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You're Supposed to Take Me Seriously

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Taehyung could feel Jimin’s smile against his lips. “Jimin,” he tried to say as a warning, but his bottom lip got snagged between Jimin’s teeth.

Jimin hummed in acknowledgement. He draped his arms around Taehyung’s shoulders, and Taehyung tried to focus on keeping himself from crushing Jimin into the couch instead of Jimin’s growing grin. He always felt heavy sitting in Jimin’s lap. Jimin was tiny and light as a feather. Taehyung could fit him in the palm of his hand. If anything, Jimin should be in Taehyung’s lap, but here he was, straddling Jimin and trying desperately to take this somewhere before-

Jimin giggled into the kiss.

Taehyung pulled away. “ Jimin ,” he complained.

“What?” Jimin asked, feigning innocence. The giant smile on his face gave him away. “What? I didn’t do anything. Come back.”

“You’re laughing ,” Taehyung muttered, but he ducked back in anyway. He was always a little lightheaded when Jimin started smiling at him. It was hard to be big, brave, and manly and have things your way with a boyfriend like Jimin. Everything he said, Taehyung ended up doing.

Taehyung’s thumb slipped up under Jimin’s shirt to rub at his hipbone. He could never get over how close they were when they were kissing. He could feel all of Jimin’s heat splayed out beneath him, his warm thighs under Taehyung’s and his hot pulse under his hands.

Taehyung’s nose bumped into Jimin’s little flat one. Jimin had a cold, and he was a little stuffy. Taehyung didn’t mind the snot. There was only one thing that ever got in the way of Taehyung kissing Jimin: Jimin’s laughter.

“I’m not laughing,” Jimin promised belatedly. Taehyung relocated to sucking at Jimin’s neck as he spoke. “I’m just-“ He cut himself off with a giggle. “I’m not laughing.”

Taehyung tried to focus. He tried to ignore Jimin’s laughter and put all his attention and energy into making a sizable hickey on Jimin’s neck, but Jimin wasn’t making it easy. He was shaking from holding back laughter (Taehyung knew it; it happened every time ), and he was squirming too much to pin down.

Jimin made a high pitch squeaking noise. “No,” Taehyung said, pulling away from Jimin’s neck and kissing him hard on the lips as if to physically hold his laughter back. Taehyung squeezed his eyes closed. Please don’t, please don’t, please don’t.

Jimin did.

When Jimin laughed, it almost exploded out of him, like it was all building up in his chest until it had to burst out all at the same time.  Taehyung pulled away to avoid Jimin actually laughing in his face.

It took Jimin a minute to control his giggles, but when he did, he started cooing at Taehyung. “Oh, TaeTae, come on. Come back, we’ll finish.”

“No,” Taehyung said, pouting.

“I promise, I won’t laugh anymore.”

“You’re a liar ,” Taehyung complained, even as Jimin gathered him up in his arms.

“Well, at least come snuggle me, I can’t see your butt when you’re sitting up like this,” Jimin said, pulling Taehyung close. He tucked his chin over Taehyung’s shoulder to appreciate the view.

“My butt doesn’t want to see you,” Taehyung complained. “It doesn’t like you, you always laugh at it.”

Jimin snorted. Taehyung could tell he was trying really hard to keep from laughing out loud again. “How can I not laugh at it? It’s so cute,” Jimin said. He dropped a hand and slid it into Taehyung’s back pocket. Normally Taehyung liked when Jimin’s tiny hands started grabbing at him, but right now he just felt discouraged.

“It’s supposed to be serious,” Taehyung whined.

Jimin snorted again. “Serious?”

“Yes.” Taehyung sat up a bit, but Jimin forced him right back down, smushing Taehyung’s cheek into his strong shoulder. “You’re supposed to take it seriously, and... and treasure it, and not laugh when it’s just trying it’s best. You’re supposed to like it.”

Jimin was still for a minute. He took his hand out of Taehyung’s pocket and instead laced his fingers through his hair. “Taehyung, I do treasure you,” Jimin said, seeing right through him. They weren’t just talking about butts; they never had been. “And I know you’re just trying your best. You’re doing a really good job,” he promised.

“No, I’m not. You always laugh!”

“I’m ticklish,” Jimin said.

“No, you’re not, I’m ticklish,” Taehyung pouted, and —as if to prove it— Jimin tickled his side. Taehyung squealed and pushed his hands away. “Stop it! Sex is serious business!”

“So serious,” Jimin agreed, switching to tickling Taehyung’s neck.

“The most serious!” Taehyung yelped. He guarded his neck with his hands, and Jimin switched to his toes.

“Completely and totally serious,” Jimin agreed before turning the tables. He threw Taehyung onto the couch and climbed on top of him. He tickled Taehyung’s soft tummy until Taehyung was laughing so hard he was crying and he was scared about peeing his pants. Jimin peppered his face with kisses the whole time.

“Stop, stop, stop!”

“Okay,” Jimin eventually agreed. His fingers stilled, but he didn’t stop giving cushy baby kisses all over Taehyung’s nose, cheeks, and forehead. “How about I get you some hot chocolate to cheer you up, huh? You want mini marshmallows?”

“Mini marshmallows are the least you can do,” Taehyung said, and Jimin kissed him one last time on the nose before rushing off to the kitchen. Taehyung sat up on the couch and folded his legs beneath him. Hot chocolate wasn’t a good substitute for sex with his boyfriend, but at least Jimin would probably sit in his lap while he drank it. If he acted bitter enough, Jimin might even agree to watch an animal documentary with him as an apology.

The electric kettle beeped. “Totoro mug or tentacle mug?” Jimin called from the kitchen.

“Tentacle,” Taehyung answered. It was bigger.

Naughty, Taehyung.”

“You’re the one who bought it!”

Jimin came out of the kitchen a second later with two almost-overflowing mugs in his hands and a bag of marshmallows tucked under his armpit. Taehyung straightened up in anticipation. “Wanna watch Planet Earth?” Jimin asked, an obvious peace offering.

Taehyung knew Jimin would offer, but he still gasped in surprise. Sometimes knowing wasn’t the same thing as knowing , and he really did love animal documentaries. “Yes! I really want to do that!”

Jimin smiled fondly at him as he turned it on.


“Okay,” Hoseok said abruptly. “I need to get out of here, or I’m going to go insane. Like frothing-at-the-mouth, crawling-around-on-all-fours, raised-by-wolves insane.”

“Then by all means, leave,” Yoongi said.

Taehyung blinked at Hoseok for a minute and then dropped his head straight into one of his textbooks. He didn’t know how long he’d been studying (Yoongi stole his phone three chapters ago), but it had been sunny on the walk to the library. Now the moon was high in the sky and they had shut off the overhead lighting.

“TaeTae, you okay?” Jimin asked, scratching at his head.

“I’m going to fail,” Taehyung answered.

“So, no?”

“This is what you get for cramming,” Yoongi said haughtily, stretching his arms above his head.

“You’re cramming, too,” Hoseok said. Yoongi huffed, and Hoseok smacked him in the stomach. Yoongi doubled over. Meanwhile, Taehyung didn’t take his nose out of the spine of his textbook.

Jimin combed through Taehyung’s hair. “TaeTae, why don’t you head home with Hobi? I think you should go get some sleep.”

“What about you?” Taehyung asked, rolling his head to look at Jimin. There were bags under Jimin’s eyes. Taehyung knew just how seriously Jimin took midterms, but he didn’t like how Jimin often neglected his own health for his grades. He reached out for Jimin’s free hand, threading their fingers together in an attempt to pass along some of his concern.

“I had two cups of coffee two hours ago. I’m still a little wired. Yoongi will walk me back when I get tired, I’m sure.”

“Fat chance,” Yoongi scoffed, but they both knew he didn’t mean it. Yoongi was the nicest person Taehyung knew; he just didn’t like to admit it.

“You’re sleepy, Taehyungie,” Jimin pointed out. His voice was so soft and caring, Taehyung couldn’t help but agree. “Go home.”

“M’kay.” Taehyung closed his eyes.

“You have to be awake to walk back.”

“Hoseok can carry me.”

“I’m not carrying anybody,” Hoseok said. “Stick your books in your backpack and let’s get out of here.”

In the end, Jimin helped Taehyung pack up his backpack. Taehyung tried to drape himself over Hoseok’s back as they walked out of the library, but Hoseok refused to let him. Instead, Hoseok shoved him into Jimin’s arms for a kiss goodbye, while he gave Yoongi a stern lecture about getting enough sleep and not working himself to death.

