what’s up here is also nice.” He leans over, gently poking Jungkook’s temple with his pointer finger. “It’s like what you said to Hyungsik that night at the gala. You do have many redeeming qualities.”

“Like what?”

“You are very funny. You make me laugh so much. You’re so easy to get along with. You’re sweet and not at all threatening, unlike a lot of guys. You’re generous, and kind, and you seem very reliable. And you’re so smart.”

“Okay, you can stop,” Jungkook says, running his hands over his face, embarrassed.

“Fine. Now it’s your turn to flatter me.”

“Ah, Jimin,” Jungkook says, sighing. “We’d be here all night.”

Jimin’s heart does an obnoxious topsy-turvy thing. He rolls over onto his back again. “We have plenty of time.”

Jungkook smiles. “If you insist. Um… well, you’re really fun. Like, seriously, so fun. You’re also super thoughtful, and you genuinely care about other people in a way I think is kind of rare. You’re very passionate, and energetic, and… I don’t know how to describe this part, but you’re really genuine? I’ve always felt like I could trust you, even before I knew you well. Honestly, I like everything about you.”

“Oh,” Jimin says, breathing in. He can feel his cheeks flushing. “Thanks.”

Jungkook’s nose scrunches a little. “You know, when you chose me at the bar that night, I assumed it was because of how I looked. I figured you were just going to be like everyone else. You’re not, though—not at all.” Jungkook goes quiet.

“Actually, I had only seen you from the back,” Jimin says, laughing. He wipes off the sand stuck to his hand, then brushes some hair out of his eyes. “I had no idea what you were going to look like when you turned around. I literally just turned and grabbed the closest person. It just happened to be you.”

“That was lucky,” Jungkook says, smiling. “I’m really glad I met you, Jimin.”

“I’m really glad I met you, too.”

 

  ҉    

 

“God, it’s hot today,” Jimin groans, shading his eyes from the sun as they make their way down the brick path to the hotel spa, which is all the way on the other side of the resort. Seagulls fly above them in the cloudless sky overhead. There’s no breeze to offer any respite from the heat, which is already suffocating.

“Right? It’s barely past ten,” Jungkook says. “It’s so humid, too. I wonder how hot it’s going to get by the afternoon.”

“At least this is an air-conditioned activity. Maybe we should spend the rest of the day in the pool.”

Jungkook nods. “Or we can start your bar crawl early.”

“I don’t know if I have that kind of stamina anymore,” Jimin says, sighing. “My youth is so far behind me.”

“Jimin. You’re 26.”

“And?”

Jungkook rolls his eyes. “I’m willing to bet your stamina is more than adequate.”

Jimin is mid-sip, drinking the last of the iced americano he’d picked up earlier that morning, and he nearly chokes. He plays it off, keeping a straight face as he sucks down the rest of his coffee, slurping at the bottom.

They arrive at the spa, which is a small white building nestled back among some giant bushes dotted with bright pink flowers. The air conditioning is so strong that goosebumps rise on Jimin’s arms when they walk in. Inside, there’s a welcome desk and a waiting area, and a young woman with dyed blonde hair is sitting behind the counter.

“Hi there,” she says, smiling politely. “Welcome to our spa. Do you have an appointment?”

“We do,” Jimin tells her. “We have a couple’s massage at 10:30.”

“Oh! How lovely,” she says, clapping her hands together. She glances back and forth between the two of them. “Our couple’s massage is very romantic and sensual. Trust me, you won’t regret setting aside time for this. Everyone raves about it!”

“Very romantic and sensual,” Jimin repeats, his voice flat. “Great. Perfect.”

Jungkook slides his arm around Jimin’s waist. “It was his idea to book the appointment,” Jungkook lies, surely just to fluster Jimin, which seems to be one of his favorite pastimes. “He’s a big romantic.”

She practically coos, batting her eyelashes at Jimin. “Ah, that’s so sweet! Aren’t you lucky. Well, you gentlemen can follow me, if you’re ready.”

They follow her down a narrow hallway, then into a large treatment room, where two massage tables have been placed side-by-side, a couple of feet apart. The atmosphere is calm and relaxing: there are no windows, and the walls and floor are made of dark panelled wood, with a slow and soothing instrumental track playing softly over the speakers. There’s a tiny waterfall fountain built into one wall, water trickling down quietly over the rocks.

“Please take off your shoes,” the woman says, pointing to a mat by the door. “Make yourself comfortable, then go ahead and get completely undressed. In about five minutes, I’ll send in your massage therapists.”

“Com—completely?” Jimin squeaks.

“Yes. This is a full-body massage, so you’ll need to be completely undressed,” the woman explains. “Have you had a massage before?”

Jimin shakes his head. Jungkook glances at him in surprise.

“Ah,” she says, understanding. “I can see how that might be alarming if you weren’t expecting it! Don’t worry. Our massage therapists are professionals, and they’ve seen it all before. Besides, I’m sure he has too, right?” She looks over at Jungkook, winking. 

Jungkook looks like he’s two seconds away from dissolving into laughter. The corners of his mouth twitch. 

Jimin laughs weakly. “He sure has! Yes. Many times. Ha-ha.”

“Enjoy your massage,” the woman says, smiling. She leaves the room, the heavy door closing behind her with a solid thunk. Jimin feels like he’s just been locked inside a death chamber.

Did you know we were going to have to get naked?” Jimin hisses at Jungkook in a loud whisper, eyes rapidly scanning the room, looking for something—a robe, a towel, anything at all to cover himself. There’s nothing. 

“I mean, I kind of assumed,” Jungkook admits. “It’s normal for a massage. But I thought you knew that! You didn’t tell me you had never had one before! So I assumed you were okay with it.”

“I had no idea. I figured we would just have to take our shirts off or something!”

“Look, it’s really not a big deal. They give you a sheet to cover your butt, and they only take it off when they need to massage that part. See?” Jungkook points at the table.

Jimin glances over. Calling it a sheet is a sweeping exaggeration. It is merely a scrap of cloth. 

“I don’t even think that’s big enough to cover my ass.”

“Well, I mean, your… um. You know what—no comment, actually.”

“We’re on a countdown here,” Jimin reminds him. “We have five minutes.”

“Okay,” Jungkook says. “I’ll turn around, if you want.”

“Yes, please. Wait, shouldn’t we both turn around?”

Jungkook shrugs. “You can do whatever you want. I just want you to be comfortable.”

“I’ll turn around!” Jimin huffs, walking over to the table on the right and turning his back to Jungkook. “There’s no reason for me to—why would I—I’ll turn around.”

“Okay,” Jungkook says, laughing a little. “Alright, I’m turned around now, too.”

“Okay.”

Jimin takes a deep breath. He starts to unbutton his shirt very slowly. Jungkook doesn’t seem to need as much time to work up to it. Jimin hears the sound of his shirt rustling and being pulled over his head, then a few footsteps as he steps out of his shorts. And underwear. Presumably. 

