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When Taehyung was younger, he used to want to become an architect. There was something incredibly fascinating about it, he thought, and he always told his parents he’d design a house for them—one bigger, warmer and better than the one he grew up in.

But those were just dreams he had when he was very, very young. As he grew a little, he realized that pursuing a career in architecture wouldn’t be the best for him. He wasn’t very good at technical drawing, and he definitely didn’t have the patience for it. Interior Architecture and Design wasn’t quite the same as being an architect, but it was close enough, and Taehyung liked it even more. It’s something he was good at and that he enjoyed, that let him be creative, as well.

Life turned out to be a little different for Taehyung, though. One can’t live off dreams, Taehyung was told his whole life. And that turned out to be a reality, he knows now.

“Tae?” starts Jimin, knocking softly on the wooden door. “I have a client coming in fifteen. I told you earlier, but in case you forgot...”

Taehyung lifts his eyes up from the book he’s reading, looking at his friend and roommate. He’s already dressed for work, bottom half covered in lingerie.

“Yeah, I remember,” Taehyung says. He nods towards the bag that is hanging from the handle of the door, saying, “Take some condoms to the other room, though. We’ve run out.”

“Thank you,” replies Jimin, digging in the bag and taking a box before he turns around to look at Taehyung once again. “Do you have someone coming over later?”

“At six, yes,” he says. “Please, don’t get come on the bed sheets.”

Jimin laughs cheerfully, throwing his head back. “Okay, babe, I won’t,” is the last thing he says before walking away and closing the door.

Taehyung and Jimin are escorts. They both met a few years back at another job, and then started working for the same agency. But that didn’t give them freedom, and most of the money they made wasn’t for them. So they decided to move in together, quit the agency and start working as independent escorts.

They rented a two bedrooms apartment in Gangnam, where they could get ahold of the richest possible clients. One of the bedrooms is for business; neither of them sleeps there, and they need to work around each other and make sure that their time with clients doesn’t overlap. Both of them slept in the other one, sharing the queen size bed.

It worked well for them. Maybe a bigger place would have made things easier, but if they got something bigger most of what they earned would go on the rent. Taehyung is happy like this—he doesn’t mind sharing a bed with Jimin, and they need rests between clients, at the end of the day.

He’s happy like this. Easy money, he reminds himself. There was a time when he had other plans and escorting was just a means for him to survive, where he worked to pay for university. But then he realized he could make 500,000 won in one hour from just seeing one client, and he realized that it paid off. He could work as an escort for as long as he’d want to, save enough to live the rest of his life without working, and still have enough to spoil himself on the daily.

It was worth it.

By now, he’s more than used to it and everything it entails. The sound of the buzzer has become a constant in his life, and so has Jimin’s voice answering it, telling whoever is downstairs to come up. Always accompanied by a pet name.

He doesn’t even flinch when he hears their front door being open, or when Jimin and the man greet each other briefly before going silent. At first, Jimin and Taehyung tried to respect the other’s privacy as much as possible, wearing headphones while the other was with a client. But now neither of them care and have decided it’s wiser for the other to listen in case a client oversteps a boundary, in case one of them needs help. After all, this is not their private life. This is work. Taehyung doesn’t mind if Jimin listens to him having sex, and he knows that Jimin feels the same way about him.

This sex is not supposed to be fun, it’s not supposed to be intimate. It has stopped feeling like sex, and it’s more like a task now.

When Jimin comes back not too long after, he does so naked and with come all over his belly. Taehyung knows he’s looking for a towel, so he throws one to him from where he’s lying on the bed.

“That was fast,” Taehyung whispers, aware that the client is still there.

“Just as I like them,” Jimin replies, his comment making Taehyung smile.

That’s understandable if you ask Taehyung. He’d rather have someone who books the whole hour just to come within fifteen minutes—it makes his work easier and faster. It’s not like he’s into it, so it doesn’t baffle them when they come quick. If anything, it’s a blessing.

“How much?” he asks, knowing that he doesn’t have to add anything else for Jimin to understand what he’s asking.

“600,000 won,” Jimin replies. Taehyung raises his eyebrows. “I know, right? That’s 100,000 more than most but I’m not going to complain.”

“Go back in there before he starts looking for you,” Taehyung teases. “We don’t need no man wandering around here.”

Jimin jokingly blows him a kiss before he makes his way back to the client, now taking the towel with him.

It’s easy to build a wall between them and the clients, even if the clients don’t feel like it. Taehyung remembers it used to affect him a lot more back when he started, remembers how after the first time he cried for hours and scrubbed himself in the shower almost until he was bleeding. He felt dirty, guilty, like he was letting his family and himself down by doing this. But now? Now he doesn’t feel anything when he does it. Which is probably for the best.

The client leaves and Jimin jumps in the shower as soon as he does. When he comes out he goes back to the bedroom with Taehyung, now smelling of cotton and body wash.

“I’m so tired,” he says as he flops on the bed next to Taehyung, lying on his back. “I don’t think I’ll be seeing anyone else for the evening.”

“You’ve been seeing people all day,” Taehyung replies, closing his book and leaving it aside so he can run his fingers through Jimin’s hair. Jimin closes his eyes and leans into the touch. “I think you should rest for the rest of the day. Maybe we can watch a movie together?”

“That sounds great,” Jimin mumbles. “Are you free?”

“I think so, yes,” Taehyung replies. “Let me check the app.”

After quitting the agency, they both signed up for Adultwork. It was easy, it was fast and it was the best method for high class escorts to find clients online. And it also meant they got to choose who they wanted to see and who they didn’t want to, at what time, and for how much. Clients try to book a meeting with them, and if they agree with the conditions—the price, mostly—and the hour, then they just accept it.

The thing is, Taehyung will never not have his phone on silence. So he always misses notifications until he checks his phone. Which is not the best given the nature of his job and how sometimes men like to book meetings suddenly, but hey. He gets enough requests for this habit of his to not translate into a loss.

“Oh?” he says as he checks the notifications. He has several, some even for tomorrow, but there is one that catches his attention. It’s from the user JKbusan, but his location says Seoul. The booking is offering 1,500,000 won for around three hours for tonight at nine. “Holy shit.”

“What?” asks Jimin as he gets closer, sneaking a peek at Taehyung’s phone.

Taehyung swipes over the notification to read the message that JKbusan sent, attached to the booking. As soon as he does, his eyes go even wider than before.

I am looking for a partner to attend a business dinner tonight at nine with me. I would like someone who dresses discreetly yet elegant. I am not looking for any physical intimacy, just a date for the night. If you’re willing to take this job, please let me know as soon as possible. — JK.

There’s no denying that the offer is… something else. It’s not unusual for him to get clients that don’t require physical contact or intimacy. He has his fair share of customers that are like this, that just want a nice dinner out, someone to talk to and hang out with. But it’s rare for them to offer such a big amount of money.

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip. He has a client coming very, very soon, but it’s just a one-hour long meeting. He has more than enough time to prepare and get there. If fucking is easy money, this is even easier.

“Are you gonna do it?” Jimin asks, curious.

“I think so, yeah?” Taehyung says, tapping on the other’s profile. “Looks like it’s a new profile, but he’s verified, and all. It doesn’t seem like a creep.”

Jimin hums as he gets closer, getting a better look at Taehyung’s phone. JKbusan’s profile was created very recently and he hadn’t had any dates yet, but his identity is verified, at least.

“Make sure he doesn’t want to meet somewhere spooky,” Jimin points out, Taehyung nodding. “And no getting in a car with him or letting him take you home. He seems harmless enough like this, but…”

Taehyung nods. There are certain risks that come with their job, obviously. He knows that living in the same place where they take clients is dangerous, but they take precautions: they only take clients that are either regulars or have had other meetings with other escorts. It’s one of the aspects that Taehyung likes about the app—that it’s transparent for both sides. Besides, they always make sure to be home if the other is taking clients.

“I’m going to accept,” Taehyung says, confirming the booking and starting to type a message back. “1,500,000 won for having dinner with him and looking pretty? Besides, I bet we’re going to eat somewhere fancy. I’m into this.”

After he replies it’s time for him to quickly get ready to receive his next client, so soon enough he forgets about it. The client today is a regular of his, a middle-aged man who looks for a way to… unwind every once in a while.

Taehyung is private about his life since he knows that sharing his life story with his clients isn’t precisely a good idea. Especially since he doesn’t come from the background that all of them do, or the one that Taehyung pretends to belong in. But part of his job is making all these men feel like they’re close, like they’re in love, even if it’s just for an hour. So they all share, share, share—that’s why Taehyung knows that the man he’s meeting today has a wife and two kids. That’s why he knows that he’s in denial about liking other men.

I feel like it’s not cheating if it’s not with another man, he had said. It still makes Taehyung want to scoff.

“Hey, you,” the man, Jonghwan, greets as soon as Taehyung opens the door. “It’s good to see you.”

“Good to see you too, babe,” Taehyung says, crossing his arms over his chest as he leans against the doorframe. “Come in?”

Jonghwan steps inside, Taehyung closing the door behind him as soon as he does. They have done this enough to know that payment comes before anything else, so Jonghwan reaches for his pocket as soon as he’s inside, handing Taehyung an envelope.

Taehyung takes it and expertly counts the money, giving Jonghwan a wide smile when he’s done. “It’s always a pleasure making business with you,” he says, quickly opening the door to the next room and leaving the money there before he turns back to Jonghwan.

“You look so pretty tonight,” Jonghwan mumbles as he takes one step closer, reaching forward so he can grasp the fabric of Taehyung’s cream-colored silk robe. “You should wear pretty things like this more often. Maybe I can get you something.”

“You like it?” Taehyung asks, letting Jonghwan put his arms around his hips. Almost as if he switches on something inside of him, he lets himself relax against the older man, palms resting against his chest. “Then you’re going to love what’s underneath.”

Jonghwan smiles, his grip around Taehyung getting tighter. “Then you should show me, don’t you think?” he asks, leaning forward so he can whisper in his ear. “Take this off, pretty.”

Taehyung closes his eyes, trying hard not to shiver. He reaches forward and undoes the light tie that is keeping his robe closed, looking up to meet Jonghwan’s eyes.

Right now, he has work to do.

 

 

“JKbusan messaged you back while you were back there,” Jimin announces as soon as Taehyung comes back from the bathroom.

He has just showered after sending Jonghwan back home, his hair dripping a little.

“Has he?” he asks, striding into the room. He has his thick bathrobe on, so he just grabs a clean towel from the wardrobe and starts rubbing his hair roughly, trying to dry it up.

“You shouldn’t do that, it’s bad for your hair,” Jimin points out. “And yeah—I didn’t open the notification, but he messaged not too long after you replied to him in the first place. You should write back soon, if you want the job.”

“Oh, shit, let me see,” Taehyung replies, lying on his belly on the bed as he reaches for his phone. “I hope it’s not too late to get back to him now.”

“I’m sure it’s not,” replies Jimin from his side. “He seemed pretty desperate in the first one, so…”

Taehyung swiftly unlocks his phone and taps over the notification. He chews on his cheek as he waits for it to load—he really does hope it’s not too late. This job is easy and well paid, so it’d be such a shame if he lost it.

That is amazing. My colleagues and I are meant to meet at half past eight, so we should meet at quarter past eight to arrange payments and build some sort of backstory. As I said, please dress elegantly and modest. Some makeup or jewelry would be alright, but nothing too over the top. I’m positive I will be able to recognize you because of your pictures, but in case I don’t, I’ll be wearing a black suit and black silk shirt, no tie. I will see you at quarter past eight in front of The Cornerstone. — JK.

“The Cornerstone?” Jimin asks as soon as he’s done reading, tilting his head a little so he can look at Taehyung. “Damn, that’s fancy.”

“He’s paying me 1,500,000 won for accompanying him to dinner with his colleagues,” Taehyung replies. “Of course he’s fancy. Fuck, this is brilliant.”

“He sounds so formal,” comments Jimin as Taehyung types a short message agreeing to meet up with him. “I wonder what he looks like. You’re going to need a name, you can’t just call him JKbusan while having dinner with his colleagues.”

“I will ask him once I’m there,” Taehyung says, plugging his phone in to charge as he stands up. “I need to dress elegantly and modest. Let me see what I can do.”

Taehyung knows he has plenty of appropriate clothing. It wouldn’t be his first time going to a place like this, and a lot of his clients have dress requirements. If they’re regulars, more often than not they give him money beforehand, so he can get himself something nice.

In the end, he goes for something quite discreet. He chooses a two pieces black suit and a white shirt, floral embroidery details climbing up the front of the white fabric. He turns around and looks at himself in the mirror, Jimin whistling behind him.

“Does it look good?” Taehyung asks. He thinks he does, but mirrors are a tricky thing, sometimes. Last thing he needs is an angry client accusing him of not looking like he does in pictures.

“You look hot,” Jimin replies. Taehyung knows that Jimin is a bit biased when it comes to him, but he is also honest. It wouldn’t be the first time Jimin has told him he doesn’t like an outfit he’d put together or something he has bought. He trusts Jimin’s opinion. “Your ass looks cute on those ones.”

“The pants are fitted,” Taehyung reveals. “I need to take advantage of my assets.”

Jimin laughs at that, saying, “You’re terrible.”

After that, Taehyung starts doing his makeup. Like the message said, he doesn’t go too over the top. He just puts on some foundation and concealer, fills his eyebrows a little and applies some neutral shimmery eyeshadow. He also puts some black kohl on his upper waterline to make his lashes look better, aware that mascara is probably too much for tonight. He briefly considers putting some gloss on, but he ends up discarding the idea: not too over the top, Taehyung, he reminds himself.

Truth is, he’s not that big on makeup. Even though he can appreciate the way he looks, it feels somehow uncomfortable, and Taehyung is happier with a bareface than anything. Plus, he’s not very good and needs to always ask Jimin for help with something, since he never had the interest to learn. Still, the guy openly mentioned makeup in his mention. And it’s a special occasion, since he doesn’t get to places like The Cornerstone every other night, so...

When he’s done he looks in the mirror hesitantly. He thinks he looks good—no, he knows he does. He just hopes it’s not too much, like the client had specified. He’s worried about the eyeshadow, mostly. It’s not like it’s too bright or anything, it just shimmers a little, but he makes sure to grab a small packet of makeup remover wipes just in case.

“Is this okay?” Taehyung asks, turning around to look at Jimin again. He knows he’s always asking him for validation but he can’t help it.

“Are you kidding? You look great,” replies Jimin, standing up to look at him. He puts his hand under Taehyung’s chin and makes him look up at him, grabbing Taehyung’s brush from the desk. “Close your eyes. Just let me blend this a little more, and you’re good to go.”

Taehyung hums, letting Jimin work his magic. He’s way better at makeup than Taehyung will ever be, so he just lets him work as he tries to stay as still as possible. He can feel his long, dangling earring swing from one side to the other, the cold of it making him want to squirm whenever it touches the skin of his neck.

“Ah, yeah, this is better,” says Jimin once he’s done, Taehyung opening his eyes to look at him. “You’re so stunning. Oh my God, you really are so gorgeous.”

“Shush,” Taehyung says, standing up as he looks at the hour on the watch on their bedside table. “I really should get going now.”

“Go then, you legend,” Jimin says lying back on the bed as Taehyung gets his phone. “Go get that million.”

Taehyung chuckles. He’s actually quite excited about this—he gets to have a nice, fancy dinner and gain 1,500,000 won out of it. He just needs to pretend to be the guy’s date. And if he does well enough, maybe he can get a regular out of this—God, he hopes he can. He could use some nights earning this much.

So now, he has one mission—he needs to make the guy practically fall in love with him.

“You bet I will.”

 

 

 

Taehyung shifts on his feet as he takes a look around himself, biting down on his lower lip. He’s waiting for JKbusan where they agreed. It’s cold, but he still decided to leave with more than enough time. He’d rather wait a little bit than have one client be upset with him because he had to wait—it wouldn’t be the first time.

It’s early December, and Seoul already got so cold during the night that it feels like it’s the middle of winter. Taehyung is glad he got to wear a suit, at least. Some other times he has had to wait out in the cold with short, thin dresses. At least today he doesn’t feel like dying.

He’s so submerged in his own thoughts he doesn’t notice the man approaching him until there’s a hand on his elbow. He turns around startled, ready to snap at whomever it was, but then he really looks. The man standing in front of him is beautiful. Since he hadn’t stated his age on his profile and because of how formal he spoke, Taehyung was expecting him to be older. But he can’t be older than Taehyung is. He’s around the same height as him, and he’s handsome—dark parted hair, big and expressive eyes, a strong nose and strong jaw. Taehyung is left speechless, staring for a few seconds until the stranger speaks.

“You’re K Tae, right?” he asks. Taehyung feels his cheeks go red. In all honesty, he picked that escort name a few years ago when he thought it sounded cool. Now… well, now he has to stick with it.

“I am, yes,” Taehyung replies. “JKbusan…?”

The man nods, Taehyung licking his lips. He was already excited, but it’s not that often that he gets attractive clients of around his age that pay nicely. And now, just by looking at him, he knows this will be a very, very nice evening.

Taehyung quickly composes himself after his initial shock. The guy is hot, yes, but Taehyung has dealt with hot guys before. He does appreciate a handsome guy, but a beautiful face—and a nice body, even if the coat he’s wearing still covers most of it—is not enough to leave him speechless, or defenseless. Not all the guys that come to him are lonely old men.

“I’m Jeongguk,” the man introduces himself as he bows a little, snapping Taehyung out of his daze. Taehyung politely bows back at him, smiling a little. Without any delay, the man reaches for the inner pocket of his suit and pulls out an envelope. “Here’s the money. I counted it twice, all of it is there.”

Taehyung likes that. He has a strict business before pleasure policy, which he’s sure people can understand in a job like his. He’s glad that for once he doesn’t have to explain the obvious.

“Thank you,” Taehyung replies, taking the envelope in his hand. He doesn’t pull the money out of it, he knows better than to do that on the street, but he’s planning on counting it before the evening is over. Jeongguk seems trustworthy, but just in case he decides to play Taehyung. 1,500,000 won is quite the sum of money, after all. “I’m Tae. It’s nice to meet you.”

“So, about what we’ll tell my colleagues… I don’t want anything too complex,” Jeongguk starts. “We could just say we met through a friend and have gone out on a couple of dates. Does that work for you?”

“It does,” Taehyung says. In his experience, more complex and decorated lies bring out more skepticism. He’s a good actor, of course, his job requires for him to be one. “Anything I should know about you, in case they ask questions?”

“No, since we’d still be pretty casual at this point,” Jeongguk says. “Or, wait—I’m twenty-three and I work as a legal management accountant for a law firm. I think that’s it?”

Taehyung nods. As he suspected, the guy is younger than him. “That should be enough, yes,” Taehyung replies.

“Okay, that’s good,” Jeongguk says, taking a look at his wristwatch. It’s a Rolex. Taehyung raises his eyebrows, but he can’t say he’s shocked. If the guy can afford to pay 1,500,000 won just to have a date, then he has the kind of money for a Rolex. “I hope you’re not cold. They’ll be here any minute now.”

“I’m fine,” Taehyung lies with a smile. He is a bit cold—it’s December, after all. But he’s not about to tell this guy he wants to wait inside. For starters, he knows how men like this get at suggestions, or as they choose to see them, orders. And he’s also sure that it would be seen as impolite to go inside before the rest of guests arrive. So, suck it up, buttercup. “Do you mind if I smoke?”

“Not at all,” Jeongguk replies, reaching into the pocket of his own coat. “I’ll have one myself, too.”

As someone who started his story with cigarettes because of social smoking, Taehyung finds the act of smoking with someone to be a great icebreaker. He’s naturally extroverted, but there have been many occasions when he has found himself building conversation easily when he’s in a group of smokers.

Taehyung smiles at him politely as both of them get their cigarettes. As he fishes for his lighter he notices Jeongguk can’t seem to find his, so he offers to light up his cigarette as well. Instead of replying, Jeongguk just leans forward and cups the lighter with his hands as Taehyung rolls the stone. “Thank you,” Jeongguk replies as he pulls back, Taehyung lighting his own cigarette. “I must have forgotten mine at home.”

“Story of my life,” Taehyung says. “I swear there’s a black hole somewhere absorbing all of my lighters.”

Jeongguk laughs at that, and Taehyung smiles in delight. He’s positive he already has Jeongguk in the palm of his hand.

They talk a little bit as they wait for Jeongguk’s colleagues to show up. Nothing too interesting or remotely personal—more chitchat about lighters, about the weather or how this winter seems to be even more ruthless than usual. Jeongguk is well-spoken and his voice has a soft edge to it that makes Taehyung want to just bring topic after topic just so he talks more, the sound smooth and sweet as honey to him. Unluckily, he doesn’t seem to be a talker. His answers are just long enough to not be considered as unpolite, but it’s obvious he’s more of a listener himself.

Not that Taehyung has any problem with that. As an escort he has learned how to adapt, especially since he more often than not is surrounded by pompous assholes who love to talk about themselves. Still, he’s naturally more of a talker. There are no uncomfortable silences when he’s around.

“I don’t intend to sound indiscreet and you can just ignore it if this question makes you somehow uncomfortable,” he asks after exhaling a puff of smoke. “But how come you’ve hired an escort? I’m sure a man like you doesn’t need one.”

Taehyung doesn’t mean to flatter or flirt. But the truth is that there are very few men like Jeongguk that hire his services, or any other escort. Usually, it’s either men that are more on the unattractive side, or old and bored with life, looking for something to spice things up. Jeongguk doesn’t look like any of those things… Well, maybe a little boring. He’s an accountant, after all.

“Ah, well,” replies Jeongguk, taking a drag of his cigarette. “I might have lied and said I’m seeing someone.”

Taehyung laughs, amused. He’s also sure that, if he wanted to, Jeongguk wouldn’t have much of a problem finding himself someone to see. That’s why he asks, “How come?”

“I was talking to the guys we’ll be dining with tonight,” he starts. “They said that afterwards we should go out for drinks and they’d find me someone to spend the night with, so I lied and said I had been seeing someone recently.”

“You don’t fancy going out?” Taehyung asks, curious.

“Not my thing,” Jeongguk admits, the corner of his mouth twitching. “Also, it’s a weekday.” Taehyung laughs at that. Yeah, just like he thought, this Jeongguk is a little boring. “What’s funny?”

“Nothing, nothing,” replies Taehyung with a smile. “Just not the answer I was expecting, that’s all.”

Just as Jeongguk promised, his colleagues don’t take too long to get there. They’re dressed just as well as Jeongguk himself is, black suits with perfectly ironed shirts. Something about all of them screams luxury. Didn’t Jeongguk mention he worked for a law firm? It must be a good one, Taehyung observes as he takes in the appearance of Taehyung’s friends.

“You know, when you mentioned you would bring a date, I really thought you were making it up,” says one of them as he greets Jeongguk warmly, the other smiling at him. His lips are plump and he has honey brown hair, his bangs carefully styled to show his forehead. He turns to Taehyung then, giving him a blinding smile. “My name is Kim Seokjin. It’s very nice to meet you…”

“Likewise,” he replies, smile accompanied by a bow. “I’m Tae.”

“And I’m Kim Namjoon,” says the other man. He’s taller and his hair is dark. What really calls Taehyung’s attention is the couple of dimples that appear on his face when he smiles at him. They’re adorable, and something about them makes Taehyung genuinely smile at him.

“Tae. It’s my pleasure,” he replies, bowing to him as well.

The three of them greet each other, and in those brief moments where all the attention is away from him, Taehyung lets himself observe the trio. Taehyung doesn’t really understand how it’s possible for good-looking people to stick in groups like that, but part of him is offended. How dare all of them be so unfairly handsome? It’s just not realistic.

He’s brought back to reality when Seokjin nods in the direction of the restaurant and says, “Shall we go inside, then?”

Taehyung has been to his fair share of fancy restaurants in Seoul, especially in the Gangnam area, but this is the first time he’s been to The Cornerstone. No matter how many of these he sees, he will never not be amazed at these kinds of places—the lights are dimmed giving it a cozy atmosphere, and on the wall farthest from them, the big windows allow them to see the Seoul city lights.

Jeongguk places one of his hands on the small of his back as they walk, a discreet yet flirty touch that has Taehyung sending him an accomplice smile over his shoulder. He’s being paid for putting up an act, right? He’s the best at what he does, and he’s decided to prove it to Jeongguk. So he decides to hire him again, of course.

A waiter guides them to their table, in one of the more private dining rooms. The low murmur of other diners can be heard over the jazz music that plays in the background, and something about it makes Taehyung feel warm inside. This is one of the reasons why Taehyung does what he does—part of him feels like he was born to go to places like this, even if the financial situation of his family doesn’t agree with that statement.

He remembers back in the day when restaurants like these scared him. He could barely make sense of the menu or the wine list. By now he knows them as well as he once knew what his usual McDonald’s order was, and has even founded opinions on what the best wines to accompany each dish are. Taehyung doesn’t hesitate anymore when he makes his orders, not even with foreign dishes.

As was to be expected, job talk is brought up eventually. That’s a relief for Taehyung, honestly—he gets to relax for a little bit, disconnect from things and let his mind wander wherever. Like how horrendous the hairdo of the women three tables to the left is, and how the golden prescription glasses the guy in front of them are.

“Doesn’t Jeongguk tell you about work, Tae?” Seokjin asks at some point.

Taehyung appreciates the efforts to bring him back into the conversation. Maybe if this was his real boyfriend he’d be a bit more upset about being left out, but he can understand why these topics come out between co-workers. Work seems to consume all the men Taehyung goes out with, for some reason.

“Oh, no, he doesn’t,” replies Taehyung, smiling as he steals a glance in Jeongguk’s direction. “Which I am grateful for, really. His job doesn’t sound the most fascinating to me if I’m frank.”

The three of them laugh at that, Jeongguk adopting a resigned expression. “I couldn’t be perfect, could I?” he asks, reaching out towards Taehyung.

Taehyung gets it. He reaches forward himself and gives Jeongguk’s hand a quiz squeeze. The guy is good at the fooling game, better than Taehyung was expecting.

“Of course you are, honey,” Taehyung replies, giving him the sweetest smile he’s capable of without it getting too cloying.

Dinner goes well, smoothly. Both Namjoon and Seokjin are incredibly charming, just as respectful and well-mannered as Jeongguk himself is. Seokjin cracks a few—bad—jokes that make Taehyung laugh, Jeongguk choking on his wine at one of them as Namjoon closes his eyes and shakes his head, an amused smile still on his face.

But eventually, the part where they ask him questions about himself has to come. Taehyung is used to this, to bullshitting some story on the spot. He usually writes down in his phone whatever life he has chosen to live once he’s alone, in case the client wants to go out publicly again. He could always use the same story, but where’s the fun in that?

“So, Tae,” asks Namjoon after a while. “What do you do? I wish I could say Jeongguk has talked lots about you, but the truth is he has been keeping you away from us until today. No offense intended.”

“None taken,” Taehyung replies with a laugh. “I’m a stylist. Not as fancy as being a lawyer, but…”

“Oh, it’s fancier,” Seokjin interjects as he pats his mouth with a napkin. “You do look like a stylist. And here I thought I’d be the best dressed tonight.”

“You? The best dressed?” asks Jeongguk as he raises an eyebrow, a playful expression on his face.

Jeongguk seems to be very comfortable around the pair. It was to be expected since they’re friends after all, but there clearly has been a shift in attitude from when it was just the two of them until now. With Seokjin, he’s very playful and they bicker a lot. With Namjoon, it’s different—he feels a lot of admiration and respect emanating from both of them for the other, and it’s very moving to see.

“Better than you,” Seokjin says, resting his palm on his chest. “At least I’m wearing a tie.”

And as always, the dreaded question has to come. Taehyung, obviously, refuses to give out his real name while escorting, knowing the dangers that can come with it. K Tae was enough for him online, but of course, every time they met with other people, someone had to ask the question.

This time, it’s Namjoon.

“So,” he starts, taking a swipe of his wine. “What does Tae stand for?”

As much as he likes to change his backstories in order to not get bored, this is one that Taehyung always stays loyal to.

“Taeyong,” he replies, the lie slipping past his lips naturally. At this point, his first instinct when someone asks for his full name is to say Taeyong, if he’s honest. “But I like Tae more. Feels warmer.”

Truth is, he still hasn’t grown used to Taeyong. He doesn’t feel like people are talking to him, which is inconvenient, so he just sticks to Tae if he can.

The night is, for lack of a better word, very lovely. Taehyung excuses himself and goes to the restroom while they wait for dessert, a chance he uses to make sure all of the money is there like Jeongguk promised. It wouldn’t be the first time someone tries to fool him and slip less than they agreed to; that’s why Taehyung always makes sure to count it before the encounter is over. But just like he thought, Jeongguk is trustworthy.

The food is delicious, the wine is exquisite, and the company is excellent. Taehyung can’t believe he’s getting paid for having a good time, for real.

Seokjin is the one to pay the bill, handing his card over and looking at the exaggeratedly high number on the bill with a comfort that Taehyung still hasn’t grown accustomed to, despite having been doing this for a while now. He doesn’t understand how some people can hand such high amounts of money over so freely, but he stopped questioning it a long time ago. Especially considering he’s the one benefitting from it.

The time to leave comes. The four of them share a cigarette by the door of the restaurant before Namjoon and Seokjin leave together, only Jeongguk and him left. This is the moment of truth, right? This is where Jeongguk will tell him if he’s happy with his job or if, on the other hand, he wasn’t worth the 1,500,000.

“Thank you so much for tonight,” is what Jeongguk says. Taehyung feels a knot in his throat that he didn’t know existed relax. “You were truly brilliant, and very lovely.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Taehyung says, truthfully. Of course it’s his pleasure—all he had to do was lie a little, and not only did he get a lovely soiree in one of the best restaurants of Seoul, but he also got 1,500,000 won. It was truly a pleasure.

“Of course, of course,” Jeongguk says. “Do you have a ride home?”

“I’ll get a cab,” Taehyung says. Usually he’d go walking, but he has a very big amount of money on him right now, and he doesn’t want to risk it. Safety measures, he guesses. “But thank you so much for the offer. That’s very lovely of you.”

“Ah, well,” Jeongguk says, slipping his hands in the pockets of his coat. He wants to leave now, and Taehyung doesn’t want to delay it any further, either. “If that’s all…”

“Goodnight, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, giving him a warm smile. “Have a safe trip back home.”

“Likewise! Goodnight, Tae.”

In the cab home, Taehyung looks out of the window and lets himself get distracted by the bright lights of Gangnam. It still feels weird to call this part of Seoul home, even after a couple of years. He wonders if it will ever feel like home, or if he will always feel like a stranger, like a tourist. Like he’s not fit for it.

Eventually Taehyung gets home, leaning against the door after he’s locked it. As he called it when he saw Jeongguk, this was… a lovely night. A lovely night that earned him more than a million won.

God, he hopes Jeongguk messages him again.

Chapter Text

As it was to be expected, Jeongguk messages him again.

What catches Taehyung by surprise is that this time around it’s not for a meeting with colleagues, though. This time Jeongguk requires to see him alone, and that’s not something Taehyung saw coming at all.

It’s not like he’s not used to this, because he has had dozens—maybe even hundreds; probably hundreds—of dates like this one. But the thing is, Jeongguk could literally date anyone he liked, truth be told. He doesn’t need to pay for an escort. It’s one thing to hire one in moments of need like last time, when he made up a boyfriend and urgently needed someone to pose as him. But this? Taehyung is shocked, to say the least.

Maybe Jeongguk is lonely. It’s not as usual as the rest of his clients, but he gets guys like this too, sometimes. Attractive or successful guys who are way too busy with their work to pursue a real relationship, so they just go for an escort whenever they’re free and feel in need of love. Is there such a big difference, though? Taehyung knows how to make men feel like he’s in love with them—that’s his job. They go on dates, and if they want to and they pay for it, they get sex as well. It’s faster and easier to maintain than a real relationship.

And just like last time, the night is very lovely. Jeongguk is not quite as talkative when it’s just the two of them, but again, Taehyung doesn’t mind doing the talk. Especially now that he doesn’t have to lie as much, and that Jeongguk has no one to discuss boring work things with.

They’re at Tavolo 24 this time around. Taehyung has been here before but he doesn’t mind coming again. Of course he doesn’t: it’s a nice place with nice—and overpriced—food, and he gets to eat for free. Plus, the view is nice. And so is the company if he’s honest.

“You look very lovely tonight,” Jeongguk tells him once they’re settled, after the waiter took their orders. The air between them feels different than last time; maybe because they’re alone now, maybe because this time he messaged Taehyung because he wanted to. “And you managed to get a choker.”

Taehyung smiles. In the message that Jeongguk had sent him, he had asked him to wear one. It was just as formal as the previous one had been, but something about it  sounded more relaxed. In it, Jeongguk said that even though they were still going somewhere fancy, he could dress more laid-back than last time. And then, in a very short and almost camouflaged sentence at the end, he had said, A choker would be nice.

And Taehyung lives to please his clients. Especially with big sums of money on the line. He has chosen slacks and a white shirt with flowy sleeves. And of course, he had added a choker—a black velvet one adorned with a small, burgundy stone on the front. Not too flashy, but hopefully enough to positively catch Jeongguk’s eye.

“Since you asked so nicely,” Taehyung says, tilting his head to look at Jeongguk. “You don’t look so bad yourself.”

That would be an understatement. Jeongguk, just like Taehyung himself, isn’t dressing as formally as on their previous encounter, but he still looks as good, if not even better. His hair looks the same, dark and parted on his forehead. He’s wearing black jeans along with a striped shirt that looks so soft it makes Taehyung want to reach out and touch it.

Jeongguk laughs at that, the corners of his eyes crinkling a little. “Well, thank you,” he says, laughter still ringing in his voice. “It’s nice to know I don’t look completely horrid.”

“Oh, please. As if you’re capable of looking horrid,” Taehyung says, rolling his eyes a little. He licks his lips before speaking again, hoping the subject change is not too abrupt. “I must say, I was surprised when I got your message today. Especially when I saw the part where you stated we wouldn’t have any company tonight.”

He tries to be as coy as possible, but it mustn’t be working by the way Jeongguk raises an eyebrow at him. Still, Taehyung smiles cheekily before reaching for his wine and taking a sip.

“Well, as you could see the other day, my friends loved you,” replies Jeongguk. Taehyung nods—that much was obvious. He’s used to having that kind of effect on people. “I think we both could benefit from going on some more dates. They wouldn’t be in my hair about finding a boyfriend and you would be making some good money. Doesn’t it sound nice?”

“Absolutely,” Taehyung says with a smile.

It’s not often that clients bring up the fact that Taehyung gets paid during their encounters. What most of them want is to believe that Taehyung is their date and that he’s with them willingly instead of because of the money. Perhaps he judged Jeongguk’s character wrongly. Maybe he’s not lonely after all, and he simply just doesn’t want anyone at the moment.

“I thought it’d be better to go out alone at least once before going out with my friends again,” Jeongguk carries on. “Just so we build some… trust, for a lack of a better word. And also, because I’m a traditional guy when it comes to business—I would rather do it in person than through an app.”

“So this is business to you too?” Taehyung asks, an amused smile on his face. It clearly is to him since this is his job after all. But for Jeongguk? Taehyung likes to think that most of his clients think of their time together as leisure.

“I tend to consider business everything that requires money,” Jeongguk replies, the corner of his mouth quirking into a cocked smile.

“So, when you go to the cinema—do you consider that business, too?” Taehyung asks.

“Oh, absolutely,” Jeongguk is quick to reply. “I am making an inversion on my own entertainment. And most of the time, it goes wrong since I come out disappointed and bored as fuck.”

Taehyung can’t help but laugh at that. It’s the first time he hears Jeongguk swear, always so proper and well-mannered. There’s something refreshing about it—Jeongguk is human, too, despite being a loaded accountant.

The food is delicious to neither of their surprise. Jeongguk mentioned that he’d require Taehyung’s services more often so his friends wouldn’t bug him about partners, and in all honestly, Taehyung is happy about the arrangement. That means more going to places that, like this or The Cornerstone, he can afford, but feels too guilty to go to if he’s the one paying. Some habits and feelings he will never let go of no matter how much money he has now. He doesn’t mind spending on, let’s say, clothes, since he knows that he can use them for a long, long time if he’s careful. But with food… He doesn’t do dirt cheap anymore, but the Tavolo 24 is not somewhere he’d go to if he was the one paying.

He still enjoys these kinds of places, though. Not just because of the music but because of the ambience. Everything from the lightning to the music sets the mood for a good and intimate evening. Plus, Taehyung loves looking at the decoration—that is another habit he won’t let go of. He dedicated four years of his life to interiors design, after all. Even if his degree hasn’t really taken him anywhere, he still has it.

“I have a question,” Jeongguk starts once their food has arrived, looking at Taehyung. “Is Taeyong your real name?”

Taehyung narrows his eyes. He has been asked what his full name was a lot during all his time escorting and he had always said Taeyong. Saying his real name felt very personal when all he wanted was to build some kind of emotional wall between him and his clients. But all of those times no one had doubted whether his answer was true or not. All of them had wrongly assumed that Taehyung, for some reason, trusted them enough to disclose what his real name was. Until now.

“How come you’re asking this?” Taehyung says, dodging the question. He knows he’s not being sly about it but he’s curious.

“I just think that if I were an escort I definitely wouldn’t tell my name to my clients since I know how some of them can be,” Jeongguk says. When he sees the surprise written over Taehyung’s face, he clarifies, “Not because I’ve escorted but because those kind of men are the kind that I work and interact with. And well—now it’s me as well.”

Taehyung hums, then. “It’s not my real name, no,” Taehyung admits.

Jeongguk feels pretty comfortable discussing all these details which makes Taehyung oddly relaxed as well. At least he’s not some creepy bastard who chooses to believe Taehyung is in love with him. There’s something very reassuring about clients like Jeongguk who are open about where both of them stand with each other. Thing is, most of the clients with this mindset that Taehyung gets are usually not interested in more than sex.

“Thought so,” Jeongguk says, nodding. “I thought, if you were so comfortable revealing it in your first meeting with a client, then you would just have added it to your profile.”

First meeting or any meeting, Taehyung thinks to himself but he doesn’t say anything. Instead he just smiles at Jeongguk, who seems pretty satisfied with himself at having made that discovery on his own.

“Okay, it’s my turn to ask a question now, then,” Taehyung says. It’s something that rounds his mind frequently, not just with Jeongguk but with most of his clients. Especially if it’s not his first time with them. “Why me? Why did you pick me?”

Jeongguk sighs. “Ah, well. I guess you fit my type the most? Also, in your pics you seemed adequate for where we were going… in the ones you were dressed, at least.”

That makes Taehyung laugh cheerfully. He has a nice variety of pictures on his profile, of course. After all, he needs to cater to all the potential customers he wants—both the ones that want a companion for dates and the ones that are just looking for some sex.

“Your type?” Taehyung asks, curious. “And what would that be?”

“Well, physically it’s you, like I said,” replies Jeongguk. “A beautiful face, tall and thin guys, not too much muscle. I also appreciate long legs which you do have.”

Something about the revelation makes Taehyung feel delighted. He has always liked to be praised, that’s one of his few weak spots. He smiles at Jeongguk sweetly.

“I’m glad you’ve found your dream guy in me then,” he says.

The rest of the night is just as lovely as the previous one. Still, they really don’t get personal and Taehyung is grateful. He’s tired of hearing about the lives of his clients. He’s tired of them telling him about how they love their wives that wait for them back home, how they love their children. I could never leave them, they say. Taehyung doesn’t think that what they’re doing is any better.

He feels guilty, sometimes. But at the end of the day, he’s working and he’s not the one who has a partner back home. And if he decided to stop seeing all men who aren’t single then he’d lose half of his clientele. In a job like his there’s no room for morals.

Maybe that’s why he finds himself sympathizing with Jeongguk especially. Because he knows for definite that Jeongguk is not cheating on someone, and that makes Taehyung feel a little better about himself.

They finish their food and after Jeongguk has paid the bill the two of them share a smoke outside. They’re quiet this time around but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. The thing about Jeongguk is that he doesn’t feel uneasy about silence, neither does he desperately try to fill them with meaningless chit chat. That’s a relief for Taehyung since that way he gets to rejoice a little in the quietness, too. No matter how talkative he is and how much he likes to talk, it’s nice to stop every once in a while and just listen.

“Tae?” Jeongguk asks after he has finished his cigarette. Taehyung looks at him as he exhales a puff of smoke, eyes inquiring. “I can drive you home if you want.”

“Ah, thank you,” Taehyung says, stubbing his cigarette. “But I’ll just take a cab home, don’t worry.”

Jeongguk clicks his tongue. “You’re very cautious, aren’t you?” he asks, smiling a little at Taehyung.

“I have to be,” Taehyung replies, smiling a little. “I’m sure you can understand why. It’s not personal.”

“I know,” Jeongguk says. “I know it’s not.”

Taehyung smiles at him again and Jeongguk sighs. He appreciates the niceness, he really does. It’s not often that his clients care about how he gets home so it’s a nice gesture. But Taehyung doesn’t really trust Jeongguk just yet.

“I’ll get going now,” Jeongguk announces then. “I’ll contact you again soon if you’re still interested in my offer.”

“Oh, I am,” Taehyung replies. “Feel free to message me whenever.”

Jeongguk bows at him as a farewell, Taehyung mimicking him. Taehyung stubs his cigarette out as he watches him leave and lets his mind wander.

If he can keep Jeongguk’s interest on him for long enough then he has found a goldmine.

 

 

Skyping his parents, as Taehyung knows, is an adventure. Not only because the webcam on their old laptop has the same quality Taehyung’s first phone camera had, no. And it’s not even about how badly their WiFi works, making the image freeze in the most unfortunate of moments and throwing both sides into a fit of giggles, no.

The reason why is that Taehyung’s parents are always so fucking loud when they Skype him. Which, in turn, makes Taehyung himself raise his tone as he talks to them. So what ends up happening is that they have a screaming contest through Skype—a very cordial, loving one, of course. Taehyung always makes sure to tell them he loves them.

“We miss you so, so much, Taehyung-ah,” his mother says, clasping her hands together as she looks down at her screen. “Your siblings miss you, too. They keep asking when you’ll come visit.”

Taehyung smiles, reaching back to scratch the back of his head. It’s only his parents he’s talking to, both of them sitting side by side on the couch. His siblings are probably in bed by now, although Taehyung doesn’t discard the possibility of them being woken up by how loud the three of them are talking.

“I miss all of you too, mom,” he says. “I’ll try to go to Daegu as soon as possible. I really can’t wait to see you.”

Which is true. But Taehyung feels incredibly guilty when he goes home—fuck, he feels guilty even when he just talks to his family.

The thing is, Taehyung hasn’t told his family about the escorting and he doesn’t plan on doing so. When he started working in this line of work, back in his third year of college, he told them that he had gotten a job at a cinema theater nearby that allowed him to pay for rent and stay in Seoul. After he finished his degree, while he desperately and unsuccessfully looked for a job related to what he had studied, he had lied to them as well and told them he had gotten a nice job as an interior designer for a company.

In consequence, Taehyung started avoiding talking to his family whenever he could, which really goes against his own desires and everything he believes in. He swears he’s been raised to think he can trust and rely on his family for anything, no matter what. Yet, he can’t bring himself to confess such a big secret to them.

But it’s fine, Taehyung tells himself. Escorting is not something personal. There are certain parts of one’s life that must be hidden from parents, just like there are parts of parents’ lives that kids don’t have to know. Someday he will let go of this, and when that happens, Taehyung will be honest with them.

Until then, all he can do is hide the truth from them and smile as they talk on Skype.

“Come here for Christmas then, son,” his father says. “You can stay from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve, or your birthday. We would just like to spend your birthday with you.”

Taehyung takes a deep breath. He does feel really guilty but he’ll see what he can do. No matter what decision he makes, he will be telling a lie, and he knows he’ll be guilty—if he goes there because he’s not honest about what his job is; if he lies and says that he can’t go because his boss won’t give him days off then he’s just making the snowball bigger.

“I’ll try to be there, I promise,” he says. Christmas and New Years are big days for escorting, because of the amount of dinners and parties there are. Maybe he can go spend a couple of days on Christmas, since it’s more family orientated, and then come back. That seems like the wiser option. “As soon as I know something for sure I will tell you, okay?”

Luckily for him, conversation soon is diverted towards more light-hearted topics (more light-hearted for him, at least). He mostly asks about his siblings and how they’re doing—now that he has finished studying all the questions are about them. Since Taehyung’s parents don’t know much about his job, all they ask is how is it. Taehyung is grateful for it. Not only because he doesn’t want the attention on him, but he also really wants to know how his siblings are doing. Both of them are in middle school now, and Taehyung knows that can be a rough age. Knowing that they’re doing well makes him happier than anything else could.

He’s still on Skype with his parents when the door to their bedroom opens and Jimin emerges from it, already in his pajamas. He’s barefoot and has his—empty—water bottle in his hand so Taehyung guesses he’s going to the kitchen for a refill.

“Minnie, come say hi!” he says then, gesturing for Jimin to come join him. “I’m talking to my parents. They were just asking about you not that long ago.”

Jimin approaches Taehyung, sitting by his side on the couch. When they moved in together right after graduating, Taehyung told his parents that he and Jimin knew each other because they both attended the same university. That was a lie—they met when Taehyung started working in a nightclub during his junior year. Jimin was already working there and how close in age they were brought them together. After that, they became inseparable—they decided to quit working in clubs and move on to escorting together, and they decided to move in together to achieve that. At this point, Taehyung doubts he will meet a soul more alike to his than Jimin’s.

“Hi Mrs. Kim, hi Mr. Kim!” Jimin says, his head peeking in a corner of the screen as he waves his hand in front of the camera. “Long time no see.”

“Jimin, dear, how are you?” Taehyung’s mom asks, her face lighting up when Jimin appears. Taehyung doesn’t even take offence to it—that’s the Jimin effect, everyone. “How are things? Is everything okay?”

“I’m very well, yeah,” Jimin says, smiling at her. “Everything is as good as usual. How are things back in Daegu?”

“Things are good here,” she replies. “We’re just trying to convince Taehyungie here to come pay us a visit. He’s forgetting about us, isn’t he?”

Jimin laughs at that, shaking his head. “Not at all! I know for a fact that he misses you very much, and he’ll come see you as soon as he gets time off. He’s an adult now, Mrs. Kim.”

Taehyung’s mother doesn’t reply to that, at least not right away. She nods along, staring longingly at the screen. Taehyung knows that look—it’s the same look she gets whenever she looks at baby pictures of Taehyung or any of his siblings.

“He really is,” she says after a few seconds. “My little boy has grown into a man, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Taehyung smiles but something inside of him breaks when he hears his mother’s words. If only she knew—if only she was aware of the things he does, of the way he earns a living for himself. Back in the day he was desperate to stay in Seoul and turned to what worked the best with his schedules and with the money he needed. But now? Now there are other options and Taehyung knows that. He knows that he can’t even use necessity as an excuse, and that makes him feel even more ashamed.

He wonders what would have happened if things were different, if his father hadn’t lost his job when he was halfway through university, if he had never started working in that club. Perhaps he would be waiting as a barista in a café or in some shitty fast food chain. But at least he wouldn’t have to hide it away even from his own family.

Taehyung doesn’t know what could have been. He’s relatively happy with what he does now, but days like this make him question everything.

He just wishes he was someone his mother could be proud of.

 

 

“I have one question,” Jimin announces out of the blue.

They’re both hanging out in their bedroom, scrolling away on their phones after a long day of work. They both smell of soap and Jimin still is wearing his bathrobe. It’s raining outside and something about the sound of the raindrops against the window makes Taehyung feels extremely cozy and happy.

“What is it?” he asks, turning around so he can lie on his side and look at Jimin.

Jimin locks his phone and puts it away, facing Taehyung as well. Then he starts, “If a client says he wants us to webcam, is that creepy? Does it sound like a terribly bad idea?”

“I mean, kind of,” Taehyung says, tilting his head. “He might record the screen or something. You know how I feel about webcams and stuff.”

“You’re a technophobe,” Jimin jokes, pinching Taehyung’s leg through his pajamas.

“I’m not a technophobe!” exclaims Taehyung, words almost drowned by the sound of his own chuckles. “I’m a 90s kid. I’m analogue.”

“Anal-ogue,” Jimin says, wiggling his eyebrows at Taehyung. “As long as it implies anal, you’re in.”

Jimin elbows him in the ribs as he smiles, trying to get Taehyung to laugh. Taehyung is a bit amused by the joke but he pretends not to be for dramatization purposes.

“Okay, first of all, that was so bad,” he says, unable to keep a small grin away from his face. What can he say? He’s weak. “Secondly—you’re mean! Some people like it up the ass, Jimin. Don’t act like you’re not one of them.”

At that Jimin bursts into laughter, rolling in the mattress as his eyes turn into crescents. “And Im the mean one?” he asks once his chuckles have quieted down a little. “Just say you hate me and go, Jesus.”

Taehyung can’t help but join in despite the ridiculousness of the situation and the conversation overall. Maybe that’s why he’s laughing. Whatever it is, when it’s just Jimin and him alone he truly feels like he can laugh at silly things like this, and just let go and be himself. Taehyung is goofy even if that’s something he conceals when he’s out working.

“Okay, now seriously,” Taehyung starts again, once they’ve both stopped laughing. “I really don’t think it’s a good idea, technophobia aside. Is it someone you know?”

“No but they’re offering to PayPal me an interesting amount,” Jimin says, Taehyung clicking his tongue. “You think it’s a shit idea, don’t you?”

“Yeah. Sorry, babe,” Taehyung says, Jimin just waving it off. “Maybe ask if he’d  be willing to meet up?”

“I will! I hope he’s willing to pay the same amount, though,” Jimin says, getting his phone and unlocking it so he can type a reply. “Right now the thought of meeting up with someone feels ew, though. It’s that time of the day.”

“Yeah, same,” Taehyung says, slipping his hands under his cheeks so he can rest his head on them. “It better go away by tomorrow, I have someone coming in the morning.”

“Aw, that’s early,” Jimin says, standing up and walking towards his underwear drawer. Taehyung and Jimin have seen each other naked so he just takes off the bathrobe and grabs a pair of briefs without trying to hide. “I’m going to have brunch with a doctor. Doesn’t that sound fancy? Brunch.”

“I have brunch every day and you shame me for it, instead of saying it’s fancy,” Taehyung points out, Jimin resting his hand on his hip as he gives him a look. “I see a double standard here, Park Jimin.”

“You have a bunch of cereal at 1 PM,” Jimin replies. “That’s not brunch, nor is it fancy.”

“Same thing,” Taehyung says. “You’re just being picky.”

“Tsk, I’m being honest,” Jimin replies, sitting on the edge of the bed as he slips into his own pajamas. “Do you know what is fancy, though?”

Taehyung can already sense the playful tone in Jimin’s voice. He still plays oblivious and asks, “What is?”

“Tavolo 24,” Jimin replies, a proud smile appearing on his face when he sees Taehyung roll his eyes. “It’s really fancy. One of the fanciest places in the capital.”

“I mean, I would know,” Taehyung replies. “Since, unlike others, I have actually been to it.”

Jimin gasps at that, feigning offence. “Not all of us have customers taking us to luxury restaurants, Taehyung,” Jimin says as he tilts his head. There is no bite to his words so Taehyung raises his eyebrows. “Maybe we’re just being taken to penthouses where we can see the whole city at our feet. You should be more empathetic.”

“Piss off,” Taehyung says, using one of the pillows to hit Jimin’s back.

“How was it, anyway?” Jimin asks then. Now that he’s fully dressed he moves so he can slip under the sheets, covering himself up to his waist. “I was asleep the other day when you got back and you didn’t wake me up.”

“That’s because I’m a good roommate and you looked so peaceful,” Taehyung is quick to reply. “It was very good. He still doesn’t want anything physical or sexual and is paying generously and diligently. My favorite kind of client.”

“Favorite indeed,” Jimin mumbles. “Is he going to ask to see you again?”

“Yes. Or at least he said he would,” Taehyung replies. “He says his friends liked me so he wants me to pose as his boyfriend more often so they leave him alone and don’t try to force him into dating. So we’re good.”

“Is he hot?” Jimin asks, bluntly. “You didn’t say the other day.”

Taehyung hums. He honestly didn’t go into much detail about Jeongguk because for starters he didn’t think he’d end up becoming a regular. That is also why Jimin didn’t ask much the other day. But now that their arrangement might become more long-term, things have changed.

“Yes,” Taehyung replies, honestly. “He’s young—two years younger than us. And he’s very annoyingly attractive. He’s not the kind of guy you’d expect for this kind of service, not at all.”

“And you said he hasn’t asked for anything physical?” Jimin asks. Taehyung nods in response. “Not even a kiss?”

“Not even a kiss,” Taehyung replies. Jimin looks incredulous. “I know, right? It’s so unusual. But it’s good and I have fun going out with him, at least. Jesus, I never thought hanging out with an accountant could be even remotely enjoyable.”

That makes Jimin laugh, covering his mouth with his hand as he giggles. “You could kiss him yourself, if he’s attractive,” Jimin comments.

“Why would I?” Taehyung asks with a frown.

“Because he’s hot, you said it yourself,” Jimin asks. “How long has it been since you kissed someone because you wanted to and not because they were paying you to? Plus, you said he’s nice to be around. And making out is fun.”

“I don’t really know,” Taehyung says. He’s usually very strict about things, about what to do and what not to do with clients. If someone asks for just a date and nothing else, then that’s all they’re getting from Taehyung unless they change their mind and explicitly ask for more. Taehyung never takes the initiative. Jimin is more laid back in that sense. “Plus, I don’t even know if he’d want to. Again, all he wants is a companion so his friends leave him alone.”

“Yeah, babe, but you look like an angel. A sexy angel,” Jimin says. “Plus, if he picked you and not anyone else it might be for a reason. Just flirt it up.”

Taehyung’s mind goes back to their conversation during the date, when Jeongguk told him that he was the embodiment of his type. The thought of kissing Jeongguk is not… an unpleasant one. Like Jimin said himself, it’s been a long time since he made out with someone just because he wanted to. It wouldn’t hurt to try, right? Jeongguk is probably the only one out of all his clients that Taehyung feels he could have been friends with if they had met under different circumstances. Jimin does it all the time, so Taehyung is sure he’ll be fine if he decides to try, too.

“We’ll see,” Taehyung says. “Enough about him. Have you watched those Suits episodes you missed? I want to keep watching.”

“It’s your fault for not waiting for me earlier, traitor,” Jimin says. “I only have one left. If you don’t mind watching it again, we can do that now and then carry on with the new ones.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Taehyung says, nodding.

He’s tried to change the topic and to busy himself with something else. And somehow, that proves to not be enough—Taehyung’s mind keeps going back to a certain accountant, and to what his lips will feel like against his own.

Chapter Text

Taehyung and Jeongguk have their third date the day before Christmas Eve. They go out for dinner with Namjoon and Seokjin once again, and unsurprisingly enough it’s to another restaurant that Taehyung would never go to if he was the one paying.

If Taehyung had to pick one complaint about Jeongguk, it’d have to be that he gives such little notice beforehand when he books appointments. He understands that Jeongguk is used to getting things done his way whenever he wants to, that’s the power of money, after all. Taehyung has a schedule, and he has to work around it. Had he been busy with another client, Jeongguk would have gone alone to dinner.

The message had gone along the lines of Jeongguk’s previous messages—concise, short, and almost uncomfortably impersonal and formal. It’s the third time they meet, Jesus. They have even flirted before. So why is Jeongguk talking as if he were writing to a CEO when he messages him?

Especially since Jeongguk is not cold in person. He kept his distance a little bit more when they first met, that’s true. But Taehyung understands why—they didn’t know each other, after all. And Jeongguk was hiring an escort to fool his friends, of course things were a little more tense back then. Now, Taehyung would say he feels quite comfortable in the presence of Jeongguk. Well, as comfortable as he allows himself to get with clients. He’s not the real Taehyung, but at least he allows himself to banter with Jeongguk a little.

Plus, the fact that he’s seeing Namjoon and Seokjin again makes him feel even more eased. Had it been another person, he’d have to go through the same process as last time—lying about his occupation, about his name, all that jazz. Namjoon and Seokjin have already asked those details so they won’t ask him again. That just makes his life easier.

“You’re really brave for putting up with the three of us so often, Tae,” Seokjin comments during dinner. “Not even Namjoon’s own boyfriend wants to go out for dinner with the three of us anymore—that’s how bad we are. Let’s see how long until you don’t want to go out with us anymore, either.”

“That’s such a lie,” Namjoon complains then. “Don’t tell him that, he’s going to think Yoongi is a prick.” He turns to look at Taehyung and says, “Yoongi actually really likes Seokjin and Jeongguk. But he has a hard schedule to work around—he’s a pediatrician.”

“Really?” Taehyung asks, now genuinely interested. If you ask him, being a pediatrician is far more interesting than being an accountant, like Jeongguk.

“Yes!” Namjoon replies, smiling at him. Then, he starts to explain, “He has his own clinic, and even if they’ve already closed to the public, it’s not unusual for him to stay behind sometimes, since he tries to file everything in time to be as organized as possible.”

“Ah, you should tell him computers exist,” Jeongguk says. “They’d do all the organizing for him within seconds.”

“He’s an analogue guy,” Namjoon replies.

It’s not the most appropriate setting, but Jimin’s voice saying anal-ogue plays in Taehyung’s mind, making him smile a little.

“That’s very lovely,” Taehyung says, still turned to Namjoon. “Does he like kids? Is that why he decided to pursue that?”

“He does, yeah,” answers Namjoon. “Plus, he’s very good at what he does. His parents got the clinic for him a couple years ago and he’s very happy with it. But either way, don’t listen to what Seokjin just said—Yoongi likes them just fine. He’s coming to the firm’s Christmas dinner.”

“Which, speaking of,” interjects Seokjin. “Tae, will you come with Jeongguk?”

The firm’s Christmas dinner sounds a little bit scary. Don’t get him wrong, Taehyung has done company dinners before and has excelled, but it’s obviously more of a challenge that this is. Luckily for him, he has the perfect excuse to skip.

“Unfortunately, I can’t,” he says, sending a look in Jeongguk’s direction that tells him to be quiet and listen to him. He had already seen him opening his mouth, and if both of them said something different they wouldn’t really seem like a couple that talks things through. “I’m leaving for Daegu tomorrow. I’ll be spending Christmas with my family.”

Oh, crap, Taehyung thinks to himself. He didn’t mean to reveal he was from Daegu. Back in the day, it was very clear from what area he came because of his accent, but after so many years in Seoul it faded. Well, it wouldn’t hurt for them to know he’s from Daegu. It’s not that big of a detail, really.

“From Daegu?” Namjoon asks, eyes lighting up. “That’s where Yoongi is from! What a lovely coincidence.”

“Really?” Taehyung says. That actually makes him feel alarmed. He’s panicking in case this Yoongi guy somehow knows him. He can’t remember knowing anyone named Yoongi, so he hopes that Yoongi doesn’t know him either. Daegu is big enough for them not to know each other, at least. And judging by the fact that his parents were able to get him a clinic… They probably didn’t move in the same circles. “It really is. I look forward to meeting him sometime.”

“We must schedule a double date, then,” says Namjoon, nodding. Jeongguk rolls his eyes. “What?”

“That’s very old-fashioned, hyung,” Jeongguk says, taking a sip of his wine. “Plus, it makes it sound like we’re still in high school.”

“Baby, don’t be mean,” Taehyung replies, lightly touching Jeongguk’s forearm. “I think it’s a fantastic idea, Namjoon. We should totally do that at some point. Don’t listen to Jeongguk, he seems to be in a feisty mood today.”

Feisty being a euphemism for sour, really. It’s not like he’s straight up being rude, which he’s not. But Taehyung has noticed some shift in Jeongguk’s mood in comparison to the two other times they saw each other. For starters, he and Seokjin are bickering a lot more than last time, which Taehyung didn’t think was playful. It is nothing more than playful, of course, but Jeongguk seems less relaxed. And he also seemed a lot more serious when he got here, even if now he looks more at ease.

“Oh, he hasn’t told you?” Seokjin says, narrowing his eyes at Jeongguk and raising his eyebrows, almost in a—false—malicious gesture. “Our Jeonggukie here has been scolded by the boss today.”

“Oh—really?” asks Taehyung, suddenly amused. He wasn’t expecting for Jeongguk to get moody after being scolded by his boss, really, but it’s kind of cute. “How come?”

Now it’s Jeongguk who’s first to speak, interrupting Seokjin before he can even open his mouth. “Well, you know how my dad gets,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung holds back from his impulse to widen his eyes. Jeongguk’s boss is his dad? Well, that definitely explains how he climbed up to a big position in the firm at such a young age.