It was hard to tell if the message made it through. Yoongi only grabbed Hoseok’s hand and kissed it before sending him on his way. Taehyung scurried after Hoseok, his backpack high on his shoulders.

“So,” Hoseok said as they stepped outside. “That was kind of like a double date.”

Taehyung shrugged, his overstuffed backpack making it difficult. “I guess.”

“How are things going with you and Jimin, anyway?” Hoseok asked.

Taehyung frowned and scrubbed at his eyes. He really was exhausted, maybe too exhausted for this conversation. Hoseok and Yoongi had been dating for years. All the wrinkled parts of their relationship had been ironed out a long time ago. Meanwhile, Taehyung and Jimin were new, and sometimes Taehyung felt like they were the most wrinkly. Like no amount of steam, or heat, or fabric relaxer could make them smooth again.

Jimin obviously loved him, and he obviously cared. But sometimes Taehyung still felt like he was failing. He didn’t know how to talk to Hoseok about it, though. “Um...It’s good. I like Jimin.”

“You’ve always liked Jimin,” Hoseok said.

Taehyung pulled a piece of hair between his eyes and crossed them to stare at it. “I guess that’s true.”

“You guys seem happy together.”

Taehyung sighed. “Maybe too happy.”

Hoseok’s head whipped around to look at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, suddenly concerned, and Taehyung stopped walking, his hands jammed in his pockets.

“It’s just... Well, is it normal to laugh during sex?”

“Is it normal?” Hoseok asked, blinking. Taehyung nodded and squirmed, digging his hands further into his pockets. Hoseok sputtered. “I mean... Sure. Sex is awkward and weird sometimes. Laughing can help ease the tension, make things more comfortable, and—“

“No, but like... What if one person laughs all the time. Like so much and so hard, it’s impossible to continue? Like every time you kiss them, they just start laughing and squirming, and you have to wait until they stop, and it ruins the mood so you never get past kissing and like... maybe taking your shirts off.”

Hoseok looked dumbfounded. “You and Jimin only take your shirts off?”

Taehyung flushed. “Never mind,” he said. His feet went from zero to sixty, speed walking past Hoseok and down the path to the apartments.

Hoseok jogged to catch up with him. “Wait, wait, wait,” he said. “Who is the one laughing? You or Jimin?”

Taehyung slowed down. “Jimin,” he answered.

“Jimin laughs at you?”

Hoseok.

“Okay, sorry,” Hoseok said, putting his hands up in surrender. “It’s just... kind of weird. I mean, sometimes I laugh at Yoongi, like when he’s acting really needy or when he starts licking me too much—“

“Ew,” Taehyung cut in.

“But it never gets in the way,” Hoseok finished, ignoring him. “We just pick up where we left off.”

Taehyung pulled his backpack a little higher up on his shoulders. He stared at the ground, humiliated.  “I don’t like people laughing at me,” he said quietly.

“Oh, Taehyung,” Hoseok cooed, throwing an arm around his shoulders. “I’m sure Jimin’s just nervous or something. Why don’t you talk to him about it?”

“I’ve tried .”

“Try when you’re not in the middle of it. Try when you both have shirts on.”

Taehyung took a deep breath. That wasn’t a bad idea. “Okay... Maybe after midterms. Jimin doesn’t like kissing when he has tests, anyway. He’s always too busy reading.”

Hoseok squeezed his shoulders encouragingly. “There’s a plan! Yoongi doesn’t like kissing when he has work due either. Usually I just give him foot massages and stare at him pointedly while he ignores me.”

“Jimin might like a foot massage,” Taehyung said, inspired.

“Foot massages and sexy conversation,” Hoseok said like he was thinking it over. “Nothing wrong with that. I say go for it.”

Taehyung nodded, steeling himself in preparation. He wasn’t always the best at asking questions that might result in his feelings being hurt. He much preferred suffering in silence than humiliating himself. However, now that he was in college, he was trying to be a little more mature.

And anyway, if he wanted Jimin to take him seriously, then he needed to be serious. Talking to him was the best option. He just had to be brave.


Taehyung snuck up behind Jimin. “Guess who,” he said, hands covering Jimin’s entire face.

Jimin peeled Taehyung’s fingers apart, speaking through them. “Taehyung, we’re alone. I know it’s you.”

“Ah, Jimin, so smart. No wonder why you have straight As.”

Taehyung hated being cooped up, but he had willingly spent the last three hours in Jimin and Jungkook’s tiny one bedroom apartment. Jimin was exhausted. He had worked himself to the bone for his good grades, and Taehyung wanted to give him some time to rest. He had even sat still through four episodes of Hoarders, which usually made him feel so itchy, he had to get up and walk away. (It was like the bugs could travel through the TV screen and crawl into Taehyung’s hair.)

Jimin sputtered. “You’re a goofball,” he said, grabbing Taehyung’s hand and tugging on it hard so Taehyung bent over. Taehyung fell into Jimin’s trap: a kiss on the lips.

“A goofball who loves you,” Taehyung pointed out, pushing his glasses up his nose.

Jimin snorted and went back to his New Testament reading. Just because midterms were over, that didn’t mean homework stopped. However, Taehyung was tired of staring at the back of Jimin’s head. It was time to take a break. Or at the very least, it was time for all Jimins to pay attention to their Taehyungs.

Taehyung scooped Jimin up out of his chair.

“Hey, wha~”

“Shh, I’m pampering you,” Taehyung said, cutting Jimin off. He grabbed a spare blanket off the couch and Jimin’s house keys.

“Where are you taking me?” Jimin asked.

“Shh, I’m pampering you,” Taehyung repeated.

“I don’t have shoes on!” Jimin squeaked.

“I’m pampering you . Let me pamper you,” Taehyung said. He carted Jimin over the threshold of the apartment and out into the hallway. As they made their way to the stairway, Jimin wriggled in his arms.

“Taehyung!”

“Listen, as your boyfriend, it’s my duty to make sure you’re strong, healthy, and vitaminified.”

“Vitaminified?” Jimin asked. “What’s that?”

“I’m not surprised you don’t know,” Taehyung said. “Especially considering you’re not vitaminified at all. I’ll have you know, that you’re severely lacking in Vitamin D.”

“Ah.”

“So I’m taking you to get some.”

“You could have just asked me to go outside, Taehyung. You didn’t have to cart me out here like this,” Jimin said as Taehyung carried him out of the building and into the sun. “I would have put on some sunscreen.”

“You don’t need to worry about sunscreen,” Taehyung promised. “I like you any which ways: pale or tan. That’s what boyfriends are for, you know.”

Jimin grinned up at him. “Oh, of course, how could I have been so foolish?”

There was a big field between all of the apartment buildings on campus. Taehyung sat Jimin down in the grass and spread out the blanket for them to share. It was just warm enough to be outside with a hoodie and no jacket, but as soon as Taehyung had the blanket spread flat, Jimin rolled himself up in it like a Jiminnie Taquito.

“You’re a taquito,” Taehyung said aloud.

Jimin glared. “It’s called a blanket burrito , Taehyung.”

“But that’s not what it is. Your head and your feet are sticking out. You’re taquito material. I would know; I eat at least four every day.”

“That’s gross,” Jimin said.

“Shh, I’m pampering you.”

“Stop saying that!”

Taehyung didn’t listen to Jimin. Instead, he grabbed one of Jimin’s cute tiny feet and pulled on his toes a little. He had never given nor received a foot massage before, but he had once watched Hoseok give Yoongi one. It had been weird, and there had been a lot of groaning, but Taehyung was confident he knew the basics.

When he dug his thumbs into the arch of Jimin’s foot, Jimin moaned and flopped back into the grass. “You are pampering me,” he said.

“Just wait until the neck massage,” Taehyung said.

“There’s a neck massage?”

“Only if you stop yelling at me.”

“I’ll never yell at you again, Taehyung. I love you,” Jimin said, his head lolling back in the grass, and Taehyung let his eyes linger on the long line of Jimin’s neck. He swallowed thickly.

“Jimin, if you love me, why can’t you stop laughing when I’m kissing you?” he asked. He had told Hoseok he would talk to Jimin about it. He figured he would just spit it out before he lost his nerve.

Jimin blinked up at him, surprised. Taehyung didn’t like how wide his eyes were. He took his glasses off and shoved them on Jimin’s face in an attempt to cover them up.

