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a cranberry-limeade float (are you sure you want that?)

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“No.”

Taehyung gives a genuine gasp of surprise at the immediacy of Yoongi’s dismissal of his most basic human needs.

“What do you mean ‘no’?” Taehyung indignantly squawks out at Yoongi from his perch on the kitchen counter. If he angles his foot just right he could land a solid kick at Yoongi’s fashion sweats covered ass. Yoongi slams the fridge shut after taking out his leftovers from Jin’s last Big Family Dinner (“You don’t have to give m-“ “I know for a damn fact Yoongi Min that all you have in your fridge is beer and a hot dog, take the food.”)

“You heard me. I’m not taking your sorry ass to Sonic just so you can get a single corndog.”

Yoongi Min knows this game. He’s known this game since he was a humble undergrad trying to pass his gen eds and cramming as much time as he could in the school’s recording space. Taehyung comes whining to him about his terrible, awful, no-good, very bad day demanding sympathy in the form of a trip to the Sonic drive-thru. Yoongi will deny his pleas and then Taehyung will dramatically throw himself on the floor, hardwood or carpeted it truly does not matter.

Yoongi will then ignore him, quickly tapping out lyrics (yes, he has numerous songs written lamenting the fact he was Taehyung’s favorite hyung) on his computer or pointedly flipping the pages of his music theory textbook in Taehyung’s general direction. And then Taehyung will huff, roll over onto his back as if it were a Sisyphean task, call Jimin and whine: “Jiminie, Yoongi is being mean to me… yes again… yes, I asked nicely… yes, I had a really really bad day like the worst fucking day ever it’s been horrible and miserable…”

And at that point, when Taehyung starts getting his lower lip to wobble just right, Yoongi will succumb. And he will snap his laptop or book shut and tell Taehyung to gather up his shit.

He knows this game and he plays this game and Taehyung plays him like a fiddle every damn time.

“Please, hyung. A kid threw tempera paint at me and the teacher I’m working under nearly sliced my finger off with the paper cutter and then a person puked on the bus back to my apartment and my practicum is coming along like shit and, fuck, I’m never gonna be a teacher.” Taehyung picks at the paint still stuck in his cuticles.

Yoongi sighs, letting his head fall back in frustration, mint bangs akimbo. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Taehyung sniff and swipe away tear threatening to fall. Aw shit, for once he’s not being completely over dramatic.

He knows Taehyung’s been busting his ass for this. Going through four years of art school, with his parents convinced he’d never amount to anything, wasn’t easy by any means. He could’ve done the big ol’ Fuck You to his parents, but decided to pursue a Master’s in education even after the countless badgering from Yoongi, Jin, and Namjoon concerned if he was making the right decision.

Yoongi knows the stress first hand when it comes to grad school. Unlike Taehyung he mostly doesn’t know how to take care of himself and is stubborn as all hell. But he’s put up such a fuss in the past that Namjoon and Jin staged an intervention which involved a chair, rope that he didn’t want to know where it came from, a single swinging light bulb, and Jin forcing chicken nuggets into his maw one at a time to punctuate his screams of “COFFEE DOESN’T COUNT AS A MEAL.”

Some days he can’t decide if Namjoon and Jin are his overbearing but well-meaning parents or his best friends. Depends on the day truly. Or if he’s working on a time crunch. Or if he’s gone MIA for more than 12 hours not responding to the group chat because of said time crunch.

Taehyung startles at Yoongi moving to put his leftover’s back in the fridge.

“Hey, no it’s okay. If you really don’t wanna go we don’t have to go and I know your car’s been acting up recently it’s no big, I can just go make a corndog at my place I’m pretty sure I still have some in the freezer.”

Yoongi tugs at Taehyung’s big toe through his terrible Naruto socks, the ones that stretch Sasuke’s face till he looks like a horrible Snapchat filter, “We’re gonna go because I can’t trust you with your own oven after last time and I know Jimin’s not home right now and that means 75% of your impulse control is gone.”

He swats at Taehyung’s knee, “C’mon, get up. I don’t have all day.”

It’s already 11 at night but Taehyung’s crying and Taehyung doesn't really cry. A crying Taehyung means he’s actually hurt. But that is taking into consider Taehyung's definition of legitimate emotional distress. There was the time Jimin and Yoongi couldn’t figure out if he was crying because Oreo the fish died or because he sliced his hand open with an x-acto knife so badly he needed stitches. Which happened all in the same day.