Taehyung laughs at that, feeling endeared. If the thought of Jeongguk being sulky about being scolded by his boss was adorable, the fact that his boss is his father makes it even better. Taehyung would understand why he would feel that way, though. It’s not the same when it’s your parent teaching you like that, especially if it’s in front of other people—Taehyung thinks that if it were him, he’d probably feel a bit upset, too.

“Oh, darling,” is all he says, letting his hand cover Jeongguk’s. He’s actually surprised when Jeongguk tangles their fingers together and gives them a squeeze but he does appreciate the effort.

He doesn’t want to say anymore because he has no clue of what Jeongguk’s relationship with his father is like, and he doesn’t want to blow their cover. They fall back into conversation easily but Taehyung doesn’t miss the way that Jeongguk plays with his fingers for a little longer even after the topic is forgotten.

Once they’re done eating and after the bill has been paid, the four of them go outside. It’s Seokjin who suggests, “I was thinking, we could go out for some drinks. It’s a Friday night, so there’s really no excuse for you to turn me down like last time.”

Namjoon chuckles softly at that. “You’re very right,” he says, nodding along. “I’m in. Jeongguk? Tae?”

“Just because this has been a hell of a week,” Jeongguk says. He then turns to look at Taehyung, lightly touching his hip as he asks, “What about you, babe? Will you be joining us?”

Taehyung is at loss for words. He doesn’t really know what to answer because he doesn’t know what Jeongguk wants him to do. He looks at him looking for an answer, but apparently they need to improve their wordless communication since he doesn’t really get anything.

“I don’t know…” he starts, sounding doubtful.

“Come on,” Jeongguk says, tilting his head a little. Taehyung can feel Namjoon and Seokjin look at them closely. They aren’t that big on the PDA, since they’re still in public, but they still act like a couple. They stand close together, invading each other’s personal space, and Jeongguk’s hand is still placed on Taehyung’s hip. “Come with us. It’ll be fun.”

Taehyung takes that as his signal, so he nods. “Okay,” he says. “Okay, I’ll go. But it better be fun like you promised,” he says, giving the three of them a look.

Namjoon laughs as Seokjin replies. “Of course it will. I know the perfect place, I’ll take you there—Namjoon, how about you text Yoongi? He should be out by now, so maybe he can join us tonight. Plus, that way Taeyong and he can meet.”

“That’s actually a great idea,” Namjoon says, nodding. “I can call him once we’re in the car and he can join us when we’re there. Does that sound good?”

“Sounds amazing,” says Jeongguk, nodding. “So, you two wait for us, and we’ll follow in my car. Where have you parked?”

Seokjin shows Jeongguk where his car is, and after that Namjoon and he leave and Jeongguk and Taehyung are left alone. Jeongguk starts walking before saying anything, and Taehyung follows in silence, making sure Namjoon and Seokjin are out of earshot before saying anything. Jeongguk is the first one to speak.

“I’m sorry if that caught you off guard,” he says, although he doesn’t really sound apologetic.

“Jeongguk, you really can’t do things like that,” Taehyung says, trying to scold as little as he can. Last thing he needs is for Jeongguk to get flashbacks of his father. “What if I had another client after this?”

“That’s why I asked,” Jeongguk says, reaching for his car keys in his pocket. “You could have said no if you were busy.”

“You keep putting me in compromising situations,” Taehyung says, shaking his head a little. He still smiles, and he’s sure Jeongguk hasn’t missed that detail.

“Well, to be fair, my time with you isn’t up. I still have—” he takes a look at his wristwatch. Another Rolex, this one different from the other. “One hour and seventeen minutes left with you. So I’m not putting you in any situation.”

Taehyung laughs at that. “God, you’re literally the worst.”

They quickly get to Jeongguk’s car after that. He happens to be a black Mercedes kind of guy, which doesn’t surprise Taehyung—elegant and fancy, but not too pompous and in your face. It matches Jeongguk and the way he carries himself quite accurately if you ask Taehyung.

The car is beautiful, but what Taehyung likes the most about it is how comfortable the seats are. He’s sure he could fall asleep in the car if the ride was long enough, so he makes sure to sit with his back straight.

Jeongguk starts the engine and soon enough they’re next to Seokjin, who takes the lead and starts driving.

The radio is set on a boring station, and so after asking Jeongguk for permission to change it, he starts meddling with it until he finds his favorite one.

“Jazz?” Jeongguk asks, sounding a little surprised.

“Yes, jazz,” Taehyung asks, stealing a look at Jeongguk, who’s looking ahead as he drives. He makes sure his tone is playful before he adds, “You sound shocked. Do I not look like a jazz fan?”

“Not a lot of people listen to jazz nowadays, that’s all,” Jeongguk replies. “Especially not younger people.”

“My dad loves jazz music, that’s where I got my love for it from,” Taehyung confesses. He knows he’s being a little too honest with Jeongguk, but as long as it’s little details like this one, he knows he’s good. “I used to play saxophone when I was younger.”

“Really?” asks Jeongguk, smiling a little. Taehyung hums in confirmation. “That’s amazing, Tae. You don’t play it anymore?”

“Not really, no,” Taehyung confesses. “It makes me a little sad but my sax is back in Daegu. I still play when I go home, which is rarely. It’s not like I have completely forgotten, obviously, but I’ve definitely gotten worse.”

“You should get back into it, then,” Jeongguk says. “Bring your sax back from Daegu. You’re going tomorrow, right? If it makes you sad to not play anymore, start again.”

Taehyung laughs, dismissing Jeongguk’s comment. “Nah, it’s alright,” he says. “My neighbors would kill me if I did. Sometimes you need to let go of certain things, even if they made you happy at one point.”

Jeongguk just hums at that, and they fall in silence for the rest of the ride. It’s not uncomfortable, though—Taehyung loves car rides at night through Seoul, when he can see all the lights, especially if he has some nice music playing in the background. And Jeongguk has proven to be appreciative of the stillness so they’re good.

They don’t take long to get to the place, and once they’ve parked, Seokjin guides them inside. Turns out it’s a lounge bar he has taken them too, as lavish as all the other ones Taehyung has been to. This one is very dark, though—most of the light comes from the bar area which is set with a blue backdrop. There are small lamps by each one of the tables, but they’re not bright enough to break the atmosphere.

They pick a low table surrounded by three armchairs, that Seokjin declares as perfect for them tonight. Taehyung gets what he means, though. Namjoon and Seokjin pick one armchair each, and Taehyung sit side by side on the other one. Once Namjoon’s boyfriend arrives he’ll sit by Namjoon’s side and then, as Seokjin said himself, his amazing night of third-wheeling will start.

A waiter soon comes to take their orders. Namjoon asks for Gin and Martine and Taehyung asks for a Cosmopolitan. Since they brought cars, Seokjin and Jeongguk have to drive, and so they order beers. Taehyung wrinkles his nose in distaste.

“Don’t fancy a beer, huh?” Seokjin asks once the waiter is gone, tilting his head a little.

“I don’t mean to offend but whoever enjoys beer doesn’t have functional taste buds,” Taehyung says with the straightest face he can manage. Namjoon laughs from where he’s sat across from him. “Either that or deep hatred for oneself.”

“Ruthless,” Namjoon comments, sitting back. “I like it.”

“So do I,” replies Jeongguk, shifting a little closer to Taehyung. “Even if that was sort of targeted at me.”

“It was fully targeted at you,” Taehyung replies, playful. “Please, don’t kiss me after you’ve drank beer. You still have time to change your order.”

Jeongguk laughs then, his smile displaying his long teeth. “You really are unbelievable, babe.”

Yoongi arrives before their drinks do. Taehyung didn’t know what he was expecting, maybe someone on the tall and intimidating side like Seokjin and Namjoon are (Jeongguk, not so much). Yoongi happens to be a man of around Jimin’s height with black hair and a button nose, and Taehyung is sure he could fit him in his pocket.

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Taehyung says, standing up so he can bow to Yoongi. “Namjoon has spoken a lot of you—all good things, needless to say.”

“Of course he has,” Yoongi replies with a smile, sitting next to Namjoon and greeting him with a chaste kiss to the lips. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you, too. I can’t believe Jeongguk has a boyfriend, it’s about time.”

Taehyung laughs at that, stealing a glance at Jeongguk. “I know, right?” he asks. “What would he be without me.”

He wasn’t expecting anyone to reply to that, but Seokjin says, “He’d still be the same lonely guy he’s been for as long as I’ve known him. You’re a terrible twenty-three-year-old, man.”

Their drinks don’t take too long to arrive after that. Before the waiter leaves again, Yoongi orders a Scotch on the rocks.

“Didn’t you bring the car?” Namjoon asks, sending a worried glance to his boyfriend.

“You invite me to join you for drinks and expect me to bring the car? I’m starting to think you just wanted a chauffeur, babe,” Yoongi says, teasing. “I took a cab.”

“Well, Seokjin was the one to suggest we go out for drinks and he took his car,” Jeongguk intervenes, nodding in the direction of Seokjin and his beer.

“Said the other man who’s having beer,” Taehyung points out, making the rest of them laugh.

Being out during dinner and being out during drinks are two entirely different things, Taehyung knows that. During dinner, all Taehyung could do to pose as Jeongguk’s boyfriend was using his word and fleeting touches over the table. But now it’s time to get cozier, and Jeongguk seems to be in agreement since he’s the first one to place his hand on Taehyung’s knee.

After that, they just get closer. The end up with their bodies angled towards each other, Taehyung’s thigh lightly resting over one of Jeongguk’s and their intertwined ones on top. They’re so close that Taehyung can smell Jeongguk’s cologne, even if after a few hours it has started to wear out.

Taehyung isn’t surprised by how well he feels himself fit into Jeongguk’s circle of friends. They make him feel welcome despite him being a stranger, and he actually has a good time and laughs a lot with them. If he was already finding himself be comfortable around Seokjin and Namjoon, Yoongi’s quick and dry humor just adds to it, making Taehyung feel like the five of them have known each other for ages.

It’s also very touching to see Namjoon and Yoongi together. They clearly have been together for so long, and it shows in how well they know each other and how in sync they are. It’s not necessarily a matter of finishing each other’s sentences, like songs and romcoms make it out to be. Rather than that, they just seem to be on the same wavelength.

Taehyung wonders if he’ll ever have the same with someone.

“So—Namjoon, Yoongi,” he starts, “how long have you been together for?”

“For ages,” Namjoon says, leaving his glass on the table. “We’ve been together since college.”

“I was twenty, he was nineteen,” Yoongi says. “And now he’s twenty-six and I’m twenty-seven, so…”

“Wow, that really is long,” Taehyung says. He’s not drunk, not even tipsy. Just a little more honest than usual. “It just makes me very happy to see you together. You seem very in love.”

“And we are,” Yoongi says, turning his head a little so he can look at Namjoon. “Aren’t we?”

“We are,” Namjoon says with a soft smile, pecking Yoongi’s mouth lightly. “Of course we are.”

“I made them promise they’ll make me their groomsmaid since Seokjin here asked to be the best man,” Jeongguk says, unable to contain a smile. “They’ll find me the prettiest dress, won’t you, hyungs?”

“We’re already looking for one,” quickly replies Yoongi, taking a sip of his whiskey. “We want to make your waist stand out but we’re struggling with the color.”

“Reds and blues are his colors,” Taehyung jumps in, turning around a little to look at Jeongguk. When he hears him speak, Jeongguk turns around to look at him as well, so they’re looking at each other and very, very close, now. “Rich reds and deep blues. Although I lean more towards reds, if I’m honest.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, and Taehyung can’t help but think of his conversation with Jimin the other day, when they talked about Jeongguk. Jimin suggested Taehyung should kiss him, and even if Taehyung hadn’t considered any of that before, ever since then it’s been on his mind. Especially now, when the short space between them could be so easily closed.

Of course, Taehyung is not going to do anything without getting explicit permission from Jeongguk. But his mind is back to wandering around dangerous territory.

“See? Told you he’s a stylist,” he hears Namjoon say. Even if he’d very much love to keep staring into Jeongguk’s eyes for a good five minutes, Taehyung is aware they’re talking about him so he turns around and offers him a smile. “There we go—the dilemma is over. Now we just need to organize our big wedding in some other country.”

Even if it might seem like the moment between the two of them is broken after that, Taehyung begs to differ. Jeongguk and he get impossibly closer after that, and one of Jeongguk’s hands move to his thigh. Not high enough for it to be scandalous but not too low to seem casual. There’s intent behind it, and Taehyung isn’t blind to that.

It’s not too long before Jeongguk himself asks, “Does anyone want to go to the balcony for a smoke?”

Namjoon looks like he’s about to reply, but then Yoongi looks at him and says, “Don’t you dare.” Namjoon looks like he’s about to pout, so Yoongi adds. “You said you were quitting!”

“I quit when you’re around,” Namjoon jokes, making Yoongi roll his eyes.

“Well, I’m around now, so,” he says, clasping his hands together. “You’ll be grateful someday.”

“Maybe,” Namjoon says.

Taehyung sends a fond smile their way, before saying, “I’m going.” He turns to look at Seokjin and asks, “And you, Seokjin?”

“I think I’ll pass,” Seokjin says. “If I have to third-wheel, I might as well just do it while warm.”

Jeongguk laughs at the comment, shaking his head a little as both of them stand up and put on their coats. It’ll just be a minute but it’s December and it’s a cold winter. Once they’re on the balcony he can see Namjoon, Yoongi and Seokjin not so subtly looking at them, so with a laugh he takes Jeongguk’s elbow in his hand and guides him to the part of the balcony that can’t be seen from inside. They’re alone out there, and for some reason Taehyung is happy about that.

“They’re going to be upset you did that,” Jeongguk says, leaning against the wall. “I can see them being capable of coming out here just to creep.”

“Come on, that’s an exaggeration,” laughs Taehyung. “I’ve seen creepier.”

“Oh, I am sure you have,” says Jeongguk, making Taehyung laugh cheerfully.

Taehyung just wiggles his eyebrows at Jeongguk, not saying anything as he leans back against the wall adjacent to the one Jeongguk is resting against. He lets himself look at the skyline from the balcony. He’s not familiar with the part of Seoul they’re in right now but it’s still stunning.

“You know,” Jeongguk starts then, breaking the silence. Neither of them has gotten a cigarette out yet, Taehyung notices. “There’s something you said back there that I’m still thinking about.”

“What was it?” Taehyung asks, cocking his head in curiosity.

“Well,” Jeongguk starts. “You asked me not to kiss you after I’ve drank beer,” he ends up saying.

“Oh?” Taehyung says, the corners of his mouth quirking up in a small smile. “And how come you’ve been thinking about that?”

“Well, you see,” Jeongguk says, standing back up so he can get a little closer to Taehyung. It’s almost imperceptible, barely there, but Taehyung still notices. “I might have an interest in kissing you.”

“That’s too bad,” says Taehyung. With him leaning back against the wall it seems like Jeongguk is taller than him, so he looks up to meet his eyes. “You did drink that beer, after all.”

Jeongguk gets a little bit closer, tentatively reaching out and touching Taehyung’s cheek. It’s not the first time they’ve touch, but it still sends chills down Taehyung’s spine. There’s something incredibly magical about moments like this, even if they’re with someone who’s more of an acquaintance than anything else. The tension of the moments previous to kissing someone for the first time, and how it all bursts and climaxes when the kiss finally arrives. Taehyung loves the knot he feels in his throat.

“Please,” Jeongguk whispers. When he notices Taehyung doesn’t push him away or slows him down in any way, Jeongguk gets a little closer. “Just one kiss.”

“Just one,” Taehyung repeats in a murmur, tilting his head up a little as Jeongguk’s fingertips waltz down to his neck. “Since you said please.”

Jeongguk is the one that ducks his head down and brings their lips together, taking advantage of being momentarily taller than Taehyung. Taehyung doesn’t feel electricity, or fireworks, or anything mind-blowing. But his lips do tingle under Jeongguk’s, and he needs to remind himself of how to breathe.

It’s chaste since they’re still on the balcony of a bar. Jeongguk’s hand never goes lower than Taehyung’s neck and Taehyung just grips lightly at Jeongguk’s forearms, wanting to touch. Jeongguk’s lips are soft and pillowy, and although he can taste remains of the beer in his mouth, it doesn’t particularly bother Taehyung. He also tastes like cherry candy which Taehyung is very surprised about.

It’s slow, Jeongguk’s lips unhurriedly sliding against Taehyung in a deep kiss. Taehyung exhales deeply through his nose and tilts his head further, parting his lips for Jeongguk’s tongue to curl with his. Taehyung’s toes curl in his shoes at the feeling, his grip on Jeongguk’s arm tightening a little bit.

It’s then that he decides to stop himself, before he gets too into it to do so. When Taehyung pulls back he instinctively runs his tongue over his lips, still wet from the kiss. Jeongguk is looking straight into his eyes and they’re still close when Taehyung says, in a playful tone, “I might have to charge you extra for that.”

At that, Jeongguk laughs, throwing his head back as his eyes crinkle. “God, Tae. You truly are something else.”

 

 

The day Taehyung leaves for Daegu is, funnily enough, the brightest day in Seoul in the last couple of months, since the cold, the rain and the snow started. The sun filters through the window of the bedroom he shared with Jimin, making it almost impossible for him to willingly get out of bed and start preparations.

His train doesn’t leave until noon and he only needs to pack for two days so he lets himself slack in bed for a little. He deserves it, after all. These are his holidays, aren’t they?

But sadly enough, he can’t stay in bed forever. The time for him to abandon the warmth of it comes, and he leaves for the bathroom trying to make as little noise as possible in order to not wake Jimin up. They are more than used to this sleeping arrangement by now—it has turned both of them into heavy sleepers.

He’s slightly more awake after his shower, much more after the breakfast, but not any more ready to leave Seoul. When he goes back into the bedroom Jimin is already awake but still sleepy, his hair a mess as he scrolls down his phone.

“You look like a chick,” he comments, taking in Jimin’s disheveled blonde hair.

“I will choose to take that as a compliment,” Jimin replies, voice still lower than usual because of sleep. “So thank you..”

Taehyung laughs, shaking his head and walking towards his wardrobe so he can get dressed. Another one of the reasons why he’s not very enthusiastic about the trip is because he doesn’t want to leave Jimin alone during the holidays. Unlike Taehyung’s parents, Jimin’s aren’t oblivious to the reality of Jimin’s job. And when they found out, they gave him an ultimatum. The don’t come into our house again until you’ve stopped that kind of ultimatum.

Taehyung had invited Jimin over to spend Christmas alongside him and his family, but he declined the offer. Besides, it’d be easier for something to slip to his family if he did, so Jimin decided not to risk it.

Maybe if he had Jimin with him he’d feel a little more enthusiastic about going, but while he’s in the taxi to the station after saying bye to Jimin, Taehyung realizes how much he dreads this. He really, really doesn’t want to go.

Don’t get him wrong, Taehyung loves his family more than anything else in the world—well, maybe except for Jimin. He cares for them and wants to see them, but he can’t help but feel awful for everything he hides from them. He loves them but he doesn’t think that the person he really is, without all the lies he has told them, is worthy of their love.

Ahead of him, he has two days of lying to his family incessantly and feeling guilty. He has two days of longing for something different that he’s never going have, of wishing that none of his siblings has to turn to this when they’re older. It’s going to be a rough couple of days.

He can’t wait for the moment he’s back on the train, this time heading to Seoul.

 

 

Having ice-cream in late December might not be the smartest decision Taehyung has ever made, but he’s the birthday boy, and this is his craving right now. Birthdays are not made for smart decisions, but for silly ones that make people happy.

Which is how Taehyung and Jimin have found themselves in an ice-cream parlor on December. 30th. There have been warmer, more appropriate days for ice-cream, that much is true. But Taehyung thinks that a birthday without ice-cream is a sad birthday, and he doesn’t want any more of those.

They have this tradition on both of their birthdays, where neither of them takes clients and they spend the whole day together. It started as soon as they started working independently and were able to decide when or not to work, when Jimin was upset after a bad fight with his parents on his birthday.

Plus, they’re their own bosses now. They would be foolish to not take advantage of it and keep dates that are special for them clear. Taehyung would rather work on Christmas and have Jimin’s birthday free because to him it holds important significance. Christmas? Not so much.

“My throat is going to kill me for doing this,” Jimin giggles as he bites into his mango ice-cream. Taehyung shivers.

“Your teeth will kill you for doing that,” Taehyung says. He’s not as adventurous with his ice-cream as Jimin—he got a strawberry cone, and is lapping at it. Like a normal person with sensitive teeth.

“My teeth are just fine,” Jimin replies, shaking his head a little. Jimin looks around himself, and Taehyung can read his thoughts—this is not the kind of place they’re used to seeing. Not only because they don’t go out much on their own, since most of their free time is spent at home because their job requires for them to go out a lot. But also because this is standard, this is normal—it’s not annoyingly lavish, or expensive. It’s been a while since they’ve been somewhere like this. “This is nice.”

“Oddly enough, yes,” Taehyung replies, resting his chin on his palm. “When I had no money and came to places like this I always dreamed of going to restaurants or bars like the ones we go to. But now I’ve come to miss places like this. It’s odd, isn’t it?”

“That’s how humans work, isn’t it?” Jimin asks, sighing. “Always wanting what we can’t have.”

Taehyung nods, slowly. Right now, he doesn’t know what he wants. He’s pretty content. His sour mood days are over now that he’s back from Daegu and won’t have to go back for a while, so he’s feeling more cheerful. In the long run, he wants to make enough so he can retire as an escort and find another job. But as of now? He’s quite well if you ask him.

As much as Taehyung and Jimin try to stay away from everything work-related on days like this, the topic eventually is brought up. Jimin is the one who asks, “New Year’s Eve is tomorrow. Are you busy?”

“I have a lot of requests, I need to go through all of them and decide what works best,” Taehyung says with a sigh. “Plus, Jeongguk messaged yesterday and asked to meet today, but I told him I couldn’t because I was taking the day off for my birthday, so I wonder if he’ll ask for tomorrow or if he already has plans. How’s your day looking?”

“I’m trying and failing to organize myself. I’ve already confirmed a party for the night, but the rest of the day is clear. I also have a shit ton of requests so I’m going to have to decline them,” Jimin replies. New Year’s Eve is always stressful—lots of notifications from the app, but all of them for the same hour. At least people pay higher. “Jeongguk, huh?”

“There’s nothing to huh over,” Taehyung says, Jimin giving him a look. “What?”

“Are you sure there is nothing to huh over?” Jimin asks. When Taehyung raises his eyebrows, Jimin makes a kissy face.

Taehyung had told him about the kiss and Jimin had made a bigger deal out of it than it was. They’re escorts, after all. They kiss a lot of people, and much more. Besides, the kiss didn’t mean a thing. They were just having a nice evening and being affectionate. It just physically felt good to kiss Jeongguk, nothing else.

“Absolutely,” Taehyung says, biting at the wafer of his cone. And because today he allows himself to not have manners and speak while he chews, he adds, “I wouldn’t fall for a client, Jimin.”

Jimin laughs at that. “I know you wouldn’t, Tae, I’m just teasing,” he says. “I’m going to need a picture of him if he doesn’t come by the apartment at some point. You’ve gone out with him a lot already and I’m starting to get curious.”

“Only three dates!” Taehyung points out. He does get Jimin’s point, though—three times is not a lot, but if they’ve already asked for three appointments, odds are that they’ll ask for more. Taehyung wonders if Jeongguk will end up becoming a regular.

“Oh, but babe,” Jimin says then, the corner of his mouth lifting up into a small smile. “That’s the magic number, you know that.”

Chapter Text

Taehyung doesn’t see Jeongguk on New Year’s Eve, but he does meet with him a few days after. The rush of the holidays is already coming to an end and all the Christmas decorations and lights are starting to come down, which makes Taehyung sort of sad. As indifferent as he is to Christmas, he likes how Seoul looks during this time of the year.

He’s in the car with Jeongguk now. He’s being pretty mysterious about where they’re going—he just told Taehyung to meet up with him somewhere and that he would drive them to wherever it is they’re going, no dress code included. Still, because of how he’s seen Jeongguk and his friends dress, he still goes for a shirt paired with some wide dress pants.

“You should tell me where we’re going now,” Taehyung whines, turning a little in his seat. He’s taken control of the radio again, switching it to a pop station today.

“I told you it’s a surprise,” Jeongguk says, stealing a glance at him.

Taehyung huffs. Having reached this point, he trusts Jeongguk enough to drive in a car with him, even if he doesn’t really know where he’s going. But a part of him can’t help but think hey, he might murder you tonight. After all, he doesn’t know Jeongguk that well. It wouldn’t be too crazy.

He doesn’t know what to make out of the fact that Jeongguk drives him to his house, a penthouse in a building that towers over the Seoul night sky. Taehyung sends a quick text to Jimin and sends him the location—you can never be too cautious, that’s the philosophy he took on after he started working as an escort.

Taehyung didn’t know what he was expecting from Jeongguk’s place. Maybe something more minimalistic, black and white, like his wardrobe. But his place turns out to be surprisingly cozy—at least from what he can see of the living room. The walls are a cream color, matching the rich brown couches. One of the walls is streamlined in windows, allowing them to see the skyline.

“That’s quite the sight you’ve got there,” Taehyung says, turning around to look at Jeongguk, who was turning the light on.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Jeongguk asks, a smile appearing on his face. “Here—give me your coat.”

While Jeongguk hangs their coats, Taehyung lets himself wander around Jeongguk’s living room. It almost looks like a picture in a magazine—the big TV screen hanging from the wall, the flowers on top of the coffee table, the immaculate decoration and the fact that nothing is out of place. It doesn’t even look lived in. There are no pictures, no personal touches. It’s beautiful and luxurious, and the view truly is stunning, but it doesn’t really feel like a home.

“You’ve got yourself quite the place,” Taehyung says, turning to face Jeongguk once he approaches. “It looks straight out of a magazine.”

“You like it?” Jeongguk asks, smiling at Taehyung. “My parents hired someone to decorate it for me when I bought it. I don’t really have an eye for these things, but…”

Taehyung nods. It’s easy to spot the work of a professional decorator, especially after dedicating four years of his life to the study of interiors design. Something about it makes Taehyung feel oddly bitter, but he shakes the feeling away.

“Why are we here, anyway?” he asks. It’s a little before dinner and he can smell food, so Taehyung has an idea. Jeongguk probably prepared something—or had someone prepare it for him, who knows—before picking him up.

“I thought we could have dinner here tonight,” Jeongguk replies. “But I wanted to do something else first.”

“And what would that be?” Taehyung asks, tilting his head a little.

Jeongguk laughs. “Someone’s in a rush, huh?” he asks

“I’m just curious,” Taehyung says, smiling a little. “You’re being very cryptic tonight, I can’t help but be intrigued.”

 “Let me get the wine out before anything, then,” he says, disappearing towards what Taehyung assumes is the kitchen.  “Sit down, please,” he calls out from the other room.

Taehyung does so, choosing to sit down on the couch opposite the TV and the door. He doesn’t allow himself to relax just yet, still looking around himself with curious eyes. Jeongguk comes back soon, two glasses in one hand and a bottle of red wine in the other.

“Cabernet?” Taehyung asks, raising an eyebrow as he sees Jeongguk approach.

“I know you’re used to fancy thing so I’m trying my best here,” Jeongguk says with a smile as he settles the glasses and the bottle in front of him on the coffee table. “Would you do the honors?”

“I’m the guest here,” Taehyung says, leaning back against the couch as he watches Jeongguk take a seat next to him. “Plus, I want to see how good you are at this.”

Jeongguk laughs, humored. “Not too good, I must say,” he confesses. “But at least I can get it open, so…”

Taehyung smiles at him, nodding towards the bottle and signaling for Jeongguk to get to it. He probably shouldn’t be telling his client what to do, considering he’s the one who’s getting paid but Jeongguk doesn’t seem annoyed by it. When he’s with Jeongguk, more traces of his real personality appear, and he allows himself to be a little less pliant and a little more vivid.

Jeongguk fills their glasses before leaving the bottle on the table again, both of them taking their glasses in their hands. Jeongguk is about to drink but Taehyung stops him by saying, “Wait, wait. We should make a toast.”

“A toast?” Jeongguk asks, frowning a little as a smile appears on his face. “A toast to what?”

“To ourselves. To the new year. To Adultwork,” Taehyung says, the last one making Jeongguk laugh. “Doesn’t that sound good?”

“Sounds amazing,” Jeongguk replies, smiling a little as he looks at Taehyung. “To us, then. To the new year, and to Adultwork.”

Taehyung giggles, saying, “Cheers,” as he clinks their glasses together.

They fall into conversation easily after that. Jeongguk asks how the new year has been for him so far, and Taehyung is relieved he can be honest with someone else apart from Jimin. When Taehyung asks him the same, he confirms what he already knew—Jeongguk’s life is much more boring than his. He may be rolling in the lavish life, but his day-to-day is mundane, and stays routinely.

Their glasses are almost empty when Taehyung asks, “What is that something you wanted to do before dinner?”

“God, you’re so impatient,” Jeongguk says with a chuckle. “This might—this might be a little awkward.”

Taehyung frowns, suddenly feeling a little alarmed. “Awkward why?” he asks.

“It’s nothing bad, I promise,” Jeongguk reassures. He then reaches towards the coffee table and opens the small drawer to it, pulling a box out of it. Taehyung’s eyes widen. “Happy birthday, Tae.”

The box is a red so, so dark it almost looks like blood. Around it there’s a silver ribbon perfectly tied, making Taehyung feel almost sad that he has to undo it. Taehyung is speechless—he’s more than used to receiving gifts from clients but what surprises him is that it’s from Jeongguk. Jeongguk, who doesn’t live in a fantasy world where they’re dating. Jeongguk, who is more than aware of the reality of their situation, and the reality of Taehyung’s job.

“You—you got me a gift?” he asks, looking up at Jeongguk. He still can’t wrap his mind around it, really.

“I did. I hope it’s not inappropriate of me, but since you mentioned it was your birthday the other day I thought it’d be a nice detail,” Jeongguk explains. “Come on, open it. If you don’t like it, you can return it.”

“I’m sure I’ll like it,” Taehyung says. “Oh, my God. I’m so excited. I love gifts so much.”

The box is velvety to the touch, and the feeling of it makes Taehyung smile as he pulls at the ribbon and undoes it. He doesn’t know what to expect, so there’s an odd feeling of excitement in his chest as he lifts the lid of the box, revealing what’s inside.

There, on top of a cream-colored cushion, is a keychain. Taehyung recognizes it, even if Jeongguk has taken it out of its original box and placed it in one he chose himself—it’s a gold Gucci keychain that he's been eyeing for a while. The keychain is the outline of a bee, and it's even more stunning in person.

He doesn’t know what to say. It’s not the first time he’s been gifted something beautiful and expensive, but he doesn’t want to act all coy with Jeongguk now. The thing with Jeongguk is that they act differently around each other than from how Taehyung is with every other client, so he’s a little lost right now. He's used to lapping up these sorts of surprises, and reacting coyly while looking completely shocked and dazzled.

“It’s gorgeous, Jeongguk,” he says, gaze shifting between Jeongguk and the keychain. “Thank you so much. I can’t believe you got this for me.”

“It’s just a small detail,” Jeongguk replies. “You said it was your birthday, so…”

“Still—you didn’t have to, and yet you did,” Taehyung says. “Thank you so, so much. I mean it.”

Jeongguk smiles at him. He doesn’t say anything, but Taehyung can see the satisfaction written all over his face. When he speaks, what he says is, “Shall we have dinner, then?”

Taehyung nods, smiling, and both of them stand up as Taehyung leaves the box on the coffee table. He wonders what other secrets Jeongguk has in store for him. As of now, he’ll just let himself enjoy their evening together.

 

 

“I cannot believe he got you a Gucci keychain for your birthday,” says Jimin for the nth time since Taehyung got home. “A Gucci keychain! That’s some sugar daddy material right here.”

“Jimin!” Taehyung exclaims, making Jimin move his eyes from Taehyung’s keys to him “He’s not a sugar daddy. It was just a small birthday gift,” Taehyung clarifies.

“A fancy, small ass birthday gift,” Jimin says, taking it in his hands and looking at it. “It says Gucci around four times. It reminds me of the Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs tag,” he comments.

“In collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs?” Taehyung asks, making Jimin laugh.

“I’m glad you know your memes,” Jimin says then. “But for real—that’s such a nice gesture of him. I bet he’s about to ask for sex.”

“I highly doubt it,” Taehyung says. “I feel like he would have already asked if he was interested. Plus, you haven’t—”

“Shush, don’t start that again,” Jimin says. “It’s not like we don’t ever get hot clients looking for sex. Attractive people hire escorts too and you know it.”

“But that’s because they have literally no appreciation for their money, and they just want a quick fuck and someone who will put up with all their weird fetishes,” Taehyung says. “And you know that is right, too.”

They change the topic after that, but Jimin’s words linger in Taehyung’s mind even after they both have gotten in bed, Jimin sleeping soundly by his side.

There are several groups of clients, Taehyung has learned over his years as an escort. The first one, and probably the biggest group that both Jimin and Taehyung deal with, is older closeted men who want to have sex with younger men. They have wives, they have children, they have families. Taehyung feels bad, because he’s aware of the kind of society he lives in, and of how taboo it would have been to come out for those means. But at the same time, he’s unable to feel any sympathy for cheaters. Some of them just look for sex, other insists on going out—always to private places—perhaps to test what the boyfriend experience would have been like.

The second group is the lonely men. They’re usually older as well, never younger than thirty. They have that same air of boredom with life that Taehyung gets from Jeongguk sometimes, except Jeongguk is still twenty-three. Taehyung actually feels pity for them—some of them have given way too much time to their job, others just aren’t too good with people. Some are divorced, some have been single for ages. But they actually look very sad and very gray, so Taehyung is glad he can make them at least a bit happier.

And then, there are the young ones. This group is more… well, it’s a mixture of several groups, but all of them have one thing in common—their young age. They’re in their twenties, most of them arrogant in that way that spoiled rich kids usually are. Some of them are closeted athletes that need a release every once in a while. Others are just rich kids who want to test their kinks, and who better than a sex worker, right? Of course, Taehyung never lets them do anything he hasn’t agreed to previously.

Every once in a while he gets someone like Jeongguk, someone who needs an escort for a date or two. But the thing with Jeongguk is that it’s getting recurrent, and that hasn’t happened to Taehyung nor Jimin before. And Taehyung must admit, if Jeongguk suddenly asked him to meet to have sex, he would be shocked. Because Jeongguk doesn’t really fit in any of the groups that Taehyung has been putting people in—he has never met anyone quite like him, and he’s been doing this for three years. He’s met hundreds of men, maybe even thousands.

It might seem dehumanizing to put people into groups instead of treating them as individuals, but that’s the only way Taehyung can cope. He can’t get invested in all of his clients, can’t feel anything that exceeds pure sympathy, because that’s how things get ruined. The secret to escorting and not getting emotionally consumed by it is simple—detach yourself from it. Detach yourself from the sex, detach yourself from the people.

It’s been ages since Taehyung has been on a proper date or has had proper sex. What he does now doesn’t count to him, because it doesn’t make him feel the same way that the real thing does. Taehyung doesn’t care for all those people, so why would he be excited about going out with them? Why would sex with them have to mean anything at all?

Taehyung sighs. The closest he has felt to that feeling, to the feeling of going out on a date with someone he likes, was kissing Jeongguk, and it was still far from it. Just because Jeongguk doesn’t fit in any of the categories that Taehyung knows, doesn’t make him special, Taehyung reminds himself. Jeongguk is paying for his services. If they’re affectionate, it's because his friends are in front of them. If they kissed, it was just because they had been touchy all night and it was the natural step to take. He doesn’t let himself think anything of it, or the gift Jeongguk got him.

He knows that sometimes going out with people can make them feel like this. It wouldn’t be the first time that a client has changed his mind about having sex or not after a date, because that’s what dates do—make people like each other more; make Taehyung’s clients like him more.

So what if they kissed? Taehyung’s job was to act like he and Jeongguk were together, so it was not surprising that Jeongguk wanted to kiss him. So what if some day Jeongguk decides he wants to fuck? It’s not that big of a deal, Taehyung tells himself.

After all, Jeongguk is just one more suited guy out of all of Taehyung’s clients.

 

 

Rich men have weird, stupid requests sometimes. They have stupid things that they’re into, whims that they want Taehyung to comply to, like stupid black lace teddies. And really, Taehyung wishes he could just message them and tell them to fuck off and bring the fucking teddy, the lingerie, the stockings, the heels, thongs or whatever it is that they require if they want him in them so badly, joined by his size.

But with 750,000 won on the line, Taehyung has learned how to be more docile. More pliant.

Still, he’s very much in a sour mood after having spent his whole morning looking for the damned teddy. His client is about to arrive so he knows he’ll have to switch the mood off as soon as he hears the buzzer, but still. He’ll give himself a few more minutes to choke on his own bitterness.

Despite how much of a pain in the ass it was to find one that would fit his male body, Taehyung’s very much in love with the teddy he chose. His pecs and nipples are covered by the lace, decorated with a flower pattern, but the rest of his chest is exposed by a low cut that somehow still flatters his male form. The flowery pattern continues in those areas all the way to the end of the teddy and on the back, but in between them, all over his belly button and his crotch, there’s mesh fabric that reminds Taehyung of fishnets. At least the crotch area is completely opaque. Plus, the borders of the chest area are decorated with lace imitating feathers.

Taehyung doesn’t really understand what the idea behind this teddy is, but at least it looks good. The only downside is that it’s a little too tight around his dick and balls, tucked between his legs, but that’s something he has grown used to, as well as something to be expected from lingerie made for the typical female body.

“It’s so beautiful,” Jimin comments from where he’s lying on the bed, eating some Pringles. Taehyung is tempted to steal some, but he guesses eating sour cream and onion Pringles before meeting with a client is not… the smartest decision ever.

“I thought so, too,” he comments, turning around to see himself in the mirror. His ass looks round and perky in it, so he must admit the teddy is flattering for his body. “I really hope he’s not planning on going all macho and ripping it. I actually really like this one.”

“Aw, babe,” Jimin says, giving him a sympathetic look. “I hate when they do that. If he does we can get you another one, though. One you’re prohibited from wearing with clients.

“And then when will I wear it?” Taehyung asks. “It’s not like I’m willingly getting laid, so…”

“I’m sure you could wear it as a top—isn’t that a thing people do, right?” Jimin asks. “It’s okay if it’s see-through, no one’s going to be scandalized by your nipples.”

Taehyung laughs lightheartedly at that, shaking his head a little. “You’re truly terrible.”

“Yet you love me.”

The client doesn’t take long to arrive after that, and once he’s answered the buzzer for him, Taehyung looks around for the black silk robe and heels he put aside earlier, ready to be used. He’s about to leave the bedroom when he holds the end of his robe and flips it as if it were a cape in a dramatic gesture.

“Let the show begin.”

 

 

Taehyung is tired. The guy from the teddy has just left—luckily, leaving the piece of lingerie intact—and Taehyung truly feels like a truck has just run him over. Not only has he wasted his whole morning away looking for that stupid romper when he could have seen other clients, but he also got a muscle cramp during sex.

Taehyung is convinced that it’s one of those cursed days where, no matter what one does, everything is going to go wrong. He feels like he should have stayed in bed all day, really—that way he wouldn’t feel exhausted, he wouldn’t have one more piece of lingerie that he’s not going to use again, and his glute wouldn’t have decided to fuck him up while he was working.

Maybe he’s just being awfully negative about things, but he can’t help it. Not today.

As if all that weren’t enough, his day is not over yet. He has an appointment with Jeongguk, who is taking him out again tonight. This time it’s to a sushi bar that Taehyung has never gone to, which initially had excited him. Not only because this will be his first time at the place, but he’s more used to swanky restaurants. A sushi bar is something different, and he hasn't yet had the chance to go to a place like this with Jeongguk. Plus, sushi is one of his life’s downfalls.

This was also the first time that Jeongguk had messaged him using a friendly tone, not a dry business one. He had told him that he booked a private room for both of them, with a big window showing the city’s skyline. Remembering that actually makes Taehyung want to go again.

Not that he has a choice, anyway. He’s tired, yes, but he’s also professional. He has an agreement with Jeongguk, who now had the decency to book ahead ever since Taehyung brought it to his attention, and he’s going to provide the best service possible. As usual.

So he reluctantly gets out of his bed, where he has been resting for the last thirty minutes. He’ll have to get ready faster than usual today, but that half an hour of rest was totally worth it, if you ask him.

He looks in the mirror, noticing the accidental frown on his face and the way his bottom lip pouts out a little. He better get rid of those before it’s time to go—no one likes a sulky date, and Taehyung is sure that Jeongguk will be no exception.

Taehyung sighs. He forgot to tell Jimin that he’s going out tonight, and right now he’s in the other room with a client, but hopefully he’ll be done by the time Taehyung is showering. But right now, he doesn’t have the time to worry about that. He has a date to get ready for.

 

 

Taehyung snaps out of his daze when he notices Jeongguk talking, turning his head to look at him.

“Excuse me?” he says. He wasn’t focusing earlier, so he didn’t really understand what Jeongguk was saying to him.

They have already eaten, and are now just enjoying the quietness and tranquility that the private room offers them. He's glad they're not rushing the evening since, as of right now, he doesn’t feel quite ready to stand up. His tummy is so full, which is nice—that’s how much he likes sushi. An unconditional love that leads him to that uncomfortable feeling of being bloated. It was worth it, though.

“I said,” Jeongguk starts. “You seem to like views like this a lot. You’re always so mesmerized when we go somewhere high.”

“You’ve noticed?” Taehyung asks, burying his face in his palms when Jeongguk nods. He groans, “Ugh, this is embarrassing.”

“How would it be embarrassing?” Jeongguk asks, sounding confused. Still, Taehyung doesn’t remove his palms from his eyes to look at Jeongguk. He feels like an ostrich—if he can’t see Jeongguk, then Jeongguk can’t see him either, right?

“Because you see me stare out of windows like a nerd,” Taehyung says. He’s aware of the odd fascination he has, just like he’s aware of the fact that he always ends up starting.

“I find it endearing,” Jeongguk replies. Taehyung looks at him with a frown. Taehyung is the one who finds Jeongguk endearing, not the other way around. “I don’t think it’s nerdy. And even if it was, there’s nothing wrong with being nerdy sometimes. Don’t we all get like that every once in a while?”

“What nerdy things do you do?” Taehyung asks, now actually looking at Jeongguk.

“I spend an embarrassing amount of time playing Overwatch,” he confesses. Taehyung’s eyebrows shoot up. “But either way—don’t change the topic. You like the sight?”

“Oh, a pro-gamer,” Taehyung teases, Jeongguk smiling. He looks a little embarrassed, which Taehyung finds endearing. See? That’s how things work. Jeongguk is the endearing one. “Ah, I do. I like heights, and I like the lights. I think Seoul’s skyline is really pretty at night.”

“It wasn’t that hard to admit now, was it?” Jeongguk asks, playfully. Taehyung narrows his eyes at him. “Seoul does look really pretty at night. Have you ever been to the Seoul tower?”

“I mean, I went there when I was a freshman but it was daytime,” Taehyung says.

“There’s a revolving restaurant at the top of it. The view is stunning—you’d love it there,” Jeongguk explains. “I’ll take you there sometime.”

“Will you really?” Taehyung asks, excited about the offer. Jeongguk nods. “You really don’t have to, Jeongguk.”

“But I think it’d be nice to,” Jeongguk replies. “Plus, I’m the one who’s paying, I make the rules here. And I say we’re going sometime, so we’re going.”

Taehyung laughs. “That’s not really how it goes, you know?” he comments. “I’m not doing anything I don’t previously agree to, if I don’t want to. But, fine—I’ll indulge you. We can go sometime.”

“Don’t make it sound as if it’s a big sacrifice you’re making,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung unable to contain a smile. “So, if right now I told you I want us to go swimming, would you accept?”

“No way in hell,” Taehyung says, reaching for his glass. “I’m extremely tired tonight, so nope.”

Jeongguk nods, seemingly deep in thought, so Taehyung uses that moment to take a sip of his glass. He’s still drinking when Jeongguk asks, “And if I said I wanted to have sex?”

Taehyung chokes on his drink at that. Somehow, seeing Taehyung cough to death seems to amuse Jeongguk, since he has a wide, wide smile on his face.

“What makes you think I’d agree to have sex with you?” Taehyung asks once he can breathe again. The proposition wasn’t that crazy considering what Taehyung is. But he just wasn’t expecting it.

“Nothing! But we’ve already kissed, haven’t we?” Jeongguk asks.

“That doesn’t mean I would agree to have sex with you,” Taehyung says, resting his chin on his palms as he digs his elbows on the table. “Why? Have your friends asked how I am in bed and you want to give veracious answers?”

“Maybe I’m just curious,” Jeongguk says, giving Taehyung a look he can’t decipher. “For personal reasons.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes, and both of them drop the matter.

It’s not too long until they decide to leave the restaurant after that. They’re outside smoking, covered under the roof at the entry since it’s snowing a little. And, as usual, Jeongguk asks his question.

“Do you want a drive home?” he asks after exhaling a puff of smoke.

“You just keep asking out of habit, don’t you?” Taehyung asks, tilting his head to the right as he looks at him with an amused smile. It’s sweet how he still hasn’t lost hope, Taehyung thinks.

“I’m perseverant,” Jeongguk replies. “Persistence is the key to success.”

Taehyung laughs at that, giving Jeongguk a look. Truth is, he’s been alone with Jeongguk plenty of times now. He’s been in his car more than once, in his house… Reached this point, he really feels like he can trust Jeongguk enough to allow this.

“Okay,” he says. “Take me home then, Jeongguk.”

“Oh?” says Jeongguk, looking pleased. “Are you serious? You’ll let me drive you home?”

“Sure. It works out cheaper than a taxi and I can choose the music, so why wouldn’t I be serious?” Taehyung asks, raising one of his eyebrows.

“Well, maybe for the same reason you’ve been turning down this very same offer for over a month now,” Jeongguk points out.

Taehyung clicks his tongue. “You know what my work is, Jeongguk,” he explains, now in a more serious tone. “I can’t just give my address out, much less to a guy I don’t know at all.”

“But didn’t you say you receive some clients at home?” Jeongguk insists. Taehyung remembers telling this to Jeongguk one of the other times they had met, but he didn’t think Jeongguk would remember.

“Yeah, but not all clients,” Taehyung says. “Only regulars, people I’ve been meeting up with for a while. The rest of them, I either go to theirs or to hotel rooms.”

“That sounds very dangerous too, though,” Jeongguk points out. “That’s why I personally am not too into hookup culture. Going to a stranger’s house, someone you don’t know. There are actually a lot of cases of prostitutes and escorts that have been murdered when—”

“Jeongguk! Take me home, come on,” he says, interrupting. “I’m sorry, but I don’t really like that talk. I know what I do is dangerous, and I try to take as many safety measures as I can. But please, don’t lecture me.”

“I’m not trying to lecture you. I’m sorry if it came out that way,” Jeongguk apologizes. “I trust you to know what you’re doing, though.”

“I do,” Taehyung says, reaching forward and giving Jeongguk’s hand a squeeze. “Let’s go now, yeah?”

They move to the car, afterward. Taehyung tells his address to Jeongguk, who seems initially surprised to find out he lives in Gangnam. He’s sure he has mentioned he lives in a good area, but Jeongguk probably didn’t imagine that it was that good.

This car ride is different from the others, not as quiet. Taehyung seems to have let go of the sour mood he had been in since he had woken up—totally because of the sushi, he has no doubt about that—and is back to his talkative self. Jeongguk’s tongue, too, seems to be looser than usual today. The ambience is nice and distended, and Taehyung comes to the conclusion that maybe today isn’t so bad, after all.

It’s not too long until they get to Taehyung’s building, Jeongguk parking right outside of it. Taehyung is about to thank him and say goodbye when Jeongguk starts talking.

“Wait,” he says. “I have something I would like to ask you. I could do it through the app, but I would rather ask in person.”

That piques Taehyung’s interest. “What is it?” he asks, tilting his head to look at Jeongguk.

“Ah, well—there’s a business trip that me and some people from the firm have to take,” Jeongguk starts. “Namjoon is going, and he’s bringing Yoongi. So they asked if you’d like to come. Of course, you can say no and we’ll make something up, but I thought I would—”

“A trip?” Taehyung interrupts. He’s not one to interrupt people, but Jeongguk was just rambling, at this point. “A trip where?”

“Ah, a trip to Osaka,” Jeongguk replies. “Next weekend. Does that sound good to you? It’s just a two-day trip, and of course, I would pay you for your time and your expenses there. Only if you want.”

“To Osaka? Hm, well that sounds really nice,” Taehyung says, unable to hold back a smile. He has always wanted to go to Japan—or, well, abroad. He’d feel too guilty spending the money from escorting he’s meant to save up on something like travelling, and before that he didn’t even have the funds to travel to other countries. “I would really like to go, Jeongguk.”

“Wait—really?” Jeongguk asks, sounding surprised. “You would?”

“Yeah!” Taehyung replies. “But it will be my first time on a plane, so you’re gonna need to help me look a little less clueless. Also, I hope this doesn’t lead to me discovering some hidden phobia of planes I didn’t know I had.”

“Oh, for real?” Jeongguk asks, again sounding shocked. “I don’t know why, but I assumed you would have travelled a lot.”

Taehyung laughs. “I’ve seen a lot of Korea, if that counts. Especially after I started escorting,” he confesses. “But I’ve never had the kind of money to go abroad before. And now I’m saving up for something else, so it’d actually be my first time leaving South Korea.”

Jeongguk nods, but doesn’t ask any more questions about the matter, much to Taehyung’s relief. He has tried to be as vague as possible on purpose. “You’re in, then?” he says.

“I’m in.”

 

Chapter Text

Taehyung has always thought of airports as scary places, if he’s quite honest. They seem intimidating, with all the gates, terminals, entry areas, arrivals areas, etcetera. And in movies they have always seemed scary.

But they turn out to not be that bad in the event that he’s with someone, in this case with Jeongguk, who helps him and guides him through every step of the way. No getting lost and no panicking, because Jeongguk acts like Incheon Airport is his second home.

They’ve just gone through control, and Taehyung feels very calm and relaxed, actually. Since all of them are taking just hand luggage, Jeongguk agreed to meet the rest of his colleagues a little before boarding. So far, it’s only been Taehyung and Jeongguk.

So Taehyung takes advantage of that fact to ask all the questions that he’s sure would look weird if he asked in front of other people.

“Will we be sharing a bed?” is the first of them. Of course, he doesn’t mind sharing a bed with Jeongguk—it’s just a bed. He’s done that before, with people he knew less than he knows Jeongguk by now. But he’s just curious.

“Yes,” Jeongguk replies, without hesitation. “Seokjin booked everything for us, so he must have gotten us a double bed. But we’ve been to this hotel before, and the beds are big, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

“Jeongguk, please, you know what my job is,” Taehyung says. “It really wouldn’t bother me. Sharing a bed is far softer than most of the things I do.”

“But it’s also more intimate,” Jeongguk points out. Taehyung doesn’t reply to that, since Jeongguk isn’t wrong about it. “So I thought maybe it’d be an inconvenience. But like I said—the beds are so big we can keep an ocean’s distance between us.”

Taehyung laughs at the statement, shaking his head. “And what is the hotel, out of curiosity?”

“The Conrad,” Jeongguk replies. “Is that okay?”

“Oh, absolutely. I’ve been to The Conrad in Seoul with some clients before, and I’ve loved it. And anyway, you know I’m not picky.”

Taehyung feels like Jeongguk thinks he has been used to luxury and expensive things his whole life, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Okay, yes, Taehyung enjoys the luxury that this lifestyle allows him to have. But it’s not like he’s forgotten how things were before all of this came to be for him—he remembers those days very clearly. That’s why he never spends more than necessary, and the only luxury he allows himself is an apartment in Gangnam. And even that isn’t for himself, or for his own pleasure: it’s so they can get better clients, willing to pay more.

“Well, maybe you’re not,” Jeongguk says. “But I am.”

Taehyung laughs, shaking his head. Another question comes to mind, one that he’s been thinking about over the last week, but didn’t want to ask Jeongguk through a message on the app. It felt impersonal, so now is the perfect time for him to mention it.

 “Is your father coming?” he asks then, since he remembers that Jeongguk actually works for this dad. He looks at Jeongguk and smiles brightly, taking one of the bottles of orange juice that Jeongguk just bought for them to quench their thirst.

“He’s not,” Jeongguk replies, opening his own bottle and taking a long sip before he resumes talking. “He doesn’t really like travelling, so he avoids business trips as much as possible. He used to go to a lot more when I was younger, but now he sends me instead, so I can’t really complain. He just wants either of us to be present, since we obviously have similar interests regarding the business.”

“And do you like them? Business trips, I mean,” Jeongguk nods. “One more question. The other day, during dinner, you said to me you know how my father gets. Since I guess there’s a possibility of your father being brought up during this trip, what did you mean by that? Is there anything that I should know?”

“It’s not a lot, really. My dad is just very paternalist, and he tends to treat me more like his son than like his employee. So when he scolds me at work, it’s in a fatherly way and it’s humiliating,” Jeongguk says, mumbling the last part. “We have a really good relationship and he’s a kind man, but sometimes it feels like he doesn’t take me as seriously as the rest of his employees.”

Jeongguk looks down at his feet, looking very down. Part of Taehyung regrets bringing it up, but there are certain things he needs to do in order to do his job right. Besides, he wants Jeongguk to be able to talk about this with someone, since this seems to be a loaded matter for him. It probably is worse with people from his working place, since they’re the ones that have to see both Jeongguk and his dad every day.

“I’m sure that’s not true, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, touching Jeongguk’s shoulder. “It’s hard to switch off that paternal instinct, even if you’re at your workplace and you know you shouldn’t. If he’s let you have a place in his firm then he must trust you a lot. The business seems to be big and important to him, judging by your salary,” Taehyung adds, trying to lighten the mood.

It works, because Jeongguk is chuckling softly as he shakes his head. “He must, yeah. At least, I hope he does.”

“He does,” Taehyung says. “You’ve just said yourself that whenever he doesn’t want to be travel, he sends you instead so you can supervise how the meetings go. That means he trusts you and your judgement.”

“Yeah, I—I know that. I guess I just get doubtful. Working with family can get rough, sometimes,” he says. There’s a moment of silence, before Jeongguk adds, “I have an older brother, he’s two years older than me and his name is Jeonghyun. He’s a Biology professor in Yonsei. Also, my mom is a psychologist and has her own consult.”

“That’s very valuable information,” Taehyung replies, nodding. “Thank you.”

“Thank you for doing this,” Jeongguk replies. “I know people would ask a lot of questions if you didn’t tag along, so you’re making my life a lot easier. Anything else you want to know?”

“Yes actually,” Taehyung knows, sipping on his juice. “Are we flying First Class?”

Jeongguk laughs, shaking his head. “No, no First Class,” he replies. “We’re flying Business. I’m a frequent Business flyer so the more air hours I get, the better.”

Taehyung hums. It’s not First Class, but Business is good. Who is he to complain, after all? Business means enough space for his long legs and the flight attendants moderately pampering them, but without all the opulence of first class. A nice middle ground, if you ask Taehyung. Plus, it’s a short flight, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

“Do you travel a lot?” Taehyung asks. He’s aware all he does is ask questions, but he’s in a curious mood. Besides, it’s not like they have much more to do now, besides walking to the gate.

“Mostly to Japan, sometimes Hong Kong, but that’s about it,” Jeongguk says. “I went to the United States this summer, but that was leisure.”

“And you chose the States for leisure?” Taehyung asks, wrinkling his nose.

“Why? Where would you have gone to?” Jeongguk replies.

“Well, I have a few places in mind, depending on the kind of holidays I’d be interested in having. Are you ready to hear them?” Taehyung asks.

“Lay it on me,” Jeongguk says, mouth tilted up in half a smile.

“Well, if it was for beaches, I think I would like to go to Seychelles. Mauritius, too. I’d love to just waste my days away on the beaches there,” Taehyung says.

“I mean, I’d like that, too,” Jeongguk says. “But I’m sure I would get bored within two days. I need some action, you know?”

“I’m sure you could practice a water sport while I enjoy a nice, cold margarita on the beach,” Taehyung replies, wiggling his eyebrows at Jeongguk.

“Oh, so you’re assuming we’re going together?” Jeongguk asks, raising an eyebrow at him.

Taehyung scoffs. “Well, of course,” he says. “You’re already taking me to the Seoul Tower, might as well take me to some paradisiac island on a romantic holiday,” Taehyung jokes.

He knows he’s being cheeky, but Jeongguk doesn’t seem offended in the slightest. He laughs again, which only fuels Taehyung even furthers.

“I see,” Jeongguk says. “Not that I don’t like this, but what are our other options?”

“Well, this one is personally my favorite,” Taehyung replies. “For the cultural and architecture, I think it would have to be Europe. It’s so different from here that I think it’d blow my mind the most,” Taehyung explains. “Plus, their museums have been stealing art from everywhere, so I think it would really be worth it.”

“See? I like this idea much better,” replies Jeongguk, still laughing a little. “Where in Europe?”

“Germany, Sweden, Italy—I don’t know. I’m sure there are beautiful and fascinating places to see everywhere, so it wouldn’t particularly bother me where. Just somewhere,” he says.

Taehyung is sure that in another life where he could have afforded it, he could be a wanderlust. And maybe he still has time to become one, really—he still hasn’t lost hope. All he needs is to save up a little more and then find another job. And then, he can fulfill all the dreams that he’s never allowed himself to have. After all, and despite the fact that many don’t think of his job as something respectable, he works very hard. He deserves it.

Eventually, they get to the gate. There waiting is Namjoon, Yoongi and Seokjin, whom Taehyung already knows. There are only two people Taehyung doesn’t know: the first one is a woman called Yubin, that Jeongguk introduces as their chief marketing officer, and a lawyer called Yeeun. Jeongguk introduces him as his boyfriend, which makes both women share a look with an accomplice smile.

“And have you told your father?” Yeeun asks, a devious smile on her face.

“I haven’t,” Jeongguk says. Yeeun only smiles wider. “And you won’t either! Noona, please.”

“Let’s spare him,” Yubin says, fanning herself with her passport and boarding ticket. “It was about time he got himself a boyfriend, anyway.”

Jeongguk just rolls his eyes, and Taehyung guesses he’s aware that the two women just want to get a reaction out of him. Now that they're in front of people they need to actually act like a couple. Jeongguk hooks his chin on Taehyung’s shoulder and pulls him closer, kisses his cheek, and all of it out of his own initiative. Of course, Taehyung reciprocates the touches and starts skinship himself.

Jeongguk seems pretty experienced when it comes to acting like this, though. It makes Taehyung wonder if he’s had any serious boyfriends in the past, and now he regrets not asking earlier. He makes a mental note to ask later on, when they’re in their hotel room and no one can eavesdrop.

They eventually board, and Jeongguk is kind enough to give Taehyung his window seat. He wants to watch as much as he can, especially during the take-off and landing. He still feels a little bad, because window seats are—in his humble opinion—the best no matter the transport, so he asks Jeongguk if he’s sure.

“Yeah, you can take it,” Jeongguk says. “I always fall asleep, so it’d be a waste.”

“Okay, then,” says Taehyung, happily taking Jeongguk’s seat. “But don’t fall asleep yet, in case flying scares me.”

Taehyung is grateful that no one is sitting by their side, so he can just quietly talk to Jeongguk. Plus, in case flying ends up making him anxious, he’d very much rather have someone he knows and—mildly—trusts nearby.

Jeongguk fastens his seatbelt far too tightly and Taehyung has to help him loosen it up a little, giggling as he does so. “So much for being an experienced flyer,” Taehyung comments, making Jeongguk huff.

“Everyone makes mistakes every once in a while,” Jeongguk says. “Even perfect people.”

“So you consider yourself perfect?” Taehyung asks. Jeongguk just wiggles his eyebrows at him. “Ew, don’t do that.”

Jeongguk bursts out into laughter, quieting himself when he realizes there are people around them. “You really are so mean. So much for a boyfriend,” he accuses.

“Come on, don’t be mad,” says Taehyung, reaching for Jeongguk’s hand and interlocking their fingers together. “You know I was just joking around, babe.”

The airplane takes disappointingly long to take off, but Taehyung is not bothered. Jeongguk keeps him entertained, anyway. The younger seems to be incredibly fascinated by the rings Taehyung is wearing, since he won’t stop playing with them, turning them around on his finger.

But when they really do take off, Taehyung feels like he’s in a dream. He must admit the beginning of it impressed, a knot tying in his throat when the plane tilted. But soon enough he grew accustomed to the feeling, and dared to look out the window just to see Incheon Airport and its surroundings turning smaller and smaller.