“Stop that,” Jimin said, grabbing Taehyung’s wrist before he could pull away. He blinked through Taehyung’s lenses and took them off his face. “TaeTae, you think that my laughing means I don’t love you?” he asked, balancing Taehyung’s glasses back on his nose. Taehyung frowned when suddenly Jimin wasn’t so blurry. Now that he could see his expression, Jimin looked sad.

“I don’t know,” Taehyung answered.

“Taehyungie, I love you so much.”

“Okay.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll stop laughing,” Jimin promised. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

“You’re not hurting my feelings,” Taehyung promised, even though Jimin definitely was. Taehyung was used to people laughing at him. He knew he was a little spacy and easily distractible. He knew it took special people —like Jimin and Hoseok— to follow his train of thought and that not everyone he met would understand him.

But Jimin did understand him.

And he still laughed.

“No, but it’s not okay,” Jimin said. “I’m sorry. I’m not laughing at you, I’m just laughing because... because sometimes it all feels a little ridiculous,” he explained poorly. “But it’s not you. I’d never laugh at you. I love you.”

“Right,” Taehyung said, feeling awkward and wanting to move on. “Because I pamper you.”

“That’s not why,” Jimin said, but when Taehyung started rubbing his foot again, Jimin’s tone changed. “Actually, just kidding, that’s exactly why. I like being pampered.”

Taehyung patted Jimin’s ankle. “Of course, you do,” he said. He didn’t exactly feel encouraged by the explanation, but at least Jimin had promised to stop laughing. Taehyung could work with that.


Taehyung stumbled over walkers and orthopedic shoes as he tried to make it out of the aisle. Taehyung didn’t mind old people (he had grown up with his grandma and grandpa; he knew how to speak their language), but they certainly were slow.

Jimin’s dance troupe had a big showcase at the end of every semester, but in the meanwhile, they did performances at basketball games, charity events, and nursing homes. Taehyung attended every showing. He was officially on a first name basis with half the residents at this particular retirement community.

“Sorry, Opal. Sorry, Floyd. Sorry, Mildred. Sorry, Bert,” Taehyung said as he tripped along.

Taehyung fell out of the aisle, but managed to catch himself before he crushed Jimin’s bouquet. Jimin was standing in the corner of the room, talking with Jungkook about their performance, his cheeks flushed and his eyes sparkling. Taehyung didn’t hesitate to make his way over.

Jiminnie,” he crooned, hugging him from behind. Jimin sputtered when his flowers hit him in the face.

“Taehyung! I told you to stop doing this,” he complained. He took the bouquet in his tiny, little baby hands. “Stop wasting your hard-earned money on flowers.”

Taehyung pouted. “And I told you ,” he said as Jimin turned around in his arms, “That I have a job specifically to waste my money on flowers.”

Jimin didn’t look impressed.

“All Jimins need flowers. Especially after doing such a good job,” Taehyung said, stretching his neck over the bouquet to press a kiss to Jimin’s cushy lips. It was like kissing a pillow. Little pillow Jiminnie baby kisses.

“God, you two are so gross ,” Jungkook complained at Jimin’s side. Taehyung didn’t hesitate to stomp on his foot. Jungkook was annoying, and Taehyung spent half of their time together beating him up and the other half getting beating up. But as annoying as Jungkook was, he was the one who finally slipped to Taehyung that Jimin liked him back, giving Taehyung the courage to ask Jimin out. In a weird way, they probably owed their relationship to Jungkook.

But Taehyung still liked kicking him.

“Leave me alone,” Jungkook whined, and Jimin wedged himself between Taehyung and Jungkook to stop the abuse.

“You’re behaving like children ,” Jimin scolded.

He started it,” Jungkook said, pointing fingers.

Taehyung scoffed. “Did not!”

“Come here,” Jimin said, dragging Taehyung towards him again. Jimin’s arms looped around his neck, his flowers tickling Taehyung’s ear. “You were giving me congratulations kisses, remember?”

“All too well,” Taehyung said, dipping his head back in. He enthusiastically kissed Jimin’s lips over and over —like a woodpecker— until Jimin was laughing so hard, he had to turn his face away. Taehyung refocused his efforts on his cheek.

“It smells like cough drops and ointment, and you guys are making out,” Jungkook complained. “There are old people here.”

“Exactly,” Taehyung said. “We need to remind them what young love looks like, make them nostalgic.”

Jimin laughed harder at his side.

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Jimin, are you riding back in the van with us? Or are you gonna sneak off with Taehyung?”

Taehyung looked at Jimin expectantly. He would love to have company on the short drive back to school, but he knew that the dance team sometimes liked to watch their performance and get in some extra practice after a show. Jimin was a perfectionist. Taehyung was used to waiting for him while he did a couple run-throughs of a new routine or practiced the same eight count a dozen times over.

Jimin’s laughter paused and Taehyung watched the gears turn in his head. “Um-“

“Go,” Taehyung offered. “You guys should celebrate and hang out as a team. I’ll see you later.”

“Later tonight ?” Jimin suggested, a look in his eyes that Taehyung could read from a mile away.

Please ,” he said, licking Jimin’s face from jaw to temple just to make sure they were on the same page. Jimin started laughing again, and Jungkook made gagging noises to the side. Taehyung couldn’t be bothered to care. Jimin was coming over later. Maybe they would finally get past taking their shirts off.


Jimin let himself into Taehyung’s apartment and slowly unzipped his jacket, eyebrows wiggling. Taehyung excitedly closed his laptop. He was bouncing in his seat, and the whole couch vibrated with it. Taehyung patted his legs for Jimin to climb on top.

“Not here,” Jimin said, leading the way to Taehyung’s bedroom. Taehyung followed him like a dog on a leash. As soon as the door was closed behind them, Taehyung pushed Jimin onto the bed and climbed on top of him. “Where’s Seokjin?”

“With Namjoon,” Taehyung answered. His brother and roommate had a strict ‘no sex in the apartment’ rule that he was usually pretty relaxed about when it came to his boyfriend Namjoon, but was adamantly strict about when it came to Taehyung.

“Good,” Jimin said, happily sticking his tongue down Taehyung’s throat the second he got the chance.

Taehyung didn’t want to seem too eager, but he also knew that making out with Jimin had a time limit. The faster they stripped down, the better. Taehyung had only managed to successfully have sex with Jimin twice in the six months they’d been together, and both times he had skipped the foreplay and rushed straight to the finish line.

Taehyung fumbled with the button on Jimin’s pants, and Jimin giggled. “Excited much?”

“Don’t laugh,” Taehyung said, eyebrows pinching together. Jimin smoothed his brow with a kiss.

“I’m not. I’m just teasing,” he promised, suddenly sincere. His eyes looked rounder than usual as he slowly pushed Taehyung’s shoulder, rolling him over onto his back. Taehyung’s breath caught in his throat as they switched places. “I promised I wouldn’t. I’m going to take care of you.”

“Oh,” he breathed.

Jimin climbed on top of him. “What does Taehyungie want?”

“Jimin,” Taehyung answered a little too honestly. Jimin giggled again. Taehyung frowned, but before he could tell Jimin to stop, Jimin swallowed his words. Taehyung closed his eyes and let a hand slip up between Jimin’s shoulder blades. Jimin’s hands were pressed into the mattress on either side of his head, and Taehyung could feel the tension in Jimin’s muscles as he kept himself up.

For once, things didn’t feel rushed. All Taehyung felt was the steady roll of Jimin’s hips against his and Jimin’s lips covering the entire lower half of his face. Every part of Jimin was small except for his mouth, and Taehyung loved getting lost in it.

“TaeTae,” Jimin said, and Taehyung realized Jimin had his jeans unbuttoned. “Wanna take these off?”

“Yes,” Taehyung answered breathlessly.

“Okay, then get to it.”

Jimin stood up long enough to slip off his pants, and Taehyung sat up enough to push his own down around his ankles. When he looked up, Jimin was smiling at him. “Don’t laugh,” Taehyung said again, noticing the mirth in Jimin’s eyes.

“I’m not.”

“You are .”

“You’re just cute,” Jimin said, lacing his fingers into Taehyung’s hair. He forced Taehyung’s head back down onto his pillow and doubled over to kiss him. “Do you have lube? Condoms?” he asked. Taehyung nodded, squirming in anticipation. “Where?”

Everywhere.”

“You loon,” Jimin laughed, shrugging his shirt off. He dug around Taehyung’s top dresser drawer in just his underwear. Taehyung couldn’t take his eyes off the bulge of his briefs. When Jimin turned around, supplies in hand, he caught him staring. “You like what you see?”

“Come back,” Taehyung whined.