Jimin slides his shirt off his shoulders, folding it on the table next to him. Then he reaches down to the waistband of his shorts, hesitating for a moment before pulling them down.

He’s daydreamed a lot about what it would be like to get naked with Jungkook for the first time, and while the mental scenarios have been adventurous and highly creative, he definitely did not anticipate it would happen like this.

He folds up his shorts and underwear and carefully places them on top of his shirt. The room feels a little hot. He is as nude as the day he was born.

“You ready?” Jungkook asks.

“No!” Jimin yelps. “Hold on.”

“Okay, okay,” Jungkook says, laughing under his breath. “I’m still turned around.”

“I’ll get on the table first,” Jimin says. “And then you can turn around, once I’m under the sheet.”

Jimin is so panicked, it’s only as he turns to climb onto the table that he remembers turning around will give him an up-close-and-personal view of Jungkook’s ass. But by the time he realizes, it’s too late—he’s already seen it all. 

And Jungkook is, indeed, still turned around. That much is true. He’s got his hands on his hips, he is very naked, and he has one of the best butts Jimin has ever had the privilege of witnessing in real life.

Jimin slaps a hand over his eyes, letting out a noise that’s somewhere between a whimper and a wheeze.

He lies face down on the table, reaching behind himself awkwardly to pull the sheet over his bottom half. He adjusts it nervously for a moment, then lets out a breath.

“Okay. You can turn around.”

Jimin hears the sound of the table next to him creaking under Jungkook’s weight as he climbs on top of it. “Did you look at me?”

“What?” Jimin croaks out. “No! Well, I mean—yes, but… accidentally! Passively!”

“Mmm,” Jungkook says, a little muffled now, presumably because he’s now facedown on the table as well. “Interesting.”

“It’s not interesting at all!”

“What isn’t? My butt, or the fact that you looked?”

The door opens. Jimin is so startled that he nearly falls off the table.

“Hello,” a friendly female voice calls. “I’m Iseul, and this is Nabi.”

“Hi there,” another voice chimes in.

“We’ll be your massage therapists today. Are you ready to begin?”

“Yes,” Jungkook tells them, which is helpful, because Jimin is still too tongue-tied to form words at the moment.

“This is a full-body massage, which means we’ll massage your neck and shoulders, your back, glutes, thighs, calves, all the way down to your feet. Is there anywhere you want us to avoid today?”

Although this is admittedly a foreign experience, the thought of having his muscles worked from head to toe actually sounds amazing to Jimin. Especially now, considering he is terribly stressed.

“No, that’s all good,” Jimin says. 

“Same,” Jungkook says.

There’s a brief moment of silence while both therapists squirt some warmed massage oil onto their hands, then they start working it into Jungkook and Jimin’s shoulders.

“Oh, wow,” Jimin practically groans. “That feels amazing.”

“Is this your first massage?” the woman massaging him asks.

“Yup. Can you tell?” Jimin asks.

“You’re very tense,” she says, laughing. “I knew it had to be your first, or you hadn’t had one in a long time.”

Of course I’m tense, Jimin thinks. I am naked and Jungkook is also naked and he is very close to me while we are both naked, and also, I saw his butt. 

“Am I tense?” Jungkook asks.

“Not at all,” his massage therapist says. “Your muscles are loose and relaxed.”

Jimin’s eyes roll under the table.

“Are you two enjoying your stay here so far?” 

“Yes,” Jimin says. “We’re here on a company trip. Well, I am. Jungkook came as my plus one.”

“How nice,” Jimin’s therapist says. “How long have you two been together?”

“A year,” Jungkook says immediately, long before Jimin even has a chance to try to mentally calculate how long they have been fake boyfriending. 

“Wow,” she says, thumbs pressing into the back of Jimin’s neck. He groans a little. “Good for you. How did you meet?”

Please don’t say it was at a sex shop, Jimin attempts to silently and telepathically communicate to Jungkook.

“At the zoo,” Jungkook says. “I was looking at the tigers. As it turns out, Jimin loves tigers. We struck up a two-hour-long conversation about tigers. The rest is history, as they say.”

Jimin truly has no idea how Jungkook comes up with this shit.

“Is that why you have a tiger tattooed on your arm?” the woman massaging Jungkook asks.

“Yes,” Jungkook says wistfully. “I got it right after we met, because I knew he was the one. It’s a symbol of our love.”

“That’s so romantic!” Jimin’s therapist sounds like she is swooning a little. “What a beautiful gesture.”

“It was the least I could do. Jimin is truly my entire world.”

Jimin does his best to choke back a laugh.

“What about your tattoos?” Jimin’s therapist asks him. “Are any of yours dedicated to him?”

“Oh, yes,” Jimin lies. “On my wrist… the 13th of June is the day we met.”

“Oh, wow,” the woman massaging Jungkook says. “You two are so romantic! You must be so in love!”

I had literally never seen his butt until today, Jimin thinks.

“We are,” Jungkook says, sighing. “Can you go over that spot a little harder, please?”

The rest of the 60-minute massage passes by relatively quickly, and Jimin’s hard-earned tension is eventually worked away by his massage therapist’s skilled hands. It feels incredible. He almost manages to forget about Jungkook’s butt, but then he has to hear Jungkook groaning when they get to that part of the massage, which fills his mind with so many inappropriate thoughts that he has to imagine all the least sexy scenarios he can think of (Public embarrassment! Cat poop! Horrible accidents! Mass casualties!) in order to avoid popping an incredibly ill-timed boner.

Eventually, once the massage is over, the massage therapists leave the room so that Jungkook and Jimin can get dressed again. Jimin is not sure how he is going to get off the table. He feels like he is made of jelly.

“I don’t think I can move,” Jimin mumbles.

“I’ll go first,” Jungkook offers. 

“Wait!” Jimin says. “Let me make sure you can’t see my ass.”

He reaches around, feeling to make sure the sheet is in place. His arm wobbles a little. 

“Okay. Tell me when you’re dressed,” Jimin says.

Jimin hears Jungkook hop off the table, then tries his very hardest to not think about the fact that Jungkook is still naked. You would think he’d have to have accepted this fact sometime over the past hour, but apparently not. Visions of Jungkook’s butt are still swimming behind Jimin’s eyelids, unrelenting. 

There’s the sound of clothes rustling, and a minute later, Jungkook says “Okay, I’m dressed. Want me to turn around?”

“Yes? Of course I want you to turn around,” Jimin says. “Did you think you were going to get a free show?”

“It was worth a shot.”

Jimin’s cheeks flush. “Turn around, you little perv.”

Jungkook bursts out laughing. “Hey, you looked at my butt. What does that make you?”

“A victim,” Jimin says flatly.

“Okay. Sure,” Jungkook says. Jimin can hear the smile in his voice. “Seems like you did it on purpose, though.”