Loyal to his word, Jeongguk falls asleep soon. Taehyung looks out the window for a while more, marveling at the clouds around them, but soon enough it gets boring, since he can’t really see anything. It’s then that he decides to put on some music and start the book he brought with him, the one that has been on his lap, abandoned since they got in the plane.

It’s been around an hour when he feels a weight on his shoulder. He turns his head a little, but goes immediately still when he notices it’s Jeongguk’s head. He’s fallen asleep on Taehyung’s shoulder, which Taehyung finds sort of… adorable.

Biting back a smile, Taehyung gets back to his book, now trying to move as little as possible. He also lowers the volume of his music, since he doesn’t want to disturb Jeongguk in case it’s too loud. It’s then that an idea flashes through his mind: he’s finally going to show Jeongguk to Jimin.

Opening the camera app on his phone, Taehyung angles the phone so the two of them are on screen. He pulls several silly faces, one after the other, and snaps a few pictures. When he takes a look at them, he decides they’ll do the job—Jeongguk looks different when he’s asleep, somehow younger, and the angle was not the most flattering, Still, it looks like Jeongguk. He’ll show them to Jimin, but he might get other pictures of Jeongguk during the trip. Aren’t they meant to act like boyfriends? What’s more boyfriend-like than taking selfies together?

Taehyung closes his eyes, a small smile appearing on his face. He’s determined to make the most out of this trip, and enjoy the weekend to the fullest.

 

 

They get to Osaka late into the afternoon, and by the time they’re out of the airport, two black cars are waiting for them. Taehyung and Jeongguk get in one with Seokjin, and the rest take the other one.

“I didn’t think it’d be this cold,” complains Seokjin, burying his face further into the big scarf he’s wearing. They weren’t outside for too long, but it was so cold that Taehyung’s fingers have gone numb, and he’s trying to warm them up by squeezing his hands between his thighs.

“At least it’s not raining,” comments Jeongguk, whose nose has gone red. “It could always be worse.”

The thought of being not only cold but wet makes Taehyung shiver a little. Next time Jeongguk invites him to go on a trip somewhere, it better be somewhere warm. It’s cold enough in Seoul.

The car ride to the hotel is not too long, filled with Jeongguk and Seokjin talking about the schedule they have for the weekend. It’s Friday today, and after they get to the hotel they have a little while to unwind before having dinner with the people they’ll be meeting tomorrow. Tomorrow is the busiest day of their stay, since they have meetings both in the morning and the afternoon. The seven of them can have dinner together on Saturday night. Sunday is totally free, so they can do whatever they want before taking their plane back to Seoul in the afternoon.

Taehyung is excited, really. He plans to venture into the city on Saturday, once Jeongguk is busy and consequently he’s free. He might ask Yoongi if he wants to tag along—it’d probably be weird if he left on his own without talking to him at all, right? He doesn’t want to seem rude or hostile.

The ride to the hotel is not too long, and soon enough they get there. The hotel is luxurious and modern, but Taehyung already saw that coming after seeing the choice in restaurants that Jeongguk and his friends have. Taehyung wonders how big Jeongguk’s dad’s firm must be for them to be able to afford things like this on the regular.

While they check-in at the reception and wait for the keys to their rooms, Taehyung links his arm with Jeongguk’s, who smiles briefly at him. Acting like a couple non-stop for a whole weekend will probably get tiring at some point, so Taehyung is grateful that he’ll still get some time for himself. As social as he is, everyone needs some time alone every once in a while. Especially when surrounded by people he’s not all that familiar with.

As soon as Jeongguk and he step into their room, Taehyung is wowed by the same two things as usual—the interior and the view. There’s a small corridor that leads to the main area, the door to the bathroom to their left. The room is decorated in warm colors, two of the walls covered by a chocolate brown wallpaper, whereas the one in front of the bed is covered by wood panels. The furniture combines a darker shade of brown with creamy colors, giving harmony to the room. Taehyung is impressed as he takes in what he sees: closer to the door, there’s a desk next and a leather office chair. Further into the room stands the king size bed, bedsheets white and pristine, standing out between all the browns and creams. In front of it, hanging from the wall, there’s a big TV screen. And lastly, next to the windowed wall, there’s a pair of matching cream-colored couches as well as the fridge and minibar.

“There’s a view,” Taehyung observes happily, leaving his bag on the bedroom bench by the end of the bed as he walks towards the window.

“Do you like it? I specifically asked for a room with a view,” Jeongguk comments. “I wanted you to like it, since I’m kidnapping you to Osaka with me for a weekend.

Taehyung bursts into laughter at that. “You’re not kidnapping me. I came here because I wanted to,” Taehyung says. “Don’t even think you have enough power over me to make me do something I don’t want to, Jeon Jeongguk. But yes—I love it. Thank you.”

“It’s no problem,” Jeongguk replies, smiling a little. Taehyung can’t help but smile in return. “We have around an hour before going to dinner, so you can take a quick shower if you want. I think I'll shower once we’re back.”

“I think I’d rather shower now,” Taehyung says, walking towards his bag. “I don’t usually take too long to prepare, but if we’re running late, just tell me.”

“Got it,” Jeongguk says, practically throwing himself to the bed. Taehyung shakes his head, smiling. “What?”

“You’re like a big, over-muscled kid,” Taehyung says with a chuckle. He rummages through his bag and gets his toiletries as well as the clothes he’s going to wear tonight. “I hope I don’t come back to you giggling as you watch the adult channels.”

“Tae! Who do you think I am, really?” Jeongguk asks, laughing a little.

Taehyung doesn’t reply, just winks at Jeongguk before walking towards the bathroom.

At this point of his life—more specifically, of his life as an escort—Taehyung has been to his fair share of luxurious hotel rooms. But he thinks this really is one of the fanciest he’s ever been to, and the bathroom is just proof of that.

He’s sure that this bathroom is the size of the kitchen in the apartment he shares with Jimin. It’s decorated in the same warm tones as the main bedroom, which pleases Taehyung immensely. One of the walls is completely covered by the widest mirror Taehyung has ever seen, framed by lights to provide good lighting. There are two oval basin sinks under it, one on each end of the mirror, and in the middle there are spacious countertops. The shower—well, Taehyung is sure that both he and Jeongguk would not just fit comfortably in there together, but they could also have a dance off and there would still be space.

But what calls Taehyung’s attention is the bath. It’s the only touch of color in the bedroom, the red bathtub placed right in front of the windows. It makes something stir in Taehyung’s stomach, imagining take a warm, relaxing bath at night and watching the view in front of him.

Yeah, he’s definitely going to take a bath in there. Perhaps tomorrow, since right now he doesn’t have time.

He stops daydreaming about his bath and opens the shower door, getting the towels and bathrobes from the hotel as he waits for the water to warm up. He said Jeongguk he wouldn’t take long, so even if they do have plenty of time, he better stick to his word, or he knows Jeongguk will tease him about it. He still tries all the features of the shower head until he finds thick jets that he loves.

He’s out of the bathroom, fully dressed—except for his shoes, obviously—and with his hair dry in less than thirty minutes. When he comes out Jeongguk has already changed, wearing a suit.

“Oh, so you’ve changed,” Taehyung says, walking so he can stuff his things back in his bag.

“It was you who wrongly assumed I would spend all this time looking at porn,” Jeongguk replies. “How was your shower?”

“Very nice,” Taehyung replies, sitting on the edge of the bed. “There’s a bathtub right in front of the window. I’m so getting a bath tomorrow night.”

“That’s very fancy of you,” Jeongguk comments. “Would you like some champagne, too?”

Taehyung giggles at the playful tone in Jeongguk’s voice. “Well, obviously,” he replies. “Who takes a bath without a flute of champagne in their hand nowadays? Duh.”

“You are literally the worst, you know that, right?” Jeongguk asks him, running his palms down the jacket of his suit.

“I’m told often,” Taehyung replies. “Are we leaving now?”

“I’m texting Namjoon right now,” Jeongguk says. “Are you ready to spend the evening with pompous businessman that think they’re better than every other living creature?”

Taehyung laughs at that, bumping his shoulder against Jeongguk’s as they both leave the room. Little does Jeongguk know that Taehyung has been dealing with those people for even longer than Jeongguk has.

 

 

Dinner turns out to not be as horrifying as Jeongguk made it out to be. Boring, yes—there was a lot of business talk in regards to tomorrow that Taehyung didn’t really get, and he could sense Yoongi’s disinterest in the conversation during those times. But it was still not terrible. And he got to eat good, so he has no complaints.

It’s not too late when they arrive back, so Taehyung guesses he might as well Facetime Jimin while Jeongguk is in the shower. He was texting Jimin in the car ride back, so he knows for a fact that he’s alone and free right now, so he calls as soon as he has changed into his pajamas.

“Hi, babe,” Jimin says as soon as he picks up. He’s in bed, too, hair a little messy from lying down for a while. “How’s Osaka so far?”

“So far so good,” Taehyung says, smiling. “But I miss you and your pretty face. I swear it’s so weird whenever I go somewhere and I don’t see you. Does the same happen to you?”

Jimin laughs, covering his mouth with his hand as he does. “It does, yeah,” he confesses. “We’re clingy.”

Taehyung knows that some people would consider their friendship unconventional, since they rely on each other so much. But Taehyung knows that it’s something they need—they take care of each other, which in a line of work like theirs is very much needed. He’s always there when he needs him and he gets what Taehyung feels and how it affects him, because he feels that way, too. So he doesn’t care if others think that his friendship with Jimin is weird, he’s not going to change one single thing about it.

He tells him all about his day and Osaka. Jimin hasn’t really travelled by plane before, either, so Taehyung explains to him in detail how the experience was for him. He stands up to show him around the room, showing him every corner and detail of it, finishing with the view from the window. At some point he hears the sound from the shower stop, but Jeongguk isn’t coming out of the bathroom yet, so he doesn’t bother hanging up yet. He goes back to the bed instead, and proceeds to tell him all about how dinner was.

“That doesn’t really sound like a party,” Jimin says.

Taehyung shrugs. “I mean, it’s fine,” he says. “I feel like in a couple months I’m going to be like another one of Jeongguk’s co-workers, if I keep going out with them. Jimin laughs cheerfully, and Taehyung adds, “How was your day? Did you end up seeing Sungwoo for lunch today?”

“Oh, yeah, I did,” Jimin replies. “But I took it slowly today, and all that. You know I don’t like bringing a lot of people here when I’m alone.”

“That’s for the best, though,” Taehyung says, nodding. “You should take the weekend off.”

“Yeah, that’s already not happening,” Jimin replies. “I’m meeting up for dinner and then drinks with someone tomorrow. It was too good of an offer to refuse it.”

“How good?” Taehyung asks, arching his eyebrow.

“Six zeroes good,” Jimin replies, looking incredibly smug.

“Oh là là,” Taehyung replies, rolling on the bed so he’s resting on his tummy, his back to the door. “That’s good for dinner and drinks. Someone’s a lucky bitch tonight.”

“Taehyung!” Jimin squeaks, dramatically high-pitched and loud.

Taehyung snickers, and he’s about to say something when he hears a knock behind him. He turns around and sees Jeongguk standing next to the panelled wall.

Jeongguk looks very different after his shower. It’s the first time Taehyung sees Jeongguk look like this—with his hair down, dressed in a big white t-shirt and sweatpants. He looks softer.

“Hello there,” Jeongguk says once Taehyung’s attention is on him, snapping him out of his daze.

“Hi,” Taehyung replies. He turns around to look down at his phone again, saying, “Minnie, Jeongguk’s back. I’m sorry, I’m going to have to hang—”

“Show me him!” Jimin demands. Taehyung’s eyes widen a little. “You’ve been telling me you’d show me what he looks like for a month now. Just a quick peek. Please?”

Taehyung sighs, sitting up on the bed. He tilts his head as he looks at Jeongguk, nodding towards his phone. “Do you mind?” he asks.

“Not at all,” Jeongguk says as he walks towards the bed. He sits next to Taehyung, close enough to appear in frame next to him, and Taehyung angles the phone towards him. As he waves to the camera, Jeongguk says, “Hey there.”

“Hi,” Jimin replies. “It’s so weird to finally see you. I was starting to accept you as a faceless entity.”

“Oh, my God,” Taehyung says. “You really have no filter at all, don’t you?” Taehyung asks, but he can’t help but smile a little. He’s pretty sure Jeongguk is not sensitive like that, so they’re good.

“I do, or otherwise I would be sharing my thoughts with you two right now,” Jimin replies, smiling a little. “I’m going to hang up now. Talk to you tomorrow, yeah?”

“Talk to you tomorrow, Minnie,” Taehyung says. “Goodnight!”

Jimin is the one to hang up, so Taehyung just locks his phone and crawls his way to the side of the bed he has chosen as his, plugging his phone into his charger for the night. He’s about to get in bed when Jeongguk speaks.

“So—Taehyung, huh?”

“Oh,” Taehyung says, remembering how Jimin had squeaked his name just before Jeongguk let his presence in the room be known. “You heard that?”

“I did, yeah,” Jeongguk replies, rotating a little so he can look at Taehyung. “Does it bother you? I should have told you I was there sooner.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Taehyung says in a mumble. “It’s just a name.”

On one hand, he doesn’t think a first name will make much of a difference. Plus, he trusts Jeongguk. But on the other hand, it’s the first time a client has ever known such information about him, and it wasn’t due to them pushing the limits of what they had established, but because Taehyung was careless. He wonders if that’s because, since he trusts Jeongguk more than he trusts others, he is loosening up. He also wonders if he’s loosening up way too much.

“I’m still sorry,” Jeongguk says, sounding sincere.

Taehyung smiles at him. “Nothing to apologize for—you quite literally only came out of the shower,” Taehyung says. “Don’t think I want to get rid of you, but I think you should sleep now. You have a long day ahead of yourself.”

“Wow,” says Jeongguk, feigning offence. “That totally sounds like you want to get rid of me, though. I am wounded.”

“You’re not,” Taehyung says. “But I’m feeling tired and I can’t fall asleep with the lights on, so…”

Jeongguk laughs at that, standing up and shutting the curtains before he walks to his side of the bed. He seems to have no issues with the sleeping arrangements that Taehyung picked for them, which immensely pleases Taehyung,

“Have you already decided what you’re going to do tomorrow?” Jeongguk asks as both of them get under the covers.

Taehyung nods. “I have already talked to Yoongi about it,” Taehyung explains. “He said he wants to sleep in the morning because he doesn’t like waking up early, so I’ll go out on my own and then in the afternoon we’ll hang out together.”

“And when are you having your bath?” asks Jeongguk.

“After dinner. I told you it had to be at night!” Taehyung says, giving Jeongguk a look. “I’ll shower in the morning, and then have a bath later. And you better get me that champagne you promised.”

“Don’t test me. You know I am more than capable of getting you a bottle of it before you’re done filling the bathtub,” Jeongguk says.

“You overestimate yourself,” Taehyung says, covering himself with the blankets.

“And you underestimate both me and the size of that bathtub,” Jeongguk says. “Can I turn the lights off, then?”

“Yes, go for it,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk does, and even though they have closed the curtains, some light still filters from the corners of the window. “Goodnight, Jeongguk.”

“Goodnight, Taehyung,” Jeongguk replies. “Sleep well.”

 

Chapter Text

The first thing Taehyung notices when Jeongguk’s alarm goes off and wakes the both of up, is that Jeongguk is not wearing a t-shirt.

At first, his sleepy mind decides to ignore it. But after a second or two he remembers Jeongguk did have a t-shirt on when they went to bed.

“Why are you naked?” he asks.

Jeongguk doesn’t reply. Instead, he just looks at Taehyung with wider eyes than someone who has just woken up should have, and asks back, “What happened to your voice?”

“Sleep,” is all Taehyung says. Not only is he unimpressed by the question, but he’s also still not awake enough to have a conversation. He’s already spent what little coherence he has in his sleepy state forming that one sentence, so he repeats, “Why are you naked?”

“I’m not naked,” Jeongguk says. There’s a pause where he peeks under the blankets, before he repeats, “I’m not naked. I just have the habit of taking my clothes off while I sleep.”

Taehyung blinks at Jeongguk. “You undress while you sleep?” he ends up asking, perplexed. Taehyung has heard of a fair amount of weird sleeping habits, but undressing during sleep? This is new to him.

“I do, sometimes,” Jeongguk says. “I probably should have told you about this, right?”

“I mean—a heads up would have been nice, but it’s not like I’m going to ask for a suppletory bed,” Taehyung says, running his hand through his messy hair. “My only pet peeve is kicking, and you’ve behaved in that department.”

“Of course I did,” Jeongguk says. “I’m a peaceful sleeper.”

“Yeah, you just strip.”

Jeongguk sticks his tongue out as he gets out of bed, and with that their morning begins. Taehyung showers again—he already showers around three times a day at home, each time he sees a client—while Jeongguk changes, and after that they head downstairs to have breakfast.

“I thought you’d maybe want to sleep for a little longer,” Jeongguk comments while they’re in the elevator. “It’s still pretty early.”

“I mean, I would’ve enjoyed spending a bit more time in bed, I’m not gonna lie,” Taehyung replies, honestly. “But I also want to make the most of the day. I’m gonna  meet Yoongi for lunch, and before that I want to see as much as I can of the city.”

After breakfast, they come back to the hotel room together to collect their stuff, and then go separate ways.

Taehyung’s alone time in Osaka turns out to be productive. He buys small souvenirs for Jimin and his family—he can always say he went there because of his job, which wouldn’t be a lie—and just explores the city. He also takes tons of pictures on his phone to show Jimin once he’s home, and tries some street food that makes his mouth water.

He goes back to the hotel to pick Yoongi up as they agreed. Yoongi has been to Osaka before and is more familiar with the city than he is, so Taehyung lets him decide where they go for lunch. In the end they go for to a diner-style restaurant, because according to Yoongi they have the best burgers he’s ever tried in his entire life.

It’s the first time Yoongi and he have been completely alone, and it shows. It’s not hard to figure out that Yoongi is introverted, but judging by their first meeting at the lounge bar and how yesterday was, he loosens up around people he’s more familiar with. That’s why he’s a little quiet at first, but Taehyung is not bothered by it—he knows there are no ill intentions behind his quietness, none at all. It’s not like he doesn’t reply or is rude, and after all, Taehyung can talk for both of them and make sure that there are no awkward silences.

It does get better after a while. By the time their food arrives, Yoongi has visibly relaxed, which makes Taehyung loosen up more. They just chit-chat about little things: about Osaka, about their hotel rooms, and Taehyung asks Yoongi about the clinic.

It’s Yoongi who then asks, “And how is dating Jeongguk working for the two of you?”

Taehyung knew that the topic would arise soon. After all, the only thing that Taehyung and Yoongi have in common is Jeongguk.

“It’s going well,” Taehyung replies, smiling. “We’ve been together for a little over a month now, and I’m really enjoying being with him. We’re on the same page.”

“It makes me happy to hear that,” says Yoongi, smiling at him. Taehyung notices his smile is very gummy, and wonders how he didn’t see it before. “I was actually really surprised when Namjoon told me that Jeongguk had gotten himself a boyfriend. It’s the first time since I’ve known him that he’s been interested in someone. Well—more interested in someone than he is in his job.”

Taehyung laughs at that. This might be his chance to learn some more about Jeongguk without directly asking Jeongguk, but he needs to play it cool and be smart about it. He can’t act like he barely knows anything about his own boyfriend.

“I mean, we still haven’t discussed past relationships just yet. Kind of a taboo topic as of now,” Taehyung says. “But because of some comments he has made in passing, I guessed it had been a while.”

“I think the last time he was in a serious relationship before you was in his early college days,” Yoongi comments. “For as long as I have known him, he’s been single.”

“I’ll have to get him to tell me about them sometime,” Taehyung says, smiling a little.

After lunch, they decide to walk around the city some more. Taehyung confesses he was planning on making a photo album of the trip, so Yoongi takes him to what he considers the best spots of the city for photo taking. That’s how he finds out that Yoongi’s biggest hobby is photography, and that he actually has a good camera alongside albums full of his photography at home.

“It’s just something I do for fun, but I took a course when I was younger and it kinda just stuck,” he says, a glisten of passion appearing in his eyes as he speaks. “But I really do enjoy it, so usually I take my camera with me when we travel somewhere.”

“So what changed this time?” Taehyung asks, curious.

“Truth is I couldn’t fit it in hand luggage,” Yoongi replies. There’s something about how candidly he says it that makes Taehyung burst into laughter. “It’s true! It was either that or clothes. I would have picked the camera, but Namjoon didn’t agree with my priorities.”

By the time the evening arrives and they get back to the hotel, Taehyung would say he’s had an amazing afternoon with Yoongi. It did take him a while to loosen up, but after he did, the goofy and witty personality Taehyung had already seen glimpses of came back. They could be friends, Taehyung thinks. Maybe in another universe, where their relationship was something genuine and not based on a lie.

When he arrives at the hotel room Jeongguk is already there, now changed into slightly less formal clothes as he lies on the bed, the TV on. As soon as Taehyung walks in Jeongguk greets him.

“Hey there,” he says. It’s funny, Taehyung thinks. Barely one month ago Jeongguk was always extremely proper with him, always greeting him in the most formal ways possible. And now they’re here, with Jeongguk saying hey there to him. “How was your day?”

“It was great,” Taehyung says, walking towards the bed and dropping on it. “I had a really good time with Yoongi, but I’ve been walking all day so the exhaustion is starting to kick in now.”

“You can skip dinner if you’re too tired,” Jeongguk says. “I don’t want you to go out there if you just want to relax now, especially since I know the guys are going to want to go for drinks.”

“Please! It’s fine, I’ll live,” Taehyung says, rolling on his belly and resting his chin on his palms so he can look at Jeongguk. “If I didn’t go to dinner, what kind of escort would that make me?”

“A tired one that deserves to rest,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung narrows his eyes at him. “You can stay here and order room service if you want. I mean it.”

“And I mean it when I say I’ll go,” Taehyung insists. “You’re just trying to get rid of me at this point. Have you already gotten tired of me?” Taehyung asks, pouting on purpose.

“No, no, not at all!” Jeongguk rushes to clarify. “I just didn’t want you to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do because of me.”

“I’m getting déjà-vu,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk frowns. “We had a conversation similar to this not that long ago, and I told you I wouldn’t do something I genuinely didn’t want to because of you. Remember?”

Jeongguk nods. “I do, yeah.”

“Well, that still stands,” Taehyung replies, jumping off the bed. “So I’m going to get ready now. And you better make sure that shirt is not wrinkled by the time we need to leave, Jeongguk. If we’re going out together, you need to look presentable.” He’s teasing but he also knows Jeongguk would never leave the room looking less-than-perfect.

Taehyung starts to leave to get ready, but before that he throws a last look at Jeongguk, who takes his hand to his head as he says, “Sir, yes sir.”

Taehyung laughs, shaking his head. He really can’t believe him.

 

 

Taehyung knows that if he had taken Jeongguk’s offer and chosen to stay in the hotel room for the night he would have regretted his decision. Not only because of the food, or because of the fact that now he doesn’t feel as tired as he did before. Taehyung is naturally social, and right now he feels in his element.

They’ve moved to a private room they booked in a bar. Taehyung swears that when they got there, there was a respectable distance between Jeongguk and him. They were still sitting together and being quite touchy, which is a constant whenever they’re surrounded by others. But somehow, after the drinks started flowing, the already small space between them disappeared completely.

Taehyung has one leg hooked over Jeongguk’s leg, and Jeongguk has an arm around Taehyung’s middle pulling him close. That allows for Taehyung to tuck his head in the space between Jeongguk’s shoulder and his neck when he feels like it, and for Jeongguk to kiss Taehyung’s hair every once in a while. Taehyung doesn’t really make anything of it. He’s in that euphoric stage of tipsiness, and Jeongguk’s body feels warm and comfortable, so he has no complaints.

A few funny looks are sent their way when the people around them think they don’t notice, so Taehyung guesses they must be doing a good job. At least, he feels like they are as he lets Jeongguk take his hand in his and play with his fingers.

He turns to look at Jeongguk. He’s laughing at something Yoongi said—well, yelled—and his cheeks are red, his smile displaying all of his teeth. Before he has the chance to look away Jeongguk’s eyes meet his, his grin turning into a smaller, softer one. Almost shy, Taehyung would dare say.

“What?” Jeongguk asks him.

“Nothing,” Taehyung says, letting go of Jeongguk’s hand so he can cup Jeongguk’s face in his palms. “Your face is all red.”

“It’s so warm,” Jeongguk replies, leaning a little closer. “So hot.”

Taehyung smiles as he squishes Jeongguk’s cheeks together, his lips jutting out. Taehyung laughs, letting go of Jeongguk’s face then.

“Come here,” Jeongguk says then, softly holding the back of Taehyung’s neck and pulling him closer. “I want to tell you something.”

“Tell me what?” Taehyung asks, Jeongguk getting close to his ear.

“You look beautiful tonight,” Jeongguk whispers then, his breath tickling Taehyung’s ear.

“Are you trying to flirt with me, Jeongguk?” Taehyung asks, trying to tilt his head to give Jeongguk a look.

But Jeongguk keeps him still, whispering, “Yes.” Well, that was very honest. Taehyung appreciates the sincerity. “I want to kiss you.”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip. “Do you really?” he asks.

Jeongguk nods. “Yeah, I do,” Jeongguk confirms. “Can we?”

Taehyung gives himself a moment to think. On one hand, he remembers having told Jeongguk on multiple occasions that whatever he does, he does because he wants to; that he’s not going to do anything he doesn’t want to do just because Jeongguk is paying him. Would agreeing to kiss Jeongguk mean that he wants to?

And on the other hand, Taehyung does this for a living. While it’s true that he hasn’t forced himself to do something unless he actively wants to, the thing is that Taehyung has kissed a lot of people that he didn’t want to kiss. He just had to. Making a distinction between Jeongguk and all those other clients would be more dangerous, right?

And after all, this is Taehyung’s job. Even if being with Jeongguk makes him feel somewhat braver, he’s still an escort. And Jeongguk is still his client, and he’s paying him very generously for this weekend. It’s only fair for him to get the kiss. Taehyung is just agreeing because he’s good at what he does.

So he tilts his head a little, looking into Jeongguk’s eyes for a brief moment. He still notices the way Jeongguk’s tongue darts to wet his lips. And then, he leans forward and presses his lips against Jeongguk’s.

Jeongguk’s mouth tastes of the Martini he was drinking before, with a sweet aftertaste that has Taehyung pressing his lips against his for more. He places his hands on Jeongguk’s shoulders while he feels one of Jeongguk’s palms fall on his thigh, warm and welcoming. The truth is that Taehyung intended for it to be a short, casual kiss—something that wouldn’t really catch anyone’s attention. Namjoon and Yoongi have shared some of those during the evening. If Jeongguk wants some more kisses once they’re alone, then he could always ask for them, and Taehyung would comply. But things don’t go as planned.

He’s about to pull away when Jeongguk catches his bottom lip between his teeth, pulling at it. And that seems to ignite something inside of Taehyung, making him wrinkle the fabric of Jeongguk’s shirt in his hands. It’s Jeongguk that deepens the kiss, turning it a little more urgent.

They’re so engrossed in each other that they miss how suddenly they’re the center of attention, until the room erupts into cheers and wolf-whistles. They abruptly pull back then, Taehyung feeling his cheeks get hotter when he realizes everyone is looking at them with a knowing expression. It’s not like he has never made out with someone in front of others—he’s done more than that—but something about the situation makes him embarrassed. That feeling only gets stronger when Jeongguk rests his forehead on Taehyung’s shoulder, hiding his face from the rest.

And after that, teasing ensues, of course. It falls mostly upon Jeongguk, since he’s the one all of them know, but Yoongi makes a few comments addressed at Taehyung that make his cheeks burn hot.

Even if they really aren’t kissing anymore, the feeling inside of Taehyung’s chest doesn’t go away. He wishes that either they were alone or that he didn’t care about the rest of people in the room, so he could just pull Jeongguk closer and resume kissing. And he knows Jeongguk feels the same way by the constant looks he gives Taehyung, and the way he shifts nervously.

He almost jumps in his seat when Jeongguk gets closer to his ear again, asking, “Do you want to get out of here?”

He swallows down thickly. The question reminds him of all the movies and shows where the couple sneaks out from somewhere to do dirty, nasty things. Thinking about it almost gives him chills, and only then does he notice how riled up he already is. It’s not like he’s horny—not yet, at least. He’s just in deep need of Jeongguk’s lips on his.

So he nods. “Yes,” he says. “Yeah, I do.”

The moment they announce that they’re going back to the hotel, Taehyung knows that everyone knows what’s up. I mean, they already saw them suck face not that long ago, so it’s not that hard to guess. They say their farewells to all of them and grab their coats, and by the time they make it to the door, the taxi they booked is waiting for them.

The ride there feels like the longest car ride in Taehyung’s entire life. Again, he wishes that part of him was shameless enough to make out with Jeongguk whenever he pleased, but he limits himself to stay as close to him as he wants, hand plastered against Jeongguk’s thigh.

They get to the hotel after what seems like hours. Jeongguk pays the driver way more than what he asks him for, but they’re hurrying out of it before the man has a chance to reach into his pocket for change, muttering a goodnight as they exit. The doorman, along with the receptionist and some other workers of the hotel, greet them on their way to the elevator, and Taehyung and Jeongguk give them smiles and hurried greetings as they make their way through the hall.

But once they’re alone in the elevator—that’s when they stop trying to act decent. The two of them move towards each other at the same time, mouths crashing together without any finesse at all. Taehyung lets out a whine as he curls his arms around Jeongguk’s neck, tangling his hand in his hair and tugging hard when Jeongguk kisses him roughly. Jeongguk’s hands travel down the expanse of Taehyung’s back all the way down to his ass, giving it a squeeze that makes Taehyung moan into his mouth.

“Fuck, Taehyung,” he says. There’s something about his voice that makes Taehyung want to kiss him again and again, until his lips fucking bleed. “I can’t wait to fuck you.”

Taehyung doesn’t reply. Rather than that, he pulls Jeongguk into another kiss, this one even hungrier than the previous one.

Thank God there’s no one waiting for the elevator once they get to their floor because they don’t detach their mouths from each other. It’s the first time Taehyung has done this, behaving in such way at a place like this. He’s learned over the years that anything can happen in the hotel rooms, but that one needs to behave in the hallways of hotels like The Conrad, and he’s sure Jeongguk has been taught the same. Neither of them seems to really care now as they stumble across the corridor still kissing.

They finally get to their hotel room, Jeongguk pressing Taehyung against the wall as he starts kissing the junction of his jaw and neck. Taehyung throws his head back and bites hard on his lips to suppress the sound that threatens to leave his mouth, body arching closer to Jeongguk’s.

“The door,” he urges, but Jeongguk seems too busy trying to turn his legs into jelly to listen to him. “Jeongguk, the door, please.”

“Okay, okay, yes,” Jeongguk says as he pulls back. His hair is a complete mess from Taehyung pulling at it in the elevator and his lips are already starting to get red, glistening both with his and Taehyung’s saliva. “Where the fuck did I—”

“The inner pocket of your jacket,” Taehyung says. “Come on, hurry up.”

They finally get in, Taehyung struggling to put the keycard in the wall slot as Jeongguk closes the door behind them. He still hasn’t turned around when Jeongguk approaches him from behind, gluing his chest to Taehyung’s back as he ducks his head down and reattaches his mouth to Taehyung’s neck.

“Please, kiss me,” Taehyung says. As good as Jeongguk’s mouth feels on his neck, right now he’s craving the feeling of his lips on his again.

And so Jeongguk does. Taehyung spins around and lets Jeongguk kiss him deeply again, taking two steps back until he’s pushed against the wall again. Taehyung curls his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders again and pulls him closer, parting his mouth even more for Jeongguk’s tongue to invade his mouth.

He’s caught by surprise when he feels Jeongguk grab the backs of his thighs and pull him up as if he weighed nothing. Taehyung yelps, eyes widening as he squeezes his thighs around Jeongguk’s hips. He sees him smile smugly, so he pulls him in for another kiss, determined to wipe the smirk away from his face.

“Take your shirt off,” Jeongguk breathes into his mouth, Taehyung nodding as he frantically starts to undo the buttons of his shirt. He feels so turned on, fuck, his cock hardening more and more in his underwear with every kiss Jeongguk and he share.

Once he’s done Jeongguk ducks his head down and starts kissing all the newly exposed skin, biting down on it and making Taehyung arch his body as he moans. It’s not too long before Jeongguk starts moving, Taehyung holding onto his shoulders as Jeongguk takes him to the bedroom before lying him on his back.

Jeongguk slips in the middle of Taehyung’s parted thighs, kissing him yet again. It’s then that Taehyung starts tugging at Jeongguk’s shirt, pulling it from where it’s tucked into his jeans.

“God, Jeongguk,” he whines when Jeongguk kisses down his chest, sucking one of his nipples into his mouth. “I can’t wait for you to be inside me.”

“Be patient, pretty,” Jeongguk says, mouth against his nipple. “Everything has its time.”

And it must do, because Jeongguk takes his time making Taehyung fall apart little by little, kissing down his stomach and palming his erection through his pants. Jeongguk pulls back to take his own shirt off, and then, much to both Taehyung’s surprise and his relief, he pops open the button of Taehyung’s pants and starts pulling them down.

All of Jeongguk’s calm goes out the window then, seemingly. He pulls down Taehyung’s underwear along with his pants, making his cock spring free before wrapping his nimble fingers around it.

“So hard, baby,” mumbles Jeongguk, pumping it in his hand slowly. Taehyung bites on the insides of his cheeks. “You’re really big.”

“Thanks,” Taehyung says, voice choked out. He could go on to explain how what they say about big hands is partly true, but he really can’t be bothered right now. He needs Jeongguk to do something, anything. “Please. Touch me.”

“I’m touching you,” Jeongguk says, corner of his mouth tilting up in half a smile.

“Touch me better,” Taehyung insists.

And Jeongguk does—of course he does. He starts by giving the head of Taehyung’s cock a couple tentative licks, wiping away the pre-come he was leaking. Taehyung tenses then, fisting the bedsheets in his hands.

He wasn’t ready for the warm, wet feeling of Jeongguk’s mouth wrapping around the head of his cock, much less for the chill that goes down his spine when he starts to bob his head a little. Jeongguk sucks on his cheek around Taehyung’s cock, making it tighter, and Taehyung can’t help but thread his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair again.

Each time Jeongguk goes down on him he takes a little more of his cock, making Taehyung’s eyes roll back in pleasure as his back arches off the bed. The only thing keeping him from thrusting up into his mouth is Jeongguk’s hands placed firmly on his hips.

Jeongguk pulls back for a moment, a string of saliva connecting his mouth to Taehyung’ cock, and something about the sight makes Taehyung twitch in Jeongguk’s hand, Jeongguk whispering, “Fuck.”

Taehyung doesn’t know how much more he can take when Jeongguk starts giving special attention to the head of his cock, playing with his mouth and fingers until he figures out what is it that makes Taehyung squirm and shake.

It’s then that Taehyung says, “Stop teasing. Please, fuck me now.” Jeongguk doesn’t even move, so Taehyung insists, “Jeongguk, come on—wait. Do you even have anything?”

“I have lube and condoms, yeah,” Jeongguk says then as he starts to pull back a little. Taehyung raises his eyebrows, wondering how he missed those at the control in the airport. “What? I like to be prepared.”

“Just say you’ve been wanting to fuck me since you saw me for the first time, Jesus,” Taehyung says, watching as Jeongguk moves towards his bag to get the stuff.

“I’ve thought you’re insanely attractive since I first saw you, especially in person—pictures don’t do you justice,” Jeongguk says as he rummages through his back. “But I’ve wanted to fuck you since you’ve started with the I won’t do anything I don’t want to do because of you, you don’t have so much power over me. So arrogant, Tae.”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, giving Taehyung a smile as he raises his eyebrow. “But I didn’t lie, did I?” he asks.

“So should I just find someone else to fuck, then?” Jeongguk asks.

“Get your ass here and stop being so petty,” Taehyung says impatiently, sitting up on the bed. “And get rid of all those clothes before you come back over here.”

Jeongguk does as he’s told, stripping completely under Taehyung’s attentive gaze before he’s back on the bed with him. Taehyung pulls him in for another kiss, and the fact that he’s able to taste himself on Jeongguk’s lips makes him even hornier.

He lies on his back then as Jeongguk gets the bottle of lube in his hand, coating his fingers with it. Taehyung watches with his bottom lip caught between his teeth how he warms it up with his hands before guiding his hand to Taehyung’s hole, pressing his finger tentatively.

“Ready?” he asks.

“Yeah,” Taehyung replies, nodding. “Do it now, please.”

And so Jeongguk does. He pushes the first finger in slowly, Taehyung exhaling through his nose as he relishes in the feeling of it. Jeongguk is careful and wants to go slow, but Taehyung urges him to go faster and add another finger, so soon enough Jeongguk is pulling it back only to push two back in.

This time around it burns a little, but once he’s past the initial discomfort of it, Taehyung feels pleasure jolt down his spine. Jeongguk is fingering him so good, thrusting his fingers in and out of him and looking for the angle that makes Taehyung literally melt.

He has three fingers inside of Taehyung when he finally finds the spot. It has Taehyung letting out a long, loud sound of pleasure, clenching around Jeongguk’s fingers involuntarily. Jeongguk smiles, thrusting into the same spot again once, twice, until Taehyung is moaning and covering his mouth with his own palm.

“Now,” he urges. “Jeongguk, please, now. I need you now. Give it to me.”

Jeongguk looks at him with want dripping from his eyes as he nods, wordlessly taking one condom package and ripping it open. Taehyung watches as he rolls it over his cock, pouring more lube on his hand before slicking himself up. There’s something incredibly sexy about the way Jeongguk groans as he does so, which makes Taehyung feel even more urgency.

“How do you want this?” Jeongguk asks.

“On my hands and knees,” Taehyung replies in a heartbeat. There’s just something about being fucked from behind that especially turns him on, and he’s chasing that feeling right now.

So he quickly gets into position, parting his legs so Jeongguk can position himself behind him. After squeezing some more lube for Taehyung’s hole, Jeongguk finally places himself back between Taehyung’s parted legs, lining his cock with his entrance.

“Are you ready?” Jeongguk asks.

Taehyung nods. He’s been ready for ages now. “Go,” he says.

Jeongguk obliges, pushing inside of him slowly. Taehyung squeezes his eyes shut, rejoicing in the feeling of Jeongguk sliding inside of him inch by inch. Once he’s finally all the way in, Jeongguk stays still for a moment as he holds onto Taehyung’s hips with both of his hands.

“Don’t wait,” Taehyung urges. He has Jeongguk inside of him now, he’s had a taste of what him fucking him is like, and he can’t wait. Besides, over the last few years there haven’t been a lot of people who have waited, so he has grown to love the initial burn. “I can take it. Jeongguk, please.”

The moment Jeongguk starts to move inside of him tastes like victory to Taehyung. He’s already so riled up, so stimulated from Jeongguk first sucking him off and then fingering him. Jeongguk starts off gently, pulling out until only the tip of his cock is still inside of Taehyung before thrusting inside of him again. Every drag of his cock inside of Taehyung makes him die a little inside—in a good, tremendously pleasurable way, of course.

“So tight, Taehyung,” Jeongguk grunts. Taehyung bites back a moan—it’s been so long since he last heard someone call his real name during sex, and he had forgotten about how oddly erotic such a small gesture felt. It was dirty, and it made Taehyung feel wanted and desired. “Fuck, babe.”

“It feels so good,” Taehyung replies, fisting the covers in his hands until his knuckles whiten. He’s trying his best to keep his voice low but it’s hard.

His arms eventually give up on him, so he supports his weight on his elbows instead, arching his back further. He can’t help but clench around Jeongguk’s cock as he babbles, telling him how much he loves this, how much he adores the feeling of his cock fucking him.

He builds up a pace, his hips moving faster than before. Taehyung can hear the squelch every time Jeongguk slides into him, and for some reason he can’t pinpoint, being able to hear that turns him on immensely.

“Faster,” Taehyung urges then. He loves this, yes, but he wants more. He wants Jeongguk to literally pound into him, wants to hear the sound of their sweaty skin smacking together, wants to be able to remember this for days. “Faster and harder. Come on, Jeonngguk.”

“You’re so damn bossy,” Jeongguk says, tightening his hold around Taehyung’s hips. He does snap his hips harder then, his rhythm shifting towards a more rapid one, and Taehyung’s eyes whiten in pleasure. “You like it like this? Want me to wreck that pretty little ass of yours?”

“Yes,” Taehyung says, defyingly. He looks over his shoulder to look at Jeongguk. “Show me what you can do, boy.”

And that’s where it gets fun. Jeongguk uses his hold on Taehyung’s hip to pull him back onto his cock at the same time he thrusts into him, rougher than before. That makes Taehyung let out a choked moan, both from surprise and excitement.

“You want it hard? Then you’ll get it hard,” Jeongguk says in a grunt. Taehyung smiles, triumphant.

“Just like that,” Taehyung moans, burying his head between his arms as he fucks himself back on to Jeongguk’s cock. “God—yes, Jeongguk. You’re fucking me so well. Please, don’t stop.”

Jeongguk doesn’t say anything back, just lets out a pleasured sound that makes Taehyung’s cock twitch where it is hanging between his legs. Taehyung is about to open his mouth to say something else, but then Jeongguk thrusts right into his prostate, and his words turn into a prolonged, loud moan.

Well, so much for being quiet.

“Right there,” Taehyung says, voice hoarse. “Fuck, Jeongguk—do that again. Just like that, baby, keep going.”

That’s exactly the moment when Jeongguk’s thrusts start getting sloppier, falling out of the rhythm that he had built. He relentlessly thrusts inside of Taehyung, right into his prostate, again and again. His hands tighten more around Taehyung’s hips to the point where he wonders if there will be imprints of Jeongguk’s fingertips in the morning.

He feels pleasure bubble inside of him, turning him into a mess. He feels himself getting closer and closer to orgasm, the feeling of Jeongguk thrusting into his prostate taking him to the edge.

“I need to come,” Taehyung says then, voice choked out. He’s so, so close now. He needs this, he needs Jeongguk to take him there. “Make me come.”

Jeongguk then reaches for Taehyung’s cock with his hand, wrapping his fingers around it. The contact alone is enough to make Taehyung hold his breath, but he can’t keep his moan to himself when he feels Jeongguk start to jerk him off.

“Do it, then,” Jeongguk says. “Come all over my hand, show me how well I’m fucking you. Let me know, Taehyung.”

“Fuck,” Taehyung says. “Fuck, God, yes.”

At this point he thinks it’s safe to say Jeongguk has fucked the coherency out of him. He’s unable to string two words together, only managing to articulate cuss words intermingled with calls of Jeongguk’s name.

He’s almost there. And with Jeongguk’s dick mercilessly ramming into him and his hand pumping him like this, he knows he won’t last much longer.

He comes with a long moan, intelligible words falling from his lips as he spurts come all over Jeongguk’s fist. Jeongguk keeps fucking him through it, making Taehyung whine at the feeling. It’s not too long before Jeongguk reaches orgasm too, spilling inside the condom as he moans Taehyung’s name, sending chills down his spine.

“Fuck, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says as Jeongguk holds the condom at the base and pulls out, leaving him clenching around air. “Fuck.”

“Same,” replies Jeongguk. Taehyung drops to his stomach and then rolls to his side, looking at Jeongguk. He’s taking off the condom and tying it at the end, careful to not spill anything. Then he takes his hand to his mouth and licks Taehyung’s come away from it.

Taehyung’s eyes widen, but he doesn’t say anything, opting to pretend the action doesn’t affect him in the slightest.

“That was good,” Taehyung says as Jeongguk stands up and walks towards the trash can. “Like, really good.”

Jeongguk smiles a little, rubbing the back of his neck with a sheepish smile on his face. “I’m glad you think so,” he says. “Do you want to clean up?”

“Yeah, I’ll probably shower before bed. Why? Do you want to go first? I don’t mind waiting,” Taehyung replies. He’s comfy, anyway.

“No, no—it’s not that,” Jeongguk rushes to reply. “You said yesterday you’d like to take a bath tonight. I was thinking maybe we could bath together now.”

Taehyung tilts his head to look at Jeongguk, half a smile painted on his face. “Jeon Jeongguk, are you inviting me to take a bath with you in our bathtub with views of the city night sky?” Taehyung asks, placing his hand on his chest for dramatic effect.

“Yes,” Jeongguk replies. “That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

And that’s how they find themselves together in the bath, ten minutes later. When Taehyung complained the porcelain of the bath was too cold on his back, Jeongguk offered him to sit between his thighs and rest his back on his chest, and Taehyung obliged happily. He likes cuddles after sex, but that is something he doesn’t get often, since it doesn’t go with escorting. Right now Jeongguk has his chin hooked over his shoulders, arms around his body and placed on his belly, and thighs to each side of Taehyung’s, and Taehyung couldn’t feel more at ease.

“This is nice,” Taehyung comments, taking in the beautiful sight before his eyes. That, added to the nice, warm water and how comfortable he feels resting against Jeongguk’s chest could be considered paradise. Maybe a more mundane version of it, but paradise regardless. “There’s no champagne like you promised there would be, but…”

“I don’t think tonight went as either of us planned in the slightest,” Jeongguk says, making Taehyung smile a little.

“And?” Taehyung asks. When he gets no answer, he rephrases his question. “Do you regret it?”

“No,” Jeongguk says. “No, I don’t. You’re hot, we were horny, and it was a good fuck. Do you regret it?”

“Not at all,” Taehyung says, Jeongguk humming in response.

They fall into silence for a moment after that but it’s nice. They’ve turned the lights of the bathroom off, only lighting up a couple of candles that came along with the toiletries so they’re not in total darkness when the time to leave the bathtub comes.

The only thing that can be heard in the room is the water whenever one of them moves, their respiration, and if they are quiet enough, the noises from the street all those floors below them. It’s relaxing, Taehyung thinks. Moments like this make him realize how much he loves the quiet.

Despite that, he’s the one who breaks the silence again. He tilts his head a little so he can look at Jeongguk before he starts speaking.

“This weekend has really been a dream, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, rejoicing in the feeling of Jeongguk nosing at his jaw. “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to live all of this.”

“Thank you so much for taking it,” Jeongguk replies, words spoken softly against Taehyung’s skin. “If you let me… If you let me and you want to, there's so much more of this to come, Taehyung.”

Taehyung doesn’t say anything, just closes his eyes and presses himself even further against Jeongguk’s chest. Maybe Jeongguk is just saying that. He knows better than anyone that after sex it’s easy to feel attached to the other person, but sometimes that attachment vanishes with the afterglow. Right now, Taehyung feels soft and wants to be coddled, but he knows these kind of feelings towards Jeongguk will be gone by the morning.

But if he’s being honest, well… Then, Taehyung thinks he could get used to this.

 

Chapter Text

Once he’s back in the apartment, Jimin won’t let him go to sleep until he’s told him every single detail of the trip to Osaka. Jimin listens attentively as Taehyung tells him about the journey in the airport, the first night’s dinner and how lunch with Yoongi was. And then, when Taehyung gets to Saturday night, that’s when Jimin lets out a choked noise.

“Wait, you what?” Jimin asks, eyes widening. “You’ve fucked?”

“Yes,” Taehyung confirms, nodding. “And then we took a bath. Why are you shocked? Sex is what I do with most clients, anyway.”

“Yeah, but it’s not what you’ve been doing with Jeongguk, is it?” Jimin asks. “You’re pretending to be his boyfriend, and after a month of nothing I didn’t think you’d end up having sex.”

“Maybe he just couldn’t resist my sexiness for any longer,” replies Taehyung as he wiggles his eyebrows, Jimin giggling at the comment.

“So what now?” Jimin asks. “Is this going to change anything between you two, or…?”

“We haven’t spoken about it, to be honest,” Taehyung says. “We spent the next day together because they didn’t have anything scheduled, but we just walked around the city and grabbed lunch before heading towards the airport. I guess I’ll see when he next messages.”

Jimin nods, humming. “And how was it?” Jimin asks. “Was it good?”

“It was amazing,” Taehyung says. “It was nice to feel like I was a person having sex with a person instead of a fuck it, for a change. Plus, I came really hard. He sucked my dick, too.”

“I’m happy it was good for you,” Jimin says. “And I’m also happy things didn’t get awkward later.”

“There’s no need for them to get awkward, this is my job and Jeongguk is aware of that,” Taehyung says. “We took a bath later and it was really nice. So not only did I get a free trip and a few million, but also bomb sex.”

“I’m glad you had a nice weekend, babe,” Jimin says. “You deserved it.”

“And how was yours?” Taehyung asks then. “How did the date with that client go?”

“The date went well, as always,” Jimin says, playing with his fingers. “But something happened that I actually wanted to tell you about.”

“Really?” Jimin nods. “You should have told me about it as soon as I came through the door!”

“No way!” Jimin says. “You’re the one who went away on an exciting trip, while I was here doing the same job as always. It might not be that big of a deal, but…”

“What is it?” Taehyung asks.

“Well, this Saturday, after dinner with my client we went to a bar to get some drinks,” Jimin starts explaining.

“Yeah, I remember,” Taehyung says with a nod. “You told me about it on Facetime.”

“I did, yeah,” Jimin says. “So when we went for drinks we sat by the bar, and we were talking to the bartender for a bit. And…”

“And…?” Taehyung asks. He doesn’t have a clue or where this is going, so he’s intrigued, to say the least.

“And he was very good-looking, and also very funny. The bartender, I mean,” Jimin says.

“Oh, my God,” Taehyung mumbles.

“And then my client went to the restroom, so the bartender came to talk to me alone while he was gone,” Jimin adds. “And then he asked me what a boy like me was doing with an old man like that.”

“What did you say?” Taehyung asks.

“I just laughed and avoided the question. I’m sure it was rhetorical and he actually thought that he was my sugar daddy or something,” Jimin says. “But we talked some more before my client came back, and I… I may have stayed behind once the date was over and had some drinks while I talked to him.”

“And I’m guessing it was very nice,” Taehyung says. Jimin nods with a sigh.

“I’ve been thinking about it all day today? About him,” Jimin says. “And I don’t know… I don’t know what to do?”

“So you have a tiny, little crush, don’t you?” Taehyung asks. Jimin nods, which causes Taehyung to split into a smile. “God, this is so sweet—are you going to try to get to know him better?”

“That’s what I would like,” Jimin says. Before he says anything, Taehyung can read in his tone there’s a but. “But with this line of work, and with what both of us do… I don’t want to start liking someone, Taehyung. It’s not going to end well.”

“Babe, says who?” Taehyung asks.

“Says me,” comes Jimin’s reply. “Because if I like someone, I’m not going to be able to do this job without feeling like shit. And I’m sure he’d lose all interest as soon as he found out.”

“So he has an interest now?” Taehyung asks, looking for the brighter side of things.

“Well—I think so,” Jimin says. “We were flirting the other day, and I know it wasn’t just my imagination. Unless he aggressively flirts with every customer to get them to buy more drinks, then yeah—he does have an interest.”

“I think you’re ruining this for yourself even before it has started,” Taehyung says. “You should test the waters—maybe get to know him a little better before deciding anything, and then see how he takes to the fact that you’re an escort. You might be surprised by his reaction, who knows.”

“And what if I fall for him but it goes to shit?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung takes Jimin’s hands in his. He knows both of them have had not so good experiences with love in the past, but that’s true for most. Just because Jimin got his heart broken once, doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Taehyung values Jimin’s happiness more than anything else, and he knows that escorting doesn’t make Jimin happy. And that it wouldn’t make him happier than a relationship with someone he trusts and loves would. Neither of them has allowed themselves to pursue that since they started escorting, but Taehyung thinks it’s about time that changes and they let themselves get that happiness, too.

“What’s his name?” Taehyung asks. “Did you get it?”

“Yes,” Jimin replies. “Hoseok. His name is Hoseok.”

“Then give Hoseok a chance, and give yourself a chance,” Taehyung says. “You’ve been lonely for a long time, and it’s the first time in forever I have seen you excited about a man. I’m not saying that you have to jump straight into a relationship, but at least get to know him. That’s what I would do.”

Jimin sighs. Taehyung can see the hesitance, and he can also understand it. Maybe if Taehyung was in a situation like that one himself he would be having his doubts, too. But this is about Jimin, and that makes Taehyung see things clearer. Escorting won’t last forever, and now that they’re 25, they don’t have a long time left in the business. Hell, both of them were thinking of quitting soon. So for Taehyung, the right choice is crystal clear.

 “I will,” Jimin ends up agreeing in the end. He sounds a little more confident, which makes Taehyung smile encouragingly at him. “I will.”

 

 

Taehyung gets the notification while he’s watching puppy videos on Twitter. You have a new message from JKbusan, it says, and Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip. It’s the first time Jeongguk has reached out to him since they came back from Osaka on Sunday, four days ago. He taps over it before the notification fades, and as soon as he sees it he feels like most of Jeongguk’s message must have gotten lost, somehow.

Hey, Taehyung.

That’s all it says. Usually, Jeongguk sends him a long paragraph describing where they’re going, what to wear, when and where to meet, and how much he’s going to pay him. He doesn’t just send hey, Taehyung. Taehyung starts typing a reply.

Hey yourself

When did you start texting me casually?

He doesn’t have to wait too long for a reply. Jeongguk usually messages him back quickly, something Taehyung is infinitely grateful for—it’s hard to organize his work schedule if people take ages to get back to him.

Right now.

How are you?

Taehyung raises an eyebrow. He’s still very surprised by the way the conversation is going, but he still types a reply.

I’m very good I’m at home

You?

Still at work.

Will get out soon, though.

I was wondering if you were free tonight.

Taehyung takes a moment to reply, thinking of the appointments he has for the day. Someone is coming in around five minutes to see him, but so far that’s all that there is confirmed. He has a few other unread notifications for later tonight, but he hasn’t accepted anything yet, and all of them offer way less than Jeongguk usually does, anyway. The decision practically makes itself.

After 8:00 pm yes I am

Are we going out?

I was thinking we could have dinner.

At my place.

And maybe you could stay over.

If you want, of course.

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip. This is the first time Jeongguk has asked anything like this. Maybe there will be a shift in how things were after the trip to Osaka, after all. It’s not like Taehyung has any negative feelings about it—it’s more cash, right? With the added bonus of some sex that he’s actually into.

Are you going to wine and dine me before taking me to bed?

You’re such a gentleman, gukkie

I’m OK.

I’ll pick you out at 8:00 PM, then?

Taehyung rolls his eyes. He is still going to accept—of course he is.

Yes!! I’ll make sure I look pretty for you

You always do.

Taehyung can’t help but raise an eyebrow when he reads that last message. Now, this is something he wasn’t expecting at all. Jeongguk texting him casually was weird enough. But Jeongguk flirting with him through text? Taehyung didn’t think he’d live to see this day.

Flirt~

Why are you flirting

We’re already going on a date tonight

So I should stop?

:(

Absolutely yes

(no)

(but teasing you is a lot of fun)

Ugh. You’re terrible.

You’re lucky you’re cute.

Taehyung is about to start typing a reply again, but then he hears the buzzer go off and he scrambles to his feet to go get it. He runs into Jimin in the corridor, who’s getting back from making himself something to eat in the kitchen.

“Last of the day?” Jimin asks, walking towards the bedroom.

“Nope, I’m meeting up with Jeongguk later,” he turns towards the buzzer, pressing the button. “Hello, darling.”

“Oh, Jeongguk,” Jimin says, getting in the bedroom.

Taehyung follows as he types in his phone.

Need to go now I have a client over

Talk to you later boo~

“What about him?” Taehyung asks, his phone pinging almost as soon as he takes his eyes off the screen.

Wow. Okay. :(

I’ll see you later. :(

Taehyung bites back a smile, shaking his head. Jeongguk can’t be for real.

“I’m starting to think he sees you even more than I do,” Jimin says, making Taehyung burst into giggles as he plugs his phone in. “Do I have to worry he’s stealing my best friend away from me?”

“Not at all,” Taehyung says. He knows Jimin is joking, but he still kisses the crown of his head. It’s right then that he hears the doorbell. “I need to go now. But please, you know you’re my number one.”

“As I should be!” Jimin replies, smiling at him.

Taehyung laughs, closing the door behind himself as he exits the room. He wishes he could sit with Jimin and joke around with him for a little while, if he’s honest. Even if most of their time is spent working at home unless they have dates outside, they don’t see each other all the time, just in little breaks without clients, and later at night. Taehyung wishes he could just spend an entire afternoon with his best friend without random men interrupting. But right now, he has work to do.

 

Taehyung has his legs thrown over Jeongguk’s lap as both of them sit on the couch, drinking the wine they had left over from dinner. Taehyung insisted on playing some music on his phone that’s now resting on top of the coffee table.

“You need to decorate this a little,” Taehyung says then, resting his cheek on his palm as he holds the wine glass with the other one. “It doesn’t look lived in.”

“What do you mean?” Jeongguk asks. With his free hand he’s gently stroking Taehyung’s ankle, circling the protruding bone. It tickles a little bit, not to the point where it’s uncomfortable, or makes him want to flinch. “There’s everything one needs to live here.”

“Not what I meant,” Taehyung says with a soft chuckle. “It does have everything, but it looks like an exhibition house. No pictures, or not anything that screams you. At least, not in the kitchen and living room.”

“I guess you’re right,” comes Jeongguk’s reply in a mumble. He seems pensive for a moment, and then he adds, “I guess I never really thought about it. I’m not too bothered about decoration, just about functionality.”

“God, that’s such an accountant thing to say,” Taehyung says, groaning a little.

Jeongguk laughs, but he still squeezes Taehyung’s ankle and says, “Meanie.”

They’re quiet for a moment then, before Jeongguk leans forward and leaves his glass of wine on the coffee table, turning around to look at Taehyung. Taehyung raises his eyebrows at him, and although Jeongguk just shakes his head, Taehyung doesn’t miss the way in which Jeongguk’s eyes flicker down to his lips.

Taehyung raises his glass to his lips, hiding the coy smile that comes to his lips behind it. It’s obvious Jeongguk wants to kiss him now, and Taehyung is not opposed to the idea in the slightest.

“So…” Jeongguk starts then. “Do you like to decorate?”

Taehyung can’t help but laugh at the question, aware that this is Jeongguk eager to fill up the silence, to keep the conversation going. “I do,” he replies, amusement still clear in his voice even after his chuckles have died down. “Do I look like I like it?”

“You talk like you do,” Jeongguk says. If only he knew. “Plus, you… decorate yourself quite well.”

Taehyung stays quiet for a moment, trying to process the words. That has to be, by far, one of the worst compliments he has ever received. But it's still a compliment, right?

“What does that even mean?” he asks, trying not to laugh. He’s not going to indulge Jeongguk like this, not with a comment as weak as this one. If he wants to make him laugh, he’ll have to try harder.

“I don’t know,” Jeongguk smiles, truthfully. He grins a little, and then he adds, “It means… you dress well. And make yourself look good. Not that you don’t naturally look good, but…”

“You’re just making it worse at this point,” Taehyung says, playful. “If you say I decorate myself well then you make it sound like I’m a Christmas tree or something.”

“That’s not true!” Jeongguk says. “I just wanted to slip a compliment in there. I guess it hasn’t really worked, has it?”

“It hasn’t,” Taehyung says. “But thank you for saying I decorate myself well. I’ll try to appreciate it.”

“Please do,” Jeongguk says. They fall into silence, and Taehyung leans forward to leave his glass on the coffee table as well. When he’s done he turns again to look at Jeongguk, only to find his eyes already on him. “All I wanted to say… is that you look lovely tonight.”

“Thank you,” Taehyung replies, smiling a little. Truth is, he doesn’t look like anything special tonight, just the same as always. But if Jeongguk thinks that’s lovely—well, the compliment is well-received.

“You always look lovely,” Jeongguk carries on. “So, so lovely that it’s hard to understand. Come here.”

“What’s hard to understand?” Taehyung asks, not moving.

“How you can look so beautiful all the time,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung rolls his eyes, playfully. Then, Jeongguk insists, “Please, come here.”

Taehyung gives in. He slides in closer on the couch, and once they’re sitting side by side he angles his body towards Jeongguk, who was already looking at him. Jeongguk cups his cheek with his hand, thumb stroking Taehyung’s cheekbone.

After the last couple of months, Taehyung has grown used to Jeongguk. It’s wild to think how once he thought of Jeongguk as undecipherable, almost mysterious. Taehyung has learned to not mistake Jeongguk’s shyness as mysteriousness, and now he also knows that his formality and the impersonal politeness is just a shield. Again, a product of his shyness.