Taehyung grips at Yoongi’s over-sized Anti Social Social Club hoodie and tugs at his arm, swinging it gently.

“You’re the best and I don’t tell you that often enough,” he says softly. He moves to wipe at another tear and tugs at his bottom lip with his teeth.

“Yeah, yeah. I know,” Yoongi gives him a little smile, small yet still full of warmth.

——

There’s an odd comfort in the Sonic drive-thru at 11pm.

Maybe it’s the manufactured Americana and buzzing neon-lights or something. Yeah, the menu has too many fucking items on it in the tiniest fucking font on god’s green earth. And yeah, all of them have terrible eyesight and it has Namjoon yelling “I’m gay and I’m sometimes illiterate and they expect me to read? It’s like I’m trying to read Finnegan’s Wake or some shit.” Or maybe it’s that the wait is so damn long that they get through Jeongguk’s “it’s been fifteen minutes and i still don’t have my goddamn ocean water pt. 6” playlist in its entirety.

In the summer, the crickets chirp and the windows in Yoongi’s shit garbage Hyundai are rolled down all the way. Well, cranked down all the way. In the winter, they huddle closer to the heater that only works sometimes and Yoongi’s slapping at Jimin’s hands because he didn’t wear gloves again.

Everyone’s order has been the same since the first Sonic run when it opened, finally, five minutes away from campus.

Taehyung gets a corndog and a Rt 44 sized ocean water (and he always leans across Yoongi, using the steering wheel to prop himself up, and he goes “YEAH, can I get UUUUUUUUUUUH” into the speaker). Jin scolds him for gulping it down in fifteen minutes and says that he needs to stop trying to see if it’ll turn his pee blue.

Namjoon orders a New York style hot dog and a chunk of sauerkraut gets on the backseat without fail. And a god awful cranberry-limeade float that has the worker always asking “…… Are you sure you want that?”

Jin is a pain in the ass really and gets a special limited-time nonsense where they always get one thing wrong and Jin tuts and complains for a minute and wolfs it down anyway.

Jimin. Well Jimin is boring and gets a chicken sandwich and lemonade which he damn well knows is better at Chik-Fil-A. But there was the time when Namjoon went off about how it’s internalized homophobia if they go there for twenty minutes on the floor of his and Yoongi’s apartment after one particularly trying evening involving a handle of bad whiskey and Holly shitting on the good rug. So they don’t go to Chik-Fil-A anymore.

Jeongguk is a literal child and orders a children’s meal every time because “it’s variety and it’s value and I’m sorry you’re too old to get it, assholes.”

And well, Yoongi rattles everyone’s order off like it’s a soliloquy or poetic list or something like that and forgets to get anything for himself.

They know it’s weird that Sonic is a tradition when they could be regulars at some lounge that has a bomb happy hour selection like normal twenty-somethings pretending to have their shit together. Because nothing says having your shit together more than ordering a pretentious cocktail made with like lavender infused gin and rose bitters and pretending that your credit card may or may not get declined when you’re properly drunk at 4pm.

But it’s theirs and there’s an odd comfort to a Sonic drive-thru at 11pm. A weird limbo where tater tots might solve every problem going on in their lives.

——

namjoonie [11:47]
you’re a traitor

me [11:50]
what do you mean

namjoonie [11:51]
you went to sonic without us

me [11:55]
i didn’t realize it was supposed to be a whole Thing
listen tae had a shit day and he was crying on the kitchen counter
he wobbled his lip and everything
damn kid knows how to play me

namjoonie [11:56]
you get a pass
but you’re on thin ice
i’ll sic jin on you next time

me [12:01]
oh no i’m so scared
i’m shaking in my boots

namjoonie [12:03]
yeah your chelseas you haven’t replaced in two years

me [12:05]
bye i’m going to bed and i’m bolting the door
i don’t need this right now
my poor wallet has been sucked dry by the disgusting amount of ocean water tae consumes

namjoonie [12:08]
oh my god
you’re coming out with us tonight btw

me [12:11]
what
no
why
i’m tired

namjoonie [12:13]
jeongguk and jimin apparently found a place that does $4 old fashioneds and plays pop punk on friday nights
and has actual food
guk is very excited

me [12:15]
are we talking sum 41 or like all time low
i hate that i know the eras
jeongguk isn’t allowed to touch my aux cord ever again

namjoonie [12:21]
lmaoooo
i have no idea
thing 1 and thing 2 also want us to meet someone

me [12:23]
uch
fine
i expect first round on you

namjoonie [12:25]
of course

——

Yoongi Min does not startle easily. Jump-scares in movies, sure. Namjoon accidentally slamming a pot too hard on the stove while he’s wired in working on his laptop, totally fine.