“No. If I wanted to see your butt on purpose, I would ask you directly.”

Jungkook pauses. “Would you?”

Jimin blinks. 

No, I guess I wouldn’t.

“Let’s talk about something else,” Jimin declares loudly, pushing himself up on his arms. He glances over at Jungkook, who has turned to face the wall. “Stay turned around. I’m gonna get dressed.”

After his clothes are back on, he walks over and taps Jungkook on the shoulder. “Let’s go. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this hour of unexpected exhibitionism.”

“I did, actually,” Jungkook says brightly, following Jimin out of the room. 

 

  ҉  

 

“You did what?” Jimin asks, bursting into laughter so violently he almost topples over onto the brick path underfoot. He grabs at Jungkook’s arm to steady himself. “You’re kidding me.”

“Nope,” Jungkook says, tongue poking at the inside of his cheek. “And it worked, too. I never heard them again.”

He’s just told Jimin another Seokjin story—there seem to be an endless number of them. Apparently when Seokjin first started dating Hoseok, they were getting it on so loudly that it was keeping Jungkook awake at night. When Jungkook decided he had had enough, he plugged in his keyboard at full volume and started playing the theme song to every cartoon he could think of. As well as his five-year-old-equivalent skill level would allow, anyway—which is to say, not very well.

Seokjin eventually burst in, yelling over the music, demanding to know why Jungkook was ruining the ambiance. Jungkook told him that was exactly the point, and then he threatened to play the Spongebob theme song on repeat any time he was able to hear them through the wall after midnight. 

“Does it have to be Spongebob?” Seokjin had exclaimed, face flushed with exertion. 

“Yes,” Jungkook had said. 

And that was the end of that. 

“Wow,” Jimin says. “And yet he still loves you so much.”

“He does,” Jungkook confirms, wiping a little sweat off his brow. The day’s heat hasn’t subsided at all, despite the sun setting over an hour ago. “I think it’s because I can cook.”

“You can cook?” Jimin asks, eyes widening. “I didn’t know that. When we get back, will you cook for me?”

Jungkook smiles at him. “Yeah, I’ll cook for you.”

They’re walking back to their room together, a little bit tipsy after wrapping up their resort bar crawl. After their massage, they’d spent the day trying to stay cool in the pool, but eventually gave up and decided to retreat to the relief of air conditioning instead. They ate an early dinner, then bounced from bar to bar until the sun went down. They only had one drink at each, though, so they’re really not that drunk, especially considering the way they both manage to hold their liquor.

Jungkook opens the door to the building and gestures for Jimin to go in first. He does, then glances back at Jungkook with a quizzical look on his face as they walk down the hallway. “Why does it feel so hot in here?”

“I dunno. Maybe we’re just overheated,” Jungkook says with a shrug.

They reach the door to their room and Jimin unlocks it. They open the door, and when they walk in, an oppressive wall of hot, stale air hits them right in the face.

“No, this isn’t right,” Jimin says. “It’s like a sauna in here.”

“Did we accidentally turn off the AC?” Jungkook asks, slipping off his shoes and walking over to the thermostat. He taps on the screen, frowning. “It says it’s on…”

“Let me call the front desk,” Jimin says, sitting down on the bed next to the table with the room phone. “I’ll never be able to fall asleep if it’s this hot.”

He picks up the phone, pressing the button to reach the front desk. It rings a few times, then a friendly female voice answers. “Hello?”

“Hi there. We’re in room 186, and we seem to be having some trouble with our air conditioner? It says it’s on, but the room is very hot.”

“Ah, yes, is that one of the swim-up suites? Unfortunately, we've been experiencing some problems with the AC in that building since this afternoon. I believe we have a technician on site now investigating the problem, but I’m afraid I don’t have an estimate on how long it might take until it’s fixed.”

“Do you think it will be tonight?” Jimin asks. “It’s, like, very hot in here.”

“Yes, I expect it will be sometime later this evening. I’m just not able to give you an exact ETA.”

“Okay. Thank you,” Jimin says, sighing.

“You’re welcome. Please accept my deepest apologies for the inconvenience. Do give us a call if you need anything at all.”

“I will, thank you. Bye.”

Jimin hangs up the phone, then turns to Jungkook. “The AC’s busted in the whole building, apparently. She said it should hopefully be fixed tonight, but she’s not sure exactly when.”

Jungkook already looks a little damp. His face is glistening. He dabs at his forehead with his hand. “What are we gonna do?”

Jimin hums. “Maybe we should hang out in our pool? That’ll probably be the coolest option... unless we want to go out again.”

“I’m too sleepy to go back out,” Jungkook says, shaking his head. “The pool is a good idea, though.”

They get changed into their swim shorts—a much less awkward routine, now that they’ve had a few days’ worth of practice—then grab two towels from the bathroom to use to dry off when they get out of the pool. Jungkook is wearing his navy swim trunks, the ones that show off his thigh tattoo a little bit.

Jimin follows Jungkook outside, towel slung over his shoulder. 

“It literally feels the same out here as inside the room,” Jimin says, whining. “There’s no difference. Except there’s a little breeze, so if anything, it’s better.”

“Maybe it’ll be fixed by the time we go back in,” Jungkook says. He sets his towel on the ground, then steps down the stairs leading into the pool, wading into the water. The pool is glowing fluorescent blue in the dark, the rippling water reflecting in waves of light across Jungkook’s body. “Oh, this is much better.”

Jimin steps down into the pool, and the water is pleasantly cool against his bare skin, a welcome respite from the heat. It’s not chilly enough that he needs any time to let his body adjust before dunking himself in all the way, so he immediately disappears under the water, seeking its cool relief. He reappears after a moment, running both hands through his wet hair to push it back off his face.

“This is much better,” Jimin agrees, wading over to the other side of the pool. He leans back against the wall, supporting his weight with his arms. Water drips from his hair down his neck, and the breeze tickles it, cool and comforting.

Jungkook grabs the foam raft that’s floating off to one side of the pool, then pulls himself halfway onto it, so that his chin is resting on his crossed arms and he’s able to kick his feet a little.

“I guess there could be worse ways for us to pass the time,” Jungkook says.

“Mm-hmm. Many.”

“What time is our flight home tomorrow?” 

“It’s at 2:30,” Jimin says. “Checkout is at noon.”

“I can’t believe we’re already leaving. It feels like we just got here.”

“I know,” Jimin agrees. He sinks down a little deeper into the water. “It went by really fast.”

“I’m sad. I will miss our private pool and hot tub.”

Jimin sticks out his tongue a little. “What about me?”

“What about you?” Jungkook asks, tilting his head.

“Are you going to miss me, too?”

Jungkook pulls himself up a bit further onto the raft. “That depends. Am I going to have to?”

Jimin smiles. “Only if you want to.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works, actually.”