He wouldn’t say he fully knows Jeongguk, because he knows he doesn’t—far from it. He doesn’t know the whole picture of what Jeongguk’s life and his personality are, just small details, but they help. Taehyung feels comfortable around Jeongguk, especially now that he has gotten to know the goofy side that hides behind the young, successful businessman. He feels more at ease seeing how he is around his friends and co-workers, because somehow, that makes him feel safer. And with what he does, safety is what he needs the most.

But still, and regardless of everything that he ignores, one thing he has learned to do is to read Jeongguk’s emotions, to interpret his silence. That’s how he knows when Jeongguk is mustering up the courage to say something, or when he just wants to remain quiet, or when he wants to kiss him.

And right now, he knows that Jeongguk wants to kiss him.

Taehyung moves first, because he gets a little impatient at times. Jeongguk’s lips meet his halfway, the hand on his cheek moving to cup the back of his head as Jeongguk kisses him slowly, almost sweetly.

Sighing through his nose, Taehyung angles his head a little so he can kiss Jeongguk deeper. It doesn’t get rushed, but it definitely gets more heated as Jeongguk’s hand falls to the back of Taehyung’s neck, pulling him closer.

“Come here,” Jeongguk repeats. Taehyung almost gets déjà vu from the previous times Jeongguk had asked him this tonight, but this time around he obliges. He crosses one leg over Jeongguk’s before he straddles him, sitting on his thighs. “Good, baby.”

Taehyung surges forward again, catching Jeongguk’s lips for another kiss. His mouth is so, so hot against his, almost burning. He can still taste the twinge of the wine they were drinking from Jeongguk’s mouth, dragging him in even more.

In between kisses, Jeongguk mumbles, “Maybe I should take you to my bedroom. Maybe it will be decorated more to your tastes.”

Taehyung laughs, fingers tightening their hold around Jeongguk’s shoulders as he chuckles into his mouth.

“You think I’ll like it more, then?” he asks, lips brushing against Jeongguk’s when he speaks.

Jeongguk shivers. “Well, I don’t know,” he says. “But what I know is that I really want to see you in my bed right now.”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, looking at Jeongguk. It’s not often that he has these moments of shamelessness, but when he does, something about them makes Taehyung’s insides twist.

“Okay, then,” he agrees, watching Jeongguk’s lips curl up into a small smile. “Take me to bed, Jeongguk.”

 

 

Taehyung wakes up the next morning when the weak early February sun filters through the window, slightly warming his face up. He closes his eyes and stretches his limbs, letting out a rough, deep sound of comfort before looking around himself. He’s in Jeongguk’s bedroom, he realizes even before he looks to his right and sees him sleeping next to him—well, sees his back.

He takes his time to inspect the room this time around, since last time he was… well, way too preoccupied with other things to pay attention to the decoration. The wall behind them is a creamy color, but the rest of them are white. Jeongguk’s bed is both low and big; very, very big. The white duvet and sheets contrast against the wood of the headboard and the bedside tables that are directly attached to it. The flooring is a creamy carpet that looks so soft to the touch, and scattered over it there are even more cushions than Taehyung remembers, all of them dark brown with different patterns.

To their right there's a full-length mirror, and next to it a shelf and a long, tall plant, a detail that makes Taehyung smile. Opposite them, a TV and a PS4, from what Taehyung can see, along with the door to the corridor. There are no traces of a wardrobe, but to their left there are two doors, and Taehyung guesses one of them leads to an ensuite bathroom, and the other one to a walk-in closet.

But what catches Taehyung’s attention the most is the frames. One is by Jeongguk’s bed, on the bedside table by Taehyung’s side. On it he can see Jeongguk alongside Seokjin and Namjoon, the three of them smiling with the sea behind them. They don’t look much younger than they are now, so Taehyung figures it must have been taken in the last year. It’s nice to see Namjoon and Seokjin dressing down for a change.

The other picture is on the shelf next to the mirror. Taehyung’s not very close to it, but he still can make out the three people who are in it. In the middle is Jeongguk, and this time he does look younger than he is right now. He was probably fresh out of high school when it was taken. And around him there’s a man and a woman, presumably Jeongguk’s parents. They’re smiling to the camera, all of them very dolled up and carefully dressed and without one hair out of place.

Taehyung tilts his head. He’s curious about what Jeongguk’s parents look like, whether he resembles them or not. He’s too far away from the picture to take a good look at it and clear his doubts, so he makes a mental note to discreetly ogle it before leaving.

 It’s only then that his focus diverts from his surroundings and falls on Jeongguk, who is still asleep by his side. He’s on his side and facing away from Taehyung, so when he woke up all he could see was his naked back and the mess that his dark hair turned into overnight. Taehyung is now sitting on the bed, so when he leans forward he can see Jeongguk’s face. There’s something incredibly peaceful about Jeongguk’s expression, and the way his hair falls over his eyes. But what really makes Taehyung’s mouth tilts up at the corners is his mouth—his lips are slightly parted and he’s snoring softly.

Taehyung bites back a smile.

He reaches out for his phone and leans back against his pillow. At this point in his life, he knows better than to leave without saying a word while a client is asleep—the last thing they need is to feel like they’ve been rejected in that way.

From their trip to Osaka, Taehyung knows that Jeongguk is a heavy sleeper. He tosses around in bed, and like Taehyung himself witnessed, he undresses as well—although this time around there were no clothes to shed off. And, something else Taehyung was able to observe is that Jeongguk is not very… energetic in the morning. He woke up without complaints whenever he had to leave for his meeting, yeah, but the pout as soon as the alarm went off and the way he dragged his feet on the floor as he walked around the room were proof enough that he’d rather be sleeping. So, the wait for Taehyung to leave might be long.

Luckily, it’s still pretty early and Taehyung doesn’t have anything scheduled for the rest of the day, so there’s no rush for him. Losing a working day is not ideal, but the truth is that in his night with Jeongguk he made up for it. And so, he decides to entertain himself scrolling through Instagram and checking what notifications he has from the escorting app.

It’s not too long until Jeongguk finally wakes up. He turns around to face Taehyung’s direction, groaning as he hides his face in the pillows. Taehyung has his doubts about whether Jeongguk is awake or not until he huffs, lifting his head up and rubbing his eyes.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Taehyung greets, only getting a grunt in response. “You okay there?”

“Bright,” is what Jeongguk says. Taehyung smiles a little. “You’re awake early.”

“It’s not that early anymore,” Taehyung says. He watches Jeongguk’s expression turn into a confused one. He looks like he’s still more asleep than awake.

“Ah…” says Jeongguk. He rolls back on his back again, covering his eyes with his palms as he stretches his legs. After taking a long breath, he says, “I’m sleepy.”

Taehyung laughs. “I can tell that much,” he says. Jeongguk takes his hands away from his eyes, looking up at Taehyung, who reaches forward and brushes Jeongguk’s hair off his forehead with his fingers, softly. “You can go back to sleep if you want.”

“No,” Jeongguk says, shaking his head a little. His hand shoots up and he wraps his fingers around Taehyung’s wrist, but he doesn’t make any efforts to make him stop or put his hand away. “Would you like to have breakfast?”

Taehyung hums. He has enough time to stay for breakfast, certainly. Plus, and this is something that has caught Taehyung’s attention since he started requesting his services, Jeongguk always asks. He asks Taehyung if he wants to join him and his friends, asks him if he wants to go to his home, asks him if he wants to stay for breakfast. Taehyung is used to commands—commands he has agreed to beforehand, yeah, but still commands. It feels nice to be asked.

“Okay,” he says, nodding. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? “What are we having?”

“Whatever you want,” Jeongguk replies. “I think I have what we need to make pancakes or waffles. Also oranges to make juice, bread, probably butter—”

“Okay, Mr. Supermarket,” Taehyung says jokingly, pressing his index finger against Jeongguk’s lips to shush him. “We should probably get to the kitchen and check what you have. We can decide there. Sound good?”

“That’s actually a good idea, yes,” Jeongguk agrees.

They get out of bed and Jeongguk picks up a big t-shirt from the floor, what Taehyung assumes he uses as pajamas, from where he threw it last night when they got in bed. Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, looking at his—expensive—shirt from where it’s lying on the floor. Yeah, there’s no way he’s going to wear that to cook breakfast. Especially if they’re considering making pancakes.

So he asks, “Can you give me a t-shirt or something?”

“You can use my shirt from last night,” he says. Taehyung gives him a look. “…Or not. I can get you something else, if—”

“A nice, good shirt? For cooking?” Taehyung asks. Jeongguk nods. “You’re braver than the US marines.”

Jeongguk chuckles at that. “And you like to exaggerate a whole lot. Come on, let’s go make breakfast.”

Taehyung quickly slips into both his own briefs and his socks, putting Jeongguk’s shirt on as he walks towards the kitchen. Both of them are very close in size, so the shirt fits him quite well.

Turns out, Jeongguk does quite well by himself in the kitchen. Despite years living away from home, Taehyung still wouldn’t consider himself a good cook—he’s always asking Jimin for help. He never bothered to learn, so… It’s not like Jeongguk is a chef, but at least he looks confident in himself enough to not look like he might burn the house down accidentally.

Taehyung can’t relate.

They end up settling for pancakes, which is easy and delicious enough, in addition to something that Taehyung knows how to make. They make the mix from scratch even if Jeongguk has the premade one, since Taehyung is feeling adventurous.

Once their food is done they eat sitting on the stools by Jeongguk’s countertop; Taehyung teases Jeongguk about his bedhead and Jeongguk teases Taehyung about how he buttoned the shirt up, skipping one button and leaving one side higher than the other. Taehyung has fun, and for a moment there it’s easy to forget what the reason behind all of this is—money.

Because it’s hard to remember that this is his job once they’re done eating, when he was ready to leave for the bedroom to get dressed and leave but Jeongguk stops him with an arm around his waist. Taehyung starts to turn his head to look at Jeongguk, but soon enough he feels the warmth of his body around his, Jeongguk’s hand falling to his hip as the other one tangles his fingers with Taehyung’s.

“Jeongguk?” he asks, a little bit lost.

“Taehyung,” Jeongguk replies. When Taehyung turns his head to look at Jeongguk it becomes evident how close they are, faces mere inches apart.

“What are you doing?” Taehyung asks, the corner of his mouth lifting up into a smile.

“Turn around,” Jeongguk mumbles, softly. Taehyung obliges, and as soon as he’s facing Jeongguk he feels the other’s hands fall on each of his hips, holding them. “We should dance.”

“Dance?” asks Taehyung, skeptic. His arms still go to Jeongguk’s shoulders, despite his question. “To what?”

“Aish,” Jeongguk complains. He still moves away from Taehyung, who blinks in surprise as he watches Jeongguk move across the living room and go get his phone. “Let me put some music on. Any suggestions?”

“Anything goes,” Taehyung says, now curious about what Jeongguk will put on. “Surprise me.”

Jeongguk smiles, throwing his head back as he taps away on his phone. The first chords of a song that Taehyung doesn’t know start playing, Taehyung noticing right away that Jeongguk has his phone connected to the speakers next to the TV. Before Taehyung has the time to register anything else, Jeongguk is leaving his phone next to their abandoned glasses of wine from last night.

He’s right back with Taehyung in an instant, and when his hands hold Taehyung’s hips this time around, he brings him even closer than before. Taehyung swallows down, resting his arms on Jeongguk’s shoulders and allowing his hands to touch the back of his neck. Taehyung has never been a big fan of slow dancing, but he follows Jeongguk as he starts to move, swaying slowly.

At first Jeongguk looks down, avoiding Taehyung’s eyes in what feels almost like shyness. Taehyung stares at him, something inside of him practically aching for Jeongguk to look up and meet his eyes until he finally does.

It’s hard to think of this as his job. Maybe it’s because he’s been caught off guard, or maybe it’s because Jeongguk has already managed to go through many of the walls that Taehyung puts between him and his clients, be it because he has destroyed them or because Taehyung himself has opened a door for him.

And it just keeps happening again and again. Jeongguk hums softly to the song, body moving alongside Taehyung’s, and Taehyung can physically feel things getting complex. The weight of Jeongguk’s hands on his hips, the sweet rumble of his voice—all of it just makes things more difficult.

Think I like you best when you're dressed in black from head to toe,” sings Jeongguk, his pink lips moving in a way that is almost hypnotizing. “Think I like you best when you're just with me, and no one else.

Taehyung throws his head back and laughs, perhaps to ignore the way his heart skips a beat. This moment, this morning as a whole feels so surreal, Taehyung wonders if he’s still sleeping in Jeongguk’s bed and making it all up.

“What are we doing, Jeongguk?” he asks. At this point, he doesn’t even know what’s going on, but he knows that something is shifting. And he knows that Jeongguk must know as well.

“Dancing,” Jeongguk replies, simply. And really, Jeongguk gets the question—he’s too smart not to, just like Taehyung is too smart to believe that Jeongguk doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But at this moment that seems like the easier answer. Taehyung likes easy, so he just nods along as Jeongguk repeats, “We’re dancing.”

And I'm kissing you lying in my room

Holding you until you fall asleep

And it's just as good as I knew it would be

Stay with me I don't want you to leave

And so, they dance. With Taehyung’s arms around Jeongguk’s neck and their eyes on each other; with Jeongguk’s hands on his hips and their feet moving to the music. He doesn’t question it, because it’s simpler. They sway on their impromptu dance floor on Jeongguk’s carpet, and right at this moment, Taehyung feels like the world has stopped.

 

 

Self-awareness is one of Taehyung’s best qualities, if you ask him. He’s the first one to notice things that directly involve and concern him, before anyone tells him.

So when Jimin starts ranting to him about how he’s getting himself into a mess with Jeongguk, Taehyung is not surprised. He already knew.

“You slow danced with him in his living room,” Jimin asks, incredulous. Taehyung nods. “In hours he was not paying for.”

 “That’s what I said,” confirms Taehyung.

He wasn’t expecting Jimin to agree with what he’s doing—in fact, he should have seen this coming. He himself realizes how incredibly stupid this is, and knows that the smarter decision is to make the difference in how he treats Jeongguk disappear. Jeongguk is a client. No matter how Taehyung feels like he connects with him, Jeongguk is just one amongst others, and he’s no different from the rest of them.

But if Taehyung knows that, why can’t he act like it?

“That’s bad,” Jimin says. “Taehyung…”

“It’s not that deep,” Taehyung interrupts.

It’s only a half-truth. Sure, right now it’s not that deep; it’s just fun, lighthearted. But Taehyung and Jimin agreed on… some limits when they first started doing this. Limits that they’d have to remind each other of if the day ever came. Taehyung always thought that it wouldn't—he has never found himself particularly interested in any of his clients, to be honest. None of them seemed adequate—they weren’t the right age, or they were too boring, too shallow, too something or too little something.

Jeongguk is not perfect, far from it. But for some stupid reason Taehyung finds himself interested.

“Yet,” Jimin points out. The dreaded word. Yet. “It’s a client, Taehyung.”

“But there really is nothing to worry about,” Taehyung insists. “You told me yourself—it’s good to let go with clients a little bit, to have fun. I never have because I never found anyone I wanted to unwind with. But with Jeongguk I’m more comfortable.

“That’s exactly what worries me,” Jimin says, frowning a little.

“But you do this all the time,” Taehyung says. “So you, better than anyone, know that this is not harmless, per se.”

“You said it yourself—it’s not harmless, per se. But I am worried of what it might turn into,” Jimin says. Taehyung just sighs, not knowing what else to say. Jeongguk might pique his interest and Taehyung is aware that if things progress they will turn… hard. But this awareness is what will help to make this stop before it goes too far. “I just… You never do this. Why now? Why him?”

“I’m not sure,” Taehyung replies. “But I got this. I know what I’m doing. Minnie, I’ve been doing this for as long as you have. I know what the risks are.”

“I know you do,” Jimin says, nodding. “But I don’t want you to get in a sticky situation.”

“I won’t,” Taehyung rushes to add. “Jimin, please.”

The last thing he wants is to concern Jimin. The pact they made when they started doing this is to take care of each other, no matter what. Even if one of them quits before the other, they both had agreed to stay by each other’s side forever—or at least, for as long as they kept doing this. Jimin is Taehyung’s biggest support, and vice versa. He doesn’t want him to worry, especially over something as stupid as this.

“Okay,” Jimin says, sighing. “But remember the rules, Taehyung. Stick to them.”

The rules, ah. Taehyung knows the rules by heart, even if he doesn’t have to remind himself of them very often. They’re just a few guidelines that Jimin and he chose for safety measures, stuff they promised themselves that they could never, never break. Ever.

Because of circumstances, Taehyung has already broken the first of the rules with Jeongguk—don’t give out your real name. The other ones are still intact: don’t ever agree to something that you don’t totally feel comfortable with, always keep your phone off when you’re away from a client, don’t reach out to anyone first. They’re all stuff that Taehyung has never skipped, because they are logical.

The most logical of them all is the last one, though. They decided to include it just for dramatic purposes—he remembers sitting with Jimin on the carpet of the latter’s bedroom three years ago, writing them down on a piece of paper that they still keep somewhere in the apartment.

Jimin had said it out loud and Taehyung had shoved him, telling him that there was no way in hell that was happening. But in the end, they decided to include it. Just because.

Taehyung rests his chin on his hand, looking down at the table. If he closes his eyes, he still can see it, written in Jimin’s messy handwriting. Don’t ever fall in love with a client.

Chapter Text

Every once in a while, Taehyung gets some propositions on the escorting app that are a little outside of what he is used to. Sometimes, they're weird fetishes that he wants nothing to do with. Others, they involve sketchy places, so he declines them without a second thought. But what he’s just received—well, he didn’t see this one coming at all.

It’s from a regular client of his, a man in his fifties called Hyungkwan. When he first saw the notification that he had a new message from him, Taehyung really didn’t think much of it—he probably just wanted to meet up with him. It had been a while since the last time.

But once Taehyung actually tapped on it, he quite literally spat his drink out.

Hello, Tae. I am aware it has truly been a while since the last time I contacted you, or required your services. That does not mean that I have lost interest in you—quite the opposite is happening. I have had an idea in my head for the last couple of months, and I had to make up my mind about it before bringing it up to you. I have been doing my research, and I want to become to you what people refer to as a sugar daddy. I would pay for all your living expenses, and spoil you with everything you could ever want or need, and much more. In exchange for that, I only ask for weekly dates and exclusivity. Kind regards, Hyungkwan.

As soon as he’s done reading, Taehyung lets out a cackle. Jimin looks at him alarmed from the other side of their kitchen table, where both of them are sitting as they have breakfast. Taehyung was on his phone as Jimin paid attention to some random TV show airing, but his attention is diverted to Taehyung as soon as he starts laughing.

“What’s so funny?” he asks, curiosity written all over his face.

“Oh my God, Hyungkwan just messaged me,” Taehyung says, rereading over it. Something about the tone of it seems incredibly awkward to Taehyung. That, added to the proposition itself, just makes Taehyung burst into laughter. “Just—see for yourself, please.”

“Let me see,” Jimin mumbles, taking Taehyung’s phone as he hands it to him. As soon as he gets it in his hand and starts reading, his eyebrows shoot up. A small, diverted smile appears on his face. When he’s done, he says, “My God. What are you gonna say?”

“I’ll say no,” replies Taehyung without hesitation. “I don’t want those kinds of ties with any client of mine, having to listen to each one of their whims whenever they want. Plus, he wants exclusivity. And that’d mean losing money.”

“Do you think so? Sugar daddies can be quite generous,” Jimin replies, resting his cheek on his hand.

“You know we work a lot,” Taehyung says. “I don’t think it’d be worth it.”

Jimin nods, humming. The truth is that the work they do, and at the level they do it, a lot is made. Most of the escorts Taehyung knows and the ones whose testimonies he has read online to document himself just worked at night, or as a side job. Not Taehyung and Jimin. It is their main job, and they work morning, afternoon, and evening. Which is why they make the kind of money they do.

“Let him down easy,” Jimin says with a teasing smile, handing him his phone back. “You know how they get when they’re heartbroken.”

“Ugh—don’t even remind me,” Taehyung says, shaking his head. Last thing he needs is to deal with a bitter client giving him bad reviews on the app just because he’s been rejected. Taehyung has a reputation—and a rating—to maintain, thank you very much.

He’s about to reply, thumbs hovering over the keyboard, but he doesn’t really know what to say. Which is why he decides to think about it before finally sending a message back. He has all day, after all.

 

 

Thursday evening finds Taehyung joining Jeongguk, Namjoon and Yoongi for dinner at Ryunique. Going out for dinner with Jeongguk and his friends has become a routine, one that Taehyung has fallen quite easily into. They go out at least once a week, even if there isn’t anything worth celebrating. Just for the sake of it. And on the rare occasions when that doesn’t happen, Jeongguk calls him so the two of them can have dinner on their own.

At this point, Taehyung considers Jeongguk another regular. He remembers his conversation with Jimin months ago where Jimin told him about how Jeongguk would probably keep coming back. Three is the magic number, he had said. And he was right.

Which is why he’s where he is now, he guesses. After all the times he has seen them, Taehyung is pretty sure that Jeongguk’s friends have started to consider him someone else from their circle now. Maybe even a friend. And Taehyung, well—he’d consider them friends, except he knows he can’t make friends like this. Not when he lies to them, when they think his name is Taeyong, when they think he’s a stylist. When all they think they know about Taehyung is… simply not true.

They’re talking about the wedding of one of their coworkers, and about how Jeongguk doesn’t want to go. Taehyung finds amusing how insistent on skipping he is—almost like a petulant child. It’s quite endearing.

“Weddings are boring,” Jeongguk says. “The only wedding I am going to is yours, and that's because I’m a good friend. But any other one? Yeah, miss me with that shit. I’m not going.”

“And then what are you going to say?” Namjoon asks, the voice of reason. He’s trying to convince Jeongguk to go, but to no avail. Jeongguk is adamant. “It’s a co-worker. This is co-worker etiquette.”

“Which is why I don’t want to go,” Jeongguk points out. “I don’t care for her or her wedding. I just don’t get why you’re obligated to invite every single person you know to your wedding, just like I don’t get why you’re obligated to attend to the weddings of people you know.”

“Free nice food?” Taehyung interjects, Yoongi smiling at the comment. Jeongguk frowns at him.

“You should be on my side,” Jeongguk says. “Otherwise, you’ll find yourself stuck at the wedding as well. So I wouldn’t stick by Namjoon.”

The three of them laugh, but Jeongguk looks at Taehyung dead serious. “I can’t believe you’re threatening me with making me your plus one at a wedding,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk’s façade breaks for a fraction of a second as his mouth tilts up in a small smile, but he goes back to being serious seconds later.

“So it’s not working.”

“Not at all,” Taehyung replies, smiling a little. “I love weddings.”

Jeongguk groans a little, shaking his head. “Of course you do,” he says. “Always the social butterfly.”

Taehyung laughs. With all the time they have spent together, especially around other people that Taehyung doesn’t know, it’s not a wild guess that Taehyung is a social butterfly. But he still is a little bit surprised that Jeongguk noticed and decided to bring it up. He shouldn’t be—it’s not even like it’s a part of himself he’s trying to hide. Both Taehyung and Taeyong are social, so Jeongguk picking up on it doesn’t mean anything. This is something he’s showing deliberately, he reminds himself.

But he can’t help but be paranoid, especially after Jimin warned him to be careful. He knows that from an outsider’s perspective, Jimin can look at everything coolly, without being involved. Taehyung is afraid of getting too roped in and fucking up, and even if he told Jimin he did have everything under control, he’s starting to wonder if there's much truth to that.

“You can always confirm the RSVP and then cancel last minute, saying you have a stomach bug,” Yoongi suggests. Taehyung appreciates it—it distracts him from his thoughts, and the last thing he needs right now is to start overthinking in the middle of a restaurant. “That way, you don’t have to give any awkward explanations of why you’re not going.”

“That’s actually a good idea,” Jeongguk says, nodding along. “I’ll do that, buy her something from the gift list and then say I got sick. I’m sure she won’t mind.”

“You two are terrible,” Namjoon complains. Then he looks at Yoongi and adds, “You are not getting faux-sick.”

“I know I don’t have a choice but to go with you, but I was just trying to help Jeongguk out,” Yoongi says. Namjoon rolls his eyes, fondly. “Being social at weddings is just terribly exhausting, babe.”

“Thank you!” Jeongguk exclaims, gesturing towards Yoongi with both his palms. “The only good thing about them is the food. And it takes ages to come.”

“The free alcohol is nice, too,” Yoongi says, nodding a little.

“But not the token drunk person,” adds Taehyung. “It can be funny from afar, but if you have to deal with them…”

“I really can’t believe all of you,” says Namjoon, shaking his head a little. Taehyung smiles—Namjoon is just trying to get them to go along and follow the etiquette, but they’re making it hard for him. It’s very endearing, if you ask him. “I can’t believe you two are not going. Seokjin won’t be happy, either.”

“So you admit it’ll be boring?” Jeongguk says, smiling deviously now that his point has been proven.

“I think the only shot at it being alright is if all of us are there,” Yoongi says. Namjoon nods, by his side. “But if you really don’t want to come…”

“I’ll see what I do,” Jeongguk says. He reaches out for Taehyung’s hand and gives it a squeeze. “We’ll see what we do.”

Taehyung smiles a little, looking at him. Jeongguk is practically convinced, at this point, so Taehyung can already see himself attending the wedding. Not that it’s a problem for him, anyway. He loves weddings and he loves Jeongguk’s paychecks, so…

“That’s right, honey,” Taehyung says. “We’ll see.”

 

 

Taehyung and Jeongguk have their after-dinner-cigarette together in front of the restaurant, after parting ways with Yoongi and Namjoon. They have more than an hour of their time together left, still. And because of the routine they have fallen into ever since they went to Osaka, Taehyung can’t say he’s surprised when Jeongguk asks whether he wants to go home with him.

Unsurprisingly enough, Taehyung agrees. Jeongguk is exceptionally talkative tonight, chattering Taehyung’s ear away as he drives. It’s another of the things about Jeongguk that Taehyung has seen change ever since they started seeing each other. Once he grew past his initial shyness, he turned out to be quite chatty himself.

They get there in no time. Taehyung is starting to get familiar with Jeongguk’s apartment now, after having been here a few times. It even smells familiar to him, but that’s probably because it’s just Jeongguk’s scent multiplied by hundred.

“Get yourself comfortable,” Jeongguk replies once they’ve stepped in, shoes now gone.

“Already comfortable,” Taehyung replies, shedding off his jacket. He’s with his back to Jeongguk, but even before spinning around to face him he can feel his eyes on him. “So why’d you bring me here? What are your plans, hm?”

Taehyung already knows the answer, of course. Jeongguk must sense that, because instead of replying he takes one step forward, placing his hands on Taehyung’s hips and bringing him a little closer. Taehyung smirks.

The first kiss comes then, Jeongguk pressing his lips against Taehyung’s. His kisses are not tentative at the beginning like they used to be—it’s not like Jeongguk is kissing him hard now, but he’s firm. Taehyung gladly kisses him back, welcoming Jeongguk’s mouth on his.

Jeongguk’s hands move to his face, cupping his cheeks as he deepens the kiss. It’s then that he starts walking, pushing Taehyung backward. He’s not confident enough in his knowledge of the place yet, so he lets Jeongguk guides him as he clings to his waist with both hands.

He’s taken by surprise by the feeling of the edge of the bed against the back of his legs, falling on the mattress as Jeongguk lets out a laugh from where he’s standing. Once he’s past his shock from the fall, Taehyung smiles, raising an eyebrow as he observes Jeongguk starting to unbutton his shirt.

Once the piece of clothing is away, Jeongguk leans down on the bed and straddles Taehyung, pulling him into a kiss. Jeongguk kisses him hurriedly now, and also a little more messily—their foreheads bump and their teeth clack together, but Taehyung is too into the kiss to notice. He starts taking his own clothes off as well, hands clumsily shedding his shirt off before it joins Jeongguk’s on the floor.

Soon enough they’re both in their underwear, Taehyung flipping them around so he’s on top of Jeongguk’s thighs. He bites down on his bottom lip as he looks down at the man under him, lips swollen red and hair already a mess.

“Cute,” he says, letting the tips of his fingers tickle the sides of Jeongguk’s thighs.

“What is?” Jeongguk asks, looking confused.

“You are,” Taehyung replies, leaning down so he can press a quick kiss against Jeongguk’s mouth. “You’re cute.”

Taehyung dives in for another kiss, trapping Jeongguk’s bottom lip between his, but it becomes a failed attempt as Jeongguk laughs into his mouth. “Thank you,” he replies when Taehyung pulls back a little, just enough so Jeongguk’s lips brush against his when he speaks. “I’m glad you think I’m cute.”

Taehyung doesn’t reply—instead, he pulls Jeongguk in for yet another kiss, biting down on his bottom lip and making him moan. He’s feeling particularly eager tonight, and although he doesn’t know why he’s planning on making the most out of it.

At some point during their making out he starts grinding on Jeongguk’s lap, feeling his dick harden under him. Taehyung lets out an appreciate sound, rubbing his ass against Jeongguk’s erection a little harder. That arouses him as well, the tent in the front of his jeans growing in size at the motion.

“T-Taehyung,” Jeongguk manages to get out, voice strained. The want and the neediness in his voice make Taehyung want to kiss him even harder. “Do something.”

“Oh, but honey,” Taehyung says, grinding especially hard and causing Jeongguk to hiss. “I’m doing plenty.”

“You’re a fucking tease,” Jeongguk says, almost in a whine. “You know what I mean.”

Taehyung does, of course he does. He sits straight, letting his hands wander down Jeongguk’s torso, watching the way his abdomen contracts when he brushes the tip of his fingers over it. Taehyung’s eyes shift from the expanse of Jeongguk’s torso to his eye, cracking a little smile when he sees Jeongguk stare at him intensely.

Taehyung, who was still sitting right on top of Jeongguk’s dick, moves back a little, the friction causing Jeongguk to moan loudly. He looks down, watching the way Jeongguk’s hard cock stretches the material of his underwear, a small and damp patch beginning to form on the front of it.

“So hot,” Taehyung says, taking his finger down and tracing the outline of Jeongguk’s cock with the tip of his finger. “You’re so hot.”

The only response he gets from Jeongguk is a choked noise. His hips buck up a little, as much as Taehyung’s weight on top of his thighs allows. Taehyung sighs through his nose, dragging the pad of his finger against the head of Jeongguk’s cock and watching him clench his jaw.

They may have had sex on only a few occasions, but Taehyung is a fast and efficient learner. He’s starting to know Jeongguk’s buttons and how to push them, so in a matter of minutes he has Jeongguk squirming under them, his cock leaking pre-come from where it’s still covered by his underwear.

His intention was to keep teasing Jeongguk, really. There is something incredibly exhilarating about this and about the way Jeongguk writhes beneath him, and it makes him feel so, so wanted by him. But then Jeongguk is reaching up with his arm and pulling him down for a kiss that catches Taehyung off guard, eyes widening in surprise before fluttering shut.

Jeongguk kisses him deeply before flipping both of them around again, placing himself on top of Taehyung yet again. When he pulls away from Taehyung he gives him a look that makes Taehyung’s toes curl in anticipation, electricity running down his body.

He lets out an approving noise when Jeongguk ducks down and starts kissing his jaw, making his way down his neck and collarbones. Jeongguk’s mouth is hot and wet against his skin as he trails his way down Taehyung’s chest and abdomen, teeth nibbling softly on his tummy and making Taehyung thread his fingers in his hair.

“What are you gonna do?” Taehyung asks when Jeongguk starts to pull down his underwear, his briefs sliding down his legs.

“Eat you out,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung bites down on his lower lip out of instinct. “Can I?”

“Fuck, yes,” Taehyung says. “Yes, yes, yes.”

“Good,” Jeongguk says with a self-satisfied smile. “Part your legs for me then, pretty.”

Taehyung obeys, maybe embarrassingly fast. He parts his legs for Jeongguk, who kisses and bites the insides of his thighs, making Taehyung take a shaky breath.

“Come on,” Taehyung urges. He can feel each one of Jeongguk’s breaths against his balls, which is making his dick twitch. That, added to the anticipation, and there you have him going crazy. Crazy, and still untouched.

“You need to learn to be less demanding,” says Jeongguk. There’s a teasing note to his voice, but Taehyung still feels the defying undertone to it. And for some reason, it riles him up so much. “Part your legs further.”

“I’m just fine,” Taehyung says, spreading his legs and holding them open by hooking his hands on the bends of his knees. He’s lying on his back, and like this, he’s totally spread and truly ready for whatever Jeongguk wants to give him. “Maybe you just need to comply better.”

Jeongguk hums, placing his hands on Taehyung’s ass cheeks. Taehyung bites down on his lips to suppress a sound when he feels the tip of Jeongguk’s finger brush over his puckered hole.

He’s definitely not ready for the wet, warm feeling of Jeongguk’s tongue taking a tentative lick at him. Taehyung hisses at it, but he barely has any time to recover before Jeongguk is dragging his tongue against his hole again, this time a broader and firmer stripe.

There is something about being eaten out that truly drives Taehyung crazy. The thing is, it’s not something that he gets very often. As an escort, he is often the one giving all the pleasure. It’s not very often that he gets blowjobs, but being rimmed? That happens once in a blue moon, and it’s probably Taehyung’s favorite thing.

Besides, it’s about the act itself. There’s a certain feeling of vulnerability that comes when he’s being eaten out, coming undone under someone’s mouth like this. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t do it all that often—because it’s more intimate, kind of? At least, it is to him.

And, well—Jeongguk is good. His few hesitant licks soon enough turn into full-on, intense eating out. He’s licking and sucking at Taehyung’s hole with abandon, pushing his tongue inside and making Taehyung want to press down into his face, get him deeper. He can’t get enough of it, and what makes it hotter is that Jeongguk doesn’t seem to be able to get enough of Taehyung either.

It’s messy. There’s not much finesse to the way in which Jeongguk rims him, spitting on his hole before he comes back to it. Taehyung doesn’t know in what moment his hand had gone back to Jeongguk’s hair, but he’s aware that he’s tugging at it, maybe a little hard. He also doesn’t miss the way that seems to turn Jeongguk on, making him moan against his ass as he keeps fucking him with his tongue.

When Jeongguk pulls back, Taehyung is disappointed for a fraction of a second. He already misses the way of Jeongguk licking at his hole, pushing his tongue inside and making him jolt in pleasure. But if there’s something better than this, that is the feeling of Jeongguk’s cock inside of him. And Taehyung knows that what comes after is exactly that.

“Lube,” Jeongguk says, mostly to himself as he starts crawling on the bed in the direction of his bedside table. “And condoms.”

“Fuck, get back here,” moans Taehyung as Jeongguk opens his drawer, reaching down to touch at his hole. It’s wet and slick with Jeongguk’s spit, but Taehyung knows better than to finger himself like this, so he just contents himself with teasing himself with his fingers. “Want it.”

“Want what?” Jeongguk asks, closing the drawer once he has gotten what he was looking for.

Taehyung doesn’t miss the way Jeongguk is looking at him in. There’s want and desire dripping from his eyes as he takes in the sight of Taehyung, reaching down as he rubs his fingers over his asshole. He must look like a fucking mess—he surely does feel like one. Cheeks hot and most likely red, hair tangled, cock hard and leaking over his belly, and legs parted and ready to welcome Jeongguk between them again. In addition, he swears he can still feel Jeongguk’s tongue turning him into a moaning mess, so saying he’s in literal heaven would be quite accurate.

“You know what,” Taehyung says. The look Jeongguk gives him tells him that his response wasn’t the correct answer. “Want your fucking cock inside me.”

“That’s better,” Jeongguk says. He starts to move then, placing himself in between Taehyung’s legs again. “Can’t wait to feel you around me either, babe.”

Taehyung doesn’t reply, just makes a noise in approval as Jeongguk gets the lube open. He’s way too needy to think of dirty talk right now, if he’s honest.

Jeongguk usually is slow and gentle as he fingers him, making sure he’s stretched. But it’s different today, probably because of how built up the two of them are already. Taehyung can’t complain, though—he’s just as needy as Jeongguk is, and it’s not like Jeongguk is being too hard or rough. He’d rather get it fast, if he’s brutally honest.

Jeongguk finds his prostate while fingering him, and he makes sure to get his revenge and tease Taehyung, making him clench hard around his fingers. Taehyung moans, feeling himself get closer to the edge every time Jeongguk thrusts his fingers right into his sweet spot.

He almost lets out a sigh of relief when Jeongguk retreats his finger, despite the feeling of emptiness that comes along with it. He knows that it will be soon, since Jeongguk is now opening the condom wrap and placing it on his cock, getting himself ready. He’s about to slick himself up when Taehyung sits back up, getting the lube from him.

“Let me do it,” he says, earning himself a puzzled look from Jeongguk. “I want to.”

Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, just nods. Taehyung squirms the lube on his palm before reaching for Jeongguk’s cock. The condom is already lubed up, but better to be safe than sorry, so Taehyung makes sure he’s properly slicked up. He lies on his back again then, using whatever lube was left on his hands to slick his hole up a little more.

“Now,” he says, looking at Jeongguk only to find Jeongguk already staring down at him. “Get in me now, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk obliges. Taehyung can’t help but shut his eyes and let himself enjoy the feeling of Jeongguk pushing into him, the drag of his cock against his walls now becoming familiar. He lolls his head back into the mattress, a low, “Yes,” escaping his lips.

Once Jeongguk is completely in he starts thrusting, slowly. His hips move rhythmically in and out of Taehyung, making him feel a little more desperate every time.

But Taehyung’s favorite part of it is probably the eye contact. When his eyes flutter open he finds Jeongguk’s already on his, dripping with lust and making a ball of fire ignite inside Taehyung. His mouth falls open in a low, small moan as Jeongguk fucks into him, and for some reason, the intensity in the way they are looking at each other makes him feel everything more strongly.

“Fuck,” Jeongguk grits out, sounding visibly altered already. “Fuck, Taehyung.”

Taehyung can’t help but let out a noise when he hears Jeongguk call out his name. Their pants and the wet squelch of Jeongguk fucking into him fill the room, alongside the occasional moan or whimper that falls from both their mouths.

It’s incredibly quiet compared to what Taehyung is used to, without the pretense of dirty talk or empty words. Don’t get him wrong, Taehyung loves himself some dirty talk, both being the one doing it or the one listening. But there’s also something about being able to hear everything that makes his toes curl. Besides, Jeongguk’s mouth is busy pressing kisses to the junction of Taehyung’s jaw and his neck, so he can’t really bring himself to complain.

Taehyung wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders, nails digging into the skin mercilessly. He doesn’t know if it hurts, hopefully not too much, but the feeling of Jeongguk thrusting into him is enough to cloud his judgement and make him not care too much. He feels like he’s drunk on pleasure, his legs circling Jeongguk’s small waist and squeezing tight.

“Yes,” he says, voice almost hushed. They have the entire penthouse to themselves, yet Taehyung’s moans are quiet and his words come out in a whisper. “More, Jeongguk. More.”

Jeongguk ducks down and pulls Taehyung in for a kiss, Taehyung kissing him back eagerly. Their lips slot together eagerly, and Jeongguk’s tongue curls around his and makes Taehyung let out a low pleasured sound into his mouth.

He speeds up, and Taehyung can’t help but let go of Jeongguk’s lips and arch his back, hissing a little. It just feels so good, with the way Jeongguk goes a little faster, making Taehyung’s pleasure intensify. He likes doing it like this, trapped under Jeongguk’s body as he fucks into him.

It’s then that he can’t hold back a broken moan, followed by a soft, “Fuck.”

Jeongguk makes a choked noise, biting a little on Taehyung’s neck and making him moan again. He’s taken off guard when he feels Jeongguk’s hands on his arms, taking them away from his shoulders. Taehyung is confused, but then Jeongguk is placing Taehyung’s hands above his own head on the mattress, pinning them down with one hand, and Taehyung understands.

It’s not like he’s being restraint, per se. Jeongguk’s hold on him is loose and he can break away from it whenever he wants. But the thing is that he doesn’t want to, because the gesture makes arousal wash all over Taehyung, intensifying everything he was already feeling.

Jeongguk’s rhythm eventually dissolves into fast, erratic thrusts. The faster he goes, the tighter his hold around Taehyung’s wrist gets, the louder Taehyung moans for him. He’s clenching his legs around Jeongguk’s waist now, feeling him thrust straight into his prostate, and he swears he’s melting.

“Touch me,” he commands then, feeling himself and Jeongguk get closer to the edge. “Make me come.”

One of Jeongguk’s hands leaves its place around his wrists only to wrap around Taehyung’s cock. Taehyung shudders at the contact, toes curling when Jeongguk starts to jerk him off in fast motions. The feeling of Jeongguk’s fist around him added to the pleasure of him fucking him is literally mind-blowing.

After that, he doesn’t last for too long. He stains his own belly white when he comes, Jeongguk’s name on his lips as he keeps fucking into him. The stimulation even after he has come makes him shaky, and by the time Jeongguk comes inside of the condom, a long moan uttered right against the skin of his neck, Taehyung feels like jelly.

Jeongguk balances his own weight on one arm, making sure he doesn’t collapse on top of Taehyung. He gets off him and takes the condom off before anything else, leaving it on his bedside table before he finally flops on to his bed and closes his eyes. Taehyung, who is still recovering from the intensity of his own orgasm, looks at him.

“You good?” he asks, watching the blissed expression on Jeongguk’s face. Of course he’s good. Better than that, Taehyung would say.

“I’m peachy,” Jeongguk replies, a small smile appearing on his face. Taehyung knows Jeongguk can’t see him, but he still smiles back. “You?”

“I’m peachy, too,” Taehyung replies. He doesn’t want to break the moment, nor Jeongguk’s peaceful afterglow moments, but he says, “I’m going to need to leave soon.”

He has a client to go to breakfast with tomorrow morning, so he wanted an early night. No sleeping over, like that one time. He wouldn’t mind telling Jeongguk, since he has shown no signs of discomfort whenever the two of them had previously discussed Taehyung’s profession, but he’s still oddly relieved when Jeongguk doesn’t ask anything.

“So early,” is what Jeongguk says, blinking his eyes open. “I’ll drive you home.”

“Please, you don’t have to,” replies Taehyung, laughing it off. “I’ll just call a taxi.”

“No, I mean it,” Jeongguk says. “I want to. I’ll drive you home, it’s no bother at all.”

Taehyung doesn’t know what to say, or how to decline the offer. In the end he agrees, because Jeongguk has taken him home before and his car is not only free, but also better than a taxi. Plus, it’s Jeongguk who’s inconveniencing himself.

They let themselves enjoy the tranquility and comfort of Jeongguk’s bed for a little more. Taehyung is lying on his side, back to Jeongguk as he texts Jimin, when he feels Jeongguk come from behind him and kiss his shoulder, biting playfully. He laughs and looks back, causing Jeongguk to pull him into a kiss, but Taehyung pulls back before it even has the chance to escalate into something else.

They get dressed in their clothes from before and go back to Jeongguk’s car that is starting to become all too familiar for Taehyung. He’s starting to feel drowsy and sleepy, partly because it’s late, and partly because of the sex. His hand rests over the console, brushing against Jeongguk’s as he holds the steering wheel with the other one, and at some point Jeongguk just reaches forward and intertwines their fingers together.

“You’re supposed to drive with two hands,” Taehyung teases, just for the sake of being annoying. Jeongguk laughs.

“Only losers drive with two hands,” is what he says, Taehyung smiling a little before he turns his attention back to the car window.

They get there eventually, Jeongguk parking right in front of Taehyung’s building. Taehyung sighs, unfastening his seatbelt lazily.

“Are you okay?” Jeongguk asks, watching him from the corner of his eye.

“Ah, yeah, I am,” replies Taehyung, accompanied by some laughter. He stretches his arms as much as the low roof of the car allows him too, letting out a pleased sound. “Today has just been quite surreal, that’s all.”

“Surreal?” Jeongguk repeats, voice tilting up in a question. Taehyung hums, affirmatively. “How come?”

“One of my clients messaged me this morning,” Taehyung starts explaining, Hyungkwan’s message popping back in his mind. “He offered to become my sugar daddy.”

“Your sugar daddy?” asks Jeongguk.

Maybe it’s Taehyung’s imagination, but he swears there’s a shift in the mood right there and then. He chooses to ignore it, replying, “Yeah, he messaged me on the app this morning.”

“You said no, right?” asks Jeongguk.

Now, Taehyung can see that it definitely wasn’t his imagination. Jeongguk sounds tenser, also more hostile. Taehyung doesn’t like his attitude in the slightest, neither can he make any sense out of it.

“Well, yeah,” Taehyung says. “I wasn’t interested. But what if I had decided to say yes?”

“I just think it’d be a pretty stupid move on your end,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung raises his eyebrows, looking at Jeongguk with the most passive expression he can manage. “I can pay you well, and I’m sure that sugar daddy agreement would require exclusivity.”

“It did, but it also involved a lot of money being sent my way,” Taehyung says. He was the first one to see the disadvantages of the sugar daddy plan, but he doesn’t like where the conversation is going one bit.

“I can pay you more,” Jeongguk says.

Taehyung laughs, sarcastically. Yes, Jeongguk pays him well—probably, out of all of his clients, he’s the most generous one. But that doesn’t mean he has any right to tell Taehyung what to do, or what not to do. He’s not going to let Jeongguk think that, no matter how much he pays him.

“Okay, Jeongguk,” he says. “Whatever you say. Just don’t tell me what to do.”

“I’m just saying it’d be stupid of you to get a sugar daddy, and also unnecessarily complicated,” Jeongguk says. “Don’t you get enough escorting?”

“Mind your own business,” Taehyung says. He’s not about to discuss this with Jeongguk, or with any client. Actually, he isn’t going to discuss this with anyone that isn’t Jimin.

He has always seen the openness he has with Jeongguk about escorting as something good, refreshing. Not a lot of clients are willing to face that Taehyung couldn’t give two fucks about them, so Jeongguk seemingly not caring was… good, even. But he hadn’t thought about what the cons might be—situations like this one. Jeongguk thinking he knows it all about his life and his income, Jeongguk thinking he knows what’s best for him, Jeongguk just sticking his nose in matters that don’t concern him.

And it’s just starting to piss Taehyung off.

“It’s just the truth,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung sighs, trying to stay calm, but then Jeongguk speaks again. “Don’t be so mad, princess.”

“I’m not princess,” Taehyung says. He is not going to stay here and let Jeongguk talk any more shit. He opens the door of the car and gets out. Once he’s on the street, Jeongguk watching him with a surprised expression, Taehyung leans forward so he can look at him and says, “Go fuck yourself with your stupid condescending pet names, Jeongguk. Fucking asshole.”

He doesn’t wait for a reply. Turning around, Taehyung slams the car door shut and reaches for his keys, entering the building without even checking to see Jeongguk’s reaction.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like too big of a deal for someone else, but Taehyung can’t stand that someone like Jeongguk has the guts to tell him what to do. Jeongguk, who has grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth and was offered a job like the one he has just because he’s the son of someone. He’s not trying to disregard Jeongguk’s work, he’s sure he has put effort in to get where he is, but he’s also incredibly privileged. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be in the situation Taehyung is, so maybe he should shut the fuck and mind his own fucking business.

He doesn’t mean to slam the front door shut when he gets into the apartment, but he still does. It causes Jimin to leave the bedroom and appear in the corridor with an alarmed expression, already wearing his pajamas.

“Taetae?” he asks.

Taehyung reads the what happened in his tone, so he straight up replies, “Jeongguk is a fucking asshole.”

Jimin’s mouth parts, a little surprised. He probably didn’t see it coming, since Taehyung has always spoken well of Jeongguk. If he’s honest, not even Taehyung himself thought this would happen.

“Oh, love,” Jimin says, reaching forward and taking Taehyung’s wrist in his hand. “Let’s go to the bedroom, let’s get you comfortable and then we can shit talk him until dawn, yeah?”

Taehyung nods. Shit talking Jeongguk. Right now, that sounds like a motherfucking good plan.

 

 

Taehyung knows he has unread messages from Jeongguk in the escorting app, but he’s ignoring every single one of them. He can see the previews, and sees that the first one starts with an apology, but he doesn’t feel in the mood for reading them. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a week, maybe never.

His quest of ignoring him is going very well. He’s as determined—some would say petty—as he is petty, so yeah, he doesn’t have any interest in forgiveness. At least not yet, with the fight still present in his mind.

He’s startled when his phone starts ringing by his side, a call incoming. He frowns, not only because he very rarely receives phone calls, but also because it’s from an unknown number.

“Hello, who’s speaking?” he asks when he picks up, not knowing what to expect. Maybe some distant relative that suddenly remembered his existence, or an old friend.

What he definitely wasn’t expecting to hear was Jeongguk’s voice. “Hello, Taehyung,” he says.

“What the fuck,” Taehyung says, sitting up on the bed. “How do you have my number?”

He knows for sure that he hasn’t given Jeongguk his number. This is one of the most forbidden things, Jesus. He’s not about to give one of his clients his personal contact details. Yet… there he is, calling him.

“You left your phone unlocked when you went to pee one night in Osaka and I texted myself,” Jeongguk says. “Either way, I have a proposition to you.”

“You did what?” Taehyung asks, eyes widening. “That’s so fucking creepy, oh my God. You’re a fucking creep.”

“I’m not. I even left the text there, hoping you’d notice, but…”

“It’s still creepy, what the fuck, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says. “Did you do anything else? Oh my fucking God, I can’t believe you really—”

“I have no interest in what’s on your phone, just like I didn’t have any interest in your phone number. It was just meant to be a joke, but you never really noticed, so…” Taehyung doesn’t really say anything, not knowing what to reply. So not only has Jeongguk been downgraded to dickhead now, but also to creepy dickhead. That’s just great. “As I was saying, I have a proposition.”

“I don’t give a flying shit about your proposition,” Taehyung is quick to reply.

“Meet with me tonight,” is what Jeongguk says. Taehyung scoffs.

“I told you that you have to book appointments in advance,” Taehyung reminds him, irritated. “I have more clients than you, don’t you know?”

“Oh, trust me, I’m very aware of that,” Jeongguk says. Something about his tone makes Taehyung want to scoff again, but he holds it back. He really doesn’t want to argue anymore, especially not over the phone. “Please, agree. I promise I’ll make it worth your time.”

“Worth my time how, exactly?” Taehyung asks, unimpressed.

“Twice as much as I pay any other night,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung raises his eyebrows, skeptic. “It’s more than you could make with anyone else, and we both know that.”

“Maybe I just don’t want to go out with you,” Taehyung says. He doesn’t like Jeongguk telling him what his best options are, not at all. He’s his own boss for a reason, so the last thing he needs is one of his clients thinking he can control what he does, or who he chooses to see. “Especially after the whole phone episode.”

“I’m not going to force you to come, but I’ve sent a package to your apartment with what I want you to wear tonight, if you decide to come. I’ll text you the address where I want us to meet.” Taehyung opens his mouth, unable to come up with a reply. Is he for real? “I’ll see you later, maybe.”

“Fuck off,” barks Taehyung into the phone, hanging up before Jeongguk has a chance to.

Taehyung is fuming, really. He wishes Jimin wasn’t out, because he really needs to vent right now. He can’t wait for him to arrive so the shit talking from last night can resume, really.

He’s so angry he completely forgets about the package that Jeongguk said was on the way. It arrives less than one hour after the call, and although Taehyung wasn’t going to open it at first, his curiosity gets the best of him. He gets a knife and moves to his bed, opening it intrigued.

Jeongguk commented that he’d send him what he wanted him to wear, but Taehyung hadn’t thought much about it. From what Jeongguk had asked him to wear before, he was expecting just some dress pants and a ridiculously expensive shirt.

Well, he couldn’t be more wrong. Inside the package there is a burgundy slip dress, a silk one. There’s also a matching choker and a pair of heeled sandals, dainty and sparkly. The sight of all of it makes Taehyung’s cheeks heat up, thinking of seeing himself in those. For some reason, it makes him more flustered to think of himself wearing this than any of the lingerie he has. That, and the fact that Jeongguk wants to see him in that.

He bites down on his bottom lip, a knot in his stomach tightening in a way that Taehyung doesn’t understand. He’s feeling nervous, and he really doesn’t understand why. He shakes his head, dismissing those thoughts. It’s Jeongguk. Jeongguk, a client. Jeongguk, with whom he fought with last night. Jeongguk, who fucking meddled with his phone without permission.

He’s not going to give in. If Jeongguk thinks he’ll be seeing him tonight, especially wearing that, he’s terribly mistaken.

 

Chapter Text

Taehyung’s will turns out to be weaker than he has credited himself for.

He doesn’t know how in hell he has come to the conclusion that meeting with Jeongguk tonight is a good idea, but he still finds himself at the address where Jeongguk told him to meet, at the hour he texted him. And he doesn’t know how Jimin let him go, either. Taehyung just hopes that his future self doesn’t regret this too much.

It’s cold, but luckily, he’s wearing a long—faux—fur coat. The reason why he decided to wear this is because of a few texts he exchanged with Jeongguk. The reason why he messaged was because he was concerned about… well, his dick peeking through the dress. Jeongguk had laughed—through text! Taehyung didn’t see that one coming—and told him to tuck it between his legs, put panties on and wear a long coat, so Taehyung had done just that. The place we’re going to is dark, anyway, he had pointed out, piquing Taehyung’s interest.

Still, right now, as he stands in front of the place where they’re meeting, there’s nothing too revealing that sates his curiosity. In fact, there’s nothing at all. It’s either a very secret and exclusive place that Taehyung doesn’t know about, or they’re meeting here and going somewhere else later.

It’s early March, and even if it’s not too cold for Seoul, he doesn’t feel too comfortable standing here alone, especially when he’s wearing clothes like these. The people on the street don’t pay a whole lot of attention to him, but there are a few that take into his appearing and send him looks longer than Taehyung is comfortable with. Despite the coat covering most of his body, it still can be appreciated that he’s wearing a dress—or, well, a skirt—and sandals. He doesn’t mind about what people might think, not at all. But he’s slightly concerned about his well-being, if he’s brutally honest.

Luckily for him and for his peace of mind, Jeongguk doesn’t take too long to arrive. He appears walking, so Taehyung’s guess is that he parked on a quieter street, maybe not to arouse suspicion.

He looks good. His hair is styled in the same way as always, and he’s wearing one of his usual all black outfits—black jeans, black shirt, black leather jacket. Taehyung wonders how it is that it doesn’t get boring to see him like this all the time. After the fifth time, it should stop being hot and start being repetitive. However, he still looks just as attractive to Taehyung, which makes no sense at all.

“You’re late,” Taehyung says. He might be here, but he’s not going to bother to play nice. He knows he’s acting unprofessional for an escort, but he’s going to allow himself a pass for tonight, and be as rude as he wants to be. Jeongguk deserves it, anyway.

“Scarcely,” Jeongguk replies. “I just had some trouble parking.”

“That’s still late,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk rolls his eyes, but he doesn’t look genuinely annoyed. “So, where are we going?”

He guesses that the place they’ll be spending the evening at must be here, otherwise Jeongguk wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble parking his car. He feels the need to dodge Jeongguk’s arm when he places it on the small of his back, but he reminds himself they’re in public. He’s not going to cause a scene, even if part of him still wants to bite Jeongguk. In a non-sexy way.

“Just in here,” Jeongguk says. He starts walking towards a metal door, one that Taehyung guessed was an unoccupied local. He clearly was wrong.

Jeongguk walks towards the door and pushes it open. Much to Taehyung’s surprise, it just opens without any resistance. Jeongguk walks inside, followed by Taehyung, who makes sure to close it carefully, since it looks heavy.

Taehyung’s curiosity grows as he takes into his surroundings. They’re in a corridor, the walls covered in a deep red wallpaper with patterns. The lights are dimmed, which makes Taehyung wonder what kind of place Jeongguk has brought him to, exactly.

“What is this?” Taehyung asks again, already getting an idea. He has never been to one of these, but God, he’s pretty sure he knows where they are.

“It’s a club,” Jeongguk replies. Taehyung scoffs.

“What kind of club, Jeongguk?” he says, pushing Jeongguk further. Jeongguk doesn’t reply, just turns around and smiles at Taehyung, teasingly.

They get to the reception. By now, Taehyung is more than sure that they’re in a swingers club, or some shit like that. The receptionist asks them for their names, and Jeongguk gives two made-up ones on the spot. After that, he pays for both of them, and the receptionist takes both Taehyung’s coat and Jeongguk’s jacket with a smile, taking them to what Taehyung assumes is the cloakroom.

“Have a lovely evening!” she chirps out before disappearing.

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, looking around himself as he and Jeongguk start walking. They get to the bar area, walls still red and lights still dimmed like in the corridor. It’s not crowded, but busier than Taehyung was expecting it to be, both men and women in there.

“Should we get a drink?” Jeongguk asks then, looking at Taehyung.

“Sure, why not,” he replies. “Cosmo for me.”

“I think I might copy you tonight, then,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung raises his eyebrows, smiling a little. He remembers Jeongguk making fun of him for ordering a Cosmo once, so this is good development. “I want to try it.”

“Go ahead, then,” Taehyung says. “It will be a life changing experience, I’m sure.”

Taehyung accompanies Jeongguk when he goes to order their drinks. He doesn’t want to be left alone, not with the kind of crowd that frequents these places—last thing he needs is to have to reject someone. He’s working, after all.

They’re done quickly, moving to one of the lounge couches. It’s red, matching the rest of the room, and it feels soft against Taehyung’s legs as he sits down on it, crossing his legs. It’s almost tickly.

“So,” he starts, “I didn’t know you were into… this kind of thing.”

“You mean the swingers club?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung nods, sipping his cocktail. “I’m not. This is my first time going to one, but I thought it’d be nice to come with you.”

“And why is that?” Taehyung asks, pushing Jeongguk a little further. He doesn’t know what to anticipate, nor whether the answer will be one he’d like to hear or not. Hell, he doesn’t even know what kind of answer to this question he’d like, if he’s quite honest.

“I couldn’t think of a whole lot of other places I could take you to wearing a dress if you want the honest answer,” Jeongguk says, jokingly. Taehyung rolls his eyes, but a grin smile still appears on his face. “And I wanted people to see. You look very lovely tonight, Taehyung. Very, very lovely.”

Taehyung sighs. The compliment feels nice, but no amount of sweet words will make him forget about the incident the other night. He might be here, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten. But the premise of 6,000,000 won for three hours of work is, well—very tempting.

“I’m still pissed off, you know?” he says.

“I don’t get why,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung sends him an unamused look. “I really don’t get what I did or said wrong. I was just giving you some advice with your finances. I’m an accountant.”

“I don’t care what you are,” Taehyung says. “I didn’t ask for your advice, so you could have kept it to yourself. And that’s final.”

Jeongguk sighs. “Okay, then,” he says, in the end. “I’m sorry for the unsolicited advice. Just like I am sorry for taking your phone during the trip. I really had no ill intentions, it was just a joke.”

Taehyung feels a little more relaxed now, after hearing the apology. It feels like a weight has been taken off his shoulders.

“Jokes are supposed to amuse both parties,” he points out. “And you meddling with my phone is not amusing to me, Jeongguk.”

“As I said, I’m really sorry about it,” Jeongguk says. “I know it’s wrong, creepy, and overstepping my boundaries. I’m not trying to justify it.”

Taehyung looks at him, irritated. As feisty as he feels, Jeongguk is actually apologizing, so there’s no way for him to argue. Taehyung is not one to like confrontation, but this whole situation has annoyed him so much that he just wants an excuse to yell at Jeongguk. Perhaps that’s why he says what he says next.

“It doesn’t matter, anyway,” he starts. “Oh, and I accepted the offer from the sugar daddy.”

It’s a lie. He was the first one to be against the idea, because it’d mean a loss to him. Besides, he didn’t like the idea of the guy being his sugar daddy, since he knows how a lot of those stories go. He’s not going to give a random man any excuse to have a sense of ownership over him, God knows that.

“Oh,” Jeongguk says, his face falling. Taehyung smiles. “You… you said yes? You’ve accepted?”

“Yes,” Taehyung lies. “He’s going to pay for all of my living expenses, and he understands that because of my job, monogamy and exclusivity isn’t an option. So…”

Jeongguk clenches his jaw, a motion that Taehyung doesn’t miss. There’s something oddly thrilling about this, about pushing Jeongguk’s buttons. Taehyung doesn’t even want to think about why he’s okay with Jeongguk being angry about this, but he’ll focus on that later. Right now, he’s having way too much fun with this.

“Dump him,” Jeongguk says. “I’ll pay for that, too. But dump him.”

“Why should I? He asked first,” Taehyung says.

“Because he’s probably old and gross, and you don’t like him,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung raises one eyebrow.

“Maybe that’s what I like, Jeongguk,” he replies. He’s feeling a little… nervous, right now. It feels like there is a lot of nervous energy running under his skin, like he’s on edge.

Jeongguk scoffs. “Yeah, okay. Sure thing.”