This time, though, he was taken aback by the presence of two bodies plopping down on the long bench of the pretentious coffee place they all frequent, bracketing his body and both pressed up to the entire length of him.

Yoongi jolts and throws his headphones onto his keyboard with a clatter.

“What the actual fuck you two,” Yoongi spits out, only kind of seething.

“Oh hello there our favorite workaholic grad student, we see that you’ve been ignoring your phone and also meals for the past three hours,” says Thing 1, Taehyung, thunking a fresh coffee, black thankfully, on the coaster provided atop the stupidly thick non-laminated wood table that the shop tried so hard to fit into a “minimalist, Scandinavian style.” They claim to sand the tables every week, but that sounds incredibly fake.

“We miss you. But more importantly, we have someone for you to meet tonight,” adds Thing 2, Jimin, who plops down the cinnamon banana muffin with bourbon caramel swirl on top that Yoongi rarely indulges in unless desperate times call for desperate measures.

Oh, they’re playing the game very well today.

“Hmm, so now it’s just me who is supposed to be meeting this new person. I thought we were all meeting a new person,” Yoongi drawls out. “So this is the thanks I get for buying your sorry ass Sonic last night.”

“Yes, but yet again, you love us and I greatly appreciate your humble offerings in this trying time. Thank you, Oh Benevolent One. Back to the topic at hand. New person. Get ready.”

And as quickly as they arrived, they poofed out of the coffee shop as Yoongi grovels, picking at the muffin getting crumbs all over his keyboard like some kind of gremlin.

A new person, huh. They haven’t adopted anyone into The Group since Jin brought a timid and shy baby Jeongguk fresh out of first year orientation to his and Namjoon’s apartment. He had a skinned knee, the product of falling off his skateboard on the main drag of campus, clearly visible through the knee holes in his black skinny jeans. Jin happened to be his knight in shining armor with a key to their apartment and a first-aid kit he had once pointedly stowed in the medicine cabinet. The rest, as they say, was history.

Yoongi took a swig at his newly gifted coffee and immediately burned his tongue.

Great, okay, splendid. This, he guesses, sets the tone for the entire rest of his day. Tonight was going to be a disaster.

——

“A little birdie told me that Namjoon actually convinced you to go out with The Group tonight. And that they’re trying to get you to meet someone new.”

“Why are you in my studio, Seulgi.”

Seulgi is all cat eyes and glossy pin-straight hair, so sharp-tongued she puts Yoongi to shame. She's the most dangerous lesbian he knows of. But she’s a kindred spirit. Workaholic and achingly soft and caring underneath the veneer of her art heaux-ness.

The last time he saw Seulgi, she was also in his studio pestering him about coming over to her and Joohyun’s apartment for beer and a cathartic bitching session about the pains of grad school. He went.

“You are the most useless gay we know, we just want to help,” was their excuse as they made him drink some craft beer nonsense and do sheet masks with them.

They got drunk and heckled him about his shit love life which ended up with Seulgi reading his tarot cards with her deck that Jeongguk had lovingly helped her craft, all watercolors and collage.

(Once upon a time, Jeongguk had an embarrassing crush on Seulgi until he realized she was a lesbian and he was too bisexual to function, distracted constantly by the cool upperclassmen art boys in their leather jackets and slouchy beanies. Seulgi coos and coddles him and claims him as her favorite gay these days.)

To be quite honest, Yoongi found it touching. He huffed every time but secretly loved that they cared enough to bother doing it. It’s silly, but it’s how they show they care.

Late at night, in the comfort of his bed under his three duvets he’ll tap out verses based on the cards they pull in a note on his phone, one day dedicating a song to the vaguely witchy and vaguely threatening but well-intended lesbians in his life. The truest gay/lesbian solidarity.