“Mmm?”

“Missing someone,” Jungkook says, frowning. “It’s not a matter of whether or not you want to. When you miss somebody, you feel it with your whole body. Maybe you can try telling your heart that you don’t want to feel it anymore, but it doesn’t usually listen. You’re just along for the ride until it ends.”

“How does it end?” Jimin asks quietly.

“Well, it ends when you don’t miss them anymore. Either because they’re there, so you don’t have to anymore, or because your heart finally realized there was no point. That it was never going to end.”

“I don’t want you to miss me,” Jimin says. The pool water laps at his shoulders, tiny ripples sent his way by Jungkook’s slow, stationary kicking.

Jungkook laughs softly, although Jimin isn’t sure what’s funny. “Jimin, honestly, I feel like I miss you even when I’m looking right at you.”

Jimin’s stomach flutters. “You—what?”

“I think it’s the anticipation,” Jungkook says, glancing away. “Of knowing that I will, later on. Eventually.”

“Then don’t.”

“What do you mean don’t? I already told you that’s not how it works.”

“You also told me that your heart will stop doing the missing once it doesn’t have to anymore.”

“You’re very confusing, you know that?” Jungkook says, pushing himself off the raft, back onto the balls of his feet at the bottom of the pool. “Last night, you broke up with me, and now you’re telling me I won’t have to miss you.”

“I didn’t break up with you,” Jimin says with a sigh. “We went over this.”

“Maybe not, but it felt like you did.”

“I thought it was what you’d want.”

“Did you ever consider asking me what I want?”

The pool raft floats between them. Jungkook is staring Jimin straight in the eye, something flickering in his gaze that Jimin doesn’t recognize. It’s not anger—his face is soft, his brows upturned. 

“I thought…” Jimin swallows. “I guess I thought I already knew.”

“Maybe you should ask me, then, and see if you’re right.”

Jungkook pushes the raft aside, taking a few steps toward Jimin. Jimin has nowhere to go—his back is already pressed against the wall of the pool. 

“Ask you…” Jimin trails off, his chest rising and falling visibly. “Ask you what?”

Jungkook draws closer, right up into Jimin’s space. He plants one arm on either side of Jimin, gripping the edge of the pool, caging him in. He’s so close that Jimin can see the water droplets clinging to his eyelashes, reflecting the blue water like tiny crystals.

“Ask me what I want.” Jungkook’s voice is soft, more velvety than Jimin has ever heard it.

Jimin’s heart speeds up, beating frantically against his ribcage.

Jimin tilts his chin up, looking Jungkook in the eye. Trying to seem braver than he feels. 

“What do you want?” Jimin asks quietly.

Jungkook doesn’t answer. 

Instead, he leans in, pressing his mouth to Jimin’s in a kiss so unexpectedly heated that Jimin’s knees nearly give out.

His mouth is warm and soft, and he’s surrounding Jimin from every side, his arms slick with pool water under the moonlight. He tastes like salt and chlorine and everything Jimin has ever wanted.

“What are you—” Jimin manages to gasp after a moment, his arms coming up to clutch at Jungkook’s shoulders. Jungkook pulls away, just enough to let him speak, their noses brushing.

“Jungkook, there’s no one here to see.”

“I know that.”

Jimin’s breath is shaky, irregular. “So then you weren’t just—”

“Jimin, tell me if this is what you want. I can never tell what you’re thinking,” Jungkook says quietly. His eyes are dark and vulnerable, reflecting the glowing light of the pool.

“Yes, I want you,” Jimin breathes, one hand moving up to tangle in Jungkook’s wet hair. Jungkook pushes all the way forward, his chest pressing against Jimin’s body. The edge of the pool digs into Jimin’s back.

“Then let me kiss you when no one is looking,” Jungkook murmurs.

So Jimin lets him. It’s frantic and heated, a blur of hands everywhere all at once, all their clandestine feelings finally flooding out into the open for anyone to see. Their quiet gasps, the nip and pull of Jungkook’s bottom lip between Jimin’s teeth, Jungkook’s broad hands sliding up Jimin’s stomach—this is the most honest they have ever been with each other.

“God, ever since I met you, this is all I’ve been able to think about,” Jungkook breathes, his voice a little labored. His fingertips press into Jimin’s back, supporting his weight. Jimin is grateful to be pushed up against the wall, because otherwise he would probably be at actual risk of falling over. 

“I didn’t think…” Jimin trails off, groaning softly as Jungkook’s mouth trails down his neck and across his shoulder. “You told me you were really picky, so I thought that was your way of telling me—”

“I am picky,” Jungkook says, lips brushing against Jimin’s skin as he speaks. “And I am picking you.”

“Oh,” Jimin says weakly, eyes fluttering closed as Jungkook’s tongue makes contact with his collarbone. “Okay.”

“You told me you had sworn off men,” Jungkook complains. Jimin is so consumed by the heat of him, the weight of him, that he can barely process the words. He wiggles against him, seeking some friction. “I am a man. I thought I was included.”

“I have decided to make an exception,” Jimin says. “But only if you stop talking and kiss me again, please.”

Jungkook smiles. He cups Jimin’s face with both hands, wet thumbs brushing over his cheeks. “Only because you asked so nicely.”

Jimin is already kissing him before he can finish saying it, swallowing down the rest of the words with his eager mouth.

Any time they’d kissed before this, Jimin always had to hold back a little. No tongue in front of coworkers—no allowing himself to get actually, legitimately turned on—no crossing the blurry lines they’d tried to establish between themselves. More than anything, he was trying to protect himself emotionally. If he kept telling himself it was fake, he was less likely to get hurt.

Now, though, he doesn’t have to worry about any of that. Although it hasn’t quite sunk into his shell-shocked, lust-addled brain, he’s now armed with a thrilling and terrifying piece of information: Jungkook wants him

And that confirmation sets Jimin free. He can finally act on all the pent-up hunger that he’s been trying—and failing—to ignore. He can be selfish. He can act how he feels: needy and demanding and brazen. He can touch everything that he’s been dying to touch. 

His hands greedily explore wet, smooth skin: Jungkook’s arms, shoulders, chest, stomach. The way Jungkook’s muscles clench under his hands sends a jolt of desire straight down through his belly. He lets his hands trail down to Jungkook’s ass, which hasn’t left his mind since they had their massage earlier that day. He squeezes a little, testing Jungkook’s reaction.

Then he uses his grip on Jungkook’s butt to pull him in, dragging him forward until their hips collide. Jungkook is already so hard that Jimin can feel the distinct shape of his cock pressed up against him under the water. Jimin shifts his weight, slotting one thigh slightly between Jungkook’s legs, a better angle for him, then shifts his hips, grinding against him. Jungkook makes a tiny strangled noise, then drops his head onto Jimin’s shoulder.