“Why do you care so much about whether I have a sugar daddy or not?” Taehyung asks, voicing the question that has been filling his mind ever since he saw Jeongguk’s reaction in the car. “You’ve never been like this about any of my clients before.”

“Because having a sugar daddy is different,” Jeongguk says. “For starters, you know I enjoy my time with you, and don’t want it taken away. And well—the rest of my reasons would be considered advice that you haven’t asked for, so…”

Taehyung sighs. “What are they, Jeongguk?” he asks. “Enlighten me.”

“No getting angry later, please. You’re asking to hear them,” he says. Taehyung nods. “It’s different escorting from being someone’s sugar baby. I feel that whoever that man is, he’s going to start feeling like you owe him something just because he’s become your sugar daddy. Fine, he said no to exclusivity, but will that last? You surely won’t be as free as you need to be right now, and I get the feeling that that is not something you’d appreciate.”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip. What Jeongguk has said makes sense, and it’s a little bit of what he was feeling, too. He doesn’t want to be in ‘debt’ to anyone, doesn’t want for them to feel like he owes them. With escorting, at least in his case, the obligation ends the moment that the time booked ends, and there’s a pre-agreement to everything. But with the sugar daddy thing, like Jeongguk said, boundaries and limits might not be as clear. It’s not the kind of relationship he’d like to get in to, at least not with a client—he’d need trust for it, and his clients bring him anything but trust.

So he doesn’t know what to say, because he knows that arguing with Jeongguk will be near to impossible. He has good arguments, and if Taehyung tried to argue he’d just end up falling in stubbornness. So he just says, “I appreciate the concern, Jeongguk. Even if I don’t get where it’s coming from. But maybe I just want to do this.”

“But do you? I know you don’t like him more than me, whoever he is,” is what Jeongguk answers. Before Taehyung has any chance to say anything in response, Jeongguk adds, “And don’t even try to deny it. I know you don’t.”

“Who says I like either? This is my job,” Taehyung says. His voices come out lower, almost hushed, but Jeongguk has left his cocktail aside and leaned in closer, so he knows he can hear him still.  

“This is your job, but if there are any good aspects to it, I know I’m one of them,” he replies, taking Taehyung’s glass and leaving it on the table by their side before reaching for Taehyung’s hand. Taehyung looks down at it, at how he takes Taehyung’s fingers in his own, squeezing them.

“You think way too highly of yourself,” Taehyung says, eyes flickering up to meet Jeongguk’s. They’re close now, and Taehyung can already see what’s coming next. He feels the excitement that only comes in the moments previous to being kissed build up in his stomach.

Jeongguk leans in, his nose bumping against Taehyung’s softly. The closeness makes goosebumps appear on Taehyung’s skin, his toes curling in the heeled sandals.

“But you’re still here, aren’t you?” Jeongguk says, the words spoken softly against Taehyung’s lips. “You’re still here.”

Jeongguk leans in then, catching Taehyung’s lips in a slow, sensual kiss. Taehyung reaches forward with one of his hands, his hand going to the back of Jeongguk’s hair and cupping it, bringing him closer.

Jeongguk’s hand falls to Taehyung’s leg, touching the bare skin of his thigh tentatively. He’s close to his knee, the touch not too daring, but it still makes Taehyung tense a little, biting down on Jeongguk’s lip accidentally.

It seems to humor Jeongguk, who laughs at it before attaching his lips to Taehyung’s again. His hand is touching him so, so delicately, fingertips brushing against Taehyung’s skin in the softest of ways. He’s starting to think that perhaps the dress was a good idea. A part of him loves the teasing of Jeongguk’s touches, but then another part is aching for his hand to go up, up, up and under his dress.

The kiss turns more heated, even a little rougher. The way their mouths rhythmically moved together turns somehow sloppy, needy, and then the gentle feeling of Jeongguk’s tongue curling with his is replaced by their teeth clacking and catching each other’s lower lips.

Jeongguk’s hand is now right under the hem of his dress, the feeling of it making Taehyung shudder a little. His hold tightens a little when Taehyung kisses him deep, his fingers digging into the soft flesh of his thighs. It makes Taehyung shift a little closer, wanting to place his leg on top of Jeongguk’s. But he knows his dress is most likely going to ride up when he does that, showing the rest of the people in the room things that Taehyung doesn’t want them to see.

He feels hot all of sudden, despite being clothed as thinly as he is. He knows that the kind of place they’re in has… rooms, in case things escalate. And right now, Taehyung feels like things are fucking climbing.

He can’t help but let out a low moan when Jeongguk’s hand goes all the way up, squeezing his ass. It makes Taehyung jolt a little, startled. He pulls back from the kiss, looking at Jeongguk, who opens his eyes to look at him as well. Jeongguk looks like a mess, already, lips redder than Taehyung has ever seen them and cheeks flushed brightly. Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, imagining he looks about the same.

Jeongguk sends him a look that makes him want to scream. He’s surging forward and crashing their lips together again, Jeongguk making a surprised sound in his mouth before kissing back. Taehyung is now grasping the front of Jeongguk’s shirt in his hands, wrinkling it as they kiss.

It’s even harsher than before. Jeongguk’s hand is back on his ass and thigh, kneading the flesh. It turns so fucking lewd, both of them kissing deeply. Taehyung feels Jeongguk’s hand go a little further, the tip of his fingers brushing against the lacey border of his pants.

“Yes,” Taehyung mutters into Jeongguk’s mouth. Jeongguk goes still for a moment, as if he’s trying to figure out what Taehyung means.  He can’t bring himself to stay away from Jeongguk’s mouth for too long and give an explanation, so he just repeats, “Jeongguk, yes.”

Jeongguk must figure it out on his own, because once Taehyung is back to kissing him, he starts sliding his hand further under Taehyung’s underwear. It’s just the tips of his fingers first, then down to his knuckles, and then his whole palm. They’re in a quite awkward position, Jeongguk sort of leaning over Taehyung’s body, Taehyung’s leg lifted on the air. He’s most likely flashing his ass and his poorly tucked dick and balls right now to the rest of the people in the bar, but honestly? Right now, he doesn’t care about anything that isn’t Jeongguk’s mouth on his, his hands on him.

“Do you have anything?” Taehyung asks, pulling out a little. “Condoms and lube.”

“Yes,” Jeongguk replies, not missing a heartbeat. “Do you want to go to one of the rooms?”

“Fuck, yes,” Taehyung says. “Come on, let’s go.”

They both stand up, Taehyung fixing his dress to make sure everything is still in place once he’s back on his feet. His knees are a little wobbly and he’s finding it a little bit harder to keep his balance now, but he still manages.

They look around themselves for a moment, a little bit lost. They’ve been seeing people come and go from two corridors, and Jeongguk stands looking conflicted, gaze flickering between of them.

Getting closer so he can whisper in his ear, Taehyung asks, “What’s wrong, babe?”

“I don’t know where the rooms are,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung laughs. “Don’t laugh—one of the corridors is the rooms, the other, a sex dungeon. I’m scared of what might happen if we get the wrong door. I might see something I don’t want to see.”

Taehyung giggles at that. “Let’s try this one,” Taehyung says, wrapping his fingers around Jeongguk’s wrist as he starts walking towards one of the corridors.

“Do I wanna risk it?” Jeongguk calls behind him.

“Yes,” Taehyung replies. “I have good luck. Come on, come on.”

Fortunately, they get through on the first time. The corridor they get to has several doors to both sides. As they walk through it, they can hear noises at the other side of them. They’re both looking for a quiet one, there’s that unspoken agreement. They might have gone to a swingers club, but Taehyung has no intention of participating in any of those activities.

When they find a quiet room, they sneak inside of it. As they suspected, it’s open. The walls are the same dark red as the rest of the club, and inside there are a couple of beds. From where they are, Taehyung can see a door leading to an ensuite bathroom on the other corner of the room.

He doesn’t have too much time to look at the interiors after that. Jeongguk is back to kissing him, hands directly going to his ass and giving it a hard, long squeeze. Taehyung wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s neck and sucks on his tongue as Jeongguk slips both his hands under his dress now, feeling his underwear.

“God, Taehyung,” he says, voice strained as they walk towards the closest bed. “You don’t even know how sexy you look tonight. Your fucking legs.”

“You like it?” Taehyung asks, biting down on his bottom lip. Jeongguk nods eagerly. Taehyung already knew that, realistically, he looks good. But seeing Jeongguk so worked up about the outfit makes it even better. It makes him feel sexy and desired in a way that makes his insides burn.

“I love it,” Jeongguk replies, sitting back on the bed. Taehyung straddles him, knees to each side of Jeongguk’s thighs.

“You should have told me to wear something like this sooner,” replies Taehyung, sitting on Jeongguk’s lap.

Jeongguk hums, his chest rumbling with laughter as Taehyung leans forward and kisses him again. “You’re saying this now,” he starts, “but you weren’t that happy with the outfit before.”

“It has grown on me,” Taehyung says, making Jeongguk laugh again. “Are you gonna fuck me here?”

“You’re going to ride me,” Jeongguk says, the words making Taehyung feel things. “With the dress still on, and the panties pulled aside. Is that good?”

“Fuck, yes,” Taehyung says. “I can’t wait. Give it to me.”

“Just a minute, I—” starts Jeongguk, pulling back a little and reaching for the pockets of his jeans. He pulls out two of those portable packages of lube, along with a foil condom wrapper. “There you go, pretty. Finger yourself on my lap.”

“Just like this?” Taehyung asks, reaching inside his panties and freeing his cock from where it was trapped. It’s peaking from the top of his underwear now, hard and throbbing. He then leans forward and gets one of the lube packages and tearing it open with his teeth. “Kinky. Pull my panties aside for me, babe.”

Jeongguk obliges gladly, slipping his hands under Taehyung’s dress again and doing as he was told. Meanwhile, Taehyung slicks his fingers up with the lube, bringing some to his asshole before he reaches back with his lubed-up hand.

Staring straight into Jeongguk’s eyes, he teases his own rim with the tips of his fingers, making himself gasp at the coldness of the lube. Jeongguk is looking at him intensely, hands placed on Taehyung’s ass and spreading his cheeks apart.

“Oh, shit,” replies Taehyung as he starts sinking down on one of his fingers. “It’s cold.”

“So fucking sexy,” Jeongguk mumbles under his breath. “God, Taehyung.”

Taehyung gives him a crooked smile as he starts thrusting the finger in and out of him, moving it against his walls. He doesn’t take long to add a second finger, stretching himself out thoroughly under Jeongguk’s close gaze. That’s probably the most arousing part of it, the way in which Jeongguk looks at him. How is it possible that just his eyes can get him so worked up? And how can his palms simply touching his ass make Taehyung feel more than his own fingers inside of himself do?

He finds his prostate then, hissing as he throws his head back at the sensation. Jeongguk’s fingers dig in his skin a little harsher then, his body tensing under Taehyung’s.

“I bet you wish those were my fingers now, fucking into you,” he says, making something inside of Taehyung stir. “Thrusting into your sweet spot and making you tremble in my lap.”

“I wish it was your cock,” Taehyung corrects. “I can’t wait for you to fuck me, holy—”

Taehyung’s words are interrupted by his own sounds of pleasure. After that, he rushes to add a third finger. He really can’t wait anymore, he wants Jeongguk inside him right this moment.

The moment he sees Jeongguk reach down to start undoing his belt, he takes it as the green light. He pulls his fingers out of himself, reaching for the condom wrapper and lifting his ass from Jeongguk’s legs so he can pull his jeans and underwear down a little, just enough to free his cock.

As soon as the clothes are out of the way, his cock springs free. He’s so hard, just like Taehyung himself. Taehyung wastes no time, opening the foil and pinching the tip of the condom so he can roll it on Jeongguk’s dick. As he does that, Jeongguk tears the other lube package open, slicking his cock up and using the reaming lube to make sure Taehyung is slick enough.

Taehyung reaches behind himself, holding Jeongguk’s cock in his hand and guiding it to his hole. They both share a look then, Jeongguk nodding imperceptibly and Taehyung letting himself sink on him, his cock entering him.

He can’t help but squeeze his eyes shut in bliss, lips parting in a silent moan. The feeling of Jeongguk filling him up is as delicious as always, making Taehyung grasp tightly at Jeongguk’s shoulders as he sinks all the way down. He only opens his eyes once he’s settled, clenching tentatively around Jeongguk’s cock.

“Nice?” Jeongguk asks, looking at him.

Taehyung nods, curling his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders so he can get a little closer to him. The motion causes Jeongguk’s cock to shift inside of Taehyung, making both of them let out a pleasured sound.

“Nice,” Taehyung confirms, ducking his head down and pulling Jeongguk in for a kiss. Jeongguk kisses him back eagerly, his palms running up Taehyung’s thighs until they settle on his hips. “Gonna move now.”

“Okay,” Jeongguk says, impatience dripping from his voice. Taehyung starts lifting himself up then, slowly, pulling up so only the tip of Jeongguk’s cock is still inside of him, before letting himself sink down on it then. “Fuck, Tae.”

Taehyung starts building a rhythm, bouncing up and down on Jeongguk’s cock. The words die down in his throat, as he starts fucking himself on it. The feeling of it dragging against his walls is surreal, and especially rewarding after having been so, so riled up before.

In addition to that, Jeongguk’s hands are touching him and his body almost frantically. They go from his legs to his ass, then back to his thighs, then one of them slips to the front of his dress and underwear and gives his cock a few strokes, that make him moan and leave him wanting more.

Taehyung loves riding Jeongguk like this, and he especially enjoys how in control he feels. Jeongguk is coming undone beneath him, clawing at Taehyung’s skin, and that makes Taehyung’s face feel even hotter.

“You like it?” Taehyung asks, rolling his hips. “You like me bouncing up and down on your cock, hm?”

“God, Taehyung—yes,” Jeongguk utters. “You’re so tight, fuck.”

Taehyung moans again, Jeongguk surging forward and attaching his mouth to Taehyung’s neck. It makes Taehyung’s hips falter for a moment as he angles his head, giving Jeongguk more room to kiss on his neck.

They’re both surprised when the door to the room opens, their necks snapping to look towards the noise. Through the door comes a couple, a man and a woman that must be in around their thirties. There’s a short moment of eye contact, which makes Taehyung’s cheeks blush furiously as he turns to look at Jeongguk again.

“You okay?” Jeongguk asks, voice hushed. “Do you want to leave?”

Taehyung considers. On one hand, he really wasn’t planning on having sex in front of other people, and he definitely hasn’t done anything like that before. But on the other hand, interrupting the sex Jeongguk and he are having right now is not an option, not with how good Jeongguk’s cock inside of him feels. Plus, now that he thinks about it, the fact that there are other people in the room makes something inside of him burn a little.

“No,” he ends up saying. “No, we’re not going anywhere.”

Their lips crash in another kiss, this one heated and wet, as Taehyung resumes his bouncing on Jeongguk’s cock. He starts slowly, just like in the beginning, but soon enough his pace gets faster again, thighs burning in the best of ways.

“Yes, fuck,” Taehyung says, words moaned against Jeongguk’s mouth. He’s trying to keep it down, but there’s no way the people in the room with them can’t hear it. “So good, so big. Love your fucking cock inside of me, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk moans, his hold around Taehyung’s hips tightening. He feels like there will be bruises there tomorrow morning with how tight Jeongguk’s hold is, but oddly enough, he’s not opposed to it. Just like with the kisses on his neck that were bound to leave some sort of trace behind. Taehyung has always had a strict policy about marks, but as always, he makes an exception when it’s Jeongguk.

He throws his head back as he rides him, one hand around Jeongguk’s shoulders and the other holding on to his arm. It’s then that his pace starts getting sloppy. His thighs give up on him, hurting from lifting his weight up, so his bouncing is now replaced by the circular motion of his hips.

They’re both a fucking mess. There are lube stains that Taehyung has left all over Jeongguk’s shirt, that is now wrinkly and dirty. Taehyung’s dress doesn’t look much better, with a pre-come stain on the front of it. Not to speak of their faces and lips, or their hair. Taehyung doesn’t need to see himself in a mirror to know he looks fucked out.

It’s then that Jeongguk’s cock thrusts right into his prostate, Taehyung’s hand tightening around Jeongguk’s arm again.

“Right there,” he grits through his teeth. “Right there, Jeongguk. More.”

He fucks himself right in that angle, Jeongguk’s cock not missing his sweet spot one single time. Taehyung feels himself getting closer to orgasm. He doesn’t know whether the strangers are looking at them or not, but right now he doesn’t care. Jeongguk starts bucking his hips up a little, thrusting inside him as well as he can with Taehyung sitting on his lap, and the feeling of it makes Taehyung somewhat euphoric.

“God, yes, yes, yes,” Taehyung says, his eyes fluttering closed. “I’m gonna come. I’m gonna come, fuck—touch me, Jeongguk. Touch me.”

“So fucking hot,” Jeongguk says, his hand reaching for Taehyung’s cock. He pulls the panties down a little so he can wrap his hand around his dick and stroke him freely. “Come on, baby. Come for me. Come all over yourself.”

Taehyung moans, Jeongguk’s words making him feel even closer. His thumb stimulates the head of Taehyung’s dick, just how Jeongguk has learned Taehyung likes it, and Taehyung knows he won’t last long.

His mind goes blank as he keeps fucking himself back on Jeongguk’s cock. He can’t think straight right now, just bucks his hips up and down so he can both thrust in his fist and get Jeongguk to fuck him like he wants.

He comes like that, a string of curses slipping past his lips as he stains the dress, spurting come all over the fabric. Jeongguk strokes him through it, and the feeling of it combined with the way the fabric brushes against the head of his cock make him shake. At the same time he keeps moving a little, wanting Jeongguk to come.

It doesn’t take long for Jeongguk to spill inside the condom as well, with a long moan of Taehyung’s name. His hands tightening around Taehyung’s ass cheeks, almost to a bruising force.

Taehyung lets himself flop against Jeongguk’s chest, resting his cheek against his shoulder while they both catch their breath. Now that they’re in silence, he’s hyper-aware of the presence of the other couple and the sounds they’re making. He steals a glance at them, but he looks away immediately. They’re fucking, of course. Taehyung didn’t know what he was expecting.

“Babe,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung hums, inquiringly. “Let’s go to the bathroom. Let’s clean up the dress before it gets too gross.”

“Oh, shit, yeah,” Taehyung says. “Come on, then.”

They both go to the bathroom and help clean each other up. The come—and pre-come—stain on the front of Taehyung’s dressed is now replaced by a big, wet patch because of the water, so right now there’s not much of a difference, but at least it’s better in terms of hygiene.

After that, they leave the club. They consider briefly staying for another drink, but now that they’ve already fucked in here, Taehyung feels… weird. Swinger clubs are not really his things—he’d be too mortified to run into the couple that walked in on them, to be honest. They walk to Jeongguk’s car and Jeongguk drives him home, and Taehyung feels more confused and conflicted than ever. He doesn’t get why he gave Jeongguk a pass.

Taehyung is about to leave the car when Jeongguk calls him. “Taehyung, wait,” he says. Taehyung looks at him inquiringly. “The sugar daddy thing… my offer still stands. I can do all that for you. Without any ties.”

Taehyung sighs. “You say there are no ties, but me agreeing would be a tie in itself, wouldn’t it?” Taehyung says. “I lied about the sugar daddy thing to piss you off, today. I rejected him—I had already rejected him when I told you about it.”

“Oh,” Jeongguk says. “So… he’s not your sugar daddy, then? Just a client?”

“Just a client,” Taehyung confirms, nodding. “But just because you were right doesn’t excuse the manners. I know what’s best for me, and I don’t like it when people make decisions for me or try to tell me what to do. I’m my own person.”

“What you are is a feisty one,” Jeongguk replies, making Taehyung smile a little. “I’m glad you didn’t say yes. For selfish reasons, too.”

Taehyung can’t help but smile at that, but he bites it back after a fraction of a second. Selfish reasons? That is not supposed to make him smile.

But he doesn’t fight it, neither does he lecture Jeongguk on how he’s not supposed to feel selfish over this. He doesn’t have the energy to, and he doesn’t feel like he’s allowed to, with the way the comment makes him feel. He clearly has a lot to think about, a lot of thoughts to sort out and put in order.

“I’ll see you,” Taehyung says, now opening the car door and getting out.

“See you soon,” Jeongguk says. He looks like he’s going to say something else, so Taehyung waits before shutting the door. “Take care, Tae.”

Taehyung’s heart skips a bit. He smiles at Jeongguk softly. “You too,” is all he says, before shutting the door closed and walking to his apartment.

Jimin was waiting for him, but he fell asleep on the bed with his phone on his chest. Taehyung changes as quietly as possible and leaves Jimin’s phone on the bedside table, getting in the bed with him once he has changed into pajamas.

As he turns the lights off and lies on his side, trying to fall asleep, his mind goes back to one thing and one thing ONLY. Two words that resonate in his brain and keep him awake.

Take care.

 

 

Falling asleep while he waited for Taehyung to get home doesn’t stop Jimin from asking for every single detail about the night. The only difference is that, instead of doing it over a cigarette when Taehyung comes home, he does so over the post-breakfast one.

Taehyung doesn’t leave any details out. It’s the first time either of them has been to a place like this, so Jimin is just as curious as Taehyung himself was last night. He tells him everything about it—the receptionist, the cloakroom, the super expensive entry, the cocktails, the rooms, even the couple that watched them have sex. Jimin cackles when Taehyung mentions the fact that there was a sex dungeon.

“You should have gone in,” Jimin says, wiggling his eyebrows at Taehyung. “You could have whipped Jeongguk while riding his cock. Well—maybe before, for safety measures. But doesn’t that sound exciting?”

“I really don’t know how I feel about that,” Taehyung says with a chuckle. “It was nice and the sex was bomb. It’s so hot knowing that there’s someone who could be watching, but I don’t think I’d go to one of those clubs again. I was so embarrassed of running into the people who were with us later, God.”

“That’s sweet of you,” Jimin says, ashing his cigarette. “How wholesome.”

The part that is hard to talk about comes later. Taehyung has been trying to keep away from Jimin the fact that he’s making so many exceptions for Jeongguk, giving him passes that he shouldn’t be giving. He knows that Jimin is a worrier, so he was hoping that his attitude towards Jeongguk would go away. But after last night and the way he felt after Jeongguk’s farewell, he doesn’t think not telling him is a good call anymore. Plus, Jimin knows him well, so maybe he can help him figure things out.

He tells him everything. From what Jeongguk said were his reasons for not wanting him to get a sugar daddy, to the way his take care made Taehyung’s inside turns. Jimin listens attentively, nodding and biting down on his bottom lip.

“Well, that’s…” Jimin starts once Taehyung is done. “I don’t know what to say, Taehyung. It doesn’t seem very casual to me.”

“What do you mean?” Taehyung asks.

“I mean, it either is him being possessive or feeling things that go beyond, eh… carnal desires,” Jimin says. “And I don’t think it’s a possessiveness issue, since he didn’t have any problem before. It’s something that has been developing over time, so maybe… Maybe he has feelings?”

“Feelings?” Taehyung asks.

“Well, it feels like you’re developing some sort of crush for him, too,” Jimin says. “So I wouldn’t be too shocked if it went both ways. If it got to you, I’m sure it got to him, too. You don’t fall easily for anyone.”

Taehyung sighs, burying his head in his hands. Professions like his get complicated right at this point, at feelings.

“And what should I do?” he asks. He knows the right answer is cutting things with Jeongguk, but he doesn’t want to. Maybe if Jimin tells him to, it will be easier for him to do it.

But much to his surprise, Jimin doesn’t suggest that. “Let it evolve, see where things go, and take it easy,” Jimin says. “Jeongguk knows what you do, so that’s one thing out of the way. If you end up developing strong feelings for each other you’ll work something out. But as of now, take things slowly and don’t rush.”

Taehyung tilts his head to look at Jimin. One of their norms is to never ever get in a situation like this one. Jimin is not one to just suggest breaking the rules just like this.

“Now that’s not something that I thought I’d hear you say,” Taehyung says. Jimin shrugs. “What’s gotten into you?”

“I get what you’re feeling,” Jimin says. “And I know it’d be cruel to ask you to stick to the norms, so let’s take… tentative steps.”

“Let’s?” Taehyung asks.

Jimin smiles. He opens his mouth and closes it, as if he doesn’t know what to say. When he finally speaks, he says, “I did as you told me. Last night, I went back to see Hoseok.”

Taehyung is confused for a moment, before it clicks. Hoseok, the bartender that Jimin had spoken to that one night and couldn’t get out of his head.

“About time!” Taehyung says, excited. “How was it? Did he remember you? Did you make out?”

“Amazing, yes, and no,” Jimin replies. “I sat by the bar again and stayed there for hours. He said he thought he wouldn’t see me again, but that he was happy to see me back. We didn’t do anything, but he bought me a free drink and asked for my number.”

“Minnie!” Taehyung says. “You should have told me sooner! Oh my God, he said he was happy to see you? He asked for your number? Has he texted?”

“He texted last night,” replies Jimin, unable to contain a smile. “He said that he didn’t care if it was lame of him to text so soon, but that he wanted to talk to me again. I fell asleep talking to him, actually.”

“That’s so fucking cute,” Taehyung says, smiling.

 “Oh, there’s something else,” Jimin says, twirling the spoon around in his coffee mug.

“What is it?” Taehyung asks.

“When we were talking in the bar I told him I’m an escort,” Jimin confesses. “And I was nervous, because you know that always ruins everything. But he didn’t look appalled, or anything, and after that he kept flirting with me and asked for my number. So… I’m glad him finding out won’t be a problem.”

“Oh my God, babe,” Taehyung says. “I’m so, so happy for you. You deserve this. Come here, give me a hug.”

Taehyung pulls Jimin into a tight, tight hug. He’s happy for him and for how things are turning out for Jimin, and it also makes him wonder. Maybe things can be like that for him and Jeongguk, too.

 

 

Chapter Text

Taehyung has come to be very appreciative of irony. The way things have gone for him has caused him to develop a bitter, sardonic sense of humor that he knows not many people share. That is one of the reasons why he has come to find the irony in certain situations very, very amusing.

Yet right now, he’s not feeling very amused at all.

It was right after that one night at the swingers club, when Jimin told him over breakfast about how things with Hoseok were, that Taehyung had let his mind run wild. Jeongguk telling him to take care, Jimin saying that Jeongguk seemed to feel something for him, and the acceptance of Jimin’s occupation on Hoseok’s side had all contributed to getting Taehyung’s hopes up. If Jeongguk felt something for him while clearly being aware of Taehyung’s profession, then maybe, just maybe, things could work out. The thought alone made Taehyung giddy.

In case that wasn’t obvious already, luck has never been on Taehyung’s side. A series of catastrophic events and not very wise decisions brought him here, and although he has found some good things along the way (read: Jimin) he knows the place where he’s at, despite convenient, is not good. And now, making show of how naïve he is despite all the hardships he’s gone through and the force of real life slapping him across the face plenty of times already, he thought that perhaps this one thing could work out.

Naïve. So, so naïve.

It’s late-March now, the arrival of spring there despite how cold the weather still is. It’s not snowing anymore, and the sun shines brightly and creates an illusion of warmth that vanishes as soon as Taehyung steps one foot outside his apartment. It’s also been three weeks since Jeongguk took him to the club. Three weeks since he last saw him, last spoke to him, last heard anything from him.

Taehyung feels unreasonably upset, considering things hadn’t gone too far, yet. It wouldn’t be the first time a regular client of his suddenly disappears into thin air, and Taehyung has never cared. Whatever their reasons might be, Taehyung doesn’t care. Customers come and go, and he doesn’t need them.

He now is able to admit to himself that Jeongguk is just not like any other client, that there is something special about him. But that doesn’t explain the hollow, sad feeling in his chest after it became apparent something was off, after he hadn’t heard from Jeongguk for longer than a week. Taehyung had felt that there was something special between them, and he has never been one to build castles in the sky. That’s why he was so sure that Jeongguk felt something for him, too.

Part of him wants to cry because of the humiliation, the other part wants to yell at Jeongguk until his throat gives up on him. Which isn’t fair, Taehyung knows. Jeongguk never promised him anything, and for all Taehyung knows, he was just looking for the same as anyone else—company, sex, someone beautiful to be by their side, to make the nights feel not quite as lonely.

For the first time, Taehyung considers that everything he thought was happening was just a perception of his. Maybe he misinterpreted what Jeongguk really said and did because he wanted him to act a certain way with him. Maybe Jeongguk never really overstepped the boundaries between client and escort, and Taehyung just thought he did because he wanted him to.

Jimin notices, of course he notices. Taehyung does his best to act like nothing happens, but Jimin reads him better than anyone else. He doesn’t force him to talk about it, but he doesn’t need him to. It doesn’t take much to put two and two together, to connect the dots between Jeongguk’s sudden disappearance and the shift in Taehyung’s mood.

There’s a turmoil of emotions in his mind, and he’s feeling overwhelmed. On one hand, he’s disappointed, because he thought that there could be something. He’s also upset because he misses Jeongguk; humiliated, because he feels like he’s made a fool of himself, and angry at Jeongguk for vanishing.

So he tries to run away from it, and to do so, he keeps himself as busy as he can. He hadn’t taken as many clients ever since he started escorting independently, when he wasn’t well-known and couldn’t afford to charge prices as high as now. He barely eats at home these days, and takes clients whenever the other bedroom is free. He’s even started to see some clients when Jimin isn’t home, even if he knows how reckless that is. It’s only people he’s met with before and mildly trusts, but that doesn’t make the frown disappear from Jimin’s face when Taehyung tells him.

“Taehyung, I don’t really think that’s a good idea,” Jimin says. His tone is cautious, as if he’s worried he’ll offend Taehyung, or cause him to snap.

“It’s only people I’ve known for a while,” Taehyung says. “And I promise I’ll tell you about them before they arrive, and text you as soon as they leave, just so you know I’m safe.”

“I just don’t get it,” Jimin says, dismissing Taehyung’s words. “It’s not like you need cash that bad. We agreed we’d slow down with the amount of clients we see, because you know it wasn’t good for either of us. What’s brought this on?”

Taehyung bites down on his lower lip. As Jimin and he grew bigger on the page and were able to charge higher, they did come to agreement to take things easy. They didn’t have debts to pay anymore, and what they made was more than enough to pay for their rent, even here in Gangnam. There wasn’t a constant need to see clients all the time. Of course Taehyung’s behavior is strange, and of course Jimin would eventually ask questions. He’s his best friend, after all.

“It’s nothing,” Taehyung mumbles. “Nothing important.”

“Tae, babe, come on,” Jimin says, sighing a little. “We’ve been over this. Don’t bottle things up, I’m here for you during the bad and the good. Keeping all the negative feelings to yourself is just going to make them feel heavier and worse than they already are.”

Taehyung looks down at his hands, holding his phone in them. It’s true what Jimin says—they’ve been over this, and Taehyung knows that keeping things to himself is the worst thing he can possibly do when he’s feeling sad.

“I just—I don’t want to think,” Taehyung says. “And the busier I am, the less time I have to think. The more exhausted I am at the end of the day, the less I turn around in bed, wide awake.”

“Think about what?” Jimin asks. Taehyung looks up at him, but he doesn’t say anything. Then, in a tentative tone, he asks., “Is… Is this about Jeongguk?”

Taehyung sighs. “I—he—yes. It’s about him,” Taehyung says. He’s quiet for a moment, but then he adds, “I just don’t get why he’s gone. I just thought that we—I’m stupid, aren’t I?”

“You’re far from stupid,” Jimin says, shifting closer on the bed so he can slide one arm around Taehyung’s shoulders. “Whatever his reason for staying away is, it has nothing to do with you.”

“I just don’t get it,” Taehyung says. “I thought there was something, but it clearly was just my imagination,” he says, laughing bitterly. “What did I think? That a client would fall in love with me? This is real life, not Pretty Woman. That is not how things go in the real world.”

“Hey, hey, hey. What we do doesn’t make us any less capable of loving, or being loved,” Jimin says. “Have you considered maybe the reason why he’s put distance between you both is because there is something? This is a dangerous shot, both for you and for him. If there was to be something between the two of you, it’d be hard on both sides.”

“Thank you, Minnie,” Taehyung says. “I’ll try to remember that.”

“But take it easy, okay?” Jimin says, looking worried. Taehyung hates that he’s worrying him. “If you need to take your mind off things, then read a book, watch something on Netflix, talk to me about silly things. But don’t bury yourself with work—especially with this work. It’s not healthy, Tae.”

Taehyung nods. He knows Jimin’s right, and he knows that this way of coping of his would lead to terrible consequences. “I won’t,” he ends up saying. “I promise.”

“I love you,” Jimin says, pulling Taehyung in for a hug. Taehyung hugs him back, tightly. “And I’m here, always. Please, remember that.”

“I love you too,” Taehyung says. “I know you are, you know I do.”

Jimin smiles at him sweetly, bopping his nose as he stands up and leaves the bedroom. He doesn’t want Jimin to have to worry about him, and he doesn’t want to take two steps back and go back to where he was months ago. He’s going to need to find another way to distract himself or, ultimately, just forget about Jeongguk altogether.

It’s easier said than done, but Jeongguk clearly doesn’t deserve Taehyung to be feeling any sort of way for him. He’ll work on it. As of now, Taehyung just wishes he didn’t care.

 

 

 

Seeing Jeongguk again after more than one month is, to say the least, awkward.

They’re at another restaurant, each one of them sitting on one end of the table. There’s conversation—one month is enough for a lot of things to happen, and of course, enough to fill their dinner with chatter. But the difference is that this time it’s impersonal and foreign, like it used to be during their initial meetings. And even if that was normal for Taehyung before, still is with everyone but Jeongguk, he can’t help but feel weird.

“Namjoon and Seokjin have been asking about you, too,” Jeongguk comments between bites of his steak. “Since… it’s been a while.”

Something inside of Taehyung turns, the fact that Namjoon and Seokjin asked about his absence making him feel a mixture of emotions. He’s flattered, maybe even happy, but it just reminds him that they thought Jeongguk and he were something that they never will be.

What was Taehyung thinking? They were a lie. They were a lie that Jeongguk told his friends and his co-workers. Of course they could never turn into anything more than that.

“And what did you say?” Taehyung asks after swallowing his food down, curious.

“I told them we split up,” Jeongguk replies.

Taehyung nods. That was… pretty final. Jeongguk telling his friends that they were over might just seem like another lie, and an easy way out of the previous ones. But to Taehyung, it signifies more than that. Jeongguk telling his friends that they were over was Jeongguk putting an end to their encounters. Taehyung already knew that after the weeks of silence from Jeongguk, but it still hurts to hear it.

Turns out, Taehyung’s mission of forgetting about Jeongguk didn’t turn out as well as he thought it did. He was doing just fine until now, really. After that talk with Jimin two weeks ago, he had gone back to a more normal amount of clients, and wasn’t acting recklessly anymore. He was following Jimin’s advice and making sure the both of them stayed safe. And on the side, he was watching Jimin’s relationship with Hoseok blossom, listening to Jimin talk about him for hours after meeting with him, and he was genuinely happy.

When Jeongguk messaged him after five weeks, Taehyung thought that maybe there was a reason for him to message, and more importantly, a reason for him to stay quiet for so long. Maybe whatever had gone wrong was fixable, and maybe Jeongguk was willing to fix it now. He didn’t really think anything of the formality of Jeongguk’s message through the escorting app, but once he got to the restaurant, it became so apparent that all of his hope went out of the window.

Jeongguk wasn’t here to fix anything. Jeongguk was here to officially say goodbye, and Taehyung knew that.

He feels like he’s been quiet for way too long, lost in his own thoughts. “And what did they say?” he asks finally, voice emotionless as opposed to what’s going on inside his chest.

“Just typical stuff—why, that we looked so happy, that they didn’t get why I let you go,” Jeongguk replies. “That kind of stuff.”

“I’m sure it’s a relief to know you don’t have to lie to your friends anymore,” Taehyung says. At this point, he’s sure he’s just saying things to pour salt into the wound and make things even worse for himself.

“Admittedly,” Jeongguk says, taking a sip of his wine. “What was meant to be a one-time thing turned into a complicated web of lies.”

Taehyung nods, silently. He gets it, he really does. If he were the one lying to his friends, lying to Jimin, he’d feel terribly guilty. The thought of lying to Jimin like that makes his heart feel heavier. Still, he’s bitter and angry about the situation. Jeongguk looks so unbothered by this, and it’s hard for Taehyung to tell if that’s the truth or just a façade he’s putting up. Then again, Taehyung is looking unbothered too, and he’s anything but.

“It really did, didn’t it?” Taehyung asks, laughing. He’s aware of how sardonic and bitter it sounds, and he just hopes Jeongguk doesn’t notice.

“Yeah…” Jeongguk says, nodding along. For a second he looks immersed in his thoughts, gaze lost, but he quickly composes himself and looks back at Taehyung. “I had been thinking of it for a while. I considered telling them the truth, but then I figured there was no point. The easier option was to just… stop seeing each other, and add one more lie to the pile. The final one.”

“No more Taeyong,” Taehyung says, seeing confirmation of what he had figured already in Jeongguk’s words.

“No more Taeyong,” Jeongguk repeats. “I thought—maybe I should have told you. I didn’t want to leave you in the dark like that, but I just… I didn’t think.”

“No, please, it’s alright,” Taehyung replies. “Imagine if every client had to let me know when they don’t want any more dates or appointments. That would be madness.”

“Taehyung,” Jeongguk calls. There’s just a hint of emotion there, so different from what’s been the tone for the rest of the evening. It’s small, but it’s still enough for Taehyung to lift his gaze up and meet Jeongguk’s. “You and I both know this is not your standard client-escort relationship. There’s more to it than that.”

Taehyung doesn’t have to ask what, because he knows. Complicity, comfort, mutual respect—those are the things that Taehyung feels like exist when he’s with Jeongguk, but he never feels with any other client of his. And he knows that the reason why that happens, is because as an escort, he’s not meant to feel that with a customer. He knows that those are the kind of emotions that one is meant to experience with a partner.

“Does that matter, now?” Taehyung asks, avoiding Jeongguk’s eyes as he reaches for his glass of wine.

Jeongguk sighs. “I guess it doesn’t,” he says. “I guess it doesn’t.”

 

 

Taehyung’s meeting with Jeongguk leaves him even more confused than he was before. He knows it was meant to be a goodbye, and Jeongguk told him so during dinner. So then, why doesn’t it feel like one?

Taehyung knows he’s supposed to let it go. But what he keeps thinking about is Jeongguk telling him that he knows there was something more to them than what Taehyung had with every other client, and to Taehyung, that’s important.

During the first part of the dinner, Taehyung had a hard time understanding why Jeongguk came to this realization all of sudden, that he didn’t want to carry on with the lie. Taehyung understood the guilt that came with the lie, but he didn’t understand the way in which Jeongguk decided to get out of it. Not with the way things between them had been right before the silence started.

He lets himself indulge in a thought that he had been rejecting from the beginning, something that Jimin had suggested and Taehyung had tried to ignore, because he deemed it as too far-fetched. Taehyung lets himself think that, perhaps the reason why Jeongguk suddenly cut him off, is because he was running away from his own feelings.

Maybe it’s a long shot, and maybe it’s him bringing his hopes up again when he shouldn’t. But part of him still finds it hard to believe that Jeongguk never really felt anything. There are certain gestures that let on more than words—Jeongguk’s hand tickling the small of his back as he lies on his belly, naked; Jeongguk’s skin turning into goosebumps when Taehyung whispered good morning in his ear after staying over one night; Jeongguk telling him to take care of himself. Taehyung has been able to find some truth amongst all the pretending, in the big turmoil that their relationship—fake or not—had been.

He remembers one night, when they were both procrastinating getting ready in Jeongguk’s bed before Jeongguk drove him home. It happened towards the end of February, after Taehyung had spent the night at Jeongguk’s for the first time. Around that time it became a routine for them to meet at Jeongguk’s maybe once or twice a week, those being the moments that Taehyung looked forward to the most.

Taehyung was on his phone and Jeongguk was to his side when he stretched one hand towards him, to his thigh. Something Taehyung knew by then, after intimacy with Jeongguk had become somehow recurrent ever since that trip to Osaka and the weeks that followed.

“Your legs feel soft,” Jeongguk had said, his hand sliding down Taehyung’s thigh towards his knee and calves.

“I moisturize,” Taehyung had replied, stretching his leg as Jeongguk wrapped his fingers around his ankles. “Yours are smooth, too.”

“I like them soft,” Jeongguk mumbled back, holding Taehyung’s other ankle and parting his legs a little, surging forward and kissing the side of his knee. “Soft.”

Taehyung remembers laughing as Jeongguk kissed a trail of kisses down his legs and thighs, just to end up eating him out and making him come again as Taehyung held on tightly to his hair. And it might not mean they’re in love—of course not, not love. But he refuses to accept that the playfulness that was always there whenever they were together meant nothing.

It’s on a Friday night when Jimin is away having dinner with Hoseok that Taehyung gets brave—maybe too brave. He couldn’t help but think about Jeongguk again, since that’s where his mind always ends up going back to. He swears he didn’t even think about him as much before things went to hell, but now that he’s gone, his thoughts seem to always find their way back to him, somehow.

The more he thinks, the less he understands, and the more he feels like he needs to do something about it. Part of him feels like there’s an easy solution to this, and it’s having both of them get their shit together. Might as well take the first step, right?

Taehyung puts on jeans and a hoodie and calls a cab, not putting too much effort in his appearance. He still remembers Jeongguk’s address by heart, so he tells it to the driver as he sits in the backseat of the cab. The ride can’t be longer than fifteen minutes, but it’s enough for Taehyung to imagine a different million outcomes that this might have. Some good, some bad.

Maybe it’s desperate of him, he wonders as he looks out the window while being driven. Jeongguk did end things, after all, so him chasing him might not be a wise idea. But it’s worth a shot, he thinks. Their previous meeting wasn’t him trying to get Jeongguk back, but this is. If Jeongguk doesn’t want anything else, then Taehyung will accept it and finally move on, but at least he will know he tried.

He pays the driver and gets out of the taxi, walking towards Jeongguk’s building. Just like he was anticipating, the doorman recognized him, opening the door to him with a smile and a long time no see.

The elevator ride is longer than ever for Taehyung, who can’t help but bounce on the balls of his feet as it goes up. He’s feeling a lot of nervous energy right now, a tight knot in his stomach. He’s starting to have his doubts now, mostly out of fear. He knows he can still chicken out and turn around before it’s too late, just let it go. But he reminds himself to be brave and do this: he already has Jeongguk’s no, so might as well try for a yes.

He gets out of the elevator and walks to Jeongguk’s door, pressing the doorbell before he can regret it and stop himself from doing so. Involuntarily, he clenches his jaw, his teeth hurting from grinding against each other.

The door opens, and from the way Jeongguk’s expression turns from normal to one of utter surprise, Taehyung guesses he didn’t check the peephole. They’re quiet for around a second, Jeongguk looking at him with wide and disbelieving eyes.

“T-Taehyung?” he asks then, stuttering a little.

He looks good, like he always does. His hair is disheveled, probably from lying in bed, just like his white shirt is wrinkled with the top buttons undone. Taehyung knows that Jeongguk is not one to take his work clothes off right when he gets home, and rather than that, make a mess out of them while lying on his bed or couch.

“Hi,” Taehyung replies, lifting his hand up to wave at him. “You look surprised.”

“I am,” Jeongguk rushed to reply. “I wasn’t expecting you to come by.”

“And I wasn’t expecting to find you here on a Friday evening, but it was too late when I realized,” Taehyung says, truthfully. He was already in the cab when he noticed the date. “I’m glad you’ve decided to stay in tonight, though. I wanted to talk.”

A small grin appears on Taehyung’s lips, one that makes Taehyung feel warm inside. Jeongguk’s tongue darts to wet his lips before he speaks, saying, “What did you want to talk about?”

Taehyung doesn’t think too much about the fact that Jeongguk doesn’t invite him to come on. It’s been a long time and there’s still a stillness between them—Taehyung doesn’t expect things to suddenly go back to normal. But he’s here to work on them, so that is something.

“What happened between us,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk nods, inviting him to carry on. “I’ve been thinking a lot about something you said the other day, last time we had dinner. When you mentioned that the kind of relationship you and I had wasn’t the kind of relationship that I have with every other client. You—well, you were so right about that. It was different.”

“Ah, that’s—that’s good, yeah,” Jeongguk replies. Taehyung frowns a little at him, and Jeongguk raises his arm to scratch the back of his head. “I’m sorry, I’m just… very surprised. I wasn’t expecting you to come by, your visit has caught me off guard.”

“Oh,” Taehyung says, feeling disappointed. “I can… I can leave, if you want me to.”

He feels himself panic inside. Maybe it was stupid of him to come here, after all. He thought he knew how to read Jeongguk by now, but tonight he really doesn’t know how to. He’s just so confused at the moment.

“No! No, no. I mean, I want to talk about this,” Jeongguk says. “But maybe right now is not the best moment.”

Taehyung nods, understanding. Maybe it was a long day at work for Jeongguk, and right now isn’t the best time for this kind of talk. That would also explain why he’s here on a Friday night, instead of hanging out with his friends like he usually does during the weekends.

He smiles, about to say something, but then a voice interrupts him. A voice that is not Jeongguk’s. “Jeongguk?” someone asks. “Babe, who’s there?”

Taehyung’s face falls right then. He sees a figure appear behind Taehyung, a boy of around their age who snakes his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders as he appears at the frame of the door, looking at Taehyung. Jeongguk visibly tenses under the touch, clearing his throat, but not replying to him.

There’s an awkward moment of silence. Taehyung takes in the sight before him. To say he’s shocked would be an understatement.

It’s not like looking in a mirror, not by far. The guy that appears behind Jeongguk is paler than him, his shoulders not as broad as Taehyung’s are. His hair is darker, and his features are more delicate where Taehyung’s are stronger. But still, the similarities are there, and they are painfully obvious: they’re both tall and lanky, they’re both thin, their hair is styled the same. He’s wearing one of Jeongguk’s shirts, the one Taehyung remembers wearing the first time he stayed the night at Jeongguk’s, when they both had danced in Jeongguk’s living room.

That explains a lot of things, Taehyung thinks. It explains why Jeongguk didn’t invite him in, and also the state of his shirt and hair. He thought it was due to him lying in bed, but he was being too innocent, wasn’t he? It was right in front of his nose, and he refused to acknowledge it.

Taehyung’s mouth goes dry and the knot that existed in his stomach tightens again, but this time not just out of nervousness—he’s feeling a turmoil of emotions, similar to what he’s been feeling in the past weeks but multiplied by a thousand. He looks at Jeongguk, and then back at the guy by his side, resting against the frame of the door. He sees the guy look at him with curious eyes, and the most bitter part of Taehyung hopes he realizes how much they look alike, too. He hopes he realizes that Jeongguk is just using him to replace him, Taehyung.

He’s incredibly angry, even if he knows he doesn’t have the right to. Despite what they both knew was happening between the two of them, the truth is they were never more than escort and client. Just like Jeongguk never had any right to choose and decide for Taehyung, or tell him what was best for him, Taehyung doesn’t have the right to get upset over this. Yet this is making him want to punch a wall.

“I can’t believe you,” Taehyung says, scoffing as he looks at Jeongguk, beginning to take one step back.

“Taehyung, wait—” Jeongguk starts, reaching forward and trying to wrap his fingers around Taehyung’s wrist.

“No, no waiting,” Taehyung says, abruptly retreating his arm so Jeongguk can’t touch him.

He doesn’t want Jeongguk to touch him, or even look at him now. Coming here was a mistake, clearly. Jeongguk was already trying to replace him, and there was Taehyung, thinking he was special. He was just another one who fit the type, just like this guy, wasn’t he? Easily replaceable.

He remembers Jeongguk telling him, all the way back in November, that he fit his type the most. Back then it didn’t mean much to him, and after that he forgot about it, but right now, it makes Taehyung feel sick.

“Taehyung, will you please hear me out?” Jeongguk asks, starting to sound like he’s running out of patience.

The fact that he sounds irritated only makes Taehyung feel even angrier. If he wanted out of there before, right now he doesn’t feel like looking at Jeongguk’s face for one more second. “I don’t need to,” Taehyung says, pointing towards him and the guy. “The facts speak for themselves. I shouldn’t have come by.”

He leaves after that, taking another step backward before finally facing away from them. Jeongguk calls his name again, but Taehyung doesn’t turn around to look at him. He roughly presses the elevator button, stepping inside and trying to mute Jeongguk’s voice in the time it takes for the doors to close and drown his voice.

Once he’s alone, he feels like he can’t breathe. He feels upset, humiliated, angry. The rage lets out for a profound feeling of sadness, and for a moment he feels like he’s going to cry. He presses the heels of his hands against his eyes, trying to hold back the tears and forcing himself to take deep breaths. He’s not going to cry over this, and much less in public. If there is something that has been proven tonight, it would be that Jeongguk doesn’t deserve his tears.

His chest feels heavy as he exits the feeling, the image of whoever that dude was appearing from behind Jeongguk engraved in his brain. He remembers the way his arm curled around Jeongguk’s shoulders, remember the tone of his voice when he called Jeongguk? Taehyung knows that the guy is the innocent part in this story, and that if there is anyone to be angry at, it’s Jeongguk. But he can’t help but resent him.

He knows it’s best to not make decisions while upset, but he’s in urgent need of a remedy for the ache in his chest right now. He’s in the cab back home when he gets an idea.

Right now, Taehyung just needs to forget. And he knows exactly how to.

 

 

Taehyung stumbles upon at least five people on his way to the bathroom of the club he’s at. He can barely stand on his own anymore, the mixture of drinks and drugs he’s had clouding his mind and making him clumsy. He walks towards the sink and splashes his face with water, making one of the gold stars someone stuck to his cheekbone along the night fall.

After getting home, Taehyung got changed and texted some people he’s known ever since he worked at the club with Jimin. It’s a Friday, so he was bound to find someone, and do it quickly.

He’s at some gay club one of his old co-workers took him after meeting. He’s taken so much of so many things that he can barely see anything, but at least it doesn’t hurt anymore.

It’s been a long while since he last partied, and although it’s not the first time he’s done something like this, he thinks it’s the first time he’s done it to this level. He knows Jimin wouldn’t be happy about it, especially since he’s here alone—the only person he knows is a co-worker from years ago, someone he doesn’t even trust.

He looks fucked up, if he’s honest. He runs a hand through his hair and makes an even bigger mess of it, giving up on looking good as he stumbles out of the bathroom again.

It’s impossible for him to find his way back, no matter how hard he tries to remember where he was. He’s so high he doesn’t even have the energy to panic, not when he realizes he’s lost, and certainly not when he feels an arm around his hips, pulling him back against someone.

“Hey there, beautiful,” a voice he doesn’t recognize whispers in his ear.

Taehyung turns his head around and looks at the man behind him—he’s shorter than him, but bulkier. Taehyung can’t bring himself to focus a lot on his face, but what he knows is that the guy has a beard, and that he’s decently handsome.

“Hi,” Taehyung greets back.

“Wanna dance?” the man asks, his hold around Taehyung’s hips tightening. Taehyung nods.

“Sure,” he replies, letting himself lean back even further against the man.

All the dancing is blurry in Taehyung’s mind, he doesn’t even know how he’s managing to stand upright. The man’s hands don’t feel quite right against his body, just like his mouth doesn’t feel right when he starts kissing Taehyung’s neck. Still, Taehyung can’t bring himself to say no, or to try to push him away. Forget, he just wants to forget.

And right now, the touches and the kisses of a stranger, are his best shot.

 

Chapter Text

Taehyung’s morning starts in the worst possible way—with the delicious, always welcome feeling of a bad hangover, a product of a night that he didn’t really think through.

The first thing he registers when he wakes up is the intense hammering inside his head that makes him feel like there are a thousand tiny men inside having a fistfight with his brain. After that comes a wave of nausea, one that quickly vanishes before it turns into an actual urge to throw up. And then, once he can bring himself to open his eyes and look around himself despite the brightness of daylight, he sees he’s in a room that isn’t his own.

To his right there’s a man, and after a few seconds of confusion, the events come back to his mind—the stranger, the dancing, the kissing, and then the fucking. He doesn’t remember any details, the memories a blur in his mind, but at least he knows that he came home with… whatever he was called.

He bites down on his lower lip. The man is snoring softly by his side, and luckily enough, he’s not touching him. Taehyung wants to avoid all awkwardness, especially considering that he doesn’t even remember the guy’s name, so his best option is getting out of the apartment unnoticed.

So he does exactly that. He gets out of the bed, careful not to make the mattress shift, and collects all of his clothes and belongings from the bedroom floor. After tiptoeing his way out of the room he finds the bathroom, where he gets dressed and splashes some water on his face, looking at himself in the mirror. He looks like he’s been run over, which also explains pretty well the condition in which his body feels.

He wastes no time, so once he’s all done, he puts his shoes on and leaves the apartment, after making sure his phone and keys are with him. Unfortunately, he didn’t take much money with him last night, just enough to have a good time and not feel very upset in case he got robbed. He can’t afford to call a taxi, so he has a thirty minute walk ahead of him until he gets home. And his phone is completely out of battery, so he can’t even call Jimin to let him know he’s coming back.

The streets aren’t crowded, but there’s still enough people for him to feel looked at as he walks towards Gangnam. God, Gangnam—if he’s getting dirty looks now, he doesn’t even want to imagine what it will be like when he gets there. As if that weren’t enough, he starts feeling sick again when he’s halfway there, to the point where he almost has to stop and throw up in a trashcan.

By the time he gets to his building he feels like he’s about to die. His forehead is damp with cold sweat that makes his hair stick to it in a rather gross way, and he feels like shivering. His headache only got worse, and he feels sticky and disgusting all over. God, he can’t wait to have both a painkiller and a shower.

As soon as he opens the door, he hears footsteps and the bedroom door shoot open as well. Jimin appears from there, hair a mess and dark circles under his eyes, an accusatory finger pointed towards Taehyung.

“Where the fuck have you been?” he asks, getting closer as Taehyung closes the door behind himself. “Where have you been all night and why was your phone off? I swear I was about to call the police.”

“Oh, God—no need to call the police, I promise,” Taehyung replies. “I’m good.”

“I thought you were dead, Taehyung, you can’t just disappear for an entire night. I’ve been texting you since I came home and found the place empty,” Jimin says. Taehyung looks at him and pulls his lower lip out in a pout. “Where have you been?”

“I wasn’t out with any client, if that’s what you think,” Taehyung says, before anything else. He knows that the reason why Jimin is worried is because there’s always risk in their job. They’ve been quite lucky with the clients they’ve had up until now, but he also knows that others aren’t as lucky as them. “I went out.”

“Went out…?” Jimin asks, looking down at Taehyung’s clothes. “You… you went out to party?” Jimin says, disbelief clear in his voice.

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, starting to walk towards the kitchen. As much as he loves talking to Jimin, he’s going to need a painkiller as soon as possible. “I wanted to take my mind off some things.”

“What things?” Jimin asks as Taehyung gets a glass and fills it with water. “Jeongguk?”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, reaching for the painkillers that they keep in one of their cabinets. It’s Jeongguk, of course it is. But Taehyung doesn’t want to tell Jimin about the whole story of what happened last night—it’s not important. He feels humiliated, both because Jeongguk was with someone else and because Taehyung was stupid enough to feel like going there would make any difference. Stupid enough to think Jeongguk was waiting for him to chase after him or something.

Plus, he knows Jimin won’t be happy to hear he had gone after Jeongguk. Despite the fact that he’s always quite liked Jeongguk, Jimin has changed his opinion of him after the period of silence began. That, added to the fact that escorts aren’t supposed to go after their clients… Yeah, Jimin wouldn’t be happy about it. So Taehyung decided to leave that part out of the story. It’s an irrelevant detail, anyway. And Taehyung is determined to make Jeongguk himself as irrelevant as his visit last night feels to him right now, too.

“Yeah, him,” Taehyung says, avoiding saying his name. He knows, without the need to say it out loud, that pronouncing it would leave a bitter taste in his mouth. So… he’d rather not. “Gosh, I got so wasted. I have a massive headache.”

“That’s a good coping mechanism you have there,” Jimin observes, Taehyung jokingly flipping him off as he swallows his painkiller down. “Did you have fun, at least? Where did you spend the night?”

“I did,” Taehyung replies, sincerely. At least, he thinks he did. The parts of the night that he remembers were fun. And very void of thoughts of Jeongguk, which was exactly his goal. “I hooked up with someone.”

“Oh!” Jimin says, sitting down by the kitchen table and resting his chin on his palms. Taehyung raises his eyebrows at him from where he’s leaning back against the counter, drinking the rest of his water. He knows he has to, but it tastes like alcohol, and it makes Taehyung want to gag. “Who? Is it someone you knew before?”

“Nope,” comes Taehyung’s answer. “Just a random guy I met in a club last night.”

“What’s his name?”

“I don’t even remember,” Taehyung admits.

“Tae!” Jimin says. Taehyung shrugs, flashing him an unapologetic smile. “Was it good, at least? He better have been. Was he hot?”

“I don’t remember much of it, if I’m honest,” Taehyung says, dismissive. He was hot, yeah. Not my usual type, but still nice.”

Jimin nods, seemingly in thought. Taehyung is about to ask whether he’s okay or not, but then Jimin speaks.

“It’s been a while since you last had sex with someone who wasn’t a client,” he says.

Taehyung nods—it admittedly had been a long time. Sex was fun, when it wasn’t a task, but Taehyung isn’t particularly bothered about stringless sex anymore. Right now, it’s just a means to get to an objective: forgetting all about Jeongguk.

“My non-professional sex life needed to be revived,” Taehyung jokes. “I had a fun night. I’m so sorry I made you worry, though. I wasn’t planning on sleeping out, and my phone died sooner than I was expecting it to.”

“It’s alright, but next time I’ll whoop your ass,” Jimin replies, making Taehyung laugh. Which wasn’t a good idea, because it makes his head ache in a way he didn’t think was possible. “I’m… I’m happy you had a good night, Tae. And that you found someone to spend it with.”

Taehyung can read between the lines—Jimin is happy he found someone to spend the night with, someone who isn’t Jeongguk. Taehyung guesses he should be glad, too. That train has now parted, quite obviously. It probably was never a train he was meant to get on in the first place.

Whenever something goes wrong, Taehyung tries to remind himself that everything happens for a reason. His parents not being able to pay for his college wasn’t ideal, and the fact that it led him to the life he has today is not good either. But if things had gone differently he wouldn’t know Jimin, and that’s enough to balance the bad out.

So with Jeongguk—it’s just the same. If Jeongguk and he weren’t meant to end up together, there must be a reason why. Maybe there’s someone better for him out there, someone more suitable for him. He’s not going to let his whole world come to an end for a man, that is something he knows for sure.

“So am I,” Taehyung says, forcing himself to smile. He doesn’t believe it right now, but he knows that with time, and if he tries hard enough, it will become true. “So am I, Minnie.”

The first night that Taehyung went out partying after going to Jeongguk’s, he was just looking for a quick and easy way to distract himself and forget. He never really meant for it to become a habit—he had seen people around him get destroyed because of it, or more so, what said partying usually entails.

Despite that and the fact that he tried to convince himself he wouldn’t fall into it, he does. Partying allows him to have a good time without having to worry about all the things troubling him: heartbreak, guilt from hiding things from Jimin, the fact that he does this for a living. So, where he used to always decline invitations to party from clients, he finds himself now accepting them.

He’s always had propositions like these, where clients invited him to accompany him to high end clubs. Unless it was a very loyal customer he didn’t want to let down, Taehyung usually didn’t give in to those. And even when he did, he always made sure to not drink, to make sure that he wasn’t taken advantage of by any clients. He knows he’s being reckless, but it’s a way of earning money and letting go all at the same time.

Jimin doesn’t know, of course. Ironically enough, what he does to forget his problems causes another burden. But he knows this is something Jimin would never, never approve of. So Taehyung just tells him he’s going out, and Jimin doesn’t ask any questions—why would he? And it’s not like he does this every day, just during the weekends, so it’s not enough to worry him.

Tonight, he’s with a man that he’s known for a couple of years now. They haven’t met up a lot, but he stands out to Taehyung especially because he’s not a local—his name is Alexander, and he’s European. Taehyung doesn’t know exactly from where, but he’s positive it’s from somewhere in one of the Nordic countries. Unlike most of Taehyung’s clients, he’s not all that chatty, and so Taehyung doesn’t know a whole lot about him and what his life is like. Still, what he knows is that he doesn’t live in South Korea but comes to Seoul often for business.

Even if Alexander doesn’t say much, Taehyung can see the pale mark of a wedding band on his finger, one that is not even starting to fade. It doesn’t take much for Taehyung to put two and two together to realize that the man is having an affair.