“You’re so demanding,” Jimin said. He sat on top of Taehyung and then —without any warning— grinded his cute little butt down on top of him. Taehyung squeaked, and Jimin smiled down at him, proudly. “You okay?”

“We should be naked,” was Taehyung’s answer.

“Sure,” Jimin answered, lifting himself up on his knees. He stayed straddled around Taehyung’s hips as he slipped his briefs over the curve of his adorable bubble butt. He sat back down on Taehyung as he slipped them the rest of the way off. Taehyung’s breath caught in his throat. “Your turn,” Jimin said. His thumbs slipped under Taehyung’s waistband. “Hips up.”

Taehyung complied, and Jimin did a half-assed job of sliding his underwear to his calves. Taehyung kicked them off the rest of the way. Before he could even think about trying to take his shirt off, Jimin had rolled a condom on him and popped open the bottle of lube.

“May I?” he asked, squirting a glob into his hand.

“Yes,” Taehyung answered. Jimin sat on his thighs as he stroked Taehyung up and down, his hand slick and encompassing. He was so far away. Taehyung reached out for Jimin’s clean hand and brought it to his mouth. His skin was sweaty from dance, but Taehyung didn’t mind. He could see Jimin’s pupils dilating as Taehyung sucked on his fingers, and Taehyung could feel his own doing the same.

“Taehyung, I’m just gonna-“

“Do it,” Taehyung said. He had never been more ready for anything.

Jimin took his hand back and doled out some more lube onto his fingers. As he reached back to finger himself open, Taehyung sat up, undeniably pulled to him. “Ah,” Jimin gasped, just as Taehyung pulled him into a kiss.

Part of him wanted to watch Jimin open himself up, to see his face as he did it, but he couldn’t stay away. He just loved Jimin so much , and he had been waiting for this for so long , and now Jimin was here, kissing him like he was starving, like Taehyung was delicious, like Taehyung tasted like grilled squid or barbeque pork. Taehyung couldn’t say no, he couldn’t stay away.

“Taehyung.”

Taehyung ignored Jimin, following his mouth for another kiss.

“Taehyung, come on, lean back.”

Taehyung hummed, and Jimin pulled away where Taehyung couldn’t follow.

“Lean back,” Jimin said, pushing his shoulder down. Taehyung fell back to the mattress and watched as Jimin lined himself up. Taehyung bit down on his bottom lip, focused on Jimin’s hands, and Jimin’s waist, and Jimin’s legs, and just Jimin.

And then he was in Jimin.

“Jimin,” he squeaked. He was so overwhelmed, his vision almost spotting. Months of anticipation had built up to this, and now that it was here, he was totally overcome. “Jimin, Jimin, Jimin.” He clawed at the sheets and then grappled for Jimin’s hands. When he found them, he held them in both of his.

They were shaking.

“Jimin, are you-“ He looked up at his boyfriend only to see his shoulders trembling. Jimin’s head was down, and for a minute, Taehyung was worried there was something wrong. Was Jimin hurt? Did something go wrong? Why wasn’t he looking at him?

And then Jimin made a snorting sound.

Taehyung’s eyes widened in realization just as Jimin lost control. Laughter exploded out of Jimin’s body. With him naked on top of him, Taehyung could see it forming in his chest and working it’s way up his throat. “TaeTae... TaeTae.... Tae, I’m s-so sorry,” Jimin managed to get out through his giggles. He was laughing so hard, there were tears balling up at the corner of his eyelashes.

Taehyung pouted and crossed his arms over his chest.

“TaeTae, oh, TaeTae,” Jimin cooed, but his whole body was still shaking with laughter. He was laughing so much, he seemed dizzy with it, and he bent over, hiding his face in Taehyung’s tummy.

“Get off , that feels weird ,” Taehyung complained. Jimin managed to work up enough strength to lift off of Taehyung and collapse onto the mattress next to him. Taehyung stuck his bottom lip out, while Jimin laughed into his comforter. “Are you done yet?”

Something in Taehyung’s voice made Jimin sober up a little bit. “Taehyung?” Jimin asked, sitting up on one elbow. He wiped happy tears from his eyes, suddenly concerned.

“If you’re done laughing, then you can just leave.”

Jimin looked shocked. “What, but-“

“You promised you wouldn’t laugh,” Taehyung interrupted. The mood had been broken; Taehyung was hurt. Jimin laughed at him again. It was humiliating. His cheeks were warm embarrassment, and he pulled his shirt down to cover himself up.

“I won’t,” Jimin said, sitting up. “I won’t laugh again, we can keep trying.”

“No, we can’t,” Taehyung whined, rolling over onto his side.

“Sure we can,” Jimin said, smacking his butt. “Let’s go for it, kid.”

“I don’t want to,” Taehyung said. “Go away.

“Taehyungie...”

“Fine, then I’ll go away,” Taehyung said, peeling off the condom and throwing it into the trashcan. He grabbed his underwear and Jimin crawled over the bed after him.

“Taehyung,” he said. “Don’t go anywhere. This is your room. I’m sorry for laughing, I know I promised I wouldn’t before, but I mean it this time. Let’s just finish. We were both looking forward to this.”

“I don’t want to,” Taehyung said again, stomping into his pants and into some flip-flops. He left the apartment without throwing Jimin even a passing glance.


Taehyung was in a terrible mood.

Usually, he was nothing but smiles when he met up with his friends for lunch. But he hadn’t quite made up with Jimin yet, and even though Taehyung got to the cafeteria early, they were already out of New England clam chowder. Jimin had scooped him some broccoli cheddar, but it just wasn’t the same.

Taehyung wanted to have a nice lunch. He lived with Jin, but they hadn’t actually talked in awhile. Plus, things between him and Namjoon seemed to be getting more serious, and Taehyung wanted to better get to know his potential brother-in-law. With Seokjin, Namjoon, Hoseok, Yoongi, Jungkook, and Jimin all at one table, the conversation should be flowing and easy.

But instead Taehyung was hunkered down in the corner, while Yoongi shot him confused looks.

“Here comes the train,” Jimin cooed, holding out a spoonful of soup to Taehyung. Taehyung clenched his jaw stubbornly closed.

Yoongi took one look at Taehyung’s angry face and set down his glass on his plastic tray. “What’s going on?” he demanded.

“Ask Jimin,” Taehyung replied petulantly.

Jimin sighed. It was loud in the cafeteria, but Taehyung could still hear it. Jimin looked so sad and so guilty. Taehyung hated seeing him so upset, but he couldn’t just shake off how hurt he felt. He hated when Jimin laughed at him.

Taehyung knew that you had to let go of your insecurities when you entered into a relationship. If you’re not secure —if you’re not brave— then it won’t work. But Taehyung had a lot of things that made him feel upset about himself, and seeing Jimin laugh in his face dredged that all up.

“... I made a mistake, but it was an accident,” Jimin answered, and Taehyung glared. “Or, well...” he floundered for a minute. Jimin leaned across the table and whispered to him. “Are you sure I should say? It’s kind of personal.”

“Whatever you think is best,” Taehyung said with a raised eyebrow. Yoongi, meanwhile, watched them with interest. Next to him, Hoseok seemed to tune into their strained conversation, and he peered around Yoongi to listen in. His interest sparked Seokjin’s, Namjoon’s, and Jungkook’s. Taehyung watched Jimin’s cheeks turn pink as everyone at the table seemed to clue in on the tension between them at once.

“I hurt Taehyung’s feelings,” Jimin admitted. “But I said sorry! Like a million times! He’s being grumpy!”

“Jimin laughed at me,” Taehyung corrected, and Hoseok sat up straighter.

“Oh, with shirts on or off?”

“Off,” Jimin and Taehyung answered at the same time.

Namjoon looked absolutely bewildered. “What?” he asked. Meanwhile, Jungkook groaned and hid underneath the table. Taehyung threw a handful of peas at his back.

“Jimin, explain yourself,” Seokjin said, stepping into his big brother shoes. Taehyung was thankful for Seokjin. His brother always had his back. Despite the soft spot Seokjin had held for Jimin since the moment he met him, he always took Taehyung’s side.

“Taehyung is too cute not to laugh at sometimes,” Jimin said, going from pink to red. “It’s completely innocent laughter. I just love him.”

“Jimin, nothing we were doing was innocent,” Taehyung complained.

Yoongi blinked and grabbed his headphones. He made a big show of putting them on. When he hit the play button on his iPhone, his music blared so loudly Taehyung could hear it over the din of the cafeteria.