“Fuck, you’re so hot,” Jimin breathes, hands skimming along the waistband of Jungkook’s shorts. “I’ve been going crazy over you.”

“I really didn’t know,” Jungkook says quietly, inhaling sharply as Jimin presses against him again. 

“I’ll make it up to you. Can I touch you?” Jimin murmurs, hand trailing lower. 

Jungkook’s eyes widen. “Out here? I mean—yes, I want you to, but—”

Underwater, Jimin palms him through the thin material of his swim trunks, and Jungkook groans, head lolling forward again.

“Okay, maybe just a little,” Jungkook gasps. “God, I don’t know why I’m so sensitive, I’m—”

The rest of that thought is cut off when Jimin reaches down the front of Jungkook’s shorts and wraps his hand around his cock under the water. There’s barely enough space between their bodies for Jimin to have any room to maneuver, but he starts to jerk him off slowly, using his other hand to grab Jungkook’s hair and gently pull his head back off of Jimin’s shoulder.

“I want you to look at me,” Jimin murmurs, using his grip to tilt Jungkook’s head back until he’s looking him in the eyes. “While I touch you.”

Jungkook’s chest is starting to flush pink. He stares back at Jimin, chest heaving, lips parted, water dripping down his neck. Jimin tightens his grip on Jungkook’s cock, slowing down his strokes, and the noise Jungkook lets out in response is obscene.

“You are so stupidly, unbelievably hot,” Jimin tells him. “But you also need to be quiet. Someone might hear us.”

“Can’t be quiet,” Jungkook says, shaking his head. He’s nearly pouting. “Didn’t wait so long for this only to have to be quiet.”

“Then we’ll save this for later,” Jimin says, removing his hand from Jungkook’s shorts. Jungkook lets out a tiny whine. 

Jimin loops his arms around Jungkook’s neck and wraps his legs around his waist, hoisting himself up, letting himself be carried by the buoyancy of the water. Jungkook doesn’t even need to support his weight. 

It puts him at the perfect angle to feel Jungkook’s hardness right against his own. He rolls his hips in a slow circle, eyelashes fluttering closed at the delicious friction. It’s too good. He buries his face in Jungkook’s hair, moaning softly.

“Is this supposed to be better?” Jungkook wheezes, hands pressing into Jimin’s shoulder blades. “You’re going to make me come in my pants if you don’t stop.”

“Mmm, we can’t have that,” Jimin murmurs into his scalp. “When you come, I want it to be inside me.”

Jungkook makes a choked noise. “I actually don’t know if I can survive you. I may have bitten off more than I can chew.”

“You haven’t bitten me at all, yet, actually. Maybe you can do that once we get inside.”

“Let’s go inside, then. You want me to fuck you?” Jungkook breathes, looking up at him. His cheeks are flushed, his eyes dark, wavy strands of wet hair clinging to his forehead. Jimin brushes some hair back off his face, running his hand through it.

“Yeah. Please.”

Jungkook starts to walk them back across the pool, over to the stairs, moving easily through the water. Jimin expects him to struggle once he starts walking up the steps, losing the buoyancy that was keeping Jimin afloat, but he climbs them easily, arms under Jimin’s thighs to help support his weight. Water drips off them both, running down onto the tile in rivulets, soaked shorts clinging to their bodies.

“Should we dry off first?” Jimin asks, eyeing the towels sitting on the ground by the door. 

“Nope,” Jungkook says brightly, using one hand to slide open the door. “That would take too long.”

Jimin giggles into his hair, holding on tightly as Jungkook closes the door behind them. He takes a few steps toward the bed, and he’s about to drop Jimin down onto the mattress, but Jimin clings to him tighter, yelping. “Wait!”

“What?” Jungkook asks, looking up at him with concern, gripping his thighs again.

“We’re going to get the bed all wet.”

“Oh. You’re right. Hmm.”

“Just fuck me on the floor,” Jimin whines.

“Are you serious?” Jungkook asks, laughing. “I mean, I’m cool with that if you are. I would fuck you anywhere.”

“Less talking about fucking me and more actual fucking me, please.”

“So demanding,” Jungkook teases, pivoting and walking over to the closet, Jimin still in tow. He uses one arm to open up the closet door, then grabs one of the extra blankets that’s folded up on the top shelf.

“I believe you’ve said that about me before.”

“Yes, I have. My opinion hasn’t changed. Hold on tight.”

Jimin clings onto him as he shakes out the blanket, laying it out on the floor next to the bed. 

“You know, this would probably be easier if you just put me down,” Jimin says.

“I don’t wanna.”

“You’re going to have to put me down before I can get down there, anyway.”

“Nope.”

Jimin raises an eyebrow at him.

Jungkook lowers himself down carefully, bending at the knees, then easing onto his calves. It doesn’t seem like it requires any effort at all. Jimin fleetingly wonders how much he can deadlift. Once he’s seated on his knees, he leans forward, gently lying Jimin down on the blanket. Jimin stares up at him, starry-eyed. Tiny droplets of water drip off Jungkook’s hair, landing on Jimin’s cheeks, and Jimin scrunches his eyes shut, laughing.

“Hi,” Jungkook breathes, sinking down on top of him, their noses bumping.

“Hi, cutie.”

“Pet names already? I don’t know if my heart can take it.”

“Don’t be so cute, then.”

“There is a small problem,” Jungkook admits. “I didn’t bring condoms with me. I didn’t want you to think I was, like… a predator.”

Jimin closes his eyes and silently thanks Taehyung.

“I have some. It’s a long story. Taehyung packed them in my bag.”

Jungkook bursts out laughing. “What? Why?”

“Let’s just say he was rooting for you. Wanna get them? There should be lube, too. They’re in the inside pocket on the left side.”

“Don’t go anywhere,” Jungkook says solemnly, climbing off him and walking over to his suitcase in the corner. 

“I wasn’t planning on it. Not after you deposited me with such care.”

“Do you want a pillow?” Jungkook asks, rummaging through the suitcase.

“No. I want you to fuck me.”

“Okay, I get it,” Jungkook says, laughing. He eventually locates the lube and condoms, then pads back over to the blanket with wet feet, leaving small puddles in his wake. His swim trunks are obnoxiously tented at the front.

He climbs back on top of Jimin, setting the goods off to the side. “You want my fingers first?”

Jimin’s dick twitches instinctively. “Yes, please.”

“Okay,” Jungkook says, pressing a kiss to the side of Jimin’s head. It’s the beginning of  a trail down: across his jaw, down his neck, down the center of his chest. He kisses each individual letter of Jimin’s tattoo. Jimin starts squirming—he’s so hard that he’s starting to hurt a little bit.

Jungkook reaches Jimin’s stomach, and he kisses right above the waistband of his shorts, underneath his belly button. 

“Jungkook. Wait,” Jimin says.

“Hmm?” Jungkook asks, thumbs rubbing tiny circles into Jimin’s hip bones.