Taehyung is used to this, and even if he knows he’d be hurt if he was the one being cheated on, he knows it’s none of his business. How is he, doing what he does for a living, going to scold his clients? He doesn’t ask any questions, and Alexander doesn’t give any explanations. That’s how things should always work, Taehyung thinks. If the last few months have taught him anything he should know by now, it’s that the closer he gets, the worse things end up. He might have let his guard down for a while, but right now he’s rebuilding his walls—and this time, he’ll make sure they’re higher than before.

“Baby?” Alexander says, speaking in his ear. Taehyung sits up a little straighter in his seat, Alexander’s arm around his shoulder as he says, “I’m going to order us some more drinks. Is that okay with you?”

Taehyung nods, turning his head a little. “Perfectly okay,” he says. He’s more leaning towards drunk that tipsy right now, in that state where more drinks seem like a fucking great idea. He’s feeling quite euphoric, forehead sweaty from dancing with Alexander a while ago. “I’ll go to the bathroom while you go, then.”

“Hurry, then,” Alexander says, giving Taehyung’s knee a squeeze as he stands up. “I’ll be back soon.”

Taehyung nods, watching him walk away before standing up himself. As soon as he stands up he almost trips over, losing his balance and reaching for the nearest wall to establish himself. Luckily enough, everyone was way too focused doing their own thing to notice him making a fool of himself.

The club is very high-end, so it’s not as packed as the places Taehyung has partied in all through his college years. He makes his way to the bathroom, making sure to stay close to the walls in case he loses his balance as well. He’s drunker than he thought he was, but he’s not particularly bothered by it, and he’s still having that drink that Alexander is buying him.

The loud music and the darkness of the club definitely don’t help, but in the end he gets to the bathroom, even if it takes longer than it should have. Luckily, they’re empty, so he can just go in and do his business without annoying queues. When he comes out of the stall and walks towards the sinks to wash his hands, he sees a man standing there. It shouldn’t be shocking, except for the fact that he’s very much not Korean, and he’s looking straight at Taehyung with his arms crossed over his chest.

Taehyung takes a few steps closer to the sink, avoiding looking at the guy as he turns the tap. He doesn’t want any trouble, so he’s just going to ignore his confrontational ass—he’s way too drunk to get into shit with anyone. He can feel his eyes on him as he washes his hands, though.

In the end, he gives in. It’s getting too uncomfortable and obvious to just ignore him, so he asks, “Can I help you?”

“You’re Tae, right?” the guy asks, with a heavy accent. Taehyung recognizes it and identifies it as the same as Alexander’s, except more exaggerated. Maybe if he wasn’t so intoxicated he would have sensed something was wrong with it, but at that moment, it didn’t register.

“Yes,” he says, dragging the word. “That’s me. I’m Tae.”

“Well, Tae ,” the guy says, taking a step closer. It’s then, from his tone and the sudden and uncomfortable proximity, that Taehyung realizes that he has, somehow, gotten himself into a situation. “I think we need to have a talk, don’t you?”

“I don’t even know who you are,” Taehyung says, words slurred together. He tries to take a step back to put some distance between him and the guy, but unfortunately, the sink is right behind him and he can’t move. “Leave me alone.”

“I’ll leave you alone when you leave my husband alone,” the guy says. Taehyung frowns, and upon watching him, he adds, “Alexander. Don’t come near him again.”

Taehyung is annoyed. He’s just working. Something he will never understand is why people always come after the person that their significant other is cheating on them with, instead of directly addressing his partner. Sure, there is something morally wrong with his actions. But if he wants any explanations, or wants to make any threats, shouldn’t he go to Alexander himself? It’s him who’s paying for the affair, after all. It’s not like Taehyung wants to go out with him, or even likes him.

“Or what?” he asks, getting brave. The guy is taller and has more muscles than him, so the last thing Taehyung needs is to piss him off. Still, he’s very, very annoyed.

“Or I’ll show you the consequences that being a homewrecker has,” he grits between his teeth, leaning forward. Taehyung sucks in a breath, feeling intimidated. “And I promise you—you won’t like them.”

“Woah, woah, okay,” Taehyung says, raising both of his arms over his head. He just wants the guy to leave him alone, and in his drunken state of mind, agreeing with him looks like the best way out. Not a solution, but a way out. “I don’t want to get in trouble. I’ll stay away.”

“You better,” the guy says, taking a step back. Taehyung lets out the breath he was holding in, relieved. The guy gives him one last dirty look before turning around and leaving the bathroom, muttering, “Whore.”

Taehyung gives himself a minute or two to recover. He is deeply confused about what has happened, even if the situation is crystal clear. He wonders whether Alexander is still there or if his husband has picked him up, but he can’t just leave. Even if that’d be better for his safety, it would lead to bad rankings on the escorting app, and he can’t risk that.

He’s oddly relieved when he finds out that he’s gone, their drinks resting on top of the table they were sitting at. Taehyung swallows down, looking around himself. He knows it’s partly his fault for getting involved with married men, but if he didn’t, he’d lose more than half of his clients. It’s the first time something like this has happened, that a partner has threatened him, and if he’s lucky enough, it will be the last time, too.

He decides to call it a night. He’s not really in the mood to party anymore, so he’d rather go home and forget that this happened. At least this means he got paid for hours he didn’t have to work and sex he didn’t have to have.

Taehyung sighs, moving away towards the cloakroom so he can pick up the stuff he left there previously. He feels terribly sobered up, and right now, he just wants to get in bed. Maybe get a hug from Jimin, if he’s still up.

Every day seems to bring him a new reason to hate his job. And every day, he’s more and more fed up with it.

Taehyung’s morning starts off with Jimin asking him the weirdest question he’s ever heard from him.

“If I tell you something, do you promise you’ll be happy for me?”

Taehyung looks up from his phone and looks at Jimin, who has just entered the room after taking a shower. He’s wearing a bathrobe and has a blue towel thrown over his shoulder, hair still damp.

“That depends,” Taehyung says. “I can’t promise I’ll be happy, but I promise I will pretend to be if what you tell me sucks ass.”

Jimin laughs at Taehyung’s response, sitting on the edge of the bed. Taehyung takes that as a sign and gets from under the covers, sitting closer to Jimin.

“It’s a good thing, I think,” Jimin says, looking up from his fingers to Taehyung.

“What is it?” Taehyung asks. After a moment of silence, he reaches for Jimin’s hand and gives it a squeeze. “You know you can tell me about it. And if it makes me happy, you know it will make me happy as well.”

“Hoseok and I are dating,” Jimin blurts out, then. Taehyung’s mouth falls open in surprise. He didn’t know what he was expecting, but definitely not this. “He asked to make things official yesterday on our date night. I asked whether he was sure or not, because of the escorting thing, but…”

“Oh my God,” Taehyung says. Jimin looks at him expectant, as if he’s waiting to see what Taehyung’s reaction is. Taehyung just pulls him into a tight hug. “That’s so good, Minnie! I’m so happy for you. That really is so good.”

He’s surprised. Hoseok and Jimin have been seeing each other for a few weeks and, according to Jimin, things have gone more than well. The logical next step in every normal relationship would be to take things a step further at this point, and make it official, so it’s not the timing that shocks Taehyung. The thing is, because Jimin is an escort, Hoseok and Jimin’s relationship won’t be… a normal one. That is, unless Jimin quits.

“I’m so happy, Tae,” Jimin says. “It’s just—I like him so much? And I never thought I’d end up liking someone while doing this, much less have them like me back. But he does, and he doesn’t care about what I do—well, he does care a teeny tiny bit, he’s okay with it and hasn’t tried to pressure me to quit. He understands, Taehyung. And I’m just so, so happy that I’ve found him.”

Taehyung can’t help but smile, Jimin’s words making him emotional. He’s happy for him finding someone like Hoseok, if he’s honest. It’s very hard to stumble upon someone who will be understanding of their profession, so for Jimin to be with Hoseok is the best thing that could happen, and Taehyung knows that.

“I’m so glad you gave it a try,” Taehyung says, squishing Jimin in his arms. “You should have asked him out before he had the chance.”

“Oh my God, I thought about it so many times,” Jimin says, rolling his eyes playfully as he smiles. “But I didn’t really think he’d want anything serious with an escort, so I always chickened out.”

“Well, he clearly did want it,” Taehyung says, letting go of Jimin. “Just promise you won’t forget about me now that you got yourself a boyfriend. Or kick me out of the bed for him.”

“Oh my God, shut up,” Jimin says, pushing him as he cackles. “I would never. Bros before hoes, or whatever.”

Taehyung laughs, glad both for the good news and because of how happy Jimin looks. The feeling is contagious, and Taehyung himself feels his heart get a little warmer, a little lighter.

He’s happy—he genuinely is. Jimin deserves this, and Taehyung, despite feeling a little envious, it doesn’t come from an ill place. Someday , he tells himself. Someday he’ll have someone like this, too.

Taehyung, officially, has no sense of self-preservation whatsoever.

“I’m so glad you’ve decided to come here today, despite what happened the other night,” Alexander tells him from the other side of the table. “I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I left Seoul without saying goodbye to you properly.”

When Taehyung first got the messages from him, he was shocked to see Alexander was apologizing for his husband’s actions. Apparently, after their lovely talk in the bathroom, he had gone to where Alexander and Taehyung were, and they both had left together. After that he had asked Taehyung to meet up again, but Taehyung had said no. He didn’t need to get into more trouble.

But Alexander had insisted. And by insisted, Taehyung means he had offered him 10,000,000 won for the night. Just for dinner and a few hours together. And, well—Taehyung wasn’t going to decline an offer like that.

Which brings him to here, to a fancy restaurant with Alexander. He reassured him that nothing dodgy would happen tonight, and even if Taehyung doesn’t trust him, he wants that 10,000,000. He’s not one to reject that amount of money.

“You knew I would,” Taehyung says, smiling coyly at him. “When will you be leaving?”

“Tomorrow morning,” the man replies. “I’ll be back soon, though. But this time… I might want to not have Erik come.”

Taehyung laughs, even if he’s feeling rather… awkward, because of the comment. It doesn’t take much to figure out Erik is the husband, and he doesn’t find the mention of him funny at all. Still, he’s not about to get his panties in a twist over Alexander’s words.

“As long as he doesn’t come where we are again,” Taehyung says, trying to word it as… nicely as possible. “I was quite taken aback when he—”

He doesn’t get to finish his sentences, because before he can utter another word something falls by his side. To his right there is a waiter, a young one that has dropped some cutlery to the floor beside him. Taehyung mostly gets a fright from the sound of it against the floor.

“Oh, my God, I’m so sorry,” the waiter says, kneeling down by Taehyung’s side to pick them up. “I’m so, so sorry, sir.”

“It’s no problem,” Taehyung says, giving him a smile. “Do you need help?”

“N-not at all, sir,” the waiter says, stuttering.

“You should be more careful,” Alexander says, irritated. “You could have hurt him, or someone else.”

“I’m so sorry, sir,” the guy says, finally standing back up. He’s taken more time than Taehyung thought one would take to pick up some cutlery, but he doesn’t say anything about it. “I’m sorry about the inconvenience.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Taehyung says, giving him a kind smile. He feels sorry for the guy—his face is red and he looks nervous. He tries his best to soothe him, since Alexander doesn’t seem to want to do the same.

The guy mumbles a few more apologies before bowing and leaving, face still as red as it was before. Other than that, dinner goes well and without any incidents. Taehyung can’t put down into words how relieved he is that this Erik guy didn’t burst into the restaurant and threaten him with a knife, really.

After that, Alexander says he has booked a hotel room so they can spend some more of the night together before he has to go back. They both leave the restaurant, Taehyung wrapping his wool coat around himself once they’re outside. It might be April, but nights are still too cold for his liking.

They’re both walking towards Alexander’s car when two men approach them. Taehyung doesn’t notice at first, but as soon as they get a few steps closer he notices they’re cops. Taehyung tenses up.

“Kim Tae?” one of them asks. Taehyung nods, his heart speeding up.

Taehyung hasn’t done anything bad, at least not by his standards. But, the thing is, selling and buying sex is illegal in South Korea. So what he does, escorting, is something that could get him into trouble.

He’s never been arrested for it before, and after moving up to higher rank clients, he almost forgot that it was a possibility. But right now, standing in front of the two officers, he can’t help but feel terrified.

“That’s me,” Taehyung says. His mouth has gone dry and his heart is beating so, so fast, he’s able to disguise it with a calm tone. “Is anything wrong, officer?”

“Mr. Kim, stand with your legs apart and your arms raised, please,” the other office speaks. Taehyung freezes for a moment, unable to react. “Mr. Kim?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Taehyung says, getting into the position. As soon as he does, one of the officers steps forward and starts searching him.

He has nothing to worry about, he reminds himself. Alexander had paid him a big amount of money that night, and since Taehyung didn’t feel comfortable taking such a big amount with him, he had left it at home with Jimin when Alexander had come to pick him up. Nothing incriminatory, thank God.

That’s why, when the officer puts his hand in his pocket and takes out a small bag full of white powder, Taehyung’s jaw literally drops. He hears Alexander let out a small, surprised noise by his side, but Taehyung can’t bring himself to look at him, eyes fixed on the bag and its contents.  

“That’s not mine,” he says, aware of how pointless his words are. How are they supposed to believe him? They found it in his pocket.

“Mr. Kim, we’re going to have to ask you to accompany us to the police station,” one of the officers say, the other one getting his cuffs from his belt.

“This is a misunderstanding,” he insists.

“You’re under arrest for possession of a controlled substance,” the man starts, cuffing Taehyung’s hand. This can’t be happening. “You have the right to remain silent.”

“Please, that’s not mine,” he says, feeling the despair start to grow.

The officer is unfazed. He keeps reciting, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one—"

After that, Taehyung can’t help but mute his surroundings. He is guided into a patrol car, one of the officers helping him get inside as the other walks to the driver’s seat. He feels like he’s about to cry—out of rage, despair, humiliation. He can’t believe this is happening to him . He tries to explain to the officers that he doesn’t know how the cocaine got in his pocket, but to no avail. They don’t believe him, and why should they?

Taehyung gives up, reminding himself that, like the officer had told him, anything he said will be used against him in court. He’s so lost right now—he doesn’t know how to get out of this one. He doesn’t know how yet, but he’ll figure it out. He always does.

On the way to the police station and while they take Taehyung’s prints and mugshots of him, Taehyung finds out a few things. First of them, he was turned in by an anonymous tip claiming he was in the possession of drugs. Secondly, he can be released on bail, so there is a way out for him. And lastly, he has gotten himself into a mess without meaning to.

He’s sitting in a cell in the police station, face buried in his palms, trying to figure out how all of this happened. The cocaine is not his, that much he knows for sure. He also knows it wasn’t there when they got to the restaurant, because he remembers playing with they keychain Jeongguk got him, that happened to be in the same pocket as the plastic bag. So, how did it materialize in Taehyung’s pocket in the middle of dinner? It didn’t make any sense.

He goes over the entirety of dinner in his mind then, and when he realizes, his jaw drops open. He remembers the waiter dropping the cutlery by his side, kneeling down next to him to pick it up. It was right on his left side, where they had found the drugs. And Taehyung had noticed both his nervousness as he kneeled next to him, and how long it had taken him to get the cutlery back and leave.

It had to be him. It wouldn’t make sense for it to be anyone else. But then again, Taehyung didn’t know the man. It was his first time coming to that restaurant, and he definitely didn’t know that man from before. Why would he be interested in framing me?

He’s too tired to think coherently. He could think of more than a dozen people who would like to see him be thrown in jail, honestly—clients he had stopped seeing for overstepping boundaries, old co-workers at the club he didn’t get along with, other clients that had been hurt when Taehyung rejected their romantic advances… The possibilities were endless. It could even be the partner of a—oh.

The partner of a client. Erik had threatened him, telling him he’d regret the consequences of being a homewrecker , hadn’t he? He had a reason to dislike him and want to frame me, and he had already threatened him. Besides, it would also justify how he knew Taehyung was there. Taehyung just wonders how he convinced the waiter to do such a thing, but he knows better than anyone that money is more powerful than morals.

Cracking the code gives Taehyung a boost. Now that he knows what has actually happened, he can prove his innocence. It’s impossible for his fingerprints to be on the bag, and he’s clean. He doesn’t have criminal records, either. Now he just needs to find himself a good lawyer, and he’s willing to invest in one. Anything just to get out of this mess.

“I’d like to make my call now,” Taehyung says to the officer watching him. “Please.”

The agent sighs, approaching Taehyung’s cell. “Come on, then,” he says, unlocking it and opening it for him. “Have you memorized the number you want to call?”

“Oh,” Taehyung says. The only two numbers he has memorized are his house’s telephone and Jimin’s cellphone, and he’s not calling either of them. Both his mother and Jimin would die of worry if they found out, especially his mother. Plus, she wouldn’t have enough to bail him out. “No. I don’t.”

“Shall we get the phonebooks, then?” the officer asks. “You can check it on your own phone, if you want. But the call will have to be made from ours.”

“That will work,” Taehyung says, nodding. “Looking at it from my cellphone.”

“Follow me, then,” the officer says. He guides Taehyung to another room, and once he’s there, he calls, “Minwoo? Can you bring me this guy’s phone?”

They wait for a few minutes until another agent comes back with Taehyung’s phone, leaving it on top of the table. It has been turned off, so Taehyung turns it back on and unlocks it, drumming his fingers on the table as he waits for it to load. Once it’s on, he scrolls down his contact list until he finds the one he was looking for.

Jeongguk .

He hates that he’s doing this, really. But having reached this point, he’s very much desperate. Jeongguk is the only person he knows and trusts that can bail him out, and wouldn’t die of worry. Taehyung doesn’t want Jimin to worry more than he should, and telling him this would imply telling him about Erik talking to him the other day, and that would mean telling him about the partying and working at the same time.

Plus, Jeongguk had reached out to him after Taehyung had stormed out of his building that one day, but Taehyung had ignored him. This is his best shot… Actually, this is his only shot.

The moments while he waits for Jeongguk to pick up feel torturously long, and Taehyung is afraid he won’t, for a moment. But finally he answers his phone, asking, “Hello?”

The background noise tells Taehyung that Jeongguk isn’t home, but Taehyung can’t bring himself to feel bad about potentially ruining Jeongguk’s night out. He knows it’s selfish of him, but he needs help, and he needs it now.

“Jeongguk, it’s Taehyung,” Taehyung says, quickly. “I need help.”

“What are you—?” Jeongguk starts, but Taehyung cuts him off.

“I’ve been arrested for something I didn’t do,” Taehyung says, quickly. “I need you to bail me out. I will pay you back, but—please. I need you to get me out of here. I’ll explain everything later.”

There’s a moment of silence, and Jeongguk sighs. He’s probably wondering why him. Taehyung just hopes he doesn’t ask many questions, because he’s not explaining shit over the phone. Not with the whole police station listening—last thing he needs is for them to find out he’s a sex worker, too. That’d be the cherry on top.

“Fine,” Jeongguk says, giving in. Taehyung can’t put down into words how relieved he feels at one simple word. “Where are you, and how much do you need?”

Taehyung tells him, and after that, Jeongguk tells him he’ll be there in fifteen minutes and the conversation is over. Those fifteen minutes go terribly slow for Taehyung, who has been put back in the same cell as earlier. His only entertainment is watching the seconds go by on the wall clock opposite him.

It feels like forever before the officer from before comes back and says, “Your bail has been paid. You can collect your personal objects and go now.”

Taehyung feels so relieved he could cry. After being given back all of his belongings that were confiscated when he arrived, he’s finally taken to the offices, where he sees Jeongguk. He looks painfully worried, brows frowny and lips pouty, and the sight makes Taehyung ache a little. It might have been a while, but… it’s still Jeongguk.

“Jeongguk,” he says, taking a step closer. “Oh my God, thank you so much.”

He wasn’t expecting for Jeongguk to get closer as well, much less to pull him into a tight hug, but the warmth of his body engulfing his is very much welcome. Taehyung missed it, even if he hates to admit it.

“Taehyung, what the fuck?” Jeongguk asks, pulling back a little. “They’ve told me you’re here because of drug possession. Is that true?”

“I’ll explain when we’re in the car,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk doesn’t seem convinced, so he adds, “Let’s get out of here now. Please.”

Jeongguk nods, and they both get out of the police station. The sight of Jeongguk’s car parked by the sidewalk is oddly comforting, just like the smell of it and Jeongguk’s air freshener and the feeling of the seats. Taehyung missed, all of it. And Jeongguk.

Mostly Jeongguk.

However, that calm and the feeling of safety that being back here gives him don’t last for too long. Jeongguk was bound to ask questions, especially considering how sketchy the whole situation has been, so Taehyung can’t really blame him. “You have a lot of explaining to do, Taehyung,” he says.

Taehyung sighs. He can already see he has a long, long night ahead of himself.

Chapter Text

Taehyung sits on Jeongguk’s car, looking down at his fingers as he feels Jeongguk boring holes on the side of his skull. Jeongguk wants answers, as it was to be expected. And Taehyung—well, he doesn’t know whether he wants to answer Jeongguk’s questions or not.

“It’s long to explain,” Taehyung mumbles, a bad attempt to avoid the confessing.

Jeongguk sighs, frustrated. Taehyung can’t help but feel small—as ridiculous as it sounds, and even if it is pathetic of him, Taehyung can’t help but care . He cares about what Jeongguk thinks about him.

“Taehyung, please,” Jeongguk says. “You can’t expect me to bail you out of jail and then give me no explanations. You owe me this.”

“I don’t owe you anything,” Taehyung says, letting the most bitter part of him take over. Part of it is him trying to avoid the discussion, part of it is pettiness.

“Yes, now you do,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung scowls—he might be stubborn, but so is Jeongguk. He gives him a look, and Jeongguk adds, “Drug possession? What have you gotten yourself into, Taehyung?”

Taehyung swallows down. “They’re not mine,” he says. Jeongguk gives him a skeptical look. “What? Have you seen me use or have drugs during all the months you’ve been with me?”

Jeongguk grimaces a little, and only then does Taehyung realize what he’s just said. Been with me . It’s so, so easy to let himself believe that they were actually together. Sometimes, Taehyung finds it hard to acknowledge the fact that all of it was just… not real.

“No, but a lot could have happened ever since we last saw each other,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung sighs. “I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but… I just want to know the whole truth, Taehyung. I bailed you out.”

“Are you going to hold the fucking bail against me for the rest of our existences? I can pay you back right this moment, if you take me to my apartment,” Taehyung snaps, irritated. He knows that Jeongguk has a right to ask, but he can’t help but feel angry. Jeongguk doesn’t believe him. “Because if I had known, then I would have called literally anyone but you.”

“Well, you called me, so,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung scoffs. “I’m not going to hold it against you, Taehyung. And I don’t want you to pay me back.”

“Ever so generous,” Taehyung mumbles, looking away as he crosses his arms over his chest.

There’s a beat of silence after that. Taehyung refuses to look at Jeongguk’s direction, but he can see his reflection on the car window. Jeongguk runs a hand through his hair, as if he doesn’t know what to do, or say. Taehyung can’t help but feel a little bit guilty.

“I just want to know what happened, Taehyung,” says Jeongguk, finally. He leans back against his seat and sighs, sounding defeated. “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

“I’m in trouble, already,” Taehyung says. Ironically enough, the seriousness of the situation is now starting to dawn on him, now that he’s not locked in a cell anymore. “I just—I’m in trouble, Jeongguk. I’m going to have to go to trial, I’m going to need to find a lawyer that will do a good job and won’t make me pay him what I’ve earned in the six months, and I’m going to have to do it all alone, because I can’t let Jimin find out. And all of it for a crime that I didn’t commit. And you don’t even believe me.”

He doesn’t notice he’s crying until a tear drops from his chin to his hand. Taehyung furiously rubs his eyes, trying to wipe them clean. He can’t believe he’s having a breakdown right in Jeongguk’s car.

“No, no, no—Taehyung, hey,” Jeongguk says, leaning forward and trying to hold Taehyung’s wrists. Taehyung slaps his hand away, not wanting Jeongguk to touch him, and taking leans back a little. “I believe you. I believe you, okay? And I will help you out of this mess. But I need you to tell me what happened, to do that.”

“It’s long,” Taehyung repeats. He sees Jeongguk’s defeated expression, and rushes to add, “I’ll tell you once you drive me home. I’ll wait and I’ll tell you then.”

“Didn’t you say you didn’t want Jimin to find out?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung nods, not seeing the relation. “Are you sure going home right now is a good idea?”

Taehyung thinks about it for a moment. He knows it’s not going to be easy to disguise the fact that he’s been crying, not from Jimin. And, going home right now, would mean just make up a lot of shit to Jimin, lie a lot to him. Taehyung doesn’t think he has the strength right now to make a story up, if he’s honest.

“Maybe to a hotel, then,” he says, trying to think of a place.

“Taehyung, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says, making Taehyung look at him. “You can spend the night at mine, if you want. I can drive us and you can tell me what’s happened once we get there.”

“To your place? I don’t know, Jeongguk…” Taehyung says. The last memories he has of Jeongguk’s place are Jeongguk with that other guy, so he’s not… exactly dying to get back there, if he’s honest.

“Why not? You’ve been there before,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung clicks his tongue. “You don’t have to, but…”

Taehyung waits for Jeongguk to finish his sentence, but the rest of it never comes, and Taehyung doesn’t dare ask. He sighs. As strong as Taehyung wants to be, he always ends up giving in.

“Okay,” he says. “I’ll… I’ll go to your place. Thank you, Jeongguk.”

“It’s not a big deal,” Jeongguk replies. “Just—buckle your seatbelt. We’ll be there soon.”

The ride is quiet. Over the last few weeks, Taehyung had forgotten how car rides with Jeongguk were. This time around, none of them dare turn on the radio, just silence reigning between them. But as he rests his forehead against the window and looks out, Taehyung doesn’t feel uncomfortable. The city lights give him hope, and Jeongguk’s presence beside him, for a reason he can’t pinpoint, anchors him.

The streets they drive through start getting more and more familiar, and Taehyung knows they’re getting closer to Jeongguk’s apartment. His eyelids feel heavy and his mouth has gone dry, but as soon as he sees Jeongguk’s complex appear he forces himself awake, shifting around on his seat.

“Were you asleep?” Jeongguk asks while he waits for the garage door to open. Taehyung nods, aware that Jeongguk is looking at him from the corner of his eye. He wasn’t asleep, asleep, but he was definitely closer to it than to being awake. “We don’t have to stay awake talking, then.”

“I’d rather do it now,” Taehyung says. There’s something about sleepiness that makes him braver, perhaps the fact that he’s too tired to care about talking too much.

Jeongguk just nods, parking his car on his space in the garage. Part of Taehyung hates how familiar everything feels for him—how he knows the way to the elevator by heart, how he presses the button himself once they’re both inside, how he doesn’t need to follow Jeongguk anymore.

He’s surprised when he comes in, though. Jeongguk’s place looks… very, very different from what it did before. The furniture and the decoration are the same, that’s not what calls Taehyung’s attention. But it is, quite literally, a chaos. The pillows are disarranged on the couch, where there are a couple of blankets. Dishes pile up on the coffee table, and most likely in the kitchen, as well. On top of that, the dining table is full of papers, clothes hanging from the chairs. Maybe chaos is not all that objective. It’s not the worst Taehyung has ever seen, of course not, but it’s very, very different from the pristine and immaculate place that Taehyung remembers. Not a chaos, per se, but a chaos for Jeongguk.

“Oh, fuck,” Jeongguk says, looking around himself. “I didn’t… I didn’t think of the state the apartment was in. I’m so sorry, fuck.”

Jeongguk’s words make Taehyung laugh a little, a small smile appearing on his face. Jeongguk clearly doesn’t know the kind of places Taehyung has found himself sleeping in.

“It’s just a few dishes and some disorganized pillows,” he says. “I’ve seen way worse.”

“Still,” Jeongguk says, not even taking off his jacket before moving to the coffee table and picking up the dishes. “Let me quickly take this to the kitchen.”

Taehyung nods, moving to sit on the couch. He takes advantage of Jeongguk being gone to get his phone and turn it on, sending Jimin a quick text. I won’t be coming home tonight, see you tomorrow morning love you!

As soon as he’s done Jeongguk appears from the kitchen again, his hands empty. Taehyung bites down on his lower lip, watching Jeongguk approach the couch. He sits down, not too close to Taehyung.

“So…” Jeongguk says, playing with the belt of his watch.

“So…” Taehyung repeats. “I guess I better start talking now, shouldn’t I?”

“I mean—that’d be nice, yeah,” Jeongguk says.

Taehyung nods, thinking. He should just start from the night at the club, when that Erik guy came up to him. The weeks prior to that were just a build-up, proof that Taehyung’s behavior had gotten reckless and erratic, and it had everything to do with what had happened with Jeongguk. But Taehyung is not going to tell that to Jeongguk.

“A few nights ago I was with a client, at a club,” Taehyung starts. “He’s a foreigner and comes to Seoul very often for business, and he’s been a client for a couple of years now. He’s married. And that one night, when I went to the bathroom, I had a few words with his husband.”

“His husband…?” Jeongguk asks.

Taehyung nods. “He must have followed him there, or something,” Taehyung says. “But basically, he threatened me. I was very drunk, so when he got aggressive I just nodded along and told him I wouldn’t meet up with his husband again, and he left.”

“And you did meet with him again, didn’t you?” Jeongguk asks.

“Yes…” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk lets out a shaky breath. “I was with him tonight. And suddenly, in the middle of dinner, a waiter drops something right by our side. At first I didn’t think anything of it, he just seemed very nervous and took ages to pick what he dropped. But he was on the exact same side they found the drugs in.”

“What drugs?” Jeongguk asks.

“Cocaine,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk presses his lips into a thin line. “It’s not mine, Jeongguk. I swear. I—look, I’ve done it before, and more recently than I’m proud to admit. But I don’t buy it, and much less, I don’t take it to dinner with me. I am not that stupid.”

“I believe you, I believe you,” Jeongguk says. “But how can you be so sure that it was him the one behind it?”

“I just am,” Taehyung says. “Out of all the people who could possibly want to fuck me up, he’s the only one that had a way of knowing where I’d be tonight. And he threatened me—he told me that he’d show me the consequences of being a homewrecker, or some shit like that. It has to be him.”

Jeongguk nods, wordlessly. Taehyung is feeling terribly anxious. There’s a tight, horrible knot in his throat, and he feels like it’s not letting him breathe well. He’s not asking for much, is he? He just needs someone to believe him. He can figure out the rest on his own, but he, at least, needs the reassurance that someone is on his side.

He seems like he’s deep in thought, and Taehyung doesn’t want to interrupt him. After a while, Jeongguk says, “You didn’t touch you, did you? The bag.”

“I didn’t,” replies Taehyung, shaking his head. “Do you think they’ll clear me off if they don’t find my fingerprints on it…?”

“It’s going to take more than that. It was on your pocket, after all,” Jeongguk says. “If I’m not mistaken, drug possession can get up to a few years in jail, but I’m not very sure right now. I’ll have to ask someone. I should be able to get you a good lawyer.”

“You don’t have to,” Taehyung rushes to reply.

“I said I would help,” Jeongguk points out.

“Yeah, but you don’t have to,” Taehyung replies. He doesn’t want Jeongguk to feel obligated to help him, much less go out of his way to do so. Why would he? They don’t even talk anymore. “I’m not a damsel in distress. I can handle this alone.”

Jeongguk sighs through his nose, cracking the knuckles on his thumbs. “I know you’re not one, Taehyung. And I know you can handle this alone. But I can guarantee you a good lawyer for the firm, and I can do so for a way lower price than you’d find anywhere else for someone as good,” Jeongguk says. “Just—don’t be difficult. You can’t just call me and then try to stop me from helping you out.”

“I just don’t want you to feel like I am taking advantage, and like you have to help me out,” Taehyung says. “I didn’t call you because I wanted an easy way out of it.”

“Taehyung, I know that,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung can’t decipher his tone, so he just stays quiet. “Why did you call me?”

Taehyung shrugs. “You were the only person I could think of,” Taehyung says, looking down so he can avoid meeting Jeongguk’s eyes. “I don’t want Jimin involved in any of this, and I didn’t know who else I could call.” None of them say anything for a moment, and then, in a lower voice, Taehyung adds. “I’m sorry.”

“No, no—don’t apologize,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung presses his lips together, nodding. He knows Jeongguk didn’t mean it like this, but now it occurs to Taehyung that maybe he’s bothering him. They haven’t had any contact for weeks, and it had been Jeongguk the first one to put distance between them. “It’s just weird for you to hide things from Jimin.”

The words make Taehyung feel almost sick. Maybe one month ago, it would have been weird, yeah. But now? Taehyung isn’t very sure.

“That… I’ve been keeping things from him lately,” Taehyung replies. Jeongguk frowns. Taehyung doesn’t know why he’s coming clean to Jeongguk about this. The thing is, if he can’t talk to Jimin, he really can’t talk to anyone. Taehyung has never felt lonely because of it, because he has Jimin. But now… Jeongguk is the only other person listening, so that might be why Taehyung feels the urge to tell him. “I have been going out with clients—as in, clubbing. And I’ve been drinking and taking other things, and I haven’t told Jimin, because I know he wouldn’t approve of it, because it’s not safe.”

“Then why do you do it?” Jeongguk asks.

“I guess I just don’t care a whole lot,” Taehyung says, leaning back against the couch. It’s the first time he admits it out loud, or to himself. He’s been aware of his lack of self-preservation and self-care, but it’s the first time he just… admits it to himself. He lets out a bitter laugh, and says, “It sounds so bad to say that, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, Tae…”

Taehyung closes his eyes, resting his head against the wall. Despite of his confession, Taehyung still feels something burdening him. One more thing that he hasn’t told Jimin, and that he’s ashamed to tell Jeongguk. Still, he needs to let it out.

“Do you want to know when this started?” Taehyung asks.

“When?” Jeongguk asks. He sounds like part of him is scared to know. Truth is, part of Taehyung is scared of him knowing, too. Maybe they’re both cowards—that would explain why they got in this situation.

“The night I came here,” he says. He doesn’t bother to specify which one, but something tells him that Jeongguk is aware of what night he’s referring to. “After I left I went home and changed, and then I went to a club with some acquaintances and got more fucked up than I have in years.”

Taehyung opens his eyes then, just to find Jeongguk’s already on his. Jeongguk is giving him a look that Taehyung can’t decipher, but the intensity of it makes him feel small, in a way.

“Why?” Jeongguk asks. “Why did you do that?”

“You know why I did,” Taehyung says.

Jeongguk swallows down. He’s not going to say anything else, but they both know what he meant by that. There is an unspoken agreement between them to not talk about that, so Jeongguk just looks away.

“You can take the bed, I can sleep here, on the couch,” Jeongguk says, changing the matter.

“Oh, no way,” Taehyung says. “I’ve already caused you enough trouble. I’ll get the couch. It’s your house, after all.”

Jeongguk doesn’t look too sure. He tries to argue with Taehyung, but he stays firm—there’s no way he’ll be taking Jeongguk’s bed. He’s already done enough. Taking his bed, on top of everything, would just be cruel. In the end, he manages to convince Jeongguk to just give him a bed pillow and a thicker blanket

“I’ll see you in the morning, then,” Jeongguk says. “Will you still be here by then?”

Taehyung feels his cheeks heat up. He was actually planning to leave before Jeongguk woke up, but right now, he feels like he’s been caught. He’s too embarrassed to just say no , and doesn’t want to seem rude, when Jeongguk is kindly letting him stay here.

“I will,” Taehyung says. “I will be here, yeah.”

Jeongguk nods. “Goodnight, Tae,” he says. “Sleep tight.”

Taehyung watches Jeongguk stand up and leave, holding back a sigh. “Goodnight, Jeongguk. See you tomorrow.”

 

 

Loyal to his word, Taehyung doesn’t flee Jeongguk’s house before he’s awake. He doesn’t even get the chance to, because, unlike all the other times he’s stayed over, Jeongguk wakes up before he does. It’s actually the sound of the flush in the bathroom what wakes him up.

He’s startled at first, until he takes into the sight before him and all the events from last night rush back to his mind. Dinner with Alexander, the police station, calling Jeongguk, their talk… He can’t believe so much shit happened in one single night.

Just the fact that he’s been framed like this and arrested is surrealist. Never in his years of escorting something like this has happened, even if there have always been people being lied to and cheated on. Taehyung is feeling calmer now, but part of him is still very scared.

And then, on the other hand, there’s Jeongguk. Taehyung had already accepted the fact that he’d never see Jeongguk again, and he was okay with it—as okay with it as his heartbreak allowed him to be, at least.

Now he feels like he’s back to square one. Everything Jeongguk does confuses him deeply. And now, that he’s insisting on helping him out, Taehyung can’t help but feel like he cares—why else would he be so adamant on helping him? And even if a part of Taehyung wants to believe it, he knows that it doesn’t really matter.

This morning is nothing at all like the other ones in Jeongguk’s apartment. There is no breakfast, no joking around, and much less, no slow dancing on Jeongguk’s living room. Jeongguk doesn’t offer to give him a ride back home, and Taehyung doesn’t ask for one. It’s crazy how feelings work—when Taehyung leaves Jeongguk’s place that day, he feels further away from him than ever.

He walks back to his apartment, even if it’s not close. If he’s honest, the walk helps him clear his mind. It also gives him enough time to make up some story for last night. He’ll keep it simple—just say Alexander took him back to his hotel. Jimin doesn’t know anything about the husband, so Taehyung highly doubts that there will be any questions.

Jimin is still asleep when Taehyung gets home, so he slips in the shower. As comfortable as Jeongguk’s couch is, his muscles hurt from sleeping in a bad posture all night long, so the warm water is a relief. He was hoping it would help to make the feeling of anguish and nervousness go away, but it turns out to be quite fruitless in that department.

This time, when he gets back into their shared bedroom, Jimin is awake and lazily scrolling down his phone.

“There he is,” Jimin says as soon as he sees him appear, stretching on the bed with a squeaky sound. Taehyung can’t help but smile at the adorableness of the situation. “How was your night, babe?”

“It was alright,” Taehyung lies. It was far from alright, God. “Same as always. How was yours?”

“I just sat here watching Forensic Files all night,” replies Jimin.

“Forensic Files, huh?” asks Taehyung. “Someone was really, really bored last night.”

“Hoseok had work and you were gone, so I had to keep myself busy somehow,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows. “You look tired. Has Alexander been keeping you awake, huh?”

Taehyung fakes out a laugh. If only Jimin knew… “Not for long. I just didn’t sleep well tonight. You know how I get sometimes.”

“I’ll fight your body,” Jimin says, making space in the bed next to him. “Come here. You need a best friend hug.”

Taehyung laughs, but obeys and moves so Jimin can wrap his arms around him, pulling him into a tight hug. The embrace is comforting, and it’s exactly what he needed. It’s almost as if Jimin’s instinct somehow told him that Taehyung needed a hug. It makes Taehyung feel a little better, but it also makes the feeling of guilt from hiding things from him intensify.

He’ll see how things go. If this can be solved quick and easily, then he won’t tell Jimin. But if, on the other side, things get messier… Then, he won’t be able to keep it from him for any longer. Jimin is his rock, and right now, he needs him more than ever. The only thing keeping Taehyung from telling Jimin everything is that he doesn’t want to disappoint him.

They’ve been together for so long and through so much, and Taehyung knows that Jimin would never judge him, or leave him. But in all honestly? He’s actually terrified of how Jimin might feel about his recent actions. He doesn’t want to upset him, or worry him. But above anything else, what scares him the most is the possibility of Jimin being disappointed.

“I love you,” Taehyung murmurs, words muffled by Jimin’s shoulders. “You really are the best friend anyone could ever ask for.”

“I know I am, but you should tell me more often,” Jimin says. Taehyung jokingly pinches his side. “Hey! I’m just kidding. I love you too, Tae. You know that.”

Taehyung knows, he does. It might be a little sad, but Jimin is the only good and happy thing that he has right now, and he’s going to make sure he takes care of their friendship. Lately he’s been doing more damage than good to it, but that ends today. After all of this is over, he’s done keeping things from Jimin and lying to him.

 

 

Taehyung didn’t know what to expect when Jeongguk asked him to meet a few days after the prison incident. They hadn’t had any contact whatsoever until Jeongguk sent him a text, just a quick I’ve found you a lawyer. Meet me here at 5PM tomorrow , followed by an address. It was typical Jeongguk: straight to the point, formal, impersonal. Taehyung had just replied okay, I’ll be there xx , and nothing else was said after that.

After searching for the address on his Maps up, Taehyung discovers that it’s actually the offices of Jeon & Associates. It doesn’t take much for Jeongguk to put two and two together and figure out that that’s the firm that Jeongguk works for, the one founded by his father. Something about going there seems incredibly intimidating to Taehyung, but he can’t back off from this right now, or ask to meet somewhere else.

He dresses discreet and smartly, and gets ready for his meeting. Luckily, Jimin wasn’t home at the time, so he doesn’t have to make up any bullshit excuses. He gets there early, and waits sitting on a bench opposite from the office until it’s time for the meeting. As someone whose job requires booking appointments, he knows that people who come in early are almost as unnerving as those who arrive late.

When it’s finally time, he forces himself to muster some courage and walk to the building. He gets on the elevator and presses the floor for the building, nervously chewing down on his lip as he waits. God, that was probably the longest elevator ride in his entire life.

One of his worries what exactly what to do as soon as he arrived. His best shot was just walking to the receptionist and asking for Jeon Jeongguk. Luckily, and much to his relief, Jeongguk was waiting for him there.

“Oh,” Taehyung says as soon as he walks into the reception and sees him there. Jeongguk, who was sitting and looking down to his phone, lifts his eyes up from his phone and stands up. “Hello.”

“Good afternoon,” Jeongguk says. “I’m glad to see you’ve come.”

Oh God, Taehyung thinks to himself. He can already see how awkward the next while will be.

“Of course,” Taehyung says, nodding. “I told you I’d be here. You know I’m loyal to my word.”

“I do, I do,” Jeongguk says, followed by a hum. “Let’s go, then.”

Taehyung doesn’t make any questions. He considers asking who the lawyer Jeongguk got for him was, but pointless is asking—not only he’s a minute away from finding out, but no matter what Jeongguk replies, it’s not like the name will ring any bells. So when Jeongguk gestures at him and turns around to start walking, Taehyung just follows him.

The office, as it was to be expected, looks impeccable. Big and high windows and cream-colored walls, the same dark, rich wood in all the furniture that Taehyung can lay his eyes on. It’s neatly decorated, but Taehyung wasn’t expecting anything less from the office that Jeongguk’s father owns. Not after seeing where Jeongguk lives in.

They step into a long corridor, Taehyung reading the plaques in the doors as they walk by. He sees Jeongguk’s name, and Seokjin’s as well. They’re halfway down the corridor when they stop before a door, Jeongguk knocking on it. When  Taehyung gets to read the name on the plaque, his eyes widen.

Kim Namjoon .

Before he has the time to ask anything, Namjoon’s voice from the inside of the office calls, “Come on in!” Jeongguk’s hand moves to the handle and pushes the office open, and Taehyung knows there’s no way back now.

He shouldn’t care, in all honesty. He shouldn’t care about Namjoon knowing about any of this, because it’s not like they’re anything. But the same part that won’t let him let go of Jeongguk, makes him feel ashamed right now. He wants to play a part in Jeongguk’s life that doesn’t adjust to reality and to their circumstances, ang he guesses that extends to Namjoon, Seokjin, Yoongi... He still wants Jeongguk’s friends to like him, to be his friends. He doesn’t want them to know he’s an escort.

Hushing his own thoughts, Taehyung steps into Namjoon’s office feeling a little defeated. Namjoon stands up to greet him, and after that Jeongguk and him sit on the black chairs on the other side of Namjoon’s desk.

“It’s been a while,” Namjoon says, giving Taehyung a dimpled smile.

Maybe it’s the words, maybe it’s the familiarity of Namjoon’s tone and the dimples on his cheeks, but something about it makes Taehyung a little sad. Taehyung pushes the feeling away and replies.

“It really has been, yeah,” Taehyung starts. Then, he adds, “So… You’ll be my lawyer.”

“I will, yeah,” Namjoon says, nodding. “I hope that’s alright.”

Taehyung nods, and Jeongguk interjects then, “Maybe you would have preferred someone you didn’t know from before, but I don’t think there’s anyone more suitable than Namjoon for this. And he said he’d do it as a favor for a friend.” Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip. “I have already told him what you told me.”

“So then you know,” Taehyung says. Not only referring to the details about his arrest and the case overall, but to the fact that he’s an escort—that he’s not who Namjoon thought he was.

“I do, Taehyung,” Namjoon says. The use of his real name is all the confirmation Taehyung needed. “Jeongguk told me, but we’re going to need to go over the details again. I hope that’s not a bother.”

“Not at all,” Taehyung replies before he starts telling.

Just like it happened when he had told Jeongguk, it feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He used to be a skeptic about what people say about how sharing one’s feelings always helps, but ever since he’s known Jimin he knows that it is very true. Because he’s being stubborn and not the best friend ever, he hasn’t been telling Jimin about certain stuff, so he had forgotten the relief that letting things out was.

Because he knows Namjoon needs a little more background than Jeongguk, he tells him about the escorting—how it works, how he met Jeongguk, and how he agreed to meet with Alexander that one night at the club. Namjoon nods as he listens, and by the time Taehyung is finished, he seems to be deep in thought as he scratches his chin.

“That’s fair enough,” Namjoon says once he’s done. “Our laws on drugs and drugs possession are quite strict, but with a record like yours and with so little evidence I think the worst has passed. Proving you’ve been framed will turn out to be a little more difficult, but we can definitely work on it.”

“Work on it how?” Taehyung asks. He’s feeling quite hopeless, at the time—he doesn’t know how to make people believe him, since there is a big possibility they will just think he’s lying to save his ass. Who can blame them, though?

“For starters, I’m going to need to find the waiter from the restaurant, so I’m going to need to ask you for a more specific description and the name of the restaurant. If you remember the day and hour, it’d also be a great help,” Namjoon says. “Also… your client, the man you were with. He’d also make a great witness.”

Taehyung takes a breath. The waiter from the restaurant? He’s cool with him testifying, since he knows nothing about him. But Alexander…? Not so good. Not with what he knows, and not with how different his views on sex work are from South Korea’s.

“Are you sure?” Taehyung asks. Namjoon gives him a confused look. “I just—he knows I’m an escort. If he ended up saying something about my job, or whatever… Not good.”

“If you give me a way to contact him I can ask him to testify, and make sure he doesn’t get you in more trouble,” Namjoon says. Taehyung nods—he trusts Namjoon and his gut on this. Not only because he knows how smart he is, but also because Jeongguk himself has said that Namjoon is his best shot, and he trusts Jeongguk’s criteria. “Does the husband know you’re an escort, perhaps?”

“I have no clue,” Taehyung says, sighing. “Not that I know of. At least, when we talked he just seemed… pissed I was trying to steal his husband from him, so my guess is that he doesn’t know and thinks I was trying to get somewhere with Alexander, or something. Plus, if he knew about it, it would have been easier for him to tell the police about my real occupation instead of trying to frame me like this.”

“That’s what I think, too,” Namjoon says. “So, I’ll contact the restaurant and find the waiter and talk to Alexander. The restaurant will probably have some recordings from security cameras, unless we’re terribly unlucky. And as for the waiter, from what you’ve said about his behavior he seemed very easily… manipulated, maybe? So don’t worry—you’ll be safe.”

Hearing that from Namjoon is actually a relief. Jeongguk wasn’t very encouraging the other night, and he himself had been leaning more towards negative thoughts. But Namjoon sounds very sure of himself when he says that he’ll get out of this one, so Taehyung believes him.

“I think Alexander will help. He… he’s always had a soft spot for me, I’d say,” Taehyung says. He is looking at Namjoon, but from the corner of his eye he can see the way Jeongguk’s jaw clenches before he looks away. “It’s not like he’s in love with me, or like he likes me, but… I just think he’ll help.”

“Then that plays in our favor, then,” Namjoon says. “We have plenty of time until the trial to work this out, so really—stay calm. We’ll work this out, and in a way so no one knows what your occupation is.”

“Thank you,” Taehyung says. “This means a lot to me, really.”

“I’m glad to be of help,” Namjoon says. “I considered you a friend—still do, regardless of the circumstances.”

Namjoon’s words make Taehyung feel happier, warmth spreading in his stomach. They thought of him as a friend , and that makes him happy. Taehyung wishes he could have called him his friends, too.

Jeongguk and he leave soon after, once he’s given Namjoon all the details that he asked for. It’s incredible how his perspective of the situation has changed in so little time. When he first arrived here, he felt sad and mostly defeated. But right now, he’s feeling hopeful.

 

 

When Jeongguk offers to drive him home this time around, Taehyung doesn’t even try to decline the proposition. Not only because he knows Jeongguk won’t take no for an answer, no. But because Taehyung has been overthinking, and there are some things that he wants an answer to. An answer that only Jeongguk can give him.

He decides to wait until Jeongguk is parked before of his building. Taehyung can’t help but think of all the times they’ve been in this same position, and about how Jeongguk’s car has become the scenery to moments that Taehyung considers significant and turning points in their relationship. Their fight then Taehyung told him about the sugar daddy, Jeongguk’s apology the night of the swingers’ club, Jeongguk taking his hand on his while he drives… Some are sad, but most of them making Taehyung’s chest feel a little swollen with a feeling he’s been avoiding putting a name to, even if he now is able to recognize it.

If he closes his eyes, he still can hear to the soft hum of Jeongguk’s voice whenever a song he recognized played on the radio. Taehyung wishes he could go back to those days.

He can’t help but feel a bit nervous when they get there, Jeongguk parking the car in the spot that had once become his usual one. There’s a sigh, followed by a beat of silence.

“I hope today was of help,” Jeongguk starts, his voice breaking the quietness that reigned between them.

“It was,” Taehyung replies, quickly. “Not only for the case, but also for my peace of mind. I feel… much calmer right now. Thank you for that.”

“You should thank Namjoon, really,” Jeongguk says. “Until now, I wasn’t very positive, and I’m sure that couldn’t have helped you. Namjoon was the logical to our pessimism, I guess. I’m just glad it’s made you feel more relaxed.”

Taehyung nods, and they both fall into silence for another moment. Taehyung reaches forward and undoes his seatbelt, the sound of the click filling the car.

“Jeongguk,” he says after what feels like ages. Jeongguk shifts his eyes from the steering wheel to him. “Can I ask you something?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jeongguk replies. “What is it?”

Taehyung takes a deep breath. It might not feel like too big of a deal, but for him, asking this is important. Being brave enough to put it down into words and ask Jeongguk is important. And Jeongguk’s answer is, more than anything, important.

Which is probably why the words seem stuck on his throat. He’s been picturing this moment and how he’d word the question since the moment Jeongguk and he stepped into the car, but now nothing seems to be coming out.

“I just—I need to know something,” he needs. “Why did you stop messaging?”

Jeongguk takes a deep breath, as if he’s trying to put his thoughts in order before speaking. It can’t be more than a few seconds, but the wait turns torturously long for Taehyung. He needs to know , and now that he’s asked, he’s feeling more nervous than ever about the answer.

“Does it matter?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung winces.

“Well, yes,” Taehyung replies. “It matters to me.”

“Because it’s over, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says, the sounds harsh on Taehyung’s ears. “What you and I had. It’s over—it never even began.”

“It never even began?” Taehyung replies, turning to look at Jeongguk. Jeongguk doesn’t move, still looking ahead of himself. “So you’re trying to tell me that I made it all up in my head? That it wasn’t real?”

“No, that’s not what I said,” Jeongguk says, still not looking at him.

“Then what do you mean?” Taehyung asks, insisting. Jeongguk doesn’t reply, and Taehyung is starting to feel a little exasperated about his answers—well, or the lack of them. He lets himself get a little carried away by his own emotions, and asks, “Did you never feel anything for me, Jeongguk?”

“That is exactly the problem, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says. Only then does he turn on his seat to look at Taehyung.  “I felt too much, way too much. And that’s why I couldn’t keep going, not like this.”

“Is this about my job?” Taehyung asks. Again, no reply. “You knew what you were getting yourself into, Jeongguk. You met me through the escorting. What were you expecting?”

“For starters, I wasn’t expecting to fall for you,” Jeongguk says, sincere. He can’t exactly pinpoint why, but something about the words and the brutal honesty on them sending shivers down Taehyung’s spine. “I don’t know, Taehyung. But this is not what I want in a relationship. I thought it’d eventually evolve into exclusivity, and it hasn’t.”

“Jeongguk, this is my job,” Taehyung replies. “It’s not something I do because I like it, or because I want to. So I’m sorry if this doesn’t give you the exclusivity you need, but I can’t just quit.”

“But you can,” Jeongguk says. “And I’ll give you anything you need, and anything you want. And you will never have to do this again, to sell yourself and your body.”

“Jeongguk—stop,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk’s sighs through his nose. “I’m not someone you have to save, and I am not going to become your trophy husband, or whatever. I just—this is what I do, and I can’t just stop suddenly.”

Taehyung’s hear a crack, and when he looks down he sees Jeongguk cracking his knuckles, fists clenched on his lap. “Fine,” Jeongguk says, finally. “If you can’t stop, then I can’t keep seeing you.”

“You’re being so selfish and so petulant,” Taehyung says.

“No, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says. “I am just looking out for myself and for my own feelings. Because I know it’s going to tear me apart to keep falling deeper and deeper for you, knowing that I’m not by far the only one who has you. And maybe it’s easy for you to make a separation between who you feel for and who you don’t care about, but I can’t. I can’t.”

Taehyung swallows down, thickly. He has been torturing himself by weeks by trying to convince himself that Jeongguk never felt anything for him, and he couldn’t have been more wrong. But truth is, this doesn’t make it much better.

“Okay,” Taehyung says, nodding. “It’s over, then. For good.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says in a mumble. His voice sounds small, and Taehyung hates how something breaks in his chest when he hears it. “For good. I’m sorry, Taehyung.”

Taehyung doesn’t say anything other than a farewell, and then he’s getting out of the car and closing the door behind himself. He got his answers. And somehow, they have ruined him even more.

Chapter Text

The reason why Taehyung kept so many things from Jimin was never out of distrust, or because the bond that had kept them close for so many years had weakened in the slightest. No, Taehyung just wanted to prevent Jimin from dying out of worry—they have always looked out for each other, but Jimin has in him a protective instinct even bigger than Taehyung’s. He is caring like no one Taehyung has known before, and for that reason, Taehyung knows that Jimin would find it hard to sleep at night or even let himself enjoy the good things happening to him, if he knew about Taehyung. Jimin doesn’t have to pay for the messes Taehyung gets into, and he of course doesn’t have to sacrifice his own happiness.

However, after the conversation with Jeongguk in the car, Taehyung feels too much. Too much to stop the tears from flowing once he’s inside the elevator, too much to not break out into a sob when the door to the apartment closes behind him, too much to keep quiet.

Jimin comes out of the room, alarmed. It can’t last for longer than a fraction of a second, but the moment Jimin’s eyes meet his seems never-ending to Taehyung. He’s there, standing with his back resting against their front door, tears streaming down his face and face contorted in a wince. His body shakes, and he feels pathetic. Pathetic for breaking down over his love for a man with everything he’s been through, pathetic for falling for him in the first place, and pathetic because he can’t handle the trouble he got himself into. And there’s not a hint of judgement in Jimin’s gaze, there never is—just pure worry, eyes widening when he takes into what’s in front of him.

“Taehyung?” Jimin says, not waiting for a response before he’s getting closer. It seems like he doesn’t know what to do—first he pulls Taehyung into a hug, then he pulls back again and shakes his shoulders. “Tae, what’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

Jimin sounds panicked, so Taehyung just shakes his head to let him now he’s not hurt. He feels like his throat is closed and words won’t come out.

He understands why Jimin is close to panic right now. For however long they’ve been friends, they’ve told each other everything. If Taehyung once broke down into tears, Jimin knew why before Taehyung even had to explain, because he was aware of what was going on with Taehyung, his worries, his troubles.

“I’m sorry, Jimin,” Taehyung says, managing to get the words out at last. “There’s so, so much I have to tell you. I’m so sorry.”

It’s hard to stop the tears once they’ve started falling, and something Taehyung appreciates is that Jimin gives him time before asking for more explanation. He takes him to the bedroom and holds him while he cries, rubbing comforting circles on Taehyung’s back as Taehyung dampens his shirt with his tears.

Once he can bring himself to talk again, Taehyung starts telling him everything. The memories of what Jimin knows and what Taehyung has kept from him are blurry now, so he’s quite sure he goes over some things that Jimin is more than aware of. Still, it wouldn’t make sense to talk about the rest without starting from the beginning of this chaos—from the night Taehyung decided to visit Jeongguk and found him with someone else.

Jimin listens carefully. He doesn’t say anything as Taehyung retells how he broke the rules they had both set just to go partying with clients because it was the distraction he needed from his heartbreak. When Taehyung tells him about Alexander and Erik he doesn’t comment either, but Taehyung swears he can see his tiny fist clench in something akin to anger. And then Taehyung tells him about jail, about Jeongguk bailing him out and taking him to Namjoon, and finally, about the conversation in the car.

“That’s…” Jimin starts once Taehyung is done, looking at him with expectant eyes. “That’s a lot, Taehyung.”

“I know,” Taehyung says, voice harsh from crying. “I know it’s a lot to take in. And I know it’s a lot to keep from you. I’m so, so sorry.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Jimin says. “That’s a lot to go through on your own, and that’s a lot to bottle up,” he adds. “I wish you had told me.”

When he says that, it doesn’t come out as bitter, or hurt. It comes out in a way that makes Taehyung feel oddly at ease, and that makes him realize how stupid he’s been for keeping it to himself. Perhaps, if he had shared all these things with Jimin before, things wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand. And even if they did, Taehyung is sure that he wouldn’t have felt as hopeless.

“I wish I had, too,” Taehyung confesses. “And I really am sorry, Minnie.”

“You don’t have to apologize to me,” Jimin replies. “I don’t… I don’t even know where to begin, Taehyung.”

“I’m just feeling overwhelmed,” Taehyung says. “Namjoon has already said that he’s got this, and that he’s going to get me out of this mess. I’m waiting to hear back from him again, but I know he’s good at what he does. There’s still a possibility, but…”

“No buts,” Jimin says. “You’re going to get out of this. I’m sure it will be proven you’ve been framed. There’s no way you’re paying for a crime you didn’t commit.”

Taehyung doesn’t reply, just nods and looks down at his knees, and this time Jimin does pull him in for a hug. Taehyung wraps his arms around Jimin as well, squeezing him tight. All the crying has made him feel lightheaded, but overall he’s feeling like a weight has been lifted off his shoulder.

They stay like that for a few minutes, Taehyung’s irregular breathing filling the room until he eventually starts crying. There’s still a terrible pain in his chest, though, and right now he longs for numbness.

Jimin is the first one to break the silence. He says, “And now, about Jeongguk…”

“I love him,” Taehyung says, interrupting. He’s been keeping the truth away from himself for some time, and even if he had already admitted his feelings by now, this is the first time he properly… brands it. “I love him so much, Jimin. And I feel so stupid for it.”

“You’re not at all stupid,” Jimin replies. “Much less for falling in love. The heart wants what it wants, Tae.”

“My heart can fuck off,” Taehyung says, making Jimin smile sadly at him. “It’s over now, Jimin. It’s over for good, we’ve decided.”

“But you know he wants to be with you, too,” Jimin says.

Perhaps that’s the worst part, Taehyung thinks. To know that they both want the same thing, but that their feelings aren’t enough to keep the both of them together. It’s a sad thought to have, that one—sometimes love is not enough, no matter how strong it is. A sad truth that everyone knows, but no one wants to acknowledge out of fear it will happen to them.

“Not like this,” Taehyung says, bitterly. “Not with this job, Jimin, and I can’t blame him. I know I’d hate it if it were him doing it, if he had someone having him in ways that I want him for myself. And I know this because I remember the pain I felt when I went to his and he was with someone else. So, how can I blame him? How can I when I’ve felt the way he does, and when it’s driven me to all of this?”

“Taehyung—”

“I hate it, Jimin,” Taehyung says, not letting him say what he wanted to say. “I hate this job so fucking much. I hate the way it makes me feel, like I’m not more than a fucktoy, like I’m not even human. I hate that it’s taking away from me things that I love. My family, Jeongguk—fuck, even sex. I hate that someone can have me for some cash, and I hate that they get to choose how they want me to dress up, and how they want me to behave. Those are things that should be on me, I feel like this is taking away my freedom. And most of all, I hate that I feel like I’m stuck with it, Jimin. Above anything else, I hate that I can’t quit and just leave it behind me.”

“But why can’t you?” Jimin says.