“Isn’t it crazy how he can just blatantly check out of a conversation like that?” Hoseok asked, poking Yoongi’s cheek as he turned back to his food. Hoseok peered closely at him as Yoongi stabbed at his carrot cake. He stole a bite as Yoongi brought it up to his mouth.

Yoongi didn’t even seem annoyed. Taehyung’s stomach twisted uncomfortably. Yoongi and Hoseok never fought, and they certainly never laughed at each other, at least not the way Jimin laughed at him. They took each other seriously, even during moments like these.

Taehyung longed for something similar.

“It’s certainly something,” Jungkook muttered. He had pulled himself out from underneath the table and was now blowing bubbles into his chocolate milk. Namjoon stole one of his French fries.

“Back to the matter at hand,” Namjoon said. “Jimin, there’s a time and a place for laughter.”

“You’ve never laughed during sex?” Jimin asked in complete disbelief. Taehyung felt like hiding under the table, but Jungkook had already tried, and he clearly hadn’t lasted long.

“Of course not,” Namjoon answered.

“He’s lying,” Seokjin said. He leaned on the edge of the table. “And anyway, it’s not when you laugh that causes a problem. It’s what you’re laughing at,” he explained, and Taehyung couldn’t agree more.

He hid his face in both hands. Maybe he would feel less awful if Jimin would at least explain himself properly, but Taehyung didn’t know what Jimin found so funny. He kept thinking all these awful things about his body and his personality. Was Jimin laughing because he was ugly? Because he was awkward?

It was stressful, and Taehyung didn’t like how small it made him feel. He didn’t know how to admit it to Jimin, though. He especially didn’t know how to bring it up at a table with all of his closest friends within earshot.

“Well, I’m not laughing at TaeTae. I love him,” Jimin promised, stretching his hand across the table towards Taehyung. Just the tips of his fingers were poking out from the hem of his sweatshirt, and Taehyung sighed and took his hand. “I’m sorry, Taehyungie. I broke our promise; that was mean. Can you forgive me?”

“I suppose,” Taehyung answered, his cheeks heating up.

“Good,” Seokjin said, standing up. “I’m getting dessert. Anyone want to come with me?”

“You just had two cookies and half of my banana cake,” Namjoon said.

Seokjin heaved a long-suffering sigh. “Cookies and cake aren’t dessert, Namjoon. Ice cream is.”

“I’ll go,” Jimin offered.

Taehyung slumped in his seat as Jimin disappeared. Namjoon patted his shoulder, obviously sympathetic. Hoseok looked concerned. “Are you okay, Tae?” he asked. Taehyung appreciated how Hoseok consistently fussed over his wellbeing. It was nice to have him in his corner.

“I’m okay.”

The conversation moved on, and Jimin came back to the table with a bowl of sprinkles in hand. Jimin took a scoop, proving that there was in fact ice cream beneath it all. “Open wide, here comes the train,” Jimin cooed again, holding the spoon out for Taehyung.

This time Taehyung opened his mouth. Ice cream was a better apology than soup anyway.


Taehyung walked out of his classroom and straight into Jimin. “Ah, be careful,” Jimin said, falling back a little, and Taehyung reached out a steadying arm to catch him.

“You be careful,” Taehyung said, hugging Jimin hello. Jimin didn’t hug back, and when Taehyung looked down to see what was wrong, he saw Jimin was holding two milkshakes: one in each hand.  “Ah, is one for me?!”

“Chocolate banana,” Jimin replied, handing a milkshake to Taehyung.

“Jiminnie, thank you!” Taehyung took a big sip. His glasses slipped down his nose and his eyes crossed as he sucked on the straw. Jimin giggled and pushed up his glasses for him with a sweater-covered hand.

“You’re welcome, TaeTae. Do you forgive me yet?”

Taehyung frowned and lowered his milkshake. “I already forgave you,” Taehyung answered. His hand fell into Jimin’s as he lead the way out of the science building.

“Is that a yes?”

“It’s a definitely,” Taehyung said.

Jimin hummed and let go of Taehyung’s hand. Taehyung was confused until Jimin plucked his lab goggles off of his forehead. “You’re my absent-minded professor,” Jimin teased.

“I left those there on purpose,” Taehyung said as Jimin put them on.

Jimin blinked at him through the thick lenses. “Oh, did you?”

“Yes, just in case I had to do some science later. You know, for all those sudden labs that pop up,” Taehyung explained.

“Ah, of course, those sudden labs,” Jimin agreed airily. Taehyung laced their fingers back together and gave Jimin’s hand a squeeze. Taehyung loved how Jimin never called him out for being too silly or too weird. He played along with all his stories and followed all his whims. He made Taehyung feel like he could say anything.

“Actually,” Taehyung said, feeling comfortable enough to share his thoughts. “Sometimes it’s good to do some sudden science. Like when you have questions? You can use science to answer them.”

Jimin grinned. “Yes, Taehyung. You can use science to answer questions.”

Taehyung nodded and swung their hands between them. “I actually thought of a good question the other day. What are there more of in the world: leaves or blades of grass?”

Jimin’s eyebrows lifted as he took a sip of his milkshake. “Actually, that is a good question.”

“I had some other ones too,” Taehyung said. “Like, are there more bricks or bird feathers? Trees or buildings? Feet or hands? Dogs or cats? Mice or mosquitoes? Eyes or thumbs?”

Jimin pressed his lips together contemplatively. “Taehyung, honey, you know some of those things come perfectly in pairs. I think there would be the same number of hands, and feet, and eyes, and thumbs.”

“Not everyone has all their hands, and feet, and eyes, and thumbs, Jimin.”

“You’re right. How insensitive of me.”

Taehyung sipped his milkshake and looked down at Jimin’s hand tucked into his. He gave it a couple squeezes. Jimin’s fingers twitched. When Taehyung looked back up at Jimin’s cute little face, he found his boyfriend’s eyes trained on him. A dorky smile took up Jimin’s whole face. “Jimin, you’ll keep all your fingers and toes, right?”

“I’ll try my best,” Jimin promised.

“Good. I like your hands and feet.”

Jimin laughed. “I know.”

“Good,” Taehyung said, bending over to share a chocolate-banana-flavored kiss with Jimin. Jimin’s lips spread into a smile against Taehyung’s, and Taehyung found himself kissing Jimin’s teeth. Taehyung sighed. One kiss, and Jimin was already laughing.


Taehyung shuffled through his notes for an explanation to the physical chemistry equation he was working on. Jimin was turned in his seat, leaning his back against Taehyung’s arm as he munched on pretzel sticks and reviewed his social work notes. He yelped when Taehyung suddenly leaned forward.

“Ah, Taehyung!”

“Sorry, sorry,” Taehyung said, but he wasn’t sorry at all. He was too focused on his homework to be worried about Jimin (and that was saying something because Taehyung was always the most worried about Jimin).

“You okay there, kid?” Yoongi asked, taking a sip of his fourth coffee of the day. Hoseok frowned and took the mug out of his hands.

“I’m fine,” Jimin promised. “I just fell over a little.”

“I wasn’t asking you, I was asking Taehyung,” Yoongi groused. Taehyung felt everyone’s eyes shift to him, and he shrunk in his seat.

“Guys, it’s just p-chem, don’t worry about it,” Taehyung said. Physical chemistry wasn’t for the feint of heart. It was grueling, confusing work, and Taehyung had taken up the majority of the table with his notes alone. It didn’t help that Dr. Meuller spoke faster than Taehyung could jot down notes and expected his students to have a background knowledge in physics that Taehyung didn’t have as a nursing major.

“Taehyung, is p-chem even a requirement for nursing?” Hoseok asked.

Taehyung groaned. “Ugh, no , I just had some extra room in my schedule, and my advisor said it would be good for me.”

Hoseok crinkled his nose. “Why?”

“Because when I was undeclared I thought about being a pharmacist.” Taehyung laid his head in his arms. “I don’t want to talk about it. I just have to get through this semester so I can do my practicum in the spring.”

“Taehyungie will look so cute in scrubs,” Jimin promised, sneaking a hand through Taehyung’s arms to poke his cheek. Taehyung batted his hand away.

“A nurse and a social worker,” Hoseok said, eying Taehyung and Jimin. “That just fits.”

“I guess,” Yoongi agreed. “Not as good as a music production and an early education major, though.” Yoongi took Hoseok’s hand in his.

Hoseok’s breath caught in his throat. “Did you just-“

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “Don’t make a big deal about it.”