“You know I don’t do one night stands,” Jimin says quietly.

Jungkook smiles up at him. “Trust me, Jimin, this definitely won’t be a one night stand.”

“Oh. Okay,” Jimin breathes. “Take them off.”

Jungkook pulls down his swim trunks, not without a bit of effort, as the wet fabric clings to Jimin’s thighs all the way down. His cock springs out, red and leaking. He truly can’t remember the last time he was this turned on. Jungkook could ask to fuck him with no lube and he would probably agree. 

“So pretty,” Jungkook murmurs, wrapping a hand around Jimin’s dick and squeezing lightly. Jimin moans, high and cracked, his back arching.

“Don’t, don’t,” he gasps. “Seriously, I’ll come.”

“Did I get you that worked up?” Jungkook says, pressing a kiss into Jimin’s inner thigh. “Let me fix it.”

He pushes Jimin’s legs apart gently, easing them open. Then he reaches over and grabs the lube, squirting a little bit onto his fingers, taking a moment to warm it up. And then one long, skilled finger is pushing its way into Jimin, slippery and hot.

“Oh, fuck,” Jimin whines, spreading his legs further. 

“Is that okay?” Jungkook murmurs, sliding out halfway, then back in. He curls his finger a little, up towards Jimin’s prostate, pressing upwards. Jimin lets out a strangled moan, throwing his arm over his face.

“I’m going to assume that means it’s okay,” Jungkook says, barely giving Jimin a chance to recover before he’s repeating the motion. 

“Stop trying to make me come,” Jimin chokes out, dick twitching against his stomach. “Just get me ready. Please. Want you to fuck me.”

“You’ve said,” Jungkook says, smiling. He eases in another finger slowly, carefully. This one burns a little more, but the stretch isn’t totally unpleasant. “Sorry. It’s just really hot to watch you like this.”

“You know what would be even hotter?”

“Let me guess,” Jungkook says, crooking his fingers again. “Fucking you.”

“Yes,” Jimin moans. 

Jungkook finally manages to stop teasing Jimin long enough to get him thoroughly prepared. By the time he’s worked three fingers in, Jimin is writhing underneath him on the floor, tears forming in the corners of his eyes. He wants Jungkook so badly that he is literally on the verge of tears. 

“I’ve got you,” Jungkook murmurs, slipping out of him and sliding back up his body, leaning down to kiss him. “Do you want to stay like this?”

“Please,” Jimin begs, half-delirious with want. “Want to see you.”

“Okay,” Jungkook says, kissing him one more time before pulling back slightly and reaching for the condom. He quickly slides down his shorts, stepping out of them, then rips the condom open, rolling it on hastily. He places both hands on Jimin’s thighs, pushing them back for easier access. 

“Can you hold yourself like that for a minute, baby?”

“Mmm,” Jimin hazily agrees, reaching down to hold his legs. 

Jungkook lines himself up with Jimin’s entrance, then pushes in slowly. Jimin throws his head back, letting out a gasp. Jungkook is big—not monstrously so, but enough that there’s a burn and stretch as he slides in all the way, grabbing Jimin’s thighs again. 

“Fuck, Jimin,” Jungkook breathes shakily, leaning down closer. “You’re so tight. Oh my God.”

“More, more,” Jimin gasps, hands flying up to tangle in Jungkook’s hair. 

Jungkook reaches one hand behind Jimin’s head, cradling it in his palm, softening his contact with the hard floor. Then he sinks down, pressing their bodies together, pulling out and sliding back in slowly. It’s warm and wet and Jimin can’t remember the last time he felt anything like this—this overwhelming electricity, this heat coursing through his whole body. 

“You feel so good,” Jungkook groans, hips stuttering once he’s all the way in. His chest is glistening with sweat, every muscle in his body tensed. “Even—even better than I imagined you would. Ah, fuck, Jimin—” he inhales sharply as Jimin clenches around him.

“You thought about this,” Jimin says, moaning a little as Jungkook thrusts into him again. He tilts his head back into Jungkook’s hand, staring up at him, lips parted. “About fucking me?”

“So much,” Jungkook breathes, picking up the pace a bit. “Wanted you so bad. Couldn’t stop thinking about you.”

“I thought about you when I—” Jimin gasps as Jungkook adjusts the angle of his hips slightly and hits his prostate head on. “When I’d jerk off. Would think about you inside of me. Wanted you so—so fucking bad.”

“Fuck,” Jungkook whines, leaning down to bury his face in Jimin’s shoulder. “We need to stop talking if you don’t want me to come in, like, five seconds.”

“You can come whenever you want,” Jimin breathes. “Want you to feel good.”

“Want you to come first,” Jungkook says, still cradling Jimin’s head. “Do you want me to touch you?”

“Please, yes—please.”

Jungkook leans down and kisses him, and it’s messy and uncoordinated, but lovely all the same. Jimin sucks on his bottom lip, whining quietly as Jungkook repeatedly hits just the right spot, quickening his thrusts. Jimin wants more, wants to have him inside and out—everywhere he touches, tastes, feels, he wants to find only Jungkook and nothing else.

Jungkook reaches down between them and wraps his hand around Jimin’s cock, slick and dripping with precum. He pumps it slowly, working up his speed until he’s moving in sync with his thrusts, and the pleasure is flooding Jimin’s senses, a familiar heat building deep inside him, like a coil winding up tight in his belly. 

“Jungkook, oh—”

He’s barely cognizant of the noises he’s making anymore—he’s only thinking about Jungkook’s breath, hot on his shoulder, overwhelmed by the feeling of being filled and stroked simultaneously as Jungkook murmurs quiet praises into his skin. 

It hits him before he’s expecting it, crashing over his whole body with a jolt, his limbs trembling. He comes with a choked moan, muscles tensing, spilling white all over his stomach and Jungkook’s hand.

“So beautiful like this,” Jungkook pants, hand splayed across Jimin’s stomach. “Ah, Jimin—”

Jungkook keeps fucking him, but he doesn’t last long, egged on by Jimin’s whines, teetering on the edge of overstimulation. He comes loudly, his thrusts turning irregular, Jimin’s name escaping his lips in a guttural moan that Jimin immediately wishes he could hear again. 

Jungkook collapses on top of him, breathing hard.

It’s suddenly so much quieter.

Jimin wraps both arms around him in a hug, nuzzling his nose against Jungkook’s collarbone. They’re silent for several moments as they let the world fade back in around them, catching their breath.

“We’re on the floor,” Jungkook eventually says, sounding like he’s only just realizing it now.

“We are,” Jimin confirms.

“What are we, Neanderthals?”

Jimin laughs. “You should be thanking me. Now we don’t have to sleep in a soggy bed.”

Jungkook lifts his head, nudging it upwards until he finds Jimin’s mouth. He kisses him, smiling a little. It’s chaste, but tender. 