Joohyun lit approximately twenty-five candles that night and insisted on setting intentions to the full moon. Sailor Moon was playing faintly in the background. It was all very appropriate.

“In the name of the moon, please give Yoongi strength to become a little less useless and give him some nice boy that listens to Soundcloud rappers and appreciates the value in a decent pair of shoes,” declared Joohyun grasping Yoongi’s hands and pressed a piece of rose quartz between their hands. She had her head tilted back, eyes closed and Yoongi hummed to placate her.

“Maybe possibly has abs. So they can be useless gays together. Fighting the evils of capitalism by moonlight, winning Yoongi’s love by daylight, amen,” Seulgi chimed in, Yoongi’s hand in one hand and Joohyun’s in the other wiggling their arms back and forth. She had told him once that it kept the good vibes flowing. Sometimes, Yoongi actually believed her.

Seulgi takes a loud sip from her iced vanilla latte.

“Because you love me and you’d be lost without me.”

“Also why is everyone so concerned with us meeting this new person tonight? You’re the fourth person to mention this to me. Tae and Jimin ambushed me in the coffee shop this morning. Does this dude shit rainbows? Do his nipples taste like beer?” Seulgi ignores him.

“I did a reading for you last night, by the way. Pulled The Moon and The Sun. Interesting combination. Even pulled The Lovers right afterwards. Very telling,” she casually said from her reclined position on the beat-up couch against the wall of Yoongi’s studio. She kicked her feet over the arms, looking at her nails nonchalantly. She held out an iced Americano to him as a subtle peace offering.

Yoongi swivels to face her, elbows on the arms of his office chair and hands clasped together.

“Stop meddling. Who told you? Was it Jeongguk? I’ll wring the kid’s neck,” he demands in an accusatory tone snatching the drink from her. He squints at Seulgi, disgruntled but still gulping down the coffee anyway.

“I’m not meddling, I’m helping. There's a distinct difference. And I’m not telling you out of sworn secrecy and also for their safety. Though full disclosure: I was also bribed with a four-pack of the seasonal Dogfish Head that costs like $20 to keep their identity a secret,” she punctuates with another loud sip.

“You're too soft. You succumb too easily. But that's a fair trade, you’ve been haunting more liquor stores as of late to find it.”

“I’m honored that you think my haunting location would be a liquor store, peaches.” Seulgi says, coy and sarcastically sweet, pressing a hand to her heart. Yoongi is able to read through the lines.

“Anyway, I’m here to help you get laid. I don’t trust Tae’s fashion choices. A wide-legged pant? In this economy? And Namjoon is mostly useless at this kind of thing. How he managed to con Jin into dating him is still beyond me.”

"They're not dating."

"...Are you sure."

"No, but I'm sure they don't know that they're mostly dating."

Regardless, Yoongi groans, on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum like a five year old. Or like Jeongguk if he doesn’t get his way. Hell, even Jimin. Deep breaths, says the voice of his therapist echoing in his head. Let things happen sometimes. It’s not worth it to pick a fight, especially not with Seulgi.

“Fine! Fine. I’m too tired to argue with you today. Now, go back to the art kid cave where you belong. Dank and reeking of paint thinner. It’s horrible, I’ll never visit again.”

Seulgi clucks her tongue at that. And takes yet another loud sip.

“Hell yeah, I’ll be at yours around 7-ish. Don’t work too hard cause you gotta get laid tonight. I hope you’re ready to wear the tightest jeans you own,” she says, absolutely and positively delighted. She shakes her now cup of ice at him like a maraca. Yoongi rolls his eyes, a soft smile threatening to grace his face. He quickly snaps back to a stony-faced demeanor. He can’t show weakness around her.

“Leave, oh my god. I swear to every deity, if you Houdini your way into my apartment before I get back I’ll sacrifice your Rillakuma plush to the devil.”

“I’m totally gonna be in your apartment before you get there. Toodles!” Seulgi slinks out the door, walking backwards until it’s just her hand waving through the crack of the doorway.

Yoongi may or may not start to scribble lyrics about suns and moons and stars and fate and destiny. And he definitely isn’t writing it on Kumamon notepaper that Seulgi gifted him. Nobody has to know.