“You said something nice,” Hoseok cooed. “You love me, you admit it. Come give me a kiss,” he demanded, reaching up to squish Yoongi’s cheeks together. His lips pursed like a fish, but Hoseok kissed him anyway.

“I’m glad you’re not grumpy like Yoongi, Jimin,” Taehyung said, forgetting his homework for a minute so he could pull Jimin into his lap. “I like all your compliments.”

“But TaeTae would look cute in scrubs.”

“Last time I checked,” Yoongi said as Hoseok pulled away, “We came here to study, not to comment on each other’s relationships and have sex on the library books. I have work to do.”

“You’ve been playing Spider Solitaire for the last two hours, babe,” Hoseok pointed out.

“I think you’re just here for the company.” Jimin said, squirming in Taehyung’s lap.

Taehyung reached around the table and put a hand on Yoongi’s knee. “It’s okay to admit it, Yoongi. We love you, too.”

“You people are all awful,” Yoongi said.

“I’m hurt,” Jimin said, a hand over his heart and a woeful look in his eyes. “I’m hurt and I’m leaving.” Taehyung let Jimin slide out of his lap. Yoongi had enough tact to look concerned as Jimin packed up his bag.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, I have class,” Jimin said, glancing at the time on his phone. He dropped a kiss to Taehyung’s forehead and slung his backpack over one shoulder. “But don’t worry, I’ll see you guys at dinner. Hoseok, will you be at dance practice later?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Hoseok said. He high fived Jimin on his way out the door. Taehyung watched him leave. Hoseok smirked when he caught his lingering gaze. “Ah, Taehyungie, things seem like they're working out between you two,” Hoseok said with an encouraging smile.

Taehyung blinked. “Um... Well, I don’t know. We haven’t tried anything since, like... the last time.”

“Before that weird lunch?” Yoongi asked. Taehyung nodded, and Yoongi and Hoseok shared a look. “Well, how is dating him otherwise? Good? Bad?”

“It’s really good,” Taehyung promised, sitting up on his heels. “Jimin is my best friend.”

Yoongi nodded and went back to his laptop. “Then it’ll work out with time.”

Taehyung sighed and picked up his p-chem homework. He knew Yoongi was right. Part of him was nervous about the next time things heated up between him and Jimin, but Jimin had already proven himself to be a good boyfriend. They would figure this out.


Smoke billowed across the ceiling, and the sound of laughter and breaking bottles filled the air. Taehyung felt a little woozy. He didn’t like parties, but Jimin’s dance troupe sometimes got together on Friday nights to bond as a team. Taehyung was the designated driver.

Jimin was somewhere in the back of the house; he had ditched Taehyung within five minutes of stepping in the door.

Taehyung was social, but at a dance party full of strangers, Taehyung tended to sit with Jungkook near the door. The sooner Jimin was ready to go, the better.

The couch was crowded, and Taehyung’s leg touched Jungkook’s from hip to toe. He didn’t know if Jungkook knew any of the people in room, but Taehyung wasn’t familiar with any of them. It made it difficult to keep track of the conversation, especially for someone like Taehyung who spaced out even when something interesting was happening.

“So, Taehyung, any plans this weekend?” someone asked from across the room. Taehyung’s eyes focused on a tall guy with a Vape Pen in hand. He held it out to Taehyung. “Want some? It’s coconut, peach, strawberry.”

“No, thanks,” Taehyung said. “But, um... I’m not sure what my plans are this weekend. Jimin said he would take me to the Turkey Hill Experience again, but sometimes he doesn’t feel like doing anything on days where he wakes up hung over. So we might just go out for breakfast, or snuggle, or something.”

Vape-guy furrowed his eyebrows together. “Again?” he asked.

“Isn’t that for little kids?” a girl with blonde side bangs questioned.

Taehyung frowned. “Um... Yeah, but it’s still fun. You can get free ice tea samples and make your own ice cream flavors.”

“Wow, sounds thrilling,” side-bangs-girl said dryly. Jungkook sat up a little bit at Taehyung’s side, and Taehyung bunched his hands into the bottom hem of his shorts. When Jungkook got protective, Taehyung got anxious: every time.

“Ice cream flavors are thrilling,” Taehyung promised. Vape-guy and side-bangs-girl both snorted. “They are.”

“Sure,” Vape-guy assured him. “Holly, do you have anything better going on?”

Holly (previously known as side-bangs-girl) launched into a detailed explanation of the music festival she and her friends were going to. Taehyung didn’t know why getting high and listening to shitty folk music was better than road tripping with your significant other for free iced tea samples, but whatever.

Sometimes Taehyung felt so disconnected from everyone else. It was hard to find people who shared his interests and didn’t judge his slightly eccentric tastes.

Coming to this party had been a mistake. Everyone else was either wearing ripped jeans or a mini skirt. Taehyung was wearing one of Seokjin’s extra large sweaters and a pair of too small track pants.

Jungkook seemed to sense his mood, but was too shy to say anything. Instead, he put a possessive hand on Taehyung’s knee. Taehyung snorted and elbowed Jungkook in the ribs. He was fine. He didn’t need Jungkook getting all worked up; he was just frustrated.

Taehyung had been weird his whole life; he was used to having to fight to make friends.

“That sounds cool,” Vape-guy (or Alec, Taehyung learned during Holly’s explanation). “Maybe we could all go.” He threw a doubtful look towards Taehyung and Jungkook. Taehyung was quick to reassure him that he couldn’t come.

“I’m busy, remember?” he said.

Holly arched an eyebrow. “You’d rather go to a shitty gas station headquarters than see FIDLAR?”

Taehyung blinked. “I’m sorry?”

“Fuck It Dog, Life’s a Risk,” Holly clarified. Taehyung must have looked as lost as he felt because she spoke to him slowly and loudly, like he was 98 years old with hearing loss and dementia living at the retirement home Jimin performed for. “It’s a band.”

“I don’t know it,” Taehyung said; although, that much was obvious. “I just like hanging out with Jimin and Seokjin.”

“Who is Seokjin?” Alec asked.

“My big brother.”

Mark and Holly looked at him so pityingly Taehyung felt his cheeks and neck heat up. Jungkook stood up abruptly. “This isn’t my scene,” he announced suddenly. He turned to Taehyung. “Take me home.”

Taehyung’s eyes widened with surprise and he floundered for his keys. “Um, yeah, okay. We just have to get Jimin.”

“I’ll get him. You pull the car around.”

Taehyung nodded mutely and ducked outside. He was grateful for the excuse to get out of the house, but he was a little embarrassed that Jungkook had seen that train wreck of a conversation. Ugh. While Taehyung was used to being embarrassed around strangers, he wasn’t used to his friends seeing it happen.

Taehyung got into his car and dropped his head down on the steering wheel. The horn blared and he screamed into the Honda logo on the center of the wheel.

“Woah, you okay there?”

Taehyung lifted his head as Jimin climbed into the passenger seat. His cheeks were flushed, and he was smiling at Taehyung. Taehyung sighed, relaxing a little at the sight of his boyfriend. “Fine,” he answered.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jungkook said, sliding into the back seat.

Taehyung grunted in agreement and adjusted his mirrors. “Buckle up, everyone.”

Taehyung pulled off the curb and started the drive back to campus. Jungkook was younger and lived in one of the freshman dormitories. The underclassmen lived on the outskirts of campus, and Taehyung found himself on a dark winding road at one in the morning. The trees blocked out whatever light the moon may have cast on the road. Only Taehyung’s headlights lit the way through the forest.

“Taehyung, I’m sorry,” Jungkook said suddenly.

“What for?” Taehyung asked.

“Yeah, what for?” Jimin echoed.

“I should have said something back there... To Jason’s weird stoner friends: Holly and Alec. I could have put a good word in for you or something.”

Taehyung shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter. I don’t care what they think,” he said like a mantra. And he didn’t. Not really. Just... there were an awful lot of people who thought weird or bad things about Taehyung, and it was sort of difficult not to care about any of them. With a miniscule support group of six people who truly cared about him (Seokjin, Jimin, Hoseok, Jungkook, Yoongi, and Namjoon), it was hard to stay strong.

Especially when Jimin had housefuls of people who knew and cared about him.

“Yeah, but they were being jerks, and I didn’t help.”

“Jungkook’s always a jerk,” Jimin slurred. His lisp always got worse with alcohol, and Taehyung’s heart melted at the sound. Jimin was so familiar. He was so supportive. Taehyung was so glad they were dating; he loved Jimin so much.

“Jungkook’s actually being really nice right now,” Taehyung muttered under his breath. He was loathe to admit it, but Jimin had him feeling warm and melted, like a Hershey kiss in your back pocket.