“I’m so sleepy,” Jungkook mumbles. “It feels cooler in here too, now, doesn’t it? Maybe the AC started working again.”

“Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Jimin says, laughing. “You are literally still inside of me. I am slightly distracted.”

“Ah, sorry,” Jungkook says, looking sheepish.

“It’s okay.”

Jungkook pulls out of him slowly, and Jimin winces at the sudden emptiness. 

“Wanna sleep,” Jungkook says, rolling off Jimin a little. “I’m so tired I don’t know how I’m gonna get up off the floor.”

“I’m exhausting, I know,” Jimin says with a smile.

“In all the ways I dreamed,” Jungkook tells him, nose scrunching.

“We should shower. I need to wash the chlorine out of my hair or it’ll turn green. Also, my come is all over you.”

Jungkook glances down at his stomach. “Ah. Right.”

“Do you wanna shower with me?” Jimin asks. “No funny business. I don’t have the stamina. It would just mean we can go to sleep quicker.”

“At some point, I’m going to have to test this theory about your stamina,” Jungkook tells him. “But not tonight, don’t worry. And yes, I would love to shower with you. But you might have to carry me in there.”

Jimin brushes some hair out of Jungkook’s eyes. “I think you might be out of luck, then,” he says. “You’re huge.”

Jungkook bursts out laughing. “I’m not huge. Just… heavy.”

“You’re huge compared to me.”

“That just means you’ve acquired a new mode of transportation. I can carry you wherever you would like to go. Congratulations.”

“Okay. To the shower?” Jimin says brightly.

“I started this conversation questioning how I could carry myself to the shower. I’ll start my job as your new mode of transportation tomorrow.”

There’s something about that thought—about having a tomorrow with Jungkook—that makes Jimin’s heart do a tiny flip inside his chest.

Jimin eases himself up off the floor, groaning, then offers an arm to Jungkook to help him up. As he takes Jimin’s hand and stands up, Jimin glances down the length of his body, eyebrows raising.

He’d been so distracted while he and Jungkook were fucking that he didn’t even notice it, but with his shorts off, Jungkook’s thigh tattoo is in full view. It’s a floral piece, a black and white arrangement of tiger lilies and peonies. It’s gorgeous. The design perfectly accents the curve of his muscular hip.

“Your tattoo is pretty,” Jimin murmurs. He reaches out and brushes a finger across it lightly. “I always wondered what it was. Especially after all your tormenting.”

“Thank you. I was hoping you would get the chance to see.” 

They head into the bathroom together, and Jimin turns the handle to start running the shower, the bathroom quickly filling with steam as the water heats up. Luckily, the shower stall is more than large enough for two, and they’re able to make quick work of getting washed up. 

The heated desire that had consumed them earlier has been sated for now—this is all soft and domestic, the way Jimin helps Jungkook wash his hair, the way he runs soapy hands over his stomach to help scrub off the aftermath of their floor aerobics. Jungkook is sleepy, barely able to keep his eyes open once he’s under the hot water. He mostly just stands there and lets Jimin do the work, giving him an occasional forehead kiss as a thank you.

“You wouldn’t be so tired if you hadn’t spent ten minutes hauling me around to every corner of the bedroom earlier,” Jimin says, laughing as he tips Jungkook’s head back to help rinse out the shampoo. “I told you it was unnecessary.”

“But I wanna be your mode of transportation,” Jungkook mumbles sleepily, wrapping both arms around Jimin and trapping him in a hug.

“Yes, you did tell me that,” Jimin says, smiling against his chest. He rests his cheek there for a moment. “You’re so funny. Also, I can’t believe I am in the shower with you right now.”

“I can,” Jungkook murmurs against the top of Jimin’s head. “After all, I have spent the past three days trying to woo you. I was starting to think my efforts were not going to pay off.”

Jimin pulls away, blinking up at him. He laughs. “Trust me, Jungkook, you didn’t even have to try.”

After they’ve both gotten all rinsed off, Jimin turns off the shower, then helps Jungkook step out, handing him a clean towel. He ruffles it over his hair, trying to dry it a bit. “I’m going to look like a monster in the morning, going to sleep with my hair like this,” Jungkook warns him. “You might be scared of me.”

“I don’t think I will be,” Jimin says, smiling.

The rest of it is calm and quiet and comfortable: they each get dressed in their pajamas, completing their respective pre-bedtime routines, turning off all the lights and crawling into bed. Jimin’s in a clean white t-shirt and gym shorts, and Jungkook is only wearing sweatpants. Jimin has never appreciated a warm, dry, freshly made bed so much before.

“Snuggle,” Jungkook demands in the dark, rolling to face Jimin and opening his arms.

Jimin laughs. “I thought I was supposed to be the demanding one.”

Jungkook pouts. 

“I’m just kidding. Of course I’ll snuggle with you. I’ve been fantasizing about being your bamboo stalk for days.”

“What?” Jungkook asks sleepily, eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

“Nothing.”

Jimin scoots over, letting Jungkook wrap both arms around him. He nuzzles in against him, placing a palm flat across his chest, then closes his eyes, sighing.

“You’re going to be asleep in, like, three seconds, aren’t you?” Jimin asks.

He’s met with silence in response. Jungkook’s breaths are evening out, slow and long. Jimin just laughs quietly against him, shaking his head.

“Goodnight,” he whispers into Jungkook’s chest.

He falls asleep soon after that, snug under the weight of a heavily tattooed arm, feeling overwhelmingly safe and content, wishing he could stay here in Jeju with Jungkook forever.

 

  ҉  

 

When Jimin wakes up, he’s being actively crushed by a solid body. Jungkook has climbed almost fully on top of Jimin in his sleep, both arms and legs wrapped around him tightly. Jimin’s face is pressed against his shoulder. Jungkook is still fast asleep, his head on Jimin’s pillow, his breaths soft against Jimin’s cheek.

“Jungkook,” Jimin wheezes out, rubbing his arm a little, trying to wake him up. “You’re squishing me.”

Jungkook groans, turning his head, then dropping it onto Jimin’s pillow, face down. “Mmm?”

“I think you accidentally activated killer koala mode.”

Jungkook’s eyes squint open slightly, and then he seems to realize just how much of his weight is currently resting on top of Jimin’s body. He rolls off him, repositioning himself so that he’s lying on his side. 

“Sorry,” Jungkook mumbles, still half asleep. “Did I squish?”

“Yes. Very aggressively,” Jimin confirms.

“It’s because I like you,” Jungkook murmurs, leaning over and resting the side of his face against Jimin’s bicep.

“Oh,” Jimin says. He leans down and kisses the top of Jungkook’s head. “I like you too.”

“Mmm. Cute.”

Jimin scrunches his nose. “I’m glad you think so.”

Jungkook is quiet, sighing against Jimin’s arm.

“Are you going back to sleep? I think we should probably get up. We only have a couple of hours before we need to check out.”