“Because I can’t,” Taehyung says, voice breaking down again. These are thoughts he’s managed to keep at bay for three years, but it’s all coming out now. The self-loathing is, and Taehyung can’t help but shake as he adds, “Because I’m not good for anything else than fucking and being fucked, Jimin. Because what am I supposed to do?”

“That is so, so not true,” Jimin says. Taehyung shakes his head, refusing to listen, and Jimin takes his face in his palm and forces him to look at him. “Listen here, Taehyung. Those are things about yourself I’m never going to allow you to say. You’re worth millions—you’ve ended up here because life has been cruel to you, but it’s not true that you’re only good for this. There’s so, so much value in you. And you’re good at plenty of things.”

“Then why am I here?” Taehyung says. It’s a question he’s asked himself lots of times, during sleepless nights that seemed way longer than they actually were. “How did I get this? I went to college, this was just provisional—why am I here still?”

“Because you got trapped in it, babe,” Jimin says, wiping Taehyung’s tears away with his thumbs. “Because something no one tells you when you enter this world is how fucking hard it is to exit. But this isn’t forever, Tae. We’re going to get out of this—you’re going to leave this, and then spend the rest of your life fucking picking out furniture and wallpaper.”

Taehyung can’t help but laugh a little at Jimin’s words, his laughter coming out a little choked. God, he wishes he could be out there picking out furniture and wallpaper, he really does. It’s unfair, he thinks. He hates his luck, he hates that his parents had little money, and he hates himself a tiny bit. Even if he tries to hide all of it, he hates it, and how unfair the world is. Because if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that he doesn’t deserve this. Even if it’s his own choices and decisions that brought him to where he is, he doesn’t. No one does.

“I feel so hopeless, Jimin,” Taehyung confesses. He knows part of it is because during times as turbulent as the last months have been, he’s missed the strongest form of support he’s known during all of this: Jimin’s. But this is feeling so strong that he hasn’t ever felt before, not even when he used to work at the club. “I don’t know what to do.”

“You need to get away from all of this,” Jimin says. Taehyung gives him a confused look. “Even if it’s for a little while. You need to get away from this job, from Jeongguk, from Seoul.”

It clicks then, what Jimin is trying to tell him. Jimin is trying to tell him he needs to go home.

“I am not going to Daegu,” Taehyung says, rotund. “That’s going to make me feel worse.”

“Being here right now is not good for you, Taehyung,” Jimin explains. “And we both know that if you’re in Seoul, you’re going to be escorting.”

“But being there makes me feel like shit, too,” he replies.

“I know you feel guilty for lying to your family, but maybe spending some time with them and away from the mess that the last few months have been will make your mind clearer,” Jimin says. “Taehyung, you… You need to make a decision. This job clearly is taking a toll on your mental health, and while it might be because the last months have been stressful, maybe you can’t do this anymore. Go home. Reflect a lot. And when you get back we’ll see how you feel then, and we’ll make a decision.”

Taehyung knows Jimin is right, even if his suggestion isn’t ideal. Time away seems… pretty ideal, right now. He’s not too enthused about having to go home and lie to his family for however long he stays, but he guesses it’s better than being here. Like Jimin said, he needs to go home and ponder a lot of things—what’s best for him and his health right now, and what he should do next.

“What if there’s any news about the trial, though?” Taehyung asks. At this point, he’s just looking for excuses not to go. “What if Namjoon wants to meet up and I’m at Daegu?”

“I’m sure those things could be discussed through emails or through the phone,” Jimin says. “And if not, you can always get the train back. You’re going to Daegu, not to the other corner of the world.”

Taehyung nods, biting on the inside of his cheek. “Will you be okay while I’m away?” he asks.

Jimin laughs, nodding. “Yes, Tae, I’ll be okay,” Taehyung says. “You know I always slow down when you’re not here, anyway. I will miss you terribly and I’ll be bored as hell, but I’ll be fine.”

“At least now you have Hoseok to occupy your time,” he says, making Jimin raise an eyebrow at him. “I’ll go then. I’ll go to Daegu.”

“Good,” Jimin says. Taehyung smiles at him, tight lipped and sad. He’s hurt, but after talking to Jimin he feels a little better about… well, everything. A little more hopeful. “And, Tae… I’m always here. Even if you think it’s going to upset me, which it probably will, and like it’s not something you can talk to me about. I’m here for you, no matter what. And even if I worry too much sometimes, know that I’ll be here to support you. I’m always on your side, unconditionally.”

Taehyung’s eyes water at the words. It’s things like this that show how important Jimin is to him, especially because of their profession. Taehyung knows that hadn’t it been for Jimin, things would be a lot darker for him. But it goes both ways—he’s been there to keep Jimin up on his feet many times in the past, and will keep doing it. They’re each other’s guardian angels, after all.

This gives Taehyung renewed energy. He’s been stumbling during the last few months, but he hasn’t fallen, and he won’t. He’s going to get over all of this—for his family, for Jimin. But most importantly, he’s going to do it for himself.

 

 

The day Taehyung leaves Seoul for Daegu is cloudy and rainy, and when Jimin says goodbye to him in the morning he jokes about how the town is sad to see Taehyung go.

Spring is taking the best out of the weather, and even if Taehyung was planning to walk to the station now that it’s warm enough, the rain makes it impossible for him to. It’s probably for the best that he takes a taxi either way. He has a tendency to overpack, and walking to the station with a heavy bag full of things he won’t need doesn’t seem like a fun idea.

He has only bought one ticket. He doesn’t know when he’ll be returning because Jimin told him to only come back when he feels ready to. Taehyung doesn’t know when that will be, though—part of him just wants to go to Daegu and run away from all of his problems now. It’d be so easy to just hide from all of this, find shelter in his mother’s arms.

As the train starts moving and the scenery changes before his eyes, Taehyung daydreams of a better life. He hates the saying money doesn’t bring happiness so much. Sure, having a disgusting amount of money is nowhere near enough for someone to feel happy. But money gives stability, which is something that Taehyung has been missing for some time now. If his family had money, he wouldn’t have had to resort to working during college, much less as a stripper, and later on, as an escort. He doesn’t resent them for that, but he resents fate.

Another reason why he hates fate is for putting Jeongguk in his way. He thinks back on the happy and hopeful feeling in his stomach whenever Jeongguk and he were together, but now it’s just a blurry memory. The pain has taken over, and Taehyung can’t bring himself to thank fate for the good moments. Not when what came after feels like this.

These last few days, Taehyung has been giving a lot of thought to Jeongguk telling him to take care that night they went to the swingers’ club. Taehyung had thought a lot about it back then, but he assumed it was just Jeongguk caring. Little did he know that the reason why Jeongguk said that was because he was planning on ghosting after that. Perhaps he felt the same spark Taehyung felt that night—the want, the love. Maybe it was then that he decided they needed to stop, and that’s why he spent weeks without calling.

The wheels in his head turn and turn, deep in thought, and before he realizes, he’s in Daegu. Taehyung leaves the train, and takes into the more than known station. At some point, during his first years of college, coming home was always a break. It made him feel calm. Leaving got him sad, even if oddly excited about the freedom that living away from one’s family allows.

Right now? Well, Taehyung has conflicted feelings. But this is what he needs, he has already accepted that.

From far away, walking towards him, he sees his family. All of them are here, both his parents and his siblings, with wide and happy smiles painted on their faces. That makes Taehyung grin a little, too—he’s missed them very, very much.

Home, he’s home. And with that, he knows he’s safe for now.

 

 

It’s incredible what a simple change of mindset can achieve, Taehyung thinks. Before leaving for Daegu, Jimin asked him to not torture himself with guilt during the trip and let himself enjoy it. Taehyung said he’d try his best, not having a lot of hope in that department, but now, after a week in Daegu, he can say that this is the best time he’s spent at home since he started escorting.

He’s gone out to buy groceries with his dad, and there hasn’t been an awkward moment where he has felt too overwhelmed with guilt to say anything. He’s gone for walks with his mother, and he hasn’t had to look away from her because he’s felt dirty and not worthy. And he’s been playing lots with his siblings, and not even once has he felt like a disappointment to them.

Time away has been helping him become honest with himself, too. Something he was so afraid to admit back when he was in Seoul was the fact that he’s in love with Jeongguk. For so long, he’s been skirting around the thought and shily probing it, aware of it but not acknowledging it properly. Perhaps now he’s feeling brave enough to face it because being here makes him feel protected and safe. Not invincible, not by far, but now that he’s back in Daegu he feels like being in love with Jeongguk and its consequences can’t hurt him.

Jeongguk said that they couldn’t be together if he escorted, because he wouldn’t be able to take it. And Taehyung understands, he really does—he doesn’t understand the way Jeongguk has handled it, and he still has some hard feelings about Jeongguk suddenly cutting him off, and finding him with another boy that one night he had gone to his. He knows he wasn’t being cheated on, because they really weren’t more than an escort and a client who hadn’t called for weeks. But at the same time, it felt like he had been betrayed. Maybe because his brain had tricked him into thinking that he and Jeongguk were more than their professional ties.

So, while he knows what the way to be with Jeongguk is, he doesn’t feel ready to take that route yet. His job has been the only thing he’s had for the last few years apart from Jimin. It has isolated him to the point where he’s lost all of his friends except for one, where he’s felt like he lost his family, where he’s felt like he lost his dream. His job has been his constant, and what has anchored him to reality. He remembers being warned when he first got into this business that letting go was way harder than getting into it, and Taehyung hadn’t listened. What he saw was easy money for sex, something he enjoyed. It’s only been three years, but he still feels like escorting has taken too much, and like he can’t just leave.

He wonders if that is why it was so easy to fall for Jeongguk and the lie that they were presenting to the world, that they were together. That way Taehyung not only had an ideal friend, but also a group of friends he liked that that he felt comfortable and happy with. People who liked him, even if the person they actually liked was Taeyong the stylist, and not Taehyung the escort.

Those thoughts make him a little sad, but he knows it’s part of the reason why Jimin’s advice was to come here. From home, it’s easier to detach yourself a little more from the situation and make a decision. And Taehyung’s decision is made— he’s not ready to quit. Despite wanting to, and despite knowing that many of the things he’s longing for would come after quitting, he feels like he can’t yet.

Every time he feels like his thoughts get a little cloudy, every time he starts to wonder what it’d be like to perpetually live in this stage where he doesn’t have to worry about these little things, he busies himself with something else. People say ignorance is bliss, and Taehyung didn’t understand to what extent it was true up until now. He’s more than aware that this is not at all a good or mature way to deal with situations. Admittedly, he’s just closing his eyes and running away from the problem and the consequences. But after three years, he deserves a break, doesn’t he? He deserves to get his family back, and he thinks it was about time his family got him back, too.

It’s a nice afternoon when his mom and he have biked to the lake nearby, and now are just sitting enjoying nature and each other’s company. Taehyung can’t help but be reminded of when he was younger and the ride there took way longer than it does now—his bike had little wheels so he didn’t lose balance, and his legs couldn’t keep up with the fast pace. Things have changed, though. Now Taehyung is faster than his mother, who yells at him from behind and tells him to slow down, that she’s finding it hard to follow.

Things have changed a lot ever since, but something that stays the same is the amount of love and admiration that he feels for his mother. Taehyung has always been a very family orientated person—his family have always been a priority, and he can’t feel anything but love and admiration for his parents for raising him and his siblings. Rather than looking up to them for their professional lives, like he knows most people he knows do with their parents, Taehyung has always prioritized family values.

Taehyung loves his mother. And thinking back about all the spring and summer afternoons spent together, about every time she’s cleaned his scraped knees and kissed them better after a fall… He can’t help but think of Jeongguk kissing his knee, too. Maybe that’s why it seemed like such a tender, caring act back then.

“Mom,” he says, before he can even think twice about what he’s doing. “I need to talk to you about something.”

His mom looks up from the water to him, eyes brown and deep, so deep. He thinks she knows. Not that he’s an escort, he doesn’t think she’s guessed that much. But he thinks she knows that there has been something troubling him for long, and that he’s been keeping things away from them. It’s just instinct that a parent has, he guesses.

“What is it, Taehyung-ah?” she asks. Her tone is gentle, and not at all pressuring. Even if she probably is dying to know.

Taehyung takes a deep breath. On one side, he wants the burden off his shoulders. But on the other… He doesn’t want to be a disappointment, and he doesn’t want to be an embarrassment. He doesn’t want his mom to look at him with anything other than love in her eyes. He remembers her pride when he got his college degree back in the day. That’s all he’s ever wanted, like many other kids—for his parents to be proud of him.

Before uttering the words, he looks down at the grass, eyes leaving his mother’s in shame. He’s almost scared of what her reaction might be, so he doesn’t want to see it. He knows his mom won’t stop loving him, of course, but he’s still scared.

“I’m an escort,” he says, voice low but still high enough for his mother to hear. Just saying it makes him want to cry, but he’s determined not to. “I lied. I am not working as an interior designer, or a decorator, or anything. I’m an escort. I’m a sex worker.”

There is a short moment of silence while his mom processes the words, and although it can’t be longer than a second, to Taehyung it feels endless. He doesn’t want the rejection, but he doesn’t want his mother to be upset, either. Even if that might be too much to ask for.

“Oh, baby,” is what she says. “For how long?”

Coming clean with his mother turns out to be way easier than Taehyung was anticipating. He tells her about how it started and about how he’s had his ups and downs with it, but Jimin and he have been keeping each other on track all along. He tells her about how he’s gotten in trouble with a jealous, cheated on lover, and how he’s going to have to go to trial because of that. He also tells her about Jimin and Hoseok, about how happy Jimin is looking lately and the way his eyes light up when Hoseok is brought up. And lastly, Taehyung tells her he’s fallen in love with a man he’s met because of his job—a man who is most likely in love with him, too, but that is too scared of what Taehyung’s profession is and entails, even if he used to be on the other side of it when they first met.

His mom holds him and lets him rest his head against her chest, and Taehyung feels like a twelve-year-old kid all over again instead of a twenty-five-year-old man. When his mom tells him she loves him and that she will always be there for him no matter what he does and no matter what he is, Taehyung is reminded of when he came out to his family in his teenage years. Maybe it was silly of him to think that they’d react any differently this time around, or maybe he just needed the reassurance. No matter what the reason is, he’s glad he’s told her.

His mother cries, and that makes Taehyung’s heart feel a little heavier in his chest. “I’m sorry,” he says, honestly. “I’m so sorry I ended up—”

“No, Taehyung,” she interrupts. “I don’t want you to apologize for this, not ever. If anything—if anything, I’m the one who’s sorry. I wish we could have given you everything you needed so you didn’t have to turn to this. I’m sorry, baby.”

“Hey, mom—none of that,” he says, noticing the tears that are now lingering on her eyelashes. There is nothing more heartbreaking and that hurts him more than seeing his mother cry. “You’ve always given me everything I needed and everything I wanted. I could have taken any other job. If I ended up here it’s because of my own decisions and my own fault, not yours or dad’s.”

“Still,” she says, rubbing at one of her eyes with the back of her hand. “It makes you sad, Taehyung. I’ve seen it in your eyes every time you’ve come home for the last few years, and I’ve seen it in the way you’ve stopped calling and started smiling less. I just wish this could have been avoided.”

Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, shaking his head. “It’s not your fault at all,” Taehyung says. “And I won’t let you think that. Come on, give me a hug.”

She does, her arms wrapping around his middle as Taehyung tucks his chin in the crown of her head. He knows his shirt is probably going to get wet because she’s crying, but he doesn’t care.

“My little boy,” she says, voice muffled against his chest. “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, and you could see how proud I am of you. I haven’t stopped being proud of you one single day, since the moment I just held you in my arms, and I’m not going to start now. You’ll always be my Taehyungie.”

“Mom,” Taehyung whines, almost in protest.

“I know what you’re going to say,” she interjects. “That you’re a man, that you’re an adult, all those things you always tell me. But no matter how much you grow, or how much taller than me you get—you’re always going to be my little boy, Taehyung. And I’m always, always going to love you more than anything.”

Taehyung’s eyes water at that, a wave of emotion washing over him. His mother’s words don’t make him feel pathetic for having insecurities about telling them, or stupid for keeping it from her for so long. Despite being proven wrong, there’s no humiliation. He feels understood, and mostly relieved.

“I love you, mom,” he tells her, sincerely. Even if he makes sure to tell her often, every time he calls, he feels like this time it’s more honest than ever, because of everything that has just happened. “I love you so much.”

His mom sighs, and Taehyung closes his eyes and lets himself rejoice in the feeling of love and acceptance. Jimin was right—coming to Daegu was exactly what he needed. But not because he was away, or because he would have time to think. Things have only started to get hard now, but they have been wrong for a while. And by doing this, by talking to his family and being honest, Taehyung is taking the first step to fix them and make them right.

And it’s in that moment, at a lake in the middle of nowhere, that Taehyung knows. It’s time for him to go back to Seoul.

Chapter Text

After a few days of enjoying the company of his family and getting himself mentally ready for what awaits for him once he goes back, Taehyung returns to Seoul. For the first time in years he has actually enjoyed his stay, so instead of getting the first train that leaves in the morning he gets a night one, and gets to the station when it’s close to midnight.

He feels sort of numb right now. He doesn’t feel the same knot that has permanently been in his chest for the last month or so, but Taehyung knows it’s not gone, just dormant. These days back at home have been a dream, really. But Taehyung also knows there are things he needs to sort, so he can’t come back. As of now, he’s going to think of the present. He has the trial ahead of himself, and he can’t stop escorting before their contract for their current place ends—the rent would be too much to pay for if they stopped escorting suddenly, and neither of them wants to see their money vanish instead of growing.

He can’t help but feel a little defeated as he gets off the train, but he shakes the feeling away. He’s an adult now, and he’s long ago moved out from home for good. It’s not time for him to start missing his parents like he did every time he came back from spending the holidays at home.

Tired. He feels tired as he catches a cab at the exit of the station, to the point where he has to fight the urge to just rest his head against the window and let himself fall asleep. He feels almost too lazy to keep going with life—thinking of going back to routine, to going through messages and booking appointments, welcoming clients, going out on dates… It feels like too much of an effort.

The light in their living room is still on when Taehyung gets home, he observes as he gets out of the cab. He doesn’t think too much of it as he opens the door to his building and makes his way to the elevator. If he had, he would have realized that neither Jimin nor him usually spent time in the living room, especially not when they were alone. And it’s way too late for him to bring a client over, he knows that. He didn’t really think of those factors, but if he had, he would have figured out that Jimin was with Hoseok.

When he opens the door to the apartment and hears Jimin’s giggle joined by someone else’s, he immediately knows that the person who is with Jimin is not a client. That’s not the kind of laughter Jimin reserves for his clients—it’s not coy, not fake. Taehyung knows what Jimin sounds like when he’s happy, when he’s embarrassed, when he’s amused by something… But mostly, Taehyung knows what Jimin sounds like when he’s genuine, and this is it.

“Hello?” he calls when he gets home, closing the door behind himself. “Jimin?”

“Tae!” says Jimin’s voice from the living room, calling him. “Come here! The living room.”

“I’m coming,” Taehyung says, stepping into the bedroom and dropping his bag before he starts walking in the direction of the living room. Even if he already has a good idea of who it is, Taehyung asks, “Who are you with?”

Taehyung hasn’t seen Hoseok, even if he has been, up until now, someone Taehyung has heard a lot about, but has never really met. That is why once he gets to the living room and sees Jimin and the man he’s with, he knows right away who it is. They’re both on the couch, cuddled up together under a thin blanket, even if it’s not too cold anymore. Jimin is smiley and his eyes bright, just like Hoseok, who in addition has reddish cheeks, probably from the glasses of wine that they are both holding.

“I’m with Hoseok,” Jimin replies once Taehyung is in his eyesight. “You both have heard enough about the other so introductions aren’t really necessary, are they?”

Taehyung can’t help but smile at both of them, and at the scene unfolding before him. They seem, to put it simply, happy. Jimin is placed in the space between Hoseok’s legs, their limbs tangled, and judging by the look of their lips, they had been kissing before Taehyung arrived.

After the introductions, he’s about to turn around and leave to go back to his bedroom, giving them some privacy, but Jimin then asks him to stay with them for a little, surprising Taehyung.

“We’ve had tons of alone time while you were gone,” Jimin says when Taehyung says he thought they’d like some intimacy. “Stay. I want you guys to get to know each other, finally.”

At the end of the night, Taehyung has a fairly good idea of why Jimin is so head over heels for Hoseok. He curses a lot, especially after two or more glasses of wine, and is very fun to be around. He laughs loudly, showing all of his teeth, and that’s something Taehyung likes.

Still, what catches his attention the most is the way that both of them act around each other. Taehyung doesn’t feel left out in the conversation, not at all, but despite that he also gets that feeling that he usually gets around couples, especially the ones that have been together after a while. They have a totally different conversation with each other, a different one that happens parallel to the one that Taehyung is part of. It doesn’t happen with words—it’s composed by all of their touches, their looks, the way Hoseok squeezes his legs around Jimin’s body every once in a while, or how he hooks his chin over Jimin’s shoulder

They haven’t been together for a long time, so Taehyung is surprised by the way things seem to have evolved between the two of them. He’s happy for Jimin, of course he is—he deserves this more than anyone, to have that kind of connection with someone else. And he’s clearly happy, which is what matters most.

Taehyung doesn’t like to think about it as him being envious, because that implies some sort of negative feeling that Taehyung could never feel about something that makes Jimin happy. But he wants it, he knows that. He wants something like this one day.

 

 

Taehyung doesn’t think of himself as a weak person. He knows he’s been through some tough things and that he’s held on alright, so he thinks it’s fair to say he’s quite courageous.

Still, it takes him a few days to muster up the courage to take the phone and call Jeongguk. He has been thinking about what to tell him for the past few days. Both Jeongguk and he want to be together, that much is obvious to Taehyung after their conversation in the car before Taehyung left to Daegu. He understands why Jeongguk doesn’t dare venture into a relationship, but he wishes Jeongguk would understand him too.

All in all, the only thing he can do is repeat what he told him that one night and just try to explain a little better. What he knows for sure is that he can’t stop escorting yet—he needs to pay for rent, he needs to save up more. He’s not ready yet, not ready. And he doesn’t care if Jeongguk offers to pay for his things. Something Taehyung has always known for sure is that he’s never going to let himself depend like that on anyone but himself.

He feels a ball of anxiety form in his chest when he finally has the guts to dial Jeongguk’s number, waiting for him to pick up. After the first tone he knows he can’t hang up without Jeongguk getting the notification, so he forces himself to stay on the phone, his lower lip trapped between his teeth. The seconds until Jeongguk finally picks up seem endless, and Taehyung feels himself getting more and more pessimistic. Right when he’s starting to think Jeongguk won’t answer, he picks up the phone.

“Taehyung,” Jeongguk calls. Taehyung hates to admit that he misses his voice after not hearing it for a while, like right now. He swallows down.

“Hey there, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says. Talking to Jeongguk during their dates and appointments was always easy—almost too easy for two strangers. Yet now, Taehyung finds it hard to utter each and every word, even a greeting. “I was wondering if we could talk.”

Jeongguk sighs, and Taehyung doesn’t like the way it sounds. “Sure,” Jeongguk says, despite that. “About what, though?”

“About us and stuff,” Taehyung says, scratching the back of his neck. “I think… I just think there are still some things we haven’t discussed.”

They had agreed they were over for good that one night in the car, Taehyung is aware of that. But now, after thinking about things coolly, he doesn’t feel like there’s been… closure for things between them. There are still some things that Taehyung wants to tell Jeongguk, just like there are some things he wants to ask.

“Okay, yeah,” Jeongguk replies. Then, he asks, “What things?”

“I’d rather discuss this in person,” Taehyung answers. He’s not very big on phone calls, especially not for delicate matters—he wants to see Jeongguk’s reactions, wants to be able to judge how things are going just by his body language. Those things are important for him. “Can we meet up at some point?”

Jeongguk huffs, and Taehyung feels his nervousness increase a little. He tries to tell himself that maybe Jeongguk is just busy, that he doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but the idea that Jeongguk just simply doesn’t want to meet up with him crosses his mind. He just hopes that’s not the case.

“I can meet tomorrow at noon if you’re free,” Jeongguk says.

In the background, Taehyung hears the sound of pages, which calms him a little. He must be going through his agenda, right? So he’s busy. It’s not like he’s already over Taehyung. If he were, he probably wouldn’t be agreeing to meet with him—Taehyung knows Jeongguk well enough to know he doesn’t like wasting time.

“That’s good with me,” Taehyung says, nodding even though Jeongguk can’t see him. “Where?”

“I’ll text you an address and an hour, and you can tell me if it works with you,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung is about to reply, bringing up the fact that he might be busy with clients, so Jeongguk says, “I will in a minute, I just need to check where my meeting tomorrow will be. I know you have to book appointments, and all that. If it doesn’t work with you, we can just arrange something else.”

“Thank you,” Taehyung says. “So… Tomorrow, then.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk replies to him. “Also, Taehyung?”

“Yes?”

“I’m glad you called,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung’s lips part, surprised. “I wanted to but we said that we were over for good, and I didn’t want to seem pushy or anything. I know it’s probably not nice when clients get pushy after you try to break ties.”

“You know I don’t think of you as a client, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, almost in a mumble.

“I still am one, aren’t I?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung doesn’t reply. “So… yeah. I’m glad you called. I want to talk to you tomorrow. I hope we can… work something out.”

“I do, too,” replies Taehyung.

In his mind, Jeongguk’s words sound more like a I hope we can work things out. He tries not to build himself up, though. Jeongguk seemed adamant in his position, just like Taehyung is in his. They’re both stubborn, so he knows it’s not very likely anything will be fixed.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Jeongguk says.

“Tomorrow,” Taehyung confirms. There is a moment of silence, before Taehyung adds, “I’m gonna hang up now.”

“Tae…” Jeongguk says. Taehyung’s mouth goes dry. “I just—I miss you.”

Taehyung sighs, feeling his eyes water. He misses Jeongguk, too—terribly so. He misses the way he makes him laugh, misses the way his hands feel on his skin, misses his company. He misses the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles and how his hair points in a million different direction in the morning. He misses how much younger he looks when he’s asleep, and he misses his frown as he reads emails on his phone. Taehyung misses Jeongguk so, so much. Just as much as he loves him.

“Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, noticing how he sounds a little shaky. “Why must you make this so hard?”

He’s not talking about Jeongguk refusing to be with him because of the escorting, he gets that. No, he’s talking about Jeongguk telling him he misses him at a time like this. Taehyung knows what’s going to happen, because it’s happened before—he’s going to get his hopes up, and then he’s going to see them shatter before his eyes. And yet, he can’t stop himself from hoping.

“I’m sorry, baby,” Jeongguk says, and when he does his voice sounds even more trembling than Taehyung’s. Taehyung closes his eyes, feeling a single tear fall from his eyelashes and stream down his cheek. “I really am sorry.”

Taehyung rubs his cheek, wiping the tear away. “I’m gonna hang up now,” he says. He knows that the longer he stays on the phone for, the more complicated things will get. And the last thing they need right now is for their situation to turn even more complex. “Text me as soon as you can, yeah?”

“I will,” Jeongguk says. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Taehyung hangs up then, and after dropping his phone on his lap, he zones out for a moment, looking at the wall before him. He doesn’t know how to feel about the conversation—doesn’t know if it went better than he expected, if it went well, or whether it went good or bad at all.

What he does know, though, is that he needs to put his thoughts in order so Jeongguk and he can talk things through like adults once and for all. It’s about time, he knows. And maybe after that they will find a solution.

 

 

“I’m gonna meet up with Jeongguk today,” Taehyung announces.

Jimin looks up from the food he’s cooking, head snapping fast in Taehyung’s direction when he hears his words. Taehyung is now trying to be a better friend, and he’s no longer doing his best to keep important things from Jimin. It’s not like he tells him every time he goes to the bathroom, of course not. But this to him seems pretty big. So he wants to tell him.

“You’ve talked to him after getting back to Seoul?” Jimin asks. Taehyung nods. “Is that why you’re all dolled up?”

Taehyung frowns. “I’m not,” he says.

He truly hasn’t put a lot of effort in, but Jeongguk and he are having lunch somewhere, and as it was to be expected from Jeongguk, the place is… on the fancier side. So yes, Taehyung has made sure he looks nice enough to not stand out like a sore thumb, even if it’s a bit more put together than he looks when he goes out on his own. It’s nothing too bad, though—just a soft, black shirt and some slacks. He’s also wearing a Gucci belt but only because that’s the only whim he’s allowed himself in a while.

“You know you are,” Jimin says. “Are you two going to finally talk about things?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says with a sigh. He sits down on one of the chairs as Jimin resumes his cooking. “But I don’t think it’s going to take us anywhere. He won’t be with me if I escort, and I won’t stop escorting yet. So…”

“You’re still going so there might be a chance,” Jimin points out. “If both of you are agreeing to meet despite knowing what the other feels about the situation, it means you both either see a possibility or want it to work out hard enough. So don’t lose hope, Taehyungie.”

Jimin makes sense, he does. Taehyung wishes he wasn’t as skeptical as he is, though—if this has taught him anything, it’s that wanting something to happen won’t make it possible.

“Any advice?” he asks. His judgement has been proven not be the best, and he’s a bit clueless right now. He could use some guidance.

“My advice is to not get into a situation you don’t want to be in, Tae,” Jimin says, looking at him again. “As hard as you want it to work out… Remember what you want to do and what you need to do. And this goes both ways—I don’t want you to, five years from now, realize that you shouldn’t have made that choice you made. Be it stop escorting when you weren’t ready or let Jeongguk go.”

“I won’t,” Taehyung says, nodding. He knows what he wants now, but he also knows what he needs. “I’ll look out for myself, Minnie.”

“It’s about time you do,” Jimin says, giving Taehyung a gentle smile. “Go see your boy.”

Taehyung leaves soon after that, but on the way there Jimin’s words keep resonating in his mind. It’s about time you do. Maybe he’s been prioritizing the wrong things for too long.

 

 

Taehyung was confused about how they’d really get to talk about anything in a restaurant, since it’s not the kind of discussion he’d like to have in a public place. He assumed perhaps Jeongguk would book a private room, something he’s done before, but once they get there Taehyung sees it’s a regular table in the main dining room.

Almost as if he sensed Taehyung’s shock and reluctance, Jeongguk says, “Don’t worry, we can go to mine to talk later.” Taehyung nods, feeling a little relieved. “I guess I just wanted to spend some more time with you before the big talk. Chat normally, too.”

And so, lunch is pretty much filled with small talk and trivial conversation. He finds out that, like he suspected, Jeongguk has been having some stressful weeks lately, mostly because he’s been purposefully burying himself in work to keep his mind busy. In exchange, Taehyung tells him how he went to Daegu and how he has finally met Hoseok after so long.

It reminds him of the old days with Jeongguk. If anything, it’s even better. At least, now when their gazes meet he knows that the spark he feels is real. He knows that Jeongguk looking at him with tenderness in his eyes is not an illusion or a trick his mind is playing on him. He doesn’t feel ridiculous for having feelings, because he’s been able to accept them after so long.

They eat and laugh together, and it’s in moments like this when it becomes so tremendously evident to Taehyung how much he has missed Jeongguk and the way he makes him feel. How could he not know that he was in love before? To him, it’s so blatantly obvious right now what his feelings for Jeongguk are.

After that, they both catch a taxi and finally go to Jeongguk’s apartment. Things in there are now back to what Taehyung remembers—everything is clean and tidy, neat. Jeongguk, ever the perfect host, offers him a drink as they step into the living room, Taehyung politely declining it and taking a seat.

The next couple of minutes turn a bit awkward. Jeongguk disappears into the kitchen before coming back and sitting opposite Taehyung. They’re both silent for a moment there, Taehyung not knowing what the right way to start this conversation is. Should he skirt around the matter? Or should he just get straight to the point? He considers what to do, sitting with his knees pressed together tightly and his back straight.

Jeongguk’s coffee table turns fascinating to Taehyung, so much so that he stares at it fixedly. From the corner of his eyes he can see Jeongguk’s hands fidgeting in his lap, and then Jeongguk cracks his knuckles. Taehyung grimaces a little—it’s not a sound or habit he likes, the sound of it has always made him a little uneasy. Yet, it’s a habit of Jeongguk’s he’s picked up on, so despite disliking it the familiarity of it eases Taehyung.

Perhaps that’s what gives him the courage to start talking.

“So…” he starts. “I don’t really know where to begin.”

“From the beginning, probably,” Jeongguk suggests. Taehyung thinks he’s taking the piss until he looks up and meet his eyes, seeing the seriousness in them. “How did you start working as an escort?”

Ah, that question. He’s been asked that a lot through his professional career, by many of clients. Not that they cared, Taehyung doesn’t think so. He just feels like they were curious in an almost morbid way. He never replied with the truth, because none of them needed to know. Apart from some people he worked with during his club days, Jimin, and now his mom, Jeongguk would be the first person to know the truth.

“My dad had just lost his job and with what my mom made alone it wouldn’t have been enough to pay for my college, pay for rent here in Seoul, my sibling’s school… It was too much to pay for,” Taehyung starts telling. “I looked for a job in coffee shops and supermarkets, but they wouldn’t hire me. And then it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to work in a strip club. Easy money.”

He takes a deep breath, staying quiet for a moment. Retelling the story makes the memories rush back to his mind. His club days, well… they weren’t the best.

“And was it?” Jeongguk asks, almost urging him to continue.

“No,” Taehyung says, shaking his head. “The club was shit and the customers sleazy. That’s where I met Jimin. We were meant to be just dancers, but after some time they started pressuring us into private shows, and we just—we couldn’t say no, you know? We needed to get paid. The people from the private shows usually got handsy, but the owner of the club didn’t really give a fuck about it.”

“Piece of shit,” Jeongguk grits between his teeth.

Taehyung sighs. “After the private shows, came the sleeping with clients. He just… He just wanted anything that would benefit him, and he knew he could make even more money if we did, so he started pressuring us to do so then,” Taehyung continues. “And—and we did. We talked about it and decided we might as well do it, for the exact same reason we started stripping. Easy money.”

“Oh, Tae…”

“We didn’t last long in the club after that,” Taehyung says. “Since we were already working basically as prostitutes, we decided to apply for an escorting agency since it’s safer. You get with other kinds of customers, you know? And there are more guarantees. But they took away a lot of our money, so in the end we quit and started working independently with the app. And the rest… Well, the rest is history.”

Jeongguk nods, taking in what he’s just heard. Taehyung can’t help but feel a little anxious, lower lip caught between his teeth. If there is something he knows for sure, it’s that Jeongguk is not going to judge him. More often than not, he’s encountered loaded men who despite requiring his services, have looked down on him for his profession, but he knows Jeongguk isn’t like that.

“So you started in this line of work because you thought it’d be easy money?” Jeongguk asks, curious.

Taehyung sucks in a breath. He now realizes how naïve he was. Sex work is not easy money. Perhaps it was at first, when he didn’t really mind too much about undressing before strangers. Or perhaps he didn’t mind too much when he started working for the agency, or when he started working as an independent escort. But right now? Right now he feels like this line of work is burning him, and like it’s taken away so much from him. It’s not easy money—it’s anything but easy.

“Basically, yes,” he admits. “I couldn’t have been more wrong. I thought it was… I thought it’d be something just physical, you know? Especially after I started working independently. I thought I was invincible, and that it couldn’t affect me. But I was so, so wrong.”

It’s something that he’s been feeling for a long while, even if he didn’t know it. He remembers thinking he was happy with his job just a few months ago, before his feelings for Jeongguk made it obvious how much this job was taking from him. Truth is that, even if he didn’t know, Taehyung had been losing things for as long as he had been working in this world. His family, his friends, his sense of pride, even part of his self-worth. He wishes he had realized sooner since everything is crashing down on him now.

“I’m so sorry to hear all of this, Tae,” Jeongguk says, voice soft. He utters the words so gently it almost makes Taehyung want to close his eyes and rest his head on Jeongguk’s shoulder, ask him to keep talking and lull him to sleep. “I wish life had been fairer to you.”

Taehyung used to think so bitterly about that, before, but now… well, that’s what life is, isn’t it? His father lost his job like lots of people do every day, but the decision to turn to stripping was his, because of bad judgement. Taehyung is not bitter anymore. He just smiles at Jeongguk a little sadly.

“It is what it is,” he says.

He still feels a little shaken up after thinking about his experiences in the club. He’s good at blocking those memories out, not letting them affect him in his daily life. But after thinking about them… He swears that if he closes his eyes he can still feel the ghost touch of unwanted hands on his hips, accompanied by the strong smell of alcohol and cigarettes. It gives him chills.

“Are you thinking of escorting forever, or…?”

“No, no,” Taehyung says, shaking his head. “I’m twenty-five now. How much time of escorting at the same level I do right now would I have left—three years? Five, if I’m lucky? I know that reached this point I’ll start getting less and less clients as time goes by, which is why I work as much as I do right now. I want to have savings for when I stop.”

“What do you want to do after?” Jeongguk asks, curious.

“Well, I graduated in Interior Architecture and Design,” Taehyung starts. For some reason, Taehyung is more nervous about confessing this than he is about talking of his work as an escort. “I was hoping I could find something in that field. I am… I’m saving up to start my own business.”

“Oh, really?” Jeongguk says, looking surprised. His eyes have gone wider and his lips are parted in surprise. Taehyung nods, shyly. “That’s very good, Tae. Do you think you have enough?”

“Yeah, but I want more to be able to live a for some years in case it doesn’t work out,” Taehyung confesses. “I know it’s going to be hard to take off right now, with no one knowing me, no recommendations or anything…”

Jeongguk nods again, and Taehyung sighs. He hopes that now Jeongguk understands why he can’t leave escorting, not yet. It wasn’t an easy decision for Taehyung to make, but he just hopes the sacrifice he’s making right now pays off in the future.

“Is there anything else you’d like to know?” he asks.

“I can’t think of anything,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung bites on his lip. “Do you want to ask anything?”

“I do, actually,” says Taehyung, the anxious feeling coming back to his chest. “Who was the guy?”

Taehyung doesn’t need to ask any more questions or give more details, because it’s clear in the way Jeongguk’s expression changes that he knows who Taehyung is referring to. He looks down in what appears to be shame.

“It really was no one,” Jeongguk says, almost in a mumble. “His name is Haneul. I met him in a club, and he reminded me of you, and I… I was just trying to forget you.”

Taehyung looks away. He doesn’t know what he was expecting, just like he knows whether the truth was better or worse than that. He swallows down.

“I thought you were trying to replace me,” he confesses. “When I got there, and saw him appear… It just felt like you tossed me to the side and got yourself a new me.”

“I would never, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says. “And I couldn’t, even if I wanted. He meant nothing. It’s been you since the beginning, it still is to this day.”

“Jeongguk…” Taehyung starts, but Jeongguk interrupts him.

“It’s true,” Jeongguk says. “You probably don’t believe me, because how could you after what happened? I wouldn’t believe me either.”

His words are accompanied by a sarcastic, bitter laugh. Taehyung doesn’t like the sound of it, because he sees the implications that come with it. He’s afraid to ask, but he’s also terribly tired of being afraid.

“I need you to be honest with me, Jeongguk,” Taehyung mutters. “Because I’ve already gotten my heart broken for you, and it hurts like fuck.”

Jeongguk clenches his jaw, swallowing down thickly. Taehyung doesn’t look away from him this time around.

“I love you,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung’s heart skips a beat at the words. He had guessed Jeongguk had feelings for him, but it’s one thing to guess as much and something else completely to have Jeongguk confess his feelings to him. But that is not the only reason why Taehyung feels his heart stop in that moment. Truth is, Taehyung knows there is a but even before Jeongguk keeps talking. “I love you, Taehyung, but I know myself. And I know that I’m going to get jealous and possessive if we’re in a relationship and you keep escorting, and I don’t want it to get toxic. That thought terrifies me.”

A knot tightens in Taehyung’s throat, who just nods wordlessly. He knows he can’t ask more from Jeongguk—it’s a good enough reason. Not everyone is Hoseok, he reminds himself. Not everyone is able to emotionally deal with a partner who works as an escort—selling their body, their company, their affection. And Taehyung needs to respect that.

“Okay,” he croaks out. “That’s—that’s fair enough.”

“I know that if I offer you financial help you’re going to turn it down,” Jeongguk says, sounding defeated. “But I would help you out with anything you need, Taehyung. I really would.”

He’s thought about it, of course he has. During his worst nights, he’s even thought about taking up Jeongguk’s offer of being his sugar daddy. But Taehyung knows that those things don’t last forever, and there is a probability of them breaking up a few years from now, and then he’d be back to square one—no money, no job, no nothing. And he can’t afford to do that to himself. He’s determined to start building the life he wants for himself now.

He just wishes it didn’t have to come with losing Jeongguk.

“I know you would,” Taehyung says. “But like you said, I won’t accept. I need to do this by myself and for myself.”

“And I respect that,” Jeongguk replies. He still sounds frustrated, and Taehyung can relate to the feeling. He’s sad, he’s angry, he’s frustrated.

“I wish I could ask you to wait for me without feeling stupidly selfish,” Taehyung says, feeling his resolve to not cry start to crumble. “You deserve to be happy, Jeongguk. You deserve to have someone make you happy. I wish I could have been that.”

Jeongguk sees Taehyung rub his eye with the inner part of his wrist, and he knows he’s wiping away a tear. That gesture just makes him even sadder.

“I just wish—I don’t know. Can I hug you?”

Jeongguk catches Taehyung off guard, who was just expecting for the rest of his time in Jeongguk’s apartment to be cold and impersonal. He nods, standing up, and Jeongguk mimics him before crossing the space that separates them and pulling him in for a hug.

Taehyung has always loved to curl his arms around Jeongguk’s shoulders when they hug, leaving Jeongguk’s own to snake around his middle. He presses his cheek against the soft, warm skin of Jeongguk’s neck and inhales, taking his smell in. It’s so familiar it hurts Taehyung to think that he might not be able to ever do this again.

When he leaves Jeongguk’s apartment that afternoon, Taehyung feels like a little piece of himself is not with him anymore. He feels like there’s a part of his soul that has stayed there, in the living room, holding on to Jeongguk and his love confession forever.

When he leaves Jeongguk’s apartment that afternoon, he doesn’t feel the closure he was expecting to finally experience. Rather than that, all he can feel is the feeling of having lost the first person he’s ever been truly in love with.

 

 

A few weeks after the whole fiasco at Jeongguk’s place, Taehyung meets up with Namjoon to talk about his defense for the trial. It’s such a relief to see how calm and confident he seems about their case, especially after getting the records from the security cameras and a testimony from the waiter at the restaurant. Alexander has also agreed to fly back to Seoul and testify in his favor but without revealing anything about his profession, as an apology for the trouble caused.

The trial will take place in less than a month, and Taehyung is feeling more relaxed than he thought he’d be. This really had the potential to ruin his life for good, if not handled carefully enough. Taehyung can’t do anything but be grateful both to Jeongguk and Namjoon for believing in him and helping him out.

“It really means so much to me that you’re doing this for me,” Taehyung says once they’re both done. He’s thanked Namjoon before, but he doesn’t think he understands how extremely grateful he is for what he’s doing for him. “I can’t thank you enough, really.”

“I’ve told you it’s really no problem at all,” Namjoon says, giving Taehyung a calm, warm smile. “Plus, I’m doing this both for you and Jeongguk. You’re both my friends, so…”

“Still, let me be grateful,” Taehyung says, forcing out a smile.

Maybe something in his expression when Jeongguk was mentioned gave him away, or maybe it simply was something that Namjoon had been wanting to ask. Whatever the reason is, Namjoon tilts his head to the side, asking, “How are things between you and Jeongguk now?”

Taehyung swallows down, his gaze momentarily flickering down to his hands. It’s still hard to talk about this, because it makes his chest tighten in a way that makes him feel like he’ll start to cry at any moment. He’s only allowed himself to tell Jimin, and no one else.

“They’re… not going,” Taehyung confesses, trying to word is as casually as he possibly can. “There is no thing.”

Namjoon clicks his tongue, sounding almost baffled. Taehyung doesn’t know what to make out of his reaction or the fact that he’s asked this. Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to ask Jeongguk instead of him?

“When I first found out you escorted and that Taeyong wasn’t your real name, I put two and two together and realized that you and Jeongguk weren’t together, but that he was a client,” Namjoon starts. Taehyung feels like there is a second part to what he’s said, so he nods, encouraging Namjoon to carry on. “But then I got thinking, and I thought about what I’ve seen between you and Jeongguk, and thought about how Jeongguk talks about you. Do you want my opinion, Taehyung?”

I don’t know, Taehyung thinks. He is pretty certain he knows where this is going, and he doesn’t know if he feels strong enough to carry on with this conversation.

“Yeah,” Taehyung replies, in the end. “Yeah, tell me.”

“I think you and Jeongguk are in love with each other,” Namjoon says. Taehyung winces a little. “I’m right, aren’t I?”

Taehyung nods, biting on the insides of his cheeks. “You’re right, yeah. We’re in love.”

Namjoon is quiet for a moment, thinking as he rubs his chin with his hand. Were they that obvious, Taehyung wonders? The truth is that they were acting as a couple, as two people who were in love. Maybe that’s why it was always to get in character when he had to go out with Jeongguk, as opposed to some other clients. Almost too easy. Almost natural.

“I’m sure you both have your reasons for things to… not be working out,” Namjoon says. Just from his tone, Taehyung knows that Namjoon is not going to pry, something Taehyung is incredibly grateful for. “But maybe someday, Taehyung. It doesn’t have to be the end for good.”

“I’m not sure, Namjoon,” Taehyung replies. “I’ve lost all hope. A lot would have to happen for me and Jeongguk to have a chance, you know? We both have our reasons as to why things can’t work the way our lives are right now. And, well… after the trial, we don’t have any reason to see each other again. That will be the end.”

Taehyung hopes Namjoon doesn’t ask whether Jeongguk and he can stay as just friends or not. It might be immature of him, but he doesn’t see himself being able to be just Jeongguk’s friend. He wants more, especially after having had a taste of it, and such an intense one. He wouldn’t be able to stand it, and he knows that neither would Jeongguk.

“Don’t be so sure,” Namjoon says, smiling a little. “The world always surprises us in the most unexpected way. I’m hoping for your miracle, Taehyung. You deserve it. You both do.”

 

 

Taehyung keeps doing his work and meeting clients, but his head is… not in the game. Even when he’s not actively thinking about Jeongguk, there is always this knot that he feels in his throat permanently. When he lies in bed at night, when he showers, when he goes out to buy groceries, when he’s on a date with a client or when he’s getting fucked.

It’s crazy to see how his body is here, in the business, but his mind is so far away. He’s on his hands and knees, getting pounded from behind, and even if he’s thinking of anything except the man behind him, his body still gets all the reactions it’s meant to—the moans, the clenching, coming when his client does. Perhaps he’s had many years of practice.

Taehyung absolutely hates it when clients get chatty. He wishes they would just nut, get dressed and leave, but sometimes they have other plans. Taehyung knows Jonghwan wants to stay when, after pulling out and getting rid of the condom, he lies on his side, resting his head on his palm and looking at him. Taehyung steals a glance at the clock hanging from the wall opposite him: 7:48 PM already. That means Jonghwan only has 12 minutes left of his time, so this shouldn’t get long.

To help himself bear with it, Taehyung gets a cigarette and a lighter from the bedside table, alongside a bowl that works as an improvised ashtray. They’re there for emergencies, for times like today when he feels particularly rested after receiving a client.

“Can I get one, pretty?” Jonghwan asks.

Taehyung is baffled. “Sure,” he still says, getting another cigarette and offering it to Jonghwan. After all, with how much he’s paying him, Taehyung can afford plenty of cigarettes.

They’re silent for a moment, as Taehyung lights up their cigarettes. Jonghwan gives him silence during the first puff, allows him that one moment of calm as he sucks the smoke in and swallows it down. But once he lets it go, twirling into air until it disappears, the silence is broken.

“You seem odd lately, Tae,” Jonghwan observes. “You seem off.”

“Off?” Taehyung asks, flicking his cigarette with his index finger. “What do you mean by that?”

Jonghwan takes another drag of his own cigarette, giving himself time to think before he replies. Taehyung knows what he means, because he himself feels off, too. And he knows the reason, too—his hatred for what he does, Jeongguk. Everything he wishes he could have, all the dreams he’s had to stop chasing. Still, he wants to know what’s giving him away to Jonghwan.

“You seem a little sadder,” Jonghwan says. “You don’t look as happy about this as you used to.”

Taehyung holds back a bitter laugh. He was never happy to do this. Excited? Yes, he made a lot of money and to him that was the most exciting thing in the world at the time. But this isn’t something that has ever made him happy. What has changed now is a mixture of different factors—his mask of happiness has shattered, he’s come to dread this job and everything about it, he’s going through bad times now.

“I guess I am sadder,” Taehyung admits in a rampage of honesty he didn’t see coming. “I think this is consuming me. I don’t know if I can keep doing it.”

It’s a doubt he has thought about before, something he has considered. He hasn’t allowed himself to do more than skirt around it, because he still would like to have more saved up before quitting for good and venturing into something new. This is the first time he’s said it out loud.

Jonghwan nods, and it’s clear to Taehyung that he doesn’t know what to say. No one wants the escort they hire to get all sad on them, Taehyung knows. But he has known Jonghwan for a very long time, so he thinks he can allow himself a little more honesty.

“I guess it gets tiring,” Jonghwan says, after a moment. You have no idea, Taehyung thinks. “You deserve some rest, pretty.”

Taehyung doesn’t reply because he doesn’t know what to say. He knows Jonghwan doesn’t mean physical rest, that much is obvious to him. The words linger in his head for the rest of the day.

That day, over that cigarette and a sad confession, is the last time Taehyung ever sees Jonghwan.

 

 

There are certain words that never advise anything good when they come together. There’s something I need to tell you would be a good example.

Taehyung comes home from a date with a client at ten in the evening. Instead of finding Jimin busy watching something, reading, or just wasting time on SNS, Taehyung finds him sitting on the bed, looking at the door and subsequently at Taehyung, who has just walked in.

“Jimin?” Taehyung asks, blinking at him. “Are you okay?”

And then, it comes. “Can we talk, Tae?” Jimin asks. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

Taehyung can’t help but feel anxious at the words, no matter how hard he tries to keep his nerves at bay. He feels the now more than familiar ball of anxiety in his ribcage grow again.

“Yes, of course,” Taehyung says, taking his jacket off and hanging it on the door handle. He’ll pick it up and put it in his wardrobe later. “What is it?”

“Come here, come here,” says Jimin, sitting cross-legged on the bed and making room for Taehyung to sit on the edge of the bed. Taehyung takes the spot on the corner, mimicking Jimin’s position as he looks at him. Jimin holds his hand and says, “You know I’m always with you no matter what, don’t you?”

“Jimin, you’re freaking me out,” Taehyung complains. “What’s going on? Just tell me.”

Jimin is nervous, Taehyung can see that much in the way he constantly wets his lips with his tongue, or how his eyes keep flickering from one place to another. Trying to reassure him, Taehyung gives his hand a squeeze and smiles once Jimin’s eyes are on him.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” Jimin says. “It’s just… I want to quit escorting, Taehyung.”

Taehyung’s mouth falls open then. He didn’t know what he was expecting, but it was not this. He’s shocked but that doesn’t lessen the blow at all. He feels something in him shatter.

You know I’m always with you no matter what, don’t you?

They said they’d be together during all of this, didn’t they? But Taehyung knows that Jimin is just as tired from this life as he is. And he also knows that he can’t ask him to stay in it any longer. They got into this together, but they never agreed they’d have to stop together. They just promised they’d always take care of each other.

“Why?” Taehyung asks, voice quiet.

Jimin sighs, looking down. “Being in a relationship with Hoseok has made me realize that I can’t have the life I want for myself if I keep doing this, Tae. I feel stuck and I want to progress,” he says, voice almost a mumble. “I know I won’t make as much money, and I know that I’ll have to live more modestly, but this is it, Taehyung. I’m ready.”

Taehyung nods. He gets it. He knows what Jimin means by being ready, and it’s something he envies. He feels stuck, too. But, even if he does, he also feels too scared to move on. This is all he has known for years and he’s scared to let go of it.

And now, with Jimin moving forward, Taehyung feels like what he knows is falling apart.

“That’s—that’s good, Jimin,” Taehyung says, voice a little choked. “That’s really good. I’m happy for you.”

He’s happy, genuinely so. Jimin deserves it, and Taehyung is glad that he’s going to, once and for all, chase the life he wants for himself. But he’s also terribly scared of being left alone now.

Almost as if he read his mind, Jimin surges forward, pulls him into a hug and says, “I’m still here, Taehyung. I’m still your best friend and we’ll still take care of each other, even if I don’t escort anymore. That’s not going to change.”

“You deserve it,” Taehyung says, voice a little broken. “You deserve a happiness that I know you’ll never have if you keep doing this. You deserve to only have the person you love touch you, have you and look at you like that. You deserve to be yours, Jimin. Yours.”

Jimin holds him tighter, kissing his forehead before he squeezes his cheek next to Taehyung’s. Taehyung feels a little silly for his initial reaction because he knows Jimin is not going anywhere. What ties them together is way stronger than their job. It’s a bond that has not only kept them as friends during all these years, but has also kept them holding on, has kept them alive, has kept them upright in their hardest moments. They’re unbreakable, Taehyung knows that. And no one and nothing has the power to change that.

“I love you,” Jimin says, voice almost a whisper. “Thanks for being understanding. I was afraid you’d get mad.”

“You know I would never,” replies Taehyung. He doesn’t take Jimin’s fear to heart—he knows it’s hard to think straight when you’re scared, knows it too well. “I’m happy you’ve found your way out of the maze.”

“I know you’ll find your way out too, eventually,” Jimin says, pulling back a little and looking at Taehyung. “And I’ll be waiting for you.”

He wants to be ready, too. He wants for a time to come when he can look at the future and not feel scared. He wants to let go of this so, so badly. Every day that goes by he feels his desire for it grow, but he doesn’t think he can do it. Not yet.

He thinks of the words he’s told Jimin, and thinks about how he feels less himself than he was three years ago. He’s changed. And while he knows that part of it is due to the fact that he’s growing, and he’s not the college student without a care in the world he used to be, he also knows that some of it has to do with this job. It’s taken parts of Taehyung that he didn’t want to give away, parts of him he hopes he’s still in time to get back. Jimin is his, now—Jimin is Jimin’s. And Taehyung wants to feel like he’s Taehyung’s, now.

His. His own person. That’s what Taehyung longs for the most.

 

Chapter Text

The following days are full to the brim with planning with Jimin. Both of them know that he can’t stop escorting right away because of how expensive their rent is. For a moment, Taehyung was afraid that Jimin would want to move out right away. Luckily, that’s not the case.

Their contract expires in less than two months, so they decide to live there together until then. After that, Jimin will move in with Hoseok and Taehyung will need to find himself somewhere else to live. He’ll work something out. He needs somewhere centric still, and this time around it will be enough with one bedroom, even if he might have to change the bedsheets often.

“It’s going to be so weird,” Taehyung confesses one afternoon, when they’re both lying on the bed. They’re looking at the ceiling, Jimin resting his head on Taehyung’s arms as they’re spread out. “Not living with you. Working without you here.”

“I have my… reservations about that,” Jimin says. Taehyung looks at him, raising an eyebrow inquiringly. “Will you be okay without me here?”

Taehyung doesn’t know. Not only because their profession can be dangerous sometimes, since clients can be unpredictable at times and overstep boundaries. He would feel safer knowing that Jimin is there, in the next room, in case anything happens.

But there is another reason. When days get too long and hard, when the memory of hands on his skin makes him feel at his worst, those feelings lessen a little with one of Jimin’s hugs, with a few encouraging words from him. Taehyung doesn’t know what he’s going to do without Jimin’s hugs at the end of the day.

“I’ll be just fine,” Taehyung says. Maybe it’s a lie, but he hopes it’s not. He knows he’s dependent on Jimin, but he’s hoping he’ll be alright without him. He doesn’t want to tie Jimin to this, to a life he doesn’t want anymore.

“I want us to see each other every day still,” Jimin says. Taehyung can feel him looking at him, but he pretends to not notice as he keeps looking at the white ceiling, at the lamp hanging over them. “You’re not going to get rid of me that easily, you know?”

Taehyung laughs at that. “I hope I don’t,” he says, truthfully. He wouldn’t go to the extent of saying he would die without Jimin, but he does know that it will be hard to do this without him. At least, it will at first.

“Of course not,” Jimin replies, sounding sure of what he’s saying. “You can count on me. Forever, remember?”

Oh, those words. So reminiscent of old days at the club. Taehyung does remember—he remembers a rainy November night, when he found Jimin curled up crying in one of the changing rooms after one of his private shows. He had held him while he told him about how the guy had touched him without his permission, and how he didn’t have the heart to tell him not to in case he complained to their boss. Jimin didn’t want to get in trouble.

At that point, Taehyung already considerer Jimin to be his best friend. He got him in a way that none of his college friends did—in the way only someone who went through the same thing as he did, would.

“I got you,” Taehyung says, Jimin’s head resting against his shoulder as he cried. “And I’m here for you. Forever, okay? You can always count on me, Minnie.”

Jimin nodded, then. “Forever,” he replied, his voice a little shaky. “Promise we’ll have each other forever.”

Taehyung smiled at him, raising his hand with his pinky extended. “I promise,” Taehyung says, watching Jimin look at his hand in what appeared to be fascination. “We’ll have each other forever.”

Wordlessly, Jimin raised his hand as well and tangled his pinky with Taehyung’s. It looked almost comical, with how small Jimin’s chubby fingers were in comparison to Taehyung’s longer and slimmer ones. Taehyung smiled.

Maybe it was a childish gesture. They were twenty-one and things have changed a lot ever since. But to Taehyung, it meant the world. And today, four years later, he still stands by the promise Jimin and he made that night.

 

 

The day of the trial, luckily enough, goes by without any surprises.

When he first gets there, accompanied by Jimin, Taehyung meets Jeongguk and Namjoon. Introductions are made, Jimin excited to finally meet the infamous Jeongguk. They got there a bit earlier, and before coming into the room Namjoon and Jimin try their best to calm down Taehyung’s arising nerves. Jeongguk is quiet for the most part, and Taehyung doesn’t need to ask to know that he is feeling just as nervous as Taehyung himself is.

It doesn’t take long before they have to go in. Namjoon was right—with the amount of evidence they have, there seems to be no doubt at all about his innocence. He takes the stand and explains what happened, which is later on confirmed both by Alexander and the waiter from the restaurant, who looks even more anxious than Taehyung does. Even if he knows that the waiter has something to do with what happened to him, Taehyung can’t help but feel sorry for him. Maybe he’s too sympathetic.

Alexander stays true to his word and testifies in Taehyung’s favor. Just like he promised, nothing about his profession is mentioned, and once he’s off the stand Taehyung can’t help but sigh in relief. He feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders with just that.

Things go fast after that. It doesn’t take long for him to get a verdict after everything is out there in the open: innocent. The word feels like honey in Taehyung’s ears. One less thing to worry about.

As he leaves, with Namjoon by his side, he makes a mental note to call his mom later and let her know how things went. He knows she’s probably anxiously waiting for a call and for him to tell her what happened.

Once they get out, they see Jimin and Jeongguk waiting for them. Jimin doesn’t wait for greetings—he pulls Taehyung into a big, tight hug once they’ve joined them.

“See? I told you everything would go well,” he says, Taehyung unable to contain a smile as he hugs Jimin back.

“An optimistic,” Taehyung replies jokingly, seeing Jimin’s bright smile once he pulls back. He turns to Namjoon and Jeongguk then, saying, “I would like to thank you both once again for the help you’ve given me. It really… It really means a lot to me. Thank you.”

“And once again, it’s nothing,” Namjoon says, giving Taehyung a charming, dimpled smile. There’s a beat of silence, and then he’s clearing his throat and looking at his side, “Jeongguk, say something, for the love of God.”

Taehyung sees Jimin crack a smile by his side. Jeongguk snaps out of his daze then.

“Oh, okay, yeah, well, I—” Jeongguk starts, and this time around Jimin can’t hold back a giggle. Taehyung smiles a little, endeared. “I would do it all again. You know I wouldn’t have not helped you and that I’d help you with anything you needed me for.”

Taehyung swallows down, seeing the implications there. He lowers his gaze before replying, Namjoon and Jimin going quiet as well. They know.

“Thank you, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, lifting his eyes and looking straight into Jeongguk’s as he speaks. “It means a lot.”

There’s a moment of silence, but it’s not uncomfortable. Jeongguk nods at Taehyung’s words, their eyes fixed on each other. Jeongguk doesn’t push it any further, something Taehyung is grateful for.