He expected Jungkook to say something equally as hokey or uncalled for and mean. He didn’t expect Jungkook to scream.

“Look out!”

Taehyung caught the yellow flash of a pair of eyes low to the ground. He jerked the wheel, but he was too late. Jimin grabbed his arm. Taehyung’s back tire slammed into something, and the whole car shook as it went up and over. “Oh my god. Oh my god, what was that?” Taehyung asked, searching the road in the rearview mirror. It was too dark to see anything.

“I think it was a raccoon,” Jungkook said.

“Oh my god ,” Taehyung wailed. “Oh my god, oh my god, I killed it. Oh my god.

“Well, it came out of nowhere,” Jimin said, his grip on Taehyung’s arm relaxing. Taehyung didn’t know if the alcohol was keeping him lax about the situation or if he genuinely didn’t care. Meanwhile, Taehyung felt like his chest was ripping itself apart with guilt.

“I tried to turn,” Taehyung promised, tears welling up in his eyes. “But I hit it anyway. It probably died . It was so cute."

“TaeTae, you didn’t even see it,” Jimin said, rubbing his shoulder.

Jungkook settled against the back seat. “You hit it pretty good. I doubt it suffered.”

Taehyung made a keening noise at the idea of the raccoon suffering. He’d once seen a cat get its head run over on the freeway. Its body had flipped around, limbs scrabbling as it tried to run. Taehyung scrunched his eyes closed as he thought about the raccoon doing the exact same thing.

“I can’t just leave it,” Taehyung said. He threw the wheel into a tight U-Turn, and Jimin yelped as Taehyung’s back tires over-swung the turn.

“What are you doing?” Jungkook asked, alarmed.

“I’m going back for it.”

“But it’s already dead!”

“We don’t know that,” Taehyung said.

“Yes, we do, you hit it at 45 miles per hour!”

Jimin’s hand fell to Taehyung’s knee, and Taehyung gulped down tears. “Taehyung, are you sure you want to go back? It could be really hurt,” Jimin warned him. Taehyung’s bottom lip wobbled. Jimin’s face was slack with alcohol, but his eyes were just as searching and caring as ever, and wow, this was the worst night of Taehyung’s entire life.

“If it’s still alive, we have to help it,” Taehyung said firmly. He pulled the car over to the side of the road when he reached the curve the raccoon had been hiding behind. Taehyung got out of the car, and Jimin stumbled after him.

“TaeTae, I don’t think you should look,” Jimin warned him again, tripping down the road after him. Taehyung turned his phone’s flashlight on.

“What if it’s alive and gasping for breath? Maybe we could get it to a vet. There are 24-hour clinics for animals; they could save it. Maybe it just needs some stitches or something.”

“It’s going to need more than stitches,” Jimin said gently. Taehyung felt like he was melting from his head and shoulders down into his shoes.

They found the raccoon by nearly stepping on it. Jimin was right. It would definitely need more than stitches.

“Wow, that thing is really smeared in there,” Jungkook said, sneaking up behind them.

“I killed it,” Taehyung wailed again. “I killed it, and it’s dead, and what if it had babies? What if by killing the mom, I also killed the babies?”

“Dude, chill,” Jungkook said.

Taehyung’s flashlight quivered over the fresh carcass, his hand shaking too much to hold the light still. There was still blood oozing from the raccoon’s smashed torso. Its skin had skidded across the road, and Taehyung felt a couple tears roll down his face at the sight of one of its ears twitching in the wind. “I’m such an awful person.”

“Oh, no, Taehyungie,” Jimin cooed, his hands slipping up to cup Taehyung’s face. It was cold outside, and he was wearing mittens. “Taehyungie, there was nothing you could do. He practically ran under your tire on purpose.”

“This is why I don’t drink,” Taehyung wept. “You go to parties, and stuff like this happens.”

Jimin cooed. “TaeTae, you’re 100% sober. You were the designated driver.”

“And now I’m never driving again.”

Taehyung,” Jimin crooned, a smile obviously trying to force it’s way on his face. He kissed Taehyung’s nose. “Taehyung, don’t cry. It was just a little raccoon. There will be more raccoons, and they’ll grow healthy and strong, and you can leave your garbage can lid open and give them lots of snacks to eat.”

“But this one won’t get to eat anymore snacks. This one is dead,” Taehyung said. “Because of me.”

Jimin tried to nod seriously, but a laugh bubbled out instead.

“Don’t laugh ,” Taehyung whined.

“I’m not, I’m not,” Jimin promised, and Taehyung could hear every drink he’d had at the party heavily in his voice. “Oh, Taehyung, oh my goodness, you are so cute, you are trying so hard, just come let me love you.”

As Jimin pressed kisses along the line of his cheekbone, Taehyung felt his chest tremble and his throat squeeze up tightly. He made a keening noise as he started to cry. He hadn’t meant to kill it. He had tried to swerve out of the way. He had tried to keep it safe, and he had failed.

Just like he failed at everything .

Jimin guided Taehyung’s face into the crook of his neck, and Taehyung shivered as cold wind blew down the back of his jacket. “I just want to go home,” he cried into Jimin’s shoulder.

Jungkook cleared his throat behind them, interrupting the moment. “I’m sober,” he said. “I can drive.”

Jimin swayed a little where he stood. “Taehyungie, give Jungkook the keys.”

“I can drive,” he muttered against Jimin’s skin.

“No, you can’t. Give Jungkook the keys.”

Taehyung sniffled and passed Jungkook his lanyard. Jungkook spun it easily around his fingers as he led his way back to the car. Jimin squeezed Taehyung’s waist and got him started moving. Taehyung felt sick as he left the raccoon behind him. “... I have a shovel in my trunk. For snow,” Taehyung said. “Do you think-“

“Taehyung, if you think the raccoon deserves a proper funeral, then the raccoon deserves a proper funeral,” Jimin said supportively.

“Will you say a few words?”

“Of course. I’ll even scrape that thing off the ground for you. We can put it in a nice bush.”

“It might like sleeping beneath a nice tree better,” Taehyung said. “It lives in trees, right? Trees are its passion.”

“I think you’re right,” Jimin said. “We’ll put it beneath a tree.”

Taehyung wiped his nose off on his jacket sleeve. “Okay. Thank you, Jimin.”

Jimin bounced up on his tiptoes to kiss his cheek. “Anything for you, pumpkin.”


When Taehyung stumbled in at 2 AM, Namjoon and Seokjin were lying together on the sofa. Namjoon was asleep, and Seokjin was a trapped little spoon watching TV. “Hey, it’s the little brother,” Seokjin said, his voice low to keep from bothering Namjoon.

“Why are you still up?” Taehyung asked, taking off his shoes.

Behind Seokjin, Namjoon let out a terrific snore. The sound was somewhere between a lawn mower and pencil sharpener. Seokjin winced. “That’s why.”

Taehyung snorted. “If you get married, you’ll have to learn to live with it.”

Seokjin patted Namjoon’s hand at his waist. “We were thinking we’d try nose strips. Or a mouth guard. Or everything.”

Taehyung hummed and stepped out of the dark hallway and into the bright living room. Seokjin took one look at his face and frowned. Taehyung answered before he could even ask the question. “It was a rough night.”

“How rough?” Seokjin asked.

Taehyung sprawled face down on the floor. “I killed a raccoon,” he said into the carpet. “I’m supposed to love animals, and help everyone feel better, and be a good nurse, and a good person, and I killed a raccoon, and I don’t even know what they like eating , so I couldn’t even give a good eulogy, and the party was awful, and sometimes Jimin laughs at me, and I don’t know why .”

Seokjin groaned. “Okay, okay, okay,” he muttered, and Taehyung looked up just to see him struggling out of Namjoon’s death grip. He managed to get out of Namjoon’s arms. He dropped onto the floor next to Taehyung. “Okay. Big brother Seokjin is here. What’s going on?”

Taehyung felt his bottom lip start wobbling even though he had already bawled his eyes out that night. “I don’t know .”

“Okay.” Seokjin rubbed Taehyung’s back. “Do you not know because you don’t want to admit it? Or because it’s too many things to pin down.”

Taehyung closed his eyes. “Too many things to pin down,” he answered.

Seokjin smiled wanly at him. “That sounds like my TaeTae,” he said. Taehyung huffed out an exhausted breath. Seokjin had been comforting Taehyung since his first steps. When Seokjin went away to college, Taehyung had been fast to follow him.  Moments like these made Taehyung remember just why he was so attached to Seokjin in the first place. “I’m sorry about the raccoon and that your party wasn’t fun. And as for the Jimin thing... Have you talked to him about it?”