“Mm-hmm. I’ll wake up,” Jungkook says. “This is just nice.”

Jimin rolls onto his side a bit more, so that he’s facing Jungkook directly. He looks beautiful like this: lashes sleepily fluttering against his cheeks, hair wavy and messy, his cheeks pink from where they were squished against Jimin as he slept.

“Are you okay with what happened last night?” Jimin asks him quietly.

“Okay is quite an understatement, I think,” Jungkook says. He opens his eyes, blinking to clear them. “I am… jubilant.”

“Ah, jubilant. That’s a good word.”

“I am actually more interested in hearing how you feel about it,” Jungkook says. He sounds a little nervous all of a sudden. “Jimin, before last night, I didn’t… I really, legitimately didn’t know how you felt. It felt like I was taking a huge risk, kissing you like that.”

“I’m sorry,” Jimin says softly. “I think I was just scared of getting hurt.”

Jungkook frowns. “I wish you didn’t feel that way. But I understand it. Especially after what happened with… actually, I’m not even going to say his name. I don’t even want to acknowledge his existence.”

Jimin smiles. “Honestly, I’m happy he did that to me.”

“What?” Jungkook asks, brows furrowing.

“If he didn’t, I wouldn’t have met you. So I think it was probably all meant to happen this way.”

Jungkook’s face softens. “Oh.”

“I like you so much,” Jimin says quietly, suddenly feeling too nervous to look him in the eye. “It stopped being fake for me a long time ago.”

“It was never fake for me,” Jungkook admits, reaching out to tuck a bit of Jimin’s hair behind his ear. “Which was highly emotionally irresponsible of me, so you can imagine how relieved I am now.”

“Not even at the beginning?” Jimin asks, eyes widening.

Jungkook shakes his head. “I’m actually not a good actor at all. It only seemed real because I didn’t have to pretend.”

Jimin snuggles in a bit closer. “We’re both idiots.”

Jungkook bursts into laughter, tightening his arms around Jimin. “I think we were doing our best.”

“This feels like a dream,” Jimin murmurs against Jungkook’s chest, eyes closing.

“Oh, Jimin. You can’t say stuff like that to me.”

“Why?”

“You’re going to bring out my fatal flaws. I’m going to scare you away.”

Jimin pulls away to look at his face, his eyes twinkling. “Oh, no. Jungkook, please don’t tell me you’re in love with me. It’s been a day—

Jungkook laughs, then rolls over so that he’s halfway on top of Jimin, smiling down at him. His face gets a little more serious, like he’s pondering what he’s going to say for a moment.

“I’m not going to tell you that I’m in love with you. But I’ll tell you this…” he swallows. “I think I will fall in love with you. If you give me the chance.”

Jimin’s heart skips a beat.

“I will give you the chance,” Jimin says softly. “If you give me the chance, too.”

Jungkook leans down, pressing his mouth to Jimin’s. The kiss is gentle and featherlight. It feels like a promise. 

“Okay,” Jungkook says, smiling. There’s a tiny dimple in his left cheek, and Jimin reaches up to poke it. “Let’s go home.”

 

  ҉  

 

“What do you think about potatoes?” Seokjin asks, his voice demanding. “Answer quickly.”

“I think they’re great?” Taehyung responds with wide eyes. “Why do I suddenly feel like... that was the wrong thing to say?”

“No, that was the correct answer,” Seokjin says, draining the rest of his beer. “They are the perfect food. The best ingredient. If you’d have said anything derogatory, we wouldn’t have gotten on well. I think this friendship is off to a great start.”

“He loves gamja hotdogs,” Hoseok helpfully pipes up from across the table.

“I feel like you two are going to get along just fine,” Yoongi says flatly, looking between Seokjin and Taehyung.

“Because you’re both weird,” Jimin whispers loudly.

“Weird!” Seokjin gasps, setting down his glass. “I’m not weird. I’m merely… distinguished. Perhaps a little eccentric, on occasion.”

“Life is easier once you own up to it,” Taehyung tells him, reaching across the table to pat his hand.

“Jungkook, I’m trying very hard to like your boyfriend’s friends,” Seokjin says. “Please tell me I’m doing a good job.”

“You’re doing a great job,” Jungkook reassures him. 

The six of them are seated together in a large booth at the White Rabbit, the same bar where Jungkook and Jimin first met. Jimin is curled up against Jungkook’s side, Jungkook’s arm looped around his shoulders.

“You know, I think it’s funny that you always used to make fun of me and Yoongi for our public displays of affection,” Taehyung says to Jimin, waggling his eyebrows. “Now look at you.” 

“This is very tame!” Jimin says, crossing his arms. “Family friendly, even.”

“This shouldn’t be surprising to you,” Yoongi says, turning to Taehyung. “They’ve always been all over each other, even when they were pretending to pretend to like each other.”

“Pretending to pretend to like each other,” Taehyung says, eyebrows furrowing. “That is too many pretends for me to parse.”

“What an exhausting phase,” Seokjin says flatly. “I had to listen to Jungkook drone on about Jimin all day every day. I almost asked him to start going to therapy.”

“What?” Jimin asks, eyes widening. 

“He’s exaggerating!” Jungkook says, laughing nervously. “Ah, Seokjin, you’re so funny. Such a comedian!”

“You cried over his butt once,” Seokjin says. “That alone warranted therapy, I think.”

What—” 

“Why don’t we go dance?” Jungkook suggests loudly, his cheeks turning pink. “I think we’ve had enough to drink. Clearly.”

Jimin dissolves into laughter next to him, clinging to his arm.

“Thank God. I couldn’t bear another minute of this. No offense,” Yoongi says. He slides out of the booth, and Taehyung follows him, taking his hand as they make their way out to the dance floor, weaving through the crowd.

“Let’s go,” Hoseok urges Seokjin, and they climb out of the booth as well. “You guys coming?”

“In a minute,” Jimin tells them, smiling.

They walk away, leaving Jimin and Jungkook alone in the booth.

Jimin turns to Jungkook, trying to keep a straight face. “You really were down bad, huh?”

“You already know I was!” Jungkook says, covering his face with his hands. “This is not new information.”

“It’s okay,” Jimin says, laughing and pulling Jungkook’s hands away from his face. “I was too. You just didn’t know.”

“I am truly so grateful that those days are behind us.”

“Me too,” Jimin says, leaning forward and kissing him softly. He lingers for a moment before pulling away. “Although they were kind of fun, in their own way.”

“I think being able to kiss you whenever I want is more fun, actually.”

“I can’t argue with that.” 

Jimin scoots across the booth and climbs out, rising to his feet. He reaches out a hand to Jungkook. “Shall we dance?”

Jungkook takes his hand, rising to his full height and stepping in close.

“Do you just want to dance, or do you want to put on a show?”

Jimin smiles. “Let’s put on a show.”