“So…” Namjoon starts, then. “Celebratory drinks, anyone?”

Jimin laughs. “I wish I could but I need to go meet a client in a bit,” Jimin says, not sugarcoating it. He turns to look at Taehyung and gives his hand a quick squeeze, adding, “I’ll see you at home later, yeah?”

“I’ll see you later, Jimin,” Taehyung says as Jimin starts to walk away. “Be safe!”

Jimin waves his fingers at him and gives him one last smile before turning around and disappearing down the hallway. Taehyung looks back at Jeongguk and Namjoon. He does feel a little awkward with Jeongguk now, especially since he has been quiet all day. Still, Taehyung pushes that aside and tries to act as normally as he can.

They go to a pub nearby to get something to drink. Taehyung slides into a booth opposite Namjoon and Jeongguk, and they fall into easy conversation about the trial. Some of it is filled with law argot that Taehyung has come to learn eventually, and he’s not as lost in the conversation as he used to be when he and Jeongguk first met.

When he and Jeongguk first met… that was back in November. It’s nearing the end of June, now. It feels like so long has passed since then, but at the same time, it feels like time has gone by so fast. Too fast, maybe.

Taehyung can’t help but wonder at what point along the way he fell in love with Jeongguk. Maybe he had been falling from the very beginning. How could he not, with how intense everything was? During all those months, Taehyung felt strongly. Nothing has changed, really.

“You know, when Jimin and I were talking back there, before the trial began…” Jeongguk starts, trailing off. Jeongguk doesn’t address it personally to anyone, nor is he looking at them, gaze fixed on his glass. Still, Taehyung knows that these words are meant for him, so he listens closely. “Well, he told me he’s going to quit escorting.”

Taehyung sighs. He didn’t think Jimin would tell Jeongguk. He didn’t think they would talk more about each other, but that instead they would just fill the awkward silence between them with small talk about the trial, maybe Taehyung himself. He must make sure to ask Jimin what else they talked about once he’s back home.

“Ah, yeah,” Taehyung confirms. “He’s quitting in a little over a month. He’s moving in with his boyfriend, and all that…”

Taehyung sees Jeongguk nod, swallowing down thickly. There is so much he wants to say and do, but he knows he can’t.

I wish that was us, too, he thinks.

He’s dying to stretch his arm and hold Jeongguk’s hand across the table, give it a squeeze. Reassure him and tell him that they will be alright, too.

Taehyung feels like this is so complicated because they both want to make it complicated.

“That’s good for him,” Jeongguk says, then. He threads the words carefully with each other, as if he’s trying hard to say the right thing. “If he’s moving out, are you going to stay at the place you live in right now?”

Taehyung shakes his head, negatively. “No, I’m not,” Taehyung replies. “I need to find a new place. I’ve started looking, but I haven’t found anything. Hopefully I’ll find somewhere good so I can keep working.”

“Are you looking online?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung nods, wordlessly. “Then you’re just seeing… the tip of the iceberg. How about you tell me what requirements you need for the apartment? I’ll get in touch with some real estate agencies, and we can meet up soon and I’ll show you what I’ve found.”

The right thing to do would be to decline the offer. Taehyung knows that the more time he spends with Jeongguk, the harder things will be. The harder it will be to forget about him.

But, if there is something this whole experience has shown Taehyung, it’s that he isn’t the best at following the rules. And so, he nods and says, “That sounds good. When would be a good time for us to meet?”

“Well, I’d like to be able to collect a few interesting offers for you, so maybe next week?” he asks. “So I have time to visit different agencies and hear back from them.”

“That sounds perfect, yeah,” Taehyung says. “Text me the details whenever you can.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, small. Taehyung’s heart dies a little.

“I will, don’t worry,” Jeongguk says. “In advance, so you don’t have to cancel appointments with clients.”

Taehyung smiles back at him, nodding. Probably not his best idea, but he just wants to keep Jeongguk close.

From the corner of his eyes, he sees Namjoon look at them with a cryptic smile. Almost as if he knew something that neither Taehyung and Jeongguk were aware of.

Taehyung doesn’t ask. He’s tired of asking, worrying and overthinking. Right now, he just wants to go with the flow.

 

 

July of 2018 marks the first time in all of his years as a sex worker that Taehyung has felt physically ill after being with a client. Not even once during his first year as a stripper, or in the three years he’s been escorting, has he gone through something like this. Not even when he was a newbie and the touch of a stranger paying for his services made him want to curl into a ball.

It’s not that he’s been with a particularly gross or bad client. It’s a man he’s met a few times, a quiet man with big, chubby hands and thick fingers that held his hips too tight. He kissed him roughly, hurt him a little, but Taehyung is used to it. He’s too used to it.

Which is exactly why he can’t make sense of the odd, heavy feeling in his stomach once the man pulls out of him.

He says, “That was good, wasn’t it?” It makes Taehyung feel like shit, his stomach aching at the words as he feels his cheeks get warmer.

“Yeah,” he forces himself to lie. “That was good.”

The man laughs, and Taehyung almost feels like crying. Good, he said. It wasn’t good, at least not for Taehyung. It wasn’t bad, either. It was his job. He doesn’t think of the sex he has with clients as good or bad sex, he doesn’t think of it as sex. It’s a task. There is no intimacy, no fun, no connection.

It gets worse as the minutes go by. He literally can’t wait for the man to leave, to disappear from his house and leave him alone. He can’t wait to leave the room. Being in here, in this bedroom, has been making him anxious for the last couple of weeks. One is supposed to feel safe at home, but Taehyung doesn’t feel safe here. He wants the man to leave, he wants to leave this fucking room and he wants to go into his bedroom. The one he shares with Jimin, the one that feels like home.

The minutes that the guy takes before finally getting out of bed and getting dressed are endless to Taehyung. He gets out of bed himself, planning to grab a pair of underwear and his robe from where it’s hanging and cover himself. He can’t stand the way the man’s gaze lingers on his collarbone, making him feel lewd and dirty.

As soon as he stands up, the nausea he was trying to convince himself he wasn’t feeling intensifies. His mouth waters in the worst kind of way, and Taehyung feels the unpleasant need to throw up. He swallows down and tries to will it away.

“I’m gonna need you to leave now,” he says. He can’t bring himself to get a pet name out now, and the man’s name has been wiped from his memory. He hopes he doesn’t seem a little rude, but at this moment in time he doesn’t really give a fuck.

“Walk me to the door,” the man orders. He says it in a sweet, too mellow tone, but Taehyung still can see the order in it. I’m paying you for this, do as I say, is what it feels like. When they’re at the door, the man says, “Do I get a kiss goodbye?”

Taehyung doesn’t say anything, just leans forward and presses his lips against his. He was just going for a chaste, farewell peck, but the man clearly had other plans as he pries Taehyung’s lips open, his tongue invading Taehyung’s mouth. And, ah, there it is—the nastily tight hold around his hips, even through the robe. The unwanted harshness of the kiss.

I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, he thinks. I hate you so much.

His eyes are closed, but they still well up, and Taehyung fights hard to not let tears fall from his eyes. He’s not going to cry in front of him, or any client. They don’t have the kind of power over him it takes to make him cry.

The moment the door closes Taehyung feels two things. The first one is relief, almost as if the wooden door acted as a wall between them. He couldn’t touch him now, he couldn’t kiss him, he couldn’t order around and, most importantly, he couldn’t hurt him.

The second one was another wave of nausea, this one stronger than the previous ones, and the impending need to throw up. Taehyung doesn’t register the moment his legs start moving to the bathroom, nor does he realize how loud he slams the door shut before kneeling down before the toilet.

A million thoughts cross his mind at that moment. He’s doing something that hurts all of those he cares about—hurts Jimin, hurts his mother, hurts Jeongguk. But most importantly, Taehyung is doing something that is hurting him. He feels himself withering away.

It’s then that he hears the timid knock on the door, followed by a low, “Taehyung?”

He had completely forgotten that Jimin was still home, as deep in his own misery as he felt.

“Yes?” Taehyung asks, voice shaky. He feels a layer of cold sweat on his forehead, hair sticking to it.

“Are you okay? Can I come in?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung’s first instinct is to reject help and tell Jimin he’s alright. He’s about to say that, mouth open to say the words, but then he shakes his head negatively. He needs to let himself get help when he needs help, and this is one of those occasions.

“Please, come in,” he says. “I feel sick.”

Jimin enters the room, opening the door carefully so he doesn’t accidentally hit Taehyung with it. He holds him and makes sure his head is back as he throws up again, shaken by another wave of nausea. He helps him stand again and rinse his mouth and face. Taehyung is about to brush his teeth but Jimin stops him.

“The acid will be bad for your teeth if you brush them now,” he signals. Taehyung nods, leaving the brush on the vase.

 And then, Jimin helps him walk back to their bedroom, making sure there’s a trashcan and a plastic bag near him once he’s lying down.

He doesn’t pressure him to talk. Rather than that, he leaves the room again, leaving Taehyung confused until he sees him appear back into the room with a thermometer.

“I’m not ill,” Taehyung says, Jimin gesturing at him to open his mouth.

“Just in case,” Jimin tells him. “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes,” Taehyung says, honest. Jimin calms him. Being away from the client also has a lot to do with it. “You… you get it, don’t you?”

“I do,” Jimin says, nodding. “Now, open up. I still want to check your temperature.”

They stay silent while the thermometer is in Taehyung’s mouth, Jimin playing with his hair as Taehyung rests his head on his shoulder. Taehyung thinks that they stay there like that for longer than necessary before Jimin finally checks his temperature, but he says nothing about it.

The whole temperature issue is forgotten about once Jimin takes the thermometer from his mouth and looks at it, leaving it aside with a sigh. Taehyung assumes everything is in order, both because he feels okay and because Jimin doesn’t move. Taehyung knows that Jimin is waiting for him to say something, anything.

And when he does speak, he goes for what has been bothering him for weeks.

“I can’t get out of my mind the look on my mom’s face when I told her I was an escort,” Taehyung confesses. “I can’t.”

Jimin shifts in the bed, curious. “Why?” is all he asks.

“At first I thought she would look disappointed,” Taehyung starts. “But instead of that, she was just… sad. Sad and hurt. And if she was disappointed, it wasn’t in me. It was in dad and herself, because she thinks that they weren’t enough and that this is their fault.”

“Oh, Tae…” Jimin says, hugging him closer. Taehyung sighs.

“It’s ruining my life, Jimin,” he confesses. He doesn’t need to specify what because Jimin know. “I’m holding on to something that is ruining my life, and I don’t know how to let go and go back to who I was before it.”

“Hey, hey, babe,” Jimin says, taking Taehyung’s face in his palms and making him look at him. “You’re the same person you’ve always been. Just with way more wisdom and some scars, but those will heal.  But you’re you. You’re Taehyung who is smart, who is charming, who is bright. Escorting hasn’t taken that away from you.”

“I hope I’m the same,” Taehyung says. “I don’t feel the same. Not all the time, at least.”

“How so?” Jimin asks, frowning a little.

“Because I used to think that I could eat the world whole,” Taehyung says. “I used to feel a lot braver, and a lot bigger. And now… I feel small, Jimin. And I wonder if I can do this, if I can quit and chase my dreams. I feel like they’re all too big for me now.”

“Not at all true,” Jimin says, looking straight into Taehyung’s eyes. “Not. At. All. You’re so brave for waking up every day and going through something that makes you feel like this, even if you feel like this is the easiest way. You’re the bravest person I know, Taehyung. You’ve been here with me every step of the way. I just—I wish we could take this one step together, too. I don’t want to leave you behind now.”

Jimin’s confession makes his eyes water, a couple of tears streaming down his cheeks. Taehyung shakes his heads.

“I want to,” Taehyung says. “I’m dying to. I want nothing more than to leave all of this behind, but… I’m scared, Jimin. I’m so scared of what’s going to happen next if I quit, because it’s uncertain. I don’t know if I’m ready.”

“Being ready is not about not being afraid of what’s gonna happen, Tae. I’m scared—terribly so,” Jimin replies, looking at him. “But being ready is about knowing that there is something else for you out there, something you want to pursue. And being ready is also this, breaking down like you are right now because you can’t take this anymore, Taehyung. I don’t want to see you break just because you feel like you aren’t ready, because you are. We’ve both been ready to let go for some time now, fuck.”

Taehyung replays Jimin’s words in his mind. Being ready is about knowing that there is something else for him to pursue. There really are a couple of things that he’s been daydreaming of—for years now, he’s thought of starting his own business. Working for another company would be easier, but that’s not what his goal is. And, a more recent thing he’s been wanting to pursue is a relationship with Jeongguk.

And, fuck. He wants both of them so bad that it’s making his heart burn.

“Maybe it’s time to let go,” he says. The words are barely a whisper, but Jimin still hears him.

“Give me your phone,” Jimin commands.

“What for?” Taehyung asks, but he’s already reaching for his bedside table and getting his phone, giving it to Jimin. “What are you gonna do?”

“I’m going to put an end to this,” Jimin says, tapping on the Adultwork app and opening it. He presses the settings menu.

“Are you… are you going to delete my account?” Taehyung asks.

“Only if you want me to,” replies Jimin, turning his head a little to look at Taehyung.

Taehyung thinks. He doesn’t need to know how much money he has in his bank account—he knows the number by heart. That, added to what he has in cash from what he’s made this week… They have already paid rent, as it is now after the 5th of the month, the last day they have to pay their landlord. He has more than enough to live for the rest of the month in cash alone.

“Yes,” Taehyung says in the end. Jimin smiles. “I want you to delete it, but let me do yours first.”

Jimin agrees, getting his own phone and giving it to Taehyung. He finds the app and navigates it, opening the settings menu and clicking on the deactivating option. When he’s asked to input Jimin’s password for safety measures, Taehyung doesn’t even have to think about it for a second—it’s the name of the café Jimin’s parents own followed by the date of birth of his younger brother.

It happens too fast for a decision that feels so important, Taehyung thinks. He looks at Jimin once everything is done, and finds him smiling incredibly wide and with a couple tears lingering on his lashes.

“How do you feel, Minnie?” he asks.

“Free,” Jimin replies. Taehyung smiles. “I feel so free.”

After that, Jimin gets Taehyung’s phone from where he left it, unlocking it with his thumb. It’s still open on the settings menu for Taehyung’s account. They both watch as Jimin taps over the deactivate account sign. A warning about how the account will be permanently deleted and it will be impossible to get it and its data back pops up, but neither of them read it as Jimin starts typing Taehyung’s password. He doesn’t need to ask him what it is, of course he doesn’t.

Taehyung holds back his breath one Jimin taps confirm, and only releases once the screen loads again.

Your account has been successfully deactivated.

And just like that, Taehyung feels like he can breathe again.

 

 

The next week, just like Jeongguk had promised, he texts Taehyung asking to meet to show him the apartments he’s found for him. Taehyung bites down on his bottom lip, looking at the text. The reunion will be rather… useless. Taehyung’s requirements have changed a lot since then—he no longer wants a place in Gangnam, as he no longer escorts. He doesn’t need a centric, nice place to live. Right now, he needs to find a modest apartment so he can focus on launching his own business later on.

He doesn’t know how to tell Jeongguk that he has quit escorting, and he doesn’t think it’s a conversation he should have with him over the phone. He owes him an explanation in person. So he just agrees to meet Jeongguk at his place on Wednesday afternoon.

By the time Wednesday comes around, Taehyung thinks it’s safe to say he’s a nervous wreck. It feels as if nervousness whenever he knows he’s about to meet with Jeongguk has become a given now. However, this time around is… different. Because what has happened has changed everything, hasn’t it? It has changed everything.

Taehyung doesn’t expect Jeongguk and himself to magically get together right after he tells him. In all honesty, he doesn’t know what to expect. He tries to convince himself of one thing—if it works, that’s fine; and if it doesn’t, it’s fine as well—it’s not going to be the end of the world.

With that mindset, Taehyung leaves his apartment and walks to Jeongguk’s place. It’s a long walk, but he knows it will clear his mind and calm him down. He just makes sure to leave his place with enough time to get to Jeongguk’s at the hour they’ve agreed on.

He gets there eventually. When Jeongguk opens the door he’s wearing a white, cotton t-shirt and sweatpants, hair falling over his face. He looks softer than ever, and for the first time since he’s known him, it really hits him how young Jeongguk is. He looks almost out of place in his apartment. He’s just twenty-three, Jesus Christ, yet he’s already an important accountant, with a house like this.

“Hello there,” Taehyung says when Jeongguk opens. “I’m sorry I got here a little earlier. I had a… miscalculation of the time it’d take me to get here.”

Taehyung was going to wait outside, he really was. But it’s too sunny and too hot, and he was getting impatient. He just hopes Jeongguk doesn’t mind.

“It’s no problem, I was already waiting for you,” Jeongguk says. “I took the afternoon off so we’d have time to go over all of this.”

It’d be right there and then that Taehyung should tell him that there is nothing to go over now, because his requirements for apartments have changed drastically. He is sure he can no longer afford the kind of places Jeongguk has for him, as they’re probably too expensive for what his income will allow. He does have money saved up, but location is not important for him anymore.

He can’t bring himself to tell him, though. Not yet. He just smiles at Jeongguk and says, “Show me them, then.”

That is how he finds himself sitting next to Jeongguk on the couch, their knees touching as Jeongguk shows him different places on his laptop, as well as on some papers that are now spread all over his coffee table.

“This one is pretty close to your current plate, actually,” Jeongguk says, pointing at his laptop screen. Taehyung looks at it. “The rent includes both heating, electricity and warm water. You’d only have to pay separately for cold water, and there is a—”

“Jeongguk, I’ve quit escorting.”

He wasn’t planning on saying it like this. He should have told Jeongguk he had something to tell him, even if that would have led to a moment of nerves before he finally told him. He wasn’t meant to blurt it out like this, without even looking at him.

But he did.

“You…” Jeongguk starts, sounding unsure. Taehyung looks at him, only to find Jeongguk’s big, brown eyes already looking in his direction. “You’ve quit escorting?”

Taehyung nods after Jeongguk repeats his words. “I have, yes,” he says. “Jimin and I deleted our profiles from the app. I haven’t been working for the last few days.”

He watches how Jeongguk’s pink lips turn into the shape of an ‘o’. He looks shocked, and Taehyung gets why. It was only a month ago that Taehyung was telling him how he wasn’t going to quit yet because he wasn’t ready. And now… now he’s here. Taehyung is the first one to ask himself what’s changed—maybe it’s just that he reached his limit.

Either way, he doesn’t regret it.

He doesn’t see the hug coming, but suddenly Jeongguk’s arms are curling around his shoulder and pressing him close. Taehyung’s eyes widen for a fraction of a second, but then he leans into the touch, his own arms wrapping around Jeongguk’s middle. He’s missed the warmth.

“I’m so, so happy to hear that, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung smiles a little, glad Jeongguk can’t see his face or the way he’s smiling so sheepishly.  “At last.”

Jeongguk’s words make Taehyung wonder if he ever saw it in his eyes. Jimin has told him that lately, since Christmas or so, his eyes have been a little cloudier, a little sadder. Just by looking at him, Jimin could tell that Taehyung wasn’t as happy as he used to be. That was part of the reason why Jimin himself made up his mind about the issue.

Taehyung can’t help but wish that Jeongguk noticed, too. Maybe he’s just being too hopeful, but he likes to think Jeongguk knows him well enough by now.

“Yeah,” Taehyung says once Jeongguk lets go of him, pulling back. “At last.”

For a moment there, Jeongguk looks doubtful. Almost as if he wanted to ask something but didn’t.

“What’s brought this on?” is what he finally asks after a moment of silence. “Why now?”

That’s a question that Taehyung was already waiting for. He doesn’t want to lie anymore—not to himself, to Jeongguk, or to Jimin. But he’s also a little bit scared of being too honest and what the consequences of that might be. So he tries to be as vague as he can.

“It was taking too much away from me and from the life that I want to have,” he starts, not wanting to go into detail. “Even if I wanted to keep up with it for a little, it just became… impossible. I was too fed up with it.”

“What do you mean fed up?” Jeongguk asks.

“I couldn’t do it anymore. After seeing my last ever client I threw up in the toilet, and that’s how I knew I couldn’t keep it up. I was too blind to see it before I got literally physically sick, but…” Taehyung says, waving his hand.

Jeongguk just nods a little, looking at him. “You deserve so much, Taehyung,” Jeongguk says. “You fucking deserve everything.”

Taehyung can’t help but feel a little flustered at the words, as well as at the intensity of them and the way in which Jeongguk looks at him when he says them. He looks like he’s ready to give him everything he asks for, all those things that he says Taehyung deserves.

“I’ll be happy just with a new start,” Taehyung confesses. “I’m sorry your work looking for the flats will be worth nothing. I don’t mean to take advantage, but… I would be really grateful if you would still help me find new places, but this time with some other requirements.”

“I’ll help,” Jeongguk says, not missing a beat. Taehyung can’t help but smile. “It’s not taking advantage. I’ll always be happy to help you out, I’ve told you before. Besides…”

Jeongguk trails off, so Taehyung insists, “Besides what?”

“Besides, I know I’ve done some stuff that haven’t been the best in the past. I already apologized and you said you forgave me, but I want to make up for it,” Jeongguk says.

“What are you referring to, exactly?”

“Well… Being possessive. Using your phone,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung nods, and then Jeongguk adds, “Also, some other stuff I haven’t really owned up to yet. For example: when I stopped texting you, when I slept with Haneul…”

“It’s not important,” Taehyung says, wincing a little. Those memories still hurt a little, if he’s completely honest.

“It is important,” Jeongguk says, looking at him. “I’ve already told you why I slept with him, because I didn’t want to think of you anymore. As to why I suddenly stopped being in contact with you… I knew I was in love, Taehyung. And I was scared. You know the rest…”

Taehyung nods. He does know the rest—knows Jeongguk was too scared to be with an escort, knows he ran away from his own feelings just as Taehyung ran away from his, too.

“As I’ve said before, you’re forgiven,” Taehyung insists.  Then, with a smile and in a lighter tone, he adds, “But… if you really want to make it up to me, you can help with something else.”

“Oh, really?” Jeongguk asks, raising an eyebrow. “And what would that be?”

“I’m going to be opening my own business, as I wanted to,” Taehyung replies. He sees Jeongguk’s teasing smile turn into a happy, genuine one, which in turn makes the corners of his lips curl upwards too. “And… I’m going to need an office for that, you know?”

Jeongguk laughs. Taehyung needs to explain no more—he knows Jeongguk already knows what he was going to ask.

“Leave it to me then, Tae,” Jeongguk says. “I’m your man.”

 

 

It occurs to Taehyung later that day when he’s showering that, even if Jeongguk has told him he loves him twice already, Taehyung hasn’t said it yet.

It’s not that he doesn’t love him back. Taehyung does so, with all his heart. He knows he’s just as in love with Jeongguk as Jeongguk is in love with him, there is no doubt about that. But he finds it harder to come clean about those feelings, especially in a situation as ambiguous as the one they’re in.

Things today have left him feeling hopeful. The fact that he’s not trapped in his old job anymore, the way Jeongguk and he have acted around each other… To Taehyung, it’s obvious that things have shifted and changed. They’re better than ever. Even better than in Osaka, or right before everything went to shit.

It feels good to have things get better for him. Taehyung finds himself laughing with Jimin again, finds himself (sort of) dancing around throughout the day, finds himself humming to songs. His mood has gotten so much better, and even if there is a lot of uncertainty ahead of him, he’s going to be brave and face it. He’s done with running away from what he wants.

He meets up with Jeongguk again later on the same week, on Saturday. They picked that day for two reasons: the first one, Jeongguk felt too guilty to just take another afternoon off, or even leave early. The second, Jimin was going out with Hoseok that night, so Taehyung decided Saturday would be a win for both of them.

That day, Jeongguk shows him both apartments for him to live and some places where he could locate his office. Taehyung isn’t too into any of the offices Jeongguk has shown him, but they do pick some possible apartments.

“I’ll call them and schedule visits for you, then,” Jeongguk says. “As for the offices, I can keep looking. We’ll find something with a nice, centric location.”

“Thank you, assistant,” Taehyung jokes, making Jeongguk laugh. “You’re a gem.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, and something about it makes Taehyung smile, too. God, he feels so grossly in love.

“I was thinking…” Jeongguk starts, then. Taehyung looks at him, eyebrows raised questioningly. “Maybe we could grab some coffee sometime. I think I’d like to go out with you. Like we used to, but…”

He trails off, so Taehyung finished for him. “But completely real, this time around,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk looks at him, nodding. “I’d love to, Jeongguk. I really would.”

 

 

Taehyung finds out during his coffee date with Jeongguk that basically everyone in his tight circle of friends now knows about the escorting. Taehyung can’t help but feel a little nervous when Jeongguk tells him, a little worried about what they might think. Those were the people he once wanted to call friends so badly. He knows Namjoon is completely chill with it, but…

“And how did they take it?” he asks Jeongguk, his curiosity and will to know winning the battle over his fear.

“They were all very surprised, I must say,” Jeongguk says. That’s not very telling, but judging by the smile on his lips it couldn’t have been… bad. “Seokjin said that you’re a brilliant actor, and Yoongi said that he thought we were genuinely in love. And, well….”

“And what?” Taehyung asks.

“He said that he bets I have feelings for you, escort or not,” Jeongguk says, looking away from Taehyung. “Which is… very true.”

Taehyung feels his heart literally squeak at the way Jeongguk’s cheeks blush, dusty pink covering them. He reaches for Jeongguk’s hand and covers it with his bigger one.

“You’re good, Guk,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk’s cheeks turn into a brighter pink, which makes Taehyung smile smugly. “You okay there?”

“Perfectly,” says Jeongguk, clearing his throat a little. “Either way, now that we are on… speaking terms again, they said they would like to meet with you again. They say they’ve missed you.”

“Have they really?” Taehyung asks. The words have made him way happier than they probably should, but he can’t help but smile widely. Jeongguk nods. “That’s… I didn’t really think they would miss me, or even think twice about me being gone. I would love to meet with all of them again, Jeongguk.”

“We’ll arrange something, then,” Jeongguk says, giving Taehyung a charming smile. “And while we’re on the matter…”

“What is it?” Taehyung asks, seeing Jeongguk seems to be a little stuck with his words.

“Remember that wedding that we were talking about that one time?” Jeongguk asks.

Taehyung does, of course he does. He remembers having dinner that day, Namjoon trying to convince Jeongguk to go to the wedding. The reason why he really remembers it is because of what happened after, when Jeongguk drove him home after they had sex back at his place. That was the night they first fought, what probably triggered the downfall of everything. Taehyung used to look at that night with certain resentment, but maybe what happened was for the best. Maybe if that hadn’t happened they wouldn’t be here today—happy, and free to love each other.

Free. Taehyung feels so, so free, like Jimin had said.

“I do remember, yes,” Taehyung says, already seeing where this is going. “I assumed it would have happened already since it’s been months.”

“It’s in two weeks,” Jeongguk says, swallowing down. “I… even if you never really said yes, I still confirmed my plus one. I was just going to cancel it right before the wedding, but now… Well. Would you go with me?”

“Yes,” Taehyung says, not thinking twice about it. He wants to go with Jeongguk. He’s wanted to for months. “Absolutely.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, and in that moment Taehyung feels like they both know something that neither of them is going to tell the other yet. Taehyung can’t make sense of it, but he does know why his heart is beating so fast it feels like his chest going to burst.

He’s in love. So, so terribly in love.

 

 

Going out to dinner with Jeongguk, Namjoon, Seokjin and Yoongi is something that Taehyung had missed very, very much during all these months. This time around he can truly be himself, which makes it even better. He can’t deny he feels somehow emotional whenever they call him Taehyung. Not Taeyong, not Tae. Taehyung.

He must point out that he’s extremely glad none of them ask about what he considers sensitive topics, in the sense that they’re not things he would like to discuss over dinner. Those being, escorting and where Jeongguk and he stand right now.

He had missed Seokjin’s dramatics and Yoongi’s witty and dry humor. Seeing Seokjin and Jeongguk go back and forth is just as funny as he remembers, especially with Namjoon trying to get them to stop as Yoongi keeps adding fuel to the fire.

“You’re just jealous I picked Namjoon for Taehyung’s case instead of you,” Jeongguk says, devilish.

Taehyung chokes on his food. Out of all the people at the table, of course Jeongguk had to be the one to bring that up. The clumsy fucker. “Jeongguk!” he says, giving him a light kick to his calf under the table.

“That was your mistake,” Seokjin says, pointing a finger at him. “If you had asked me for help, I would have thrown both that Nordic piece of shit and the waiter in jail. Or, well—at least they would be paying him a juicy compensation for moral damages.”

“But Taehyung didn’t want to press any charges,” Namjoon says, looking a little lost.

“That’s how fucking good Seokjin is,” Yoongi says then, sardonic. “He would get a guilty verdict even without any charges being pressed.”

Taehyung can’t help but laugh at the comment. The situation in itself is ridiculous, beyond so. But he’s missed it, fuck. He’s missed it so much.

 

 

As Taehyung and Jeongguk walk back to Jeongguk’s car, Taehyung can’t help but wonder what it’d be like to introduce Jimin and Hoseok to Jeongguk’s friends. They’d get along, Taehyung thinks. And it’d be a nice, decent sized group of friends to have.

His train of thought is interrupted by Jeongguk opening his car, the lights catching Taehyung’s attention and bringing him back to reality.

“Are you going to drive me home, then?” Taehyung asks, watching Jeongguk as he walks around the car. They look at each other over the hood, Taehyung giving him a smile.

“Get in, Tae,” Jeongguk says, pulling his door open. Taehyung does so, getting in the car and closing the door once he’s sitting. He looks at Jeongguk then, still waiting for his answer. “So… I can take you home if you want. Or we could go back to mine for drinks if you want.”

Taehyung swallows down at the offer, lips parting just to close again. The offer is tempting, very. Taehyung misses the intimacy of Jeongguk’s apartment at night—the dimmed lights, the glasses of wine they shared curled up on Jeongguk’s couch, the kisses, the touches… The feeling of being Jeongguk’s, and Jeongguk being his.

“Okay, yes,” he agrees. Taehyung wonders if it feels as momentous to Jeongguk as it does to him. “Let’s go back to yours.”

There’s some sort of underlying tension after that, not necessarily sexual. Taehyung wonders if Jeongguk can feel it too, as he drives both of them back to Jeongguk’s place. For the first time, Taehyung doesn’t zone out looking at the city and how beautiful it looks at night. No, tonight he can’t tear his eyes away from Jeongguk, and the pretty shapes the lights paint on his face as the car moves.

It doesn’t go unnoticed by Taehyung that Jeongguk’s radio was already on the jazz station that Taehyung likes, that one Taehyung had shown Jeongguk the first time he rode in his car. The music plays low, almost as a soundtrack for the ride.

They finally get to the building, and Taehyung doesn’t miss the little smile that Jeongguk’s doorman gives him when he sees both of them appear.

“Good evening, Mr. Jeon,” he greets. “I see Mr. Kim is back.”

Taehyung can’t help but smile. He is back. Hopefully, for good.

“Good evening, Dakyung,” Jeongguk says, Taehyung wordlessly greeting him. “It had been a long time, hadn’t it?”

“Truly,” the doorman replies, smiling at both of them. “Have a lovely night.”

They both get in the elevator then, Jeongguk pressing the button to his floor. Their eyes meet, and Taehyung smiles at him. He feels some sort of nervousness, but not the anxious, bad kind. He feels… thrilled, he’d say.

“What would you like to drink?” Jeongguk asks once they’re inside, as Taehyung walks towards the living room. “Wine or cocktails?”

“Wine sounds nice,” Taehyung replies. Before Jeongguk can ask again, he adds. “Red. I think red fits the mood.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, nodding pleased. While he goes to the kitchen to get them the wine and glasses, Taehyung turns around and lets himself look at the view again, getting a little lost in it. It brings memories back to him—good memories.

It’s then that Jeongguk comes back, walking towards the coffee table to leave both the glasses and the bottle of wine on it.

“I missed it here,” Taehyung confesses, not moving.

Jeongguk looks at him, starting to move towards the window too. “I missed having you here,” he confesses. Taehyung smiles. “I hope you didn’t just miss the view.”

“You know I didn’t, silly,” says Taehyung, once Jeongguk and he are standing side by side. There isn’t a lot of space separating their arms, only a couple of centimeters between them. “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too,” Jeongguk says, turning a little to look at Taehyung. Taehyung mimics him. “I still miss you right now, even if you’re right here.”

Taehyung knows what Jeongguk means because he feels it too. They’re here, they’re together. They’ve been seeing each other regularly for the last few weeks. But there is a longing that still hasn’t been satisfied. Taehyung misses Jeongguk in ways he’s too flustered to admit out loud.

He swallows down, reaching down and taking Jeongguk’s hand in his. Their hands still feel like two pieces of a puzzle, meant to fit together. Their fingers intertwine easily, too easily. Taehyung looks up at Jeongguk’s face again, and he’s already watching.

“I can’t believe we’re both here like this, right now,” Taehyung mumbles, almost without meaning to. “There was a time when I thought we’d never…”

“I know,” Jeongguk says. Their voices are low, even if they’re both here alone. It feels like they’re confessing to each other, and in a way, they are. “I thought I had lost you for good, Taehyung. I didn’t really think there was a way to get you back, ever.”

“My mom always told me that if two people love each other enough, they would always find their way back to each other. No matter the circumstances,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk looks at him, almost cautious. Taehyung is very aware of his—very deliberate—usage of the word love. “I never believed it, because I know that sometimes wanting someone or something is not enough. But I’m glad it applies to us. I’m glad I’ve found my way back to you.”

“You said love,” Jeongguk points out. “Do you love me, Taehyung?”

They’re closer now. They’re so close that Taehyung knows how easy it’d be to kiss Jeongguk. They’re so close that he can almost feel the ghost of his touch on his body. Their palms are still firmly pressed together, fingers laced. Taehyung has never felt so close to anyone before.

“I do love you,” Taehyung mutters, just loud enough for Jeongguk to listen. “I love you so much it scared me for so long, Jeongguk. I love you so much it took me so long to welcome it and accept it. But yes—I love you. And I know I’ve had my chances to say it before, but it didn’t feel right until now.”

“Oh, Tae…” Jeongguk says, raising his free hand. Taehyung closes his eyes as he feels Jeongguk’s knuckles gently caressing his cheek, a gesture so tender it makes him want to melt. “I wish you knew how many nights I’ve spent awake, just thinking of you, wondering.”

“Wondering what?” Taehyung asks, opening his eyes to look at Jeongguk.

“About you. About us,” Jeongguk replies. “Whether I’d see you again, or kiss you again.”

Jeongguk’s word make Taehyung shiver. He’s stayed up thinking about the exact same things, but he’s sure Jeongguk knows that by now.

“I think we’re meant to be,” Taehyung replies, getting a bit closer. As if it was instinct, as soon as he gets closer Jeongguk’s hand goes to his hip. Taehyung curls his arm around his shoulder. “Can you feel it, too?”

“Feel what?” Jeongguk asks, sounding a little confused.

“The electricity,” Taehyung says, staring into Jeongguk’s eyes. “Every time we touch.”

Jeongguk laughs, coming out deeper than Taehyung has ever heard it. “I guess we are electric together, then,” he says, giving Taehyung’s hip a squeeze.

“Electric together,” Taehyung repeats. “I like the sound of that.”

Jeongguk leans in closer then, and Taehyung feels three months of anticipation build up in his stomach. Three months of missing him. Three months of pain, three months of hurting, three months of longing.

There is a glimpse of shyness in the way Jeongguk licks his lips and timidly looks at Taehyung then. His eyes are wide and shiny, lips pink as his tongue darts over them to wet them. It’s almost as if he were asking for permission, and Taehyung gives it to him in the way of an almost imperceptible nod.

The kiss they share then tastes like redemption. Redemption for all those months, and for all the feelings of doubt and heartbreak he’s felt during them. Jeongguk’s taste is spicy and sweet, so sweet, a hint of the wine they had for dinner still on his lips. Taehyung can’t get enough of it as Jeongguk lets go of his hand, cupping his neck instead.

God, how he missed the feeling of Jeongguk’s lips under his. Jeongguk has always kissed him with his heart on his sleeve, using his mouth to tell him through kisses everything that he didn’t dare say out loud. And Taehyung takes, takes, takes—he takes all the I love yous and all the I miss yous. He lets Jeongguk make him feel like he’s the most special boy on the planet as he kisses him deep, making up for all the time they’ve lost.

“I love you,” Taehyung says, pulling away a little to whisper the words against Jeongguk’s eager lips. “I love you so, so fucking much.”

It feels good to finally be able to say it out loud, to let Jeongguk know that he loves him. This moment is what he has been running away from for months. And now he realizes that it wasn’t that scary.

“Mine,” Jeongguk says then, punctuated by a kiss. “Mine to kiss, mine to hold.”

“Yours to love,” Taehyung adds.

“Mine to love,” Jeongguk repeats. “I love you, Taehyung.”

Jeongguk doesn’t seem to know, but Taehyung has been his for a long time. He made him his the moment he came into his life, all bright eyes and perfect manners. Taehyung has been hooked all along, head over heels for the young rich man that hired his services because he had told his friends a little white lie.

They kiss again, months of urgency behind it. Taehyung’s free hand holds tightly onto Jeongguk’s arm. He just needs to touch and to be touched—he needs Jeongguk, he’s needed him for so long.

The wine and the glasses are forgotten on top of the coffee table as Jeongguk presses Taehyung back against a wall, caging him with his body. Taehyung smiles at him, lolling his head back against the wall. Jeongguk smiles back at him, right before leaning forward for a kiss.

“Oh, Jeongguk,” Taehyung utters, halfway into a sigh and a moan. Jeongguk’s lips are attached to his neck, kissing him and making Taehyung dig his fingernails into his back through his clothes.

He tugs Jeongguk by his hair, pulling him close again and catching his lips into another kiss. Jeongguk lets out a pleasured noise in Taehyung’s mouth at the same time he picks him up by his thighs. Almost out of instinct, Taehyung’s legs curl around Jeongguk’s thin waist.

“Bedroom?” Jeongguk asks, words muffled against Taehyung’s lips.

Taehyung nods. “Bedroom,” he confirms. “Come on.”

Jeongguk starts walking towards the bedroom then, stopping with Taehyung’s back against the door so he can kiss him once again. Taehyung welcomes it, letting Jeongguk kiss him deep and slow.

He feels his whole body heat up with each minute, as well as his grip around Jeongguk’s waist tighten. His hands are now tangled in Jeongguk’s hair, keeping his mouth on his because he needs more, more, more. He needs everything.

He’s getting hard, too. It’s hard to ignore it as Jeongguk’s mouth starts wandering down the column of his throat again, leaving harsh kisses that Taehyung knows are bound to leave marks. He groans, bucking his hips as much as Jeongguk’s body pressed against him and the wall behind allow him.

How could he not miss this, all of this? How intoxicated in Jeongguk’s kisses he feels, the way his body presses up against his, the way he’s holding his thighs tightly. It all makes Taehyung melt right there and then, head thrown back so Jeongguk can kiss him more, pleasured sounds falling from his lips.

Jeongguk finally opens the door then, the sound of it clicking open making Taehyung shiver in anticipation. Jeongguk steps into the room then, walking towards the bedroom and dropping Taehyung onto the mattress. The look he gives him then is enough to make Taehyung blush later on when he replays tonight in his head—so intense, so charged with want.

“Come back here,” Taehyung says, parting his thighs so Jeongguk can kneel between them, crawling on top of him. “Fuck, Gukkie.”

Everything seems more meaningful in the intimacy of Jeongguk’s bedroom. They kiss again, wandering hands reacquainting themselves with the parts of each other’s bodies that they have missed the most. Taehyung can’t help but yelp when Jeongguk flips them around and gives his ass a squeeze. Jeongguk can’t help but moan when Taehyung starts kissing his clavicle.  

“Take this off,” Jeongguk says, hands slipping under Taehyung’s dress shirt and touching his bare skin. “Please.”

Taehyung kneels up, taking his shirt off quickly before looking down at Jeongguk, lying on the bed for him. The lamps in the bedroom are off, but the city is bright enough around them for Taehyung to see Jeongguk clearly. The city lights illuminate Jeongguk, making him look more gorgeous than ever.

Taehyung leans down, slowly. He reaches down and starts undoing Jeongguk’s button down. There is no rush—they have all night. Taehyung takes his sweet time with each button, revelling in every patch of Jeongguk’s skin that is exposed to him.

Their breaths mingle together, and Taehyung knows Jeongguk wants a kiss. He doesn’t give it to him, though—instead, once the shirt is open, he peels the fabric off Jeongguk’s shoulder, letting his hands wander down his soft skin.

Slowly, Taehyung starts kissing down Jeongguk’s body. With his mouth, he leaves a trail of reddish marks that go from Jeongguk’s shoulder to under his belly button. It leaves Jeongguk writhing under him, body shaking with soft cries of Tae and so good.

Without saying a word, Taehyung reaches for Jeongguk’s waistband and undoes the button of his jeans, pulling his zipper down right after. Jeongguk’s eyes are on him, following his every move. Staring as he slowly starts to pull Jeongguk’s jeans off his legs.

He has missed this, too. He has missed the way Jeongguk just lies back and lets him do to him whatever he wants. He’s missed the way he looks at him like he has hanged the moon in the sky. They don’t need any words to be spoken between the two of them—Taehyung can feel it in the way Jeongguk just looks at him.

Keep going.

And so, he does. He gets rid of the jeans and makes himself comfortable between Jeongguk’s thighs, now letting himself rejoice in the sight of Jeongguk’s erection trapped in his underwear. He’s hard already, even if they have barely done anything other than kissing. Taehyung traps his lower lip between his teeth before reaching and touching, lightly.

“Ah, fuck,” Jeongguk says, voice hushed. Taehyung looks up at him, smiling mischievously. Jeongguk has always been sensitive, he knows that. “Touch me, Tae.”

“But I’m touching you,” Taehyung says, lightly dragging his finger up Jeongguk’s cock—from the base to the head, making him inhale sharply and he gets there.

“Touch me better,” Jeongguk pleads.

“So hot, Jeonggukie,” Taehyung says, taking that as his cue to slip his hand under Jeongguk’s underwear. Jeongguk gasps as Taehyung’s big palm curls around his cock. “So fucking hot.”

Taehyung jerks Jeongguk off like that, slowly and without even bothering to undress him completely. At some point he leans forward and starts kissing Jeongguk, swallowing down all of his noises and words. The kiss turns more heated, a bit messier and deeper, and Taehyung feels his hand speed up around Jeongguk at the same time their lips do.

There is nothing more intimate than seeing one’s lover come undone slowly, their breathing turn into pants and their words turn into gasps. Taehyung rests his forehead against Jeongguk’s, shushing and pecking him whenever he gets loud. Quiet, Taehyung wants it quiet. He wants no one to be able to hear what’s about to happen in this room—it’s something meant only for the two of them.

“T-tae, let me—” Jeongguk starts, his words interrupted by his own sighs when Taehyung flicks his wrist in the way he knows Jeongguk likes. “Let me take care of you. Please.”

Taehyung nods, letting go of Jeongguk’s cock and sitting back on the bed. With a palm on his chest, Jeongguk makes Taehyung lie on his back, covering his body with his own as he hovers over him.

“Just as pretty as I remember,” Jeongguk says, pressing a kiss to the corner of Taehyung’s mouth. “Beautiful.”

Taehyung can’t swallow down small noises as Jeongguk presses kisses all over his body, nor can he stay quiet when he gets rid of his slacks just so he can kiss his thighs. By the time Jeongguk has some mercy on him and decides to take the underwear off as well, Taehyung is fully hard, and on the front of his briefs there is a big wet patch.

Everything feels heightened. Jeongguk has fingered him tons before, but by the time his lube-coated fingers slide into him this time around, there is something special to it. He feels more sensitive, like the lightest touch can turn him into a mess. He feels drunk at the feeling, babbling as Jeongguk’s digits slide in and out of him.

“I want you inside of me so badly,” Taehyung manages to get out. Three fingers thrusting right into his ass are good, but not enough. He wants all of it—he wants Jeongguk’s cock inside him. He wants Jeongguk to fuck him. He wants to make love. “Fuck, Gukkie.”

“Okay, baby,” Jeongguk says. He presses a kiss to the side of Taehyung’s knee, and Taehyung feels like he’s going to die because of how in love he is. Does he need to say he has missed Jeongguk’s gentlest touches? “Let me get a condom.”

A condom, a condom. Taehyung nods, watching Jeongguk move to his bedside table and get a condom wrapper out of it. He takes his underwear off, and then he’s soon back between Taehyung’s spread legs, clumsily opening the condom and placing it on his cock.

Taehyung looks at him, feeling full of lust and a burning feeling he’s never felt before. Maybe that’s what passion feels like, Taehyung wonders.

He’s fucked a lot, but he’s never made love. He wants Jeongguk to be his first time ever making love.

“Are you ready, Tae?” he asks. Taehyung nods, trying hard not to tense at the feeling of the head of Jeongguk’s cock pressing against him. “I’m gonna push in.”

As cliché as it sounds, as soon as Jeongguk gets inside of him, Taehyung feels like he’s home. His mouth falls open into a silent moan as Jeongguk slowly but surely pushes his whole cock inside of him. He feels so perfectly delicious around Taehyung’s walls, the drag driving him mad.

Jeongguk shushes him, pressing kisses on the joint of his neck and shoulder as he gives Taehyung time to adjust to his size. He clenches around Jeongguk tentatively, making him whimper softly.

“Move,” Taehyung says, Jeongguk pulling back a little so he can look at him straight in the eye. Something about it makes Taehyung’s face feel even hotter. “Move, baby.”

The pace of Jeongguk’s hips starts off slow, almost torturously so. Taehyung holds his breath when he starts moving out, only releasing once Jeongguk thrusts back into him again. He grips the bed sheets tightly at each side of his hips, toes curling at the feeling.

He can’t look away from Jeongguk’s eyes that are boring into his. Taehyung swallows thickly, because somehow the eye contact makes everything seem far more intense. The feeling of Jeongguk in him, the closeness, the love. Everything is multiplied by a thousand.

At some point, Jeongguk’s hand find his. Taehyung takes Jeongguk’s palms against his own and intertwines their fingers together, placing them next to his head on the mattress. Close, so close. They’re so close, and Taehyung can’t get enough of it.

“Deeper,” he demands, his legs tightening around Jeongguk’s waist, as to reinforce his petition. “Gukkie, please.”

It’s impossible to put down into words what goes through his mind at this moment. He feels euphoric, he feels ecstatic; he feels pure, never-ending happiness pumping through his veins. Jeongguk’s hand tightens his hold around his own, squeezing his fingers on his.

“So tight and perfect,” Jeongguk says, his voice hushed. “You’re so perfect, Taehyung. God.”

Taehyung moans at that, his eye momentarily closing. He loves it when Jeongguk whispers sweet nothings to him. Jeongguk’s voice is like honey to his ears; he always knows the right thing to say to make Taehyung melt, to get him closer and closer to the edge, even if they’ve just begun.

Eventually, Jeongguk’s hips speed up. He picks up a new pace, quicker in his thrusts. It only makes Taehyung tighten his legs around Jeongguk, the stimulation making it hard for him to stay quiet. Jeongguk ducks his head down then, pulling Taehyung into a wet, messy kiss.

Taehyung loves the feeling of Jeongguk’s tongue curling around his, loves the heat of his mouth against his. He lets out a deep, needy sound in Jeongguk’s mouth when one of his thrusts hits him right where Taehyung needs him most, the hand Jeongguk isn’t holding going to Jeongguk’s shoulder.

“G-God, Jeongguk,” Taehyung says, head lolling back against the mattress. He feels his eyes roll back as Jeongguk thrusts into the same spot again. “More.”

It’s beyond physical. It’s not just that Jeongguk is fucking him exactly how he wants to be fucked, that he’s touching him in all the right places and pushing all of his buttons. That might be true, but it’s more than that. It’s the way that with Jeongguk, he feels so loved and so taken care of. It’s in the way that just one look from Jeongguk can make him shiver in ways that no one else can make him shiver. It’s the amount of love, the amount of passion that is there in every single one of his touches.

He feels choked up. There is so much he wants to say, so much he wants to tell Jeongguk, but nothing comes out. Jeongguk’s hand goes down to his hip and gives it a squeeze.

“I love you,” Jeongguk says, words falling from his lips and into the dips of Taehyung’s collarbone.

Taehyung’s eyes close, feeling Jeongguk pepper biting kisses on his chest. “I love you,” he says back. “Love you so, so much. Oh—fuck, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk’s hips falter, their rhythm becoming erratic. Taehyung didn’t mean to, but he can’t help but dig his fingernails into Jeongguk’s back and scratch down it, very probably leaving red, angry marks.

“So close,” he mutters, feeling his orgasm build up inside of him. “I—fuck, keep going.”

Jeongguk’s hand tightens its hold around Taehyung’s hip, then. There is a thin layer of sweat covering both of them, and only now does Taehyung start being aware of the slight slap of skin that can be heard in the room every time Jeongguk fucks into him. That, added to the low moans that Jeongguk can’t seem to hold back anymore, make Taehyung feel like this is the hottest moment of his entire life.

It’s then that Jeongguk lets go of his hip, but his hand doesn’t move too far away. The moment his slim fingers curl around Taehyung’s cock, Taehyung can’t hold back a deep sigh. Jeongguk doesn’t give him a break, as he starts stroking him right away, with fast and chaotic movements.

Their bodies still know each other as well as they did before, as if all those months apart had never happened. Jeongguk’s hand works him towards orgasm hard and fast, and Taehyung’s hips buck into Jeongguk’s fist, chasing his own climax. When Jeongguk leans down and starts kissing a mark right under Taehyung’s ear, his lips and teeth working on his skin, Taehyung knows he’s a goner.

And so, he comes like that. With Jeongguk fucking into him as he jerks him off, his mouth sucking a hickey on his skin. Taehyung lets out a moan, this one louder than the previous ones, as he arches his back off the bed. His legs are still wrapped around Jeongguk’s body, and they squeeze him tighter as his toes curl.

Jeongguk lets out a deep, choked noise, probably a product of Taehyung clenching around him. Still, he doesn’t stop fucking Taehyung, now erratically, in a desperate chase for his own orgasm.

In sync as they are, it doesn’t take Jeongguk long to come. When he comes, he does so with both hands gripping Taehyung’s thighs tight, spilling inside the condom with a choked out noise he muffled against Taehyung’s neck. He collapses on top of Taehyung, who lets out a giggle and wraps his arms around his neck, kissing Jeongguk’s cheek lightly.

It takes a moment for both of them to catch their breaths, pants filling the room until they’ve recovered. Jeongguk nuzzles his head against Taehyung’s cheek, before looking up and puckering his lips at Taehyung, silently asking for a kiss.

Taehyung smiles, but leans forward and does indeed give Jeongguk a kiss. He had intended for it to be just a short peck, but Jeongguk moves his hand and cups the back of Taehyung’s head, holding him in place. It turns into a long, lazy kiss. Jeongguk’s lips move against Taehyung’s slowly, but so perfectly.

“Hello there,” Jeongguk says, pulling back a little to look at Taehyung.

Taehyung takes into the way he looks. He’s still lying all over him, neck arched so they can look at each other without going cross-eyed because of how close they are. Jeongguk looks, unsurprisingly, like he’s just had some good sex. The disheveled hair, the rosy cheeks, the sweaty forehead, the bright eyes and playful grin with red lips, courtesy of Taehyung.

If Taehyung had any difficulty to understand love and the way it works before, those doubts are surely gone now. Not only because the way Jeongguk looks is deserving of being worshipped, no. It also has a lot to do with the way his presence makes Taehyung feel. So safe. So at home.

“Hello there,” Taehyung greets back. “You look like you’ve just had a good time.”

Jeongguk laughs, hiding his face in Taehyung’s chest before looking at him again. “I did, indeed,” he says, cheeky. “You look like you’ve been fucked good.”

“Big head,” Taehyung says, smiling.

“But you know I’m right,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung just rolls his eyes, fondly. “Should I go get something to clean us both up, then?”

Jeongguk gestures to both their abdomens, covered in Taehyung’s come. In addition to that, Taehyung’s thighs and ass are full of lube, so something to clean himself with sounds pretty ideal.

“Go, then,” Taehyung says. Jeongguk nods, holding the condom at the base before he starts to pull off. “By the way, Jeongguk…”

“Yeah?” Jeongguk asks, getting rid of the condom. He looks at Taehyung, who is biting on his bottom lip, and then in a somewhat panicked voice he asks, “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, yes, it is, baby,” Taehyung says. “It’s just… I was wondering what’s going to happen now, you know? Between you and me.”

Jeongguk, who has already thrown the condom away in the bin, postpones getting that something to clean them up with and sits back on the edge of the bed, looking at Taehyung. This is a chat they should have at some point, and Taehyung doesn’t want to delay it any longer.

“Well, that depends,” Jeongguk asks. “What do you want to happen, Taehyung?”

Taehyung would be lying if he said he hasn’t been thinking about it. For as long as Jeongguk and he started talking again, he has been somehow looking forward to this conversation. He didn’t want to jump straight into it, which makes him be grateful that Jeongguk didn’t try to get them into a relationship as soon as he found out Taehyung had quit. But… well, this is what he was waiting for, if he’s honest.

“I think…” he starts, forcing himself to look at Jeongguk right in the eye. And as always, Jeongguk is already looking. “I think we’ve both waited long enough, Jeongguk. At least, I know that I have.”

Eight months since he met Jeongguk. In that time, not only has he gone through all sorts of different feelings because of him, but also with him. Taehyung has learned a lot about Jeongguk. He knows how to read his silences, his smiles, his looks, his touches… Something that at first seemed so impossible to him, cracking Jeongguk’s code. He can now proudly say that he’s learned how to.

Jeongguk is looking at him without uttering a word, but Taehyung can see the agreement in his eyes. He reaches forward, takes Jeongguk’s hand in his own, and waits until he’s ready to speak.

“I think we both have, yeah,” Jeongguk says, eventually. Taehyung smiles at him, softly. “Taehyung… I want to be with you. I want to be in a relationship with you.”

Taehyung’s heart skips a beat. He’s imagined this scenario and similar ones plenty of times in his head. Maybe in those both of them weren’t naked and with their bellies covered in come, but Taehyung wouldn’t have it any other way. This is real, this is actually happening. And Taehyung wouldn’t change one single thing about it.

“I want that, too,” he replies. “I want to be your boyfriend.”

Jeongguk’s mouth splits into a smile, one so warm that makes Taehyung feel like he’s floating. “Then, Taehyung,” he starts, “be my boyfriend. I’m begging you.”

Taehyung laughs, surging forward and curling his arms around Jeongguk’s neck as he gives him a kiss. Jeongguk kisses him back, his hands gently settling on Taehyung’s waist, caressing the skin softly.

“Yes,” Taehyung says, pecking Jeongguk. “Yes, yes, yes. I love you.”

“I love you, baby,” Jeongguk says. “So much.”

It’s not, by far, the first time Jeongguk has told him, but it still feels like it is, judging by the way it makes Taehyung feel giddy and like he is the luckiest boy in the world. He loves Jeongguk, and he loves this feeling he gets when he’s with him.

This, Taehyung thinks, is a good thing. A good thing he’s not going to let go of.

 

It’s been a couple weeks since Taehyung started working, and in that time, he must say he’s quite happy with how far he’s come. He knows that part of the reason why he’s gotten the number of clients he’s gotten in so little time is because of the connections he has. Even if he has asked them not to, he is aware that Jeongguk, Namjoon and the rest of his friends have been slipping his name in during conversations, helping him out a little bit.

He does want to do this on his own, of course. But he’s also smart when it comes to business, and he knows that a little recommendation is not going to take away from his hard work.

It’s on a Tuesday morning while he’s picking some wallpaper out for a family’s newborn’s bedroom that the phone rings. He answers it, asking, “KTH Interiors. How may I help you?”

“Am I talking to Kim Taehyung?” a man asks. He sounds… old-ish, Taehyung would say. Old enough to be his father.

“That would be me, yes,” Taehyung says, amused that the man thinks he can afford to have any employees.

“My name is Jeongsoo,” the man says. The moment he hears that name, his eyes widen. Isn’t that…? “I am calling from Jeon & Associates. From what I’ve heard, I’m calling my son-in-law. Is that correct?”

Taehyung is going to kill Jeongguk.

“Yes, sir,” Taehyung says, feeling a little nervous. “That’s me.”

“It’s very lovely to meet you, then. I wish we could have arranged something to meet in person, but unfortunately I am running on a tight schedule lately. I’ll talk to Jeongguk about it, though,” the man carries on.

“I understand. I also wish we could have met in person before, yeah,” Taehyung says, agreeing with him.

He wishes that, or that Jeongguk had given him a heads up. He can’t just make his father phone Taehyung like this without a warning. Taehyung’s poor heart can’t take it.

“Despite my wish to finally meet the infamous Taehyung, introductions are not the reason why I called,” he adds. The infamous Taehyung. To say Taehyung blushed would be an understatement. “My son has told me you’ve recently opened an interiors design business.”

“That is correct, yes,” Taehyung says, swallowing down.

“I have been thinking of redecorating a few of the offices in the company. The older ones, that are now looking old-fashioned,” he comments. Taehyung makes a noise in agreement. “It’s a total of three. I was hoping you could come around some afternoon, so we could discuss the details.”

“Absolutely, yes,” Taehyung says. “My schedule is quite flexible, so I could make time whenever it was convenient for you.”

“How about today, then? At five,” he says. God, Taehyung sees so much of Jeongguk in his father.

“That works perfectly,” Taehyung says, writing it down. As if he could forget.

“Fantastic, then,” Jeongsoo says. “I’ll see you then. I really look forward to meeting you, son.”

Taehyung can’t hold back a smile. “Likewise, sir,” he says. “I’ll be there this afternoon, at five.”

They give their farewells before hanging up, and then Taehyung sighs and rubs his eyes. That was stressful.

Immediately after, he calls Jeongguk’s phone. His boyfriend picks up right away.

You,” Taehyung says, accusatory.

“Me,” Jeongguk says. “Have I done something?”

“You tell me,” Taehyung says, huffing. “I’ve just gotten a call from your father.”

“Oh, he called already?” Jeongguk asks, voice amused. So he did know. “My old man is fast, damn.”

“Jeongguk!” Taehyung says. “You better have a good explanation as to why you didn’t warn me before your father was going to call me. And it better be perfectly reasonable, or you’re getting your—”

“No threats during working hours, please,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung fondly rolls his eyes. “I have an explanation, although I don’t think it will be good enough. I can try to persuade you tonight during dinner, though.”

Taehyung raises his eyebrows. Jeongguk is trying to charm his way out of this one, but Taehyung is not too opposed to the idea.

“Fine,” he says. He can practically hear Jeongguk smile through the phone. “But you cook.”

Jeongguk laughs, almost as if he saw that coming. “You know it, baby.”

 

 

Taehyung wakes up to the more than annoying sound of his alarm clock. Waking up early is definitely something he didn’t miss, but he’s doing better with it than he thought he would.

He gives himself a couple more minutes in bed, reaching for his phone and unplugging it. The whole house smells like coffee, and a quick feel to the other side of the bed tells him Jeongguk has been awake for a while now.

He stayed over at Jeongguk’s after dinner last night. Sleeping in the bed with Jeongguk was too tempting of an offer to decline.

When he unlocks his phone, the first thing he does is check his emails. He has emails from clients, providers, and one from Jeongguk’s father. He’ll check them out once he’s in the office, he swears. Right now, his brain is too sleepy to do anything useful with it.

He gets out of bed, grabbing the first shirt he finds on the bedroom floor before he starts walking towards the kitchen. He has a lot of emails to go through, yes, but it’s way more rewarding to read over those than to read over Adultwork notifications and messages, no doubt about that.

When he gets to the kitchen, he finds Jeongguk with his back to him pouring himself a cup of coffee. He’s already showered and dressed for the day, always so efficient. Taehyung comes back from behind him, kissing him on the cheek lightly.

“Good morning,” he says, voice raspy.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Jeongguk says, giving him a smile. Taehyung sticks his tongue at him. “I’d offer you some coffee but I don’t think you’d fancy that.”

“I’ll make toast in a minute,” Taehyung says. “I need my morning cigarette first, though. Fancy one?”

Jeongguk smiles, nodding. That’s how their morning goes—they smoke a cigarette together, perched on Jeongguk’s window, and then make breakfast together. Lots of kisses are exchanged before Taehyung has to finally let Jeongguk go, before he gets in the shower and gets ready for his own day.

He leaves for work later, locking Jeongguk’s door with his own set of keys Jeongguk gave him just one week ago. This is his new life. A life he’s fought hard for, and a life he’s more than happy with.