“Yeah, like all the time.”

“And what does he say?”

Taehyung scrubbed at one of his eyes. “He says he just feels ridiculous, or that I’m cute, or that he’s ticklish, or like... some different excuse every time, so I don’t know what he’s really feeling,” Taehyung explained.

Seokjin rested his hand on the small of Taehyung’s back. “You know, I just don’t think he understands how much this is affecting you. Maybe try talking to him again, but this time tell him how you’re feeling.”

“Okay.” Taehyung sniffed. “Because I’m feeling really yucky.”

“I can tell.” They were both quiet, and Seokjin smiled at him. “You know, when you’re sad like this, it’s really easy to see you as the little kid you used to be, you know? Your face gets all swollen, and you look all smushy.”

“I’m not smushy,” Taehyung pouted.

Seokjin smiled. “No?”

“No,” Taehyung said.

“Okay, well. Let’s get the not-smushy, four-year-old Taehyungie to bed, yeah? It’s two in the morning. You can’t fix any problems at two in the morning.”

“If I’m four, that means you can carry me.”

Seokjin snorted. “You know, you ask for a lot, kid.”

Taehyung sniffed. “I deserve a lot.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Seokjin said, getting up on his feet. Taehyung made grabby hands at him, and Seokjin laughed as he pulled him off the floor.


The next morning, Jimin came to the apartment with a pair of sunglasses and a bottle of Advil shaking in his backpack. “Sunglasses and Advil. Last night was mad real.”

“Is that Kanye?” Taehyung asked.

Jimin snorted. “When is it not Kanye?”

“Fair enough,” Taehyung answered, open the door wider so Jimin could step in. Jimin kicked off his shoes and made himself at home on the couch. “Hey, I was just going to make some cereal. Do you want some?”

“Yes!” Jimin chirped, pulling out his phone. “Cocoa Pebbles. Buffy the Vampire Slayer bowl.”

Taehyung shot Jimin a thumbs up in acknowledgement and went to the kitchen to make their cereal. When he came back, Jimin pulled out a blanket from under the couch and was watching an episode of Friends. Taehyung delivered his bowl of Cocoa Pebbles with a flourish. “There you go, sir. I was going to use the Buffy bowl, so just know how big of a sacrifice I’m making for you.”

“I feel so loved,” Jimin said, pushing his sunglasses up on his head. His bangs stuck out in funny directions, but to Taehyung, it just made him cuter.

Jimin ate his cereal, and Taehyung stirred his own next to him. There was a lot on his mind. Fortunately, Jimin seemed too busy watching Ross and Rachel argue to notice Taehyung’s sparse eating.

His cereal started to go soggy.

“Hey,” Jimin said, swallowing his last spoonful. He poked Taehyung’s thigh with his sock. “You know, you were really great last night.”

Taehyung looked up from his mushy Fruit Loops. “I was?”

Jimin smiled. Taehyung’s eyes narrowed in on his cushy lips. “Yeah.” He scooted a little closer to Taehyung. “You know what I love so much about you?”

“What?” Taehyung asked because honestly, sometimes, he had no idea.

“I love that you feel so much,” Jimin said. “I love that you cried over that raccoon. It’s like… everyone always wants to end up with a nice guy, but I have the nicest guy, you know? You’re so nice.”

“I am?”

Jimin laughed. “Taehyungie,” he said, like Taehyung was just teasing. Like Taehyung wasn’t actually scared, and insecure, and confused. Maybe Seokjin was right. Maybe Jimin didn’t know just how much his laughter affected him.

Jimin leaned in to kiss Taehyung, and for the millionth time, he felt Jimin’s smile widen against his lips. Taehyung froze when he realized he was the only one kissing, and Jimin was just smiling on top of him. Jimin giggle and bumped their foreheads together. His eyes were closed, but Taehyung’s were wide open. “Why do you do that?”

Jimin kissed Taehyung’s nose. “Do what?” he asked dopily, leaning back in for another kiss. Taehyung remained motionless, and Jimin pulled back. “Do what?” he asked again, sobering up real fast.

Taehyung balled his fists up in his pants. “Laugh at me.”

Jimin frowned. “Oh. Well-”

“Wait,” Taehyung said. He didn’t want to hear one of Jimin’s half-assed explanations. He wanted to explain himself. “This is serious.” Jimin stilled. “I just… I can’t stop thinking about it. Like… It makes me really scared, Jiminnie. Because you won’t explain it, and I keep thinking like… ‘Well, maybe he thinks I’m weird,’ or ‘maybe he thinks I’m ugly,’ or ‘maybe I’m really bad at sex, and he doesn’t like kissing me.’ Or maybe a lot of things, you know? Like maybe I’m chubby, or gross, or smelly, or annoying, or awkward. And… and I know all those things are wrong, probably. But… but I need a real answer; it’s driving me crazy.”

Jimin’s jaw slowly dropped further and further during Taehyung’s speech. He looked so shocked by the end, Taehyung felt guilty for it. “Oh, pumpkin,” he squeaked.

Taehyung sucked on his bottom lip as Jimin ran a stiff hand through his hair. “Don’t be mad.”

“Taehyung, why would I be mad?” Jimin asked. Taehyung just shrugged. “Well, I’m not mad. I just… I hate that your mind goes there. Of course I don’t think any of those things about you. And I hate that my laughing made you think that. Taehyung, I would never want to do anything to hurt you. Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

“I tried,” Taehyung said weakly.

Jimin’s eyes widened. “That’s right,” Jimin realized. “You did try.”

“So why do you do it?” Taehyung asked impatiently.

Jimin ran a hand through his hair, overwhelmed. “I… I don’t really know,” Jimin said. “A million reasons. You just… You just…”

“Come on, Jimin. I just what?”

“You’re just adorable ,” Jimin said. “You’re just so cute, and you’re so funny, and you’re so nice , and I’m so happy I’m with you . I can’t help but laugh, Taehyung. I’m in love with you.”

Taehyung pouted. “Jimin, just tell me the truth.”

“I am telling the truth,” Jimin said. His knee bobbed up and down anxiously. “Look, okay, hold on. Look ,” he said, pulling out his phone. He opened up his camera roll and shoved it in Taehyung’s face. “Do you see what I mean?” Jimin scrolled through his pictures. Taehyung hadn’t even noticed Jimin taking some of them: a picture of his eyes poking out over a blanket, a photo of Taehyung’s smile around an ice cream spoon, a couple of nudes sat in front of a mirror with nothing on but a baby blue button-down. Jimin paused on a picture of Taehyung asleep across his chemistry textbook, his nose squashed up against the pages.

“Um-”

“You’re the cutest thing in the world!” Jimin exclaimed. “I can’t help but be giggly around you.”

When Taehyung looked confused, Jimin groaned.

“Okay, you know how you get when we go to Yoongi’s house for dinner and Holly is there?” Jimin asked. Taehyung nodded; he did feel giddy and silly whenever he was around curly little puppies (or any puppy, really). “Okay, and you know how excited and giggly you are when Holly gives you lots of licks and kisses?” Taehyung nodded again. Jimin hit him in the chest. “See? That’s it. You’re my Holly.”

Taehyung crinkled his nose. “But Jimin. Out of the two of us, I think everyone would agree that you’re the cute one.”

“Are you saying I would settle for anyone less than absolutely adorable?”

Taehyung frowned. “I guess not.”

Taehyung ,” Jimin said, using his stern voice. “You are the most important thing in the world to me. I just think you’re cute. And when we’re kissing, it’s like… it’s like the best thing ever because it means that the sweetest, kindest, awesomest guy in the world likes me back. So don’t stop kissing me when I’m laughing. Let’s just keep going because I’m the happiest I’ve ever been when I’m kissing you.”

Taehyung felt a huge wave of relief wash over him. “Really?”

“Of course really,” Jimin replied.

Taehyung’s bottom lip trembled. “Jiminnie, I love you, too!” he exclaimed, jumping on top of Jimin and holding him as tight as his lanky limbs would allow.

“Well, obviously, you silly goose. I never doubted it for a second,” Jimin cooed, nudging Taehyung’s face with his nose to get him to lift his chin up. Taehyung turned minutely, and Jimin took advantage of the tiny gap to pull Taehyung into a kiss. Taehyung hands knotted into Jimin’s shirt.

This time, when Jimin started laughing, Taehyung didn’t let it stop him.